26 July 2020

Virtual Lard

Yesterday I played in Virtual Lard II. I really had great fun and was sorry I had not heard about Virtual Lard I, which I believe took place a few weeks ago. The event took off at 0400h EDT, with the second session starting at 0830h EDT. I was not to keen to get up at 4am, but my friend Pierre-Yves in Montreal actually hosted a Chain of Command game at that ungodly hour. I understand it went well.

The Virtual Con was set up through Virtual Lard Discord Channel. There were 10 games offered in 15 slots, and I believe all slots were filled so around 60 participants. Quite a success for sure, with CoC, IABSM, WaT, SP2, DuxB and Infamy Infamy being featured.

I got to play in a playtest of a new small skirmish game which is otherwise not yet to be described. But I did get permission to take a couple of screenshots of the action. I am not sure why my hand is to my mouth in the 2 photos, I must be a very pensive player. I will not say who I played with, but with careful inspection, one might identify some of players.
Close up
Long view of the 3x3' table.

I have to say it was a great experience and what was most enjoyable was the fact that I got to meet gamers with whom I have communicated for years through the Virtual Pubs that had been set up for after the gaming. I noticed at times there were almost 40 players spread throughout several pubs. I am already looking forward to VLIII!

23 July 2020

More CoC and Virtual Lard

I got in another game of CoC last night and the game experience really went well. P-Y changed the position of his overhead cam, this squared off the total terrain so it was quite easy to play the patrol phase. I should also say that I played most of the game from this view, despite a wide selection of other views. As you can see we have both have our dice trays with our Force Morale trackers up as well. Using multiple Zoom accounts has really worked well for us and I can see now that this is the way to go. We have no connectivity problems in 2 games now so I believe a personal account at $150 per year for 100 cameras at a time is a pretty good deal. The option of allowing player to select any one of several cameras for the main view really defines the gaming experience. Her are a few photos from the game. We played scenario 5 from the book with regular German and American Airborne platoons. Like our last game the Americans had an extra squad and the Germans had an extra German SL and an MMG team. I played the US again.
JOP's Red US, Green Germans
About half way through the game.  I had taken a pretty aggressive offensive by starting immediately advancing one squad up the orchard to the south and one to the house to the west. Unfortunately, when crossing the road my SL got isolated and shot up by the German MMG team, I then had to deploy another squad there to protect the wounded SL, he got knocked down and then drag him to the safety behind one of the houses. This is exactly not what I wanted to happen as to the east 2 German squads were advancing to 2 unprotected JOP's! The squad I planned to advance south now had to rush back to the NE. Ovals are squads and circles are teams, again green is German and red US.
P-Y was able to capture my JOP, but a series of double phases allowed me to wipe out one of his squads, and the MMG team as well as decimating another squad. I still had 2 and half squads as well as my Mortar team. My FM was 6, his was 5. I threw another double phase, it was 0100h, time for the Germans to retreat.
So I got lucky, it always seems to me that my opponent is the one who gets the multiple double phases, but tonight I must of had two triple phases and maybe 5-6 double phases, while P-Y had maybe 3-4 double phases. It clearly swung the game.

Here is my present set up with 2 overviews a mobile cam as well as my dice tray. You can see I have embedded myself in the side overview cam. I am going to move the selected overhead cam more overhead as it made an enormous difference in our game last night, time to get the drill out.
I playing in Virtual Lard this weekend, playing a yet to be published game called Packing Heat, have no idea what it is but it should be fun. P-Y is games mastering the above scenario at 0900h BST, 0400h EDT! Fortunately my game is at 1330h BST so 0830h for me.

19 July 2020

Finally a game of ........Chain of Command!

I finally got in a game of Chain of Command this past week. P-Y wanted to playtest a scenario he is hosting for this coming Saturday's Virtual Lard event. He decided to take scenario 2 from the Rendezvous with Destiny mini-campaign involving a platoon of Fallschirmjägers versus American Airborne. They were both rated as regular with 5 CD. I played the Airborne and had an extra squad while P-Y played the Germans with MMG team and SL.

We did play a patrol phase which was a small challenge and then got on with the game, I rolled a 9 for FM, while P-Y rolled a 10, he had 2 free moves as the attacker.

As usual I am not good at actually describing the game but although I thought it would be a challenge to play CoC over the internet it actually went quite well. The photos below are all taken as screen shots on my side, this is to give a sense of what it was like to play. I think we finished up in 2.5 hours with game completion in just one turn.
This is my view through Zoom, P-Y set up multiple Zoom accounts, one for each camera. Using Zoom it was very easy for me to select the view I wanted. You will note that the first view on the top left is my dice tray and FM chart making it easy to do all my own dice rolling and tracking but at the same time making it easy for P-Y to click on. Using the Manycam Virtual Camera in Zoom on my side,  I was able to click between my FT camera and my dice tray. As you can see P-Y had an oblique view, 2 overhead, 1 mobile and 1 dice tray on his side. This all worked well without a glitch!
Most of the action took place in the NE corner of the terrain, I hope you can see my JOPs, as well as the German JOP's
The dreaded double phase, although I did well on my firing dice throws, I never got 1 double phase  while P-Y got  3 in a row, he also had a CoC Dice, which he used to pop on an LMG team and blast the hell out of my isolated SL.
At this point he had routed 1 of my squads but I was able to gain superiority in the orchard and started to march 2 squads towards his position, the Americans are essentially on the right of the screen with the Germans to the left. My routing squad is in the bottom of the screen.
The Americans marching ahead, unfortunately by now my FM had dropped down to 2 and the Germans were still at 8, I decided to withdraw.
Well I really had a lot of fun and it was great to get in a game of CoC. It actually worked well, a few recommendations came up to improve the game when played virtually but I am confident now that CoC works over the internet. Here are some photos P-Y took on his side. You can see that image quality is just not the same through the internet but a great game none the less.

15 July 2020

A Small Danish Fleet

Several weeks ago, I had a look at my Black Seals plastic pile, a couple of 3rd rates, some frigates and lots of Brigs. Since my Spanish fleet is landlocked in Montreal and I suspect it will be months before I am allowed to retrieve them (do not set me off.... the richest country in the world acting like a 3rd world banana republic with even worse leadership.....move on John), I decided to paint add a couple of small fleets to my collection.

I gave it a bit of thought and decided to paint some ships for the Scanian Wars. This was specially attractive as there very little information on how this ships were painted, so I had some flexibility. I have been very slow to rig the ships, I finished the hulls several weeks ago. But today I finally finished my Danish ships. I believe we have found that during the pandemic few rather than more ships work for Virtual Tabletop Wargaming. I painted a frigate and 3 brigs for the Danish fleet.
I think they look pretty nice, so I have to get on with the Swedish fleet so they can all be launched.

08 July 2020

Rommel:Kasserine Pass

We played a Kasserine Pass game last night using the ruleset Rommel. You can find a link to the modified scenario here. The original scenario was written by an Australian guy and was on the old Honour forum but you can now find all his scenarios here on the Sam Mustafa Facebook.

Here are the initial dispositions, I essentially created a map, chose my initial dispositions, I send it on to Pierre-Yves and he adds his dispositions and sends it back to me. I place everything on the table so we are all set to play immediately once we sign in.
This is how it looked on the table.
Essentially the Germans were the attackers and had to capture 3 of the 4 Allied objectives to win. They started with 6 ops while the Allies had 3 ops, the Allies had 6 dug in markers to start the game. The game was 16 turns.

My plan, as I was playing the Americans, was just to dig in and try to repel the Germans. P-Y played a real blinder by playing the Intercepted Signals Event in the 1st turn, moving my only Sherman to grid D4, and then attacking it, as it was unsupported. He had 9 units to attack with so after a few goes it was gone! He then advanced his whole line to Row D, and the battle started. I was a little surprised he had focused on his right flank but it worked well for him and by turn 7 it was impossible for me to win the game as I was down to my infantry only and had lost 3 objectives. Here are a couple of other photos.

Well it was going to be a tough game for etc US as they were really overpowered. At the same time I noticed that every time I attacked I lost so I think the trick here is just to defend for the US. 

I had made some changes to the scenarios and as you will notice I changed the size of the table from 12 x 8 grids to 9x6 grids. I did this for Virtual Gaming purposes but really I think that it is too small an area to properly manoeuvre for a grand tactical game. I think further Rommel games will be full scale. 

I should also say that I changed the tracks on the German tanks from 432 to 543 as outlined in the rulebook for midway, all the US tracks were 321, so this was a major advantage. I will have to check why the original designer did this.

In respect to Virtual Wargaming I have come to a decision nexus now: Do you change the games to accommodate playing over the internet or do you work on improving the Virtual Wargaming setup to play the games as they were written? I am I think in the latter camp, for sure maybe the more difficult path. I do appreciate that there are games that just might not work over the internet, ie. Napoleonic games with 2000 figures on the table. 

Virtual Lard is coming up in a couple of weeks, so that will be a good place to see what others are doing. I am really coming to the conclusion that it is necessary for the games master just to set up the game and cameras and to allow the players to chose which view (camera), from what I understand things can work so the players can also zoom in from there end. It really sounds exciting.

06 July 2020

Rommel: Almost Re-basing!

With my interest in Rommel rekindled, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I needed to make some changes in the way I was labelling my bases. Initially, I was using paper labels that I would print in different colours and glue on the bases. I initially used superglue but found that white glue was easier to remove. All along, I knew that I had to have a system that I could change out the designation on the bases as there was no way I could buy, paint, base and store the multiple different types of units I needed for different games. I had used metal bases as they are much easier to transport in drawers with magnetic bottoms, I had thought about using magnetic labels but could not find the right product. Here are some examples of what I did. I used small magnets to mark off the attrition.
It was really a lot of work to print and remove labels though for each scenario, removing labels always damaged them so they would have to be re-printed. I also felt the labels were a little dark to read as they were especially when gaming over the internet. I decided to revisit using magnetic labels and discovered that Avery does produce some. Give it a try, I thought.
Bases done to date.
Germans and Italians, using 15 and 21Panzer as well as the DAK symbol, the Italians have various labels identifying them as belonging to Infantry or Armour Divisions.
Small US contingent.
The Brits, a real challenge with labelling as they had so many different organisations.
I added the armoured label to those such infantry units and also designated some infantry as having the Massed Antitank Optional Rule as shown as these infantry with 88's.
Lots of bright colours
British units not yet placed in the Order of Battle, I need to order another packet of magnetic sheets.
I am quite happy how things came out, a bit of scraping was required to get the old glue off but the new labels do adhere to the bases quite well. I have a game of Rommel planned for tomorrow night so we will see if the labelling makes gaming over the internet a little easier. They are certainly much brighter.