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.