Saturday, July 18, 2015

Back to Karelia

Last week we played another game of Big Chain of Command. This is part of our ongoing gaming in Kareila during the Continuation War between the Soviet Union and Finland. As usual I played the Soviets, while Jeppan ran the Finns.
The scenario is set in the winter '41-'42 in the forests around Petrozavodsk.
We also playtested some house rules for linked scenarios that will, hopefully, allow us to track the imaginary careers of one infantry platoon commander and one tank platoon commander on each side. More on that below.

The Table

The table is a winter landscape with a river runnning between the long edges of the table. In the middle there is a bridge which is the main objective of the scenario.
There are also two other crossing points, a temporary pontoon bridge and a ford. The river is otherwise impassable.
There are some buildings forming a small sprawling village on both sides of the river by the main bridge. This is surrounded by mixed woods and a few hills.
We recently bought a new winter mat for our gaming table, and that really did make things look better.
The Table - Soviets to enter from the left, Finns from the right in this Picture

The Mission

Both sides has the same mission in this encounter scenario: capture the bridge. We place a marker in the centre of the bridge to indicate the objective. If either side captures the objective (as if capturing a Jump-off Point), both the other side's platoons suffer the effects of losing a Jump-Off Point. And that's pretty bad.....
Both sides enter from a long table edge, but may not approach any Patrol Marker closer than 12" from the bridge during the Patrol Phase.


Both sides had a platoon of infantry and a tank platoon. We decided to allocate the same Force Support, modified by platoon strength ratings, to both sides. We rolled a whopping 12 for Force Support so both sides had a very powerful force indeed.
The Finns fielded an infantry platoon supplemented by a Jääkeri squad of Elite infantry, a 45mm AT Gun, and an FAI armoured car. This was joined by a tank platoon of 2 T-28E and 2 BT-7 tanks. The Finn infantry was supplied with molotov cocktails and other charming devices to take on the Russki tankers....
The Soviet also had an Infantry platoon which was supported by one of the awesome T-34 tanks. The Soviet tank platoon had 3 T-28E tanks supported by a Regular infantry squad. All Soviet infantry squads had AT hand grenades (an early RPG-40, much less efficient than the ones used later, I've rated them AP Strike 3).

 Deployment and Opening Moves

The Soviets gained intiative, but rolled relatively poor command dice, so could only deploy a single tank and an infantry squad onto the table. Soviet command rolls did improve in later phases, though. So no complaints there.
Soviet ínfantry advance cautiously to the left of the bridge

The Soviets deployed the Infantry platoon to the left of the river, with the tank platoon on the right.
Finns were able to deploy more troops and the early game saw the Finns advancing rapidly down the middle towards the bridge with the tanks platoon and half the infantry platoon.

Finn tank platoon advances down the centre. Awesome paint job by Jeppan on these AFVs

At the same time the Soviets slowly ground forward, with little contact made on either side.

Soviet tankers are moving up to counter the Finn assault on the bridge.

The Finns boldly advanced a team onto the bridge to capture the objective just as a Soviet T-28 was lumbering onto the end of the bridge.
Both Soviet Platoons immediately lost 2 Morale. Not an auspicious start for the heroes of the proletariat.

The Finnish team was dangerously exposed on the bridge, but had done its job admirably. It then continued to impress by surviving point blank fire from several Soviet tanks before finally succumbing to sheer volume of fire.
Soviet tankers concentrate fire on the bold Finns on the bridge.

The Mad Minute

The climax of the battle saw action all across the front.
On the Soviet left flank, the Soviet infantry platoon advanced a squad onto the reverse slope of a small hill where it engaged in a drawn out duel with one of its Finn counterparts and also subjected to MG fire from the Finn FAI armoured car. This was to continue for quite some time with the Finns gradually wearing the Soviet squad down.
Soviet infantry and supporting T-34 face the fearsome Finn infantry

At the same time, the Soviet T-34/76, supported by fire from a Soviet T-28 across the river, engaged in an epic duel with both Finn T-28s while the two Finn BT-7s maneuvered to the flanks to attempt to fire on Soviet tanks' exposed flanks.

As the Soviet tank platoon lumbered onward with its supporting infantry squad, the Finns deployed a Senior Leader, an infantry squad and the Jääkeri on the Soviet right flank. The Finns are much more tactically flexible than the Soviets, which is historically correct. Here a fire fight between the Soviet infantry squad and the Finn infantry rapidly developed into a stalemate.
Soviet infantry lurk behind a house as the Finn Jääkeri come out of the tree line.

In the centre the Soviet tank platoon attempted to push one of the tanks over the bridge to support the lone T-34 and infantry platoon, but as the T-28 ground its way across the bridge, a Finn AT gun ambushed it from the nearby woods. The ensuing duel saw the tank damaged, but the AT gun crew was cut down by a hail of HE from 2 Soviet T-28s.
At roughly the same time, the Soviet T-34 scored a critical hit on the Finn tank platoon commander's T-28, which promptly blew up. This was very much the turning point in the game. Deprived of their platoon commander, the Finn tankers were much less effective, and to make matters worse the second Finn T-28 was also knocked out  slightly later.
Soviet T-34 scores critical hit on the Finn tank commander's vehicle and knocks it out.

End Game

The remaining two Finn BT-7s had maneuvered to the flanks, but the one on the Soviet left flank was knocked out by the T-34 after a remarkably long firefight. The Finn infantry in the centre was also starting to suffer from the concentrated fire of Soviet infantry and Soviet tanks that were now free to engage the Finn infantry.
One of the Soviet infantry squads was routed, but this was not enough to turn the tide.
At the same time, on the Soviet right flank, a Soviet T-28 moved to engage the Finn infantry, but was ambushed by a bunch of Finn infantry with molotov cocktails charging out of the forest, supported by fire from the last remaining Finn BT-7.
Remarkably, the T-28 proved impervious to this deluge of 45mm gunfire and molotov cocktails, and in return managed to knock out the BT-7.

´Very, very lucky Soviet T-28 knocks out BT-7 and repulses Finn infantry

In combination with some further Finn infantry losses, the Finns were forced to withdraw.
This was a very enjoyable game, and the Big CoC rules really do work very well.
Soviet tank platoon commander engage the Finn Jääkeri. It's the final straw, and the Finns are forced to withdraw

Appendix - House Rules for Character-Based Linked Scenarios.

As mentioned above, we've written some simple rules for linked scenarios. This way we will follow a couple of fictional platoon commanders as the develop during the Continuation War.

Linked Scenarios - Platoon Leader Abilities

Each Platoon Leader (PL) accumulates experience points which can be used to acquire Command Abilities.
A Platoon Leader is either an Infantry Leader or a Tank leader. An infantry leader always commands an infantry platoon (which may include AFVs if purchased as Force Support).
A Tank leader will always command a platoon of AFVs, but may also command infantry, or support weapons if purchased as Force Support.

Earning Experience Points

For each scenario a PL participates in, he gains:
- 1 XP for fighting in a  scenario
- 1 XP for surviving the scenario AND commanding a platoon which did not break
- 1 XP for fighting on the winning side

Spending Experience Points to gain Command Abilities

After a scenario, a PL may try to gain a new ability.
Roll 1D6. If the result is equal to,  or lower than, the PL's number of XPs the attempt is successful, and the PL gains a new ability, but loses all accumulated XPs.
If the die roll result is higher than the number of XPs the attempt fails, but the PL loses one of  his accumulated XPs.
A roll of 6 is always a failure.
No more than 6 XP can be accumulated.
Some Abilities are available to Infantry or Tank leaders only. Others are available to any leader.
New Abilites are assigned randomly using the Ability card deck. A PL can only acquired one instance of each Ability. Draw a new cards if the new Ability is not available for that type of PL, or if the PL already has the Ability selected.
A PL can accumulate a maximum of 3 Abilities. Once a PL has 3 Abilities he can continue to attempt to acquire new Abilities, but must discard one of the already existing ones in order to gain the new one. The new Ability can not be refused, and one of the existing Abilities must be discarded.
Alternatively, a PL who already has 3 Abilities, may spend xps to get additional Force Support in the next scenario. One extra Force Support List is received for each 2 xps spent.


The following Abilities are available:
Both Infantry and Tank Leaders  

General's Nephew - The PL has good personal connections and can usually get more support than normal.
The PL's platoon receives 1 extra FSP during force selection. (Infantry & Tank Leaders)

Parade Ground Voice - The PL has a knack for communicating even in the midst of battle.
The PL has a command range of 15" instead of 12".  (Infantry & Tank Leaders)
Double Time! - The PL is very good at getting his troops to move fast.
The PL may use 2 commands to issue a move order. If he does so, the ordered unit moves +1" per die, but may not enter close combat or perform overruns. (Infantry & Tank Leaders)
Semper Paratus - The PL is skilled in getting his units into superior firing positions quickly.
The PL may use 2 orders to have 1 squad or team move 1 or 2 dice and assume Overwatch at the end of movement. (Infantry & Tank Leaders)
One Step Ahead - The PL prepares thoroughly for every mission.
The PL's platoon starts the game with 3 Points of a Chain of Command Die already accumulated. (Infantry & Tank Leaders)
Bring 'em Forward! - The PL has a trusted companion who assists him in getting his platoon deployed.
The PL's platoon always receives an Adjutant.  (Infantry & Tank Leaders)

Infantry Leaders only

Up Close and Personal - The PL can get his troops into close combat very quickly and effectively.
The PL may use 2 commands to issue a move order into close combat. If he does so, the assaulting unit's target cannot benefit from the 1D6/die for enemy move into close combat. (Infantry Leaders only)

Technical know-how - The PL has extensive technical knowledge
One of the squads in the PL's platoon is upgraded to Assault Engineer, and may choose any one Engineer ability (except Flame Thrower) in each scenario.
If Demolition is chosen, the squad has 1 Demolition Charge. It can also be used against AFVs with AP strike 5.
If Wire Cutting or Mine Clearance are selected, the squad is issued with enough equipment to clear 2 such obstacles. (Infantry Leaders only)
I Like Heavy Metal - The PL has trained his men in the art of attacking tanks with improvised explosive devices and molotov cocktails, which they are very good at making themselves.
One of the squads in the PL's platoon is automatically issued with 2 expertly made improvised anti-tank grenades. AP strike 5. (Infantry Leaders only)
Medic! - The PL is accompanied by a skilled medic.
The PL's platoon is automatically assigned a Medical Orderly. (Infantry Leaders only)
Lock & Load! - The PL is good at deploying his men in good positions.
All units in the PL's platoon may assume Overwatch when deployed. (Infantry Leaders only)

Tank Leaders only

Marksman - The PL and the gunner of his tank make a very good team that tends to hit the weak spots on enemy AFVs. If the PL's own AFV (no other tank in his platoon may benefit from this) is firing from a stationary position it has a better chance of scoring a critical hit.
At ranges up to 12" a critical hit is scored on to hit-roll of 10-12.
At ranges longer than 12"s a critical hit is scored on to hit-roll of 11 or 12.
(Tank Leaders only)

Mechanical Wizard - The PL is a very good mechanic and able to keep his vehicles in top-notch condition.
AFVs in the PL's platoon may enter the table off-road, even if unreliable. (Tank Leaders only)
Hand Me More Duct Tape! - The PL's platoon is very good at repairing damaged vehicles under battle conditions.
The PL may use 2 orders to attempt to repair any damaged vehicle in his platoon. Attempt succeeds on a roll of 4-6 on 1D6. (Tank Leaders only)
Fire and Movement -- The PL has trained the crews in his unit to aim their guns very quickly.
All AFVs in the PL's platoon may fire at enemy AFVs after moving without penalty if given 2 orders to do so by either the PL or the Junior Leader of their own AFV. (Tank Leaders only)
Ace Gunner - The gunner on the PL's tank is an expert.
The PL's tank has a +1 bonus to hit other AFVs. Only the PL's own tank can benefit from this ability. (Tank Leaders only)


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Fyn Infantry Regiment 1710.....and some Pulp Minis

The Fyn Infantry Regiment 1710

New minis finished!  First we have one more unit for the Great Northen War. The unit in question is the Danish  Fyn Infantry Regiment. Just like the unit in the last blog entry The Fyn Infantry Regiment unit took part in the battle of Helsingborg 1710...and just like the previously Jutland Infantry Regiment this unit was an Imperial unit - it was rented out to the German Empire during the War of the Spanish Succession. The Danes were obliged to so due to the terms set by the peace treaty of Traventhal. Thus the Fyn Infantry Regiment was present at the battle of Blenheim 1704 the most famous battle of that war. The minis are from Reiver Miniatures. The flags are bought from Maverick Models

Pulp Era Action 

The second batch of finished minis cosists of miniatures from Pulp Figures. I do enjoy Pulp gaming. The best rules for this type of gaming is probably the ruleset known as " Pulp Alley". 
Currently we are running a Pulp Alley campaign at our club. The campaign is called "Perlious Island".  It is has been written by the same author who has written the orginal rules. Both the rules and the Perlious Island campaign supplement can be bought at the official Pulp Alley Website.

Heroes and Bad Guys from the Pulp Era(1920s-1930s)

If you want some battle reports or more insights into what this game is all about then I suggest you visit the following blog. Here one of my club compatriots, Joakim, have recorded the latest Pulp
Alley gaming sessions. I am by the way the one running the Belgian legue.