09 December 2018

Just a Bit More Winter War

It has been a very busy 2 weeks of gaming, almost too busy and I have another game today! More about that soon but I wanted to get some photos from my 4th go at the armoured column scenario I put together for my Winter War campaign called Striking Back.

I have described the scenario multiple times before, so no need to repeat things. I believe the scenario is good to go now with the most recent change just being o the demolition rules. The demo rules in the new 1940 Blitzkrieg source book for CoC  are just much simplier than what is used in the main rulebook.

Tom wanted to play the Soviets, if you will remember he had a pretty solid victory against me a few weeks ago playing the same scenario as the Finns. In the 2 previous games, the Soviets had won once and and may have won once (we really screwed up the rules in that game so it is difficult to say who the victor was).

We met at the Hobby Bunker yesterday, the game went well and was finished in just under 3 hours which was not bad.

Green Soviets (Starting Morale 9, 5CD)
SL and JL w/infantry squad in Gaz truck
JL w/infantry squad in Gaz Truck
JL w/engineer squad in Gaz Truck
SL w/3xT26 Tank platoon
T28 Tank
2xBT-7 Fast Tanks
KhT-26 Flame Thrower Tank
Quad Maxim Team in Gaz Truck

Elite Finns (Starting Morale 11, 5+1CD)
4xJL/infantry squads
4 Molotovs
4 Smoke Pots
3 Cluster Charges
Maxim MMG Team
2 Tank Hunter Teams
2 ATR Teams

So the game started using the Delaying Action scenario from the main rulebook. The Patrol Phase was played out, you can see the position of the Patrol Markers in the 1st photo. I will let the photos tell the story from here.

The Finns get to place just 3 JOP's as can be seen in the above photo. I did not really get the best postions.
The Soviet T-28 comes on as the lead, I immediately place a ATR team and lucky enough, I hit it and actually cause 2 shock and immobolize it by blowing off a track. Bad start for the Soviets as the road is now blocked and as you can see they have some distance to get to the roadblock that they have to destroy as their victory condition.
Tom decides to bring on his Quad Maxim as well as all his infantry. He ditches his trucks.
A Finnish Infantry Squad advances cautiously w/ a Tank Hunter Team
They do the same on their right flank.
The Soviets decide to advance all their infantry through the deep snow on the Finnish left flank.
Many phases have now passed and I decide to put all my troops on the table. Tom has had all his AFV on overwatch but on my next turn I use a CoC dice to end the turn and start an all out attack, I take out a T-26 as well as the T-28, the Soviets morale is falling and they are now 5. Time to start the infantry attack. I use the ATG as well as an ATR team to do this. I have to say I was extremely lucky w/ my to hit dice. I never missed once during the game.
The attack on the Finnish left flank.
The Finns on the right flank move to cross the road w/ 2 infantry squads and an AT team and an ATR team.
I attack with 2 infantry squads and the MMG team, amazingly enough I get a double and triple phase during this attack. Tom is very unlucky w/ his leader dice and I am able to take out both Sovet Infantry JL's.  The shock piles up, both Soviet squads become pinned and then one of them breaks. I play a CoC dice to end turn, they rout and the the Soviet morale is 0, while the Finns are at a 9, a clear Finnish victory. We retire to the pub for a beer and some late lunch.

Well, I think I was pretty lucky w/ the dice in this game. Getting a double and triple phase at the end of the game really gave the Soviets no chance. It was the first clear victory I got playing this scenario so I was happy enough. I did make a minor of the game rules misinterpretation in respect to SL CI's at the end of the game to my favour but it would not have changed the outcome. It is too bad that Tom did not get a chance to blow the roadblock, the new demolition rules make it much easier to so, I believe.

So I think I can put this one to bed. We have had 2 Finnish victories and 1 Soviet victory w/ one unclear outcome in 4 games. It is a tough one for the Soviets but I believe they can win. 

In all our games we forgot to use the Wrath of the Gods Soviet National Characteristic, which is essentially a free pre-game barrage for the Soviets. I think to win that the Soviets need to bring on all their infantry first in the Gaz trucks, wheeled vehicles can move on deployment so they should be able to get up the road and ditch on the side. The scenario is set up so a CD of 4, 3 or 1 can bring on one of the trucks. With the Wrath of the Gods, the Soviets with any luck could have all their infantry and engineers dismounted within 3 phases and their Quad Maxim in good position. The Finns would still be struggling to bring on their units. They then could bring on the armour. In all 4 games we played, for some reason the Soviet player, including myself, brought on the AFV's first.

Anyway, enough for Early War on the Eastern Front, I have an EW Western Front game shortly. This will be the 2nd play of the number 2 scenario from the Hunters of Ardennes SC book. Hopefully I will get up a double AR post on the blog this week. Last Saturday, I played the scenario with Mike and the Germans had a clear victory, today I play the the Belgians again but against Greg. Let's hope I can do a little better.

02 December 2018

95th Rifles

Just to show that I have done some painting. Here we have a group of six 95th Rifles, a skirmishing unit in Sharpe Practice. I have had these on the table for 3-4 months now. They are from the now defunct Alban Miniatures line. They are really the most anatomic 28mm Napoleonic figures that I have found. I have enough Rifles for 4 units with the Big Men. They will join some French Voliquers and Sharp and Harper.

It would be nice to find some British light company figures. Keep looking I suppose.

26 November 2018

May 10, 1940: Advance to Martelange

Blitzkrieg 1940 was released for Chain of Command in the early fall.  This much anticipated  CoC source book is the first released and covers the Western Front in 1939-40. It contains several new army lists, some new rules as well 5 new scenarios. It is a great resource.

I have a good German force already in place and aside from some Early War German AFV's, I can easily field a complete force. But what force to pick on the Allied side? After having a good look through the army lists and knowing my penchant for the underdog (read Winter War Finns), I decided to go with a Belgian Force. Having the Skirmish Campaigns book Hunters of the Ardennes; I decided to go with the Chasseurs Ardennais.

Intersting core platoon with 2 very large infantry sections of 16 men as well as a D.B.T. 50mm mortar section. I will go more into the figures selected as well as the painting process in another post, but suffice to say I painted a lot of figures in 3 weeks.

Going back to the Hunters of the Ardennes booklet, I decided to go with the first scenario describing the original advance of Schützen Platoon of the 1st Panzer Division just after crossing the border of southeastern Belgium from Luxembourg as they advance toward the village of Martelange in the early morning of May 10, 1940. Trying to slow them is a platoon of Chasseurs Ardennais. The OB in the SK booklet had a squad aside with some supports but I decided to go with full platoons as laid out in the 1940 CoC source book using the Going with a Bang scenario. For details of the scenario please refer to the source book, but essentially it describes an action with a defender withdrawing before a superior attacker while carrying out demolitions to slow the advance. Just perfect for the first day of the German attack into Belgium.

Myself and Greg played the scenario this past Saturday. Since this was the first outing for the Belgians, I took the liberty of playing the defender.
The German entry is in the foreground. They are advancing to the northwest to the village of Martelange up a paved road. On their left flank is a hill with a dirt road. Their are a few wooden houses, some light forests as well as some hedges (medium obstacle blocking LOS) and a small stream (minor obstacle) to their right flank. The scenario is set up so the defender has 2 blow 2 culverts on the paved road. Once the terrain was set up I diced for both the position of culverts as well as their size. I threw high so both culverts were large (requiring a cumulative task roll of 12) but placed within 24" of my table edge.I felt this was the best result.

The present google earth view, showing very simlar contours. As ypu can see the road is right on the border. Quite a few more houses now of course. Really difficult to identify the stream so I made it quite small.
View looking to the south. The culverts were placed under the paved road on each side of the house in the near ground.
The Germans start with 4 Patrol Markers on their edge while the Belgians start 24" from their edge. As you can see this gave the Belgians quite an advantage in the Patrol Phase.
The final position of the JOP's, we decided to go with 3 each. I was quite happy to have the high ground.


Germans (First Panzer Division)-FM 8, 14 Supports
Schützen Platoon
Panzer I
Red Dice
Pre-game Barrage
Flamethrower Team
le.IG18 7.5cm Infantry Gun

Belgians-FM 10, 6 Supports
Chasseurs Ardennais Platoon with a demolition team
47mm FRC M1931 ATG 

So the game began, as usual I took few pictures. I used a new teddy bear fur mat as the base terrain, not really sure how much I like it. I think it needs to be trimed down and I need to overspray some colour variation. My Belgian basing also need some work, another spray of mat as well as some flock to the bases.
Greg advanced an infantry squad, as well as placing his IG on his left flank in response to me placing a group de combat in one of the houses and the trees on their right flank. I felt that I needed to have control of the high ground.
The Germans rain down both HE and small arms fire on the Chasseurs but a a 16 man section get take quite a bit of shock, so I was not that concerned. My goal was to get the attacker to focus on the infantry while my demolition team got to work on blowing the culverts. I had also brought in m D.B.T section at the base of the hill to cover my left flank.
Greg advances a PzI up the paved road while advancing another infantry squad to take position in one of the houses. He had also advanced another squad up his right flank. I was able to whittle these down from the Group de Combat on the hill. The pregame barrage made it very difficult for me to bring on my ATG, I believe I failed the 4 times. Unfortunately no photos were taken. You can not see it but a Belgian JOP is just behind the house and Greg rapidly advanced the Panzer on top of it and ended the turn. His squad on his right flank had already taken significant attrition and his FM was down to 5. I lost 2 FM
Ending the turn however allowed me to bring on my ATG in the next phase. First shot, the PzI was gone and the German's FM took another hit. I believe they were down to 3 by now while the Belgians still had a FM of 8. In the photo you can see the Belgian demolition team working on the 1st culvert , the marker dice show a 12 so they are all set to withdraw and blow it. A CoC dice is utilised and up goes the culvert. They adavnce around the house and place charges on the 2nd culvert.
My 1st group de combat has taken some hits but I am able to withdraw them and as noted above the 2nd group de combat deploys and fires at the decimated Geram infantry squad attempting to advance up their right flank. They are able to generate 22d6! and although at only effective range they finish off the rifle team and kill a JL, German morale hits zero, game over.
It was a pretty quick game, I wish it had gone on a little longer. I had a good patrol phase and secured the high ground quickly. I think we only had 3-4 double phases in a game which only went 2 turns, but certainly a decisive Belgian victory.

Blitzkrieg 1940 source book was well worth the wait and I look forward to getting in more games with my Belgian force. I have a game planned with Mike this Saturday I suspect he will be interested to get his Germans on the table.

28 October 2018

Striking Back-Third Go

I got together with Tom yesterday to get in another test of Striking Back, an Armoured versus Infantry encounter set during the Battle of the Raate Road in January of 1940. This is the third test now with 3 different experienced CoC players; and the scenario seems to work well. For this third version, I made some minor modifications to the terrain set up, mostly to make it a little simpler. You can find the latest version with the rest of my Winter War campaign material here in my Google Drive.

I played the Soviets this time, which was good, I had previously played the Finns twice and in this game I really wanted to focus on the CoC Roadblock rules to see how they would work in the scenario. We have had a lot of discussion on the TFL forum about Finnish Roadblocks and I had decided to go with the rules as written.
Clearing Roadblocks
A Roadblock may be cleared by an Engineer or Pioneer demolition Team. They are equipped with sufficient charges to destroy a single roadblock in a game. To do this they must spend two Phases in which they are activated adjacent to the roadblock during which time they must not lose any members killed or have any Shock inflicted. They must retire at least 9” in order to detonate the charge safely, which requires one further Phase activated. On a roll of 4 to 6 on a D6 they can declare the roadblock destroyed, after which vehicles may pass without hindrance. On a roll of 2 or 3 the road block is partially destroyed and vehicles may pass it but at slow speed only.
As you can see this is a pretty tough requirement and although I like winning, I was more focussed on destroying the Roadblock if indeed Tom selected one as a support. I was curious how the process worked.

Finns (Starting FM of 10)
2  SL's
4 Rifle Sections (2 LMG, 2 SMG) with JL's
MMG Team
Off Table Mortar
Rifle Section
AT Defense Team
Molotovs for each core Section
Smoke Pots for each core section
2 Heavy Satchel Charges

Soviets (Starting FM of 8)
As laid out in the scenario, no additional supports

The game commenced with the Soviets going first. The Finns were not able to advance their JOP's that far up the table.
From the Soviet end
The T28 and BT7 lead the Soviet advance
It looks like there is a Roadblock. The cautious Finns start their advance in the forest.
The BT7 rapidly advances to the Roadblock....big mistake. The KhT26 enters.
A Finnish Antitank team takes out the BT7, but the Flamethrower tank advances up the verge and they disappear in a puff of smoke. The battle has commenced.

Finnish Tank Hunters
The Soviet commander sends up a Gaz with a SL and a Rifle squad, they disembark and advance to outflank the Finns, they have a tough slog through the deep snow with their average advance being 3"!
The T28 advances up to the road block on the verge but gets bogged down! The Finns have launched a mortar barrage.
The Soviet slow advance on their left flank. By now the Soviets had pulled back their Flamethrower tank but started to advance their T26 platoon. They also send out a 2nd Gaz truck with a second Rifle squad which disembarks and trudges through the snow on their right flank.

The KOed BT7 was a real pain as it blocked LOS from the road so the T26 platoon had to advance up the verge. I only could get LOS from 2 of them on the Finns on the right flank (unfortuantely I forgot that the T26 had a top mounted MMG so their fire power utilised was a measly 4HE)
Time to send out the engineers, you can see them advancing along the road accompanied by a truck mounted Quad Maxim team. We played that the Soviets could ditch their trucks after their troops disembarked.
A real traffic snarl which was my main tactical error. The Quad Maxim had no LOS.

Some infantry action 

Two Soviet Demo Teams
The Soviets despite sending 2 Demolition teams in with the T28 giving covering fire, they get rapidly chopped up by the Finns in the forest.

Tom pops another Finnish  squad on the table by now the Soviet moarle is 1, time to pull out.
Well it was a good game, with the Finns winning with a FM of 5 to the Soviet's FM of 1. All three games have worked well with none of the experienced CoC players offering any major criticisms. All games were close with the Soviets winning the first time around, the second game was very close with a intial Soviet win but a major error was made at the end with the Finnish SL taking a FM test which he should not have taken at a time when both sides FM was 4. Our game above was a good victory for the Soviets.

I certainly made a few errors and Tom played an excellent game, holding back his Finns until he had a good advantage and then disappearing back into the forest. The Soviet player does have a pretty tough time advancing his AFV's up the road. Having a KOed tank blocking the road right at the road block was a major error as it blocked the LOS for the rest of my armour. It also stopped me from giving good covering fire to the demolition squad when it attempted to blow the Roadblock. I have to say though I think it is almost a futile task for the Soviets to take out this road block.

I think I may modify the scenario to give the Soviets an option to take another Rifle squad rather than the Engineering squad but I will give it a bit more thought. I really do not want to enlarge the game as it is already quite big.

23 October 2018

Into the Slaughter

Myself and Adam had another game of SAGA last Thursday. The game went much smoother than our last and I believe we are finally getting a good grasp of the subtle rules changes from version 1 to version 2.

We took another scenario from More Saga Battles, this time we played Into the Slaughter. You can download the scenario here. Essentially it is a scenario that you can win only by killing the enemy Warlord or forcing him off the centre part of the terrain. Adam decided to go with a 6 point Norse-Gael Warband while I stayed with my trusty Vikings. I did however go with a very novel composition for me.

Ragnar Lothbrok
2 units of Hearthguard
Steppe Nomad Mercenaries
2 units of Javelin armed Levy

3 units of Warriors (mixture of javelins and dane-axes)
3 units of Hearthguard (some with dane-axes)

Basic layout with Vikings in foreground. The 3 patches of bushes running vertically in the centre are the markers with which the Warlords need to stay within M. My plan is to assault with my javelin armed levies being supported by my warlord in the centre with a unit of hearthguard as bodyguards. I kept my mercenaries to my right as a harrying force, they can move 3M in a single move which makes them useful in this support role.
Crazed Norse-Gaels
More crazed Norse-Gaels. They have a very interesting Battleboard which I felt was going to be quite a challenge.
The Viking Line
The Steppe Nomads with composite bows. Only with 4 Attack dice but reroll 1's. Unfortunatelmy they were quite ineffective as they scored few hits and I believe Adam saved almost all of them
Good old Ragnar, gives Determination to all troops with S, Resilence of 2 and generates 2 SAGA die.
My initial plan went well and I was able to take out a Hearthguard unit with my suicidal levy with a good utilazation of 3 Viking BB abilities. It could have gone a little better as I lost 8 levy thus losing a SAGA dice. In a second follow up assault with my Hearthguard I further weakened the Norse-Gaels but lost 2 Hearthguard, as you can see both the left flank units withdraw letting the right flank followup.
Adam advances his javelin armed warriors as I send in my mercenaries to keep the Norse-Gaels on the hill out of the battle.
I take out the Warriors but the battle is costly and I lose my Hearthguard unit. I still have a good advantage in SAGA dice though, I believe Adam is now down to 3, while I still have 5.
Adam sends in a hearthguard unit to support his Warlord. I still have a 2 man hearthguard unit which I now send in to attack his Warlord. This works out well as I again use stacked SAGA BB abilities I am able to score many hits and take out all but one of his Hearthguard (they drop like flies as bodyguards) and exhaust his Warlord.
I send in Ragnar to finish off the Norse-Gael warlord but I have exhausted all my BB abilities and go in with just 8 Attack dice, it should be enough but Adam has reserved several BB abilities which make me nervous. I decide to start to take down his fatigue to increase the probability of my hits suceeding. I shuld never have done this as I need just one hit to get through and by taking down his fatigue I not only give him back his Resilience but also allow him to rapidly increase his Attack dice through the Norse-Gael combat pool. He is now throwing I think 14 die, melee takes place and we both die. A draw!
It was a good game, unfortunately I blew the last battle, should never have removed the Norse-Gael Warlord's fatigue, by doing so I gave him innumerable Attack die as well as restoring his Resilience. I will know better the next time.

In respect to the scenario, it was not as good as the last one from MSB, we could have easily went on for hours as there was no turn limits or slaughtering points. The only way one could win is my killing the Warlord and it would have been very easy to play defensively.  Clearly we decided not to!