Saturday, 28 December 2013

Did someone say 2014?

There was a theme running through my Christmas gifts this year (aside from the obligatory jumper, socks and red wine (yum)). Clearly, I must have mentioned the fact that (1) 2014 was the centenary of the opening shots of the Great War and (2) that I would be looking at it as a wargaming/research period with 'Great War Spearhead'. What a bloomin' great haul of stuff I got!

(I'm led to believe that those 20mm plastic Turks by HAT are particularly rare these days. The Missus searched far and wide for 'em. Simpson's 'Evolution of Victory' and Haythornthwaite's famous 'WWI Sourcebook' are even more rare.)

Happy New Year to all.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Wargaming Butterflies of the World…UNITE!

It’s at this time of the year, with thoughts of gaming freedom based on time off work, that the wargamer’s mind inevitably dwells on all of the games that he is going to play during the all too brief Christmas period (neglecting to consider all of the time which will actually be spent with family, bike riding, DIY and washing the car.)

With such considerations in mind, I have formed the ‘Wargaming Butterfly’s Christmas Wish List’ – consisting of all those games which I wish I could get around to during the Christmas period or (and more likely) that will form the mainstay of the blog in 2014.

(1)  Modern Spearhead
Being a ‘wargamer of a certain age means’ that I played WRG rules back in the day. One of the sets forced upon me, or that I enjoyed I should say…was the 1950-1985 modern set. Now, combining this with when I grew up, I had an absolute love for the period (and complete paranoia for the reality) of the cold war. Hordes of 1/300 scale Russian T-72s crossing the German plain (in turn being blunted by the odd M1 Abrams) was a wargaming scene that I grew up with.

As with many of the rules that I bought in the late 80s and 90s and never ended up playing due to career and family (that’s my excuse), Spearhead always looked fantastic to me with its mapped orders systems and I always dreamed of using it for 1967-73 bashes in the desert too. So, we’ll be trying it for Arab Israeli and Cold War options.

(2)  More Maurice
As previous blog posts will most certainly attest to, Maurice gives an excellent game.  The cards add atmosphere and theme, the rules are nicely balanced, and a game the size of the Boyne is manageable in an afternoon. There are other Irish campaign games in mind (fictional Inch Island and actual Aughrim), and the thought of a long campaign game is very exciting.

(3)  Bolt Action
Haven’t bitten the 2FL Chain of Command bullet yet, but did get Bolt Action. Want to try this as a ‘fast set up’ option to the larger scope Rapid Fire that we’ve been doing.

 (4)  Force on Force
Still very interested in mastering these rules as there is enormous scope in terms of modern conflicts (and I have many, many scenarios).

(5)  Black Powder / Pike & Shotte
Have heard nothing but good things about these rules and want to try them out with the late C17th figures. Possibly another Boyne game.

(6)   PMC 2640
An excellent sci fi merc game from Poland. (And when I say sci-fi, I of course do not recognise the b.s. put out by a certain evil empire since the 80s…there I said it, sort of…). A nice game based on future corporate mercs (Hammers Slammers style) and I get to use my 10mm stuff.

(7)  More Snappy Nappy / Volley & Bayonet Hybrid
Still adore V&B despite its little foibles. Possibilities abound with using it with some Snappy Nappy changes for the AWI.

(8)  More Snappy Nappy
All Steve’s fault of course (and glad to see him back into gaming and on the bike at he same time Absolutely adore the mechanisms here, though does give the strict organisation buffs a bit of a slap. It does however make you the 'big cheese', so you’re only worried about corps and divisions.

(9)  WWI Spearhead
I watch a lot of history shows of course. This year I watched the entire 1964 BBC WWI documentary. I was fascinated. I had always had a passing interest, but this one floored me. So then I bought WWI Spearhead and am getting some minis for Christmas since I don’t have enough periods to paint figures for!!!…sigh…

(10)  Naval
‘Naval’ gazing time (pun intended). Red Banner style modern games using GDW’s Harpoon Captain’s Edition as the kickoff for a campaign, and/or Mongoose’s Victory at Sea WWII rules. So much scope here and a period that I have not explored enough.

(11)   Naval Meets Sci-Fi
Always been a fan of Full Thrust, and have a couple of unpainted fleets. It was a nice set of rules back in the day and warrants another look.

 (12) …and wait for it, SPI style board wargames

This is kind of where I started in 1980. I also have more of the more modern GMT and GDW games. Watch this space.

(13)   Diaspora

Diaspora starts life as an RPG based on the FATE engine (I’m probably not going to explain that for the uninitiated so please move on if you just said ‘what is he talking about?’). It’s very Traveller-esque and within the system is a mini-game based on platoon level sci fi combat, which is reminiscent of ‘Book 4 Mercenary’ and ‘Striker’ from the 80s Traveller books. It uses ‘aspects’ to describe what troops can do, together with fate dice, and looks simply awesome.

(14)   Sword & Sorcery Style…stuff
I’ve tried Songs of Blades and Heroes once in the past and love its mechanics and activation methods. Must try this again with my collection of old 28mm (with no spikey bits) miniatures. (And of course, when I say Swords & Sorcery, I don’t recognise the b.s. put out by a certain evil…see point 6…you know what I mean.)


As you can see I have far too much cr*p - both painted and unpainted, and not enough hours in the day. I did say 2014 plans right? Perhaps we should call this the ‘2020 Blog’ plan. First priority? Try to get back to a monthly game schedule for a start. I’m sure I’ll get some prep time over Christmas, right?

Keep calm and panic after the holiday!

Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Game 13 - Battle of the Boyne 1690

It has taken a little time to get things together here, though the game proved to be worth it. I had been increasingly worried that Maurice would be unable to handle the number of units, the comparative size of the game, or that it would become bogged down with minutiae. In the end, the rules flowed smoothly. In fact, some of the 'mad' (and increasingly lucky in terms of dice rolls ;)) Jacobite cavalry charges, devastated much of the allied lines, although these opportunistic actions were made all the easier through the allies sticking their neck out a little with absolutely no cavalry support. (Did I hear someone say 'practically begging to be flanked'?).

There was also agreement beforehand that two C in Cs would be used on each side, mainly due to the number of units and the prospect of the game bogging down. This meant that a number of slight rule changes were in effect.

(1) The 'Death of a Hero' card could be used to remove a General if he were within 4BWs of battle. This would remove him from the game and permit only the other C in C to command. The card could only be used once per side. (This would have dire consequences and be eerily accurate).

(2) Although there were two C in Cs, the number of card draws remained the same. In essence, the only change here was the addition of a second command 'centre of gravity'. This consideration was mainly focused on the number of reinforcements that would be available and to avoid any sense of bogging down the game due to the number of units.

(3) Troops could wheel and assemble as they reached the other side of the river (otherwise, there was no room for them to wheel in terms of the scale).

And so to battle:

The Jacobite starting positions in front of Donore hill. Elite cavalry and dragoons bolstered by...raw infantry for the most part.

The Dutch elite Gardes de Voet cross the Boyne heading for Oldbridge, and Clanricarde's raw troops. Luckily, James's own guard units are close by.

The Jacobites in Oldbridge bend...

...then break as platoon firing and a handy 'Confusion' card push them from their covered position in Oldbridge, and accurate fire finishes them off.

Allied reinforcements in the shape of French Hugenot and Northern Irish troops are delayed through rough going, while Jacobite cavalry moves menacingly close to the river.

It is only a delay to the inevitable however, as the first reinforcements cross the river, joined by Schomberg.

 ...straight into the jaws of elite cavalry charges. Gaps in the line mean that a Guards regiment is flanked early on in the confusion and broken. Cries of desperation along the allied line (well, from the player anyway).

Canny card play and the effect of massed muskets however will force the cavalry back.

As yet more Dutch and English reinforcements make ready to cross. The Jacobite infantry have remained relatively unengaged as the allied infantry deflects the blows of the cavalry.

 As English and Dutch troops successfully cross the river and the Allies push deeper, Schomberg, apparently in the thick of the action, is killed by a stray musketball.

Leaving William to coordinate the army.

The allies have some success on their right against the trained guard units, though one remains.

As Danish reinforcements start to ford the river, Dutch and allied cavalry waits their turn. Things look bleak for the Jacobites, unless they do something rash of course. 

  The Jacobite infantry holds on, despite withering fire. the cavalry moves to the flank. Are they hoping to quell the Danes and Dutch at the river?

Despite what it looks like, the allies move their left flank, just in time for the massed cavalry charge.

By this time, Richard Hamilton is starting to run out of infantry to inspire, and moves to support the cavalry.

 ...who dramatically disrupt the Dutch and Northern Irish units as the flank melts away, and the charge goes on.

Not without cost, as the allies start to consolidate, Hamilton leads the cavalry on.

But the Jacobite morale is on the verge of collapse.

Hamilton's string of impetuous charges strikes the next Northern Irish and English regiments after he uses his 'notable' bonus to rally the almost shattered cavalry...

...and the charges destroy the integrity of unit after unit, though his cavalry become further weakened.

Despite the use of multiple advantageous cards, Jacobite morale is almost shattered, with only two points left. Having said that, with thousands of men running to the rear, allied morale was even taking a battering.

Final accurate platoon firing from the rallied Gardes de Voet puts and end to Hamilton's almost decisive action however, as the Jacobites roll poorly for morale due to losses, and flee the field.

 At game end, there are few units left on the field, and the Danish will be moving to reinforce, with massed cavalry just behind them.

We could probably call this a draw in terms of comparison against actual events. This was mainly caused by Hamilton's last minute success, the fact that the allies had to deal with it rather than focus on getting reinforcements across the river and the length of time that the Jacobites were able to hang on without being forced to Donore Hill.

The turning point was the death of Schomberg. Had the allies been able to retain two command radii, they would, as the Jacobites were able to, command a wide range of troop movement and thus bring troops across the river with more fluidity. As it was, one remaining C in C proved decisive in terms of where the allies could centre their attention.

One could argue that this is a flaw with the rules. I don't think so. Let's look at what happened historically. Schomberg was killed, there was utter confusion in the allied attack at times, the Jacobite charges were successful in terms of delaying the advance and significant numbers of allied troops were mauled and the pursuit was flawed (although historians have argued the real reasons for that). Granted, the flanking actions did not really happen, though we can see the price paid here was due to allied inattention to their position.

In other words, I still love the rules.

Next up? More Maurice or ...Modern Spearhead is beginning to call...or more Snappy Nappy...*sigh*...need more hours in the day dammit!