Wednesday, 23 January 2013

World War One Wednesday

German cavalry during the spring offensive 1918
I thought I would start a new featurette, which is to post a picture or two related to WWI. I thought I'd start with one of my favourite images from Joe Colquhoun's work in Charley's War. In my opinion he really was the greatest comic book artist of my lifetime.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Heropress competition entry - the Hand

One of the blogs that I really enjoy following is Heropress and this month Tim decided to run a competition. The idea was to construct some sort of story around this:
What am I?
It could be games stats, or an origin story or anything. So here is my take on the introduction of (drum roll) -The Hand.
OK, maybe not the most original name but back in 1989 when he was first introduced originality was not that hot anyway. Honestly - Mr Sinister? How about Mr Nasty or Mr Strong or Little Miss Mutant? But I digress.

Below is a potted origin story which was told in full in issue 17 of the Alliance of Awesomeness (known by its acronym AA). Most people don't remember but Krakistan was the last hardline Soviet Republic that was fighting the Cold War with any gusto. So villains were often secret agents from there trying to sabotage the scientific miracles being performed by the dedicated and selfless boffins of the free world. Agent 86 aka Mr Puffy-paws would be a thorn in the side of the Alliance of Awesomeness throughout most of the nineties until he accidentally caught his tail in a printing press while plotting against Mothron. As yet he is one of the few NDC characters to have died and not be resurrected in a ridiculously blatant way to try to generate interest and revenue, but I am sure it is just a matter of time. Today of course, Krakistan has abandoned its evil Communist overlords for evil Islamic Fundamentalist overlords. The poor old Krakis - they can't catch a break.

The transformation sent Handley mad (surprisingly) and he went on an uncontrollable rampage - after quickly stopping to put on some pants and booties of course - this was the eighties and all characters needed to dress well.

The cover to Alliance of Awesomeness (AA) #17

He gained his name the Hand from a person that phoned in a 911 call. The exact words were:
'Help! We are being attacked by a... a Hand!'.
'I'll send AA straight away!'
'I'm not drunk I tell you! It's a monstrous hand!'

The only two available members of the Alliance were Leather Lass and the Converter, as the others had their own books and were caught up in the blatantly revenue focused crossover event running through that winter - 'Beware the Body Parts'. This involved a completely disconnected series of stories where the only thing any of the issues had in common was that costumed heroes fought baddies whose names reflected various parts of the anatomy; and a cross-over announcement appeared on the cover. Mothron took on the Achilles Heel - who could find an opponent's weakness and exploit it. This was when Mothron pushed himself and learned to control not just 3 but 5 moths at a time. 
Iron Butterfly took on the Nostril, and Big Ted fought the interstellar menace, Gluteus. Dustmaster's conflict with the Sphincter is one issue that should probably be removed from memory. 

Eventually defeated when Converter used the energy of a Big Mac to make an explosion that knocked him out (product placement has been alive and well for a long time in comics), The Hand would return several times in the nineties before Dustmaster tricked the monster into a matter converter that he had built using Handley's records. Transformed back into a human scientist he became an even greater menace when he quit science and put together a boy band called 'Hands Up' that would hypnotise adolescent girls into taking over governments. Whether or not we have seen the last of The Hand is easy to answer. Yes we have.


Battle of Beckstein - the game

August 1794 and the French avant-garde under General Maladroit catches up with the Austrian rear-guard under Erzherzog Helmut (a distant cousin of the Hapsburgs).

The first thing that the French do is advance, moving their cavalry away from its initial position which was exposed to artillery fire.

On the left the 1/32 battlaion advances into the cornfield, looking for some shelter from artillery fire.

The 2/75 advances on the artillery in Beckstein, as artillery is automatically removed if assaulted under the rules. 

On the French right the main effort is made against the single regiment of IR 4 Hoch und Deutschmeister.

The French (and myself) find out that assaulting artillery head on is not recommended. Short range artillery is quite devastating.

IR 4 begins to be whittled down.

Forming into line in the cornfield the 1/32 prepares to advance on the Austrians.

The French right flank sweeps forward, but tries not to get into the arc of fire of the Austrian artillery.

IR 4 finds safety behind a hedge while the Brechainville regiment comes to the rescue. But how will it find room to deploy out of march column? Meanwhile the 2/75 assaults the Grenzers holding Beckstein.

The Austrians and French move into the assault on the left flank. The Austrian Dragoons wait in behind ready to pounce if possible.

The French win the combat and the Dragoons are hit by a powerful salvo of artillery, losing 4 hits and then failing a morale check to lose yet another element. 

the 2/7 Legere screen the Austrian artillery while further assaults on Beckstein are beaten back.

The Austrians manage to deploy into attack column. Not as effective as line, but better than march column!

The French Hussars manouevre to engage the dragoons - only to be pounded by short range Austrian  artillery fire.

Brechainville is whittled down while the 1/75 suffers the same fate in its attempts to take Beckstein from the valiant Grenzers - who are also suffering now.

The Austrian Dragoons charge in a succession of combats driving the French Hussars back.

IR 42 Erbach is victorious over the 1/32 and the flank belongs to Austria - apart from two French guns aimed on the area.

IR 4 is fired on by the 1/18 while Brechainville charges the 1/7 Legere. The Leger evade and form an attack column which then deals to the Austrian regiment most roughly.

The 75th Line have one hit left - the Grenzers have two. Can another assault do it? Nope. The French are removed hors de combat.

It's a temporary respite for the gallant Grenz, though, as the 1/18 attack. The Grenzers are overwhelmed and the French take their objective.

As the battle ends the French have won conclusively - 6 victory points to 3. Erzherzog Helmut calls a general retreat, but Maladroit realises that his force is too exhausted to pursue. It has been a costly victory.

The rules used were an adaptation Neil Thomas' Napoleonic Wargaming rules and worked really well. The battle took two hours to reach a conclusion, and I feel gave a pretty good result. Some purists might not like the fact that a number of regiments hung in until the last man, but every single regiment passed its morale test when it lost its penultimate element. What I may do is add a negative 1 modifier to the morale test if the unit is down to one element, but as casualties reflect combat effectiveness, I'm not too concerned if single elements remain on table.
Artillery is very powerful. But then I did try frontal assaults. I am going to reduce its save from shooting to 4-6 rather than 3-6, to weaken it a little. This game may have been better with just one gun a side - maybe 1 gun per 4 battalions would be a good ratio to go by.

The next game in the campaign will depend on what I have managed to paint up in the meantime, but will definitely see the French move further into Frankenberg. I have forces for Prince-Archbishop Klaus' men to paint, and am looking at getting a battlepack of Lancashire Games' Vendeeans to use as Frankenberg Republicans. That could be some fun games to join the narrative.

A thoroughly enjoyable solo game (my first in quite a while)


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Battle of Beckstein - set up

One of the reasons behind this blog is to motivate me to play a few more games solo, so I have officially made Friday wargames night. In order to get through a game in a relatively short space of time, I'm going to try and set everything up on Thursday night so that it is all ready to go.

The premise of this battle is that the French Revolutionary Forces are pursuing an Austrian force that has pulled back into my fictional realm of Frankenberg. The first town upon crossing the frontier is Beckstein, which just happens to be situated in between a woods and a wooded hill. Perfect for a rear-guard action.

The battlefield as seen from above. Beckstein is in the centre with the wooded hills to the right and just out of shot on the left is another wood.
I set up the Austrians as if I was deploying to defend the town against a real opponent. Two guns with good fields of fire, two battalions in line, some lights in the town buildings and cavalry and infantry in reserve.
The Austrian defensive position.
The French were rolled for randomly. I divided the table into two feet spans either side of the road and then rolled a D4 for which area they turned up in. They ended up surprisingly evenly spread. I allowed myself one redeploy if I thought it was necessary, and as it turned out a French gun ended up deployed behind the crops on the French left, so that was promptly moved.
The French deployment
Other slightly worrying things were the French cavalry ended up square on to an Austrian battery, as did an infantry battalion, but the French automatically receive the first initiative due to being the attackers, so there is time to sort out those deployment issues.
'Ah, mon ami. this will be a lovely open area for us hussars, n'est-ce pas?'
'Err, Pierre, you might want to look in front of you.'
So all set to go tomorrow night. i don't hold out too much hope for the French - they probably need a couple more units to assault a defensive position successfully, but we'll see how they go.
'Ach, Wolfgang. there are not enough of them to give us much trouble at all!'
Finally a close up of the Austrian 1st Kaiser Dragoons. These, the artillery and the Austrian general were all completed this afternoon, as were the blue roofed buildings that the Grenzer are occupying. More on all of these later.

Kaiser Dragoons
Battle tomorrow and hopefully a battle report on Saturday.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Austrian Regiment 39 - Nadasdy

Here is the latest unit for the French Revolutionary Wars, the Hungarian infantry regiment Nadasdy.
Nadasdy regiment

And a close up
For the first time in ages I tried to speed up the painting process by drybrushing the white on rather than wetbrushing highlights. I don't think it really quickened the painting at all, and I feel it is too inferior in results compared to my usual style to warrant trying again.
I've just completed a dragoon regiment for the Austrians and have the artillery on the painting tray, so should be ready to play a small solo game to test out my rules by the end of the week.


Monday, 14 January 2013

Mothron Monday #3

Today - Mothron realises that he is needed!
Yay! Mothron is on his way!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Last night was games night

The Rotorua Irregulars haven't got together for a good while (as befits our name), so we thought that we would organise a Fast Flames tourney evening. There were eight of us playing (if you count Chris and his son Connor as one player), so that gave us 4 Axis armies and 4 Allied. We used the Blitzkrieg book for our lists, apart from the Soviets who used the Invasion of Poland PDF, and put together 800 point armies which could not include air support or artillery.
It was interesting in that we haven't played Flames of War for a while and it took some time to get back into the swing of it. The basics were easy enough, but some of the special rules like one man turret and Hen and chicks had us scratching our noggins a bit.
There were three objectives placed on the centre line - one dead centre, the other two 15cm in from the table edge. Each of these was worth 3 points if you had troops within 5cm and no enemy within 10cm at the end of the game. You also gained two points for destroying an enemy platoon. The games were played on 4' x 4' tables.
Turns lasted 1 hour exactly, when the clock stopped dice went down (I'll never know whether the hits on Chris' tank went through the armour or not). This actually worked really well, and some tables had finished their games within the hour.
We made up all the lists using which meant that we had all of the stats and special rules handy to us, and this sped things along, because we drew our armies at random. This is a great way to learn the rules and also to discover the strengths and weaknesses in armies that you may not usually play.

Nathan as French  Escadron de combat vs Chris and Connor as German Czech Panzerkompanie

John as British Armoured regiment vs Adam as German Czech Panzerkompanie

Terry as French Infanterie vs Jeremy as German schutzenkompanie

Richard as Russian Strelkovy vs Shane as German Schutzenkompanie
Ohh - vineyards - I like fighting in France comrade! 
Is this where we park Comrade?
The French learn to park up in close formation - well they are in a ditch...
Go away! This my objective! Grrr!

British infantry about to find the shelter of a dilapidated building

British blowing up Germans - how did they lose the real Battle for France again?
It looks like the French and Germans are in a swirling melee, but it is in fact two separate tables (delineated by the blue tape).

"Oi, Bert! I think we might be on the wrong side."
The French and Germans square off for a Russian village. We'll call it an away game for both of them.

"Comrade, I've come to your party and brought my friends, da?"

When in doubt - advance!

If we use American dice that might mean that they show up and help us like in the last war...

Ahh, the Soviets finally discover how to space out their tanks.

Finally the BAR stumble against the dug in infantry of the Shutzenkompanie
The end results after three rounds were that John came first with 29 points, Richard second with 22 points and Nathan and Chris & Connor were tied  for third on 19 points. Terry brought up the rear with a grand total of 9 points.
Overall the Allies scored 71 points to the Germans' 53, so it was a pretty decisive victory in the battle for France/Russia.
John provided us all with buns and a Christmas Ham which we had been meant to have in a pre-Xmas game that had to be postponed. The beauty of playing wargames with a chef! Another fantastic night.
The Ham - the real hero of the night
For those that don't like Flames of War, they can give plenty of reasons. But we always have so much fun with these games, and it is the one period and rule system that we all have in common.  We do find that we don't play it enough, though, and there are probably plenty of rules that we are blissfully unaware and situations we fudge to make sure that the game keeps flowing. But no-one complains about that, and no-one is that keen on gracing the tournament scene, so we are happy in our little world.