Sunday, 27 May 2012

Operation Bagration: Flames of War Battle Report

Another game at Staney Community Centre with Phil from Deeside being joined by myself and John Walliss on the German side, and Red and Luke from the RGMB taking the roles of the Russians.  With a late war eastern front game the overall aim we decided previously to go for something than just a Total War game, and concocted a scenario based on part of Operation Bagration; the great Russian offensive of mid-1944 which shattered the German Army Group Centre.

Firstly some background: With the Germans reeling from the Red Armies hammer blows they fall back in dribs and drabs as best as they can, with Russian tanks hard on their heels.  The remains of the German 4th Army, in the midst of the storm, retreated towards the bridges over the Berezina River in Belorussia with the Russians racing to cut them off.  Their one hope was the arrival of the 5th Panzer Division, rushed into combat to try and re-establish the line and defend the capital Minsk, it has disembarked from its rail head and headed straight into the front line.

The scenario: Put simply my panzergrenadiers, starting South of the river on the Russian side, represent the 4th Army, with Russian troops on both sides, while Johns and Phils tanks and troops are 5th Panzer Division arriving piecemeal in the centre of the German table edge to try and rescue them and stave off the Russian assault on the river crossings.  The 5 bridges/fords are the objectives, with an additional one available for the Russians if they manage to destroy more than half of the German 4th Army.  Over 11,000pts a side for this one so no room for blow by blow accounts, just a general ebb and flow idea.

The initially setup, Reds Russians on the bottom left, Lukes to the top left, and the river and its all-important bridges in plain sight on the right.
Lukes troops closer up, and the German 4th Army grouped around a very advanced Nuclear power generator, which made a wonderful location for my mortar spotter.
The 4th Army response to the Russian arrival; leg it to the river!
The 5th Panzer response to the Russian arrival; counter attack over the river!
Not that its necessarily a good idea when this many Russians are keen to get at you.
A large platoon of Panthers appear in the central town, despite the large number of 4th Army halftracks going the opposite way!  Their presence at least serves to give the rest of 4th Army hope as they head for the buildings to dig in, although it also serves to give the Russian air force a target…..
The Russian Gods of War – 2 massive companies and the Katysha’s – open up, but cause little damage all game to the great frustration of their owner.
On the Russian left Luke has moved his infantry and special forces into the village to dig in, and controls one of the crossings; the ford.  His T-34/85’s begin an unproductive duel with John’s Tigers and StuG’s, with neither side causing much damage.
On the Russian right a similar story as Reds recon troops take the far right bridge, but this time they have opposition in the form of a Brumbarr platoon with more 4th Army armoured panzergrenadiers on the way.
A colossal battle erupts between Tigers and Reds Russians in the open ground on the Russian right; SU-85’s, T-34/85’s and even IS-2’s queuing up for a bash at the German monster tanks, but unable to cause much damage.
Lukes KV8’s enter the village and attack 4th Army, but apart from destroying the 88’s they cause little damage, and neither Luke nor Red seem keen on pressing home a strong attack with the task of gaining the bridges still before them.
The full battlefield; and of particular note is the German reinforcements now arriving at pace.  Phils exposed Tigers in the foreground now have an additional Konisgtiger and a platoon of Hertzers adding their fire, while John now has five Tigers, StuG’s, PaK40’s and artillery over open sights for his support.
And all this additional firepower came together on the right as John devastates Lukes armour in one savage round of firing.  The tanks that weren’t destroyed ran, and those than remained ‘bought it’ in the following turn, securing the bridge permanently for the Germans.
Phils Tigers go nose to nose with every Russian tank on hand on the Russian right, but still Red can’t inflict any more serious casualties on the Germans, and with additional support at hand it’s the Russians who are now in trouble.
Even their initial success at the bridge is short-lived as the Brumbarrs push them back.
The arrival of the last of the German reinforcements is definitely bad news, as Panzer IV’s stream across the bridges to support the remains of 4th army in the centre, and Phils Tigers on the Russian right.  
Russian tank losses are now at a critical level.
However, after nearly 5 hours of gaming time was nearly upon us, and the Russians pulled off a coup.  Firstly Lukes KV8’s, fuel all spent, sneaked in behind the advancing Panzer IV’s to contest the central bridge.
Then not even the Brumbarrs heavy armour and guns could stop the advance of Reds pioneers as they pushed them from the summit of the far right bridge to hold it.  Even as this action was going on the last of the core of the 4th Army in the village in the centre were driven from the field yielding another Russian objective point.
And then it was over.  The Russians held the far end bridges on each side, and contested two of the three central ones, and had also effectively wiped out 4th Army.  A total result of 3-1 in the Russians favour, and a Red Army Victory.  But only just.

The scenario worked well.  The time limits were kept too, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves!  Credit particularly to Phil who aggressively advanced across the river with his Tigers when he could have chosen a more boring option in staying put and shooting, it was instead Red who was tearing his hair out when his hordes of 85mm guns couldn’t damage them, even from the flanks!  Johns spectacular success on the German right decimated Lukes forces, while my 4th Army nearly escaped destruction.  In the end the Russians had last turn and used it to good effect, snatching victory at the very end.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Work In Progress.........

Over 20 days since the last work in progress report, which means I had better write something!  Oh, but there is no progress, bugger.

With the spare time this month taken up by job interviews (including presentation prep), and Nebosh H&S work the wargaming aspect has been restricted to a few actual games (shocking or what), but no modelling or painting, so instead a quick word about whats on the painting table because thats more interesting.

Several bits are hanging around at the moment, the most painted of which are Talbots pike - a pike block from my English Civil War Royalist army which are waiting for me to finish them.  There are also several 28mm Napoleonic Frenchmen who are guinea pigs for my first use of a new spray (army painter: US Armour, I was looking for a dark-ish brown, jury still out), and finally still on the sprues are the Wars of the Roses figures I purchased at Tripples.  Of the three the WoTR figures are most likely to be worked upon I think due to their fresh, new appeal.  

One other big task completed was the re-packing of all the wargaming stuff in the garage back into boxes in expectation of a house move once more to be nearer my new job, so anything thats not already out is now locked away.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hail Caesar: Romans Vs. Greeks

The Gweeks took on the Wwwomans at the RGMB for the first time.  I revelled in my fully painted Roman army, although I soon started to wonder about ways of making them appear brighter on the table top – buts that’s for another time.  Red had expanded his Greeks substantially, and he commanded two of the three divisions, with Michael the third.  With nobody handy to help me push models around I commanded all three of my divisions.

We devised a simply scenario where the divisions arrived randomly, and then adapted/messed about with it to make it balance during the opening phases of the game.  Reds enthusiasm for a river saw the Greeks starting from one side, and the Romans from the more open other side.  The Romans were quick in arriving, with Tribune Maximus Gittus and his legionaries taking up a right side, and Tribune Farquaad and his larger Legionary force to their left.  With the Greeks massing on the other side of the river I took advantage of some excellent command rolls to race the legionaries forward with the intention of blocking the two bridges and denying the enemy their superior numbers in an open field.

This plan went well until Tribune Gittus and his Legionaries got it all wrong; their attempt at blocking the right hand bridge resulting in first the fourth cohort, then the fifth cohort, and finally a unit of slingers all fleeing in the same turn from the same Hoplite taxi!  With this major loss, and the Greeks flooding across the river,  things looked bad for the Romans.  I threw the large 1st Cohort in against the left bridge, supported by the 2nd and 3rd cohorts of legionaries, and drove off a Hoplite taxi, but took severe casualties  in doing so. 

My general raced the auxiliary division forward, hoping to stem the tide of Greeks on the right, but the action only cost me an auxiliary cavalry squadron in return for a second Hoplite taxi.  The auxiliaries took heavy casualties, and were forced back, while on my left Tribune Farquaads Legionaries were being pushed back by an ever increasing number of Greeks.  The final straw was the eventual arrival of the last third (!) of the Greeks army, as Michael finally passed a command roll!  At this point, and with time upon us, I conceded the field.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Tripples Report: 2012

Today I spent a fair amount of time travelling too and from The English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, and in between had an excellent time at the annual Tripples wargaming convention.  Its over 2 years since I last went to one, and that was in York where I spent most of my time playing FOW instead, and this time round was no disappointment.  Truly a joy for anyone into historical wargaming, and not half bad for those into fantasy either!  Hoping into a car with Michael at 7:30am we headed for Frodsham to pick Aidan up, sadly lacking Red – MIA due to work commitments, and we arrived back in Cheshire/North Wales around 7pm.

The traders list was a very complete one, with plenty in all shapes and sizes, Flames of War, Warlord games stuff and GW bits all represented, plus all manner of other manufacturers including Essex, Dixon, Plastic Soldier Company, 1st Corp, Kalistra, Fieldworks and the Wargames Emporium.  Even spotted one of the Perrys and Paul Sawyer at the Perrys stand.  There was even 2 Darleks (life-sized and active) and several Doctor Who’s at the entrance.

There was also a fair number of demo and participation games, covering a wide range of scales and periods, with some fantasy (a Gothic style one was one of the best looking).  Spotting a Kursk-based 28mm game early on I did something I haven’t before and joined in.  It was a massive battlefield, and looked ace, the T-34’s and SU85s from 1st Corp were particularly nice, and the overall aim was to reach the far end with some of your troops by turn 10.  The rules were based on Blitzkrieg Commander, and it ran very smoothly and I enjoyed myself enough to be thinking of buying tanks, men and rules by the end!  Plus two of my three T34’s made it past 2 PaK40’s and a dug in 88 to reach the end and gain me a prize of a blister of 8 28mm Germans.  Good stuff.

In the afternoon Aidan involved us in a large Doctor Who game, which lasted a fair bit longer.  It was good, but a bit tedious for me because my characters spent most of their time doing not a lot until a big melee in the end, and to be honest I’ve still little idea how it ended or what happened apart from lots of aliens turning up and Aidan winning by default.

On to purchases, and with so much on offer I could have spent a fortune, especially on scenery, some amazing resin city bits which would have made a great 15mm Stalingrad!  In the end I was exceptionally restrained, and only the below list made it back to the car:
  • 5 x Vallejo paints
  • 1 x Army Painter Spray
  • A box of Perrys Wars of the Roses infantry
  • A couple of packs of Gabions (ironworks I think)
  • A load of stamina and disorder markers for Hail Caesar and Blackpowder
  • A couple of extra figures in comfort foam trays for my FOW infantry and tanks

Added to the cost of getting into the show (£5 this time)and petrol costs (far too generous Michael!) a total cost of £67.35 for the day, less than my two companions who both picked up various bits and pieces and bargains.

Other than that general comments would note we took food rather than buy, we watched Doctor Who win a 50 metre sprint against 2 Darleks, and had a very good time.  Reds observations that it is lacking something in atmosphere compared to the previous University venue is right I feel, although not disastrously so.  The reason for the change would appear to be forced by the University no longer allowing external groups to book its space.  The bring and buy (apart from Aidans star purchase of musketeers) was a bit quiet, and the competition space was shoved off to one side and didn’t look a fun place to be, but the rest was excellent.  I took a few pictures, but their on my phone so I’ll put them up on here when I get chance another day.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Work In Progress.........

Tonight I've painted something for the first time in while, so thought I'd celebrate with a work in progress post.  The months been spent working on my health and safety Nebosh course, writing application forms, and latterly compiling and delivering presentations at an interview (fingers crossed there).  

In wargaming terms the Romans are finished, as per a previous post.  I actually got my act together and painted the 24 models from the 1st cohort, the 6 of the auxiliary cavalry unit, and the 3 figures that made up my general on his big base.  Surprisingly it all came together very quickly and easily, I had thought it would be hard going finishing the last few bits.  With those done the Painted Vs. Purchase ratio is looking good:

Painted - 246
Purchased - 106

After those were done the painted tailed off in favour of gaming.  A few Flames of War punch-ups took place, including the big game with Phil from Deeside (German victory of course), my first game in the Deeside Bloodbowl tournament ended in a 3-0 victory against Dave Winter, and with the release of Warlord games ECW suppliment; Pike & Shotte, I got a couple of games in with my Royalists.

That is the catalyst for this evenings painting, which was some work on the last renegade miniatures pike block; 16 models, 4 to a base.  I'm also thinking of doing some FOW German bits, but undecided which ones so far.  The Painted/Purchased ratio may take a hit this month with a trip to a wargaming show for the first time in over 2 years - Tripples in Sheffield on the 19th of May.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Pike & Shotte - Royalists Vs. Swedes

Played my first proper game of Warlord’s new release ‘Pike and Shotte’, something myself and the group at the RGMB have been waiting for a while for.  My previous involvement was restricted to two regiments on the flanks of another game, so this was the big test.  No blow by blow account here, just a few bits and thoughts.

With Red and Aidan out of commission, and Lukes troops confined to the loft it was left to my Royalists to face Michaels Swedes in a straight fight across a 6ft by 5ft table.

With Sir Chris of Fazey commanding my horse Battalia (3 regiments of horse and 1 of dragoons – a temporary fix) on the right, I took the infantry Battalia; my 4 regiments of foote (each with 1 pike block and 2 musket sleeves) down the centre deployed in the Dutch style (sleeves etc).  Earl Michael de Blondeville commanded actual Swedish troops (a mistake in hindsight) lead by Gustavus Adolphus - King Of Sweden (another mistake by the Royalist CO).  He fielded around 5 regiments of foote, with the musket sleeves out in front to cause the damage and pike blocks backing up behind.  Two regiments of horse supported each flank.  Both sides deployed some artillery, but after this mention they won’t appear again.

The Battle:
The Royalists infantry started the ball rolling with a slow advance, while the Royalist horse ignored every command shouted at them for the first 3-4 turns.  The Swedes happily ambled forwards and began an exchange of musketry.  The discovery that the Swedes morale saves are better than the Royalists cause me to throw my pike blocks in as soon as possible to limit the damage from musketry, but to little effect.  On my left Hopton’s regiment was inside the small hamlet, and was forced into hedgehog by the Swedes horse, who were thankfully less effective than the foot who now closed in on the hapless Hopton.

The Swedish infantry, pushed on by Gustavus Adolphus (who was able to give orders to anyone from anywhere – what a set of lungs the man has!), applied pressure, and the King’s Lifeguard pike cracked and fled, leaving a covering screen of musketeers while I pushed the rest of my pike into the fighting around the hamlet.  Plenty of push of pike was going on in that area!

Sir Fazeys horse finally decided to move, although initially not very far, and firstly forced the Swedish infantry in the centre into hedgehog, before clashing with the Swedes horse on the right, with mixed results and nobody being able to claim the upper hand.  With time very much upon us, and both armies (but particularly the Royalist one) looking battered we called it a day, and a Swedish victory.

In hindsight the Swedes had more troops, more guns and better morale saves, not to mention a bloke with a command value of 10, so perhaps a change in their status, or a more bias scenario would have evened up the scores, but regardless it was my fault for setting the game up like it was.

  On my right Chris suffered frustration as his horse refused to move, and then fought an inconclusive few rounds against the enemy horse.  On my left the Swedish horse forced a foot regiment into hedgehog where it was vulnerable to the infantry following up, but were then powerless against it.  The centre saw more push of pike contests than the previous 5-6 games I think, with plenty of contests.  Even the more broken up image of the line due to the pike and shot units being separated out due to the new rules managed to look right.  All in all a decent first outing, needed a better scenario, bigger table and more troops next time!

Starting positions, just after the Royalist foot have surged a mighty 6" forward.  Swedes on the right.

The Royalist pike gets stuck in, but comes off worst.

A view from the Swedish side of the table, with the Swedes starting to put pressure on the hamlet (top) and the horse clashes happening on their left.

Hamlet fighting, the Swedish horse being out of sight behind the buildings.  Stradlings pike would attack the Swedish pike soon after this to relieve Hoptons trapped men.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Romans - A Hail Caesar Project - Part 14: The End

This. Is. It.  The end.  The finale.  The moment when the world came crashing down to the sound of 170 miniature Roman (and auxiliary) painted boots/hooves/paws, for the army is FINISHED.

166 men, 15 horses, 3 bolt throwers and a dog are finished and ready to be thrown into battle.  I’ll deal with some history and background for them in the future some time, so perhaps this isn’t the end (and I have been hankering after adding an elephant or two at some point), but for now here are a few pictures of the finished article.  Their main opponents are expected to be some ghostly ancient Greeks, some less numerous Romano-Brits, and a spattering of Gauls. 

Oddly for the first ever army that I have finished it has proven a bit of an anti-climax.  I’m putting it down to two factors:
Firstly a lack of opponents – the Greeks (Red) are closest in terms of size, but not completed in terms of having arms an legs attached.  The Romano-Brits (Aidan) are rarely seen and few in number, and the Gauls (Luke) are still on the painting table.  There is also the Roman forces of Dave, in one piece at least although unpainted.
Secondly a feeling of worry regarding some of the warlord figures I’ve used.  In particular the pilum’s and the metal standard bearers appear unbelievably fragile despite my purchase of a wealth of foam to hold them in place during travel, and I fully expect a number of un-repairable breakages.

Ah well, maybe I’ll get to use them one day now I’ve depressed myself.  Pictures below.

Average Joes 2012 - The Rats Rise Again - Part 2

Match Day 1 – Average Joes Vs. Lakhti Longships

The first opponents for Average Joes in their foray into the Deeside Defenders Championship was the fearsome Norse team of Coach Dave Winters; Lakhti Longships.  Eager for a taste of the unknown the ratty fans outnumbered the bearded ones more than twice over, with 10,000 skaven fans to only 4,000 Viking wannabees, and they were not disappointed.  ‘Joes kicked to Lakhti at the beginning of the first half, but almost immediately a dreadful fumble by the Norse thrower left the ball open, and one of the famed three gutter runners; Pepper Brooks, snatched it up and raced into the end-zone for 1-0. 

The remainder of the half saw the Norse try and force their way down the pitch at the expense of several ratty nose bleeds and an injury to linerat Dip that put him out of the rest of the match. The Norse blitzers with their Frenzy were of particular trouble!  Although they came very close to equalising, a dropped pass, when it seemed easier to score, foiled them.  The second half began with Average Joes receiving for the first time, and they following this up by executing a rough cage on the right side of the pitch.  The ball was handed off in a training ground move by thrower Murdock to Pepper Brooks who once more sped away through a gap in the defence for his second to make the score 2-0, and Lakhti were really up against it. 

They came barrelling back with a serious of crunching blocks and blitz’s, one of which took ‘Joes linerat Dwight out of the match, and several more rats were also knocked out, including storm vermin La Fleur.  A measure of revenge was gained by throwing rat The Lone Rat when it took out a Norse linesman.  The Norse attack took it nearly as far as the skaven endzone before a well-timed tackle ended their hopes and the ball was launched down the field.  In a wild scramble it was gutter runner The Rat who made sense of it all, landing a perfect pass to the last of the famed three; Cotton McKnight, standing in the endzone in the last seconds for a 3-0 victory and a perfect start to the campaign.  Much credit goes to the opposition who played to the spirit of the game right to the end, even when on the wrong end of an exaggerated score-line that hid how close the game was, especially in the second half.

Looking Forward

The month of May doesn’t hold a fixture for Average Joes, so Lord Flashearts team will be reduced to bystanders as the Norse Lakhti Longships face a tough encounter with Wrexham ABC, needed a result to get their season back on track.  Flasheart has declared that he believes his side needs a minimum of 7 points from their 4 games to be guaranteed qualification, and although he refuses to say where they will pick them up this weeks victory was a major step towards that total.  Next up is the Halfling Ankle Biters in June.

We can also now confirm the other teams in ‘Joes group as the following:
Wrexham ABC – Human (Head Coach – Dafydd)
Ankle Biters – Halfling (Head Coach – Paddy)
Lakhti Longships – Norse (Head Coach – Dave Winter)
Anonymous – Necromancer (Head Coach – Dave Mc)