Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Meeting at Longlier - CDTOB AAR Part 2

We continued our slow progress through the Meeting at Longlier scenario once more. The fighting is becoming more intense, Longlier is occupied by entire battalions from both sides and the Germans are desperately attempting to march around the French flanks.
The situation at the end of Turn 6
As can be seen from the map above, the French advanced rapidly to form up a line centred on Longlier. The Germans are trying to flank the French on the right with a battalion or more of infantry (it feels like more at the moment!) and the German recon cavalry is in the north-west of the map attempting to gallop around and capture the built-up areas behind French lines. Not all units are shown on the map, for the sake of clarity.
The view from the German lines at the end of Turn 4
Turn 4 saw the French artillery deployed and ready to rain all-out thermonuclear heck on the Germans, while troops of both sides marched towards the front at full speed. We set to and I gleefully rolled for artillery response for my first artillery unit. No response. I rolled for the second. No response. What were these idiots up to? I cursed my gunners as they failed to fire at all.

Meanwhile Longlier was becoming the Stalingrad of the Lorraine area. Both armies occupied it but neither was making much headway as new troops were fed in from the rear. On the German left flank forces were building up and things were starting to look dicey for the French.
View from the French end of the table at the end of Turn 5
Turn 5 began with the artillery stonk that I had hoped for on the previous turn. It was much better than the planned stonk from the previous turn because the Germans had parked all their artillery in the walled field to the east of Longlier (top of the picture above). A couple of artillery templates covered the artillery and some infantry, and some lucky dice rolling destroyed the entire artillery battalion. BOOM! The infantry were not happy either. Suddenly the field was empty.

The fighting in Longlier continued as more troops were fed into the meatgrinder, and the German left flank continued to march around towards the French artillery. It looked like they would be able to charge the artillery on the next turn, which would probably not go that well for the guns and the gunners.
End of Turn 6 as taken by an observation pilot in a Bleriot plane. North is to the top of the picture.
The start of turn 6 went well for the French. All the guns fired, suppressing infantry in Longlier and blunting the flanking attack. Better yet, the French won the initiative and were able to charge the first flanking force, destroying part of it and causing the rest to become shaken. The fight in the eastern woods dragged on with honours being even on both sides, but the French troops became pinned by their opponents. Next turn may not go well for them and reinforcing companies are also advancing rapidly around the flank. It may be too late for an orderly withdrawal from that side of the battlefield, but there are no strategic objectives there, so sucking the Germans into a drawn out firefight might actually work in the long run, but at the cost of some brave poilus.

In Longlier casualties mounted up but no progress was being made. Meanwhile the French had a company advancing around both sides of the town. It will be tough digging the Germans out, but it is still a possibility.

To the north of Longlier, German infantry and cavalry were advancing round the flank. A battalion of French infantry was deployed to try to cut them off. The French cavalry who had held part of the town from the start mounted up and moved out through the infantry lines to try to catch the German cavalry and sort it out.

We've made mistakes with the rules along the way, but the scenario is turning out to be good fun. Fog of War cards add something to the chaos without unbalancing the game, and the forces seem fairly evenly matched. Steve is showing his tricksy side with his flanking manoeuvres while I have focused on driving through the middle in best Viking berserker tradition. It's a shame that we cannot play more and finish it sooner but overall I think I have sold Steve on CDTOB now.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Norway 1940 in 15mm

Many years ago I converted a bunch of Peter Pig and Old Glory 15mm DAK troopers into a Norwegian army for PBI2. Since those heady days, the figures have languished in a box file awaiting a return to PBI2 or any other game system that will permit their use. Then, earlier this year, my friend Nathan suggested playing the scenarios from the Skirmish Campaigns Norway 1940 scenario book. I had the book, I had the figures, and I was sold instantly. There was just a small matter of buying a few Brits and some Frenchmen for some of the scenarios, but I could live with that, so I dug them out and began transferring them from multibases to skirmish bases. More recently, Feathersword on the Command Decision forum was asking about Norwegians so I responded, and he responded by asking for photos. These are some photos of my Norwegian army in response to his request. Hopefully it will not be too long before I get the scenarios played too, although my friend has inconveniently decided to breed a proto-wargamer in the meantime which is likely to mean reduced opportunities for gaming.

Officers

I think both of these are pretty much straight from the PP DAK officers pack

Officer and LMG Gunner
Officer as above. The LMG gunner is a British Bren Gunner with pack removed and head swapped for a DAK head, which is close enough to the Norwegian cap for my purposes.

MG Gunners
The LMGs in this photo are a British Bren Gunner and a Japanese LMG. The number 2s on the guns are both Japanese. The MMG is a British Vickers with the barrel end cut about a bit. The gunners had their packs removed and their heads swapped. It's close enough to the Colt for wargames purposes. I think I may have the ammo feed from the wrong side, but it's hard to tell in the photos I've seen because the same photo is printed both right way round and reversed, and there is nothing to tell me which is which.

Riflemen
For the riflemen I mostly used DAK riflemen, but I also used Germans and Russians in greatcoats for that winter chic. The guys on the left are partisans or RCW types who I use as local volunteers with no military equipment. It may not be entirely right, but it is romantic.

Ski Troops
It's not Norway without skis. These are German ski troops with helmets removed where necessary and caps added.

Sniper
A German sniper straight from the PP pack painted in Norwegian uniform.

Mortar
More DAK troops to provide support. This time a medium mortar. Let's hope that gunner is carrying tins of ammunition and not more lutefisk.

75mm Gun
This 75mm gun is the bastard offspring of a British 18lber and a Krupp 77mm from the PP WW1 range. It has the old-style wheels because apparently only a very few 75s were converted to pneumatic tyres for towing by vehicles. The crew are more PP DAK troops.

Looking at these guys, I now have a nostalgic urge to play PBI2 again, and a strong desire to cover my gaming table in snow.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Meeting at Longlier - CDTOB AAR Part 1


Last night, we continued the Command Decision: Test of Battle game that we began last week. At our current rate of progress it will take us another couple of weeks to finish the game. The scenario is the second one in the Death of Glory supplement. It pits the French versus the Germans in the Lorraine area in August 1914. Both sides have a regiment of infantry, a battalion of artillery and a recon cavalry squadron. The game will be 8-12 turns long depending upon a random die roll.

The game began with the recon cavalry ensconced in and around Longlier. The French had dismounted to occupy the town better while the Germans remained mounted. Reinforcements in the form of a battalion from the regiment arrive each turn, marching to the sound of the guns. The German artillery battalion must arrive as a unit, while the French artillery battalion arrives as individual batteries together with an infantry battalion. After three turns the French forces have all arrived and the final German battalion is nearing the battle area.
The situation at the end of turn 3 (Not all units are shown to make things clearer)
The French in blue arrived from the south. The Germans in grey arrived from the north-east. As you can see, a traffic jam was building in the town of Longlier. The northernmost French recon cavalry unit (hollow blue symbol) charged the German recon cavalry in the rear but the Germans were able to turn to face and eliminated the French unit. It was at this point that I realised that cavalry charging get no significant benefit from doing so. Boo! We are French, we are dressed well and we have style. We deserve significant bonuses for that!!
The table at the end of turn 3
At least by this stage I have deployed two artillery pieces and can bring fire to bear on the Germans. With any luck I can suppress the enemy infantry with artillery fire in the next turn and my brave poilus can charge home and drive the enemy from the woods with great elan. For the rest of it, I think there is going to be a turn or two of marching and re-ordering the troops so that we can occupy good firing positions and protect our homeland.
View from the west towards Longlier. French troops march bravely to support their brethren while singing lustily as they go
The scenario requires both sides to capture built-up areas, and to destroy the enemy. There are 3 victory conditions: one for capturing the most built-up areas, one for destroying enemy personnel (infantry/cavalry) stands, and one for destroying enemy artillery stands. The winner is the player that has achieved more victory conditions. I made some French and German flags to mark control of the built-up areas.
View from the south-western road. My artillery deployed on the reverse slope where their commander can call fire onto the enemy positions. A second artillery piece will take up position next turn
I am hoping that artillery on this hill in the south-east corner of the table will be a good firing position for my artillery. With two pieces there and the artillery battalion commander, I can call fire onto the approaching Germans and also shell Longlier in support of my own troops as needed. It only requires that my infantry drive off the Germans in the woods. I think I'm going to need better dice!

Figures by Irregular Miniatures
Hexes are GHQ Terrain Maker hexes that I fettled myself

Monday, 25 August 2014

Ancient Black Ops - TV Series


A new TV series Ancient Black Ops will be airing on Yesterday from 17th September. It is a series of programmes about various elite warriors of the past. The first episode is about the Assassins, and will be followed by an episode about the Spartans. Probably airing sometime in October will be a programme on Berserkers, in which I am the talking head. It was good fun filming it earlier this year. Look out for my natty woolly jumper if it makes it into shot.

I have no idea how the programme will have been edited, or anything like that, so I shall just blame all bad things on the editors (the producer was lovely so it's not her fault at all! :) ). The programme on Berserkers will be followed by one on The Varangian Guard to keep the Vikingophiles happy.

I suppose I had better get back to my normal service now. I'll try to get the next Scarlet Heroes session up soon, and there will be photographs from our refight of the battle at Longlier on August 22nd 1914. I meant to take a photo at the end of the session last week, but forgot, so I must try to remember to do so tomorrow evening.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

I am officially a world expert!


If Professor Judith Jesch says it (or tweets it) then it must be true. My twitter ID is @Berserkjablogg and I have a much-neglected but doing better Viking-themed blog on Wordpress if you want to check that out too.

Basically, this means that I passed my PhD on berserks in May. Pass with corrections gives me 3 months to submit an approved version of my thesis and is the most common result. So, I submitted the corrections in July and they have now been approved. The corrections were not overly onerous and it is a satisfying conclusion to a part-time PhD that has occupied most of my forties. Next up is actually paying for the hard-bound copy to be produced and submitted. Eep! My wallet is already cringing in anticipation of the hit. Once the final version has been submitted, I shall be Dr Dale and my wife will have to start keeping a diary to broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. I look forward to listening to it.

With the corrections submitted, I really am the world expert on Viking berserkers. I have to admit to being pretty damn chuffed about this. Expect future discussions on forums about the subject to implode as a result of me stating 'I'm right, because Dr Berserker!'. ;)

Now I just need to get a proper job again, write the thesis up as a book, write a couple of articles based on it and write a popular publication on berserks that is targeted at the wargaming market. Not much to do then, eh?

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

16-24 Thaumont 1000 AC - A Harrowing Journey

Broneslav woke early at the keep. He had little choice because the dormitory where he slept was too busy to permit him to sleep late. With no choice but to get up, Broneslav broke his fast as heartily as possible and set out into the grey drizzle of the day. The road northwards was largely empty with only the occasional traveller heading southwards. The first two days passed in a misty haze but on the third day disaster struck.

The mist had cleared by mid-day but a hunting red dragon spotted Broneslav and soared down from the clouds. It was a few hundred yards away when Broneslav noticed it. With few places to hide he unslung his bow and loosed a stream of arrows at the creature. Those that hit it bounced off its armoured scales. It roared and a stream of flame poured over Broneslav (-4 HPs). He gritted his teeth against the pain and dived forwards under the advancing dragon. His sword slid off its steel-hard scales but he had not seriously been trying to hurt it. The blow was just reflex. The dragon tried to claw him as he rolled forwards. One mighty claw struck him and sent him hurtling off the path into a small ravine caused by a stream. Fortunately the foot-long claw only caught him a glancing blow that slid off his armour (0 damage). Wet and muddy, Broneslav let the blow's momentum keep him moving and squelched towards a narrow gap that he had spotted. Fire erupted behind him as the dragon breathed again. The stream's water boiled and steamed. The hissing covered Broneslav's escape and he was soon huddled away from the dragon's gaze as it rampaged by the road looking for its meal. Eventually it gave up and went looking for easier dinner.

Why do I keep rolling dragon encounters in the mountains? I did not think that Broneslav could survive this, but he is meant to be heroic so he fired his bow at the dragon as it approached. He missed lots and was then hit by its breath weapon. Basic D&D has an evasion roll for wilderness encounters. I rolled that Broneslav was able to evade this encounter and wrote that into the story afterwards. At least he will have something to tell people. He probably needs a new cloak now too.

On the sixth day out from Duke's Road Keep, Broneslav saw two stone giants fighting near the road. He sneaked around them. He was still hurting from the encounter with the dragon and did not want to draw attention to himself once more. "One day, though," he thought, "One day I shall wear that dragon's hide."

On the eighth day he made it out of the mountains and onto the plains. He was in Darokin now. Late in the evening he strode into the village of Reedle. This was the first proper settlement in Darokin on this road. Gratefully he slumped onto a bench in the local inn and ordered a meal and a bath. He decided to rest up for a day and continue on the following day. There would be time enough to complete his mission after he had recovered from his journey through the mountains.


Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 60
Traits:
Torenescu Family Member 1
Hunter 1
Keen Vision 1
Good Education 1
Empathy with Animals 1
Goal: Prove that he is an adult following the Shearing Ceremony
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Prelude to a Meeting at Longlier, 22 August 1914 [CDTOB]

It has been a long time coming but I think we are finally going to play a WW1 game tonight. I have spent ages fettling my GHQ Terrain Maker hexes, cutting them true so that there are not too many gaps between them, and reflocking many of them. I have reworked the stream/river hexes with new paint and a spot of Woodland Scenics Realistic Water. I have painted a bunch more buildings so that we have enough built-up areas. N.B. I am not a fan of painting buildings. I never seem to get them quite right, so I tend not to have enough. Not being able to afford to buy more at the moment, some of the buildings for tonight's game are really medieval cottages. It bothers me a bit, but not enough to do anything about it! Fields were constructed to provide additional cover and the roads were fettled to my satisfaction. It's not perfect but I am much happier with the hexes than I was in my previous post about them. The answer is to trim the bought hexes and supplement them with some hand-cut ones that I made myself. The 1/4" hexes that I used for my old rivers are still not right, but I can replace them later as I build terrain for more new scenarios. I have also had to make compromises with some hastily constructed templates, because some of the wooded areas are sized to be only really useful for this scenario. I'm not going to make specialist hexes with limited usefulness until I have a much fuller set of more useful terrain.

My French army for this battle is fully painted and all units now carry objective/control markers to demoralise Steve by clearly showing how much of the table my troops control. Expect to see the Tricolore being raised above each town and village as I capture it. This is sure to be a morale victory for me that will lead Steve to surrender in record time!

So, the terrain is set up, and I now eagerly anticipate some family emergency occurring and forcing us to cancel. If it does not, then tonight we shall refight an action at Longlier that took place on August 22nd 1914. The scenario is number 2 in the Death of Glory supplement for Command Decision: Test of Battle. The scenario begins with cavalry recon elements encountering each other at Longlier. They are reinforced as the game goes on by a regiment of infantry each, supported by a battalion of artillery. The goal is to capture the built-up areas and destroy the enemy.

The game will be fought using Irregular 6mm miniatures.
The view from the west. A French cuirassier squadron (centre) rides towards Longlier
A passing aeroplane snapped this aerial shot from the west
The view from the south. French reinforcements enter from the south. German reinforcements enter from the east.