Monday 31 October 2016

Thoughts on Naval Map Moves

I am still reading Peter Perla's "Art of Wargaming" (slow but enjoyable progress as I generally get to read only five mins in the morning before I go to work) and I have got to the point in his book where he mentions a pivotal point in wargaming 'folklore' as in "the history of".

The advent of the true hobbyist use computers occurred as reported in Avalon Hill's The General magazine. This "shot that was (not) heard around the word (but set technology on a trajectory of what would surely follow)". The "What" in fact was  a modest garage 'crocodile-clip-battery-lamp' contraption "Heath-Robinson'ed" up to assist the 'Human Interactio'n of naval search grid for Avalon Hill's "Sink the Bismarck" board game.

This allowed a novel "gotcha" form in real-time playing double blind. Indeed the naval side of warfare and wargaming has lead innovation through "the mother of invention - necessity". This got me thinking of how I could network or link (in a manual sense) a collection of ships/task forces simply for a "Fog of War" naval chase (see below, the player's ship is in the central hex):

The threat detection should span outwards with a direction (aka the Compass Rose) and perhaps a distance, plus mode of detection (and time of spotting), Reinventing the wheel but interested to see if I come out with the same answers as I would have before I had read Perla's book! (If that logic makes sense). Watch this space,

I was thinking a "Sink the Bismarck" style of game in the near future although the Napoleonic or Ancient period might be a less challenging start.

Thursday 27 October 2016


Just cracked open this starter level X-Wings game (only about ten years after everybody else around me had played it and raved about it). So I invited some old school friends around for some drinks and crisps and "had a ball" introducing them to "playing with toy (space) soldiers". Despite my best efforts the Rebel Scum won (no prises for guessing I was a TIE Fighter pilot) quite convincingly in fact, despite my intense cribbing of the rules (see below for some head-to-head lazer action):

The X-Wing YouTube video tutorials kicked things off nicely:

The key moment of the night came down to my TIE strike on the last remaining (battered) X-Wing with no shields remaining and only two hull points. I rolled good and he rolled poor dodging so I had two critical hits (see below, evil laughter "Ha, ha, I have you now"):

Except I manage to draw two critical hits that "cause no damage" but restrict his moves. I then soon disappeared in a blinding flash of light .... oh dear!

In short TIE Fighters need shields (kinda like a Japanese Zero fighter, fast and slinky but prone to exploding), X-Wings are like P-47 Thunderbolts and Y-Wings are like IL-2 Flying Tanks (much respect for that Trench Run on the Death Star boys). Looking forward to the next game, naturally I need more up-gunned 'baddy' models ;)

Note to self: Advanced TIE Fighter (see Darth Vader's) is equipped with Shields! A must have Xmas present for Santa's list

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Airfix Battles Play Test: Scenario Two - "Save Colonel Parker" (Part 1 of 2)

Gaining the initiative the German player opened up with his Veterans spraying the large American Squad causing two casualties (see photograph below):

The German MG42 team was now set-up and in position to fire (see below):

However the American player was able to rally his squad first by using an interrupt which recovered their morale. In retribution the reinvigorated  US Squad then opened up on the Germans taking out all three remaining Veterans (claiming VPs as well), leaving the German Commander horribly exposed for the next turn. all depended on who got the next initiative. The Germans got it. The German Commander quickly played an Artillery Card and MG42's followed up breaking the US Squad (see below):

The German Grenadiers now played their card and on the last move of turn two jumped into the objective capturing the "dazed" Colonel Parker. With the large US Squad no longer in an imposing fire base it was left to a crack team of Snipers and four Veterans with their commander to try and wrinkle them out by the end of the last turn or the Germans would lose the game. The Grenadiers were isolated (as in away from the MG42 LOS and supporting fire) and suffered from some good shooting from the Snipers who cunningly kept out of range. However it was up to the US Captain to "lead the way" and close combat the farm with his Veterans forming a brave rescue attempt (see below):

Despite knocking down two Germans the Americans were caught in a terrible "machine pistol storm" and were forced back. Withe the objective firmly in their hands (and the game won) the Germans passed their remaining move so to avoid any embarrassing American interrupts [that could have saved the day]. So it was "For you Colonel Parker the war is over!" (see below):

End Game: Colonel Parker is now on the way to a POW camp! Unless there is a daring escape ;)

The game seemed all the more epic for inclusion of classic Airfix illustrations on eh cards. For my part it left me wanting to unearth the old Airfix classic figures I know I have in the loft, as well as the new British Infantry figures. I sense a micro Airfix renaissance project wise in the near future. You don't need that many figures if truth be told :)

Monday 24 October 2016

Airfix Battles Play Test: Scenario Two - "Save Colonel Parker" (Part 1 of 2)

Airfix Battles has been languishing at the bottom of my "to play in the near future" draw for some time now, so I naturally leapt at the chance to finally "get a game under the belt". It may be branded as an introductory wargame but it looks simple and 'neat'. I have seen so many  'advanced' (aka unnecessary complex) set of rules leap into the "bin of rule despair" I will give anything a go for inspiration and novelty.

Note: The playing pieces and counters are of high quality (which bodes well) and have already cross-fertilised other game systems

Scenario 2: Rescue (or try and capture in my case) Colonel Parker who has got himself trapped and injured in a French farmhouse (see middle square of the board below) in the early hours of the D-Day operation. He carries vital operational information, so both sides "want him" for completely different reasons (see below, terrain used instead of paper game board, US coming in from top and the Germans from the bottom):

A subtle twist to game play is that both sides position two pieces of blocking (LOS) terrain, so cover appear (see below) to help both sides get a safe route "near" the farmhouse. The US are apparently trying to recover from a loss in Scenario 1, while I as the Germans are tasked to "nab" Parker and spoil the party for the Americans (see below, "spot the difference"hedges have miraculously appeared):

Side set-up alternatively "squad" at a time, the player winning the initiative choosing to go first or second. The US have a powerful Full Squad (see bottom), a gaggle of Veterans and their commander (see center) and a small half-squad or large team of Snipers (see top below). The American troops being a friend's metals, from the Britannia Miniatures WWII US range (see below, the long green line):

The Germans put a Grenadier unit (powerful but short range), the commander with his Veterans and a  pair of deadly (at least I am hoping so) MG42 machine guns to the right. Nobody is in Line of Sight (LOS) so the winner of the initiative can focus on effective movement. The objective is to hold the central farmhouse square for "two turns" and be deemed to effectively have captured or rescued Colonel Parker (see below):

The Germans are my old (favourite) Revell Panzer Grenadier figures (bought in the twentieth century but painted in the twenty first century). The Captain barks orders after to move up to the right of farmhouse, The large US Squad plays an interrupt card and takes out one of their number (see below, quite a nice game mechanic):

The German MG42's set-up to the far right of the German line in a rather exposed position while the German Grenadiers tuck in behind the objective ("Farmhouse Bleu") where Colonel Parker is hiding. This is part to act as a threat against any quick US snatch attempt and partly to keep the Grenadiers safe and out of long range fire (the Grenadiers only have a range of three whereas the normal is four). The German's hunker down and tensely wait for the next turn (see below):

Next: Crunch time "Colonel Parker tries to hail a cab."

Saturday 15 October 2016

Normandy 1944: Chain of Command Game at The Exiles (Part 2 of 2)

Things are looking a tad "dark and dangerous" for the Brits.

British perform a Dunkirk style tactical retreat (aka mad scramble away from the enemy, as quick as you can), with thankfully relatively effective and good defensive fire (courtesy of the Bren, it does have its merits in skilled hands or rather good dice) on both centre and southern areas, followed up with a "quick call" for reinforcements from the Third Squad in the north. Annoyingly for the Germans they are left rather pinned in the woods which somewhat stifles their creativity and means more of a rebuild option. (see below):

Germans try and hold it together in the middle and press on to push an advantage in the south but then started a rather hideous run of strange dice (and it was not just me getting the rules wrong this time. The British kept getting flip-flop rolls of double sixes on their "Chain of Command" dice. Once was good fortune, twice was laughing in the face of adversity but three consecutive times was like slapping the German Commander across the face. That way shock can really build up on the Germans (see below):

Bang it then just goes pear shaped for the Germans as the unwashed northerners storm the woods and the Germans take to flight which sends them straight through "friends" which does not help the German morale and cohesiveness situation. A German jump-off position is in dire danger on being overrun and that would be very bad for German Force morale (see below):

As German forces tend to do the Germans rally and counterattack which shocks the British but then the British Commander does his favourite flip-flop trick and a whole German squad and the senior German Commander disappears from the Axis Order of Battle, Definitely not good for the German Force morale (see below):

As the British recover it is clear that a "rout the enemy" is in progress. The best the Germans can do is to relocate a jump-off point (this is just putting off the inevitable) bu tas their force morale is really flagging, having e lost a whole squad and a host of officer types (well a NCO, Medic and Senior NCO), the best they can do is form an Alamo hunkered down in a salient (see below):

At this moment in time discretion seems to be the far, far better part of valour and the Germans quietly slip off the board so this one goes down as a British win.

Many thanks to "The Exiles" for their hospitality and generosity, as well as the good game. Hope I can stage another game sometime in the future,


Friday 14 October 2016

Normandy 1944: Chain of Command Game at The Exiles (Part 1 of 2)

One extra added bit of spice to the UK Connections Conference was that it allowed me to visit my old London wargames club "The Exiles" situated just round the corner from KCL near Waterloo, my wargaming "Alma Mater". This is where "I won my spurs and "came of age" as a wargamer. It was my delight to host a simple Chain of Command WW2 Skirmish Game, scenario one "The Patrol in No-man's Land", to some old faces and some new. I hope the pictures are not too confusing, a large hex based play mat with smaller mini-hexagonal terrain pieces inside them representing Line Of Sight (LOS) obstacles.  The houses are 15mm FOW and trees from the terrain collection of "The Exiles" than spans nearly thirty years of wargaming history [from spikey Xmas tree decorations to state of the art vignettes] (see below, the empty CoC game board waiting for the troops to appear):

Note/confession: I was responsible for many times  misinterpreting various Chain of Command dice rolls during the night (alas my memory for the rules blurs, CoC does not yet have one of those nice quick reference sheets [Hint: A pointer to one would be appreciated]), but the players were blissfully unaware and carried on in great spirit. I think it was the "strong London beer" at work, coupled with advancing age so I will term it, alcohol induced "Fog of War" (see below, this should have been 'End of Turn" but I interpreted it as a 'Random Event' which meant that there were probably one too many random events on the night - aka Heavy Rain fell twice when in reality it should not have appeared, but it made for an interesting game):

Much fun was had figuring out the Patrol Phase and the placement of "Jump-Off" markers. The sides (Brits/Germans) came at off-set ends which meant through game play that the Germans were clustered to the bottom-left of the picture (central wood and the rough above and below on the LHS) while the British had three points spread to bottom (top-right, central house and bottom-middle-right). The British got on first and tried a dash from the central house with covering Bren team, to the (at the time) unoccupied central wood. As they did so the first Germans appeared at the wood line and hosed them down with MG42 fire. The resulting fire-fight saw the British  "shocked but not routed" desperately seeking to make it back to the relative safety of the central house. Meanwhile the other British squads were slinking round to the South in a "cunning plan" sort of way (see bottom of the board/photo) while others were massing in the North (see below):

The Germans stabilised their position in the south by bringing on a second squad up to strategically defend their jump-off point. They were also making it very uncomfortable for the Brits trapped just outside the "safe" house in the centre. Uncomfortable but not killing them (see below):

Can you spot the difference (from the above to below)? Answer: It is the chilling effect of the second British Bren team opening up and taking out two Germans in the central wood. Just when the British troops stuck in the open seemed to have their "goose cooked" some good shooting put the jitters up the Germans and the British began to rally (see below):

This wave of British optimism was instantly washed away on the next German turn as the Germans deployed their final third squad south (to disrupt on the dangerous flanking move) and sent in their senior commander to the wood to take charge. He quickly straightened things out, reduced/removed all the accumulated shock and let forth a devastating fire killing (KIA) three Tommies and thus pinning the rifle team, i.e. more shock [5] than remaining men [3]. Worse still the British rifle team down south was also caught in the open with their pants down, losing two men but just avoiding the same deadly "pin" result (see below):

From the initial thoughts of a 'bloodless' quick win, the British commander was facing two thirds of his "rifles" being subjected to one way traffic
. The open bright spot seemed to be that the Germans seemed to have left the garden gate open to his squad situated at the top of the board. If only he could get them in the game, but they seemed to be a long, long way away and woudl everything be over by the time they showed up?

Can the British regroup or will the Germans get a "quick win" instead.

Monday 3 October 2016

Wargaming Podcasts .. Directions to one please ;)

Can anyone help me with directions to some god wargaming podcasts?

Reason: I have long car journeys and I am quite taken with listening to audio books and the Connections UK (2014-2016) conference series and was wondering if there was more "hobby breadth" I could tap into

Any suggestions (aka links) appreciated, thanks in advance :)

Saturday 1 October 2016

Just Playing with my "Sea" (and some old Napoleonic Ships)

Just laid out this British squadron to see how they looked (see below):

I like it ;)

Note: I might have to point them down the hex spines instead of at the face of a hex. That may be a better way to "Box the Compass" ;)