The Emerald Musketeers

The Emerald Musketeers

Monday, 2 March 2020

An Introduction


Hi everyone! Since joining Stevie and the gang over on The Game Cupboard blog,

 we've talked about also joining forces here on the The Emerald Musketeers, and to be honest, who in their right mind could turn down such an offer?!


So, in the very near future I'll be migrating my current gamut of games featuring Feudal Japan...

 ....... a small area of Renaissance England



and quite possibly (we're not sure yet whether it qualifies for inclusion here), some “Horse and Musket” fantasy!

I've also decided to start a new project here. I've been inspired by Stevie`s Stalingrad campaign and decided it was high time that I revisited WW2 on the table top – to be honest, it's such a part of my wargaming DNA that I'm more than a little surprised that I haven't returned to the subject earlier! 

“Oh no, not another WW2 campaign” I hear you cry.

Well, rest assured that even if it was, there's no way that I could imitate Stevie's style and presentation, so even if I did just pick a different theatre of the war, there'd be more than that geographical difference between our battle reports to “hold your interest”. In actual fact though, I've decided to take an Alternative History route, and explore the excellent “Seelowe Nord” novel by Andy Johnson.


There'll be a little delay before this one actually gets started – I've still got to get the troops unpacked, assembled and painted, but now I've posted this on the blog they've been given Top Priority on the workbench!
`Teaser` by Greg


Thursday, 13 February 2020

The Battle

And so it begins.

I`ll keep it simple as I am just coming to grips with street fighting in Stalingrad myself, and am really not sure just how the Russians will fare in this rather unprepared skirmish to control the street. No preliminary mortar bombardment to pin the enemy behind their protective walls. No smoke to cover the Russians mad dash across the square, and worst of all, no clear idea of enemy numbers, or their composition.. or even their exact location among the building ruins.

The Commissar ordering the attack had said "There is no support available at this time!" and as the rifle company had not been supplied in days, they would have to make do with the meagre resources available to them. At least they had plenty of ammo and a few of those Molotov's Stinski had managed to concoct from their precious reserve of vodka.

`Recognisance in force` the Commissar had called it...  and no one was about to argue with him as to the potential suicide of this insane mission. "We can tell him all about it when we see him again in hell," Peterkin had joked, but no one had laughed.

A lone IS-2 heavy battle tank lay in wait behind a warehouse,  just in case of need.. "but only to be committed" the Commissar had stated, "if the situation demands it."

These clear plastic rulers are really handy for this type of close up range calculation.

I declare the position of my Russian sniper and prepare to kill the MG42 machine gun crew located on the top floor of the ruined building across the square. She has a bead - she takes aim, and shoots... and misses her target completely (despite her +2 for being a sniper)! It was always going to be a difficult shot, but in the excitement and heat of the battle, as she watches her comrades dash across the open ground, her hand shakes ever-so- slightly, and the shot goes astray.
 The fight for the ruins is about to begin in earnest.
But fortunately, the rifle section charged with attacking the ruined building across from The Commissar`s Offices, lose no time in coming into close contact with their enemy.
The ensuing melee is fierce, but the Germans do not give ground. The Attackers roll a nice high 6 on the die, and receive a +1 for charging on the first round of combat: but the enemy outnumber the Russians by 2 to 1 (-2 to the die roll) and another -2 because the Germans are defending a building = 3. The Germans only roll a 2, which gives the Russians a pip point advantage.. but its not enough to win the fight for either side, and the melee continues for another turn.
Collective fire from several rifle `strips` pour down upon the ruin, but do little more than cause a myriad of pock marks in the brick work.
A strip is a group of 3 or 4 miniatures acting as a single base/unit (less if a leader or special unit). There can be any number of strips in a full unit - 1 to 6 strips being the norm.
Measuring the distance to the ruined building.. medium to long range for these supporting rifle units!
One strip does manage to create an accurate fire group, but a high save by the Germans (for being in hard cover) soon diminishes this to a `no effect` result.
The wargamer happy at his play.
The attack presses on.
High on the roof tops of the Ruminov Building Suite, German spotters radio in the Russian positions to their friends on the ground. 
More Russians filter into the square, for the time being.. protected by the tall buildings in front of them. But Germans on the roof above - have now spotted them....
Germans start to appear from many roof tops all around the square, and engage in some sporadic fire, aimed down upon the attacking Russians.
A lone anti tank rifleman takes up position behind cover, and lies silently in wait in case the Germans bring up any support armour. An anti tank rifle against an AFV or even a half track does not stand much hope of defeating it, but any help is still better than none.. hey comrade?
A few grenades tossed from a roof top overhead, soon dispatches a few strips of Russians sneaking round the side of the building.
Back at the ruined house, a second round of combat sees a repeat of the last phase, and both sides remain tied in a stalemate of suppression fire and cover saves. Without their initial charge bonus, the Russians are finding it increasingly difficult to oust the Germans out of their strong dug in positions.
The German MG42 swivels into new position, and absolutely riddles the derelict vehicle they suspect the enemy sniper is hiding behind. The rusty old car begins to resemble a pin cushion... but the sniper is not harmed.

Meanwhile, the Russian rifles making their way round the side of the building.. seeing their comrades at the front get blown apart by lobbed grenades, decide to crash through the windows and into the unexplored house itself.
They are momentarily overcome with awe at the hidden cashe of food supplies they have discovered in the first room they enter. An urgent hunger starts to gnaw at their bellies: and this costs them the initiative.
Germans crash into the room, panicked.. but determined to kill their hated enemy. Stiff resolve also gives them a firm bonus to their morale... defending their food stuff is vitally important to them. 

A swirling mass of close quarter fighting ensues
All is chaos for a few moments
... but it is a Panerfaust  that finally finishes off the Russians...fired at extreme close range, it nearly singes the hairs off the German`s heads as well. The building (and the food store) is secure and remains in German hands.
But the Russian attack is beginning to falter, and so the Commissar sends in the tank.
 This should really even the field.
It swivels its turret toward the ruined building. Takes aim and....
And misses the MG42 entirely.
Heat from this multi ton behemoth melts the ice on the ground under its very tracks, and oil, like ichor drips from its terrible metal body. A scream of metal on stone as the beast begins to turn for another shot.., and a howl from its hot diesel engines makes the vehicle sound primordial and alive.
The German heavy machine gun can do little else but return fire and hope for a miracle. But miracles do occasionally happen.
The MG needs a 6  followed by another 6.
All that searing heat and dripping fumes must have been a ticking bomb waiting to go wrong. A flash, a spark, a flame, and a sudden fireball... and the tank explodes from the inside.
There is a ragged cheer from the Germans on the roof tops.
Over in the ruins, the Germans inflict blood and a strip of Russians is removed from play. Morale is checked on both sides, and surprisingly both sides remain firm, though the Soviets are beginning to feel a little shaky.
A whistle is blown from somewhere behind the Russians, probably from the Commissar's section of the streets, and they start to retire from the battle and back to their start lines along the Pugovits and Rachkov warehouse district. The heavily smoking tank helps provide cover for the retreating troops to find safe paths back through the rubble.
Russian losses have been high this day. But the Commissar does not see it as a complete failure. 
"For we have learned the resolve of the enemy in this sector. The next attack will be more successful."
Article by Steve

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

The Eve of Battle

So yeah, I guess I`ve been a bit busy. Painting, assembling, planning, cogitating endlessly over uniforms and insignia (keen to create an overall theme for Soviet Army Group South and the German 6th Army), reading and watching DVD series and endless You Tube videos... all about Stalingrad of course *winks* which is where my foray into the East will begin, pushing onwards through The Motherland... can`t miss Kursk after all, that would be sheer sacrilege: I plan to cover many many battle reports, and eventually end up recreating the actual `battle for Berlin` itself.

Like all wargamers, I`m kinda keen to get everything to the table at once: but that would be madness, and create a clutter that would make even Field Marshal Paulus wince in aesthetic distain. So although I want to show everything I`ve been preparing over the past weeks, I will reign myself in and keep it only to what`s relevant for the coming game.

I`m fairly happy with the rules I will be starting off with, as they allow me to play anything from small skirmishes, larger skirmishes, right up to full blown table spectaculars on my 6` 4` table. For now though, I will keep it small, and really try to get to grips with the new project, and inject some life into the old beast.

The game is set up, the characters and troops in position (mostly hidden in buildings and below in the extensive sewer systems... along with the civilians fighting their own battles, just to survive the war raging over their heads).

But at the moment I am assembling and painting new miniatures ten to the dozen, somewhat akin to the gears of industry at the Dzerzhinskiy Tractor Factory. So rather than wait for a lull, which will allow me, finally, to test run the engine and get the cogs of war moving, I thought I`d do a little intro photo teaser. A sort of what`s to come very soon blog post.. for anyone who is interested in following along.
You don't need a big table area to play a WWII game... just a good set of rules.
.... and some miniatures
.. and some terrain - LOTS of terrain actually. You need lots for this sort of game, or your little guys will be mown down at a rather frightening rate.
... and easy access to all sides of the board. That`s where my Lazy Susan really shines, and becomes an invaluable piece of kit.
.... the action will be close up and extremely fierce. So to give these chaps any chance of surviving the coming onslaught, they really do need lots of places they can hide behind (or in).
... scatter terrain is also essential.
.. and buildings too. That`s where most the combatants are right now... safe inside. All these buildings have detailed multi level interiors, which the Soviets intend to visit - fairly soon.
... but not if the Germans have anything to say about it.
.... all is still in the balance and remains to be seen.
..... even an empty street can be deceptively deadly. Snipers and trip wires and mines and hidden machine gun crews are everywhere.
Nice looking vehicle parked there... but is it booby trapped?
... every open space is a potential killing ground.
... every window hides a potential threat.
... an MG 42 nestles within a ruined hovel, offering a withering field of fire to anyone foolish enough to cross the empty square.
.. a support team waits below on the ground floor.
Even short distances can seem like a mile when under concentrated enemy fire.
... rubble lies strewn about everywhere in the streets.
... but still the Russians silently prepare their imminent assault.
... a bottle of Schnapps is passed around the unsuspecting German Grenadiers holding the ruin.
... an ominous quiet descends upon the streets of Stalingrad.
... yet all is not still, as Russians move in, with murderous intent.
... every second that passes, the advancing soldiers hold their breath.. expecting at any moment to hear the call of "ALARM! from German spotters on the roof tops.
.... As yet, no warning has been sounded. The Russians remain undetected.
.... there`s that vehicle again. Not a bullet holed pock mark on it. Just dust, and a pair of cat`s eyes peering out from underneath.
... the Russian rifle battalion remain as stealthy as that cat.
.... The Wehrmacht are suspicious, but hope the silence is simply a brief, rare, but welcome respite.
When you remove the covers, the (working) stairwells in these lovely plastic buildings are really neat, and connect to each floor seamlessly.
The stage is set...
All hell is about to break loose.
.... forces are arrayed
...most the troops remain concealed
Derelicts and remains of former fights over this same ground, are evident all around.
Shell craters from mortar fire dot the streets.
... from somewhere, a dog barks.
... and Still the German scouts see nothing untoward.
On our little two foot square board.... battle is about to commence.