Another go with these enjoyable, yet frustratingly written rules.

We played another scenario from the Blenneville Or Bust! supplement with Stephen using his Yanks against my Germans. I had two StuGs and two Tigers backing up a mixed Company of Fallschirmjaeger and Infantry against ten Shermans and a full Armoured Infantry Company with some Recon assets. We both had access to air power, although the USSAF had rocket-armed Jabos, whilst Luftwaffe had MG strafing only.

I did manage to brew five Shermans but lost one Tiger to laser guided munitions of the Jabo (and the second Tiger nearby was lucky to escape unscathed) whilst my two StuGs retired with guns knocked out.

My Infantry were badly handled by Yank tank fire and incessant 60mm mortar attention (the Yanks had four  of these annoying weapons).

We failed to finish but I think it would have been hard for me to wrest control of the bridge objective from the Yanks.

Again we came up against some rules issues this time being unable to find any rules covering on-table mortar fire!! Not covered directly (amazingly!) in the actual rules but is in the late war supplement Battle for Liberation. Another was use of MGs on half-tracks, with rules covering their firing included but not how to crew them. Again I found an answer later in another supplement (a no-brainer as such but at least it spells out that you need to leave crew to drive a half-track and two additional crew to fire any onboard MG at full effect).

Such issues are very annoying with IABSM especially with such basic stuff, easily enough resolved but much time wasted trying to decide what rules say, or don't say and making a house rule.

Still an enjoyable game and we both like the scale of IABSM and its system overall, but just wish the writing was a tad 'tighter' and less left to Kriegspiel approach.

Sergeant Steiner

 
 
 
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Another try with IABSM this time using a scenario from the Bashnya Or Bust! supplement.

I was Germans defenders and Stephen used his Russian hordes to attack near the fictional village of Holm. We failed to finish the game with things firmly in the balance.

As ever a few 'what do we do here' moments with the rules but thrashed out a couple more house rulings.

We also learnt a few nuances regarding the use of company commanders and the potential danger of occupying buildings! The Dice Demon Steve managed to 3 x 6 on 3D6 when firing HE at a house which reduced it to rubble killing all occupants ! He then rolled 2 x 6 on 3D6 against a wooden abode with same devastating effect. I lost two MMG teams and two Big Men to this so twelve men.

Despite our struggles to understand several aspects of these at times ill-defined rules we actually like the game they generate at this 'big' skirmish scale as evidenced I guess by multiple plays.

Sergeant Steiner (with the Duc de Gobin)

Photos from Sergeant Steiner (first three) and the Duc de Gobin (the others):

 
 
 
 
 

Another try of IABSM this time using a scenario from the 'Bleneville Or Bust' supplement, with my Germans encountering a US force under the command of Stephen near fictional Norman town of 'Belle Maison'.

Another interesting and fun game (unless you were a Panther crewman!) with even a visit from a USAAF rocket armed 'Jabo'.

We did however find one or two more ambiguities with the rules not knowing if Blinds can use Reserved dice for firing later in turn? I believe, reading the rules, they cannot...but far from clear. Still, a nice flavoursome ruleset.

Sergeant Steiner

 
 
 
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My morning game at OML6 was Noddy's game of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum!  The scenario was a situation from the Battle of Bulge: the Germans' last ditch attempt to drive back the Allies by sending everything they had left in a attack through the Ardennes.

I was one of the players running the Germans, and our mission was a real pig! Starting off in the corner closest to the camera in the left-hand picture, above, we had to cross the bridge into the main town, and then exit the table along either of the two roads leading off to the left. We knew there were Americans in the other two sets of houses (off to the left and near the red chair) and that they would receive reinforcements.

Our initial force was divided into two. In front, I commanded a platoon of elite recce troops with two LSWs per squad, a platoon of average infantry, and a platoon of three Panzer II recon tanks. Behind me, my partner in crime commanded two platoons of infantry with a couple of MMGs, and two Panzerjaeger IVs.

Our strategy was simple. We would initially ignore the Americans on the left, counting on the inertia of their players to leave them where they were rather than intervening on what we were doing, and concentrate our entire force on the rest.

In terms of tactics, my plan was to place my elite troops as a firebase in the houses overlooking where the Americans were, and then send my other infantry platoon through the dense cover on the right to get into position to assault when the enemy was properly softened up.

Let's see what happened:

And that's where the morning session ended.

To my mind, I had carried out a textbook assault on the houses in the centre of the table. The platoon there had been pinned and battered by concentrated fire from my fire base. The unexpected Sherman had been quickly taken out by one of my two Panzerschrecks. The only problems had come from the three jeeps of the US Company HQ who sported a .50 cal and two .30 cals between them. They wiped out one of my assault platoons squads before being driven back or KO'd. 

As for the rest of the table, as predicted the other Americans just stayed where they were, spending the entire game trying to spot a couple of Dummy Blinds through the fog. We were already hammering them with MG fire and were about to start pounding them with HE from our reinforcement Panzer IVs...and had two untouched infantry platoons available to assault them in due course.

As for their reinforcement Shermans: they had got themselves into an awkward position where they couldn't advance across open ground and couldn't see anything to shoot at. Our hull-down, shoot-n-scoot Panzerjaegers had already killed one of them, and would have knocked out the others pretty damn quickly as well. If they didn't, well we had five Panzer IVs who could.

All in all, a pretty good show from the Germans!

How do I know? Well, in the evening I was sat next to one of the chaps who played the Americans in the afternoon session. When he found out I'd played the morning game, he was all ready to become furious with me if I'd been playing the Americans as, to quote, they'd left a right mess for him to deal with! 

A great game and great umpiring and set up from Noddy.

Robert Avery

 

 
 
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Sticking with WW2, Stephen and I decided to try IABSM after our CoC games. Stephen picked a scenario set in the Normandy bocage with an US Infantry Company attacking with the support of five Shermans against two German Panzergrenadier Platoons with three Veteran StuG IIIG (one commanded by a Level 3 Ace!). The Yanks also had a battery of 105mm in support (but thankfully these failed to ever fire).

We have always thought that IABSM had a lot going for it at its 'large' skirmish scale, but we have usually struggled with how Blinds and the card deck work and are used in IABSM:  but somehow today we seemed to have got it...at last!

The card and command initiative system combined with unit Actions based around numbers of useable dice works very slickly and plausibly. I am not a big fan of 'buckets of dice hits/saves' AFV combat systems (with a Sherman if it achieves a hit rolling seven 'strike' dice needing 5-6 to 'hit' and then the StuG rolling seven 'armour' dice needing 5-6 to save any such 'hits') but in essence it works, especially when combined with the armour command system of unit orders (Hunt/Engage), Actions, aimed or snap shots, and the damage model of equal or greater 'hits'.

Obtaining the initiative by having your unit or Big Man card appear first is a major boon and of course is random within a deck (that chaos factor I like) and indeed the possibility of not acting in a turn if the 'Tea Break' (end of turn) card appears makes for a nicely unpredictable sequence of actions/events. Lucky Legs of course managed to get every single card out before mine in one turn and I watched as two of my StuGs got pummelled on the road with one suffering its gun damaged and temporary immobilization (with associated effect on Actions) and the Ace being permanently immobilized and shocked!

Of course in hindsight I had no need to reveal them from their Blind as soon as I did, so running such risk.

The rules for Aces are interesting and easy, with the ability to aid shooting, hits and/or effects. The Ace did brew a Sherman, but his mate then suffered a similar fate, and he was then the subject of the attention of three other Shermans for rest of the game, eventually being forced to abandon his knocked about assault gun.

A firefight between the fifth Sherman and my remaining StuG saw the dice demon twice roll five hits out of seven dice rolls, and whilst I survived the first volley, a second saw my vehicle explode damaging a nearby Hanomag and Panzergrenadier section. Just as in CoC, the dice demon seemed to take minimal infantry casualties whilst nearly every volley on my men resulted in kills and shock!

Great stuff overall and a very enjoyable game.

Only complaints (as per most Lardie rules we have tried) is maybe a lack of definition on some aspects especially regarding line of sight and terrain issues. We were unsure just what effect some types of terrain have, and if sighting across multiple terrain types affects firing/vision e.g. if my line of fire crosses a hedge and goes through high wheat is it degraded once or twice ?

To be fair the rules seem to very much a 'gentlemen's agreement' set in many regards, and its easy to establish how much such detail one wants to include. And since small arms firing is either a Good, Okay or Poor shot, it's easy to debate/argue the case for which applies for individual actions and locales. A lack of a points structure means one has to use scenarios or fudge things, but that's fine...just different than say Battlegroup.

We shall be using these again.

Sergeant Steiner

 
 
 
 
 

I've been so busy with both real life and the four Blitzkrieg in the West handbooks that I haven't had much time for any gaming this year. Fortunately that changed yesterday, with Dave and John coming over for a big September War battle that also gave me the chance to get my relatively newly painted Polish 7TP tanks onto the table for the first time.

The game we played was scenario #45 from the second September War scenario packPiotrkow Trybunalski. Taken from the events of 4th September 1939, the scenario covers the latter part of the fierce fighting for the Borowska Heights in the opening phases of the German invasion: where the Polish 2nd Light Tank Battalion was thrown into action against the advancing German 4th Panzer Division. This was going to be a straight up, head-on clash between two companies of tanks, each supported by infantry.

The Battlefield: with the Germans due to start from the closest edge

As you can see from the slightly weirdly angled picture, above, the battlefield was a largely flat area surrounding the town's church. The "main road" was a fair quality track that would aid movement, the smaller roads not so much. The crops in the various fields had all been harvested, it being September, but they would still provide some cover and be an obstacle to movement.

As this was to be a straight forward clash, each side got to place an objective within an area approximately down the centre of the table. As you can see in the picture, below, the Germans placed their objective at the crossroads by the church, the Poles placed theirs just by the large farm at the far end. Victory would go to the side that controlled the most objectives at the end of the game, which would occur after nine appearances of the Turn Card. It was also dusk, so night could fall (with its associated difficulties of seeing anything!) at any time after six appearances of the Tea Break card.

The objectives go down

The Poles would attack with a two-platoon company of light tanks (eleven 7TPs) supported by a reduced company of infantry (three platoons of two 12-man infantry squads each) backed up by two tchanka-mounted MMGs and two anti-tank guns. Some of their force had to be designated as reinforcements, to arrive later in the game, so one platoon of infantry and one platoon of tanks would start the game 'on the bench'.

The Germans would attack with a full company of light tanks: a company HQ of four vehicles, and then three platoons each of three Panzer IIs and two Panzer Is. They also had infantry backing: three three-squad platoons of Schutzen infantry, with each squad armed with two light support weapons, backed up by a four-gun MMG platoon. A force with formidable firepower. They also had to designate two of their units as reinforcements, and chose the MMG platoon and one platoon of infantry as such.

Both sides began the game by deploying their Blinds.

The Poles opened proceedings by advancing their Blinds rapidly towards each objective. The Germans chose to hold back and spot: revealing a platoon of tanks and a platoon of infantry heading up the right hand side of the battlefield towards the objective by the farm.

Polish spotting then revealed a platoon of German light tanks (here proxied by SdKfz 222 and SdKfz 221 armoured cars) lurking in a field, but an opening volley of fire from the 7TPs almost immediately knocked out one Panzer II and forced the crews of the other two to bail. First blood to the Poles!

The Germans, meanwhile, had deployed most of their tanks to the left of the church, necessitating a sweep back across the table towards where the action was. A few Polish scouts (a dummy Blind) were driven back from the centre-table objective

A few Polish scouts (a dummy Blind) were driven back from the centre-table objective, and the church captured by an infantry platoon, and it looked as if the objective was secure...but then Polish reinforcements arrived in the shape of a column of tanks, and the two Polish anti-tank guns deployed to face up to the advancing Panzers.

The lead 7TP was quickly dispatched, and for a time it looked as if the Poles had been bottled up in their column on the road, but they quickly sorted themselves and spread out.

Meanwhile, on the right, a major battle for the farmhouse had broken out. One of the Schutzen platoons had deployed and was attempting to suppress the Poles in the farmhouse with fire. Unfortunately, despite their superior firepower, they had discovered that walls do actually mean quite a lot when facing bullets, and were soon clearly getting the worst of things.

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Just to their left, a major tank battle had broken out, with six Polish tanks backed by one of their anti-tank guns versus the remaining seven Panzers in the area. Despite looking so strong, the Germans also soon discovered that autocannon and machine guns don't match  37mm guns, and soon there were fleeing Panzer crews everywhere!

Despite the Germans throwing in another platoon of infantry against the farm, this is how that sector of the battle ended: the Poles in the farm holding the objective and killing German infantry at a 3:1 ratio, the six 7TPs and anti-tank gun outside the farm disposing of all but two of the ten Panzers facing them even if they lost two of their own number.

Meanwhile, on the left, another major tank battle had broken out, with nine Panzers facing four 7TPs and an anti-tank gun.

Unfortunately for the Germans, the story was largely the same. Although two of the 7TPs were destroyed, and bits knocked off the others, the Germans lost seven tanks in quick succession as 37mm shells hit them from all over. The Polish anti-tank gun did sterling work here: at one stage calmly knocking out one Panzer per shot despite taking incoming MG fire.

At this point, night fell and the game ended. True to its historical outcome, the Germans had failed to make an immediate breakthrough.

Looking at the carnage, it was obvious that the Poles had won a major victory in terms of material: only four out of nineteen Panzers were still operational versus only four casualties for the Poles, but as the game had to be declared a draw (one objective each) most of those Panzers would be dragged from the field and repaired, whereas the Poles couldn't really afford to lose a single tank.

So that was the result: a draw with a significant morale victory to the Poles.

Conclusion

A large and very interesting game. The Poles had a clear plan and, apart from a bit of a blip when their reinforcing tank column got caught bottled up on the road, made very good use of their assets.

The Germans, on the other hand, never really made us of the firepower of their Schutzen infantry, with their two MG-34s per squad. On their right, they never really managed to suppress the farm, something they should have been able to do with 48 men in six two-LMG squads versus 24 men in two one-LMG squads. In the centre, they kept shooting at the Polish infantry hunkered down in the field in front of them, slowly whittling one squad down but not really achieving anything. Why, for example, didn't they shoot at the Polish anti-tank gun crews that were punishing their Panzers so badly?

Had the game continued, I'm fairly sure it would have been a Polish victory, but a time limit is a time limit, and so a draw it was.

 
 
 
 

This game of IABSM was set on the eastern front: a random encounter between Germans and Soviets. As we had the whole of Saturday evening/night for our game, we decided to make it a big one fought out on a good-sized table measuring 180x240cm.

As the Soviets were attacking, we used the hidden Blinds rule for the initial German set up. This meant that the Germans would only be spotted if the Russians got right on top of where they were, or the Germans chose to move or fire, or the Soviets specifically Spotted a certain area. Obviously this only applied to areas such as towns, hills or forests, and not open fields.

The Soviets, on the other hand, would deploy under Blinds as normal:

Although they chose to immediately deploy their armoured units in order to maximise the chances of them moving each turn.

As the Germans were staying hidden, the Russians quickly advanced down the table.

Until the Russian armour bumped into the first of the German units.

And the fighting begins

The Soviet armoured advance is on a narrow front:

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And the first casualties on both sides start to be worrisome.

But the avalanche of Russian armour is both huge and unstoppable.
 

Although the German ambushes are also wreaking havoc.
 

And as soon as the Panthers and their friends enter the scene, it becomes clear the the Soviet green tide is not as unstoppable as first appeared.

And Soviet losses begin to mount up.
 

In the end, the battle ended with a marginal last minute German victory, as their reinforcements hit the flanks of the confidently advancing Soviet column.

One more afternoon of laughter and fun in good company!

Burt Minorrot

 
 
 
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15mm WW2 using IABSM by the TwoFatLardies tonight at the South London Warlords Club, with gallant British Paras holding two bridges (Ham and Jam) versus German counterattacks on the morning 6th June 1944. This was a loosely based on the real events, and a good club game.

The Paras rolled for casualties lost in the initial assault, and then set up on Blinds or hidden. Germans had six Blinds, each one potentially coming on at six different entry points.

The Paras had a company of infantry (less casualties); a 6pdr AT gun; a mortar team and an HMG; plus all the captured German defences.

The Germans had six infantry sections, three Marders, three StuGs and a Company HQ in half-tracks but, as mentioned, not all coming on at the same entry point, and only one unit on each turn of the German Blind card: so no guarantee a new unit would come on at all each turn!

This turned into a great little game with the added special cards adding flavour: such as the Allied Low on Ammo, or adding an extra Anti-Tank Fire card to represent the Elite Paras' battlefield nouse. 

The Germans made good progress in attacking one bridge, but at quite a cost. The Paras lost all their Big Men , and after taking heavy HE fire had to withdraw across the river. The other bridge was never really threatened by the Germans until the last turn, but I doubt they would have done a lot more.

The interesting decisions for the Germans were all to come, as somehow they would have to actually take the bridges, and I doubt they could have done that without more support. 

Thanks to Andy T for planning the game and to Glen, Iain F and Dan "nice suit" N. Only a few photos as I was too busy umpiring.

Desmondo Darkin

 
 
 
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Vaggelis Miliarakis recently added the following photographs of a 1/160 game of IABSM using the first Bashnya or Bust scenario to the IABSM Hellas (Greece) Facebook group: 

 
 
 
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Pictures from Thomas Sloan's first game of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum, in which he uses Scenario #2B, Sorok from the Bashnya or Bust! scenario pack.

Click on the pics to see what's happening...

We called it quits because of time. Great game, no clear winner: could go either way!

Thomas Sloan

 
 
 
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Back in December I was invited to Des’ inaugural big game in his new shed-o-war, that I haven’t posted about it yet has been bugging me so I’ll try and remember what happened to get something down at last. The game was a WW2 Normandy bash using I Ain’t Been Shot Mum by the Lardies and Des’ lovely 20mm collection.

I was in charge of the Canadian forces (the first mistake made by our side!) and I was ably assisted by Andy and Daren. We were tasked with advancing and clearing the immediate area to our front of some nasty Bosche that were led by Des and Ian.

After a quick ‘O’ group with the chaps we decided that Andy would take the dismounted infantry company through the fields along the left flank supported by the flail tank. I would be in charge of the recce detachments and would barrel up the road in the centre and scout the right flank; I was also in charge of the reserve of a tank squadron. Daren would take another tank squadron with a Kangaroo-mounted infantry platoon along the right and would react to what the scouts found. The idea was to keep things as simple as possible and hold on to the reserve until either one of the two flanking groups were in dire trouble or to exploit any success that they had.

 12 feet of Norman countryside.

12 feet of Norman countryside.

We got lucky with our three pre-game Stonks setting fire to two of the buildings that we targeted, one of which being the church thus negating the use of its steeple to any Fritzy FOO’s, and Andy started things off by advancing down the left while the scouts cars nosed along the road in the centre and the right.

Andy’s lads were quickly engaged after running into some enemy infantry and a fierce fight swiftly ensued and pretty soon it looked like it was time for an assault to go in to clear some of the Germans out.

As the reserve Sherman’s were not being let go from the reserve (their card was not coming up) to support the impending attack Andy chucked his attached Sherman Flail into the fray and mighty impressive looking it was too as it churned its way through the hedgerow where the enemy lay.

Unfortunately the attack faltered due to some heroic defending by the Landseer (absolutely jammiest of jammy dice throw!) although they didn’t hang on too long afterwards and withdrew to the rear just as a couple of StuG’s opened up and dispatched the Flail.

Cannuck infantry move out

While this attack was going on Andy was keeping more infantry located by the burning farmhouse pinned down in a firefight with one of his platoons which let the Daimlers work their way gingerly down the road onto the flank of the dug-in defenders.

Unfortunately one of the cars was taken out by a German anti-tank weapon fired by the infantry but the survivor managed to get round the flank and revenge was served by brassing them up. The Jerries didn’t like this much and they soon broke and the left flank was looking open for the reserve tanks to start moving through with only the StuG’s seemingly in the way. However, things weren’t going so well over on the right.

The Daimlers creeping down the lanes spent quite a while nosing gingerly forwards expecting any moment to be on the receiving end of general German nastiness in the shape of a Panzerfaust or ‘schreck.

When it did come it was more of a massive clang as one of the cars was hit by some high velocity 75mm from a Panther hiding in a stand of trees. The surviving car was in somewhat of a pickle as it was immobilised with the next shot so decided to have a go back with its 2pdr and a seemingly one sided duel ensued.

What seemed like a futile gesture on behalf of the recce types ended up being one of those great gaming moments as the German gunner couldn’t land a hit whilst the Armoured Car kept on hitting the target eventually causing enough Shock to the Panther crew that it had to withdraw! The cheers of the watching Canadians were quickly silenced however when another Panther opened up knocking out the gallant Daimler: just not cricket really, but medals all round.

Panther ambush!

Take That Jerry!

Panther About to pull out

While this was going on Daren had moved his armoured infantry up and they were cruelly ambushed by another German infantry platoon and pretty soon most of the Kangaroo’s were burning due to attention from the remaining Panther and Panzerfaustings, although some of the infantry survived to fight on.

A terrific close range firefight then ensued across the hedgerow which the Allies finally won thanks to the HMG’s on the surviving APC’s which tipped the balance and finally saw the German footsloggers break. Unfortunately we still hadn’t managed to get any of our Sherman’s into action yet and were unable to as we had to stop due to time getting on.

So at the end of play we had managed to break the initial line of resistance and force the German infantry to bug out but at no small loss to our own infantry and Armoured Cars, we still had two units of tanks that were uncommitted but still had a couple of Panthers and a couple of StuG’s to worry about and as we found out that the Germans also had a couple of Tigers lurking around the church we were sort of  glad that we didn’t carry on as we didn’t fancy our chances much! We reckoned a draw was a fair result, we broke into their position but sort of got stuck doing so.

It was a great days gaming and a cracking way to christen Des’ shed. Big thanks to him for putting the game on and a keeping us fed and watered all day and a massive thanks to Mrs D. for the fantastic lunch too. As usual cheers to the chaps for making a great day’s gaming better by being their usual fun selves, a pleasure as always gents. Stay tuned for the next instalment from chez Darkin...

Iain Fuller

 
 
 
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Australians take Siret el Chreiba airfield (just)

We played scenario 18 from the Operations Compass scenarios. This pits nine sections of Australian infantry and a single mortar, against six sections of infantry, an MMG and some direct firing off table artillery for the Italians.

 The main objective for the Australians is the hanger and the buildings behind. The feature nearest the camera is a ditch. The buildings near the end of the ditch are the secondary objective. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that the position of the ditch was corrected before the game actually started.

Initial moves with all forces under Blinds:

 The Australians were easily spotted, and the Italians elected to open fire with one section next to the hanger and the company HQ, which was in the buildings behind the hanger, and could fire though it, counting as a poor shot.

Next turn all three Aussie platoons were on the table. Platoon #1 on the left, #2 in the centre, and #3, by some rapid movement was in the lead on the right.

Same situation showing the last two Australian Blinds. The one furthest from the camera concealed the company commander and the mortar.

A further cautious advance by the Australians. The three Italian sections defending the houses near the ditch, having no direct threat, decided to move out into the ditch to threaten the flank of the attack on the hanger.

The Charge card came up for the Aussies, who used it to assault and wipe out the section by the hanger.

Elsewhere the Off Table artillery fire has caused significant casualties to the advancing Australians, Including the leader of Platoon #1. Poor fire discipline had forced the other Italian dug in section to open fire.

The same situation from the Italian end of the table.

Poor fire discipline had caused the Italian platoon near the ditch to reveal themselves while only partly in the ditch.

At this point the Australians attack was stalled by sections being Pinned by artillery fire, the loss of a platoon leader, and running out of men and the necessary actions to put an effective attack in. The Australian company commander was escorting the mortar on to the table and was still under a Blind. He now intervened decisively, if briefly in the battle. Giving orders for the mortar to fire on the Italians heading for the ditch, he moved forward, un-Pinned a section and sent it forward.

Shortly after galvanising his force into action the company commander became a casualty from further artillery fire, just as an assault, using the Charge card, was made on the remaining entrenched Italian section.

Also Platoon #3 made a successful charge on the larger house behind the hanger. Only three Italians and their officer made their escape out the back door.

The first and only shot from the mortar landed close enough to kill two Italians, caught in the open between the ditch and the houses.

The fire from the remains of four sections caused the Italian MMG to retire due to Shock.

We called a halt there as the Australians, at some cost, had gained the main objective, but were in no state to mount an attack on the houses near the ditch. They would be taking cover, mostly in the hanger, and hoping that the mortar would survive long enough to write down the Italian platoon by the ditch.

A very interesting game with the Australians not making use of cover, particularly the ditch, early on, and then becoming cautious as the Italian artillery started to bite.

Australian “casualties” were a total of 30 men, it the actual battle it was 23, the direct firing off table artillery was responsible for most of these.

The Italians suffered 22 casualties, two from the mortar fire, and about 18 from close combat.

The special cards in the deck produced a good recreation of the original battle. Rapid deployment and charge cards allowed the Australians to move aggressively forward, and the two rally cards prevent any “loss of bottle” before the section had become spent. The Italians Poor Fire Discipline twice caused a less than optimal opening of fire.  The off table artillery prevented the Australians from just using their superior numbers to fire at beyond close range and wear down the Italians.

Tony Cane

 
 
 
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Shots from tonight's IABSM game. Germans managed to barely stop Soviet attack last turn with the AT and armour cards finally coming up before the Soviets!

 
 
 
 
 

We recently ran the Mechili scenario (#17 from the Operation Compass publication) as an introduction to the tank vs tank rules. Table is open desert with the Italian end higher than the British. We fought the battle using 10mm miniatures.

Victory depends on tanks destroyed and functioning tanks being more than half way down the table. The Italians were up 30 points to 6 when we ended the game.

The British had lost seven light tanks due to them emulating the charge of the light brigade, and the first troop of A13s that arrived on table were chewed up by a unkind run of cards. The deck at that stage was very biased in favour of the Italians with twelve unit activation cards compared to the two for the Brits.

Here's some more detail of the action:

Tony Cane

 
 
 
 
 

We played this last month at Gigabites Café in Marietta GA. This game was based on the Robert Avery scenario Wave Goodbye, from the 2011 TFL Summer Special. 

The idea is that a French armor counterattack is hitting the flank of a German panzer column in an area east of the Ardennes in May 1940.

Mark Luther

 
 
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Bit of Russian Front action to try a blood some new Russian kit.

The 45mm AT guns drew blood on the panzers and the KV2 unleashed 152mm worth of "sit down and shut up".

Panzer Grenadiers attacked the village but got driven back from the church and the Stuka missed anything important. 

My spiffy BT-7s and T-26 were still approaching under Blinds.

James Manto

 
 
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Those of you who live in the UK may be aware that the Wyevale Garden Centres always sell off their winter model Christmas trees in early January (see previous post here). This year, I’d taken full advantage of the sale and bought several packets worth, and then added a new snow mat from Tiny Wargames to put them on. Now all I needed was an excuse to get everything onto the tabletop, and a game this Saturday just gone gave me the opportunity to do so.

As I seemed to have bought lots of trees, it would need to be a big game. Out came the extra bit of table, giving me an 8’ by 5’ playing area, on went the new mat, and on went the new trees. The result: a winter wonderland of epic proportions.

The Forces

This was to be a Soviet/German encounter battle set sometime in and around January 1944. As I found myself short of time in the preparation stages, I used the troop lists from one of the scenarios from the IABSM Bashnya or Bust scenario pack. A couple of the scenarios give listings of a re-inforced company for each side from which the players pick a number of platoons. As this was to be a big game, I used those lists but gave each side the entire list, not just a proportion of the list.

This meant that the Soviets (played by John) ended up with a company of ten T-34s, most of which were T-34/85s, supported by a re-inforced company of infantry: three platoons, an MG platoon, and a medium mortar platoon. As reconnaissance, the Soviets had a platoon of armoured cars and a platoon of scouts in lend-lease M3 halftracks. As support (well, it was supposed to be a big game), they also had a platoon of four SU-85 tank destroyers and a platoon of SU-76 SP guns.

The Germans (played by Dave), on the other hand, had a company of Gebirgsjaeger mountain infantry supported by an MG platoon and a mortar platoon. On top of this, they had a platoon of two infantry guns and a platoon of three Pak 40 anti-tank guns from regiment. Finally, they had a platoon of four StuG IV assault guns and a platoon of four Hetzer tank-killers.

The Objectives & Special Rules

As this was an encounter scenario by two reconnaissance-in-force kampfgruppes, I declared the initial objective to be the sawmill in the centre of the village. The secondary objective would be to exit the table on the opposite edge from each side’s start position. This would obviously necessitate defeated any enemy troops encountered en route. As the Germans were somewhat outnumbered, they would start at the table’s edge closest to the mill.

As this was a big battle, and taking place in winter, I had three special rules that would apply. Firstly, each time the Blinds card appeared, a d10 was rolled: with players only able to activate that number of Blinds. The other, non-activated Blinds would be assumed to be bogged down in tackling the wind and snow.

Secondly, there were two additional cards in the pack: the Snowdrift card and the Blizzard card. When the Snowdrift card was pulled, the next unit card out of the pack would be unable to move, being caught in a snowdrift. It could fire or spot, but not move. Once that unit’s activation was completed, both cards would then go into the discard pile. When the Blizzard card was pulled, the next unit card out of the pack could do nothing – being caught in a mini-blizzard – with both cards immediately going into the discard pile.

Thirdly and finally, as we were all on a 3½ hour time limit, we would use the force morale rules from Chain of Command adapted for IABSM from one of the recent Specials (and also used in several of the scenarios in the second September War scenario pack). For those of you unfamiliar with the mechanic, both sides started with ten force morale points; each time something bad happened to them (the loss of a Big Man or an AFV or an infantry squad etc) a dice was rolled, with certain results reducing the side’s force morale points by one or two points. Once force morale reached zero, that side would retreat from the battlefield.

Initial Moves

The game began with both players making a complete Blinds move onto the table with all their Blinds.

The Germans decided to split their armour, the StuGs on the right and the Hetzers on the left, and pack their infantry into the middle. Their plan was to take advantage of their initial advantage and get to the sawmill as soon as possible and then halt and defend from there. They would allow the Soviets to destroy themselves on their defence, and then carry out their secondary objective once the enemy were sufficiently weakened.

The Soviet plan involved sending their reconnaissance units forward to find the enemy, and then a broad advance right across the front: the Soviet steam roller in action. His armoured cars and scouts were therefore in front, with his infantry and armour evenly spread out in a line behind them.

The Germans continued to move their Blinds forward rapidly, and managed to get their company HQ into the vicinity of the sawmill before they were spotted and forced to deploy. A platoon of infantry would soon occupy the sawmill itself, with their MG platoon and Hetzers moving up on their left.

As for the Soviets, their reconnaissance forces quickly reached the tree line and started spotting the German Blinds. Unfortunately, they were themselves spotted in return, with the German commander calling in support from his mortars aiming to blow the scouts right out of their half-tracks.

The German Mortars card turned up remarkably quickly, and Dave rubbed his hands with glee. His rubbing became even more gleeful when he rolled a direct hit with no deviation!

Unfortunately, all this gleefulness had attracted the attention of the pixies, and his rolls for effect were so poor that all the Soviet scouts suffered were a few scratches to the paintwork and a single point of Shock.

Oh, sorry, I meant to say that the first box of ammunition opened turned out to have been ruined by being exposed to the elements for too long and was full of duds, so all the Soviet scouts suffered were a few scratches to the paintwork and a single point of Shock!

The pixies were only teasing, however, as the next card out of the pack was the German Mortars Bonus Fire, and this time the ammunition was good, and two of the half-tracks took a direct hit and were destroyed, with scouts bailing out everywhere before desperately trying to take cover.

It’s All About The Armour

The action now switched to the flanks and the various units of armour rolling forward through the snow.

On the German left, the Hetzers faced off against a platoon of T-34/76 tanks. The Germans had a numerical advantage, four to three, and were “low profile” but the Soviets had some cover from the edge of the treeline. Despite this, two T-34/76s were soon ablaze, with the third immobilised but still able to shoot. Good work from the Hetzers.

On the Soviet left, the lead platoon of T-34/85s bumped into the four StuGs. One StuG was immediately destroyed, with another having bits knocked off it right, left and centre. This was, however, just a temporary setback for the Germans: a moment later, two of the three T-34/85s had been destroyed.

Meanwhile, in the centre, the German machine gun platoon had occupied a small dwelling on the flank of the Soviet armoured cars. They opened fire, but their initial volley was pretty ineffectual despite the flank-fire advantage. The BA-64s, on the other hand, returned fire and promptly took out the MG team in the house itself.

All this action had had quite an effect on each side’s force morale, with the Soviets already being down to under half their initial allocation, with the Germans not far behind them.

The Steamroller Reveals Itself…Too Late!

Now that they had located their enemy, the Soviet Blinds all moved forward and deployed. On their right, the largely destroyed T-34/76s were reinforced by the four SU-85 tank killers and a single T-34/85. In the centre, their infantry moved forward towards the edge of the treeline. On their left, the rest of the T-34/85s (three of them) appeared and moved forward to engage the StuGs.

Unfortunately, the cards gave the waiting German Hetzers another round of fire, which they hammered into the newly-arrived SU-85s which, as tank killers, have a very big gun but pretty rubbish armour.

The Soviets had just thrown the tank-killers forward with no consideration for cover, and two were knocked out/forced to bail out almost immediately. This tipped the Soviet force morale into negative numbers, and they were forced to retreat. They would probe forward elsewhere…somewhere where the opposition was not quite as strong.

Aftermath

Both players declared it to be a great game.

John, commanding the Soviets, was frustrated that he hadn’t been able to bring his numbers to bear properly. In retrospect, he also thought that, as per Clausewitz, he should have concentrated his attack on either of the flanks or the centre rather than just advance on a broad front across the entire tabletop.

Dave, playing the Germans, was happy to have survived the Soviet onslaught. He was pretty happy with the way that his plan had worked, although had a few improvements that he would have made to his deployment.

As for me: well, I was happy too. A big game that both players had enjoyed on a big table with my new mat and with lots of new trees. What more could one want!

Robert Avery

 
 
 
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I've been wanting to try out IASBM for ages, particularly when Chain of Command didn't "float my boat". Knowing how long it would take to set up (and tear down) a 20mm game I decided to go for 6mm instead, using my eight man section hexes as half-sections, so I've got sixteen figure sections...but who cares.

One of the nice things about doing in 6mm is that with ~30m = 4cm hexes its almost 1:1 ground to figure scale. Needless to say I'm converting the rules to hex!

The overall layout looks really nice. Both sides start on Blinds (like the Blinds idea). A weak German platoon is defend the village from an advancing British platoon.

The Brits get three 12" square (3 x 7 hex) stonks at the beginning of the game. But I then discovered that since all the Germans are on Blinds then all the Brits can do is reduce German Activations for next turn (but see Update below): which they do for two of the Blinds, despite one salvo being so widely off it picks up the next target (like the deviation dice). Doesn't look like the artillery rules give any benefit from being entrenched that I could see either (whether on Blinds or not).

Preliminaries out of the way then, on with the fight...

 Long shot:  British at bottom, Germans in village at top

Long shot:  British at bottom, Germans in village at top

German Blinds in the village

Update

Realised that "stonk" is a specific thing in IASBM (it doesn't mention that at the start of the Indirect Fire chapter). Far nastier. Rolled for the damage on the two Blinds that got it: one twice. Not revealing to myself which of the two Blinds are real troops 'til I need to (by dice), so (as a German) hoping that the Germans are defending forwards!

Stonk results: Red Marker = Shock, White Puff = Dead

Going Well So Far

The effectiveness of the initial (corrected) stonk was blunted somewhat by the first few turns having Tea Break cards after the Axis Big men (removing Shock - ah, are they allowed to do that to Blinds?) but before the Brits could move!

Eventually the Brits got going, using the cover of the corn-field and in two turns were crossing the small hedges into the first orchard. The Germans spotted the far right British Blind - but that was revealed to be the dummy (1-3 on D6).

The next left British 3 platoon were also spotted by the German Blind in the forward house, but spotting back this was revealed to be a dummy - so there were no Germans in the first two buildings. The Company Commander doubled 3 platoon towards the house, and they quickly moved in, spotted the German Blind in the next house, and  tried to get off some rounds but not being at full effect caused no damage.

Interesting how simple the IABSM fire chart is:  no modifiers, just three range band and three target/shot categories...seems very odd! 2 Platoon also pushes forward and into the left hand near house, being spotted as they do so. Spotting working well and love the Blinds.

Now that the situation was clear, the German's defending the two rear houses (left and centre) and his forces balanced also to the left it was time for the company commander to sit down and do his appreciation or Tactical 7 Questions.

In "normal" wargames mode the Brits might just push on, squaring up against the two German strongpoints, and their two MG42, and probably get wiped out. All the Sandhurst training though says to focus on the right building, leave 3 Platoon as a fire base and then go right flanking with Platoons 1 and 2 with bags of smoke. So our gallant company commander calls for 1 Platoon to swing across to the right, followed by 2 Platoon (do they leave the 2nd house vacant?) to make their way to an FUP and start line. We'll see how it goes...

The picture above shows the situation at end of Turn 3.

Only 1 Platoon is left on a Blind on the British side. At the 1:1 scale, 3 Platoon by the right near house is only just visible.

The Action Continues

After about another turns of damage which forced one section of 3 Platoon to withdraw under the "loss of bottle" rule (and down to three men!) the Platoon Commander finally managed to get the 2" mortar to lay a smoke screen in front of the German position.

3.1.JPG

At the same time 1 Platoon (still on a Blind) and 2 Platoon started to swing right behind 3 Platoon ready to launch a right-flanking, bags of smoke assault.

1 Platoon in position, 2 Platoon almost there. The screen is now fully stoked so has four turns left, and the German Zug 2 commander has brought up his reserve Gruppe to cover his left flank in expectation of a British assault.

Should be time to test the hand-to-hand rules!

The Attack Goes In

The British attack finally goes in. 3 Platoon is providing the smoke and firebase, everyone else is going right flank, bags of smoke, with 2 Platoon on the left and 1 Platoon on the right.

2 Platoon realise too late that making a full 2-3 Activation move to reach the enemy will lose them dice in the melee, so they stop short in the smoke to await the next turn. 1 Platoon has swung nicely wide and sends 2 and 3 Sections against the Gruppe lining the hedge (a flank guard recently moved up), whilst 1 Section goes in against the rear of the dug-in  MG42.

2 & 3 Sections get surprisingly bounced, but inflict a fair amount of damage. 1 Section also has a tough time and takes two rounds to get the MG42 team (well, one man) to retreat.

Next turn 2 Platoon finally goes in, and again take a lot of damage from assaulting the emplaced infantry head on. 2 & 3 Sections are going against the Gruppe lining the hedge, and 1 Section against the weak Gruppe in the house.

1 Section gets bounced - unsurprisingly - but 2 & 3 manage to secure their objective and the German Gruppe is reduce to one man, pulls back, and loses it's Big Man.

Next turn, the smoke finally clears:

2 Platoon activates first and sends 2 Section left against the building and 3 Section right against 1 Platoon's opponent. Despite their losses, 3 Section wins out, but 2 Section is repulsed, although only one man is left in the building (and only one Shock so okay!).

3 Platoon then activates, and pours in all its firepower, which ends up being far more effective than earlier in the game (was I doing something wrong?) and kills the brave bloke!

1 Platoon and 2/3 Sections recover in the Orchard whilst 3 Section/2 Platoon finishes their work, right

The 3 Platoon firebase and target house

A quick regroup and then its time to turn the British focus onto the second German Zug, still on a Blind in the other house the other side of the T-junction.

1 Platoon is just about battle-worthy (two men down per section, so only two Activations each). 2 Platoon has lost one section and has quite two weakened, so they'll join with 3 Platoon (which has lost 1/2 section) to provide the firebase. It might be nice to swop 1 & 3 but 1 is in a better position to go right flanking and get right behind any German emplacements. 2 Platoon can also provide 3 Platoon with its smoke for the screen.

The next objective - the remaining German Zug, still on a Blind!

Overall this phase went quite nicely. Juggling men lost and Shock seems a pain at times for no real benefit. Also I ended up with quite a few units at 2-3 men, so that meant they had no Actions, so could only sit and be assaulted - so I decided to just remove them from the table if they weren't in a good defensive position.

I also forgot about the 2" mortar rapid HE fire in the assault: I think that might be needed as its now a pretty even match for the last fight and the Germans can hole up in the buildings if they want.

Could be a close run thing which is about right given the ratios.

The Conclusion

Well that ended quickly! 

3 Platoon provided a mediocre fire-base as they couldn't really see the target: certainly not after the smoke went down. 1 Platoon started moving though the open orchard but started taking casualties from the German Zug. 3 Platoon started laying smoke late, but the wind was pushing it back towards 3Platoon, so they couldn't adjust well to cover the rear of the building (off to the left in the image below).

View from 3 Platoon. 1 Platoon attacking from right to left

As a result, as 1 Platoon emerged they were due to edge of table too much in line with the German defence (especially as the reserve Gruppe had moved to close the back-door), and not obscured by the smoke. In one round the reserve Gruppe inflicted three hits on each unit which, added to the three they already had, reduced each section to two men, and so no longer effective.

With only 3 Platoon left, and that a bit battered, and the German Zug more or less untouched and in a strong defensive position, the British Company Commander decided to call it a day. Game over.

1 Platoon (centre top) raked by fire on leaving the orchard by Germans at upper left

Analysis

Overall not bad. Quite a realistic result.

I remember being taught that a good MG position is a Platoon attack target, the Germans had two of them, plus the two platoons which are each Company attack targets, so trying to do this with one un-reinforced company was always going to be a tall order!

What I liked about IASBM:

  • The Blinds - but is the CoC patrol phase better?
  • The very simple modifiers
  • Spotting
  • The mortar and smoke mechanism
  • The variable movement
  • The Tea Break card
  • Card-based activation
  • Bucket of dice - becoming a convert
  • And playing at 1:1 figure to ground scale. But 6mm is just too small for 1:1 men, and looking forward to using the new 10mm figures and happy to have only a ~2:1 error ratio.

What I liked less:

  • Suppression seemed secondary to damage, not the other way around
  • Shock and damage didn't seem to achieve much different, in this game damage dominated
  • Big Men rarely got the change to use their range of actions (since a small game?)
  • Not sure that every Platoon needs a Big Man, if the Platoon activates as a unit anyway - gets confusing
  • The damage table - you have to look everything up

David Burden

 
 
 
 
 

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of having Chip and Chris over for a game of I Ain’t Been Shot Mum. After looking at various options for scenarios I figured that the easiest way was simply to translate the starter scenario in the rulebook to the Eastern Front. So it changed from a fictional encounter outside Caen, to a fictional encounter during Operation Kutusov: an infantry company from the Soviet 63rd Army (my figures, used by Chris) attacks a company from the German 262nd Infantry Division (Chip’s SS).

I replaced the three pre-game stonks in the starter scenario with two Soviet style Super Stonks, but that was a little more awesome than necessary, one is quite enough. Chip decided to deploy all his troops early so they could be rallied, as Chris was making pretty good progress down the table with his Blinds.

Chip’s Germans deployed. We had just enough shock markers.

Chris’s Soviets advance on the German company, reeling from the pre-game bombardment.

Chris advanced into the orchard, closing on Chip’s 2nd (right) platoon.

Chris races into the orchard, hoping to catch the Germans while they still have a lot of shock.

Chip promptly had a run of good luck on the cards, his MGs, in houses behind the front line trenches, spotted the advancing Soviets and let rip with both standard and bonus activations, decimating the Soviet platoon in the orchard. Chris began pushing his Blinds toward the German left flank.

Chris’s 2nd platoon heads past the half of his 3rd platoon that remained.

They are ready for their closeup.

These were closely followed by his support platoon, which soon began chewing up the German platoon and the MG that had been doing so much damage.

Chip’s 1st platoon finally realised that the movement in the wheat to their front was just a patrol, so they began displacing to assist their comrades, and none too soon, as the German 2nd platoon was getting pretty chewed up. But most of the German first platoon ended up in firefights with the Soviet first platoon, which had deployed behind the orchard, and the remnants of third platoon, who stayed in the fight despite their heavy casualties.

The hand of Chip removes some German casualties.

Because time was running out, we decided to see what a Human Wave looked like. So Chris pulled a couple of sections from his 2nd platoon, and charged the remaining section of Chip’s right platoon.

The initial round of combat was inconclusive because of the distance that the Soviets had had to move, but the second round, predictably led to the Soviet weight of numbers and the German’s pinned status resulting in a Soviet win. Equally predictably the next card were the two German units closest to the melee, and the Soviet squads were cut down.

If we’d had more time, that charge wouldn’t have happened, and I think we would have seen the Germans rolled up, if they didn’t withdraw. It was great fun to play IABSM again. I realised this was actually the first game of IABSM I’ve ever played at my place, and the second one involving my figures. I definitely need to do this more often!

Small Sagas

 
 
 
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Whilst sorting and rationalising all the files on my computer, I found these four photographs from one of the first IABSM games that I ever ran: Hondeghem

Highlights of these photographs are the hedges made out of green ring binders...which I made the secretaries at work order specially so that I could borrow a few and use them like this! Well, everyone's collection of terrain has to start somewhere!

Robert Avery