Thursday, February 25, 2016

Modder Fokkers in the 70's

Deep in a box in the store room I found a folder with old shiny photo copies of the handwritten 1974 rules for WWI Air War we were playing at Ogilvie St in Mt Stuart.  We had already been playing the game for year or so then, but this is the earliest surviving set of rules.  It wasn’t called Modder Fokkers then, but the original DNA of Modder Fokkers is clearly there.

The planes were Airfix 1/72 scale.  All of them are still in use 42 years later. 

The planes were mounted on plastic stands that scissored at the joints with wing nuts to fix the joints.  Distances vertically & horizontally were measured in inches.  Turns were controlled with cardboard templates of varying radii.   Movement was simultaneous with proposed moves written down on a piece of paper.

Shooting was done by drawing a card for each burst from a box containing several decks of mini playing cards with the royals removed to leave cards 1 to 10.  Damage was recorded by writing down on the movement log.
 The rules were brief:
 Table 1 provided aircraft stats:

 Table 2 provided Fire Factors:
 Table 3 was the damage table:

The system was a bit cumbersome and required some delicate work to manoeuvre the planes on their stands, measure moves & ranges and avoid catastrophic upsets of the whole shebang in a dogfight. But it worked & we loved it. 
In those days a younger & naive Renfrey was frequently sent up in DH2's as cannon fodder for Albatrii. 

Over 42 years we have been playing the game off and on as it periodically took its turn as flavour of the month in our endless cycle though the games & eras we play.   In the 90’s it became Modder Fokkers with the advent of vertical sticks, hex based movement, computer printed logs & dice instead of cards.  

Recently the equipment has been improved some more, but the DH2 & Albatros in today's pic are also in the one above.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Modder Fokkers

SteveJ: 2 Fokker DVII
Mark: 1 Albatros DV, 1 Hannover C

Renfrey: 2 Camels

The fight initially split into two parts with Steve's Fokkers going at Ed's SPADs & Renfrey's Camels going for Mark's planes.  
 Ed dived under the Fokkers, but they turned fast onto the SPAD's tails.
At the other end of the table there wasthe sort of confused melee you'd expect from Mark & Renfrey with both sides coping damage.
The SPADs used their speed to outrun the Fokkers but not before both planes had taken a bit of damage and one pilot wounded.  The SPADs turned back towards the British lines bringing all the planes together into a single dogfight.   Steve's greater experience as a pilot showed as the Allied planes one by one copped serious damage and ran for home. 

All 4 Allied planes escaped giving the Germans 4 VPs to none.  The Allied planes all had serious damage before they escaped.  Mark's planes all survived with moderate damage.  Steve's planes didn't get a scratch on them.

As umpire the only tricky bit was checking altitude differences.  I think this can be easily improved by painting the sticks in multi-coloured bands.  That's next on my to-do list.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

WWI Air & Napoleonic Naval

Playing a few games of Wings or Glory & Sails of Glory at Barrie's has prodded me into digging out the ships & planes at Camp Cromwell to compare them to our old home made rules Men o' War & Modder Fokkers.  Our ships are old Airfix Victories & the planes /72nd scale WWI aircraft, mostly the same models we were using 45 years ago in my first house at Mt Stuart.  The rules evolved over the years but have changed little this century apart from replacing pencil & paper command & damage logs with sliding washers on paper overlays on magnetic boards (Hail Caesar phalanx movement trays).  Of course, being me, in resurrecting the games again after a couple of years I've given the rules a edit and put in a few tweaks. Today James came round to play some games of each to refresh my memory for a comparison with the Glory system.

Men o' War
Jim: 3 British 3rd rates with Elite crews.
James: 3 French ships with Regular crews: 1 1st rate & 2 3rd rates.
The Fleets approached on beam reaches on opposite tacks with the French 2 hexes to windward.  (The Brits are in the forground in the pics). The Brit attempt to sneak up wind was thwarted by the French damaging the lead ship's rigging preventing it from going to windward.  But the Brits still closed & revealed they were double shotted.  The lead French ship was sunk by successive close range broadsides as the Brits passed her.
The lead Brit ship had to Break off after copping the fire each French ship, but an ill-judged manoeuvre put the 3rd French ship between the other Brit ships & it was forced to strike. The 2nd French ship still had the weather gauge and escaped.  

Modder Fokkers game 1:
Jim: 1 Albatros DV & + Fokker DrI
James: 2 Camels.
After an initial flurry, the Fokker got on the tail of one Camel & put it down.  
The other Camel fared better against the Albatros but ran for home when the Fokker came to help it out.  The escaping Camel had a lot of damage, whereas the Germans planes both had few hits on them, but some critical damage that inhibited pursuit.
Modder Fokkers game 2:
Jim: Albatros DV + Pfalz IIIz + Roland 2 seater.
James: 2 Camels
This game the Roland had to fly the length of the table straight and level on a photo run.  VPs were to be 1 per fighter & 2 for the Roland. 

One the Camels got shot down as it hammered the Roland, but the 2nd Camel nailed it and was able to escape the Germans fighters to claim a British victory 2:1.

Comparison of the Glory systems & the Camp Cromwell systems

There are a lot of similarities between the Glory games and the Camp Cromwell games - which is to be expected as we are modelling the same thing with pretty good documentary sources.

The big difference between the two systems is that the CC system uses hexes to control movement & measure ranges whereas Glory relies on measurement.   The hex system has a disadvantage in that there is less subtle variation available to distinguish between ship/plane characteristics.  The disadvantage of the Glory system is that in these games even a small deviation in direction can make the difference between getting in a devastating broadside or burst of fire, or not.  Not only is precision difficult in moving the models with quite small move rates, but it is very easy to accidentally bump a model while moving another one, & very difficult to replace it exactly.  The hexes solve this problem and remove most scope for argument discussion.

Both use a system of commands & simultaneous movement that force the players to plan ahead.  Glory use cards selected from a deck specific to the ship/plane placed face down in the order phase.  CC use counters on hand held magnetic logs.  Both systems do the job, but the hexes makes the CC  system more precise & discussion free.

Both use counters on tracks on a log/consol to record damage, type of ammo loaded, etc.  In MOW the data is recorded on the ship's base, in the others it is on the log/consol.  Both systems work fine.

The Glory system uses chits drawn from a bag to determine damage.  The CC games use old fashioned dice.  Both systems work fine.

The 60cm tall sticks we use in MF depict height differences better than in WOG, making the game more obviously 3-D.   I think this largely compensates for the lack of subtly in plan moves due to the hex system.

Both systems give a good game.  The ready-made off-the-shelf Glory system with an establised fan base is always going to be preferred outside of Camp Cromwell & I'm happy to play it when someone else puts on a game.  But I see no reason to buy the Glory systems for games at Camp Cromwell.

Man o' War In England
My e-friend Tim in Suffolk is playing Man o' War on a much grander scale than we do here.  Tim & his mates have been fighting a Napoleonic Mediteranian naval campaign using it (with a few regional variations).


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Last week's scenario with Napoleonics

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to fight a scenario similar the one we did last week in ACW (using Hail Mr Lincoln) in the Napoleonic era (using Hail King Fred).  The terrain was Europeanised by removing most of scrub & fences & the railway and bowdlerising the village.  The difference in the armies was reduced from the attacker having 33% more points to 17% more.  Both sides were given a cavalry division, 4 infantry divisions & some guns.  Mike & Chris commanded the Austrian defence.  Mark, Jim & Renfrey were the Frogs.
The Austrians are on the left.  Their cavalry has not been put down as it is out of sight of the French.
The rest of the pics are taken from behind the French.  Renfrey immediately advanced on the right.  Mark was trying to advance in the centre, but the dice gods were slowing him down.
 Jim's cavalry has advanced expecting Austrian cavalry to come over the hill at them.
Renfrey's attack on the ridge has gone rather well, but he has found the Austrian cavalry lurking behind the ridge on his flank.  Mark's right is still hanging back.
The French cavalry bravely charged over the ridge to find no one home. Mark's Legere on his left is now making some forward progress, though his left is still hanging back. 
On the right the Austrian counterattack has been disrupted by a surprise charge by Renfry's blundering infantry near the village.
The French cavalry has crossed the creek, wheeled right and charged up the hill. On the far left they were beaten off by a square, but under pressure by Mark's Legere in front Chris left a flank hanging which the dice gods allowed the RH cavalry to exploit, riding down 2 battalions & a gun and exposing the Austrian centre.
Renfrey's blundering infantry have been pushed back up the hill, but still survive.  One Austrian cavalry charge has been repelled by the square on the ridge. 
On the French left two squares are holding ip the French cavalry, but Mark's Legere has come up to help.
The Austrian cavalry has now broken the square, but the blunderer's have actually beaten off the Austrian infantry & the Austrian infantry div has broken.  
Mark's Legere has destroyed one square and is wrapping around Chris's centre.  The French cavalry is regrouping while their horse gun pounds the last square.
A massed cavalry attack has finally finished off the last square on the Austrian right and Mark's Legere is chewing up the Austrian centre battalion by battalion.
Chris' 2nd division has broken so the Austrians have now lost 3 of 5 divs and thus fail their army break test.

The critical points of the battle were:
1. The French attack on the left, where cavalry, infantry and artillery combined nicely to break the Austrian flank and expose their centre to being rolled up.
2. The blunder that had one of Renrey's infantry battalions make a crazy charge that disrupted the Austrian counterattack & somehow lead to his RH division beating the enemy infantry div and also holding off their cavalry div.

Last week in ACW with 33% more men the attackers only just managed to pull off a win. This week in Napoleonics with only 17% more men it was a big win for the attackers.  Clearly there is not much advantage in defending in the Napoleonic era.  A not unexpected result, but pleasing to see how just a few tweaks to the rules and different terrain can make such a huge difference.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Muskets & Tomahawks at Barrie's

British: Barrie & Renfrey
French: JohnM & Jim

The two sides had different objectives as is normally the case with M&T.  The French, coming from the near side of the table gained VPs by destroying the enemy & by getting their civilians off the far edge of the table.  The Brits coming on from the LHs side of the table, gained VPs by destroying the enemy civilians & the trading post off-shot in the foreground.

John's Indians have advanced down the left flank while Jim's Militia on the right of the river have engaged the enemy frontally while the civilians are being moved down the right flank.  One Brit militia unit is facing the Indians & the other moving to intercept the civilians while the Brit regulars form up in the centre.

John's first Indian attack on the Brit militia was beaten off, but the second Indian unit took out the militia.  Then the combination of Indians from the flank & militia fire frontally destroyed the Brit regulars.

Renfrey's militia was then overwhelmed by the Canadian militia completing a decisive French victory.  As usual with M&T the losers claimed the scenario was biased against them while the victors considered that it was their brilliant tactics that won the day.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

ACW 28mm: The Union attacks

The scenario had a Confederate force defending against a 33% larger Union force.
Confederates (Mark & Renfrey): 1 Vet div of 4 units.  1 Reg div of 4 units.  2 Reg divs of 3 units. 2 Parrot guns, 2 Napoleon guns. Command 9 for vets & CIC, 8 otherwise.
Union (Jim & Mike): 1 div of 2 Vets & 2 Regs, 3 Reg div sof 4, 1 cav div of 4, 4 Parrot guns & 2 Napoleon guns.  Command 8 for all except the div with the Vet inf which is 9.
Victory conditions: Either break 3 of the enemy divisions, or be in possession of the town at 10pm.
Rules: Hail Mr Lincoln (our modified Hail Caesar).
 The Rebs are on the left.
There is a small Reb div in the town.  (There was some discussion about the wisdom of putting Mark in charge of the Saloon & Whorehouse). 
On the near flank the Union cavalry has galloped forward and dismounted to fight against the Reb reserve sent their way to stop them outflanking the Reb centre.
In the centre the Union Parrot battery is pounding the Reb centre (which has partly withdrawn to try & get out of the fire) while two inf divs advance through the orchards each side of the battery.
On the far flank the Rebs popped over the ridge to open fire on Mike's infantry as they tried to cross the creek. 
The Union cavalry are tying down an inf div on this flank.
In the centre one Reb inf div and their artillery is inflicting heavy casulaties on the two Union attacks, but the Union artillery has also done a lot of damage to the Rebs. 
On the far flank, Mike's attempt to cross the river & attack has bogged down into a firefight.
The Union attack left of centre has carried the fence line & the Reb div in the centre is broken.  The div on the near flank is still holding off the Union cav, but is now outflanked.
The Reb right has been cleaned out and the Union divs in the centre are advancing on the town.    Mark launched a counterattack out of the town on the far end of the big hill, but there were enough Union troops still fit to fight able to come up and to beat it off.  
The Union Parrot battery has been moved to the right to help Mike.
Jim's divs in the centre are advancing on the town, but all Union divs have serious casaulties that make an attack on the town not an attractive proposition and 10pm is approaching.
But before Mark thought of pulling them back out of the line of fire, one of the Reb units on the scrubby ridge is broken by the parrot guns redeployed on the ridge on the Union side firing over the valley.  This breaks the division and with it the Rebel army as it has now lost 3 of 4 divs.
So the Union have won with about 15 mins to spare.  

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sails of Glory at Barrrie's

Brits: Barrie & Ed.
Frogs: Jim & SteveJ
This time we played the standard game without the rules mistakes we made last week.  The game certainly went a lot better than last week, but found two instances of poorly written rules.  The rules defining raking and the rules for collisions are so badly writtenthat it's hard to work out what they mean, and what they seme to mean doesn't make a lot of sense anyway.  Both are good candidates for house rules.  Perhaps being blown out of the water this week has predjudiced my opinion.  This week we ahd a more normal result with the Brits winning - my Montagne being sunk & Steve's l'Orient slinking off.  

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Hail Caesar: Pydna 168 BC - Rome v. Macedon

Mike set up the scenario to give his Romans a run.  Jim provided the Macedonians.  The two armies each comprised 5 divisions totaling about 775 pts including command points.  Jim, Mark & Renfrey commanded the Macedonians, Mike & Chris the Romans.
The Macedonians are on the left with a cavlry div on each wing, 2 phalanx divs in the centre & Galacians right of centre.  The Romans have 2 divs of Romans in the centre, allied foot left of centre, cavalry on the left and a mixed force of elephants and light infantry & cavalry on the right.
The Macedonians advanced all along the line. The Romans advanced their centre, but held back their flanks.
On the far flank the Macedonian cavalry gradually got on top of the mixed division despite the disorder caused by the elephants.  In the centre the Roamns made a hole in the phalanx line, but were hurt enough to be unable to exploit the gap.   
 On the near flank the Galatians & Macedonian cavalry are pushing the Roman allies back.
On the far flank the Roman allies have broken.  In the centre the Roman advance has stalled.   On the near flank the Roman allies are hanging on. 
 In the centre the Romans have fallen back onto the rough ground as the remaining 2 fresh phalanxes advance.  On the near flank the Roamn cavalry has broken and the allied foot is in big trouble.
The Roman allies infantry has now broken leaving the Romans with just 2 of 5 divisions so they fail the army break test.  The Macedonians have lost no divisions.  The Romans actually lost no Roman infantry units at all, but somehow got neutalised by the phalanx while their allies were destroyed.