Tonight we saw some armies brought out of retirement. With the release of the MeG biblical supplements Pete and I tried and old classic – New Kingdom Egypt vs Nubians. As first the classifications do a appear ungenerous, and the NKE certainly is not as ‘functionally rich’ as the early release play-test version that I have used at Oxford. The Nubians were as you expected – a lot of bowmen, however they can be backed up with some stodgy infantry and is as good as its peers.
The game unfolded with the Nubians out-scouting the Egyptians by 50%. The Nubians had big generals as I had to make up the points to 11k. They are cheap ! as mostly unprotected , combat shy! The Egyptians delayed their infantry centre , with the close fighters flanked by archers.
The Nubians could counter by deploying the Axemen opposite the Close fighters and and ‘Javelin-men’ opposing the Egyptian archers. Being protected against combat shy being sufficient reason. On the wings the NKE chariots were deployed. The Egyptians were small , with professional generals and drilled troops you certainly didn’t seem to get much for your money. 7 TuGs and 3 Skirmishers was the sum total for Egypt. The Nubians had 10 TuGs and 5 Skirmishers. The Skirmishing archers are cheap enough to deploy in full depth to cover the infantry frontage, so in the centre the Nubians were 6 deep.
The game unfolded with a general advance by the Nubians. Being more numerous they could exchange casualties and attrit their way to victory. The Chariots had a different opinion. Working out that while being reasonably good at shooting the Egyptian Chariots are Superior with a light spear, so against loose , combat shy bowmen … they are quids in. So with some long range charges the Chariots made into combat. This was bloody, and within 2 turns, 4 Nubian TuGs had broken , for no loss. Perilously close to defeat straight away (4 out of 5), luckily the Egyptians were largely spent and sensing quick victory tried another set of charges.
This was not so successful , and the inbound shooting knocked off the casualties to cause the Chariots to break. In hindsight it might have been best to protect them from further damage. However , the infantry line did seem in favour of the Nubians. Mainly the Egyptians were 1 or 2 down across the line. With 3 chariots TuGs lost , it balanced into both armies needing one more to break. The NKE is small, and best handled carefully!
The final fight occurred when the main lines clashed. One Egyptian bowmen was slight overextended , and was ground away by some javelin men that were marginally better … but it was enough for the 4th break and victory for the Nubians , after probably 7 years in the box
The game itself did offer some interesting decisions. The conundrum with the skilled Nubians (you only get 18 and restricted to 1 TuG per command) is that you might think to seek out your opponents best troops – who are usually in smaller quantities and therefore easier to destroy. But the problem is that when these troops are superior then the skilled ability doesn’t count. So actually you are better shooting at the ‘average’ masses, which in this period is numerous, and you its a tall order to destroy by fire alone.
The lists look ‘poor’ by comparison to later lists, but the game mechanic of attrition does counter balance this. I think against later armies – close , protected spearmen then I think they might struggle, but within period its gave a flavourful game !
On 3rd June Martin (Peter Pig) held a day in which a group of players refought the 1917 Battle of Cambrai (specifically the 27th Nov)
The Battle of Cambrai was a British offensive and German counter-offensive battle in the First World War. Cambrai, in the Nord département(Nord-Pas-de-Calais), was an important supply point for the German Siegfriedstellung and capture of the town and the nearby Bourlon Ridge would threaten the rear of the German line to the north. Major General Henry Tudor, Commander, Royal Artillery (CRA) of the 9th (Scottish) Division, suggested trying out new artillery-infantry techniques on his sector of the front. During preparations, J. F. C. Fuller, a staff officer with the Tank Corps, was in the process of looking for a place to use tanks as raiding parties. General Julian Byng, commander of the British Third Army, decided to combine both plans into the attack.
Despite British success on the first day, mechanical unreliability, German artillery and infantry defences exposed the frailties of the Mark IV tank. On the second day, only about half of the original number of tanks were available. Subsequent British progress was limited.
The venue for the event was the Nothe Fort , which deserves a mention
Built by the Victorians to protect Portland Harbour, Nothe Fort is one of the best preserved Forts of its kind. Located at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour the Fort is a labyrinth of underground passageways and outdoor areas with stunning views of the Jurassic Coast. Constructed on three levels , which are easily accessed by means of a lift, the Fort is filled with displays, mammoth guns and cinema areas that chart the history of this large and magnificent Victorian structure which took 12 years to build.
So on beautiful June day we descended into the depth of the nuclear shelter to play our game.
The front was broken in 6 sections, each with a bespoke force and set terrain. The victory conditions were different to a normal SquareBashing game as the relatives sizes of the forces provides a target number. This target is what the allied has to beat to get what would count as a victory.
The forces were –
The tables were –
The teams were defined in advance , and the game would be played twice. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, with sides swapping so we get a accurate refection of the teams ability !
Here are some in games shots of the tables
For my part I fought on table E as Von Schussler , and with 4 units of reserves and a handful of machine guns was crushed by Stewart with the largest British force in the front. In The afternoon with the sides swapped I was on D as Douglas-Smith, and despite fierce assaults the Germans held on along the trench , with only a small breakthrough. I had two major loses contributing to the overall loss of my team
Games in Action
Martin explaining the nuances
more instructional advice
fierce fighting over the town in Le Pave.
lovely view for lunchtime!
Its no good Dene, 4 reservists won’t stop 6 tanks and 16 infantry
So, congratulations to –
Paul , Simon K, Dave , Dene Stewart and Miles as they won both of their respective games ! (British AM, German PM)
But everyone was a winner for taking part in a super day , as a great venue. Lets hope to see more of these!
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
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
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