Saturday, 25 February 2012

Bi-centennial Adventure

My previous entry dealt with last week's game (18 February), so this one reports on today's game. The Hamilton Road Library needs our usual room for a large group meeting, so we went to a smaller room, but still had about 20 gamers stop by.
My crowd played an 1812 patrol adventure game using Iron Ivan's This Very Ground rules with a few variations for the War of 1812. Each player gets a patrol and a mission. Who wins depends on who fulfills their mission. The cast included:
     Tyler - Native Warband with a British Indian Department adviser and help - arrive and leave by canoe and take scalps
     DJ - Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles patrol - burn a rebel's farm.
     Kevin - British Regular infantry detachment - take and hold a crossroads
     Robby - US regular Rifle patrol - find and recover a lost ammunition waggon
     Andy - US Volunteer Rifle unit - burn a loyalist's farm
     Martin - French Infantrie d'Ligne detachment - find and recover a lost cannon
     Darian - US State Militia patrol - take and hold a crossroads
The order of movement was determined by drawing a card; when your card came up, it was your turn to be active. All units started roughly 12" from their table edge, going the long way. All over the board were numbered poker chips, each denoting an "encounter" of some sort or other. (An idea stolen from Iron Ivan's Where Heroes Dare pulp era rules.) Some of those will come out later.
As the game began, everyone moved forward, the US side all conferring. The units could not communicate unless an officer or sergeant was in base contact with another unit. The Crown troop didn't, but they didn't seem to care.

Tyler's Native warband in their "canoes" emerge from the bridge. The
river was too deep to wade, so it was only crossable at  the bridge and at
a flatboat ferry, which Tyler took and grounded on the Crown side of the river.

Kevin's red coats pass a civilian refugee caravan. He commandeered the
carts in order to block the bridge. In the far background, DJ's Glennies hoist
cattle from the loyalist's farm and smoked meat from a hidden smokehouse,
one of the encounters. The chip in the foreground turned into a bear later. 

Martin's French... having taken a wrong turn at Baton Rouge... come up the
centre. His grenadiers and voltigeurs made up two separate small patrols.
The Sapeur - in red in the foreground - was charged with collecting mush-
rooms for dinner. They were joined by a local woman, who was called a
witch by the mob chasing her.

Andy's Volunteers (foreground) and Robby's Rifles (background) head for
 the river bank.

Kevin's unit discovered the ammo waggon AND the cannon mired at the
crossroads. He attempted to free them to block the road further, but Andy
and Robby's rifles (25" range) really hurt him.

Tyler's Native warband lands to wreak havoc. In landing their canoes, two
of them sank with all aboard being lost, including the BID officer. Now they
depended on their sachem to lead, disregarding the BID soldiers. The braves
scalped everything in sight and set fire to BOTH farms, scalping the settlers.
I should demand they be more discriminating. 

Marty's Voltigeurs face down the charging witch hunters. ("Torches and
muskets!") The witch hunters saw the witch with the French troops and
made after them. They wiped out the Voltigeurs in three rounds of combat.
Darian left and I - the gamesmaster - took over the brown-coated US Militia
which took to facing down the Natives.

Okay... DJ's Glengarries, led by a Mr. Sharpe, killed the bear, later slaughtered
 a pack of wolves, and stared down the moose seen advancing on them on the
road. They never got to burn that farm but they took everything that wasn't
nailed down and that was edible... more or less.

One of the ox carts Kevin commandeered heads over the bridge, it's red coat
handler seen dead in the shallows of the stream. My wife painted the two ox
carts and I only just remembered they were Irregular Miniatures products.
I like 'em and every body else did too! Nice work, Beth!

Martin's fusiliers move up to the bridge. You can see "the witch" next to
the mounted officer in the centre. The cart? Filled with jugs of moonshine
whiskey. The French wouldn't drink it; Maybe not cultured enough for
their refined palete or maybe their discipline held. Kept for cooking maybe?

Since the Crown forces were badly outnumbered,  I gave another patrol
 of British Regulars to Kevin as reinforcements. Here they prepare to volley
the French and ignore the moose, who heads for more peaceful places.

Andy and Robby's Riflemen support the French assault on the bridge.
They did great execution on Kevin's original force. They are at the edge of
the woods, shown by the red yarn.

Tyler's Natives and lone BID trooper fire the rebel's farm. They became
pyromaniacs... which leaves me wondering about Tyler... a little.

It appears the Crown won. Nobody fully achieved their mission, but the Glengarries carried off LOADS of edibles and the Natives burned and scalped their way across the table. (The US Militia sank all their canoes; seem birch bark won't hold up to bayonets!) The bridge became a stalemate with Kevin and Marty contesting it and being shot down each in their turn. The two US units of rifle armed troops were  invaluable.

In retrospect, I should have had more than one way to cross the river. The barge/ferry didn't work well and was disabled early. Some of my missions were unachievable which is distressing for the players, everybody then goes and has fun... which is why we play, isn't it?

Some of the encounters included a bear, a pack of wolves, a moose, a nest of snakes, a skunk (which Andy simply walked around), the "witch" and the witch-hunters, a hen house with hens and eggs, a smokehouse with hams, bacon, and smoked fish, a cache of highly flammable lamp oil which no one found, a cart loaded with moonshine, refugees and their carts, a bog, the barge/ferry, and cattle. It may be a while 'til we do one of these again, but all the players seemed to enjoy the game.

Snakes take their toll on the militia.

Another farm goes up!

Last of the Boot Camp

Illness prevented me from blogging before this. The beginning of Lent is a bad time for a person of my profession to come up ill... it is entirely too busy! So here are some offerings for you.

The Hamilton Road Gaming Group finished up our "Disposable Heroes" Boot Camp with a few games. I was slightly under the weather so I 'advised' a young fellow from the neighborhood who's been playing with us for a few weeks. Part way through the game, he tired of it so I took over. I faces Tyler's Devil's Brigade platoon plus with some Wehrmacht Grenadier regulars. I had a Pz.IV D and Tyler had a tank destroyer with a ancient 75mm cannon on an M3 halftrack chassis. It proved to be enough.

Looking toward the Allied side. The river-like divide is a galactic separation
between my table and Marty/Robby's table.

The troops of the 1st SSF advance over the grainfields.

The Wehrmacht advances in turn. This element didn't last long. Tyler's
jeep with a .50 cal HMG saw to that.

The advance on the German right. American squads are HUGE.

My sniper team avoids the advancing Forcemen. The Pz.IV is immoblized
by a shot from the Tank Destroyer.

The firefight in the grain field begins.

Ah, yes! Darian's mortar took out the jeep with it's .50 cal and BAR team.
Somehow it's always sweet... and surprising... when a mortar actually
hits something!

A cluster of Forcemen.

Yeah, that's the culprit! The Force's Cannon Company chalks one up...
with the destruction of my Pz. IV.

On the other side of the table, Marty's Sikhs defended against a parachute landing of Robby's Airborne in a scrimage/maneuver/wargame-of-a-wargame. They actually had time for two games since Marty cleaned up the air-dropped Screaming Eagles in quick time in the first game. It was a night battle and the paratroop were "dropped" by dropping 'chits' from a height. If they landed off board, the represented element was gone. If it landed in trees, it was pinned. In the second, Robby had some air support and the Sikhs didn't do so well.

Sikhs on patrol are ambushed by a paratrooper HMG. More on this later.

Sikhs take refuge in a farm house. Sgt. Rock leads the paratroops at the
bottom of the photo.

The airstrikes supporting Rob's paratroopers found the Churchill a tempting

We often use blue chips to show where casualties fell. Here is all that's
left of the HMG and accompanying troops I spoke of above.

Paratroops converge on two surviving Sikhs. Sgt. Rock (from Reaper
Miniatures) takes charge.

There was a third game with Andy monitoring it, but I don't know what happened there.
At the end of all this, I had to meet with a couple who came to the library for some pre-wedding counseling. While I met with them, my daughter, Katie was introduced to Disposable Heroes! She is an experienced gamer with an Elvish army for Warmaster and some crazy D&D and Traveller characters. She fought Tyler (her fencing master) and seemed to enjoy the game. Once we went home, Tyler came over and she and Robby played him in a War of 1812 game using Iron Ivan's This Very Ground rules.

Katie, Marty, Kevin, Tyler, and Steven (in cap) work out a small scenario
in "Patton's Dream" (USA vs. USSR)

Katie's Soviets take the house and watch the SU-100 advance.

My daughter thought the "Commissar Rule" was a good one.
"Fail morale and retreat or pop one guy with the Commissar? It's a no-brainer!"

The Boot Camp idea was a good one and a worthwhile activity. Most of the regulars are more familiar with the rules now. Everybody has their favourite army as well.
A few notes:
  • American squads are massive and tough to deal with.
  • I got to figure out how to maneuver troops on a cluttered board.
  • Just about everything is vulnerable.
Next week - 1812 patrol adventure!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Under the Weather

     "So, where were you?" the voice on the telephone asked. Andy called to kid me about my absence from the Hamilton Road Games Group on Saturday. Temperatures of -8C, 15cm of snow, and my condition of feeling lousy kept me away from the club. Still the gaming went on. My son, Robby hosted DJ and Tyler for a Disposable Heroes game in our front room. Americans and Canadians vs. Germans on the big table. Tyler wanted to try out his design for the 1st Special Service Force (the "Devil's Brigade" or the "Black Devils"), the mixed American/Canadian unit that surprised everyone in the Italian Theatre. DJ likes his armoured infantry battalion. Robby tried Germans for a change, but ended up on the short end of the stick. He did have a good time, he told me. ... and DJ bought lunch!
     Me, I was asleep in the family room, my body wracked with... yeah, I don't care either. I'm fine today.
On to the photos!

The Pzkw. IV and 251 halftrack nose into the town square.

DJ's M3 halftrack carry Tyler's M1 infantry into the town square.
The cooperated a lot.

DJ's Sherman and infantry but Tyler's HMG.

DJ's halftracks take cover beside the big church. He uses the Quad .50
mount as his command track. Someday he won't and we're all going to hide.

Canadian troops in a house with a removable roof. DJ served with the
Royal Regiment of Canada during his service time in Germany and Cyprus.

Tyler's Forcemen hitch a ride on DJ's Churchill.
Looks like a float in the Rose Parade.

Robby's Hetzer and infantry troops. Since the game took place at our house,
 all the terrain came from our storage. Some days I'm amazed at what we've got.

     According to Robby, they beat him badly, but everybody enjoyed themselves which is what really counts. DJ and Tyler may have cooperated more than the rules permit, but what of it? Everybody enjoyed the game. I think that troops mounted in vehicle need to have the vehicles remain close by rather than serving as "battle buses" for other un-mounted troops, but I wasn't there to rain on their parade. Here is a good example of how players agreeing on something not so kosher according to the rules makes the game run smooth. If everybody agrees, why not? The rule writers won't come to confiscate the rules; we paid for 'em, they're our's. That how it works.
     I think that the next big thing at the club will be a War of 1812 "mission game". Robby and I are working on some new random encounters. We need a change from the bear-and-brigands encounters we've been doing. (I personally would love to introduce aliens and other weird stuff, but I won't. That for another day with the Pulp fiction game.) Next week, probably more WWII.
     On another tack, here's a photo of Robby in his WWI gear as a medical orderly attached to the PPCLI (Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry) for the WWI education day last fall. Our reenacting group works with a larger WWI group to put on an education day for a number of local schools. The students come to the site and are taken through a number of stations in which they find out about gas warfare, tunneling, women on the home front, close-order drill, grenade throwing, and other topics. The sites are run by reenactors in period uniforms. {I wish I had the chance to learn history this way... but NO! I had to read books and listen to lectures!} Anyway, here's our boy in full gear.

Monday, 6 February 2012

The Boot Camp continues yet again!

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends..." (Henry V, Act 3, Scene 1)
The gaming on Saturday at the Hamilton Road Games Group was interesting. Warhammer 40K at one table and two games of Disposable Heroes at two other tables. Martin and Duane faced down Robby and Tyler, Germans and American, respectively. On the Italian front, the Germans had a mission to hold a bridge while the US had to rescue a recon unit, but neither side knew the other's mission. Martin designed the scenario and it worked well. Andy and I pushed Russians and Waffen SS at the other table. We continued our experiment of finding a way to reflect experience of troops in how they move and  hide on the board.

Here are some photos of the four-man game:
GIs and the Sherman at the jumping-off point

More GIs prepare to wade the small stream

The Wehrmacht defends the creek line from the high grain

PAK-40 preparing for action

The HMG defended the bridge.
The recon section -a jeep and a few troopers- lay hidden in the grain right
in front of the HMG

As you can tell, our players like the smoke shells
(Polyester batting glued to poker chips.)

As it was, both sides fulfilled their missions and so, both won! The jeep was shot up and put out of action once it was revealed, but the crew got out and escaped. The US players never intended to cross the bridge and stay. The German players had been told that the river was crossed in force on their left a ways down the creek, but they were to hold this bridge ("Hold until relieved..."), but they didn't know that the US was not going to take and hold the bridge.
     On the other table, Andy and I duked it out over a village very much like the one last we played. We were experimenting again. We said that all experienced troops in cover could ignore the first "kill" whenever fired upon, to reflect the better use of cover and terrain by experienced troops. Sad to say, it didn't work well. Half way through the game, both sides having suffered a total of THREE casualties, we dropped the experiment and did a lot of damage to each other... as you will see:

Russians firing from the second story window...

The view of the 76.2 AT gun and the AT rifle as well.

The Soviets in the big house... with their Red Banner. They faced a
flamethrower and got hurt. (Cue evil laughter.)

The Hetzer - which couldn't and didn't hit the broad side of a barn -
advances up the rubber road, avoiding the AT gun and the KV-1.

SS rifle section contending the Soviets for the big house, which we counted
as two houses for movement and firing.

An SS NCO hides in plain sight/inspires his men/draws enemy fire/
is awkwardly exposed/shouldn't be an NCO. (Your choice.)

The KV-1 lurks

A view of the north side of the town and down square. The venerable
Plasticville United Church is on the right.

It seems that Russians prefer the second floor. Anyone know why?
(Besides increases vision.)

I felt that I couldn't do a Soviet army with out proper flags.

An LMG section and a Panzerschreck sneak toward the church.

For what it's worth, our experimentation showed us that adding something to the rules to reflect experience either my making the trooper harder to hit or cutting out the first casualty of any fire slowed down the game immensely and made the play much more complex. Next time we'll try allowing any unit whose leader's guts exceeds 10 (or is noted in the scenario somehow) to get a -1 to be hit in all circumstances. It may not work but we're still trying... and we'll keep playing!