Sunday, 23 April 2017

Winter War 192......? Part 7

Got my first game with these figures (well two games actually) at Tring Club on Friday. Great fun, The Men Who Would Be Kings is an excellent set and work well for games like this. Each game took less than an hour to play, we could have managed a third game but Bill had an early start as he was running a game at Salute the next day.

The Scenario

The RCMP have picked up a convoy load of American bootleggers they had been tracking, but all the trucks were empty. A local farmer reported seeing a group of vehicles parked up by a river crossing, so they must have hidden the booze somewhere nearby. Perhaps they had realised that they were being followed. A group of Mounties have been dispatched to collect the evidence so that the gangsters can be charged accordingly. The area is close to the border and frequented by American patrols, so a military escort has been provided.

The Americans are making a routine patrol across the border when a scout returns to report seeing a group of men burying the contents of four trucks along a stream bank. Presumably they are bootleggers hiding illicit booze. Standing orders are clear, any bootleg liquor is to be destroyed, so the patrol set off to destroy the stash.

On a 6x4 table, the two forces enter along the short edges. The table has a stream running across the middle of it, 4 markers are placed approx 6" from the stream, 2 on either side of it. Roll 1d6, the highest scorer is the attacker, the defender deploys first and the attacker takes the first move.

In order to recover/destroy evidence a unit must spend a Stand To action in contact with the marker. Once this happens the marker is removed and the player draws a chit (we used a set of 6 chits marked from 1-6). This is the value of the evidence gained/destroyed. At the end of the game the winner is the player with the highest score of evidence.

The Forces

Army Infantry - Regular Infantry + Veteran
RCMP - Regular Infantry
Naval ratings - Regular Infantry + Unenthusiastic
Lewis Team - Crewed weapon +  Well handled

Army Infantry - Regular Infantry
BAR Team - Crewed Weapon + Poorly Handled
3 x Militia - Irregular Infantry + Modern Rifle

I am using the Skirmish Level of TMWWBK, which does not usually allow for crewed weapons, but I am allowing lmgs. These are as per the rules for machineguns, with a 2-man crew, but I do allow them to Skirmish and move At The Double

We played the scenario twice, swapping sides for the second game. Both were great fun. Both games finished when one player conceded and said that he would withdraw because he had too few men left to achieve anything useful. In the first game the Canadians withdrew after searching two stashes, but won on victory points 8 to 4. In the second game the Americans withdrew when they were down to 6 men, but only destroyed one stash so lost on victory points by 10 to 1.

                                          American Infantry advance supported by the BAR
                                                                 American Militia
                                                Canadian Lewis gun team
                           Canadian Sailors take a pounding from US militia, down to half strength
                      Canadians attempt to cross the stream under covering fire from the Lewis gun
Kudos to Bill for taking the character of the RCMP to heart. As his unit of Mounties splashed across the stream, the BAR team rushed up the other side of a rocky mound and took position right in front of them. With a cry of "A Mountie always gets his man!" he charged up the slope into melee.
It should have been a walkover, 6 men against 2, the Mounties fight on 5+ to hit, the BAR team need a 6. Both sides lost one man so the Mounties went tumbling back down the slope and the surviving BAR man cut down 2 more of the redcoats when he activated!
The Mounties passed their Pin Test, so decided it was safer to just shoot the Yank in the head, which they did in the next turn.
                               The Mounties prepare to charge (the second BAR crewman is hiding in the rocks).
                                          And the view from the American perspective

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Winter War 192......? Part 6

Just in time for tonight's first game, I've painted up some naval ratings and all-important RCMP in red tunics. Yes, it's not the most practical dress for fighting in the Canadian winter, but they look good. Plus Mounties are tough!

The sailors are from Tiger Miniatures' Ice Station Lima range, unfortunately no officers are available yet. I debated which colour to paint their hats. Painting them white look right, but marked them as Americans. I went for blue in the end for two reasons. I wanted them as Canadians for this game and I plan on mixing them in with some civilians as a bootlegging ship's crew for a future game and blue looked more generic. I could always repaint them if I needed to, or, once the officers are released have a unit of each.

The postman's just delivered a largish box, Huzzah! The snowy hills and rocky outcrops I ordered from Products For Wargamers, just in time for tonight's game.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Winter War 192......? Part 5

I've now got the Canadian and US Regular Army figures all finished. I also managed to get to the local fabric shop and pick up some white fleece fabric for a table cover. I quite like the effect, so the latest figures are pictures in their "natural habitat" as it were.

                                                                Canadian Army

                                                                       US Army

                                                         The entire cast to date

I now have enough for a game of TMWWBK at the skirmish level, although not a full 24 points on each side. I can muster 18 points of Canadians and 20 points of Americans. For the time being I can upgrade a unit of Canadian army to elites and balance it out for now. I've ordered some more British Infantry and Mounties to allow a variety of choice on the Canadian side, plus some sailors in winter gear to boost the American side.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Winter War 192......? Part 4

The next batch of figures are finished, some regular army types this time. I've still got a whole bunch to finish basing, but hopefully I'll get some done today (although looking at the glorious blue skies this morning, real life may get in the way a bit).

I have set myself the task of having a game's worth of this project table-ready for 2 weeks time, when I'm running an "Introduction to The Men Who Would Be Kings" game for one of the guys at the Tring Wargames Club.

                                          Some Canadian Army officers (with faithful dog)

                                                           US Army BAR team

I have also bought some ready-made terrain pieces, the Frozen Ponds from the Battlefield in a Box range. They are intended for 10mm to 15mm, but fit quite wells as smaller areas of bad going, or even impassable terrain (depending on how thin I treat the ice as being).

Monday, 3 April 2017

Winter War 192......? Part 3

Just a quick post with another batch of figures for my project. This time some fur-clad hunters and trappers...or are they bootlegging gunmen?

And the whole cast so far.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Winter War 192......? Part 2

In order to play these games I have in mind, I need something to play on, so let's get on with terrain. I started looking at gaming mats, there are quite a lot out there now. I rejected US companies because of the cost of shipping across the pond and I could also discount a lot of the winter mats that are aimed at Frostgrave, I don't want paving or ruins showing through the snow. Both Deep Cut Studio and Tiny Wargames make snowy tundra mats that look really good, but still did not feel like winter on the Canadian/US border to me. So I have decided to go for a simple white cloth, I can pick up 2 metres of white fleece from the local sewing shop for a tenner (my wife does patchwork and quilting, so I know where all the fabric bargains are), which is a lot cheaper than the £60-£70 I'd be paying for a good gaming mat. The money saved can go to buying some ready-made terrain and save me the time and effort of making too much myself.

I do fancy a small river, or at least a stream and have seen a nice one on the Emperor Toads Emporium site (and I am saving money on the gaming mat!). But I do have two box loads of small scale rivers in the loft for my 10mm games, which would make a good stream in 28mm. as I have more than 24 feet of small river (perhaps a touch excessive, but they were a bargain on Ebay a few years back) I can afford to donate a few pieces to my new project.

So after a good going over with a stiff brush to loosen as much of the green flock as possible, a couple of coats of white paint and a few dead looking clumps of grass, I now have some suitable wintry stream pieces.

I've also picked up some vehicles from my local Tuesday Flea market. There's a stall that specialises in diecast models, usually the more expensive top-end stuff, but he usually has a couple of bits boxes of cheap stuff. After a bit of a rummage I got these three for less than £10 the lot.

This does mean that I have to think about roads now, as I don't think these would get very far trying to drive cross country in snow!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Winter War 192......? Part 1

I've started on a new project on a little known engagement between the USA and Canada in the 1920s. Both governments hushed this up and buried all relevant files where the sun would never shine. However, in the last batch of official US documents released by Wikileaks was a long forgotten file.  

In 1920, the the Jones Act required all goods entering or leaving Alaska had to be transported by American carriers and shipped to Seattle prior to further shipment. This caused outrage in Canada and led to Canada initiating border trade controls in retaliation. In remote areas this caused issues for those who regularly crossed the border as a part of their occupation, such as hunters, loggers and bootleggers. As tempers flared, violence broke out between armed civilians on both sides and Canadian customs officials came under fire. They sent for the RCMP to restore order. Americans complained about high-handed behaviour towards them by the Mounties, after all not ALL Americans worked for Al Capone, in response American military units were moved to the border to protect US citizens' rights. Canada countered this move by sending their own military to support the RCMP.

Intermittent violence continued until a group of Mounties challenged a US Army patrol, who had wandered across the border in a snowstorm. A US soldier slipped on ice and accidentally discharged his rifle, hitting one of the Mounties, triggering a firefight which left two Mounties and three US servicemen wounded. Over the next few days there were numerous low level engagements between the US Army and Canadian soldiers and the Mounties until the respective governments managed to resume control and stop the fighting. After frantic negotiations, peace was restored and all those involved interviewed by government officials, who made it quite clear that the whole thing had NEVER HAPPENED!  

So much for the "history", on with the game. I was inspired by Tiger Miniatures "1919 Winter War" range of US and British troops in winter kit, plus Tiger also do Mounties and miners/trappers. I bought a few packs as samples and liked what I saw, so I bought some more figures from Tiger's "Ice Station Lima" range of 1920s soldiers/gunmen in polar outfits. I was thinking of using Chain of Command as a ruleset. Major house refurbishment last year meant the project stalled and the figures spent 9 months in the loft, part painted and unbased. 

I thought it was time I got on with this idea, but still wasn't sure about rules. To field two platoons plus supports will need well over 100 figures and I've only got about 44 figures so far. I really want to play some smaller games with what I've got and I'm not sure Chain of Command will allow for the more irregular types of gangsters, hunters etc. Then I picked up The Men Who Would Be Kings and was inspired. Although they are written for 19th century conflicts, I used them for early 20th century games with no problem. They cover regulars and various irregular types, plus the skirmish-level option only needs six-figure units. These rules will allow me to fights engagements between regular army on both sides, as well as clashes between loggers and trappers, bootleggers and police etc.

First up are some terrain/objective markers.

Now the first figures, a group in skin jackets, these will work for any non-military types like hunters or bootlegger gunmen.

The next batch are some RCMP in winter gear. I will probably get a few Mounties in the classic red uniforms, realistically not very practical in cold weather, but you can't not have Mounties in red jackets, can you.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Funny Thing Happened in Frostgrave last Night.........

We played the 5th and 6th games in our Frostgrave campaign last night. My Necromancer wizard, Magnor the Malevolent, and his apprentice, Cretinnodcock the Expandable, have not been doing very well so far. In the first 4 games Magnor has died twice, both times killed by his rival, Khanberra. Once he was shot in the head with an elemental bolt and the other time Khanberra beat him to death with his staff! Fortunately on each occasion it turned out to be a Close Call. One of the thugs, Arak Gul the Simple, was later heard to comment that the bosses should swap epithets, which earned him latrine digging duty for the next month!

So I approached game 5 with Magnor at level 6, opposed to Khanberra at level 11. The scenario was Genie in a Bottle and the said Genie appeared with the very first treasure one of my thugs picked up! Fortunately Magnor had laid down a Fog spell immediately in front of the treasure to cover it from enemy bowmen, and I could pop the genie down on the far side of the fog. This made Khanberra and his accompanying ranger the closest visible target and the genie hared off in their direction.

The next move Khanberra got cunning and backing away from the genie used a Push spell to knock him back to my side of the fog.

Two can play at that game, so Magnor moved across to get his angle right and also cast a Push spell. I rolled a 20 for the damage effect and threw the genie back through the fog, ending up even closer to Khanberra that he had been at the start! Thus we had invented the game of Genie Ping Pong, soon to be played by all the cool wizards.

Khanberra did eventually escape the genie by cunningly letting him catch the ranger first! But was shortly afterwards eaten by the bear, who went on to eat another of his rangers as well.

The soldier in the pictures with the treasure did escape because Amsmag the apprentice managed to cast a Leap spell on him before the bear and genie activated. However doing that left him exposed somewhat and I filled him with arrows, then Cretinnodcock finished him off with a Bone Dart to the head. At the end of the game only one member of Khanberra's warband had escaped alive, with only the one treasure, Magnor got the other 5.

The next game, The Complex Temple, went even better for me as I ended up with all 6 treasures and once again both Khanberra and Amsmag died. The high point of that game was two of Khanberra's new barbarians trying to fight one of the magic pillars and losing! They both took so much damage that they were easily finished off by two wandering skeletons that turned up.

At the end of all that we now both have Level 12 Wizards for the next game.

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!