Sunday, 28 January 2007

Nach Paris!

Managed to get a game of Nach Paris! (a Franco Prussian Fire & Fury variant) in on Thursday as the Prussians. A great game but it did reveal the issues around modifying one rule set for another period. Some of the key mechanisms in Fire & Fury work on the basis of equivalent ranges for musketry in the American Civil War. Clearly this isn't true of the Franco Prussian war where ranges and fire power differed significantly between the opposing forces. So do you introduce differential ranges and, if so, how do you deal with the "retreat beyond enemy musket range" results? The Fire & Fury mechanics clearly have a level of abstracting and thus introducing a new variable can create some problems which aren't immediately apparent.

As it was the game was great fun and the weapons issues have been taken away for a bit of tweaking. Unfortunately the result was relatively historic with a French "victory" but I'll put that down to a lack of aggressiveness on my colleague's flank (of course a lot fewer duff dice rolls on my part might of made a difference too!)

Sunday, 21 January 2007

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

Sorry that there haven't been any posts lately - I have been down with the 'flu and hence haven't had much time for blogging or gaming. Having recovered I'm in the process of progressing a couple more reviews.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Review: Division Commander

Division Commander is a set of miniature wargames rules for gaming multi-day battles of World War Two from Bruce McFarlane published under his Complete Wargame Packages (CWP) banner. The rules are designed for multi-Division multiple day actions with individual stands representing a Battalion. The ground scale is 3 inches to the mile and the time scale is variable but a turn is roughly equivalent to between 90 minutes and 3 hours.
Division Commander is only available as an Adobe .pdf download comprising the main rules, quick reference sheet, three scenarios, counters and Division cards for typical German, Soviet and Allied Forces. The rules have a colour front cover and some small colour photographs of miniatures but is otherwise in black and white. Other than the contents page it is laid out in a single column format in a relatively small font. The main rules run to some 21 pages. The rules are followed by four pages of FAQs. The three scenarios included are Counterattack at Arras, El Almein (sic): Operations Lightfoot and Supercharge and Mud at Mtsensk.
The presentation is generally poor with muddled page layouts, multiple fonts being used in single sections for no apparent reason, fonts which are uncomfortably small which combined with poor proof-reading and the rules/FAQ approach does not make the rules pretty or easy to navigate. Different terminology is used to describe the same things (e.g. dispersed/decimated) and the Quick Reference Sheet actually disagrees with the main rules.
Sequence of Play
Each day turn is broken down into around 30 steps with additional steps for the first turn but night turns have only 4.
Typically these are as follows:
Corps Artillery, Air Support and Command
Initiative (an opposed modified d6 roll)
Phasing Player:
Recover from dispersed
Rally from disorder
Motivate deployed units
Change orders (optional rule)
Air strikes
Move HQ
Defensive fire from non-phasing player
Offensive fire
Close combat
Momentum test (optional rule)
Reverse Roles and Repeat
Whilst this may seem lengthy each turn actually flows relatively smoothly once the rule kinks have been ironed out.
Players are either allocated forces using a historic scenario or can select them via a random or points based approach. Not all Divisions will be present on the table at the start of the game and a mechanism is provided to determine which will be available immediately and which will arrive later. Reinforcements can be rolled for from turn 3 onwards.
Corps and Army Support
This is represented through the allocation of counters or "chits" for artillery barrages, air support and Corps command and control. These are rolled for randomly to determine the number available and then may be utilised during a player's turns.
Unit Status / Command Radius
Units can be deployed (following firing), disordered or dispersed (as combat results). Divisional HQs have a 9 inch command radius outside of which things become nasty for units (e.g. they are unable to modify units' status).
Each Division also has a "Supply and Communications Centre" (SCC) which is a fixed position on the table for each Division and the Divisional HQ must be able to link to the SCC via the road network.
The issuing of commands is one of the key rule mechanisms. As the day goes on and units become deployed, disordered and/or dispersed the number of commands available to a player will reduce until eventually units will "Go to Ground". Commands are then utilised to motivate deployed units (to enable them to move forward), rally disordered units or recover dispersed units (if successful they reappear at your SCC). Additionally commands may be used to call in air support (if any has been made available), artillery barrages or allocate additional support to units in combat (represented by die roll modifiers). Divisions that have Gone to Ground receive only a single command per turn and when all units have Gone to Ground the day is over (hence days may last differing numbers of turns).
Units have both a fast and slow movement mode (the latter when they are taking advantage of the terrain for cover) typically 6 inches and 3 inches. Even if only individual units decide to move "fast" the whole Division will be deemed as "fast" for applying the effects. Road movement is also available at double speed provided movement on road is done for the whole turn and it is not used to go into close combat.
Units which do not move may be marked as having "directed fire" for the use of 1 command which will enable them to have defensive fire in the other player's turn.
Ranged combat is simply a matter of determining if a unit can be seen, is in range and rolling a modified d6 and comparing it to the unit's Effective Fire number. Ones are always considered failures whilst sixes are always considered successes.
Close combat is resolved in a similar fashion for any units which are in base to base contact; however, multiple rounds of close combat may occur until a decisive result is acheived.
Night Turns
Night attacks are catered for but typically night turns are used for recovery, rallying, motivation, engineering, reinforcement and reallocation of support units.
Optional Rules
These are provided for paratroops, hidden deployment and movement, strategic and other movement options and Divisional orders.
I really like the concepts that Bruce McFarlane has tried to include in these rules and the ability to play games in a reasonable time at this level is very welcome. However, the presentation is frankly appalling, the rules are poorly laid out, no examples are provided and the Quick Reference Sheet is inconsistent with the main rules in a number of places and in very substantial ways. In addition, the inclusion of the roll of a 6 always being a success frequently turns combat into a "6 and you're dead" dice rolling exercise which removes some of the feel from the game. If you have the patience to persevere, rewrite the Quick Reference Sheet and add a few home brew modifications these rules could be useful, of course none of this should be necessary for a set of rules you are being asked to pay US$23 for a.pdf download in this day and age. Similarly there is no excuse for the poor presentation.
Overall there is a reasonable set of rules here but they do not compare well for presentation or value to other rules for this period (albeit for differing levels).

Monday, 8 January 2007

A Game-Filled Weekend

What with card games, board games and wargames we managed to get 18 games in over the weekend. Montjoie! got a second outing, this time at skirmish level (and much better for it), Division Commander for the first time and Rackham's AT-43 saw the tabletop.

For less serious stuff WizKids' Rocketmen: Axis of Evil got a try and so did Heroscape (it may be a toy but it's definitely fun!) plus Ticket to Ride, Cleopatra and the Society of Architects along with Shogun.

So expect some reviews shortly!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

First Look: Hölle auf Erden (Hell on Earth)

Hölle auf Erden (Hell on Earth) is a zombie supplement for Nuts! from Two Hour Wargames. It provides a simple Weird War 2 background to explain the alternate history for late in the war to allow zombies to be fielded.

It effectively adds some of All Things Zombie to the excellent Nuts! World War 2 rules which are based on Chain Reaction 2.0 which I reviewed back at the beginning of December.

Hell on Earth allows the zombies to be controlled or un-controlled and, as with All Things Zombie, the latter works well for solo play.

Hell on Earth is available in both .pdf and hardcopy formats at $5.00 and $8.00 respectively from Two Hour Wargames.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Figure Review: Mongrel Miniatures NATO Range

Due to the number of photos rather than compile another Video Review I've simply uploaded the photos to Picasa:

Figure painting is by Lenin.

This is a superb range from Mongrel Miniatures with excellent sculpting and come highly recommended.

Happy New Year!

We welcomed the New Year in with some Days of Wonder games - Cleopatra and the Society of Architects and Pirate's Cove. I'm getting a bit long in the tooth for a booze fest anyway!

I hope 2007 is a happy and prosperous one for you.