Monday, 19 January 2015

Programmed Hill Line Defence

Like any wargamer my age I have some of those classic Charles S. Grant scenario books. Oddly enough, though, I find I don't make much use of them, aside from the inspiration to be gained from just reading them, However since many of the 'One Hour Wargames' scenarios are derived from those of Grant, I thought I'd have a go at a game based, as it were, on the source material.

I decided to have a try at the first scenario in 'Programmed Wargames Scenarios' - The Hill Line Defence. The remit is simple; one side is defending a hill line. The other is attacking.

I thought I'd use the game as an excuse to put to the test Bob Cordery's claim that if a set of square-grid rules work on an 8x8 grid, they'll work on larger ones as well. So I made myself an 8x12 grid (which easily translates to a 6'x4' table facsimile for setup purposes) and got out the GNW Swedes and Russians, plus the GNW variant of 'See The Elephant'.

I opted to be the attacker, because attacking is always more fun, and rolled the Swedes. Making a die roll based on Grant's suggested forces I got nine defending units against ten attackers. I used random army generation. I won't bore you with details, but the Swedes ended up well-endowed with artillery, whilst the Russian, inevitably, got a couple of guard infantry units.

I did all of the rolls, got to deploy after the Russians, made a plan (in lieu of the retro 'writing orders' that Grant's scenarios assume) and generated the Russian defence, which was to sit tight come what may. I gave myself the traditional One Hour Wargames limit of 15 turns to pull off a victory, but also added in an army-morale roll; once an army had lost more than five units, they rolled a D6 each turn, with a roll equal to or less than the excess indicating that they gave up.

Here's the battlefield, adapted to a grid and my terrain selection with a few compromises. The Russians are on the hill line to the left. My gallant Swedes are on the right.

With woods on my right flank I decided to attack with my left, where I could be assured of the cavalry support I love so much. Unfortunately the right flank was, of course, where the best Russian infantry was. In the centre I used the artillery to keep the defenders there busy. As a plan it didn't come to much. The village really split my attack into two halves.

Marching on the hill ...

... and in we go!

I chucked in everything in a furious assault, needing to take this end of the ridge before the Russians could bring troops over from the unengaged flank.

The fighting was desperate and bloody. A couple of times I gained a foothold on the ridge, only to be throw off.

The Russians started to march reinforcements over from the other flank.

I kept attacking.

But it was all for naught - my army quit at the first opportunity. To be fair the assault on the Russian right had been totally routed, and I was left with a weak centre and a lot of artillery, which wasn't really going to make much impression on the still strong Russian defence.

So did the rules work for a larger game? Yes they did. The activation rolls did require a nice big handful of dice (ten in the case of the Russians), and tracking which units were being activated needed markers rather than just memory, but otherwise the game worked just fine. In a fit of foresight I had added march movement anyway, so units out of close proximity to the enemy can be shunted around as reserves very nicely. And the roads helped too at the start, enabling the Swedish cavalry to get into position.

I enjoyed the game so much that I set up another one. But that's for another post ...


  1. Sounds like a real fun action, and an exciting one. I quite like 'set piece' actions like this as a test of rules, a test of tactical ideas, and just for fun, too. I felt, though, that 10 units against 9 was perhaps setting the Swedes a truly formidable task, lacking the means to hold the unengaged Russian flank in place. Interesting exercise.

    1. I'd agree, but that seems to be the kind of odds the original scenario was offering. However I may adjust them for any replay.

      However a Swedish army is always at its finest attacking against the odds :)

  2. That sounded a lot of fun, almost made it when you got a toe hold on the ridge too...Ian


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