Friday, February 21, 2020

Scutarii at MWS meeting

Dave Howard and I got together for a game at the MWS meeting on February 16.   The armies were Pyrrhus and Republican Rome.  Keith also participated on my side commanding the left flank.  While Rolf and Frank assisted Dave.     The armies totaled 420 points each.   The Romans had a full consular army of two Roman legions and two Latin Ala totaling 16,800 infantry and 2400 cavalry.   Pyrrhus had 2400 cavalry, 12 Elephants, 14000 Greek and Macedonian phalangites, 4000 Tarantine Phalangites and 1500 mercenaries.

I planned an echelon attack leading with my right flank and having Keith hold back the left flank.   The Romans spread out on the wings of the battle.   Keith was presented with the opportunity of attacking the two Roman cavalry units on his flank with all three of his cavalry units and charged into them.   Unfortunately his die rolls were not effective.   The Romans were able to bring up infantry units to envelop his cavalry and eventually destroy them along with capturing the general commanding them.   This left our left flank in a dangerous position with the Romans having enough troops available to overwhelm it.

On the right flank I was initially successful breaking some of the velites and cavalry opposing me.   However, Pyrrhus and a couple of other cavalry units became embroiled in a fight with several Roman cavalry units.   Eventually both my cavalry and Dave's would be destroyed, but Pyrrhus managed to extricate himself.   One of the elephant units broke and rampaged into my right flank phalanx unit causing little damage before eventually succumbing to wounds.

In the center the legions and the phalanx units were engaged in combat all along the front.  As Roman units became exhausted they were replaced by units from the second and eventually the third line.   The phalanx units were also being worn down.   One of the Tarantine units had become shaken and might have broken in another round or two of combat.   Having broken some of the velites on the Roman left I had a cavalry unit in position to threaten the flank of the Roman center.   the Romans countered by shifting some Triarii to counter this.  Because the Romans had spread their army out they had stripped some of the Triarii from back rank this left them without enough replacement units for the combat in the center.  At this point we called the game.  During the next round of combat several Roman units would have been destroyed and would have likely caused most of the remaining infantry in the center to flee.

The cavalry on both of our flanks had suffered severe casualties, but with the Roman center broken we would have been able to counter any flanking moves by the remaining Romans.  Roman losses were about 5000 or so as we did not have enough cavalry to pursue the 10,000 routers.   Our losses were about 1800 cavalry and several hundred infantry.   A Pyrrhic victory.
 Beginning of game Romans on the far side are advancing.
Our opening move.  On the following turn the phalanx units would move towards the left to more directly confront the Romans.  My right flank cavalry and elephants were heading towards the gap between the legions and the Roman left flank cavalry.  Dave on the right and Rolf on the left. (Photo by Mike O'Brien)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Battle of Arracourt 1944 at the Fresno Game Club

On February 1st the Fresno Game Club had their monthly game.   The rules used were Rapid Fire.   I commanded the American forces with Neal and James as sub-ordinate commanders.   Dave, Brent, and Jeff commanded the Germans.

My plan was to have the two armored infantry companies in forward positions to delay the German advance.  One company occupied the woods on the north side of the table while the other and the battalion units occupied the southeast village.  Neal deployed in depth further back at the other villages.   I put our Fire Direction Center and the on table artillery at the west end of the table behind the ridge.   I had three forward observers.  Two were placed with James' infantry companies and the third occupied the woods at the center of the table.   I also commanded the re-enforcing engineer and tank companies.

Visibility for the first five turns was limited to 12 inches due to morning ground mist.   The Americans had first fire when units came within spotting distance in the mist.

The Germans arrived in two columns.  One on the northern road and the other near the southeast village.  I directed three of our eight guns on the German forces that had advanced to the top of the hill just south of the southeast village on the first turn.   On the second the other five guns came down on the northern column.   The observers headed towards the rear after calling the fire in order to protect them from being overrun by the advancing Germans.   By turn five they had reached positions on the eastern half of the table.  The artillery continued to fall on the original target areas causing sporadic losses for the Germans and slowing their advance.   James' infantry in the southeast village was eventually overrun, but not before causing more casualties for the Germans than he received.

My observers lifted their fire and proceeded to re-direct it.  On turn seven all eight batteries fell on the leading formations of the northern German advance taking out a Panther  and forced the lead elements to fall back.

James' company in the northern woods was being assaulted by tanks, and multiple infantry units, but was holding on and inflicting more casualties than he was receiving.   As the mist lifted the southern German force could be seen advancing across the open ground towards Neal's forward positions.  Their fire caused several losses including Neal's headquarters element, but did take some damage.   On turn seven the engineers arrived and occupied the southwest village.  The tanks would be arriving on the next turn.

At this point the game was called due to time.   The Americans were declared the victors for preventing the Germans from advancing far enough to achieve their victory conditions.

While Rapid Fire is not too complex and fairly easy to learn the mechanics of the rules do not match the level of play the game is supposed to represent.  Each tank is supposed to be a platoon and infantry is organized as multiple figure companies.  When played with 15/20mm figures towns are represented by two to three buildings.   This would be okay, except that instead of being treated as representations of an area occupied by multiple buildings as it would be at the scale of the game, each building is a single building.   This prevents bazooka teams from firing from within the buildings per the rules.   As such the game plays like it is a lower level skirmish game with individual infantry, vehicles, and buildings.  Artillery fire also deviates more than it did historically and is less accurate.   The rules do take into account the American use of fire direction centers to direct artillery barrages and the ability of American forward observers to call multiple battalions of raillery on a single target.
 Beginning of the game cards represent real and dummy unseen units. The Germans are arriving from their start edge represented by the yellow cards.  American are the chartreuse cards.
 Rear area of the American deployment
 Hellcats ambush lead German unit on the northern road.   The white X marker is the aiming point of the American artillery barrage
 Destroyed vehicles on the north edge.  By the end of the game the Germans would only advance slightly west of the hedge rows where the Hellcats are located.  The woods at the edge were still being contested by American infantry.
Gamemaster Ron in background.  Germans are slowly clearing the village in the southeast.   It took them more than four turns to do so.  White cotton puffs mark smoke rounds from German mortars.