Wednesday 26 December 2018

Op Compass - Game 5 Same Day, Different Fort

We are back in the Desert this week for the 5th Game in our ongoing Campaign at the start of the war. Today sees the plucky Brits led astray by a bunch of Kiwi Truck Drivers whilst the brave Italian Forces try to hold out.

If you want more information on the Campaign I have set up a separate 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 available from The Toofatlardies, there is a direct link to purchase the book on the Resource Page.

We use 28mm figures with this scenario taking place on an 8 x 6 table using a home brew set of rules, based on Iron Ivans Disposable Hero's.

Desert Rats advancing into the Fort
Historical Background

Our last game was set on the morning of the 9th December 1940 in the Fort of Nibeiwa, this game is set on the afternoon of the same day just down the road (ok track) at the Fort of Tummar West.

This was to be a simultaneous attack with a similar adventure down at Tummar East, Infantry would lead the attack, supported by the Matildas of 7 RTR who were rushing (If a Matilda can rush) over from Nibeiwa.

The attack was lead by the New Zealanders of the No4 Reserve Motor Transport Company, instead of dropping off their Infantry cargo at the standard 500 yards from the target they raced forwards to within 150 yards and having stolen bayonets from the Infantry Bren Gun Teams they yelled "Come on you Pommie Bastards" abandoned their trucks and raced headlong into the Italian Defences.

Kiwi Truckers to the Fore
Resistance was fierce within the camp and the Italians held out for quite some time before the fighting ended, it was only with the arrival of additional reinforcements in the shape of a Punjab unit that the Fort was taken.

Table Set Up and Terrain 

Above is a picture of the table used for the game, as in the previous match up I have only used 8 x 6 of our avaliable space. Everything is as you see it, the road is just a track and gives no movement bonus.

The crates are Ammo Dumps

The following Special Rules are in force,

Kiwi Truckers 

The 2 sections will not have an activation card in the deck but will always activate first, after the Ammo Dumps have been rolled for and before the first card is turned. They are not subject to morale tests.

Ammo Dumps

These rules also apply to buildings however they can only be set alight during the initial Artillery Barrage (see British Briefing below).

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).

Ammo Dumps burn and beltch fire !
British Briefing 

As in your previous game your brief is simple, clear all the active resistance from the Fort whilst minimising your losses.

Your Forces are as follows, all arrive anywhere on the far edge of the table as shown in the photo,

Kiwi Truckers  - 2 x 8 man Sections no LMG  (the Kiwis are immune to all morale checks and are removed when they reach one remaining figure)

2 Companies of Infantry each with 
1 HQ of 3 Figs, Officer, Radio Op and Sgt
3 Units of 10 men each with 1 Sgt with SMG, 2 man Bren Team and 7 Rifles

After turn 5 place the British Reinforcements card into the deck and roll 1d4 on its first appearance, that is the number of turns until the following arrive,

1 x Troop 7RTR 3 x Matilda Tanks (I used a rogue Valentine for a change)

Bren Carriers Charge !
After the Tanks have been on table for 3 turns add in the British Reinforcements card again, treat as above, this time reinforcements are,

2 x HMG and crew each in a Bren Carrier

4 x Bren Carrier each with 1 x 8 man Punjabi Infantry Squad of 1 Sgt with SMG and 7 Rifles. I know 8 men is a squeeze in a Bren but I haven't got any more !

Italian Briefing 

Once again you are faced with an onslaught of seemingly unstoppable Infantry and Tanks (although you still can't quite believe how slow those tanks are !), smoke and flame is all around, hang on as long as you can.

The Italians have a secret set up, I marked each building with a letter and put 3 letters along each of the trenches, each one can hold either 2 support weapons or 1 support weapon and a section of Infantry. Normal spotting rules apply.

Italian Mortar lays down fire

Italian Forces are

2 x HQ with Officer and Radio Operator
3 x Rifle Sections with 1 Sgt with SMG and 10 Rifles
3 LMG Sections with 1 Sgt, 2 3 man LMG teams and 2 Rifles

2 x HMG with 3 crew
1 x Medium Mortar with 3 crew
1 x Light Mortar with 2 crew
2 x 75mm Field Gun with 4 crew
2 x 47mm Anti Tank Gun with 3 crew
1 x Anti Tank Rifle with 2 crew

Italian LMG Section defend a building
Pre Game Barrage

Once the Italians have set up randomly select 4 buildings and or Ammo Dumps and these are declared as being destroyed by the strike, any troops in those buildings are lost. The areas hit will now be subject to the Ammo Dump rules above (note this is the only time in this game that buildings will set ablaze).

The initial Artillery Barrage causes chaos
How did we get on 

Those of you who are following the campaign will be aware of the streak of poor luck the Italians are currently suffering. This would prove to be the case once again. Table Set Up ready to go, in comes the Artillery Barrage..... and takes out the Italian HQ in turn 1 !

The British decided to push all their troops along the left side (as viewed in the set up photo) using the small walled area and then the tented area for a bit of cover.

Charge  !
The initial advance was helped with the draw of the Charge event card, perfect for the Kiwis, as the Italians had already fired,  they ran into the nearest building capturing it at bayonet point. The situation was going well as the Italians had set up an artillery piece in the forward trench which was quickly over run (top picture).

Fat Badger is so fat he gets stuck.
The British tanks turned up on Turn 7 and true to it's name Fat Badger got stuck and spend the next 7 turns trying to get free, not the best thing when you are in one of the slowest tanks of the war.

Allies advance, Kiwis to the fore
Using the trench captured in the charge against the Artillery, the Allies pushed down the table, Kiwis to the fore. But it wasn't all one way traffic, casualties were racking up for the British, something not seen before in this campaign.

British Infantry working hard to push through the centre of the fort
The Ammo Dump and Smoke rules worked really well (considering I made them up the night before !) and visibility issues got worse when a Sandstorm kicked up in the middle of the table. Infantry advanced under the cover of smoke or defenders lined up a perfect shot only to find the wind swirl and the smoke position change.

As in the real battle, the arrival of the Bren mounted Infantry swung the balance of the game in favour of the Allies, the commander taking full advantage of the high speed of the Brens to get the reinforcements to the right place quickly.

The last of the Italian Forces fell back on one of the trenches and stood ready for a final stand, things went well initially as a British section charged the southern end of the trench and was seen off with a bloody nose. However with concentrated fire the last of the ranged Italian Weapons was silenced leaving them with only Rifle armed troops. As the British had the ability to stand off with their HMGs and Lt Mortars we declared that the remaining Italians surrendered ending the game.

Allied Casualties Top, Italian bottom

Losses Allied 36 Infantry
Losses Italian 39 Infanty plus 9 Support Weapons and crews

Result wise I have declared this as a draw, 2pts each , yes the British took the Fort but let's be honest there isn't any other possible outcome, the 36 Infantry losses for the Allies was by far the highest of the Campaign so far (they lost two in one game !)

So 5 games in the British lead 13 points to 7. Game 6, due early 2019, will be a bit of a change as we see a clash of forces in the open as they manoeuvre around the forts.

Monday 17 December 2018

Battle of Albuera 1811 - AAR

A big Napoleonic Game with bags of figures on an unfeasibly cramped table was the beginning of my gaming journey nearly 40 years ago and I am so glad to have that back in my locker.

A few months ago I posted a Scenario post for the battle, a combination of my holidays, shift work and illness meant that it took ages to finish, but with a permanent set up and a Yarkshire outlook, there's no need to rush lad.

It was also the first real test of my Quarrie version of GdeB and it was a very positive experience, everyone got it straight away. After the game we all agreed they were the way forward and other than a couple of tweeks (some of which were rule based rather than National Characteristics (NC) based).

There were some anti NC comments on the previous post however I find them the most flexible way of representing troop types, for some reason some people can't get past the base stat line, it's a guide, if a particular regiment performed well increase the stats, if it's a Marie Louise battalion reduce them. A link to the original rules post is below.

Back to the battle itself, things started as you would expect with this battle with a French assault on the Alled right, specifically on the Spanish troops lining a number of hills. As per the scenario the French had 6 moves to "get on with it"

Vistula Legion Lancers make a hole in the Spanish Line
The French Cavalry didn't muck about and went straight at the Spanish Cavalry on the flank, it was no match and it wasn't long before the Spanish Brigade broke, first spoils to the French.

Godinots Brigade advance
In the meantime whilst the British and Portuguese were waiting for the signal to move out the French had redeployed Godinots Brigade to attack the Spanish above Albuera. The remaining French Infantry and Cavalry poured towards the hill line in one seemingly unstoppable wave.

Spanish Infantry open up on the approaching French
With the British troops only just waking up the first Infantry attack fell on the Spanish troops lining the hill. Ripples of musket fire went up and down the line as the French columns came on.

As you can see from the photo above and the abundance of Falter and Retreat markers the first blood fell to the Spanish who with a combination of steady fire power and poor French die rolling, saw off the initial assault of Godinots Brigade.

The troops of Gazan and Girand where coming into action whilst the French Cavalry continued to cause havoc on the allied right, The Vistula Legion Lancers tried to break the square of the Spanish Irlanda Regt, it was a close run thing but the square held.

After a brief lull the French renewed their attack on the Spanish, with the elite French Grenadier Battalion heading the charge the Spanish finally started to give way after a long hard fight. Brigades began to break and the resistance crumbled.

Coles Division had formed a defensive line with the Fusilier Battalions facing the oncoming French, this was fine whilst the Spanish held but as they left the field the flank of the Fusiliers was exposed. The Allied generals failed to deal with the position and left the flank exposed, leaving the British Cavalry unused on the hill at the rear of Albuera. This would prove their downfall.

Meanwhile the French and British Battalions clashed around the town, a couple of French units made gains but there wasn't enough support to push the advantage home.

The game ended when the French Grenadiers pushed home an attack on the flank of the Fusiliers, poor dice rolling saw the impacted battalion break and then a double 1 on the Brigade morale saw the flank collapse.

There were plenty of untouched British and Portuguese troops to allow an orderly withdrawal from the field but the day and the honours went to the French.

Below is a list of the casualties in our game, if a unit is not mentioned it suffered no losses, these casualties do not include routing troops.

French Casualties

Godinots Brigade
1/16 Legere 13 out of 28 figures = 260 men or 46%
2/16 Legere 16 out of 28 figures = 320 men or 57%
3/16 Legere 6 out of 28 figures = 120 men or 21%
1/51 Ligne 12 out of 36 figures = 240 men or 33%
2/51 Ligne 17 out of 36 figures = 340 men or 47%
3/51 Ligne 5 out of 36 figures = 100 men or 14% Routed
Grenadier Battalion 10 out of 48 figures = 200 men or 21%

Briche Cavalry
10th Hussars 7 out of 20 figures = 140 men or 35% Routed
21st Chasseur 4 out of 20 figures = 80 men or 20%

Brons Cavalry - No Casualties

Bouvier des Èclaits Cavalry
14th Dragoons 1 out of 16 figures = 20 men or 6%
17th Dragoons 1 out of 16 figures = 20 men or 6%

Unattached Cavalry
Vistula Legion Lancers 6 out of 28 figures = 120 men or 21%
27th Chasseur 1 out of 22 figures = 20 men or 5%

Girards Division
2/34 Ligne 3 out of 24 figures = 60 men or 12%
3/34 Ligne 1 out of 24 figures = 20 men or 4%
1/40 Ligne 4 out of 20 figures = 80 men or 20%
2/40 Ligne 1 out of 20 figures = 20 men or 5%

Gazans Division
2/21 Legere 13 out of 20 figures = 260 men or 65%

Werles Division
2/12 Legere 8 figures out of 36 figures = 160 men or 22%
3/12 Legere 4 figures out of 36 figures = 80 men or 11%
3/55 Ligne 2 figures out of 30 figures = 40 men or 7%

Total Casualties 2,700

Allied Casualties 

Colbornes Brigade
2/31st Foot 7 figures out of 21 = 140 men or 33%
2/48th Foot 1 figure out of 23 = 20 men or 4%
2/66th Foot 6 figures out of 22 = 120 men or 27%

Houghtons Brigade
29th Foot 6 figures out of 25 = 120 men or 24%
1/57th Foot 1 figure out of 32 = 20 men or 3%

Abercrombie Brigade
2/28th Foot 4 figures out of 26 = 80 men or 15%

Myers Brigade Broken Brigade
1/7 Fus 14 figures out of 36 = 280 men or 39% Routed 
2/7 Fus 1 figure out of 28 = 20 men or 4%
1/23 Fus 5 figures out of 37 = 100 men or 13%

Harvey's Portuguese Brigade
1/11 Line 1 figure out of 29 = 20 men or 3%
1/23 Line 1 figure out of 28 = 20 men or 4%

Hamilton's Portuguese Brigade
1/2 Line 3 figures out of 30 = 60 men or 10%
1/14 Line 1 figure out of 30 = 20 men or 3%

Blake's Spanish

Lardizabal Brigade
Canaris Foot 1 figure out of 24 = 20 men or 4%
2nd Leon Foot 4 figures out of 24 = 80 men or 17%

Ballasteros Brigade Broken Brigade 
Catalonia Foot 8 figures out of 20 = 160men or 40% Routed 
Pavia Foot 4 figures out of 20 = 80 men or 20%
Lena Foot 7 figures out of 20 = 140 men or 35% Routed 
Castropol Foot 8 figures out of 20 = 160 men or 40 % Routed
Inifiesto Foot 4 figures out of 20 = 80 men or 20%

Zayas Brigade Broken Brigade 
Spanish Guard 12 figures out of 30 = 240 men or 40%
Irlanda Foot 13 figures out of 30 = 260 men or 43% Routed 
Patria Foot 3 figures out of 30 = 60 men or 10%
Toledo Foot 1 figure out of 30 = 20 men or 3%
Esteramdura Foot 3 figures out of 30 = 60 men or 10%
Spanish Artillery 12 figures out of 12 = 240 men or 100%

Loys Spanish Cavalry Brigade Broken Brigade 
Castillo Hussar 5 figures out of 20 = 100 men or 25% Routed 
Granaberos Horse 6 figures out of 20 = 120 men or 30% Routed 

Penne Villemuir Spanish Cavalry Brigade Broken Brigade 
Reina Horse 7 figures out of 20 = 140 men or 35% Routed 

Total Casualties 2980 men

An excellent game, closely balanced and a good challenge for both sides, highly recommended, I will be looking at getting another big Napoleonic Game in soon but this time trying out the rule mods in a 1813 situation.

Sunday 9 December 2018

28mm WW2 Warlord Italian Bersaglieri

It's been close on 2 months since I posted anything on the old blog. It's been a bit of a break full stop, I had a month off work for a trip round Italy with Mrs YG and then it has taken a bit of time to get back into the normal blogging, painting, gaming routine, but sometimes a break is good to get the mojo going again.

20mm Anti Tank Rifle 
I picked some nice straight forward Italian WW2 figures to get the Vallejo flowing again, all technique and little skill is the way forward with these boys. The figures themselves are from Warlord Games and are the last figures in my Italian to do box (not including vehicles).

Detail photo
Warlord figures are very different from the Perry Miniatures that form the mainstay of my Desert Collection, slightly larger in size, a good deal chunkier and with rougher detail, they definitely have a great character about them. The raised detail makes them easy to paint with my dry brush, wash style and for very little work it's possible to get a pretty good result.

Italian 100mm Artillery 
The main reason for clearing up the remaining Italians was to get this Artillery piece ready for action. The 100mm gun again from Warlord will definitely add a bigger bite to my Italian forces. The figures are standard for both Europe and the Desert, I simply added the Sun Hat heads to get the Desert look.

The game on the table is our next Op Compass Campaign game (No 5) however these troops are not in the Order of Battle so it might be a while before they see action.

So it's good to be back in the blogging habit, coming next will be the AAR for Albuera and a post on the Op Compass game. On the paint table is a Muslim Heavy Cavalry unit for the Crusades which I am picking at whilst prepping for this year's Analogue Hobbies Winter Paint Challenge. See you all again soon.