Sunday, April 9, 2017

Rolling dice again!

As I alluded to in my last post I have a huge medical crisis at the end of February and nearly cashed in my chips.  Happily things look good but recovery has been painfully slow.  And slowly painful.  :-)  Today I finally got together with some of the gang for an exploratory game of 4th edition Flames of War.  I've been anxious to give them a try so we went to the ever hospitable Adventure Games and set up a 1500 point late-war game.

We kept it small because some were on a short timeline and my endurance still has a long ways to go.  So three Germans and three Soviets split up the 1500 points.  Our side had a force from a PDF with five Tiger I, two Hetzers and a funky little infantry kampfgruppe with a Pak40, two HMGs, four PzGr. MG stands, a tank-hunter and the command stand.  The Soviets had five JS-II, four gun batteries of 152, 76 and 57mm guns, plus two infantry units.

Starting positions, Germans defending.

Turn two and we're already down 40% of our Tigers.

Those Soviet 57mm ATGs are wicked.

The last picture requires some explanation.  For maybe three turns these three tanks dueled.  The Soviets couldn't hit and the Tiger couldn't make a firepower roll.  So when we quit after about six turns they were still facing each other.

It was a tough day to be an infantryman as both sides suffered.  The 57s were run off but three Tigers had died.  The Hetzers weren't going to do much against the JS-IIs to I figure we were losing.  But people needed to leave and my endurance ran out so we called it a friendly draw.  Nice to roll dice and nice to be among my buds once more.

First impressions of 4th edition: the learning curve is going to be a lot more than I expected.  Artillery had better survival chances.  Infantry that get hit with a bombardment have the choice of moving or dying.  Casual players are going to have a tougher time keeping track of all the little changes to their vehicle stats and capabilities.  Most of the changes are subtle, but there are a LOT of them.  Looking forward to the next test game.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Introducing battalion ???

At What-Khan back in October I picked up a box of Spencer plastic 18th century figures for a song.  All were in varying degrees of painted/flaking but I was pleased.  Having gotten started decades ago with "The Wargame" and similar old school games, they hit a nostalgia note.  Deciding to add a unit for my Imagi-Nation collection I found a group that were painted similarly and added enough others to form a 30 figure unit.

Next the decision of how to paint them.  Do I go with my modern methods or continue in the old school style they were already painted?  After much thought, helped along by an unexpected health crisis and being laid up for a long time, I decided on old school.  So yes, I can and do paint faces and such, but just thought to make it look like when I started out so long ago.

Still mounted on one pence coins.

So why the question marks in the title?  Well since they aren't based on an actual unit they need to be named.  I'm thinking they will most often serve with my Frenchish forces but that isn't locked in stone.  So suggestions are welcome.  I just need to identify them before they take the field the first time.  Now, what to do with the other 275+ figures?

Next up, I wanted to share a commission vignette I did.  Apparently the Ottomans had a regimental cook pot that had importance, so although it has no combat value in our games, it is important to have and keep it.

No sure what it doing with my camera, I usually get much crisper shots.  But there you go, "proof" I can paint in a modern style.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

South Pacific What If

In preparation for a large-scale campaign we set up a training game at Adventure Games in Oshkosh, WI.  The premise is that Pearl Harbor never happened and the Japanese attacked as expected.  So there has not been Coral Sea or Midway either.

Each side had a pair of WWI vintage BBs, three heavy cruisers, a torpedo cruiser for the Japanese and an AA cruiser for the Americans.  Each side had six destroyers as well.  Rules are Naval Thunder, slightly modified,

With just a 4x6' table all the main guns started in range.  In the foreground the Fuso and Yamashiro split away from each other, in the company of a cruiser or two.  Meanwhile the Arizona and Tennessee quickly maneuver to uncover their formidable broadsides.

Mogami leads Yamashiro and Atago, the BB in trouble already.

We quickly learned that while the points for each side were almost exactly even, the Japanese 12" guns simply couldn't penetrate the American battleship armor.  So they shifted to cruisers in the hopes of being able to swarm the enemy with Long Lances.

Americans adopt a linear formation.  USS Astoria is suffering.

The Americans kept in formation throughout while the Japanese split up, perhaps in the hope of dividing the enemy fire.  On the same turn the Astoria and Yamashiro took bridge hits which necessitated command checks.  Both ships failed and fled the battle, while the Mikuma managed to pass her test.

Kitikami seeks torpedo range while the damaged Mikuma plunges
straight ahead.

Somewhere in here the USS Chicago had taken enough damage that they chose to withdraw her under cover of smoke from destroyers.  This cost two destroyers but she made it away, still plugging away through the smoke with radar directed fire.

Mogami is a strong breeze away from sinking and Fuso is heavily hit.

The battle raged on for some time and technically there were more American ships sunk than Japanese when we quit but the victory cleared belonged to the USN.  Only a staggering 23 misses out of 24 battleship dice had saved the Fuso for another turn.  The sole consolation (for me) was having the Kitikami put a pair of torpedoes into the Arizona.  Unfortunately for our side neither beat her armor.

After this game we did a quick airstrike to test the campaign modifications.  More tweaking will be in the works.  Thanks Todd, Todd, Zach, Jay, Bob and ref Dan for getting together.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Empire: Attack and Defend

A multi-corps action was fought between the French and Saxons against the Austrians by our group over two short sessions.  The table featured a stone building village at the center of crossroads.  They placed one division within a deployment area, under the obligation of holding the crossroads.

Looking from the far left Austrian flank.

The French view and initial deployment.

After seeing the deployment, the Austrians were allowed to bring divisions and other maneuver element onto the table, one at a time.  The French/Saxons received similar reinforcements after the first hourly round.

A division of 12 battalions moves on the village.

First reinforcements.

First and second French reinforcements, going to the right and
forming a reserve.

Second Austrian reinforcement of 8 battalions, lead by Kollowrat.

The Austrians sent the "Light" division of one corps on a wide swinging operation.  It only had six battalions along but four were elite Jager battalions.  Also along were two light batteries and two fine cavalry regiments.  The Archduke Charles commanded the two corps force.  Davout led the French.

We are now locked in combat across almost the entire front.

Some success early on, driving off two French battalions, but
not getting into the village.

 On the left the Austrians used their superior ranged Jagers and light artillery to pry open a gap in the formidable French line.  The large cavalry regiments have the option of breaking into two or three battle-groups.  Finally getting the desired opportunity, they were released.

A battle-group of the Blankenstein Hussars rides down a battalion,
breaks a hasty square, and smashes two closed columns.  The last
three with no better than a 35% chance.

The ebb and flow of the battle around the village.

Openings on the Austrian left but not enough troops to fully exploit.

Now four French divisions on table with the Saxon coming up.

The Archduke Charles oversees the attack and inspires the men.
But where is Davout?

Gaining the edge in the cavalry fight.

A division under von Ulm takes the long, but open route to the French.

A grand battery was formed behind friendly cavalry, which was
promptly run off, forcing them to defend themselves.

The same Blankenstein battle-group over-ran two battalions
and a battery.

Austrian Chevau-Legers threaten the French left flank.

A grand battery anchored our right flank, though never bombarded.

After six hourly rounds in seven real hours we called the game.  One French division was near the breaking point.  Another French and one Austrian division passed their determination test to continue the fight.  Three of the four French infantry divisions were engaged while the Austrians had two more coming.  So although the crossroads were still tenuously in French hands, it could not last long.  Interestingly the Austrians got the initiative in all hourly rounds except one thanks to the Archduke Charles attaching himself to maneuver elements.

Thanks Dan, Todd, Bob and Andrew for an enjoyable game.  The scenario was loosely based on Quatre Bras, with the numbers significantly bumped up and sides reversed.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Imagi-Nation Action

In the wake of the successful TundraCon III Game Day we hosted an invitational game of BAR or "Batailles de l'Ancien Regime" by Bill Protz.  The battle, fought over an 18x12' table with a runway between the 6' main table, featured over 1750 painted 28mm infantry, 450 cavalry and 15 guns.  The armies were primarily composed of our "Imagi-Nation" forces.  One side was composed of Litharus (Russia) and Rondovia (Germanic city states) vs. Latveria, Prochistan, Gallia (France) and some confused Austrians wondering how they got there.  Infantry units ranged from 30-60 figures each, while cavalry squadrons were mostly 12 figures.

The Lith/Rond army had an advantage in infantry, the Allies under French Marechal Soubise had more cavalry and an edge on deployment.  Having the option to occupy the small village on their right, which they had the sense to do.  General Ouromov of Litharus has a challenge ahead.  Click to enlarge the pictures.  Our hosts and provider of food and drink was the American Legion Hall in Appleton.

The lull before the storm.

After the first move by each side.

"Soubise" surveys the battlefield.
The basic plan for Ouromov was to lead with the left, pressure the middle and win the cavalry melee on the right.  To that end all eight squadrons of cuirsassiers were posted there.  Facing lighter cavalry we felt cause for optimism.  BAR gives you many options for regulating movement and firing.  For our purposes that day we had a player's command move on the turn of a favorable card.  With five players on each side it worked well.  After all movement was complete we would start turning firing cards.

Looks daunting, but remember the back table is in play.

Hussars swarm about.

Major cavalry clash on the left of the Allies.

Close up of the Litharusian and Latverian combat.

Looking down the table, infantry in the foreground awaits the
outcome of the cavalry melee.

Bill Protz and Eric Saterdalen react to something.

Aggression ran high and action was fierce on the left.

The Dainava Jagers screen the advance of Cossacks.

Who boldly charge home against steady infantry.

Failing to break them, they continue the melee rather than break off.

Action is general across the front.  Here and there reserves trickle in but both commanders are playing the nerves game to see who will have the last reserve.  Slowly but steadily the massed cavalry melee goes against us.  General Orlov urges his men to new heroics but good tactics and better dice will prevail.

The smaller Rondovian units (48 figures) use their maneuverability
to try and force a break through.  But every victory is quickly countered.

On the left the players are very prone to charges and melee.  It
typically didn't go the way of the attacker.

For a  time it looks hopeful in the center.

Cossacks have run, now dragoons move to take their turn.

With even less prospect of success.
As we reached a bit beyond the half-way point of game time, things were clarifying.  On our left we had pressured the defenders and run off some units but the attack was a spent force.  In the center Ouromov kept getting messages saying "I haven't lost the center yet!" to which he replied to his Rondovian ally "How about, I haven't taken the center yet!".  The right center seemed cursed with bad cards and dice.  Add to that the irritating fire from the Latverian Border Foxes in the woods and things were looking poor.  Ouromov sent in a grenadier and guard unit from the deep reserve to help.  And on the right the Litharusian cavalry was all but eliminated.  While the remaining Allied cavalry was largely a spent force our hopes of a break-through there were gone.

Getting thin in the middle.

Looking from our left flank the white-coated French are advancing.

More French and Prochistan troops advance.

General Soubise commits the heavy reserve cav to end all doubts.

The Latverian Duke of Alten regiment moves to the center.

Amazingly quick pick-up.  Game over at 4:30, ready to leave at 5:10.

And so the first invitational came to an end with defeat for Litharus and Rondovia.  I believe that I can safely say all players were pleased with the game (if not the result) and we look to make it a new deep-winter tradition.