Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire Peninsular War, but with the odd foray into ancient, medieval and WW2 battles.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

A few favourite TMP links

For no particular reason, I thought I'd link to a few of my favourite threads/posts on TMP.

...in which John D Salt gives the best succint explanation of EW anywhere.

...in which Sam Mustafa gives wise thoughts about having too much stuff.

...in which there is a lot of sage advice about gaming...and here too.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Action at St. Jean - a fictional WW2 scenario

Action at St-Jean, mid-September 1944

General Situation: A small Canadian armoured company with some infantry, artillery and light tank support is ordered to take a village in France during the German retreat and destroy an isolated German HQ element there.  However, the Germans have actually established a supply depot in the village, and the Germans are trying to evacuate their precious supplies before the Canadians take them.

The Forces:
Canadians:
1 x Armd Coy (6 x Sherman Is, 2 x Fireflys)
1 x Motor Platoon (Inf Pl in 4 x M5 half-tracks)
1 x Recce Platoon (3 x Honeys)
Battery of 4 x 25pdrs in support, with FOO in Bren carrier.

Germans:
1 x Pz Gr Coy (2 x Pz Gr Pls with 3 x 251/1, 3 x trucks for transport)
1 x AT Pl (3 x Pak40 + movers)
Battery of 3 x 105mm howitzers in support, with FOO in Kubelwagen
10 x (captured British!) trucks used for moving supplies


German Deployment:

The position from the South - German units marked on.  The Canadians with be coming from the top-left (Northwest)
 First Blood:


Sorry for the horrendous photo; anyway, the anti-tank gun covering the approach road destroys the oblivious lead Honey.
The Main Advance:

The Canadian Main Body advances, while the remaining Honeys retreat off the road; the Canadian artillery fires smoke to cover the Honey's retreat.  However, the next Pak40 has line-of-sight to the Sherman on the Canadian left flank...
 Left-Flanking:

The Pak40 promptly destroyed a Sherman, but some good Canadian fire-and-movement destroyed that Pak40 quickly afterwards, without further loss.  The Canadians then advanced toward the junction between church and village, only troubled by some unusually effective German artillery; the Canadian artillery is now dropping lots of smoke onto the village. In the right foreground, the destroyed vehicle is one of the German supply trucks hit at long range by a Sherman.  The Canadians still haven't realized what is really going on yet, however.

 Crux of the Battle:

The Canadian Armour outflanks  the village to the East and drives right into the sights of the last PAk40...which promptly misses!! The Canadian tankers make no such mistake however and the PAk40 is itself eliminated (the overturned base you can see just by the top of the church);  Shermans eliminate other supply trucks and the rest scatter to save themselves.  By this point, the Germans had loaded about 60% of their supplies; but after this destruction, only just over 40% was brought out on the surviviing 7 trucks.  Canadian infantry de-bussing has been hit by German infantry occupying the last house in the village and the machine guns on the hill to the right.

Same position, just slightly moved round for another view.
 End of the Battle:

Canadian infantry suppress then successfully assaulted the house, and the Germans subsequently failed their morale test.  The two leading Shermans were missed by the re-deployed Pak40, but were both destroyed by Panzerfausts.  However, HE from the supporting Shermans and Canadian artillery persuaded this German platoon to retreat too.  With most of the Germans in retreat, the battle was more or less ended here.

 Conclusion:
On balance, a Canadian victory - they had taken the town and destroyed/captured a large chunk of the supplies.  It was very hard fought though; the Canadians had lost six tanks (five Shermans, one Honey) knocked out and eight infantrymen, the Germans 20 or so grenadiers, two AT guns,  three trucks and a Hanomag.

Game Notes:
Thanks very much to my two commanders - I played this game solo using orders provided for each side by two very kind volunteers, who both really got into the spirit of it and sent detailed, realistic and clear orders (at least I hope they were clear and I followed them more-or-less correctly!!).  As I'd hoped, using this method enabled me to play out the battle with each side making mistakes that they wouldn't have made during a head-to-head or a typical solitaire game.  Hopefully I did them both justice! I was reasonably happy with the old WRG 1925-1950 rules for company actions, but I am 'rusty' using them - hopefully play will be a bit smoother after a I start using them more regularly.  There was some discussion of them and useful thoughts on TMP here
Both plans were good, but the Germans were slightly hobbled I thought by some below-par AT shooting (although this was compensated for partially by some *very* effective artillery support!) whilst the Canadians profitted by some very good tank gunnery.  The Germans opted to make a big effort to lift a large quantity of supplies quickly (using most of two platoons) which would have probably given them victory if the Canadian plan hadn't been to to advance with full-speed on that very point! The Canadians ability to concentrate their forces helped too.

The scenario itself was based on a 1940 scenario published in Miniature Wargames 001 but set in 1944 to match my model collection.  If anyone wants the maps and briefings, just let me know in the comments and I'll be more than happy to pass them on,

Apologies for the (even by my standards) poor photos, and thanks once again to my two intrepid commanders!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Campaign Battle 09: Battle of Villadamat

Battle of Villadamat, mid-October 1808

General Situation: Commander of the Spanish Army of Catalonia, Gen Palacio, has embarked on an unusually daring operation.  Anxious to postpone the fall of the besieged fortresses at Rosas and Gerona for as long as possible, he has conducted a daring coastal march with Jacome's Division to threaten the French fortress at Figueras and cut off the newly-established line of communication between Gen Duhesme and his division's around Rosas (those of Gen Reille and Gen Lecchi).  Gen Duhesme was left with the dilemma of whether to take the bait and attack Jacome's exposed division or to persist with his seige actions and let his communications and the safety of Figueras look after themselves for the meantime.  Duhesme eventually decided to accept battle and breaking the blockades, marched against Palacio, and called upon Generals Reille and Lecchi to similarly march from Rosas; however, only Reille received the call in time.

The bait having been accepted, Palacio was forced to fight a delaying action to give him time to evacuate his stores and sick before evading the French pincers*.

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
VII Corps (CinC Duhesme - Plodding)
Chabran's Division: 6000 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry, 6 Guns
Reille's Division: 7000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Totals: 13000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 12 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Catalonia (CinC Gen Palacio - Plodding)
Jacome's Division: 5000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Independent Brigades: 2000 Infantry (originally from Jacome's Division*)
Totals: 7000 Infantry, 6 Guns


Initial Deployment:


The Battlefield: Top is East, Reille is marching from the North (left), Gen Duhesme with Chabran's Division is marching from the South.  Normally a 'hilly' battlefield should have a lot more terrain than this, but the Spanish terrain dicing rolls were awful**
The view into the wood over the shoulder of Reille's left hand brigade - note the Spanish units in defence.
Reille's Attack:


The Imperials attacked first from the North with Reille's division; the Italian light infantry are leading the way (top); Palacio boldly pushed some of his infantry forward to force Reille to deploy more units...thus gaining more time for the withdrawal

Success for the Italians!  The Spanish right-hand battalion is in deep trouble (notice the two shaken markers).  The Italians continued their advance and broke it in on the next turn, thus turning the Spanish flank.  The Spanish reserve has been committed: notice the line noe formed just beyond the wood.
Chabran's Sweep:


On  the other flank, Chabran elected to sweep around the Spanish positions rather than risk an unlikely defeat by charging straight up the slopes towards the Spanish positions.


The Crisis of the Battle:


On the southern (right) flank, the Spanish are withdrawing in front of Chabran's units, hoping to escape before they are caught.  On the left, the Spanish have evaded most of Reille's units, but at the top, the Italians are perilously close to the road, they have routed another Spanish infantry unity...and one of the Spanish battalions facing them is made up of raw levies...

The position in more detail.  Spanish light infantry are making any attack along the edge of the wood perilous, but on the left hand side, the Italian infantry are facing a newly-raised Spanish battalion. Will they hold or will the Italians cut off the Spanish main escape route?
The Spanish...are saved!


Despite wavering for a second, the Spanish battalion holds its nerve to deliver a crushing volley at point-blank range and the Italians, although not routed, retreat in serious disorder.  The Spaniards were able to use this respite to escape, with Chabran only securing the capture of the Spanish guns.
Result:
Tactically a clear French victory, but the Spanish have every reason to feel that the operation was on balance a success.  The French siege operations have been disrupted and the chances are that at least one of Rosas and Gerona will now hold out until the new year and the Spanish battle losses have been relatively light***, something around 450 casualties and 6 guns.  The French losses were about 200, about evenly split between Reille's Italian infantry and casualties inflicted on Chabran's infantry by the Spanish artillery.  However, the Imperial light cavalry were able to take around 1000 prisoners during the pursuit.


Game Notes:
A much smaller affair than other recent battles, so I played this one out as a General de Division battle on a small (5'x2.5') board.
* In battles where one side wishes to withdraw, I have ruled that units cannot voluntarily leave the battlefield until 6+D6 turns have passed.  This makes delaying/withdrawal scenarios workable and enjoyable.
** In the Polemos Campaign rules, terrain is randomly generated and placed by the defender, then the attacker gets a roll allowing this terrain to be moved and/or removed.  The Spanish rolls were abysmal, the French rolls great.  I'm thinking of modifying this for Generalship skill, to account for better generals being more likely to fight on battles more suited to them.
*** In the campaign rules, units which are broken but not captured get to roll to see if they recover after the battle.  The Spanish successfully saved every unit!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Campaign Battle 08: Battle of Villenias de Campo

Battle of Villenias de Campo, Early October 1808

General Situation: Bessieres has regrouped in the month following the debacle at Ucieza and resumed his offensive against Mahy's Army of Galicia.  Mahy wasn't unduly worried and felt able to detach Acevedo's Division for a successful lightning raid against Santander.  Unfortunately, just after the news of Acevedo's victory came intelligence that Zaragoza had fallen and Joseph was using Desolles', Verdier's and Lefebvre-Desnouettes's divisions to reinforce Bessieres' force.  Mahy determined to withdraw West, taking the path to the south west of Palencia, but Bessieres has pounced and brought Mahy's forces to battle.

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
II Corps (CinC Bessieres - Decisive)
Lasalle's Division: 1000 Light Cavalry
Merle's Division: 7500 Infantry
Mouton's Division: 6000 Infantry, 1000 Dragoons
Desolles' Division: 13500 Infantry
Verdier's Division: 4500 Infantry
Lefebvre-Desnouettes' Division: 4500 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry
Artillery: 60 Guns
Totals: 36000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 60 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Galicia (CinC Gen Mahy - Plodding)
Maceda's Division: 3000 Infantry, 36 Guns
Cagigal's Division: 4500 Infantry, 12 Guns
Martinengo's Division: 4500 Infantry, 12 Guns
Portago's Division: 6000 Infantry, 12 Guns
Riquelme's Division: 4500 Infantry
Trias' Division: 3000 Infantry
March's Division: 2000 Cavalry, 12 Guns

Totals: 25500 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 72 Guns

Initial Deployment & Moves:


Aerial view from Northwest: Elements of Verdier's Infantry and Lefebvre-Desnouttes Legion of the Vistula troops, bottom left; Spanish infantry from Portago's Division guard the centre, with massed artillery and Maceda's troops guarding the hill.

View from North, behind the French positions.  The French have deployed L-R: Merle, Mouton, the artillery, Desolles, Verdier, Lasalle, Lefebvre-Desnouettes.  The Spanish are at the top (South) of the table, from L-R: Trias, Riquelme, Maceda, Portago, Martinengo in reserve, Cagigal supported by March's cavalry.

Same position, just from a slightly flatter angle to the table.
  The Battle:

The French got an early advantage and never really lost it:  Lefebvre-Desnouettes' left-hand brigade conducted a flank attack into the enclosures in the Spanish front centre, routed one Spanish brigade and forced the others to retreat, which then induced panic in the whole division, thus uncovering the Spanish centre-left.

Verdier's infantry from the Legion of the Vistula advance into the enclosures in support (left), while L-D's other brigades cross the stream.  Mahy is rushing Martinengo's division from reserve to plug the gap.

Meanwhile Bessieres stirs his left into action and Mouton's Division advances towards the central hill.  The French artillery has taken a while to get going, getting rather the worse of the counter-battery exchanged, but it is now in a position to support the French advance.
Martinengo's troops reach the stream ahead of Verdier's Poles, but he is hardly in the best formation to defend.  The French infantry to the West (top of shot) have been flung back over the river by a successful Spanish cavalry charge...who then lost the outcome phase and retreated!!  The charge has successfully stopped the French advance here and the battle on this flank settled down to petty bickering from this point.

The sun glints on the bayonets of Merle's infantry on the French left as they watch their brothers in Mouton's formation reach the bottom of the hill.

Victory!

Bessieres in person leads the successful assault up onto the summit of the hill and the Spanish are in headlong rout.  Bessieres succeeds in keeping his troops in hand, and thus there is little hope in an immediate Spanish counter-attack.  The Spanish artillery is looking a little vulnerable too...

Verdier triumphant!  Attacking across a stream into enclosures is not the easiest task in "Marechal de Empire", but here Verdier's Legion of the Vistula pull it off with aplomb.  The units to the left are the broken Spanish brigades of Martinengo. 

The French advance into the centre continues and 36 Spanish guns are taken, Mahy's position is hopeless.

Not to be outdone, Merle's troops on the French left defeat Trias' division and cross the stream at this point too...
 Result: 
A crushing French victory, in a battle where their Veteran brigades led by dense skirmisher screens were just unstoppable.  The debacle of the Ucieza was well and truly avenged, with Spanish losses estimated at 6000 or so during the battle, with another 6000 (mainly prisoners) lost in the pursuit led by Lasalle's rampaging light cavalry.  French losses were ligtt, not quite reaching 1200 all told.  It felt that the Spanish were particularly luckless in this battle and the rub of the green definitely did go against them.  The correlation of forces probably guaranteed a French victory, but almost everything they did went to plan and the battle was soon won by them.

Game Notes:
A pretty standard game of MdE, but a question did arise about the combat phases, which I may bring up on the forum.