Monday, 27 January 2020

More Trench Clearing

I reran the german attack on a British trench last night. This time it didn't go anywhere near as well for the Germans.

There only approaches through the wire were on their left, and they had little cover on their baseline. As before the LMGs set up in shellholes and behind an undulation in order to lay down covering fire.

The main attack was through the wire on the left.

The Germans quickly approached the trench.

However the British sallied out of their bunker, destroying the Germans advancing through the shell-holes in front of them. The other German rifle squad got into the trenches, howeve, and drove them back.

At this point the British reinforcements arrived. The British rifle-grenadiers moved into the communication trench in order to support them. To the right of the picture can be seen an HMG, marking the point from which the off-table fire will originate.

On the far left the German grenadiers prepared to sweep round to assault the pillbox. They did this but were driven back. For a few turns both sides eyed each other warily and fired tying to suppress the other, whilst consolidating their own forces. The momentum was going out of the German attack.

The HMG pinned one of the German LMGs, and fire from the bumker forced the German rifle group to shelter in a bunker.

Fire from the Lewis in the bunker destroyed the German grenadier group too. At that point I called the game. The Germans were never going to take the British positions.

So this time the Germans failed badly. The lack of cover made a difference, but some of it was simply the wild swings of forune this game can offer.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Trench Clearing

This is another one of the 'training' scenarios from 'Stout Hearts and Iron Troopers', based around a German platoon clearing a trench of British defenders after an initial bombardment. I adapted it for Trench Hammer. It's played on a 2' x 2' board.

The Germans have two rifle squads, two LMG squads and a bomber squad, with one leader and a sergeant.

The British defenders have a standard platoon - rifle squad, LMG squad, rifle-grenade squad and bombers, with a leader. The bombers and the leader start off-table as reinforcements, the LMG in a concrete bunker in the centre and the other two squads sheltering in bunkers in the front-line trench.

The Germans are attacking as the barrage lifts.

The terrain onsists of s ingle trench line, with a communication trench heading off towards the British baseline. There are eight 3" wire sections across the front of the trench and about 4" from it. At the start of the game the Germans can dice for each one; it is removed on a 5-6.

I placed shell-holes and low rises placed at random.

The British units suffer effects of pre-game bombardment as per the rules.

Owing to their confused state, the British only roll 1D6 for command. They can move units or set aside command points for reinforcements. Before rolling command dice they can spend these banked command points, rolling a D6 against them. On a score equal to or less than the banked points the reinfocements appear, at one of the three points where the trenches leave the board.The original scenario has rules for off-table HMG fire, but I didn't work out how to resolve that. I think in future I'd have it appearing as some kind of auto-reinforcement with the LOS being measured from one of the three points where trenches leave the board (these also being the three possible entry points for the British reinforcements as well), firing as an HMG at long range but perhaps only scoring 1D3 damage - annoying rather than deadly.

Anyway, heres the game set up and ready to go. I put the British bases on for the look of it, but really they're hidden in the bunkers/pillbox.

The Germans had some craters on their baseline, so deployed the two LMG squads there, with orders to take the pillbox under fire and keep it suppressed, or provide supporting fire for the other squads. The other squads aimed for the British bunker on their left; the rifle squads were to deal with the trench, whilst the bombers, led by the sergeant, were to swing round, flank the pillbox and assault it.

The Germans moved rapidly, and their riflemen quickly entered the trench before teh British emerged from their bunker. The bombers followed close behind. The other riflemen moved through a gap in the wire in front of the pillbox. Suppresive fire from the German LMGs wasn't enough to stop the British from spreaying them with fire, and they fell back to regroup.

The British came out of their bunker and fighting broke out along the trench. The British retreated.

The Germans consolidated their position, and the bombers got themselves in a position to move in on the pillbox.

They attacked, but were driven back, but with light casualties only.

Alerted by the firing the British reinforcements arrived, rushing down the trench to assault the Germans. The fight was fierce and the Germans fell back, but the British suffered badly and lost their officer as well.

The Germans attacked the pillbox again, and destroyed the squad inside, taking the defences.

German and British troops face off along the trench.

The supporting fire from the LMG was starting to tell now, inflicting steady casualties on the British. The bombers were soon dispersed.

The British tried to consolidate their position, with a rifle squad grabbing the junction with their communication trench, and the rifle grenadiers finding the range of the supporting LMG. But the german platoon commander was directing the fire of his support weapons, and kept them in the fight.

The Germans attacked again, attempting to take the junction, but both assaults were thrown back.

However the Germans had the advatage of numbers, and kept up a relentless series of attacks, whilst allowing squads to recover. The British had no such luxury, and were soon defeated.

Their surviving squad - the rifle-grenades - retreated back down the trenches.

The Germans took hits, but didn't lose any squads, as they had the numbers and initiative to be able to pull units out of the fight to recover.

To be fair this was a closer fight than it looked; The Germans did take hits, and a couple more casualties could have seen units lost at key moments, maybe handing the initiative to the British. But on the whole a careful German plan should win this each time.

Friday, 24 January 2020

HOTT 52 - Week 4 - Dwarves vs Elves

For this weeks HOTT 52 game I switched to 25mm, and played against Geoff. We had two games. I used my Dwarves in both, whilst he used Dark Elves in the first and High Elves in the second.

Geoff defended in the first game. Both our armies had a core of blades with some shooters. Geoff's were supported by warband and a hero, with a magician general. I had artillery and a hero.

Initial approaches.

On the flank I lost a a shooter, which opened up a gap in my line, exposing my artillery. Geoff charged the gun with his archers and destroyed it.

This allowed Geoff to roll up my line. My blades put up a great fight against their opposite numbers, but blade vs blade is always a hard slog, and I had no way of exploiting any advantages I gained.

Geoff polished off enough of my elements to get a win. He lost nothing.

In the second game Geoff switched to High Elves; lots of spears and shooters, some knight chariots and a hero. I swapped my artillery and an accompanying lurker, for a couple of knights (the dwarves with the spiked rollers)

Our respective heroes and the knights fought each other on my right, and I gained the upper hand, destroying both chariots.

Leaving the knights to keep the Elven hero amused I turned my hero on the flank of their spear line, and attacked with the blades.

The Dwarven crossbows were outnumbered two to one by Elven archers, but put up a great fight. mostly due to the Elves attacking in a rather scattered formation, preventing them from concentrating their fire. The Dwarves even scored a kill.

The spears were driven back, and one element was lost on the flank.

The Dwarven rollers squished the Elf hero to give the Dwarves a win.

One game each seemed a fair way to end the evening.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Back To Trench Hammer

On Sunday I went to see '1917'. I don't plan to do a review, beyond saying that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole time, and so invested in the story that I was in tears at the end.

There's little in the way of gameable actions in it (I think a variant of 'For Against Darkness' would be the best option, strangely enough), but it inspired me to get Trench Hammer and my paper WW1 squads out again. I was pondering what to play, and fishing around on the 'net for scenarios, when in some of the early Trench Hammer reports I noted that the rules were tested using variants of scenarios from a Two Fat Lardies book, Stout Hearts and Iron Troopers. So I ought it. And what  great bok it is. It has 14 historical actions in it, all designed for their Mud and Blood rules, but easily translated to Trench Hammer. There are also six scenarios based on contemporary training exercises, four from Allied manuals and two from German. In fact the basic scenarios in Trench Hammer itself are based on these. Finally there is a short but excellent essay on small unit tactics on the Western Front, with the issues covered being explained in more detail as 'solutions' to the training scenarios.

Although I've identified a couple of scenarios I'd like to try, I thought I'd reacquaint myself with the game using the basic attack on a strongpoint scenario from Trench Hammer (which is also the first training scenario in the TFL book anyway).

I set up two German rifle squads plus an HMG in some trenches. The British were assaulting with a standard platoon: one each of a rifle squad, LMG squad, bomber squad and grenade launcher squad. Both sides had one leader. I randomised the terrain. A low rise covered the British approach on the right, and a few shell-holes offered cover near their baseline, but the Germans had chosen a good position with clear fields of fire otherwise.

I based my attack on the 'solution' in the book. The bombers would come in from behind the hill, and assault the trench, supported by the rifle grenadiers. The LMG squad would lay down covering fire from cover. And the rifle squad would work around the flank to make a final bayonet attack.

The LMG squad got into immediate trouble, losing the exchange of fire with the German HMG. With the dead and wounded mounting, the squad took cover in some shellholes and was quickly out of the fight.

The bomber squad rushed over the hill, and assaulted the HMG. In a fierce fight both sides took damage, but the HMG was forced to fall back and the British entered the trench between the two rifle squads.

A poor activation roll saw the Germans wrong-footed, and only a rifle-squad responded to the British infiltration of their position. Their platoon commander led them in a counter-attack, but was immediately cut down. Another fierce close-quarters battle ensued ...

... and the battered bombers were forced to retreat.

The British rifle squad shot down the survivors of the German HMG team as they struggled to bring their weapon back into the fight. The German rifle squad was also damaged, and the British squad took it under fire to try and capitalise on their misfortune. But the Germans were in good cover, and casualties were light.

Sheltering behind the crest of the hill the bombers tried to regroup, with the British platoon commander assisting. But sustained fire from the German trench saw them scattered.

The Germans got the measure of the British rifle squad, and forced that out of the fight as well.

This left the British with just their rifle grenadiers, firing from the cover of some shell-holes. They kept up a steady fire as the Germans fired back, encouraged by the platoon commander, and eliminated one enemy rifle squad. This left the Germans with one squad as well. But it had rallied and recovered, and the British didn't have a line of fire on it. I decided that they'd withdraw, having knocked out the HMG. With most of their platoon lost this was a very sensible option.

When I've played this before I've had the defenders in just shell craters, which makes them a less difficult target. Against trenches I think the attackers need at least one more squad.

In addition to playing the game, I started making some basic barbed wire sections, using thin brown card and a silver pen.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

The ECW Portable Wargame

A few people have asked me about where they can download my ECW Portable Wargame rules. To be honest they've always been a bit sketchy and up in the air, with lots of notes scribbled on paper and some ideas just in my head. But I have now put together everything in a  readable, if not neatly formatted, manner, and they can be downloaded from my Google Drive:

ECW Portable Wargame v1.2
(I think that should work. It's actually the Google Doc in a read-only format. Once I'm happy with everything I'll replace it with a PDF.)

As with all of my rules I'm more than happy to receive comments and feedback.
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