Thursday, 31 May 2018

Napoleon at War!


Last night at the uni David ran us through the new ruleset Napoleon at War V2. Now a few years ago he ran a game based on the original NAW set, which was quite the most entertaining game I'd had in a long time, so I was really looking forward to this game...



The rules have quite specific instructions about setting up - Caesar and I set up first, then Gary and Peter, above, set out their Prussian and Austrian armies.



There were 3 objectives set out across the table centre line, L-R a dead horse in the walled field, a dead horse on the cross roads, and a dead horse on the edge of the hill. I think the game may have been sponsored by Maccas....You can see above that both Caesar and I biased both our forces towards our centre, without conferring in anyway - that would smack of forward planning!


Peter opposite me had a chuckle when he saw my cavalry deployment - which had me worried - I don't have much success with cavalry at the best of times, whilst Peter is very experienced with Austrian, hence cavalry-centric, armies!


By contrast, the Allied deployment seemed very well balanced, with the Prussians seeming to favour deploying in line for maximum firepower...


Whilst the Austrians stuck to columns. Peter also kept his cavalry tightly concentrated, and his Grenzers headed straight for the nearby dense woods where they could operate to best advantage...


The French stuck to attack columns too - Bien Sur!


Let Battle Commence!


Peter lead off with his cavalry...


No doubt hoping to overawe with the impeccable turnout of his Hussars!


However the French cavaliers were determined to show off their prowess in combat as well as their unquestioned superiority in sartorial magnificence! Kaftans are so a la mode these days! En Avant!


The Austrian cavalry, overwhelmed by my ridiculously high dice throwing as well as embarrassed to be dressed soo last century, got the worst of it - a Dragoon regiment disintegrated and the remnants of the Hussars turned and fled...



The flank duly secured, it was time to advance on the objective...


Unfortunately Peter had the same idea, and got there first. My horse gunners, nicely emplaced on a nearby hill, would have to even the odds... 


Which they did, emboldening the first assault - however the doughty Austrian Infantry saw them off!


On my left flank, Caesars troops in and around the woods were being hampered by Prussian firepower...it seems that in NAW a defending unit may issue volleys as many times as it is attacked in the same turn...hmm...


Back in my sector, whilst I was lining up for another assault, Peter had advanced his second Austrian Brigade perilously close to my open flank...Fortunately Caesar was all over this and moved up his lancers to forestall any such shenanigans! 


In combination with the judicious application of firepower...


The second French infantry assault carried all before it to seize one of the 3 objectives...


The other 2 were still in play but as it was getting late we called time. Given the fast rate at which NAW chews through units, my half of the army wasn't going to be achieving a great deal more!


So what did we think of NAW? My biggest beef was actually what I found most fun - having to make a decision as to when to order a volley against a charging enemy - early and relatively ineffective, or wait until you see the whites of their eyes and risk failing to issue fire at all? 



Great fun, but hardly the decision you would expect from a divisional level game I would have thought? Overall too early to make a decision on the rules so I expect, and hope, more games will be in the offing!

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Battle of Rasdorf


On Sunday we met up at the uni for our annual Lariat Advance game, a mega Team Yankee game recreating the likely Warsaw Pact advance through the Fulda Gap. I last blogged about the preparations, and the mini campaign that led to this game, here.


After much deliberation, the Warsaw Pact team chose to attack up table 1. Bryan would take the Soviet Motor Rifles and go right flanking, I would take East German Motor Rifles and go left flanking, and we would leave our third formation, a T-72 Tank Battalion, in the middle to exploit whoever was making the most progress. Bags of smoke, natch, and making full use of the first three moves of early morning fog (night rules). Note at this stage that Bryan's first hurdle would be to clear the town of Rasdorf...


The table from the NATO perspective
The NATO team, for their part, were clearly  up on their SIGINT as they correctly guessed it would be table 1, where they had committed 2 of their 3 formations, both the US ones. On this table they got to lay 2 minefields and spring 1 ambush...The latecoming West Germans, deployed on the 'wrong' table, would be arriving as delayed reserves...


The Warsaw Pact forces forming up, from the right, a T-72 Tank Formation with a Hail battery, Soviet Motor Rifles with ridiculous amounts of artillery, and on the far side East German Motor Rifle formation, including 10 T-55AM2s. All 3 formations of 60 points, no air, no AA.


NATO - Colin's 11th ACR Scout formation, infantry courtesy of the 82nd Airborne who were hurriedly flown into Frankfort and then bussed up to Fulda. Note the large amount of tiny formations typical of Cav.



Not that they're full of themselves, of course... The other US formation was Philip's USMC formation, which seemed to be mainly armoured:



And finally, hastily redeploying as delayed reserves across from the adjacent valley, Stephen's Bundeswehr Mechanised Infantry. You don't get much for your 60 points with West Germans:


The NATO team deployed their teams pretty far forward...


And all of it snug in cover - and that's without the ambush platoon...


Lots of M60s crammed into every wood and copse - look they may be venerable, but they still get off 2 well aimed 105mm rounds every turn...



Warsaw Pact deployment, by contrast, was not so neat and tidy...


In fact it was a bit of a jam in places...


Nevertheless our opening moves were faithful to the Soviet General Staff's grand plan - I went left flanking, through wooded hill and dale, and Bryan had the nice open approach to Rasdorf…



Where he promptly put in a well supported massed infantry attack with his entire Battalion of Motor Rifles against the US defenders who were deployed on its northern outskirts...


But it was the first time the Warsaw Pact had come across the equally large platoons of the US 82nd Airborne, and their phenomenal firepower. Already annoyed from not having been allowed to jump in, these Paratroopers were in a mean mood and not about to budge for anyone...You want to take Rasdorf from us? Nuts!





The troopers were stoutly supported in their defence from some long range AT sniping from small but numerous Scout platoons of ITVs and Humvees armed with TOWs, who steadily picked off the Motor Rifle's supporting BMPs, making Bryan's life even harder...


On my side of the battlefield I wasn't making much progress either...what little open ground there was mined and covered by long range ATGW, and the hills were alive with M60s...


Although that enabled some very satisfactory tank stalking for my Schutzen, it was hardly blitzkrieg!



But our very timidity seemed to embolden the NATO forces, and they got cocky...springing their ambush and moving out of their hides to confront us in the open...


Well, about as open as we were going to let it be...with our artillery assets!


The US tankers accepted the challenge and advanced right through the smoke....and so a massive tank close range knife fight ensued on the north eastern outskirts of Rasdorf…


All those years of NATO long range gunnery training wasted...


As both tank forces pretty much wiped each other out! Pretty soon, my ancient T-55s, late to the fight, were the only tanks remaining in the vicinity!


Both sides exhausted, and with the majority of the objectives still in NATO hands, we conceded the game, having paid a heavy price to advance only a couple of feet over the Inner German Border!


So our second Lariat Advance game ended in another NATO victory. Next year we will have to play the other table, and perhaps tilt the game Eastwards by going with a fighting withdrawal type scenario...


As ever, this colossal game would not have been possible without a great bunch of players, L-R: Philip, Colin, Stephen and Bryan. Thanks chaps - a great game!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Lariat Advance! - Advance to Contact!

Tension mounts along the Inner German Border, with East German border guards ever more vigilant...
This Sunday sees the second of our annual Lariat Advance Team Yankee wargames at the Uni - a big, multiplayer all-day game that recreates the much anticipated, much rehearsed, but fortunately never initiated advance of the Soviet 8th Guards Army... 



through the Fulda Gap, defended by the US V Corps, the tripwire specifically from the 11th Armoured Cavalry Regiment, the Black Horse Regiment...



and the West German III Corps. You can read all about last year's inaugural game here: LARIAT ADVANCE



Last year we played down two 12 x 6 tables portraying two adjacent Fulda valleys, with over 400 points per side spread across the 2 tables. That was with 7 players, but this year there are only 5 of us, so we are reducing the scope somewhat!



Instead of physically playing up and down both tables, most of us won't know which table we will be playing on until Thursday night, with barely 72 hours remaining to prepare!



Bryan, as Soviet CinC, gets to nominate, secretly, to a trusted third party at the club, which table he will choose to attack across. Meanwhile Philip, the NATO commander, has to secretly allocate his 3 formations across both tables, not knowing which one he will have to defend! Each table must have at least one Formation allocated to it. Formations deployed to the 'wrong' table will only come on to the 'right' table as delayed reserves, with the exception of the US Army scout formation. 



We can assume the Black Horse troopers, stationed on the border since 'Nam, will know the area very well and will know all the back trails and short cuts, so will redeploy as immediate reserves if they get caught on the wrong table. If decisions go well for the Warsaw Pact, their 3 formations could initially only face 1 formation, at worst 2.


The tables have differing numbers of objectives, ambushes, and minefields allocated to them, depending on an objective view of which is easiest to attack or defend. Table 1, Rasdorf-Eiterfeld, on the left, has 2 NATO minefields allocated, and 1 ambush; Table 2, Grusselbach-Unterhausen, on the right, has 4 minefields and up to 2 ambushes allocated. Each table must have at least one NATO formation allocated to it. Obviously I think the right hand table is the hardest one to defend, but I could well be wrong!


This year, owing to the popularity of our 60 point, no AIR no AA, games, we will also be limiting the size of each formation in the same way, which should make things interesting....



Colin is deploying a Scout Formation, the famous Black Horse Regiment itself, Philip is deploying a USMC formation reassigned by SACEUR, and Stephen is deploying a Bundeswehr force. 



I will deploy either a NVA motor rifle or Tank formation, depending on the  terrain of the table chosen...



and also a Soviet motor rifle or Tank formation, whilst Bryan will take the other Soviet combo of motor rifles or tanks as he sees fit within the master plan! So, if the fragile peace of August '85 fails to hold, once again the Fulda Gap will hear the tramp of marching feet and the throb of hundreds of diesel engines....More to follow!