Anybody else know the song Roads to Moscow by Al Stewart, circa 1974? A rare rock song about WWII that isn't thrash metal. Every time a German tank dies in a game, I think of the line:" Two broken Tigers on fire in the night." I was humming it last night.
Ian and I played a game of Bolt Action Tank War. We had 2,200 points each on an 8’ x 4’ table. This was the biggest game we have played so far, with every tank we could get our hands on.
Ian’ Germans had 2 Panthers, a Panzer IV, a Stug and a Puma, plus 520 points of Fallschirmjagers. My British had a Cromwell, 6 Shermans and 500 points of infantry. All tanks on both sides and the British infantry were regular, and Ian's Fallschirmjagers were veteran. I began with 14 dice and Ian with 11.
The table was quite busy to ensure we didn't have too many uninterrupted lines of sight. It was divided up the middle by a cobbled road, on one side of which were the outskirts of a village and on the other, more open farmland. We rolled four objectives which we placed in a rough line, lengthwise down the middle of the table. Three of them were in the village, which was on Ian's left and my right.
On turn 1, Ian placed a lone Puma on his extreme left; his Panzer IV in support of most of his infantry in the centre, then his remaining armour, along with a single infantry squad and an MMG, in the fields on his right. I sent all my infantry into the village in the centre, one Sherman into the open ground on the left and the rest of my armour behind the village and on my right.
I struck lucky early on, knocking out the Panzer IV and a Panther in turn 2. My dice rolling balanced out later when my armour repeatedly failed to damage Ian's vehicles, but it was a great advantage to roll so many high numbers in the opening stages.
The game split into three combats: on my left, the Remaining Panther and Stug duelled with 4 Shermans (quickly reduced to 3); in the centre, our infantry fought for control of two objectives in the village; and on my right, the Cromwell and 1 Sherman played peekaboo with the Puma. Early luck tipped the scales in my favour and by game’s end Ian had lost every tank but his Stug while I had lost just the one Sherman. With two objectives apiece at the end of turn 6 we counted points and I got a ‘clear victory’.
I think this was my luckiest wargame for a very long time. Did skill come into it? A bit, perhaps. My tanks used cover more than Ian, who confessed he had put his faith in the superior armour of his Panzers rather than tuck them behind walls. In truth, an awful lot of my fire did bounce off harmlessly but if you take enough shots even a 75 will get through eventually. I also think it helped to keep my infantry in mutual supporting distance. But if truth be told, I won because I had a big fat slice of improbable luck. Bless him, Ian stayed cheerful until the last 6 was rolled. He used his Puma to tie down three tanks for much of the game: I almost regretted knocking it out on turn 6. Almost. And at least his Stug shrugged off every single attempt to pierce its armour.
We played a 100 point game of Art de la Guerre last night. Matt led a Gallic army (8 swordsmen, 3 medium cavalry and a light chariot) against my Carthaginians (3 Numidian light horse, 3 medium cavalry, 2 African spears, 2 Spanish Scutarii, 1 celitiberian swordsmen, 1 Balearic slingers, 1 light javelins). This was our first involvement with impetuous troops. Lots to get used to there. Matt was defender, playing the part of the chieftain who can't believe that the Punic army only wants to pass through his lands. We played on a 120 by 90cm table, with 6cm unit frontages and 25mm figures.
The game played fast and bloodily. Matt deployed his horse out on his right wing, planning to go around behind the Carthaginian left. He set his warriors up in the centre, anchored to a wood on their right. I placed my Numidian horse on the left and medium cavalry on the right. The African spears took the centre, with Celtiberians on the left and the Scutarii on the right. To start with, we both advanced our right wing horse. The Numidian horse was able to slow down the Gallic cavalry, whittling them down, evading charges and generally keeping them occupied. The first melee was between the Carthaginian cavalry and the swordsmen on the left of the Gallic line. It was inconclusive for the first couple of rounds. The foot in the centre then clashed all along the line. Fortunes were mixed in this clash, with units on the right of both lines doing generally better. The pattern for the rest of the game was set: each side trying to eat up the opposition from their right flank. The Gauls on the right chewed up the Carthaginian left, punching a hole and turning to flank the Celtiberians. Meanwhile the Carthaginian horse got into a flanking position and returned the favour to the Gallic left, while out on Their extreme right, the Gallic cavalry started to disintegrate under enemy javelin fire. Alas for these troops, they stayed without orders for a couple of turns due to low command rolls and higher priorities in the main engagement.
While losses were stacking up at a similar rate in the infantry combat, the loss of their cavalry pushed The Gauls into demoralisation. The final ratio of victory points (12 to 6) belied how close the battle had actually been.
Impetuous troops can certainly liven up this game. I like it that they must win fast or get bogged down.
A 100 point game feels quite different from 200. For a start, with half the points but only one third of the commanders, CPs are in shorter supply. We concluded that only a very good general can afford a spread deployment, as there just won't be CPs enough to keep everybody moving. With fewer units, unlucky dice rolls can have a disproportionate effect, so next time we will perhaps use the reroll rule. We might even try average dice, although I have been warned against these for slowing melee down too much.
Not many photos from this game but I quite like the ‘action’ shot with the blurred moving chariot. The product of a poor camera phone but fun nevertheless.
The Gauls included some very old Minifig 25s, Newline 25/28s and Black Tree 28s. The size difference is huge but it didn't show so much during play as I'd feared.
I'm tempted to bring out the Macedonians soon, to see how pikemen perform.
I have played wargames for five decades. Recently retired, I have even more time to devote to it. More about me here.