Tally Ho!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Vintage Leipzig

Image result for prince schwarzenbergThis weekend we were hosted by Lewisgunner for a game of vintage Leipzig staged by Stryker from http://hintonhunt.blogspot.co.uk/. As usual for Stryker's games this was a very large-scale affair featuring 1000's of 20mm Hinton Hunt (or compatible) figures from his and Lewisgunner's collections. As luck would have it the actual battle took place in October 1813 so it was the right time of the year.

We had 8 players - 3*French, 1*Polish, 1*Austrian, 1*Russian, 1*Prussian, and 1*Swedish. I played the part of Prince Schwarzenberg, leader of the Allied armies, which  gave me command of the Austrians and the Reserves. Stryker will produce an official account so I will just focus on my bit of the battlefield.

I found myself opposite Poniatowski's Poles on the left and centre of the Allied line, with both Leipzig and an outlying village as my objectives.
Cavalry and Guns on the right

Massed infantry in the centre

More guns and Landwehr on the left
We both decided to advance boldly, with some suggestion that Poniatowski was simply keen not to hang around Leipzig for fear of ending-up in the river! The Polish cavalry attacked on my far-left against the artillery but a few rounds of brisk fire quickly saw them off. On my left I was able to shelter some cavalry in the lee of the village and threaten the advancing Polish columns so they were forced to form square - classic Napoleonic's.
Austrian heavy cavalry threaten the Poles flanks 
Seeing the Poles form square I quickly shook-out my leading infantry into line and advance the guns to offer support. I was hoping for some deadly fire against the massed infantry.

Austrian lines ready to fire

The guns advance

The Polish square - classic war game's point from Poniatowski
 With the Polish advance effectively stalled I was able to push forward into the village and launch an assault with 2 infantry columns. This proved very effective and I was able to throw-back the defending Swiss with only minimal losses.

The village is secured
With strong support in place the village was not seriously threatened for the game and I could turn my attention to the Poles again.

Stuck in square and bombarded by artillery the plucky Poles were rapidly whittled away and the front rank on units retreated back towards Leipzig.

Poles under heavy fire
 I was unable to make much progress against Leipzig itself though as several battalions of French Guards appeared and secured the city. At least that drew them away from the Russians though. In a desperate gamble Poniatowski lead a headlong charge across the front of the Austrian lines to attack the cavalry pinning his infantry. It was a bold move but a bloody one with only Poniatowski and his personal staff making it to the Austrian lines.

The Guard appears - Poniatowski in the centre leading the cavalry
 I will leave the final result to Stryker's Blog but a satisfactory result in my sector - a village secured, the Poles badly mauled, and the bulk of the reserve infantry drawn-off. To the (marginal) victor the spoils.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Chain of Comand Eastern Front Campaign - week 5

Following last weeks draw the Axis forces shifted their line of advance and attacked down a road towards a narrow river. Their aim in this weeks Attack on an Objective scenario was to capture and hold the bridge.

Russian commander Kapitan Bosski looks very relaxed

From the Axis side
The patrol phase ended with the Russians deployed in a shallow arc around the bridge and the Axis forces occupying a fairly central position across the road. Honours very much even at this point.

In contrast to previous battles the Russians had chosen to deploy early and in some strength with AT guns, Maxims, and Infantry all appearing in the first turn of the game. They also deployed their KV-1E, which rattled forward at maximum speed (not likely to break any records) across the river and through the fields.

AT gun lurking in the field

Maxims and infantry line the river banks

More Russian infantry
On the Axis side the Germans deployed into the woods and hedges on the left of their position but were cautious about advancing given the Maxims awaiting them. On the Axis right the Finns faced weaker opposition and so advanced through the corn towards a likely-looking hill. The Russians countered but miscalculated and crested the rise to be met by withering fire that routed them from the table.
Finns push forward
On the left the KV-1 pushed forward and began shelling the German positions. It caused limited casualties but kept the Germans pinned to the base-edge. The Germans deployed a Pak-38 to counter the KV but its 50mm gun proved ineffective and the crew quickly feel victim to raking MG fire from the Russian tank. To press home their advantage the Russians then deployed their SU-76 tank hunter.

KV-1E takes up a dominate position
SU-76 joins the fight
At this point things booked fairly good for the Russians - their armour was well advanced and infantry in place to defend the bridge. So the Axis played their final cards bringing on the Panzerscrekt teams and the Finnish BT-42 assault gun.

Its fair to say they had an immediate impact on the game and galvanised the Axis efforts. A volley of Panzerscrekt fire left the KV-1 disabled and a pin-point accurate shot from the BT-42 took-out the lightly armoured SU-76. It then turned its attention to Russian AT gun - killing three crew and destroying the gun with a single turn of firing.  
The BT-42 begins its murderous work

SU-76 brews-up
At this point the Russians were forced to withdraw from the table - with no effective AT they were at the mercy of the BT-42 assault gun. With its 4.5 howitzer giving an HE rating of 9 it was clearly capable of simply annihilating section after section of the Russians infantry force with no damage to itself. It was however a close game until the unlucky loss of the KV-1, with the addition of an extra  senior officer to each Soviet platoon making a big difference to their competiveness 

Bt42 parola 2.jpg
So this weeks Star Baker goes to the Finnish BT-42. The assault gun is a mongrel based on the Russian BT-7 light tank with a new turret carrying the British 4.5" howitzer. Introduced in 1943 the cumbersome tank proved useful as a bunker-buster but pretty ineffective against enemy armour. They were retired in 1944 in favour StuG  III's.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Chain of Command Eastern Front Campaign - week 4

Following the success of last week's armoured assault the Axis were once again on the offensive in an Attack vs Defence mission. In this encounter the Finns and Germans were attacking across a valley with low hills on each sides baseline. In the centre of the table a small hamlet clustered around a crossroads.
The table from the Russian side
The view from the Axis side
The patrol phase ended with the Russians in possession of the hamlet and the Axis forces focused on attacking through the corn fields to the right of the crossroads. The game began with the Germans and Finns deploying several infantry teams - the Germans providing a strong base-of-fire and the Finns advancing through the fields. The Russians countered by deploying their KV-1 and several maxim teams around the hamlet.
The Russian monster enters the fray early
The Finns advance
Both the Finns and the Germans deployed their Panzerscrekt teams well forward and engaged the KV-1. The range was long, meaning  it was 10s to hit, but amazingly the Germans scored a strike. Having a high AT value the Panzerscrekt scored 5 hits and the unlucky Russians saved only 1 - so first blood to the Germans as the KV brewed-up.
Oh dear - did nt see that coming
Having eliminated a major threat the Axis forces rapidly deployed most of their remaining infantry and began to engage the Russian's maxims. Perhaps a little intimidated by the German firepower the Russians sought cover and kept their reserves off-table.
Russian maxims under pressure

Germans seize the high-ground

Russians seek shelter behind the crest while the Finns advance 
Close-up of the Finns 
At this point the Russians were struggling, lacking both initiative and firepower they were reluctant to engage the Axis forces as we've spotted that when things settle into a firefight the Axis troops usually win. As I've explained at the end after some debate we decide to allow the Russians an additional senior commander which led to a much more balanced game.
Encouraged by the arrival of the Commissars, the Russians deployed their infantry enmass to counter the Axis advances. The Finnish advance through the corn fields ground to a halt, but on their left the Germans were able to outflank the hamlet and get into a good position on some high ground.
German base of fire - lots of nasty LMGs
German flanking force and a truck
Russian defenders move into position
Russians cling-on in the barn
As darkness fell it was clear that neither side was going to break the other so we agreed on a draw - the Russians had stemmed the tide and prevented a third straight axis win.

Post Match analysis

We actually did this about half way through as we played the game over two evenings. Our struggle was that the Russians were finding it very hard to compete with the Axis forces, the Germans especially. Whilst in theory the additional reinforcement points for the Soviets meant they could buy support options to increase their firepower, they found it hard to activate them.
Overall both sides had about the same number of potential fire dice. For the Germans most of the firepower is in the infantry squads and so fairly easy to activate. For the Russians its mostly in the heavy weapons teams and so much more difficult to activate. We considered a number of options:
1. More support points for the Russians - tricky as they still have an activation issue.
2. More activation dice - this felt wrong as it would put them on a par with elites.
3. Much denser terrain - it would certainly help mitigate the German LMGs.
4. Adding a second senior officer so one can be deployed early to the table. 
We went for option 4 as it allows all the unused "4's" on the activate dice to be used for both infantry squads and weapons teams. You could argue its unrealistic to have lots of leadership at low-levels in the Soviet army but it did seem the least game-breaking way to improve the Russians chances. 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Chain of Command Eastern Front Campaign - week 3

Following the success of last week's Probe mission by the Axis forces, this week they launched an armoured attack designed to break-through the Russian lines. So we played an Attack on an objective scenario, with the Axis aim being to capture the church that commanded the main road towards the campaign objective.

Church in the distance is the Axis objective

A view from the Russian side 

Another view from the Russian end

The church as a recent purchase from Colours and is an MDF laser-cut model from Charlie Foxtrot. Its not quite finished but I could nt resit using it anyway. In a future blog I'll do a full review of the model.

The patrol phase ended with the Russians holding the church and most of the right side of the table. the Axis were restricted more tov their base-edge, but critically had secured a jump-off point in some woods on the right side fairly close to the church.

The game began with both sides deploying their armour and countering the enemies with their own AT guns. The Germans has an armoured platoon for a Panzer IV, a STUG, and a Hetzer. Facing up against that was a KV-1. First into action was the German Pak43 which damage the KV-1's engine. Although immobilised the Russian brute was proving impossible to destroy.
KV-1 in their sights
These early exchanges favoured the Russians through with the Germans losing 2 AFVs.

Hetzer lurking in the hedges

Damaged but still fighting - the mighty KV-1

Russian AT guns with infantry support
Germans take some hits
The Panzers brew-up
Whilst the Russians were mauling the German armour their infantry were busy deploying the whole force (3 x squads, am MG42, and a Panzerscrekt team) from the jump-off point near the church.

Germans deploy in force
This proved a decisive move as the weight of fire meant they could destroyed the more piece-meal deployment of the Russians around the church. Critically they advanced and captured the Russian jump-off point near the church - denying them the ability to protect the flank.

The jump-off point that would soon fall to the Germans

So with a base of fire firmly established in the woods the Germans were able to rake the church with fire and advance steadily on their objective.   

The KV-1 still pounding away 

Russians deploy around the church

Russians in the church
The game ended with the Russians conceding the church to the victories Germans. The KV-1 remained in action but was unable to move to counter the advancing German infantry. This was one of the closest games we've fought with both sides ending very close to having a platoon broken.