Saturday, 15 September 2018

Sabre Squadron with 10mm

Your roving reporter attended a game with Stephen & John today, using Sabre Squadron and an absolutely superlative collection of 10mm moderns (Skytrex vehicles, which were always beautiful castings, with superb Timecast infantry).

 It was good to try these with vehicles, and being reasonably new to the set (I've only used them loosely once before), there were questions, but most of the issues resolved on the day such that another game is in the offing. Great fun and hospitality as usual.

 A nice turn sequence, well designed options for actions and intelligent design with regard to just enough 'tech' with just enough 'game'...(though they may have to change the term 'dodge' for vehicles vs ATGMs to 'evade' - just a preference).

The guys' vehicles and infantry is absolutely stunning - enjoy!!!

Also - I have purchased a large amount (600 vehicles+ ) of 1/300 GHQ and similar from Jack over at BlackHawkNet. These too are superb. Some pics at the end...expect more moderns soon :)

 We join the action as the Soviet attacking force (circa 1984) has laid down smoke across the British poistion at the junction, though Swingfires on the ridgeline to their left still very active, as the roar of guided missiles is deafening, behind the roll of dice of course.

 Chieftains lie in wait.

 British troops dug in with Carl Gustavs.

 Soviet armour exploitation moves on left and right.

 Soviet armour approaching on their right, determined to take the high ground before the Chieftains can engage at long range as the smoke clears.

 Swingfires poised to inflict damage.


Artillery barrage laid down, hits the Blowpipe position, but the Swingfires are still operational.

Fantastic detail on these guys.

 Some ZSU discipline in place for the odd Lynx or Gazelle.

 Political officers in Gaz - aren't going to be enough to stop a Chieftain or two.

British positions prove a tough nut to crack.

Soviet moves on the British left are bearing fruit however. a protracted firefight begins on the right.


 Soviet dismounts move toward the ridgeline to take the British prepared positions.


 The Soviet attack goes in.

Though we didn't get finished, it was a much needed introduction to a solid ruleset. More to follow I think.

Only part of the tanks I got from Jack, before they were unpacked. These guys will see much arguing over the rules...errr fighting, in the  next few months...

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Katzbach 1813 with FoB

More Field of Battle action with Sgt Steiner's wonderful 15mm stuff, at Katzbach 1813.

There are few superlatives left to describe how good this game is. Yes, I am gushing again about these rules. Now granted, I have only played a few other Horse and Musket sets, but again, we see in this battle:
  • Truly epic struggle - where it could have gone either way - with a mechanism built into the rules where, upon reaching the point of breaking, an army can still survive for a few more card draws and turn the tide.
  • Drama - I watched elite troops charge victoriously, then rout in the face of fresh troops all in a few card draws. I watched elite cavalry hold on and prevent a flanking disaster in the face of being outnumbered, all with a very simple (but not simplistic) combat mechanic, without having to resort to lists of modifiers, and wasted time. There were chances to take, decisions made on the basis of logic and/or emotion, lines that were held in the face of adversity, and attacks that seemed certain, which ended in disaster - with logical, simple (but not simplistic) and period style rules.
  • Attrition and 'crunch' - this was one of the longest and closest battles we have fought with these rules, but there was never a period of downtime, and there was never any doubt with regard to how effective the rulings were. In fact, the rulebook was never consulted.
  • Activation. The narrative would see French cavalry be slow to react, such that Prussians had time to form squares, and there would be several desperate actions and movement forward and back, and forward again, on the flanks - yet the story could easily have been different. Now that is the ebb and flow of battle and it's unpredictable - yet you learn to control what you can and let the plan develop as needed. Show me another set of rules with that flexibility and degree of the 'unexpected'. It goes beyond tacked on 'fog of war' mechanisms that rule writers put in because they think it's 'cool'.  This is more than simply planting an activation roll into a traditional system; this is a unique way of playing, that echoes command decisions, and creates a battle narrative worthy of a history book. 

  • The 'philosophy' of Horse & Musket battle is an attempt to understand the nature of good and bad commanders, and how the better officers knew when to take a chance based on knowing the character of their men, or indeed the character of their opposite number. History has deemed some bad commanders, when in reality perhaps their failing was not knowing when to act. There is something about FoB that seems to echo this, in that you learn to get a feel for the game - while simple things like gaining ground after an enemy assault, can lead you down the rabbit-hole of pushing your luck too far. You remember these episodes of triumph and disaster. I've never come away from a game using Black Powder rules for instance, with that feeling.

 The French left. Prussians are weak on this flank, though are expecting Russian reinforcements.

 On the Prussian left, the majority of their strength is poised to try something...expecting their best troops to reinforce on successive move cards.

In the distance, French cavalry is seen on the high ground. It would be a concern for the Prussians and force them into squares in the centre - most would not fire a shot as the battle was contested on the flanks.

 Prussian cavalry tries to take the high ground on the left. This would be a disaster early on. Landwehr reinforcements move to the centre to provide a bulwark against French cavalry being able to move freely...hopefully...

 Careful meinen Herren.

Landwehr move in the centre...they only 'look' intimidating. They screened the centre without gaining ground for the balance of the battle.

 French cavalry move forward as Prussian commanders begin to worry.

Prussian reinforcements will force the issue on their left...surely.

 ...while the right remains reasonably far...aside from that French unit which has pushed forward (and will cause a headache for Russian reinforcements).

 A good view of Prussian attempts to block the centre against free movement of French cavalry.

 Prussian Grenadiers take the high ground and threaten to turn the French flank...careful now...

 Ouch! French cavalry reinforcements hit the ridge and rout the Prussians. Flank secured. Both sides have taken considerable losses against morale deck however.

 Prussians mess up the battlefield in the centre. French cavalry are drawn off from the centre in order to pursue punching a hole on their left the face of weakened Prussian lines.

 ...especially relevant as the Russians have decided to arrive.

 Prussian cavalry holds, despite being flanked itself.

 As the Prussian left becomes a disaster. Despite inflicting a lot of damage, they have been stymied by the French.

 Prussians hold and push back French cavalry on their right. Medals for this bunch.

 Nothing moving in the centre, as the battlefield almost becomes split.

By this stage, French morale was ebbing away and successive hits were melting morale down. Passing one Army Morale card, they would break on a second. A final Prussian cavalry charge on the left would be routed, but enough damage had been inflicted during the attack to break the French - while bringing the Prussians close to breaking point themselves. A Pyrrhic victory and an absolutely epic struggle.