Sunday, 28 January 2018

Africa with The Men Who Would Be Kings

I played my second round TMWWBK league game at the club on Friday, using the Herero Tribesmen against Alan's "Explorers" (or"Slavers", depending on your perspective).

We were playing Scenario B, in which I, as the attacker, had to destroy Alan's village (there were 5 huts on the table). The game lasted 12 turns and I got 3 victory points for each hut I destroyed, Alan got 2 points for each hut left standing and 2 points for each of my units he destroyed or routed. This was quite a problem for me as in order to destroy a hut I needed to inflict 10 hits in close combat, unfortunately all my units were irregular infantry who only hit on a 6! Also on reflection, as we were using the skirmish level rules (half size units) I should have reduced the strength of the huts accordingly for this scenario.

Alan placed his mercenary askari in the central hut and a unit of tribesmen in jungle on their flank. His explorers and a second unit of tribesmen would come on as reinforcements. To begin with it want well for me, my troops rapidly advanced and started to attack 2 unoccupied huts, detaching a unit of riflemen to block the tribesmen. I kept my troops in cover, so that the askari's shooting was mostly ineffective. Both Alan's tribesmen units rushed forward but his explorers were very tardy (good for me because they were sharpshooters!)

The Herero force advance

Led by the mounted infantry

Askari lurk in the hut

On the flank his tribesmen were taking casualties from my riflemen, so they charged them. Fortunately my unit had got behind a thorn fence (counted as an obstacle) which gave then cover. Even so, fierce tribesmen hitting on a 4+ against irregular infantry hitting on a 6 should have been a one-way fight. But I rolled 3 sixes! I lost two me but the tribesmen fell back so I could blast them the next turn at close range. After another cycle with the same results (!) I gunned down the last surviving tribesman.
The depleted tribesmen advance on the flank (the red counter means they are pinned)

In the centre the askari kept firing (and missing) whilst the other tribal unit moved up in support. The explores had started moving, but still could not get a shot at anyone. In the meantine I kept bashing away at the huts, inflicting a total on 9 hits on both, 1 more hit each and they were destroyed.

Tribal unit advances through the village.

The tribesmen charged into one of my rifle units, this unit was not fierce, which was just as well as they killed 5 out of 6 men in a single round of combat. As the survivor fell back all I could do was ignore the huts and have every unit pour fire into the tribesmen at close range.That was the end of another unit!

The explorers finally start shooting.

By this time Alan's explorers had got into close range of one of my units and decimated it. As a unit got down to 1 or 2 men I tried to keep it out or range or behind cover, trying not to give victory points away. But in the final turns of the game, just as I destroyed the 2 huts, the explorers managed to wipe out one of my units. So it was a 8:6 win to the defenders.

As unusal with TMWWBK we had time for a couple more games before home time, 1 won the second game and Alan won the third.

There were  3 other games on that evening (sorry no pictures this time), a Chain of Command game set in NW Europe, a Rapid Fire game (also in NW Europe) and a Future War Commander game pitting 6mm Eldar against daleks!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Back to the Balkans with The Men Who Would Be Kings

Martin and I had an evening of The Men Who Would Be Kings games at the last club meeting. I really like the Osprey rules sets, I'm sure there are duff ones out there, but all the ones I have played give a enjoyable and fun game. I'd offered Martin to set the games in 19th century Africa or the Balkans in 1912 and he went for the Balkans. We used the skirmish scale (half size units)  which makes for a quick game. We played three scenarios and could have fitted a fourth in, but instead spent the time looking at the other games on that night and annoying chatting to the players.

Marin took the Turks and I had the Greeks. The first scenario was a simple, three objectives along the centre line of the table. To take an objective a unit had to be the only one in contact and spent a turn at Stand To. The game ended when the third objective was taken, in the interim the opponent could swipe an objective back. It was a quick game, due to my slowness and the speed of Marin's Turks. (I kept rolling 1s and 2s for the extra move when I moved At The Double, he rolled 5s and 6s). The ned result was a 2:1 win to the Turks.

The second scenario was A Sigh of Relief. The objective ended up in the middle of a wood and I put my elite Evzone unit out to guard it. Despite losing their leader to the first shot of the game, they held off all comers for some time, routing one unit and sending another reeling back with a bloody nose. Eventually, once they were down to half strength, they failed and rally test and retreated off the objective, but by this time the rest of my force was in the fight. We called it a halt when the Turks were down to one pinned unit and the Greeks still had all four units in play (a lucky roll had rallied the Evzones at the last minute).

Game three was Run For The Hills! with the Turks trying to escape. Martin started well, keeping his units on the move, then only engaging the Greeks with two units whilst the rest made a break for it. It almost worked, I destroyed the rearguard and he got a unit and a half off the table. With his last unit almost on the table edge his luck failed and ther refused to move for two turns. this allowed me to catch them in a crossfire and wipe them out. A 6:4 win for the Greeks!

                                                  Greek Evzones hold the objective

                             Turkish Militia advance, backed up (at a distance) by irregular infantry

                                       Turkish Regulars shelter from the Evzone firestorm

                                                      Greek Irregulars take cover

                                            Greek Regular infantry on the attack

Only two other games this time, a 4-player Warhammer 40K game.

And a 28mm Wars of the Roses bash, using the Crusade rules

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

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).

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.