This game should really be titled – “When the Roman commander can’t roll higher than a 3 on a D6 all night”…
Its been a while since we have played Hail Caesar by Warlord games so we were all a bit rusty on the rules and a few mistakes were made, more on those later. Nevertheless great fun was had as usual when using these rules.
The two armies are my Ancient Britons and Chris’ Romans. Both of these are fledgling armies as we try to work out what we both need to have a good game and get them painted. That said, my Ancient Britons are almost complete. On the other hand the Romans are really only the core units of an army.
This is the second time they have faced each other. Last time it was on a smaller table (6ft x 4ft) with no room to maneuver. That battle was a real meat grinder with the Briton skirmishers getting driven off and then the Warbands being ground down by the Romans. It was pretty bloody on both sides but ultimately a decisive Roman victory with most of the Britons being back in the ‘box’ before the battle ended. In that battle we even forgot to use the pilum special rule for the Romans. My over riding memory of that battle is the Romans saving almost every hit they suffered.
This time the Britons have expanded by three small units of light horse…the Romans were the same as last time. Their reinforcements have apparently not been issued with equipment yet i.e. they are not painted! We also used the new 8ft x 5ft table top that I have recently made, although the blanket did not cover it all (about 7ft x 5ft). Incidentally the blanket is a family heirloom of sorts. It is the last blanket my Grandad was issued during WW2…
We wanted a fairly simple game, so an open table was the order of the day.
The Britons were on the table pretty sharpish. There was no time to waste!. On the right wing Magicstix the Druid had 3 warbands, 2 small light horse, and a bunch of skirmishers with slings.
In the middle ‘the chieftan’ had 2 warbands, a unit of light chariots, 2 skirmishes with slings and a skirmishing unit of dogs (we give these stats equivalent to javelin armed skirmishers).
On the left wing a third command with 1 warband, 1 light chariot, 1 medium cavalry and a small unit of light horse. They were fidgeting about so the camera is a bit out of focus…
Opposite the Romans considered their deployment and adjusted themselves to make sure they were perfectly regular. It almost brought a tear to the eye to see them so neatly arranged as they faffed about adjusting half an inch here and there… 😛
The Plan…For the Britons the plan was to engage the Romans with skirmishers while the left wing advanced around their flank, and then charge in with a decisive blow.
For the Romans it was fairly clear they were going to form a continuous line between the woods and then steamroller everything in front of them at once. Just like last time…
The Romans got first turn and shuffled forwards a little. Would you believe they fluffed all the command rolls and only moved at all because most of them have the ‘drilled’ special rule. We didn’t realise this was going to be pretty much how the whole night was going to go.
For the Britons. The left flank light horse decided that they really should be a lot further over to their left, rather than going forwards (blunder command roll!).
In the centre the skirmish screen ran forwards to engage the Roman line, the warbands staying behind to give the skirmishers room to maneuver. On the right Magicstix moved his command forward as one.
The Romans continued to shuffle forward in a continuous line, each legionnaire being careful to stay in line and not become exposed.
The light cavalry on the Briton left wing were now satisfied with their deployment and advanced. The rest of the left wing were a bit grumpy with their general attitude and decided to stay where they were (failed command). In the centre and on the right the skirmishers closed in to start pelting the Romans. They were unusually effective and Roman units began to suffer stamina reductions, clearly something was wrong with the Roman armour.
The Romans chased off the skirmishers in the centre by threatening to charge them. We (I) made a mistake at this point and we made the evade rolls before the checking to see if the Romans would make contact during their charge. The Romans continued to shuffle forwards, but the skirmishers ran for their lives…a good long distance! If we had done it properly the skirmishers would have stayed put as none of the Romans made a sufficiently decent charge move to make contact. They clearly were not in a mood to listen to orders… On the Roman left, we did the charge moves properly. The Roman infantry surged forwards to chase off the Briton light horse that was throwing pointy sticks at them, and the light horse ran off all the way back to their starting positions (annoying when they do a three move evade…).
At last the Briton left wing jumped into action and advanced. The light horse (see photo above) swept around the back of the Roman line making for the Scorpion ballista. In the centre the skirmishers returned to hassle the advancing Romans. On the right Magicstix was jumping in the air and waving his staff but nobody was listening, or could make out what he was getting excited about. The exposed unit of Romans that had chased off the light horse was left completely unmolested and the opportunity slipped by…(another failed command roll).
Roman auxiliary archers moved into the wood on the Roman right flank and crossed to the right hand edge to threaten the advancing Briton left wing cavalry (just out of shot on the photo). The exposed unit on the Roman left retired back into the battle line. At the back of the Roman line a unit of legionnaires tried to charge the light horse to their rear. They needed two moves to be successful (one to turn around and the next to charge), as we were beginning to expect, the command roll was failed and they only turned around on the spot because of the ‘drilled’ special rule.
The Briton light horse then charged the Roman Scorpion Ballistae… lost the combat, and ran for the hills in their shame (break result in the morale test)! The medium horse charged the auxiliary archers that were in the wood. We (I) made another mistake here…The horsemen needed to get a three move command to make the charge, they needed to turn to face the archers (which were on their flank), then adopt open order. And finally with the third move they could charge. To be on the safe side the Archers (in open order) elected to evade. The medium horse made the roll and got the required three moves…the archers then rolled for their evade and only got one move! Now the mistake happened, instead of the horsemen moving as infantry (6″) in the wood, they moved as cavalry (9″) and caught the evading archers who were then destroyed. If we had done it correctly they would have evaded the charge…
In the centre the skirmishers continued to pelt the Romans, and on the right Magicstix was still jumping up and down over the legionnaires that had managed to escape. Nobody was listening to him…
During the Briton fourth turn the light chariots had advanced around the edge of the wood to threaten the Roman flank but…one of the Roman units was facing to their rear (having failed to charge the light horse). Being rather rash, they decided to charge the chariots and did…the chariots counter charged, immediately disorganising the advancing infantry and then proceeded to batter them in the melee. After the melee the Romans retreated, but the chariots declined to follow up. Elsewhere the Roman line stood splendidly still and attempted to throw javelins and send out small groups to chase off the skirmishers which had been pelting them continuously. They (the Romans) were not very successful in their endeavours…
On the Briton right flank Magicstix had finally calmed down enough to be shouting actual words, and his light horse swept forwards to re-engage the Romans.
On the Briton left the time was now! The Roman right flank was in disarray! The warband on the left flank raced to get around the wood and the cavalry prepared to charge the disorganised legionnaires. They needed a three move command to get out of the wood, form back into close order and then charge…! They actually only got one move. Disaster! they were now out of the wood right in front of formed heavy infantry, and in open order! To protect them the Briton chief ordered his skirmishers to close on the flank of the Romans to try and prevent the inevitable charge in the next turn that would be so costly to the medium cavalry. He then commanded his 2 warbands and light chariots to charge the Roman line! They were having none of it and decided a better coarse of action was to retreat (blunder – result two moves to the rear)! At this point they ‘should’ have been moved off the table but again we (I) made a mistake and just moved them to the base edge.
And then the shooting began…The second unit on the Roman left flank (behind the ones that had retreated from the chariots) were Praetorians. In a desperate bid to try and save the cavalry the Britons threw everything at them. Their armour was decidedly lacking whilst the Briton cavalry javelins and slingers made their presence felt, almost every shot casued a reduction in unit stamina and then horror of horrors (if you were Roman)…a morale test was required…the dice rolled, they clacked together…they spun slowly…you know what is coming….”snake eyes”. Goodbye Praetorians, it was unpleasant knowing you.
The Romans were feeling a bit bleak…they needed something. So, the ballistae shot at the cavalry in desperation, and the Briton cavalry were unnerved and ran off in disorder to the other side of the wood. The legionnaires then threw javelins at the light chariots and chased them away in disorder too… Another unit of Legionnaires charged forward to chase off the bothersome skirmishers, who simply skipped away.
On the Roman right Magicstix had ‘played a blinder’. Whether by luck or judgement (lets go with judgement) the unit of light horse between the lines of Britons and Romans was perfectly placed so that if the Romans charged as a Division they would only get as far as the intervening, lets call them ‘speed bump’ and then have to stop to fight. They would then be too far away from the main Briton line that even a sweeping advance would not get them into combat. Feeling demoralised the Roman commander decided not to charge.
On the Briton left, the chariots and medium cavalry could do nothing. The warband was commanded to charge around the wood and engage the Romans. They sort of listened but did it their own way (blunder – uncontrolled advance for 1 move). In the centre, skirmishers closed in around the exposed legionnaires that were still in a sorry state after their chariot affair (since the warband had neglected to become involved).
On the right Magicstix persuaded his other unit of light horse to join the first and between them both they managed to cause the Praetorians to their front to retire in disorder.
Perhaps you are wondering where the Briton chief is with his warbands and light chariots in the centre of the Briton line? Well, he was still issuing commands…they just weren’t listening.
On the Roman right the legionnaires at the back tried to escape the skirmishers by charging at the warband that had began to come around the edge of the wood. They fluffed the command roll and only advanced one move forwards because of the ‘drilled’ special rule. As a consolatory prize the ensuing volley of javelins they launched disordered the warband.
The other roman units on the right flank tried to chase off the skirmishers but either didn’t get enough of a move to make contact, or where they did the skirmishers managed to successfully evade them.
On the Roman left. The Praetorians failed to recover from disorder (they are elite 4+…) and the other legionnaires attempted to charge the Briton warbands to their front. This time it was inevitable…if they got the charge distance then they would either chase off the skirmishers and then contact the warbands behind. Or fight the skirmishers and be able to charge the warbands in a sweeping advance afterwards. All they needed was to get a two move charge…all they needed was to roll two under the command requirement…and…they rolled…and they got…one move! So ground to a halt in front of the skirmishers!
On the Briton left. The skirmishers continued to pelt the hapless legionnaires in the rearmost unit. The Briton cavalry managed to form into close order at last, in position behind the disorganised warband. In the following shooting the Romans were at last reduced to ‘shaken’.
This is the view from the Briton’s chief…
A lovely exposed Roman flank, just ripe for a unit of Light Chariots to go and cause some mischief. And did they? No they did not, another failed command roll!
Meanwhile on the Briton right flank Magicstix had order his whole command of Warbands to charge, after moving his skirmishers out of the way (with an initiative move). It was perfect! A warband on its first charge, supported to right, left and behind against a Roman unit which only had rear support!
The melee was impressive! Even with their pilum the Romans managed only 3 successful points of stamina off the Britons. In return they suffered 8! (We give the warbands the’ wild fighters 3′ special rule as per the scenario in the Hail Caesar rule book). The Romans needed a break test. They needed to roll well… And they did! Retreat one move in disorder but then when we came to move them, because of the angle of their initial charge the Briton light cavalry was now behind them…preventing their retreat. Awesome planning from the Druid, he must have foreseen it!
Result = two Roman units destroyed!
The Romans were in trouble now. One Division (on their left) was broken, another (on their right) had all commands shaken. It was down to a roll of the dice, could they rally the shaken legionnaires on their right flank to prevent the army being broken…No.
And that was that.
An excellent game of Hail Caesar and the first time in about five years, in fact the first time ever that the Britons have won against the Romans. All those years of playing Warhammer Ancients and being unceremoniously destroyed can now be forgotten. And the less said about Chris and Dean’s appalling luck with the dice the better.
Thanks to Chris and Dean the hapless Roman commanders, Michael (Briton left flank) and Nigel (Magicstix the Druid). For my part I’ll take all the glory thank you very much as the victorious Briton Chieftan even though the centre Warbands and Light Chariots refused to listen to me all battle…
This is the scenario that was used for a re-fight of Albuera at Albancih 2015 on the terrain boards described in a separate post:
On 4th May the British under General Beresford besieged Badajoz with a small army of around 20,000 British and Portuguese. Marshal Soult had just finished putting down a rising in Andalusia and had gathered together a French army of ~25,000 with which to raise the siege. Having tricked the British into thinking he was preparing defensive positions he marched as quickly as possible towards Badajoz with the intention of defeating the Spanish army under Blake and Beresford’s British/Portuguese in detail.
Beresford learned that Marshal Soult had set out to relieve the fortress. He therefore decided that it would be better to meet this threat in the field, raised the siege and arranged to join with a Spanish army under General Jochim Blake at the semi-deserted village of La Albuera.
The scene was set for a pivotal battle in which Soult’s magnificent flank attack and sweeping cavalry charges by the Vistula Lancers were defeated by stubborn, brave British and Spanish soldiers standing their ground despite the odds.
This is a fairly large battle and the scenario as written/used was based on representing 800 men as a Battalion /400 cavalry as a regiment /8 guns as a battery, but you could alter this as needed to suit what you have available. The strength of each Battalion / Regiment / battery is given in the attached files to help you do this. Note that we made some adjustments to suit the scenario for example the two Battalions of Kings German Legion are represented by one large Battalion but we could have equally decided to represent them as two small Battalions. Also, arguably French light infantry should be treated exactly the same as line infantry, however, we like the difference…When you play it you can do it your way :).
The scenario starts before Soult’s flank attack and gives the French player the option of entering from directly in front of Albuera and attacking as Beresford expected.
Deployment maps and OOB are given in the attached files, play sheets are included to make life easier…
There are some ‘special rules’ to cover interpretations of the terrain. Note that these are partly based on the terrain boards we used depending on how you choose to represent the battlefield you might want to changes/ignore some of these. In particular it would probably be better to extend the battlefield beyond what we represented to show the start of the wooded area North of Albuera and the rickety bridge thus avoiding the entry requirements for Hamilton. An additional scenario rule that potentially allows the bridge to be used might add a bit of flavour and may mean the Allied player deploys Collins to watch this flank as he did historically.
The Battle As We Played It At Albanich 2015
Some things in the photos that might need a little explanation…we use four 30mm x 30mm stands of 6 figs to represent an Infantry Battalion. Skirmishers (when deployed) are represented by an additional ‘skirmisher base’ that has a frontage of 60mm and 3 figs occasionally we will leave the skirmisher base on the table but move it to the rear of the battalion if they are not deployed, it depends on how much confusion there is at the time and what we think looks better at that point in time.
For light infantry we have an additional two skirmisher bases, sometimes modelled with 4 figs, when the entire Battalion adopts open order we deploy both of the skirmisher bases and remove two of the close order bases. To help us keep track of what is where…we tend to keep the four bases in base to base contact.
Cavalry Regiments are depicted using six 30mm x 30mm bases of 2 figs, that we like to field in two ranks to represent a Regiment in successive lines.
Initial Allied deployment:
Spanish on the left…
British in the centre and Hamilton’s Portuguese on the right.
Portuguese cavalry watching the river crossing.
Godinot’s division enters and begins to cross the bridge over the River Albuera. The 27th Chasseurs a Cheval and 4th Spanish Chasseurs à Cheval lead the way and guard the open ground to allow artillery to deploy in a forward position but receive the unwelcome attention of the KGL firing from the buildings of La Albuera . The long snake of infantry trudge along behind…
Meanwhile, to the South Latour-Maubourg’s cavalry division moves to seize the high ground on the open plain.
Godinot deploys light infantry to support his artillery but a surprise attack from the rash British cavalry sweep them from the field. The cavalry are then badly mauled and retreat back to the British camp where they spend the rest of the battle tending their blown mounts and injured troopers (missing photos due to the high level of excitement…). A gaping hole opens in the French front as their infantry desperately try to get over the bridge (repeated failed command rolls/blunders). British light troops (rifles) come forward to harass the deployed French artillery while the line infantry behind them struggles to get organised. (many failed command rolls…). A few Battalions (Werle) have made it to the high ground to the left of the artillery but the collapse of Godinot on their right and the long delay of Gazan to come into the action has made it impossible for them to attack.
On the French left flank… The cavalry division has entered and deployed in an orderly fashion in preparation to launch a sweeping attack on the weak Spanish flank of the Allied army. Another (Girard?) infantry division enters and moves to occupy the high ground to support the attack. It is looking like an unstoppable force is about to be unleashed and the Spanish commander is feeling decidedly nervous. His infantry even more so as they refuse to obey commands.
The French cavalry division sweeps down on the Spanish army… charging ahead of their supporting infantry that are still in March column
But the Spanish cavalry puts up a bravely counter charges (!) and despite heavy Spanish losses and the French successfully taking the high ground they have suffered greatly and the attack grinds to a halt (as the French desperately try to overcome disorder and rally key regiments to stop the division becoming broken…).
But the French cavalry attack opened the way for Werle to attack in the centre! The Spanish are teetering on the very brink of collapse but refuse to run and against the odds they hold back the surging French infantry inflicting casualties and sowing disorder in the French line.
Girard’s French infantry are struggling to keep pace with the ferocious cavalry attack and can’t deploy quickly enough to press home the fleeting advantage…(more failed command rolls, only getting the single free move for being in column of march).
Finally the British and Portuguese get into order and begin to advance on the French column that is struggling to get across the bridge and ford. Godinot’s division is on the brink of being broken as a Portuguese hammer approaches…
And that was as far as we got…always the way when trying to have a game at a show with so many shiny items on stands to browse rather than playing the game. It was fun though, even though I was umpiring rather than playing.
Dean and Bob were the French commanders of the day and they had a spectacular run of bad command rolls with entire divisions sitting stationary for turn after turn, except the French cavalry attack which surged forward at break-neck speed. The luck was not much better for Nigel, Brian (Spanish + British) and Chris (British + Portuguese) but at least it actually meant we had a game of it rather than them surging forward and crushing Godinot/Werle at the ford.
As usual Black Powder provides a nail biting game even if we didn’t get to a conclusion. It was looking very bad for the left flank of each army!
Finally…some months after we played this game I have got the time to update this post.
The basic scenario was a couple of inexperienced Soviet platoons racing to cut off the retreat of the remnants from a failed German attack that were trying to get back to their own lines. The terrain was an unfordable river with a single bridge that the Germans had to get over in order to return to the safety of their own lines. The remaining table was made up of forest. The forest was made up of impassable areas that blocked line of sight (thick clumps of trees, rocky outcrops, dense marsh….use your imagination!) and more open areas that did not hinder line of sight but provided concealing cover. We allowed infantry to move as normal but vehicles suffered a -D6″ on every move.
The Soviet forces:
SOVIET platoon 1 comprising of 5 units and given 7 red dice in the dice bag.
|PHQ||1 x Second Lt (+1 to orders), 1 x anti-tank rifle OR 1 x light mortar.||REGULAR|
|Infantry Section 1||7 x Rifle + LMG (8 figures in total).||INEXPERIENCED|
|Infantry Section 2||7 x Rifle + LMG (8 figures in total).||INEXPERIENCED|
|Infantry Section 3||8 x Rifle (8 figures in total).||INEXPERIENCED|
|Support||1 x Truck1 x Light Howitzer, 4 Crew||INEXPERIENCED|
SOVIET platoon 1 comprising of 5 units and given 7 dark brown dice in the dice bag.
|PHQ||1 x Second Lt (+1 to orders), 1 x anti-tank rifle OR 1 x light mortar.||REGULAR|
|Infantry Section 1||7 x Rifle + LMG (8 figures in total).||INEXPERIENCED|
|Infantry Section 2||7 x Rifle + LMG (8 figures in total).||INEXPERIENCED|
|Infantry Section 3||8 x Rifle (8 figures in total).||INEXPERIENCED|
|Support||1 x T-26||INEXPERIENCED|
Note: We gave the soviet player(s) a choice of either a light mortar or an anti-tank rifle as part of the PHQ. In this game these support weapons were an integral part of the PHQ, its not quite how they are used/chosen in the BA rule book, but that’s how we roll!
Also, notice that the two Soviet platoons have dedicated orders dice of a different colour. When I thought up this scenario it was designed as a three player with two Soviet players (any extra players above three would be German…).
The German Forces: 9 units, 15 dice in the bag (all the same colour).
|PHQ||1 x Major (+3 to orders)1 x anti-tank rifle
1 x light mortar.
|Infantry Section 1||1 x SMG, 5 x Rifle + LMG (7 figures in total).||REGULAR|
|Infantry Section 2||1 x SMG, 5 x Rifle + LMG (7 figures in total).||REGULAR|
|Infantry Section 3||1 x SMG, 5 x Rifle + LMG (7 figures in total).||REGULAR|
|Infantry Section 4||1 x SMG, 5 x Rifle + LMG (7 figures in total).||REGULAR|
|Support||1 x 80mm (Medium) Mortar||REGULAR|
|Support||1 x MG34 Team (MMG)||REGULAR|
|Support||1 x Panzer III (37mm)||REGULAR|
|Support||1 x Panzer III (37mm)||REGULAR|
German – 1) The units of the PHQ cannot be assigned to other units, you are too busy retreating… 2) No mortar spotter, open sights from the mortar team only.
Soviet – 1) Place one black dice in the orders bag. This represents a spotter from the pursuing Soviet force getting sight of one of the German units. A shot can be taken from any point on the Eastern table edge (the German starting edge). It counts as a light Howitzer, with range measured along the line of sight from the table edge. 2) Units from the PHQ can not be split from the PHQ. 3) Soviet platoons use different coloured orders dice to represent the lack of shared command control / radio.
No German units exit from the Western table edge and Soviets control the bridge at the end of the game = MAJOR SOVIET VICTORY
Destroy all German ‘support units’ = MINOR SOVIET VICTORY
Germans control bridge at the end of the game, less than four units exited = DRAW
Any 4 units exit the Western table edge = MINOR GERMAN VICTORY
MMG, Mortar and 2 x Panzer III exit the Western table edge = MAJOR GERMAN VICTORY
German units move on during their first activation from the centre of the Eastern table edge.
Soviet units move on from the North or South road ends in their first activation. Each platoon must enter entirely from one road end and they can not both enter from the same one.
If the first turn ends without all units entering, subsequent units enter as reserves (i.e. orders test at -1 to enter).
How it Played:
We have played this scenario twice now, these photos are from the first game but it has been too long and I can’t remember all the details of exactly what happened on each turn. You can get a basic gist of it from the photos though.
It was a Soviet white-wash. From what I remember Chris (Germans) brought his usual good fortune and Nigel’s (South edge Soviet with the Howitzer) inexperienced Soviets managed to decimate the Germans in fire fights. We named one of the Soviet units ‘the squirrel shooters’ as they were clearly all marksmen! The Soviet T-26 lumbered onto the table and spent a number of moves not quite sure where it could add any value. Eventually it rounded a clump of dense foliage to take a shot at a Panzer III and was promptly blown to pieces by the return shot. Meanwhile at the Southern end the other Panzer III was being repeatedly hit by the Soviet artillery, but being of WW1 vintage it could not penetrate the thick (relatively!) armour, the crew were getting mightily shaken-up though.
At the end of the game the Germans had been all but annihilated in the dense forest. Both tanks were still operational but the one in the South was badly shot-up…(pinned beyond being useful!). A resounding Soviet victory.
The second game we played was identical in every way except for the result. This time the Germans went all out for the bridge and (from what I remember) took control of it. The Soviets were then eliminated in detail. Notably the Soviet artillery was overrun in fairly short order!
If you have a go at this scenario let me know how you find it.
Well Chris finally got the opportunity to put his newly painted British Paras on the table.
The scenario was Chris’ invention based on one of the character miniatures he got from Artizan who is apparently a glider pilot that lead a mission to re-take a cross roads during Operation Market Garden. So the mission is for a reinforced platoon of British Paras to take a cross roads back from a platoon of German defenders and rescue the prisoners that were taken. You can read this AAR from Chris’ point of view on his blog here http://blog.cjsutherland.co.uk/aar-british-paras/ A few more photos too.
So here is the initial table set-up.
Para deployment. From the glider…MMG, light howitzer, sniper,PIAT, squad with 3 SMG, Bren and 4 rifles, Command section, Cromwell, Arty spotter, Spotter for the 75mm Howitzer, squad with 3 SMG, Bren and 4 rifles, medical team. All veteran except for the Cromwell which was regular.
Initial German deployment. Squad of 2 SMG, LMG, 7 Rifle including a couple of panzerfaust. Sdkfz 251/1 with a panzerschreck team in it. Marder III. Medium mortar with spotter in the church tower (where else??). Command squad in the building with grey roof. British prisoners in the small ruin. Sdkfz 222. Squad of 2 SMG, LMG, 7 Rifle including a couple of panzerfaust. Panzerschreck team, MMG team.
Off table reserve of Squad of 2 SMG, LMG, 7 Rifle including a couple of panzerfaust in an opel blitz truck.
All German forces were regular and began deployed behind the road.
Turn 1 the Para’s do a general advance on their left flank whilst on the right the MMG and sniper adopt a defensive line against the hedgerow.
While the Germans advance to the hede row and occupy the buildings on the opopsite side of the road.
The British MMG makes a run for the apex of the next field to bring the German squad into line of sight. We were playing that two obstacles in the line of fire blocked line of sight so from the initial position they had a very poor LOS. The german half-track was moving to cover the open ground on the flank of the hedge line.
The halftrack gets round the corner and shoots up the MMG team. The PIAT then jumps over the hedge and launches a bomb at the halftrack which miraculously misses. The sniper gets a pin on it though.
The German MMG sets up in the corner of the wheatfield on the German right flank to cover all the open ground in front of the buildings.
The Marder sneaks around the corner of the buildings and takes a pot shot at the Cromwell. The Cromwell is destroyed with the first hit! The orange marker beside the MArder is marking where the Artillery spotter is ranging the big guns in…
German re-inforcements arrive in their truck.
At this point, which was about turn 4 or 5 the excitement got too much and I stopped taking pictures! But the rest of the game went like this:
On the German left flank the PIAT knocked out the halftrack before it could do anymore damage to the MMG team, and destroyed the panzerschreck team at the same time. However, spotting a weak point in the line and with the Cromwell destroyed the Sdkfz 222 made a run right accross the table and took up the same position vacated by the recently exploded halftrack. A bit of duel broke out between the PIAT and the 20mm cannon which eventually ended up with the PIAT team destroyed. All this time the MMG team had repeatedly failed to act but had managed to cause a few cassualties to the German squad defending the hedge row. The British light howitzer was being spoiled for choice of targets and after launching a few shots at the Marder changed targets to the Sdkfz222. Two direct hits bounced off! and one deviated onto the German squad at the hedge causing a few casualties. (We use house rules that allow indirect fire to deviate!).
In the German centre the Marder achieved very little before the British off-table artillery arrived. The explosions were terrific but luckily the fire was well spread (12″radius…) and none of the German squads actually got hit although everything was severley pinned including the Marder which took 5 pins! The Paras had been too cautious up to this point and were luckily (for the Germans) too far away to really take advantage of almost all the German squads/teams being severly pinned. Eventually one of the Para squads managed to get to the hedge row opposite the defending German squad which was by now quite depleted and severly pinned still from the off table artillery having not managed to shake pins off any quicker than the MMG was replacing them. However, the german Mortar got lucky and landed a couple of hits on the Paras giving them 4 pins (over a couple of turns) and reducing them to 4 men. At this point the NCO decided enough was enough and led them in a charge accross the wheat field that destroyed the opposing Germans in hand to hand for the loss of another two of the good guys.
On the German right flank the MMG had set up in a perfect position to cover the open ground and the main squad had occupied the dominating building. From here the squad poured fire into the British Para squad huddled behind the hedge at long range. They managed to keep the pin markers on the Paras but couldn’t manage to cause cassualties until…the off table artillery pinned the squad to the point of being useless. At this point the British rushed forward to the next hedge line. In the meantime the German reinforcements had driven over to the MMG and debussed along the same hedgerow. The MMG finally came off ambush orders and started laying fire into the Paras that had just occupied the nearby hedge, assisted by the squad newly deployed beside them. Fire was pasingly effective and caused only one British casualty.
And then night fell…and everyone stopped fighting and made a nice cup of tea!
The hands of the gods decended upon the battlefield and the scenery was removed before any photos of the end poisitions could be taken.
The game ended with British casualties: the PIAT team, Cromwell were destroyed and one squad reduced to two men. On the German side one squad, halftrack, panzerschreck team had been destroyed. Another squad and the Marder were severley pinned almost to the point of being useless and a few other casualties had been suffered. It was a German victory due to the failure of the British to rescue the prisoners but it was a nearer run thing than it first appeared. There was little to stop the second squad of Paras from assaulting the German squads and the German left flank was wide open. I think we all knew that the survivability of the Marder would be low once they got among the buildings and the Mortar would have been useless due to its minimum effective range.
All in all a good fun game.
Thanks to Ron and Rick – the Paras, Herr Nigel – the other German player and of course Chris who put the scenario together and then gratiously let somebody else take control of his Paras on their very first outing! Such consideration for other is to be praised…I wouldn’t have 🙂
Well…we won ‘best in show’ for our demo game of the first day of operation Barbarrossa depicting an assault over the Bug River in the vicinity of Patulin and Matykaly, North of Brest.
Chris has done a great detailed After Action Report on his blog so here is a link:
Extra to that here are some photos that I took (much better photos on Chris’ blog though).
German + Russian OOB:Bug River Scenario
Opening dispositions from the Russian end, a bit difficult to see much on the photo though…
A shot of the initial Russian emplacements showing the long line of barbed wire and a few suspicious breaks in the wire…
Initial German deployment…or at least part of it, the tauch panzers had not been placed yet. Notice the engineers with the pontoon bridge and the emplaced 150mm Artillery (bane of my life in this game) behind them.
After the first couple of turns, from the Russian end. Germans have had an opening barage which hit all Russian squads on the ‘second’ board and provided quite a lot of pin markers, they also laid a few rather annoying smoke screens. The sharp eyed will also notice that the barage appears to have created some ‘rough ground’ at various points. Actually Nigel forgot to mention he had brought it, and then I spotted it in a box under the table. So shortly after the first turn a few areas of ‘concealing’ rough ground appeared. We allowed line of sight over/through these but applied a -1 to hit modifier. It also counted as rough ground.
Closer shot of the German infantry getting into boats and the first tauchpanzer dipping its tracks in the water…the other is lurking behind the wood in the centre. Engineers have got to the bank of the river and start building the pontoon, which all going well will take them four turns.
First section of the pontoon bridge is up…first boat hits the opposite bank! Russians are rather annoyed by the smoke which prevents any of the Germans being visible.
Second sectionof pontoon bridge built, tauch panzers nearing the opposite bank and second wave of infantry climbing into boats.
A few turns later…the pontoon bridge is up. All the smoke blew away but they just layed more…An advance German squad was in an unfortunate position when the smoke blew away and has been hit quite a few times, no cassualties to speak of but pin markers are starting to mount! The far tauchpanzer has been spanked! but the Russian rounds just bounced off. Still it gave the crew a bit of a shock and they retired back to cover at the river bank. In the second photo, the plume of grey smoke by the river bank shows where a German squad was anihilated by a Russian mortar.
German reinforcements are coming on thick and fast. Here they are building up a grand battery on their side of the river. Medium mortar plus two 75mm infantry guns (light howitzers). It will be several turns before the NKVD border guards in the bunker realise this lot is all in range of their MMG. In the meantime the Russian mortars can only reach the middle of the river…notice the mortar shell splash, which gives the Germans a secure base for indirect fire support of the attack. Unseen by the Russians, the spotter for the 150mm artillery is lurking in the woods.
And then the smoke all blew away again!
And the advanced German squad got hammered…but they were doing a good job of keeping their heads down and avoided taking many casualties.
And after a few more turns the game came to an end…
The positions at the end of the game:
German armour had surged forward and the Panzer III headed for the break in the wire, only to discover it was a minefield! A carefully placed Russian teller-mine managed to seriously damage the tank and it was out of action. The Germans had finally managed to storm and take the first line of Russian trenches. They actually did this with very little casualties but were then exposed to fire from the second line which was begining to take its toll.
More German armour (two Panzer IV/D) was making its way over the bridge supported by a squad of infantry in an armoured half-track (sdkfz 251/1)
On the German left (Russian right) an infantry squad had finally managed to storm the hill and take out the Russian mortar spotters.
On the Russian left a T-26 had rushed out from Brest and positioned itself behind the second line of defence to lend some fire support. Unfortunately the thin armour was no match for the penetration of the German guns and it was soon on-fire. The crew managed to put the fire out before the tank was put out of action but they were effectively rendered ineffective due to the number of hits and pins they had received.
The Russian anti-tank battery had done a stirling job all battle and repeatedly hit the advancing German tanks, but failed to penetrate…
A Russian T-28 had managed to get onto the field and was putting heavy pressure on the German infantry and light tanks….
The Russians attempted to capitalise on this but only suceeded in drawing the attention of the spotter for the 150mm artillery which promptly destroyed the other T-28 as it emerged from the village of Matykaly…
The Germans launche a bold move in an attempt to grab some land with a half-track containing an infantry squad. HMG fire disabled the halftrack forcing the infantry to dismount. Seeing this the NKVD stormed out of their bunker and assaulted the bewildered German squad which after a sound thrashing made a run for it back to their own lines (thats them beside the T-26 turret), and the NKVD consolidated back into the safety of their bunker.
The T-26 turret took a hamering in the battle but somehow repeatedly survived penetrating hits! It may have been the most effective unit on the Russian side.
This would have been a better battle report if I had taken more photos but it was a great fun game and I was just too carried away to remember the camera. However, hopefully this gives you a summary and an overview of how the game went, and you can look on Chris’ blog for better pictures and more detailed narrative (link at the top of this post).
Many thanks to Nigel the (almost) impartial umpire who went distinctly German after lunch…just what was in that sandwhich?
Also to Graham and Chris the German players.
And a special thanks to Comrade Brian helping me stem the advancing hoarde.
Tonight we had a crack at a Bolt Action scenario to test out how some of our solutions to various mechanics we don’t like will work in the big game at Dumfries in a few days time. Specifically we were testing out the house rules for barbed wire and dug-in troops versus indirect artillery.
Here is the scenario: Scenario for BA This is entirely made up but it could have happened…
If you are into points, and we are not…then I think this works out at a little over 2:1 in favour of the Germans, but of course in a game like this half the advantage is related to the terrain and the Russians also had the advantage of being dug-in which is worth ??? points?
Anyway, on to the game:
The first couple of turns were uneventful with the Germans moving onto the board although only a few units managed to get on the board in the first turn, and the first Russian T-26 turned up on turn 2!
The first photo is the position at the end of turn 2. You can see the layout of the Russian defences and the Bunker.
Hard to make out on the photo now it is compressed but the German infantry platoons have moved cautiously to the edge of the woods. The infantry gun has rolled on and immediately deployed on the road and ananti-tank rifle has taken a shot at the T-26 (on the right hand edge of the table) and managed to fail to penetrate, so it has a pin marker. One section of German infantry ran forward out of the woods and got stonked by the Russain mortar, several casualties and 2 pin markers. The majority of the Russian units have taken up ‘Ambush’ orders.
Turn 3 was over pretty swiftly with the ‘end of turn’ dice being pulled out early on. Not much has changed from Turn 2 except…possibly the most significant event of the battle. The german infantry gun had set-up on the road but before it could get to act it was stonked by the Russian mortar, over half of the crew were killed and the remaining crew member decided he had had enough and ran for it. Later in the move the German Medium Mortar moved on table and set-up in the same place the infantry gun had just vacated – presumably taking advantage of the fact shells dont hit the same place twice..??!!
End of Turn 3 from the German end…
End of turn 4, with eager arms retrieving orders dice…the German players are keen to get on with the advance! During this turn the German infantry started to pour out of the woods. The T-26 was just a little too far away to be assaulted and the anti-tank rifle gunner could not hit the target! The German mortar attempted to lay smoke to block the Russian MMG field of fire on the Russian Left, but the shot deviated and landed directly on top of the Russian anti-tank gun!
End of turn 5… The German advance continued, they had decided to adopt zerg tactics! The pesky T-26 continued to elude the anti-tank rifle and shot-up the infantry section in front of it. Seeing this was more than the Platoon commander could bear and he stormed forward and put a grenade in the turret! Apparently “that is how you deal with a Russian bag of bolts”. More smoke was laid by the German mortar but it just would not land on target. The Russian mortar managed to drop a shot in the middle of nowhere – you can see the splash behind the advancing German infantry.
End of Turn 6…Continuing the push forward. The Russian mortar obliterates the platoon command of the German left whilst the infantry close on the Russian trenches and wire.
End of Turn 7. German smoke has been placed around the Russian slit trench whilst an assault goes in on the other trench. The barbed wire prevents an actual assault this turn but the German infantry struggles accross the wire whilst underfire and pours close range fire into the Russian trench. The Russians take over 50% casualties, have had enough and run for it. Leaving the trench empty… On the other side the NKVD manned MMG is proving to be woefully inaccurate and the German infantry is pushing forward with little casualties.
End of Turn 8…the German left has taken the trenches on the Russian right but at what cost! All the smoke blew away just before the assaults went in which left the German platoon to be cut to ribbons. The few survivors managed to take the remaining Russian trench in bloody and desperate hand to hand fighting, but the German platoon is all but wiped out!
Meanwhile accross the other side of the battlefield the lead German platoon assaults the NKVD MMG position and is beaten off after two rounds of hand to hand combat. The MMG crew lost one member in the struggle over their position but the sharpened shovel of the gunner managed to dispatch three of the five attacking infantry and send them scurrying back to Berlin. At last the Panzer IV arrived and stormed onto the battlefield at full speed! The Geman company HQ volkswagen was targetted by the Russian mortar crew but despite a direct hit no damage was suffered! The round passing halmlessly through the soft top and exploding away from the vehicle, however the debris from the explosion spatted back over the car and 2 pins were sustained!
Turn 9.. The second T-26 arrived on the battlefield. The German anti-tank gunner immediately set off towards it to redeem his earlier poor performance and managed to score a glancing hit that passed right through but without causing any significant damage. The T-26 crew retaliated by gunning down the anti-tank rifle loader! The Panzer IV commander saw an easy kill and forsaking the infantry in dire need of his help, turned his turret to take on the T-26. A direct hit was scored but the round bounced harmlessly off the T-26 turret, although the impact had seriously shaken up the crew (2 pin markers).
Final Turn…in the last turn the German Mortar tried to drop a smoke round to obscure the advaning infantry on the German Right flank. As usual the smoke did not land on target. The T-26 managed to destroy the anti-tank rifle crew but was then knocked out by a direct hit from the Panzer IV.
The Game ended with the Bunker still in Russian hands and severe casualties had been dealt to the attacking Germans (over 50%) but the German armour was still intact, so it was in the end a Russian minor victory. The Germans tactic of a zerg like rush to the objective had carried the Russian trenches but at such a high cost the attack completely stalled. No doubt if the infantry gun from the support company had been able to lend a hand it would have managed to pin some of the Russians in the trenches and with the reductionin effective fire perhaps the German attack could have penetrated all the way to the bunker.
A lesson in the requirement for fire support when attacking perhaps?
And here are the Russian survivors celebrating outside the bunker…
Thanks to the soon to be promoted Comrade Ron and Comrade Nigel – the Russians.
And to Chris and Graham – the Germans.
Also to Rick for pulling the order dice out of the bag!