We were the Whites, and we had to defend our train.
It had ‘broken down’ … but it turned out the engineer wasn’t exactly helping our cause. More of that ‘wrong sized leaves on the line’ nonsense, I suppose …
This was a Return to the River Don game, and Graham will probably blog it Blood on the Tracks as it featured a whole host of cavalry from both sides rushing to a no hope settlement somewhere in the middle of nowhere to save or seize the apparently immobilized train … and there was some debate about mechanisms.
So I’ve bagged ‘Riders on the Don’ – a good name for the cavalry supplement in due course :)
Obviously, it was a fabulous game … It had Red and White cavalry and an Armoured Train.
Now, in truth, I can think of quite a few things wargamers like more than Cavalry and Armoured Trains – Hmmm … but I should stop thinking about them right away as I am trying to update my 20th Century Wargames blog.
Returning to the River Don scenario, yes, it pushed a lot of buttons.
For Martin Goddard … a few more pictures of the train …
… in the dawn, with White cavalry squadrons forming up in the distance …
… and seen from the white horizon.
The Peter Pig Model is based on the BP 35 train (1930s/early GPW), I think.
Following the comment thread here, the great length of the impressive PP train was largely decorative … the piece in play was the artillery car (which Graham allowed to deploy 2 regimental guns and 2 maxims). Everything else was ignored for all game purposes. It was stuck at the station (a BUA with a footprint roughly the size of the building base) but its armament was fully functioning.
So I think we were dealing with a single train, in scale mustering up something like a battery’s worth of medium gunnery and 2 company stands worth of maxims. All round, but there was some debate about this. And about whether it should have been able to shoot through/over the station buildings template.
Of course I think ‘yes’ on all counts – but then I was commanding it (and would give it lots of bonuses anyway, just to reward players for putting them on the table).
However, to follow-up on my recent comments re the strength points of these train units (and I would again emphasise that just as a base of troops might represent more than just the guys on it, so a train model in a game might represent more than a single train – and the typical train unit seems to have been 2 fighting trains + back up) … I thought I might share with you all the following quote from Wilfried Kopenhagen’s handy guide ‘Armoured Trains of the Soviet Union’ …
‘ … Armoured trains were first used in larger numbers during the fighting for Tsaritsyn …. in October 1918. With the help of central fire control, it was possible to manoeuvre the twelve armoured trains with their fifty guns so as to quickly go to the aid of the most threatened sectors … ‘
Well, even I’d assume that was exceptional (did I hear someone say … there’s a game in that … ?) …
We just about hung on … the Red cavalry ejected us from the buildings but we managed to get back in … our own troopers turned up in the nick of time and intervened between us and almost certain butchery at the hands of another Red unit sweeping down from the other end of the battlefield.
Amidst all of this, and just to frustrate the game designer, almost every melee was drawn, even the 19 dice vs 4 dice! (yes, I know) … and that in itself made all the factors, dicing, and saving throws feel like a lot of work. Too much work …
Some of this is in the mechanisms. I am reminded of Professor Sabin’s mantra re cavalry in the ancient wargame. In all his games, they give and receive many more hits than do most infantry … the reason is that cavalry actions, from the Age of Alexander (if you like, to, say, Mars La Tour …) resolve themselves faster than infantry actions. My guess is that this will prove to be true of the Russian Civil War too (quality issues aside).
At the moment, my impression is that cavalry melee is pretty much the same as infantry melee – so faster, deadlier and more brittle would likely give a better flavour ..
Then again, the joy of it all is that RCW is a period about which I been able to do very little original research, so my thoughts on this are mostly assumptions, analogies and military common sense. And the last of these, at least, has often proved to be a classic oxymoron.
You learn something all the time in this game.
Graham has updated his blog since the game, so you can read more on this in his post Remaining Civil