Author Archives: jstrib01

The Battle of Moriarty’s Tavern

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We fought a “Murican Revolution” game in 25mm on July 4, 2015. It seemed appropriate somehow. I am going to pop up some photos for your amusement, and then follow with commentary a bit later.

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Russ Schnieder, one of the British commanders, looking a bit skeptical as the game begins.

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Jim Pitts, one of the Patriot commanders (along with his son Sean Pitts) hurries newly-arrived reinforcements into the battle.

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The action begins!

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More troops are involved.

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Russ, along with his fellow Royalist commander Ed Sansing are in action.

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A view down the battlefield later in the game.

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The surviving British and loyalist cavalrymen go “view-hallooing” along after being withdrawn from the British right and sent along a safe path to the left. General Schneider wisely kept them out of range after an initial blooding.

The colored plastic rings indicate the units’ morale state. A yellow ring shows a morale state of 4 (the best), a Blue would indicate a morale state of 3, a Green ring would show a morale state of 2, while a Red ring would be a morale marker for a morale point of 1 – the worst!

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A view of the battlefield before the battle began. Photo by Jim Pitts

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A view of one of our regiments. Each is composed of six stands of 3 figures each. While real-life British or Patriot units varied wildly in size, ours are the same size, for easy identification of current strength as opposed to starting strength. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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Patriot dragoons attack the British lines on the right flank of the Rebel lines. Sean Pitts launched this attack in an attempt to slow down the enemy advance, which it did, but at the cost of most of the Rebel mounted troops. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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Photo by Jim Pitts.

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A patriot unit milling about in confusion having fallen back in rout due to British volleys. The tag on the unit shows that previously it had gone low on ammunition. Cute markers instead of clumsy labels to show low ammo or loss of officers are just around the corner – and have been for years! Photo by Jim Pitts.

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Photo by Jim Pitts.

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This Pennsylvania regiment has fallen back out of the Holmes Farm with the prisoner, who had been the object of the search by both armies. The British had been trying to “rescue that brave man” while the Patriots had been trying to “Get that prisoner to headquarters before the Militia do something stupid”. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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Photo by Jim Pitts.

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The Rebel right flank, under the command of Sean Pitts, at the end of the battle. They had severely attrited the British left, and were bending it back, but it never quite broke. The Patriot center and left, HAD broken however. The Patriot army was in poor shape (Major Morale) and was leaking units to the rear. Photo by Jim Pitts.

The Rebels had their prisoner, but they lost on points with 8 (5 of them for the prisoner) to the British 10 points, all from inflicting casualties on the Rebels.

Thee will be a bit more text to be added to this report.

The Battle of the Alma

On Saturday June 30, 2015, the Jackson Gamers refought the battle of the Alma. This was the first action in the Crimean War, on September 20, 1854. The allies (Britain and France) had landed north of their objective, the Russian city of Sebastopol on the Crimean peninsula in the Black sea. They then marched around the city to attack it from the south.

The high ground beyond the river Alma was where the Russian army made it’s stand. We took as the basis for this game an older SPI “Quad” game published 30 years ago. This board game contains four battles, including The Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Tchernaya River.

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John Murdaugh, commanding the French 3rd Division and the British 3rd Division, considers the battlefield. The troops that we used were part of Jay Stribling’s 15mm Crimean War army, placed on enlarged versions of the board game counters.
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Some of the Russian defenders, under the command of Prince Menshikov (Jay Stribling) await the allied onslaught. Because of the difficulties that the allies had with the crossing of the Alma river, the French army was unable to cross for the first two turns of the game. This is a carry-over from the board game rules.

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The French army, lead by Zouave regiments has finally gotten itself in gear and has crossed the river. The French 1st, 2nd and 4th divisions were commanded by Phil Young.

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The Russian defenders await the French onslaught. Jay Stribling commanded the Russians on the left and Ed Sansing commanded the Czar’s troops on the right side of the battlefield.

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Telegraph hill (named for an incomplete semaphore telegraph tower that was on it) has been occupied by British and French in this image, take about half-way through the game. The British battalions consist of two infantry bases on a “stand” with a pinkish label containing movement, morale, and combat information, taken from the boardgame. The French battalions have blue labels. Note the red rings on two of the British units, showing that they are disrupted, halving their fire and melee factors.

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On the Russian right, the first of two defensive works the great redoubt has been overrun by the British after a prolonged defense. General Sansing attempted to recapture the work, alas to no avail. The British and French units had a much greater fire effect than the Russian battalions, but the Russians had a higher hand-to-hand combat value.

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The village of Bourliuk which was stuffed with straw and set ablaze by the Russians in an attempt to deny the allies shelter and to slow their passage of the river Alma.

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Another view of the French battalions on their extreme right, attempting to turn the Russian left. By this time, the Russians were withdrawing slowly with occasional bayonet counter-attacks. The Russian army’s morale that grown shaky with units being lost, and every turn, to avoid a loss of victory points, they had to withdraw to battalions off the table edge to the rear.

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On the Russian right, the lesser redoubt has also fallen to the British, under the command of Sean Pitts. The surviving Russian defenders have retreated out of the image of the camera.

So, who won this battle? It was closer than it seemed at the time. The Allies destroyed 8 Russian units, while losing 7 of their own. The Russians still had their road-exit to the rear, but had lost one Victory point on turn 7 for not being in a position to withdraw two battalions as their army morale broke. So, the Allies had 8 victory points, and the Russians had 7. An allied victory! The war would continue, with thousands upon thousands of soldiers dying, mainly of disease.

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Here is a photo of the boardgame that Jay Stribling stole (was inspired by) the game mechandisms, map and order of battle.
Actually the allies should have had 10 more units, but we did not have enough infantry stands to create them – not that they needed them.

The Little-Known Battle

Did you know that there was a small invasion of Britain in 1941 by elements of the German Army and Air Force? Well neither did the Jackson Gamers till I ran this game on December 5, 2014. The Germans fielded five units (7-9 figures each) of Fallshirmjaegers and two units of infantry. There were also supporting units such as an 81mm. mortar and two tripod mounted machine guns.

Jay Stribling (your humble correspondent) set up the game, at his home, and wrote the rules, which are an unpublished variant for Larry Brom’s The Sword and the Flame colonial rules. We call this variant Right in your face! after the old Spike Jones song.

The troops are 28mm figures from a variety of makers. They are owned and painted by Jim Pitts, Mark Stevens and Jay Stribling.

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This shows part of Phil Young’s command, German Paratroopers, behind a hedge while the British home guard under the command of Larry Cole rush the same hedge. Unfortunately Phil was able to fire before Larry (first fire card drawn was a German one) and cut down many of these sturdy older soldiers.

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A long view from the North side of the table showing the bloody slaughter of the home guards (under Larry Cole’s command) by the German Fallshirmjaeger led by Phil Young. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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This shows “The Machine Shop” after Jim Pitts had moved British Infantry into it. The British had eight units similar in size to the German ones. Three were home guard, two were infantry, and three were pararoopers. There were also supporting weapons such as two 3-inch morars and two heavy machine guns.

The machine shop and the area around it, full of scrap metal and junk gave excellent cover. The open space just to the south of it looked like it would be a killing zone to both sides so Jim did not progress beyond the machine shop and his opponent in this area, Russ Schneider did not advance into it either.

The young lady on the bicycle is a “non-player character” that various gamers moved around the game table at their whim. She was apparently unaffected by the whizzing bullets as she cycled about! The figure is one of a set made by the Foundry some time past. We used a number of these in the game. They are owned by Mark Stevens and were painted years ago by the late Andrew Doyle.

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Jim Pitts (left) and Larry Cole (right) discuss important matters, such as why Larry’ forces, all home guard, were getting shot to pieces by the German paratroopers.

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This image shows “The House” and the tiled roof of “The Villa”. The German paratroopers behind the wall were part of Russ Schneider’s command and they traded long distance fire with Jim Pitts” British infantry across the way in “The Foundry”.

Each structure on the game table was a possible source of victory points, but the players did not know what the “value” of each one was. Here is the game-master’s list:

  • “The Bridge” is a lovely ancient thing, but it is not worth any victory points.
  • “The Barn” hides a group of Luftwaffe aircrew, with weapons. They were shot down days ago and are spoiling for a fight. They can be added to the German order of battle. Occupation of the structure itself gives no victory points.
  • “The Machine Shop” has been making prototypes of new Wonder-weapons. (If any of them work it will be a wonder!) Occupation of the Machine shop is worth 15 victory points.
  • “The Ruined Church” has valuable documents hidden in the crypt. Occupation is worth 5 victory points.
  • “The Villa” contains the Mistress of Major-General Bumpf, her little doggie Fritz, and the General’s papers. Occupation of the Villa is worth 10 victory points.
  • “The House” has been used to billet technicians. Occupation of the house is worth 5 victory points.
  • “The Apartment Building” has been used to billet troops. Various papers, possibly useful to military intelligence are there. It is worth 5 victory points.
  • “The Tower” contains refugee nuns of the Order of The little sisters of 7.9mm. Mauser. They are armed and will fire on the first side to try to enter the tower. The tower itself contains weapons and ammunition and is worth 10 points.
  • In addition, each dead or wounded enemy soldier is worth 1 victory point.

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This shows the area around “The Machine Shop” occupied by British Infantry. From here they shot at long range at the Germans occupying the courtyard around “The House” and “The Villa” and received fire from their opponents. There was little effect on either side.

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“The Ruined Church” has been occupied by a party of the home guard under Larry Cole. The vicar who appeared to them there is probably a ghostly presence, but that did not matter to Larry’s men!

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The pig sty of “the Keep” occupied by Alec Kirk’s paratroopers. Apparently the armed Nuns in “The Keep” did not care if men occupied the pig pen. Alec’s men fired at and were fired upon by German Paratroopers under the command of Sean Pitts. There were a number of casualties on both sides from this fire.

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These are the positions occupied by Sean Pitts’ German paratroopers firing at Alex across the way. “The Barn” can be seen in the background. Sean did not occupy “the Barn” so it’s German Luftwaffe occupants did not emerge to join the fight.

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Alex in a pensive mood. This is after the armed nuns had rebuffed his attempted entry into the “tower”. These were the “Little sisters of 7.9mm. Mauser” and as an armed sisterhood, would fire on any group of males attempting to enter the structure. When the leader of the unit was wounded, Alex withdrew, never testing the close combat ability of the armed women.

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This photo by Jim Pitts is a better view of Alex’s British Paras and their German Opponents. Again, “The Barn” is in the background.

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Sean has moved German Paratroopers around to the west, in a successful attempt to outflank part of Alex’s Paras. Alex responded by rushing forward to close the range. He suffered from the crossfire of the two units of Fallshirmjaegers but he also inflicted substantial casualties on the flanking force. Photo by Jim Pitts.

The figures shown lying down are wounded. The figure with the yellow ring is a leader. Figures with red rings are “pinned”.

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Here is one last photo of “The Machine Shop” taken by Jim Pitts, showing his forces in occupation. In the background, Jim has a 3-inch mortar in operation. Note that the female cyclist is heading for a (hopefully) quiet patch of woods.

So, who won this game? After totaling up the points for occupation of various structures and those for killed and wounded enemy troops, each side ended up with 27 points! A draw was declared and we watched part of Ian McKellen’s Richard III and had hot dogs and chips for lunch, suitably polished off by a fine cake, baked by Larry Cole.

A Battle in Darkland

The armies that we used for this Medieval battle are those belonging to Jay Stribling – your esteemed correspondent. They are divided into an army for each of two fictional kingdoms, Circumference (the rounds) and Parallelogram (the Squares). The figures are individually mounted, a holdover from the days when we (Jay Stribling, Erice Teuber and Robert Whitfield) first began to raise these forces. That was back in 1985 or so.

Additionally Jim Pitts has some medieval/fantasy forces that “slot into” the larger armies of Square and Round. Jim’s forces form the basis for a third Kingdom that can ally itself to either side.

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For this battle – games on November 15, 2014, our scenario was as follows: The Dark Family has refused to let tax collectors from Circumference into their land. They reside in a fortified tower (seen above) in Darkland on the border of Parallelogram. The King of Circumference has sent forces to besiege the Dark Tower. The King of Parallelogram, while having no love for the Dark Family will do anything to irritate Circumference. So, the forces of round and square meet at the Dark family’s home, the Dark Tower.

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At the set up, the ruined abbey, part of the defenses of the Dark tower, were occupied by the two units of Dwarf-knights. This view from the west was taken by Jim Pitts.

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The above photo shows knights of the Parallelogram army riding to meet the forces of Circumference on the east side of the Dark Tower, seen in the background. All photos not specifically credited to Jim Pitts are by Jay Stribling.

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These are the reserve knights of Parallelogram, moving west and about to cross the stream at the marked ford where it could be crossed without penalty. The stream was fordable with a movement penalty anywhere else. The river, seen in the background, could not be crossed except at three marked fords, with a movement penalty even at the fords.

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This is the advance guard of the army of Circumference. These Knights and Mounted Yeomen have begun the battle on the southern side of the river and formed the right flank (west flank) of the Round army.

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The Reserve of Circumference rides out of their camp to cross the river and reinforce the advance guard, on the western flank. The figures are by Essex except for their leader (in Gilt armour) who is a very old Minifig.

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Two units of peasants occupy a cornfield guarding the river crossing to the east of the tower. These sturdy lads (and some old geezers too!) are part of the army of Circumference, which elected to try to defeat the oncoming Parallelogram army on the southern side of the river – the Dark tower was under siege by Parallelogram just to the north of the river. In the rules that we use for our medieval battles – Rules by Ral circa 1985 – only peasants can occupy wooded or rough terrain such as the cornfield.

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A unit of foot knights of Parallelogram defend the eastern end of the works around the Dark Tower. These are not real castle walls and represent small defenses to keep wandering cattle penned up and hasty works erected by the Dark family when the King of Circumference’s ire at them became known.

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Another view of the defended perimeter of the Dark tower. The archers on the roof were given double range (it’s a pretty tall tower guys!) and would have been virtually immune to shooting from below. They would have been less well able to defend the tower if enemy melee troops had reached the entrance (on the side facing the river) but that never happened.

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This view, looking north shows the defenses of the Dark tower from the rear or river side. Note the Dark ogre occupying one of the ruined outbuildings. Placed there by Jim Pitts, without the sanction of the game-master (!) no one attempted to defend or attack that particular ruin. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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Knights and archers of Circumference move between the cornfield (on their right) and “Haunted Hill” on their left, about to melee with the leading knights of Parallelogram. One of the peasant units has already been forced from the cornfield because of bowfire casualties.

Units in the army of Circumference have round labels on their bases, with letter codes for knightly units and numbers for yeomen or peasant units. Units in the army of Parallelogram have (you guessed it!) square labels.

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On the extreme right flank of Circumference, to the east of “Haunted Hill” Knights from both sides meet at lance-point, while a round archery unit (old Ral Partha figures) fire at a barely visible square unit. “Haunted Hill” was the name that I gave to this hill, with the warning that “If you try to go onto haunted hill, a bad thing may happen”. In reality, I had no mechanism in place for “Bad things” in this game. My reputation as a game-master for allowing “Bad things” to happen in previous games was enough to keep both sides off the hill for most of the game.

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A view from the roof of the Dark tower, showing the attackers and defenders. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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The household troops of the Dark family (as opposed to the Parallelogram forces aiding their defense) were represented by two 12-figure units of Dwarves from the army of Jim Pitts. We classified them as foot knights (very tough) for this game and they performed well, till caught in the flank/rear by the mounted guard of Circumference.

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The mounted guard of Circumference have turned away from the river ford, and from their mission to aid the round advance guard forces on the southern side of the river, to help defeat the dwarf knights of Darkland who sortied out from the defenses to drive off an attacking round unit.

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One of the defending units has broken and is falling back from the wall. The head of the Dark Family – Baron Occluded
(the Dark Lord) is shown, mounted, to the right of the image.

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Lord Oval, commander of the main body of Circumference pushes more forces into the melee on the left, between the cornfield and “Haunted hill”. Note that all of the round peasant units have been forced from the cornfield. Without cover of some time, peasants are not too effective in our games.

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A slightly fuzzy image of the battle on the eastern end of the Dark tower’s defenses. The defending unit has been reduce to only seven men, while the attacking unit is almost fresh. All of our foot units start with 12 figures and take a substantial morale penalty when reduced to half strength. The mounted units have 9 figures at the start and must be reduced to only 4 survivors before they lose a morale step.

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The dwarf-knights who sortied from the ruined abbey (part of the defenses of the Dark tower) are fighting back to back against the mounted guard of Circumference (the knights to the rear of the image) and yeomen and foot knights to their front. The leader of the dwarf-knights (in red, with pointy hat) gestures imperiously, but the grim look on his face shows that he wishes they had never come over the wall.

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Sean Pitts (in center) and his father Jim Pitts (on right) commanded the main army of Parallelogram in this battle. They are shown adjusting forces and removing casualties from the struggle between the cornfield and “Haunted hill”. Jay Stribling commanded the detached forces of Parallelogram assisting in the defense of the Dark tower.

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Another view of the scrum between the cornfield and “Haunted hill”. Sean Pitts has moved archers onto “Haunted hill”. Every time one of his units fell back from the melee, the archers would fire, inflicting casualties on the forces of Circumference and then Sean would charge back into the melee with a fresh unit. These tactics, combined with the fact that a large amount of the round army was attempting to storm the Dark tower, led to the army of Circumference conceding the day and raising the siege.

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A view from the southern table edge as Sean Pitt’s Parallelogram forces win the battle between the cornfield and “Haunted hill”. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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Jim Pitts (on left) points out another casualty while Ed Sansing (center) reaches to remove it. Russ Schnieder (on right) watches intently to make certain that Jim is not inflating the casualty count. Ed and Russ commanded the forces of Circumference in this battle.

Note the figures on the right, beyond the tented camp. This is the graveyard. One advantage of individually mounted troops is that no casualty rings are necessary, one just removes the little men. As Russ might be saying “They’re dead Jim!”

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A rare view from the West, looking toward the Dark Tower. Jim Pitt’s forces, in the foreground, are moving to the left, against the round troops under Ed Sansing. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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A similar view a bit later in the game. Jim’s forces are driving Ed back. This photo is also by Jim Pitts.

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Lord Quadro, leader of the Parallelogram Advance guard fights with his men on the extreme right flank of the square forces. He is pushing them back towards the eastern battlefield edge, watched by the Circumference commander, Russ Schneider (in checked shirt). This is late in the game, when Sean Pitts commanding the Circumference forces in this area had won superiority over Parallelogram. Photo by Jim Pitts.

We played about (I can not remember) four turns in this game from 10:00am to about 12:45pm. At that point, the King of Circumference had enough. He whined a bit about not having enough superiority of forces to carry the tower. The game-master (who had, it must be admitted, fought on the Parallelogram side) whined back that there was no need to even assault the tower, that the victory conditions were to kill the enemy, and that the possession of the tower only counted as two dead enemy unit…

After lunch, supplied by Ed Sansing, we played a very fun board game of Risk – Godstorm using our own BHOF variant. A good time was had by all, especially this writer who won that game by strategy and hot dice!

Chance meeting in Laval

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As Patton’s Third U.S. army was activated in August 1944, it had two missions. One was to move along with the right flank of the First U.S. Army. The other was to occupy Brittany and seize the German-occupied port of Brest. Our game takes place during this race for Brest.

This is a look at the battlefield. The American 4th armored division moves sourthward toward the French town of Laval. Stuart light tanks can be seen on the road. As with all of these photos, click on the picture to see a larger version.

Their mission is to get through Laval, crossing the small river there, and continue charging towards Brest. The Germans, want to get out of this area, and move north-eastward towards the 7th German Army – and eventually towards home!

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Phil Young, one of the American commanders moves his Sherman tanks along the direct road to the town. His infantry in halftracks moves across the fields.

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We played this game in Alex Kirk’s home in Forrest MS. on August 16th 2014. Alex has a special room, suitably elevated above the “regular” part of his home, in which wargamers may indulge in their “little wars.” Alex’s lovely wife not only tolerated this invasion of her home by the Jackson Gamers, but very kindly made a run for provisions, when the gamers began calling for rations.

Alex is shown here in action, moving his U.S. tanks toward Laval. All of the armies and terrain were his, and parts of his formidable library can be seen in the background.

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Another view of the 4th Armored division as it streams south towards Brest. The town of Laval is where it met (n our game) the German 11th Panzer division.

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Two of the German commanders, Sean Pitts (on left) and Jay Stribling (on right) move their panzers and supporting arms up toward Laval. This is a good view of the town of Laval. The small blue stream was unfordable to vehicles, in most locations.

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Sean Pitts thinks hard about his move. The rules were Alex Kirk’s variant of Command Decision, and he proved to be a good teacher, for the Jackson Gamers seemed to understand them quickly.

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Another view of the town, showing what a bottleneck for each side that it was. The Americans got there “fustest with the moistest” as the saying goes, and while they could not advance out of the town, The Germans could not get into it. On the extreme American right, near the edge of the battlefield, a ford was found across the stream, and the Americans got some forces across. There was an obvious attempt to turn the German right, but the forces of Ed Sansing, the other German commander, resisted.

The victory conditions for both sides were to get off the other end of the table, but neither side could get through the town. At the games end, there was a discussion along the lines of “well in another 4 turns, we would have turn the German right…” All wargamers are familiar with these little ego-boosting seminars, but in the end, we called it a draw.

The Shermans lived up to their reputation of being “Ronsons” which would “light up every time” but they and the American Tank Destroyers did considerable execution on the German Mark IV tanks. Most of the German Panther battalion was on the left, and with no way across the stream, and no way into the town, did very little for most of the game. The commander of this force Oberst von Stribling loudly calls attention to the fact that he had almost no losses! The other gamers point to the fact that he almost was never engaged!

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Another view of Laval showing the jam-up of the Germans. On the last several turns, the Germans managed to bring up a “Brummbar” (Grumbling Bear) close support vehicle. It’s thick armor protected it from the Sherman’s 75mm guns, and it’s 150mm howitzer began to chip away at the Americans in the town.

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In the field beyond the town, Phil Young deployed his U.S. infantry. They moved toward the stream but had not attempted a crossing by the time the game ended. Interestingly, Alex Kirk mentioned after the game that there was a hidden ford near the table edge on the German left flank (the American right flank) but neither Stribling’s Germans, nor Young’s American troops made any effort to search for a ford.

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The center of the German side of the field, showing forces under the command of Ed Sansing. Note that these are light forces. The American troops and vehicles under Alex Kirk’s command that forced the crossing on the German right, could have menaced these Germans, in another turn or two. They would have entered this scene from the extreme left near the troop box sitting on the battlefield.

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Another close view of the town of Laval. More pressure, more carnage, and even less ways to get through the mess! The way to win this game, obviously, was to flank the entire thing to the left or right, but only Alex managed to do that.

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German Order of battle: 11th Panzer Division (advance elements)
Panzer Aufklärungs Abtelung 11 (Pz Recon Bn)
110th Panzer Grenader Regt Command group
Abtelung 1 (Gepanzer)/110th Panzer Grenader Regt
Abtelung 2/15th Panzer Regt.
Abtelung 1/119th Pz Arty Regt.

American Order of battle: CCB 4th Armored Division
8th Tank Bn
27th Armored Infantry Bn
35th Armored Infantry Bn
B/24th Armored Engineer Bn
C/704th TD Bn
66th Armored Field Artillery Bn.

This was the christening battle for Alex’s game room. All the Jackson Gamers that were able to make the trip agreed that a great time was had by all!

Safeguarding the supplies

British Players

On Saturday August 2nd 2014, the Jackson Gamers played a 20mm game set in German East Africa during the Great War. The British forces were advancing to seize supplies in three villages. The Germans needed to stop them.

Jay Stribling created the scenario and was the “Gamemaster”. All the photos shown are by him unless otherwise credited.

The British players shown are Ed Sansing (standing) and Russel Schnieder (in Day-Glo shirt!) A third British player, Phil Young, is out of the image to the right.

The German Players

The German players are Sean Pitts (left) and Jim Pitts (right). They await the British onslaught with seeming insouciance.

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British forces advance towards the German occupied area. All German forces began the game hidden, while the British troops had to march on from the table edge. The British were given the option to send up to two platoons (20 men each) and two machine guns on a flanking march to either the left or right, arriving on the appropriate table edge at the start of the third turn, but they decided not to risk it.

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This shows the central village where German bearers are assembling the supplies for removal to the rear. A thorn bush zariba encloses part of the village.

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The third “village” is actually a German radio station, worth 15 victory points. The British did not know this, but the village was visibly different from the other two with no groups of bearers and the mast of the radio station was visible to the British if they bothered to look.

The 15-point value of this radio station eventually won the game for the Germans.

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The “long ridge” on the British right (German left) was occupied by Herr J. Pitts’ infantry and he used it to some effect against Ed Sansing’s British troops. Eventually Ed flanked this position and drove Jim Pitts off the ridge, enabling the British forces to see the “first village.’ By that time, the bearers were departing with the supplies that had been stored there.

Note that while your humble correspondent refers to the opposing forces as “British” or “German” almost all of the miniature soldiers represent African troops in service to the Kaiser or the King-Emperor George V.

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“Machine gun hill” was a small knob near the second (central) village. Sean Pitts garrisoned it with two water cooled machine guns. A careful look at the side of the hill reveals the webs of giant (!) African (?) spiders.

These machine guns were curiously ineffective and a close inspection of the photograph reveals the reason. One was set up facing the wrong way!

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South African troops move to support the assault on “machine gun” hill. The officers in the background wearing the yellow rings are the overall British command party.

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This is an overall view of machine gun” hill. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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The Kings African Rifles lead the assault on “machine gun hill”. These troops suffered terribly in the assault and the lead unit was wrecked. Maddeningly for the British, the Germans are allowed to re-crew machine guns with drafted infantrymen, but British machine guns which suffer heavy crew losses are out of action for the game.

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Ed Sansing is rolling fire dice as he attempts to drive the German troops off the long ridge.

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A view of the British command in action, viewed from the German lines, with Russ Schneider (on left) and with Phil Young both watching closely as Sean Pitts adjusts the extreme right-flank German unit. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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The assault on “machine gun hill”. While the feverish rolling of the dice by Sean Pitts and Russ Schneider is just off-camera, you can see a few men have been wounded already. In “close combats” using The Sword and the Flame rules, pairs of figures are matched against each other and a D6 is rolled. The high die wins the combat between that pair and the losing die roll decides the fate of the losing figure. If the losing D6 roll is “1” then the figure is killed, if a “2” then he is wounded, and if 3 or more, he falls back out of the fight, to join his unit at the end of the melee.

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Another British unit moves forward to assault the “Wireless Station hill.” We are looking over the shoulders of the German unit on the extreme right of their line – and the extreme edge of the battlefield. Your correspondent has a game table eight feet long and five feet wide. Many is the time that I have wished for another foot or two in one or the other direction, but if the table was larger, there would be no room for gamers around it!

“Wireless Station hill” was a very strong position containing an infantry unit and a machine gun section behind a thorn bush hedge. It was not seriously threatened by the one attacking unit.

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A brightly backlit image shows that Ed Sansing’s troops have cleared the Germans off the “long ridge” and are advancing, pushing the German askari troops before them. The men who look like they have lampshades on their heads are a British unit from the Gold Coast. They wore strangely shaped pith helmets.

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A column of native bearers moves supplies out of the central village. Three native riflemen provide a meager escort, but the defending German troops (in background) never allowed the British to come near them.

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A similar column of bearers moves out of the other village. Jim Pitts has a few infantrymen as a rear guard. The Gold Coast troops can be seen in the background descending the long ridge. Note the crocodile in the stream in the right foreground. Neither player attempted to ford the stream but the game-master would have had the crocodiles pounce on them if they had!

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We played four turns in about three hours. We did not push the game, and gossiped and joked during it, so we possibly could have played one or two more turns. However, it was clear that the Game-master had seriously underestimated the time required for the British players to reach the villages in the center of the gaming area, and that the German Players had conducted an effective defense. They used firepower and defendsible positions to delay Ed Sandsing’s advance on the British right flank and to stonewall the other British players – Russ Schneider and Phil Young – in the British center and left.

The Germans had six units of infantry and three sections (2 guns per section) of machine guns. The British had eight units of infantry and two sections of machine guns. Neither side had any artillery. If we play this scenario again either the German defenders must be reduced in strength or the British attackers must have more power.

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The above is a photo of the British left flank and in the distance much of the game table. The assault on “wireless hill” is in progress. Photo by Jim Pitts.

Comments by one of the players:

Three comments from the senior German commander, Major Yakov von Pitzfeld, Baron Potzdorf (Jim Pitts).

1. I deliberately gave up the “long ridge” as soon as the bearers had left the smaller village with the supplies and slowly withdrew in front of the Anglanders to delay their advance.

2. “Machinegun Hill” was also under my command. The ineffective Anglander assault on it was repulsed due to the heroic efforts of the machinegun section commander, Oberfeldwebel Puttkammer. He will be awarded the Eisenkreuz, Erste Klasse for his gallant defense.

3. My son, Rittmeister Johannes Pitzfeld, defending Radio Hill staunchly, easily defeating the uninspired leadership Anglander leadership.

All joking aside, it was a good test of both the “new” rules (a new variant of “The Sword and the Flame”) and of the scenario. – Jim Pitts

The Champion Hill Battle

We played this game at Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson MS. on April 6, 2013. This was a large battle, a kind-of recreation of the American Civil War battle of Champion Hill, which was fought on May 16, 1863. In the real battle, General Grant overwhelmed the forces of CSA General Joseph Pemberton and sent the rebel army retreating into Vicksburg where it surrendered on July 4, 1863 after a siege. Ours was a 25mm game using our 30+ year old armies composed mainly of Minifigs, Hinchliffe and Custom Cast figures. For variety a few Garrison and RAFM miniatures along with several brigades of young whippersnapper Old Glory troops also march in our armies.

The Gamemaster for the game was Jay Stribling. The photos are by Jim Pitts. The rules used were a variant of Larry Brom’s A Glint of Bayonets.

During the Game Set-up

The above photo shows the set-up with about half of the Confederate forces on the field. The Champion hill is shown. The lower tiers of the hill were wooded and the crown was clear.

Another Set-up Image


Another view, similar to the above, during the game set-up. Again, the central hill is shown. Note the wooden ruler at the rear of the hill. This simulates the Confederate line of retreat, which was a Union objective during the game.

A Union Brigade Is Deployed

This shows the size of an “average” brigade in this game. Each regiment has six 4-man stands (24 men total) and this 3-regiment brigade thusly has 72 infantry figures plus a mounted Brigdier general.

View From The Confederate Rear


This shows more of the Union Army being set up. The order of deployment was, half of the Confederate brigades were set up first, then half of the Federal army’s brigades, then the remainder of the Rebel troops (less two brigades kept off the table) and lastly the rest of the Union brigades (with two brigades similarly held off as reserves).

The Confederate Right


This shows the regiment on the extreme Confederate right flank. This unit, composed of “veteran” Custom Cast figures, is owned by Jim Pitts.

A Mass Of Union Troops

This shows the right half of the Union army, deployed, possibly at the end of the first game turn. Jay Ainsworth is shown at the end of the game table. Partially shown are Sean Pitts and Fred Diamond (on extreme right of image).

Martha Stevens Adjusting Troops


The Confederate Players were: Phil Young (Extreme right flank) Bill Hamilton (Center-right) John Murdaugh (C-in-C, Center) Martha Stevens (center-left) and Jay Ainsworth (extreme left flank)


The Union Players were: Sean Pitts (Extreme right flank) Mark Stevens (C-in-C, Center-right) Fred Diamond (Center) Jim Pitts (Center-left) and Jay Stribling (Extreme Left flank).

The Confident Confederate General


Bill Hamilton, his forces deployed in line on the central hill, confidently awaits the Federal horde. Bill’s troops defended the hill well, till the last turn when he swept down off it to advance against the withered forces of Jim Pitts.

The Federal Advance


Union general Jim Pitts’ first brigade has it’s regiments in line, advancing against the rebels on the Champion hill. Note that the regiment closest to the camera has already lost two of it’s six stands. Rebel Generals shown in the background are, John Murdaugh (in his red battle-shirt), Martha Stevens, and Jay Ainsworth.

At The Double-Quick Boys!


With national and regimental flags flying, the first Union reserve brigade (I believe) advances in columns behind the front, trying to gain position to deploy into firing line.

The Union Left Advances Into The Killing Ground


This shows Jay Stribling’s command on the Extreme Federal left flank, advancing against Phil Young’s Confederates. Note the Palmetto flags of the defending brigade, indicating that they are South Carolinians. The figures in the foreground are Old Glory miniatures, painted and owned by Jay Ainsworth.

The Green ring on the flag closest to the camera indicates that the regiment has a morale point of 2. The gold ring on the regiment in the center of the image shows a morale point of 4 – much superior. By the end of the sixth turn of the game (the last turn) all the regiments shown here had been blown away by the Rebel sharpshooters. Only a 4-stand rump of one regiment and the red-shirted battery (partially seen behind the trees) remained on the Federal left flank.

Forward The Seventh Michigan!


The brave 7th Michigan regiment gets onto the hill, driving off the first line of Confederat defenders. Will they be able to take the guns on the crest? Ahh- No. Too many rebel defenders and too much cannister fire, drove them back, tattered and bleeding.

The High Water Mark


From the same brigade, the 20th Massachusetts infantry gets onto the hill amd attempts to seize the crest. Alas, they also were pushed back.

The Federal Advance On the Right


Toward the end of the game, the remaining mass of the Union army moves forward on the Federal right flank. Martha Stevens would be hard pressed to hold the connecting line between the hill and Jay Ainsworth’s troops on the Extreme Confederal left. But while this looks promising for General Grant, on his left flank, Generals Stribling and Pitts were being flayed by superior numbers and massive concentrations of Confederate artillery on the crest of Champion hill.

The Empty Field


At the end of the fifth turn, this shows the portion of the battlefield that had been filled by the troops of Jim Pitts’ command at the beginning of the battle. Note that Bill Hamilton has moved his first unit of Rebel infantry off the hill and is advancing against Jim’s left, severing the commands of Jim from that of Jay Stribling on the Federal extreme left.

The Massive Union Right – 1

The Massive Union Right – 2

The two images above show the mass of the Union army concentrated on it’s right. The time is at the game’s ending. The Federals are threatening the Champion hill and all of the Confederate forces to the north of the hill. In the real battle, this force broke the Confederates and sent them streaming to the rear. However, unlike our game, in the real struggle, the Union left was still intact. Not so here!

Travis Melton is shown in a yellow shirt. Travis arrived late and took over the command of Jay Ainsworth who had to leave the game, but returned in time to witness the ending.

So, what did we learn from this game? Our fast-play version of Larry Brom’s rules seemed to work well. The game-master, Jay Stribling, tried to keep the game moving and generally succeeded. In a three hour period (excluding set-up time and our lunch break) we played six turns. Not bad for 11 players and 2000+ miniatures in the game. A good time seemed to be had by all, which is normal for the Jackson Gamers.

We plan to put this game on again at Bayou Wars in Metaire LA in June, 2013. We hope to see you there!

Sword and Secession – Play Test

We played this game at Jay Stribling’s home in Jackson MS. on September 15, 2012. It was a 25mm Semi-Skirmish game set on the Florida Coast, near the small town of Cedar Key. The rules were a second play-test of The Sword and Secession a variant for Larry Brom’s The Sword and the Flame rules set.

A number of years ago, Mark Stevens and Jay Stribling, on a trip to Tampa Florida, took a side jaunte to the charming little town of Cedar Key on Florida’s coast. While we were there, we visited the local museum, which had information about a Federal Raid during the Civil War, the purpose of which was to destroy a salt producing works. This secnario is the result of that visit.

The Gamemaster for the game was Jay Stribling. The photos and their captions are by Jim Pitts.


Union Marine raiders encounter Confederate militia


Union Marine raiders advance against the Confederate militia defending the salt works. We used a mixture of Union Infantry and some dismounted cavalry from our “Plains Indian Wars” forces, to portray the Federal raiders.


Confederate militia cavalry rides to the succor of the salt works defenders.


Confederate militia cavalry rides to the relief of the defenders. And yes, there are two dark faces among the militia cavalry, either free blacks or armed servants. We made use of gray-clad mounted figures from a number of armies, including irregular horse from the Zulu Wars!

Union Marine raiders advance against Confederate militia defenders of the salt works.


Federal Marines, landed just up the coast, encounter Confederate militia defending one of the outlying buildings of the salt works. In the misty background, another unit of Union raiders is moving onto the battlefield.


Unfortunately the Federal navy was unequal to the task of landing the troops together, right at the town. Apparently they had been confused by strong winds and currents and the boats scattered the landing party up and down the coast. For each unit which arrived at the battlefield, the Union commander had to dice to see where it entered the game table. The navy’s boats were also only able to land two units per turn.

The salt works are under attack from two Union units, one of US Marines (first rank) and the second of sailors


The salt works in the center of the field were threatend by two Union units uner the command of Ed Sansing – shown above. One unit was composed of US Marines (first rank) and the second of sailors (being played, for this game, by British Victorian naval brigade figures). After suffering from the volleys of the two Union units, the Confederate militia defenders morale failed and they fled from the field.

Confederate militia attack the Union Marines. The Southerners failed to close and fell back into the woods.


Bill Hamilton’s Confederate militia charge out of the woods to attack the Union Marine raiders. They would fail their “To close” morale test and fall back into the woods again.

Another unit of Confederate militia, having arrived as reinforcements, exchanges fire with some of the Union Marine raiders.


Another unit of Confederate militia, having arrived as reinforcements, exchanges fire with some of the Union Marine raiders. All of the Confedrate reinforcements (2 milita units were allowed to start on the field) had to come up the road, entring from the exreme Confederate right rear. While the Rebel units were twice the number of the Yankees, they dribbled onto the battlefield.

After advancing closer, the Confederate and Union units trade another volley.


After advancing closer, the Confederate and Union units trade another volley. This time the Confederate attack is supported by a unit of dismounted militia cavalry (right background).


In The Sword and the Flame as well as this variant, 20-sided dice are rolled, one per firing miniature, to determine fire casualties. The brightly colored dice are being pointed to by one of the players: “That’s a hit! – No, you are not reading the dice properly….”

Regular confederate infantry advances to recover the salt works from the Union occupiers.


The single unit of regular confederate infantry advances to recover the salt works from the Union occupiers. They are also supported by a unit of dismounted militia cavalry (left background). Between the two Confederate units, they were able to reduce the Union raider’s strength significantly enough that the Union troops could not complete their destruction of the salt works.


Confederate Player Briefing


The blasted Yankees are landing on the coast to destroy the salt works at Cedar Key. You must stop them. Your forces are four militia cavalry units, two militia infantry units and one unit of regulars that happened to be in the area.

Only two of the militia units may be set up on the battlefield, anywhere that you like. The other units must come on from the edge of the table on the road. You may roll a D6 at the start of each turn. If you get a “1” then you receive no reinforcements. If you get “2 – 5” then one reinforcing unit may come on. If you get a “6” then two reinforcing units may come on, again, on the road.

There are three buildings on the table, all part of the salt works. You must safeguard them all. The enemy will try to destroy them. It will take more than one turn of work, as the vessels in which the salt is rendered are quite sturdy.


And the Winner is…

The result of the game was that the Yankees were too hard-pressed by the constant flow of Southern Militia units to destroy the buildings housing the salt works. Their requirements of “Three turns work by ten men” (unkown to the southern defenders) was too much for the Federals. In the future, the salt works will be more lightly constructed!

Cobra

Air power leads the way

On Saturday July 7, 2012 the Jackson Gamers played a 15mm WWII game at Jay Stribling’s home in Jackson MS. For rules, we used our variant of the Memoir 44 boardgame rules which we tenatively call “Memoir 45.”

The Blasted and Bombed battlefield

Two stands of infantry replace the four figures of the boardgame to designate an Infantry unit – with a marker behind it showing 4 strength points. One 15mm model tank represents an Armor unit – with a marker to its rear indicating 3 strength points for Mk IV tanks or Sturmgeshutz vehicles. And lastly the Memoir 44 game’s artillery units are replaced by two bases with 81mm mortars – the marker to the rear showing 4 strength points.

American players: Jim Pitts (on left) and Bill Hamilton (on right)

The German players were Jay Stribling and Phil Young. Each of us had an infantry battalion with two tanks. Two more companies of infantry and six tanks came on as reinforcements.

The American commanders were Sean Pitts (on the right flank), Jim Pitts (Overall commander – in center) and Bill Hamilton (left Flank).

Another view of the Battlefield

The battle is just beginning with American tanks and infantry visible at the top in the distance. The chaos, fires, and destroyed units are the results of the American aerial bombardment on July 25, 1944. After the attack, General Collins attacked with his VII Corps and within 2 days had broken through the German lines.

A German Flak 88 knocked out by the air attack

You can see American artillery fire impacting on German units in the background. We have a “move deck” of cards for each player to use for his units, an “Artillery deck” to control off-board artillery arrival and a “Special deck” to generate odd occurances – such as “friendly fire” artillery hitting one’s own troops.

An American P-47 fighter swoops down to strafe German infantry

The allied fighters were the bane of the German players. Every turn seemed to bring another of the loathsome “Jabos” (Fighter-bombers) to bomb, rocket or strafe us. And where was the Luftwaffe? We still know nothing of them!

Knocked out German tank and cowering mortar squad.

The American artillery and air power blasted every German that they saw. The Germans seemed to get mainly “No Guns Available” cards for thier off-table artillery fire. The Americans got a few of those also, but mainly they were able to get fire missions when they needed them.

Another P-47 attack

This fighter roars down a line of German platoons attempting to damage them all. While this attack may not have been totally successful, the American Air was terriby bothersome to the “pleace-loving” German army.

An American Flamethrower tank in action

As if conventional weaponry was not enough, the Americans had two flame-thrower tanks. They employed one to evil effect, but several turns later, a German Panther destroyed it. The other flame tank was still waiting for the German armor concentration in the center of the battlefield to be reduced when the game ended.

German artillery impact on their own troops

One of the “Special deck” cards for each side is one entitled “Enemy Fire Targeting Error!” This allows the player who would normally be on the receiving end of the off-board artillery fire to relocate the impact point to any spot within six hexes. There are only 2 or 3 of these cards per deck and both sides triumphantly made the other side “eat” some of their own shells.

A view of Hell!

Toward the end of the game, the center of the battlefield became a cratered burning mass of knocked out tanks, and dead German infantry. All of our Mortars were destroyed, all of the infantry and tanks on the left had been knocked out, and only two Panthers (damaged) and a Tiger held the center. The American numbers and fire-power had told, as the game-master had known that they would.

The angel of death in the form on the olive-drab P-47 can be seen on the left, busily harvesting souls.

The center holds - barely

This is another view of the destruction in the center. The three German tanks shown are the only Axis forces on the left and center of the field. Phil Young, commanding the German right flank still had one platoon of infantry and a Mark IV tank, but he was too weak to come to the assistance of the center.

The Collapse of the German Left

Jim Pitts tanks are nearing their objective – to exit the battlefield into the German rear in this photo. Sean Pitts American right-flank infantry was held up only by the rough terrain and the constraints of the movment cards.

While technically the Americans had not met their victory conditions – to exit forces into the German rear – they were about to and we ended the game at about 2:15 pm. The German players could feel good about thier resistance and the casualties that they had infliced on the Americans. The Americans could relish the fact that they had triumphed over a very strong defense.

A good time was had by all!

MORE TO COME ON THIS BATTLE

German Counteroffensive

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