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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Champion Hill 16 May 1863

When playing Ball and Chain a couple of weeks ago a new member, Doug Smith, introduced himself.  His background was in RPG but he was interested in getting into wargaming with ACW at the top of his list.

One of my opponents (confusingly another Doug) has an extensive collection of 15mm ACW and agreed to put a game on.  He organised and umpired it - I took the Confederates against Doug and Tim as the Union.

The battle was essentially a holding action.  I had 3 good quality regiments and 2 batteries against 5 Union regiments and 4 batteries.  Confederate reinforcements were potentially available (but never arrived)
Set up with the Confederates on the left defending the ford and the crossroads

Initially I just had 2 regiments and 1 battery deployed, the other regiment and battery were actualy heading away fro the fighting.  It took some time to get them turned and back into a useful position, not helped by a couple of low dice rolls and a tardy result.

The Union infantry just kept on coming on with a few shooting casualties taken, mainly by my forces.  One of the few differentiators between Confederate and Union forces is a +1 on a Confederate charge known as the Rebel Yell.  Given that I was outnumbered by almost 2 to 1 in any firefight I decided to throw caution to the winds and charged at every opportunity.  It was then essentially a dice rolling exercise - I won the first one but then lost the second 2 combats.  As I attempted to steady them one of my regiments gave up the ghost and at that point I conceded.

A fun night of ACW - thanks to Doug for putting the game on and Doug and Tim for being sporting opponents.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Saga 2 Iron Man (Road Trip)

The second leg of our Road trip took us to Matlock in Derbyshire for my first Saga 2 Iron Man tournament.  I did 3 of these last year, including one at the same venue hosted by Dales Wargames WRG held at the impressive Whitworth Centre. Numbers were once again down a bit at 8 but still plenty to allow 3 good games.
We got a bit of an introduction to the changes from Saga 1 at the start.  There are lots of differences but the fundamental feel of the game is unchanged. 
The tournament system is prey straight forward.  Richard provides all of the armies and the players rotate around the table using different armies and fighting different opponents each turn.  To win the competition the important thing is to kill as many of the opposition as possible - own losses are irrelevant.
My First game was Picts v Late Romans against Andy Lyon, who had done a lot of the introduction to the changes and knew the rules pretty well.  A proper gentlemen he kept me on the straight and narrow and took any pain out of my first game with  new rules.  He beat me fairly convincingly but I did manage to pick up a few points and pointers.
Pict general - the only photo that I remembered to take

My second game was Scots v Vikings against Kieran Matthews who was the youngest player there and perhaps lacked the killer instinct of some of his opponents.  I was able to press him quite hard and almost wipe out his warband for a comfortable win.
My third game was Byzantines v Pagan Russ against Colin Alcock who I played at an Iron Man 1 event in 2017.  This was a real ding dong affair as the balance of advantage continually shifted.  By the end of it neither of us had many troops left but I had just shaved the win.
Overall I came 4th out of 8, not a bad result when I was 7th after the first game.  Thanks to the organisers for putting on an enjoyable event.
So what was my impression of Saga 2?  It is a natural progression from the original rules.  Some minor issues have been dealt with which marginally improve game play. Other changes are rather more superficial. It allows expansions into new periods which many will like.  So marginally better but I will still be happy enough to play the original version.  Personally Saga 2 does not offer enough for me to make the financial investment in the rules and supplements at full price.  If I can pick some up cheap at a bring and buy I may be tempted.  I will however happily play any other Iron Man events that I can get to.
It was a much better drive home, cooler and less traffic.  I do enjoy a good wargaming Road Trip!!!

Friday, 6 July 2018

2018 Plan - going pretty well after 6 months

100 plus games – at 67 at the half way stage so looking good

Iron Man events – 1 done so on track

New rules – 11 played but still 5 of the 6 I was planning on yet to play so hopefully might make progress on this in the remainder of the year

28mm Jason and the Argonauts and  15mm South Americans yet to paint and play

Blogging going well all games recorded

Painting targets –bare metal 21 out of 100 and total 291 out of 600 so better than normal

5 new places wargamed to get my hundred up – just one so far and that on 30th June!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Naval Wargames Society weekend at the Fleet Air Arm Museum (Road Trip)

I have been an intermittent member of the Naval Wargames Society for a while now.  I don't actually do that much naval wargaming but find the history fascinating and definitely would like to do more.  The annual weekend that the Society hosts has long been on my to do list but the previous venue in Gosport was just too far from Falkirk.  The new venue at the Fleet Air Arm Museum is actually still a pretty long trip but I decided to give it a go this year.

Unfortunately I had to be back at work on the following Monday morning so I was only ever going to do the Saturday.  However there was also a Saga Iron Man 2 tournament on Sunday near Matlock so I decided to go for a road trip.  Originally the plan was to drive down on Friday, stay locally, drive up to Derbyshire on the Saturday night and then home after the tournament.  My wife is very supportive of my hobby but was a bit concerned at the amount of driving involved so we changed plans.  She also came down, as did our dog, and we drove down a day early to have a day together in Somerset on Friday then plan as before.

The extremely hot weather was difficult particularly on the drive down.  We needed regular stops to give the dog some air and roadworks made it an 11 hour trip.  Two drivers was definitely a bonus. On Friday we spent most of the time at the beach keeping Beau (our Patterdale/Labrador cross) as cool as possible.  Our hotel, the Ilchester Arms, was very good, extremely dog friendly, and less than 10 minutes away from the Museum.

I was initially a little disappointed at the event as numbers were quite low, probably as a result of the change from an established venue.  However the games were excellent.  First up was, rather surprisingly to me, a Wings of War game.  David Manley has added in rules for motor launches using the same mechanics as the air rules.  Myself and Phil (I hope that name check is correct) each had a Sopwith Baby seaplane and a motor launch and were tasked with capturing or destroying an immobile surfaced U Boat.  German air cover was provided by David and Simon each with a 2 seater seaplane - can't remember the type.

It was actually quite a hard task as in Wings of War 2 seaters can be pretty deadly as they effectively shoot all round  and they were also more robust than our aircraft.  Things were not helped when Phil drew a Boom Card (instant explosion) and lost his Baby early on.  To even things up a Camel was drafted in to bolster the British forces.

Much manouvering and drawing of damage cards ensued but eventually all the British forces were destroyed for the cost of one of the Germans.  Phil's motor launch was nearly able to get in range to make a torpedo attack on the U boat but he just could not quite make it.
My Motor Launch being attacked by a dastardly German floatplane
A bonus was entry into the museum which is well done with many FAA aircraft on display and some excellent models of aircraft carriers.  Worth a visit - we went round rather quickly in an hour but 2 hours would have been enough for a more leisurely stroll round.
A real life Sopwith Baby armed with anti Zeppelin rockets
The afternoon game was a recreation of the Naval attack on Zeebrugge in WW1.  The aim was to get blockships to the lock gates and render them inoperable thus depriving the German Navy of a U boat base.  I was responsible for Monitor fire, air raids and a submarine filled full of explosives used to ram an access route which were all part of the general bombardment/diversion whilst the main attack went in.  I had to leave before the end but I understand one ship managed to fight it's way all the way through to the lock gates and allow us to claim victory for the RN.
HMS Vindictive at the mole
I enjoyed the day but it was a long way to travel so it may require a longer break to allow me to do this again. Still a road trip is always fun and it can't get this hot every summer can it?

(report on second part of the road trip to follow soon)

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Two Very Very short games

The latest round in the club's Battle Companies campaign was very short and not particularly sweet.  I played Kev and the scenario called for me to defend a hill.  Kev simply went for all out attack with his Warg Riders and in 3 turns entirely wiped my force out!  We had an odd number of attendees so Alan played Kev next and there was no time for a third round.
100 % casualties
I did manage a second game.  After our day out at the Wartime experience event we attracted a new member and her young son.  I too the lad on in a game of Wings of War and am afraid I showed him no mercy shooting down his camel in even less time than it had taken in my first game.
Closing in for the kill

That was my gaming for the night.
Games 65
 Rules played 26 New 11
Places played 10 New 0

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Ball and Chain

A kind gentleman recently posted a generous offer on facebook,  Rules that he no longer required - free to a good home. Included was a set of Fantasy rules that I had never heard of - Ball and Chain.
Published in the mid 90s they looked a little old school but certainly worth a game to try them out.  I posted about them on the Falkirk club facebook page and Following our game of Hannibal Crossing the Alps both Tim and Doug offered to play a game the following Monday.
I was happy to arrange something as I have been wanting to get some more of my growing collection of elves on the table.  This is the 3 way scenario I came up with

The Elvish race came into existence at the birth of the world.  For eons they lived in peace and harmony. Despite their famed longevity few if any of even the oldest elves remember the so called Golden Time.
Then came the Great Sundering, the scattering of the families and an everlasting legacy of hostility and  hatred between them.  The old Elvish lands are remote, desolate and wild.  Occasionally intrepid rangers or foolish adventurers venture there in search of ancient artefacts.  None of any great power has ever been recovered but rumours of a hoard with strange properties have been circulating around the Courts.  Small parties have been dispatched by competing clans to investigate and return with anything that may be of value.
Ball and Chain by Dave Garnham
6 x 4 table covered in woods and with a reasonably large central glade.  Paths lead from each of the four corners to the glade. Three elf forces will randomly enter down 3 of the 4 paths.  Each player rolls for deployment and comes on (up to 6 inches) on a roll of 6 on the first turn, 5 or 6 on the second etc. Roll to see entry point once a successful deployment roll has been made. 
There will be 2 imps that will appear when a player for any reason rolls 49, 50 or 51.  This player can place an imp anywhere he likes on the board and it will immediately attack the nearest elves.
There will be 12 artefacts scattered in the glade or just inside the woods bordering the glade.  They will be of 2 types. An elf in sole contact with an artefact at the end of its turn will have picked it up by the start of the next turn. If an elf carrying an artefact is killed it is difficult for it to be recovered and requires a 6 at the end of the first turn searching, a 5 or 6 at the end of the second turn etc.  Any searcher engaging in combat breaks the search sequence and if they wish to try again must start with a 6.  No elf may carry more than 2 artefacts.  If an elf tries to carry artefacts of different types there is a (one off) 10% chance of a deadly adverse reaction. No elf will voluntarily give up an artefact in any circumstances.

The aim for each group is to get off the board with as many artefacts as possible.  At the end of the game it will be apparent that although all the artefacts have power one type is vastly more desirable than the other.  There is no way of knowing this in advance so this will be determined only once the game has finished.  The group that has left the field with the most of the more desirable artefacts wins.

My biggest mistake was to go for a 4 x 6 table as this meant that 2 of the forces were inevitably going to be closer to each other and it would take the 3rd longer to engage.  This was made worse by all 3 rolling to enter the table on the same turn.  Doug with Dark Elves soon engaged my Wood Elves and Tim with his High Elves remained some distance away

The rules worked OK.  There was some difficulty with those for horsemen in combat and shooting but we made on the hoof interpretations to get something workable.  I got the upper hand against Doug early on but a couple of long range shots from Tim took a couple of my guys out and before long I was down to one man!  Having recovered most of the artefacts and all those within reasonable reach both Tim and Doug started to withdraw from opposite ends of the table when an Imp finally appeared. It was nearly packing up time so we let it do a couple of rounds of combat before calling it a day.

We all had fun.  The rules are usable and could certainly be easily modified to iron out our difficulties.  It was good to get some more of my Elves on the table and I now have a setting that would be usable for future games.


The Wood Elves advance

Brave Dark Elf charges 

The Imp arrives

Postscript: Looking at my background for the scenario I talk about  a Great Sundering of the Elves.  This is actually the way Tolkien describes the break up of the Elves.  I don't remember reading it and haven't actually read any Tolkien post the Silmarillion which I struggled through once.  I suppose it either is in the Silmarillion or I have somehow picked it up elsewhere.  I thought I was my own idea, although almost all fantasy owes at least something to the great man.  I think I will just keep it in anyway.

Games 63
 Rules played 26 New 11
Places played 10 New 0

Hannibal Crossing the Alps

Amazingly one of my projects is at last coming together!  Some time last year Tim introduced me to the Piqet derived Pulse of Battle set of Ancient rules.  He also had in his possession a copy of a scenario booklet called Hannibal Ad Portas which covers the period from Hannibal leaving Spain to advance into Italy to the Battle of Zama.  I have a painted Republican Roman army, a Gallic army and various Spanish, Numidians and Africans.  By using some of my Grek and Macedonian figures to pad out a bit I pretty much had enough figures to play the scenarios for just a bit of painting and some rebasing.  The main area of difficulty was having enough Roman figures to do the bigger battles.

The first scenario is the only what if and depicts a contested River Crossing as the Carthaginians moved into Gallic territory.  It assumes Roman cavalry support which is a bit of a problem as I would need about 50 cavalry figures at least 20 more than I had.  I decided to bypass that as the second scenario is Hannibal crossing the Alps.  The Gallic side was already available and completing the Carthaginian side would give me 90% of the figures that I would need for the Carthginian for most of the rest of the battles.

I am not a quick painter/rebaser but a deadline is a wonderful thing and I managed to get them all near enough for the battle.  The board was a very unusual affair with a path snaking its way from one side to the other between mountains and in the centre a forest.  One of the issues was that the scenarios were written for a different set of rules so there was an element of improvisation as we went through the game.

The set up has the main Carthaginian force advancing down the path parallel to  one side of the table with multiple snake like bends to traverse,  Some light forces hold the heights covering the exit points.  The Gauls come on randomly on either flank when the appropriate card is drawn. Given the length of the column there is always likely to be a Carthaginian unit capable of being ambushed.  However the Carthaginian units are generally of better quality than the Gauls.
Some Pictures
The Carthaginian Column as it advanced into the Pass


Nearer the end of the game with the Carthaginian column strung out but the Gauls unable to stop the relentless advance

  I ran the Carthaginians and Doug the Gauls.  In the end the weight and power of Hannibal's troops were too much for the opposing tribesmen, much as the case in history.  There were casualties inflicted however including a pushed back elephant that we agreed had gone plunging down the Apline slopes to it's death.  At least someone was dining on elephant steaks that night!
A most unusual game.

Games 62
 Rules played 25 New 10
Places played 10 New 0