Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fire for effect! Repeat... Fire for effect!

So today we traveled a bit south to put on some Flames of War games at.... wait for it.... Fire for Effect Games in Oshkosh, WI.  We found tables at a nice height with cool mat covers (see pictures) and several people interested in giving the rules a try.  The theme was mid-war and initially had Falschirmjagers (with a Tiger) against Americans; five Tigers and two self-propelled AA against American, and at my table grenadiers with three Tigers (sensing a pattern here....) against my Brits.  People new to the game were added in here and there.  I got AJ who had done some miniature gaming but nothing like this.  Click to enlarge pictures.

German paras and a Tiger on table one

Tiny but super powerful force on table two

Our game, striving for a bit of balance among arms

In the first game the lone Tiger waddled over to the nearest objective, said "try and push me off" and the game ended soon.  In  the second the Tiger/SPAA group also won quickly.  On my table I was against Clayton again, a genuine gentleman for a middle-schooler, and I thought we had a big advantage after the deployment.  Massing my six Shermans on the right along with the recon element and most of the infantry/HMG stands, I figured my four towed 17 pdrs. could contain the Tigers.  Yeah..... right.  Didn't help that their Tiger Ace roll allowed them to re roll misses.

Charge!  Only infantry and a pair of spotty guns to stop us!

Redeploy, offering flanks to the ineffectual 17 pdrs.

And as they emerge from a smoke screen, we burn

Out of tanks and unable to hit the Tigers with guns that could kill them it turned to the infantry and recon to try to win the game.  Using a combination of mortar fire and Vickers HMGs to pin German infantry groups the Recon Bren Carriers (upgraded with .50 cals.) successfully assaulted and over-ran three German groups.  Meanwhile at a critical moment the Tigers were deflected from their pursuit of an objective to try and save theirs instead.  In one of the rare moments of success I experienced (AJ was doing all the hurt) I assaulted a bailed out Tiger and eliminated it with grenades, bayonets and harsh language.  So as German infantry closed in on an objective defended only by a pair of AA trucks, our Recon group raced to an objective with infantry double-timing it behind them.

Broad view with the Motivation test in the foreground

VCs all around!

The seemingly invulnerable German 105s opened up on the Recon troop and added another armored scalp to their tally, dropping them below half strength.  We needed to pass a motivation test to win.....  and AJ came through.  Without a doubt the closest, nail-biter game I've experienced with FoW.  Usually it seems someone makes a mistake with deployment or simply gets unlucky early on and the game is over.  Not so this one.  The 17 pdrs. were an epic fail.  They rarely hit.  If they did Clayton usually made his armor save.  If he didn't all I could get was a bailed out result.  Not surprisingly all six of our tanks were quickly burners or runners.

New game on table one, but with predictible results

A different American contingent took on the Falschirmjagers and uber Tiger with another quick exit for the Americans.  As I left to run errands before returning to Appleton Clayton was taking on a Soviet group based on T-34s and a LOT of rocket trucks.  At the time Tigers were up 3-1 for the day.  Makes you wonder. 

Nice to meet some new gamers and introduce our flavor of miniature gaming.  A fine bunch of fellows and a good new game shop at 605 S. Main St.  Oshkosh, WI.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Flames of War in Green Bay

On the 10th of February the group returned to Gnomes Games East for a Flames of War day.  We set up an early-war, mid-war and late-war game with a "Free for All" scenario on each.

Early war, BEF vs. the blitzkrieg

Mid war Americans vs. Germans.  I KNEW Santa was a gamer!

Clayton ponders his move, late war Germans vs. British

Two players were trying FoW for the first time and must have enjoyed it because they have since bought more stuff! 

Our game had a Reluctant-Veteran Cromwell company supported by armored infantry, Sextons, recon Stuarts, 17 pdrs. and Typhoons take on a Tiger II, Panthers, PzJr.IV, motorized grenadiers, MkIV panzers and a pair of 105s.  Not much cover meant the 17 pdrs. were very vulnerable and would have been wasted points except for the German desire to destroy them.  The Germans getting the first move meant there were burners right away.  My Stuarts made for an end run while others found what cover they could. 

The right with lots of armor and big guns.

The center with my recon move in the distance

Burners here and there

Meanwhile the early war game ended very quickly with a German victory.  Time enough to plug in a new player and go again.  The mid war game had the unique situation where ALL the American Shermans were bailed at one point.  The Germans had no trouble hitting and penetrating but could not roll the fire-power test to kill them.  Still, it was nip and tuck till the American learned a lesson about double dice following a double move.  Another German win.

Jadgpanzers caught in the open

Panthers hunting 17 pdrs.

Race to cover in the fields

Though I got planes every turn but one they did very little, nor did the Sextons.  In the end it came down to positioning lots of stuff and rushing both objectives the same turn.  The Germans simply couldn't muster the firepower to clear or contest both.  Because of my inability to roll good dice and Clayton's newness casualties were fairly light as FoW goes.  Not so on the other tables.  I believe the score for the day was Germans 3, Allies 1. 

We will be putting on another promotional session with extra armies for people wanting to try it out in Oshkosh, WI in the near future.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Kickin' it Old School!

For the final game of the SYW campaign in Europe it was decided to pull out our "old school" figures and units for the "Batailles de l'Ancien Regimes" game.  Figure ratio was adjusted up to 20:1 making infantry battalions either 24 or 30 figures for the most part.  The engagement had Prussians against French, Irish, Swiss and Saxon infantry.  The cream of both sides cavalry was present with gleaming cuirasses everywhere.

The Prussians, under der Alte Fritz, deployed all of the Prussian armored cavalry on the left with some dragoons and superior hussars on the right, where I had the honor to command.  Our center was the weakest, something the French picked up upon.  It appeared the French cavalry was mostly divided on each wing, with the bulk of the French and allied infantry on our left.

The left, with good cavalry ground

The center as the Swiss advance

Initial deployment on the right

A massive, swirling cavalry scrum developed on the left, punctuated by the sound of steel on steel and the scream of horses.  In the center the Swiss boldly marched at the Prussian center.  At first thought to be a sacrificial lamb they proved themselves to be of the stuff of their ancestors.  On the right the mass of heavy cavalry visible on the back table caused me to take a cautious approach.  Looking to whittle them down and soften the infantry before throwing in my own.

Cavalry melee intensifies

Prussian left center as things go bad in the upper right

To the surprise of our side and possibly the French, the Prussian center was ripped open and I had to shift my small reserve brigade to staunch the wound.  Confused charge and counter charge raged there as our numbers (and finally a bit of luck with the dice) gave the advantage to the Prussians.  On the right we had finally soften the French infantry to the point where I thought it right to turn loose the hussars.

One of many complicated melees in the center

Hussars eye their prey...

...and charge home for melee

Saving throws were not kind and the weakened French repelled the hussars not once but twice.  At that the French cuirassiers began to deploy and charge, having been somewhat weakened by the fire of the Prussian "Brummers."  On the left the Prussian cavalry prevailed but was largely a spent force.  As Saxon grenadier guards and others began to shift to the center the Prussian infantry on the left advanced.

Now the French cuirassiers charge

Having stabilized the center, new foes appear

Beautiful battalions march forward

As playing time elapsed or perhaps fatigue set in, the Prussians were advancing on the left, heavily engaged but thought to have an advantage in the center, and on the right had miraculously turned back the French heavy cavalry.  Judging their infantry, which had been engaged heavily as well was not going to do anything, the cavalry turned about and road off to fight another day.

The smaller units were noted to be much more maneuverable but much more brittle compared to the 60 figure units we are used to fielding.  Cavalry was run more as regiments than the usual squadrons and they dominated play wherever they were.  I had played some smaller games (as in fewer units) before using the smaller battalions but it was nice to confirm that BAR plays just as well with small units.

For  the players bringing figures it was a chance to use units that had seen little use since the 80s in my case.  Most of the infantry were old MiniFigs, Hinchcliff or even Scruby figures.  All except for some lovely Mindens fielded by der Alte Fritz.  Six players kept the game spirited and fast moving.  Wine and cigars contributed to the "old school" feel.

A couple more pictures of the action as we close.

J├Ągers nip at flanks and survive

Saxon and Prussian grenadiers in action


Monday, February 4, 2013

Napoleonic Rearguard

Loosely based on the Charles Grant Tabletop Teaser, we dusted off my homegrown skirmish rules for a Sunday afternoon game.  "Tirailleurs en Grande Bandes" was started in the early 90s to give me something to use my old Airfix plastics with.  Each unit gets two cards in a deck with which they can undertake one action, i.e. load, fire, charge, etc.  A joker is also in the deck which when drawn allows the side with the previous card to select one unit to receive a single extra action.  Results use 1d10 and the rules are basically on one sheet.  A work in progress at all times.  But, to the action!

The French fielded three twelve figure cavalry units; one each of Chasseurs, Lancers and Dragoons.  Two twenty-four figure line infantry units and Legere unit completed their advance guard.  The Prussians had two twenty-four figure line units and two Landwehr units with a light gun.  Ideally they would hold the bridge at the mill for future use, at worse deny it to the French.  They could deploy up to the mid point of the table.  The French started 24" in from the short edge.

The French got a little tangled up initially and first blood went to the Prussians as they emptied the first of many saddles that day.  The field was tall enough to allow for concealment if they knelt or partial cover for musketry.  The field gun had a target and fired a round ball but it bounced harmlessly over the target.  It would take two actions to reload.  Meanwhile the legere sought to close with the bayonet but most came up short.

The line troops in the field found themselves first threatened then charged in open order by cavalry.  It didn't go well and then the cards compounded the problem by giving the cavalry another action to roll up the line.  A unit that feels threatened can put their action card on "hold."  It allows reaction to many enemy actions but are all dependent on a reaction.  If the enemy doesn't trigger it the card and action are wasted.  Unfortunately for the line troops, they had no opportunity to run or form up.  Meanwhile, having chased the line out of the woods on the left, skirmish lines engaged each other with musketry.

As the two line units were destroyed or routed they began to stream back towards the bridge and safety.  The gun managed to take down two figures with another round ball but came unit musket fire and their rate of fire slowed.  The French cavalry was losing a lot of horses but not many riders.  Still, a cavalryman on foot holds less terror than mounted so the Prussians tried to focus on whittling down the infantry units.  One routed, but the other two were largely untouched.  "Fire the bridge!" came the order.  The dice was rolled and.... fzzzzt!  The worst possible result meant that three passes through the deck would be required to try again.  Six actions per unit....  Not good.

While we struggled for a bit longer, the damage was done and it was clear the bridge would not be held.  The legere rallied and were coming back, the Prussian line troops were gone, leaving only the Landwehr and a depleted gun crew (which had managed to get in a good canister round before dragging the gun away) and a bridge that could not be made ready for demolition quickly enough.

Seemingly a fun time for all.  The cards added some dramatic tension to the game, the jokers were always important, and real world lessons like don't get caught in the open by cavalry were reinforced.  Plus wings, beer and a good movie made it all complete.  Cheers,