Sunday, June 22, 2014

WW2 20mm West Front Goodwood mini-Campaign Game 7

Introduction
I have setup a 1/2 a table tennis to play a 7 game mini-campaign set over 2 days at the opening of Operation Goodwood. This is the last game, game 7.  Game 1 and some more background, see this blog post.

Scenario 6 - Assault on Chateau St Pierre D'Oursin
Elements of the 12th SS Panzer are defending the Chateau Pierre D'Oursin.  The Irish Guards need to clear Chateau of forces to protect their divisions left flank.

Overview of the battlefield.  The British on the left have to cross the large open fiend to the woods on the right.
Troops
Germans
1 Veteran Panzer Grenadier HQ
3 Veteran Panzer Grenadier squads (each 6 figures + MMG)
1 JangpanzerIV/L48

Reinforcements:
1 Veteran Panzer Grenadier HQ + Sdkfz 250/10
3 Veteran Panzer Grenadier squads (each 6 figures + MMG +Sdkfz 251/1)

British
1 Squadron
    2 Shermans
    1 Firefly
2 Infantry units
   1 Infantry command (5 figures)
   3 Infantry squads (each 10 figures)
   1 PIAT team in Bren carrier
1 Bren Carrier with HMG team.
1 FAC in Sherman tank
2 Daimler Armoured Car

Overview of the British troops.
Scenario changes
Game is supposed to be on a 6'x6' but I am playing on a 4.5'x5'.  No changes to accommodate this.

The campaign so far - Germans have won three (blue) and the British 3 (orange).

Deployment
The British setup behind the hedge.  The Germans are spread out along the tree line with a central vantage point for the JadgpanzerIV.

Where the units are at deployment
Game
A open field to cross.  Slow and steady it is. The Shermans have been advancing with the infantry following behind them in shelter.

The British tentatively advance.  the infantry hid behind the advancing tanks and the Daimlers are out in front. 
The Daimlers advance and manage to spot some units.  The Panzerfausts (I allowed 2 as per the scenario) all missed.

A Daimler makes it to the woods and spots some infantry.  Panzerfausts all miss and they are 
But return fire from Sherman HE manages to pin the squad. In the rules, a recce unit may contact the closest unit and tell them where a spotted unit is.  In this case the Shermans were closest and fired at the Germans in the woods.

The Other Daimler spots some infantry behind the hedge in front of the chateau.

The other Daimler spots units in front of the Chateau.
Time to call in the aircraft, Success and 6d6 of bomb damage sees them reduced heavily.  Some other Britsih infantry are advancing, further back than the tanks, and also the sole MMG dismounts but within range of the woods.

While an earlier image than previous, the units are still steadily advancing and the dismounted MMG and carrier can be seen at the back left.  

The Germans begin to fire back with the MMGs and pin some advancing infantry. The Germans in the woods are routed eventually by quite a bit of HE fire from the Shermans.

The Chateau and the objective for the British.  MMG fire from here was lethal but aircraft bombing and strafing managed to clear out any troops in it.
The building is bombed a few more times until the aircraft missions ran out.  it did cause the MMG to go, and also the HQ unit in the building.  And one of the units hiding behind the hedge in fron tof the chateau.

The Jagdpanzer decides to open up now and manages to KO a Sherman.  It was easily spotted but the Sherman return fire is ineffectual.

Jadgpanzer in the woods. I only have the L70 model, and it is standing in for the L48 version.
Still slow going - the British are getting closer to the wood line and chateau.  Half the tanks gone, the infantry that is advancing is half gone.  But there is another load of infantry ready to take advantage of the situation as soon as a foothold can be made.

Mid game - lots of losses for the advancing units, but the Germans are reduced quite a bit as well.  The British still have a lot of troops in reserve behind the hedge on the left.
And then I bring on the German reinforcements.  In fact, I only bring on half of them as I have an idea what is going to happen.  I bring on three MMGs rather than 3 MMG and associated infantry (15 figures in all).

The MMGs are brought in on the German right and advance, without being seen,to the edge of the wood.
The MMGs setup on the edge of the wood near the road and are not spotted.  They open up.  4 dice each, 5+ required to hit the closest units.  10 hits from 12 dice!  2 units are gone.  End of turn. First card for activation on the new turn is German.  The three MMGs fire again on the next unit.  12 dice but now need a 6+ as it is long range.  5 hits!  Another unit gone.  The Jagdpanzer then takes out a second Sherman and the last remaining Sherman decides it has had enough (failed morale test).

At the end.  While the British have a lot of infantry left behind the hedge, they have nothing else.  and the Germans command the field with the MMGs.
So the British now have no tanks, no aircraft, one MMG and lots of open ground to traverse - taking about 4-5 turns.  The Germans have 3 MMGs, in cover, that can reach the entire table.  The British retreat.

Verdict
Another open ground battle went as expected. I believe I played the British the best I could do, but it is hard to attack over an open field against hidden forces.  But I did enjoy trying it out.  I believe I will not be trying out open field battles like this again!  It also likely has something to do with playing the scenario based for one set of rules and using another.

This is the last battle in the campaign and the table has been put away.  I started work on some company level rules and realised I am not entirely happy with Advancing Battalions as a ruleset.  They are good, but not great (and I wrote them!).  Playtesting them in these 7 battles has been useful.  I think infantry to hit is too easy and am changing the base to hit from 4+ to 5+.  Also, I would go back to the original way I did morale and add back in suppression.  So while the rules as there were for these rules were a leap forward in mechanisms, I have toned it back a little to what I am more comfortable with.  I have updated the rules (but are untested) and they will be the final version for a while until I get back into battalion sized battles. 

Campaign result



The rulebook has a method to calculate who won the campaign based on a weighted score for winning battles and cross referencing each sides' totals on a small table:

Centre Battles
Game 1 - German win
Game 3 - British win
Game 6 - German win
2- 1 German victory gives 1 campaign point to the Germans
Right Flank Battles
Game 2 - German win
Game 7 - German win
2-0 German victory gives 1 campaign point to the Germans
Left Flank Battles
Game 4 - British win
Game 5 - British win
2-0 British victory gives 1 campaign point to the British

Final result
Cross referencing this on the table gives a narrow German victory.

Final word
With the table away, I am back to 2'x2' table battles for foreseeable future.

Monday, June 16, 2014

NUTS Comic WW2 battle report - Cheux Normandy Game 01

Introduction
I was going to do a company based 6mm ww2 Normandy mini-campaign on a 2'x2' board. I am likely to still do so.  But I have been distracted by an idea to use my 20mm figures on the 2'x2' table and play skirmish instead.  I have always wanted to have a go with Two Hour Wargame NUTS! as it is very solo friendly and will use that, although the terrain generation is from Platoon Forward and the wound effects and random events are from Patrol:WW2.  Lastly, comic style AARs are all the rage at the moment, so I used Comic Life (for the first time) to do the report.

Background
I have recently acquired the history of the British 7th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment of the 43rd (Wessex) Division.  I am loosely basing the campaign on their journey.  28-30 June 1944 saw many patrols and a few German stragglers captures. 

It is my first game with NUTS! so I am going with only 5 soldiers. I expect I will normally run with an entire section.   With the small 2'x2' table, I am halving all distances.

The Game
Note: images can be clicked on to show a larger version.











Commentary
I rolled randomly for 5 British soldiers.  I chose not to use any Stars:

Corporal Box, REP 5, Stealth
Private Harrison, REP 5, Tough
Private Jones, REP 4, Hard as Nails
Private Killan, REP 5, Nerves of Steel
Private Trimmer, REP 3, Runt.

Campaign Morale: 4
British Investment Level: 3 (on Patrol)
German Investment Level: 3 (Brits are on Patrol)

I made a mistake with the first German fire when I rolled for all the 5 Germans firing and then started applying damage to the different figures.  I should have done it one by one.  But I did remember half way through, and even remembered the Man Down tests.
There was a time when Killan and a German traded shots - three times each - without hitting as both in cover.  That was frustrating but part of the game.
There were three random event in a row near the end of the the game.  I used Patrol:WW2 and the third one was the artillery strike (the other events were less exciting such as finding a PIAT).
I could not believe it when I rolled German replacements as Box and Jones were returning back to the line.  And even more unbelievable when the entry location was so close! It was a squad so I rolled a d6 for the number of soldiers that turned up.
Lastly, I should have picked up the wounded soldiers.  I forgot and only remembered when I got to the end.  If real life, they would not have forgotten so assumed they made it back.

Using Patrol: WW2 I determined the Out of the Fight effects::
Harrison:  Light wound Arm; out for 8 days.
Killan: Light wound Arm; Completely healed within the day.

Verdict
Well, that was fun. Comic Life runs a little slow on my under-powered machine but it was so easy to use and I really enjoyed putting it altogether.  I also really like Nuts! for its solo suitability and also the campaign detail.  The whole game took 2 hours from taking out the board, filling it with terrain and playing the game.  I did not use any paper and referred to the rules on a Windows 7 notebook.  The bookmarks are fantastic and I found the rules fine to work with.  I think the game with 5 soldiers would be over in under an hour in a game or two.
But of course, and I had a feeling this would happen, there are a lot of dice rolls in the game. I did think about switching to something similar with less dice and Gut Check! looks good.  However, as an incessant rules writer,  I am already nearly finished writing a simpler set (infantry only so far) borrowing some of the reaction concepts but with less dice rolls. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

WW2 20mm West Front Goodwood mini-Campaign Game 6

Introduction
I have setup a 1/2 a table tennis to play a 7 game mini-campaign set over 2 days at the opening of Operation Goodwood. This is game 6.  Game 1 and some more background, see this blog post.

Scenario 6 - Assault on Frenouville
Grenadier Guards need to clear the reinforced town of Frenouville to clear the road through it to Vimont.

Overview of the table at deployment - Brits on the left, Germans on the right.


The story so far - Germans have won two (blue), British have won three (red)
Troops
Germans
2 Veteran Panzer Grenadier units
     1 Veteran Panzer Grenadier HQ
     3 Veteran Panzer Grenadier squads (each 6 figures + MMG)
1 FAO in Kubelwagon
Dedicated Artillery - 2 x 105mm
3 PanzerIVH

Reinforcements:
3 JangpanzerIV

+ surviving Tiger IIs from Scenario 2. I did not add the Tigers as the board would be too crowded.

British
2 Squadron
    2 Shermans
    1 Firefly
2 M10 Achilles
1 Motorised Infantry unit
   1 Infantry command in M5 half-track
   3 Infantry squads in M5 half-tracks (each 9 figures)
   3 PIATs
1 Infantry unit
   1 Infantry command (5 figures)
   3 Infantry squads (each 10 figures)
   1 PIAT team in Bren carrier
1 FAO in sherman HQ
1 FAC in Dingo Armoured Car
Dedicated Artillery - 3 x 25pdrs

+ surviving Cromwells from game 5. I did not add the Cromwells as I did not add the Tigers for the Germans.

Scenario changes
Game is supposed to be on a 8'x6' but I am playing on a 4.5'x5'.  No changes to accommodate this, it will just be cramped!

Deployment
Not a lot of room for deployment here.  The British split into two broad groups - one unit of Shermans and the motorised infantry to take on the centre objective; the other to advance up the right flank for the objective there.

The Germans setup to attack through the centre and the left with some infantry holding the objective on their right.
Deployment. Four objectives marked with an X - wheatfield corner, centre house, house on bottom left and hedge at top right.
Early Game
Turn 1 was an advance on both sides.  Turn 2 sees the British get a card first and decide to run a halftrack down the road and unload infantry into the objective building.  Another card and they run another halftrack and unload behind the building.

Two units of infantry charge up the road and take the centre objective.  It ended badly.
Bit of a gutsy move and may not pay off (spoiler: it didn't), but infantry is harder to dislodge from hard cover and the building is an objective.  Germans then machine gun the building with vehicle MMG fire and cause them to retreat to the orchard and are pinned.  Germans infantry advance into the building and also the other objective building on their left flank.


Some of the German units in the woods.  If they didn't move, they did not get spotted and acted as great reserve during the game.
The British units that advanced to the centre building objective was a big mistake - the other unit behind it is later also pinned and pulls back into the orchard.  Over the next few turns they take artillery and vehicle MMG and other infantry fire and are reduced from 20 original figures down to about 8.  But they pass all their morale checks and stay in the orchard.

Meanwhile, in the second turn the M10 Achilles unit had activated.

The M10s at the bottom and there commanding position on the left flank.  Same there was not much to fire at (except the burning tank at the top right).
Long range fire at a Panzer IV.  1 in 9 chance of destroying it (works out to a 5+ to hit and a subsequent 5+ to KO).  Rolled a 5 followed by a 5.  The other Achilles misses.  This was the only hit by the M10s for the next three turns and the only tank KO's by the British in the entire game.

A closer look at the only German tank destroyed during the game.
The Jadgpanzers came on in turn 2. The Jadgpanzers are in soft cover and they have better armour.  I decide to move them in on the right flank, facing all the British tanks.  The Germans are a bit armour-weak there, especially after losing a PanzerIV.  I did consider bringing on the left flank to  make that very strong but losing the right flank impacts three potential objectives. The Shermans facing them run and hide behind the orchard and start to assist the other flank.

The Shermans hide behind the orchard from the Jagdpanzers.  The infantry from the ruined building are hiding in the orchard, although they rout soon after this picture was taken.
So moving the JadgPanzers here was a mistake as their 75L48s do not have the range to engage much. They begin moving across to the other flank - the German right flank is fairly empty and did not need the bolstering after all.

On the British right flank, the British are advancing, but so are the Germans.

The British right flank looks quite good from the British perspective.  It does not end well here either!.
The British fail to spot the movement in the buildings and keep advancing.

The British advancing toward the building (and objective).  They also rout shortly after this picture from fire from the building.
The Germans open up from 6" away.  10 dice needing a 5+ to hit on each (due to soft cover).  It is not going to be great.  It was really bad - 8 hits on the British unit and they rout.

The Germans that were in the building that fired on the British in the previous picture.  In the picture the infantry are behind the building, but are really in it.  The building do actually have a removable roof, but I have a terrible habit of forgetting there is stuff inside - if I cant see it, it isn't there!
Mid-Game
The mid game opens with the Germans controlling the game.  They have 3 of the 4 objectives, have units in reserve in the woods and are in a comfortable defensive position.  The British are reacting to the Germans, not in a great position and are down a unit and some others units are battered.  The Germans had got inside the British decision cycle and it showed. On the British plus they completely control half the table, but that half has one objective and no terrain.  Hopefully we will see the British gaining a bit of the initiative or it will be over soon.

Germans in the house on their left flank are routed under intense British vehicle MG fire and artillery. A great run on the dice from the Brits.  The two British units pinned in the centre orchard take a lot more hits and both are routed. Another good run on the dice but this time by the Germans - payback for the previous rolls.  These two British units belong to the same four unit infantry battalion. The battalion has lost over 40% of its units (2 of 4) and rolls a battalion morale check.  They fails and pull back off the table.

Note the lack of any infantry in the picture - half of the original British infantry is gone.
It then became a battle of the tanks as the British were not going to expose the British infantry - there is not much of them left (one battalion).  Some Shermans were KO'd and the last Sherman left pulled back (off the board).

Tank graveyard behind to orchard - The one destroyed M10 missed twice and succumbed to the advancing Jagdpanzers that can be seen in the background
One M10 was pinned and one destroyed by the Jadgpanzer IVs that advanced down the left flank.

A shot of the Jagdpanzers advancing up the empty flank.  They are the L70 version but the scenario calls for the shorter L48 version, which is what I used them as.
There was an British aircraft attack on one of the building that caused 5 casualties but the remaining German veteran infantry just shrugged it off (passed all 5 morale checks from each casualty!).

The British finally get to the objective building, and more in support behind them.  unluckily, the force morale check is not passed at this point and the British pull back.
At this point I realised that the British forces had 3 of their 6 units out of commission.  I rolled for force morale and they decide to pull back (a 4+ required to pass but failed).

A view at the end game.  The British are really hemmed into one corner of the board.  The Germans (played by me) did an excellent job of forcing the British player (played by me) to react to what they did.
Verdict
Well, that did not go as expected but was enjoyable nevertheless.  And my rules seem to be working as I expect them to.  The table was very crowded and there seemed there was always multiple targets to choose from for any unit firing (this went for both sides).

I can pin the British loss down to my stupid move of advancing to capture the objective with the British infantry.  They were quickly kicked out, and soon disappeared.  I should have played the more careful, slower game and used the tanks to more of an advantage to assist with moving fowards (wow, combined arms, who would have thought).  But I can be an impulsive player as times, especially when solo playing.

The British had it hard anyway - the German were able to store a lot of reserves back in the woods for possible counter attacks.  I think even if I had played it better, the Germans would have managed, barring unlucky dice rolling,  to kick the British out of any gains.

Onwards to the last game - a quite open table. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

WW2 20mm West Front Goodwood mini-Campaign Game 5

Introduction
I have re-setup a1/2 a table tennis to continue playing a 7 game mini-campaign set over 2 days at the opening of Operation Goodwood. This is game 5.  Game 1 and some more background, see this blog post.  I set up and played Game 4 just after Christmas 2013 and then had to take it down so a friend had a place to sleep.  The friend has found a place to live so the campaign is back on!

Scenario 5 - Capturing Le Poirer
The Guards armoured reconnaissance battalion is tasked to clear a large farm of German defenders.

The campaign so far - British (orange) have won two, Germans (blue) have won two.
Troops
Germans
1 Panzer Grenadier HQ
3 Panzer Grenadier squads
1 Dispatch rider (allows for one automatic successful radio call for artillery)
3 Marder IIH (Actually H-39s but the scenario suggests they are treated as Marders so I will use Marders. I have no H-39s.)
1 FAO in Kubelwagon
Dedicated Artillery - 1 x 105mm (scenario has 2 but that would equivalent to 1 in my rules)
Reinforced building (I will treat as bunker that in my rules reduces flame and HE effects)

British
2 Squadrons
    1 Cromwell CS
    2 Cromwells
(scenario calls for 3 Cromwells but I do not have 6 of them, but do have 4 and 2 CS tanks)
1 Infantry command
3 Infantry squads
1 PIAT team in Bren carrier
1 Wasp
2 counter battery missions (I ignored this as my rules have no counter battery rules)

Scenario changes
Game is supposed to be on a 6'x6' but I am playing on a 4.5'x5'.  No changes to accommodate this, it will just be a little cramped!

The objective is the Chateau that starts in German hands.  Germans are in a defensive position.

Deployment
Germans deploy with Infantry unit and MMG in the Chateau. The Marders are setup around the centre with good LOS over the entire board.  The other two infantry units are placed on the flanks.  All German units are not spotted at the start of the game.

The British are hugging the centre and their left flank as a focus, rather than attack across the entire front.  The British are in the open will be spotted the moment they move.

British to the left, Germans the the right.
Painting sidenote
So I set the game up and then realised that I did not have any painted Cromwells.  The last time I had used Cromwells was in the early 90s and I used the time-honoured practice of simple substitution: a Airfix Churchill turret on a Matchbox Comet hull.  But in the intervening years I had obtained 4 unpainted Cromwells, 1 badly painted Cromwell and 2 unpainted metal Cromwell CS (with the 95mm howitzer).  Woo-hoo, if I paint them up I can make two squadrons of 2 Cromwells and a Cromwell CS. But the last time I painted a tank was...maybe 1988..could be 1994.  And all I used to do was spray them a colour. I know a lot more, even if I have never practiced it.  So, using paints I already had (I actually had British WW2 green in a spray can that still worked), I undercoated, top coated, dry brushed in a lighter green, washed in black and added some mud.  I also had to paint tracks and three tanks had infantry torsos I had to paint them too.  I think they came out OK for my first tank paint job in 20 years.

Some of the the painted tanks.  The red spot on the near tank is the previously badly painted tank colour that I missed covering up.
Game
British advance slowly as the infantry only move 6".

A shot of all the infantry, with some of the supporting tanks, just before moving out.
One Cromwell squadron does not move and keeps pumping HE shells into the Chateau, causing a few casualties. To the dismay of the Marders, this squadron is just out of range of the their guns.

The chateau from the British side.  A Marder to the right, the Kubelwagen FAO to the left.
The German 105mm offboard artillery cuts one infantry unit by 50% over a few turns. The unit valiantly carries on (passed all required morale checks).

Along the British right flank, they spot the MMG on the far side of the stone wall and the Cromwell tanks moving down that flank mow it down with their machine gun.

The rest of the early game was the Germans waiting until the British got within a decent range and the British madly trying to get into a decent range to spot the enemy.

End of the early game with the British advancing down the open fiends. The infantry unit in the centre is the one cut down to 50% by artillery.
A Marder III opens fire on a Cronwell in range but is destroyed by return fire.

The  (wrong camo) Marder in the woods on the German right.  Unluckily it was spotted with its first fire and the Cromwell target returned fire and destroyed it.
Mid game the German artillery and fire from the Chateau managed to rout the depleted advancing British unit, then they caused another unit to retreat and then subsequently rout.

The retreating infantry unit that routing with its next morale check.
Only one British infantry unit left of the British left flank.  At least it is well protected by the stone wall and being far away from the action.

The German Chateau infantry forces were eventually routed by Cromwell MG fire.  But no British infantry to take advantage of that fact.  The German infantry unit on the right and in the woods crosses to road into the centre woods to assist with a possible counterattack.  It lost a few units crossing the road from long range MG fire from Cromwells but otherwise OK.

Crossing the road from the German point of view.  Another Marder on the right.
The Cromwells at the rear finally advanced and one is destroyed by a Marder III.  There was a lot of long range fire between the 2 remaining Marders and the Cromwells with lots of ricochets but no pinning or destruction (a run of poor die rolls on both sides).

One of my favourite tanks that I get out at every opportunity.   This tank I acquired back in 1981 and was in use by that person for a few years before then.  Still going strong after nearly 35 years.  Esci (now Italeri) is my guess.

And the last of the British  infantry slooowly advance down the left side of the board, protected by the stone wall.  They have a long way to go.

Cromwells guarding the Chateau.  Favourite Marder bottom right.  Last of the British infantry can just be seen at the top of the picture.
The PIAT carrier advances next to the woods adjacent to the chateau and the PIAT team gets out to scout the wood.  German HQ fires at it from across the road for no effect.  The Wasp then advances and flames the Battalion HQ causing it to routs.  The FAO in the woods enters into melee with the PIAT crew and kills them.

The Germans have passed there force morale check twice but fail it now and retreat off the board.  A win for the British.

End game.  The British infantry have not made it to the chateau yet the the Germans are withdrawing so a win for the Brits.
Verdict
The game dragged a little bit when there was only one infantry unit left that hiked it on foot from one end of the board to the other.  Other than that is was a very close game and I had no idea who would win it until the Germans failed their morale.  This is the second game where poor die rolling has seen long range tank battles not inflict much damage.  It happens.  The rules (latest version from the my WW2 rules page) are working how I want them to and there are two more games to go to test them out.