Monday, March 26, 2012

28mm Peninsular War - Action at Los Anonimo - Black Powder

This week game at the SESWC was a fictional 28mm Napoleonic Peninsular War game played with Black Powder.

The Setup
It was a Dougie Traill scenario in which a French Force (commanded by Dougie and Bart Zynda) encountered an allied force of Johns Glass’s Spaniards supported by my British brigade. The key point was the village of Los Anonimo in the centre of the battlefield, represented by 2 built up areas, to win this objective had to be controlled at the end of the game.

Swiss in Spanish service move on Los Anonimo

The French split their forces with Dougie commanding a light cavalry brigade on their right flank and Bart commanding 2 French infantry brigades with artillery support on their centre/left. Johns Spanish cavalry was on our left with the first of his infantry brigades in the centre with a further brigade off table in reserve and my British brigade was across a small stream on the allied right facing a line of low hills.
All the troops used the standard factors in the rules. All the cavalry were counted as standard light cavalry. The French infantry were reliable in attack column, the British infantry had first fire and all the Spaniards were unreliable. The French and British commanders were rated as 8 and the Spanish as 7. We used the alternate move sequence with firing occurring after initiative moves.

The invincible brown hussars win again but not for long....

How it Played
The French split their infantry force with one brigade moving quickly to occupy the line of low hills to face my troops who were slowed moving thru woods. The other French brigade also moved rapidly crossed the stream and occupied the village of Los Anonimo whilst the Spanish were held up by poor command rolls and their unreliability.

French marching wins race Los Anonimo
On the French right their light cavalry, Dougies Brown Invincible Hussars, defeated the Spanish yellow dragoons but their sweeping advance was driven back by the Spanish lancers. This left both cavalry brigades in a fragile state and neither felt in a confident state to renew the action.

On my flank my British brigade emerged from the woods and engaged the French left wing brigade deployed in line on the low hills in a fire fight. By the end of the action we had both broken an opposing battalion by fire and were threatening to outflank our opponents right wing.
British advance on steady French lines

The key to the action was the struggle for Los Anonimo. The French had one battalion deployed in each of the BUAs of Los Anonimo and a further battalion in reserve behind the stream. John launched his first brigade in an attempt to storm the village but this attack was driven back easily by the French defenders. John then changed tactics and brought up his units including a gun to shoot the French out of the nearest built up area. After several turns the weight of fire broke the French defenders. Abysmal command rolls prevented the Spanish from occupying that half of the village and while repeated disordering hits prevented the French reserve battalion from reoccupying it.

Spanish deliver crushing fire into Los Anonimo

The French held one half of the village as the game ended so it was declared a minor French victory. The game showed again the difficulty of taking a defended built up area under Black Powder but that I think is realistic.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Albanich 2012 and Oriskany again.....

This week I was busy preparing the SESWC display game for Albanich the Wargames show in Dumfries on Saturday.  The display was my game of the Battle of Oriskany 1777, described in a previous blog, expanded to include the besiegers of Fort Stanwix.
Albanich is a small show but it definitely seemed busier this year than last year and that may well be due to it moving date from January to March.  It was a very pleasant drive down and the hills were looking great.

Our Oriskany display - with Betsy Ross flag
There was enough interest in the display to keep Hugh Wilson and I from actually playing it as a game so we just moved the relief column forward over the day.  Great to speak to so many people.  Lots of questions about our faux fur battle mat.  Having seen our one in use last year Dumfries Wargames club used a dyed version for their Roman Vs Dacians Hail Caesar display game.

Overall it was a good day - and our Oriskany game won the trophy for best display!

Oriskany - militia have crossed the creek
Here is the text of my handout for the display and more photos from the show.

Battle of Oriskany, August 6, 1777
This  28mm American War of Independence game is based on the Battle of Oriskany and is being played  using Black Powder Rules.

Some History
The Battle of Oriskany, fought on August 6, 1777, was one of the bloodiest battles in the North American theatre of the American Revolutionary War and a significant engagement of the Saratoga campaign.  Early in the siege of Fort Stanwix, an American relief force from the Mohawk Valley under Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer, numbering around 800 men of the Tryon County militia and a party of Oneida Indians, approached in an attempt to raise the siege. The British commander Barry St. Leger authorized Sir John Johnson to intercept them with a force consisting of his own King's Royal Regiment of New York, a Hanau j├Ąger detachment, Indian allies from the Six Nations and Indian Department Rangers totalling at least 450 men.
The Loyalist and Indian force ambushed Herkimer's force in a small valley about six miles (10 km) east of Fort Stanwix, near the present-day village of Oriskany, New York. During the battle, Herkimer was mortally wounded. The battle cost the Patriots approximately 450 casualties, while the Loyalists and Indians lost approximately 150 dead and wounded. The result of the battle remains partly ambiguous to this day because the advantage of the Loyalist victory was countered when a party sortied from Fort Stanwix and sacked their camp, purportedly spoiling morale among the Indians.  The battle is featured in the classic John Ford 1939 film Guns Along the Mowhawk but none of the action is shown.

The Setup
The game is fought down a 8ft by 6ft table.  The main action is the battle of the relief column with the fort and it’s besiegers being shown largely for effect.  We use the standard movement and ranges given in the rules.  The terrain is assumed to be wooded except for an area of open ground around two hamlets shown by the fences. The figure scale is approx 1 figure to 7 men.  To make them more effective I have allowed the Indians to charge any troops in the flank or rear and to charge any shaken formed troops frontally. In addition I have made  the American militia worse than they are in the BP rules.  I have made all the commanders 8s for this game as the Patriots are already handicapped by the their militia being Unreliable.

Mass Roman vs Dacian action - note the dyed faux fur terrain

VBCW action - cavalry charge super tank....
Sackville Street Dublin - the Irish Civil War game

Sunday, March 11, 2012


This week I am writing about two recent 28mm WWII games using Rules of Engagement that Colin Jack put together.

The vital US fuel depot
The first was a game played at Hugh Wilsons last Thursday and was set in Lorraine in 1944. A German force had broken through the US lines and was attempting to capture a small town which contained the HQ of a US Armoured Division and both a fuel dump and an ammo dump.
M4 Sherman ablaze....
The Germans had a motorised infantry platoon supported by a mixed group of vehicles with more vehicles arriving later using a cahnce mechanism. The Americans had various HQ infantry units and a group of M4 Sherman tanks which were in the process of being repaired. In addition a French force with Shermans and a M10 Wolverine was moving to their support.
M4 Sherman in repair motor pool explodes...
All the German vehicles started with a limited number of turns of fuel - this was diced for using a D10 - and after that many turns movement they would run out of fuel on a D6 score of 1 or 2.

The game was fought along a 12ft by 5ft table. The major problem the Germans had was that due to their fuel shortage none of their vehicles could move fast. This severely limited their movement range and most ran into fuel problems before they reached the town. However for the loss of a Panzer IV they managed to knock out 2 Shermans and the French M10. The high quality of the German infantry in the scenario - their experience rating was 3+ - was the decisive factor as this allowed them to defeat the inexperienced rear echeleon US troops whose experience rating was only 5+.

The long lasting Panzer IV knocked out by French M10
The second game was played at the SESWC this week and was set during the Battle of Falaise. A Canadian regimental HQ was deployed holding the summit of hill 117 and was attacked by a German armoured and infantry force attempting to break out from the pocket.

Tigers sweep forward - were that many running at Falaise?
The German Tigers - yes they had 2 of them - very quickly knocked out both the Canadian M10s. However lucky firing by Shermans and artillery caused the crews of 2 of the German tanks to bail out. This and the good firing by the Canadian infantry proved enough to enable them to stop the German breakout in its tracks.

Shermans deployed to protect the field hospital
With more games we are getting used to ROE - we are missing less of the important raules - there are a few anomalies that we need to read up on further but the rules certainly work.  I think the fun part still seems to be the tank actions....

Monday, March 5, 2012


This weekend we played out a large scale Back of Beyond game set in 1920 in the short lived Far East Republic in eastern Siberia. This was a Colin Jack special with multiple players, hidden objectives, special events and some back stabbing. The action took place around the town of Khor on the Trans-Siberian railway 72 km south of Khabarovsk.

Uptrain from the South Manchurian railway...
There were 4 factions in the game. Each faction had 2 players each with a command.
Red 1 - Bill Gilchrist.
Red 2 - Donald Adamson
White 1 - Simon Douglas
White 2 - Dave Paterson (Mad Baron Ungern-Sternberg).
Chinese 1 - Colin Jack.
Chinese 2 - Ronan Paterson. (Chinese Bandits)
Japanese - Hugh Wilson.
British - Rob from Reiver.

Mad Baron A-team rollout in their armoured car
Most commands had 3 units and 1 support weapon. The commanders in a faction had to cooperate with each other but only 1 of the commanders could win the game.
Each faction started in a corner of the table. In the centre was the town of Khor with 9 buildings including a railway station with the Trans-Siberian railway running the length of the table. Holding the buildings in the town gave cash if a train from the faction arrived as a special event which was doubled if they also held the Railway station. Reinforcements arrived either as special events, when a command had lost half its units, or were found in a building in the town. The Czech Legion held the railway station as an independent force against all the factions.
Final victory was assessed on basis of control of buildings, value of remaining cash, and some specials e.g. control of Tsar. The tactical part of the game was played using Chris Peers’ Contemptible Little Armies rules. They are simple and enjoyable rules.

The Mad Baron attacks the railway station

How the game played
Effectively the commands from each faction which were furthest from Khor engaged their opponents whilst the nearer commands advanced rapidly to gain a foothold in the town.
North of Khor Hughs Japanese attacked Simons White Russians whilst the British and the Mad Barons White Russian troops entered the town. Daves troops entered a warehouse and found the parts to build an improvised armoured car. Hughs Japanese cavalry and then Robs British entered the prison and liberated the political prisoners who joined them as extra irregular units.
After much firing, Hughs artillery destroyed Daves armoured car but by then he had found a volunteer pilot who took to the air and strafed the interventionists.

Armoured car blazes as Japanese milita advance
Dave as the Mad Baron got to the railway station first and succeeded in bribing the Czech legion to join him. Shortly afterwards another trainload of Czechs arrived and re-captured it. The station became the scene of fierce fighting as the Czechs, Whites, Reds and Chinese all battled for its control.
On the east side of the table the Chinese eventually took action against the Reds and Ronans Chinese bandits and Donalds Reds contested until the end of the game over an insignificant and worthless railway halt.
Tsar and Tsarina being led to safety almost....

My Reds took 2 of the buildings in the town but were then severely worn down by the Chinese who discovered a tank in another warehouse. The Chinese even launched an attack through a secret tunnel from the town hall that came up in my defences in the Khor Grand Hotel.

Lots of reinforcements arrived and were thrown away on more suicidal attacks. At the end the British who had the smallest force - with no cavalry - won the game. Rob held 3 buildings in the town and had located the Tsar and hurried him away to safety. The Tsarina was tragically killed by a strafing run by the Mad Baron’s aircraft. Donald won the wooden spoon - he was a loyal ally and even gave up a building to me so that he could concentrate all his troops against the Chinese bandits. Well done Comrade!!!

My thanks to Hugh Willson for providing the venue and especially to Suzanne Wilson for the Russian catering - beef stew made with kvass served with kasha and for dessert pashka.

Here is the link to the Flickr photostream with all the photos from the game.