Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Salerno 1943; Defensive Action

Played a defensive scenario at Salerno today taking place on "Black Monday" 13th September 1943.  This action saw a large Kampfgruppe from Battlegroup Kruger attempting to drive a wedge between Allied beachheads.  This action depicts a powerful German infantry battalion with armor support trying to seize a ford and drive south.  I'll let you determine who you think won the battle...
Elements of Kampfgruppe Kruger moving out

German command element and support platoons

Elements of Kampfgruppe Von Limburg

German units approach the ford.  note teh smoke stand from the 81mm mortars in the background
You can see elements mostly of Battle Gruppe Von Kruger here however the Pnzr IVF2 is from the Kleine Limburg group.  Conducting an armed reconaissance towards the American positions, KG Limburg discovers the bridge is out and heads for the ford.  Meanwhile, the ford is guarded by American Artillerymen in light, improved positions, and 1 platoon of Shermans.
American ad-hoc platoon waits for the Germans to attempt a crossing

American positions - note the FO behind the weapons platoon.
The Americans attempted to attrit the Germans along their advance by throwing 155mm shells at them the entire way, however they failed their cohesion rolls multiple times and ended up figuring out at the last minute that they could alternate firing batteries of 155 and 105, thus ensuring Steel was raining down EACH Turn.  This didn't happen like that , however Artillery was able to garner about 90% of the casualties against the Germans by the end of the game.

The Germans forced their way slowly (no halftracks yet )  up to the ford and made it without any significant casualties from American artillery fire thanks to the bad rolling.

However, the Germans starting bunching up at the ford and that's when the American artillery fire got better.  The Americans were able to call in a "duration" fire mission on both sides of the ford with 155mm HE as the lead German elements were coming across.  (by the way, 2 knocked out AFV platoons effective block the ford from fire).

2 German infantry and 1 German Stug III platoon managed to make it through as the Artillery was falling.  My US redlegs close assaulted the Stug but did not manage to do much to it except suppress it.  Next turn, with final protective fires falling on the riverbanks, the Germans on the US side of the shore were forced to fight it out with the Americans.  1 German platoon knocked out the US platoon close-assaulting the Stug, while the other German platoon engaged the right US platoon with fire.
Here Comes Gerry!

Friendly fire!

US close-assaulting the German Stug unit on the near shore

Germans close-assaulting the US platoon

advance!  attack!  assault!

Trying to get across - us arty fire blankets both shores


The German commander made a stupid move and tried to move his reinforced company through the ford.  (Halftracks would have been critical at this juncture) and KG Limburg lost 75% strength in one turn from US Artillery.  Lesson learned.

Next the Germans successfully moved a Panzer IVF2 platoon across the river ford with  no issue.  They over-ran the remaining US units on the far bank.
Germans attempt to rally their forces on the far bank.  Note the close combat in the background!

German AFVs cross the ford - reinforcing the bridgehead!

Over-running the final US stand

The fight was over.

The final analysis - I'm not sure who won - the US Artillery fire would last the duration of the game (from turn 8 all the way to turn 15 so the remaining German infantry could not get across at that point).  So on the far bank, the Germans had 2 AFV Platoons and 2 Infantry platoons.  1 more loss and the Germans would have forfeited the game anyways.  I think the US team bought some time and because of the scenario constraints, 1/2 of the German units would not be able to exit the map.

Halftracks retain their defensive value when moving in GHQ's rules.  So - if you dont want to get chopped up by artillery fire - use halftracks.  On the same token, if you're the defensive player and really want to multiply your combat power, artillery is essential.

DONT TRADE ARTILLERY FOR CLOSE-IN SUPPORT OR ASSAULT GUNS!  I made that unfortunate mistake and traded in my 150mm Artillery for a Self Propelled 150mm Assault gun.  My thoughts were that I could keep out of line of sight of the FOs until I got to the ford, then I could blast the US platoons to hell.  Didn't happen that way.  THe sIG pretty much remained suppressed/disorganized the entire game until it rallied and attempted to cross the river.  It was blown up in the process...

The Germans could have used that smoke to suppress the Americans on the far bank instead of only having 1 stand of 81mm mortars.

Forward Observers should always travel with the main element.  In this case I had them back at German HQs...

I need more anti-tank and transport for all of my armies to make a difference in engagements.

Lastly, if you have an armor-weak force, you should conserve your armor.  Instead of pulling back my vital Sherman platoon, I brought it forward and it was cut to ribbons by the Germans with their accurate AFV fire...  Should have placed them farther back to counter-attack and act as an insurance policy against breakthroughs.

Here is a link to the Scenario from GHQ's page.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Model Vehicle Inventory

Vehicle ScaleMakeNationQuantityNotes
Stug III15mmBattlefrontGRM4
Pnzr VIA15mmBattlefront  GRM2
Pnzr IVF215mmBattlefront  GRM1
Sdkfz 25115mmPSCGRM5
M4 Sherman15mmBattlefrontUS1
M4 Sherman15mmPSCUS5
T34 7615mmBattlefrontRUS3
T34 7615mmPSCRUS5
1 sIG 150mm15mmBattlefrontGRM1
M4 Sherman 15mmBattle HonorsUS3
T34 7615mmBattle HonorsRUS3
Stug III20mmArmourfastGRM2
Sdkfz 25120mmArmourfastGRM2
Sdkfz 23420mmItaleriGRM1
Pnzr IVF220mmArmourfastGRM2Need to Build Schurtzen
Pnzr IVG20mmItaleriGRM1
Pnzr VA20mmUnknGRM1
M4 Sherman 7620mmArmourfastUS2
M4 Sherman20mmArmourfastUS2
T34 7620mmArmourfastRUS2
Pnzer IIIG20mmAirfixGRM1Need to Build Schurtzen
M2A3 Bradley 20mmBravo TeamUS2
M1126 Stryker20mmBravo TeamUS1
PT 7620mmAnyRus1
T-80 MBT20mmAnyRus1
M1025 20mmAnyUS2
M1A2 MBT20mmAnyUS1
M2A3 IFV20mmAnyUS1
Sdkz 23415mmBattlefrontGRM2
Sdkz 251/915mmBattlefrontGRM1
3 Tn Opel Trk15mmBattlefrontGRM3
2.5 Tn Trk15mmBattlefrontUS3
M3 Halftracks15mm BattlefrontUS4

I realized I had too many 15 and 20mm Models without making an inventory.  Now I can order more efficiently.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jungle Terrain "On the Cheap" PALM TREES!

Continuing the tradition of getting the best, cheap wargaming terrain I can find, I am happy to deliver these little gems.  They are cake-topper palm trees (for birthday cakes):

Guarding the cookies
 They are palm trees (coconut but who cares?  Have you seen how much the HO scale ones cost at the hobby shop???) 

Here they are pictured next to one of my based Caesar 20mm 1:72 scale American troops.  He's probably not clothed correctly for the South Pacific but we'll remedy that once we paint up some of those IMEX Korean War troopers to look like US Marines in the South Pacific in WWII.  Just need to buy some Japanese now....

Here is the best part - they were .99 cents for 2 of them!  I bought 8 packs - enough to litter a jungle battlefield or make a nice, thick desert oasis.  If you couple them with some lichen or some nice, thick aquarium terrain from a Pet Supply Store (for about 5 bucks US) you will have a nice little battlefield. 

Additionally, I am going to base them, however that is not necessary as they come on relatively stable bases.

Here is the website where you can order them:  http://www.treasuredbirthdays.com/

I highly recommend them.  And that is your terrain on the cheap for the month!  Huzzah!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Battle of Piedmont- Volley & Bayonet AAR 5th June, 1864

Greetings Everyone,
After a short hiatus I have finally gotten an ACW game in.  I played the Battle of Piedmont with Volley & Bayonet rules.  The Scenario comes from GHQ's excellent MicroForce ACW Scenarios available for free on their website.

Battle pits a Union Force against a roughly equal Confederate force to seize the town of Piedmont, West Virginia. 

Make no mistake about it, this game was sharp and brutal.  It has been a long time since I played a good ACW Battle with Volley and Bayonet and the ACW games always turn into meatgrinders with improved small-arms, artillery, and longer ranges.  Surprisingly this battle turned out 180 degrees differently from its historical counterpart and in this posting, I will explain why!

Yanks coming from the North.  Rebs defending the town.  Each  unit pictured is a Brigade.  Perfect for a small Volley & Bayonet battle!  (Picture is from GHQ)
Initial Dispositions - from Piedmont looking North.  Rebel positions are clear except for the small knoll to the north-west where a menacing Rebel Battery (The Marquis Battery!) sits.
Opening moves saw the yanks get into position.  This battle was 12 turns long and pitted 2 smaller Union Divisions against a very large Rebel division which would bring with it unique command and control issues for the Rebs when they needed reinforcements.

View from Piedmont looking North
The illustrious Maryland Battery.  THeir careers would all end in 2 turns.

Harper's Brigade in defensive positions.

BG Sullivan

Looking towards Piedmont, WV

Sullivan's Division deploys for battle

The Union advance through the valley would have to be cautious.  Both Divisions had very low (dangerously low) exhaustion levels of 5 and 4 respectively.  Essentially, if they lost 1 Brigade, the Division would make an exhaustion test.

The first 2 moves saw Stahel's Division attack the knoll to eliminate the Marquis Battery.  With its 1 Brigade out of place, they would not be able to go in with 2 Brigades, but 1.  Luckily they had Artillery support.  Here's where that battle got them...
Wyncoop's BDE moves to flank the hill!

Melee on turn 2 - this would end badly.

They fall back with heavy casualties,  Stahel moves to rally the boys to make 1 more charge.

Wyncoop's Brigade moved to flank the hill while the 5th NY Arty poured fire on them.  The fire was ineffective and unfortunately the Rebel Battery went Stationary at the end of turn 1, and mde its free facing chance to meet them, HEAD ON!!  So at the very beginning of the battle there would be a heroic Union advance through shot and shell to take out those guns via a frontal assault from hampering further advance of the main effort.

The Union Commander FORGOT that dedicated guns could fire in support as long as there was an open fire lane so I missed the opportunity to eliminate the battery on the first round of melee.  So Wyncoop's Brigade fell back.  Next turn they carried the position but the brigade was eliminated from horrendous casualties.  Stahel's Division reached exhaustion already!!  And it's second Brigade had not even been committed.
5th NY Artillery atop the knoll, deployed for battle.  You don't see any Infantry up here because the Brigade was wiped out...
On the Union Left, the main advance was underway as Moor's Brigade crossed the river with Dupont's Battery firing in Reserve.  I am giving Dupont's Battery battle honors as they eliminated the Maryland Battery in a vicious long-range artillery duel over 2 turns.  They also were credited with shoring up the bridgehead for the advance.
Action front!  DuPont's Battery fires against the Maryland Battery to support the crossing.

Moor's Brigade is visible after the crossing. 

Moor's Brave Ohio troops advance.

DuPont's guns, red hot from the fighting.

Moor's attack

Moor's advance moved swiftly across the valley, passing the wrecked Maryland Battery and engaging Jones' Brigade in melee.  They lost but by a slim margin.  At this point, I realized again that I could have had a fire-land open with DuPont's Battery firing in support.  It sounds simple, but so necessary.  It's an extra attack die you get!

The Reb's counter attacked with Harper's Brigade who was in the fenced in field.  They attacked Moor from the front and flank and it was pretty much "game over" for the lads.  I can only imagine what that carnage would have looked like in real life.  Makes me think of the railroad cut at Gettysburg, or worse, the Guard at the end of the Battle of Waterloo.  Mark Sullivan's Division with an E for exhaustion as well.

Moor's initial attack - you can see Harper's BDE behind the fence in the background

The aftermath of the Rebel counterattack.  Harper's Brigade is in the upper left of the picture.  Thornburn's Brigade stands alone.
After Moor's Brigade evaporated, the battle was essentially finished at turn 8 of 12.  This was historically a major Union victory but in this instance, the scenario, in my opinion, wasn't set up properly for Volley & Bayonet.  I used the number of Regiments, NOT the end strength, to determine the composition of the Brigades.  The Union Brigades should have been bigger with possibly strengths of 5 and 6.

 Additionally, the Rebels had a difficult time committing their reserves because everyone belonged to the same, happy Division, with an exhaustion level of 9!  I have never seen a Volley & Bayonet Division that huge before.  When the battle ended the Rebs had committed 1 fresh Brigade from the Reserves South of Piedmont.  I was able to pull Harper's Brigade out of the fight to guard Piedmont incase of an unthinkable Yankee breakthrough but there was simply not enough Union troops to go around.

So how did this battle go?  Well it was a wonderful, brutal little fight that I will play again with updated end-strengths and I will make more use of the Confederate Generals present at the Battle, instead of having 1 overall Division Commander, I may assign one of the Brigade Commanders locally as a Division Commander, and make "Grumble" Jones the Corps Commander.


FIRE LANES:  There is always something to say about Artillery in Volley & Bayonet.  I think by assigning a Battery to each Yankee Division, I was able to maximize firepower, neutralize or destroy enemy artillery, and participate in close combats and firefights with my artillery.  Unfortunately that was an expensive, 3 turn lesson I learned.  Wyncoop's Brigade would have taken the position with a Stationary Battery firing at close range in support, but I forgot about the supporting artillery rule.  I did eventually learn by turn 5 or so...

FIREFIGHTS:  Remember in Volley & Bayonet you don't always have to charge.  I think I may have posted this before too.  You can enter into Firefights with the enemy, which was common to the period as well.  Not as many were killed with the bayonet as you make think.  The Union Forces were faced with a larger number of Confederate units who could sit back and take casualties (sounds ironic and I can't believe I just typed that, but it's how the battle went!) while the Union could not afford to lose a single Brigade.  It was an interesting problem to face as the Union commander for a change.

Fielding a Stationary Post-Napoleonic, improved small arms Brigade equipped with Rifle-Muskets you get lots of dice for shooting and there is no forced retreat for losing either.  So it behooves you to advance slowly, with artillery support, and attack the enemy by fire as well as maneuver.  This is probably one of the most important lessons anyone who plays Volley & Bayonet can learn!  Melees can go badly for you if you roll bad.  In my case, these are GW dice and they make them so all the luck runs out in about a year or so, FORCING you to buy more :)

My compliments to Dave F also, who painted the majority of my Rebel troops on the table today.  Miniatures are 6mm, primarily Adler but there are a few Baccus units in there for good measure.  Dave, I hope I have done justice to your incredible painting skills!  Your troops performed magnificently.  Anything here that looks crappy, it was most likely painted by me.