We used Alex's "UP THE BLUE" quickplay rules based off of Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargame rules and it seemed, at least to me, that the players heartily enjoyed themselves.
While not necessarily linked, each combatant paired off against another combatant and fought a scenario based off of the action of their historical counter-parts. The scenarios were based off of a specially selected scenario from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames book that matched the situations that the units found themselves in.
There were 3 separate games occurring as per the map above, in sequence with each other. My scenario was "Flank Attack" in which I had to hold a strategic hilltop against the British counterattack with 7th Hussars using forces from Panzer Regiment 5.
The center scenario (Dave played the South African-Brits in the center) was a real meatgrinder with an "up the middle" assault against prepared nightmare positions and on the extreme left, the Italian Ariete Armored Division fought a meeting engagement battle with the British 22 Armored Brigade.
|Alex explaining the rules|
|More lavishly painted and equipped Germans (much nicer painted than mine!)|
|My German support platoons|
|More hardware! (that starbucks cup is one of the reasons I was late....)|
|Setting up for the battle. The 2 x green felt pieces in the center were the South African prepared positions.|
|Note the line of German armor in the center ready to step off. On the far right, Italian Armor is forming up to meet the British advance|
|British 7th Hussars!|
|Suddenly I'm feeling a little vulnerable|
|Dave's hilltop and prepared positions turned out to be a very tough nut to crack.|
|Casualties mounting but we're in good shape so far.|
|Ahhh that's more like it! Armor reinforcements and my mortars present for duty and right on schedule.|
|British Armor maneuvering and German armor (upper right) beginning the advance. I had some traffic problems getting the tanks into positions but it all worked out.|
|2 more hits and they're toast.|
|Dave's fighting positions are loaded with artillery and infantry, along with roving killer AT portees. He'd use them to good effect too, forcing the Germans to advance straight into a killing field.|
|Meanwhile to the far right of my position, British armor (armour?) moves into position - there's a massive column of Italians coming down the same road!|
|And here they come!|
|German Panzerkiel moves out!|
Lots of back and forth, thrusts and parrying as he takes out a platoon, I take out a platoon.
|Action on the far right - British maneuvering to get a jump on the Italians. Looked like a fun game.|
|My armor on the left crossing the start line with 3 hits already!|
|British tanks move close to my position on the hill.|
|Overwatch positions. They'd pretty much stay here at the startline the entire battle.|
|Meanwhile in the center|
Most of the tanks end up shooting each other to pieces and are driven off on my side of the board. The end of the first battle on the flank leaves us with a platoon of British guns, and a platoon of German armor with my infantry still holding the hill.
The second game we played, the British player focused most of his efforts at the hill and pretty much had it sacked by turn 10! I conceded the battle at turn 12 i think when it was obvious the British tanks would reach the hill and my infantry were driven off.
|The first assault is held at bay - just barely!|
We decided to play one more game with the same forces and same sides. This time the British player changed his strategy to use more firepower against the hill right out of the gate and my AT guns barely last 3 turns! Not good!
|Reinforcements fresh off the boat from Europe! I replaced them with my painted troops. No wonder they did so poorly in the second battle!|
My strategy doesn't really change from the first battle. I'm working on whittling away at the british armor with my indirect fire and tank guns. Just the presence of 3 German Panzer III platoons on the British left is enough to keep some of his armor from moving over to assault the hill.
|My mission in life is to destroy the recce cars. I think I succeeded in that - even if I did lose the second battle!|
|hits on the guns already. The British armor would be up in my business so quickly I didn't have much time to rally off the hits|
I pretty much stopped taking pictures after that and was focusing on playing the game and watching the rest of the game in the center. This is probably the 10th or 11th time I've played Alex's "Up the Blue" rules and I really enjoyed them. Lots of decision making, plenty of combined arms opportunities, and the units act like real units for the most part. Some of the observations I noticed, for better or for worse were:
Some of the guys noted that the dug in infantry were taking a serious toll on advancing armor. I personally attributed this to small AT guns and anti tank rifles at the platoon level, maybe even prepared obstacles or mines placed in the desert. Either way, it was an observation I'm putting down for Alex's notes as he continues to build his rules out.
Also noted that the inclusion of off-board heavy artillery made a huge difference on the game and on the decisions of the players. Even though I was one of the loudest voices for this kind of added feature, my heavy artillery gave me a massive advantage and made life really difficult for the British. I'm not sure if it was impossible, since the British did win the second game, but it basically ensured that I'd be wiping out a tank platoon every 2 to 3 turns. So something to consider. Perhaps both players have the capability, if at all. Or use a dedicated, single spotter stand for off-board stuff?
Personally, I'm a big fan of the rules and will continue to play them. From what it seemed like, the guys got into their games and seemed to have a really good time. Mission Accomplished!
Also worth mentioning that I bought the ruined train station from Novus Designs during their Black Friday sale! Ponyri Station next July anyone? I'm already starting work on rubble drop-terrain!