Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Melee in the shadow of the Malverns - the Battle of Drugger's End

My first ever VBCW game, played last year with Giles.

The setting: a farm at Drugger's End, near Castlemorton, Malvern. Both sides had been informed that the local bandits had a stock of material, so went there to confiscate said material.

Obviously those BUF bully boys of the Three Counties Legion had been traipsing around the Malvern Conservators’ beloved hills a little too roughly, for, one fateful day, the two sides found themselves squaring up to each other at a farm somewhere at the base of the Malverns.

The BUF and MHC set up on opposite sides. Both had ~30 infantry, the BUF had a Vickers Independent Tank (“Lady Astor”), whilst the MHC had a Vickers Mark II (“Enigma”) and some bombers.

Both sides deployed infantry at the flanks with their command and armour in the centre, either side of a large barn. The MHC also deployed their HMG here, whilst the BUF’s HMG headed to a hill on their far left flank to give them a clear shot at the MHC tank.

For the first few rounds there were light casualties. Then things turned nasty, the MHC shot to pieces a BUF infantry unit as they advanced over a hillock, on the MHC left, whilst on the MHC right the BUF HMG and tank almost halved a MHC infantry unit.

Advancing head-to-head, the two tanks then duked it out, the BUF couldn't hit a bull's arse with a shovel however and in a moment of bravado, the MHC tank ("Enigma") raced past her, and in the next round charged straight into a unit of BUF infantry who promptly retreated before being sprayed with gunfire. Enigma then fired a spot on shot against the BUF HMG that had been set up on a hillock behind rocks destroying it utterly. The MHC unit got shot to pieces and was in a fragile state.

Rather than turn around and give chase, Lady Astor opted to give support to the BUF’s ailing centre, leaving the left flank infantry to draw Enigma away. She rounded the barn and attacked the MHC in the rear, destroying the HMG before driving off the command unit of Sir Jonathan Porridge and Sir George Moonbat. The other MHC units fell back with casualties.

At the beginning of the next round the MHC infantry on their right flank headed for the hills, failing their pluck tests. The left flank held and inflicted a large amount of damage. The Bomber tried to destroy the BUF tank, the commander of which was beginning to wish for some infantry support from his comrades lurking around the other side of the barn. Luckily the matches were damp and it failed to explode.

In any VBCW game, it seems to be traditional for one lone lunatic to make a stand. In our case, this was the sole surviving member of the BUF infantry on their right flank. After a defiant burst of LMG fire, this silly sod fell, leaving the remaining infantry units on this side of the table to pull back a little to draw breath.

On the other side, the MHC tank stopped chasing the BUF infantry, who throughout the chase held their nerve and performed an orderly retreat, and stopped to turn her turret on the BUF machine – now frantically reversing up the road to avoid any more sticky bombs and get a shot around the barn at her opposite number.

The final round came, and the BUF tank fired first - but still it was firing rubber tipped shells that bounced off the "Enigma" despite a direct hit. Return fire killed two of the BUF tank crew, as the BUF infantry, fresh from the chase, raced to the centre in pursuit of the other MHC bomber, who had vaulted a fence to join his comrade.

The end point came when the MHC bombers detonated their sticky bombs, both going off and the first brewing up the BUF tank. At this point, with much cursing, the BUF infantry withdrew, leaving a very battered MHC infantry unit and tank in control of the farmyard.

A very good battle, which was enjoyed by both players, and swung from one side to the next. We forgot many rules, and made up rules on the spot, for such things as tanks running over units and turning turrets 180+ degrees (though a quick check of WH40K showed we weren't too far off base!). The use of cards to determine initiative was good; though we both worked out we were using the tanks to make/break the game. It had been several years since I had played any kind of wargame, and it’s encouraging to know that my dice rolls are as rubbish as ever when it comes to shooting at things!

The starting layout.

View of the BUF line from their right flank.

From the left flank.

The MHC line from thier left flank.

The end! A badly damaged Lady Astor is brewed up before BUF infantry can get to the bombers.

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