Monday, 8 October 2018

Late WWII British

Just to even things up, you understand. Actually these are minis I've wanted to have a crack at since I woz a Nipper. The green shows up lighter in these piccies but I did find it hard to get that shade of British green for the 25 pounder. Dunno why. Life's too short to be really all that bothered! Again, all figures are metal by Warlord Games.

Vickers "medium" machine gun

 The classic 25-Pounder ready to dent some German armour

Paratroopers because why-ever not?

These rank high up there as being very rewarding to paint. 
The grenade-throwing poses are a bit awkward but the rest of them fit the bill rather nicely. As with the gebirgsjager these boys will "count as" regular infantry for game purposes 
(for now - might just build an airborne list now I see these chaps in the flesh)
Late WWII German reinforcements

Back after a long hiatus! I took a break from painting and SP2 for a while. Recharged the old batteries etc (code for "work was nuts!!"). Whilst on a long ramble in beautiful East Lothian, a sudden urge to tidy up the WW2 collections descended. So we could enjoy a full game of Chain of Command and try a few options. It's a game that's grown on me after a few brilliantly close-run games. I hope to work out a way of writing these up without using the entire internet's storage capacity.

All the minis are metal Warlord Games. Some great sculpts, some urrrmmm sculpts. All actually quite easy to paint up and look decent once finished.

First up - what list is complete without an MG42 team?

Support - LeIG18 light artillery for a bit of HE oooomph

A sniper, flamethrower, panzerschrek and NCO

 Tried the Army Painter dip method on the NCO. Totally underwhelmed, I am afraid. Firstly, I can paint and wash with GW washes just as quick and to a better standard. Secondly, he looked a right old mess. But I did drop him on tarmac and not a chip in sight! Ho-hum. 
I'll give it one more try with a thinner solution.

Gebirgsjager - because why not?

These chaps caught my eye and were great to paint - simple but effective. I just didn't want any more Heer. These guys can "count as" normal grenadiers if needed. You need three basic squads for CoC with a light machine gun in each. They took to the field in the latest game and sadly didn't quite make it much beyond advancing into a crossfire in round 1. Pesky Brits ...

Friday, 20 July 2018

Rumblings amidst Bad Gutrot

Rumblings amidst Bad Gutrot

A long overdue return to 1809 and the misadventures of Scheittekatte and Volte-Face. This time, Volte-Face was back on the offensive, attempting to seize a strategic defensive point at Bad Gutrot, just outside Gross Lardsdorf. In this scenario, the attackers (French) were allowed a few extra support options and chose an extra leader, upgraded some other leaders, beefed-up the

line units and added a musician to the host. The Austrians received fewer supports but bagged an extra NCO for the skirmishers plus their new artillery. Both sides had an extra deployment point and we expanded the deployment distances to speed up the first few turns as it will be a large game.

                                          Scheittekatte                                       Volte-Face

Austrian Force:

German Fusiliers x3 (24)
Leader Level III (Colonel Scheittekatte) #1
Leader Level I (Sergeant Fahrt) #2
Hungarian Grenadiers x2 (16)
Leader Level II (Captain Hamsarni) #3
Leader Level I (Corporal Fekit) #4
Grenzer Skirmishers x2 (12)
Leader Level II (Lieutenant Longabuscu) #5
Leader Level I (Corporal Curlicu) #6
Artillery = medium gun
Leader Level I (Zitspoppen) #7
Secondary DP

French Force:

Line Fusiliers x3 (24)
Leader Level IV [Major Volte-Face] #1
Leader Level I [Sergeant L’Excraimont] #2
Light Infantry Chasseur in Line x3 (24)
Leader Level III [Captain Cliché) #3
Leader Level I [Sergeant Rallier ] #4
Voltigeur Skirmishers x2 (12)
Leader Level II [Captain Blasé] #5
Leader Level I [Corporal Jean Biche] #7
Heavy Artillery
Leader Level I [Sergeant Flatulento] #6
Additional Canister
Secondary DP

Preamble and musings of the madcap commanders:

I plan to hunker down behind the "redoubt" (destroyed farmhouse) with the Grenadiers and Fusiliers. The mighty Zitspoppen will stand all macho on top of a hill to rake the advancing French with canister or whatever we Austrians use instead of canister. That leaves the Grenzer free to scoot about harassing the Crapauds, with one eye on capturing a deployment point if possible. Form line! Find a wall! Hide!

This looks a tough mission to me. We have a bit of cover leading up to the "redoubt" but ol' Sheittekatte will no doubt dig a big hole behind hard cover and blast away. Ehu! La patrie! I'll deploy in the centre with the Italian cannon. Cliche and Blase will take the flank. If we can get around the side for a flank attack, we might just sneak a win here.

The battlefield before deployment - laptop in middle of another interminable Windows update at just the wrong moment

Phase 1 - deployment and early rounds

Flatulento's cannon was first to deploy, "limbered" (we must get some animals for that), followed by Longabuscu's Grenzer who gambled on a quick advance to capture a deployment point as their chip came out either side of "Tiffin". This backfired spectacularly as Cliche's Fusiliers immediately entered the fray from DP#2, marched forward and loosed a destructive first-fire volley that the Grenzer never really recovered from (below).

The wily Volte-Face lined up his Fusiliers and Blase's Voltigeurs in the centre of the board, preparing for a direct approach towards the Austrian defensive positions. Over the next couple of rounds, Scheittekatte brought his force onto the field and settled down to defend the farmhouse with Zitspoppen's artillery commanding a nearby hill. Admittedly, the Austrian Fusiliers (on the left flank in the first picture below) stood a bit awkwardly with one group in the open, but Scheittekatte's force looked well set for the battle ahead.

View from the French side of the table. Laptop still upgrading Windows without permission.

Phase 2: The Grenzer are shattered whilst a firefight breaks out in the centre
Regrettably for Scheittekatte, the Grenzer were now hanging out in the breeze, facing the unusually effective Clichy to the front whilst Blase's Voltiguers danced around and loosed a flank-shot which piled on the shock and casualties. Longabuscu took the opportunity to withdraw his Grenzer down the stream towards the edge of the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Volte-Face urged his Fusiliers to the hedgerow opposite Hamsarni's Hungarian Grenadiers. The mustaches levelled their muskets, presented arms and prepared to fire one of their legendary controlled volleys.

Back to the flank (below). Blase and Cliche continued to persecute poor Longabuscu and the Grenzer. The sharp crack of the Voltiguers' muskets added to the pressure and the Grenzer were close to capitulating. One group was forced to withdraw. It was another of those classic Sharp Practice moments: whose chip would come out first? The Grenzer could skip away to safety and regroup but if Cliche's chip came up first, then Longabscu's skirmishers faced annihilation.

Annihilation it was to be. Cliche's chip came up immediately. He swung his Fusiliers around to deliver a devastating (if uncontrolled volley) that left only 1 skirmisher and the NCO in one group. The other had four surviving skirmishers but they were close to breaking owing to excess shock.

As the next picture below shows, the bigger group of Grenzer took the next opportunity to hop over the hedge and leg it to avoid a fate equal to death. As they activated on a "flag" this left Longabuscu to guddle in the stream all by his lonesome self, something of a sitting duck, if not quite a dead duck (yet). Longabuscu was heard to mumble something sarcastic in Transylvanian, along the lines of "cheers boys, appreciate it" as his troops headed off through the undergrowth leaving him to dodge the bullets of an entire volley.

Cliche gave the order to fire with a touch of regret, after all the Grenzer were brave adversaries and the officer/NCO were freshly painted ... but as you can see below, they were wiped out (apart from those who had snuck over the hedge!) With a theatrical twirl, Longabuscu fell face down in the stream and gurgled his last. First outing - and dead. Typical. His new NCO (Curlicu) was wounded and lost a level, so he was now Level 0 and therefore unable to do anything without using command cards. The Grenzer were out of the fight and the battle swung decisively to the French.

Next round and back to the centre where Volte-Face's Fusiliers clambered painfully over a large hedge to begin the galling task of advancing on the "presented" Grenadiers. The Fusiliers gave a lusty "vive l'empereur", got their undercarriages caught in the spiky hedge and performed an underwhelming 1" charge which fell short of the Grenadiers by a country mile. Trying not to snigger, Blase's skirmishers tried their luck against the Austrian Fusiliers but with little effect this time owing to the tears of laughter rolling down their faces at Volte-Face's misfortune.

Volte-Face delivers an impassioned speech from astride his charger "Dandelion" which serves to confuse his men and forces them to move very, very, very slowly towards the enemy. Not quite the plan?


A quick check on the Force Morale - and the Austrians' morale has already plummeted from 11 to 6 thanks to the Grenzer-tastrophe on the flank.

Phase 3: The French launch their assault on the "redoubt".
With the Grenzer dealt with, the French turned their attentions to the centre. But the Austrians were not beaten yet. Again, the initiative swung back as the Austrian chips tumbled out of the bag in a handy sequence. I really do love this element of Sharp Practice as it seems to reflect a realistic change in momentum and you just never quite know what will happen next. First, the Grenadiers battered Volte-Face's Fusiliers. Then Zitspoppen raked the same Fusiliers with canister. Then Scheittekatte's Fusiliers peppered the Fusiliers and Blase's Voltiguers. Volte-Face's Fusiliers suffered some casualties but the shock was stacking up and they were going nowhere. Blase's men, meanwhile, despite being classed as hiding in heavy cover, suffered several casualties which reduced their effectiveness. Calamity! Corporal Biche was knocked unconscious and spent the rest of the battle dreaming of home on a soft pillow of grass as musket balls whizzed overhead.

Biche falls into a deep sleep. He received the wrong orders and came dressed as an Austrian jaeger for the day. Maybe that's why he lay down at this point?

Volte-Face ordered a counter-volley which did some damage to the Grenadiers thanks to some (p)lucky rolling (below).

Meanwhile, just over Volte-Face's left shoulder, there came the unmistakable patter of an excited Italian artillery commander exhorting his crew to level their piece at the Austrian cannon on the hill. Boom. To everyone's surprise, Flatulento's aim was true, shocking the Austrians.

By now, Volte-Face's Fusiliers had decided to hop back over the hedge to avoid being crushed between the Austrian infantry and the cannon on the hill. Zitspoppen's cannon roared once more (below) causing one group of Fusiliers to withdraw. A piece of shrapnel hit Volte-Face who was attached to the group - thankfully for the French he was merely wounded (yet again!) He lost a level of command and added another scar to his collection from this campaign, but he was still in control.

Scheittekatte's Grenadiers and Fusiliers then warmed to the task, adding further chaos to the French ranks. Cliche had sent his NCO, the suitably named "Rallier", off towards the other formations to help rally shock. He walked into a wall of lead and was immediately knocked unconscious. He drifted off into a blissful sleep in the arms of Biche. With two NCOs out of the battle, the task of rallying shock was now harder for the French.

Asleep on the job? The French NCOs curl up under the shelter of a helpful wall. 

Below: Schiettekatte's Fusiliers are now firing uncontrollably and the commander can't get them to do anything else! Volte-Face's Fusiliers were hit again, causing another withdrawal and a loss of morale. Beneath that, a shot of the battlefield at this point with Cliche's Fusiliers in the distance, turning slowly towards the centre of struggle.

 French Morale down to 8 - not so easy after all!

 Flatulento continues to gesticulate monstrously and his cannon persistently aims at the Austrian artillery with good effect.

Phase 4: the final stages
If phase 3 belonged to the Austrians, the tide turned once again in the blink of an eye (well, after a leisurely pot of tea on the patio actually). Like a very determined sloth, Cliche had spent several turns manoeuvring his Fusiliers around the flank of the Austrian line an inch at a time (how many 1s can be rolled for movement in a row? Answer: at least 5). Bad things were about to happen ...

The nearest Austrian Fusilier group, out in the open was mauled badly (above). But in true narrative fashion, this shooting had fouled the barrels of Cliche's muskets. The fact that they were standing in a stream was a handy coincidence ...

Cliche then deftly pocketed 4 flags and grabbed a bonus activation. Another volley - even with unwashed soiled muskets - was followed by a charge (no photo. Lost in the carnage, sorry) which all but obliterated two groups of the Austrian Fusiliers. There they are below, riding off the cliff at the back of the board with the hapless Scheittekatte in tow.

The Austrian morale dropped rapidly, so they lost several Command Cards. The battle was rushing to a conclusion. Cliche and Blase blazed away at the remaining Fusiliers and Grenadiers, causing the former to withdraw several times until they fled the scene. That was pretty much game over.

Well not quite. I believe the Austrian morale was on "2" but they plugged away. The Grenadiers caused yet more shock and casualties on Volte-Face's Fusiliers, even at long range.

Note anything unusual about the picture below? Yup. He's back from the dead. An officer was promoted from the Grenzer ranks. Damn! Now I'll need to give him a name ...

Buoyed by the emergence of a new leader, the 3 Grenzer then shot and killed two of Cliche's men (below). Then Cliche's chit came up. Time for the coup de grace ... and the customary abysmal roll (not unique to this battle, nor indeed this blog) meant that the Austrians lived to fight on.

Then a random firing event led to an impromptu Grenzer charge towards Cliche's exposed rear-end. They couldn't do it, could they?

Nope. Cliche grabbed another 4 command cards, a bonus activation and this time the volley forced two Fusilier groups and alte Scheittekatte to head for the hills. They rolled enough drop in morale to end the battle twice over!

 Cliche's moment in the sun. Oh, stop it ...

 The centre at the end of the battle

 The shady French right flank

Flatulento. Excited as usual.

 Volte-Face. Victorious. And not quite sure how to celebrate, so opts for continuing to wave his hat.

 Scheittekatte lopes off in search of a deep-fried mars bar

Grenadiers. Wishing they had a better team to play for.


Volte-Face: (needing a snooze to ease the emotional fatigue of winning at last)
We won? We won! Fantastique! Wunderbar! Praise be to the cult of the supreme being. For once, I am indebted to Cliche who pretty much won this single-handedly. He rolled up the Grenzer, Fusiliers and had a crack at the Grenadiers. Bravo, and a welcome return to form. About time, to be honest. I had been thinking about shooting him because of his recent dire record. My personal advance up the middle was brave but could have ended in disaster. I suppose it drew the fire of the Austrian infantry and we managed to get away without too much damage to morale. That's it - it was a ruse! Yes, a tactical ruse to distract the enemy whilst Cliche advanced. Write that in the report to Paris. It sounds brilliant. Then again, I must remember not to march my Fusiliers into a kill-zone whilst simultaneously blocking my cannon's line of fire. Don't record that bit. Still, it allowed Flatulento to jump around in a frenzy and blaze away at the shiny new Austrian cannon on the hill so he was kept very happy for a few hours. Overall, another cracking game played with an excellent sense of honour and fun. Till the next time ...

Scheittekatte: (quietly weeping into a bread-and-butter pudding)
Ha my boy, what a ding-dong of a prize-fight! Two heavyweights slugging it out, toe-to-toe, eye-to-eye, pound-for-pound. My troops are heroes to the last man. As planned, we bought the whole Austrian army time to prepare themselves for the main battle and then withdrew in good order. What do you mean that you can't record that? You say we threw away the advantage of supreme defensive positions? Well I disagree with those comments - most unfair and typical of a bourgeois mentality. No, no my boy. Let me explain in terms that one as dimwitted as yourself can understand. Linear tactics have been proven to work. And linear tactics dictated that we deployed as we did, with the Grenzer thrown ahead to stem the tide. It was a textbook deployment and one that I shall add to my memoirs,"A fracas over breakfast - the 1809 campaign around Gross Lardsdorf - wherein I offer an eyewitness description of the key meals and local delicacies that I encountered, interspersed with accounts of my bravery and genius as a wartime commander, as well as the inadequacies of my subordinates" (working title). Longabuscu (RIP) was foolish not to fire first with his Grenzer and he should have charged rather than running away. I gave him the reasonable order to run fast and capture their deployment point. We had the hard part of crouching behind a wall and shooting at stuff. Longabuscu's abject failure, so typical of an undisciplined border unit I might add, left my brave Fusiliers with their flank exposed whilst they continued to deliver 5 rounds a minute into the hedgerows and walls ahead of them. So unpack me a cream bun and brush down the horse whilst I dictate the report to HQ. Until next time, I dip my hat at Volte-Face and swear we shall have revenge. That's spelled r-e-w-e-n-j-e, by the way.