Monday, 28 May 2018

Le Duc on the Road, Part IX - San Francisco this was a long one, a business trip organised at the last minute, so crept into the weekend, but now that I have recovered from the jet lag, let me regale you with the story of how (1) the chief engineer owns a boat and (2) he suggests that it's the most scenic way to get to the airport via the city and (3)...he even lets me drive (pilot) for a bit !  Wow.

 Leaving the dock.

 Local Californian countryside. The weather was cool and close, but apparently the sunshine came back just after I left!

Why navigate with real instruments? There is an app for that (which corrects and compensates for steering when the autopilot is on - this is probably why they let me pilot for a while...)

The sugar factory. If this wasn't an old 1930s should have been.

The open water, dodging pleasure craft and tankers.

One of the islets off Bay Bridge.

City coming into view.

...and the Golden Gate bridge. Watch out for those yachts...

Sailing around Alcatraz, which is bigger than you think, with provisions for the entire community which lived there to support the prison.

Coming into Pier 39.

 SeAls at Pier 39...and not the Navy kind...

 One of the old WWII supply ships. Though numbers have dwindled in recent years, I'm pretty sure these (or perhaps this one) formed the end-piece set for James Caan's 1970s film, 'The Killer Elite'.

Epic trip.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Walcourt 1689 with FoB - The Eagle has Landed...

More FoB action. This time a second bash at Walcourt, though with the superlative Field of Battle this time, and Sgt. Steiner in attendance.

Need we say more about these superb rules:
  • Plausible results - the ebb and flow of battle is readily apparent, as is the wearing down of will to fight that we read about in Horse & Musket sources. This was a very close run thing.
  • Rapid action - we watched cavalry disengage, re-organise and counter-attack within a few card plays, incorporating battlefield friction and risk, with no pre-programmed turn sequence.
  • A great story and game. There is never a dull moment.
  • We discussed maneuver and cavalry column options for the period - so easy to tweak these for the next game.

But why 'The Eagle has Landed'? Read on gentle reader...

 So we have an encounter battle with Walcourt, which is rare enough in a period where as John Childs - eminent historian cites in his works, that things were more than a little inefficient during warfare in this period.

The French deploy Irish on the left, with a strong centre, and cavalry facing enemy cavalry on the right.
The English have held Walcourt under the famous Tollemache, and John Churchill - newly created Earl of Marlborough. Waldeck would say of him at this battle: "... despite his youth he displayed greater military capacity than do most generals after a long series of wars ... He is assuredly one of the most gallant men I know"

 The English are in such a strong position at Walcourt, that it would be folly for the French to take, so they send Irish exiles - Mountcashel's Wild Geese toward the churchyard to hold it.

Some preparation in the centre, and the French right...

...will become a mess of cavalry. 

Attacks in the centre do unseat some Dutch defenders at the walls and hedges, though the French opt to hold until a decision on their right flank can be made. that is where the fire is hottest.

 Irish troops take the church, though Thomas Tollemache will ensure that they don't hold it for long.

 Dragoon fire adds to the effect on the English and Dutch cavalry, though John Churchill reigns supreme.

The English troops on the French left sense a weakened position at the church and launch a sustained and protracted assault against the Franco-Irish position.

As musketry clouds the decision in the centre...

...John Churchill is shot from the saddle, and British history is forever changed. (a 1 on a d20 is hardly ever a good thing...see the reasons for this at the end).

The church becomes a crucible of hand to hand fighting between Irish and English redcoats. The Irish flee, having come off worst in the face of the protracted assault.

 ...though not without casualties, as Tollemache too, hero of the hour, goes down to a stray musketball.

By this stage, both decks had either reached morale threshold, or were about to. When the army morale card came up, the Allies, with Waldeck being a d8 commander, had the odds stacked against them - and their losses sustained make them opt to withdraw, but what a close run thing this was. Epic!

And now..we present the Conspiracy Theory.

So...Sgt Steiner rolled a 1 for Churchill during the 'Officer Survival' check phase, hmmm? Seems strange..Steiner...Churchill. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
 Steiner - Kurt Steiner, drops into England to kill Winston Churchill in the village of Studley Constable in Norfolk, thereby weakening the Allied war effort. He Operation D20 comes into being.

If Rolf Steiner can go back in time, and kill Churchill's 17th century ancestor at the Battle of Walcourt, then Winston will never be born! History is changed forever by the roll of a d20.

 We're being serious Winston!

This sort of thing is not without precedent of course, and may yet spawn a series of movies (of which only the first and second are worth watching of course).

 It also means that the WWII assassination attempt doesn't need to happen, and we therefore don't need to bear witness to this very definite, porn-star style, mustache.

However, it does give us a more than adequate excuse to have a pic of Jenny Agutter - which is always worth it.

'No - listen to me! If we really have perfected time-travel, we need to go back to 1979 and make sure that the movie called 'Breakthrough' never gets made! They claim that it's a sequel to 'Cross of Iron' and that's the biggest tragedy of all. You hear me? Hello? Hello?'