Sunday, 8 January 2017

Third Crusade - Battle Of Arsuf, 7th September, 1191.

Crusader cavalry try to repel Saladin's attacks
The Crusaders are approaching Arsuf down the coast road. They have to pass a large wooded area close to the coast road and Saladin has decided to use this wood to launch a major attack on the Crusaders.

This battle represents the early stages of the battle just after Saladin launched his attacks from the wood on the rear of the column. Historically the cavalry on both sides was deployed behind the infantry and when the attacks were launched there was some confusion as the cavalry pushed through the infantry. Rather than trying to resolve this on table I've assumed that stage is over and each side can deploy within their deployment zones as chosen.

I used Sword & Spear rules.

Rather than have one large army on each side, I tried representing the two rear columns of Crusaders as two separate armies, and similarly for the Ayyubid Egyptians. This gave two armies on each side of about 290 points and 8 units each.


North is at the top of this layout.
Crusaders on the left defending against Saladin's attacks from the woods on the right.
Saladin chose this place for a major attack because the woods gave a covered overnight camp and approach, while the battleground was relatively open and suited to cavalry attacks.

Crusaders - Army 1
General, 2 x Knights, 1 Miltary Order Knights, 1 x Spearmen, 1 x Crossbowmen, 1 x Miltary Order Searmen, 1 x Archers, 1 x Turcopole Cavalry

Crusaders - Army 2
General, 1 x Knights, 1 Miltary Order Knights, 2 x Spearmen, 1 x Crossbowmen, 1 x Miltary Order Searmen, 1 x Archers, 1 x Turcopole Cavalry

2 Ayyubid Egyptian Armies - both have the same forces
General, Captain, 1 x Cavalry, 2 x Ghilmen, 1 x Turcoman Light Horse, 1 x Turcoman Cavalry, 1 x Ahdath Militia Spearmen, 1 x Archers Light Foot, 1 x Javelinmen


Initially the cavalry on both sides closed the gap.
The Crusader Knights have the Impact ability which gives them an advantage if they actitvate and charge in first in the next turn. If the Egyptian Ghilmen get to activate first they can either loose arrows or charge first and negate the Impact ability of the Crusader Knights.

In the north, Crusader Turcoploes have an early success scoring three hits against Turcoman Light Horse and immediately destroying them.

Early in turn 2 the Turcoples follow this up with another success, knocking out a unit of Egyptian Archers. Each time a unit is lost from an army they lose an activation dice, so the northern Egyptian army is already down from 8 to 6 activation dice.

Cavalry charge in right across the battlefield with the Egyptians managing to avoid the worst effects on the Crusader Knight's Impact ability.

The troublesome Turcopoles in the north have made their way round the flank of the Egyptians and are threatening their supporting infantry, but they are being cut off by Turcoman Cavalry.

Turn 4 and there are several decisive combats.
One unit of Ghilmen is lost from the Southern Egyptian army.

Followed by one from the northern Egyptian army

A unit of Crusader Knights are lost from their northern army.

An overview at the end of turn 4 and gaps are appearing in the Egyptian lines.
Skirmishing at the southern end (this end) of the battlefield was inconclusive all game.

In turn 5 Military Order Knights break another unit of Ghilmen ...

... but suffer in their pursuit when they hit a unit of Spearmen, just managing to avoid being destroyed with their Armour negating one hit.

A unit of Egyptian Cavalry are utterly pounded by some Military Order Spearmen.

The northern unit of Turcopoles are finally caught in the flank and destroyed in an act of Egyptian defiance.

More Ghilmen are destroyed.

Followed by a unit of Saladin's Turcoman cavalry in the south

At the end of turn 5 the Egyptian southern army is demoralised and quits the field leaving 4 units in their northern army to face two strong Crusader armies.
Battle over with the southern Crusader army off to cause trouble in the Egyptian rear.

An obvious victory to the Crusaders but it wasn't as one sided as it might appear. The early success of the Crusader's Turcopoles in the north meant the Egyptians lost 2 activation dice early on which put them on the back foot.

The Egyptians were very unlucky in several of the cavalry combats and should have done better, but it wasn't helped by losing several activation dice early on leaving them with fewer options.

There are rules at the back of the Sword & Spear rules for multi-players and armies and as I had 2 vs 2 armies I drew 13 dice from the dice bag each phase. Many of the units were high value so even at nearly 300 points each there were only 8 units in each army. I might have been better drawing 11 dice per phase.

Good fun though and the result was fairly historical.

Third Crusade - abandoned scenarios 3 and 4

I did plan to report on a couple more scenarios based on the Crusaders moving south down the coast and being harassed by the Egyptians. These were to be:

Scenario 3 - Skirmish Attacks on the Column
30th August, 1191
Saladin intended this to be a major assault, but it didn't develop that way.

Scenario 4 - Determined Attacks on the Column
2nd September, 1191
Another attempt to break the deadlock resulting in fierce fighting.

After a couple of attempts to make these battles different to Scenario 2 - Break Up The Column, using different set ups and rules, I decided it wasn't worth pursuing. One attempt, using Soldiers Of God rules was a complete failure mainly because of the difficulty in manoeuvring. I even added in the 4 blank cards to the deck as extra Manoeuvre cards but even so the Crusaders were not able to change direction to react to the Egyptian attacks.

I've made the mistake before of posting non-event battles and I don't want to repeat it in a hurry.

So it's straight on to Scenario 5 - The Battle of Arsuf.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

BKC II - Down By The Sea

Scenario 3 of the series, Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time, written by Andrew Rolph and recently published by Miniature Wargames with Battlegames.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.
Notes on BKC II Optional Rules and Scenario Rules used are at the end of this Post.

Most figures and models are Pendraken.

I should say straight away this didn’t work out very well for the Soviets. I tried a few options for the Soviet attacks but they were very fragmented and all crossing open ground against dug-in Germans. There was a lot of artillery which was fine at the beginning when the Soviets were bombarding the German positions, but very messy when the German FAOs were able to bring their artillery to bear on the Russians in the open.
So, with that in mind, I’ll keep this fairly short.

It’s early in 1942 and the Soviets are trying a counter-offensive on the Crimean coastline

This scenario features an assortment of Soviet forces trying to combine arms in an attack against a mixed German Battlegroup defending a coastal position.

The initial layout.
The table is just 4ft square including the coastal area.

The Soviets are attacking from the east (this end), and the south (the coast) and … oh yes … and they have a paratroop drop.

Victory Points are awarded for each town sector or airfield installation held – five in total. So really the Russians have to take the town to stand any chance of winning.

Details are in the downloads mentioned in my previous Post - Blitzkrieg Commander II revival.

1/10th Infantry Battalion
10th Regimental HQ
3 x PzIII of 1/17th Pz btn
2 x Coastal Defence Teams
Small Airfield defence group.
Ad Hoc Battalion forms in the town
3 x 105mm off-table artillery with 4 turns of ammo each – FAOs attached to various units.

50th Independent Tank Battalion
1/11th Cavalry Battalion (dismounted in this game)
1/29th Paras (landing from turn 3)
1/62nd Naval Rifle Battalion in two waves
4 x 152mm off-table Artillery with five turns of fire each.
Naval Support with five turns of fire

I deployed the Germans defending the sectors their names suggests with the 1/10th Infantry and PzIIIs defending the front line.

The Soviets have various forces turning up in various places.
There are the land based forces approaching from the east trying to break through the wire and anti-tank ditch. A Naval Rifle Battalion is making an amphibious landing, and there Paras dropping behind German defences.

The Game
In this game I made the Soviet artillery plan after deploying the Germans to give them the best chance I could. The Naval bombardment landed on the village and the artillery along the German defensive positions.

The Soviet bombardment began with no Soviet forces coming on in the first turn. Casualties amongst the dug-in Germans were low.

Friday, 16 December 2016

BKC II - The Stalin Line

Scenario 2 of the series, Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time, written by Andrew Rolph and recently published by Miniature Wargames with Battlegames.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.
Notes on BKC II Optional Rules and Scenario Rules used are at the end of this Post.

Most figures and models are Pendraken.

It’s still early in Operation Barbarossa in July 1941 and the Germans have come up against The Stalin Line running along the original Russian border before the Russians moved into Poland in 1939. The original defences have been neglected and stripped of armaments and now hasty defences have been set up.

The initial layout.
The long hedge on the right is the edge of the world, as is the sharp cut off of terrain and clutter in the foreground.

The Germans are attacking from the west (this end) and the Soviets are defending in the east (far end).

The river is impassable to vehicles and infantry treat it as an obstacle on each bank and difficult terrain wading through it. The bridge is broken.

Germans – exit beyond the river from the far end and to the right of the single tree in the centre of that edge.
Soviets - to stop the German advance. In the scenario, Russian formations (that have been at least under fire) can exit by the same route and gain Victory Points. I forgot (or ignored) that. No retreat!

Details are in the downloads mentioned in my previous Post - Blitzkrieg Commander II revival.

  • 1/4th Pz btn
  • 1/52nd Motorised Battalion
  • 23rd Motorcycle Battalion with Bridging Engineer detachment attached
  • Air Support (3 Stuka missions)

  • 4 x Rifle Battalions of 47th Brigade plus supports (see note below)
  • 1 x KV-2 attached to one of the Rifle Btns
  • 2 x 122mm Artillery Support (in place of the 120mm mortars in the scenario) attached to one of the Rifle Btns
  • 4 x T-26 of 57th Tank btn – the scenario doesn’t specify which model so I assumed with 37mm gun

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

BKC II - The Red Empire Strikes Back

Here goes with first of the scenarios written by Andrew Rolph and recently published by Miniature Wargames with Battlegames under the banner of Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.
Notes on BKC II Optional Rules and Scenario Rules used are at the end of this Post.

This scenario is set at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and is a Soviet counterattack against a German position with German reinforcements on the way. Standard stuff.

Here's the initial layout.
The Germans are defending in the west and the Soviets are attacking from the east.

The woods, hills, village and hedges are treated as normal.
The rough ground in the foreground I treated as Low Area terrain for visibilty, Impassable to vehicles and guns and Soft Cover.
Soviets - to breakthrough and exit the table along the west edge which is held by the Germans. They must also contest the village, which means occupying at least one sector, so they can't just ignore everything and charge off.
Germans - to destroy any enemy that attack your sector.

... are long and in the downloads mentioned in my previous Post - Blitzkrieg Commander II revival.
You will get an idea from the piccies.
  • Germans start with one infantry battalion, one FlaK battalion and one StuG formation. Reinforcements are on the way.
  • Soviets have three infantry battalions, two tank battalions and an off-table artillery battalion. Not all the Soviets listed are guaranteed to turn up.

The Soviets start off-table along the east edge, nominating a start point for each formation.

The Germans deploy their starting forces up to about half way from the west edge (I used a 6'x4' table instead of 6'x5' as stated in the scenario).

I put the infantry defending the village and farming area. The StuGs are off to the right behind the rough ground.

The FlaK battalion are around the north hill behind the wood.

Pre-planned Artillery
Playing this solo I hit the problem of having pre-planned artillery for the Soviets while knowing where the Germans were deployed. I came up with a solution which I thought worked quite well.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Blitzkrieg Commander II revival

I'm going to take a short break from the Third Crusade games to have a bash at an old favourite, Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.

Miniature Wargames (with Battlegames, as was at the time) has recently published a series of scenarios under the heading "Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time", written by Andrew Rolph. The scenarios are based on the WWII Ostfront between 1941 and 1943. I thought some of them might transfer well to BKCII and give me the push I needed to dust off the old rules. I'm looking forward to it.

Although the author of the scenarios has a particular set of rules in mind (I don't know what, let's call them Rules X) he gives lots of help to adapt the scenarios for other rules. After a read through of the first article it looks like firing ranges are far greater in BKCII than Rules X, and there is also a greater restriction on visibility in Rules X. For example in Rules X, unless firing, infantry in the open will only be seen within 9". I'll need to make allowances for that otherwise the Russian attackers (in the first scenario) will probably be mown down at long range. He also recommends using a morale mechanism for each unit* (usually about battalion strength) rather than an overall army breakpoint with some units* fighting to the last man. Something like that can be managed with BKCII.
* Note: I say "unit*" because in BKCII a Unit is just one stand. I will be using BKCII terminology in future.

The scenarios and further information are currently available for download from the Miniature Wargames website (confusingly under the name of Tabletop Gaming):
The scenarios are under Issue 404
Further notes on play balance mechanisms are under Issue 400

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Third Crusade - Break Up The Column, 25th-26th August, 1191

The Crusader army is advancing south down the coast in three separate divisions. Saladin's son, al-Afdal, attempts to slow the Crusader's rearguard to separate them from the rest. If successful, Saladin's main force could exploit the gap between the Crusader rearguard and the rest of the army.

I used Lion Rampant rules by Daniel Mersey for this game.
It was based on the Scenario D: A Gentle Stroll.

The Crusaders are marching down the coast and only being attacked from one side so I adjusted the initial deployment to suit.
The Crusader Retinue must make it's way down from the North West (top left) of the table and move off in the South West (bottom left) corner. The deployment of the Egyptian Retinue had to be adjusted to suit so that some units came on in the South East corner as the original scenario, but the rest came on along the East side, with 24" of the North East corner.

Crusader Retinue
2 Mounted Men-at-Arms (a "Commanding" Leader included)
1 Mounted Sergeants
1 Foot Sergeants
1 Crossbowmen

Egyptian Retinue
2 Mounted Sergeants + bows (a "Strong" Leader included)
2 Mounted Yeomen
2 Foot Yeomen

The first moves.
While most of the Crusaders sped south down the coast, the Crusader Mounted Sergeants to moved east to counter the Egyptian mounted Yeomen. However the Yeomen left them behind and rode off to engage the Foot Sergeants making their way through some rough ground.