Thursday, November 28, 2013

Operation Quarterback

Had an amazing time last weekend down at Dueling Grounds, where a group of
8 of us partook in Operation Quarterback, a one-off campaing designed by one
of the THMG members, Watts. The campaign saw participants play out three
scenarios designed to simulate the Allies' advance following D-Day. The Allies'
objective was to clear a path to the French town of Chavingy for the advancing
U.S. armour and then take the town from the German forces occupying it.

Chivigny and environ from the players' briefing

The event was a smashing success: everyone involved had a blast and there were
many got'cha moments on both sides. In the end the Germans retained possession
of the town, denying the Americans access for their armour and then pushing them
back in a final scenario that saw both teams united on one table as the Wehrmacht
counter-attacked the beleaguered U.S. troops . For the players, however, everyone
emerged  a victor.

I have to admit, I was all too caught up in the day to take pictures of more than my
first game; but you can check out firemonkeyboy's blog, a fellow THMGer, for a
look at things from a U.S. perspective, and Þorsteinn offers a second German
Anschauung from his blog.

Set Up & Turn 1

Round one of the campaign individual German and American players squaring off in
a 'point defence' scenario', where the attackers (the Americans, as the Germans were
defending their captured town) would need to take and hold objectives. I chose to
deploy my force on a table representing one of the swampy areas lying around Chavigny.
This was a calculated decision: some players on the German team had designed forces
better equipped for the close quarters of the town, others -your's truly included-
for open ground.

The board was set up with fairly open ground on the right, sparse tree cover and a few
swamps; the left side had more forests and a couple of hills, offering a safer option
for advancing troops. To counter the latter area's abundance of cover, I set up barbed
wire (which forces soldiers to slow while crossing and take a pin) there. On the right, I
positioned my Howitzer and an MMG to take advantage of the lines of fire. The rest of
my men were interspersed in the copses of trees, waiting to see and react to where the
Americans entered the board.

Things got off to a good start for me when the American's preparatory bombardment,
a scenario rule designed to soften up the defenders since their troops start hidden, failed
to materialize (i.e. my opponent rolled a 1 on a d6). So, the Americans, under the esti-
mable leadership of my opponent, Toby,  had to take to the table without so much as a
single pin on the German forces -ouch! They advanced cautiously trying to suss out any
weak points in the German's lines.

German Artillery awaits the coming U.S. Troops

Turns 2 & 3

Not seeing any easy way to move forward, the American decided to hug to the
more heavily covered side of the board, moving up behind the cover of trees to
keep out of sight of the German artillery and MMG, but knowing that at some
point they'd have to face a barrage from the howitzer. The Germans countered
by moving troops up towards the barbed wire, making sure the Americans were
only able to advance so far before coming under fire.

Die Jungs wait in the cover trees for targets to appear.

Toby did try was to sneak a unit of men down the extreme left of the board, in a
gamble to seize one of the objectives before my troops could react. Luckily for me,
on turn three my Grille, a self-propelled artillery piece, passed its morale check and
rumbled onto the board. A round from the Grille's heavy mortar spelt an end to those
G.I.'s as well as U.S. hopes of a two-pronged assault.

Here comes the Boom!

Turns 4 & 5

The Americans fared no better in the following rounds, howitzer and
machine gun fire whittled away at another unit of G.I.'s and with only one
more infantry unit and special teams remaining, the American's hopes of
taking either of the objectives was quickly diminishing. To keep things inter-
esting, I sent a unit of Germans forward towards a copse of trees at the cen-
tre of the board, to see whether they could dislodge the bazooka team there
and force the Americans farther back into their deployment zone (sc. keep the
game fun for both sides).

The Panzergrenadiers charge out of cover while
the MG 42 covers their advance.

Turns Six & Endgame

Most of the action took place now between the remaining American troops at
the centre of the table and the lone group of German infantry that had advanced
to meet them. My Panzergrenadiers pounced on the hapless 'Bazooks', the sole unit
remaining in the two-man Bazooka team and easily overpowered him in a quick
and bloody mêlée before regrouping by pushing further into the woods to protect
themselves from the small arms fire of the remaining American troops.

Dran, drauf, drüber! The Panzergrenadier overrun
the American-held position in the woods.

In retrospect, this was a risky move and my troopers quickly found themselves
under heavy fire from both the Americans command squad and the last unit
of U.S. G.I.'s. They eventually fell in hand-to-hand to the Americans and their
SMG's, but by this time a German victory was a foregone conclusion in this match.

Again, my thanks to all who participated in the one-day campaign, and especially to
Watts for his organisation of the entire event. I sounds like the next one will be in North
Africa pitting Rommel's forces against the Americans and British.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

No Yankee Blues!

Tried a new game last week, Longstreet. Set in the American
Civil War, it's a table top game that introduces card play, where
the cards are employed either as currency (activate troops, diminish
casualties, &c.) or as special events (with the event being detailed
on the card played). It makes for an interesting game as players must
keep an eye on what their troops are doing on the table as well as
deliberating meta-gaming decisions about what cards they want
to play or keep.

Set Up

In the scenario the Confederate troops were tasked with taking
two objectives (represented by the gray tents you'll see in the
photos). To succeed, they only had to capture (sc. touch with a
unit) one; but they'd have to ford a river and tromp through some
woods to get there. Oh, and did I mention my Blue Coats?
Yeah, the Union wasn't about to let those dirty Grey Backs
just saunter in.

The initial setup: Rebels on the left,, Union on the right.

On the Confederate side, the infantry units line up behind a low wall
and in the trees under the watchful eye of their commander

At the other end of the Rebel's line, a lone unit of veteran cavalry eyes up
the Union troops across the river.

Turns 1 & 2

Not much to tell, here: mostly movement with the Union troops taking
potshots at the advancing Grey Backs. The cannon on the Union
left fired repeatedly on a column of Confederate cavalry but were
largely ineffective, despite all the bonuses offered by the dice re-rolls
granted to my side with its seasoned artillery.

The stalwart Union infantry fire on their erstwhile countrymen,
trusting in God and, more importantly...

 the cannons to the the left of them...

...and the cannon to their right!

Turn 3

By turn three the Johnny Rebs had finally schlepped it over the
river and through the forests. In the face of this, the Union troops
had reversed marched. No doubt the Confederate recruits gave
a cheers they saw what they believed to be Union troops back-
pedalling; the grizzled vets knew better, the Yankees were just
maximizing firing opportunity

Now the action  started in earnest. My Union soldiers volley'd and
thunder'd with shot and shell from one end of their line to the other.
Damage wasn't spectacular but shut those pie-eating Southerners
up. Fewer cheers rose from the Confederate troops as the Blue
Coats reverse marched again to prepare for their next volley.

The fire power of this fully-armed and operation Union army!

Turn 4

The Confederates finally made it out of the woods and into a position
to fire on my stalwart ranks. The Confederate cavalry on the Union's
left flank (hence-forth aptly named the‘Dukes of Hazard’), who had 
by this time emerged from four salvos of cannon fire seemingly unscathed,
surged out of the river and threatened to break through the Union left. On 
the Union's right flank, the other Rebel cavalry, still experiencing problems
crossing the river, decided to hunker down and fire at the Union ranks 
arrayed to their fore. 

'Looks like them Duke Boys are at it again!':
the Confederate cavalry closes the distance
on the Union left

On the Union's right flank, the other Confederate cavalry,
the 'Artexes & Atreyus', just can't seem to escape the river -how sad.

Turn 5

The Rebel artillery finally came into play this turn and blew away two units
of my cavalry; doing as much damage to my forces as the entire Union battery
had managed thus far!

Perhaps shamed by success of the Confederate artillery, my cannon finally
scored a solid hit, obliterating the Confederate cavalry struggling in the river.
This effectively ended the threat to one of the two objectives and the Union
troops start to swing around to flank attack the Confederate dogs.

Johnny Reb's cannon finally comes into play as the
Confederate left begins to buckle

Turn 6

Fire from units on both sides and the 'Dukes of Hazard' move 
dangerously close before they receive a full barrage from the 
Union artillery followed up by a charge from the Union grunts 
guarding only objective still in play. The ‘Dukes’ are thrown 
back, though still manage to survive the withering fire and 
bayonets –tough nuts!

Elsewhere on the field, the Union cavalry smashed into the flank 
of Rebel soldiers and caused them to flee and Union troops fare 
similarly well at the centre of the table, driving one unit of those 
pie-eating rebel scum right back through the woods they’d fought 
so long to pass through.

'Looks like the Duke Boys are in a heap o' trouble!'

Union Flag held high, the Yankee cavalry smashes into
the beleaguered Confederate's flank 

And...back they go!


At this point, the Confederate general decided prudence was the better
part of valour and chose to save his men's lives rather than risk another
assault on the objectives. Also, it was late and beer waits for no man.

My thanks to Thor, who elected to play the dirty Confederates and for
having the best name ever; and to Marke, for officiating the entire match
and helping me pick up the rules as we went along.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Snatch & Grab

So, the boys got together on the weekend for a Mousehouse.1 A buddy of mine, who first introduced me to BA, has been itching to field his Americans but we'd yet to have a chance to play together since my purchasing of the rules and mini's. Several other Moushousers were also in attendance, some of whom are interested in playing and have purchased the books.
'maʊs: haʊs -noun: a) an organised gathering consisting of a group of male friends at the abode of one the group for the purposes of drinking and playing games without the attendance of females; b) the location where said gathering is held.

In short, this was an excellent opportunity for everyone to get better acquainted with the rules and the feel of the game. I'd been hard at work on scenery for the occasion as it robs so much to the ambience when you're surveying a battlefield made up of tea towels and Tupperware. Other players were also able to bring along what they had for scenery and, in the end, we created a down-right respectable looking scene on which our commanders could cut their Bolt Action teeth.

Since it would be the first game for many involved, we decided to keep it small; a 600 point force for each side (Americas v. Germans) with no vehicles or artillery. My friend with Americans was kind enough to email me his selected force -I swear I did not consult this when putting together the German Trupp- and I printed out unit cards for each side, a sort of 'tale of the tape' for players to reference since they weren't expected to know the rules like the back of their hand.

A quick view of the unit cards to help
new players understand their units.

I decided upon the 'Top Secret' mission for the scenario: it requires players to enter their forces from off-board, race to grab an objective from the board's centre and then escort it off the way they came. The mission would give players a chance to 'do' something with their troops rather than just shooting at each other from behind cover.

The board was centred on a small family farm that the Germans had occupied and used as a supply depot before subsequently abandoning it. Unfortunately for them, they left behind sensitive documents detailing the area's supply lines. Now the Germans found themselves racing back to the the site in order to recover the plans before they fell into the hands of the fast-approaching American forces.

The no man's between the German deployment zone and their forsaken depot.

The depot and objective at the centre of the farm complex.
A suitable defence point, if you can get there first.

Set Up & Turn 1

The scenario calls for the troops of both sides to begin off-table and enter units as they pass a successful morale check, which is meant to account for problems encountered while both sides race to arrive first. We did allow for units with advanced placement  rules to set up on the board, hidden. In this scenario the Amer-ican's sniper set up inside a house with a good view of the German deployment zone; the spotter for
the German mortar hid himself in a bunker, watching for approaching U.S. troops).

Both sides chose to run any troops that managed to arrive onto the board, the Americans making a B-line for the objective, while the Germans, wary of American sniper fire (which did drop one of the German's MG42 crew members), stopped some troops just behind a fence line and ran others along the side of the board, safely behind a small wheat field.

The German MG 42 hustles forward to supply suppressing fire
for troops following behind them.

U.S. sniper and spotter make their presence felt.

The sniper fire works, and the Germans advance cautiously, spreading out
and taking cover where possible.

German hesitancy plays into the Americans' hands,
Able Squad rushes forward.

Turn 2

Momentum stayed with the Americans the second round and they closed the gap the the objective, making it to the entrenched positions closest to them and setting up their MG teams. One more turn would have them at the objective. Turn two also saw the appearance of Bravo Squad, who'd failed their morale check on the first turn, they brought up the rear, eager to catch up with their buddies in Able Squad. The sniper continued to fire, failing to wound but placing a pin.

The Germans also advanced, but with their forces spread out, they had noticeably more ground to cover before reaching the documents they'd left behind.

American troops reach the outside of the defensive fortifications surrounding the depot.
MG teams set up and prepare to cover Able Squad's advance to the objective.

The German right moves up, exchanging the cover of one hedgerow for the next.

On the left, the Germans look out from a small field of wheat,
scanning for the sniper's muzzle flash.

Late but not forgotten: Bravo Squad makes its appearance.

Turn 3

Turn three saw the Americans push forward down the centre of the board. Able Squad surged over the entrenched positions surrounding the depot and took possession of the objective. Behind Able Squad, the .30cal MG teams got ready to cover the withdrawal of the G.I.'s. Bravo squad continued to move forward, edging right to deal with the flanking Germans.

Rather than coming at the Americans straight on, the Germans went up either side and tried to outflank their opponents. On the left, they managed to spook the U.S. sniper into retreating from his position;on the right they stormed into the two-room dwelling and set up a firing lane on Able squad in the depot. The German mortar also showed up, which meant that the Yanks could expect shelling to begin next turn.

Able takes the objective, but they've got Germans to the right of them...

...and German's to the left.

Turn 4

Thing started to look bad this turn for the Americans. Able Squad had taken the objective, but now found themselves under heavy fire on three sides as well as from the German mortar and MG 42. Despite Able's veteran status, it cracked under the pressure and went down instead of falling back, as ordered, behind the MG's set up to cover their withdrawal. Bravo Squad moved up to support, but the Germans, now in control of both buildings after a brutally one-sided assault on the U.S. sniper, were too well protected to be phased.

The Germans pour fire on Able from both buildings as a squad of
heavily-armed SS veterans advance, assault rifles blazing.

The German mortar and MG teams throw their weight behind the assault on Able squad.

The not so able Able Squad breaks as the casualties and pins mount.

Bravo Squad, rushing in to support their beleaguered chums.

A German squad moves up to flank the Americans.

Turn 5

Things went from bad to worse for the Americans this turn. The Lieutenant moved up to urge them on, but even his leadership bonus wasn't enough to shake them into action, Worse yet, the one .30cal MG team that could have offered Able Squad support was flanked and assaulted by the Germans who charged out of the dwelling where they had just finished off the American sniper. Then the Waffen-SS stormed the depot and put Able out of their misery.

Able Squad faces certain death with grim determination.

The Germans don't keep them waiting.

Turns 5 & 6 or The Ballad of Bravo Squad

The game was effectively over at this point. There was no way for the Americans to retake or even reach the Waffen-SS squad in possession of the documents before the Germans could safely relay the plans out of the combat zone. In true 'do or die' fashion, however, the Americans pressed on, resolved to avenge their fallen battle brothers of Able Squad.

There's no need for lengthy discussion here, best to let pictures and Pvt. Jimmy Rockwood, who served with Bravo Squad that day and was known for his 'skill' with the rhyme, do the explaining.

'The boys o' Bravo stood last on that day,
swore to 'emselves to make the Jerries pay.'

'And in they went, spirits low but heads high,
and they beat those Fritzes as the bullets did fly. '

'Then up in the house, gave the door a manly shove,
as Hun artillery came a-rainin' from above.'

'So off again it was 'gainst the next awaiting foe...

...and again it was Bravo done struck the winning blow.'


By the time we called it quits, it was turn 7! Sure the Germans had won the scenario, but even after the conclusion was foregone, both players were thoroughly enjoying themselves. In fact, in an impressive display of Corinthian Spirit, the German player even delayed moving the objective off the board so that we could all see how Bravo Squad's finest hour would play out.

Thanks to all who participated and I look forward to more exciting action to come.

'Such was the bravery of good ol' Bravo Squad,
that even Cap and Bucky were shocked & awed.'

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hold The Line!

A game of Bolt Action in 15mm at Dueling Grounds, 23/10/2013. It was a 1000 points per player for the Point Defence Scenario, the Germans were defending several key points which the Americans had been tasked with taking.

The battle would be fought just outside what must have once been a sleepy Dutch hamlet, the Germans were dug in just south of the main clutch of the town's buildings and had concealed themselves in and around the objectives they'd been ordered to protect

Set Up & Preliminary Bombardment

All but a handful of German units were set up. Of these, all were hidden as per scenario rules, making them very hard to fire upon until they fire or move out of cover.

The Preliminary bombardment wasn't too devastating, of the 11 shells that fell (1:unit on the table) non caused anything more serious than the placing of some pin markers on German units.

The German Anti-Tank Gun and MMG crew, holed-up in a ruined
church just outside of town.

Huddled around the crates under their protection in a copse, the men
dig in as the Yank artillery barrage falls all about them.

The German howitzer sits brazenly on a rise, hungry for targets.

Turn 1:

With aroar the American forces came onto the board, concentrating their troops on the German left flank. The Germans split their concentration: some firing upon the advancing U.S. troops, others rallying in order to remove pins and so increase their chance of hitting the broadside of anything.

A proud Sherman Tank forms the centre around which the Americans
anchor their advance.

The Americans show only token interest in the hamlet proper, devoting a
few troops to their other flank, an MMG, Bazooka team,
Mortar crew and their Forward Observer.

The Germans take advantage of the largely-ignored village and move in
to pressure the American left.

A German Lieutenant takes up position inside a dwelling in town,
offering covering fire to his men as they move forward and fire on
the U.S. MMG.

Turn 2
The second turn saw both forces manoeuvring for better firing positions. The American forces on the German left moved forward to close the distance to an objective while the Sherman sat back and fired
on the Heer units.

In answer, the Germans pushed their left forward, hoping to establish a front line the stymie the advancing U.S. troops. The PaK 38, which couldn't see the Sherman from the church, and the MMG teams raced to the aid of their Kampfgefährten on the heavily-pressured German left. On the right, the Germans continued into the town, increasing threat of a flank attack on the American's left flank.

U.S. grunts advance from the woods into cover as they close the
distance towards the objective on the German's left flank.

Across, on the German side, the German Panzergrenadier squads mirror
the Yanks and move forward into cover.

Meanwhile in town, another squad of Germans moves up to the
abandoned Bierstube and continues to pick off the American
MMG team.

"Lauf!": the German PaK and MMG's book it from the church.

Turn 3

And...Action! This turn saw some serious action; every unit that could fire/attack pretty much did. The German's Howitzer pounded a squad of U.S. infantry men and the Germans in town rushed into mortal combat with the Bazooka team, making quick work of them.

The Americans gave as good as they got and called down an airstrike on the Germans, tearing a squad of infantry to ribbons. The tank continued to move forward, pressured by German mortar fire, it missed the German Howitzer but caused more than one group of Panzergrenadier to duck in the face of a hail of fire from it's mounted MMG's, which gave another squad of Americans a chance to forward.

Now you see 'em...


...after a Howitzer, you don't.

A U.S. dive bomber lays waste to the Germans hunkered down behind a
stone wall.

When the smoke clears, there's German commander in the rows of wheat
sees that there's nothing left for him to give orders to.

"Ah, mêlée, the work face of battle.": the Germans rush and easily dispatch
the Bazooka team before regrouping... the bar! Hey, hand-to-hand is thirsty work!

The last squad of Americans moves up and into a position to fire.

Turn 4

Both sides continued to pour lead at each other, but the Americans were starting to have the worst of it: as the pins-count on the U.S. infantry units rose their morale started to crack. The pressure clearly got to the Forward Observer as well, who called in his remaining air strike on his own tank.

The Germans continued apace. The fallen squad was replaced by fresh troops moving up from around the rear and the MMG's and PaK that had been running from the church finally made it into a position to open fire for the first time in the game.

The Sherman Tank survives friendly fire, but takes a couple of pins
in the process. A close call!

The Germans concentrate fire on the Americans in the crops, firing from
their centre...

...the MMG's from the right,...

...and of course the boyz fire off a few between pints on the patio.

Under increasing fire, the lone remaining American unit hits the dirt
and refuses to advance any further.


At the end of turn four, without a single objective within running distance and the dwindling hopes of any of their units making it much further, the American command decided that discretion was the better part of valour and beat a hasty retreat.

Many thanks to my opponent, ernieR for a very enjoyable game!

Iacta alea est!