My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Infantry Aces Cassino Game 03

This report is of my Game 3 of our Infantry Aces Cassino campaign. As it was Turn 1 still, the forces are at 500 points. It was also the first time I played a new player in our area, John.

My list was the same as in Game 2, which is reproduced here:
  • Company HQ with CiC and 2iC and no options
  • Two Platoons of 3 Squads of Reichsgrenadiers each and no options
  • HMG Platoon of 2 Sections
  • Panzer II Turret
  • Two HMG Nests
  • Three Trench sections
My opponent used the 3rd Infantry Division list from Dogs and Devils, but had a slightly different composition with two Rifle Platoons and an 81mm Mortar Platoon.

This mission was Fighting Withdrawal, which meant that starting on turn three I could start losing units, as they retreated off of the board, and the objectives would start being pulled off on turn 6, and the game ending at the end of turn 8.

Setup


The Americans are at the bottom of the map and the Germans at the top. In the south the only terrain that played a role in the game was the river. This was ruled as Very Difficult, with a ford as Difficult, and units could "dig in" (representing them hugging the banks of the river). (Hey, I did not define the terrain here, so don't blame me.) In the north the terrain that played a role was the village on a hill on the west side and a single, two-story house on the east side. Although there was a hill on the east side and four orchards in the center of the southern half, they never came into play.

The objectives were in the northwestern village (two, one forward and west, one back and center) and behind the two-story farmhouse in the east. This setup made the two objectives to the west the most likely targets, so I stationed a platoon of Grenadiers in the village with the HMG platoon behind. In hindsight I probably should have setup those two platoons intermixed, with the Grenadiers on the bottom floor and an HMG team on the top floor of each building.

A turret guarded the center building, ensuring the Americans would have to go through it in order to get to the second objective. Further, if they tried to double-envelope the second objective they would hit an HMG nest and part of the second Grenadier platoon.

The eastern objective was guarded by the last HMG nest and the majority of the second Grenadier platoon. The trenches were all in this section, around the area of the objective. (Guess which objective I placed?)

Initial American Attack

The Americans started by bombarding the village, pinning the Grenadiers, and moving the first Rifle platoon forward to assault. The second platoon (in the center) moved forward to assault the turret, but was quickly repulsed. Immediately following, the first platoon prepared to assault, but were pinned in an unfortunate burst from the Grenadiers (and an HMG or two). The second platoon recovered first and diverted around the turret to attack the first house in the village from the flank, taking it, but being repulsed by the counter-attacking Grenadiers from the surrounding houses. (Miraculous rolls on my part. I usually botch the Motivation checks in assault.) With the casualties from the first failed assault against the turret, the defensive fire from the Grenadiers, and the counter-attack, the second platoon had had enough and quit the field.


The German Counter-Attack

When the center American platoon diverted to attacking the village, I pushed my eastern Grenadier platoon towards the flank of the Americans in order to blunt and stall their attack. Although the Germans ultimately had to retreat back towards their objective, they achieved their result. The remaining American platoon momentarily dug in into the river (it looked funny, let me tell you, seeing foxhole markers on teams fully in the water) before beating the Grenadiers back.


Final American Attack

With the Germans in retreat, the American platoon resumed their attack on the village (and the closest objective). By the time that they took the village, however, turn six had arrived and the first objective was removed. By the time they fought through the turret to get at the second objective, it too was removed. Still the Americans slogged on. The game ended with the Americans moving into the center buildings, but too late. Turn eight had arrived and the Germans were intact. They retreated off of the board in victory.


The numbers 1, 2, and 3 represent the three successive attacks made by the Americans on turns 6, 7, and 8 respectively. The numbers 6 and 7 represent the turn the indicated objective was pulled off.

Summary

As always, most decisive games show a concentration of force and movement with purpose. The Americans started somewhat concentrated, leaving 1/3 to 1/2 of the board unoccupied. By the time the attack started rolling, they had concentrated down to all forces being in about 1/3 of the board. Normally that is good, however they were concentrated on the opposite end of board from the objective placed by the defender.

The Fighting Withdrawal mission has one key footnote, one that I typically forget: the defender can only remove objectives placed by the attacker; he cannot remove the objective he placed. That means that if the attacker does not initially aim for the objective the defender placed, it really is a race against time, a race that it is questionable that foot-slogging infantry can win. Granted, had John attacked towards my objective, he would have been going into the killing fields of the HMG nests. However, I am not convinced yet that I had them placed properly.

John had some bad luck with rallying from pinning, which is always a bad thing in a race for time. Given that, it is understandable that he switched his flank platoon from a "guarding the flank" mission to "attack the objective". But it was that switch that lost the game for him. I am not saying it was a bad move. Had they pushed the Germans out of the village in the initial assault, John would have won the game by turn 4 or 5. The question is whether, after being battered unsuccessfully assaulting the turret, they had enough strength to push a full-strength German platoon - Trained or otherwise - out of their houses. Personally, I don't think they did, but it was close. So I think it was a gamble, but not too bad of one.

My counter-attack was timely, and deliberate. With the flanking platoon not only out of position, but subsequently destroyed, this opened the American flank up and allowed me the create a critical delay, which ultimately the Americans could never make up.

All in all a very intense and exciting game! Thanks John for the fun.

With that game my Infantry Ace earned enough points to get a second medal. I decided to wait to cash them in, allowing me to spend it on a Turn 2 ability. (I chose the one that allowed me to call in a free 10.5cm bombardment, once per game.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More '61-'65 Q&A

There have been a few questions answered on the Yahoo forum for the Ganesha Games rules Sixty-One Sixty-Five ('61-'65) and as I posted mine here previously, I thought I would add the others.

1. Page 3. Organization. Second paragraph. "Each Regiment comprised 10 Companies identified with letters from A to K."

Q: A to K is 11 Companies. Should this read: A to J?

A: Although there were Company J's in some ACW regiments, there were generally not, by tradition. J was intentionally skipped because of its similarity to I when hand-written. Or so the story goes... Ain’t No Company “J” in This Man’s Army

2. Page 14. Skirmishers. First paragraph. "Skirmishers always operate in pairs and must always be 1S from one another. "

Q: Do Skirmishers always have to be exactly 1S from one another or do they operate within 1S from one another?

A: "Within" 1S is the correct interpretation.

3. Page 17. Rout of a Squad. Third and Fourth paragraphs. "Routed soldiers remain in that position until:
1) other soldiers join them after other routs, bringing their number to 4 or more; or


2) the Captain spends one action within 1L to reform a Squad (the Squad
must comprise at least 4 and up to 8 soldiers)."

Q: The word "or" means one or the other, not both. Should this read as "and" and not "or"?

A: Both conditions must apply to rally (reform) a squad.

4. Page 24. Multiplayer Battles.

Q: This whole section makes little sense as written and is difficult to understand. Should it be re-written as:

"'61-'65 can easily be played by multiple players. Four players can command a Platoon each (4 Squads), eight players can command a Section (2 Squads) each. For intermediate numbers of players, each may
command 2-3 Squads.

To determine the order of Activation you may use a deck of playing cards. Remove the Face Cards and Jokers. Each player (he may command a Platoon/Section/ Squad - it depends on the level you are playing) is identified by a card. Remove the unused cards.

The remaining cards are shuffled and then one is drawn: that is the active player.

When all the cards in the deck have been drawn, shuffle them again and draw a card to start a new turn.

If there are many players, an unlucky first dice roll can have you waiting for a long time before you play again and this can be frustrating. To limit this, we use something we call the Giant Rule.

Take something bigger than the miniatures you are playing with (we use a 54mm flag bearer figure): this is the Giant. Add the Queen of Hearts to the deck.

Whenever a player rolls a turnover on his first dice roll of a turn, he gets the Giant. Go on playing as normal, drawing another card.

When the Queen of Hearts is drawn, the player who has the Giant can play as if his card was drawn, and the Giant is put back on the table. If the Queen is drawn and nobody has the Giant, nothing happens.

Put the Giant back on the table also if your normal card is drawn before the Queen of Hearts. Note that if another player gets a turnover on his first dice roll before the Queen is out, the Giant goes to that player.

A: Yes, that is a reasonable version of the section.

5. Page 25. 1861: First Blood. Forces. "CSA Company: 5 Squads at full strength (8), 4 Volunteer Militia, 1 Veteran."

Q: Appendix 1 on page 29 has no listing in the 1861/62 table for a CSA Veteran Squad. What Squad should be used?

A: Insert a line for Veteran in the 1861/62 list that matches the Veteran line in the 1863 chart.

6. Page 27. 1865: Fighting Against Time. Forces. "US Company: 5 Squads at full strength (8): 2 Veteran and 3 Regulars, 1 cavalry Squad (6 mounted)."

Q: Appendix 1 on page 30 has no listing in the 1864-65 table for a USA Regular Squad. What Squad should be used?

A: The USA Volunteers line in the 1864-65 chart can represent the Regulars (both draft and volunteer).

7. Page 28. Appendix 1. Staff Table (Officers and NCOs).

Q: There is no listing for Junior 2nd Lieutenants. When are Junior 2nd Lieutenants used?

A: Having a Green Officer is quite a detriment. A Junior 2nd Lieutenant should only be used when indicated by a scenario.

8. Page 28. Limits. Second Column. First Paragraph. "A Company will therefore have a maximum of 90 figures (10 staff, 64 soldiers, 16 Skirmishers) that counting the 8 corporals included in the Squads gives a total of 98 men."

Q: 10 (Officers and Staff) + 64 (8 Squads) + 16 (Skirmishers for 8 Squads) = 90 Men, not 98, correct?

A: Yes. That is a typographical error.

This page may be updated with corrections, as we are waiting for Sergio to return from vacation and answer some of these definitively.
9. Q: Does every figure in a squad have to be in the Command Range of a Leader to get the Leader Bonus? Last paragraph, bottom left of page 6 - "Therefore a soldier is in command if..."

A: Only one figure in the Squad needs to be in command range of a Leader to receive the Leader Bonus.

10. Q: Does the size of squads in the scenarios include skirmishers, or are they an automatic extra so an 8 strong squad will need 10 figures?

A: No, the size of the squad is excluding skirmishers. Therefore an 8 men squad will need 10 figures.

11. Q: If a squad rolls 2 dice and passes only one of the dice. Can it use that action to reload one of the two required actions needed to reload, then next turn it will only require one more action to reload before firing?

A: No, you need 2 action in the same turn to reload.

12. Q Is declaring actions done after determining number of succeses rolled?

A: There is no need of declaring action before rolling the dice, and you can use the successes get in any way you choose.

13. Q: If a unit needs to fall back due to losing a close combat encounter, does the unit still maintain its current facing?

A: Yes.

14. Q: If a unit needs to fall back due to a Rout because of a failed morale test, does the unit still maintain its current facing?

A: Yes.

15. Q: When return fire is declared the rules say that both sides may encounter losses, however the combat results do not reflect this (only one side can take damage). Perhaps I'm reading this wrong could you explain how this is to be worked out?

A: When shooting, if you return fire, either squads can take losses. If you don't (or you can't) return fire, only the shooter can damage the target, but only if they win the roll.

16. Q: Do NCO's add +2 to close combat?

A: No, only Officers can give the +2 bonus in CC.

17. Q: If a unit is loaded can it Fire at Will at any time during an enemy move, or just to return fire if it is shot at?

A: Only to return fire.

18. Q: Does wheeling – by any amount – take up a full stick of movement, or can it be combined with straight movement (either before or after the wheel)? Put another way, if I get two actions and I wish to wheel 1/2M in distance, then move 1/2M straight does it cost me 1 action or 2? I could see it being either way.

A: Wheeling any amount uses up all your action.

19. Q: How do you treat a unit that has four models, but has 1 or more Shaken models? It seems as the unit still has 4+ models, so it does not Rout, but when shot at Shaken soldiers don't count, so the Squad size is 3 or below.

A: A Squad with 4 models, with 1 Shaken soldier does not rout. It simply counts as having 3 models for shooting (and it is therefore a "Small" squad) and close combat (which is important when calculating the modifier for the number). We wanted to keep it simple in this case and in real terms there is no difference when shooting if you have from 5 down to 1 active models (i.e. not Shaken).

20. Q: Is there any advantage in being in double line? If you are contacted you fight at half strength. Is it better to stay in single line?

A: It allows you to mass firepower at a point in the battle line. You essentially have two squads facing off against the one. Just another little tool in the tactical bag of tricks.

21. Q: When counting figures for morale are the Drummer and Standard Bearer figures with the Captain counted?

A: Yes.

Well, that's all the questions and answers I could find from the Yahoo forum.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Infantry Aces Cassino at 700 points - Final

Well, final until I play and change the list, that is.

After much thinking, and reading an Infantry Aces battle report where the other player was caught by taking an FJ platoon and remembering (too late) that Support platoons cannot take or contest objectives, I decided I had to dump the Fallschirmjagers. If I wanted them, I should have selected them as my company choice.

Secondly, looking at the list I see that three Nebelwerfers cost about the same (105 points versus 100 points) as four 81mm mortars, but the former are much tougher, it made sense to go with the rockets. I have to remember, however, that the Nebelwerfers cannot contest an objective, so I still need to keep my Combat and Weapons platoons alive and near the objectives.

As the Nebelwerfers don't have gun shields I figured I would buy them some equivalents: Gun Pits. Three only cost 15 points, so it seems like a good deal. Throw in an additional trench for the command team for 5 points and the whole battery cost only 125 points. That should help keep them alive from counter-battery fire.

So, the first 700 point list I will try is:
  • Company HQ (CiC and 2iC)
  • Reichsgrenadier Platoon of 3 Squads
  • Reichsgrenadier Platoon of 3 Squads
  • HMG Platoon of 2 Sections
  • 15cm Nebelwerfer Battery of 1 Section
  • 7.5cm Infantry Gun Platoon
  • 2 Panzer II turrets
  • 2 HMG Nests
  • 3 Gun Pits
  • 3 Trenches
The Infantry Gun Platoon is only 50 points, brings me up to six platoons (so three can start on-board, at a minimum), and I have the models. Jumping from four platoons to six allows me to start with the fortifications, the Nebelwerfers in their gun pits, and either an HMG platoon in the trenches or a Reichsgrenadier platoon guarding an objective.

I'll have to look at the missions and see if it is possible that I could end up as attacker, but with Reserves. If so, I would make for some very difficult choices.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Infantry Aces Cassino up to 700 points

Well we are in turn two of our Infantry Aces Cassino campaign. We can now buy up to 700 points and add Support elements, however Tank and Transport teams are still not allowed. Further, Support elements cannot take or hold objectives.

So I started thinking about what I would take for my force. Here was my last 500 point force:
  • Company HQ with CiC and 2iC
  • Grenadier Platoon with three squads
  • Grenadier Platoon with three squads
  • HMG Platoon with two sections
  • Panzer II turret
  • HMG Nest
  • HMG Nest
  • Three trench sections (24")
So far, I was happy with everything except the trench sections. There had usually been enough terrain that it was unnecessary to start in them. (Plus, I was trying the trick to dig in within 6" of the trenches so that when I broke off from assault, I would be able to retreat into the trenches.) So, I never really knew what to do with them. Need more practice, clearly.

For starters I have to figure out if I want to continue defending all of the time or not. If not, the fortifications have to go, but I need something with punch to attack with. Confident Trained Grenadiers are probably not going to do it.

I definitely need more reliable pinning than simply throwing lead and hoping to get five hits. So the choice is mortar or sniper (4 tubes versus 2 snipers). With the Germans the mortar also gives me smoke, so it seems like the more reasonable choice, especially if I am going to attack. But, with only one battery, I cannot both smoke and pin, so combining the two options does have merit. And they cost exactly 200 points, which is the force limit increase. So, switching out the HMG platoon for the 8cm mortar platoon would give me pinning power.

But, that still leaves me assaulting with Confident Trained, which is less likely to hit in assault (4+) and less likely to counterattack (4+) if the enemy does not break in the first round. Oh for some Fearless Veterans ... like the Fallschirmjager platoon I can take as Support!

I could take a two squad (seven team) platoon and, combined with the mortars and the sniper, have a smoke and pin force. At least against one enemy platoon... Once that platoon is taken out, the sniper is unlikely to be able to reach a second platoon, so that means taking a second sniper. Now 200 points have been committed to the pinning and smoking support, leaving me with only enough points to get the smalle FJ platoon.

Another problem with this idea is that the sniper may not be able to reach the enemy objective with fire. As he can only setup in my deployment area of No Man's Land (which typically goes as far as the center line, if the objective can be more than 16" from the center line then its fire could possibly not reach the defending platoon sitting behind it.

Another option is to stay with defense, but give myself some counter-punch. The FJ platoon would fill the bill nicely in that it is unlikely to falter in Motivation. With them at 185 points, and the 15 points from the trenches, I could buy a second Panzer II turret, which game everyone so many fits last time. (Besides, I have a 6' board to protect this time.)

With the HMG platoon and the 8cm mortar platoon the same price, I can pretty much choose either one, depending upon the mission. If I go defensive, it seems like the HMGs would be better suited, especially as my Infantry Ace will be able to throw down one 8cm template and one 10.5cm template per game.

A lot to think about. Looks like I will finally get my Fallschirmjagers onto the table, however!

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").