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.

Saturday 21 April 2018

28mm WW2 "Blackshirts" for North Africa

With the Op Compass games coming thick and fast I am finding myself painting to keep up, even with big old collections there are still some gaps in the ranks.

Our next game features some of Mussolinis' infamous "Blackshirts" and I had just the thing lying around in the to do box.

I call these a "Wargames Conversion" or if you are particularly fussy / rivet counter a "botch" job. Nobody makes (to my knowledge) specific figures so I improvised !

I painted a unit of these about 4 years ago and decided to repeat the feat again. I have simply used the stocking cap heads from the American Civil War Zouave box the Perrys do, chopped off the heads of the Afrika Korp box figures and joined the two together. There is the odd spare arm from the Desert Rat set as well (as the British SMG looks closer to the Italian one than the German does).

To fit in with our rules I have made up 3 x 10 man Squads, each with a SMG armed Sgt, a LMG gunner and No2 and 7 Rifles. To this I have added a 2 man HQ section and used the prone figures to make some support weapons, a Anti Tank Rifle and 2 baby Mortars.

The unit is actually based on the "Giovani Fascisti" who fought with such bravery at Bir el Gobi and I think they are a really nice, different addition to my collection.

So the belts might not be quite right, the LMGs look a bit dodgy and the old rifle looks suspiciously like a Lee Enfield but just like Bagpuss, they may be frayed round the edges but I love them.

Above is a detail shot of the front and back of one of the figures, the marking on the base is for on table identification, colour for company, number for Section.

Next up on the paint table are some Desert Rats for one of the YG regulars before I try and get back on the Crusades Project, although someone has just bought a box of figures to try out 28mm Italian Wars. Sidetracked, me, never.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Op Compass - Game 2 Turkey Shoot

"I can see my house from here"
Welcome all to Part 2 of our hopefully 20 plus game run through the early WW2 Desert Campaign between forces of Britain and her Empire and the troops of Mussolinis Italy.

I have set up a separate Op Compass Campaign Resource Page containing links to previous games in the Campaign and any additional rules we are using on a regular basis so you can fit them in with your rule set whatever that may be.

Team GB for Game 2
We use 28mm figures on a 12 x 6 table using a home brew set of rules based loosely on Iron Ivans Disposable Hero's but these games should work with any 28mm set of rules. We use card a activation system with Event Cards to add a bit of "fun".

Historical Background

It's the 16th June 1940, a mere 2 days after our first game. Units from the 11th Hussars are patrolling the Italian side of the Border when they discover a column of motorised Italian Infantry "supported" by some Tankettes. An initial attack by the Armoured Cars of the patrol had caused damage to a number of vehicles in the convoy before they were forced to withdraw by Italian Artillery.

Team Italy, yes I know they aren't all Italian trucks, I don't have 14 ! 
Our game begins with the Armoured Cars returning to the scene with some support to find the Italians stopped, the whole column making repairs whilst the Tankettes circle the edge of the column to provide protection.

The British are ready for a Turkey Shoot but this old Italian Bird ain't dead yet !

Table for Game 2
Set Up and Terrain 

Above is a picture of our 12 x 8 table ready to go. There is a track running down the right hand side of the table (as viewed) with a couple of low hills at either end of the table. Other than that the table is completely flat and open apart from some random areas of scrub which should offer the minimum level of cover your rules give.

"10 - 4 Rubber Duck we got us a mighty Convoy"
The Italian Convoy sets up as shown above (in the Table photo) in the top right hand corner of the table, the British enter from the left side of the table (roll a d12 to determine how many feet from one corner) each troop rolls separately.

The Difficult Going Rule is in play. Every time a vehicle moves it must roll 2d6 see the Resource Page for rule details. Vehicles travelling on the track are not subject to the Difficult Going Rule and don't need to roll.

Truck movement is limited to 10", all other vehicle move as per their move charts.

I gave both sides one full days gaming to complete their objectives.

Arnold and Arry having a day out in the Sun
Italian Briefing

Quite simply you need to get as much kit and men off the opposite end of the table.

At the start of the game you need to roll 1d6 for each of your trucks on, the Breakdown table (see Resource Page) to see how badly damaged (if at all) that vehicle is from the initial Armoured Car attack.

Any truck classed as "buggered" will have to debus their troops at the first opportunity and those lads are on Shank's Pony (Foot).

The Italian Brittle Morale Rule is in force, see Resource Page.

Turn 1 chaos !
The following troops are available,

6 x L3 Tankettes in 2 troops of 3, morale 6

2 trucks each with 1 x 75mm Field Gun and crew. Morale 8

3 x Coys of Italian Infantry each company has,

4 trucks, 1 truck has 1 x 2 Fig HQ and 1 Support Weapon (roll 1d6, 1-4 it's a Lt Mortar, 5-6 a Anti Tank Rifle). The other 3 trucks have 8 Rifle armed Infantry, including 1 Sgt and 1 Corporal, morale 7 Sgt, 6 Corp, 4 Soldier.

1 Staff Car containing the Convoy Commander, morale 8.

The Italian Artillery played an important role

There is a single M11/39 Tank available as reinforcements, it's arrival, or lack of is solely down to the actions of the British player.

If the British Support force 1 is requested role 1 d10 and the 11/39 arrives after that number of turns. If British Support force 2 arrives the tank appears next turn.

British Briefing 

The lead troop of Armoured Cars in your unit has just reported an Italian Convoy moving through the Desert nearby, after an initial attack, having damaged a number of vehicles the troop has come back to you to raise some support to drive home the attack.

As your forces enter the table they spot the whole column stationary in the open, repairing damaged vehicles.

Your Mission is to destroy or prevent all the Italian Forces from leaving the table via the short edge of the board furthest from their set up point.

"What shall I fire at Sir ?" "Stop mucking about Perkins and open up"

Your initial force is, all Morale 8

1 troop of 2 Rolls Royce Armoured Cars

1 troop of 2 Mk VI Light Tanks

1 troop of 2 x A9 Cruiser Tanks

These enter the table on the first turn of their activation card in the random location described in the Set Up phase.

Early in the game the Italian Staff Car nobly abandons his troops and unceremoniously legs it
The following reinforcements are available,

Support force 1 - 1 troop of 4 Armoured Cars or Light Tanks (we had 1 MkVI and 3 CS9 available)

Support force 2 - 1 troop of 3 Armoured Cars (we had Marmon Herringtons) with 2 x 2pdr Anti Tank guns (towed)

All morale is 8, once requested roll 1d4 and that is the number of turns before arrival, they enter the table in a random location as before. However calling for reinforcements reduces the chances of winning the game (see below).

Tankettes push forward behind a Sandstorm
Victory Conditions

Major British Victory - All Italian Troops destroyed or surrendered.
Winning Draw British - 75% of Italian Troops destroyed or surrendered and over 50% of the initial British Force survives.
Draw - Any other result
Winning Italian Draw - 25% of Italian Troops leave the table
Major Italian Victory - 25% of Italian Troops leave the table AND the initial British Force is destroyed.

Each Support force used by the British reduces their success by 1 level, so if support force 1 is used the British cannot achieve a Major Victory, if both are used the best result is a draw. The Italian reinforcements have no effect on the result.

Arry under fire by Artillery eyes up a couple of Tankettes for breakfast
Umpire Notes

With no hidden movement or minefields etc this game doesn't need an Umpire, we played it very comfortably with 3 British and 2 Italian players.

We restricted the A9 Cruiser Tanks by allowing them to only fire one of their two mini turrets per turn.

Avanti !
How did we get on 

I was a bit concerned about the balance of the game before we started but you forget how badly armoured some of the British stuff was in this period an we ended up with a really close game.

Turn 1 determined the damage to the Italian Convoy, 5 of the 14 trucks were broken beyond repair or "buggered" as we prefer to call it, with men spilling out of trucks, trucks under repair and those trucks "fortunate" enough to be drivable heading off into the British Killing Zones.

An Italian Company HQ directs it's baby mortar from the shade of a palm tree.
The British players arrived on table with the MkVI Light Tanks opposite the Italian Convoy, the Rolls Royce Armoured Cars in the centre of the table and the A9s towards the other end of the table.

The Tankettes bravely rolled out of the shadow of the Convoy to engage the British Forces to give the Infantry the best chance of escape.

It's a 2 for 1 deal !
I had decided to throw caution to the wind and go headlong at the MkVIs and with a combination of luck, more luck and an extra side portion of luck, took out both of the British Light Tanks who had decided to try and use the limited cover on the table and shoot it out.

The destroyed tankette in the photo above was finally taken out by a 2pdr shell in the flank but before that it had been damaged twice and passed 5 consecutive morale tests needing 4 or less on a d10, a Unit of the Game award surely for that brave chap.

Lots of burning vehicles, but sometimes you just can't shoot fast enough 
In the middle of the table the second group of Tankettes were taking on the Rolls Royce Armoured Cars. It was a fairly even contest with another L3 going up in flames before the fortunate arrival of a Sandstorm gave them the cover to advance and take one of the Rolls Royces out and damage the other.

Not looking good for No 1 troop
Stationary with Artillery raining down, 2 Tankettes on the prowl and two major mechanical problems to fix the crew of the second Rolls wisely decided to bail out.

It wasn't all Italian joy, remember it's not the Victor that records the History it's the Blog writer (who happens to be playing Italian) so who wants to see boring pictures or burning Italian trucks.

Italian Officers taking advantage of their very fast Staff Car, someone has to report back !
The A9s were picking off as many targets as they could alternating between approaching Tankettes and fleeing trucks. As the Tankettes got closer the 2pdr really started to take over, rapidly taking out the 2 L3s which had taken out the Rolls as they emerged from the Sandstorm.

The British stubbornly refused to take any reinforcements which just left the two A9 tanks left to finish off the Italian Forces, but they just couldn't stop the Italians from leaving the table, they managed to get the Convoy HQ and 3 Sections of Infantry (interestingly all on foot) off the table.

The game ended with good old Arry being taken out by Italian Artillery. So it turned out to be a draw at the conclusion of the scenario and to be fair as an Italian Commander I would have taken that at the start of the day.

Campaign Progress

The second game sees 2 points awarded to both sides so with the Brits getting a winning draw in the first game they lead 5 points to 3.

We move onto our traditional yearly Naval Campaign next before we return to the Desert for game 3, which will see the Italians attacking, gulp.

End of Game

OpCompass 1940 - Resource Page

This is a seperate resource page for our on going WW2 Desert Campaign based on the events of Op Compass. It contains links to all the previous games as well as recurring rules.

The games are based on the book Operation Compass by Robert Avery which is sold by the toofatlardies for their "I ain't been shot mum" rules. Although I have changed a few things round to make the scenarios work better for us I highly recommend the book as a great source of information and ideas. You can pick it up HERE for seven of your English Pounds.


Difficult Going - Before moving each vehicle throws 2 d6, on a double, 1 2 or 3 the vehicle bogs down and cannot move that turn. It can perform other actions (such as spot / load etc) so long as they declared that before the roll. On a double 4,5 or 6 the vehicle needs to roll again on the Breakdown table.

Breakdown - when required to do so a vehicle will roll 1d6 and apply the following result,

1 = It was just a misfire, carry on as normal.
2 = A wheel has got stuck but a bit of welly frees it, no movement for 1 turn.
3 = Minor Problem 2d6 > 5 to fix, may take 1 action if successfully fixed
4 = Major Problem 2d6 > 7 to fix, no further actions that turn.
5 = Serious Problem 2d6 > 9 to fix, no further actions that turn.
6 = It's buggered ! Crew abandon vehicle.

Victory Points

At the end of each game points are awarded to each side depending on the result of the game, the total carried forward to the next game to give an overall Campaign standing.

Major Victory  - Winner 4 points, Loser 0 points.
Winning Draw - Winner 3 points, Loser 1 point.
Draw - 2 points each.

Objectives in the game are particularly high for the British, this was a very one sided Campaign and sometimes having a couple of men left was a major victory for the Italian Forces.

Italian Brittle Morale

Especially in the early stages of the Campaign Italian Troops, often in a hopeless situation surrendered in large numbers. The poor morale is already reflected in their low game values however in some games this additional rule is used.

Our rules use a system of pinning, to reflect failed morale tests, getting worse with each pin until at pins the unit is removed from the table.

When this rule is in force any Italian unit with 2 pins will roll a d6 and it surrenders on a roll of 1 or 2, for 3 pins it surrenders on a 1,2 or 3.

Dry and Dusty 

When this rule is in force add +1 to spotting rolls for every 10" or part there of that the unit being spotted moves.

E.g. An Infantry Section moves forward 6", +1 to spot it. An Armoured Car moves 21", +3 to spot it.

Ammo Dumps

When stuck by Artillery or Mortar Fire an Ammo Dump will set on fire and have a chance of further explosions. As soon as fire is set and once at the start of every turn follow the following procedure,

1. Roll 2d6 one plus and one minus, any minus and the wind direction changes (on the first turn of the fire ignore this), then roll 1d12 and 1d6 to indicate smoke direction from the fire the d12 indicates the clock direction and the d6 the number of 60 x 50mm smoke markers. So a roll of 7 and 4 would mean 4 markers at 7 o'clock from the dump. The dumps will burn all game once lit.

2. Roll 2d6 one plus and one minus, on any minus an additional explosion has occurred, roll 1 d 12 and a random direction indicator (the Spin for It App is ideal), the d12 is the distance in inches. At that location place a standard Mortar round and calculate any casualties as normal or if you are really good, set another Ammo Dump off ! Any double rolled on the initial pair of dice mean the explosions have stopped (the fire and smoke continues).

Sandstorm  - represented by a randomly shaped object about 12 inches round. At the start of each turn the Sandstorm moves in a random direction, roll 1 d10, 1 inch equals one spot on the dice i.e. 6 = 6 inches. Chose direction with a dice or spinner.

Any troops under the Sandstorm will not activate whilst they are under it. There is no shooting, spotting or moving through a Sandstorm.


Game 5 - Same Day Different Fort

The British attacks on the Forts continue.

Heavy losses on the British side lead to a draw, 2 points each.

Running Total British 13 Italian 7

Game 4 - Last Stand

British Forces attack through an Italian Fort as the Italians desperately hold on.

Our result - a draw 2 points each

Running Total British 11 points Italian 5 points

Game 3 - T'Egypt Bound 

A rare Italian Attack that didn't go too well for us, an easy British Victory 

Our Result British Win 4 pts

Running Total, British 9, Italian 3

Game 2 - Turkey Shoot

Game 2 sees a small mobile armoured British Recon Force locating and trying to destroy an Italian Convoy.

Our Result - A draw, 2 points each.

Running Total - British 5, Italian 3

Game 1 - Tally Ho

A quick one night only game with a group of lightly armoured British Recon units rush to break through a thin layer of Italian defences, watch out for those mines !

Our Result - Winning Draw British, 3 points to the Brits, 1 to the Italians