Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gaming Furlough

Hello All,

It has been awhile since I posted and I figured it is time to update this project.  This entry unlike the rest is going to diverge away from my normal gaming topic and provide an update on why I have not been gaming the past three plus months.
As I last reported I was preparing for a upcoming Military deployment.  Now that is where I am at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo as part of a Multi-national NATO peace keeping force.
I was reassigned to the HQ  157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade this past Summer as they were short an officer and I filled the primary staff position of S1 (Personnel officer).  Ironically the 157th MEB motto is “Iron Brigade” so I am thinking that fate played a nasty trick on me. ;)

HHC 157th MEB along with a Platoon from the 32nd MP Company left WI in Mid September to start our pre-deployment training at Camp Atterbury, IN (CAIN).  We were at CAIN for about six weeks where we focused on individual warrior tasks such as weapons qualification, land navigation, European drivers training and many others.

At CAIN we were joined by other U.S. units that would form the nucleus of our Multi-National Battle Group when we arrived in Kosovo.  These units included and aviation battalion, part of a cavalry squadron, a medical company, and several other small specialized units to round out the over 700 U.S contingent of the task force.
Our training at CAIN culminated with a weeklong Command Post Exercise (CPX) at the end of October.  The CPX focused on the leadership and staff functions by using computer generated scenarios that represented issues we may face during our year long deployment in Kosovo.  At the end of October we packed up and left CAIN and headed to Joint Military Regional Training Center (JMRTC) in Hoehenfels Germany.
At JMRTC we again conducted an extended exercise that was the capstone of our pre-deployment training and tested much of what we had learned prior to deployment and while at CAIN.  This time it was not just a computer simulation, but a full out exercise with subordinate troops actually conducting the missions we planned at the HQ.  I am happy to report that we passed with flying colors and were cleared to move on to our Mission in Kosovo.  Just before Thanksgiving we again packed up and flew out to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.
At this point I along with a good part of the command staff took a detour to Heidelberg, Germany to receive a number of briefings and make office calls with the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) staff.  After more than two months of constant training and extremely long days this was a welcome break for me.  Even more so as we were able to make a few sightseeing stops and visited the ancient walled city of Rothenburg, Germany as well as downtown Heidelberg and the Heidelberg castle which as a history nut I very much appreciated. 

I had been to Germany twice before, but never outside an airport. After our short three day excursion in Germany we also joined the rest of the unit late the night before Thanksgiving.
After a short day off for the holiday to acclimate and enjoy a good Thanksgiving meal we promptly started the Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority (RIP/TOA) process.  This is where the outgoing unit educates and trains the incoming unit on policies and procedures as well as familiarization of the operating environment before they leave.  Typically the process last 2-3 weeks and culminates with the TOA ceremony. 

During this process we also were introduced to the other multi-national units that would serve under us for the first time.  They included units from nine other countries that contribute to the Kosovo Forces (KFOR).  These nations currently include: Turkey, Poland, Greece, France, Germany, Morroco, Ukraine, Armenia and Romania.   After a grueling two and a half weeks of long days trying to extract all the knowledge we could from out predecessors the day of our TOA ceremony finally arrived on 10 December 2011.

The ceremony is a very big deal as it is presided over by the KFOR commander a German Major General.  In addition, we expected several other flag officers including the Commander of USAREUR a three start general.  As the S1 I played a prominent role in the ceremony. As the Adjutant it was my duty to form the troops (including the multi-national members) and start the ceremony.  If anyone is familiar with a formal military ceremony I did do the Adjutant’s walk.

The Ceremony lasted about an hour and went off without any incident and marked the moment when the 157th MEB officially took command of the Multi-National Battle Group- East (MNBG-E).
Our counterparts we replaced left the next day.  Since then we have been very busy getting into our routine and establishing operations.  Technically Kosovo is a peacekeeping operation and it is our job to assist the institutions in Kosovo such as the police to maintain a safe and secure environment (SASE).  If all had gone as planned we would be one of the last commands to perform this mission.  Unfortunately the situation in Kosovo dramatically changed in the North this past summer and tensions have again arisen between competitor groups.  The groups primarily consist of Kosovo Serbs, Kosovo Albanians and organized crime.  At times it has flared up in the north to the point where the Kosovo Serbs and organized crime have established many road blocks to prevent freedom of movement for the government of Kosovo as well as KFOR and in extreme cases shots riots have broken out and shots have been exchanged.
During our tenure here we hope to reverse this course and get things back o track for a political solution.   There never will be a military solution here, so we can only hope to set the table for the politicians to sit down and work things out so we can again get on track to withdraw from Kosovo and let the government of Kosovo whatever that may end up being fully take over with minimal or no NATO involvement.
So that is where I have been and what I have been up to for the past three plus months and has kept me away from my passion of gaming as well as my beloved family.  Unfortunately I cannot bring my family here, but maybe in a small way I can bring some of my love of gaming to Kosovo.
I have already missed several great gaming conventions and a few new gaming releases such as the latest Axis and Allies War at Sea set.  I recently read that Wings of War will now be Wings of Glory under Ares games and is due for a new release next month which I look forward to.  I will not have much time for gaming distractions over here with my limited free time.  One thing I hope to do is update this blog with several AARs form the past.  I created this blog so I could capture all my AARs and how to posts that I had previously posted on various web forums in one place.  Since I cannot physically game here I plan to take some time over the next nine months or so and go back and track down many of the blasts from the past and re-document them here you your reading enjoyment.  Who knows, with a couple of new starter releases on the horizon I may be tempted to order a small distraction and provide some new material as well. J
I hope everyone enjoyed a Merry Christmas and I wish you all the best in the New Year.

More gaming action to come, stay tuned…….

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Final Sortie-Wings of War

Next week I will depart for another military deployment.  As a result my navies, armies and airforces will be in drydock, on furlough and in the hanger for the next year.

This past wednesday one of my good gaming buddies (Mike) came north to WI for a final gaming outing.  One of the games we played was Wings of War (WWI).  I set up a scenario that included a total of 14 planes (7 on each side) including reinforcements.

The scenario was a bombing mission for the allies to knock out a forward German airfield.

Initial deployments: included a  British bombing group of three two seaters with 2 escorts:

The allies also had a Snipe and Camel in reserve that could enter the game along the edge anythime after turn 2:

Intially Allies faced two german patrols including Albatros D IIIs and DVs.  Additioanlly the German had deployed two ballons with a barrage so that no planes could fly between the ballons unless one balloon was eliminated which forced the British player to choose which route to take to the target.

Additionally the Germans had three DR Is in reserve at the airfield.  On the turn after the allied bombers crossed the river the DRIs including the feared Red Barron could begin to maunuer to the run way and take off by executing two straight manuevers.  While doing so they were subseptible to allied straffing.

Points were scored as follows.

2Pts for every plane shot down
1 Pt for ever building on the airfield bomber
1 Pt for every airplane forced or voluntarily retreated from the map

Victory Conditions:
British: Bomb at least two buildings and score more points
Germans: Defend the airfiled and score more points

The British player (Mike) made a bold move on turn 1 and sent his bombers to the left while his two escorts went right.  As a result two seperate battles evolved as one German Patrol engaged the two SE 5s while the other engaged the three unescorted bombers.

The Geman player (myself) attempted to bypass the British scouts after exchanging inital volleies and go after the bombers to prevent them from getting to the airfield.  The Brirish scouts were deadly though and quickly downed one of the DIIIs by concentrating their fire and some very unlucky damage draws on my part.

The German fire was equally  as deadly for the British Bombers and quickly claimed the lead bomber with an explosion.

The Battle then turned into a test of wills.  The DVs executed an imellum turn as stayed hot on the tail of the remaining teo bombers while taking fire from the tail gunners and the newly arrived British reinforcements in the way of a Camel.

The Germans scored another lucky hit eliminating an observer and silencing the rear gun of a two seater  and then destroying it leaving only the DH4 to complete the bombing mission.

Since the Bombers had crossed the river the DRIs started thie manuevers to take off.

They would not do so unmolested though as a SE5 quickly swooped in straffing them as the took off.

A Fierce Melee soon ensued over the forward airbase as the bomber made the first pass.  Unfortunately for the allies the pilot misjudged his target and overshot the hanger with the first bomb run.

With the Three Foker DRIs now in the fight it did not look good for the British and a Camel was forced to the ground by the close range fire from two directions.

The Allies would claim one more victim in the form of Rahn DR1, but it was two little to late as the observer in the DH4 was killed and it was taking damage.

At this point we elected to call the game as it was no longer possible for he British player to achieve victory although the game itself was close with both sides losing 3 planes up to that point.

Overall a very successful scenario worthy of trying agian some day when I return to flying after my leave of absence from the friendly skies. ;)

Hope you enjoyed.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Battle of the River Plate - Naval Thunder

This is one of the scenarios included in the Naval Thunder expansion "Bitter Rivals".  It is one of my personal favorites to use when teaching new players or for just a quick game.

This is a AAR of  a rousing game I played with my two boys.  My eldest son and I took command of the British while my younger son commanded the Admiral Graf Spee.  As with all my WWII games the models are 1/1800 Wizard of the Coast "War at Sea".

Exeter and Graf Spee immediately began exchanging salvos at range. While the Achilles and Ajax rushed to the scene.
British Gunnery was deadly accurate or lucky this day as the Exeter was able to score a critical hit at long range taking out the aft Main turret on the Graf Spee cutting her main guns by 50%.

The Graf Spee still proved a formidable foe even with only 3 x11" guns remaining.  As the distance continued to close Graf Spee pummeled the HMS Exeter while Achilles and Ajax continued to approach unmolested.

The Main and secondary guns of the Graf Spee tore into the Exeter and proved to much for the old cruiser as she was taking on water and developed a severe list.

As the other two Cruisers began to pour a withering fire into Graf Spee it proved too late for Exeter as she slowly rolled over and sank.

Graf Spee immediately turned her secondaries on Achilles scoring multiple hits at short range.

Despite pounding the British cruisers with her own remaining guns the combined fire from both  British ships proved too much and the Graf Spee was soon overwhelmed herself succumbing to the fires started from her earlier exchange with Exeter and the constant barage from Achilles and Ajax.

As the range was now point blank the British cruisers launched a salvo of torpedoes which sent the mighty German raider to the depths of the South Atlantic.

Again this proved a very fun, but short scenario as it was done in under an hour.  Taking out a main turret on the Graf Spee early proved fatal as she was never able to split her fire between the two British forces.

In the end it was a Draw as the Exeter was sunk, but so what the Graf Spee while both the Achilles and Ajax survived the encounter albeit with heavy damage themselves.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

AAM 3D terrain- Italy vs. UK with AAR

This was a Axis and Allies Minis scenario I put together and played this past year.  The terrain used is GHQ 4" hexes terrain maker system.


Italy was on the defense with 300 pts and Britain/commonwealth on the offense with 351 pts.
Italy set up in a fixed linear defense and the Allies started off the map deploying on their first turn.

Italian Army:

Common Wealth Army:

The Map:

The Italians are set up up already in a static linear defense with some Armored reinforcements.  If the British successfully mass and penetrate Italy will have a hard time winning.

There  three Objectives: Bridge, Pass and supply depot

Game Length: 10 turns


Played this scenario for about 4 hours today resolving this conflict.  The scenario played very well and was pretty evenly matched with the terrain that the Allies had to negotiate.
Initially the teams were Myself and a friend as the Allies vs. his 15yr old son who wanted to be Italy.

Early on the Allies were bogged down advancing across the sand and trying to make movement roles to get into cover.

The Italians held their ground while the allies made the slow advance.

Soon the Italian Commander ("Luigi") became bored with the defense and decided the best defense was a good offense.

At one point the Italian commander was heard to say "I should either retreat or charge" while his subordinates where asking "whatever happened to holding our ground?"

The bold dash forward by the Italian armor leaving cover stalled the advance, but soon showed its weakness as the South Africans were able to outflank the left wing of the Italian defense and make a drive for the Supply depot.

Italian reserves were forced to re-deploy weakening the right flank.  The Italian commander was soon wishing he had those units back that boldly charged forward.

After a lunch break my eldest son decided to join us and help the Italian cause.  This he did well with some truly unholy die rolling which blunted the Allied assault on the right.

In the end the Italians had sacrificed to boldly and the British were able to secure the Pass as well as the bridge on the right flank.  The Italians defended the Supply Depot well, but with the collapse of the Right and center it was only a matter of time before British would move across the rear of the Italian line and capture that as well.

The Italian commander saw the error of his ways and respectfully asked for favorable surrender terms at the end of Turn 8 as common wealth infantry were preparing to roll up his final position.

Overall a great day of gaming.  Not sure there is much I would change with the scenario itself.  We agreed to make it a 10 turn game and had the Italian commander been a bit more patient and let the Allies come to him I think the results could have gone either way. 

The only thing I really need to do is make some more terrain so I can host more large scale battles using the 3D hexes.  I have plenty of hexes to be made and just need to find the time. ;)

Friday, May 6, 2011

USN Battleship Division 9 - WWI

USN Contribution to the Grand Fleet in WWI was Battleship Division 9 or the 6th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet

From Wikepedia:

United States Battleship Division Nine was a division of four, later five, dreadnought battleships of the United States Navy's Atlantic Fleet that constituted the American contribution to the British Grand Fleet during World War I. Although the U.S. entered the war on 6 April 1917, hesitation among senior officers of the U.S. Navy as to the wisdom of dividing the American battle fleet prevented the immediate dispatch of any capital ships for service in the war zone. Following a direct request from the British Admiralty and a series of high level staff meetings, American opinion changed, and Battleship Division Nine joined the Grand Fleet on 7 December 1917. Within that organization, the Division served as the Sixth Battle Squadron.
While serving with the Grand Fleet, Battleship Division Nine was forced to adapt quickly to unfamiliar British methods and standards. New signals and maneuvers were adopted relatively smoothly, while more stringent gunnery standards proved more difficult to achieve. On a personal level, relations between American and British officers and men were notably cordial. Throughout 1918, the Division participated in all major Grand Fleet exercises and deployments, as well as conducting several detached convoy missions in the North Sea. Following the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, Battleship Division Nine was present for the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet on November 21, 1918. On December 1, 1918, the Division departed from the Grand Fleet to return to the U.S.
Although Battleship Division Nine's service was limited mainly to convoy duty and the maintenance of the blockade of the German coast, its presence greatly augmented the strength of the Grand Fleet, thus making major combat between the British and German fleets even more unlikely in 1918. By helping to keep the High Seas Fleet effectively blockaded in port, Battleship Division Nine played a role in ensuring Allied control of the oceans.


Four Battleships originally sent Dec 1917:

USS New York BB-34

USS Delaware BB-28

USS Florida BB-30

USS Wyoming BB-32

fifth Battleship joined the Squadron in Feb 1918:

USS Texas BB-35

Joined the Squadron July 1918 to replace USS Delaware:

USS Arkansas BB-33

Added DD Support USS Cassin Class:

Models are 1/2400 GHQ Micronaughts

Armies in the making- Returning to ACW Gaming in 10mm

It has been along time since I have done any ACW Mini gaming.  The last rules I played were the Original Brigade level Fire and Fury and well as a home brew version of fields of Honor.

Recently I discovered that a new version of Fire and Fury has been release, "Regimental Fire and Fury". 

I picked up a copy and was instantly impressed.  This was the game I had always been looking for, capable for fighting larger battles or small level skirmishes without alot of troops.  Better yet my son was interested in playing.  When a 14 yr old tells you he will spend time playing a war game you need to strike while the iron is hot.

Unfortunately, I had no troops.  Several years ago I had sold off the last of my painted 15mm armies when my children were young and there was no hope of playing again anytime soon.

What to do?  I must re-build of course.  At the recommendation of my LGS I decided to go even smaller and give 10mm a try.  The figs are still of decent quality and paint up just as quick.  Before I knew it I had dozens of craft sticks with primed soldiers ready to paint.  Several hours later I had one regiment complete. :(

OK I remembered this going faster.  As luck would have it I attended a con the following weekend.  What did I find in the flea market...a whole army work of painted and unmounted 10mm infantry both Union and Confederate.  It was perfect.  Additionally I found someone to help me paint the primed minis I already had thus doubling the size of my intended forces.  Now in a matter of hours of basing and touching up I had close to 4 brigades worth of troops.

Two weeks later I finished painting the various Arty limbers, cannon, commanders, other infantry command stands and markers I doubled my force again bringing the total up to 8 brigades with 4 on each side, finally ready to take the field and do battle.

With a free weekend on the horizon we will now be able to get out the terrain and fashion our first brigade level skirmish. ;)

More to come.......

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wings of War in the Pacific "Return to the Ship" -Scenario with AAR

I developed this scenario about a year ago and it has become one of our favorites so i thought I would share.  The AAR is over a year old and uses some custom models I built using AIR200 models before the official ones were released.

2nd wave of the Attack on Pearl Harbor has just been completed.  The IJN planes are making there way back to the fleet. The planes include an observation VAl which stayed back to asses damage done during the attack.  The observer will report back to Nagumo so he can determine if a 3rd attack wave is needed.  Upon leaving the Harbor the Val took some shrapnel in the engine cowling and is losing oil pressure.  The pilot has skillfully adjusted for the damage and is nursing the wounded plane back to the fleet along with another Val and a fighter escort. 

Admiral Halsey in a desperate attempt to locate and destroy the enemy has launched numerous scout planes.  Two fighters call in that they have intercepted a radio transmission from an American Pilot claiming he is in pursuit of Japanese planes.  They are ordered to intercept as Halsey prepares to launch everything he has to throw at the Japanese pending a good bearing on the Japanese fleet.

IJN:2 Zero
2 Vals (both have been damaged and can only fly at slow speed)
Location: two damage rulers from the South edge of the Table

US:Starts with a lone P-40 at the south edge of the table
After turn three 2 Wildcats enter from the from the middle South west edge of the table

-Japanese Exit far side of the table with at least 1 Val (observation plane) and No U.S. in pursuit.

-U.S. Objective Destroy the Vals and pursue the IJN to the learn where they are heading in hopes of discovering the Japanese fleet location.

Special instructions:
 (1 val will be secretly marked as the observer)

January 26, 2010

Overall this mission was very successful and all were excited to play it.

We ended up with 5 players.  I controlled the Vals as a semi neutral.  One player flew the two zeros and then one player flew the P-40 and one Wildcat while another flew the last wildcat.

Both teams were briefed separately on the objectives.

If a US plane crossed the last 1/4 of the Northern playing surface the fleet would be spotted and a third Zero (CAP would appear).  Only the IJN player knew this.

IJN Mission:
Get Wounded Val off the North end of the Map.  Prevent a US plan from spotting the fleet and reporting back.

US mission:
Destroy IJN Planes and locate the fleet.

Initial deployment with one val wounded and could only move at Slow Speed (permanently marked with Smoke)  This was the IJN commander known only to the IJN players.:

P-40 in hot pursuit while two zeros perform a split S, but overshoot their target in a flyby exposing the VALS they are suppose to protect:

P-40 delivers some crucial blows to the VAL while the Zeros re-orientate and pick up the P-40  Unknown the the IJN two Wildcats from the Enterprise Enter the fray with the start of the 4th turn while the Zeros are out of position:

P-40 Takes a alot of damage and finally splashes:

Vals spit up in a attempt to shake off the pursuer and divide the fire...hopefully against the wrong Target while getting off some good shots with the tail gun actually flaming a wildcat:

Fighters jockey for position while one VAL makes a run for it while the second is forces to circle back around to get back on course:

One Wildcat succumbs to fires along with a Zero as the Val gets back on course and attempt to make a run for it.  Unfortunately, the Wildcat makes a turn just at the right time getting a shot off bringing down the wounded VAL:

The Wildcat then broke off as the Zero retreated back toward the fleet undiscovered IJN Fleet just over the horizon:

In the end it was a draw more or less a draw:

U.S. Successfully shot down the IJN Command plane preventing the report to Admiral Nagumo....as a result Nagumo makes the fateful decision to withdraw leaving many valuable targets behind at Pearl Harbor which will allow it to be be a vital base to rebuild from in the months to come.

IJN Successfully kept the fleets location a secret thus thwarting Admiral Halsey in his attempt to locate them and attempt to exact revenge against the Pearl Harbor Attackers.