Saturday, September 15, 2018

France 1940 ... 20mm action

I love the Spearhead rules set. And I love 20mm wargaming kit. So, when the chance comes around to combine the two, who am I to say no, even though SH is much better suited to smaller scale kit?
Andy has been thinking about how to use a small but growing WW2 Italian force that he originally started painting for Crossfire. Well, yep we could play Crossfire, which we both love. However Spearhead seems like a great alternative too.

When we play SH in 20mm, we use a 1.5x scale multiplier to movement and ranges to try to keep the vehicles a little more in scale.

And so here we were last night, with my two 20mm 1940 armies set for an encounter. I looked at Scenario Generation System points, but also wanted to keep the forces smaller, as the objective was to acquaint Andy with the WW2 Spearhead variant, to see if I could whet his appetite. So while two forces without artillery of any kind is much like the colosseum without the lions, it would suffice to get Andy used to manoeuvring on the table with three manoeuvre units. I did have a pleasant wee surprise for him, of which more later.

The British force was drawn from an infantry division (two battalions), with elements of an Independent Armoured Brigade in support. The German force was drawn from a German Panzer Division, two infantry battalions and a tank battalion.

The initial table set up, British deploying from the left in defence, and Germans attacking from the right.

The British deployed on the high ground and the woods trying to establish a defensive line, the Germans deploying into the attack.

A13 Cruisers deployed in support

German forces on the German left take the first town in their path. The British commander had chosen not to occupy the town.

A tank heavy battalion the result of cross attachment attacks on the German right

The British left waits

Elements of the British Division's cavalry squadron deployed on the far left of the British position - two MkVI troops and a carrier platoon.

The German right pushes forward

Action begins with fire exchanged on the British right

First German casualties

And the forward recce elements of the German right take fire and are destroyed

The British right flank battalion, with armoured support, deployed on the high ground, its own flank secured in the town.

The German right pushes forward against the British left

Initial armoured action is heavy, with both sides taking casualties

The last armoured support on the German left is destroyed

However the Independent Tank Brigade support on the British left is destroyed in a fierce exchange

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The German right pushes it's infantry forward

The German plan is now revealed when a flank march arrives on the German left, giving overwhelming odds to the main German attack

The German right is still trying to push forward but casualties are mounting

The battle on the British right intensifies as the German forces push to take the town securing the British flank

The German right flank battalion fails morale and retires. Three platoons of the British left flank infantry battalion can be seen  (lower centre) pushing across to support their right wing battalion

The retiring German right flank in the back left of the photo

The British divcav start to push forward

The fight around the British right flank intensifies

The German central battalion receives a change of order, and now advances in support of its far left flank in attacking the British right flank

The German right flank armoured battalion, having retired to defensive positions, responds to a new order and returns to apply more pressure to the British defence

This is getting very intense

A heavy firefight develops between the British right flank battalion and the German centre

The surprise Andy received - air sorties from a flight of Stuka dive bombers. Sorry it is a late model Ju87 .. it's all I have in 20mm. My aim was to show Andy the effect of airpower, IF it arrives.

The Ju87 attacks British forces on the defending ridge ...

... and eliminates the last remaining A13 tank troop, and another platoon of infantry

The German flanking troops close assault the town sector, but ...

The British battalion fails morale and starts to withdraw
The position is lost for the British and a general withdrawal is the only option.

As an introductory game, this was a cracking exercise. The absence of artillery was noticeable for me as a more experienced player. In our next game we'll make sure that artillery, for both support and counter battery, is present. Even without the supporting artillery, the game was another great example of the need to plan, to allocate assets, and then to tactically manoeuvre forces on the table top.  That said, one of the things I love about SH is the 'layering' of weapons systems. That will be even more apparent for Andy in our next game.

I failed to use the capacity of the British armour to count as supporting stands (the main reason for taking the Independent Tank Brigade). However the initial armoured action developed well in advance of the infantry action.

For all that though, it was great to see the 20mm forces out and in action on the table top.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Usdau, East Prussia, August 1914

East Prussia, 27 August 1914, Action around Usdau. The opening words of this scenario from the scenario book 'All Fine Men', Shawn Taylor assisted by Robert Dunlop, for Great War Spearhead.

So, Andy, Jon and I, a Friday evening, two 20mm armies, and beer. The action sees a Regular German division attacking a Green Russian division.

The field of battle before deployment, the village of Usdau seen front left (three village sectors). The Russians will be deployed on the high ground on the left, the Germans attacking from the right.

Russians deployed, and the Germans advancing on the right

The German commander flank marched a regiment onto the open northern flank of the Russian position

The Russian forces defending Usdau, a Brigade of infantry supported by a regiment of 76mm artillery in three batteries


Action opens between the Russian right flank Brigade in Usdau, and the flank marching German regiment. The German regiment is supported by a regiment of 77mm field guns

The German commander has also advanced a regiment frontally against Usdau. Meanwhile a third German regiment has advanced and captured the village of Meischutz at the top of the photo

Casualties mount early on for the German flanking regiment

The regiment advancing directly against Usdau comes under small arms and artillery fire too

At this stage the Russian commander commits his reserve Brigade, planned to enter the table behind Usdau

The volume of fire coming down on the Russians intensifies too

The action to the front of Usdau

The overall view of Usdau with the flanking force on the right

Casualties are mounting in Usdau

However casualties are also mounting for the flanking German regiment.

Usdau under fire

The frontal attack on Usdau now takes casualties

The flanking German regiment passes its first compulsory morale check

But the Russian defence around Usdau comes under increasingly heavy artillery fire from three regimens of German field artillery

Defenders in Usdau are being overwhelmed with fire 

The German frontal attack pushes up onto the high ground in front of Usdau

The German flanking regiment passes its second and last morale check.. the artillery keeps on firing

After repeated attempts, the German right flank regiment finally receives a change of orders and advances against the Russian left - but too late (this regiment failed 6 attempts at an order change.. Jon was not having a great night with the dice!!)

The frontal attack against Usdau has faltered - taken from behind the German lines

The German artillery (77mm field guns) had fought hard, but to no avail

The Russian reserve brigade massed behind Usdau
A fascinating battle. Jon genuinely had dreadful luck with the dice, evidenced by the inability to get his right flank moving, and also by the relatively low casualties that his artillery inflicted on the Russians. The Russians on the other hand seemed to have a charmed evening with the dice.

At this stage the attack was called off. The German division did not have sufficient strength to force the issue. Usdau would have to wait until the 'morrow to fall.