Tuesday, 25 April 2017

FOW Version 4 trial - Normandy '44

 

Today I put together an ad-hoc trial of Flames of War Late War verison 4, based in the close country of Normandy in the summer of '44. This Norman valley is fairly well populated with small towns and a village, and the area accross the table, with the coniferous woods, forms considerably higher ground than the bottom of the valley either side of the stream.



Rolling for the scenario, Annihilation came up - which is was convenient - no objectives, no complicated deployment zones, just 1 foot in from each long table edge.



I spent quite some time putting together the stat lines for each side - possibly got a few things wrong but everything felt right in the game...Each side had around 1500 points, which feels strange after playing so much Team Yankee 100 point games!



The British were based around the Guards Armoured Division Armoured Recconnaisance Regiment - 2nd Armd. Recce Bn the Welsh Guards. (Whose tac markings should be white, btw, not yellow!) with 10 Cromwells.


Fire support came from a battery of 5.5 inch Guns.


The second formation consisted of 2 infantry platoons from 3rd Bn Irish Guards:


with a 3 inch mortar battery in support:


And of course, essential for Normandy, hard hitting air support from the 2nd ATAF in the form of Priority Air Support from a flight of 3 tiffies:


The defending Germans had a platoon of 5 Panthers, whose frontal armour was invulnerable to the Cromwell's 6 pounder, whilst the frontal armour of the Cromwell could not withstand a hit from the Panther! Much rested on the Brylcream Boys!



For fire support the Germans depended principally on a battery of three 15cm Nebelwerfers, hiding in the marshalling yards...



and a platoon of four 120mm mortars nestled in one of the many woods. The German force had only the one platoon of Grendier infantry.



The Micks went forward first in the half light of the pre dawn...


Followed by the Merry Welch as soon as there was more light - given the harsh realities of the relative quality of the opposing tanks, the plan was to maximise the speed of the Cromwell and probe along a wide front troop by troop,



hoping to form a right angle between two mutually supporting troops so that at least one troop might get flanks shots in...


The German plan had been to keep concentrated and simply react to the Allies, but deployment was cramped in an attempt to gain concealment from Air attack by remaining within lee of tall buildings.


Which proved sufficient to escape without damage from the first air raid...
 

As the Welsh Guards used their speed and a succesion of 'Follow Me' orders to get well forward...


and attempt to form a kill sack around the Panther's likely route of advance...



Whilst the opposing infantry raced each other to be first to get to the hard cover of the empty town...


The second air strike caught the Panthers entirely in the open, but only caused a brace of bails...


So that whilst the Cromwells had raced down to the valley floor, and used every scrap of cover to advantage...


The Panthers had managed not to get themselves into a fire sack, presenting their tough frontal armour to both troops of the first wave of Cromwells...


With the inevitable result...


The formation commander took stock of the situation - he still had an uncommitted troop up his sleeve...


And only one way to outflank the Panthers: send the third troop right around the road network using their phenomenal Road Dash speed - 32 inches, plus another 4 if a 'follow me' order worked, so as to fetch up on the opposite flank of the Panthers - one way or another they'd be recieving side shots...but first some smoke from the 3 inch mortars to protect the Cromwell's own flank as they raced down the road...
 

And they did make good time down to and around the town, itself the site of an ongoing infantry firefight...


And with some Grenadiers assaulting the rear most Cromwells on their way through...



The rear most Cromwells were quite exposed, as the assualting infantry were immune to their defensive fire, having snuck up on them, and a Panzerschreck having bailed one of them, but the defensive fire of the supporting Micks was enought to beat the assault back...which was just as well, since meanwhile, the Panthers had been closing on the other side of the kill sack - but poor shooting at concealed and gone-to-ground Cromwells resulted in only one bail... a lucky break, but the timing was going to be close...


The outflanking troop, having recovered from their sprint, jockeyed for their flank shots....


A target rich enviroment, with plenty of side shots to take...but, alas, only one bailed out Panther to show for the dash!


And in the next turn the Panthers, having manouevered once again with their front armour now showing to both surviving Cromwell troops, extracted their revenge!


With a distinct lack of air strikes in the last few turns, and both remaining troops hurting, it was time for the Cromwells to withdraw...


So with this only my second game of FOW Version 4, and my first attempt at translating it to cover the Late War period, I was very pleased with the rules and play process, if not the rather one sided outcome! It is similar enough to Team Yankee that I am confident in my mastery, yet still delivers that WW2 flavour.


Friday, 21 April 2017

Maurice Campaign - 'the First War of Succession'


Gary and 3 other lads at the uni club have been running a Maurice campaign loosely based around the Seven Years War, or at least that part of it when a madder than usual Russian Czar was enamoured of Frederick the Great...


Their armies are largely composed of beautifully painted Pendraken 10mil figures, which unfortunately is one of the few scales I don't have an army in, so I have remained aloof from the fisticuffs, also because my time is more than taken up with a Hail Caesar Ancient Greek campaign, Team Yankee, Bolt Action, getting my head around FOW V4, etc etc - typical wargamer overstretch!


But the pair of game put on by the lads this Thursday evening were not only visually very attractive, but also featured some interesting, possibly unusual, and definately not noice tactics so I thought I might blog about it from a position of ignorance - confusion and ignorance has never stopped me blogging in the past if a couple of half decent photos come out of the dozens I snapped!


Please allow Gary to set the scene:

In the South the Prussians hastened to support their Russian comrades and intercept the pursuing Austrians. The course of the battle may well have been predicted when the Prussians won the initiative against an Austrian +2 superiority in scouting.


Once the Austrians had deployed and committed their considerably superior (in both numbers and quality) Cavalry force to their left flank, the Prussians promptly deployed their own cavalry as far away as possible on the opposite flank and covered the Austrian line with their own Lethally Volleyed superior infantry and Grande battery.


Of course marching ones cavalry into such a hailstorm would be quite silly but regardless, the Prussians were a little surprised when the Austrian cavalry about faced and headed over to the other flank seeking out those Prussians now pre-occupied with maintaining their lines in perfect order.


This relocation of the Austrian mounted did however take several actions and the Prussian infantry did not hesitate to advance into musket range of the now mostly conscript Austrian infantry after the battle last month against the Russians. (Units get degraded in quality in the next battle of the campaign after being wiped out in battle)


The Austrian foot could not retrograde fast enough and soon felt the full rathe of those lethal volleys with several lucky rounds of firing reeking considerable carnage amongst their ever diminishing ranks...

 

As the Austrian mounted rounded the right flank of their army and advanced on the Prussian cavalry...


the Prussian cavalry now in the most absolutely perfect straight lines ever witnessed on any battlefield, the Prussian guns and a couple of infantry units came into action in support of their social betters on horseback.


The subsequent clash of horses and men, charge and counter charge, was appropriately deadly.


Was it ever! The dice you see here besides each unit represent their effectiveness at the start of the combat round, 6 for line, 8 for elite, minus disruption points, etc. To these are added the actual combat die roll, and the difference determines winner or loser...


I was surprised to see the much maligned Prussian Cavalry eventually overcome a larger force of renowned Austrian cavalry after an extended and hard fought combat (although the Prussians were characteristically methodical, not to say Teutonic,  throughout the combat around measuring their positioning at each stage of the battle to the exact micrometre and minute of arc, which slightly detracted from the dash and impetuous with which equine fisticuffs are normally associated in my mind!)


Gary explains:

However the narrow frontage of the Prussian mounted plus the assistance of the Prussian infantry all contributed to dulling the advantage of numbers and quality enjoyed by the Austrians (and a couple of very lucky rally rolls for the Prussians helped as well). As the dust settled 3 Austrian cavalry had been shattered including 2 Elite Cuirassier units for the loss of only one Prussian Hussar unit, and the remaining Prussians were in reasonably good order courtesy of those opportune Rallies.



On the other flank the remaining Conscript Austrian Infantry tried as best they could to blend into the scenery to avoid further attention from the Prussian musketry. The Austrian General now suggested that the worsening weather plus interminable saddle soreness should see an end to hostilities. The Prussian leadership quickly acquiesced to an honourable evacuation of the battlefield with colours, weapons and baggage train intact (minus a few trophies of course – damn nice gilding and braid on those Austrian scabbards!) – all soldiers returned to their campfires and bratwurst.


Unfortunately the gods of light and darkness decreed only my photos of the Austro-Prussian game were worthy of public exposure, so please take my word for it that on the other table was an equally enthralling and well presented game between the Russians and French, which involved the Russian main line attack heading directly through the largest forest on the table, to the bemusement of the French and Russian skirmish forces alike!