Thursday, 14 June 2018

Battle of Bergen 1759 15mm SYW Set Up

My Seven Years War 15mm figures have been a labour of love for a long old time, it's one of those groups of figures that I have gathered together over the years (20 plus) but never really gamed with. I have enjoyed the process of building and painting the units as I build towards completing both sides for the Battle of Minden.

No one else in our little gaming group have figures in this period / scale so there is no rush to complete stuff to compete against the forces of other people, just a steady ongoing plod of 5 to 10 units every couple of years.

I've tried a few times over the years to get things moving on the SYW front but never seem to get it right, that and having so many projects on the go means that most collections only see the table once a year, the gaps between attempts just get wider and with the new Crusade and Italian Wars armies hustling for game time it's not going to get any better !

Our chosen rule set is Die Kriegskunst, the SYW version of General de Brigade. As we already use GdB and British Grenadier (from the same stable) they are the obvious choice. Sadly DK hasn't recieved the Deluxe edition and upgrade that the other two have.

Historical Background.

I was looking for a straight forward job to get the SYW games moving and Bergen fits that in that it's a fairly stand up fight, no real finesse just two Armies crashing into each other.

I can wholly recommend the Kronoskaf website for all things SYW and below is a link to that sites page on the battle and an excellent job it does of describing the background of the build up to the Battle and give a good account of the action as well.

In summary Ferdinand of Brunswick in command of the Allied forces comprising units from Hanover, Hesse, Prussia, Britain was aware of the French capture of Frankfurt, was moving to counter the French.

De Brogile concentrated his forces near Bergen to counter that move, Brunswick attempted to break through.

Set Up

I did a video run through of the set up for the game showing the layout of the table.

The Kronoskaf website gives excellent orders of battle, below is our OOB which reflects the figures I have available (so British Infantry being subbed in for Brunswickers), but actually it is not that far off. All bar the Hanoverian Infantry are 16 figures, the latter 20. The Cavalry is usually 12 figures representing a 2 Sqn unit whilst larger Cavalry regiments are represented by 18 figures.

Our morale grades are rolled up at the start of the game. Seasoned is as a Line unit but with +1 On morale, no other benefits. Average Commander unless stated.

French Forces

Right Wing (in Bergen)

1st Brigade 4 x French Line - 1 x Seasoned, 2 x Line, 1 x Militia
2nd Brigade 4 x French Line - 1 x Line, 2 x Garrison, 1 x Militia

In Reserve behind Bergen

3rd Brigade 4 x French Line - 2 x Line, 1 x Garrison, 1 Milita
4th Brigade (ex com) 4 French Line - 1 x Line 2 x Garrison 1 x Militia
5th Brigade (poor com) 5 French Foreign Line - 2 x Line 3 x Garrison

Artillery (to the left of Bergen)
4 Artillery Bases 1 Veteran 1 Seasoned 2 Line

French Centre (Excellent Com)

4 Artillery Bases 1 Veteran 1 Seasoned 2 Line
1st Cavalry Brigade 3 Guard Regt - 2 Elite 1 Seasoned
2nd Cavalry Brigade (poor) 3 Line Regts - 1 Vet 1 Seasoned 1 Line
3rd Cavalry Brigade (poor) 3 Line Regts - 2 x Veteran 1 x Line
4th Cavalry Brigade 3 Line Regts - 2 x Veteran 1 x Garrison
6th Infantry Brigade 5 French Grenadier Regts - 2 x Veteran 2 x Seasoned 1 x Line
7th Infantry Brigade 4 French Line - 1 Seasoned 1 Line 2 Garrison

French Left

3 x Artillery Bases (on warte) 2 Seasoned 1 Line
8th Infantry Brigade (poor) 4 x Swiss Infantry - 2 x Seasoned 2 x Line
5th Cavalry Brigade 4 Line Regts - 2 x Veteran 1 x Line and 1 x Garrison plus 1 Hussar - Garrison and 12 x Line Skirmishers
9th Infantry Brigade 6 x Saxon Infantry - 2 x Line, 4 x Garrison
10th Infantry Brigade (Excellent) 6 x Saxon Infantry - 5 x Line, 1 Garrison

Allied Forces

Allied Left opposite Bergen

1st Cavalry Brigade (Ex) 1 x Han Line and 1 x Han Dragoon both Seasoned
1st Infantry Brigade 5 x Han Line - 2 x Seasoned 2 Line 1 x Garrison
2nd Infantry Brigade 1 x Han Grenadier - Vet & 4 x Hesse Infantry - 3 Seasoned 1 Line
2nd Cavalry Brigade 4 x Hesse Cav - 1 Guard, 2 Veteran 1 Line
3 Artillery Bases all Seasoned

Allied Centre

3rd Infantry Brigade 3 x Han Line - 1 Guard, 1 Veteran 1 Garrison
4th Infantry Brigade 2 x Han Line 1 British Line - 1 Vet, 1 Seasoned 1 Line
5th Infantry Brigade 3 x British Line - 1 Vet, 2 Seasoned
3rd Cavalry Brigade 3 x British Regts - 1 Elite, 2 Veteran
1 Artillery Base

1 x Artillery Base Line

Allied Right

Vanguard 3 x Veteran Skirmishers (Rifle 3 x 8 figs) 1 x British Cavalry - Veteran, 1 x British Grenadier and 1 x Han Grenadier both Elite
6th Infantry Brigade 3 x Hesse Infantry - 2 x Elite and 1 x Veteran
7th Infantry Brigade 3 x Hesse Infantry  - 2 Veteran and 1 Line
4th Cavalry Brigade 1 x Hesse Cav  - Line and 2 x Prussian Cavalry - 1 x Veteran and 1 x Line
2 Artillery Bases Seasoned

So there you have it with the set up, the game is currently ongoing, it's been great to get tons of units on the table all lined up old school style. Fully AAR after we finish !

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

2018 Naval Campaign - Game 3 - Denmark Forever !

It's Game 3 of this years Naval Campaign and by now both sides know the score, at the end of the last match up the two German ships were finally identified as the Battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. It's early 1941 and we are following the sortie of those two ships into the Atlantic or Operation Berlin as it became know.

Our first Game was a confused night action as the Germans broke out into the North Atlantic.

The second game saw the two German ships causing chaos amongst a Convoy with some U Boat support.

Convoy HX115
Game 3 is something a bit different and based on an actual event during the course of Op Berlin, as before I have put the historical background and Umpire Notes at the end of the post if you are playing along.

German Briefing

After a couple of encounters with British Forces things have been going well with this litte cruise in the Atlantic. A number of Allied ships have been sunk and although there is a couple of dents in the belt armour to date you haven't taken any real damage.

Another Convoy has been sighted on the Horizon and as you move to engage the Merchant ships your lookout makes you aware of a small boat steaming towards you on an intercept course.

German Ships - Scharnhorst and Gneisenau carrying forward any damage from Games 1 and 2.

"Hans, waz ist daz"
British Briefing 

Warnings have flashed across all the Allied ships in the Atlantic, the Germans have two big cats out hunting. You are commanding a small convoy designated HX114 however your prayers are not answered when two ships are spotted on the Horizon and they don't look very friendly.

One ship has left your convoy and is making smoke, doing full speed towards the Germans, you always thought the Danish Captain of the vessel, the Chilean Reefer was a couple of vouchers short of a toaster, your fears have been confirmed.

On your last contact with Fleet you were promised big gun support, lets hope they are close by.

British Ships - Convoy, although a different one from Game 2 we used the surviving ships from Game 2.

HMS Rodney and 2 escorting Destroyers off table.

Chilean Reefer  - Armed Merchant see Umpire Notes

Historical Background

Sometimes, in a battle, there is an odd man out, a hero who makes a last stand, someone whose deeds are written down in History. In the mass of merchant ships of HX114 there was a Danish firebrand commanding the Chilean Reefer, ship registered at just 1,831 gross tons.

The moment the German ships were sighted the Reefer sent off a message reporting the vessels and an accurate position. He made smoke and steered towards the Battlecruisers and to the disbelief of the crew of Gneisenau, opened fire on the mighty ships with his tiny deck gun.

Captain Fein of the Gneisenau and his crew were perplexed by the actions of this tiny ship and rightly so, they had never seen anything like it. Was this some carefully disguised armed cruiser, was it a decoy for some, as yet unseen threat. Might the Reefer be armed with torpedoes or even rigged to explode ?

Fein showed up most respect and moved his Battlecruiser to a safer distance and opened up with main 11 inch guns. However the Chilean Reefer proved to be a hard nut to crack, a tiny target in a rolling sea. It took 73 rounds to sink the Danish ship, the most fired at any single target during Operation Berlin and no doubt would make her one of the most expensive, per ton, ships to sink of the war.

The German Captains were however right to be concerned, while they were seeing off the threat from the Reefer a blip appeared on the radar screen, an approaching group of ships. A short while later the imposing shape of HMS Rodney appeared on the skyline.

HMS Dave to the rescue (cue puzzled looks from none UK residents)
Rodders flashed a challenge and the Gneisenau replied with the call sign of HMS Emerald, a three stack light cruiser. Even if the crew of Rodney had been knocking back the Sherry all day they would have noticed something was amiss.

"What Ship ?" asked the British, however the Germans weren't hanging about for a chat, turning tail and working up to top speed. The last view the Germans had was of the dying flames of the Chilean Reefer and the searchlights of the British ships as they scoured the sea for survivors.

Not often you see two Battlecruisers being chased by a Freighter !
Set Up

I forgot to take a photo of the table before the start of the game so here is my best description.

12 ft x 6 ft table, sea surface with no other terrain. Take North as one short side of the table.

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sailing East, line astern, 20 kts, 2ft in from the Northern table edge with the rear of Gneisenau on the western table edge.

The Convoy should be set up steaming North on the outer edge of the maximum range for the Germans.

HMS Rodney will arrive on the Eastern side of the table steaming towards the Germans at maximum speed at maximum gun range.

The Chilean Reefer should be set up half way between the Convoy and the Germans on the Eastern side of the table steaming towards the Germans, making smoke.

This is designed to be a short fun game for no more than a club evening.

Umpire Notes.

This game is all about the Chilean Reefer (CR), having had some fun messing with the British players mind with the identification of the Germans in Games 1 and 2, it was time to play around with the Germans heads.

Like hero figures in fantasy games sometimes you need to bend the rules a bit to make something work, so here is how I got the Reefer to work.

The German ships should not be allowed to simply open up on the CR and it's the job of the Umpire to make the scenario work. The Battlecruisers need to identify the ship and to start with seeds of doubt need to be sewn, it could be a German refuelling ship trying to escape the British for example.

The following is a suggestion of lines to feed the Germans, all designed to represent the confusion caused by the merchant on the day,

"It's difficult at this range to identify the ship through the smoke"
"Through the mist you can see crew working on the deck of the ship and a Captain with a ginger beard looking at you"
"The man in the Ginger Beard is waving his fist at you"
"The ginger bearded one is moving some boxes on the deck"
"Was that a puff of smoke from behind those boxes"
"That was a gun ! Are those torpedoes ?"

I armed the CR with a 4" gun and no torpedoes (but the Germans didn't know that) and made it very difficult to hit. The first 8 salvos fired at the CR will automatically miss (to represent the high volume of shots fired without a hit".

Once that has passed the CR should be very hard to hit, now this very much depends on your rules but at just under 2000 tons it won't last long when hit. As it's making smoke that halves any hits in my rules, added to that factor in its small size.

We use a ship card to represent the deck of a ship to allocate hits and smaller ships use an 8 x 4 grid which normally has a near miss location in the corners (see below) for the CR I increased the number of near miss boxes so that only boxes 2,3 to 2,6 and 3,3 to 3,6 counted as a hit. I dropped any critical hits as the small size of the CR meant it wouldn't last long enough once hit to worry about them.

I allowed the Reefer to move after all the other ships without written orders and gave it (an unrealistic) top speed of 24 knots.

Although present the Convoy is a bit of a side show. From the end of turn 1 the British player rolls 2d6 representing the distress call from the CR and on reaching a cumulative score of 24 the Rodney appears next turn.

A ship card example
How did we get on

An enjoyable experience for the British seeing the bemused looks of the German player as they tried to work out what the hell was going on !

The Chilean Reefer managed to get fairly close before opening up on the Gneisenau, a hit on the 11in gun turret hardly scratched the paint, it raised a smile and a return salvo of secondary guns.

The mention of the possibiity of torpedoes on the CR focused the mind of the German player and the Convoy was quickly forgotten as they started to manoeuvre to avoid the Danish ship.

"That man with the Ginger Beard, he crazy"
Added to that Rodney had arrived and was starting to close the range, this lead to the rarely seen sight of two Battlecruisers being chased by a small Armed Merchant, a moment well worth a photo !

As the Germans made for the safety of the table edge the luck of the Reefer finally gave out as a 11" shell tore her in two. A sad end for a brave ship and crew. The Battlecruisers escaped to fight another day.

End Ex
Game 4 coming up soon when the Germans stumble across another Convoy but this time they aren't as lucky, this time the British are in the middle of a escort hand over and the Germans will need to fight their way out.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Op Compass - Game 3 T'Egypt Bound

"Perkins ! You drove it in here, you get it out"
Our early WW2 North Africa Campaign continued again recently with the 3rd game in our series of linked scenarios covering that interesting time when tanks aren't quite tanks.

If you want more information on the Campaign I have set up a seperate page which is updated regularly with updates on rules along with links to all the previous games,

The games are based on an excellent book by Robert Avery which is avaliable from The Toofatlardies, there is a direct link to purchase the book on the Resource Page.

We use 28mm figures on a 12 x 6 table using a home brew set of rules.

Italian HQ and MG take cover in a rocky outcrop
Historical Background

It's the 14th September 1940 and after a few months of active patrolling on the Egypt border the Italian Forces, under direct orders from Mussolini were preparing to invade the country, the Commander in the area wasn't convinced his troops were ready, short on transport the speed of advance was often dictated by the speed of the slowest Infantryman.

The British on the other hand were preparing for a series of hit and run attacks on the advancing Italians, causing maximum damage before the enemy Artillery came into action, then withdrawing to the next position and starting over again.

Our game covers one of these actions.

Set Up and Terrain

The game is played on our standard 12 x 6 table fighting length ways down the table, a very simple set up, a single road runs down the middle of the table, which is covered with low hills and scrub ground.

The Difficult Going Rule is in force for any vehicle which moves off road, see the Resource Page for full details.

The Dry and Dusty Rule is in force, any unit moving is easier to spot, again full details on the Resource Page.

Table Set Up, Italian entry at bottom of the photo
British Briefing

You have been giving the Italian Forces a bloody nose as they advance into Egypt, once again the ground is suitable for defence and you have set up your forces to blunt the attack once more.

Set up your units in the 2/3rds of the table away from the Italian entry point, all units are hidden, if you have an Umpire give them a rough sketch of your dispositions. Normal spotting rules are in force, any unit firing is placed on table. Any hidden unit which moves needs to be declared and a general area given, with Dry and Dusty in force there is a big chance that moving units will be seen.

Your objective is simple destroy as many Italian Units as you can whilst minimising your own losses.

British Support weapons lie in wait
You have the following troops,

2 x Companies of Infantry EACH with,

HQ - 3 Figs plus 1 Lt Mortar with 2 crew and 1 Boyes Anti Tank Rifle with 2 crew
3 x 10 Fig units of 1 Sgt with SMG, 2 man LMG team and 7 Rifles.
1 attached MMG and 3 crew.

The Infantry is Coldstream Guards so Morale is Basic 6, Corp 8, Sgt 9, Officer 11.

1 Troop of 2 x A9 Cruiser Tanks, Morale 7

1 x 25pdr gun and crew. Morale 7

2 Ground Attack flights (max)

A Desert Game isn't a Desert Game without a palm tree !
Italian Briefing 

Despite your reservations, Il Duce has ordered the Invasion of Egypt. You command a taskforce from one of the Blackshirt Divisions, all available transports have been centralised so that no one has to walk (unless they want to !).

Your orders are straight forward, break through the British lines and get as many troops as you can off the far side of the table.

Italian Forces are as follows,

HQ - 2 Figs in Staff Car with 2 men attached Recon units each with 10 men (1 Sgt with SMG, 2 man LMG team and 7 Rifles).

3 Blackshirt Companies each with

HQ - 2 Figs with either a 2 man Lt Mortar or a 2 man Anti Tank Rifle team
3 x 10 Fig units as above.

Morale is Basic 5, Corp 6, Sgt 8, Officer 9.

1 unit of 3 x 47mm AT guns with crew.

1 unit of 3 x MMG and crew.

1 unit of 4 L3 Tankettes (can split 2 and 2)

1 unit of 2 x 75/27 Artillery and crew.

All support units are morale grade 6, the Artillery is grade 8, all units have access to transport when they need it.

Italian Units may enter the table at any point on their edge of the table on the first draw of their activation card.

Italian Artillery busy doing nothing.
Umpire Notes

You will need to keep a running tally of points scored in the game,

British score points for the following,

Each Italian soldier or crewmember killed: +1 points
Each Italian lorry, truck or gun destroyed:  +3 points
Each Italian tank destroyed:  +6 points
Each British soldier or crewmember killed: -2 point
Each British lorry, truck or gun destroyed:  -3 points
Each British tank destroyed:  -10 points

The Italian objective is to exit as many of their men off the table to the east as possible.

Each Italian soldier or crewmember successfully exited: +1 point
Each Italian lorry, truck or gun successfully exited:  +3 points
Each Italian tank successfully exited:  +6 points

The game is designed to last for one full days gaming (10.30 to 16.00 with an obligatory break for Fish and chips!) or 15 turns. Add up the totals at the end of the day to determine a winner.

A draw if the points total are within 5 points of each other.
Winning Draw if points total is 6 to 25 points higher.
Major Victory if points total is 26 pointsor more higher.

How did we get on.

There is an old blues song which has the words "If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all" and for the Italian Forces in this game that was the tag line for the day, things started badly and then got worse !

Not what you want at the start of a turn !
The biggest problem for the Italians was the lack of support from their "support" units. The initial units on the table dashed forward to be shot up, as expected by the hidden British troops, however once sighted it was the job of the Heavy Weapons to soften up the defenders.

Advance ! Or not, as the case may be
But nothing went right, the Italian Artillery effectively went on strike, taking ages to get on table and set up, when it did it spent ages mucking about in between barrages. The MMG teams had clearly been training with Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars as, try as they might, they hit bugger all, all day. It was if the area where the Italian dice were being thrown had shifted into another dimension where the laws of statistics did not apply !

And to make things worse one if the Italian tankettes insisted on breaking down at every opportunity before it got on the table.

A very frustrating day for the Italians, but that's the joy (or not) of Scenario play, it would have been interesting to see how the Italians would do with a more co ordinated attack and a bit of luck !

The attackers didn't even dent the front line of the British and in the end it was an easy Victory for the Brits, who only lost 2 figures all day.

Losses, Italian at the bottom.
Italian losses, 1 tank, 3 trucks and 56 men = 71 points
British losses, 2 men = 4 points

A 67 point win.

Air Attack
Campaign Progress

A convincing win for the British who grab the full 4 points for this game. So that's a 9 to 3 lead after 3 games.

We are on with our Naval Campaign at the moment as well as a big SYW game before we return to the Desert for game 4 when the roles will be reversed and the British will be attacking an Italian Fort.

Monday, 7 May 2018

2018 WW2 Naval Campaign Game 2 - HX106

Welcome back to part 2 of the 2018 Naval Campaign. It's all been a bit hush hush as both players sift through maps and Intel to try and work out what the bleeding hell is going on.

Game 1 saw a confused night action in which the British lost a light cruiser and the Germans a Destroyer. Two large German ships have been sighted but there true identity has not been confirmed. The Germans disengaged after a couple of salvos from the a Battlecruiser, but now they are loose in the Atlantic.

German Ships based on the sightings of Game 1, but are they right ?
The first game write up can be found on the link below.

As with the first game an Umpire is pretty essential for the action as unknown German ships are involved. Umpire Notes and Historical Background are after the player briefings, don't read them if you are taking part.

"Breaker Breaker Rubber Duck"
British Briefing

After your first encounter with the German Raiders, Convoys in the Atlantic are on full alert. Things are bad enough with packs of U boats around now there are surface forces too.

You may not have a positive identification on the ships involved yet, but whatever they are they are going to be dangerous.

You are in command of a large convoy consisting 20 Merchant ships with escorts. Due to the threat you have a Battleship in support. There are two dark shapes on the Horizon, hopefully you will see the sunset.

British Destroyer Escort
Convoy Escort

HMS Burham - Clemson Class Destroyer,  HMS Malcolm (Destroyer Leader)
HMS Saladin & HMS Sardonyx (Admiralty S Class Destroyers)
HMS Skate (Admiralty R Class), 2 Corvettes and 2 ASW trawlers.
HMS Ramillies Revenge Class Battleship with escort HMS Hero and HMS Hasty

The eagle eyed amongst you will notice I have used different ships from my collection for the game (even I don't own every British Destroyer of WW2).

Convoy under fire

HX 106 had over 40 Merchant ships attached, I randomly selected 20, named below. I have given their tonnage for reference. The convoy speed was set at a generic 20 knots which is high for the merchants but works well for us.

Arthur F Corwin 10516          Botavon 5848          Capsa 8229             Chana 8077
Edward F Johnson 10452       Contractor 6004      Clea 8028                Evanger 3869
Garonne 7113                           Harpagus 5773       Horda 4301             Laguna 6486
Lodestone 4877                        Malmanger 7078    Mirza 7991             Oilfield 8576
R J Cullen 6993                         San Fabian 13031   Temple Arch 5138 Torburg 6092

Nearly there with ID !
German Briefing

You have broken out into the North Atlantic and cause as much havoc in the shipping lanes as possible. Your escorts have gone home you are on your own.

Now is the chance to cause a bit of havoc as you have seen a Convoy on the Horizon.
U boat wolf packs are operating in the area and you may receive some support from them during your Mission.

Remember the Furhers orders, do not get heavily engaged with any Capital Ships.

At last! 
Table Set Up 

This action takes place in daylight. Set up the convoy as shown with the Corvettes and 2 Destroyers flanking it, the two ASW trawlers and remaining Destroyers in front. The British Battleship is set up as a counter with its two escorting destroyers on the far side of the convoy.

The German ships (remember that they may not yet be positively identified) are placed just inside their maximum range so they can open fire on the convoy on turn 1. The ships placed on table will be the last "identification" in game 1.

Table Set Up
Umpire Notes and Historical Background

It is highly likely that the 2 German ships will not be positively identified at the start of Game 2. Refer back to Game 1 (link above) for the rules regarding identification. It's now daylight so the British will receive 1 id roll per ship per turn until they get it right.

For this game the Germans will roll 1d10 each turn that they can see the British marker, adding the scores up until they reach a cumulative score of 25 at which point the British ship is revealed.

In addition the Germans are supported by 3 U boats. Rather than any tedious plotting methods the submarines remain hidden at an unknown location until a time which either a ship from the convoy or Ramillies is unescorted. For the purpose of our rules this means that there are no escorting vessels within 20cms of the ship.

Once unescorted the ship is open to attack from 1 of the U Boats and so on until all 3 U Boats have attacked.

During Operation Berlin the two German Battlecruisers evaded the British screen (Game 1) and sailed into the Atlantic on the 4th Feb 1941. The Germans chose to attack the northern convoy route from Canada to the UK (HX and SC convoys), they were aware that convoy HX106 was at sea.

The Convoy was sighted on the morning of the 9th of February however after just 11 minutes the Germans positively identified HMS Ramillies and Admiral Lütjens called off the action and withdrew. He was annoyed as he believed the game was up and the British now knew the identity of his small but powerful force.

HMS Ramillies frantically signalling her escorts to return to station.
Little did they know that even at this late stage the ships were still unidentified, look outs from the convoy believed that they were looking at Admiral Hipper, they still thought that Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were in port.

The game should easily be completed in a club night, once the Germans become engaged by the British they should withdraw.

HMS Grenade "goes off"
How did we get on 

A short but interesting little action, the British took a while to identify the Germans, but before they had done even that they had sent three of the covering Destroyers off at full speed to have a go at the Battlecruisers.

As this was happening the British player started to roll out the Battleship from the rear of the convoy to get it in a shooting position.

The Convoy was starting to take large calibre hits and ships were sinking, the Destroyers however were getting closer in a tense match up. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were firing their secondary armaments as fast as possible at the approaching foe.

Charge !
Scorpion lost all her turrets in one go as the destruction of one led to the failure of the others. Acasta was unlucky, suffering the same fate as a Destroyer in the previous game, a bridge hit forcing her to disengage.

Back at the Convoy the British player was getting a bit giddy, the remaining Destroyers in the escort had started to accelerate leaving the back of the convoy uncovered. The U Boats weren't shy and although both were observed prior to firing their torpedoes they sunk two of the convoy ships.

HMS Hero and HMS Hasty sped towards the U Boats last known location, that is until the Captain of the Ramillies reminded them they should be escorting the Battleship and they returned to their station leaving the Corvettes to go sub hunting.

Guess who needed 3s to hit !
Back at the other end of the table the remaining 2 Destroyers pressed home their attack, the turretless Scorpion being sunk on the final approach, Grenade had the chance to launch torpedoes but decided to give it one more turn to get closer to increase the chance of a hit. She never got chance to launch, the explosion from a fuel fire taking her to the bottom.

As the Ramillies came into range the Germans turned away. The British had lost 2 Destroyers as well as the merchants Arthur F Corwin, Botavon, Capsa, Contractor, Edward F Johnson and Torburg or 47141 tonnes, the latter 2 to U Boats.

The two German Battlecruisers are loose in the Atlantic, will they meet their match in Game 3.  

Monday, 30 April 2018

2018 WW2 Naval Campaign - Game 1 - Breakout

It's that time of year again when we go all Nautical on you here at YG. A little bit of Naval Wargaming goes a long way and with periods a many and time short it's always been a tradition here to get at least one decent crack at some seaborne action around Easter time.

It's a secret, shhh
I had decided on a theme for this set of games a while back but with the games being based on a historical action I didn't want to give the game away too soon. So before we began neither team knew what war they were in never mind what ships they had. So you know more than the players from the post title !

So if you fancy playing along don't read on ! You definitely need an Umpire for these games to keep the facts from the players. With that in mind I have put the historical background at the end of the post with the Umpires notes.

Starshells light the way
We use a set of rules I wrote going on 30 years ago and all the scenarios are played on a 12 x 6 table. However with the additional information in the Umpires notes the Campaign should work with any rule set.

The game takes place at night so you will need to use suitable mechanisms from your rules to simulate that.

And the prize for the first ship spotted is.... A salvo of 5.9" shells
2018 Naval Campaign Game 1 British Briefing

It’s early 1941 and the war in the North Atlantic is in full swing. Operatives in Europe have reported a number of “large” German ships leaving port and heading for the open sea.

Intel is vague but the source is credible, the Admiralty are convinced that the Germans are up to something and have sent forces to sea across a wide area in an attempt to locate these ships.

You are in command of a small squadron consisting of the Light Cruiser Phoebe and two Tribal Class destroyers. Nearby you have the Battlecruiser Repulse and 2 further Tribal Destroyers in support.

Your Mission is to locate and identify the ships not to become heavily engaged.
It’s dark and damp when at 01.00 hours you become aware of a contact on your starboard bow.

2018 Naval Campaign Game 1 German Briefing

The Furher has given you his personal blessing in this most important mission, you are to take the Battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau into the North Atlantic and cause as much havoc in the shipping lanes as possible.

Once you pass Iceland you are on your own, reliant on oilers to keep you moving you must avoid heavy action with other Capital Ships as repairs at sea are your only option.

U boat wolf packs are operating in the area and you may receive some support from them during your Missions.

As far as you are aware the British don’t know you are at sea. It is essential that you do not reveal which ships you are commanding to the British, the umpire may place other ships on the table, go with it.

It’s 01.00 cold, dark, damp. You are to the east of Iceland with two Narvik Destroyers in escort and these are due to turn for home soon, you have a contact bearing North to your front.

See the British off before proceeding into the open ocean.

Searchlights On
Set Up

The German ships should set up in the corner of the table, the two main ships in line astern with the two destroyers screening in front. As it's dark ships should be represented by numbered counters, the Germans have two extra false counters to place in the screen.

The British Light Cruiser force set up at maximum gun range for the Light Cruiser away from the German destroyer screen. The British Battlecruiser is as far away as it can be from the Germans patrolling the far table edge. Again all ships are represented by numbered counters. These remain inactive until a German ship is spotted.

Bad luck for the British as HMS Nubian disengages with a bridge hit.

German Ship Recognition

One of the keys to the start of Campaign is the British uncertainty over the identity of the German ships, there has been no positive identification at this point and the available Intel is vague. So the following rules are in place,

Each time one of the German "big ships" are illuminated roll 1 dice per ship per turn, to begin with 1 d8.

1 or 2 Ship "identified"  as a Hipper Class Heavy Cruiser
3 or 4 Ship "identified" as a "Pocket" Battleship
5 or 6 Ship "identified" as a Scharnhorst Class Battlecruiser
7 or 8 Ship "identified" as a Bismark Class Battleship

When the ship is "identified" place a relevant ship model on the table..

Is it Tirpitz ?
Roll again the next turn and use that roll as the "identification" for that turn. So for example, in turn 1 a star shell illuminates a German counter, the British player rolls a 7 for id and believes they have seen Tirpitz, the following turn the ship remains illuminated and the British player rolls again, this time it's a 3, the observer checks his Janes Fighting Ships and believes he has seen Admiral Scheer.

Once a counter has been identified as one of the choices twice then that choice is either ruled out or in the case of 5/6 it correctly identifies the ship. So in our example above if the ship was illuminated for a third turn and the British player rolls a 7 again it would be identified as Tirpitz again which would rule out that for the next turn so that the next roll would be on a d6 (three valid selections left). Two successful rolls against Scharnhorst would positively identify the ships correctly.

As an Umpire it's a joy to watch the British scratch their heads when the first ship change happens.

Or is it Prinz Eugen ?
The German Destroyers are identified on their first illumination, the blank counters are removed.

Historical Background and Umpire Notes

The Campaign is based on Operation Berlin the raid by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, after a failed attempt to sail in December 1940 (due to a storm) both ships sailed from Kiel on the 22nd January 1941, they were spotted by an agent in Denmark and the Admiralty warned. Ships were despatched but the main fleet were stationed in the Iceland Faroe gap, the Germans spotted a couple of cruisers in that area and headed for the Denmark Straight instead.

Our first scenario is loosely based on this first contact, the ship involved was HMS Naiad, the captain concluded his sighting was merely an illusion and decined to shadow the ships. I changed the ship to HMS Phoebe (same class) to avoid the players guessing the real events portrayed in the game. The Germans also didn't have a Destroyer escort but I added one to make it harder to id the main German Ships.

If Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are engaged in main gun combat it's up to the Umpire to monitor any damage / hits to prevent identification by shell weight etc.

The game should easily completed in a club night. The Germans will disengage if they are threatened a Torpedo attack or  come under accurate fire from the British Battlecruiser.

Or is it Admiral Scheer ?
How did we get on.

A good little introductory scrap for our first game. The British set off quite boldly towards the unidentified markers and it wasn't long before starshells were in the air and the Destroyers had identified each other and had engaged in combat. Narvik vs Tribal is a decent match up but luck was not on the side of the British, early on HMS Nubian disengages with a bridge hit leaving the British outnumbered.

The German Destroyers weren't being shrinking violet either, they had got close enough to illuminate HMS Phoebe with search lights giving the big German ships a target. No luck here either, the first shot effected it's Magazine, no explosion thankfully but it left the Light Cruiser down to 3 rounds of Ammo.

Z23 sinks.
The advantage of using your searchlights is seeing other ships, however it also means everyone can see you ! HMS Phoebe and Z23 sank in a short space of time but for the German player a LC for a DD is a decent trade.

The End of HMS Phoebe
Just as those ships sank the British Battlecruiser Sqn came into range and things got a bit more exciting for the Germans, a late attempt at a Torpedo attack by the last remaining Tribal Class destroyer was scuppered when it suffered a rudder hit.

No rudder, No turny
So at the end of the first game both sides had taken casualties. The British had not yet positively identified the German Raiders, the Germans were out into the Atlantic and the chase was on.