Monday, 30 May 2005

Great terrain article

Craig over at [Minimods](http://minimods.myblogsite.com/blog) has a really nice article up on [building rivers from foam](http://minimods.myblogsite.com/blog/_WebPages/HowtoMakeaRiver.html).

The foam he uses seems to be a high density variety, akin to the type used to make children's foam play tiles and the like. He gets it from [Hobbycraft](http://www.hobbycraft.co.uk) in the UK, a chain that does not seem to have outlets in Belgium, but I think you can get similar stuff at [De Banier](http://www.debanier.be) stores in Belgium.

Anyway, [Minimods](http://minimods.myblogsite.com/blog) in general is shaping up to be a great miniature wargames blog (with a tighter focus than our eclectic selves), so by all means go over and have a shufti.

Saturday, 28 May 2005

BG campaign 1 - Blutwurst tribe

Last Thursday saw Alan coming over to my place for the first battle in the [Bartholomeus Grassus narrative campaign](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000108.html). The might of Rome, ably led by the man himself (and in this game played by myself) encountered the mob of flea ridden uneducated hooligans that refer to themselves as the Blutwurst tribe, played by Alan. For details of the armies involved, see [this earlier post](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000109.html).

To start with, here's a random selection of some photos taken during the game:



The full set is [here](http://www.flickr.com/photos/robartes/sets/385266/). You might want to open these in a new window to follow along with the text.

Having played Armati a few times before, I knew that the key to winning in this game is to get a heavy unit (i.e. heavy infantry or heavy cavalry) into the flank or rear of an opponent's line, preferably when said line is already engaged in a fight to its front. Failing that, getting a light unit into the enemy flank is a second, less effective but still interesting, option. Luckily, the campaign stipulated that I got the drop on the barbarians wrg to deployment, so I could deploy second. Alan deployed his troops with a big block of warbands between two woods, a second block on the left flank, some skirmishers in the woods linking these two blocks and his cavalry out on the extreme flanks.


HPIM1385


Seeing this deployment, my plan was to engage one of the warband blocks with the Roman legions, while the auxilia would try to flank the warband by moving through the woods bordering their deployment. The heavy cavalry was deployed on the same, right, flank, with the intent to defeat the opposing heavy cavalry and then moving on into the rear of the warband, although I did not have high hopes for this last part of the plan, knowing the limited maneuvrability of heavy troops in Armati (quite historically correct, probably). The Roman left flank was held by skirmishers only, as I had no intent of fighting a decisive engagement there.

I must say that the plan worked perfectly. It was helped immensely by the German heavy cavalry getting scared of the opposing Roman cavalry and attempting to get away from them, only to result in them getting caught in the rear while disordered - not a good thing. By the end of the second turn, the German heavy cavalry was off the field and my cavalry was wheeling past to try and reach the rear of the warband line.

In the center, the legions and auxilia advanced steadily. The legionaries contacted the opposing line of warbands -- which had sensibly come forward with the threat of Roman cavalry to their rear -- in the third turn of the game, while the auxilia entered the woods but were unable to charge the flank of the warband as these had already advanced too far forward. The auxilia would spend the rest of the game sitting in the forest counting squirrels.


HPIM1395


On the left, there was some skirmishing fire on the German warbands there, and I made the mistake of coming too close to the German light cavalry (which was not in a controlled division -- Armati speak for it not being able to move voluntarily), drawing it into a melee with my two light cavalry which ended up with me losing a unit of horse archers. Otherwise, not much happened on that flank, except far some pretty impressive yet ultimately futile maneuvring by the German warbands stationed there.

The main action of the battle was the clash between the legions and warband in the center. I knew I had taken a risk charging the warband, as warband have a good chance of seriously damaging the legionaries on the initial round of combat, but I had taken precautions by deploying the legionaries in a deep formation. (In Armati, warband have _impetus_ which means they automatically break opposing enemy units in melee if they win the combat. Certain units, such as Roman cohorts, can counter this by choosing to deploy in a deep formation, meaning a successful warband will "only" cause 3 out of 4 breakpoints instead of breaking the unit outright). This meant that I would probably survive the initial contact round if I was unlucky, and lock the warband into combat until my cavalry would arrive.


HPIM1397


And that is exactly what happened -- three of my five cohorts, including the one that had Bartholomeus Sinister Grassus himself fighting alongside with it, got seriously dented in the initial contact, but held on and broke one of the opposing warbands in the next turn. When the Roman cavarly, after some frantic maneuvring, then charged the rear of the warband line and another warband unit broke, taking the barbarian general with them, it proved too much for the nerves of the rest of the Blutwurst warriors, and they fled off the field of battle.

One - nil to the Romans -- on to the next tribe!

I'll let umpire Alan explain the campaign consequences of this battle, but suffice it to say for nowthat the Blutwurstians were seriously impressed by the might of civilisation, and a substantial number of them has decided to join Bartholomeus Grassus in his campaign.

Armati Campaign - first blood

Thursday night in Zemst , a quietly pleasant town in Flanders and by the way, it seems, the frontline of the strange universe that is Belgian politics. In contrast to the raging storms of linguistic politics, Bart and I are going to have a peaceful evening of slaughter and destruction. We hope. As Bart starts his campaign to civilise the barbaric tribes of �.

Faced with a small but dangerous army of warband, Bart deploys his vulnerable legionaries in deep formation. This means that if they lose a fight to the warband they will not be eliminated, but will 'only' suffer 75% casualties.




Armati - game one - Roman setup


Originally uploaded by ahuyton.




The Barbarians, the Riesling tribe led by fearful Chief Blutwurst (my made-up names are so funny), has deployed between the two woods on the German side of the table, with Heavy cavalry to guard the left flank (ha ha, see below) and light infantry in the middle to help outflank any Romans that come into attack. That was the plan.

What spoilt this ingenious plan was... complete incompetence. First, my flank guard, seeing itself outnumbered turned tail and retreated. A brilliant idea. Except that if the Romans moved first on turn two then they would be caught in the rear.




Armati - game one - D'oh first German error


Originally uploaded by ahuyton.




Guess what happened? Yes. Collapse of left flank and threat of Roman cavalry in the rear of the warband. Not nice. So, I abandoned my plan (all the books say this is a really 'bad thing') and decided the only chance of avoiding annihilation was to charge the warband at the legionaries.

Not a bad option. But again, stupidity intervened and I gave up the chance of attacking on my own terms. Without boring you all, basically the warband and legionaries clashed with Bart able to get three units hitting onto my one. Yeurch.




Armati - game one - crash!


Originally uploaded by ahuyton.




I did a little damage in the ensuing fight, with two of Bart's legionary units sustaining severe casualties. But his concentration of numbers meant that my warband were quickly worn down. After the first round of combat, warband lose their charge bones and thereafter just inflict one casualty per turn if they win. Now, they are fighting on a factor of 5 against the Roman factor of 7, so you can see that unless they win their first fight they are in big trouble.




Armati - game one - the German warband losing


Originally uploaded by ahuyton.




Tha battle was quickly over. Brenda, aka Mrs Bart, intervened at one stage to shake her head despairingly at the sight of her husband and a strange Englishmen playing with soldiers. But to be fair, she was suitably understanding of the unfairness of the battle, given the appalling imbalance of forces between Roman and Barbarian. She is a science teacher.

A sip of guinness later and the game was over. My warband were in full flight.




Armati - game one - run away!


Originally uploaded by ahuyton.




Only a few desperate survivors remained...




Armati - game one - the last desperate survivors


Originally uploaded by ahuyton.





Verdict - Bart is actually rather good at Armati. It's a game system that rewards a solid deployment and a good co-ordinated attack. Unlike other systems, dbm for example, it is very unforgiving. A minor mistake like my cavalry on the left flank has devastating consequences. why? Because winning depends on defeating a number of your opponents key units. You can slaughter light troops to your heart's content, but to win the game you need to kill his key units. Conversely, if you lose one or two then you are in trouble.

I strongly recommend the system. I obstinately continue to like dbm, even though it is unfashionable here in the group, but I do accept that Armati games give an excellent feel of an ancient wargame.

Thursday, 26 May 2005

The Bartolomeus Grassus campaign rules

For those interested, here are some details for the campaign we are going to start. See my previous post for details.

Firstly, the brave forces of civilisation.

Roman army, composed of the following troops (figures indicate normal strength, strength against flank attacks, strength in special situations, protection against missile attacks). The Romans have their compulsory units plus 75 points worth of bonus units.

Legionaries - 7 [2] 2 - +2: 3 compulsory plus 2 (cost 26)
Auxilia - 3 [1] 2 - +2: 2 compulsory plus 2 (cost 14)
Heavy Cavalry - 4 [0] 0 - +1: 1 compulsory plus 1 (cost 10)
Light cavalry - 2 [0] 0 - +1: 1 bonus unit (cost 7)
Horse archers - 1 [0] 0 - +1: 1 bonus unit (cost 6)
Archers - 3 [1] 1 - +1: 1 bonus unit (cost 6)
Skirmishers - 3 [1] 2 - +2: 2 bonus units (cost 4)
Light archers - 2 [1] 1 - +2: 1 bonus unit (cost 2)

Potential reinforcements:

1 unit of legionaries
4 units of auxilia
1 unit of heavy cavalry

Plus for each territory conquered, it may be possible to recruit auxilia: 50% chance, then roll 1D3 for number of units. To be taken randomly from lists.

-----------
And now, the first opposition, loosely based on an early German tribe. The Blutwurst army consists of core units from the lists plus 1D100 opposition.

And the roll is a ... 32. BV, you're lucky.

Warband - 5 [1] 3 +1 - 5 compulsory units plus 2 (16 points)
Javelinmen - 4 [1] 2 - +1 - 1 compulsory
Skirmishers - 3 [1] 2 - +2 - 2 compulsory units plus 3 bonus (6 points)
Heavy Cavalry - 4 [0] 0 - +1 - 1 compulsory unit
Light cavalry - 2 [0] 0 - +1 - 1 bonus unit ( 7 points)
Plus one 1 bonus wood (3 points)

So it should be a walkover for the Romans. But Bart knows that in Armati an army of warband can win on its first charge so he will have to be careful. If he survives the charge, then the rules stipulate that the warband get tired and much less effective. Then the legionaries can start their butchery.

The other unknown factor of course is Bart's dice rolling. We have had several sad failures in the past when almost certain glorious charges have failed at the roll of a one.

Now a few simple campaign rules.

Rules for initiative

Battle 1 - The clearly superior Romans will get the advantage in initiative and deployment automatically. Their normal initiative of 6 may increase each time they win a battle (50% chance) and will decrease by 1 automatically on defeat. This represents morale.

Rules for retreat

The Barbarians will always fight to the death;

The Romans may announce a withdrawal.
If they have superiority in cavalry then all unengaged units can withdraw. Engaged units can withdraw at 25% losses (except legionaries, who suffer 10%).

If not then unengaged units escape as follows:

Cavalry - without problem unless outnumbered by faster cavalry by 2:1. then 50% losses
Heavy Infantry - make an ordered fighting withdrawal. On a 1-5 on a D100 they suffer catastrophic losses (50%).
Light infantry - can try to run for it. Each unit loses 25%.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Bartolomeus Grassus

After some years of peace, our glorious leader is called upon by the Senate to gather his legions and auxiliaries together. His mission: to quell the barbarian tribesmen of the sinister land of � (pron. Ull).

But times are hard. He will have just one field army, with some reinforcements. And with this puny force he must quell unknown numbers of Picts (locally known as the Weedrams), Germans (the Riesling tribe), Bactrians (the Ouzos) and Palmyrans (Sher-betts). If he manages all that, then an amphibious landing on Goth Island followed by defeat of the appalling denizens of that place will be the crowning glory. Victorious, he will no doubt be hailed the next Emperor. Defeated, the Styx and eternal shame and derision await.

How far will he get? Watch out for the first battle report. We will be using the excellent Armati 2 rules. Bart will get a chance to play with his Romans - very powerful potentially under these rules. I will take on one of the barbarian tribes and attempt to do great damage.

For the geographically challenged amongst you, here is a copy of one of the early maps of the region:

View image

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Phil's History, Part 4

Part 4 of my personal quest for the ultimate gaming experience! (part 1, part 2, part 3).

I graduated from university in 1989, enrolling into the Ph.D. program, so suddenly, I had a lot of time on my hands.

This was the time when we started to do some SERIOUS roleplaying. This meant full-fledged simultaneous campaigns, different gamesmasters, tons of different systems. Mostly we played systems such as Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Call of Cthulhu, Rolemaster, Even things such as Judge Dredd. Surprisingly, we never played (A)D&D, and to be honest, that hasn't changed since. This was also the time when we could afford to buy almost every new roleplaying game, and also every game produced by Games Workshop (Talisman, Mummy's TOmb, Space Hulk, Heroquest, etc...).

Since we were so much into roleplaying, we also designed our own system, Schimmen en Schaduwen (still available online), a Dutch roleplaying game. Although I wasn't involved in the original design, I wrote many of the later adventures and also did some editing of the later supplements. We sold it mostly at conventions (such as the then yearly Fantasy World in Antwerp), and even now, more than 10 years after the last book was published, we occasionally meet fans of the game.

One of the better kept secrets is that we never really tried the game ourselves. So we invented this whole world, a combat system, career advancements etc., without actual playtesting. It was always funny at conventions to have players talk to us about how great the system was, and what our opinion was about this or that character, and how cool magical item such and so was. My lesson from those days basically is that most game authors use the smoke-screen of 'playtesting, game-balance, and research' a lot to hide the fact that most of it is actually quite random.

Then 1993! A major rupture in the gaming universe! Yes, I discovered Magic the Gathering. I saw it first played at EuroGencon 1993 somewhere in the South of England, and I was hooked. I was one of the first players to bring the game to Belgium, and the next two years can only be described as a Magic addiction. We organized tournaments in the Pieterman Bridgeclub in Leuven, drawing a respectable crowd, and went to tournaments all over the country. At one point I was even refereeing, since in those days I was one of the only persons with an internet-conenction, so I could keep track of all the changing rules.
Slowly but surely Magic became more serious. Tournaments became more professional, you had to be qualified to be a referee. Since my Ph.D. was getting serious, I didn't have the time anymore to follow-up on it, and so one morning during the Summer of 1995, I took all my cards, went to the Lonely Mountain shop, and sold them all over the next few weeks.

In 1996, my Ph.D. was finally finished, and so again, lots of free time became available. This was when I decided to get back into miniature wargaming. We did play the occasional game (mostly fantasy, Martin Hackett's rules), but now we were serious: we were going to tackle historicals!



Full Thrust takes off

As of today [Ground Zero Games](http://www.gzg.com) is providing [free PDF copies](http://www.gtns.co.uk/store1/commerce.cgi?page=downloads.html&cart_id=9772990.19950) of their Full Thrust rules -- the rulebook itself and both Fleet Books. While I own the three books mentioned in hardcopy, I will definitely download the PDF versions.

As to why the rules are now available for free -- as are the other OOP rulesets by GZG -- John of GZG mentions that the books are either out of print or getting there fast. I think the tacit acknowledgement is that the expected return from reprinting the books would be less than the cost of the reprint, hence this generous gift. Another factor in the decision might be the fact that GZG, as most miniatures outfits that produce rules and supporting miniatures, probably makes a lot more money selling the figures than the rules themselves (a business reality that [GW](http://uk.games-workshop.com) was probably one of the first to recognize and use to great advantage), so giving away the rules once they are no longer profitable makes good business sense.

And as an aside, this is the 100th post on Tiny Tin Men. Congratulations to us :)

Sunday, 22 May 2005

Blitzkrieg commander game - Vache invers�




Blitzkrieg commander game - Vache inversée 024


Originally uploaded by ahuyton.



As Bart mentions the final attack, here is one of the better pics. The British close in from the left flank, driving off the heavy German armour. On the right is the wreckage of two US shermans and the advancing US infantry.

Friday, 20 May 2005

Battle of La Vache Invers�

Last night Alan, Filip and myself had another [BKC](http://www.wargamesdirectory.com/html/bkc/default.asp) game. The battle was a meeting engagement in France between an allied battlegroup (Americans and British) and a German formation, sometime in the summer of 1944. Filip and Alan teamed up to play the Allies (Filip played the Americans, Alan his home team) while I took on the role of German commander.

Centrally located on the battlefield, the little hamlet of La Vache Invers�(the origin of whose name will become clear once Alan and myself post our pictures of this battle) featured prominently in the commander's battle plans.

For my plan, I split my forces in two (oooh - bad general): the largest part, consisting of two companies of infantry with the battalion support weapons (75mm ATG, 81mm mortar, 76mm IG and an HMG), a mixed armor company of two Panthers and a Tiger I, and an 88mm ATG for flavour. This part started on table, and my intention was to race the infantry into the hamlet and the fields next to it, while the armour and AT formed an antitank screen on both flanks (the right flank was covered by a fordable stream). The second group, consisting of a company of infantry and one of PzIV tanks, was to flank march on the right flank, hopefully catching the enemy formations' flanks or rear.

That was the plan, and a fine plan it was too. However, the execution was found to be lacking somewhat. Firstly, I made the mistake of choosing to move second (because that allowed me to deploy second, after the allies had deployed), which on the table we used (only 100cm deep) meant that the allies got the drop on me in the race to the village. Second, although this would be reversed later in the game, the allies, and particularly the Americans, manage to roll above average command rolls and to hit rolls for the first few turns, while my commanders took their time in organising their advance (command failures on all but two out of eight rolls or something on the first two turns). And third, because I opted to bring on the flank march way over on the allied side of the table, that meant I was rolling with a -2 modifier on the command roll to bring them on (6 or less on 2d6). I had taken this into account, hoping to show up on turn 3 or 4 or so, but in the end the flank march only showed up on turn 6, just too late to be of much use.

As it was, the Americans raced two infantry battalions supported by a few Shermans and Priests into the village and the neighbouring fields, having firmly established themselves by the end of turn 2. The British over on the other side of the stream were a bit more cautious, undoubtedly deterred by the fire of the Panthers and Tiger (when those weren't suppressed, which was not often -- big toys tend to attract big attention). In response, I managed to bring one infantry company to the edge of the fields, while the other perished in the fire from the village.

Over the next few turns, the situation around the village developed in somewhat of a stalemate, with the Americans unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority, while the Germans were in no position whatsoever to do anything but hang on with gritted teeth. Only towards the end of the game did the pressure on the Germans become too much for them.

The British in the meantime, after dallying around a bit in typical fashion, boldly charged forward, racing to the stream and a bridge across it with two companies of carrier and halftrack borne infantry, supported by a company of Cromwell tanks. They crossed the river in turn 7, not in time to save two of the Cromwells which came under fire from the German PzIV tanks recently arrived in their rear (flank march arrived turn 6), but in the perfect place and time to charge into the Germans locked in combat with the Americans, completely scattering them and taking the German force to its breakpoint. Well done, F & A!

It was a fine game, with everyone involved virtually convinced that the game would be over by turn three (with the Germans still very much in their starting positions), but that did last out the full exciting 8 turns. Another triumph for BKC.

Alan and myself took quite a number of pictures of this game, so once they're unloaded from the cameras, I imagine that they will be posted here shortly.

_Update_: [Photos](http://www.flickr.com/photos/robartes/sets/359851/) are up on my [Flickr](http://www.flickr.com) account.


Monday, 16 May 2005

Before and after - my new wargame room

As regular readers of this blog know, we have moved house recently. While the general details of the move and the new house are out of scope here, one room is firmly within the realm of subjects covered in these pages: the wargame room.

As all of you who have ever moved house know, unless you are very rich are have the luxury of spreading the move over a large period of time, the place you move to ends up as a tangled mess of boxes, disassembled furniture and lost socks. The wargame room (one of the smaller bedrooms in the house became the wargame room, after a number of different planning iterations) was no different in respect. This is what it looked like just after the move:



Comments overheard from the various people helping us out with the move suggested that I'd never be able to put all of that stuff away and still have room left to fit in a table. As a veteran of several moves (depending on what you consider a move, 5 or 7 moves before this -- hopefully -- final one), I know with what efficiency you can store stuff, and I also knew I could store less used things *under* the table. So I wasn't worried in that regard.

Well, it turns out that I only *just* have enough room to fit all of my stuff in, but I managed to cram in the lot:



On these pics, you can see the wargame table itself (lots of infrequently used things are bulging out from underneath it -- I plan to replace this trestle and board table with one whose supports are shelving units), my painting area with terrain storage above it and a book case of wargame and history books. The entire wall behind it is overflowing with boxes containing the often used things, so perhaps I'll have to add some more shelving.

Nevertheless, the room and table have been used in anger twice already (as reported here as well), and I'm quite happy with it.

Saturday, 14 May 2005

Blitzkrieg commander game - 1944



Tuesday night in Zemst. Bart anf Filip teamed up using Filip's nice new American troops. They were playing against my newly painted and based Germans. We played a Blitzkrieg Commander 'encirclement scenario', which required my battalion and supporting Panther, a pair of stugs and an 88, to get across the table. The enemy simply had to stop us.

Against me were a batallion of infantry and a batallion of shermans (some confusion being cause by the fact that we used a pre-prepared British army list but with Filip's troops).

The game didn't last long. I lost my Panther straightaway, the 88 got caught in the open and the infantry got stuck in the village, only to be kicked out by a bold Yankee assault. Oh well. It was a fun game. And we met Filip for the first time, which was nice, and he and Bart had fun speaking thick rural dialect with each other.




Monday, 9 May 2005

Book Review: "Wargaming: An Introduction"

I picked up the book"Wargaming: An Introduction" (Amazon UK link) last week, by Thomas Neil. I'm always looking for books on wargaming, owning a sizable collection dating back all the way to original copies of Little Wars and Floor Games, and most of Donald Featherstone's publications from the '60s and '70s.

Anyway, this book starts with a general introduction to wargaming as a hobby, including some historical overview of the hobby, which is an entertaining read. Then, various chapters give a brief overview of different periods, including rules for Ancients etc. The book also contains colour photographs, which apparantly are taken from the magazine Miniature Wargames.

The rulesets described in the book are however not very imaginative. The merely rehash the same concepts that have been used since similars books have been published in the '60s, and they actually feel very old-fashioned and somewhat outdated. My guess is that the author is a veteran wargamer who wanted to publish a simiar book as Featherstone's original book, but then in a modern print run.

I feel that this book will not really convince newcomers to pick up wargaming. There is some reference to GW, but mostly it focuses on historicals. Any book that ignores fantasy wargaming (the main driving wargaming force since the 70s, whether you like it or not), cannot really be considered an introduction to the hobby.

The book presents a very traditional view of the hobby, and it is an entertaining read, but I fear it somewhat misses the point. It is neither a good introduction, nor does it contain new ideas or material for the veteran wargamer.

But at least, there is an affordable book on wargaming available now, so the author deserves credit for that!

El Vettah photos



www.flickr.com





El Vettah - the conclusion

You will remember that Bart and Kurt were slugging it out in a 1941 desert war campaign?

View image

Well have a quick look at the map and then return to the story.

The Attack on El Vettah

The Germans had triumphed at Wechta Ridge, the remnants of the British Gurkhas fleeing Eastwards into, alas, either death from thirst or almost certain captivity, unless by some miracle, the remaining British forces around el Vettah could conjure up a miraculous victory.

Brigadier Teethyme, commander of the British forces, did his best, devising a cunning plan. First he ordered his intact infantry, the renowned 3rd Borsetshires (commanded by Lt Colonel Horatio Archer), to set a trap for Jerry. They were to establish field defences, manned by a skeleton force, dummies, hounds, anything, and when the enemy attacked petrol dumps would be set on fire to create huge plumes of black smoke, thus hiding the pathetic scale of the defence from the, no doubt, cautious Hun.. Meanwhile, the main force would take up command to the East. When Jerry attacked el Vettah they would pounce and hit him in the flank.

Meanwhile, the Royal Arthurian Tank regiment, under Colonel Cain, would motor north and hit the Germans in the rear thus destroying the invader.

It was a fine plan, only foiled by two things.

Firstly, the German command, under the bold General von Schmuckelgrubber, took command. He ordered Kampfgruppe Grundenpunder, a recently arrived new formation, to march West and capture the coast road. Grundenpunder quickly intercepted the British armour, who at first sight of the enemy scuttled off to safety in the south.

Secondly, when battle was joined at El Vettah itself, things started to go wrong for the British. The German left flank, to be the victim of the flank attack, consisted of a heavy armour formation. Their British opponents were lightly armoured infantry with some Valentines in support. The anti tank guns were left behind in El Vettah. No match for the German armour. Also, the British lost the element of surprise and were spotted on the way in. Although the Valentines were able to do some damage, the British infantry seemed not to have the heart for a battle and no sooner had they dismounted from their trucks than their commander decided to withdraw. Probably he was right, they had little chance at this stage, a good but complex plan had, alas, not worked out.



In the meantime, the Germans advanced cautiously and methodically on El Vettah. Here at least the British plan worked. For some time, despite the total absence of defending fire, the Germans did not realise that the town was empty. But in the end, their advance was so untroubled they reached the edge of the settlement and found no difficulty in capturing it.

Here's the final map.

View image

Conclusions

My own thoughts about the game are as follows. The Germans certainly had better troops, better equipment and an advantage in numbers. But they were careful and methodical in their moves and on the battlefield. They also had some luck, notably in the first game where they had massive artillery support, but it has to be said that they used it well.

The British on the other hand, suffered from their army lists, with an absence of transportation and some feeble armour. I did throw some bonus lorries and artillery spotters in to try to rectify the problem however. The combination of orders and moves led to a series of disasters for the British, and I think that it was by no means inevitable. In the circumstances, the British player was imaginative and tried hard to rescue El Vettah, and against an inexperienced German player might have succeeded. But alas, this was not to be and the well coordinated German forces protected flanks and rears thus neutralising the cunning plan of Brigadier Teethyme.

In gaming turns, it was a fun little action, with unusual situations, drama and a nice story line. We had some difficulties translating the complicated plan for the defence of El Vettah into a tabletop action and I had the feeling that neither player was very satisfied with my rulings!! Flank marches and edge of the table are complicated to deal with in this period.

Anyway, I hope in the end it was enjoyable. I think the idea is a good one and can be repeated. The key thing is that the players do not worry too much about winning and losing. Instead, it is essential to focus on the unfolding story and enjoy the narrative of the action. It seems that WW2 games particularly need to be played in this spirit.