Copyright © 2022, Paul Scrivens-Smith
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Sunday 30 April 2017
On Friday I finished work at lunchtime, picked up Bruce and we headed down to Lombard IL for the Little Wars convention held at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, it's about a two and a half hour journey so we stopped for a bite to eat on the way, arriving at the venue at about 1530.
We swiftly registered and found our table in the spacious, well lit main hall. Ed had already set up the terrain and was just awaiting my buildings and troops.
The game would represent a Nationalist attack during the drive on Madrid and we would be using the Big Chain of Command supplementary rules and playing the Flank Attack scenario.
The Nationalist comprised one platoon of La Legion (played as Elites), one platoon of Moroccan Regulares and two columns of Falange. The Republicans comprised of two platoons of International Brigade, one platoon of Guardia Civil and a column of Trades Union Militia from the UGT.
The Nationalists would be Liam playing La Legion, myself with the Regulares and Bruce with the Falange, the Republicans comprised Eric with the Guardia, Ed and Pat with the International Brigade and Al with the Militia.
The Nationalists had 31 points of support while the Republicans 33 points, our was spent on: Cara Al Sol, Centuria Leaders and a LMG for one of the Falange columns - the other would be in reserve, a pre-game barrage, a 70mm infantry gun, a PaK36, a Sniper, a Hotchkiss medium machine-gun, two Panzer I and a battery of 81mm mortars off table.
I'm not sure what the Republicans bought, but it certainly included a lot of barricades and a couple of T-26.
We played out the Patrol Phase and our aim was to create a base of fire using the support weapons and Falange in a gulley on our right - our Anvil - while the Regulares and La Legion would push up on the left - our Hammer! The Patrol Phase played out quite well and we had three jump-off points on the right in and around the gulley and four on our left, one pushed right up the flank.
The game played out over the next four and a half hours, and as I only played in one small corner cannot remember everything but there were several notable events.
The pre-game barrage fell among the Republicans impeding their initial deployments.
The Legion and Regulares deployed on our left as planned and were soon in a fierce fight with the International Brigades holding the church and a line of barricades at the edge of the orchard.
The first Panzer I supporting this attack was crossing the bridge over the gulley and was surprised and then knocked out by the appearance of a Republican T-26.
The T-26 in turn was surprised and badly damaged by the appearance of the Nationalist PaK36.
The remaining Panzer I was much more cautious and took little further part in the battle.
A large building in the centre of the table caught fire and the smoke drifted across the table causing line of sight to be badly impeded.
The Falange fire base in the gully served its purpose well and caused great consternation among the Republicans on that flank.
After securing a fire-base in a house overlooking the church La Legion committed a section to clearing the church and the section of International Brigadiers from the Commune de Paris Battalion were routed.
The Falange started to push on from their trench line, but a section of Guardia advanced through the smoke and the Nationalists were severely mauled.
Supported by the Regulares, now positioned in the orchard, La Legion pushed on their attack against the barricade in the orchard, La Legion were routed, but the rest of the Commune de Paris Battalion were put to the bayonet by the Moors.
The trades union militia occupied again the vacated church, but the firepower of the remaining Moors and Legionaries was too much for them and they suffered badly, especially when the 70mm mountain gun was called up.
At this point the Republican Force Morale was looking bad so as it was quite late we called a minor Nationalist victory, a great game played with some great chaps.
Some more images from the game:
I took a break during the game to wander around the traders room, purchasing a Rubicon Panzer III for the Fall Blau project I'm working on and also took some photos of the other games, lots of people were having a great time. Conventions in the USA are certainly very different from those in the UK and take a bit of getting used to for a Brit as it's more focused on participating rather than shopping and socialising.
Tuesday 25 April 2017
Sundays game saw our first go with the Chosen Men Well Disposed rules from Polemos pitting my newly painted Dutch against a rather two dimensional French army.
I've only gotten a handful of French units painted so I took some top-down shots of some of my units and then took them to Office Depot and had them printed out and then cut them out to the required size. A purchase of $14.00 dollars saw one sheet of Warflags three laminated quick reference sheets and the whole French army ready for battle. It's not as spectacular as playing with figures but better than not playing at all.
I picked two roughly equal armies to oppose each other both of three Infantry Divisions and three Cavalry Divisions, for our first game all units would be classed as Trained and all Generals rated as Active, this would hopefully keep things simple for the first game. In retrospective, we probably had far too much stuff on the table for an initial foray into the rules and splitting just the painted stuff we had in half would probably have been better.
Drew and Sasha took the French while Bruce and myself commanded the United Provinces forces. Drew and Sasha kept the tempo early on while Bruce and myself marshalled our own tempo until we had a good spread and were able to commit forces cohesively.
On our left we had the advantage of an extra division of horse while on our right we were at the disadvantage, so we committed to holding out on the left whilst trying to batter through on the right with our infantry swiftly closing in the centre to take advantage of our superior close ranged fire effect, if we could pin the French infantry in place they would not be able to take advantage of their A'Prest bonuses.
It went very well on or right and with just our lead division we had crushed and broken the opposing French horse, hastily re-positioned French infantry tried to shore up the line. The loss of the French horse on that flank saw almost half the critical morale of the French gone.
On our left we soon had lost one of the brigades of horse, but we were clinging on, passing several brigade morale tests and keeping our troops in the fight while our reserve infantry division moved up to cover any French breakthrough.
The centre was a devastating fire fight, initially the Dutch loosed some crushing volleys, in some cases the initial shots causing the opposing French to give way completely, but the line eventually stabilised and the firefight ensued.
With time about to be called we did a quick count up, the Dutch had conceded none of their critical morale points while the French had lost five, also the advantage of units lost was swung in the favour of the Dutch, we wrapped up giving a minor victory to the United Provinces and we need to re-read the rules to see what we did wrong.
Some points we raised from the game, if you've got some experience with the rules we'd be glad to hear your thoughts:
- For the army generation, how do you decide how many batteries to allocate?
- I know that artillery was not very effective in the period, but with an arbitrary four batteries per side I would have expected some effect.
- How do you keep track of what brigade a unit has come from when you get into contact, in the cavalry melee on the flanks and the fire-fight in the centre we had units everywhere with no idea of their starting brigades.
- When your enemy recoils from melee and your horse follow up, do the supporting squadrons accompany them?
- Is there a good reason to big high for tempo early in the game, it seems best to amass lots on your units for a coherent committal rather than going in piecemeal.