Monday, 31 July 2017

Cold War Commanders Joy of 6 2017

It's been a couple of weeks since Joy of Six, but better late than never.  The Cold War Commanders laid on one of the centrepiece demo/participation games at the show, using the Cold War Commander rule set (what else?).  The game highlighted scenarios from our recent campaign games based around a Warsaw Pact invasion of the Landjut area of Northwestern Germany and Denmark.  There wasn't enough play in the day to really write up an AAR, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The entire table with some of the Commanders planning.

The airport, defended by a West German territorial unit and about to be attacked by Soviet VDV.

My Polish marines preparing to land in an enveloping attack from the Baltic.

The Kiel canal.

The main landings on the Baltic coast.

The built up area, garrisoned by some unfeasible number of British Milan firing posts.

A NATO corvette scenic item meanders along the Kiel canal.

My Polish marine engineers preparing to cross the Kiel canal.  Skots are swimming the canal, a vehicle ferry is assembled and ready to carry troops, a floating bridge is ready to start deploying and a second ferry is about to deploy.

T-55s waiting for the bridges to be completed.

Dutch armour and US paratroopers deploying opposite the Polish marines, getting some artillery raining down on them.

Soviet T-72s come under intense fire from British Milan teams in the BUA.

View from the NATO side of the table.

Dutch armour moving up to take the Polish marines under fire.

The Poles get lucky with their air support, as well as some artillery.

NATO waiting for the enemy.

Polish engineers, flatly refusing to move.

VDV visit the airport.

The Dutch and US paratroopers.

The main Polish beachhead.

A great day out.  Lots of fantastic games, all in 6mm.  Unfortunately, between playing, chatting and shopping, I just didn't get a chance to take photos of the other games.  A great opportunity to see most of the 6mm companies all under one roof this side of the pond.

Thanks for looking.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

A couple of games of Battlegroup Tobruk

Will and I played out a couple of games of Battlegroup Tobruk over the last couple of club evenings.

First up, to ease us into the game, we tried one of the scenarios from the book, "The Buffs Last Stand".  The scenario sees a platoon of British infantry, supported by 2pdrs and 25lbrs (both on and off table), dug in on a slight rise in the desert.  They face off against a DAK force with 2 PzIII platoons with PzIV support, an infantry platoon and off table medium and heavy artillery.

We drew lots and I finished up taking on the British.  There are no objectives as such, this is a battle for survival, with the Brits winning simply by holding on.  I chose to concentrate forming a defensive perimeter around the highest point of the rise.  I traded off the threat of artillery against spreading out the defence and risking being defeated piecemeal.

This shows the situation at the end of the DAK activation on the first turn.  To the Brits, small clusters of infantry begin to appear out of the heat haze.

By the third turn, the DAK are moving forward lots of armour.  My off board artillery managed to knock out a DAK MG team, but the DAK artillery have broken the crews of a 2pdr and a 25lbr.  Fortunately, the Quad has moved up and hitched up the gun, towing it away to relative safety.  I thought I was doing all right when I used the guns ambush fire at long range (with the DAK artillery raining down it was use it or lose it) and was astonished to KO 2 of the PzIIIs on my right, while an offboard artillery strike had pinned the PzIIIs on the left (I also drew an immobilised chit when rallying pinned markers and played it on the command PzIII on my left.

I was even more astonished when a 25lbr strike on the right knocked out the last PzIII on my right.  It began to look like things might be going my way.  However, battle chits were building through removing pinned markers and losing guns to artillery fire.

Will rallied the PzIIIs on my left and brought up the PzII and PzIV in support.

A combination of off board artillery and aimed HE fire from the panzers then knocked out another 25lbr and pinned the rest of my guns.  With my battle rating counter total equal to my initial battle rating, I couldn't lift any pins, so decided discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew the survivors.  There had been minor collateral damage from artillery strikes to the British infantry, but most losses were amongst the artillery crews.

The final scene from the British defences.  I suspect next time I will disperse the guns more, as the artillery was the big killer in this game.  Lots of fun though.

Then this week we decided to be more ambitious and set up a multiplayer game based on the Battleaxe scenario in the Rapid-Fire North Africa 1941 supplement.  This pitted a greatly scaled back attempt by 7th Armoured and 4th Indian Divisions to sweep aside the DAK and Italian strongpoints around the Libyan border area and relieve the siege of Tobruk.  The scenario involved the inland actions, with 22nd Guards (represented by a lorried infantry platoon and carrier section plus supports)and 4th Armoured (represented by two Matilda II troops) Brigades on the British right advancing on Fort Capuzzo.  In the centre, the Crusaders and A9/A13 cruisers of 7th Armoured Brigade (2 Crusader troops and 1 troop of A9/A13s) advanced on Point 208 on the eastern edge of Hafid Ridge.  On the British left, the 7th Armoured Division support group (lorried infantry platoon and carrier section, 2 batteries of on table 25lbr and 2 sections of 2pdr portees) advanced into the open flank west of Hafid Ridge.

The British initial table edge deployment, 7th Amd support group closest to camera, 7Amd in the middle and 22nd Guards and 4th Amd in the distance.  The Italian strongpoints are just visible in the far distance, Point 206 in the open, Fort Capuzzo beyond to the left and Musaid at the far table edge.  Point 208 on Hafid Ridge is just visible on the left hand edge of the photograph.

Historically, the British were taken by surprise by the appearance of a counter attack in the form of 15th Panzer division (in our game 2 PzIII platoons, a Panzer IV platoon and supports) arriving on turn 2, and 5th Light Division (1 PzIII, 1 mixed PzIV and PzII platoon and supports) arriving on Turn 3.

This view shows Point 208, with Point 206 beyond to the right, Fort Capuzzo beyond to the left under the giant hand, which hides the Musaid strongpoint.

Turn 3 and 5th Light panzers advance in the shelter of Hafid Ridge in the foreground.  In the distance, beyond Point 208, 15th Panzer are in a firefight with 7th Amd.

5th Light Panzers behind Hafid Ridge (I took this as I really like the way Will has arranged stowage on these vehicles).

The teeth arm of 5th Light.

Ian managed to pick an aircraft chit and rolled a 6 to call it in, so in came an MG armed Hurricane.  It attempted to deal with the 15th Panzer 88mm, which was a threat to 4th Amd's Matildas advancing in the open in the far distance - an 88 at that distance struggles to hit, but if it does, the Matilda is very likely to be wrecked.

Fortunately for 15th Panzer, AA fire pins the Hurricane.

5th Light panzers have advanced to take hull down positions on Hafid Ridge, while their lighter forces have moved out around the western end of the ridge.  The Pz IIIs of 5th Light have pinned the Support group 2pdr portees, but have taken losses from the 25lbrs of the support group.  In the centre, 15th Pz are trading shots with 7th Amd and seem to be winning the firefight.

Shots continue to be traded.  The 25lbrs are very potent, even across the table, causing a steady drain on 5th Light vehicles.

Unfortunately, time was against us and we ran out of time.  Although not over, the British were finding it difficult to make progress.  The 4th Amd and 22nd Guards were threatening Point 206, although the Matildas had been immobile for several turns.  The 7th Amd had lost almost all their Crusaders, although they did manage to get an A13 up to the perimeter of Point 208, overrunning an AT gun in the process.  The support group had not lost much but were being kept pinned down, except for the 25lbrs, which remained a thorn in the side of 5th Light.

All in all a fun game.  This would have made a great weekend game, which could have incorporated more of 4th Indian Divisions struggle around Hell Fire pass.  We shall see if there is any interest.

Thanks to Will for supplying most of the kit for both games and for attempting to match an already heavily "bath-tubbed" Rapid-Fire version to the Battlegroup Tobruk organisations, which weren't always simple conversions.  Overall, it worked really well.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Vaagso Commando raid Gauntlet 2017

Members of the SOTCW (Richard C, Will, Richard P and I) had arranged to play a big Chain of Command game at the Gauntlet show over the weekend of 1st/2nd July.  We set up a 12x5ft table, mostly using Will's terrain which had an outing at the same event last year when we played out a Korsun Pocket game set on the Eastern front.  Snowy base comprises white bed sheets that Will has distressed with swathes of spray on greys, scattered with white vermiculite.  Will has a range of snowy and "normal" conifers, which made up the bulk of the inland area.  The sea is a combination of blue bed sheet and blue plastic card.   For the predominantly rocky coastline, we scattered some of Wills basing grit.  Will laid on most of the buildings alongside some of mine, which Will winterised with some add-on white felt.

On the day, Richard P was unwell (get well soon Richard) and couldn't attend, so we drafted in Gary to make up a fourth player.  Unfortunately, Richard was making a building suitable for the Ulvesund hotel and had a lighthouse, so we had to improvise.  Fortunately, a stone built hotel style building was found in Wills European building collection and Will hurriedly prepared the red and white lighthouse out of bits of household rubbish - amazing.

Looking north along the shore of Vaagsofjord.  The town of Maaloy (called South Vaagso by the British at the time) stretches along the shore into the far distance.

Wharfs along the shoreline with fish oil factories inland - one of the targets of the commando raid.

Will's scratch built armed trawler, one of the sources of Kriegsmarine reinforcements for the defenders.

The coast southwest of South Vaagso, where the commandos would be landing as per their historical deployment.

Looking south from the far end of South Vaagso.

Maaloy Island, just adjacent to South Vaagso, now linked by a modern roadbridge.  In the centre of the table is the freshly built barracks block housing the Kriegsmarine gunners manning the 4 WW1 vintage 75mm guns in their emplacements, the main target of the Commandos on this table.

Part of Maaloy Island.

The Kriegsmarine barracks and gun positions.

Jetties along the coast of South Vaagso.

More jetties and wharfs.  Loads of drums filled with fish oil.

Prepared defences south of Vaagso, a covered sfMG position and an open 20mm AA position.

The main area of fighting on the southern side of South Vaagso.

On the first day, I pitted a troop of veteran commandos against a platoon of regular German infantry commanded by Will.  I finished up with 12 points of support including a 2 tube 3" mortar section, an extra rifle/Bren section, medic, engineer team and 2" mortar team.  Will had 6 points and I regret to say I can't remember what he spent it on.

A British section advances along a hedgerow to get into a firiong position from cover on the Ulversund Hotel, the buff coloured building in the left middle distance.  Another section is moving up the left flank adjacent to the woods using another hedgeline as cover.

On the waterfront, one section has occupied the brick-built factory while another has just disembarked from the LCA.

A German section rashly advances out of the hotel and occupies a pig sty at the side of the church.  Shock quickly builds up.

The section in the corner of the field is now firing on the Ulversund Hotel, while the section by the church try and deal with the Germans garrisoning the pig sty.

On the waterfront, fire from German sections in surrounding buildings, especially the hotel, begin to whittle down the commandos, bren sections have to be very lucky to win a firefight with an MG34 team.

The Germans have broken the commando squads landing on the waterfront and now start to filter back through the buildings.

Germans pulling back into the hotel building.

The losses on the waterfront were too much for the commandos, and their command rating dropped to zero, meaning they could no longer be issued orders.  They still held the firing position in the corner of the field and the church, but lacked the ability to do anything else.  Pretty much a historical outcome as initial commando moves into town were repulsed by a stop line around the Ulvesund hotel, but a definite win overall for the Germans.

Things went even worse on Maaloy.  Richards commandos, with only 2 points of support, failed to make headway and were broken and a follow-up platoon suffered the same fate, after knocking out two of the guns.

Overnight we agreed to close down the Maaloy table and focus on Vaagso.  Will and I each took a commando troop plus supports, my troops advancing along the road and Wills landing on the waterfront.  Richard C defended the town, while Gary had a scratch platoon of 2 Gebirgsjaeger squads and 2 Kriegsmarine squads at the northern end of the waterfront.

Will and I quickly got our troops into firing positions around the Ulversund hotel and began battering it.  I managed to get the mortar spotters into a position to see up the street in Vaagso and call in a withering mortar barrage, which kept Gary at arms length.

Troops advancing towards the Ulvesund, with a Vickers MG and observer team in the field getting into position.

More commandos moving at speed to get into cover.  A preliminary barrage was quite successful at keeping heads down in the Ulvesund.

More commandos struggle ashore.

Last commandos reserve advancing along the road into town.

Commandos still getting into position, but fire from most houses surrounding the Ulversund plus the MG team begin to whittle down the Ulversund defenders.  3" mortar fire is disrupting the German reserves attempting to get to the Ulversund.

The mortar barrage doing its thing.

Near the end, the commandos are breaking cover and advancing on the Ulvesund under cover of fire from the MG team and from Will's commandos on the waterfront.

At this stage, Richard's platoon had undergone heavy losses with units pinned by mortars in the HQ office behind the hotel and units breaking in the Ulversund, and he decided they had done enough and resigned.  Gary's troops were unable to make headway, so we called a close to the game.
All in all a lot of fun.  The rules really do reward using the basics of fire, movement and cover, and punishes troops advancing in the open.  Hard work fighting house to house, just like the real thing and, on the second day once we had the right mix of attackers and defenders, leading to a satisfyingly historical outcome.  It was also great to catch up with friends and spend a relaxing couple of days gaming.
Thanks for looking.