David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occassional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Oh, Oh, Oh What a Lovely War!

Phil and I played a Great War 1914 game in GHQ today. We would normally be using our own ever evolving rule set, a project in its own right which will probably rumble on on the back burner as long as we do without ever being finished, whatever that is in our wonderful hobby! Today, as we were both rather tired after the weekend away at Warfare, we decided to use Black Powder instead.
The Great War 1914 is a rare thing for us as a project, in that I painted the B.E.F. figures and Phil the 'Vile Hun'. They are almost all by Great War Miniatures, a fine range which could do with some expansion for 1914 gamers we think. (Some of the Hun are from Muttonchop I think.) We were really pleasantly surprised at how well the game played out, lasting fifteen turns either side of lunch. We played a simple encounter scenario to keep things moving along, giving each Commander in Chief a 9 rating and each Battalion Commander an 8 rating. Machine guns were counted separately from their battalions for morale and casualties but didn't need separate orders necessarily, moving with the battalion in normal circumstances. All deployed infantry units not in column in the game we counted as Partially Obscured. We also gave the B.E.F. the First Fire rule in every turn to try to simulate the "15 Rounds, Rapid Fire!" doctrine of the British. Anyway, enough flannel about rules, on to the game. The British won the dice off for Initiative and so moved first. I ordered the South Staffs forward to the road to dig in, which they failed to do!  The 17th Lancers reached the copse and deployed as dismounted skirmishers, supported by the battery of guns from the RHA. In resonse the Hun occupied the ruined farm and deployed two batteries of artillery on the B.E.F.'s right flank ~

















The South Staffs steeled themselves for the storm of fire about to engulf them. If only they could reach the road and dig in they might yet hold their position awaiting support ~



















The Hun sensed an early opportunity and hurried a Battalion into the orchard opposite the South Stafford's position to support the Jaegers holding the ruins of the farm. In the distance you can just make out the columns of the Scottish Division, who are making very slow progress up the road to the front ~
























While the Gordon Highlanders and the Borderers made slow progress towards the front line, the RA battery was already in position and shelling the enemy held farm. There was no sign of the bulk of the Hun force as yet, but there was no time for complacency in the British command ~
















Brigadier Bykleigh takes stock of the position, taking advantage of the cover provided by a high wall! He is awaiting news from the front line troops before committing the remainder of his force to action. "Where are those Hun Battalions?" ~

















Well, if he waits for a certain Captain Blackadder to pass on the information the war will be over! ~















The South Staffords remain exposed short of the road and suffer dreadfully from the Hun artillery. They anxiously await support, which seems very slow to materialise. In the distance the Scottish Division Battalions are also stalled as they try ot flank the Huns in the farm ~


















On the B.E.F.'s left flank the Gordon Highlanders are stalled and the Borderers are caught in column and take heavy casualties. Note: its a bad idea to fail a command order roll when facing entrenched machine guns and infantry! At last though the Dragoon Guards reach the artillery copse and offer some support to the beleaguered Staffords. The Shropshire Light Infantry are still a long way in the rear though! ~


















The B.E.F.'S position seems to be steadying now. The K.O.S.L.I. and the Highlanders are both getting into action in support of their hard pressed colleagues. The Hun in and around the farm are proving very stubborn foe, despite being Shaken and Disordered they hold their ground bravely. There will be a few Iron Crosses awarded today I feel ~
















In fact so stubborn is their resistance that they force the Borderers to Retreat and lick their wounds! I was finding the Jaegers an especially tough nut to winkle out of the farm ~













At last the Battalion supporting the Jaegers has Broken and flees to the rear. Despite a number of machine gun 'jams' the tide is turning slowly for the B.E.F. With the Gordons now Shaken and the Borderers still regrouping the game could still go either way ~












Back in the B.E.F.'s centre the Staffords are forced to Retreat Shaken while their Machine Gun Company holds their position to cover the retreat and the RHA battery threatens the flank of any advancing Hun. The situation is tense here ~














Despite being Shaken and Disordered the Staffords and their supports force the Hun along the ridge opposite to Retreat. The fortunes of war are swinging first one way, then the other ~















Finally, in Turn 14, the Hun's resolve collapses and his troops rush to the rear. The Gordons have finally driven the Jaegers from the ruined farm and the Hun's centre has collapsed under fire from the K.O.S.L.I. who late in the action arrive in the nick of time to save the day ~














A splendid game, swinging first one way and then the other. Black Powder worked so well with a few tweaks to the characteristics of the troops. In three weeks' time when we are next gaming here in GHQ we will be trying the game for a second time. In this replay we will make a few changes: Battalions will be represented by 5, not 10, bases of infantry (even though we will have to deploy an imaginary  machine gun company for the second battalion) and machine guns will have a close range bonus at 12" not 6". As Phil will be away next week it will be a good while before there is another game report from GHQ. I hope to use the time profitably to finish more troops for the Wars of the French Revolution project and for the VBCW. Pop back soonish to see how I get on.

20 comments:

  1. Inspirational as usual (but I'm not going to start ANOTHER period!) ;-)

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    1. Thanks for that Colin! I look forward to seeing your 1914 armies next week!

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  2. Great game report. Some lovely pictures there.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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  3. Great looking game, nice to see a project developing on the battlefield😀 I have never managed to get my head around wargaming WW1

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    1. Thank you Matt. Speaking of development we've already been tinkering with the rules.

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  4. A fine report of an equally fine game, surprised how well BP performed, no real glaringly weird results.
    May be easier to assign the one MG base to a battalion and roll twice next game?

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    1. Yes, BP coped better than we did! In the upscaled rerun I propose 4 bases to a Battalion plus machine gun.

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  5. Great photos, David. I'm very envious of your excellent terrain/set-up.

    Best wishes

    Giles

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    1. Thank you Giles, but I'm merely a happy snapper! I'm sure Phil would make you some boards at a good price.

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  6. Lovely figures and fine scenery the early war period has a special charm and your game captures that perfectly.
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments. Black Powder did 1914 quite well we found. It was very important to Rally Off casualties we found.

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  7. Yes lovely figures and scenery with a stirring thrashing of the Hun! (Sorry Phil).

    I've always had a soft spot for 1914 gaming ever since reading Guns of August some 50 years ago.

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    1. Always good to thrash the Hun I've found!

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  8. Excellent looking game as ever David. Are you making a differentiation between the number of MGs assigned to British and German battalions? Am now back in Brussels with my whole collection under 1 roof, including my 1914 stuff, I shall be following your future games avidly :)

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    1. Can't speak for the Brits, Dave will have to answer that. In our own rules we are working on a MG base is two guns. A German regiments 13th company(MG) had six guns, so I assign one base per battalion.

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    2. Up to late 1915 each battalion had a Machine Gun Section consisting of a Lieutenant, a Sergeant, a Corporal, 2 drivers, a batman and 12 Privates trained in the maintenance, transport, loading and firing of the Vickers heavy machine gun. These men made up two six-man gun teams.

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    3. Thanks, that makes sense, and the scaling would allow for a Divisional or even a corps attack on an 8 by 5 table. With Cavalry in 6s by the look of things that would aloow for a very nice looking game. Just need to go find some 105s, and 4.7s now to round out the artillery support.

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  9. Thanks for that,Jon. Trust all is as well as can be?

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