Sunday, 29 January 2017

Game 51 - Pikeman's Lament & McCarty's Tavern

So, I finally got Pikeman's Lament (based on the Lion Rampant, Dragon Rampant series etc. by Dan Mersey - with Michael Leck of Dalauppror giving aid on this occasion). The big attraction here was of course a way of fighting small unit actions in the late C17th, which appealed to the 1680/90s history buff in me.

In addition, there was also the chance to fight small/quick battles which would contribute to the fiction of the 'Three Kings in Albion' idea that I had mentioned many posts ago - with obvious parallels to the 'War of the Three Kings' and the Monmouth Rebellion in the actual 1680s and 90s.

'You're not going out there with those shoes on mate!'

Highlights from these rules.
  • Activation is based on unit type and 2d6. You might want to activate the best units first as they have an easier roll, though that intent becomes more difficult when you have to protect that flank or get a shot in, and command decision takes over. There is real drama here. Although the system seems akin to Black Powder, it works much more smoothly. Rather than brigade activation kicking you in the ass, individual units and initiative switchover seems to be smoother and makes more sense in the narrative of the fight.
  • Units are closely based on period types - pikes, shot, gallopers etc (some more akin to ECW and 30YW than others, but no great problem).
  • There is real urgency to initiative changeover. When your opponent takes it and holds it, it can really hurt.
  • With 2d6 activation, there is also 12d6/6d6 rolls for attacks and shooting. You get used to this after a while, and the 'stamina' value which dictates hits is quite inspired. I normally hate rolling buckets of d6, but this was ok.
  • I love the morale system. It becomes intuitive quite quickly when a roll is required - hits etc., and as hits take a toll on the unit's chance of rolling enough to sustain the fight, it can get quite nailbiting. In essence, you can expect a unit to make 2 or 3 rolls before things start to go wrong - although there is always a chance it might rout earlier than you thought. This really has some great period flavour, especially with pike.
  • Movement is simple. If I were to make changes, I might consider firing arcs/flanking, and maybe some movable leader influence for larger battles, but these are minor points. 
  • These would really work well for multi-player games - especially so where you have a mini campaign. Leaders grow with experience and gain more useful traits, just like a role playing game (but without the b.s.).
All in all, the rules are very representative of the period, with leaders that grow and develop just like the colourful characters from the period. What else could you ask for?

All in all a great set of rules...and you know, it makes the modern interpretation that Old Trousers has done over at 'Numbers, Wargaming & Arsing About' all the more plausible - where unit types and traits can use almost exactly the same system for a great game.

  'He's gone down to the pub again, hasn't he? *sigh* '

 McCarty's B'stards move from the pub.

 Cavalry charges on McGelliot's left flank go in early...

They're repulsed, but at significant cost to McCarty's shot units.

Long range shooting from McGelliot is uncannily accurate...with no definite response.

'There's just, too much, cotton wool *cough*.'

 But McCarty's seasoned pike turns on the horse... deadly effect, as the cavalry disperses. As stated - two or three morale rolls, and you really get the impression of units melting away due to casualties. This works at a larger scale, and there's no reason why pike/shot units integrated as single battalions couldn't be represented for larger battles - perhaps with better defence vs cavalry if pike get a chance to form etc.

Buoyed up by their success however, they charge to their doom at the hands of McGelliot's forlorn hope, but it's a disastrous last gasp, as the pike get shot away.

With one unit remaining, the Eryn general has no choice but to flee.

'Run McCarty, run you fool! I'll find you...(just as soon as I get some eye liner on)!'

 'Ha...he's defeated me this time, but I'll have the last laugh. He'll buy me a pint or DIE at my hands, damn his eyes!!! This isn't over, not by a long shot...d'ye hear?'

(Ok, I promise not to take the p*ss out of the17th century next time...)

It is said that the war in Albion started with a tavern brawl in mainland Europe. Of course, we consider such trivial reasons for war as somewhat circumspect these days, though it is worth considering the lore surrounding the skirmish at the Siege of Lennes in 1672.

Apparently bored with the action (or lack of it) concerned with the digging of the lines of circumvallation during the investment of the European city, two factions, fighting under the Frankish flag in capacity as both Eryn mercenary and at the English King’s pleasure, broke down into fighting. It is said to this day that Roger McGelliot’s refusal to buy Justyn McCarty a pint of beer started the fracas, which developed into a brawl, which in turn developed into a rapid drawing of battle lines in the fields north of the city. By the time their superiors had determined just what was going on, it was too late, and the first shots of what would degenerate into a new English civil war (albeit started upon the fields of Frankreich), had been fired…

Today we call the eventual campaign that took place on the Albion mainland a religious war, though it is tempting to think that the whole thing may in fact have started, over a pint…

Geoffrey Pebbledash – The History of Albion

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Game 50 - Lingevres, Normandy, 1944 - Reliving the Past...!

Waaay back on June 24th, 2012, we posted details of our first game with Rapid Fire. So, for Game 50, what better way to celebrate than to re-fight it and see just what we've learned - straight from the mouths of a jaded Grognard, and an enthusiastic recruit into the chaos enjoyment that is wargaming...

In the intervening years, we've celebrated new rules, cheered at the nostalgia of old rules, set the world to rights in terms of how wargaming rules should work and laughed at the pretence of artificial complexity that is 'those games that were considered so bad as to not feature on the blog'...whose societal members shall of course remain nameless.

So, here we are. Unlike the first time around, this was very much a beer & pretzels (or tea and biscuits) style affair. We've both become less jaded, and learned a lot; all of these games occurring amidst the external influences between us of career change, the joys of publication, the lesser joys of legislation, teaching a new generation of management and chasing money in somewhat nefarious industries - and of course - being p*ssed off with Rogue One when no one else seems to realise how bad it was...*sigh*  On with the game...

The terrain has changed, but the song remains the same. Two battalions of British with armoured assets try to seize the village and crossroads from elite German units.

British units on the start line, hoping to spot German armour early on. They succeed, and the first Panther is taken out early with a shot from the Firefly...(with audible cries of dismay heard at the bottom of the street)...

 German units consolidate, with Panzerfaust ambushes finding their mark.

 British units get out of the open ground as quickly as they can - where German mortar fire was uncannily accurate.

 German units hug the cover, making a general nuisance of themselves, splitting the British attack into flank maneuvering, whilst the British infantry get bogged down.

 German units eventually moving back as the flanks become the axis of advance - allowing infantry free reign to rotate back to the town in significant numbers. This was a mistake on the part of the British...

By turn 8, there was a strong British armoured presence on either flank, but the second German Panther had arrived to ruin everyone's day.

 German infantry by now had become well ensconced in the town.

 As British ATGs get into position, looking for that lucky flank shot...
 ...the Firefly is looking for a more advantageous shot...right up the Panther's...

 ...As successive waves of British armour drift closer to their doom.

 By the game end, the Firefly flanked and killed the Panther, but it was too late. There wasn't enough British infantry capable of moving in to take the town, and time had run out.

'Can't you bloody well see that we're pinned down here man!'

As usual Rapid Fire is just that - rapid and easy on the mind. That's no bad thing, as we had a lot of catching up to do, and could chat freely as we played.

The Good
Rapid fire is quick and decisive. DON'T get caught in the open.
The charts are quick and easy - tank combat, infantry combat, morale, spotting HE and Arty - all very easy.

The Bad
It's still squads acting like companies in a convivial bathtub format.

The Ugly
It leaves out command, suppressive fire, unit ratings - but we didn't want that today anyway...

Rapid Fire still has its place, and we will come back to it. Next up, there might be some operational WWII or a shot at the new 'Combat HQ' which is a similar level at least to RF and Command Decision, and is crying out for a playtest...

...and hopefully we won't leave it so long this time :)