Sunday, 27 January 2013

WSS: Beneath the Lily Banners 2nd Game

Here are a few photos from a solo game of Beneath the Lily Banners I played last week:

The game began with the French defending and the Allied forces attacking.  The French decided to use their cavalry on the right wing to sweep away the Allied horse.

Unfortunately, due partly to the classification of the horse (blade vs bullet) and some rather awful dice rolling the French horse came off rather badly.

The British advanced and poured musket fire into the French front rank and whilst the French charged forward to try to break the Allies they were unsuccessful and the melee saw the French front line collapse with the Allies having sufficient reinforcements to take advantage.

I managed to identify and correct some of the things I wasn't playing quite right in the previous game (mostly allowing morale modifiers incorrectly).   I am getting the hang of the rules now but I'm not yet convinced they'll be the rules of choice for this period for me.  For two player games I'm still more interested by Maurice and I'd like to try out another set for multiplayer as a comparison.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Montrose Irish - Advancing

I've just finished my first Irish unit for my Montrose collection:

The figures are from Redoubt and the flag is from Project Auldearn 1645

Friday, 18 January 2013

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Tomorrow's War: Lost & Found

I managed to get down to the local club on Saturday and was lucky enough to get a couple of games of Tomorrow's War in. Both games were really introductory ones for a few club members who had "invested" in the rules but yet to get them to the table.

You'll have to forgive the poor quality of the photos as I managed to forget my real camera and had to rely on the rather ropey one in my blackberry.

The first games was one of the sample scenarios, Lost & Found, from the rule book.  An Interface Fighter flying close support for the USMC has suffered a catastrophic engine failure and the pilot has been forced to bail out over contested territory.  The Marines need to go and rescue him.

For some bizarre reason (possibly because I had played before) I ended up in command of the Democratic People's Republic of Glory (DPRG) forces.  So I decided to stand back and survey the strategic situation whilst allowing my subordinates to experience the realities of war.

The game began slowly with the players getting to grips with the mechanisms.  The USMC advanced slowly through the jungle but eventually had to break cover.  A firefight broke out and after a couple of rounds of firing the USMC fire team came off worst.

It was at this point that the USMC player morale nearly broke with them disputing how they could possibly cover the open ground to the building where the pilot was hiding without getting wiped out.  But they persevered and began to realise that the initial firefight had gone our way in large part due to the exceptional dice rolling of the DPRG player.  More firefights ensued and we took most of the casualties; however, it delayed the USMC enough to gain us a (very) minor victory.

Having learned a lot from the initial game another was set up but with some power armour and a vehicle on each side to test those elements of the rules.  This time I swapped sides and joined the USMC (but not in command this time).  It was a meeting engagement with holding the large building in the centre of the table being the objective.

Power armour proved to be very interesting as the squad on each side decided to face off against one another.  Troop Quality ended up being decisive in that encounter!

The USMC had an APC in support which proved very useful.  The vehicle is one of the soon to be released additions to the excellent Brigade Models range.


The game ended with a USMC victory this time.

You can find another account and some much, much better pictures on the Brigade Models blog.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

First Play: A World Aflame - Richester Rescue

Four our first tabletop game of 2103 we decided to give A World Aflame it's first real outing.  When I took my first look at these I wasn't too sure how they would work out on the table and so this was a real chance to try them out.  I was also my first chance to get my new 4Ground buildings out.

I developed a scenario which followed on from our last game, Chuffy's Challenge, with Lenin, once again, taking the helm for the Anglian League alliance forces and me reprising my role as the guardians of law and order:

Following the engagement at Chuffnell Regis, Inspector Chisholm has taken his prisoner back to the new Police and BUF headquarters at Richester Castle. After the heavy fighting in and around Richester and their subsequent victory the fascist forces are feeling secure in their new stronghold.

Having allowed his verger, Mr Yeatman, to be captured, the Reverend Farthing is beside himself but is uncertain how to proceed. Fortunately, Dean Lionel Pugh-Critchley of St Ogg’s arrives and takes charge. He insists that Mr Yeatman cannot be left in the hands of the fascists and must be rescued. So contact is once again made with the local Kent Militia and the Cinque Ports T&GWU and a daring plan is hatched...

Not expecting an assault the garrison at Richester Castle had been reduced, with the Territorial unit normally stationed there having been sent out on a routine patrol, the castle was only manned by a small unit of Police and the local BUF.

When one of the sentries heard an ominous clanking sound the Police turned out but a storm rolled in and a torrential downpour began reducing visibility and making things generally unpleasant.

Meanwhile, the League supported by the Kent Militia under Mr Chomondley-Warner and the Cinque Ports T&GWU led by comrade Spanner, were stealthily advancing on the castle.  Well, a stealthily as they could given the union had brought along their latest toy - generously donated by their Soviet brothers - a T26!

With the League moving their forces into their assault positions which could be seen from the castle, at at that crucial moment, the bobbies on sentry duty decided they needed a brew and went inside.  With this stoke of good fortune the League moved into position unseen.  But when they were about to launch their assault they found that Inspector Chilholm had rounded his men up and got them back onto the ramparts!

A firefight broke out but the weight of the League fire, particularly their machine guns, took its toll on the Police and as their numbers shrank their morale cracked.

With this positive start to the assault, one of the T&GWU thought they might not be needed straight away and suggested that they pop off and celebrate the success of the attack at the local boozer (having only been paid the day before).

Despite the loss of the union men, the Kent militia pushed forward into the castle bailey.  There they found that the firefight had alerted the BUF, who had hastily taken up positions.

A brief exchange of fire saw Sergeant Blakey of the BUF catch a bullet and his mens' morale broke and they ran for the castle keep - closely pursued by the Militia.  Further firing from the Militia saw the BUF surrender and Commandant Spode, seeing the day was lost, decided to release Mr Yeatman on condition the League forces withdrew.
So that was our first game with A World Aflame.  Overall the rules worked reasonably well and the cards certainly helped with the narrative of the game.  However, the rules could certainly have benefitted from some more explanatory examples and felt a little rough around the edges.  It was clear that the morale system meant needing quite a few forces on the table as they could provide quite brittle and once a leader has been lost (which seemed a little too easy) it was a bit of a slippery slope with little chance of recovery.  The rules certainly have some things going for them and we may well give them another go.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

First Look: Deus Vult

The Medieval period and, in particular the Crusades, have long been of interest but it's another one where I have found it difficult to find a set of rules I was happy with for more than a skirmish.  So when I spotted that the new Deus Vult rules from Fireforge Games was in the NorthStar sale I ordered a copy.

The rules come as a hardback book, in the smaller Osprey size rather than the larger Black Powder format, they are 192 pages in colour and are split into 16 main sections.  The rules themselves are around 75 pages in a two column format interspersed with photos and art work with a side bar containing explanations and quotations.

The rules are written for 25-30mm figures and a 6' x 4' playing area for two players but there are specific sections which allow you to use different figure and table sizes along with more players.  Figures are intended to be individually based but on movement trays (to allow for casualty removal) with infantry on 20x20mm bases 6 to a stand (3x2) and cavalry 25x50mm 2 to a stand - but they also have suggestions as how to deal with differently based armies.

The rules are principally d6 based, although d4, d8, d10 and d12 are used for the leader duels.  In some cased you can end up rolling quite a few dice - which is great if you like that sort of thing!  Army lists are provided for the Early Crusader States 1100-1128AD and the Arab Dynasties 945-1150AD with some sample units for other eras (e.g. Teutonic Knights, Seljuk Turks) with the full lists coming in supplements to be release later.  

Armies are built in Divisions each commanded by a Battle Leader who is pretty crucial to their success although more from an activation and command basis; however, they do have some attributes which seem like they could be pretty handy.  There is an interesting pre-battle phase with the opportunity to using scouts to influence terrain and deployment and also to introduce some subterfuge which should add some interest value.

A set of seven different battle scenarios are provided covering everything from a stand up fight to an encirclement.  There is also a summary of the Crusades but not much detail on any of the battle unfortunately and an overview map.  This is followed by an almost blow by blow account of the fictional battle of Samosata, some advice on flexing the rules and creating new scenarios followed by a set of game aids and the reference section of the rules but no separate quick reference sheet.

I must be getting old but the small typeface and fonts used on the back cover and side bars (especially as it's white on dark brown) I found rather hard to read.  The rules themselves are relatively clear and the scenarios seem to have a good range of options.  I was initially put of by the points system but that's not a deal breaker for me as it is a useful tool for evaluating the relative power of different units and abilities.  There's some nice eye candy with the photographs and artwork which certainly provide some inspiration and the sample battle really helps to put the whole thing together.  I am really looking forward to giving these a try on the tabletop.

Amazingly enough this is actually my 500th post on the blog so that's another little milestone I've reached!

Monday, 7 January 2013

War Against Japan - The Next Round

Our next game, and our last tabletop wargame in 2012, was another outing for Nuts!  This time using the War Against Japan supplement.  Fortunately Lenin had a note of the forces from our last game and so this one was set up as a continuation.

Our mission was "Advance" and our objective was to move two-thirds of our beginning forces off the far end of the table; however, the sections must be free of potential and known enemy forces, and potential enemy forces and potential contacts had to be revealed.

Lenin advanced his squad on the left and I advanced mine in the centre.  Our arrival triggered some potential contacts and it was clear that we were going to have plenty to keep us busy.

Having taken some fire from a small group in a position half way across the table resulting in one of my men going down, we co-ordinated our fire and eliminated the threat.  Lenin then proceeded to advance toward the village.  Unfortunately it wasn't unoccupied!

The Japanese took cover in the buildings and it was clear that they would have to be assaulted in order to clear them out.  I took up covering positions and laid down some suppressive fire along with the MG team whilst Lenin threw some men forward with grenades.

The first building was quickly cleared and Lenin occupied it as a jumping off point for the assault on the next building.  Once again we laid down fire and he threw three men forward with grenades.  They managed to reach the building but one fumbled his grenade and had to hit the deck to avoid becoming a casualty.  The other grenades went in but the troops in this building were more stubborn and needed a second round.

Having taken possession of this second building I moved up to support Lenin.  It was then we encountered rather a large group of Japs advancing from the nearby gully.  After several engages our combined fire with the MG team started to take its toll and they were taking some serious casualties.  We then had to deal with the two fixed positions over to the right flank - combined fire once again began to tell.

I decided it was my turn to assault and advanced two men to grenade the gully.  They came under fire but managed to drop their grenades and dealt with the majority of the remaining Japs.

So we managed to complete the mission with only one dead and three further wounded.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

First Play: Beneath the Lily Banners (2nd ed)

As our next War of Spanish Succession game I decided to try out Beneath the Lily Banners (2nd ed).  Whilst we kept the same terrain as the previous Maurice game, we decided on more of a straight battle - so we evened up the forces and redeployed them.
Lenin retained his deployment from the previous game but I laid my troops out in a more traditional line (since there wasn't an objective to defend).  Once again infantry in the centre and cavalry/dragoons to the flanks with Lenin's artillery on the hill and mine dispersed between the infantry.

As with Maurice the game began slowly as we both got the hang of the rule mechanics.

Then Lenin decided to throw the dragoons on his right forward to try to outflank me.  Then he began to advance his infantry in the centre whilst we exchanged artillery fire.

I turned my dragoons to face the flanking threat and advanced my infantry to meet Lenin's.  The centre rapidly descended into a musketry battle with neither of us wanting to move into melee without a clear advantage.  With the British having the platoon firing advantage this wasn't exactly a plan designed to favour my side unfortunately!

Despite slowly taking casualties, our infantry morale held and we both decided to call a halt to the game for a rules post mortem.


We weren't quite sure what to make of the rules as we liked some elements of them but had a real concern that something wasn't right.  Obviously the order mechanism provides some interesting challenges (especially if your dice rolling is as unpredictable as mine) and some of the period elements made the game interesting (platoon vs rank firing) and it was clear that they would suit a multiplayer game more easily than Maurice.  But our overall conclusion was that I was doing something wrong with the moral rules as with the casualties being suffered from musketry we would have expected it to be easier for the units to fail their morale.  I fully intend to persevere with the rules and I am planning to set up another game and have another run through the rules to work out what went awry prior to our next proper encounter.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

First Play: Maurice

Our second game was a real play of Maurice using my recently completed War of Spanish Succession figures.  We opted to have a basic game to begin with so without National Advantages or Notables - leaving those for the next game.  Lenin took command of the British forces (attacking) and I took the French (defending).

We used the terrain generation from the rules.  Lenin picked the Urban card and, having rolled the dice, we both selected the low numbers so we ended up with a relatively clear table - two built up areas connected by a road with a hill and a wood.  The objective was then placed in the built up area on my side.  As the defender I deployed first with my two squadrons of dragoons on the left wing, my five battalions of infantry in the centre and the three cavalry squadrons on the right.  I made the huge mistake of splitting my three artillery batteries and placing in between the infantry units.  Lenin deployed his cavalry on his left, half the infantry to the left of the hill, all three artillery batteries on the hill itself, the remaining three battalions of infantry between the hill and the wood and his two squadrons of dragoons behind the woods.

Things began slowly with the British artillery bombarding my infantry for a couple of turns as Lenin familiarised himself with the rules and the cards.  Then he advanced the three battalions of infantry on his left.  I decided to threaten the infantry with my cavalry, Lenin responded and so a cavalry clash ensued.  I thought I would have the upper hand as I had the Stirrups In card but Lenin also had it!

Unfortunately lady luck wasn't with me and the cavalry melee saw my squadrons being pushed back.  In the following round the front two broke.  I threw my final squadron in and had a little better luck but eventually they broke too - leaving Lenin free to advance his infantry on his left.

To try to hold the infantry on his right flank I advanced my dragoons.  My initial charge was repulsed but the dragoons reformed and charged again but were thrown back again.  The tactic was only being partially successful as the front battalion of infantry engaged me whilst the two behind formed column and advanced to the centre of the field.

With my left flank hanging due to the loss of my cavalry I moved my reserve infantry to plug the gap whilst Lenin pushed all his infantry forward.

My artillery bombardments were pretty ineffective as I couldn't co-ordinate them having split them up and so the British came on.  Musketry was exchanged followed by the British charging in.  My battalions held and threw the British back.  They came on again and were repulsed again but one of my units broke.  I decided to counter attack but lady luck deserted me once again and my attack was unsuccessful.  Fortunately, I was saved by the failing light and the British were forced to withdraw.


Maurice played pretty well, although I think leaving out the National Advantages was a mistake as Lenin was concerned about the "flavour" being missing (and thus being more at the game end of the game/simulation spectrum).  The game started slowly as we both got the hang of things but picked up after that and had a nice ebb and flow.  It certainly provides some real challenges with you wanting to keep cards for their effects but needing them for their span.  The game was really close with my army morale down to two and Lenin's down to one (at least in part due to my sharpshooters taking out some hero on his side!) - and darkness ending the game.  We're certainly going to give these another outing.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Marshes of Mount Liang

Lenin came over for the New Year and we managed to get a few games in before the old year was out. The first was our first play of Hail Caesar using Lenin's latest acquisition - some Sun Chinese.

The outlaws of Liangshan (Lenin) thought they are safely protected by the treacherous marshes that surrounded their mountain hideout; however Governor Kao Chiu (me) had discovered a secret route through the marshes and decided to take the traitors by surprise!

There were, in fact, two paths each passing through the jungle, across a ford into the marshes to another river crossing - on one case another ford and in the other a bridge.  I decided to split my forces, half the infantry and my light troops down the first path and my remaining infantry and cavalry down the second.

The infantry force managed to cross the first ford without incident and advanced into the marshes; however, my second group found their ford to be defended.  With the crossing being relatively wide and shallow, I formed up my cavalry and charged across, spray flying, into the traitor's skirmishers.

The skirmishers fired their bows and formed up before I smashed into them.  But they were no match for my cavalry who charged them down and captured their leader.

Having cleared the way my second force began to advance.  It was clear that both the next ford and the bridge were both defended and by more than just some skirmishers!  With Lenin forming up his cavalry to enable them to cross the bridge, I decided to hold my cavalry back ready to charge him.  He spotted the danger and held his cavalry before they crossed the bridge.  I advanced my supporting infantry and we began to exchange crossbow fire across the river.

At the other ford I had my infantry form up but they came under a hail of crossbow bolts from the temple ruins on the other side.  My light troops were taking casualties but I managed to concentrate enough fire to eliminate one of the enemy units.

Seeing the danger at the ford, Lenin reformed his cavalry and moved them across to it.  Then he readied them and charged across the ford into one of my infantry units.

I wasn't as easy meat as his skirmishers had been and his charge faltered.  He regrouped and charged again but to no avail.  With my crossbow fire taking its toll his units began to fail and the day was ours!


Hail Caesar is, as we expected much like Black Powder in a number of respects (for good or ill depending on your perspective); however, it is different in a number of areas and this made the rules a little slower to pick up than we had expected.  As with Black Powder the rules are intended for big, relatively quick games and, as such, certain choices have been made.  I felt the rules didn't have enough flavour to them - but that's an entirely personal perspective and I'm generally biased against rules which try to cover the whole "ancients period" - but I can see them being a useful set to have where you don't have a more period specific set.