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Friday 28 December 2012

Master plan for 2013

1 – Gaming in general

No specific target for the number of games.  I would like to try to get around more though so I will look to game somewhere new an average of once a month.  I already have a couple of new venues lined up – the York show in February and the Viking wargames day at the National Museum of Scotland in March.

2 – Projects

Tournaments – 3 or 4 25mm Impetus competitions plus a trial Warmachine one.  I need to get the Warmachine models painted.

Dux Britanniarum campaign – being run by fellow SOA member Richard.  I may try to get some figures painted.

Peloponnesian Wars – 25mm and micro naval – some more battles fought

Henry VIII’s invasion of France in 1513 and Scottish Renaissance battles – at least one battle and some figures painted.  I cheat a bit by using the same figures for both.
RN Carrier Ops – Mers el Kebir linked scenarios played and the article I have in draft for the Society of 20th Century Wargamers on this subject written and submitted

SF – 28mm – paint the few Pig Iron figures that I have and get a game of some sort with them

Paraguayan War – get figures sorted and a game or two played. Research some historical games and expand the armies as needed with a view to bigger games late 2013 or in 2014.  Investigate the naval side of the war for possible games.

Cold War British Colonial - Paint up my Commando Miniatures figures and find some opposition for them.  Possibly 2014 before I can get a game in.

Warhammer Fantasy- Get some games in and bulk out the Chaos army a bit

Purple Heart Valley – get some games in. 

Others – games of, in no particular order - Piquet, Force on Force, Hail Caesar, WRG 6th , 15mm WSS, 28mm RCW, Dux Bellorum, Check Your 6 and Bag the Hun. 

Something new – perhaps Augustus to Aurelian or Comitatus

3 – Blog

A few more posts, but basically keep it going for another year

4 – Clubs

Falkirk District Wargames Club - I have been a member for over ten years now and have beem on the committee for a while.  2012 was an excellent year and I hope to continue to help the club and our show ‘Carronade’ continue to grow in 2013.  I am particularly keen on expanding our once a month Sunday gaming days to have more organised events which reach out to a wider audience than just our club members.

Washington Wargames Club – Last year was the first year I did not manage a game down in Washington since I joined the club back in 1978.  I am determined to get down at least once and hopefully two or three times in 2013.

Other Clubs – I hope to revisit Stirling Wargames and the Dumbarton club.  It would be good to get along to another club or two as a visitor

Societies – I am a member of The Society of Ancients, The Society of 20th Century Wargamers and the Naval Wargames Society.  I will continue to support them in 2013 and it would be good to get a little more involved in some way, even if that just means writing an article for their excellent magazines. 

So that is the plan for 2013.  Not having had a game since the 10th December, with the next one not due until 7th January, I am champing at the bit to get started again.

Good gaming in 2013!

Sunday 23 December 2012

Master plan for 2012 – How did I do?

1 – Get more gaming done

I will have had about 60 wargames in 2011 which is not bad and my aim for 2012 is to get up to 70.  Although the majority will be at the Falkirk club in Grangemouth I hope to get a few more games in some different/new locations/opponents as well.  I have played wargames in 9 places in 2011 and the aim is 16 in 2012
         60 again so no improvement but still not a bad years wargaming – only in 6 places though

2 – Get more painting done

600 figures/models table ready in 2012.  Now that is a bit of a stretch
            148 – pretty pathetic really

3 – Progress my current projects

Impetus Tournaments – I have enjoyed the 2 competitions I took part in 2011 – the target is 4 in 2012 plus a few one off games at the club
             Yes – played in 4 tournaments and enjoyed them all.  Even Smoggycon where I achieved  a perfect (or should that be imperfect) score of zero

Peloponnesian Wars – 25mm and micro naval – some more battles fought

             I managed Cimolia I and II but no naval games as yet

Henry VIII’s invasion of France in 1513 – in 28mm – more figures painted and at least one battle

             No Progress
Scottish Renaissance battles (pre Civil War) in 25/28mm – probably just painting but a battle would be good

            No progress

RN Carrier Ops – in 1/300 – need to get some more planes painted and find some rules – at least one game as well

Planes well on their way to being painted (thanks Doug) and both Bag the Hun and Check Your 6 seem good possibilities for rules

SF – 28mm - need to buy and paint and come up with a setting – looking to use Tomorrows War to begin with and hopefully a couple of games at least

            No progress

Post WWI Baltic states / RCW – 28mm – not so much my project but I want to get my figures onto the table

            Played a game

4 – Start a new project

It would be a boring year without a completely new project

             Paraguayan War figures purchased for use in 2013

Got some 28mm 1960’s British figures for either Borneo or perhaps a  fictional Belize campaign

 5 – Play a good variety of other games

Lots of different periods and rules.  I am hoping to have my first ever Piquet game, shoot down some more US bombers with Purple Heart Valley, play Force on Force, plus the odd game of FOG and Hail Ceaser.  Also a game of WRG 6th – I have played them every year since they came out in 1980 and I would hate to break the sequence now!  Perhaps a Napoleonic game as well.  A 15mm WSS game would be good.  Oh and at least a couple of games of WHFB.

            Played 22 different systems including almost all the above which is excellent

6 – Tidy the attic

That’s where all my wargames stuff is – it needs a good sort – another target that is a bit of a stretch
            I am not very good at these stretch targets am I ?
7 - Start a blog
To record my games and progress on everything else

            It has been a bit patchy from time to time but enjoyable none the less.

8 – Review this list in December 2012

And be very pleased with how much I’ve got done
            Real life did get in the way a bit so not a bad result

 Or complain how real life has got in the way as usual!

9 – Stay married and keep my job

         Yes Thank God

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Historic Battles – two firsts

I like to play a game which attempts to recreate an historic battle.  They are usually a fair bit of work to organise so I don’t do them as often as I would like.  However both of my last two Monday night games at the Falkirk Club have fallen under this category, with not only my first ‘historic battle’ air game but also my first ‘historic battle’ naval game.

This Monday gone was the Battle of Ortegal, a set to between British and French squadrons in the aftermath of Trafalgar.  Four ships of the line were making a dash for a friendly port and were intercepted by four British ships of the line with some frigates in support.  Myself and Doug took the French and Kevan and Mark the British.  In the terms of the Kiss Me Hardy rules we were sans culottes and they were jolly jack Tars.

John, who had organised the game, evened things up a bit by giving the French crews a higher rating than he might but all to no avail.  Kevan skilfully used a frigate to slow us down (even if he did eventually have to strike) and Mark kept his ships together to give us a pounding.  Three of the French ships were attempting a slow exit when British reinforcements led by Chuck arrived and pretty much finished us off.

All in all an enjoyable game.   We were probably outplayed but the fall of the cards (typical TFL mechanism) was certainly cruel.  Very much an historical result.

A week earlier Doug had brought along CY6 Jet Age for another Indian Pakistan set to.  This was a scenario form the book entitled ‘Stake Through The Heart’.  It recreated the action on 1st September 1965 over Kashmir.  The Indian army was in danger of being overrun by Pakistani tanks.  In desperation the Indians threw in some elderly Vampires to try and throw them back. The first wave got through but the second was intercepted by Pakistani Sabres (we used Mig 19s).

Doug took the Indians and launched a successful attack knocking out two tanks.  As the Pakistanis pounced some unlucky throwing of one’s meant that 3  of their opponents were unable to jettison their rockets which both slowed them and made them less manoeuvrable,

The superiority of the Pakistani aircraft soon told with 2 vampires biting the dust early on.  The air to air defences then came into play.  Not being able to distinguish friend from foe they let rip at the nearest aircraft.  A Mig 19 was hit by a burst of fire from one of the Vampire’s but then almost immediately had to jink heavily to evade ground fire (from his own side) and tore his wings off.

The outclassed Vampires broke for home but both were brought down, the last by a lucky long range shot.  All four Indian pilots were killed but the Pakistani pilot managed to bail out successfully.  When victory points were totalled up it was a dead draw with the early brewing up of the Pakistani tanks as well as the downing of the Mig 19 offsetting the loss of the 4 Vampires.

Two great games – thanks to Doug and John for organising them.  Both games I am keen to play again in 2013.

Monday 26 November 2012

Absolute zero

I haven't been able to post much recently but just wanted to celebrate the first time that I have got all of my 25mm peasants on the table in one go

The occassion was the Impetus competition at Smoggycon in Middlesbrough on Saturday.  I  managed to get about 150 figues out in 32 units which is quite a lot for a 300 point Impetus game. 

Thanks to Ken and the guys from Hartlepool for organising the event and my three opponents for not being phased in the slightest in taking on my Jacquerie army.

The title?  Well in an Impetus competition the range of points is from 130 to 0.  Guess how many points I managed?

Saturday 10 November 2012

Wargames Clubs and Societies I am (or have been) a member of

I wonder if I am typical or not?


My first club was Washington Wargames Club in 1978.  I have been a member ever since, although the last couple of years as an honorary member

The other club that I am currently a member of is Falkirk and District Wargames Club which I joined and have been a member of since 2001.

In 2000, when working down in Ipswich, I was a member of the Felixstowe Irregulars for  couple of years.

In 2008 and 2009 I was a member of Stirling Wargamers

I have been along to a few other clubs for a game or two but never signed up as a member..


Society of Ancients - from late 1970s for 20 plus years, then a break, a member again for the last 5 years or so

Society of Twentieth Century Wargames - also for the last five years

Naval Wargames Society - three days

I am sure that some people have a much longer list whilst others have stuck with a few good friends in one club or less formal group for all their wargaming life.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Game of PHV last night

A disaster!  Only flying 2 FW 190s against the American bomber stream returning from a raid.  Both had a wing blown off but fortunately the pilots bailed out OK.

I think I will take Me109s next time.  They can't do any worse!

Saturday 20 October 2012

Effect of changing template?

I signed up on the classic template but have been forcibly moved onto the new one.  It is no big deal but there does seem to have been a side effect on my page view count

The total page views have gone down a bit recently, but as I have not been posting as frequently or cross posting to the likes of TMP this is not unreasonable.  However the page view count by topic has gone through the floor - my last one on projects that might never be done has only 2.  I have had 2 comments so that would mean that noone else has looked at it at all which seems most unlikely.

Anyone else have this problem and/or know a solution?

Sunday 14 October 2012

Projects you will probably never do but keep buzzing around your head

Books are often inspirational for the wargamer.  However sometimes they give rise to the desire to do a project or refight a battle that is just very unlikely to happen.  That doesn't stop you thinking about them of course.  I am not talking about a passing fancy here but a long held wish that seems likely to be frustrated.

I have two longstanding examples that I thought I would share, prompted by the possibility of having acquired a third.

In 1979 I bought a copy of the Knight's wargaming series title on the Battle of Minden.  The successful advance of the British Infantry regiments against the cream of the French cavalry caught my imagination. I did some work on the OOB and how it might work as a wargame but have taken it no further.  I misplaced the book for about 10 years at my parents house and only came across it again after I was clearing their house when my mother passed away.  Once again the wargaming juices were stirred and tentative plans formed.

In 2005 I acquired a copy of Stopping Napoleon by Tom Pocock.A great book subtitled War and Intrigue in the Mediterranean.  This sparked another obsession, refighting Maida.  Another British victory but much less glamorous.  I can't really explain the fascination but once again I keep coming back to it.  Once again a full OOB exists (easier this time) but it has gone no further.

Last week I bought The Battle of Heligoland Bight 1939 by Robin Holmes.  This tells the story,which was entirely new to me, of the RAF's early attempt at a daylight bombing campaign using Wellingtons against the German Naval baseinthe North Sea.  They were intercepted and about half the force failed to return to base with the Luftwaffe only losing 2 fighters.  24 Wellingtons against about 40 German fighters, a mixture of Me 109s and Me 110s.  This led to the abandonment of a plan to launch a massive attack on the Ruhr and the Bomber Command stratedy turned to nightime bombing. Only time will tell whether or not this stays with me as the others have but my gut feeling is that it will.

Why not play these games if I am so interested in putting them on?  Part of it is to do with acquiring and painting the models.  Normally I am more than happy to borrow figures from friends but not for these battles.  I would want to own them.  The other major issue is that I have lots of other projects which grow in number every year and only move forward at a snails pace.  They at least allow me to use the same forces for a number of battles, the three above would be pretty much one offs. Also, after so much anticipation, would they live up to my expectations? 

Do you have anything similar on your bookshelves?  Those books that you go back to from time with a gleam in your eye thinking one day... one day....

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Quick update

I have been really busy at work so this is my first post for a while.

The one thing I have been able to keep up reasonably well is my gaming so 4 to briefly tell you about.

I have started a Dux Britanniarium campaign!  My raiding Saxons did not do so well though.  The scenario was an attempt to plunder a small village.  Having got there well before the defenders and almost immediately found the first bit of plunder 15 rolls failed to produce a 6 and I had to debunk  before finding the second piece.

Next up was Purple Heart Valley.  Four of us with four fighters each attacked a large formation of American bombers of which six went down, just none to my guns.

Last week I had my first game of Check Your 6! Jet Age,  I took a pair of Pakistani MiG 19s against Indian MiG 21s.  We zoomed around the sky getting the odd shot in  but neither doing substantial damage to the other.  Great fun though and yet another set of rules goes on my must buy list.

Last night Dux Bellorum was out again.  Stewart and Ken wanted to give it a go again so I brought out Late Roman and  Early Welsh armies.  They seemed to enjoy it but another early finish.

No joy on my September targets so I am not going to try targets again in October.  Work is likely to remain manic for another few weeks so wargaming will have to take a bit of a back seat.  I will try to do a few quick posts if I can

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Second Game of Dux Bellorum – Further Thoughts

First of all let me apologise for the lack of photos – I still am having problems downloading from my camera and have stopped taking pictures until that is resolved.  Rather a pity as some visual aids would have helped this report.
I took an Early Saxon Sea Raider Army made up as follows
Foot Companions
Noble Warriors x 3
Ordinary Warriors x 2
Foot Skirmisher (Bow) x 1
Foot Skirmisher (Javelin) x 1
My opponent for the night, Kev, brought a Late Roman Army
Mounted Companions
Noble Cavalry x 1
Ordinary Shieldwall x 3
Noble Shieldwall x 1
Bow x 1
Foot Skirmisher (Bow) x 1
Mounted Skirmisher (Javelin) x 1
Additional Leadership Point
Before we deployed I tried my assassination attempt needing 11 or 12 on 2 dice.  If successful it would have robbed the Romans of 3 of their 7 leadership points but it was not to be so it felt like 4 points (out of a total of 32) wasted at the start.
Having a much superior Aggressor factor it was almost inevitable that the Saxons would take that role which they duly did leaving the Romans as the defenders (repellors)
My plan was to punch through the centre with my 4 best warrior units, covered by the skirmishers, leaving an ordinary warrior unit on each flank to either to hold an attack or exploit the position if possible.  I intended to target the weaker shieldwall and bow units with my better troops and then move on to the harder troops who would hopefully be on fewer leader ship points having lost some units.
Kev’s Romans deployed with his 2 units of cavalry on his far right with the shieldwall and bow alongside them so his right and centre were fully occupied with the skirmishers covering his left.  I think his plan was to hold the main body of infantry back, sweep the cavalry round and then catch my main force both in the front and from the flank.
We had decided to play this game using Impetus bases (12 cm wide) but at half base width movement to make the game playable on a 6 x 4 board.  This greatly improved the look of the game and I think we will almost certainly continue to use this approach for future games.  What we did not do was increase the amount of terrain (probably a mistake) so we ended up with 2 hills, one on each flank with both our left flanking units having the opportunity to use them to their benefit in later combats.
The early moves were fairly predictable as I advanced along the line and Kev's cavalry and skirmishers also advanced.  Throughout the game there was only one occasion when damage was done by shooting when the Roman Bow unit took 2 cohesion points off a noble warrior unit.
I had a bit of luck on the right where I was able to catch the mounted skirmishers with my ordinary warrior unit and fairly quickly despatch it.  On the left the two cavalry units and the warrior unit on the hill started a melee which ground on for some time – more on that later as it was to prove to be the most controversial part of the battle.
My centre units closed with the Roman line and very quickly took out the bow (another leadership point lost by Kev).  I had detached the furthest left noble warrior unit to prevent the line being outflanked in the side where it was up against the noble shieldwall and a unit of ordinary shieldwall.
I threw good dice all night and before long another 2 Roman units had been destroyed, including the noble shieldwall.  By this stage, with the Saxons having lost no cohesion points at all in combat, Kev conceded.
Whist all this had been going on my ordinary shieldwall unit had stood firm on the hill, twice throwing back the opposing cavalry and causing 3 cohesion points of damage on the Roman mounted companions.  Both of us had been giving the units between 2 and 3 leadership points a turn, but I had used them in defence whist Kev had used them in attack.  Although I was always throwing less dice I was able to negate all the hits on my unit whist Kev had to take any his suffered.  The moral of the story was seemed to be that defensive use of leadership points is much more effective than using them for attack.  My dice rolls in that combat were certainly a bit better than Kev’s but the difference was by no means extreme.  It did seem a little odd that one 3 point unit could not only hold up 2 x 5 point units but actually be winning the combat hands down because of the way the leadership points had been declared.  Not only that but if the Roman leadership points had been used more effectively in defence there would have been a complete stand off barring some rather extreme dice rolls, which would still have been very much to the Saxon’s favour.
What was our conclusion? 
1) Stick with the Impetus bases but half base width movement on a 6 x 4 table but consider more terrain
2) Think carefully about the use of leadership points.  One option we talked about was that they could in the first instance be used to counteract each other, so 3 in defence and 2 in attack would deny any additional attacking dice and retain 1 to cancel a hit.
3) Give the game another go soon (without making any changes) whilst the rules are still fairly fresh in our minds.
4) It still seems an awfully quick game – we started a bit late but the game took barely an hour. Once again I was home early not really having had a fully satisfying night’s gaming.  Next time we might consider bigger armies or try to get 2 games in.

Monday 17 September 2012

Blogging and Linking to Forums

I often provide a link to blog posts on forums that I am a member of where I think there will be interest.  I normally include a 1 – 2 sentence summary of what the post is about. There has recently been a thread on the Lead Adventure Forum where a number of posters objected to this practice (in general not targeting me specifically) although others defended it.  It made me ask myself the question why do I do it?
The obvious answer is to reach more people.  There are about 3500 members of the Lead Adventure forum against the 55 followers that I currently have on my blog.
Ah, came the reply, but surely it would be very easy to copy and paste blog posts into forums?  This would allow forum readers to read and comment on it without needing to follow the link to the blog. The only reason for putting a link in is to publicise your blog and get more page hits.
This argument threw me a bit, until I realised the truth of it.  I do like to get blog hits and value comments on the blog more than comments made in a forum.  Having given it a bit more thought I then realised I don’t see anything wrong with that (although others obviously do).  Part of blogging is posting, but the equally significant part is feedback which includes post count.  It lets me know when people have found a topic interesting.  I feel good about a topic that gets some comments and lots of attention.  Also people that follow a link to my blog may well have a look at some of the other topics I have posted.  So after careful consideration I came to the conclusion that I am happy with what I do (which is always within the rules of the forums that I visit) and see no need to change.
I would be interested in other bloggers thoughts on this, whether or not you also link to forums and if so where on the spectrum of title and link to full copy and paste you sit.

Thursday 13 September 2012

My first Game of Washington’s Army

Something different on Monday night.  I had expected to be playing Purple Heart Valley but we were not quorate so instead I was instead able to take over command of an American Brigade for this AWI game.
We were playing the Battle of Camden, one of the nine scenarios included with the rules.  The aim was for the superior British forces to get across the field as quickly as possible.
This was the first time that I had played rules by Peter Pig and although some of the mechanisms were a little clunky (rolls to hit, saving rolls and then rerolls) they captured the flavour of the period quite nicely.  The British were much better trained but the Americans more numerous.    The chance element is reasonably high which I always like as it allows me to claim superior generalship for my victories and blame bad dice rolls when I lose. 
The British attacked with flair but the Americans managed to get off a few volleys and slow them down a bit.  Once it came to hand combat the Americans quickly gave ground.  Having done some damage to the British regulars, which was their objective, the Americans could claim a political victory, although harsh military reality would have indicated a British win.
It was also good to get a game with a couple of the newer club members John and Kev.  New to the club that is very experienced wargamers in fact.  The fourth player was my old mate Marco who managed to rout my one unit of veterans by the judicious throw of a double six.
I blame the dice myself……

Thursday 6 September 2012

Dux Bellorum – First impressions

I had my first game of Dux Bellorum on Monday. We used the Welsh and Saxon sample armies from the book.  I took the Saxons and Kev and Stewart between them the Welsh.  My 25mm collection provided the figures - I even managed to dig up a couple of cows to provide a mini stampede.  The monks were more Feudal than Dark Ages in appearance but at the end of the day a cowl is a cowl.

It was not a very subtle game. The Welsh cavalry and warriors charged forward and crashed into my shieldwall.  The skirmishers did very little damage on the flank but one of my Irish elements managed to take out the light cavalry.  The other one intercepted one of the Welsh warriors (I thought in the flank but not as I had not taken care to start from far enough back). The cows did their job by destroying themselves against the shieldwall but weakening a unit in the process. The monks were not keen to advance too far but were just close enough to provide spiritual help in the form of extra leadership points to most of their line.

I used leadership points to minimise casualties on the shieldwall which gave them plenty of staying power and I was eventually (with the aid of some good dice rolls) able to wear down the opposition to less than 50% in units.  The subsequent morale rolls went against the Welsh and they fled the field.

So what were   my first impressions of the rules?

I  like the mechanisms which generate good period flavour and are elegantly put together.  The rulebook itself is attractive and generally well laid out.  On the downside there seemed to be very few figures on the table (about sixty in total) and the game seemed to be over in no time at all.  Certainly not an evening’s entertainment, although to be fair we had not tried to be particularly sophisticated in our tactics. 

Definitely interesting enough to play again though and Kev and I have agreed a rematch in 2 weeks time, Late Roman against Saxon sea raider.  We will attempt to play two games in the one session.  25mm again, normal 60mm wide basing for the first game with the second using Impetus bases at 120mm wide, on a bigger table,  but keeping movement rates at 60mm base width equivalents.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it is difficult to give a rounded review of Dux Bellorum after just one game.  I want to like them as I approve of well written and presented period specific rules that try to capture the feel of a particular era.  However can deliver a satisfying game?  For me the jury is still out on that one.

Sunday 2 September 2012

Wargaming is meant to be fun isn't it?

A comment on my previous post about targets has really made me think.   We presumably all do this hobby because we enjoy it - setting targets can make it seem more like an obligation, or work even.

On reflection to me the hobby splits down into a number of parts some of which are more enjoyable than others

1) Reading, research and the fruits thereof.

I find this fascinating.  Finding out about a new period and getting into more depth in a period I already know something about are definitely great fun.  Also under this heading come reading rules and army lists.  This cumulates in getting an army ready for the table on paper at least, which can be a major undertaking in itself if an historical battle is to be recreated.  For non historical forces I suppose it can also includes the creative process of bringing together an imaginary setting.  The running of campaigns will also fall under this heading  for me.

2) Painting and modelling

If I want to put painted figures on the table I have to paint.  I enjoy painting as much as I enjoy working.  There is a challenge there and it feels good when the challenge has been met and achieved.  A deadline will often help to focus my efforts.  It is however still work and not pleasure. I get around this as best I can by buying painted second hand figures and getting others to paint for me when I can.  However it is sometimes just a case of biting the bullet, getting the paintbrush out and getting on with it.

I actually like my job and think I am quite good at it, Painting is like a part time job that I am only just competent at.  Modelling is different again, an activity where I vaguely know the basic principles, just enough to understand the depths of my incompetence.  I don't like separate weapons and shields because I have to stick them on the figures - that's about as far into modelling as I ever get.  (I nearly forgot - I can make archers stakes from cocktail sticks so perhaps there is hope for me yet)

3) Wargaming

Fun, fun, fun.  The best bit.  Want to do more.  If it's got figures/models and dice (or cards at a push) I want to play. I also need opponents.  Decent human beings with a good sense of humor preferred but not essential. Nuff said

4) Writing and blogging

I have always enjoyed writing but have never been able to persist with it - I may have a novel in me but I don't think it will ever get out.  I have written the very occasional wargames article and it is a huge thrill to get something published so that must count as fun.  I am still not quite sure with blogging.  It is a great way to record things and gives the feeling of being part of a wider wargaming community which I do like.  Comments are also nice.  The downside (or is it an upside?) is that time spent blogging is probably time I could have been painting. I will give it a year and see if I decide to keep it up.

Thanks for the comment on my earlier post Rory - as you can see it got me thinking.  Another advantage of a blog is that capturing your thoughts and posting them is a good way of parking them and moving on rather than letting them rattle around your head all day.  

Saturday 1 September 2012

Do monthly targets work ?

Inspired by 'Wargaming Girl' I set myself some targets for August - how did I do and did setting targets help?

Gaming - target 6 games - actual 6 games

By taking part in the Impetus competition last week I was able to get up to 6 games.  I was only a reserve for the competition - the target may have helped me a little to turn that into attending

Blogging - entries to cover all games played plus 4 more - achieved.  This was where the targets helped most as there were a couple of times when I really did not feel much like blogging but did so and was glad I had.  Also there were a record number of page views - over 1700 - with Dux Britanniarum First Impressions and my report on Claymore being particularly popular

Painting - target 2 squads of 7 men each - achieved nothing at all - I think I undercoated one SF trooper.  The target did not help at all, but I have struggled all year to do any painting.

2 out of 3 ain't bad so I will give it a go again for September

Games - 6 again

Blogging - all games plus 5 others including my trip to Paris (if I can get my photos downloaded which has been a pain)

Painting - 30 figures finished and magnetised - some of these won't need a lot of work.  I will try to progress the figures that I targeted in August

Overall pledge - I will keep setting targets as long as I can hit 2 out of 3 as I did in August

Friday 31 August 2012

Impetus Tournament in Rosyth

Last Sunday saw the 2nd round of the Scottish Impetus Championship for 2012, held at Civil Service Club in Rosyth hosted by Dunfermline Wargames Club.  The scale was 25/28mm (my army was 25mm everyone else’s was 28mm!)

My participation was very much last minute having been on holiday in Paris the week before.  Not being totally sure of my holiday plans I had put myself down as a reserve, so when the opportunity came to play I had to sort something out pretty quickly.

This was my fourth Impetus Tournament and I had used three different armies in the previous rounds.  I toyed with the idea of using Parthians again as the list was done and the army still sorted but in the end I decided to keep up the record and went for an El Cid Spanish army.  The core of the force was four units of Christian knights supported by skirmishing cavalry.  The foot were pretty weak with some spearmen, crossbows and skirmishers.

My first opponent was Richard from the Dunfermline club using Maximilian Imperial from the early 1500’s which was actually the nearest opposition available in terms of date.  This included two formidable Pike blocks, two large units of German knights, some skirmishing foot and an artillery piece.  The terrain board that we were randomly allocated was totally flat and bare.  My plan was to take out the supporting units and then attempt to flank the pike blocks, whilst keeping out of their way.  I managed to do some damage before we ran out of time and took no losses myself so it ended up a winning draw to me scoring 40 points to 20.

The first round had been based as near as possible historical match ups but in  subsequent two rounds pairings were done under the Swiss system with the two highest scorers from round one facing off and so on down to the two with the lowest score.  I was put up against a regular opponent of mine from the Falkirk club, David Burns, with his New Kingdom Egyptians.  This is a powerful defensive army which I had played in the previous tournament. On that occasion I had tried all out attack with my Parthians, got shot to pieces, had my flanks rolled up and ended up losing by 127 points to 3!  I determined not to make the same mistake twice.

I had some time to consider what I was going to do over a very nice lunch.  Hats off to the boys from the Dunfermline club, they were very gracious hosts.  Suitably refreshed we deployed and David had the first move.  He had put his archers on opportunity in the centre and decided not to move, inviting a repetition of our earlier game.  I replied that I would not move either!  Things could have got rather silly but next turn we both decided to show some attacking intent.  There were woods spaced across the table and I sent my three units of light cavalry to take on two chariot units on my right flank.  I held my knight back on opportunity as Egyptians advanced and there was a long range exchange of fire to no great effect.

I threw out two units of skirmishers in a wood on the left but their fancy manoeuvring was to no avail they ended up exposed and dispersed.  I finally unleashed two units of knights on the left in an attempt to break through and cause some damage and although my rolls were a bit better than David’s, which were awful, there was no decisive result.  I did manage to take out a chariot on the far right whist keeping my light cavalry intact but the game petered out into a tame draw at 29 points each.  Not great but a lot better than 127 to 3.

There was one feature of the game that provided much merriment.  I had set up with two units of knight in the centre facing to the right with the side of their bases against the table edge.  I decided to turn them and take them to the left, which required each unit to pass a discipline test.  The one on the right passed first time so turned and faced its compatriots.  The other unit failed and failed and failed – it never did turn around so the two units were stuck facing each other all game.  Thank goodness the Egyptians never got close enough to attack them.

My final game was against Mike, again from the Dunfermline club, who was using a Viking army.  This consisted of six or seven units of formidable infantry in large nits.  They were mounted which enabled them to move at cavalry speed for their first turn and they would then be able to form up in shieldwall which would make them a tough nut to crack.  My tactics this time were simple and the exact opposite of the previous games.  I knew that my best chance was to hit them as hard and as fast as I could with my knights before shieldwall could be formed.  I also put my camp in an exposed position hoping to draw off a unit or two.

It doesn’t happen very often but for once things went very much to plan.  My light cavalry chased off his skirmishers early on.  I ended up with a unit of knights overlapping which was able to turn and start the process of rolling the line up.  Mike wasn’t prepared to do the same to me as he would have been exposing the flanks of his units to my supporting infantry.  He had some limited success in the centre but I was fairly quickly able to claim a 117 to 13 victory.

The competition was won by Dax Robertson using Lombards, not surprising as he has near perfect record in Impetus competitions.  Frazer Watson came second using a Chinese army and I was third, much to my surprise.

Thanks to Ross for organising the tournament and our hosts for being so hospitable. Impetus is a good system for a one day tournament as it is quite easy to get three games in.  I am looking forward to the next round in October which will be the Scottish open.  We attracted 16 players last year so I am hoping it will prove just as popular this year.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

20 wargames related things

A number of people have been doing this so I thought I would have a go.

Apologies for the odd formatting!
1.     Favourite Wargaming period and why?  Must be Ancients in 25mm.  Always has been
2. Next period, money no object? WW2 all theatres in 28mm.  More practically Sikh Wars in 15m
3. Favourite 5 films? Kellys Heroes The Life of Brian, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Magnificent Seven, The Pink Panther
4. Favourite 5 TV series?  Dr Who, Poldark, Star Trek, Time Team,
5. Favourite book and author? Lord of the Rings
6. Greatest General? Alexander the Great
7. Favourite Wargames rules? Changes all of the time.  Most played WRG 6th edition Ancients –Currently Impetus
8. Favourite Sport and team? Newcastle United / English test cricket team
9. If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?   Nowhere – how would I get back?
10. Last meal on Death Row?  I would ask the chef for his recommendation
11. Fantasy relationship and why? Demelza why not?
12. If your life were a movie, who would play you? Alec Guiness
13. Favourite Comic Superhero? Batman – Adam West incarnation
14. Favourite Military quote? Oddball: Hi, man. Big Joe: What are you doing? Oddball: I'm drinking wine and eating cheese, and catching some rays, you know. Big Joe: What's happening? Oddball: Well, the tank's broke and they're trying to fix it. Big Joe: Well, then, why the hell aren't you up there helping them? Oddball: [chuckles] I only ride 'em, I don't know what makes 'em work. Big Joe: Christ! Oddball: Definitely an antisocial type. Woof, woof, woof! That's my other dog imitation
15. Historical destination to visit? – Gloster Hill
16. Biggest Wargaming regret? Regrets I’ve had a few but then again...... but I would like to visit Historicon one day
17. Favourite Fantasy job?  Emperor of the World hahahahahahaha
18. Favourite Song Top 5? Too difficult
19. Favourite Wargaming Moment? My next game
20. The miserable Git question, what upsets you? Having to lose my temper and shout to get people who should know better to do what they were supposed to do in the first place.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Just Recieved Dux Bellorum

This is the most excited I have been in a long time (really!)

Having had a quick read through they seem excellent and a real step forward from Dan Mersey's earlier Glutter of Ravens, which I also like.

First game in a fortnight - look out for my report of the game.

Well done Osprey  - wargames rules don't have to be huge tomes costing megabucks

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Flaming B17s

We had another game of Purple Heart Valley on Monday.  Three of us (each with 4 planes) took on a box of B17s and their Spitfire escorts somewhere over France.  The Americans got pretty badly mauled and although several Luftwaffe fighters also went down only one pilot was killed and it is easier to replace planes than pilots!

My one and only Ace chalked up a Spitfire kill to take his score to 10.  My other experienced pilot has been stuck on 4 kills for a while and was unable to add to his tally.  However another guy with one mission one kill to his name managed to take out 2 B17s and a Spitfire.

These are always lighthearted fun games and this was no exception.  I tend to have Monday night games organised a few weeks in advance and so often miss out which is a shame because it is one of the games that I enjoy the most.

If you are interested in Purple Heart Valley click on the tag with that name - I did a bit of a review earlier in the year

Tally Ho! (or whatever the German equivalent is)

Saturday 11 August 2012

Dux Britanniarum – First Impressions.

I have called this first impressions rather than a review as it is based on a skim read of the rules and a single game with them.   Apologies for any errors in representing the rule mechanisms.

The rules are set in the struggle for supremacy between British and Saxon forces in the period following the departure of Rome as central power fractured and was replaced by a number of petty British Kingdoms challenged by Germanic invaders intent on conquest.  This is an immediate point in their favour as far as I am concerned as most of the rules in the pre 1500 period are generic and so often lack period flavour.  I will always give period specific rules a go.

They are unit driven rules, with the units aided by individual characters.  This reminds me of WAB, although the characters are much less powerful in combat.  My concern from some of the pre release discussions was that they would be a skirmish set with each man been moved and fought individually.  I do play skirmish games but not in a campaign environment which was another element of the rules that was much commented on.

As well as battle rules and army lists there are also sections on character generation and campaign rules which form a fundamental part of the system.  More on that later.

Dux Britanniarum is I believe similar to other rules form the TFL stable in using a card based system to add variation to the relatively simple battle rules but also to add uncertainty and generate a fog of war element.  I am new to such systems but was happy to give them ago.

The game was against Richard, an occasional opponent, and held at his house.  It was Richard who had bought the rules and suggested them for our next game.  He provided the troops and most of the interpretations as we went through the night.  It was also his first game so there was always going to be an element of trial and error in the proceedings as is inevitable in such circumstances.

We decided sides and the scenario on a random basis and I ended up commanding the Saxons on a raid against an isolated British farmstead.  My aim was to find 2 items of plunder in the buildings of the farmstead and then make good my escape.  To my great good fortune I was able to make 3 moves before the British forces were able to respond and even then they could only bring on 3 units in their first move. Further rolls determined that the Saxons had a force morale level (akin to a breaking point reached when units break and nobles are killed) of 6 to the British 8. We each had 3 nobles and a champion.  I had two units of elites and four of warriors along with a unit of archers.  Richard had the same number of units but some of his were levy.  His advantage was that he could form shieldwall and I could not. 

There is an element of pre-battle activitybefore combat commences.  It seemed unreasonable to do this before both sides were on the table so this was delayed a little.  We ended up with a duel of the champions and left it at that although there is the possibility to do other things such as call on the Gods for help or make an inspiring speech bolster your troops.  I like the fact that this can also backfire and actually make matters worse.

The above photo shows the first phase of the battle quite nicely. I got most of my units into formation and advanced to the hill whilst 2 nobles went on a treasure hunt and one unit took up position alongside the farmstead.  Richard’s men came on in a fairly haphazard manner but he soon sorted them out into reasonable order.  What you can’t see is that the left flank of my force was covered first by archers and then a substantial wood.  You can however probably deduce that the first action of the day did not go my way as my champion fell after a prolonged fight with his British counterpart.
It was at this stage that I asked what benefit my troops would get for holding the hill.  Further perusal of the rules suggested that whilst troops in shieldwall benefited those not in shieldwall, namely my Saxons, did not.

This was actually the turning point of the battle.  By this stage I had discovered one lode of plunder and I still had plenty of time to find a second.  Given the objective of the scenario was to plunder and then retreat I decided to do just that and started to do just that.  My line turned tail and made for the table edge alongside the farm.  Unfortunately the final bit of plunder proved elusive so I eventually made if off table with just the one.  There was one sticky moment when a very high score by the pursuing British might have caught me in the rear but this did not materialise.

Because I had exited from a side table edge we checked for stragglers but in the end only 4 of my men were left behind and caught their British pursuers.

So the only hand to hand combat was between the champions.  The archers shot at each other but to little avail. The Fate cards had not been used in anger but in the post battle campaign phase which we did for completeness my cards signifying successful retreat outnumbered Richards’s pursuit cards and I was able to claim a narrow victory of sorts.

We had a little time left so decided to see what would have happened it we had actually come to blows.  We each put in 3 units and 2 characters into a straight head to head punch up.  Each figure gets a dice, plus 2 for each attached character.  However Richard had some good fate cards in his hand and the advantage of being in shield wall.  I can’t remember the exact numbers but I had something like 20 dice hitting on 5s and 6s against about 30 needed 4s, 5s and 6s.  The result was predictable if slightly better than I expected with me ending up with 5 casualties to Richard’s 2. 

Although time was getting late (I have an hour’s drive back and don’t like leaving later than 11pm) we were able to spend some time discussing the pros and cons of the rules and their suitability for use in future games at our local clubs.  I always find these discussions very illuminating and it certainly provided food for thought for the drive home.

 Rather than to try to summarise our debate I will instead give you my own conclusions.

The production values of the publication are fine and the systems well thought out.  They would be usable for one off games on a club night and would normally allow a conclusion to be reached in the time we have available.  If you have troops based for other systems on multiple bases I don’t think it would be an issue to use them as they are and indicate casualties with dice or something similar.

The battle rules are OK but it is the campaign rules that are the real strength of Dux Britanniarum.  They look really good.  I actually love the fact that the game resulted in virtually no combat.  How often would that happen with other rules?  I followed the logic of the generated scenario and achieved a marginal victory.  None of this line both sides up and send them off to die stuff.  Others might find the lack of action boring or frustrating but it the ability to look beyond the normal blood and guts of almost all other wargames rule sets appeals to me.

The strength of the system is however also its weakness.  To get the most from these rules really does necessitate a commitment to play quite a lot of battles and to maintain interest they would have to be done over a reasonably short time period.  I play lots of periods and rules at the club, as do my likely opponents, so anything more than once a month would be pushing it.  I just can’t see it working.

So having enjoyed the game and my first experience of TFL rules my reluctant conclusion is that I am unlikely to play many more games and can’t justify the £25 purchase price.   If I can think of a way to play even a single campaign on a weekly or even fortnightly basis then I would go for it.  Time for me to put on my thinking cap I suppose as it would be a shame to leave it at that.