Saturday, 8 May 2021

WW2 Western Desert Campaign Turn 11 - Game 1

The plan for the 21st Panzer division is to capture and hold the centre hills and strike on their right flank to capture the wadi then move along the line of hills. The understrength NZ Infantry division chose not to defend the centre hill, but instead hold a defensive line along the hills and wadi, close to the baseline where a few precious are available. 

(Note - preparation and set up activities for this game can be found in the previous post.)


Opening Moves

In the opening game moves 21st Panzer units quickly advanced and occupied the centre hills which would be used to support the flanking attack on the right. To counter this Allied reserves quickly arrived and rather than sit idly back and wait for the onslaught, they pushed forward with two tank sorties. One along the road on their right flank, and another with the heavily armoured a Matilda tank unit against the centre hills.

The sortie by tanks along the road is stopped with the help of an 88mm unit

A Matilda tank unit attack against the centre hills proves to be very successful and causing difficulties for the 21st Panzer and their plans

The swift advance by the 21st Panzer was stymied somewhat by Allied tank sorties

Flank Attack

Having dealt with the tank sorties down the road, the Axis begin their attack through the wadi and on to the hills. In the centre they were struggling to contain and suppress the Matilda tank unit which was stubbornly hanging on. This meant their centre were unable to provide support for the flank attack on the hills.

The flank attack begins without support from the centre hills who are occupied trying to suppress a Matilda tank unit.

The wadi is secured and the attack on the hills begins

Getting a Foothold

The 21st Panzer units finally gain a foothold on the hill, prompting the Allies to move their last tank unit across to counter the treat. The Allied units were perilously thin on the ground. Their sortie on the centre hills had ended and this meant Panzer forces, while also short of armour, were able to coordinate with their AT and artillery to finally secure their second objective and securing a victory.

Having destroyed the Allied tank sortie Axis forces are able to coordinate their AT and artillery  to support the attack gain a foothold on the hills. The last Allied tank unit attempts a counter attack.

The hills are finally captured after the Allied counter attack fails.

Game End

An Axis victory, they are now well positioned to win the campaign by winning one more of the next two games.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Returning to the WW2 Western Desert campaign

It was way back in late February that I last played a WW2 Western Desert campaign game. At the end of that game, and campaign turn, the Axis forces had pushed the Allies back to the last map zone (Alamein). Entering this campaign turn Allied forces are somewhat depleted having come out of the last turn with two losses. Getting a decent level of supply will be important to resupplying their understrength divisions for this final line of defence.

Campaign map at turn 11

I had to refresh my memory on the steps to setting up a campaign game, which are described here. Then set about determining the supply situation for both forces. Axis forces received 4 supplies points which allowed them to resupply the 21st Panzer division, at a cost of 3 supply points, after its surprise loss in the previous campaign turn. The remaining supply point was spent on reconnaissance which would allow them to reveal the identity of two Allies units before planning any attacks.

Allied forces received 3 supply points which allowed the resupply the 1st Armoured division and bring them up to full strength. However, they still had two understrength divisions, the 2nd NZ Infantry division and 1st South African Infantry division.

Having used their reconnaissance to confirm the identification of two Allied divisions, both armoured, the Axis launched an attack with the 21st Panzer division. Defending will be the understrength 2nd NZ Infantry division. The game will be a frontal assault. Both divisions would be without three of their units through the wear and tear from operating in the desert.

A closer look at the map

Elements of the 21st Panzer divisions will focus their attack on the right flank and pivot around the centre hills once control of the hills is achieved. The understrength defenders have positioned themselves along the hills and wadi, and have a third of their forces held in reserve ready to bolster the defensive line. There are three game objectives all positioned along the defensive line at the wadi and two groups of hills. Palm trees are used on the tabletop to identify the objectives.

Setup positions and openning moves

21st Panzer division order of battle:
  • 1 x Pz IV unit
  • 4 x Pz III units
  • 1 x A/C unit
  • 2 x Armoured Infantry units
  • 1 x Wespe
  • 1 x Towed AT gun unit
  • 1 x 88mm unit
  • 1 x Stug III
2nd NZ Infantry division order of battle with armoured support:
  • 1 x Infantry units
  • 1 x Armoured Infantry (Bren Gun Carriers)
  • 1 x 2 Pounder Portee AT unit
  • 1 x Towed 6 Pounder AT unit
  • 1 x 25 Pounder unit
  • 2 x Matilda tank units
  • 2 x Grant tank unit
Game report to follow...

Monday, 3 May 2021

A rag-tag of things

A rag-tag of wargaming activities to report on over the last week or so.  First up, I was able to get in an Ancients game where I was using a stacked deck of chance cards. The idea behind the stacking of the decks was to try out some options to reflect the differences between the Carthaginian and Roman armies. In the game Carthaginians have more initiative cards and fewer rally cards, and the reverse is applied to the Roman chance cards. This is an attempt the reflect better commanders for the Carthaginians and the resilience of Roman forces with poorer commanders.

A second reason for playing around with chance cards is to try out some ideas for a campaign I am planning. In situations were one side has a larger force, the idea is not to have more units, but have additional rally cards instead. Also, commander quality can be introduced by having more initiative chance cards in a deck, swapping out the no effect cards.

An Ancients game in progress

Cutting up additional cards

My Ancient ship building activities continue at a steady pace with some 20 plus ships made. At one point I was thinking about adding some masts and sails to add some more colour to the ships, but I decided to avoid this complication as ships of the day generally took down their masts for action. I hope to get some painting done this week.

A fleet waiting to be painted

A surprise visit from my Daughter in New Zealand, who took advantage of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, meant I actually got some face-to-face wargaming in with an opponent (rare thing for a solo gamer). 

What did we play? Gang warfare in the far flung future using the One-Hour Skirmish Wargames rule set. They are nice simple rules which give a fun and at times an unpredictable game. No game reports as there was too much laughter as poor cards were drawn at the wrong time. In all four games were played and honour was even.

One-hour skirmish wargaming

Finally, I have not forgotten my existing WW2 Western Desert Campaign. Another games was played and a battle report is to be written up.

A return to the WW2 Western Desert campaign

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Ancients project all at sea

I am planning an ancients campaign and I want to include some naval games. After reading some reviews I decided to purchase "Poseidon's Warriors" by John Lambshead. On the first reading they appear to be straightforward with options of adding more from the advanced rules as desired. I will most likely stick to the basic rules.

Rules for the naval games

The game will use quite a few ships and not wanting to spend too much money the choice was to scratch build. The first step was to make a model and test out how to simply make a number of ships. The approach was to make a cardboard shape with the distinctive ship bow and stern, then stick 6mm square dowel either side for the hull. The final step is to attach some MDF as the oars. 

A card insert is made

Two pieces of shaped square wood dowel are stuck on either side of the card insert 

MDF oars are added. The oars were later reduced in size after this photo was taken.

The ship is simply painted

I will use different lengths of ship to represent the different category of ships.

Having made the first model I now have 20 ships in various stages of construction. Two changes to the build process are: 1) I use balsa wood for the oars as it is easy to cut out and shape the oars downwards, and 2) a mast is added with a cocktail stick with card for the sails.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Ancients Project - Battle Report

This battle report is from a game I played a couple of weeks ago. Normally, I would summarise my reports with a few pictures and describe the opening moves, the middle game and end game. However, this time I have chosen to do a turn-by-turn game report. Why do this? Mainly so I highlight the use of chance cards I am using during the game.

The rules used are pretty much lifted straight from the One-Hour Wargames book (see previous post here) with modifications for troop types to cater for veteran heavy infantry, elephants, and catapults).

Starting positions

The Carthaginian and Roman forces are evenly matched with 10 units per side. Three pieces of terrain were selected for the tabletop: a large hill, a stream which is fordable and treated as broken ground, and a few buildings. The positioning of these terrain features was decided by terrain cards (see here).

Roman right flank (positioned on the hill)
  • 2 x light infantry
  • 1 x heavy infantry
Roman centre
  • 3 x veteran heavy infantry
  • 2 x heavy infantry
  • 1 x catapults
Roman left flank
  • 1 x heavy cavalry
The opposing Carthaginian forces are lined up along a load with their right flank occupying the buildings.

Carthaginian right flank
  • 1 x light infantry
Carthaginian centre
  • 1 x light infantry
  • 2 x elephant units
  • 2 x heavy infantry
  • 2 x veteran heavy infantry
Carthaginian left flank
  • 1 x light cavalry
  • 1 x heavy cavalry
The Carthaginian forces won the dice rolloff to start the turn first...

Turn 1

Carthaginian forces draw a rally card which is of no benefit to them as no units have taken any hits. They push forward their centre with the aim of getting their elephant units in and amongst the Roman heavy infantry.

Roman forces draw a no event card. They moved their light infantry on their right flank to line the river and used their catapults to fire at the approaching elephants.

Turn 2

Turn 2

Carthaginian forces drew a no event card and continued to push forward their centre.

Roman forces drew a rally card which is of no benefit this early in the turn sequence. The light infantry along the river and catapults continued shooting at the advancing Carthaginian centre.

Turn 3

Turn 3

Carthaginian forces drew a no event card. They continued their advance in the centre and the elephants charged into contact with the first line of the Romans. On the left flank their light cavalry crossed over the river to harass the Roman light infantry.

Roman forces drew a no event card. Their light infantry and catapults continue to shoot at the Carthaginian centre, and their first line of heavy infantry are engaged fighting the elephants.

Turn 4

Turn 4

Carthaginian forces draw a no ammunition card and units will not be able to shoot this turn. The movement of their light cavalry and heavy cavalry across the river was slow due to the larger base sizes (8 inches) makes repositioning units a slow process.

Roman forces with a no event card continue to shoot at the Carthaginian centre with combination of light infantry and catapults. In the centre the battle against the elephants continues.

Turn 5

Turn 5

Carthaginian forces draw a demoralisation card and attacks by all units will deduct an additional 2 from the dice score. This is unfortunate with the elephants still pressing on the first line of heavy infantry in Roman centre.

Roman forces draw an initiative card and one units will be able to make a double move or extra attack in combat. The heavy cavalry on the left flank used the card to make and additional move and swiftly charged the Carthaginian light infantry who had advanced out from the town.

Turn 6

Carthaginian forces get a no ammunition card, but the action was with the elephants and one unit had broken through the first line of Roman heavy infantry.

Roman forces drew a no event card the second line of veteran heavy infantry prepare to engage the elephants. On the right flank their heavy infantry advanced towards the Carthaginian cavalry.

Turn 7

Turn 7

Carthaginian forces have a no effect card drawn. One unit of elephants were now engaging the Roman second line.

Roman forces draw a rally card and are able to remove 2 hits from all units. The second line of veteran heavy infantry moved quickly to eliminate the elephants. A berserk test resulted in the elephants making a last attack, prior to its removal, on the nearest Roman unit. On the right flank the advancing heavy infantry attack Carthaginian cavalry who were slow to deploy after crossing the river.

Turn 8

Turn 8

Carthaginian forces have a rally card drawn for a timely eduction in units hits. The Carthaginian heavy infantry on the right flank heavy infantry engage the Roman heavy cavalry, and reposition their centre units to counter the light infantry hovering around the other flank.

Roman forces get a no ammunition card. The heavy infantry attacking down the hill successfully eliminated the Carthaginian heavy cavalry. 

Turn 9

Turn 9

Carthaginian force draw a no effect card. Progress is going well on the right flank having eliminated the Roman heavy cavalry.

Roman forces get a no effect card. While the Roman left flank was struggling their other, right flank, was holding its own and the centre still held firm.

Turn 10

Carthaginian forces get a confusion card and will not be able to move just as they outflank the Roman left flank.

Roman forces draw a no effect card. The last Carthaginian elephant unit is eliminated and Roman units are starting to form a line along the river.

Turn 11

Turn 11

Carthaginian forces draw an initiative card and use it to make two attacks in the centre and mount the pressure on the Roman heavy infantry.

The Roman force get a rally card to reduce all unit hits by 2 hits which countered the additional hits caused from the Carthaginian's initiative card.

Turn 12

Turn 12

Carthaginian forces draw a confusion card and are limited to just combat not being able to make any moves.

Roman forces also draw a confusion card. Not much happened, exhaustion setting in perhaps?

Turn 13

Turn 13

Carthaginian forces get a demoralised card, but still choose to move into contact with their heavy infantry as it was close to the end of the game. 

Roman forces draw a no effect card and choose to hold their position.

Turn 14

Turn 14

Carthaginian forces draw an initiative card which is used for an extra attack while their Heavy infantry try to reorder their position

Roman forces draw a no ammunition card and hold off from engaging in combat.

Turn 15 (Last Game Turn)

Carthaginian forces get a rally card and Roman forces have an initiative card drawn. Both forces have redeployed their lines.

As neither side had the upper hand the game was considered to be drawn.

Wrap up...

The chance cards are working well and adding to an enjoyable solo game. I did have a question in my mind about whether some of the chance effects should apply to the whole army or player chosen units? For example: demoralisation, out of ammunition, rally, and confusion. Overall, and having played a few other games where effects are across the whole army and games where the effects are limited to a few units, I have decided to stick with the effects applying to all units as it creates a greater level of uncertainty.

Since playing this game I have made some modifications to the veteran units rules and added commanders and will most likely post them in the next week or so. For the moment I will be sticking with the OHW rules as I am enjoying the games and will now plan for a campaign.

In many ways this game marks the end of my Ancients project, having created the game mat, buildings, and painted some 500 plus HAT figures. There will be the odd addition, for example I purchased some Spanish cavalry last week to add to the variety of cavalry, but the armies are now pretty much completed.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Ancients Project - Deployment and Decision Points

This post was going to be a short post about the order of battle and deployment of units on the tabletop for a game and battle report. The game has been played and I have been a tad slow in posting it. However, in the process of writing the post I have added some notes mapping out where player decision points occur in the One Hour War-games (OHW) rule variant being used.

A Roman commander painted and in a game. I always know when a project is just about done when I paint the commanders.

Order of Battle

I have yet to decide how to determine the order of battle for a series of campaign games. At the moment for one-off games I am using the army list suggestions from the book Ancient and Medieval Wargaming by Neil Thomas as a guide.

Both forces are now deployed and ready for a game.

For the upcoming battle report I opted for the following orders of battle:

Carthaginian (10 units)

  • 2 x Elephants
  • 2 x Veteran Heavy Infantry
  • 2 x Heavy Infantry
  • 2 x Light Infantry
  • 1 x Light Cavalry
  • 1 x Heavy Cavalry
Romans (10 units)
  • 3 x Veteran Heavy Infantry
  • 3 x Heavy Infantry
  • 2 x Light Infantry
  • 1 x Artillery
  • 1 x Heavy Cavalry


Having decided upon the order of battle, the next step is deciding each army's deployment. Both sides decide their deployment in secret by drawing the deployment on a sketch of the tabletop. All forces are then deployed within 18 inches of the tabletop edge (on a 6 x 4 foot tabletop) according to the sketches.

Because I am playing solo and will be taking the role of the Carthaginian player. I deployed the Carthaginian forces first. I then sketched three deployments for the Roman army. Rolling the dice to decide which option to deploy on the tabletop. I rolled a 2, the top sketch.

Three Roman deployment options sketched out.

The battle report will hopefully be my next post.

Decision Points

As a little exercise I thought I would list all the decision points a player has in preparing and playing a game. Why do this? There are a couple of reasons:

  1. The decisioning around the deployment of forces seems to have been really important in the outcome of battles. As deployed forces were generally difficult to reposition during the battle. In the One-Hour Wargames (OHW) rules I am using I have increased the unit base size to 8 inches which makes turning difficult unless there is sufficient space.
  2. As forces become committed to combat the opportunity to make decisions is reduced as reserves or battle lines are committed.
So here are the decision points. I have added a subjective level of influence in brackets.

Setting up the terrain (low) - selection of 2 pieces of terrain which may get selected. It is likely at least one chosen terrain feature will appear somewhere on the tabletop.

Order of battle (high within constraints) - at the moment players can select what forces they want within the constraints of an army list.

Deployment (high) - all available units can be placed anywhere by players within the deployment area (18 inches from the tabletop edge).

Chance Cards (low) - You get what you draw, and the impact of chance cards are on all units. The one exception is the Initiative cards, these are 2 of them in a pack of 15 cards, which allow a unit an additional action and a player chooses the unit and action.

Movement (high) - Movement, which includes charges, is the one area of the sequence of play where player's have the most influence and decision making. This is through the positioning of units to counter or create threats, or by charging units into combat. This influence reduces during game turns as units enter into combat until one unit or the other wins the combat and units are free to move again.

Shooting (medium) - Choosing targets for shooting is reduced as the game turns progress with potential targets become embroiled in combat. Light infantry and cavalry units can get drawn into combat situations.

Combat (very low) - Once units are in combat there is no influence, it is pretty much all in the hand of the dice! One possible influence in the Initiative chance card which can be used to make an additional attack. Units are locked into combat until one side wins, then the influence over the unit is back with the movement phase.

This was an interesting little exercise and highlighted how a player's influence on the game using OHW style Ancient rules diminishes as the game progresses. Towards the end of a game players are sweating on the outcome of combats (or more precisely the dice rolls). From what limited reading I have done the grand-tactical aspects of battles (deployment and selection of a suitable battle ground) appear to be as important as the tactics of the battle itself. Where a commander's control becomes more and more limited as the battle progresses, and the commitment of reserves or the commanders themselves are critical decisions.

Anyway, this exercise has got me thinking about:
  • Terrain layout rules and how a player can influence the layout of the limited terrain.
  • How to add a commander rule into the game rules to influence combat. (Especially now as I have painted up both commanders for this project.)
  • How to add some decisions into chance cards. An initial thought, for example, is to change Rally cards from removing 2 hits from all units with hits, to removing 2 hits from a maximum of 4 units. Then a player would have to decide which units.
Carthaginian Commander. A mixed unit so it can attach to either a heavy cavalry unit of heavy infantry unit.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Ancients Project - Setting up a game (part 1 - terrain)

When setting up an ancient game I want to use a rule mechanism for determining the setup of the tabletop. Part of my reasoning for doing this is I will be setting up a quick 2nd Punic War campaign in the next couple of months and will need a mechanism for campaign games. This post covers the procedure for setting up terrain on the tabletop.

A tabletop setup using terrain cards

For the tabletop setup I am using terrain cards as they proved successful with my English Civil War campaign (see here). The ECW approach uses a deck of hand drawn terrain cards which are shuffled and six are drawn for my 6 x 4 foot tabletop, one for each 2 x 2 foot square area. This is fine for ECW terrain, but with ancient battles fought in more arid regions with few terrain features, a slightly different approach is required.

Making of terrain cards - 12 cards in all are required.

The approach I decided upon was to have four blank cards (representing open terrain) which are set aside. Then each player selects two terrain cards a piece from the remaining eight cards. The player's selected cards are added to the blank cards and shuffled. This allows players to select terrain to hopefully suit their army.

The Carthaginians (top) selected a river and town features. While the Romans (bottom) have selected a large hill and rocky broken terrain features.

Having shuffled the cards they are laid out in two rows of three to represent my 6 x 4 tabletop. In most cases this will work fine, but there are some additional rules for rivers. Rivers when placed will run North-to-South or East-to-West, depending how they are placed down (no peeking when you are placing them down). When a river's flow is blocked due to hills (they can flow through all other terrain features) they have to be rotated towards another square to avoid the hill. If there are two options, then use the dice to determine direction or allow the player who selected a river to choose the direction.

Terrain cards are laid out. The flow of the river will need to change due a blocking hill.

A river card's direction is adjusted to avoid a hill.

At the moment I have chosen to go with:

  • 4 x open terrain
  • 1 x river which is fordable
  • 1 x large hill
  • 1 x small hill
  • 2 x woods
  • 2 x broken terrain (fields and rocky terrain)

The approach will on occasion throw up four pieces of terrain, but will for the most part will deliver two or three terrain features. Additional blank cards could be added to the card deck for more arid regions when running a campaign, or reduced for more fertile regions.

A tabletop with terrain setup to reflect the cards.

Terrain setup with armies deployed.

Next up will be deciding the armies and their deployment.