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Monday, 9 March 2015

Variety is the Spice of Life

I have had a good start to the year playing a variety of games, namely:
Check Your 6!
Piquet Band of Brothers
Force on Force (twice)
Sword and Spear
Arc of Fire
Necromunda (twice)
Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World’s End
Lion Rampant
Legions of Battle
Muskets and Tomahawks
Wings of Glory
Lord of the Rings
The Gattling’s Jammed
Washington Club WW2 naval
Sixteen games is a bit behind the pace if I am going to hit the target of 100 in the year but the most important thing is that I am getting an awful lot of fun from my games.
The highlight of the year so far had to be on Saturday at the Albanich show in Dumfries.  The Falkirk club put on an Indian Mutiny game and I was one of the leaders of the ‘Freedom Fighters’, defending a couple of villages against the Imperialists.  Throwing caution to the winds I threw the tribal levies forward on the left flank and, despite taking horrific casualties, managed to break a brigade of Ghurkhas.  Great fun and we were pleasantly surprised to win ‘Best in Show’ for the game

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Irregular Wars – First Impressions and Plans

We had our first run out of Irregular Wars – Conflict at the World's End last Monday.  They simulate small battles fought in the 16th and early 17th centuries and in particular in the New World, North Africa and Asia, although the fringes of Europe are also covered.

 To be fair we had a few issues.  The first was of our own making as we did not really have enough figures so there was only one 28mm figure per 60mm square base which made it look more like a skirmish.  Also we played Northern English v Lowland Scots so there was not the variation in troop types that would be normal under these rules.

The game itself went OK.  We had the usual issues of finding our way around a new set of rules.  The difficulty that superior troops had in breaking inferior ones in melee induced a bit of head shaking around the table, as did the general ineffectiveness of missile fire.  The element of uncertainty caused by the pre game rolling for disease, desertion etc and by the use of chance cards was more favourably commented on.  We played 2 v 2 with another friend trying to keep us right on the rules.  The general consensus at the end was not entirely convinced but most felt that it was worth giving them another go, which at least 2 of us will do in 15mm (Spanish v Aztec) fairly soon.

This is a set of rules that I do really want to like as the army lists really catch my imagination.  Although I normally prefer more troops on the table (this will look a bit like DBA) the premise is indeed small scale actions with 1000 – 2500 troops represented per side.  I can use some of my existing forces for a number of the armies so if I can persuade people to give the rules a go I certainly intend to play a few more games in 25/28mm.

I have a fair few Elizabethan types who can proxy for general European style troops.  I probably need to paint up about 30 – 40 of them.  My medieval Arabs can be used (and they are painted) I bought some Foundry Matchlock men at Vapnartak to add some shot.  Finally I have some part painted Muscovites, painted Cossacks and painted Mongols that can serve as Tartars.

This gives me Spanish v Berbers, Portuguese v Arabian and Muscovite v Tartar and some progress on painting figures that have been part of the Lead Mountain for a while. If after playing these games (and a couple in 15mm as well) the rules don’t seem worth persevering with then we will call it a day.  However if we like them I can see a wide vista of new armies and possible campaigns opening up.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Belated 2015 plan

I almost didn't post a plan this year, but having got off to a good start I thought I would share my thoughts.  This will hopefully give me some incentive to complete the tasks I have set myself.

2015 is going to be the year of the big sort and reorganisation of my wargames collection.  It consists of several thousand 25/28mm figures (Ancients, Medieval, Renaissance, 20th Century, Fantasy and SF) several hundred 15mm figures (18th & 19th centuries) some 10mm (20th century) and a few ships and planes.  Some are painted to the 'wargames standard'   that I aspire to, some need a bit of work but are usable in a game and others are unpainted or partly painted.

They are currently housed in a variety of cardboard and (some) plastic boxes.  These are mainly box files and document boxes (lidded, slightly smaller than box files but also a little taller).  An element of 'wargames standard' finish is to magnetise the bases. A proportion of the boxes have been lined with steel sheet.

The plan is to move all the completed 25/28mm figures into steel lined document boxes.  Usable but not completed will go into unlined document boxes.  I have 53 of these boxes in total and am hoping that will just about be enough.

The few steel lined box files will be used for 15/10mm completed or usable figures. Unlined will take unpainted figures, as will other non standard boxes.  Ships, planes and terrain will fit into suitable sized boxes, as will the few 25/28mm figures and models that are too tall to fit into document boxes.  I should also be able to get rid of some old and tatty boxes and by the end of it the attic should be very much tidier.

Part of this exercise is to catalogue what I have got, with more detail on completed figures and less on unpainted.  All the boxes will be numbered so I should be able to find what I am looking for much more easily than in the past.

I have so far sorted out 17 boxes of completed 25/28mm figures and 4 boxes of usable figures,  In addition 2 boxes of usable 15mm figures have also been sorted.  This is going to take quite a while to complete but it should certainly be doable.

The second part of this new approach is focussed on the painting table.  My plan here is to clear it completely and then focus my efforts on planned games.  For instance my next games are - Irregular Wars (renaissance 28mm), Legions of Battle (Fantasy 28mm) Necromunda (SF 28mm) and Warmachine (28mm Steampunk).  I am not providing any figures for Irregular Wars so my first task will be to work on my Chaos Fantasy figures.  These need a bit of a tidy up and magnetising so that is my current project, although I am unlikely to complete it this time around.  Once that game has been played I will turn to my Necromunda Goliath figures which just need a little work to complete.  Next up will be to paint my warmachine models.  

I am much less confident of being able to stick to the second part of my plan for a full year but I am determined to give it a good go.

So lets see how I get on.

Other targets - play 100 games in 2015 and blog at least once a month.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

How went 2014?

2014 was another excellent year for gaming with 89 miniatures games (using 32 different rule sets) and one board game being played. There were 10 games each of Force on Force and Wings of Glory.

As well as my regular Monday night games at the Falkirk Club I also visited Clydesdale Wargames Club and Burnley Wargames Club and it was good to get down to Washington for a couple of games.  The usual shows and events were also attended with Robots Live at the National Museum of Flight being a new one for us.  I managed to tie in a couple of work trips abroad with gaming activity – 2 sessions with Mick in Switzerland (one of which was an epic 5 games in a day) and one with Pedro  in Lisbon.   I also managed to win an Impetus Tournament!

The gaming has been great but other aspects less so.  My blogging activity has reduced substantially and my painting output has been nonexistent.  However Carronade was another very popular event and it was fun to have Mick over for a long weekend of gaming and whisky tasting.

So overall a good wargaming year but some planning needed to make 2015 even better.

I hope that the readers of this blog also had a good 2014 and have plans afoot for 2015 – please share if you do.

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)