Wednesday, 23 July 2014

And now for something completely different

...tanks, to be precise. I loved these when I was a lad, but I don't like making them - too fiddly.  However, Thomas has expressed a bit of an interest, so we will be taking the plunge.  Several questions will need to be answered, the most immediate being which scale, and which rules?
Bill set up a scenario at the club yesterday evening, by chucking together as much of his stuff as he could.  The idea is that, somewhere in Sicily in 1943, a Tiger tank undergoing trials has broken down in some cruddy village, as they do. The infantry with it stop off for some ersatz coffee while the engineers start work on it. However, the allies have landed and news is brought of an impending enemy advance by some cruddy Italian tanks, M13-40s no less, as you can see in the first photo. The race is on - will the Brits get here and capture the Tiger?  Will the engineers fix the damn thing?  Will the little motorbike manage to rustle up some reinforcements?  I play the Italians and the Tiger, while Keith, Darrell and Billy lurk off to the right of the shot above with Panzer IIIs and IVs.  Alan, Alan and Hayden play the attackers, coming from off to the left of the first shot.  Everything is supplied by Bill, in the form of various 15mm models and supporting troops.
A commander's viewpoint: what my M13-40 command tank can see.
There are two platoons of German infantry in the village.  One is to the left of my position, one to my right.  Coincidentally, this is the direction from which the German armour will come, so I leave the guys at my left to their own devices as my motorbike roars off to activate the platoon to my right.  I reckon the other guys will wake up when the Brits arrive anyway.
My five M13-140s scatter into various positions.  I also have three Semoventes to the right of the photo above, which I send off towards the right flank of my position, ie the top of the photo as you look at it.  The engineers are still having trouble starting that Tiger's engine.  Stupid fuel sumps...
My despatch rider arrives at the villa and has great fun kicking supposedly elite German infantry to their feet, before roaring off to the right in search of their reputed armour support.
The view from my semi-armoured crud: a British formation led by three Shermans.  I am well outgunned, not to mention the fact that they have a longer range too.
The Semoventes make it to their position at my right.
Those Brits are good - must be veterans from the desert rats.  Three shots, two kills.  My commander is going to have to scurry for cover.  The attackers have had to slow down to shoot me up, giving the engineers time to get the tank started.  It starts backing off, slowly, off to the right of the photo.  Tigers are always slow.
At the left of this photo, you can see that my commander has made it around the wall and out of sight of those Shermans.  This has moved him out of command radius of his other two tanks, who sit tight until they are told what to do.  Fortunately, though, the Tiger has managed to move back a bit, before one of the sumps almost caves in again.  I have to give it some time to rest.  At the top of the photo you can see British infantry arriving in force.  They are content to screen the Germans in the villa nearest them, lobbing mortar shots to make them keep their heads down.  More enemy armour is at the top right, moving towards my Semoventes.
The Germans roused by my heroic motorbike move out of their own villa to the field beside the Tiger.  The motorcyclist has by now found the German armour, and it can be heard off to the right, roaring forwards to engage the Brits.
The guys in the forward villa hold on.
The view of the left of the field from my rapidly retreating command tank - lots of British armour.  Fortunately, the Tiger has started moving again, but even so this is going to be tight.
The Brits turn up the heat on the villa.
The Panzer IIIs have arrived on my right, only to be met with devastating fire from those Shermans.  Oh well, at least they'll buy some more time for their big brother in the centre.
This, however, is not good. My commander has not quite re-established control over his other two tanks, and the Shermans have arrived.
It turns out that the only decent gunner in the Italian army happens to be in this tank, scoring a suppressive hit that stops the Sherman briefly.  Basically, I needed a six, and that's what I rolled.
The remnants of my squadron can now retire, escorting the Tiger further to the rear.
The Panzer IVs have arrived at my left, only to meet the same fate as the Panzer IIIs.  These Brits are good!
A final gratuitous shot of the guys doing all the damage.

The Tiger almost broke down again, but we called time with it still intact, despite the loss of seven tanks for pretty much nowt done to the Brits.  It was enjoyable, and I liked the rules (Spearhead). Thomas wants to play a low-level game, where a tank is one tank, so I have been thinking of ways to adapt the rules.  The ranges are relatively low when compared with the size of 1/72nd models, but I can easily scale up the weapons.  I think I know how I'm going to do this...


  1. This is a slippery slope, sir. We can only hope it is a step towards Late Kingdom Egyptian chariotry, via cowboys and indians, rather than fully fledged rivet counting - ism. Nice.

    1. You're dead right, Simon, it is a slippery slope. But I still resist chariots that don't have internal combustion engines!

  2. Good to see something that little bit different. We all have our favourite periods and then the fun periods. Beware the slippery slope!

    Cheers, Ross

    1. Hi Ross, it's good to hear from you. I've always fancied WWII, but I also know what I'm like - gotta catch 'em all. Once started, never finished. It is odd, though. There are some periods that I have no interest at all in collecting (like chariots), although I really enjoy playing them. I suppose it's all down to energy and time. Maybe it's becoming time for some tanks.

  3. Nice game report. Like the scenario. Our group is in the same quandary. We're looking to get into WW2, but don't know what rules to use. Don't think we've checked Spearhead out. Will have to give it a look. Our GoTo guy on this period died suddenly about a month ago with a massive heart attack. Has put a big dent in our group, but we carry on. Thinking about Bolt Action. We've yet to give it a try.

    1. Hi Mitch, thanks for looking. Another possibility would be Rapid Fire. I just liked how Spearhead felt and played - I had a pretty good idea of what to do after only a few minutes. It 'felt' right, if that makes any sense.

      Sorry to hear about your WWII guy - we have a lost a few stalwarts too..