Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ACW Splitrail Fences In Progress

I spent a few hours the afternoon of Christmas Day in between company, watching the Dr. Who marathon on the Space Channel and trying, in vain, to figure out exactly who River Song is (yes I know she is Amy Pond's daughter, but not exactly sure how). Oh well. It gave me a few hours to put some more fence rail sections together for my American Civil War 28mm collection.

My idea for these was to make modular sections on large, flocked bases that enhance the look of the table. I had made four sections two years ago, and always wished I'd bitten the bullet and made more at the time, since in a large ACW game you can never have too many split rail fences. You can see these earlier sections on the left of the photo below.

The fence sections are made of cedar shims bought in packs from Home Depot, split up with an axe (very authentic, I think) then trimmed with a hobby knife and glued together on the base. The bases, as mentioned above, are sections of MDF board, covered with wood putty mixed while wet with different types of model railway ballast for texture, then painted and drybrushed, my standard recipe for bases. Once the fences are painted, I'll flock the bases and add some accent pieces such as rocks, strands of taller grass, etc.

When I get these new sections finished I'll post some shots of them next to some figures. The fence sections are probably too thick and long for real life, but I like the substantial look of them. It's always nice to have these nice big fences between you and that enemy firing line, if only for pyschological benefit!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Great War Padre Figure

Last year I was reading Sidney Roundwood's stonkingly good blog, which is mostly dedicated to First World War gaming in 28mm, and came across his AAR of a battle which had a role for a British army chaplain, a fictional fellow called "Capstan Charlie" based on the famous padre of that war known affectionatey by his troops as "Woodbine Willie". For Capstan Charlie, Sid used a Great War Miniatures figure which comes in a set of personality figures including a Tommy kicking a football into the attack, a motorcycle dispatch rider, a sniper, etc. I bought this pack and could feel it's gentle tug at my sleeve to start a Great War skirmish collection. Thus far I have resisted the tug. However, I did paint the padre figure, since I collect chaplain miniatures, of which there are damned few.

Here's the finished product. I've based him as a display piece, using a surplus Games Workshop round plastic base, and he will adorn my desk at work in the new year. The painting isn't as good as Sid's but I'm happy with the way the face has turned out. It was the first time I've painted a figure wearing glasses.

The two pictures above were taken using Mrs. Padre's expensive SLR camera, and I haven't really figured out the macro settings to my satisfaction, so this next picture is taken using an HD app I bought for my iphone camera. I need to see them side by side online to decide which one I like better.

Sid tells me there is a Great War padre produced by Woodbine Miniatures / Gripping Beast, so that may be a present to myself in the future.

Thanks for looking. Blessings to your paintbrushes. MP+

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Bluffsburg Campaign: Kriegsspiel Started

Today marks the start of the kreigspiel described in earlier posts here, and set in a fictional county in NW Mississippi in 1862. I have to be careful what I report here, because I don't wish to compromise the fog of war and time lags that the players are labouring under. As brigade and divisional commanders, operating miles from their subordinates and from the enemy, without radios, knowledge of movements and results of actions will take a while to percolate, and I don't want to spoil that experience for them.

What I can say is this:

The first game day is Wednesday, 25 June, 1862. The sun rose into a clear sky at 5:47am and the temperature close to noon is nearing 90F. There does not appear to be any sign of rain in the offing. It may be a hard day for marching troops.

Confederate sympathizers report Union troops leaving the town of Jefferson City with throaty cries of "On to Bluffsburg!", but their number and their immediate destination is unclear. General Moore, reviled by some as "The Shilo Shirker", appears determined to redeem his reputation.

Meanwhile, the Bluffsburg Mercury printed on its front page this stirring message from General Hatcher, the overall CSA commander:

"we need every spare hand that can assist us with the defense of our great state. This is not just the fight of the military but of every citizen. We must defend every acre from the depredations of the vandals that wish to sack our homes. Every eye must watch, every ear must listen and together we shall overcome the multitudes that are arrayed against us."

More as I can report it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Skirmish At Plasterville Mills: A Terrible Sharp Sword Test Drive

For the last few days my gaming table has represented a quiet and idyllic part of Virginia known as Plasterville Mills. The name Plasterville comes from the this sweet little HO model railroad kit, a hydrocal old stone mill from C.C. Crow that I bought years ago somewhere. A while back I found the nerve to put it together, which was a bit nerve wracking as the wall and roof sections were cast from single pieces of hydrocal, exquisitely detailed but rather delicate. A further fiddly step was cutting balsa pieces for the upper story just under the roof peak. A unique and lovely model just begging to be used as American Civil War scenery.

After laying out a rural American table with the appropriate mill stream , I wanted to try out the Too Fat Lardies ACW skirmish rules, Terrible Sharp Sword. I'd never played it before but was encouraged by all the AARs posted in the Lardy blogosphere. To create an element of surprise, borrowing on the Platoon Forward system, I gave each side four blinds, with one a dummy to be diced for randomly as they were spotted. Also, for each side I have given the three groups under blinds a variable number of men depending on a 2d6 role as the blinds came off and the troops went on the table. The Federals were rated as Average troops with Polished Drill and Poor Shots. The Confederates were Average troops and Average shots. Also, both sides have a Level 1 and Level 2 Big Man, whose locations are to be determined randomly.

The premise of the battle was that Plasterville Mill was stuffed full of tasty vittles which the rebel quartermaster wanted badly. A Union patrol had come across the rebs at the mill and was determined to drive them off. The game would end after the Blank Card came up ten times, and at the time whoever controlled the mill would be the winner.

Here is the table with the initial placement of Union and Confederate blinds. A fourth rebel blind was out of view to the left of the frame below, but it was quickly revealed as the rebel dummy blind. The Union plan was to drive up the road and take the hill in the centre, while on the far side of Plasterville Creek the fourth blind would try to get up to the stone bridge and come in from behind the defenders of the mill.

The first spotting rolls are successful. Eight rebs with a Level 2 Big Man, Lt. McComber, are located in the barnyard watching the road. Coming up the road toward them are 11 Yanks under their Lvl 2 BM, Lt. Sam Skeffington.

Lt. Skeffington, a contemplative sort, regards the rebs in the barnyard. "They look fixin' to be stayin', reckon we'll have to drive 'em off", he drawls. He is a Redoubt figure, painted as an artillery officer. Reckon I need to paint up some more single based leader figures if I want to play more TSS. Beside him are some ancient Minifigs, and his sergeant is a RAFM figure.

"Give 'em thunder, boys!" Lt. McComber has had his troops shift left to take advantage of that nice stone wall, and now they fire their first volley at the right oblique. Two Yanks drop, and the shock begins to add up on Skeffington's group. That barn is a Hovels miniature, which I am quite pleased with.

The second Yankee group emerged from the tree cover on the hill facing the Mill, and never got farther. They were too far away from Lt. Skeffington's range of influence to move, and could only trade fire with the defenders of the mill on the Sasparilla Card. Those are more Minifigs on the hill, by the way.

Unfortunately for the Yanks on the hill, they were facing twelve determined rebs under Sgt. Branston (Lvl 1 BM), also hiding behind a stone wall. This cover advantage halved the fire of the Union troops, and in the unequal duel that followed, the Yank casualties began to add up.

On the Union right, the outflanking plan was going slowly. The fourth Union blind, which turned out to be Sgt. Bill Haney (Lvl 1 BM) and 12 men, had missed several chances to move and time was running out. Finally the Feds got lucky and the fourth blind pushed into the field of .... hemp? doormat? As they emerged, they were automatically spotted by the last Reb blind, nine men who immediately opened fire. Their muskets dropped two of Haney's 12 men, but he pressed on.

As the Union's time for victory ebbed away, Lt. Skeffington urged his troops on the road to push on and clear the courtyard, hoping that Haney would come through on the other side of the stream. The odds were against him. A Random Event meant that his men were moving slowly in the infernal heat, their canteens empty. Worse, they were now down to 8 men and the shock was piling up. The Yanks stumbled forward after Skeffington, but not fast enough. Sgt. Branston, seeing that the bluebellies on the hill were no threat, shifted he men right to bring fire on the Yanks stumbling forward. Had the game continued, it's doubtful that Skeffington's men would have stood.

It all came down to Sgt. Haney. He led his men forward in a charge, but rolled an abysmal "3" on 2d6 and came up short. The rebs fired, but their musketry missed! Haney was set to move again, but never got the chance. Time was out, the final Sasparilla card came up, and both sides fired a final volley at the other.

The rebs firmly held Plasterville, and had lost only one man to the Union eight. Johnny Reb would eat well tonight.

In retrospect a great game and very clean and fairly simply rules. I need to read the Bonus Card section more carefully (no Bonus cards were used in this game). Also, I failed to realize until late in the game that Polished troops could skirmish, which may have given the Yanks an advantage. I need to try these rules again shortly, which, seeing as they'll be some small unit actions in the Bluffsburg campaign, will be soon I am sure.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Bluffsburg Campaign: Some Basic Rules

I am glad to report that the ACW campaign mooted here this last month is almost ready to launch. A small band of folks have volunteered to play Generals Hatcher, Moore, and their subordinates at the brigade level.

Here are some basic rules for the ACW campaign. This is a first draft. It is sure to be revised based on questions, feedback, glaring ommissions and inconsistencies, etc.

1) Turn Sequence

a) There are three turns to a day of game time. The first two turns represent the morning and afternoon of each day, and the third being nighttime. Typically movement and combat occur during day turns, with night turns being for rest and recuperation.

2) Movement and Actions

a) The smallest unit of maneuvre on the game map is the brigade. Units must be in the presence of their brigade commander or attached to a brigade commander to move from point to point on the game map.

b) A component of a brigade, such as a regiment or a battery, may be detached and left as garrison on a map point. However, it cannot move again until it is in the presence of its brigade commander or divisional commander.

c) All land movement on the game map is from point to point. It costs a turn (day or night) to move from point to point. Land movement is not allowed during night turns except between points that are controlled by a player. However, units that move by night must rest for the two day and one night turns of the following day, and are penalized if in combat the following day.

d) A brigade may choose one action for each turn from the following list:

Move from point to point (day or night turns - see 1c).

Remain stationary while scouting one adjacent point (day turns only)

Remain stationary while making light entrenchments (day turns only)

Remain stationary while upgrading light to medium entrenchments if an engineer company is attached (day turns only)

Remain stationary while upgrading medium to heavy entrenchments if an engineer company is attached (day turns only)

Embark onto or disembark from river transport

Destroy transport infrastructure (railroad, bridge, ferry)

Begin construction of a pontoon bridge on a minor river (Sunflower or Little Black) if in the presence of an engineer company (day turns only)

Complete construction of a pontoon bridge on a minor river (Sunflower or Little Black) if in the presence of an engineer company (day turns only)

Engage in combat (day turns only)

Recover from combat (day turn only)

Forage on the countryside (day turn only)

3) Combat

a) Combat occurs when a brigade encounters enemy forces. Depending on the scale of the battle, it will be fought on the referee's table using one of two sets of rules: They Couldn't Hit An Elephant for brigade level actions or Terrible Sharp Sword for small actions such as scouting. Players in combat will receive a referee's brief as to initial dispositions, terrain, etc and will have the opportunity to issue orders as the action proceeds.

b) The winning side will either gain possession of the point it is moving to, or regain possession of the point it is defending. If two opposing forces are advancing on one another from adjacent points, the result will either be a draw or one side will have to retreat from its starting point.

4) Command, Control and Fog of War

a) This game depends on the concepts of the fog of war and friction. To encourage that end, players will not be identified to one another, even if they are on the same "team". While it is possible that players may identify one another offline, they are encouraged to remain within the spirit of the game.

b) The divisional commander is responsible to issue orders to each of his brigadiers. All orders must be relayed through the referee to be deemed valid. If the divisional commander is at a different location than his brigadier, fresh orders may only be issued by courier and their delivery has a time delay depending on the distance the courier must travel. Couriers can travel by land two points per day turn and one turn per night. There is always a possibility, however remote, that couriers can be intercepted by the enemy.

c) Brigadiers may wish to issue sitreps to the divisional commander as to their location, dispositions, troops in contact, etc. The procedure for doing this is also by courier, as outlined in 4b.

d) Players will not know if adjacent points are occupied by enemy forces unless they scout those locations (see 2d). A scouting attempt may or may not generate useful information as to the identity and size of enemy forces in a given point. It is assumed that all forces will throw out pickets if stationary, or employ scouts and flankers if on the march. However, each battle poses the chance of one force or another achieving a degree of tactical surprise depending on its commander, the state of its troops, the activity it is engaged in, and other factors determined by the umpire.

5) River Movement

a) Only the Mississippi River is passable by river units under the command of the divisional commander.

b) The Mississippi River cannot be crossed by land units without river transport. A transport can carry one infantry or cavalry unit or one battery or one supply train. Land units can cross the two minor rivers by existing infrastructure or by constructed pontoon bridges.

c) Naval movement, including the movement of transported land units up and down the river, is conducted by the referee and will take a variable number of turns depending on distance, river conditions.

d) Naval combat will be conducted by the referee and the results reported to the players.

6) Sieges

a) Only the towns of Jefferson City and Bluffsburg can be besieged. More to follow on that.

7) Supply

a) Union brigades are considered in supply if a accompanied by a supply train. If unaccompanied by a supply train, each regiment or battery must test against the forage value of a point (the number shown on the map) to be considered in supply. The higher the value, the more likelihood of foraging.

b) Confederate units are always considered to be in supply on friendly territory, unless besieged.

8) Game Length
The game lasts for twenty game days. A Union strategic victory occurs when Bluffsburg falls. Confederate strategic victory occurs if Jefferson City falls. If both towns remain in original control, victory is determined by the referee based on casualties, control of minor towns, ability of a side to be in character and respect fog of war rules, and other whimsical criteria.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Unit Finished: Confederate Cannoneers

Here are some new defenders of the Confederacy. They will immediately be sent to join the defence of Bluffsburg in my planned ACW campaign. This 28mm unit of two 12 pound Napoleons and crew are figures from Sash and Sabre.

These are the first S&S figures I've bought and painted. All in all, I like them. They have some character, some nice expressions and some lovely facial hair.

I like the fellow with the trailspike, mopping his brow with his handkerchief.

Tried to get some more detail in the faces, including eyes, but my camera was not up to the challenge. Ironically, we have a better camera that frustrates me every time I try to take macro photography with it, so these photos will have to suffice for now.

A Shout Out for Grog News

I came across the website Grog News in my travels of late, and recommend it big time. Lots of good wargaming and consim theory, as well as discussion of contemporary military and security issues. It doesn't appear to be too heavily travelled, but it's a labour of love and deserves more traffic.

The Bluffsburg Campaign: Generals' Biographies

Further to my planned American Civil War campaign, here are the biographies of the Union and Confederate commanders.

It is late June, 1862.

General Silas B. Moore, commanding the Third Division, Army of the Tennessee

You are Silas Moore, an Illinois native and a professional soldier. You graduated
20th out of 80 at West Point in the late 1840s, an engineer by training. You served in the Mexican War on the staff of fellow engineer Robert E. Lee, but after the war your army career stalled and you resigned to survey railroads in the midwest. In 1861 you rejoined the army and commanded a division under Buell during the Shilo campaign. Unfortunately for you, a misunderstanding over transport prevented your division from arriving at Pittsburg Landing until after the battle. General Buell attempted to reprimand you for lack of courage and incompetence, and you appealed the matter with General Halleck. While a reprimand was averted, you feel that you are now under a cloud of suspicion.

As Union forces begin to move on the Confederate base at Corinth, you have been given a sideshow assignment, but also the chance to redeem yourself. Your division is to move on the county seat of Bluffsburg, which holds the key to the lower Mississippi River. You have been promised some support from Commander Porter's riverine fleet. Capturing Bluffsburg will outflank the Confederates in Corinth and allow further progress down the Mississippi. As you leave his office, Halleck warns you that if you fail in this endeavour, you will find yourself surveying northern California for the rest of the war.

Major General Theophilus C. Hatcher, commanding Hatcher's Division, Army of the Tennessee

You are Theophilus Hatcher, Mississippi native, the eldest son of a prominent cotton planter, and an amateur but experienced soldier. During the Mexican war you served with distinction as a captain of foot in Jefferson Davis' regiment of Missippi volunteers. After Mexico you continued to soldier as a colonel of state militia, and were active in Mississippi's succession movement. You commanded a brigade at Shilo, and led your troops throughout both days of fighting despite an arm wound from which you are still recovering. Despite constant pain and discomfort, you have refused to take convalescent leave, judging the threat to your native state to be too great.

After Shilo you were chosen by General Beauregard to protect NW Mississippi while he regroups the army at Corinth. You are expected to keep the region free of Yankee incursions, protect the vital port town of Bluffsburg, and, if practical, to recapture Jefferson City before it can become a base of operations for the Union. The more enemy forces you can tie up the better, as this will divert forces from the Oxford/Corinth region until the Confederacy can recover from Shilo. You are to maintain contact with Maj. Gen. McGraw's division in Oxford, east of the Mississippi, and you have been given a letter that allows you to request the assistance of Maj. Gen. Thaddeus Holmes, commander of the garrison at Bluffsburg and of naval forces on this section of the river. Your orders regret that Maj. Gen. Holmes' command is actually part of the Vicksburg military district and so not obliged to cooperate with you. However, it is expected that reason and the common cause of the Confederacy will allow you both to cooperate.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

ACW Campaign: The Bluffsburg Map

I've made some progress on my American Civil War campaign idea. Thanks to fellow Lardie Thomas Nisvik for putting me on to a program called Mapping Board, which allowed me to generate this electronic version of a map I sketched some years back and almost forgot about. Mapping Board is fairly easy to use, especially if you have some exposure to CAD software and understand the concept of layers. The map below is somewhat larger and more legible if you click on it.

To recap, this is a fictitious section of the Mississippi River in the northern part of the state of Mississippi. Movement on the map will be point to point, with the points being the dots in red representing towns. Red indicates a town begins the game in Confederate control, while the only blue town, Jefferson City, is the Union base of operations for the campaign.

Each town has a number in parentheses after its name. My current thinking is that number will represent both the town's victory point value and the supply value of the town. The supply value represents the number of regiments that a town can support. Regiments in excess of that value will need to be supplied from each side's resources (haven't quite figured out that point yet).

There is some transport infrastructure available, including the Southern and Central Railroad which was intended to connect Jefferson City and Bluffsburg but which ran out of funding at Eudora, bridges at Batesville and Eudora, and several ferries. These assets can be destroyed by the Confederate player if he wants to dedicate units and time to the task.

Union forces, both land and naval, will begin at Jefferson City, and have the objective of capturing Bluffsburg. Confederate forces can begin anywhere on the map other than Jefferson City. Union forces will have a limited transport capability by river but may find that there are confederate defences along the river that may impede river movement. There will also be some capacity for railway movement.

Since neither side will know the other's OOB, and will only know enemy dispositions after contact or through scouting (I expect cavalry will prove an invaluable asset in this game), it should be an interesting and tense game.

Next on the to do list: Write some rules for supply, river and rail movement, and post the biographies of the Confederate and Union commanders. And paint, of course.

All feedback is welcome and kindly encouraged.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cheeseheads! Introducing the 2nd Wisconsin

My painting work has been focusing on the American Civil War of late, and here's the Second Wisconsin, to swell the ranks of the Iron Brigade as represented already in my collection by the 9th Wisc. I love the formal look of these guys, which are a mix of 28m Foundry, Old Glory, and a few Redoubt thrown in, collected over the years. Flags are by GMB.

Foundry command group:

One of my favourite figures, Old Glory's screaming bald sergeant: "Don't come any closer or I'll hit you with this hat!"

Both Wisconsin regiments advance together, the 9th leading the 2nd.

I hope to get them into action soon. Many thanks for looking.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Still Thinking About An ACW Campaign

Since a few folks have emailed me about how this campgaign might work, H
here are my thoughts, such as they are.

1) I will use a more developed version of the map posted here

1) Movement will be point to point. I will give players some guidelines for their orders, such as "Bde A will move in column of march from Xtown to Ytown" or "B Regt will send a company to scout Ztown for enemy forces".

2) Players will only know their order of battle and will only know the players on their team. Knowledge of enemy forces will develop through reconnaissance, troops in contact, etc.

3) Players will submit their orders to me and I will update the master map.

4) Battles will be fought out using TFL rules, either TCHAE for large actions or TSS for smaller actions such as patrols. For naval actions, I will use a set a boardgame called Shot and Shell. Players will have some opportunity to see the tabletop develop and issue orders, but I will layout and fight the actions on my tabletop.

5) I may write some very rudimentary rules for supply and command and control. Still thinking about that.

This is as far as my thinking has advanced and I am probably a month away from starting this.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Work in Progress: Dirty Gunners and Pretty Federals

As my last post mentions, all my painting of late is American Civil War. The following pictures show some of what's currently on the workbench, taken with my iphone.

Here are two pictures of Confederate artillerists from Sash and Sabre. I've always been curious about this supplier, which has an extensive ACW range, and decided to check them out. Their pack of ten gunners is nicely molded with some very distinctive faces and lots of cool facial hair. They are however dimunutive, on par with the ACW line of Foundry. They don't mix well with larger figures such as Redout and Renegade. My friend Matt the armoured officer looked at them and said "Dirty, dirty gunners", and the phrase kind of stuck in my head.

I also bought two Napoleon 12pd guns from Sash and Sabre and they are nice castings. A final word about S&S' customer service. They took a long time to ship my order and when it finally arrived they got it wrong, but they did work hard to fix it and let me keep the pack mistakenly shipped to me, which was impressive. I would probably order from them again, though preferably from a distributor.

I am also just finishing four bases of Federal infantry, which will become the second regiment in my Iron Brigade. I've had these guys for a while and they are a real mix.

The guys on the right are Old Glory from their Iron Brigade pack, and on the left are the Foundry infantry in Hardee hats.

The command team on the right here are Foundry, and on the left, the two in the foreground are from Redoubt - clunky figures but I like them. They should all look ok on the table.

I started collecting the Iron Brigade because they have a cool, early war look about them, before everyone got sensible and scruffy, and because I am generally good about avoiding elite units and am giving myself a bit of a reward. They will be a bit eastern and out of place on the Bluffsburg campaign, though.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thinking About An ACW Campaign - The Battle for Bluffsburg

Years ago, when my wife still had family in her native state of Mississippi, I spent a few days one visit retracing the Vicksburg Campaign, which is a fascinating blend of naval and army combined operations, overland campaigning and siege warfare. I started doodling a small point-to-point sketch map of a fictional part of the state, centering on the imaginary town of Bluffsburg. Some of the place names on the map are actual Mississippi place names, chosen because I liked the sound of them.

I then scribbled down an order of battle, based on what my 28mm ACW miniatures collection might be able to field if I painted like hell and made some more purchases, particularly cavalry and artillery. The idea was that this would be a backwater campaign, with the Union having a reinforced Division plus several river gunboats and transports, while the Confederates would have a smaller, scratched together division with a few dubious gunboats and some shore batteries. I won't list the OOBs here because I may talk some folks into participating in an online version of this campaign.

My plan now is to paint some more stuff, polish up the map using MS Paint or maybe an online program called Hexographer, and get up to speed on some rules. For larger table actions (probably a brigade a side) I will likely use Too Fat Lardies' They Couldn't Hit An Elephant (TCHAE), and for smaller actions, Terrible Sharp Sword (TSS) by the same publisher. TSS holds promise because I expect the game to have lots of opportunities for scouting and recce actions as the two sides maneouvre on the map and develop each other's positions. Hopefully more posts on this to come. If you're interested in participating online, email me at madpadre@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Audet's Church: The Aftermath

In his second Platoon Forward action, Audet succeeded at his task, capturing the terrain objective given to him, as well as two prisoners, and driving off several German units. A decisive victory.

Using the PF mechanism for Post Game events, we start with a Freeform Event, which is whatever the player wants to happen. Audet, being a brave but self-centred glory hound, wants to impress his Company Commander, Major Charpentier, and have him pass that word up to Battalion. Considering he won the last game and was impressive in it, leading the final assault on the church, that gives him a -2 modifier on a Likely result on the All Knowing Odds Table. A d10 is rolled, with an modified "0" result. Maj. Charpentier will be mentioning 18 Platoon's good work the next time he sees the Colonel.

The next step is the Fixed Events table, and an unmodified roll of 8 on 1d10 gives a result of "8", a Non-Player Character Result. A further roll on the Non Player Character Effect table gives an umodified "5" on 1d10, which means an NPC asks to Tag Along on the next mission. Who would that be? Since Audet did capture a church, perhaps he learned something from the Cure there that might be of interest to the Chauds' Padre? Or perhaps the Intelligence Officer or Major Charpentier wants to gain some further knowledge about the local area? Hmmm, I'll have to think about that.

Looking ahead to the next mission, Audet does not have any replacements yet so here is his lineup.

Next mission:

Germans attacking
Ambush scenario

Friday, October 7, 2011

German Weapon Memes

This and a bunch of other photos made me smile today.

IABSM Third Edition En Route!

I'm very happy to say I've ordered the long-awaited and much celebrated (in small but elite circles) new edition of Richard Clarke's new wargame rules, I Ain't Been Shot Mum! IABSM rules "are written to provide the gamer with ease of use and accuracy at Company level. The basic unit in this game is the eight or ten figure section, with the lowest command being the Platoon or Troop. The rules are written with a focus on command and control and the importance of leadership on the world war two battlefield."

An earlier edition of IABSM was the first set of TFL rules I bought, and their focus on leadership, friction, and distinctively and lightheartedly English "toolbox" (rather than North American legalist) approach endeared them to me. Much excited watching of the mailbox in the week to come, and further comments here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Waterloo in Plastic: A Brief Battle Report

Earlier this summer I met an interesting guy called Charlie Miller, a retired gunner and Mountie with some interesting hobbies, including reenacting a NW Rebellion (ca 1885) Canadian artillery troop, which he talked me (it wasn't a hard sell) into joining.

Last Friday night I was over at Charlie's place for a wargame before he and his wife took off to spend the winter in Mexico (who can blame them?). Charlie has been collecting wargames figures and models for years, including 1/76th or HO scale Napoleonics, mostly Airfix with some rather ancient metal figures thrown in. Such a collection may not sound that enticing to wargamers used to playing with larger and better sculpted figures, but on the table, it works.

Charlie's idea for the game was to do the center and British left of Waterloo. Here are some pictures taken with my iphone.

The hexmap is something that Charlie had printed, and gave the game the air and feel of an old Avalon Hill or SPI Quad game. It certainly eliniated the need for tape measures.

Close uo of French infantry and artillery.

The rules we used were Charlie's own homebrew set, and very much a work in progress, but they were simple and made for a quick and interesting game. The most notable feature of the rules was a simultaneous movement system, with both players starting on the same side of the table and working across it. You might think that this approach would be problematic, given the temptation to watch what the other guy was doing and then readjust, but we both seemed able to resist that temptation and it flowed nicely.

In retrospect I started with my infantry too far foward, beyond the range of my supporting guns on the hills behind. On my left I moved my forces back and was mostly ably to withstand the French cavalry. On my right we had a glorious donnybrook with French and English Guards regiments pouring volleys into one another and some swirling cavalry charges. Here's the final view on the right.

We had to call it at 10pm and declared it a draw. Hopefully once Charlie gets back from Mexico in the spring we can spend a day at it. A very enjoyable night of old school wargaming.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Audet's Church: A D-Day Plus 3 Platoon Forward Skirmish

This post is an attempt to remember a solitaire game I played several months back was a busy summer, using the characters generated with the help of Platoon Forward as described in previous posts. The scenario I rolled up with PF was Scenario Card F, a Platoon Attack, and the randomly generated objective as a Key Building. Of course, in a Mad Padre wargame, the key building has to be a church. In keeping with Lt. Audet's abrasive and glory-seeking nature, there would be no way that he would pass up another chance to gain attention. A further assumption of mine was that in the first few days after D-Day, given the historical role of the Chaudieres as rear security, any German opposition would likely be scattered and disorganized. You may feel from this AAR that Audet got off lightly. Perhaps. One gets attracted to the imaginary troops that PF gives you. No doubt in future, Audet's challenges will increase.

07:45, 8 June, 1944 Normandy - within the lines of La Regiment de la Chaudiere,

"Things are going well for us. The Division is ashore, we've linked up with the British, and we're taking ground. Just as importantly", Major Charpentier paused to look around at his platoon commanders, "D Company succeeded in our first tasking yesterday. We took some casualties, but the CO is pleased that we pushed out and straightened our sector. Well done all."

Lt. Denis Audet was hoping to hear the Major praise 18 Platoon for their role in the company attack yesterday, but was disappointed as the OC continued. "Today is maintenance and routine patrolling, but we do have one special job. Our recce platoon heard some motors and noted some vehicle activity here, at Eglise St. Michel. They also report that the church is suitable for an OP that could overlook our battalion lines. I need a platoon to have a look at it and if possible take the church. You were all in action yesterday so I'm asking for volun ..."

Charpentier stopped as a hand shot up. Audet saw Capt. Cournoyer roll his eyes but he didn't care. "My boys can do it, sir."

"Good. Go get the recce brief from Lt. Aubin and report back in an hour with your plan and your support requirements."

Here's the table I rolled up using Platoon Forward's terrain generator.
Canadian side, left to right: Forest, Building, Hill
Center, left to right: Forest, Significant Building, Open
German side, left to right: Open, Open, Swamp

Since it was Normandy I interpreted the open areas to be hedged, and since there is a significant building in the centre, that seemed to require roads and perhaps suggest a road junction. Here's the result.

18 Platoon was sitting near the foxholes they had slept in the night before, eating a breakfast of compo rations: tinned fruit, biscuits, and coffee. Adjutant (French for Warrant Officer) Beaulieu was telling the new corporal, Legros, about his adventures with Legros' pere in a barfight in the last war when Lt. Audet came strolling over with a worrisome purpose. "Have the platoon ready to move in thirty minutes, Adjutant. Light fighting order. We have a patrol."

Beaulieu climbed to his feet, feeling every one of his forty three years in his bones. "Us again, sir?"

Audet grinned and slapped the older man's shoulder. "Us again. Natural choice. We showed them we're the best, eh?"

As Audet walked away, Beaulieu took a long drag on his Players and threw it to the ground. He looked at his corporals. "You heard Clark Gable. We're the best." He shook his head. "Idiot."

By 09:00 18 platoon has been briefed and guided into position by two scouts from recce platoon. Audet had surveyed the ground through binos with in company with recce's Lt. Aubin. He was reasonably happy with his supports. He had been hoping for a tank, but a vehicle from the Carrier Platoon would give him some recce capability and another Bren gun, while the same Vickers HMG team that had worked with him in their last fight had been reassigned. Major Charpentier had approved his plan and now it was time to go.

Lt. Audet briefs Major Charpentier on his plan while the men of two section crouch ready in the hedges on the start line. Command group are plastic figures by Valiant.

This small image looks bigger when you click on it. The blue text and arrows show Audet's plan as follows. Vickers HMG and 1 section under WO Beaulieu will move onto the hill and establish a firebase to cover platoon's advance. With that covering fire, Audet will lead 2 section towards the church at the right moment, while three section with the Bren carrier will probe up the road into the village and look for possibilities to outflank the church posititon.

The black shows the force that PF generated for the Germans. In addition to dummy blinds, the Germans had an infantry section with a Big Man in the church, a heavy AT gun behind the church, two tanks, an MMG section at the crossroads, and a Forward Observer in contact with a four gun 81mm mortar section. Since German resistance would still be firming up just three days after the invasion, my premise is that the infantry and the FOO belong to 716th Div and have orders to hold the church and the village, the other elements belong to separate formations, most likely 21 Panzer Div, and are not attached or supporting. So the two tanks, Pz IIIs, and the AT gun, a towed 88mm, are passing through and have orders to exit the board.

Gefreiter Lothar Schreiber sat on board bench in the little church steeple and listened to the conversation in the street below. Janke, his sergeant was in the street, sharing a smoke with a Luftwaffe leutnant commanding the 88 and crew tucked in alongside the church. Schreiber was impressed at the careful placement of camo netting and twigs to conceal the gun and its heavy mover. He could appreciate the need for it. A few minutes ago a flight of jabos had passed low over head, hunting for targets further inland. For the last three days all he had seen were Tommy aircraft, and he wondered when one would get bored and strafe his steeple just for sport.

Limbered 88mm gun and heavy mover, carefully tucked behind the church. I've had this model for years and never used it until this game. ESCI, I think.

"He's been gone too long." The Luftwaffe leutnant was peering up the street, hoping to see the military policeman return on his motorbike. The chaindog was route control for this sector, and had held the gunners in place while he went to check that the route further inland was safe for transit.

"Be nice if you could stay, sir. We could use your support. Same with the Panzer boys." Janke pointed to the orchard across the road from the church, where two Pz IIIs, also heavily netted and concealed, were parked, their crews lounging about.

"Sorry. Got to get back to my unit, wherever they are. Been wandering for three days now, ever since the Tommies arrived. And as for the Panzers, while, they don't talk to the likes of us air force types."

Schreiber was about to chuckle at the joke when Moller, number two on the MG42, elbowed him and pointed out the belfry to the south. "Actung! Tommies on that hill."

1 section and the attached HMG move onto the hill and come off their blinds.

Beaulieu heard the first rounds of MG tearing the air above him. They were shooting high. He had expected the Germans to have opened fire earlier, but perhaps some sentry had been snoozing. "Get to the crest and let 'em have it. All fire on that church." Now rifle fire was coming at them as well, and gouts of earth were kicking up closer to them. Cpl. Legros and his Bren team had already flopped down and seconds later started chugging out rounds at the church. The riflemen of One Section joined them and Enfields began cracking. Two of the Vickers team arrived a moment later, toiling under their burdens, and began setting up their weapon. Their third man lay crumpled twenty feet back. Beaulieu raced over to him, retreived the heavy ammo boxes, and staggered back to the machine gunners. "Spray that f'n church good."

The sound of fire to his right was Cpl. Matthieu's signal to start 3 section moving on the road to the left of the church. With the Bren carrier leading the way in a cloud of exhaust, he and his men cautiously went forward, some hugging the walls of a ruined brick cottage, others crouching behind the carrier. Within minutes they realized that they had walked into the firelane of a machine gun, and three section was pinned.

Inside the church it wasn`t much better. Schreiber and his LMG crew huddled for dear life behind thick stone, keeping well away from the open spaces in the belfry. The fire from the hill had picked up and wasn`t stopping. Through the din he was aware of a young landser calling from the stairway. `Sgt. Janke is dead, corporal!`
Verdamnt! `Well, keep shooting!` he yelled back, then cringed as another burst of 303 lashed the steeple.

The Germans took an unlucky break early on when their Big Man in the church, Janke, was killed. Presumably he looked out a window at the wrong time. The character of Schreiber would be the replacement if the dice favoured it. Meanwhile, as 1 and 2 sections and the HMG under Audet and Beaulieu remained active, peppering the church, Matthieu would not have his card come up for many turns, effectively taking him and three section out of the game.

The German 88 had its card come up several times and did the sensible thing, pulling away from the church and towards the German rear, where it safely exited despite a few shots from the Bren. The two Pz IIIs followed. Without an effective infantry leader in the church to coordinate with them, they did the sensible thing and retreated off the board edge, since this was an assembly point on a road move and not a staging area for combat. One tank did take a shot at the Bren carrier which was visible down the road, and while the shot was a near miss, it convinced the driver that escape and survival was his best bet. His exit only seemed to convince Matthieu and 3 section to remain invisible and under cover.

Gefreiter Schreiber watches from the steeple in dismay as the second PZ III pulls out of its leaguer and heads away from the fighting.

PZ III covers the withdrawal of the towed 88 and fires a shot at the Bren carrier.

Which promptly flees back down the road and off the table.

Leutnant Gunther Horst and his radio operator had been driving cautiously towards Eglise St. Michel, following instructions from the day before to identify an OP to direct the fire a section of 81mm mortars. His major had said something about stabilizing the front line but as Horst heard small arms fire he had doubts that there was any front line. Signalling his driver to halt, they left the kubelwagen amidst some trees and crept forward until he had a line of site on the village.

The FOO Lt. Horst sets up in the woods with a line of sight to No 3 section.

Mortar shells begin to fall on No 3 section (background) while Audet starts 2 Section towards the church.

Matthieu and his section flattened themselves against walls and buildings as mortar shells began to fall nearby. The corporal could see from the postures of his men and the expressions of a few nearby that they were thoroughly pinned. He wasn't going anywhere, but he lifted his head briefly as he heard a new sound, tank tracks. The reassuring shape of a Sherman appeared in the roadway (a random event generated an Allied reinforcement).

Through his binoculars, Audent could see fragments of stone flying from the walls of the church as the Vickers gun continued to lash it. The rate of return fire from within the church had fallen off considerably. Now was the time. "Follow me, les boys!" Once again his men were sprinting behind him. There was a brief burst of Spandau fire from the steeple, and a man staggered and fell behind him, but they were through to the wall now. "Grenades, ready and ... now!" A flurry of grenades were tossed through the windows, with bangs and screams. A soldier kicked the door down and Audet stepped forward, Sten gun spraying. There was no return fire, the nave of the church was littered with six field gray forms, sone still, some moaning. "Kamerad", a voice called from the steeple stairs. Gefreiter Schreiber and his surviving No 2 had had enough. Minutes later, WO Beaulieu on the hill twatched his lieutenant wave jauntily from the steeple. "F*** me, he did it again!"

Epilogue: The Canadian close assault on the church was an amazingly lucky run of sixes, and wiped out the defending rifle section. With two of the three LMG crew surviving in the steeple, there seemed to be little point in further resistance. THe advent of the Sherman was enough to scare off Lt. Horst and the MMG team at tbe crossroads. Lt. Audet had his church and his casualties had been amazingly light. One killed from the supporting Vickers crew, and two riflemen lightly wounded from 2 section during their assault on the church. A very small bill for a decisive victory. In the next post, we'll see how Audet fares in his quest for recognition and promotion. Thanks for reading, and blessings on your die rolls. MP+

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