Home Forums General General Last Stand

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #86191
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Is there any sort of last stand type scenario you would like to play?
    I quite fancy 6mm Rorke’s Drift.

    #86192
    Mike
    Keymaster

    > Though to be fair I suspect a great deal of that desire is just so I can quote bits from the film…  😐

    #86193
    Russell Phillips
    Participant

    > Though to be fair I suspect a great deal of that desire is just so I can quote bits from the film… 😐

    Nothing wrong with that.

    There’s an action in Red Army by Ralph Peters, where a Soviet airborne unit is dropped to take a bridge. The expected ground forces never arrive, and in fact aren’t expected to by anyone outside the airborne unit – the drop was a diversion.

    I think that makes an interesting scenario, especially if the Soviet player hasn’t read the book.

    Military history author
    Website : Twitter : Facebook

    #86197
    JozisTinMan
    Participant

    I have played Camerone several times as the French and it is always an interesting problem of shifting forces around and managing your scant resources as long as you can.  I like the idea of the defender not knowing that it is a last stand until too late, I remember that chapter from Red Army.  Maybe a disguised scenario?  Market Garden in space or even the horse and musket period, with a group of dragoons seizing a bridge and told to hold out for X turns.  But a messenger gets through on X-2 that the reinforcements are never coming…

    http://jozistinman.blogspot.com/

    #86198
    Russell Phillips
    Participant

    In just relied on the Soviet player not knowing the book, but I like your ideas for adapting the concept to other periods.

    Military history author
    Website : Twitter : Facebook

    #86202
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    I’ve played Roakes Drift many times and won with Zulus a few times. Last stands can fun, The Alamo, Islawana or even Little Big Horn. The victory conditions can just do better than they did in the real battle.

    #86204
    John D Salt
    Participant

    There’s a selection of historical sketches of such actions in Bryan Perrett’s book, with the obvious title “Last Stands”:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Stand-Battles-Military-Classics/dp/0304350559/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

    Of these, I have always thought Sidi N’sir the most interesting, 5th Hampshires and 155 Bty RA in Tunisia. Unfortunately 155 Bty seens to have been dsbanded, but the traditions of the Hampshire Regiment are maintained by the PWRR.

    A game of Isandlwhana I played many years ago was unusual in that it had rules for ammunition conservation, and, as I wrote in “The Nugget” at the time, nothing concentrates your mind on the question of ammunition conservation more than being speared to death by Zulus.

    I think the last stands I would be most interested in re-creating on the table top — all post-1945 — are the BATT at Mirbat, 6 RAR at Long Tan, and the IDF’s 7th armoured brigade in the Valley of Tears. All astonishing defensive battles, and possibly failing the strict test of being “last stands” because, in each case, against all expectation the defenders emerged victorious.

    All the best,

    John.

    #86206

    As a matter of fact, many of my games have somehow turned out to be last stands.

    #86214
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I’m not sure what a last stand is.

    I thought I knew until I thought about it.

    Take Rorke’s Drift. They survived. Against the odds yes, but they ‘won’. Was that a last stand? Do the defenders have to expect to lose, to be killed? Did the defenders at Rorke’s Drift expect to die? Or is it the judgement of the soldier on the ‘Clapham Omnibus’ we have to consider. Would a reasonable military judgement have been that they would be wiped out?

    Assuming for a second both the subjective (actual defender) and objective (reasonable soldier) test were passed, then Rorke’s Drift was a failed last stand. It wasn’t a last act of defiance at all, it was part of their continuing service.

    Long Tan is another case where the defenders survived. My only quibble would be about whether the Australians believed beforehand or even at the time of the fight, how terminal their condition should have been.

    Do the defenders have to be defeated for it to be a ‘last’ stand?

    I suppose Camarón is a last stand, although what the point was is hard to say. Once Danjou had got them stuck in the hacienda they made a conscious decision to fight to the death, or at least that’s the story the Legion like to tell, and carried on until only 17 out of the 60 were taken prisoner.

    Isandlwhana is interesting because the commanders and men thought they were off to thrash the Zulu, right up to the point where they weren’t. Was this a last stand? Or a monumental cock up, glorified as a ‘last stand’ to save face? There wasn’t really a chance to do anything else except fight. The choice of surrender appears not to have been an option under the circumstances. So was that a last stand? Or just a very bad defeat? Does ‘Last Stand suggest an element of choice is required like Camarón? Is it otherwise just fighting to the last man?

    The Alamo was a case of deliberately sacrificing a group of people to make a political point and shame the rest of a nation into supporting the political position taken by the ‘defenders’. There wasn’t really any military reason to fight there, no real chance of winning and everything to gain by losing ‘gloriously’. Does that count as a last stand? They were defeated but it wasn’t a terminal act of defiance when everything else was lost.

    The 300 at Thermopylae was a last stand. But the cultural reasons for it may not easily resonate with us.

    I’m not sure I fancy refighting many of these – except those like Long Tan, and perhaps Isandlwhana where as the defender you don’t think you are going to be the defender until it all goes tango uniform. But of course you can’t fight them as the actual named action as everyone would know what was about to happen. Disguised scenarios obligatory.

    #86244
    Gaz045
    Participant

    I have used the ‘Last Stand’ setting quite a bit, a few years back we did a couple of shows with The Alamo in 20mm, using the Imex figures mostly. The twist being that the players were the commanders of Mexican regiments vying for glory but trying to keep their forces reasonably intact to curry favour with El Presidente,Santa Anna.

    The Zulu campaigns have provided scenarios too……..my favourite being ‘Zulu Run’, where a small group of soldiers have to journey from table end to table end, pursued by an ever reinforced Zulu force whilst dodging the ‘horns of the buffalo’ that randomly emerge along the table edges…….some players decided to make last stands to attempt to fight the Zulus off…others ran and ran only to tire and fall to overwhelming numbers. The best result was a successful fire and movement manoeuvre with the flanks protected by the mounted officers using their revolvers and sabres to fend off the nearing warriors…..

    We transferred Rorkes Drift to the Eastern Front once too…….a German unit isolated in a farm attacked by Soviet partisans……..and Sci-Fi bug games are similar!

     

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by Gaz045.

    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    #86258
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    The Battle of Roncevaux in the 8th Century between Pyrenees Basque hill folk and a rear-guard of Charlemagne’s army is a game which I have played before. But I have never been satisfied with the table-top terrain nor the figures for the Basques. So a battle with great terrain and legit Basque figures is on my bucket list.

    Another battle which could be seen as a last stand, by both sides, was the 1rst Century BCE Battle of Alesia, which I have played sections of in miniature. A larger more comprehensive game in miniature which captures the full flavour of the whole battle has been a pipe-dream of mine for more than forty years but is impractical at 15mm scale I think. I even scratch-built about 12 linear feet of modular field works before I realised that I was too deep in over my head. I only painted about a third of it for smaller scale games.

    I have played the June 7th, 1944 battles at Authie and Buron both separately and as part of a larger battle in both 15mm and 6mm, but again have never been satisfied with the terrain and in this case urban terrain mechanics. While Authie was a last stand Buron was not one in the strictest sense.

    The Battle for Mont Lambert by the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, just south of the channel port of Boulogne was a German last stand where the Canadians as part of Operation Wellhit used Defrocked Priest Kangaroo APC’s, AVRE’s, Crocodile Churchills and other specialised Funnies to root out German defenders. While I have played one game where it in part played a tangential role in the action (the armoured rush to the port), I have always wanted to do the action on the hill as a stand alone battle. Again terrain difficulties and a lack of heavy guns, fortifications and field works has prevented me from doing this game. But I really want to. Table size is another problem too.

    Finally the ill-fated 1944 Battle of Hill 140 where the tanks of the British Columbia Regiment under Col. Worthington were all but wiped out by the Germans in France is a game which I think qualifies as a last stand. Again I’ve played it in whole at 6mm and in part at 15mm but have never been satisfied with the terrain and its role in the battle. Table scale is also a problem given the long range fire of the German tanks and guns so even at 6mm scale spatial bath-tubbing had to occur despite using a 12′ X 8′ table for the game.

    Cheers.

    Rod Robertson.

    #86266
    John D Salt
    Participant

    I’m not sure what a last stand is.

    I thought I knew until I thought about it.

    Well there’s your problem — “most of the trouble comes from thinking”, as one of the soldiers said in Tolstoy’s “Sevastopol Stories”.

    Without thinking about it too much, I think I think something counts as a “last stand” if there is no retirement or extraction plan. A term I’ve often heard, which I think means much the same, is a “Die-in-place Defence”. When I was in Exeter UOTC a distinguished if eccentric officer involved in our training, Rory Walker (MC, and mad as a badger in a cake shop) thought it would inspire bloodthirsty young officer cadets to become adequate leaders if he quoted from a document allegedly found secured by a bayonet to the wall of a bunker that was overrun during the “Backs to the Wall” battles in 1918. This said, in part, “Special Order of the Day: We are staying here. We may stay here alive, or we may stay here dead, but we are staying here.” Hardly in keeping with the NATO idea of an elastic defence, but never mind that, it was stirring stuff.

    Last stands generally seem too have an appeal to the emotions. I’m not sure on what grounds it would be considered that “the cultural reasons for it may not easily resonate with us” as far as Thermopylae is concerned. I can’t think of many combats from half a millenium before the birth of Christ that resonate more, unless it be Horatius holding the bridge. There’s not only a film about Thermopylae, there’s a film about the film! Few things resonate to that number of echoes.

    We all like a good last stand. Rob Robertson mentioned Roncevaux, and the Song of Roland is one of the foundation-stones of French literature. We English probably pay a bit more attention to Agincourt than we should, perhaps on Shakey grounds. The Alamo provides the foundation myth for Texas; commemorating the death of Hussein at Karbala is still one of the main events of the year for Shi’a muslims; the Israeli Defence Forces invoke the spirit of Masada. British paras remember Arnhem; US paras remember Bastogne; my own regimental association runs an annual pilgrimage to Risquons Tout, Mouscron, because of three Queensmen with a Bren carrier who simply fought in place until they were all killed. People who are “sick of this dam’ war: the blood, the noise, the endless poetry” will probably find that last stands have contributed almost as much poetry (or other literary and legendary gubbins) as they have blood (and here I must confess my shame at having attempted a Villanelle for 5th Hampshires about Sidi N’sir).

    Perhaps last stands are not likely to be tactically very interesting, as both sides expect the defenders to be obliterated, and wargamers famously prefer oddly-well-balanced meeting engagements or mutual advances. For the unromantic tactician, the main point of wargaming interest here is I think the idea of the “golden bridge”. If a “last stand” is a defence without an extraction plan, and if the defenders are the sort of people likely to subscribe to the romance of going out in a blaze of glory (“How can man die better/Than facing fearful odds/For the ashes of his fathers/And the temples of his gods?”) then it is probably a foolish move to deprive the other side of an extraction plan they would otherwise like to have. The idea of a “golden bridge” –leaving the enemy a way out — is discussed in Paddy Griffith’s wonderful “Battle in the American Civil War”, but I have not really seen it mentioned elsewhere. The only rules I know to reflect the effect are in SPI’s “Sinai”, where Arab units surrounded by enemy zones of control have their defence values doubled, and the Israeli player has the option of waiving a ZOC in order to avoid this, and so produce a retreat rather than a “die-in-place” defence.

    All of which makes me wonder how much morale rules should allow for the existence or otherwise of hope, because it seems to me that soldiers who have resigned themselves to the idea that they will not survive sometimes take an awful lot of killing.

    All the best,

    John.

    #86270

    I have played 1/72 Rourke’s Drift and the last Stand Scenario from “Wargame Scenarios” and both were great fun. Currently, I am working on a solo 1/72 fantasy siege that will simply be the last stand, like Helm’s Deep with a set garrison and waves of Goblins, Orcs, Ratmen, and undead.

    #86273

    John, I  believe the “Golden Bridge” originated, or at least came down to us,from Vegetius, who also implanted the “wedge” in the brains of rules writers.

    I’ve often wondered why they never use the others of his famous seven formations,  including my favorite,  the “spit”.

     

     

     

     

    #86283
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    John,

    I wondered whether someone would pull me up over Thermopylae. I don’t mean it doesn’t resonate with us. Obviously it is one of those stories that raises the hairs on our neck, particularly the whole ‘Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by…’ thing of Simonides’ poem. My father told me the story when I was about four and I remember the sensation as I heard the words. (I also remember being worried I’d have to keep quiet while a wolf cub gnawed through my chest if I weren’t careful, before I realised Lacedaemonian values were generally no longer de rigeur).

    But just as I’m not sure we, as a culture, see the value of exposing children on the hillsides or suffering unto death to keep casual theft quiet, I am not sure we understand the cultural mind set behind the action of the 300. Yes you can map a modern sense of unit loyalty and personal honour onto it, but whether we ever really get close to the mind set of those involved, as you say, in an action half a millennium before the birth of Christ, is moot.

    I suspect there is a Venn diagram that encompassses all my picky concerns about intentions, timings and outcomes and reveals true ‘last stand’ status – but as you say it is probably an appeal to emotion that counts.

    (I think that may be one of the reasons I am uncertain – it doesn’t seem to necessarily be the actual events that appeal – it is the emotional tweaking by poets, artists and film auteurs. Roncevaux – is it the actual ambush and massacre by Basques we remember or the romantic Song of Roland? -blow the ******* horn man! Rorke’s Drift – the somewhat scrambled actual defence and the 5’6″ Frank Bourne or Nigel Green and the endless singing? Horatius at the bridge is Macaulay’s triumph, and Horatius, Lartius and Herminius all survived).

    Best wishes

    #86588
    Usagitsuki
    Participant

    Might do Anderson and Panesar at the Swalec stadium in 2009 in 54mm one day.

    #86682

    Our next game, using ‘Fistful of Lead’, will be a last stand…

    "Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

    "I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"

    #87564

    One of the lads couldn’t make the game so we halved the figures, drew cards, and I got the 7th Cavalry. The Injuns closed quickly heedless of casualties…

    The ‘Boy General’ put up a hell of a fight, killing the Cheyenne’s war chief, The Great Lame Beaver…

    Then gets stabbed in the back by Chief Chicken Hawk Squawking…

    The Boy General staggers to the top of Last Stand Hill, only to fall to a headshot from the Injuns in the distance…

    Taday we go home by a road we do not know… Hoka Hey!!!

    "Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

    "I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.