Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Wicker Man - Angelsey 60ad

We attempted a big game of Hail Caesar at the club a few weeks back, my late posting is due mainly to personal matters resulting in me putting the blog very much on the back burner of late.  But I digress; with so much time passed since the event, I'm not going to attempt a lengthy narrative of the battle, but the aim for the Romans was to make it to the Wicker Man in the centre of the battlefield and stop the pagan cults that would give so much psychological advantage to the Celtic hordes.  Myself I played as the Celts, one of several commanders who found our troops to be far from enthusiastic for the coming fight.

Initial dispositions.  Also pretty much final dispositions for some of the Celts!

Rome began from a very limited deployment, but had the advantage of effective command

Some Celts advance, but scarcely enough to worry the Romans

None of which serves to stop the Roman advance

There was no denying the threat of the Celtic masses.  But it was all bluff and little bluster...

Celtic cavalry led the half-hearted early attack

The Richards, one for each side, fought out the bulk of the action in front of the Pagan effigy.

The rest of the Celtic army remained reticent, happy to watch its cavalry being destroyed.

A small number of light troops began to reach the Roman lines, and one in particular case, humiliated the Praetorian Guard in a protracted engagement.

Slowly the extreme right flank of the Celtic army advanced on the Romans, who were closing on their target in the centre.

Finally, rashly, the Celts on the right charged the Roman line they gambled may be over extended. The lead Roman elements proved to be; but the second line fell on the Celts and destroyed untold numbers.

With time short, the Celts arriving late did at least save their numbers from greater loss. The Romans arrived too late at the flaming statue; an effective draw.
A game hamstrung by a lack of time; sharing billing with the club AGM, we only had a couple of hours for game play; another hour would've helped loads but the poor command rolls of the Celts meant they never really stood a chance of getting involved before Rome was in a position to beat them with ease.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Rare Outing

I realised as I prepared for this game, that it was my first Warhammer battle in around four months.  
[This section of text has had to be removed, due to adverse reaction].

Presently there is only one player who I enjoy games of Warhammer with, as he is not of a competitive leaning,  my infrequent games of WFB seem to be at Jason's welcoming abode alone presently.

Our most recent game, was a stunning display of preparatory slackness on my part too.  I simply took the same list as last time; having found it in the army book where I left it.  Jason on the other hand took the new-ish  Tomb Kings army; one I've only rarely faced.  My deployment was linear, but with the bulk of my Orc and Goblin horde on an open plain in the centre of the battlefield.

My overall commander, Skarsnik, managed to delay a couple of the key Tomb King units and so Jason's line looked patchy at first.  As ever I took the first turn when the dice permitted me to, and made a swift advance against the Undead legions.  As is often the case, my Orcs and Goblins do one thing well above all others, and that is passing Animosity tests.  I recall failing two in the game, which at 4000 points is not too shabby...

One issue with Jason's 10 foot wide table is exposing your flanks to the enemy.  I think to minimise the impact of this we both went with a compact centre, and a handful of minor units to cover the other half of the board.  I was relying on my light cavalry to cut down the scale of the field.  But Jason was able to stop my stronger right flank (closest to the camera) with some tiny, but resistant units.

In the centre the Orc Giant led the assault, with artillery fire from Doom Divers and Rock Lobbers covering the attack.  But the Reserves of Jason's army were arriving fast:

His Snake riding knights (real name escapes me) made short work of a sacrificial unit of Savage Orcs I hoped might delay them whilst I reached the main line of the enemy.

But the Undead were not for making my life easy, and indeed my flank attacks on his right, along with Jason's fear of 'Hand of Gork' thrusting my units right into his path caused him to hold back whilst his fearsome snakes did their merciless work.

When they finally countered, once my Giant had been killed, the Undead charged and swiftly destroyed - thanks to powerful magic - Skarsnik's huge unit of over 90 goblins.

By now I had cleared the flanks, but my centre was collapsing.

I conceded after five turns, knowing that whatever totting up the points of the battle may have suggested it was clear that I had lost on the battlefield.  Yet for all it's onesidednesss, it was a great fun experience.  Magic was a major factor in the game, I got few spells off but those I did helped stem the tide, and I was able to contain some of the Tomb Kings magic, but their spell to increase their fighting abilities did for me.  The Snake riders proved absolutely lethal, and something to deal with more robustly next time.

But mainly I think I lost by spreading my flanks out too far, costing me the ability to counter my opponent.  It turns out, several lessons learned.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2/39th and the Loyal Lusitanian Legion

I've been painting Napoleonic infantry for the first time in ages, more pointedly British infantry for the first time in years:

The 2/39th Served in the Peninsular Wars from 1809, seeing action at Busaco, Torres Vedras, Albuera and Vittoria.  Their uniform being of green facings.  I elected to do the unit in badly worn uniforms with lots of repairs and locally sourced cloth:

I'd forgotten how long it took to assemble Victrix Brits, and how tedious the British uniform is to paint, but after twenty or so hours they were done.

I went from those straight into a unit of Portuguese to follow up, making use of a ancient selection of Hinchcliffe miniatures donated to me by a club member.  They were rather basic British infantry models, but this meant a simple conversion would be enough to turn them into the Loyal Lusitanian Legion:

Serving in this form from 1808 to 1811, the LLL was a light infantry formation raised by colonel Robert Thomas Wilson, also present at Busaco, but noted for it's raiding activity.

Personally I think there is a charm to the Hinchcliffe models, sure they are slight and crude compared to the Victrix but they paint up easily and en-masse they look fine.

So that's two more regiments for my Anglo-Portuguese army, in the same number of weeks.  Providing valuable reinforcement for the upcoming game.  Next up, more French I think...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blasted and Beaten Down

I went around to George's to try out the demo board he's been working on for the Bolt Action game.  Given he'd only spent a month of his spare time on the boards, the finished result (with my reworked buildings and wrecks) looked really good:

A nice touch is the shot down German fighter, which provides a distinctive touch of period to the battlefield, the work George had done to place the terrace in to it's environment was excellent too.

Obviously we tested the boards with a game of Bolt Action, and decided on 750 points.  I'd picked a themed list of a defensive detachment, centred around an anti tank gun and an anti aircraft system, which I elected to place in reserve.  Just as well really.

The British, in game, have a lot - I mean a LOT - of artillery.  And so George started the game by blowing the crap out of my Germans.

Everyone having taken a couple of pin markers, we attempted to weather the storm...

The British advanced and unleashed yet further artillery.  For my part this left me with half my force, including my own Artillery observer and my sniper completely out of action.

Thankfully my flak gun arrived and started rattling 20mm rounds into hapless British infantry units.

Whilst on the opposite flank, the one German infantry squad to avoid the tender mercies of the British 25 Pounders, kept the rest of the Brits at arms reach.

Still with most of my troops wore down by artillery, it was proving an uphill struggle to keep the Tommies at bay, not helped by their running a PIAT team forward to destroy my Flak gun.

The British now held one of the three objectives and were close to contesting another.

This forced me in to relatively petty reprisals.  Turning my Pak 40 first onto the British Bren gun carrier, and then onto the infantry, with a handful of HE rounds someone had provided for us.

Why not the Humber armoured car?  Well sadly, a flaw in the Recce rules means that any time you turned a gun on the Humber it could simply hide behind a nearby building, for free.  It was just pointless to shoot at it, so I didn't bother.  That rule is irrefutably broken.

As was my force by the end of the game.  With a steady battering of fire my troops were just incapable of offering resistance.  A Pak 40 and a dozen infantry slunk away.

An enjoyable game, but due to the artillery, very much a one sided battle.  As I've already said this month, Bolt Action is an imperfect beast.  But George's terrain is excellent!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Big Game Time again soon...

Well, this upcoming Easter Sunday (the 31st) will be a big historical refight at the Nightowls, organised by yours truly once again.

I'm not going to reveal the battle as yet, as I don't want my players brushing up on it in advance, but I've been busying away on new units for my Napoleonics armies, with a British and Portuguese Battalion on their way to completion.  Army rosters are prepared, and scenario rules on their way.  The aim is for over a thousand models on a nice big battlefield.

Places for around nine players, with 5 or 6 already filled, but any locals are welcome to come along and get involved, even if you only end up as a subordinate....

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Saga - Epic: Greek Battleboards

Well after some procrastination, and a few delays, the first two of my Saga Battle Boards are ready for general consumption.

Athens: The Delian League

Click for a larger view - Permission to save to your computer to print for private use granted

The Athenians are organised and strong in their classic Hoplite formations; allow your enemies to come on to you and use your superior coordination to defeat them.

Sparta: The Peloponnesian League

Click for a larger view - Permission to save to your computer to print for private use granted

A man of Sparta is worth a dozen of any other nation, and they expect the same of their allies.  Fearsome in combat and noted for their silent intimidation of their opponents.  A Spartan will always fight as if it was for his life.

All rules Remain Copyright of Tomahawk Studios and Gripping Beast, The author reserves only the right to be identified as the creator of these items.  PDF's are available on request, or even better on the blog if someone could tell me how to set such up!

I hope that these will be of some use to you folks out there, I'd love to hear what you think, and possible amendments can then be made available to all.

Coming (not very) soon (at all); Persia and Thrace.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Bolt Action - A Review of Sorts

Over the last few weeks there's been a lot of Bolt Action gaming going on for me, it is the present trend at the club and has won over plenty of converts.  That said, I'm not completely sold, and I'll explain as we go, but for a start here's an account of a recent game between myself and George.

We set up a small village using the buildings and wrecks I had made for the club display game (more on that in coming posts).  My Germans would defend, aiming to hold the centre of the village.

Whilst George's British would make an attack from the road and fields to my north.

 Whilst George had gone for a regular force with armour and transport in support, and thus had numbers on his side, I had taken a veteran forcethat was much smaller.

In game terms this proves significant for a couple of reasons.  Firstly command and control; troops are one of three quality levels - Green, Regular or Veteran - needing 8, 9, or 10 on 2d6 to activate; further modified by the presence of an officer, or by the build up of pin markers.  A veteran unit has a much bigger advantage statistically starting from a base of 10 for rolls.  Moreover veterans can only be removed as casualties on a roll of 5+, when the norm is a 4+; a huge advantage.  Sure they cost more, but they are worth it!

Germans also have access to incredible firepower at a squad level.  In simple terms infantry shooting is a number of d6 based on the squads weapons complement - a rifle is one d6, a light machine gun usually 3d6, and so on - with a base to hit of 3+.  Now this is modified by the usual values, +1 for moving, +1 for light cover, etc; but it is also modified by each Pin Marker on the unit - so a unit with three pins would get a +3 to hit modifier.

 How bad can that be you may ask; well, each time a unit takes hits from fire, is hit by artillery, or otherwise adversely affected, it takes at least one Pin Marker.  By concentrating fire, a player can neutralise a unit even if he never causes any losses.  To activate once pinned, you roll a command check minus any pin modifiers, so as units get bullied down by fire they can reach a point of near total inactivity.  Yes you can elect to keep your head down and remove one pin automatically, and if you activate you also remove one, but the only quick way to remove them is by rallying, which of course requires a successful command check, and then takes a turn.

I practice we've found that any unit with three or more pin markers is screwed.  Not only does it have a hard time activating, but if it chooses to fire the modifiers will mean that it almost always needs to roll 6's followed by 6's to hit.  Slim chances.

In the game George was playing hid and seek with my armour, whilst laying immobilising fire on unit's where he could.  The superior command structure of my Germans allowed them to blunt the British attack.

I was using smoke screens from my light artillery to screen my troops.  Smoke is a useful deterrent in the game, but overall I'm uncertain about the artillery rules, light artillery is very inaccurate but there is no danger from it if it misses.  It can readily be purchased for use on table, but for the big guns you need an observer, usually an expensive purchase, but for some reason free for the British!

Heavy artillery is very powerful and rather abstract, but it's main role is to add loads of pin markers to unit's under it's area of effect; D6+6 inches from its target point.  On the down side it has a 1 in 6 chance of being friendly fire, but either way it is devastating, and can really grind a game down.  Use with caution.

In the centre the Brits tried to storm up the road and attack the main building.  A recce section went in first and were cut down in an assault against a well equipped squad; An infantry squad lined up nervously to try next.

Assaults work simply and effectively, with each model involved usually rolling one D6 each needing the normal 4+ to cause a casualty.  Of course veterans are harder to hit, troops with assault weapons (Pistols, sub machine guns, assault rifles) get more attacks, and whilst usually the assaulter goes first, if the defender is in a building or fortifications the action is simultaneous.  There's nothing much wrong with this.

Having suffered more than half losses on their attack the recce squad needed a break test, against their modified command value, fail - as they did - and you are removed straight away.  Broken surrendered or mopped up.

Late in the game, my Panther finally got a view of the Cromwell and let loose with the big gun.

The armour rules are simple, but work.  The basic hit mechanic is the same as for infantry, but the modifiers for armour play out a little differently.  All vehicles take at least a 6+ to wound head on, and so for example a medium tank like the Cromwell has frontal armour of 9+  However get around the side, as my Panther did, and the armour is at minus -1 (or -2 for the rear).  

To penetrate the armour once you've hit it's the classic mechanic of rolling a D6 and adding your penetration value of your gun, which in my case was +6.  Therefore I only needed a 2+ on the dice to penetrate, I rolled a five and smashed through the Cromwell blowing it to bits.  There is a nice touch that although the damage table is simple, the degree by which you beat the enemy armour modifies the result, and also it is impossible for weak weapons to do any harm to super heavy armour.  Still, 'Blammo' and the tank was done for.

At the end of the game it was technically a draw, par the scenario rules, the book contains 6 fairly standard scenarios.  In losses terms the Brits had been hammered, whilst most of the Germans were able to slink away.

As for the rules, well my view (and not all will agree) is that they are flawed, but workable; get used to how to deal with some of the extreme effects of the rules as written and the game plays well enough; for what is essentially a Warhammer 40k/Battlefield Evolution inspired system, with a command control  system largely lifted from Epic 40k that perhaps doesn't work as well as may have been hoped.

Still, it is accessible, would work in 15 & 20mm just as well as 28mm, and is developing a following.  Is it the best set of rules for WW2?  Not even close; but they are, OK.

I don't think my damning them with faint praise will stop them being popular anyway!