Saturday, 14 May 2011

The hunt for Big Bertha

Before I re-post this, it was taken down after a complaint was received that I had infringed copyright. Copy of email:

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The Blogger Team

Now I checked the URL against the database and I could not find the notice. I then searched through the lists of notices manually, and could not find the notice.....................

The only thing I can think of was the picture of sauerkraut. I have removed this, and wish to apologise if I infringed anybodies rights.

Everything else is either a photograph taken by me, or a short account of a battle, written by me.


This actually relates to a World War One skirmish game in 28mm fought on Wednesday, and kindly laid on by my good secret wargaming friend, and not an article about one of his old flames...............................

The story starts in 1914...

Sir Hugh Dorien-Grenock was tucking into dinner, the starter was his favourite - ham and pea soup, soon to be followed by numerous snorkers (good oh!).


The sudden, loud crashing sound caused such a stir in Sir Hugh's body that his monocle promptly splashed headlong into the soup.

His servant, who was stood in the dining room, rushed over with a spare napkin to rescue his master.

" What on earth is that racket " Sir Hugh said, obviously startled and still fishing for his monocle amongst the ham and peas in his bowl "

" Big Bertha, Sir " his man servant replied

" The new cook? " enquired Sir Hugh, triumphant in finally finding his monocle

" No Sir, the German ordnance piece that has been causing havoc at various Brigade Headquarters, it seems that it is now our turn " replied the servant.

" Damn poor show Brown, Damn poor show - go and get Colonel Warner, I simply cannot function if my dinner is disturbed, and pour me a large glass of port before you go "

This was the premise of the wargame, I had to find and locate Big Bertha, suspected to be a large mortar that was shelling my Brigade headquarters.

For the task, I had some old friends and some shiny new models - the paint barely dry.

I was the British, my secret wargaming friend, as ever, the Germans.

Now, I need to put the record straight, my secret wargaming friend is a bit concerned that due to my previous post, he has been teased about his penchant for sausages, and he has requested that I put the record straight:

My secret wargaming friend does indeed like sausages, but they are not the only food he enjoys, for example, he likes sauerkraut too. I hope this puts the matter finally to rest.

The wargame:

I had a strong force - four big men, each leading a section of troops:

2 x Infantry Sections
1 x Cavalry troop

2 x Infantry Sections

The Wargames table

I have to admit to being a little suspicious. I was given a strong force with some high value Big men. I had no doubt that my sneaky secret wargaming friend had some tricks up his sleeve. Sneaky git!

The Shiny new lancers

My secret wargaming friend thinks I am a cautious commander. To keep him on his toes, I decided to change my tactics:

I elected to be very aggressive in this battle, the terrain was against me and I had no intelligence on the enemy forces I would encounter. I decided to use the lancers and my French troops to dash toward a farm on the other side of a ridge. The French crossing the land and climbing the hills, the lancers speeding down the road.

I would keep my British sections back to exploit any weakness in the enemy defence line. My plan almost paid off, almost.

Now you may call me stupid, but there was method in my madness at sending the Lancers down the main road, I hoped their speed would keep them out of trouble, and it did, until they ran into a hidden machine gun nest and an even more hidden sniper. The lancers were trapped in a lethal crossfire, and for the first time, I lost a Big Man in battle. RIP Capt Carruthers.

The sneaky machine gun team - just not cricket

The even sneakier sniper

For those readers who note the helmet of the sniper - I remind you this is grass roots wargaming, so please look past the headgear and pretend the soldier was field testing some new kit.

Meanwhile, the French units had crested the hill and were coming down the other side. Causing must consternation to the German forces (although I was unaware of this panic at the time).

They ran smack bang into a German Jaeger section, conveniently hidden behind a wooden fence.

Sneaky Jaegers - can you see a pattern forming?

The redoubtable French, once again the best of the allied troops

There began a long range exchange of fire between the two sections. The second French unit winding its way along the reverse of the ridge, to the cover of some woods, and (unbeknown to me), too close for comfort to the Big Bertha team.

Big Bertha - the mortar

I decided to bring the British sections on and they made quick progress along the road. In the meantime, the surviving lancers dismounted and eventually killed the sniper (revenge!).

The French section in the centre started to close, but were held up by the machine gun team and another German section.

The British infantry were too far away to capture the mortar as the game ended. A German tactical victory.

So close, yet so far. If only I had brought the British Infantry on a couple of turns earlier. Things may have been very different.

Another smashing evening.

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse - part 1

I took this Battle from a set of wargames rules I have for Age of Reason warfare. Strangely the rules are called " Age of Reason " - click here for ruleset website

The battle took place at around noon on 15th March 1781 and was a pre-cursor to the British surrender at Yorktown later that same year.

I chose the battle because it is eminently playable as a solo battle (my secret wargaming friend was unavailable to fight this one).

I used a set of computer moderated rules called " Carnage and Glory II " - click here for the website (perhaps that is why he was unavailable?).

Me and my secret wargaming friend seem to have endless debates about the use of computer moderated rules for wargaming, I see that they have a use for certain games, for example a large battle, and certainly for naval wargames where you would have to role numerous dice for aiming, hits, penetration of armour and damage.

My secret wargaming friend (when in a good mood) will concede these points, but always reverts back to " I miss the rolling of dice "...............

I also like the rolling of dice, and use a number of rule sets that I believe give me the flavour of the period, balancing that against being able to finish a game in an evening.

I do not think it should be a case of one or the other, more of mix and match..............

Anyway, back to the wargame. This was the first time I have used these rules, so I was also play testing them.

I like them.

The starting positions and map - taken from the Age of Reason scenario book.

My version of Guilford Courthouse - Ah come on, use your imagination!

The actual wargames table

The initial order of battle - Carnage and Glory does this for you once you have inputted the required data.

What you see below are the Commanders and commands, the unit name (the numbers in brackets identifies the unit on the table), the number of casualties, the actual number of troops. Read the letters like your old school reports:
A+ = Excellent troop quality
E = Very poor troop quality indeed

and finally, the current formation. You can add the firearm/weapon and other details if you wish, or indeed simplify the whole report.


Army Charles, Earl Cornwallis
[ 101] Lieutenant General Charles, Earl Cornwallis - Active B+

Brigade Webster
[ 102] Lieutenant General Webster - Active B
[ 101] 2nd Guards 0/ 300 B Formed Three Rank Line
[ 102] 23rd Foot 0/ 225 B- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 103] 33rd Foot 0/ 300 B- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 104] Jaegers 0/ 150 C Formed Open Order

Brigade Leslie
[ 103] Lieutenant General Leslie - Active B
[ 105] Foot Artillery Battery 0/ 200 [ 8] C- Formed Deployed
[ 106] 71st Highlanders 0/ 300 B- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 107] Von Bose Regiment 0/ 300 C- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 108] 1st Guards 0/ 300 B Formed Three Rank Line
[ 109] Tarletons Cavalry 0/ 200 C- Formed Two Rank Line

0/ 1875 Bayonets
0/ 200 Sabres
0/ 200 Artillerists
0/ 8 Cannon

0/ 2275 Total of all arms
6 Standards present


Army Nathaniel Greene
[ 201] Major General Nathaniel Greene - Active B+

Brigade Butler
[ 202] Brigadier General Butler - Active B-
[ 208] Light Infantry 0/ 300 C- Formed Open Order
[ 209] Washingtons Cavalry 0/ 150 C- Formed Two Rank Line
[ 210] 1st North Carolina Militia 0/ 375 E+ Formed Open Order
[ 211] 2nd Artillery Battery 0/ 200 [ 8] C- Formed Deployed
[ 212] 2nd North Carolina Militia 0/ 300 D- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 213] 3rd North Carolina Militia 0/ 300 D Formed Three Rank Line
[ 214] Virginia Rifles 0/ 375 D+ Formed Open Order

Brigade Lawson
[ 203] Brigadier General Lawson - Active B
[ 206] 1st Virginia Militia 0/ 400 E+ Formed Three Rank Line
[ 207] 2nd Virginia Militia 0/ 400 E+ Formed Three Rank Line

Brigade Huger
[ 204] Brigadier General Huger - Active B+
[ 201] 2nd Maryland Continentals 0/ 375 [ 1] C- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 202] 1st Maryland Continentals 0/ 375 C- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 203] 1st Artillery Battery 0/ 200 [ 8] C- Formed Deployed
[ 204] 4th Virgiinia Continentals 0/ 375 C- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 205] 3rd Virginia Continentals 0/ 375 C- Formed Three Rank Line

0/ 3950 Bayonets
0/ 150 Sabres
0/ 400 Artillerists
0/ 17 Cannon

0/ 4500 Total of all arms
10 Standards present

You will no doubt note that both sides have been given far more artillery than was actually present at the battle - this is an error, I seemed to have added howitzers to the units during the set up phase - goes to show that play testing is always necessary! (Doh).

Each turn represents 15 minutes of actual time. One thing I have learned is that fatigue and moral are major factors in this rule set. You have to think about this during the battle, and quickly prevents (even the most competent unit) from charging around the battle field 'willy nilly'.

Now, being a solo wargame, I had to come up with how the American units would respond to events, and also a fair way of maneuvering the British. I decided that the American commander had ordered each of the three defence lines to hold their positions, firing on the nearest enemy unit that was a direct threat to them.

The CinC of the Americans was deemed unable to see large parts of the battlefield so would not directly intervene unless a message was received. Any intervention would then be subject of a dice role (for old time sakes!!!).

Any requests for support would be made using the Carnage and Glory order system.

The British system was similar, except that each Brigade was given initial attack orders, and these could only be modified using the orders system.

I have to say this worked really well, for example, the American first line commander Major General BUTLER found his command under a vicious assault by the veteran British troops and his flanks quickly began to crumble. This was within the first fifteen minutes of the battle.

He requested urgent support and sent a despatch rider to Nathaniel GREENE. In the meantime, BUTLER rode from one unit to another in a desperate attempt to keep their moral up.

The dispatch rider arrived an hour and a quarter later at the American Army HQ. GREENE (after a dice role) decided not to reinforce BUTLER.

This was a fortuitous dice role, because any despatched unit would have found itself isolated, by this time the complete front line had collapsed and BUTLER found himself prisoner of the British.

Washingtons Cavalry facing up to the Elite 33rd Regiment of foot

So, this part describes, broadly the concept and rules. Part two will describe the actual events of the battle.

Friday, 13 May 2011

More battles to report

Two new after action reports are on their way:
1 - A 15mm AWI game based on the Battle of Guilford Courthouse 1781
2 - Another WW1 skirmish in 28mm

Stayed tuned

Friday, 6 May 2011

World War One - on the western front

My secret wargaming friend put on a visual wargaming feast in 28mm the other day.

A World War One skirmish.

The game was run using the Two Fat Lardies rules called Through the mud and the blood, it was an absolute blast.

I played the Allies - and I had both British and French troops under my command.

My secret wargaming friend played the Germans - he likes sausages.

Speaking of such, the day was kicked off with a fresh bacon, sausage and egg sandwich followed by lashings of hot tea - could the day get any better you may ask?

"Why yes, yes it did..............."

The British platoon.

The scenario was based on the early part of 1914 and two groups of foraging parties met whilst out foraging. The winner would be decided by how many supplies you managed to obtain during the encounter.

Part of the German foraging party - clearly intent
on seizing as many garlic sausages as they can find....

They too had machine guns......................

An overview of the battlefield - my friend has scratch built
all of the buildings - flash git!

A view from the Allied approach route

The Farmyard - this would be a significant place during
the battle

The game has 'blinds' and not the Venetian type either. In effect it is a very well run section of the rules allowing for 'hidden movement' of sorts - I liked this a lot.

In effect I charged my British sections towards the centre of the table (and the farmyard). and moved my French units to protect the left flank and large storage warehouse, much to the annoyance of my Central Powers foe.

Looking toward the route of the British advance
to the centre.

The nice thing about the 'blinds' (hidden movement) is that my secret wargaming friend knows what a devious bugger I can be, and was not really sure of where my actual advance was, and where my bluff (if I was bluffing) was coming from.

He of course did the same, but in a more efficient and organized German way.

Battle was soon joined at the farm. My British troops had moved quickly into the farm building, one section searching for the supplies, the other section covering from a nearby wooden fence. Almost at the same time, the French had taken up their defensive positions behind a stone wall.

The French in position behind the wall. Their bravery
and solid courage saved the day.

The German main thrust was in the centre (two sections and a machine gun toward the farm), and two sections and a machine gun moving toward the warehouse (guarded by the French).

My secret wargaming friend knew I had 'units' in that location, but did not know if they were actual troops or a bluff. He could not even throw to spot them at this stage. He continued with his plan, but his attack in the centre became pinned down by the British covering platoon and the threat of a machine gun.

The covering British platoon and threatening machine
gun team covering the British right flank

The German centre found itself pinned behind the
Farm building and never really made an effective
impact on the battle.

An ill fated German charge round the corner was short lived.

The German loses started to build. At this point I was quite confident, although a little nervous about which French army had turned up on the day.........................

The Central Powers right flank attack forming before advance

My secret wargaming friend pressed on with his right flank attack and came slap bang into the French firing line. Luckily for me the rufty tufty French had turned up. Despite fearsome losses, they held there ground and drove the German troops back to cover - causing heavy casualties.

These guys were clearly rufty tufty - thankfully.....

The German advance had stalled at both the Farmhouse in the centre, and also on the left flank. The only option was to try and salvage the game by moving troops from the centre to try and outflank the British. Unfortunately for the Germans, Herr Von LEESOW was the only officer available - and he certainly liked his sausages, but was, as a result, a little rotund and unfit.

This was borne out by the movement dice thrown by my opponent - Von LEESOWES section moved very slowly indeed and failed to outflank the British - particularly when they ran (or shall I say walked) into the sights of the British machine gun team.

Part of the scenario was the requirement to transport the supplies from the front back to the HQ. A truck was need for this. Luckily, there was one on the table. However, it was separated by open road and a large group of grumpy Germans.

Four volunteers, volunteered and ran the deadly gauntlet..........................

The Mad dash to the truck. Shortly after this photograph
was taken two of the men lay mortally wounded.

Despite the casualties and withering gunfire, two men made it to the truck.

It was at this point my good friend conceded defeat and the game was at an end.

Excellent models and terrain, good company and food and brilliant rules.

What a fine day!