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

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Odds Were Against Us

Some times the dice just seem to pick favourites.

But then sometimes a wargame General just seems to invite the Dice Gods to punish a poor plan.

Trying to storm a town by rushing over a bridge was always going to be a risky undertaking but Red's rolling four 5's and 6's on 6 shooting dice against Blue's first attack, followed by 4 more on 4 melee dice on the next turn against the next unit was a hard start for poor Blue! 
This game was the Double Holding Action Scenario from Thomas's One Hour Wargame. It is  (I think) the first time I have played this scenario. 

Red (the Royal Faraway Army), was tasked with holding the town and sending 1/2 of his force off table by road between turns 4 and 12. Blue ( the Army of the Republic of Oberhilse), had to either take the town or get 1/3 of his force off the same road exit by turn 15. Unbeknownst to Red, Blue's forces have found a ford. 

Red fielded 2 cavalry, 2 light infantry, 5 infantry, 1 mg and 1 artillery (counts double for reinforcement points). Oddly enough, Blue fielded exactly the same units since that was what was painted and based, the actual Blue rather than Drab units being in the midst of a reorganization.  I fielded 2 infantry or cavalry units or one gun for each OHW unit thus maintaining  the proportional frontages relative to the size of the table, essentially 2x4" grid squares scaling to 6" on a OHW table. (There was some extraneous manoeuvre room beyond the flanks. )
Turn 3 and Red has already starting moving units off table to reinforce the main army.
Blue's attempt to storm the town right away was probably a bad idea and depended for success on some combination of getting a flip in the initiative at just the right moment  and having Red rolling no more than average while Blue rolled better. Not a great plan upon reflection and in fact the flip went in Red's favour, their dice were HOT and Blue's dice ICY cold. By the end of turn 3 Red had suffered 1 hit and Blue had effectively lost 3 out of his 5 infantry units. (The two that didn't rout  spent 12 turns rallying without ever being ready to renew the attack!)

The game plan shifted to the alternate plan, block the road and/or sneak guys off, flank attack over the ford. By the time the force was across and in position to attack it was turn 12 and Red had already moved his units off table but not before Red's artillery routed a unit of Blue's Uhlans . A gallant charge by Blue's Hussars wiped out two rifle units before proceeding off table towards the main army but that was it.  With the best will in the world there were not enough units in position to exit. A pincer attack on the town was the last hope. A hope quickly withered by rifle fire with each pincer losing a unit for no gain.

It was over. A clear Red victory after a bloody hour for Blue.

Turn 14 of 15 and its over. Red has sent the requisite reinforcements off on schedule and still holds the town while only losing 2 out of 11 companies while Blue has only managed 1/4 of his requested reinforcements and no longer has time to fulfill either victory condition even Red wasn't there.  
There wasn't quite enough game to hang a good story on it but it was a fun hour none the less and I may well have another go in a few days whether with same or different forces or even a different period.

It felt good to be back on the 4" grid with room to maneuver.

The rules were a slightly updated version of my 2015, early 20thC, version of the Square Brigadier called  The Tin Army.

16 comments:

  1. very nice. I think the gamers coming to the new Rommel game system (which uses a square grid) and using grids for the first time, could learn a lot from looking at your boards as to how to put a nice table together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Norm. Its an ongoing learning experience.

      Delete
  2. I agree that the way you've marked your terrain board is very clever as at first glance it doesn't look like a grid at all. Really like the staff car too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, still a work in progress but that was the intent. That staff car was a dubious flea market purchase a few years ago and I still kick myself for not buying the other one there, way cheaper than eBay!

      Delete
  3. Great looking table Ross, it really works well. I'm a recent fan of the OHW book, at first glance a modest little title but it certainly packs some interesting scenarios in there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its often a little to hard to relate the scenarios to the one he has boiled down or the battle that inspired them, but they do seem to work so full marks to Mr T.

      Delete
  4. I thoroughly endorse the earlier comments. There is something 'wish I was there' about your war games...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm told that its a very long flight but you'd be welcome.

      Delete
  5. Enjoyed the account very much, and the battle looks really good. All the upsides of a solo game!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes leisurely pace, very few arguments, and usually a win regardless of how the dice roll

      Delete
  6. Ross Mac,

    What a splendid battle report ... and I think that your latest terrain cloth is the best you have created to date. The grid is there ... but doesn't dominate the tabletop as can so often happen.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bob, no cloth involved but each coat of paint does seem to end up looking a little bit more like the image in my head.

      Delete
  7. I can't think of much to add. Your setup looks very appealing to me. I agree with the others about your gridded playing field. It also sounds like it was a fun and quick game. I have the OHW book, but haven't done anything with it yet. Good to know it can be a useful source for scenarios.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reading it almost always rubs me the wrong way but he has done a good job of simplifying various scenarios down into quick but challenging games and I have come use it quite often.

      Delete
  8. Ross,
    Looked like a terrific little game with both sides having some difficult decisions to make. In retrospect would it have been better for the attacking forces to totally eschew one of the two objectives. If Blue had simply masked the town with a few units instead of assaulting, then the rest of the force could have been sent willy nilly towards the road exit with a guaranteed numeric advantage. You could have guaranteed an early draw and then might still have an opportunity to assault the town in the game's waning moments. But it does look like you had agreat time.
    Jerry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was the basic plan but there were two wrinkles.

      The main problem was that the ford was a bottleneck so that troops could only trickle across, slower than I had anticipated. The plan had been to "amuse the garrison of the town by threatening it while slipping the advance guard of Jaegers and cavalry across to cut the enemy's escape and then move off or attack the town from the rear. The main infantry force could then feed reinforcements over the ford or assault the town.

      The devastating accuracy of fire (abnormally high die rolls) from the town and supporting units which quickly rendered over 1/2 the infantry combat ineffective for the rest of the game, coupled with the corresponding ineffectiveness of the fire support forced a new desperate plan which tripped over the sane dice phenomena! The Blue forces caused more damage with a single charge of a lone squadron of lancers (for once the defenders fired wildly) than the rest of the force by sustained rifle, mg and artillery fire!



      Delete