Sunday, 1 March 2015

One-Hour Wargames - Scenario 5 - Bridgehead

Scenario 5 in 'One-Hour Wargames' sees one side having made a river crossing, and gradually reinforcing it, whilst the other side rushes troops from all points of the compass in order to contest it.

For this scenario I decided to firstly move away from South America and, secondly, try one of the other sets of rules in the book, albeit with some of the modifications I've been applying to the Horse and Musket rules.

I went for the Machine Age rules, which cover 1900 to 1939, with a focus on WW1. And I decided to use my hair-roller WW1 armies. I wanted to field tanks, so I decided to set the game during teh German offensive of March 1918. This allowed me to just about justify the use of German tanks.

As with all of the One-Hour Wargames rules, there are four unit types. In this case they are Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery. The first is obvious. The second represents infantry with extra assets - the author says machine-guns, but it could be elite troops or those that are well-supported with any additional equipment. Cavalry just shoot, and are obviously a bit weak in this era, whilst Artillery represents direct-fire field-guns. Tanks are mentioned as an option, so for this game I decided to have them replace the Cavalry. However the Germans could still only have one unit of Tanks; a second would be Heavy Infantry instead.

I chose to depict Heavy Infantry with an aircraft model, to show their extra support.

Rules changes were as follows:

  • I used the multiple dice system for hits - 1D6-2 gives 1 dice, 1D6 gives 2 dice and 1D6+2 gives 3 dice. Roll them, and inflict a  hit for each 4,5, or 6. Cover allows a save on a 4,5 or 6 against each hit. 
  • Units are removed when they take 5 hits.
  • Units can pivot at the start or the end of the ove. If they do both then they can only move half distance.
  • For Tanks I had them move 6", fight with 1D6+2 and automatically get a cover save. However each time they moved they rolled 1D6-2 against themselves, with no save (potential mechanical breakdown).
  • Tanks and Heavy Infantry were considered support troops, which meant that their loss could adversely affect other troops around them When a unit of Tanks or heavy Infantry is destroyed, any friendly unit within 6" takes 1D-2 hits. Units with the Support trait get armour/cover saves against this to represent the fact that their morale is a little better.

The latter change is to cover the fact that Tanks are quite good and that heavy Infantry are better than regular Infantry with no real penalty. I like to have a little balance in my games ...

I played on a 16" square board, with units on a 40mm frontage. One inch became 1cm.

The Germans were attacking, and started with stormtroopers having just made the crossing of a strategic canal.

British troops rush to block them; infantry and field-guns appeared on he hill commanding the crossing. The British were lucky with these opening troops and their position, as it put their field guns in a commanding position early on.

The Germans took cover in the woods, whilst more supported infantry came up to reinforce them.

The second batch of British reinforcements appeared - infantry in the rear of the German troops in the wood.

More Germans were pushing along the road, including some A7V tanks.

The Germans consolidated their bridgehead, under fire from the field-guns.

The Germans in the wood turned to face the threat in their rear. They were outnumbered, but had cover and greater firepower. Would it be enough?

British tanks appeared.

The intial force of British infantry took a right pasting from the Germans, and routed.

The position about six moves into the game. In the foreground the Germans were defending the wood, whilst one of their infantry units moved up in support on the other side of the canal. Meanwhile the tanks engaged each other, those of teh British supported by their field-guns whilst the Germans still laid down heavy fire from their supported infantry.

Tank vs Tank!

The field-guns did their job, and the German infantry routed.

The British attack on the woods was successful as well, and the Germans retreated there.

The British now controlled the wood. This gave them troops in cover within range of the crossing, which would prevent a German victory. At the same time another German infantry unit was lost defending the bridge.

Both sides continued to trade fire. The British tanks were all destroyed or immobilised.

Heavy fire from the British infantry, however, made the position of the German infantry near the bridge untenable, and another unit was lost ...

... whilst the field-guns finished off the German tanks.

The British were now in a strong position, with a ring of fire surrounding the bridgehead, and the Germans only having one unit to push into it.

However night was falling - this was the last turn of the game. Even a single German unit on the British side of the river would contest the crossing and force a draw. The Germans crossed.

So the fight ended in a draw, although the Germans had taken far more casualties. The tanks proved very resilient, but stars of the show were the British field-guns, which steadily dished out casualties throughout the game, and the British infantry assaulting the woods, who achieved their aim more quickly than expected and therefore prevented the Germans from consolidating their bridgehead.

Whilst I wasn't particularly overwhelmed with this particular set of rules - I found them somewhat lacking in flavour - I'l probably give them another go sometime.

Follow the rest of the scenario refights HERE

Saturday, 28 February 2015

One-Hour Wargames - Scenario 4 - Take The High Ground

The fourth scenario in One Hour Wargames is a simplified version of a Charles S Grant one; one in fact that I played a few weeks ago. One force has some troops defending a hill towards the centre of the table. The other army gets to attack with an overwhelming force, but the defenders have reinforcements on the way. Victory goes to whoever controls the hill at the end of the battle.

Once again I chose to use Liberated Hordes to play the scenario, but this time I used the full version. Instead of each side having six units/elements I used twelve on each side; it's easy enough to just double the initial deployment and reinforcements. In addition, whilst control of the hill after 15 turns was the victory condition, I implemented the normal HOTT conditions as well, so loss of half of its elements would cause an army to be defeated as well.

I classed all elements as Regular and both generals as Average.

A force of Chilean Patriots, with artillery support, were defending a strategic hill on the road to Santiago.

As dawn breaks, a large Royalist army marched into view. The infantry in the centre marched on the hill, whilst cavalry moved to outflank the Patriot position.

Hope for the Chileans arrived in the form of Argentinian reinforcements.

The Royalists attacked the hill. The Patriot general had ridden ahead to rally the defenders whilst the reinforcements moved into position.

 The Patriots engaged the Royalist right flank. The Royalists would take most of their losses here.

The Chileans fought bravely, but had lost half of their force already.

The Royalists charged, and the outnumbered defenders fell back.

The Royalist cavalry had been slow working around the flank; an initial attempt had been driven back by musketry and they were shy about trying again. However with the hill defenders now pretty well broken the cavalry tried again. By this time, though, the Patriot cavalry that had arrived with the reinforcements was riding across to engage them.

On the Royalist right the Patriot infantry was slowly turning their flank.

An overview of the battle. In the foreground the cavalry engaged each other, whilst on the hill the Chileans were being driven off. In the background the Patriot reinforcements consolidated their position.

As more Chileans routed, the Royalist infantry formed up to meet the threat of the Argentinian reinforcements. The Royalist general was on fire this bound; with six PIPs he pretty much rearranged his whole army in response to the enemy advance.

The final Chilean unit was routed, and the Patriot general was killed trying to rally it.

The cavalry continued to fight. The Royalist cavalry had infantry support, however, so had an edge despite having lost one of their elements earlier in the fight.

The two infantry lines formed up. With no general, though, the Patriots were sluggish in their actions.

Despite this, the Argentinians formed up and managed a slow advance, eliminating the last of the Royalist right flank units on the way.

The cavalry fight had become more dispersed, and some Royalist elements were in danger through blocked recoils. But the Patriots couldn't get the winning combat scores they needed to exploit the advantage.

A Patriot cavalry unit was surrounded and destroyed. This actually left both armies one element away from defeat.

The infantry firefight continued, and it was a Patriot unit which routed to give the Royalists the victory.

A view of the final position from behind the Patriot line. Both sides played 11 of the 15 bounds available to them.

The victorious Royalist general. pretty much stood at the point where his counterpart fell.

One rule change I did try in this game was to disallow the 'free' shooting HOTT elements have, which allows easy ganging up on enemy elements (plus support shooting ganging up in return). Instead elements with an enemy directly in front of them had to shoot at one of them. This allowed a certain amount of ganging up, especially if one side had a firing line longer than the other, but actually simplified combat resolution which otherwise gets quite complicated. This has the effect of making firefights somewhat less decisive than getting stuck in with the bayonet, where overlaps can be used to give combat advantage, which very much fits in with battle accounts of the period.

I quite like this scenario, although I think it's slightly weighted towards the attacker, as they can generally take the hill with minimal casualties from its small force of defenders before the reinforcements have chance to get into position. The reinforcements are then stuck attacking the hill whilst outnumbered. However this game was close, and could have been a Patriot victory had their moves in the latter part of the game not been restricted by the loss of their general.

Follow the rest of the scenario refights HERE

Friday, 27 February 2015

Basing Ideas For Blucher

This is a fairly targeted post. Our club's Yahoo Group has been busy today discussing how one might base troops for Blucher, so I said I'd throw together some rough ideas using my 6mm South American figures and the Blucher cards. And here they are. You'll see that the cards are still sealed. Our club was one of the playtest groups, so three of us got a set of the 100 Days campaign cards. The other two have opened theirs. I haven't seen the need yet.

Here's an infantry base. The figures are Irregular Miniatures, and whilst they are mounted on 25mm x 10mm bases they actually have a frontage of 21mm and a depth of just over 5mm. So you could easily fit four ranks into the columns, and still leave a gap at the front for the skirmisher screen and a gap at the back for some mounted officers.

I don't have any bases to do infantry in line, but it would be relatively straightforward to do a double rank across the base and possibly a second line as well. I don't really know much about infantry formations of the period, so I don't know how the troops ought to be arranged.

A cavalry base. Again, the actual Irregular cavalry bases are smaller than the ones I have them mounted on, so more could be squeezed on, or the ones in this picture put closer together to show blocks of units.

Finally, some artillery. You could squeeze four guns on the base, but the spacing looks nice here.

You'll note that I haven't left room for the unit characteristics and the Elan track. To be honest that's just best tracked on a roster. All the base needs is an ID and some idea of where the centre-point of the front is. We're wargamers; we're all used to tracking other information in our heads or off-table.

I have no plans to rush off and actually paint and base any figures for Blucher, but I hope this post shows how units might look using 6mm figures in manageable numbers.

Salta and Vilcapugio

Tonight Ralph very kindly consented to go small, and play a couple of games of Liberated Hordes with me. I picked a couple of battles I'd played before, and therefore had OOBs for: Salta and Vilcapugio, both of which took place in 1813 during General Belgrano's campaign in Alto Peru.

In case you're new to this blog, Liberated Hordes is a variant of HOTT for fighting the South American Wars of Liberation. It uses the core mechanisms of the game, but has its own troop types and a few special rules of its own. It's not just HOTT with lots of Shooters ...

We set up Salta first. Ralph took Belgrano's Patriots, whilst I took Tristan's Royalists. The Patriots have numbers and quality in this battle.

Belgrano sees to his dispositions. In Liberated Hordes an general can move from element to element; he isn't permanently attached to just one. We used small stones to mark their actual position, with these little bases just being table garnish.

The lines closed and the Patriot musketry began to tell.

The Royalist line broke up.

Tristan capitulates. The Royalists lost six elements for a Patriot loss of zero.

Vilcapugio was fought eight months (or twenty minutes and a cup of tea) later. The Patriot army was still commanded by General Belgrano, but the Royalists were led by the competent General Pezuela.

I'm not sure what happened with this photo. Someone obviously shot down the drone taking it.

As the Royalist army emerged from a defile between two rocky hills, the Patriot cavalry charged them in the flank ...

... whilst using infantry to pin them from the front.

The Royalist cavalry head, and infantry on the slopes of the hill supported them in driving off the Patriots.

In the meantime Royalist reinforcements arrived in the form of more cavalry.

Belgrano personally led the surviving patriot cavalry in order to stabilise their left flank. Some infantry moved up in support.

The cavalry routed and Belgrano was captured, leaving the Patriots leaderless. The Royalist cavalry now swung onto their flank.

The militia on the Patriot left ran, whilst a push by Royalist infantry on the Patriot left routed the troops there. The Patriots fled.

Once again the Good General bonus failed me - a Good General can, once per game, roll two dice for PIPs and select the best one. I used it just as my reinforcements arrived and Ralph's line was breaking up; a golden opportunity for my army to move in a swift, coordinated manner and sweep him from the field. I rolled a 1 and a 3.

The two games took us about two hours to play. Thanks to Ralph for slumming it with teeny-tiny quantities of teeny-tiny figures.

Meanwhile Dave tutored Bryan and John in big-battle DBA 3.0, with Pastiche Chinese fighting Mongols.

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