Monday, 16 January 2012

Carve-up in Colwall – times two!

Myself, Giles and his mate Gavin decided to do a dry-run of an urban game in readiness for the biggish game in February. Not only would this give us a feel for the right balance of buildings and other terrain, but also try out Giles’ ammunition supply rules and the random event cards that I had written.

The Village of Colwall

In an effort to tie the dry-run into our current campaign narrative, it was decided to base the action in the village of Colwall – site of the Malvern Spring Water factory and more importantly the Colwall railway tunnel. Whoever controlled Colwall thus controlled a vital rail link between Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The BUF flying column sent to rescue the BUF that have been cut off in SE Herefordshire and that face a hostile LDV in Ledburyhas to fight its way through Colwall on the western slopes of the Malverns - the first fighting that village had seen.

The factory
Giles’ supply rules were as follows:- before each turn, each unit drew a playing card and consulted a table. Most cards meant that the unit had enough ammunition for that turn, others meant that ammo had run out. One of my random event cards would be drawn if a player rolled a 1 or a 6 when dicing for initiative.

The warehouse
Within the village, two buildings acted as supply dumps – the factory on the defenders’ right flank, and a warehouse on the defenders’ left-centre. Whoever occupied these buildings did not have to draw a supply card. The factory would start off under the defenders’ control, while the warehouse was unoccupied.

Starting positions (MHC on the right, Blackshorts on the left)
Gavin took control of the defending MHC, while I fielded my Blackshorts, newly re-enforced with the ‘Blackskirt’ Sidcup Highlanders. My plan was to race the veteran highlanders to the warehouse on the left, while the green Metropolitan Blackshorts, tank bombers, command unit and support weapons occupied buildings in the centre, where they could fire at the defenders with the help of two armoured vans. Finally the trained Marches Blackshorts would advance at the far left and, supported by fire from the centre, make an attempt on the factory.

That was the plan anyway…

The Sidcup Highlanders beat the MHC to the warehouse
The highlanders duly reached and occupied the warehouse, narrowly pipping an MHC company to the post. The rest of the Blackshorts fared less well however. While the command unit duly occupied a building, the Metropolitans failed to get into a large coaching house due to the lack of doors and windows on their side of the building – something I’d failed to consider!

The Marches Blackshorts wonder where their bullets are
The Marches company was also stymied, as repeatedly poor supply cards meant that they spent a lot of the time without any ammunition! They were reduced to skulking behind a house while they waited for some decent supplies to be forthcoming.

The Blackshort centre hangs around the coach house
On my right, the highlanders quickly shot up the advancing MHC unit, almost destroying them utterly. The command unit also gave the defenders a hard time, with the sniper taking out one of the MHC tank bombers. However the rest of the centre was forced to take pot shots through the exposed archway and flanks of the coach house, while the vans typically made a lot of noise but hit very little – one of them being more useful as a shield for the HMG as it went around the coach house.

Set ramming speed to, er, zero...
While the highlanders fortified the warehouse, the rest of the force was now coming under considerable fire from the defensive positions. The armoured van supporting the command unit soon lost its armaments and in revenge attempted to ram the MHC anti-tank rifle responsible (which, having claimed its first prize, was heading out to take on the second van). This was foiled by the remaining tank bomber, who managed to immobilise the vehicle.

Withdrawl from the centre
I was now regretting placing my command unit in the front line, as the building they were holed up in was getting, well, holed! The Metropolitans were also receiving casualties, while fire from the HMG and armoured van had little effect on the forces defending the factory – now being re-enforced by MHC vehicles from their centre.

Discretion is the better part of valour
After a handful of casualties the green Metropolitans broke, as did the command until after being reduced to just the commander. While the highlanders redressed this balance by wiping out the MHC command unit with MG fire from the warehouse, at the other end of the table the Marches company, having being –finally- supplied with ammunition, advanced on the MHC’s flank. However, unsupported by the centre, they were quickly shot up by the factory defenders. It was time to concede.

Massacre on the flank
We decided that the supply rules were perhaps a bit too severe, while the event cards didn’t get much of an airing to be of any use. However on the plus side we did have time for another game! We decided that supply cards should be drawn only after a unit had fired – giving them at least one chance to do something! If a picture card was drawn, then an event card would also be drawn, rather than drawing them in the initiative phase. Control of the factory and/or warehouse increased the value of the card drawn.

And so on to game 2…

Starting positions
This time Gavin took control of the Blackshorts, while I had a chance to field some of my Anglican League figures, who had taken over defensive duties from the MHC. Once again the factory was in the defenders’ hands, while the warehouse was unoccupied but under nominal Anglican control.

The Anglican command eagerly awaits victory
I once again decided to race to the warehouse with my veteran LDV unit, while at the other flank, knowing from bitter experience that the coach house could not be entered from behind; I defended the factory with the green Archenfield Amateur Athletics Association, with an HMG at the far end to counter any flanking move. The trained LDV lined the fences at the centre, with an armoured van, Croydon Crusher, anti-tank rifle and anti-tank bombers for support.

Oh dear...
Gavin shrewdly anticipated my attempt to reach the warehouse, and had most of the Blackshort forces in that area under primary fire orders: firing at the most opportune moment (crossing the road to reach the building). A lucky shot from an armoured van nearly halved the LDV unit as they left the safety of their defences, while the fascist infantry finished off the rest as they scrambled into the warehouse.

The HMG moves up
Combined rifle and vehicle fire from the Blackshorts quickly knocked out the Croydon Crusher and rendered the van useless, while return fire had very little effect due in part to my usually woeful dice rolls. Fire through the archway between the factory defenders and the Blackshorts behind the coach house was desultory, so as it was clear that there would be no flank attack on my right, I rashly decided to move my (well, Giles’ actually) HMG into the archway to get a crack at the fascists behind.

More bad news for the AL
This move was soon met by a hail of bullets and the HMG was no more, while at my left the Blackshorts duly occupied the warehouse and then advanced to roll up my depleted left flank. At this stage I remembered I had some anti-tank bombers, but it was too late to do anything with them.

Get stuck in lads!
The fascists bombers on the other hand had advanced into a building in the centre (probably still strewn with the corpses of the Blackshort command group from the previous game). In order to actually do something positive, rather than through any tactical need, I charged the centre LDV into the building, turfing out the bombers. However despite this minor victory, and with time ticking on, it was clear that I had to throw in the towel.

Warehouse taken, the Blackskirts roll up the flank
Another great game was had, and the supply rules worked out a lot better. The event cards also saw more play, although in this case had little effect on the game (the Blackshort anti-tank rifle unit only discovering a barrel of cider after they had done their work). Much food for thought was had regarding the number and placement of buildings (regarding positioning of doors and windows etc.) and rule amendments for storming said buildings were also tried out.

More piccies can be found here and here.

Onwards then, to February and the biggish game. The fascists have secured the Hereford/Worcester rail link and the Anglican League have negated the MHC's hard won gains. But what effect will all this have on the siege of Ledbury?

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