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 March 2024

Kampfgruppe Heller Battle 09, Poland

Next up in my refight of Just Jack's classic Kampfgruppe von Klink campaign comes battle 09. In this action, the Polish force is attacking eastwards, trying to break-out of the pocket before the vice becomes too tight..

As ever in this series of games, I am using it to test the Gummipanzergrenadier rules.

The Forces:

The Germans:
Company Command: 1 x Armoured car and command section
1 M/C Platoon: 3 x Sections (belt-fed LMG and bolt-action rifles, inc. 1 x Comd section)
2M/C  Platoon: 3 x Sections (belt-fed LMG and bolt-action rifles, inc. 1 x Comd section)
Panzer Platoon: 2 x Panzer II, 1 x Panzer I

The Polish:
Company Command: 1 x Truck and command section, 1 x MMG
2 x Rifle platoons: 3 x Sections (BAR and bolt-action rifles, inc. 1 x Comd section), 1 x 46mm mortar, 1 x ATR
1 x Tank platoon: 2 x 7TP  tanks

I think I also gave the Poles a 4-gun battery of 75mm guns in indirect support, with the FOO attached to the Company Command group. It has been a while since I actually played this one, but I think I put a very strict ammunition limit on it to reflect the unfavourable operational situation.

 The Set-Up:

Okay, the shadows falling a bit too heavily to see much! On the German side (right), you can see the armoured column (bottom right) and the infantry platoon around the buildings

Another shot; if you stare really hard at the top-left, you can just see the Poles...

A better shot; Polish infantry on both sides of the road; with the two tanks just having crossed the ford.

German infantry around the buildings, with more mounted on motorcycles on the road, just arriving (top)

The Battle:

The battle begins with the motorcycle platoon being engaged by Polish machine gun fire; suffering some immediate losses, the survivors dismount

The Poles were firing from the treelines (left); as they open up, the Germans around the buildings respond in kind (right)

Some accurate German fire eliminates the Polish MMG

The Polish armour (centre) and the other Polish rifle platoon (left) move forward

A German tank, at the edge of the buildings, opens fire on the Polish armour but misses. The 7TPs do pull back out of sight

The Poles are getting distinctly the worst of this firefight! MG34s are just better than BARs...

Polish indirect fire tries to make life uncomfortable, or better, impossible, for the German defenders

Meanwhile, the Polish infantry sneak through the woods

The Polish tanks manage to eliminate more of the dismounted German motorcyclists, who had been pinned in the open since very early in the action

The German armour on the road behind the buildings

The Polish tanks force the survivors of the German's 2 Platoon to run for better cover! (top-right)

A tank from each side gets knocked out in very quick succession; the lead Polish tank (top) is knocked out by a Panzer II hidden at the far end of the buildings, but one of the German tanks (right) is knocked out by a Polish ATR

The Polish infantry has knocked out one of the Panzers (right), but the other two are in more safety behind the buildings

The Polish supports fire off the last of their shells to attempt to neutralize the German defenders around the buildings...

...but most of the Germans survive and redeploy - cutting down a few Polish riflemen as they tried to cross the gap - and crucially, the ATR. The Poles have no realistic prospect of success, now.

The Polish infantry retires through the woods

They should get away - note the other Polish tank withdrew (top-left)

 Game Notes:

Another good fun game. It differed a lot in character from Just Jack's game beacuse of the early destruction of the Polish MMG. This gave the German defenders the upper hand in the infantry combat and the Poles were always unlikely to win the armour battle. The aggressive Polish tank attack worked to some degree in creating shock amongst the Germans, but the German armour managing to knock out one essentially won the game for the Germans.
To try and stop individual platoons fighting to the last soldier/vehicle, I instituted a non-rule '50% rule', as an old standby, to stop the optimal strategy in previous games of fighting on and on. I won't say it wasn't realistic because it did seem to reflect things a little better than having no rule at all, but it did have the unfortunate effect of when the first Polish tank got knocked out, that was the end of that support! Ho hum.
Anyway, good fun had by all (i.e. me!). The rules seemed to work fine, the subtleties of the infantry and artillery combat are a joy.
Figures by Baccus 6mm, Heroics & Ros and Scotia, buildings by Leven and Battlescale. A kind commenter on an earlier post has let me know that H&R do have WW2 Polish infantry now, including the distinctive platoon mortar, which might be worth a look.

Thursday 28 March 2024

Hobby Update - 28th March 2023

 It has been a super-busy time and no mistake! Lots of work things going on, lots of family times, it has been quite tough-going. Unusually for me, it hasn't impacted too much on the gaming, but it has seemed to effect the painting side more.

 In January, I was working on some US paratroopers from Warlord for my youngest son. As usual, my painting is very average, but the figures are nice and kind of carried them through. My son seemed happy enough, in any case!

Next up, some 6mm Dutch from Baccus for the War of the Spanish Succession. And as befits that army, no more than half of them are Dutch...there are Scots, Swiss, Huguenots and Nassauers in amongst them...I mainly used a combination of the Kronstadt website and Mark Allen's old Wargames Illustrated articles to guide me; hopefully that isn't too awful a choice! I know that real afficianados should be buying Robert Hall's stuff, but since this project has a touch of the imagi-nations about it, I didn't want to pay more for the reference guide than I did for the army...

Next up, some buildings from 2D6 Wargaming, before they very sadly closed down - these are some of their Normandy buildings. They were still a work-in-progress at this stage, but good looking buildings will always find a use!

 Next, some Baccus WW2 US artillery, 105s and 155s. More nice models, and very important if you need to get a game at slightly higher command levels.

More figures for my youngest: Perry Mahdists. Again, really great figures, and not too complicated to paint. My youngest seemed pretty happy...

More Perrys for my youngest. This time, Agincourt-era Mounted Knights. I can really not do these justice, but they were nice all the same. I used the horse painting guide from Henry Hyde's Wargaming Compendium in a step-by-step wat for the first time, and it did make the horses slightly better, with more convincing socks and face markings and so on.

 And then to accompany them, the Agincourt Foot Knights:

Very repetitive I know, but same again: delightful figures, painting not so hot, but niceness of the figures shines through anyway. And the son seemed to like them too!

I have a feeling there are a couple of bits and pieces of 6mm stuff I may have forgotten to put on, but I am sure I will remember at some point! In any case, I have finished the stuff that my son had wanted me to do for him, so next painting phase will be more me-focused. In no particular order, the main 'themes' are:

6mm WW2 Vehicles and Infantry (more German vehicles and Volksturm, some US Paras)
6mm WSS/Horse & Musket (just 'bits and pieces' really, filling in gaps where I would like a new unit)
6mm Byzantines (whole army to paint up)
6mm Napoleonics (more gap fillers, particularly Confederation of the Rhine units)
6mm Ancients (a couple of minor gap fillers - e.g. some Cataphracts)
6mm SF (more gap fillers)
15mm Cold War (some militia and terrorists, plus some East Germans)
28mm Heroquest figures, plus a few historical fillers (e.g. Napoleonic French Dragoons, Vikings)
So more than enough to be getting on with, even if it is only the Byzantines who individually constitute a big project.

I have prioritized gaming over painting, and to some extent blogging. I am just over halfway through the Napoleonic campaign I am running with my two fantastic volunteer generals - it has been a lot of fun (for me at least), really interesting (I have a lot to write about how much I have learned whilst doing it) and has also generated a few exciting tabletop encounters. I guess depending on how we pace it, there is another 1-2 months left in this one, and I am beginning to think what the next one would look like. Additionally, there are a couple more Kampfgruppe Heller encounters for Gummipanzergrenadier playtesting to write up, a couple more Napoleonic scenario playtests to report on and a couple more 'Neil Thomas-esque' scenarios that I have played. I have a couple of days off over Easter, that might give me a chance to catch up!


Tuesday 26 March 2024

Segovia 1808: A Polemos General de Division refight

The next playtest battle I had a go at from Michael Hopper's forthcoming volume on the Spanish side of the Peninsular War is an action I wasn't very aware of, the taking of Segovia by the French on 6th June 1808. Their main objective apparently was to secure the large quantity of cannon that were in storage at the Royal Military Academy. I am not sure which account Michael based the battle on, so I won't comment on any historical issues here. I used Polemos General de Division for the game again.

For the detailed forces, you will have to get Michael's book, when it is released. For my version of his scenario, I used the following:
Imperial France:
C-in-C: General Frere (Capable)
8-9 bases of Infantry, 1 base of Artillery (8pdr Foot)

C-in-C: General Cabellos (Poor)
8 bases of Infantry, 1 base of Artillery (8pdr Foot)

The Spanish were all Raw SK0. The French had 2 bases of Trained SK2 infantry, 2 bases of Trained SK1 infantry, and four-five bases of Raw SK1 infantry. The French Raw infantry were distinctly less Raw than the Spanish, so an intermediate category between Raw and Trained would be most suitable, if there is design space in your rules. In Shako 1st Edition I would probably have gone for 'Second Rate'.
My calculations had the French with 9 bases but for some reason, I only put 8 on the table. I just can't remember why I did that!

The slopes around the Alcazar castle onn the high ground are impassable. The river can only be crossed at the bridges or ford.

The Set-Up:

The Imperials advance from the bottom-right, with the Spanish defending the town.

A closer look at Segovia.

And at the French.  The better Frenh troops are concentrated on the left, the Legion of Reserve battalions are on the right (I had forgotten to put the artillery out at this part of the set-up, but it does arrive before the battle)!

The Battle:

The French attack on their right, towards the furthest slope this the first time the Fusiliers of this Legion of the Reserve have heard the pas du charge in anger? One would have thought so...

'All the soldiers of Europe believe that no enemy can withstand their bayonets, and they are all correct' - the French infantry successfully push the Spaniards back - this threatens the Spanish guns, which had been preventing the remaining French units from supporting the attack

Like so - the remaining French are still struggling to get forward, not fancying the accuracy of the Spanish gunnery

The Spaniards counter-attack to try and restore the situation

The struggle is intense, with Spanish casualties mounting in particular...

until they can resist no more, and are pushed back deeper into the town

Some of the leading Spanish units run, some surrender; the French reform a little, ready for the next stage of the advance

It is slow going for the 15th Light and 2nd Swiss, trying to get forward

But eventually they get close enough to launch an attack

The Spanish infantry are hard-pressed in front, then the remaining French begin their attack toward their left-rear...

At this point, the Spanish infantry break and run! However, the Spanish artillery has sent the 15th Light recoiling back (bottom-right)

However, the advance of the Reserve Legion has penned the Spaniards still fighting back around the castle, whilst the remainder who haven't surrendered, have fled over the ford

Game Notes:

Another neat, good fun game; relatively straightforward for the French, but then it was in real life too.  The French need ideally to find a point where the defence is just a bit more awkwardly arranged and thus a bit easier to exploit. The Spanish weren't a total walkover - the photos perhaps don't show very well that some of the infantry fights were very close, as well as the Spanish artillery keeping the best French troops out of the battle for the whole game! Troops crowded into built-up areas are not always in the optimal position for defence, as recoils and fall back results tend to disorder more of the supports, weakening morale overall (mechanically in Polemos General de Division increasing the chances of a formation morale collapse, as a regiment or division gives up, even though some of its constituent units were still relatively undamaged). This seems to reflect reality rather well, with its great asymmetries of casualties suffered between units in the same battle: defeat is as much down to the situation as losses. As ever, although they are mechanically similar in many ways, the difference between the close combat/morale-based General de Division rules and the firepower based Ruse de Guerre is quite stark sometimes! In GdD, you have to attack with bayonet or sabre for really decisive results, or hope that your opponent will tackle your steady infantry line head on, ideally uphill. These are the only ways. Sure, maybe your artillery might help to make a weak point, but that's it. In Ruse de Guerre, you will wait until your artillery or skirmishers have made an actual dent in the enemy's line before you attack.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings are a mixture of Battlescale and Leven.