Sunday 31 March 2013

Delium BC 424 : Part IV (The Mounting Crisis)

With the untimely death of their fellow Psilio, the remaining Athenian light infantry on the Athenian left sought the protection of the heavy Athenian hoplite infantry (see below):  

The situation was still fluid on the Athenian right wing. True, the outnumbered Athenian Psilio were now retiring, but the cavalry dance was still in play and the Athenian C-in-C was still looking for an opportunity to exploit the multi-move potential of his light horse (see below): 

The Theban general however cannily kept the Athenian light horse locked down with an enemy unit of cavalry within its "Zone of Control" ZOC (see below):

Precipitously the Athenian left wing commander (not the overall Athenian C-in-C) unilaterally thinks the time has come to try and force the outcome with hoplites in the middle of the battlefield as he has a small tactical 'evener' with the supporting Psilio now overlapping the Theban right on the hill. If he could turn the Theban flank then hill or no hill victory was still a possibility (see below):

The Athenian C-in-C is torn as there is still no clear winner on his right hand side flank. The Theban light infantry are advancing, hell bent of killing their Athenian counterparts but the Athenian cavalry could still "win the day" (see below)

He does not advance his hoplites, perhaps this "none move" could serve as an effective ruse to bring the Thebans off that "hill"?

Meanwhile the moment of truth has come for the Athenian cavalry (see below). In addition the Theban light Psilio seem much more interested in pillaging oot from the Athenian baggage train than assisting their static hoplites.

The Athenians gave a pause for some serious thought: 
  • Athenian left wing: 2 Stands lost (with a third in deadly peril), 50% to demoralisation
  • Athenian right wing: 1 Stand lost, 25% to the demoralisation total
Athenian army breakpoint is currently 25% (3 out of the 12 required) and against the above tally their have been no Theban casualties inflicted.

The Athenian right wing is in crisis. When outnumbered (as per the above cavalry) and with only one "recoil space" between you and your own baseline this is generally not a good position to be in. That stand can only be thought of as already lost, but "what" can you do in the time available before that happens?

Next: The Athenian response

Saturday 30 March 2013

Delium BC 424 : Part III (Fateful Combat)

The Thebans aggressively came forward on the Athenian left (see below):  

And the Athenian right (see below):

A series of shattering defeats shocked the Athenian C-in-C as first the Athenian Psilio on the right hand side died (see below): 

Followed by the Athenian left wing cavalry being mercilessly pushed back (see below):

And a stand of Athenian left wing Psillio also dying (see below):

Three combats, two defeats and a recoil. The only sensible move left for the Athenian is to "back off" on the Athenian left wing and 'fight to win' elsewhere (see below).

What is there an Athenian Plan B?

Friday 29 March 2013

Delium BC 424 : Part II (Clash of Arms)

On the left cavalry wing the Athenian 'feels lucky' and 'wants to get on with it' (must be Alcibiades leading from the front) and charge to contact, all they need now is 'good dice' (see below): 

However all that happens is a stand off as the horses are "locked in melee" (see below):

In the subsequent round the Thebans score a telling blow on the Athenian Light Horse (alas for Alcibiades a promising career cut short, but perhaps in the long run it would have been all the better for Athens). First blood to Thebes (see below):

The light s are also now within 'insult throwing and rude gesticulations' range but not combat (see below):

Over on the Athenian right flank the lights close to combat as the cavalry "dance" (see below):

The lights on the left flank 'bounce' in and out of a bloodless first round of combat (see below):

The posturing has stopped, the Athenians have been unsuccessful in the initial cavalry skirmish but there are three other light/wing battles still to resolve.

What will the Athenians do next? Continue at the edges or try and force the issue in the middle?

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Delium BC 424 : Part I (Opening Moves as the Wings Jockey for Position)

The Generals sat comfortably (Thebans to the top, Athenians bottom, see below) with ale, coffee, water, biscuits, crisps and cakes to hand (who said wargamers aren't as dedicated as Olympic athletes? See below).

The historic scenario options (Theban 'deep phalanx' and 'Athenian characters' [aka Socrates and Alcibiades]) had not been chosen, so the Thebans were left sitting in a strong defensive position on a hill, lined toe-to-toe with the Athenians below them. Historically the Athenians initially "saw a chance" with the slight overlap in the main hoplite battle lines. In this replay however the Thebans had no reason (as yet) to leave their defensive position of strength, so the Athenians strategy revolved around getting the Thebans out of their comfort zone and off the hill. The Athenians boldly decided to take the initiative and "attack on the wings" hoping for 'good luck' with the dice along the way.  

The Athenian light Psilio on the left flank quickly crowded into the defensively good (at least for their troop type) 'rough' terrain, far away from the sound of advancing horses hooves (see below):

The Athenian right flank assumes a symmetric strategy as the Athenian cavalry keep pace with their light infantry (see below):  

The Thebans are keen to enter the game, as they perceive they have a slight tactical advantage in the fact they have two cavalry stands to their opponents one cavalry and one light horse stand. The Theban light troops are primarily interested in defending the ends of their hoplite battle line (see below):

The symmetry is again very noticeable (see below):

Although in a surprise move the Athenians on the right flank pull back, or are they seeking to exploit teh faster speed of the Athenian "light horse". With a good dose of pips it could in theory race past the slower Theban cavalry (see below):

The opening moves end with a tense sense of of expectation.

Next: First Clash of Arms

Monday 25 March 2013

Return to Delium 424 BC : New Terrain

As a bit of a break from the WWII 'battalion attack' project I decided to take a fresh view of my recent BBDBA battle of Delium 424 BC in the Peloponnesian War. My last attempt was fun but suffered from a 'magnetic draw to the middle', as opposed to three separate [wing:middle:wing] engagements. I decided it would be fun making a bit of 'bespoke terrain' from the scraps and bits and bits and pieces lying around after the 'battalion attack' board making frenzy.

See below for the "Hill of Delium" and the flanking areas of 'rough' (I chose not to try and include the rivers diorama style as I wanted to keep the terrain simple for the novice players I intended to play it with) that separated the flanks from the hill:  

I mocked up what the overall battlefields should look like (see below):

As a start-up condition (non-standard BBDBA) deployment I was thinking of forcing the lights and cavalry of either side to deploy as a contiguous group to the left and right of the areas of rough group (see the next two photographs below):  

Note: The green cloth was just a "handy" mock-up prop that was not quite big enough but sufficed. 

If the historical Theban Phalanx option was chosen then the Athenians would have a gap to exploit on their right flank.

I was quite pleased with the 'look' of the terrain and the approximation to the challenges of Delium, but what would the players make of it?

Thursday 21 March 2013

Battalion Attack: Fire and Movement - Board Part VI (Terrain Generation)

One of the interesting aspects of "Fire and Movement" is the random terrain generation, with each hexagon having a one in six chance of being occupied with a terrain piece (see below):
  • Green equals Woods
  • Orange equals Ridges/Low Hills
  • Black equals Farm 

Like all generated schemes, it seems to inevitably produce a much 'stranger' set-up (but who is to say that is not more realistic) than the 'aesthetic' wargamers-eye terrain placement.

The defender then chooses which baseline to defend and in this case the German player chooses the bottom. Why? Two thirds of the defensible terrain is there (as the defender can deploy up to and including half way in) and it also denies the attacker the luxury of the two orange ridge lines/low hills being used as a fire base for HMG overhead fire.

The above set-up seems to suggest the British are attempting an outflanking manoeuvre to the (their) left of a more heavily wooded sector. The open farmland poses its own problems.

Next: Tarting up the terrain

Thursday 14 March 2013

Battalion Attack: Fire and Movement - Board Part V

The mysterious "glue gun" revealed (not as you may have thought, a reference to a non-lethal urban crowd control mechanism but a method of sticking cardboard together) and waiting for its first hexagon. Seeing as the tip of the "glue gun" can reach a temperature of 200 degrees centigrade it should be handled with fair bit of care (see below):

The "glue gun" ammo, two "glue sticks" (see below):

The finale, hexagons laid out ready to be finally glued in place, the first row done (see below):

Trial layout, taking the attacking "British Infantry Battalion" + "HMG Support" out of the box and putting it against the defending "Two German Infantry Companies" (see below):

The British infantry stands on the black (off table) would be deemed "in reserve" allowed to come on from any British baseline "hex". Missing are company designations and markers to denote "fresh" and "spent" status. Also missing id terrain other than the default "open" fields

Next: Random Terrain Generation 

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Battalion Attack: Fire and Movement - Board Part IV

So ... this is what I should have done in the first place, hexagons pointing up (long grain as per 'rice'[?], see below):

Seeing as I had painted out a  completely different sized board it seemed such a darned pity to 'waste' a useful game board by covering it up again, hence I transferred the hexagons to an alternative 'fresh' board (see below):

The new board got two coats of undercoat black (see below), a darkish brow/black house hold matt paint we (as in the family) had inherited after moving in to the new house. It was the leftover paint for a wall that was top of the list to paint another colour. I had silently spied out this colour for a' wargame' use a long time ago and now Maitland this was your time, sorry getting a little carried away.

The forlorn, but useful hexagaons are stacked in a quiet corner (see below): 

This was also the perfect opportunity while the black/brown under coat was drying to seal up the edges of the hexagons a brownish colour, I had noticed an annoyingly small amount of white showing through in the original set-up (see below, hexagons left to dry over night): 

Then a trail run. Do they fit? There is a slight overhang to the left but I can live with that (see below):

Next: Sticking it down "again" (or should I say "hopefully stuck down and staying down this time")

Monday 11 March 2013

Battalion Attack: Fire and Movement - Board Part III

The "battalion attack" battle board Hexagon story continued ...

The basic green with a little flock was covered with a "sprayed" PVA and the hexagon bases were permanently (or what I thought would be permanently) attached to the card with a [OK fairly cheap, low cost] "glue gun" melting long "gun sticks" which was all pretty cool stuff to use (see below for the reasonable end result, as in I could turn the board upside down and nothing fell off):

Note: The 'sophisticated PVA dispenser" was an ex-household cleaner product (now empty) bottle salvaged from the recycle bin for an honourable "second life" as a wargaming scenery making tool. Hexagons firmly affixed to said board, I then turned my attention to the gaps between the hexagons and for no better reason than "I could" and "I fancied a go" I filled in the brown again, painting out any bits showing obvious 'white' card (see below for the result):

I have to confess, I then got the "FLOCK IT" urge as I found a jar of brown scenery "pebbles" and proceeded to scattered them all over a newly added wet PVA surface (again using said PVA dispenser (see below, you can tell "I was in the scenery zone"):

In my rummage through "old half used tins of DIY products I was not going to use any more" I came across a tin marked 'sealant' (of sorts) and thought it would be a fitting end to an adventurous night to apply this. The coverage was good, though it was a little on the smelly side, so I was sure glad that I was doing it in the garage and not in the family home. With a sense of anticipation I left it overnight to dry (see below, still in its wet state): 

The morning after ...

Oh dear (or strong industrial words to that effect) there had been "a bad chemical reaction" with the sealant, glue and sticky label backing paper I had used to originally mark out the hexagon shapes as I cut it from the cardboard. Put simply, the hexagons started falling off.


A major rework was now set in motion and a fair bit of glue peeling had to be done which was really tough on the fingernails (see below):

 As strange as it may seem there was a "silver lining" moment to all this tragedy.


Then there was a naked moment of truth and realisation in that "I had done it wrong in a big way already (before things had started peeling off)". As I looked back at Phillip Sabin's Simulating War book, I could that see to my horror that I had chosen the "wrong grain" of hexagon placement in the first place. Meaning, instead of eight "flats" along the baseline I needed eight "points" (see later photographs for clarity on this, but trust me I had stuck them wrongly in typical DIY man style by not going back to check with the instructions).

The board was just to say 'not big enough', just (grrrr ...) to rotate by 90 degrees and add two more columns. So they would all have had to come off anyway. To calm my nerves I decided to start painting the whole of the 'underside of the board' brown (see below): 

Painted brown (see below)!

This was a really cool result, as it reminds me of a WWI battlefield (maybe good for Canvas Eagles) or a Science Fiction planet. The previous flocking made the hex sides stand out in a cool but subtle fashion. I decided to put this board to the side, keep it as it stands and start afresh with the hexagons on a new blank board.

The moral of the story was: "All was not lost despite nothing going quite to plan!" 

Sunday 10 March 2013

Interesting Site?

Calling itself the (British) ARmy Rumour SErvice:

Saturday 9 March 2013

WWII Battle: German Panzer Grenadier Attack (Breakthrough) Part V

The hard working British artillery crews manning the RHA 25 pounders paused and looked up. High above them a distracting sound came looming and booming, becoming louder and louder. The noise turned into a high pitched wail as the gunners recognised their foe to be the deadly German aerial artillery, "Stukas"! (see below): 

The first attack of cannon was sufficient to disrupt and suppress both of the guns (see below):

Then the bombs landed with pinpoint accuracy and blew the 25 pounders, limbers, trucks and crews apart. There would be no more friendly artillery support for the British commander (see below):

On the front-line the morale of the beleaguered British infantry battalion collapsed and as the situation had threatened it would do. The battalion ceased to exist as an effective fighting force. The German formation, supported in its attack with a battalion behind it, suffering only minor causalities and having no suppressions, having a regimental commander screaming for immediate exploitation of these favourable developments, not to mention the battalion's own veteran status 'passed' its status check with flying colours. The British linear defensive position had been completely turned. The only British stand in camera shot below is the British FOO who had just lost his artillery and was about to be removed from play (see below, top middle [white based counter]):

The German third infantry formation advanced with the intention of becoming the support battalion to the veteran Panzer Grenadiers, while the 'spent' German battalion would recover its suppressions and push on to the enemy baseline to secure the off table bridges (see below):

The German 'veteran' battalion mounted back up into their half tracks and pushed on into the British defensive vacuum (see below):

The game was called at this point as a major German "strategic victory".

Technically the Germans still had to clear a wood in the middle of the table that overlooked a portion of the "road to the sea", however the British forces were now: out of artillery support, had also started taking "regimental status checks", were outflanked, out numbered [at best 2:1 but possibly as bad as 3:1 depending on the tactical situation], were fighting with a 'green' battalion [as in the 'weak' battalion in the woods] versus 'veteran' Germans, were also facing the prospect of receiving Stuka dive bombing attacks now the British artillery had been taken out (and their low/crumbling morale would certainly not like that), they (the British) would be hit by a divisional concentration of German artillery and at last, at very last, the German regimental infantry gun should get a chance to fire at them (something I had attached to the third battalion as opposed to what I should have done, namely having it being called in to fire indirect all game as a regimental asset). 

It was a 'very good' (if not frightening) game to play, certainty having the feel of France 1940. It lasted some three and a half hours and was the most 'conclusive game' of WWII combat using the Battle Group Commander rules I have yet played. There were two players and an umpire. I have to thanks the BGC lads at Hartlepool for putting on a great little scenario.


And I am looking forward to the next one!