27 February 2015

Winter War Test Scenario

Finnish Propaganda Poster
After a year of planning, painting and gathering, I finally got to play a Winter War scenario using the Chain of Command rules. Things generally went well, some adjustments in the terrain need to be made and there is still some work to do on the campaign design.

For the test game, I went with the simplest scenario from the CoC rule book "The Patrol". Here we have two forces, who have yet to make contact carefully advancing through no-man's land to see where the other is. In our Raate Road campaign this represents the early stages of the battle where the Finns are advancing north through the snow covered forest from Vuokkijärvi to locate the Soviet 44th Rifle Divisions positions along the Raate Road.
This was going to be an interesting game, as I had a platoon of Elite Finns and Mike had a platoon of Green Soviets. This meant that although I had 6 Command Dice and Mike had 4 and an advantage in starting morale, Mike had twice as many men and almost 4 times the support options. We diced for Morale, I started with 10 and Mike 7, I had 3 supports and he had 12. I picked the a Satchel Bomb and an an Anti-Tank Team. While Mike took a KhT-26 Flame Tank, a BA7 as well as a Maxim MG Team.
I started my Patrol Markers in the lower right, Mike started in the upper left. 
I did not do well with 2 of my JOP's behind some snow drifts and 1 in the upper right.I got a sense we were doing something wrong here, I find this the toughest part of the game. 
Mike had one JOP in the forest and the other 2 in the forest.
I laid down a LMG section behind the drifts in the northeast sector, Mike put down a Maxim Team on the hill to the west just outside of the photo. Although Elite, my teams are brittle because of their size and the Soviets appeared to be making short work of them, a HMG has a short range of 24" and takes cover down a notch so I was being pounded.
Meanwhile I had put down a Anti-Tank team in the middle of the forest, which was a useless move and they were soon threatened by a large Soviet squad in the forest. Time to take off.
It took work but I was slowly killing of the Maxim team.............
...............but as you can see I lost my rifle team in the process, first morale loss to the Finns.
Time to send in another LMG section, Mike immediately plunked down another Soviet squad but not before I took out the Maxim team, I almost immediately had a lucky shot and took out 1 of his SL's and soon after another JL, the Soviet morale was plummeting. The tide was turning. My second LMG team was now in close range of two Soviet squads. 
My Anti-Tank Team running away, with one of my SL's.
By now the Soviet squad in the woods had taken a ton of shock from the Finns from the south and from the northeast. Time to declare Rynnäkköön (very similar to the German Handgranten). My SMG section attacks the Soviets throwing grenades while advancing contact is made. The Soviet squads breaks, another SL and JL dies. Finnish Victory on morale.
I made a lot of mistakes in this game and I still have a sense that we are messing up the Patrol phase, but otherwise the terrain and forces were workable. I am going to pull out a few trees from the stands to make it a little easier to get through the forests.

There is still lots of work to do on the campaign structure, but I am hoping it will be a fun and interesting campaign.

Anyway I will leave you with some photos of two other games that were going at the Hobby Bunker at the same time. First up was another winter game during the SYW, absolutely beautiful set up. I think now that I should of went with 18 mm for Napoleonic gaming, they are less fun to paint but they are just great for large games. The second game was an modern urban Southern Sudan game. I just love that UN compound, all the buildings are scratch built. great stuff.

26 February 2015

Engagement at Kalisz

My gaming will switch back to Montreal this weekend. We will be playing Lasalle, the first Napoleonic game in over a year for our small group. I put together a fictional scenario for the 1809 period so we could get some of our new troops on the table. Myself and Nico will be taking on Iannick and Rusti.

What will be particularly interesting for me personally is that this will be the first IGO-UGO game I have played in well over a year. This year's gaming has been taken up with Chain of Command and Dux Britanniarum, two games with variable activation. I am not sure how it will go with me.

We really have put work in on a lot of different Napoleonic rulesets over the years and I have to admit they all have had drawbacks to me or others in our gaming group.

Anyway, we will have to see. I am looking forward to getting a game in with my friends there.

23 February 2015

Chronica Iohannes: Massacre on the Swale

We had another battle in our Dux campaign about 10 days ago and it did not go well for the Britons. In a stunning reversal of fortune, the Saxons got a +6 victory. You can see the AAR on Adam's blog.

He really played a great game, by avoiding my shieldwall and maneuvering into positions where he could chip away at my troops. I do not remember the exact numbers but I believe I lost 23 men to Adam's 7. Really a great Saxon victory.

But the worse was yet to come, as Adam had won a battle he could now lay siege to one of my provinces. The length and success of a siege is decided by a single dice roll and Adam threw a 2, really an extremely lucky toss, as the siege only lasted a month before he took the province of Caterick. What was worse is that he now has raised his warlord to a King, has gained another unit of warriors and was able to gain two more gold in an uncontested raid in the month of July, 553.

Well I really will have to pull up my socks in our upcoming battle, hopefully this week.

05 February 2015

Winter War Terrain

I have been quite negligent in respect to posting on my blog recently, aside from posting AAR's from my two campaigns, I have gone pretty quiet. Unlike most of the competitors in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I have not even posted my entries. Although I have been quite busy with gaming and painting figures for the challenge most of my focus as actually been on terrain design, acquisition and assembly. I was hoping to write a post about my northwestern Europe WWII terrain project, but I have just not had a chance to assemble a lot of photos. But of course you can see most of it in my recent 29, Let's Go campaign AAR's.

I have put a lot of work recently into some WWII Winter War and Stalingrad terrain projects, there is some overlap here, but I have just finished putting together the terrain for my Raate Road campaign project for Chain of Command. I have put together some photos finally so I thought I would show it off. What you see below is the layout for the final scenario in the campaign "Attack on the Border Post".

Looking east at the border station near the village of Raate on the Finnish-Soviet border.
The mat is from Cigar Box Battle Mats. Really not much bad you can say about these mats, they look great. I could have got one without the road, but it is easy enough to hide parts of it with the tree bases. Folds up quite small and easy to transport and I suspect easy to wash. It is made out of thin fleece. 
Looking west, the border station is to the left with a farm to the right.
This pdf building is from Sgts' Mess, a wargaming company specializing in 20 mm stuff for WWII. It was easy enough to assemble and paint, I will definitely buy more of them.
The hill was made from styrofoam, shaped with a propane torch (outside) and then painted. I dressed it up with some rocks and Winter Tufts from Army Painter. The little snow drifts in the foreground are from Gale Force Nine, I thought they would be bigger when I ordered them but they are small. Cover is very important in CoC, dressed them with some tufts also.
These group of buildings are from Pegasus Models, quite cheap and easy to assemble. They are hard plastic the roofs come off but they have no floor.  Easy enough to paint.
The small tree bases and trees as well as the bases for the fir trees are also from Gale Force Nine. The road blocks made from logs are also from Sgts' Mess, I think I will need more. Made from resin and quite easy to paint.
The snowy firs are from Grand Central Gems. I drilled a hole through the bases and used a very thin superglue to fix them in place. I am hoping these are not too tough to transport. These trees are quite cheap unlike a lot of their products and are quite robust. They were dressed up with flock from Army Painter as well as some from 4-Ground.
Some ponds from Gale Force Nine. I flocked the edges and added some tufts.
A Finnish Sniper.
The pdf fencing is from Sgts' Mess, and excellent product. The entrenchments are from Gale Force Nine.
Russian Commanders safe near the daccha!

01 February 2015

Chronica Iohannes: Massacre at Bovia

We had another game in our Dux campaign last Thursday. Adam elected to have a battle and this time we had lots of time so we played the full pre-game phase. It really was a lot of fun. Adam was able to increase his Fate Card Hand to 6 cards as well as increasing his Lord's Status to IV. I was able to increase my morale to 10 after a successful contest between my champion Uther and the Saxon champion Wulfric. The Saxons started with a morale of 7.

You can see a full battle report with photos on Adam's blog. Essentially again it was a frontal assault by the Saxons with some maneuvering on the Briton's left flank. The Saxon's advance was to my left. I was able to hold my troops together and quickly formed a shield wall with my levy. I kept my warriors in reserve and protected my left flank with my elites. This was a pretty successful strategy. I think we now found a frontal assault on a British shield wall is a pretty unsuccessful tactic. Adam did have some bad luck with his dice but the outcome was very much in favour of the Britons. I lost 7 men and Adam lost 25 men in a contested withdrawal. I ended up with a 7+ victory, thus the battle has been entitled the Massacre at Bovia.

We again made a few mistakes. Although I was unsuccessful in my attempt, I did try to have my elites form a shield wall with my levy, which the rules forbid. Supporting units in combat were also not brought into until the second round of combat which is wrong. We also have a tendency to misinterpret the rules at the end of the game. Adam felt that he had lost the campaign as his men needed d6+6 months to recover which brought him through the winter without money to pay his taxes. This was I found to be incorrect, as he can elect to have one more do or die battle. 

We did put together a quick Campaign House Rule to get ourselves out of this perceived dilemma. One of my Nobles Cadfael had been captured in an earlier raid so we invented a Ransom rule, which allows a Lord to ransom captured Nobles. Throw a d6, 4+ requires 2 gold as a ransom, less than 1 gold. Adam threw a 4, so I paid 2 gold to get back Cadfael. I had ended the campaign turn with 5 gold, so I used 3 gold to elevate my Lord Antoninus to a Legatus. I also was allowed to gain reinforcements, I skipped over the skirmishers and elected to go with 6 more warriors. I now have 4 nobles (which the rules allow) and have increased my men by 8 since the beginning to the campaign. I am unfortunately again penniless!

20 January 2015

Chronica Iohannes: The Battle on the Bank of the Tees

Last Thursday after a brief Xmas break we had the next installment in our Dux campaign. Adam has now made his Saxon leader a warlord so we had our first battle. It was an extremely close game with very few casualties, 7 figures lost by the Britons and 9 by the Saxons. Fortunately my levy shieldwall was able to withstand the Saxon assault and the Saxons made an uncontested withdrawal. Time was a little short for this our first battle so there were no pre-battle festivities, but I suspect that many songs will be sung, much mead will be taken and there will be a clash between our champions in our next battle tentatively scheduled for next week. As usual an excellent AAR can be found on the Fencing Frog Blog.

11 January 2015

29, Let's Go: Home Run at Osmanville

Tactical Situation: 
The German morale has risen somewhat after the German victory at Cardonville. Leutnant Fuchs had already withdrawn his troops to the German HQ in Osmanville. The victory at Cardonville had given his troops time to add some extra defenses. Their morale fell somewhat though when they saw that their reinforcements were Russian Hiwis and artillery gunners. Leutnant Fuchs carefully cleaned his MP40 and prepared for yet another fresh American assault.

Yesterday, we played our 7th and 8th games (sort of gives it away on who won game 7) in our Normandy campaign. Although the Germans had won the 4th scenario (game 5), I felt it best to make another tactical withdrawal, bringing us to our 7th game. This was the final scenario in the campaign. In this scenario, the Germans had their original platoon from the the first and second scenarios. I was down 8 riflemen and had 13 supports so I had elected to take the support option of the Hilfswillinge Volunteers, thus adding another -1 to my morale. I also took 2 minefields, an FO, and HMG team. I already had 1 barbed wire defense because of my tactical withdrawal in game 6. Mike had 19 supports. I believe he took a Sherman, 50mm Mortar, HMG team and a FO. The Patrol Phase went well for me, as Mike only got 1 free move and I was able to hold his JOP's to his side of the terrain. Mike started with a morale of 9 and I had a morale of 8, not bad for having to take a -2.

I again played cautiously bringing on just my HMG team and FO in the first phases of the game. The HMG team was again of little value as it was just outside of 24" of American front line. The FO was of more value though as I brought him on with the SL and was able to get off a bombardment pretty early, I gambled and shot it off without an aiming shot and landed right on target. Mike had two squads and 2 support teams in the area of the bombardment. I placed the FO and the SL in a two story building but also added one squad just outside in order to soak up the long range hits from the Sherman on the building. This worked well as the Germans were able to pulverize the Americans who suffered a morale loss about 90 minutes into the game. I had lost my HMG team only and was able to take out 24 men before Mike's morale failed. This was the quickest game we have had.
My 4th patrol marker is under the iPad. This Patrol Phase was a good result for me. 
Easy enough to see the 3 American JOP's. 
I have two JOP's in the orchard and one behind the hedge on my left flank as well as one in the Stone House (German HQ)
A bunched American advance which was to be their undoing once the mortars starting falling.
The American left flank, with a squad advancing and the FO behind the hedge. 
The German HMG team securely behind the wall. Two land mine fields also protecting the approach.
The Americans start their advance down the road.
Off table Heavy Mortar team 
A well placed mortar bombardment. Actually I was lucky as I did not aim.
My second bombardment was even better having 4 infantry teams, a HMG team, the FO as well a 50 mm light mortar team caught in it. This was to prove the American's undoing.
Game over with 24 casualties on the American side. I still had two squads and a Panzerschreck in reserve.

It was only 1pm so we decided to have a quick lunch and move on to Game 8. The terrain takes at least an hour to set up and I was happy to do this. I have to admit I was pretty pleased as this is a tough game for the Germans and I had now denied the Americans a complete victory.

I quickly did the post game throws, and although my men's opinion had gone up by 2, but I still had a -2 on morale. My CO's opinion had also gone up so I got one more support. My supports were the same as the first game, but I took an adjutant. Mike now had 25 supports, he took an extra Sherman. Both the patrol phase and the Morale throw did not go well for me as in the first game. Mike was able to put a JOP in one of the buildings half way down the terrain. He had a starting Morale of 11 while I had a starting Morale of 7!

Mike was more careful this time spreading his advance out so he was not caught in a single bombardment. I was slower to get my FO working and when I did get one off it was never as effective as in the first game. Before I knew it the two American had seized the midground and were in heavy cover behind stone walls. Mike also threw several double 6's and I was doing poorly on the Morale table. I used the cover of the bombardment to scoot one of my squads across open ground to protect the American advance on my left flank. Mike then threw a another double 6 and a 5 thus getting a Chain of Command dice.  He was able to end the turn, remove the smoke and mow down my troops in the open. I was down to a Morale of 2, so I decided to withdraw as it was pretty hopeless.
Much less successful this time.
A very unsuccessful Panzershreck team, the Shermans caused a lot of damage.
My bombardment in this game was a lot less successful only capturing one US squad.
The Americans getting dangerously close.
One of my squads caught in the open, this was my undoing and their destruction ended the game.

So a Marginal American victory in my first CoC campaign, it was really a great time. Hopefully we can start another campaign soon, this time most likely Winter War. I am working on putting the campaign together now, I am thinking a campaign along the Raate Road set in January 1940 and this time I will be the attacker!