EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Friday, July 9, 2010

First Outing


Lessons learned so far:

a). 34 degrees is too hot for a game, even in the shade. TG for evening breezes
b). naps are good
c). sure is easy to forget stuff when doing a 1st draft, some unstated assumptions, some typos and a couple of "oops didn't think of that" 's.
d). its hard to tell at first blush if a new rule is a problem or if it was just the bad tactics. More on this later.

General Spinner gives a skeptical look at the forces defending the village vs the attacking force and decides to do a Kutusov, (zzz) leaving me for all practical purposes in command of both sides.

This evening I decided to give my 1/72nd Russian Civil War forces their 1st outing. They weren't quite ready as far as bases etc went but that made it feel all the more authentic!  The snow covered bases looked slightly out of place and my hopes that they would make me feel cooler were dashed. The scenario was a very simple one that I had decided on last fall when I began to collect a few RCW troops. A village defended by some Red infantry is attacked by an all arms White force and has to hold out until Red cavalry and horse artillery can come to the rescue.

The attacking force was composed of:
Force HQ
Infantry regiment with HQ, 6 infantry, 2 MG, 1 mortar
Artillery battery with 2 guns and FAO
Elite Cossack Cavalry regiment with HQ, 5 cavalry and an armoured car.

The defenders were composed of a conscript infantry regiment composed as above. They had 2 trenches as well as the village. All units were concealed at the start of the game.
Off table were a Regiment of elite Red cavalry accompanied by 1 gun. These would arrive if the score on 1 die was equal to or less than the turn number.  

Since no enemy were spotted, I did my best to ignore their actual location when making the plan which was to set up the artillery in the middle to bombard the town while the infantry attacked the woods on their right and then closed in on the town. The cavalry were to sweep around the village and attack it from the rear. The defenders put the MG's in the trenches to sweep the ground in front, occupied the 2 houses of the village with a few stands in reserve and 1 stand detached as a forlorn hope to hold the woods as long as possible.

Since no reds were spotted there was no arty fire on the 1st turn so everyone but the guns slogged forward. I'll blame the heat but the idea of having the cavalry go wide, staying outside MG range of the village or maybe sending in a scout, didn't occur to me. On the Red turn, the MG's opened up and started slaughtering infantry and cavalry caught in the open. The mortar pinned the armoured car and the whole started to look like a fiasco.

On the next turn the White artillery opened up, the A/C rallied and opened fire and the cavalry swept around the flank into dead ground of all but a pinned infantry unit in the house. On the other flank the infantry pushed forward again. An MG pushed forward by the guns and set up only to be cut down by the reds before they could fire. The red infantry  in the woods opened fire and pinned 1 enemy but the MG on that flank was having trouble finding the range. (1 gun was rolling mostly 4,5,6's the other 1,2,3's).
The fight in the woods
On the 3rd turn, one white unit failed to rally, supporting fire pinned but didn't destroy the woods defenders so a stand went in with the bayonet only to whiff and be pinned. The artillery finally managed to take out the sharpshooter MG and the cavalry swept around the rear, trading fire ineffectively with the village.  On the red turn, the infantry in the wood failed to rally and so did the mg which had been pinned by mortar and MG fire.

The 4th turn saw another botched assault on the woods with some units stalling and failing to rally or taking 2 tries. The cavalry started clearing away mortars and infantry but the red cavalry and artillery showed up.
Climax, the red cavalry arrives just as the Whites flank the village

On the 5th turn the White artillery started  slaughtering Red cavalry but another assault on the woods failed. The cavalry over ran the Red battalion commander and started massing to face the Red cavalry. The game looked like a White win. On their turn though, the red gun unlimbered and started blowing away White infantry while the red cavalry closed with their counterparts with effect.

 The 6th turn saw the Red infantry still holding out while the White artillery fired wildly and the few remaining cavalry had trouble. On their turn the remaining Red infantry hung in while the artillery continued to fire with effect and the Red cavalry went through the remaining whites like a hot knife. By the end of the turn over 1/2 the White force had been destroyed while the Reds still held the village and woods despite heavy losses.

 General Badenov, Red Cavalry commander, saves the day 
So how did the rules hold up? Over all they worked ok, and I was well pleased at borrowing some ideas from BKC like fixed scores to hit but varying numbers of dice by firer. (Of course, I could have just used BKC but some how that felt too much like work)  I had forgotten to specify many minor
things like did it cost to change facing (nothing if moving) and could unlimbered arty do it (yes). I hit an unexpected snag where, as a written, a FAO was supposed to occupy a hex and couldn't see past infantry. I decided to let them share a hex for now. I also forgot that I had been pondering giving artillery a choice between concentrated fir (as normal) or allowing them to spread their fire over the target hex and all adjacent hexes but only 1 die into each.

The main things were:

  • losses were very heavy but then it was mostly infantry and cavalry caught in the open by MG's and artillery so not that odd. It would not have been as bad if I had remembered that elites ignore the 1st hit. Generally I'm not keen on rules that I don't remember but I'll excuse myself this time.
  • I need a rule about not moving past an adjacent enemy without assaulting and also need to decide how I want to handle assaults where 1 attacker is adjacent to 2 defenders. Should the attacker have to attack both, perhaps 1 after the other? can he still advance and occupy the hex if he wins?
  • The rally rule worked well with Conscripts having trouble but still being a problem to get rid of if in cover
  • The entrenchments also worked well and the armoured car was interesting, almost invulnerable (at least to infantry) but not terribly dangerous and liable to get stuck (ie pinned)..
All in all an interesting experience. I'm not interested in hexing my 6 x 8 table but then I'm probably not going to fill it with RCW troops either but the game did entertaining me in an easy fashion.

4 comments:

  1. An utterly splendid looking set up- thanks for sharing it with us.
    best wishes
    Alan

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  2. Ross,

    34 C is much too hot to do most anything (that's 93.2 F for those not using Celsius).

    Also, point "b" is worth remembering . . . "b). naps are good".


    -- Jeff

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  3. Ross Mac,

    Its good to see that you were well enough to fight a wargame in that heat (I would not wish to, and I have not just been ill!).

    The setup looks great, and it was nice to see that you have used the rules based on Morschauser's ones ... and that they basically work.

    I look forward to seeing more of these RCW battles (and others) as you get better.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. Thanks all. Don't worry, I waited until evening so that the worst of the heat had abated. Rain is forecast for much of the next week so it was a case of seize the moment. Kept forgetting to sit down and take my time but luckily it was a very short game.

    With a bare felt cloth, some hastily painted bits of troops and terrain more or less right out of the box, this has to be one of the "least time and effort" games I've ever staged. Not sure it really deserves splendid but it was it was very pleasing in its simplicity so thank you for the compliment.

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