Firstly the table ended up rather larger than expected:
Now I didn't have a problem with this, per-se. The organisers had given us a generous allocation of space in an airy room towards the far end on the show. But it was not the busiest of spots. The game stretched from a 6 x 4 layout I intended to closer to 9 x 5! However we also had space for poperwork, background books and the like.
The plan was to represent one of the many probing attacks of the Serbs around Vukovar in late summer 1991. To that end there needed to be a lightly defended village as the centrepiece of the battlefield:
This had involved rebasing and refreshing a couple of my generic buildings only days before. For the record, these two are both from the Dapol model railway range, and are both perfectly suitable for the region, used sparingly that is!
The base for the battlefield is clearly the ubiquitous 'faux fur':
I had the club remit to make this look passable, which given it was a vivid GREEN!! was a challenge; not one yet fully mastered I think. After having a tentative go at it with hair clippers I took it out and oversprayed it four times, with a mixed of light green and sand yellow spray paints. The effect is far better than the raw cloth - visible along the fringes - but still a long way from natural.
As to the actual game, after staring at the table for a little while and answering a few questions from traders, myself and Mark set to with a very vocal playing of the game, only stopping to chat to punters as required, for a couple of hours anyway! The Serbs were ordered to exit the opposite side of the battlefield, inflicting whatever damage they could on the way, but with a priority to move armour off the table. Clearly for the Croats the reverse was the case.
The Croats allowed the Serbs to advance freely for several turns (frankly it reduced the battlefield to the intended dimensions by permitting this), before stopping their lead tank with an RPG round that disabled its' main gun and caused an ammunition fire in the turret.
The Serbs began to deploy infantry to cover the armoured advance, whilst the piecemeal defence of the village was supported by a handful of reservist militia. ONe of the Serbian M84's cleared the tree line and pushed back a resilient unit of Croatian National Guard from the Villa on the road. They had to leave their Transit van behind!
To the Croatian aid however, came a Hidroelektra armoured personnel carrier with more National Guard - with the even more deadly Armbrust anti-tank rockets. Which was just as well, as the ZNG M18 Hellcat had been destroyed in an ill advised exchange of fire at range with a T55 tank.
At this stage things looked bad for the Croats, but the battle was about to turn. The Second M84 tried to cut through the tree line, and hit a mine, shuddering to a halt. Croat Guards took the opportunity to pick off the immobile vehicle with an Armbrust. The Serbian M60 APC was also destroyed in a similar fashion. Serbian regular infantry left their truck on the road to support the tanks but were caught in a crossfire, whilst the remaining M84 over extended itself and was also caught by RPG fire and lost it's main gun too.
Latterly the first T55 hit, remobilised by the surviving crew as an armoured machine gun platform, was hit again and this time spectacularly destroyed. Marks attack was down to one last tank and it looked likely the infantry would be mostly walking home too.
We called it a day there and left it as a display for the rest of the, now rather quiet, afternoon. We'd certainly managed to talk to a lot of people during the day, and three themes seemed to arise frequently:
- Is that a real vehicle (the Hidroelektra)? Yes it is, here's one of the same series:
- Did they really have M18's? They certainly did, here's one at the Homeland War Museum in Turanj:
Yes, there is a M36b2 next to it. A lot of people aren't aware the Americans supplied the Yugoslavs with military equipment in the 1950's.
- How do you find the Rules; I've heard they are confusing? Well, there is certainly a truth to that criticism, but once you've played a few games and decided what bits you want to use and what bits you want to ignore or adapt (as should be the case in any set of rules) they work fine.
* I guess when it comes to choice between Wargames and Women, Wargames lose out....