Friday, January 27, 2012

Upcoming Projects

Requiem for 6mm...or not?
Maybe I was a bit rash when I said 6mm was dead...  last night I had a few completed 6mm regiments of ACW infantry from adler and baccus sitting around.  One thing invariably led to another and I started ripping them OFF their bases and affixing them to Volley & Bayonet "Brigade" sized bases to make a complete V&B Division and supporting Corps Artillery.  Looks pretty neat and I am going to add grass, rocks, fences, and some other accoutrements to the stands to make them look even better.  *SIGH* it's the Gamer ADD setting in once again!

Disposable Heroes: WWII / Modern
That being said, the other projects on the list have not disappeared either.  Right now I am almost finished with the first couple German and American squads for my Disposable Heroes skirmish units and plan on fielding an American, German, Russian, Fallschirmjager, and eventually British and Japanese platoon. 
I am going to start a series of quick and brutal skirmish actions to get a better grasp of Disposable Heroes by slowly integrating vehicles and bigger support weapons into the mix.

15mm WWII Crossfire
I am always fighting the good fight with my Crossfire minis.  Having completed the Russian Rifle Company, I am almost finished with the American and German Companies as well and as soon as those 2 companies are ready, I'll be able to finally game a good battle with those minis.  I am also going to use them for BKC and GHQ's rules as well.

20mm Peninsular Napoleonics
I have finally started my 20mm Nappies project.  1 Soldier finished....about 400 more to go!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Snappy Nappies

Finally got around to painting a HaT French Fusilier.  I think he came out pretty well considering I was using crappy brushes and had bad lighting.  Anyone who knows me, knows my ultimate objective is to have decent or nice looking troops but the overall goal is to "get them in the field!"  This is the opening shots of my Peninsular Project.  I am going to base a bunch of units for Age of Eagles and hopefully play a few segments of Talavera or Salamanca.  Then once I do that, I'll play a whole, damn battle in Volley & Bayonet!  Huzzah!

This was my first go at a French Soldier.  Note the furniture on the musket - paint had already started to chip off.  I thought I'd get lucky but all of his battle-buddies received a bath prior to prepping.

Unfortunately, with modern HD cameras you can see all of the imperfections (or my imperfections are just that noticeable!) but all in all he looks pretty good I think.  Note the chevrons on his arms and decoration on cuffs.

Needed an osprey book or better reference for his kit.  It didn't look like the Fusiliers had any ornaments on their cartridge box on the HaT packaging.  Just the light infantry and grenadiers.  By the way, the detail on these HaT guys is extraordinary!  

Here he is marching off to find dinner.

The officer and a Fusilier next to our corporal.  It's going to be a long campaign!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Favorites (if anyone cares)

This seems to be all the rage this week on blogger (and last 2 weeks as well) and I used to enjoy doing these personality surveys back in the late 90s so here goes.  

I enjoy reading what people are talking about in regards to their hobbies and leisure and I'm sure that if you're on here reading my blog, then there's a chance you feel similar!  Here is some insight into my favorite periods, rules, miniatures, and games.


 Periods -
  There are so many periods to mention so where does one begin?  Look at the right side of my blog under Wargame Rules and Genres if you want a quick introduction.  Certainly modern mechanized warfare in the 20th century started off this passion for gaming so that encompasses anything from the early 1920's up to and through today.  I suppose that means WWII, and modern wars being 1946 and onwards to include ground, naval, and air. I branched out from that period due to my intense love and fascination with the American Civil War and American Revolution and have robust forces to game engagements in both of those wars.  The Horse and Musket era from early 1700s up to the Franco-Prussian War with the Seven Years War and the Napoleonic Wars being my most intensely read-about periods lately, after the ACW and AWI.  In college, my concentration was Colonial American History if that gives you any indication on the sheer amount of reading and writing I've done in regards to the AWI.
I also enjoy dabbling into fantasy and sci-fi with the Warmaster and EPIC: Space Marine in there somewhere although I am not a huge fan of their current line of games and minis, though Warmaster, Epic, Milton Bradley/GW's Heroquest and Battlemaster were excellent and elegant games.
  

 Rules -
     To understand my rules selections I think you have to understand that I first started my gaming career out as a Board Wargamer, playing Avalon Hill's NATO: The Next War in Europe which is an operational level game of war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact over Germany.  I fell in love with basic Squad Leader and PanzerBlitz and both boxes could have been found on my bookshelf at any time in my life from 1996 onwards up to and including today.  Rules for board wargames, strategic, operational, and tactical have definitely shaped my ideas of battle and warfare and what rules "ought" to include.  Namely the feel of the rules and the manners in which they portray problems faced by commanders.  With that in mind, here is a quick list.
Horse & Musket Rules I love Volley and Bayonet and am convinced there is not a more solid rules set out there to teach basic military fundamental principles.
Tactical AWI Engagements I very much like Guns of Liberty and feel it is the most accurate at reflecting both AWI casualties and tactical problems.
ACW I still love Brigade Fire & Fury.  I would say if you're a die-hard "simulation" guy however, you should purchase Johnny Reb III.  Fire & Fury makes me feel like an ACW General Officer.  JOhnny Reb III just depresses me with its overwhelming casualty rates and the difficulty of carrying a position...any position.
While I have not played a truly "napoleonic" rule set yet, I have played napoleonic battles with Volley and Bayonet and find that rule set satisfying so far.  I own Age of Eagles and am painting up forces for it.
For WWII there are a ton of rules I own and play - GHQ's WWII MicroArmor I still play.  I play Pete Jones' excellent Blitzkrieg Commander and ColdWar Commander, I play Arty Conliffe's Crossfire WWII and modern, and have just purchased Disposable Heroes along with their modern and vietnam supplement.

Figures -
    My WWII and modern microarmor is probably measured in tons and not by vehicle.  I think I have more tiger tanks than the entire third reich did!  All of my microarmor is GHQ.  I don't like how other manufacturers are not as compatible with GHQ and I love the detail of GHQ's stuff.
   Most of my ACW and AWI troops are Musket Miniatures or Old Glory 15mm you cannot beat their value in my opinion.  I am not looking to win any contests or pageants.  I simply want nice looking troops that can hit the field and deliver the volleys of sixes I need!!  For WWII, most of my 15mm are Old Glory, Flames of War (battlefront) with a few peter pig mixed in as well.  All of my moderns are plastic 1:72
  In the skirmish realm and fantasy realm, most of my troops are Caesar 1:72, Armourfast 1:72, Orion, Ykreol, IMEX, Italeri, ESCI, and Revell, although if you follow HO scale plastics, you already knew that since those are primary brands out there.  

My horse and musket 6mm troops are all baccus or adler.  (I own my bodyweight in adler ACW, AWI, and SYW. 

If anyone is interested in purchasing by the way, I am selling them for a very very insanely cheap price.

Influences -
    I would have to say over the years that I have been influenced at first by the excellent TV programs "Fields of Armor" "Firepower" WWII GI Diary and World of Valor on the Discovery channel when I was a kid.  When other friends were going out, I was staying in on Thursday and Friday nights to watch those programs.  I had friends who played battletech, Epic Space Marine, 40k, Warhammer, and of course Heroquest and Battlemasters which I loved.  All of that ensured my continued interest in modern wargaming.  It was a natural evolution that I eventually played historical miniatures.  
Literally the first day of my assignment as a brand new US Army 2nd Lieutentant of Field Artillery, I met my best friend and perhaps most talented painter, researcher, organizer, reenactor, and hobbyist I have ever known.  We both were assigned to the same brigade, battalion, and battery on the same day and spent alot of time waiting around.  Conversation turned to our hobbies and Dave F and I have been great friends ever since.  Dave's passion for history is inspiring and I have to say without a doubt he is the biggest influence on my hobby decisions ever since. (arguably since my wife has power of the purse....)   I dont know if I've ever met anyone with a greater knowledge of the experience of Soldiers, their kit their tools, or their tribulations and experiences than Dave.   


Books - 
   Wow - too many to mention.  Ketchum's books on the AWI are extremely important works and inspiring both for research and for historical miniature gaming.  If you have rules questions, you can almost always refer to one of his books for a definitive answer on AWI combat.  My favorite is Saratoga, however Decisive Day comes in a close second.  Hugh Bichenko's Gettysburg is the most definitive literary recreation of that battle and ANY person who has an interest in the battle should own it simply for its excellent maps, charts, figures, methodology in breaking down events and for his candor in describing the faults of both armies.  Ward's The War of the Revolution is also worth mentioning for AWI as well.  Excellent description of the Armies and decisions by both sides.  For WWII Norm McDonald's Company Commander is a first-rate description, and equally inspiring for the German side is Guy Sajer's "The Forgotten Soldier" which ranks among my favorite books ever.  Patton's War as I knew It is a decent book.  As far as modern books are concerned, Read Certain Victory, if you want a good solid and concise history of Desert Storm.  Steel My Soldiers Hearts for Vietnam  .My all-time favorites are Anton Myrer's Once an Eagle, Ralph Peters' Red Army, Harold Coyle's Team Yankee, and Larry Bond's very interesting books about modern wars in Europe and Africa.  Vortex and Cauldron I think.  Who can argue that Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down" is a good inspiration for hobbying, although with my own experiences in Iraq for over 3 years, I shy away from the movie now...


Movies -
    Waterloo (thanks Dave), Barry Lyndon (just the first hour lol - the rest is all blah blah blah)  The Bridge at Remagen, A Bridge Too Far, Patton, Glory, Courage Under Fire, Red Dawn, Lord of the Rings, Stalingrad, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers Series, Flags of Our Fathers and I dont know why Im mentioning it but I love the ACW massive Combat scene over the bridge in the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Happy gaming everyone.  This list is by no means definitive but I'm waiting for the "roadside assistance" people to come and jump-start my car!!!!!  

Friday, January 20, 2012

WWII 15mm German Camouflage Experiment

Since this worked pretty well on my 20mm guys I thought I would try the same concept out on my 15mm troops.

I am still working on a 15mm German Rifle Company for Crossfire and have some great Old Glory troops with helmet covers as well as smocks (zeltbahns?  can't be sure I'm not that good at identifying and too lazy to go google it right now) to model it for us.

I used the colors in the Flames of War paint guide for German Fallschirmjaegers.  While I am not painting Fallschirmjaegers, I thought the finished product from the FOW site looked pretty good so I went with it.
Why not use the SS Pea Dot pattern you ask?  Well I tried it and I keep bungling it up.  Plus I think it's too dark.  I want to experiment with the reversible smocks as well and see if I can get that cool "dark green on light green" amoeba thing like the Germans had.

Fig in the forefront is an Old Glory 15mm PanzerGrenadier I think.  The plant he stuck in his helmet is a nice touch.

I modeled them next to troops in the standard uniform so you can see the difference.  It's subtle but a nice effect.

Squad advancing.  

Flank shot.
Bear in mind that this stand isn't ready just yet.  I need to redo the basework with some grass, rocks, etc.  Obviously there is still some kit I need to paint and need to finish the boots as well but I wanted to get something out there!

I suppose since I mentioned them you will want to see my 20mm WWII guys as well?  Well don't fret!  I am starting the finishing touches on my Disposable Hero squads this evening.  I will have them out tomorrow.  1 step closer to finally playing that BKC Battle of the Bulge game!

Huzzah!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Golan Heights 1973 CWC Battle Report

Recently fired up my external hard-drive and found this gem - a Cold War Commander battle featuring some of my GHQ micro armor that is currently in storage.

Scenario had 2 Syrian Tank Battalions (T62) and a mechanized infantry battalion (BMP-1) squaring off against an Israeli Armored Company Team and a Mechanized Infantry Company Team in Shot Centurions and M113s.  In the way of support, the Israelis fielded 2 sorties of A4 skyhawks and a Battery of Self Propelled 155mm Artillery.  The Syrians had 1 Battalion of 122mm Artillery and no air cover.

Right from the start, the Syrians rolled a command blunder and a T62 Battalion foundered at the line of departure without moving.  Their objective was a small ridgeline and outpost on the opposite side of the table.
Syrian LD - 2 tank battalions forward and a mechanized infantry battalion behind

racing through the valley!  Syrian lead elements of the 1st Tank Battalion appear in Israeli gunsights!

Israeli infantry team on the ridge!

Israeli tanks in position


Syrian Artillery was able to claim some casualties in the initial pre-registered bombardment but no armor had yet been knocked out.  From the directions the Syrians would come, they would have to cross a kill-sac of Israeli Armor, artillery, and infantry ATGM fire.

Initial positions.  The Israeli Armor Team on the upper left is clearly visible and the Infantry team lower left has pulled off the ridge

Proud legions of T62s advance!

Israeli gunnery was superb, knocking out at least 1 to 2 platoons of Armor per turn.  The A4 sorties didn't hurt either and attrited the advancing Syrians as well, only losing 1 shot down to accurate 57mm AA fire.
Casualties were high in the tank battalions.

The battle unfolds.


Casualties in the 1st Tank Battalion

Israeli infantry back on the ridge and have lost a tank platoon

Syrians attempting an all-out drive towards the ridge ending in disaster

The original Syrian plan had been to launch an all-out assault on the ridgeline where the Israeli infantry was located.  The assault would occur with 2 Battalions abreast, 1 Infantry Battalion and 1 Armor Battalion.  In the end however, the turning movement of the Battalions from their start-point (which was diced for) proved disastrous and also disrupted the Syrian plan.  Instead of offering his flanks to the Israeli Armor, the Syrian Commander turned towards the Israeli Armor, with his BMPs moving in to attempt to dismount on the ridge and close assault the Armored defensive positions.
The end of the battle - the mech infantry battalion of BMPs is visible in the upper right, shattered by Israeli gunnery.

A view of the 1st Syrian Tank Bn and mechanized infantry as it advances towards contact.

The battle turned into a knife fight with the Israelis not losing a single Armored platoon in the Armor Company position, and losing only 1 Centurion platoon at the Infantry position.  I apologize there isn't better detail, however it was quite awhile ago!

In hindsight, the Syrians were doomed from the start given their jumping off point.  A flanking move against the Armored company would have been the preferred method with 1 Battalion shielding the other from the Israeli gunners and moving to flank the ridgeline, then clear it for good by flanking the Infantry.


LESSONS LEARNED:
Use the terrain!  As obvious as this sounds, remember the old adage "if you can be seen, you can be hit.  if you can be hit, you can be killed" this is as old as warfare itself and holds true in modern times.  The modern battlefield is a very nasty place.  Small ridge-lines and outcroppings that can shield armor should be utilized at all costs.  Imagine if a tank battalion would have emerged on the flank of the tank company.  Some intelligence maneuvering would have ensured the Syrians lasted a little longer than they did.  It was an arrogant advance and they paid for it in blood!

Dismount infantry at the right time.  The Syrian infantry died in their carriers.  To quote Patton "what a waste of damned fine infantry".  They could have been postured for a close assault with their armoured support, lending 2 times as many targets to kill.  It would ahve overwhelmed the Israelis and is a sore spot to this day with me!

Purchase AAA.  I can't stress it enough and it's worth the points.  The Syrian self propelled 57s were perfect and did their jobs well, knocking out 1 A4 on a gun-run.  Points well spent.

Give them the tools!  Ensure your infantry or infantry teams have appropriate anti-armor capabilities.  I like cross-leveling a tank platoon or 2 with my infantry and I always equip them with some sort of upgrades!  Never a bad call.

Reserves.  Once again this topic creeps its way into my AARs.  Always plan for having reserves.  I could argue the Syrian infantry was in a reserve role but that wasn't part of the plan.  THey advanced behind the Armor more out of self-preservation than out of good planning.  The Israelis gambled alot on what they had on the line.  Imagine if the Syrian armor attack on their flank had materialized.  Their 4 or 5 Shots would have been used up very quickly in overrun attacks.

As always, CWC is a joy to play and the results are satisfying.  While this battle was historically accurate (even for a fictional scenario), the results were in doubt for awhile and made for excellent gaming.  I like CWC's command blunders.  After serving myself, I can tell you there are thousands of issues (Clausewitz called it "friction") that creep into missions and cannot be planned for and can hold up military movement. Additionally, the way CWC handles supporting arms is elegant in my opinion.  PLayers are more apt to use all of the tools at their disposal than with other games and CWC pays off for using good tactics.

My inspiration for this scenario was "The Heights of Courage" by Avigdor Kahalani in which he describes a desperate action against relentless odds.  One of my favorite books!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Next Projects...

Happy to report the Hubbardton Battle project is complete!  With all Regiments painted, based, flocked, and ready for action!  I will play the Battle of Hubbardton using Guns of Liberty as my rules of choice for that engagement.

That being said, it's time to look forward to the next batch of projects!  After analyzing 4 potential new "Horse & Musket" Projects, I decided with Dave F's help, to finally start my Napoleonic Project.  I'm going to build a large Napoleonic Force to game either Salamanca or Talavera, with a few smaller battles in Portugal in between.

This came as a result of tough deliberation - especially with the scale size choice.  I'm going to resurrect my 10mm Napoleonics and repaint many of them.  They are a conglomeration of GHQ and Old Glory 10mm.  While the GHQ are more difficult to paint, the Old Glory guys are a joy to paint and frankly they paint up very quickly.  I am very much looking forward to putting these guys in the field.  I also have quite a few officers and artillery supporting them.  I also need to start painting up the cavalry as well...


The French Army assembled!  4 Age of Eagles Brigades arrayed for Battle.

British Brigade takes position in a field behind a low stone wall waiting for the French advance - note the field battery in support!
 

Additionally there are some more projects that bear mention.  I am still working the World War II Crossfire Project.  With the Soviet Rifle Company complete, I am moving on with the US Rifle Company and the Germany Company.  The German Company should be interesting as I am experimenting with different types of camoflauge.  The German Company is 15mm and that also brings me to my 20 mm Project!  While the 15mm guys are being based for Crossfire and my other favorite WWII rules (BKC, GHQ, etc), my 20mm guys are being individually based for Disposable Heroes!

I aslo have a large amount of 20mm moderns for Disposable Heroes' modern supplement "Seek Out, Close With, and Destroy" (which arrived in the mail today!)  I have a bunch of modern troops from various campaigns to include modern brits, french, chinese, russians, muhj fighters, chechen rebels, and of course us infantry.

My moderns project include modern crossfire, and soon?  the Disposable Heroes modern variant. 

And finally, to highlight the next in a series of projects I want to start (re-start actually) are my 20mm warmaster project.  After Rattenkrieg's Demise, the empire has seen fit to send additional regiments north and hunt down the orc menace before it makes it any farther south.  It is rumored they have taken long trains of artillery with them as well as the knights panther....

Should be an interesting year...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Brandywine, 1777 After Action Report

Played my largest Volley & Bayonet action today with the Brandywine scenario in the Volley & Bayonet rule book!  I have a few observations from the game.  While the victors are predictable, there are some observations as well as shockers that took place during the game I'd like to cover.
First of all, here is the battlefield (played in centimeters instead of inches)
Facing North.  Dilworth is visible on the right of the table.  There are 4 major fords over the Brandywine Creek which runs North to South.  While you can't see the hills well, Chadd's Ford dominates the southern-most ford, followed by Brinton's Ford to the North, Jones' Ford, and Wistar's Ford to the north of that.  The objective for the British is two-fold with an over-arching strategic goal:

The British Objectives
Capture a road to Dilworth leading across the Brandywine
Capture Dilworth

Destroy the Continental Army

The Continental Objectives 
Defend Dilworth
Defend the roads from Dilworth leading to a ford.

Looking at the map and taking into consideration the objectives, the game seems almost impossible for the Continentals to win.  Historically, they were defending the fords when Howe flanked them operationally and appeared on Washington's flank with an entire, powerful force.  The rules reflect this situation by forcing the Continentals to set up defending the fords.

I placed my most powerful divisions with Artillery support against the fords in stationary positions with a small infantry reserve commanded by Washington himself.

The British moved first with Cornwallis' Wing and Howe striking south for Dilworth and Knyphausen's Wing attempting river crossings in force at each of the ford positions.  By the way, the rules for fording are excellent.  I could only assault with 1 Regiment at a time and they could only move 1/2.  This made for some excitement and the outcome of the crossing operations were always in question - just like in real life!
Guards Battalions advancing!  Howe is personally leading them into battle.  Note the Hessians under Von Donop on the road behind the house.

The first Brigade cannot cross!  No movement left this turn to complete the crossing.  Troops from Greene's Division watch on.

The Second Brigade crosses, makes contact and disorders itself automatically.

The Reserve Brigade (actually highlanders but I have no highlander units modeled!  Old Glory line troops will have to do!  Pictured here are troops from the famous 42nd Highland Infantry and the 91st Highland Infantry.
The Hessian Brigade - they would have a bad time the entire battle 
The river crossing operation, speaking from the standpoint of the headquarters was a mixed bag.  2nd Brigade was successful, 1st Brigade was not.  The Highland Brigade was successful and the Hessians, while they were able to get into the ford, were not able to press home the attack against stationary Continental Artillery and troops from Stirling's Jersey Division.  They would break 2 Regiments against Stirling's position and reach exhaustion quickly.

Immediately Washington moves Stephens and Wayne's Division north to meet Cornwallis' wing on the hills Northwest of Dilworth.  It seems like an avalanche is bearing down on the Continental flank.
Meanwhile the crossing operations turn into a slug-fest.  First Brigade finally manages to cross and slugs it out with Sullivan and Green's Divisions on the shore of the Brandywine defending Wistar and Jones' Fords.  The Highland unit start to slice through at Brinton's ford and are quickly counter-attacked by elements of Stirling's Division in Reserve.  Meanwhile the Hessian Division at Chadd's Ford routs and exhausts itself.  Chadd's Ford was an impregnable fortress that I am not sure even the Highland units could have fought through in this game...

At that moment the lightbulb clicked in my head as well.  Given the victory conditions in the game, the Continentals had already lost.  Sure they were holding their own in tactical engagements, but the lack of maneuvering meant they would most likely die in place.  The British wanted them to fight!  And there were no victory points for exhausting British units, only Americans, most of whom were teetering dangerously close to exhaustion.  Additionally, the rules are strict - each player has only 7 turns to accomplish his plan.

Decision time!  As General Washington, do you pull back from the river and risk getting cut to pieces during a retrograde?  (remember the militia rule in Volley and Bayonet!  Non-regulars do NOT get a free facing change as this battle occurs before Von Stueben's reforms take effect).  So each facing change costs half your movement.  You don't ahve much time to effect a fighting withdrawal towards Dilworth at this point.

Your other course of action is to fight your way through Knyphausen's Wing and cross the Brandywine yourself, opening up a seam to retreat units through, or die trying!  The British sealed off the road north and the rules stipulate you can exit as many units off of the western edge as you like (which also happen to be the British starting point so its crawling with them).  You don't lose any points for retreating divisions off the map.  At this point though, most of my units are decisively engaged.  The only plan I could execute was to hold off the British from Dilworth - talk about do or die!

Speaking of die (dice) you won't believe what happens either.  While the Hessians are essentially sitting there staring at Stirling (sitzkrieg lol) at Chadd's Ford,  The Continentals launch a limited assault with Stephen's Virginians and Wayne's Division.  While Wayne breaks himself against the Hessians, he does rout 1 Hessian Regiment but what happened next is beyond belief!  Cornwallis' Wing attempting to push the Continentals off the slope loses each melee and 1 Guards Battalion, as well as 2 Grenadier Battalions suffer a hit.  (they only get 2 hits before evaporating).

Washington, in personal command of Stephen's Division, then moves them out of the woods and they attack the Grenadiers and the Guards northwest of Dilworth in the open.  I couldn't believe my eyes - they destroy a Guards Battalion, and 2 Grenadier Battalions.  While this was extremely lucky dice rolling, (especially in 1777) I was astounded with the results.  If the Americans had 1 more or 2 more turns, they might have occupied the northernmost road towards Dilworth, despite British Breakthroughs by the Highland units in the South.

The end of turn 7 still finds the British in command of Wistar's Ford with artillery moved over to the Eastern bank, protecting the Bridgehead.  Knyphausen's wing has linked up with Cornwallis' Wing in the North and the British now present a solid line against the Continental force.  
BRIDGEHEAD!  Elements of 1st and 2nd Brigade link up as the Royal Artillery deploys its battery to cover Wistar's Ford.

Additionally, Greene's Division collapses and 2 more divisions reach exhaustion on the Continental side, 1 point short of the 5 needed for a "tactical victory"

The Continental units attempt to attack the Hessians at Chadd's Ford and lose the close combat...  Washington's only hope is to escape South with his forces.  His small tactical victory on the Hills northwest of Dilworth may have enabled him to do that.

LESSONS LEARNED
There's always a take-away when you play Volley & Bayonet!  Here is a quick run-down of what I learned from the Brandywine Scenario:

Mission Objectives:  Stay within the parameters of your objectives.  Order your units into action based on those orders.  What a simple and obvious lesson but in this scenario, the objectives are subtle and not black and white.  While it's tempting to hold the British at bay and hold onto real estate, the clock is ticking!  In this instance, it was feasible for the American player to preserve his combat power and exit units off the map instead of standing up and exchanging blows with the British.

Ground Scale:  Proper analysis is required when playing at a condensed ground scale.  I think the time constraints should have been adjusted for changing the ground scale to centimeters.  Simply swapping 1:1 doesn't work.  Since the map was altered, the turn sequence should have been altered as well as the distances change when the ground scale changes.

River Crossing Operations: If possible, when conducting a river crossing, use artillery to blanket the troops opposing you on the other side.  If none is available and you still have to cross, try and use "elite" troops when crossing the obstacle.  Remember to time movement correctly - units lose 1/2 their movement during fording operations and you can only squeeze 1 unit across per turn.  In the British case, there were 4 different spots at which to force a crossing.  Had there been only 1 or 2 the result could have been different.  The Artillery was the celebrated arm in this case because it did a great job of inflicting damage on crossing units as they were making their attempt, during their morale checks, and during melee.  At least on the continental side, artillery saved the day.

Elite Units Take Casualties!  For some reason, I think players (at least myself) tend to use elite units more often as a spearhead of an attack or the bulwark of a defense.  Unfortunately when playing at the Regimental Scale, even elite units only have 2 strength points.  THey bleed quick and if you happen to roll badly, you can lose them.  Conserve elite forces and include them in reserve if you have more than 1 unit.

"Economy of Force Operations" With the Artillery and 2 Regiments pinning an entire Hessian Brigade down at Chadd's Ford, there was no reason for Stirling's 2 other Regiments to sit still on the hilltop.  While it could be argued that they were a reserve force, and indeed Chadd's Ford was initially a Continental main effort, I think once the northern attack was discovered, they could have easily switched out with a much smaller division and held the Hessians off for just as long.  There simply wasn't a need to committ as many troops to guarding the ford as were present.  They could have b een used elsewhere along the line to either shore up another ford's defense or moved to the hills Northwest of Dilworth to defend against Cornwallis.

"Try a Spoiling Attack" There really was only 1 direction for Cornwallis' wing to go - South towards Dilworth.  With the limited number of turns, the British only had a set amount of time to reach their objective.  I picture the light infantry literally running through the woods to get there.  While Washington's spoiling attack was overwhelmingly successful in terms of what was gained over what was lost (the continentals lost 1 strength point from a state line regiment, the brits lost 2 Grenadier Battalions and a Guards Battalion...) it was borne out of a quick necessity rather than a planned endeavor.  Spoiling attacks in Volley & Bayonet upset the enemy's timetable and enable your own troops to get into position.  (maybe I could have used skirmish troops instead?)

So that is it.  While it was arguable a British victory, I am not quite sure.  There was still alot of combat power on the hills northwest of Dilworth - certainly enough to launch a small counterattack and hold a road junction or 2.  That being said there was also alot more British units around those hills - enough to stabilize the front and continue south, and the light battalion was occupying Dilworth as the game ended.  I give this one to the Brits, but it was a close run affair.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"YOU WILL NOT...DEFEAT...HESSIANS"

  Finally completed my Hessian (actually Brunswicker) Regiment for my Hubbardton Scenario.  If you recall your history, Baron Von Riedesel marches with his Dragoons from their encampment to flank the Americans at Hubbardton, rendering their position untenable.  The last thing the Americans hear is German singing.  There's something to be said of their discipline as well - having gone to college in Vermont, I can tell you I wouldn't want to be marching around in those iron-shod riding boots they went to war in.


They are the last of my units for the Hubbardton project!  (Be sure to watch the video at the bottom)


While their glue is not dry, and the bases are not finished, I wanted to take some pictures and the pictures turned out pretty nicely!  Huzzah!
Hessian Dragoons cleverly disguised as Fusiliers from Musket Miniatures

The Fusilier Battalion in march column,

The glue is still wet!

Color officer.  How did a minifigs guy get in there!!!

Hessian left flank.

The reader will excuse the lack of colors!  Have to print the flag out.

Marching to war singing a rousing German marching song.

Watch for a classic General Gates' rant from the classic movie "The Crossing" starting at minute 3.

I completed a foot-slogging Baron (Major General) Von Riedesel but will showcase him when I complete Brigadier General Fraser.  That is enough AWI for one day!  I hope these Hessians are as stubborn on the battlefield as they were painting and basing...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

If You Go Down to the Woods Today...

While I've posted this before, I'm re-posting to give myself a leg-up on the OOB for this Blitzkrieg Commander Scenario (BKC) which I've aptly RE-named after my Favorite Squad Leader scenario. 

The 15mm Crossfire US and Germans I'm working on will fit in nicely for this scenario - and it isn't a tough stretch to complete the number of stands required - especially considering it's not that many stands per side!

 GERMANS IN THE WOODS


US Infantry Company (+)
1 x CO (CV 9)
4 x Infantry
1 x MG Support Unit
1 x Mortar Support Unit

Reinforcements (reinforced by an Infantry Company (+) OOA Turn 5)
1 x HQ (CV 8)
5 x Infantry Units
1 x MG Support
1 x Sherman 75mm

German Battalion (-)
1 x CO (CV 9)
1 x HQ (CV8)
1 x FAO (CV 8)
8 x Infantry Units
2 x MG Support Units
2 x 105mm Artillery Units (off-board)

Reinforcements (German Company Kampfgruppe reinforces Turn 5 via Mobile Deployment)
1 x HQ (CV 8)
3 x Infantry Units
2 x StuG III (long)

Notes: I had to whittle down the Panzers as I don't have a US Tank Destroyer and only 1 Sherman....  So the Germans lost their Panzer IV platoon - however I up-gunned the German Artillery Tubes to 105mm.  Shouldn't make too much of a difference I don't think.  Can't wait to play this one out.   Summary from the website reads below:



Both sides’ reinforcements are due on turn 5. They arrive using the rules for mobile
deployment, so the HQ in each force is deployed on the board edge on turn 5 and may
attempt to pass a successful command roll on that turn to bring on the remaining forces.
If the roll is failed then they must wait until the next turn to try again.
American reinforcements will arrive within 15cm of the centre of the West table edge.
German reinforcements must dice for their arrival point at the start of turn 5, all
reinforcement units must arrive within 15cm of this point:
Die roll Entry point
1,2 Centre of the South edge
3,4 Centre of the East edge
5,6 Centre of the North edge
Game Length
The game lasts for 9 turns, the German player moves first
Breakpoints
Americans: breakpoint of 3 until reinforcements arrive, 7 thereafter.
Germans breakpoint of 6 until reinforcements arrive, 9 thereafter
Victory
The Germans win a major victory by establishing uncontested control of the village at the
end of the game. The Americans win by preventing this. Control requires a side to have at
least one infantry unit (not support) in the village and the other side to have none.
Map
Play on a 120cm x 120cm table. The terrain should consist of a few low hills and lots of
woods. The village should be set a few cm inside the American half of the table. The
woods count as partial cover and the village as full cover.
Optional Rules
1. Winter camouflage: all German units count as being in partial cover against longrange
fire
2. Dug-in: allow American units to set up “dug-in” as described on p114 of the BKC
rulebook
Design Notes
I have amended the command values for some units from those given in the army lists in
the BKC rulebook. This is deliberate and reflects the respective qualities of the forces
engaged. Players are free to change these values, however this may unbalance the
scenario. American forces total 615 points and Germans 890.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Modern Crossfire - Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2006

Hey Everyone!
I played a modern crossfire game this evening (actually a couple smaller games trying to get the feel for the rules again and implementing some new concepts like IEDs and Fireteam-sized units.  The game takes place in a small urban area on the outskirts of Baghdad prior to the Surge in 06-07.  The fight is against Shia militias in Baghdad.

I took a ton of pictures and I'll showcase them all here on the blog.  Better put on your IBA and ACH - things could get a little dicey from here on out...
(by the way, if you want to know about my inspiration for Crossfire Rules into modern era wargaming, check out Matakishi's Tea House.  He gives a great 2 page methodology for tweaking Crossfire for moderns.  He also has resources for introducing IEDs into Crossfire as well as terrain building).

Game started out with the Americans entering the town from the Mosque Complex.  The American objective is to retake the town to include the government and police building from the Shia Militia of Moqtada Al Sadr's JAM gunmen.  The Americans field a platoon with a M1126 Stryker ICV in support. Each American stand represents a fireteam.
The Shia Mosque - actually a kleenex box with a juice bottle cap on top.
Mahdi Militia entering the board
GIs pulling security in light cover.

American Soldiers pulling security at the Government building - note the crappy bumper number on the Stryker

The Mahdi Militia enter the board and occupy the mosque.  They immediately begin firing at the American security on top of the government building.
A US Fireteam returns fire from atop the government offices towards the mosque.  US Forces had to receive permission to return fire at a Mosque.

Mahdi Militia Men open fire

A militia fireteam charges through the streets towards cover but is eventually brought down by the Stryker's "Ma Deuce"
A short but vicious firefight ensues between the Americans and the militia on the mosque.  Eventually the US Fireteam is suppressed and it enables militia men to flood into the streets down the tree-line street to fight the occupiers.

The Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle swings into action from its cover and the remote operated .50 Caliber machinegun opens up on the militia-men in the streets resulting in a KIA.  (one of my modifications for modern Crossfire is that the .50 always receives 4 dice even when firing at hard-stand brick buildings.  Given the quality of bricks and shoddy construction in places like Iraq, .50 caliber machine guns tend to penetrate more).


The Stryker pulls out to engage along with an American squad


While the battle on the street is won, the militiamen atop the mosque are firing PKMs at the government building. An American fireteam is out of commission and a fresh squad moves up to take its place, eventually silencing the mahdi guns.

  The remaining militia men pull out but the battle for Baghdad is far from over as the American surge heads into full swing...

What an awesome set of games!  Crossfire is still one of my all-time favorite games.  While for the modern era, I think the casualties are a little on the excessive side, for a battle of the scale represented, it might not be.  The Americans lost the equivalent of 2 fireteams or an entire squad but not necessarily all Killed in Action.

The ebb and flow of the action is great and gives the feel of modern day combat at its most desperate.  I switched sides and had the US come in from the mosque on the second round.  After 2-3 games of Crossfire, I'm beat but I have a few observations for the would-be modern infantry gamer to take heed of:

If you can be seen, you can be hit.  If you can be hit, you can be killed.  Crossfire models this superbly and you should choose a covered and concealed route for an advance.  Additionally, defending an objective by placing a unit in a terrain feature NEXT to the objective is a terrific idea, especially if you think it's out of sight of the enemy Forward Observer.

Tips for the "crossfire insurgent player";  small arms, SAWS, and crew served weapons are nice, but you need casualty producing weapons to defeat a modern, mechanized opponent.  The Stryker bounced around with relative ease and laughed off those pesky 7x62 rounds.  Had the insurgents had an RPG, IED in the first game, or a mortar, they could have had a little more flexibility and chosen when and where to mass their forces.

Smoke and HE Missions: As the US or modern mechanized player, purchase mortar fire missions and use smoke rounds to conceal your movement.  If possible, have your fireteams make smoke and use it to conceal rushes from cover to cover.  Could have worked wonder for game 2 when an entire US squad was mowed down during a dismounted patrol by an insurgent firegroup.

Hit the Dirt!  remember, anything you can do to lessen the effects of enemy fire, the better.  You can get your troops to "hit the dirt" and go prone.  THis simulates your troops taking advantage of anything they can find within their immediate vicinity.  It also subtracts 1 die from the bad guy's shot.

All in all, a very fun game that I think I will introduce some non-gamers to (who are interested in military history and gaming as well).  I had alot of fun making the terrain and it's not over yet.  I am going to print out some advertisement posters in Arabic and glue them to the walls of the buildings.  Also some Iraqi street signs as well.  Should be fun!  Next I'll be working on IED markers to place on the roads as well.

The Stryker turned out nice.  It is a 1:72 "Bravo team" stryker that I slapped a coat of testor's medium green on, as well as a grey/black wash and a sealant.  I also painted the water cans and put some crude unit insignia on. This M1126 is from the Army's famous 172nd Stryker Brigade from  Alaska.  The unit that spearheaded the surge (i was there at the time when those poor bastards were told they were staying BEYOND 12 months for an additionaly 90 to 120 days....)

Here's an interesting story also - the buildings are based off actual Iraqi buildings I've seen here and there.  My favorite was graffiti on a wall in As Samawah that said 'we will never submet' and yes, submit was spelled incorrectly.  You see that aptly modeled here.  Go ahead and make fun of the buildings with their crude marker-drawn features all you want!  The point was just to get some troops on the table.  I left the rest to imagination.  Look for more games, with more troops, complicated mission-sets, and more firepower!  Huzzah!


Ali was extremely proud of himself for mastering the english language without the help of google.
Hassan engages the Americans in style - complete with Adidas windpants and Nikes!

American Stryker advances with troops scanning their sectors

The police building with a couple of JAM fighters hanging around outside waiting for Al Jazeera