Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Game 47 - Again with the Hexes, Fame at Last, and 1689 and all that...

So time is in short supply until Christmas (it's a real day job/course/lecturing kinda thing...and it's pretty hectic).

With that in mind, we opted to go adventuring with the hexes again as it keeps set up minimal and arguments few.

I've looked at Command and Colours options back in the day, and my eldest daughter was a big fan of Battlelore when she was eight. She's eighteen now, and of course too cool for such trivialities (her Dad is not)...and yes folks, it's been 10 years since Battlelore! Where the heck did that decade go?

Anyway...to the point! The Prometheus in Aspic blog has a fantastic version of C&C Napoleonics, complete with cards, BUT designed for the English Civil War. A few tweaks, and it became 1689 with hexes...(Check out the blog. It's excellent.)

Now as MSFoy also mentions, there are some relevant links for other people doing the same thing, and while perusing the latest issue of Miniature Wargames (Henry's final issue sadly ), I noted that the famous Arthur Harman has also got a nice set of rules called Memoir 1643 (see what he did there?) in the magazine. So we'll be returning to this style of game.

And now the fame; I noted with interest that this very blog gets a mention in Henry's 'Blogs of the Month' in his last MW issue (402). Thank you kindly sir (and I promise to fix the title text)...no really. (last minute edit - New title block by youngest daughter - clearly she is better at this stuff than the old man.)

The battle was a minor affair - some Dutch and some French, a few Irish and English brigades mixed in, victory to the first side to eliminate five enemy units, five command cards each....and FIGHT!

A couple of small forces, ready to roll the dice...I mean draw the cards.

Early French mercenary (Irish) attempts to break the centre...end badly.

Cavalry battle, which would last all day, developing on the Dutch left.

The first French assault.

'Give it to 'em lads!' English brigade first fire.

"Pour la Gloire mes amis! Pour La Gloire!"

A lot of focus on the French left. Swiss Guards and French elites in action.

...while they ignore the elite Dutch guards making inroads on their right ...

 ..as the cavalry is kept busy in their own fight.

 But by this time Allied fire has worn down the French, and they only need one more stand to win. A few vollies and it's over.

Great game, great timing. Really intuitive set of rules - with no time lost with movement/measuring. Hexes trump tape measures.

The 'Chaunce' cards add really nice random elements too. Inspired system, with an inspired adaptation for 17th century.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Game 46 - AWI with Maurice

So, we appear to be getting better at Maurice. We've even started pronouncing it Morees (as per its proper French vernacular) rather than our preferred Morris, so clearly the system is leaving its mark!

The games are becoming very close run things, and we are remembering more in relation to the nuances of the turn sequence, optimisation of card play benefits, movement - and thus use of commanders, and offensive/defensive tactics.

And, here's the thing. The more you play if it, the more you realise what a fine design it really is.

Highlights this time:
  • Rallying can really amount to saving the the line when it is about to collapse - but it's using precious resource, and by adopting a rally stance, you can do precious little else.
  • Keep your forces together, but then you can't always...and it's using time and resources.
  • Focus your attack and defence, but then you can't always...as that is using up resource...

There's a theme there of course. The key here is initiative. The design and card mechanic (your resources) really make you think about where you need to focus in order to drive down enemy morale and/or protect/reach the objective. We've said that before, but then in other games it's either arbitrary or more random. (Black Powder, I'm looking at you). You have 'choice' in Maurice, and yet each choice is a clear dilemma, and you can't do it all.

Here's the gem of this system. You start to think like a Horse & Musket commander. I want to drive the enemy from the field, not waste my time on the left when I know the weakness is in the centre, yet I simply can't exploit every opportunity that is there, and of course my opponent is trying to do the same.

Wonderful game, and very intuitive. It's mastering the nuances that takes a little time.

Another AWI clash, with a strong British thrust in the centre.

Two militia regiments are the last line of defence for the objective.

The American right, where a strong brigade faces some light infantry and British regulars. We had a bit of a hodge-podge battlefield here, a la Freeman's Farm, where units were in place, moving and just arriving as the battle started. Nice challenge.

 British push in the centre.

A thin 'blue' line, though despite British advantages with advantages related to musketry and bayonet, the fences and walls, giving cover to the Americans, would make a real difference.

The American left held valiantly against the Hessians.

 ...as the Grendiers pushed forward in the centre...with a tow ro ro ro ro ro ro....

Mid battle, and this was where rallying really saved the day for the Yanks, but luck was on their side.

Action shot from our correspondent - clearly not up to using the camera's focus yet.

The flanks hold under increasing British pressure - though concerted attacks are wearing them down.

It's an open field, with only the milita left to protect the objective in the centre and left. All other units have fled.

It was pressure on the right that would wear down British morale...

 ...meaning that when the movement began in earnest on the left, the momentum of the attack would melt away, helped by the militia's excellent initial volley.

Very close game, and as stated, we appear to be remembering more and more, and thus applying more subtle methods with each game. Like Field of Battle, there are nuances which can only be discovered through play.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Game 45 - 5Core Brigade Commander

5 Core Brigade Commander is from Ivan Sorenson, and we have tried the 5Core stable before with skirmish rules. Ivan has a ton of good rulesets out there (try Wargames Vault).

Again the 'Scurry' and 'Firefight' rules mean that sometimes we can see full on fighting and lots of movement, interspersed with selective activation, punctuated by reactive fire...there, that was easy.

The nice thing about these rules is the ability to do larger scale cold war efforts - so there's an immediate advantage. There's a little bit of abstraction - but there needs to be, especially when we compare with the longer games of this ilk, such as Spearhead. We had a result in about 2 hours here, so the system really lends itself to campaign play.

Things we remember...

  • Attachments such as recon and AA work particularly well, and can be attached to companies - we used two 1/300 Spearhead sized stands to represent a company, but the game would look great in 2mm or 3mm (some examples on the net).
  • We forgot to use the displacement rule - though it means that a spotted unit might not be at the point you think it is - and the unit physically moves, and brings in some very subtle fog of war, where a displaced unit that contacts the enemy is 'ambushed'.
  • Reaction fire works well, though there was discussion over the attacker's advantage in assault.
  • Unit types that reflect WWII to modern can be discussed - the difference 'relatively' between units is what's important - so M1 rolls 2Kill1Shock vs T72's 1Kill1Shock dice.
  • Assets work like 'traits' in other games. Normally I hate these, but work nicely here. US gets additional activation, conversion of scurry/firefight to standard turns etc, while Soviets get 'Wave Attack'. The assets make sense.
  • There's a lot more we didn't explore, but these work well in conjunction with the smaller size sets for campaigns (done expertly by Jack on the BlackHawkNet blog).
  • We also used hexes as an experiment - 4/5 range, and 3-4 hexes for movement. It worked really well - and we used hex facings for direction.

So, to the action...

The US has some good support assets

 They're going to need them...

There's some cover, but perhaps not enough to stop the long range fire of the M1s (we gave them a bonus)

US could get cover bonus, and used some good positions, commanding the approaches.

ATGMs become an annoyance, but do prevent advances if used properly, effectively dulling the Soviet spearhead in the centre.

...with the help of an Apache.

Soviet push in the centre. We dropped artillery for this game, but US guns/MLRS would have made a mess here.

Aerial recon - I see a problem in the US centre...

'Warthogs bar the door'...(the 'no prize' for guessing where I took that from Steve)

 Oh..maybe not. Some SAMs make it a bad day for the US air.

On the US right flank, overwhelming numbers detached from centre and the Soviet flank thrust make a mess.

Infantry supporting the armour also made an assault on the town, and the US just ran out of numbers.

...and Red Air made an appearance.

...then just to add insult to injury, the US right collapsed. It wasn't going to end well at all.

There are some really nice systems at work, and to be honest, I liked the degree of abstraction. These work really well for campaign games. I remember in the 1980s using WRG for extended campaigns in church halls with 20 people over entire weekends - and to be honest, 2 or 3 two hour games with these rules would give the same results for 2 players. Definite food for thought here - and Ivan's smaller scale rules can be used for skirmishes in the wider campaign - which he also touches upon in the rules.