Sunday, November 14, 2021

Maxing Out

With the lawn gaming season in the Pacific Northwest over, we've been looking at other venues for games. Eventually we'll figure out some indoor venues or stores to play at, but this time we found a place in Kevin's garage. 


Today’s game was part of the Second French Intervention in Mexico to establish Maximilian von Habsburg as the Emperor of Mexico. The Imperial forces were pursuing Republican forces and had taken control of a small town. The Imperial commander decided to dig in and wait for reinforcements before pursuing the Mexican Republican forces. Meanwhile, the Republican troops had fallen back, and the leaders called out the local militia to help remove the Imperialist from the town. We used the Rebels and Patriots rules for the game. 

Imperialist forces occupying the town

I controlled two Republican light cavalry units – one mounted rifles (good shooters in the rules) and the other armed with lances. Bill had three Republican regular units and a medium artillery piece, while Michael ran four militia units. Facing off against us was David (with three Imperial infantry groups, a light cavalry unit and a medium gun) and Eric (with a couple French infantry units, an Austrian light cavalry unit, and a medium gun). One of David’s infantry units had to start in the redoubt, while the others could set up within 6 inches. Eric’s forces were entering from the town edge. The Republican forces got to set up 12 inches from our side of the table. 


There were big victory points for the side that controlled the town, but that seemed like it may be too tough for our forces. So, we decided to focus on taking the redoubt and eliminating the Imperial forces. We planned to use the regulars to pin down and attack the redoubt, while the cavalry and militia swept around the edges to block any escape or reinforcements. 

Imperialist redoubt and supporting troops

Luckily, we (the Republic) rolled for initiative to start the game and used the first couple turns the decimate David’s units, including his gun, that were in the open on the right side of the hill. On the other side of the hill, his other infantry and cavalry fell back as the militias tried to move up, leaving the one infantry unit in the redoubt. 

Militia advances on the left and the Imperialist fall back

Republican regulars advance on the right

The Imperial reinforcements moved down the road as fast as they could, but they were still far away from being able to help. 

Imperialist reinforcements

I positioned my cavalry to slow the advance of the reinforcements and the Republican infantry closed with the redoubt. The Republican militia kept pressing forward (as best they could) and even forced the Imperial light cavalry to retreat off the battlefield due to a failed morale check. 

My cavalry deploys to delay the Imperialist

Bill's regulars closing in on the redoubt

The Imperial reinforcements began deploying to advance on the redoubt and hold off the militia, while the Republican regulars assaulted the redoubt. 

Imperialist troops deploying

Republican regulars assaulting the redoubt

The assault was repulsed, but the attack left only a couple defenders in the redoubt. 

The last holdouts in the redoubt

As the Imperial reinforcements prepared to advance, I took a chance and charged with my lancers. We don’t usually have a lot of melees in Rebel and Patriots, so it took a little while to go through the results and we still missed some things. After sorting things out, the lancers prevailed in the attack and pushed the French back. Unfortunately, the lancers were rated as aggressive and followed up the success with another charge that did not go so well. 

Charge of the lancers

The final two redoubt defenders were taken out by Bill’s regulars (with some good shooting die rolls), leaving the redoubt open for the regulars to march in. 

A mere matter of marching to take the redoubt

With the redoubt taken and most of the Republican forces in decent shape (my cavalry was spent or had retreated by this time), the Imperialist decided to just hold the town. At this point we ended the game and added up the victory points with the Republican forces coming out on top. Viva Mexico! Viva Juarez! 


It was a fun game and there were some good stories to tell from the game too (my lancers wounded the leader of the Imperial reinforcements during their fatal charge). It is a period I don’t know a lot about, but that has some colorful and unusual units (the Imperial reinforcement cavalry was Austrian hussars). Kevin has promised to do run some more games from the period, since he and others have lots of figures for the era.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Black Sea Soviets

The next additions for my ongoing Black Sea/Baltic Sea project are some Soviet ships from the Warlord Games Soviet Navy Fleet box set. The box has one Fugas (Project 3, 53, 53-U, and 58) class minesweeper, a pair of Project 1124 Bronekater river gunboats, a pair of MO-4 patrol boats, and eight motor torpedoes boats. I started off with the larger vessels and will finish the MTBs later. 

Soviet Coastal Flotilla

Starting with the big ship in the group - the Fugas class minesweeper. The Fugas class served in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and Pacific. There were 15 in the Black Sea, 20 in the Baltic, and 8 in the Pacific. They were used as minesweepers, minelayers, escorts, and to support amphibious operations. So this will be a useful ship for my Black Sea/Baltic Sea games.

Fugas class, starboard side view

The Warlord model comes armed with 100mm gun forward, a 45mm gun aft, and a pair of heavy machine guns on the open bridge wings. This seems to be an early war fit, since more anti-aircraft guns were added later as the threat from enemy aircraft increased. The Warlord kit comes with a resin hull, along with separate metals parts for the bridge are, funnel, life boats, masts, and weapons. The hull was a little bent, but I was able to heat it in warm water and flatten it out. The rest of the pieces went together fairly easily, although it was hard to maintain the shape of the lifeboat davits. For painting I went with a darker gray for the hull and a brick color deck. I wanted the ship to look like it had seen a lot of work with little up-keep. So I did a lot of heavy weathering, but I may have gone a bit 'overboard.'

Fugas class, port side view

Next up the river gunboats, also know as armored gunboats. Warlord refers to these as Pr1125, but I think the gunboats with two turrets are really Project 1124 class. So I'm going with that. The river gunboats mostly provided gunfire support from the larger rivers, but they were also did those tasks in support of amphibious landings in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea.  

Project 1124, port side view

The Project 1124 gunboat was armed with two T-34 turrets (with 76mm guns) and a twin heavy machine gun turret. Warlord also makes a variation of this class with a Katyusha rocket launcher. The models are metal, with the hull and three turrets coming as separate pieces. There is also a mast, but I found it to be pretty flimsy, so I left it off. I don't think it detracts from the overall appearance.

Project 1124, starboard side

Finally, the MO-4 patrol boats. There were around 250 of these boats built during World War II and they served on all fronts. They were designed as submarine chasers, but were used as a jack of all trades. The class lacked armor, making it vulnerable to even small arms fire. In 1943 the class was modified to add armor to protect the engines and bridge, giving it the designation BMO class.

MO-4 patrol boat, starboard side view

The class was armed with two 45mm guns and two heavy machine guns. Later in the war one of the 45mm guns was replaced with a 37mm gun for better anti-aircraft protection. Additionally, there lots of local modifications to the weapons fits, such as adding rocket launchers to support ground attacks. The Warlord model has a resin hull, with the gun mounts and mast as separate pieces. The model goes together well. The only issue I had was fitting the three aft guns into the small space (you can see from the photos that I angled the HMGs instead of having them point out perpendicular from the hull). 

MO-4 from the port side

One thing I've noticed is that the more work on the 1/300 scale ships, the more I find that I like the crew figures. They really do make the ships seem more alive. I only wish the Warlord figures were a little better and had more options. I'm planning to look around at some Heroics and Ros and GHQ 1/300 figures to fill out the ships some in the future.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Naval Battle off Tangier

On Saturday the lawn gaming group got together for a little pre-dreadnought action using the Fire When Ready rules (with some modifications to make the crusiers last a little longer). The scenario was Battle of Tangier (Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead) from the Admiralty Trilogy Monroe's Legacy scenario book, with some slight alterations for available ships. The scenario is a hypothetical action where the Perdicaris Affair turns into a battle. It pits the Spanish (with the battleship Pelayo, a couple armored cruisers, and some other cruisers) and French (3 battleships and an armored cruiser) against 3 American squadrons (2 groups of armored/protect cruisers, one with some gunboats, and the last with 3 battleships and an armored cruiser). The initial set up placed the Spanish facing off against one American squadron near Tangier, while the remaining ships were entering from the board edges. The forces were pretty even. The victory conditions were basically to do more damage to the enemy than your forces took. Although the Spanish had a bonus victory condition where they wanted to sink the American cruiser Olympia as revenge for the Battle of Manila Bay. There was also a special rule that the Americans could not fire on the French until the French had fired on an American ship. With the ships in place and a quick review of the rules, we were ready to start.

The Americans (near force) face off against the Spanish near Tangier

The game started with the Americans and Spanish blasting away at each other (including starting a raging fire on Spanish cruiser), while the other squadrons moved onto the board. 

Spanish under fire

French entering the area

American battleships entering

The French  took advantage of the scenario special rule to fire on the American battleships without taking return fire. The initial shots were on target and started fires on battleship Kearsarge and armored cruiser Washington.

American battleship force under fire
The Americans did get to return fire later, hitting the battleships Jena and Charlemagne - starting a fire on Charlemagne. There were a lot of fire special hits rolled during the game, so you will see lots of flames on the table.
French battleships taking damage

The smaller Spanish cruisers and American gunboats were soon taken out of action. The Spanish also attacked the third American cruiser group, composed of the cruisers Olympia, Baltimore, and Cleveland. The Spanish focused gunfire on Olympia, doing some damage and starting a fire.

Olympia on fire
The French continued moving toward the center of the table and became the focus of fire from most of the American ships. But the damage was not one-sided. French gunfire added more damage to the American battleships and combined French and Spanish fire disabled Olympia, Baltimore, and Cleveland.
French ship moving into the middle of the action

American battleships keeping their distance, but still taking hits

The above photo shows the American armored cruiser Washington falling out of line and on fire. Washington was hit by the first French fire; the crew couldn't put out the fire or repair a steam line rupture special hit, so the ship couldn't keep up. 

The American armored cruiser Brooklyn tried to make a run for the board edge, but was caught in the middle of the French and Spanish forces and sunk.

Brooklyn (right front) trying to get away

At this point we decided to end the game. The Spanish had lost 4 out of 7 ships and the battleship Pelayo was heavily damaged. 2 French battleships were moderately damaged (and on fire) while the other battleship and armored cruiser had light damage. The Americans lost their gunboats and cruisers, but the battleships were still in good shape. Looking at all the damage, we called the scenario a draw, although the Spanish got a morale victory since the cruiser Olympia was sunk.

With fall here in the Pacific Northwest, this may be the last lawn game of the year. If this is our last 2021 outdoor game, it was a good one.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

More Desert Tankers

The U.S. Labor Day long weekend has arrived. I had mention in a previous blog post that the NHMGS Enfilade miniature gaming convention had been shifted to Labor Day weekend. Enfilade is normally one of the big yearly events for me (as you can see in these older posts) and usually I would have been busy preparing games and off to the convention. But this year some health issues have kept me away from the convention. So instead I invited some fellow misanthropes (okay, not really, they were just guys who couldn't make it to Enfilade either) over for a What a Tanker in the desert game.

This time around we were using tanks from around the time of the Gazala battles. The British started out with a Grant, Honey, and Crusader II.  

It's a Honey

A Grant on the lookout for the Germans

The German side started with a Panzer IV F1 with the short-barreled 75mm gun and a Panzer III H. I was on the German side and we added another Panzer III after a couple turns to balance the sides. 

The Panzer IV watching for the enemy

My Panzer III looking to make a flank run

The terrain had hills, rocky outcrops, and some scrub brush. So there were places to hide (although maybe not enough) and that blocked line of sight. 

An aerial view of some of the terrain
The Panzer IV was a little more exposed. It took hits that reduced its command dice and was eventually abandoned by its crew. I was trying to move up on the British without exposing myself too much, but that wasn't helping the Panzer IV. 
Hiding behind a short hill
After losing the Panzer IV, we brought on a Semovente 75. Initially it shrugged off the British shots, but one set of bad die rolls let to a quick kill on the SP gun. That gave the Axis side two tank losses to none for the British.
The Semovente arrives, with the abandon Panzer IV in the background

And good-bye Semovente
The second Panzer III had been hiding out in the scrub, using it for cover. It was finally able to draw a good bead on the Crusader and destroy it.
Panzer Bush

Scratch one Crusader

The British replaced their loss with another Crusader and the Axis brought in an Italian M13/40. Overall, things were still looking good for the British.

The three British tanks in good positions. You can just make out the M13/40 in the upper right (near the burning Semovente)

I decided to push forward, hoping the other tanks could cover me. This would put my Panzer III into direct confrontation with the Grant. Meanwhile, the Honey tried to move around my flank. Over the next couple of turns both sides would get hits, but the target rolled for saves against the hits. Then the M13/40 got around on the Honey's flank and blew it up. My dice got hot and I did the same to the Grant. 

Good-bye Grant

At this point we decided to end the game with the Axis getting a slight win. 

While this didn't really make up for missing Enfilade, it was a fun time. It also gave me a chance to play with my new What a Tanker dashboards from Dark Ops.

I did mine up in desert colors to fit my tanks. I still have a few more to put together and may vary the scheme a bit.

On a side note, you can see some photos from Enfilade (along with the normal posts of Dean's nicely painted miniatures) over at the WAB Corner blog.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Back to the Narrow Seas

I'm still trying to take advantage of the good weather for some outdoor lawn gaming. On Saturday a small group of us had the chance to get together to play a coastal forces action. We used David Manley's Narrow Seas rules (available on Wargame Vault) with the 1/300 scale ships (from Warlord Games Cruel Seas line). This gave me a chance to get my Kriegsfischkutters (KFKs) and Räumbootes (R-boats) on the table. On the other side were Bill's six Vosper Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs).  

Bill's nicely painted 73' Vospers (with 4 torpedo tubes) and 72.5' Vospers
The scenario was a basic convoy attack by the six British MTBs. The convoy had three small merchants escorted by two KFKs and two R-boats.
British target for tonight
I was the only person that had played the rules before, so things started out a little slow as the players got their sea legs. We used the spotting rules, but didn't hide the ships at the start of the game (that will change your playing experience, but I like having the miniatures out at the start). Once the British spotted the merchants, they increased speed and began launching torpedoes.
The Vosper launches torpedoes (this is after the boat movement, but before torpedo movement)
The convoy began to take evasive action, while the escorts moved to engage the MTBs.
Merchants trying to comb the torpedo wake

Torpedo hit!

The Royal Navy had some success early on, getting a torpedo hit on a merchant (stopping it dead in the water, but not sinking it) and a bridge hit on an R-boot that would force it to head off the map. 

The MTBs enjoying their early success
But then things went a little cold for them. The German merchants continued to maneuver to dodge torpedoes and move around the damaged merchant. 

Merchants maneuvering

The little KFKs then got into action and started to make an impact with their 37mm guns and, in a lucky case, ramming and sinking an MTB.

a KFK blasting away at an MTB

Once their torpedoes were gone, the MTBs broke off the action. With the sides disengaged, we looked at the damage done. Most of the MTBs and escorts had taken some damage. The Germans had one merchant wrecked and dead in the water and the British lost three MTBs. So we gave the Germans the edge in the battle.

Everyone seemed to have a good time and liked how the rules played out. I expect we'll see more coastal force actions in the future.