Category Archives: infantry

New Uniforms for the Jägers

For Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht raised mountain, light and Jäger divisions. By 1943 all light divisions had been renamed as Jäger divisions, in the same way that motor rifle divisions had been renamed as Panzergrenadier divisions. Much sexier! My light division has always been at the back of the queue for toys, fighting with my Gebirgsjägers and Fallschirmjägers for the limited number of Kettenkrad Sdkfz 2s that I had. Reinforcements of 6 Krads from Syborg 3d Printing have allowed me to swap out Raupenschleppers that had been standing in with the 7.5cm mountain guns in all 3 divisions, with spares for the Luftwaffe ground crews.

The original intention of the light divisions was that they would be the link between mountain divisions and more ponderous standard infantry divisions, fighting nimbly in wooded and built up terrain. Barbarossa, and the Soviets did not oblige in that respect, and they often found themselves thrown into the line, where the terrain did not cooperate, and where they needed as much artillery as their line infantry brethren.

My light division is a mix of troops of varying levels of painting and vintage. Nowadays, my painting style wavers between minimal1 and comic book2, depending on mood and energy levels. The light Division got the Comic Book treatment.

pioneer

Given that Waffenfarben can be almost invisible in the field, even close-up, it didn’t stop me putting meadow green/grass green (grün) splotches onto the shoulders of the figures.

… and if camouflage makes everything the same colour at a distance3 , anything that gives the viewer the sense that “wow, he’s put a lot of detail into those figures” is a toy soldier conceit. If I’m only doing it to pass the time, and for pleasure, then it makes sense to exaggerate the colour differences of different bits of equipment, to separate them out on the figure. You can blame Old School or the Sci-fi and fantasy painters for leading me down this route. Take your pick 🙂

NQM Jaeger Regiment CSO

… so here are the Jägers, resplendent in their new box, and with very little paint chipped off them. I’ve also updated the Orbat page.

Wehrmacht NQM Light Infantry Division  Corps scale Orbat

The drop off in my regular postings is entirely due to having to waste time learning the new block system, now that the default classic editor has been turned off. Still, it’s free. Oh, and two days in, I’ve just discovered where the classic editor has been hidden. Excellent!

  1. Basecoat, face, Ink shading, then perhaps guns and helmets. In 15mm this counts as “realistic”.
  2. Think four-colour Eagle or Judge Dredd comics, with brighter colours for visibility.
  3. Vallejo #0038 Really Hard to See 🙂

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, infantry, Wehrmacht, WWII

Paint and Glue Miniatures Cyclists

Paint & Glue Miniatures, German Fusileers on Cycles

The PGM resin cyclists and motorcycle combinations in 15mm are the most absurdly perfect 15mm prints that I have seen. Anatomical proportions of the riders are correct. Animation is both realistic and lively. The cycles have chains and spokes. There are over ten different models.

Paint & Glue Miniatures 15mm German Fusileers on Cycles in resin

I am fully expecting bits of the finely detailed weapons and wheel spokes to snap off in game use. I’m sure that my Soviet Artillery painting style¹ will not do the figures justice, but who cares. These figures need to be seen before my paint brush gets to them for the detail to be fully appreciated.

Paint & Glue Miniatures Soviet Cossack Ural in 15mm 1:100 scale

If the Soviet motorcycle combo looks like a BMW, it is no coincidence. I owned a Cossack Dnieper in the ’80s and it was clearly a BMW copy, made from scrap iron by rural tractor mechanics. Like everything else Soviet, it did the job after a fashion. There were enough of them to win the war.

  1. Throw all your paint at the target. Some of it will hit.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, infantry, Modelling, Motorcycles

Fractal Orders of Battle

Having worked up detailed Orders of Battle for Regimental, Corps and Front scale orders of battle, it is impossible to ignore the similarities between them. This Fractal nature is reflected in Pocket Orbats, where a Unit consists of:

Commander and integral or separate HQ unit. The higher the command level, the more likely it is that the commander is going to be sitting in a camp chair under an awning than in a tank turret or dugout.

FSO OKH Army HQFSO OKH Army HQ

Recce. The fancier the armoured car, the more likely it is to be strategic recce.

Soviet Rifle Division Recce Company

AB 41 and Saharina Armoured Cars

The Divisional Recce Regiment

2-3 Sub-unit commanders or HQs with some sort of support unit integral or attached – regiments get stubby little barrels, army artillery gets stuff that travels with its barrel and carriage on separate trailers.

German Regimental HQ

NQM FSO Soviet Army HQ with Artillery AA Armour and Engineers under Command

NQM FSO Soviet Army HQ with Artillery AA Armour and Engineers under Command

6-9 Sub-units, these could be infantry, cavalry, motorised or armoured.

Cavalry Division 1942

Cavalry Division 1942

1-3 Artillery units, and anti-tank – the bigger the barrel, the more likely it is to be at army level.

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

Anti-air – same again, unless you are German and short of proper anti-tank guns.

3.7" AA and Matador FAT

3.7″ AA and Matador FAT

Engineers – bridges start appearing at divisional and corps level.

German Engineer Battalion

German Engineer Battalion

Logistics– six wheel all-wheel drive stuff tends to be tactical. Trailers tend to be further to the rear, trains even more so.

Logistic Units Scramble for Safety

Logistic Units Scramble for Safety

Medical – frontline medics like armoured ambulances if they can get them, motorised if they can’t.

 

DAK HQ

XXX Corps HQ

Generally units become heavier , the higher up the scale that you go, so with a few variations in support weapons, a unit can pretend to be anything from a company to a brigade.

 

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Anti-Aircraft, Artillery, infantry, Modelling, Orbats, Tanks, Trucks, WWII

Battle for the Southern Dnepr – Part 2

 

Zaporozhye Bridge Blown

Zaporozhye Bridge Blown

The Battle for The DNEPR river progressed pretty much according to plan for the two Soviet armies.  Army Group South,  had little with which to reinforce the front, and what it did have – 1 Mountain Division in the south, and 9 Infantry Division to the west – was fully occupied or too far away to affect the initial battle.

Although weak in numbers, the Romanians, were able to exchange fire across the DNEPR with the Soviets as they attacked DNEPROPETROVSK.¹ Phil, as Major General Seleznev went about his task in a methodical manner, and was not phased by both rail bridges in his sector being blown, eventually making it across the river and pushing 99 Jäger Division to the western outskirts of the city.²

DNEPR Bridge is Demolished

DNEPR Bridge is Demolished

This is what a destroyed major bridge would typically look like on the Eastern Front:

Destroyed Major River Bridge with the Dropped Span Forming a Passable Infiltration Route

Destroyed Major River Bridge with the Dropped Span Forming a Passable Infiltration Route

It is easy to imagine Scouts infiltrating across under the cover of darkness of smoke, but if the gap was more like the bridge below, with ice churning through the gap, then the difficulty becomes more apparent.

Destroyed Major River Bridge with a Clear Gap to the Centre Span

Destroyed Major River Bridge with a Clear Gap to the Centre Span

ZAPOROZHYE suffered a similar state as Colonel General Vasily Gordov concentrated on reducing the city one block (square) at a time. He benefited from sparing use of his attached army level artillery and armour, and the confidence that came from knowing that the front-level artillery was drawing ever closer. In the event, it was not needed but clattered majestically onto the board at the end of the game as if it owned the table. Deftly switching his attached tank brigades from attacking the north of the city to the south gave him the ability to selectively reinforce his assaulting infantry at key parts of the battle.

Romanian Infantry Division with attached Armour and AA

Romanian Infantry Division with attached Armour and AA

68 Infantry Division lost all of its infantry regiments on the east side of the river when General Meissner gave the order to demolish the bridge. Only the divisional headquarters and rear echelon troops survived to form the nucleus of a new division. It was still not enough to prevent the Soviets from forcing the river line.

Although it was only their second game of NQMsq,  Tim and  Steven picked the fundamentals up quickly.  The whole game took 3 hours, not including setup time, and each player handled two divisions, with Army level support on the Soviet side Apart from some loose ends that need to be soloed, the winter of 1942/3 has drawn to a close now, with troops resting and refitting ready for the summer campaigns when the roads dry out after the Rasputitsa.

 

  1. Against all expectation, the Romanians usually do well, probably because no-one expects too much of them. They spend a LOT of time in the box between games.

  2. The house rule was to roll 4-6 on 1d6 for the German Commander to successfully blow the bridge under fire, becoming easier by one on each subsequent turn. The Soviets could then attempt a crossing if they won the firefight with the far bank – 6 on 1d6 at the first attempt, becoming easier by one on each subsequent turn provided they continued to win the firefight.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Eastern Front, infantry, Land Battles, NQM Squared, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, WWII

Battle for the Southern Dnepr – Part 1

Soviet 33rd Army of the South Front Breaks Into ZAPORIZHIZHIA February 1943

Soviet 33rd Army of the South Front Breaks Into ZAPOROZHYE February 1943

As the Battle for KHARKOV drew to its conclusion in Army Group South,  the weaker southern flank was having its own tribulations. Held more lightly than the centre, with a large proportion of minor allied troops (Romanians, Hungarians and Italians) the front had all but collapsed over winter, and as the Soviet Voronezh Front pushed hard against Generakl Kleist’s XLIV Korps, the Southern Front advanced 33rd and 22nd Armies against the key cities of ZAPOROZHYE (ZAPORIZHIZHIA in modern Ukranian) and DNEPROPETROVSK (DNIPRO on Google map)¹.

This far south, the first signs of the spring thaw were making it clear that the cities would have to be taken soon, or not at all. The pressure was on Colonel General Andrei I. Yeremenko. The Operation at DNEPROPETROVSK begins where the last game finished after a long winter pause for reorganisation on both sides.

Strung out between the two cities were the remnants of 7th and 11th  Romanian infantry divisions, although in truth the Romanian I Corps, to which they belonged, was no stronger than a weak division. It was strung over an impossible distance, and all that was saving it was the River DNEPR. In places, the river was one to three kilometers wide. Where it narrowed to half a kilometer, it was also faster flowing and deeper. To add to the attackers’ problems, the ice was also beginning to break up and the west bank was substantially higher than the east. The picture would be somewhere between two extremes. The Soviet players were hoping for this:  Dnepr late melt as rivers in Russia melt from the south northwards.

In the European part of the USSR the ice in rivers that flow from north to south (the Volga, Don, and Dnieper) begins to break up in the lower course, and the process gradually shifts upstream, so that there is drifting ice for a long period of time

Whereas I had more this in mind. Regardless, the ruling for this operation was that crossing was possible only via bridges. The Soviets still chanced their arm and placed a company of Scouts in the centre of the river with much talk of rubber boats and wading gear. They drowned.

68 Infantry Division, a veteran Viennese formation, was defending ZAPOROZHYE with its rail marshalling yards. The bulk of the city was on the east bank of the DNEPR, which gave the divisional commander, Maj Gen Meissner, a difficult choice on his reserve demolition of the main rail bridge on the southern outskirts of the city. If destroyed too early, his division would be cut off; too late  and he could lose the river crossing.

DNEPROPETROVSK was held by 99 Jäger Division (Regular Viennese, Lt Gen Krakau)² and 9 Infantry Division (Regular Hessen-Nassau, Maj Gen Gebb), although the latter played no part in the early battle, having been pulled to the northeast to cover a gap in the line.

Players for this game were Tim Merry commanding the German lines, Steven Churchus commanding 33 Army attacking ZAPOROZHYE, and YesthatPhil commanding 22 Army against DNEPROPETROVSK. Trebian was still recovering from head wounds sustained during his heroic attack at the front of 20 Guards Rifle Division at KHARKOV, and was unavailable.

We were playing NQM squared with the Corps Scale Orbat, and it seemed to be going well enough, albeit with the usual umpire tidying up of  Div HQs that had wandered off to command other divisions, and the odd cheeky Scout company that thought they might not be spotted creeping over the river.

The decision to start modelling guns and limbers together on a single base was vindicated when even Phil got his (badly labelled on my part) units tangled up. Steven, who was newer to hordes of indistinguishable Soviets fared even worse, which is why I am in favour of players bringing their own toys to the table – they know their own troops better – even if it does highlight my cheerfully sketchy painting (more of that later).

To be continued …

  1. Frank Chadwick rendered ZAPOROZHYE as the more pronounceable ZAPOROZHA.
  2. Reorganised as 7 Mountain Division in winter 41/42. Its NQM equivalent is still in DNEPROPETROVSK, however.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Eastern Front, infantry, Land Battles, NQM Squared, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D+3 to 4 – 26 to 27 Oct 1942

Rommel is not Happy

Rommel is not Happy

The game resumed after a convivial and entertaining lunch, with the allies continuing to grind through the Axis defences. Calls for 21 Panzer were becoming ever more strident. In reality, I am not sure if Rommel, a General who excelled in not obeying orders when it suited him, would have tolerated insubordination in his own generals to this extent.

Assault Pioneers Fail Spectacularly

Assault Pioneers Fail Spectacularly

For now though, von Gow and  Steve C (commanding Ramke) were benefitting from the support of 21 Panzer as Gary R’s 50th Northumbrian Division and 1st Greek Brigade pushed relentlessly onward. A local counterattack by Ramke’s assault pioneers failed spectacularly, even rolling white instead of black dice fooled no-one, as they came up with three ones! Gary’s infantry were getting pretty low in strength, so he ordered 22nd Armoured Brigade forward against the final obstacle to make a breakout possible.

DAF over the Cauldron

DAF over the Cauldron

Every NGM western desert game so far has seen a cauldron develop at the point of contact when an Axis panzer division has contacted an Allied armoured brigade. This game was no exception as the two sides fought for supremacy on the ground and in the air.

Dogfight over Ramke

Dogfight over Ramke

Meanwhile to the south, the 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division commanded by Tim M, was steadily chewing its way through stubborn opposition. Pavia and Folgore were only holding by counterattacking with fresh reserves, then reoccupying positions with units that were already spent. Nevertheless, the NQM-experienced Trebian was forcing the Allies to fight hard for every position taken.

The Cauldron

The Cauldron

21 Panzer Division get the Upper Hand in the Cauldron D+3 to D+4

21 Panzer Division get the Upper Hand in the Cauldron D+3

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Air Forces, DAK, German Airforce, infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, NQM Squared, RAF and Commonwealth AFs, Regia Aeronautica, Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D+1to2: 24 to 25 Oct 1942

Alamein 50 Division Attack Engaging the MDL on D+1-2

Alamein 50 Division Attack Engaging the MDL on D+1-2

On the second night of the battle, the two British infantry divisions, 50th and 44th continued to fight their way methodically through the Axis Outposts and Main Defensive lines (MDLs). This was by no means a straightforward process, as on a number of occasions, local counterattacks regained positions that had been won at some cost.

44th and 50th Divisions Break into the MDL on D+2

44th and 50th Divisions Break into the MDL on D+2

The net result was to turn the whole front line into a meat grinder as 1st Greek Infantry Brigade and 1st Free French joined the battle on the northern and southern flanks of the attack .

There was a good deal of to-ing and fro-ing as casualties mounted on both sides. Players were fired up and passing theirmorale tests, which made for a large casualy pile at the end of the battle.

Behind the advancing front, the aggressively-handled divisional field artillery regiments had closed up to the forward edge of the enemy minefields in order to reach the enemy’s reserve line. The armoured brigades were beginning to nose forward through the cleared lanes, impatiently waiting for a gap to be made to allow them to break out.

The Sappers had some eight kilometers of minefields to clear. The game gave each squadron or company a 50% chance of clearing a minefield lane on the first night, then 66.66% on the next night, then 82%, then 100% on the final night. Inspection of the orbats shows that  each division had enough strength to clear 3 lanes in a reasonable time.

Air Battle over Ramke and Pavia

Air Battle over Ramke and Pavia – Bf 109 and 110 attack DAF Boston and Hurricane that are bombing Ramke

20 Corps was calling for reinforcements at an early stage in the battle, but Rommel was flying back from Rome, and von Stumme was dead from a heart attack as he leapt onto the running board of his staff car during an air attack on the morning of the 24th. Panzer Armee Afrika was effectively leaderless until Rommel returned on the 25th. Heavy attacks were occurring in the northern half of the battlefield, relegating the concerns of 20 Corps to that of “a little local difficulty”.

Folgore and Ramke were holding up well, with pressure falling onto Brescia and Pavia. Rommel’s policy of corsetting conscript troops with veterans was working well. Artillery and airstrikes were causing casualties on both sides, but the axis forces were beginning to run short of artillery ammunition.

The allies were allowed to put all their air assets into the air each day – about 10 wings, of which 7 were fighters, which was a little light on bombers. The Axis was allowed 1d6 per day, limited by only being able to use each model once.  I had severely underestimated the number of beautifully-painted Italian  aircraft that von Gow was able to pull out of his toy boxes, and it would have been rude not to let him use them. I expected more complaints from the Allies, but being gentlemen, they never murmured.

S 79 over 50th Infantry Division

S 79 over 50th Infantry Division

 

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ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Day

Alamein 50th Division Attacks

Alamein 50th Division Attacks

D Day dawned crisp and cold, with troops arriving at Shedquarters well-muffled against the cold. The final command team looked like this:

Axis:

Tim “von” Gow as 20 Corps, 21 Pz and Ariete,  Richard Lindley as Brescia, Steve Churchus as Ramke, and Trabian as Folgore and Pavia.

Allied:

Phil Steele as XIII Corps, 7th Armoured Division and 1st Free French. Gary Roberts as 50th Infantry Division and the Greek Brigade, and Tim Merry as 44th Infantry Division.

Moves ran every 30 minutes, with one night and one day. Fighting took place mostly at night, with the day being reserved for airstrikes and the French, who elected to fight during daylight, for reasons never fully explained. Nobody minded as Phil had brought his own French, with an impressive scratchbuilt Tanaka and Conus gun. To be continued …

 

 

 

 

Alamein 1st Free french Brigade

Alamein 1st Free French Brigade

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Air Forces, Artillery, DAK, German Airforce, infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, RAF and Commonwealth AFs, Regia Aeronautica, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 28

Cauldron Between the Minefields on Trento's Position

Cauldron Between the Minefields on Trento’s Position

Some of the WHELKS convened in the Den on Tuesday to bed in some new ALAMEIN house rules for NQM Squared (NQM² or NQMsq). Present were YesthatPhil, Will (Hero of Kursk), and Richard. With each player controlling a division apiece, we were hitting slightly less than 30mins, but more than my planned 20 minutes per move, across the evening from 8 until 1030, when weekday night fatigue took its toll. Port, cheese and olives restored flagging energy.

The game was hectic, with 2nd New Zealand Division breaking into Trento‘s position and evicting them before the regimental HQ put in a spirited counterattack to restore the position. 9th Armoured Brigade then cleared the position again until Littorio counterattacked, leaving the position littered with burning allied and Italian tanks alike.

Littorio Counterattacks

Littorio Counterattacks

Phil managed to take some photos. I only managed some after-action shots. The low-vis pins look much less obtrusive. Taking them off works better than trying to add them.

The elephant in the room though, is scale: Three players managed three divisions, so six will only be able to manage six divisions or so. That means modelling the south, as the action was a little more open and fluid, and Trebian and Phil have already committed to  modelling divisions each. The north was more of a head-on slugging match, so is a little less interesting. Otherwise all the house-rule time and space management parameters seem to work.

Trento and Littorio's Admin Boxes and Artillery Positions

Trento and Littorio’s Admin Boxes and Artillery Positions

NQM Squared Supplement

For ALAMEIN² a unit may expend 2-5 action points (AP)s per turn according to status:

Elite or Veteran, 5. Regular, 4. Conscript, 3. Green 2.

Each stand may shoot once per turn expending no APs. Only indirect artillery is subject to ammunition rules for barrages.

An AP may be moving 1 square (2 squares for Recce, LOG, or Divisional/Corps/Army Commanders) or attacking (close assaulting) once.

The following are the maximum moves permitted to:

Infantry in contact, 1. Infantry out of contact, 2.

Armour in contact, 2. Armour out of contact, 4.

Recce, LOG, and commanders, 6, stopped by coming into contact, but use remainder to “shoot and scoot”.

Example: veteran LOG has 5 actions of which 3 may be double moves totalling 6 squares. Green log has 2 double moves totalling 4 squares.

Defending or attacking units may choose to break off close combat at any stage, subject to having a remaining AP or more to move back one or more squares. They may be pursued and attacked subject to the attacker having enough remaining APs to do so (one to move to remain in combat and one more to continue the attack). Usually the attacker runs out of APs first and the defender escapes.

Reorgnisation takes a whole move out of contact with the enemy. Units receiving fire cannot reorganise.

Supporting units may counterattack into their own squares, or ones that they have just lost, without first winning the firefight.

A maximum of 4 bases can pass through a single minefield gap in a move, subject to their own maximum move. As an example, suppose that a brigade attacking with two battalions up engages in a firefight with a defending battalion, and wins it (does not count as an action). One battalion passes through the gap and close assaults, winning the assault (first action). On the second close assault, another battalion passes through the gap to work round the enemy position (second action), this one is drawn (if the assault had been lost, the attacking battalion would have been pushed back, and the second battalion would continue the assault on the third action). The attack continues (third action) and the defenders are pushed out of the position as a third battalion passes through the gap. Finally the RHQ passes through the gap as its own 4th action leaving the brigade in the enemy square.

Nothing would be different if there had been two or more enemy battalions in the square, except that the close assault would have ground on for longer as the attacker strove to reduce 6 or more SP instead of 3 SP.

A bold attacker may have chosen to ignore the minefield gap and assault through the minefield, taking casualties as he went.

Vehicles passing through unswept ALAMEIN minefields roll a heavy die against themselves to determine casualties. Infantry roll a very light die against themselves. This reflects the preponderance of anti-tank mines in the minefields.

Full marks to anyone who spotted the Pz 38t pretending to be an M13.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, Tanks, Western Desert, WWII

2nd Alamein – NQM Squared – The South

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

Having walked through the northern third of 2nd Alamein to see if the real estate fitted (it did), I worked through the head-to-head infantry attack of 44th Infantry Division against Folgore.

Folgore Defence in Depth

Folgore Defence in Depth

The battle commenced with a divisional barrage that put serious disorganisation of 1/3 onto the dug in division (25pdrs M against dug-in infantry M). The infantry then followed this in, winning the firefight and evicting the first line of defences with 100% disorganisation in the close assault.

Ramke Falschirmjaeger Brigade

Ramke Falschirmjäger Brigade

 

I ruled that, being veteran, Folgore could immediately counterattack with its second line of defence, during the second close assault phase and pull its first line of defence out to reorganise. 44 Div were allowed to do the same in the third close assault phase, ending the turn. In future though, I shall restrict immediate counter attacks in the enemy’s turn to veteran troops.

Pavia and Folgore

Pavia and Folgore

This produced a very satisfying to-and-fro battle that left both sides’ infantry at about 50% casualties, with all artillery ammunition exhausted by the end of 4 rounds of fighting.

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Other rulings were that:

Infantry could not pursue beyond their one square range.

Infantry could attack a diagonal square, but only if they were able to attack it orthogonally from the front or flank without interference from enemy on their own front or flank.

In other words, they could not ignore an enemy to their front in order to concentrate an attack on an enemy to their diagonal front, and they can only do this because the one free diagonal move per game turn that they are allowed places the square they wish to attack in reach.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, DAK, infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, The "Rules", Wargames, Western Desert, WWII