Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Vladivostock Railways regret delays to the 5.15 to Tashkent...

I managed to coax Legatus [Stephen] back to Guildford Wargames Club with the promise of an outing for his undoubtedly inscrutable Chinese Warlord army against my ideologically sound Bolsheviks.

Ever since I read some of Peter Hopkirk's excellent books on this theatre, I've always found it a fascinating area.  Both of us have built up armies based around Mark Copplestone's excellent figures [Copplestone range ].  As well as my Bolsheviks I also have a number of Chinese and White Russians and archaelogists.  For some reason I also have a large number of RCW figures in 20mm... who knows why!!

We had decided to try out the Triumph and Tragedy rules as I'd heard good things about them on LAF.  Previously I've tried using Contemptible Little Armies [fun, but bloody] and Red Actions from The Perfect Captain [excellent rules!] but being a sucker for new rules I was keen to try out T&T.

The key feature of the rules is in preparing the unit cards: each army has a stack of cards, one for each unit, which you have to place in activation order at the start of each turn.  Each player then reveals the top card simultaneously along with their order [also chosen from a ceck of cards]... this avoids players hoding off, waiting to see what their opponent is going to do and forces you to commit to a course of action each turn.  In practice this worked really well and we both found the rules pretty intuitive and quick to pick up.

I'd set up a variant of the scenario contained in the rules, changing it from a Red v White encounter to an attack on a remote railway station on the Russian/Chinese border.  The Chinese were attacking, attempting to seize the station and the vending machines full of revolutionary KitKats, while the Bolsheviks had to hold them off and attempt to telegraph for help... one of the unit Leaders was a highly trained telegraphist who needed to enter the station and tap out "HELP!!!!!", presumably in Cyrillic-morse dots and dashes.  The terrain was, I have to confess, decidedly un-Chinese like with a number of woods and corn fields providing cover for the attacking Chinese.

The game began with a lone Naval unit [not sure how they'd ended up somewhere in Central Asia but let's face it... if Trotsky has ordered you there you're unlikely to argue with him!]  Both sides had 3 or 4 infantry units and a MG [heavy for the Chinese and Light for the Russians].  The Chinese were also possessed with a cavalry unit so new and shiny you could almost smell the fresh paint on the figures and who were, therefore, doomed!!!

The Navy guard the station... note the tactically deployed
Yak in the background!

The brave (and doomed) cavalry advance

The Chinese made a rapid advance towards the station while the remainder of the Russians arrived at the table edge and began moving up in support of their Sailor comrades.  The cavalry cunningly skirted round the woods along the left hand table edge and began quickly threatening to flank the station.  One of the newly arrived Russian infantry units took up position in the woods and then thought better of it and fell back , refusing the flank to the cavalry and making ready to take pot shots at them.  The Navy engaged in some surprisingly effective long-range fire against some of the Chinese while remaining safe behind a wall.  Over on the right flank the Red LMG advanced quickly and began firing on the advancing Chinese infantry... I'd had high hopes for this but it immediately proved to be rubbish, largely missing the Chinese hordes and then being shot to pieces by the Chinese HMG!!

The Russians guard the railway

...before bravely advancing (and then rapidly retreating
again once they spot the Cavalry!)

A series of exchanges on the right then followed with both sides becoming badly shot up and accumulating lots of suppression markers [a bad thing] before managing to recover from them [a good thing].  The Russians were holding their own but were being gradually worn down.  Over on the right Stephen's lovely cavalry were, as predicted, being steadily shot up by the infantry and by a unit of locals who's turned up to see what all the fuss was about [a Raw, leaderless unit who proved surprisingly effective].  The cavalry eventually turned about and rode around the woods before bravely, and pointlessly, attempting to charge the Naval unit.  Their charge fell a cruel couple of inches short of the wall and they were annihilated by rifle fire....thus perish all newly painted units!!!

The Cavalry launch their charge which ran out of
steam just in front of the wall...oops!

They were followed up by an infantry unit who proceeded to lob hand grenades over the fall, devastating the sailors.  The Russians had tried a similar tactic on the other flank, missing their target but managing to take out the Chinese HMG by accident!!

In the centre the Russian telegraphist had managed to send his message and then withdrew from the station.  The Chinese general promptly rode into the station and armed with nothing more than an impressive hat [..oh... and a sword!] seized the station single handedly.  The remainder of one the last Russian units charged in and defeated him but were in turn charged by the remnants of a Chinese unit... the net effect of which was that everyone ran away from the station!!

At this point we took stock of the situation... most units were severely depleted apart from each side's 'raw' unit, both of which were somehow fairly intact.  We decided to draw a veil over the remainder of the battle.  My version of events is that the Chinese decided to slink back off across the border with their tails between their legs while the revolutionary heroes were relieved by reinforcements steaming down the track to their rescue.  I'm guessing Stephen may put a different spin on it!

In conclusion the rules worked very well.  The game was fast and we picked up the key concepts quickly.  I'm sure we made loads of mistakes [for example Stephen's general should have been more effective in combat due to his 'fearsome reputation'] but nothing that caused us major problems or would have had a major impact on the game.  It would be good to try them out again, possibly adding in vehicles or artillery, and they'd make a good addition to my quest for a decent set of rules for the Spanish Civil war.... highly recommended.  Thanks to Stephen for an excellent game!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks indeed and for a coherent account of the rules which I totally failed to manage!

    I need to build my little armoured car thingy!