Sunday, 25 December 2022

Just three words

The children (grown up !) have opened their stockings and we wait for the feast which is Christmas dinner. Who knows I might even get some presents later too ?

Anyway a few hardy folk have attempted my impenetrable quiz and requested some additional clues so here we are….rest assured I do not believe people are that interested in my future projects so hope nobody has wasted too much time on the quiz. In fact in a classic wargamer butterfly moment I have even started a second mini project in the last week but more of that in another post.

Questions
1. British ground forces commander in Norway May 1940
2. First major battle in the Anglo-Zulu war
3. The last English king to die in battle
4. The victory which cost Sir John Moore his life
5. First name of the Major General who lost his life leading the assault at Ciudad Rodrigo
6. American General who captured fort Ticonderoga 1775
7. Battle which saw Burnsides futile frontal assault on Confederates in 1862
8. Nelsons most famous victory
9. Greek Persian battle 490BC
10. Battle where English longbows rules the day 1415
11. Bravest of the Brave
12. Fredericks inconclusive victory may 1757
13. The most hotly contested American landing beach Normandy1944
14. Muslim rules area of Iberian Peninsular upto to 1492 (two word answer)
15. Major and very bloody Union defeat in Georgia
16. British commanding officer at Bunker Hill
17. Crimean battle 14 September 1854
18. Famous Parliamentarian victory in Northamptonshire 1645
19. Anglo-Saxon king January 1066

CLUES
The letters to the answers are spell the words  AIRCRAFTMAN POACHING

There are three words in the answer

The following tank will form part of the project



Please don’t take this too seriously but have a great Christmas ๐Ÿ‘

Matt


Tuesday, 20 December 2022

Seasonal wishes and optional Quiz……….

That time of the year when we wish everybody a Happy Holiday season apparently only about 45% of the worlds population celebrate Christmas. Anyway I alluded to a new project in the offing for 2023, I should say painting is already in progress, but rather than just tell everybody I thought I would run a Festive quiz. 



Now I am far too humble (realistic) to think that many people are interested in what I am doing in my next Wargaming project, however, I think there are at least a couple of you. So for those with some spare time over the holiday season and a tremendous knowledge of military history I have a set a quiz.

The answers are all one word (except one which I have noted), the first letters of each of the answers form a two word anagram which can then be converted into my new project, (the anagram isn’t really related but should help you get the letters correct) Feel free to simply huff and pass this post by or spend ages trying to work out the answer. There is no prize other than the sweet knowledge if you answer all the questions without looking them up that you have a far better and broader knowledge of Military history than I do ๐Ÿ˜€

Questions
1. British ground forces commander in Norway May 1940
2. First major battle in the Anglo-Zulu war
3. The last English king to die in battle
4. The victory which cost Sir John Moore his life
5. First name of the Major General who lost his life leading the assault at Ciudad Rodrigo
6. American General who captured fort Ticonderoga 1775
7. Battle which saw Burnsides futile frontal assault on Confederates in 1862
8. Nelsons most famous victory
9. Greek Persian battle 490BC
10. Battle where English longbows rules the day 1415
11. Bravest of the Brave
12. Fredericks inconclusive victory may 1757
13. The most hotly contested American landing beach Normandy1944
14. Muslim rules area of Iberian Peninsular upto to 1492 (two word answer)
15. Major and very bloody Union defeat in Georgia
16. British commanding officer at Bunker Hill
17. Crimean battle 14 September 1854
18. Famous Parliamentarian victory in Northamptonshire 1645
19. Anglo-Saxon king January 1066

Good luck Matt


Monday, 19 December 2022

Ambush at Dizbad Station : Back of Beyond

What another game ! Well we wanted to squeeze another battle in before family commitments take over for the Christmas period. That’s not to say i won’t try and persuade my son to play a game of Command and Colors.

Anyway my random game generator picked a Back of Beyond encounter between the good old colonial British and a rag tag band of Renegade Russians who have hired support from the local Afghan tribes.

The action takes place at the small village of Dizbad in the north west of Afghanistan. The British have been scouting forward by railway but due to mechanical issues their train with supplies has broken down. Whilst a small force has been left to guard the train help has been sent for. The Local Russian warlord has convinced the neighbouring Afghan tribal leaders that an ambush is guaranteed to bring success and considerable plunder.

The battlefield. The scenario had a number of specific details….as follows. One British unit could be placed as the guard for the train awaiting their rescue, the Afghans could place three units anywhere on the table as long as they were out of sight of the defending unit these are the scouts looking to ambush the objective. We would then D6 for which table edge the main force of ambushers would arrive, only once this was done we would D6 to give an entry point for the relief force. The tribesmen shot as irregulars, but fight hand to hand on an equal par, they as have an increased movement as they are used to moving through the terrain. The rocky outcrops represent difficult ground, so slow movement they also provide cover for any troops on them. Finally for that potential twist, the afghans have not been paid sufficiently this means that any ‘Fubar’ results of a 1or 2 will not only see friendly fire but the unit will immediately chance sides. Although we both slightly lost sight of it the agreed objective at the start was the area of open ground around the road/rail junction (we ended up fighting over the building) All simple stuff really ๐Ÿ˜€
On to the action the British have left a contingent of Sikh infantry at the train. As luck would have it the Locals arrive from the direction of the water tower
And by chance the British relief force along the railway to the south.
Afghan scouts behind the building, but they are forced to take cover by a British support Plane armed with a Vickers machine gun
The enemy arrive, although their slightly lower morale means a bit of an annoying delay
The British support by two squads of 1st Indian Regiment fan out from their entry point.
Native cavalry allied with the Russians gallops forward and shoots from the saddle killing many of the Sikh defenders.
Given their greater mobility the Afghans are slow to deploy
The British have loaded a Vickers machine gun in the truck, but manage to jump out when it is set on fire by shooting from the cavalry, they soon get their revenge wiping them out.
Tribal forces continue to advance, you can’t see it but the British have sent a Rolls Royce Armoured car down the right flank
The scouts by the building can do little as they are pinned down
But the afghans now have the high ground overlooking the objective
The scouts are now cut off but make one final suicidal charge before dispersing into the hills
Puffs of smoke show where the afghans are shooting from the rocks. Just visible in the distance the British plane has been hit and is forced to leave the battlefield 
We now entered a fierce period of the battle where the objective changed hands several times
Having dealt with the scouts the British are now moving in on the objective from all sides
But they are exposed and are taking losses and we are close to the end of the battle
It had to happen the unit on the hill, blunders, friendly fires on the unit defending the building ! and changes sides
Seeing the defenders weakened by the friendly fire, the Indian squad fixes bayonets and charges in, but they only hold the building for a moment
They too are charged by some Russian irregulars
But there are more British infantry closing in on the objective. At this point the battle ended, although my narrative and the final pictures don’t quite tell the story we gave it to the British, they are pretty much in control of the objective and in a commanding position, especially with one of the Afghan units changing sides, and they have cut off the enemy retreat with the armoured car.

Another enjoyable battle and nice to get this different and fun period on the table. I do wonder if I need some more Afghans though ?

This is probably the last battle before Christmas…but we will see.

Thanks as always ๐Ÿ‘ Matt



Saturday, 17 December 2022

Smolensk 1941 : Chain of Command

As most of you know I am a long term fan of Bolt Action but have often toyed with CoC. So when George   Offered to play through a WW2 campaign using the rules it was a great opportunity to try them out properly. George has collected all of the figures for a number of these smaller ‘mini’ campaigns so we plumbed for Smolensk 1941. You can find George’s post here http://musingswargameslife.blogspot.com/2022/12/careful-what-you-wish-for.html

Shout out to the guys that write these campaigns as the details and effort are fantastic. There is if you are interested a run through of the whole campaign on Utube.
I’m not going to run through the background which is covered in the Utube video, suffice to say the battle over three days focus around the town of Yartsevo, the winner is the side controlling the three central tables after 8, 10 turns (Battles) the Russians picked by me as I rarely get to play them, get to attack first turn and my force attacked table 3B from table 4 which I already control.
The Russians have either an Infantry Platoon or a small Armoured platoon, and as is the way with CoC you can add to this with extra support depending on a series of simple calculations and dice rolls. The Russians although obviously out gunned have a big advantage in that the infantry platoon is expendable and can be replaced each battle the Germans must be much more careful. Above my Russian starting force, with George’s lovely version of Table 3B
My support, an extra 50cm mortar, a Maxim MMG and a sniper [Annastasia] I also had a pre start barrage and an adjutant who apparently helps get troops onto the table. We didn’t I’m afraid take too many photos as we were too engrossed in the battle.
After the usual pregame scouting etc we ended up with jump off point running roughly along the length of the table, I didn’t manage this well but will have a better idea in the future, as this actually helped the Germans giving me more ground to cover. The after several issues with barrages and delayed entry etc the Germans set up a strong defensive line   With good cover.
It took ages for the Russians to actually get on the table with initially only exchange of machine gun and mortar fire to softened up the defenders, eventually though getting the hang of things the Russian senior commander started to get the three infantry sections forward, putting one into the train station but not opening fire until the rest of the force was ready to break for the attack. Anastasia managed to relocate into the railway station clock tower causing much distraction to the Germans and wounding  one of their leaders. Eventually though she was forced by heavy fire to retreat. Hopefully she will be back !
The Germans dug in by the stone bridge and behind the farm, they put down a tremendous level of fire !
A third section is brought on to the left as well
After several turns the Russians are forced to give the assault a go with both commanders really expecting this to be a massacre
Somehow the combination of the three units with the senior officer now brought forward start to lay down enough fire to shock and then pin the Germans at the bridge. They also manage to defeat and push back the German section behind the farm, each kill being critical with such small squads. With the majority of the Russians still on the table and two of the three German squads broken, the Germans withdrew rather than risk higher casualties.
The Russian senior officer celebrating his surprising success, the railway station in Yartsevo is taken.

Great game and thanks to George for the set up introduction to CoC. Fair to say neither of us expected that outcome as the Germans were putting down a wall of lead and the final assault was to some extent just to test how bad it really was attacking Germans across some open ground. A couple of good rolls, some ineffective German fire and careful use of COC dice to interrupt gave the Russians an unexpected victory. I’m sure the Germans won’t be that easy next time. I suspect both sides will be beefing up as the next battle may be more critical.

So my thoughts on CoC the basics are pretty easy to pick up. I had no idea what I was doing in the patrol phase and completely messed up. With the command roll you always have the possibility that you can’t do anything which I am sure can be frustrating, watching the Utube videos it was amazing that players were simply rolling their dice and then simply declaring they couldn’t do anything so moving on. Games where the dice might by pure luck prevent you carrying out your carefully developed strategy can be frustrating but it is no different for example in Lion Rampant. I do like the attention to detail, squads and team and weapons etc…which is different (although not necessary better than BA). What I do like ‘at the moment’ is the detail put into developing the forces which allows a more realistic feel to the attack vs defence scenario. I can see that the attack vs defence may become slightly predictable ? Obviously it wasn’t in this battle which kind of proves the rule, but for example there was no incentive or sense in the Germans moving all they could and should realistically do was dig in at the back and lay down as much fire as they could. Obviously as this was my first battle I have nothing to compare it with others will have more experience.

We made a few mistakes with the rules but those we made probably evened out, Annastasia was actually better than we thought, both sides may have lost NCO’s quicker but this will come with a few more games. Defenders don’t get barrages which slowed down the Russian deployment but as the Germans couldn’t shoot them at that point it didn’t matter. All in all really enjoyed the Game, looking forward to the next instalment. It has of course got me thinking about a CoC force, Germans and British I can do with my current forces but it has given me some ideas…after all I always need another project.

Games are coming thick and fast as we approach a Christmas lull and we just finished another back of beyond battle which I’ll post in a couple of days.

Matt ๐Ÿ˜€


Thursday, 15 December 2022

The Battle of Plataea 479BC

With the recent painting of Persians I had hoped to have a full Battle of Plataea, but this didn’t happen before the weather went cold so this will have to wait till next spring. In the meantime and to get a better feel for the scale and complexity of the battle we played it as a remote hex based game.

This was significantly larger than our normal hex battles with a full 6x4 table and over 20 units per side. We were using Jon’s amended Impetus rules which  I am now becoming more familiar with speeding up play.

As per my usual lax approach I will only give a very brief overview of the history of the Battle, it is well described in this useful Osprey Publication for those wanting more or wiki

Plataea was one of the largest Greek/Persian battles and perhaps most significant as the Greek victory brought to a close the second major Persian invasion of Greece. For those that don’t know this is the battle right at the end of the ‘300’ Film where, having delayed Xerxes at Thermopylae, the main Spartan army has joined with the Athenians and other allied Greeks to turf out the Persians. Of course history is much more complex as many Greeks fought with the Persians as allies. After sacking Athens and the Sea battle at Salamis in 480BC Xerxes headed home leaving his General Mardonius to complete the subjugation of the troublesome Greek states. After resting during winter there was some chasing about the Peloponnese until the two armies came together, As usual the Spartans delayed joining the Athenians for quite a while. When they did the Spartan General Pausanias took over command of the allied army. However, neither General wanted to attack too early the Persians wanting more favourable ground for their cavalry, the Greeks not wanting favourable ground for the Persian cavalry. For about 2 weeks the two armies faced each other across the Asopus River and only skirmished. The Greeks then finally made a blunder becoming disorganised during a night movement and the three main elements of the Greek army becoming separated. The Persians seeing their opportunity attacked the isolated Spartans. The Stehnains ended up fighting the Theban and other Greeks supporting the Persians and a third phase of the battle took place when the Persian camp was eventually sacked.

The battle set up then translates onto the table, three distinct ‘blocks’ for both sides, the Spartans separated from the rest of their allies by the Asopus Ridge. Although I set up the battle without really thinking about specific balance between the two sides as it happens when the ‘points’ were calculated for both sides they were almost exactly equal. The Persian greater numbers matched by the more expensive Hoplites. We weren’t sure how long the game would take but as it happens it was about 3 hours. I will confess now I didn’t take that many photos the action was far to frenetic and exciting so I’m afraid not a blow by blow account. Jon may be able to add some flavour as the Persian General ?
The Persians had the initiative in the first turn, but in subsequent turns it was rolled for. Mardonius immediately advanced his main army towards the isolated Sparatans who edged forward to meet them. Despite the Sparatans getting the first charge the shear size of the Persian Sparabara infantry blocks including two blocks of Immortals immediately knocked the stuffing out of the Spartan line. And of course due to their isolation they weren’t going to get any support for a while
The central Greek units have started to move towards the Asopus ridge but already some of the Persian infantry has broken through to block any support having wiped out the weaker left wing of the Spartan line. 
Closer to Plataea the Athenians are advancing towards the Thebans.
In the centre the Greeks are now badly disorganised
Devastation on the Spartan wing. In a matter of two or three turns the Persians have effectively wiped out the Spartan army. The Greek army is already trailing far behind and things are not looking good
Finally the Athenians and the Thebans are closing to combat
and in an almost mirror image of the other end of the battle the Thebans simply crumble in the face of the Athenian hoplite attack
What Spartans ? Somehow the elite right wing has been wiped out, only Pausanias and his bodyguard remain !
So the battle at this stage is almost lost for the Greeks as the devastation of the elite Spartan troops equates to much higher victory points than the Thebans.

Unfortunately I have to admit the battle became incredibly engrossing at this point with very tense combats on both sides, I simply didn’t take photos of this section I think at this point the Greeks only had 5 remaining breakpoints to the Persian’s 12. It was almost lost………..
Somehow the Greeks won the initiative and the Athenians drove the remaining Thebans from the field and as casualties mounted we found ourselves in the tantalising position of both armies with only a single remaining breakpoint each. This was after three hours of gaming and with both sides starting with over 20 breakpoints each.
The Persians almost grasped victory in the centre but couldn’t grasp that last point
But in a desperate attempt to take the win the Persian (Greek) light cavalry attempted a charge, catching the Athenians in the flank but foolishly they had not realised they were charging an almost intact unit with one of the Greek generals Aristides attached. The cavalry are forced back and the Greeks take the win.
Exhausted and isolated it would take some time for news of the victory to reach Pausanias who was on the far side of the battlefield.

So there you have it, sorry for the lack of photos, but it was an extremely close and absorbing battle. After the Spartans were wiped out I gave them no chance but somehow they clawed it back. In our after battle discussion I did think the Persian could have won or at least given them selves a better chance as the light cavalry charge was a long shot. We will definitely be trying to play this one again sometime. Although I might have a go at Marathon if I can develop a balanced scenario ?

Thanks as always ๐Ÿ‘

Matt