Baltic Diversions

Taking advantage of a long weekend Andrew and I decided to deploy our forces for another Modern Spearhead encounter on Saturday, set as often the case set in 1982. Well in advance we started planning for the scenario. With Andrew opting to field a Soviet force I would field either my West Germans or French. After changing my mind a few times I opted for the French.

As regular readers know we use a Scenario Generation System to balance our Modern Spearhead games. Part of the Scenario System is a points process that helps balance the various scenario elements. As the French AMX-30 tanks and AMX-10P combat teams are expensive, especially when NATO command and control is considered, hard choices must be made. I decided to take considerable artillery assets which I hoped would allow French to win the artillery war. Then as the ground attack gained momentum French fixed wing air assets wold deliver critical blows against Soviet counter-attacks.

Now, I was expecting to deploy against conventional Soviet forces, though likely operating older equipment, such as T-55s. To my surprise Andrew had been painting and opted for a Soviet Naval Infantry force. So while he fielded a few T-55s there were more PT-76s supporting his BTRs with a range of naval aircraft and helicopters.

The result was an encounter on the NATO Baltic flank. Following the landings of Soviet Naval Infantry on the Denmark coast Western forces moved rapidly to prevent the expansion of the Soviet beachhead. Electronic warfare, SAM suppression, counter-battery fires, deep flank marches, dramatic road dashes and air support were some of the significant events in the unfolding action as French forces pressed their attacks while Soviet forces attempted to consolidate their initial gains. A report of the action, supported by a series of photos, can be found here.

Conquest Thoughts

Over the weekend several locals and and four visitors gathered for a DBA competition held as part of the larger Conquest convention. As always I’m appreciative of all the organising that goes on behind the scene. Organising venues, gathering registration fees, organising prizes and the setup and take down of all the tables.

Generally the games being played at Conquest were the various fantasy and science fiction systems. I believe DBA was the only historical competition at the venue, attracting a number of visitors. Even more surprising was the lack of demonstration games, usually a feature of Conquest. Likely all a result of the change of venue and reduced space.

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From a DBA perspective the event was a success, at least based on player feedback. A solid ten players turned up for the first day competition that comprised six rounds of games. I must say I rather enjoy the splitting of the day into an Ancient theme followed by a Dark Age and Medieval theme as it encourages a greater mix of armies.

The second day comprised a three rounds Big Battle DBA competition. This too seemed successful though it attracted eight players rather than the previous ten. This format was a bit of an experiment, yet proved popular with all the participants.

A few photos of the DBA events, including some of the excellently presented armies can be found here.

Drive on Mantinghausen – 1982

Enthused by our last Modern Spearhead game Robin, Andrew and I penciled in our next encounter which took place, as planned, last Saturday evening.

After the relatively poor Soviet showing in our previous game I spent several hours contemplating possible Soviet force structures. We use the Scenario Generation System to generate our games and a component of this is creating a list which is modified by adding options. This time I made several changes to both the defend and attack lists creating further variety. Yet my concerns regarding my British opponent, well equipped with tanks, infantry, artillery and air assets remained.

Ideally you want a balanced force with the various components supporting each other. Of course making all this work on the battlefield is difficult. Your plan must merge these various component parts to overcome the enemy forces with due consideration to time, space and economy of force. With the Scenario Generation System there never seems to be sufficient forces, a design feature, which ensurers players must often make difficult choices on what to include and as importantly, what not to include.

As it transpired in our most recent game the Soviets were on the offensive and opted for a Hasty Attack. After significant discussion between both Soviet commanders a plan, based on limited reconnaissance, was issued to the various combat elements and the allocation of support element from division and above made. Then the Soviet forces were unleashed.

A report of this most enjoyable game, “The Drive on Mantinghausen” can be found here.

Across the Rappahannock 

There are several rule sets that are staples for me and one of these is Volley & Bayonet. I have been using these rules for something like 22 years now, yet they never disappoint. The rules capture the swirling battles of the Black Powder era and produce a narrative not unlike the historic battles of the period they represent.

The rules are ideal for refights of historical battles, of which I have organised many. However, they also work well in fictional situations. Last night’s game was no exception where with little preparation our group deployed two American Civil War armies on the table. The result was a challenging, realistic and entertaining game.

Several chilling events echoed historical precedent in our battle when two Confederate Corps clashed with three Union Corps. A series of critical attacks occurred around the “Angle”. Nearby brigades advanced through dense fields of corn, which me reminded me for a moment, of Antietam. All vivid memories of my visit to several Civil War battlefields last year.

A brief summary of the game can be found here.

Counter-Attack Near Metz

It seems we are in “Spearhead mode” at the moment. Taking advantage of a long weekend Jim and I deployed two 1944 formations for a World War II Spearhead game. The scenario found a elements of 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division undertaking a hasty attack on a defending regiment drawn from the 5th American Infantry Division.

The game highlighted many of the aspects of a well balanced scenario. The Americans were reasonably well supported but stretched in defence. A number of gaps in the American dispositions existed and with good planning could be exploited. There was room for concentration of effort with multiple battalions and supporting weapons working together.  However, the friction of battle could result in delays which needed to be avoided if the momentum of attack is to be maintained.

Indeed, in our battle the German plan got underway on time and excellent initial progress was made. First objectives were seized and follow on attacks began. However, some of the subsequent attacks took longer than planned resulting in other battalions becoming overcommitted. Now blocking troops and local counter-attacks caused problems for the German commander as the battle swung against the Germans.

A report of our engagement “Götz von Berlichingen – Advance!” can be found here.