Thursday 31 December 2015

Operation Blau : Battle for Kastornoye June 1942

The second battle in our (mini) Operation Blau Campaign, sees General Major Ivan P Korchagin's 17th Tank Corps attempt to halt the tide of Panzer Divisions under Hoth. This battle took place around the town of Kastornoye close to the Olym River. As usual at this stage of the Eastern Front the Russian generals were pretty poor failing (according to R Forczyk) to provide adequate fuel. They were also out maneuvered by Hoth who sent in the 11th and 9th Panzer Divisions north and south of the town.

Historically the Russians were outgunned by the newer Panzer IV's and the 17th Tank corps lost 141 tanks during the battle.

Battlefield looking south Kastornoye to the right
 We had originally planned for this to be a larger battle but I ran out of time to sort it out so we kept it to 3000pts each side. The Russians with three tank brigades entered from the the East (left in the picture) , we played it as a simple encounter battle to represent the mobile Germans pushing forward but with the Russians feeding in reserves through the battle. To represent the improved German mobility they were permitted to bring one of their formations in on the left/Northern flank. We played to a fixed break point as per Blitzkrieg rules.

Germansupport flank attack Stug's and PzJaegers
 With some obvious defensive positions on both sides of the battlefield it require some decisive action to break the deadlock so the Germans deployed their flank attack fairly early on.

Russian Armour turns to engage the flanking force
 Although the flanking force created significant worry in the Russian camp, they were immediately able to turn towards the enemy and with significantly more powerful guns were able to get the advantage. But this allowed the Panzers in the Town to break out attempting to pin the Russians.

Panzer Break out
To the south stalemate
 To the south around two small farms a stalemate has been reached with neither side gaining an advantage.
Russian casualties mount up 
Things were now in the balance but whilst the Russians finished off the Germans on the flank they themselves were hit in the flank in the open !

German flank force destroyed
Germans use cover to catch Russians in flank
German right flank holds on just !
In the end the game played surprisingly close to historical events the German flank movement caused just enough distraction to the Russians to allow the Panzers to get the upper hand. It felt closer than the end result might indicate, The Germans can now push ahead with our final battle at Gorschchnoye where the 4th Tank Corps will attempt to block the 24th Panzers.

As my last post of 2015 I wish everybody a happy new year. More gaming, painting and collecting to come......

Tuesday 29 December 2015

300 BC but not for the purists !

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get stuck in little paradigms, so whilst I have continued to paint up ancient Greeks they haven't seen enough action on the battlefield as I seek out realistic rules and historical battles. However as we have been trying out Kings of War I thought we could try one of the fan based 'ancient' adaptions of the rules. These are from An Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields and are their Hoplite rules.

This was a great chance to see if the rules work and to get pretty much all my ancient figures on the battlefield. This means we had to bend historical accuracy a little. One side is broadly Macedonian, with Pikemen, mixed Gauls and spearmen with mercenary hoplites, heavy cavalry and an elephant. The other side is spartan and Hoplite based with light infantry and cavalry but some persian chariots thrown in for fun.
Initial set up, note olive trees !
In our first scenario the "Macedonains" charged full pelt towards the enemy lines in an attempt to maximise the use of their heavy cavalry and the elephant which I hoped was going to be good on the charge.
Newly raised Macedonian Cavalry 
This is actually the first time I have had the olive trees on the table really pleased with how they look.
Massed Hoplites supported by Light Cavalry
In the distance one of hte enemy chariots crashed into the right flank.
Pikemen and Elephant charge forward !
Enemy light cavalry screen blocks of advancing hoplites.
Clash of Spears
At this point it became clear the onrush of the whole Macedonian line was too much and the enemy withdrew to fight another battle (some lucky/unlucky dice). So we decided to reset but play a capture scenario with objective across the battlefield, small red jewels if you see them in the photos.

Having learnt their lesson the Athenian/spartans were much more careful with a strong line of skirmish and missile troops to the front.

Clash at the Temple
The ranged attacks immediately made a difference and the elephant was forced to pull up short "shaken".

This was a much closer battle with the Athenians always slightly on top and in the end they held the greatest number of objectives.

So the rules seemed to work well and give a good game, as we have played other KoW battles the rules are really simple. A couple of bits probably needed to be tweeked. Phalanx need to be tougher, and Heavy Cavalry should have thunderous charge. Otherwise they are a good set of rules to get lots of figures on the table. Might well try the dark age version ? it also means I can buy some more ancient stuff and not worry about getting them on the table.

Monday 28 December 2015

Maryport Firemen's Auxiliary : VBCW

In amongst working I wanted to finish off a couple of things before starting the new projects from Santa. First up the Maryport Firemen's Auxiliary, Ironclad figures with a matchbox engine. The fire engine was pretty cheap off eBay, it is really too small but I know the 1:43 version will be too big' they are likely to jump out in most battles so it will only sit in the background anyway.

Second up a war memorial. The figure was a gift so not sure who makes them but the base is from an old Harry potter chess piece.

Friday 25 December 2015

Christmas unwrapped !

Sat in the dining room feeling full and although I have had to work some of the day the benefit of older kids means I have a bit of time to look at my goodies.

Pride of place goes to the Perry battle in a box ACW. Now I wasn't planning this as a new venture Santa knows I have enough already but I have put in a lot of hours running up to Christmas and needed a mental diversion, I saw this on offer on eBay at a very reasonable £82 and was hooked.

Together with this I got an excellent ww1 figure to make a war memorial for VBCW etc. a couple of good books and a lovely series of Crimean warrants from my son which he picked up in a second hand shop. Oh and a Sarissa Manor House.

Now the ACW is going to require a bit of planning so I might make the Manor house first.

A scary amount of grey plastic ?

Merry Christmas : Battle for Skull mountain

Have a great Christmas everybody, let's hope Santa has a big axe in his sack.

You shall not pass !

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Spartan Hoplites (Unarmoured)

Finally got round to finishing off my last (for now) unit of Spartans. They won't see a battle now till the new year I suspect. I am just aiming to try and complete one more unit for VBCW before Christmas.

Monday 21 December 2015

Fantasy SAGA : Part 3 Elves vs Undead

Having played a couple of games of the Fantasy Saga Rules (see previous post and the Hobby Horse Blog) with Dwarves vs Chaos Men we thought we would try the other boards. I understand there are some more out now but we wanted to try Elves vs Undead, mainly as we don't get these armies onto the table very often. With a tiny bit of juggling we managed 10 points each. The Elves fielding an Eldar Lord on horse back, a Warlock (he didn't actually move in the battle at all !) a couple of units of Guard with double handed weapons, a couple of units of Spearmen, a unit of mounted warriors, some archers, a Treeman and a Great Eagle.
The Elf Warband
We opted again for a Lion Rampant scenario, choosing the one where both sides have to get across the table (corner to corner). Note above the Elves only had one Treeman the other is a carefully disguised terrain piece.
The Elves push down the right flank
The Undead had a special activation allowing them to all shuffle forward which gave them good cohesion, the elves however immediately became quite strung out as their cavalry raced off and some units didn't move at all. With 10 points we only had 6 SAGA dice and perhaps this wasn't enough ?

Co-ordinated undead horde !
Whilst the elven cavalry harried the undead flank the main attack came down the centre appropriately enough through the graveyard.

Hold...... hold,......hold ............
To try and counter this the Treeman stumbled through the woods but after an initial success he somehow managed to be overcome by a mass of weedy zombies TIMBER ! how can this happen ? The first unit of Elven Guard were dragged into a combat with ghouls and skeletons and pretty much finished off. Despite their best efforts the archers were a bit ineffective and started to pull back rather than be wiped out. Things did not look good at this stage for the Elves.
Eleven Guard Forward !
But now the Eldar Lord ordered the second unit of guard to come across to the rescue, and just as they charged into combat they felt a silent shadow fall from the sky, just in time the Giant Eagle had joined the fray.(after a few battles now we feel monsters are slightly overpowered so be warned). Together they were able to wipe out the remaining, Ghouls, Skeletons and Undead Guard leaving the Vampire dangerously exposed.

The eagles have come !
The final combat as darkness (literally fell) saw the Eagle swoop down on the Vampire ripping her limb from limb (some reported that as soon as the eagles talons gripped her body it dissolved into a mass of black rats which were seen running back towards the graveyard who knows ?)

Another good game, the Elves are pretty flexible, which is nice, but were a bit too defensive in this scenario, I think we may limit future armies to a single monster. Overall the fantasy boards are good, interesting and thoughtfully put together.

Post Script : This is a pretty old Elf Army my sons originally, very unlikely to see mass battles again, but i am wondering if a fresh paint job might see them being used in this type of SAGA or even Dragon Rampant battles in the future. I have quite a lot of unpainted figures and I am sure i can come up with a better colour scheme ?

Sunday 20 December 2015

Man vs Orc : Kings of War 2500 points

Having played and enjoyed several Kings of War games we decided to step it up one scale and see how the system works in a slightly larger game, you get a lot of troops for 2500pts in KoW so we had to extend the table out to 7 feet ! My Empire army supplemented by a giant took on a sizeable Orc army. It was numbers vs quality but not necessarily as you would expect as the Orcs had brought a number of quite powerful 'Heros'.

Battlelines drawn
This felt like quite a lot of troops so we settled for a simple kill scenario with 6 turns to do as much damage as possible. With quite a few ranged weapons the 'men' chose to hang back the first couple of turns, but I always get over excited and it didn't feel right to hold back everything so the giant and the heavy knight cavalry pushed forward to meet the orcs head on.
Empire General on his pet griffin "Feathers"
With a shooty army it always feels like you are getting off to a good start but gradually the Orcs started to make it across the battlefield.

Holding the line....but for how long ?

Gunners re-loading frantically 
On the right flank the Empire Knights became too head strong and became isolated having charged out of the line, and a bit like the British Heavy Cavalry at Waterloo once they were blown and isolated they were themselves wiped out.
I hear Goblins in the woods........give them a volley !
Somehow I didn't get many photos towards the end of the battle ?, the Empire troops had won on the right and their line turned to face the Left with the orcs winning on their right flank.

The Orc giant just before he is dragged down and finished off.
In a final twist of evil fate the Orc ''mage' had chosen to target the Empire lord repeatedly with his flame spell and eventually "Feathers" had had enough flying his master to safety. Both armies had lost roughly 50% in the 6 turns and it wasn't immediately obvious who had won, the Empire had plenty of foot troops left on the field but points wise it looked and was quite close. When we added up the retreat of "Feathers" and his master was the deciding factor. So a win for the smelly green orcs and goblins !

So we enjoyed the battle and KoW whilst not as technically complicated as WHFB seems to give a good battle, within a reasonable timescale, If the focus is getting figures on the table and not looking up rules they seem to deliver. Next time we will be trying some Greek on Greek action with KoW.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

1067 : Lion Rampant

More floods so I needed some light diversion which came in the form of Lion Rampant. Luckily I can field quite a few points so we were able to have 28 points of Normans vs Saxons. With a whole evening to go we had time to play two scenarios. First up the Normans (led by Ranulf le Meschin) and Saxons were fighting over the cross of Saint Cuthbert seen in the first picture.
Saxons form a slightly chaotic battle line !
This seemed like a good scenario for the  Normans with two units of mounted sargeants and the Saxons all on foot.
Disciplined and Noble Norman forces ?
Of course nothing goes to plan and the Normans decided to spend much of the first couple of turns eating garlic mushrooms and drinking cognac, stubbornly sitting on the baseline. This allowed the dirty good for nothing saxons to rush forward. By the time the Normans had finished breakfast the saxons had two glory points in the bag already !

Eating breakfast while the saxons gain glory !
Eventually Ranulf was off and the Normans began to get in the game. Cavalry charging forward to contest the cross backed up by Sargeants.

En avant !
Some early success by the Cavalry pushed the saxons back from the cross, with the second unit led by Ranulf himself moving to the right under a hail of saxon arrows. In the distance heavily armoured Norman foot knights are moving in to clear the woods.
The cross is ours.......
Having pushed the Saxons back on both sides of the cross, the Saxon Earl tried to sneek with his bodyguard through the long grass to the cross. From his mounted vantage point Ranulf saw the threat and shouted out a challenge.
Are you a man or a pig saxon dog ! etc. etc......
Despite looking shaken and slightly awkward in front of his troops the Saxon Earl stood up from the long grass, was he accepting the challenge or offering a hefty payment for his safety ?. No matter Ranulf was looking for land and conquest and he made short work of the Saxon Earl.
One less saxon dog to feed !
Always a dangerous move this left Ranulf with his unit quite exposed and the Saxon bodyguard were sure to charge in next turn to take their bloody revenge for the Earl's demise.
Oopps not terribly brave Saxons run off !
But it was not to be, a double 1! saw them fail their courage test and flee the battlefield, along with a couple of other units. So despite a shaky start the Normans had snatched victory.

Having taken control of the Earls estates and lands Ranulf then found himself in the position of carrying the spoils of war back to his lands in the South. Always a tricky scenario he and his retinue had to escort three baggage items from one corner to the other.

Normans set off 
Once again the Normans failed a couple of tests early on so were off to a slow start.The three baggage items represented by a wagon of beer and two pack horses/mules with weapons and provisions were split between the cross bowmen and one of the units of sargeants.

Ranulf encouraging his retinue to speed up 
Despite the early bad luck half of the retinue had made the centre of the table before Saxon arrows started to rain down.

But now the luck ran out and a couple of critical failed command rolls left the beer wagon isolated, the Saxons swept in butchering the unit before the Normans could react. Merde ! luckily though they started to get stuck into the beer rather than concentrating on the other baggage.

Saxons Hurscarls sweep in to get the beer.
Now it was up to the cross bowmen to push forward with the pack animals to safety as quickly as possible.

Protected by several units the mules are escorted forward
Some heroic and selfless sacrifice by the remaining Norman sargeants as they blocked the path of the oncoming Saxons enabled the unit with the baggage to force its way around the wood.
Saxons chasing down the baggage, Normans holding the line
Once free of the woods Ranulf puts spur to horse to make off with the baggage. A rare win with this scenario and two great games which despite my very biased write up were both quite close and well fought.
Ranulf leads off with the Baggage