Friday, September 28, 2018

WWI - Belleau Wood - Marines Attack - 100th Anniversary



I've been trying to get my USMC\US Infantry on the table for a while now. I finally got enough based and flocked to refight the Battle for Belleau Wood on June 6th, 1918. The woods would not be completely cleared for another 3 weeks in the real war, but I wanted to see how it would pan out in our wargame room!

Lately, I have been trying out new rules like Great War Spearhead 2, and this time I wanted to try TAKE ACTION! by Steve Gelhard.

I've played these rules twice at Historicon, but it has been two years since I've played them. One disadvantage is that the rules are just the two page Quick Reference Sheet with nothing else written down. This makes it a challenge when the rules writer isn't part of the local group when questions come up during the game. :-)

So, Brian, Phil, and Mike J. tried them out in the hallowed ground of Belleau Wood.

I used part of the map from the GWSH2 Belleau Wood scenario (which is a scenario of the opening German attack against the French and USMC). It was odd to have so many forces concentrated in one area of a gaming table, like we did for Belleau Wood. Bonus, this is the first time I have put my US troops on the table top! 

Rules: Take Action! Storm of Steel by Steve Gelhard.
Miniatures: 15mm Minifigs
Terrain: Cigar Box plush mats, sculpted hills (pink board), Edition Brokaw roads, PaperTerrain houses. Home made woods.


Players

Germans - Mike J.
5th Marines - Phil
6th Marines - Brian
Umpire - Eric

Setup

Partial map from the Belleau Wood scenario of Great War Spearhead 2.

Order of Battle

USA
4th Brigade(USMC), US 2nd Division -
    5th USMC Regiment - RHQ, 2 MG Co., 12 co
    6th USMC Regiment - RHQ, 2 MG Co., 12 co
    8th Machine Gun Battalion - 6 MG Co (distributed 3 to a regiment)

Germans
    461st Regiment - RHQ, 3 MG co, 1 Trench Mortar battery, 12 co
    193rd Regiment - RHQ, 2 MG co, 1 Trench Mortar battery, 8 co.
    398th Regiment - RHQ, 2 MG co, 4 co.

The Battle

The first four photos give you a lay of the land along with unit names and locations. The main objective for the Marines was to take and clear Belleau Wood, with a secondary objective of the town of Bouresches. This was their real-life goal on June 6th.





Below the 5th and 6th Marines attack directly into Belleau Wood, you can see the orange (shaken) markers on the Germans from the US\French pre-game barrage.


The companies of the 6th Marines dash through the ravine and up the hill into Belleau Wood.



German MG, rifle and trench mortars wreck havoc on the 5th Marines crossing the open fields.


Here you can see the rocky nature of Belleau Wood and the dual pronged attack by the 5th and 6th Marines.


Marine MGs have begun to pin and damage German infantry dug-in too close to the edge of the woods. A defense in depth would have been a better choice for the Germans in hindsight.


6th Marines go in with "cold steel"! This was a vicious battle with most of the heavy lifting done by the 6th Marines via close assaults.


The Germans, on the right flank have decided to bring a battalion of the 193rd regiment forward to harass the 5th Marines (who had terrible activation rolls).


The 5th Marines bogged down due to enemy fire and poor activation rolls.


The 6th Marines (Brian's command) slogs through the woods taking and giving casualties.


The edge of Belleau Wood is nearly cleared by the 6th Marines.


Marines and Germans maneuver for an edge and flank in the woods.


Here, you can see the carnage and the nature of the close assaults.


The Germans, in desperation, move the 1st Battalion of the 398th Regiment towards the 6th Marines. Too little, too late.


The Germans try to take back Hill 142 (140 on the map) and the Marines actually charge down and engage them in close combat wiping out a company of the 193rd German Regiment.


 The last stand, here the Germans in Belleau Wood are overwhelmed!



This was a great victory for the US Marine Corps! Belleau Wood was nearly completely cleared when the German morale collapsed. The casualties on both sides was horrendous.

German 460th Regiment lost 5 companies eliminated, 1 company taken prisoner, 2 MG platoons destroyed, plus 7 more hits, which is about 80% casualties.

5th Marines - 4 companies eliminated plus 5 hits (roughly 50% casualties)
6th Marines - 2 companies eliminated plus 9 hits (roughly 50% casualties)

We had a lot of fun, but hope Steve can write the rules so that we don't have so many unresolved questions during the game.

Cheers!
Eric

Friday, August 31, 2018

Taiping Rebellion - The Valley of Sorrow

This is the last in a series of Taiping Rebellion games we have been playing in August.

I have returning generals: Jan and Phil, with new guys Mike P. and Mike J.

Jan and Mike J. are the Imperial commanders
Phil and Mike P. are the Taiping commanders

Scenario Background

It is getting late in the summer and the Taiping need food. They have sent out this raiding force of six thousand men to find and gather forage for the larger army. They take along the bandits as they are good at stripping the land bare of every usable item. Smoke can be seen up and done the valley as village after village is raided. The Taiping target this last village and thinking it will be easy pickings, they just send the bandits into the town, while the real muscle of the raiding force, the Brethren, hang back and protect them. The local peasants have mustered about 2000 men to defend this village and they are not going to leave without a fight. Meanwhile, an Imperial command of cavalry (900 men) and infantry (3000 men) arrive to hopefully save this village and their people.


Guess who now has flags?!?!? My Imperial forces have been without flags for years, and I finally got around to putting some on them. They need a lot more, but at least they are no longer "naked"! Lots of touch-ups on the flags to be done, and each unit will likely have two or more flags\banners on them.



The Forces
This was a smaller battle than the prior two games, as this was supposed to represent a small raid in the valley.

Imperial Forces:

4 x Peasant mobs (mixed weapons) - protecting their village
3 x Cavalry
6 x Imperial infantry
2 x Tigermen
1 x Heavy Jingall
1 x Light Jingall

Taiping Forces:

4 x Brethren with melee weapons
1 x Brethren with matchlocks
1 x Brethren with repeating crossbows
1 x Brethren cavalry
2 x Light Jingalls
5 x Bandits

The Battle

The Taiping draw the "Move in Open" card first and start a general advance on the right and begin to gather around the village with the Bandits.


Tigermen and Jingalls clash!


The peasants, not waiting for the Taiping to mass their forces jump on the last bandit (levy) unit in the line! Mike J. is always aggressive.


They rout the bandits, then turn and take the next one in the flank!


Bandits hit the village in force. Stink pots are throw, but appear to have no affect on the peasants. Maybe they are used to the smell?


Here you can see from the Imperial side the situation.


Another bandit group routed! Those peasants are nasty!


Mike J. is bringing his cavalry from the center to the aid of the peasants. The Mongol cavalry is hit by Jingall fire and is disordered. Jingall team to the center right of the photo, in the road.


The Taiping pressure the entire Imperial front!


Taiping repeating crossbowmen disorder an Imperial infantry unit.


Imperial Jingalls begin to have telling effect on the Taiping center with several Taiping units becoming disordered.


Fresh bandit unit attacks some peasants with bowfire (and miss).


The Imperial cavalry is swinging around the town to get into action.


then go into melee and are pushed back in disorder by the peasants! These peasants mean business!


The clash in the center! (Love my new Imperial flags I made!)


The Manchu cavalry charge!! Below is a stop action video of the charge! Fun stuff!




The Manchu cavalry routs the bandits, and the entire rear of the Taiping command is ripe for the destruction.


Now that the bandits are down to only 1000 men out of 2500, the Taiping brethren are aggressively attacking the left and center of the Imperial line, with very good results.


The Imperial stink pot successfully drives back the crossbowmen!


Taiping matchlockmen advance and deliver a volley. This routs the Imperial battalion


More hand-to-hand combat.


Taiping bandits have half the village in their possession.


The Bannermen cavalry have made a flank march and appear near the village!


The Manchu cavalry turn their wrath towards the bandits and rout another unit! The Manchu cavalry will have Battle Honors after this engagement.



The Manchu cavalry has run roughshod over the bandits, when the Taiping cavalry finally shows up on the scene.


The Manchu wait and the Mongols come to their assistance.


Then the Bannermen!


The Taiping are slowly rolling up the entire Imperial left flank as more Imperial units rout off the table.


Imperial unit caught by the Pingers!


Leaving the Mongols behind (they are still disordered from Jingall fire), the Manchu and Bannermen begin to advance against the Taiping cavalry.


Another Imperial unit disordered (green marker)


The cavalry clashes!


Taiping "Melee Resolution" card comes up. They could either start that cavalry melee before the Imperials can start it, or they can attempt to attack the peasants in the village section.


They chose the village section, driving the peasants out in disorder, taking the last village section and reducing the Imperials to zero morale! The Taiping have won a VERY close game.


We have had a wonderful time with these three Taiping battles and should see them on the table more often in 2019. I'm going to cry when I sell these!

We are going to play some board games over the coming weeks as September is a busy month and running miniature games takes a lot of work.

Cheers!