Monday, July 16, 2012

Hit the Beach! - FoW Demo Game at Kapiti Wargames Club's 'Big Day Out'

Well the Day of Days finally arrived! After much preparation, I was in a position to put on a Flames of War demo game, using all the Normandy beach invasion material I have been working with over the last few months.

This demo game took place at the Kapiti Wargames Clubs - "Big day Out". It was a Sunday club game day, to help draw interest to the club, from the general public, and wargamers from the region in general. For the first time there were several 'historical' games on display, as well as the Warhammer and 40k games.

Paul and I had decided it would be a good chance to showcase the Normandy Beach stuff, and the scenario in play would be widely recognisable to the general public. The dilemma we had in planning, was the army lists to use and their size and composition.

The Hit the Beach Mission, was originally staged in the V2 rules, from the D-Day supplement, and Das Book supplement. In this mission 1750 pts of attackers go up against 1000 pts of defenders, who then get a set amount of 'fortification points' to spend on fortifications - dependant upon board width being defended.

However, the recent switch to the V3 rules, and new lists for the beach defenders from Earth and Steel, has the fortifications pointed in as part of the main force. The Hit the Beach mission, no longer features in the list of missions in the V3 book, nor is it featured in either the Earth and Steel book or Turning Tide, which I found a little odd...

So after much discussion, it was agreed to allow the defender to also select a force of 1750 points, from which his fortifications must also be purchased as per Earth and Steel.

Having reached this decision, forces were chosen to theme: Sword Beach, so a Commando force facing a '2nd line' Grenadier force.

The defender must deploy half their troops on the board including all fortifications, which counted as one 'platoon choice', and the attackers force comes ashore in landing craft, in waves over the turns of the game.

Interesting points of the mission being:
Neither side will break from lost company morale. The games is played to a fixed number of turns (12), and then the winner determined. Destroyed allied platoons recycle back into the waves of reserves (excluding armoured platoons and warriors)

So here follows a pictorial battle report of the events of the game.

Initial deployment:
German defenders have a 88mm pillbox to the right, a 75mm pillbox to left and a defilade 5cm KwK nest centrally. These are backed up by 1 HMG pillbox, 3 HMG nests, 1 Tank turret, and 4 static StukaZuFuss launchers. 4 sections of trench lines and matching barbed wire defend the beach front held by one Grenadier Platoon and the CiC and 2iC.

Further back are the Czech Howitzers (proxied by leFh18's).

The beach is protected by a lengthy sea wall, meaning there is only one way off the beach for vehicles, and this is covered by a minefield...

The Allies are bobbing about in the 'Sea Zone', waiting to Hit the Beach!



Neither of us had played this mission before so it was going to be a learning curve... One thing I found straight away was my trench lines couldn't quite span the board. This wouldn't have been a problem, a central gap at the road was ineveitable, but... my "confident trained" Germans command range was 4" and I couldn't get this to 'work' spanning the trench gap with the road and central bunker. So I had to move it one way closer, meaning a gap developed at the end, nearest the 88mm Pillbox... Paul immediately saw a gap to exploit...


Please excuse the odd streaks through the board... I had to transport the main board to the venue in my trailer and it was raining, and despite plastic sheeting, some rain got through...

A view of the German trench line...


And the central minefield Paul's British engineers were going to have to clear...

The Allies get an Initial bombardment so all deployed teams take an attack roll, with a standard allowed save. This cost me one Howitzer, and 2 grenadier teams.



The first wave comes ashore, but Paul battles with delayed landing craft... only one arrives, plus the DD Shermans...


The HMG pillbox takes a lot of smoke fire as this is the only HMG in effective range of the beach...

My fortification deployment was not ideal, I had not come up with an amazing plan, I had been in such a rush getting all the stuff made in time and then went on vacation... so my prep work was a bit poor for the game play, some of my bunkers were not well placed to cover the beach but as it turned out did well covering the Hinterland where the objectives were placed...


More waves of troops arrive...


The typhoons roar in to destroy the Howitzers ( I only just got the typhoon finished before packing everything up to get to the game! This one is a gift to Paul, as he'd previously given me a Hurricane as part of the post V3 rules planes swap that occurred here between players...)

As it turned out whilst the typhoon hit the target,  my gun team saved but was pinned, then stayed that way for the next 4 turns as I rolled successive 1's to unpin... This then inadvertantly helped me as Paul used up his pool of air dice over the subsequent turns trying to get the guns, and as I hadn't unpinned them, and thus been unable to fire, they were getting infantry saves (3+) under the v3 rules, and not the normal (5+) gun save!


The commandos move to exploit the gap in the defences and the engineers move to see to the Minefield. However they suffer to HMG fire... The AVRE's also arrive... and the commando mortars...


The commandos get ready to assault the 88mm Pillbox...


They are thrown back by defensive fire in the first turn, but get in in the subsequent turn and blow it to bits! Up to this point the tanks haven't dared to venture away from the side of the beach, where it couldn't hit them!...


By turn six, I had got all my reserves on the table, despite needing 6's to bring them on and they rapidly starting 'At the Doubling' into the battle. The StuGs race up the road, but are still wary of the Typhoons, and park up next to some buildings...


The mortars also come on from reserve, ahead of the StuGs by one turn, and race to get into suitable firing position and range...


The Mortars are backed up by the 2nd Grenadier platoon...


The commandos now try digging in, in a position contesting the first (Allied placed) objective. Peter Young, can be seen identified by his plain brown base. Also by this point, the German grenadiers have been flushed from this end of the trench lines...


The M10's arrive...


The engineers have done their job, the minefield is gone and the AVRE's make a break inland, they are fairly impervious to the remaining bunkers...



Pushing further in, they destroy the HMG pillbox but miss the 5cm KwK nest...


The StuGs have taken up position adjacent the German placed objective, as the 2nd grenadiers rush to reinforce this position...


The StuGs are in position to fire on the approaching Allied armour...


Paul is struggling now to get his tanks to move off the beach, it's slow going and a bogging check is required to move across the sandy surface... but a Sherman and an M10 make it to the road...


At this point we called a brief loo break and I snapped a few pics of the other games in action:

A 40K game...


A 28mm SYW game using I believe Die Kriegskunst rules ( A "G-de-B" derivative). I spotted Reg Newell from the Hutt Club, in action here though didn't know the other fellows...


A 28mm New Zealand Wars Skirmish game, using I believe a derivative of Sharp Practice rules, put on by fellow Fusilier, Roly Hermans and assisted by Notorious Greg, and others?


A huge 40K Apocalypse game spanning two tables joined by two large bridges... I think someone mentioned there was 16000 points here...


There were other smaller  games running in the side room, in which may young son was having fun playing 40k with his club mates...

Back to the Normandy action...

My 75mm pillbox claims its first victim, an M10...


Just to show Paul's difficulty getting off the beach... 2 bogged Shermans in the soft sand...


More waves of commandos arrive...


Good tactical use of smoke by Paul to try and limit my StuGs effectiveness, forcing me to move to get any shots...


...but I get lucky and bag the bailed out AVRE in the flank...


The typhoons have given up tying to kill the guns and come roaring in to try and wreck the StuGs, but only managed to bail one...


The StuGs still sitting  pretty over looking the beach access... and have destroyed the last AVRE at close quarters...


After a ton of HMG , Mortar and Howitzer fire the commandos are dislodged from their hold on the frontal objective, and even Peter Young falls, as evidenced by his now empty foxhole...


Trying to pressure the 2nd objective, Paul gets a Sherman up to get a flank shot on the Stugs but fails to get a kill and is in turn taken out by a rear shot from the 5cm KwK...


At this point the game comes to an end at the end of turn 12, and the Germans have held on for a win having dislodged the commandos on the beach front objective and held on to the Hinterland objective...


The StuGs still intact and covering the beach access...


... 2nd Grenadiers and Mortars and Howitzers still  active...


Three tanks still on the beach, and more commandos trying to recapture the front objective, as play comes to an end...


We then had the typical post game discussion about how we thought things went.

Despite feeling under pressure initially, I would say my HMGs kept me in the game, and I got lucky getting all my reserves on by turn 6. It still felt like a rush to get them into position, but they did none the less and held on for the win. My Artillery was shocking to start with but oddly may have saved them, and I positioned my Static Rocket launchers far too far back (thinking they had longer range! Oops!)

Paul battled manfully, but was up against it, not so much from me but from the scenario, the mechanism of landing craft deployment and recycling on and off the beach, meant his forces arrived in dribs and drabs and there was never the "overwhelming force" in evidence. That and the difficulty of getting his tanks off the soft sand, just about made it a none starter for him, despite playing to 12 turns, he never really threatened the Hinterland objective, so would just about find it impossible to get a win.

We didn't have time to restart the scenario, so decided to play on to see what would happen, in case the Allies simply needed more time... but over the next extra couple of turns, the commandos continued to pressure the front objective, but HMG nests kept them at bay and the last three tanks were destroyed by the bunkers and StuGs, as they got off the beach... With no armour left for the Allies there was no real hope and Paul called it.

So what did we learn?

I think the forces were balanced but the landing craft deployment mechanism we feel needs tweaking...

However we do plan to have another go under the V2 version of the game and army list composition and see what difference that makes... I know I will get a lot less bunkers for one thing !

But the main aim of the game was to draw interest to the Flames of War game, and to the to Kapiti Wargaming Club, and I think we both admirably achieved that.

Thanks to the club for hosting and allowing us to demo the game , and to the wives and helpers to ran the lunch canteen.

Well the game drew a lot of onlooker interest both old and young, as expected, and that is what we really hoped for.

26 comments:

  1. Damn impressive game, good pics, well explained, nice one Scott!

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    1. Thanks Fran, with the report, as on the day, I hoped to explain the game in a way folks, not familiar with the rules, would get what going on...

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  2. Love the WWII game, very impressive!!

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  3. Wow! What a great looking game; wonderful to see all the terrain in play to. Fabulous post Scott.

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    1. Thanks Michael, your comments make the work worthwhile.

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  4. It's great to see all these pieces come together. They look fantastic! I actually thought the rain water streaks were part of the terrain. I was actually thinking it looked good, at least in the pictures. Nice write up too.

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    1. Thanks Jerry, yeah I wondered whether it was an affect of Rommel flooding the Hinterland ! ;-)
      Thankfully rain didnt stop play ;-)

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  5. Excellent write up and a really nice looking set up too! Loved the trio of StuGs on the prowl. Nice to see all the things you have been working on appearing in the game!

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    1. Thank you Sir! I am rather fond of my StuGs too :-)

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  6. Scott, thank you so much for being a Kapiti Wargames Club member and for being a colourful and inspirational part of our day! It was an awesome FoW game and you have done it justice in the blog above!

    Next club Sunday is planned for 2 September! We meet and game every Thursday night as well of course. Cheers Mark (KWC club Chairman)

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    1. You are more than welcome, it was a pleasure :-)
      I'll be there as many thursdays as I can make it...
      Kind regards
      Scott

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    2. Oh, and pencil me in for the 2nd September, I'll hope to be there in some capacity!

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  7. Well written, concise and easy to follow Bat Rep and as others have said so good to see models and terrain come together in such an impressive display on the day.

    Certainly looked like the Brits were on a hiding to nothing but it might have helped if the flyboys had spent more time at gunnery school. From what Ive seen of FOW aircover seldom lives up to expectation.

    Sad to see Brigadier Young amongst the casualties...hopefully just a flesh wound?

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    1. Thanks Gav :-)
      Airpower in FoW, can reap dividends, but can also suck if your luck is shonky, as Pauls was with them in this game... Perhaps the pilot was embracing his germanic side, in gratitude of the nice new paint job I'd just given his plane ;-)
      As for Brigadier Young, judging by the amount of hot lead that was sent his way...well, lets just hope so!

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  8. That was an absolutely exquisite game board, Scoot. I love the sea effect and then how it melds into the countryside. The houses are beautiful and oh so French. And of course the miniatures are terrific. All in all, a professionally executed demo game.

    Like several other here, I thought the rain added inadvertant interest - it looked like irrigation ditches and boggy ground. It certainly didn't detract from the overall effect!

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    1. Many thanks Roly, I couldnt ask for better piece of feedback, much appreciated!

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  9. Fantastic report Scott, and wonderful photos too.

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  10. Great table and superb report as well!

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  11. I'm no great fan of FoW but your figures, terrain and AAR were stupendous- well done! That beach is just brilliant...

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    1. Many Thanks Curt, I appreciate you commenting , even though the game isn't to your taste!

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  12. My opponent Paul is not a blogger, but he offered some further insights into the game in an email to me afterwards:

    Good report. The photos came out well.

    Thinking about how it played out, the forces were probably about right. Might have been a bit easier attacking with Canadians or regular Brits than the Commandos. You can get a bit more armour and artillery which you really need to get the infantry through, and the cheaper points would help too. I was happy with my list though, it was dictated a lot by the models available, but the points cost meant I wasn’t really missing out the chance to take anything due to lack of a model. I think a Soviet Udarny Battalion would do well attacking – big platoons with integrated HMG’s, bunker busters and heavy artillery.

    The main issue was as we discussed – getting enough numbers assembled within the time limit of the game. Unless you were extremely lucky with your landing craft you’re really pushing it to get to the back objective in 12 turns. When I actually had a concentration of force it was a good even battle and I took some heavy losses to open up the road off the beach and take out your 88 bunker. From then I really needed to have troops ready and waiting to exploit the opening, but they sat out at sea. I think for the middle 6 turns of the game I got about 3 platoons on the beach! Anything arriving after that was basically redundant given it takes at least two turns to get across the beach before you can even start moving up the table. I was unlucky with my Typhoons too – 3 hits on your Stugs and couldn’t even kill one, hopeless!

    I think the answer to fixing it lies somewhere in the middle – make it easier to get onto the beach, maybe having a guaranteed landing each turn after a particular turn like the new reserves rule. Maybe extend the time limit a couple of turns, but not too much, couple of turns maximum.

    Overall it was an interesting game and something different. It also generated a good amount of interest, which was the main point of it, so mission accomplished!

    Cheers,

    Paul.

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  13. Truly fantastic looking game, Scott. Awesome. Dean

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    1. Thanks Dean, glad you enjoyed it!

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