Friday, November 30, 2018

Battle of Oak Grove - 1862

Johnny Reb III has long been a mainstay of our gaming group but for some reason hadn't played all year as I recall.  That doesn't mean we stopped painting so to give table time for some new minis we pulled out "Forward the Colors" by George Anderson and Ryan Toews to find a scenario.  With the personel and time available I settled on Oak Grove, historically fought on June 25, 1862.  Our game represented the effort by "Fightin' Joe" Hooker against Benjamin Huger.  Three brigades per side over a heavily wooded area.  The woods, any shade of green cloth besides the base cover were treated as broken ground for movement.  The fields were cosmetic because I like them 😊and the fences offered no cover but slowed movement.  Both sides had a smattering of green troops.

The multiple road intersection is the objective.  Brigade deployment
areas were predetermined by the scenario.

The Yankee right, Rebel left.

They come to grips quickly in the center but are slowed by woods

Lines are finally shaken out but both sides in the near view are
reluctant to advance.

On the Rebel right the fighting is brutal.

Two Reb units were lost setting up this charge.

But at the end, both brigades were mauled.
In Johnny Reb you can no longer advance once you hit 40% losses and must retire at 60%.  Since we were basically fighting three actions we applied it to the brigades.  In this case once the routers were tallied both sides were unable to prosecute offensive action on this end of the table.

The Yankees flank the Reb on their right but with a green unit
do not do as much damage and are out of command so can't charge.

Some daring charges and good musketry slowly pushed the
Yankees back in the center.

The Rebs have stabilized their left and are now ready to advance.

The Rebs keep advancing in the center and also engage the
depleted Yankee brigade.

Looking favorable for the Confederacy.

The left-hand Yankees must fall back and so do the Yankees on
the right.  The center can still fight but will be flanked soon.

Yankees retiring on their works and, uh... supplies.
Historically the Yankees made progress before running out of steam and resolve.  That is pretty much what happened in our game.  While rusty with the rules it came back to us quickly and we were able to play at a brisk pace.  Thanks for playing guys.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Battle of Veraw - Imagination Action

In our Imagi-Nation campaign, after the failure to capture the crossroads at the earlier Battle of Ginly the Odessenau fores retired to create a unified army.  In this engagement a detachment from the main Venarian army is attempting to cut off the Latverians before they can unite.  Neither side knows the strengths of the opposition, only their marching orders.  The enemies are separated by the River Dyle.  Two old bridges span it at the villages of Veraw and Grolsch, along with a Latverian pontoon bridge they built to aid their crossing and neglected to take up.

Rules are old school "Battailes de l'Ancien Regimes" by Bill Protz with a 10:1 figure ratio and a standard of 60 figure battalions.  The scenario and our mini campaign are based on Charles S. Grant's work, "The Wulfenbuttel War."

The Venarian advance guard marches on and deploys.  Dragoons
ride towards the distant bridge.

The Latverian army is caught in camp, literally napping.  A "target
rich environment."
Each of the Latverian units had to roll a dice to see which turn they would become active.  These rolls were of course not known to the Venarians and that strongly influenced choices.

Latverian light cavalry races to cover the far bridge.

Our old foe the Grey Foxes are alert and on guard duty in the
town (not swimming as implied).

The small village and other bridge which is the target of both sides.

In a confused melee the Latverians race over the bridge and
flank the Verarian dragoons.

Made more complicated when the Spahis add their weight.
The dragoons not surprisingly lose and rout away, disordering an infantry unit coming up the road.  The routing dragoons are contacted by pursuers and lose their standard!  The Spahis return the favor, utterly defeating the Latverian lights, capturing the unit and recovering the standard.  They found themselves after pursuit very close to the far bridge.

After pursuing and destroying the Latverian lights, the over-
eager Spahi ride disordered of the bridge to hit infantry.
Even though the Spahi saves vs. musketry were brilliant, their saves in melee were average and the Latverian infantry in turn brilliant.  They not only were repulsed when I maxed out on the disorder penalty but were routed for a time.

The Janissaries closest have destroyed a cavalry regiment before
it could get untangled as some vassel Russians prepare to cross.

After the initial delay the road bonus gets the Latverian army
moving fast.  
Some rules adjustments might have been needed.  In Grant's book the movement rates and ranges are roughly half what BAR allows.  Normally that is of no consequence, but here where escape is the goal it was critical.  Damage was handed out in big numbers but there was precious little the Venarians could do to prevent them from exiting and making the link-up.

Spahi and Cossacks watch in frustration as the larger Latverian
army escapes.

In the end casualties were roughly equal except for the prisoners taken among the light cavalry.  How this outcome will influence future games is for the referee to decide.  The best chance for the Venarians were to risk crossing in column and hitting the still forming Latverian infantry.  But not knowing when they would become functional and the risk for total destruction was too great.  The Latverians out-numbered the Venarians almost 2:1 in infantry but had their orders and couldn't be tempted away from them.  It will probably be 2019 before we can get to the next battle with the holidays.  In the arms race category, the Venarians have added a grenadier unit to their army since this "battle" was fought.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Great Pacific War - Bywater's

To add variation to our games we have begun a loosely connected series of games based on the 1925 book "The Great Pacific War" by Hector Bywater which predicted a war between Japan and the United States in the early 30s.  So our first engagement takes place off the Philippines with a better chance than Bywater gave them.  Rules are Naval Thunder with 1:2400 scale miniatures, played on a 12x6' table.  Players from the Brown Deer/Chicago and Fox Valley area assembled to share our common interests and build comaraderie. 

Our engagement had two phases; the first being a scouting force from both sides seeking to find and report on the opposing battle line.  Each side had four heavy cruisers and a few destroyers. 

Disclaimer: I didn't take any ship pictures at the game but have recreated some scenes from my own collection.

USS Astoria and Chicago with the Salt Lake City and Houston
not pictured.

IJN Atago, one of a quartet of fine Japanese cruisers.

Japanese players look relaxed and confident.
The Japanese had extremely hot dice to start and the USN quickly found itself in a hole we just couldn't dig out of.  All four cruisers were lost to Japanese sharpshooters and all but one of the destroyers.  In return the IJN only lost two destroyers, though the cruisers all sported damage.

A break for a generous lunch and we resumed with the capital ships coming on table.  Now things would be different!  Right?  Right?

Far battleships are USS Arizona and Oklahoma and escorts with
USS Texas and New York closest.

IJN Battleships Nagato and Mutsu.

Supported by IJN Fuso and Yamashiro (stand-in Hyuga).
Things went downhill extremely fast.  The New York and Texas had comparatively short range for their main guns, only 40".  The Arizona and Oklahoma could shoot out to 60" but the Nagato and Mutsu ranged in at 76".  So when we were at extreme range, they were at long with a shooting plus.  So while we initially had our best against their best, it devolved quickly. 

House rules and scenario elements.

I believe the analogy of "the sea exploded" is appropo.

The other battleship column suffers while still out of their range.

The first of three main gun batteries lost on the Arizona.
While we did manage to put down two of the Japanese heavy cruisers on turn two the Arizona lost a main gun turret and on turn three lost two more.  At 70% damage taken she broke out of the line.

A very concerned US staff looks on.
 Being part of a campaign I wanted to break off the US force before we lost any speed but that didn't happen.  The New York and Texas gamely tried to get into range but got hammered by both the battleships and heavy cruisers which against all odds kept penetrating their armor.

The New York is severely damaged as destroyers make smoke
and the Atago stalks her foes.
The game ended/was ended with the loss of the New York, giving the Japanese a decisive victory in the opening engagement.  The invasion of the Philippines is on and will be resolved in a series of local land-based games.

The staggering point total of lost ships at the end.

Our Band of Brothers: seated l-r is Dan, Adam, Jay and Todd.
Standing 2nd row is Todd, Michael (me) and host Bill.  3rd row
is John, Bob and Jim.

Birthday cake is a house tradition in Brown Deer and shows
a fore-boding of things to come for the Japanese Navy.
The next major naval game will be hosted in the Fox Valley area sometime after the first of the year.  Players have the option of picking up the "planned but never finished" ships that appear in Bywater's work like the battlecruisers Akagi and Lexington.  In any case, I'm sure it will be exciting.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Rock Con 2018

For most of the last few years I've gone to Rockford, IL in October to Rock Con.  A reasonably priced convention with a lot of variety, excellent staff and decent vendors.  This year Peg came along and sampled the offerings.

The con has five game slots, one Friday night, three Saturday and one Sunday so you are done by 1:00 on Sunday for that drive home.  An easy three hours for us.

My Friday night, Porto Playa Aftermath using Close Action.

Looking around I was struck by how "mature" we're all getting.

Five English ships engaged four larger French.

Team Yankee 1985

All Quiet on the Martian Front

For those that pre-registered you got a gift bag of goodies and a raffle ticket for some cool giveaways.  The con also has a silent auction on Saturday.  They don't take a commission but each lot entered has a flat fee.  My things were too small for the potential return so I brought my stuff back home.  However, I did score a replica British gorget from the 18th century for a whopping $2.

A Song of Fire and Ice, Peg's Friday game as a Stark.

Cold Steel and Canister 15mm Napoleonics.

Easy 8 Battleground in North Africa.

Vietnam: Just Another Day on the Mekong.

Battleground with 20mm, a Pegasus Bridge variant.

The Brown Water game was a big draw.

There were plenty of games this year with a large board game area set aside which saw lots of use.  I'm not sure about attendance.  Either there were more games or fewer players as many games didn't hit their max participation.

My game play, Sharp Practice for the ACW.

My command, which accomplished their game objective were
very well painted by GM Paul Scrivens-Smith.

Melee & Wizard: The Fantasy Trip Lair of Zanphrer.

Formula De Grand Prix in 1/144.

Age of Eagles v.2 Battle of Eylau in 15mm.

In the second session I played in a 3mm(!) session of Fate of a Nation from the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  We got a rather historic result but the scale and basing required a major mental adjustment.  Peg played in a Pathfinder game.  There were a lot more games not pictured like Wings of War, Pikeman's Lament, Jagdpanzer, Utah Beach, etc. etc.  Something for everyone.

My pico scale game.  They are so tiny!

Session 3: The famous B-Movie game.

I played Blood and Plunder with 28mm figs and scenery.

Fate of a Nation 15mm: Battle of Rafa Junction.

An English corvette (near) vs. a Spanish frigate.

The objective of the pirate raid, aided by my natives.

Peg's 4th session game, which made more progress than ours.

I played in a 5th edition session of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Sunday morning while Peg slaughtered Spanish (she also randomly got the natives).  Enjoy a good role-playing game and got to give my own party a zinger at the end.

On Sunday morning they stop all play for a bit and give away any extra gift bags, a few more prizes and anything from the auction which didn't sell but they don't want to drag home.  Always a fun time and they keep it from being a scramble.  Unfortunately all the plastic tank sprues were gone by the time I got there, though I got some fun foam dice.

Next year it is October 25-27th.  Cost for the weekend was $30 with no other fees required.  The only irritant is that you can't bring in any outside food and drink.  The Tebala Event Center provides food and beverages on site.  Good food but limited choices and convention prices.  But with an hour between sessions and lots of fast food within an hour drive it isn't a big deal.  Heartily recommend the convention.