Monday, 31 August 2015

DownOrder Podcast Campaign Day


Sunday 30th August saw myself, Chris and Alex travel down to Mansfield for Sam Lancashire's DownOrder Podcast event, The End of the Beginning at Sanctuary Games in Sutton in Ashfield...

With 16 players, 8 Allied and 8 Axis, the campaign day was based in North Africa and a good mix of armies were on hand...

My infantry platoon was taken from the Kasserine Pass list, and but for the medic, was all Inexperienced:

1st Lieutenant plus two men
Colonel plus two men
6 x 10 GI's, 1 BAR, 1 SMG, 8 Rifles
3 x MMG teams
1 x Medium mortar
1 x Bazooka team
1 x 37mm AT gun,
M3 Half-track
M4A1 Sherman HMG upgrade

Dave Hunter was the Allied commander and sent my force off to a building heavy table to give me a chance (forgetting it had a prelim bombardment on it)

Game 1 saw myself pitted against a wily old rival, Gary Betts and his exquisite DAK force.

Gary and I have played each other a few times, and he knows the game inside out. I have beaten him as a russian, and lost previously to his German Heer and Polish cavalry, but he's found his calling with the Afrika Korps, being the perfect embodiment of a DAK commander, tough to beat, determined to beat you but you dont feel bad for losing badly too him. After all, he wont shoot medics on principal as he refused to do in what was a new mission for me, Block buster?

This is the view from Gary's side: The objective was to hold all four board quarters and clear out the enemy. Your entire force can be set up up to 24" on, as can your opponents which made for a real bloodfest... Additionally, every unit had to roll to be hit by a preliminary bombardment.

Gary's force consisted I think of a 2nd Lt + 1, Air observer plus 1, 2 x 6 man regular squads with LMG, 2 x 6 man veteran squads, 1x SMG and flamethrower 7 man pioneer squad, 2 x hanomags, 2 x 250's with panzerbusche and a StuH 42.

The preliminary bombardment caused quite a few pins and killed one man from an MMG. Two more men could have gone from units, but Gary rolled a one. I was more considerate, and immobilised a Hanomag and blew up a wee Panzerbusche 250 and the officer inside it...

We both loaded the buildings on our sides with troops, Gary had two units off to his left, 1 vet and 1 reg (left side of pic) supported by StuH 42, one Pioneer unit in the centre, and his other two units in the large right hand building, with his 250 busche and Air observer on the right. My right had a mortar behind the wee vineyard (top of the picture) and an MMG in it. Two squads in the white building centre, one behind it, with the major, medic and motor pool.  One squad central left in the building with an MMG upstairs, teh 37mm and bazooka just behind covering the crossroads and 1st Lt at rear. Top right near Y junction, a squad in the building and another outside behind a wall, supported by an MMg in a copse and the Sherman on the road.

Turn 1

I drew the first dice and get overly excited, charging out of my central building to the building across the street and simultaneously fight the pioneers. I didnt actually realise they were the pioneers at the time (despite the flammenwerfer spouting flame). I did well, killing 5 including the flamer but was wiped out. Next dice was mine, And the squad outside the white building went in. Gary immediately assaulted them with his left veteran unit, winning easily but losing a few. I then charged downstairs and lost half my men but wiped out the DAK forces there. The StuH failed its order test due to prelim pins, as did my sherman. Gary the charged veterans out centre right and lost 4 men but still destroyed a third unit. I responded by sending my 1st Lt in with his two men, and both sides were wiped out. His remaining busche put a further pin on my retiring Sherman, he called his airstrike in on my left most squad in the yard, and my mortar rolled a 6 to hit the roof of the building on Gary's left, with his regular DAK inside. My last unit failed to unpin and went down.

So, I had lost 3.5 units in the centre, Gary had lost both Veterans and his pioneers were down to 2 men... 1st turn blood bath

Turn 2 

My squad go down to his arriving airstrike, and I only lost 2 men but was up to 5 pins. I drew first and failed to move the Sherman again, except backwards with 3 pins. Gary passed his test on the StuH and wiped out my 0.5 squad in the centre. He then ran his two pioneers in to the white building to threaten my Col, who ran to my left to help out that flank and the tank. Medic followed, as did transports. Bazooka ran into M3 and 37mm went on ambush. Gary's busche failed to penetrate the sherman again, his left squad risked the mortar and wiped out my right MMG.

Turn 3

Mortar went through the roof and landed on 1st floor. Gary responded by charging out towards the US right which consisted of a 2 man mortar crew. His right regulars put a pin on my now 6 pinned left unit, which I failed to rally, and his air observer SMg'd them up to 7. Gary them blew up the Sherman with the busche, my MMG in the copse killed the German air observer. The M3 advanced but didnt finish off the pioneers, who vacated the building. The StuH advanced with no targets, so the bazooka team dismounted and ran into the white building ready for next turn, and the Col ran to the Y junction to rally the men in the courtyard.

Turn 4 

The German left regulars charge into the white building and take out the bazooka while the Colonel successfully rallied the unit, losing 6 pins. The German regulars killed both his subordinates in return but he stayed in the fight. The StUh 42 MMG the mortar remnants, while the two pioneers charged and took out the M3. The busche took out the jeep. The Germans neglected to shoot the medic by choice! My far left squad ran out and onto the Y to threaten the DAK regulars

Turn 5

The Stuh 42 took out the squad on the Y junction, the Col ran into the centre left building, and the newly rallied troops failed to shrug off one pin and stayed down. The Germans consolidated tehir grip on the town

Turn 6

The Germans destroy the 37mm, and surround the Col, medic and MMG teams in and around the centre left house. The lone GI squad failed to move and the game ended with Gary controlling 3 table quarters, contesting the fourth and destroying 12 US units while losing 6 (3 to preliminary bombardment).
Another win chalked up for Mr Betts, but it was a great game with the action thick and furious from the off...

Game 2 saw the Allies bring fourth their armour...

Yet again, the Allied commander saw fit to put my force in harms way first...

My all Inexperienced armoured platoon list consisted of 5 x Shermans M4A1's with HMG's, the command vehicle being a company commander (+2). I also had a second Lt, 2 x 10 GI's, an MMg, a 2.5 truck and an M3 halftrack)

I was playing Dave Rexhead, whose Italian colonials looked great and would have been really intimidating had I ran my infantry list... Dave has a similar approach to force selection as myself, having played against his inexperienced Soviet hordes before. He's a gentleman player, and takes bad luck as part of the game.

2 Lt's ?, 2 x Paratroopers squads outflanking in trucks, 3 x Inexp colonial tough fighter, a medium mortar, MMG, Medium howitzer, M13/41 light AT gun tank and an Autoblinda. He also had warplane with a pair of bombs...

The mission was played length ways and the aim was to get control of the 5 objectives in the board centre, one in the ford, the others in the four surrounding ruins... Dave won side choice, and elected to advance on from the right where the hills were higher.

Turn 1

My tanks advance predominantly up the right hand bank, 4 shermans with a truck full of GI's, the 2nd Lt and the MMG. The halftrack with the 2nd squad was on teh left bank with a sherman. The Italian advanced with some forces, teh paratroopers and Autoblinda outflanking, 2 colonials advancing both sides of the, with mortar and MMG on the left and the howitzer on the right hill. The   M13 advanced and fired the only hit of the turn, stunning the M3.

Turn 2

The Italian air force show up and target the middle of 3 tanks running line abreast (Dave assumed it would be the command tank, but I had written it down: Classy Peg wasn't targetted) The targetted M4A1 took a penetrating hit, setting it afire (Being petrol driven, this meant it took D3 pins rather than just one but Dave rolled low). However, with Classy Peg nearby, the tank crew dowsed the flames. Having revealed the commander (or rather, the Italians SigInt unit on the hill identifying it), Dave through all his good dice into one turn. First, Classy Peg took a long range light AT glancing hit from the M13/41 for 2 pins, then a direct medium howitzer shot which, although not enough to penetrate still shook up the Inexperienced commander  for a further 3 pins. Having just steadied the his fellow tankers, the commander was up to five pins when Dave dropped a 6 for his medium mortar shot, and a glancing hit with his 6 to hit. He then rolled a further two pins, giving me 8 in total and forcing my crew to bail out and run...All in one turn...It was fairly awesome!!!

The US advanced none the less, with troops disembarking into cover and an objective on the right and the MMG taking a stance on the hill, while to the left an advancing sherman took an objective and stunned the M13/41.
Classy Peg burns after an awesome Italian barrage

Turn 3

The MMG and infantry go into ambush on the right, the Autoblinda appear and roll up next to the lone sherman on the left bank and stun it with a shot to the thin sided flank. The M3 rolled up with its troops on board and flanked the autoblinda with its HMG. Dave took the shot, and was stunned with a glancing hit. The Italian artillery and mortar failed to range in and hit, their two colonial units advanced, the third still held off with Lt in reserve. Dave explained he didnt want to give me easy targets.

Turn 4

The autoblinda take a third pins from the M3 HMG before the GIs dismounted, the right shermans march up to point blank the colonial in hard cover and on an objective. The autoblinda retreated due to pins, the left side sherman going into ambush as dust clouds suggested an outflanking force approaching, The GIs on the left got out and added their weight of pins to the left side colonials which were taking fire from both side of the valley. The 2nd Lt on the right retreated with the M4 that continued to fail to rally from the earlier bomb run. The italian airforce showed up again but was ineffectual on their bomb run. With ambushing units on both sides, Dave kept his flanking infantry off.

Turn 5

The left side sherman miss the autoblinda with it's heavy weapons, but add more pins on the colonial pinned to the hillside. the left side Gis went onto ambush before the Italian  flankers showed up using the autoblinda to avoid being shot up. The Italians braved the fire by leaping out, the 8 man squad being reduced to 5 from the fusilade but their return fire was very poor and only two GI's died to their smgs. The colonials were under duress on both valley sides, either remaining pinned or having shermans circling, but they did not suffer many casualties. The M13/41 had rallied the previous turn, but still retained a pin.and failed its order test while the artillery and mortar fire were off target. The other paratroopers did not show up as the M3 took the ford objective.

Turn 6

The left side sherman fire everything at the paratroopers and wiped them out. The autoblinda took the other left side objective, and nothing else the Italians fired hit, bar the returning air force which strafed the GIs who hit the deck and took minimal casualties. With 3 objectives held by the US forces, and two by the Italians, the outflanking paratroopers could force a draw by removing the remaining right GI's, but they got lost in the desert and never showed up...

So a narrow win for my inexperienced tank column, with one unit lost each. The Italians fought well and were almost impossible to shift (read that as hit and wound, even the colonials) Dave didnt have too much that could hurt the tanks at range but had he committed his infantry en masse rather than piecemeal I feel he would have overwhelmed me. It was a good game, with turn 2 the highlight even if I was on the receiving end...

Game 3 saw me face off against the DAK again,..

Top secret was the mission,with a German officer straying into no-mans land the prize. I was paired secondly rather than first, which was a nice change but I was facing thr recently demoted Axis commander, Pete Melvin.

Pete runs the Rushden Phoenix tournaments with his club mates, and despite 15 games there, we haven't played before (as we both tend to favour Axis forces). I was looking forward to this, as I know he's a fun player like Gary and Dave, and this turned out to be the best of three great games...

I was back to using the 18 unit infantry list, against Pete's all veteran DAK force which had the following I believe...

2nd Lt +1
3 x 6 men, smg, lmg
1 x 5 men, 3 smg, lmg
1 x pioneers, 1 flammenwerfer, smgs
Heavy mortar
Quad half track AA flakvierling
AA autocannon
Stuka Warplane

James Meikle and Mike Goss on this table... Get orf moi land!!!

The Axis played their double points joker on this, so I was told to win at all costs (or not lose badly) by General Dave. I pointed out that he had given me a mission that needed me to bring my force on from reserve!!! (I like whinging)

However, when the first dice came out, and with the Axis general sat invitingly on top of the central hill, I forgot to roll to bring the first unit on... Both Pete and I forgot this throughout the turn, but it didnt make the game any less fun. 

Turn 1

I ran the bulk of my force on centrally aiming for the officer, with 2 MMG going to the right hill with the mortar, and the 3rd MMG on the left hill. The 37mm went behind the palms( above the book) to cover the road. Pete did similar, his heavy AA and MMG in his central palms, officer and two units on his right, pioneers and other two units on centre left, Last unit on was the quad flak which came down the road and killed a few men, before taking a glancing hit from a sherman...

Turn 2

Quad AA plans to flank the sherman, but retreats after failing its order. Stuka strafes but is ineffectual. The M4A1 advances and puts a pin out on an infantry squad. All units converge on the hill except the support squads 2 US MMG go on ambush, as does the german and the AA gun. the 3rd US has to advance to get on the hill. Last dice is the bazooka team who dash to grab the Kraut officer only to die when the Buzzsaw opens up...

Turn 3

First dice is American, and I have a cunning plan... I can assulat the closest DAK unit or ingore them and tank shock two squads including the Pioneers... Classy Peg gets a rolling, but Pete passes both tests...Well, it was along shot...
I get the next dice and am just within 6" of the DAK vets nearest the officer. In we go!!! 10 attacks, zero kills... Wiped out. The DAK consolidate toward the officer and within 6" of another GI unit. Next dice is mine...9 attacks, 1 kill. Wiped out again. DAK consolidate onto officer. Pete is holding his sides together, while I am checking over my shoulder that General Dave is not watching (he was on the table behind).
3rd dice is mine, unit 3 goes in. Pete holds his fire as doesnt want to waste the activation and he is confident... 11 attacks, 7 kills... Go figure!!!
The Pioneers respond, assaulting and wiping out the GIs. The Quad AA advances and takes a gunner off the 37mm. The 1st Lt mounts the M3, the major and men pin and kill a pioneer...The MMgs take out some krauts, but teh small DAk squad heads left and takes out an MMG

Turn 4

The Stuka returns and takes out a GI squad that pose a threat to Pioneers with a pair of bombs. The DAK pioneers retreat 6" and flame the Sherman, which fails its motivation... The next dice 4 DAK troops assault the M3 to block off an assualt on the pioneers, but the 1st Lt jumps out and holds off the wiping out teh attackers and consolidating near the german officer. The german Leutnant attacks, wins but is assaulted in turn and despatched by more GIs who consolidate near the pioneers. The small SMg DAK unit runs to assist the pioneers but is charged by the Colonel, as teh US get desperate. The command team dont kill anyone, and gets wiped out. The DAk then gets mortared but only gets pins... The Flak track takes out the M3

Turn 5

I get the dice and charge into the pioneers, wiping them out and reducing my squad to five men. The mortar then takes out the remaining DAK infantry. The heavy AA hit the squad but dont kill but the GIs take an MMG pin and lose a man. Pete is desperate, but the flak track cant do anything as its on the wrong side of the hill. It unleashes its frustration on the 37mm nearby. Pete runs the Heavy mortar toward my squad and the dazed German officer they are holding...

Turn 6

The Luftwaffe returns and strafes the squad, 4 hits, 4 wounds. Pete was jubilant until I reminded him they were MMg shots and my medic was within 6". I saved 2, but still failed the pesky morale check...Pete knew teh only thing I had to take the objective and win was my medic, but was loathe to shoot him. I told him I would not use the medic aggressively. He then put both his MMG and Heavy AA on ambush as assurance! The quad AA took out my remaining right MMG, and I missed the heavy mortar with my mortar, leaving just the left MMG with no targets and a jeep. The heavy mortar ran onto the German officer/ My medic, faced with charging 4 german veterans while dodging heavy AA and MMG shells, went down and tended to the many casualties...

It was simply an awesome game!!! 4 units left on either side, but a German victory nonetheless...

Fortunately, it didn't cost the Allies too much and overall they sneaked a win on the day but the Germans nearly took tit with the casualty bonus I contributed so heavily towards...

Everyone had a great time, Sam did a great job organising the event and garnered great prize support from Warlord, Die Waffenkammer and Black Tree Design. The Sanctuary Gaming venue is fantastic (its an old church) and I'd heartily recommend the next Downorder event to anyone...

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Cannon 2015 "The Battle of Sidi Bou Zid" Bolt Action demonstration game March 29th

Having spent a few fun Sundays in 2014/ early 2015 playing campaign days with the Sarge lads, they kindly invited us Ribble Warriors to put on a display game at Cannon.

Chris, Alex and myself decided to put on a size-able battle with all of Chris Carr's exquisite veteran  Deutsche Afrika Korps against my own Inexperienced GI's and elements of the1st Armoured Division, based on the US counter-attack at Sidi Bou Zid in the opening days of the Battle for Kasserine Pass,,,

The dug in, highly experienced force of Rommel's DAK defending the town

2nd Lt
4 x 8 man squads, Lmg, smg
7 man motorbike squad
Anti tank rifle
mortar+ obs
medium Howitzer
5cm PaK 38
88mm Anti aircraft gun
Sdkfz 7
251/1 C
heavy field car
Panzer II
Panzer III G *2
Panzer IV D
Panzer IV G
Panzer VI tiger
Focke Wulfe

The naive, inexperienced US forces under Feldernhall consisted of

1 Captain & two men
1 1st Lt & 1 man
1 2nd Lt & 1 man
1 (Soon to be very busy) medic
3 x 11 GI's (1 BAR, 1 SMG)
3 x 10 GI's (1 BAr, 1 SMG)
3 x 2 men bazooka teams
3 x MMG teams
1 x HMG team
1 Medium Mortar
1 x 37mm AT gun
1 x 105mm Medium Howitzer
10 x Sherman M4A1 medium tanks
1 x M7 Priest
2 x M3 Halftracks
4 x Jeeps
2 x 2.5t trucks
1 x White Scout Car

To represent the disjointed,I took the odd turns and Alex took the even turn and we both played the way we would. ( I tried to close the range, Alex felt compelled to slug it out at range) I think it worked well to represent the chaos the US forces faced. The Germans also had air superiority, and alternated strafing Focke Wulfes with dive bombing Stukas.The pictures will do the talking from here on in, hope you enjoy viewing it as much as we enjoyed playing it...
Sidi Bou Zid

The road to Sidi Bou Zid

The DAK are well entrenched

Plains with an 88 view

Turn1 The US advance at pace, with no recon...

And the DAK screen the advance with smoke???

No, its a range marker for the 88

The Tiger prowls the German right

And the smoke denotes the front lines to strafe...

The M7 Priest is the first US casualty

Shortly followed by the first Shermans M4A1, the 88's first and only penetrating hit


Turn 2 The US mortarmen hit the mark first time

The Focke Wulfe circles

As the Tiger makes its presence felt

The road is well range in by the Germans

But they move reserves up to assist the frontline

Although the veterans seem unconcerned

And target the transports and passengers

US infantry mass on the right, to avoid the Tiger...

But they're walking from now on

Turn 3 start, and the headlong advance stalls in a nightmare of explosions, casualties, fire and smoke

But they have reached the outskirts of town

 And fresh reinforcements arrive to bolster the attack

Turn 4 The first US assault is repulsed on the US right in turn 3, but weakens the DAK left. Then  Alex decides he wants to throw the first of 3 FUBARS in one turn...

The pins stop front US units from doing anything but dig in the sand

But Audience participation (with a +2 hit bonus for newbies) allow the US to wipe out teh two remaining Krauts 

Allowing the medic to be the first to cross the half way line

He seems lonely

As the US assault shifts right to try and take advantage

The DAk on the roof return having evaded the mortar rouns, but walk into another salvo. But they only lose one man

The US right looks strong, but has a few pins

Turn 5 The Stuka takes out some reserves, including another officer and as it wheels away, the eagle eyed rear gunner takes out the US mortar

The US radios cry out to stay off the road

The first glancing hits ignites the petrol on the "Ronson", and one lucky tanker gets out...

The remnants of the lead US squads get in touching distance of the dwellings, only for the 222 to obliterate them...

Turn 6 The advance has all but stalled on the right

But Big Joe and Old Glory leads the way on the left...

Big Joe can take on a Tiger, right...

Starting to feel less optimistic...

As two make it out the second M4A1 to catch fire

The Focke Wulfe photographer returns...

The Tiger is King...

And the plain is afire and littered with shattered vehicles,

Having lost a squad, the DAK rearguard closes up

The 88 shells are hitting, but not popping tanks?

Big Joe and his squad are gunned down, and the DAK NCO has a prisoner and a flag

Turn 7 Its all over, the US forces are in retreat but one enraged tanker rams his M4A1 into a PzII, stunning the Panzer but sparks ignite the Sherman...

The Luftwaffe own the sky, and the US retreat suffers

The ramming Sherman was the furthest the US got...

 Which barely breached the German front line

As this picture clearly captures

Cant see far now, what with the smoke and flames

The reserves squad bikes in to take over the trenches

The Stuka rocked, despite an early miss on the US artillery

The Germans were never seriously in trouble

The 222 did get immobilised by a bazooka

The US captain did well, getting the tanks going forward to their doom.

Historically, the US forces lost 46 out of 51 M4A1's, the Luftwaffe were dominant and the panzers outmatched the US forces, who suffered command issues and severe morale deficiencies...

Alex and I had differing approaches to taking on the Germans, neither of which would have worked.
The US had in total 48 dice, (recycling 8), and had 20 remaining at the end. Only 2 shermans of the original 10 survived, and both had been hit.

Chris had a turkey shoot with his DAK, and the only unit he lost was due to him letting a young audience member take part and giving him a boost.

US Highlights include: Alex 3 Fubars in turn 3, my turn 4 valiant US assault (7 inexp GI' s charging 8 DAK veterans in trenches, with both sides killing 5 each , before the Germans got the upper hand) and the ram failing catastrophically...

DAK highlights: One squad taking two medium mortar hits and surviving, the Luftwaffe and capturing the flag from Big Joes squad...

Great day, great fun, great game...