Monday, 8 October 2012

Somewhere in Italy...

...well, between Orsogna and Castle Frantano, to be a little more precise.

Good evening,

This afternoon Robin popped around for our second Spearhead game of these school holidays. I set out the table to represent the area between Castel Frantano, where my grandfather was billeted in a local farmhouse and Orsogna as a dispatch rider early 1944, which was 2 NZ Division’s first battle in Italy.

(out of interest, here is a sound file of a Kiwi tanker, Joseph Bacos, talking about his first time in action at Orsogna.)

So, with my forces selected…

Kiwi List Spearhead Game Term 4 Week 00

...I drew up my plan…

  • 22nd [Motorised] Battalion on the left
  • 18th Armoured Regiment, with support from the 7th Anti-Armour Regiment in the centre as my mobile reserve
  • 24 [Infantry] Battalion on the right

…and away we went.

One of my new PSC Carriers on table for the first time. Still have to wash, highlight and crew them, but I’m pleased that I had them pulled together for today’s game.

Robin sets up his infantry battalion on the ridge across the valley from the 22nd [Motorised] battalion.

I also had a Thunderbolt flying around as Air Support. Ok, so it’s my Typhoon - my Thunderbolt still has to be painted.

Here we see Robin’s armoured infantry battalion, replete with 251 halftracks.

What’s that you say? They look like normal German infantry? Really? Ah, that’d be because Robin specifically designed his list to show off his cool armoured infantry, replete with halftracks. Put them aside carefully, so he did. Left them sitting on the games table at home, so he did…)

(He was most displeased to have left them behind!)

Notice also a familiar looking PSC Pz IV (H) lurking in the background, acting as the battalion headquarters. Traitor!

As I advance on my right (which was actually the centre of the table)…

…Robin springs a flank march on, well, my flank! Seeing as it was in the valley over the other side of the ridge, none of my forces could react to it, ‘cause they couldn’t see it.

Notice also another familiar looking PSC Pz IV (H) lurking in the background…this time as a fighting stand. Traitor!

One of Robin’s cute wee infantry guns, proxying as a 251 halftrack with a big gun on the back. Yep, these infantry are actually armoured infantry, replete with the afore mentioned left behind halftracks!

Robin’s flank march pops up from the valley. “Arghhh! Flank tanks!”

So I commit my reserve.

End of Turn 4. Action brewing on my right, inaction ensuing on my left – neither opposing battalion at the other end of the table could see each other, so they sat on defend orders as, well, instructed.

First tank suppressed. He’d shake it off soon enough.

On the other flank, I decide, since Robin wasn’t going to come to me, I’d try to work around him and come at him from the town.

22nd [Motorised] Battalion newly painted Airfix-figures-donated-by-Jacksarge HQ stand.

Things started to heat up on the right…

(What these things really need is a good crackling, burning sound!)

(Note the disappearance of the crew for the 6 Pounder. It was knocked out, but I thought to leave it on the table for cinematic effect. It got in the way, so I took it off later!)

Robin advances in the centre…

…while I advance on my left.

You know that Sherman sticking out at the front of the armoured advance in the photo above, well…he was stuck out just a touch too far. One of Robin’s panzers took a shot at his flank armour. Anything but a one would have suppressed him, or worse.

What did Robin roll?

That’s one lucky tank!

Shots continue to be traded on the right, and slowly my attrition begins to mount…

My advance on the left begins to come under fire.

While my slow advance on my right continues. (In Spearhead you can move full distance, but not shoot, or you can “Combat move” half distance, and still get a chance to shoot.)

As it happened, Robin was playing the long game – by keeping his armour still, he got to shoot first in the turn sequence (stationary vehicle fire, then moving infantry, then moving vehicle). If a stationary tank gets taken out during stationary vehicle fire, it gets a chance to fire back before being removed – fire within “phases” is considered to be simultaneous. But if a moving vehicle gets destroyed in the stationary vehicle fire phase, it can’t shoot back – it had to survive ‘till a later phase to do that. Get it?

The following turn, it was all action! And not entirely in a good way!

But I did at least get to take out a Pz IV – even if it was my own!

The tank carnage continued next turn. So much so that I ran out of destroyed vehicle markers!

Time was called and victory points tallied. 4 for me, 5 for Robin. Opps, got that wrong. This from Robin...

I'd call this one an honourable draw.

I checked with Keith on VPs.. I had 6-2 (3 objectives, with -1 for each contested objective) =4.

You had 4-1 (2 objectives with one of them contested)=3.

So a 4:3 result is pretty jolly close IMO.

So, pretty close. Indeed, much closer than my previous outing!

Had it lasted a bit longer...? Robin may have had a spot of bother. His centre battalion was one away from having to take a moral test, and he had lost most of his tanks – indeed, all but one. The remaining two tanks on table were HQ stands.

If only I hadn’t rolled so low when requesting artillery or air support – my “Thunderbolt” never did make it into the game!

Thanks for the game Robin, it was great. And it would seem I’m improving!



  1. A real tank graveyard that. Looks like a fun game, hopefully your battered Kiwis will bounce back in the next game and take the victory.

    1. Here's hoping! I also need to roll above average dice for artillery support - Robin made the comment several times that the inability of the Kiwi artillery to come to the party was uncommon.

      The non-arrival of the a/c was about right though - 50/50, and I missed one of my chances to make the call.

      Speaking of missed opportunities, I forgot all about my centre-of-three HMG in my centre infantry battalion! He could have done some damage - Robin kept out of range of my rifles!

  2. Nick

    An excellent game...sorry about the forgotten aircraft call, but I thought it was a good way to make sure you remembered the need to work through the phases correctly. I did the same later on and missed firing several infantry stands.. we all have to keep on top of it LOL

    I have to admit I hadn't recognised the third HMG stand.. I would have mentioned it had I done so.

    The downside for the Kiwis was that they were losing the artillery battle. The question was how winnable the battle would have been with the kiwi infantry stripped away. But speculation is just that.

    I'd call this one an honourable draw.

    I checked with Keith on VPs.. I had 6-2 (3 objectives, with -1 for each contested objective) =4.

    You had 4-1 (2 objectives with one of them contested)=3.

    So a 4:3 result is pretty jolly close IMO.

    Thanks again


    1. Quite right, serves me right in forgetting these things!

      Ah, let's face it, you were on a hiding to nothing! :-)

  3. Great post Nick, it must have been real Ronson weather over there!

    I too am a big fan of the long game, it really can make a huge difference to the outcome.

    Good skills.

    1. Cheers Paul. (Umm, isn't a Ronson a cigarette lighter?)

      Yep, it was a good game. We might make the next one a 500 pointer - which for the Kiwis would mean probably another Firefly and another regiment of off table 25 pounders...possibly also another mortar...

      I was just sorry not to see the Typhoon make it's début on table!

    2. Oh, I get it. Ronsons. That's what they called the Shermans due to the propensity to brew up!

    3. ...Oh good grief Nick!

  4. Brilliant stuff, Nick - a proper war game!

    1. Cheers Monty. Now I'm hankering for a nice big Crossfire game. Got me a whole Battalion worth of Kiwis now! Which means I need one more Company of Germans. I hear my Falshirmjagers calling!

  5. Epic game, big uns are the best :)

    1. Ain't wrong there Al! Still not really a scratch on your Korean and Pacific games!