2015 has been officially declared the year of Lard in the USA, with some BIG news due on that within the next week. US gamers should be seeing a much hightened presence of Lard on the Convention circuit this year, and to kick off the action we have just received this report from Williamsburg in Virginia where Ron Carnegie, flew the Lard banner in the Old Dominion.
Last weekend, February 6-7, brought another successful Williamsburg Muster Convention to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Williamsburg Muster is one of two conventions run each year by the Hampton Roads Wargamers, with Muster being the larger of the two. This year the attendance broke all records, with over 350 gamers gathered and ready for some serious action. Indeed, so great was the attendance that next year we may have to look at a larger venue!
Over the weekend, I ran three games from the TooFatLardies stable, Friday evening’s scenario was “No Pasaran” with Chain of Command Espana, than Saturday afternoon we had “The Battle for France” with Chain of Command before rounding off with “Kellogg’s Allies”, another game in the Sharp Practice adventures of Devon Kelloggs. [Ed. It’s a cereal!]
No Pasaran was set in the period of the Jarama Valley Campaign with the scenario generated using the main rule book. It was my intention this weekend to demonstrate portions of the rules and thought I would randomly generate both of my Chain of Command games to show that part of the game to my willing players, Brian, Derrick, Ross and Gunnar. Two of them had no experience with the rules but Ross had played one of my earlier Spanish Civil war games and Gunnar was not only familiar with the rules but is in fact a subscriber to the Lardy Yahoo group.
The game was an Attack on an Objective, the objective being a small Spanish Village overlooking a little valley somewhere in the Pingarron foothills. The “Lincolns” were commanded by Derrick and Ross. They were ordered to hold Santa Catalina and were supplies with their full complement of Valero mortars and light machine guns as well as an anti tank gun and a Russian made T26 tank. They also had three entrenchments. Their Force Morale started at 10. Brian and Gunnar were commanding a Spanish Foreign Legion Platoon with some of the ranks filled by Moroccan Regulares. They were supported by a Bilbao armoured car, a 75/28 Artillery battery with a forward observer, and an adjutant. Their Force Morale rating was 11.
From the very start luck smiled upon the Nationalists as they controlled the first three phases of the battle. This allowed them to deploy two of their sections. One that immediately moved forward to the olive grove and the other up towards the small house on the lower left of the pictures and by the entrenchment. They also deployed their forward observer who impiously called for a barrage on the church! Two of the Lincoln’s jump markers were close to be challenged already!
The Nationalists may have had the jump on the Lincolns, but now the Americans defended their jump of points by deploying the AT gun in the foxhole on their right and a light machine gun section on their left. A second section took positions in the church and the bell tower. From these positions they placed a withering crossfire onto the exposed Legion’s 1st section. The T26 was also deployed and with one lucky shot wounded the Legion’s Senior Leader, leaving him out of action for the rest of the turn.
The Legion’s 1st section bravely ran forth in an attempt to silence the republican AT gun, but the effort was in vain and the entire squad was lost. On their right however, the Legion was finding more success. Having gained positions in the Olive Grove, they began to reduce one of the IB’s Light Machine gun squads. Their artillery rounds were also now falling on the Church pinning any support the Republican LMG squad might have been hoping for.
Eventually these Legionarios would charge the house the LMG had been defending. Here they encountered the Lincoln’s Senior leader as well as a squad of brave volunteers. The Lincoln’s fought bravely and pushed the Legions back killing 8 of their men. The victory proved too costly however and the survivors could not stop the push of a second Nationalist squad. This time it was the Republican whose Senior Leader was wounded.
Finally the legion began to concentrate the fire of their 50mm mortars as well as the machine gun of their Bilbao on the AT Gun’s position. This proved to much for the brave crewmen, causing them to rout from their positions. At this point, the republican commander realized that his position was untenable, and he conceded defeat.
The game was long, and neither side had been reduced below 5 on their force morale. The forces appeared to be well balanced and it took some time before it was apparent who would prevail. All players seemed to have a good time and honestly so did the I, wish is certainly not always the case when one is game mastering!
The first game on Saturday was Fall of France. This was again randomly determined but would represent some of the action that happened in the first two days of the fight, as the Germans carved their way through Belgium. The player were Charles, Kai, Grey and again Gunnar the from the Spanish Civil War game.
This battle was an Attack and Defend scenario. Gunnar and Grey played the French and began with 11 as their Force Morale. They were supported by a 25mm AT gun and a Hotchkiss H39 tank. Both players had experience with the rules. The Germans on the other hand were commanded by Charles and Kai. Charles had some experience with the game some time ago, his nephew Kai had none.
The Germans began the battle with a Force Morale of 9 and two vehicles, a Panzer 222 and a Panzer III. The Patrol phase began with the Germans gaining two preliminary moves. The Patrol Phase was where the experience Chain of Command players had the advantage. The French outplayed their German opponents who found their markers locked down on the wrong side of the available cover and one of their markers ended up being negated being behind all the others when the phase ended. The Germans would now need to cross into the open to close with their enemy. Clearly those French scouts were earning their pay!
The French deployed their Rifle Grenadier team into the bombed out farmhouse as well as a section in the orchard in front of the house and one out in a field on their right. The Germans deployed to the right of the road, with one Squad behind the Farm shed directly in from of them and two in the woods. They also deployed their 5cm mortar team in the woods and tried in vain to silence the French grenades.
This began a firefight which the Germans, caught in a crossfire, suffered from the most. One squad was lost in that fight. Another allowed itself to be trapped behind a farm shed with their lmg team destroyed. Finally the platoon’s Feldwebel took command and ordered two squads to double time across the open ground to the large field on their right.
Now the Germans deployed their armor, The 222 to a position alongside the trapped squad in the centre of the line while the Panzer III entered calmly right down the central road. The French responded by bringing on their Hotchkiss and this began a duel which did some damage to the armored car.
The real action however was on the German right. Having learned the lessons of maneuver, two German squads got into position to threaten the French in the orchard. Their assault was however premature and while doing serious damage to the Poilu, the German squad was lost. Now, with two squads and one lmg team gone, their armored car immobilized and there force morale having dropped to 5 the Germans conceded the fight. This was one of those classic convention games where players learn the rules as they play. It was impressive to see the German chances of a victory improve as the players became better acquainted with the game. I think if we had played the scenario a second time the results could have been very different!
The final game I offered was Kellogg’s Allies on Saturday evening. The scenario was adapted from the Fondler’s Allies scenario in “The Compleat Fondler” with some alterations made in force size and composition. The bridge was also altered having been inspired by the bridge in the movie version of Sharp’s Eagle. The Bridge called Ponte Alcantra in the Compleat Fondler is clearly the Roman Bridge at Alacantara and therefore larger and taller than I was able to put together in the short time I was working with. The bridge in Sharp’s Eagle is low, long and wooden and I could build it quickly around scenery I already had. I also replaced the 95th rifles with the 60th and my numbers were a little reduced due to a lack of figures.
The 60th Royal Americans were ordered to hold the bridge with the aid of the Spanish regiment of Irlanda until Engineers could place explosives to blow the bridge. French Dragoons were ordered to stop the demolition from occurring. The players were Mark and Zoe on the French side, Peter commanded the Spanish and Mike, the Rifles. Most of the players had no Sharp Practice experience, although Peter has played once before when I ran a game last August.
The Spanish deployed with most of three of their five groups in a line defending the bridge. The remaining two were in column on the bridge with their commanding big man Major O’Higgins (The Spanish Irlanda are Irish expats.). The 60th rifles deployed in skirmish order before them.
The French entered on blinds which at the ranges we played without cover was probably unnecessary but it was fun nonetheless. More so because I had kept the existence of the French 4 pounder hidden from the allies. The French deployed that cannon on the highest hill available to them, giving it a clear field a fire on the whole battlefield. In the end however, the gun did little damage.
Half of the Dragoons were dismounted and made their way towards the Allied forces just below the road. The longer ranges of the Baker rifles caused a great deal of damage to them and one group was quickly forced off the field.
The mounted Dragoons suffered a different issue. By an accident in the placing of the blinds, the two groups of mounted dragoons ended up on opposite flanks. Apparently an order went astray or was misunderstood. This meant that these two groups could not easily make a formation with one right on the road to the bridge and the other on the extreme right of the French line.
The Dragoons on the road suffered quite a bit of fire from the rifles but what survived charged. The rifles were caught by surprise and one group was cut down leaving only a single riflemen to run off in terror. Worse than that, The Allied commander Lt Devon Kellogg, was grievously wounded and would play no further part in this fight. The Irishmen did stand the charge however. They were poor troops but their superior numbers held out and the horsemen were bounced back.
A similar situation occurred upon the other flank. France’s Sergeant Martin charged forward on another group of riflemen who again suffered badly. Seeing the danger, Major O’Higgins had brought his reserve off the bridge and formed them in a line behind the rifles. This action saved the day. The fisticuffs were not decided for three rounds and that wing of the Dragoons had lost too many men to continue. The game ended an allied success!
Once again, Muster at Williamsburg proved to be a great Convention to attend. The games were all successful and enjoyed by those who participated and in some cases also attracted some observers. Many people spoke to me about Chain of Command and their high opinion of the rules, that even included one man who was running a game with another “leading brand” of WWII rules.
I met several people who were interested in playing more often and now may little club is considering offering an occasional game day. This would be sort of A one day mini convention. We are already looking for sites to try to make that happen. If this happens, we can be sure that TooFatLardies games will be much in demand there. Indeed, we had one other Sharp Practice game on offer at the convention, and introductory scenario by one of the men that played in my World war two game.
As an aside, I had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Legan, one of the Lardies most popular authors, having penned Platoon Forward and Squadron Forward. I was great to talk to him, a fellow Lardy Blogger, and we have plans to get together for some games.
Finally one of the vendors, my friend Steve at Age of Glory was selling some Too Fat Lardies product. He had Chain of Command, Mud and Blood and Sharp Practice which seemed to be selling successfully throughout the weekend. I think it was a successful convention in general and I for one am pleased at what seems to be an increased acknowledgment of all that is good and Lardy!
Our thanks to Ron for his report and, more importantly, his hard work and effort in running three games with three lots of figures, terrain and scenarios. Ron, you put us to shame! That final game, with the Irlanda deployed out to protect the bridge looks truly stunning. As stated above, we have some exciting news coming up in the next few days about Lard in the USA, so watch this space.
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