Friday, 17 March 2017

Rommel - the Western Desert


This Thursday at the Uni Peter, (left), organised a game of Rommel, the soon to be published WW2 Strategic Operational level game written by Sam Mustafa.


Under Caesar's (right) leadership we have been involved in the extensive playtesting of these watershed rules, so of course we believe they are the mutt's nuts, and fill a hole in the market that's been around for too long...


They are novel in every way, and took some getting used to by a dinosaur like me, for example playing on a gridded surface. But actually, as shown above, the grid needn't be obtrusive, and saves a phenomenal amount of time in administering movement and measuring range. In fact I think these are the closest wargame rules I have ever experined in terms of spending the bulk of your time thinking tactically (well, operationally) than fussing over the actual rules! But lets get right to the sharp end, so if you wish to learn more about these rules than may I direct you to Sam's website, which includes a podcast all about the Rommel ruleset: Rommel Downloads   Honour Podcast 10: How to play Rommel  Peter organised a straightforward meeting encounter between a large force of 3 brigades a side. He thought this might be a bit packed on his 6 x 4 desert board, but we were all very keen to play, hence the large number of commands. The third brigade would arrive in the second round, accessing through an area predetermined by each team. All of the lovely models you see in this post are Peter's, the vehicles 1/285th GHQ, and the infantry 1/300th Adlers.


Each force consisted of 2 armoured brigade and an infantry brigade. The British armoured brigade sported an assortment of tanks current in 1942, Grants...



Stuarts...



And the dreaded Sherman 75's...(Its not often you hear a mainly late war wargamer say that!)



The British team, seen here conferring mid battle, consisted (L-R) of David, Peter and Caesar.


The German armoured brigades had a back bone of Panzer IIIs, with a few Pz IIs and slight leavening of Panzer IVs to lend some weight:




I don't think Sam would want me to go into too much detail about game play at this stage, but the numbers in boxes represent the combat effectiveness of that unit, which represents a reinforced company of armour or about 2 companies of infantry. As you take losses the boxes are marked off, reducing your effectiveness...


My infantry brigade was fortunate to have 3 units from PanzerJaeger Abteilung 33 armed with Marder AT guns.


The number in the red boxes denotes their combat effectiveness against other armour. So in the case the 1-4 denotes an effectiveness of 1 in the attack, but a powerful 4 in defense. I would be playing a cautions game then, hoping to draw the impetuous Brits onto me!


After the Brits had finished their cups of tea, we revealed our cards and let battle commence. I deployed my infantry brigade (white unit tags) in the centre of our table edge, holding the settlement that was our objective and the marshy ground and ridge that curved around to our left flank from it. Our plans was for Daniel (with dunkelgelb unit tags) to lead off on our right flank with his ontable armoured brigade, and then for Bryan's (bright yellow unit tags) armoured brigade to deploy to my left. My role would then be to keep the two armoured brigades linked up and protect their inner flanks.


Daniel duly issued the order 'Panzer Marsch' and he was off, launching an armoured attack on infantry ensconced on the ridgeline securing the British left flank...


I did my best to keep up with him in the centre, and Bryan duly came up behind me and deployed to my left...


Whilst Caesar on the British left fended off Daniels attack resolutely, committing the British reserve artillery, Peter demonstrated towards me in the centre with the British heavy armour...but I had confidence in my Marders:


Daniel's first attack out on the right flank was fended off, but he organised a follow with fresh forces...


And Bryan had by now come up and was able to shadow Dave's attempts to outflank us on our left flank:


The view from the British side - I think its fair to say the DAK had seized the initiative - clearly more tea was required:


All arms action continued hot over on our deep right flank...


But Daniel was steadily gaining the upper hand...whilst using up fresh units and tactics dice...(Without giving too much away, these allow you to pay for period and army selective traits that give you the advantage in combat)


In the centre, I was relieved that the Marders were able to fend off the heavy Shermans - had the British committed their armoured reserve too soon?


Then Daniel, rapidly running out of impetous, managed with one final effort to break through and past the British left flank, with only open desert between him and the objective...


Whilst at the same time Bryan massed his fresh armour from our left flank over towards the British centre...


And engaged the already worn down Shermans...


Also breaking through in the middle of the British line...


However, Peter had managed a breakthrough of his own into our now denuded left, so the game was declared a minor victory for the DAK!


A terrific game, authentically representing the frustrations and triumphs of large scale battle in WW2 on the table top...as much as any game can, anyway!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Team Yankee - a 2 move game!


Team Yankee is deservedly getting a name as a fast, furious and bloody game - but I was still amazed to finish a game in 2 moves!


I'm close to finishing my Team Yankee West German army, and decided the time had come to pitch table ready elements of the 5th Panzer Divison's 6th Panzer Brigade into combat! 

The 5th Panzer Division formed part of NATO's Central Army Group West German III Corps, headquartered in Diez in Southern Germany. As such it was a prime candidate to backstop the US V Corps in the Fulda gap sector...

Accordingly, the table was laid out to represent the east-west stretch of Autobahn on the outskirts of Butzback, towards which the Soviet 8th Guards Army was rampaging...


The lead 6th Panzer Brigade's Battlegroup was made up of 113 points: two Leopard 2 platoons, a PanzerGrenadier platoon, an M109G battery, a flight of 4 PAHs and a Roland SAM battery.



I'm particularly impressed with the PAH models - they are very hand compared to the huge HIND models, but I was hoping they'd pack just as much of a punch!



The ROLAND SAMs were accompanied by 2 Fliegerfaust teams armed with REDEYE MAPAD SAMs.



The combat team would be attempting to slow down the lead elements of that advancing 79th Guards Tank Division, 163 points worth, centered around three 7 strong tank platoons.


Having broken through and clear of the intial Fulda defences, the 79th Guards Tanks were enjoying strong Frontal Aviation support - a flight of 4 FROGFOOT FGA, and 6 HINDs.


The Guards were still operating in pretty hilly and wooded country densely populated particularly around the approaches to the Butzback connurbation.
 

However there were at least 3 clear lines of approach - the autobahn itself was nice and clear, if a little obvious...


A northerly route to the industrial zone offered good covered good covered lines of approach along the rail line or along a secondary road...


Whilst an approach to the more picturesque southern outskirts also offered some cover, albeit the stream required a cross check.


The 6th Panzer's forward Battlegroup opted to centre its defence around the autobahn, relying on the mobility of its Leopards and Marders to redeploy if necessary. The infantry platoon was debussed with its 2 MILAN firing posts under cover in the woods, with a good clear field of fire out to the clear areas in the table centre. A Leopard platoon was deployed to each side of them, so that at least 8 shots could be sent down any part of the central area...


The artillery battery was deployed in the southern outskirts of the town, so that if any direct firing was involved, in extremis, they might at least enjoy some cover.


The Soviets chose the southern approach, their forward deployment eased by the use of the Recce company's Spearhead move...


To attempt to whittle down the Leopard platoon facing this onslaught, the Soviets rather boldly called in an airstrike from the FROGFOOT flight...




Events proved its wasn't so much bold as foolish, as the ROLANDs and REDEYEs shot down the entire flight before they had a chance to launch...


However, a SPANDREL ATGW volley fired from the infantry company's BMPs, set up in the woods crowning the southern ridge managed to take out a Leopard. The remaining 2 MBTs of the platoon promptly turned tail and 'retired'...


The West Germans formation commander responded to this disaster by drawing on his battlegroup's reknowned mobility...


The left flanking Leopard platoon sped forward around and to the right to form the right angle of an 'L' kill sack, in conjuction with the MILANs, to envelop the Soviet column...


Unfortunately in the process of orchestrating that manoeuver the formation commander was distracted from conning his driver, with embarrassing results...


However the initiative was maintained with the timely intervention of the gallant Heeresflieger who took advantage of the preoccupation of the Soviet air defenders with actually getting into range without too many of them bogging down...


to launch a pretty successful missile strike on the advancing T-72s...


Two Soviet Tank companies remained, however, and continued to close on the objective, managing to knock out a Leopard 2 at long range..


However the return volley of 120mm sabot rounds was devastating...


And removed the survivors of another Soviet tank company off the table...


With the PAH helos circling for yet another strike...


The Soviet formation commander decided to pull in his horns and find an easier route around, rather than through, the doughty defenders of Butzbach...