Wednesday, July 22, 2015

GMTs Blood and Roses "1st St. Albans" 1455

Blood and Roses is the Third Volume in the "Men of Iron" Series. The first two volumes being "Men of Iron" and "Infidel".
This Volume covers battles from the Wars of the Roses. 


Setup: The King (top) is in a defensive position in the town of St. Albans supported by Buckingham, Clifford, Somerset and Northumberland.  The Duke of York (bottom) is approaching the town supported by Warwick and Salisbury. 

For this scenario I will not be using any of the variants so the lane to the right is undefended and the Yorkists have all their longbow units. 

The Protagonists:

                                  
Henry Lancaster King of England was a somewhat ineffectual King and was firmly under the control of strong minded members of his advisory body.

                                   

Richard Plantagenet Duke of York. Richards claim to the throne was legitimate through his both his parents and was technically the rightful King being a direct descendant of Edward III.  

The Initial Assault:


Salisbury's archers loose an ineffectual volley on Clifford's infantry. Salisbury subsequently orders his central infantry to advance on the bridge and force Clifford to retreat before his infantry are too badly mauled. On the left some of Salisbury's infantry cross the ditch which takes a toll on their formation. On Salisbury's right his bill-men try and force the ditch but Clifford's  defending troops hold firm and repulse the attack. 

                      


Warwick's Attack on the Shropshire Lane Bridge:
The Longbowmen lay down withering fire on Northumberland's troops and disrupt them the infantry then assault the ditch with Warwick himself leading his household troops against the bridge. The bill-men carry the center of Northumberland's position and he is killed defending the ditch. At the bridge Warwick is repulsed by Somerset and his men. 


Salisbury continues his attack on the Shropshire Lane Bridge. His longbows damage the infantry covering the ditch and he moves in with his household troops to assault. The bill-men have taken the bridge and push further down Shropshire Lane against Clifford's infantry.


Salisbury and his Men-at Arms carry the position in the orchard completely routing the infantry opposing him. His infantry once again push Clifford back  along the lane into the outskirts of St. Albans. 



The Lancastrians use a free activation to rally Northumberland's retired troops and assign a new commander to his battle. The initiative then passes back to the Yorkists. Warwick is again ordered to assault the Shropshire Lane Bridge.


Warwick and his household troops are held at the ditch. His infantry attacking from front and flank push Somerset back along Shropshire Lane toward the town. 
Salisbury is now called upon to renew his attack on the left flank. 


Salisbury attempts to extend his troops bridgehead across the ditch. Fearful of the consequences of loosing some of Clifford's troops desert their posts (the treachery marker) causing the Infantry unit to become disordered.


Salisbury and his Men-at-Arms continue the advance along the orchards eliminating another infantry unit. Clifford's troops stand firm against Salisbury's infantry.


Along Shropshire Lane Somerset counterattacks as some of Warwick's troops defect (treachery counter).  

Somerset's counterattack routs (retires) Warwick's infantry and they retake their positions along the ditch. 


Failing to get a continuation the initiative passes back to the Yorkists. Warwick assaults the bridge again and his archers tear up Somerset's infantry. Once again he is repulsed and falls back before his troops take to much damage (and before he has to take a loss check). 
Once again Salisbury takes up the initiative to attack on the left.  


Salisbury's troops drive up Sopwell Lane while he and his Men-at-Arms attack Somerset.  Clifford and his troops are routed and only stop running when they reach the Kings Standard. Salisbury eliminates Somerset's troops and Somerset is killed in the melee. Salisbury continues his attack and pushes into what is left of Somerset's battle who retreat down Shropshire Lane. 

The Lancastrian Army now breaks and flees for it's life leaving the ditch defenders (well those left) to surrender to York's forces.  


"The first battle of St. Albans was but a short scuffle in a street; it lasted in all but an hour, and the number of slain and wounded was small. As in all the engagements of the Wars of the Roses, the lightly armed archers and billmen of the defeated party flung down their weapons and got off with ease, while the nobles and knights, weighted with their ponderous double-sheathing of mail and plate, could retire but slowly and were caught and cut down. Not more than 120 persons in all perished, possibly as few as sixty: of forty-eight bodies buried by the abbot only twenty-five were those of unknown common soldiers, the others were lords, knights, squires, and officers of the king's household. There was no massacre of fugitives or prisoners: the victors contented themselves with plundering the captives of their armour and their valuables; they let the common soldiers depart and held the gentlemen as hostages. The evil custom of putting to death all the men of rank who were captured, the most disgraceful characteristic of these wars, did not begin until after the battle of Wakefield, when enmities had grown far more envenomed than was yet the case. York on this occasion behaved handsomely to the prisoners; only Lord Dudley was sent to the Tower; of the rest some were merely placed in the custody of known Yorkists, others were set free, on undertaking to acquiesce in the new regime which the duke's victory had created."

The Dictionary of English History. Sidney J. Low and F. S. Pulling, eds. 
London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1910. 902-3.








Thursday, July 16, 2015

GMT's Wing Leader V04 "Penny Packets"

This is another game that has a personal connection for me. I grew up near Hornchurch in the UK and have visited the old airfield a number of times so any scenario that includes Pilots from that field is a plus.


Well here we have 74 Sqd. who flew out of Hornchurch from Feb. '39 to Sept. '40 under Sqn. Ldr. Donald Brookes. 
            http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a97/boxcar8/P2fff.jpg

For those of you who are interested in a history of this airfield;

                                        

I am privileged enough to have a copy signed by the Author and many of the pilots who served at Hornchurch from 1915 to 1959.

Okay to the Scenario:




The Protagonists: Three Squadrons of He-111 H-1 tasked bombing, escorted by a Squadron of 109-E with a further 109-E Squadron sweeping. Take on two Squadrons of Hurricanes and a Squadron of Spitfires. A second Spit. Squadron is set to arrive as reinforcements.


The Bombers and Escorts. 


The Wing Display: RAF to the left and Luftwaffe to the right. The sweep squadron has the experte. I realized after I took this picture that Squadrons S and T were missing their bomb task. 
Strengths; the RAF have the numbers in terms of fighters. The Germans have the height and skill advantage. An as I have found out it is a tough prospect taking down a 4-5 protection bomber with FP-1.  

Turn 1: 


17 Squadron manage, with the aid of GCI,  to tally the lead He-111 Squadron of the formation and start a hard climb to altitude. Fortunately they get an angle that will pass through only 1 Broken cloud allowing them to maintain LOS on the formation. 
601 and 74 Squadrons are also climbing to their vector points in the path of the oncoming raid. 74 Squadron is hoping to tally the Sweeping 109s and pull them into a dogfight giving the Hurricane squadrons a chance to knock out some bombers. 

Turn 2:

601 Squadron reaches it's operational altitude and begins to close on the Bomber formation and Escorts. The Real danger is the high cover sweep above it that with their veteran status should be able to tally the climbing Hurricanes next turn. 17 and 74 Squadrons are still climbing to altitude from the left and right on the scene above. 

Turn 3:

The Sweep Squadron spots the approaching Hurricanes. The Hurricanes fail to tally in return and continue toward their Vector Point. The 109s dive to the attack. They damage 1 hurricane for no loss. 601 Squadron (Hurricanes) try to avoid getting tied in a dogfight but the 109s basic speed forces the engagement. 
On a rules note this is a classic bounce situation but I am not, as yet, using the advanced rules.

                        

Contrails over London during the Battle of Britain. 


The aftermath: 601 Squadron now has one damaged aircraft and is partially scattered. Other than using up their ammo the attacking 109 squadron suffered no ill effects. 

Turn 4: 


The dogfight does not go well for 601 Squadron. The 109s Veterans lead by an Experte exploit the RAFs adherence to rigid doctrine "Vic" formations and shoot down 2 Hurricanes for no loss. Scattered and broken 601 breaks and turns for home. Although low on ammo the Sweep Squadron is still combat effective and voluntarily drops the Tally on H (601) Squadron thus defaulting to sweep and will RTB in hopes of running into the trailing Hurricanes of 17 Squadron leaving the escorts to fight off the Climbing Spitfires. Is this sound tactically .... we shall see.

                                       

Hurricanes in Rigid "Vic Formation" the two wing men are concerned with maintaining formation with the leader. Thus leading to reduced tactical flexibility. 

                               

Luftwaffe loose doctrine "schwarm" formation using a more 3D approach to combat flexibility. This was later adopted by the Allies as the "Finger Four" mainly due to combat experience in the Battle of Britain.   

Turn 5:


Tally Phase: With a successful tally of the incoming 74 Squadron's Spitfires the German Staffel Leader orders one of his flights to break and attack. In game terms using the Tactical Flexibility rule the Squadron is broken into two flights P Flight is given the tally and changes to sweep orders. The Remaining flight retains the escort order. The Tigers (74 Squadron) see the diving 109s and prepare to attack. 


Combat Phase: The diving 109s have sufficient MP (+1 for the Dive) to intercept the the Spitfires (which should be marked with a -1 Climb marker right now). 

The Attack results in a loss of two Spitfires and one 109. The 109 flight is broken and 74 Squadron is disrupted after the cohesion check. 

Current VP Tally: 4 to the Luftwaffe 1 to the RAF

Turn 6:


The Sweep Squadron Tally and attack the incoming Hurricanes of 17 Squadron. The head on pass is ineffective for both side and no losses a scored. The encounter is however sufficient to break both squadrons. 17 Squadrons fight is over for today and the sweep heads back to France. 


74 Squadron climbs into the lead bomber squadron and makes an attack (letting the broken Escort flight go). Their attack damages a bomber but their day is over as they fail a cohesion check. The bombers push past them maintaining their formation. The fate of the RAF's efforts are now invested with 313 Czech Squadron.

Turn 7: 


Tally Phase: This is not good, the Escort flight gets a Tally on 313 Squadron and  the Spitfires fail to spot the 109's preparing for attack and continue on their vectored course. 


Combat Phase: The 109s dive to the attack and shoot down one Spitfire. The Czechs fight back and down two of the attacking flight. 313 Squadron is disrupted and the veterans of the Luftwaffe flight hold their formation. Both sides choose to dogfight and the dogfight is entered. 

Turn 8 The Final Turn: 


The Bombers relentlessly continue to their target. In the dogfight the Spitfires are now superior to the 109s with a slight edge in their turning ability which nullifies the effect of rigid doctrine formations. The Czechs down one more 109 for no loss. The Escorts break and the Spits take their second cohesion hit and also break. The bombers move on unmolested.

Victory Point Tally:  

RAF: For shooting down four 109s 4VP.
Luftwaffe: Shot down 5 Fighters for 5VP and three bombers squadrons make it to their objective 18VP. 

Total: 23-4= 19VP a German victory and a bad day for the beleaguered RAF.

Reflections: So that could have gone better. Maybe seeing how high the Sweep was staying lower (below the clouds) and re-vectoring for an attack from the rear of the formation may have helped. Or even trying to get at least 2 squadrons to attack together dampening the 109's tactical flexibility. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

GMT's Wing Leader V03 "Stalingrad Airlift"

Anyone who has played CY6 with me will know that the Eastern Front is a particular area of interest to me. So of course V03 is going to draw me in.


Coming in under the dense cloud layer 2 Flights of He111 escorted by a flight of 109F-4s are about to be intercepted by 2 squadrons of Yak 1. 

The Protagonists:

1) The Yakovlev Yak-1 slightly slower than the Bf. 109F-4 but with a similar gun package.

2) The Messerschmidt Bf. 109-F4 could out-climb the Yak 1 and had better high altitude performance.


The Wing Display at Start: The Soviet interceptors are numerous but the Luftwaffe escorts have experience and skill. The bomb load markers on the He 111 flights represent transport loads (either supplies coming into or wounded going out of Stalingrad) 


A Russian Front CY6 Game using Raiden Miniatures. Me 109F-4 Vs MiG-3 and Yak-1. Played at Wolverine Con 2015.

Reference Materials: Anyone who is looking for a great read ( although a little dry at times) for information on this period of Luftwaffe history should check out.


Okay so now it's time to read what GCI does and how vectoring works. 


B-Squadron is Vectored to climb into the clouds and use a diving attack on the Bombers. A-Squadron is Vectored to close on the escorts and engage them in an attempt to cover A-Squadrons attack on the bombers. As yet no one has tallied an enemy so no combat occurs.


Yaks in formation, these are early model Yak-9 (Bubble canopy and air intake under the nose)

 

He-111 being loaded with transport canisters. (Notice the parachute on the end of the crate)

Lee, I know you have checked out this blog. If you see any major boo-boos please leave a comment. I am still absorbing the complexities on the system ..... oh and drooling over the possibility of a game that has Typhoons and Mosquitoes doing what they do best. 


Tally Phase: Despite being in the clouds (mainly because of being on the same Radio Network as GCI) B Squadron Tallies the rear He 111 Flight. The Escorts and A-Squadron tally one another and O-Flight changes tasking to Sweep. The Russian Commander signals большая карета (Tally-Ho) and the engagement is on. 


Combat Phase: The Raid player starts with the Escort fight. The Escorts are the attackers being the last to move because of their speed advantage. The 109s score 2 hits and the Yaks 1. The Diving Yaks tear into Y-Flight with 4 hits taking none in return. 


The Results: A-Flight (Yaks) lose one shot down and one damaged. A terrible result on the cohesion table (3) and they are broken, their day is over but at least they flushed off the escorts. The 109s loose one aircraft but being a flight even the one cohesion hit breaks them, the bombers are now on their own. B-Flight (Yaks) resolves 4 hits, down one and damage a second bomber. Maintaining formation and a little low on ammo they turn on the now vulnerable bombers. I considered going after the fighters but the wonderful quote for  "The Battle of Britain" movie rung home.
"Forget the fighters it's the bloody bombers we want" .... in Russian!

"Help yourself everybody there's no fighter escort"



Okay so now I have to go watch this movie again!


Move Phase: B-Squadron moves to attack the rear of the He-111 formation as A-Squadron RTB. 


Combat Results: One damaged bomber is shot down and one other is damaged. B-Squadrons formation is starting to break up as the fight continues and they are getting very low on ammo. The other 2 fighter squadrons broken markers are now on the map as a reminder to me of their status. 

                                    



Move Phase: Preparing for the final attack B-Squadron climbs.

Final Combat Phase: The Yaks us a diving hit and run attack and finish off the straggler for no damage. The Y-Flight is disrupted and B-Squadron is broken up. 

The Reckoning: 
The Luftwaffe scored 1VP for the Yak kill, 3VP for an undamaged transport exited and 2VP for the disrupted flight exited. Total=6VP
The VVS Scored 7VP for 1 Fighter and 3 Bomber Kills. 

Conclusion: -1 VP total a Soviet Victory. 


Maybe someone will be made "Hero of the Soviet Union"



Monday, July 13, 2015

GMT's Wing Leader Scenario V01 "Tyger Tyger"

I received "Wing Leader- Victories 1940-1942" by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood in the mail today and though I would share an AAR.
Before that however I have to remark on the rule-book. This easily has to be the most accessible rule book I have read to date. At first it seems intimidating weighing in at 48 pages. However once you start reading you realize this is because each page is brimming with side bar examples and designer notes. This feature makes learn as you play (my preferred method) a pleasurable breeze.
This post is in no way meant to be a review just a quick first impression.

So the first scenario:
The designer himself lets you know that this is designer to be a solo learning experience.
1) The Set Up:

2 Flights of AVG P-40B (Counters with Single Aircraft) are closing to in intercept 2 Squadrons (Counters with 2 aircraft) of Ki-21-IIa Sallys.


Relevant data about the flights  are kept on a separate wing record sheet. 


Aircraft data is from some well laid out thick cards. 


Two turns in and the P-40's have closed and tallied the bombers who are flying a pre-planned linear route to the bomb run.


The situation before the first combat. Both flights choose to make hit and run attacks on the bombers to utilize their speed advantage over the loaded bombers. On reflection I should have climbed a bit higher and dived to the attack giving a +1 speed differential.


The situation after the first combat. B Flight attacked first and forces a damaged bomber out of formation the second hit then destroys the straggler. Their formation is broken up but they suffered no losses. 
C flight attacks damaging a bomber and forcing a straggler but at the cost of one of their number shot down. 


End of movement. B-Flight is broken and scattered and has to RTB. C-Flight maintained tally and slashes once again at Y-Squadrons using a diving hit and run attack. Both bomber squadrons will reach their target next turn so this is make or break. 


Results of the second attack by C Flight. Picking off the straggler and downing another bomber. On a rules note the Ammo markers for the bombers have been removed. There is only a requirement to track ammo for Fighters and Fighter-Bombers.

Both Sally squadrons are on the final bomb run and maintaining formation so we shall see if they have been damaged enough to make a difference.

After the third attack by C-Flight generating a lone straggler (mainly because the unloaded Sallys have one extra speed) for no loss the flight is broken up and RTB. 
Final VP tally: Japanese 2VP (they downed a P40, and due to scarcity this is double vps)
                         AVG      6VP (Three downed Bombers) 
The bombers managed to hit their target and most got home. A Japanese Victory. Without the loss of a P40 it would have been a Draw. 

Time to learn and play scenario about 2 hours. Initial impression straight forward game, great rule book, massive replay-ability, components outstanding.