What better way to spend a free Saturday than with friends at a great wargaming venue (BIG @ Bristol) pushing toys around the table, rolling dice and generally chewing the fat? Exactly! So that's precisely what Orange Dave and I did yesterday.
Our Duel in the Sun campaign is ticking along nicely so we decided to go for two more games in one day. The first is an amphibious assault where the allies are landing on the Italian mainland. Since I'd been victorious in the second battle of the campaign (having successfully held up the allied advance across Sicily - but only just!) my troops had plenty of time to prepare the beaches.
Here are Dave's superb scratch-built landing craft sailing across his equally excellent seascape. I expect those brave chaps are feeling a little queasy!
|Life on the ocean wave? No thanks!|
Here's the beach ... bunkers, trenches, sandbags, minefields and barbed wire ... and not an ice cream van in sight?!?
|Welcome to Italy!|
Dave, being as cunning as a fox with a PhD in craftiness, decides to concentrate his attack on my slightly weaker left flank. For some daft reason I had both the HMGs on the other flank. This plan totally caught me by surprise!
|Hard to starboard Bosun!|
Dave took this excellent pic. Looking from this angle it's a pretty forbidding beach!
|Steady men! Steady!|
Turn 2 or 3 and the landing craft hit the beach. On the way in they'd taken a lot of small arms fire which had resulted in a few pins but since (a) the landing craft are effectively armoured transports and (b) I didn't have any heavy weapons (must paint some!), the chaps on board were okay-ish. Dave really enjoyed flicking the ramps down ;o)
|Ramps down! Go Go Go!|
However ... all the pins meant that some of the troops were rather reluctant to get out and on to the beach. Frankly we couldn't blame them. The amount of bullets whizzing through the air along with the mortars, artillery, etc would have been nothing short of terrifying.
The vessel on the right in the pic below is packed with Commandos! I should point out here that Dave had a series of very shonky dice rolls for morale to get his pinned troops moving. There's not much you can do when 2D6 come up with 11 is there? This slightly stalled the attack in the surf, which as you'll see later, had quite an impact.
Dave's attack on one flank meant that I had to rapidly re-organise my defences. At the bottom of this pic you can see some of my troops running behind the bunker to shore up (pun intended) this flank. Also of note is the just behind the sandbags next to the bunker is my Forward Artillery Observer - I don't usually include these in my German force but this time he proved invaluable!
Further along the beach a squad and two HMGs hurry along to get in to the action.
In turn 2 I called in the artillery and at the start of turn 3 in came the shells - timed to perfection. A second roll of a '6' meant the blast had maximum radius too. One section of Commandos was totally obliterated and other nearby troops were badly pinned, struggling as they were in the surf.
Number three landing craft swings hard to port so as to give the men a slightly more sheltered route on to the beach. The dune would block a lot of the German firepower.
The guns on the landing craft reduce this German squad to just the NCO who amazingly passed his morale check.
|Halt! Englisher swine-hunds!|
Dave's Forward Observer (in the surf just beyond the dune in the pic above) calls in the
artillery but again the dice abandon Dave as he rolls a '1' and I get to re-position the target
point. I really felt for Dave and his brave soldiers - the attack was
faltering and very few Germans had been slain. His artillery caused yet
more damage to the boats and the troops struggling to get on to the
beach - however it did kill that lone NCO.
The other section of Commandos from landing craft number one gain the beach, skirt the wire and assault the German defenders. These tough allied fighters are truly awesome and made short work of the German regulars.
|Tally ho! Let 'em have it lads! Dakka-dakka!|
But the next dice out the box was black so a squad of German veterans move up to slaughter the brave Commandos in a hail of lead.
|Gott im Himmel! Die Engländer schießen!* Dakka-dakka!|
*I think that says "God in Heaven! Shoot the English!" ... Apologies to any German speakers/readers if it says something entirely different :o)
Anyway, turn 5 and the attempt to take the beach is clearly going south. But Dave and his brave chaps don't give up! Another boat shifts position to try to use the dune to shelter the troops as they disembark.
|Note the monstrous squid-creature from the deep appearing at the top of the pic ;o)|
But the German HMGs can still draw a bead on them and more soldiers are shot up in the surf.
|Ah!!? Look out for the mighty squid beast!|
Turn 6 ended with just a few allied troops on the edge of the beach but the German defenders were still largely intact.
We rolled for turn 7 and the dice came up a '3' so the battle ended there. However, it was such fun that we played it anyway. But the result was settled. The landings had failed - although the actual score in terms of VPs was closer than expected.
This is first amphibious landing that either of us have done and it was fascinating! A real challenge and certainly something very different. Highly recommended! A big Thank You
to Dave for organising everything and making some first class boats and scenery. Hopefully they'll see action again when we do our Normandy campaign later in the year.
So... on to game four!
This is entitled "Backs to the Sea". The Allies have managed to gain a toe-hold on the Italian beaches but the Germans have organised a desperate counter-attack with the intention of driving the Allies back in to the waves. The battle takes place in the rather battered seaside settlement of Villagio sul Mare
. Thanks to Jim at BIG for turning his cupboards upside down to find some suitable buildings!
The Allies are dug in one side with the Germans dug in on the other. Both sides got a preparatory bombardment, so plenty of pins all round! Here's the view from Dave's side.
|The once picturesque resort of Villagio sul Mare.|
And the view from the German/Italian side.
|Spot the slight scenic gaffe?|
Look at the table again... Can you see what the potential issue might be? ;o)
Dave's men have made the most of all available cover.
Okay, it's turn three and not much movement by either side, although the tank did push forwards. Yes the issue with this table was that in our haste to get the game going we rather forgot to put any scenery in the middle of the table. A German attack across such open terrain would have been suicidal so I settled for a long range fire-fight hoping that my LMGs and HMGs could hammer the Allies.
The tank provided some hilarity as it rumbled about knocking chunks out of buildings and sections of soldiers alike. The early pinning of several German units made it difficult to get them firing effectively. Thankfully I managed to keep the British Forward Observer thoroughly pinned until he was taken out by my sniper, so no hefty bombardment from the Royal Navy.
A very different game from the landings but still great fun, plus quite instructive in terms of how to lay out a table!! The result was that whilst the Germans did rather more damage to the Allies than they received in return, they could not carry the day. So a win for the Allies; their hold on the mainland remains intact and is soon reinforced leading to an Axis retreat.
So a splendid day of gaming all round! Two excellent campaign games with a win each. That means it's honours even in the campaign so far, two wins each. But by winning game 4 Dave has the upper hand as we go in to game 5 ... Monte Cassino!