It was a good weekend all around, despite signs of winter settling in on SW Ontario. I celebrated a birthday on Friday, and Madame Padre and I treated ourselves to a day in Niagara on the Lake, which is a town that people usually visit in the summer to attend plays at the Shaw Festival, visit the innumerable wineries in that region, and enjoy tourist pleasures. On a cold November day we had the scenic old town mostly to ourselves, and enjoyed a pub lunch. We visited Beau Chapeau, where Madame Padre treated me to a very stylish fedora to wear with my newly repaired British Warm, a coat that my father had tailored when he was first commissioned as an army subaltern many years ago, and which I am very happy to wear in his memory. It’s as heavy as a load of bricks, but its warm and stylish in a retro, film noir kind of way I am now set for a cold winter’s day and/or pulp gaming.
A little progress at the modelling bench. Some of you had some helpful suggestions for basing my newly made trees into a more effective ensemble, so that gave me some ideas. Still very much a work in progress, but here’s a sabot-style base with the holes cut into it for the trees.
And they seem to fit. Now for some landscaping - ground texture, some rocks and perhaps a fallen tree trunk or two, and some bushes, but not enough to obstruct if I want to put some figures into the woods.
And some gaming on Saturday night. My mate James brought his late war 15mm Canadians over and we devised a scenario pitting his Sherman Squadron of Doom against some 12th SS panzer grenadiers, using Too Fat LArdie’s I Aint’ Been Shot Mum company level rules. I was very pleased that my friend Rod could attend. He was my boss when I was posted to CFB Suffield and he was the Base Commander there. After a distinguished career as a combat engineer, Rod left the military and now manages the maintenance department for the city of Guelph. When we were in Suffield he was too busy to attend a wargaming night, but was always intrigued when his junior officers would report on their experiences at the Padre’s Land Warfare Simulation Centre, so this was his chance to experience tabletop wargaming for the first time.
Here’s a little slice of Normandy. We weren’t trying to reproduce a particular action, just something generic (I plead being too lazy, mean busy, to research a specific action). Germans (me) have two platoons of grenadiers, a aug of three MkIV panzers, two 7.5cm Pak 40s , and a FOO with an off board battery of 81cm mortars which never showed up. Jerry could set up anywhere on the table. I chose to put most of my stuff on the right hand to the railway tracks. Canadians deployed on the left table edge. Here Rod surveys the terrain and wonders what he got himself into.
A good start for me. I put a tank killer team into the woods on the right hand side of the road below, and they took out the lead Sherman before trying to fall back on their supports. Unfortunately they weren’t fast enough and got bagged when the Canadian infantry caught them looking sheepish with a smoking Panzerschreck. “We give up. Tommy. What, this? How did this get here?"
I now committed a totally bone headed move and brought my PzIV aug out of cover, thinking they could support the lone AT gun I had currently engaged. My other mistake was not to site both PAKs so they could mutually cover a kill zone with the Panzers and all fire together with a better chance of overwhelming the lead enemy tanks. This was a disastrous mistake, as my Panzers all missed and were promptly chewed up by the enemy, including the dreaded Firefly 17pounders. Rod and James confessed later they were quite surprised (they were too polite to say delighted) by this move.
With my Panzers committed in the centre and pounded into scrap, and one of my PAKs smothered by an enemy barrage, I had little to stop the enemy tanks from hooking around my right flank. The grenadiers seen behind the hedge managed to stop one with a lucky Panzerfaust, but there was little else I could do.
Not as many pictures taken as I would like, but here’s a view of the Canadian juggernaut grinding forward in the centre. The little cluster of dice at the bottom right of the picture mark the spot where my one PAK is getting pounded by tank HE fire and off board artillery. It only claimed one victim. My dead panzers are a little further up the road shown at the bottom of the frame. The other PAK, very poorly sited, finally got off one shot and missed, then hooked onto its truck and skeddadled.
What can I say? I look good in a fedora, and I can put a nice looking table together, but my tactical skills are pretty miserable. I reset the table tonight, with a more intelligent German deployment, and it was much harder going for the Allies, so hopefully some lessons learned for me. It was pleasant to see Rod having a good time. During our debrief, be remarked that this war-game felt much more real than the kind that he played when he was in staff college. Those wargames tended to be all IGO/UGP affairs, with all the assets one could want (attack helicopters, fast air, artillery) on call and ready to deliver. Rod thought this felt more realistic, with a few scared leaders and men hiding in woods and a few others doing most of the hard work. I suppose the staff college games are designed to give students all of the tools in the box to play with so they have a better grasp of doctrine, but it was certainly a vindication for the Too Fat Lardies philosophy that a good game is one where players have to manage the friction of the battlefield.
If you like, you can read James’ highly self-serving and annoying account of the game here. He doesn’t mention what terrible luck I had getting the cards I needed. Even so, win or lose, a night of gaming and laughter with good friends is what the hobby is all about, and hopefully I’ll learn something for the next time. And there will be a next time.
Blessings to your die rolls!