Thursday, 8 January 2015

Great War Spear Head - 1914 on the Eastern Front

Good afternoon,

On Tuesday night Robin invited me over to his place for a Great War Spear Head encounter battle set in 1914 on the eastern front. Germans vs. Russians.

Robin set out the table. As I left my tablet at home, I had to revert to paper and pencil to draw up my plan for the attack...

...using these forces here.

I had four equal sized regular regiments, one regiment of on table artillery, with a further three regiments off table. One of which was nice 'n big. But not big enough for counter battery allocation.

And away we went.

That's my flank march sitting on the edge...

...with my reserve following up after the 2nd on the hill in the center.

The 1st...

...was to my left / [true] north, facing a Russian regiment (with onboard artillery attached) of unknown quality. This was to be determined once it came under fire.

Meanwhile, the Russians were massing in the east (the top of the table, from my perspective), and started flanking down the southern / right edge of the field.

Turn five, and huzzah, my northern flank march arrives. Only for their entry point to be driven back to the wood in the west. The Russians were too far forward for me to rock down the valley.


So they milled about in the woods with elements of the 1st.

Did I mention that hordes of Russians were steaming down the southern edge of the table?

Robin also applied pressure to the southern flank of my centre, so...

...I committed my reserve.

"Right. Turn. Quick...march!"

The first shots fired for the game, south / right of the centre.

Some arty stonks...

...and some small arms fire...

...cause the first suppressions of the game. And the removal of the first company of Germans.

(The cotton wool means a suppression, the big Litko explosion means one company has been destroyed, the little ones are indicators of small arms fire.)

Meanwhile in the north, the Russians receive some small arms fire themselves, courtesy of the German's 1st Regiment.

So the Russians return fire.

This goes back and forth for a while.

(By which time we had established the convention of a smoke marker meaning an artillery strike, large explosions a destroyed element, cotton wool a suppression, and the little ones represented incoming infantry fire.)

In the south (on my right)...

...more big gun and small arms fire...

...while the reserve make their way south.

In the north the Russians take some more casualties, losing another company. By this time it had been established that this was a green regiment - they had to take moral tests at 1/3 losses, then again at 1/2 and 2/3, as opposed to the regulars' 1/2 and...2/3rds? 3/4?

My reserve take up positions on my southern flank just as Robin rushes forward the Russians. Across the open. Against enemy in cover. Who have arty support.

More action in the north...

...destroying the last forward-deployed Russian infantry company and suppressing 1/3 of the artillery.

In the south, things really heat up in that eastern most wood.

That's three artillery stonks wiping out one company of Germans, and suppressing a second, whilst one German artillery strike and some small arms fire wipes out two Russian companies and suppresses a third.

And just to the east a German stonk causes a suppression on one of the Russian artillery regiments. (We had run out of the cool Litko smoke markers by this stage!)

Subsequently this artillery strike was judged to be out of arc for the German guns, so...opps!

The Russians run forward, only to be mauled by the waiting Germans.

While in the centre...nothing much but the occasional rat-a-tat-tat of ineffectual Russian HMG fire!

I finally manage to change the 1st's orders from defence to attack and start psyching myself up for a rush across the valley with the 1st and the 4th in the north.

But time was running late, so, with this last turn of the game...

...where the easternmost [regular] Russian regiment was starting to look a little thin in the ground...

...and this one heroic German company in the south eastern wood suffers a suppression from three artillery strikes and small arms fire from two infantry companies....

...we call it a night.

Robin had finally committed his own reserve (which had been sitting quietly behind in his centre) to attack across into the 2nd who were defending my centre, whilst my 1st and the 4th were gearing up to attack that green Russian regiment across the valley in the north.

Robin estimated that, given another hour or so's play, the Germans would eventually come out on top.


Thanks for hosting the game Robin, it was very engaging. Those Litko markers really light up the table and give life to the narration the game.

For Robin's account of the game, please click here.



  1. Great to see such a good looking game using these rules and scale. I have copy somewhere and should have a look at later (I have to focus on Waterloo first). I've also seen some nice 1/72nd scale figures for WW1 as well. Looks like you don't need to many in order to have a good game.

    1. Yes, it was a good game. Quite like the Spear Head system - funnily enough, I think GWSH is just a little less fiddly!

      We were playing small defense lists, yet we both thought that was enough for a jolly good game. A couple of boxes of infantry, one of heavy weapons, one or two artillery (probably only need one, if that, for the Germans - though the Russians fare better with on table guns) would have done for our game.

      Not too bad for a table full of figures.

  2. Great pictures and battle report Nick! It's also good to see those old Airfix figures on a gaming table! Thanks for sharing!


    1. Thanks Peter. Took about four hours, but didn't seem like it.

      Those are all Robin's figures, he painted the Airfix Germans back in 1973!