Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Chain of Command - Last day in Maltot (2)

Deployment followed what was now fairly predictable lines, with the British massing most of their manpower on their right, with one squad on the left to provide fire support. 

The Germans were so thin on the ground they had few options, one depleted squad held the rear of the woods in the hope of preventing a flanking move, while the remaining two squads – in reality just teams, occupied the Church itself and dug in behind the stone wall of the yard.

The British started as they meant to go on, laying down a withering hail of Bren fire on the church tower, rapidly causing the occupiers to start collecting shock, while the first section began to work forward on the right through the ruins. Meanwhile, the Battalion Forward Observation Officer started to range his mortars on the church.

German return fire was sporadic, then a burst of MG42 fire smashed into the crowded building where the British were preparing to advance. There was laughter from the infantry on the ground floor as “Chalky” White showed the rest of the squad the graze in his helmet where the bullet had deflected. Upstairs however there was silence, broken only by a voice calling over the radio for fire control instructions that would go unanswered, as the unlucky FOO was lying dead in his OP, the victim of Chalky’s  “lucky” ricochet.

Pringle was a little shaken. He had clearly hoped he could use the 3” mortars to blast the Krauts out of the church, or to kingdom come. Instead he would have to do this the hard way. He ordered all three of his Brens to hammer the MG42 firing from the church tower, but no matter how often he seemed to see hits, the damned gun kept firing!

In the tower it was like a charnel house as bodies piled up around the gun. As each man fell another bravely stepped up to keep the weapon firing – everyone knew the MG42 was their only hope. A cry from the tower told Platzer his Sergeant was injured, so he ran up the stairs and grabbed the gun himself, having to step over several bodies to get to it. 

Meanwhile in the churchyard, the remaining MG team were fighting a losing battle, as casualties continued to build up. Desperately the remaining members of the team tried to withdraw to the church itself, but were caught in a hail of Bren fire. The last man staggered against the wall, pinned down and bleeding from his wounds but still clutching the precious MG42. He had no chance. 


Platzer played his Chain of Command dice to interrupt the British fusillade. He sprinted from the door and grabbed the wounded man, then oblivious to the danger dragged him into the church for safety. At that point his men would have followed him into the gates of Hell itself.

It was a momentary reprieve. Pringle pushed his assault force forward in the lull caused by Platzer’s heroic rescue. However the Germans were far from finished, and as his lead section advanced cautiously along the edge of the orchard, a vicious burst of MG42 fire from the church ripped through them. Three fell dead, and the remainder became pinned. 

Possibly encouraged by his opposite numbers brave example, Pringle ran forward to rally the men and pulled them back into cover, being lightly wounded in the process. 

He also ordered his last assault squad through the woods to flank the church.

This was the moment the German squad had been waiting for, and they leapt up, intending to catch the British as they advanced. For once however their firing let them down, and the British assaulted forward covered by a burst of Bren fire, killing or overrunning all the Germans holding the flank.

From that point it was clear to Platzer his position was untenable. He could see Tommies moving through the woods towards his rear, and also approaching the front of the church. He had very few men left, mostly wounded. He decided the only option was to abandon the position and withdraw. As he lowered himself out of the rear of the blasted ruin of the church where many of his men gave their lives, he heard the sounds of grenades exploding at the door as the Tommies assaulted.

So the campaign ended with an expensive British victory. It had been a close run thing.

As the smoke clears ................
As a result of his bravery and dash in leading his Platoon in a difficult and dangerous assault on an enemy strongpoint Lt Pringle was recommended for Mention in Despatches (rolled a 5), however on review the CO decided an MM may be a good idea as it would help cheer the lads up (reroll was a 6). Sadly the paper-pushers at Whitehall didn’t agree, so Pringle was Mentioned in Dispatches (award roll was a three). On the plus side he now is sporting a rather dashing moustache and has decided to move into the snack food industry when the war ends. He spent quite a lot of time staring at an empty cardboard tube used to carry 2” mortar ammo, and he thinks he has an idea!

Platzer's outstanding bravery in holding his position against overwhelming odds, and his rescue of his wounded NCO were also noticed. He was recommended for an Iron Cross (2nd Class - both rolls were a 3) but his CO thought 1st Class would better reflect on the unit (rolled a 6). OKW were in need of heroes so decided to make an example, so he was finally awarded a German Cross (rolled a 6 followed by a 5) and had an interview with Signal. Maybe we will see him again in the next campaign?

Thanks to both players for taking part, and for the readers patience. Great fun seems to have been  had, and the appetite for more Chain of Command is clearly there, so more CoC will follow in due course.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Gruntz - a distraction, but welcome

I'm enjoying my regular Dropzone Commander fix, but it was suggested we give Gruntz 15mm Sci Fi a try. Gruntz is a generic set of fairly "hard" sci fi rules written with 15mm figures in mind. There are no "official" figures, you just use what you want, and you build your units based on any background you fancy, paying points for each trait or factor.  I say they are "hard" sci fi because they are more grounded in "realistic" combat with ranged weapons than hitting each other with chainswords and the like (like DZC). That having been said, if you want to do that they will allow you to - though you may need some method of crossing the fire soaked intervening ground between you and your target.

Grunts are aimed at a tactical level down from DZC, so each figure represents a single soldier , who operates as part of a squad. They're based individually, but some specialists and support weapons are based in pairs or teams.

I've had a copy for a year or so but never got to play properly - partly because after DZC arrived it eat up my sci fi gaming time allowance, but I did manage to paint up a nice little platoon sized unit of about 30 figures. And therein lies the first plus point of Gruntz. You can play with a platoon of 30 15mm figures. Total cost of a reinforced infantry platoon is less than £20, and the figures paint up quickly and easily. I have a platoon of 15mm "Crusties" from Ground Zero Games, who bear a passing resemblance to the aliens from the film District 9, so I pointed them up and headed for the club, where Paul, my opponent for the night, had agreed to bring some opposition. There was another first tonight - we both had the rules on our tablets, which was a new step for us old fashioned folks, but seemed to work. I used the tablet to take the accompanying pics, which goes to prove it doesnt matter how good the technology is if the operator is a idiot!

So without further ado "Meet the Crusties!"

I went for 3 squads of six laser rifle armed Crusties, with each squad having two plasma gunners attached, plus a Medium Laser, a Commander, and finally a pack of Prawns (just out of shot) - vicious if stupid close combat creatures. The Prawns usually come with a herder, but I couldn't afford the extra points needed for him :-(, I also had a tripod mounted medium laser to give me some heavy weapon fire.

Paul had chosen a similar platoon organisation, however in addition to his three rifle squads and Commander, he had a medic, and what I'm sure my Commander would call, a "Fooking Tank". Each of his rifle squads had an anti tank launcher and a squad automatic weapon in support, all conventional projectile weapons, but his tank had a rather big laser.

The table was set out and we got started

The game played fast and was fun. Paul made the mistake of pushing his tank forward ahead of his infantry support, which resulted in it being deluged by plasma gun fire from the three Crustie squads plus the rather more dangerous support laser. The tank took repeated hits from plasma weapons, and although none of them were serious or caused a lot of damage the tank was being gradually shot to bits. This was made clear when a lucky laser hit caused a critical hit on the tanks targeting systems, making hitting anything at other than point blank range difficult. Paul tried to pull the tank back but a sequence of rather lucky plasma hits immobilised it and then the laser got in a killing shot - first blood to the Crusties. Also centre in the pic is the Prawn Pack heading enthusiastically for the ramp leading to the landing pad and what they thought would be a tasty snack of Humans!

The Prawns charged forward, straight into a withering burst of automatic weapons fire which decimated them and sent the sole survivor scuttling for cover. This was all part of the Crustie Commander's "Cunning Plan" in that it allowed a Crusty infantry squad to climb up a steep slope to try and attack a human squad. The humans were waiting however and opened fire as the Crusties cleared the top, causing 3 casualties, but the Crusties passed a rather difficult morale test and won the initiative to put down a withering hail of laser and plasma fire on the humans.

At about the same time on the other flank a human flanking move came up short when the squad took some heavy casualties and fell back to cover.

In the centre the last remaining human squad took a "lucky" hit from the Crusty support laser, but the casualty was saved by the quick intervention of the Medic team. It was clear however that he Crusties were going to win, so Paul called his men back and left the Crusties in control.

It was a really fun and quick game, and we both enjoyed it. I think we learned different lessons - certainly pushing the tank up unsupported was a mistake, and Paul was impressed by the Crustie Plasma Guns, whereas I have developed a healthy respect for his squad assault weapons, which were rather nasty. There is going to be some furious painting and reviewing of stats too - the Crusties are going to get a drop in morale value in an effort to make them cheaper as at 29 points a squad compared to the Humans at 21 points they're way too expensive.

Judging from this game, I suspect we will be seeing some more Gruntz on table.

If you are interested the rules are available as a download from Wargames Vault for under $10, great value, as is the squad builder which makes building your squads much easier. There is also the authors dedicated blog here Gruntz which has loads of useful stuff.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

London Transport Bright Red Painted 97 Horsepower Personnel Carrier

When Hawk showed their Battlebus set for the Resistance Faction I was a little bit disappointed because it was a bit too, well American. True the School Bus and Greyhound look great, but I wanted something a bit more at home

I came across an N Scale British Red Double Decker on ebay. After a bit of work and some bits from the spares box - a gattling gun from a spare Wolverine fitted to the gunshield from a 15mm Sdkfz 251, plus a couple of .50cal gunners from Pendrakens new 10 mm Falklands War range, and heres the final result

They're supposed to come in pairs , so I bought this to be the second half, but with hindsight I suspect it may be too small to carry 20 armed men :-)

Friday, 19 September 2014

More Buildings for your Apocalypse - Outland Models

As you probably know, Blotz is currently shading my favourite N scale \ 1 1:44 \ 10mm building supplier. Their buildings are reasonably priced and detailed and their range is expanding rapidly. However they may have a contender from an unexpected source.

I was browsing ebay in a spare moment when I spotted some N scale building kits being sold Outland Models. Out of interest I picked one up. It arrived this morning and I was mightily impressed.

Basically this is an ABS plastic kit that arrives flat packed

Assembly was very quick and easy - there was 1 minor glitch with a tab which tbh I'm not even sure was a glitch and may just be my hamfists. The model clicked together with no trimming or sanding or even glue in about 5 minutes - and it is solid, stable, and light, although I will go back and glue it together later. It is also pre coloured and unlike the S4 "prepainted" buildings needs no further work.

Pretty damned impressive - particularly for £9.99 including P&P!! The range is not too bad either  big thumbs up to Outland Models!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Chain of Command - Last Day in Maltot (1)

Once more?
Pringle was stunned. His platoon was in no state to continue, but the CO demanded he try and take the Church at Maltot again. This time at least he would have some supporting fire from the Battalion 3” mortars.

Nothing for it he thought, just have to get it done. He decided to use the “book”, establish a base of fire to pin the enemy, then a flank assault – after all, it had worked before...........

Force Strength & Support
Both players were noticing losses. Mark was concerned with his casualties, but at least he had 5 support points – enough for a Churchill! On reflection this seemed too obvious and so he chose a 3” mortar battery off table with an adjutant to help him deploy.

Platzer and his understrength "Platoon"
On the German side Paul was scraping through the bottom of the barrel, he had only 14 men available. Given the low strength he went for a simple squad organisation with three understrength squads each having an MG42.His support choice was a Panzershrek team – just in case the Brits brought a tank. 

The Patrol Phase went quickly - Mark decided to try to speed up his advance  by only using 3 Patrol Markers, however Paul managed to deny him direct access to the closer houses.
End of the Patrol Phase from the British POV

Mark using the "magic sticks" to decide on where his Jump Off points should go
German view of the Patrol Phase
So everything is set for the start of the attack.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Chain of Command Campaign - Maltot Church, the Crucible of Fire (1)

Due to my camera failing I didn't get many pics of the first assault on Maltot Church, so it is perhaps best to rely on that stalwart "Geordie" and his blog to tell the story from his perspective. Read his well penned version of events here...

Geordie's Big Battles