|Battlefront Centurion from their Australian Viet Nam catalogue rolls past a Crescent Root building|
Lately I've been knocking about the idea of a post-WW2 version of my Medieval and 18th century (no, I haven't painted anything for them, or you would know) Imagine-Nation, Mantovia. Mainly, I think as an excuse to field Centurion tanks, without the depressing realities of either post-Colonial Africa or the Arab-Isreali Wars. This coincided with the desire for another solo bash of I Ain't Been Shot Mum!
with loads of tanks, so Saturday night I set up the table and then played this out over Sunday and Monday (which I had previously booked off), finally finishing after dinner Monday night.
Brief history: Founded by Count Raymond the Good in the 11th cent
. Mantovia was one of many small states in the Holy Roman Empire. Count Ludwig was elevated to King in 1746 as a reward for leading his regiment of grenadiers in the storming of a Prussian battery at the 3rd battle of Klumpenberg. Although some court wags noted that Ludwig's fervor was perhaps the hotter because he wanted to "get this damn battle over with"
so he could return to his young and beautiful bride and play for her the new concerto he had just composed.
Even after the Prussian victories of 1866, Mantovia remained loyal to the House of Hapsburg, remaining a quiet, peaceful backwater of sheep and vinyards until it's sunny days were interrupted by the clomping of jackboots in 1938. As the country was absorbed into the Greater German Reich, the tiny Mantovian army was absorbed intto the Wehrmacht as the 816th Infantry Regiment. King Raymond IX knew better than to show open defiance, but quietly instructed his police kommisar to obstruct Nazi policy as much as they could with out attracting the attentions of the feared Heydrich. When war came, the royal palace became the nucleus for a quiet resistance program rescuing allied pilots and gathering intelligence. In early May of 1945, white bedsheets festooned the windows of Mantovia, and flowers greeted Combat Command A, 45th Armored Division. King Raymond met the cigar chewing, mud spattered, hard driving Col. Wilson in his courtyard, dressed in brown tweed. "Thank God you're here. Could you please not park your tanks in my wife's roses? I've been keeping Nazis out of them for the past seven years, be a shame to lose them now. Would your men like some refreshment?"
As the settling Cold War chilled the post-War sunshine, the Mantovian armed forces were rebuilt with British equipment paid for with American money as a buffer against the Soviet threat to the east. The Soviets meanwhile were busy rearming neighbouring Borduria, Mantovia's traditional enemy to the East. "A nation of bandits and blagards!" King Amadeues the III once declared. Mantovian fathers, when disapproving of a daughter's suitor, would declare the young man "Trouble from the east" and glower. Even when both small countries were part of the German Reich, Bordurian and Mantovian troops would always brawl if found near each other, helping the Allied war effort in their own way and causing headaches for German staff officers.
It is now 1949, tensions along the border have grown since a Bordurian Commissar, drunk on slivovitz
, started a skirmish with Mantovian Border Police. Sporadic shelling was met with airstrikes. Reserves have been mobilized. Foreign embassies in both capitals have been on high alert. Kampfgruppe Wahl
has moved to the frontier near Isabelstadt, quickly digging slit trenches and tank positions, stringing hasty barbed wire across the beet fields.
I set up the table, made my plan and then sent my friend Scott photos of the table prior to deployment, asking him where to place the Bordurian pregame barrages. He put them pretty much where I expected, along the line of hills, which is why I held my tanks back and dug in my infantry at the foot of the hills along the country road. So I only lost one MMG to the barrage, but had to scramble to get shock off two others before the Bordurian troops arrived.
|Bordurian troops mass on the Frontier|
|Mantovian tanks wait in reserve outside Isabelstadt before moving into prepared fighting positions.|
|Mantovian Forward Line of Resistance. 1 Platoon is dug in along the dirt road and 2 platoon is dug in around the T-junction. dug in MMGs, 6 pdr AT guns cover them from further back.|
|Bordurian forces begin rolling forward!|
|2nd tank platoon and 2nd Rifle platoon both lagging behind. One tank gets bogged in the river.|
|SU76s race ahead, impatient to get to grips.|
|Mantovian tanks move up into prepared firing positions|
|First kill! Lead Bordurian SP gun brews up in a spectcular fireball|
|Surprise! Bordurians try to close assault the slit trenches around the crossroad|
|Another uncoordinated assault|
|Bordurian infantry getting cut up at the barbed wire|
|Bordurian light bomber misses|
|Lots of long range tank dueling|
|3rd tank platoon gets hammered by Fireflies dug in on the ridge line.|
|1st tank platoon does an out flanking dash using the "Armoured Bonus" card|
|Mantovian reserves roll through Isabelstadt|
|Mantovian Firefly knocked out|
|6 pdr gets a kill! (finally)|
|Center and right of Bordurian attack. Lot of knocked out or very damaged tanks. No infantry that isn't pinned or shocked|
|Bordurian left. Again a lot of knocked out and abandoned tanks. Not a lot of infantry left. Only 2 of the Bordurian AFVs in the picture are still functioning, the far left T34/85 and the lonely SU76|
|Mantovian infantry still holding their line of slit trenches|
Since I hadn't achieved my objective of playing with my old Minitanks Centurions, I decided there would be a Phase 2. After all a 2nd Wave would follow on to try and exploit through the bridgehead.
So Monday after lunch, I replaced all of the brewed up T34/85s with T34/76s (the wrecks would obstruct the Mantovian gunnery) and reformed the tanks and infantry on the river bank. I left the surviving platoon and SU76 from the first wave in place in the woods east of the T-junction. I allowed a couple of turns of movement to redeploy existing forces.
|2nd wave advances|
|2 Platoon under a barrage. They lost their platoon commander in the first attack, and really I should have allowed a new Big Man during the reorganization phase between attacks.|
|Bordurians are putting most of their weight on the left, using the woods as cover, but the Mantovian HQ is calling a barrage down on the infantry, causing a few casualties but mostly just slowing them down.|
|Centurions get into position|
|Airstrike! 1st Armoured Platoon HQ hit, gun knocked out. Tank withdraws to the rear and the Plt Cmdr moves to the next tank over.|
|The green Epic 40K dice is being used to mark tank platoon orders. In this case "Engage" limiting movement, but giving a +1 to shooting.|
|"Contact right! Tanks. 300 meters. Fire!" 20 pounders firng APDS blast the Bordurian left hook.|
|Carl Gustav firing from 2 Platoon takes last T34 in the flank, brewing it up. Which was the only decent result the Carl Gs had all game to be honest. I let each platoon have one team.|
|The barrage lifts and the Bordurians make a more coordinated assault with an SMG platoon.|
|After a furious exchange of short range fire and hand grenades, the SMG Platoon is all but wiped out. In 2 Platoon, 1 Section is gone and 2 and 3 sections are down to 4 men each.|
|Long range gunnery duel finally gets results. Bordurian 2nd tank platoon is destroyed, one T34 exploding dramatically.|
That last turn of shooting from the Centurions took the wind out of the Bordurian advance. The 3rd (and only remaining) Tank platoon is pretty shot up. 1 tank bailed out and the other 2 withdraw heavily damaged.
|Mantovian front lit up by burning tanks|
|Wanted to see the LED burning markers looked like under low light|
The Butcher's Bill was terrible for Borduria; 12x T34/85s and 2x SU76s destroyed or abandoned and approx 150 men killed and captured. Mantovia lost 1 officer and 25 other ranks KIA, 1x Firefly destroyed and 1x damaged and 1x Centurion damaged.
Being dug in really saved the day plus liberal use of supporting fires ("Mortar" and "Machine Gun Bonus" cards turned up frequently) disrupted the Bordurian infantry so that their assaults could be easily repelled by Mantovian infantry.
Played solo over a couple of days using I Ain't Been Shot Mum
. I find the cards make leisurely solo play really easy. You can interrupt the game anytime for family, meals, sleep or even going into work for some overtime like I did, and not lose track of where you are.
The Centurion was designed to be on par with the Panther for armour but the 20 pdr gun with APDS was much better. So I gave them Armour 11 and AP 12. Of course every time I'd roll 5 or 6 successes, thinking I'd get a fireball, the target T34 would roll the same on it's 7 Armour dice. About half of the Bordurian tank casualties were mobility kills or just worn down with piled on shock until the crews bailed out.
So, bags of fun. Been toying with different scales, but I like the look of 15mm. 10mm isn't that much cheaper to be honest and would require all new terrain. In 6mm the infantry just disappear (I really like the look of British early Cold War soldiers in the MkIII helmet covered in hessian and the SLRs) and would also require all new terrain. Once Plastic Soldier Company
release their 15mm Centurion kit I'll start building proper forces, with the Bordurians getting some PSC T55s to back up their T34/85s and SUs. Probably use QRF Models
Modern British with SLRs for infantry too.