10 June 2018

Retake Suomussalmi

I finally got in a Winter War game yesterday, the first for 3 years. It was nice to get the Soviets and Finns out of their boxes as well as set up some winter terrain. About a month ago, I connected with a relatively local TFL gamer, Greg. He had put on a Sharp Practice game at Huzzah, I did not get to play in the game but we had a bit of a chat and decided in the near future to have a game of Chain of Command. My regular TFL opponent Mike has been pretty tied up with work and we have not been able to get together much in the last year.

We decided to play at my place, which made it very easy as I did not have to lug a lot of stuff about and rush to set up the terrain. I have been working on a Winter War campaign for several years now and this pushed me along and I now have 4 of the 6 planned scenarios done. But more about that later.

Anyway, this specific scenario is set early in December, 1939 and is as laid out in the following pamphlet.
I took a few more photos then usual and the action was quite straight forward as described in the photos. We diced for sides, I ended up with the Soviets. Lately most games I have played, I have been the attacker so it was a change.
The Patrol Phase was very odd as the Finns got 6 free moves and do not have to stay within 12" of each other. I was pretty stymied as we were playing down the short axis of the table and I had 6' to defend. This is where they ended up. You can not see it but there was a Finnish Patrol marker all the way up the table to my left flank. 
Green Soviet Forces
Force Rating -4, 5 Command Dice, 13 Supports
Force Morale 8
2 Senior Leaders
3 Green Rifle Squads
1 Regular NKVD Squad
3 entrenchments
Maxim MMG Team
Flamethrower Team
Pregame Barrage

Elite Finnish Forces
Force Rating +5, 5 Command Dice, 8 supports
Force Morale 11
2 Senior Leaders
4  Elite Jããkãri Squads
Off Table Mortar
? 3 Supports

Greg had the first move as he was the attacker, fortunately I had selected a pregame barrage as one of my supports and with the Soviet National Characteristic of Wrath of the Gods, I was able to get 3 of my sections safely entrenched on the table within the first few phases with overwatch markers before he really could get set up. Most of his JOP points were on my right flank so I felt I could anticipate from where he would attack.
The Soviets look ready, but Greg deploys a FO in the tree line to the far right. ...........

.........and Kaboom before you know it 2 of my squads are under the barrage and I lose a JL almost immediately and my FM drops to 6! Oh dear, I say. I am able to end the turn and lift the barrage but by now.....................
........................Greg deploys a Jããkãri squad from his JOP on my right flank and they rapidly advance on my very shocked squad. The Finns are indeed aggressive......................
...............and in they come. Sometimes however the dice gods are on your side and despite being heavily shocked and pinned I manage to eke out a 1 point victory in the ensuing combat and the Finns are driven back.
Some action missed here but Greg decides to advance a 2nd squad to take out the entrenched Soviets , but this time I am ready and it is my turn....... I pop out a Flamethrower Team which takes care of the advancing Finns and drives them back and I also deploy my NKVD squad directly into close combat (I believe Greg was generous here as I believe I was a little outside of 4") with the Finns in the woods and they are destroyed...............
I have now dropped the Finn's Force Morale down and things are starting to look secure for the Soviets as we are both sitting at 6....................but CoC can be a fickle game, it is Greg's phase and he throws 4xd6.............. 
......................and a random barrage drops down on my left flank! The Finns advance on my right and take out the exposed Flame Thrower team. They are indeed aggressive but the NKVD can be aggressive as well and they advance forward to take the battle to the Finns but I had forgotten about the Finnish FO in the woods and before I knew it another barrage rains down on my right flank.
The game now turned into one of pure attrition where the barrage kept on pounding my right however I was able to fire continuously from my left flank on the exposed troops in the centre, I finally got a double phase and was able to lift the barrage and with constant fire the Finns morale dropped to 2, a Soviet victory was had.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this game, I thought I was done for early on when my FM dropped to 6 in the first few phases. I then got lucky with the dice and with my Flamethrower team and NKVD squad and was able to inflict FM damage on the Finns (I think Greg threw a lot of 6's). In my previous games it was rare to have any close combat, it is bloody.

I also have to say that it was great to meet another local TFL gamer with whom it was a pleasure to play. I am sure we will get in more games. I am also that much closer to finishing my Winter War campaign that has been sitting on the back burner fore quite sometime.

01 June 2018

Pickett's Charge: Antietam

Yesterday, I got to play my first game of Pickett's Charge by DCR Brown, the ruleswriter of General de Brigade and most recently Général d'Armée. Pickett's Charge was the first ruleset released by him under the TFL banner of Reisswitz Press. This was the first American Civil War game I played since myself and Adam played our ACW campaign using the Sam Mustafa ruleset Longstreet. It was a great campaign which I really enjoyed, but I find Sam's rulesets sacrifice a little too much colour in order to simply the playing mechanism. There is very little command uncertainty in both Longstreet and Lasalle, so although having played both games quite a bit I was left looking for something a little more exciting. I have found that GdA has provided that and I was curious to see if PC which has a lot of similar mechanisms would do the same.

I decided to play the starter Antietam scenario from the book, which looked simple enough. I had the troops aside from the brigadiers so it was easy enough to set up. I arrived at the Hobby Bunker early to set up the table. The scenario is based on the Union attack on the sunken road in the middle of the the day. The great thing about the Hobby Bunker is there is a ton of stuff lying around to bolster one terrain. I was bale to construct a sunken road of sorts using some plywood panels with by Cigarbox plush green mat, you can see the result below. The only thing we did not have was the appropriate fencing but we made do with what we had from our own collections.
The Union forces are to the right, they had to start within an 8" band on their table edge of the 6x4' terrain. The Confederate forces could start anywhere up to the sunken road in the middle of the table. Essentially the Union had to force the Confederates out of the sunken road. The Union had numerically more infantry but almost half of them were rated as green. The Confederates had all regular forces aside from one small veteran brigade. Both sides had 2 artillery batteries and there was no cavalry. I was quite happy with how the table looked.
I am not good at doing action reports, I just get too tied up in the action to take photos and remember all the details. We never really got started until about 5:30 pm and I am usually limited by having to leave at the 8 by the latest. We did get in around 6-7 turns of a planned 16 turn scenario before 8 and I have to say I think it would have been over one way or the other by 10 turns. I did take a lot of photos early in the game. 

Confederates on their right flank
This brigade with 2 attached artillery batteries was held in reserve on the Confederate left flank
A view of the Union attack from the Confederate perspective
Caldwell's Brigade
Confederate left flank
Confederate centre
Union centre with Meagher's Brigade in the foreground and Weber and Morris's green recruits in the farground.
Adam has a great looking Confederate army
After some hesitation especially in the centre the Union army starts it's advance.
First fire of Union artillery.........double1!
I stopped taking photos at that point but essentially both brigades on the Union left advanced into charge, Caldwell's brigade failed their charge with their lead regiment being thrown back. Meagher's Irish brigade attacked the Confederate centre, the first regiment was also thrown back but the second regiment was able to close to charge and whipped the Confederate centre throwing the lead brigade back with it's support and taking the ground. Somewhere along the way one of the Confederate Brigades received a Catawamptiously Chewed Up result on the Faltering Brigade test. 

Unfortunately, the Union regiment that took the centre ground was completely unsupported as the green recruits in the Union centre were very slow to advance. On the Union right, Kimball's brigade was rapidly advancing supported by the Union artillery which finally had got their act together and were starting to pound the Confederate left flank. Unfortunately it was now 8pm so I had to leave. I am not sure how the game would have went but I felt my Union army was in quite good position.

Well I really enjoyed this game and ruleset. I found it very smooth to play, as a lot of the Napoleonic chrome that has been welded on to the GdA ruleset makes the game quite a bit more complex. We did have a few questions which I will have to look up but I found if you follow the QRS with some care the game flows very quickly. We got to test all the mechanisms of play aside from Melee which unlike GdA is within the Charge mechanism and is quite simple. We got to institute all the Morale mechanisms aside from a Brigade being Tuckered Out. Definitely will look forward to another game. My 10 pack of mounted Union officers from Blue Moon was here when I got home, so I should be all set for my next game.

25 May 2018

Death in a Tight Splace Redux

Myself and Adam got together to yesterday to replay Adam's excellent scenario Death in a Tight Space. On our last outing, I played the defender. Yesterday, we reversed roles: Adam decided to go with the Norse-Gaels as the attacker and I decided to use the Vikings as the heroic defenders. We played from the Age of Vikings source book for SAGA2.

Ragnar Lothbrok
3 points of Hearthguard
1 point of Berserkers
Mercenary unit of Jarl Sigvaldi's Jomsvikings

4 points of Warriors (half Dane-Axes)
2 Points of Levy

Unusually, I had a bit of time to think about the game before I played so I had actually generated a plan. As laid out the last time the Attackers have the Endless Warbands rule and the game was to last 10 Rounds (nightfall we could say). Victory was based on Slaughtering Points. With this in mind, I felt that I had to try to not engage the attackers for at least 4 rounds to prevent having to face multiple endless warbands. At the same time, I planned to position my Berserkers so they could take out the largest group of warriors while screaming Valhalla. Best laid plans of course, as I think the Berserkers ended up attacking in Round 3 and being wiped out without accomplishing their mission. I then had to play a game of cat and mouse taking out the Norse-Gaels when an opportunity presented itself while trying to survive until nightfall. The below photos will illustrate what happened.

Here is a view of the starting position, Vikings to the right. It was 25 Vikings vs  57 Norse-Gaels. I went with two 6 figure units of Hearthguards and two 4 figure units of Berserkers and Jomsvikings. Ragnar generated 2 SAGA dice for a total of 6. The Norse-Gaels had two units of 12 Levy, three units of 12, 10 and 10 Warriors as well as a Warlord for 6 SAGA dice.
A scary prospect.

I missed a few photos here but in a early clash I lost 3 Hearthguard but was able to kill a unit of Warriors.  I had already sacrificed my Berserkers without taking them out.

Ragnar advances with 3 Hearthguard to take out the these two units of Norse-Gael warriors . The game ended on turn 9 with the Vikings having 43 Slaughtering Points while the Norse-Gaels had 20, a clear victory for the defenders.

I enjoyed the game and believe I put together a pretty good warband for this heroic stand. It went quite smoothly although I am not sure if I played the Jomsviking's Fury correctly. Adam kindly let me play the Fury as a Activation/Reaction which I am not sure is right.

Coming up

I really have nothing up next on the painting table so have been trying to decide what to do. I am thinking about a Christian Warband for the SAGA Age of the Crusades. But I decided to add a unit of Shieldmaidens to my Swords for Hire reserve. I had been searching about for a while and I found these this morning and although plastic they were purchased within minutes. This is exactly for what I was looking. No dumpy Viking females for me.
Update on Jarl Sigvaldi

  • Sigvald gains a Fury Token automatically at the beginning of the controlling player's activation (there are multiple other ways to gain tokens as well)
  • Sigvald burns his Fury Tokens only at the beginning of the controlling player's activation and the effects last through the opposing player's turn.
  • Sigvald only switches sides if he loses a melee when he has no Fury Tokens in hand.
This actually sounds like quite a mess if you read the series of posts, but from what I understand a FAQ is near and should clear things up.

21 May 2018

A Question of Scale 2

Almost 10 years ago I put together a post called A Question of Scale in which I lamented the difficulty of assessing the size of buildings before buying them. At the time I was looking at 15mm buildings for my 28mm Napoleonic large battles. What I found was that what was advertised had absolutely nothing to do with actual size.

Over the last several years, as well documented in this blog, I have gone heavily into WWII skirmish gaming. A big requirement of this is buildings, especially in Western Europe. With my scale I have a choice of two scales which should be fairly close 1/72 and 20mm (1/76). I generally have 20 mm figures with the occasional 1/72 thrown in.

I initially bought the Italeri 1/72 scale buildings which are made of hard plastic and are quite nice. Limited selection though with 3 Houses, 1 Railroad Station and 1 Church. These buildings are on the large side and the Railroad Station and Church are I think out of scale while one of the Houses is really trashy. The Country House with Porch and the Country House are quite nice and scale well with the 4ground 20mm World at War MDF collection. I have to say though that as you will see below their Café Grondeé is really out of scale with the buildings in the Farm Complex Selection. The 4ground Farm Complex is at least 1/72 scale if not larger.

I then went and bought the PlastCraft Games 15-20mm EWAR Collection. These buildings are PVC and are certainly 20mm in scale, certainly smaller then 4ground or Italeri but usable on the same table especially if the the 4ground and Italeri are used as isolated buildings and the Plastcraft are used in a town. They were quite difficult to assemble though and a little barren, I did try to do them up but somewhat unsuccessfully as you can see here.

I recently bought the Empires of War MDF Normandy collection labeled as 20mm. As you can see below these are pretty small and I think probably should be labeled as 15mm but the larger buildings are OK with the Plastcraft. My final purchase was some Sarissa Precision World War 20mm buildings  and I have to say they are nice. Not a big collection but I suspect true 20mm and fit well with the Plastcraft, the 4ground Café Grondée and the larger Empire at War buildings.

But enough talking let's have a look. I set up the MDF buildings only as there is only so much table space.
An unadorned Sarissa House-with a bit of work it came out as the below building on your right.
Sarissa Precision- I am really pleased with these buildings
Empire at War collection, they come painted which is nice. They are a little flimsy but definitely well priced
The 4ground collection, the Café Grondée, is definitely smaller then the other 2 buildings and a little more flimsy.
More 4ground
4ground again
LtR:2 Empire at War, a 4ground, Sarissa Precision and the Café Grondée
LtR: The smallest Empire of War, the 4ground Farmhouse, the Sarissa Chateau and the Café Grondé. I think you can see here that the 4ground Farm complex buildings are a little big!
Anyway, I would be happy to hear about what else is out there in is this popular scale. I really like the Sarissa buildings. I think I would pick them over the others, but the choice is limited. I think I will get rid of the 3 of the Italeri buildings I do not like. The 4ground are quite expensive so I will keep them. The Empire of War buildings are OK especially the larger ones and are quite good value. Plastcraft good size but I found tough to assemble.

20 May 2018

Huzzah 2018

Yesterday, I spent the day at the annual gaming convention put on by the Maine Historical Wargaming Convention in Portland, Maine. I believe this is the biggest gaming event in the northeast and appeared to be well attended. Clearly a lot of work was put into the event and there was some very nice layouts. There were quite a few vendors but maybe less then the last time I was there 2 years ago.

I was late to register, I actually thought I would be working the weekend, but as it happened I was not. Unfortunately most of the TFL games that I would be interested in playing were already full and I was limited in my attendance to just one day of this 3 day event. I was able to register for a Big CoC game Saturday morning and a regular CoC game Saturday evening. 

I got up early, it is about a 90 minute drive from where I live and arrived just in time to find out the morning game was cancelled! I was not able to find an alternate game to play so watched a Sharp Practice game set during the Great Northern War. The gamesmaster Greg Symko did a great job of explaining the ruleset and was able to play it to conclusion in under 2 hours with 6 players and I think around 7-8 leaders per side. An accomplishment for sure.

In the afternoon, I was able to get in on a WWI skirmish game, using the Operation Squad ruleset on a very impressive terrain with Greyscale figures. Fun game, although I found the ruleset somewhat challenging, again the gamemasters did a great job moving things along.

I finally got to play a CoC game put on by Tom Ballou set during the Battle of Hürtgen Forrest. Again a great job was done on terrific terrain using a blend of CoC and At a Sharp End. I really enjoyed playing and got a chance to re-connect with Tom who first introduced me to CoC some years ago.

Anyway some photos to follow. There was a couple of other TFL games, one a Sharp Practice game set in the Napoleonic War by my friend Mike and another CoC game by Dick Bryant set during Normandy. Unfortunately no photos were taken.

Great Northern War with Sharp Practice 

The Bolt Action League of Maine had an absolutely fantastic group of 28mm tables set up for scheduled and pickup games. Not my cup of tea, but it is no wonder BA is so popular here.

An ACW game using Fire and Fury
Another ACW game using The Devil to Pay ruleset

Some Test of Honour tables. I probably would have liked to give this a try if there were openings
Operation Squad WWI game in greyscale, really amazing terrain and figures
An great looking Age of Sigmar game
Chain of Command: When Trumpets Fade, I wish I had taken more photos but I was pretty engrossed in the game