Virtual Meeting #2

The club held a second ‘virtual meeting’ last weekend, with solo games, and even a socially distanced garden game of FoG. Over to the players…

Stephen – Solo SAGA
Stephen had a game of SAGA – the Prized Possessions scenario. Edward Oswaldson (Anglo Danes) had been tasked by the earl to escort the local bishop and his possessions. Meanwhile, a boat load of Norse Gaels from Dublin led by Ragnall Svendsson had been raiding in the area. The Anglo Danes won. They managed to get the wagons off the table, though the bishop himself didn’t quite get off and the game ended with the bishop looking at a very irate Norse Gael warlord…

Marcus – Galactic Heroes

Marcus took on his sons; never a good move… The game was going well but match abandoned after an 90 mins due to unforeseen circumstances. Just as well, he was the rebel scum entering bottom left, trying to get a droid to the ship (top right) he’d lost two characters already to the eldest son. Youngest son was preparing an ambush should he make it through…

Alan Kirk – Verdun 1916

Alan played a solo learning game of Verdun 1916: Steel Inferno using the first scenario which covers the initial German attack.

Mark J, John Legg, Bret – FoG in the Garden

Mark’s Roman Dominate army had its first outing in his back garden and were truly smashed by the Sassanids…twice!

And finally, Eric played a couple of wargames-based video games (Total War and Dark Future – there are videos !

The Battle of the Little Round Top

What I like about the American Civil War for gaming is that it is a simple period.

There’s only a couple of troop types, and uniforms were uncomplicated. Compare that to the nightmare that is Napoleonics…

So I decided to have myself a game, using my own rules. In fact, I thought the Battle of Little Round Top would be ideal.

Troops were deployed as their historical counterparts and then it was up to me from there. The table stretched from the Round Tops in the south, up through Devil’s Den, the Wheatfield, with Codori farm to the north. The Confederate forces consistent of Longstreet’s I Corps (minus Pickett’s division), and the Union III Corps under Sickles.

The game started with a general advance by the Confederates. Hood’s division was looking at the Devil’s Den and Little Round Top, where the union brigade led by Ward was ensconced with an artillery battery. This looked like it would be a difficult approach for the Confederates so the rest of Birney’s division looked north to where McLaws’ confederate division was covering Codori farm and the Wheatfield. This would make the union have a strong presence in the northern part of the battlefield – with Humphrey’s division and most of Birney’s concentrated that way.

Sure enough, things got off to a good start for the union. The artillery at Codori farm and the Wheatfield gave Barksdale’s brigade a hefty pummelling. They advanced under heavy fire. They tried to force it to a charge, but they’d taken a serious bombardment and any charge would come to nothing. So McLaw pulled them back and advanced Wofford’s brigade to cover.

Meanwhile, Hood’s division plodded forward. The union artillery on Little Round Top opened up on them, but the fire wasn’t that effective. The confederates took the risk on a steady approach – rather than the infantry charging forward they moved up at a pace with their artillery.

Like in the actual battle, there was a lot of fighting around Codori farm (which would see even more fighting the next day, being on the south of Pickett’s ill-fated charge). Both Union and Confederate were beating the living daylights out of each.

This left the centre.

Graham’s union brigade advanced through the Wheatfield. Opposite was Kershaw’s confederate brigade. A firefight started in the Wheatfield. Realising he could soon be outflanked by Trobriand’s brigade, Kershaw made the decision to charge.

And in he went!

Not only did he push Graham back to Plum Creek, but he followed up the charge by rushing the artillery battery that had been holding back Carr and Brewster at Codori farm.

This signalled a change of confederate fortunes.

Hood’s division had moved up to Devil’s Den, with only Ward and a single artillery battery opposing them! Trobriand, in the middle, had made a bad decision – he should have been looking south where he could have outflanked Hood, but instead had been distracted north by the hard fighting there and Kershaw’s advance.

Ward and his artillery pulled back to the top of Little Round Top, hoping to delay Hood’s advance. The union artillery under Burling turned south, where it could make a long shot against Hood’s advance along Plum Creek.

Then it became the turn of the Union to see what it feels like coming under sustained artillery fire.

McLaw’s artillery batteries on the Emmitsburg Road opened up and caused massive destruction amongst the union troops but left them low on ammo (they all rolled 10s!).

This, effectively, did for the union north flank. And with Kershaw’s push in the centre leaving the union in disarray, it meant the sole focus would now be on Little Round Top – with Ward’s brigade trying to hold off Hood’s division and what was left of McLaw’s.

At that point a victory was declared for the confederates!

It had been a tight victory.

In hindsight, the Union had failed when they allowed themselves to be distracted by McLaw’s advance, concentrating all their brigades except one on stopping him. This left Hood to advance pretty much unmolested until it was too late. The guilty party had probably been Trobriand who was in an ideal position to outflank Hood’s advance but had, instead, been spooked by Kershaw, who he should have left to Birling and Graham.

Virtually Meeting

Last Saturday, at Stephen’s suggestion, some club members held a ‘virtual’ club meeting; some played solo games or with family members at home, and three even managed to play a board game over Zoom. Here’s a round up of what went on.

Mark H, Mark J and Seán – Nightfighter
Mark H ran a three-player game over Zoom – he’s written it up fully in a separate report.

Marcus – Air Combat in the Gulf War
Marcus played a solo game of modern air combat using Wings at War; this will also be getting its own write-up soon.

Phil – Space Hulk
Phil broke out the new (ish) re-issue of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk with his eldest son; unpainted figures, really!

Stephen – Full Thrust
Stephen, whose idea this all was, went for some solo Full Thrust. Which just sounds all wrong…

Mark J – Kobolds and Cobblestones
Mark.2 played out a Fantasy rumble at the docks.

Tony F – Lord of the Rings
And finally, the webmaster played out a simple Lord of the Rings scenario (the one where Sean Bean/Boromir gets shot full of arrows defending Merry and Pippin).

Wargaming in the Pandemic – Playing Nightfighter over Zoom

As we currently have no meetings and gathering indoors is not possible, we have been starved of our wargames for 2 months!

We tried a game of GMT’s Nightfighter over Zoom.  The game uses some house scenarios that allow multiple players on the German side.  The main game map is enlarged and uses miniatures to substitute for counters.

There were four Ju88C-6 night fighters patrolling to intercept bombers over the targets.  These could be coned by the searchlights on the ground, spotted by the onboard radar, or spotted visually.

Here is the hidden umpire map showing the Lancaster position at close of play:

We played until a Lancaster was shot down.  Mark shot down ‘E for East’ after a four move duel.  The bomber spotted him before he attacked and got two rounds of fire, but failed to score a hit.

The Ju88 missed on the first pass from a poor position, then scored heavy damage on the second pass.

The Ju-88 mis-timed the third pass, but finished the target off on the final pass.

Sean had meanwhile homed in on a bomber with one of his Ju-88s, but ran out of time to shoot it down.

This was the game board at close of play:

A scan of the battle map was shared on Zoom with the players and annotated with the fighter positions, radar sightings and searchlight spots.

Game play is slowed, as moves have to be described sequentially, so the game would have worked faster with less planes controlled by one player with hindsight, but the board game hex playing surface does make a game over Zoom possible!  We may give it another go having worked out the snags.

OUTREMER: Upon Yon Crossroads

I decided to have another game of Outremer, having really enjoyed the first one.

The game was set during the Baron’s War of Simon de Montfort. Rebels loyal to de Montfort were scouting ahead, unaware that men loyal to King Henry were doing the same. Ahead was a road junction – the winner would be the side that could control the junction after 8 turns (this was scenario #3 from the book).

The rebels were led by Sir Maddox Melior. Amongst his retinue he had two skilled crossbowmen – Beric Morris and ‘Big’ Eddie. This duo would prove invaluable.

Sir Maddox, Tankard, Beric, and Eddie

In charge of the king’s men was Sir Guy de Ferris. With him were a trio of archers and a motley selection of men-at-arms.

Sir Guy with Louis and Guy Cartwright

Sir Maddox, being a bit of a loner, sent his crossbowmen rushing forward along the edge of a wheat field. The two took up position behind a hedge overlooking the junction. Sir Maddox sent his spearmen down a lane, with a French sellsword (Roul Allaire) and a young archer (Gamal) making their way through the wheat.

Meanwhile, Sir Guy had ordered his archers forward, to skirt around the edge of a pond. Sir Guy led two of his men through the woods whilst the others made for the lane that ran alongside a travellers inn and down to the junction.

It was the two archers, Rowan Windrush and Derek the Eel, who opened hostilities. Seeing Sir Maddox’s spearmen coming down the lane they let fly. But no one was hit. Beric and Eddie saw the two archers and so loaded up their crossbows and shot back. Down went Rowan! This left Derek with a dilemma – whether to shoot back at Beric and Eddie or try to stop the spearmen.

Rowan goes down and Derek draws his bow

Quite unexpectedly it was Tankard Jenkins, a Welsh spearman and bondsman of Sir Maddox, who clambered over a hedge and plonked himself defiantly in the middle of the junction – more of a fingers-up at Sir Guy and his men than anything else.

Tankard Jenkins stands defiant

Sir Guy and the rest of his men met up on the road beside the inn. They couldn’t let the rebels hold on to the junction, but Beric and Eddie were in a strong position, and both were skilled with their crossbows. If they tried to rush the junction they may get cut down. So Jean Paul, a young and impressionable Frenchmen, climbed over a wall and made his way around the back of the inn to outflank the rebels. Guy Cartwright, with his whooping great two-handed sword, did similar, but made for the gate that led on to the junction.

Sir Guy’s men surround Sir Maddox at the junction

Sir Maddox’s spearmen had now come down to the junction. Hallet Adkin decided to distract Big Eddie by charging him. But Eddie was quick with his bow and as Hallet came across the field he was felled by an arrow.

Hallet Adkin foolishly runs forward

If the royalists were to win the day then they had to act quickly. Guy Cartwright climbed over the stone wall and waved his massive sword menacingly at Sir Maddox. But it was just bravado, since he lacked the courage to actually charge.

So it was down to Sir Guy to draw his sword and lunge forward for Sir Maddox!

Sir Maddox managed to fend the English knight off and with a flurry of blows Sir Guy was beaten. Just in time, Roul Allaire came to Sir Maddox’s defence to engage Guy Cartwright before he could attack Sir Maddox from behind.

Sir Maddox wounds Sir Guy

And down went Guy Cartwright as well and with it, the end of the game.

The rebels had won.

In Outremer, just because a figure is taken out, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are dead. An end of game roll is made to see what happened. Fortunately, Hallet Adkin only sustained a flesh wound and would live to fight again. The same could be said for Rowan and Will (another of Sir Guy’s men).Sir Guy himself had taken a bad wound to his leg which would mean that in future games he’d be at a disadvantage. Some of Sir Guy’s other men had also taken bad wounds and would also be hampered. Guy Cartwright, however, had been killed in the melee.

Down goes Sir Guy and Roul lays into Guy Cartwright

BLACK OPS – Battle Report

Stephen goes dark…

Black Ops is another Osprey game I bought when it came out but didn’t have a chance to play.

Once I had my copy and read it, I felt as if it had been mis-sold to me. The pre-launch blurb was all about futuristic stealth missions. And the cover art of the rules enforces that feeling.

However, once read, you can see the author is more aiming at contemporary special forces missions – SAS and Delta Force style anti-terrorist actions. Oh yes, there’s a brief bit on near future tech at the end, but you feel that’s been added solely as a bit of lip-service.

Maybe that’s why it stayed on the shelf for ages, unplayed.

However, I have now played it and I must say I thought it was a great game! I always wanted it to be more sci-fi, if I’m honest, but I didn’t let that stop me. How I rationalised it is that at this level of combat it will always come down to frightened men desperately trying to stay alive and eliminate the person trying to kill them. The battlefield tech is for the…well, battlefield.

So I decided the weapons were all relative. Whether you call it an assault rifle or a gauss carbine, or a LMG or an autolaser, who cares? Well, I don’t.

I decided the game board should be loaded with terrain. This creates a more tactical game, enhances the stealth nature of the rules, and cuts down firing lines. The scenario was simple, the humans had to break into a communications station, download some data, and get out.

What I liked the most about Black Ops is how the rules were geared to the setting. This, as you may have read in a previous review, was the main failing of Zona Alfa for me. Since Black Ops is about stealth missions then the rules must reflect that. And they do. You can either play against an opponent or you can play solo and you make rolls to see if the guards spot your troops and what they do. It worked really well.

My sci fi humans are all named after French philosophers and writers. Leading them was Foucault with Voltaire offering heavy support and Camus, Balzac, and Flaubert as back up. The cyborgs are all named after 70s and 80s computers. The venerable Dragon 32 was control with the ZX81 equipped with a heavy bolt gun and the Spectrum, C64, TI99, MSX, and CPC 464 also on patrol.

Turns are done by card activation (I like card activation, as any club member will tell you). Foucault with Camus and Flaubert made their way around the north of the compound with Balzac and Voltaire sneaking through the breaker’s yard.

Standing guard outside the comms bunker were the Sinclair duo – ZX81 and Spectrum. The rest of the ‘borgs wandered around. How the stealth and observation rules work is that if a model moves into a position where they could be seen a roll is made. This could be modified if there’s any gun fire, running, fighting, etc. If heard, the observer has a choice – they can either raise the alarm or take a shot. Once a guard has heard the enemy then they are under player control and no longer roll for their actions.

The humans moved up part of the way. To the north, Foucault, Flaubert, and Camus were held down as Dragon 32 and MSX kept pacing back and forth. They could have made a dash for it, but they might have been seen, so decided to be cautious and stay hidden.

Most of the cyborg guards seemed to be drifting toward the south, where Voltaire and Balzac were. It was proving hard for them to move up. It reached that point where any more movement may compromise the mission and so, deciding to take the fight to the borgs rather than the other way around, Balzac opened fire! Voltaire took his lead, and also let rip.

This fire drew the attention of the cyborgs. On their turn, they got to roll for observation and they were alerted by the firing. This drew the guards toward Voltaire and Balzac, allowing Foucault and co the chance to move up!

Amongst the trash the firefight hotted up. ZX81 went down (not for the first time) but TI99 returned fire. Dragon 32 dithered a bit, unsure whether to stay where he was or cross over to where the shooting was taking place. MSX was in position around some junk, and he was making it difficult for Foucault and the boys to sneak up to the comms bunker.

Meanwhile, the firefight with Voltaire and Balzac took a turn for the worse. Balzac went down under fire from TI99 and C64. Voltaire moved up, firing from the hip with his rail gun. C64 went down, with CPC464 close behind him. Foucault sneaked around behind some tires but was seen by MSX, who promptly started firing at the French linguist. He missed, and Foucault returned the gesture. Down went MSX.

The two sides now got stuck in to a fire fight. But due to cover no one was scoring any more hits. Foucault saw his chance, albeit a risky one. He moved around the side of the comms bunker and had to take the risk – a dash for the bunker doorway where he could deconstruct the cyborg data. Dragon 32 also took a risk and made a rush for Foulcault and the two became locked in close combat. Dragon 32 had the advantage on the first round by attacking Foucault from behind, but he failed to exploit this. Foucault turned to face his attacker and managed to take down the 8 bit monstrosity.

Success went to the humans.

I thought Black Ops was a great game. Loved it. The stealth rules work well, and so do the guard reaction rolls, without being too stodgy. The other mechanics are nice and simple and there are also lots of equipment options for specialists. I will definitely be playing this again.

Red Alert

Marcus sounds the alarm!

Having played in a demo of Red Alert from PSC games at Salute 2019, I was really taken by the design. I had often toyed with the idea of playing Command & Colours Ancients, and eventually bought Memoir ’44 for one of my boys for Christmas, but it has never been a favourite. However, the theme of Space fleet combat and the dynamics really seem to work. They certainly seemed to reach a sweet spot for me.
However, I didn’t buy the game at Salute. Despite some very good offers, I just didn’t want the miniatures. I have some space ships of my own, plus the aesthetic didn’t really appeal. Soon afterwards though PSC released most of the components separately.

Unfortunately, due to building work at home, the game was consigned to storage after just one play won by Son “Tzu”, who can’t get enough games (Or should I say winning games…). Now in lockdown, it has made its reappearance.

Having played through the first scenario for a second time, we set up Declaration of War, the second introductory scenario. Like all the scenarios, the introductory scenarios mark both fleets’ starting positions. However, they also mark the exact deployment of each unit. In later scenarios you choose where to deploy your fleet, which is chosen by drawing a card for your core force and having some additional points to choose additional units.

In this scenario the objective was simply to destroy 13 points worth of the enemy. The initial set up is shown above.

I had to cobble together some fleets as I am still repainting some old models (from Zandris IV). We played a Star Trek inspired game (despite the fighters), Federation (Son Tzu) versus Romulan (Me). Still, I didn’t have enough figures for all the units in this game, so the number of units was often displayed on a dice with the unit. The Federation was particularly short on Cruisers, so the Intrepid’s (Voyager) represented three ships, and the groups of two Nova’s (destroyers) also represented three ships. Three ships is the default strength for most units (all in this game). A hit will normally result in the loss of one ship.

The earth-like planet is at the centre of four hexes and the gravity well extends through these. This inhibits movement but it is more difficult to hit another ship inside it from outside the gravity well. Asteroids and planets block line of sight, as do ships. We also missed some markers only available with the core game. I used blue counters for “star” tokens. These are order tokens used in addition to the command cards. Also there are Red Alert markers. These are a combat result which can occur on the custom dice, illustrating “when bad things happen” during combat. They will require a retreat. I had a couple of these from an expansion, but that was all, so I used additional red counters.

Early contact and Son Tzu’s fighters take some damage while the Romulans move up on their left and…

…in the centre, the Romulan fighters also suffer some damage, but nearly knock out a federation unit.
But a very different picture emerged after the next moves.

Son Tzu moved up his fighter on the Federation right and used a “fighter swarm” combat card against my Battleships. With seven combat dice, he rolled five hits, turning my warbirds into a cloud of incandescent gas. If we had some debris tokens, they would be on the table adjacent to the two “yellow” fighter groups. One of them suffered a loss minor loss as a result.

Things did not look good for the Romulans at this point. 6 – 0 down. However, the Romulans also struck back with a concentrated fighter attack forcing back the battleship group in the centre marked with a Red Alert (which probably saved the group from destruction at that point), causing the remaining Federation battleship to retreat two hexes. One of the Romulan fighter groups was also badly damaged and retreated. However, The Romulans are still 6 – 0 down, with the Federation cruisers moving up into the centre.

Son Tzu could smell victory, but it was to prove elusive. The remaining Romulan fighters and destroyers picked off the remaining battleship to take revenge and even things up, despite taking some damage. While Son Tzu waited for the perfect card to launch his final assault, the Romulans deftly vectored their strike classes, the destoyers (again) and cruisers onto one cruiser group as it moved up in the centre…

…and then the other.

Although the second Romulan battleship group took some severe damage from long range fire (just out of the picture), they held up while the strike craft gave the Feds a hammering.

Those cruiser groups were worth three points each. Just before taking down the last one, the Romulan Cruiser group on their left, moved up for an easy kills on a crippled fighter group (revenge for the earlier battleship swarming loss).

The single point for that fighter, and the three points for each cruiser group gave the Romulans seven precious points. With the earlier six for the battleship, that made a game winning 13 – 6 to the Romulans. Doubtless the federation could have taken out a lot of heavily damaged ships if there had been a next turn, with their undamaged destroyers and second battleship group, but that was not to be.

War of the Roses Battle – Neville Takes the Field

Sir Thomas Neville deep in the action

With both of our Wars of the Roses armies completed Stephen and I assembled on an unremarkable field somewhere in England for our first clash. Stephen took the role of the Lancastrians and recruited Andy to act as a lesser lord of the realm in control of his right flank. I’d gone for the Yorkists and ended up with the flags of the Earl of Salisbury and his son Sir Thomas Neville. In similar fashion I recruited Tony to the role of Thomas Neville also taking command of the right flank.

The Lancastrian Billmen and Men at Arms

The Lancastrian army formed up in a neat row extending across the battlefield with their archers on the flanks and their billmen and men at arms in the centre. The Lancastrians had no cavalry or artillery, however they had more archers and had brought some mercenary pikemen.

The Yorkist Army Advances

Across the field the Yorkists took a different approach forming up with their archers and artillery out front with the billmen and men at arms close behind. The Yorkists also had mounted men at arms as well as some light cavalry units positioned out on the flanks.

Lancastrian Archers take the High Ground

The first move of the battle saw Andy move his archers to a commanding position on the only high ground available.

The Yorkists Cavalry Moves to Outflank the Lancastrians

This move prompted me to move my cavalry out past the archers flank screened by a nearby wood. My intention was not to attack the flank but to try and get Andy to weaken his archers on the hill by dispatching them to deal with the now threatened flank.

Yorkists Under Thomas Neville Attempt to Maneuver in to Position

Meanwhile on the Yorkist right Tony had found himself squashed between my artillery unit and some woods. This would cause a number of problems for Tony during the battle as he was unable to line up his units to best effect.

Lancastrian Archers Move to Outflank

Seeing the difficulty the Yorkist right flank was in Steve moved his archers in range to pour missiles into the floundering Yorkists.

The Yorkist Artillery Starts to Bombard the Lancastrian Billmen

Apart from Steve’s flaking move and Andy moving his archers onto the hill, the Lancastrians refused to give battle. Seeing the danger on the flank and with the Cavalry feint having drawn some of Andy’s archers away, I push the artillery forward and began firing on the Lancastrian Billmen. The attack did not cause any damage but it had the desired effect, soon the Lancastrian billmen would be on the advance.

Yorkist Archers Gain the Upper Hand

Seeing the Lancastrian billmen on the advance I pushed my archers forward and engaged the archers on the hill. The dice definitely favoured the Yorkists destroying a unit of archers outright but taking some damage in return.

Battle Rages on the Yorkist Right Flank

As I prepared to receive the advancing billmen, Tony had managed to engage Steve’s archers on the Yorkist right flank. Unfortunately the Lancastrian archers stood their ground against attacks from the Yorkist billmen.

The Centre Units Close in for an Intense Fight

My archers managed to get a volley off against the Lancastrian’s before the two battle lines crashed together. Unable to move the archers had to join the melee and soon succumbed to the billmen, but I had billmen in reserve ready to fill the gap.

The Battle Lines Clash

The clash was pretty even with both sides taking hits. Out on the Yorkist right flank Tony’s archers had taken a beating but he was still determined to get his billmen into the fight. In the centre Steve still had his men-at-arms directly in front of my artillery and so had no choice than to advance into the oncoming fire.

The Lancastrian Men-at-Arms Charges the Yorkist Artillery

Although the Men-at-Arms had taken some damage they quickly overwhelmed the artillery leaving them to rampage behind the Yorkist line. Tony still had his cavalry in reserve but didn’t get the activation dice required to charge in and so the Men-at-Arms got the chance to destroy them in a subsequent charge. However Tony was more successful with his Mounted Men-at-Arms.

The Yorkist Mounted Men-at-Arms Destroy the Lancastrian Archers

Charging in against the Lancastrian archers Tony was successful in gaining some momentum on the right flank. But the Yorkists would then throw away a strong position with a number of cavalry blunders. First came my charge with my light cavalry against the archers I had drawn out on Andy’s flank. The charge saw the cavalry wiped out with no damage to the defending archers. Tony then charged his Mounted Men-at-Arms against the Lancastrian pikemen and suffered the same fate!

Return of the Yorkist Mounted Men-at-Arms from the Left Flank

With the main battle in the centre going the Yorkists way and following the cavalry blunders, I turned my Mounted Men-at-Arms around and galloped back to the centre. The battle was nearing an end with both armies at breaking point.

The Yorkist Right Flank was to Decide the Battle

With the help of my cavalry the Lancastrian centre was destroyed, and with Andy’s remaining units too far away on the Lancastrian right flank, it was up to Tony on the Yorkist right flank to carry the day. The Lancastrian’s still had some strong infantry units but Steve had failed to get the activations he needed to get them into the fight. Needing just a point before breaking completely the battle came down to the long drawn out melee between Steve’s archers and Tony’s billmen.

The Last Melee Between the Yorkists and Lancastrians

But the dice finally favoured Tony and the archers were utterly destroyed, handing victory to the Yorkists by the narrow margin of 29-32!

Battle Aftermath
This turned out to be a really good battle. Three of the players had only played 3 or 4 games of Sword and Spear before and for Tony this was his first ever play of the rules.
From the Yorkist point of view, the good parts were managing to draw out some of the Lancastrian forces with a cavalry feint, and a lucky result in winning the archery duel in the centre. Having the artillery also turned out to be a good move as it forced the Lancastrians to advance when they had planned to sit tight. The bad points for the Yorkists though were the poor deployment between the artillery and the woods allowing the Lancastrians to out flank the right hand side, and the poorly executed cavalry charges late in the battle.

From the Lancastrians point of view, the good parts were exploiting the poor enemy deployment and out flanking with archers. But the bad points were reacting to the feint and being unlucky with the activation dice later in the battle preventing them from getting more of their infantry committed against the poorly deployed Yorkists.

The war will no doubt continue with the Lancastrians out for revenge!

 

 

 

 

ACW Vicksburg Campaign Turn 1: The Battle of Bloody Creek

Stephen takes us through the first installment of the 2020 ACW campaign.

At the last meeting we had the first turn of this year’s campaign – an American Civil War campaign based around the Union attempt to capture Vicksburg.

Although the campaign background is historical, the forces are fictional. This is a chance for club members to carve their place in history as great generals and strategists!

Leading the Union corps is Major General John Roche with Generals Kim Heath and Alan Ockleford under his command. In control of the Confederate forces is Major General Mark Harris, ably assisted by Generals Jeremey Claridge and Tony Gibbs.

The campaign works using a map for strategic movement and when a battle occurs we move to the games table. Small skirmishes with pickets and scouts are not gamed and are resolved with a dice role.

Corps commanders were given a pack which included a map, orders of battle, mission brief, and objectives. They would have autonomy to achieve their goal anyway they wanted. Responsibility would fall on their heads.

Each turn a random event card is drawn. The two sides then put together their supply dice (based on how many supply depots they control). These can be used to move brigades up quicker, but are also used for actions such as burning/building bridges and for replenishing broken units.

So Turn One began!

The Union officers were quick to set up camp (in the far corner of the hall) and were promptly goaded by the Confederate players for their studiousness and planning. However, that soon changed when the full scope of what they had to achieve dawned on them – they also soon gave way to planning and plotting! In fact, when it was time to conduct the first move it was the Confederate players who dallied – still pouring over the map and making plans.

Each brigade, battery, and picket is given its own counter. Brigades from the same division can occupy the same square, but divisions are not allowed to mix. The Union set up their supply depot at Grand Gulf on the Mississippi, and deployed their corps in and around that area. The Confederate corps was more thinly spread, trying to protect the towns at Vicksburg and Jackson and the forests in between.

The first few strategic moves were cautious, as you would expect as players got used to how the rules worked and also their opponent’s demeanour.

The Union brigades kept coming up against Confederate pickets which were easily chased off but this also meant the Confederate scouts were able to identify Union troop movements and strength, which gave the Confederates some idea of what was coming. The Union corps didn’t seem to be using its pickets quite as efficiently, preferring to move entire divisions at a time to advance on the Confederates.

There then started a bit of jockeying for position with both sides trying to concentrate their divisions for battle, but one side or the other refusing to give battle until the situation suited them. General Claridge, commanding the Confederate 3rd Division protecting Jackson, started to bring his troops west to support General Gibbs and his 1st Division troops near Edwards Station who were being threatened by the Union 1st and 3rd divisions.

Meanwhile, further west, the Union and Confederate 2nd divisions started to coalesce around Warrenton.

When battle first came it was a surprise – it looked more likely to take place somewhere in the middle near Edwards Station, but in the end it was the two 2nd divisions that finally came to blows outside Warrenton.

Both generals gave the order to battle!

This initial action was a comparatively small affair. This was just as well, since it would give both sides chance to see how the battle rules work without too much at stake.

The Union deployed with their cavalry brigade, dismounted, along a creek. Behind them, in support, was Heselbrigge’s brigade, with the rest of 2nd Division and its artillery in the rear. The Confederates arrayed in line with their artillery protecting the flank and looking over a farm.

Rumour has it that Major General Roche had ordered General Ockleford not to cross the creek and, instead, to take up a defensive position and use the artillery to force the Confederates to either quit the field or attack their positions. It is unclear whether these orders never got through, or if General Ockelford decided to ignore them or if, in the heat of the moment, he acted rashly.

What happened was that the Confederates, realising they would take a pounding from the Union artillery, pulled back into the woods to take up a protected position in cover. This was soon followed by the Union brigades crossing the creek, ahead of the artillery moving up, to take the battle to the Confederates.

Not a good move! Not only did the creek slow the Union advance, exposing them to artillery and musket fire, but they then halted in the open without charging the Confederate line. Realising their mistake, they soon ordered the charge! But it had come too late. Advancing against the dug-in Confederates, and wavering in the open, had exposed them to withering fire.

The result? First victory went to the Confederates who named the encounter The Battle of Bloody Creek.

Time will tell if the Union have learnt their lesson.

Air War Germany 1944 – Session 3

De Havilland Mosquito Mk IV bombers of 692 Squadron, part of the Light Night Striking Force. These delivered small high level raids as diversions from Main Force raids. They were unarmed and relied on their speed to escape interception.

The results for our third session are in.  This was to be a session dominated by Wild Boar attack over the city of Berlin,as fighters sought to attack bomber caught in the glare of the clouds illuminated by the searchlights below.  One of the JG commanders was absent due to sickness and another had temporarily lost use of his headquarters (aka house) so we were down to three players on the day .  Two players babysat for the missing players JagdGeschwader for their map moves.  Absent players do not affect the tactical combat results, as each player simply flies one plane.

The day began with the Me110s of NJG engaging the bomber stream over Berlin.  This unit was depleted, so the number of tactics was reduced.  3.NJG5 was also handicapped by having some relatively slow Me110F-4s among its Me110G-4s; these struggled to match the speed of the Lancaster at high altitude.  The action was something of a damp squib with no Lancasters engaged and the Me110F of Chris damaged by fire from the defending Berlin flak batteries.

After another map turn the bomber steam continued to move through the city and the German players now had a final chance for their units to engage the tail end of the bomber stream over the city searchlights.

First in were the Me109G-6s of 1.JG302 belonging to Tony’s JagdDivision 1.  Things looked up for Chris as he was first off the scoreboard the day, downing C for Charlie.  However, he did a bit too good a job as his fire detonated the bomb bay and his own fighter was consumed in the explosion!  Things took an even worse turn for the Germans as Tony’s 109 was shot down by an alert gunner on E for Easy.

Next up was Tony’s 3.NJG5 coming round for another go. Michael got involved in a running fight with, funnily enough M for Mike.  His first pass winged the Lancaster, but the defending gunners in turn damaged the attacking Me110.  However, Mike hung on and made another pass, sending the Lancaster down.  Tony now got into his stride with his pilot bagging first N for Nab, then K for King.

As the last of the bomber stream came in over the searchlights the Me110G-4s  of 1.NJG5 also belonging to Tony’s JagdDivision1 arrived over the city.  Tony continued on his combat roll by adding J2 for Jig squared to his total for the day.

The ever persistent 3.NJG5 now succeeded in infiltrating itself into the bomber stream as it left the city, becoming the first night fighter unit to do so.

With time up for the day and four tactical combats played out, the resolution of the Tame Boar attack was left for the next session.

At the end of session 3 the points scored were as follows:

Tony (1JD)                        +5             +3 for Lancasters shot down, +3 for Wild Boar attacks, +1 for Tame Boar infiltration, -2 for fighter shot down

Michael (2JD)                   0            +1 for Lancaster shot down, -1 for fighter damaged

Chris (7JD)                        -2             +1 for Lancaster shot down, -2 for fighter downed, -1 for fighter damaged by flak

Marcus (3JD)                     –             On leave

Bob (4JD)                             –           Unable to fly

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows (with 1JD going into the team lead with 11 points):

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played

Steve (2JD)                      +5         1 session played

Tony (1JD)                       +5        1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           2 sessions played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           1 session played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -2.5       1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -3.5           2 sessions played

Worth saying that you score as follows:
Map points:
1 point for each successful interception on the map by a unit, doubled if done before raid passes through own division area
1 point for identifying a main force raid or mosquito raid before air picture is clarified, doubled if done before raid passes through own division area
Air to air combat points:
1 point for shooting down a four engined bomber
2 points for shooting down a Mosquito2 points lost if own nightfighter shot down
Damaged aircraft score half points, for and against.  Ties decided by number of bomber shot down.