Sunday, December 8, 2019

100 Posts!

Looking for stray comments from yesterday's post, I realized I had just achieved the bell weather accomplishment of 100 posts!  Yea!  I have been posting battle and painting reports off and on (well, mostly off) since May 2010, with a sum total of 75,527 hits over the decade.  This is pretty much chump change, but since I am a numbers guy, I will revel in even small decimal dust results.  My greatest hit was the battle report on Part I of the Battle of Villers Bocage.  Most of my audience comes from the US, with the Russian Federation a distinct second, and the UK and Canada following that.  I find this somewhat odd, as the blog focuses more on NW Europe than the Eastern Front, but there you go.  Perhaps the Team Yankee material was the draw.  Anyway, I will celebrate today much more than yesterday, Pearl Harbor and all that.  Thanks again for watching and we'll see what the future holds.  Probably more white space than anything.

Monty sends his congratualtions!  Now back to the painting bench!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Avaux or Bust

OK, Avaux  is a long time and distance away from Wurzburg.  I guess, like many other wargame projects, that dream faded.  But another bright and shiny one is always available, so I went back to the tried and true love of northwestern France in 1944, where the Allies are always trying to break out of the bocage, and the Germans are always trying to hold on, whatever the cost.  The Late War Brits hadn't seen the light of day for a while, so I dusted them off and found the various bits of German units to try and hold the line.

We tried a new set of rules this time, the "I ain't been shot, mum!" by Too Fat Lardies.  Since I haven't been too excited by V4 of Flames of War, this seemed like a good time to try something a little bit different.  I had played the rules at various conventions before, and the rules themselves are pretty well written, so I decided to give them a try.  Luckily, they also published a really neat linked campaign booklet, "Blenneville or Bust!" that provides a number of interesting games for your late war forces.  I have been wanting to do the second one for a time, "Avaux," where a reinforced company of British infantry with a weak British Sherman squadron is thrusting south through a even weaker German force ( an infantry platoon, a couple of heavy MGs, two StuGs and a Pak 40).  I initially thought the forces were pretty equal, at least until we started playing and the Germans really couldn't hold up to the British armored onslaught.  At least until the off board German "88" card was played.  This card was the the death knell to the British attack, as it caused a lot of damage to the British tanks.  Combined with really bad bogging rolls as they moved down the road, the British slowed to a stand still and could only get off 2 of the 4 required tanks to achieve their objectives.  So, even thought the Germans were in retreat across the board, the British failed to achieve their objectives, resulting in a narrow German win.  I told my opponent he should have won, but the dice were not with him that day.  I took a lot of pictures, but they didn't come out very well.  Next time . . .

The peaceful French town of Avaux, looking north toward the Allied lines.   

The peaceful French town of Avaux, looking east across the German forward line of resistance.   

Downtown Avaux.  Not on the map is a small stream on the left side of the road that will cause many British tanks to bog down because they went too fast.  At least tried to  . . .

Initial German deployments in blinds.  Since I really don't know what I am doing, I went pretty conservative, deploying (L-R), the one infantry platoon, the pak 40 ATG, the company commander with 2 HMGs and the tow assault guns all along the hedgerows.  

Here come British!  The British blinds didn't move very quickly at first, and it took numerous cycles of the card deck to get any more.  British artillery stonks place some shock on all platoons.

Fast moving British (dummy) blinds approach the German lines to the east.  My big men can't spot them at first due to the cover from the wheat fields and then do not get many chances due to their cards not coming up.  

One British blind uncovers and starts to move across the wheat field.  My one infantry platoon also uncovers as it tries to get rid of the shock from the initial stonks of 25 pounders.  

More British blinds appear, helped by the armored bonus card.

There are a lot of Shermans here.  Luckily for the Germans, most will brew up soon.  

The British infantry move bravely toward the Germans unconcerned by the possible effects of OK shots at close range.  

We all learn about the effects of a full platoon of Germans shooting OK shots at close range.  I used little red dice for kills and green dice for shock.  It was nasty for the Brits to learn this, but since it was our first game, I didn't feel too bad.  

The British lead infantry platoon falls back and will spend most of the game trying to remove the shock and kills they took from one German volley. 

Meanwhile the British tanks move up and manage to spot the pak 40 ATG.  

The Brits creep around the hedgerows.  

Meanwhile the dummy blinds continue to threaten the quiescent Germans who never seem to have their cards drawn before the next tea break.  Ah well . . .
The Brits push into the town center and blast away at the pak 40 with HE from their guns.  The gun crew takes shock and kills and runs away, with their gun.  I think I messed this up here, although the end result would probably have been the same.  

The HMGs get their share of attention and shock as well from British tank HE.

The dummy blinds are finally being exposed.  The remaining British blinds are coming on the table.  A couple of Shermans are stuck in the stream near the road edge.

The Shermans eliminate the ATG crew while one German section runs away from a combination of too much shock from earlier stonks and more recent tank gun fire.

A firefly bogs down in the stream ditch.  You have to roll more ones than sixes to do this; the British player did this throughout the game.  

The German HMGs take kills and shock and give nothing in return.  

The German infantry retreat from the hedgerow through the orchard while the British tanks appear unstoppable as they liberate Avaux.

Will the German card ever come up for these guys?  I used my StuG IVs instead of the IIIs called for in the scenario as my IVs look better than the IIIs I have.  

A German section attempts to get off a panzerfaust shot at the Shermans before being machine gunned.  They do, but it misses.  

All of the sections got to fire their panzerfausts.  The first one missed, the next only caused some minor damage.  Time to run away!

The Germans look threatening but really can't do much.  I am not sure if there is a distance at which the tanks MUST stop and deal with the infantry.  

The last panzerfaust strikes home!  The Brits still have 9 of 10 tanks left.  

The German off table 88 AA gun brews up its first Sherman.  It had missed everyone to this point, but was deadly subsequently.  The British are now going to have to detour around the house on the left to get past the burning wrecks on the road.  

Finally!  The StuG IVs activate and move down the road to threaten the British flank.  

As the Germans move out, all of the welcoming French civilians with their flowers and wine run back to their basements.

A Sherman dashes down the road but another tank is brewed up behind it.

Its a big burning traffic jam!  Two Shermans are able to exit the table before the fiery logger jam is created.

The StuGs manage to damage a Sherman, but then get pounded with one destroyed.  This is gratifying, but doesn't make up for the fact that the armored thrust has been blunted, mostly by poor driving by the British tankers and an offboard AA gun being used against the Brits, probably by a reluctant Luftwaffe crew.  It is so unfair!  With no way to meet their victory conditions, the British concede the game. The Americans will have to win the race to Blenneville.   

     Since this is the first time we played the rules, I am sure we did a bunch of things incorrectly.  The rules are pretty straightforward though, so I think a better reading of them and looking at the forum should help me answer the majority of my questions.  It was run too, and not too much like a V4 tank fest.  I will try these again, and maybe take Avaux this time.  All the infantry we used was based for FOW, but I think they worked fine for this rule set.  We had to be a bit careful with the little green and red dice, but this was not insurmountable.  All in all a pleasant afternoon in Normandy.  

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Heavy Fighting on the inter-German border: Game #1

     What better way to celebrate the 4th of July weekend than to play Team Yankee?  I got in three games this weekend, winning two and losing one on a technicality.  We got to use a lot of new and interesting units and features of the game, and while we probably didn't do everything correctly, we did roll a lot of dice and blow up things, which is the main point of the whole endeavor.

     I ran tow of the three games with a two BMP-2 company formation.  As I suspected, a 10 BMP-2 company is a lot more manageable than a 14 BMP-2 company.  It is still a challenge to make it fit, but it doesn't automatically become out of command if it wants to change position.  It has a lot of firepower in the ATGMs and 30mm cannon on the BMP-2, and the numerous Soviet infantry stands make the formation almost unbreakable.  While the BMP-2 won't last long in any type of a firefight, that's OK.  I have a lot of them and I can take the losses.  The American player with his small platoons cannot, even if they are M-1 Abrams tanks with improved armor.  It is not a perfect force, but it really is a great backbone for my Soviet horde.


We decided to play a different game than our standard "Dust Up" mission and rolled for a new game, only to get the same mission as we always play.  You can't fight the dice, so we went at it and pounded each other for 6+ turns until the American player broke.  Hurrah for the mass produced BMP-2 horde!

My Soviet horde with 2 BMP-2 companies, a T-64 company, a rather useless Carnation battery, and the quite fetching Su-25 section.  Oh yes, some ZSU-23/4s and a couple of SA-13s that have nothing to shoot at this game.

If some BMP-2s are good, some more must be better!  The formation commander gets his own BMP-1KSh that does nothing but looks neat.  

The Soviet jets are willing to drop bombs to liberate Western Europe from the American Imperialists, but will spend most of the game loitering somewhere else.

Another view of the Soviet 100 point force.

The Americans bring their A-game and all of their newly painted units, including a Chaparral unit to deter my Su-25s. 

A full battery of M109s with laser guided munitions will be equally worthless as my Carnation battery.

The mortars will provide some value anyway . . .

Another view of the M106s.

The forces assemble along the autobahn near a small town in Germany.
The Americans mass their armor for a flank attack on one of the BMP-2 companies.

The M109s add noise but not much else to the fray.

A second M-1 Abrams platoon with a scout section monitors the Soviet advance.

The American Forward Observer and the other scout section watches from the overpass.

BMP-2s advance!

The T-64 company engages the Americans on the overpass with AT-8 Songster missiles.

The scout section is destroyed but the FO survives.

The BMPs line up to take a shot at the advancing Americans.

Their missile fire actually hits a tank AND destroys one!

One the other flank the ITV of the surviving scout section shoots at the other BMP company.  
One shot, one hit, one kill!

The surviving infantry teams bail out and continue the advance.

Not wanting to take another missile salvo, the Americans drive behind the McDonalds and miss the drive in.  

The BMPs trade ineffectual fire with the Abrams platoon and the scout section.

Fresh off of their destruction of the scout section on the overpass, the T-64s wheel to deal with the other scouts and Abrams in the woods.  The Carnations continue to expend ammunition but only bail out the American FO on occasion.

The SA-13 Gophers guard the objective against a nonexistent American air threat.  Next game!

The formation commander hunkers down behind a building.

The Americans flank the T-64s and shoot at them from their rear.  And mostly miss.

The M163 VADS lager in the parking lot waiting for their Happy Meal of thinly armored BMPs.

The mortars add smoke to keep the T-64s at bay.

Smoke was effective at keeping the T-64s from hitting anything this turn.

More BMP-2s burn.  This is a constant in all of the battles this weekend.

The t-64s lose a few comrades to the cowardly American rear shots.

The M163 VADs shoot less well, only bailing out the BMPs in their sights.
The Soviet infantry gets out of their BMPs and charge against the Gatling guns over a parking lot.  RPG fire is effective killing one as well as a tank.  

A M-1 Abrams is hit and killed by a BMP-2 missile.  If only the Su-25s would arrive . . .

The T-64s change direction and return fire at the Abrams while the other American tanks attempt to hit the T-64s in their side.

I couldn't seem to get this company going to attack the American scout section.  My commissar will see to this next game.

The BMPs bail back in and return to add 30mm fire against the M163s.

This still looks like a parking lot, and it is!  Even with a 6' x 8' table it can get congested.
The T-64s go for a point blank flank shot and take out the Americans.

The other BMPs advance.  Finally!

Another smoke screen isolates the T-64s and BMPs from concentrating their fire on the remaining US tanks.  The T-64s are good, but not as good as the Abrams and all but one will be destroyed.

The T-64s are burning with the exception of the commander.

The Soviet Air Force arrives!  Finally!

The Su-25s lineup to shoot Kh-25 missiles at the remaining Abrams.

PRAVDA will feature this shot on tomorrow's headlines.

The Chaparrals wake up and get their first shot of the game off against the Su-25s.

And hit!  The first Su-25 goes down in flames!

Meanwhile the Soviets advance in the parking lot, chasing off the M163s.

With their commander killed and both Abrams platoons broken, the Americans fold and the Soviets win!

We weren't very excited about either side's artillery, which seemed to be full of sound and fury, but didn't really do much.  Smoke was effective at keeping the Soviets from concentrating their fire on the American tanks.  BMPs are built to be destroyed.  And the Su-25s were effective, but a LONG time in making their presence felt.  We were on turn 5 before they finally arrived.  Jeez!  Soviet firing was very good.  American dice rolling was very bad.  So it goes.