Sunday, 28 April 2013

Jason and the Bracers of the Titans

With Lenin having taken the plunge and picked up a copy of the new Crooked Dice 7th Voyage rules (plus haveing brought me some rather nicely painted hoplites to add to my collection), we were both rather keen to try them out.

The rules are clearly closely related to 7TV, which we have played before, and have a deliberately cinematic feel.

The scenario was built from the rules and geared around the figures and terrain we had available. So we ended up with Lenin taking the part of Jason and his companions.

The Argonauts were looking to steal the Bracers of the Titans from me, the evil Aeëtes, King of Colchis.

Whilst Jason has his crew and some Amazons he'd picked up on the way, I started with only a couple of mercenaries and the multi-headed Dragon of Colchis to guard the Bracers (which were at the centre of the ruined temple).

Jason and his band advanced slowly, obviously awed by the ferocious dragon whilst my mercenaries tried to get around their flank.  A few of the crew of the Argo broke away from the others to tackle my men.

But I had a surprise in store.  I began chanting and summoned of the children of the dragon's teeth.

The Amazons began to shower the dragon with arrows and the Argonauts put paid to one of my men but, as the dragon and my skeletons advanced, their fearsome appearance turned their blood cold and they found they could not approach them.

Eventually Jason and one of the other Argonauts managed to overcome their fear and attacked the dragon.  But the Argonaut fell to the dragon's maw and Jason had to withdraw.

With my skeletons ganging up on and putting paid to the Argonauts and the attack on the dragon failing to make headway, the Argonauts retired to fight another day.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

First Look: Dead Man's Hand

One of my purchases at Salute was a copy of the new Wild West rules from Great Escape Games, Dead Man's Hand.  The rule book is 44 pages long in a softback, staple bound, full colour format.  It comes with a set of small cards in a plastic box.

Other than the contents page, the rules are laid out in a single column format with large section and sub-section headings and are interspersed with photographs of miniatures and comment bubbles from various line drawn characters.  The inner side of the front and back covers are a quick reference sheet with one in metric and the other imperial measurements.

The game appears to be intended as a cinematic take on the West and provides for 4 separate factions - Lawmen, Cowboys, Outlaws and Desperados.  Each faction is intended to be represented by a gang whose stats are similar but not identical and who have slightly different abilities.

The game uses the pack of cards both for initiative (using their number) and also as special events/actions (using the text printed on the card).  The card suits are allocated one to each gang.

Each player is dealt a hand of cards from their suit and then uses the remaining cards in the draw deck for initiative purposes.  You have some control as the first card is dealt face up but the remainder are face down; however, there are some switching and abilities which may affect the final allocation.

Each figure has three actions per turn including moving, aiming, shooting, reloading and recovering (removing the effect of markers).  Shooting is based on a d20 mechanism using ranges with some simple modifiers, whilst melee combat is based on a d10.  Target figures have some limited opportunities to interrupt an active figure and there are some morale rules when your gang reaches certain casualty levels.

Games are intended to be played as a series of linked "scenes"; however these can be played separately.    A selection of scenes is provided within the rules and these can be played in various combinations as they differ in size and duration.

The rules are rounded out with a page of markers which you can copy and cut out or a set of lazer cut MDF markers are also available:

The rules and cards are £20 and the markers will set you back another £8 (although you could cut out your own).  Great Escape have also commissioned a set of pre-painted laser cut MDF buildings from 4Ground (one of which I also picked up at Salute).  I am looking forward to getting these rules to the table and it has certainly reignited my interested in Western games.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Shoot-out in Bleid

So after our visit to Salute Lenin and I sat down to play a few games. First up was the next in the ongoing Rommel's Route to Verdun campaign, the assault on the village of Bleid.

22 August 1914, 0930 hours - the village of Bleid, about 50km northeast of Verdun

Several companies from the French 101st Infantry Regiment were holding Bleid and the areas north and south of the village.  Rommel brought his platoon up and prepared for an assault.  The focus of the early fighting was a church near the centre of the village.  The German assault teams set several buildings on fire to flush out defenders and also to create smoke to cover their advance.  The morning fog had still not totally lifted adding to the problems confronting the French defenders.

As previously Lenin took the role of Rommel and command of the German force assaulting the village (in fact the presence of Rommel is only an option for this scenario but Lenin decided he wanted the main man there).  I took command of the French defending the village.

The Germans split their forces with Rommel leading one party through the woods and up the left flank. With the remainder moving up to the first house on the right.  The fog was a real boon to them as it limited visibility.

With the first house secured the right flank group advanced on the next house up the road where they encountered their first resistance.  Although the resistance was rather limited as three of the four French soldiers in the house decided to take to their heels and join their compatriots in the adjacent property!  The remaining man fought bravely for France but was overwhelmed quickly.

Meanwhile, on the other flank, Rommel advanced from the woods and came under fire from the nearest house.  His group laid down a barrage of rifle fire and then rushed forward and stormed the house.  The defenders were quickly despatched and the house secured.

The group on the right flank decided to move on to the next house.  Not only did they come under fire from the house itself but they were caught in a crossfire from the house across the street and took several casualties.  This setback stalled the advance on the right.  Rommel pushed his men forward to assault the next house on the left and then moved quickly over to the right flank to restart the advance there.  He decided the best way forward was to literally smoke the defenders out.  He and two of the assault section rushed forward and set fire to the house.  They came under fire but were able to complete their task and fall back.  The fire quickly took hold and the French were forced to fall back once again.  As the first spread it also obscured the house across the street and allowed the German advance to continue unhindered.

With the final house on the left flank having been secured after brief but bloody hand to hand fighting, the Germans regrouped and moved out of the house across the road to take up a position on the last house in the centre.  However, the French occupying the house weren't about to give it up easily and a hail of rifle fire rained down on the advancing Germans, who hunkered down behind the garden wall.

But it wasn't enough as Rommel advanced using the smoke from the burning house as cover and stormed the final property.  Once again the French defenders were defeated and Bleid was taken.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Salute 2013 Swag

With Salute 2013 now behind me and the aches and pains reminding me that I'm getting older, I thought I'd do a quick overview of my experience at the show and the loot I brought back from it.

With no engineering works on the DLR this year, Lenin and I got to the show at a reasonable time and joined the advance ticket queue.  As we waited the queue got longer and longer and started looping back on itself - so it was clear there were plenty of people there.  We have the obligatory walk past of the Star Wars cosplayers and people pressing leaflets into our hands but we didn't start to move into the show until 10am (although still in advance of the pay on the day folks).

Once in I went around and picked up all the things from my list which I thought there might be a danger of the traders running out of and then we took a more leisurely walk around the show.  It felt pretty busy and there seemed to be quite a bit of interest at most of the trader's stands.  There were quite a few things which, whilst I wasn't sure I'd be buying, I wanted to have a look at.  First up was the new Whitechapel to Baker Street range from 4Ground:
Whilst the larger buildings are, as I expected, quite a bit more expensive than their normal ranges, the buildings do look rather nice and I may well be "investing" in some of these later in the year.  I did, of course, pick up a couple more 15mm buildings to add to my collection and one for my new Muskets & Tomahawks project.

I moseyed on over to the Great Escape Games' stand to take a look at their new Wild West rules release, Dead Man's Hand.  Which was interesting enough for me to pick up a copy (expect a first look post on that shortly) - I also picked up on of their new MDF building range which they are having 4Ground produce to accompany the game.  They had some full assembled ones near their demo game and they looked rather nice but I wanted to see how they'd scale with my existing buildings.

At lunchtime I joined up with a whole bevy of bloggers at the Rejects' meet up and got to put faces to names for some of the wargaming bloggerati. Here's a photo of some of the crew (courtesy of Big Lee - who always has a superlative range of photos for the shows as well as a really interesting blog) see if you can spot me lurking towards the back:

Image by Lee Hadley at BigLee's Miniature Adventures

As usual I managed to catch up with a whole legion of old friends and have a decent natter.

So what did I buy in the end - well here a look:

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Final Combat: Ardennes

The next scenario book from Britton Publishers I want to look at is Final Combat: Ardennes.  Published in 2008, the book contains 12 scenarios based around the German Ardennes Offensive in 1944.

The booklet is similar in size to Chef-du-Pont, coming in at 70 pages.  After a page and a half introduction there is a single page of publisher's notes and then a rules translation table followed by the scenarios.

Each scenario starts with the historical situation, campaign options (if the scenario is being played as part of a campaign), a description of the mission, orders of battle for each side (followed by any reinforcements), the set up, any special conditions e.g. movement restrictions, artillery/minefields (if any) followed by a brief summary of the historical aftermath and a map (colour drawings of the table layout).  About a third of the scenarios are around a reinforced platoon of infantry or less but the balance require some significant numbers of AFVs and so might well be a challenge in 28mm (unless you have an extensive collection or money is no object!).  It would appear, from some of the maps, that a couple of the scenarios are actually intended to be played at a smaller figure scale.

As you might expect the terrain is expected to be snow covered and around a third of the scenarios require quite a few buildings but otherwise are pretty straightforward with roads, trees and the like; however, one scenario does require a train.

As I'm interested in this particular aspect of the war I found the booklet interesting but have yet to actually play any of the scenarios as I don't have quite the right mix of kit as yet.  The pdf comes in a little over £7.60.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Coulogne Redux

You may have been wondering why my blog posting had dried up recently (or , more probably, have more important things to wonder about).  Anyway I have been spending all my spare time painting.  Unfortunately it has been 1:1 scale - our hall, stairs and landing.  This has rather cut into my hobby time but I did get the chance to pull together an I Ain't Been Shot Mum game for the club yesterday - largely as a couple of the other chaps had expressed an interest.

To make things easier I decided to use a scenario I have run before - the Coulogne one from the Defence of Calais scenario book (with appropriate changes to reflect the kit I actually have available).  However, whilst I remembered all the necessary figures and terrain, I managed to forget my proper camera - so please forgive the rather poor pictures from my BlackBerry.

The scenario played out somewhat differently from last time - possibly not least as it was 2 players on an 8 x 6' table last time and 7 players on a 6 x 4' table this time (there was rather more interest than I had originally anticipated).  The Germans arrived on blinds, as usual, but this time the blind on other far side of the canal actually contained a platoon.

The initial German assault on Le Colombier took a bit of a pasting from the British troops in the village but the German Panzer IIs outflanked them and the British was caught in a rather painful crossfire.  With the Germans running around their left flank the remaining Brits, with the 2 pounder anti-tank gun decided to pull back, but were spotted and were almost wiped out.

The British unit on the hill south of Orphanage Farm initially did well.  It revealed the German platoon across the canal and caused some casualties; however, the Germans repeated had lucky return fire and soon the British numbers were dwindling.  The Germans tried to bring down their artillery on the hill but the initial ranging shots were uncomfortably close to their own infantry and the Forward Observer chose not to fire for effect!  With their casualties increasing the British decided to withdraw from the hill and try to take a position with their Boys anti-tank rifle flanking the German armour.  Unfortunately their initial shot only temporarily immobilised one of the Panzer IIIs and revealed their position whereupon they came under some devastating machine gun fire.

Meanwhile the German light armour's advance had stalled in Le Colombier and their infantry was forging ahead without them.  The units who had flanked the village were moving through the fields north of Orphanage Farm when the remainder of the British Searchlight HQ unit opened fire on them.  The fire caused a couple of casualties but brought down a hail of return fire, including some HE from the Panzer IIIs.  With their flank secured the Germans continued to advance and ran straight into an unspotted British section who decimated the lead German squad.  Unfortunately the Germans regrouped and poured fire into the Brits, who were forced to withdraw.

The German platoon over the canal had stalled but finally began to advance and their lead unit located the final British platoon, who were positioned to guard the bridge the Germans were trying to cross.  The Germans rushed in to assault the first British unit but were thrown back and rest of their platoon began a firefight from across the canal.

With time growing short we had to end the scenario early; however it was quite clear that the British weren't in a position to hold the main German advance for much longer and so I declared the game a German victory despite a valiant attempt by the British.