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.