Saturday, 9 September 2017

Zorndorf 1758, with Field of Sgt Steiner's

Another great game of Field of Battle at Sgt Steiner's.

These rules are truly under-represented in the wargaming sphere. Every game is a large affair, a great narrative, and a logical conclusion in a reasonable time - with lots of figures and excitement, and multiple players. These are so much better than a lot of what's out there (I'm lookin' at you Slack Chowder). Buy them from Brent!

The rules are logical, reward historical thought and action, yet slap you in the face with battlefield chaos which you then have to manage - and it's the type of unpredictability you read in a battlefield account. Great game, with elegant dice mechanisms and wonderful card based turn sequence.

 Oh yes - the dice gods were VERY DEFINITELY with me today. Gawd bless Stephen..Gawd bless 'im. 

 The Russian lines - heavy in the centre and determined in defence, with deadly artillery.

 The Prussian force is small yet deadly in terms of musketry (C10,12) with advantages in movement (and ability to oblique, mimicking cadence step and Prussian drill etc).

Strengthened right flank...a taste of what was coming.

 The Prussian centre was weakened and started to take a battering, yet managed to hold the Russian centre in place.

A lot of action on the Prussian right, where a number of 'excellent' dice rolls were made (have I mentioned the dice gods?)

The reserve in the centre commits - also to the right. if this goes wrong...  :(

Plans for the Russians go awry on their left, as the flank is under threat.

Routed units being brought back into the fray.

 Fighting around the river and flank.

Vicious melee and musketry in the centre;

 ...the flank bends, bows and breaks - an army morale roll convinces the Russians that staying is not a good idea.

Great game, great hospitality as usual ...have I mentioned the dice gods?

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Ground Zero - Playtest

'Ground Zero' is a new set of Asymmetrical modern warfare rules from Jay's NWA blog  here.

I've been looking for a set of modern rules that hacks various small and 'cold' war periods for a while - everything from Vietnam - through Falklands - through WWIII - through modern insurgencies.

Now these rules use hexes, which suits me admirably, and a small table, though I can see ease of expansion here. The size is platoon(ish) vs platoon, though can be easily varied depending on quality of troops. The rules are directed toward modern small unit battle in mid-east - and the chaos that ensues.

In order to playtest mechanisms, we chose a Vietnam scenario.

  • Sequence of play is passed on card activation (with events to follow – we used Red Team release as an event here – with leader element acting as call-in) and then a number of dice (depending on quality) which dictates how many moves/fires/go to ground & overwatch can be catered for etc.
  • Firing and overwatch end the unit’s activation.
  • This sounds simple and intuitive and it is – but you don’t always see this level of intelligent rules fostering dramatic gameplay in modern systems. There are a lot of nuances here.  (see Grid Based Wargaming and some hex boardgames for influences).
  • High quality units, going on overwatch, with the edge in firepower, can make a big difference to the OPFOR’s day.
  • Although the system is (and will be) designed for small unit asymmetricals in modern conflict zones, there are so many hacks that would work well. I’ll explore some of these in coming posts.

For the units here, the Air Cav recon elements were ‘3 dice’ while the VC were ‘2 dice’. The US, ‘recon’ing the ville also had access to a Red Team on the ‘Ace’ event card (this really spoiled the day for the VC). The game was a bit one sided on the day, but gave us a nice eye-opener with regard to mechanisms and how they would work for future games.
We talked around ideas of using ‘pink’ teams and how OH6 Loach helicopters might work a la the ‘Low Level Hell’ book.

 The Aero Rifles platoon approach the villle.

VC units moving forward using available cover - trying to get an MG and mortar into position.

 View from the orbiting Cobra.

'Contact front!'

US troops move up the flanks to give support from M79s and '60s.

Cobra time (balanced precariously on a plastic champagne flute!)

The mortar opens up on troops remaining in the open.

 The command element has got LOS on the heavy weapon's position however...

 ...and the Cobra makes its attack run

 Some good positional warfare decisions, as we were getting to grips with the system. It's very intuitive.


  • Nice activation mechanisms – we did have some discussion as to whether the cards were actually needed – if we could find some method of adjudicating shift of initiative on the basis of how good/bad the activation rolls for the fire team were (a bit like Crossfire). 
  • Having said that, the card turn generates some drama - and the turn of jokers can end the turn when you thought you had plenty of initiative left.
  • Choppers are fairly devastating :) 
  • We thought about extending small arms ranges for bigger battlefields – and this would bring in more flexibility for larger conflicts.
  • One major thing we noticed, in comparison with other activation systems, is that when you get the activation you ‘choose’ where it goes. A lot of modern systems use the cards to dictate the unit 'for you' – here, you focus on where the fire is hottest, while other units sit and wait. That's what we read in accounts.
  • It’s easy to get pinned, thus making it harder to activate. The focus shifts to fresher units then. This seems very realistic.

A great game – and just the level we’re looking for

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Stones River - with Field of Battle

A great game with Sgt Steiner today - as we make the most of our respective periods of time off work.

Another experiment with Field of Battle - using brigades as base units, with normal (unchanged) musket range of 2"/4"/6" to reflect rifled muskets and larger units etc.

As with the previous AWI game, the rules were the same - though there was a definite different feel. So, what changed?
  • We'd talked about the same rules potentially creating the 'same' game in a previous post - though the size of the battle came through here, and there were sweeping flank maneuvers, with a battlefield centre where the Rebs hunkered down behind prepared positions and couldn't be moved. It felt like the ACW, just as the AWI battle felt more open.
  • Each side tried to turn the other's flank, with varying degrees of success. Brigade after brigade tried to get the edge with musketry and close range attacks - there was a greater sense of having to exploit every little chance when compared with the AWI game - which seemed to have more room to maneuvre - in turn also adding to the sense of a 'big' ACW smash here.
  • The outnumbered Confederate deck was 'skilled' while the Union deck was 'poor' - adding to the theme: the Confederates had some potential leadership potential, while the Union could be hampered with more lulls and switch-overs in initiative, despite numbers. In the end, the Union played a blinder.
  • The loss of the Union Army Commander - Rosecrans, threatened to stall the battle for them, though, they managed to stem the flow and take the battle to the Rebs' right flank, while holding their own. 

In the end - the Confederates' attempt to turn to Union Right came to a standstill, while the Union, trying the same on the Confederate right, had considerable success in routing units and forcing their way across the fords and bridges and into the prepared positions...until the Rebs simply ran out of morale and withdrew.

Another great game with these big battle rules; very different in feel to the AWI game - yet comfortably easy to play and remember.
There can be a sense of 'clog' with multiple units in tight confines with some rules. As there are few modifiers and most 'mods' are intuitive/memorable here in terms of dice size changes, it makes things easier, and the players aren't put off from 'wanting to make things happen' without grinding against the rules.

 The Confederate left - which would move back and forth all day.

 The centre - well entrenched.

Union troops ready to move on the flank.

Rebs attack the Union right - some early gains, but pushbacks are enough to make gaining a foothold and turning a flank too difficult.

Union troops make gains on the left however, allowing the reinforcements safe passage.
At a pivotal point in the battle, Rosecrans is shot by a sniper - and precious minutes are wasted as initiative swings to the Confederates.

The left becomes a quagmire - volleys and charges, with no clear gains. Union cavalry (40 year old Airfix plastics no less) moves to reinforce.

The Reb right is under more pressure as the ford is taken - allowing Union reinforcements to stream toward the elevated works.

 As Confederate morale ebbs and dwindles away - until a morale roll ends the battle...

 Their left flank - unable to break the Union stranglehold.

 ...while both sides have taken reinforcements from the centre, which remains eerily quiet.

A great game again with FoB; and many new eras discussed. As well as the Aughrim game in preparation, there is a Prokhorovka scenario online for the WWII version. Hmm tempting.