Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Decider - The Battle of Beneventum (275 BC)

During the corona pandemic, we decided to play through all of the scenarios in Commands & Colors Ancients Expansion #1. This was done over Skype with each player having their own copy of the game.

The results were logged here: http://keithswargames.blogspot.com/p/greeks-and-eastern-kingdoms-ancients.html

Having played all 24 scenarios and arrived at a twelve-all draw, we decided that a decider was necessary. As penalties are not possible, we took the decision to replay Beneventum and swap sides from the previous game.

Instead of using the normal board, I used a board made by a good friend. It folds out like in many children's books, and the camp fortifications and woodland popped up. 

When set up it looked like this...


The battle commenced. Looking at the Roman fortifications, Pyrrhus decided the best thing to do was to storm them.

As the Romans skirmished, Pyrrhus advanced his centre.

The skirmishing Romans were annoying the Epirotic elephants, causing casualties, so Pyrrhus ordered a mounted charge with his Elephants and Cavalry. The Romans lost a unit of Auxiliaries and one of Medium Infantry was decimated, but the Epirotic elephants were destroyed.

The Romans reformed their lines, bringing forth reserves from the fortifications and hiding the decimated legionaries in the rear.

Pyrrhus ordered his front line to charge. The Warriors rushed the legionaries and the Medium infantry double-timed to keep up.

The fierce Warriors smashed through the Roman light infantry, climbed the ramparts, eliminated the already decimated legionaries behind.

The Medium infantry attacked the elite Roman legionaries, although the caused some casualties, they were both pushed back with severe losses.

The Romans counter-attacked, pushing out the Warriors from the fortifications but taking losses themselves. They also took the chance to attack the retreating Medium infantry.

Again the Epitotic Warriors charged the fortifications, massacring the elite Roman legionaries occupying the central camp and destroying half of the Roman ballistae. 

The Romans had had enough of the pesky Warriors, and attacked in force, only a small unit a warriors managed to escape back to their own lines.

Pyrrhus now ordered his phalanx forward, which engaged and destroyed a unit of Roman legionaries.

Pyrrhus brought forward the cavalry on his left flank, intending to attack and destroy the Roman cavalry.

But before they had a chance, the Roman cavalry performed a Mounted Charge...

...and slaughtered both the opposing cavalry units and causing their commander to flee into a nearby forest. Thus they turned the tide of the battle.

In a vain attempt to save the day, Pyrrhus ordered his right flank to attack, destroying a Roman unit.

But now Pyrrhus couldn't stop the Roman cavalry, they had tasted victory and they rolled up his left flank.

It was a historical result! Pyrrhus withdrew from the field with what was left of his army and returned to Epirus, never to return to Italy. Beneventum was the final pivotal battle in the Roman Republic's bid for control of the entire Italian peninsula, and the first great victory of the legion over the phalanx.

With a result of 7 victory banners to 6, it was "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life".


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Spy Pick-up

This is an attempt to use Wings of Glory on a hex mat. We use hexes in order to simplify play over the Internet while staying isolated at home. Each aircraft has a number of different manoeuvres it can perform, but instead of being represented by arrows they are represented by hexes traversed.

Army HQ has tasked your squadron to pick up a spy with critical information from behind enemy lines. The spy is hiding out in a Belgium farm to escape the German troops that are out hunting. Your squadron must perform the pick-up at midday from the meadow next to the farmyard.

Army HQ has provided a brand new two-seater Bristol F.2B Fighter (perhaps the first one to arrive in France) for the operation because it is must faster than the DH.4 two-seaters that the squadron is otherwise equipped with. The Brisfit has two forward-firing Vickers machine guns and one Lewis gun in the observer's cockpit. The Brisfit will fly without its normal observer in the back seat in order to make room for the spy.

Lieutenant William Algernon "Billy the Bishop" Tempest bravely volunteers to fly the pick-up in the Brisfit and his friend Lieutenant Terence “the Rook” Turner, flying his Sopwith Camel, will escort Billy. They take off from their aerodrome in good time before noon and head towards the front lines. When crossing the German trenches, they are spotted and an officer telephones to the nearest airfield from which two Fokker D.VII scouts are sent up to intercept.


Special rule:
When the Brisfit’s back seat is occupied by the spy, the Lewis gun counts as being fired by a novice. It may not use aimed fire and if jammed will take an additional “jammed” counter.


As the two RFC planes approached the pick-up point, they spotted two Hun Fokker D.VII scouts.

Turn 1:
The RFC pilots flew straight ahead as the two Fokkers turned towards them.

Turn 2:
The RFC pilots flew straight ahead as the two Fokkers side-slipped towards them.

Turn 3:
The RFC pilots side-slipped to their right and the two Fokkers side-slipped again.

Turn 4:
The RFC pilots flew straight ahead as the two Fokkers side-slipped towards them.

The planes opened fire on their opposite number at long range.

Flying his Sopwith Camel, it wasn't Lieutenant Terence “the Rook” Turner's day. After firing a short burst into the Blue Fokker, his machine-guns jammed, and in the silence he heard his engine starting to make strange and worrying noises.

Turn 5:
The two opposing sides now met head-on at point blank range.

Lieutenant "Billy the Bishop" Tempest exchanged fire with the Red Fokker. The Blue Fokker opened fire on Terence “the Rook” Turner's Camel, tearing holes in the fuselage and wounding him.

Turn 6:
Both Fokker's turned to their right as did Terence “the Rook” Turner who was try to get out of the fight while he unjammed his guns. Billy the Bishop turned the Brisfit towards the meadow.

Turn 6:
Both Fokker's turned to their right. Terence “the Rook” Turner flew out of the fight while he unjammed his guns. Billy the Bishop in the Brisfit descended towards the meadow.

The Red Fokker was now on Billy the Bishop's tail, and open fire with a burst from his two Spandau machine-guns. Smoke started to pour out from the Brisfits engine.

Turn 7:
Billy the Bishop in the Bristfit ignored the Fokker on his tail and continued with his run in to the meadow. Terence “the Rook” Turner flew out of the fight while he unjammed his guns.

The Red Fokker opened fire on the Brisfit.

Turn 8:
With inches to spare, Billy crossed the hedgerow that marked the boundary of the meadow chased by the two Fokkers. Having unjammed his guns, Terrence turned his Camel back towards the fight.

Both Fokkers opened fire. The Blue Fokker did little damage before its guns jammed, but the Red Fokker filled the Brisfit with holes and wounded Bill the Bishop.

From a height of about 10 feet, the Brisfit crashed into the ground.

As the Brisfit crash-landed in the meadow, a nun came out from the hedgerow. The nun looked around carefully and then ran over to the Brisfit. She pulled Billy the Bishop out from the wreckage, through him over her shoulder in a fireman's carry, and disappeared in the direction of the farmhouse.

Flying in his shot-up Camel, Terence “the Rook” Turner saw the fate of his friend. Not wanting to face the two Fokkers, Terrence turned for home vowing to return to pick up both his friend and the spy.

 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Photo Reconnaissance Mission

This is an attempt to use Wings of Glory on a hex mat. We use hexes in order to simplify play over the Internet while staying isolated at home. Each aircraft has a number of different manoeuvres it can perform, but instead of being represented by arrows they are represented by hexes traversed. The R.E.8 was flying using my autopilot rules.

Army HQ is planning a large 3-day bombing raid on targets too far behind the lines for artillery fire to reach. They have ordered photo recce missions from a number of front-line squadrons to determine which targets to attack.

An R.A.F. R.E.8 is fitted with a camera. It will be piloted by Jonathan "Banger" Walls and Sidney Smythe will be the observer, photographer and rear-gunner. St John Somerset and Mathew Winterbottom will fly their Sopwith Camels as escorts.

Scenario rules: The goal is for the R.E.8 to make two passes over the target hex flying straight and level in order to take a photograph. The observer may make no other action that turn. Before making the second run, the observer must change the photographic plate, and on the turn this is done he may not perform any other action. The R.E.8 must exit its board edge to get back with the photographs.

The RFC pilots took off from their aerodrome, and with St John Somerset in the lead they headed towards their target. As they approached, the spotted two Hun Fokker D.VII scouts on patrol.

Turn 1:
Both Sopwith Camels started to accelerate ahead of the R.E.8. The two Fokkers closed up.

Turn 2:
The two Camels continued forward with Mathew Winterbottom on St John Somerset's starboard wingtip. The Fokkers headed straight for them. 

Turn 3:
The two pairs of scouts continued to close, as the R.E.8 started to line up with the target.

The scouts opened fire on each other at extreme range.

St John Somerset's rudder jammed.

Turn 4:
The scouts started dogfighting as the R.E.8 turned back towards the target.

St John Somerset opened up with a burst of machine-gun fire into the Red Fokker which caught fire. Mathew Winterbottom fired into the Blue Fokker at close range, but his Vickers machine-guns jammed before he could do much damage.

Both Fokkers fired into St John's Camel.

St John Somerset's rudder jammed yet again.

Turn 5:
Jonathan "Banger" Walls piloted the R.E.8 straight towards the target, seemingly ignorant of the dogfight going on in front of his nose.

Mathew Winterbottom turned his Camel gently to port, while all the time banging on his machine-guns with a hammer trying to unjam them.

The other three scouts all moved slowly ahead.

The flames shooting out of the Red Fokker were causing damage but it opened fire on St John Somerset at close range. St John fired at the Blue Fokker at long range doing little damage. The Blue Fokker fired at close range into the R.E.8, skilfully judging the angle so that neither the front nor the rear machine gun could target him.

St John Somerset's rudder had now jammed three times in a row.

Turn 6:
With flames still shooting out from its engine, the Red Fokker turned onto the tail of St John Somerset's Camel, who turned to starboard to face the incoming Blue Fokker head on. The R.E.8 dodged to starboard, trying to shake off the Fokkers.

Mathew Winterbottom turned his  Camel gently to port, while all the time banging on his machine-guns with a hammer trying to unjam them.

The flames shooting out of the Red Fokker were causing damage but it opened fire on St John Somerset. St John opened fire on the Blue Fokker which was firing at point blank range into the R.E.8.

Something was seriously wrong with St John Somerset's rudder, it had now jammed four times in a row.

Turn 7:
Mathew Winterbottom turned his  Camel gently to port, while all the time banging on his machine-guns with a hammer trying to unjam them, this time he succeeded.

Winterbottom fired a burst of machine-gun fire into the Blue Fokker.

His guns jammed for a second time, but as he still had his hammer out, he hit them immediately and they started firing again. [Rules note: he actually just remembered that he had the Bullet Checker skill].

Turn 8:;
Mathew Winterbottom got onto the tail of the Red Fokker, The R.E.8 continued towards its target. St John Somerset, circled his bullet-ridden Camel, safely out of range of the Fokkers.

Mathew Winterbottom opened fire on the Red Fokker as Sidney Smythe from the back-seat of the R.E.8. 

The Blue Fokker opened fire at close range on Winterbottom's Camel, but without any success.

The Red Fokker couldn't take this sort of punishment!

Turn 9:
Feeling badly outnumbered, the Blue Fokker tried to side-slip away, but Mathew Winterbottom followed after.

Winterbottom's first burst missed completely, but he adjusted his aim and his second burst had great effect.

The Blue Fokker plunged earthwards.

The two Sopwith Camel formed up behind the R.E.8 as Jonathan "Banger" Walls flew steadily over the target and Sidney Smythe photographed it.

All three RFC planes returned safely to their aerodrome. The two photographic plates were quickly developed to provide Army HQ with the information they needed.

After landing, St John Somerset gave his mechanics a severe dressing down, they had not serviced his tailplane properly. The mechanics promised to use extra grease on St John's tail before his next sortie.