Friday, 7 July 2017

Vaagso Commando raid Gauntlet 2017

Members of the SOTCW (Richard C, Will, Richard P and I) had arranged to play a big Chain of Command game at the Gauntlet show over the weekend of 1st/2nd July.  We set up a 12x5ft table, mostly using Will's terrain which had an outing at the same event last year when we played out a Korsun Pocket game set on the Eastern front.  Snowy base comprises white bed sheets that Will has distressed with swathes of spray on greys, scattered with white vermiculite.  Will has a range of snowy and "normal" conifers, which made up the bulk of the inland area.  The sea is a combination of blue bed sheet and blue plastic card.   For the predominantly rocky coastline, we scattered some of Wills basing grit.  Will laid on most of the buildings alongside some of mine, which Will winterised with some add-on white felt.

On the day, Richard P was unwell (get well soon Richard) and couldn't attend, so we drafted in Gary to make up a fourth player.  Unfortunately, Richard was making a building suitable for the Ulvesund hotel and had a lighthouse, so we had to improvise.  Fortunately, a stone built hotel style building was found in Wills European building collection and Will hurriedly prepared the red and white lighthouse out of bits of household rubbish - amazing.

Looking north along the shore of Vaagsofjord.  The town of Maaloy (called South Vaagso by the British at the time) stretches along the shore into the far distance.

Wharfs along the shoreline with fish oil factories inland - one of the targets of the commando raid.

Will's scratch built armed trawler, one of the sources of Kriegsmarine reinforcements for the defenders.

The coast southwest of South Vaagso, where the commandos would be landing as per their historical deployment.

Looking south from the far end of South Vaagso.

Maaloy Island, just adjacent to South Vaagso, now linked by a modern roadbridge.  In the centre of the table is the freshly built barracks block housing the Kriegsmarine gunners manning the 4 WW1 vintage 75mm guns in their emplacements, the main target of the Commandos on this table.

Part of Maaloy Island.

The Kriegsmarine barracks and gun positions.

Jetties along the coast of South Vaagso.

More jetties and wharfs.  Loads of drums filled with fish oil.

Prepared defences south of Vaagso, a covered sfMG position and an open 20mm AA position.

The main area of fighting on the southern side of South Vaagso.

On the first day, I pitted a troop of veteran commandos against a platoon of regular German infantry commanded by Will.  I finished up with 12 points of support including a 2 tube 3" mortar section, an extra rifle/Bren section, medic, engineer team and 2" mortar team.  Will had 6 points and I regret to say I can't remember what he spent it on.

A British section advances along a hedgerow to get into a firiong position from cover on the Ulversund Hotel, the buff coloured building in the left middle distance.  Another section is moving up the left flank adjacent to the woods using another hedgeline as cover.

On the waterfront, one section has occupied the brick-built factory while another has just disembarked from the LCA.

A German section rashly advances out of the hotel and occupies a pig sty at the side of the church.  Shock quickly builds up.

The section in the corner of the field is now firing on the Ulversund Hotel, while the section by the church try and deal with the Germans garrisoning the pig sty.

On the waterfront, fire from German sections in surrounding buildings, especially the hotel, begin to whittle down the commandos, bren sections have to be very lucky to win a firefight with an MG34 team.

The Germans have broken the commando squads landing on the waterfront and now start to filter back through the buildings.

Germans pulling back into the hotel building.

The losses on the waterfront were too much for the commandos, and their command rating dropped to zero, meaning they could no longer be issued orders.  They still held the firing position in the corner of the field and the church, but lacked the ability to do anything else.  Pretty much a historical outcome as initial commando moves into town were repulsed by a stop line around the Ulvesund hotel, but a definite win overall for the Germans.

Things went even worse on Maaloy.  Richards commandos, with only 2 points of support, failed to make headway and were broken and a follow-up platoon suffered the same fate, after knocking out two of the guns.

Overnight we agreed to close down the Maaloy table and focus on Vaagso.  Will and I each took a commando troop plus supports, my troops advancing along the road and Wills landing on the waterfront.  Richard C defended the town, while Gary had a scratch platoon of 2 Gebirgsjaeger squads and 2 Kriegsmarine squads at the northern end of the waterfront.

Will and I quickly got our troops into firing positions around the Ulversund hotel and began battering it.  I managed to get the mortar spotters into a position to see up the street in Vaagso and call in a withering mortar barrage, which kept Gary at arms length.

Troops advancing towards the Ulvesund, with a Vickers MG and observer team in the field getting into position.

More commandos moving at speed to get into cover.  A preliminary barrage was quite successful at keeping heads down in the Ulvesund.

More commandos struggle ashore.

Last commandos reserve advancing along the road into town.

Commandos still getting into position, but fire from most houses surrounding the Ulversund plus the MG team begin to whittle down the Ulversund defenders.  3" mortar fire is disrupting the German reserves attempting to get to the Ulversund.

The mortar barrage doing its thing.

Near the end, the commandos are breaking cover and advancing on the Ulvesund under cover of fire from the MG team and from Will's commandos on the waterfront.

At this stage, Richard's platoon had undergone heavy losses with units pinned by mortars in the HQ office behind the hotel and units breaking in the Ulversund, and he decided they had done enough and resigned.  Gary's troops were unable to make headway, so we called a close to the game.
All in all a lot of fun.  The rules really do reward using the basics of fire, movement and cover, and punishes troops advancing in the open.  Hard work fighting house to house, just like the real thing and, on the second day once we had the right mix of attackers and defenders, leading to a satisfyingly historical outcome.  It was also great to catch up with friends and spend a relaxing couple of days gaming.
Thanks for looking. 



  1. Lovely pictures and account Andy. I spent the extra points on the historically accurate 20mm flak, which you never came near!

    1. Cheers Will, couldn't remember what it was, but then as you say never even got a whiff of it.

      Cheers, Andy

  2. Fantastic Chaps, sorry I couldn't be there. The tables look superb.
    Richard P