Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bolt Action: Operation Frühlingserwachen

Place: Lake Balaton
Date 15th March 1945
Mission: Operation Frühlingserwachen (Spring Awakening)

The German 6th Army spearheads Germany's last offensive on the Eastern Front. The aim is to break through Soviet defences north of lake Balaton and swing north along the Danube to capture Budapest. The attack is led by Hitler's Black Guards, the Waffen SS.

After nine days heavy fighting the SS have forced their way through 30km of Soviet defensive belts. Sensing a breakthrough, a small SS reconnaissance unit is inserted through a gap in the last Russian line. It consists of two squads of SS infantry supported by a light armoured car led by SS Oberscharführer  John.

They make for an, astonishingly, undamaged, villa which it appears to be abandoned. At this point a Soviet field gun reveals its position on a hill behind the villa by opening fire. The villa was my objective.

My opponent, Commissar Andy Singleton, commanded a horde of Soviet infantry supported by a maxim gun and a light howitzer.

The field gun must have been crewed by experten, or a jammy bunch of so-in-sos, because they landed their first shell right in amongst one of my sections before they could deploy and then plastered the pinned section until it was destroyed. The carnage was appalling.

I would make two observations: (i) the danger of fielding a small elite combat group is that they can be brittle - one cannot sustain losses, and (ii) artillery is unpredictable in Bolt Action but it has the capacity to cause mayhem to infantry.

On the plus side my second section and armoured car made the shelter of the villa.

Unfortunately the horde of Soviets made it to the other side and a firefight developed.

 The first order dice out of the cup was red and the Soviets made it into the villa. The SS immediately counterattacked and, supported by the 20mm cannon on the armoured car, stormed the villa killing all the Russians inside.

A vicious exchange of fire ensued. The Soviets forced their way into the villa, and were forced out at bayonet point. The SS veterans killed two or three Soviets for every casualty, the Oberscharführer personally shooting the Soviet Lieutenant and female Medic.

The bystanders, we were playing in a Medway pub, jeered at this point. There were some comments about the lack of sportsmanship at shooting a lady but I silenced the criticism by pointing out that we were the bloodstained psychotic thugs of the SS.

What did they expect?

I was eventually down to the Oberscharführer and an MG42 gunner. Eventually they were raked by the far off maxim gun and the Commissar ran into the villa to personally execute the wounded Oberscharführer with a shot to the back of the neck. The SS had gone as far as they could go. The next move was up to the Red Army.

The objective, the villa, changed hands four times.

A superb game and my thanks to Andy who made it such fun.

I would note that wargamers tend to like to cram the table with models but sometimes the best and most enjoyable games come from these tiny skirmish actions where you have to think through each move and countermove very carefully. With so few units (I had four including the officer), no one is expendable.

Hitler's last attack had failed. It never really stood a chance. The Soviets soon recaptured every metre and more. Hitler blamed his Black Guards and stripped them of their armbands.

Note: Andy is an accomplished professional painter who takes commissions. You can contact him via Facebook.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Warlord Battalia Starter Army - Review

I couldn't resist opening my Warlord English Civil War Battalia Starter Army, cost £70 with free postage.

What strikes one is that the box is stuffed with goodies.

First out of the box are the two flag cards, one Parliamentarian, one Cavalier. You get flags for ten regiments on each card. Every regiment has a pristine prebattle flag and a shot up flag so you take your pick.

You get 12 cavalry sprues, six for riders and six for horses, that make 24 horse in total. The sprues have a fair degree of options including standard bearer.

Each infantry sprue, again there are six includes five pikeman (at top) and eight musketeers in four poses. Again you get various options, mostly different headgear.

Two infantry command sprues allow you to make commanders, standard bearers and drummers: six models in total.

And finally there are ten little sprues of fusiliers with firelocks.

Well not quite finally because there are two sprues of these bases....

And two of these.

First thought: 24 28 ml horse and 90 foot for £70 including postage - WOW!

I am one happy wargamer but my wife took one look and went to the fridge for a glass of wine.

Oh well, one can't please everyone.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Summer Wargame Order Arrives.

 Mwah, ha, ha, ha!

My summer war painting order has arrived from those Jolly Good Chaps from Warlord Games. Some support to fill out my Franco-Belgian 1940 platoon, a BA6 Soviet armoured car that is a must for anyone interwar or 1941 gaming, some British reinforcements for colonial skirmish games, and a new venture: a War of the Three Kingdoms starter pack.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

IHMN: Battle Of Camberwick Green or They Don't Like It Up 'Em

Camberwick Green is a small 'village' in South London which was partly destroyed in the Martian Invasion. The Martians left three 'artifacts' in the fields just outside the High Street.

The Mad Mahdi of Omdurman had a vision that the Martians were really Islamic Jihadis and that the artifacts were messages from Jesus who now lived on Mars. Accordingly he depatched Osman Arzak on a Nile Dhow on a long cruise across the Mediterranean Sea, up the Atlantic and Channel and into the Medway. Their objective was to capture the three Camberwick artifacts

The voyage in the tiny sailing boat was ghastly, not least because Arzak insisted on bringing his favourite horse.

Arzak's force included Ansar armed with proper Islamic weapons, swords, spears, shields and a bad attitude, and some Jihadiyya riflemen.

The march of a Mahdist warband through Kent did not go entirely unremarked. The locals were used to Martians, vampires, assorted daemons and the odd Prussian but Mahdists were something else so a platoon from the Buffs under Captain Adrian Nash moved to intercept, hurrying along the Kent lanes in a Thornton steam waggon chased by several farm dogs and a small boy hurling conkers.

Arzak split his small army into four, separating his rifleman out to the wings and dividing his Ansar into two attack groups who raced down the lanes between the fields.

The British rifle fire proved singularly ill aimed and the whirling Dervish reached the 'infidel turks' (aka the Buffs) largely intact. Sudanese riflemen captured the right and left artefacts and Arzak jumped over the fence at a full gallop to capture the one in the centre.

All the Mahdists now had to do was retire with the captured Martian gizmos worth 120 victory points while the Dervish occupied the Buffs. An easy win even if all the Dervish in the rearguard died

That, of course is where it all went wrong.

Captain Nash was an Erudite Wit with a working knowledge of Arabic and he made an unfortunate remark involving Osman Arzak's mother and a diseased camel. Naturally, Arzak took no little exception to such jollities and, forgetting the point of his mission, ordered an immediate assault on the Infidel on his right. Only a single Jihadiyya riflemen remembered what he was about and sneaked off with the loot.

On the Mahdist left flank things proceeded as planned, a Jihadiyya riflemen picking up the artifact and legging it.

Captain Nash died bravely under a hail of spear points but in general the Buffs proved pretty good at bayonet work and the Dervish found they did not like it up 'em.

Even worse, a certain Private Means on the right flank proved to be a crack shot, knocking down each Jihadiyya riflemen in turn who picked up the left flank artifact. He even shot Osman Arzak out of the saddle as he galloped off the field.

When Adrian and I totted up the points we found we had exactly 49 victory points each: a most satisfying end to a great game.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Warzone Squad

Came across these fellows at the bottom of a box.

Another eBay lot, methinks.

Deff Squadron

I am having a clear out and so I am selling some of my models. This lot has just gone on eBay.

Monday, 14 July 2014

IHMN: The Mad Mahdi's Navy

Fifteen Beja on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of holy water that the Mahdi washed in...

Upon hearing that the 'Turks' had a new steamboat the Mad Mahdi commissioned his own naval force by 'acquiring' a trading dhow from the river Arabs.

The model is scratchbuilt in plasticard from a plan off the Major General Tremorden archived colonial warfare site.

It will carry about twenty Dervishes at a pinch provided they don't whirl too much.

The Mahdist flag.