Saturday, February 25, 2012

AWI BLACK POWDER - BATTLE OF ORISKANY 1777

This weeks 28mm AWI game that I arranged at the SESWC was based on the Battle of Oriskany on Wednesday, August 06, 1777 using Black Powder Rules. The game was a test of a display that I am putting on for the SESWC at Albanich the Dumfries wargames show.  One of my early posts was of a fictional 2nd battle of Oriskany this game was based on the real battle.
Royal NY Regiment - their fire proved deadly
Some History
The Battle of Oriskany, fought on August 6, 1777, was one of the bloodiest battles in the North American theater of the American Revolutionary War and a significant engagement of the Saratoga campaign. Early in the siege of Fort Stanwix, an American relief force from the Mohawk Valley under General Nicholas Herkimer, numbering around 800 men of the Tryon County militia and a party of Oneida Indians, approached in an attempt to raise the siege. The British commander Barry St. Leger authorized Sir John Johnson to intercept them with a force consisting of his own King's Royal Regiment of New York, a Hanau j├Ąger detachment, Indian allies from the Six Nations and Indian Department Rangers totalling at least 450 men.
The Loyalist and Indian force ambushed Herkimer's force in a small valley about six miles (10 km) east of Fort Stanwix, near the present-day village of Oriskany, New York. During the battle, Herkimer was mortally wounded. The battle cost the Patriots approximately 450 casualties, while the Loyalists and Indians lost approximately 150 dead and wounded. The result of the battle remains ambiguous to this day because the advantage of the Loyalist victory was countered when a party sortied from Fort Stanwix and sacked their camp, spoiling morale among the Indians. The battle is featured in the film Guns Along the Mowhawk but none of the action is shown.

The Setup
The game was fought down a 8ft by 6ft table. We used the standard movement and ranges given in the rules. The terrain was assumed to be wooded except for an area of open ground around two hamlets that was by fences. The 24 figure units were classed as standard units, the 10 to 12 figure units as small units. I made all the commanders 8s for this game as the Patriots are already. handicapped by the their militia being Unreliable. To make them more effective I allowed the Indians to charge any troops in the flank or rear and to charge any shaken formed troops frontally. The formed militia units were Untested and had to dice when requred to check their stamina on a 1 their stamina was 1, on a 2 to4 their stamina was 2 and on 5 or 6 it was 3.  Colin Jack and Bart Zynda commanded the British Army. Olivier Lepreux and I commanded the Patriots.
1st Brigade presses forward towards the Rangers
PATRIOT BRIEFING
Brigadier General Nicholas Herkemer chairman of the Tryon County Safety Committee
A British force commanded by Col St Leger comprising regulars, tories and indians have advanced from Oswego into the Mohawk valley and are besieging Fort Stanwyx. It is apparent that their intention is to overrun the valley and move southeast to link up with Burgoyne’s main army advancing on Albany from Ticonderoga.  You have called out the Tryon County Militia on pain of hanging and 4 companies have rallied to the colours. You have also been joined by a war party of Oneida Indians who’s tribe have split from the rest of the 6 Nations and declared for the revolution. You have split your command into 2 brigades. Your force is 6 miles from Fort Stanwyx and other than sighting scouting parties your column has not encountered any opposition. You force is just about to enter a ravine leading towards the fort.

OB The Tryon County Militia
CinC Brig Gen Nicholas Herkimer
1st Brigade Colonel Ebenezer Cox
Canajoharie coy Colonel Ebenezer Cox 24 figs
Palatine coy Jacob Klock 24 figs
Oneida Indians 10 figs
2nd Brigade Colonel Frederick Visscher
Mohawk coy Colonel Frederick Visscher 24 figs
German Flats coy Col Peter Bellinger 24 figs
Kinglands Militia Rifle Skirmishers 10 figs

BRITISH BRIEFING
Acting Brigadier General Barry St Leger Colonel of the 34th Foot

Your force commanded comprising regulars, loyalists, Canadians, Hessian jaegers and Indians have advanced from Oswego into the Mohawk valley and has laid siege to Fort Stanwyx. Your objective is to overrun the valley and move southeast to link up with Burgoyne’s main army advancing on Albany from Ticonderoga.  The garrison of Fort Stanwyx have refused your summons to surrender and you have settled down to a regular siege. Your scouts have reported that a strong rebel force are advancing to relieve the fort. This force mainly consists of the local militia of Tryon County.  You have despatched Sir John Johnson with a brigade under John Butler and another under Joseph Brant chief of the Mohawks with the bulk of his six nations warriors to meet this threat. A demonstrable victory over the relief column could well convince the commander of Fort Stanwyx to surrender.

OB CinC Col Sir John Johnson
1st Brigade Col John Butler
Johnsons Royal NY Regt 24 figs
Hanau Jaegers 12 figs
Butlers Rangers 12 figs
2nd Brigade Joseph Brant
Six Nations Skirmishers 12 figs
Six Nations Skirmishers 12 figs
Six Nations Skirmishers 10 figs
Six Nations Skirmishers 10 figs
Struck in flank by the Iroquois - do not roll a 3!
HOW THE GAME PLAYED
The British army deployed in a defensive line midway across the table facing the 2 open areas. Butlers Brigade commanded by Colin was on the right with the skirmishers flanking the Royal NY Regt with the Indians commanded by Bart on the left with 2 of their units held of table in reserve.

The Patriots had their 1st brigade on their left commanded by Olivier and I commanded and the 2nd Brigade on the right.
The battle opened with the British taking the initiative and advancing to the edge of the open ground whilst their Indians moved into the woods on their left. The Patriot advance was hampered by my poor command rolls and so Oliviers brigade advanced more rapidly into contact. His indian unit skirmished with the opposing Iroquois who eventually charged and drove them back. His two militia units had come under fire from the rangers who repeatedly disordered the leading unit forcing the supporting unit to leapfrog through them. With the their right flank exposed by the defeat of their Indian allies each unit was charged in turn by an Iroquois warband whose initial bloodthirsty charge broke the first unit and then they forced the second unit to retire 2 moves!

On the other flank my militia units came up in turn to their side of the open ground and both were broken by the amazing shooting of the Royal NY regiment. My riflemen skirmished with the Jaegers who eventually gained an upper hand and charged them. With the Patriots having only 1 formed militia unit and 2 skirmishing units still on the field it was an obvious British victory.

Mohawk company - disordered, shaken and excess hits!
RULE CHANGES
1. MODIFIED TURN SEQUENCE
INITIATIVE PHASE
Declare and undertake initiative movement – there is no change to the basic rules for this. All moving units to be marked as having moved this turn. (They cannot move again in Command Phase).
Any units charged may deliver ‘Closing Fire’ at the end of initiative.
FIRING PHASE
Moving player carries out firing as per the rules.
All firing units to be marked as having fired this turn (for modified Command
Penalties).
COMMAND PHASE
Give orders and move as per the Command phase of the rules.
There is an additional command penalty:
"-1 if fired this turn"
Any units charged may deliver ‘Closing Fire’ if they have not fired before in this turn.
MELEE PHASE
Conduct Melees as per rules
FURTHER NOTES
Any unit that fired in the Firing Phase suffers -1 to its command. If it is part of a group of units that have been ordered (i.e. a brigade order) then the entire group suffers the penalty. Note that this is NOT cumulative for each unit that has been fired.
2. TERRAIN EFFECTS
Formed troops advance at half speed thru woods. Formed troops are not an ‘unclear target’ in woods. Troops in woods get the morale modifier for cover except when charging to contact or in hand to hand combat.
3. INDIANS
Indians are allowed to charge skirmishers and shaken formed troops frontally and all troops in the flank or rear.
4. INTERPENETRATION
Units can interpenetrate except where one of them is charging.
 
 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

WESTERN DESERT 1941: OPERATION BATTLEAXE

This weeks game at the SESWC was a 20mm World War II action using the Rapidfire rules. This fictional scenario was based on Operation Battleaxe in the Western Desert 1941. A British force of 2 infantry battalions supported by cruiser tanks, artillery and armoured cars attacked an Italian infantry regiment of 2 battalions with limited tank support defending 2 settlements. Both sides had off-table reserves and air support that was controlled by chance. The game was played on a 6ft by 4ft table.
Crusdaer squadron sweeps forward.....

This was actually a last hurrah for my Western Desert collection as I have decided to dispose of them on Ebay. I only use them occasionally at the club as all my terrain at home is for Western Europe or the Eastern Front.

Link to Flickr photoset with all the photos
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bill26048/sets/72157629368109651/

How the game played
Bart Zynda and I commanded the British whilst Colin Jack and Oliver Lepreux commanded the Axis. We decided to split the forces fairly equally and Bart with 1 battalion supported by the A13 squadron and the armoured cars attacked on the right whilst I attacked with the other infantry battalion supported by the Crusaders and HQ on the left.

Barts infantry await the go sign

My attack stalled at once when in the first turn opportunity fire from an Italian AT gun knocked out one of my Crusaders and the others retired to cover. On his flank Barts tanks swept forward and engaged the Italian line with their machine guns as their 2pdr guns could not fire high explosive. The Italians facing Bart concentrated their fire on his supporting infantry.

A13s close on the village...supporting artillery fire hits oasis

Our supporting artillery proved a disappointment repeatedly failing to be contacted and missing - however eventually it did not knock out the Italian field gun.  We did get the RAF to intervene and a strafing Hurricane appeared. It proved singularly ineffective failing to spot its first target and being driven of twice by the Italian 20mm AA guns.

Desert airforce in action...completely ineffective

I attacked again with my Crusaders to counter an advance from Oliviers pair of M13/40s and knocked out one and heavily damaged the other - the surviving crew bailed out and retired for 2 turns.

Heavily damaged A13

The axis players received reinforcements more M13/40s reached Oliver and 3 German tanks joined Colin appeared facing Bart. I lost another Crusader to the remanned M13/40 and my surviving Crusader retired from the field. With their first fire the German tanks damaged 2 armoured cars and an A13. Barts infantry now tested a second time for their losses and rolled a 1 - disaster - those who had reached the Italian position surrendered whilst their heavy support fled the field. Our first reinforcement a squadron of Matildas had just arrived but it was a clear Italian victory.

Matildas - Queens of the battlefied - but arrived late.....

Here is the order of battle for the game.


ITALIAN
XIth Infantry Regiment

1st Infantry Battalion (Test on 20)
HQ: CO + 5 Figures
Coy: 8 Figures
Coy: 8 Figures
Coy: 8 Figures
Supp Coy: 81mm Mtr, 45mm Mtr, MG, ATR, 47mm ATG, 13 crew

2nd Infantry Battalion (Test on 20) as 1st

Regimental Support
Art Bty: 75mm Field Gun, 4 crew
AA/AT Coy: 47mm ATG, 2 20mm AA, 10 crew

RESERVES

1/32nd Tank Btn
HQ: M13/40 Command Tank
1st Coy: 2 M13/40
2nd Coy: 2 M13/40
3rd Coy: 2 M13/40

GERMAN
Tank Coy: 2 PZIIIH, PZIVF1

BRITISH
Elements of 7th Armoured Division


22nd Armoured Brigade Hq: Co + 5 Figs, CS9 AC

3rd C.L.Y. Tank Regt
Hq: RR AC, MKVIa Lt Tk
1st Sqd: 3 Crusader I
2nd Sqd: 3 A13 Mk II

Motor Btn
HQ: CO + 7 figures, ATR, 2" Mtr
3 Rifle Coys: 8 figures each
Carrier Pltn: 8 figures, 2 bren carriers
Support Coy: Vickers MG, 3" Mtr, 6 figures
Trucks for above

Attached from the Support Group
Infantry Btn as motor battalion

Art Bty: 2 25 Pdr, tow & 3 crew, FOO + truck
AC Sqd: 3 RR AC

RESERVE
RTR Sqd: 3 Valentines or Matilda IIs
AT Bty: 2 or 3 2 Pdr Portee ea 3 crew

map of the table

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Malayan Emergency 1952: Attack on the Longniddry Plantation

This weeks game at the SESWC was something different as we tried skirmish game set in the Malayan Emergency. Angus Konstam and Colin Jack have been collecting the figures and terrain for this period and we decided to give them a try with the Force on Force rules.

One problem was that none of us had played a game using Force on Force for quite a while, and most of us had not re-read the rules before the game. Luckily a couple of Force on Force grognards were on hand to keep us right, but there was still a lot of rules-fumbling for a skirmish action that in real terms was probably fought out in less than ten minutes.

CTs plan attack on the bungalow

The scenario was a simple besieged garrison one, with a plantation owner and his wife holed up in their bungalow, supported by four Malay police, while out there in the jungle lurked a fierce band of Malay Communist Terrorists (CTs). They were split into 2 squads - one was busy attacking the bungalow, while the other group waited in ambush for the relief column - a squad of inexperienced British National Servicemen, and a squad of crack Ghurkhas.

The game began well for the CTs as they quickly got the better of the gunfight with the defenders of the bungalow. In two turns all of the defenders were incapacitated, for the loss of one CT who was slightly wounded. The shooting dice Angus threw playing as the CTs were quite amazing!

Overall view - relief force to arrive at top of table
One of the features of Force on Force is the need for other troops to check the status of casualties. They could be lightly wounded, seriously wounded or killed, but without troops on hand to check the fallen, then they just lay there. It made sense for the CTs to move into the bungalow and kill or capture the casualties, but events on the far side of the table intervened.

The relief column appeared, and immediately split into two groups. The inexperienced British squad - guided by an Iban tracker - managed to detect the ambush, and a firefight soon developed between them and the CTs hiding out on the edge of the rubber plantation. Meanwhile the Gurkas ran hell-for-leather towards the bungalow, giving the CT ambushers as wide a berth as they could. In theory the CTs attacking the bungalow should have fired on them as they approached, but for some reason they couldn't - or didn't - and the Gurkas reached the safety of the brick-built building. Once there they checked the casualties. The plantation owner and his wife had been killed, along with one of the policemen, while the other three Malay police had a variety of light or serious wounds.
The bungalow - scene of so much carnage....
Back on the far side of the rubber plantation the British were faring badly - taking three casualties in the firefight with the ambushing CT force. They pulled back to the cover of a cluster of native workers' huts on the far edge of the table, leaving the CTs in possession of the battlefield. Back in the bungalow the Ghurkhas and the CTs engaged in their own brisk firefight, and again thanks to some terrible dice thrown by Colin the Ghurkhas had the worst of the exchange, losing three casualties for the loss of one CT. Unfortunately for the CTs the Ghurkhas passed their ensuing morale test with flying colours, while the CTs were pinned and went to ground. This allowed the Ghurkhas to slip away, carrying the bodies of the two British civilians, and their own dead and wounded. Only the body of one Malay policeman was left behind, as there wasn't an unwounded Ghurka left to carry him.

So the game ended in something of a minor Communist victory. They'd achieved their objective of killing the plantation owner and his wife, and had caused more casualties on the Ghurkhas and the British than they'd received. A complete CT victory was only averted by the bravery of the Ghurkhas, who at least managed to take the casualties away with them.

CTs wait to ambush the National Servicemen...

Force on Force is a good little set of rules, but it has a lot of subtle caveats to remember, and if you don't play them regularly then it can be a little daunting to remember everything you need to do. We decided that next time we play a Malaya game, we might try Triumph & Tragedy, a set of rules we’ve used successfully for earlier periods.

All the figures in the game came from Britannia Miniatures, who also made the bungalow, while the fine looking trees covering most of the 6x4' table were supplied by Realistic Modelling Services.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

1812 RUSSIA - WARFARE IN THE AGE OF NAPOLEON TEST GAME

In this weeks game at the SESWC we were trying out a new set of rules, Warfare in the Age of Napoleon written by Tod Kershner, whose previous rules are Warfare in the Age of Reason. They are a slim softback - the rules are only 26 pages with a further 6 pages with troop ratings for 1815 and 2 scenarios - which makes a pleasant change from many other recent sets of Napoleonic rules.

Dave Imrie supplied the Russians and Dougie Trail supplied the French. You can see from the photos that they both have excellently painted collections. I helped Dave with the Russians and Angus Konstam supported Dougie.


Dave Imrie's impessive Russian Grenadiers
The loose premise behind the game was that during the Grand Armees approach to Smolensk, Neverovskys 27th (Grenadier) Division was operating on the south bank of the River Dniepr, and it clashed with elements of Neys III Corps somewhere near the town of Krasnyi. As Dave's Russian troops were all grenadiers, we based it around that clash in August 1812. The Russians started with one brigade which I commanded deployed astride a crossroads. The French (with two infantry brigades and two cavalry ones) had to seize the road junction and drive the Russians back. The rest of the Russians under Dave - a second infantry brigade, a regiment of cuirassiers and another two gun batteries would also march onto the table after the battle got underway.

French Hussars sweep forward on left flank
The Russian secret weapon was a position battery of 12-pounders. In these rules large gun batteries are particularly effective, and sure enough when the leading French brigade appeared the battery set to work shredding its front units. Both sides reinforced the fight, the French sending a brigade of light cavalry backed by horse artillery off on their left flank, while the Russians fed more infantry into the growing fight, deploying them on their own left flank. As soon as the cavalry got into position they launched a charge. Dougie had no sooner finishing telling everyone how his brown-coated 2nd Hussars had never lost a combat when they were forced to retire in disorder, having come off worst in a clash with my battalion of Russian grenadiers. It was all luck - my paltry 3 dice scored more hits than Dougie’s 14 dice. His other hussars were a little more successful, and soon another Russian battalion were pinned in square, as the French horse artillery deployed and began pounding away at them from effective range.
Infantry lines slug it out.....
The Russians, of course, were made of stern stuff, and after re-deploying into line the battalion who thwarted the 2nd Hussars advanced towards the guns, and began firing at them in an attempt to drive the gunners off. This unusual exchange continued for the next few turns, as both sides took casualties, but refused to give ground. Meanwhile, over on the French right the French infantry had deployed from column into line, and soon a brisk musketry exchange had developed, with both sides pounding away at each other at close range. The rules rather discourage charging in using attack columns, so the French relied on their superior firepower instead. Having outflanked the Russian heavy guns they blasted away at it. That spurred Dave to launch his second brigade of grenadiers in a counter-attack, and they charged home in column. The result was discouraging, as despite outnumbering the French battalion in front of him by two to one, his units were forced to retire in disorder. Lesson learned. Line good - column bad.


2nd Hussars charge home on Russian line - who won!
Elsewhere the Russians were holding their ground, despite the heavy casualties they were taking, and the profusion of French units. As a last resort Dougie brought on his dragoon brigade, but it was still deploying for a charge when the time came to pack the toys away.
The game was fast-paced, even though we kept on stopping to check the rules as only 2 of the 4 players had read them briefly beforehand. We agreed that we will play WAON again once we have studied these promising rules more and taken into account the clarifications which are in the Army Supplement.


Russian Cuirassiers - heavy heavy cavlry - advance in support
One of the strange things about WAON is the inverted nature of firing and morale. Normally, a high score is good, but here the aim is to score low - a 1 or a 2 is ideal on a D6. While this turned out to be a very sensible and well thought out system, it took a little getting used to. It suited me with my usual low dice scoring!