Wednesday, February 28, 2024

WIP Wednesday: Kasserine Pass Preparations

 Another WIP Wednesday in the books!  We're light on "progress" this week here at SOC as work seems to have just taken off so the painting has mostly slowed to a crawl however Afrika Korps basing continued apace and with the British 8th Army and Desert Rats project kickoff imminent, I realized I needed about another 80 bases to prepšŸ˜±...

Flames of War small sized bases - which is how I base all of my microarmor - told the wife we're gonna need a shedload of green spray paint, sand, flock etc!

I've been talking to Martin Rapier a bit about the OOB from his excellent Kasserine Game back in 2020 which I was ashamed to admit I somehow missed on his blog!  If you haven't read Martin's KP Battle Report/AAR, go back and take a look and I'll apologize to Martin in advance for an unexpected influx in comments or blog trafficšŸ˜

I'm currently planning the OOB for the "big" Kasserine Pass game coming up, hopefully in March sometime.  Peter's WWII rules are a "go" and Dave and I had a blast during last week's Kharkov "practice" game.  The crowded nature of the 36" matt came up though, and I may "Scale up" the Kasserine game to Regiment/Brigade/Combat Command, and Martin gave me some excellent pointers and suggestions for a potential OOB which I will share in a future post.  We'll do what we can to keep the battlefield from looking like a "parking lot" especially considering Kasserine Pass had a considerable amount of maneuver.

The AFVs from 10th Panzer Division close up!  (This is not a 1:1 OOB for the battle - just showing off the vehicles I initially set aside for 10th Panzer - ditto on 21st Panzer)

10th Panzer Division w/501st Heavy Panzer Battalion - the trucks are now based.

21st Panzer Division - the prime movers for the 88s have been based, and the 88s have been painted - you saw them in the Kharkov game!  Also the halftracks were replaced with trucks as they should be!

Posted last week but I've doubled the amount of palm trees, and Peter from "Grid Based Wargaming" is going to be providing some of the trees for the Kasserine Game!  The SOC staff is preparing something nice to send Peter's way.  I love when gamers trade stuff and contribute to each other's collections straight from the blog-o-sphere.

Another gratuitous shot of my middle eastern wood and "milliput" buildings of which I need to make more.

I was racking my brain thinking of how I would put supply dumps and army command centers on the table for kasserine when it dawned on me that I ordered an irresponsible number of 6mm modern military tents from Gamecraft minis.  These are resin and based on 20th and 21st century military HQs tents (affectionately known as "TOCS" or "Tactical Operations Centers" where I spent MANY hours as a battle staff officer)

Resin command tents

So that's it.  10th and 21st Panzer wrapped up for the most part, now I need to work on the Americans and finish them, then British and Italians who have their basecoat but their actual bases need finished before they can be mounted to their stands.  I also have a BATREP to post later this week featuring Peter's WWII rules "Scaled Down" for a more tactical level engagement with everyone's favorite OHW scenario but with a huge twist.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

36 inch Battlefields: Battle of Kharkov 1943

 Dave was over last night and I wanted to introduce him to Peter's excellent WW2 rules with my added modifications p(QRS linked)laying out a portion of the Battle of Kharkov in 1943.  Not only was this a great run-out for hand-drawn snow mat, but also playing Peter's rules with another live human being (always a plus!).  The main objective of last night's game was to start prepping Dave for our Kasserine Pass game coming up hopefully in March.

Detachment Bissinger would have to attack up the table and exit off of the northern road exit.  The Germans set up first!

We used the scenario from Littlewars TV's Battle of Kharkov scenario from their excellent first season.  Dave and I played the "northern" table (Detachment Bissinger) and rolled for sides with Dave playing Kampfgruppe Harmel / Detachment Bissinger (2nd SS PanzerGrenadier Division "Das Reich").  I played the Soviets commanding elements of the 6th Rifle Division, who were thrown into KG Harmel's way to stop the German juggernaut.  The OOB for last evening's battle was taken almost straight from the LWTV scenario (click scenario above for more details). 

Note the Soviet battalions in lines - Dave starts moving out on his attack.

Soviets in defensive positions.  THe small circular stands represent heavy weapons "upgrades" allowing that stand to shoot 2 x hexes.

Stug Battalion and Recce moving out with Dave's infantry closer behind.  Note the Flak Battalion's desert-painted 88s (sorry!!) moving up the road towards the village.

Dave had a tough task ahead of him.  While the Soviets had awful morale and a mostly-infantry force, Dave was light on armor, only bringing a Stug III battalion to the fight, along with motorized infantry, a flak battalion (88s!) and some light Anti Tank assets, but also had time working against him.  He has only 12 turns to exit units off of the northern table edge, and 3 massive infantry battalions to slice through!

The first few turns we spend getting Dave acquainted with the rules.  While I'm playing against him, I'm coaching on options available and how the rules work.  Dave gets his recce into position and sends down artillery against an SU76 unit in the treeline.  The battle is joined!

The Germans shelling an SU76 unit in the woods.  The block on it indicates that it is DISRUPTED.  One key difference I've added to Peter's rules is rolling 3D6 instead of 1D6.  I found I just didn't have the guts to face Peter's 1D6 roll - much too tense :-)  The 3D6 works out by scoring successes (based on the target you're shooting at).  1 success = target rolls to remain in place or retreat.  2 successes = target disrupted. 3 successes = target destroyed.

The flak battalion enters the village.  First time i've used 88s in a game in a long time!

Dave is forcing units back with artillery fire as his Stug battalion advances.  His plan is to follow them closely with the infantry and exploit as the opportunity arises.

KV-1s held in reserve.  The Stugs wont scratch the paint on them except for up close (heavy armor rule in Peter's rules - that's where the 88s will come in handy as you will find out!)

Dave reaches a central portion on the battlefield after having by-passed the first infantry line and capturing the village.  I'm trying to canalize him into a murderous fight with my infantry.  Dave obliges!

The Germans will not be able to bypass this line.  They'll have to fight here given how 1st and 2nd Battalion flanks overlap.  It's a fiendish plan!  Note the heavy weapons in this battalion.  Dave starts targeting them with artillery.

Detachment Bissinger command stand and Stug Battalion

Heavy combat breaks out at the second Soviet line as Dave's 88s, then his Stugs join in the firing.  Dave's massing his firepower brilliantly trying to force holes inoto the line that he can sneak a Stug or 2 past!
We started using cotton balls to show who's fired so we didn't lose track.  Dave's infantry on the road behind the village.  Stugs and 88s up front.  Worth mentioning here that Turn 4 saw the begining of rolling for a Stuka JU87 airstrike.  Dave rolls a "6" at the right time and Hans Rudel is inbound!  I saw HR because Dave rolls hot on his strike and KOs the unit!  He opens a big gap in the second battalion's line!

Dave's Stugs join in the firing, and the Soviet line buckles

I commit the KV-1s to action now as the second battalion's line is breached.  Dave continues to have good luck in destroying defending infantry stands.

Dave tears a 5 hex wide hole into the line!  The Stugs are earning their pay.  Dave's artillery has been firing non stop also.

Exploiting the hole in the line, Dave's stugs surge forward.  The KV-1s are now in 88 range!!  The infantry in the bottom of the picture are the last line of defense.

The bending Soviet line now goes from the road exit at top and follows the road down to the trees in center-bottom of picture.  The German Stug and Flag Battalion are breaching the line and the KV-1s are starting to counter attack now!

Heavy combat breaks out as the 88s and Stugs position themselves to engage the KV1s.  The 88s start systematically picking off KV1 targets.

Dave leaves a detachment of 88s behind as flank/rear guard against roving Soviet armor.  Here an SU76 burns, destroyed as it probed the village.

I destroy a Stug platoon with KV-1 fire and my artillery is certainly help even the odds, destroying Dave's infantry as best I can.  He's doing a very commendable job though of keeping the infantry out of harms way until he needs them.

Clear shot towards the exit!  Dave starts to peel back the flank of the Soviet 3rd Battalion

Soviet infantry that were initially bypassed flank the German breakthrough and begin to assault the 88s!

Meanwhile Dave sneaks more Stugs off the table!  My only shot left on turn 10 is to move that infantry platoon from the road down to the road exit which I do to block the remaining Stugs.  Dave's only hope in getting more units off is to get a Stuka strike....

German Turn 11, Dave rolls a "6" and Hans Rudel is again inbound.  Dave rolls all "6s" and kills another infantry stand, while his artillery makes short work of ANOTHER Soviet platoon.  Dave ends up getting the entire Stug Battalion off of the table.  The infantry are still mopping up.

Poised for a breakthrough - the German Stugs are lined up to exploit the breach in the line.

 The LWTV game's victory parameters are a bit vague "secure the road exits" but I wanted this to be a bit more desperate than that so we used exited vehicles as the success indicator.  Just not sure "how much" success.  Dave left more than half of the infantry battalion on the field with almost 60% casualties, and the 88s were running from the Soviet infantry counterattacks.  Still, though, Dave did exit a considerable amount of powerful units off of the table so I'm content to call this a German minor victory!


A critical part of any Sound Officers Call posting, what did we learn from this battle?

CONSERVE YOUR STRENGTH - In games like this, the infantry can be bled white early on.  As Dave showed, it's important to commit at the right time and not fight needlessly.  One of things I love about these rules are the ability to showcase true maneuver warfare - attacking the weak spots and only with increased odds of success.  The rules dont favor an attritional grind - that is a good way to lose all of your infantry early on in the fight.  Especially with the way artillery works. Which leads me to my next point...

ARTILLERY IS DEADLY - Infantry need to be on the move constantly if they can.  Artillery is absolutely deadly.  I asked Dave if he thought it had too great of an impact on the game (most of the German and Soviet infantry units were killed by Artillery.  Or disrupted by Artillery and finished off with infantry attacks).  Dave thought it might have been better to have a limited number of salvoes in the game and I tend to agree with him.  The artillery was a huge casualty producer in this game (as it was in WW2) but the amount of ammo expended and the constant changing of fire missions each turn is probably too generous.

ALL ARMS COOPERATION - Dave learned the hard way to have infantry supporting the tanks by soaking up infantry fire up front, and also that he needed to have mobile forces on standby to exploit a breakthrough.  All firing and artillery attacks should go towards a singular goal (in this case it was the breakthrough at the Soviet 2nd Battalion's line) .

Look at the lessons learned here.  The tenets outlined above may as well have come from a real after action report.  That is a huge testament to the strength of these rules and again my hat's off to Peter for developing a real gem here.

So all-in-all a very successful night of gaming fun.  Dave is keen to play these again and I'm moving forward with my Kasserine Pass plans.  I still need to play GDWs "Team Yankee" with my microarmor and that is likely next week's game, and I am starting the 8th Army British for "Race for Tunis" after Kasserine Pass is over!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

WIP Wednesday: The "Sands" of Time


A delightful showcase of progress (or lack thereof) on today's WIP Wednesday!  The fruits of my labor paying off with the Epic Pike & Shotte figures, the Kasserine Pass Afrika Korps Germans are nearing completion, and their well-supplied enemies the Americans are moving along at pace.  Of course there are more Baccus buildings being completed, and, speaking of buildings, some adorable 3mm North African buildings and experimental palm trees for you to look at with this week's mostly desert-themed WIP Wednesday.  Kasserine Pass is getting closer!  

Let's get to the pictures!

Kasserine Pass Units for 36" Battlefields:

Medium Tank Company / Battalion along with some lighter tanks the GHQ 1/285 Panzer III models are absolutely fantastic!!!  Full of beautiful raised details.  Since this pic was taken I've painted the tracks on them and some of the stowage.

Reconnaissance Battalion (AufklƤrungsabteilung??).  - in Peter's WWII rules and my modifications of them - the spotting units allow you to spot and target units further than your conventional forces - making them super useful on the table for armor that is engaging at stand-off and artillery spotting.

DAK Infantry.  I touched up and rebased what I could find.  Note that I put LMGs on some stands and others I did not incase I was crazy enough to try Battlegroup: Torch or Tobruk in 6mm...

Anti Tank support with the infantry

Almost all of the DAK tanks I could muster.  Going to use the Panzer 38s as Italian armor seeing as how they're exotic looking compared to the "conventional" German armor....and I dont have any Italian stuff in my collection.

Unbased Panzer IIs.  I'm basecoating new bases now.

More DAK recce, command, halftracks, and prime movers.  Still need to base them.
Trucks, halftracks
Now onto the "green machine" we have the Americans.  Again this was all the infantry I could dig up but it was enough for a good sized element for Kasserine Pass.  Enough for LMG stands, support stands, and even an engineer stand with flamethrowers!  I am *not* drybrushing the dark sand on their bases however, as these guys will need to do triple-duty in North Africa, France, and Italy.

Yes, I know the Shermans are the wrong mark!!!

The GHQ models do look outstanding.  I'm going to paint the stowage, tracks, and put a nice dark wash on them (4th from the bottom has a coat of agrax earthshade on it - but for the rest I'm going to use nuln oil)

Still lots of Ami's to base, including a bunch of infantry support stands. We Americans love our firepower!

The elements who have received bases already. Some Tank Destroyers, Halftracks, and Sherman tanks.

You might see a small pine cube with a milliput dome on top.  I see a North African mosque!  and it'll look more like a mosque when I'm done painting it!

I botched these chenille bump palm trees but they'll look better once painted.  I need to make quite a few of them so dont worry I'll get plenty of practice!

Speaking of buildings, here is another completed Baccus 6mm building.  I have a seemingly endless supply of them.

and last but not least, "progress" continues on a new Epic "Pike & Shotte" Regiment for Tilly's Very Bad Day.  I have been block-painting these lads very deliberately and while it's been alot of work, I think they are looking good so far.

Not sure what color I should paint their "bandoleer" but I'll figure something out. 

So that's all for this week.  Lots of progress on the North African front this week and we're almost ready to fight the big battle (which I have not yet planned out scenario-wise).  Dave is coming over Friday and I'll introduce him to Peter's rules and play an eastern front game - potentially Kharkov from the Littlewars TV scenario.  Hope everyone is having a great week!