Thursday 2 December 2021

Painting & Gaming Martlet

Managed to get in Game 2 (&3!) of Operation Martlet this week. At M's place again, as my home is still a building site... on the positive side, the shed construction seems to be going well, and the asbestos specialist gave it the all clear..

The old one was balanced on a series of slabs of concrete, stray rocks and essentially rubble. This one has a proper foundation (20 x 100mm posts concreted in). Essential if it is not to subside into the ground under the weight of the lead. I wish it could have been bigger, but the location is constrained by the deck and existing raised garden. 

So Operation Martlet, Game 2...  'Pushing On' 12th SS Panzer need to be pushed out so the Scots can push on. Again a nice table.

View from the German end

All locked down

His initial patrolling was good, getting a 6 for the number of patrol marker moves before I could respond. 

I placed one JOP just behind the central house, another in the orchard on my right and a further one, a little bit back on my left. With 2 x Panzer IV the road would be my main JOP in practice. 

This game we remembered to play the Mist rules from the campaign, and it was an utter disaster for the Scots. With my seven support points I had selected a second Panzer IV. Virtually none of their forces turned up, and when two turns had passed, the German Panzers roaming unopposed, and the Sherman and PIAT Team hd been irretrievably lost in the mist, Martin decided he simply had no AT capability, and pulled back. So much for Game 2. 

"Hallo Karl, have you seen any Tommies? Nein, they must have got lost"

Since the table was all set up, we pushed on and played Game 3, the Scots second attempt at this table (2). 

Initial rounds saw a flurry of 5's from Martin, and the deployment of his Sherman, a squad in the orchard on my right, an FOO (ouch!) and  Vickers MMG in the upstairs window of the large brick building on the right in the picture above. Meanwhile, I had failed to deploy anything through the naval bombardment (may only deploy on a roll of 5-6).  

And to make matters worse, the FOO brought down a stonk of mortars centred on the building just in front of my central JOP. (Personally, I would have waited till they were occupied..  but..)

Finally, 3d6 from Martin ended the turn, and his Sherman came off Overwatch.. and the mortars ceased. He had two CoC dice by this stage and could have kept the mortars going but elected not to... 

Inevitably, I then rolled 3 x 3 on my command dice and deployed both Panzer IV and one of the reduced squads under Scharfuhrer Groll lining the hedge in front of the orchard on my right. With two Pz IV versus a Sherman this was only going to have one outcome. Martin did consider running the damaged Sherman behind the buildings and out of the fight but elected to keep firing. 

At least it didn't explode...

There then followed a run of incredibly frustrating dice for me..  1's (no good as I had no teams), 4's (no good as I had no Senior Leader on the table, and when I decided I had to do something Lars failed to deploy due to the bombardment.. occasionally a 5, (I gradually got to 2 CoC dice), and single 6's. In the meantime Martin managed two double phases and an end of turn, deployed another squad centrally, in the meantime, moving his forces up from the orchard on my right. It felt like there were perhaps 6 or 7 phases (probably less, but it felt like more!), where I could do literally nothing in the face of the British advance.

Finally I was able to start exchanging shots between Groll's squad on my right, and the advancing Scots, but with the Vickers chipping in, I was getting the worst of it. In the centre, I could deploy into the building, but had no field of fire towards the orchard and they were threatening to overrun the JOP. I even burned a CoC dice to interrupt and try for a second round of fire on my right, but the kills refused to come and the German shooting caused very few casualties or shock. 

Finally, I had to sacrifice the JOP in the centre, pull back my right-hand JOP using another CoC dice, and try to push the Scharfuhrer's Panzer IV wide on my left to start lobbing HE at the house.

Martin deployed his third squad from the JOP on my left, to protect it from the Panzer IV now threatening it, but then hurried across the road. Not hurried enough though, lagging behind was costly as the second Panzer IV opened up on the stragglers, hitting and killing the Corporal...

Right hand 'Gruppe' fall back with 3 casualties and a lot of shock, that JOP just behind the hedge is about to be pulled back to behind the foreground building

And then the dice roll that changed the game...  Jurgen Dieff's PzIV punched a 75m HE shell into the brick building, killing two of the Vickers crew, but more importantly, hitting a vital structural spot, and the entire building collapsed, burying Platoon Sergeant Donaldson in the rubble. (4 x 6s). 

A last gasp ambush by the HQ PIAT team took some measure of revenge, lightly wounding Scharfuhrer Dieff who then pulled back. 

At this point Martin called it quits, with no real AT capability left, FM down to 4, and no real prospect of pushing through. So 12th SS hold their position. 

In the wash-up, with FM 8 vs FM 4, Groll's men return to duty, Pedersen is now content, his men are pleased and there will be +1 to the next FM roll, while his CO is also pretty happy and with a +3 rating will grant an additional point of support in the next engagement.

Pimpleton remains relaxed, but it remains to be seen whether he will get a replacement for Donaldson before they are called to fight again. Losses were relatively light, but his men are upset by the losses of their NCOs. FM will be -1 for the next fight.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Pimp My Ride

Following on from Game 1 in Operation Martlet, we checked for post game results and as we hadn't known which side we were playing in advance, rolled up the characteristics of the Leaders.

The British

Platoon Leader: Lt. Oliver Pimpleton a young  strapping six footer 19 year old who attended Mid Manor public school in the Midlands, although quite young he is very intelligent and charismatic. He is well aware to rely on his nco’s and take on board their advice when needed. Hopes to go to university after the war.

Platoon Sergeant: Sergeant Tom Donaldson,  a 27 year old steel factory worker from Motherwell Scotland, recently back from hospital after a bout of TB, he’s still recovering and although tall is very thin due to this.  Has been in the war since 1939 and is a very experienced NCO.

Section 1: Corporal Dean Quinn, a  26 year old an average guy who was an office clerk from Wales, a bit of a know it all and not entirely happy that he didn’t get promoted to Sergeant. He would rather be back behind his desk, than here, but who wouldn’t?

Section 2: Corporal Peter Tanning a 25 year old from just outside Birmingham in the Midlands, an average bloke who was happy to join up to see the world and get away from the farm and labouring. Hopes to make a career of the army.

Section 3: Corporal Andrew Cairnie, the oldest NCO in the platoon at 44 years old from the Midlands, but originally from Scotland. Ran away from home at an early age, eventually joined the circus and travelled the world.  A giant of a man and still athletic for his age,  hopes to emigrate to America after the war, where he spent a lot of time. Although very experienced, he’s seen too many people die needlessly to stick his neck out unless its absolutely necessary! 

The Germans

Zug Leader:  Oberscharfuhrer Lars Pedersen – a Doctor of Engineering, Lars is tall and thin, a little older than virtually all his men, at 28. From Koblenz, he was originally drafted in to engineering for the Panzer Regt – but was transferred to the footsloggers when they realised he was a chemical rather than a mechanical engineer.

Gruppe Eins: Scharfuhrer Max Dietrich, Age 21, from Berlin, his father was a factory worker and a Communist while Karl became an enthusiastic HJ member. He’s of average build, and otherwise unremarkable. 

Gruppe Zwei: Scharfuhrer Rolf Rechtsmann, Age 22, also from Berlin, his father was an industrial worker and Rolf (of course) another enthusiastic HJ member. He’s tall and thin, and somewhat grim for his years. 

Gruppe Drei: Scharfuhrer Manfred Groll, Age 26, originally from Bremen, Manfred is ex SA and formed an early cadre for the regiment due to his party loyalty and enthusiasm. He matured early and is a big man, a model citizen who has a fondness for drinking songs, and seems much older than the youngsters in his squad. 

And finally - 

Panzer Kommand: Scharfuhrer Jurgen Dieff, Age 22 a Schwabian farm boy, who was driving tractors as soon as they were introduced on the estate where his family had been tenants for generations. He's a model citizen of the Neue Deutschland.

Given that the Panzer G is a core part of the Zug, I thought that the least I could do is paint up a decent model for Jurgen. I have a resin Panzer IV G ('ish) that was free, but it never really grabbed me.  

I also had a Rubicon Wirbelwind kit, and there are sufficient sprues in the kit to build a Panzer IV G ('ish) plus the Wirbelwind turret, so that's what I did. 

[Edit - and I have just realised I put the two front hatches in upside down.. stupid careless mistake in a hurried build.  Live with it or damage the model taking them out?  I think the former for the moment, although I now can't un-see it.. ]

I looked at contemporary photographs of 12 SS Panzer Division tanks and they had an unusual numbering system, three digits beginning with high numbers and the numbers appeared to be very roughly hand painted, while the camouflage was relatively simple three colour late war. Balkankreuz were inconsistent. 

I also spotted at least two tanks in this series in photographs where the drivers visor and commanders cupola appear to sport the names of girlfriends. So we know that Jurgen's sweetheart is called Dora.

Apologies for the picture quality - Samsung released an 'upgrade' to the very high quality camera in the Galaxy S10, and it seems to flatten out the colours and details..  all very well for imperfections in skin, but rubbish for weathered AFV.

While I had the airbrush out, I printed off another SdKfz 250/1 for 'The Punch from Wunsche' a campaign counterattack which needs two Panzer V Panthers, and two SdKfz 250/1. 

Oh, and I have (optimistic) plans to paint kill rings on as required... 

Post game actions

Losses: British – support squad, 8 men, FM difference = 2 (10-8) so they adjust downwards to 6 losses, equal to 3 men dead. 

For the British – the Victory means the CO’s opinion improves +1 to 1, the men’s opinion was affected by losses, so is now -2. Lieutenant Pimpleton; who was originally relaxed, is now cheerful.     

For the Germans – the Losing Draw has left the CO’s opinion unchanged at 0. The men are delighted to have suffered no casualties while inflicting a few, and are at +2, the loss however has affected Lars, who is no longer relaxed, and he is 'thoughtful'.

So far, none of these will affect Support Points or Force Morale in the campaign, but Lars is hoping to score a win next time out.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Operation Martlet Game 1

Martin and I have played several one off games of Chain of Command, but we finally took the plunge and elected to start a campaign, using the Too Fat Lardies Operation Martlet 'Pint-Sized Campaign'. These little campaign books, together with the 'At the Sharp End' campaign rules, offer a lot of enjoyment 

(For examples of CoC campaigns, I couldn't do better than recommend 'The Tactical Painter' and his campaign AAR, or Tiny Hordes.)

So Martin set up the terrain (with one exception*) - and I brought figures and vehicles. Neither of us was particularly desperate to play either side so Martin rolled a dice and even result = British. 

Martlet is set very soon after D-Day with British forces attempting to push through West of Caen. And the game provided a very interesting example of the rules playing out. 

The scenario is a probe, with the British forces on the left attempting to get through the lines and exit the German base edge. 

The British, as in every game in the campaign, get a pre-game bombardment, this has the effect of making it a 50/50 whether German units can deploy onto table in each phase... On this table, they had 13 points of support.  The Germans may reinforce one of the sturdy French farm buildings into a 'bunker', and have 6 points of support. With their support - the British take a Sherman, an additional squad and a 2" mortar. The Germans take a second senior leader, and a tripod mounted MG42.

So to the game. Morale was 8 for the Germans and 10 for the British. 

The patrol phase was uneventful, the German jump-off point furthest West was in the building selected as a bunker.

As expected, the general lack of cover on the British (Northern) end of the table meant their markers were quite well back.

The view from the German end. The large red building has been reinforced as a bunker, and the British have the initiative, starting with a roll of 4,3,3,1,1.

Two squads are immediately deployed in the only real cover on the Western edge. In the building are members of the original platoon. behind it are an extra squad drafted in from another platoon as supports. 

Did I mention the extra 2" mortar, oh yes, it was going to be a game where I could see myself running out of smoke markers. The German phase saw them attempt to deploy their Panzer IVH and fail due to the pre-game bombardment. 

The British brought on a Sherman on the road, placing it on Overwatch, while the borrowed squad started to come round the side of the building towards the German positions. Despite being ordered to run, they managed a paltry 6" leaving them in the open.

With one British squad now in the open, the German roll was a fortuitous 6,6,5,5,2 a double phase  - I deployed my first squad successfully, and opened up with the two MG42... Hitting on 5-6.

Not bad...  and casualties 4 dead, Junior Leader wounded, and 1 shock. The Bad Things Happen roll was a 2, and so no impact on British Force morale. The second round of firing (using only 4 dice as we were playing that each additional phase cost one d6.) 

One of the rather nifty Warbases control dashboards. Very neat. And that 3 meant I could bring on my Panzer IV to take a shot at the Sherman - 9 attack dice hitting on 5-6... 

Not even average... with a net zero hits, the Sherman shrugs it off, and on Overwatch, hits with a roll of 8, makes 2 hits. I roll 2 saves, but on net zero hits, a roll of  is 1 shock and reverse 3 inches, which would take the PzIV halfway off the table..feverish rules consultation, several opinions found, and we decided to play the period and not the rules, as the road didn't simply cease to exist immediately behind the Panzer. An extra point of shock seemed sufficient, and the two settled down into a duel that should have been firmly to the advantage of the Germans, (similar armour rating, the German long 75 far superior to the M4 75mm), but dragged out for the rest of the game without a decisive result.

And now I got in my second round of fire against the infantry in the open. Another 2 dead and a point of shock. It all felt pretty comfortable for the MG42s.

Those unlucky supports.. taking a beating.. 

The tank duel continues. And the British push up another squad under the cover of the smoke. I desperately wanted to deploy a second squad, but couldn't get through the barrage. I did bring on one of my senior leaders, to add his initiatives to the squad mg gunners and ensure they could fire on a command die roll of 4. But nothing else made it.

More fire rained on the now pinned men of the additional squad..  their JL took another wound, again, no effect on Force Morale..

And now, the British command roll was 6,6,2,1,2 - the tank duel continued, but more importantly, the British squad ran 14" through mortar smoke into the lee of the farm building on the left of the bunker, out of the line of fire, and with the second roll of 3,3,1,5 another 11" accelerated them past the buildings, out of the line of fire, running pell mell for the table edge.. and Victory...    

I moved an MG42 team to put half fire on them, no effect, tried to deploy an additional squad to intercept, no joy! My final attempt was to bring on the tripod mounted MG42 behind the bunker, hoping to apply enough shock to slow them down, failed as well.  

As Martin picked up his dice to roll, a 1, a 2, a 3 would all see him run, with just 9 inches between him and the table edge. I joked that he needed 2 x 5s and 3 x 4s....    and he responded by rolling 5,5,5,5,4...  he couldn't run!  

But these 4 x 5 were enough to get him to a full Chain of Command dice, and so no matter what I did, he could interrupt to activate his squad and make the final sprint. Chariots of Fire music echoed subconsciously as his three dice totalled 10, with just 9" between him and the table edge....   

Probably one of the most unusual games I have ever played. Martin seized his chances, I couldn't deploy thanks to the bombardment, (or get a chain of command dice to end the turn, the bombardment and the smoke). I lost no casualties, Martin lost none of his core platoon and it's a Victory to the British in Game 1. (I reckon the Germans count a losing draw as they inflicted more casualties in losing.)

I was left with a couple of questions...  about the tank reversing partly off-table...   what counts as getting a team off table,  and why is 2" mortar smoke more impenetrable than high stone walls.... ah well - off to game 2 at my place in two weeks time. 

*and that terrain piece? I 3d printed the roadside cross, made up the base from MDF, painted and flocked it last night. This morning I picked t up to spray varnish it, and inadvertently sprayed it matt black....   doh! 


Saturday 13 November 2021

Well, that's torn it...

Northstar have a 'Not going to Salute' special - 20% off if you use their discount code..   so of course. 

Who doesn't need a platoon plus supports of US Infantry in greatcoats to do Bulge..  and Foreign Legion to do North Africa 1941, and then there's the ramshackle barn, oh, and oops..  3 of their unit specials plus Grenzers for the Seven Years War...

In the meantime, printing a roadside cross and an additional SdKfz250 to do the Too Fat Lardies Chain of Command Martlet campaign.. in the words of an old friend (whose father was an MG42 gunner in Berlin circa 1945) 'I so excite!!'

Sunday 31 October 2021

Malaya 1942

The last game we played was somewhat rushed in preparation. I finished off both the British and Japanese platoons for Malaya earlier this year, but have been waiting for the publication of the Far East supplement by the Too Fat Lardies for Chain of Command. The rules for jungle fighting in CoC seem to have had a couple of iterations and my thinking was that I should wait until they were finalised. But whatever. Martin was coming round, so I used the first scenario in the 2015 Christmas Special Malaya Campaign. 

British troops are defending a position astride the road, the Japanese attempting to push through. A cracking game, the British eventually being forced to pull back. It was notable for the use of a Boyes AT rifle, a Lanchester armoured car, and a Japanese Ha Go light tank... and some astonishing dice rolling.

And I realised three boxes of Jungle terrain was insufficient...  the British are closest to camera while the Japanese have snuck a jump off point right up the British right and in secondary jungle.

Which the Japanese emerge from, but can't advance as they will be facing a British section on overwatch and would take heave casualties. 

One section plus the AT rifle are in the treeline, the section have entrenchments, (not depicted as I couldn't find the box they were in..) - and being in different cover, I was able to target the AT team separately.

The other British section on overwatch on the British left, also in entrenchments...

Here comes the Lanchester, 0.50 vickers spiting death.. or not.  

The distant Ha Go is getting the better of the exchange...  what's that you say, AT capability of 4 x d6 and 5s and 6s are hits?  Ka Boom!

The Japanese knee mortar squad plus a tripod MMG are taking all the hits, and losing men in the unequal fight with Marin's entrenched infantry.

Not helped whenMartin adds a mortar to the mix - the MMG is lost and the knee mortar squad retires behind cover, I add a senior leader and start trying to get them back into some sort of order.

I've pulled back, and the wounded Junior leader needs the platoon sergeant to help him out

However, as the knee mortar squad pulled back, I started to score hits on the British centre squad, whittling it down with the Ha Go and the central Japanese squad until it broke. Martin saw the writing on the wall, and tried a Hail Mary shot throwing his left-most squad into hand to hand with the survivors of the knee mortar squad.. 

It was brief, and bloody..   reducing the Japanese Force Morale to 2, but it now left Martin with one remaining squad, nothing to deal with the Ha Go and two relatively intact Japanese squads. He decided withdrawal was the best option...

Thoroughly enjoyable as always and a very close game. 

Friday 29 October 2021

Lots happening - A big update

I kept meaning to post an update, but have been so preoccupied that I haven't made the time. Lots of reasons I won't bore you with, holes in ceilings, tradesmen painting and building things, new puppies, work being particularly intense. But enough of that. On to wargames. 

Ok, well, maybe just one of Mac discovering Netflix...

Anyway, Martin introduced me to the Great Escape Games Cold War rules '7 Days to the River Rhine' and we had a test run. Well, two actually - the simple all armour engagements we tried out (Syrians vs Israelis) were very fast, and we played two games, swapping sides. Honours were even to the players. the Israelis, not so much.

Those of you who have read this blog for a while might remember me airbrushing some Soviet Cold War armour, as a potential opponent for my Danish forces...

So having played the rules, I bought them, and started printing...

First up some BMP for me, Centurions with dozer blades and T62 for Martin...  And then I really got stuck in.. 

And those Soviet infantry I mentioned that had been hiding in a box since 2017, well they finally emerged blinking - and a single day was all it took to get them based and almost (flocking required) good to go. 

Of curse, being me, it didn't stop there. I figured that there were too many Soviets for the Danes to handle on their own, so Colonel Bill's secondhand figures furnished some BAOR infantry with SLR and Sterling SMG. And the printer whirred into life again. The airbrush needs to be hauled out, and camo netting added, but these bad boys should keep the T62s honest.

Oh, and the other week we played another game... one I have wanted to run for a while. Here's a teaser with more to follow.

Painting has been patchy - but a few things are nearing completion...