Saturday, 9 January 2021

The Seelow Heights - More Rapid Fire Reloaded

Time for some more RFR - and with a great scenario book from Steve Shan over at the Nations in Arms blog. 

'The Seelow Heights, a Wargamer's Guide' is an excellent, full colour scenario book for Rapid Fire. I would say this is better even than the official Rapid Fire stuff, as there are rule amendments for the theatre (hit-and-run variant for German armour units is particularly effective, and changes to Panzerfaust availability etc. etc.), better historical content and improved layout.  


  • The author's familiarity with both the end-of-war in the east and the nuances of the rules really shine through.  
  • Maps and OOBs are superb. Very well written and organised, with superb pictures.


  • Thoroughly recommended. As an item produced outside the 'official' RF stable, it's incredible work.

  The battle itself was the April 16th 1945 scenario - 'Across the Haupt Graben' - a very tough ask for Soviet forces, despite their numerical superiority.

 Also seeing more and more to like in RFR - especially when I see some of Steve's hacks in action.

German defensive lines - sparse, but terrain is in their favour.

From an armoured standpoint, despite Soviet numbers, they have some advantages.

...though that does not lessen the impact of Soviet 'Animal Killers'.

...though outnumbered, there is a tough German defence in depth in there.

Heavier Soviet armour (with restricted ammo in IS2s) on their right.

...with '85s on the right - with numbers.

Smoke in the centre as a breakthrough is attempted. The road is pivotal here due to marshy nature/flooding of surrounding terrain. 

...though the Germans will trade ground for time in the same old way...

Panthers plus an additional Tiger also sit to provide defence in depth.

Early action on the Soviet right...

...while centre and left become crucibles of close in fights with Panzerfausts and infantry actions.

...and the odd Tiger I.

Panthers move across the bridge to reinforce the German left, which is about to fall.

Perhaps inevitably, weight of Russian armour caves in the first line of defence in the centre.

...thereby creating the need for some diversification of effort...

,,,though it doesn't all go the German's way.

The battle was not entirely finished, though with Soviet victory conditions dictating they either capture the eastern part of the table, or get 4 AFVs across the river, it was easy to see how a stalwart defence in depth had worked.
Great rules, and great scenario book. Recommended.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Hyboria Now! Episode 1: Operation Vilerus; Princess Zenobia's Rescue

 ‘Tonight on the Aquilonian News Network… 

(Classic 80s hairstyles are popular in Aquilonia...)

We’re getting reports that Princess Zenobia - the youngest daughter of King Vilerus VI, and who was long thought missing – presumed dead in the Kush province, has tonight been rescued by Aquilonian forces. 

Over to Sindy Aesir in Shem’

'Thanks Belit – yes, we’re getting reports that Aquilonian SWORD Team 6, supported by Nemedian and Shemite Special Forces, have not only located the long lost Aquilonian Royal Family member, but have in fact rescued her from the proscribed Stygian organisation known as the ‘Children of Doom’. This supports rumours that she had in fact been kidnapped, rather than having eloped with Prince Harlos of Shem.

We understand at this time, that all members of the rescue team are alive, though there are reports of some wounded. It’s thought that at least 30 of the so called ‘Children of Doom’ were killed in the rescue, which we understand also involved Shemite helicopters and gunships. Stygian and Zingaran government sources have refused to comment at this time; of course we know that they have supported the ‘Children of Doom’ in the past, and don’t normally react well to covert operations on land south of the River Styx.

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more, but we’re hoping to hear from Colonel Amalric Verentius of the Aquilonian Protectorate at 10pm this evening. Obviously this helps again forge the ongoing special relationship between Aquilonia and Nemedia, with some calling for an official alliance similar to that we know of from ancient history, when we saw Conan the First wed his then Nemedian Queen Zenobia.

 SWORD Team 6 - that's the Protectorate's 'Special Weapons Orientation Recon & Development' group's anti-Terrorist unit have come in for significant criticism in recent years, though their success tonight, appears to be the start of great things...

Back to you Belit...' 

And so it begins...the modern version of Conan's world. Who the heck knows where it will all lead - I certainly don't?

I thought about various rules, then decided upon Jaye Wiley's 'Fistful of Lead: Bigger Battles'.

Some absolutely great mechanisms at work here for this size and type of game. It can also handle vehicles and choppers.

 Highlights include:

  • Each unit gets a card from a normal 52pc deck. There is a sequence for activation from this, with some specials based on the card draw (ace of spades is wild etc), but again, it's playing to your strengths with the luck you're dealt.
  • There are talents/traits - so that outnumbered specialists can get the drop on militia etc. These range from movement and tactical bonuses through to standard hit bonuses.
  • Units will take wounds or shock. Rally effects can get units back together. It all works quite seamlessly.
  • In this game the sniper unit for instance got some early good cards in terms of going first, then ended up going last in later rounds - but that in turn forced the militia to 'keep their heads down' throughout the turn. There's some nice chaos at work.
  • Pretty much works for all periods and figures. There might be some hacking for Vietnam etc., but there are many good supplements for the earlier man to man game which would work well I think.

Very good rules.

Looking at the 'COD' compound from the south. There is a ruin to the west, and a village to the east - which will form entry points for the Aquilonians/Nemedians. Alpha / Bravo / Reaper are SWORD Team 6 - while Delta is Nemedian Special Action Group, who will cover the LZ.

Bravo, with a SAW, move in on the village.

Delta secure the LZ near the ruin, with Reaper - a Sniper team on the 1st floor. 'This here is a bit crap as a landing zone Dave...whaddya fink?'

Reaper scans for targets.

Bravo secure the perimeter of the right flank...

...while Alpha make their move. The Princess is either (randomly determined) in the old Stygian outpost...or the Hotel.

...but the 'Children of Doom' are moving. are the Nemedian SAG, who decide that they can not support from their position.

'uhhh...why are the Nemedians movin' out?'

Alerted, the enemy start to leave the hotel.

'Alpha, this is Reaper...TARGETS ...moving to your AO...'

'Permission to engage Reaper'

Sniper starts to engage targets in cover...

As the Nemedians find a better LZ across the road...

'BREACH! Let's hope she's in there...'

By now the camp is wakening up...

uh huh...

Nemedian SAG finds a ruin in front of their new LZ - this would prove pivotal.

The firefight inside the fort does not last long...

...though Zenobia does not look very well...

'...ere...she doesn't look very well Dave...'

A Shemite Littlebird, armed with rockets, gets go-ahead to support ...'Roger That ...we have the package'. the NightHawk comes in 'Roger Secondary LZ'

Using the ruin as cover, Alpha and Bravo begin to bug out...

SAG's decision is sound, as it allows most of the units to get out via the NightHawk...

...though the Shemite Littlebird has to pick up the Sniper Team ...just in the nick of time...

Colonel Verentius...though it's a triumph and you have rescued Princess Zenobia, there are rumours that she is ill? Is this some sort of new virus, we haven't accounted for?

'I don't know where you heard that Ma'am...but I assure you, it's just a cold...'