Friday, April 16, 2021

Drive on Madrid

Graham set up another two-player Spanish Civil War scenario for his For Whom the Dice Rolls rules.  I would be commanding a Nationalist column of crack troops intent on securing two towns and a critical bridge on the drive to Madrid.  The success of the offensive would depend upon how quickly my column could secure these objectives to protect the army's left flank.  Ahead of the game, I was provided with my OB and an aerial photo of the area of operations.  I was also given the possibility of having limited air support.
Aerial recon of the Area of Operations
My force would be attacking from the west toward the two towns and bridge with orders to take all three objectives with all haste.  Of the Republicans dispositions, I knew little.  Limited intel suggested that militia was on the way in strength to thwart my attack.  While the aerial reconnaissance identified no enemy opposition, my hunch was that the towns would likely be enemy held.

How did the battle play out?  Please read on.

As my force approached the area of operations, the town nearest the bridge was already in enemy hands.  The town on the left was soon to be occupied by enemy militia.  With two of the objectives already in enemy control, what was my plan?

My plan included advancing the Legion up the middle to prevent the militia in the far left town (top of photo) from reinforcing the enemy center and to support the Moroccan attacks upon the central town.  To begin, my artillery targets the occupied town and begins a barrage as my troops advance.
The Legion and one Tabor of Moroccans advance into cover and begin to deploy.  The second Tabor moves swiftly to the edge of the town and debusses while the town's occupants are under bombardment.
The Tabor at the town prepares to attack by forming up into a firing line.  A third militia battalion advances to the riverbank and enfilades the Moroccans as they prepare to attack.  The Moroccans suffer light casualties from the militia but carry on with little concern for the security of their exposed flank.
Photo courtesy
The Legion is the target of an enemy airstrike.  While the attack results in pinning the Legion, casualties are light.  Whew!
The Nationalist barrage lifts as the Moroccans go in.  In a very lopsided firefight, the militia are cut down where they stand.  The militia battalion dissolves.  The Moroccans take the town.  As the Moroccans are securing the town, they take more fire from the militia across the river.
When the barrage lifts, the Moroccans attack!
Photo courtesy
With the town secure, the first Tabor advances quickly from its covering position and works its way to the right of the town.  A Nationalist ground strike comes in over the battlefield strafing the militia on the far bank. 
Photo courtesy
Shocked by this attack, the militia retreats back.  Unfortunately for this militia, a second wave of fighters appears overhead and strafes them a second time.  Ouch!
With one town secured and the supporting militia driven back, the Legion advances upon the far town.
Having set the Legion in motion toward the town, artillery is redirected to target and soften the defenders up before an attack can go in.  Before the artillery rains down, the Legion deploys into firing line and gives the defenders a bit of softening up themselves. 
As the barrage lifts, the Legion strikes.  Having recovered from the double air strike, the enemy militia moves forward toward the river.
Unfortunately, the Legion's assault on the distant town is repulsed with light casualties to both.  Meanwhile, having set up a strong defensive
 position, the Moroccans in the town begin concentrating their fire upon the approaching militia.
At the far town, the Legion goes back in to contend with its stubborn defenders.  The first Tabor moves up to the river discovering that it is crossable.

Casualties mount!
Photo courtesy
The Legion's second attack is no contest and the defenders are butchered in the confines of the town.  The second objective falls.  The first Tabor crosses the river and attacks the militia.  This battalion, too, is destroyed in the open field.  With three of the four Republican battalions tasked with the defense destroyed, the Civil Guard abandons its position.  Battle won by the Nationalists.

Well, that was a short, sharp action!  While the battle account may make this scenario appear as a walk-over, it was not.  Graham had terrible luck with his firing dice.  In the rules, hits accumulate for each '6' rolled.  At one point, 39 D6s rolled without having any 6s appear.  Zero for 39! Soon thereafter, another 39 D6s rolled only two hits.  Graham retired those dice!  

As a two-player game, this played in about two hours.  Action was quick and in many cases, decisive.  When proper tactics are employed on the miniature battlefield and produce expected and historical results, the system generating those results is solid.  The proper interaction and coordination between infantry, artillery, and air have an elegant beauty to behold.

Fun game!  

For Graham's perspective on the battle and many more terrific close-up photos, please visit, With The Legion In Spain.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Action at Great Bridge, DEC1775

photo courtesy
In Matt's quest to fight his way through the American War of Independence in chronological order, his next scenario recreates the action at Great Bridge in December, 1775.  This is an action to which I was completely unfamiliar but turned out into a nifty little battle.

Matt drafted a scenario, OB, and map, and provided the particulars before the day of battle.  As expected from Matt, his table layout was exquisite.  Very tranquil setting, no?

photo courtesy
photo courtesy

In prior installments in this series of battles, the British have often found themselves attacking the Rebels.  Frontal attacks against defenders in Rebels & Patriots have proven quite hazardous.  Many a British attack has met with disaster.  Given the string of American victories and Matt setting the stage, I figured we may see a different situation and a different outcome.  Well, the situation was familiar.  That is, British infantry attacking prepared defenses.  Not only that but the British assault must pass over a narrow causeway to reach the Colonials.  The Americans were all downgraded to "Green."  That should help, right?

The Americans begin with a picket skirmish line out on the causeway with two militia up on the heights.  The Culpeper militia are sharpshooters.  The remaining American forces are still encamped beyond the town.  No one expects a British assault across the causeway. 
As the British light infantry advances on the causeway, it comes under fire by both sharpshooters up on the embankment and skirmishers on the causeway.
In the approach up the causeway, the lights take heavy casualties and are disordered.  
The grenadiers are brought forward to brush the Rebels aside.  This should be easy.
The grenadiers charge the skirmishers.  Failing to evade the oncoming grenadiers, the skirmishers hold their ground.  In an uneven fight the skirmishers are scattered although the grenadiers suffer some casualties.
The victorious and confident grenadiers march up the slope toward the barricades.
Not so fast!  Scattering the American picket clears fire lanes from both militia. Taking heavy casualties, the grenadiers turn tail and break for the rear and the safety of the bridge.  
Next, the remnants of the light infantry are pushed forward along the causeway as American reinforcing militia arrive to man the barricades.  Rebel fire sends the lights to the rear as well.  What is left of the British attacking force?  Two units of Loyalists.  
The loyalty of the Loyalists is called into question as they fail to activate, stalled on the causeway.  This pause allows the Rebels an opportunity to pour more fire into their ranks.
Seeing the last Loyalist formation off, the Virginians hop over the barricades and give chase to the fleeing troops.  As in the historical engagement, the British attack is repulsed with heavy losses while the American defenders barely suffer a scratch.  This fight lasted a little longer than the historical action at about 90 minutes.

Even rating the Americans as Green was not enough to offset the disadvantage of launching frontal assaults upon prepared positions.  The British enjoyed two Independent Fire missions from rolling double sixes.  Both of these off-table assets directed against the Culpeper sharpshooters was not enough to silence those pesky and accurate riflemen.  After the battle, discussion on play balance included adding a second unit of British grenadiers into the mix.  Attacking on a narrow front is a very risky proposition especially under R&P rules.  Battle for Great Bridge has potential as an excellent solo exercise since the defenders defend while the attackers can try various tactics to overcome the odds.

Be sure to check out Matt’s blog (Battle of Great Bridge) for his perspective on the battle and some better photos.

Next up in the series:  Battles for Long Island.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Last of the Renegades

The last of the Renegade Miniatures' ECW figures, that is.  I even needed to order a few Bicorne Miniatures' command figures to bring the regiment up to its full muster of 27 figures.  This is not quite the last of the Renegade figures in The Lead Pile but there are not enough models at hand to field another regiment of foote. 
Having always been drawn to the blue field with encircling motto of the Charles Fairfax banner, I figured this would be a handsome assignment for the out of production Renegade ECW figures remaining in inventory.  As I put this post together, Ross' post on having the discipline to not bite off more than one can paint (see: Back to the Brushes 307) reminds me that buying more than one really, really needs can pay dividends.  
Several years ago, Renegade Miniatures, originally went out of production temporarily but then returned back into production.  When back in production, stocking up seemed prudent.  It turned out to be a sound decision when figure production again went dormant quickly thereafter and has yet to resurface.  Some times, the "buy everything at once" school of thought is the right one.  There are a few ranges of figures, I sure do miss.

On a less somber note, later today sees a F2F game of Zama using Commands & Colors: Ancients.  I will be fielding my 6mm Punic Wars collection in place of the blocks.  One question is, do I deploy the standard scenario as given in the scenario book,
or the deluxe scenario as provided on the website?

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Ode to Sheriffmuir

Battle of Sheriffmuir

Graham pulled out his 1/72nd Jacobite collection and we took to the fields at Sheriffmuir for the Tuesday game.  As I commanded the Jacobite right under Mar, my scope of the entire battle was somewhat limited and myopic.  Therefore, for a full accounting of the battle, please visit Graham's post, And we ran, and they ran.

In our engagement, the action on the Jacobite right is recounted in the following Ode to Sheriffmuir.

The Battle of Sheriffmuir
We threw down our muskets,
Unsheathed our swords
Flying down slopes with screams

The enemy stood shocked
Our momentum not blocked
Floating like ghosts in their dreams

From afar, battle is ne'er as seems

photo courtesy
Their cavalry came on
With their sabers drawn
Resolve not as stout as deems

Many buckled in fear
As our Highlanders drew near
The broadsword overhead it gleams

From afar, battle is ne'er as seems

photo courtesy
Scots against Scots, melees raged
Hacked fore and aft, none disengaged
Bravery and honor, redeems

Limbs cleaved clean as mighty sword falls
Men stare aghast as horror appalls
From afar, battle is ne'er as seems

photo courtesy
Cut down where they stood
No commands could be heard
Bodies piled high in extremes

With Argyll high on plateau
Blind to the carnage below
From afar, battle is ne'er as seems

While his right had been battered
His left had been shattered
Torn asunder by Highlanders furloughed
photo courtesy

and battle is ne'er as seems.

-- Johann Freytag, wounded Sheriffmuir, 1715

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Auxiliary Assyrian Spearmen

With a heavy load of gaming and writing of late, time spent at the painting desk has naturally decreased.  Well, can anyone actually have a "heavy load of gaming?"  Like having a heavy load of dessert or a heavy load of fun, perhaps it is not easy to over-indulge in the hobby.  
Anyway, the current tranche of Biblicals comes to a brief halt with the mustering out of fourteen Wargames Foundry Assyrians.  As always, great figures and fun to paint.  Love the large shields.  The black face with bronze metalwork is pleasing to my eye.  With the table cleared of Rivoli, now would be a good opportunity to bring the Assyrians out for a little parade.  I wonder how much larger the collection has grown since the last parade?
On the painting desk are a number of projects but no more Biblicals for now. Paintwork shows much less focus while a number of projects will see an addition or two.  Expect to see some Napoleonic Spanish, ECW, Italian Wars, another battle for WotR, and even a few Star Wars figures cross the finish line in the weeks ahead.
Oh, and with weather improving, more Cycling the Palouse.  I have been out on the road for a couple of days each of the last two weeks.  While many of the roads are still a mess from lingering winter roadside debris, the body is not such a mess besides having gained a few pounds over the long winter.  As mileage picks up, the weight will come down.  Well, at least I hope so!  Hmm. Is it possible that my attitude toward dessert contributes to the winter weight gain?

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Battle for Vizerrara Pass

Battle for Vizerrara Pass Table

Graham arranged for an early morning (late afternoon for Graham) two-player game of For Whom the Dice Rolls (FWTDR).  Given my planning from the previous FWTDR game (see Situational Awareness on the Wargaming Table), the pre-battle briefing was just that; brief!  I was given a rough map of the area, my Republican Order of Battle, and a vague objective.  No information on the enemy was provided, at all.  My Republicans will be entering the table from the bottom map edge while the Nationalists will be arriving from the top map edge.  For all I know, the Nationalists may already be on the table and occupying the town.  The Republican objective is to control the pass.  Artillery and Off-Table Assets for the Republicans are limited.  Who knows what the Nationalists may have up their sleeves?  This should be fun.

On to my brief battle report from afar.  Graham, I suspect, will be posting much better photos of the action shortly.  

Graham's battle report at: Heading Them Off At The (No) Pass-aran.

Relevant photo description follows each photo.

The Nationalists win initiative and bring on an armored car and an infantry battalion in trucks.  The infantry disembark.  The Republicans bring on a field gun, unlimbering it off the road.  Two Trubia Naval tanks advance on either side of the road while an infantry battalion advances on the right of the main road. 
Nationalists move the armored car up the road to counter the Trubias while the Carlist infantry head for the town.  The Basques move up to the river and halt.
On the left, both armies bring on reinforcements and make their way toward the monastery on the hill.
Reinforcements continue to arrive on board as the Nationalists advance across a broad front.  The Republican Asaltos enter on the right with their armored car in the lead.  A Nationalist airstrike targets the Basques at the river.  They are pinned but not much damaged.
While both sides advance in strength upon both flanks in an attempt to control the high ground, the Trubias in the center bypass the enemy armored car and threaten the arriving reinforcements.  
The Nationalist armored car spins around to attack the trailing Trubia from the rear while the truck-mounted AA attacks the lead Trubia from the front.  Both tanks suffer hits.  Carlist infantry moves from the dangerous open ground to occupy the central town.
The Republican field gun sends a shell up the tailpipe of the Nationalist armored car before opening up on the advancing Carlists on the high ground on the left.  The lead Trubia returns fire upon the AA truck and knocks it out.
The Republicans keep making their way up the left flank along the ridgeline while a third Basque battalion arrives and advances up the road toward the action.  Both Trubias attack infantry in the open.  One battalion is caught in march column on the road.
Both Carlist infantry battalions, attacked by the tanks, panic and flee to the rear!  Their battle is done.
With the threat of Carlist reinforcements in the center gone, attention can turn toward dealing with the flanks.
To start off, the Republicans call in a bomber run, targeting the enemy on the right hill.  Near the town, the Asalto armored car goes up in smoke from close range fire from the town.  Ouch! 
Unfortunately, the bombers misidentify their target and the bomb loads are dropped upon their own troops!  The Asaltos survive the unfortunate friendly fire mishap but are shaken from the experience. 
In the center, the Basques cross the river to threaten the town while the Asaltos on the right hill attempt to regain their composure.  The Carlists opposite the Asaltos use this opportunity to attack.
On the Republican left, two battalions of Basques move into position to threaten one Carlist battalion among the hills.  The first close assault is repulsed but the enemy has been softened up in a crossfire.  In the center, the two Trubias drive off to the foothills to support the beleaguered Asaltos.  The tanks are attacked by infantry and the infantry are driven off.  Well, maybe driven over.
On the right, the Asaltos are driven off the high ground with heavy casualties as the Basques in the center advance upon the town.  On the left, two Basque battalions provide preparatory fire into a very hard-pressed Carlist battalion before launching an assault.
The Republican assault goes in at more than two-to-one odds.  The Carlists are thrown back from the heights.
The Carlists rout back across the river.  With more than half of the Nationalist infantry scattered, the Republicans declare victory!  

Well, that was a fun and tense little scenario.  For a two-player game, this was just about the perfect size for two players.  Action was brisk and engaging throughout.  Card play with one player per side seemed smoother than in our recent multiplayer battles.  Both players had opportunities to attack and defend.  Game play seemed much more tactical and meaningful in nature since random off-board assets were kept to a minimum.  Not having much onboard artillery helped smooth the game too.  The rules and the interactions between parts are beginning to gel in my mind.

All in all, it was great fun.  Well done, Graham, for putting together a fine game!