Monday, 30 December 2013

The Finnish of the Year

On the Saturday between Christmas and New Year's, the Hamilton Road Games Group set up a Disposable Heroes WWII game. Our numbers were somewhat low, but our spirits were not dampened. I requested we do the Eastern Front so I could use my freshly painted Finnish troops (hence the wretched pun in the post's title.) I ended up refereeing while Tyler handled the Finns and Bear took charge of the German reinforcement column. Kevin, Andy, and Rob ran the Russians. The table was snow-covered, the forests were dense with some lighter rough ground areas and a few areas of snow drifts that required anyone entering them to move at slowest speed. The Russians outnumbered the Finns and had a KV-1 and a T-34/76 to assist. The Finn/German side had no armour, but the Finns held a small village and its environs.

Kevin, Rob, and Andy do their moves early in the game.

On the left, Tyler's arm and Bear later in the game. I've changed seats.

The Finn's entire artillery - a small calibre AT gun.
The Soviets moved onto the field and immediately encountered trouble. Since they were using the "early War list", their morale is quite fragile, while the Finn's were using the "Continuation War" list. The "Winter War" list is loaded with snipers and marksmen and their morale is almost super-human. However there is no possibility of German allies, so we used the later list. As I said the Soviet infantry took casualties from the Finn's mortar, HMG (a Maxim!) and the sniper team and the Russian morale cracked early. Quite a few units were pinned early on, so the advance bogged down. The tanks hung back and were used as mobile artillery ... not that the Finn's ATG and anti-tank rifle could do much, but they were legitimately afraid of close assaults - deadly to armour. The Soviet mortars did some damage and Andy pushed his squads forward on the Soviet left.

Soviet armour doing its best to intimidate the Finns. No such luck.

The Red Army advances into the snow drifts. We used smaller patches of white felt to serve as the drifts. Everyone went through at slowest speed, but they served as some concealment.

Andy and his troops.

The Finnish sniper team - the sniper has a morale of "9", equal to most army's commanders!
Although the Soviets had brittle morale and moved slowly, their numbers told the tale. When the German reinforcements (Command, three rifle squads, and a sniper team) arrived on the 4th turn on the Finnish left, they were hurt badly by the Soviet mortars and by rifle and LMG fire. The Red Army continued to advance and got close to the village and their fire punished the defenders heavily, taking out the AT gun, the HMG, and half of a rifle squad. The tanks began to move forward in the last turns, but curfew arrived (Rob had to work that evening) and we called the game as a repulse to the Soviets, leaving the Finns holding the village by their fingernails.
I designed the scenario and I may have made the advance over too much open ground too hard to do. However, at the end of the game, the tide was beginning to turn in the Soviet favour. Had we more time (and more game 'daylight'), the results might have been different. Some more Soviet squads might have helped as well.
More photographic evidence of actual play!

Finns defending the town. The Sturmgewehr 44 is an illusion. It's actually a Soumi SMG or in some cases, a Lahti LMG.

Kevin's mortar battery. Mortars in Disposable Heroes are worthwhile, but tricky.

The Red advance continues!

A Finnish rifle squad, HMG team (should be a Maxim but I had to use Germans), and ATR team (again using WWI Germans painted as 'tween-war Irish Free State army) firing from a tree line.

Soviet infantry, LMG team, HMG team advancing along a tree line. Andy is super-organised with his troops, pasting designations on the base of each.

Finnish  rifle squad and command section in the town. The grey felt is a "paved" space.
A Russian Anti-tank rifle team negotiates the boggy ground.

Finns with two Germans filling in as Finns.

Soviets - some dressed for the weather.

The KV-1 moves up, but not too far.

Maxim team providing fire support.
It was a fun game with which to end the year at the games club. Next week we intend to run a Warhammer Ancients game to kick off the new year. Good gaming, all!

A final view of the Soviet advance.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

A personal note about our family's Christmas dinner.

My family and I live in Ontario, Canada and we have no family near us. We moved here from the US because I took a call to a church in Aylmer, ON, one of the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. This year, we were invited to join a friend of ours for Christmas. He is a canon of the Anglican Church of Canada and will be retiring in early 2014. So he bought a house in our town. Due to events that don't concern us here, he found himself -a single man- without a family to have Christmas dinner with, so he invited us. Beth agreed to make the appetiser and the dessert. She asked Nick "Should we dress for dinner?" and he responded "YES!!" Since we're all reenactors, this meant really "dress for dinner."

Beth provided the appetiser, which was a Salmongundy, a tray of finger foods, including cold chicken, pickles, pickled vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, sliced apples, olives, and sugared nuts. Nick added smoked oysters and Camembert cheese. Beth also made pumpkin and apple pies for dessert and Nick added a brandy-soaked Christmas cake.

The dessert and appetiser table
The fish course was creamed shrimp followed by a pea soup from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello cookbook
The main meal was superb - Beef Wellington, roast turkey breast, mashed potatoes with cheese, mashed turnips, curried sweet potatoes, bread stuffing, and cooked carrots. 

I don't think I've ever been so full in my life.

Now we did dress for dinner.

Nick makes his list. He wore a banyan with cap.

Here's the whole outfit in front of Nick's fireplace.
The fish course - creamed shrimp over pastry

Katie cuts apples.
The whole table
A skeptical Katie and a sargent-y Rob
From left - John, Beth, Nick, Katie, and Rob
Beth made her gown and my coat for the occasion. Katie had made her dress a while back.
Rob wore sergeant's regalia just for the sake of fancy.
All of us are members of the King's Company of Historical Reenactors. For the War of 1812, we usually portray the 17th US regular infantry, although Nick has British gear as well and both Rob and Katie intend to to a First Nations/Lenni Lenape portrayal for this season. We also do WWI portrayals for education days and hope to do American War of Independence militia before long.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

'Twas the night before Christmas... 40 below...

As we have for the past few years, the Hamilton Road Games Group at the Crouch branch Library in London, ON held a Christmas gathering over hot chocolate, various cookies, and a game. Andy brought the electric kettle and lots of folks brought the cookies of all kinds.
The main table saw the "traditional" game of Wings of War WWI aircraft game. Lots of folks played and enjoyed themselves. The second table saw a star-ship game in the Star Trek universe, which looked interesting, although I never got the time to watch.
The Wings of War game included a home brewed rule for clouds and possible collisions when flying through them. As usual, Snoopy flew his Sopwith Camel and escorted Santa's sleigh across the board.

Quite a crowd around the table for the first game - The Royal Flying Corps escorting Santa past the Flying Circus,

Snoopy, Santa, and a DH5.
If you shoot at Santa and do damage, you take the same damage as well, since you're on the Naughty List!

The home-built Santa's sleigh. That and Snoopy's doghouse/Sopwith Camel were paper models and are rated as one of the historical planes found in the game.

The escorts split off around the cloud.

Some of the Flying Circus - nothing says camouflage like chocolate and fuchsia.

In a later game, Santa was not used, but the Red Baron tried to hunt down Snoopy. I flew the Baron's plane...
...and got blown up. C'est la guerre!

A close pass between a DH5 and an Albatross. The models come painted and decorated and are quite nice. Many are done up as the planes of famous flyers, like Bishop, Richtofen, Richenbacher, and quite a few others. Even Herman Göring! Planes are done for British, French, Italian, Belgian, German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman Turk. There is also a WWII set of rules and models and I believe there is a Sci-fi version using Star Wars craft. There are also reports of an age of sail naval game. I'll be on the watch for that.

The deadly laser-gazing tiger kitty... and Rob's Russian Neuport fighter.
All of the photos are courtesy of Andy except for the first one which my wife took before the batteries in her camera gave up the ghost. Among the players were Beth, Katie, Rob, Andy, Kevin, Derek, Bear, Martin, Connor, Niaomi, and Summer.

My wife also showed off one of my Christmas gifts! She made me tank slippers!

Tank Slippers M1A2 under the tree at home. You may be jealous.

So Merry Christmas to all who read this and a happy, peaceful New Year. God be with you all.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Campaigns in Libraria: dispatches from the Freedonian front - December 7, 2013

(Since we play our games as part of the Hamilton Road Gaming Group that meets most Saturdays at the Crouch Branch Library on Hamilton Road in London, ON, the title "Campaigns in Libraria" made sense to me. Although that makes all those who live in the various Imagi-nations there "Librarians." This may need some reconsideration.)

It was a quiet day at the library on Saturday as 5 of us met to play some "pick-up" games using our Imagi-nations armies and the Warfare in the Age of Reason rules for Seven Years War games. Andy, Derek, Martin, Rob, and your humble correspondent set up an interesting game table. (Bear joined us later.) Four banquet-sized folding tables were divided into three identical gaming fields. (Well, as identical as can be done with irregular shaped hills. Each had two smaller forests of light woods on either end of the centre of the table and two small gentle hills at 2 o'clock and 8 o'clock from the centre of the table. The starting area was 12 inches in from the table edge and 12 inches from each side of the area.
Army sizes were arranged in the way we had before - by rolling 15 d4s, taking the total, and then doubling it. This gave us an average size of 74 points for each army. Each stand had a cost - Class 1/militia/conscript = 1 point per stand; Class 2 regulars = 2 points per stand; Class 3 grenadiers/elites = 3 points per stand and Class 4 guards at 4 points per stand. Infantry or cavalry did not matter. Artillery was allocated at 1 medium gun for every 6 units and 1 heavy gun for every 8 units. Generals were allocated at the rate of 1 per every 10 units and one of the generals had to be the C-in-C.
Our die rolls ranged from 74 to 90. (me!) Rob fought Martin, Andy faced Bear, and Derek and I squared off - all on more-or-less identical battle fields. (All photos are courtesy of Andy and Martin; I forgot my camera.)

A bird's eye view of the entire triple battlefield.
Derek and I are at the far end of the table and Bear, who unavoidably came late, is still setting up.

Looking the other way, Rob lays out more troops. Derek and I are already getting into it.
I can best report on my game since... well, I was there. Everyone reported that their battles were hard-fought affairs. Derek had me sweating quite a few times. The photo above shows the advance of my cavalry. This is what my 90 points got me:
     1st & 2nd battalions, Regiment Nurn (Class II regulars)
     1st & 2nd battalions, Regiment Luzerne (Class II)
     1st & 2nd battalions, Regiment Hoch und Deutschmeister (Class II)
     Dragoon Regiment Freedonia (Class II)
     Dragoon Regiment Shanton (Class II)
     Light Horse Regiment von Suppé (Class II)
     Pandour regiment Pavkovic (Class I irregular light infantry)
     The Slabovian Freikorps (Class I conscript line)
     1 8# artillery battery
     1 12# artillery battery
     Generals Radetz (CiC) and Flern
Derek had a mixed force of Frankenschweiner regulars, militia, and grenadiers with one dragoon regiment and two guns.
I advanced my cavalry fast and threw the Pandours into the woods on the right. The Freikorp went towards the left flank woods and did nothing all game. I marched my 6 battalion brigade of line infantry in line to meet Dereks advance. I threw my cavalry at his right flank - the light horse failed to charge his heavy gun (too tight of a space to fit in) and Shanton's dragoons hit Derek's line troops. When the dust cleared, two of his battalions were routed and the dragoons were reduced to one figure plus the attached general! When the light horse did charge, they hit his battalions in line and chased off two of them, hitting them a number of times as they ran. Meanwhile Derek's Frankenschweiner Dragoons hit my right hand line battalions and took two of them out, breaking them but not routing them. (Shear die roll luck!) 1st Nurn and 1st Luzerne took to their heels, with Derek capturing the flag of Nurn. 1 & 2 HuD had performed a left face and we heading to support the cavalry. The Pandours threatened Derek's left with a barrage of cat-calls and a harshly-worded letter to the editor. (They were out of range to fire.)
With four of Derek's line infantry battalions routed and his dragoons at half strength, he figured up his casualties at about 32%. He rolled for army withdrawal and came up with a withdrawal in good order. Gentleman that I am, I gave him terms, but my cavalry was down to half strength and two of my regular battalions were cut to pieces. We realised that Derek's medium cannon was out of range for the whole game and could do nothing.
On the other tables, Andy beat Bear in a close fight and Martin bashed Rob, but just barely!

Now more photos!

Bear's troops with artillery deployed.

Andy's opposing force. Note the Dragoons stage right and the light infantry stage left, ready to wheel out of the starting area box.

Derek's troops advance - Dragoons on the far flank with staggered lines of infantry
von Suppé's light horse nearest with Shanton and Freedonia dragoon regiments beyond. The Slabovians are having trouble keeping their footing on the hill.

Andy's troops meet Bear's in the heat of combat. Both used Andy's figures for the game.
Dinosaur? What dinosaur?

My infantry - Regiments Nurn, Luzerne, and Hoch und Deutschmeister in successive lines.
The Pavkovic Pandours advance toward the woods - the favourite place of light infantry!

Rob coaxes his Worchestershiresauceian force (using lots of Galefreyan Scots mercenaries) against Martin's Rationalians, including his naval landing party. (the square block of bases near the table edge. (Class I conscript mob)
You are not to ask why Rob is wearing a tie.

The satellite captures the action well.
A better view of the Worchestershiresaucian lines... including the fast-firing French 75 serving as a heavy gun.

There were times when we all were wondering what was going on.

As one of my units breaks, I make the baseball umpire's "They're outa there!" sign.
Andy's general has a pet! Welcome Mitzi!
(I was unable to resize this photo properly.)