Saturday, 21 April 2012

Spearhead Somewhere In Italy

Good evening,

Last night, as per my previous post Robin came round, I broke out my 9 by 5, laid out some terrain and poured out some of the minis I had just finished to give them their baptism of fire.

The setting was nominally somewhere in Italy, and the Kiwis were advancing on a defensive German force.

As per the Spearhead rules, we each ordered our battalions (or tank regiment) by drawing arrows on a picture of the battlefield. Robin did his old school, on a piece of paper, while I thought I'd use my Tablet PC (brilliant wee thing that it is) by drawing on a photo of the field instead.

And this is where I made my first error of the game. I wrote my initial orders with the thinking that, well, if the boys didn't see anything at the end of their respective arrows, I could then give them new orders to move them on. Opps. In Spearhead, you can't change orders unless you can see enemy. The idea is to use timed orders instead. Like, arrow with the turn number of when the next arrow begins...

Anyhow, not knowing this, we laid out our soldiers...

...and off we went.

The tanks were so bunched 'cause I thought that I had to squeeze them between the hill and the wood. Turns out, I could have spread them out to the other side of the wood, but, well, you game and learn...

All of a sudden, Robin throws a sneaky! Arghh! A flank march has arrived on my, well, flank and in the rear of my tanks!

Sooo...I thought, well, lets put the pedal to the metal and get out of here!

(After the game Robin told me about a thing called an overrun attack - deadly when infantry are caught by tanks in the open! Ah well, you game, you learn...)

I therefore keep to plan A (not realising that I'd not really be able to change to Plan B...well, 'till Robin brought his boys into eyeshot...ah well, you game, you learn...)

The central battalion comes to the end of it's arrow, into the middle of the middle town and comes under (unseen) fire by Robin's mortars.

Suppressing the carrier platoon.

I try, and fail, to change the orders for the tanks, so they kinda sit there wondering what to do next.

Thankfully, it didn't last long...

In the meantime, the other formation arrived at the end of their arrow...

Next turn I was successful in changing the tanks' orders, and I was able to turn the armour around and go back the way they'd come!

Robin promptly ran his infantry into the town...

...but one platoon just couldn't make it in time, so stood to receive the charge!

He didn't last long!

Looks like I'll have to paint me that Firefly. (And my last unmade Armorfast M4 - I was using the M10 as the command tank, since the command elements don't actually fight.)

Soon after, my second infantry battalion comes under fire from the town to their rear and slooowwwwwllllyyyy turns around to face them. (I couldn't change orders because they were coming under fire. Only the Germans can do that. Another case of you game, you learn...).

And the tanks just sit there, kinda doing nothing but keeping the Germans from coming down out town to face them! Apparently assaulting a town with with tanks unsupported by infantry is a really bad idea...which I didn't realize 'till Robin pointed it out after my order change. Ah well, you game, you learn...

Mind you, whilst following their new orders, the tank regiment did catch sight of the German mortars. However, before they could engage them...

...Robin mortars pop some smoke to obscure my view! (I wonder how long the smoke should have lasted...)

On the other side of the town, Robin brings forward some platoons to rain fire down on the advancing Kiwis.

As the night was getting on, Robin thought to throw caution to the wind and order forward his un-engaged battalion.

So, I move out the carrier platoon (what a dinky wee model!) to...actually, I'm not sure what I intended to do...threaten their flank? Again, a further grasp of the command distances would probably help here...

There's an old adage...stick your neck out...

...expect it to get chopped off!

In an effort to take some heat off the carrier, I brought the 6 pounder to bear on the closest Stug.

To no effect. Apart from drawing the attention of said Stug...

Now, what's missing here then?!

It was about then that we called the game - Robin was likely to take the worst of it in the west, I was likely to get drubbed in the east.

And a fun time was had by all!

Thanks Robin,


(Actually this morning I was working out just how big a 9 by 5 table was in the extended ground scale we were using. Near as I can figure it, it's about 6.5 km by about 4ish.

So, I fiddled around with Google Earth (with a terrain filter add on) and here is roughly what a 9 x 5 table should look like when representing the area that my grandfather was in when he was detached from 2 NZEF signal corp to 6th Battalion for the New Zealander's first action in Italy.

'Twas around here, as near as we can figure, that he fell off his motorcycle, got his wedding ring caught in rusted barbed wire, caught typhoid and almost died on the hospital ship on his way back to NZ. Apparently he could only keep down jelly on the way back. Jelly kept him alive. Never underestimate the power of jelly!)


  1. Cool AAR Nick, your figures look great.
    Quite impressed by your 9'x 5' wargaming table- I can only manage a 6'x 4', & that's if I get out a couple of bits of marine ply from the shed.
    Where did you get the shell craters from?

    1. Cheers Bro! The table is an old table tennis table I picked up many years ago...for free! It's kinda falling apart now, having to be stored outside, as it was at one time riddled with bora!

      The shell craters I picked up from a bring and buy years ago. Don't know their provenance, but I've got about a dozen - those three are the ones with anything but undercoat on.

  2. Nice battle report. I have been eyeing spearhead for awhile. Nice tip about google earth. I haven't played with it in awhile.

    1. Cheers Sean. 'Twas only my third game, but it certainly makes you think big picture and the importance of planning - it's real hard to react to something unexpected, like enemy turning up on your flank!

      I'm looking forward to my next game, see if I can't get things flowing a bit better...


  3. Awesome game boys, nice write up

    1. Thanks Al. I still have a few things to get a handle on. Still, you game, you learn!