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Category Archives: Victory Force Miniatures [VFM]

Pegasus Bridge, a Horsa Glider and other things

Pegasus Bridge, a Horsa Glider and other things

As you may know, we wanted to host Pegasus Bridge at Crisis in Antwerp this year (and eventually we did so). Between the three of us we already had a lot of buildings, hedges and so on. But this still required some more terrain.

Not many buildings for the vicinity of the bridge were required, but I wanted some more variation. Since I still had the château from Sarissa Precission around, so that seemed like the natural option. It had been a nice kit to assemble and was a nice kit to paint. If I was to do it again though, I would probably leave the first floor windows and shutters off for easier painting.

French Chateau

French Château

French Chateau

French Château

But we also needed a Horsa Glider for the game. Martin had a model by Grand Manner around. Martin was unsure if he could give it due credit, so I painted it up. I Ieft the landing gear off to me the model fit the scenario since the Gliders used for the attack on Pegasus Bridge all had rough landings and ripped their landing gears off. It was nice enough to airbrush up, but I think the dimensions are somewhat off. The lower hull and underside of the wings were painted in a dark green, the top in camouflage. So I started by doing the camo and then taped the edge off. Which is when I realised that something was amiss. For example I used the forward doors and tail wings as a guide, but under the main wings the lines ended up too low. But I felt this was acceptable, since people could hardly see this spot. So the lower half of the glider was painted in dark green and filters and washes applied. Now I taped off the invasion stripes and again, I noticed that something was not quite right, for there was too little space on tail. In the end the RAF roundels on the tail ended up overlapping the invasion stripes for that reason. To finish things off, I placed chalk markings on the flank saying “Lady Irene” to make it match the glider Major Howard landed in.

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

And up last, the most importer building for the game… the bridge itself. Again this was a Sarissa kit. I had been too lazy to assemble the model, so I bought a model that had already been build and sold my kit on. In retrospect, this did not make things that much easier, since it had not been assembled as clean as I would have done, so I had to do a lot of sanding and so on.

I wanted to keep it in the very light grey of the original, but in the end, this seemed a little bleak to me. So I added rust marks to the model, which gave it a lot more character.

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge

If you want to see some more detail shots of the bridge, those can be found in my post about the British Paras.

In the, it turned out to be quite a nice game. We used the Battlegroup Overlord rules and they worked very well even at this small size. It was especially interesting to see how different tactics played out. If the British went for a defense in depth, it usually went well for the Germans, since they could usually wipe out the British first line of defense (after stumbling into it) and then using the superior range of their SP gun(s) (,depending on how many survived the PIAT,) to destroy the rest. If the British went for a strong first line of defense, the Germans were too weak to protect their SP guns sufficiently and took too many loses to take the bridge. It will be interesting to see how future games play out.

So I am leaving you with a (very) few pictures from the game at Crisis.

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge table

Pegasus Bridge game

Pegasus Bridge game

Pegasus Bridge game

Pegasus Bridge game

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge table

 

 

Our game at Crisis 2015: Battle of Berlin

Our game at Crisis 2015: Battle of Berlin

So, after keeping you all excited for days now, here are the game shots from our Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich  demogame at Crisis this year.

To be honest, it is hard to make a coherent game report out of the game, due to all the chatting with people, explaining the mechanics, answering where the vehicles and models came from and so on. But I will at least try for a very short synopsis:

The Germans were a mixed Battlegroup formed around a nucleus of a Volkssturm platoon, beefed up, by a squad of Hitlerjugend tank hunters, a squad of SS Panzergrenadiere in a halftrack, some Wehrmacht Pioniere, a SS sniper team, a Pantherturm, 8.8cm Pak “Scheunentor”, a Borgward Wanze, a Panther and a Tiger II (Commander).

The Russians had a Platoon of rifles, with Maxim, Ratsch-Boom AT-gun and AT-gun team, an artillery spotter team for their onboard mortars and heavy artillery, a squad of Assault Pioneers, one of Scouts, three T34/85, two JS-II tanks and a lone T-34/76 (Commander).

Julian and I started the game in quite classic fashion. The Germans waiting for the Russians to run into the traps they had laid and the Russian tanks trading were shots with the Tiger and Pantherturm at long-range, while waiting for the infantry to catch up and protect them from the pesky Panzerfäuste.

During this time not much happened. Much like the Demo last year, both of us managed to alternate at rolling bad so we did not take out much with our long-range shots. (The funniest exchange was between the Pantherturm and JS-II who had problems spotting each other and one of the JS finally did and hit, he got a snake eyes for the penetration roll [he would have needed a three on two D6] only to roll a twelve the next round.) The most impressive exchange was the Russian sniper and one of the SS snipers killing each other, which left the lone German sniper to kill one the artillery spotters, pinning the other. When the Russina infantry command was also pinned, this effectively rendered the Russian mortars and Artillery useless (especially since the the participation gamers would continuously forget to unpin them). We also found out that a fanatic squad of Hitlerjugend can well take out a squad of Soviet elite scouts at short-range with their SMGs and a little help from the Panzergrenadiere. And that even with our gods eye view of the battlefield, it is easy to drive a T34 around a corner only to find the road blocked with Czech Hedgehogs and becoming a prime target for a PaK as a result.

Obviously things really picked up once the first participants came and played along, driving their tanks and infantry on without regard for losses. At that time tanks started blowing up all around the table and infantry perished left and right. This was also the first time I saw man-pack flamethrowers in use in the game and boy are they deadly assaulting buildings, especially on a squad sporting a fair amount of SMGs! All in all we had a cracking day and I hope the players had one, too. I will leave you with the pictures!

Der Russe kommt!

Der Russe kommt!

Hitlerjugend tankhunter squad besides destroyed Tiger I

Hitlerjugend tankhunter squad besides destroyed Tiger I

Pantherturm and Volkssturm MG-08 team in the front, Tiger II in the rear

Pantherturm and Volkssturm MG-08 team in the front, Tiger II in the rear

AT-gun position with the Volkssturm command looking on

AT-gun position with the Volkssturm command looking on

SS sniper in one of the tall buildings

SS sniper in one of the tall buildings

The Panterturm again

The Panterturm again

LMG position

LMG position

JS-II advancing

JS-II advancing

T-34s advancing

T-34s advancing

Hiding behind the rubble

Hiding behind the rubble

Hitlerjugend about to take out the Soviet scouts

Hitlerjugend about to take out the Soviet scouts

Russian Pioniere about to assault

Russian Pioniere about to assault

Enemy at the doors

Enemy at the doors

Volkssturm advancing

Volkssturm advancing

The 8.8cm PaK

The 8.8cm PaK

T34-85 taken out by the PaK

T34-85 taken out by the PaK

The end of the Pantherturm

The end of the Pantherturm

Tiger II waiting behind the barricades

Tiger II waiting behind the barricades

 

Battle of Berlin infantry… scraping the barrel

Battle of Berlin infantry… scraping the barrel

So in the effort to catch up with all the stuff done in recent weeks for the battle of Berlin game, here is the first step… the last additions to the German infantry.

After having played WWII for well over a decade now, I have been in the comfortable position not to need too many new miniatures for this years game. Having nearly 300 Russians and more again when it comes to Germans (regular Wehrmacht and SS), there was not much to do there. Except for some of the more uncommon troops that were sadly thrown into the meat grinder during the last weeks of the war.

I know many people have reservations about using these units in their games and for some time I contemplated this as well. But as sad as the use of children and the elderly in fighting units may have been, it is still a part of history. And at the same time, very few of us (as long as we play ancients) have reservations playing Spartans, who were taken for training as soldiers at a far younger age, or Romans, who would eventually sell their vanquished foes as slaves. So I made the decision to use units of Volkssturm and Hitlerjugend in the game as well.

Before I start with the pictures, please note, that some of them have been edited (blue dots) to be in line with German law. Here it is a criminal offense to show certain symbols in public on models and such.

Up first are a few Volkssturm I did about a decade ago, which formed the nucleus for the force (and which I wanted to show for completeness sake). These are all Victory Force miniatures. The NCO wears the uniform of an Allgemeine SS NCO. Probably someone who managed to evade being send to the front all war long and now finds himself leading a squad of Volkssturm during the final days. And who will probably disappear to “get some orders at HQ” when the bullets start to fly. This model is a Wehrmacht mortar operator with his uniform repainted. All the rest of this squad are from the French Resistance line. Some had their headgear converted to make them look less French and more German and all have had the Volkssturm armbands sculpted on.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

Up next are a bunch of vintage Bolt Action Volkssturm miniatures. Always loved the guy with the old WWI Bavarian helmet and was very pleased to finally paint them up, after they collected dust for ages. The guy with the Greatcoat came unarmed, but I felt he did not look like a medic, so he got a Panzerfaust from Victory Force.

It was actually pretty funny when Paul hicks passed by the table at Crisis and actually spotted some of his old Volkssturm and Russian minis.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

Now I needed some numbers to field them as a complete Volkssturm platoon under the Battlegroup rules, so more minis were needed. These days this is easy, with the set from Warlord, although I still needed a Wehrmacht LMG team. So all the minis in the following pictures are by Warlord. Some of these are regular SS or Wehrmacht soldiers, but those either served as NCOs for the platoon or as part of the Panzergrenadier squad also used in the game.

And these later minis are up first. I had some bad luck with the fat SA officer, since the mini was slightly miscast, but Warlord send me a replacement in time. The battle never got close to him on Saturday, but if it had, I bet he would have joined the Allgemeine SS NCO from above to get some new orders at HQ. The NCO in the middle and the soldier with the Luftfaust to his right feature heads from West Wind productions. At one point I had used up all the not-so-cartoonish heads from the Warlord set and had to find something proper. The gas mask on the Luftfaust seemed proper. I know some soldiers operating the Panzerschreck without the blast-shield would wear gas masks to protect against the backblast, so it seemed sensible for this mini as well.

Volkssturm (leaders and NCO)

Volkssturm (leaders and NCO)

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

And now the regular Volkssturm.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

The guys on the left and right got field cap heads from Victory Force. Again, I had only the cartoonish faces left for the set, so this seemed sensible. Plus if you look at the guy on the right, he is sculpted in a way, not a single helmeted head would have fit him. Even with this one, he still looks a bit like Quasimodo. Anyway, between these three, the one in the greatcoat for the vintage Bolt Action set and the one from Great Escape games (see below), there is almost a whole squad in greatcoats, which is nice, too.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

The platoon also needed a HMG and I loved the option to give them a MG-08. Rummaging through my boxes of minis, I found a WWI HMG team from Renegade Miniatures. The size of the minis was right and since they were lying on their bellies, no huge difference in their uniforms could be seen. So I just took their heads off and replaced them with ones from Victory Force. At first I had decided to just paint them in the brownish Feldgrau uniform, to represent the cheap uniforms made with cheap dyes late in the war and given to the Volkssturm. But with their regular headgear and a lack of rank insignia (the lowest Volkssturmmann would not get any) I felt they could still be mistaken for regulars, so the armbands were a late addition.

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

And last, some Hilterjugend (and Flakhelferinnnen). 6 of the boys and girls would form a tank hunter squad, with the rest of them (and the Volkssturmmann) beefing up the numbers of the Volkssturm.

Up first is the set from Great Escape Games, which was easily my favorite from all these minis, for all the character put into the youngsters.

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferin

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferin

And the remaining minis come from the Warlord set once more.

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferinen

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferinen

 

Some Waffen SS (5th Entry, 5th AHPC)

Ok, the end is neigh (regarding the 5th installment of the AHPC) so I felt it was time to get some points added to my tally and fast. So looking through my massive lead pile I found some SS troops that I will need for a demo at a show later this year. That is one thing I like about WWII (compared to Napoleonics or as I had to find out even SciFi minis)… they paint up fast even if wearing camo and even if they have lots of insignia on their uniforms.

SS troopers

SS troopers

Up first are some additions to my infantry. These are not the first SS I have painted, but I had a certain lack (and still do to be honest) with some types of minis. One are normal riflemen without the face late war G43´s or StG-44´s. While most of them are geared towards late war, those weapons still were an exception and not the norm, so here are two soldiers with K-98 carbines (one of them also carrying a magnetic mine). There is also an NCO beefing up the numbers of squad leaders. and last there is one machine gun assistant loaded up with lots of ammo to feed into a a Hitlers buzzsaw (already had that one painted but minus the loader).

SS troopers

SS troopers

I wanted a distinct late war look. So they are wearing Erbsenmuster camo clothing. Now to enhance the rag tag looks many German units had to take on in 1944 and 1945 they are wearing a mix of both mint and faded clothing as well as a mix of camo clothing and field grey clothing.

Another area where I have a distinct lack of minis are gun crews, so I painted up a gun team for a PaK or other light field piece.

SS PaK Crew

SS PaK Crew

 

Again they are wearing a mix of camo clothing in various states of fading and field grey uniforms. This team will eventually see more men in Eichenlaub smocks added to the team (not sure if that will happen during the challenge though). This will add yet more variety to their looks and enable me to field them as a large team. Even though we are using 28mm we play the Battlegroup set of rules which work out really fine at larger scales as well. In Battlegroup a large crew for a gun gives you a chance for an extra shot per round, so that is a nice option to have.

SS PaK Crew

SS PaK Crew

All the minis in this post are from Victory Force and scaled at 28mm.

 

Crisis 2014 – Our game

Crisis 2014 – Our game

OK, now that things have settled in a little bit more, here are some pictures from our very own game at Crisis too.

We did run a demo for Battlegroup: Overlord. All in all the game was quite uneventful. A British unit consisting of two Troops of Shermans, a Troop of Honeys, three sections of Motorized Infantry and the usual support up against German ad hoc defenders from a Wehmacht unit with a few Panzer IV, a Panzer V, a 5cm and 8,8cm PaK each, Infantry and Panzerwerfer. The Brits had to expel the Germans and if possible destroy them. In the end both sides traded shots over the river. The Germans seemed unable to hit the broad side of a barn and the Brits were able to hit, but their shots simply bounced off the German armour (and not just the Panthers armour). All the while the British off-board artillery did a good job at pinning German troops, which in turn did a good job at recovering. In the end the only casualties were a Firefly (which took a direct hit from a Panzerwerfer rocket) and a Sherman taken out on the bridge by a Panzer IV.

Before I give you the pictures, I would like to say thank you, to the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp for running another fabulous show. As usual I am really looking forward to next year. I would also like to thank Julian for being my partner in crime this weekend. Also thanks to all those who stopped by to ask about the game and the nice comments! Also all the friends (not going to mention any names, since there would be more than two dozen and I would not want to miss anyone) who came by or into whom I ran at the show. It was just great chatting to you guys!!!

Crisis 2014 - The whole of the table

Crisis 2014 – The whole of the table

Crisis 2014 - Sherman troop on the move

Crisis 2014 – Sherman troop on the move

Crisis 2014 - Panzerwerfer firing

Crisis 2014 – Panzerwerfer firing

Crisis 2014 - Firefly taken out be a direct hit from a Panzerwerfer

Crisis 2014 – Firefly taken out be a direct hit from a Panzerwerfer

Crisis 2014 - Panzer in defensive positions

Crisis 2014 – Panzer in defensive positions

Crisis 2014 - British Shermans driving up to the bridge passing the burning Firefly

Crisis 2014 – British Shermans driving up to the bridge passing the burning Firefly

Crisis 2014 - Moving up to engage

Crisis 2014 – Moving up to engage

Crisis 2014 - A bridge too far for this Sherman

Crisis 2014 – A bridge too far for this Sherman

 

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR (somewhere in Germany)

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR (somewhere in Germany)

Friday I finally wanted to give my newly painted British an outing, so Julian, Martin, his son Max and I met for a game of Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich.

Martin and Max played the British (decided by the roll of a die). Their troops consisted of a forward headquarters on foot, a forward observer team and a scout team, each in a Bren Carrier, a veteran infantry platoon on foot (consisting of a command squad, three rifle sections, a 2″ mortar team and a combat medic) as well a troop of Shermans (two regular ones and two Fireflys) and a supply truck. The forward observers had access to a two-gun battery of 25pdr. guns and a medium priority artillery request up the chain of command.

Julian and I played the German defenders. They had a forward headquarters team and a forward observer team in a Kübelwagen each, a sniper, a grenadier platoon on foot (consisting of a command squad, three grenadiers squads, a combat medic, an HMG team with extra ammo carriers and a 7,5cm PaK40 with extra ammo carriers) and a PzKw IV H platoon with three tanks and a supply truck. The forward observers had access to a two-gun battery of 8.8cm guns and the whole force  benefitted from two special abilities which raided their battle group rating (for those not familiar with the rules… the point where the whole battle group breaks).

The Germans were defending a small village somewhere in the west of Germany. The village was overlooked by a large hillside on the British table edge and surrounded by woods, an orchard and some yet unplowed fields. There was also the wreck of a Tiger tank left from previous fighting. We played the delaying action scenario, which meant that either side had to bring the others battle group rating down to zero to win. If neither side had managed to do so by the end of round 9, it would be a German win, since they had managed to hold up the allies long enough. For those not familiar with the rules: each time one side looses a unit (or something just as traumatic happens) or if the other side takes an objective, it has to draw a random chit. While some indicate random events, most carry a value used to reduce the battle group rating. For completeness sake, we had four objectives on the table, but these had little importance on the game since each side took the two closest ones.

The British started with just their scout team deployed on the road leading down the hill, but would get continuous reinforcements every turn. The Germans had to roll for starting forces and did badly. So the only troops on the table were a squad of infantry, minus their LMG element hiding in one of the ruins with and objective marker, the observer team hiding in the upper floor of one of the intact houses (leaving their Kübelwagen in the front garden) and the sniper hiding under the roof of yet another house. One of the PzKw IV started on the table as well, but kept behind the row of houses not wanting to present a good target to the tons of British tanks that might come onto the table in the first round.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

The British automatically got initiative on the first round, but rolled badly for their reinforcements (just two units and they picked one of the Fireflys and the forward observer team). So the scouts just raced forward to the woods on their right flank, while the observers in the other Bren carrier raced forward to a hedge to hide there and claim their first objective marker. The Sherman just rumbled forward on the road. There was not much for the Germans to do, except for the infantry to claim to objective marker by their ruins and for the Panzer to drive towards the left flank, to get a bearing on the Firefly, while hopefully being in a position where other British tanks would not be able to get a shot at it once they arrived on table. The forward observers though called for an artillery strike on their British counterparts which was not right on spot, but close enough to pin the British observers and rattle the crew of the Firefly.

PzKw IV in firing position

PzKw IV in firing position

The next round the Brits had the initiative (actually we just forgot to roll for it and just handed it to them). Again they rolled poorly for reinforcements and only got the forward HQ on table (with the intention of quickly unpinning the observers) and some infantry. All the British units advanced, with the exception of the scout, who just stayed put. The observers were unpinned. Now things were handed over to the Germans. They only had a 33% chance for reinforcements every turn from this the second onwards, but they got some on the first try and even 5 units at that. So onto the table came the other two PzKw IV with the supply truck as well as the PaK and HMG teams. All these advanced towards the front, with the Panzer that had already been on the table loosening off a shot at the Firefly, but missing it. Again the German observers called in their artillery and this time it was true on target blowing the Bren carrier with the observer team up and killing two of the soldiers in the British forward HQ. This meant that the British would be unable to call for artillery of their own for the rest of the game.

PzKW IV

PzKW IV

The next round was actually quiet uneventful. The Germans just kept on advancing and the Panzer on the left flank and inside the village fired at the Sherman but found their shots just bouncing off or missing. For once during the whole game the German observers were unable to contact their off-board artillery which gave the British some respite. The German HMG team took the other objective while moving forward and that was about it. The British rolled good for reinforcements and got another infantry squad, the two regular Shermans and the supply truck on the table. The forward Firefly shot back at its assailants, but missed both its shots. Otherwise the rest of the troops just advanced.

Sherman firefly

Sherman firefly

Holy cow... the British are advancing

Holy cow… the British are advancing

The next round was actually quiet with the two PzKw IV trading shots once more with the Firefly with similar results. The Panzer on the right flank advanced and began to fire at the scout team. The German artillery tried to take out the supply truck, but only managed to kick up some dirt. Again, the troops on both sides just kept advancing, with the British infantry taking another objective as well. Also the Germans moved the supply truck forward (they had previously parked it outside of view behind a row of houses) in anticipation of ammo running low on the two tanks that had seen firing for some time now.

Truck moving into position to resupply one of the PzKw IV [photo had to be edited to conform with German law]

Truck moving into position to resupply one of the PzKw IV
[photo had to be edited to comply with German law]

British lines

British lines

As usual, the next round began with the Germans taking initiative and again the Panzer traded shots with their targets, with the usual nonexistent results. The one on the left flank, which had started the game on table revered to take up ammo at the supply truck. The HMG team set up position in the middle of the village and the PaK moved forward for the final time on the right flank. And again the German forward observers called in artillery to take out the British supply truck. The fire only managed to shower the supply truck and the forward Firefly with dirt, but one shell landed directly on the rear Firefly, setting it on fire. The British also got their final reinforcements on table.

View from the village towards the British

View from the village towards the British

That is why the Germans called it the "Tommie Toaster"

That is why the Germans called it the “Tommie Toaster”

On the British side the infantry and regular Shermans advanced, the later to finally get within firing range. The remaining Firefly got off one shot before it ran out of ammo. And this shot hit the freshly reloaded Panzer, punched through and exploded it, too. The British were happy that they finally had been able to destroy a German target, but it was short-lived, when we drew an Air Attack counter instead of one that would reduce the German battle group rating. But no German plane showed up, so at least no insult was added to injury.

British advance

British advance

The next round saw the Brits actually win initiative the only time during this game. They rolled poor on orders and so there was only a limited advance. The Firefly was resupplied, while the lead Sherman fired at the PzKw IV in the village and set it on fire, too. Again Martin and Max rejoiced the fact that the Germans had to draw a chit, but this time insult was indeed added to injure, since Julian drew a Breakdown counter, which resulted in the remaining Firefly to run out of fuel, being immobilized for the rest of the game.

Shermans advancing on the village

Shermans advancing on the village

With initiative shifting over to the Germans, the artillery now started concentrating on the poor bloody infantry, wiping out half a squad on the British left in the process. The PaK finally opened up as well, but missed all three shots directed at the lead Sherman. The remaining Panzer fired at the Sherman as well, but failed to hit. But as an icing on the cake, the Germans finally got further reinforcements, too. So now the forwards HQ, one more infantry section and all three infantry sections LMG teams entered the table as well.

PaK 40

PaK 40

During the eighth round we saw more of what we had seen before… tanks and AT guns fringe at one another, but hitting nothing. Again the German artillery shifted targets to the scout team still hiding in the woods. This time their fire scattered badly, but landed virtually directly on the 2″ mortar team which had been sneaking up through the woods, wiping it out. With only one round to go and hardly any chance to bring the Germans to breaking point, the British decided to call it a day. Which was probably a good idea, since the German battle group rating was only down to 31 (from 37), while the British was down to 8 (from 32).

Shermans in the orchard

Shermans in the orchard

It was a bit sad, that on the German side the only damage was dealt out by the artillery and on the British side only by the tanks. But this was mostly down to the dice luck. Another deficit (and this was entirely my fault), was to give the British infantry no transports, which kept them out of firing range for the game, once we Germans were happy to stay inside the village. I guess i must really tackle some Kangaroo models or another M5 soon so we can use a whole mobile platoon for late war games soon.

PzKw IV in the village

PzKw IV in the village

But I think, that it still was a fun and taxing game. Had the British managed to keep their observers in the game (or even fired at ours), this could have turned around easily and Julian and I certainly felt that spectre hanging over heads.

 

 

 

 

The thin red… err brown line

The thin red… err brown line

As some might remember, I decided to build my WWII British forces this year. Essentially this meant starting from nothing and ending the year with at least the Infantry platoon, two Sherman and a Churchill troop, Bren carriers, AT guns and some Recce elements. If everything went fine also some Funnies and Cromwells, but I do not want to push things too far.

With the armour progressing well (only the Churchills and Recce tanks missing) it was time to finish off the infantry. Having finished all the support, command, NCO and squad based heavy weapons already, it was time for the riflemen now. And that was not the most entertaining work, so doing 40 poor bloody infantry in one go proved a stupid idea. Even though I decided them into two batches, I still felt my interest drifting to other topics all the time. So essentially while these were started in April before our holiday, I only finished them this week. But I am happy I am done with them, since the only things missing now are the bicycle messenger, some extra AT crews and a three men having a brew diorama.

But now on to the minis. They are a wild mix of Victory Force Miniatures, vintage (=pre-Warlord) Bolt Action Miniatures and Artizan Miniatures. Again all painted to represent the South Lancs. Here are the infantry sections. The SGTs and Bren teams were painted earlier on, but I felt it would be stupid to show them without. Please note that the squad composition is not definitive, I just assembled them at random yesterday.

British Infantry (1st Section)

British Infantry (1st Section)

British Infantry (2nd Section)

British Infantry (2nd Section)

British Infantry (3rd Section)

British Infantry (3rd Section)

British Infantry (4th Section)

British Infantry (4th Section)

British Infantry (5th Section)

British Infantry (5th Section)

There are also more riflemen and the 2″ mortar (one was still on the TO&E late war and usually attached to platoon HQ). I have to say, that I am not sure what I painted all these extra riflemen for, since they sure cannot all be part of the HQ element. A couple of years ago I spend an afternoon in the Imperial War Museums library researching this and I am sure these are needed to bring the platoon to strength, but the information is safely written down in a notebook that my better half safely put away over the winter… but cannot remember where. :-/ So until I find that notebook or can remember what I painted these for, these are just the extras.

British Infantry (the extras)

British Infantry (the extras)

And then there are also a few Sappers to round things off. These minis are all from Warlord Games and I have to say, I am happy they do without those stupid cartoon faces they use for the German with the metal Brits!

British Sappers

British Sappers

And last here is a group shot of all the infantry (minus the Mortar and AT teams).

British Infantry group shot

British Infantry group shot

So this is it for today. I started work on the prize minis yesterday and hope to have them done by the end of this weekend or early next week when I will post pictures of them before they go in the mail. After that it is going to be those Murawski Poles and after that… well no idea yet! 😀

 

Two games of Battlegroup Overlord (part 2)

Two games of Battlegroup Overlord (part 2)

So here is the second game we played this weekend. This was to be the game where I wanted to test an infantry heavy game with few armour and no AT-guns.

Again I need to apologize for the picture quality. While the picture quality was slightly better than from Fridays game, it is still far below par.

Game 2

We set this fictional game somewhere on the Cotentin Peninsular in the days after the D-Day landings using the “Take the Hill” scenario from the main rules. Fitting enough, there was a hill in one corner of the table with a small village. The rest of the table featured some corn and wheat fields, grazing cows, roads, hedges and small woods.

The Americans (played by Martin) consisted of a forward infantry HQ, a regular quality infantry platoon (HQ, three fire teams, three BAR teams), a medic, a .50cal HMG team, an artillery spotter team mounted in a jeep catering for a battery of off-board 105mm howitzers, a Greyhound scout car and two M10 Wolverine tank destroyers.

The Germans (played by me) was made up of a  Veteran Panzergrenadier platoon (HQ, three infantry sections, three MG-42 LMG teams), a medic, a tripod mounted MG-42 HMG with extra loader team, a Panzergrenadier foot scout patrol, an on-board 8cm mortar team, an artillery spotter team catering for another two 8cm mortars off-board and a StuG IIIG.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Both sides were able to deploy 50% of their forces at the beginning of the game, with the rest arriving as reinforcements at the beginning of turn 4. The German defenders deployed the StuG behind the village on the hill road, the HMG team on the their left flank in the corn field, the Panzergrenadier scout team in the bombed out semi-building with the spotter team in front of them in the garden. One of the LMG teams deployed on the upper floor of the detached building, with the HQ on the lower floor and the 8cm mortar behind. Four of these units started in ambush positions, but I completely forgot to make use of that (which cost me dearly), so I will not even mention which ones.

The Americans deployed three vehicles on the road leading onto the table, with the M10 being front, the spotter jeep bringing up the rear and the Greyhound sandwiched between them. One of the infantry teams was in the field to their right one on the road on their left. In the field to the left there was also the Forward HQ and a BAR team.

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the American side

The Americans went first and there was a general advance of the infantry. Then the artillery spotter called in fire and that one really hurt. Both barrages were aimed at the bombed out semi and were virtually spot on target. This resulted in the loss of two Grenadiere from the scout team, the spotter teams Kübelwagen went up in flames and both the recon section and the spotter team were pinned down by the fire. No idea why I did no pre-empt this with a mortar strike of my own using the ambush option! Both the Wolverine and Greyhound moved forward with the intention of adding their own firepower to the carnage, but the M10 failed to spot the target house amidst all the explosions and the Greyhounds HE shot missed.

In general the Germans decided to let the Americans get closer so their only action for this turn was for the pinned troops to stick their heads out again.

Armored firepower

Armored firepower

The Americans went first on the second round again. And once more the artillery was spot on. And this time the tank destroyer and scout car added to the carnage. While the Grenadiere lost no man, they withdrew deeper into the ruins for protection. Far worse off was the spotter team, which was wiped out. Otherwise there was only a further advance by the infantry. The StuG decided to interrupt the move of the infantry advancing towards the village with its only round of HE ammo, but that one missed wild.

Now the Germans got into action. I finally remembered, that my mortars could also be directed in by the Grenadier HQ, which they promptly did. While the first salvo scattered a good deal this was actually quiet good, for one round went straight into the open-topped tank destroyer (I rolled double sixes for my anti armour roll) setting it aflame.

Death at the crossroads

Death at the crossroads

The second salvo scattered too, but it came down amidst the infantry, causing little physical damage, but pinning them down. In the end the salvo pinned the artillery spotters, the forward and platoon HQ´s as well as the BAR section. Now the StuG rumbled through the village and fired its roof mounted MG at the infantry advancing towards the village, sending them for cover as well. So essentially, Martin was down to two un-pinned units!

StuG in the village

StuG in the village

As a result the Americans did virtually nothing but get up again after the mortar barrage, which Martin did exceptionally well, rolling for 5 unpinned units! The only real action was a further advance of the infantry fire team on their left flank. At this point the HMG team in the corn field decided to take them under fire, only to find them out of range.

With initiative passing back to the Germans, they decided to fire their off-board mortars once more. And again the results were horrible for the Americans. The Greyhound took a round trough its open turret, too (I rolled another double six!). The fire team, forward HQ and spotter team all went to ground again, the HQ and spotter team each taking a casualty for good measure, too.

US Infantry in the open pinned by mortar fire

US Infantry in the open pinned by mortar fire

The StuG shifted its MG fire to the BAR section in the fields, but failed to make an impression. At the same time the on-board mortar team relocated  out of the shadow of the house to fire at the American infantry advancing on th village, but failed to spot them in the hurry.

MG 42 HMG team lying in ambush in the corn field

MG 42 HMG team lying in ambush in the corn field

The next round saw the arrival of the reserves. The American reinforcements arrived on the table and began to move forward. The most interesting was the second M10 now present, which took a shot at the StuG at once. Fortunately for the assault gun, it was only a glancing hit and did no damage. Otherwise there was not much going on, except for the American fire team advancing on their left flank which decided to try their luck with the HMG team. But before they could fire, they failed to spot them. HMG team, seeing this decided to spring their trap and fire at their adversaries, but they too had problems spotting them behind the hedge with all the smoke drifting over the battlefield.

I rolled well for the Germans and all the remaining troops made it onto the table at once, beginning their track from the table edge. The on-board mortars opened up once again, this time wiping out the spotter team, ending the threat of American artillery for good. In addition they also wiped out the forward HQ and the BAR team. Now the StuG decided to fire back at the Wolverine, it turned, fired and missed. In desperation, the on-board mortar team fired at the M10 and now they got lucky, too. They too scored a direct hit and destroyed the tank destroyer (this time I rolled a five and six… not bad for one day!).

But there was one more thing. With all the American losses they had to draw a lot of chits, one of them being an air support counter, meaning that next round the Americans would get support by P-47 Thunderbolt.

German on-board mortars

German on-board mortars

And the fighter made quite an impression the next round firing its rockets at the StuG and blowing it to smithereens. Once more the American infantry wanted to fire at the HMG team and once more they failed to spot them. The .50cal opened up on the Grenadier scout team in the house and caused them one more casualty. But this was about it for the Americans.

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American .50 cal team

Now the Germans picked up their attack again. With the majority of the American troops now on their left flank, the German HQ moved out of the building into the yard to get a visual on them and started to direct the off-board mortars in. The attack pinned the American infantry en route to the village and the HMG team, but most importantly killed off two of the .50cal crew sending the last man fleeing and this also brought the whole American battlegroup to its breaking point, ending the game.

German Platoon HQ

German Platoon HQ

All in all, we had an extremely entertaining game, dominated by artillery and mortars. This definitely showed us the need for some counter-battery options.

Otherwise we talked long and hard about ranges. With the Battlegroup rules being written with 20mm in mind, we have constantly been thinking about whether to adjust ranges or not. The more we play, we feel that the ranges are fine as they are. They could be a bit longer to be realistic, but then again not so much that they would warrant a multiplication by even by 1,5. Why? Well the way ranges are right now, it allows for nice maneuver warfare, which in turns results in nice games. Once we were to multiply ranges by more than 1,3 this would be lost, even on a large table. Anything below, would make the change virtually cosmetic. So for now we will keep things the way they are. And this is not just the perception Martin and I had, but also something Julian, who has only had experience with 20mm so far, voiced. So we cannot be too wrong! 😉

German reinforcements advancing

German reinforcements advancing

 

 

Two games of Battlegroup Overlord (part 1)

Two games of Battlegroup Overlord (part 1)

As virtually anyone with a little knowledge of military history will know, last Friday saw the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings (aka. D-Day). We decided to take the opportunity to play some games set during the Normandy invasion. The first game was played on Friday with Julian and the second one on Sunday with Martin.

I also wanted to take the chance to put the rules through its paces. All the previous games we played featured a realistic amount of armour compared to the number of infantry, but I wanted to see how they felt with no or very little armour. I also wanted to see how it played out when not using the Battlegroup force lists to create the forces for the game, but using a scenario from a third source.

Now before I start with the game reports, please let me excuse the more than poor picture quality. My camera is acting up these days (which also caused huge problems during our trip to Scotland). Amongst other things I cannot use the lens best suited for close-ups, I cannot use the program that allows me long exposure times (essential for close-ups) and most pictures are overexposed. In other words, I simply cannot take any pictures on the usual level of quality.

Game 1

This was the game without any armour using a ready-made scenario. In this case “Purple Heart Hill” from the SkirmishCampaigns book “Normandy ´44 – Heroes of Omaha and Panzer Lehr”. The scenario features the defense of Hill 108 (rather a slight slope, which is why you the board shows no real rise) by the American 175th Infantry Regiment against Elements of Kampfgruppe Bohm on June 18th.

The table featured fields, an orchard, two light woods, a little low bocage and most importantly a ravine running most of the western edge of the board. The Americans would deploy in a trench on the northern half go the table which the Germans had to take to win the game. They would also deploy in foxholes and were allowed to place two minefields.

The German force (played by me) featured a 4 man infantry Platoon HQ, two infantry squads, a two men recon team (which we played as a spotter team), 8cm Mortar team, HMG team and 7,5cm infantry gun. Julians Americans featured an infantry platoon HQ, two Infantry fire teams, one 60cm mortar team and a .30cal team.

Purple Heart Hill table

Purple Heart Hill table

The American infantry would deploy in the trench, while the other troops were to deploy in the foxholes placed on the edge of the eastern small wood.

The Germans would start one infantry squad on each flank (one of them starting at the mouth of the ravine), the infantry gun on the western flank and the rest of the troops in the corner.

Now one thing I need to mention before we start the report. With the exception of the first and last rounds I managed to roll low for the number of orders for my Germans every round. So while Julians Americans virtually had more orders than units all the time, the Germans usually could only activate two or three units. In general my dice rolling was quiet poor, while Julians was good.

At the beginning of the game the Americans decided to lie in ambush and wait for the Germans. Both German infantry squads started their advance towards the enemy. For the one on the eastern flank this would be their only move until the last round for lack of orders. The one on the western flank came under fire from both the American infantry squads and the mortar team which resulted in both the main squad and the LMG team becoming pinned under fire. The German HMG and recon teams advanced into the orchard and the infantry gun opened fire the American mortar team, missing twice. Ending my first round, I decided to un-pin my pinned troops.

American trench

American trench

Not that it proved much use. On the next American turn they came under fire from the American infantry and mortar teams once more, which pinned them again. So as a result they could do nothing and the next German activation just saw the infantry gun fire and miss again. The HMG team joined in as well and while scoring a few hits, the foxhole kept the American mortar team safe. And again I decided to un-pin my troops again.

US Mortar team

US Mortar team

At least the Germans managed to gain initiative for once. This time the Infantry gun managed to hit once, but again, the foxhole kept the mortar team safe. The LMG team on the western flank opened fire and managed to pin one of the American  infantry squads. Under their cover the rest of the infantry squad advanced towards the trench. The Americans fired their mortar at the German infantry and the .30cal opened up on the recon team, but both failed to do any harm. To finish things off  the American infantry managed un-pinned themselves. The next round the American infantry teams pinned both their German counterparts and the LMG team in the ravine. To end the circle of pinning and un-pinning, the 6cm mortar team fired at the LMG team for effect killing their NCO. This enraged the machine gunner so much, that he rose in spite of the incoming fire and in turn pinned one of the American infantry teams.

On their own activation, the infantry gun switched its fire to the American infantry in the trench idling one of them. At the same time the German HMG team advanced further through the orchard, but failed to spot any enemy. And once more, the round ended with me un-pinning my infantry team.

MG-42 team in the orchard

MG-42 team in the orchard

Now the Landser stormed into the trench and annihilated the Americans pinned by the LMG and Infantry gun fire. The infantry gun tried to shift their fire to the other American fire team, but found them out of range. Now the Americans tried to evict the Germans from their trench. But their infantry lost their nerve and would not assault them. So they brought the mortar to bear on the trench, but that one failed to hit.

Storming the trench

Storming the trench

The next round the American infantry chose not to assault the Germans in the trench, but cleared them out with gunfire. The rest their mortar and .30cal tried to kill both the German LMG team and recon team to lower the Germans moral, but failed to make an impression.

Now it became clear that the Germans might not get the chance to take the trench and they too did everything to kill off American teams. And for a chance they did that well. The infantry gun scored a direct hit on the foxhole housing the mortar team, killing them all. The MG-42 on tripod opened up on the .30cal wiping it up and the mortar team fired their only rounds this  game, but only managed to kill part of the HQ team.

At this point we had reached the end of the 8th round and had to roll to see if gameplay would continue, which it did not. But the game ended with a close call. Counting our counters we found that the Americans were just one point shy of their breaking point, while the Germans were only two points away from doing so themselves.

So how did it go with an eye towards trying out the rules some more? We found that the Battlegroup rules actually played out quiet well with a third-party scenario. While not all the troops in the scenario had exact counterparts in the Battlegroup force rosters it was easy enough to find close options, use their Battlegroup rating and translate quality rating to Battlegroup. The game was still balanced and was great fun (even with my horrible dice rolling).

Playing an infantry only game was fun, too. I was afraid, that this would lead to an all too quick end, but this was not the case. The only annoying thing was the constant pinning and resulting un-pinning, but this was mostly due to Julian rolling extremely well and me rolling extremely poor. In a game with average dice rolling this should not be the case. So all in all it was not only fun, but proved well for my general trials of what the rules can do well and what not.

I will try to post a report of Sundays game tomorrow, so stay tuned!

 

Battelgroup Overlord AAR

It has now been over week since Martin and met to have another game of Battlegroup, this time set in Normandy. Now since the past two weeks have been quite hectic, I hope I remember everything correctly.

I decided, that we would play a scenario for the new Battlegroup Barbarossa book where the attacker has to take a bridge and just transfer it to Normandy. So the table was roughly cut in half by a river (I wanted to put that new large bridge to use). I had decided to cover the table only with limited amounts of bocage to create some more open ground and added two orchards and a few light woods. There was also a railway line, but given, that the was almost on the allied table edge, this was more cosmetic than game changing.

We played Germans (Martin) vs. Americans (me). The Germans had a Panzergrenadier command mounted in a SdKfz. 251 (with Pänzerfäuste), a medic, a wire team, three dismounted Panzergrenadier Trupps (each maxed out with Panzerfäuste and with an additional MG-42 LMG), a 8cm mortar team, a Panzerschreck team, a sniper team, a Panther (Ace commander) and a Flakpanzer Wirbelwind. They also had a timed Nebelwerfer strike.

The Americans had an Armored Infantry commander in a M20, a Sherman platoon (two 75mm models one 76mm model), two M10 Wolverine tank destroyers, two squads of armored Infantry mounted on M3´s, two medium mortar teams a jeep scout team and an off-table artillery fire mission as well as a timed P-51 strike.

Table as seen from the American side

Table as seen from the American side

The Germans deployed their Panther on the heights on their table edge behind the last row of hedgerows. The sniper team occupied the top-level of the large house while the command and wire team hid behind the houses. One of the Grenadier Trupps was in the woods close to the bridge on the German side, while the other was in the orchards close to the bridge on the American side together with the Panzerschreck team. The rest of the units would only arrive on table during rounds three and four.

The Americans deployed their jeep scout team on the diagonal dirt road, the two halftracks either side of the railway embankment, one of the M10s and the M20 near the railroad crossing and the mortar teams on their left flank. their remaining units would arrive slowly over the next couple of rounds (my dice rolling that day was horrible at best, which resulted in very low reenforcement and “number of orders”-rolls each round).

Recce jeep moving forward

Recce jeep moving forward

Now the first round saw no real action. The Americans would slowly advance, while the Germans would mostly take up ambush positions.

On the second round things already started going down the drain for me. The Germans had won the initiative, but only chose to consolidate. The P-51 arrived on the table and attempted to attack one of the Panzergrenadier units but failed to spot them. At the same time the lead M10 (the second one had arrived this round, and had surpassed the M20 due to lack of orders) moved forward to get into engagement range of the Panther. The Panzerschreck team use their ambush action right before the Wolverine was to fire and blew it up, smack at the exit of the crossroads, effectively blocking it for all further vehicular traffic.

29,6 tonnes improvised road block

29,6 tonnes improvised road block
(aka. a burning M10 Wolverine)

The jeep scout team moved up, dismounted their jeep and managed to kill the Panzerschreck team, but by this time, the damage had been done and this was to be the only American success during the whole game!

Taking out the Panzerschreck team

Taking out the Panzerschreck team

During the next round things went worse. The Germans won initiative and their first reinforcements showed up, monist them the Wirbelwind, which promptly took the Mustang under fire and managed to pin it. (To those who know the rules… yes we played that wrong in that the Mustang would have left after its timed airstrike round and would not have loitered around.)

Waiting for those pesky American Jabos

Waiting for those pesky American Jabos

But this was not the worst thing to happen. At this point the timed Nebelwerfer strike also hit. Now Martin had to find, that his pre-registred target point had been a bit optimistic and no targets were in range. So he opted for an interdiction fire mission which put both halftracks and the remaining M10 in striking range. All in all he managed to score a massive 52 pinning hits, leaving all three vehicles soundly pinned.

Receiving end of the Nebelwerfer barrage

Receiving end of the Nebelwerfer barrage

And to add insult to injury, the Grenadiere on the far side of the river annihilated the now dismounted jeep scout team. All I could do was move units up (including the newly arrived Shermans) and un-pin the Mustang, M10 and one of the M3s.

Next round the Germans won the initiative again. The Wirbelwind tried once more to shoot the Mustang down although without success. Otherwise the units just shuffled around or went into ambush positions again.

Germans lying in ambush

Germans lying in ambush

For a change I rolled well for the American orders, but my main problem was still the burning M10 blocking the way for the  other tanks. So the 76mm Sherman together with the M10 got into position to breach the bocage closest to the river in unison and together with the infantry. The other two Shermans prepared to breach a hedgerow further back to get to the left flank. The previous round the command team raced into the fields on the right and dismounted to get into a position where they could spot for artillery and the still idle mortars. This round they decided to call for artillery, but did not manage to get a connection to higher command, no artillery support for the Americans.

American Mortar position

American Mortar position

My biggest coup this round was the P-51 finally spotting something (the Wirbelwind… not surprising with all the tracers flying up from it) ad tried to bomb it, only that the bombs went wide. I was happy that since this had been the first air attack, Martin has to draw his second morale chit, but what did he draw? An air attack counter and he managed to actually roll some Luftwaffe support in the guise of a BF-109. I guess this was Murphy’s law!

Run Kraut, run!

Run Kraut, run!

Again, the Germans mostly consolidated on their next activation. The Luftwaffe made a strafing run at the infantry about to cross the bocage, but only killed one GI. The Grenadiere on the far side of the river (who had already taken out the scouts) managed to kill two men in the American command team, sending the last man running for the rear.

The next round saw the Americans main attack. First the Infantry scaled the bocage to attack the Germans in the Orchard and secure a safe passage for the tanks. But this was not to happen. Hit by a wall of carbine an MG fire from the Grenadiere lying in ambush they were all wiped out with the exception of one man, who decided to retreat. Knowing that at least the German infantry was occupied, the 76mm Sherman and M10 pushed through the bocage. The Sherman was about to use its MGs on the enemy infantry, when it was hit by a round from the Panther on the other side of the river and burst into flames.

Panther lying in ambush

Panther lying in ambush

The next round saw initiative go to the Germans once more and upon activation, the Trupp in the orchard fired a Panzerfaust at the M10 that had broken through the previous round taking it out instantly. Now the Germans decided to re-enforce the American side of the river by moving troops forward.

Germans going on the counterattack

Germans going on the counterattack

At this point we decided to call it a day. The Americans had lost more than half their tanks, tank destroyers and infantry. With the loss of their command team and the 76mm Sherman they had lost the ability to call for artillery or guide in their mortars. They had accumulated more than 2/3 or of their battle group rating in chits. At the same time the Germans had lost only 5 points to their battle group rating (with one chit) and the Panzerschreck team in return they now even had a fighter of their own circling above.

Even though the result was a bit one-sided (due to me moving up that first M10 too fast and my horrific dice rolling), it was still a great game. And we learned a lot about the use of aircraft and artillery as well. I am going to leave you with a shot of the Mustang that let me down as well on its first outing!

P-51 Mustang

P-51 Mustang

Please be aware, that this will be my last regular post for a while. My better half and I will be taking Sami to bonnie Scotland now. So about the only thing to expect from me for a couple of weeks might be reviews of the books I have taken along.