Devoted followers of our dotty doings here in GHQ from time to time might recall that we occasionally dabble in alternate WWII 'history' set against a partially successful German execution of Operation Zeelowe. Our games are set in Shropshire, in and around the fictional location of Blandings Castle created by P.G.Wodehouse. These adventures feature the eccentric Earl Emsworth and his equally unusual family and staff. Its been a while since we last paid them a visit, and as the table in GHQ was still laid out for last week's VBCW game, it seemed an opportune moment with some modifications to the layout to stage a Blandings game. In our last extravaganza Emsworth was unfortunately captured by the Nazi invader, having failed to keep his end up when it mattered most! Our scenario sees a scratch force of mostly Estate staff and LDV stage a daring raid on Blandings Castle to free the Earl ~
'Empress Force', as we called the rag tag assembly of fighting Brits, assembles for the task of freeing Emsworth. It comprised three companies of mostly Estate staff together with some local LDV and their support weapons ~
In Turn 1 the Castle Company storms towards Home Farm. My plan was to make it into a strongpoint around which the Germans would be eliminated while my 'Snatch Squad' took on the task of freeing Emsworth and his sister, along with their Staff, and the Empress of course ~
Things were looking quite good at the end of the first turn! I've learned however that in Bolt Action games it does n't pay to rely on anything happening in the order you would prefer. On my right flank the second company from the estate advance supported by the 'Iron Pig', hoping to draw the German defenders away from their target while the 'Snatch Company' sheltered behind a field wall waiting to make their rush~
The Germans, commanded by Phil of course, were not in any move to cooperate with my plans! Units were switched to the weaker left flank and an anti tank gun deployed to deter armoured attack from that front ~
Meanwhile, the important task of guarding the castle and its distinguished prisoner was entrusted to a unit of Gestapo! They were not allowed to leave the inner perimeter, nor to support the Army units in any way, to introduce an element of inter faction rivalry so common in the Nazi set up ~
From Turn 2 onwards things began to unwind for the plans of 'Empress Force'! That's one of the small joys of Bolt Action we find; the order of dice drawn always leads to interesting situations and the need to make decisions on the hoof! My plan to seize the farm failed in Turn 2 when Phil's squad of Germans with a MMG made it in first and began to hammer my lads in the open with devastating burst of fire! A further concealed MMG on the corned of a field also opened fire and my 'Snatch Squad' was caught unawares and also suffered loss and gained pin markers ~
A second German squad now took up position in the adjacent field and began a steady fire on my units, bringing further losses and pin markers! All attempts on my part to issue orders to these companies failed totally in Turns 3 and 4 with disastrous consequences for my planned rescue ~
Just when it seemed things could not get worse a German tank hove into view on their right flank. Before it could get into action patriotic locals rushed from the cover of the buildings of Blandings Parva in an attempt to disable it! No such luck though: the gallant assault failed and the tank rumbled on towards the action ~
At last the Navy made an appearance, having commandeered, and upgraded, a river barge from its absent owners. This brought me much needed firepower and a small force of sailors who could be landed behind the German right flank ~
Although things were looking ominously bad for 'Empress Force', the sailors stormed ashore and took up position to enfilade the German positions on their right flank ~
That was at the end of Turn 6 though and the dicing for 'additional turns' showed that we would only play one more turn, making it impossible for the battered forces to rescue Emsworth and the Empress ~
While one company of 'Empress Force' had penetrated the castle's inner perimeter it was all too little too late. Emsworth and his sister and their staff remain prisoners of the sinister Graf von Brecher and the feared Gestapo! When we next visit Blandings later in the year the scenario will see Emsworth being transported to an airfield to be flown to meet Hitler himself, unless the convoy is ambushed along the way of course...
All quite barmy of course, but enjoyable none the less, while still incorporating problems for both commanders to solve with the limited forces at their disposal. That's it for a while now from GHQ. All being well Sue and I are off to South Queensferry with Phil and Di for a few days. Coincidentally the visit is over the weekend of the Falkirk club's Carronade show which Phil and I will be taking in on the Saturday. I even have a list!!!