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.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Action in the Adriatic

At TundraCon III in Appleton, WI I ran a what-if scenario pitting the fleets of WWI Italy and Austro-Hungary against one another.  Naval Thunder: Clash of Dreadnoughts were the rules of choice, played (easily) on a 6x6' table with six players.

The Austro-Hungarian fleet was composed of the dreadnoughts Prinz Eugen, Viribus Unitis, Szent Istvan (flag) and Tegetthoff, supported by the pre-dreadnoughts Radetzky and Zrinyl.  The Kingdom of Italy was represented by the dreadnoughts Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Alighieri, Andrea Doria, Giulio Cesare and Caio Duilio (flag), supported by the armored cruisers San Marco and Pisa.

The A-H force was secretly required to have at least two columns, one of the pre-dreadnought and one (or more) of dreadnoughts, separated by at least 5000 yards.  The Italians were secretly required to come in line-abreast with the dreadnoughts.  Starting distance allowed for a turn or more of maneuver before firing commenced, being limited to 36" for the main guns on both sides.

A+H force chose to have three columns.

Approaching Italians.
Early on it was a contrast in planning vs. luck.  The Italians swung into line of battle on their second turn to allow full broadsides.  However, while they scored hits right away, they failed to penetrate the AH armor most of the time.  The AH force however kept in three groups and managed to mask the fire of parts of their main batteries.  Yet when they hit, penetrating the weaker Italian armor was easier.

Italian line of battle.

AH fleet seems to be fanning out, inviting destruction in detail.
The broadside differential, 56 AH vs. 65 12" guns, was partially mitigated by the stronger armor of the AH ships and bad luck on penetration rolls for the Italians.  Soon the Andrea Doria had lost two turrets, the Dante Alighieri had lost her fire control and flooding induced a severe list on the Giulio Cesare.

Chits indicate critical hits that have started fires, flooding, etc.
And then the proverbial "Golden BB" struck.  A rare penetrating hit on the Szent Istvan went all the way to magazine, causing her immediate destruction.  Since that was the flagship all the other AH ships had to make command checks, modified by damage taken to continue the fight.  Surprisingly, all five survivors carried on.

Disaster strikes the flagship.
As ships closed to sometimes medium range the hits began to pile up.  Sunk were the Dante Alighieri and Andrea Doria.  On the other side, a never controlled flood sank the Radetzky and the Tegetthoff succumbed to mass fire.  The final straw was when the Zrinyl took a rudder hit and would spend the rest of the game circling to the right.  The Prinz Eugen and Viribus Unitis decided to break off the action, leaving the Zrinyl to her fate.  On the other side the Giulio Cesare's speed had been reduce to 1" and the Caio Dulio to 3".  So they were happy to see the Austrians depart.

End game, just before the Radetzky and Tegetthoff sink.

In terms of points, the AH fleet lost 888 in the four ships (we presume the Radetzky would sink).  The Italians lost 516 in sunk ships and 129 for mission kills; total 645 points.  So a close and expensive victory for the Italians, but given the actual French and British support and the damage to the AH "fleet in being," things were going to go well in the Adriatic for the rest of the war.

GHQ graciously donated two gift certificates which we diced off for.  Hopefully they will help the fleets grow.  Everyone took adversity and good fortune with equal grace, a most enjoyable game to run.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TundraCon III

The third annual TundraCon game day was held at the Appleton Legion Hall Jan. 7th.  Despite bitter temps and sub-zero wind chills we had another solid turnout.  My thanks to the 30+ players and two vendors who showed, it is always a good thing to finish in the black.  So mark your calendars for January 6th, 2018.

I believe all the scheduled games ran and all were almost full.  Players usually had three or four games to choose from all the time.  There was even enough room for the odd pick-up game.  The Legion provided food and beverage for participants, or there were a number of quick choices nearby.  For those looking to overnight in the future, there are also several hotels very close.

I didn't get around to take as many pictures as usual, but the images below will give you a feel for the action and types of games available.

"To the Strongest" ancients game

3D version of the classic "Steading of the Hill Giants"

"Villains and Vigilantes" 

"Tanks!" from Gale Force Nine


Italians and Austro-Hungarian WWI "what-if" using "Naval Thunder"

"Sails of Glory" 
"Epic Armageddon"

There was more To the Strongest played, along with some Jacobite Rebellion using Final Argument of Kings.  A 1/600 Russo-Japanese naval game changed history.  Probably more I'm forgetting.  My understanding is the last left about 11:30pm Saturday night after setting up for a special game on Sunday.  I'll blog on that later.  Kudos to the planning group of Dan, Adam, Paul, Bob, Todd and myself for pulling it together again.  Hope to see you there next year!