Friday, 25 September 2020

Back to the Queen of Scales...

A Table Recycled...

A little jiggling and the table from last week becomes a new playground for a (rare for me) WW2 skirmish while I'm 1) reading and working on some drawings, writing, the pond and the house, 2) messing with my "Sanders" project, 3) pulling my hair out over a "never drying varnish" issue (tried everything except talcum powder or stripping back to the plastic and starting again... Grrr....), 4) musing on some "Commander Character" ideas (of which more anon..).

The Skirmish:
Very simple; the Australians have instructions to set up an O.P. on the ruined temple. No (Japanese) enemies in sight. My "hidden enemy rules" in play.




The squads move off, but at once some under fire (the usual one dice to activate, playing card for enemy number type, 4 dice for max range process). There is an exchange. NOT a good start...





Oh great.. More of them.. In the rocks...



My squads lay down covering fire, pinning the enemy as the main body rushes onward. 



Things go pretty well. One casualty thus far, but the Bren guns and accurate rifle fire from my squads are making the enemy keep their heads down. 

A couple of snipers pop up, but no large groups of new enemies emerge as I flank the enemy in the centre to hold them there, and the commander and radio group press on to the  target.  




My guys get to the target - no occupants (phew) - and the job's done... That's that....



Sod's Law however; one of my squads prompts a new enemy appearance on the very last move - a squad with a machine gun. Too late to affect the game - but not too late to inflict another two casualties...



Target achieved. However, all four of my casualties prove to have been mortally hit... Not good at all..Japanese casualties two dead, four wounded...

A quick, exciting mini exercise...

In theory that is the end of the game (target achieved), but hey, the guys are out there.. I decide to play on (solo - my game, my rules) to get rid of the machine gun...

Private Bruce takes a Brave Deed test, and under covering fire from his mates, rushes in with his grenades. Excellent work that man.. Game over....




Or not...

I test for Enemy Action - a six for Bruce's squad, so MORE enemy.. They draw a KING (!!) Banzai Charge.. The Range Throw puts it's point of origin in the rocks, alongside where the machine gun was...





The charge
inspires the Japanese in the nearby rocks to also make a sortie - suddenly things are complicated. 

Despite the gunfire and another grenade from Bruce - which luckily takes down the Japanese officer - the enemy charge home.

There is a tussle with the rest of Bruce's squad, and they go down fighting hand to hand with the Japanese - as does one of the Australian sergeants (with a sub-machine gun) to small arms fire at close range.... 







But the combined firepower of the squads (two Brens, two rifles, crossfire from the temple and Bruce shooting into their backs from the forward rocks) is too much. The charge is halted.



From then on it is just mopping up - with Bruce ending the job with another grenade.. Looks like someone's going to be mentioned in dispatches....   



One more Australian dead and two more wounded.. Not good. But with no prisoners being taken by the Australians ("Too late chum") there are nineteen additional Japanese dead on the field. All in all we can count this a success...

Well, that was a quick and fun game with an unexpectedly exciting ending. I'l be tweaking the table again for 
another clash shortly, before launching into a bigger game.... 

As always, thoughts, comments, queries etc. welcome.









Thursday, 17 September 2020

Teaching Trofimov, or "Turkestan Troubles..." Two.....

 The Battle:

Things open with me (Trofimov) pushing two of my cavalry units (the "White Lances" and the "St. Andrew's lancers" forwards to "feel-out" the situation in the centre, holding the infantry and all the artillery with me. 



I will also dispatch one cavalry regiment (The Blue Dragoons) to move to the bottom of the map (South), skirt the village and smell out what might be lurking round those parts (as usual, click on the pics to make 'em big). 

Almost immediately the Blue Dragoons come under fire from the walls around the southernmost village (prompted by the Unknown token and a turn of a card) and the White and St. Andrew's lads receive shots from locals in the crags around the tower overlooking the village with the mosque (in the north east part of the table). 


Damage is slight - but I don't want my cavalry shot at unnecessarily..... 

I readjust the position of the main body to partly face the northern enemy and dispatch two units of infantry. One to deal with the southernmost locals (and burn the village). One to climb the northern crags and see off the locals there.



The Emirs sit watching. To the north is the Emir of Backai, with a mixed bag of camelry and cavalry. More southerly is the Emir of Dara Tebel with his horsemen. 

The commander of my Blue Dragoons (quick reaction test) pulls his men back towards the starting line further from the village. He seems shaken by the unexpected shooting. 

As the moves progress my two detached infantry units will have different luck. The southernmost will move to their target, engage in a firefight and destroy their enemies. 






Meanwhile, the northmost infantry commander seem to lack drive. The lads here seem to spend ages clambering up the crags, then, when they get there, lose about five moves in an extended firefight against the very stubborn bunch of locals ensconced in and around the watchtower. Eventually the locals mount their waiting camels and pull back (due to increasing Shock) - only to de-bus again a little further off and start long-range sniping. The tower is taken and burned, but NOT with the bayonet and only after a LOT of time has been lost. This end of the field ends up as a little battle in itself, separate from the activity elsewhere.



Suddenly things change dramatically. One of the Emirs, Dara Tebel, throws his men towards my lancers in a charge. The St. Andrews unit rapidly pulls back to behind the line of infantry. I re-jig the main body to face the threat and my artillery unlimber. But the White lancers aren't quick enough. They are hit head-on by the Emir's bodyguard and, outnumbered and overwhelmed, practically wiped out.







This prompts the other Emir, beyond the crags, to move his men forward too..  

Suddenly it looks I have a significant fight on my hands.  

My southernmost infantry unit moves up to support the main body. My main force, flanks fixed on the northern crags and slopes of the southern heights, with unlimbered artillery and mitrailleuses ready for action, presents a formidable sight.  My whole main force opens fire. The enemy think twice about a headlong charge into THAT, and hover around, indecisive. For a couple of moves the enemy sit there, fixed and taking hits, but not quite getting their bottle up enough to charge home.



I feel confident, reorganise my force and issue new instructions.

The Blues and St. Andrews cavalry are brigaded with one cannon and a mitrailleuse and are (again) dispatched to go round the southern flank of the southernmost heights, with instructions to demonstrate against the enemy's right flank.   

The main body, I decide, will hold position to continue to fix and intimidate the enemy horse. This seems to work.




Meanwhile, up north, the little private battle over the village with the mosque continues as my men meet more resistance. Again, I effectively lose this unit for several moves. Again, despite his superior numbers, the commander here will NOT use the bayonet, and (again) gets drawn into an extended firefight. I look forward to his report - and subsequent "wigging".....



Eventually the enemy in the north pull back - but still hover menacingly. 



After a while I will FINALLY start seeing lots of smoke as that force gets down to the destruction of the village and mosque, but shooting from this direction will still be heard throughout most of the battle, indicating that there is still resistance.



In the south my "Blues Brigade" make very good progress. Suddenly an opportunity seems to present itself; while the Emirs are concentrating on my main line the western village appears vulnerable to a swift attack by my cavalry...

The St. Andrew's lances race off - but the enemy Emir sees this, gets the chance to  head them off, and takes it. Suddenly the whole enemy right swings away from my main force and looks as if it is going to charge the St. Andrew's and the Blues. The commander of this brigade pulls back to the slopes of the southern heights and unlimbers. 






Meanwhile the southernmost infantry are ordered to continue in their task to burn the south village, which they will do over the next few moves, and support the "Blues Brigade", while the Emirs spend the next couple of moves thinking, removing Shock and watching and wondering what my main force intends next.....

We are about midway into the game. "Blues Brigade" (Yellow A on the pic below) are cautiously watching the enemy Emir of 
Dara Tebel (Blue Two), who has been making most of the running so far. My Southern infantry (Yellow B) have halted to watch and support the Blues - all well and good, but this doesn't get the village burned.

The Emir of Backai (Blue One), having moved up earlier, seem hesitant to commit. Well and good, say I....

My Main Force as Yellow C hold, watching both Emirs. 

My Northern infantry (Yellow D) will continue to make a right meal of their simple task, the enemy skirmishers (Blue Three) being a nuisance for the rest of the game.



After a while I decide to move my main force up onto the southern plateau.

Once the village there has been destroyed I will form a mobile "square" and march to the final target, reasonably confident that the enemy horde will simply get out of the way, rather than face the cannon and volleys of my army...

I am aware that time is passing. We shall see....  




I get my lads up onto the plateau, the village is set ablaze by a detached company and then, suddenly, the Emir of Backai wakes up - and throws his troops up the slopes and against my line. They charge home, cutting down one of my artillery crews and isolating and slashing into the infantry on the north slope.






I get the chance to reorganise my remaining line (lucky tokens) and rush a unit across to form a rough "Inverted U" while the enemy are swarming up onto the plateau. It is touch and go....










Luckily, my isolated infantry hold, and "do a Gloucesters" - while the rest of my guys and the mitrailleuse shoot "into the brown". The Emir pulls his bodyguard back to reorganise (Shock has been building) but a sudden charge by the Blue Dragoons takes him in the flank. The Emir goes down, and the men around him flee - but not all his chaps see this, and it takes more volley firing to finally disperse the rest of them. 

In the north there is progress.... FINALLY the village is afire.....



My men rest as the Backai horde rapidly withdraw to lick their wounds...   

But not for long.... As the mosque in the north finally gets set afire the Emir of Dara Tebel, whether exasperated by this blasphemy or out of frustration, throws HIS men against the west side of the plateau - but to no avail. 






Three very short moves (basically shooting only) follow. Good for me.

The volleys from my foot, the chatter of the mitrailleuses and the crash of the cannon halt his rush and the enemy charge stalls in confusion.

The Emir himself is wounded, but holds his men in check and they pull back in some semblance of order out of range of my muskets. 


 






There they wait, shocked, but not broken.....




I assess the situation. Two villages have been burned, but dusk is rapidly approaching. I have a dilemma. I cannot realistically see that I will be able to push my way to the third village without the risk of going against my orders to return to Base Camp before nightfall. Also, withdrawing now may well prompt another enemy cavalry charge....  

Reluctantly I order my men to start edging back - knowing this may well provoke another wild assault...

At first things go well. For the first time in the game the unit sent to deal with the village in the north gets their skates on and clamber over the crags tout suite - but equally speedily followed by the vengeful tribesmen they drove out earlier...








The St. Andrew's Lancers also make good progress, as does my southernmost infantry unit. But the rest of my force is slow to get going - and have to satisfy themselves by throwing shells into the enemy hoard, at a distance, for two moves. 




Finally I get the chance to limber up the artillery. I get my line of remaining infantry to fall back slowly in sections - always keeping some troops facing the enemy....





But this isn't good enough.

After three more VERY short moves (straight to "Tiffin" or just one or two individual units on the move) my command is looking pretty scattered and dusk is almost upon me.

The Emir of Dara Tebel, after having had a couple of moves allowing him to deal with Shock, gets another lucky token, Activates, checks his attitude, is seemingly inspired with rage at the burning buildings - inc. the mosque - and encouraged by my withdrawal (Callwell warned me about this kind of thing.. But did I listen..?) and hurls his warriors at me, thinking he already has me on the run.... 

His horde sweeps forward and makes contact - luckily mainly with my remaining formed infantry. I lose an artillery crew and take casualties among my foot but my line (such as it is) holds firm and inflicts serious casualties on the wing of the enemy, throwing back a large chunk of the Emir's men and causing the others to hesitate.





Next move I get the chance to move my artillery further towards safety, and my line is able to give ground, facing the enemy. Last move - but we only get the chance to loose a volley before it starts to get dark. My time is up...... 



I have failed in my mission. My brief was to destroy the three villages (Fail) AND get my force back before night set in (Double Fail).

Casualties could have been worse, given the circumstances, and I reclaimed the "lost" gun (it was dragged back by infantry) and held onto my wounded.

The successful "seeing off" of the attacks of the Emirs was incidental and earns me no Brownie Points. Their forces, being irregular (mainly light horse, so break, reform, break reform - no problem to them) probably saw this as an experience, rather than a lesson. Their losses could have been worse. They retain their wounded - and their being left in command of the field, with me withdrawing, likely means THEY class this as a victory for them.... 

I foresee a telling-off for Trofimov....



Conclusion:

A fun and exciting game. The random activities of the Emirs kept me guessing right up to the end. The issues of my own detached commanders being slow (!!! I'm looking at you North Force) or hesitant (the Blues, initially) as frustrating as any real-life attempt to get people to work as a team - or do what you've clearly asked of them.

The only thing for further consideration - and I've seen the same criticism of other rules sets where Activation (or similar) is limited by random Command Points, PiPs, Tokens or Cards - is that highly mobile, irregular armies can be suddenly paralysed by ill luck in a way that feels wrong. 

Now, while I recognise (and delight in) the fact that ANY seemingly freakish incident or behaviour due to the quirks of any rule set can always be explained away (and usually historical examples found) by invoking the human element or terrain or other realities of life, I think I need to think/work on this...

Maybe permitted "Tiffin"/Move End activities for certain "swarm" type cavalry previously unactivated that move may be the answer (I already have certain "Move End" allowances built in for my Romans re. Shock Recovery to reflect their period-superior C&C and training)? Needs more thought... Hmmm....

Anyway, this was a jolly excursion into a smaller scale. Next month sees me retiring from paid work so, unless She Who Must Be obeyed sees this as an opportunity to claim me for other duties, I hope to post more regularly and get to grips with some serious campaigning....

As always; thoughts, comments and constructive sniping always welcome... 






Oh dear....

 No Real excuses... Only.... 1) It's been too hot to think about playing, up in the attic.... 2) I was reading  Pratchett's   "...