Command Con VII Convention Report
Big Muddy moved Barracks Battles to a new venue in the spring of 2006 to the Westport Sheraton Hotel. Command Con was moved to the Sheraton Westport this fall. With that move Command Con VII 2006 was one of the best Command Con's I have attended. The facility is clean and has many near by restaurants. The temperature control was good with one exception. It was well attended by vendors including several new ones. My only complaint was the occasional smokey air that drifted in from the bar next door to the convention area.
I played three games and hosted two of my own games.
The first game I played was an Eastern Front game hosted by convention chairman Dave Harrison. The scenario was a German breakout at Kursk lead by a company of PZIV Tigers and a Panzer Grenadier company. The objective was to breakout of the bridgehead and advance off the map with the Tigers. Holding the Germans back were Russian fortifications. These fortifications included pill boxes and trenches on the right flank and trenches on the left flank. The trenches were manned by infantry with twelve KV2's dug in with the left flank trenches.
Our strategy was to attack the KV2's on the left supported by an infantry platoon. Once the KV2's were neutralized the Tigers would turn onto the road and move off the table. Another platoon was to hold for a few turns and assault the right flank pill boxes. Though good, this strategy was flawed. The fortifications were strong and any German infantry caught in the open was chewed up pretty badly. Additionally the KV1's best armor was on the front which was pretty hard to pastorate. The Tigers had to get close to ensure automatic hits and this allowed the KV2's to destroy the Tigers at the same time. With only five Tigers it was slow going. The Russians kept up mortar fire on the German held position. The KV1's took out three STUGIII that were supporting the infantry on the left flank attack. They also destroyed two of the Tigers. We had a 120mm mortar unit in our command but didn't use it effectively until late in the game. We began to drop smoke on the Russian pillboxes and were able to get around them with infantry and close assault them one at a time from the flank and rear. We placed smoke on the left flank trenches stopping the Russian mortars and giving the German infantry cover as they closed on the left flank. Our Tigers turned to face the Russian tank brigade coming to counter attack. The three remaining Tigers took out several T34's and a KV1, but it was too late and the Tigers were over whelmed by the T34's.
The second game I played was Mark Johnson's Napoleonic Game. The French were attacking the extreme right flank of the Russians at Borodino. The French objective was to force the Russians out of a village and create a bridgehead across a river. This would flank the main Russian army and pave the way for a great French victory.
Our strategy was simple: the cavalry on our left was to hold the Russian cavalry off the flank of our main attack. An infantry force of three regiments was in the middle to fix a similar sized force of Russian infantry. The main attack was to be on the French right directed at the town. This force was four regiments and four medium guns. Reinforcements would come in on the extreme French Right with four heavy guns and three regiments of infantry.
The Russians deployed horse artillery with their cavalry. The Russian cavalry immediately charged the infantry while the French cavalry responded with counter charges. The French right did some skirmishing but used its artillery to shell the village. The cavalry charges and counter charges consumed most of the game. The French infantry had to retire to behind the river because the Russian cavalry threatened its flank. Russian infantry outside of the village moved up to attack the retiring French. As the French regiments pulled back they unmasked the French battery's which opened up on the advancing Russians. The Russian move in column was mauled by the French guns. This forced them to deploy in line. Several more artillery hits forced the Russians to turn around and move back. Arrival of a heavy French cavalry regiment forced another of the Russian infantry regiments back. The French artillery helped propelled the Russians further back with hits on both regiments in the rear as they retired.
On the French Right the newly arrived infantry and heavy artillery forced a crossing of the river. The flanked the Russians in the town. The other attack force crossed the river on the bridge open the barricade. The Russians in the town were beginning to fall back and exit the town.
The game ended as the French infantry prepared to charge the rear and flank of the retiring Russians. The last game I played was Caveman, a wild game of grunts and gestures. Three players on a side vied to capture the other side's female. Combat was RLS, rock, spear leaf and rewards were shiny rocks. Measurement was also simple and involved using fingers, hands and forearms. Needless to say it was a wild time with laughter heard all around the convention as grunts and groans and occasional facial and hand gestures were used to communicate. Our side won.
Games HostedI hosted two games, "A Rude Awakening" and "It's the Push". I have GM'd both games at three cons so far and additionally one play test each.
A Rude Awakening
In "A Rude Awakening" the British carrier HMS Illustrious is attacked by Italian and German aircraft. There was a four plane CAP for the Illustrious. The Italian SM79 bombers attacked with torpedoes at low level. They avoided the British CAP by flying directly at the fighters. This move forced the fighters to turn around and follow the Italians. The fighters had the same level speed as the bombers so it was almost impossible to catch the bombers in time to make any more than some long range attacks. The Italian made a mistake by not descending to wave top 1 early enough. The SM79's had to weave back and forth a couple turns while dropping to the lower altitude. This forced them to fly longer in through the British FLAK. The mistake proved fatal to the Italians. No Italian bomber was able to drop its torpedo on the HMS Illustrious. Three were shot down and one aborted.
The Germans were making their approach unmolested by any CAP. The two flights of nine each split up on the approach so there were four flights attack the carrier. As they approached AA took its toll on the German JU87B dive bombers. Even with the AA they got several hits on the carrier and one of the escorts. The attack eventually left the both carrier HMS Illustrious and one destroyer dead in the water. An Axis victory. We played the game with new dive bombing rules; additionally we discussed how misses should be handled with the possibility of damaging the target. I have added both to the Rules Page.
It's the Push
This game turned into an American disaster. The Americans had to occupy the town and exit off the board. They had two separate forces to accomplish these objectives. The attack on the town succeeded and by the tenth turn the Germans had been pushed back to the back edges of the town. There was a good chance that the Americans could've pushed the remaining Germans out of the town by the end of turn twelve and accomplished that objective.
On the other hand the other US force met with disaster. The objective was to move off the map. The tanks and halftracks came on in good order and moved to go around the left flank of the town between the town and a hill. The Germans had played three infantry squads and two PAK40 75mm anti tank guns on the hill. These units were all dug in. The German ATG opened up on the lead tanks at close range (4"). The US Task Force commander forgetting his orders turned all of his armor towards the attacking Germans and counter attacked. After taking several hits on his half tracks and he dismounted all of his infantry. By the fourth turn he was engaged with the Germans and losing tanks, half tracks and infantry. He was reminded of his objective on turn six. Somewhere around turn eight the called in artillery to lay down a barrage on the German positions on the hill. His units though were too close and several tanks and infantry units were hit and suppressed. On turn eight the commander was reminded again of his objective and the time limit. On turn nine he remounted his remaining infantry and attempted to move around the town. By turn nine the PAK40's on the hill had been destroyed. As the column of half tracks moved into the open area between the town and the woods the German 88mm ATG opened fire on the half tracks taking out both the track and the infantry riding inside. On turn 10 the last US tank was destroyed and the remaining half tracks were destroyed or suppressed by the Germans.
This game was very different from the previous games because one of the US players forgot his objective and fought it out with the German positions. German Victory.