Thursday, 16 November 2017

Merseyside Stalingrad Campaign: Game 1, Southern Sector A: My German Heer v Keith Blackland's Soviets

Another Bolt Action Campaign kicks off on Merseyside, with Martin doing a sterling job organising. Critical Hit Gamers Cafe was the venue, and given Keith is always full of surprises I wondered what his devilish mind would come up with for this? While I expected a fanatic horde of regular and veteran Reds, his dual platoon force below consisted of the following:

1 Inexperienced 2nd Lt, 1 Inexperienced 2nd Lt +1, 2 x 7 Inexperienced Rifle squads, 2 x 12 Inexperienced Rifle Squads, Free 12 man inexperienced rifle squad, 2 x 4 Man Regular At team with 2 Smgs, 2 Light howitzers, 2 Inexperienced Heavy mortars, a tiny regular B 20 armoured car with LMG, a regular BA 10 armoured car and a regular lumbering multi gunned T-28. The list was from a 1941 theatre list but cant remember which one and came in at a solid 16 dice for 1000pts of relative dross...

The Reds minus 2 light howitzer Keith had already deployed as I took the picture
My own all regular unless stated force was taken from the Death on the Volga list, featuring 13 dice as below:

2nd Lt + 1, Veteran Medic, 2 x 8 Veteran Pioneers with 5 SMG's and a flammenwerfer, 3 x 9 Heer infantry with 1 LMG and 1 Smg, 2 MMGs, 1 Medium mortar with spotter, Veteran sniper, AT rifle and a BMW 75. All in a solid, force that was a little anti tank light but far superior to the opposition.

The Scenario was Angriff, with the 3 blue markers the objectives. Control the most at the end wins. Area terrain, mostly hard cover and difficult ground, with roads but some obstructed. Dan Miller had did a great job with this stuff for the Mersey tournament a few weeks earlier.

With my own forces all on first wave, the Soviets held their armour and both officers in reserve, subjecting their infantry and artillery to the preliminary bombardment which killed a couple of guys and liberally spread the pins out


The Germans came on centrally in force with 1 Pioneer squad, 2 Heer and both MMGs with the medic in support going towards the centre, while the rest advanced centre left. The sniper team took out a Soviet heavy mortar, and the BMW sped up and reduced the AT team on my left to two men... The Soviets either rallied, failed to rally and only the light howitzer on my left fired, trying to locate the sniper.

I felt confident enough to have both pioneers running up the central street, as the Russians kept their heads down

I even remembered to get a Soviet perspective, which is rare as I tend to be biased.


Expecting the T-28 to ruin my day, both pioneers took the objectives before the Soviets could get moving in any form of coherent resistance

Sure enough, it was the only reserve that actually managed to get on in turn 2 and killed a pioneer on the centre objective. I lost my sniper team to the light howitzer while on my right, the 2nd tried spotting my mortar spotter and the heavy mortar failed to fire again and went down. One Red 7 man squad got moving on my left and the 2nd 7 man team also advanced centrally, while all my left flank fire went into the 2 man AT team that took out my BMW 75 with the first activation...

Another view of the hunkered down Soviets who couldn't get moving at all...

And another, they just couldn't shake the preliminary bombardment effects..

The view of the central AT team with Pioneers below, 2 Heer squads, 2 MMGs and a medic directly opposite and a Mortar that was about to drop  a round on them (taking them to a sole NCO)

My left (viewed from Soviet side, so their right). The pesky two men from the AT were proving impossible to shift, with a Heer infantry squad, pioneer squad, AT rifle and 2nd Lt in those ruins

Inteligence said the Reds would have no armour support, you know...

And so the God of War let loose his Thunder...

Despite not activating in turns 1 and 2, Keith persisted in trying with his remaining heavy mortar, (actually he hit first then realised he need to test and the Gods of dice were with him). He sportingly targeted the medic (well, its allowed on the Russian front) and took him out, along with 2 men form each Heer squad and one MMG gunner, giving  both squads and both MMGs 3 pins... Annoying that, but both Heer rallied this turn but it meant I couldn't push on and take the building opposite as the Soveits were all starting to rally themselves...

My left pioneers advanced and liberally doused the 7 man rifle squad that was in front of them with fire, while the Heer advanced out and failed to hit the small At team to their left. The armoured cars came on, the wee "Bobi" BA-20 with an LMG killing three Heer... The advancing Soviet infantry and T-28 put my centre pioneers onto 4 pins but failed to kill any of the veterans

But both objectives were firmly in Germans hands

The aftermath of the mortar round...

A 2nd Lt plus on ran on the left to shift the 12 man squad that were still going down to frequently and the BA-10 came up on my right.


I got first activation, and hit the T-28 with the flamethrower, just the once and not penetrating but forcing a morale check with 3 pins... It passed.

My pioneers centrally decided to assault the 7 men ahead of them, to take the ruins and stymie the advancing pair of 12 man squads. Alas, with Reds crawling out of all the ruins, they mistook the supporting Heer squad behind who advanced to kill 4 of the Russians advancing down the road as enemies and tried to flammen them. (They rolled a double six, and then a 2 on the FUBAR table). Fortunately, with 4 pins they didn't hit at all.

On the Pioneers right, the other Heer squad advanced killing another of the squad who advanced of the road into the ruin but in turn suffered as the hands of the BA-10

On my left, the Soviet AT team was down to one man as the other died while charging the 4 remaining Heer and wiping them out, while  the BA-20 (having been missed by the AT rifle team in  the ruins) sped around behind the Germans line to cut out their support, that little LMG killing two and forcing the remaining mortar man to flee...

Not a good turn, with the Soviets consolidating infantry near the centre while I bled on the street from multiple armour units... The lone 2nd Lt still wouldn't come on, we assumed h was at the river getting his mistress out the city with his vodka cache...


Keith is in no rush, moving his 7 men up onto the second floor to keep the fire on the hapless Germans in the street, as more Soviets advance up behind them

When I say hapless, I mean hopeless as a rally attempt results in another Fubar  which at least allowed the pioneers to flee to the ruins by the remaining MMG team, that darned heavy mortar having taken out the other as they were shell shocked from the hit in turn 3...

With my forces encircled by enemy armour, the left pioneer squad assaulted the T-28 to no effect while the Heer in the street hit the deck as fire rained in from all sides

Down and outnumbered, they were easy meat for the bayonet wielding red charge, though the Soviets lost 3 men as well. The other Heer squad (well, NCO, LMG and loader advanced up to keep the objective but failed to hit the 5 remaining Soviets, while feeling safe in numbers, the lone AT team member came down from his vantage point.

So centrally the Soviets have an Armoured car, 2nd Lt plus one, solo AT dude, 5 men, 7 men and 12 men threatening the  2 man MMG and 3 man Heer squad at end of turn 5.

A better shot of the Soviets now they have got up and at em...

My 2nd Lt finally gets rid of that AT team, and the AT rifle will come down rather than chase the BA-20

The 2nd Lt has left the dockside, running on and getting the 11 men who had been in the only standing building since the prelim bombardment  when they lost a man to move (on turn 5)

There he is, and that's why my AT team came down. They didn't the packed masses though.


Despite the dice being in the Soviets favour, I got first activation allowing my 3 pioneers on the left to advance and kill some of the approaching horde, to keep them away from the objective. With 3 pins they wouldn't move. Centrally, things were pretty much hopeless and I had to decide whether to try a 7 pin order test on my pioneers to get them back into the frey or try and take out the T-28 with the AT rifle which had a pin. I opted for the sensible, rolling a double 1 for the AT rifle test!!! (Had that bee the pioneers, they'd have passed the test AND removed D6 pins. When the dice gods laugh at me, they do laugh heartily) And I didn't hit the T-28 either.

I did get to gun down the 5 men in the street with the MMG though.

Having seen his beau of to the other side of the river with his vodka, but having failed to shift his troops, the Inexperienced 2nd Lt had a rush of blood  and on his own personal crusade for the Motherland assaulted the three SMG toting Pioneers, killing one but the veterans rolled a 1 and 2 in response... How terribly depressing, not to say shameful!!!

The cheeky blighter even consolidated to the objective which was still held by me. In the centre, my Pioneers were pinned out the game and only the MMG, but the objective and with it the game, was lost...

My force now consisted of a pair of Machine gunners, an AT rifle and a 2nd Lt.

But I still had the 3rd objective

Keith very generously let me roll for turn 7 to prolong the misery and complete his total victory, which I duly obliged him...

Turn 7

Well, it was a short turn! The T-28 cranked its turrets and tracks, advancing and wiping out the Lt and AT rifle. The Soviets own answer to Audie Murphy took the third objective and the last MMG crew went down in an assault by the other 2nd Lt plus one...

Well that was a humbling game, as I felt supremely confident up to turn 3 that the forces of the Wehrmacht would prevail. Keiths troops largely stayed put until his support elements had reduced me sufficiently to allow him an easy win in the end, think he lost 4 or 5 units to my entire force... Have to say it was a thoroughly enjoyable defeat, with Fubars and fun elements all the way through. Highlights are obviously the late showing 2nd Lt's heroics, the AT team on the left that lost a man in the preliminary bombardment taking so much heat from my left flank and  taking out the BMW and the Heer squad, while it might be better not to mention that Heavy mortar. It stopped me in my tracks at a time when I needed to keep advancing to get to grips with the Soviet infantry. All in all, its fair to say I received a damn good kicking and it doesn't bode well for the start of the German offensive to take Stalingrad...

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

General De Brigade: Battle of Craonne 1814

Hard to believe it's almost 3 years since we've had a game of General De Brigade, so we planned a two day game, with multiple Brigades of French unders Marshals Ney and Victor versus a predominantly Russian Force under Voronzow. Brett did a great job of setting up the board and the Brigades, and tweaking the rules slightly to give the game a semblance of random surprise. 

The historical overview

and a bit more, with random reserve and support. Essentially, Nansouty's cavalry brigade could be led by their local guides through the mountain and outflank the Russians 1st line and their supporting cavalry. Brett tweaked this to put the Russian Cavalry on Hold until the first French Cavalry came on.

We actually played on 10 by 6 for epicness...

The Russian forces essentially had to hold against the French onslaught, and had a good mix. Sadly, Voronzow rolled up as a Poor Commander in Chief, although Kniper and Laptiev were both excellent.

Ney rolled in as an Excellent commander in chief, and no other Generals were poor.

The French infantry and artillery forces of Ney (Right on the plateau) and Victor (in the valley). Nansouty's Cavalry aren't actually on the board, the will outflank out of the hills on the left.

The Russian 1st line to the fore, with the excellent Kniper holding the village (Built up Area just above the coffee), a 6 gun battery central with 3 Line infantry regiments on hold, and a 2nd line and conscript 2 unit brigade, which was ordered to support the village. The second line had another 6 gun battery, and 3 solid line regiments, as well as a two units reserve force, which was ordered to advance onto the plateau and hold the plateau behind the village. The 2 cavalry regiments are on hold ready to support the centre and counter any French shenanigans.

Overview of the battlefield. Vincent rolled to command the French, assuming the rolls of Nansouty (loves his cavalry) and Victor. Brett took Ney while due to attrition, Von Steve and Krosbyev couldn't make it and I landed the whole Russian command. (apologies if I err later, but Ive already corrected my typing of "Soviet" 3 times instead of Russian)

A close up of the Russian forces 1st line of defence

The second line of Russians

The French objective is to force the Russians out of the village and off the ridgeline/plateau, and take the farm too. Essentially force the Russians from the field.

The French advance on turn 1, with a heavy force of skirmishers at the van... (I elected not to deploy to many skirmishers as I needed ranks to resist the columns charging forward that was bound to occur)

The French on the valley floor also advance with skirmishers and an artillery battery on the plateau

The Russians are in good order awaiting the French, occupying the farm. The two central regiments at the rear of the battery will move up to support the village.

The cavalry graze awaiting a French target of opportunity

The French advance, no longer a Grande Armee in 1814, but still potent in numbers

Battle commences, with skirmishers firing into the village...

The Russians take cover and do not return fire, as the lead French columns get set to assault next turn

The Russian artillery make little impact on the skirmishing French vanguard

The valley plain is quiet, a far cry from what it will look like in a few hours...

The French strike, two columns charging the village. However, having held fire the Russians open up and inflict casualties, causing one column to falter...

While the charge at the village distracts the Russians, the local guides provide Nansouty's cavalry with the perfect path onto the plain, with elite heavy dragoons threatening the Russian second line. A second regiment of light hussars assist to fend off the Russian cavalry.

Simply put, that's what I call being totally outflanked!!!

Kniper leads the village defence with two line regiments, while a veteran jager unit fends off the French skirmishers

Even at canister range, the skirmishing French are taking little damage and shielding their columns behind

The single assaulting column off French are soundly beaten back.

However, Ney is determined to push forward and has the manpower to press on

The Soviet cavalry turn to face Nansouty's cavalry, further reinforced with elite lancers. While one line regiment forms square, the second fails twice to reform and flees from the Empress dragoons

Voronzow addresses his staff, wondering what's for lunch as the French cavalry runs riot in his rear

Light line French cavalry clash against the Russian Cossacks 

Having fled from the French cavalry, the guns are caught cold as Nansouty leads the charge. The Russian cannon are dispersed and flee the field

Rudinger's 2nd line brigade have advanced onto the plateau behind the village. Good job or they would have been over run by French cavalry by now.

The French skirmishers are taking casualties from canister, and between the battery and village, two Russian columns have swung round to face off the French behind their skirmishing screen. The Russian units are 2nd line and conscript, but there are 3 fresh line units behind the guns in support
Vicotrs guns do little damage at long range, as the Pavlovar Hussa  Russian cavalry reposition to fend off the French horse

Ney on the plateau line up two columns to assault the village and Victor lines to up to assault from the valley floor. A third column on the plateau  assault the jager veterans to the left of the village

The first cavalry clash results in a decisive French victory, forcing the Cossacks to rout but the Hussars are blown and retire to the board edge to regroup.

The French column to the left of the village are forced to stop their assault due to the tenacious defensive volley from the Jager veterans

The Russians have stopped the assault, and are in a good position for turn 5 to assault if only they can win the initiative for the first time.

The guns disperse under a ferocious cavalry assault, but the French blow themselves out and return to their edge to regroup

The village is the key to the plateau, and 4 French columns are poised to strike.

Allez, the French continue to win the initiative and charge the village. Having halted the French unit to the left of the village with volley fire, the Jagers assault them to threaten the French assault columns flanks

Knipers two columns in the village unleash a fearsome volley, rolling a double six. All 4 French columns have to roll an effect, resulting in 3 of the columns faltering. More importantly, both Ney and Victor, and Curial and Boyer had attached themselves to columns to press home the troops. So, risk to general rolls were required. Both the Commander in Chiefs, Ney and Victor were merely wounded and retired to the rear to be patched up. Curial panicked, and fled the field in ignominy, only to be court martialled and shot in front of the troops the following day, while Boyer died a valiant death leading the troops. It simply couldn't have gone any worse for the French, as a sole column hits home form four. And last time out, they faired very badly!

Curial (under Brett's command) gets what he deserves, and even Vincent enjoyed that...

The Palvovar Hussars clash with the French lancers, coming off second best but not too badly.

Having left the guns to their fate, the Petrosk regiment flees further but Laptiev is excellent and keeps order. The other Petrosk regt stays in square, and the Lithuania regt stay put in the farm

Both initial French cavalry regiments reform and look for fresh victims
The village is a real hot spot

Rudinger's lads enjoy the view, awaiting the coming storm

Deja Vu... A lone French column, its command structure taken out, forlornly charges home

An overview of the field, from the French and the Russian 1st defence line

The Jager veterans slam into the stalled French column

The battle rages...

MON DIEU!!! The single French column succeeds beyond all hope, driving twice as many Russians out of the village and into a retreat. Furthermore, the veterans fail to hurt the French column, and also retreat...

Seeing so many generals getting hit obviously instilled a bitter enmity and rage, as the column drives into the village

Kaptiev rallys his forces at the farm

The Elite French lancers rout the Russian Hussars, in a thoroughly awful turn of melee for the Russians

Had to take another picture, just to make sure it really happened!

It cannot be!!! Having just caused the death of two French Generals, and wounding two Marshalls of France, Knipers brigade that was retreating and still in relatively good shape rolled 3 unit moral checks, resulting in two dispersals and forcing a brigade moral check which they failed... My left flank was in tatters! And French cavalry roamed the plains... 


Fortunately, Austrian reinforcements arrived to try and stiffen the Russian left

The reserve cavalry unit had sped up the valley, and burst through to assault the guns, as a column charged the faltering conscripts below the village to the left of the battery

However, a supporting infantry square managed to shoot the horse from their general, and though he remounted, the charge faltered.

Unable to receive the charge from the Provisional Young Guard, the Tomsk regt routs. The Young Guard faltered as they tried to change their charge into the battery. Victor (Vincent) wasn't happy, but still, he was having fun with his cavalry elsewhere...

Faltering charges in front of the guns... Nice!!!

However, with his refreshed horses repositioned, Mansouty (Vincent) deployed his cavalry to threaten the battery and infantry in the first Russian defence line...

The Tomsk regt disperse, as the village is firmly secured by the French

While the Lancers charge the supporting square, the light Hussars charge the flank of the battery and thoroughly rout and disperse the 1st line battery

The Oufa regt get hit hard, but in square the Lancers cant break them

The Russian Hussars cant manouvre in the valley as the Russian troops redeploy on the plateau, so valiabtly head to face off the Empress Dragoons. One Pavlosk regt forms square near the Oufa square, while the second tries to force the village and is rebutted

The village is held by the French, and Rudingers brigade hold the plateau awaiting the Austrian reinforcements. The remnants of Poulters brigade retreats to behind the farm.

Russian cavalry and a third battery arrive,  but are cautious given the cavalry toing and froing ahead

As the Russians finally win initiative, the Russian Hussars charge the French Dragoons, but fluff their roll to press home, and falters in front of them, allowing the French charge into melee...

As the 2nd Chrivan regt falters due to fire from the village above, the skirmishers thread their way through the wrecked guns

From the heights, two French batteries pummel the Russian squares with line infantry support. The Russian 1st defence line valiantly hold, as they are surrounded

Having lost command temporarily due to his wounds, the French carry on assaulting the Russians, leaving the village and again the skirmishes begin. The remnants of the first French columns stay put in the village

As French cavalry roam free, the French infantry in line assault a weakened  Russian square

Despite their column faltering, they valiant Russians halt the charging French column...

The Russians have been forced back on the plateau, and are in trouble on the plains but they are adjusting the second line. However, more French are streaming up the valley

So much happening elsewhere, we come to another cavalry melee. The Russians haven't won one yet, and this is going to hurt

Both squares open up on the charging line of French conscripts (yes, conscripts)... but they still press home!

The French light cavalry (Lancers and Hussars) are reformed and ready to go again (for the third time...)

The conscripted French have their generals horse taken from under him but it doesn't stop the routing the depleted Oufa regt

Additionally, the Russian Hussars are routed on the field by the French cavalry

The Neva conscripts under Rudinger try to assault the French line coming out the village, but its a disaster and they rout from the firepower, as the Oufa regt retreat, leaving the two CHrivan regts totally surrounded.

The first French columns arrive to hit the Austrians, as the 2nd Neva and Rudinger form square

The Young guard try and assault the Chirvan regt again, which they do.

The 1st Chirvan take fire from the artillery on the heights and line infantry. As more French columns form up ready to assault.

Mansouty's Dragoons reform where they are, dominating the plain, as the light cavalry ride up in support

French artillery dominate the field from height, decimating the sole Russian square in their 1st defence line.

The French numbers are brought to the fore...

To the left of the abandoned gun, the Chirvan regt loses melee and is forced to retreat. But with, French forces to their rear, they surrended...

Nansouty's Empress Dragoons ride down the fleeing  Neva regiment, but fail to reach the Neva square on the hill. 

The Oufa regt find space behind the farm, but they are seriously depleted and routing. The Russian Hussars have already fled the field, as Nansouty goes hunting...

Pummelled from the heights by artillery, and muskets to their flanks, the last Chirvan square falters when charged by French column.

The French are all over the second line, even if the Chrivan square is still in the first line.

The Austrians are in good fettle, but have had one regiment form square as they doubt the Conscripts of the Neva regt will hold against Nansouty

The French Guard are marching up the valley, as Victors men confidently march past the Chirvan square

The French dragoons have 3 squares to their front, but they are poor quality. Voroznow and his staff have retreated back behind the farm...

While occupying the farm with good quality troops, and having cavalry and square screen the artillery looks good, the valley is littered with Russian dead.

And with heavy French Guard and and 8 gun guard battery coming up the valley, while those guns on the height can hit the conscript squares on the plateau, the Russians simply cannot hold...

The last element of the first defence line rout but have nowhere to run as they are totally surrounded

As the Austrians are engaged on the plateau, the Russians fall back off the field. 

Well that was simply an awesome game!!! Many thanks to my opponents Brett, for his hospitality and wonderful figures, and Vincent for his galloping enthusiasm... They took the loss of their generals well, and didn't laugh to much when my forces dissipated.

Historically, the French cavalry swept away the Russian cavalry and charged the guns but got badly beaten up. The French won the day through numbers but the Russians retreated in good order.

Alas, I couldn't as despite some great dice, they turned savagely and I lost my best brigade on my left flank. The French cavalry didn't lose a melee, and took out two cavalry units, 2 6 gun batteries, 2 infantry units and also routed 2 without engaging... As well as just looking impressive. While the Chirvans held magnificently in the first defence line, they were simply swamped. The French reserves didn't come into play, but had they, the Russians would have been pummelled from the heights by mass cannons. With their cavalry running amok, the Russians would have not lasted long. The Austrians were added to assist the flank but never came into play much. If they hadn't shown up, the French would have swept the conscript Neva regts off the plateau and been lunching at the farm in short order.

Already looking forward to our next game, a segment of Waterloo, "D'Erlons attack"...