Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Le Duc on the Road XX - Round Up & Pics from the Edge

 In the absence of anything else, as things are particularly busy chez le Duc... here's a roundup of recent walks and visits with the Duchesse. Now, you might think that Pandemic Lockdown would prohibit such frivolity. Nay, I say ...nay!

You shall not paaaaaaaas.

Needless to say, the Wargaming Blog Police will be on my case big style.

'Another blog post with no wargaming content? Are you serious Duc?

 ...and of course...the pile of stuff that I should be playing and posting grows ever larger. ho hum

You see a rough coastline ...I see where Vikings landed in the 12th century...

Part of the 'not so haunted' coastline

Good to see commanding site Project Managers - who probably think they're being putting quotation marks around the wrong word, and the lack of punctuation, the exclusive use of Upper Case...oh the irony...

A monument to Lance Corporal Walter Newel and Captain W V Edwards - both engineering students who loved the area, but who were sadly killed in the 1st World War.

Skyline Drive - Belfast Lough

The Copse

Entrance to the Witch Caves...well, no, but part of Game of Thrones was filmed just up this road.

Looking north to Magee Island

The Nugget

Lighthouse on an eerie evening

The cliffs where hundreds (or thousands) of local residents were thrown off during the 1641 rebellion. This place is not haunted at all ...much.

No really, I believe him

The aforementioned cliff pathway, after being opened up again

Someone left a message on the fence when they could get no further. I'm sure I won't be tempted to leave a new message, each time I visit...

Looking south back down the rugged coastline

'So you're posting these fantastically competent, and absolutely luscious pictures of the environment, in order to hide the fact that you haven't been wargaming? Get outta here Duc!'

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Sbeitla 1943 - Testing Division Sized OHW

Steve over at Sound Officers' Call, recently tested Martin Rapier's One Hour Wargame variant for division(plus) sized battles (rules are in his downloads section on blog). Now, this, for me, was pushing many boundaries and offered a great Russian Front, or similar game - with large units, reflecting a grand tactical confrontation, with epic scope.

It sparked off things that I've always wanted to do, preferably with simple rules, ever since I originally saw Megablitz back in the day. i.e.:

  • Market Garden - not just part of it, ...all of it.
  • Peiper's drive to the Meuse during the Ardennes offensive 
  • Possibly some larger desert battles

Now I have toyed with FoB WW2 and Rommel for these, but there, a unit is a company, so when you max up the level of OOB, you still have multiple tables and large units.

With this OHW variant,  you move battalions (just like Megablitz). Now granted, there will always be a level of abstraction - even more so when we consider that it's (1) turn based, (2) attack dice rolls against what are basically 'hit points', and (3) my 20mm forces probably look VERY out of place at this scale - but this really works for a rapid game, whilst bearing in mind grand tactical considerations

For something like Market Garden or (especially) Ardennes, we'd need to add a supply variant, but that's not hard.

The rules worked seamlessly, and after all, they're a simple, yet not simplistic, means of looking at a grand tactical WW2 battle. A few scenario specific additions (operational supply, weather, day turns etc.) would be seamless and still allow a fast moving mini campaign.

This game was based upon 21st Panzer's action against US 1st Armoured around Sbeitla in N.Africa, in Feb 1943. (Scenario taken from one of the old Clash of Armour scenario books).

Combat Command B to the west, though ready to react to German moves from East.

To the south, the main 21st Panzer attack toward the town goes in.

CCA is caught off guard, and needs to decide fast, where and when it will support against the German the drive on the town.

US Armour invests moves to support, north of the town - but they are green troops, compared to the Panzergrenadiers of 21st Pz (hit point differentials used to distinguish - so green/average troops will simply not last as long).

Panzer Grenadier assault, supported by armour, to the south.

...infantry actions, against Germans weakened by US artillery, to the north. Panzers have broken through, though substantially weakened by earlier armoured action. Additional US armour blocks the road to the town.

Sbeitla itself becomes the focus of repeated German assaults.

On the US southern flank, two battalions seek to envelop the town.

...though is heavily bombarded by US artillery...

German armour is unsuccessful during the thrust from the north.

...releasing reinforcements to head toward the town. won't end well, but a very close run thing, with many battalions near breaking point.

A very nice set, and available on Martin's and Steve's blogs. A lot of great potential here.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

The Seelow Heights - More Rapid Fire Reloaded

Time for some more RFR - and with a great scenario book from Steve Shan over at the Nations in Arms blog. 

'The Seelow Heights, a Wargamer's Guide' is an excellent, full colour scenario book for Rapid Fire. I would say this is better even than the official Rapid Fire stuff, as there are rule amendments for the theatre (hit-and-run variant for German armour units is particularly effective, and changes to Panzerfaust availability etc. etc.), better historical content and improved layout.  


  • The author's familiarity with both the end-of-war in the east and the nuances of the rules really shine through.  
  • Maps and OOBs are superb. Very well written and organised, with superb pictures.


  • Thoroughly recommended. As an item produced outside the 'official' RF stable, it's incredible work.

  The battle itself was the April 16th 1945 scenario - 'Across the Haupt Graben' - a very tough ask for Soviet forces, despite their numerical superiority.

 Also seeing more and more to like in RFR - especially when I see some of Steve's hacks in action.

German defensive lines - sparse, but terrain is in their favour.

From an armoured standpoint, despite Soviet numbers, they have some advantages.

...though that does not lessen the impact of Soviet 'Animal Killers'.

...though outnumbered, there is a tough German defence in depth in there.

Heavier Soviet armour (with restricted ammo in IS2s) on their right.

...with '85s on the right - with numbers.

Smoke in the centre as a breakthrough is attempted. The road is pivotal here due to marshy nature/flooding of surrounding terrain. 

...though the Germans will trade ground for time in the same old way...

Panthers plus an additional Tiger also sit to provide defence in depth.

Early action on the Soviet right...

...while centre and left become crucibles of close in fights with Panzerfausts and infantry actions.

...and the odd Tiger I.

Panthers move across the bridge to reinforce the German left, which is about to fall.

Perhaps inevitably, weight of Russian armour caves in the first line of defence in the centre.

...thereby creating the need for some diversification of effort...

,,,though it doesn't all go the German's way.

The battle was not entirely finished, though with Soviet victory conditions dictating they either capture the eastern part of the table, or get 4 AFVs across the river, it was easy to see how a stalwart defence in depth had worked.
Great rules, and great scenario book. Recommended.