Saturday, 18 July 2009

Super Service - Scarab and Brigade Games

I ordered some more 28mm WW1 figures on 1st July from Scarab Miniatures and Brigade Games. These were mainly for my late war French troops as I need figures which can easily be identified as grenadiers and rifle grenadiers for Through the Mud and the Blood. Whilst both do the former only Scarab seems to do suitable figures with VB grenade launchers. It was also an opportunity to have a look at Scarab's figures for real (website photos aren't always ideal).

Both companies sent emails out on 3rd July saying they had dispatched the orders and I received the Scarab one on 6th July and the Brigade one on 10th July. An excellent service from both firms!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Wargames Weekend: Fear & Faith

Our final game was a playtest of the Fear and Faith rules from Ganesha Games. These are a set of horror rules based on their Song of Blades and Heroes engine.

The scenario was a simple "last man standing" over possession of an ancient Greek site during World War Two. I played to type as the forces of darkness with a Vampir Gruppe consisting of, surprise surprise, a vampire (and a Nazi one to boot), two She Wolves and six zombies. Lenin had a small section of British infantry accompanied by an army chaplain.

Things started fairly slowly as we got familiar with the rules and my zombies advanced slowly across the table chanting "Gehirn". Lenin found it tricky to dispatch the zombies as they needed an aimed shot (to the head) and so, after an initial advance, decided on a more defensive strategy.

I decided to take the offensive and assumed gaseous form with my vampire in order to infiltrate the British position. Eventually I managed to materialise among them and a battle between the force of light and dark was joined. Unfortunately for the light the chaplain was unable to skewer me when he had the advantage but I gave him a nasty nip when it was my turn. As the chaplain was the only one with the wooden stakes the Brits decided discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew.
The main issue I had with the rules (which I whinged on and one about - as Lenin would happily tell you) was the need to roll to activate each figure. My dice rolling is erratic at the best of times and so this made the game a little frustrating. I also had a bit of a problem rationalising why my "big bad" character needed to roll to take any actions at all. Lenin did point out that the rules did have an option to avoid this and that some of the attributes (for example fear) would have been better substituted for others which would have made the game play out slightly differently.
All in all I'm not sure that the rules provide many advantages over others we already use other than being a little simpler (which is not to be sniffed at since I have difficulty remembering even the most straightforward sets). We're going to take a little time to reflect on them in order to decide whether to give them another chance or try some other alternatives based on our existing stock of the rules.

Wargames Weekend: Galatas Village

Next up was the next part of our invasion of Crete campaign. Fortunately my Fallschirmsjaeger had managed to find some of the rest of their scattered force as the original team took quite a pasting last time.

Our objective in this scenario was to move from Cemetery Hill and take the village of Galatas. I decided on a two pronged attack one side of which immediately came under fire from a bren gun team on the other side of the valley.

After quite a fire fight I managed to pin down the bren gun team and send some men over to close assault the position. Meanwhile, on the other flank, we had discovered the allied troops holed up in the village. A few casualties were taken crossing the dry gully and advancing to within charge range of the buildings. We just needed to keep the allies heads down long enough for a close assault.

With the bren gun position neutralised on the left flank I was able to put some firepower on the flank of the village and the troops on the right assaulted the buildings. One succumbed quickly but there was a vicious hand to hand fight for the second building but in the end my superior numbers made all the difference.

Wargames Weekend: Patrols in the Sudan

Following on from the Spanish Civil War game we decided to give Peter Pig's Patrols in the Sudan a go. As my Essex Sudan figures aren't quite based correctly for the rules we had to work around that (the wide Mahdist bases acted as two bases each for example).

Lenin took charge of the British forces with his mission to recce a village and report back.

It took a little while to get the hang of the rules, something that wasn't helped by the terrible layout, poor proofreading and limited explanations in the rules.

Lenin managed to get the column to the village relatively easily, largely because of my inability to get troops onto the table. When I did attack he managed to get his units to turn to face ir redeploy and shot my Mahdists to pieces.

But when he tried to return he had quite a few more problems. One unit attempted to scout some brush and was surprised my one of mine who managed to get into hand to hand and gave them a damned good thrashing. Another of his units marched in column past some broken ground and I took the opportunity to charge into his flank. Unfortunately for Lenin his column failed to turn to face and paid the penalty. I then turned to the next unit in the column and that suffered a similar fate to the first. The remaining unit was holding the village but unlike the others this was a veteran unit of highlanders and they were not going to be a push over.
I managed to get units into templates either side of it forcing it to move into square. But when I assaulted him it all began to go wrong. The highlanders managed to shoot the leaders of both of the Mahdist units which then stalled in rifle range and were shot to pieces. The highlanders then managed to march away and complete the mission.
Despite taking substantial casualties Lenin managed to score a victory mainly due to the losses by the Mahdists and having successfully completed the mission.
Patrols in the Sudan provides a fun game despite the poor presentation and will be hitting the table again.

Wargames Weekend: Muerte in Merida

Our third game was a great opportunity to get my Grand Manner Spanish terrain out with some of my Anglian Miniatures figures along with a chance to try an adaptation of the Lardies Through the Mud and the Blood rules.

I played to type as the Nationalists but this time in defence. The Legion had captured Merida and the Republicans, reinforced by Asaltos from Madrid, decided to try taking it back.

My main challenge was holding the large town wall with only three sections. Things started well but the Asaltos penetrated the perimeter before one of my sections managed to reach it (one of the challenges of the card driven system with a small number of Big Men). It was at this stage that we found the modifier for moving attackers in melee (defender loses 2 dice per attackers dice of movement) which resulted in my section being routed.

The Asaltos went on to attack the next unit in the flank routing it also. As a result my big men spent most of their time removing shock points in order to turn the around. Eventually I managed to rally the units but they lost the firefight with the Republicans and the latter were victorious.

What was apparent was that Mud & Blood does not easily translate to periods with smaller unit sizes. I also plan to query that pesky melee modifier on the Lardies discussion group.

Wargames Weekend: Ambush Alley

Our second game was a chance to get Ambush Alley to the table. I played the US forces and had three 4 man fireteams who had been sent in to rescue two civilian contractors who had got into trouble. On the first turn the men spotted an Improvised Explosive Device (IDE) hidden in a car situated right between our entry point and the target. Consequently we couldn't take the most direct route. I started by sending one fireteam into one building to tackle an insurgent hotspot whilst the remainder of the unit crossed a nearby wall. The first fireteam then advanced toward another building but came under insurgent fire and took casualties. In trying to withdraw two of the men were killed and the others were wounded. The other two teams advanced under fire but were able to neutralise it and secure another building. One team took up a covering position whilst the other advanced across an alley way to try to secure another building overlooking another hotspot. They then came under intensive fire and took casualties. At this point I decided to withdraw to regroup.

The game was certainly difficult for the US forces, although the insurgency level was set very high, I can see how this would be challenging at most levels. However our main concern was that whilst fun the rules are very specifically designed for modern urban combat against insurgents and this will make them of somewhat limited use for us. For this type of game they are likely to get other outings but I suspect this may not be that frequent as we don't tend to play these type of scenarios very often.

Wargames Weekend: 1938 The Spirit of Dr Syn Lives On

Last weekend Lenin came over for another visit. We managed to get six tabletop games into the three days and had plenty of variety of periods and rules. Our first game was a chance for me to get my new Musketeer Miniatures figures onto the table for A Very British Civil War.

A group of like minded Men of Kent (or possibly Kentish Men - I didn't make the brief particular on that point) decided to emulate that infamous resident of Dymchurch, Dr Syn, and smuggle some weapons into the country in order to give that awful upstart Mosley a damned good thrashing. The driving force behind this plan were two ex army types, Captain Jack "Bulldog" Dunbar DSO MC and Major Sir Alfred Ayes-Waughter. Accompanied by the Major's faithful gamekeeper Harry Johnson they intended to load a consignment of arms purchased from some friendly chaps in the colonies onto a lorry and head back to the Major's manor.

Unfortunately some cad had given the game away and, acting on information received, Inspector Hugh "Snapper" Jorgan decided to visit the coast accompanied by three armed constables. To make matters worse one of the constables had told his brother, a shining light in the local BUF, who have decided to turn out and assist the boys in blue.
The inspector and the constables were proceeding in a southerly direction when they came under a hail of bullets from two different directions and were pinned down. Fortunately an element of the BUF arrived and distracted the gunmen allowing the police to advance but not before one of the constables had thought better of the whole adventure and taken to his heels.

A pitched battle ensued between the BUF and the gunmen, ably commanded by the Major, and casualties were suffered on both sides. Unfortunately the rebel's lewis gun ran out of ammunition at a critical moment and let the BUF supported by their sergeant, who was carrying a sub-machine gun, to close. A desperate melee was joined but the Major, with his extensive experience of hand to hand fighting, managed to end up the last man standing after polishing of at least four of the BUF blighters but, unfortunately, not before the rest of his group had been rendered insensible.

Meanwhile the remainder of the BUF contingent, ineptly commanded by Frederick Spode, were advancing on the other side of the road whilst Bulldog and his men loaded the lorry and started to move up the road. After a little cat and mouse more gunfire was exchanged and the BUF took the worst of it. The rebels managed to get their wounded onto the lorry with their contraband and escaped (albeit at a leisurely pace - since steam was the motive power) leaving the BUF and police to lick their wounds.

The figures used were a combination of the Musketeer IRA and BUF along with a couple of Copplestone personalities and we used the Two Hour Wargames Nuts! rules.