Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday 31 July 2016

Scottish Corridor Campaign Battle 04 - Probe at Bas de Mouen re-visited

This was a replay of the second battle in the campaign, scenario six from the TooFatLardies' Scottish Corridor mini-campaign book.

As I will explain in the game notes, I didn't stick with the WRG 1925-1950 rules that I have used thus far, but instead mashed together that set with the TooFatLardies' "Chain of Command".

Orders of Battle:

Kampfgruppe Frey / 1st SS Liebstandarte Division
1 x Panzer Grenadier Pl
2 x PzIVF

3rd Monmouths
1 x Rifle Pl
1 x 6lb anti-tank gun

The Battle:

To simulate the pre-battle patrolling and advance, the Chain of Command rules use "patrol markers" to indicate where each side gets to.  Here, red for British, blue for German.
This translates into "jump-off" points, which I suppose are similar to spawning locations in computer games i.e. where the forces of each side can spring into the game.  Green for British, yellow for Germans.

The game underway.  The Germans advance a section through the woods on their left, accompanied by a Panzer IV.

Some luck at the right moment allows the British to ambush the advancing German section as its riflemen try to advance towards a farmhouse.   The German section in pinned by the fire, but not destroyed.
Same situation seen from the British perspective
The Second Phase

The Germans move a second tank up and also begin an advance on their right (top).  Again, the British (located in the building top-left) try to ambush the advancing German panzer grenadiers but again their shooting suppresses rather than kills.  The supporting German MG42s (in the hedgeline) return fire to suppress the British infantry in response. 
A British 6lb anti-tank gun (hard to see: on the top-left by the road, hiding in the hedge) suddenly opens up on the leading Panzer IV and brews it up!
Third Phase

German machinegunners eliminate the anti-tank gun crew and cause some casualties amongst the British in the buildings (top-left).  However, the Monmouths have got the better of the German section nearest and eliminated an MG42 team and the riflemen who had been pinned in the open.

Victory on each flank!  The German section has been destroyed by the British in the near ground, but the British infantry section in the buildings has been eliminated by the German sections on the far side of the road.  The Germans had a little good fortune and slightly against the odds, the British platoon lost its nerve first and withdrew!  The Germans were thus able to successfully probe to the edge of the board past the now undefended buildings (top-left).

British losses: 15 men killed and wounded, 1 6lb anti-tank gun destroyed.
German losses: 16 men killed and wounded, 1 PzIVF destroyed.

Game Notes:

Recent campaign games had worried me a little that the Germans just did not have sufficient chance of winning.  I was using the WRG 1925-1950 rules along with the "Threat Generation" solo system published in Miniature Wargames 373:

 And whilst this gave very exciting games in general, playing one side obviously gives the player incentive to play against the system as hard as possible and "win" the game by beating the system.  However, experience has shown that if I play sensibly and methodically, I'd have to be quite unlucky to lose.  So in this game, I decided to experiment with something else.

There are two main reasons I haven't been using the TooFatLardies' Chain of Command rules for the games so far.

Firstly, my 6mm troops are based in elements and Chain of Command uses a figure-removal system.  Secondly, the Chain of Command rules are heavily interactive, in that players have to make decisions in both their turn and their opponent's turn.  So what I decided to try in this game was to keep the firing, movement, visibility and morale elements of the WRG rules, but use the patrolling and activation systems for the Chain of Command rules, whilst limiting the "out-of-turn" options to opening fire on a visible target.  This means that the "non-active" side can get a couple of additional shots off, but can't immediately open fire on troops they can't see.  For instance, in the game played above, the British infantry in the buildings could fire on the German infantry in the open field but couldn't fire on the German infantry section which was activated that turn, because it was in the hedge and over 50m away.

I was very pleased with how it worked and it created a very close game.  I'd warn players about one thing though: the realism levels are high in this game!  So, infantry can get suppressed easily and it makes dismounted manoeuvre hard and tank combat is often decided by who gets off the first shot.

For future development, I may look at how the combat system in Chain of Command can be made more "element" friendly or alternatively how a more extensive junior leadership system can be incorporated into the WRG rules.

Played on a 3'x2' board, buildings from Total Battle Miniatures and figures and vehicles were mainly from GHQ in this game.

Sunday 24 July 2016

Battle of Golymin, 26th December 1806

I had a go at refighting the Battle of Golymin, which took place during Napoleon's campaign in Poland against the Russians and the Prussian remnants of the disasters of October that year.  There is a good accoutn of the battle here.  The scenario I used was the one published in Baccus' Napoleonic Companion.

The scenario is designed for the Polemos General de Division rules.  The contending forces were as follows:


C-in-C: Murat (Decisive)

Reserve Cavalry Corps (Murat)
Lasalle's Division: 4 Light Cavalry bases (Trained)
Milhaud's Brigade: 3 Light Cavalry bases (Trained)
Klein's Brigade: 6 Dragoon bases (Trained)

III Corps (Davout - Decisive)
Morand's Division: 12 Infantry SK1 bases (Trained)
Friant's Division: 8 Infantry SK1 bases (Trained)
Marulaz' Cavalry Division: 3 Light Cavalry bases (Trained)

VII Corps (Augureau - Capable)
Desjardin's Division: 8 Infantry SK1 bases (Trained)
Heudelet's Division: 12 Infantry SK1 bases (Trained)
Durosnel's Division: 2 Light Cavalry bases (Trained)


C-in-C: Prince Golitsyn (Plodding)

4th Division (Golitsyn): 3 bases Infantry SK1 (Veteran), 3 bases Infantry SK0 (Veteran), 9 bases Infantry SK0 (Trained), 2 bases Cuirassiers (Trained), 4 bases Light Cavalry (Trained), 1 base 12lb Foot Arty, 1 base 8lb Foot Arty

7th Division (Docturov - Decisive): 3 bases Infantry SK0 (Veteran), 2 bases Dragoons (Trained)

3rd Division (Sacken - Capable): 3 bases Infantry SKo (Veteran)

n.b. A base represents a battalion of 500 - 600 or so infantry, or 200 - 350 cavalry, or 6-8 guns

The Set-Up

Davout's Corps advances through the woods at the bottom right towards Golymin, held by Prince Golitsyn's forces.  Docturov's Division is approaching from the top-right

Same position, different angle

Meanwhile Murat's Reserve Cavalry Corps advances from bottom-left.  Augerau's Corps is advancing down the road from the top-left.

The view from behind Murat on the hill overlooking Golymin

And the view from behind Augerau

 The Battle:

Murat's Cavalry advances; Augerau's light cavalry pushed down the road towards Golymin

Davout's infantry advances gingerly through and around the woods below Golymin: the Russian defence line here is strong! Docturov has moved very smartly to reinforce the flank of the Russian line

Morand's infantry from Davout's Corps pushes out of the woods

Augerau's Corps masses and begins to re-deploy into its attack formation, with infantry and cavalry working in close concert

Aling the line of battle, the first clashes begin

One can see at the top that a smart charge by Docturov's veterans has pushed Morand's troops back into the woods

Augerau's infantry advances with great boldness, pushing back some of Sacken's veteran infantry into its cavalry supports.  The knocked over single figures indicate the progressive demoralisation of the Russian infantry and cavalry.

Friant's infantry attacks to the left of the woods but a sharp counter-attack, led by Prince Golitsyn in person, throws the Frenchmen back

French reinforcements quickly move to secure Friant's position

Not a very clear shot unfortunately but a very clear result! Golitsyn's charge has worked and has broken the French division!  Note that he moved to advance his second brigade nearest the woodline after the first brigade was halted by vicious French fire.  This attack in echelon proved successful

The wider position: the Russians have nearly broken the link between Murat and Davout and have confined the latter to the wood; Augerau on the left however has made good progress

Golitsyn unstoppable! He leads his men in the rout of some French Dragoons who tried to delay him

Augerau's attack develops: increasing pressure is put on the Russian infantry, but Sacken just manages to keep hold of his men.  To the left however, the French infantry is calmly and methodically pushing back the Russian cuirassiers who oppose them and the Russian flank is starting to be turned...

Punch and counter-punch: Docturov leads an attack on the woods which succeeds in part and some of his grenadiers break-in: however a ferocious French counter-attack breaks a Russian battalion and sends the other rearwards

Same position, different shot

Sacken has stabilized the situation on the road leading to the town: however the flanking French infantry is pushing back the Russian cuirassiers on the flank in considerable disorder...

Morand's counter-attack from the wood has enjoyed great success and a second Russian battalion has been routed here.  Russian dragoons form a new line to try and delay the victorious French infantry.  Meanwhile one can see that the French infantry have reached the stream (top-left) and routed the Russian cuirassiers who were opposing them.  Will Golymin be encircled entirely?!

A Russian reserve brigade forms up to the left of the town to attempt to stabilize the situation

Despite the severe casualties in his division, Docturov is able to retain the control of the units at hand and advances in to the forest, breaking the French infantry opposing him.  Davout quickly supervises the forming of a second line

Russian artillery and jaegers re-deploy to face the threat of Morand's advancing infantry

The Russian infantry push the flanking French forces back at the point of their bayonets! Augerau deploys his brigades prior to restarting his attack

Russian infantry, again led by Golitsyn in person crash into the woods and put Morand's infantr under severe pressure.

Attack and counter-attack above Golymin.  Both sides are in severe disarray!  Notice that a French column is threatening the right of Sacken's main defensive line.  That general has hastily put a battalion in its path to protect the disordered and shaken Russian cavalry

Sacken and the Russian reserves get the upper hand against Augerau's infantry!  Note the French infantry running away through the stream (top-left)

The position at the end of the battle on the left:  despite severe pressure, the Russians have stabilized the line

Meanwhile, in the woods, the Russian infantry led by Prince Golitsyn and General Docturov have defeated the Frenchmen: Davout's Corps is defeated!

It is sauve qui peut for Morand's units.
 The Result:

I halted the battle at this point, deciding that Murat and Augerau would decline to renew their attack after the defeat of Davout's Corps and the heavy losses of infantry which had been suffered.  The Russians too had suffered heavy casualties but their formations had held on and there was now little prospect of a French victory, but every prospect of a crushing defeat.

Game Notes:

A very interesting and tense battle.  It took longer than usual, perhaps just over 3 hours of game time.  I think the reason for this was that both sides proved quite resilient in their morale rolls, as well as the battle being very even.  It really could have gone either way until very late on!  For those familiar with my methods of playing solitaire, the base tempo points were as follows:

Galitsyn 4 (Plodding) + 6 formations = 10 points (roll D8)
Murat 6 (Decisive) + 3 formations = 9 points (roll D8)
Davout 6 (Decisive) + 3 formations = 9 points (roll D8)
Augerau 5 (Capable) + 3 formations = 8 points (rollD6)

The French forces were treated as separate armies due to the disjointed nature of the French force.  If playing again, I may treat them as a single force commanded by Murat.  I don't think this was telling in the French defeat here: if anything, the Russian splitting of the French line early on would have been crippling for Davout's Corps.  What did make a difference was having many of the commanders stuck in the woods for large periods of the battle: this (realistically) reduced the command and control ability of the armies as the generals were out-of-sight of many of their subordinates.
I felt that both orders of battle were a little "flat", in particular the French.  Their lack of veteran troops and expert skirmishers was a critical weakness - and to be frank, not weaknesses normally associated with the French in 1806! Additionally, the commanders' ratings are arguable, to say the least.
As ever, the Polemos General de Division rules gave a good game, full of command difficulties and abstracting in the right places.

Game played on a 5'x3' table.  Figures by Baccus, and buildings by Timecast I think.  Incidentally, there were about 1500 figures on the table: that is why I love 6mm for big battles! You can get lots of figures on a very average sized dining table and play a game that gets a result in a short time. 

Saturday 16 July 2016

The Battle of Ellendun 825AD

The Battle of Ellendun 825AD:
This battle was based on the Battle of Ellendun scenario written by Guy Halsall in Miniature Wargames 021:

The Scenario:
The West Saxons were outnumbered in this battle, so they were given eight DBA elements against a full 12 elements of the Mercians.  However, the Mercians were at a -1 for being thirsty and -1 for being tired.  They could remove the -1 by spending a turn drinking at the stream if unopposed and (only) then remove the -1 for being tired by spending a turn doing nothing.

Wessex men at the top, Mercians at the bottom, separated by the stream

 The battle lines clash: the Mercians try to clear the stream so they can drink from it, but the Wessexmen have no intention of letting them do it unopposed

The fighting continues.  The Wessex archers defend the village crossing against a group of Mercian warriors

The Mercians begin to fall back, some groups of warriors have been eliminated already

The Mercians collapse utterly!!
A very swift and easy Wessex victory.  The Mercians outnumbered the Wessexmen but the combined effects of thirst and fatigue more than swung the balance in favour of the southerners.  The Mercians lost seven(!) bases, which is massive in the context of these rules.

Game Notes:
The additional factors did seem to simulate the Mercian condition accurately, as the results of the refight seem quite similar to those of the real battle.  The battle took just over 30 minutes to play out on a 3'x2' board.  The DBA 3.0 rules were used, with troops chosen from list III/24a. I wouldn't recommend this scenario as I did it for head-to-head play: it is too difficult for the Mercians to win unless they can get at least some of their troops watered and rested before they get into combat.
Figures from Baccus 6mm.