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.

Monday 11 March 2019

29, Let's Go! Campaign - Mission 5: Home Run at Osmanville

The last mission in the 29, Let's Go! campaign is an attack on the local German HQ located as Osmanville.

This headquarters location has been identified by local French people.  Capturing it will spell the end of resistance in this area and the US forces will be able to complete their drive forward to Isigny.

The Forces:
The last mission of the campaign takes us back to the main line of advance, so a weakened German platoon is used: it is down to two sections, with a single figure platoon leader.  As always in this campaign, a separate US infantry platoon is involved, so it starts at full strength.

United States:
Pl HQ:1 x Rifle group (Pl HQ); 1 x Bazooka team
3 x Squads: 2 x Rifle groups, 2 x LMG groups (BARs)
2 x Shermans
1 x FOO with a battery of 4 x 81mm mortars on call
1 x additional Bazooka team

n.b. As discussed in the previous mission, the organization of US infantry in these rules will very much depend upon how the player feels about the BAR.  This mission uses BARs as light machine guns, with two per squad according to typical 29th Division practice.

1 x Rifle group (Pl HQ): 1 x Officer (single-figure)
2 x Sections: 2 x Rifle groups; 1 x LMG team
1 x Hiwi section: 2 x Rifle groups (additional -1 on any reaction tests)
1 x Sniper
1 x FOO with a battery of 4 x 8cm mortars on call
1 x MG42 (tripod-mounted) team
1 x IG18 and crew
1 x Pak38 and crew
1 x Pak40 and crew

The Germans are generated randomly from this list.

The Set-Up:

The battlefield.  The US forces will approach from the East (right) again.  In the scenario the large field (top-centre) is full of "Rommel's Asparagus" but I don't have any suitable models.  The lines of stones are replacing drainage ditches (since I don't have suitable terrain to hand)

An overhead, with  East (bottom)
The Battle:

The GIs poke forward, with armour in support...

A German gun opens up (okay, it is a mortar pretending to be an IG18...)

A wider view

The leading group of GIs is eliminated by the HE fire

Germans fire from the building on the right; those US troops not suppressed return fire

Some good US shooting persuades the German survivors to withdraw to the next building (left)

The US continue their cautious advance

"Before I could say, don't step on the mine..." luckily the GIs avoided a mine left in the garden

The US creep forward, suppressing the Germans in the other building (off picture, to the left)

A German section hidden to the flank opens fire!

Another view.  Luckily for the GIs, they are suppressed rather than killed

Superior US firepower is again employed - the German section's MG42 is put out of action (these Germans broke and ran soon after)

The remnants of the leading German section retreat in the face of overwhelming odds!

A concealed MG42 opens up!!

Luckily the US are again suppressed, rather than killed...

GIs enter the stone building and the Sherman continues to roll forward in support

The isolated German riflemen are killed or taken

And the flanking MG42 is destroyed too!

Nearly there!  The US resume their advance, attempting to cross the road...

When a group of concealed Hiwis suddenly opens up at close range!  Eight GIs are down in moments...

Return fire from the Sherman and supporting infantry kills half of the Hiwis in seconds and the others run off (centre-left, in woods)

Ever so near to their objective, the US infantry spot a concealed German AT gun... (top)

The crew are eliminated in short order and the advance continues

The position is taken and cleared!
US: 3 KIA, 7 WIA
Germans: 6 KIA, 16 WIA (inc. 9 POW)

Game Notes:
A fittingly ferocious end to the campaign.  The US have done pretty well, and it scores as a "major victory", although they have suffered appreciable losses - especially in armour - and some delays during the campaign.  Roughly 45% of the local German infantry have been given time to escape, but all the artillery has been isolated and abandoned or captured.  I don't actually think I have much different to say about this one which wouldn't repeat things I have mentioned previously in the series.
The main things I want to work on rules-wise are to improve the resilience of the defenders.  To that end, I am going to spend a little more time refining the Treat Generation System and I am also going to incorporate a withdrawal mechanism for suppressed troops, so that if they have a covered retreat, they can choose to retreat or halt if pinned, as appropriate to the morale result.  This will make it more difficult for the attacker to pin and destroy defenders, whereas attackers will still be vulnerable when stepping out into the open.  Perhaps I may submit my revised system as a magazine article, if it can be put into a shape I am fully happy with.
All-in-all, I think it has been a really good campaign to get my newly-painted Baccus 6mm WW2 Americans to the table.  It provided some very tight, intense, fascinating games - I enthusiastically recommend this Too Fat Lardies' pint-sized campaign!

Many thanks to those who have followed and commented on this series of reports.

Rules as ever were WRG 1925-50, figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Leven miniatures.

Sunday 10 March 2019

29, Let's Go! Campaign - Mission 4: The Radar Station at Cardonville

Having successfully cleared one flank in the previous mission, the plucky GIs of the 175th are now tasked with clearing the other flank, in the next installment of the TooFatLardies' 29, Let's Go! campaign.

As in the last mission, both the US attackers and the German defenders come from different companies within their respective formations, so both sides start with full strength platoons (although the US have much more support, as usual).

The Set-Up:
Despite, the name there is no radar station on the board(!) - it is just "off-screen", top-left.  The buildings are at the eastern edge of the village of Cardonville.

The battlefield.

Another view.

And an overhead.  The US will approach from the East (right).
The Battle:
The US advance in 3 colums, with supporting armour.

Another view.

Quiet?  Too quiet.  The GIs cross the empty field cautiously, advancing by rushes, but do not encounter anything...until suddenly they are opened up on by a small cannon! (bottom-left)

A German FOO at the edge of the orchard waits to call in a mortar strike if the US advance down the main road...

As the US advance through the southern orchard, they are spotted and fired upon by a German section...

Four GIs become casualties

An MG42(left)  opens up on US infantry moving through the central orchard, and they are spotted by the FOO team too (top)

The remainder of the lead US squad are in the building but hold their fire, watching the advancing German section

The unfortunate US infantry in the centre orchard are pinned by a combination of MG42 and mortar fire - and spot a Pak40 too!

The central orchard is not a comfortable bit of real estate for the GIs at the minute - they are currently more frightened than hurt, however

One of the Shermans trundles down the road to lend some fire support

Concentrated fire from the second Sherman and the US infantry are making life literally impossible for the German section to the south

The Pak40 settle the argument as to whether the tank or anti-tank gun is more effective...

another view

Some of the US infantry manage to silence the gun immediately afterwards, however!

The MG42 team are killed and this flank is cleared; the remainder of the Germans retreat!
US: 1 x Sherman, 4 x KIA, 8 x WIA
Germans: 6 x KIA, 13 x WIA (all POWs)

Game Notes:
Although the US did accomplish their mission, the Germans fought well in this scenario.  By my reckoning the US have lost 5 tanks in the campaign so far!  What did for the Germans in this scenario is that they didn't generate early enough in force, so the US troops managed to get quite far into the position before being seriously threatened.  The US were pretty lucky not to lose anyone to the mortar bombardment too, although the unlucky squad did spend most of its time burrowed in the dirt.  Regardless, the balance of these factors meant that the German platoon collapsed quicker than the US one.  The cumulative morale loss factor of each lost element is the basic currency of this game: once a platoon has lost 5-6 elements, then it is pretty much done.  The usual way I play is to consider each side as a single 'large' platoon, although an argument could be made that the infantry and armour especially should be considered different platoons.  I am unsure as to which is best, but at the moment I naturally have concluded that considering it as a single large platoon is more realistic than not (otherwise losses of tanks would have little morale effect on the infantry and vice-versa).

And, by way of contrast to all the above, here is the Lardies' own version!

As ever, WRG 1925-50 Armour & Infantry rules, Baccus 6mm figures, Leven buildings.

Thursday 7 March 2019

29, Let's Go! Campaign - Mission 3: Flanking St. Germain-du-Pert

Having been exposed to the deadly fire of a couple of "mobile 88s" in the ill-fated first attack on Arthenay, the US Colonel orders a platoon with armour support to clear the flank to a ensure that the main column can move down the road towards Isigny unmolested by deadly flanking fire. 

In this next mission in the Too Fat Lardies' 29, Let's Go! campaign, the US troops must clear the area and take and hold the small village to ensure the continuation of the advance.  Since Arthenay was taken in the last action, further progress hinges on this coming attack...

The Forces:
A separate German unit is defending along this line, so the defending German platoon is at full strength.  As always in this campaign, a separate US infantry platoon is involved.

United States:
Pl HQ:1 x Rifle group (Pl HQ); 1 x Bazooka team
3 x Squads: 2 x Rifle groups, 2 x LMG groups (BARs)
2 x Shermans
1 x FOO with a battery of 4 x 81mm mortars on call
1 x additional Bazooka team

n.b. As discussed in the previous mission, the organization of US infantry in these rules will very much depend upon how the player feels about the BAR.  For this mission, I have resumed classifying the BAR as a light machine gun.

1 x Rifle group (Pl HQ); 1 x Panzerschrek team
3 x Sections: 2 x Rifle groups; 1 x LMG team
1 x Hiwi section: 2 x Rifle groups (additional -1 on any reaction tests)
1 x Sniper
1 x FOO with a battery of 4 x 8cm mortars on call
1 x MG42 (tripod-mounted) team
1 x IG18 and crew
1 x Pak38 and crew
1 x Pak40 and crew
2 x Marders

The Germans are generated randomly from this list.

The Set-Up:

The battlefield.  The village of St. Germain du Pret is to the top-left, the US infantry can approach from the bottom or right-hand sides, the US armour has to enter on the road (top-right)

An overhead view.

A closer look at the village.
The Battle:
The US infantry advance...

A German HMG team covers the open ground...

US infantry and armour gingerly approach the edge of the village, but have not yet encountered any opposition (or noticed the German HMG team)..."have the Krauts bugged out?", the US Loot asks himself...

A shot of the empty battlefield..6mm troops do blend in quite well, don't they?

A single German sniper has seen the US advance..

but waits for a better moment...

The US platoon concentrates at the edge of town...

Suddenly a couple of Germans open up (top-right!)  It is the German Platoon Commander, obviously caught in a bad position (the reason for this will be apparent later...)

Tanks and infantry suppress the Germans...but the German HMG team then suppresses the leading US troops (top-left)!

A closer look

Meanwhile, the lead section has pushed into some gardens...

...and towards the church, when the rattle of fire breaks out from the sturdy grey house!

Followed by a huge explosion as a Panzerfaust knocks out the lead Sherman!

Having despatched the German platoon commander, the US move on to suppressing and assaulting the German HMG team...

The German section is still holding out in the building: the US troops have suffered some casualties around the church...

Another German section opens up from the other flank!!!

Suppression from automatic and tank gun fire lets the GIs close in on the defended building...already half the defenders have become casualties from some good US shooting...

The US BAR team was caught and killed, but the rest of the US squad has managed to get into the buildings and is returning fire...

A wider perspective...

Suddenly, a German SP gun opens up from the rear!! (Presumably the German Platoon Commander had been visiting this position previously and had been caught between it and his platoon at just the wrong moment!)

The second Sherman is knocked out!  However a lucky Bazooka shot brews up the SP gun in return!!!!

The Bazooka team look over the carnage from the top of the church tower...

The scene at the end of the battle.  The German in the grey building (top-left have been neutralized).  The Germans to the South (out of shot, bottom) have withdrawn since they have realized that the US troops are firmly ensconced in the village.
US: 2 Shermans, 3 KIA, 7 WIA
Germans: 1 Marder, 4 KIA, 14 WIA (inc. 9 POW)

Game Notes:
That looked as if it was going to be a cakewalk, then a total disaster, but in the end the US just hung on to claim victory - the loss of another element would probably have sent it the other way, so the crucial element here was that the US shooting was just a little better than that of the Germans, plus the fact that only one of the German SP guns was activated.
The Threat Generation System continues to give a really good framework for solo gaming, although I have begun to modify and develop it quite extensively now.  The key thing I am thinking about is exemplified by the German HMG and the sniper in that last mission: the TGS generated them in a 'possible' position (if the generated position is impossible, then I ignore it e.g. a unit with 20m of a US element is not possible in the context of the rules, so that card just gets shuffled back into the deck) but not an 'optimal' position for opening fire.  I solve this problem by not opening fire - I don't want to give myself as the US player cheap wins - but of course, as a player I 'know' where the HMG is.  I can roleplay not knowing where it is, and I think that I did so fairly in the game, but that isn't as good as generating it in a position where the AI can fight with it straight away.  A few possibilities suggest themselves:

A: Just ignore the result and shuffle it back in the pack.  This would be okay, but it doesn't work very well for attack/defend scenarios (since a 'non-generation' card is a good result for the active player).  Maybe I need to re-draw until I get a legitimate 'non-event' or a legitimate enemy unit.

B: Modify the generation table so that there is more emphasis on generating enemy units in positions where they can see friendly troops and it would make sense to open fire.  This has the possibility of accidentally creating an unwinnable game though (because the enemy would be carrying out perfect ambushes 75% of the time).

C: Have a "main defence point" so that any enemy forces generated in unsuitable positions are instead generated in the most critical area for the enemy (and not worry about the foreknowledge, since these troops are in the area most likely to be defended heavily anyway).

Anyway, more good fun, and more coming soon!

Rules were WRG 1925-50, figures by Baccus 6mm and GHQ, buildings by Leven.