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.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Death of 1 Tyneside Scottish - Escape from Ficheux

Escape From Ficheux:

This Nuts! scenario follows on from the Death of Tyneside Scottish I game, which re-fought in slightly stylized fashion the destruction of 1 Bn Tyneside Scottish at the hands of 8 Panzer Division in May 1940.  Although entirely finished as an organized unit, some survivors did escape and headed Northwest for what they imagined were the British lines, although I think a route bearing slightly NE of North might have served them better in reality.  Be that as it may, some of the groups managed to evade capture for a day or two, although no-one is known to have escaped in the end.

To recreate this, I put together this even more stylized scenario with the battalion commander (Lt-Col Swinburne), his command party and some elements of A Company trying to sneak/break through the German patrols to reach safety.  Because toy soldier world is more forgiving than real life, any Tynesiders who escape are deemed to reach intact British units and get to Dunkirk...

The Forces:
Lt-Col Swinburne, Rep 5, Revolver
RSM, Rep 5, Rifle
Adjutant, Rep 4, Rifle, Grenades

1 Sect / 1 Platoon / A Company:
Corporal, Rep 4, Rifle, Grenades
Bren Gunner, Rep 4, LMG
3 Riflemen, Rep 4, Rifle, Grenades
4 Riflemen, Rep 3, Rifle, Grenades

2 Sect / 1 Platoon / A Company:
Lance-Corporal, Rep 4, Rifle, Grenades
Rifleman, Rep 4, Rifle, Grenades
2 Riflemen, Rep 3, Rifle, Grenades

The Germans:
Investment Level: 5
All Germans are considered to be Rep 4
All Germans have "Patrol" orders

Other Scenario Rules:
British troops who go off the German side of the table are deemed to have escaped
There are no random booby traps or bombardments (ignore if generated)
The starting positions of the three British groups are randomly generated between the three starting zones.  The command group starts on turn 1, roll a D6 each for the other two groups to determine the turn number  when they arrive.

The Set-Up:

A patch of wooded farmland to the Northwest of FICHEUX.  The British will enter from the South (Right)

View through the woods from the German side of the table

Note the slope going up towards the centre of the German baseline (centre to left)
The Fight:

Swinburne and his command group move stealthily on the slope of the far hill to avoid any prying eyes in the building...

And move forward as far as they dare

1 Section patrols forward on the other side of the board

Swinburne moves forward, identifies German infantry in the stables (left) then ducks back before being seen (top-right)

1 Section patrol up to the edge of the patch of woodland

Swinburne is joined by the remnants of 2 Section

Whilst 1 Section takes up ambush positions at the hedge line whilst waiting for all of their men to form up

The British try to advance towards the stables but are spotted...

The sound of the MG34 rips the air...fortunately for the Tynesiders, without any effect, but the lead man is driven back into cover

The sound of the MG34 brings a German patrol forward...

"Corp...a jerry patrol!"

1 Section's Bren and Lee-Enfields open up, killing the German section commander and driving the MG34 team to seek cover in the woods

Taking advantage of the temporary advantage, 1 Section's Corporal tells the blokes in his rifle group to leg it over the open ground into the woods beyond!

Whilst his gun group continue to pummel the German section - a second man goes down (right)

The RSM takes charge: advancing, he gets the drop on the Germans - although he misses, his fire is close enough to briefly silence the German machinegun...

"That's the style, RSM", shots Swinburne as he and the Adj run forward and get to the hedgeline, and the RSM runs after them

Drawing breath for a second, Swinburne hears what he most feared...

...the clank of tracks!

1 Section notices it too!

Although the first men are across the hedge into the second wood

1 Section's gun group continues to lay down covering fire

Although the Panzer's machinegun cuts down one of the 1 Section riflemen, caught in the open

At least one survivor will make it!

The Adjutant throws his grenade, right into the stables...

...with devastating effect! Five of the Germans are killed and wounded and the remainder come pouring out...Swinburne pushes them down the road, knowing that they are in no position to take prisoners

Eeek! Here comes the Panzer...

One of the Tommies is killed instantly

"Go back? Impossible.  Go sideways?  No good at all".  The only thing to do is go on...Swinburne and the Adj advance...

Whilst the RSM and a couple of Tynesiders take cover on the other side of the building, with one slowcoach still catching up!

Swinburne's revolver gets some use at close quarters, and another German goes down (left, in front of hedge)

Whilst the remainder of 1 Section make a break across the fields!

The RSM and one of the Riflemen move forward to support (centre of hedge, hard to see); the fighting now at very close quarters!

The Panzer reverses then gets into a better position

The commander spots 1 section crossing and opens fire...

Another couple of Tynesiders fall

One of the Tynesiders chucked a grenade from the left into the woods, causing a couple of casualties.  The Adjutant then charges forward into the wood, but is knocked out by the German MG34 No.2 (centre)

The Tynesiders sprint to escape the trap (left)...

But the Panzer follows them and opens fire...(note the RSM and a Private by the hedge, centre)

Lt-Col Swinburne falls seriously wounded, only yards from safety...

The RSM and another Tynesider escape, knowing that to stop to help would be to die...

The last 2 section soldier tries to find an alternative way through the wood

Whilst the remainder of 1 Section have almost reached safety

The German infantry spot and shoot the last 2 Section soldier

The Panzer goes against 1 Section again, and fires at the Corporal...

But misses!  The British infantrymen run through the woods

And reach safety!

Game Notes:
Of the 16 Tyneside Scottish, 8 finally reached safety, 4 were killed and 4 were injured and captured.  The Germans lost 3 killed and 6 wounded.  It was an exciting game, I really didn't quite know how it was going to turn out!  I think the luckiest British moment was the grenade throw into the building causing so much damage; the luckiest German moment was generating the Panzer, which caused most of the damage.
Nuts! handles this kind of game very well: it suits this kind of section or two level much better than full platoons (IMHO) because the number and complexity of the in-sight and reaction tests can get a bit out of hand in busy games.  The only comment that I might make is about the lethality of weapons.  Weapons have a damage level ("impact"), and when a hit is scored a D6 is rolled, it is compared to this level.  A '1' kills, greater than 1 and equal to or lower than the damage level is a disabling wound and higher than the impact level is a near miss.  It is certainly a very playable and workable system but it causes some obvious anomalies.
Figures are a mixture of Plastic Soldier Company, Battlefront and Peter Pig.  The Panzer II is by Zvezda.


  1. Another cracking game, but that Panzer turning up must have been a shock for the Brits!

    1. Thanks Steve. Yes, it was a bit of a shock, especially since they didn't have a meaningful weapon to use against it (the Platoon's anti-tank rifle had been lost in the previous scenario)...

  2. Unlucky with the tank, and I think the Brits were lucky otherwise. Facing a few MMGs I would have thought it unlikely that any would make it! After a good job suppressing the first MG, the tank and 2nd MG just seemed to make it a little too hard to push all of the Brits forward.

    I did read your first report and I had a question on it I forgot to pose which was how did you find NUTS! with so many figures? I see that this one has less and you comment it is the sweet spot (reduced platoon). I think this is where NUTS shines - anything from about 1-4 sections seems to work really well.

    1. Hello Shaun,

      I suppose the dynamics of the two fights with the German MGs were mildly interesting. In the case of the squad in the stables, the British command group had higher Reps, so they had a decent chance of winning the insight test, firing first and getting at least a duckback result. The second MG team wasn't hit initially but was again forced into duckback because they were ambushed whilst patrolling by the British section on the far side. It is on the edge between a slight exploit and good play I guess: you can work out the most likely routes (but not timings) that PEFs will take and set up ambushes upon them.
      I think Nuts! works very well from 1-20 figures/side. I think double that is doable but at some cost in both time and head-scratching (from multiple, interlocking in-sight tests).