Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Combat At Asch

It has been rewarding to see some gamers having a go with my 'Simple Seven Years War' rules - see here for example. But there's no getting away from the fact that a good deal more playtesting is needed to improve them. 

Of course, the best kind of playtesting is the kind that involves other gamers, especially those working just from the rules as written, well away from the author. But solo playtesting is bound to be needed as well, particularly in the early stages of development, when you can mess around with ideas without boring other participants in the game.

So I set out to play a decent-sized solo game with the new rules. To give added interest, I thought I'd make it a proper outing with a nice scenario and a reasonable number of troops. This brought to mind Charles S. Grant's Refighting History (Volume 1), which has been on my bookshelf for a couple of years without the gaming inspiration contained therein being properly exploited. A brief overview of my thoughts on the book can be found here.

The first scenario in the book, 'The Combat At Asch' seemed like just the job. As Charles says, "the Combat at Asch has all the makings of a nice balanced action with not hugely disparate forces". The fighting occurred between Prussian troops which were part of the army of Frederick's brother, Prince Henri, and a detached Austro-Imperial force from the army of General Zweibrucken. The town of Asch is present day As, in the extreme west of the Czech Republic. The Prussians were very much the attacking force in the real campaign, and Charles first presents the encounter as it was in real life - a fighting withdrawal by the Austro-Imperials. He then imagines the Austro-Imperials standing and fighting to produce an attack-defence game, and this latter seemed to be the one for me. The fact that this is not what occurred in real life makes the game an interesting combination of the historical and imaginary. The date of the imaginary battle would have been 8th May 1759.

Each side had about a dozen units, which is perfect for a reasonable sized wargame. The one thing Charles doesn't include in most of his games is a consideration of troop and army quality, so I had to do a bit of basic research into the background of the units involved, in particular to try and discover which units might be rated inferior, regular or superior. This resulted in the following assessments:

Austro-Imperial. General Macquire.

1. Darmstadt Grenadiers (presumably the Hesse-Darmstadt leibgrenadiercorps). Regular.
2. Regiment Maynz (Reichsarmee, 4 battalions, apparently well thought of). Regular.
3. Regiment Trier (Reichsarmee, 2 battalions, poor quality). Inferior.
4. Regiment Salm (Austrian IR14, 1 battalion). Regular.
5. Regiment Marschall (Austrian IR18, 1 battalion). Regular.
6. Regiment Gyulay (Hungarian IR51, 1 battalion). Regular.
7. Unnamed 'Croats'. Assumed to be 1 battalion of light infantry. Regular.
8. Old Modena Cavalry (Austrian cuirassiers). Superior.
9. Baranyay Hussars (Austrian HR30). Inferior.
10. Empire Cavalry Detachments (assumed to be dragoons). Inferior.
A. 2 Field Artillery Batteries (based on a given total of 7 guns available). Regular.

Prussian. General Finck.

1. Grenadier Battalion Bornstadt (Gn.Bn. 13/26). Superior.
2. Regiment Bernburg (IR3, 3 battalions). Regular.
3. Regiment Puttkamer (IR9, 2 battalions, apparently highly regarded). Superior.
4. Regiment Goltz (IR24, 2 battalions). Regular.
5. Frei Bataillon Colignon (FB2). Inferior.
6. Frei Bataillon Monjou (FB5). Inferior.
7. Horn Cuirassiers (CR7). Superior.
8. Szekely Hussars (HR1). Regular.
9. Belling Hussars (HR9). Regular.
A. 3 Field Artillery Batteries (based on a given total of 10 x 12 pounders).

This was generally good news as the Prussians (as I had hoped) had a worthwhile edge in quality which would give their attack a fighting chance.

Map and Scenario
The book contains a whole series of good maps for this scenario, which makes setting up a reasonably accurate table for the game so much easier. Table size was 6' x 5'. I had a little experiment with Word and managed to come up with the colour map you see below. My thanks to Dinos at the HoW forum for showing what is possible with a bit of trial and error.

Prussians in blue, Austro-Imperials in red.
All hills are gentle. The watercourses count as streams. The scenario was simple - the Prussians will attack and dislodge the Austro-Imperials from their ridge-top position.

The Game In Pictures
As usual, I will eschew a lengthy narrative account and use some captioned photos.

Set-up 1. The hills were replicated by using a felt cloth over TSS tiles of various shapes and sizes.
Unfortunately the hill outlines don't show up all that well on the photos.
Set-up 2. The arrangement of forces was as per the historical deployment.
This found the stronger part of the Prussian line opposite the weak Trier regiment.
Set-up 3.
On this flank the better quality Austro-Hungarian units face a thinner Prussian presence.
Here they come! Prussian infantry strike at the Austro-Imperial left flank.
The Bornstadt Grenadiers are hindered by the marsh.
The Puttkamer regiment advances. Even with artillery support, the odds are against them.
In the foreground the Austrian cuirassiers have retired under Prussian artillery fire, but the hole is being
plugged by the Gyulay regiment.
The Goltz regiment gets into musket range.
As hoped, the weak troops of the regiment Trier start to give way 
The beginnings of a breakthrough start to appear. The Horn cuirassiers (just visible bottom left)
are in the wrong place and would be invaluable on the Prussian right.
On the other flank, Puttkamer take heavy casualties from Austrian muskets and canister.
Their superior quality is not enough to overcome the odds, and they are forced back.
Prussian high water mark.
Regiment Trier has evaporated, and the Prussian grenadiers have forced away the poor quality cavalry units.
However, the Austro-Imperial line on the ridge is still solid and starts to re-align, whilst regiment Goltz retreats
with heavy casualties. Further assaults are unlikely to succeed.

I called it a day at this point. The Prussians had done well, driving off 5 enemy units on the Austro-Imperial left flank (including an artillery battery), but the main ridge position was still strongly held by good quality Austrian units, and the attacking Prussian infantry had taken serious casualties. As they began to waver, the Bornstadt grenadiers were left feeling rather exposed, as the final photo shows. Reforming for a second assault would be pointless and almost certain to fail. In an interesting side show, the Croats in the woods on the Austro-Imperial left had seen off two charges by the Prussian Hussars. Well done lads!

The rules worked well, as far as I was concerned. My nagging doubt is that rules trying to be 'simple' really need a clever mechanism or two to make them interesting and engaging to play, or they tend to become a bit bland. Whether I can find the inspiration for some original procedures remains to be seen.

Better Photos?
In my search to improve the quality of my wargaming photography, I decided to improve my lighting by the Heath-Robinson set up you see below - a cheap LED strip light rigged up over the table. This produced much better colour matching, but really crisp results still elude me, despite the dining room being lit like a Dentist's waiting area. The search continues!

Thanks for popping over. I think perhaps some Kings of War Historical action may be next up.

'Til next time!

Saturday, 22 December 2018

'Simple Seven Years War' v.2

A brief note to those who have taken an interest in this set of rules as a result of my initial post - an updated version is now available.

"No, honestly - they're really worth a look."

Honours of War downloads page

Simple Seven Years War thread

I hope they may be of interest. And still entirely free!

Merry Christmas everyone, and good gaming in 2019!

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Kings of War Historical

Oh dear. I concluded my last post with "back soon with more interesting shit", and that was well over two months ago. Nevertheless, if you can ignore the 'soon', I hope I can at least interest you with some comments on a rule book I have bought recently, and which has impressed me greatly. As you can tell from the title, the rules in question are Kings of War Historical, authored by Alessio Cavatore (of Warhammer and Bolt Action fame) and published by Mantic Games

I thought I had explored just about all the relevant rule sets relating to ancient wargaming over the last couple of years, but it turns out I had missed these. In the end, they were recommended to me recently when I did a podcast with Henry Hyde. We had been discussing the search for simple rules, and he flagged this book up as particularly good - simple but not simplistic. It turned out he was quite correct - Henry, thanks for the 'heads up' on this one.

The Upsides
So, you pay £20 for the book, which is a well produced softback in full colour between A4 and A5 in size. There are 125 pages, of which the rules take up about 35 pages. The remainder is mainly 'Force Lists', with the addition of some scenarios and the usual introduction along with a couple of pages of modelling notes.

I would guess around 40% of the book is made up of colour photos and some diagrams explaining play. The rules themselves are therefore of a very manageable length and read logically and clearly. They are indeed pretty simple, especially as ancients rules go, and to me felt easier to assimilate than DBA. They are a world simpler than DBM, Warmaster Ancients, or Hail Caesar, for example.

How do they achieve this? Firstly, they are very strictly IGO-UGO. There is no interactive play at all during a player turn - the active player moves (including charging), then shoots, then melees. His opponent does nothing. There are no evades, no shooting at chargers, no counter-charges, and no simultaneous melees. This seems odd at first and put me off, until I tried a small solo run through, where things began to make sense. Not being able to evade felt particularly strange - keeping your light troops out of charge range becomes a basic tactic, to avoid them being wiped out in melees against heavier opponents. I admit I restricted the length of charge moves (which constitute up to a double move under the rules) to help this process, otherwise javelin men in particular have issues harrying heavy infantry. However, shooting ranges are generous and this helps. A simple evade rule is easily inserted if you feel the need. I soon found I didn't really miss not shooting at chargers - you will have probably shot at your opponents in your own previous turn anyway.

Melees are particularly interesting. This is where a lot of games with other rule sets grind to a halt as the battle lines clash. The basically simple mechanisms in KoW help with this, but fundamentally the IGO-UGO format is the key. You charge your opponent who cannot counter-charge or evade, and you inflict casualties on him. If he isn't actually destroyed, you then 'bounce off' by pulling back an inch. Then in his turn he can charge you (which is called counter-charging in the rules) and inflict casualties on you. This creates a set of fighting pulses which for me gave an interesting period feel. Melees between ill-matched units are over quickly, but between equal or near equal opponents they can grind on for a few turns with fortunes swinging back and forth. Definitely good fun.

Secondly, the rules employ standard unit sizes, and only one formation for each size. So for infantry you have 'troops' of 10 figures in 2 ranks, 'regiments' of 20 figures in 4 ranks, 'hordes' of 40 figures in 4 ranks, and finally 'legions' of a hefty 60 figures in 6 ranks. Figures are not removed during fighting, but hits are recorded using whatever system you prefer (counters, dice, written record, etc.). This standardisation really does aid simplification, but I felt the need to allow units above troop size to go 'shallow' if they wanted, by halving their depth. This derives from the willingness of many ancient armies to thin out their lines if needed to cover the right frontage, especially when outnumbered. I decided not to allow this change of formation to affect fighting qualities in any way, in accordance with the simple nature of the original rules. You might think a unit of 40 skirmishers in a 4 rank block is a bit odd, but such troop types are usually restricted to troop or regiment size. Breaking them up into individual troops of 10 figures easily represents their flexible nature.

The other main simplifying process is having stat tables very akin to Hail Caesar, Warmaster or Warhammer, enhanced by Special Rules. I have had my reservations about this type of approach in the past, in particular with the tendency to build up too many special rules which can be forgotten or which tend to slow up play as you try and work out what they mean. But if you have the sense to keep special rules to a minimum, they can work quite well. Their particular role in simplification is neatly summed up by Dan Mersey in his intro to Lion Rampant - "gain period feel by differing profiles for troops; avoid complex core rules". So having stat tables allows you to keep the core rules straightforward, avoiding all those ifs, buts and maybes as well as the various tables for shooting and melee along with their lists of modifiers.

On top of this there are no funny dice, no grids, no cards - and no command and control. The latter was a step too far for me and I have added a very simple, command radius-style rule which means anyone out of radius needs to roll to make an attacking move. Interestingly, your generals count as units and so can join in the fight as they wish. This works pretty well and is good fun.

I have played 3 solo games so far, including a re-fight of my much-loved Donald Featherstone 'Trimsos' scenario. I have been very impressed with how easily the games play and how quickly the rules are learned. The use of the stat tables means you can tailor each type of unit to exactly the effectiveness and behaviour you want - special rules can be added sparingly to give some units (for example, warbands or Macedonian pike phalanxes) that extra bit of character.

I need hardly add that the actual processes for firing, melee and morale are quick and straightforward - but they work very well. The unit stats handle the subtleties - lists of modifiers are entirely absent.

OK, not a Kings of War battle, but you can't have a blog post without photos.
This was a recent game using my own rules.
The Downsides
This is very much a game rather than any kind of simulation, developed from the successful Kings of War fantasy set with very little change in the core rules. Strict historical wargamers who prefer more 'granular' rules might have a few issues, particularly resulting from the IGO-UGO structure. My own main issues were around the historical feel. The book features a set of 'Master Lists', with stat tables for generic units (spearmen, pikemen, warriors, bowmen, skirmishers, heavy and light cavalry, etc.). Then there is an extensive set of specific sections covering historical armies, for example Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Barbarians (meaning Celtic armies), Vikings, Chinese, Japanese, Normans, etc. etc., extending from a vaguely defined 'antiquity' to the 15th century. Yes, these are medieval rules as well. These army sections are just a couple of pages long (usually including a couple of large photos in the same space), and have very little of the detail you need to form an historical army from the Master Lists. Some stat tables for particularly distinctive units are given, but usually there are only 2 or 3 examples.

The army section might tell you that a particular army can include spearmen and heavy spearman - but which of the units in the army should be classed as one of these types? And what might the proportions of different troop types be in a typical army? The newbie will receive no guidance. The Roman army section suffers particularly strongly from this shallow treatment, being no bigger than any other army section but apparently intended to cover the whole history of the Roman army through all its iterations. Categorising the numerous possible troop types from the master lists would be quite a challenge. So this is a rule set really for those with an established background knowledge of the era, or conversely beginners who aren't really that bothered about the detail but just want a good knockabout game. Those wanting a firm historical feel will need to play a few games, and then gradually tweak the various stats and special rules to get the balance between units that they want.

A possible downside for some is that these rules use the 'bucket of dice' principal to smooth the vagaries of chance. The maximum number I have rolled so far is 25 at once, but the rules allow for up to 90 (yes, nine-zero) dice to be rolled by a large unit attacking another in the rear, which involves a tripling of the possible attacks. This is a bit daft and I have removed the 'tripling' rule, making doubling the maximum possible.

The King Is Dead
KoW Historical came out in 2016, a few years after the original fantasy set. Mantic had a decent forum set up to support both sets of rules, but this December the forum is closing due to the very limited number of posts currently being made. This is a shame, as I feel the rules have a lot to offer, and should be more widely known and played. The determination to create a simple, easily learnt game is impressive in its ambition and has been very successful in its results, in my opinion.

The great thing is that you can sample the basic fantasy rules for free, via downloads from the Mantic website. The fantasy core rules are practically identical to the historical rules - it is the force lists and absence of fantasy elements which mainly distinguish the historical set.

For the moment, I have set aside my own rules and will continue with KoW, which frankly I much prefer. Maybe in the future I will revisit my Trimsos rules, and see if I can simplify them a bit. For the moment, Kings of War Historical comes recommended. 

Friday, 5 October 2018

Free Rules! 'Simple Seven Years War'

Just a very short post to point readers who might be interested towards my Honours of War website, where I have uploaded some new SYW rules.

I have been experimenting recently with some simpler forms of rules for Horse and Musket wargaming. The SYW being an area where I have a reasonable amount of knowledge, I thought this might be the best period to start with, especially when offering them to others. And a SYW-themed website provides an opportunity to get some informed feedback.

So, I invite you to visit:

The new rules are at the bottom of the list. A note of caution - these rules are a work in progress. They definitely function, but they will certainly be altered, tweaked and otherwise adapted as time goes on. You can be part of that process - just go the appropriate thread and leave any comments:

Be sure to read the 'Notes to the Rules' before sounding off!

Back soon with more interesting shit (as the young people say).

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The English Civil War - Old School Style

As promised, then, time to go back to the first week of August and a meeting with Stuart to give his new ECW armies a run out. The usual visual treat was in place when I arrived, with a fine selection of colourful units laid out on Stuart's 6' x 3' dining room wargames table. The figures were all 30mm Edward Suren sculpts, still available from Tradition of London.

Royalists to the right, Parliament to the left.
In the foreground, Prince Rupert's Regiment of Foot leads out the Cirencester Trained Bands.

Stuart had a selected a suitably old school set of rules to play with - the English Civil War rules by Bayonet Publications (author Mike Wall) from the early 1970s:

We did have some issues during play - for example, the rules used infantry units of around 40 figures, whilst Stuart had created units of 12 figures plus 2 officers and a standard bearer. But as usual, a few changes invented 'on the hoof' between wargamers of good will can quickly improve things. 

I don't think there's any need to trouble the reader with a blow by blow account - we set to with the armies as deployed by Stuart and played through some moves seeing how the rules worked and admiring the figures in action. Therefore I will leave the reader with some photos, the quality of which does not do the figures justice, I'm afraid.

Parliamentary cavalry in the foreground (4 figure regiments). Right to left, The Lord General's regt., Sir James Ramsey's regt., and I believe Lord Fielding's regt. The blue coated figures of Prince Rupert's regt. lead the Royalist counter-charge.
Overview of the action
Close up of Prince Rupert's Regiment of Foot.
The Queen's Lifeguard of Foot in red, supported by Sir Thomas Tyldesley's Regiment to their right.
Royalists to a man.
Parliamentary infantry - John Hampden's Regiment of Foot.
The infantry from the two previous photos get to grips.
The home team - Cirencester Trained Bands.

Colonel John Talbot's Regiment of foot, on the Royalist right flank.
Talbot's Regiment are outnumbered and have taken serious casualties.

This was a distinctly non-competitive game, with the emphasis very much on enjoying the classic figures which Stuart had brought so successfully to life, and adapting the rules as needed. So no need for any discussion of winners and losers. I think, in fact, we were both winners, having enjoyed a peaceful and contemplative afternoon away from the pressures of everyday life. 

I look forward to seeing these fellows on the table again, and getting the rules sorted to our satisfaction.

See you again soon!

Monday, 10 September 2018

The Cotswold Wargaming Day

I have never really been an 'organiser' - organising trips, holidays and events is something I have been happy to leave to other people, both at work and in my personal life. But despite this, in 2018 I organised a modest wargaming event, which I have called 'The Cotswold Wargaming Day'.

I think the catalyst was having a really nice, modern community centre situated only a couple of hundred yards from my house in Northleach. A wargamer's mind never leaves his or her hobby far behind, and passing the centre regularly when walking the dogs I eventually got to thinking that the centre looked a great location for a smallish wargaming show.

My first thoughts were for a very small gathering of as few as 6-8 wargaming buddies, but initial feelers quickly demonstrated that something a bit bigger would be both possible and preferable. A meeting in March had to be cancelled due to the heavy snowfall, following which 2nd September was scheduled. To cut the story short, the meeting went ahead as planned, and 18 wargamers turned up, to take part in 6 games. In the end, my own game had to be set aside to allow the other 5 to have decent numbers of players, but I didn't find this a problem - in fact, it left me with time to join in with a couple of other games, and time to chat with the other gamers, many of whom I had not had the pleasure of meeting previously.

The good news for me was that just about all those invited turned up, and everyone who took part seemed to have a good time. Best of all was that the atmosphere was just what I had hoped for - relaxed and friendly, with plenty of people chatting about the hobby and having the opportunity to take part in more than one game. Now I've done it once, I've decided to have another meeting next year. There is room to spare at the venue, so I'm hoping to increase numbers of both attendees and games.

My photos weren't that brilliant, as I'm afraid you can see below. For better and more numerous photos check out the reports here and here. My thanks to Steve and Chris for publishing such thorough and useful posts.

This was Bruce's Battle of Britain game, featuring a scenario based on the Italian intervention in November 1940.
I was lucky enough to play through the scenario against Bruce - a very clever and engrossing set of rules that Bruce has developed himself. It's not often I get the chance to play an air wargame. The planes are 1:600th scale - the standard of painting of such small models was outstanding.
Here the British fighters get stuck in just off the Essex coast.
A very nice Honours of War game was put on by Steve and Paul,
in particular featuring some lovely British units provided by Karl.
The WW2 game was put on by Jon (on the left). Here Jon, along with my eldest son, 
pretend to be enjoying themselves for the camera.
A second SYW game was put on by Willz. Everyone admired the wonderful Spencer Smiths (mostly the original plastics) which Willz had brought to life with his excellent painting skills. He was using the rules developed by U.S. wargamer Jim Purky, which made an interesting comparison with HoW.
Lovely figures, lovely scenery. What's not to like?
A big Napoleonic game was put on by Roy and Matthew - Talavera 1809.
Roy and Chris in the photo.
The lonely life of the show judge! Stuart makes his decisions.
And the winner is... Best Game went to the Talavera demo. Roy and Matthew receive their prizes and the Stuart Asquith trophy. Especial thanks to Steve for making the trophy - a very professional job.
Hmm... taking wargaming too seriously is bad for you. Jon looks heavenwards for inspiration,
whilst Sam stresses over his next move. I played the pair of them in my final game. We called it a draw.

And In Conclusion
I think I can safely say the day was a success. A few more gamers would have been ideal, but I decided to walk before I ran, and was cautious about spreading my net too wide - perhaps over-cautious. I'll be in touch with some local clubs in preparation for next year, but word of mouth and a few blog posts will almost certainly bring in all the gamers I need. Here's hoping.

If you want to attend, and don't already have a way to get in touch with me, leave your email address in the comments section. I'll get back to you, and delete your address from the blog straight away for privacy reasons.

Watch this space for some Old School English Civil War - coming soon!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Air Assault Danzig - Battlegroup Blitzkrieg

So, as mentioned in my previous post, I decided a month or so ago that it was time to get my Ju-52s and DFS-230s out of their storage cabinets and revive my fictional Poland 1939 airfield attack scenario. The original game was played out using the Blitzkrieg Commander rules (that I enjoyed using for many years), but now I wanted to see how the game would work using Battlegroup Blitzkrieg, particularly as the recent Battlegroup Tobruk supplement includes rules for glider and parachute landings as part of the Battle of Crete. Besides wanting to get the toys out the cupboard again, I thought it would be interesting to see to what extent the very different levels of play in the two rule sets affected the game. In the end, the answer was 'not much', of which more later.

My scenario is inspired by the German attacks on the Dutch airfields around The Hague on 10th May 1940. These always looked like great scenarios to re-create on the table, but I didn't want the effort of buying and painting Dutch forces, so I decided to transpose the whole thing to 1st September 1939. Most of you will know that the German airborne forces weren't ready for such an operation in 1939 - a Fallschirmj√§ger regiment was operational (and had a number of potential operations cancelled during the campaign), but the glider and airlanding forces weren't yet available. This game is therefore very much a fictional one, and supposes an attack on the main airfield serving Danzig on the first day of WW2. For some more background, see this post from 2013 and this post from 2012. 

Scenario - The Assault On Danzig/Langfuhr

Langfuhr aerodrome. A 6' x 5' table was in use. Bridge objective in background.
Langfuhr was a real airfield (now defunct), situated on the outskirts of Danzig, but the representation of the airfield on the table is entirely generic. The airfield and a nearby river bridge are to be seized by German airborne forces, basically consisting of a glider assault platoon, a parachute platoon, and an airlanding (luftlande) platoon with supporting heavy weapons. The gliders will land off-airfield (to avoid blocking the runways) and concentrate on the bridge and airfield headquarters area. The paras will simultaneously land on the airfield itself to seize the runways and attempt to suppress the airfield defences. A few moves later, the airlanding units will arrive on the airfield to finish the job. 

The Polish aircraft based on the airfield are considered to have been dispersed to less vulnerable locations, or destroyed in air combat - German air superiority is already established in this part of Polish airspace. The airfield has some good AA defences and a modest infantry presence, along with a small unit of armoured cars which are temporarily based there. The nearby bridge is defended by a couple of pillboxes. Reinforcements will arrive during the game consisting of mobile recce units and more infantry, along with a couple of old Renault tanks from a nearby training base.

Now, I could list the full forces in detail, as I have done for many scenarios in the past, but I think you get the idea. I actually found adapting the scenario for BGB made for an easier game. I used the parachute and glider landing rules from Tobruk pretty much as written, and found once again that these work well. I was disappointed that the supplement didn't include rules for airlanding operations, especially as these featured prominently in the air invasion of Crete, but creating my own wasn't really much trouble. I decided the landing Tante Ju's would be subject to AA fire as they arrived, under the normal rules for air attacks, which would mean the defending AA units would need to have 'ambush fire' orders as far as could be managed by the Polish defenders. Ju-52s were allocated 4 hits. A 'return to base' morale result would involve the relevant aircraft joining the next wave in the following turn. After any AA fire, a landing table similar to that for the gliders would be employed, but with a higher chance of a safe landing.

The forces for the game were reduced from my original 2013 bash so that playing time would be less onerous - in particular, only three waves of Ju-52s would be needed. I have 8 model aircraft, and 4 were allocated to each wave, so survivors from the first 2 waves would need to take off again to form the third. This represented the need in real operations for aircraft to get airborne as soon as possible after deploying their loads, in order to avoid being destroyed on the ground. There was thus also a 'take off table' to match the landing table, based on a roll of a D6:

1 - crash on take off, aircraft destroyed.
2,3 - unable to depart due blocked take-off run.
4,5,6 - successful take-off.

For interested Battlegroup players, the German forces came to around 800 points with a BP of 61. The Polish forces had around 450 points, BP 33. And so, without further ado...

The Game In Pictures

Turn 1. A timed Ju-87 strike severely damages the airport HQ buildings and destroys the Polish HQ.
The parachute and glider landings are rather dispersed but broadly successful.
Some of the German paras landed almost on top of the Polish dug-outs.
Assaults on the Polish AA positions were determined and effective.
The gliders on the LZ south of the bridge landed pretty well.
On the northern LZ, one glider miscalculated and hit the trees of a windbreak east of the LZ.
All on board were lost.
Turn 4. The first airlanding wave arrives. AA opposition was limited.
Turn 5 - second wave.
On the left some motorised Polish infantry have arrived to reinforce the defenders.
They rake the airfield with effective fire.
The bridge is in German hands. The flamethrowers of the assaulting engineers were put to good use.
Turn 7. Casualties on both sides were high, but on this turn the Poles reached their BP number and were defeated.
It had been a close run thing, however, and the Germans were only a few points from their own BP.

So Much For Scales In Wargames!
Well, in BKC one stand equals a platoon, whilst in BGB one figure equals one man. But I played the same scenario on much the same table and terrain, using the same figures and models with both rule sets, except that with BKC a 'battalion' of airlanding troops supposedly arrived, whilst with BGB a 'platoon' arrived. How come those 1980s rule books were so hung up on the importance of accurate scaling? As I have found so often recently, those 1960s pioneers who just went with what worked were absolutely right.

Anyway, this is a fun scenario that I hope to play again. The vagaries of airborne arrivals are dramatic and create a game that will be different every time. My main disappointment was that the Renault FT-17s arrived too late in the game to see combat - blast! I think I have demonstrated that this kind of speciality game can be developed without a shed-load of expense and months of work on tailor-made terrain and figures.

As a coda, I decided the airfield needed decorating with at least one Polish aircraft. So I purchased a Zvezda Russian Po-2 biplane. This will be painted in Polish colours and will pretend to be an unserviceable Lublin R-VIII stuck on the aerodrome:


Thanks for reading. See you next time!