Sunday, January 11, 2009

Solo Square Bashing Game

It was a very rainy Saturday and the family were out-of-town. Rather than break in my new hiking boots, I set up a very small game of Square Bashing (420 points) on my 3x5 dinner table. I've never played with these rules before but their "boardgameness" appeals to me as do the the claims that the game was easily playable in under three hours. So, even though I couldn't find my desert felt for the table, I set up a solo game.
The setting was, ostensibly, Mesopotamia. There were 3 closed squares and one redoubt (
L1 hasty defense) in the center of the board.
British side was composed of
One Infantry Brigade:
  • 1 British Infantry Battalion (Regular)
  • 2 Sikh Battalions (reg.)
  • 1 Gurkha Battalion (Professional)
One Cavalry Brigade:
  • 1 Regt. British Lancers (Professional)
  • 1 Regt. Indian Lancers (Professional)
Two MG Companies
One 18lb Battery (Regular)

1 Light Motor Battery (LAMB) (2 Armored Car models)
1 HQ

The Turk's force was composed of:
2 Infantry Regiments each composed of 3 Infantry Battalions (Regular)(one bttn. was reduced by a stand at the game's start)
1 Cavalry Brigade
  • 1 Cavalry Regt. (Reservist)
  • 1 Mounted Bedouin Band (Reservist)
2 MG Companies (Regular)
1 FK98na Battery
1 HQ
1 Fortification (the Redoubt, L1)

Terrain was as such:
1 2 3 4 5
a C(a5)=Village with trees
CCROO b C(b1)= Scrub C(b2)= Sand Hills R(b3)= Redoubt

I will "briefly" play out the game for you
  1. I randomly generated both sides orders, the Turks were adjusted lower than the Brits and began the game as the defenders. They set up in a3= arty & H; a4= 1 Infantry Bttn, Arabs and cavalry; b2= 2 infantry Bttns & 1 MG Coy; b3= 2 Infantry Bttns & 1 MG Coy.
  2. The Brits set up is c2= 1 MgCoy, 1 Light Motor Btty; c3= HQ, 18 lb Btty, 2 Bttns Sikhs; c4= Cavalry Bde, 1 MG Coy, Bttn British Infantry, Bttn. Gurkha Rifles.
  3. First Turn: Brits advance into b4 from c4. Barrage attack (type A) by the 18lbers on the redoubt in c3 (ultimately pointless). Turks attack from b2 into c2 but their MG coy gets hung up in the Sand hills and is left behind. They destroy one Armored Car & lose one stand of infantry. Both sides pass their Morale.
  4. Turn Two: British bombard the Turkish battery in a3 to no effect. Turks bombard b4 to no effect. British Cavalry lead the charge against the Ottoman force in a4. Both sides lose a stand and pass their Morale and so the battle continues. British troops withdraw from a2 into a3 where the Sikhs help to defend them. Turks follow up by occupying a2.
  5. Turn Three: British continue to push the attack against a4. They are joined by the remains of the LAMB and deal a pretty serious hit to the Turks who have themselves been reinforced by an Infantry Bttn from the redoubt. Again the Brits and Turks are at a draw with 2 cavalry stands lost on each side. Both sides fail one Morale Check ad thus are prevented from attacking or moving the next turn. The Turks attempt an attack on c3 but are repulsed by heavy MG fire and stalwart Sikh defenders. They fail their Morale and, again, may not move next turn.
  6. Turn Four: The Turks reinforce their redoubt with the MG coy from c2. The Brits move the 18 lber Batty into c4 and begin to bombard the Turks in a4. A quiet turn as everyone recovers from the attacks in Turn three.
  7. Turn Five: British artillery fire begins to tell on the Turks in a4. They move their own battery (and their HQ) into this square and are promptly destroyed in the following scrum. An all out attack by the British units in b4 ensues and the turkish player loses most of his arabs, cavalry, his HQ and his battery. He is forced take extra casualties as the loser who cannot retreat off the board edge.
  8. Turn Six: The Turks withdraw from a4 into a3. The game ends and the British, with a 10 point victory, are declared the winners, giving Johnny Turk a "Bloody Nose."
Over all an enjoyable game, though I much prefer a club game with actual opponents. The rules are more sophisticated than they initially appear with very small things (such as attack or defense values) causing you to use units in a doctrinally appropriate way. Cavalry is worthless in defense and thus is played very aggressively, but almost always takes the first hit; MGs worthless in the offense but really powerful in defense and thus are usually only moved in to secure or reinforce a square. The game doesn't really look right in 28mm when played on a small table and if using a club sized table (ours is 8x12) I would make the squares 24 inches across. Massed attacks would look better with 10mm or 15mm figures, as they would better resemble the formations used historically. That being said the game is not intended for 28mm figures and the bases I used were probably 25% larger than suggested by Peter Pig. For the middle-east I should have also used the RCW cavalry flank movement rules.
If you want a fast, fun WWI game that actually seems to work Square Bashing is still a good option after 10 years of existence. Not for the super-detail minded (for you there is Bloody Picnic or Great War Spearhead) but clever and quick

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