Showing posts with label see the elephant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label see the elephant. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

'See The Elephant' For The Great Northern War

I still haven't come up with a decent name for my Great Northern War square-grid rules, but I have finally posted the latest version to Google Drive.

You can download them here:

GNW Square Grid Rules v1.1

This is the version I used for the Poltava campaign game the other day, as well as the Charles S Grant scenarios. The biggest change is that rolls which aren't used for activating units must be used to rally units instead - in a turn a unit may either activate or rally, but not both.

Friday, 30 January 2015

The Road To Poltava - Part 1

For our club game last night Caesar and I looked at how many One Hour Wargame scenarios we could whip through, in the form of a linear mini-campaign loosely based on that of Poltava and using the GNW version of my square-grid rues 'See The Elephant'.

I used the same campaign structure I used for the Missouri campaign I played out a couple of weeks ago, but with a prettier map. The Swedes had to advance from The Borders to The Heartland to The Gates of Moscow and then win a battle there to take Moscow itself. The Russians had to win three battles in The Borders. If there was no result after five battles then there would be a sudden-death playoff - the Fortified Defence scenario, representing in this case the Battle of Poltava.

The winner of a battle received a reroll token which could be used in subsequent battles. They also got to be the Attacker, which meant that they were allowed to choose which side they were in the next scenario after seeing the tactical situation. The Swedes started as attacker.

Caesar opted to be the Russians, and our first scenario was The Bridghead. One side has a bridgehead over a key river, and must extend and consolidate it. The other rushes troops from all points of the compass to prevent this. I chose to react to the bridgehead, so the Russians started with one unit on table, whilst I started bringing in reinforcements. My cavalry arrived first.

The battle developed as more troops arrived, but some poor initiative rolls meant that the Swedes hung back initially, whilst the Russians were able to push across the river.

The Russians were trapped between two Swedish infantry wings, with their backs against the river.

They held firm, and in the dying turns of the game all I could hope for was a furious attack to contest the bridgehead and force a draw.

The Russians drove me off, to win the first encounter.

Caesar now had the initiative as the Swedes tried to advance into Russia again. The next scenario was Counterattack. Caesar was defensing a small town on a road, whilst trying to take a bridge defended by a single enemy unit. But more Swedes were on the way, and could use the fords on each wing. The objective for both sides was to control both the bridge and the town.

Swedish artillery defended the bridge, and held off the Russian attack until reinforcements arrived.

My attacks on the fords stalled in the teeth of a dogged Russian defence, and the battle became focused on the bridge; with it looking unlikely that I could reach the town in time, I had to concentrate on holding the bridge in order to avoid another defeat. Caesar charged with his cavalry against the wavering artillery defenders.

His cavalry swept the Swedish artillery away, but they were unsupported, and a Swedish cavalry counterattack routed them at the first charge. This left Caesar's centre wide open and changed the game. All of his forces were now pinned at the fords on the flank, and the road to the town was clear. I pushed my cavalry along it to take the second objective, whilst his troops couldn't reach either in time. A last-minute victory for the Swedes saw me advance into the Russian heartland.

At one game each the initiative switched back to me. The next scenario was one of my favourites - An Unfortunate Oversight. I chose to be, once again, the defenders of a river-crossing, whilst Caesar's troop appeared to be attacking it but were, in fact, sneaking around a ford far out on my flank. It was a reverse of the Battle of Holowczyn.

Whilst the Swedes concentrated around the town to the right of the picture, the Russians move across the river to the left.

Artillery dueled across the river.

Both armies slowly formed up. The fighting swung back and forth ...

... but it was the Russians that eventually took and held the hill.

This second Russian victory pushed the Swedes back to the Borders space. 

At that point we decided to call it a night, having played three games in three hours. After all, it will be easy enough to finish the campaign off another evening. We'd played three games in three hours, which was pretty good going. We decided to end there because it was impossible for the fourth game to be decisive - the campaign must either go to the fifth or sixth (and final) battle.

The modified rules held up well. The change such that dice which failed to activate units could be used to rally is especially interesting, forcing decisions as to whether to use units or rest them.

I picked six scenarios from the book to cover the first five games (so even the fifth would be a random pick). Three of them involve river crossings, and all three of them came up.

There were two other games on the go when we we playing all that.Firstly there was a big battle DBA game using the new 3.0 rules. 

And, secondly, a game of BKC, with a modified refight of the Crossing the Narew scenario we played last year

Ralph - with burning tanks.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Little Lesnaya

Some of the scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' are inspired by actual battles. 'Surprise Attack' is based on Quatre Bras, but after playing it at the weekend with GNW Russians attacking Swedes I then read an account of the 1708 Battle of Lesnaya, and realised that it's a very similar setup. At Lesnaya the Russians, under Tsar Peter, attacked a Swedish force that was escorting a supply train. A small Swedish force held the Russians at first until it was outflanked and pushed back, with the main body of the Swedish army coming up in support and forming a line which just about prevented a total rout.

With the similarity in mind, I rejigged the scenario to make it closer to Lesnaya. I dropped the roads, and changed the marsh in the OHW setup for more woods, which were expanded to the board edge. I flipped the north and south edges. The objective became a village - Lesnaya - on the Swedish baseline (the south). The Swedes were defending, with two units of infantry in a gap between the woods. The rest of their army - two more infantry and two cavalry, would appear later, the infantry from their base edge, and the cavalry  from the east, but south of the woods.

The Russians would appear in three forces, one entering on each of the first three turns. First would be three infantry, appearing in the centre of the northern edge. Two guard infantry units would appear on Turn 2 to the right of the infantry, whilst a single cavalry unit would appear on Turn 3 to the left of the infantry.

Here's the initial setup.

The line infantry forms up for the attack as the guards appear, led by Pete himself (who has no function in the game and is just garnish).

The guards move towards the woods to bypass and outflank the Swedish line, whilst an exchange of musketry breaks out in the centre.

All of the Russian units are now on the move, with cavalry working its was around the Swedish right. But to the right of the picture can be seen more Swedish infantry coming up in support.

The reinforcements form up before Lesnaya.

Peter's guard work their way through the trees.

Under a relentless Russian assault the first Swedish unit breaks.

The Swedish reinforcements move to plug the gap, as the Russian guards form up on their left flank.

A fierce Swedish charge drives the Russian infantry back.

The Swedes are under pressure now, though, with the guards on their left flank, and Russian cavalry on their right.

The Swedes fall back on the village as their own cavalry arrives in support.

Tsar Peter advances the guards.

Swedish infantry flees before them, but a cavalry counter-attack drives off some of Russia's finest troops.

Tsar Peter is forced to ride to safety, pursued by Swedish troopers.

The Swedish cavalry reforms for another attack, but the Russians have a clear run at the village now, with the last of the Swedish infantry having fled in disarray.

The Russians take Lesnaya. Time is running out, and only a single cavalry unit is in a position to prevent a Russian victory.

They charge the village ...

... and fail to drive out the Russians. It was a close battle, but the Russians secured a victory.

On the whole the scenario worked as a stripped-down refight of the battle. I may stagger the arrival of the Russian units just a little - on the day there seems to have been a bit more blundering about in the woods - but otherwise I think it's basically good enough. I shall give it a replay over the weekend sometime.

Oh, setup time was five minutes, and it took just under thirty minutes to play.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

'See The Elephant' With Twelve Units

After the programmed scenario I though I'd set up another 'big' game of GNW 'See The Elephant'. I went for twelve units a side, giving both sides a base force of six units (infantry, cavalry and artillery for the Russians, infantry and cavalry for the Swedes), then rolling on the six unit random tables for the rest of the troops. Once again the Russians got lots of Guard, whilst the Swedes ended up rather well-endowed with cavalry.

I randomised the terrain using something I made up on the spot - I rolled to see what was in each of the six 4x4 squares that made up the grid, then rolled to see if there were any rivers or roads running through each sector. This is what I got. The big river was impassable, but had a ford in the centre, and a bridge where the road crossed it. A fordable stream ran along one base edge, whilst woods occupied the centre of each edge. The far end of the battlefield was relatively open, and dominated by a village.

I decided to pick an objective on each side of the table. Common sense dictated the village (which was towards the Russian side) and the bridge (which was in the Swedish half).

The Swedes defended the bridge by occupying the hill-line through which the river flowed. The Russians launched a attack on it with the very cream of their infantry.

All of the cavalry ended up on the other flank. The Russian horse were rather outnumbered, but put up a good fight before running away. Meanwhile Russian infantry garrisoned the village, whilst other units deployed in support. Swedish columns in the woods awaited the outcome of the cavalry action.

It really was a quite impressive action.

The Swedish cavalry was victorious, and piled into the Russian infantry whilst the Swedish infantry slowly formed up for the attack.

On the other flank the Swedes defended the hills with great pluck, but were slowly being ground down by weight of numbers. The Russians weren't escaping without casualties, however.

The Swedes assaulted the village, taking considerable losses.

With the hill position untenable, the Swedes withdrew across the bridge, covered by their artillery. The Russians kept up the attack.

The Swedes held, though, and with some reserves from the centre bolstered their line.

Meanwhile the Russian garrison in the village had fled.

This was too much for the Russian army, which broke.

They keys to the Swedish victory were threefold - firstly their defence of the hill defied the odds and drained the Russian manpower, secondly the road allowed them to move reserves held in the centre to where they were needed at the key point in the battle and, finally, they had a couple of really good activation rolls just when they needed to be aggressive on both flanks at the same time. The Russians had some unlucky rally rolls as well, losing a couple of units that just wouldn't shake off hits whilst still taking more. In addition their artillery was somewhat wasted in the centre where it annoyed, but didn't hinder, the Swedish reserves. It would have been better deployed supporting the village.

This game was a lot of fun, and took just over an hour to set up and play. As with the previous game one of the best features was rolling a big handful of activation dice.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Programmed Hill Line Defence

Like any wargamer my age I have some of those classic Charles S. Grant scenario books. Oddly enough, though, I find I don't make much use of them, aside from the inspiration to be gained from just reading them, However since many of the 'One Hour Wargames' scenarios are derived from those of Grant, I thought I'd have a go at a game based, as it were, on the source material.

I decided to have a try at the first scenario in 'Programmed Wargames Scenarios' - The Hill Line Defence. The remit is simple; one side is defending a hill line. The other is attacking.

I thought I'd use the game as an excuse to put to the test Bob Cordery's claim that if a set of square-grid rules work on an 8x8 grid, they'll work on larger ones as well. So I made myself an 8x12 grid (which easily translates to a 6'x4' table facsimile for setup purposes) and got out the GNW Swedes and Russians, plus the GNW variant of 'See The Elephant'.

I opted to be the attacker, because attacking is always more fun, and rolled the Swedes. Making a die roll based on Grant's suggested forces I got nine defending units against ten attackers. I used random army generation. I won't bore you with details, but the Swedes ended up well-endowed with artillery, whilst the Russian, inevitably, got a couple of guard infantry units.

I did all of the rolls, got to deploy after the Russians, made a plan (in lieu of the retro 'writing orders' that Grant's scenarios assume) and generated the Russian defence, which was to sit tight come what may. I gave myself the traditional One Hour Wargames limit of 15 turns to pull off a victory, but also added in an army-morale roll; once an army had lost more than five units, they rolled a D6 each turn, with a roll equal to or less than the excess indicating that they gave up.

Here's the battlefield, adapted to a grid and my terrain selection with a few compromises. The Russians are on the hill line to the left. My gallant Swedes are on the right.

With woods on my right flank I decided to attack with my left, where I could be assured of the cavalry support I love so much. Unfortunately the right flank was, of course, where the best Russian infantry was. In the centre I used the artillery to keep the defenders there busy. As a plan it didn't come to much. The village really split my attack into two halves.

Marching on the hill ...

... and in we go!

I chucked in everything in a furious assault, needing to take this end of the ridge before the Russians could bring troops over from the unengaged flank.

The fighting was desperate and bloody. A couple of times I gained a foothold on the ridge, only to be throw off.

The Russians started to march reinforcements over from the other flank.

I kept attacking.

But it was all for naught - my army quit at the first opportunity. To be fair the assault on the Russian right had been totally routed, and I was left with a weak centre and a lot of artillery, which wasn't really going to make much impression on the still strong Russian defence.

So did the rules work for a larger game? Yes they did. The activation rolls did require a nice big handful of dice (ten in the case of the Russians), and tracking which units were being activated needed markers rather than just memory, but otherwise the game worked just fine. In a fit of foresight I had added march movement anyway, so units out of close proximity to the enemy can be shunted around as reserves very nicely. And the roads helped too at the start, enabling the Swedish cavalry to get into position.

I enjoyed the game so much that I set up another one. But that's for another post ...

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