Tuesday, September 14, 2021

My Own Private DragonCon

This post is a bit overdue but I just got around to writing it up.

Although I had purchased a badge for DragonCon in those heady days of Spring, when it seemed we might be turning the corner on the COVID thing, when the time came for the event (Labor Day weekend), I was not particularly enthused about being in confined spaces with thousands of strangers. The nail in the coffin was that my son, who is 10 and too young for a vaccination, would have to get a COVID test before attending and he hates getting them done. 

So, we opted to do our own mini con at home. Admittedly, we missed out on some things, but on the other hand, the lines were short.

On the days he was in school, I managed to play the two battles for the 2nd campaign turn of my Fictional Citadel campaign (documented here and here)  as well as do a lot of painting (for me at least): I finished 5 figures and one MG crew.

One of my son's favorite things is video games (we usually spend a lot of time at the arcade at DragonCon), and so we played excessive amounts of Minecraft together. 

I stand by my assessment that if you like old school DnD, it's worth giving Minecraft a chance (play in survival mode). It's somewhere between a hex crawl and a dungeon crawl but you don't have to wait until 9th level to build a castle. My son plays in creative mode while I play in survival mode so he can heal me when things inevitably go awry.

Playing RPGs is one of the highlights of my Con experience, but unable to entice my son to play anything I felt ready to run (he really wants to try Delta Green but it's a bit much for him subject wise I think), I turned to my neglected stack of rule books. 

I read several, including Usagi Yojimbo (the Fuzion version) and Call Catthulhu, which was an enjoyable activity even if not playing an actual game.



However, I then did a quick review of Metamorphosis Alpha and went on to play a solo adventure. "The Long Hard Mile" put out by Goodman Games. 

My mountain goat mutant died in an encounter with a mutated plant but it was a fun to try out the system for the first time despite having the rules for a few years now. I think Metamorphosis Alpha would work great in solo play using the Mythic Game Master Emulator because there is a lot of exploration and your character really is kind of oblivious to the workings of the starship, or that it's even a starship.

Another highlight of Con for me is the vendor hall (stuff!), and so I gave myself permission to spend a little money. 

I ordered the Call of Cthulhu (CocC) starter set and got it before the weekend was over. So, I played the included solitaire adventure therein - thus making two RPGs played.Which is two more than I've played in about 5 years now.

My investigator, antiquarian Elias Barnes, did not survive, but it's Call of Cthulhu so that wasn't surprising. The solo adventure is often compared to Choose Your Own Adventure but really it's more like Tunnels & Trolls solitaire modules or the Steve Jackson game books - you have a character and there are game rules that exist outside of the story and the outcome of skill checks or combat or what not can determine which paragraph you read next.

The starter set is for 7th edition CoC which is new to me but it's been out a bit now I think.

I used to have 6th edition CoC, and played in a few one shots, and then sold my rulebook because I didn't really need the book to play a character in one shots. 7th edition has some interesting? changes - like half and fifth rolls. I don't know if I'd invest in the full rules because the starter set provides enough info to create characters and run adventures as is. I suppose the price lists for 1920s goods and chase rules could be helpful, but I'm not sure they are $70usd helpful (for both the Keeper's Guide and the Investigator's book).

I also ordered a Usagi Yojimbo trade paperback (book 1)  to go with the re-reading of the RPG rules I mentioned above as it's been awhile since I've read any of the comics. 

An earlier order placed with Armies in Plastic arrived over the weekend as well, so although not a Con purchase, its arrival was timed perfectly. Two packs of regulars for the French and Indian War, one pack of French Foreign Legion, and one pack of Woodland Indians for some new projects.

A tiny selection of the AiP figures, because this is a toy soldier blog after all.

Nerd related movies seemed a good choice for our weekend, but in the end we decided on Phineas and Ferb's Marvel and Star Wars extended episodes, available on Disney Plus. We've seen both before but it had been awhile. The Star Wars episode is supremely funny with lot's of callbacks to the Star Wars movies.

I did try to screen Beastmaster for him but that didn't last long. I saw it in the theater when i was 10 but it's been a long time since and movies have come a long way. It looks low budget even for its time -like it was shot on VHS. My son immediately noted the hero's Luke Skywalker haircut. We got maybe 15 minutes through it before we decided an episode of Teen Titans Go! would be more enjoyable (it's easily my favorite comic book related animated show).

A couple of episodes of Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, featuring Kenneth Hite and Robin D. Laws (it's my favorite gaming related podcast - it's RPG focused but they cover so many topics in an intelligent way with great humor. I highly recommend it) provided us with our convention "panel sessions".

Finally, we ate drive thru Taco Bell, not once but twice, ordered pizza, and went to Waffle House. Because at DragonCon you eat in the food court at the mall generally so this was my way of replicating that. Plus no dishes to wash because chores are definitely not part of Con weekend.

I am not convinced I'll invest in a DragonCon badge for next year - it's tempting as a point of hope for  being among my fellow nerds but at the same time, I don't think my fun was in any way diminished this year.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Fictional Citadel : July 7, 1943 Part 1

On July 7, 1943 PanGermania advanced to capture Berezovka and collided with the 1st Soviet Guard Rifle Division supported by elements of 1st Tank Corps. 

The Germans advanced quickly into the town - 1st Recon followed closely by 1st PanzerGrenadiers with support from the division's armored elements. The artillery deployed on the hill south of Berezovka.

Division Commander Ouspensky provided all three of his tank brigades to General Novikov who would be commanding the attack. The three tank brigades descended on the town to meet the invader's armor.

1st Recon moved to protect the perimeter from advancing Soviet rifle divisions and 1st PanzerGrenadier was tasked with pushing back the 1st Tank Brigade. Intense fighting in the streets and alleys raged and possession of the town was up for grabs for several hours.

The Soviets 1st Guard Rifle Regiment took up positions in the woods East of Berezovka and engaged 1st Recon. From their position they were able to call in artillery support to devastating effect. Meanwhile 2nd and 3rd Rifle Regiments cautiously advanced towards the fighting via the two roads leading into the town.

In close fighting, 1st Tank Brigade managed to push 1st Panzer Grenadier South of the town. With the Germans pushed out of the fields East of the town as well, Novikov turned cautions and opted to use his armor to hold their positions while the infantry caught up.

Fichte brought up his PanGermania Fusiliers who had been held in reserve, along with the 1st PanzerJaeger battalion. The armor battle continued on the German right, and Tank Brigades 1 and 2 combined their efforts and rendered 1st Panzer combat ineffective, leaving only 1st StuG battalion.

Unfortunately for the Soviets, 1st Tank Brigade suffered extensive losses at the hand of German artillery and were forced from the field.

1st PanzerGrenadier drove the Soviets from the woods and then, along with the Fusiliers, engaged in fierce combat with the 2nd Rifle Regiment East of Berezovka.
General Novikov held 3rd Soviet Rifle Division in the fields north of the town in preparation to counter attack should the Germans make some headway, while sending 2nd Tank Brigade to engage the German artillery in an attempt to end their harassment.

With support from their AT battalion, the 2nd Rifle Regiment drove off the Panzer Grenadiers and engaged in a wrestling match with the Fusiliers for possession of the fields and farms.

In an effort to flank the Soviet infantry, Fichte sent his engineers to take up positions in the woods from where they launched repeated attacks on the Soviet AT battalion.

However, Fichte was running out of army to command. Although his force had caused quite a few casualties, they had taken more themselves. 1st StuG battalion made a last valiant effort to gain a foothold in Berezovka and engaged 2nd Tank Brigade in a close range shootout but were overwhelmed, they were forced back. The German attack ran out of momentum and Fichte was forced to order PanGemania's withdrawal.

Berezovka was in Soviet hands, but as the scene of most of the days fighting, it was mostly rubble.

******* Campaign Notes ******

This was fought on an 8x8 grid on my 4' x 4' table (since I was combining Soviet forces). The rules again are The Portable Wargame by Bob Cordery. The only changes I make are for initiative (i use the solo card activation rules but I don't shuffle the sides together, instead they dice for initiative and then draw from their own card deck) and MGs/Armored Cars roll 3d6, but instead of all hits counting, if 1 or more die hits, it's a single hit total.

Both armies had exhaustion points of 9SP. The game lasted 13 turns, with both sides losing 11 SP. The Soviets lost 3 of those in turn 13!

For the Soviets, just more than half of the losses came from 1st Tank Corps. Division Commander Ouspensky, already peeved that Novikov was tapped to organize the attack, is now even more annoyed. 1st Tank Brigade was completely eliminated, 2nd Tank Brigade has 1 SP remaining and 3rd Tank Brigade has 2 SP remaining.

Although I left it on the table, the 1st AT battalion only went into the battle with 1 SP and was eliminated. I had forgotten they were starting from a weakened state due to the fighting on July 5.

However, because I let the Soviets combine their force, both division sized forces are still in relatively good shape, although they must allocate recovered SP between the two units. We'll see if Ouspensky can lobby for a greater share of the replacements.

PanGermania is in bad shape despite their successful encounters on 5th and 6th of July. In this battle, Fichte lost his recon, 1st Panzer, and 1st Panzer Grenadiers, plus sustained damage to 1st StuG and the Fusiliers. That's a lot to ask of the recovered SP.

Phantom Division will face its own challenges against 2nd and 3rd Soviet Guard Rifle Divisions the next time I get a chance to play. That will be Part 2, but I don't know when I'll get to set up the table next.

Oh, and for those interested in such things, here is the map after the movement phase at the start of campaign turn 3:

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Austro-Hungary Responds to Italian Escalation!

Not to be outdone by the Italians, the Austro-Hungarian army has equipped its forces along the Southern Front with newly acquired machine guns of their own.

Astute readers will note that these are not the standard Schwarzlose but rather are models based on the German MG 08. 

Once again, this is a model available from Irregular Miniatures in their 54mm WWI line. The gas mask head is an option. I just like the way they look (for the same reason I have always liked the 1/72 Strelets WWI figures as they all have gas masks for all sides).

My "conversion" of the uniform to Austrian, besides the colors, was to simply paint over the boot upper as if it was a puttee. 

Assembling the MG took some effort, but then, assembling anything is not my strong suit (you should see me with Ikea furniture). I snapped one of the front support legs - thankfully it was only one, and it repaired easily with super glue. Attaching them at the correct angle nearly resulted in permanently gluing myself to the model. Twice.

In the end though, slapped over with paint and gloss, it looks the part.

I plan to buy one more MG team for each force again from Irregular eventually.  They are a great deal, even including shipping to the US, and they arrived quickly. However, I have more infantry to paint up in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

July 6, 1943: Phantom Division vs. 2nd Soviet Guard Rifle Division

 As PanGermania clashed with the 3rd Soviet Guard Rifle Division, Germany's Phantom Division led by General Feuerbach, was met by General Blavatsky's 2nd Soviet Guard Rifle Division.

It should be noted that on the map below, the Germans are entering from the South West, while the Soviets enter from the North East.

The Map.

Feuerbach directed his troops to capture the hills North West and North East of the bridge in order to secure the road for the next wave of the advance. 1st Panzer Recon lead the charge, securing the bridge without any Soviet resistance.

2 SGRD meanwhile brought up as many of their assets as they could to meet the advancing Huns. Having stopped the 1st PanzerGrenadier Division the previous day, morale was high and the expectation was that they would shut down the German incursion before the day was out.

1st Panzer recon captured the first hill objective while 4th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, with 2nd Panzer in support, moved up to reinforce their position. The Soviets quickly deployed their artillery and began bombarding the Germans on and around the hill.

Blavatsky, angered by the denial of his request to pursue the retreating 1st Panzer Grenadier Division, sought to break Phantom Division by not only denying them the hills but crippling their force. He personally commanded the artillery in their relentless bombardment of German units.

Portrait of a Soviet Hero: General Blavatsky.

For their part, 2nd Panzer Regiment and the division artillery hammered away at the Soviet 5th Guard Rifle Regiment who had taken up position in the woods South West of the village, supported by the 2nd Anti-tank battalion. The Soviets proved difficult to dislodge and considerable time and effort were spent driving them from the woods so that PanGermania could approach the hills East of the road.

The fight for the hill north west of the bridge intensified as 4th Panzer Grandier Regiment, along with 1st Panzer Recon, engaged in a tug of war with the Soviet 4th and 6th Rifle Regiments.

Blavatsky's artillery badly mauled the recon battalion. German crews were forced to abandon many vehicles burning on the battlefield with the hopes that they could salvage what they could when the fighting ended. Meanwhile, 4th Panzer Grenadier fought on, doing its best to hold the hill against assaults to it's front and right flank.

Some unpleasantness for 4th PanzerGrenadier Regiment.

Their luck ran out and 4th Panzer Grenadier, under weight of increasing casualties was forced from the field, with 2nd Panzer attempting to capture the hill and cover their withdrawal. The Soviets made repeated efforts for the hills east of the road, with little to show for their effort, staved off by 5th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and the German artillery.

By nightfall, both generals had exhausted the troops under their command, and the fight for the hills had ended indecisively with no one controlling the North West hill and the Soviet Pioneer battalion precariously holding the hills East of the road with 5th Panzer Grenadiers threatening.

Campaign Notes

A nail biter with PanGermania reaching exhaustion first in turn 12. The Soviets tried to capture the NW hill and end it in turn 13, but German artillery fire cleared them from the hill, which coincidentally triggered exhaustion for the Soviets. At the end of the 13th turn both sides had reached exhaustion.

Both sides took severe damage with the Germans losing 9 SP and the Soviets losing 10 SP. Those numbers are prior to recovery - they will automatically regain 1/3 and lose 1/3 permanently.

I fought this battle Friday morning and I'm still not sure how to proceed.

As I see it, I have three main options.

Option 1: Leave the forces where they are on the campaign map with neither unit able to move next turn. Then fight the battle again with the now reduced forces. This seems realistic enough but it concerns me from a long term campaign perspective. It's only day two. I'd hate for one of these units to kneecapped on the third day.

Option 2: Both sides are forced to withdraw away from each other / towards their baselines, as if they lost, on the campaign map. Next turn they can move normally. Since they withdraw two spaces if they lose, they wouldn't be able to fight each other right away. This feels gamey but preserves both forces a little longer.

Option 3: Fight the local battles for the two hills - one between 5th Panzer Grenadier and the Soviet Pioneer battalion and one between 2nd Panzer and the 6th Rifle Regiment.

My thought for the 3rd option is to zoom in a bit, and fight two battles, with maybe a single battalion with support for each side (say, using One Hour Wargames force lists and even an appropriate OHW scenario). I am not sure how or if I would count losses towards the campaign -  not a huge fan of carrying fractional Strength Points forward. 

And, in the event of a split decision, I'm not sure what that would mean for the campaign map - it'd be the same situation. 

It's OK if the Germans get stuck here trying to break through of course. So, if the goal is only to see who ends up controlling the hills/campaign map space perhaps either of the first two make more sense?

Friday, September 3, 2021

Fictional Citadel : July 6, 1943 PanGermania clashes with the 3rd Soviet Guard Rifle Division

General Blavatsky  (2nd SGRD) was eager to chase the German 1st Panzer Grenadiers but his superiors ordered his move northward to support Gurdjieff's 3rd Soviet Guard Rifle Division which was maneuvering to engage PanGermania but now found itself flanked by Phantom division. 

Map positions after movement phase of Campaign Turn 2

Soviet General Gurdjieff set the objective for 3rd Soviet Guard Rifle Division (SGRD) to deny access to the Germans to the fork in the main road leading north from Cherkasskoye and further into the Soviet Union. 

Unbeknownst to him, General Fichte (PanGermania), with his sights set on Berezovka and Systeveo, had decided to concentrate on capturing the fork as well, with particular emphasis on the NW roadway, thereby setting the two divisions on a collision course.

Map of Battlefield


7th Rifle Regiment advanced using the woods for cover.

3rd SGRD’s 7th Rifle Regiment saw worst fighting of the day - after leading the advance they faced off against the majority of PanGermania’s force over the course of the fighting. Repeated attacks by 1st Recon, 1st Panzer, 1st StuG and 1st Panzer Grenadier left the regiment battered. Gurdjieff’s insistence at sending the artillery forward with 7th RR proved to be disastrous - PanGermania’s recon battalion easily overran their position behind the hills, once 7th RR was driven from the field.

1st Recon Battalion captured the fork and opened fire on 7th Rifle Regiment.

Once again, the part of StuG battalion is being played by a Solido Jagdpanther .

The 8th and 9th Rifle Regiments fared better, but marginally.
8th Rifle Regiment is on the hill to the Soviet left, and 9th is to the right of the bridge.

3rd AT battalion advanced to join 8th Rifle Regiment on the hill east of the PanGermania positions. There they would harass if not actually cause damage to 1st Panzer Grenadier.

Significant losses on the day forced Gurdjieff to retire his force eastward beyond the hills. Fichte’s division secured the NW road and PanGermania’s fusiliers and grenadiers moved out under protection of the division’s tanks and StuGs.

The Soviets reached exhaustion and could not longer afford to advance to try and capture the fork. Hopelessly outgunned by the more mobile Germans, there was little reason to continue the fight here.

A view of the retreat from behind the Soviet line.

Campaign Notes

Once again, the battlefield map was generated using Bob Cordery's Terrain Generator V2.

Both sides had different plans that I diced between. To my surprise both  ended up concerned only with the fork in the road.

I became fixated on the idea of getting the Soviet artillery behind the hills for their firing position. This was unnecessary given their range. Although I use a a house rule that requires a an artillery target be within 3 spaces of a friendly unit, with their range they could have used the woods on their side of the river for cover and left it at that. Instead they were destroyed. Lesson learned.

I Nerfed the armored car and preferred the result - they roll 3 dice to hit, but still can only inflict one SP loss at best.

The Soviets inflicted a total loss of 1 SP (to 1st Panzer Grenadier, which they got back) while losing a total of 9 SP, including the entire 7th Rifle Regiment and 3rd Artillery Battery. They got 4 SP (3 automatically and 1diced-for), with 2 SP going to the hospital. They lost 3 SP outright. 

Next up, Phantom Division vs. 2nd Soviet Guard Rifle Division

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Italy Acquires Machine Guns from England!

The Italian forces mobilized against the Austro-Hungarian Empire have received shipments of Vickers machine guns from their English allies.

The new guns, manufactured by the North Yorkshire firm of Irregular, are being distributed across the front to supplement the Italian-made Fiat-Revelli models which have been in short supply.

This is the Irregular Miniatures British HMG & 2 crew with Adrian helmeted heads from their Empire multi-part figures line.

My sloppy painting job aside, I am very happy with these models and plan to purchase at least one more set.

They are a touch smaller than I anticipated. While they match very well with the Waterloo 1815 Bersaglierri figures, like those, these are slight compared to Armies in Plastic. When you see the Austrian MG next to their AiP fellows, you will notice the difference.

It also means the heads from the multi-part figure line are less useful for swaps, at least with the AiP bodies.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Fictional Citadel: July 5, 1943

On July 5th, 1943, three German divisions pressed onward into the Soviet Union with the goal of reaching the Kursk salient. It was arguably a small force for the task, but intelligence suggested the region was only lightly defended.

In the pre-dawn hours, General Fichte’s PanGermania Division advanced with Phantom Division under General Feuerbach to their right. At Butovo, PanGermania's 1st Fusiliers, supported by the division's recon battalion and panzer regiment encountered resistance from the 2nd Rifle Regiment of the 1st  Soviet Guard Rifle Division (SGRD), commanded by General Novikov.

With their artillery tied up engaging Phantom division, 2nd Rifle Regiment fought essentially without support. As the defenders were being forced from the town, PanGermania's 1st Panzer Grenadier Regiment, supported by the division's artillery cleared out the 1st Rifle Regiment from their defensive positions in front of Cherkasskoye. The 1st SGRD's AT battalion and engineers were not enough to hold off the advance as the two halves of PanGermania combined to press forward.

The Jagdpanther is filling in for my lack of 1/50th StuG

The huge minefield to the West narrowed the frontage 1st Soviet Guard Rifle Division was forced to defend. But it had no effect on the German artillery.

General Feuerbach ’s Phantom Division engaged the remaining elements of 1st SGRD that had been protecting that unit's flank. Quickly pressing past the Soviet's recon company, the advance was delayed by the Soviet 3rd Rifle Regiment which valiantly defended its position. Although eventually they and the artillery were forced back, it was not without significant casualties to the 4th Panzer Grenadier Regiment.

After seven hours of hard fighting, General Novikov ordered his troops to fall back.

In the aftermath, as PanGermania pressed forward, Phantom Division was forced to halt their own advance due to vehicle congestion on the limited roadways.

East of Phantom Division, General Schopenhauer’s 1st Panzer Grenadier Division clashed with the 2nd Soviet Guard Rifle Division, led by General Blavatsky. Blavatsky's troops held fortified hilltop positions and presented an outsized challenge for the attackers.

From their height beyond the river, the Soviet 2nd Artillery Regiment bombarded the advancing Germans with stunning accuracy. Stiff resistance from the entrenched rifle units with additional support from 2nd Recon company resulted in a general mauling of the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Grenadier Regiments before Schopenhauer ordered his units to fall back to regroup.

Campaign Notes:

  • PanGermania - Starting SP: 29. Now 28. 0 in the hospital.
  • 1st Panzer Grenadier Division - Starting SP: 22. Now 16. 1 in the hospital.
  • Phantom Division - Starting SP:27. Now 25. 0 in the hospital.
  • 1st Soviet Guard Rifle Division - Starting SP 25. Now 17. 1 in the hospital.
  • 2nd Soviet Guard Rifle Division - Starting SP 25. Now 25. 0 in hospital.

All of the games lasted 7 turns. That was probably a coincidence but I found it interesting.

One note, I am not using the standard initiative rules for The Portable Wargame. Instead, I am pulling out the cards as per the solo mode, but instead keep them in separate decks. The sides dice for initiative and then the winner draws from their card deck. Artillery attacks are simultaneous before the dice are rolled and count against the number of units that may move according to each side's card. 

In this way I can more easily track turns (I'm treating each one as an hour, and limiting fighting to 12 turns max generally) and maintain the IGO-UGO system which I think makes more sense with the simultaneous artillery fire.

Armored cars / scout cars with their machine guns are devastating against infantry. I have been counting each roll of 5+ on the three dice as a hit. I think I may change that to "if one or more of the dice is 5+ then a single hit is scored".

Final Map Positions at the end of Turn 1:

Monday, August 30, 2021

Fictional Citadel: A Portable Wargame Campaign

This weekend I kicked off a map based campaign for The Portable Wargame which for lack of a better one I'm calling Fictional Citadel.  The first battles have been fought, but before I post those, I thought I'd share a little of the campaign game itself.

The map is based on the one provided by Flames of War on their Axis of Attack : Kursk page, I created a simple campaign grid map by drawing on top of their map, using Google Draw. Mine is stylized, has some extra towns without names, and dispenses with the movement tracks as it's not a ladder campaign:

Much of the map detail isn't used for its specifics, but rather, with Bob Cordery's terrain generator v2 to produce the tabletop battlefield map. I assume generally hilly terrain for the most part.

The Germans have three divisions: PanGermania (based on Grossdeutschland Division), Phantom (based on the 11th Panzer "Ghost" Division), and 1st Panzer Grenadier (any resemblance to an actual unit by that name is purely coincidental). The names of the subunits probably don't make sense - that's OK.

PanGermania - General Fichte@6SP, DivHQ@2SP,1st Panzer Regiment@3SP, 1st PzGren Regiment@4SP, 1st Fusilier Regiment@4SP, 1st Pioneer Battalion@2SP, 1st Recon Battalion@2SP, 1st PanzerJaeger Battalion@2SP, 1st StuG Battalion@2SP, 1st Artillery Battery@2SP : total 29SP

1st Panzer Grenadier Division - General Schopenhauer@6SP, DivHQ@2SP,
2nd PzGren Regiment@4SP, 3rd PzGren Regiment@4SP, 2nd Pioneer Battalion@2SP, 2nd PanzerJaeger Battalion@2SP, 2nd Artillery Battalion@2SP: total 22SP

Phantom Division - General Feuerbach@6SP, DivHQ@2SP, 2nd Panzer Regiment@3SP, 4th PzGren Regiment@4SP, 5th PzGren Regiment@4SP, 1st Panzer Engineer Battalion@2SP, 1st Panzer Recon Battalion@2SP, 3rd PanzerJaeger Battalion@2SP, 1st Panzer Artillery Battery@2SP: total 27SP

The Soviets have four divisions: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Soviet Guard Rifle Regiments (SGRD) and 1st Tank Corps (these are copied wholesale from posts by Bob Cordery).

1st Soviet Guard Rifle Division - General Novikov@6SP, 1st Rifle Regiment@4SP, 2nd Rifle Regiment@4SP, 3rd Rifle Regiment@4SP, 1st Antitank Battalion@2SP, 1st Artillery Regiment@2SP, 1st Sapper Battalion@2SP, 1st Recon Company@1SP: total 25SP

2nd Soviet Guard Rifle Division - General Blavatsky@6SP, 4th Rifle Regiment@4SP, 5thRifle Regiment@4SP, 6th Rifle Regiment@4SP, 2nd Antitank Battalion@2SP, 2nd Artillery Regiment@2SP, 2nd Sapper Battalion@2SP, 2nd Recon Company@1SP: total 25SP

3rd Soviet Guard Rifle Division - General Gurdjieff@6SP, 7th Rifle Regiment@4SP, 8th Rifle Regiment@4SP, 9th Rifle Regiment@4SP, 3rd Antitank Battalion@2SP, 3rd Artillery Regiment@2SP, 3rd Sapper Battalion@2SP, 3rd Recon Company@1SP: total 25SP

1st Tank Corps - Division Commander Ouspensky@6SP, 1st ARmored Car Regiment@2SP, 1st Tank Brigade@3SP, 2nd Tank Brigade@3SP, 3rd Tank Brigade@3SP, 10th Motor Rifle Regiment@4SP : total 21 SP

The Soviets start with four divisions because I fully expect 1st SGRD to take a severe beating as they have to split their force between two German units.

The campaign begins on July 5, 1943, The Germans start in positions dictated by the Flames of War map to make the first conflicts occur in the same places. The Soviets 1st and 2nd SGRD were placed to in the same fashion. 3rd SGRD and 1st Tank were randomly placed by the roll of dice.

The grass seems to have gotten greener on this map!

Units in spaces that share a side engage in at tabletop battle. For 1st SGRD that meant splitting its forces between two different German divisions.

The Campaign Turn rules are simple but allow me to have losses matter going forward in the campaign.

I present it here in a summary form for those who might find it useful. It is however, a work in progress even as I use it. The rules make use of "the hospital" concept, whereby some casualties may end up in a hospital where their exact fate is undetermined until diced for at a later time.

The campaign turn in this campaign represents one day.

Campaign Turn

Resupply Phase - Units may attempt to recover lost strength points from "the hospital". Some units may be eligible for additional SP recovery. Each unit has its own hospital - they are not shared.

For each SP in the hospital roll 1d6. On a 1-2 the SP is lost, 3-4 it stays in the hospital, 5+ it is returned to the unit to be assigned to a sub-unit.

Units on their baseline receive 1 additional SP.

Soviet Units in a space with a rail line, and no German unit on the same line between the Soviet unit and the Soviet baseline, receive 1 additional SP and a +1 to the hospital die rolls that turn.

Soviet Units in a space with a road that can trace their way to their baseline with a path that does not enter a space occupied by a German unit receives +1 to the hospital die rolls that turn. This cannot be combined with the bonus for rail lines.

No subunit may ever increase its SP beyond what it started the campaign with.

Movement Phase - Sides dice for initiative, then alternate moving units, winner moves first. Units move 1 space through the sides of the square. Units may move diagonally between spaces connected by a road. A unit that has reached its exhaustion point or below may only move in a way that does not decrease its distance to the nearest enemy and may not advance towards the enemy baseline.

Battle Phase - any enemy units in spaces sharing a side may engage in a tabletop battle. Units facing more than one enemy divide their force. No battle may feature more than 6 units per side.

Post-Battle Withdrawal Phase - When a unit loses a battle it must retreat two spaces. The winner may advance into the space vacated by the loser.

Post-Battle Recovery Phase - SP lost during a battle are possibly recovered: 1/3 automatically recovered, 1/3 diced for (1-2 lost, 3-4 goes to hospital, 5-6 returns to unit.), 1/3 are lost. Recovered SP can only be distributed to sub-units that have less SP than they started the campaign with.

Second Movement Phase - Any unit that did not engage in a battle may move again as per the Movement Phase.
Second Resupply Phase - Any unit that neither moves nor engages in a battle may regain SP as dictated under the Resupply Phase

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Italy Sends Bersaglieri to the Line!

Although greatly under strength, the Italian Bersaglieri prepare to square off against their Austrian foes!

The officer gets fancier black leather shoes.

These Waterloo 1815 figures painted up fairly quickly by my standard.

I attribute this to two things. One, there is an overall lack of kit with these figures - akin to Airfix WWII Soviets. The  other reason is that I discovered that if I take a little more time with each step, there is less need to go back and fix errors. Not no need mind you, but far less need. Who knew?

Sadly, there was some peeling when I removed the figures from their painting bases which you can see in the picture.

I will seal the bases with PVA and regloss the bases once I settle on what the final actual basing will be.

At present, I am leaning towards individual figures on the same size bases I use for my Great Game armies (I don't recall the size, so hopefully I have the order receipt from Litko so I can order more!). Trench Hammer works equally well either way, and H.M.G. which I would like to try, by default uses individually-based figures.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

More Portable Wargame and Campaign Thoughts

For giggles, I broke out my 1/50 or thereabouts armor and played an inaugural game on my 5" grid cloth - a replay of Tabletop Teaser #3. It was also the first appearance in a game ever of my Churchill (lend-lease, like the jeep).

Overview of the armies arriving.

So many Soviet infantry yet there were not able to hold off the Germans.

Oh what's this? Another lend-lease vehicle.

Germans hold off the final Soviet push for the town.

The Germans held the bridge and the town quite securely at game's end.

I used the card activation method described in The Portable Wargame (PW) which made for an interesting piecemeal arrival on the table and having to choose whether to bring on a new unit or press home with those on the table.

Satisfied with the 5" grid (and I still have the 6" grid) and The Portable Wargame generally (although I still think shooting should be prior to movement and I may tinker a bit), I turned my thoughts to a possible mini-campaign - a fictionalized Operation Citadel. 

I was inspired by Bob Cordery's most recent approach to his Great Patriotic War campaign (the Red Flags & Iron Crosses campaign).  I want to use PW to play it out but it occurred to me that if the units are regiments then the ranges in The Portable Wargame are way too long.

So I tried a game where only artillery has any ranged attack. It resulted, perhaps not surprisingly, in something of a scrum. For one, there may have been too many units on the table for using full strength points (because I like the idea of tracking SP through the campaign although it can be done with the two hit variety the more I think about it) and for another, if everything has to close for combat, well, eventually it's a pileup.

I reset everything and played again but with the regular PW rules and it was much more enjoyable even if it stretched credulity. I may retry the adjacent space only rules with some slight modification, but I may not. It's toy soldiers after all, not a detailed simulation. I also may limit how many units a division can field in any given battle - to prevent too much crowding.

The pictures below show the PanGermania Division in battle against elements of the 1st Soviet Guard Rifle Division (the remainder of the Soviet division I reasoned was otherwise engaged - a test of an idea for how I'd start my imagined campaign). The grid uses 5" squares.

1st Fusiliers regiment , 1st Panzer regiment, and 1st Assault Gun battalion, approach as members of the Soviet AT battalion reconsider their life choices. (Vehicles in a multitude of scales)

The Germans reach Cherkasskoye as they hit their exhaustion point. The Soviets are in no condition to maintain fighting and fall back.