Saturday, 2 June 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings League...and more.

We had two games in the club TMWWBK league playing the the club last night, as we enter the 4th round. We are playing our way through the scenarios in the book, so there will be 8 rounds for the 8 scenarios. We are playing the games at the skirmish level, ie half sized forces. I decided to go this route as most of the people who wanted to play the league could field armies this size from they existing collections. It also meant that those who wanted to build a new force for the league could do so quite quickly.

We had a couple of interesting mash-ups last night. On one table my Herero tribesmen faced Jon's Colonial Belgians, while on the other table Mark's Colonial British faced Colin's Warlord Era Chinese!

The scenario was "Get Off My Land", and I had to scout 6 designated points on the table, whilst Jon's Belgians tried to see me off. At first it looked a daunting prospect, given the Belgian's fire power (2 European units of regular sharpshooters and 2 units of irregular askari). I had 5 units of irregular riflemen, but only 1 unit had modern rifles, so his sharpshooters out ranged most of my units. But rolling for leadership helped me, Jon got mostly 7+ leaders, whilst mine were all 5+ and 6+. This would make me more manoeuvrable and give me a better morale. However as all his units could shoot without needing an order, he could still just stay in place and gun me down.

I started off by using my modern rifles to pick off some of his sharpshooters, whilst the others either rushed for the objectives, or tried to close the range. It started well, I killed 2 men from the sharpshooters in the open and reached 2 objectives in the first move. My mounted unit skirted wide to try and stay out of range of the sharpshooters and made for one of the furthest objectives. Jon failed to move his askaris, his weakened sharpshooters only hit 1 man and my morale held, but the sharpshooters in the jungle cut down 2 men from the unit in contact with the nearest objective and pinned them. I rallied them, but the pattern repeated for the next couple of turns, Jon fired, pinned me, then I rallied until the unit was wiped out. On other side of the table I claimed my first objective and massed three units to fire at the exposed sharpshooters. They killed a couple of my figures but I took them all down.

In the meantime Jon had pulled his askari back to cover the objectives closer to his baseline, but on the right flank my mounted infantry got there first. Two objectives to me and one of the askari started to move back to support the remaining sharpshooter unit, we had both now lost a unit, plus I had one unit down to 1 man. My remaining infantry got into cover and started a firefight with the Belgians whilst my mounted unit grabbed another objective. In so doing they lost 2 men but their morale held. A lucky shot pinned the Belgians and the mounted unit rushed up into close range. they rallied but took another kill and were pinned again, just as their askari arrived to help them. Now the game changed as Jon's attempt to rally the sharpshooters failed, even better they routed off the table.

All my units moved in on the unfortunate askari, who were soon pinned and retiring. They still held off a charge from my mounted infantry, sending them reeling with a bloody nose but could not stop me  grabbing 2 more objectives. At this point I called ahalt and announced I would withdraw. Jon had an untouched unit, in cover, protecting the last objective, I had 3 half-strength units remaining. I was in no position to make an attempt to the last objective at this point. Adding up the Victory Points I scored a massive 18 to Jon's 4. My first win in this league! Over on the other table, the British failed to prevent the Chinese scouting their territory, another victory against European Imperialist Aggression.

This raises an issue we have experienced with TMWWBK. The rules are great an a lot of fun. I have played skirmish level games with up to 6 players and full size games with 24, 36 and even 40 points with no problem. But the scenarios in the book do not seem to be balanced. We have played scenarios 1, 2 and 3 four times each and scenario 4 twice, so far the defender has won every single game. We will see how the rest of the league games go.

 The opening move in our game, 2 Belgian sharpshooters down already!

 On the other TMWWBK table the British seem to have disappeared!

 A rather depleted askari unit is pinned.

 The Camel Corps look a bit lost!

Other games at the club:

A 28mm Chain of Command game.

A big Warhammer 40K game.

And, just for a change, a bicycle racing boardgame!

I had a go at the cycling game as well and it was a lot of fun.

Monday, 28 May 2018

1920s Pulp and WW2 Malaya at Vanquish Show 2018.

Tring Wargames Club attended the Vanquish show at Bourne End on Sunday with two games. Vanquish is a small event, held in the Bourne End Community Centre, with about 15 traders and half a dozen demonstration and participation games. It also offers basic, but good value refreshments (my breakfast bacon roll had 3 rashers of good quality bacon) and a bar serving some excellent Rebellion ales from the Marlow Brewery.

It was a fun day, both games went well, although the Mounties didn't always get their man in my pulp game.

I was particularly impressed with the mix of traders, there was an absolute minimum of duplication in the stock on offer (in recent years I have often wandered around some of the larger shows and felt that I've seen the same stand 4 or 5 times!). I was quite restrained compared some other club members, I picked up a couple of mdf inserts for Really Useful Boxes from Commission Figurines, a few nice resin scenery bits from The Square and a few paints.

Our two games were:

Winter War 1920. A pulp games set in a fiction border war between Canada and the USA using The Men Who Would Be Kings (I really like these versatile rules which I've used for Colonial games, the 1912 Balkans War and various pulp-style scenarios).

The Long and the Short and the Tall. A WW2 game set in Malaya based on the play and film from the 1960s. This used a set home brewed rules specifically designed for a kids participation game using old 54mm plastic figures by Airfix.

I also continued my tradition of running a game appropriate to the foreign visitors to the show. A couple of years ago I was running a 1912 Balkans War game at Warfare and had no sooner laid the game out when a Greek couple came rushing over, having seen the Greek flags from halfway across the hall. This time, almost the second I put the mounties on the table a Canadian couple wandered over!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Sassanid Persians and Romans with Sword and Spear

Finally blew the dust of my 10mm Late Romans and Sassanid armies for a game of Sword and Spear at the club last Friday. The rules worked very well and we had a fun game. Despite early success for the Sassanids it ended up quite a close fought game.

It started well for me with the Sassanids. In the first turn Mark advanced his light cavalry in front of my cavalry, then, after I activated them he said "Oh, have they got bows?". Javelins vs bows at long range never goes well, I rolled lucky dice and...dead light cavalry. It went on from there until the Romans finally got their heavy infantry into play. They proved a tough nut to crack. Eventually, with losses mounting on both sides, the Sassanid cavalry broke through at the end of the Roman line and went through onto the camp. That was enough to push the Romans over their break point.

 The Roman army viewed form the Sassanid side.

 And the Sassinds from the Roman perspective.

 The Sassanid cavalry flank.

 Roman heavy infantry massed in the centre.

 The Sassanid cataphracts run into the infantry reserve, after routing a unit of Roman cavalry.

 Sassanid cavalry start to outflank the Roman line.

 The Roman losses after turn 3.

The Sassanid losses at the same time.

Other games that night, a 15mm AWI game using Black Powder.

Two Warmaster 40K games.

A WW2 game using Chain of Command.

The Germans queue up to make use of the out house.

Another WW2 Chain of Command game, this time set in the Far East.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

10mm War of Spanish Succession - Saragossa 1710

At the May Tring Club Games Day, we staged a big 10mm battle based on the Battle off Saragossa, fought on 20th August 1710. The game was fought using Black Powder, with Last Hussar's Blenheim Palace amendments.

Historically the Allies had advanced out of Catalonia, defeating the Bourbons at the battle of Almenara. They then pursued the retreating Bourbons with the intent of finishing them off, catching up with then at Saragossa. The Allied army had 30 infantry units and 20 cavalry against the Bourbon's with 24 infantry and 30 cavalry. We had a great time playing this and the battle resulted in an overwhelming draw for the Bourbon army.

Both cavalry flanks got stuck in long before there was any infantry action. Interestingly on the right of the Bourbon army all the brigades on both sides ended up in a Broken state, but on the Bourbon left only one brigade (an Allied one) broke in the closing stages of the battle. I think this reflected the different tactics being used. On the left, both commanders maintained their lines. The front brigades clashed, then the commanders pulled them back to join any retiring units behind the safety of the second line where they could rally. In the meantime the second lines clashed and repeated the process. Both sides would pause their attack to reform their lines. On the right, the British commander threw his second line out to try and outflank the Bourbon cavalry, which forced the Bourbon commander to do the same to counter the move. So the two second lines contacted each other piecemeal and the cavalry melee degenerated into a messy scrap. As neither side had the security of a rear line to reform behind, units were thrown back in to battle with less opportunity to rally properly. It became a far more of a battle of attrition than the other wing.

In the centre the Catalan/Austrian infantry failed to advance, whilst the British/Dutch contingents raced across the battlefield. The Catalan dice was so bad that the British commander insisted on the infantry Reserve being committed to guard his flank! The Bourbons advanced far enough to anchor their flank on the woods and were otherwise content to await the allied attack. The British took pretty horrendous casualties, despite their platoon firing they were out-shot by the Bourbon infantry and the Dutch units that tried to support their attack were also badly shot up. The Spanish/Austrians finally got going but were really just an audience to the Reserve's attack in the Bourbon lines, which was thrown back and the brigade Broken.

At this point we took stock. On the Allied side 5 of their 9 brigades were Broken, against 4 of the Bourbon 10. However we realised we had forgotten the rule that artillery do not count towards calculating a Broken brigade, so one of my Bourbon infantry brigades was also Broken (but that also meant that the British brigade would have been gone at least two turns earlier!). So we called it a draw, to the advantage of the Bourbons.  Historically the Marquis de Bay would have been delighted with that result and considered it a victory!

Here are  some pictures of the battle.

 Initial deployments, from the Allied side....
.....and the Bourbon side.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Yorkists 2, Lancastrians 0

At the last Tring Club Games Day I organised a 4-player Wars of the Roses game, using Sword and Spear. Each player controlled a 400 point army, so Lancastrians, Mark and Ian R, faced of against the Yorkists, Ian H and myself. At one point we were considering making a club rule that everyone should be known as Ian, because we had 5 Ians on the membership list and it would make it easier for new members to remember names.

Ian R faced off against me on the Western side of the battlefield and Mark squared up to Ian H on the East. The Lancastrian forces were slightly balanced in favour of their heavy infantry, so would have the advantage in melee. I'd gone for a more shooty option with the Yorkists, which gave us more manoeuvrebility and an advantage if we could keep them at a distance.

I won the scouting phase and had the advantage of deploying my units last. Ian H and Mark when for a fairly traditional approach and squared off against each other. Ian R massed his heavy infantry on his left flank (towards the centre of the table) with a pike block on the end of the line, bridging the gap between his command and Marks. Given how slowly heavy infantry move and how difficult it would be to manoeuvre the pike block, I deployed with a refused flank of my billmen facing his heavies, hoping to out-shoot his longbowmen and get around the heavy infantry's flank before they could close with mine. Just for good measure I stuck my dismounted men-at-arms in the middle of my bowmen with the idea that they would make short work of any bowmen they got into contact with. Unfortunately t'other Ian didn't realise what I was doing and, probably worried by what seemed to be a gap in our lines, moved troops across to fill it - but more of that later.

 The Eastern side of the battlefield.
 And the Western side.
 A view from the Lancastrian side of the table.

In the opening move my idea of using longbows to take the enemy out at a distance was demonstrated, but not in the way I had intended. With first shot of the game (and some outstanding bad dice on my part) Ian wiped out one of my militia longbow units with a single volley!

The rest of the first turn passed unexceptionally. None got outstanding activation dice, so everyone edged a few units forward and did the odd bit of shooting. Ian advanced his crossbow and a militia longbow unit into the wood in the centre of our positions, so I threw my Irish kerns in after them but all they achieved was take a hit themselves. I moved my handgunners in to the wood to support them, unfortunately I forgot that the handgunners cannot move and fire, so they just stopped in front of the crossbowmen, frantically trying to relight their matches. Sadly Ian got to activate his men before me in the next turn and blew them away! Over on the Eastern flank the two sides carried on battering away at each other. In the meantime the pike block started it's slow advance across the table.

Irish in the wood, where did those Flemish handgunners go?
The pikemen crawl across the table (notice the border horse in the corner of the picture, they ain't on the same side!).
Things get nasty on the Eastern side of the battlefield.

By now Mark had got most of his heavy infantry into contact, but they were not having the desired effect. It was looking pretty even on the Eastern flank, both sides had lost a couple of units, but Mark had several militia units close to breaking due to the shooting casualties they had taken as they crossed the gap between the armies.

Back on my side of the game, my longbow superiority was starting to tell when I had an amazing stroke of luck. Ian was using his general to frantically rally units I'd shot up before they broke, when I routed the unit he was attached to. Ian rolled a 6, HE'S A DEAD UN!
Morale checks for the dead general, plus an army test for reaching 1/3 casualties were mostly successful, at least for the units that were already engaged.
It would be a huge headache to try and control his force with the reduced command radius his captain had. Most of his army would be out of command, he could either try to shore up his scattered bowmen, or else concentrate on his heavies, getting them into contact whilst he still could. He chose the latter, starting to move units across to face mine and edging his pike closer to the end of Ian H's line.
Lancastrians batter at the Yorkist line.
A view from the Lancastrian East flank.

By now my guys were on a roll and Ian R's troops dropping like flies, I just needed one more unit destroyed to reach is army break point. He charged his pike into a unit of Ian H's archers, who gave them a bloody nose, then Ian charged them in the flank with his border horse. Even light cavalry charging with lances has a punch and the dice gods were obviously favouring York this day, because in no time the pike had taken 5 hits and were just one away from breaking (and routing Ian's command). At this point Mark took the opportunity to open his mouth and boldly stick his foot in it. He turn towards his fellow commander and said, "I think you have lost this battle for me!". Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...!
A minute or so later, one of Mark's bill units routed, taking him over 1/3 losses and requiring a morale check for all his units. His dice rolling was average, about half his units passed and half failed. Unfortunately, all those that passed were at full strength and all those who failed were the ones that had already been shot up, so 3 or 4 further units routed in sympathy with the unfortunate billmen. In a single combat Mark had gone from just under 1/3 losses to over 50% and his command broke!
How we laughed.....

Checking the rules, it seemed that, in a multi player game, we should combine the two commands for calculating the army's break point, so as Ian R hadn't quite reached the 50% loss point, we could fight on. However in the next turn the pike routed and wiped out Ian's border horse, taking their combined losses well over 50%. An outstanding Yorkist victory!
Most of us were fairly new to Sword and Spear and we were all happy with how the game played out. We realised that we had got a couple of minor things wrong, but for the most part we had stuck to the rules. I think we will be playing these rules more often and I need to dig out my 10mm Late Romas and Sassanids to give them an outing.

Just to rub it in, the Lancastrian losses (the pike block hadn't been added to the pile yet at this point!).
And the Yorkist losses!

There were two other games going on at the Games Day.

 A Warhammer 40K battle.
And a large 4-player Congo game.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Western Gunfight 3

Mark and Colin joined me in a Wild West gunfight game at the last club night. Using my home brewed rules we got two games in and had a lot of laughs.

The first game was a straight forward "Who's the Boss Around Here?" game. Three gangs fighting to the last man standing. Mark got into character with his Mexican banditos, his boss left his men to do the fighting while he crept around the back of the town and his henchman dodged down the middle of the street from civilian to civilian, using the startled passers by as human shields! Despite this Colin won the first game.

The second game was a treasure hunt. We were all former members of the same gang who had been double crossed by our old gang leader. He had made off with the loot and hidden it about the town before getting himself killed falling over the whorehouse balcony whilst drunk. We needed to search the buildings and find the loot. If a character tried to enter a building through the back door there was a 50/50 chance it was locked. Entering a building by the front door was OK, but if you can in by the back there was a chance that an angry householder would take a pop at you, the chance increasing if you had broken in. One on my minions was the first into a building, when he broke into the back of the hotel. In so doing he woke up the barmaid, who rushed downstairs in her underwear and blew his head off with her trusty winchester! In the end three of the first four kills went to angry townsfolk! But I managed to grab the bulk of the loot and escape, chased by my former gang mates.

 The east side of town.
 And the west side.

 The banditos close in on my gang.
 Colin's gang adopt a cautious approach.
 When searching the saloon, one of the Mexicans takes a break. 
 My encounter with the barmaid!

Other games on that night:

 A Napoleonic naval battle.
 That British ship looks ganged up upon!
Opps, where did me masts go?

 A Dragon Rampant bash.
 A 40K game.
And a 4 player Congo game.