Sunday, 23 August 2015

Monty Must Die! - Game 3 (the finale)

Captain Todd shook his head grimly as the stretcher-bearers ran past carrying the badly wounded Lieutenant Carruthers. The Germans had really caught B Company on the hop. Although how they had managed to infiltrate the front lines was anybody’s guess. May be one of the few remaining French collaborators had helped them? What mattered was that Monty had given the order to hold the village at all costs. Reinforcements were on their way. In fact Monty had visibly bridled at Todd’s suggestion that it might be prudent if the General and his small staff withdrew from the village.

“Right... Sergeant Murphy!” he called, his voice carrying even over the buzz of German MG fire. “His Lordship isn’t going to run just because a few German parachutists are giving us some bother, so I want a section in the old barn and another behind the café. The Vickers can cover the château gates and the road!”
“Yessir!” the brawny Irishman replied snapping a crisp salute, then dashed off bellowing at his men to get going.

More bullets rattled off the boulangerie wall causing everyone nearby to duck instinctively. Todd swiveled round and pointed at the Corporal leading section number three, “Watkins, stay here. The tankers are getting a Sherman ready – you and your men are its eyes and ears. Got that?”
“Sir!” came the reply before he started getting his men in to good cover positions along the street.

“Where do you want us sir?” it was Perkins and Lark, the PIAT team.
Todd paused, so far there had been no reports of any German armour, which didn’t surprise him given that it was clearly a mission that had relied on stealth and subterfuge. “Leave the PIAT, join Watkin’s men. If there is any armour then the tank can deal with it”.
Turning to the 2” mortar team he called “get dug in further along this road but wait for my orders, I don’t want Jerry using our smoke to cover his attack”.

With his men deployed as best he could, Todd took up position behind a solid garden wall and readied his binoculars. In the distance he could see grey clad figures dashing between buildings. Any moment now he thought...

Use “Attack on an Objective” from the rulebook.
The Germans must capture the Château, which is being used as a forward HQ by Monty.

Full elite FJ platoon.
No armour or artillery may be selected as support.

Full regular Infantry platoon.
The final British section to deploy has 12 men, but the platoon has no PIAT team.
Monty is a senior leader, with 2 rifles and a sten as his 'bodyguard'. He is in the château and cannot be deployed/activated until the German reach the chateau walls - otherwise he could very quickly escape via the back gate! Clearly he expects the brave men of the King's Own Somerset Light Yeomanry* to hold Jerry off!
*not a real formation!

Germans, 2D6 as per the scenario but to represent the attrition of the preceding battles in and around Authie both dice are reduced by one pip, to a minimum total of 2 points. The British calculate their support based on the unmodified dice roll.
The British also gain 2 points of entrenchments as the village is being used a forward HQ. These must be used on two teams and not combined to entrench a section.

Before I move on to the action, here's a few pictures of the village.

Right, enough of the guided tour of Authie. On to the action!

First, the Patrol Phase is complete so here are the Jump Off Points. The Germans are approx halfway across the table, well in to the village.

The British have achieved some good positions on the flanks, behind hard cover with good fields of fire. The central JOP was awkward to place and ended up just inside the gates of the château.

Mike wastes no time in getting his bold FJ's in to action! Two squads advance on each flank.

Here come the Tommies! Loitering to the rear of the Boulangerie. Should they occupy the building and thus gain better cover although with restricted lines of sight, or should they use the stone walls?

An ideal vantage point for my sniper.

With one and a half German squads closing in on this flank it was time to get a few more of my men on the table. An infantry section deploys behind the stone shed whilst the (newly painted!) Vickers sets up shop in the back yard of the café.

Alas, their combined firepower was rather less than effective so the German reply was fearsome! The Vickers team were shredded and broke - the two survivors (with four points of shock) make a hasty withdrawal.

Across the village square the Platoon Sergeant has come forward and got the section in to the Boulangerie starting a firefight with the smaller FJ squad in the garage.

Bwah-hah-hah-hah! A Chain of Command dice allows me to ambush with my flame-thrower team!! They caused no casualties but inflicted a hefty amount of shock on the Germans, pinning them on the (rather singed) hedge line.

Back across the square another section is deployed to help deal with the FJs in the garage and those in the gardens behind. With their Bren team joining the firefight, the section in the Boulangerie are gaining the upper hand against the FJs in the garage.

What is it with my Senior Leaders?! The Platoon Sergeant is hit by the hail of bullets whizzing across the little street. Mike has to bring one of his own SLs forward to help reduce the shock on the FJs.

Hurrah! A second 'squirt' from the portable BBQ and these FJs have had enough. Again, few casualties but with seventeen points of shock they're off. Even the presence of their Leutnant in the farmyard is not much help.

The firefight between the men in the Boulangerie and Garage concluded with the few remaining FJs breaking and withdrawing to the relative safety of the garden behind a stone wall. By this point both platoons were low on morale, both on 4 or 5, so things were close.

The section behind the café are close to breaking having taken a lot of fire from the MG42 squad by the barn so I decided to use the section by the Boulangerie to reinforce that flank. The Platoon Sergeant orders the Bren team to lay down suppressing fire on the MG42 (as noted by the counter with 'puffs' of dirt) whilst the rifle team dash across the square. But even 'at the double' they fail to clear the square.

Mike's turn and he fires but only kills one man ... may be they'll reach the safety of the café?

Or may be not ... Mike has a Chain of Command dice and uses it to interrupt my move and catch the riflemen in the open. Only the Corporal survives. Ouch!

With the reinforcements now laying dead in the village square, the section on the flank break after taking yet more fire from the MG42.

Mike then used another Chain of Command dice to end the turn causing my broken section to rout which resulted in my morale falling to 0. The village was in German hands.

"For you, Herr General, ze var is over!" - Leutnant Meindl bags his man outside the château... but will they remember to take Von Klomp's priceless work of art?

What a superb game! An absolute belter that went right down to the wire. My thanks to Mike for another evening of top notch gaming. In fact the whole series have been a delight to play and really shows what you can do with the basic scenarios and a bit of imagination.

Albert Spangler sat in the back of the Opel truck and worked hard to keep a look of grim determination on his face. Either side of him sat two large Fallschirmjaegers with MP40's at the ready. On the bench opposite sat Leutnant Meindl. The Leutnant had been most polite when he entered the château and announced - in excellent English - that he was to accompany the paratroopers back to German lines. Albert knew he was no soldier; only three months ago he was on the stage at the Windmill Theatre in Westminster. Then suddenly he was drafted in to the army, despite being nearly 60, just because he bore a striking resemblance to a certain General. Well he would need all of his acting talent now...

Friday, 21 August 2015

Vickers MMG

I've found my British platoon a little out-gunned compared to Panzergrenadier and Fallschirmjager platoons and their seemingly endless supply of MG42's ;o)  So, a quick word with the quartermaster and 'hey presto' ... A Vickers MMG.

Actually, I picked it up at Salute but it's taken me this long to realise how much I needed the extra firepower!

Also, here's a closer view of the "senior officer" I've painted for our recent "Monty" campaign (more on that in the next post!). Not quite a facsimile of the real man, but hey - this one is only an inch high!

A better view of the MMG. The gunners and the chap with the compass are Warlord figures. The other two, pistol and rifle, are from Crusader miniatures.

I like the fact that the machine-gunner has his tea mug strapped to his backpack.

Oh, and the barn and fences are by Charlie Foxtrot models.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Chateau (updated)

Way back last year I got the splendid Sarissa Chateau kit as a birthday present. As I put it together I realised that simply plonking it on the table would not be enough... it needed a proper setting, i.e. landscaped gardens! Anyway, Jenny has kindly painted it (rather nicely) for me, so here it is.

Reining in any Capability Brown tendencies, I designed the gardens from scratch, bearing mind that you need to be able to get plenty of models in and around it. I ordered some mill columns from Warbases, some gates, plus I asked them to cut some tiled strips (for the wall tops).

The walls are simply foamcore with the tiling strips added. The 'gardens' are MDF sheets - all cut to fit together seamlessly. The MDF has to be fairly strongly pre-curved using plenty of heavy books to obviate the curving brought about by applying texture and paint - these have turned out nice and flat.

No fancy gardens are complete without some statues. The bronze statues - spare Roman and Medieval figures - are ideal. Undercoat black, heavy drybrush of Foundry Bottle Green, heavy drybrush of GW Tin Bitz (yes, I still have an old pot!) although any dark bronze would be fine, finished off with a very light drybrush of GW Shining Gold.

The brick columns were painted using a base of Foundry Conker Brown shade, a wash of Earthshade, highlight again in Conker Brown, then paint a few random bricks in Foundry Brick Red shade, or GW Scorched Brown and maybe Vallejo Flat Earth. The tiles are just black highlighted gently with the Foundry Slate Grey triad. The gates were painted black then given a coat of gloss varnish to make them look like well cared for cast iron. The paths are magnolia masonry paint, spray with Warlord Dunkelgelb, followed by highlights of Foundry Boneyard shade, Raw Linen light and finally with some pure white. The lawns are Flat Earth, then PVA and static grass - try to leave a millimetre of brown showing around the edge as it delineates the lawn and path better.

An aerial view.

The chateau, with the obligatory staff officers.

The window frames and shutters took ages to paint! Like most MDF buildings the roof and upper floor lift off. Jenny has put marble effect flooring downstairs, plus light oak boarding for the upstairs. She resisted the urge to put fireplaces etc in as she did with the Brasserie!

Some more all round pics.

I've already nicknamed it the Pink Palace after a place I used to work (please, don't ask!!) - or should that be Le Palais Rosé?

I think it needs a few pots and plants to really finish off the gardens. May be a gardener too? Does anyone make strips of privet or box hedging? Perhaps I could add another less formal garden area and use some of the Warbases potting shed and greenhouse kits... then there's the kitchen garden... and an orchard... oh dear, I think I need a lie down! ;o)

Following Peter's excellent suggestion in his comment, I have updated the chateau slightly.

The "real" picture is on display just down the road in Longleat.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

More WW1 play-testing...

Général de Brigade d'Orange and I were keen to do some more play-testing of his splendid rules "Zero Hour" so I laid out a table and waited ... since he was fashionably late ;o) I decided to take a few pics of my WW1 British heading for the front line.

Think this chap needs the attention of a pretty nurse at the nearest aid station - sadly it will be some tired, over-worked and possibly ham-fisted medical orderly who will apply the dressings.

A walking stick ... the ideal weapon for tackling the might of the Imperial German army.

Not quite an army of Germans, but a few of them were getting ready to give the BEF a warm welcome.

Others were beyond caring what the enemy did.

Anyway, the good Général de Brigade d'Orange finally arrived, muttering something along the lines of ".. couldn't let the fois gras go to waste.." or perhaps ".. I was really enjoying that French tart.." ;o)

So enough faffing around with dollies and scenery... and on to the game!

Dave and his Germans man the improvised defences.

The British get ready to "bully off for the final chukka". Players of WaC may notice some similarity of the deployment zones with one of the options listed in Battle Begins. That's because Dave has been drawing on the excellent WaC rules to update Zero Hour.

As with WaC we both had objectives for the game. The British had to destroy the two best German Companies, whilst the Germans "just" had to hold the line and take out 75% of the British. A tough ask for both sides.

The British press home their attack on the left.

On the British right, the advance is more cautious. A17 'Arthur' rumbles towards the German centre.

You can see here that a few models are mounted on poker chips - these represent the command influence of the platoon, company and battalion officers. The Command Tokens (as they're known) are used either to give troops additional commands, such as double pacing, or they're used to boost morale rolls from 2D6 to 3D6 and choose the two lowest dice. But in each turn once they're used they're not available until the next turn.

What's this!? Air support? Yes, the Battalion commanders can use their command tokens to request a range of support, e.g. air cover, artillery barrages, gas, reinforcements, etc. It's worth noting that officers can fall during the battle and with them goes their command tokens, representing the confusion of battle as casualties mount.

Hurrah!? Britain flexes her Imperial muscle and sends in the 9th Deccan Horse.

Ground troops watch the fly-past.

The British press on to the German lines.

The tankers provide covering fire as the brave Indians head for the enemy positions.

Alas, that's the last of the pictures but I can tell you that the rules are coming along very nicely indeed. Plus it was a narrow victory for the British ;o)

The blend of WaC mechanics and Command Tokens (similar to WaC Strategy Intervention Points but slightly more flexible) make for a compelling game. There are never quite enough Command Tokens to go round so you have to prioritise your key actions from turn to turn, plus consider what the enemy will do in their turn.

Thanks to Dave for a super game! Zero Hour is really shaping up to be a great set of WW1 rules.