Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Through the Mud and the Blood - WW1 Canadians vs. Germans

Hello everyone, this is a bit late for an after action report, since the game was run when Curt was in town in July this summer.  However, after the game I got busy with work and then went on a 3 week road trip with the family.  Therefore, it's late by about a month.  The game was a lot of fun, so hopefully the report is worth the wait.

We used the excellent "Through the Mud and the Blood" rule set by Too Fat Lardies, which keeps putting out awesome rule sets that focus on the flavour and feel of an era rather than a competitive rule set. The game was based on a really interesting looking scenario that was published in one of the Lardies Winter specials that I have been meaning to try.  It uses some very interesting mechanics to track time, in the form of a "Tempus Fugit" deck that gets smaller each time you draw the one special card in it. It starts with 1 Tempus Fugit card and 4 blank cards.  Each time the TF card is drawn, one blank is removed.  When there is only the TF card left, the game ends.  A very interesting idea, and it worked quite well, running for roughly 10 fast turns before the TF card was drawn for the first time!  Once the deck started to thin out though, time really did fly!

The original scenario called for the Germans making an assault on a British position, however due to my collection of figures I reversed the roles, making the Canadians the aggressors.  They would have to come up a French country road and try to take a town that the Germans were trying to defend in a delaying action as the rest of their forces fell back to safety.  To win the Germans would need to dispatch twice as many Canadians compared to their own loses.  The Canadians however would capture 1/2 of any German unit that they were within 12" off at the end of the game.

Jim controlled the German force which consisted of an HMG squad, two rifle sections with 2 bombers each, and a level 3 Big Man.  They would start in the town on the hill along the right edge of the photo above.

The Canadians force consisted of 6 rifle sections and was controlled by Curt and Greg.  3 sections were from the 10th battalion and 3 from the 16th, so half in pants and half in kilts.  The Canadians also had both a level 3 and a level 2 big men to help coordinate the assault.  However, the Canadians would only start with 2 blinds on the table, with the potential to get 2 more on subsequent turns until everything was on the table.  They would also have 2 false blinds to help scout the area ahead of their main force (or potential mixed into the force to confuse the Germans).

The Canadians started out cautiously sending several blinds through the boccage and along the ridge line of the hill to try and reach the walled  yard along the treeline.  The Germans on the other side of the table felt that an aggressive defense was the best plan of slowing down the Canadians and advanced to the walls along the treeline and sent one blind forward along the road to the boccage and fields.
More Canadians arrive and start to make their way up the road.  The German blind can be seen to have moved even further into the fields, aggressive indeed!

Several turns into the game and the Germans revealed the forward blind as a devastating MG08 team, and worse yet they had worked their way forward to provide enfilade fire against the Canadian teams in the woods that had started to trade fire with the Germans behind the walls.

The Canadians reacted quickly to the new threat and moved up several blinds, and revealed one to take some shots at the MG08 team who was in the open from the new attackers!  Maybe the Germans had been over aggressive.
 Along the treeline things were heating up dramatically.  There were not 4 Canadian rifle sections facing off against 2 German rifle sections, the Germans had the better cover though and were defending.  Several rounds of fire were traded as the Canadians tried to inch closer to make an assault.  There were not many casualties on either side, but the shock was starting to add up.

 The German MG08 was extremely lucky to survive the opening volley from the Canadians and decided that discretion really was the better part of valour and retreated behind the boccage to setup for return fire the next turn.  With an open field between them, this flank was shaping up to be a stalemate unless someone got lucky on shooting.
The Canadians had finally setup their assault and were on their way in.
The Germans defended bravely, driving back the first wave of Canadians, but lost several men and were down to just 4 men on that flank as the second unit slammed into them.  Even with all the bonus dice for defending cover and the enemy movement, the assaulting Canadians got the best of them and overran the position.

In the end with only the MG08 section left on the table and the Canadians moving to envelope it on three sides, the Germans were forced to surrender.

Overall the game ran really well and kept flowing nicely.  The Tempus Fugit deck worked extremely well, even if it ran a bit more in favour of the Canadians by lasting so long early on.  Once a few blanks were gone though it started losing cards faster and at the end, there was only one blank card left.  If a blank or two had been drawn earlier, the Canadians may have run out of time to make the final assault and then the game would have been extremely tight on points to determine the victor.

It was another great game of Through the Mud and the Blood, I can't wait to host another!  I need to get back on track and paint up some more men though, my forces are only about 1/2 the size I want them to be.


DeanM said...

Nice terrain and troops. Haven't played the rules yet; I used to use WHH The Great War, but plan to use Bolt Action with mods. Definitely not into large trench terrain for games too. Best, Dean

Greg B said...

This was a great game Byron - you did an excellent job on the figures, the terrain and the scenario!

I am a slow convert to the Lardies' game rules, but I definitely enjoyed this. Thanks very much.

Dallas said...

Great looking game!

Curt C said...

It was a wonderful afternoon out, to be sure. Your figures and terrain looked ace and the scenario ended with Greg and I winning, so what's not to like! Thanks again for hosting Byron.

Muskie said...

I bought these rules, I even started painting my VanDoos, but like a lot of projects, life got in the way...

Someday I'll get back to the project, I liked the rules too, I researched a lot of rules sets to do WW1 trench warfare.

Michael Peterson said...

Glad to see these rules getting more mention, and lovely to see your figures, most impressive. I had thought at first from the writeup that this was a Hundred Days battle, but the figures looked early war, or was it a case of playing with the figures you have? In any case, a great game by the looks of it.