Monday, 8 May 2017

First Bull Run using BBB

A nice scenario for the First Battle of Bull Run on 21 July 1861, early in the American Civil War.

The scenario, written by Vincent Tsao for the Bloody Big Battles rules, is available for download from the Files section of the BBB Yahoo!Group.

There are five objectives, all indicated on the table by small white tents. All objectives are held by the Confederates at the start of the battle. The game is 9 turns.
Union win if they hold 3 or more objectives at the end.
Draw if Union hold 2 objectives.
Confederates win if they hold 4 or more.
Reinforcements are due to arrive at various points during the battle.

Unfortunately I didn't have enough rivers and streams to include all the waterways. In particular Young's Branch would have improved the Confederate defensive position.

The Game
After the first turn:
Burnside (Union) is facing Evans (Confederates) on Matthews Hill.
Cocke (Confederates) has taken a risk by leaving Ball's Ford to be defended by artillery and is pushing towards the bridge.
Along the road, Porter (Union) is trying to make ground towards Henry House Hill and Bald Hill before Bartow and Bee (Confederates) get firmly established there.
Matthews Hill on the left (actually should be the second level of a much larger hill).
Henry House Hill is the large hill to the right of the bridge.
The edge of Bald Hill can just be seen to the right of Henry House Hill.
The objectives are at the bridge, Henry House Hill, Bald Hill, Ball's Ford and Newmarket

A couple of turns on and reinforcements have arrived on both sides.
Burnside and Evans are still at it at Matthews Hill.
Sherman, Keyes and some artillery (Union) have crossed a ford to approach Evans from the rear but Jackson (Confederate) has raced straight past Henry House Hill towards the sound of the guns to support Evans.
Cocke is in the woods by the bridge.
At Henry House Hill Bartow has held back Porter, but Howard and Franklin (Union) are moving up to assist in the attack on the two hills.
Bee holds Bald Hill. The Confederates still hold all the highest ground.
An overview showing all the action.

Porter (Union) threatening Bartow at Henry House Hill

Schenk (Union), on the far side of the bridge, had a miserable day. He took his time moving to the bridge which he found blocked. When he did finally break through he was quickly routed.


Franklin, supported by Wilcox (Union), attack Bald Hill. In this photo Franklin has just pushed back Bee who has forgotten to take his label with him in the rush. In the background you can see Howard has just taken Henry House Hill.
Franklin attacks Bald Hill and in the background Howard has taken Henry House Hill

At Matthews Hill the Confederate counter-charge is being pushed back. Evans has gone and been replaced by Cocke. Jackson has taken many casualties and pulled back to the wood where he is in a better position to hold the objectives. Sherman is in pursuit.


Howard is still holding Henry House Hill against massed artillery and Kershaw (Confederates) approaching through the woods. They held this objective to the end of the game.


Franklin and Wilcox are still contesting Bald Hill but are about to be pushed off it.


Franklin, Wilcox and Porter, who made the initial attacks on Henry House Hill and Bald Hill, are all Spent and just trying to survive the day.
Porter and Wilcox prepare to defend themselves while Confederates swarm over Bald Hill towards them.

And that is pretty much how it ended. The Union managed to take one objective and threaten two others, but the Confederates' aggressive tactics pushed them back.
A good scenario with opportunities for both sides with the arrival of reinforcements at various stages of the battle.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Third Crusade - Battle Of Arsuf, 7th September, 1191.

Crusader cavalry try to repel Saladin's attacks
The Crusaders are approaching Arsuf down the coast road. They have to pass a large wooded area close to the coast road and Saladin has decided to use this wood to launch a major attack on the Crusaders.

This battle represents the early stages of the battle just after Saladin launched his attacks from the wood on the rear of the column. Historically the cavalry on both sides was deployed behind the infantry and when the attacks were launched there was some confusion as the cavalry pushed through the infantry. Rather than trying to resolve this on table I've assumed that stage is over and each side can deploy within their deployment zones as chosen.

I used Sword & Spear rules.

Rather than have one large army on each side, I tried representing the two rear columns of Crusaders as two separate armies, and similarly for the Ayyubid Egyptians. This gave two armies on each side of about 290 points and 8 units each.

LAYOUT AND DEPLOYMENT

North is at the top of this layout.
Crusaders on the left defending against Saladin's attacks from the woods on the right.
Saladin chose this place for a major attack because the woods gave a covered overnight camp and approach, while the battleground was relatively open and suited to cavalry attacks.

ORDER OF BATTLES
Crusaders - Army 1
General, 2 x Knights, 1 Miltary Order Knights, 1 x Spearmen, 1 x Crossbowmen, 1 x Miltary Order Searmen, 1 x Archers, 1 x Turcopole Cavalry

Crusaders - Army 2
General, 1 x Knights, 1 Miltary Order Knights, 2 x Spearmen, 1 x Crossbowmen, 1 x Miltary Order Searmen, 1 x Archers, 1 x Turcopole Cavalry

2 Ayyubid Egyptian Armies - both have the same forces
General, Captain, 1 x Cavalry, 2 x Ghilmen, 1 x Turcoman Light Horse, 1 x Turcoman Cavalry, 1 x Ahdath Militia Spearmen, 1 x Archers Light Foot, 1 x Javelinmen

THE BATTLE

Initially the cavalry on both sides closed the gap.
The Crusader Knights have the Impact ability which gives them an advantage if they actitvate and charge in first in the next turn. If the Egyptian Ghilmen get to activate first they can either loose arrows or charge first and negate the Impact ability of the Crusader Knights.

Third Crusade - abandoned scenarios 3 and 4

I did plan to report on a couple more scenarios based on the Crusaders moving south down the coast and being harassed by the Egyptians. These were to be:

Scenario 3 - Skirmish Attacks on the Column
30th August, 1191
Saladin intended this to be a major assault, but it didn't develop that way.

Scenario 4 - Determined Attacks on the Column
2nd September, 1191
Another attempt to break the deadlock resulting in fierce fighting.

After a couple of attempts to make these battles different to Scenario 2 - Break Up The Column, using different set ups and rules, I decided it wasn't worth pursuing. One attempt, using Soldiers Of God rules was a complete failure mainly because of the difficulty in manoeuvring. I even added in the 4 blank cards to the deck as extra Manoeuvre cards but even so the Crusaders were not able to change direction to react to the Egyptian attacks.

I've made the mistake before of posting non-event battles and I don't want to repeat it in a hurry.

So it's straight on to Scenario 5 - The Battle of Arsuf.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

BKC II - Down By The Sea

Scenario 3 of the series, Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time, written by Andrew Rolph and recently published by Miniature Wargames with Battlegames.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.
Notes on BKC II Optional Rules and Scenario Rules used are at the end of this Post.

Most figures and models are Pendraken.

UP FRONT
I should say straight away this didn’t work out very well for the Soviets. I tried a few options for the Soviet attacks but they were very fragmented and all crossing open ground against dug-in Germans. There was a lot of artillery which was fine at the beginning when the Soviets were bombarding the German positions, but very messy when the German FAOs were able to bring their artillery to bear on the Russians in the open.
So, with that in mind, I’ll keep this fairly short.

Background
It’s early in 1942 and the Soviets are trying a counter-offensive on the Crimean coastline

This scenario features an assortment of Soviet forces trying to combine arms in an attack against a mixed German Battlegroup defending a coastal position.

Layout
The initial layout.
The table is just 4ft square including the coastal area.

The Soviets are attacking from the east (this end), and the south (the coast) and … oh yes … and they have a paratroop drop.

Objectives
Victory Points are awarded for each town sector or airfield installation held – five in total. So really the Russians have to take the town to stand any chance of winning.

Friday, 16 December 2016

BKC II - The Stalin Line

Scenario 2 of the series, Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time, written by Andrew Rolph and recently published by Miniature Wargames with Battlegames.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.
Notes on BKC II Optional Rules and Scenario Rules used are at the end of this Post.

Most figures and models are Pendraken.

It’s still early in Operation Barbarossa in July 1941 and the Germans have come up against The Stalin Line running along the original Russian border before the Russians moved into Poland in 1939. The original defences have been neglected and stripped of armaments and now hasty defences have been set up.

Layout
The initial layout.
The long hedge on the right is the edge of the world, as is the sharp cut off of terrain and clutter in the foreground.

The Germans are attacking from the west (this end) and the Soviets are defending in the east (far end).

The river is impassable to vehicles and infantry treat it as an obstacle on each bank and difficult terrain wading through it. The bridge is broken.

Objectives
Germans – exit beyond the river from the far end and to the right of the single tree in the centre of that edge.
Soviets - to stop the German advance. In the scenario, Russian formations (that have been at least under fire) can exit by the same route and gain Victory Points. I forgot (or ignored) that. No retreat!

OOBs
Details are in the downloads mentioned in my previous Post - Blitzkrieg Commander II revival.

Germans:
  • 1/4th Pz btn
  • 1/52nd Motorised Battalion
  • 23rd Motorcycle Battalion with Bridging Engineer detachment attached
  • Air Support (3 Stuka missions)

Soviets:
  • 4 x Rifle Battalions of 47th Brigade plus supports (see note below)
  • 1 x KV-2 attached to one of the Rifle Btns
  • 2 x 122mm Artillery Support (in place of the 120mm mortars in the scenario) attached to one of the Rifle Btns
  • 4 x T-26 of 57th Tank btn – the scenario doesn’t specify which model so I assumed with 37mm gun

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

BKC II - The Red Empire Strikes Back

Here goes with first of the scenarios written by Andrew Rolph and recently published by Miniature Wargames with Battlegames under the banner of Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.
Notes on BKC II Optional Rules and Scenario Rules used are at the end of this Post.

This scenario is set at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and is a Soviet counterattack against a German position with German reinforcements on the way. Standard stuff.

Layout
Here's the initial layout.
The Germans are defending in the west and the Soviets are attacking from the east.

The woods, hills, village and hedges are treated as normal.
The rough ground in the foreground I treated as Low Area terrain for visibilty, Impassable to vehicles and guns and Soft Cover.
Objectives
Soviets - to breakthrough and exit the table along the west edge which is held by the Germans. They must also contest the village, which means occupying at least one sector, so they can't just ignore everything and charge off.
Germans - to destroy any enemy that attack your sector.

OOBs
... are long and in the downloads mentioned in my previous Post - Blitzkrieg Commander II revival.
You will get an idea from the piccies.
  • Germans start with one infantry battalion, one FlaK battalion and one StuG formation. Reinforcements are on the way.
  • Soviets have three infantry battalions, two tank battalions and an off-table artillery battalion. Not all the Soviets listed are guaranteed to turn up.


Deployment
The Soviets start off-table along the east edge, nominating a start point for each formation.

The Germans deploy their starting forces up to about half way from the west edge (I used a 6'x4' table instead of 6'x5' as stated in the scenario).

I put the infantry defending the village and farming area. The StuGs are off to the right behind the rough ground.



The FlaK battalion are around the north hill behind the wood.

Pre-planned Artillery
Playing this solo I hit the problem of having pre-planned artillery for the Soviets while knowing where the Germans were deployed. I came up with a solution which I thought worked quite well.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Blitzkrieg Commander II revival

I'm going to take a short break from the Third Crusade games to have a bash at an old favourite, Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.

Miniature Wargames (with Battlegames, as was at the time) has recently published a series of scenarios under the heading "Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time", written by Andrew Rolph. The scenarios are based on the WWII Ostfront between 1941 and 1943. I thought some of them might transfer well to BKCII and give me the push I needed to dust off the old rules. I'm looking forward to it.

Although the author of the scenarios has a particular set of rules in mind (I don't know what, let's call them Rules X) he gives lots of help to adapt the scenarios for other rules. After a read through of the first article it looks like firing ranges are far greater in BKCII than Rules X, and there is also a greater restriction on visibility in Rules X. For example in Rules X, unless firing, infantry in the open will only be seen within 9". I'll need to make allowances for that otherwise the Russian attackers (in the first scenario) will probably be mown down at long range. He also recommends using a morale mechanism for each unit* (usually about battalion strength) rather than an overall army breakpoint with some units* fighting to the last man. Something like that can be managed with BKCII.
* Note: I say "unit*" because in BKCII a Unit is just one stand. I will be using BKCII terminology in future.

The scenarios and further information are currently available for download from the Miniature Wargames website (confusingly under the name of Tabletop Gaming):
https://www.tabletopgaming.co.uk/historical-games/information/downloads/
The scenarios are under Issue 404
Further notes on play balance mechanisms are under Issue 400