Monday, 13 September 2021

Chain of Command: Arrêter les Boche!

One last game down 'old' Bristol Independent Gaming before it moved to its new premises (even closer to me now, literally five minutes down the road!), and Andy offered to run me through Chain of Command which a few of us had been looking at for some World War One games when we get properly organised, With that in mind Andy suggested an Early War game with him taking command of the French.

The 'Patrol Phase' went well for the Germans giving them several decent locations for their Jumping Off Points. Their mission was to get one unit off the opposite table edge.


Leutnant Gruber entered the table first in his 'little tank', sorry Sd.Kfz.221 armoured car, and moved up the tree lined road towards the French village of Nouvion.


Whilst Unterfeldwebel Bigstern with a rifle squad deployed on the German right flank moving up towards a big barn.


Meanwhile Sous-Lieutenant Carte-Blanche arrived putting his Renault R-35 into Overwatch and sat back reading a copy of Le Figaro awaiting the enemy...


More Germans then arrived, another rifle squad commanded by Feldwebel Geerhart who ordered his troops to hunker down behind the hedge and go into Overwatch.


With no French in sight, Unterfeldwebel Bigstern ordered his men to rush across the ploughed field to try and seize the French Jumping Off Point by the barn.


Leutnant Gruber pootled up the road in his armoured car to the edge of the village.


Unteroffizier Geering then deployed with his mortar team setting up next to one of the German Jumping Off Points.


Bigstern's men moved swiftly across the ploughed field. Still no sign of the French. No doubt they were still asleep...


Gott in Himmel! A squad of French infantry commanded by Serjent Alfonse popped up from behind the hedge and opened fire on the advancing Germans!


One German fell dead and the rifle squad took Shock.


Acthung! More French arrived, a rifle squad commanded by Caporal-Chef Leclerc who went into Tactical mode (I can't remember what that meant but I don't think it mattered...)


In a precarious position with no cover Unterfeldwebel Bigstern ordered his MG34 team to spray the French to their front...


Before charging the French infantry throwing grenades as they went in!


The German attack had a devastating impact on the French killing six and knocking Serjent Alfonse to the ground, stunned by a German bullet!


Unfortunately the melee inflicted saw six more Germans die and Bigstern pushed back with the MG34 team...


Leutnant Gruber, seeing the action on his flank opened fire with his 20mm cannon on the remnants of Serjent Alfonse's squad...


Killing another Frenchman, wounding the prone Serjent and piling more Shock on the remaining French.


On the French right Caporal-Chef Leclerc moved his men into one of the farm buildings...


Verdamnt! More French appeared at the Jump Off Point next to Serjent Alphonse. A third squad of French rifles commanded by Caporal-Chef Dubois...


Who immediately opened fire on Unterfeldwebel Bigstern and the MG34 team.


The lmg crew fell dead and Bigstern was wounded!


Remembering he had some casualty figures Andy decided to put them on the table to mark Unterfeldwebel Bigstern's failed attempt to take the French Jump Off Point...


With a third German rifle squad arriving commanded by Unterfeldwebel von Strohm, Feldwebel Geerhart pushed his men forward into the village...


Whilst the wounded Unterfeldwebel Bigstern ran for cover...


Caporal-Chef Leclerc's men opened fire on the advancing Germans...


But they managed to reach safety of some dead ground having just picked up some Shock.


Having finished reading his copy of Le Figaro Sous-Lieutenant Carte-Blanche opened fire at the German armoured car...


A good shot saw Leutnant Gruber's armoured car damaged and unable to move, with the driver Clarence killed...


With the Germans having got around his flank Caporal-Chef Leclerc ordered his men to vacate the building and retire to the orchard behind it...


With Caporal-Chef Dubois also ordering his men to fall back.


Sous-Lieutenant Carte-Blanche's R35 opened fire on Feldwebel Geerhart's men but missed.


Whilst Leutnant Gruber bravely remained with his armoured car and opened fire on Dubois's squad inflicting Shock on them.


Caporal-Chef Leclerc's men came under fire from Feldwebel Geerhart's MG34 team who inflcited Shock on the French Rifle Squad and wounded its commander.


Having finished his petit déjeuner the French force commander Lieutenant Artois arrived to sort things out but before he could start issuing ordered I deployed one of my support options - the Shabby Nazi Trick! A Fifth Columnist disguised as a British Officer (no doubt called Crabtree) engaged the French officer in conversation... "Good Moaning..."


Feldwebel Geerhart's squad moved up and fired into Caporal-Chef Leclerc's men as they tried to fall back killing four and piling more Shock on them!


As the French reeled from that attack, Unterfeldwebel von Strohm's men charged around the building and caught them in the rear...


The Gods of War(gaming) favoured the German boldness when it came to the dice rolls...


And Caporal-Chef Leclerc's squad was wiped out!


This saw the French Force Morale fall to 1 and with their right flank exposed to the advancing Germans, Andy conceded defeat...

A mix of good tactics and good fortune there. My plan was for Unterfeldwebel Bigstern on the right flank to be a diversion with Feldwebel Geerhart leading the main attack with mortar support on the left. Getting Bigstern's squad wiped out was not part of the plan, but their sacrifice was not in vain as Andy had to use two of his squads to deal with them leaving the German left defended by just one French squad. Whilst the aim was for Gruber's 'little tank' to smash its way up the centre and pulverise any defenders in the village (I was not expecting the R35 to fire like it was armed with an 88mm!), the overload of two squads on the German left secured victory. Vorwärts to Paris!

Thursday, 9 September 2021

The Men Who Would Be Kings: 'Oppin' In An' Out Among The Bush...

Having played a bit of Rebels and Patriots the previous week at BIG, George and I decided to dust off it's sister set The Men Who Would Be Kings for a bit of colonial warfare in the Sudan. By way of an experiment we decided to let the rules' 'Babbage Engine' control when the native forces arrived and what they did when they did!

For the scenario we decided that the Mahdi was having a secret meeting with Osman Digna, news of which had reached General Wolseley's ears who sends a flying column to try and capture the uprising's leaders!


The success, or failure, of the mission would be read about in the Illustrated London News and The Graphic as Melton Prior and Frederick Villiers were on had to record events...


The Bazingers led the way, advancing towards the secret Mahdist rendezvous location. 


With an Imperial unit moving, George rolled on the Native Deployment table...


Rolling a 4 a unit of 'Chargers' appear at short rifle range (so a Rub of Beja, nine inches away) and rolling for positioning he rolled a 2, so directly in front of the Bazingers! Gulp!


The 1/66th Foot continuing the Imperial advance...


Which saw a unit of Mahdist rifles appear off to their left.


Whilst the 2/66th Foot advanced only to have a Rub of Beja appear behind them!!!


Fortunately for the Berks this was next to the 15th Sikhs who opened fire on the Mahdists killing two!


The 92nd Highlanders advanced and saw a Kordofan Rub appear from the desert at long rifle range to their right...


The Bengal Lancers moved forward...


And a unit of Beja rifles appeared out of the dust.


And as the Naval Brigade moved forward...


A unit of Dervish camel mounted cavalry appeared across the table at long rifle range (yes the unit is two over strength, the excess figures rode off after the photo was taken!)


As the Imperial Forces turn ended, the seemingly empty desert had suddenly become full of the enemy!


So how would the Dervishes react? The unit of native rifles nearest the Bengal Lancers opened fire, plucking one lancer from saddle.


The Beja who had appeared behind the Imperial line attacked the Sikhs...


With a cry of "Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal!" the Ludhiana Sikhs put the attacking natives to the bayonet killing half and Pinning them!


Amusingly the usually vicious stabby Beja who had appeared within charge range of somewhat less martial Bazingers decided to 'slink away' after George rolled a 1 on the Native Action table. :D


The next turn saw the 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders advance only for a Rub of Kordofan to appear a short range rifle fire distance...


And responding to the 2/66th Foot advancing the Beja who had just slinked off re-appeared albeit at long range fire distance...


The Sikhs opened fire on the remaining Dervishes behind the British front line but didn't quite manage to polish them off...


Back to the Native reaction table and the Camel cavalry advanced towards the British line...


Whilst the Rub of Kordofan who had just appeared in front of the Highlanders showed more spirit than the Beja and charged in!


Spears stabbed, bayonets flashed and kilts twirled! Eight of the Kordofan fell dead to British steel but after the stramash nine of the Highlanders lay in the sands of the Sudan...


Unsurprisingly the 92nd failed their Pinning test.


Elsewhere another Rub of Kordofan charged forward this time into the 2/66th!


With five men of Berkshire falling to the native spears, inflicting just three casualties on their foes.


The 2/66th were pushed back and also failed their Pinning test.


After a round of rather ineffective British fire and some mixed results trying to unpin units it was time again to see what the Mahdists would do...

The Camel riders attempted to charge the Bengal Lancers but came up short...


And the Rub of Beja who had returned after slinking off, decided to slink off again... George was not impressed!


The next Imperial turn saw the Bengal Lancers charge the Kordofan who had so grievously blooded the 92nd Highlanders...


Two cavalry were unhorsed but five Dervishes fell to the bamboo lances....


The Bengalis followed up their initial successful charge...


Wiping out the Kordofan Rub!


The next native turn saw the nearby Beja rifles decide to slink off rather than shoot at the Lancers...


And the Camelry's second attempt to charge the Indians came up short again.... just!


The Kordofan Rub who had attacked the 2/66th went in again...


Once again causing more casualties than those they took. This time though the British saved their Pinning test.


Inspired by the Kordofan Rubs bravery, the Dervish rifles to the front of the 1/66th decided to charge the men in khaki rather than shoot from the safety of the hill!


Whereas the Kordofan and Beja Rubs only need a 4, 5 or 6 to inflict a casualty the Irregular Rifles need a 6. The Gods of War(gaming) however smiled on their reckless bravery and they killed four of the 1/66th!


Whilst the British only inflicted four casualties themselves on their attackers, as the combat was drawn the recklessly brave natives fell back...


Their turn again the Imperials charged the outnumbered Bengal Lancers into the enemy Camels!


The Gods of War(gaming) were obviously favouring brave forlorn charges tonight...


And whilst three of the Lancers fell, seven of the enemy cavalry were skewered by the bamboo lances from Bengal!


Unsurprisingly the remaining Beja rider failed his Pinning test.


Meanwhile a new unit of Beja who had arrived the previous turn charged in on the surviving 92nd...


And despite a valiant stand the remaining Scotsmen were killed...


The Imperial turn once again, the sole remaining Lancer charged the sole remaining Beja camel rider...


Killing him.


Which was rather a silly thing to have done as wiped out units can return as reinforcements and if George had rolled a 6 the camels would have been back at full strength at charge distance from the sole Bengal Lancer! 

Fortunately he didn't but the possibility still existed they might turn up subsequently...

The remaining 2/66th fired at the surviving four Kordofan to their front killing them...


And the 1/66th polished off the native rifles who had so impetuously charged them!


With the desert empty to their front the Bazingers advanced towards the Mahdi's secret meeting place. Would an enemy unit appear out of the sand to confront them? George rolled a 1, so no...


Lieutenant McGregor, (to be played by Gary Cooper in the film when it will be made in fifty odd years time), the sole survivor of the Bengal Lancers, spurred mount towards the Madhist rendezvous point as well. Would he be intercepted en route? No, George rolled another 1!


The Naval Brigade fired a volley at the Beja Rub who had killed the Highlanders, almost wiping them out in one round of Martini-Henry fire!


The Bazingers advanced again. George rolled another 1! Still no enemy appear. Who will stop them reaching the Mahdi?


The Naval Brigade fixed cutlasses and charged the surviving Beja...


Wiping the remnants of the Rub out...


Lieutenant McGregor puts on a burst of speed and reaches the Mahdi and Osman Digna...


At last! Dervishes appear as George manages to roll something other than a 1...


But in vain. Lieutenant McGregor attacks the enemy leadership and whilst he falls to Osman Digna's sword, he kills both of the Madhist leaders, ending the rebellion and saving 'Chinese' Gordon. 

A posthumous Victoria Cross will undoubtedly be awarded and his name live on evermore...


That was a lot of fun. The Babbage Engine provides a really good game and at some stage we will have to try it with all the players on the Imperial side. We are giving some thought to using it in regular games to decide where natives units appear and what type turn up. I think using the reaction table for failed command roles may be fun too with units possibly slinking off or recklessly charging...