Category Archives: WWII

Hexblitz First Game

Hexblitz 55 Rifle Div Closes on 4 Pz Div

Hexblitz 55 Rifle Div Closes on 4 Pz

With a couple of hours to set up and play Hexblitz, I wanted a simple set-up to get to grips with the rules. Trebian and YesthatPhil took the Soviet 5th Army and 4th Panzer Division respectively. 4Pz has been facing of against 5th Army for the last 2 months of winter as the Germans concentrate on their problems around MOSCOW, and the Soviets build up the necessary offensive power in the region.

The game set up is as above. In order to progress things, we adopted Ugo-Igo early on, until it became apparent that the card activated system was important.

LIPETSK

LIPETSK

I had underestimated the importance of  the defensive, static and moving state, which is why the game suddenly sprouted markers (and trees¹). Phil is very keen on markers being hidden, bringing his experience of Megablitz to bear. I am not keen on markers at all. Treb loves markers and cards, owning an impressive collection suitable for all occasions. For this game the red party balloons represented strength points and were removed when lost. White ones represented LOG points.

By this time, we were using all the game systems, and had identified a few questions regarding who fights whom in a free-for all brawl. I suspect that Bob organizes attacks so that anyone who is going to do so attacks a target at the same time, commanded by an HQ in command radius.

Hexblitz 20GR approaches the Outpost Line

Hexblitz 20GR approaches the Outpost Line

We were not quite as well coordinated as that, so had a few attacks going in piecemeal. That was the point where we learned that if you are going to be hit by several wavelets of the enemy, don’t be caught in flank or rear if you are not in a defensive position.

At the close of the battle, the Germans had taken a heavy beating, but the Soviets had not captured LIPETSK (Липецк). The game probably only ran at half speed, so any comments about it being faster or slower than other systems are really not valid at this stage. There is more structure to Hexblitz than NQM, so gamers who like proper rules will really like Hexblitz and Megablitz. Players who want flexibility or a framework to hang house rules on will probably prefer NQM.

Hexblitz 55 and 56 Rifle Divs attack 4Pz

Hexblitz 55 and 56 Rifle Divs attack 4Pz

I’m greatly encouraged by the run-through and will try it again, but we need to use fewer SPs next time (40 and 80 for defender and attacker was too ambitious for a first game).

My first thought is that the rules are perfect for solo play, so I will solo a game next before inflicting my imperfect umpiring of someone else’s rules on other players.

  1. Everyone knows that Russia in winter is full of fir trees
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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet Army, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht, WWII

Bob Cordery’s Hexblitz

This excellent little gem of a rulebook landed on my doormat a week or so ago, courtesy of Bob Cordery. Bob has published it so that he has a set of rules to wargame the Eastern Front in WWII, but it is a worthy addition to the small library of operational tabletop rules that I know of, and if you have an interest in this period, I heartily recommend that you buy a copy.

The rules are 43 pages long, with the meat explained very succinctly in four pages. This is rule writing at its most elegant. Yes there will be instances where the rules do not cover a particular situation, but that happens in even the most closely-worded rulesets written in quasi-legalese that run to many more pages. Twenty pages are taken with a very helpful example battle and orbat. Eight pages are devoted to setting the scene with scales, organisation, designing orbats  and hex facings. The game uses a stand to represent a battalion or specialist company, so follows Megablitz, rather than  Chadwick’s bathtubbing approach.

The move sequence uses a card-driven system, and combat follows Megablitz’s point counting system rather than NQM’s risk-derived L,M,H attack and defence. The rules will work well for a solo game.

It would be simplicity itself to take Frank Chadwick’s hex map and fight Barbarossa using these rules. I ran a short test game on Trebian’s staggered squares, using about 40SP for the German 4th Panzer Division and about 80SP for the Soviet 5th Army. Being WHELKS¹ we eased into the rules from a position of what we knew already, introducing Bob’s rules in stages. Using 15mm toys and 3″ staggered squares, everything fitted comfortably. Trebian has written an offside report already. He thinks that there was a stacking problem with the sizes of bases and squares that we used, I’m not so sure at this stage. Interestingly, each of the players wanted to see rule mechanisms that they were familiar with from other rulesets, and I feel that Bob’s framework could absorb these comfortably without losing its character. The rules need playing a few more time to gain familiarity, but I’m sure that once we are up to speed with them, they will prove to be as good as they look at first glance.

Finally, declaring an interest, I’m credited in the dedication, along with Tim Gow, which is generous, because Bob’s rules are far tidier than anything that I’ve ever produced!

 

  1. Wellingborough Historical and Ever-so Loosly Kultural Society

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Land Battles, NQM Squared, Wargames, 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

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

The Devils Gardens sown around ALAMEIN were complex and wide ranging. Even today, tourist guides advise not straying off tracks, and this despite massive postwar clearance efforts. I should state that I don’t like mine warfare, possibly because part of my job involved training to lay them and actually digging up other peoples mines.

They are however, a major part of the ALAMEIN battlefield, and they need to be modeled. Tradition dictates that a roll of wire wrapped around a Biro and stuck to a lollipop stick is the way to do it and Trebian takes this approach. I went for thin marine ply with sand PVA glued on top and sealed with acrylic paint in suitable shades. Some have mines and other items of interest on them. I went with 150mm (6″) strips to match the square sizes.

I also did a bit more work on the hills and strongpoints to help them blend in. the shot above is a work in progress. You can see that the top right strongpoint has had its top sliced off like a soft-boiled egg, and had an emplacement dropped into it

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Filed under Modelling, NQM Squared, Western Desert, WWII

First Siege of TOBRUK

I had planned to do a TOBRUK mini-campaign, but on closer examination, the following scenario problem seen at Phase V presented itself. I may work it up to a full game, but at present it does not hold enough operational interest to pursue before other projects:

Phase I: Operation Sonnenblume (6 February – 25 May 1941). The Germans drive the Allies east, isolate TOBRUK and on 10 April attack a largely Australian defence. The Australian infantry prove that a coherent infantry force behind well-sited concrete defences in three layers can contain a frontal armoured attack.

Phase II: Two unsuccessful allied relief attempts ensue, Operation Brevity (15–16 May), Operation Battleaxe (15–17 June), before Operation Crusader (18 November – 30 December) relieves TOBRUK on On 27 November 1941.

Phase III: Around TOBRUK itself, nothing happens for five months operationally. The Germans lack the strength to penetrate the defences and at the same time fight of the Allied counter-offensives.

Phase IV: After TOBRUK is relieved, the garrison is changed (see below).

Phase V: The Axis forces attack, and Tobruk falls in a matter of hours!

HQ 9th Australian Infantry  Division & Tobruk Fortress

HQ 3rd Armoured Bde (60 x tanks working; another 26 tanks in repair)

3rd Hussars/5 the Royal Tanks (Det 4 x light tanks and 18 x cruisers) 1 Crusader (CF3)
1st Royal Tank Regt (Det 15 x light tanks and 19 x cruisers) 1 Crusader (CF3)
1st Kings Dragoon Guards (30 x armoured cars) 3 Marmon Herrington @ (R1)
4th Royal Tank Regt (Troop of 4 x infantry tanks not modelled)

For local colour, substitute a Crusader for an M13 with a huge kangaroo painted on the side

18th Cavalry Regt (Indian)
HQ Royal Horse Artillery

 

1st RHA Regt 1 25-pounder (S2)+ tractor (L2)
3rd RHA (minus one bty) (16 x 2-pounder antitank guns) 2 2pdr Atk guns @ (S1)
104th RHA Regt (16 x 25-pounders) 1 25-pounder (S2)+ Quad tractor (L2)
107th RHA Regt (16 x 25-pounders) 1 25-pounder (S2)+ Quad tractor (L2)
51st Field Regt (12 x 18-pounders and 12 x 4.5 inch how) 1 4.5″ Howitzer (S2)+ tractor (L2)
2-3rd Aust Antitank Regt (Unkown no., type, Bofors
(minus one bty) 37-mm; Breda 47/32-mm; 2-pounders) 2  Atk guns @ (S1) (from the previous list)

 

HQ Royal Australian Engineers

 

2nd Aust Field Bn 3 Engr stands @ (E1)
2-4th Aust Field Park Company
2-1st Aust Pioneer Battalion 3 Pioneer stands @ (E1) –count as logistic when fighting

 

Signals 9th Aust Div
HQ 18th Aust Inf Bde 1 Comd stand (F3)
16th Aust Antitank Company 1 (C1) 2pdr Atk stand
2-9th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)
2-10th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)
2-12th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)

 

HQ 20th Aust Inf Bde (As 18th bde above)

20th Aust Antitank Company
2-13th Aust Inf Bn
2-15th Aust Inf Bn
2-17th Aust Inf Bn

 

HQ 24th Aust Inf Bde (-) (2-25th Inf Bn still in Australia) (As 18th bde above)

24th Aust Antitank Co
2-28th Aust Inf Bn
2-43d Aust Inf Bn

 

HQ 26th Aust Inf Bde (As 18th bde above)

26th Aust Antitank Coy
2-23rd Aust Inf Bn
2-24th Aust Inf Bn (as above)
2-48th Aust Inf Bn (as above)

1 Royal Northumberland Fusiliers 1 Machine Gun stand (S3)

9th Aust Div Supply Column
7th Aust Div Supply Column
2nd Aust Field Ambulance
9th Aust Div Provost Coy
9th Aust Div Protection Pl
9th Aust Div Empl Pl
9th Aust Salvage Unit

 

Fortress Troops
Royal Artillery
HQ 4th Antiaircraft (AA) Bde

 

13th Light AA Regt
14th Light AA Regt
51st Heavy AA Regt
3rd Aust Light AA Regt

 

Notts Yeomanry (coast defense)

Royal Engineers (under CRE, 9th Aust Div)

295th Field Coy Royal Engineers
551st Tps Coy Royal Engineers
4th Field Sqn Royal Engineers
143d Field Park Troops

Signals (under Comd Signals, 9th Aust Div)

K Base Section
27th Line Maintenance Section

 

Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)

309th Reserve Motor Coy
345th Reserve Motor Coy
550th Coy

Medical: 16th MAC

Royal Army Ordnance Corps [RAOC]

2nd Armoured Div Workshops RAOC
A Sect Ord Field Park AAOC

 

HQ Tobruk Subarea

1st Libyan Refugee Bn
2nd Libyan Refugee Bn
4th Libyan Refugee Bn
HQ 45th Group
1205-7th Indian Pioneer Coys

Admin units have been omitted and are represented by supply dumps.

Use the DAK orbat for Gazala for the Germans

 

Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Tobruk [Accessed 7.11.16]
  2. http://www.ww2f.com/topic/24891-orbat-tobruk-fortress-april-1941/ [Accessed 7.11.16]

 

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Infantry, Land Battles, Western Desert, WWII

2nd ALAMEIN – NQM Squared – Trial walk through

Advance To Contact 9AUS 51HD 1SA

Advance To Contact 9AUS 51HD 1SA

Suzanne is the uncommonly intelligent kind of girl that H.G. Wells had in mind, in his preface to Little Wars. Her interests gravitate to the people behind the great events, so persuading her to roll dice  involved gin. It also called for a good deal of exposition as to how the 8th Army found itself fighting a set piece battle that would have been familiar to WWI generals, in a desert war that had hitherto been characterised by movement.

51HD Winning the Firefight

51HD Winning the Firefight

Squaring the table off just exaggerated the whole “over the top with fixed bayonets” nature of the battle plan. Suzanne has a wargaming record  that Attila the Hun would be proud of: In the past, her tank famously machine-gunned my supporting infantry off a bunker that we were both attacking. She sacked Northampton and executed any rival claims to the throne, and I regularly get thrashed at GUBs, usually after she has innocently asked

“What does this card do?”

The battle trundled forward as NQMs usually do, when there is no room to manouvre. Thompson’s post was taken, head on by 9AUS, then lost to a Bersaglieri counterattack. 51HD got stuck in. 1SA seemed to be chilling with cold beer and Breifleis; this was a walk through, after all!

51 HD Break into the Advanced Outposts

51 HD Break into the Advanced Outposts

Tonight however, the post – game conversation veered towards wondering which tunes would characterise each of the opposing forces.

We came up with this:

9AUS Welcome to Australia (You might accidentally get killed)

51HD Corvus Corax I would get out of the way if I heard this coming!

1SA  – we struggled with this one, skipped the Spitting Image Song, and thought that die Stem van Suid Afrika was a bit slow if you were marching into the teeth of a German defence, but liked the Piano Guys . The tune that made the final cut for Bashing the Boche though, was this one though – Sorry Arthur!

The Bersaglieri totally rocked this one from 52 seconds in.

The Germans,  Lili Marlene ,of course, but Peanut Girly was tempting.

I firmed up one or two questions in principle about defence zones of control – necessary in something as stylized as this:

  1. Infantry only close assault stuff in the square that they are in. To enter a defended square, they must win the firefight across the boundary with the next square. No Diagonals.
  2. Infantry, tanks and anti-tank only fire at stuff in the square that they are in. They can place their defended location across a boundary and defend two squares. Of course, this means that they can be shot at from two squares at once. No Diagonals.
  3. For ranged artillery, squares are three kilometers across.

To conclude, ALAMEIN is a goer at this scale.

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

2nd Alamein – NQM Squared – The North

Allied 9 AUS - 51 HD - 1SA looking North

Allied 9 AUS – 51 HD – 1SA looking North

Before committing too heavily to squares, I set up this scenario as a TaGWiT (Tactical Game With Toys), to see what the real estate looked like, and to see if 2nd Alamein fitting into 22 squares from top to bottom was a realistic proposition.

The top third of the battlefield (7 squares) fits three Commonwealth divisions – 9 AUS, 51 HD and 1SA, and a third to half of MITEIYIRA RIDGE. This gives two squares or 6Km per division, which is fine, as the frontage of 51HD started at just over a mile wide and spread to about 2.5 miles.

el_Alamein_51HD advance

el Alamein 51HD advance

Axis North Front Line at 2nd ALAMEIN

Axis North Front Line at 2nd ALAMEIN

It all looks very crowded on the tabletop, but like KURSK, this was a head-on WWI-style frontal attack with little room for manoeuvre.

2nd Battle of El Alamein - 001

2nd Battle of El Alamein – 001

 

An Allied division fits nicely into 4-5 squares. I have some work to do on the look of contours, they are  too high-rise at the moment and Iwould like to avoid the square platform with cliff-edge look. There is nothing wrong with that approach – I’m just not fond of it. My first attempt was to just take a band saw to some of the squared cowboy terrain pieces that  seen little real wargame use over the past five years.

7 Bersaglieri in Thompsons Post Looking East

7 Bersaglieri in Thompsons Post Looking East

 

Thompsons Post and Breakout

Thompsons Post and Breakout

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Modelling, Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

StuG Comparison

StuG IV Conversion from 15mm PSC StuG III

StuG IV Conversion from 15mm PSC StuG III

I showed my Stug IV to YesthatPhil, who commented that it looked rather lower than the III. That was my impression too. Wickipedia gives actual heights as 2.2m for the IV and 2.16 for the III.

Lining them up showed that the IV was the same height as the III, but the visual impression comes from the extra length of the IV hull. Surprisingly, the IV weighed in at 900kg less that the III. I threw in a Pz IV for good measure. Although lower than a tank, both designs failed the specification that they should be no taller than a standing infantryman.

L>R - PzIV - StuG IV - StuG III - StuH III

L>R – PzIV – StuG IV – StuG III – StuH III

Do I hear “scale creep!” being muttered on the back row?

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Modelling, tank, WWII

Sturmgeschutz IV PSC Conversion

PSC StuG III Superstructure and PzIV hull

PSC StuG III Superstructure and Pz IV hull

 

The success of the Sturmgeschutz III led to a demand for more hulls than could be produced from Alkett, the existing manufacturer of the Pz III chassis. The G variant was by far the commonest, in excess of 8,000 being produced from December 1942 until the end of the war.¹

Krupp were called in, as manufacturers of the Pz IV chassis, and the simple expedient of adding the StuG III superstructure to the Pz IV was adopted. An extended box was necessary to accomodate the drivers position on the PzIV hull, but little else needed to be done. Production only started in November 1943, when the Alkett factory suffered severe bomb damage.

Second Cut to Mate Superstructure to Hull

Second Cut to Mate Superstructure to Hull

The StuG IV did not suffer from the nose heaviness of the Jagdpanzer IV, an ostensibly better design on paper that earned the nickname of “Guderian’s Duck”² from its habit of nosediving into anything soft or wet. Roughly equal numbers were produced of each design: 1,141 StuG IVs compared to 1,208 Jagdpanzer IVs.

Add Driver's Armoured Box

Add Driver’s Armoured Box

My conversion was a simple cut-and-shunt of a PSC StuG III top onto a Pz IV hull. The driver’s box came from scrap plastic and card. Nothing much to it really.

With the old 2-part PSC tracks, the method of assembly that works for me is to stick the top half of the track to the idler assembly, then stick it to the tank hull. Once everything is dry, the bottom half goes on fairly easily. Finally the front and back wheels go on.

Doh! - Loaders Hatches Should be Fore and Aft

Doh! – Loaders Hatches Should be Fore and Aft

Full marks to PSC for doing a StuG III rather than a JgdPz IV, and for adding the new one-piece tracks in retrospect to existing boxes of (PzIV) kits. I’ve remarked before on PSC’s generosity of spirit in this respect, after all, the costs of doing it are relatively small.. Now I’m waiting eagerly for the SU-76.

Correctly Assembled StuG IV

Correctly Assembled StuG IV

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_armored_fighting_vehicle_production_during_World_War_II gives total war production of Stug III A-E of 825 and F-G 8,593; of which only 366 were Fs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmgesch%C3%BCtz_III). Aditionally 1,217 StuH 42s were produced with the 10.5cm Howitzer.
  2. This was rather unfair, as Guderian had opposed their production in the first place – but Hitler liked them, so they went ahead.

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Filed under Artillery, Modelling, tank, Wehrmacht, WWII

NOVOGOROD Mar ’43 – NQM Squared

 

31 Rifle Div in the Attack on a 9 km Frontage

31 Rifle Div in the Attack on a 9 km Frontage

VELIKY NOVOGOROD sits  astride the River Volkhov, at the northern tip of Lake Ilman. The Command decision Hex Grid Europa map runs a straight rail line between LENINGRAD and MOSCOW, and ignores this inconvenient piece of geography to put NOVOGOROD on the rail line.

33 Rifle Div Assaults 126 Inf Div in NOVOGOROD

33 Rifle Div Assaults 126 Inf Div in NOVOGOROD

For this game, finishing the Soviet winter offensive, I put the city and rail lines back where They should be. It was also the first outing of the new squared board, and a chance to see how a Wehrmacht Korps defence in depth fared against a Soviet army of 3 divisions.

30 Inf Div Defend the River Volkhov

30 Inf Div Defend the River Volkhov

To the south, 126 Infantry Division held NOVOGOROD, and to the north, 30 Infantry Division held a line 9 km deep.

 

33 Rifle Div advances on NOVOGOROD

33 Rifle Div advances on NOVOGOROD

32 Rifle Div Moves up to the VolKhov

32 Rifle Div Moves up to the Volkhov

Facing them was 34th Army with 31, 32 and 33 Rifle Divisions. As in Phil’s original game, we used Tim Gow’s Megablitz SMART counters to codify the tactical stance of the two sides, but we retained the NQM table 12 winning the firefight for resolving combat. Phil’s movement table was used.

First Bridgehead over the Volkhov

First Bridgehead over the Volkhov

During the course of the game, 33 Rifle made no progress attempting to break into NOVOGOROD, contenting itself with demonstrating outside. 32 Rifle forced a crossing over the River Volkhov, and broke into the main line of 30 Inf, but was forced to withdraw as a spent force. 31 Rifle was more successful, with one of its regiments finding the northern flank of 30 Inf, and bypassing it.

Hier ist die Luftwaffe!

Hier ist die Luftwaffe!

The Luftwaffe  was more active than over LENINGRAD, and succeeded in driving off Sturmovik regiments and inflicting some damage on one of the river crossings, but failing to destroy either.

They Couldn't Hit a Barn Door at this Dist....

They Couldn’t Hit a Barn Door at this Dist….

The month ended with NOVOGOROD surrounded but the Wehrmacht falling back in relatively good order until the Rasputitsa halted all movement in the north for a month.

High Water Mark

High Water Mark

Post Game Ideas that were Discussed:

  1. Allow attacks from troops that share a square edge in common, but not corners.
  2. Ranged support troops (artillery, AA) can be further back.
  3. Air assets can be placed on airfields or baseline at the start of the game. They must roll an appropriate number to activate a sortie (or perhaps get the first one free), then return to base and reactivate when they reach an appropriate score – perhaps reducing the number by one on each subsequent attempt, perhaps not..
  4. Recce and Engineers show hits on their main (E3) or (R3) stand, but the markers can show where the actual effort is going in.
  5. Defences need to be shown in a fairly abstract manner

 

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Rules Examples, Soviet Army, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht, WWII