Sunday, July 12, 2009

Talavera Game

I played in a Volley & Bayonet, Road to Glory game on Friday night at our wargames club. It was an excellent game. I commanded the British forces under Wellesley. The game played pretty close to what I understand to be the historical flow of the battle. The French massed the majority of their forces against the British flank and used their cavalry and a small infantry force to screen the Spanish. Actually, this game very closely mirrored the historical battle with my British force holding along the stream which cut directly across the battlefield. The Spanish even sent the same amount of assistance in the form of one of their infantry divisions and some cavalry assets to reinforce our British forces as the French attack developed. The French attack was ferocious with great use of their artillery to try and blast their way across the water obstacle. Although they did get across the stream, I squeezed out a couple of local counter-attacks which restored most of the line. I have to admit, I didn't expect any of my counter-attacks to be successful given the huge numbers of French attacking me.

Although we didn't get to finish all of the turns because of time considerations, it was generally agreed that the French couldn't get to the objective roads behind the Spanish/British lines by the end of the game turns allowed in the scenario.

It was a very enjoyable game and my thanks go out to Charlie for putting on a great scenario. I look forward to playing it again sometime, perhaps as the French. I learned that you have to defend along a stream or river if you have one on your front. The imposition of disorders for the attackers is critical in being able to defend with even a numerically inferior force. The other thing is that you cannot mass forces in the attack. If your lead units are disordered or rout and they hit your follow-on forces then your entire attack will end up getting very messed up. You have to set up an attack in echelon and leave some distance between units in case you run into problems with the initial wave. Sort of just like they did it in Napoleon's time!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pegasus Bridge Wargame Report

As my previous post shows, we played a Pegasus Bridge scenario using the CROSSFIRE rules at the club game day last week.

The game was played by two British Players (Alan "AJ" Wright and Andrew Simpson) against two German players (Tom DiGiuseppe and Ed Mueller). The game starts with the placement of British gliders on the board where the allies want them to land. Each glider is then diced for using 1d10 and a direction die from WH40k (don't tell the rest of the club!). The Brits gambled a bit and placed two of their gliders on the west side of the Caen Canal. This gave them 1/3 of their force (and both HMG's) attacking the Pegasus Bridge from the less defended side.

Under my scenario rules the German garrison has to be "alerted" before it can react to the British. This is done on a certain die roll once the British start firing or crossing wire obstacles and assaulting positions.

The British managed to move in towards the defenses without being spotted and they eliminated the AT Gun crew on the East side of the Pegasus Bridge before the Germans started waking up. The glider troops on the West side of the canal also eliminated the HMG posts at the end of the bridge and held German troops in the western trench system at bay. Soon the Bridges were pretty well in hand and the Grondee Cafe was captured in a short hand to hand fight.

As German reinforcements (including a couple of Stug III's and PzrGren Platoon) began to arrive the Brit players had worried looks on their faces. The timely arrival of two No. 6 Commando Platoons and a couple of Shermans evened the score. In one of the better moments of the game, one of the German assault guns took out the two Shermans as they came on the board and the Brits again lapsed into a bit of concern. They quickly recovered and started to use their superior infantry by fire and maneuver as well as close assault to overcome the German defenses. The Germans tried to secure the bridges with the assault guns and managed to get one on each bridge. By that point in time they were getting short of infantry and soon the vehicles were isolated from any support. Once the PzrGren's were suppressed or destroyed the Germans capitulated and the game ended. In tallying up the victory points, the British were judged to have a marginal victory.

Some of the feedback I got included the need for a time limit on the game. As one German player pointed out, if the Germans have to hold on indefinitely then they will always lose. I can see what he means from the results of this game, however, I have seen the British crash into the river losing one entire glider worth of attackers and in other games I have seen the initial assaults turned into bloody massacres. In a couple of results the British force was so mauled that they couldn't generate enough firepower to get an attack going. Perhaps having some German indirect fire will make it a bit more balanced of a scenario. I also need to let German forces maneuver around the board once they are alerted. The players both liked and disliked the 360 degree nature of the battlefield with German reinforcements apt to come in at either bridge. This kind of helps balance out the great flexibility the Brits enjoy in picking the point of attack.

All of the commanders played a great game. As always, the camaraderie of the club was outstanding and everyone seemed to have a very good time. Overall I am pretty happy with the scenario and with just a couple of additional refinements I think it will be an even more enjoyable game.

I have heard that CROSSFIRE 2 is due out soon and I am really looking forward to seeing what changes/improvements have been made! I will soon be setting up another scenario for a club game night/day which pits some regular infantry types against each other in a more conventional battle. Stay tuned for that battle report.

D-Day Memorial Wargame

I hosted a D-Day Memorial wargame last Saturday at the Northern Conspiracy game day. The Scenario was Pegasus Bridge using the CROSSFIRE rules set and my 20mm figure collection. The scenario pits elements of the 2d Bn, Oxs and Bucks against garrison troops around the bridge and some reinforcements including assault guns and mechanized troops. Here is a photo of the game table as we started:

As you can see the game is set from Benoville to the Orne River. The silver bridge represents the Benoville (Pegasus) Bridge across the Caen Canal and the black bridge represents the Orne River (Horsa) Bridge. The building closest to Pegasus Bridge is the Grondee Cafe and the other buildings are representations of Benoville and Le Port.

The British arrive by glider and here is a couple of photos of the British with Horsa Gliders I made from card stock:

The British come from 6th Airborne Division, 2d Battalion, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, D Company. This unit was commanded by MAJ John Howard. They were highly trained and historically carried out their assigned tasks against the bridges in an extraordinary manner.

The Germans defending the bridges came from the 736th Grenadier Regiment, 716th Division which was a static defense unit of Ost troops led by German officers and NCO's. Historically, these troops put up a less than stellar defense of the bridge which they lost within one hour of the British gliders touching down. Here are a couple of photos of the German defenders:

In the next post I will recap the game we played.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Game Report - Napoleonic Tournament Campaign

My first game in the Napoleonic Tournament Campaign we are running at the Northern Conspiracy was against Andrew S. and his Russian horde. I am playing with a later French allied army composed of Polish and Italian troops. I have two quality line infantry divisions and one regular infantry division and a conscript line infantry division. I also have one light cavalry division and one heavy cavalry division. My corps and army commands have artillery support and the army commander has an independent cavalry brigade.
Our game was set up using an interesting book that I have with 100 tournament game maps in it. You roll two ten-sided die and refer to the book for the set up. It includes hills, rivers, roads, swamps, fields, basically everything you could think of for terrain.
Our terrain ended up being pretty simple. Two hills and a large forest on my left, a swamp in the left center of the table and one smaller hill on my right. The center and right center of the table were pretty flat and open. This picture shows the initial deployment of our armies on the table.

Andrew and I drew basically the same card with most of our forces leaving the battlefield on turn 1 and coming back on the table as returning detachments. My troops returned sooner and I began to move across the board towards Andrew's LOC. Andrew designed his army to be strong defensively and he immediately picked a strong position anchored on the swamp, which he knew I couldn't cross. With skirmishers and dedicated guns on every stand he had quite a strong position once he went stationary. This picture shows the battle evolving around turn 3.

I attempted to set my light cavalry division on a flank attack around my left, his right. The division actually got into a position where it could attack one of his two cavalry divisions. Here is the one moment of glory for the Polish forces on this day as two cavalry brigades and a horse gun take on the mounted Russian hordes!

Much to Andrew's credit he didn't throw any dice at me as he repeatedly missed the heroic 2nd Light Horse Brigade (shown here).

I think we counted something in excess of 25 die rolls which all missed. I managed to exhaust the cavalry division, however, he had reserves coming onto the board just as I broke through and he stabilized the situation. My own cavalry division became exhausted and retired to the hill on my left to wait out the rest of the battle.

Finally, I realized that I had to try and get around a flank - so I tried both at the same time! Here is my Italian division trying to get through the forest and into his right flank. They would not succeed!

Andrew deftly countered each of my maneuvers using his interior lines and continued to set a very strong defensive line every time I moved. Notice the defensive front already forming even before the Italians can get through the woods in the picture above. At turn 10 we decided to conclude the battle and count up victory points. Andrew won the game by one point.
Hats off to my valiant opponent. He learned from the last two games of V&B that we played. He protected his flanks and set up a strong defense to try and entice me in. I couldn't maneuver him out of position and I didn't want to get into a situation where my troops were out of position either.
Once we concluded the battle for the tournament we continued with a few moves and I decided to throw in a couple of attacks to see how I could do against his line. Given his stationary status, and the significant number of heavy gun stands that he has, my attacks were predictably non-starters. I lost several strength points and he was in a great position to conduct a counter attack at the end.
Lessons learned include the following:
1. Don't attack a stationary enemy who has dedicated guns and skirmishers. Too many defensive dice to take on. One must maneuver to a point of strength and put in an overwhelming attack.
2. Cavalry do not stand a chance against any kind of formed infantry if there are dedicated guns and skirmishers. Too many dice to fight as the cavalry cannot take any amount of punishment due to their low exhaustion levels.
3. Don't wait too long to put in your assault, especially if there is difficult terrain to cross to get into the attack.
I should have decided to attack from the very beginning and then gone for it. If I had infantry support for the cavalry flanking maneuver (or vice-versa) than my assault would have been much more successful. Hindsight, as always, is 20/20. Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I am enjoying the campaign.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hosted a Quatre Bras Game

I hosted a Volley & Bayonet game recreating the Battle of Quatre Bras 1815. As you may or may not know this was one of several small battles preceding the Battle of Waterloo. Armies were the Anglo-Allies under the Duke of Wellington against the Left Wing of the French Armee du Nord under Marshal Ney.

The scenario was very balanced and played very well for the four players involved. The French got off to a rocky start with a single stand of Dutch skirmishers defeating two massed stands of French in melee. This exhausted a French division when they routed off the board and were removed from play!

The French recovered sufficiently to resume the advance, however, by the time they got into a general assault the Allied line was too strong and the French never managed to get to threaten the crossroads.

The armies I have painted look great on the table and I am really glad that I have put together this scenario. I look forward to running the game again soon so we can see if a better first turn or two can make any difference for the French in the long run.

I think some photos were taken of the game so I will try to get copies to post here at the blog so you can see them.

First Campaign Games in the Book

The first several games of our Volley & Bayonet "Tournament Campaign" are in the book. So far we have had a good mix of results and the rest of the tournament should prove very interesting as different armies face off. In my first game against Andrew Simpson's Russian army we maneuvered all across the board but didn't do much fighting as each of us was reluctant to make the first charge. Our battle ended up as a tie.

One thing the tournament has done is generate lively debate about different facets of the rules. One of the major issues has been the impact of dedicated guns and reinforcing skirmishers on combat. All combat is significantly more deadly than it was in the past making the Napoleonic game just as bloody as the the later 19th century combat. Another major change is the different rules regarding infantry voluntarily moving into musket range of cavalry. Infantry now can move into range of a cavalry stand and blast away. If the cavalry survives the infantry still has an advantage in melee, even when it is not stationary. I will post more when I have a chance on the battle results.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The War Begins!

The Napoleonic Campaign Tournament using the Volley & Bayonet Road to Glory game system has started in our club. We have six Coalition players competing against five French and French Allied players. We will take the next two to three weeks to play the first round games. As the games are played, I will post battle reports here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Airborne Warrior!

As you can see from the set up of my site, I just returned from Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the US Army Airborne School. It was a homecoming for me as I went through the training back in 1988. The reason I went back was to attend my son's graduation from the school! What a proud moment it was to pin his wings on and welcome him into the brotherhood of the airborne trooper. Here is a photo on Marc in his ACU's with the coveted red beret on his head and jump wings on his chest!

The New Campaign

It just seems like all of my campaign ideas have fizzled, however, there is a new one starting and it looks like it will happen!

We have 10 or 11 guys at the Northern Conspiracy who are participating in a Napoleonic Campaign using the relatively new Volley & Bayonet "Road to Glory" rule set. We have 5 French players on a "team" and 6 Allied players on the other "team". Each player will play a full V&B game against each of the opposing team players. Points will be earned in each game and added to the team total. Team with the highest number of points at the end of the campaign will be the "VICTORS".

We are almost set to start the gaming. I will be posting results and comments here as well as on our club website.

Maybe if this campaign goes over well we can get guys interested in giving the Ware of 1812 a try!