10 June 2018

Retake Suomussalmi

I finally got in a Winter War game yesterday, the first for 3 years. It was nice to get the Soviets and Finns out of their boxes as well as set up some winter terrain. About a month ago, I connected with a relatively local TFL gamer, Greg. He had put on a Sharp Practice game at Huzzah, I did not get to play in the game but we had a bit of a chat and decided in the near future to have a game of Chain of Command. My regular TFL opponent Mike has been pretty tied up with work and we have not been able to get together much in the last year.

We decided to play at my place, which made it very easy as I did not have to lug a lot of stuff about and rush to set up the terrain. I have been working on a Winter War campaign for several years now and this pushed me along and I now have 4 of the 6 planned scenarios done. But more about that later.

Anyway, this specific scenario is set early in December, 1939 and is as laid out in the following pamphlet.
I took a few more photos then usual and the action was quite straight forward as described in the photos. We diced for sides, I ended up with the Soviets. Lately most games I have played, I have been the attacker so it was a change.
The Patrol Phase was very odd as the Finns got 6 free moves and do not have to stay within 12" of each other. I was pretty stymied as we were playing down the short axis of the table and I had 6' to defend. This is where they ended up. You can not see it but there was a Finnish Patrol marker all the way up the table to my left flank. 
Green Soviet Forces
Force Rating -4, 5 Command Dice, 13 Supports
Force Morale 8
2 Senior Leaders
3 Green Rifle Squads
1 Regular NKVD Squad
3 entrenchments
Maxim MMG Team
Flamethrower Team
Pregame Barrage

Elite Finnish Forces
Force Rating +5, 5 Command Dice, 8 supports
Force Morale 11
2 Senior Leaders
4  Elite Jããkãri Squads
Off Table Mortar
? 3 Supports

Greg had the first move as he was the attacker, fortunately I had selected a pregame barrage as one of my supports and with the Soviet National Characteristic of Wrath of the Gods, I was able to get 3 of my sections safely entrenched on the table within the first few phases with overwatch markers before he really could get set up. Most of his JOP points were on my right flank so I felt I could anticipate from where he would attack.
The Soviets look ready, but Greg deploys a FO in the tree line to the far right. ...........

.........and Kaboom before you know it 2 of my squads are under the barrage and I lose a JL almost immediately and my FM drops to 6! Oh dear, I say. I am able to end the turn and lift the barrage but by now.....................
........................Greg deploys a Jããkãri squad from his JOP on my right flank and they rapidly advance on my very shocked squad. The Finns are indeed aggressive......................
...............and in they come. Sometimes however the dice gods are on your side and despite being heavily shocked and pinned I manage to eke out a 1 point victory in the ensuing combat and the Finns are driven back.
Some action missed here but Greg decides to advance a 2nd squad to take out the entrenched Soviets , but this time I am ready and it is my turn....... I pop out a Flamethrower Team which takes care of the advancing Finns and drives them back and I also deploy my NKVD squad directly into close combat (I believe Greg was generous here as I believe I was a little outside of 4") with the Finns in the woods and they are destroyed...............
I have now dropped the Finn's Force Morale down and things are starting to look secure for the Soviets as we are both sitting at 6....................but CoC can be a fickle game, it is Greg's phase and he throws 4xd6.............. 
......................and a random barrage drops down on my left flank! The Finns advance on my right and take out the exposed Flame Thrower team. They are indeed aggressive but the NKVD can be aggressive as well and they advance forward to take the battle to the Finns but I had forgotten about the Finnish FO in the woods and before I knew it another barrage rains down on my right flank.
The game now turned into one of pure attrition where the barrage kept on pounding my right however I was able to fire continuously from my left flank on the exposed troops in the centre, I finally got a double phase and was able to lift the barrage and with constant fire the Finns morale dropped to 2, a Soviet victory was had.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this game, I thought I was done for early on when my FM dropped to 6 in the first few phases. I then got lucky with the dice and with my Flamethrower team and NKVD squad and was able to inflict FM damage on the Finns (I think Greg threw a lot of 6's). In my previous games it was rare to have any close combat, it is bloody.

I also have to say that it was great to meet another local TFL gamer with whom it was a pleasure to play. I am sure we will get in more games. I am also that much closer to finishing my Winter War campaign that has been sitting on the back burner fore quite sometime.

01 June 2018

Pickett's Charge: Antietam

Yesterday, I got to play my first game of Pickett's Charge by DCR Brown, the ruleswriter of General de Brigade and most recently Général d'Armée. Pickett's Charge was the first ruleset released by him under the TFL banner of Reisswitz Press. This was the first American Civil War game I played since myself and Adam played our ACW campaign using the Sam Mustafa ruleset Longstreet. It was a great campaign which I really enjoyed, but I find Sam's rulesets sacrifice a little too much colour in order to simply the playing mechanism. There is very little command uncertainty in both Longstreet and Lasalle, so although having played both games quite a bit I was left looking for something a little more exciting. I have found that GdA has provided that and I was curious to see if PC which has a lot of similar mechanisms would do the same.

I decided to play the starter Antietam scenario from the book, which looked simple enough. I had the troops aside from the brigadiers so it was easy enough to set up. I arrived at the Hobby Bunker early to set up the table. The scenario is based on the Union attack on the sunken road in the middle of the the day. The great thing about the Hobby Bunker is there is a ton of stuff lying around to bolster one terrain. I was bale to construct a sunken road of sorts using some plywood panels with by Cigarbox plush green mat, you can see the result below. The only thing we did not have was the appropriate fencing but we made do with what we had from our own collections.
The Union forces are to the right, they had to start within an 8" band on their table edge of the 6x4' terrain. The Confederate forces could start anywhere up to the sunken road in the middle of the table. Essentially the Union had to force the Confederates out of the sunken road. The Union had numerically more infantry but almost half of them were rated as green. The Confederates had all regular forces aside from one small veteran brigade. Both sides had 2 artillery batteries and there was no cavalry. I was quite happy with how the table looked.
I am not good at doing action reports, I just get too tied up in the action to take photos and remember all the details. We never really got started until about 5:30 pm and I am usually limited by having to leave at the 8 by the latest. We did get in around 6-7 turns of a planned 16 turn scenario before 8 and I have to say I think it would have been over one way or the other by 10 turns. I did take a lot of photos early in the game. 

Confederates on their right flank
This brigade with 2 attached artillery batteries was held in reserve on the Confederate left flank
A view of the Union attack from the Confederate perspective
Caldwell's Brigade
Confederate left flank
Confederate centre
Union centre with Meagher's Brigade in the foreground and Weber and Morris's green recruits in the farground.
Adam has a great looking Confederate army
After some hesitation especially in the centre the Union army starts it's advance.
First fire of Union artillery.........double1!
I stopped taking photos at that point but essentially both brigades on the Union left advanced into charge, Caldwell's brigade failed their charge with their lead regiment being thrown back. Meagher's Irish brigade attacked the Confederate centre, the first regiment was also thrown back but the second regiment was able to close to charge and whipped the Confederate centre throwing the lead brigade back with it's support and taking the ground. Somewhere along the way one of the Confederate Brigades received a Catawamptiously Chewed Up result on the Faltering Brigade test. 

Unfortunately, the Union regiment that took the centre ground was completely unsupported as the green recruits in the Union centre were very slow to advance. On the Union right, Kimball's brigade was rapidly advancing supported by the Union artillery which finally had got their act together and were starting to pound the Confederate left flank. Unfortunately it was now 8pm so I had to leave. I am not sure how the game would have went but I felt my Union army was in quite good position.

Well I really enjoyed this game and ruleset. I found it very smooth to play, as a lot of the Napoleonic chrome that has been welded on to the GdA ruleset makes the game quite a bit more complex. We did have a few questions which I will have to look up but I found if you follow the QRS with some care the game flows very quickly. We got to test all the mechanisms of play aside from Melee which unlike GdA is within the Charge mechanism and is quite simple. We got to institute all the Morale mechanisms aside from a Brigade being Tuckered Out. Definitely will look forward to another game. My 10 pack of mounted Union officers from Blue Moon was here when I got home, so I should be all set for my next game.