Saturday, March 25, 2017

6mm AWI: Ruse De Guerre solo test

Last weekend, I did a quick run of the new rules from Baccus, "Ruse De Guerre."  The scenario was once again a variation of Cowpens.  this will not be a detailed review of the rules, I will leave that for the more qualified, but just soem fo my observations and how I got on with them.

I broke several rules when playing a set of rules for the first time. Normally, I try to play rules as written out of the box a few times, but I made one exception in this case.  I ran each side as a single force, and used the force morale rules to determine when a side broke.

For solo play, I rolled for tempo points as the rules state, and then rolled a d6 for each side to randomize their tempo bids.


Here is the order of battle I used:

Danial Morgan, Decisive, TP = 2 , AC = 6
MD, DE, VA Continentals
Trained
MD, DE, VA Continentals
Trained
Militia
Trained
Militia
Poorly Trained
Rifles
Well Trained, Skirmish
Rifles
Well Trained, Skirmish
Militia
Poorly Trained
Militia
Poorly Trained
Light Dragoons
Trained

Tarleton, Decisive, TP = 2, AC = 6
7th Foot
Trained
Legion Infantry
Trained
Light Infantry
Well Trained, Skirmish
3lb. Guns
Trained
71st Foot
Well Trained
Legion Dragoons
Trained
Legion Dragoons
Trained



My troops are based on 10 cm frontages so I used 10 cm as the base width for my table, here you can see the troops drawn up. (click to enlarge) British on the right and Morgan drawn up on the hill to the left.


My measuring stick is 3 BW long with 1/2 BW marked on the section nearest the British.  My bases are 10 cm x 2 cm, so I needed to be able to measure 1/2 BW. 

Here are Morgan's forces drawn up.


And a closeup of Tarleton's forces.


The British advanced on the American position, being picked off by riflemen as they advanced.  A few shaken results were obtained, which slowed down the British advance and forced Tarleton to spend tempo to rally his troops.  Later in the game, it would cause the British to hit the American line piecemeal.


Here you can see that result, the 71st Highlanders are valiantly trying to carry the hill, but the British right is bogged down, and they have lost the 7th Foot on the left to Patriot musketry and enfilading fire from riflemen.


Tarleton tries to recover the situation by launching the British Legion Dragoons up the hill in a charge that disperses some of the American Militia.  But, it is t0o little, too late, as the 71st Highlanders also break due to weight fo American fire.


All in all a fairly historical result and in line with the several replays of this scenario I have done with One Hour Wargames.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • I really like the Tempo system, it kind of reminds me of a more sophisticated PIP system from DBx, but I think there are subtleties I am still discovering. Such as...
  • Initial placement is everything and redeploying troops is difficult.  Pick your point of decision on the battlefield and arrange your troops accordingly.  This is entirely in line with everything i have read from the period.
  • There are only 3 states a unit can be in, fully operational, shaken, or broken and fleeing.  I rather like that, as there is reduced effectiveness for shaken troops and you have to decide if you are going to spend your precious tempo trying to rally them or using them to launch attacks.  A little less fiddly than tracking hits as in OHW and you can rally troops.

I feel the rules worked well with my basing scheme, something I was doubtful of at first.  With the way my troops are organized, my games will be on the smallish side for the rules, but that does not seem to be a problem and so far seems to give a good game.

I highly recommend these, you can order them from Baccus or like I did as PDF from Wargames Vault. They are fast play without sacrificing period feel.  I suggest you get a copy if you are at all interested in the FIW, AWI, or 1812 in North America.  There are several scenarios included, including Cowpens, although I basically rewrote it from scratch to fit my collection.

I hope to get some more tests in soon and work my way up to Guilford Courthouse, until then, good gaming!





SBCT Infantry Company Project Part 3: Painting and Basing Vehcles

See the rest of the project here

First off, I want to let you know that this entire project was inspired directly by Bish's 3mm Tiny Tanks Blog.  He is doing a 1:1 Scale project and is a much better at painting, basing, and terrain than I am.
(Click photos to enlarge)

Here are is the OPFOR glued down to their sticks, ready to paint


And the US Army as well.

One of the joys of 3mm, I painted all of these in one evening...

I gave the vehicles a black undercoat, base color, and then added a camo pattern as appropriate.  For the OPFOR, I used this Russian black and tan pattern as my inspiration:


For the US Army, I went with NATO 3 color camo, excet for the Strykers, as every photo I have ever seen of them, even 2nd ACR in Germany, just show solid green.

After adding camo, I drybrush light grey and then add Army Painter quickshade.  After that drys, a final spray with a matte sealer and we are good to go!


I have a basing process similar to Bish's,  From left to right:
  • Start with Litko 30mm x 20mm base with rounded corners, ordered via their custom Basemaker
  • Glue on sand with watered down white glue
  • Base coat black
  • Drybrush Territorial beige
  • Drybrush Tan
  • Drybrush lightly with a light grey
  • Glue down the vehicle and add flock to taste
I am in the process of finishing basing up the vehicles, which takes longer than painting them!





Meanwhile, I am working on the Infantry bases, here is a Stryker Rifle Platoon of 3 x Rifle Squads and a Weapons squad. This is taking a bit longer as clipping the O8 infantry apart is difficult because of the hard metal they have to use, but looks like it will be work it.

More later, until then, good gaming!

Friday, March 17, 2017

SBCT Infantry Company Project Part 2: Organization



See all entries on this project



The Stryker Infantry Company

The Stryker Infantry Company with attachments will be the basis for one the forces I am assembling.  For all of the details on the formation, see FM 3-21.11 The SBCT Infantry Rifle Company.

"The SBCT infantry rifle company capitalizes on the strengths and minimizes the limitations of mechanized and light doctrine. The light infantry ethos is the foundation of this organization but is combined with the speed, mobility, and precision of mounted warfare. Success is achieved by integrating the complementary characteristics of each type of infantry where decisive action must occur."

To support this concept the SBCT has these organic assets:
*The official organization of the SBCT Infantry Rifle Company has been modified since the FM was published.  The original concept was for every company to have a platoon of Mobile Gun Systems for direct fire support.  These are Strykers with a 3 man crew and a 105mm gun and autoloader.  They were designed to provide direct fire support to the Infantry and NOT act as a tank.  Fielding and budget issues have convinced the Army to reduce the number purchased, so instead of 3 per company (27 per SBCT) there are 9 assigned to the SBCT Anti-Tank Company (9 per SBCT).  More on this in the attachments section.


Organic assets:
The vehicles are all available from Picoarmor, and I am using the following codes:
  • Infantry: This is the main combat power of the company.  As you can see above, the company has Rifle squads (also armed with Javelin ATGM), weapons squads with M240’s, and a sniper team.  

  • ICV: The majority of the vehicles in the company are the Infantry Carrier Vehicle 
  • Mortar Carrier: The Company has an organic section of two 120mm Stryker Mortar carriers.  This provides immediate indirect fire and smoke, including precision guided munitions. 
  • Medical Evac: I am not modeling the company ambulance yet, but probably will, it is available also 
  • FIST:  The Company has a dedicated fire support team that acts as the company commander’s main coordinator for indirect fire and air support.  Interestingly, the Army is experimenting with mounting a 5kW laser on this chassis to defend against UAV’s.  I will be modeling this with the RV version of the Stryker, as they look similar and are basically ICV’s with extra sensors and laser designators on top. 
  • Raven UAV: This was added to the Company around 2006 and gives the company commander direct ability to “see over the next hill,” although there are some limitations to its use in highly mobile conditions, see: "Tactical Employment of the Raven SUAS"  . This will need to be modeled in the rules.

Attachments:
There are a plethora of assets than can be attached to the company from battalion or brigade levels.  These include:

  • Battalion 120mm mortar platoon, which I will model as off table
  • Battalion Scout Platoon: 4 x Stryker Reconnaissance vehicle with scout teams
  • Fire support from the SBCT Field Artillery Battalion of towed 155mm guns
  • Anti-Tank Platoon: 3 vehicle TOW Anti-Tank platoon attached from Brigade Anti-Tank Company

  • MGS Platoon: 3 vehicle MGS platoon attached from Brigade Anti-Tank Company
  • Combat Engineers: Engineer support from the SBCT Engineer Company, I am not fielding this yet, but the vehicle is available from Picoarmor

There are also attachments that are not organic to the SBCT that have a high chance of being attached and falling within the SBCT Infantry Rifle Company Commander’s control or area of operations.
·        M1A2 MBT’s
o   It is probable that armor could be attached to a SBCT for high intensity operations.  That has been practiced at the National Training Center and in one example a Stryker company was organized with 1 Infantry Platoon and 2 Tank platoons, see: "The Stryker-Tank Company Team" 
o   I am representing M1’s with M1A2 TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit) variants, as they have reactive armor, which will probably become more common over the next few years 
Aviation: The SBCT has no organic aviation component, but the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) is station in Germany and has 2 attack battalions equipped with AH-64D’s.
All in all, the SBCT Infantry Company Commander has a plethora of organic potential assets under his command to accomplish his mission.

OPFOR: Krasnovian Army
I am modeling the wily Krasnovians on Russian Combined Arms Battalion Tactical Groups.  While superficially similar to old Soviet organization and still using a lot of the same equipment, this is NOT the Soviet Army of the 1980’s.  It is smaller and has a manpower problem, hence the high ratio of support weapons available at every level of command.  The emphasis is on maneuver and decisive action in high intensity and “Hybrid” warfare, which involves using powerful conventional forces for limited political objectives.  See my last post for some good articles on this.

This army is well equipped and supplied, moving away from use of conscripts, and has recent combat experience in decisive action operations.  They are savvy in deception, intelligence, cyber and information warfare, and are technologically sophisticated.  Like the US Army, in the last 25 years they have moved towards establishing combined arms formations on a permanent basis.  To quote one of the articles I referenced last time “Current Russian land-warfare tactics are something which most armies, including the U.S. Army, are largely unprepared to address.” (http://www.benning.army.mil/armor/eARMOR/content/issues/2016/JUL_SEP/3Fox-Russia16.pdf)

The Krasnovian Battalion Tactical Group is organized as follows:
I intend to represent only a reinforced Company sized formation on the table at any one time (at least initially) and am modeling the elements of the BTG as follows:
Tank Company: Can be Modernized T-72, T-80U, or the brand new Armata MBT.  I am going to start with T-80U and my OPFOR will use the “Boris” MBT as a surrogate as I can have it work for any of those.
Motorized Rifle Company: Can be BTR or BMP-2 or BMP-3.  For the various weapons systems I am using:

  • IFV: BMP-3 Equivalent is the “Matabele” 
  • Infantry: The rifle squads have the usual array of light weapons and RPG’s
  • Infantry Weapons, including AGS Grenade Launchers and Koronet ATGM’s
  • Anti-Tank: this is a little more complicated, I am fielding “Thor” missile launchers as ATGM carriers. In the Russian Army, they are fielding the 2B16 120mm anti-tank gun / mortar, something that the US army has no equivalent for.
  • SP Artillery: “Direct-laid artillery, used in conjunction with anti-tank capabilities, provide excellent standoff for Russian Krasnovian forces, allowing them to advantageously shape the battlefield prior to launching tank and mechanized forces”  As a results, I am fielding 122mm SP guns to fill this role as well as larger, longer range guns


Based on my research, manpower shortages in the Krasnovian (Russian) Army have impacted the organization of their infantry, with fewer dismounts in the Motor Rifle Platoons, and more emphasis on heavy weapons.  As a result, I am basing my company on the…
Motor Rifle Company:

·        HQ: 1 x BMP-3
·        2-3 x Motor Rifle Platoons:
o   3 x BMP-3 with 3 x Rifle Squads
·        1 x Weapons Platoon:
o   2 x BMP-3
o   2 x AGS 30mm automatic grenade launchers
o   2 x Koronet ATGM launchers

The company can have attached to it:


  • 1 – 2 Tank Platoons
  • SP Artillery fire direct fire
  • ATGM carriers
  • Light Recon platoon
  • Plenty of off board fire support from Brigade Artillery and Mortars
  • UAV’s
  • Close Air support
  • Aviation support, such as Mi-28

My approach is not exactly a reproduction of current Russian Forces, but should give similar capabilities and challenges to the SBCT Infantry Rifle Company.


Why use 3mm (1/600) scale at 1:1?


Well lots of reasons, but mainly these:

  • The amount of geographic area a unit occupies has increased radically over the last 25 years.  
    • For example, in the 1980's a Soviet Motorized Rifle Regiment might attack on a 4 km frontage.  In the West German Army, a Leopard 2 Panzer Battalion might hold a 4-5 km frontage on the defense.
    • In modern maneuver operations, the improvements in communications, lower troop densities, and improved reconnaissance at all levels has led to units spreading out much more and then rapidly concentrating for attacks,  during recent fighting in the Ukraine, a Russian Brigade Tactical Group might be spread out over a 40 km frontage, roughly a tenfold increase.
    • As a result, you need lots of room to maneuver and you can get that on a reasonable table with 3mm.
    • No offense to our 15mm FOW and Team Yankee brethren, but the hub to hub tank park look just bothers me for purely aesthetic reasons.  Horses for courses, but I do not want my table to look like this..

  • Weapon ranges are really long
    • Even with using 1/600 scale vehicles, if I halve that to get my ground scale at 1/1200 a 1.5 meter wide table is only 1800 meters wide.  The range of the Javelin ATGM is about 2500 meters.  Using larger scale models would make it look odd to me.
  • Cost
    • I bought everything for the SBCT Infantry Company with a company's worth of M1A2's from Pico Armor for $33 including shipping.  They look great too, IMHO.
  • Table Size
    • With the spread out nature of modern maneuver warfare, I need to be able to portray it on a reasonably sized table, ideally my home table size of 5' x 3.5'
  • Time and storage
    • I can knock this project out quickly and be up and playing and enjoying it rapidly with a minimum of fuss and trying to find some place to store it.
All of these considerations led me to choose 1/600 and focus on company sized actions, with vehicles at 1:1 and Infantry based as squads or weapons teams as appropriate.


Next time, I paint some vehicles!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SBCT Infantry Company Project Part 1: Background


First some history…  In 1995, I was a young soldier stationed with the 3rd Signal Brigade at Ft. Hood, Texas.  I lived in the barracks, so what did I do with my free time?  I played DBM twice a week and I participated in “Team Trackless” on my Pentium 75 computer and dial-up internet service.  Team Trackless was “a volunteer, unclassified effort to use commercial wargames to test new doctrine and tactics for the new "trackless" (wheeled armored vehicles) brigades the US Army is experimenting with. Team Trackless members are all wargamers, and many are wargame developers and military professionals. The purpose of Team Trackless is to see if we can develop a faster way military professionals to test new ideas using off the shelf tools."

The tool used was TacOps by Battlefront (Battlefront.com, not the FOW guys) and I spend hours playing through the scenarios, but never actually sending in my results.  Fast-forward 25 years…  The United States Army has transformed into the Brigade Combat Team (BCT structure) and the Stryker BCT has been a reality for 10+ years.  The concept it to bridge the gap between Heavy forces (High tactical mobility and protection, low strategic mobility, few dismounts for close terrain) and Light forces (Low tactical mobility and protection, high strategic mobility, suited for close terrain)
In fact, the only maneuver Brigades permanently stationed in Europe is the 173rd Airborne and the Stryker based 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

Reading through a few recent issues of Armor and Infantry Magazines and a fellow miniature gamer’s blog has sparked my desire to do some ultra-modern gaming and see how Stryker Units would possibly fair in what the Army calls the “Decisive Engagement Environment.” With the end of 10+ years of counter-insurgency operations in the Middle East, the Army is having to relearn the ability to fight a near-peer enemy.  Additionally, the Russian Army has come a long way from what we model when we play the Group of Soviet Forces Germany in hypothetical 1985 scenarios. 


My inspirations were:


Additionally, if you have any interest in ultra-modern warfare at all, you should read both Armor (http://www.benning.army.mil/armor/eARMOR/)  and Infantry (http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/) magazines.  A lot does not apply directly to our tabletop games, but it is nice to be reminded how little “simulating” we actually do, as we tend not to worry about logistics, casualty evac, reconnaissance, the layout of a BCT TOC, maintenance, training plans, etc.
At this stage in my gaming life, I am a huge fan of small, easily completed projects.  My main inspiration or this project Bish’s blog, specifically his 1:1 scale 1:600 project:

So, I am embarking on modeling a specific type of conflict in 1/600 scale, a reinforced US Army Stryker Infantry Company versus elements of a Russian Battalion Tactical Group.  I have bags of Picoarmor 3mm Sci-Fi stuff, so to save money and in the best tradition of the US Army, I am replacing the Russians with a suspiciously Russian equipped and organized OPFOR, the Krasnovians.

One ~$30 order from Picoarmor + the Sci-Fi stuff I had and I was ready to start painting!  Next up, fielding the force…




Saturday, March 11, 2017

OHW: Seize the Hill and The Battle of Cowpens


I got in another couple of solo games this weekend, starting with another One Hour Wargames jaunt to the American War of Independence.  

I have fiddled with the rules some more, dropping the command die rolls.  They did not seem to add much to the game except more fiddling, so I added Fog of War cards as suggested in the rules, except the British and Patriots have separate decks.   The British tend to have more beneficial cards, and the Patriots more negative effects.  See below for the new QRS and the card breakdown.

FILES GO HERE

I printed up and laminated a the cards, including picture of re-enactors I pulled from the web.

The first scenario I played was from the OHW book, Seize the Hill, I forgot which number it is.  Both sides are trying to seize a prominent terrain feature.  The British are advancing from the south and the Patriots from the north.
 You can see my improved sponge forests, I cut them down so they are not so tall and repainted them in less garish colors.  I am rather pleased with the effect.

Here you see the main struggle for the hill, with the Legion Cavalry trying to flank the hill.

Here you see the critical final moments of the battle.  The British have actually surrounded the Patriots on the left flank and they decimated the 2nd Maryland Continentals with some brisk volleys helped by a Fog of War card.


Meanwhile, the US Postal Service delivered another package from Cigar Box Battle mats, this time one of the non-plush Open Grasslands mats.  I ordered it, as I wanted some smaller mats that could fit my table better, but the amazing plush mat I have looks like it might fray if I cut it.  So, I took the new mat and cut it making a 50" x 38" mat and two 25" x 19" mats. I will still use the plush mat, especially for "away" games where I have access to a larger table.

On a whim I set up something that looked sort of like the battle of Cowpens.  I have been thinkinng a good convention game might be "Cowpens in an Hour," a small game that I can run once an hour and folks can cycle through it without having to commit to a 4 hour mega-game (not that I don't like those) and still have time to hit the vendors.

Anyway, here is what I came up with, Tarleton on the left and Morgan on the right...


I set up the terrain and troops using the Black Powder "Rebellion" scenario book and the deployment diagram from With Zeal and Bayonets Only. As in "Rebellion," I assume the woods are fairly open and everyone is in some sort of loose order, so the forest chunks are decorative only

Reversed view, Patriots on the hill to the left, with skirmishing riflemen in front starting to pick off the British.

The riflemen fall back

The British advance on the main Patriot line on the hill. At the top you can see what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt by the British Legion cavalry to turn the flank.


The Patriots held the line, routing the 7th Foot and British Legion Infantry, and seriously mauling the light bobs and Legion cavalry.  The 71st highlanders were in pretty good shape,probably good enough to fight a rearguard action and a few more British / Loyalists may have escaped than did historically.

The rules worked well, but i am anxiously awaiting the new rules from Baccus Miniatures, Ruse de Guerre.

Until next time, happy gaming!