Thursday, 22 October 2009

Age of Pre-Dreadnoughts

A few weeks ago my SSWG comrades and I tried out David Manley's new 'Age of Dreadnoughts' expansion for Mongoose Publishing's Victory at Sea.

We were just testing the rules out, so plonked down some ships without much ceremony and set to for a quick bash. Usually the best way to learn a new rule set. The lack of real conflict in this period should not cause a true gamer any concern and so we opted for another 'what if' conflict, this time between the circa 1905 British and Italian navies.

The British had four of their new (in 1905) Formidable class Battleships and three cruisers, this comprising only about half of the British Mediterranean fleet's capital ships. The Italians had a similar force, but this represented virtually all their major ships.

Italians
Battleships
Benedetto Brin
Regina Margherita
Ammiraglio Di St. Bon
Emanuele Filiberto
Cruisers
Guieseppe Garibaldi
Varese
Francesco Ferrucio

British
Battleships
Formidable
Irresistible
Implacable
London
Cruisers
Monmouth
Drake
Cressy

The ship sheets we used are here

The Action
Each navy's cruisers were deployed in a screen ahead of the main battleship squadron, with the Royal Navy in conventional line abreast and line astern style, while the avante garde Italians tried out a fancy echelon formation.

Seamanship was far from impressive to start with. The British Battleships missed their turn and the Italian Battleships turned badly masking each others guns. The Monmouth took some nasty early hits and ended up breaking out of the line to starboard, while the rest of her squadron headed port. The Italian cruisers followed the two more seaworthy British cruisers and began a duel that initially went well for the Italians. The British cruisers are huge though and can take a lot of punishment. The British battleships then proceeded to steam up the middle of the action, lending some long range support to their beleaguered slimline comrades. The main event was by now underway however, as the battleships pummeled each other with their big guns and the Monouth limped along trying desperately not to be noticed. It soon became obvious that the Formidables were aptly named as they tore apart the pride of the Regia Marina. The Brin was quickly sunk for little damage in return and the Italians found themselves outnumbered four to three, two of those being elderly ladies of dubious virtue. To make things worse the Italian cruisers were now in no state to assist, the Italians struck their colours and rued the day they had foolishly challenged the might of Britannia.

Conclusions
The rules were rather good fun and everyone enjoyed the game. There was a reasonable amount of dice rolling and record keeping but the pay off was enough colour to make things interesting. Much cheering ensued as the critical hits landed and one particularly nasty set of multiple explosions drew a wince as the Brin's crew suffered. Overall the game flowed quickly and we had got the hang of the basics after the first few turns. We'll definitely be trying them again before long.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

SELWG 09 Report

Okay, so finally I'm going to kick things off with a post.

Last weekend, was the triumphant return of the South East London Wargamers Group's show at Crystal Place. It's been a favourite outing of ours for many years and it was good to see its return.



So we dusted off the '1984' game we had intended to take to the last, cancelled, show a few years ago and set off in cars and vans, at some ungodly hour last Sunday morning. That's my back on the left and the evil mastermind of our club, Andy 'Prince of Darkness' Finch, on the right.

Our scenario was a hypothetical Soviet invasion of West Germany. Forward detachments of the Russian 3rd Shock Army are probing for weak points in the British sector when one such force receives intelligence of an intact river crossing to their front. With fortune supposedly favouring the bold, the Soviet commander launches his advance guard in a direct assault to capture the bridge. Unfortunately for Ivan, just as he begins his advance, elements of the British 1st Armoured division are also moving into the area.

The Soviet forces consisted of: A detachment of 12 VDV infantry - forward scouts and the source of the intelligence on the bridges - 6 T-72 Tanks, 6 BMP-2 IFVs and some motor rifle infantry



The British forces consisted of three squads of Infantry and a Milan section plus a pair of Chieftain Tanks.

We used Ambush Alley's Force-on-Force rules as standard, except for dropping the survival roles in the vehicle combat, as we felt in our play tests that things needed to be more dangerous.

The main Russian force started their advance in two columns. The tanks moving towards the main bridge whilst the BMPs moved on the smaller road. The VDV were already on the far side of the river moving cautiously into the suburbs.



The British had one Chieftain deployed behind a small copse of trees just off the main road and the second in a side street, set back but able to cover the exit from the main bridge. The Milan section was also set up covering the main bridge but had only just arrived and so were not dug in. The British infantry were entering the suburbs and moving towards the river.

The Soviets were the aggressors and things were quickly under way with the opening defensive shot from the Milan section taking out the lead T-72.



Undaunted the Soviets pushed on, quickly losing a second tank to the first British Chieftain, but the third T-72 returned fire crippling the Chieftain's main gun and wounding two of the crew.

On the other flank the VDV were almost immediately pinned down in a garden. Their sniper team moved across the road to try to give covering fire but were soon taken out by GMPG and SLR fire from the gardens and houses opposite.

The BMPs pushed cautiously across the small bridge, opening fire on the gardens. The lead BMP was knocked out with a Charlie G and the squad de-bussed into the woods nearby.



Meanwhile the Soviet armour, now racing forward to try to make themselves a harder target, had made it across the bridge but not by much.



The remaining T-72s still edged forward, now using the burning wrecks for cover, and took out a Milan team, and a GMPG team in the gardens. They didn't last long though and the tank force was soon were reduced to just a single damaged tank.

Back in the village a second BMP was brewed up by another Carl Gustav shot but the squad got out okay and joined their comrades in the small copse. After several initial hits and a series of very lucky casualty rolls, they turned the copse into a fortress, laying down withering fire from PKMs and RPGs on the gardens and houses around. These six man teams had a surprisingly large amount of firepower and with repeated shots from reaction fire were making swift work of the more numerous but smaller British teams around them.



At this stage the show was drawing to a close and things had reached an impasse in our game. The Soviet attack had stalled but the British casualties were too high for them to easily push the Russians back any further.

Overall the game flowed smoothly, moved at a good pace when we didn't keep stopping to talk to people, and everyone enjoyed it. The change to the vehicle rules certainly made things more deadly and better matched our preconceptions. The difference in quality between the British regulars and the Soviet conscripts did make a noticeable difference, with the tanks particularly struggling to make it across the bridge due to generally losing the reaction tests. Larger, or at least the more tooled up, units do seem to be powerful as they can react more and generally come closer to matching the attacker's firepower.

The pics are courtesy of my club mate Simon at essexwargamer

Cheers for reading,

Trev