Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cold War 1986 British Vs Pact first game (using Tank Wreck)

Introduction
When 15, a friend and I in 1980 got a little interested in playing with modern forces.  My interest was from this book that I read a lot (and still have), even though it was a reference book:


I ordered some 6mm British, he ordered some Soviets.  We both painted up some forces and played a few games.  And that was that.  My Chieftains and FV432s have been stored away since 1981. Internet mate Just Jack recently shamed me in that these figures had lain unplayed for 35 years. It was just wrong.  I put some searches into eBay and waited for some reasonable minis.  Eventually I acquired some Soviet enemies, and some British infantry as the 6 stands I had really show they were my first 6mm paint job - shocking!

Some of the Chieftains I painted when I was 15. My first outing in 6mm,
Rules
I have various rules for Cold War (there may be more):
  • WRG 1950-1985: The ones I played with, twice I think, back in 1981 or 1982.
  • TankWreck!: acquired this about 5 years ago to see if I could use them for WW2.  Seem fast and fun
  • Challenger: Acquired these in 1990 while in the UK. 
  • Close and Destroy: 1:1 modern rules that seem fine
  • Third Generation Warfare: 1:1 rules
  • FiveCore company command: I like these, got them for WW2 but would fine with modern
  • Dunn Kempf Training rules: The US military rules used for training (a streamlined version of WRG 1950-1975)
  • Contact!: The Canadian military rules used for training loosely based on WRG 1950-1975.
  • Irregular Miniatures Mechanised Warfare Rules: Too simple and no command and control.
I chose for my first game…TankWreck! It will not strain the brain, fast,looks like it will work with small forces on the table but provide the feel of long range tank battles and hard to kill infantry in Europe in the 1980s.  We shall see.  My close runners-up were Dunn Kempf and FiveCore.
TankWreck! is by Martin Bourne who also wrote ShipWreck!.  Not much out there as a review, other than the short TMP topic.  There is a yahoo group with QRS and more vehicle info than in the rules.

I will be playing on my small board in the map drawer (as usual) and will convert inches to cm.  If I have to, I will double the move of infantry (the rules have them quite slow compared to other Cold War rules). I say if I have too, as mostly infantry will be mechanised.

Scenario
I was feeling lazy and so just looked for some small cold war scenarios.  Could not find many, but have gone with heavily modifying the first scenario in the Force on Force First Clash - a Cold War Gone Hot Campaign (I downloaded a copy via the Guild).  Changed Canadian to British and upscaled the infantry.

A force of British infantry guard a village with armour support on rear hill. More armour is expected as re-inforcements.  Soviet armour and mech infantry objective is to take the village and hill in ten turns. Victory points are obtained by causing casualties and taking objectives.

The table with starting positions marked.
Troops
Soviets (start offboard)

4 T-80s
6 BTR80 each with infantry stands (in two companies)
BRDM2 artillery observer
2 offboard heavy mortars

British

(in village)
8 infantry stands (in two companies)
6 FV432 (part of above companies)
2 FVV432 with Wombat (part of above companies)
Landrover with artillery observer stand
(on ridge)  
2 Chieftains (one company)
(reinforcements on beginning of turn when d10 <= turn number)
2 Chieftains (one company)
(artillery)
2 offboard 81mm mortars

Deployment
British infantry in the village, chieftains and artillery observer on the ridge.  Artillery will be placed at the edge of each respective edge but is only there so I remember about it!  They are really both off-board.

British deployment - Chieftains and Artillery observer on the hill, infantry in the village.  The infantry are actually in the building if they are behind it.
Game
TankWreck uses an opposed roll to determine initiative at the start of a turn.  Players take turns activating companies. Units either fire, or move and fire, or call artillery (if they can), go on reserve (aka opportunity fire), or do nothing.  For the first turn, I just moved on the Soviets and assumed the British would be on reserve fire.  The range is quite long to hit anyone.

The Soviets enter.  Tanks in front, BTRs to the rear. I used this formation as Phil Barker wrote about in in the back of the WRG 1950-1985 :-)
The T80s continue to move,the Chieftains fire and miss. Russian observer call artillery on the left of village. The BTR80s move on the left flank and dismounts infantry.  No casualties on either side anywhere.

View from the British side.  The Russians continue to advance.  The BTRs to the centre and right in this picture dismount their infantry.
The BTRs move closer to the British infantry.  It is really hard to kill infantry unless you are within 5.  All infantry dismounts close to the enemy.  Chieftains miss again.  All infantry fire misses.  All artillery misses.  I think I rolled about 50% 10s! (Low rolling is good in this game). Very poor rolling by both sides.  But that means the next turn may be better. Oh, and the end of turn roll for the Chieftain reinforcements is a success.

Soviets dismount the infantry into the village. One way to tell the difference in infantry is the Soviets have some green flock on the base, the British do not.
One British infantry stand is destroyed.

 A different view after one British infantry base destroyed. The right half of the British infantry are broken.
The British second company has 3 elements suppressed and at the end of turn the company in the main village rolls badly for morale and is broken (will run away next turn).

The Chieftains on the hill.
TankWreck! uses a to hit (on a d10) followed by a to kill (on a d10).  There are no spotting rules, this being taken into account with the to hill probabilities.  The rules had suppression occur if the to kill roll was two more than required.  I was playing with the revised QRS from the yahoo group where if a unit is hit it is suppressed (similar to the early WRG WW2 rules).

Two T80s are hit - one suppressed and the other destroyed.  The morale test at the end of the turn sees all company suppressed. The Russians wanted to lay smoke in front of chieftains but failed the radio roll.

The chaos that is the village.  The retreating British infantry can be seen at the top left and a destroyed T80 top right.
The British first company infantry is still in village, while the second company is broken and running.  No other damage anywhere.  The Soviet mortars successfully lays smoke in front of a Chieftain.

Note: I have been taking off the FV432s as I assumed they were not needed as they have no armament.  I should not have.  Retreating infantry would have boarded the carriers rather than run.  It is a learning game after all.

Successful smoke in front of a Chieftain. British infantry still retreating
Turn 7 was a death turn.  The broken British infantry company continued to retreat but recovers at the end of the turn.  The other British company had its two remaining infantry units destroyed.  Another T80 destroyed. The Soviet infantry unit loads up onto the BTRs.

Some Soviet Infantry has loaded up in the BTRs and is heading for the retreating British infantry.
The Soviets control the village.

The village is now under Soviet control.
Next turn the remaining British company have some units suppressed.  The Chieftains change targets to fire on the BTR80s and destroy two of them.   I am not sure that the Russians can take the ridge in the two remaining turns.  Note the other Russian infantry in the village did not move in case the (formerly retreating) British infantry made a counter attack.


The British infantry (the 4 bases in the centre) surrounded by Soviets (flock on bases).  But two BTRs are destroyed by Chieftain fire from the hill.
And then we have another death round.  I think it is because the vehicles are decent tank range (less than 20 the to hit is about 3 or 4, not much but twice as many hits as when the chance was a 1 or 2 when further out). The Russians unload the infantry to attack the British infantry for no damage but the British infantry manage to kill a Russian infantry unit. In a big break for the Russians, a T-80 manages to KO a Chieftain.

One Chieftain on the hill KO'd (centre top).. Lots of smoke around ! 
Another Chieftain down (two gone). but another Russian infantry stand is destroyed and the unit breaks.

Followed shortly after by another Chieftain destroyed.
The Chieftains destroy another two BTRs.

While one British infantry base is destroyed, the Chieftains destroy another two BTRs.
The last turn and the Soviets cannot take the ridge and the British cannot retake the village.  But there are victory points to be had for destruction.  The only KO is a Russian infantry stand that then also causes the already broken unit to break again and so is routed.  It was only one infantry stand left anyway.

One Soviet infantry company broekn and routed.  The BTRs of that company are all destroyed so stay on the table...
And the game ends.

Game ends.  Remaining British forces circled in red.  2 Chieftains, artillery observer and part of an infantry company.
Victory points
Soviets: 20
killed 5 infantry (+5), say 4 APC even though I took them off (+8), 2 tanks (+6)+village(+2)
British: 17
killed 3 infantry (+3), 4 APC (+8), 2 tanks (+6)

Close enough to call it a draw.

Verdict
I was not enjoying the game for the first few turns.  The infantry fight in the village just looked messy and seemed it would go on forever.  but then I remembered that cramming 6mm infantry onto a small table and in a village fight looked messy in all my other games!  I felt a little better.  I also did not seem to have much of a plan for the Russians. The rules were also new and have a few nuances I realised when looking some stuff up.  But about turn 4, I was started to get a handle on how the rules worked, ranges etc.It did seem to have a more modern fell than the WW2 I was used to (longer ranges, mechanised infantry playing a bit part).  And thought up a plan for the Russians.  From then on I enjoyed the game a lot.  I did not even mind using d10s, much preferring d6s. and I forgot to use the LAWs that the British would have been armed with against the BTRs.  TankWreck! is a fun ruleset.  I am very tempted to play another game (if fact I did and a write-up is coming).


Saturday, August 15, 2015

6mm WW2 Russia 43 Holding Back the Tide scenario with Fields of Honor

Introduction
This is my second battle in a series to use the Russia ’43 Red Guards at Kursk Skirmish Campaign book and use a different ruleset for each scenario.  I am going to scale the scenarios up from skirmish to the level required by the rules and then scale the measurements down from inches to centimetres to play on a small board with 6mm figures.

I am using Pinnacle's Fields of Honor WW2, available from DriveThruRPG.  A boardgame that is really a miniature game in disguise; I got it as a PDF many years ago and the concepts seemed OK - combat activation, some subtlety in the combat rules - but they never really seemed to get much traction.  Each base is a squad and a vehicle is a single vehicle.  This boardgamegeek page has some info, particularly this boardgamegeek review.

See this page for information on my replaying of WW2 scenarios with different rules.

Scenario
I am using HOLDING BACK THE TIDE the fourth scenario from the Russia ’43 Red Guards at Kursk Skirmish Campaign book.

Soviets are trying to breakthrough across a river and German units are rushed to stop them.

Game is 8-13 turns, end game is checked at the end of each turn starting with turn 8.  Soviets win by putting two tanks on the other side of the stream, a T-70 counting as 1/2 a tank (most unfair - I like the T-70!).  

Table overview
Troops

German
German forces
Force HQ
     1 Infantry HQ base
     2 infantry bases
     1 Kubelwagon
1st Mechanised Infantry company
    1 HQ base
    8 infantry bases
    3 Sdkfz 251/1
4 x PzKpfw IVg
2 x PzKpfw IIIj (enter on turn 1)

The PzKpfw IIIj was the variable attachment to enter on turn d4


Soviet
Soviet forces
1 x T-34 Command
3 x T-34
3 x T-70
1st Tank Rider company
    1 HQ infantry base
    8 infantry bases
2nd  Tank Rider company
    1 HQ infantry base
    8 infantry bases
1 x SU-152

The SU-152 was the variable attachment.

Note the Soviets only have 4 T34s and 3 T70s that can make it over the stream to contribute to the victory conditions of 2 tanks crossing (and the T70 counting as 1/2 tank).  The SU-152 cannot count as if it attempts to cross the stream it will be bogged.

Deployment
The scenario calls for an 8’ long table that I am scaling to 30”. 

No units begin on the table - Soviets enter on the left of one side and Germans from the other end.

The stream is not fordable along the woods.  It is also soft and impassable to the wheeled vehicles and causes a bog check to AFVs and the half-tracks for each bank crossed.  The ford will cause only one bog check for all vehicles.  The SU-152 was a very heavy tank so I will rules that it will automatically bog entering the stream or the ford.

Tank riders may enter on or off the tanks.

Game
All the units move on the table.  Soviet infantry is riding on the tanks

Russian entry
German platoon is in the half-tracks.  The first few turns are moving up into range.

German entry
T-34s move to the edge of the woods to either side of the woods and unload tank riders.  German halftracks reach the woods and unload as well.

Russians dash for the woods on either side of the ford and unload the tank riders
The Panzer IVs are positioned just behind the crest of the hill with a commanding view of the ford. One of the T34s is in range of all the PanzerIVs.  6 to hit (long range), one hit but no damage.  The T34 subsequently moves into the woods for cover.  The T-70s continue to go for the small gap at the edge.

PanzerIVs on the dominating hill; the PanzerIIi on the left will continue up the right flank.
The T70s are going towards the small gap at the edge.  Hopefully they make it.  The PanzerIIIs are moving to intercept.

The PanzerIIIs continue to move towards the gap on the German right flank.
The Russian infantry moves up into close combat with Germans but fails to hit anything.  The German retaliation also see no effect.  Hard to destroy infantry when it is 5+ (5+ to hit, +1 short range, -1 soft cover) and then a 4+ will save!

The melee in the woods.
Next turn the Soviets get a run of cards.  The Germans realise that the game could end at turn 8 - all the Soviets need to do is drive all the T-34 across, hope only one bogs and at least 2 survive the fire (likely) as to hit will be 5+ for long range from the PanzerIVs, and then another 6+ to KO.  The Germans need to block the stream.  But then I remember you get two d6s to hit if you don't move, so the 4 Panzer IVs can roll 8d6 when attempting to hit.  Not bad.  So they will stay on the hill.

The melee in the woods sees a German gruppe gone.

The melee still going; Looked much the same at game end.
The PanzerIV roll 8d6 to hit the SU-152 and roll 4 6's for 4 hits.  And one of those hits is they roll a 6 and the SU-152 is gone.  1 is always a fail on any roll 6 is always a success.

SU-152 is KO'd

Overview at turn 5.
A 3.5 month gap in playing here due to distractions (all good ones, no bad ones). Playing in a map drawer proves itself once again!

Start of turn 6. The Russians have a least 3 more turns before the possible end of the game.  It does not seem like much.  At the rate the infantry battle is going, it may be another 3 turns before the T-34s will be able to move in the open.

The Russians get another run on the activation cards.  The infantry inflict nothing again and the Germans do nothing in return. 2 T70s make it to stream at the far side of the table and pass the first bog check. But the PanzerIIIs move around the woods, spot the 2 T70s, to hit roll is both 6s (auto hit) then both KO the T70s (!).  The T70 tank riders are also destroyed (its the rules).  So not much point getting the third over - it is only 1/2 a point.

PanzerIII destroys two T70s
In a subsequent turn the Panzer IIIs fire on last T70 before it can move and KOs it too.

The three destroyed T70s

Turn 7 sees one German infantry destroyed in melee. That took time. As turn 8 might see the end of the game,  the T34s rush the ford and also fire on the PanzerIVs. 2 hits! At long range will only kill one a 1 or 2.  rolled a 1! one down.

The T34s charge across the ford.
Panzer IVs fire on the T34s  and kill 2. Things not looking so good for the Russians.

..and 2 T34s are destroyed (the KO'd SU-152 at the back)
Turn 8 and the Panzer IVs activate first and fire on the T34s again.  And KO the last two.

All T34s gone.
All Russians tanks are out of the game and so they cannot win.  Game over and a win the Germans.

Game end. All bar one of the KO'd tanks are the Russian vehicles
Verdict
I think Fields of Honor is an underrated game system. It has the card activation, the infantry combat mechanisms is fine as it vehicle combat.  It is a simple game system and is fast and gives decent results. It is similar-ish to my rules for WW2 so I am completely biased!

The double shots for the PanzerIVs really slowed the Russians down, especially with no penalty for firing at moving units.  I am not sure what else I could have done as the Russians to increase their chances of winning.  Anyway, a fun game and glad I am getting to use my 6mm collection.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Battle of the Hellespont 321BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

Introduction
This is game 24 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.

Battle of Hellespont
Craterus (Antipater's general) and Eumenes (Governor of Cappadocia and Paphlagonia), acting of behalf of Perdiccas, fight it out in one of the early succession wars after Alexander the Great's death.

There is not much on the internet on this battle but here are some links:

Wikipedia article
Great Battles of History scenario
A CC:Ancients scenario (opens a PDF)

Scenario changes
Reduced by about a third the troops due to my smaller sized table. I also made Craterus's Pike regular fortitude and Eumenes's Pike low fortitude - the scenario has Eumenes with Pk(S) and Craterus with Pk(I), and my (limited) research seems to lead to the reverse.   I roughly halved the spear and pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.

Troops
Macedonian (Craterus)
The Macedonians - Craterus on the left of this picture.
3 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude, drilled
1 Hoplite, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection
2 Thracians, aux infantry
2 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Companions, aux cavalry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
1 General with Companions

Breakpoint: 8

I have called them "Macedonian" as the troops were mostly Macedonians.

Cappadocia (Eumenes)


Cardians with more screening skirmishers and cavalry.  Eumenes the leftmost cavalry unit in the picture.
4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx, low fortitude
4 Cappadocians, aux infantry
6 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Guard cavalry, aux cavalry, high fortitude
3 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
1 General with Guards

Breakpoint: 10

I have called this side Cappadocians as Eumenes at this time was the governor of Cappadocia (and Paphlagonia)

Note that I have omitted the light cavalry that Eumemes had.  There was no room.  Eumenes has 4 heavy cavalry and Craterus two; this is more than enough of an advantage for Eumenes.

Deployment
Deployment:


Macedonians on the left, Cappadocians to the right.  Fairly standard deployment and as per scenario
The Game
Craterus moves first. In the actual battle, Craterus charged with his cavalry and this lost the battle.  To simulate this, I can use my programmable opponent system and force the Macedonian side to use the "envelop flanks" tactic.  This means they have to advance with the cavalry first.  This may seem forced, but Eumenes would just charge with his cavalry (as he has more of them) and hold his infantry back. The end result is the same.

The heavy cavalry on both flanks.

The first turn sees the Macedonians advance

The Macedonians advance.
Eumenes and another heavy cavalry charge at the Macedonian heavy cavalry opposite, the latter is routed (a 6 rolled against them).   Both cavalry units pursue.

Eumenes and Co. engage the enemy cavalry (that subsequently routs)
The Eumenes infantry is not as good as the Macedonians and so they choose not move.

The two heavy cavalry on the Cappadocian left flank charge into Craterus and all three are disordered.

Craterus engages the non-Eumenes flank.  Grey spears are disordered markers.
The Macedonian battle line splits off a Thracian on their left to hold the Cappadocian heavy cavalry while the rest advances.

Hard to notice, but a lone Thracian unit is left behind on the right to protect the battleline from Eumenes.
Eumenes and the heavy cavalry do a complex wheel and charge the Thracian.  Only one heavy cavalry contacts, the Thracian retreats, the heavy cavalry pursues, routs the Thracian,  heavy cavalry continues to pursue.

The Heavy cavalry accompanying Eumenes charges the Thracians (who rout).
The Cappadocian skirmishers want to advance by fail (rolled a 1).  Craterus and the Cappadocian heavy cavalry continue in melee and Craterus routs one of the opposing heavy cavalry.

Craterus (to the rear of the pictures) routs one of the opposition (the other shown here is routed next turn)
The Macedonian battleline advances and sees a few skirmishers rout after missile exchanges.

Skirmish skimming - most the the skirmishers disappear in a flurry of missiles
Eumenes and the heavy cavalry are moving round the back.  Craterus routs the remaining opposing heavy cavalry and charges the Cappadocian light infantry on the edge of the flank; it retreats.

After routing the cavalry, Craterus (at the left) charges some light infantry and forces them to retreat
The Macedonian battleline moves up. Appalling Macedonian dice rolls sees all the Macedonians disordered bar one and no retreats on the other side.  This despite being of higher fortitude giving them a combat bonus.

Ancient battlelines clash.  Despite the disparity in combat values, mostly both sides are disordered.
Eumenes moves but the other Heavy Cavalry fails its order roll.  Two rounds of battleline melee see Cappadocian losses of 3 Light Infantry and 2 phalangite units routed.

The Cappadocian batteline is failing (only a couple of pike units remaining at centre left).  Eumenes can been seen in the distance at the rear of the Macedonian line.
The good news is that Eumenes is poised to charge into the rear of some Macedonian phalangites.  The bad news is that his army has reached its breakpoint and so will flee.  Craterus, unlike history is victorious.

Game end positions - Eumenes and his other Heavy cavalry on the left, The battleline to the right (with only two Cappadocian pike units)
Verdict
I played this game over several sessions over several months, but enjoyed it nevertheless.  It did not go quite like history.  It was when Craterus was in melee I noticed I had removed from the rules the possibility of generals dying in combat (currently the only way to kill a general is to kill the unit; this is not easy)  It was there but accidently removed in the great version 2.0 rewrite in September 2014.  I have now added it back in.