Sunday 19 October 2014

WW2 Battle Group Ponyri campaign Day 1

The best laid plans of mice and men. When I booked a place in May for myself and my mate to attend the weekend Ponyri campaign game as put on by the Battle Group rules chaps at Stafford Games venue it seemed so far off that I could move house and prep my German force I needed at leisure. Well the move was delayed, my troops were already packed (for the move not the campaign) and I couldn't find all the unpainted stuff I needed. The radio truck wasn't found till Wednesday night while desperately looking for the Battle Rating counters. The final flock went on Friday and the HS129 plane that I managed to spin around my drill bit while making a hole to fit the stand was fixed and packed to dry just before loading in to the car. Not the leisurely start and excited anticipation I was looking for, although I had fun playing about with force lists before the mad rush took over.

A very stressed wargamer turned up Saturday morning to a very friendly welcome from like minded gamers and I began to relax.

The campaign was set over 2 days, with 2 attack/defence games on Saturday and a meeting engagement Sunday. Both scenarios were slightly modified to get the action going quickly e.g. weather was fine and reinforcements came in earlier and more dice to bring them on quicker.

As a German player I attacked day 1 and in theory attacked day 2.

I didn't keep a detailed photo log of the games or notes but the following is what I remember:

My day 1 force was:

Total Points 604
Total BR 33
Officers 4

Pts Forward HQ (L,AFS)
56 FHQ Pz IV H (r) (SnrO, AS,U) BR 3 3 men
26 LAC kubelwagen (r) (O,3+AiS,U) BR 1 2 men
18 Radio truck (r )(Comms)                 BR 1 3 men

Pts Infantry (R,E,S)
199 Armoured Assault Plt  (v)  
  Pz Gren Plt Command 251/16 (O, MS) 6 men
  3 x Squads 3 x 251/1                        15 men
12 3 x MG42                                          9 men
15 include  3x Mine Sweepers
Pts Tanks (R,E, L, S)
150 3x Pz IV H squ (r) (1 x O, MS) (U, Un)  BR 9
Pts Recon Units
30 2x Sniper & Spotter                         BR 2 4 men
18 Motorcycle recon patrol ( r) (s,ms) BR 1 3 men

Pts Artillery (AFS)
72 Off table 2x120mm Mortar  

Pts Logistic Units BR Men
8 1 x Med truck (i) (rsp, un) BR 1
R01 FHQ Pz IV H (r) (SnrO, AS,U) HE 4
                                                  AP 4
111 Pz IV H squ                                 HE 4
                                                  AP 4
112 Pz IV H squ                                 HE 4
                                                 AP 4
113 Pz IV H squ                                HE 4
                                                AP 4
251/16 Flamethrower 1 3 shots
  Flamethrower 2 3 shots

Game 1 

I played a gentlemen called Chris who'd come up from Brighton with some other chaps. He confessed he wasn't experienced in the game which suited my frazzled state and rustiness from not having played for some time. So we took it slow and steady referring to the rule book a lot make sure we were getting it right.

The board was 6x4 with the base edge on the 4. Chris as Russian was defending the outskirts of Ponyri which were on the board and he placed his 6 defences he'd selected ( 2 trenches, 2 dug in T34s, dug in AT gun, and 1 command bunker) across the centre.

In addition Chris received one of the few SU152s randomly from the umpire. Germans could get a Tiger.

I out scouted him so scored the first blood by making him take a BR token.

The coloured cotton wool are the 2 objectives, 1 placed by me in the  Russian 1st 3rd of the board and the 2nd by Chris in the Russian 2nd 3rd of the board. I chose the pig sty as my objective as everything tastes better with bacon!

The church is on the edge of our board, after that it is the next board being fought over.

My initial troops

The PzIVs and the much searched for radio truck painted for the  weekend especially!

1 of Chris's nicely painted infantry squads started off in the field

I really liked these trenches

White cotton wool shows the pinning effect of my mortars

My first casualty as a PzIV brews up, unfortunately it was my senior officer. I forgot to take a 2nd BR token for this chap. Sorry Chris. 

Mid way through the action things are hotting up. I've now lost almost all my tanks and 2 officers. My main attack is now being pressed by my pioneers!

Chris had a good tactic of not unpinning his troops, which I was doing and thus avoiding taking BR chits. His 40 plus BR rating would make him difficult to beat, and even more so with this tactic negating mine which assumed a player would want to unpin his troops

I went on to lose most of the half tracks and but I did take out more  Russian infantry and T34s but not enough. A solid victory for the Russians. Later games would show we made some errors in the rules and I should have taken BR tokens for the objectives Chris was holding and the motor cycle side car vehicle. This didn't change the result. I lost 2/3 pf my BR but enjoyed the game.

Other first games

My mate, also playing Germans facing hordes of T70s. Lots of destroyed  Russians later and victory against the Germans.

Games in full flow

Carl on the right winning against PSC Will. Carl went on to be the highest scoring German player.

The rule's writer himself , Warwick stepping in to play for a missing player

Game 2 

My second game began after lunch, with myself urgently re-hydrating due a school boy error of wearing a jumper in a hall which then became very hot and not drinking any water. Luckily I had a comfy seat to wedge myself in to hide the shakes and an understanding opponent James.

Initial set up with first blood to me out scouting James

The wooden box off centre was the strategic toilet objective. The 2nd was just off camera bottom right.

Nice view of the command bunker and dug in AA gun being used in the AT role..

Maxim gun dug out defended on the outside by a squad of Russians

Yours truly fully recovered from his embarrassing dizzy spell, smiling with the knowledge that it hadn't detracting from is normal generalship. 

Ready, steady...

Go --- bang

I advanced further this game but allowed myself to get bogged down trying to take a central wood wood which would allow me to take out the Russian infantry in cover then the AT gun. 

James takes the German objective!

The central wood showing the carnage from multiple attacks including a katyusha strike right in to the middle of both sides pinning most of my forces as well as some Russians. Ruthless Soviets!

The end. German BR down to 0

The highlights of the game was both German and Russian infantry fighting in the woods blindly not seeing each other and the Germans missing the Grant at point blank range, topped by my recon motorcycle side car  being destroyed forcing me to take a chit for the recon team and a chit for the bike. I drew 2 x 5 breaking my battle group.  Disaster denying my 1 more turn to punish the Russians who were now in the open!

Despite another solid victory for the Russians I enjoyed the game, and it was fun to play against Grants.

Overall I enjoyed the first day. Met some great people and learnt a lot about tactic and the rules.

Black Powder Rebellion!

I have been very much enjoying the Black Powder American War of Independence supplement 'Rebellion!'. I think it the best one Warlord Games have produced so far for these rules. The book contains a good overview of the history and the main campaigns, plus includes a wealth of details on organisation and uniforms. In fact regardless of the scenarios and lists the book together with the rule book is almost a one stop shop to go out and buy, paint and play this great period.

I say great period, it was not until I read an article on the battle of Manhattan (my description rather than perhaps histories) then this supplement that I realised that it could be fun to play. I mean the chance to change history and keep America British and the potential for parliamentary change in the UK as a result.

I inherited the start of any army for both sides I'll dust them off and see what I need to finish them off.