05 February 2017

Finally: A Game of Sharp Practice 2

Yesterday, I finally got to play a game of Sharp Practice 2. I had refereed a game last summer but had yet to play. Myself and Mike got together at the Hobby Bunker to play an 1811 Napoleonic game. I believe Mike has played several times and has put on games at various cons over the last 6 months so he was pretty acquainted with the rules. It took me a several turns to get them down but about half way through the game I was pretty comfortable with them and the game moved quickly.

Mike has a very nice British force table ready and is getting a French force painted, I also believe he is painting up both sides for the Indian Mutiny. I had to supply the French, it was a bit of a scramble to get ready as although I had some residual troops left from my major 28 mm Napoleonic sell off, they were not based. It was interesting as some of the figures were some of the first I painted 10 years ago when I was starting out in the hobby. They were pretty rough, hopefully I will get around to touching them up. Mike's troops were spectacular mostly Front Rank painted by Dan Dunbar, of Gunnar's Wargaming in Australia. This will all work out well for future games as I do also have a pretty good British force, so for Napoleonics anyway we will both be able to supply our own figures for a variety of games. I always have felt that I play best with my own troops!

Mike brought all the terrain and the mat which was quite nice. We played scenario 1 from the book which is a straight forward encounter between two forces with victory to the side which forces his opponent off the table by withdrawal or morale failure. We diced for Force Morale and Supports, we were both 10 on Force Morale and I had 10 supports and Mike 9. I believe Mike's core force was 62 points and mine 61.

British Force
3 Groups of  Line Infantry (Status III Leader)
2 Groups of Line Highlanders (Status II Leader)
1 Group of Skirmish Light Infantry (Status II Leader)
I think Mike spent his supports on extra leaders

French Force
3 Groups of Line Voltiguers/Grenadiers (Status III Leader)
2 Groups of Skirmish Voltiguers (Status II Leader)
1 Group of Skirmish Voltiguers (proxy dismounted dragoons) (Status II Leader)
My supports included a Musician, and extra fixed deployment point and a group of Kirmess Voltiguers.

On to the game:

Our set up this is looking from the French left flank
Initial dispositions, I place my line troops in a single 3 group formation and 2 groups of skirmishers to  my right flank. Mike place 3 groups of his line troops in formation behind the wall.
I decide to send my skirmishers to the right in an attempt to flank Mikes troops. They run so take a shock for each group. 
Mike brings on his Highlanders to protect his left flank.
A firefight opens up in the middle between our line troops, I am lucky with my dice, Mike less lucky with his. I think Mike had little better card play than I, his command cards appeared regularly and his leader cards popped up with more regularity than mine. We also found that the tiffin card came up severally in the first 3 draws, so we had quite a few turns. I cleverly place my third formation of skirmishers on a hill so they can fire over my line troop's head but alas I was not so clever as they were out of range.
I slowly advance my troops with the hope that by the time we engage in fisticuffs, I have whittled down the British  line and inflicted lots of shock. Mike brings on his skirmishers on his right flank.  
I advance my skirmishers and I now have 3 formations firing on Mike's line troops.................
.............it works as the British line starts to crumble, one group withdraws, the other 2 are teetering  and although the British Highlanders and Light Infantry are largely intact, the French have punched a hole through the British centre and the British withdraw. A French victory.
Well I have to say I quite enjoyed the game, it certainly appears to have little less complexity of command choice than Chain of Command, but just as much friction. They say the game is a meld of Chain of Command and Dux Brit, taking the best from each game; I can only agree. I will look forward to more games.

18 January 2017

This Very Ground: A FIW Game

I had a very nice game last night in Montreal at Iannick's. It was a bit of spur of the moment, as I was up to see the Habs play the Penguins tonight at the Bell Centre. As an aside, I believe that my attendance of games at the Bell Centre may be a bad omen for the Canadiens, as they have lost the last 5 games I have attended. The last victory I personally attended was against the Bruins in the 2015 playoffs. But enough of negative thinking let's get back to wargaming.

We have played a number of FIW games over the last several years, most recently with Sharp Practice 2 and Muskets and Tomahawks. I have not had a really chance to explore SP2 yet, I did referee a game last summer but have never played myself. I suspect that this will be corrected soon as Mike is quite keen to get some games in. I like Muskets and Tomahawks in general but I do not like the melee function, it just makes no sense to me. We had played several games 3-4 years ago with the This Very Ground ruleset from Iron Ivan games, but they got passed by as we were testing M&T. 

I found last night that it is quite a nice ruleset, we picked up the rules quite easily and had a very easy game after the first couple of turns without hardily any reference to the book. Movement, Firing and Melee were all quite simple and utilize d10's which is nice. There is a Morale system and order of play in each turn is decided by an Initiative Roll that does add some friction. There is an excellent review of the ruleset on Anatoli's Game Room, I have to say this blog is an excellent source of reviews.

Anyway on to the game. The rulebook has several scenarios, I have forgotten the name of the scenario we played, but essentially  Rangers had to stop a band of Indians from escaping off the table after they attacked a small colonial outpost. There were three 5 man units of Rangers with an Officer against four 5 man units of Indians with a Warleader. The Indians started on one end of a 6x4' table while the Rangers were at the other end. The victory conditions were a little fuzzy but essentially the Rangers had to kill as many Indians as possible including the Warleader. I played the Rangers and Iannick took the Indians. The game follows in photos.

Iannick's Indians moving out from the settlement. You can just see the Indian Warleader in blue warpaint to the right in the photo. Of course Iannick is going to use sky blue whenever he gets a chance!
Very cautiously moving through the trees, there was lot of cover. They had to be careful as the Rangers were armed with rifles (25" range) while they were armed with muskets (15" range). Both were also armed with hatchets.

Dank's Rangers have climbed a hill in order to get a better LOS to fire at the enemy, you will notice my figures are quite shiny. I have not gone old school! When I got back from Montreal last summer, I noticed that I was getting some loss of paint so I decided to re-varnish all my FIW miniatures. I forgot I did this and only noticed that I had forgotten to apply matt varnish when I was packing up the figures Monday evening.
Gorham's Rangers with the Major Joseph Gorham.
They are getting close.

The Rangers get into some hard cover.
An inattentive Major Gorham focused on afar, misses that he is about to be attacked by 2 Indians. The Indians although weak in marksmanship are vicious in melee and he is all done. The Rangers are left leaderless.

Another band of Indians move into attack Dank's Rangers, but their courage fails 3 times to close to contact!

Gotham's Rangers move into position and with Dank's Rangers are able take out with volley fire 2 units of Indians on the Rangers right flanks, but what is happening on their left flank..................

Roger's Rangers have been driven back as they have exhausted their fire ability after multiple volleys. They have taken out 3 of the 10 Indians but it is not enough and the Indians with their Warleader move off the table as the Rangers yield. 
So it was a marginal victory to Iannick, I certainly killed many of the Indians and he had quite a number of rout markers while I had none but he did get 7-8 of his figures off the table as well as his Warleader. It was a fun game with a nice set of rules. Although I am keen to play FIW SP2, a significantly larger numbers of figures would be required. For less than 25 figures per side, this is an excellent ruleset and I can recommend it without reservation.

07 January 2017

6th Panzer Division Winter 1941-42

The last few weeks have been quite busy for me with Xmas, work etc etc and aside from a few games I have had very little time for painting. I have repainted and painted some armour for Stalingrad project to add to my Panzergrenadier force. I was quite keen to do some vehicles with Panzer Grey.

My vehicle selection is based on the support list from the Winterstorm campaign from TFL written for Chain of Command. More German vehicles for mid-war were added to the arsenal in the most recent TFL Xmas Special. They are all 1/72 Plastic Soldier Company aside from the StuG which is Armourfast.

I went with vehicle markings for the 6th Panzer Division of the Wehrmacht. This unit fought through the war mostly on the Eastern Front, and was heavily involved in Kursk and the attempt to lift the siege on Stalingrad.

The vehicles were airbrushed with VMC Panzer Grey and then highlighted with a second airbrush of 2/3 Panzer Grey with white. The details were painted after some stowage was added. I then painted them with Army Painter and the decals were applied. To seal the decals I added another coat of Army Painter then added the dirt and rust effects and finally sprayed them with matt varnish. I thought about doing some snow effects but decided against it as it limits their utility. I will sprinkle some snow on at game time.
Traveling through the forest

Sd.Kfz. 250/9 List 4

Marder III (Sd.Kfz. 139) List 6

StuG III Ausf.G (Sd.Kfz 142/1) List 8

Pz III Ausf. J (Sd.Kfz.141) List 5

Pz IV Ausf. F2 (Sd.Kfz. 161) List 7
I am quite pleased how they came out and they are a nice addition to my force. I am hoping no-one will be too offended (I suspect some will but that was not my intention for sure) by the swastika aerial identification flags but they certainly add to the model. 

2016 in Review

I have really enjoyed reading all the review posts on your blogs. 

It was really an enormous year for me in respect to the fact that I got rid of all my 28mm Napoleonics and successfully acquired a replacement 18 mm AB miniatures for an Allied and French Army. I have 3 divisions for each as well as a Spanish Division. I got in quite a lot of campaigning with CoC finishing off the Falaise Gap campaign and getting the Operation  Martlet campaign started. It says a lot for gamers in that my opponent for CoC lives in the state of Rhode Island but despite that, we have both been able to commute between the Massachusetts and RI to keep these campaigns going. Thank you Mike, you are a great gamer and a real gentleman. I suspect we will have more CoC gaming and I know Mike is just chomping at the bit to start a Sharpe Practice 2 campaign.

I also got in quite a lot of SAGA, especially in the second half of the year. This is really a great game and a lot of fun to play. I have been playing SAGA plus some other games with another great gamer Adam, with whom I have a fairly regular Thursday evening session. Another real gentlemen and there is nothing that he does not know about gaming in general. I sometimes wonder if he is acquainted with every ruleset known to man!

Gaming in Montreal has unfortunately slowed down although I must of spend at least 2 months there in 2016. We did get some gaming in July which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately many of my trips back and forth are during the week rather than the weekend which makes it a little difficult to set up games. But I am sure myself and Iannick will get together in the near future. I bought a portable gaming system (table and mat) from the Czech Republic a couple of months ago, I am hoping to convince my kids to take it up in their car when they return home to Montreal tomorrow. This will hopefully increase the options for gaming.

My biggest disappointment for the year was the failure of the Napoleonic variant of CoC to get off the ground. I invested quite a lot of time in this ruleset and although it needed a little work, I thought it was a great set of rules with excellent mechanisms of movement, firing and combat. It did need more work on Command and Control, I felt it was quite close but it appears the designer has chosen to pack it in.

Plans for 2017

I am sure I will continue more CoC gaming and hope to get some both some Winter and Jungle terrain gaming in. I have very nice Finnish, Soviet and German forces for the winter and I have commissioned an American force which I hope to see in the next couple of months. I also have a nice Japanese force and pretty well have completed a USMC force for the jungle. If I get the opportunity, I plan to start an Australian force to add to this WWII theatre.

Next up, is to become acquainted with Sharp Practice 2 ruleset, and maybe start a campaign. I have French and British Napoleonic forces in 28 mm all set to go as well as a pretty comprehensive British force for the French Indian Wars.

I am looking forward to David Brown's new ruleset for Napoleonics that should be out soon, I am just hoping that it has a good command and control core with simple mechanisms, this would make up for my disappointment with GBCoC. If I was a conspiracy theorist I think I might believe that the demise of GBCoC and this new Napoleonic set from TFL publishing was some how linked. I am also hoping to have a look at his ACW set that was just published, Pickett's Charge.

I would like to start another campaign for Thursday evenings, hint hint Adam! We had a great ACW campaign with Longstreet and a even better Dark Ages campaign with Dux Britaniarum.

And I suppose I should stop waxing poetic and go paint some figures for the Analogue Hobbies Challenge! I do have some figures partially painted but having great difficulty getting to the painting table.

14 December 2016

French Recruits

A couple of days ago I received the latest recruits for my French Napoleonic force. These were painted by Big Battalions in Thailand. They really do an excellent job and I can recommend them without reservation. With this addition I have completed my core force for the French. Although we see most units in pre-bardin uniform the OB is from Salamanca 1812. I have also had the opportunity to obtain Flagdude standards for the force.

Old Guard Grenadiers, Chasseurs and 3/13e legere.
French Cavalry and Infantry Colonels
A unit of French Horse Artillery
1,2 27e ligne
1,2,3 50e ligne
I was missing a few figures for my British Peninsular force, so I got these painted as well.
12th Portuguese Caçadores
British Cavalry Colonels
As you can see Big Battalions do a nice job right down to the bases, all the figures are on metal bases so they are stored in magnetized drawers. I am very pleased.

My French force, 30 battalions with command stands and 2 artillery batteries, I still have some work to do on my cavalry force basing so I will post those separately
Foy's 1e Division with the 6e legere, and the 69e ligne in Chemineau's brigade and the 39e ligne and 76 ligne in Desgravier's brigade. Colonels for each regiments as well as a ADC for Foy. 
Clausel's 2e Division with the 25e legere as well 27e ligne in Berlier's brigade. Barber's Brigade has the 50e and 59e  ligne
An 1810 Guard force with 2 units of Old Guard and 3 units of Young Guard
Four Regiments Etranger as well as the 13e legere
I think that will do it for now with the French, I may add some Germans and Swiss but that will be in the distant future, if at all (I did get some Flagdude standards just in case!)

12 December 2016

Martlet: Pushing On

We played our 4th game in the Marlet campaign this past Saturday, again at the Hobby Bunker. This was scenario 3 (Attack and Defend) from the book and scenario 2 in the campaign. This is quite a different game from the first scenario as there is no specific objective and the terrain was quite busy with very little clear LOS and a lot of cover.

British approach in the far ground, the only direct LOS is down the asphalt road. The forests block LOS even from the second story windows of the houses.
Final position of the Patrol Markers, you can see my new dice.
Position of the JOPs. I believe I should have been a little more aggressive in my push forward, as you can see the German JOPs are barely in front of the their start line.
Game 4:
Mike got 10 and I got 8 on Force Morale. This is low starting FM for the British has been a continued handicap. Mike is +3 on his FM throw and I am -1, so it will continue.

British Supports (16):
2" Mortar
German Supports (8):
Forward Observer
Rifle Team

We both started this game with depleted platoons, I was missing 8 men and Mike 2. We had gone 4 games and I was just starting on table 2, this is going to be a tough campaign for me to win. To get a marginal victory, I have to take  6 tables by turn 11 (we added a turn on the first day due to errors that favoured the Germans).  So I have 1 table at turn 4! I decided to not take an extra infantry and more to rely on Armour. I thought Mike might take an extra Panzer IV, guessed wrong. Mike decided to buttress his panzergrenadier squads with riflemen.

My new dice served me relatively well in this game, but unfortunately at the wrong times. I got 6 free moves with my patrol markers, I think I could have been a little more aggressive with my push forward but I wanted my advance to be on a broad front.

In the first several throws of the Command Dice, I got 3 double sixes, but unfortunately this was of little value in this Attack and Defend game as Mike had a lot of difficulty getting his troops on the table because of the British Artillery Barrage. Lots of moves but to where, there were no German units to attack. I probably could of captured a JOP but this was of little value early in the game as I did not have a Chain of Command dice. All the German JOP's were in exposed positions and close together which would have made them hard to hold on to.

Notwithstanding this, I advanced one section up the road under the cover of smoke and easily captured the central compound. I also deployed my Bren team with a JL in the barn which had the JOP in it. There was one slit which allowed a clear LOS up the dirt road to the forest where I suspect Mike would deploy his troops.

Mike deployed his Panzer IV on his left flank, so I deployed my Firefly. Twelve d6 vs 6d6 (should be a piece of cake), I had 3 shots at the Panzer IV, hit it each time and the best I could do was equal hits!  Mike fires back at the Firefly, kaboom, down 2 FM. I bring on my Sherman, again I hit it twice, again no damage. The Panzer fires back, and hits the damn thing twice, Shock forces the crew to abandon the tank and now my FM is down to 5.

Mike has now advanced his FO and one panzergrenadier squad through the forest on his right flank, I manage to cause some shock and wound a JL, we fire back and forth, my section is the first to get pinned, as he now gets some double 6's on his command throws. He also gets of his off table mortar which envelopes two of my JOP's. I have one section in reserve and he has 2 squads in reserve.

Decision time...........I use my one Chain of Command dice to end the turn and withdraw my troops successfully. I have only lost 3 men and Mike one, but I can see that I am not going to be able to force the Germans off the table. Another German victory. 
Section 1 deploys..........
..........and gamely advances up the road under cover of smoke
Panzergrenadiers advancing with FO
The section gets stuck in but get pinned first by the PGs.
This Panzer IV was indestructible
First time the Firefly has seen a game and up it goes.
The German off table mortar closes off the centre of the table.
Mike played a great game and really stymied my advance. I could whine about losing both tanks but that is how it is, I do not think my plan was bad. If I took out the Panzer IV I would have been able to advance both tanks up my right flank. We are hoping to get our next game in the first week of January, I really need to get off table 2 and only have 7 more turns left to move through 5 tables! Mike's +4 throw on the FM is going to continue to be a real killer.