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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Visit to Burnley Wargames Group

Last week I was on the road with work again on a 2 day course down in Blackburn.  As usual I put a call out on a number of forums to see if I could get a game on the evening and was very grateful when Marcus of Burnley Wargames Group responded to my post on the Lead Adventurers Forum and invited me over for a game on the Tuesday night.

Marcus kindly picked me up from my hotel and took me to the Community Centre that the club use, namely Ennismore Centre Ennismore Street Burnley BB10 3EU. They have the venue from 7:30 till late and charge £3 a visit (first visit is free).  Although numbers were a bit light last Tuesday they do have access to 3 rooms and space for several games.

Marcus, Peter and I took on Mark and Martin in a 15mm WW2 game using the latest play test version on Micro-Rules.  Many of you will know the MicroMark Army Lists published by Mark Bevis and I believe that he hopes to publish the rules at some point

The scenario was a clash between British and Italian forces somewhere in the North African desert.  All the kit was early war fielded in historical formations.  I was given the best of the British tanks, A13’s I believe (plus 3 armoured cars) whilst Marcus took a company of Vickers light tanks and Peter the infantry and artillery.  On the opposite side Mark deployed infantry artillery and armoured cars and Martin a company of Italian tanks and yet more armoured cars.

I will attempt to give a commentary of the game – apologies to the guys for the vagueness of my memory and lack of in depth knowledge of all the forces involved (and indeed sheer inaccuracies) – perhaps we can put it down to the fog of war.

The rules seemed pretty straightforward but of course everyone else was very familiar with them which helped a great deal.  Each unit is given a rating which determines its combat effectiveness and morale.  The most obvious part of this is seen in the activation roll.  The appropriate force level rolls against a number needing to get equal or below on 2 D6, The British were generally 9 with the Italians as low as 6.  Activation allows move, shoot or a combination.  A double 1 gives two activations in a row and a double 6 is a blunder.  Having passed activation and completed the activity a subsequent activation can be attempted with one less chance of success with a 9 becoming an 8 and so on until the roll is failed. The opposition have the chance to interrupt activations with opportunity fire.

Both sides static forces were deployed in villages on a road but at distances involved were not visible to each other unless they fired, so armoured cars were sent forward recce.  Almost immediately I threw a double 6 and one of the vehicles broke down with a frantic repair effort not able to get it back in action for the duration of the game.  This was to be a theme of the night with 6 or 7 blunders on our side to 2 or 3 for the axis. 

My tanks ploughed up the extreme right flank taking pot shots at armoured cars and the odd tank came into view.  For most of the game the Italian tanks would either fail activation or make one rather slow move with a hill blocking line of sight between them and the British.  Move distances (and armour penetration etc) are based on actual performance data and those Italians were really very slow – going down to half speed over the hill did not help.

Marcus spread his very fast moving Vickers tanks covering the centre and the left flank making good use of whatever cover was available. The first half of the game was marked mainly by Italian armoured cars brewing up and British tanks throwing tracks (blunders!).   A force of 4 German armoured cars then arrived.  Needing a 10 for first activation, having better guns than the Vickers and being rather fast they were pushed forward in the centre and threatened to overrun the Vickers HQ section.  However hit dice and subsequent penetration rolls were very poor and with all British guns that could bear shooting them up they took casualties and surrendered.  One nice feature of the rules is target priority which generally means that tanks are shot at first, so the slowness of the Italian tanks to arrive made the axis armoured cars particularly vulnerable.

Things then started to hot up on my flank with the Italian tanks getting several activations in a row and pouring forward – my tanks being outnumbered started to be knocked out although not before causing some damage to their opponents.

On the left flank 3 Vickers had been skulking behind a hill fairly close to the enemy held village.  On double 1 activation they took their courage in their hands and, like the cavalrymen that they still were at heart, they charged into the village causing death and destruction to a number of enemy units.  Their luck eventually ran out with only one tank eventually making its escape back down the road.

Each turn we had been making reinforcement rolls and the Italians were overjoyed to get a trio of fighter bombers on with a roll that enabled them to avoid the British flak.  My tanks in the open were a plum target but the Italian’s eyesight let them down and they missed the juiciest targets.  When they finally did see some of the Vickers they then failed to do any damage.

After over 3 hours of play we pulled stumps declaring the result a draw.  After taking early losses the Italians had blunted the British advance and a further fighter sweep had the potential to cause significant damage.  A number of Italian units had routed but when a morale check was taken at the next level up they were able to pass each time.

Some comments from the Axis side

Mark: "They won't activate again they're on a 5" Oh "They won't activate surely on a 4?" Ahem

Martin: I hope he highlights the Brave Italian armour and the cowardly British hiding behind a hill drinking tea until they finally got up courage ( double 1 activation roll) to attack the village

I thoroughly enjoyed myself – thanks to the lads for hosting me and the introduction to a very interesting set of rules.  The temptation to acquire some forces and have a try myself back at the Falkirk club may be too great to resist – probably in 10mm I would think.

My next opportunity for a journey into the unknown may be South Wales early next year – watch this space!