Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Final Fight

Well, this is it, my last game of the year, and probably the last wargame (with figures and an opponent I could shake hands with or flick peanuts at ) I'll have for six months.

Having already packed all my models and even my dice into a relatives attic; I left the game in the hands of Chris to arrange. And was duly presented with two 1250 point armies for 40k.

We set up some terrain across a 6 x 4 foot table and rolled off for who got what; luck was on my side on this and I got to choose. I selected the accursed Blood Angels; who Chris has used to defeat me so many times in the past.
The objective of the battle was to control the round house in the centre of the table. I chose to hold some of my assault marines as reserves, enabling them to strike deep into the battlefield. Chris employed standard Tau tactics of deploying well back to use his superior weaponry.

Initially It was going well for me, my artillery Whirlwind was deadly accurate on it's first turn and routed a unit of Fire Warriors straight away, Elsewhere my Predator and Attack Bike were able to thin out the Stealth Suits, which usually cause me such a problem. However all that good work was undone the next turn when Chris destroyed both the Predator and the Land Speeder.

With no reserves, I looked on the face of it; badly outnumbered.

Nevertheless, one group of Assault marines occupied the objective, whilst the others charged the Stealth suits. In principle this should have been a slaughter, as Blood angels are made for close combat, whilst Tau are not. In the event this combat lasted three rounds before a casualty was even caused, we both rolled terribly - except for our saves.

Finally I broke the stealth suits, though not quite catching them in the retreat. In the mean time though the other Assault squad had been wiped out. Fortunately my veteran squad of Assault Marines had dropped in and were causing casualties. The Tau had withdrawn to consolidate even further, Only the squad of Drones and a Crisis Battle suit were showing signs of advancing.

For the Assault marines on my left the Idea of a slogging match with the Stealth Suits held no appeal, so when the opportunity arose they broke left and charged the fire warriors. This left the Stealth suits with no viable targets and meant the Marines could chop through a soft target instead.
Indeed the Fire Warriors were easy meat and my Assault marines were able to move to threaten the Tau rear. The Chaplain and the Death Company also arrived and with the veterans moved to hold the objective. The Veterans were able to eliminate the Drones and secure the perimeter, whilst the Tactical marines gave covering fire. A passing mention of the Whirlwind which after its first turn success had failed to hit anything at all. Chris wasn't even wasting time shooting at it any more, a sure sign of how pointless it had been.

Instead he expended everything he could to try and destroy all the troops on the objective. Fortunately for me one member of the Death Company survived, and at the end of the game I had the objective in my control.

When we worked out the victory points there was only 40 points in it, which made it a draw; well you can't say fairer than that. The blood Angels had suffered terrible losses to secure the objective. It was great to finish with neither a win or a loss though. We all came out as winners.

Elsewhere most of the club was embroiled in their Formula De (F1 racing Game) campaign. eleven players clustered round the board.

Also knocking about was a 10/12mm Italian WW2 army that I had to get a couple of shots of. Here and M13/40:

And a command version:

Later on the usual crowd were playing the Arkham Horror, Cthulu board game.

Further to this the was a Pacific Naval board game and a 20mm WW2 game; but neither were especially photogenic.

So, that's all the wargaming done for the year. What's next?...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The end of Sparta

Well, for now anyway; all the toys are out the proverbial pram.

Over the weekend I had to pack up the painting table, and the last of the wargaming figures; to put into storage. The successes from the painting table were limited in the last month or so. I did finish another Necromancer model, and some other scraps. But there were only two major successes; firstly there was a small army of Russian WW2 infantry and a couple of tanks for my buddy Chris. And secondly I managed to finish the blooming Spartans.

In fact it was at the eleventh hour, literally. I finished them on Friday night, knowing they needed to be packed up on Saturday morning. Those bloody Old Glory Thracians! Awful, demotivating figures.

Anyway, as you can see below I managed to grab a few snaps before finally sent them to familial loft based oblivion.

An all infantry army of almost bang on 2000 points, they feature 68 Hoplites, 30 Thracians, 26 skirmishers and the 3 fates (The oracle). A total of 127 figures.

The mass of heavy infantry. More horrible to paint but cheap to buy Old Glory at the front, backed up by Black Tree miniatures and a couple of rogue Foundry figures.

Slingers and Javelinmen, bought second hand and then repainted, these figures turned out to be some 28 years old. But aside from a lack of poses they look alright.

Finally the last of the Thracians; I won't be painting any more of these in a hurry.

So that's them finished. And now the table is bare; oh so very bare. In two weeks time as of today, I set off with the wife for the French Alpes; to run a snowboarders chalet for the winter season. This is a wargaming blog, and gaming is my passion I guess; but snowboarding is my other passion, and certainly one that a golden opportunity has arisen for.

This isn't farewell by any means, but games are going to be thin on the ground until I return to jolly old England in May 2008. Over the winter months I have a Dwarven army to keep me busy when time allows (or more accurately, money to go to the pub is expired, or what they call whiteout conditions prevail and sitting round the chalet is the only option), and hopefully Chris will supply a few shots from the Leeds club for me to post.

Other wise, tomorrow night is my last wargame for six months.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Running the Slot 1943

It was the last opportunity for the ships to come out to play, and on this occasion - last Wednesday - we had an added feature to try; a set of "sealed mission orders" from one of the regular posters on the War at Sea forum (find them here: http://boards.avalonhill.com/showthread.php?t=22675)

The sealed orders offered 13 sets of orders, and we were each to choose one at random and try to achieve it. I had orders to draw out the enemy bombers, with a fleet of up to 100 points accompanying a convoy; I of course had no idea what Chris' orders were, but when he fielded a fleet of Submarines and dive bombers, I was able to make a guess that he needed to sink my merchant shipping.

As usual we played using my tabletop variant rules, in this case over a 7.5 x 5 foot table (well, over 6 little tables butted together) . Chris was entitled to deploy a couple of extra islands as part of his orders (i.e, he was able to pick where to ambush me). The result was I was forced to sail a narrow slot making it easy for him to hunt, me.

His streams of dive bombers started to attack my merchant men, however I was not afraid. I had elected to play American (having won the roll to do so) and with a limited fleet of 90 points had chosen an air defense force with a mid sized punch in the form of a battle cruiser. He could have ended up with sink the fleet orders and a 125 points of battleships, but it looked like my gamble would pay off. In the end the Baltimore led the fleet without firing a shot.

Chris managed to sink one merchantman, but the USS Atlanta, and it's ability to target multiple aircraft attacks saw him lose a group of dive bombers. Elsewhere my Catalina was busy discovering Japanese submarines.

As the subs became exposed I was able to send my Flecthers to track them down. The merchants reorganised themselves around the Atlanta, and were never seriously threatened by air attacks again. My Wildcats launched from the Princeton were the ultimate screen, protecting the airspace over the fleet.

In time all Chris' submarines launched attacks, and in the process I lost on Destroyer, but that was all; two of his subs and all but one of his bomber wings were destroyed. Soon I was within striking distance of the opposite end of the table.

Chris conceded! His mission was to use subs and bombers to sink either my merchant fleet, or if my force didn't have one, my two largest ships. It proved to be a cagey game, and not truly knowing what the other guy needed to achieve, really made it fun, and feel more like a real historical engagement.

A fine end to War at Sea for now, and my third win in a row!

Elsewhere the club was bristling with games; pick of the bunch being a 15mm American Civil War game using the Fire and Fury Rules. Both players had attractive armies, and made an effort to present appealing scenery.

Another was a board game with high production values:

The main game in terms of players was one of (fairly) modern jet fighter combat. 1:600 scale Mig21; nicely painted, the base needs some work.

Leeds generally has one game anyone can join each week. It's a good thing I guess, but they do tend to limit it to games of low visual impact, and it reduces the tendency of players to join other games, which seem always to be seen as private affairs.

In a year of running games at the club, I've only had a handful of other opponents; which can be a shame, and it certainly (in my view) encourages laziness in the players, who know they needn't invest time and effort in bringing their own model, and arranging their own games. Last Wednesday was great as their were a total of 5 games on. Often there are only two or three.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

(I'll resist a pun) Fiasco 07

Well, last weekend i was at Fiasco; notionally helping the Leeds club set up and strip down the show. That also left the bulk of the day ambling around the traders, and trying to sell some books (not particularly successfully as it happened). I wasn't theoretically in a position to buy much; there seemed little point, when I'm moving in a month and everything is going into storage. But never the less I came back with twenty quids worth of second hand 28mm Spartans and Medievals; 32 unpainted Foundry and Blacktree figures - a bargain.

That aside I turned a twenty quid profit on the day, after selling a board game, and a handful of Role playing games.

As for the games on show, well, it wasn't all that inspiring. Firstly I apologise for the picture quality, but the Royal Armouries had apparently elected for 'mood lighting' in the main hall.

First A War of the Worlds game that I've seen at a couple of shows. It is always popular and well attended. The painting is not bad and it looks attractive. Though obviously, it their out at sea the tripods feet should not be showing!

Secondly a Napoleonics, or similar period game being played using the Piquet rules in 20mm. This was an appealing looking game, despite the hex terrain, which I'm not normally a fan of. It was nice to see someone using 20mm scale, though so far as I could tell, all the figures were metals.

Next an excellent looking display set in the Russian Civil War. Probably the best looking display at the show, with excellent scenery and pretty good figures.

You'll note I call it a display though. I never saw a dice rolled or a figure moved all day, those cavalry were weaving round the docks for seven hours.

How not to do a display game. The society of ancients game was presumably intended as a participation game, but it looked so ugly their stand seemed deserted all day. I've often seen the SOA at shows and it always appears to be two archaeology students re-fighting Cannae with twenty 15mm figures each over some bits of fuzzy felt. They do themselves no favours on the presentation front.
The Lance and Longbow society did a far better job by comparison, not the best painted figures or scenery, but clearly done for regular use; not merely for shows. The impact of seeing hundreds of 25-28mm landsknechts storming the earthworks was really nice. Old school wargaming.

Upstairs the Rules of Engagement people had a participation skirmish game set up. Basically just infantry and Hedgerow on a four by three table. The figures looked good, and the rules may be one for the future...

Lastly there was a game based on The German assault into the Romanian capital after their coup (I think, I am now pretty hazy on what their blurb said). Lovely scenery, and some nice models; another popular game.

So what have we learned? A game with visual impact makes for popularity, even if it is virtually static all day. A game that people are familiar with from other shows will likely find players. Helping traders to set up and strip down, is nice, but not recompensed by free entry to the show (especially when it means starting at 7am). And even when I know I can't I will still buy little models for some unspecified time in the future.
Oh well.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The glory of Sparta...

My last trip to the Harrogate club this year saw me field a Spartan army against my opponents Saxons; not the most historical of match ups; but hey, you can't always hope for that.

Although I'd got along well with painting the Greek elements of my Spartans, the Thracian elements to complete Brasidas' army of the north were still incomplete. Thus I fielded probably the smallest, hardest and cheesiest Warhammer army I could conceive of:

20 Spartan Royal Guard/Sacred Band with light armour and shields
23 Spartan naked hoplites with General Brasidas
24 Spartiate hoplites with light armour and shields
8 Slingers with shields
two units of 5 psoiloi with javelins and shields

Given that each hoplite unit was worth over 600 points on average, this was a tiny force where the heavy infantry cost the same as most other armies heaviest cavalry.

In contrast the Saxons were almost twice as numerous; fielding four units of 30 strong infantry and close to 40 skirmishers.

The terrain did a good job of splitting the table, most of it forming a line down the middle after randomisation. Lanes of movement were limited. I won the choice of end and deployment rolls so after picking the end with the terrain nearest to the deployment zone, I let Chris, my oppo deploy first.

He deployed a heavy unit far to his right, I responded with skirmishers on my right. To my surprise he continued to fill out his heavy line whilst I only deployed skirmishers; I felt he was sticking to a plan and maybe thought I'd deploy to meet his lines head on. But that wasn't my idea at all. I was going to use the discipline of the Spartans to fast march round that huge forest and flank him. I deployed behind my skirmish line leaving his line far away.

That done we moved our skirmishers, and got ready for the first turn.

I won initiative, and elected to move first. My Spartans marched forward, mostly 12 inches, the skirmishers able to cover their front and flank.

The Saxons started to advance and their skirmishers tried to remove my skirmish screen. In principle it should've been easy, but my unit of 5 Psoiloi made their morale test and stood.

On the next turn the skirmisher and Spartans charged, the Royal Guard turn to cover the flank with aid from the slingers. Remarkably the charging psoiloi catch the fleeing Saxon slingers and wipe them out. On their next turn the chase the Saxon bowmen off the table. 25 points of troops destroy around 150 points, what a return! The Spartans turn towards the heavy infantry, who start back pedalling away from me.

I guess at this point Chris recognised that I had neutralised the unfavourable terrain by out manoeuvring him. One flank was now safe as it was his table edge, whilst the other was secured by the unbreakable guards. A turn or two later I crashed into the Saxon lines.

Chris was able to hold the initial charge, and manage to flank both involved units. The Generals unit would eventually break and be run down, but the guard just kept grinding on. More importantly the other unit of hoplites were not phased, and were soon back in the hunt.

The guard broke, and then re-engaged the unit facing them. The Spartiates ground down another unit to nothing, but by this point Chris's final unit had marched round the back of the hill and set up a pincer move. One unit of Saxons hit the flank of the Spartiate. It was tough, but Spartans fight almost as well to the side as to the front. They held; and then using another Drilled manoeuvre, disengaged to face the other unit. Next turn they were charged front and rear, but that's still better than both flanks.

The Spartiates failed to win that, but at the same time the guard destroyed their enemy, and in a piece of rotten luck for Chris, both his enveloping units panicked; the result was all three units scattered. The guard turned and advanced, the Spartiates and one unit of Saxons rallied; the other fled the field.

Now it was down to the wire; so tense I forgot to get a photo. Whoever destroyed an enemy unit now would win. It was my turn, I charged the Saxons with the Spartiates; hitting their Huscarls (or easy to kill, slow moving folks in shiny jumpers as we came to term them), and smashing the line. They ran, but not far enough. I caught and destroyed them winning the game!

Two on the bounce!

The Spartan army is hard, really really hard. Of 86 figures I still had 43 left, exactly half! whilst of his 160 or so troops Chris ended up with only about 15 Viking skirmishers. The Sacred band is kinda cheesy, but it serves its' purpose perfectly. Chris is a canny player and his army was well engineered to be effective, but the Phalanx formation and Toughness 4 of my troops gave me the edge in hand to hand. Cap that with his sometimes terrible luck in combat rolls and the grinding match was mine.

This also meant a lot more than my win at Armati the other week, this was fully earned against a tough opponent. And it was my first win at the Harrogate club; proving I wouldn't just be a whipping boy!

Also it was nice that my army got many favourable comments as to its painting. In a club where unpainted is ok, it stood out. Not the only army there painted, my opponents for one; but pretty darned good if I do say so myself.

Elsewhere a half dozen games were going on, I plucked a few pictures of those near me. One chap had a very nice 40k Imperial Guard army; the old Perry Twins' figures styled after the Zulu War British:

Anothe game on was Legends of the Old West, with cowboys and Indians; not my bag gaming wise, but pretty enough figures:

Can I win next week too? wait and see...