Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ol' Bob's Place AAR

This second Campaign Game Scenario was interesting and over seven plays went to the Russian invaders five times (two solo and five face to face games). So this one is a win to the vaunted Imperial Russian aggressors leaving the running total at one win to each side with five to go in the Campaign.

Dividing the attacking Russians into three smaller units instead of the originally planned two larger ones allows them many options to advance and I think we saw most of these over the seven games. The Colonials big hidden first fire and melee bonus’s in the special rules turned out to be white elephants and it seemed opening fire on the Russians as soon as possible and keeping up a continual fire as they advanced proved to be a more potent defence strategy. Also in this game the difference between well trained and seasoned soldiers facing up to part time raw militiamen reveals itself especially once the combat gets close (and hot!) Only once did the South Australian’s take advantage of the ‘two unit’ set up option and that turned out to be one of their wins. I won’t go into the strategies tried by us in depth as I don’t want to give too much away in case you decide to try this scenario out!

To increase the South Australian’s chances of winning this scenario you could reduce the Russian side by a handful of men and deploy the remaining ones in two units.

Here's how our selected 'historical' game ran...

While the early light of the rising sun slowly illuminated a solitary farm house amongst rolling fields and copses many pairs of eyes squinted and focused in an easterly direction. They were looking directly at the structure, this unobtrusive wooden building is what these men were here to seize!

A high-pitched whistle broke what to the Russians were the strange songs of the even stranger birds and it heralded the beginning of their assault on “Ol’ Bob’s Homestead”. Captain Klebb only knew the farm building as “Structure IV” and he knew it was defended! He had deployed two thirds of his men in line and they were to cross the fallow field directly toward the farm whilst Sergeant Gorlov led the rest of the force on in open formation to the right with the intention of taking the objective from the flank and rear. He also thought this method of attack would split the defensive fire of the Colonial militia. The battle hardened men of the 36th Division roared the name of the Tsar and moved out!

Captain Searcy and his ‘chaps’ were enjoying a fry up and boiling a billy to prepare tea to accompany their breakfast when Rifleman Marsh yelled at the top of his voice, ”Oi Ruskies on their way boys…” everyone stopped what they were doing and jumped into life and sprinted to their pre-planned defensive positions, Captain Searcy placed himself in the middle of the enclosure with the homestead’s owner Bob Menzies beside him, Bob carried his trusted Winchester repeater he had bought while on a trip to Melbourne recently he muttered, “Right in the middle of our bloody breakfast!’ to which Searcy calmly replied, “These Russian fellows have no manners!’ he grinned at the farmer and cocked his revolver!

The professional Russian infantrymen knew their job well and they moved rapidly toward their objective. The defenders peppered them with hot lead and several of their number fell but they ‘soldiered on’ moving quietly forward. Sergeant Gorlov’s section suffered severely from the defenders fire but continued to sweep around the left flank of them.

The South Australian’s aimed, fired and reloaded as quickly as they could manage. They saw several of their foes drop like sacks of wheat from a wagon tray but felt a strange eerie feeling as the silent ranks continued to approach despite the casualties they had taken, the quiet was unnerving but the defenders carried on dealing death from their Martini Henry rifles.

After the Russians crossed the track before the homestead as arranged, a last volley was fired into them by the militiamen and the withdraw toward the homestead began as that is where Searcy planned to have his main defensive position, but in an instant everything changed from order to confusion as the Russians broke ranks a quick sprint saw them over the fence and into the enclosure plus Sergeant Gorlov’s men were upon the South Australians and a melee had broken out on the left!

Searcy and Deakin’s voices roared above the din of battle and as Private Francis Jones a local butcher fell to the hands of a Russian infantryman order seemed to prevail most of the section were in the homestead and four with Menzies had hopped the rear fence as planned to cover the back door. Not quite everyman was safe however, no one knew whether Privates Marsh and Lillee made a conscious decision to be a suicidal rear guard or in the confusion they didn’t hear the calls of Searcy and Deakin but there they stood in the middle of the enclosure surrounded by thirty bloodthirsty Russian warriors!

Captain Klebb was impressed by his men’s stoic advance but was concerned by the losses especially to Sergeant Gorlov’s men. Hell he thought this is war so he pushed that from his mind and ordered his men to close on the Colonials who he believed had broken as they retired from the fence line they were at. Forward the Russians surged and on the right a South Australian fell in hand to hand combat but they came to an abrupt halt, a surreal sight befell them two Redcoats stood staunchly in front of them as if they were invincible. The crack of a Martini Henry, a thud and a cry of anguish from a Russian broke the spell they were under and again they surged after the Redcoats now roaring as they went.

Privates Lillee and Marsh stood like rocks in a sea of green tunics and again and again they parried, they lunged, they fired and forced their Russians assailants back, at one point Private Lillee calmly stood to attention, fixed his bayonet and then continued to fend off the Ruskies! Finally both of these brave men were overcome but they held up forces that Captain Klebb needed desperately at the Homestead!

Sergeant Gorlov’s men meanwhile raced around the rear of the building but were pushed back by Menzies and Private Holt and another two other from his sections gained entry to the building via the southern window only for one to die at the hand of Sergeant Deakin and the other to be pushed back out the window. This was too much for Sergeant Gorlov’s troops they broke and fled toward the apple orchid to the south, their part in the battle was done!

Corporal Orlov’s section cleared the men from the farms eastern fence and arrived at its back door only to have Bob Menzies and Private Holt slam it and bolt it in their faces, the other three Colonials privates allocated to this area were left lying in pools of their own blood!

The main action was at the Homesteads front wall where a door and two windows became the focus of a score of men some in red and some in green The action was fast and furious as the Russians forced themselves into the building only to be pushed straight back out! Captain Klebb roared encouragement to his men while the South Australian’s rallied around Sergeant Deakin who even though wounded, fixed his bayonet and called “Give ‘em hell boys!”.

But the experienced Russian were just too overpowering Captain Searcy knew his men were done so offered to surrender, Klebb wanting to save his own men’s lives (the order to save manpower as reinforcements were not expected set firmly in the back of his mind) graciously accept Searcy’s call and the action was over!

So it was that the four of the five surviving defenders of the homestead became captives, also several other defenders who lay wounded in the enclosure were collected for internment, included amongst these were Privates Lillee and Marsh.

Captain Klebb, after he oversaw the destruction of the Colonials communications equipment spoke alone for several minutes with Bob Menzies and after relieving him of his prized Winchester let him go as he deemed him a civilian. The South Australian’s were lucky they were pitted against Russian regulars led by an educated officer who knew the value of captives for hostage trading and interrogation, had they faced Cossacks their lives after surrender would have been quite short!

Soon after the firing stopped, the Russian column with their and wounded and captives headed west back to their lines.

The first few turns saw the Russian advance under fire
Klebb's men are in line Gorlov's on the right are in skirmish order

The casualty markers (national crest) and wound markers become more common!

After firing in their first Action Phase the Colonials plan was to withdrawl to the homestead I misjudged this move as there are limits on the number of men allowed through doors and windoews each turn I decided to leave two troops to stall the Russian horde, there was no other real option for me! It made an interesting battle as one (Marsh) lasted six Action Phases and the other (Lillee) lasted nine this kept five Russians tied up during the attack on the homestead!
The Militiamen fire and retire!

The Russians break ranks and pressure the Colonials!

Gorlov's section actually get to melee the Redcoats far right!

Privates Lillee and Marsh 'make their stand!'

The Russians surge toward the homestead!

While the fight in the enclosure contined Gorlov to the south of the farm made his move to get to the back door and through the southern window of the farm unfortunately for them even though they got into the building through the window they lost two more men breaking their morale, they fled toward the orchard in haste!

Gorlov's men dash for the southern window and back door

Gorlov's men are defeated in the homestead and at it's back door

With Gorlov out of action Orlov's men tried to flank the house crossing the eastern fence and trying for the back door while Klebb's men assault the front door and windows.

Private Lillee's final moments!

Orlov's men clear the eastern fence but they are too late to get into the farm through the back door Bob Menzies and Private Holt who turned back Gorlov's section slam the door in their faces!

Klebb's infantry attack the front door and walls agaian and again...

The last stand in the homestead, the Colonials failed a morale test and were routed we agreed that since they had no retreat route that they were allowed to surrender rather than get slaughtered!

This particular game was a great one and actually closer than it looked one Russian unit broke completely (Gorlov's) and Klebb's unit got 'Hold' morale results twice one less on either of those die rolls and they would have run too leaving Orlov's unit by itself...a very near run thing indeed!

Scenario Three will see the South Australian’s on the attack and their opponents will be not be the professionals of the 36th Division but the men of the far east, Siberians!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Campaign Game 2 Set Up Details & Special Rules

These are the set up details and special rules for the second of the The Russians Are Coming campaign games. A map of the play area is included. Please feel free to try this yourselves (you may have to adapt it for your rules) and let me know how you go!

The Forces

Russians three units – fire & melee as trained

  • 1 army officer (Lieutenant Klebb)
  • 9 Privates
  • 1 Army NCO (Sergeant Gogol)
  • 9 privates
  • 1 Army NCO (Corporal Orlov)
  • 9 privates

South Australians one unit – fire & melee as raw, the officer & NCO are veteran

  • 1 officer (Captain A. Searcy)
  • 1 NCO (Sergeant 'Al' Deakin)
  • 12 privates
  • Bob Menzies an armed civilian and classed as one for fire and melee

Russians - Enter board from west edge turn 1

South Australians – may deploy in up to two groups of any strength anywhere on the board. They are hidden until the Russians contacts them, the Russian has a line of sight to them (only if they are in the open) or the South Australian player chooses to reveal them to move or fire them

Game Length

The game ends after 12 turns unless the Russians complete their victory conditions or if either side is completely routed or is eliminated

Victory Conditions

Before the game ends the Russians must clear Bob Menzies homestead and fenced enclosure of South Australians for four consecutive action phases (this allows them time to destroy the communications equipment)

Special Rules
  • Turn 1 the Russians have the ‘initiative’
  • Fire at any target on the board that is to the west of the firer (no matter how slight the angle) incurs a -1 modifier due to the rising sun
  • If South Australians enter melee from hidden status (i.e the Russians move into them while hidden) for the round of melee they +2 to their hit die
  • If South Australians fire in up to medium range from hidden status for the first fire (can be opportunity fire) they +2 to their hit die
  • For morale rolls South Australians in Bob Menzies homestead or enclosure add 2 extra to their rolls
  • The "hills" are actually rolling ground they block line of sight and give those on them melee and shooting advantages but cost no extra movement points to climb as the slopes are gentle
  • The copses and fences are light cover (copses anywhere within and fences if they are anywhere between the firer and target when both are n the same level of elevation) and they do not block line of sight
  • The Homestead and rocky ground are hard cover and block line of sight
  • The rose bushes act as light cover but block line of sight and are impassable for movement 
  • Figures defending closed homestead doors or windows in melee get an extra +1 die modifier as well as the usual cover modifier
  • When firing from the Homestead a maximum of one figure may fire from each normal height window and two from any open door
  • The maximum number of attackers at a homestead window or door is one with one more assisting
  • The maximum defenders at a homestead window or door is one
  • Only two figures may pass through an open homestead per Action Phase
  • Only one figure may pass through an open homestead window per Action Phase
  • Regarding command rules if the South Australian player selects to deploy their unit in two groups the officer commands one and the NCO the other if the two commanders come within 16cms of each other the two units become one and must move to within 16cm of the overall leader ASAP

Below is Captain Darling's map of Bob Menzies homestead and the surrounding area, he submitted it with the action report to Lieutenant-Colonel Downes on the afternoon of Wednesday October 20 after he visited the location and recieved details of the early morning skirmish.

 The below Scale and  Legend were attached to the Captain's map after the campaign, they were created by someone unknown in later years!
Just a note her on the special rule covering shooting into the sun, for ease of play we went with any shot in a westerly direction no matter how slight the angle was a shot 'into the sun'. It saved the use of protractors and long straight edges, if you play this scenario feel free to change this!

 The "historical" AAR will follow shortly!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Campaign Game 2 - Ol' Bob's Place

This is the background of the second of the seven scenarios of the Russian Invasion of the Colony of South Australia campaign game:

Ol' Bob's Place

The fear of a Russian invasion of the Australian Colonies escalated with the Russo-Turkish war that started in 1877. With such an attack in mind and knowing good infrastructure would be crucial in repelling any threat the South Australian military command led by Lieutenant-Colonel Downes wisely selected several homesteads surrounding the city of Adelaide and had them furnished with the most modern telegraph and heliograph apparatus. This equipment would be deployed when necessary giving the local defence forces the ability to communicate readily allowing for a closely co-ordinated strategy to be implemented.

Unfortunately for the South Australians Russian sympathisers had come across this plan and Lieutenant-General Lazarev was quickly made aware of the existence of these communication centres. These local traitors and spies had been embedded among the local populace in the early 1870s by the Russian ‘Third Section’, the dreaded secret police lead by General of Infantry Alexander Romanovich Drentlin a brilliant spymaster but a man of unscrupulous character! Lazarev on hearing of these important bases decided they must be neutralised with haste! With the Cossacks busy probing the South Australians defences and foraging he selected platoons from the well trained 36th Divisions rifle companies to complete the mission. Each of these were allocated one of the locations listed and given the task of penetrating deep behind the current front line raiding the farmsteads and destroying the paraphernalia concerned before it could be arrayed by the locals.

Using maps supplied by the sympathizers the raiding parties set off in the dark to find their targets and launch dawn attacks on them.

As day broke on Wednesday the 20th of August 1879 a platoon of riflemen from the 1st battalion, 143rd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 36th Infantry Division led by Captain Klebb were in position to raid a quiet farmstead north of the city of Adelaide. Klebb squinted into the rising sun and despite this disadvantage blew his whistle and moved forward with his men toward their objective for Mother Russia!

Captain Alfred Searcy and his group of men from the Port Adelaide Volunteer Rifle Company had been ordered to guard Bob Menzies homestead where they were told vital secret apparatus was stored. After spending a quiet and cool night sleeping under the stars these brave defenders were preparing breakfast and boiling a billy when the lookout shouted “Oi Ruskies on the way!”. They picked up their arms ran to their allotted positions and steeled themselves for action...

AAR and scenario forces, set up, special rules and victory conditions to come!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Where Are the All the Horses? AAR

We played the “Where Are the All the Horses?” scenario of the Campaign Game four times resulting in three South Australian victories to the Russians one. The first time was a solo run through by me to test the balance the other three were face to face games. Two were decisive South Australian victories the other two were shared and VERY close. It’s a hard game for the Russians as the Colonials have hidden deployment plus a very good defensive position. The Cossacks one advantage is their superiority in melee and this can make a big difference especially if they get into the barn as they can turn it into a charnel house for the locals in quick time!

We’ve decided the fourth game played, a South Australian victory is the “historical” one. So the Colonials are now one up with six to play.

Here’s how it ran…

Lieutenant Pomerov was suspicious of the seemingly abandoned and desolate barn that stood in open rolling ground before Sub-Lieutenant Yuskovich and himself. Yuskovich was less worried and eager to get his Cossacks forward as per their orders and he prevailed in the heated exchange between the two officers on how they should procede. Concentrating all their troopers on the north side of the road giving some of them cover from a wooden palisade fence they deployed and moved out toward the barn the sun on their backs.

The Cossacks rushed forward as quickly as they could run and it wasn’t long before the crack of Martini Henry fire rang in their ears! Sergeant Bill Smith and his picked riflemen were deployed in the barn and a nearby rocky outcrop expecting Russians the shrill whistle accompanied by roar of “Huzzah!” ended their wait and they saw blue clad Cossacks appear in no apparent formation running toward them. Smith gave the order ‘Fire at will!”. The first Russian fell to one of his rounds!

Lieutenant Pomerov’s section of Cossacks being deployed on the left were intended to move to the rear of the barn but the musketry coming from the rocks to the north of the road distracted them and became their target. Pomerov couldn't continue his flanking move while the enemy held that position. Covering the ground quickly and dodging to and fro they only suffered a single casualty as they closed on their objective.

Meanwhile the main strike toward the barn led by Sub-Lieutenant Yuskovich suffered severely from accurate fire coming from the barn's loft negating the fences cover. As they moved along the road as quickly as they could the losses mounted, two Cossacks were down and three wounded including Yuskovich himself and his bugler all before they had even reached the barn door! With a third of his men casualties the leading troopers threw themselves at the barn’s barricaded northern gates and they had an initial success killing one of the guards and pushing the other back but they did not actually breech the gates allowing more Colonials to fill the gaps they created.

Sergeant Smith’s men in the barn kept up a hot fire as the Russians neared the barn and once they arrived he led the ground floor defences maintaining the integrity of the gates and windows while riflemen continued to pour withering fire into the Ruskies from the loft. Casualties at the barn gates were replaced by the men from the loft as the Russian morale faltered. The Cossacks had had enough and fled back down the road to whence they had come only a short time ago, a few rifle shots accompanying them.

Rifleman Billy Hughes and his two mates from the Unley Butchery had been located in the rocky outcrop to provide enfilading fire on any Russians attacking the barn’s north gate but the course of the battle did not allow this they instead became the target of a furious charge of desperate looking Cossacks! The mates fire had been ineffectual until the Russian came in close and a sharp melee ensued with the Ruskies being forced back with one dead and one wounded at the loss of only Billy McMahon’s left shoulder strap! While the Russians were stunned by this setback the three men poured several deadly volleys into their blue clad assailants when the smoke cleared four were dead and the others had turn tail and were running, a shot from the Russian officer had wounded Billy Hughes. The three men looked at each other grinned and then cheered after the fleeing Cossacks!

Turns one to three saw the Russians advancing under hot fire form the Colonials the men in the barn scored several crucial hits:

Pomerov's men on the left and Yuskovich's are to the right advance on turn one

Pomerov in the green tunic leads his Cossacks

Yuskovich's Cossacks rush toward the barn during turn two

Positions at the end of turn three

Turns four to six saw a close fight between Sub-Lieutenant Yuskovich's section and the Colonials defending the barn there were several close melee dice rolls which went to the South Australians allowing them to keep the Russians at bay:
The Russians almost breech the north gate of the barn!

Overview at the end of turn four

The fight for the rocky outcrop was short and decisive, the Russians got in close with few casualties and were able to get to grips with the three South Australians but again the dice went against the attackers. Then thanks to the Colonials winning the initiative roll of turn six they were allowed four Action Phases in a row (last two of turn 5 and the first two of turn six)allowing them to pour fire into Pomerov’s unlucky men. The Cossacks broke with around half their strength casualties:
"Trouble" at the rocky outcrop!

 "Trouble" averted at the rocky outcrop thanks to Mr Martini Henry!

  Overview at the end of turn six

Turn eight and the Russians are in flight!

 Ruskies fleeing into the setting sun, the rooms window was in the right place for effect!

Captain Darling visited the scene of this action late in the evening and spoke with Sergeant Bill Smith about the afternoons events and his thoughts on the invaders, he reported back to Lieutenant-Colonel Downes just after midnight and declared "Sergeant Bill Smith says we have the Ruskies measure and you can all sleep soundly tonight Sir!" Both he and Downes laughed roundly...

 Time to take a breath and plan when to play Campaign Game Two!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Campaign Game 1 Set Up Details & Special Rules

These are the set up details and special rules for the first of the The Russians Are Coming campaign games. A map of the play area is included. Please feel free to try this yourselves (you may have to adapt it for your rules) and let me know how you go!

The Forces 

Russian Cossacks two units – fire as raw, melee as trained, both officers are veteran
  • 1 army officer (Lieutenant Pomerov)
  • 11 Cossack troopers
  • 1 Cossack officer (Sub-Lieutenant Yuskovich)
  • 1 Cossack bugler 
  • 11 Cossack troopers
South Australians one unit – fire as trained, melee as raw, the NCO is veteran
  • 1 NCO (Sergeant Bill Smith)
  • 8 privates

Russians - Enter board from west edge turn 1
South Australians – may deploy in up to two groups of any strength anywhere on the board. They are hidden until the Russians contacts them, the Russian has a line of sight to them (only if they are in the open) or the South Australian player chooses to reveal them to move or fire them

Game Length

The game ends after 12 turns unless the Russians occupy the barn or if either side routs or is eliminated

Victory Conditions

At the game end the Russians must have at least one figure within 15cm of the barn or they lose, if they don't lose due to this condition Victory Points determine the winner they are calculated as below:
  • Russians gets 3 VPs for killing the NCO and 2 VPs for each killed private (maximum 15VPs) They also get 5 VPs for clearing the barn of Colonials
  • South Australians gets 2 VP for an officer killed and 1 VP for every other man killed (maximum 27VPs)
Special Rules
  • Turn 1 the Russians have the ‘initiative’
  • Cossacks can't use formed line if a units leader is killed they maintain in skirmish order and move at half speed
  • For morale rolls use the units troops highest value
  • The "hills" are actually rolling ground they block line of sight and give those on them melee and shooting advantages but cost no extra movement points to climb as the slopes are gentle
  • The copses and fences are light cover (copses anywhere within and fences if directly behind and fire coming through it) and do not block line of sight
  • The Barn and rocky outcrops are hard cover and block line of sight
  • The barn has a loft so is two levels high
  • Figures defending unbreeched barn doors in melee get an extra +1 die modifier as well as the usual cover modifier
  • Due to loophole, window and door availability no more than 4 figures may shoot from any side of the barn on ground level
  • Due to loophole limits no more than 2 figures may shoot from any side of the barn on second loft level
  • Maximum attacker/defender at a window is one
  • Maximum attacker defender at a barn doors is two i.e. two figures against one would only be possible if there was a single defender and two attackers
  • Only two figures may pass through an open barn door per Action Phase
  • Regarding command rules if the South Australian player selects to deploy their unit in two groups a figure of the second group is selected as its commander and they are treated as two units, if the two groups join at any stage standard rules come back into effect and the NCO becomes the only command figure (if he is a casualty there is NO command figure) and they are again one unit
  • Cossacks may be up to 20cms from their leader
  • At any stage the South Australians may nominate ‘withdrawal’ and all their movement allowances add 50% but all movement must be made DIRECTLY toward the east edge of the board
This is the actual sketch map drawn by Captain Darling soon after the action had occured and he had spoken with witnesses. The Scale, Legend and edge lengths were added by someone unknown in later years!

 The "historical" AAR will follow shortly!