Sunday, 26 January 2014

Game 15 - Team Yankee, 'First Blood'

As mentioned previously, we used the Team Yankee board game rules as the basis for  a WWIII battle, with one model = one vehicle and a scale where 1 hex on the board = 2" on the table (the scale that Steve used).

This scale worked well and didn't seem too jarring, despite being larger than some of the scales that I'd used in other rules in the 80s. The Heroics and Ros vehicles had all been previously based for Modern Spearhead and despite initial concerns, the basing actually promoted better comprehension of arc of fire and flanks than would normally be permitted with other basing regimes.

(Another interesting point to note is that if we had done a battle of this size with Spearhead scales, there would have been 4-5 bases per side, which brings both the nature of the battlefield here, and in larger Spearhead games, into sharp focus.)

All in all, using the Combat Results Table from TY, together with an approximation of ranges and capabilities worked well and gave a quick game, full of twists and turns.

TY's 'First Fire, Move/React, Second Fire' system allows real tactics to thrive, especially so with missile vehicles like ITVs and even BMPs, which took a real toll in the scenario, simply by virtue of selecting spotted targets at the right time and not moving. Having said that their poor armour makes them a sitting duck at decent ranges. The nature of the rules therefore forces the US player to think with US doctrine, and the Soviet player is forced to adopt Soviet doctrine. Nice system and nees more exploration.

The game was based on the 'First Blood' scenario in the rules - in turn based on the first contact in the book.

 Soviet armour drives hard up the grey felt autobahn.

M1s and M2s lurk in the farm and village, acquiring targets...

 Long range firing from the US left flank also starts to take a heavy toll on the BMPs, which have not been adequately screened with the Russian armour's attempt to use the road.

Of course, going isn't easy for the Russian armour either.

 Smoking wrecks begin to gather...

Long range firing from the ridgeline takes a terrible toll... do the US units in the village.

Russian units get a bloody nose.

US armour however, is not immune to Soviet ATGWs, which take a terrible toll.

 US armour moves off the crest line to engage advancing Soviet units in the flank. This helps blunt the advance entirely.

"No targets left to acquire sir..."

The Soviet advance was quickly blunted, though not without some cost. A nice set of quickfire rules that can be adapted right across the cold war and WWII even. I guess this was what GDW were good at, though I hadn't realised how easily the system could be adapted (thanks again Steve).

The rules do recommend that a reinforced Soviet battalion would give the US tanks a little more to think about in this scenario as a variant. Hmm, perhaps next week.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Medieval Land Fun-Time World

A little off topic, but if you have ever had even a passing interest in Game of Thrones, this is epic!

Friday, 24 January 2014

MERDC Madness

Despite all of the promises (mostly to myself) in relation to the gaming goodness in 2014, the self proclaimed King of the Wargaming Butterflies (that’d be me) has decided to try something different.
Like most gaming bloggers, I read a lot of gaming blogs and over on ‘Sound Officers Call’, I noted with interest that Steve was using the old GDW board wargame ‘Team Yankee’ for miniature gaming – something I had thought about doing myself, but never had the cahoneys. I assumed that boardgame style Combat Results Tables and ratios belonged in a hex and chit game and not on the wargame table, but the thought always nagged me, and so now that Steve has done it, I can’t help myself.

Now I was a fan of the book, the game and even the graphic novel and if they’d have made a movie I would have been first in line. Anyone in their mid (ish) 40s remembers the cold war, the novelisations and the paranoia / hype / relief (in that order) surrounding the period and it has found its own niche in modern wargaming (with many excellent blogs).

 GDW’s ‘Team Yankee’. I’ve seen several copies of this and they are all battered like this one. I believe that this is either a flaw designed in, in order to reduce 2nd hand value, or that GDW made them this way in the first place ;)

So, in email conversation with Steve, I realised that I had been not only holding myself back, but that he had in fact done all of the work for me. I am now armed with his interpretations and playtest info and so will be giving the game a go with Heroics & Ros 1/300 stuff  (I still owe you another email Steve – it is coming).

And so to my dilemma. I was an a typical SovBloc player back in the day when I did modern(z) with WRG 1950-75 rules. In fact (and I kid you not), the M1 Abrams was just coming into service, and I can remember games where we called it the XM1. In those days it was easy for my opponent as he could paint the XM1 green factory colours and hide it amongst his M60s. Then came MERDC…
Unlike what Google might think, MERDC does not stand for ‘Men’s European Roller Derby Championships’…no; it is in fact a camo scheme designed by the US ‘Mobility Equipment Research & Design Command’ (see what they did there?). It’s the mid 80s camo of choice for US armour although debate rages as to how many M1s were finished this way etc. and there are several variants – but dark and light highlights along colour lines are the mainstay of the design

A MERDC woodland variety in all its glory

That said, it looks good on the table...and so to my dilemma (finally). It’s a bugger to paint on 1/300. Gone are the days when factory green was acceptable. Oh no, now that we are proper wargamers with blogs and stuff, we have to do it right. So I finished a vehicle or two, and boy am I not happy.

Don’t look at it!!…actually the blurring helps...

I'm looking at finer brushes, so here’s hoping that I get better and the abortive first platoon or two can be hidden in a wood, behind a reverse slope, somewhere deep in the Fulda gap, where the US player might even forget he has them…

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Game 14 - Waterloo / Wavre 1815

A return to the 'Snappy Nappy' rules over the Christmas period. We had looked at the massive Quatre Bras and Ligny battles on a single table last time. With a further ambitious 'mega' game in the offing, it has done more to re-emphasise the excellent mechanics of these rules in that (1) players are forced to use Napoleonic tactics by virtue of the mechanisms and (2) lose substantial amounts of troops when they do not.

And yes, we fully appreciate that we probably should have put this off for a year and a half in order to cash in on the anniversary. Let's call this a test run, shall we?

Simply put, by managing leaders, forcing infantry to form square by threatening with cavalry, then firing with artillery, and holding the centre/flank while the other flank is threatened, one can win the battle. If only the confounded enemy would allow you to do this, things would be so much easier!

Again, the orders system does cause things to drag a little, though I suspect that this was because there were too few players. It does make sense nevertheless. 

Snappy Nappy is uniquely designed for multiple players as corps commanders. This would have sped up the slight minutiae that we encountered in terms of resource management, though with a set of rules with this epic scope, that is to be expected to a degree.

Other facets of the game such as the relative quality aspects of troops, the inspired use of d10 rolls to simulate potential breakdown in order or the shaking off of fire in turn, allow for some planning, yet with the constant threat of everything falling apart very quickly - just as it should be.

Ans so to battle...
(There are a lot of pics here, so I'll try to keep the commentary punchy...if that's possible...)

The battlefield, looking from Wavre toward Mont St.Jean, with masses of Prussians in the middle.

 The view from Mont St.Jean toward the French lines.

Three Prussian corps sit ready. We used a telescoping time rule, so that Prussian corps could not choose to move too early, relying instead on their historical times of departure.

The French lines in front of Placenoit, with the Garde Imperiale behind them. Their role in the coming battle would once again prove pivotal.

Initial French moves at the Allied centre and right flank. The push on the centre is the main concern. The flank will hold...I think. Allied cavalry however, moves to the left flank, as cavalry has been spotted moving into dangerous positions.

Never mind the left flank - significant French movement on the right flank - that Kellerman fellow, with heavy cavalry.

The Allied right comes under significant fire from heavy artillery.

The centre now under concerted French attack.

 The Allied left also being probed by cavalry.

Wavre remains a logjam of French columnar attacks across the bridges, so far blunted by (very) stubborn Prussians.

Prussian corps however, are beginning to move toward the larger and more dangerous French force lies. Will they be in time to stop the French taking the road to Brussels?

'It is the Prussians my Emperor!'

 The Allies secure and hold the centre despite repeated French attacks.

 British cavalry charge into the valley to remove stubborn French artillery, which is now isolated.

The Allied right seems far.

...although French cavalry is approaching fast.
  The Imperial Guard moves steadily west, toward Placenoit and the advancing Prussians.

While at Wavre, things remain tense, though at a stalemate. Where is Grouchy? Why, he's stuck here my Emperor.

Finally, after repeated assault, Dutch Belgian and British troops are pushed back - with only Nassau infantry preventing the Allied flank from crumbling...

A massed cavalry battle proceeds on the Allied left, with elite Allied infantry stuck on the ridgeline, unable to move for fear of opening a gap that the French might yet exploit.

 As the Imperial Guard successfully hold the Prussians in check at Placenoit at 7pm...

...the Allied right flank breaks, with only massed artillery left to stop the French cavalry breakthrough.

 Allied squares form hurriedly in response to the French flanking move.

Have we mentioned the stalemate at Wavre? So near, yet so far.

 On the Allied left, an insane cavalry charge led by Ney(!) results in him being carried from the field as lancer regiments are charged from the rear by Dutch Belgians.

But the Allied left is about to be reinforced by advancing Prussian elements (at long last).

The Allied right flank falls, but there is no French infantry left with which to exploit the breakthrough. By 9pm, Mont St.Jean, and the road to Brussels remains covered by British, Dutch Belgian, and Nassau troops in square, with little French artillery and no infantry to toast the comparative success.

 As night falls across the battlefield...

 ...Grouchy had finally broken free of Wavre,

 ...the Imperial Guard is starting to waver,

...the Allies hold the road to Brussels, however tenuously,

...and the Prussians are flooding toward Mont St.Jean.

In the end, the French made great gains at Waterloo, but failed to exploit them due to lack of infantry, although for a time, Wellington was under significant pressure. The Imperial Guard seemed invincible in the afternoon (even threatening to send troops toward the Allied lines) yet began to waver - though at a heavy cost to the Prussian troops at Placenoit.

Had Grouchy escaped Wavre earlier in the day and hit the Prussian rear, we would have argued a tactical draw. As it was, it became an Allied victory in the closing stages of the battle. What a great game.

More Snappy Nappy to follow. The game is however more suited to multiple players for larger battles, not because of rules complexities, but simply because of resource management. This is a real benefit as each player begins to feel like a corps commander AND can get a game finished within a few hours. More of this to follow - and indeed, perhaps some 'hacking' of the mechanisms for other periods.