Friday, 2 April 2010

The Return of Ivan

So Good Friday. A day off work, - why not have a wargame?

The membership of our local group was heavily depleted, - after all it is the long Easter weekend so people have plans and our Vicar is busy for some reason - so there was just three of us. Having recently watched "Admiral" I decided to get out the Russian Civil War kit for the first time in quite a while.

We use several sets of rules for the RCW depending on the level of resolution we want to play. For operational level games we use a variant of Chris Kemp's "Not Quite Mechanised" ("NQM") which you can download for free on the internet. In this guise we call them "Not Quite Mensheviks" just to show off.

For lower level games we have played the Perfect Captain's "Red Actions". These are very popular and some of those who know the period (eg the chap who runs the excellent Pygmy Wars website) think they capture the period. I'm not convinced. There's a lot of factors to very little effect and too many counters for my liking. There's almost a substitution of chrome for fundamental period design. Plus it really is set at too low a level. So for regimental and divisional level games we use "Red Army, White Guards" which you can find for free on the internet as well. These are a set of card activated, square based rules.

We played on my 6' x 4' put me up tabletop, which gave us a playing area of 12 by 8 squares or the equivalent of about 2 1/2 miles by 3 1/2 miles. I put one and a half White infantry regiments (6 battalions) supported by a cavalry brigade up against twice that number of Reds, supported by an artillery brigade and some armoured cars.

The Whites were holding the line of a railway and I set up quite a bit of wooded area to enable a bit of movement, - because in this period if you have too much open space nothing moves much as soon as the MGs get set up.

(For those who care the roads are home made and the buildings are mostly Peter Pig resin. The fences are scratch built and the trees come from all over the place. The green "blobs" represent a hill crest with the squares round them being forward and reverse slopes).

The Whites put their full strength conscript regiment (four battalions) into the fortified railway buildings with the right flank held by a couple of officer battalions in the woods and the cavalry out on the left. The Reds deployed the infantry mostly in the middle with cavalry split left and right, suported by artillery on the left and the armoured cars (including a half complete scratch built Garford) on the right. The Red plan was to get the cavalry round the flanks to distrct the Whites sufficiently so they could launch the attack on the centre.

In this picture you can see the Red infantry pushing forwards and encountering the White cavalry screen. The white rings represent potential hits on a unit. You can also see the playing cards about to be turned over to give unit move sequence. At the bottom you can see the Red artillery deployed having taken some serious fire from the White MGs in the railway buildings.

Over all the plan worked beyond the Red's wildest dreams. Due to some lucky card drawing for movement sequences and basically some rather uncertain play by the Whites the Red cavalry caused much disruption in rear areas, pinning the Whites in place for the Red assault. The Red armoured cars also performed admirably, their boldness in attack being considerably enhanced once the White artillery had been overrun by the rampaging Red cavalry.

The Whites threw their hand in after about three hours of play, having been surrounded and pinned in place. We did not play through the final grand assault to spare the humiliation entailed.

Overall a very enjoyable afternoon's game. I'm a bit rusty with the rules so we had a few hiccups but it went well enough for us to want to revisit the East in the near future.

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