20 Haziran 2016 Pazartesi

161st Brigade at First Battle of Gaza

This weekend, we played one of the last play-tests with Trial by Fire WW1 rules before the rulebook is out. It was the first game played with our desert terrain and also the first Trial by Fire game of my friend, Deniz. He commanded the Ottoman-Turkish force and me, the British side.

So here is the game report;

The scenario was written by me, it was a recreation of the fighting withdrawal battles of British 161st Infantry Brigade at the First Battle of Gaza. This battle was the first British attempt to open the way for Palestine. The Ottoman defensive line lay between towns of Gaza and Beersheba. The British plan involved the infantry to attack Gaza from south and east; and the cavalry to encircle the town and capture northern positions. When word has reached of an Ottoman counter attack, the cavalry was ordered to withdraw. With their flanks unprotected, British infantry also abandoned their captured positions and fell back.

After some time, seeing no great Ottoman attack, the confused British command again ordered the infantry to advance. But by the time they have recaptured their positions, the Ottoman counter attack was now being launched. We have used the miniatures at hand and the scenario is by no means a strictly historical one but it's designed to be a fun game that gives the "feeling" of that battle.

Anyway, here's the deployment map;

There were two trench sections to the upper left side, representing the previously occupied ground of British 161st Infantry Brigade. The British mission is to recapture and hold on to at least one of these trench sections AND also control the escape route. (Objectives are marked with yellow stars.) Ottoman mission is to take back both trench section OR occupy the British escape route. The game shall last for 8 turns.

There were two Ottoman battalions (each two companies) near trench sections and two battalions (each two companies, one of them veteran) near the road. British units were spread in map with a battalion (two companies) near the trenches, an Indian battalion (two companies) towards the table center and another British battalion (three companies) on the road. Ottomans had a small howitzer detachment, a medium field artillery unit and a stormtrooper company as support and British had a large field artillery battery and a cavalry squadron.

Deployment (oops, Madame Coco at WW1!)

A view from Turkish side.

After British turn 1, a British company advances and occupies a trench section.

And Ottoman turn 1, an Ottoman battalion occupies the other trench section.

Indian unit trying to figure out how to take that position.

View from Ottoman occupied trenches. Indians and British cavalry in sight.

British hold one of the trenches and open fire to the enemy battalion in front of them. Turkish stormtroopers from the other trench section are ready to assault the British infantry.

Meanwhile towards the British right flank, the Turks are divided. Veteran battalion decides to move around the hill while the rest of the force moves towards the British. Two British companies take positions to fight off the Turks.

Ottoman view from that position.

The British occupied trench section is in trouble. After the stormtrooper assault and howitzer shots, the British infantry is down to just a few men. But they pass their morale dice and stay on table, soon to be totally destroyed.

There is also assault preparation on the Turkish occupied trenches. British cavalry dismount and now with infantry support, they are ready to charge.

On British right, two infantry companies exchange fire with the Turks in front of them while hoping that the flanking force never make it on time.

Dismounted cavalry and British infantry assault the Turks, after lucky dice rolls, they destroy the enemy and jump in the trenches.

Indians soon follow and do their part, capturing the trench completely.

And as the game comes to an end, the Ottoman flanking force, doomed with bad Regimental Command dices, are delayed and can't make it on time to capture the British escape route.

The game end, one trench section is in British-Indian hands...

and the British, although nearly destroyed, still hold the withdrawal route. A very close victory for the British side.

That was a very enjoyable game, full of tactical thinking and hanged on balance to the last moment. If the Turks had some luck on Regimental Command, the veteran units could have flanked the British defending the escape route. And the outcome of trench hand-to-hand fight could have not been estimated. Maybe, just maybe, if the Turkish veterans did not try to flank my force around the hill and advanced head on towards me, things could have been different... But this is a big maybe...

Thanks to Deniz again for this game. Hope you also enjoyed the report!

Free Trial by Fire WW1 rules shall be available very soon!