Saturday, 30 January 2010

Wargames Weekend: Scavanger Hunt

The first game on our final day was yet another playtest, this time Chain Reaction 3.0 - Swordplay. On the whole have been pretty pleased with the reaction system based games from Two Hour Wargames for modern periods and even as far back as Black Powder Battles but less happy with the only medieval rules we tried (Montjoie). But having rather a lot of 28mm pointy stick figures I was keen to see whether Swordplay might be better.

The scenario involved some Crusaders out foraging encountering some, perhaps unsurprisingly, hostile locals when trying to take their supplies. I used my 28mm Gripping Beast figures along with my desert hamlet from the Colonial Steamboat Company.

The small force of Crusaders consisted of five mounted armoured knights (Rep 5) with shields and lance along with five unarmoured warriors (Rep 3) with spears and shields. The Saracens consisted of one armoured noble (Rep 5) with sword and shield, 10 unarmoured warriors (Rep 3) with spears and shields and 5 unarmoured archers (Rep 3). The relative sizes were based on the points system from the rules. I took command of the Crusaders and Lenin the Saracens.

With the classic Two Hour Wargames Rep based initiative system my knights activated on most turns but my foot troops were a little less enthusiastic. As the knights approached the village they triggers a crisis test for the Saracen archers who opened fire (There is no equivalent of the In Sight test from the more modern CR rule sets but rather one based on approaching within 12 inches). The arrows merely bounced off my knights' armour and their reaction was to charge!

Unfortunately for the knights, access to the village was limited on their size of approach and so only one could charge through the archway (ducking theatrically to avoid being swept from horseback!) but facing two spear armed Saracens. The charge ended up with one of the Saracens becoming intimately familiar with the knight's lance but the other managed to unhorse him. This started a lengthy fight in the archway with my knight besting the Saracen warriors but meeting his match with their Noble. Even with assistance from another knight the Crusaders just couldn't get the edge over the Saracen.

Meanwhile three of the other knights became bored watching the fight but not being able to join in and went in search of another way in. They found another archway and, having dismounted, advanced into the village. Spotting the remainder of the Saracen force defending the main village gate the Crusaders charged! Fortunately for the Saracens they reacted in time and most of them turned to face off the Crusader attack. Unfortunately the unarmoured Rep 3 warriors didn't do too well against the armoured Rep 5 knights even though outnumbering them and the fight was soon over.

Eventually the Saracen Noble, after putting up a spirited resistance even though outnumbered, was overcome. The Crusaders discovered the Saracen archers cowering in a nearby building and captured them.

We thought the rules worked pretty well and will be using them again. Although for le=arger games the combat mechanism would begin to slow matters down as it works on rolling groups of d6, looking for successes and then rerolling them until one side doesn't get any.

However, it was clear that the points system wasn't a good basis for trying to balance the game. The Crusader infantry didn't actually take part at all and the Rep 5 knights were a lot more capable and hardy than the Rep 3 Saracen warriors. So we'll need to give that some thought for next time.

The rules are available as a free download from the Two Hour Wargames website.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Wargames Weekend: The Rail Yards at Toko-Ro

Next up was an air game, which is something we haven't played in a long while. Lenin provided the terrain, a Hotz mat and some 1/300 Korean War aircraft. We used Bag the MiG, the Korean War version of Bag the Hun from the TooFatLardies with me playing the Koreans in their MiG15s. I rolled up my pilots on the tables and managed to get a rather uninspiring one regular and seven sprogs.

As with most of the Lardies rules we started the game on blinds and built the initiative deck as the game progressed and things were spotted (although there's no Tea Break equivalent in this set of rules). Lenin's blinds spotted me almost straight away but I had terrible luck trying to spot his blinds and consequently got bounced by on of his flights.

We did a lot of manoeuvring but my pilots found it very difficult to stay in formation and he managed to bag a couple of my MiGs. However, I got lucky and bagged one of his aircraft too. I did get a little frustrated when I emptied my entire 8 seconds (apparently this has been enhanced for playability from the real 6 seconds) of ammunition into one of his aircraft but failed to roll any damage on the table.

In the end I actually managed to win, less because of my prowess at flying, and more because Lenin had terrible trouble lining up on the target and consequently didn't satisfy his victory conditions.

I must admit I didn't find the Koreans terribly satisfying to play for a number of reasons but given the actual kill ratios maybe this is accurate. I think we need to try the vanilla rules (or even the WW1 variant) to see how those play.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Wargames Weekend: Contact at Hill 325

Day two started with a WW1 scenario from my SkirmishCampaigns booklet Rommel's Route to Verdun converted to be used with Nuts! This is the second scenario in the campaign and Lenin happily reprised his role as Rommel with me donning les pantalons rouge again.

The French had strong forces in the nearby village of Bleid and scattered forces holding the ground to the east, around Hill 325 and in the woods north of the Hill. Rommel’s platoon had advanced to the Hill and deployed on the northeast side. Their mission was to advance across the south and west sides of the hill and seek out the French. The early hour combined with fog greatly restricted visibility making their life more difficult.

Rommel split his force in two with one section advancing across the Northern half of the table and the other between the two fields of crops. Rommel took command of the second section himself.

The Northern section stumbled across a small French patrol group resting in a small copse and after a prolonged fire fight took several casualties and decided to withdraw. Meanwhile Rommel advancing towards the woods to the West ran into a section of French infantry and another firefight ensued. This time the Germans managed to get the upper hand and, after several rounds of firing, the French were silenced and the Germans moved in to capture the survivors.

I had wondered whether I needed to revise the victory conditions specified in the scenario but in the end it turned out to be challenging enough for the Germans. The figures were all 28mm from Renegade Miniatures.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Wargames Weekend: Ranger Roadblock

Next up was another playtest, this time with the TooFatLardies Troops, Weapons & Tactics (TW&T) rules and a 28mm WW2 Normandy scenario. We have played TW&T once before but didn't warm to it. Having now played their other initiative card rules Sharp Practice and Through the Mud & the Blood we thought we should give TW&T another go. The objective was to see if these rules offered something Nuts! and I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! (IABSM) didn't.

Lenin has been painting up his collection of Crusader WW2 figures and was keen to let some of his US Rangers see the table. Unfortunately he didn't have time to finish enough Germans so I had to fill the gap with some of my Foundry and Crusader collection (hence the varied basing).

The scenario was a pretty challenging one for the Rangers as they had a similar number of troops as the Germans but were attacking. I secretly deployed my German units (two sections each with an LMG team and a tripod mounted LMG team) and selected a location for my pre-plotted mortar fire.

Lenin chose to concentrate on my left but I managed to pin him down as he advance across the first open area and this gave me enough time to redeploy my second section to reinforce the first. I had set up a fire lane down the road from the tripod LMG team but initially it had no targets.

With the initial assault stalled Lenin called in some mortar fire and then tried to outflank me. Unfortunately the mortar fire wasn't terribly effective and the outflanking troops were pinned down in my firelane.

With things starting to look a little bleak for the US troops with the mortar running out of HE it switched to smoke and Lenin tried another assault. Fortunately for me I had the foresight to withdraw my first squad from their initial positions and when the assault came I managed to catch it with some nasty combined LMG fire. So the game ended in the US withdrawing.

Whilst I enjoyed the game I felt it would have played quite differently using Nuts! and I wasn't sure that the extra complexity had given the rules a real edge over IABSM. I am going to take some time to reflect but TW&T certainly wasn't the instant hit that both Sharp Practice and Through the Mud & the Blood were.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Wargames Weekend: Beyond the Pale

Last weekend was another of our quarterly gaming weekends. We decided for a little bit of an experimental first day with a new period and some modified rules and then a playtest game of some others.

First up was a chance to get my Vendel Tudor figures to the table. I bought these some considerable while ago (as I recall I collected them a Salute when it was at Olympia!) but haven't settled on a rules system. The figures grew from my original Border Reivers project and when Vendel added the Irish figures I was persuaded to start a new project. I bulked out the pike with some figures from Graven Images which, whilst bulkier, do mix reasonably well.

Having done plenty of reading about the period I thought my best bet was to model the harassing the column type engagement with formed English troops advancing through Ireland being attacked on the way by the locals rather than the later more formal battles of Tyrone's rebellion. This presented a bit of a problem when looking for suitable rules . Two Hour Wargames' Colonial Adventures rules may seem an odd choice but when I went back to basics the regular formed troops versus irregular troops seemed to me to be a common theme. So I created some new reaction tables and added additional tests for forming units and reloading muskets and a new set was born.

Our playtest scenario was a simple one with an small English column advancing up the table to a small ford. I used the Colonial Adventures patrol scenario which provided enough mechanics to deal with the potential enemy forces (PEFs). The English were given two units of calivers and one unit each of pike, billmen and border horse. The horse came on first and got a little ahead of the main infantry column when they spotted some Irish. These were resolved as a unit of Gallowglass and some Kern. The former decided to charge from their hiding place and the English horse managed to counter charge. It was a bloody encounter and the smaller unit of horse came off worst with the Kern simply looking on the whole time.

This little fight gave the column the chance to advance and form up.

They sent the billmen off to scout through the woods and they managed to spot some Irish horse and some archers. With no real ranged weapons the billmen took a couple of showers of arrows and decided discretion was the better part of valour and retreated to the column with the archers following up cautiously. Meanwhile having taken some caliver fire the Gallowglass and the Irish horse decided to attack the English head on (probably not the wisest move but we needed to test the rules!). The English shot bore the brunt of the assault and whilst one wing took some serious casualties the other managed to hold their own.

Having suffered quite a few losses the Irish decided to melt away and leave the slightly battered English column to carry on their advance. Of course who knows what might await them further up the road!?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Stage 3 Projects

And now onto the "real" projects:

28mm Greek Myth
I have a set of rules, Typhon and have "invested" in some suitable Foundry and Eureka figures and even have some terrain but I now need the figures painted. Given the superb job that Lenin did on his own figures I was a bit cheeky and asked him to paint mine up - clearly he is waiting for his muse...

15mm Alexander the Great
I started this with a low investment approach by getting a couple of DBA armies. This has expanded to 4 (Alexandrian Macedonian, Persian, Greek and Thracian) plus a few ancillary items to widen the scope (elephants anyone). But the original plan was to move to massed battles (much as I like DBA). My main stumbling block has been finding a set of suitable rules - particularly as I am looking for ones which actually provide some period feel.

28mm Montrose
I bought some Redoubt figures for this more years ago than I would care to remember and whilst they are now painted I have yet to base them. This has mainly been down to settling on a set of rules. I originally purchased For God, King and Country by the Canadian Wargames Group and whilst these are fun they didn't quite do it for me. I've not got a copy of To The Banners which I am hoping may be the answer.

25mm French Revolution
I picked up some of the Foundry figures as a result of Lenin reducing his lead mountain. I am planning to do this at a skirmish level using the Gloire rules. I even have some suitable buildings which I picked up from eBay (although luckily with Gloire you only need to fill 2' x 2'!).

28mm Dahomey
Another project started from Lenin's desire to reduce the load on his joists! I have always been fascinated by the French Foreign Legion and so this seemed a perfect opportunity to do something a little different with them. I have now ordered the balance of the figures I will need from Dixon and have plumped for Two Hour Wargames' Colonial Adventures rules to start.

28mm WW1 Eastern Front / Russian Civil War
I have lumped these two together because the common factor is Musketeer Miniatures' lovely WW1 Russian figures. I picked some up at last year's Cavalier show but I am waiting until they release the figures with greatcoats to move on as I also have some of the ex-HLBS Archangel intervention figures and with the addition of some Copplestone figures I could cover quite a lot.

28mm WW2 Eastern Front
Given that I have a winter gaming mat and suitable German troops (both bought largely for the Bulge!) I have always been keen to expand this out to include Eastern Front. I managed to pick up a Corgi T34 from eBay and I have a few figures painted but for a decent game I knew I would need more so I took advantage of The Wargames Command Post's recent sale and bought some more Bolt Action figures. Our "go to" set of WW2 rules, Nuts!, will be the obvious choice here.

I suspect if I have a look around my games room I may stumble on some more but I think that's enough to be going on with!

Stage 2 Projects

So following on from my Project Categorisation post, I thought I would try and list out the projects which have reached (or are stuck at) Stage 2 (I thought about Stage 1 but I suspect life's too short!) in roughly chronological order:

15mm/28mm War of Spanish Succession
So far all I have done is purchase a copy of the Beneath the Lily Banners rules which look interesting. They certainly have plenty of eye candy but I suspect that to get the most from this period I would need to go with 15mm rather than 28mm as it will (a) need less table space, (b) be considerably easier to store and (c) be more portable. But some of the 28mm figures are just sooo nice....

28mm American War of Independence
This is a period I have been interested in ever since school but haven't actually dived in to. With the material now coming available for converting Sharp Practice to AWI I am seriously thinking about "investing". So far I have only picked up the relevant supplement from the Lardies and some research books but I can hear those Perry figures calling me....

15mm Napoleonics
This is a period I have been thinking about for some considerable time but keep rethinking every time I work out how many figures I need for any decent battle! Hence my moving to 28mm skirmishes and lately Sharp Practice. But I have at least two rulesets which I would happily use - Shako and Le Feu Sacre - so I suspect I will eventually succumb!

I am sure there are lots more but I'm trying to slow down a bit at Stage 2 to avoid a pile up in Stage 3 projects as you'll see shortly!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Tudor English

Here are a couple of photos of the English foot who will be going beyond the Pale at the weekend:
The figures are Vendel with a few Graven Images pikemen thrown in.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Wargames Weekend - Replanning

As a result of snagging a copy of the Wargames Foundry Armies of the Sixteenth Century: The Armies of England, Scotland, Ireland, the United Provinces and the Spanish Netherlands 1487-1609, my Tudor Ireland project has been given new inspiration.

So I've got my Vendel and Graven Images figures back out onto the workbench and decided to drop my proposed 15mm WW2 Spearhead game in favour of a 28mm game using a suitably modified version of Two Hour Wargames' Colonial Adventures rules. This may seem a little bit of an odd choice but the "scale" of rules seems right and I want to model the typical English column being harassed by more irregular Irish troops. I think that, with appropriate amendments to deal with arquebus and formed pike, the core mechanics should work pretty well. In any case we'll find out in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime I may get a chance to take and post some pictures of the figures as I finish them.