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This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

I hope this blog offers you much enjoyment and some inspiration !

vendredi 24 août 2012

Tien-Tsin (July 13th 1900)

This is the third of a set of three historical / semi-historical scenarios for fighting the key battles of the Boxer Rebellion, using the POW ruleset.

The allied army in Tien-tsin has been on the defensive since June. The 9,000 men within its walls (4000 Russians, 3000 Japanese and 2000 others) are insufficient opposite the tens of thousands of Chinese commanded by the General Ma.
The Allied army, occupying both banks of the Pei Ho, has two weak points : the railway station on the east bank, and the fragile pontoon bridge which is the only means of communication between the two wings of the army. For the last three weeks, Ma has thrown assault after assault against these two objectives. The Chinese commander has an important contingent of artillery, and the troops on the west bank, in the Legations, have suffered badly from continuous bombardments.

In an attempt to relieve the pressure, the Allies successfully stormed the Western Arsenal on July 9th, but were forced to abandon it almost immediately afterwards, for garrisoning it would have stretched their lines too thinly. General Ma, having been taken by surprise by this attack, determined to slow down future attacks by breaching some of the dykes along the Pei Ho, flooding the suburbs between the Western Arsenal and the walled city.
The tide was, however, turning. Allied troops were arriving in increasing numbers. Between July 10th and July 11th, fresh regiments of Russian infantry arrived. On July 12th, French troops, shipped from Indochina, took up position in Tien-tsin. The Allied commanders decided that the time had come to take the offensive.

Victory conditions :
The Allies win a decisive victory by occupying the suburbs just south of the walled city, with at least two unshaken units, during two turns. By reaching at least the edge of the flooded area under the same conditions, they win a marginal victory.
The Chinese obtain a marginal victory if, at the end of any Allied turn, they have four unshaken units within 10cm of the Medical School, as this allows them to burn the pontoon bridge. They are required to actually capture the Medical School to win a decisive victory.

The battlefield
Tien-tsin was by far the largest city in China, enclosed by an unending circuit of earthen walls. Its economic decline, however, and the troubled times of the last decades, have dramatically reduced the population.

Large areas within the outer walls are wasteland, or occupied only by ruins. The inner walled city, occupied by government buildings and, above all, by the troops of General Ma, is more prosperous. Only its gate is placed on the battlefield. Historically, the Allies took it on July 14th after a pause during the night.
The Legation Quarter of Tien-tsin also intrudes slightly onto the map, represented by the School of Medicine which was the anchor point for the French brigade.

The Pei-Ho cannot be crossed by troops of either side, but there should not be more than 30cm between the river and the eastern edge of the flooded zone.  The east bank of the Pei-Ho was dominated by huge salt piles, which are considered to be a linear obstacle offering a 1 cover. The salt piles block overshoots.

The flooded zone was not uniformly covered in water. In some places it was dry, in others the advancing troops were knee-deep in the quagmire.  To represent this, Allied infantry may cross it at full speed. However, if they exceed half speed, they risk deviating from their path. Roll 1D6. 1-4 : OK; 5 : deviate 1D6 x 5cm to the left; 6 : deviate 1D6 x 5cm to the right. This applies even when charging, though not when countercharging. A unit that deviates may freely change orientation afterwards.  A unit which is on or touching the elevated causeway does not have to roll for deviation.

The flooded zone has no effect on the Chinese infantry, their formations being considered far less dense and needing less order than those of their enemies.

Neither side's cavalry or artillery can enter the flooded zone.

The flooded zone offers no cover, with the exception of the cemetery area. Troops here have a cover of '1'.
The buildings adjacent to the walled city form a built up area offering a cover of '1'. The School of Medicine is an imposing colonial structure, offering a cover of '2'. The ruins and occasional buildings on the west bank of the Pei-Ho are individual structures (ie. they do not block LOS).

The battle starts at 18h00, just after the Allies have seized the abandoned Western Arsenal. It lasts until nightfall, at 22h00.

The following two sections include information for the Chinese and the Allied player respectively. If you want to preserve the surprise element of the scenario, only read the relevant page.


For three long weeks your forces have attempted to destroy the fragile enemy bridgehead in Tien-tsin. On many occasions you have come close, so close...this attempt will be the last. The colonial powers have launched their assault. If you can shatter it, you may be able, at last, to reach the Legation Quarter and burn this place of iniquity to the ground.
You have the full Imperial Chinese army list, but you must break up the 2nd Brigade. The three units of FF,iml must be deployed on the east bank of the Pei-Ho, among the salt piles. The three units of FF,nbl and the unit of jingals can be freely attributed to any other infantry brigade, or put under the C-in-Cs direct command.
You may set up your other units 20cm in from the north table edge, west of the Pei-Ho. You deploy using movement bases.

Russian (and some German) troops are also advancing east of the Pei-Ho. Their advance, and Chinese resistance, is portrayed in the scenario by the results of a die roll at the beginning of each Chinese turn.
1 : the Russians are bogged down. You may fire on any enemy unit within 50cm of the Pei-Ho as if with a strength 10 artillery battery at long range (factor 1)
2-3 : The Russians advance slowly
4 : The Russians push forwards. All Chinese units east of the Pei-Ho must take an immediate morale test.
5 : The Russians are supported by the artillery of the French Captain Joseph. He manages to blow up a Chinese powder-room in Tien-tsin. As of now, one Chinese unit in any firegroup that rolls a '6', loses 1 strength point.
6 : Result known only to the Allied player...


Late this afternoon, the conference of the Allied High Command at Tien-tsin issued the following order :
"March on the Western Arsenal and take it at all costs - Striking out from the Arsenal, march upon the gate to the walled city - On the morning of the 14th, breach the gate and take the walled quarter by storm - The attack will be protected by two companies commanded by Lt. Col Ytasse stationed in the School of Medicine - the flanking movement will be undertaken by Russian and German troops on the east bank of the river".
General Fukuyama (Good), you command the assault on the west bank of the river. Your troops have already seized the Western Arsenal : it had been abandoned by the Chinese and all you discovered there were bodies and a handful of wounded.

You command three brigades. The Japanese brigade, commanded by General Tskamoto (Good), comprises 4 battalions RF,rr strength 14. The French brigade of Colonel de Pelacot (Average) has 3 half-battalions RF,rr strength 12, including that of Lt. Col Ytasse. The Anglo-American brigade, commanded by Colonel Liscum (Average), is made up of two large company-sized units RF, rr strength 10. You may set up anywhere within 20cm of the south table edge (deploy directly, without using movement bases), with the exception of Ytasse's half-battalion which must set up in the grounds of the School of Medicine.
The Russo-German advance east of the river is represented by a die roll (see the Chinese player's sheet).

What the Chinese player does not know is that a '6' causes Tskamoto, by rivality with the Russians, to give his brigade 'Attack' orders, with his movement arrow pointing direct to the city gate.

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