Last Sunday Rob kindly invited me to join him and Phil at Scarab Towers for a game of Great War. Not knowing exactly what we'd be playing I simply packed most of my terrain and all my Western Front British and set forth.
When I arrived I was delighted to find that Rob and Phil had set up a splendid looking table and two armies were deployed ready to begin. It didn't take me long to realise that this was no conventional Western Front battle... Instead, we were fighting along the banks of the Piave as the plucky Italians (with the last moment addition of a few Brits) had a crack at the Austro-Hungarian (A/H) trenches.
Here are the A/H Trenches packed with troops. Gulp! If you're wondering why they bear more than a passing resemblance to Germans troops then that's because Germany supplied much of the materiel for the A/H army.
EDIT: Rob @ Scarab has some super photos HERE. Should have linked them first time around!?
The Italian/British left flank. Mainly Italian regulars with some British. The other flank (to the left in the pic) was a battalion of Italian 'Arditi' - the rather better 'shock' troops.
As the for the rules, well here was another pleasant surprise. We were to try out some very early ideas for Scarab's own set of Great War rules! I can't really say any more than they have a definite War & Conquest 'feel' and that they are a very promising start.
The early part of the battle went in favour of the A/H's, particularly when it came to their HMGs and Artillery support - but then we were attacking well prepared positions.
Phil's Arditi close in on the A/H flanking HMG. It was a desperate attack - with predictable results! (Sorry about some of the pics being a too bright)
On the Allied left flank progress is slow but the A/H HMGs cannot quite seem to get their act together, so they bravely push on through a hail of bullets.
This HMG team had given the Arditi a good deal of punishment, but even an almost direct hit from supporting artillery couldn't quite finish them off - although they were pinned! Such is the fickle nature of artillery!?
Some of Phil's Arditi, supported by a flame thrower, attack the front line trench. The tough Italian fighters made short work of the A/H regulars.
More Arditi assault a damaged trench section, again with considerable success. On the left some Italian regulars close in, but cannot quite reach the enemy line and are pinned down by rifles and HMGs. The A/H reserves have been committed to stabilise the front line trench.
The Italian regulars on the left finally reach the A/H trenches, with the British in close support.
As I mentioned earlier, the early part of the battle went in favour of the defending A/H, but as the casualties mounted and the larger Allied force closed the distance, the defenders had a real fight on their hands to hold the trench lines. In the end it was a effectively a draw, although I'm sure Phil will agree that we must have had the moral victory! Both forces had suffered terrible casualties, so with the first trench line mainly in allied hands it would all depend upon who could muster reserves in order to either exploit a partial breakthrough, or mount a counter-attack to recapture the trench!
A jolly good fun game played very much in the spirit of "Gentleman Wargamers". The rules we played (and adjusted during play!) are a very promising start and I look forward to more enjoyable wargaming.
Many thanks to Rob for inviting me along, hosting a great game and being a first class good sport. Thanks also to Phil for letting me take command of part of his army and for being a great ally.