Saturday, September 27, 2008

At Nick's 26/09/08

Jim & Nick's Royalists v. Craig, Leigh & Cameron's Parliamentarians - Carl umpiring.

Parliament sat back and did nothing, as Parliamentarians do, & the Royalists attacked.

The DBR rules have you throwing a dice for each of your 3 generals then using the pips to move or rally troops. Jim threw lots of 6's & Nick threw straight 1's so the Royalist right got into action long before the left even got close.

The Cavaliers on the right slugged it out with the Roundhead horse while the Cavaliers next to them took out a pike & shot unit. Next to them, pike & shot of both sides met, but the Royalists had lost some critical casualties to artillery fire in the aproach & lost. This caused an army morale failure & Royalist defeat even though half their army hadn't even got within musket shot of the enemy.

Nick & Craig had little to do on their flank while Cameron, Leigh & Jim had all the fun while Carl did the hard work with the rule book.

Carl's figures were magnificent & the battle looked great. Though I enjoyed the battle, the battle did nothing to change my opinion of the DBX rules systems - a curious mix of oversimplification & arcane mechanisms.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Camp Cromwell 23/09/08

Rich's Romans v. Jim's Carthaginians - Camp Cromwell Rules

The Carthaginans deployed first to give the Romans some compensation for inexperience. Elephants & Numidians on the right, Spanish & Gaulic infantry in the centre, Spanish & Gallic heavy & light cavalry on the right, African spearmen & cavalry in reserve. The Romans did the standard deployment with their allies in reserve. For a time all went well for Hasrubal. The elephants & Numdians bogged down the Roman right, the Spanish/Gallic heavy cavalry quickly routed the Roman horse on the left, a Spanish infantry unit went through a gap in the line to get at the Allied foot & the Carthaginian reserves started working around the Roman infantry's exposed right flank. But the Spanish & Gallic cavalry pursued off the table & the winning infantry kept pursuing as well. The Hastasi/Principes smashed the Carthaginan centre & the loses on the sacficial left had the Cathaginians teetering on the edge of army morale. But Hasdrubal saw one last opportuny & charged his last African cavalry reserve against the weakest section of the Roman line. A win would have turned the battle, but the infantry withstood the charge & soon after the last African foot broke & it was game over. It was an exciting little game & I was pretty happy with the way the rules worked, but as always I have noticed some scope for tweeking. I'll put a pic on the blog.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Camp Cromwell Saturday 20/09/08

Saturday: James' Grenadiers v. Jim's Canadians

A Maharajah practice match to balance the leger. 2000 pts HTL, Germans attacking.
The Canadians placed a layered defence in front of the objective - 17pdrs n front then HMGs on the ridge crest then rifles on the objective behind the crest. M10s & Shermans in ambush.
On the German left they kept their Stugs & Tigers well back from the 17pdrs and pot shotted at them with the Tiger's 88s & 105 artillery from out of range. In their centre their HMGs & Pioneers advanced in the cover of a village and engaged the Canadian HMGs. On their right 2 Grenadier platoons & the AA HTs advanced at the double down the table edge.
The Canadians got their reserves pretty steadily and were able to mee the flank move with an artillery barrage & bugs. One Grenadier plat evaporated, but the other counterattacked with an AAHT & destroyed the bugs before diving into the village for cover before going on pressurise the Canadian reserve rifles platoons.
On the other flank, the Tigers & 105s finally weakened the 17pdrs enough for the Stugs to advance & finish them off & for the heat to go onto the HMGs. The Canadian armour dropped out of ambush and engaged the Panzers. The armour slugged it out trading Stugs for M10s.
In the centre the Pioneers and left flank Grenadiers advanced on the ridge as soon as the HMGs were disposed of. With a smoke barrage to help, the Grenadiers & Pioneers cleared the ridge and took the objective. The Canadians pulled the Shermans out of the tank battle to help the reserve infantry retake it, but it was temporary reprieve. The Pioners & the Grenadiers in the village counter attacked the counterattack and destroyed the rest of the Canadian infantry - with the CO - & the death of the last M10 caused the Canadians to fail Army morale.
It was a great little battle & close - the Germans were just one platoon off an Amy morale test themselves.

Camp Cromwell 16/09/08

Tuesday: Warhammer Ancients
Macedonians: Jim & SteveJ
Persians: Mark & Leigh
Umpire: Nick
Also present: Byron
The Macedonians soon became convinced they were doomed when realised that their phalanx wasn't going to get to the Hoplites skulking on the far edge of the table before the superior Persian cavalry destroyed the rest of their army. The Macedonian's sole success was their light cavalry sweeping away their opposite number on the left. Meanwhile they lost peltasts on their right to missile fire and all their heavy cavalry on the left of the phalanx. But after defeating the heavy cavalry the Persians pursued across the rear of the phalanx. The phalanx about faced and charged the cavalry in flank. The cavalry routed into some skirmishers. You would have expected the skirmishers to evaporate, but apparently not, & the cavalry was destroyed. The Macedonians got away with a narrow victory.
Subsequently it was found that there were numerous umpiring errors including less Macedonians than there should have been, less effect on morale due to skirmishers & no about face & charge. Bloody umpires !
I think WAB is a fun game if you have someone there who knows them well enought to keep it moving, but as a wargame you can't take it too seriously.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Camp Cromwell 11/09/08

Maharajah training for Rich
Game 1:
Rich's Canadians defending HTL v. Jim's 21st Panzer Panzergrenadiers (MM)
2000 pts on 8x6 using same table as last Tuesday.
We tried the option of compensating for the larger table by making the objective zone 30cm from edges & centre instead of 20cm. It seemed to work - the attacker has further to go to get at the objectives to compensate for the defender's reserves having further to go to get to the front.
It was all over on the German's 4th turn - the novice Canadians being taught a few lessons by the wily old Krauts, including:
Not getting any reserves in the 1st 3 turns is Very Bad.
Scouts on motorcyles can get to an undefended rear objective very quickly and force you to waste a precious ambush to dispute it.
Panzergrenadiers with a Panzer platoon, a Tiger platoon & a double Rocket platoon in support take a lot of stopping.
When you drop your Sherman ambush in front of 5 MkIVs & 2 Tigers and miss - you are in Big Trouble.
HMGs attacked in flank by Panzergrenadiers are Dead Meat.
Airpower can be useless.
Game 2: Same armies, same table, but FFA.
Again the Krauts won convincingly giving the Canadians some more lessons, including:
Bugs can be a real pain for the enemy, but are they are no match for AA half tracks (the Krauts decided the bugs were a bigger threat than airpower).
Infantry should use the terrain to protect their advance.
Panzers & Tigers just love a central position with good fields of fire.
Heavy mortars are Dead Meat if Panzergrenadiers get up close.
Once again, when the Allied tin cans come out to play they had better not miss on their first shot - they may not get a second one.
Beware the firepower of the Panzergrenadiers (MG teams ROF 3).
Summary. Rich complemented inexperience with terrible dice to be defeated twice in 3 1/2 hours. Jim decided he likes the 21st Panzer Panzergrenadiers.

Camp Cromwell 09/09/08

Tuesday at Camp Cromwell
Present: Rich, Byron, Jim, SteveJ.
Apologies: Nick, MarkO, Barrie.
Rich's Canadians attacking Byron's Grenadiers in HTL. LW 2000pts on 8x6.
The Germans took a big hit early when the Tiger ambush missed the Firefly which then took out a Tiger. But when the Stugs joined in the Canadian Shermans & M10s melted away.
The 1st Canadian rifles attacked Grenadiers on the forward objective & were destroyed by small arms fire. The 2nd rifle platoon attacked under smoke & did better, taking out the front line. But a 2nd Grenadier platoon came up, counterattacked and destroyed them.
On the Canadian right their 6pdrs & HMGs were stopped by a Stugs (left behind as the others went M10 hunting) & SPAA.
The artillery & mortars on both sides was pretty ineffective,as was the Allied air.
With no armour left and most of their infantry destroyed it was clear that the Canadians had no chance so they conceded defeat.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Camp Cromwell 05/09/08

Field of Glory Ancients

Renfrey's Roman's v. SteveJ's Carthaginians, Jim umpiring.
We used the sample armies in the rule book to do a test run of these rules.
On his left Steve mucked up his maneuvers and copped a couple of flank attacks to lose the flank. On his right he won a fair cavalry fight & after a long struggle the elephants beat triari. But the battle was decided in the centre where the Carthaginian skirmishers out-diced the velites then their larger foot units prevailed over the smaller, but better Roman units.

I'm still wary of making a judgment on these rules, having been mislead by first impressions of rules before (as Nick won't let me forget). The combat system is pretty good, but marred by the difficulty of picking out relevant factors from the tables. The rules suffer from unclear writing, lack of a one stop reference table for terminology & abbreviations, and poor arrangement (though an expanded index download helps). The book is full of instances where they tell you part of the rules for something in one place & the rest in another place with no cross reference. Eg: You'd expect to find victory conditions under Victory & Defeat on p 118, but there it only tells you that you have decisive victory if the enemy has attrition points >= the number of units - without saying what attrition points are nor referring you to where they are defined (they are in the Playing the Game section on p37).
The turn sequence seems unduly complex & the game is slowed down by multiple combat rounds each turn - there's an impact combat round for new charges, then a melee round so a combat has 2 rounds of combat using different combat factors in it's first turn - so in a pair of IGoUGo turns there are 4 sets of combat resolutions, plus 4 sets of firing calcs as both sides fire missiles in each turn. It's very inefficient.
To keep a game simple & focused a designer has to select the most important parameters to include in detail, while ignoring or simplifying others. I'm not sure that the selection is always to my taste & whether there are enough real tactical options - games I have seen have tended to degrade into dice fests - but that may well be newbie players not knowing how to play the game.
There is nothing particularly brilliant apparent except for the presentation - which is certainly excellent - but surely this is not the most important aspect of wargames rules. They do have some good ideas, but it's a pity that they are often poorly implemented. They have many similarities to the latest Camp Cromwell Rules (we've been plagiarizing the same sources). Fair comparison is difficult because of different levels of familiarity, but there's no doubt that the Camp Cromwell rules are vastly more efficient in playing time & mental effort.
It remains to be seen if the perceived problems will go away once we know the rules well enough to get on with the game without being hung up on rules searches. The benefits of knowing how to use a widely accepted set of commercial rules are obvious & these are probably better than the current alternative (Warhammer Ancients), so I think it's worth persevering with them.

Camp Cromwell 02/09/08

Flames of War

Renfrey's Panzer Grenadiers attacking Rich's Canadians in 1535 pts Cauldron (Monty's Meatgrinder).
Also present Nick, David & James.
The battlefield had plenty of cover for the Canadians with a large village & a wood in the centre to defend. The Germans got good reserves dice and the Canadians got lousy reserves dice which made it hard for the Canadians. The Germans made a concentrated attack on the wood beside the village. They disposed of the HMGs with artillery, neblewerfers & Tigers then sent in the Panzergrenadiers to take the objective in the wood. The Canadian rifles counterattacked bravely, but the rifle/mgs stopped them.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gaming Garage 29/08/08

Jim's Grenadiers v. Renfrey's US Armour. 1500 pts Late War Breakthrough.

Renfrey used one of Nick's lists - Super Shermans + Shermans + 2xStuarts + Priests + Scouts.
Jim had 2xGrenadiers, Pioneers, 2xHMG(2), Pak40s(3), StuGs(4), 105's.
Nick umpired & provided technical assistance to the US.

Renfey put both Sherman platoons & the scouts in the flanking force. The Stuarts pounced on the forward grenadier platoon & all but destroyed it on turn 1. But the Priests had failed to lay a smoke screen & the StuGs, Paks & 105s wrecked terrible revenge. Only failed tank terror prevented the 2nd Grenadiers finishing off the Stuarts immediately. It took the Germans until turn 3 to finish the Stuarts off & by then the cavalry had arrived - the Shermans came on with the first reserve roll & had caught the Pioneers on the rear objective before they could dig in & destroyed them. A bunch of hills prevented the German antitank guns covering this objective so suddenly things looked dangerous for the Krauts. It got worse when the Super Shermans came on next turn. The Stugs were outgunned & were soon destroyed, but with the help of the 105's they took the standard Shermans with them forcing a Coy Morale Test on the US (3 platoons destroyed & only 2 left on the table). The US survived the test but the 105s hammered the Super Shermans. Once again the 2nd grenadiers failed tank terror & missed a chance to finish them off. But the Scouts failed to arrive on turn 6, missing the chance to occupy the vacant rear objective & requiring another 2nd Coy Morale Test. This time they failed, handing the Krauts victory.

This was battle of wildely fluctuating fortunes. Both sides made some good moves & the Dice Gods could have given victory either way. The big tactical difference was the effectiveness of the artillery - the Priests did little while the 105's did most of the killing for the Krauts.