Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Gettysburg Day One : McPherson’s Ridge

Ever ambitious I introduced another gamer to American Civil War gaming and rather than start too small I wanted to give them the spectacle of ACW. I found a copy of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy  Issue 66. Whilst I don’t get it every month I do pick up occasional copies when there is something that interests me. Issue 66 has a number of ACW scenarios from Day one at Gettysburg. The great thing is my collection has reached the stage where a number of these are now within my grasp.

Roll up McPherson’s Ridge, I have taken the scenario map directly from the magazine rather than seek permission I simply recommend the magazine to you πŸ™‚
The scenario map which is pretty clear, the objective for the Rebels is to push the Union Forces off the high ground, to do this they need to dislodge the Iron Brigade from Herbst Woods before Col Chapman Biddle can bring his New York and Pennsylvania troops into play. As per the scenario the troops vary in quality from the veterans of the Iron Brigade and Pettigrew’s North Carolina 
Troops through to the poor Virginians under Brockenbridge.
With some fiddling about I was able to create a half decent representation of the Battlefield, it doesn’t show so much in this shot but there is a reasonable gradient up onto McPherson Ridge
The Iron Brigade have already fought I think during the day but have fallen back to this defensive position in the woods, they are slightly isolated
The Virginian troops advance towards Willoughby Run
The Veteran North Carolina Troops are already deployed in line as they reach the stream
Time is limited so the Rebels push ahead hard and they have the opportunity to outflank the woods at the McPherson Farm if they move quickly.
Close quarter firing in the centre of the line as the 26th NC cross the stream and open up on the 2nd WI
To the right of the rebel line the 47 NC are also trying to outflank the Iron Brigade but in the distance Union reserves are being pushed forward
The initial surge appears to be going well
.....but you can see both the 26NC and the 40 VA have been pushed back hopefully they will rally ?
Having come under heavy fire from Reynolds Artillery on the ridge the 47th NC veterans are also forced back (this was particularly unlucky in my view as I rolled a disastrous double 6! Causing them to flee and they didn’t rally for some time)
Suddenly the ridge is looking very strong indeed with Biddle’s Brigade now fully deployed
Things are slightly better around the farm where rebels are pouring fire in on the flank of the 7th WI who must be close to breaking
At this stage it is not going well for the confederates but all is not lost......
Rebels including the much reduced 26 NC are reforming for a second attack
Just what we needed a glimmer of hope the 24th MI wobble and are forced back
On the right the 52nd NC have made it all the way to the fence line forcing the 121nd PA back, possibly a decisive break through on the ridge, only for the 19th IN and 80th NY to turn their flank sending them back down the hill
Not giving up quite yet the rebels at the farm are still trying to muscle their way into the woods
Reynold’s Battery which has been firing down the ridge throughout the battle
Things really are starting to look bad and whilst some of the Rebels are reforming others are being forced back across the stream 
There are now really only two Rebel Regiments still in the battle
....the North Carolina Troops are spent
And from their high point the 52nd NC are falling back past an angry General Pettigrew 
Ultimately the task was too much and despite taking a hammering the Iron Brigade are able to hold onto the woods
 Hooorah Boys !

So another very enjoyable evening gaming, the scenario played well although it was always going to be tough for the Rebels who needed some luck early on, they didn’t get it with a couple of very poor morale rolls which collapsed the centre of their line. There are some more scenarios so I am sure we we back on day one some time soonish..πŸ˜€

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Breakout at Libau : Barbarossa June 1941

With the half term holiday I am somewhat behind on blogs, this battle being fought about 4 weeks ago ! But we took a break from the ACW action and played another game in our gradually (very slowly) developing Barbarossa campaign. Sticking with Army group north the German 18th Army has pushed rapidly up the coast where a pocket of Russian resistance held out at Libau.

I managed (and this is part of the fun for me) to find the following detailed map of the engagement. The Russian forces consisting of the 67th Rifle Division have been cut off by the rapid German advance, this took place on the 25th June 1941. The Russian forces then attempted to break out in two directions. Our battle will deal with the northern thrust along the coast against the 506 Infantry Regiment under a Colonel Gurran.
Always nice to find a period shot as well, here the Germans are advancing into the town from the NE
I feel I need to add the following note as whilst researching the battle I discovered, and hadn’t known before that Libau was the scene of significant atrocities, the sad and depressing reality that humans being will inflict such harm on other humans beings. I suspect few ever remember such events but perhaps through the study and playing of our wonderful hobby we can keep the memory alive.

On to the action πŸ˜€ 
One of the reasons for playing this scenario was to avoid the usual temptation to ‘armour up’ so both sides have very limited armour support the 506 IR have managed to drag some anti-tank guns into support the assault or defend against the break out ? Here they have built a barricade across the coastal road
Col Gurran manages the deployment of a heavy machine gun and additional ‘big guns’ in the Wood around the railway line
‘Ivan’ has massed his Infantry for the break out, but they have limited time to escape before reinforcements lock down the gaps
More German Infantry in the woods, but they are spread pretty thin
From somewhere the Russians have found the last KV1, this might just help the break through on the coast road, infantry can be seen running forward
The only German armour a Stug the rest of the Panzers have been sent further inland to support the advance
German heavy mortar team using the open space where the railway runs through the wood
Needless to say the Gun PAK 40 opens up against the KV
And after several attempts manages to damage the front tread, the KV won’t be escaping at least but it can still fire and provide support, the infantry make a dash for freedom
...and the only Russian armoured car attempts to escape down the railway line (we had some debate about whether this counted as a road but decided not)
The Germans have laid down heavy fire all along the front but are being overwhelmed more german infantry is thrown into the defence
The KV is stranded so the infantry must abandon it to get away
The leading Russian infantry is able to assault the anti-tank gun
Despite many attempts the Stug is largely ineffective against the advancing Russian infantry
And all the machine guns can do is reduce the number who escape .......
Finally in a Pyrrhic victory the Germans manage to take out the KV Hoorah !!! 
But it is too late and the Russians have escaped winning a well deserved victory. Here is a shot of the overall battlefield, coast road in the foreground, railway and woods in the distance.

A very fun way to spend the evening, we had about 12 units per side and played six turns. The outcome reflected history in that much of the infantry did escape but in doing so they had to abandon their vehicles.

Monday, 18 June 2018

What a Tanker : Phoenix Lakeland Wargame Exhibition

Seem to have been really busy recently and not had time to blog (I have about four games to catch up on) in the meantime though the Phoenix Lakeland Wargame Exhibition, my very local show is rapidly approaching next weekend. This is the third show and I wanted to take something different as a participation game. So this year I will be presenting a game of What A Tanker by TOOFATLADIES.
The game seems ideal as a demo game as it only requires two players and takes between 30 and 40 minutes (most of the time). You don’t need any prior knowledge to play the game πŸ˜€

My current plan is to play this in 15 mm as this enables me to play the game with anything between one and potentially six players. With a classic match up between Sherman Mk 4’s and Panzer IV’s somewhere in Northern France. Below are a few shots of our test games at the weekend.
Game uses a simple command roll and orders sheet
The game being played with two tanks per side dice marking the initiative
I have slightly modified the command sheet to make it easier to use

The show is small and friendly and located close (5 minutes) to Junction 40 on the M6 motorway at the Rheged Visitor Centre. If you fancy a game or just a chat come along and say hello πŸ˜€

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Dark Ages from skirmish to massed battles

With my ACW project progressing well as you can see with the latest confederate unit I have filled a whole box πŸ˜€

I have been pondering where next to put some effort in, I am not quite ready for a whole new period so have been musing as you do on which of my current projects I could expand. There are several but I have decided to get stuck back into the dark ages.

All of my figures have originally been based for skirmish games but after much consideration I have purchased some 3x2 movement trays to allow them to be ranked up. This seems to give the most possible flexibility as they can be arranged in a number of ways. As shown in the previous post the completed Arthurian force can easily fit into my Saxon army.
With the new movement trays 18 man units seem to give reasonable feel for scale, they are of course spread out slightly thinner than I would like but I have a few double based figures which you can’t really see in the photo which definately help give a more cluttered feel, if I was looking to play a really large battle I could squeeze a few Vikings into the ranks as well.
The second force I am interested in is my Normans, they are woefully behind but luckily I have at least a unit and a half in the pile which would bring them upto 4 infantry units. I guess I am going to need another box of conquest cavalry...some time

Finally I am working on my Arabs no photo yet but I am obsessed with 11 Century Al Andalusia at the moment. I have lots of Arabs collected and ready to paintπŸ™‚