Saturday, 9 December 2017

Frostgrave - Not a Good Night to be a Wizard

Mark and I played a couple of games of Frostgrave at club last week, my Necromancer and his orcs against the diminutive hobbit warband, which turned out to be a bit of a bloodbath for the magic users. Once again I used my 3x3 cobblestone mat from Ceri Designs, at just £19 this has been a bargain with loads of different uses.

The first scenario was "Genie in the Bottle". The angry genie turned up very early and the game was mostly comprised of running away or hiding from the genie, or else trying to lead it on to your opponent. Early on I put down a wall of fog to cut off the LOS to a treasure for the hobbit apprentice and his bowman. Unfortunately the hobbits came  through the fog and picked up the treasure triggering the genie on my side of the fog. The little sods then legged it through my fog, leaving the genie to hare off after my Necromancer! He managed to avoid the genie by letting it take on one of the orcs, who somehow survived by pushing the genie back in combat and diving out of sight.

In evading the genie however, my wizard out himself into the path of a hobbit bowman who promptly shot him through the eye, killing him outright!

I did manage to get everyone out of LOS of the genie, who them wandered off randomly, straight through the fog and onto the hobbits. It promptly killed both an archer and the apprentice in hand to hand, then took an elemental bolt from the hobbit wizard, which hurt it, but didn't kill it. The genie returned the compliment with a fire arrow which killed the hobbit wizard.

As the only magic user left alive my apprentice decided to call it a day and the orcs slunk off with 3 treasures. What was left of the hobbits also scarpered with 2 treasures.

                                                                      The battlefield.
                                         The genie appears and heads after the Necromancer.....
                                       ...whilst his apprentice keeps his head down.
                                           The hobbits chuckle away behind the fog....
                                       ...not for long, you can just see the dead wizard in the doorway.

The second game was "The Worm Hunts". This was a more of a battle, with much toing and froing. The two wizards spent quite a bit of the game trying to knock each other off, chucking bone darts and elemental bolts back and forth, with much to show for it. My orcs did manage to bag a couple of the little runts and snaffled 3 of the treasures. The worm finally appeared by the last treasure and from then on things got silly as fog and wall spells appeared all over the place as we tried to protect our own warbands and funnel the beastie off onto the opponent's.

A brave hobbit managed to climb to the top of the highest building (where Mark had helpfully placed the treasure) and climb down again with his ill gotten gains, but was caught and eaten before he could get off the table. once again we both considered discretion to be the better part of valour and left the last treasure to the worm.

Other games being played that night were a 6mm Napoleonic battle using Black Powder.




An early experience of WW1 for the Canadians using Chain of Command (with the club amendments)



And finally two games of Warhammer 40K.
                                                      Space Marines vs something else.
                                                         Orcs Sir, thousands of 'em!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Reiver Bloodbath in Border Village

We played a 3-player game on En Garde at the club this week, set on the turbulent 16th Century border between Scotland and England.

Certain Scottish nobles have been in, potentially treasonous, correspondence with England's Queen, but their messenger was waylaid by a notorious footpad and the letters stolen. The villain slipped across the border and is hiding in a nearby village until he can get to Carlisle and fence his stolen goods. The Scots are desperate to get their letters back, the thief may be unaware of their value, but they cannot risk the letters falling into more knowing hands.

Unable to risk sending their own men to retrieve the letters, the Scots have engaged the services of a border reiver clan to do the job for them for a handsome reward. Unfortunately the nobles did not consult with one another and so each noble has engaged the services of a different family!

These are three less well-known border "Names", the Webbs, Ransoms and Harrisons. Each warband consists of a Chieftain with a sword, a Veteran with sword and pistol, 2 Reivers with sword and buckler and 3 Broken Men, 2 with matchlocks and 1 with a bill.

The thief is hiding in one of the buildings. It takes a full move to search a single floor of a building, roll 1d6, 1-3 the floor is empty, 4-5 not sure (search again next turn) 6 = thief found! To win the thief had to be escorted off of the players starting area. Because of his struggles, the escorted thief would move only 3" per turn. If the escort has killed, the thief would run in a random direction after all the players had moved.

In order to make a game of it we ignored the first 6 each player rolled when searching, which was just as well as I rolled a 6 on my first search, so it would have been a quick game!

                                      
                                                          The quiet before the storm

                                                   Ale in the garden on a sunny day....

                                             ...and the local priests think about joining them!

"Get more ale, the vicar's coming!"

                                                       The blacksmith hard at work


Each warband entered from a different corner and rushed men into the nearest houses to search them. The Ransoms and Harrisons exchanged ineffective gunfire and long range, whilst the Webbs swarmed around the church.


                                              Drawing a bead on a passing Ransom reiver

   The Webbs set up shop around the church (the white marker indicate the pistol is unloaded, having just fired and missed).

Soon frantic sword fights broke out. The 2 Harrison Reivers rushed into a building from one side whilst the Webb Chieftain and a Reiver burst in from the other. After a fierce tussle through the rooms the Webb Reiver had a grievous wound, but both Harrison men were dead. 
On the other side of the village the Ransom Veteran found himself ambushed by the Harrison Veteran and billman. At first the ransom Veteran gained the upper hand against his two opponents, until a matchlock man join the fray to "help" him. Luck turned against the ransoms now as the nwecomer was skewered by the billman before he could strike a blow and the Veteran was first wounded, then finished off.

A villager rushes away from a vicious street corner brawl (red markers are wound, yellow indicates a stun).
The Ransom matchlock man rushes from the building to help his comrade, just before he ends up as kebab on the end of a bill


As the casualties mounted the Ransoms found the thief, skulking in a house. Ignoring each other, the Harrisons and Webbs rushed towards the Ransoms, who hustled the prisoner away whist forming up a rearguard to protect their escape. The Webbs reached them first and seemed unstoppable as they cut down all in their path. They finally caught up with the last of the Ransoms at the table edge, a whisker away from the exit point an victory for the Ransoms. 

As they battled each other the last of the Harrisons arrived. The Harrison Chieftain crashed into two Reivers locked in combat and took them both on! (His Fast ability meant that he could launch two attacks in a single round). Both fell to his superior swordsmanship. Now the Webb Chieftain rushed up to join the fray, but the Harrisons turned on him and fired, putting a pistol and a matchlock ball into him. Despite his armour this left him grievously wounded. 

In a final attempt to snatch victory, the last Ransom man broke off from his combat, dragging the prisoner with him. This was a risky move as it allowed the Webb Reiver he had been fighting to take a free hack at him as he backed off. The Webb dice were good and the last Ransom sank to the ground. This left the prisoner unattended and in the next turn everyone nearby was engaged in combat (and reluctant to turn their back on the enemy having seen what had just happened to the Ransom man!), so we rolled a random directional die and the promptly ran off the table and escaped!

Despite everything no one won! (Although you could argue that the Ransoms lost as they were all dead). Great fun was had by all with another excellent little set of rules from Osprey.

"Got Him!" It all went downhill from this point.

There were three other games that evening, a Zombie hunt game, Warhammer 40K and a WW1 naval bash (unfortunatley I was so involved in killing off the Ransoms that I forgot to take pictures of those!).


Monday, 20 November 2017

The Men Who Would Be Kings for the 1912 Balkans War

SUNDAY
Martin and I drove across to Warfare at Reading on the Sunday with my 1912 Balkans War game. I'd previously demonstrated this period using Chain of Command, but this year I was using The Men Who Would be Kings by Dan Mersey. Although the rules a written for 19th century colonial conflicts, I've found they work very well for the early 20th century as well. The First and Second Balkans Wars, with their huge variety of troop types and qualities, are easily covered with these adaptable rules. Later in the day we were joined by Henry to help out and allow for some wandering time/loo breaks.

Instead of the usual 6x4 table, I was playing this on a 3x3 area, using the skirmish version of TMWWBK (which uses half sized units). Although we were on the show listing as a demonstration game, I was intending this as a "soft" participation game, if anyone showed interest in how the rules worked for this period, they would be invited to join in and see.

It was a simple scenario, there were 3 objective points that needed to be scouted, which ever side scouted the most was the winner!
The Greeks had 4 units (1 elite, 2 regular and 1 irregular volunteers) and the Turks had 5 (2 regular, 2 militia and 1 irregular volunteers).

                                                                  The battlefield
                                                             A view from the other side
                                                              The 3 objectives

We played the scenario three times in the end, and every game had at least one passer by joining in. I'd planned the scenario to last for about an hour, including time for explaining the rules and that seemed to work. Allowing for lunch and shopping trips, as well as a lot of chatting to interested passers by, 3 hours gaming was just about right before everything started to wind down. Out of the three games, we had one Greek Victory and two Turkish.

                                                                Turkish Militia
                       Greek Regulars - The Italian Legion: Garabaldini Redshirts for the 20th Century
                                             Turkish Regulars and Militia prepare to advance
                                                        Greek Irregular Volunteers
                                                               Turkish Regular Cavalry
                                             Turkish Militia seize the central objective
                                    The situation at the end of the game, another Turkish victory!
                                                          Finally, a win for the Greeks

We had a great time and chatted to a lot of interesting people, both visitors and those running nearby games. I didn't spend very much as the one trader I wanted to buy from wasn't there this year!

An added bonus for me was when a father and son stopped by to admire the game and ask questions, when I turned to answer them I realised it was my old friend Nigel, who lives on the Isle of Wight and I hadn't seem face to face in years. We'd first met at a reenactment event about 25 years ago, when we got very, very drunk. It's a small world.

An extra thank to Martin who stepped in at the last minute to drive me and the game over, despite having attended the previous day with a 54mm ACW participation game.

I've also now got Alan's report on the Saturday (unfortunatly no pictures for this one).

SATURDAY
Martin, Ian R, and I took our 54mm ACW participation game to the Warfare 2017 show on Sat Nov 18th. Warfare is a regular slot for us, the guys from WAR always put on a great show and we really enjoy going along.

Once again, the show this year was well attended, and we were kept busy right from the start and most of the day. As we had seen at Milton Keynes earlier in the year, there was a lot of interest in our participation game - a simple skirmish might-have-been scenario, which we envisaged as taking place on the early morning of July 2nd 1863, somewhere near the Peach Orchard on the Gettysburg battlefield.

Our use of 54mm figures for the game drew a lot of attention, and many visitors to our table were keen to know where we had obtained the figures and whether they were available for sale at the show. Unfortunately we had to disappoint them, we didn’t see anyone selling 54mm figures at the show, and Martin and I had picked ours up at a museum in Atlanta on our ACW tour trip last year. However, we received numerous favourable comments about using  the larger scale on a 5x5 table, and it proved very popular with the gamers who gave it a try - something we will definitely be taking into consideration when planning our show offerings for next year.

Over the course of the day we played the game about a half dozen times, with plenty of time for chatting with the gamers and passers-by as well. Several had commented that there did seem to be fewer participation games on display this year, which is a shame, although there were some beautifully-crafted large-table games on show as well.

An added bonus – we were approached by a gamer who has recently moved into our area and is looking for a club, so we will look forward to welcoming them to  one of our regular Friday evening meetings.

Overall, a very enjoyable day, and a big thank you to the guys at WAR for organising a great show.


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Games Day November 2017 - WWI Big Chain Of Command

For the November all-day game Henry, Ian, Graham, Mark, Martin and Colin (me) played a WWI game using rules adapted from Big Chain Of Command.

Belgians are defending a town against an onslaught by the Germans.

Forces

Belgians - Henry & Colin
One Regular Infantry Platoon
Half an Elite Infantry Platoon
Supports - MMGs and Field Guns
Reserves - 2 Mounted Infantry units - arrival Point to be randomised when brought on.

Germans - Ian, Martin, Graham & Mark
3 Regular Infantry Platoons
Supports
Reserves - Cavalry

Layout
The town area, designated by the grey felt cloth, offered Soft Cover though-out. The town buildings have all been scratch built by Henry. The green cloth is open ground with various terrain features.

Deployment
The Belgians could deploy anywhere in the town.
The Germans had normal Jump-Off Points pre-positioned for the scenario by the umpire. Basically they were near the base line - one on the left, one in the centre and one on the right, and offering cover to troops deploying there.

The Game

Graham deployed one German Platoon on their left, Martin in their centre, and Mark on their right.
Ian had control of the German Reserve.
Martin starts his deployment deep in cover in the German centre.

 The Germans were rather slow to start, being very cautious of the open ground in front of them and not knowing what Belgians were going to appear where. They slowly moved forward as far as possible while still benefiting from any cover offered by the terrain.
From their start positions the Germans move slowly forward
to take advantage of any cover that is going.

In response, Henry deployed the Belgian Regular Platoon opposite Mark and Martin, and Colin deployed the Elite half platoon opposite Graham.
Henry's Regular Belgian Platoon in hard cover faces
two platoons of Germans.

Graham built up a good fire base against the Elite squads but hitting them in hard cover was proving to be difficult ...
Part of Graham's fire base in the early stages.
Two MMGs in support of  infantry.

... so he made good use of Covering Fire to reduce the effect of incoming fire from the Elites which were using the large building at the edge of the town and a trench on the flank. This gave the Germans time to take up advance positions while still gaining cover.
The Covering Fire on the Elite Belgians in the house and trench
severely reduced the effect of their fire.

On the Germans right, Mark had drawn a lot of fire from Henry's Regular Platoon and forced most of the Belgian Support units into the fight. Unfortunately for the Belgians the Supports became isolated and picked off, greatly reducing the Regular Platoons Morale.
Not a good photo, but shows the isolated positions
of the Belgian gun pits against the wire at the edge of the town.

Mark brought on a Field Gun against the Belgian Regulars.

For a while the Germans could not co-ordinate their attack, perhaps due to poor communication or lack of the good activation dice. Some piecemeal attacks were made.
Graham attempted to advance a couple of squads against the Elite Belgians
while they were under Covering Fire but could not reach the wire.

Eventually the Germans managed to co-ordinate their attack and most of them used the slow Tactical Move to gain extra cover as they moved across the open ground towards the wire lining the town.


There was certainly a lack of communication by the Belgians, which meant Colin hadn't
known about the poor state of Henry's Regular Platoon, and before he realised it they were on the point of breaking.
Ian was champing at the bit to get his German Cavalry Reserve onto the field and had quickly made ground between the slow moving German infantry up to the town.
Ian's Cavalry Reserve break into the town and look intent
on breaking the Morale of the remaining Belgian Regulars.

The Belgian Reserves were called for too late. By now there was only a 50/50 chance they would arrive each phase, and the arrival position of the Reserves was randomised. It took 4 turns to bring on the Reserves and they came on behind Graham. Initially they had great local success because they came on straight into Combat and defeated three German units. Then a fist-full of fives meant no activation for one phase.
Belgian Reserves (top right) arrive behind the Germans
and had great success initially.
Then a fist-full of fives meant no activation for one turn.

This enabled the Germans to respond to the threat in their rear and finish off the Belgian Reserves.
The luck of the Belgian Reserves has run out.

Meanwhile Henry's Belgian Regular Platoon had broken under the onslaught leaving the Elites stranded on the flank.
Repeated Close assaults on the building finished off the resistance there ...
Repeated assaults on the Elites defending the building
finally met with success.

...and the rampaging German Cavalry Reserve had swung round to the rear of the Elites in the trench.
German infantry to the front and a cavalry attack from the rear
 spells the end for the Belgians.

With Martin and Mark sweeping their German infantry through the town the end came quickly.

It is possible that the Belgian Elites could have offered more support to the Regular Platoon early on, but not much really. They had their hands full dealing with what was in front of them while Martin's German infantry in the centre was making good use of cover (they were scared to come out) so there weren't many target opportunities there.

We all had a good time with everyone involved in the battle.