Thursday, 1 December 2016

A Clash at Kutzdorf - A Black Powder Napoleonic AAR

Being able to meet up for a game over the past few weeks had been a bit of an issue for Dave and I, which seems to have become a bit of a theme this year. However last night we were able to get together and we decided upon giving Dave's newly painted Napoleonic Prussians a bit of a run out as it was all a bit short notice. We plumped for 'Black Powder' as the ruleset, mainly because we could set up a simple game without any real pre-game prep. In terms of scenario Dave came up with the good idea of using one from the 'Honours of War' ruleset. The 'Clash at Kutzdorf' offered a nice sized game so we settled for this and simply used the OOB pretty much as written. Victory conditions were simply drive the enemy from the field. Simples.

Both sides deployed as per the scenario, with the stream delineating the table edge. The French were designated as the Attackers and therefore got go first. I did not have the time to make notes during the game, so some annotated photos (sorry for the poor quality but I forgot to turn on the flash!) will hopefully suffice.

Both sides deployed for battle, with the French on the left, the Prussians the right.
The French push forward, as do the Prussian cavalry. The Prussian Brigade on the bottom hill fail their order when they really needed to get moving.
The French advance.
The French have stormed forward ready to assault the units on the top hill. The Prussians finally move off the bottom hill, albeit rather slowly.
Both sides exchange artillery fire, with a Prussian unit taking a hit and becoming Disordered.
The French Guard cavalry Blunder forward.
The French assault the top hill, whilst the cavalry admire each other and the Prussians struggle forward, somewhat aware of the two rather nasty guns facing them.
The French assaults go in across the hill, but first blood to the Prussians as a French Guard unit breaks and flees the table.
The Prussian cavalry gain a moral vicotry as they break a Guard cavalry unit. However on the hill things are not looking too rosy.
The Prussian cavalry gain the upper hand, but the Prussian infantry brigade find it hard to advance in the face of the French guns.
Prussians all lined up but no where to go.
Two thirds of the Prussian Brigade breaks and flee down the hill. Not good to say the least.
The cavalry continue to knock the living daylights out of each other, whilst the infantry battle continues.
As the cavalry continue their grudge match, the Prussian Brigade tries to advance, but achieves little.
The remnants of the Prussian Brigade must fall back, but do so in good order, despite being persued by the French, who in turn are Shaken.
The Prussians, seeing that the game is up, start an orderly withdrawl.
The Prussians pull back.
A view from the hill towards the wood that divided the battlefield.

Post Game Thoughts
Well for a quickly set up game, we had great fun and it all played out pretty well. Apart from the Prussians losing of course! So as always a few thoughts on the game:

  • To be honest we were both a little unsure about playing 'Black Powder', as previous games hadn't been too much fun, compared to the likes of 'Honours of War' and 'Bloody Big Battles'. We were both pleasantly suprised at how well the game played and had little recourse to the rules. We may have got a few things wrong, but to be honest this didn't bother us during the game.
  • We did make a few house rules, which may have led to it being a better game. Quite simply at the start we decided to use alternate Brigade activition and rolling for Fire Inititative as per 'Honours of War'. This worked really well and made for a much better game and added a nice level of friction to the game. Hats off to Keith Flint for these and he is to be commended for these simple yet effective rules mechanisms.
  • The scenario worked well but the wood between the two hills effectively split the table into two areas, which allowed the French to defeat the Prussians in detail, or at least that's how it felt. At least the Prussians we able to retreat in relatively good order, as the French, despite being in command of the field, were somewhat bloodied which would have made pursuit more difficult.
So that's it for Dave and I gaming this year, as we both head off towards our respective 'Winter Quarters'. Next year we plan to kick things off with the same scenario, but using 'Bloody Big Battles' as the ruleset. It will be interesting to see how these work for a smaller and non-historical scenario. Our gut feeling is that they will work perfectly well and hopefully lead to some smaller scale games such as this in the future. I still hope to get in a few more games, whether solo or with friends before the New Year, but only time will tell if I'm able to achieve this.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

D-Day + 1 - a BKCII AAR

The planets for once aligned themselves favourably for Craig and I to get a game of something in. After an exchange of e-mails, we settled upon BKCII and some action set in North West Europe in 1944. It was around a couple of years ago since we last played and about a year since I had a solo game. It would be interesting to see how much we remembered. 

So after mulling some ideas over, I came up with the following scenario: 

Scenario Details
7th June 1944 and the British are pushing on towards Lebisey, near to Caen. The 1st Royal Norfolks have been tasked with left flank protection of the Brigade.
Germans trying to stop British and to breakthrough towards the beaches.
Low cloud cover has prevented any air support being available.
Naval support stretched so none available.
Both sides choose forces up to 2,000 points.
The scenario is a basic 'Encounter' engagement as per Scenario 1 in the rulebook.

References Used
Osprey Campaign 143 Caen 1944 by Ken Ford
Monty's Ironsides by Patrick Delaforce
Panzer Grenadier by Kurt 'Panzer' meyer
British & Commonwealth Armies 1944 -1945 OOB 2 by Mark Bevis
Bigot Map 40/16 NW Ouistreham re-print
WS&S Issue 87 article 'An Autumn Storm' by Piers Brand as inspiration for the table layout.

OOB 1st Battalion Royal Norfolks, 185th Bde, 3rd British Division, Lt-Col Bellamy CO
1 x CO
2 x HQ
1 x FAO
1 x Recce Daimler (3rd Recce 8th Northumberland Fusiliers)
12 x Regular Infantry (4 units with PIAT upgrade)
2 x MG (2nd Middlesex)
1 x 6 pdr ATG with tow
1 x 3" Mortar 
4 x Sherman 75mm (Staffordshire Yeomanry Div Armoured Regt, 79th Armoured Div)
1 x Sherman Firefly (Staffordshire Yeomanry Div Armoured Regt, 79th Armoured Div)
1 x 25pdr Arty Support (7th Field Regiment RA)
1 x 4.2" Mortar Support (7th Field Regiment RA)

Both sides set up using mobile deployment, with the British on the right and the Germans on the left.

Boths sides decided to deploy the bulk of their forces South of the farmhouse and the crossroads.

The British had all their weight behind a planned left hook past the farmhouse and into the countryside beyond the railtracks.

Turn 1
The British got off to a good start, with their Shermans pushing up towards the railway line, with the infantry lagging behind in support. The central unit failed to move off but the CO managed to push the Sherman Firefly and 6pdr A/T gun towards the woods.

In response the Germans moved off rather smartly, with their right flank moving up to the railway line and ready to threaten the Shermans with flanking fire. True to form Craig rolled a Blunder, leaving all of his command units on -1 CV for the next Turn.

The action develops in the Southern sector of the table.

Opportunity fire from the Shermans sees them suppress a Panther, but their flanks are very much exposed to the German PzIVs.

The German right flank in a good position to bring fire onto the British left flank.

Turn 2
The British HQ on the left flank failed its command roll, which was not good considering the threat from the PzIVs. The central unit moved up to support the left flank whilst the Firefly advanced through the woods and suppressed a Panther.

The German Turn got off to a poor start, with their left flank Blundering, leaving it with a CV off 5 for the rest of the game. Well that was them pretty much done for (or so we thought). On the German right flank, their tanks saw the demise of one Sherman with the other with only one hit left before it too would brew up. The Shermans certainly lived up to their reputation as 'Tommy cookers'.

The tanks battle it out as the infantry on both sides pushed forward where possible.

The Sherman 'Tommy Cookers' in action.

The PzIVs that were causing all of the trouble.

Turn 3
The British FAO got off to a flying start, with artillery strikes leading to the loss of one Panther and an infantry unit, with another one all but done for. Sadly it went a bit downhill after that, as the British left flank once more failed its command roll. The CO moved some infantry towards the crossroads, but all of the action was happening 'Down South' as it were.

Craig kicked his Turn off with an attempt to activate his CV5 command; he rolled a Double 1. Then another. And would 'Adam and Eve it' another Double 1. Well we were both a bit speechless by this point as his units had moved off the baseline all of the way into the farmhouse BUA. 

Hmmm, things were not looking too rosy for the Brits at this point. Hopefully their FAO would come to the rescue next Turn...

The Germans are dominating the Southern battlefield area.

Three sets of 'Double 1s' see the Germans dominating the crossroads and railway crossing.

Unsuprisingly the other Sherman brews up in short order.

Turn 4
The British kicked things off with their FAO in the hope of bringing down more artillery fire to turn the tide on their left flank. Sadly it was not be be as he blundered, leaving him on a CV of 5 for the next Turn. Things went from bad to worse as another Sherman brewed up along with the Firefly. The to add insult to injury the German mortars zeroed in on the infantry which saw the loss of one unit.

Things aren't going well for the Brits...

The British armour brewed up along the battle front.

The British left flank looks pretty defenceless from the German point of view.

Turn 5
A last gasp attempt by the FAO failed, along with most of the Brits, with the exception of the CO whose mortar fire managed to suppress a Panther. In return the Germans finished off the last sherman and another infantry unit.

A pall of smoke drifts across the battle field from the British armour.

The British infantry wisely start to retreat.

The smoking wrecks of the British tanks.

The Germans simply look on, satisfied with a good days work.

With all of their armour gone, the British wisely conceded the game and the battlefield.

Post Game Thoughts
Well, despite it being around a year since I had last played and two for Craig, the game went very smoothly. Despite it being rather one sided, we had great fun, which is what it's all about at the end of the day. As always a few thoughts on the game:
  • BKCII is certainly still my favourite WWII game. It just ticks all of the boxes for me.
  • After playing so many 'Black Powder Era' games of late, everything moved so quickly and units degraded so quickly, which was a bit of a suprise, mainly because I hadn't played for so long I had forgotten this.
  • The British artillery was certainly very powerful, when I was able to call it in, which felt historically accurate.
  • In contrast the German mortars fulfilled the same role and again the same historical accuracy.
  • It was nice to be playing with tanks again, but the Sherman tanks brewed up all too quickly, which again felt historically accurate.
  • Interestingly neither sides infantry got involved in the game, other than providing supporting fire from mortars and infantry guns. It was very much a game of tank vs tank. But when you look at the terrain that was fought over, which was very flat and open, you can understand why tanks and the larger calibre A/T guns dominated the battlefield.
Next week is likely to be back to some 'Black Powder' games with Dave, but as I'm on holiday next week, I hope to be able to get some more games in of BKCII. Whether it will be some AVBCW or WWII remains to be seen.

Friday, 28 October 2016

The Crossroads Motel part 2 - an HoW AAR

As planned, Dave and I were able to meet up for our follow on game based upon last week's scenario. However events on the work front prevented me from doing the pre-game prep that I'd had planned, so instead we pretty much came up with similar opposing forces when we met, with slight differences between the two. From memory the French had slightly more infantry whilst the British stronger on the artillery front.
Scenario details
With both sides having been unable to secure the crossraods last game, this was a fairly standard battle, with both sides lined up and ready for battle as dawn broke.
Random reinforcements
I did however have time to throw in a bit of randomness to the scenario, which took the form of the following:
  • Each side to randomly draw a marker that shows the Turn upon which their reinforcements arrive.
  • Each side to randomly draw three markers from a pile which will show what sort of units these are to be. These to be kept face down until the Turn upon which they are due to arrive, when they can be looked at. The player can then position them upon either of their roads entry points or if an independent unit, any where along their baseline.
To speed things along, both sides deployed 15cm in from their base edges. The French suprisingly rolled for 'Dependable' commanders right across the board, whilst the British were once again saddled with a 'Dithering' commander on their right flank.
Boths sides deployed for action.
Both sides broadly had three Brigades with cavalry support on either flank.

Turn 1
Both sides got off to a good start, with a broad advance and both forces, by-and-large, maintaining a linear front.

The French gain a slight advantage as they edge closer to the crossroads and the motel.
Both sides have a Brigade that fails to advance on their respective right flanks.

Turn 2
A very similar Turn once again as both sides push forward.

The French gain the edge of the town.
The French look to be in a good position.

Turn 3
The British reinforcements arrived this Turn, in the form of 2 x Line Infantry and 1 x Dragoon Cavalry. Both sides shake out into Line and a French 'Admirable' roll sees them move into the town.

A very Linear looking battlefield.
Both sides deploy their Brigades into Line, but with no units in a second line.
The French check into the motel with their baggage.

Turn 4
It was now time for the French to receive their reinforcements, which took the form of 1 x Hussars Cavalry, 1 x Line Infantry and 1 x Light Infantry. As the French left flank advanced, the British pushed forward in the centre whilst the French lined the town. Both sides then opened fore in the centre, causing some hits on the opposition.

The French left flank strung out to try and out flank the British right.
The British line up ready to threaten the French in the town.
The French artillery deployed and already coming under fire.

Turn 5
The French have a Turn of 'va va voom' as their Light Infantry move into the woods and their left flank advances a double move, with their cavalry charging into their British counterparts. The French come of the worst as a unit of Line Infantry is destroyed in the town and the cavalry is defeated by the British.

The French left flank advances agressively to threaten the British right flnak.
Action all across the French left flank.
In the centre the French are under pressure, but still in a good position.
On the right flank, the cavalry admire each others uniforms as the British left flank advances.

Turn 6
With both sides already engaged more or less across the whole front, there was some careful movement by both sides where possible. The French managed to win the Fire Initiative, causing the British to lose two units to their one. However the French Hussars proved to be no match for the British Dragoons.

The battle starts to fragments as both sides take casualties.
Holes start to appear along the French left flank.
The French firmly esconced in the town prove to be a formidable challenge to the British.

Turn 7
As both sides had suffered casualties and fall backs the previous Turn, where possible both tried to dress their ranks.

The battlefiled well and truly fragmented.
The British Dragoons reform to pose a threat to the French rear.
The British right flank slightly refused given the French possibly being in a position to turn it.
The French right flank firmly anchored on the town.
The British centre has more or less broken and the French Light Infantry are ready to exploit the gap.

Once gain time defeated us as the battle was nicely poised. However we both agreed that with the French having lost all of their cavalry units, they would be forced to fall back to protect their lines-of-communication, despite holding the town.

Post Game Thoughts
Despite not being able to finish the game, it was one full of action and as always was enjoyable. So some thoughts on the game:
  • The French cavalry are rubbish. Simples. I should have held them back but rashly charged them in when really I didn't need to. I should have waited until my Infantry had created an opening that they could possibly exploit. Lesson hopefully learnt...
  • The French gaining the town first allowed them to put up a good fight in the centre. With Light Infantry support in the woods this made for a pretty impregnable position.
  • The French had unusually good commanders (all dependable) and managed to get lots of double moves, which put the British on the back foot a bit. They also managed to get the fire intiative in some crucial Turns which certainly made a difference.
  • I liked the way the random reinforcements worked and may use this in future games, but it may need tweaking a bit dependent upon the scenario.

We now have a break for a few weeks due to a variety of reasons, but hopefully when we next meet we can finish of this 'series' of games with a fighting withdrawl by the French. After that I think some Nappies action beckons...