Monday, 13 June 2011

The Rain & Spain

What a Sunday. Funny how the weather forecasters only get it right when they say it’s going to throw it down all day. The barbecue therefore failed to materialise and we had to cook everything in the oven.

Still, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sunday dawned bright & early as Mrs T was off with the Brownies on a day trip. At this point the sun was still shining. Anyhow, regardless of this I was in the garage by 8:45 setting the game up. I was supposed to do this Saturday afternoon but got a dose of Real Life, shuttling back and forwards between my parent’s house, the hospital and the in-laws. The hospital is trying to send my father home following a fall and there’s piles of paper to read through, most of which were to do with Risk Assessments and the Equality Policy. What we need to know could have been printed on two sides of A4, most probably. Then I had to give a tutorial to my father-in-law on how digital pictures are uploaded on to PCs. It does help if you have all the bits.

So, back to Sunday. Playtests so far have been on a standard 6’ x 4’ table and my feeling is that this has been a bit small so I was really looking forward to upsizing to my garage table which can be up to 12’ x 5’. For this game we were on about 9’ x 5’. I really wanted to get as many terrain and unit elements into the game so I could to see how it all works together. Or doesn’t. For this one we had the hills, roads, olive groves, woods, village, dry river bed and open spaces. The forces included everything in my boxes painted to date with the exception of two units of militia and a couple of FT-17s.

So the Nationalists had three battalions of SFL, each with a tabor of Moroccans, plus some a regular army battalion and a unit of falangists. They were supported by three field guns and three Panzer 1s.

The Republicans had 4 battalions of IBs, two of Asaltos and three Popular army. The IBs had an Atk battery as wel,l then they also had two field guns and three T-26s between them.

Both forces were contesting the small village made up of with my newly painted Hovels, complete with roadside shrine.

There were just two of us to start with so I got to play with the Republicans. I rarely get a chance to play in my own games so this was a treat. On this occasion the army command structures were evenly matched, so there was no advantage to either side on the initiative roll which I won on the first turn.

That was really the only thing that went well at the start of the game. I started off by bombarding the Nationalist gun position. This would suppress their fire so my troops could cross the open ground. This was working a treat and I then put in an air strike on the Nationalist gun position to try to put that out of operation. Alas this overshot and ended up landing off table. The Nationalists responded with an air strike (quote my opponent “Hadn’t thought of doing that”) which hit my guns and pinned them. This lifted their barrage on the Nationalist gun position that then proceeded to get stuck into my guns and some units moving in the open.

Whilst my IBs worked through the olive grove on my left and infiltrated towards the village up the dry river bed I pushed one of my T-26s forward aggressively to deter the Nationalist advance. Alas I ran into a clear line of sight from one of their field guns which succeeded in knocking out the vehicle with its first shot.

The brigade on my right moved up a bit too slowly and a unit of SFL occupied the key wood on that flank before I could. In the centre the remaining two tanks headed up towards the village, slower as they were off road. This eventually afforded them an excellent view of the Pz1s powering up the road in the Nationalist rear and a fine piece of shooting saw one of them explode into a fireball.

On my left the IB advance through the olive grove got mis-timed with the result that the opposing falangist unit made it to the wall first and devastated one of the battalions with small arms fire. I was unable to dislodge them and their supporting regular army unit despite using the anti-tank gun in support.

The fight round the village raged most of the day, with first one unit occupying it before being thrown out in a counter attack, then the reverse happening. This was a very bloody phase of the battle, and whilst it gave a realistic outcome the mechanisms weren’t working as well as I might have hoped.

It got a bit desperate for the Nats and they were reduced to making close assault attacks on the T-26's to drive them off. Here's a picture of some Moroccans dying spectacularly in a rather pathetic attempt.

My problem was that I couldn’t move enough units up because they were pinned in the open by artillery fire; the Nationalist problem was my tanks could provide good close support with their main weapons to suppress the defenders whilst I got into position. They had a vain attempt to drive me off by using a Pz1 with armoured piercing bullets at point blank range but to no avail. That Pz1 likewise succumbed to the might of the T-26’s 45mm. This was enough to scare off their remaining vehicle, which scuttled off to the right flank to bolster their position there. I’d started to press forward on my right and was making good progress.

Our left flank had been forced back into a defensive posture. The old 75’s on the hill top had been destroyed and a lonely IB battalion was hunkered down behind a wall, trying not to be wiped out. This meant that their opponents could switch to the village meat grinder, and duly piled into the blood bath in the centre.

When we finished, after about 7 hours, both sides had fought themselves to a standstill. The Nationalists were holding on to the village, just, but could easily be dislodged at any time. In many ways it looked like a typical Republican offensive. Well supplied, and well manned it just couldn’t go that extra mile and break through. On the day some of this was due to luck (we never got as many air strikes, and when we did they never hit anything), some of it down to completely misjudged tactics.

The overall day was very enjoyable, although I never really enjoy barbecue food that hasn’t actually been barbecued. The game itself showed up some holes and issues that needed dealing with. I didn’t get any answers whilst playing, but I woke up this morning with most of the ideas properly formed.

So a quick re-write and back to it on Thursday evening, I think.

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