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Austerlitz in 6mm

I put on a 6mm refight of the Battle of Austerlitz (2 December 1805) at the club last night, using my 'Coup de Grace v. 5' rules. Theo and Jonathan were on the French side, while Doug and Patrick were on the allies' (Russians and Austrians).

Having read Duffy's 'Austerlitz', I prepared for the game by purchasing new movement trays for my 6mm Heroics and Ros figures, and designing the rules to be bespoke for this particular battle. This version of the rules includes Formation Orders, Unit Actions, and Commanders interacting, with players having to juggle a range of challenges to get the best out of their troops.

This battle first got me interested in wargaming back in the 1990s, after reading an article about a refight by Robbie Roddiss in Miniature Wargames magazine. With only four players we could not complete the entire battle, but at least managed to give the rules an initial playtest. I will be sticking with the rules (minor tweaks and clarifications excepted, plus nation-relevant stats added) the next time I put on a Napoleonic battle.

Thanks to those who turned out for a fun evening's play and some enjoyable banter. A post-battle discussion of the rules and gaming in general was a nice way to end the night.

Bunker Hill 17th June 1775 & the assault on Dorchester Heights - Part 2

On the Sunday after a lot of work by Philip, our host ,converted the Bunker Hill battle into the assault on Dorchester Heights. The US army was effectively arranged into 4 commands, Whitcomb who occupied the Roxbury Lines, Heath who was deployed close to Roxbury, Greene's command deployed in front of Dorchester and an off table reserve under Putnam. I took control of Heath's command for this game.

Greene's command moved forward to occupy the fortifications built on the Dorchester heights whilst I moved Heaths command to create a defensive position on our right flank at the edge of Dorchester. Whitcomb faced the British coming through the Charleston Neck. The British had 3 attacking commands it appeared. One moving up through the Charleston Neck, a large force which landed in front of the Dorchester Heights and a third landing by sea on the far right of the US positions. The US reserves were ordered to support Greene's command on the Dorchester heights.

My own troops tried to flank the British flanking attack on our far right but this was easily spotted by the British who moved into to attack my command. Greene's command occupied Dorchester Heights before the British reached them but took significant casualties from the British ships that supported their landing troops. Greene was also significantly out numbered. My own command was being short to pieces by 2 batteries of guns and some elite light infantry. Despite the support of Putnam troops, Greene's troops were overwhelmed by the British who took the Dorchester heights ending the game. A fantastic weekend of gaming and hats off to the British players who won both scenarios.

Bunker Hill 17th June 1775 & the assault on Dorchester Heights - Part 1

We had a fantastic weekend of wargaming in the West Country refighting The Battle of Bunker Hill and the assault on Dorchester Heights. We started the weekend with the a re-fight of Bunker Hill. An amazing set up for this game covering Boston harbour, Charleston and Charleston Neck complete with ships and assault boats. We used some beautifully painted 28mm figures and for rules we used an adapted version of British Grenadier to cope with some very big units many of which were 48- 80 figures in strength!

I was on the side of the Grand American Army for the weekend. The Americans were divided into roughly 3 commands. I was in charge of the troops commanded by Colonel Stark. My job was to protect the left flank of the US troops occupying the fortifications on Breed's Hill. The other commands in addition to Stark were Prescott who occupied Breed's hill and Charleston. The third command was a reserve off table under Brigadier Putnam which was very difficult to move and deploy (each unit requiring an successful initiative roll to move them) thanks to the American C&C remaining in Cambridge! Some unfortunate dice rolling during the early part of Saturday saw the demise of Colonel Stark and one of his New Hampshire Regiments fleeing after only a few casualties!

The British wisely deployed to outflank the fortifications on Breed Hill than attempting an historical direct assault. They moved to assault them from their right flank by land and by sea on the left flank. Stark despite his earlier demise and poor performance just about held off the British right flank (US left flank) but was under considerable pressure and only by adopting a skirmishing formation managed to inflict a number of casualties on the attacking forces. The left flank sea landings however broke through our reserves and took Breed Hill in the final few moves of the game. Casualties were pretty even. The American troops had failed to inflict significant casualties on the British as they did on the day in 1775.

Whites vs. Reds: The Back of Beyond

Rob brought down his 28mm Back of Beyond armies to the community centre on Friday 8 October. We played a Russian Civil War clash between the Bolsheviks (Reds) and the counter-revolutionary White Russians, with Rob umpiring using his own set of rules.

Both Bolsheviks and the newly-painted White miniatures looked great; the different coloured uniforms and flags of the latter looking fantastic on the table.

I was on the White side together with Doug, Mal, and Patrick. Phil, Theo and Jonathan were on the Red team. Using fewer figures than last time, we each controlled a brigade, and no cavalry was used. The scenario required the Whites to take two villages garrisoned by the Reds, in a bid to seize supplies. The Reds had slightly more troops, with terrain in their favour, but the White forces were of superior quality.

While the Whites failed to seize the villages, my right wing managed to clear the majority of Theo’s units from the table, including some from his village, despite sustaining heavy casualties from Theo's armoured car and infantry, Phil’s artillery, as well as a successful air attack by the Reds. Elsewhere on the table, Mal destroyed much of Jonathan’s brigade, whereas Doug faced stiffer opposition in the form of Bolshevik naval infantry defending a wood. Patrick's White tank and armoured car were reasonably effective on the White right flank, but might have been more decisive in the centre against Phil's artillery.

With Rob’s assistance we managed to assimilate more of the rules on this occasion, and we swapped ideas for possible alterations, though most seemed satisfied with them as they stand. Rob may apply further tweaks at his discretion, as well as produce playsheets with the essential core rules for ease of reference.

All in all a fun game with fine figures and much period flavour. Rob is putting together army lists for the period, while I will be assembling information on commanders, a chronology, list of battles, and maps, for a possible joint sourcebook project. The Back of Beyond is indeed bewildering and beguiling in equal measure, with something for all tastes.

Arab-Israeli War (1967)

Doug deployed his very nicely painted 1:300th scale Egyptian and Israeli models again last night, while umpiring a second Arab-Israeli clash at the community centre using Modern Spearhead rules. Simon and I were Israelis, with Mal and Patrick on the Egyptian side.

Both Mal and Patrick successfully prevented their entrenchments from being overrun, and had masses of men and armour to block the Israeli advance. The Israelis had fewer men and tanks, and were disadvantaged by receiving fire first whenever they moved forwards. The outcome of the game was an Israeli defeat, as one of my (Sherman) tank brigades was destroyed, with most of my infantry decimated, while Simon did not get around to breaching the trenches.

We are still learning the rules and how best to manage our resources in such games, as target priority and different weapons systems really do make a difference to how the game is won and lost. The Israelis need to integrate the superior firepower and protection of their tanks with a steady advance and skillful handling of the more vulnerable infantry, while remaining out of Arab firing range as far as possible.

On the night we discussed the rules as compared to the war itself: was the scenario too difficult, given low Israeli casualties and much easier victory historically? Doug may be bringing aircraft at some point in the future, which could prove decisive for the Israelis who enjoyed air supremacy in the Six Day War.

Overall this was a chilled out and enjoyable night in the company of a smaller group of gamers, and a welcome contrast to noisier and less contemplative occasions.

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