Monday, 29 June 2020

Sunday Game - Ultra Modern Skirmish

On Sunday 28 June, most of the usual suspects (being Rick, Mark. Chris, John, Paul and me) gathered at Barry’s place for a game. A fortnight ago, Rick had requested we reprise the game I arranged for our annual wargaming week at Lake Tarawera, a couple of years ago. This was a multi player skirmish set in Afghanistan where all players are on the Coalition/ISAF side, and a simple mechanism provides the opponents. It was a special day too, as it was our host Barry's 83rd birthday - happy birthday Bazza!
The rules used are a set I found on the Free Wargames Rules website, called Mog 93, and are actually intended for “Blackhawk Down” type scenarios. As such, they are not really ideal for Afghanistan or Iraq, as they are intended to create very large mobs of poorly trained Somalis who are very poor shots – which doesn’t quite gel with the experience of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan circa 2000-2015. I had already realised this was the case but had not been motivated enough to think about how to improve things – so we just went ahead with minor changes.
The basic mechanic of the game is that every time one of the “playing” figures moves (each player had a unit of four infantrymen) the activated figure calculates how many opponents are in range, tots up a score based on that number, then rolls on percentage dice to see if they have been “hit”. In the rules as written, each armed Somali within range is worth 1% and support weapons add 5% (I think) So you can see, the intention is that there will be 30 or 40 armed Somalis firing, to make it a reasonable chance that an American gets hit every now and again (the % is halved if the target is prone or in cover etc.
I altered it to 5% per firer and 10% for support weapons, but with fewer figures, but it needs more refinement. Generally, the Coalition (they were NZ Soldiers in this scenario, who I created using 20mm Australians by Wartime Miniatures, as they use the same Steyr assault rifle as the NZDF)) were rolling at a 15% or less chance of taking a hit, and they needed to lose 6 hits in total to be put out of action – PLUS there were two medics (one on loan from the British army, an Elheim figure) who could restore up to 3 points of damage, which seemed to make it pretty hard for the Taliban to cause much damage – although there were a few of the Kiwis carrying 3 or 4 hits by the end of the game. On the other hand, the coalition troops hit on a 7+ on a D10, dropping to 6+ if they spend one action point aiming. With six action points each per turn, they can kill a lot of the enemy and LMG, HMG, UGL etc get more than one die roll per AP.
We kept recycling the Taliban so that each of the figures must have been put out of action half a dozen times each at least, but it didn’t really feel right – more work required by me to give a more realistic simulation – however, I think all the guys enjoyed cooperating and all being on the winning side, so cant knock it too much and from my perspective, it was nice to get a small portion of the modern “War on Terror” collection out on the table, as they get very few opportunities to ply their trade. The figures and vehicles are from a variety of sources and manufacturers - basically, if you make 20mm Modern British and/or Taliban, I probably have some of your figures in this collection!
Following are a few images taken during the game – some descriptions are added but the asymmetric nature of this type of engagement made it hard for me to umpire and keep track of what was happening everywhere!

Overview of part of the battlefield.

Local women collecting water

Another group pf villagers before things kick off

The first squad occupies a partially walled garden

The locals start to make themselves scarce

First opposition appears on a rooftop

Another coalition squad takes cover behind a ruined building

Another bunch of Taliban appear on the right flank

A view from the coalition starting line

A Taliban technical makes an appearance

A British WMIK Landrover mounting a 50 cal and 7.62mm GPMG sits in overwatch

NZ troops inspect a parked civilian vehicle - is it an IED?!

More local fighters line the edge of an irrigation ditch as the coalition troops advance

And yet MORE Taliban fighters appear

Fighting In Built Up Areas (FIBUA)..the "tactical" markers indicate these guys are prone, so twice as hard for the Taliban to hit. In the rear, the burning remains of a Taliban technical, taken out by a Kiwi UGL

The same squad advancing cautiously through the village

Allied air support - half way through the game, the coalition succeeded in calling in air support in the form of this US Blackhawk bristling with chain guns and snipers. With 8 x d10 per side (port and starboard) and only requiring a 6 to hit, it made mincemeat of the Taliban fighters lining the twin irrigation ditches

Another technical joins the fray

Taliban motorcyclist uses his cell phone to report in a sitrep

And STILL they keep coming!

This group of Taliban had filtered in to the rear of the advancing troops

A couple of Kiwi troops light up a Taliban position

General view from the other end of the table - the coalition patrol had successfully patrolled through the village, engaging multiple Taliban units and neutralising most of them


EndEx - the last two Kiwis moving off the field of battle
The view we have from Barry's gaming room - out over the Waitemata Harbour on Auckland's west coast
This was a very small scale action came compared with our usual fare but kept us amused for about six hours....its not all about size you know! Its actually inspired me to think I may do a War on Terror parade later in the week....stay tuned!

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Sunday Game - Spanish Civil War

Today was the first time our "Sunday" group has got together for a game since February. The game we played today was originally scheduled for Sun 22 March but as concerns about the spread of Covid 19 mounted in New Zealand in the days leading up to the weekend, and with a couple of our gamers in the vulnerable age group, we regretfully felt obliged to cancel it. Had we known it would be three months until we could next get together, we may have made a different decision!

The scenario was set in 1939, at the tail end of the war, with the combined forces of Generalissimo Franco closing in on the Republicans in NE Spain. Barry, Nick and I commanded the Republicans whilst Chris, Mark and Paul were the Nationalists. Rick organised the game, supplied all the wonderful figures and terrain and acted as umpire. Basically, the Republicans were attempting to hold a line along a railway, so that at the start of the game our forces were concealed. The battle area however seems to have been in a particularly barren area of Spain, so that the railway line was more or less the only defensible feature, meaning it did not take a strategic genius to work out where we were likely to be positioned!

I had three battalions of militia holding the left wing - the FAI, the CNT (yes, really) and, courtesy of  Ricks understanding my appreciation of female warriors, the Miliciana, This group was supported by an armoured truck. Nick had the right wing, with three battalions and a couple of field guns, and Barry had our central reserve with a few more infantry battalions and some armoured cars, tanks and AT guns.

The Nationalists we were assured had approximately the same forces, although it did not seem that way - at one point my 3 battalions were facing 9 battalions of Nationalists! Both sides also had aerial support from appropriate aircraft.

I wont try to do a blow by blow account of the action - basically, Chris advanced quite slowly and cautiously against the built up area held by my militia, he lost one battalion in his first contact but then brought massive fire to bare on each battalion in turn, so that at the end of the game he had wiped out all three battalions with little further loss to his own forces.

On the other wing, Nick did a stellar job of holding off a massively larger force with his very limited resources, to the point that when the game ended around 4pm, although his force was pretty much exhausted too, the Nationalists had only just been able to cross the railway line, and Paul's Italian force had been virtually destroyed in the process.

I will let the images of Ricks lovely troops tell the rest of the story....the figures are all from the excellent Empress Miniatures range

Inspirational Republican leader and Miliciana to her rear

Guardia Civile lead Chris' attack

Marks advance in the Nationalist centre

Paul's Italians march towards glory

Nationalist cavalry scouting ahead

Republican air support in the form of a Poliakarpov

Nationalists continue to advance

A small tank concealed in one of the buildings defended by my militia

Nicks troops entrenched behind the railway line

Above and below- the Nationalists move forwards

Nicks infantry overwhelm a Nationalist armoured car

Several shots of the massed Nationalist force

By the end of the game, the Nationalists had crossed the railway line

Nicks troops had been pushed back by the Italians and the German armour

In the centre, the Nationalists were moving forward into an open area.

It was a great first group game after the lock down and enjoyed by all, although Rick had told we Republicans right from the outset that he expected us to be overwhelmed. In fact, Nick put up a much stiffer resistance than had been expected and possibly got us a draw. For a different take on the action and some more images, check out Marks blog 1866 and All That.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Solo Test Play of "...And One For All" Rules

Last night I pulled four of my Frostgrave figures out to test play the Eureka Miniatures Three Musketeers rule set "...And One For All", which is available free to download from their website.

I set up the game as one "hero(ine) figure versus three swordsmen, to see how it worked out. The intro to the rules unashamedly says that they are designed to recreate the type of over the top sword fight that occurs in classic 1970's swash buckling films. Figures can move any distance (in a straight line) and interact with any scenery - ie jump on tables, throw chairs at opponents, swing from chandeliers (if you have them) etc.

I decided the hero would use red dice (D6) and the swordsmen would use white, so first up was a roll to decide who went first, which the swordsmen won.

The hero had a character value of 4 dice whilst the swordsmen had a value of 2.

The way the rules work is basically this: activated figures can do anything they want to. The action happens automatically, but then you have to roll to make sure you dont lose initiative. At the end of each "action" the figure rolls to make sure they still have the initiative. The dice used for this are called swash buckling dice in the rules. After each successful action, another swash buckling dice is added, and has to be rolled after a subsequent action. Any time 1 is rolled on the dice after any action, the initiative is lost.

I will run through the first couple of moves and hopefully how this works will become clear.

Move one, a swordsman successfully jumps onto the bench table, then on the second move up onto the table but then rolls a 1 and loses the initiative

The hero jumped onto the bench successfully but on the second move onto the table, rolled a 1 and lost initiative (this will become a common theme!)

The swords person (I guess I should say) jumped off the table and with her second move, threw a chair at the hero. This is called an "opposed action" in the rules. The active player rolls all the swashbuckling dice accumulated in the turn and the target rolls the number of dice that go with their character type - in the case of a hero, that's 4 dice. So, the opposed roll was two white dice for the attacker v's 4 red dice for the defending hero. The hero won, so avoided being hit by the chair!

As the attacking swords person did not roll a 1, they retain the initiative. She jumped up on the table, gaining another swashbuckling dice, and attacked the hero to duel. The swords person had 3 swashbuckling dice plus her two character dice, against the 4 character dice of the defending hero - result shown above. The white (swords person) won with a 6 over the red 5, and the hero was pushed back.

Following up on her advantage the attacking figure sprinted along the table top, now obliged to roll 4 swash buckling dice. The tactics of the game mean you do want to try to maximise the number of swash buckling dice BUT obviously, the more you accumulate, the greater the chance of rolling a 1 and losing the initiative,,,,,,,,

....but this time, fortune favoured the brave!

The attacking figure now duelled with the hero on the ground - she gets the 4 accumulated swash buckling dice, two character dice, PLUS one extra dice for an advantageous position - on the table. The hero gets her 4 character dice. I think I got the result wrong here - it should have been 3 x 6 scores = 6 +1 +1 =8 against the highest red 5 = 3 difference = stunned - but at the time I thought the fact there was 1 in the white dice meant the turn was over with no effect....

The game continued with the hero retreating behind the pile of scattered furniture - she the rolled a 1 on her swash buckling dice and lost the initiative!

A different swords person entered the fray, moving to the chair successfully and then throwing it at the hero. Her two white swash buckling dice went against the four red character dice of the defending hero - it was a draw - 4 each - so the attacker gains one attack point which was a push back on the hero.

On the next roll, the attacker rolled a 1 and lost the initiative, the hero rolled to recover from stunned - its simply an action like any other and any roll but a 1 is successful - then threw the chair back at the swords woman - who lost the roll by three, which meant she had dropped her weapon! The hero sprinted round the pile of thrown chairs and attacked.....

3 swash buckling dice plus 4 for character plus 1 because the opponent had dropped her weapon - 8 dice to the 2 character dice of the defender - but it was a DRAW - and because there is a 1 amongst the red dice, the hero had lost the initiative again!

Things carried on in much the same way for quite a number of turns - I recorded each event but to be honest I think it would be a bit boring for you to have to read a blow by blow account - because there was a lot of nothing much happening!

This sequence was the highlight of the encounter I guess - three ganged up on the hero, but she managed to hold them off. One of the attackers dropped her sword and the other two were pinned  and wounded (three wounds and you are dead!)

Having caused this damage, the hero then managed to lose the initiative in a duel with a weaponless opponent!

The opponents circled each other, hurling the occasional piece of furniture around....

The hero isolated a wounded player in an attack..

and for once, got a decent score - a six, plus an additional 4 x 6 = total score of 10 - which beat the opponent by 5 points and killed her!

I carried on the game for another half hour but could never reprise that success, so I wont inflict any more of this on you! 

I think my test has given me an idea of how the rules work and also suggested some changes I could make to improve them. I think I will try running it again, where ALL the dice count, so that if red has 4 dice and scores 6 5 5 and 3, and white scores 6 5 4 4, then it would be 3 to 1 in favour of red, so they would get a 2 result = stunned. I feel this might make the game go a bit quicker and get a result - although I don't want the game to be over in five some testing to see how this works will be required. 

One thing is pretty obvious - these rules would not work well for multiple players controlling two or three figures each in a skirmish game - one move would take an hour to get through and potentially very little would I will have to find a different rule set if I ever want to get my gaming group involved in a mass brawl! To be fair to the designers though, the constant to and fro and inconclusiveness of the fighting DID have the flavour of a swash buckling movie where the protagonists battle away for ages, throwing chairs, leaping over furniture, ripping down curtains etc, whilst doing little actual damage to each other until the final scene when the rapier is thrust into the "baddies" belly!