Friday, April 23, 2021

"Sicily '43" - a review..

Fantastic book - I have his book on Normandy in the "to read" pile and based on this one it has moved up a few places towards the top ..  

So a concise (well I say concise, but it's actually 600 or 700 odd pages... I can honestly say it didn't seem that long!) but easily read book, on what was the first Allied powers invasion into mainland Europe..   

Very much a learning exercise for the Allies, that in planning teams was a success beyond all expectations..  Holland has good coverage on the importance of naval cover (the ability to call in naval broadsides for what was predominantly a land campaign can't be underestimated), the air cover (originally from Malta cab rank style, and later from landing strips on the island itself was an absolute game changer and a significant input to the overall success of the campaign)

He touches on the the politic'ing and infighting between Patton (who I am sorry, and who despite his obvious skills as a battlefield commander, still comes across to me as a bit of a kn*b) and Montgomery (who could be prickly), and most of all the soldiers on the ground, that despite the Allied doctrine of "steel not flesh" were called on time and time again to attack well dug in, veteran and elite German forces simply because the terrain did not allow them to deploy their significant advantage in tanks and artillery...

Holland touches on the Mafia angle (and who knows how significant that was, as no one seems sure??) but my overwhelming impression was of how quick the campaign was, how important the air cover was, how hard the infantry had to fight, and how well Alexander managed the campaign.

A fascinating book.. 9 out of 10!

Friday, April 09, 2021

Wargamer's Newsletter - Phil Barker's "Rules for World War Two (Normandy) Wargames"

Another opportunity to share some of the gems from that recent purchase.. complete with hand typed notes, and wonky page lay outs..  glorious..  this time some vintage Phil Barker in the form of WW2 rules

Going to guess the paper slipped in the type writer..  😀

First interesting note - Normandy was not well known for it's "open steppe's" so I suspect these originated in another rule set...  One to one scale - so these are skirmish level... By the by I think I have applied "inherent military probability" to every game I've ever played - very sound words indeed..

Interesting .."Time spent in throwing dice" - as compared to overturning over a card? I can see 'overwatch' fire being difficult to adjudicate and subject to discussion... 😀  The firing mechanism is entirely random so it couldn't easily be dice driven - it requires a specific result to score a hit - not a result range... I like the idea about using colours to help adjudicate hits in cover or not, though - simple and clever

Straight forward given the explanation on the previous page - note that there is no range for medium MG's, basically everyone in the line of fire has a 50% chance of being hit (!)..   the "6" under 'Radius of Effect' is a mis-type I think... 

I can't imagine Normandy was awash with T70's and Josef Stalin 122's... 😀 So a 25% chance of hitting irrespective of range, and then a 50% chance after that if the vehicle is hull down - waiting to see if there are any suppression rules as clearly unless you can hit the tank you aren't going to fire at it...

No suppression option but that's an easy add - the black and white nature of inflicting damage on an armoured vehicle - it is either penetrated, or it is not, there's no scope for morale effect on the crew.

So the two Appendices' are not wholly applicable to the rules - the penetration values are purely informational (it would be nice to know the source), and all you need from appendix 1 is the gun type for the vehicle you are firing, Appendix 2 is purely informational..

Post match analysis:
  • there is much in these rules that I like, and I would say it is more than possible I will have a go with my 15mm "Fall of France" figures, since there is more than enough here to be able to reverse engineer the earlier vehicles
  • the core mechanism is the card driven result - red or black, and a number between 0 and 3. 
  • It wasn't until I saw the firing results for light machine guns that I realised that the result given to hit something is an "actual", not a less than, or more than number...  if you need "1" to score a hit and you pull a "2" or a "3", then the fact those numbers are bigger, is irrelevant - you miss...  
  • so effectively then you automatically have a 25% chance of scoring a hit
  • that 25% chance is unaffected by range - which is a little strange - the range bands provided just require you to pull a different number - still with a 25% chance - so I am not sure what is being modelled there..  the rules could lose the range bands as they are irrelevant in terms of making it easier or harder to hit the target. What I would have done is to offer multiple chances to hit at lower ranges eg, at close range you hit on "1", "2" or "3", medium range on "2" or "3", long range on "3". A "0" would always be a miss (as they are in the rules as written)...
  • the other core mechanism is red or black - whether a result is red or black governs (among other things) whether a hit is on a hull or a turret (anti-tank fire), whether it is a hit or not (eg. targets in cover, targets for MG's etc.), and whether a vehicle is destroyed or immobilised (infantry anti tank)
  • no morale or suppression rules - given the level of abstraction that may be by design/decision, but for me, my reading would lead me to the conclusion that it isn't only penetrating hits that disabled vehicles..
  • no hand to hand rules either - which is probably more understandable, and easily dealt with under firing
  • what a refreshing set of rules...  like them...   but yeah, I'd have to replace the cards - a lot of what they bring is good, but it also means other mechanisms need tweaking..

Friday, April 02, 2021

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 22 - "Ambush" - Set Up and Game - Redux!

The game of a few weeks ago, while absolutely hilarious (clicky), still rumbles (and rankles) in the back of my mind as it was quite clearly one of those utterly strange, 'quirks of fate' type game, where die rolls and their outcomes resulted in an outrageously easy win for the Royalist/"Blue" force...

Time then I thought, to have another go, and confirm one way or the other whether the scenario is flawed, or whether it really was just luck last time... 

DG and I are about to embark on our next virtual game, which will be an American War of Independence outing, using Battle Chronicler, and my go-to AWI rules by Will McNally (details as ever in the project page in the side bar), so I thought, 'why not?', and set this game in the period as well - I never need much of an excuse to get those glorious Minifigs out of their boxes..  

Off we go...

Forces for each side were diced for on the relevant table in the book, the only change being to ignore the skirmisher column and substitute regular foot.

I threw for and deployed the Red / British (or rather Hessian) force ie. the ambushed force, first. They got five regiments of foot, and an artillery piece (classed as light). I deployed them in a straight line, two of foot, gun, and two of foot, with another unit set back as a reserve, and at the front of the allowed  deployment zone..

The Americans threw and got three of foot, and a regiment of horse, so I deployed one of the foot regiments in the redoubt with the rest of the force  at the edge of the wood waiting to unleash death and destruction...  

All foot for both sides get maximum strength points (6), and are classed as regular with no morale modifiers - there are also no national modifiers, so both sides are equal in fire/melee..

On to the game - which was a cracker...  click on any of the following to embigen..

Initial deployment and table layout following.. the line of trees marks the edge of the wood

End of turn 1, following.. and an immediate change of fortunes for the Hessians (c/w with their Parliamentary colleagues in the previous game) - the American infantry have piled out and attacked the first/nearest Hessian regiment in the flank with the other American regiment providing an overlap..  in an outrageous change in fortune though, the Hessians throw off the attack, and both sides recoil! The American cavalry however are better..  crashing into the rear of the second Hessian regiment in the line, the Hessians are sent howling off into the pre-dawn dusk (the unit with the red dice / rout, heading for the right table edge following)...

End of turn 2, following.. not put off in the slightest the American infantry pile in again, and this time the second regiment have enough movement to bend round and attack in the rear rather than just providing an overlap - the result is inevitable, the Hessians break and run (foreground). The American cavalry pivot, and attack the artillery, routing it (the crew can be seen legging it)..

End of turn 3, following.. the Hessian fight back starts.. the first Hessian regiment to rout recovers, and the Hessian regiment next to the artillery turns to face the American cavalry who are about to charge and deliver a stinging volley stopping them in their tracks (shaken/yellow dice)..  the American foot advance rapidly to get into the fight. The British general meanwhile has chased after the other Hessian regiment to provide aid in the forthcoming morale check...

End of turn 4, following.. the American cavalry has had a retire morale check, but the two American foot regiments (one of whom is French) march on with flags waving and drums drumming - the green flagged regiment charge, but are halted in their tracks and sent packing - can Gallic verve save the day?? In the background another Hessian regiment has been sent packing, but the artillery crew have rallied, and the British general's presence has also steadied another regiment..  things are getting desperate for the American's, and the regiment from the redoubt ready themselves to enter the fray..

End of turn 5, following.. a turning point move...  the British re-crew their artillery, all the morale checks have been cleared, and two un-blooded Hessian regiments send the French packing..  the only glimmer on the horizon is on the British/Hessian right flank where the cavalry and the garrison are ready to take on a single slightly battered Hessian infantry regiment

End of turn 6, following.. the American infantry both recover enough to halt, but take fire from the British artillery, elsewhere as expected that battered Hessian infantry regiment breaks and scatters while the British general organises his remaining troops to cover the flank..

End of turn 7, following.. charge!  The American cavalry who have worked so hard throughout the game charge and are halted in their tracks by a perfect volley..  the green flagged regiment however have girded their loins, passed their morale check and charged home on the artillery sending their crew off in disarray for the second time this game, they are however, about to be flanked..

End of turn 8, following.. the flank attack sees for the green flag regiment, the cavalry fail a morale check and rout from the table, and in the melee the American regiment from the redoubt are also sent packing..

...end of game..  the American general realises that he can't achieve his goal and orders his troops to retire..  "we shall fight again"!

Post match analysis:
  • one of the quirks of the scenario is that it is only the blue player that can win - all the red player has to do is survive for the game duration...   anything else is a red win..
  • realising that, and I've played the scenario twice which shows how dull I am, it makes no sense for the red player to deploy anywhere near the front of the deployment zone as that makes it easier for the blue player to get to you..
  • I enjoyed that..  good fun..