Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Battle Report - 3 July 2017 - IABSM Lite "Les Feuilles Vertes"

Had a request at the club for an IABSM practice/teaching game. From experience, while the first couple of scenarios in the book are good for this,
  1. they don't include everything straight off - I know this is deliberate, but sometimes you also want to teach why combined arms works.
  2. they can take a long time with inexperienced players
I think I'm now a grizzled enough veteran of the game that I can deal with this, so... Time for something a little different: IABSM Lite. 

No rule changes, but the scenario was designed to fit on a 4'x4' with sub-company strength forces and a more tactical approach. 

The British had two platoons, three big men including the company CO and three Sherman V's with a big man, as well as a FOO with two fire missions from a rather busy 25pdr battery (reflected by being 1 pip harder to contact). The Germans, holding the farm, had 1 infantry Zug with 2 big men, an MG42 with another big man, a FOO with a couple of 80mms, and a StuG III. Extra cards were Allied Rally, Allied Heroic Leader, Axis MG Bonus and Axis Dynamic Commander.

Simple mission - take/hold the farm.

Colin (running the Brits with advice from me) rapidly twigged that there was no cover to be had approaching the farm, so sent a couple of blinds by circuitous routes to see what he could spoke while radioing for a nice big smoke barrage to advance behind.

There was quite a bit of 'no, I won't bring any more blinds on yet' going on, which was slightly more cat-and-mouse than some IABSM games I've seen. In the end, he brought two infantry platoons on behind the smoke, and managed to get a good way up the road and across the fields before a flurry of Tea Break cards blew the smoke away.  At which point (having been pre-briefed by both Carl (watching while playing something else) and I, he brought the 2" mortars into play - the German section in the red-roofed farmhouse took a fair bit of tap, but things never quite panned out to get them pinned preparatory to a close assault.

With hindsight, I should have reminded him a bit more than I did that HE pins, and he should probably have brought the Shermans on before the second platoon, to plaster the farmhouse and guarantee some pins behind which to close assault. As it was, when they came on, the StuG (up on the road across the back of the table) picked off first one, then another, in consecutive activations.

The Brits also lost a couple of sections to enfilade fire from the farmhouse, which I think wouldn't have happened had the Shermans been around to do their job. In the end, the infantry in the farmhouse were down to 5 figures and 4 shock, and two platoons went in and basically forced them out in a tied close assault due to excess shock.

We pretty much left it there, not least so we could talk about it: essentially taking the farmhouse had cost the British two Shermans and half their force, but the Germans were down to one section, an MG and a StuGIII which had a pretty commanding view of the battlefield. It would have been interesting.

Thoughts on "IABSM Lite"?

I think it works: the tricks are:
  • Scenario design
    • have a clear tactical objective, and set it around the middle of the table.
    • make it a bit 'narrative' in nature so the players don't forget what it is
  • rationalise some smaller forces - 2/3 company or so.
  • make sure there's a bit of cover around deployment areas :D
  • more big men 
I think this last is pretty key - to keep things moving and make them interesting (and also to show off the 'magic' of the big man concept), you need to have slightly more big men than the normal org chart suggests - I'd even go as far as to suggest that some platoons should have their 2inC on table as a big man as well as the Lt.. Colin was, I think, pretty impressed with the flow of the game, and the way the big men worked - there was a moment were he had a big man hare back down the road to activate the 2" mortar which just felt right.

You might possibly consider, if you go with platoon 2inCs as big men, leaving the actual platoon cards out - I dunno? Thoughts?

I'm toying with a few more smaller tactical teasers like this - I think it could be fun and it can finish in a club night.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Posh Lard 2017

As promised at OML5...

Sunday July 23rd - a day of Lard in the middle of Peterborough, within walking distance of the train and bus stations, onsite parking.

The club will be putting on a BIG (battalion scale) WW2 IABSM game with space for 5 or so a side: if anyone is interested in bringing anything else to demo, please drop us a note (address on the link). Admission is a fiver to cover hall costs, and can be done via Paypal at the link below.

It's very likely we'll decamp to the local Thai restaurant/real ale pub afterwards - I'll try and ensure they have some cooking lager for Rich :D

http://www.peterborough-wargames-club.org.uk/tc-events/posh-lard-2017/

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Published again!

For those who hadn't noticed, permission to blow my own trumpet a little and note that the Irregular column in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy issue 90 (available online or from any reputable magazine supplier) is by your humble servant. (On the subject of wargames clubs and herding cats - with a tip of the hat to James Morris for turning up with questions at just the right time to be sent a draft for comment!)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Battle Report - 6 March 2017 - IABSM "Valle delle Marie"

The first game of the club's IABSM campaign, which has migrated from being "Blenneville or Bust" to being "29: Let's Go Large" to "oh, sod it, let's make something up based in Italy because Italy is a) fun and b) not Normandy"! So much fun, in fact, that I only took one photo!

So, check out the table to your right. North to the top, the village of Santa Magdalena nestling under the church, and the remains of the village of Santa Maria to the southeast, having undergone a pretty heavy bombardment from the Allies in an abortive attempt to take it the day before.

It's 26th August 1944, and A Company, the Hereward Fusileers (commanded by Carl, aided by Pippa, Ash and AndyB), have been tasked with taking both villages from the Germans (Gary, with help from AndyM and Tom) before nightfall. The latter had the classic slightly understrength company (which is a roundabout way of saying "I must paint those last two German sections!").

Both sides got support lists to choose from, rather √† la Chain of Command. The British chose a Firefly, two Sherman IIIs, two pre-game stonks, a FOO and battery of 25pdrs, a sniper and a Kittyhawk off the 'cab rank': I suspect rather too much of this might have been in the spirit of 'oo, wonder what this does' (still surprised they declined the Churchill MkV CS - 95mm howitzer on tracks!), and I'm sure I overpointed the P40, as only activating on a 6 when its card comes up makes it markedly less useful, and possibly the stonk. The Germans went for the coldly practical: 4 off-table 80mm mortars, a Tiger, two StuG IIIG's and a sniper.

As umpire and campaign adviser, I stood back once I'd devised the scenario, and before listening to the players' plans, and asked myself what I'd do with both forces: the Germans pretty much agreed with me, placing a Zug in Santa Maria, one in Santa Magdalena, the third in the olive grove/vineyard area. They plonked the Tiger in the ruins of the churchyard, with a nice view of the battlefield, and hid the StuGs.

Were I the British, I'd have bypassed Santa Maria entirely barring a small force to keep the Germans interested (a blind and a platoon, perhaps), laid smoke west of the road into Santa Magdalena and gone for it, foot on the floorboards, on the theory that if I can take Santa Magdalena I can mop up at my leisure.

The British had a degree of internal debate before deciding to go the roundabout route, essentially doing the exact reverse: strike at Santa Maria, push round on the eastern road. To be fair, the initial strike was pretty classically beautiful: AndyB's platoon were briefly pinned by mortar fire in the woods before the platoon's 2" coughed up a wall of smoke across the front of the buildings and all three sections came in from the south side. There then followed a textbook house clearance - Nos. 1 and 2 sections fired on the first building containing a German section, did it a couple of shock, a couple of kills and more importantly a pin, and in went No. 3 section to close assault, winning by one kill and driving them out.

By this time the Shermans had turned up, and one tossed a couple of HE rounds in the other building containing a German MG42, set it on fire, drove them out and pretty much wiped them out. That was the cue for the other German section to bail out of the village towards the vineyard, and it got caught in the open on the way out.

Meanwhile, a dummy blind headed along the wheat field to the west towards Santa Magdalena, and proceeded to make a pain of itself by simply failing to be spotted while not spotting anything either - it did keep the Germans in the village interested though!

7 Platoon deployed on the edge of the woods, in support of the tanks, preparatory to advancing on the olive grove under a 25pdr barrage...

At which point... the Tiger (in the church, with a glorious field of fire) and the StuG in the vineyard deployed off blinds, and it all went horribly wrong for the British. Within about four actions from the two tanks the Firefly's gun was out, one Sherman was disabled, with its crew bailing for cover, and the other went up with a bang. Unteroffizer Honisch in the Tiger is well on his way to Junior Ace.

The British are, understandably, hollering for any kind of support that will turn up: first up a fire mission from the 25 pounders that fails to do more than scratch the paint. It's followed by a P40 peeling off the cab rank, dropping a bomb on the Tiger, just missing and doing some damage to the church that they're going to have to explain to High Command.

The British push 7 Platoon into the olive grove, but it's clear they are now in a position where they're not going to manage to take Santa Magdalena, not with a Tiger on the loose. To quote the post-session summary for the players:
It's a 'winning draw' for the Germans, in campaign terms. The British have a reasonable hold on Santa Maria, though a strong German counter-attack could dislodge them, but they made no appreciable dent (other than a couple of architectural ones) in Santa Magdalena. The German battalion 80mm mortars will be called onto another target, as will the British 25pdr battery, allowing both sides to consolidate as dusk falls where they are, with the British A Company holding Santa Maria and  the southern woods, and the Germans Santa Magdalena and the heights above it. The olive grove, the vineyard and the wheat field on the east of the road are contested no-mans land, as I don't think either side has done enough to claim to actually hold them yet (yes, the British had men in both, but hadn't demonstrated that they could stay there). 
So, gentle reader: how would you have done it? 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Lancaster: Reunion of Giants

Heads up to anyone in the UK with Sky who is fond of the sound of MANY Merlin engines:  this documentary is showing on PBS America (channel 534) on Monday evening!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Operation Get S(tuff) Done progress....

Just so no-one thinks I've been slacking since the last update, you understand:

  • Realm of Battle boards finished, Purity Seal'ed.
  • Total Battle miniatures narrow latex roads painted and flocked to match the RoB boards. Wide ones still to do.
  • Fair bit of 3D design work done working out the kinks in my process for doing buildings. Waiting on the print head coming back from the CEL Robox folks for a minor warranty fix, then I actually have FOUR commissioned jobs to do. 
  • Made some initial steps on Sekret Project HQ. Not mine to tell.
  • Sorted out the 15mm WW2 stuff after too many IABSM games with hurried cleanup left thing in wrong boxes! All infantry bases now labelled on the back edge with printed details of nationality/company/platoon/section. (And if you think nationality isn't necessary, I found two American sections in the German support tray last time!). Still debating what to do with Big Men given variable Level/number in scenarios.
  • Got re-elected Chairman of Peterborough Wargames Club. (Still no-one else mug enough to take over :D)
  • Found a graphic designer (right under my nose) for Sekret Projekt C.
If anyone wants the force labels as a big Excel spreadsheet, let me know and I'll clean it up for consumption by people who aren't me :D

Basically, each sheet has enough print, cutout and glue labels for all the infantry bases (but not Big Men) for a battalion (with intrinsic supports) for US, GB or German as per TFL's "Battle For Liberation" with (at least in theory) correct company/platoon numbering. The latter was a headache: as I understand it:

  • US: Companies lettered across a regiment, so A-C company, then D is support company, then E-G + H, etc: platoons numbered 1-3 within each company, sections 1-3 within platoons.
  • GB: A-C company, platoons 1-6 are various battalion supports, then A company has platoons 7-9. B has 10-12 etc: sections 1-3 within platoons
  • German: As far as I can tell, companies are numbered across a regiment, so a battalion may have 1-3 or 4-6. Zug 1-3 within company, Gruppe 1-3 within Zug.  Anyone with better info, help!
Anyone who knows better, I welcome corrections. Just hoping not to need to relabel TOO much! I'll provide the ability to pick which set of battalion companies you want the battalion to start at for German and US.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Meeples and Miniatures Patreon

Allow me to quote Mr. Shuck:
After a year or so of procrastination, we have finally launched a Patreon campaign for the Meeples & Miniatures Podcast.
Patreon is a crowdfunding website for people who create –  be that podcasts, videos, music…all sorts of stuff. In short, it’s another – perhaps easier – way of supporting the show, should you so wish. There are a number of support levels available – hopefully they are all self explanatory, but if not, feel free to ask us any questions.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us in our first 10 years of podcasting. We will continue to try and make the best show we possibly can.
What he said. No obligation to support us, it isn't going to stop us podcasting if you don't. It just will allow us to do better podcasts, maybe video, replace ageing hardware, etc etc....

The Patreon link is here.
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