Monday, 30 January 2017

Building up some built up areas

I paint figures at night, but if I have a bit of spare time during the day, I'll use this time to prep figures or make scenery. The latest scenery items are for DBA.
First up, a Samurai castle:
 This is a 1/300 plastic Fujimi model that works out at about 3 x 3 base widths. A perfect fort for the DBA Samurai to besiege and relieve. Yumisushi Nate sits alongside for scale.

 Next up is a generic Middle Eastern built up area, exactly 3 x 3 base widths in size. The idea is that it can be used for Biblical games, Eastern Roman Empire or Crusades, so I haven't made any period specific additions. I need to add some windows to the rear of it, but I can't imagine it would be the airiest of homes. Probably why the Philistines are sunbathing on the battlements.

 Lastly, a couple of camp elements for the two Samurai armies (which aren't actually painted yet). Above is the camp of Yumisushi Nate, where a lone Ashigaru leads forward a pack horse while a stealthy ninja lies in wait. Below, the camp of Tomuchisake Dan has no such fears, just a pleasant stroll under the cherry blossom trees.
Now that these are finished I really want to get the rest of my Samurai painted, so when I've finished Craig's figures, they will be the next job. Then Geoff's long awaited Huguenot cavalry. I can't say I don't have anything to do at least...


Sunday, 29 January 2017

Painting and first Flames of War game for the year

I've still got some painting to do for Craig, which he's been very patient about. He let me finish off my Seven Years War project in order to get my painting mojo back (lost because I was painting so much for others that I think I lost interest). So now I am getting through his figures - starting with these 15mm Battelfront 15mm howitzers:
The commissions start again. Craig will finish off the bases.
I also played a Flames of War game a week or so ago. We planned to do a big 3000 point Kursk based game. The idea was to set up a scenario based on Prokhorovka, where the SS panzergrenadiers need to break through the Soviet line and the 5th Guards Tank army counter-attacks. It went well, except that the Soviets (I was their commander) failed to get their armoured reserves on before the defending infantry company failed it's morale.
Start of the game and the dug in Soviets face the SS Leibstandarte coming against them.The preliminary bombardment made some serious dents in the defences.
On the left flank the Soviet anti-tank command team are left alone to observe proceedings.

On the right flank the Soviets start causing casualties, but can they hold on.
The left flank begins to collapse.
Frontal assault with the low-armoured vehicles goes poorly for the Germans.
One set of reserves arrive from 5th Guards Tank Army - a heavy platoon of Churchills, who do a good job of taking out the Panzer IVs.
The anti-tank defences on the hill in the centre of the position remain pinned for the entire game, severely hampering their influence.
And eventually they are destroyed, meaning the only thing the Soviets have left that can win the game are the 20 T-34s in reserve...
...which don't show up. At the end of turn six both villages are taken and the Soviets fail their company morale.
On the painting tray at the moment are some more SS infantry for Craig. Pictures when complete.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Saga of Olav the Bored

 I wrote a narrative mini-campaign for DBA last year that I've finally got around to playing (thanks holidays). It involves a Viking contingent, led by Jarl Olav the Bored, invading England and fighting it's way through to establishing a kingdom. Olav invades for something to do. He can't sit still for long. The script is as follows:

Olav the Bored in full battle cry!
DBA narrative campaign
A Viking lord is raiding the English coast with an eye to setting up his own kingdom there. Because the Vikings are on the offensive and aggressive they have a higher breakpoint than the locals, until they lose a game.

1.       First Battle: The Landing = Terrain is littoral. 6 elements of Viking Blades vs 6 elements of Anglo-Saxons, consisting of 1 horde, 1 blade, 1 psiloi and 1 spears. English breakpoint – 2 elements: Viking breakpoint 3 elements. If the Vikings lose this battle, they pack up and go home.

If the Vikings are successful:
2.       Second battle: Local counter-attack = Terrain is littoral. Vikings occupy BUA Hamlet. Now with 7 elements of blade as reserves arrive. Anglo-Saxons attempt to retake the town with 2 blade and 4 spear elements. A-S breakpoint = 2,; Viking breakpoint = 3

If Vikings are successful in game 2:
3a. Third battle: Conquest = Reinforced as news of their success spreads, the Vikings move inland. They encounter more resistance. Terrain is arable. Viking army now has 8 elements of blade. Anglo-Saxons advance with 6 – 1 horde, 1 blade, 4 spear.  A-S breakpoint = 2; Viking breakpoint =3.

If Anglo-Saxons are successful in game 2:
3b. Third battle: Regrouping = Just holding on, the Vikings defend their foothold. Terrain is littoral. Viking army is whatever was left at the end of battle 2. Anglo-Saxons have 7 elements – 4 spear, 2 blade, 1 horde. Viking breakpoint =2, Anglo-Saxon breakpoint= 2. If successful refight battle 2. If unsuccessful the Vikings pack up and go home.

If Vikings are successful in battle 3a:
4a. Fourth battle: For a Kingdom! = More Vikings appear to reinforce success. The local English have decided that this is serious and muster all available forces to oppose the invader. Terrain is arable. Both sides have 12 elements. Normal breakpoints.

If Anglo-Saxons are successful in battle 3a:
4b. Fourth Battle = Same as Battle 2, except both sides have 6 elements and the Viking breakpoint reduces to 2.

If Vikings win battle 4a – Congratulations.  A new Viking kingdom in England.

If Anglo-Saxons win battle 4a – play battle 4b.

If Vikings win battle 4b they retire to their ships with plunder, but no new kingdom.

If Anglo-Saxons win battle 4b the Viking force is wiped out and a great victory is celebrated in England.

Such was the plan. As you will see from the play-through, I will need to revisit the forces involved as the Vikings never look like being beaten at any stage.

Deployment: Olav chooses the closed ground as their point of invasion to deny it to the defending Anglo-Saxons.
The Anglo-Saxon plan - rush forward and meet the Vikings near the bad going so they don't have the opportunity to deploy from their columns and outflank the Aenglish!
The Viking plan - Rush Forward!
It's hard to fulfil your plans when you roll 1s. Not a Viking problem however...
Contact Olav uses the greater fyrd for axe-chopping practice.
Next turn and the Vikings gang up on the poor little archers. Viking bridgehead secure!
Not happy with this a local lord comes to liberate a captured coastal village. But the news of Viking success has started to spread, and reinforcements have arrived.
The Vikings move up to the woods and deploy into line. The Anglo-Saxons also deploy into the woods.
Olav divides his force and attacks into the woods. He hopes the Anglo-Saxon left will advance and be outflanked.
The fight in the woods begins to go against the Anglo-Saxons.
With a spear element down the Anglo-Saxon line is looking shaky.
Now the Viking right loses patience and leaps into battle.
But it is in the woods where the decisive moment occurs. Viking victory.
Moving inland the Viking Horde is confronted by more local defence forces.
Viking tactic - charge!
The battle-line bows with the Olav punching hard into the Aenglish line.
'All shall fall before my axe!'
Now he's done it. The Anglo-Saxon King brings forth a full army. Luckily, Olav has also picked up some more followers.

The lines advance slowly. Everybody is rolling ones. And so a psiloi skirmish erupts on the side of the battle.
The lines close up.
The psiloi grudge match swings back and forth.
The Anglo-Saxons charge first. The battle-line fragments.
On the left of their line the Vikings destroy the greater fyrd.
In the centre an element of Anglo-Saxon blades breaks through. Olav and the Anglo-Saxon king go head to head.
The Vikings who destroyed the fyrd now swing around and take two select fyrd spearmen in the flank. They turn - and recoil into the rear of an enemy formation. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Vikings win the psiloi battle and the great fyrd on the far side is also destroyed. Battle over, and although the Anglo-Saxon King survives, he can't stop the establishment of the Kingdom of Olav the Bored!

I didn't realise that the last photo had come out so blurry. Too late now, I've packed the battle up...

This campaign took more than an afternoon only because I had to stop and go out. It could easily have been played to a conclusion in a couple of consecutive hours. But I would make some changes for next time which would be to give equal or greater numbers of Saxons in the first three battles. The Saxons are at a command disadvantage in having to move hordes, so need something to compensate for it if they are to have a realistic chance of winning battles. I'd look at one more horde element in battle one and a horde and a psiloi in battle 2. An extra horde and an extra blade in battle 3a.

As it was, it felt like a bit of a walkover for King Olav, although their were moments in the last battle where things might have gone either way but for some unfortunate Anglo-Saxon dice rolls. Definitely worth a play-through again with the amended numbers. And of course, the uncertain nature of teh terrain set-up might also favour the Anglo-Saxons in a another game.


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Some days it just isn't worth being an intergalactic conqueror

After rescuing Barry, the clever alien learned to speak English and joined the Alliance of Awesomeness. He and Aphid managed to build a starship that allowed the Alliance to return to Barry's homeworld, only to find that in the millions of years since he'd left (time-space warp, remember?) the planet had been ravaged by a race of intergalactic conquering robots and his people wiped out. This made Barry sad, and he returned to Earth with the Alliance. Little known to them, one of the intergalactic conquering robots that had been left as a sentry followed them back to Earth. Now Zol-Torr is preparing to alert his people/race/things to Earth's existence so they can come and ravage it. He is planning on using a highly experimental interstellar communications device to send the message. The Alliance have wind of this, and all eight members that have been part of the group since issue #1 have come together to stop him.

Stats are as follows:
Close Combat
Ranged Combat
3W @ 12” weak
+1 to avoid pinning
+1d6 to solve puzzles

Tiger Girl
Loses red d6 on attack if it is highest dice rolled.
Leather Lass
3W @ 3” weak
3R+1 reroll

3W weak
3W @ 6” weak
2W +1R
3W weak
3R @ 12”

3W @ 12”
+1d6 to solving puzzles
Blue Ghost
2W + 1R
Flight +1 to unpinning

Adapt – extra d6 against a particular opponent.
Massive - +1 to unpinning

As you can see, Zol-Torr is indeed mighty.

Splash page! Zol-Torr approaches the communications array with only the Alliance between him and the end of life on Earth.
Everybody attack! Ore is the first to be bashed about.
Next turn and Aphid goes reeling backwards, but Barry pulls out his gadget (ooo-er) and manages a hit on the metal monstrosity. With the last action of the turn Converter also gets a hit in on Zol-Torr.
Most of the Alliance are left to bash at Zol-Torr ineffectively, but they pin and distract him long enough for Converter to wolf down a Mac Attack!
Zap! Converter unleashes with 3 sixes! Zol-Torr can't roll enough defensive dice. He's down! In turn 4!
I actually expected the Alliance to take a few more hits than that, and on reflection 8 heroes was too many for this scenario. Most were pretty ineffective, but Nuclein and Converter have some pretty awesome hitting power if they roll well. Nuclein didn't, but Converter almost took down Zol-Torr by himself. Only swiping one hero at a time, Zol-Torr was like a man batting at mosquitoes. The other thing this game would have benefited from was some sub-plots, as it did very much become a stand up stoush.

The short game was probably quite good considering I don't think the 7 year old daughter was giving this her full attention, and I will probably play it again in the future with a reduced cast list and some sub-plots added.


Friday, 20 January 2017

Atack on a prepared position - an Honours of War game

'My dearest Wilhelmine
As you are aware His Majesty has granted me the honour of an independent command, covering the border area while the main armies operate elsewhere. But Old Fritz has given me an infamous army to do it with. We are seriously undermanned and strung out. The units I have are the dregs of the army - garrison regiments and freikorps. Apparently there are reinforcements coming, but when they will arrive, who knows? The locals are Catholics and do not give us their best beer. I fear that this command may be my last unless I can perform a miracle.
Balthasar, Graf von Pritzwalk

Such is the set-up for my Seven Years War mini-campaign, an inferior Prussian force trying to defend the Bohemian border, with hope of reinforcements that might bring equality to the table - or not.
The battles are all chosen from the book Scenarios For All Ages by Charles Grant and Stuart Asquith.

The first scenario is Attack on a prepared position and sees a heavily outnumbered force defending a ridge line against a timed attack. The scenario suggests that the number of turns should be the number of game turns it would take an army to cross the table plus half as many again. This gave me 12 turns to play out. By the end of the game the Austrians must have broken the Prussians, moved two units off the northern edge of the table, or they have lost. The Prussians may deploy anywhere up the line A-A.
Because I play in 15mm and the distances are halved for Honours of War, I set up the table where each of the squares in the above diagram was 15cm x 15cm. This made the playing area 75cm (28") x 105cm (40").

The Prussians were defending with a hotch-potch force - 1 unit of freikorps (inferior light infantry), a garrison regiment (inferior infantry), a standard artillery battery and 2 fusilier regiments (standard infantry).
The Austrians had 2 Grenzer regiments (superior light infantry), 6 infantry battalions (standard infantry), a standard artillery battery and a regiment of Hussars (inferior cavalry).

This was my first game using the Honours of War rules. I rolled up two dithering brigade commanders for the Austrians which would make the game very interesting. The Hussars and artillery battery were independent units. As suggested in the scenario book, I put the Prussians on remote control and played the Austrians.

Deployment, looking north from the Austrian base line
The Du Verger Freikorps are advanced and hiding in the woods.
Fusilier Regiment 35 Prinz Heinrich guards the eastern ridge for the Prussians.  
The first turn sees the dithering first brigade commander stay still in the face of very effective long range Prussian artillery fire.
The Austrian artillery replies with a hit on Fusilier Regiment 47 Rohr, holding the hill in the centre.
Rallying in the rules is automatic based on distance from the enemy. Both Austrian formations are reduced to one hit automatically at the end of turn one.
The Banalister Grenzers move up to attack the Freikorps in the woods.
The Austrian Brigade in the centre finally gets into gear and begins moving forward.
Asserting their superiority the Grenzer force the outclassed Freikorps back.
On the Austrian right the Hungarian Brigade struggles to form up with a steep hill in the way limiting movement.
Now the Austrian Brigade is making some headway - the Prussian artillery has a turn of ineffective fire.
The Hungarian Brigade begins attacking the Rohr regiment in the centre while the Peterwardeiner Grenzers engage the Prinz Heinrich regiment in a long range musketry exchange. 
The fight for the centre. The 37 Esterhazy Regiment in a determined firefight.
The Du Verger Freikorps take position on the lower slopes of the western ridge.
The first Kaiser Regiment that had been leading the Austrian brigade and taking the brunt of the Prussian artillery fire is raked by canister and forced to fall back and reform.
The Rohr regiment renders the Esterhazy regiment hors de combat, but as a result of its casualties has to fall back off the hill and reform. The Austrian general suspects that the Prussian centre is giving way!
The 24 Starhemberg Regiment charge the Prussian guns, which fire an ineffective volley and are destroyed in the resultant combat.
The 34 Batthanyanyi Regiment move to attack the Prinz Heinrich fusiliers. The Peterwardeiner Grenzers have been forced to retreat and reform.
The 31 Haller Regiment now takes up the attack on the Rohr fusiliers who are trying to reoccupy the central hill. Incidentally, the Austrian artillery battery on the left of this picture rolled a 1 for its command three turns in a row, and pretty much just sat there.
The Peterwardeiner Grenzers and the Batthanyanyi Regiment combine to drive the Prinz Heinrich fusiliers from the Eastern ridge.
The Hungarians consolidate their hold on the ridge while the 24 Esterhazy Hussars exploit the gap created and move towards the rear of the Prussian lines.
The 31 Haller Regiment is broken by the brave Rohr fusiliers, who in turn are forced to retreat, almost done for.
The Prinz Heinrich fusiliers' attempt to retake the eastern ridge are thwarted, and the regiment is broken.
The II Alt-Sydow Garrison Regiment sitting on the Western ridge force the Starhemberg regiment to fall back. As turn 12 arrives, is it possible that the Prussians might just hold on?
In the last turn a last ditch attempt is made by the Esterhazy hussars to charge the Rohr regiment and break it, which will win the game for the Austrians. But the dice gods are against the Austrians, who are pummeled by a volley and then outclassed in hand to hand. The Hussars break, but the Rohr regiment is forced to retreat!
The Rohr regiment marches from the field in reasonable order. Because they cross the playing edge (an invisible line denoting 75cm from the Austrian base-line), they are lost. The sacrifice of the hussars was worth it - the Prussian army is broken in the last turn and the Austrians can claim a victory.

And so my first game with the Honours of War rules. By mid-way through the game I had pretty much come to grips with the basic mechanics, and knew the firing modifiers off by heart. The fact that the rules allowed the scenario to play out in the set 12 turns and come right down to the wire in a nail-biting finale means that they have to be called a success. The dithering Austrian commanders were held up a few times with poor command rolls, and this added to the tension of the race against time in this scenario. Once in close range both firefights and combat are quick and bloody - no dilly-dallying with these rules. Areas that I need to commit to memory more are the movement rules for wheeling and moving to the left or right, and the different types of charge reaction. 
So... did I enjoy them? Resoundingly, yes I did. As a I play more games and pick up a few of the nuances of the rules, I expect that they will become a game that is second nature to play with little reference to the rulebook at all. The key is to play another game soon, so that the rules remain fixed in my tiny little mind.

As for the campaign,

'Your Majesty
I must report that the Austrians have forced my right flank, and as such my current advanced positions are now untenable. I have given orders to retreat to the Rotwasser river and establish a new line there. I have reconnoitered it and believe it to be eminently suitable for defence. The troops are in motion as I write this.

Your humble servant
Balthasar, Graf von Pritzwalk

Leading us onto the next scenario, which is a fighting rearguard.