Sunday, 9 June 2019

682 - D-Day Campaign Phase 1a (British Airborne Landings)

Hello, All,

Last week the local club's approach to a D-Day Mini-Campaign kicked off, with two parallel battles taking place in the early hours of June 6th 1944. This post records the first of them, played by Alex and Sam...

Assault on the Merville Battery

Objective: Destroy the German 150mm battery

Under the staunch leadership of Lt Col Otway, Alex's men of the British 9th Parachute Bn had edged toward the battery perimeter, and Capt Greenway's men had cleared paths through most of the mines, but the battalion had lost way too many of their men and equipment in the landings... 
The Scenario Map from Warlord's Campaign: D-Day 
(used w/o permission. Note the minefields, marked with brown patches) 
Sam's absolutely SUPERB interpretation
of the map. We had to improvise the mines,
so we used brass drawing pins. It worked a treat! 

So, under-equipped and perilously undermanned, Otway decided to forgo the last few yards of breaching, and instead headed round the flank to attack from the road entrance!
The Paras veer off to flank along the road.

This was a departure from the historical battle, but there were some similarities, like - for example - the prompt destruction of the perimeter machinegun nests. 
 Here, the extent of the minefields is clear.
You can see why Alex's Otway went round instead! 

The Paras made great progress up the road (and clearing the buildings) at first, but then, when the inexperienced defenders started to make sense of the dim shapes flitting through the darkness, their fire started to whittle the Brits down.
The Static Infantry Div troops are okay
to start with. 
The Paras are grateful to reach the buildings. 

Ne'er disheartened, the Paras stoically fought on and into the gateway to the battery, overwhelming those squads who'd rushed out to meed them. 

And then, just as they were nearing the gun in the first casemate, all resistance crumbled. As a couple of the remaining perimeter teams fled back through their lines, the stunned men of 1st Bty, Artillery Regiment 1716 and 716th Static Infantry Div put down their arms, put up their hands, and shuffled forward in the dark. 

Otway's men were relieved, to say the least: casualties had been high, but at least the Old Man hadn't made them attack through the fence and minefield. Also, having lost their explosives in the landing, they now had a little more time to work out how to destroy or disable the guns...which it turned out were not the 150mm guns they'd been briefed on, but instead some old Czech 100mm howitzers. 
An RAF photo-reconnaissance shot
of the abandoned battery, 0743hrs.

Still, at least that was one battery which now wouldn't be able to engage the men on the beaches!

By 0530, and under attack now from another German battery, the 9th Bn moved off toward their next objective: Sallenelles.

- - - 

Hearty thanks go out to Alex, Sam and Charlie, without whom none of this would have been thinkable, and Guy, for the loan of guns and scenery. Some of these pics are courtesy of Alex, and Sam and Charlie did a truly MASTERFUL job of setting out the scenery. 

The next post will be Phase 1b: the US 82nd and 101st Airborne randomly scrapping their way through the darkness of rural Normandy... Watch this space! 

- Drax. 

Monday, 27 May 2019

681 - Super-fun Intro Game of Bolt Action

So super-fun, in fact, that I forgot to take enough pictures!
Last week, a new fellow - David - came along to the club in Torbay in the hope of trying out some Bolt Action, so I jumped in on the game that Alex and Sam were going to have and we bumped it up to a 2v2, 1500pts per side game instead, with US and British Allies in Normandy defending three hard-won crossing points over the upper Meuse River from a German counterattack.
Sam had got there early enough to set up a gorgeous table and come up with the scenario: cleverly, there was no set-up (all units had to advance on), but - having won the toss - the Allies got to choose their table edge, and this made them defenders too, meaning that contested objectives would go in their favour.

David had chosen to play Brits, so he took charge of 750 points' worth of my 4KSLI with a Cromwell in support...
...and Alex had his Yanks - including his stalwart Rangers, whom we allowed a pre-game 'run' onto the board. 
Facing them, Sam and I opted for an attack across a fairly broad front - we were very restricted in our movement by terrain, especially a tributary of the Meuse which cut our side in half. The Allies also had two bunkers in one corner, which was bound to make them a very tough nut indeed to crack!

Some of the Germans:
I shan't provide a blow-by-blow account; instead, here are a few of the highlights...

On turn two, a squad of my Heer de-bussed from their Hanomag and opened-up on the unsuspecting Rangers...without a shadow of a doubt this was the best single roll I've ever made in twenty-mumble years of wargaming - distracted by a firefight across the river, the Rangers were slaughtered from their flank, losing ten of the eleven men remaining at one fell swoop:
Shortly thereafter, the plucky British PIAT team snuck-up and blew their Hanomag sky-high with a beautifully placed spigot round. Everyone loves a rare PIAT success, and David was no exception! 
Whilst the opposing tanks flirted with each other and the troops jockeyed for position, the Allied forward observers were setting up to call in their support: the British FOO called in a fire mission on a dense concentration of Germans in the bottleneck on our right flank, whilst the US air observer called in a strike on the Germans approaching the bridge. Sadly for him, his transmission was cut short as he was gunned-down in his OP. Did enough of the target information get through?

Turn four started with the off-table 25pdr batteries raining death on the German lines: some fortuitous rolling from David led to a MASSIVE bombardment of our troops: the 12'' radius caused a huge amount of pins and the loss of another three German units - the sniper, the mortar, and the PaK36 Hanomag.

Ouch. Sadly, no pics.

Then came the roar of engines and the USAF zoomed in...straight at the wrong target! Yes, the AOP's dying message had evidently been garbled, because the 'Jabo' took after its own Sherman and spread around an awful lot of pins. A pity that it didn't finish off that pesky tank, but after the awesome success of the British artillery, the airstrike cock-up did cause much hilarity at least!

The biggest moments after this, really, were the Germans taking the bridge and whiffing another two Panzerfaust shots before being gunned down by the vengeful Tommies, and the Yanks consolidating the ford on their right flank. 

Game over: a secure Allied victory, with them holding two of the three crossing points.

This was an absolutely cracking game, and a pleasure to meet David, as well as playing my old sparring partners, Alex and Sam - thanks, guys!

- Drax

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

680 - 'Mortal Gods' - Inaugural Game.

Well - inevitably - I've played my first game of Mortal Gods. Hosted by Guy, I played my unpainted Thebans against Rossco and his son.

Having not played 'Test of Honour', on which it's loosely based, I didn't really know what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being well and truly beaten. 

The 'pebbles' system of activation is really interesting, and a cool change from the Bolt Action/Cruel Seas dice mechanic. I also loved the 'omens', as I'm a big fan of random stuff happening mid-flow!

A couple of things didn't quite sit well with me: most notable was that when my light javelin troops (peltasts) were charged, they couldn't choose to run away; also, for a game wherein facings of phalanxes are important, the triangular bases seem slightly unhelpful...
(I lost, despite the cooler pose.)

...but then, I haven't yet got to read the rules, yet, so these things may well be fully addressed!

If nothing else, it was great to be reminded that UNPAINTED MODELS CANNOT WIN! 

- Drax.