Monday, May 30, 2016

10mm Quatre Bras. Kind of. Sort of. Not really. Nice Pictures Though!

I was recently looking at my fine collection of 10mm Napoleonic troops and thought I'd take them for a spin with a scenario reminiscent of Quatre Bras (and on the same map taken from the Volley and Bayonet rule book) with the excellent "Black Powder" rules, which I've found give me everything I need in terms of Horse and Musket wargaming.  This would be slightly "bathtubbed" as I dont have enough units to do Quatre Bras by Battalion, but you get the idea.

They came in the same old way...French columns and lines converge on Gemioncort. 
 A lone Netherlands Brigade (actually converted British into Portuguese but different looking than British so I used them) and an Artillery battery guarding the pass until the Prince of Orange (Command Rating 7) can bring up a large column of British troops.

Royal Artillery but they'll have to pass as Dutch I suppose.

French lights menace the front!

French Corps Commander moves the Brigades forward

French battery hurries into position to support the advance!

The British line marching to the rescue!  Arriving at Quatre Bras

Another British column marching on a separate road (Command 8)

French Command Rating of 9 helps and the lead French elements are there in no time.  Another Division is still stalled South of Gemioncourt.

The Dutch volleys aren't impressive...

The French crowd the gap and prepare to storm the Dutch positions

Meanwhile an entire Division sits unable to move.

And the for the British it's the same story.  3 Brigades standing on the road...
More To Follow!  Will the British columns arrive in time?  Will Ney seize QB and change history?  I plan on playing more this evening.

So yes you're thinking that I vowed never to touch another scale miniature except for my beloved 15mm right?  Well you're correct.  But these guys look too good not to play with!  So right now, in the backyard, there are 4 huge paint stirring sticks (the ones you use for a 5 gallon bucket) loaded with spray painted British and French infantry, Cavalry, lights, Generals (Ney, Wellington, Picton sound familiar?) cannon, the whole 9 yards waiting to be painted.

I'm really liking how a massed collection of 3 stands (30 figures) looks compared to my 15mm stands of 12 figures (Sparker called it a "corporal's guard" in one of his posts) and i tend to agree.  Napoleonic wargaming is all about massed blocks of troops and sweeping maneuver.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Axis & Allies Miniatures: Dont Knock it Until You Try It!

I casually wrote off the AA ground-based miniatures game years ago but recently with my foray into hex-based miniature games I thought I'd give them a shot.  I have the rulebook (which is also available as a free, 30 page download here), I have the hex mat, so what if I tried playing it with my 15mm WW2 miniatures?

You can download all of the cards and statistics here, at the Axis and Allies Miniatures card database.  I used their "rifleman" as a rifle section, their MG34 team as, well, as an MG34 team, and used their MG42 team as a tripod based MMG section.  (I had to sub the Pak 36 as a Russian M1942 but it's the same gun so Alles Gut!)

I played the Introductory Scenario from "Schwere Kompanie" which is great as there are a handful of squads and MGs on each side.  The Russians have their 45mm AT gun, and the Germans have a Panzer III.  The Germans must capture the village.  (come to think of it, this will also make a good CROSSFIRE game, which I intend to play soon).

A sleepy Russian Hamlet....or so it appears
 The Germans move up to the line of departure with 2 platoons and a tank in support.  Their mission is to capture yet another village on the map in the endless expanse of Soviet Russia...

This time, however, Ivan has prepared a "scratch force" welcoming committee for them.  5 Soviet squads, an MMG section, and a AT Rifle section lie in ambush, under the watchful eye of the Kommissar and the CO.

Soviet rifle squad w/Degtyarev DP can hear the clank of the tracks of the German tank.

Down boys!  Get down!  Now we wait for Fritz!

A Soviet AT gun awaits the German advance.

Meanwhile to the west, things are starting to move as the Germans slowly creep across their start line and fan out towards the village.

Leutnant Wolfe tells the radio operator to try and communicate to the tankers not to move out too far.  He's seen it all before.  Tanks getting caught in an enemy ambush!

The Soviets move their AT rifle to the sound of clanking tracks.

HERE THEY COME LADS!  The Soviet AT gun jumps into action, and that was all the German gunners needed to see!
 AAM has a nice sequence that allows for simultaneous fire by having both players fire, but applying casualties in a separate phase.  The German Panzer III fires an HE shell at the gun and hits it dead-on as the Soviet crew gets off one good shot that bounces but stuns the crew!  The Pz III is "disrupted" while the Soviet 45mm AT gun is toast!

Soviet shot against the German tank.  3 "successes" [4 or better] which equate to 1 disorder marker.

The round ignites a small fire in the pine forest.  The remnants of the crew scatter, fully aware the Kommissar is a scant few hundred meters away.

A marker for disruption.

German infantry start taking fire from what sounds like a maxim!  This isn't the pushover they thought it would be.

Gerry returns fire!

Casualties are piling up as the walking wounded head back to the aid station.
 The Germans are making slow progress, but progress none-the-less.  Infantry move 1 hex and the village is 7 hexes from the startline!

The Panzer III's infantry support is stripped away by a high volume of Soviet lead.

The Germans approach the village and all hell breaks loose.

The Panzer III crew moves slowly, not wanting to move any closer to those woods!

A sharp, brutal 2 turns worth of close combat finally kills the comissar and his staff team, seizing the village on turn 8.

While technically the victory conditions have been met, no one bothered to tell that to Ivan, who is launching sporadic DP and rifle counter attacks from the woods across the lane.

Well like the title says - don't knock it 'till you try it!  This was a very interesting and fun game.  I think I like playing Axis and Allies miniatures (I cut my teeth on the Milton Bradley Board Game in middle and high school) occasionally and will definitely play it again.  

The systems for battle are very interesting.  You must roll more "successes" (4+) than your opponent's defensive rating.  (most infantry defense ratings are "4").  Much easier said than done!  Each system has a range band of close, medium, and long and has varying numbers of dice at those bands with which to try and inflict hits.

Speaking of hits, 1 hit disrupts any unit.  2 hits kill infantry and artillery, and permanently "damage" AFVs, and 3 hits kill AFVs.  Disruption only lasts 1 turn.  It's a cool system.

Also units have unique and special capabilities that really add an element of "interesting" to the game.  Like comissars, Soviet MGs, German veteran officers, etc.  Soviet MG's must have an officer adjacent to them in order to move!  Soviet MGs can fire twice, and German veteran officers are nightmares in close combat and against tanks.

My thoughts are if know of some youngsters who are liking the "concept" of miniature gaming, then this is a perfect game to introduce them to the hobby.

This was a fun game which I very much enjoyed.  Some games coming up on the horizon include Battlegroup Panzergrenadier Deluxe, Crossfire, and darn it I ought to play a Napoleonics game because according to my schedule, May is Napoleonics month!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ponyri Station: Updates from the Front!

Every day I've been slugging out a few grueling rounds on the Eastern Front either before work or right after world.

All eyes are on the deepening nightmare of the Zitadelle offensive and specifically, the struggle for Hill 253 and the first of May Collective farm.  2 objectives coinciding with the 507th infanterie regiment's drive on Ponyri Station further west!  We pick up where we left off with the drive just leaving the line of departure.  2 German battalions are cautiously advancing into the jaws of the Soviet infantry defense.  Soviet pre-registered fires don't accomplish much and the Germans pour on the left flank, urged on by the presence of the Regimental commander.  They lose some casualties to Soviet rifle and MG fire (1 platoon KO) and the rest of the battalion crashes against the Soviet position on Hill 253 like battering storm surge waves!  Mortars in full support.  They grab a foothold in desperate hand to hand combat for some of the log emplacements Ivan's fighting from!

Round 1 is a bust as Fritz needs a "6" to hit.

German Battalion advances!

Meanwhile the Battalion mortars pour on the fire

supporting the advance

German platoon reaches the Soviet positions and more close quarters fighting breaks out.

Getting up here was easy.  Staying here????
 The 1st Battalion is able to reinforce their gain on Hill 253 yet they are not the undisputed masters of the hill.  There is still a Soviet platoon and command element on the hill.  The Germans, licking their chops are about to fire on the Soviet CO when their momentum runs out (they bust their command roll).
Note the main Soviet HQs in the background!  

Soviets counterattack but are repulsed.
 Just when things look most bleak for Ivan, the 27th Tank Brigade comes roaring (clanking?) atop the hill and immediately counterattacks by fire.  1 German platoon is push off the hill due to the Soviet fire.
 Meanwhile things on the German right at the collective are going much better.  The 2nd Battalion captures the first in a series of hamlets and store houses, wresting control of the Collective away from Ivan one at a time.

Soviet return fire is impressive but fails to do any serious damage.

Kaptain Trotsky surveys the incoming Germans.

2nd Battalion eagerly closes with the Russian defenders

 The Russians, try as they might, cannot get the 1,442nd SP Arty unit to move.  They're planning a warm reception for Fritz up Hill 253 with their howitzers at assault range!

One movement order scores a move but then stalls out.

The mighty 1,442nd awaiting orders!

Meanwhile the Germans are losing their grip on 253.

We've got to do something about those bloody tanks!
 The Russians meanwhile are losing their grip on the collective farm.  The see saw battle that is Kursk continues!

The final Soviet defensive line at the collective farm.  1 infantry platoon and 1 45mm AT gun to hold back an entire battalion.  It doesn't get any more tense than this!


Germans emerging from the cornfield

27th Tank Brigade is calling the shots here!

The HMG platoon moves back behind regimental HQs (hey what are you doing so far up front sir???)

Battle hardened Soviet infantry attack by fire and push back a German weapons platoon!
So a few things I could have done better thus far - no real fire support even though the Germans have 2 batteries of heavies, as well as a nebelwerfer battery in General Support.  The Soviets, who only have pre registered scheduled artillery also have many batteries in support but cannot use it yet, have also remained relatively artillery free, even though a majority of the killing ought to be done by the big guns.  Next time I play this, it would probably be wise to try and incorporate airpower into the mix.  So I guess producing (or actually using) my Fire Support schedule would be wise next time.

I wonder how much differently this would play using "BATTLE"???

Also - needing to check out Jim Bambra's COMBAT HQ next (Darren - that's for you.  Once I actually get the chance to try it out.  I've been reading it on the train and it looks fascinating for this command scale (1:4)