Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Dalian 1904 RJW using Blood Big Battles

I've had a copy of C.S.Grant's Scenarios for Wargames for more years than I care to count but I've never ever played any of the scenarios. Last week I picked up the book and decided to do the first scenario - Positional Defense - using Bloody Big Battles (BBB) and my Russo-Japanese forces.

For fictitious games I like to have a bit of background as to why there is a battle so welcome to Dalian.
In the 1890s the Russians spent a fortune on building the port of Dalian situated on the north-east corner of the Liaodong Peninsula. Railway lines connected it north to Mukden and south to Port Arthur.

After the Russians were defeated at the battle of Nanshan they retreated directly to Port Arthur leaving the entire Liaodong Peninsula and Dalian wide open for the Japanese. They used the port as the main supply base for the siege of Port Arthur.

This scenario supposes that a Russian Division  retired on Dalian to deny it to the Japanese and to threaten their flank when they advanced to Port Arthur. In response the Japanese sent 2 Divisions to capture it.
Therefore the river now becomes Hand Bay. The built-up area "B" is Dalian and the woods become a kaoliang plantation. The game objectives are Dalian and Xiangu, and Redoubt C. All 3 positions are connected by rifle pits. There are also redoubts at 1 and 2.

The book lists the forces in terms of Horse and Musket armies - line & light infantry, light & heavy cavalry etc. So I did a simple conversion of 1 line infantry unit = 2x3 stand Infantry units and everything else, light inf, and cavalry, become 1x3 stand Infantry unit. Artillery converts on a one-to-one basis. for this game units represent battalions and batteries

This gives the Russians 11 infantry battalions and 4 batteries and the Japanese 20 battalions and 4 batteries.

In BBB terms both sides are armed with repeating rifles and breach loading artillery. . All troops are Trained and the Japanese are classed as aggressive. The redoubts are Entrenchments and the trenches are Rifle Pits.

The original scenario allows only light infantry to operate in the wood/kaoliang. For our first game it was treated as difficult going ie -1 to the command roll but this was way too easy for the Japanese to advance through. I changed it to -2 to the command roll for our second game which slowed them down quite a bit.

In the first game Mike and Shaun played the Japanese and Dave and I played the Russians.
Start of Game 1

The Japanese sent 10 battalions through the kaoliang, storming Redoubt C and rolling up the trench line whilst the the other half pined the Russians and then attacked and took Xiangu once the Russian left flank had gone.
Japanese forces form in column to enter the kaoliang fields
Russian defenders in Xiangu
The Russian line from Xiangu to Redoubt C

As the defender of Redoubt C I can lay the blame fairly and squarely on the firing dice - artillery completely missing a battalion in column at 3". The Japanese claimed victory with 2 objectives and a shattered Russian force.
Game 2 - the Russian line looking north from Redoubt C

In the second game  Rodge, Andy & I played the Japanese whilst Shaun and Steve played the Russians. As it was harder to advance through the kaoliang only 6 battalions were sent through, 3 battalions feinted against Dalian and the other 11 did a frontal assault between Xiangu and Redoubt C. This was a miserable failure for the Japanese.

The force in the kaoliang managed to get through but then suffered a turn of truly awesome defensive figure where the Russians could not roll under 9 for every shot leaving the Japanese in a complete  mess
The Japanese advance through the kaoliang fields...
... and emerge to storm of Russian bullets and shells

My feint against Dalian was incompetent. I deployed my guns at a range of 17" which turned out to be 22" so they were completely ineffective. I then decided to advance my 3 battalions into firing range of which only the first one rolled enough to move whilst the other two remained stationary. The Russians then rolled a 12 with 16 fire points on the advanced battalion destroying it completely.
The unimpressive feint

The frontal assault managed to overrun the rifle pits between Redoubt C and Xiangu  but then faltered seeing how ineffective it's flanking forces were.
The Japanese attack begins
The view from the Russian rifle pits
Advancing in column against trenches - what could possibly go wrong?
The assault goes in awash with smiley faces - yellow is disrupted & green is low on ammo
The Russians counter attack
The attack falters under heavy fire from the Russians in Xiangu
With the Russians victorious one of the Japanese commanders prepares to give a two fingered salute to the commander of Redoubt C

 This time a victory to the Russians for holding onto all 3 objectives.

Two good games based on a simple scenario with very different results partly due to dice rolling, partly to changing the effects of the kaoliang and ever so slightly due to my measuring abilities.

I enjoyed tying it in with our last RJW battle and am looking through the scenario book for the next game as the Japanese continue their advance on Port Arthur.

Once again BBB proved to be a great set of rules that give you the ability to tinker. The lads are very familiar with them now so I don't need to umpire. However given my showing in both games maybe I should stick to umpiring .

And the Emperor had promised me a holiday home if the Japanese captured Dalian

The figures are all by Pendraken

And I forgot to mention that we allowed columns to assault with the understanding that only the front rank could fire and melee and that they were classed as outflanked.