Saturday 13 February 2016

Hyicho-ri - an RJW battle using Bloody Big Battles

This is a fictitious battle set in the Russo-Japanese War (RJW) fought using Bloody Big Battles (BBB). The rules are aimed at refighting very large battles from the 19th century and share some similarities with Fire & Fury (F&F). The big pluses for me are that BBB uses 2D6 instead of 1D10 for the Manoeuvre phase, covers a wider range of weaponry and movement and formation/facing changes are simplified.

The left flank of the Russian army with Shaun's reinforced Army in the distance

Dave,Shaun and I had not played BBB before although we had played F&F so many of the mechanisms were familiar. We went for our usual RJW scenario - a Japanese frontal assault on a Russian-held ridge line - the Japanese objectives being the 2 villages behind the ridge.

The Russian right flank

Dave took the Russians organised into 2 corps
10 Infantry Brigades of 6 bases each - 2 Veteran, 6 Trained & 2 Raw
4 Artillery Batteries
2 Machine Gun companies

Dave spread his troops out along the ridge line with the 2 raw Brigades holding the villages.

Shaun and I had the Japanese organised into 2 Armies plus a Reserve
16 Infantry Brigades of 6 bases each - 6 Veteran and 10 Trained
6 Artillery Batteries

Both sides were a bit short on artillery but that's all I have at the moment.

Shaun and I went for Plan NO - this involved not having a plan, not discussing anything beforehand and just hurling our troops at the Russians. 

Russian artillery about to unleash hell

Japanese troops under my command waiting to advance

The Japanese Guard Division aim straight for the centre of the Russian position

The Russian centre held by artillery, machine guns and veteran infantry

The Japanese right flank beings it's advance past kaoliang fields

The Japanese left flank shakes out into line

The Japanese left flank takes a hammering

A quick word about the markers - yellow is disordered, red is spent and green is low on ammo

The Japanese left flank starts to disintegrate in front of the Russian positions

Japanese Reserves arrive but it is probably too late to save the day

The Japanese right flank prepares to attack

In the centre the Japanese Guards division approaches the Russian line

Every brigade on the Japanese left flank is now spent

With the collapse of the left the entire Japanese starts to fall back

A resounding victory for the Russians although I believe Kuropatkin had already sent orders for the army to retire on Mukden.

Naturally assaulting a position such as this one requires 2 or 3 times as many troops as the defenders so I need to paint up a few more brigades of Japanese infantry and artillery batteries

For future RJW games I may tryout indirect fire or pre-game bombardment and I will probably class the Russians as Passive.

Prior to playing I was a bit concerned about the weapon ranges in relation to movement and how I thought they were on the short side. Repeating Rifles and MGs have a range of 12 inches and Breechloading artillery has a range of 24 inches. Infantry can move upto 12 inches.

However as the author of BBB kindly pointed out to me

"A 12" rifle range means an infantry unit with 12" move will get shot at at least 3 times before it can close: once when it first moves within 12" range (enemy Defensive Fire); once in the enemy's next turn (enemy Offensive Fire); and a third time when it closes."

And from playing the game my Japanese brigades were only too happy that the ranges weren't any longer.

The only question mark that came out of the game was how to treat the kaoliang fields. In the war both sides used them to great effect for concealment. One to ponder about over a pint.

Overall a great set of rules  - not too many modifiers, some nice touches such as target troop quality having an affect on firing and easily picked up by the players.

Game Info
The rules can be purchased from Caliver Books
There is a Yahoo group for the rules here where the author answers queries
Figures are all Pendraken with the exception of some of the artillery pieces
Buildings are by Mura Miniatures