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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Visit to Burnley Wargames Group


Last week I was on the road with work again on a 2 day course down in Blackburn.  As usual I put a call out on a number of forums to see if I could get a game on the evening and was very grateful when Marcus of Burnley Wargames Group responded to my post on the Lead Adventurers Forum and invited me over for a game on the Tuesday night.

Marcus kindly picked me up from my hotel and took me to the Community Centre that the club use, namely Ennismore Centre Ennismore Street Burnley BB10 3EU. They have the venue from 7:30 till late and charge £3 a visit (first visit is free).  Although numbers were a bit light last Tuesday they do have access to 3 rooms and space for several games.

Marcus, Peter and I took on Mark and Martin in a 15mm WW2 game using the latest play test version on Micro-Rules.  Many of you will know the MicroMark Army Lists published by Mark Bevis and I believe that he hopes to publish the rules at some point

The scenario was a clash between British and Italian forces somewhere in the North African desert.  All the kit was early war fielded in historical formations.  I was given the best of the British tanks, A13’s I believe (plus 3 armoured cars) whilst Marcus took a company of Vickers light tanks and Peter the infantry and artillery.  On the opposite side Mark deployed infantry artillery and armoured cars and Martin a company of Italian tanks and yet more armoured cars.

I will attempt to give a commentary of the game – apologies to the guys for the vagueness of my memory and lack of in depth knowledge of all the forces involved (and indeed sheer inaccuracies) – perhaps we can put it down to the fog of war.

The rules seemed pretty straightforward but of course everyone else was very familiar with them which helped a great deal.  Each unit is given a rating which determines its combat effectiveness and morale.  The most obvious part of this is seen in the activation roll.  The appropriate force level rolls against a number needing to get equal or below on 2 D6, The British were generally 9 with the Italians as low as 6.  Activation allows move, shoot or a combination.  A double 1 gives two activations in a row and a double 6 is a blunder.  Having passed activation and completed the activity a subsequent activation can be attempted with one less chance of success with a 9 becoming an 8 and so on until the roll is failed. The opposition have the chance to interrupt activations with opportunity fire.

Both sides static forces were deployed in villages on a road but at distances involved were not visible to each other unless they fired, so armoured cars were sent forward recce.  Almost immediately I threw a double 6 and one of the vehicles broke down with a frantic repair effort not able to get it back in action for the duration of the game.  This was to be a theme of the night with 6 or 7 blunders on our side to 2 or 3 for the axis. 

My tanks ploughed up the extreme right flank taking pot shots at armoured cars and the odd tank came into view.  For most of the game the Italian tanks would either fail activation or make one rather slow move with a hill blocking line of sight between them and the British.  Move distances (and armour penetration etc) are based on actual performance data and those Italians were really very slow – going down to half speed over the hill did not help.

Marcus spread his very fast moving Vickers tanks covering the centre and the left flank making good use of whatever cover was available. The first half of the game was marked mainly by Italian armoured cars brewing up and British tanks throwing tracks (blunders!).   A force of 4 German armoured cars then arrived.  Needing a 10 for first activation, having better guns than the Vickers and being rather fast they were pushed forward in the centre and threatened to overrun the Vickers HQ section.  However hit dice and subsequent penetration rolls were very poor and with all British guns that could bear shooting them up they took casualties and surrendered.  One nice feature of the rules is target priority which generally means that tanks are shot at first, so the slowness of the Italian tanks to arrive made the axis armoured cars particularly vulnerable.

Things then started to hot up on my flank with the Italian tanks getting several activations in a row and pouring forward – my tanks being outnumbered started to be knocked out although not before causing some damage to their opponents.

On the left flank 3 Vickers had been skulking behind a hill fairly close to the enemy held village.  On double 1 activation they took their courage in their hands and, like the cavalrymen that they still were at heart, they charged into the village causing death and destruction to a number of enemy units.  Their luck eventually ran out with only one tank eventually making its escape back down the road.

Each turn we had been making reinforcement rolls and the Italians were overjoyed to get a trio of fighter bombers on with a roll that enabled them to avoid the British flak.  My tanks in the open were a plum target but the Italian’s eyesight let them down and they missed the juiciest targets.  When they finally did see some of the Vickers they then failed to do any damage.

After over 3 hours of play we pulled stumps declaring the result a draw.  After taking early losses the Italians had blunted the British advance and a further fighter sweep had the potential to cause significant damage.  A number of Italian units had routed but when a morale check was taken at the next level up they were able to pass each time.

Some comments from the Axis side

Mark: "They won't activate again they're on a 5" Oh "They won't activate surely on a 4?" Ahem

Martin: I hope he highlights the Brave Italian armour and the cowardly British hiding behind a hill drinking tea until they finally got up courage ( double 1 activation roll) to attack the village

I thoroughly enjoyed myself – thanks to the lads for hosting me and the introduction to a very interesting set of rules.  The temptation to acquire some forces and have a try myself back at the Falkirk club may be too great to resist – probably in 10mm I would think.

My next opportunity for a journey into the unknown may be South Wales early next year – watch this space!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Cruinneachadh - An impetus Competition

Had a fun day comprising 3 games.  I seem to have discovered a pretty useful tactic in the Flank March under the Impetus Tournament rules which favours my Feudal English army.


The first game was against Richard's 100 Years War army.  My cavalry flank charge came on at the first opportunity (needing 9 on 2 dice) and ploughed straight down Richard's line for a 130 to 0 win.


I tried the same tactic in my next game against Frazer but there was a very long delay (into double figures of moves) before the flank match arrived leaving my infantry to take on the entire 15th Century Venetian army by themselves.  2 bits of luck won me this game. First off 2 of my long spear FP units managed to combine under the auspices of some very favourable dice rolls to take down a Swiss pike block.  What set it up was a unit of crossbowmen which withstood a frontal charge from said pikes.    I need to take out another 3 points for victory and Frazer (having destroyed my infantry command and the camp) guessed the wrong flank for my flank march, which enabled me to roll up and take out his camp and take an 88 to 42 point victory.


The final game was against Ross and his Patrician Romans.  With the exception of getting the cavalry on relatively early my dice rolls were much poorer this time.  The power of the English Knights were starting to grind him down though when I took out a general who subsequently routed taking his command with him.  Another cavalry unit and the camp soon followed giving me another 130 to zero win.  Frazer came second.


Impetus tournaments seem to be slowly dying out so this, my first win, may well be my last Impetus Tournament.  Although the win was very nice the real enjoyment came from a great day's gaming (although taking down the Pike Block was a special moment).  Thanks to Ross for organising it and the Dunfirmline club for being such gracious hosts.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Five Games in Nine Hours

I am not a fan of quick games per se but my vist to see Mick (in Switzerland) resulted in 5 great games in an afternoon and evening.  He has written an AAR so here it is:






FoF: Golan Heights, 7th October 1973


 


The scenario is called “Encounter on the Yehuda Road” and is in the Force on Force Rulebook.  This game comprises of 7 x Syrian T62A verses 2 x Israeli Centurion Sho’t and is based on real events.  The Syrians are invading and the Israelis have sent tanks to make a defensive line on the mountain pass. 
 


Tanks were 10mm scale from Pendraken, bought by David and painted by Mick.  The board is 6’x4’ with a road running diagonally from end to end.  The table is flat on the Syrian side and the last third rises steeply up the Golan Heights. The area by the side of the road has some rocky outcrops and a few trees.  The Israeli tanks arrive from the road at the top edge and the Syrians from the opposite edge.  The Syrians cannot elevate their main guns sufficiently so must run the gauntlet until they are at a similar height to the Israelis.  This results in a dash for the high ground with the Israelis trying to stop them.
 


The first game did not flow well as we were not interpreting the rules correctly, which meant that the Israelis only had two shots per turn. The first game was an easy Syrian win as two tanks got through the defensive line by turn 4. (David played Israel, Mick played Syria)


FoF game, 1 turn 4


 
Vehicle combat in FoF is less complex than infantry with fewer variables.  Vehicles use stats for weapon and armour, not number of crew.  Modifiers such as cover are already included in stats.  Important is that every vehicle activation results in reaction test that can mean other sides units move or shoot in response (or choose to ignore).  Firing reduces by 1 die per shot, therefore Israelis have max 4 shots per turn.  It would be useful to have red & yellow counters to differentiate between two Centurions to match two different coloured reaction test dice.
 


The second game was much more interesting and Israel won by disabling or destroying all Syrian tanks after 5 brutal turns. One was destroyed 6” from the table edge. (Mick  Israel, David Syria)




FoF game 1, turn 5


Rapid Fire – WW1: Somme, 1st July 1916


 
Our third and fourth games were an attempt to play out events of WW1 using Rapid Fire. 


For the 100th anniversary of WW1, I have been working on a project to look at key battles from WW1 with simple scenarios with 10mm Pendraken figures and custom built trench terrain. David Knight visited yesterday and we had our first WW1 game. This was the first time that we had tried to game a scenario for the project. This scenario was chosen because of the relatively simplicity of the forces.

The rules are the standard WW2 version of Rapid Fire without modification. Infantry companies are represented by ten figures. Both sides are treated as regulars with small arms except for one German Maxim unit which is a MMG on a tripod. Infantry companies can split fire between two targets as two teams of five. According to the rules, each unit makes a standard morale test when reduced to 50% strength. We also added a second rule that a unit is removed when reduced to 30% strength. This represents the few survivors taking cover and also tending to wounded companions.

The scenario is based on the morning of the first day of the Somme as the Pals battalions went into action. The action takes place in a thin rectangular strip of terrain, representing the action in one small sector of a 25 mile wide front. The table is a rectangle 4’ x 2’ with German trenches at one end with a large open area of grassy “no man’s land” in the middle. Towards the German lines there are a large number of shell craters. The British trenches are at the opposite end but there is no need to actually have terrain for the British trench lines as the scenario starts from the point where they go over the top.

The British Army is represented by six units of 10 infantry. The British start 36” from a line of barbed wire in front of German trenches. This equates to six turns of advancing cross country to get to the wire. The wire takes one turn to cross. The whole advance is in the open. At the start the trenches are unmanned as the German forces are sheltering from an artillery barrage in underground bunkers. Three German units (1 x Maxim MMG team, 2 x units of 10 infantry) are available in the sector. According to a D10 dice roll each turn, the German defenders may or may not emerge from their bunkers.

In game 1, German units had a 10% chance of arriving each turn. Unfortunately this left the German trenches unoccupied except for a solitary MMG unit which emerged in turn 2 but only inflicted 10 causalities in five turns. Therefore, most of the British units were intact as they reached the wire. The final assault was a walkover for the British. This played out as the British high command had planned the first day of the Somme. (David British, Mick German)

For game 2, we changed conditions for German troops to arrive – 10% round 1, 20% round 2, 30% round 3 etc. up to round 10. The German MMG arrived in turn 3 and was joined by infantry units in turn 6 and 7. The Germans split their fire to inflict casualties on four attacking units. As they crossed the wire in turn 8, the British had taken a total of 25 casualties, which took three units out of action and weakened another. The remaining British units crossed the wire made close assaults on the flanks of the Germans. Three rounds later, the Germans had successfully repelled the attack. It was a closely fought contest. The result matched the actual historical outcome in several sectors on 1st July 2016. (Mick British, David German)


 


 




Rapid Fire WW1 game 2, turn 6


 


Historical Note


The Somme was fought over six months by hundreds of thousands of men across a 25 mile front.  There were a million casualties between 1st July and 16th November 1916.  The first day was the bloodiest in British army history with 60,000 casualties (20,000 dead and 40,000 wounded).  The Germans also lost about 12,000 casualties and the French 1,600.  A large proportion of the British casualties were from the Pals battalions which devastated the social structure of towns and villages around England.


 The Accrington Pals, officially the 11th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, was a pals battalion of Kitchener's Army raised in and around the town of Accrington.  Recruiting was initiated by the mayor of Accrington following Lord Kitchener's call for volunteers, and it took only ten days to raise a complete battalion. The battalion's nickname is a little misleading since of the four 250-strong companies that made up the original battalion, only one was actually composed of men from Accrington. The rest volunteered from other East Lancashire towns nearby such as Burnley, Blackburn, and Chorley.


 
Approximately 700 men from the Accrington Pals went into action on 1 July; 585 men became casualties, 235 killed and 350 wounded in about half an hour (Wikipedia)


 
Star Wars X-Wing


 
The fifth and last game was Star Wars X-Wing straight out of the box.   The Empire had four tie fighters and Slave 1.  The Rebels had two X-Wings and Millennium Falcon.  No upgrade cards were used.  The result was a convincing Empire victory.  (David Empire, Mick Rebel)