Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Imagi-nations on the small side

This past Saturday at the Games Group in London, things were unsettled. Originally we had planned to do a Disposable Heroes game based on the raid on Dieppe, but that did not work out and we postponed it. Instead we played two small Crouchkrieg Imagi-nations games using the "Warfare in the Age of Reason" rules. (We game at the Crouch Branch Library in London, ON.)
We split the table in half with Kevin and I squaring off on the east side and Rob and Derek on the west half of the table. Andy supplied his Frankenschweiner troops to Kevin and Derek while Rob pushed his own lead as the leader of the Principality of Worchestershiresauce. For me, of course, the illustrious legions of the Grand Electorate of Saxe-Freedonia, commanded by General Belesarius. So Rob decided it was a two column attack by Frankenschwein on either side of a large body of water with the allied forces of Worchestershiresauce and Freedonia facing them. (Sounded good to me!)
To arrange the forces, Andy or each of us rolled 14 d4 and totalled them up. This was done three times each and the highest total was used to give a point value to each army. Each base "cost" 1 point for militia/conscipts (Class 1), 2 for regulars (Class 2), 3 for Grenadiers (Class 3), or 4 per base of Guards (Class 4). This applied to either infantry or cavalry, artillery being assigned to the armies based on the number of battalions/regiments. An elegant solution that worked well for the game. Kevin, Derek, and I all scored 90 or close to it. Rob scored a 76, so his force was either smaller or less powerful.
Kevin and I faced each other on half the table. His force was about 1/3 Class 2 regulars with a few Class 1 militia (or "Kleinvolk" regiments as Andy calls them), two medium guns, and a heavy gun. He chose not to field cavalry. I fielded a 4 battalion brigade of regulars under General deSastre (1&2 Regiment Tom Servo, Zouave Regiment Gondor, and the Black Company), a brigade of conscripts commanded by Subedar Major Singh (1&2 Border Regiment Sieben, the Slobovian Freikorps, and 1st Franistan Sepoys), two light cavalry regiments (the Hess-Bruder Hussars and Light Cavalry Regiment von Suppé) under General Flern. General Belesarius commanded and held a reserve of the Elector's personal guard, a regular unit made up of figures I had left over from the other regiments, so their uniforms were a mish-mash of styles. The Electoral Jägers (light infantry, Class 1 irregulars) held the woods on my left.
I won the initiative and moved first, sending some light cavalry across the front of my troops to menace Kevin's left. Everybody else advanced, including the limbered artillery.

Early in the game, the von Suppé Light Cavalry crossed over the front of my lines to engage the Frankenschweiner left, which was anchored on the woods. I have the elector's liquor train (two mules) guarded by the uniformed secret police behind the lines on the photo's right. 'Way back, on Kevin's side, is the... ah-hem... Frankenschweiner field brothel.

Subedar Major Singh and his sergeant-major commanded the conscripts in his first table outing.
The figure is a WWII Sikh, but I wanted sepoys and those are muskets,
NOT Short Magazine Lee-Enfield. I don't care what you say.

In the woods on the Electoral left, the Electoral Jägers (Class I irregular light infantry) faced 4-5 battalions of Frankenschwieners. They ended up needing a little help eventually, but they were able to tie up the red-coated tide for the bulk of the game.
Kevin advanced as well in his turn, moving a rather large force into the woods, exchanging fire with my irregular lights. Usually irregulars must give way to formed troops in AoR, but not in the woods! The Jägers held their own although not without losses. Eventually I sent the two battalions of Border Regiment Sieben to assist. The first Battalion took some fire from the Frankenschweiner militia, broke and routed. (The New Unit Curse was in full effect!) The second battalion shrugged this disaster off and advanced into the woods to support the hard-pressed Jägers.

The Frankenschweiner advance. An impressive array, to say the least.
Kevin had me sweating putty balls for most of the game.

The Kleinvolk militia deploy left.
(Andy, shouldn't they be Landwehr or Landsturm or Landesmiliz or something else suitably Teutonic?)

Freedonian artillery size up possible targets.
Left hand figures are Frying Pan & Blanket 20mm while the right hand crew are SHQ 20mm - obviously better fed!

1st and 2nd battalions, Border Regiment Sieben advance into the woods to support the Jägers. The first battalion bolted when fired upon, but the second shrugged it off and continued on. Since the troops are formed and have entered the woods, they are disorganised, shown by the blue pipe cleaners. Figures are Old Glory Napoleonic Turk Nizam-i-Cedit; They're "beefy" 15mm figs, and work with the 20mm figures if you don't look too close.
I'm usually quite a conservative and cautious wargamer, but I threw caution to the wind and charged Kevin's heavy cannon with the von Suppé Light Horse. The gun was anchoring Kevin's left flank. I fully expected to be canistered to ribbons, and I did take casualties, but I took out the gun crew and ended up sitting behind the left flank with blown cavalry. Kevin wheeled some of his regulars to attack me from the flank and rear, but I got the initiative that turn and simply rode away.
Next I burned my caution card again and charged with my hussars, hitting a brigade of regulars, three units deep. I was too close to gain the cavalry charge bonus, but I ended up routing all three battalions in turn!
(Those who game with me know this is NOT my usual style of play.)

The von Suppé Light Cavalry (does anyone get the musical joke here?) hit the heavy gun and carried it!

Kevin prepares to swing some of his infantry around to "shut the door" on my light cavalry. I decided to ride forward rather than ride back.

The Hess-Bruder Hussars take on another group of Frankenschweiner regulars. To my surprise, I carried the entire batch. I was down to half strength by doing it, but they did it and General Flern survived while fighting with his horsemen. (The white ring is a small drapery ring I use to designate a casualty.)

Zouave Regiment Gondor an the Black Company advance toward the enemy.
Zouaves are from SHQ's ACW range and are a bit larger than the FP&B figures. The flag is a "Freedonian postage stamp" I found on line.
After this, Kevin asked for terms and I was generous. I don't win often but it's nice when I am able to do so. On the other side of the impassible water obstacle, Rob achieved a draw with Derek. I only took one photo since I was busy with my own dice rolling.

Rob's heavy gun. He wanted something to make his gun stand out so the fast-firing French 75 was just the thing!
He hasn't gotten to paint his artillery crew or guns as yet so he borrowed mine.

The Border Regiment's two battalions advance into the woods. A few moments later, the first battalion -in line- took fire on its flank from a Kleinvolk battalion and took to their heels.
A small game and an enjoyable one. The random point set up worked well and made for a do-able game without the table groaning from the weight of deployed figures. I've learnt my lesson about leaving forested areas ungarrisoned and about using lights as if they were Napoleonic skirmisher screens. (In 7YW terms, don't do either.) I also might take some more risks in games since it worked for me this time. "Who dares, wins" is the SAS motto but I also know what sort of crappy dice I roll.

We're hoping to schedule our Dieppe game on the last Saturday of the month. Hoping.

Monday, 18 November 2013

At the Games Club/Group/Gathering/Whatever

 A few Saturdays back, we all got a "hankerin'" for some early World War II gaming. Out came the early War Germans, British, and French. Andy and I sat out as referees (more or less) while Bear, Stu, and Derek ran the Germans, opposed by Martin, Kevin, and Rob with the Allied forces. Early World War II stuff is interesting. There's less technology and what is there is not what you'd expect. When the big gun on the board is a 47mm anti-tank gun, the game goes differently.
Behind the large paper-mache house, the French forces gather.

Derek's German force advances. They did quite well for themselves, but Derek seems to be addicted to the column-advance, marching-band style movement. It really doesn't matter too much in this game, where-as in the F&I War/ACW/1812 version, it really does matter what formation you are in.

The French Panhard Armoured Car... which later proved to be a mechanised hero!

Rob and Kevin's British and French advance to the hedges and the walls. The boggy area in the foreground always seems to attract troops. We refer to it as the "rubber vomit."
Once again, mortar and rifle grenade-launched smoke was heavily used. We re-read the rules and discovered we had been using smoke incorrectly. We decided on a "house rule" where mortars can throw smoke and rifle grenades may as well. but with limited ammo and lessened effect.

Stu's mighty Pz 38t commanded the centre of the table until...
Wait for it!
The Panhard knocked it out! Zut alors!

Bear's Wehrmacht troops take a house at the far left of the German lines.

Derek's troops lay down heavy fire from the safety of the woods.
The British end of the Allied line tries to use cover to their best advantage. Unfortunately the Allied left was rather barren of cover and Derek's fire took a high toll.
A French tank-like object gets belligerent. I can't remember its designation, but I remember its armoured with crepe paper and carries a pea-shooter. At least it's not pedal powered!

Smoke and Dr. Pepper... must be a wargame. The blue chips on the house in the foreground show that it has been his and damaged by mortar bombs.
The game ended with the Allies withdrawing and the German forces holding the field. The whole game led us to reconsider the way we use smoke. In the rules, only artillery and AFV main guns may fire smoke, but in reality, mortars (and French rifle grenades) fired smoke often. So we decided to continue to let mortars fire smoke but lessen the effect for small mortars like the 5cm or the British 2". Appropriately armed rifle grenadiers may as well, with limited smoke charges and lessened effect. It seems a good compromise. Andy said he'd seen some games where the entire board is smoke covered and that players fired smoke right at the beginning of the game and continued all through the game. In DH, mortars without spotters who can see the target are highly ineffective, EXCEPT when firing smoke. So this is what we'll do.

Now it's in writing, guys. It must be true!

Back from nowhere in particular

Let's see if I remember how to do this...
For reasons of busy-ness, I haven't blogged in a while. Meanwhile, lots of things have happened.
Around the celebration of Thanksgiving (in October here in Ontario), the whole family played a game of "Disposable Heroes" using German and Russian troops. Beth and Katie commanded the Russians... mostly because Katie likes to use the commissar rules to help troops recover from a morale/Guts failure. Basically, the commissar shoots a soldier and the unit passes morale. Rob and I ran the German side. In the end, Rob and I had to concede.

Rob and Katie lay out the terrain and discuss just how many guys can occupy that big building.
We play in our front room so there's lots of light and a cheering section for Katie's rats.

The NKVD heavy machine gun team move up to use the knocked out T-34 as cover.
It's not a tank at this point; it's TERRAIN!

A rather crowded table, full of wooden houses bought for $1.25 at the local Dollar Store.

Rob holds forth on something or other.
Another Red Army HMG set up near the large house.


A rifle squad come up with the support of the NKVD HMG.

German infantry move into the town. One group is already in the house. The small piece of paper with a figure drawn on it represents a casualty. It beats leaving the figure there on it's side.

Moving so fast they're blurred, a Red Army rifle squad moves up with a commissar in the lead.
He's a Copplestone Casting while the rest are Bolt Action or Artizan.
I love the broom-handle Mauser held by the Commissar.
More German troops move into the buildings.

The Soviet scouts have entered the building, having wiped out the previous occupants, but they are faced by more Germans who knocked them out. Standing atop a building model mean the figure is in the building. The 38t is not active but is terrain. The HMG in front of it is quite active...  ...as the ladies found out.

Another eagle's eye view of the field. The blue d10 in the left foreground is a directional marker, showing which way the wind blows. We use a lot of smoke in our games, having discovered that mortars are of little other use. The cotton in the middle of the street is just such a smoke screen. What is Katie handling? Read on.

Retractable ruler? Check. Bowl of Goldfish snack crackers? Check. Beagle watching the action... especially of the snack crackers? Check. Rat in the middle of the village? Check.

The Soviet secret weapon! Tovarich Gizmo Ratofsky (Gizmo the rat) samples the tree flocking. He ran around the board between moves and didn't mess with the figures, having no taste for either plastic or pewter. As you can see, Katie has "Dumbo" rats.
A fun game with nothing really on the line. Rob and I found that battles in a built-up area are really tough. It was a good way to pass the time on a holiday.