Monday 30 September 2013

First Play: Dead Man's Hand

For our first game of Dead Man's Hand we decided to try one of the scenarios from the rule book - in this case The Good, The Lead And The Ugly.  Lenin was The Law and I took Outlaws.

For the opening scene The Stranger, we set up a town called Malice using my mixed collection of 4Ground and other buildings.  Lenin played the part of the newly arrived Marshal (the Stranger of the title) and I had three dudes from my gang who had just rolled out of the saloon after a hard afternoon's drinking.

The stage was set for a showdown...

Three members of the Weller gang stumble out of the Saloon and run into the new Marshal.  He tells them to go about their business but they're spoiling for a fight.  Guns are being waved around and so the Marshal draws, he wings one of the gang but the others gun him down and he crawls, bleeding to the Sheriff's office.

So we moved onto the second scene - This Town Ain't Big Enough.

With the Marshal out of the picture the Weller gang decided to stamp their authority on Malice but underestimated the anger of the townsfolk.  With gang members swaggering around town in little groups the Sheriff and some upright citizens decided to put the Weller gang in their place.

Small fights broke out all over the town.  Brave townsfolk we cut down but some gave a s good as they got and the notorious Wild Bill and his sidekick Catastrophe Jean were cornered, hit and had to run with their tails between their legs.

And so onto the final scene - We Will Be Waitin'...

Wanting a final showdown the Wellers walked up the main street of Malice towards the Sheriff's office.  The Sheriff and the Marshal, who had recovered from his wounds, moseyed on out to meet them.

Hot words were exchanged followed by hot lead!  The Sheriff and the Marshal had to take cover behind some barrels as the Weller's numbers started to tell.

But a Deputy had snuck up behind the gang and opened fire.  One of the gang fell but another turned and engaged the Deputy.  Men fell until only four remained, the two lawmen and two of the gang, including their Boss.  The gunfight raged on but it was the gang who managed to concentrate their fire and the lawmen fell.  But given the casualties to the gang it was something of a pyrrhic victory...

The game was a lot of fun to play and moved along at a good pace.  The cards provided some interesting decisions and game effects but d20 based system meant that despite the modifiers luck was the major factor in the combat.  As a result I think playing a campaign would require some serious thinking or people might not see it as worthwhile investing too much time into individual characters.

Thursday 26 September 2013

First Play: A Few Acres of Snow

A Few Acres of Snow is board/card game covering the French and Indian wars designed by Martin Wallace - a man whose name will be familiar to anyone who is interested in boardgames.

At its heart A Few Acres of Snow is a deck building game - which is a genre I haven't particularly been interested in - with the board being used to show links between locations and who controls them.

The game cleverly uses the deck to simulate the logistical problems of fighting in wilds of North America and Canada (as they became) at the end of a long supply chain which stretched back across the Atlantic.  If you want to settle or attack somewhere you need to plan it carefully in advance!

Lenin and I had a first game of A Few Acres of Snow in between miniatures games with Lenin playing the British and me the French.  It took a little while to really start to see which cards to select and how best to put them together to best advantage.

The game went back and forth with both of us settling new locations but Lenin concentrating more on developing his locations and me on raiding.  It wasn't clear who had actually won until the end of the game and I think both of us would like to play it again now we have an idea how best to put our plans together.

If you would like to know more about the game here's a video review by Marco Arnaudo:

Wednesday 25 September 2013

First Play: Chain of Command

Given that both Lenin and I have decent sized collections of 28mm World War 2 figures it was only a question as to which of us would put on the first Chain of Command game.  In the end it was Lenin with his Panzer grenadiers and US infantry in a scenario set in Italy.

As normal I played the Germans and we selected our platoons and support.  Selecting support was tricky given that neither of us had played before but I can see it presenting some interesting challenges once we really understand how best to use the various options available.

We set up the terrain and decided on the standard patrol scenario from the rulebook.  Then we began the first novelty of the rules - the patrol phase.  This certainly made both of us think and I can see that with more games under our belt it will be a very interesting part of the game.  We had both diced for the initial starting points for our patrol markers and I ended up in the centre (which proved somewhat fortuitous for me) with Lenin over on his right flank. With the farm complex having been set out in the centre of the table this meant I could move my markers into it more quickly and easily than Lenin which with my preponderance of MG teams would prove to be a significant game influence.

Having completed the patrol phase (rather quicker than I had wanted - leaving one of my markers further back than I was hoping) we placed our jump off markers (I hadn't had a chance to paint the resin ones I got with the rules - although I wouldn't have had enough as we needed 3 each) so I used some oil drums I had handy.

We both ended up deploying our forces relatively early on in the game and I suspect this might not be the best approach in quite a few circumstances.  It suited me as I could get two of my MG teams into defensive positions in the farm house and my other sections ready to move up to take positions in the farm yard.  As it was the windows in the farmhouse didn't give me the coverage I would have liked and Lenin managed to deploy his men in my blind spots.  He then began to advance on my position.

I began to move my men up but we ended up exposing one team to one of the US squads and they didn't enjoy the experience!  Lenin moved up into what he though would be a good position but exposed himself to my MGs and came under a hail of fire.

Lenin tried to advance another two squads under cover of some mortar fire (he was desperately trying to justify having smoke but apparently the Americans didn't issue those rounds at this time).

Meanwhile I moved one of my sections around the farmyard in order to flank his retreating first squad.

Whilst Lenin managed to do some serious damage to one of my MG teams which was trying to redeploy, I managed to catch two of his sections in crossfire and as a result won the game.

We both enjoyed playing the rules and they are certainly worth trying again although I think we both need to learn from this experience and also do a bit more reading just to make sure we're getting everything right!

Saturday 21 September 2013

First Look: Ronin

Ronin is the latest offering in the new Osprey wargame rules line - this time skirmish in the Age of the Samurai.

I wasn't sure whether to pick up a copy of these rules as I had been somewhat disappointed with A World Aflame - the previous one in the series I had bought.  But having read some interesting descriptions of the combat system on line I thought I would take the plunge.

The rules are produced in the standard Osprey Men-at-Arms etc. format softback with 64 pages in a single column format.  I'm still not a fan of this format as I think it doesn't suit rules but I suspect it allows them to produce them more easily and less expensively than creating a new layout.

After a brief introduction the background is covered in a couple of pages before moving into the rules themselves.  These take up around 14 pages with a further four pages of special rules and are then followed by the faction lists.  There are 7 scenarios, a campaign outline, a short tournament section, a couple of advanced rules and an appendix with information about translating the rules to other periods (Kamakura and Late Edo); some further suggested reading, a couple of counter and reference sheets along with a roster sheet.

 The game itself is broken into turns each of which has 5 phases covering priority (initiative and morale), movement, combat, actions (including missile fire) and an end phase for housekeeping.  The rules themselves are fairly basic but an interesting action pool system has been included within the combat system which looks like it should lift this to a might higher level of interest (if you would like to see a run through I would recommend reading the outline in the post of the Lead Adventure Forum here).

Essentially these are another of the gang level rules that seem to be popping up at the moment but the period and the interesting action pool mechanism were enough to pique my interest and the figures which Northstar are producing to accompany the rules are rather nice too...

Friday 20 September 2013

Flying Lead through the Stargate

Lenin decided to give his Stargate figures an outing and put together a game using the Ganesha Games' Flying Lead rules.

I took the part of SGC team and Lenin played the Goa'uld System Lord and his Jaffa bodyguards.

My team arrived through the Stargate to find the Jaffa on the far side of some ruins attempting to reach a ring transporter with the "device" they had discovered and escape from the planet.  Our job was to stop them!

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of the Songs of Blades and Heroes activation system which is part of the engine for the Flying Lead rules but despite that the game trundled along at a reasonable pace.

The SGC team arrive

The Jaffa advance to counter the threat

The Jaffa secure the ring transporter

The SGC team's fire takes its toll and the Jaffa fall back

In the end I managed to take out most of the bodyguards and the System Lord at which point the morale of the remaining Jaffa broke and they fled allowing me to recover the "device".

Thursday 19 September 2013

The Battle of Tipperishmuir

Lenin paid another visit and we played a series of games.  The first was a chance to get my 28mm Montrose figures to the table.  I don't quite have the right mix for the Battle of Tippermuir in 1644, so our engagement became the Battle of Tipperishmuir inspired by the actual engagement.

I was in two minds as to which rules to use for the game but ended up plumping for Pike & Shotte as I wanted to give them another try and they had most of the stats I needed for the game already worked out!

Having offered Lenin the choice of sides he decided to take the Covenanters and left me with the the Royalists and a real challenge - not just the historic lack of cavalry and ammunition but also the benchmark of the historic result!

Deployment was broadly consistent with history (despite the overall reduction in forces) with the Royalists behind the burn and the Covenanters on the ridge.  The Royalists had Kilpont's archers on the left, the Irish under McColla in the centre and the Highlanders under Montrose on the right.

Initial deployment
With the Covenanter commanders rated much poorer than Montrose, Lenin had a few issues with getting his troops to move.  He rather regretted deploying them in line an not column on the road which might have made all the difference!

I advanced the Highlanders and the Irish to threaten the Covenanter left flank.

The Highlanders advance
The Covenanters stood firm (despite Lenin wanting them to advance!) and fired their artillery.

The Covenanters stand firm

With the Covenanter horse threatening to charge the highlanders decided to pre-empt that and the real fighting began.

Battle is joined!
With the fighting on the Covenanter left in full swing and the Royalist Irish advancing in the centre, Lenin decided to advance one of the Covenanter levy units on his right flank down from the ridge to try to either outflank the Royalists or secure the town.

Coventanter flank march
The Irish formed up in the centre under increasing artillery and musket fire but held their single volley.

The Irish stand under fire
But the highlanders had cut through the Covenanter cavalry and charged on across the ridge finally engaging the Covenanter musketeers and throwing them back too.  A final push broke the Covenanter army morale and the day went to Montrose!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Napoleonic in 20mm

I managed to get along to the last club meeting and was given a command in a 20mm Napoleonics game using Bob's homebrew rules.  Here are a few photos of the game:

Technically the game ended as a draw but it was very close to a French marginal victory.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Covenanter Artillery 2

And another artillery piece for my Scots (once again on a 4Ground scenic base):

Monday 16 September 2013

First Look: Chain of Command

Just in case you've been hiding in a cave somewhere you may not have been aware of the release of the latest set of rules from the TooFatLardies - Chain of Command - which are designed for Platoon level games using a 1:1 man to figure ratio.

Given that I have enjoyed playing most of the Lardies' previous offerings and having had my appetite whetted by their YouTube videos, I decided to take the plunge and pre-ordered the rules.

I went for the bundle which included a hard copy, the tablet enabled PDF version, the branded dice, markers and the resin jump off points.

It may seem a little strange to have both the hard and soft copies but I have to admit that having a real book to read through and consult is still something I like - even this far into the 21st Century; however, the PDF does have the advantage of being searchable and so is more useful for checking on things during a game.

The hard copy is produced in a very similar style to I Ain't Been Shot Mum III, their company level rules, in that they're an A4 paperback.  They are 104 pages in a two column format broken up with pictures, diagrams, tables and examples:

The core of the gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played the recent offerings from the Lardies with command activations, variable movement distances and shock; however, they have two new features which make these rules quite distinct.

The first is the patrol phase - this happens before the main game with both players moving patrol markers in order to determine the limits of the scouting that both forces have carried out before the engagement.  Once completed this will establish the non man's land between the two forces and their available jump off points.  The jump off points represent the locations which the units can reach safely without being observed or engaged by the enemy and provides a really interesting advance from the standard Lardies blinds system.  The new approach allows for flexible deployment, ambushes and the ability for the enemy to secure on of your points and really limit your options.

The second new feature is the dice activation system and associated Chain of Command dice.  Rather than using a card activation system (which has long been one of their trade mark mechanisms) Chain of Command has each player roll a number of dice determined by their force and affected by in game results.  These dice then determine whether teams, sections or leaders may be activated or whether the Chain of Command dice should be increased or whether the turn will end.  Turns are divided into a variable number of phases with initiative alternating (unless determined otherwise by the activation dice roll) and only ending on specific rolls of the activation dice.  This approach makes each phase and turn somewhat unpredictable giving you some real challenges and decisions to make.  When a leader is activated they can use their command activations to activate individual teams or sections, or to remove shock etc.  The Chain of Command dice build up until they reach a level which allows you to use them for certain bonus activities - like deploying some troops in an ambush or ending the turn - providing additional options.  All in all they sounds very interesting and I'm looking forward to getting them to the table shortly.

The rules also cover all the other stuff you would expect (support weapons, vehicles etc.) and include six generic scenarios and army lists for Germany, Great Britain, the US and the Soviets.

The accessories I picked up included four nicely cast resin jump off point markers (each different), acrylic pinned (12), tactical (6) and overwatch (6) markers, and four large d6 with Chain of Command printed on one side (in place of the six).

Sunday 15 September 2013

Covenanter Artillery 1

After a little bit of a break I made some progress with the artillery to support my Scots forces.  I decided to experiment with the scenic bases from 4Ground which allow the artillery piece and crew to be displayed together (as seen below) or separately on their individual bases (which also allows for casualty removal in both cases.

I don't think these bases will work for the even lighter artillery (frame guns) which I have still to do though.