Sunday, 28 November 2010

Wargames Weekend: The Battle of Te-li-ssu

For our afternoon game we moved to Manchuria and down a scale to 15mm for a Russo-Japanese War game which was a trial run for the Bloody Picnic rules.

The Japanese 2nd Army under General Baron Oku had orders to capture the hamlet of Te-li-ssu, which lies to the north of the Fu-chou Ho river valley.

I took on the role of Lieutenant-General Baron Oshima, commander of the 3rd Division which was on the right of the Japanese advance. The 5th Division was to our left attacking the centre of the Russian positions, whilst the 4th Division is attempting to outflank the Russians on the far left.

On the previous day our artillery, supported by guns from the 1st Artillery Brigade, fought and won an artillery duel that forced the Russians to withdraw their guns from the forward slopes of the hills on the other side of the valley.

Our infantry also contacted the Russian infantry on our right flank, but though they initially fared well, the Russians bought up reinforcements, which halted our attack.

Under the cover of the early morning fog we planned to launch an attack at dawn to take the heights this time.

Initially things went well and our advance across the valley was uncontested, concealed as it was by the slowly lifting fog.

However, as we approached the steep slopes on the other side we came under fire from the entrenched Russians and were unable to use our artillery as visibility was still too poor.

One of my infantry commanders was a little over zealous and started to advance up the slope toward the enemy trenches but this smply resulted in an entire battalion being eliminated. So we spread out on the valley floor and began a a prolonged firefight with the enemy.

Eventally our superior numbers began to tell and the Russians' fire lessened. With their command and control in chaos their reinforcements failed to arrive and we managed to secure the heights.

Bloody Picnic are a pretty traditional ruleset based on General de Brigade. but neither of us were sure whether the scenario properly tested the rules and so another outing may well be in order.

Wargames Weekend: Carson Smith and the Tomb of the Prophet

Our first game of day two was an adaptation of a Pulp scenario for the Too Fat Lardies' Through the Mud & the Blood. Lenin made a few alterations to the original to reflect the figures he had available and so whilst I played to type taking the part of Doctor Zyklon and the forces of EFLUENT, the Evil Forces League for a United Empire of Nepotism and Terror; Lenin took the part of Carson Smith, the famous archeologist, and FLANGE the Forces of the League of Associated Nations for Government by Enlightenment. In this instance FLANGE was represented by Commander Tom Collins and the brave sailors from the USS Sangria. Their mission was to shadow Dr. Zyklonʼs expedition through the bush and establish just what it was he is seeking in Darkest Africa.

Of course as Dr. Zyklon, I knew exactly what I was seeking - an ancient stone of power revealed in the ancient scripts that I had recently ʻacquiredʼ from the Moscow Imperial Institute in the last days of 1917.

Only having vague guidance from the ancient scripts I first ventured into a nearby native village to see if I could extract any help from the locals.

Meanwhile Carson Smith tried to locate the tomb before us. As we surrounded the village Sturm-Leutnant Anatolya and his men spotted a group from the Sangria. One of the advantages of playing the baddies is the ability to shoot first and ask questions (using the appropriate tools) later. So it was first blood to EFLUENT.

Dr. Zyklon and Sturm-Major Werner von Blott quickly established the location of the tomb but with more sailors from the Sangria coming into view a more defensive strategy seemed prudent. Of course I ordered Sturm-Leiter Bulgarov and his men to secure our flank. Unfortunately he ran into yet more of the Sangria crew and another firefight ensued in the jungle.

Whilst we were dealing with the US sailors, Carson Smith was taking his native allies to locate the tomb.

Taking care of the opposition took a little while and that gave Dr. Smith the chance to excavate the tomb and decypher the inscriptions. Of course having dealt with most of the opposition I had one of my teams keep him under observation and once he had entered the tomb and retrieved the stone we moved in and surrounded him. Dr. Smith had little choice but to hand over the artifact but swore revenge!

Wargames Weekend: Follow that Camel!

Next up was another outing for Two Hour Wargames' Colonial Adventures - mainly so I could use my Redoubt French Foreign Legion and my new desert fort.

Legion Brief
There have been signs of a major uprising coming (and not as a result of the poor food). The local Tuareg leaders Sheikh Yerbouti and Sheikh Yermahni have been gathering their forces and the Legion garrison at Fort Zuassantneuf is now under attack. Supplies and ammunition is running low. Their only hope is the arrival of a supply column...

I made Lenin roll for his officers' Reps which produced some interesting results.

With the fort under attack and supplies running low Captain Clouseau was keen to ensure the supply column reached the fort. So he took a patrol out to meet it, leaving Sergeant Frakov in command of the fort.

No sooner had Clouseau left the fort than some hidden Tuareg cavalry charged from behind the oasis; but some quick thinking from the Captain and the iron discipline of the Legion saw them fight off the Tuaregs who were forced to flee having taken significant casualties.

Meanwhile the supply column under the inept Lieutenant Le Pice and the charismatic Sergeant "Beau" Nydell had a brief false alarm when they thought they had spotted a possible enemy force but it turned out to be a mirage. Their relief was short lived as they had only advanced a short way when they spotted some of the enemy for real and came under rifle fire.

The Lieutenant decided to hunker down and shoot it out with the Tuaregs. Meanwhile Captain Clouseau and his patrol were slogging their way through the desert to the sound of the rifle fire. On their way the patrol spotted the main Tuareg force under Sheikh Yerbouti on their way to seize the supplies.

Unfortunately the greater speed of the Tuareg camelry meant they reached the column first and after a desperate struggle the column were all killed or captured.

On his way Clouseau came across the group of enemy riflemen and engaged them. His men were holding their own until Sheikh Yerbouti and his men - fresh from seizing the supplies arrived. After initially seeing them off the Legion began to withdraw to the fort. But the Sheikh rallied his men and ran the Legion patrol down.

After yet another desperate last stand the patrol were killed and Captain Clouseau left to the tender mercies of the Tuareg.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Wargames Weekend: Blunte's Battery

After having to reschedule our last weekend, Lenin once again popped over for a few games. We started with a 28mm Napoleonic game set in the Peninsular campaign using the Too Fat Lardies' Sharp Practice rules and Front Rank figures. The British brief was as follows:

The French army has taken up positions on a ridge directly in the path of the British advance. Ahead of your position they have occupied the village of Villar Formoso and set up an artillery battery on the edge of the village. If it is brought into action this battery will command the entire flank of the British assault on the ridge.

Your orders are to take part of the light company of the North Essex and seize the French battery at dawn in a coup de main thus allowing the main British assault on the ridge to proceed.

Captain Richard Blunte, Status III
A jolly good chap an average stamp but no looker. He has never done anyone harm and started life as an urchin from the Orphanage. He is a fair hand with a sword but a novice in the saddle. An honourable and lion hearted man he is nevertheless somewhat lecherous and know as a ladies man.

Lieutenant Harry Pryce-Waterhouse, Status II
Sergeants Smith and Jones, both Status I
Forty men of the light company who are good troops

Sergeant O'Leary, Status II
Ten riflemen who are good troops and include two Chosen Men

The Game
The British assaulted the ridge at dawn but the French sentries managed to spot the riflemen as they started to cross the river at the base of the ridge. fortunately the redcoats fared better and managed to get somewhat closer to the French position before being spotted.

The French took some time to respond to the alarm and Blunte seized the initiative taking on one French group whilst they were still in their billet. The French artillery crews initially rushed out of their billet but quickly had second thoughts as their comrades came under volley fire.

An assault on the the building with the first French group caused several casualties and forced them to withdraw pursued by the British.

The remaining British troops under Lieutenant Pryce-Waterhouse discovered the French Captain Camembert ensconced in the church and immediately attacked. After an initial firefight the British assaulted the French position and eventually pushed the French out of the church; however, after a couple of counterattacks the French recaptured it but suffered heavy casualties in the process.

In the meantime the French artillery crews had regained their nerve and tried to reach their guns but came under heavy fire and were forced to withdraw.

Captain Camembert decided it was time to drive the British from the ridge. He regrouped his men and made a last ditch charge. The attack started well but under the coordinated fire from the various British groups it faltered and the day went to Blunte and his men.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Why I Don't Like Rules with Saving Throws

What the hell is he on about? - you may ask, but I just don't like rules with saving throws. My main gripe is that they usually don't tell you why they included a saving throw mechanism in the rule mechanics. Now I can come up with post event rationalisations for most things, and there are reasons why saving throws might be appropriate, but I often think they've just been included due to the limitations of using the d6.

So you can probably justif saving throws where they represent armour or cover, you could also include them as a way of representing defending in a melee combat but including them in 18th or 19th Century rules as part of a fire combat mechanism just mystifies me. I suppose you could argue it does give the inactive player something to do but the net result is pretty damned frustrating for the active player and that's not a good result (paeticularly when the inactive player doesn't know why he's actually rolling any dice!)

However, being a deeply flawed and cynical individual I think it's probably more to do with the fact that the people writing the rules are used to the saving throw mechanic as opposed to there being any actual logic behind it. Or if it was really thought about it was just to address the way probability works when modifying d6 results - if that's the reason then use a die with more sides would be a better option IMHO!

Anyway, there it is and so now you know why (a) none of the rules I write has a saving throw mechanic (although if I did ever use one I would tell people what it was intended to represent!) and (b) why none of my favourite rules has it either. Alternatively I could just be too damn picky or just p,ain old bonkers - I'll leave you to figure that out...

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