Thursday, 20 December 2012

The last cavalry charge of WW1?

After driving the Germans out from the village (see last post), the next task was to get over the old bridge crossing the river.The expeditionary force rested overnight, and set off the next morning. News was coming in that the Germans had regrouped, together with a force of partisans, and so the Greeks decided to send one platoon over to form a bridgehead, with the cavalry squad to reconnoitre the area.

The old bridge looked decidedly dicy, so the Greeks decided to walk over the bridge and then send the trucks over, empty. The armoured car was to go after the trucks, if they got over and the bridge held up. 

  
Greek infantry platoon crosses river (top of picture) while its trucks prepare to cross a very old bridge

However, they Greeks had not gone far over the bridge before a German trap was sprung, a heavy machine gun nest decimating one squad as it walked down the road. The squads on either side of the road dived for cover and began to shoot back, but other German units now popped up in ambush, supported by Partisans. On the Greek right, the Greek cavalry heroically charged one German position and despite heavy losses, sabred the Germans and partisans in a gory melee, but then themselves came under fire from the German machine gun, lost their nerve and fled had to retire.


 Greek Cavalry charge down German stormtroopers and Partisans - the last cavalry charge of WW!?

Despite the cavalry's withdrawal, things had started to look up for the Greeks -  one German force down, and fire superiority over the machine gun was established as rifle grenades and chauchat gunners opened up, suppressing it. Unfortunately, at that point things took a turn for the worse - a large German ambush sprang up in front of one Greek platoon, catching it by surprise and driving it back with well aimed shooting. This would not have been a major problem except that the Greek captain, for some unknown reason, became indisposed and gave no orders or inspiration for a good while (for 3 turns - his card never came up...) and this meant the German forces took the initiateive and gained fire superiority for a critical period in the game, driving the Greeks back with losses.



German forces spring their ambush, forcing the Greek squads back

The Greeks fell back to the bridge and now had to stabilise the situation, and in the Captain's absence the platoon sergeant drove 2 of their trucks betwen their forces and the Germans to gain time to regroup. The heroic Captain finally reappeared again and started to rally the remnants of 2 squads while the 3rd beat a covering retreat to the bridge. The bridge was snarled up by the retiring cavalry getting in the way of the trucks, and it took a while to clear the logjam.    



Bridge muddle as retiring cavalry meet advancing trucks

In this time the Germans and partisans advanced on the 2 still re-forming Greek squads and drove them back over the bridge, the Captain having to play his Heroic Action card to mount a last-man-and-dog-gain-time resistance and then swim over the river. One Greek squad held onto the far side of the bridge, covered by the armoured car now moving up to the bridge, and the 2nd Greek platoon deploying on the far bank.

And so, as the day ended, it looked roughly the same as at the beginning except the Greeks now held the bridge against any demolition attempt, 2 Greek squads had taken fearful casualties, and they had lost 2 trucks. Unbeknownst to the Greeks though, they had very nearly found Countess Nadia - and their cavalry had sabred most of Major von Bösemann's henchmen in their charge!

Tomorrow was another day.....and this time the armoured cars were going over first!  

(Game using Mud & Blood rules - the non appearance of the Greek Captain's "Big Man" card for 3 turms in a row at a critical juncture spelled doom for the Greeks, as a lot needed doing in a hurry and nothing got done, and then despite his strenuous attempts at resistance later, it was essentially game over.)

Friday, 30 November 2012

Finding Nadia



The second battle in our 1918 Bulgarian mini-campaign as the Anglo-Greek force races across Bulgaria to rescue the Baroness Nadia Legova. Two platoons of Greek Evzones, each led by a British armoured car, converged on the village (below, top left and right).


The village waits (playing cards show blind possible positions of German troops. Top left of picture, the Right Flank Greek armoured car and platoon drives past the orchard. Top right, the Left Flank Greek platoon approached the village behind its armoured car. Bottom of picture are Germans hiding in a hastily dug trench. Right, out of the picture, a unit of flanking Greek cavalry is making its way through the trees)


German troops were hidden behind forward walls in the orchard on the Greek right and in the woods on the left, the aim being to slow the Greeks down, make them dismount from the trucks and walk over the fields where the machine guns can take them out.

The Greeks decided to use the armoured cars as mobile battering rams, knowing that there was a chance that they could be taken out by guns or close-in grenades, but moving up fast like this this would allow the infantry to get up closer faster, and not get shot up in a long foot slogging advance.

This strategem worked to an extent, the armoured cars were very hard to hit, but barriers across the roads held them up, and on one flank (the right flank) the Evzones did have to dismount to deal with German ambush units in the orchard. On the left flank, a unit of Greek cavalry was able to scout ahead and clear the way for the trucks to go across country, but were then pinned by the Germans in a  trench as they tried to go around the village flank (above picture, bottom centre) and took heavy losses

 

 German infantry in ambush shoot up the Greek trucks from behind the the orchard walls, forcing the Greek infantry to dismount in open ground and slowing their progress. The fighting to clear the Orchard was very fierce.


The Greek Evzones in the open on the right flank also took heavy losses, one squad being nearly wiped out, and another badly mauled before they could gain the walls as cover. From then on though, the initiative passed to the Greeks as they poured a hail of shots and rifle grenades and the armoured cars' machine guns to suppress the German machine gun posts. On the other flank the trucks, making heavy weather of the ground,  moved an entire platoon to take out the German squad in the trench (top of picture). This German squad had forced the Greek cavalry to retire but was now fairly shaky itself, and decided not to hang around to fight an entire Evzone platoon



Bottom of picture - Greek Evzone fire base behind a farm wall pours fire into Germans in the houses while (top of picture) Greek trucks go around the village left flank and prepare to assault the trench. Out of picture on bottom right the Greek Evzones have cleared out the Orchard and are threatening to move to the rear of eh village and capture the bridge.

German resistance was tenacious, but they also took losses. Once the Greeks had moved onto the village flanks, set up their fire bases, cleared the machine gun nests, and threatened to capture the bridge at the rear, the Germans felt there was no point in continuing and slipped away over the bridge, before the barricades were cleared and the armoured cars could intercept them.

(Mud & Blood rules, 1 German platoon and 2 Machine Guns defend a village against 2 Greek Evzone platoons and 2 Rolls Royce armoured cars. The Greek squads each carried a Chauchat LMG and rifle grenade team, which meant that once the fire bases were set up the Germans started to feel the impact) 


Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Rush for Sofia, and Nadia



A Salonica Front mini-campaign, late 1918. The French and Serbs have broken the Bulgarians, who are retiring in increasing disarray, The British have them stalemated at Doiran, Greek forwad units of Evzones and cavalry are starting to move through the gap the French have created. But some disciplined German and Bulgarian units are fighting a disciplined rearguard action as they attempt to withdraw, and not be cut off.

But within this big picture, the British behind-enemy-lines secret agent Countess Nadia Legova has been kidnapped by the Germans and is being rapidly transported away. The British must find her, and the mission has been entrusted to a top Chap, Captain Guy Goode. He has "borrowed" a Rolls Royce armoured car, and a platoon of Greek Evzones, and they are racing through the backroads of Bulgaria to rescue the Countess. But the Germans are holding key road junctions to delay pursuing Allied troops, and as the flying column nears one little Bulgarian town, local balkan bandit supporters warn them the Germans have prepared an ambush.



The Flying Column enters at the road bottom left, and must break through the roadblocks in the village and exit the table top centre by the end of the game to be able to catch the Countess in time

The Rolls Royce Armoured Car heads the column, acting as a tripwire to expose the German ambushes - possible ambushes are the playing cards on the table (above). The car comes round the first bend (see below) and is ambushed by Germans to both sides and in front, who throw grenade bags which put off the driver, and the car careens straight ahead, off the road, into the woods (bottom right) and the engine won't start. The first following truckful of Evzones alights and moves up to clear the Germans. The Evzones are crack troops, and armed with Chauchats and Rifle Grenades they outmatch the rifle armed Germans. However, the crafty Germans have a two-punch plan, the halted trucks behind the first are fired at by another group of Germans, in another ambush, so a second squad must dismount to deal with that....


The Armoured Car is being ambushed, flights of Grenades so discomfit the driver that he loses control and the car plows straight ahead, ending up stalled in the woods. In the top left the first truck's Evzones are dismounting. the big card in the foreground is about to prove to be more Germans in ambush.All thos trees on the right are about to come alive with the sound of German rifles

Our Heroic Chap boots the armoured car crew out the car to fix the engine while he turns it machine gun round to make sure Fritz doesn't come too close. But he is OK, Fritz now has his hands full with Evzones, and in fact Fritz and Hans et al soon lose their Bottle and retire in the face of Chauchats and rifle grenades.

The armoured car starts (hooray), reverses, gets back on the road, and rolls into the village, barging through the first blockade. More German units in ambush in the village try and bomb it, and it stall again! A bit of a tight spot, what.... The third Evzone truck however has raced through the last of the other firefights and arrives to support the Armoured Car in the nick of time. However, in the village a heavy machine gun opens up and all the Greeks dive for the ditches!

Fortunately, help is at hand - local bandits emerge to shoot at the German Machine Gun, which is then turned on them, and in that fortunate respite (not for the poor bandits, however...) the Evzones get themselves organised and start to clear the manor house and grounds (in the top picture, see walled garden and house to right of road by barricades). The Greek Lieutenant, having eventually cleared out the second ambush, takers his squad on an encircling manouvre round the left of the town, to link up with bandits on that side and take Jerry from the rear (oo er...). 


Greek irregulars arrive on the village outskirts and start sniping at the German machine gun nest, which turns on them with unfortunate consequences.....for the irregulars, and for the Germans too, as that respite allows the Greek Evzones to regroup and advance again....

In the meantine, the first squad of Evzones that dismounted has cleared out the German ambush, so they remount and their truck careens round the corner to help out. The Armoured Car crew can now safely get out and get the engine going, it finally restarts, rolls into town, pushes over the second barricade, and moves through the town and off up the road at full pelt with one truck behind it, leaving the other Greeks to mop up. 


The begining of the end of German resistance - the Armoured Car restarts and is about to move forward to clear the second barricade, one truckload of Evzones is right behind it, and (top left  of picture) another truck has remounted its squad and is on the way, while the Greek lieutenant (top centre of picture) is about to rout the Germans to his front, and lead his squad through the trees to attack the far side of the village (which stalls with high casualties, but by then its all over). 

Facing high losses and encirclement. the German commander decides it is better to surrender what is left of his force to the Allies rather than leave his men to retreat into the woods and the tender mercies of the circling bandits, and so they are disarmed and guarded by some of the Evzones, while a second truck full of Evzones mount up with the Keen Lieutenant and they hare off after the others. The German ambulance crew tend to Germans and Greek wounded while they wait for the units following to arrive..

Will they catch Major von Bösemann? Will the Countess be rescued? Is she in fact a double Agent? Tune in to the next exciting installment.... 

Game was played with Mud & Blood rules, which we love, it makes for an enjoyable and fast paced game. The German platoon were defined as poorer quality troops than the crack Evzones, who are also better armed at a squad level with a Chauchat and 2 rifle grenadiers, but the Germans do start the game in ambush and cover. But it is very hard to stop an armoured car in this period with platoon level weapons, and the Germands failed here, and once they had announced their presence, and even if  initially succesful, the greater firepower and morale of the Evzones soon put them on the back foot and then taking to their heels. We also had randomly appearing partisan units of either side, the Greeks got the better dice so had more help than the poor beleagured Germans.

German casualties (killed, wounded, routing) were about 50% at the end of the game, Greeks about 20%, but early medical attention from the German ambulance crew will hopefully help many live.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

1848 - The assault on Mano Cena


Following the first battle of Zelezna Kopje., the Trans-Syldavians retired to the village of Mano Cena, which stands at a narrow point at the head of the Stazni valley, and is a gateway to the TransSyldavian hinterland. They spent the next few days putting up barricades both in the village, and also in shoring up the medieval ditch and banked earth wall that still surrounded the village, and in barricading the gaps in it.

The Hungarians had spent the week rebuilding their forces, and receiving reinforcement.They had tried making feints around the village, but the rough, wooded valley hillsides were to easy for the TransSyldavian irregulars to defend and it became increasingly clear they would have to storm the village. Time was pressing, however. Autumn had started to turn bitter and winter would soon come, this would hugely help the TransSyldavian defenders as the high ground became snowed in, and delay any action until spring.

And so, a week after the first battle, they launched a reinforced attack in the early morning of October 8th.  Three infantry brigades, supported by a hussar brigade and guns, marched on Mano Cena. The Trans Syldavian forces were weaker than the forces that fought the week before, as the No. 1 Line Infantry regiment had received quite a mauling and had been pulled back a day's march to to rebuild and train. The village was defended that day by two bands of irregular bashi bazoukhs, soldiers and light guns from the TransSyldavian Grenz Regiment, the regional Militia, and the regional Huszar squadron that had so distinguished itself a week earlier.


 
Early Morning, Mano Cena - Irregular lookouts on the old medieval ditch and banks give the alert as the Hungarian army is spotted. Trans Syldavian forces rush to man the banks.


The TranSyldavian irregular pickets on the banked mound saw them and raised the alarm. Regulars from the Grenz regiment and the local Militia spilled out their billets and formed up, before racing to move up to their position on the mounds. Local volunteers assembled in the village. Artillerymen ran to the guns behind the barricades. The small Huszar unit saddled up but stayed by the village, awaiting events.

The irregulars on the walls moved off, left and right, into the woody terrain of the valley sides, hoping to harry the Hungarians from the flanks as they advanced. The villagers saddled up their chattels, chickens and childrens and moved in the opposite direction....


The dice is cast...and the locals vacate the village


The Hungarian forces all threw out skirmish screens of Grenzers and Jagers, while their infantry columns advanced behind this. A skirmish firefight soon ensued between them and the Trans-Syldavian irregular bashi bazouhkhs in the woods on both flanks. As with the last battle, the Hungarian right then seemed to hesitate, and the Trans-Syldavian bashi-bazoukhs on that flank seized on this and started to give them a lot of fire. If they could stop one brigade all day, that would be a huge benefit.

The Hungarian columns in the center and their left came into closer range of the guns and the bashi bazoukhs, and then into the range of the infantry on the mounds, and the valley filled with the sound of gunfire and stench of smoke. The carnage was dreadful, the Hungarians wavered, fell back, but they never broke, and soon on they came again. Again and again the TransSyldavians fired, again and again the Hungarans wavered, but still they never broke. Then, following a devastatingly accurate round of fire from the artillery,  two of their units did run.

A shout ran from the ditches, woods and banks "huzzah!" and the TransSyldavin Hussars moved onto the banks, to charge the discomfited Humgarians.

But where was the Hungarian cavalry?



TransSyldavian 3 pdr guns in action - despite coming under sustained artillery and sniper fire, their accurate enfilading fire on the Hungarian columns caused many an enemy heart to waver.



And  then disaster loomed as, on the far TransSyldavian right, the Hungarian Hussars emerged from the woods, they had been crossing the teacherous heights above the valley, and had got close to the village behind the irregular skirmish screen and now threatened to charge it on an unprotected side, getting between the infantry on the mounds and the scarecly defended village.




Hungarian Hussars emerge from the high meadows, making a pincer attack on the village. In the background, TransSyldavian irregulars kept a whole Hungarian brigade at bay for much of the day.

A small force of local volunteers, kept in reserve, had to rush to the barricades on this part of the village to defend it, but they would not be enough. To gain time then, the outnumbered Trans-Syldavian Huszars would have to charge the Hungarian ones - and in the ensuing fight these brave troops were routed, but they had gained the valuable time to shore up the village defences.. But at this point the rest of the Hungarian army's spirits rose and it pressed forward across the field. And then the battle truly turned, as on the Trans-Syldavian left, the irregulars were finally forced out their woods.

What had happnede was that the Hungarian right brigade that had sat doing nothing for much of the day had finally found its nerve and the whole force surged forward to attack the irregulars on that side, the good line infantry and crack Jager units put up a withering fire, forcing the bashi-bazoukhs to retire back into the foothills and off the table out the fight. This force then crashed through the woods, arriving on the village's left flank (below). The TransSyldavians could not cover the mounds and both village flanks.

The turning point - the Hungarians have now broken through the woods on the right, (top right) and while the fight in the centre and left is still raging, their hussars have also come through on the left of the village (out of picture, top left) threatening both flanks of the defenders on the mounds

At this point the call went out along the TransSyldavian lines, and Baron Blogovic galloped along the top of the ditch shouting "fall back, to the village" and the volunteers, Grenz and Militia units ran back to the village, to take positions in the houses and behind the barricades that had been erected earlier. The Artillery and the good Bishop Splenetic stayed to cover the retreat, then they too ran for the village, pulling their guns with them as fast as they could. The Hungarans then closed in, but so too did the night, and they decided that storming the village this night was not in their plans..(This was on about turn 12 of our game).


The TransSyldavians retire to the village barricades, as the guns hold on to the last moment. An invisible hand helps the Trans Syldavian Grenzers regroup, while Hungarian Grenzers gingerly advance to take the guns....


(28mm Hail Caesar rules but with move distances halved. We must have played about 12 turns between starting at about 8pm and having to pack up at about 10.30. Fast, furious action, many thrills and spills. Moving the large Hungarian force forward in a co-ordinated way was hard, as the dice gods were very capricious until the last few bounds. and the skirmishers and especially artillery fire kept on forcing the Hungarian columns to take morale tests, so forcing halts, retires, etc etc. It is not easy to take a defended position, what finally worked was being able to press on both flanks and the centre at once, forcing the retirement to the village!)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

1848 - First Battle of Zelezna Kopje





The Hungarian Army crosses into Trans-Syldavian lands - nearest are units of Grenz Light Infantry, Jagers and the Don Miguel Line Regiment plus guns, in the middle are a lot of dashing Hussars, and far way are Grenz Infantry and Jagers, with more cannon.


For various reasons (see here) we decided to play 1848-49 War of the Hungarian Independence battles, with 28mm figures (to capture the gloriously gaudy uniforms). 

In the early period of the War, the fighting was mainly skirmish level fighting, which we have been doing as we build up our forces. The Serbians mainly had non trained local Serbs, and from the Turkish territories. These are all all irregular but tough Balkan bandits - Bashi Bazouks. Also available were some Serbs fighting in Austrian service - the Grenz regiments, plus Czaikisten from the river fleet who served on foot as an artillery unit, equipped with 6pdr guns.

As I didn't have any Serb figures, but had quite a lot of Turkish and generic Balkan troops plus various Zouave types lying around, I invented a small Balkan Imagi-Nation - Trans-Syldavia - to model the sorts of Balkan forces revolting against the Hungarian boot. Their uniforms (oddly enough) looked exactly like my figures.....(the Hungarians can't tell the difference between all these Balkan peoples anyway..) 

On the Hungarian side, the government called on the 14th. and 15th. (Szekeler) Grenz Regiments, because these regiments were mainly formed of Hungarians, and they also had the Hungarian line infantry regiments, artillery, plus Honved infantry - freshly raised volunteer infantry - and of course, their famous Hussars. And so, they launched attacks all along the Balkan borders.

Initially Trans Syldavia saw little more than skirmishing raids, but on Monday 17 September, after months of low level skirmishing, the Hungarian forces finally made a major push into TransSyldavia and crossed the Trans-Syldavian border at the head of the Stazni valley, clearly wanting to own this main road before the snows came. Companies of the Don Miguel Infantry Regiment, the 14th Grenz Infantry, Hungarian Jagers and Insurrection Hussars, supported with 6 pounders, made a move to capture the village of Malo Cena, and secure the road down the valley and onto the Trans-Syldavian plains.

Throughout the months of skirmishing, a large band of irregulars defended Malo Cena and the Stazni Valley, based around the village at the head of it. They had been supported with a company of ex-Austrian Grenz infantry and their 3pdr battalion guns. This small force had recently been reinforced by a band of Trans Syldavian irregulars, fleeing from Hungary.

This force was ordered to make a stand at the village, to give time for reinforcements to get up the valley. They decided to meet the Hungarians on the rolling neadows where the farmland and orchards  start, so they could use its cover and retire to the village as a second line. So, on that morning, these forces took cover in the orchards and crop fields and awaited the onslaught, led by the firebrand Bishop Splenetic (below)  



Trans Syldavians await the Hungarian onslaught - front (right flank) are some irregular Trans Syldavian nationals from Hungarian lands, flying the Austrian flag, in the cabbage fields. Behind them by the wheat fields are the Bishop, Grenz infantry and 3pdr, behind themt a troop of Huszars who had arrived. And far in the distance on the left flank are Trans Syldavian irregular bashi-bazoukhs in the orchard.


Soon the Hungarians advanced into view, coming over the rolling meadows, in 3 divisions - on the left and right flanks they had mixed Line Infantry, Grenzers and Jagers, with gusns. In the centre a large force of Hussars




The Hungarian right division - Line infantry, Grenzers, Jagers and 6 pdr guns painted in Hungarian stripes. Behind them can be seen the Hussars


The Hungarian infantry seemed to advance very very cautiously, but not so the Hungarian Hussars who galloped with great dash across the meadows, and attacked the guns and sabred the gunners who hadn't run. They swirled around the Grenzers (who had retired into the wheat fields) and one detachment charged the Trans Syldavian Huszars who had been trying to manouevre around the flank.


Hungarian Hussars thunder down the meadows


The Trans Syldavian Huszars however, although caught to flank (the dreaded 3 move charge), turned, received the Hungarian charge at the halt, shot their carbines, then pulled out the multitude of pistols secreted in their cummerbunds, fiired those, then proceded to whack the Hungarians with their sabres, axes, maces and whatever other ironwork they carried. The Hungarians fled the field, never to return! (splendid dicing - Huzzah!)

By now the Hungarian left flank Jagers and guns had advanced and were skirmishing with the irregulars in the cabbage fields, but their right flank had decided to halt.

This delay prevented the Hungarians from launching a concerted assault on the small holding force, so valuable time was bought. Then the drums of the relief force were heard on the far left flank. The Duke's son led 2 companies of the freshly recruited Trans Syldavian 1st infantry regiment, plus some of the local milita and gendarmes, and their 3 pdr guns. This force marched at full speed at the still reluctant Hungarian right, the bashi bazouhks in the orchard and the Huszars moving up with them to cover the flank.




Relief on the Left Flank - 2 units of freshly raised TransSyldavian infantry (blue coats, far left) and city militia (white coats, centre) move up quickly in attack column to assault the Hungarian right and turn a flank. The bashi bazoukhs (right) occupy a knoll on the flank, but (right, top) the remaining Hungarian cavalry is moving to support


With the bravado of inexperience the TransSyldavians charged the Hungarian line, the Grenzers fled at the point of the bayonet but the Don Miguel infantry stood and slugged it out The threat from the Hungarian cavalry disappeared after the artillery found their range and the bashi-bazoukhs started peppering them from the knoll and they retired.

Could the inexperienced TransSyldavians pull off an historic victory?


Action on the reluctant Hungarian Right Flank. Trans Syldavian Infantry and units of the Hungarian Don Miguel regiment and Jagers in furious melee


The Hungarian Jagers then countercharged, the 6 pdrs opened up on the Huszars, and the old salts of the Don Miguel shoved the inexperienced infantry back. Being attacked by fresh troops was too much and one of the Trans Syldavian comapnies broke, the other retired, and the Huszars felt they had done enough and also retired at full gallop.

On the other flank, a concerted charge through the cabbages by 2 units of Hungarian Grenzers forced the irregulars in there to retire, and the Bishop and his Grenzers retirds though the wheatfield in good order.

The Hungarians had won the field - but quite a few of their units were shaken or scattered, and theiir hussars were in no state to pursue, so the Trans Syldabvian forces retired to the village in the gathering darkness. 

Round One to the Hungarians on points, but no knockout blow and they had had a few shocks from poorer troops.


Footnote - in this period, the Austrian army officially supported the Hungarian Government. Unofficially though they supported the Serbs for the Rebellion, so the situtation was very confusing. As the King was weak, Vienna accepted the Hungarian rebellion, but at the same time they secretly supported the other minor nations inside the Empire to rebel against the Hungarians. Then, when the Habsburg throne felt strong enough, they started fighting against the Hungarians openly. So, there is a time limit here - can the Hungarians overrun Trans-Syldavia quickly enough, before unofficial Austrian arms supplies and advisors can beef up its forces, or even Austrian reinforcements are painted appear?

We shall see....

(Update - the second battle in the mini campaign is now over here)

On using Black Powder on such a small game - the rules flow well, great fun with the reluctant Hungarian right flank commander (no doubt shot by now for cowardice) but we felt on a 6x4 table we shuld halve movement (and maybe range) as the "3 move cavalry assault" is too fast. Also, h2h combat is very quick in its impact vs shooting, we can see how over multiple combats in a big game with huge forces it evens out, but may look at making it last a bit longer for these smaller games.

Monday, 17 September 2012

1848 - the Hungarians are Coming!


The Hungarians are finally invading!  All along the border the watchfires are burning.
The Army of Trans-Syldavia is assembling for the campaign - L-R Infantry Regt No 1, Battalions 1 and 2, Infantry Regiment No 2, 1st Battalion, and the Duke's Huszars, led by the Duke's son - behind them is the Artillery



View from the other side - Right to Left - the Duke's Own Zouaves, the Grenz Regiment, and the local Border Militia, and behind them the doughty Bashi Bazoukhs, led by Bishop Splenetic, who have been doing most of the fighting so far.

The army is about to move out for the front, to face the Hungarian horde....the two headed pink flamingo of Trans Syldavia flutters proudly in the breeze

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Somewhere in Europe, 1947 - Weird World War 2

An encounter battle between US (Colin Hagreen, who also took most of these photos) and my Soviet forces, somewhere in Europe, 1947...the US were led by HellBoy!




US troops advance into a village, taking cover behind the new Sherman armed with twin lascannons (above). US engineers have found that they can fit a Sherman with twin lascannons of the same power as a single US 76mm, doubling its hitting power.

However, also racing to take the village are Soviet Naval forces, riding on T-34 Hovertanks. After overrunning Nazi UFO research facilities, the Soviets adapted the T-34 hovertank for amphibious formations, it has a massive Klimov turbofan in the center of the tank, necessitating moving the turret to the rear The rear tank below is armed with the good old Russian 85mm gun, the front one with the Ultrasonic Vibrocannon anti-infantry weapon. (This gun mashed Hellboy into a vibrating pulp before being taken out by the Rooseveldt Organ US Rocket tank - sadly neither Hellboy nor that US tank have been released from secret US files)





Uh Oh....not a good time to throw two pairs of snake-eyes ( 4 x 1's, below) - a twin lascannon Sherman spectacularly misses a fast advancing T-34 Hovertank. 



Soviet naval Infantry, supported by T-34 Hovertanks and an SU-123 Railgun hovertank destroyer (below), counter a US tank advance. Crews are not that keen on the (H)TD owing to the massive discharge from its railgun capacitor tube (on turret) omn firing which, if the earthing straps are not on the ground at the time, can fry the crew too.
 


The lighter gunned but twin lascannon (better hit probability) armed Shermans vs the bigger single gun (bigger impact when hitting) of the T-34/85 hovertanks provided the major slugfest in the game,  higher Hovertank speed wasn't really significant. The Soviets eventually won this encounter by the clever strategy of throwing better dice. Riding on the tanks also allowed them to get Naval infantry into hard cover faster than the US troops.

But by far the most fearsome weapon was the US double-rocket launcher tank. The Russian tank destroyer's railgun also put some big hits on the US forces but also recorded some spectacular misses.(Gruntz rules,  adapted a bit, 300 pts a side)

Update - Russian spy photographs have identified a strange figure watching the fight. Next time, things clearly won't be so easy for the Soviets.....

Sunday, 9 September 2012

28mm New Byzantium "Hard Sci Fi" force



To match my Arabic style "lower tech" (aka wheeled) Sci Fi force I am starting New Byzantium's higher tech one, using the French Legion Etraterrestriale as a model - so, in true Francophone style I have got 2 light grav-tanks (Antenociti Skorpions), with big railgun. Also on the force, with the infantry squads, will be SAWbots (front) and the hull from a 15mm Combat Wombat catamaran style vehicle which I will use as a platform to place some form of support weapon (or maybe a medevac) on.

I've put an Old Crow Gecko and some of my Arabs (GW Tallarn Raiders) in the pic for comparison in to give an idea of scale.

Haven't decided on camouflage yet, but probably a deserty style one (the FFL use a nice 3 tone brown one I've seen. I'm keeping the Arabs a simple light weathered khaki). I also haven't yet decided on the infantry, I don't want far-future nor do I want a "day-after-tomorrow" styles

On the far right are some of the 25 Russian sailors I have been touching up (oo-er missus) for Weird World War 2

Friday, 31 August 2012

Weird World War II T-34 Railgun Tank Destroyer



Next up, the T-34 Tank Destroyer with Railgun. It fires a frisbee shaped very hard steel disk, which generates lift at a very high velociy, so has a far longer range than a shell. The downside is that the disk can catch a gust of wind and drift off course.

The huge capacitors generate a massive charge on firing, so the crew are always a bit nervous that it may earth on the tank, and several crews have been smoked this way. It takes time to recharge the capacitors from the engine, but the extra range on the open steppes is felt to be worth it.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Weird World War II T-34 with Vibrocannon



More Weird World War 2 from the Workbench

T-34 Hovertank with Ultrasonic Vibroccannon Anti-Aircraft gun, shoots a concentrated burst of low frequency sound waves in a variable directed beam, which shakes the aircraft apart and can ignite bombs carried.

Also useful on infantry as it turns their innards to mush.Unfortunately if beam is absorbed or deflected or range is too far, it merely turns them into Zombies.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

War is finally coming to Trans-Syldavia




Following the border skirmishing in winter and spring, the much feared news is coming in that the Hungarian Honved is finally on the move, and the Trans Syldavian Army (such as it is) and the new hastily recruited militias (along with their new hastily sewn standards - see above - featuring the traditional Trans-Syldavian 2 headed Flamingo and some Austrian style bordering, in the hope of attarcting some Austrian style support.) are moving to the border as I write.

For those not familiar with Trans-Syldavia, it shares much of its history with Syldavia (but preferring fierce slivovitz to cool mineral water), but was reconquered by the Ottomans from Borduria, where it has stayed - though after the Napoleonic Wars it was able to operate fairly independently (being both far away and not very important) and reverted to its traditional industries of farming, fishing, fur-trapping and mountain banditry.

But in this year of 1848, nationalism rises fiercely in the blood, and only True Independence (and hopefully some Hungarian territory) will do.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

25mm Sci Fi Technicals



I seem, by various means, to have acquired a number of different "Techncal" type vehicles. These are (L-R) Antenociti Warthog, Old Crow Gecko, Void Junkers buggy and Old Crow Goanna.

The Antenociti vehicle is quite large and relatively comfortable and is earmarked to be the HQ of my Sci Fi forces (GW Tallarn Raider figures for size comparison).

We've been trying out a number of rulesets, and I'm still working out what "New Byzantium" would look like in general - latest thoughts are:

1. The regioinal (Thematic) forces comprise mainly of light vehicles like these, representing the light cavalry of a Byzantine army, and infantry in light APCs. The heaviest regional forces are light tanks and light air support (drones)

2. The "Rapid Reaction Force" are the elite light regiments (Trapezitae, Turkopoloi, Vardariots, Gianitzaroi etc) - a similar makeup to regional forces, but much better trained and with better aerial support. They can make planetfall relatively easily.

3. The "Tagmata" or central army has rarer, more powerful forces at hand:

- The Klibanophoroi - the heaviest armoured vehicles
- The Kataphraktarii - main battle tank troops
- The Varangian Guard - infantry in heavy power armour
- The Latinikon - a sort of armoured "Foreign Legion", weaponry not so heavy as the Kibanophoroi but more likely to be used as backups for the "Rapid Reactiion Force"

The 15mm game is probably the only one where heavy Tagmatic forces will be involved, though - for the moment I'm building a regional skirmish force in 25mm.

The above troops belong to their deadly enemies, the forces of Wadiya

(See earlier thoughts here)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Weird War 2




In 1945 the Russians overran the part of Germany where Flying Saucer research was being done, one result of that was the development of huge Klimov Turbofan engine that they have retrofitted into the T-34 tank, creating the T-34/85 Hovertank - ideal for open country and amphibious warfare. As you can see, they had to put the heavy engine in the centre for balance reasons, re-siting the turret at the rear. They also had to put a massive air intake fan where the hull machine gun went.

(I converted a bunch of Plastic Soldier WW2 T-34s tanks for my "Standard" Sci-Fi IFV/APC chassis, using other turrets -see pic over here - but, of course the other big application is for Weird World War 2. The tracks are turned around for the skirt, I reversed the engine air intake and turret, and mounted a cut off idler wheel where the hull machine gun is as an auxilliary forced draught fan)

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Of What is to come....



As mentioned in my last post, both my SYW Tricorne and 1848 Balkan era opponents are currently indisposed, which has brought those 2 campaigns to a halt, and in the interim the Caribbean has beckoned.

But that is not all - as I have mentioned before, I am building a Sci Fi force too, and here are its latest recruits - 6 x 15mm Antenociti Workshops' Skorpion light tank with catamaran hulls - I had to have it for that hull!

On the left for size comparison are (front, L-R) a Brigade Models Lynx APC with Old Crow turret, and a converted 15mm Plastic Soldier T-34 with Brigade Models Twin Gatling turret, and behind (L-R) are a GZG hover-bot and GZG Wittman Medium AFV. The Skorpion is a bit bigger than all of them, is quite a lot taller, and looks very mean with a noticeably large gun :)


These new additions will serve as medium armoured but fast tank destroyers, carrying a big punch, and are the heaviest AFVs available to any Armoured Cavalry force, as they can still be easily transported and dropped quickly into hot spots. The bulk of the regional fighting is done by the older but trusty HoverT-34 IFV with its various weapons pack loadouts (autocannon, gatlings, missiles, tank destroyer gun etc). Only the central army has heavier armour.

So far we've tried Gruntz, Tomorrow's War and Hammers Slammers rules, they all have plusses and minusses.

(I've just tried washing on camouflage on 2 tanks, as you can see it needs quite a bit of toning down - next step to drybrush over it - though it looks far less contrasty in "real life"  - though mnust say I've actually grown to like the simple desert sand scheme, so maybe I'll just leave them all plain).

Monday, 23 July 2012

More Derring Do...

In Europe, the French Corps du Vin, along with the Saxe-Märchen contingent, are still trying to contact the Reluctant Prussians (my 7YW opponent has broken his leg, I'm still painting Perfidious Albion, so still no Tricorne action as yet - and my Trans-Syldavia 1848 co-conspirator has had work interfering with his gaming life, its a Freebooting life for me at the moment...).

Anyway, on the Spanish main, there have been more daring deeds aplenty. As you may know, the  Governeur was captured by the British. Ransomed off, he has now been restored and it is the job of the Compagnie Franche de la Marine de St Jacques to get him from the harbour to the Governors residence without incident - as word has it that various pirate groups have calculated that Governor-Kidnap is a more lucrative trade than actual Piracy.



The French party hurry the Governeur from Harbour to Fort through the dangerous streets of St Jacques. Fat Governeur in purple - surrounded by militia


Unknown to the French, there were 3 parties of Pirates lurking in St Jacques, plus a party of Royal Marines (the Governeur having made some unwise promises during his incarceration) AND a Spanish party (its all written up over here)

The French made the decision to move Le Governeur along sharpish like (Frog-marched in fact), so despite his gout and corpulence he was moved through Le Rue Grande as fast as he could move - just as well, as the pirates were in hot pursuit...



Pirates burst into the Tavern garden, disturbing the Mayor (seated) and the Governeur's daughter (seated on his lap) who were busy discussing the mayor's arising issue of the day


At any rate, the mission was a success. Except for the intervention of some British marines that Lieutenat Quesne, Sarjante B. Geste and two troopere were left to hold them off while the Capitaine hurried the Governeur to the Fort, it was just another day in St Jacques town.... 

(Legends of the High Seas rules, 6 player game)



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Attack on Fort St Jacques


Fort St Jacques


Another morning in paradise dawned as the bright sun rose over Fort St Jacques, on the waterfront of St Jacques Town, on the French Caribbean island of St Jacques. Captain Bertrand climbed up to the observation tower to scan the horizon and the still sleeping town. The mist was slowly rising over the land, but the sun was already bright on the Fort's battlements

"All quiet so far?" he asked the sentry on duty.

"All quiet" mumbled teh sentry, clearly just awakened

The Captain extended his telescope and surveyed the sea, the town, and the shore....


 Captain B_ surveys St Jacques Town - and sees something

However, a movement caught his eye - out beyond the rocks on the shoreline, among the palm trees. He focussed his telescope.


Bonny Annie sports a magnificence pair of pistols

There - in his eyeglass - Bonny Annie and her Band of Buccaneers! Scourges of the Spanish Main! Famous from Tortuga to Tahiti for her pair of large.... pistols. She was trying to sneak up on the Fort to free her key henchman, Dirty Dick, whom the Captain had captured earlier that week.

The Governor was adamant that Big Dick would swing later that day from the town gallows, Annie was clearly trying to mount an early morning surprise rescue from the Fort jail.



The Pirates try and rush the Fort while the garrison are still asleep

"Shoot at them" yelled Captain Bertrand to the sentry, knowing that would be the quickest way of rousing the Garrison. The Sentry raised his musket, pulled the trigger, and....pffft. The musket ball rolled out the barrel.


Cursing the incompetence of colonial militia sentries, the captain yelled as loudly as he could for the garrison to wake up, but shouting from the high observation post was lost in their snoring. In desperation he fired his pistol - which woke Lieutenant Quesne (pron. Keen) up, and he and two men stumbled outside and up on to the battlements to see what was going on. The sentry on the docks was also roused by this and climbed onto one of the ships to get a better view

Wiping the sleep from their eyes they all saw the pirates, opened fire, and two shots found their mark, and one pirate fell dead, while another howled as a musket ball hit his (now ex-)parrot.

This noise roused the rest of the Garrison who managed to muster themselves and ran to shut the wide open Fort main gate and after a few desultory shots at the battlements, Bonny Annie and her cutthroat crew fell back.

The Captain was congratulating himself when a runner came down from the Governors mansion up the hill, to tell him that the Governor had been kidnapped! Bonny Annie had just been a diversion. The Governor's daughter had narrowly evaded capture because....and at that point she fell silent, as it was clear she had not spent the night in the Governorial mansion!

(We played a big pirate game on a c 8 x 6 table using Legends of the High Seas rules, this was one of 2 main actions in the game, the other was the attack on the other side of the hill that splits St Jacques Town, by the brewery and tavern. There the town militia had fought valiantly all morning, helped somewhat by the three attacking pirate crews falling out with each other over plunder rights.

My Compagnie Franche de La Marine de St Jacques in the garrison slept soundly through most of the action (my lousy dicing), only rousing themselves then slowly coming out the barracks once the pistol went off, so were ineffective throughout the game. The Mayor would have taken a dim view on such a dereliction in the light of the Governor's capture, but then again, if he made too much noise it may come out, as Captain Bertrand tactfully pointed out, as to where exactly the Governor's daughter had been that night....)

Monday, 7 May 2012

The pirates of St Jacques

Compagnie Franche de la Marine de St Jacques

Salute has kept us South London Warlords busy the last few weeks so not a lot of campaigning or painting has happened -but in the future there will be Pirates (Arrrr) and my contribution is the Compagnie Franche de la Marine de St Jacques* (above)

In focus are our heroes, those characters who Will Have Names. Out of focus are the Extras, the never ending supply of poor sods who always get shot in each episode of the movie.

St Jacques, by the way, is the mythical Caribbean island and town dreamed up by Patrick Leigh Fermour in his novella "The Violins of St Jacques". In later times, St Jacques was a hotbed of culture until consumed by volcanic eruptions. (The island was basically one big volcano...ooops)

But in our time, there are violins (I painted four of 'em) but also lots of piratical violence and derring-do, which the Compagnie has to put a stop to.And protect the Governor, and his daughter, from the evil designs of various blackguards.

Arrr

*Which, I agree, does look suspiciously like the Arquebusiers de Bergerac in undress, but one should never be confused wth them.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Molefe saves the day

We interrupt Seven Years War Imagi-Nation tales temporarily to bring you 1980's Cold War Africa....

The Ridiculusium mine at Bazinga in the Eastern province was always going to be a major bone of contention, sighed President-For-Life Mokele-Mbembe. Educated at Oxford (Poly), he took over the country in the 1960's Uhuru, and his grateful people had made him Leader for life, which was now being propped up by all sorts of modern medical miracles.


So long as the there was Ridiculusium so close to their border with the Communist supported Social Democratic People's Republic, there would be war and turmoil. And that meant requiring far more of an army than the President necessarily wanted. His view of an army was that it should be small, professional. and his posssession alone.

Mbembe had inherited the British colonial forces at Independence (mainly WW2 equipment plus a few Saladin armoured cars), and in the 1960's and 70's was still largely linked to Britain. But the British wanted to charge top whack for new equipment, so the only modernisation the army had in the 1970's was when he wangled some old ex Vietnam equipment after a speech at the UN where he and Kissinger got drunk one evening in Little Italy.

It was during the Scorpion Affair in 1980 when he realised that being a French client state got you more contract kickbacks and Foreign Aid, especially the sort provided by the Foreign Legion - very useful by then, as the Marxist rebel leader Emela-nTouka was causing much trouble in the Eastern provinces, funded from across the border.

One French language laboratory course and the switching of squirrelled family assets to France later, and the President and country became Francophone, much to the bemusement of the population, though the switching of beer from bitter to biere in the state shebeens was welcomed. The more tangible result was a shipload of old gear (quite a bit of it ex-US) that the French didn't need anymore.


 Aerial view of the Ridiculisium Mine at Bazinga, with the Regiment deployed. East is to the left

Fast forward to today, a clear blue late spring sky has dawned, and Private Molefe, a newly conscripted recruit of the Eastern Province Regiment, was sitting on his Toyota 4x4 pickupe cleaning his 106mm Recoilless rifle while his section, posted as vedettes, watched the East from their position among the old ruins of Zimwebab. The rest of his Regiment (well, more a battalion really) was posted around Bazinga town and the Ridiculusium mine, as there were rumours that Cuba Libre mercenaries had arrived and the Social Democratic People's Republic may mount an attack to seize it. So seriously were these warnings taken that the French Foreign legion and the President's First (and only) Mechanised Brigade was driving up that day to secure it.

A drone in the air, initially lost in the morning chorus of cicadas, became audible as the lookouts up on the ruined walls shouted down that they could see vehicles approaching along the road - from the wrong direction for the French. They tried to raise the HQ at the Mine, but clearly the lazy buggers were still getting breakfast.


 Tanks come pouring over the rise, Molefe and Co are holed up in the ruins (bottom left)

Within minutes, tracked vehicles were going past them on the main road, and Molefe gulped and aimed his weapon. A boom and whoosh was followed up by an immense bang! as the shot struck home and the leading vehicle went up in smoke.  At that point 2 other Technicals came hurtling round the ruins, shouting to get the hell out as "many, many tanks" had come over the rise. The sections kicked into gear - with an entire enemy tank battalion coming up their arses.- and the pickups bounced across the veld, aiming for a nearby kopje where another vedette section was posted

"Good Shooting, Lance Corporal Molefe" beamed the Lieutenant

Molefe's section was fired at from the pursuing tanks, who found it very difficult to hit the small bucking technicals as they bounced along, but it was clear that the angles were all wrong, so Molefe and Co stopped behind a useful donga and decided to give the enemies another shot to see if they would draw away. There was some superb shooting and Molefe's gun put a round into the HQ section, causing total confusion among the enemy units. Sadly, Molefe's section took hits as they exited and the other jeep was hit.

"Good shooting, Corporal Molefe" yelled the Lieutenant, "You are in charge of the section now" as they re-mounted their jeeps and ran for the mine before the enemy collected their wits again.



 Molefe's section shoot down 3 of the enemy scout section before trying to retreat over the veldt to the kopje (corner bottom right)

By this time the main enemy thrust had reached the town of Bazinga and were deploying their first wave as the inexperienced conscripts of the Eastern Province regiment fired AK-47's and RPG-7s wildly over their heads. Old Colonel Tembu, who had been trained at Sandhurst and Moscow, prepered to sell his life and that of his inexperienced troops as dearly as they could (before they ran), when suddenly boom! boom! boom! and the enemy first wave vehicles started to blow up. Tembu turned his glasses West, and there he saw large wheeled vehicles on the far side of the vlei moving rapidly forward, shooting as they went. The French had arrived! 


J'arrive - the big AMX 10 RC guns start blasting the enemy personnel carriers from across the vlei.

With the Legion now arriving at the mine, and the Spahi d'Afrique's AMX 10's big guns outranging those of the aged T-55 tanks of the Cuba Libre "mercenaries" that the enemy were using, they decided to retire as dusk fell. The Ridiculusium mine was still intact in State hands for now.

(First game using Fistful of Tows III - 450 pages of ruleset were quite daunting, but they worked well and played quickly once we got the hang of it - the differences of morale and equipment effectiveness gives nuance, but there is still room for the gods of fate - Sergeant Molefe's uncanny abiity to throw sixes, and the enemy's inability to hit the techinicals - to blunt the best of tactics, in this case one side of the enemy's pincer attack!)

Friday, 6 April 2012

Perfidious Albion on the march


Perfidious Albion is building forces in Europa

A bit of a backstory to the Saxe-Märchen blog so far....

In essence we are building up to a big game (France v Prussia) in a few weeks time, and in the meantime we are going to have a smaller "Wargames Scenario" game between the Reichsarmee Brigade and some Unknown Furriners to try out Maurice Lite - the blogging here is the machinations to all that.

And in the meantime, the painting buildup of British forces is starting. They are based on Age of Reason organisation (like my French). The first British battalion is done but unflagged (centre pic, and there are 3 brigades now nearly based as follows:

- Centre of pic - British brigade, 3 line battalions, 1 fusilier 
- Right - Hanoverian Brigade - 4 line battalions.
- Far right - Mixed Brigade - 2 Highlander battalions, 2 Legion Brtittanque battalions
- At the far rear is teh fisrt battalion of the German forces (Hessians, Brunswickers etc)

On  the left is the start of the cavalry brigades, as follows:

Front - Hanoverian Garde du Corps and Grenadiers (1 squadron each). To be joined by British Dragoons and Brunswicker heavies.

- Centre - Royal North British Dragoons. To be joined by 2 more German Dragoon regiments

- Rear - British Light Dragoons - to be joined by 2 German Hussar regiments 

On the front are 3 of 4 Light infantry detachments, and 2 of 3 planned combined Grenadier battalions.

Not shown are 2 Heavy Guns and 4 Medium Guns.

We are also awaiting drafts of Officers, Standard bearers and Musicians.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Prussian blues


An Aide of Field Marshal Souibise rode up to the Duc de Pinotage and his Generals...

"Have you found the Prussians?"

"No - Have You found the Prussians?"

"No"

"Well, tell us if you find them"

"Yes, You too"

"Oh - and what of your Reichsarmee lot?"

"They are going north into the Hesse Hatlland"

"Have they seen the Prussians"

"No, just Hessians with various hats"

"Oh. Ah, Soubise told me he is assigning the Hohenzollern Kurassiers to you. There are 61 different states in their 2 squadrons. Wants you to lick 'em into shape. Byeee...must dash"

(When Soubise's army invaded Saxony, the thin Prussian forces scuttled away, Frederick had to make haste from the other side of Prussia.)