Saturday, 25 February 2017

Cheap Animals for The Men Who Would be Kings in Africa

I've been wanting to get some wild animals for my Colonial Africa games, partly for dress setting but mainly to chase players around in some of my scenario games.

In Wilko the other day I saw they had a tray of assorted animals of various kinds, including a few African ones. Digging through the box I found a hippo, rhino and elephant, all of which looked as if they might do for 28mm (I didn't have a 28mm figure in my pocket so that I could double check, very silly of me I know!) but at less that £2.50 a pop I thought it worth a gamble.

Once I got them home I realised that the elephant was OK for a large bull, but the others were a little over size. Not that I was really that bothered. I'm playing "Pulp" Colonial Africa, not historically accurate Africa, where all the natives are fierce and the wild beasts are dangerous and very big.

They are just cheap plastic, but with a wash and a bit of dry brushing, they turn out acceptably enough. I've already had the rhino on the table, when it trampled a bunch of askari!

                                                          The Hippo - as it comes

                                                      The Elephant - ready for use

                                                         And in a gaming setting.

                                                       The Rhino - It's behind you!

                                              The Hippo again - still in need of sorting out

I hope the Hippo isn't feeling left out, but I'm not sure whether to base it in water or out, so I haven't done anything with it yet.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Find The Lady - a 3-way Lion Rampant Game

Mark & Henry came around to try out a scenario I'd designed for Lion Rampant the other day. We played the game twice, swapping roles for the second game. Interestingly the results were the same for both games,
Sir Roger won with 3 Glory, took the heiress off table +5, church looted -1, buildings burnt -1.
Sir William got 0 Glory, 3 buildings burnt +3, other player took heiress off-table -3.
Sir Simon got -3 Glory, other player took heiress off table -3.

In light of this I've tweaked the scenario and weakened the militia a bit (originally they were all foot Yeoman with mixed weapons).

The game is set in any period of civil war or when a weak king allows anarchy and baronial infighting, for example, England during the reigns of Stephen, John or Henry VI.

Lord Belmont has recently died leaving his unmarried daughter as his only heir. Now the vultures are gathering as the young girl has fled to the village of Little Smelling for shelter.

                          The residents of Little Smelling go about their business all unaware....

Each player has the same retinue:

1 unit mounted Men-at-arms
1 unit mounted Sergeants
1 unit foot Men-at-arms
1 unit foot Sergeants
1 unit Crossbowmen

Sir Roger - As a younger son of a impoverished baron, your future prospects are not good. Marrying a rich heiress like Lady Belmont would solve all your problems. Capture the daughter 3 Glory (5 Glory if you take her off table). You want to keep Little Smelling in good condition as it will become part of your lands and you want it to provide a good income, if any buildings are burnt lose 1 Glory for every 2 buildings destroyed and lose 1 Glory if the Church is looted.

Sir William - You have spend the past few years amusing yourself robbing passing merchants and pilgrims, until last year Lord Belmont captured you a threw you in his dungeon. The old fool died before he could hang you and you bribed a guard to let you escape. You are sure it was someone from Little Smelling village who led Lord Belmont to your camp, so you are going to teach the peasants a lesson. Set fire to the village, 1 Glory per building, up to a maximum of 5 Glory. If you can also capture the daughter gain 2 more Glory. If another player gets the girl off table lose 3 Glory.

Sir Simon - The church at Little Smelling is renowned for it's gold alter cross containing a relic of St Sebastian the Stupid. Every year pilgrims flock to the village, paying for the privilege to touch the relic. You are sure Lord Belmont was getting a cut of the money and you want the relic for your own church. For it's spiritual benefits of course, the cash it will bring in is incidental. Loot the Church 3 Glory (5 Glory if you take the relic off table). If you can also capture the daughter gain 2 more Glory. If another player gets the girl off table lose 3 Glory.

                                                    The retinues close in on the village

Village Militia - Lord Belmont was popular and the local people have rallied around to protect his daughter.
There are 2 units of foot Yeomen and 3 units of Bidowers. Militia will not voluntarily Attack any unit, unless in an attempt to rescue the heiress. Target priority is any unit within charge reach of the militia, then the nearest enemy unit.


                                                       The militia stand to.

Set Up - The village of Little Smelling consists of 7 buildings and a church, which should be at the centre of the village. You should also add in various other obstacles, such as a pond, fenced enclosures, sheds outbuildings etc. Each of the 7 major buildings should have a marker, which is revealed if the building is searched. These are:
1-5 Empty
6 A unit of foot Yeoman
7 The Heiress guarded by a unit of foot Yeoman.

The militia activate after all 3 players have had their turn.

The 3 units of Bidowers should be placed in 3 random buildings.

                                    Sir Simon's Sergeants attack the church.

Searching a building - if a unit starts it's turn in contact with an empty building, flip it's marker over, there is no need to pass an activation.
If the building is empty, a foot unit will occupy the building, a mounted unit remains outside (it's assumed that some have dismounted to search).
If the building contains a unit of foot Yeoman, immediately fight a melee, as if the active player had attacked. If the heiress' bodyguard are destroyed or forced to retreat, she will be found hiding in the building by the victorious unit.
Sir Simon uses the same mechanism to loot the church.

                            A battered Sir Roger has been given a bloody nose by the village militia
                                   (but in the background his sergeants have found the heiress!)

Burning a building - if a unit starts it's turn in contact with an empty building it may set the building on fire, there is no need to pass an activation.

                              Sir William gets peppered by Sir Simon's crossbowmen

Risk to the Heiress - If any unit escorting the heiress takes casualties, she is vulnerable to a Lucky Blow.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

ACW Black Powder Game

I had a full day of gaming on Thursday. Mark came around during the day for a ACW game, then in the evening I walked around to Ian's to try out Fighting Sail, the naval rules from Osprey. Lucky me!

The ACW games used Black Powder. I quite like BP for the ACW, I fell the rules are a better reflection of the slightly more fluid formations of the later period, like ACW or Franco-Prussian War, rather than the close ordered regimented formations of the Napoleonic or earlier wars. OK, we do use BP for the War of Spanish Succession, but that's with considerable modifications.

On to the battle. It was an Attack/Defend scenario. The Rebs were attempting a flank march around the Union positions and the lead division was tasked with taking a vital road junction that would allow the Corps easy passage around the Union army. Union scouts has spotted the manoeuvre and a Yankee division was racing to block the Rebel advance. As the Confederates arrive they find  just a single Yankee brigade in their path, but the rest of the division is marching fast to join them.

A road ran from the SW corner of the battlefield to the NE corner, with the objective being at the northern table edge. The Rebs arrived along the western half of the south edge (with a dense wood directly in front of them), the first Union brigade could be deployed anywhere up to 30cm in from the northern edge and the rest of the Union force would attempt to arrive from turns 2 and 3 (providing the made their Command rolls!).

The Rebs had 3 infantry brigades and divisional artillery of 2 rifle batteries and 2 smooth-bore. The Yanks also had 3 infantry brigades and 5 rifled batteries. The players had the option of brigading the artillery together of distributing among the infantry. Mark gave the smooth-bores to 2 of his brigades and left the rifles together. I detached 1 battery of the 1st brigade and left the rest en masse, they would attempt to arrive from turn 2 with the CinC.

To begin with everything went swimmingly for the Yanks. The Rebs only sent 1 brigade forward to attack the objective, the second moved into the middle of the field, where they created a bottleneck between the artillery and the wood. The third brigade advanced straight towards the wood (obviously their brigadier had his map upside down!). There was a bit of confusion when they reached the wood edge and Mark remembered that his attached battery couldn't actually enter the wood! The battery milled around by itself until the CinC rode over and took command. The wood was dense and gave a -1 Command penalty as well as halving movement, so the brigade spent a large part of the game tramping through the trees. this allowed the Yanks plenty of time to bring on the rest of the division and reposition the first brigade. By the time the Confederates were in a position to attack, I had a good defensive line with a brigade either side of the objective, the massed artillery covering the centre and the third brigade next to them, facing the woods.

The Reb central brigade were decimated by the massed artillery as they advanced, so vered to the west to strike the end of the Union third brigade. These were outnumbered, as their line was thinly stretch to cover the extent of the wood, but accurate musketry, combined with supporting fire from the guns, broke up the Confederate attack. Only one Rebel regiment made contact with the blue line and they were swiftly routed. Disordered units were sitting ducks for the artillery and the brigade was eventually broken.

At the same time the Confederate first brigade launched their attack and were bloodily repulsed, with one regiment routing and two being thrown back and pinned. With the third Reb brigade still lost in the woods it was looking good for the Union!

At this point I grew overconfident (big mistake!). I threw my first brigade forward to try and break another Confederate brigade. I  managed to hit a single, disordered unit with a fresh regiment and 4 supports. Then the Dice Gods started giggling and I lost the melee and the unit promptly routed. Now the Dice Gods burst out into gales of laughter as two of the supports also routed and the third retreated. A lucky volley in the next turn left them shaken, so my brigade was now broken!

At this point the Confederate third brigade finally found their way out of the trees and fell upon the end of the opposing line. These were veteran units with the Ferocious Charge ability so it was a short fight. In two turns they had broken the brigade in front of them.

We called a halt at this point, with both my flanks gone and my artillery line about to be overrun it was obviously a Confederate victory.



The Union reinforcements move into position

                                                        The Confederate attack falters


The Rebel bottleneck

Lost in the woods!

Before the Union counter attack.....


....and after!





Wednesday, 28 December 2016

1912/13 Balkans Wars with TMWWBK

I've had some excellent games withe new Osprey Colonial rules, The Men Who Would Be Kings by Dan Mersey, so I thought I'd give them a go for the 1912/13 Balkans Wars. All the necessary troop types are covered in the rules, good and poor quality regulars, militia, irregulars, field guns, machineguns and cavalry.

Here's a batrep on a recent game.

I wanted to try out both artillery and machine guns, so I went for two 36 point forces. As I had two players who were new to the rules, I used variable leadership ratings, but did not roll for commander's traits.

Greeks:
1 unit elite regular inf (Evzones)
2 units regular inf (Greek inf and Italian Legion)
1 unit irregular inf
1 unit machineguns (well served)
1 unit field gun (well served)

Turks:
3 units regular infantry
1 unit poor regular infantry (Militia)
1 unit irregular infantry
1 unit machineguns (well served)
1 unit field gun (poorly served)

                                                 The deadly Greek gunners take aim!

The Turks were attacking, trying to push the Greeks back from their position. Both forces deployed their field guns on a hill close to their started edges ( the first ranging shot from the Turkish gun showed that the artillery were just out of range of each other, so neither gun suffered any casualties for the entire battle).

The Turks deployed the militia and machineguns next to the artillery in the centre, sent a regular unit and the irregulars down the right through a wood and put the other two regulars on their left flank.

The Greeks had the Evzones and irregulars on the right, the regulars and Italians on the left and just had the machineguns in the centre.

The respective artillery were deciding factors in the battle. The Turkish gun, being poorly handled with a high leadership roll, only fired a couple of shots during the whole engagement, whereas the Greek gunners, well handled with a low leadership rating, only failed to fire in one turn, and inflicted a casualty with almost every shot. They started by bombarding the Turkish mgs as they advanced, wiping them out in three turns, long before they got a shot off!

                                         
                                         Greek infantry move up to support the Italian Legion
                              Turkish infantry and irregulars (now somewhat depleted) oppose them

On the Greek left the regulars were slow to advance, leaving the eager Italians to face two Turkish units alone. They gave as good as they got, but were soon whittled down. As the Greeks finally joined the fray, the artillery chipped in as they could see the Turkish irregulars at the edge of the wood. The irregulars and the Italians both broke and retreat about the same time. However the Italians quickly rallied and returned to the fight, whereas the Turkish irregulars kept running. By the time they had rallied the Turkish regulars were down to half strength, then a well-placed shell sent the irregulars scurrying back again.

                                                 Evzones advance through the woods
                                       Whilst the irregular troops wander around the outside
On the Greek right the Evzones advanced through the wood, whilst the irregulars took "the pretty way" around the outside. This meant that for a while the Evzones were under fire from two Turkish units, until the mgs and irregulars supported them on either side. In the following firefight the Greek mgs were cut down, the irregulars lost about 1/3 of their number and were forced back, but rallied and returned, whist one Turkish unit was reduced to about 1/3 for it's starting strength and the other suffered about 1/3 losses.

                                                 The Turkish gunners miss-fire again

In the centre the militia finally rushed forward and took cover in a walled enclosure with the intention of picking off the Greek gunners. Unfortunately, their first shots kicked up dust just short of the gun's position. In order to get into range they would have had to advance into the open, not only under fire from the guns, but in a position to be caught in a crossfire between the Greek infantry on either flank and the mgs. In the event they sat tight and were slowly blown away by the Greek gunners, who bombarded them whenever they didn't have a better target.

                                  The Turkish militia cower down under fire from the Greek gun
                                        Turkish irregulars break and run (and keep running)
                                                    Whereas the Italian Legion rally

We called a halt when all the Turkish units other than the gun were at half strength or less, and several were now pinned. They had no chance of taking the Greek position, who only had one unit down to half strength.
                                            A somewhat depleted unit of Turkish infantry

I was really pleased how the rules had work out for this period and it was a very enjoyable game.


Getting Started

Since we finished extensive building work in November 2016, I now have access to a suitable gaming room at home. I've started this blog to write up some of the games I play at home, rather than those I play at club. The club games will still go on the Tring Wargames Club Blog http://tringwargames.blogspot.co.uk/