Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Band of Brothers - Brecourt Manor

Here's a WW2 scenario for all you skirmish fans. It is a historical scenario based on Lt Dick Winters' assault on Brecourt battery on D-Day, made famous in the HBO Band of Brothers series. The action at Brecourt is dramatized in Band of Brothers Episode 2: "Day of Days", and Winters' successful use of surprise and supporting MG fire to defeat a numerically superior enemy is still used as a textbook case by the US Army to demonstrate an assault on a fixed position.

As the Brecourt Battery is firing on the US landings at Utah beach, it is important to silence it. Therefore, the US objective for the scenario is to destroy all 4 guns in the battery. The German objective is to defend the guns and prevent the US player from achieving his objectives.

The order of battle is as follows:

US Airborne Forces

  • 1st Group
  • Lt Winters (M1 Rifle)
  • Cpl Joe Toye (M1 Rifle)
  • Pvt Popeye Wynn (M1 Rifle)
  • Pvt Gerald Lorraine (M1 Rifle)
  • 2nd Group
  • Pvt John Plesha - 0.3 cal MMG
  • Pvt Walter Hendrix - assistant
  • 3rd Group
  • Pvt Joe Liebgott - 0.3 cal MMG
  • Pvt Cleveland Petty - assistant
  • 4th Group
  • Lt Buck Compton (Thomson SMG)
  • Sgt Bill Guarniere (Thomson SMG)
  • Sgt Don Malarkey (M1 Rifle)
  • 5th Group
  • Sgt Carwood Lipton (M1 Carbine)
  • Sgt Mike Ranney (M1 Rifle)
  • Reinforcement Group (Appears later opposite the 3rd gun position after it is captured)
  • Lt Spiers (Thomson SMG)
  • Sgt SMG
  • Pvt Rifle
  • Pvt Rifle
  • Pvt Rifle
  • Pvt Rifle

German Forces
According to Winters' after action report, his troops managed to kill or capture 20 German troops out of an estimated total of 40-50 Germans. However, if we gave the German player in this scenario his full historical order of battle, the US troops would have no chance. In order to simulate the surprise and confusion faced by the German troops, it is necessary to give the German player only half of his historical force. In addition, the artillery gunners should be of poorer quality than the defending regular infantry.

Thus, available German forces for this scenario are as follows:

  • 3 German gunners in each gun pit
  • 1 MG34 team (Tripod mounted) between the 1st and 2nd gun pit.
  • 2 MG34 teams and 10 Regular German infantry to enter the game as reinforcements after the 2nd turn. These troops enter at the corner of the board furthest away from Winters' original starting positions.

Special Scenario Rule - To simulate the total surprise achieved by Winters, the first US turn is a free turn without any German reaction.

Tom Weiss and Dom tried out the above scenario using the Disposable Heroes skirmish rule set. The US Airborne figures are 28mm Artizan painted by Tom Weiss. The Germans are a mix of 28mm Crusader and TAG painted by Dominic. The artillery pieces are German sIG33 150mm regimental guns from Force of Arms. (I could not find the correct artillery pieces in 28mm scale.) Even with the German handicaps, it turned out to be a fairly close run thing. I think this indicates that the scenario is pretty well-balanced. Here are some pics from the game, with some brief comments on the action:

Here's the layout of the Battery. Winters' entry area is on the extreme left of the board.

Winters' begins his assault on the first gun. The MG team in the foreground provides covering fire.

Lt Buck Compton and his group secures the 1st gun for demolition, while Winters' moves ahead to silence the MG nest before moving to the 2nd gun.

Winters' blows the 2nd and 3rd guns. Casualties have been pretty high. He moves his MG teams into the trench system to provide supporting fire against the German MG nests and reinforcements.

After the 3rd gun is blown, Lt Spiers and his team appear and request permission to take out the 4th gun!

German reinforcements arrive just in time to hold the final gun pit. Spiers' team is wiped out, and Spiers himself is pinned. Winters makes a hard decision and decides to charge the numerically superior German forces.

A bloody melee ensues in which Winters' is knocked down. US MG fire cuts down the last remaining German. The US player wins the game, barely! Click here to see the above pics in larger format.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

LOTOW in Berlin

On a cold winter's day, we trudged down to the local game shop - Battlefield Berlin - to try out the Legends of the Old West (LOTOW) ruleset from Warhammer Historical. As you can see, the snow is falling hard and everything is covered in a blanket of white. The only problem is that it is already mid-March, and it is still snowing! The shop is located in the north of Berlin at Muellerstrasse 61A. The nearest U-Bahn station (which is almost in front of the shop) is Rehberge on the U6 line.

At least the company in Battlefield Berlin is warm, even if it is cold outside. The shop window advertises Warhammer, but you will also find historicals inside. There are 15mm Flames of War, Corvus Belli Ancients, 28mm Artizan Old West, 28mm Copplestone Gangsters, Back of Beyond, and 28mm Black Tree Designs WW2. You'll also find a wide selection of gaming accessories, miniature carrying cases and terrain pieces.

There is a gaming area in the back. 3 tables set up for different games, or 1 big table. This is where we tried out LOTOW. The shop was kind enough to organise a LOTOW campaign for us, complete with table and terrain. The only thing we have to do is to learn the rules and paint up our own Posse. The next few weekends will only be practice games. Once we are familiar with the rules, the campaign will start.

More later!

Monday, March 06, 2006

War of the Roses Campaign: Game 4

Year 2 of the Wars of the Roses began spectacularly, in a game marked by the most aggressive attacking we've seen so far, as well as possibly the poorest die rolling as well. Read on to find out which side failed to appease the gods of dice, and which side won in the Spring of 1462.

The starting line-up was as shown in the picture above - (left to right in each case)
York: Neville, Edward, Herbert
Lancaster: Percy, Margaret, Beaufort.
A small hamlet occupied the centre, which we named the Hamlet of Dogg (a nod of the head to Tom Stoppard here).

The battle began with aggressive advances on both flanks. Warwick advanced his knights to strike at the right of Beaufort's line (3a above). A unit of skirmishers skirted around the hill (seen on the far left of the picture) and tied up several of Beaufort's units for a few turns, but otherwise did nothing for the rest of the game. In the centre, Margeret stole a march on Edward, and occupied Dogg's Hamlet with a unit of skirmishers (3b above) while advancing strongly with her remaining troops, using the built-up area as an anchor for their flanks. On the far right, Herbert advanced aggressively into contact with Percy (3c above).

Warwick's attack on the left went badly. The initial assault (1, above) failed to break the line, whereupon Beaufort's troops surrounded the knights (2, above) - one of them (the unit that's attacking the rear of the knights) making 3 successive command rolls at cumulative penalties of minus 4 to march across a hill, and through the woods to get there! The beleaguered knights were cut down in the melee: the 'before' and 'after' in the picture above (2 and 3) tells the story more poignantly than words could. This is the kind of thing that breaks a wargamer's heart to see ...

The situation looked grim for the Yorkists: the assault on the left was stalled (1) with the Lancastrian's re-forming their lines. In the middle (2), Edward had been pushed back by archery (Margaret's sharpshooters got 3 hits out of 3 dice twice, killing whole bases and pushing units back). On the right, a grim battle between Herbert and Percy initially swung in Percy's favour (3), again with bad dice from the Yorkists, but then swung back to Herbert as the scrum developed (4). That battle would eventually claim 3 whole units from Percy, and deplete Herbert's force similarly, continuing Herbert's reputation for hard fighting.

In the centre, Edward's billmen launched a flank attack on Margaret's exposed troops, but failed to win (by this point it should be clear which side was rolling appallingly). The Lancastrians counter-attacked, but in a series of surprising reverses, a flank attack against a single element of Edward's bill by two elements of Margaret's bow (pictured in 1 above: the units concerned are just right of centre) was defeated: the cramped battlefield meant that the archers suffered the "buttocks of death", and the victorious single element advanced into flank attack against the attacking billmen (seen on the top right of 1).

Meanwhile, Margaret's retinue bowmen had launched an attack on Edward's complete retinue, who had moved up to try and rescue the situation. In (1) above, you can see on the left an "L"-shaped unit of archers (Margaret's retinue) attacking a unit of bow in line and knights in column (Edward's retinue, showing the Yorkist falcon-and-fetterlock, as well as the boar flag of Richard of Gloucester, Edward's youngest brother). Queen Margaret herself joined the combat, against the protests of her brother Beaufort. The resulting combat saw the Lancastrian retinue first pushed back, and then wiped out to a man, as Margaret herself was slain in battle (2, above).

In one swift stroke, the battle was over. Across the battlefield, 3 players had lost their personal retinues, an unprecedented level of slaughter for the campaign, and some 8 units had been lost in total. Spring has seen a bloody start to the year: it remains to be seen whether the summer of 1462 will see the winter of discontent made glorious by the sun of York, or whether this internecine conflict will grind on ...