Monday, November 23, 2009

Falcon of the Duce

Last Saturday we played a couple of small Check Your Six! games from the 'Falcon of the Duce' scenario and campaign supplement. This particular scenario book honors Italy's fighter ace Franco Lucchini, and his exploits across the Mediterranean Theatre of the War.

The first scenario took place on the 14th of June 1940, over the skies near Buq Buq, Libya. Lucchini and two other pilots intercepted a flight of British Gloster Gladiators and a dogfight ensued.

The Players: Phil commanding the Italians- One Ace (Lucchini) and two skilled pilots in Cr.42s, Justin- 2 green pilots in Gladiators, & Gert- 1 Veteran and 1 green pilot in Gladiators.

Around 10 O'clock in the morning, the Gladiators spot the Italian Cr.42s in the distance and close on them.

Lucchini and his wingmen pitch into the Gladiators on their right.

Then, Lucchini and another pilot shift to the left and single out a target, who just so happens to be the British veteran pilot.

With machine guns blazing, the Gladiator takes a hit and crashes to the ground. Luckily the pilot bails out and will live to fight another day.

Then the other Gladiators exact some revenge and knock down one of the Italians. It is now 3 on 2.

Nose to nose, the pilots are looking each other in the eyes.

But, it is the Italian who takes out the Brit. It is now 2 on 2.

As the combatants circle around each other looking for a clear shot, another hit for the Italian takes out a third British plane. Now, it is two on one. Commanding the last British plane, I decide it is time to pull out of the fight. Being a green pilot, I realize there is no way I can get myself in a good position for a clean shot when I'm up against a skilled and an ace pilot, so I dive out of the action. It is only after the game that I find out that Lucchini's plane is damaged and he has been avoiding the fight, but his presence on the field is enough to shake my nerves.

The second scenario we played consisted of Lucchini taking off from Tobruk with a flight of Cr.42s to intercept a British Sunderland Flying Boat.

The Players: Justin- Sunderland Flying Boat
Gert- 1 Ace (Lucchini) and 1 skilled pilot in Cr.42s, Phil- 2 skilled pilots in Cr. 42s

Two Italians close on the Sunderland quickly, but with limited fuel, they only have a couple of turns to get in some good hits. If they fail, it will be up to Lucchini and his wingman (a good distance away) to catch up and finish the job before the Brit makes it off the field.

The Sunderland was known for it's ability to take a beating and keep on flying, so the Italians, with their poorly armed fighters, will have a tough job of taking her down. Especially while dodging shots from one of the many machine guns positioned on their prey.

For the first game, Phil was able to get a lucky hit on the first turn and knocked the Brit out of the sky. Since it was over so quickly, I was confident that I could do better, and took command of the Sunderland for a second game, only to be knocked out of the game on turn two.

Then Phil decided to take a crack at it. As I gave chase, one of my CR.42's got knocked out, and the other ran out of ammo, but in the process I hit the Sunderland's engine, and she lost speed. Now we had a fight! It would up to Justin (with Lucchini and his wingman) to close the gap and pound the large beast before it could exit the field.

As Justin rushes on, it's going to be close. As soon as they are within range of each other, they open fire. It is turning out to be a real nail biter.

And Lucchini does it again! Phil was only one turn away from completing his escape. As an explosion takes down the Sunderland, a subsequent roll is made to see if any shrapnel hits Lucchini, but he gets lucky and survives.

Today turned out to be a good day for the Italians. We had a great time playing some early war scenarios, and you have to love playing with Bi-planes in WWII.

Enjoy the holiday, and we'll see everyone in December for some more great gaming!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Fall-In" Pics and AAR

A couple of weekends ago our club attended the HMGS East "Fall-In" convention in historic Gettysburg Pennsylvania. As always, we had a great time. We met several people, ran some fun games for the other attendees, and played in a couple of great games stretching from Ancients to WWII.
I snapped a couple of pics, but unfortunately my camera's battery died and I did not get to walk around taking shots of all the games, like I had originally intended.

On Friday afternoon I ran an ACW naval game using some home rules. We had 25 ships, Forts, and Shore Batteries. The scenario was an attack on a Southern Harbor, and the Union players pushed hard to win a decisive victory. They had some lucky hits on the main fort that silenced several of the guns, and the Confederate rams had some bad rolls and couldn't seem to do much of anything. Despite all of this, the Rebels did not give up, and they kept up a hot fight the entire game.

Our Friday Regimental Fire&Fury game:

"Death was holding High Carnival!"- Chickamauga, 19 September 1861
The vital rail junction of Chattanooga was Rosecrans' next target. Bragg's Army of the Tennessee, with the added weight of Longstreet's corps finally stopped retreating and turned around. Scattered Federal troops earlier in the morning have taken a beating, but now more effort has been added. Bragg too is pushing more troops forward. Farmer Brock's field is about to witness an all out slugfest.

AAR: For our playtest before the convention, the Federals had won a decisive victory, virtually destroying the entire Confederate left flank and stopping an assault on the right. The Fall-In game turned out quite differently. It was fairly historical as neither side could gain a clear advantage. The Federals came away with a slight victory as the Confederates could not obtain their objectives. Historically, both sides fought to a standstill until more support could be brought up.

Some games we played on Friday:

The Battle of Kohima, 1944: British vs Japanese

A large Stalingrad game:

On Friday night we hit up O'Rourke's Pub in downtown Gettysburg for a couple pints and some loaded cheese fries. I will really miss this place when the Con moves to Lancaster next year. When we returned to the Ike, we played in one of our friend's Check Your Six! Kamikaze game. I was Japanese, and had a good hit on the carrier. Banzai!!!!!

Our other Regimental Fire&Fury game was played on Saturday: Greenbrier River, 1861. For a more detailed description of the game, see our November 12th post on the playtest before the convention.

Another club member ran a second naval game. The scenario consisted of the CSS Tennessee having to leave port and exit off of the opposite table edge without being sunk by a Union squadron. Of course, some friends showed up to help the Tennessee. I got to command the slow moving Ironclad, and kicked some Yankee butt! -a little retribution for the pounding the Rebels took in the game I ran on Friday.

On Saturday night we ran a large, twelve player Wings of War (WWI aerial) game. We had 24 planes on the deck in an all out dog fight.

With GameMaster registration already open for Cold Wars in March, it's time to start planning our club's schedule. Right now, we are planning on doing some more Regimental Fire&Fury (Belmont MO, Richmond KY, Bentonville NC), as well as some more ACW Naval and Wings of War. We may even bring our large French and Indian War game. Be sure to look for our club (Refuse the Flank Wargamers) in the PEL if you want to game with us.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Greenbrier River - ACW Regimental

The battle of Greenbrier River, also known as the battle of Camp Bartow, occured in Pocahontas county of Virginia (present day West Virginia) on 3 October 1861. The debacle of 1st Manassas were still fresh on the minds of both sides. The Confederate troops of Henry Jackson were trying to hold on to the wooded hills around Cheat Mountain in the hopes of keeping that pro-union area within their control. The Federals under Joseph R. Reynolds, although somewhat unorganized, retained overwhelming numbers compared to their gray and butternut counterparts. As a result, Reynolds set out on the 2nd of October to rid his department of the stubborn southerners. Jackson however, had excellent defensive positions, and vast knowledge of the ground he was defending. He was determined to give the Federals all they could handle...

The Federals slowly come on the field with high hopes of breaking the Confederates, who are well defended behind breastworks on elevated ground.

The line of Confederates as they await the approaching blue horde:

Reynolds' inexperienced Northerners are coaxed uphill by their mounted officers.

The thin defenses see wave upon wave of Federals coming up through the trees.

In their haste to clear the graybacks from their defenses in the hills above, the Federals positioned their artillery on the relatively unguarded left flank. A bold Confederate Brigadier saw the juicy prize and captured all but one section of Federal heavy ordnance and was on the verge of closing the escape route.

The Federals however were able to barely hold on behind snake rail fences, while the Conferate assault ground to a halt without any further support.

With their left flank finally contained, the first wave of Federals makes it over the wall, but cannot hang on and consolidate their gains. These troops are quickly thrown back down the hill with staggering losses. More blue-clad troops are on their way up.

Union troops at last make it up the first hill and hold it in order to confront the defenders at point blank range. Mounting casualties however have worn them down, and the Confederates are far from broken.

At the end of the engagement, The Federals have pushed the Southerners off of their high ground and are hanging on by a thread. They too are in worn out condition and can no longer make any gains.

The game was played prior to the HMGS-East Convention Fall-In! held in Gettysburg, PA. Our game turned out differently than the historical outcome. Historically, Reynolds pulled his troops out of action before any serious engagement could be undertaken. After all the smoke had cleared, less than a 100 casualties were counted between both sides. This was a classic case of both sides feeling each others capabilites out with troops and weaponry that were far from ideal, and in a countryside that offered little in the way of freedom of movement. Three years later, the veteran soldiers of both sides would be slugging it out all across Virginia, inflicting previously unthinkable amounts of casualties.