Sunday, 27 April 2014

ANZAC Day 2014

ANZAC Day started at 5am so that I could get to the dawn service in Rotorua and ended at midnight after an evening game at John's place. Obviously the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War made this service quite poignant, although next year is the hundredth anniversary of the ANZAC landings and that will be far more so.
As a special form of commemoration we decided to have a WWI game at John's on Friday night. I decided that I would umpire and we would use the Contemptible Little Armies rules. The New Zealanders would be attacking on the Western Front against a German force. the Kiwis were rated as elite (morale and tactical 5) while the Germans represented trench divisions (morale and tactical 3). Before the game I didn't get around to designating points and so it was a case of deploying everything on the tabletop and the NZ forces having recycled reserves (when a unit was lost it could come back on).
The battlefield at the beginning of the game
The allies were given a preliminary bombardment, but there must have been something dreadfully wrong with the artillery as it did minimal damage to the German forces crowded into the trenches and failed to remove any of the wire. This was about to result in a replay of the 12 October 1917 attack on Passchendaele...
Kiwis advance into wire and machine gun fire
'Gut targets, ja?'
The Kiwis climbed out of their trenches and valiantly assaulted the enemy. In the end something like four waves of attack went in. The result? There was no point in cutting the wire as no NZer even reached it! To be fair the Germans were thinned down on both flanks to the point that one more assault wave might have made it through, but by 11.30 pm it was clear that this was a disaster of the 'First Day of the Somme' proportions. Was the scenario unwinnable? No, not if the bombardment had concentrated on an area to take and the attack had been concentrated on that sector. But the Allied generals were immune to any kind of tactical finesse. The results were predictable and by the end of the game a little sickening. Not counting tanks and artillery the allies lost 10 full units to two Germans. Someone's head was going to roll for this shemozzle...
View from the German lines
Kiwis attempt to advance through withering fire
Wave after wave of brave boys move forward...
..but the German line remains steadfast!
Come on boys!
I have to admit that the game played out like a stereotype of all the reasons why wargaming WWI is pointless and unenjoyable, but to be honest the players made it so with their tactics of 'advance and hope we get through'! It was a difficult scenario, but not impossible. I plan on running another game in August, so we will see if out generals (just like those in WWI) have learned their lessons!


1 comment:

  1. That's a grim reflection on history but a great looking game.