Squarebashing at WMMS

game set up – before the doors open

This year at WMMS BAD wargamers put on a Squarebashing Demo, abstracting the 1st Day of the Somme. Peter the orgainsers notes were –

The massive casualties sustained on July 1st 1916 are seared into the public consciousness and for many define the futility of and incompetent conduct of the war. The truth is a little different. For Britain this war was effectively its first full scale engagement in the modern era. Despite earlier successes British armies had never been the main forces in European warfare. The French experienced similar losses in the opening encounters of the conflict at the battle Charleroi and by the opening of the Somme had suffered over 1 million battlefield casualties. Britain had launched offensives at Neuve Chapelle and Loos in 1915 but neither had the scale or weight of expectation that the offensive the Somme department bore
The British Empire had spent the previous two years building up its forces from the scale of the “contemptible” levels of the BEF to the point where large sections of the front were taken up by the newly raised four armies. The Bavarian forces making up the Second army in positon on the Somme
front found their daily ration of harassing fire switched largely to shrapnel as the British moved into place.

The first day saw 13 British divisions and 11 divisions assault after prolonged artillery preparation and met with mixed results . The battlefield divides nicely into a western British zone and a southern allied assault. The western offensive met with no real success and a massive butchers bill accounting for most of the 57,000 allied casualties of the day The southern front however resulted in a real defeat of the German forces by the British Fourth Army and the French Sixth Army and a significant penetration of the German defensive positions it was here that most allied effort would be directed in the future.The battle-campaign ground on in attritional warfare until November or February depending on who you listen to.

Why the difference in results on the first day? Many reasons are put forward but the themes we will try to represent are

1. The British forces were short of heavy artillery capable of smashing the dugouts in which German infantry and machine guns were held. The French had far more on the southern front.
2. British artillery shells had poor fuses resulting in forty percent duds. In the end we adopted a French design.
3. The southern front had more British Territorial troops and large numbers of French troops with far more experience of large scale engagements.
4. We will also try to represent other themes such as Allied air superiority, Allied mining efforts and successful bombardments of barbed wire entanglements.

Thanks all thoughts and prejudices are entirely the fault of the management in this case me , Peter Gregory

Southern Front  – post depletions 


Northern Front – post depletions 

 

Northern front, despite the punishing onslaught of rolling barrages and destruction of the sections of trench and damaging of on table MGs and artillery the German lines hold – reversing history !

The Southern front offers little defender resistance – reversing this outcome also!

Squarebashing is a set of rules for recreating warfare in the early part of the twentieth century where the battle field was dominated by rifle and machine gun fire before the development of mobile armoured formations allowed for deep penetrations of the enemy front and disruption of army level formations. Dominated by fixed positions and artillery fire it is often seen as a dull period for gaming.

Squarebashing brings some dynamism to divisional level engagements where the tantalising prospect of a breakthrough is snatched away by the arrival of reserves or a defensive barrage. Much of the action is abstracted to a degree but the feel is right and most aspects of the era are well represented.

The system is designed for pick -up games on club nights where matched forces can be brought and varied terrain deployed. The pre -battle system of asset allocation brings narrative, historical flavour and variety to each game. Games can be fought to a conclusion on a club night in a satisfying manner and so all is well and a growing number of armies have been painted up and deployed at our club. The only problem I have is that I want all the armies in the army list book. Each army comes with its own assets and potential historical events which makes them even more attractive to an addict like myself.

Of course, one is not constrained to play the game in this way. The game mechanics can be used as the basis for games with different objectives or specific historical refights. This provides the opportunity to do some research, act on the evidence or your prejudices and shape a game to your liking.

The games we are presenting are designed to be manageable: playable , enjoyable( to a point) and entirely reflective of the prejudices of the scenario designer Peter Gregory. I am fairly sure we will disappoint or annoy some people but since after 46 years as a wargamer I cannot find two players who agree on much this will not surprise us at Burton District Wargames Club

Squarebashing Verdun – Attack on Fort Vaux

James Morris popped over to Burton on with his new game of Squarebashing. It was a upscaled versions of his lovely Fort Vaux game that made the rounds last year.

This was a playtest his new scenario that pitted an overwhelming German assault. The game ran all very smoothly I thought. As a German player it might have looked rosy, but you are attacking uphill all across the line into a fort, trenches or at best hasty defenses.

The defending trenches were garrisoned be a mix of reservists and regulars. All the terrain was treated as ‘shattered’ and required dice to exit. That resulted in the Germans taking ‘movement’ as their higher command order – very rarely seen in the modern game! That has the rest that the French asset order meant that they could be far more frugal with their barrage assets and while the Germans had more assets the French used them to better effect

We had 2 main assaults , one into the Fort, which was garrisoned by very paltry collection of defenders – who turned out to be very tenacious ( I think it was them always getting 2 dice minimum – and the Germans always taking -4 dice away ! uphill forts !!).

The second was on the end of the line against conscripts who had attracted the attention of the German artillery – however , Oberleutnant Boyles displayed exemplary dice to see the best of the Germans repulsed by the French conscripts

Great game – giving a very close result.

Walter Schnaffs Playtest

Played a 2nd game of Walter Schnaffs V2 .. this game was a bit one sided with the Prussians attacking with the French suffering fearful depletions. The revised version of skirmishers was probably a bit over powering and we’ll most likely go back to the prior iteration – and we don’t think it looked as good.

Pre depletions – French look strong on the Prussian left with a impressive looking cavalry wing

Post depletions – all the cavalry were late – and ended in up reserve! The French situation is perilously thin

The Prussian assets – now with a bit of corp artillery support – Baby barrage – combine with big full strength Prussian attack broke through the French line quite easily. The random millatreuse and Chasspot effects didn’t favour the French in this game as they had in the first – which was a great swinging battle


Large Prussian assault !

Over Rays dice were poor and that didn’t help. That said the Prussians only captured 2 of the 4 objectives – which given then the game level probably would have resulted in a mediocre Prussian win. “Von Bredows Death Ride” event worked a treat though


Little shot of the Prussian ‘reserve’ hidden behind the hill – very useful

For Sale 15mm Benin

Priced at £1.50 per piece , selling the army for £500

Over 800pts Benin army , just needs a dutch ally to max out to 900pt. More warriors than you can throw a stick at. They are the Irregular miniatures Benin, BUT .. they are the first spins of the mould (they weren’t out when I got these) , so the castings as as clean as you can get from Irregular

Squarebashing Day 2017

Squarebashing 2017 is to be held on 24th June

 Battlefieldhobbies in Daventry.

It will be a team event (entries permitting). The armies are divided into 2 Pools. In each team – one player plays allies, the other central powers.

The lists and statuses are

There will be 2 games, Team against Team (Allies vs Central Powers). For each game the sum of each team score will be added to the team total. The army points are 620pts (standard game)

To encourage using under valued armies the sum total of army rating will be deducted from final score.

The terrain will be pre set , other than that, its RAW. You have the option to use the ‘Rays Stick’ method for countdown to battle. There will be no trench, canal or fort games. All painted figures please, we want it to look nice!

Any questions can be raised to me at Simon@lurkio.co.uk or via the RFCM forum

Tickets can be purchased using here

http://www.battlefieldhobbies.co.uk/our-events/

Can you please purchase tickets promptly , just so the venue has an idea on the lunch requirements. At the moment we are trying to get into the ‘big’ room which has meant that the cost has gone up a couple of quid (B/H need to put on another member of staff). But we need a dozen players to make that viable.

Tickets: £12.50 including lunch

Date: Saturday 24th June 2017

Location:
Battlefield Hobbies
17 Brunel Close
Daventry
Northants
NN11 8BR

Event Schedule
09.00-09.25 – Players arrive, welcome.
09:30-12.30 – Games One.
12.30-13:30 – Buffet lunch supplied.
13.30-16.30 – Game Two

You can get a t-shirt to celebrate the event

https://shop.spreadshirt.co.uk/rfcm/-A109805612?department=1&productType=812&color=A7B6AC&appearance=649

1066 – William vs Harald in Mortem et Gloriam

For our finale game in our 1066 series of game, we saw the victorious (from Stamford Bridge) Harald confronted by William. As this was divergence from the historic events, we had no pre planned events to follow and just let the standard game dictate the events.

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The Vikings won the initial roll off and chose to defend the north. They tried to secure their armies flank against a river. The Normans were happy to let them do that – saving a fortuitous draw of cards for the outscouting phase. This resulted in the Vikings being 70% outscouted.  The terrain while being ‘dense’, saw 2 large scrubby hills failing to place. So in the end the battlefield was open in the centre and secured by a river on one flank and a couple of field on the other.

1066_1

While the Vikings were outscouted it largely didn’t alter the army disposition,  with 5’ of shieldwall. The Huscarls were spread out across the line, rather than in one particular area.

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William didn’t have much in the way of options and really had to destroy the Viking army to keep his grip on England. So, he lined up his numerous Milites and hoped to smash the centre while the Bretons harried the flanks. The Norman left saw the infantry contingent refuse the line. The Norman infantry was at best equal to the Vikings, so it was down to the mounted wing to win the day.

1066_2

The strategy that both armies deployed was not subtle. The Normans just trying to cave the centre of the line, while the Viking foot resisted in shield wall.  In game terms the Hird are average light spear , close order infantry (with shieldwall). The Milites are average , charging lance, devastating chargers…  so in the charge they are up 2. But the bit thing was that shieldwall negates any ‘s’s , and only a ‘skull’ gives a shatter. The Hird in 9’s are really resilient, and while the initial charge might have looked good, they can afford a few bases here and there if they can inflict and casualties.  As is panned out the Normans charged, had some success, but lost a few bases. The subsequent melee was even more even.  The Huscarls are savage in the melee, being 2 up n the fight, and their presence started to take a toll.  The Normans had to spend their better cards to break off and re-charge (where they had more advantage) , but this was costing them a lot in card management. The Vikings could sit back to rally off wounds where they could. The Milites in 6’s , were starting to look thinned out. One unit broke and the Vikings had a breakthrough. This had the effect of splitting the line and some isolated Huscarls that dashed out were cut down by the Norman horseman  – this seemed all very ‘in keeping’

1066_3

However, the chances of getting the major breakthrough the Normans required started to dwindle.  The Bretons were making little headway on the flanks. There were just a few too many Viking troops, and the gap in which to manoeuvre too small.  Having javelins didn’t really help them and the Vikings were in big stodgy blocks.  The Viking berserks had not been put in the front line and were acting as a fire brigade looked like a target and some initial success with missile fire looked like they might be seen off, but the more numerous  Viking squeezed the Bretons into skirmishing away and their impact was negated.

As the game came to an end the result started to look as a bloody draw. A lot of Norman horsemen had been cut down, with just the Noman infantry intact. In conclusion it looked like Williams invasion would fail. His inability to destroy the incumbent armies would mean that his wish to control the whole of England would be inconclusive. At best we might end up with a toe hold in the south, with Godwinson defeated. Victorious Haldraada , however, might have plans to extend the Danelaw !

Fighting these battles in MeG, is quite tough , there are no quick wins, and most combats have to be ground out. The subtle nuances of the interactions actually give you some tough decisions to make. For instance the Normal quandary about martialling their cards to either ‘feign flight’ or ‘rally up’, gave the more static Vikings an edge. Also the fact that average infantry are so numerous (cheap) make any cavalry breakthrough really hard.  

Made for a flavourful game, and did seem to feel right. Surprisingly more decisions to make than in other ‘Dark Ages rule sets ©’ , where they tend to run themselves.. line up..  fight

Squarebashing 1914 – Russians vs Germans

1914 Squarebashing on Thursday. I fought using the Russians vs Bobs’s new Germans. We used Rays new ‘stick method’ , replacing the countdown to battle, which worked well – and we we determined the attack defence in about 5 minutes. Despite trying to attack, I lose that, and the stoic Russians were on the defence. I had imagined another cinematic Cossack sweep down the empty flanks. But I got neither the event nor the first turn! Defending also means you have to take the full brunt on the depletions. Its not like the small professional BEF who can cram into the object squares and hope to get lucky with the reduced dice.

sb1
Pre Depletions

With 7 depletion dice per square the losses were savage, with the Russians ending up with over 10 battalions off the table. Any plan for envelopment was put to the side, and it was a holding on game right from the start.

sb2
Post Depletions

The game started slowly , both Bob and I did not get assets where we were committing 7-8 dice to the throw. This somewhat stymied Bob’s attack and the missing point effect barrage prior to his central assault meant that the attack was repulsed (just! a draw!) This had the usual bogging effect on the game and both sides sat back after initial loses, trying to blast somewhere with fire and artillery to gain advantage. The fact that the central areas of the table had villages lessened the casualties that were inflicted on the Russians. The Russian reserves dribbled on not in any spectacular way, but always a battalion or 2 arriving into the centre where the fighting was fiercest. The attack was very narrow , across only 3 or 4 squares and those columns became filled with troops. The game was quite unusual in that aspect, and has wide areas in the flanks that had very thin defences.

One German battalion has strayed out of the cover of buildings into the open and was the target of a glorious cossack charge. Isolated and unsupported the infantry were swept from the field and the cossacks wore their ‘winning the fight’ like a badge of honour – it doesn’t happen often!

sb3

With the German attack blunted it reached a stalemate. Where the germans had broken into row 3, it was not an objective, and either side defences and machine guns kept the worrying threat of a flank charge honest. The game to a close with little ground gained. The Russian losses were quite bad – and maxed out on 20 bases lost. But strangely neither side had lost any whole battalions. With the Russians still ensconced in 3 out of 4 objectives meant a solid victory for the czarists.

Another enjoyable game with the Russians, they seem to play out really well. Having a largely reservist list looks weak on paper and you’ve got to expect a lot of losses. But playing with morale higher command and a few judicious ‘hold the line’ orders and really they are not going anywhere. I suppose I was lucky when the the dreaded suppression barrage came, in as that is the reservist nightmare. If they take a casualty from that (likely) then you have 5 squares which with typically have a 3 dice test. This has a real risk of getting a ‘retire’ result, stuck under suppression meaning you can’t move and take the extra 6 hits. Whole bases are coming off in that way for Reservists.

Squarebashing always seems to give a good game, even it what might seem to be uninspiring circumstances 🙂

Battle of Stamford Bridge – 1066 Mortem et Gloriam

The next installment of our 1066 anniversary battle is the Battle of Stamford bridge. This time round Harold Godwinson was to take the field against Harald Haldraada. The armies lists were –

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The Campaign game replaces the ‘5 days before battle’ section with its own map. The Saxons are always attacking , and the Pre Battle cards indicate whether the battle took place at its original spot (where the Vikings are surprised and the army split) or whether the Vikings are more ‘canny’ and force a more conventional pitched battle. Both sided had 9 cards, so it wasn’t a guarantee that it would take place as historically.

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The preamble began slowly with the Saxons winning or drawing the early hands and thus the battle being held in the spot advantageous for them. The penultimate hands saw the Vikings make a break out away from the river and to an open plain for battle. However, a last red Saxons card in the last round saw the Vikings pushed back to the river, and the battle would be fought as per the special rules.

The battlefield was split with a traverse river, which while fordable was difficult going. The Viking army was split in two , each half being deployed on each side of the river. In the first turn the Viking would be dealt cards ‘face up’ – using the allies rules – to represent their lack of preparedness for the battle.

The scouting phase was not particularily exciting , with 100% heavy infantry armies there is not much in the way of scouting cards. The Saxons did outscout , but only by 20% (which was 2 TuGs)

stamford1

 

The blasted north, looking a bit more like Mordor than Yorkshire. The coloured sticks a necessary evil to denote troop quality and command. As they are all my figures and are the same it could get a bit mixed up

So there were 5 Vikings battlegroups on each side of the river. The Saxons had 11. The victory conditions were that the Saxons must break the Vikings (destroy 5 TuGs) while if the Vikings held on (for 3 hours) then it would be a Dane victory. So if Harold could crush the 5 battle groups on the near side of the river, before the others ‘woke up’ then that would be the game.

The cards were dealt.

Luckily the Vikings did have a good hand of cards and not one of their commands was ‘asleep’ – the Saxons has obviously trod on a few too many twigs en route to the battlefield.

Harold and his Hearthguard had made the unusual decision to go right at the end of the line to try and act as a hammer while the anvil of the Select Fyrd held the surprised Vikings in place.

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Battle was joined. The Viking on the far bank of the river formed up and advanced (as quick as their cards would allow) , but the river was slow going.

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The Vikings facing the onslaught of the Saxon army fought valiantly. The first casualty of the game being one of Harold’s elite Hearthguard. The shieldwalls ground into each other, but they were evenly matched and the Vikings broken the deadlock when one of the Saxon Huscarl catastrophically units broke on the centre of the line. The Vikings started spewing though the gap and rolling up the line

Things were looking close. Harold broke his opposition on the end of the line and tried desperately to turn the line there and capitalise on that advantage. However disaster struck and the huscarls next to Harold were attritted away and broke. They was a sizeable hole in the Saxon line now. The was a slim chance now, as the Saxon training was marginally better and the ‘tribal’ Hird would find it difficult to redeploy in a different facing.

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As an indicator of quality green = average, yellow = superior and red = exceptional

At this point the remainder of the Viking force crossed the river. This equalised the numbers and the Saxons would just have to be lucky. This was not the case. The Saxons ended up having to commit elements of the lesser Fyrd, and it was getting desparate. As we approached the end game (3 hour time limit for Viking victory) Tostig and his men destroyed another Saxon Huscarl unit. The only positive being that it cost the treacherous brother his life as he fought in the front rank! The Saxon army teetered on breaking, the coup de grace being when the flanked Saxons had a disastrous set of dice and a unit of Viking Huscarls – who had been 1 hit from breaking for most of the game – hit the end of the lined diced well and broke the unit they hit in the flank for no loses… Harold Godwinsons army broke.

Harold and his men by virtue of being at the end of the line could only be spectators as the Saxons army crumbled and fled. That did save him from being part of the destruction.

As our Battle of Stamford bridge concluded we rationalised that Harold with his army now defeated would not be in any position to stop Willliam in the south, and would flee to the continent. For our next instalment we decided to break from history try and see what would happen with the North still under Viking rule and the South now controlled by the unopposed Normans. Stay tuned for the next instalment …