Sunday, 24 September 2023

'I'm not quite dead sir...'

 Despite evidence to the contrary... NO! the blog is not yet dead. Granted I have been busy with research and being a DM for my nieces/nephews/friends' 5e D&D games; a long story which would require an even longer blog, but, here we are.

So a recent game with the Bunker crowd with Test of Battle, was covered by your roving reporter. 

This involved the actions around Buron, on the advance toward Carpiquet airfield, with Canucks. Test of Battle again - nice turn sequence, but lots of debate around stats and design decisions which I can't really be arsed listening to any more - so I'd say my future game decisions on my end, will be based around 'Field of Battle' style rules rather than rigid turn sequences and numbers which meant a lot in the 80s, but precious little now in terms of getting an enjoyable and partial simulation/partial game.

Canadian armour in defensive positions. the scenario had a little 'licence' in terms of what actually happened vs the setup at game start. Hence it was a bit of a cake-walk for the Canadians.

German advances on Canadian left

The right flank made the Germans pay dearly

Canadian armor at centre

PzIVs - just before brewing up

A nice German 75 ATG, which saw no action

Canucks in hard cover

Germans pay a heavy price for advance on Canuck right flank

Good to actually roll some dice again, even if I wasn't playing much. I will be trying to get some more FoB games over the line in the coming months, plus some research pics of lost forts in Ireland ;)

And now, from the finest movie ever made:

Saturday, 3 June 2023

Zorndorf with 'Battle Command'

  As usual, le Duc is busier than the proverbial dog with the proverbial double appendage...

 However, one did manage to squeeze a game in with Sgt Steinahhhhh .

'Get on with it!!!'

As some may know (we keep talking about them), our favourite set is Brent Oman's Field of BattleBattle Command takes the same basic mechanics, but changes how the cards work, with a view to extending the influence of the multi sided dice of the commander, such that he has more influence and thereby choice, in terms of what cards to play and - depending on even or odd roll - whether to apply the card play to a single brigade, or the entire army.

Now, I thought about trying to explain all of this, but instead, I have opted to outline why the rules and mechanics are much better than everything else (a bold statement, but it's a bold post). Well, perhaps it's not that they are much better - it's simply that they address the problems of wargaming with an elegant and highly efficient design, which pokes a finger straight into the eye of traditional wargaming rules.

There is no turn sequence

Why would that ever be an advantage? Surely we need a turn sequence? The sequence comes from the cards which dictate moves, firing, morale, leadership & rally - with opposed rolling - the deck is random, but built based upon commanders in FoB, and dictated heavily by command rolls in BC. I can't predict what my options, and in a sense, 'luck' will let me do when i get to activate. I have to work with what I have (what - like a real battle?), and the deck and my command roll does the rest. Now in BC, I get a little more choice than in FoB, but it still works roughly in the same way. I can't look at the turn sequence and know that I will get to do 'X' before my morale check. I can't know that my firing will have 'X' effect on that flank statistically speaking, before the opponent's turn. What? No predictability? Don't we get that sort of predictability in real battles dammit? I rest my case.

There are no modifiers

What? But modifiers help to simulate what happens in real battles?  Two aspects here. Multi sided dice - so if i get an 'up two' i may go from d6 to d10 and vice versa - this is genius in terms of probabilities. Conditions will affect dice ups/downs;  more genius is the fact that even rolls have more benefits than uneven rolls, including routs, rallies, movement 'bonuses' etc.

The Army Morale counts down to exhaustion

The only other rules I have seen which replicate exhaustion really well are V&B, with division exhaustion. In FoB it's at the army level, and you give morale chips, to their advantage, to your opponent once you are worn down, and subject to a poor army morale roll - you will quit the field - so you always finish a game in 2-4 hours.  Nope - there are no brigade morale checks and effects; to be fair this has never been a problem for me, though I know it has created issues for some.

To the game. This was played with Steiner's 15mm 7YW Russian and Prussian collection.

Prussian cavalry on the right flank, which would see its sneaky beaky move through the woods stymied by the Russians

Prussian assault in the centre

Prussian Grenadiers, hopeful of early gains, are pushed back

'I do not think zat zis is going to voork...'

Although the Prussians are forced back on the left, and take a lot of casualties, they do not rout

The Prussians start to make real gains on the right despite the cavalry debacle, with infantry hoping to turn a Russian flank. Thankfully, Russian musketry is ...erm...somewhat less than stellar

Steiner points at the problem...

...and then...just in the nick of time...Prussian Cuirassiers are unleashed, and flood across the river ready to support the right flank...huh? but instead make a speedy move toward the weakening Russian centre

The Prussian right

Impulsive Prussian horse gallop forward with intentions of raiding the Russian camp. 
I'd love to say that the cavalry action on the right was simply a plan whereby the Russian horse would find itself compromised by having to check the movements of enemy horse...but was a simple cock-up

By game end, the Russians had survived one army morale roll, and another one pending (based on less cards and probability). It's a different mechanic and way of playing the mainstay of these excellent rules, but still very entertaining. It's hard to play other Horse & Musket rules while FoB/BC are in place, simply due to the fact that they are unconventional, lend themselves to simulating command decisions and simply work...

Monday, 10 April 2023

Command Decision / Test of Battle 1944

 The Easter game at the bunker became a Western Front ww2 action with Test of Battle (the artist formerly known as 'Command Decision').

The town at table centre - which probably should have seen the main attack vector centred upon it, buuut we're far too smart for that right? We probe the flanks instead...hmmm
The US drive on their right flank

These rules are very well known, and very well respected, and some of the guys are very familiar with them. There are complexities and as Steve says : 'lots of moving parts'. All good, and probably quite representative of ww2 (albeit for tank MGs :O ), but we did find a few things a little clunky.

'Not' an inflatable Sherman

Having said that, a great game, and one which would benefit from us repeating with different battles via multiple games. The scenario was fairly generic, with multiple US Armor / Armored Inf battalions assaulting German held positions on the 'Westwall'; anti-tank ditches, the odd spot of German armour, and attempted US flanking moves would be the order of the day.

The US right, where an attack would build, despite many of the German positions actually being held by 'Phantom' units

The centre - axis of potential advance would be along the road spine...although the US opted not to use this axis

German defenders in the town

German defenders at the rail-head

American advances in the centre with attached armour elements

...aaand on the right flank, where the bulk of the armour would congregate...since German ATGs were in the centre...right? wrong.

The supposed German PAK front was actually held by 'phantom' units

Major drive on the US right was halted

On the left, and infantry assault on the hill is tymied, in the centre - the US are held off by fear of what are essentially 'phantom' units - later recognised by Recon jeeps, and on the right - the advance is slowed then halted by German fire

A few wee markers

Some IVs made an appearance and did some damage

All in all, a great game, though with lots of 'moving parts'. There is also talk of Modern Spearhead making a re-appearance soon...