Thursday, 28 November 2019

Chain of Command Axis and Allies

Some more additions to my 28mm WW2 collection picked up at SELWG and Warfare recently.

Firstly a downed German aircrew from Wargames Foundry:

Must admit I'm a bit disappointed how these came out, they are nice figures but for some reason just don't look 'right', maybe the colours are a bit off. It's a shame they didn't do a U-Boat crew as well to fit in with the 'Dad's Army' theme.

Next in a similar theme some more Home Guard, again from Wargames Foundry:

These add some more infantry and heavy weapons in the form of a Vickers MG, a Lewis gun and a BAR so I almost have enough for a full platoon of Home Guard now (and could just use some of the BEF to make up the numbers). The female figure is meant to be Mrs Fox from Dad's Army I think.

Having bought a fair bit of armour for the Germans, Americans and Russians I thought I should add to the lone Matilda for the British and bought a Vickers VB tank from 1st Corps. It is a resin model and is nicely done:

They also do a Matilda 1 which looked great so I may be tempted by that sooner or later!

For the Americans we have an M4 half-track:

This one is a Rubicon Models version, rather like the German Hanomag it is an iconic WW2 vehicle. No opportunity to use it in "29 Let's Go!" but hopefully it will get on table in the future.

Finally I picked up a Warlord Soviet Naval squad from the Bring and Buy at Warfare for a very reasonable £7:

The Russians are still my favorite CoC army and I expect eventually a third squad of sailors and some command will be added to make a full Naval platoon.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Chain of Command "29 Let's Go!" Turn 4, scenario 3 "Flanking St Germain Du Pert"

After driving the Germans off from Arthenay in the previous game the Americans found themselves making a flank attack on St Germain Du Pert. The Germans, commanded by Gary as ever, have a fresh platoon for this game plus two supporting Marders. The Americans have a fresh platoon and 19 support points which have to include two Sherman's. The remaining 7 points were spent on another Sherman and extra BAR's all-round.

The table was another tough one for the Americans with the Germans defending several houses and a church with a number of stone walls to hide behind. The Americans have little cover to deploy behind and the tanks have to arrive on the road where it will be hard to support or be supported by the infantry:

None of our group had a church. I looked to buy one at Warfare but couldn't find a suitably sized one so Gary said he would think about building one. After only a week this is what he produced, amazing as ever!:

A US squad deploys behind the hedges at the back of the table on over-watch:

The first of the Sherman's arrives and also goes on over-watch:

The Germans respond by bringing both Marders on. One of them is disguised cunningly as a Panzer II but is, in fact, a Marder. Is there no end to these shabby Nazi tricks?!:

A second US squad deploys nearer the village. This proves to have been a mistake as they immediately come under fire from the Marders:

The troop command Sherman joins the lead Sherman. The Sherman's and the Marder's can't see each other and neither seem keen to let the opposition have the first shot!:

Having been on the receiving end of numerous panzerschrek and panzerfaust disasters earlier in the campaign the Americans try to take advantage of their own bazooka team and, having a double phase, open fire on the nearest Marder. They miss. In the second phase they fail to activate and are left isolated in the open. Oh dear:

The Marder fails to machine-gun the bazooka team so a German squad deploys behind the house and guns them down:

The third Sherman has arrived. The Americans are finding it hard to come up with a plan of attack and so decide to push all the Sherman's forward and hope for the best. The difficulty of achieving mutual support for the American armour and infantry is very apparent:

One Sherman is brewed up by an ambushing Panzerfaust team. The troop commander attempts to cut down the ambushing team but even with a heavy machine gun at close range against two men in the open manages only one ineffective shock on the Germans:

American force morale is dropping quickly while the Germans have lost nothing. The Sherman troop commander fires at the Marder on the road. It misses!:

Having gone this far it seems pointless to stop now and the Sherman's plough forward. One of them manages to hit and destroy the Marder on the road so at least that won't be available for the next game!

A panzerfaust team, a panzershreck team and the remaining Marder all fire at the lead Sherman. The infantry all miss but the Marder hits and wrecks the troop commander. The Americans are down to a single command dice now!

The surviving Sherman surprisingly fights on and even manages to hit the Marder. Unfortunately it does not destroy it:

In an attempt to cause a few more casualties before inevitable defeat the final US squad deploys in the open and fires on the Germans hiding behind the house. They kill a couple but are shot to bits by the return German fire ending the game:

I don't think I made many wise choices in this game. Deploying the bazooka team in the open with no support was a big gamble that didn't pay off and previous experience should have told me that charging forward with the tanks would end in disaster against the man portable German AT ability, let alone the Marder's.

Having said that it's hard to see a viable plan, ideally I'd want the Sherman's on the left behind the hedges to support the infantry who could then mount an attack on the houses. The big problem with that is they would have to expose their flanks to the Marder's and Panzerschrek while trying to get there. The other option would be to deploy the infantry in the open with the tanks on the road and attack the church but with the Germans in hard cover either in the church or behind the stone walls I don't see that going well.

The Americans will try again on Thursday. At least this time I'll only have to face one Marder having destroyed the other one (which was my minimum aim in this game: ideally win, next best destroy both Marder's, at worst destroy one!).

The pressure will be on the Americans though as they can't afford to lose another game in the campaign with three tables still to clear.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Bataille Empire Austrians v Italians

Gordon and I played our first game of the much-anticipated "Bataille Empire" rules (by the author of ADLG) last night. I used 1813-14 Austrians while Gordon chose the 1809 Italian list.

BE has a much more comprehensive set-up than ADLG and we ended up with an 'encounter' battle in which both sides started with one Division on table and the other two arriving on turns 2 and 3. The terrain seemed a bit crowded and both sides set up on the same side of the table, the Austrians leading with their advanced guard while the Italians chose their Guard to lead the battle:

BE has an order system, unfortunately for the Italians their 'hold' order didn't allow them to advance to the objective hill in the middle of the table so the Austrians (on "engage") stormed forwards with their cavalry division arriving in support:

The Italian commander tries and fails to change the Guard's orders so they are stuck in place. The Austrians take the hill and open fire on the Italian Guards:

The last lot of reinforcements are now on table, the Austrian advance guard looks vulnerable but has been inflicting damage on the Italian Guard who are not standing up well to Austrian fire:

One Italian Guard unit retreats under fire while the second is wavering. The Italian cavalry can't get into contact as their infantry are in the way:

The Austrian Grenzers and Jaegers keep up their fire and are winning the firefight:

One Italian Guard unit breaks and the Italian's French allies come under fire:

The Italian Dragoons finally charge the Grenzers. Despite only narrowly losing the combat the Grenzers flee. The Dragoons pursue into the Jaegers but the steadfast Jaegers throw them back:

The Austrian Hussars charge a disordered square of French infantry and wipe it out. Both sides agree to call it a day at this point with the Austrians in a good position:

So, what did I think about BE? Firstly, it is nothing like ADLG (apparently it is based on Principles of War).

The rules are not well-written with a number of issues either not covered or hard to find and, to me, overly complex (for example there are three different types of fields in the terrain list: open, enclosed by hedges and enclosed by walls).

There is a LOT of book-keeping with orders, cohesion losses, attrition losses, disorder markers and action markers to keep track of plus a rather complicated activation system depending on a Division's orders combined with the possibility of opportunity fire and charges from the non-active player. The movement distances don't really seem to suit the table size and the terrain really clutters the battlefield (though we may not have used the right sized terrain).

As regards how it works it would seem that any formation other than Line seems a bit pointless for the infantry, the cavalry is very powerful against the infantry especially if the infantry can be disordered by support fire from an artillery battery and it is hard to rally anyone.

We spent a lot of time poring over the rules and it certainly isn't something you can pick up quickly (unlike ADLG, Blucher or Fire and Fury for example). I suspect there will be an awful lot of amendments and clarifications.

Rather like FoGN there may be a good game in there somewhere but personally I prefer the more abstract rule sets like Blucher or Fire and Fury where you concentrate on the big picture not the minor details.

Given the popularity of ADLG at my club and the enthusiasm with which BE was purchased by club members it will be interesting to see how many people actually take it up.

I tend to find with new rules or a new period after the first game I'm either keen to play again and read the rules to understand things I wasn't clear about or I get the feeling that the rules/period are not for me. In the case of BE I suspect it will be the latter especially as even Gordon, who is a rules-demon and is great at picking up and understanding rule sets, struggled badly with them!

Friday, 15 November 2019

Chain of Command "30 days to Dunkirk" Game 4 "Attack at Essar's"

Dave and I played the fourth game in Jerry's PSC last night with Jerry umpiring. I took the Germans again and was tasked with attacking the village of Essars in an attack and defend scenario.

For the first time in the campaign the Germans had access to the mighty 7th Division Schutzen Platoon which has one LMG per team giving them fearsome firepower so I chose to take them as a fresh platoon. I rolled better on the support as well, selecting a Panzer IV, preliminary bombardment, Shabby Nazi 5th Columnist, Shabby Nazi sniper and a Sdkfz 251 for one squad of the platoon.

The Irish only had a starting force morale of 8 while the Germans ended up with 10 so it was going to be a tough task for Dave to withstand the German onslaught.

Jump off points ended up pretty much as expected:

The Germans began by positioning one squad behind the hedge opposite the farm and bringing on the Panzer IV with both going on over-watch:

The Irish were finding it hard to deploy through the bombardment with a single section managing to make it through and deploy in the farm:

Irish attempts to deploy into the woods next to the farm were hindered by a very persuasive nun telling them their were orphans in a church nearby that needed saving. The Irish were easily persuaded by the large, stubble-chinned nun and didn't arrive:

The mortar team and the Feldwebel join the squad behind the hedge and exchange fire with the Irish in the farmhouse. Superior firepower and support from the Panzer IV quickly cut the Irish down despite them being in hard cover:

The Panzer IV advances along the road, expecting an Irish AT gun to pop up at any moment. The Shabby Nazi sniper can be seen in the background lurking in the woods:

The AT gun appears and fires at the Panzer IV hitting, dazing the gunner for a phase and inflicting some shock on the tank. Return fire from the tank and German section on over-watch nearby kill a couple of the crew in return:

The Panzer IV is hit again but to little effect. It races off the road out of sight of the AT gun:

The Irish finally see through the Nazi nun disguise and dispose of 'her':

Now the Germans know were the British AT gun is the Hannomag arrives on the other road with the final German squad:

The Irish deploy in the woods now the nun has been dealt with. They don't seem keen to advance though.....

Another German squad and the Leutnant deploy on the left to push forward and threaten the AT gun and a mortar team. The mortar team is quickly cut down reducing Irish force morale further:

The Leutnant leads his men forwards with the Hannomag in support:

The squad reaches the hedge line and the Panzer IV and Hannomag move up. The Irish deploy a section in entrenchments to try to stave off this attack:

Again overwhelming German firepower obliterates the British even though they are entrenched:

Irish force morale collapses and they are forced to withdraw:

As I suspected a tough game for Dave, the British list is considerably worse than the German Schutzen one and with a patient approach (learned in part from my last couple of games against Gary!) the Germans can set up fire support, flush the British out and then kill them with superior firepower especially when you add in the barrage and shabby Nazi tricks.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Chain of Command "29 Let's Go!" campaign game 3

Having driven Gary's Germans from La Cambe in the last game the next objective for the Americans was to capture Arthenay where the Germans were attempting a delaying action.

Looking at the map the Germans had an orchard and a few buildings they could occupy in the centre of the table while the Americans could form a strong firing line behind the hedges near their table edge. Having gained some painful experience in the first two games I decided not to go with three Shermans this time and took a single Sherman, a .50 caliber HMG, a 60 mm mortar, a flamethrower team and a medic for my support options.

The plan was to form a strong firing line on over-watch then use scout teams to force the Germans to deploy and hit them with the maximum amount of firepower.

The battlefield:

One US squad deploys on over-watch on the right while a second deploys in the centre:

The 60 mm mortar joins the squad on the right while the Sherman appears. Everyone is on over-watch now waiting for the Germans to appear:

Germans in the orchard! They open up on the US squad opposite and cause some casualties. However, the Americans on over-watch return fire and cause several hits on the Germans:

The Germans in the orchard scuttle back unwilling to face the heavy US firepower. A second German squad deploys in the walled enclosure to support the first squad:

The HMG appears to support the US squad on the right. Fire is concentrated on the Germans in the walled enclosure:

The Germans take an absolute pasting with eight out of ten being killed including the corporal!:

The Germans launch an ambush attempting to catch the third US squad which has deployed on the left in the open. The German fire has little effect while American retaliation from units on over-watch cuts down the ambushing LMG team. German morale is falling fast:

A German sniper has been targeting the HMG crew, the US squad in the centre attempts to spot him but fails:

The third US squad reaches the forward hedgerow on the left flank:

A Pak 75 deploys and takes a shot at the Sherman. It misses! The Germans then fire an off-table Marder at the Sherman which hits, immobilizing the tank and putting some shock on it. Again having units on over-watch pays off for the Americans with the gun crew taking casualties and a load of shock from return fire:

More fire from the US HMG sees the German gun crew fleeing through the town with the remnants of their infantry:

The victorious Americans advance to take the village while the Germans withdraw after heavy losses:

So Colonel Goode's opinion goes back to 'Worried' and the campaign moves on to the next scenario, flanking St Germain-du-Pert where the Germans will have a fresh platoon. The one that fought the first three games will be a whole squad down if it is used again.

I think I applied the lessons I learned from the first two games well in this one. Taking the HMG and mortar rather than the three Shermans was a better choice and I defended the Sherman from ambushes much better than before. I used all the firepower I had to demolish any Germans that appeared. Probably a sniper would have been a better choice than the flamethrower.

Looking forward to game 4, Gary gains two Marders in that game so my bazooka team which has not made an appearance yet might get into action!