Saturday, March 31, 2012

Boardgame Night: War of 1812

One of the fellows at the local boardgames club brought something new this week, The War of 1812: Invasion of Canada by Academy Games.

I had seen mention of this, including a brief demo video, via the ConsimL twitter feed some time back and had thought, "wow, that looks cool." It is cool. 1812 is a little more complicated than the classic block game by Columbia, but similarly fun and playable. The map ranges from Detroit in the west to Montreal in the east and is divided into areas which can be contest by up to five players on two sides.

There are two types of Americans: Regulars and Militia, and three types of British: Regulars, Canadian Militia, and Indians. Each of these five types gets its own move during a turn, but in random order. Movement is card driven, and a few special cards allow movement options such as lake movement, allowing you to land forces behind enemy lines. Other cards confer special advantages in combat. Each side has several movement cards which are also called treaty cards, and when three treaty cards in a row are played by either side, the game ends. While the US players have better cards, the British player gets to move more often in a turn.

Combat is by a clever system of bespoke dice which generates several results: Kill, Run Away, and Decision (you get to stay and fight or move to a friendly or uncontrolled adjacent area). The distribution of these results varies by troop type. British regulars almost always kill their opponents and never run away, US regulars are almost as good but can sometimes run away, Canadian and US militia run away a lot, and Indians can kill and get a lot of Decision results, which means that you can use a battle to scatter them, guerilla like, in the areas adjacent to that battle. This technique is really annoying for the US.

The cards are have some really fine artwork, the production values are high, and the game mechanics are interesting and clever. The randomized sequence of the play would give some good solitaire replayability, while playing it in teams of 3 vs 2, as we did Thursday night, is a lot of fun as well.

War of 1812: Invasion of Canada gets the Mad Padre Blessing and is highly recommended. The only down side, for me, is that it has now planted a seed in my brain, that a few 28mm miniatures for War of 1812 skirmish gaming might be a lot of fun. Sharpe Practice would be the perfect set of rules. Agghhh! Stop thinking that! Noooo!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Weekend At Hot Lead 2: Victorians On Venus

Don't read this post if you are offended by silly and lighthearted wargaming. If however you enjoy this sort of thing, pray read on.

One of the traditions with Hot Lead is the Sunday morning Victorian SF Bring and Battle. This game features players throwing their favourite Colonial troops into battle, augmenting them with whatever steampunk clanks and contraptions they can think up and scratchbuild or convert. It's also a game that sees adults and children, often parents and their kids, happily play side by side, which is quite a wonderful thing.

Here you can see the mix of adults and kids at the huge table, with their forces on the start lines.

On the bottom left of the picture is Paul (Pablito) Remisch in the red shirt, with his wonderful son Will, who anchored my left flank. Will was a most helpful and reliable ally to have.

So as explained by our GM, Richard (Rico) Brayton, we were all on Venus, a planet which is the subject of the latest rush to grab bits of empire by the colonial powers and their armies of human and alien sepoys. Apparently Venus is hot and dusty and inhospitable, but has certain rare elements that are quite coveted on earth and abroad, apparently, as aliens from beyond the solar system, suspiciously similar to HG Wells' Martians, had also shown up to mine some of those valuable elements.

"The chances of anything coming from Mars, are a million to one, he said.
The chances of anything coming from Mars, are a million to one,
But still, they come."

(Bonus points if you remember Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, extra bonus points if you remember who the narrator was).

The owner of these nice tripods explained to me that they are entirely made from things purchased at a dollar store, less the tentacles on one, which he found at Historicon.

Since I had flown to Hot Lead and didn't bring any figures, James Manto kindly leant me some of his gorgeous late Colonial British and Native troops, including these beautifully painted Highlanders. Someone else kindly kitted me out with the large black steam locomotive tank, and the little walker chap at top left.

I was also given a rocket dirigible, HMS Billious, seen here doing some last minute recce while the field gun deploys ready for action front.

General "Stonky" Smythe-Dishrag surveys the approaching foe, the Imperial Dutch Colonial Army, consisting of rocket troops, alien Krootish mouted rifles on giant Saurian thingies (some really nice conversion work by my opponent Dave), a giant blue behemoth of a tank, and some more mounted troops riding mechanical dragonflies (more brilliant conversions). Oh, and for some reason, the legendary vampire hunter, Baron Van Helsing, was also present with the Dutch, having sniffed out vampire activity in the British colony, a most dreadful slur on her Majesty's subjects in space. Note the bagpipe player riding on the deck of the tank. That explains why its crew is buttoned up, no doubt!

Once things got going it was quite impossible for me to observe everything else that happened on the far end of the table. There were a lot of Arab types among our opponents, and a vast horde of them tangled with the aliens, damaging a tripod, killing some dismounts, and generating vast numbers of martyrs from the alien heat rays.

Here some more Arabs charge the US contingent:

Japanese infantry, US allies in this battle, advance, while an airship thingie (Japanese as well, I think) covers them from above:

Venus proved to be a confounded dangerous place, with various critters appearing at random. Here Imperial German machine gun troops try to stop an advancing giant scorpion:

While their infantry colleagues are ambushed and a few eaten by raptor-like creatures looking suspiciously Holstein in colouration:

On my front, I unlimbered my artillery and halted by steam tank to shoot up the mechanical dragon fly rider guys as they came at me. I got a few, and the survivors closed in on HMS Billious in an attempt to bring her down:

Lt. Archibald Smedley climbs out on the wing of the Billious, armed with his trusty Webley service pistol, and fights off the flying Dutchmen. He would be awarded the Distinguished Service Order for this feat, thanks in small part to his engagement to Miss. Fiona Crumblethwaite-Brookhamster, niece of Lady Smythe-Dishrag. The flying Dutchmen were destroyed in this fight, while Billious survived and continued the fight.

Meanwhile, on my left, young Will sent Her Majesty's aircar Chitty Chitty BoomBoom in to bomb and strafe the Dutch Saurian Mounted Dudes, checking their advance but nearly being shot down in the process:

For my part, while my Highlanders suffered grievously at the river when ambushed by the Dutch rocket troops, who cam over a small hill, rocket packs and guns blazing, the Dutch were in their turn wiped out in a charge of my 21st Lancers, sadly not pictured here, winning their commander a Mention in Dispatches. After four hours of play, when we finally came to a halt, it was agreed that the Dutch Alliance had lost its grip on Venus, and that Perfidious Albion would be dominant, especially as its allies, the US and Japan, had been bled white in the battle.

Now, if only we can grow a decent strain of tea here, this could be a decent place for a plantation, what?

My Weekend At Hot Lead Part 1

For the last fifteen years, gamers across Ontario and sometimes from over the border make a late March pilgrimage to Stratford for Hot Lead, one of the best miniature wargames events in Canada. More often than not I've been either busy preparing for Easter in the parish, or since joining the army, being too busy or too far away or both. However, this year I had some time, a WestJet seat sale, and Mrs. Padre busy and urging me to play with my friends, so off I went. Last Thursday I drove from Medicine Hat to Calgary in a snowstorm, and landed in Kitchener, ON in summer weather of 26 degrees C. My mate James Manto, the evil genius behind Hot Lead, met me there along with his lovely wife Elizabeth, and took me to their house, where they kindly put me up for the weekend.

Having solved the problem of getting to Stratford, I now faced the problem of what games to play in over the three days. My cunning plan of volunteering to fill out the sign sheets for each game on Thursday left James with one less job to do, and me to put my name wherever I wanted. So I was guaranteed a seat in the games of my choice, I just had to choose. Hnmmm.

For Friday night I decided to play in a 1/1200 scale naval game hosted by Ian Tetlow, a talented painter and games master who teaches botany at the U of Guelph when not gaming. Ian's game was based on the WW1 1915 battle of Dogger Bank, when Hipper's battlecruisers blundered into Beatty's.

Ian had a lovely map from (I think), Seascape:

A closeup of some of Ian's models: I believe these are the Seydlitz and Derfflinger:

The rules we used were Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts by Mongoose. They seemed fairly simple and playable.

I volunteered to take the light stuff, three German destroyers and a light cruiser, the Magedburg. I liked the idea of being a dashing destroyer captain, standing on my flying bridge, silk scarf streaming in the wind, leading my greyhounds into torpedo range. After a few turns of screening the heavies, I got my chance and was pointed at the British line.

Here are my three DDs charging at the British monsters:

Unfortunately it didn't go as planned. My ligh cruiser and two DDs were smashed to scrap and sunk before they got within torpedo range. The third DD turned away, escaped while the British were pounding the German heavy ships, and then came around for another try now that one of Beatty's battlecruisers had fallen out of line. The British DDs had tried the same maneuvre, rather more successfully, and the sole surviving British tin can, half sinking, got a lucky shot in, crippling my speed and allowing the secondaries on my target to finish me off.

This experience left me reconsidering the wisdom of playing in a naval game at a convention, given that in a land battle, regiments don't usually blow up and sink so quickly.

Saturday morning saw me in another kind of battle, helping the hardpressed convention staff run the Bring and Buy booth. Well, I had to earn the coveted Hot Lead staff red shirt somehow. By 09:30 we had an impressive pile of minis, terrain, and books of all kinds and qualities, and a solid press of gamers piled up three and four deep waiting for our 09:30 open. The next hour was totally frenzied, but by 10:30 the crush had abated and I had time to wander about and look at some games.

I may not have this right, but I believe this was the Battle of Lake Erie, one of the many War of 1812 games offered at Hot Lead. Nice ships.

One of several Vietnam games on offer:

A very fine Lord of the Rings game, with orcs trying to take Osgiliath from the men of Gondor. I got the impression that both sides had ginormous off board catapults that occasionally fired and did horrific things to anyone underneath them.

Ian Tetlow and friends' Saturday Napoleonic game, a massive 28mm recreation of the 1813 battle of Bautzen. This game was massive, and ran for most of the day.

An example of the very high standard of the figures in the Bautzen game:

By Saturday afternoon I was done with Bring and Buy and had chosen a WW2 game, "Fallschmirjager vs the Ripperton Home Guard", a SeaLion game in 28mm by Chris Mallet. I've always been a sucker for SeaLion games. Chris was using Battlefront rules.

A view of the peaceful village of Ripperton, showing some of the lovely buildings in Chris' collection. The British had a FOO somewhere in the two larger buildings and the FJ were tasked with going in and winkling him out so a nearby airfield could be used to bring in reinforcements.

The Germans attack in company strength.

There were a few nasty surprises, including a booby trapped bridge that put paid to our hasty assault with motorbikes, a home made device throwing molotov cocktails at us, and lots of barbed wire on the far side of the stream. However, by the end of play we had decent strength in the village and our training was proving superior to the Home Guard, but the British still held the big buildings. While we all had fun, I confess that I didn't fund the Battlefront rules to my taste.

n Saturday evening I decided to overcome my qualms about naval gaming and stuck with my choice to play in Glen Broome's American Civil War game, the 1862 Battle of Memphis. The Confederate fleet was a motley collection of underarmed and unarmoured paddlewheelers, but they were fast and they had rams. Here are some of Glen's beautiful 1/600th scale ships, the CS fleet ready to go.

The US fleet in contrast had fewer ships, better armed and armoured, but quite slow. The result was pretty awful for the Union, ending rather like the sea battle in Ben Hur ended for Jack Hawkin's character, with most of the Union players dogpaddling in the muddy Mississippi.

It wasn't a great result for the Union, but it gave me a feel for the rules Glenn was using, Sail and Steam Navies, and gave me some ideas for my own ACW campaign, where I have a riverine component and have just bought some Thoroughbred models of CS and US ships. Lots of food for thought.

Other battles running Saturday night included an awesome looking WW2 air battle over North Africa, hosted by my friend Keith Burnett, a wonderful game master, using Check Your Six rules and 1/300th scale German, Italian and British planes.

Another air game running Saturday night, a WW1 game with a balloon busting theme.

Gary Schofield ran this beautiful looking 28mm game, featuring a hypothetical invasion of Nova Scotia during the American War of Independence.

Among the other games I noticed in between turns in my ACW game was this amazing chariot racing game, set in the Circus Maximus. More shades of Ben Hur. A lovely terrain piece, thoughit may be picky to ask why the numbers on the racecourse were not in Roman numerals. Still a beautiful game.

There were more games than this at Hot Lead, and you can see more of them at my friend James Manto's blog. Overall it was a good go. The quality of games and their presentation was generally high, the convention is small enough that it is an intimate and friendly experience, the venue is first class and the volunteers running it all are good people. I recommend it.

In my next post, a report on the wild and wacky Sunday morning Victorian SF bring and battle game.

I Got Blitzed

Three 15mm resin Opel Blitz German lorries from Gaming Models which I finished just before leaving for Hot Lead. Reasonably priced, fairly well detailed. My only complaint is that the resin had a lot of pitting in the canvas covering the top the back of the truck, but it doesn't show at a reasonable distance. I would buy more of their stuff. These three models will give my Normandy Germans some lift for a battery of 105s that I need to finish shortly.

I totally stole some weathering ideas from some work on the Guild WarGamers forum and tried some techniques with pitting and rust patches. For the rust I tried both a Tamiya weathering kit and then watered down GW Scorched Brown. Both techniques worked reasonably well. I also slathered some globs of brown latex FolkArt brown paint into the wheelwells to look like accumulated mud.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

ACW Campaign Update - From the Bluffsburg Mercury, 24 June

The Bluffsburg Mercury

Editor's Note: Ms. Katty O'Kay, a well-known belle of the town, a most respected, charitable, and chaste young lady of good family, and possessed of the finest education that New Orleans could bestow upon her, has agreed to employ her pen for the benefit of our readers desirous of intelligence as to the state of emergency in the county. In the absence of our male correspondents, who have been called to the colors, Ms. O'Kay will serve our readers with the most reliable and useful information that may be gleaned in this difficult times.

Bluffsburg, 24 June, 1862

Whereas a week ago today our town of Bluffsburg was thronged with crowds and marching soldiers, and resounded with stirring martial airs, today by contrast Bluffsburg is almost desolate. That day a week ago, General Theophilus Hatcher led his command north to face the Yankee invaders.

I do not believe that there was a soul amongst us not deeply touched by those men who came to Bluffsburg County to be our defenders, especially with our own men serving across the river near Corinth, and hardly one man of fighting age remaining. From the southern part of our Magnolia State came the four regiments of Colonel Archibald (Archie to his friends, he hastened to tell me) Gibson, a hardy and experienced soldier. Col. Gibson's men hale from the pine forests of the Gulf Coast region, which explains their nickname of the "Old Pine Tar Brigade". As one sergeant told me, "We are fixing to stick to our ground like pine tar, and not go anywhere."

Proceeding Gibson's brigade some days prior was of course the brigade of Col. Roger Ewing Bates, a mixture of soldiers from Arkansas, Louisiana, and far away Texas, all grim and experienced fighters. They were ferried across the Mississippi early one morning, and I have had no knowledge of their whereabouts since. One thing is sure, between Colonels Gibson and Bates, both banks of the Mississippi will be stoutly held against the Yankee.

Who present a week ago will forget the cavalacade that led the way north out of Bluffsburg, the dashing cavalry of Col. Romney Wagner? This proud chevalier leads men from Texas, Georgia, and our own Magnolia State, the 19th Light Horse from the border country near Tennessee where boys learn to ride early on. Accompanying them was a trim battery of flying artillery, under the young and dashing Captain Collver.

Of Colonel Hatcher, all present felt the greatest admiration for his sacrifice. Several months after he was wounded at Shilo, he still wears his arm in a sling, and the pain of his wound is written clearly on his face. Nevertheless, this brave and veteran commander is determined to take the fight to the enemey. As he told the Mercury, Jefferson City may have been taken by surprise, but he is determined that he will meet and defeat the enemy before they can take Bluffsburg.

There is no citizen, I am sure, who will disagree that Bluffsburg is the key to the upper Mississippi. With our commanding position on the hills above the river, our town is the only bastion north of the larger city of Vicksburg. Indeed, as General Hatcher told me, if he can hold Bluffsburg, then he holds the key to the locked door of Vicksburg in his pocket, and the Yankees will be unable to connect with their tyranous forces oppressing New Orleans.

Now, a week later, the town is quiet and apprehensive. General Hatcher and his troops have moved north, and all know that Yankee troops have been massing in Jefferson City this past month. We must put our faith in southern arms and chivalry now. However, Bluffsburg still has defenders. A stout battery guards the heights above the river, and down at the docks, two mighty warships make their final preparations.

Today I visited Captain Seamus O'Donnell and his command, the ironclad Joshua and the river gunboat Maccabbee. These two warships are making final preparations to get underway, and will steam upriver to reinforce the fort at Island No 6, which readers will know from before more peaceful points as a key link between the banks of the Mississippi. Captain O'Donnell, a native of County Cork and a former sailor in the Royal Navy, gave me a tour of his flagship the Joshua, and it is indeed a worthy tribute to its namesake, the mighty warrior of the Lord from Scripture. With its decks wrapped in iron rails, stout beams of timber, and terrifying cannon hidden within its casemate, the Joshua will surely guard the river against anything the Yankees may devise.

And so, gentle reader, we await what fate and the Northern invader can do, trusting in God, in our brave soldiers and sailors, and in the resolve of our citizens. May Bluffsburg remain, in these dark times, a shining city upon a hill, a beacon to the free peoples of the South!

ACW Campaign Update - From the Chicago Star, 24 June

It's hard to believe that the Bluffsburg Campaign, which I launched last November, is now just finishing its second full game day. At a rate of roughly 45 calendar days to one game day, I wonder how long it would take to do the entire Civil War? Maybe my grandson could finish that project for me.

One of my aims for the campaign was to impose a fairly severe degree of fog of war on the proceedings. One player has described the ensuing confusion as more London pea soup than Mississippi morning mist. I often wish I could tell players and spectators more about what is going on in the campaign. I have resolved that by allowing some correspondents to cover the campaign, and by ensuring that their reports lag two days behind game time, I can provide some commentary on the campaign as it unfolds, rather than waiting until God knows when for a series of "Now It Can Be Told" posts. That seems a viable compromise to me.

The first of our two correspondents is Mr. Wolfgang Blitzed of the Chicago Star. On assignment with the Union Army in Jefferson City, Mr. Blitzed will give the Union view of the proceedings. Miss Katty O'Kay of the Bluffsburg Mercury will represent the Confederate point of view. Neither correspondent has a clear understanding of OPSEC and both are highly partisan. However, they should give some additional views of the campaign to players and spectators alike.

Jefferson City, MS, 24 June
From Wolfgang Blitzed, Correspondent to the Chicago Star

After several weeks of inaction, it now appears that General Silas B. Moore has assembled sufficient forces to begin the next stage in cleansing this portion of the State of Mississippi of the viperous successionsts who infest it.

Readers will remember that General Moore began the war as one of Illinois' greatest hopes for military glory, having left his valuable work of linking the great and growing cities of the MidWest with ties of iron, and exchanging the work of an engineer for the work of a captain of arms. However, there was the unfortunate episode of the "Shilo Slows", when Gen. Moore and his command missed the opportunity to serve under General Grant in that great battle, through what, we are sure, was no fault of his own. However, Gen. Moore does labour under a cloud, and all proud sons and daughters of Illinois have hoped that he would redeem himself.

McCubbing House, Jefferson City, General Moore's Headquarters

Now it appears that fate and General Halleck have given him his chance. I have learned that Moore has called a council of war for his commanders this evening in the grand McCubbing House. It is only fitting the country seat of a notorious slaveowner and secesh panjanandrum should be the place where the plan to return this part of Mississippi to the Union should be hatched.

Readers will be interested to know that one of Moore's paladins is a prominent son of Chicago, Colonel Ulrich Von Daniken. A professional soldier and graduate of West Point, Von Daniken was called back from duties fighting Indians in the West to command state forces. Three of his infantry regiments, the 9th, 15th and 23rd represent our state, and they are brigaded with a brand new regiment raised in Ohio, the Fightin' 29th. Our Buckeye brothers will doubtless be tutored on the march by their Prairie State comrades. Von Daniken also commands the redlegs of the Chicago Board of Trade Battery, drawn exclusively from the merchants and factors of the Windy City.

Besides Von Daniken's brigade, Moore can field two additional brigades, those of Hemmings and Clapp, whose regiments also reflect the midwestern flavour of this army. Both Clapp and Hemmings are citizen soldiers, who like their soldiers thronged to the colors to save the Union. All have no doubt that they will give a good account of themselves. Among the cavalry regiments commanded by Lt. Col. Bruggeman, like Von Daniken a seasoned Indian fighter, are the 12th Illinois, known amongst themselves as the Sandhill Dragoons. They are fierce and elegant figures in their fresh blue uniforms gaily adorned with yellow piping, and they tell me that their sabres are freshly sharpened to put paid to Johnny Reb.

Another curiousity in this city is the presence of many sailors from the United States Navy's riverine fleet, who arrived here last week. They man a curious assortment of vessels, two of which resemble hulking and sinister black turtles, while others are converted merchant paddlewheel steamers which once plied the great river Mississippi in happier times. Their commander, Captain Edward Holquist, is a mariner who knows his business, and he will be present at the council of war tonight.
Besides the navy men, a considerable number of civilian riverboat steamers have been gathered together here and there is talk of an audacious move downstream to take Bluffsburg in an amphibuous coup de main.

In my next post, hopefully tonight or tomorrow, Ms. Katty O'Kay will report on the Confederate view of things.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Audet Ambushed: A Platoon Forward Game, Part Three

Normandy, June 8, 18:20 hours

The crack of grenades was still ringing in his ears as Audet took stock of the situation. Matthieu's rifle section began to secure the hedgerow, while Pte. Leblanc checked the two prone forms left on the ground after the brief fight. One was clearly dead, but the other German was holding up his uninjured arm in an indication of surrender. Audet noticed that both Germans wore camouflaged smocks and helmet covers, unlike the ones he had seen previously, who wore their plain fieldgray uniforms. "Watch that one", he said to Leblanc.

Climbing down from the hedgerow on to the road, Audet saw Padre Huard praying by the carrier that had contained Matthieu's Bren section. The crew stood nearby, their heads uncovered. Looking into the passenger compartment, Audet saw two bodies, both covered with gas capes.

His Sten gun held loosely, Audet headed for the front of the ruined convoy, passing the burning truck in the centre of the column. It's cab was fully engulfed in flame. The crew of the lead truck were standing back from the flames, smoking cigarettes with expressionless faces. Beyond them, where the lead carriers had been ambushed, he saw Doc Armand kneeling and working beside a prone figure. Close by, two more men sprawled nearby, their battledress dusty. Dark brown stains surrounded the torn serge fabric where the Spandaus had caught them.

Cpl. Legros and several of his riflemen watched the doctor working. Audet didn't like the way they had left the road and hedgerows uncovered. He grabbed Legros' shoulder to get his attention. "Report."

"My Bren team. Arsenault and Gagnon are dead. LaRoche got one in the chest. Looks bad."

"OK. Secure this site. You and your men make sure the doc is covered. I'll call in for help. Where's Sergeant Beaulieu?"

Legros shrugged. "Dunno."

Back in the center of the column, Audet found his platoon sergeant sitting beside the road, smoking a cigarette, his eyes unfocused. One side of Beaulieu's face was splashed with drying blood.

"Is that yours?"

No answer.

"I said, is that your blood, sergeant?"

Beaulieu shook his head, pointed to the carrier where the two bodies lay.

Padre Huard came up beside Audet. "I think he's in shock."

Audet pushed his helmet back and looked around. "Stay with him, Padre. Corporal Côté !"

Two section's leader trotted over to him. Audet was relieved to see that the man's eyes were alert behind his spectacles. "You're acting sergeant. Send two men with a stretcher up to help the Doc. Get the rest to secure this road until we get some help. I don't want to get hit again."

From there, Audet went over to his carrier to call his Company. He wasn't looking forward to speaking to the Major.


So the aftermath of the action is not great. For each soldier who got a killed result in TW&T, I rolled a 1d6, with the result of 1-2 lightly wounded, 3-4 seriously wounded, and 5-6 dead. The results are unkind. Two of Legros' One Section Bren team are dead, and the third is seriously wounded. Two of Matthieu's Three Section Bren team are also dead.

Since Sgt. Beaulieu's card only came up once at the end of the fight, my artistic license is that he was shocked into immobility during the fight. Having two men killed beside him evoked memories of the Great War, perhaps, hence his being incapacitated at the end.

For the Freeform Event at the end of the fight, Audet wants Sgt. Beaulieu removed from his platoon. That is a possible result on Platoon Forward's All Knowing Odds Table, but a "10" result means not now. That result isn't helped by Audet's abrasive personality and by his lack of success in the mission. Doc Armand thinks a day's rest is all the sergeant needs, and Major Charpentier agrees with the Doc. It looks as if Audet will be stuck with his crusty old sergeant for a while yet.

Now there are two rolls to be made on the Fixed Events table.

The first is a 5, Player Character. The subsequent roll is a 4, Character Noticed. A subsequent roll of 5 means that a squad leader has been noticed, and that squad leader turns out to be Legros. Legros has been noticed by his surviving section mates. His coarse personality does not help, but the roll is a "5" on a 1d6, so that is not a bad result. Turns out that what's left of his section thinks Legros has done a pretty good job of keeping them alive, and they blame Audet for their casualties.

The second Fixed Event roll is a 2, meaning Equipment. The result is a "5". meaning additional rounds of something. I decide that since Division has learned some lessons from its contact with 12th SS, extra PIAT anti-tank rounds will be issued. No 18 Platoon will get a case of three PIAT rounds to go with their PIAT and its six standard rounds. Someone will have to carry that gear.

Sadly, no replacements are available for No 18 Platoon for now.

Audet has limited opportunity to interact with Major Charpentier, but he senses that his Company Commander is acting cool to him. Audet knows thay Doc Armand and Padre Huard have spoken well of his conduct in the ambush, particularly during the melee in the hedgerow. However, he fears that Charpentier may have deflected any displeasure from the Colonel onto Audet's shoulders, rather than accept the blame for ordering a road move in an area that is still unsecured. Audet was hoping for some recognition for bringing back a prisoner from 21st Panzer Division, but Charpentier treated this as nothing very special.

Before he retires for the night, Audet draws up this roster for No. 18 Platoon.

Platoon Commander: Lt. Denis Audet with one soldier as a signaller with the platooon radio set.

Platoon Sergeant: Sgt. Beaulieu (ordered to rest for a day)

No 1 Section: Cpl. Legros and four soldiers, plus one soldier who is recovering from serious wounds. Audet has decided to use the section as a Bren team with one soldier to carry the platoon PIAT and others to carry the PIAT rounds.

No 2 section: Cpl. Côté and six men, plus one soldier recovering from serious wounds and two recovering from light wounds. Cote has the section organized as a two man Bren team and himself with four soldiers as the rifle team.

No 3 section: Cpl Matthieu and seven men. Matthieu has the section organized as a three man Bren team and himself with four soldiers as the rifle team.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Audet Ambushed. A Platoon Forward Game, Part Two

The ambush scenario in Platoon Forward requires the side being ambushed to traverse a table from one edge to another. Accordingly, I set up this Normandyish scene with a main road and some side roads. The blinds on the board indicate possible German ambush sites, which are rolled for randomly as per PF's mecnahism for determining the type and number of OPFOR. As per the ambush rules, the ambushing side has six turns to wreak havoc before relieving forces come to the rescue, at which point the game either ends or is continued with the ambushing side taking on the relievers. The ambushers are outnumbered by a factor of 1-3 or thereabouts.

As with other Denis Audet games, I am playing them solitaire, using Too Fat Lardies' Troops, Weapons and Tactics rules. Normally I would use 20mm or 1\72nd scale rules for these games, but given the number of vehicles needed for the convoy I am using my 15mm kit. All the infantry shown below are manufactured by Battlefront, as are the carriers. The trucks are from Old Glory. The buildings are from Paper Terrain by Scitt Washburn, which I highly recommend for affordable buildings.

Cpl Legros leads the way with three section as the convoy sets off.

"Is he going to be decorated?" Audet asked Dr. Armand as their carrier clattered along a narrow dirt road.

"He should be." The RMO was referring to Pte Roy*, from the regiment's antitank platoon. He had been found dead beside his 6 pdr gun, and everyone was saying that his actions were deserving of the Victoria Cross. "If it hadn't been for Roy and his gun, the Jerries would have overrun A Company. Hell of a way to spend our first night in France."

"A decoration would be good for us, for the Regiment" said Audet. He allowed himself a brief vision of being at Buckingham Palace and having the English king pin a medal on his dress uniform, maybe an MC. That would be good.

The Canadian convoy enters further on the board. The first blind in the village is a dummy blind. Phew! But wait a moment ... the second blind is the real deal, Gefreiter Letkeman and his panzer grenadiers.

In the back of the carrier, the Chaud's chaplain, Padre Huard,** was dozing, his head pillowed against a canvas satchel stuffed with medical equipment. He and the RMO were good friends, and often entertained their fellow officers with debates about science and religion. Audet, not much of a churchgoer, felt uncomfortable around the padre, but he acknowledged the good he did to the men. Huard's simple burial service for Cpl Yergeau two days ago had meant a lot to the men of 18 Platoon.

Looking ahead, from his place in the middle of the column, Audet saw Sgt. Beaulieu in the carrier ahead of him, along with the three man Bren gun team of Cpl. Matthieu's Three Section. Ahead of them was one of the three lumbering trucks they were escorting, and ahead of it was Matthieu with his rifle team. Leading the convoy was Legros with 1 section, in the lead two carriers, with the lead truck between him and Matthieu. Looking back, Audet saw the rear most truck, and behind that, he knew, Cpl Cote and two section brought up the rear. From what he could see of him, his men were enjoying the novelty of riding instead of marching, and the gradual cooling of the oncoming evening was pleasant.

Achtung! Gefreiter Letkeman watches and awaits his opportunity. Battlefront Miniatures painted by my friend James Manto.


Letkeman signalled his men to prepare to fire. He wished he had some panzerfausts to see off the little tracked carriers, but Leutnant Krauss had said they were reserved for the frontline boys and couldn't be wasted on raiders. At least he had four Spandaus to put to good use. Just a moment more, let the two lead carriers pass, then the first truck, let that get into his other LMGs' field of fire, now a second truck ... "FIRE!"

The situation at the moment the ambush is sprung. The middle truck and Beaulieu's carrier are right in front of Letkeman. The two lead carriers with Legros' section are passing one of Letkeman's two LMG teams.

The third LMG team is sited with a clear line of sight down the road, able to engage the head of the column. It opens fire head on at the two carriers with Legros' section on board.

Sgt Beaulieu was telling the boys how they were spoiled having these little carriers, and how in the Great War he had been lucky for a ride in a stinking boxcar on the occasional train. "Marched our feet to nubs, we did."

Private Cournoyer, the No 2 on the Bren, laughed obligingly, just as all hell broke loose. He pitched forward, and Beaulieu felt something hot splash across his face. Old instinct kicked in, and he threw himself down in the back of the carrier, then felt a heavy weight as someone fell on top of him.

Behind him, Audet's eyes widened as he saw two men in the carrier ahead of him topple over, then was thrown off balance as his own carrier braked hard. He could hear at least two MGs, the distinctive Jerry sound, like canvas being ripped hard, sending a chill down his spine. The fire all seemed directed forward of him, and he could see muzzle flashes from the hedge about twenty five metres ahead and to his left. Now he could see two men leaping from the back of the carrier ahead, Beaulieu and another soldier with a Bren gun, and crouch behind their vehicle. Ahead of them was a loud WHOOOMP as the middle truck exploded into a fireball. He didn't see anyone get out.

Doc Armand and the Padre looked around them, their faces alarmed. "Stay down!" Audet told them, his mind racing.


The first two turns don't go well for the Canadians. The MG fire from Letkeman and one of his half sections causes two casualties on the passengers in Beaulieu's carrier, both from Matthieu's Bren team. The carrier crew must take a morale check and fail resulting in the passengers bailing out and the carrier retreating. Beaulieu and the surviving Bren gunner bail out. They get a few ineffectual shots off before taking covef under a hail if German kead. Letkeman's other section opens up on the truck, causing many hits, killing the crew and destroying the vehicle. It explodes. At the head of the column, both carriers transporting Legros' section fail their morale checks. The one carrying Legros and his rifle team turns to flee, while the second, carrying his Bren team, gets a result of passengers dismount.

The German's opening fire ends the first of six turns. The first draw of the second turn is, incredibly, the Tea Break card. Not a bad way to simulate shock and fear among the ambushed. The Germans open fire again. Legros' Bren team suffers two casualties. Beaulieu and the remnant of Matthieu's Bren team take several shock points. German fire is less effective this turn. Canadians cower.

A truck burns while Beaulieu and another soldier have scrambled out of their carrier and try to take shelter.

Turn 3 and the Canadians start reacting. The lead truck halts, its crew scrambling for the ditches. The rearmost truck's driver panics, and tries to reverse on the narrow road. Unfortunately, he does this as Cote tries to push forward. One of his carriers rolls badly and collides with the reversing truck, jamming both vehicles and blocking most of the road.

The two lead carriers retreat towards the centre of the column, leaving Legros' hapless Bren gun team cowering on the road, where they are all shot down. When Legros' car finally comes up, he is able to dismount, and directs his rifle section at one of Letkeman's two half sections.

Legros in action. Canadians begin to fight back.

Cpl. Cote is activated, and while his Bren team scrambles dazed from the wreck of their carrier, Cote leads his rifle team through the hedge and begins to try and outflank Letkeman. They get a few shots off and the shock begins to mount on the Germans.

Cote begins to stalk Letkeman, who is feeling less than comfortable now.

Audet is now activated. Leaving the Padre and the Doc in the relative shelter of the carrier, he goes to join himself to Legros' rifle section. That's Audet on the left, pointing decisively.

More Canadian reactions. Cpl Matthieu leads his rifle section to shelter behind the burning truck, and opens fire on Letkeman, who is now taking fire from three sides.

The German LMG team posted at the far left has a clear shot down the road and takes out the lead Canadian truck. All three trucks are now immobilized or burning.

Gefreiter Letkeman, a veteran, knows that the Tommies are over their shock and outnumber him. One of his half sections has taken a casualty. Time they were going. Joining one half section, he directs the other to withdraw a bound, set up their LMG, and cover his withdrawal. That way they will leapfrog back and break contact, trusting his other LMG teams will do the same.

Every game with Audet includes one use per game of the Heroic Commander card. Audet is a jerk, but he's a brave glory hound and the Heroic Commander card allows him to do something incredibly brave and rash. The HC card comes up now, just after Letkeman begins to pull back. Sensing that the German fire is slackening, Audet grabs Legros' arm, and waves his Sten at the hedge with his other hand. "A l'assaut les boys!" The Canadians charge forward, and roll enough movement dice to push through the hedge and into Letkeman and his half section. The ensuring Close Combat is a near thing, but the result is that the Germans lose two men and take some shock. They lose the melee and fall back 12 inches. Letkeman survives and his men fade away into the Norman countryside.
The ambush is over.

That charge concluded the fighting. The two German LMG teams break contact. The Germans lost three men. The Canadians had suffered five casualties, and the severity of these casualties will be checked in the next installment. Audet's mission had failed. The convoy would not get through. Two trucks were destroyed, with two crew killed. A third was damaged, along with a carrier. Not the outcome Audet had hoped for, but at least he has survived and has a sharp little fight in the hedgerows to point to, witnessed by the RMO and Padre from the carrier.

In our next installment, perhaps tomorrow night, we'll see what the result is for Audet.

*Pte L.V. Roy did exist. He and his 6 pdr played a vital role in protecting the Chaudiere's A Coy on the night of June 6-7. when they were nearly overrun by halftracks and troops from 21st Panzer Division. Roy never received a posthumous decoration but is still remembered in the Regiment today.
**Padre Huard also existed. He was a Roman Catholic priest serving as the regiment's chaplain in Normandy, and by this account, he was a good one.

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