Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming

Beer and Wargaming...Pretzels?...Not so much...

The Green Inferno

Posted by Rob on December 23, 2015 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Continuing our Christmas game tradition, I ran a Bolt Action game set on New Britain in Dec. 1943 during the Battle of Cape Gloucester, known in Marine history as The Green Inferno.

The Black Labrador's Churchill Room as our setting had been freshly remodeled/expanded and decorated w/ natural evergreens and lights, giving it a nice Christmas cheer feeling.

Andy and Andrew brought their boys, and my Dad (USN vet) joined us for the evening.  Pre-holiday date reschedule may have hurt attendance but we had a great game.

The scenario was adapted from the experience of a diversionary landing at Green Beach by 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines.  The landings on New Britain were unopposed and the airfield at Cape Gloucester was taken easily, but sizeable Japanese forces were elusive to find and pin down in the dense jungle.  Terrain described on maps as damp flat was actually swampy dense jungle making for miserable conditions to move, survive, and fight in.

2nd Battalion setup a perimeter to block the retreat of any Japanese forces and was hit by night-time banzai attacks on Dec. 30 which were held off w/ great heroism.  Our scenario changed the result to a Japanese breakthrough and began w/ a fighting withdrawl by 2 Marine squads being pursued through the jungle to the beach by 3 Japanese squads w/ a Ha-Go tank, infantry gun, and HQ unit in pursuit.

The Marines elected to push aggressively toward the beach, while the USN LCM attempted to land a 37mm ATG to engage the tank which was restricted to trails and beach terrain only.  The LCM HMGs engaged the tank and scored pins, but the tank scored an immobilization hit on the LCM.  Meanwhile one of the Marine squads got caught by a Japanese squad using fire and maneuver and lost the ensuing close combat leaving only the USMC HQ and one squad in the final dash to the beach.  

The USN LCVP raced to the beach to pickup the surviving Marines while it's LCM cousin drifted ashore in the surf and landed the 37mm ATG.  The Japanese dropped a sniper hole (Pacific themed house rule) in front of the Marine squad and shot at but missed the LT.  The Marine squad over-ran the sniper scoring an easy kill.

As the climax loomed, the Marine ATG fired at the tankette and stunned the crew, but was then wiped out by the samurai sword wielding Japanese command group.  The LCM gunners returned fire killing off most of the HQ unit but were stuck on the beach in their immobilized LCM.  The surviving squad reached the LCVP, and was caught in close combat by a Japanese squad on their heels, but won the assault and consolidated into the LCVP.  The LT was killed by another sniper hole and the platoon sergeant jumped in the LCVP which then escaped from the tank which was still firing from the beach.

In the end a half squad of Marines survived, and the LCVP picked up the sailors who swam off the immobilized LCM.

A victory for the Emporer as the Japanese captured a 37mm ATG, and a damaged LCM.  Thanks to all who came out and enjoyed Beer & Pretzels in 2015.

Grieving Over Blown Bridges

Posted by Andy on March 4, 2014 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (0)

I call myself a wargame facilitator.  What can I say, I love organizing games and events for others to enjoy.  I think it started back in the day when I'd rather be "Dungeon Master" over "Dungeon Explorer".

I work hard to organize and prepare a fun game for those who choose to play in one of my events.  And when its over, I breathe a sigh of relief, hoping that everyone had as much fun playing, as I had in game mastering.

When the latest game is over, I relax a little, and start thinking about the next event.  Which means many times I find myself temporarily burnt out, and subsequently unable to find the energy or desire to take the time and write a proper after-action report for this site...

That's my excuse, and I'm sticking too it...

But it doesn't bode well for a site that needs new blog entries for visitors to read, to keep them coming back to these pages...so...I'm sitting down tonight...and catching up on some blogging.  Hopefully these articles will give folks out there something interesting to read, and provide a little recorded history for our  informal game club, so we can look back a year or two from now and say, "oh, THAT's what we were playing in 2013 and 2014".

Last December was the last game I ran that needs an after-action report, so what better place to start on this cold March night then to recap our simulation of those cold Belgian battlefields of 69 years ago.  Using Bolt Action, a large group of us, including Rob and his dad, John and his son, Brian, Matt, Chris, Stephen, Kurt, and my son, got together to recreate the iconic scene from The Battle of the Bulge, where several Operation Grief German commandos, dressed as American MPs, are confronted by a US tank crew and a nasty firefight soon commences.

We were able to use my figures, Kurt's Fallschirmjager, and his armored vehicles, together with my forest/road/river terrain and his ruined buildings.  All told I think the table looked pretty good.  The game began with the disguised German squad in the center of the table, just across a bridge, facing a single Sherman tank.  The remaining forces on each side entered out of reserve, including two Panthers and a German track and some FJ, and two more Shermans and more US infantry.

The German side got bonus VP for exiting forces off the Allied end of the table.  Both sides got standard VP for killing each other's units.

The terrain was dense and led to lots of cover for the infantry.  The tanks pretty much stayed to the roads and the Panther's made pretty good work of the Shermans, as to be expected.  The Germans tried a flanking move across the cemetary and fields, but in the end the Americans were struggling to hang on to the buildings on the very edge of the table.  The victory pretty easily went to the Germans, and everyone seemed to have a good time.  If we run this scenario again we'll have a better idea about tweaking it to make it more playable and more enjoyable.

As always, Rob provided some great post-event feedback, which I am including here so we don't lose the "paper trail" on stuff like this.

Things we got right:


  • "Assault of vehicles w/ SMG/shotgun does not get you two attacks. p. 50"
  • "Measure from muzzle of tank guns for range. p. 80"
  • "Small arms fire against that half track worked exactly right. p. 98"


Things we got wrong:


  • "Side armor for vehicle shots is a 45deg arc to either side of front, not a 180 front facing. We have to re-train our FoW thinking. I think both sides missed a lot of flank shots due to our misunderstanding of this rule. p. 84"
  • "Enter buildings at a run, not advance. This seems strange and we could house-rule that advancing into a building is ok, but as written its a run order only. p. 100. Note you can exit a building at advance or run. p.101 I'm trying to make sense of this but that's how it's written. I think it allows you to enter buildings faster. We should just play as written and get used to it."
  • "Assaulting into a building- we got this totally wrong last night, probably to the German's disadvantage. I blame last-turn/late night fatigue. p. 104 shows how to do it. The entire squads fight even though it's only one window. Makes it more bloody/decisive. The German squad could've thrown a lot more dice than the small US squad in the building and probably won that fight."


Changes to the scenario for future running:

"US reinforcements: Make it more random. Have the US roll each turn on a pool of tanks, artillery barrages, or bazooka armed recon units. Make a basic table to fit what you have available for the game and give one option for 'no support this turn' and another for 'US player chooses' on the extremes of the chart. This would be more of the penny-packet flavor that the Bulge was than a rush of US support flooding in on turn 2. Advantage to US is that they can respond to the German attack axis with reinforcements instead of early committal of assets like last night. The US squad in the woods and at least one US tank were totally out of position to counter the German attack on the opposite side. Having delayed reinforcements would help this. Would also allow the Germans to close the range and get into a point blank fight at the high tide of the assault - good drama."


All in all I'd say a fitting end of 2013.  We'll no doubt return to the Ardennes next December, and return to Bolt Action as well.  Rob and I are already planning.  I'll try extra hard next year to avoid the post-game-the-holidays-are-upon-us doldrums and get the after action report written in a more timely fashion. :-)