14 December 2016

French Recruits

A couple of days ago I received the latest recruits for my French Napoleonic force. These were painted by Big Battalions in Thailand. They really do an excellent job and I can recommend them without reservation. With this addition I have completed my core force for the French. Although we see most units in pre-bardin uniform the OB is from Salamanca 1812. I have also had the opportunity to obtain Flagdude standards for the force.

Old Guard Grenadiers, Chasseurs and 3/13e legere.
French Cavalry and Infantry Colonels
A unit of French Horse Artillery
1,2 27e ligne
1,2,3 50e ligne
I was missing a few figures for my British Peninsular force, so I got these painted as well.
12th Portuguese Caçadores
British Cavalry Colonels
As you can see Big Battalions do a nice job right down to the bases, all the figures are on metal bases so they are stored in magnetized drawers. I am very pleased.

My French force, 30 battalions with command stands and 2 artillery batteries, I still have some work to do on my cavalry force basing so I will post those separately
Foy's 1e Division with the 6e legere, and the 69e ligne in Chemineau's brigade and the 39e ligne and 76 ligne in Desgravier's brigade. Colonels for each regiments as well as a ADC for Foy. 
Clausel's 2e Division with the 25e legere as well 27e ligne in Berlier's brigade. Barber's Brigade has the 50e and 59e  ligne
An 1810 Guard force with 2 units of Old Guard and 3 units of Young Guard
Four Regiments Etranger as well as the 13e legere
I think that will do it for now with the French, I may add some Germans and Swiss but that will be in the distant future, if at all (I did get some Flagdude standards just in case!)

12 December 2016

Martlet: Pushing On

We played our 4th game in the Marlet campaign this past Saturday, again at the Hobby Bunker. This was scenario 3 (Attack and Defend) from the book and scenario 2 in the campaign. This is quite a different game from the first scenario as there is no specific objective and the terrain was quite busy with very little clear LOS and a lot of cover.

British approach in the far ground, the only direct LOS is down the asphalt road. The forests block LOS even from the second story windows of the houses.
Final position of the Patrol Markers, you can see my new dice.
Position of the JOPs. I believe I should have been a little more aggressive in my push forward, as you can see the German JOPs are barely in front of the their start line.
Game 4:
Mike got 10 and I got 8 on Force Morale. This is low starting FM for the British has been a continued handicap. Mike is +3 on his FM throw and I am -1, so it will continue.

British Supports (16):
2" Mortar
German Supports (8):
Forward Observer
Rifle Team

We both started this game with depleted platoons, I was missing 8 men and Mike 2. We had gone 4 games and I was just starting on table 2, this is going to be a tough campaign for me to win. To get a marginal victory, I have to take  6 tables by turn 11 (we added a turn on the first day due to errors that favoured the Germans).  So I have 1 table at turn 4! I decided to not take an extra infantry and more to rely on Armour. I thought Mike might take an extra Panzer IV, guessed wrong. Mike decided to buttress his panzergrenadier squads with riflemen.

My new dice served me relatively well in this game, but unfortunately at the wrong times. I got 6 free moves with my patrol markers, I think I could have been a little more aggressive with my push forward but I wanted my advance to be on a broad front.

In the first several throws of the Command Dice, I got 3 double sixes, but unfortunately this was of little value in this Attack and Defend game as Mike had a lot of difficulty getting his troops on the table because of the British Artillery Barrage. Lots of moves but to where, there were no German units to attack. I probably could of captured a JOP but this was of little value early in the game as I did not have a Chain of Command dice. All the German JOP's were in exposed positions and close together which would have made them hard to hold on to.

Notwithstanding this, I advanced one section up the road under the cover of smoke and easily captured the central compound. I also deployed my Bren team with a JL in the barn which had the JOP in it. There was one slit which allowed a clear LOS up the dirt road to the forest where I suspect Mike would deploy his troops.

Mike deployed his Panzer IV on his left flank, so I deployed my Firefly. Twelve d6 vs 6d6 (should be a piece of cake), I had 3 shots at the Panzer IV, hit it each time and the best I could do was equal hits!  Mike fires back at the Firefly, kaboom, down 2 FM. I bring on my Sherman, again I hit it twice, again no damage. The Panzer fires back, and hits the damn thing twice, Shock forces the crew to abandon the tank and now my FM is down to 5.

Mike has now advanced his FO and one panzergrenadier squad through the forest on his right flank, I manage to cause some shock and wound a JL, we fire back and forth, my section is the first to get pinned, as he now gets some double 6's on his command throws. He also gets of his off table mortar which envelopes two of my JOP's. I have one section in reserve and he has 2 squads in reserve.

Decision time...........I use my one Chain of Command dice to end the turn and withdraw my troops successfully. I have only lost 3 men and Mike one, but I can see that I am not going to be able to force the Germans off the table. Another German victory. 
Section 1 deploys..........
..........and gamely advances up the road under cover of smoke
Panzergrenadiers advancing with FO
The section gets stuck in but get pinned first by the PGs.
This Panzer IV was indestructible
First time the Firefly has seen a game and up it goes.
The German off table mortar closes off the centre of the table.
Mike played a great game and really stymied my advance. I could whine about losing both tanks but that is how it is, I do not think my plan was bad. If I took out the Panzer IV I would have been able to advance both tanks up my right flank. We are hoping to get our next game in the first week of January, I really need to get off table 2 and only have 7 more turns left to move through 5 tables! Mike's +4 throw on the FM is going to continue to be a real killer.

26 November 2016

Martlet: Onwards to Fontenay

We got our next game of Operation Martlet in today, again played at the Hobby Bunker in Malden. My dicing was abysmal again but we did move off table 1 to table 2.
New table lay out with added road
Patrol Phase
British JOP's
German JOP's
How it looked on the terrain map, not really successful as the first 3 games. Not having a JOP in the house at the bottom was a significant handicap, as I could not deploy to the right of the house.
Game 3:
Mike got 11 and I got 8 on Force Morale. This is starting to be a real drag as well.

British Supports (17):
2" Mortar
Regular Infantry Section
2 Jeeps
Churchill AVRE
German Supports (7):
Panzer IVH

The Germans have won the first 3 games, but they had a significant advantage because of the error in respect to the size of the Panzergrenadier teams. Because of this the Germans went into this game with a significant advantage in their Force Morale throw and an extra support point. I had 9 men already permanently lost from the campaign, so I had to make a decision to bring on replacements or not. I decided to do so and added 10 men so I started this game almost with a full complement of troops. 

Although I had 3 free moves in the Patrol phase, my JOP's were in slightly worse position than the first 3 games. I got a section in the crop filed in the upper left of the terrain and put them on tactical. I got another squad in the house on the second floor and put both 2 teams on overwatch. Looking good so far, Mike makes his first command throw, gets 3 sixes! Turn ended two PG squads placed on the terrain. With two back to back turns with a British section in light cover in the crop field and 64 d6 being fired in the 2 phases, they had very little chance. Within 3-4 phases this section had routed with my FM down to 5. Not only did the Germans get a double phase on the first turn but they also avoided the artillery barrage with the -1 modifier.

At this point I was in big trouble in respect to FM but still having a significant advantage in firepower, I had to push on. My troops in the house were able to weaken the Germans in the stone house across the terrain. I added another section of infantry in the house and brought on the Churchill AVRE. The Churchill mortar has a significant range restriction so I could not fire when I deployed on the table. The two infantry squads in the house however were able to take out the German squad in the stone house and drop the German FM to 10. 

We broke for lunch. Mike had lost 8 men and I had lost 11, I think at this point Mike was saying to himself that although I was down to 4 on my FM, he had been quite successful so far in campaign and maybe it would be a good time to withdraw to preserve his force. I suspect he was also just as bored of scenario 1 as I was! So a British Victory, maybe unearned but also maybe deserved because of the failed artillery barrage. Maybe it was also the fact that although I was down to 4 command dice, on my first throw got a double 6.
Section being chewed up by 64 d6.
Tank duel Churchill AVRE vs 2 Panzer IVH's, never got to play it out.
on to scenario 2

23 November 2016

Some Transport for Marlet

In our first go at Martlet a couple of weekends ago, I had to substitute Universal Carriers for jeeps. I found a very inexpensive kit from Italeri that contained 2 jeeps so I put in an order and they showed up last Saturday. These are nice little kits, 11 pieces and easy to assemble. Troops came from a PSC kit, they were chopped up to fit in, but no big deal as I was going to leave the jeeps with their canvas cover on.

They have 5 men in each, the JL is easily recognizable has he has a radio transmitter in his hand
I understand that most soft skins late in the war did use vehicle identification markings so they would be recognized from the air. I am not sure about the yellow circle
The decals were a bit of a challenge as they were a little big.
I forgot to paint the headlights

18 November 2016

Spanish Recruits

I thought I would post some photos of some recent acquisitions for my 18mm Napoleonic armies. Here are some more Spanish, I believe this may close it off for the Spanish. This makes up a nice little force with 8 infantry battalions, two cavalry regiments and a artillery battery. I may need another colonel and one more stand of artillery ( I subsequently found out that many Spanish artillery batteries were 8 guns rather than 6). These were all painted by Pep.
The Spanish force as it now stands
Regimento Irlandia, lovely blue coats
A regiment of Cazadores Voluntaries de España, light cavalry. 
Vountarios Distinguidos de Cadiz, how is that for a name?
Well that is all for now, I am expecting several battalions of French from the painter in Thailand in the next month or so, this should finish off my French forces.

15 November 2016

Operation Martlet: Probe into Fontenay

I started my 4th Chain of Command campaign yesterday: Operation Martlet. This is the second campaign I have played with Mike P, we usually get to play every one to two months although there have been longer gaps. We met at the Hobby Bunker in Malden, MA.

Martlet started on June 25, 1944 and was part of the British plan to protect the right flank of the main allied attack in Operation Epsom. In our campaign we follow the part of the operation that is an attempt to take Fontenay-Le-Pesnel first; the initial attack is to be carried out by a platoon from the 11th Royal Scots Fusiliers, and then a platoon from the 7th Duke of Wellington's is to carry on south to take Rauray. Defending are the 12th SS Panzerdivision: Hitler Jugend. I am taking the side of the British and Mike the Germans.

Historically the attack failed and unfortunately yesterday my initial attempt also failed. We actually played 3 campaign turns and Fontenay-Le-Pesnel is still in German hands. Here is the terrain map from the campaign.
There are some nuances to this campaign, the Germans are under a constant artillery barrage so have to dice to see if there units will arrive on the table and on the 5 game turns of day 1, this is with a -1 modifier. So essentially the Germans had to get a 5 or 6 in the first turn of each game we played. The British equally are handicapped by a heavy morning mist, having to get a 4, 5 or 6 for each unit they try to bring on in the game turns 1 and 2. Each unit caught in the mist has a second chance to get out, however if they fail a second time they are lost for good in that game turn. This is scenario 2 from the main rulebook.

So the game started, my first roll of the dice was for the number of free Patrol Marker moves I was to get, this was a grim harbinger of things to come....... I got a 1! Here is where the JOP points ended up, quite unsatisfactory for the British. The tricky bit though was that these were the JOP's were fixed for the next 2 campaign turns if I failed to get off table one.
Game 1a:
We both diced and got 8 on Force Morale.
British Supports (13):
2" Mortar
Regular Infantry Section
HMG Team
2 Jeeps
Piat Team
German Supports (6):
Entrenchment for AFV
This game was a brief affair lasting less then 30 minutes. Although the Germans had some difficulty getting on table because of the Artillery Barrage, the British were completely stymied by the mist with 75% of the units being lost or permanently lost. I believe all I got on was a 2" Mortar team. I decided to withdraw, a quick German victory. My dice rolls in this game were a harbinger of things to come for the whole day.

Game 1b:
I believe we again both diced 8 on Force Morale.
British Supports (14):
2" Mortar
Regular Infantry Section
2 Jeeps
German Supports (6):
Again a brief game, although I got a few more units on the terrain, but the mist still caused loss. Dicing was quite poor and while Mike was quite successful in getting his troops on the table. I lost my 2" Mortar team pretty quickly as well a my Sherman. By the time Mike had more than half his units on the table and his Panzer IV hull down at the crossroads, I figured out it was futile. I had hardly any units on the table and Mike had control of the terrain. So in order to preserve my troops I withdrew a second time. We had lunch.

Game 2:
Mike got 11 and I got 8 on Force Morale, another great start!
British Supports (15):
Regular Infantry Section
2 Jeeps
2x 2" Mortars
German Supports (6):
By this time, I had figured out my tactics were not working, I really had to get the troops on the table and attack in multiple directions. At least the mist had lifted. I was still troubled my poor dice and Mike's multiple double phases. I got 2 double phases, one with 4x6's, with a 5 followed immediately by a 3x6's with a 5 and a 1. This was followed by a 5,2,2,1,1; just unbelievable. I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.
The JOP's for all 3 games.
Getting ready to take a run for it. The fence is a major obstacle so requires a phase to cross.
A Sherman and two jeeps ( I had to substitute some UC's). The Sherman immediately took a hit from the Panzer IV at the other end of the table. I forgot that wheeled vehicles get an immediate move much to my detriment.
Very slow indeed. The section in the field to the left deployed and then never got activated for the rest of the game. I also got a section in the second floor of the house to the right, they were able to lay down some covering fire but not enough.
Mike has a squad in the barn, to stop the Brits when they make a run for it. He also has a PG squad in the house to the left as well as the one behind the fence in the centre. Quite impregnable all in hard cover all firing 20+d6 each time they were activated which was frequently.
Getting a little closer but as you can see the unit behind the fence is done for with just a SL, wounded JL and Bren Gunner left.
Up goes one jeep, by now the attrition was adding up, I got the second jeep just across the road but the jeep was blown up my the PG squad in the barn. By then my morale was down to 4, time to withdraw, with a loss of 16 men and a dead JL.
Well that was it, a tough outing, I am not in good shape for this campaign as you can see by the tracker below, but I was taught to soldier on, hopefully our next game in 2 weeks. 
updated 11-16-16
So it goes I suppose!