Monday, June 30, 2014

Bolt Action at the Gaming Garage

Nick vs Patrick, umpired by Jim.

We played a standard 1000 point Bolt Action game using 15mm figures, but otherwise keeping the ranges and rules as is.  Nick had US paratroopers with air support and a M10 tank destroyer.  Patrick had Panzer Grenadiers, a PaK 40, and a Tiger.

The first thing we noticed was that half tracks don't work very well in Bolt Action right now.  We may have to house rule it for future games.

There was an interesting infantry battle for the central village -- a battle that Patrick won by slowly wearing down Nick's paratroopers.  Nick called in air power and took out the PaK 40, intending to have a clear run to send his M10 across the field to the objective.  Patrick moved his Tiger across to block that.  Nick ran the M10 to the other side of the village, where it was immobilised by a Panzerfaust.  However, being US, the airpower came in again, and managed to take out the Tiger.  Nick then ran a squad of paratroops across the open field to the enemy objective to win the game.  Patricks infantry were all on the other side of the village and out of position to block to run to the objective.  Patrick did try a run of his own, as if the paratroops had failed an order response he would have been able to get two squads to his objective and claim victory.

A fun game that came down to the last die roll -- exactly what you want in a game.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Nick in Launceston - Saga with Chris in 15mm

Had my first game of Saga, using a 2'x2' board and 15mm figures. Chris was Vikings, and Nick was Anglo-Danes.

The game was great fun. Chris won a narrow victory on points. I think we misplayed a lot of rules, as we were learning. But we both had a blast. Especially when Chis sent his Beserkers into a large unit of Warriors -- there was mayhem everywhere.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wars of the Roses

Jim's Yorkists v. Mike's Lancastrians

Each army was in three battles totalling about 650 pts. The Yorkists are on the right.
The Yorkist's 3 battles are all 1 knight, 1 sergeant, 2 bows & 2 bills.  The Lancastrians have 4 sergeants on their left, 3 bows, 3 spears & 2 guns in the centre and 2 small crossbow, 3 bows & 3 men at arms on their right.
Both sides advanced with their right.  On the far flank, the Lancastrians tried to take advantage of the over-eager advance of the Yorkist infantry by charging them before the Yorkist cavalry could come up.  It was a good idea, but the dice gods did not favour it & the cavalry were beaten off losing a unit.
The Yorkist cavalry on the far flank finally got some good command and advanced but the enemy sergeants fell back.  The Yorkist centre advanced in support of their right.
The Yorkist cavalry caught up with the Lancastrian cavalry, pushed them back then broke them.  The sweeping advances combined with pressure from the Yorkist infantry centre broke the Lancastrian centre battle causing the army to break.

A classic case of a good plan backed up with hot dice - an unbeatable combination.  It was all over in 1 hour 10 mins.   At least one of the players had a ripping time. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Muskets & Tomahawks at barrie's

John Mumford got us involved in a world wide Muskets & Tomahawks campaign.  We fought our battles for rounds 1 to 3 for June in an all day session at Barries, with a break for BBQ lunch. 

We had 7 players involved, John, Barrie, Rusty, Munt, Leigh, Mark & Jim.
Barrie set up three 4' square tables and we fought 4 rounds of 3 games with 200 pt armies (which is quite small, thus 4 games in a day was possible).  Les Frogs (John, Jim & Leigh) won every battle.

Next month the Gods will assign us another set of scenarios with slightly larger battles and advantages to the Generals who did well and survived the first rounds.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Nick in Launceston -- Dennis's Desperado's and 'Mr Six' Matt

Another night at LGC. Various games being played, but two 'historicals' of interest.

1. Nick vs Dennis in a Western Gunfight using Legends of the Old West and 15mm figures.

Dennis's Desperados had just robbed the local bank. Their horses were hidden in the hills just out of town, and they had to run off board with two of the three bags of loot to win. Unfortunately, Nick had the Texas Rangers, and a few of them had cut off the Desperado's escape route. Meanwhile, additional Rangers were coming around from the side. And there were panicked townsfolk everywhere!

Nick and his Rangers got off to a bad start -- one Ranger had his horse shot out from under him, and another Ranger had his rifle jam. But then using some fire and manoeuvre, shooting between houses and taking shots around the corner of the building, Nick managed to knock down four of the Desperadoes. The Desperadoes were half gone, and had to take a 'Head for the Hills test' each turn. This they managed to pass, while meanwhile failing to hit any of the Rangers with their shooting. At one point a Ranger was between two Desperadoes, and the Desperadoes were shooting at the Ranger (and rolling to see if they also hit the other Desperado), and they still couldn't hit anything. But they kept passing their 'Head for the Hills' test. Then in one turn the remaining Desperados managed to hit and wound 3 of the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers then immediately failed their first 'Head for the Hills' test. (It wasn't until I got home that I remembered that the Rangers special rule is 'Grit' -- they get to re-roll 'Head for the Hills' tests.

Picture is the Desperadoes when things looked bleak. You can just see the pistol of one Ranger peaking around the livery stable!  (Buildings are Whitewash City, figures are Peter Pig)

2. Matt vs Rob, in a Flames of War battle,

Matt is new to the club and Flames of War. Rob provided Russians and Germans for the battle, and Matt chose to play Russians.

I famously was a victim of Matt's ability to rolls 6's in his first game of Flames of War. Apparently Matt continued his streak against Rob. Rob came over to me early in the game and remarked about Matt's ability to roll 6's. Then Rob went into a streak of bad die rolls - at one point Rob hit and penetrated every IS-2 in the Russian force with the German tigers, only to fail every firepower test. Rob then failed his tank terror test to assault the IS-2's. I left before the final result, but it was a 5-2 victory to Matt.

P.S. As experienced players, both Rob and I are convinced that the reason we lost was the ability of Matt to roll 6's -- a skill deficit on our side is unthinkable!!! :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hail Caesar: Rome v. Carthage

Mike wanted to give his new Republican Romans a run.  Jim faced him with Carthaginians.  Mark Umpired.
The Carthaginians are on the near side. 
The battle opened slowly with not much command happening.  The Spanish on the Punic left advanced to be met with a charge by the Roman cavalry. 
The Roman cavalry attack has been seen off by the Spanish with the help of the elephants taken from the centre by Hannibal.  The Punic cavalry has finally got moving, but slowly.  The Gauls in the Punic centre have advanced to help the Spanish v, the Roman's Spanish on the hill. 
 The Romans have counterattacked in the centre smashing a hole in the Gallic line, but the Punic spearmen are in reserve behind the hole.   The Punic cavalry have lapped around the Roman left.
The Punic cavalry charged the end of the Roman line.  They broke 2 units, but lost one themselves.  On the far flank the elephants have finally got moving again to attack the Roman horse.  There's a desperate fight going on in the centre.
The elephants are driving the Roman cavalry back, but they refuse to break.  The Punic centre is giving ground but holding on with high casualties all round.  The Romans have formed a solid line on their left wing that the Punic cavalry aren't game to attack.  Instead they throw in the last fit Gallic unit.
The elephants have finally disposed of the Roman cavalry, but it's too late for them to come back help the centre.  The Cartho's Spanish and Gallic Allies have broken.  There are too many Romans left & the Carthaginians concede.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Nick in Launceston -- Operation Cromwell practice

A practice game for operation Cromwell -- Flames of War, 2,500 points (2x 1250 point companies). Rob was American. Nick and Starn were German.

The game was a great game, with the Germans doing a concentrated attack down one flank, but with the Americans playing a very careful and sneaky game with their ambush and reserves. The game was characterised by Starn's interesting die rolls:
- Starn just couldn't roll to get planes on, even with priority air support. I think the planes showed up twice.
- Starn had a spurt of 6's to snipe a bunch of infantry just when it mattered.

In the end the Americans won.  They had been gutted, and would have collapsed to nothing in another turn -- but the Germans just couldn't seal the deal in the 3 hours time - let alone the 2.5 hours for Operation Cromwell.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blood on the Danube - 30 Years War

In order to give my newly finished Polish Winged Hussars a run I set up a scenario based on the Blood on the Danube scenario in the Pike & Shotte book.  In this variant, Gustavus Adolphous has outmaneovered Wallenstein and the main Imperialist army is in danger of being cut off from its base.  This outnumbered Imperialist force has to hold off the Swedish advance guard until nightfall (after the 8th turn) to allow Wallenstein to avoid the trap. 
My Imperialist Army is on the right.  It comprises 3 infantry divisions each 2 pike & 4 shotte, a German cavalry division of 4 heavy horse, a Polish cavalry division of 3 winged hussars, 4 guns & 2 commanded musketeers units.   They are deployed along series of hedges & walls that extend right across the battlefield.  The artillery are deployed on the ridge in front of their centre, the commanded muskets are added to centre division.

Mike & Steve's army of Swedes & mercenaries has 3 mercenary infantry divisions of 2 pike & 4 shotte, an elite Swedish division of 2 pike & 7 shotte & 2 heavy cavalry divisions of 4 units each.  They deployed with the Swedes in front of the guns, the cavalry beside them in the centre, 2 infantry on their right & one on their left.
The Swedish right has advanced rapidly and is softening up the enemy with close range shotte.  The Swedish vets have chosen to blow the battery off the hill with musket fire.  The left is advancing slowly. 
The Swedes have made their first breakthrough at the eaxtreme left end of the Imperialist line.  Witht he battery disposed of, the Swedish vets have moved up open fire on the main line in the centre along with the mercenaries on the far end of the line .  A Swedish cavalry division has been turned right in anticipation of being able to exploit a breakthrough.  
While a breakthrough has been made on the near flank, it cost a lot of casualties & exploitation has been slow.  Imperialist cavalry is coming to counterattack.  On the far flank, one Swdish pike unit has broken through, but the Polish cavalry has moved up & prevented any exploitation of the gap.

The Imperialist cavalry has arrived to stop the rot on the near flank, engaging the pike in a caracole.  The rest of the line still holds.  This is the state of the battle after the 8th turn which was nominated as nightfall, but it was still early, we were still having fun, & we were still learning stuff about fighting unsymmetric battles, so we kept on fighting.
A couple of turns on and the odd gap is beginning to appear in the Imperialist line.  Eventually, it will probably break, but clearly they have held the line for long enough to claim victory.  

I think that the Imperialist strategy of holding the thin line with a cavalry reserves to plug the gaps was arguably as good as defence as any, but their victory was made easy by the Swedes mishandling their veteran infantry.  I think they should have made an immediate concentrated attack with them to break a section of the line, with the cavalry following up to exploit, and the mercenaries putting pressure on the rest of the front. 

Since we last fought this era we have fought a bit of 7YW & Napoleonic era battles where we had developed a few rules variations that we saw tonight could apply equally to this period.  We discussed a few tweaks for next time we fight this era.

Next Tuesday will be a return to real Hail Caesar - Romans v. Carthaginians.   Mike has some new Republicans he wants to blood in battle.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

FOW Operation Cromwell Testing

Rich's Germans comprised a 1145 pts Panzergrenadier Coy & a 1355 Panzer Coy.
Jim's US comprised a 1000 pt Rifle Coy & a 1500 pt Tank Coy.

We tested a variation of a Domination Mission with the Germans defending on a 8'x6' table.  There were five objectives each worth 2 pts if held undisputed 1 pt each if disputed - 1 on each of the 3 central ridges & 1 in each hamlet.  The Germans as defenders deployed 1 coy (the Panzergrenadiers) up to 30 cm forward of the centreline.  They were allowed one immediate ambush.  Their other coy is in reserve.  The reserves were thrown for normally, but their place of arrival was written down at this time (anywhere on rear edge or halfway up sides).  The US then deployed all their forces within 30cm of their table edge & got first move.
The Panzergrenadiers are dug in on the ridge lines.  The US are advancing from the left.
Before the US have really got to grips with the enemy, the 2 German Panzer platoons have both come on turn 3 - one on each flank.
The Panzergrenadiers have pulled back out of sight.  On the left, the US aren't game to go over the top in the face of MkIVs.  In the centre the infantry doesn't dare attack the MG equipped Panzergrenadiers until their numbers are whittled away - a slow process v. dug in vets.  On the right, the MKIII's have come up hull down to take on the TDs.
The German counterattack on the right has driven the US back.  The centre & left remain stalemated.  This was 2.5 hours on & we called time.  The Germans have uncontested possession of 2 objectives, the US have one and two are disputed.  So a 6:4 victory to the Germans.

It was good game, with lots of tactical options for both sides & it felt like the right amount of forces for the table size.  This particular game did look like a hard ask for the attacker, but I don't think the mission is necessarily unbalanced.  In this case, I think I gave the defence too much advantage with 3 ridges to defend plus the German reserves arrived early & exactly at the right places.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Nick in Launceston -- Napoleon At War

Nick vs Starn, in a trial of Napoleon At War. Nick (French) attacking vs Starn (Austrian)

There was lots of reading of rules, as it was the first game. And lots of improvisation, as Napoleon At War uses a basing system different from Lasalle etc. So we used 4x Lasalle stands in line, as that had the same frontage as 6x Napoleon At War stands. We had to use a die to record the actual size of a unit in stands.

The battle was a bit of a trial, with my first experimental charge against Starn's artillery succeeding where the odds were my cavalry would have been blown away. And Starn's experiment charge in column against my thin blue line of French failed (and this ultimately lost him the game, as his elite units were chewed up in a firefight and advance / retreat / advance cycles, eventually breaking and delivering enough victory points to me to get the win).

I liked the game, as there is a real Napoleonic feel to it. For instance, a charge of a French line against an Austrian column would go like this:
1. French column advances to 4" away from the Austrians.
2. French column fires -- 3 stands in the front rank, so 3 dice needing 4+. But lose one dice due to Austrian skirmishers. Skirmishers matter! Need to get 4 hits for a guaranteed casualty, and with one or two hits there are low odds of getting a casualty -- the Austrians need to save hits by rolling more than the number of hits on a dice. But the Austrians have the 'Grosse Battalion' rule, so they reroll fails.  Each nationality has special rules that give a Napoleonic feel.
3. French column announces a charge and moves into contact. Skirmishers on both sides are moved behind their lines.
4. Austrians have 6 stands in their front line. They can fire with 6 dice. Or can decide to fire at point blank, with 2 dice per stand (12 dice unless the French were really lucky). If they fire at point blank they have to roll a discipline test (skill test in FOW). If the discipline test fails, they don't fire at all! (British have a special rule allowing them to hold fire with better odds).
5. If the French took any casualties they can lose a skirmisher instead. They have two skirmishers, so in effect the first two hits are 'free'. (But skirmishers are really useful, so losing skirmishers hurts in the long term!)
6. If the French took any fire, they need a morale test to charge home. The French have a special rule - Elan - enabling them to reroll failed morale tests. However, if they took a base casualty from the defensive fire, that rule is cancelled. (Hence losing skirmishers helps).  There is roughly a 50% chance of charging home unless you are French or the enemy is weakend
7. The French now have 3 stands (the front of their column) in combat, so they roll to kill a stand 3 times -- a 4+ kills.
8. The Austrians, regardless of casualties, have to roll a morale test to fight back. If they fail morale, they retreat 4" (one full move for a line formation).
9. If the Austrians passed their morale, they fight back with stands that are still in contact.
10. The force that took the most casualties loses the melee, and retreats a full move (6" in column). Any winning force that didn't take a casualty takes at least one casualty.
11.  The end result is one force will be where the defensive line was, and another will have retreated.  Morale matters a lot.  Firing formation matters a lot.  Lines are quite devastating due to the number of dice in defensive fire.

Starn thought that cavalry were underpowered.  I'm not sure I agree on reflection.  The Austrian Hussars destroyed a French unit that failed to form square.  The Austrian Cuirassiers bounced off a couple of French squares and took a lot of casualties, but we forgot that you can rest troops and get casualties back, up to one stand below full strength (and the Austrians, being 'overstrength units', can get back to full strength)

In the end I won, through breaking 2 out of 5 Austrian brigades, and taking an objective.  The objective counts as an Austrian loss, so they had more brigades broken than on table, so their army broke.  However, the French Guard Brigade and the French Light Cavalry Brigade and one of the French Infantry Brigades  were all on wood, so it was very, very close.

There was also a game of Battlefield Kursk by Dennis and Rob.  It looked fantastic, and apparently was on a knife edge.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Operation Cromwell Trial: FOW

Steve's Panzers & Carri (3000 pts)
Mark's US Armour (1500 pts) + Mike's US Rifles (1000 pts)

The US are defending lengthwise on a 8x6 table.  There are 5 objectives on terrain features, 2 on the centre line & 3 further back.  The objectives are worth 2 VPs each (1 each if disputed).  Half the defender's platoons had to be placed within 30cm of the rear edge & as reserves could not fire on move on turn 1. 2 platoons could be ambush.

The attackers started within 60cm of their table edge & got first move.
Mike's infantry looks awfully lonely defending the village.
General Oakford sat back and let Mike do all the work defending the village with some support from some artillery, air & an anti-tank ambush.  Some Carri took the objective on the central ridge then turned left to join the attack on the village.
The GI's defended bravely, but there was too much armour for them to stop it.  The village was taken & the anti-tank guns blown away.  Finally, the Shermans were deployed in ambush on the right & a US counterattack began.   The German second line turned to face it.
The Axis attack on the left continued onto the scrubby hill defended by a Weapons Platoon. 
The panzers took the scrubby hill just before time ran out.  The US armour disputed the central objective on their last turn.   So both sides have 5 VPs for a draw.

The scenario seemed pretty well balanced with the attackers having 3000 pts to the defender's 2500.  We fought for 2.5 hours & there was no decisive result.  I'm not convinced that 3000/2500 is the right number of points.  2500/2000 could well give a better battle by reducing the amount of work without changing the amount of tactical & strategic thinking involved.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Barossa 1811: 28mm Napoleonics at Molesworth

Camp Cromwell had a Saturday night away game at Dave's place at Molesworth.   Dave set up a scenario based on Barossa, Spain, March 1811.  Jim & Mark were French, Dave, Mike & Steve were British & Spanish.  Dave provided most of the troops, with a few top-ups by Mike.  The British objective is to drive the French off the hill.  The French objective is to hold it.
Mark's French are on the left on the hill.  Jim's are in the foreground.  Mike's British are on the right, Dave's in the centre & Steve's British cavalry on the far flank.  Some French cavalry & a Spanish division will come on later.
 The troops are now mostly deployed into battle formation.
Mike is attacking on the near flank.  Dave has sent a forlorn hope forward against the hill.  Steve has paused his cavalry in the face of a French square with cavalry support and is bombarding the square.
Mike's attack has been beaten off, his division broken.  Dave's division has also lost units.  The Spanish have come on the far side.
 The French counterattack in the centre, though their right has refused to advance. 
The French counterattack is really gathering steam now.  The last British grenadier unit in the centre is hanging on by good break test throws.  The Spanish deployment is realistically slow.
The British cavalry has made some desperate charges to try & save the day, but while they broke the French cavalry the French infantry have held them off.   The British centre has now broken & the British cavalry entirely shaken.  The battle is called a French victory.

Our battle saw the unusual spectacle of French lines beating off British attacks, with French commanders behaving much more sensibly than the real French usually did.   It's arguable that in the scenario the British should have had more advantage in fire power over the French than they were given, and/or they should have had some more units to reflect the fact that their 2 deep lines went further.

We used Hail Frederick rules - Hail Caesar with Camp Cromwell house rules for the Black powder era 28mm.  A good time was had by all.