Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Scenario for the New Year: Ponyri Station

Not much time for gaming or painting over this holiday so I'm reading over the Rapid Fire rules again and getting a taste for "big battles" once again.  That said, I thought I would delve into yet another great project for 2015: Kursk!

I've been wanting to play Ponyri Station for a long time and what a better way to play Ponyri than using "big battalions" as part of the Rapid Fire rules?  Unfortunately for me, I'll have to improvise on some of the weapons values as I only have the 1942 Soviet and German tank / infantry OOBs as well as the Normandy OOB.  Maybe I'll be able to find some of the vehicles from that collection?  Anyone have any thoughts?  I don't have it here with me but I need SU-122, the Ferdinand, and the Stuh as well.

Anyways the scenario I'm looking at is from Mr Bob Mackenzie's Command Decision scenarios specifically Ponyri Smaller - which is the fight for Hill 253 which occurred as a pre-cursor to the Ponyri assault.
Picture courtesy of Bob Mackenzie's Wargame Scenarios Page.  

I put in an order with Game Models for 3 x Ferdinands so I'll be able to showcase them in the battle.  If not,I'll have to use Tigers as proxies...  Imagine if I would have ordered Battlefront how much that would cost me???

Anyways the assault on Hill 253 featured 2 German infantry Battalions with attached StuGs, some artillery, and the PanzerJaeger Abt with the Ferdinands.  Real textbook stuff here.  The Germans have their nebelwerfers and tube artillery support.  The Soviets have a ton of mortars, and some SP 122mm artillery on call behind the main position.

I think this scenario will be tough for the Soviets to win as they're outnumbered 2:1 until they can be reinforced which is on or about turn 8 with a full rifle battalion and tank brigade.  Yes, a brigade of tanks!

No idea when I'll be able to actually play this scenario but it looks like alot of fun.  From what I remember of the few Rapid Fire games I've played are that it offers a quick and clean combat resolution.  Some of the concepts are a little strange as they are a significant departure from other rules sets but once you're used to them, they play just fine.

I've also been taking another hard look at Blitzkrieg Commander once again.  I purchased the second edition and would like to have a go at playing it and seeing what the differences are.

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone has an enjoyable and safe New Years (some of you reading this may already be in 2015!).    See you next year.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Interesting Rules Readings: Neil Thomas Rules & Grand Battery

If you spend as much time hunting on Amazon as I do, you've probably come across some of these rules and/or hobby books below.  I am reading through most of these at the moment and wanted to share my thoughts on simple (though not simplistic) rules.
Ingenious concepts in this book.  Hit-based games where units plink away at one another unit they reach their hit point.  Covers ancients all the way through WWII  

 I currently have in my possession "One-Hour Wargames" as well as "Wargaming: An Introduction" and "Grand Battery."  I am waiting on receiving  Neil Thomas' "Napoleonic Wargaming" in the mail soon.  (got an excellent deal for it, I did).  One Hour Wargames prides itself as being a champion for gamers who are time-challenged, space-challenged.
Excellent games for beginners that whet the appetite and (IMHO) provide a challenging game without too much added complication.  Think Featherstone or Charles Grant.
 Wargaming an Introduction's concepts are a little meatier than the 1 Hour Wargames rules and have a little more of the tabletop wargame features we all know and love. I heartily recommend picking up a copy even if just for the sake of reading through it.

Still in the mail and I cant wait for it to arrive!
The next set of rules I waited for last to talk about since they are famously infamous.  If you do a quick Google search for the Grand Battery rules, you could probably find a blogger who is willing to give them away for free (no lie, I found 2 blog posts written a few years ago).  I don't think I'm willing to part with my copy just yet.  It's entertaining to read, even if it's not very well written.  The complaints I've read seem to center around the lack of good explanations in the book, the NINE page "quick reference sheet(s),"  some points in the book that contradict themselves a few pages later, and a few really in depth reviews mentioned that they felt the casualty rates were not "realistic."

For me - I can say with absolute, infallible certainty that none of the gentlemen who wrote about "realistic" casualty rates ever actually participated in a Napoleonic battle.  That being said, there are plenty of first hand accounts where you can read about battles so their comments may be warranted...

Anyways, I actually like the tables and they're not too daunting once you read through how to read them.  I am not sure I care for the command rules, even though they seem to be the meat and potatoes of the game itself.  But the regimental orders make sense to me.  I think I owe them a spin through to see how they play first before I pass any judgement.

So with that in mind, I will neither praise nor trash Grand Battery just yet.  I think the book is entertaining (half of it is devoted to history and wargaming, and only a short part contain the rules themselves).

Last year I posted a rather nostalgic bit on why we choose to wargame.  For me, "playing with toy soldiers" was the eventual answer I came up with, and I've tried to find suitable rules to complement that interest ever since.  The Neil Thomas rules are certainly in keeping with that tradition and so far I am impressed.  I'd actually like to play a game and see how it goes.  Who knows, any of these could become a staple rules set of mine!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Game Models 15mm Reinforcements Arrived!

My Pre Christmas order from Game Models showed up today and I have to say I am quite impressed with the quality of the order.  Not only was Craig a pleasure to deal with, but the quality of the work is quite good and the price is even better.

I ordered some "test" vehicles and some guns to round out my forces.  I certainly didn't want to pay Battlefront prices or even Command Decision prices for their guns when these will certainly fit the bill.  You can visit the game models site here and view their impressive collection of WW2 vehicles and accessories.

Great packaging and all of the units arrived in fighting shape with no breakage!

Stone walls

Most impressive of the order are the M7 Priests.  I ordered a "battery" of them and they are terrific.  I plan on ordering British armor from Game Models now.  These are amazing!  How much would 3 M7s cost from Battlefront???  These were 5 dollars each.

I also ordered a battery of Wespes.  A wee bit stocky but still excellent for gaming purposes.  I now have 3 of them and saved a ton of money for a vehicle that will spend most of its time in the rear areas of the gaming table.

Panzer IIIM to round out some fighting platoons.  Not a bad model at all!
 Bottom line?  These vehicles and guns are perfect for people who want a readily-assembled army straight out of the box.  They even come painted in a base color and dry brushed.  I may repaint some of them to match other vehicles in the set but I certainly cant complain. You could field an entire Flames of War WW2 tank company for half of the cost as each vehicle is 5 dollars!

Panzer IIIM

75mm PAK 40!!  Just need to give him a crew and he's all set.

The mighty Hetzer.  He will get a snazzy paint job.
 I have nothing but good things to say about the folks at Game Models.  They are doing the entire gaming world a great service.  It's also worth mentioning that if there is a vehicle you are interested in, they will make it for you.   

Now if only they did moderns!!!

stone walls from Game Models.  I bought 2 bags of them as you can never have enough.  These will also serve well for AWI gaming.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Battlegroup: Barbarossa! Christmas Offensive - Merry Christmas!

Greetings and Merry Christmas everyone!

Last night while my wife finished up some odds and ends for Christmas I pulled out the Soviet and German infantry and those "shiny" new BT-7s for a Battlegroup: Barbarossa game and was able to get through half of it with the result still in question.

Last year I played a Flames of War eastern front "Christmas Offensive" on Christmas Eve and I thought I would do the same this year, albeit with different rules.

I played the "Breakout" scenario from the Battlegroup Barbarossa book.  This features a Soviet force attempting a breakout from a German Kessel.  It's nice in early war Barbarossa games to see the Soviets as the attacker.

Also - the claims you have all made about the BT-7 turned out to be....absolutely true.

From the Soviet (attacker) side.  Object is to pass as many units off the far side of the table as I can.
Just because things couldn't be "easy" I rolled double 1s for the German player's starting forces.  2 units would start on the board and no reinforcements due to arrive until turn 3 on a 6 x 4 table!!   I went with the PAK 36 and the HMG stand.  A wise decision as I would later find out.

clank!  clank!  clank!  Soviet rust-buckets.

Urrah!  Urrrah!  Soviets surge forward to escape the Kessel

A Soviet infantry platoon in Battlegroup Barbarossa.  

Yes yes yes this is actually a PAK 38.  Don't tell anyone!
 My German AT gun (the Germans set up first) starts in 10" of trench line along the road.  So naturally the Soviets set up opposite corner of the trench line and are determined not to use the road.  The HMG is also covering the road from the woods nearby.

MG34 on a tripod ready for anything Ivan throws at them

Lonely for the Germans.
 Thanks to the terrain generator, this game would also have Ivan crossing lots of open ground to get off the board.
A Soviet infantry platoon in the lower left and a small Armor force in the upper left.  

The Soviets roll low for the first few turns, thank God for the Germans as all of that infantry stays behind the hill.  The BT-7s stumble ahead towards the objective.

Nearing the Soviet objective.  

Meanwhile, the Germans made good use of manhandling the gun to cover the Soviet objective.  The next turn they place it on Ambush orders!
 Now is when things start to get....interesting.  The BT-7 is unreliable so when the Germans draw a "1" from the BR counter pile, they can play it against the Soviets as a "Breakdown."  The next Soviet turn they race like hell to get to the objective.  That PAK 36 scores a long range hit on the first BT-7 in the clunker's flank.  This gets it a pinned result.  The second BT-7 claims the objective but when the German player pulls his BR counter out, guess what he draws?  A "1".  So he plays it against the remaining BT-7 which promptly breaks down on the objective...

This is going to be hard work for the infantry.  Capturing the objective isn't the boon i thought it would be.  The Soviet TC was seen kicking the tracks of his BT-7 when the Germans captured him.

Soviet infantry jumps into action

platoon forward!

The German HMG punishes the Soviet infantry for moving forward.

German reinforcements begin to arrive

German platoon command team.

 The rest of the night's game action centered on Soviet squads attempting to get close to the Germans to use their light mortars and prepare to over run them.  The Germans focused on banging away at any squads they could see, attempting to keep Ivan at bay.  I dont think I've ever had so many infantry squads "pinned" on the table at one time.

Both force break points are 16.  The Germans are currently at "3" and the Soviets "7."  I don't know when I'll get the time, but I would really like to finish this game.  I feel like I need some more buildings and closer terrain but this game had a decidedly "early war" feel to it.  Just need to field the NKVD "Blocking Detachment"!

Soviets attempt to pin German reinforcements as they enter the board.  THe MG fire earns nothing and the next turn the PAK 36 KO's him...not an auspicious start for my early war Soviets or the stupid BT-7s.  Maybe that's why the BT-7 companies are so large.

Ivan needs to do something about that German HMG fast!

Bring up the mortar, comrade!

This squad continuously failed its rally rolls.
 I like playing with infantry units in Battlegroup because they have such interesting capabilities and large rates of fire.  This game saw some experimentation with Area Fire attacks as well as Aimed Fire attacks.  I have to admit I like the Aimed Fire attacks better (buckets of dice) but if you can roll well, the Area Fire attacks pay off well.
More Germans man the trenchline - the right flank is sealed off Herr Hauptmann!

How the game ended prior to me hearing hooves and boots on my roof.  Needed to get to bed before Santa came down the chimney!!!

I would like to do some more work on the unofficial modern BG supplement we've played in the past.  I have a large amount of 15mm Vietnam troops so I think "Battlegroup: Tet" is also in the works!  Good opportunity to try out all that jungle terrain.  I've also been finishing up my Soviet T-55 (T-62 stand in) force so a nice, fast-moving "Battlegroup: REFORGER" game could be in the cards for early 2015.  I'd like to paint up some more M-48 and M113 units for my Americans but that could be a very fun game.  Where can I find MI-8 models in 1/100 scale???

Lastly, I'd like to take an opportunity to wish all of my readers a very, Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope your day is cheerful and bright regardless!

Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting this blog.

YOUR blogs, gaming, hobby work, and good humor have been a constant source of inspiration for me and my absolute favorite part of the hobby has been interacting with fellow toy soldier/gaming/history enthusiasts from around the world.