Monthly Meeting Saturday 3 July  2004

after action report

 

Well a fair turnout of some 23 gamers, including ex-member Oliver Silsby who, after several years of absence from club meetings, was visiting from his Taiwan home.  We also welcomed one new member, Hin Or, who is based in mainland China but will be visiting Hong Kong on a regular basis.

 

Battle of Welwarn

 

Prussian: Herbert Wong
Austrian: Alex Lam, Lawrence Ho

We used 16 SP for each side, and used my new experimental army list, each side getting around 13 units, plus command and artillery.  The Prussian King personally took command in the field and therefore a grade 4 Infantry unit (IR 6 the Grenadier Guard) and a grade 4 unit of Cuirassiers (No. 8 Seydlitz, a unit of excellent performance in the SYW) could be fielded by the Prussians.  Under our new system, we need extra SP for these cream units, so play balance is still preserved.

The terrain was rather open, the village named Welwarn was a medium sized Bohemian village separated into 2 settlements, one we called "Big Welwarn" located on the left of table, the other named "Little Welwarn" located on the right table, these two building blocks were rather close to the Austrian side, and naturally they became the anchor for Austrian line.  The Austrians set-up first (on the assumption that the Prussians had out scouted the enemy and thus were able to set-up second), they deployed along the road linking the two Welwarns and occupied the two building blocks with those Croats (skirmisher troops).  Lawrence took command of the Austrian right wing and Alex got the left wing.

The Prussian King surveyed the enemy line and decided that he would concentrate all his cavalry, plus two out of the 3 infantry brigades to strike on the Austrian left wing, capturing "Little Welwarn" and breaking the Austrian left wing.  He would also deploy 1 infantry brigade to face Lawrence's Austrians, about half of the Austrian army; the Soldier King believing that Lawrence's cavalry plus infantry needed at least 3-6 turns to close the Prussian left wing, and within this period, he could defeat the Austrian under Alex, and conclude the battle with victory.

The Prussians moved fast toward the Austrian left wing, the Grenadier Guard led the attack in "the Potsdam Watch-parade", the 1st Hussar (the Green Hussar ) tried to engulf the end of Austrian left wing.  After the morning mist lifted, the Austrian left wing commander Alex immediately recognised the Prussian plan and without any hesitation decided to fall back, so it was funny that the whole Austrian left wing started the battle with their backs facing the Prussians!  However such move saved the Austrian wing from collapse early in the battle.  In the mean time, Lawrence sent his fast moving troops straight down to the Prussian left in attempt to outflank them.

The first few turns saw both sides skilfully march and counter march in order to outflank the enemy whilst not being outflanked themselves.  Finally Alex anchored his line by using "Little Welwarn" as a corner, forming a right-angle shaped defensive line.  The Prussian 1st Hussars charged the Austrian Hussars, both sides committed cavalry units one by one into close combat near "Little Welwarn". The Prussians had slightly the upper hand as their cavalry had both a quantity and quality advantage, it was at this critical moment that the Prussian Cuirassiers (grade 4) galloped to charge the enemy.  If they charged home, they would probably rout those Austrian Cuirassiers and would carry their pursuit into the exhausted Austrian Hussars, and the cavalry battle could be concluded in favour of the Prussians; the Austrian left wing would be in trouble with their cavalry gone.  But a Austrian medium battery stopped such plan, their opportunity fire causing a morale test, the Prussian rolled 3 dice with only 5!! (a total of 6 would have passed the morale test), they were checked and fell back.

Seeing the cavalry falling back without any success, the Soldier King committed his guard and tried to capture the building block of "Little Welwarn", at first he waved the IR no.46 to lead the attack, but they failed the initiative test and showed hesitation not advancing toward the village. However, the Prussian Field Marshall Schwerin (a +2 commander) seized the Guard's colour and personally led the attack against the Croats inside the village; the Guard showed their value disregarding deadly fire from a heavy battery, a light battery and close volley from the Croats inside the village, they pushed out those Croats with bayonets, however half of the battalion fell in the attack.

In the mean time, Lawrence's outflanking move forced the Prussians to fall back and reform their left wing, the King also held the centre infantry brigade as a reserve to counter any such threat.  So only long range artillery fire ensued from both sides in the Prussian left and centre.

After the loss of "Little Welwarn", Alex reformed his line behind the village, reinforcements from Lawrence side arrived, and the line was steady.  Prussian cavalry suffered huge casualties and so did the Guard, both side were exhausted and as sun was setting, both sides called it a day.

In terms of casualties, the Prussian losses were higher, but at least they captured one geographical objective; the Prussian cavalry captured 2 colours, in return they lost 1 colour and one of their brigade commanders was captured by the Austrians, so tactically it was a drawn game.

Just after the battle, Captain Rahm rode toward the Soldier King:
"Your Majesty, Little Welwarn was captured and we found a delicious soup still boiling, so your dinner is ready".

The Soldier King replied:
"My dear captain, you mean the price for my dinner is half the men in the Grenadier Guard??"

 

Leningrad

 

Christopher Chu and James Cheung played the old SPI game called Leningrad, in its second edition reincarnation, published by Decision Games.  The game is simple and fun but nevertheless was still played incorrectly in their first match, which had Christopher playing as German and James as the USSR.  The Soviets successfully delayed the advance of the Germans long enough.  However, halfway through the game they found they had wrongly interpreted the rules, so the game was restarted at 5 o'clock , switching sides, as now James played the German.  He divided the six German armour units into 2 corps each with a panzer unit, thus obtaining a column shift in his favour when in overrun and normal combat.  This time the Germans did better as they managed to occupy Kaunas in the first turn, although one of thier panzer corps was repulsed by the Soviets.  Another panzer corps did much better and managed to breakthrough.

The second turn had the Germans mopping up the remaining Soviets units along the border of East Prussia with the German panzers managing to occupy Riga by the third turn.  Thus the defending line along the Dvina River was broken and only a handful of Soviets units stood between Leningrad and Riga.  However, like their counterparts in history, the German infantry lagged behind and were unable to support the advance of the panzers.

Nevertheless the German panzers continued their advance and managed to trap 2 strong Soviet armour corps to the south of Pskov.  However, one of the Soviet armour corps managed to slipout of the encirclement and counted-attacked the Germans together with reinforcements. The German panzers took one-step loss as a result.

On turn 5 the German infantry arrived and rescued the beleaguered panzer units.  They drove the Soviets away and the damaged panzer unit retreated to Dvinsk for replacements.  The Soviets retreated eastward and formed a thin defensive line east of Lake Pskov and Lake Virts.

In turn 6 the Germans assaulted the thinly held Soviet line and successfully drove the enemy away.  Pskov was captured.  The Soviets gathered their reinforcements around Leningrad and prepared for the counter-attack on turn 7 (the Soviet player has a 4 column shift in combat in his favour during turn 7).  Awaiting the Soviets' counter-attack, the Germans formed a defensive line just east of Pskov., although they also took the opportunity to capture Tallinn and gain a foothold east of Lake Peipus.  The Soviet counter-attack materialised and successfully drove the back the Germans, damaging one of their infantry divisions.

From turn 8 to turn 12 saw the German assaulting the defensive line around Leningrad.  Novgorad was captured on turn 9 and a foothold east of Luga River was also secured.  The Germans threatened Leningrad both from the south and the west (from each direction supported by a panzer corps).  On turn 10 the road to Leningrad from the south was cut, thus stopping Soviets reinforcements arriving in Leningrad.  The German force from the west was hindered by the presence of strong Soviet armour and fortifications.

The Germans however attempted to assault the city of Leningrad from the south. The city south of Neva River was taken, but the attempted breakthrough by the 39 Panzer corps to the north of the city failed.  With only a handful of reinforcements (the Leningrad Militia) the Soviets could not counterattack the German positions.

On the last turn (Turn 12), the Germans assaulted the city again, finally getting a foothold in the north of the city.  The Soviets made their last effort to drive the Germans out, but in vain.  As only one objective was taken, the Germans finally claimed a tactical victory only.  

 

A really enjoyable game, which was fast and furious, finishing at 7:30 pm. 

 

English Civil War

 

Ambitious as ever, I decided to hold the whole of the English Civil War in just one day in a one day tabletop campaign.  In fact two days would have seen it completed but as it was we had to settle for the first two years.

 

The set up can best be viewed in the photograph of Eric doing his Igor impression.  Basically the whole of England is laid out in panoramic splendour, Scotland and Wales are not represented.   Eric in fact makes for a good reference point as he is squeezing pass Chester, opposite (in a pink shirt), is Oliver looking south towards London, but focusing on Nottingham with its forest and with Hull and York just in front of him.  Oxford sits in the centre of the table with Gloucester and Bristol coming off in forks.  The bottom (dark green) table shows Exeter and the road to Bristol.  Out of view further South is Plymouth with Lyme just below Exeter.  Out of view to the right is Poole and Dover .

 

Each of these cities was given a value, which ranged from 9 for London through to 3 for Rye.  These values were the revenue values which was used to recruit:

 

   Royalist   Parliamentarian
Pistols (F)  1   n/a
 Pistols (I)      n/a     2
  Pistols (0)  n/a  3
Pistols (S) 3  3
    Pikes (0)  1  1
Shot (0)   3 2
Art (0)  3   3
Drags (S)   3  

                                                                                                

In addition each player had a General and 8 points to spend on elements of his choice.   Elements recruited on towns had to start there; Generals could start as they chose.  The Royalist towns were York, Chester, Nottingham, Oxford, Bristol and Exeter.  The Parliamentarians started with London, Dover, Poolw, Lyme, Plymouth, Gloucester and Hull.  The King (Oliver) could summons an army from Ireland at any time but on doing so would be required to dice for each town with a 50% chance that they would rebel.  The other Royalist players were Andrzej (as Prince Rupert) and Ken, against Eric, Jeff, Peter and Denny.  

 

Jeff started in Plymouth, Ken in Exeter, Eric in London, Peter in Gloucester, Andrzej in Chester, Oliver in Nottingham, (where the Charles I had raised his standard) and Denny in Hull.  The Royalists had a plan, always dangerous at the best of times, and Ken left the West Country never to return.  Jeff followed up and at the end of year two had captured Exeter and Bristol.  

 

The first battles occurred when Oliver and Andrzej closed on Denny at Hull and Peter and Jeff cut off Ken from Oxford.  Denny put up a fight but was defeated unfortunately.  Hull was diced for, (on seeing a friendly army beaten) and declared for the King.  Ken was defeated in the midlands with only remnants entering Oxford.  At the end of the first year the King held the North and Parliament the South.  Next year saw a major strike towards London by the King with his combined forces and two battles took place, one outside Nottingham and one at ‘Edgehill’.  The King also called in the Irish (none of the Royalist towns revolted).  Both of the battles resulted in victories to the King, although Edgehill was as much a very bloody draw like its real counter-part.  So ended the second year of the war. 

 

Needless to say we ran out of time but for those who want to emulate it, two days would see it through.  The rules allowed the Scots to enter in year 4 on a dice throw.

 

Movement was by strategic movement and then by DBR movement pips.  There were two strategic moves to a year.   

 

Game of Thrones

 

One of the cool things about fantasy boardgames is that the game is not restrained by historical premises or “straightjacket rules”, in which you are bound to do something to repeat history (you bet, there are plenty such rules in GMT’s Europe Engulfed for example).  A Game of Thrones by Fantasy Flight is a game set on the fantasy island of Westeros, in which 5 houses have vowed to claim their rightful throne.   We gathered 4 players to play: Anthony Lee (Red, House Lannister), Lawrence Hung (White, House Stark), Simon Shum (Yellow, House Baratheon) and Hin Or (Green, House Tyrell).  Pyke (Black) was controlled by no one and was not allowed to move or attack. 

 

The game began with Stark rushing down from the northern Winterfell to the central plain of Moat Cailin.  Plagued by the lack of supply to raise new troops, however, House Stark was stopped by Lannister.   Lannister was worried that if Stark was unchecked, it would be difficult to repeal him later because of general Stark’s good defence tactics (he had Catelyn’s double defence strength card and Eddard’s double fort card which could reduce casualties).  Battle ensued over Moat Cailin, which turned into a protracted war and a build-up of supporting forces on both sides.

 

Tyrell slowly built up his forces and began to look for expansion from the southern city of Highgarden.  Taking advantage of the Lannister engagement with Stark, he soon found there were spaces to occupy unhindered.  Garlan fought bravely with his attacking capabilities and Ser Loras killed footmen with more and more blood being spilt.  Fearful of Tyrell’s expansion, Baratheon turned to central highland in Westeros – King’s Landing.

 

Baratheon is the royal house in the land of Westeros.   But the rumours spread the news that the dying King was being killed by his adopted son.  His throne, therefore, was no longer rightfully claimed by the Baratheons as the King did not pass it on in his will.  “We have to prove it ourselves.”  Renly and Stannis Baratheon captured King’s Landing on the third month. 

Taking advantage of Baratheon’s moves, Tyrell engaged in a battle with the Baratheons on Dragon’s Stone.  Baratheon was weakened at the rear because of the offensive in King’s Landing.  Suddenly, Baratheon realized there was no diplomatic security with the neighbouring Tyrell.  

 

Lannister began to take control of the Bay of Ice by defeating Pyke in the latter years.  Alarmed by the possible landing in his hinterland, Stark secured a peace contract with Lannister.   Lannister was willing to make peace with Stark because the Moat Cailin battle went into a stalemate.   Seeing the threat from Tyrell, Lannister made a final contest for determination of the final master of the land of Westeros in Hanchhall.  The final result was that Tyrell slew Lannister and claimed the throne.  Baratheon kept the last remaining headquarter at Winterfell and Westeros entered a new era under the house of Tyrell . . . 

 

Final score: Hin Or (Green, House Tyrell) – 8, Anthony Lee (Red, House Lannister) – 5, Lawrence Hung (White, House Stark) – 3, ), Simon Shum (Yellow, House Baratheon) – 1.

 

The Game of Thrones basic game "engine" is very solid and has many similarities to traditional war boardgames.  A very tense game throughout, as different houses have their own distinct abilities at different stages of the war during the 10-turns game duration.  I particularly like the initial planning operations for each area with a force where a token has to be placed.  The operation tokens are revealed simultaneously once everyone has made their decisions, you therefore never know what your opponents are up to.  Your plan to attack may, for example, be foiled by a defence order taken by the defender with naval “bombardment” support from neighbouring sea fleets.  Overall, a very good game with colourful maps and components, and a lot of possible strategic options throughout the entire 10 years (turns) of the game. 

 

Soldier King

 

Prussians:  Cheung Kar Fai

French: John Jenkins, Peter Munn & Philip Ngo

 

This was a very interesting and exciting battle with a result that was quite close; both sides routed enemy units by cavalry charges and thus needed to check their army morale.  In the final event the Prussians won because the French had more units routed


First of all, I’d like to describe the terrain.  It was a flat plain with a town on the Prussian right flank.  On the French right flank there was a farm with a long stone wall that kept the Prussian cavalry charging to their right.

 

The French had three commanders; Philip Ngo was on the left with 6 units of infantry, trying to take the town held by the Prussians; in the centre there were 2 cavalry units commanded by John, and Peter was on the right with 5 infantry units.  I, playing Frederick the Great, deployed my 4 units of cavalry on the left to face Peter, 5 infantry units in the centre and 3 units in the right.

 

In the first 3 turns, Philip tried to use 2 units to take the town but was stopped by my light infantry in the town.  The French were held in the centre and on the right.  When Philip’s infantry was held, I marched my infantry in the centre to line up with the troops in the town.  However, the left most of the infantry exposed their flank to the French cavalry.  Fortunately, I smelt something wrong, and decided to send one of the Dragoons from the left to the centre, which helped very much later.

 

On the fifth of sixth turn, French cavalry charged my Grenadiers’ exposed flank and routed that unit.  That charge had a domino effect, routing and pushing back nearly all of my units in the centre towards the town or to the edge, with only 2 units on the left still holding position.

 

After the French cavalry units had made their historically successfully charge, their position was quite exposed to my Dragoons moving to the centre; at the same time, Philip moved his infantry units trying to take the position to attack the town from the flank.

 

It was my turn to strike back.

 

Ensuring the success of the charge and increasing the melee die rolls, Frederick personally led the charge.  The Dragoons charged the French cavalry in the flank, easily routing them because their size had been reduced in the previous battle.  The follow-up charge took place and was fought against the flank of Philip’s infantry units. The domino effect now came back on the other side; 3 infantry units were routed, and one more cavalry and infantry unit were routed by my Hussars who had followed the Dragoons.


The French centre was actually broken on the 10th turn and the Prussians gained the battle field.

 

Memoir '44

 

Sam and Horace played Days of Wonder' new game Memoir '44, by Battle Cry designer Richard Borg.  The game, which simulates the invasion of Normandy and the Western Front battles, shares many similarities with Battle Cry and is a simple and entertaining game, with lots of colour (and lots of plastic soldiers and tanks) - it's an excellent introduction for the novice wargamer and can be enjoyed by both beginner and grognard alike.  

 

The blurb from the web site should give you an idea of what the game is about: From the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc to the hedgerow battles in the Corentin Peninsula and beyond -- Memoir '44 airdrops you into the key battles that turned the tide in Western Europe during the summer of 1944.  Omaha Beach, Pegasus Bridge, Operation Cobra... step in and command your troops on the battlefields that defined History in the 20th century!

 

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