Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019 Blog Updates & Latest WIP

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers out there!  Thought I'd post a quick update on what's been going on in and around the gaming bunker of late.  My lack of blog posting activity is not necessarily an indicator of lack of activity!

As you all know, the campaign is winding down as we're getting ready to move into the final, apocalyptic turn of the Battle of Ponyri Station, Turn 7 or July 11th.  Things have been moving along and you all know I'm a big fan of the "Firestorm" campaigns for their simplicity and success at generating battles.  I've got some big updates that hopefully you've seen already - including the Duc de Gobins' epic and successful defense of both Kastenwald (Kastenwald Crucible) and Ponyri Station (Ponyri Payback).  Jack will be fighting the 6th Battle of Shirokoye Bulotev soon and I will link to that as soon as he posts!*UPDATE*  Jack's forces have done the impossible yet again as elements of 292nd ID capture Shirokoye Bulotev and you can read the battle report at Jack's blog here.

German hard-fought victories at Berezovetskoye, Kastenwald, and Ponyri Station - the Germans will be set up to attack both 1 May and Hill 253 now, regardless of whether they seize Shirokoye.  Nail biting eastern front action at its finest!

In other hobby news, I've started the concept test for my singly-based Napoleonic units on my 10mm Seven Years War troops I've had literally laying around in their packaging since 2007.  This serves multiple purposes so while I'm preparing to start my Napoleonic troopers en-masse, I'm practicing by preparing my Seven Years War troops for the eventual publication of  the SYW variant of the Commands and Colors: Tricorne game.  This allows me to test out my concept of singly based units without actually delving into my Naps (of which there are many, many troops to paint!).

Austrian Dragoons - the reader will forgive the white trim around their tricorne hats - I just think they pop more on the table with the trim although these fellows had black hats without trim.  

2 x Dragoon Regiments based for grand-tactical games

And the Prussian infantry, the scourge of the SYW battlefield!
Infantry Regiment #3 Anhalt - my favorites!

Both of these colors are from the Anhalt Infantry Regiment, but these are actually 2 separate Regiments based for grand tactical games.

These guys are going to look great when the Tricorne Commands and Colors game comes out!

Also working on my US 15mm World War II Anti Tank Gun troopers but they will be the subject of another post.  Also for everyone's info, I'm starting work back up on my 6mm US Cold War and Soviet forces for Team Yankee, etc.  Perhaps a Fulda Gap firestorm coming up in the near future?

I hope all of my American readers had a great Thanksgiving.  I'm stuffed!

Saturday, November 23, 2019


Greetings Blog Fans - update on Turn 6 of the Ponyri Station campaign during the Kursk offensive.  It's now July 10th at dawn.  The Germans are intent on setting themselves up for more tough attacks on Turn 7, the final turn.  The Soviets are slicing into the German gains hoping to upset the German timetable.  Additionally, the Soviets have benefited from having the initiative this turn, which has greatly helped as they set the tempo for the turn.
Note the Soviet and German attacks for Turn 6.  Kastenwalds is over and was a German victory today.

Here is the report sent to the players from XXXXI Corps Headquarters:


Soviet columns have been detected by aerial reconaissance and confirmed by ground recce this morning.

XXXXI Corps is preparing to receive 18th Panzer as a reinforcing panzer division however the current Soviet attack will delay the move over to the offense.

Units should expect strong attacks with heavy artillery support in their assigned sectors.  Units shall make all necessary arrangements to consolidate and improve their positions in order to set conditions to successfully defend and transition over to the offense.

Soviet Attacks:
Armor has been detected in assembly areas in the vicinity of SHIROKOYE BULOTEV and is positioned to assault KASTENWALD at first light.

Soviet forces are massing on 1 MAY and are positioning to strike PONYRI STATION with large amounts of artillery in support at first light.

Soviet Defensive preparations have been detected in the vicinity of BUTYRKI and BEREZOVETSKOYE.

The Duc de Gobin has already completed the battle of Kastenwald (Kastenwald Crucible) with a massive armored meeting engagement this morning, as elements of the newly released 18th Panzer Regiment were moving south east to reinforce their Kamaraden in vicinity of Ponyri.  The ensuing clash ran headlong into Ken's attacking force of KV-1s and T-34s and the fight, using the Iron Cross rules, was something to see!

Still to fight is Jack's battle of Ponyri Station with the Soviet airborne troopers fighting to get their way into the town.  Tomorrow in the gaming bunker we will fight the battle of Berezovetskoye with the Germans attempting to outflank their critical objectives from the south instead of the north and also lock down a Soviet supply source.

The campaign is getting desperate now and not to mention VERY exciting as we wrap up the battles from turn 6 and get ready to head into the final turn, turn 7.

It should be obvious now that large-scale Soviet reinforcements are on the scene and their ability to launch attacks almost as big as the Germans is throwing a wrench in German planning.  But the Germans still have alot of combat power and if they can seize Berezevetskoye and hold Ponyri in turn 6, a victory is still within their grasp, potentially altering the history of the battle and Operation Zitadelle!

Some Thoughts on the Campaign at Turn 6:

I've admitted on the blog now that I've actually enjoyed organizing the campaign as much, if not more, than playing in the battles.  Not only did this inject new life into my wargaming hobby, it has also been a great excuse to get together with good friends both online and in person, and as a result, scores of battles have already been fought over the last 6 -8 weeks across the ocean and halfway across the United States!

Originally I was not sure how a "firestorm" campaign would have worked but it has actually worked out beyond my expectations.  There was no muddling with points or "branches and sequels" and coming up with a million different potential situations to cater to.  The use of the sectors has been super easy but also the design of the map lent itself to fierce battles over key pieces of terrain that were historically fought over by the Germans and the Russians.  I could not have planned that better.

I think if I could do things differently, I would have invited more folks to play in the campaign.  The original intent was to get my small gang here in southeastern Pennsylvania a way to play games.  
When Jack and Darren saw what we were doing and realized that we were throwing dice to determine the outcome of the battles we didn't fight on the table, they immediately volunteered to fight them out for us.  How many of you out there would like having battles complete with maps and OOBs delivered to your email inbox for you to fight on a weekend, no strings attached?  That's exactly what has happened with Darren and Jack participating almost weekly with us.  The outcomes of their battles are discussed while we are fighting ours, and they've been incredibly entertaining to read.  It's also been a great excuse to catch up with both of these guys and I hope to continue this trend into the next series of campaigns.  You didn't hear this from me, but we're thinking Fulda Gap next, and then back to World War II but over in Normandy in the British sector, somewhere near a town called Caen...

Anyways, I guess the whole point of this rant was to talk about what I've learned in the campaign so far.  I've learned that the Firestorm model is incredibly effective at generating battles with a purpose, that running an easy wargaming campaign is a great way to stay connected to friends, and that having battles linked to a strategic or operational goal makes their results more important than a simple pick up game.  For you "grognards" out there that's probably pretty obvious but for me it's been a joy to discover on my own.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


It's been awhile since I posted any campaign results and we just concluded a crazy, dramatic turn 5 with reversals of fortune and gains on both sides!  I know everyone out there has been anxious to see where we are at after this roller coaster weekend so here goes!  The map has been uploaded below:

The Soviets successfully retook Berezovetskoye in a desperate attack featuring all of their heavy stuff including KV-1s, IL-2 dive bombers and troops.  Darren played a huge battle with the entire AO using Field of Battle and the game looked incredible!  At Jack's house, the Soviets attempted a heavy attack at Karpunevka (Snava) and were repulsed in a desperate holding action by the Germans!  (we both thought it was going to be a steamroller, too, but the Germans held on!)

You will also note that the supply situation for both sides has been stabilized somewhat, at least for now with the Soviets actually relieving Hill 253.1.  The Germans were able to resupply their forces in the vicinity of Ponyri and the other objectives as well.

Overlay at Soviet Army HQs - the intelligence officer has pinpointed German positions
Jack and his staff weren't the only ones drawing up plans at HQs.  Check out the maneuver overlay from the Duc de Gobin's HQs!  This is going to be awesome when we switch to World War III!

Soviets seizing Berezovetskoye - note the KV-1s charging in!

Here in my gaming bunker, the German push into Shirokoye Bulotev (the 4th battle of Shirokoye Bulotev) was repulsed with heavy losses, although no loss of firestorm troops.  In Darren's battle, the Ferdinands were lost which means all of the German heavy Firestorm Armor is gone!  Good thing for the Germans there are only 2 turns left in the campaign! 

At Shirokoye, German gunners pound Soviet positions

German platoons on the start line.  Note the Soviets in the woods.  The guns are to their rear, supporting the attack and the Stug platoon will come in behind the objective....if they show

Soviet Battalion Commander will also spot for the mortars

Soviets in the woods are dug in.  They'll have to be dug out!
Artillery pins and removes a stand but the lackluster performance of the artillery was apparent as direct fire accounted for way more casualties than it should have.

Soviets spotting for mortars!

German 1st Platoon - Panzers Los!

Naturally as luck would have it, the Soviets get their reinforcements on turn 1.  The T-34s quickly swarm on the board.  Each tank has 4 x MG dice!  Yikes!
 The German 1st Platoon is caught out in the open during their advance onto the copse of trees taking heavy casualties (20 dice!)

All that remains of 1st Platoon - amazingly they are able to unpin themselves and will assault the treeline

Gunner supporting the advance.  there is an entire other Soviet company out there somewhere...

Germans take the woodline barely.  Where the hell are the panzers at?!?!
 The other Soviet platoon moves out to close the door on the stricken German company.  Literally the only way the Germans can go now is forward to the "safety" of the objective.  There is an SMG company waiting for them there...

Soviets advancing on the rubble pile in Shirokoye
 Sensing an opportunity to slow down the Soviets, the German company commander orders his platoons forward to assault the woods, but stays behind to call in artillery fire onto the advancing human wave.  Unbelievably, he fails to get through to the guns, rolling a 1,2, and 1.  This is it for the German CO and his small staff.  They will be mowed down by T-34s next turn.

Note the mob of Soviets behind them...

The German CO goes out firing his Schmeisser at the T-34s before being cut down.

Soviets swarm over the rubble pile picking up German rations, helmets, and decorations left on the dead.

 The end comes swiftly as the German small platoon who were reduced to 3 stands loses another stand.  They fail their last stand test and are removed.  That leaves 1 unit left on the board, the 2nd Infantry platoon who surrender as they are surrounded in the woodline.

Soviets occupying former German positions.
Wow that was a rough battle.  The Germans had a really hard time and off the bat I can think of a few things I should have done differently.  First, the platoons should have been separated to deal with each Soviet company.  Additionally, relying on the artillery was a big mistake, especially without an observer.  This forced me to leave a leader stand stationary to callin artillery each turn.  This put my CO in way too much danger by being too far forward.

Playing a small FOW game, 54 points, was a big challenge especially against the Soviets who have lots of gear compared to the Germans who really have tough decisions to make when they can't bring everything they need to.

All in all, a fun but tough learning experience for me.  I'm ready to move onto the next turn in the campaign!  Speaking of campaign, total Firestorm German losses are as follows:

Tiger Platoon
Ferdinand Platoon
Mixed Panzer III/IV Platoon
Gepanzerte PanzerGrenadier platoon


Taking a quick break from campaign reporting and fighting to deliver a quick report on the HMGS 2019 FALL IN convention.  I was lucky enough to attend yesterday and had a blast commanding all of the Continental Forces at Germantown as his Excellency, General Washington.

Characteristic of all of the venues - you had to traverse a labyrinthal maze of corridors to find where you were going as the convention was scattered about the hotel.  The vendor area and flea market were all downstairs in a larger open area but the gaming was isolated and scattered.  It was not easy to find where you were going.

Big ship game
I will say one of the neatest things about conventions to me anymore is actually seeing people i recognize from other conventions and hanging out with them and talking.  I stayed really late this time and that was great.  I think I ended up leaving at 830pm.  Granted, I didn't get there until noon though.  I missed my morning game.  Speaking of Game....


Wow where do I start?  Readers might remember my last convention post COLD WARS 2019, but I was enamored by my friend Bryan's game of Cedar Mountain where he took an SPI map and had it blown up.  He then used 1/72 plastic figures and battle cry dice and turned that into a hell of a good time and as he says "brings the counters to life through the miniatures."  What you get is a game where you are being a general, making decisions, and maneuvering your troops with nicely painted toy soldiers.

Anyways, I usually reach out to him to see what games he is going to put on and then I register for them.  How appropriate that this convention was in Valley Forge, PA because Bryan put on both Brandywine and Germantown.

Blown up map of Brandywine although this is not what I played in
Bryan explaining the rules prior to game starting
 The map used was Decision Games' "Germantown" map blown up.  I love playing games where I've literally been on, or live near, the roads mentioned.  One of the best parts about AWI gaming!

The sleepy village of Germantown.  It's 430am

Sullivan's column moving down the Germantown road in the fog

Guess which house is the Chew house?  British pickets are at Mount Airy.

Continental Generals in the foreground.  British in the background.

American columns step off onto the attack!  The fog is not allowing ranged fire yet and only allowing 1 hex per move.
 Bryan gave us the ability to "push" troops, allowing them to execute another action as long as you spent an "action point" and passed a "fatigue" roll.  Funny thing about that - everyone was able to execute something last night rolling their fatigue except General rolling! 

American militia come onto the board and try to sneak into Germantown.  Hessian Jaegers have something to say about that!

Militia skirmishing with rifle-armed Jaegers in the woods!

Chris moves more militia up to reinforce.  Note the British redcoats behind Rittenhouse's massing to stabilize things here.  British units were tough.  8 figures compared to their regular 6 figure Continental counterparts.  

The overall situation.  Initially, we wanted a flank march on the left, while the columns on the right kept the British occupied and made them think it was the main push.
 Washington spent the better half of the morning moving Knox's artillery into position behind the left column.  Every "push" he attempted failed.  the artillery's performance was far!

Note the Hessian regulars creeping up the right.

This time, heavy fighting in FRONT of the Chew House, not within it.
 The American strategy changes a little when Dragoons are discovered on their left along with 2 units of converged Grenadiers, who are absolutely terrifying in this game to melee against.

British Regulars holding Kelly Hill in front of a shaken out American line.  Note the spot in the line for the guns.

Washington trying to "push" by spending AP and rolling fatigue.  The gunners just did NOT want to move.

Americans surrounding Kelly hill.  Eventually the British regular regiment would be pushed off in heavy fighting but they'd make it back to the safety of the houses in Germantown, fighting from them.
 This game would end when a side lost 6 units.  By now, we realized we would have a very hard time eliminating British regular units so we concentrated on their detachments of Jaegers and Grenadiers who were only 3 or 4 figure units.

In a few dramatic instances, Washington is wounded and almost killed, and the guns take casualties.  Luckily I finally roll well for the guns and almost eliminate and drive off a Grenadier Battalion.  It's probably the guns' biggest contribution of the day.  After that, all their firing will be ineffective.

The British right starting to thin out.  They would be the source of most of our VPs.  Note Washington is now a "2/1" meaning he can take 1 more hit until he's killed!

Our fighting on the Continental Right was mainly supposed to keep the British units tied up.  This turned into a serious meatgrinder on the outskirts of Germantown with back and forth volleys and limited melees.  Eventually the fighting went the Redcoats' way but not without cost.  The score is 5-5 going into the British 10th turn!
 The Continentals on the left seize Kelly hill and want to emplace their guns there.  General Greene is wounded on the left as well but eventually both British Grenadier Battalions are driven off after very costly and heavy fighting.

General Howe standing up.

Shooting from Kelly Hill is ineffective.  Seems like the only way to dislodge these troops is to give them the Cold Steel!

The Hessians have worked their way up the flank, chasing the militia every step of the way.

What actually turned out to be a real nail biter came down to the 10th turn and almost "sudden death overtime"but the British were able to mass their fires and kill another Continental unit ending the game.  It was a little over 3.5 hours and was a real blast!  I love the look of the hexes blown up with troops on them and can't wait to play these rules again.  Bryan was kind enough to give everyone a copy of his rules and I'm going to play them, and hopefully along with a copy of his ACW rules as well.

Tons of fun, no BS rules and all of the players had a blast.  We were totally occupied with commanding our armies and no one was left out of the battle.  I am really looking forward to playing in some of the upcoming games Bryan puts on.  I hope he puts on another of his ACW battles soon, too!

OKAY!  Back to the Ponyri campaign where we are coming down to the dramatic and exciting ending of turn 5 today as Ken and I fight out the FOURTH Battle of Shirokoye Bulotev this afternoon.  Stay tuned!  I owe everyone a campaign update this week.