18 May 2015

Chronica Iohannes: Raid at Heaðuswát Cirice & Some Holiday Snaps!

Time for bit of an update. The last three weeks have been quite busy for me and I have had little wargaming aside from this past weekend. At the end of April, I had to make an unexpected trip to pack up my daughter's flat in Montreal. We had the lease until the end of June but her immersion programme finished the end of March and thankfully the landlord allowed her to terminate the lease early if he could find another tenant, which he did quite quickly. I had never used a storage facility before, they are really quite handy and they gave us a free truck to move. Pretty good deal really, but I am not looking forward to moving her into her new flat in August. I have told her no more moves! We then went on a vacation to Europe with my wife's family and both my son and daughter. The family stayed in Paris, but my wife and I took off to Bruges for a couple of days. Well worth the trip and I really got to learn a lot about beer. Both kids really enjoyed Paris and my daughter is already talking about moving there from Montreal to further her Fashion Design aspirations. We got back to Montreal on Thursday and then had to drive to Massachusetts. I had promised some time ago to provide terrain and troops for the  Hougoumont Scenario for the Boston Trained Bands Waterloo game for Huzzah, so Saturday I had to get up early, pack 22 battalions of French and 5 battalions of Allies as well as all the necessary terrain for a 6x8' table and drive to Portland, Maine. More about that later but time to catch up with our Dux Brit campaign. 

Our last game was on the 23rd of April. We played the church raid scenario, the Saxon player gets to pick whether we play a raid or a battle and Adam decided to go with a raid, a d6 was thrown to select the raid. By now the Saxons had a string of victories and had captured one of my three provinces, I really needed a victory. As usual you can find an excellent AAR with photos on Adams blog, the Fencing Frog.

This is a tough raid for the Saxons, I got a fairly good starting position and the Saxons started on the far side of a stream (it would of killed them if it was a river). I was quite hamstrung though by the position of the church as it ended up being placed next to a swamp which really hurt my ability to use my levy in shieldwall (they are really quite useless unless thus protected).

It was a brutal battle with heavy losses on both sides, but as you can see I was able to gain a 4+ victory so gained 2 gold and 2 warriors. Additionally the Saxons lost two of their nobles. The campaign is now as follows, we are hoping to have our next game this Thursday. I believe neither of us are tiring of the campaign, it really is very well designed.
I thought I would also add a few photos from our trip, I add non gaming stuff to my blog once a year and it has been a couple of years so I will allow myself this indulgence.

My daughter Jane and her Aunt Wendy in front of guess what!
My son Simon
It was my wife's father 70th birthday the alleged reason for the trip
Made it to the top of yet another church, this time the Sacré Coeur in Montmatre
Two excellent beers in Bruges
Tasty
Bruges is quite beautiful
The Bell Tower in Bruges, it had even more steps than Sacré Coeur
The Romantick Pand Hotel
Even Jennifer was convinced to drink Belgian Beer
Pre Moulin Rouge snaps  
Simon enjoyed the Moulin Rouge!
Do I look French? 
Sisters in the Rain
Back to Bruges, I did make it to the top
Well worth a visit
My beautiful wife

19 April 2015

Leadership

It seems I seldom post my painted work now. Most of my posts are more towards the wargaming related activities rather then painting. I still paint though but really it is much more directed to need then previous. My recent foray into the General Bonaparte meets Chain of Command revealed a need for more mounted colonels. I have lots of Prussians but had to order some Austrians and Brunswickers from Perry. I also needed some Dark Age cavalry leaders for my Men of the North. These are from Footsure Miniatures and are quite nice.

Four colonels from Calpe. I am not sure why most of their leaders look left!
Most of my Prussian force are modeled around the 100 Days Campaign
From R to L: Oberst von Reckow IR21-4th Pomeranian, Oberst von Bismark 1st Landwehr of Elbe, Oberstleutnant von Wienskowski IR23-2nd Upper Silesian,  Major von Koschkull IR18-3rd West Prussian
The Champion Cyneric and Legatus Antoninus

The photos were taken overexposed, which I must say is harder to correct then those taken underexposed. Well I am doing my somewhat regular review of my Napoleonic troops, I have become quite curious on how many I have actually painted. I am laying them all out on table, hopefully have some new photos soon.

12 April 2015

Chronica Iohannes: Raid at Grene Torr

We had our tenth battle in our Dux campaign last Thursday and it now seems like ages since the Britons have won a game.

We decided to play a raid for a change, specifically the Baggage Train scenario. This is the first time we played this specific raid and it was quite fun. Essentially the Britons had to move a 3 wagon train across the length of terrain. The Saxons had their start on top of the train and it almost looked like the game was going to be over before it started. Fortunately I had some good cards in my Fate Hand at the start of the game and I was able to forestall a 3 unit attack on the train.

As usual there are photos and a full action report on the Fencing Frog blog. Things looked quite good after the initial blocking of the attack on the baggage train and I was able to move the train up the board. The Saxons however are quite fleet-footed and were able to grab one cart soon after.

My problem now was to try to withdraw my troops in good order while protecting the remaining two carts. I was able to do this with some success by sacrificing my Elites (what else is new). By now I had whittled down the Saxon forces while preserving my own. Each morale test was costing me though and soon I was down to a morale of 1. Another shuffle of the cards was made, and really it was down to which noble's card game up first. Cards turned...........Saxon noble, my warriors were taken in flank and the game was over on a morale loss. So although I had only lost 12 men and the Saxons 20, and had protected two of the 3 carts, I lost the game. With morale loss, your retreat cards do not count so a yet another lop-side victory for the Saxons of +5.

The Saxons were able to then play an uncontested Raid and recruited a Wicca Priest going in to May of 554.................so is Fate!

10 April 2015

Thoughts about GB-CoC Ruleset and Questions after the First Game

I wanted to reflect on my recent play-test of the General Bonaparte Meets Chain of Command rule set for a day or two. Overall I am very encouraged by the rule set. The Command and Control mechanism as well as the Combat/Firing mechanism are very easily understood and applied. Movement mechanisms are always a little more difficult for me, but these seemed quite simple. Finally is it Napoleonic, well I am no expert but it seemed just as Napoleonic as any other ruleset I have played. I really like the Passage of Lines and Regulating Battalions rules which make me feel like a Napoleonic General in control of his troops. It would also seem that the special army and period Tactical Bonuses offered by rolling 5 and 6's on the Command Dice will really add some chrome. The play-test includes only the Bonuses for the French, Russian and Austrian armies during the revolutionary period, I am already think about some Tactical Bonuses for the Napoleonic Wars like Pas de Charge (add 1d6 movement/+1shock for a French Attack Column closing to combat) or Reverse Slope (increasing the to hit dice by artillery by 1).

Anyway on to the concerns that were voiced by the play-testers and myself:

Playtesters


  • No Opportunity Fire (personally I think that the opportunity fire is built into the ZOC support mechanism)
  • No Reaction to Combat (personally I think that this is best kept simple and calculated in the subsequent combat, I think though that maybe a withdrawal from combat by a backwards movement of 3" could be added to the Tactical Bonuses like localized Counter Attack)
  • No Advantage to being in Attack Column (I disagree this is a problem, as I do not really see any significant advantage to 1 AC hitting 1 unit in line. The advantage lies in the ability to move at an increased rate, to hit a line with multiple AC's and there are already 3 Tactical Bonuses that the French player can use in combat all that can be applied to an AC
Myself
  • Terrain size: Maybe it was the terrain I put down, but I think base size is going to be limiting if one wants to play on a 6x4' terrain, a lot of people's preferred standard
  • Gap between Units: I find it hard to manage movement when units are pushed up against each other. Aside from AC's under a Regulating Battalion order, I believe that their should be a personal space rule of 1"
  • Cascading Command: This really allows many units to be activated per turn, but one really needs to keep very close watch on the positioning. At times it was a little difficult to keep track. I wonder if there needs to be a specific order of activation ie. Majors first and then up. This however could affect strategy, so I will have to play a few more games to see if this is necessary
  • Range of Command: There has been some suggestion with increasing base size the 6" range should be expanded, I am not so sure now as there are lots of activations available with the cascading structure as it now exists. We forgot in our first game to allow the un-commanded units to have actions
  • Rallying Shock: Still not sure if it should be just 3", shock is critical in this game, a unit can break morale without losing a base (no kills)
  • Support in ZOC: I believe the rules say all the bases in an unit that has it's ZOC invaded offer support. I am not sure if this is correct, look at this situation. It would seem that only 4 of the bases should offer support to me.
Questions from the Game
  1. ADC Movement, this is a great addition to the game, move at 3d6 +3" per die carrying one activation to another officer but do they just automatically rejoin their Divisional General once the message is delivered without diced movement?
  2. Regulating Battalions formations, I think the battalions all have to be in the same formation, ie. line or AC in order to issue this. But in a 4 battalion regiment can the colonel just order 2-3 of the battalions to move in formation?
  3. Deployed Skirmishers ZOC. I am presuming that ZOC of 3" is from the front edge of the SK bases.
  4. Deployed Skirmishers and Columns of March. Can you have deployed skirmishers when the parent unit is in March Column, does not seem right but I thought I would check?
  5. Movement of columns, I am presuming that March Columns can snake about the terrain at 3d6? The rules specifically point out the limitations and penalties for formations in Line but nothing is mentioned about Attack Columns, do they act like March Columns.
  6. Overlap in Combat. I thought I saw that there was a one base overlap in the rules but now can not find it. How many bases are in combat on each side in the following illustration. Is it 7 for red and 8 for blue or is there are overlap rule of 1 base so 6 for blue and 6 for red.

I suppose you can say what are the pros of these rules. Well I think they are an excellent ruleset as written, they need some clarification as discussed above and maybe some added or polished chrome. But it was impressive that two wargamers, albeit experienced, were able to take this ruleset and have a game with very little knowledge of the specific rules. One play-tester had not played Napoleonics before and the other play-tester's Napoleonic experience was with Column, Line and Square, a ruleset I believe in it's own category! It certainly helped that we were all CoC players. But there was really very little referral to the rulebook and we were able to play from the QRS only.

I am really quite excited about these rules, but I suppose the real test will be with experienced Napoleonic gamers. That group is a tough sell.


09 April 2015

General Bonaparte meets Chain of Command: Playtest

I have been looking forward to trying out the new Battalion level Napoleonic ruleset from the author of Le Feu Sacre from Too Fat Lardies for sometime. About a month ago I received a playtest version, and fortunately I found two willing players with considerable gaming experience to have a go with them. Dick and Ricky Bryant, a grandfather and grandson team,  from a gaming club south of Boston called the Kingston Irregulars came to the Hobby Bunker in Malden, MA yesterday for a gaming session. They are both Chain of Command players and both have a wide experience with Historical Wargaming.

So what is this new ruleset? Well I think it is much more Chain of Command then Le Feu Sacre. In general we can say the following:
  • Infantry Battalion, Cavalry Regiment and Artillery Battery are the tactical units. Infantry units are 4-8 bases in size, Cavalry are 4-6 bases and Artillery are 3-4 bases generally.
  • It is basing independent, the number of figures on a base are unimportant, Opposing armies should be based similarly.
  • The game starts with a Grand-Tactical phase somewhat similar to Chain of Command's Patrol phase.
  • It has a command system which requires independently based Divisional Generals, ADC's, Brigadiers and Colonels.
  • Specific Command Dice CD  are used to activate each level of command. Each player generally has 5 CD and throws them each turn. Regular d6 are used and a 5 and 6 have a specific country dependent attributes while a 4 activates a Divisional General, a 3 activates a brigade and so on...
  • It is a IGOUGO turn based system but accumulation of special dice allows a player to interrupt the opposing player's turn.
  • Movement is variable and is based on a dice throw. The number of dice is dependent on the formation of the unit is in as well as if it is maneuvering or going through terrain. Shock affects movement and maneuver.
  • Firing and Combat are diced based and are quite similar (very easily learned). The number of dice thrown are dependent on the number of bases in the unit, the usual tactical factors as well as shock. There is a saving throw which is affected by the intrinsic status (elite, regular, untested) of the unit. Both kills and shock are applied to the unit. Kills are recorded by removing bases from the unit.
  • Units can deploy one base as a skirmish screen or send the whole battalion as skirmishers
  • Unit Morale is calculated by the amount of shock on a unit as well as number of bases remaining in the unit.

I ran through the movement, firing and combat mechanisms before the game, but I was quite curious how the command mechanism would work. After some discussion on the Le Feu Sacre Yahoo Group, I decided to go with a fairly robust Order of Battle as below.

So on to some photos, you can also see more photos on Ricky Bryant's blog. I forgot to take a photo of the patrol phase which you can see on his blog. You can also read their thoughts about the ruleset on the blog.

6x4' terrain with the Anglo-Germans on the left and the French on the right
The French setup, I allowed placement of the in any formation, no cavalry were in the OB
I added some impregnable forest so I could see how the movement rules worked
A wargamer with 60 years of experience surveys his grandson's deployment and advance
The Brunswickers advance
The Hanoverians advance, it was a bit tight with the forests.
The French advance on their left flank taking some artillery fire
Here we can see a two battalion regiment in line with another 2 battalion regiment in column. Both Colonels are well placed as is the Brigadier General. This is really important in this ruleset to maximum the utility of each CD throw. With this setup good use was made of the regulating battalions rule
The French attack the Hanoverians. 
The playtesters were somewhat unhappy with the fact that an AC did not give an advantage in combat, but I believe the advantage would have been if two AC's were sent in. By now I have removed the forests so I could get a better sense of melee and firing rules
The Légion Hanoverienne routs back after taking 7 shock (rout occurs with greater then 6 shock or >50% base loss). It is interesting to note that the unit has lost no bases. It still can be rallied. As it has interpenetrated two friendly units, they both take 2 shock as well. Managing shock is critical to the game.
I had some problems keeping the ZOC rules, especially with deployed skirmishers
Well, I have to say that I could not have picked two better players for my first play-test, they immediately picked up on the command function and appeared to have very little difficulty with movement as well as firing and combat.

Well what did I think. Well I want to mull on it a little longer and will add a separate post in a day or two. But my overall impression is extremely favourable!

Questions and comments can be seen here.

06 April 2015

Winter War-The Battle of Raate Road: Find the 44th

After a year of preparation and two false starts, I finally got my Winter War Campaign off the ground yesterday at the Hobby Bunker. It is funny that when I look back the easy work was painting the figures and getting the terrain together, the really tough work is campaign design. I really have to admire the work put in by Rich Clarke in his "Pint-Sized Campaigns". Not only do you have to have a grasp of history but you have to be able to design an interesting campaign.

After reading around the Winter War, I decided that Battle of the Raate Road would best lend itself to a short but interesting campaign for Chain of Command using the At The Sharp Edge campaign supplement. Here we have a 5 day battle fought over a relatively small area between two very asymmetric and different forces under very adverse conditions.

Being a relatively novice WWII gamer, I felt it best to stick as close as possible to the army lists and the campaign supplement as available from Too Fat Lardies. For the first two months of the Winter War the Soviets are rated as green and the Finns elite. This pits a large force of 62 men against a small force of 36 men, with the large force having a +9 advantage in supports. Sounds good but when it came down to it, it was an uninteresting experience for the Soviet player as he has lots of men but very little command ability and very few tactical options. Historically correct maybe but boring to play.

The Too Fat Lardies games have an excellent cadre of players so as usual I referred my problem to the User Forum. After some discussion, I have made some modifications to my original plan to hope for a more interesting campaign. I plan to put together a pdf of the campaign when it is completed, but the general outline is as below.

January 5-7, 1940

Finnish CO Orders: You lead an elite Jããkiri platoon. Advance north to find where the Soviets are concentrated, then skirt along the Raate Road east 20 km to the Soviet command post at the Raate Border Station, attack the border station and kill General Viogradov, commander of the Soviet 44th Rifle Division. Along the way hary the Soviets forces.

Soviet CO Orders: You command a green force of Ukrainian recruits. General Viogradov has ordered the 44th Rifle Division to retreat back to the Finnish-Soviet border along the Raate Road. Your specific platoon has been ordered to provide rearguard action as the division retreats. Make your way to the border where you will join up with the 3rd NKVD Border Regiment.

  • The campaign structure is a unilateral 4 rung ladder. Scenario 2 and 6 from the main rulebook will be used for the 1st and 4th rung. The scenarios for rungs 2 and 3 will be selected according to the tactical situation, with the previous game's loser making the selection.
  • Victory for the Finns is taking the  border station within 6 Turns, anything else is a Soviet victory.
  • Army lists: the official CoC lists for the 39-40 Soviets and Winter War Finns. To make the game more playable the Green Soviets will have 5 CD and able to deploy a complete squad in entrenchments.
  • Attrition will accumulate on both platoons. The CO's and yours Men's Opinion will be calculated after each scenario. The Platoon Leader's Outlook will be calculated after Turn 2.
  • Replacements can be called for once by the Soviets and once  for the Finns.
  • A Wild Card will be available to each side during the campaign after Turn 3.
  • The Soviets will have a fresh squad of a regular SMG NKVD troops available for the final rung as Reinforcements
Terrain: No normal terrain. For Infantry, the road itself and it's edge is Broken Ground, the Forests, Hills, Lakes and Exposed Ground  with Scrub is Heavy Going while the Snow is Really Heavy Going. All Vehicles are confined to the Ice Road.

On to the first scenario "Find the 44th". This was played as in scenario 2 except that we played it along the long axis rather then the short. Unfortunately we did miss that Mike (the Soviets) was supposed to get two free entrenchments, we did count the game but I decided to give him a fresh platoon for the second game. I as the attacker threw a 6 for support, so I got 6 supports and Mike got 15. I took an captured Soviet LMG for one of my LMG team, a Maxim HMG Team, as well as a Satchel Charge. Mike took one entrenchment, a Commissar, a Maxim HMG Team as Well as a BT7 Tank, he may have had more but that is what I saw. The Finns had a starting Morale of 11 and the Soviets 8. On to the Patrol phase.......

I sort of screwed this up as I wanted to get the centre JOP (blue) in the exposed ground. Mike played it conservative and did not advance his markers up the table, I was a little surprised that he did not put down entrenchments for his infantry squads. 
As usual I forgot to take any photos during the game, but I did advance my HMG team to within close range of one of the Soviet's deployment areas so was able to plink away with some success, I did take some casualties but was able to hold on until the Soviet's routed. Hard to see but I advanced my second LMG section through the woods in the far ground followed closely by one of my SMG sections.
Here we have one of the Soviet squads in light cover behind a snow drift, They did take some attrition but did not break. You can see a second Soviet squad in the far ground also behind a snowdrift. Just behind it is a BT7 Light Tank. It's firepower of 4HE was pretty useless I thought. A truck mounted Quad Maxim would have been the business!
Here is the 3rd Soviet squad in light cover, by now they have been a little chewed up. You can also see a Soviet Maxim entrenched in hard cover behind the fence. It is from in front of this fence that the 4th Soviet squad launched a heroic attack on my weakened LMG squad in the forest. It was 16d6 on 16d6, but the small size of my section caused it to be destroyed while the Soviets survived but with significant shock.
My SMG team advancing through the forest, ready to mop up the Soviets. 
So our first game was a Soviet rout, as their morale fell to zero before they could withdraw. Certainly we identified that as set up this is a somewhat uninteresting game from the Soviet perspective, which I hope will be corrected by increasing the Soviets Command Dice to five. Mike was unlucky though, he only lost 21 men, but every time one of his squads had a kill on it, his test for wounding a leader failed and he had to take multiple morale tests which brought him down to zero in a little over two hours. Let's hope the next game is more interesting.

05 April 2015

Chronica Iohannes: Cwaluwuduholt

I am really getting behind in my blogging, but I have 3 games this week all of which I want to post AAR on so I better get going.

This game was played almost 3 weeks ago at the Hobby Bunker and as usual a well detailed AAR can be found on the Fencing Frog blog. Adam came up with the great idea of using an Old English translator to come up with the name. We used a heavily wooded terrain and the battle was absolutely brutal with heavy losses on both sides so we have Cwaluwuduholt or in modern English ......the Murder Woods.

The game started off quite badly for me as in the pre-battle phase; not only was my champion killed, but while having some pre battle drinks I some how or another lost a card from my hand (having only 4 Fate cards for the whole game), and although my morale was boosted by 2, the Saxon Lord yet again gave a rousing speech and boosted his command status to 4 with 6 Fate cards in his hand. So I started the game with a slight advantage in morale but with a disadvantage of having a superior enemy with 50% more Fate cards!

The Saxons aggressively attacked cleverly using the trees to protect their flanks. The Britons some how or another where able to blow a hole through the Saxon centre and things appeared to be looking up. For some reason or another I then left the safety of the woods allowing the Saxons to attack me from the rear and I lost a whole unit of warriors.

A slugfest then ensued with heavy loses on both sides, and as I was nearing a disadvantage in men killed I decided to withdraw. I believe Adam lost 18 men (but was somehow another able to protect his elites-now he is a king losing these chaps will cost him dearly) and I lost 23. Not only was my Champion Uther killed, but two of my Nobles Cadog and Morcant were captured. Adam also had his noble Osbert captured.

It was really a great game that went on just over 4 hours and I suppose I was lucky to get away with just a +2 Saxon victory. Our campaign has now gone on for 4 historical years, and although very close to date, I believe that Adam has certainly built up an advantage. It is going to be hard to pry the Saxons out of the Old North.

Well as noted above it is going to be a busy week, I am hoping to get my CoC Winter War campaign launched in a couple of hours, we have had two preliminary games now to test the terrain and the OB. Wednesday, I shall have my first outing with General Bonaparte meets Chain of Command. This is a new battalion level game from the writer of Le Feu Sacre which is now in playtest. I have found two experienced gamers from Brockton to face off with each other while I will be gamemastering. I have put an enormous amount of time into understanding this ruleset, it looks great, so I am hoping for the best. And although not 100% sure, I think we have a game of Dux scheduled for this Thursday.