Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wargames Week: War Against Japan

Our next game was another outing for Nuts!  - this time in the pacific using the War Against Japan supplement.  This time out we decided to take a US squad each and have the game run the Japanese.

The terrain was set up using the random generation tables in the supplement and our objective was simply to land on the beach and then clear it of the enemy.  We thought this might not be a simple as it sounds, particularly as the village just behind the beach counted as a potential contact!

Fortunately our landing went without a hitch.  My squad hit the beach and immediately advanced to clear the village.  It was all going well until one of my men tripped a booby trap in the doorway to one of the huts and blew himself up!
Lenin's squad was having a little more luck advancing through the jungle toward a gully; however, this was all about to change as when they spotted a couple of potential contacts they turned out to be almost a platoon of Japs between them!  Lenin came under some heavy fire and so fell back into the jungle.
Having cleared the village I advanced on his flank and engaged one of the enemy squads to allow Lenin's squad to try an outflanking manoeuvre.  The firefight was favouring the japanese as they had a better LMG than my BARs so I pulled back to regroup.

I pushed one team forward to try to outflank the japanese and then launched a co-ordinated assault with grenades.  This effectively eliminated the japs and allowed me to advance on their position.  This is when it gets a little tricky as they have a habit of just playing dead or trying to take you with them when they go!  One of them took a shot at my men but fortunately wasn't successful.

Lenin tried a similar approach on the unit facing him and had similar initial success but when he advanced to investigate the japanese position he found one of them holding a grenade and lost most of his team.

Regrouping once again I decided to continue the advance.  Almost immediately we spotted a potential enemy force which, unfortunately, turned out to be a tank!
The tank spotted us and opened fire and a rather vicious engagement began.  My bazooka team were utterly useless and despite surviving the HE fire from the tank managed to miss it no less than three times!  Clearly frustrated by this ineptitude one of the NCOs decided to have a go himself and charged the tank armed only with grenades and a bad attitude.  It looked like a risky strategy but incredibly he managed to blow the tank up.

In the interim Lenin's men had come under fire from a sniper in a spider hole behind them and once dealt with we both had taken so many casualties that continuing with the mission was simply not an option and so we withdrew to the landing craft.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

First Play: Saga

Our second game of the week was our first chance to try out the new Dark Ages rules from Gripping Beast, Saga.  We decided on the first scenario and Lenin took command of the Welsh with me taking the Vikings.

The rules suggest starting with a 4 point force rather than the typical 6, so that's what we did.  We took slightly differing approaches to the construction of our warbands with Lenin deciding to include some levy, something I decided to avoid.
It took a little while to learn the different abilities on each of the faction battle boards and I am sure it will take a few games to really master any one faction.  But we managed to get into the game fairly quickly nonetheless.

The Welsh decided to take the hill in the centre straight away and I, somewhat unwisely, decided to rush in a push them off it.  The fatigue I gained from the multiple actions really gave the Welsh the edge in the fight and my Vikings were thrown back with some serious casualties.

I decided to regroup and attack again.
This time the combination of a couple of abilities and some lucky dice rolling carried the day.

The melding of modern boardgame mechanisms and traditional wargame rules might seem a little odd at first but we found it provided a fun game with the right feel for the period.  As a result I can see these rules coming out again!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Wargames Week: Sicily 1943

Our first tabletop miniatures game was an opportunity for me to get my new Artizan US figures to the table.  This was a fictional scenario set against the historical background of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 using the Two Hour Wargames' Nuts! rules.  Lenin took command of the two squads of American troops and their supporting Sherman whose objective was to clear the village of San Carlos.
Defending the village were five PEFs (Potential Enemy Forces) which would be determined when the GIs came into line of sight of them.  The first couple turned out to be false alarms, from the Americans being a little jumpy, and so the Allies made their way into the outskirts of the village.  Then the Sherman trundled down the road and it turned out that the Germans had, perhaps rather too stereotypically, posted an MG34 crew in the church tower.
The MG team promptly opened up on the Sherman and the tank commander slumped out of the turret.  The tank's driver was clearly spooked and promptly threw the tank behind a nearby house to get out of the line of fire.  Meanwhile one of the accompanying US squads had discovered that one of the village houses wasn't as unoccupied as it first appeared when they came under a hail of automatic weapons fire.  However, their Sergeant's quick reactions resulted in his Thompson and the squad BAR returning fire, killing a couple of the German section and forcing them to keep their heads down.
A fire firefight ensued with the US squad eventually victorious which allowed them to advance.

With the Sherman crew having had a chance to recover their senses they once again began their advance down the main street.  The MG34 once again opened fire but with the tank buttoned up this time it had little effect.  An HE shell from the tank's main gun promptly ended the danger from the MG position.

Another US squad had discovered some more Germans occupying another dwelling and a short fire fight ensued resulting in most of the Germans being killed and the two survivors cowering behind the stonework.

With everything looking good for the Americans they heard a rather loud and disturbing noise approaching.  This turned out to be a Tiger!
The Sherman, loaded with HE, opened fire on the Tiger but to little effect (the German tank commander having seen the remnants of the church tower and deciding that a cautious approach might be appropriate).  The Tiger returned fire, promptly brewing up the Sherman.

Under cover of this fire the two German survivors decided to withdraw but, unfortunately, one was spotted and brought down by some US fire.  One GI decided to see what had engaged the Sherman but ducked back as soon as he spotted the Tiger and just as they opened up with their MG!

The lone German sprinted through a hail of American bullets and reached the tank, which then decided to withdraw.

Week of Gaming

After the house move and a fairly stressful time at work I decided I needed a week off.  After discussing it with Lenin, who had been having a worse time at work, we decided to use the week as our next meet up.

We scheduled things to allow us to go to the SELWG show at Crystal Palace as well as having a relaxed week with plenty of gaming both tabletop and board and card games.

SELWG was worth a visit as I managed to pick up the next batch of Perry Sudan figures to finish phase 1 of that project.  It was good meeting up with a few people but overall the show was a little disappointing.  The range of traders seemed a little reduced and the revised layout didn't quite work for me (although that could just be me getting old and not liking change!).  I had seen quite a few of the games before; however, a couple were worth seeing again and there were some nice ideas on show.  Unfortunately due to a bit of a senior moment I forgot to take my camera and so haven't got any photos to post.

Over the rest of the week we played a mix of games.  I'll be writing separate posts around the individual miniatures games but we also managed to give some of our new board and card game purchases a go.

World at War: Blood and Bridges is one of Lenin's latest acquisitions.  It's a hex and counter game from Lock 'n' Load covering a Soviet invasion of West Germany.  The system is pretty easy to grasp and the scenario was fun to play.  We tried out the first scenario with me as the Soviets and Lenin taking the West Germans with our forces rather mixed up which mad things very interesting!

We have found it difficult to find a set of miniature rules which we both like for this period and so Lenin is seriously thinking of converting this to use his 3mm and/or 6mm micro armour.

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon is the second in a series of D&D boardgames which Wizards of the Coast are releasing.  I thought this might allow me to recapture a little of the feel of the D&D games I used to play all that time ago.  Unlike some of the other games of this genre this one is fully co-operative with the game running the dungeon rather than needing a separate DM.  The dungeon itself is built using interlocking tiles and the characters and monsters are represented by some nice plastic miniatures.  Our first adventure proved to be a disaster, probably because we chose to split up!  But it was an enjoyable experience overall.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a super hero card game from newcomers Greater than Games.  They have created 10 hero characters, 4 villains and 4 locations which can all be mixed to create quite a variety of different games.  You can see some of the inspiration for the heros and villains but they are a lot more than slavish copies of well known comic book characters.  The artwork is great and combined with the rule booklet and flavour text creates just the right atmosphere.  The game system is simple enough for my daughter to play with some appropriate advice on card choices but is really challenging.  With each hero and villain having their own separate deck and playing quite differently, this is a game which needs quite a few plays in order to learn how best to work them.  Unfortunately there isn't any balancing mechanism for 2 player games and so these are extremely challenging and the correct selection of character combinations is crucial in any game.  We played both 2 and 3 player games and had a lot of fun - so I can see this one getting a few more outings!

Imperial is another in the rondel series from designer Mac Gerdts (I also have Antike).  In this game you play the financiers behind the major european powers at the start of the 20th Century.  The player with the largest investment in a particular country gets to determine its actions.  Despite using the rondel mechanism like Antike, this game has a very different feel (as I had hoped it would).  We only played a two player game, and thought it would be a quite different experience with more players, but had plenty of fun with it.

We also managed to get in a game of Marvel Heroscape and quite a few two player card games too finishing off the week with a visit to Dover castle.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

First Look: Saga

I happened by Orcs Nest the other day and noticed that they had Saga the new Gripping Beast / Studio Tomahawk Dark Ages rules in stock.  I was wondering whether to pick up a copy, and hesitating at the £25 price tag, but having heard good things about them I decided to take the plunge.

The rules are softback, in full colour and run to 75 pages.  You also get four battle boards, one for each of the four factions within the rules - Vikings, Normans, Anglo-Danes and Welsh - which are single sided colour card.  There are special sets of dice you can also buy for each of the factions which look nice but at £12 a set could make the total package a little pricey; however, you don't need the special dice to play the rules as they do provide a translation table for standard d6.

After a brief introduction there is an overview of the basics and then the rules are covered in sections.  This is followed by a complete turn example which takes you to about 35 pages in total.  The remainder of the book covers mustering your warband, an overview of each of the factions and abilities.  Then there are 6 generic scenarios plus a section on how to play with four players as opposed to the usual two, often overlooked rules and sections for you to photocopy with the measuring sticks, fatigue markers and the QRS.

The rules are clear, explained well and accompanied by diagrams and summaries.  There are a sprinkling of photos of some nicely painted miniatures and I only spotted a couple of typos and the inclusion of some designer's notes is always a nice touch.

Saga is clearly aimed more at the game rather than simulation end of the spectrum.  The dice and battle boards provide what feels like a modern boardgame approach with combinations of dice allowing you to take various actions or gain certain advantages in the turn.  Movement has been simplified with everything being referred to in Very Short, Short, Medium and Long terminology which allows easy conversion to different scales/table sizes if needs be.

Troops are of four types (although each faction refers to these by different thematic names) - the warlord, the hearthguards, the warriors and the levies or peasants.  Obviously the warlord is your leader and the others represent the different levels of capability of the fighting men combined with their experience.

My first impression of these is they look like they should give a good, thematic game.  I am hoping to try them on the table next week and will report back.