Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Portable Wargame ... in the Chaco!

Back in September Nick Huband – who is also a long-time member of Wargame Developments – sent me a short report (with a stunning photograph) about a battle from the Chaco War that he fought using an earlier version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

At the time he promised to send me a more detailed battle report ... and it arrived today!

ENCOUNTER IN THE CHACO
by Nick Huband

Opposing forces
Bolivia:
6 x Infantry stands
1 x Machine Gun stand
1 x Carden Lloyd tankette stand
1 x Mountain Gun stand
1 x Command stand

Paraguay:
6 x Infantry stands
1 x Machine Gun stand
1 x Mortar stand
1 x Command stand

Special rules
  • The tankette counts as an armoured car as it can readily be knocked out by infantry.
  • The mountain gun counts as an infantry gun.
  • Pinned troops may not fire and require 2 pips to unpin.
  • Bolivia gets one less activation dice than Paraguay as the Bolivian Army was generally less tactically flexible than its opponents.
  • Break point at 50% casualties.
  • The aircraft is for decoration only (until I can write some rules).

Initial set up
The scenario is quite simple, a meeting engagement between two opposing advance guards. Both side’s objective is to push the other back.


Move 1
Bolivia activates first. Their tankette moves straight down the road supported by infantry and a machine gun.
Paraguay now starts to feel their way round the Bolivian left flank.

Move 2
The Bolivian advance continues with their mountain gun firing ineffectually in support.
Inspired leadership (10 pips!) allows the Paraguayan right flank to continue to advance, meanwhile infantry and a machine gun move forward on the left to try to stop the Bolivian tankette.


Move 3
The Paraguayans seize the initiative and continue their push into the Bolivian’s left flank. On the other flank, infantry and machine guns open up on the Bolivian forces, knocking out their machine gun. The Paraguayan mortar tries to knock out the tankette and (unsurprisingly) fails.
In the centre the Bolivians continue to move forward and on their left flank open fire on the advancing Paraguayans pinning one unit.


Move 4
Machetes raised, the Paraguayans on the left flank try to close with the Bolivians but are beaten off with casualties. In the centre however the Paraguayans successfully ambush the tankette knocking it out but losing a unit of infantry in the process.

Move 5
The Paraguayans persist in their attack on the right but their forces are dangerously isolated and the Paraguayan CO is killed in a brave (foolhardy) attempt to restart the attack.

Move 6
The Bolivians infantry on the left now counterattack the shaken Paraguayans. A close quarter firefight causes casualties on both sides leaving both the attackers and defenders exhausted.


At this point a quick calculation showed that both sides had suffered in excess of 50% casualties so both sides fell back to await reinforcement to continue the attack.

Comments
An entertaining game playing to the strengths of the Portable Wargame. Both sides could be enthusiastic but were poorly trained and equipped. The typical Chaco terrain of brush and trees limited the influence of machine guns and tanks. Numbers and effects of artillery were limited, although I feel that direct fire could be more effective. Firing directly, there is less chance of an error in bearing although still chances of errors in range so could the following chart be used?


I need to think about the effects of command elements, their loss results in one less activation dice but perhaps this should be balanced by an increased close combat value? For this type of game, I envisage the units as platoons with the officer commanding the force being a battalion commander equivalent with the opportunity of him influencing the action directly (“H” Jones in 1982).

The game was highly entertaining with the outcome in doubt right up to the last moves. I try to play solo games without too much overthinking (as can be seen by the rather impetuous Paraguayan attack at the end). An advantage with the Chaco War is that I have no emotional attachment to either side, although I confess a sneaking admiration for any army that can dress its troops like old-fashioned milkmen!

- o 0 o -

My thanks got to Nick for sharing this battle report with me and the regular blog readers. His comments are very helpful, and will assist me to develop the next version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

14 comments:

  1. That looks a sweet little game

    i still plan to paint some old plastics around these rules Bob

    It's on my to do list

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  2. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

    If you can get hold of them, Airfix WW1 British Infantry and RHA Gun Crew make quite good Bolivians whilst the Airfix ACW Confederates make passable Paraguayans. Those were the (now long gone) figures that I first used for my Chaco War battles.

    You don't need many figures for either side, so a box of each will give you more than enough figures, although you may need to hunt around for Heavy Machine Guns, Mortars, and Mountain Guns.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Very nice looking board. Love he colors.

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  4. Hi Bob,

    That looked like an interesting bash and no mistake!

    I picked up on your comment about playing solo games without overthinking. This is a curious phenomena but invariably always tends to work out in an interesting fashion - mainly because of the unexpected nature of such things and usually the fact that a 'live' opponent would never have considered such an option even if their historical counterpart often did!

    All the best,

    DC

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  5. Very nice and very original.
    Bravo!
    Bye

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  6. Have a look at http://khurasanminiatures.tripod.com

    Part way down the page ae a set of troops (KM-2800 to KM-2803) designed specifically for the Chaco wars

    Andrew

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  7. Dale,

    Nick's modelling is very good, but his techniques are usually very simple. In the case of the baseboard it is MDF with a light patchy dusting of green spray paint.

    Very simple and very effective.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. David Crook,

    May I just correct you on one point; 'overthinking' was Nick's concept, not mine. I wish that I had thought of it because it is an excellent expression, but alas I did not.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. TOD,

    Like much of the stuff that Nick Huband produces, it is very simple but also very effective.

    Just looking at it makes you want to play it, doesn't it?

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. ADB (Andrew),

    I have seen the figures and I think that they are the ones that Nick has used in his game. It is a pity that there are no other figures for the Chaco War in larger scales.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. Hi Bob,

    I stand corrected (and apologies to Mr H!) - that'll teach me to half read things in the early hours!

    All the best,

    DC

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  12. David Crook,

    I am sure that Nick would understand ... especially as he is almost a neighbour of yours (he also lives in that part of Essex!).

    My next blog entry should be of interest to you as it features some more of Nick's excellent models.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  13. A lovely production - does your friend have a blog?

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  14. Conrad Kinch,

    He has not started a blog or website yet ... but one hopes that he might do one day.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete