Monday, 23 April 2018

A One Hour Wargame with Featherstone style rules

Over the weekend I did some work on tweaking a Donald Featherstone ruleset that appeared in 'Campaigning with the Duke of Wellington and Featherstone'. This is basically the same set that was used in the Peninsular War book he wrote for Argus books in the 1990s and similar to the rules in the recently republished 'Wargaming the American War of Independence'. In the original rules combat is resolved by the target unit rolling percentage dice. 5 hits and the unit was done for, although a d6 roll would decide if it retreated or routed before that point.

In order to make this a bit more simple and intuitive for me, I transformed it from the target rolling percentage dice to the attacker rolling a d10. This required very little tweaking, and on top of it I added some basic command rules and force morale rules. A few clarifications were added, just to remind myself or opponents about fields of fire etc, but the guts of the rules fits on 3 sheets of paper, which I expanded to 4 with a cover, so that I could print it out as a booklet on A4.

Next I altered the rules to fit the American Civil War, which was very simple to do, using some ideas from the rules in 'Featherstone's Complete Wargaming'. So today, having not been balloted for jury duty this morning (phew), I had time to come home and play a quick game.

With the Napoleonics being totally unready for play, I chose the American Civil War collection, and rolled a scenario out of Neil Thomas'One Hour Wargames  (no. 13 - Escape). I then rolled up the makeup of the two rival sides as well. Apologies that some of the units in this game are unpainted - both sides rolled cavalry which are next on the list to paint, and the Union rolled Zouaves, which are also awaiting their turn to be coloured in.

The game starts with one Confederate unit on the board dfending the road (right). The Union has to bust through them and get 3 units off. This photo is in turn two, where units show up on the hill in the left rear. An infantry unit is about to be placed next to the artillery as well. Note the Union cavalry at the top of the picture. They're about to be very important.

In turn 4 The cavalry managed to get around the back of the 4th Texas, who were also charged frontally by the 46th Pennsylvania. Note the top corner where the Indiana Regiment is about to be destroyed. It as their own fault - any sensible unit would have retreated, but they stood in front of the guns, rolling sixes for morale.

In the same turn Confederate reinforcements arrived. The cavalry made a beeline for the Zouaves, who were in column, but didn't quite have the distance to reach. 

The 4th Texas is surrounded and wiped out. The general survives, but beats a hasty retreat.

The Zouaves have time to change formation and launch a volley. The Michigan troops in the woods also open up on the 3rd Texas. Both units roll '1's for morale! With the general over 12"away, they won't rally!

The first two Union regiments leave the board (to the right).

In turn five the last Confederate unit shows up - a battery - and then promptly rolls a 1. The Confederates fail their Brigade morale for having lost over 50%, but the Union was bound to get a third unit off the board within a couple of turns. 
Union victory! Both sides only had one unit each destroyed by enemy action, but the Confederates also lost 2 units to rout, and this was the game winner for the Union. Had the general come on with the reserves (which he could have), he would have been in a much better position to rally his fleeing units.

The rules worked well, even in this small a game. Everything was intuitive, there was very little calculation needed (working out the differential in melee is about as hurtful for the brain as it gets), and the outcomes rewarded sensible tactics, while also reflecting a little bit of luck. By the time the armies are fully painted I'm expecting to have 4-5 brigades a side, so it is good to start small first.

In their current form you can find them here.


Thursday, 19 April 2018

Tremble ye Royalist Scum!

I'm not happy. Who stole my catnip?!
Gordon McWhiska is the last of my merry band for Burrows and Badgers. He's their leader, and descended from a line of Scottish Wildcat clan lairds in Glenkitty. In the background of the photos can be seen his ancestral home - Dunkitty Keep - destroyed in a 'punitive' raid by the Royal army. What makes the King of Northymbra think McWhiska needs to be punished is beyond him - his raiding is no different to what generations of Glenkitty animals have been doing.

Anyway, his wasn't the only home destroyed and there are some angry Wild Beasts ready to join him in their own 'punitive' raids!

For Glenkitty!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Team Yankee weekend

It seems like an age ago, but last Saturday John, Mike, Craig and myself got together to play several games of Team Yankee. We did it as a mini-tournament with 100 point forces each, Craig taking Soviet T-72s and Afgantsy; John running a US armoured company and Marine LAV company; Mike a British Armoured company; and me with my West Germans.

We all met at John's place at around 9am where he had two tables set up. Of course the games didn't manage to kick off for an hour and so I was worried we wouldn't be able to fit all three games in. I needn't have been concerned. We actually finished before the planned time of 5.30. Team Yankee is fun, and quick.

First round was Myself vs. John and Mike vs. Craig. Mike and I both had minor victories.
First game against John saw half his forces in delayed reserves. He deployed his Abrams HQ far too forward, especially when I used Spearhead to deploy my Leopards up close.

First turn saw me brew up his Abrams

I shot down a Warthog, but its mate took out one of the Leopards.
All the fighting started to converge around the objective marker that I'd placed.

By the end of the game it looked like a parking lot was on fire. My Jaguars and infantry in the buildings secured the win.

Over on table 2 Mike and Craig battled it out.

Mike, get out of the picture!

Game two saw me fighting on table 2 against Mike in an encounter scenario - everything on the board. Mike basically sat this game out in ambush while I banged my head against him. It didn't help that he was testing morale at 3+, not 4+. One day I'll forgive him...

Refused right falnk with an exposed objective just trying to lure Mike out of cover where my Jaguars and Leopards could mince him. He didn't fall for it.

On the left flank my Leopards were hull down, but some good shooting by all of his at assets wrecked my platoon.

Hull down isn't much good against Harriers... Mike is planning to replace this 1/72 model from John's collection with Battlefront ones.
 In the end Mike narrowly won. No pictures of Craig vs John, but let's just say it was the only 5-2 win of the day.
Craig obviously had his blood up for the next game after his great victory. He and I both had delayed reserves in this scenario. In the first couple of turns I had wiped out a T-72 company, killed some infantry and was charging over the hill to secure an objective before reserves could appear. In so doing I exposed my side armour to a Carnation Battery (I didn't think about them moving and firing with direct fire). My attack was torn apart and when my reserves were slow to arrive, there was little more I could do. Thanks to my early efforts this was a 4-3 victory to Craig.
The valley of death - first for the Soviets and then for the West Germans
At the end of the day Craig took the most points with 12, Mike had 11, I had 10 and John had 9. So relatively close scores, and I learned a few things about all of the armies.
On Sunday, before Craig returned home I did a deal with him. I exchanged my West German army for the British, German and French Great War armies, not because I didn't enjoy Team Yankee, far from it, but because I wanted to concentrate on Soviets. I'm the only local Red Army player so I figure I'll be fielding these guys most of the time. Saturday night I devised a T-64 list and on Sunday morning Craig and I played another game.
The initial set-up
I didn't take photos of the entire battle, as it didn't last long and I spent an inordinate amount of it getting clobbered! I put my BMP recon forward and used spearhead to get a company of T-64s close to the Germans on the right flank. I knew I was attacking and wanted to maximise the first turn. So I charged the T-64s onto the hill. This had the double bonus of bringing the Jaguars inside missile range so they couldn't fire back, and causing Craig a nasty shock as he didn't realise T-64s could go 35cm in a move.
But then I discovered the achilles heel of the Soviets - their skill rating. I had assumed I'd line up o nthe hill and manage to kill both leopards in front of me, but my tanks failed their skill checks and bogged down. I ended up with 4 barrels rather than 6 facing the enemy at point blank range and the best they could manage was a bail result. Needless to say that by the next turn my attack was in pieces. With no air power in my list Craig used his Gepards to come around my flank and kill my BMPs and then my Shilkas. Somehow the HQ Leopard sat in the open and saw off 3 T-64s before succumbing. The bright spot was my Geckos (in black in the above photo), which took out the German helicopters very quickly, and the RPGs that took care of the Pumas. Aside from that, it was a sorry performance. So what did I learn?

1. Choppers are fragile, but air power is important, and preferably in units of 4 so that they don't have to take a morale check in the first turn if they lose a buddy.
2. Poor Soviet skill ratings make artillery useless for indirect fire. Either don't bother, or expect to be making direct fire shots.
3. Stay away from moving through terrain when you can. Again, the skill rating of 5+ will see you get stuck 66% of the time.
4. Keep your BMPs back so that they can survive to get a shot away. To this end, I plan to make them my infantry carriers, instead of recon, and I'll use the 1 point of the BRDM scouts to give me a Spearhead deployment if necessary.
5. A second anti-air option is always useful, especially if it can also fire at infantry and vehicles (which the SAMs can't).

I've ordered 4 Hinds and a couple of Shilkas to supplement the army now, based on my experiences and the lessons learned over the four games.
Despite my decision to concentrate on Soviets, I sold some figures and ordered some more Leopard 2s (love that tank). This time I'm intending to build a Dutch army. I've started it by getting two boxes of the Kampfgruppe Muller box set, so I'll also have 4 choppers, as per note 1 above. I'll be getting Free Nations as soon as it appears, and, I hope, unit cards for the Dutch Army. I'm thinking that Gepards, infantry in YPR IFVs, armoured cars and some Leopard 1s (love these tanks too) will fill out the 100 points.

It was great to have Craig come to stay. In the past couple of years I've painted for him and chatted a couple of times in person, but its the first time we've actually played games together. I'm hopeful that we can do it again later in the year. As for team Yankee - I'm hooked!
And just to finish off, some pics of the British Infantry that I painted for Mike:


Friday, 13 April 2018

The Wildbeasts expand their numbers

Having finished Mike's Cold War British Infantry I turned to my pet project (pun intended). I've decided that my little warband for Burrows and Badgers will be a Wildbeasts warband, and when I expand it I will be buying some more warrior figures (my eyes are on the Black Rat, Clan Ferret and Marmot merc). But for now I've kept with the theme suggested by the Sparrow Warrior's Tartan: green and gold. These are my old school colours, but it isn't nostalgia, rather aesthetics that draws me to that combination. It is unfortunate that they also happen to be the colours of Australia (my school rugby team were confused for Aussie tourists more than once), but hopefully their performance on the battlefield will remove that stain of shame­čśë.

My beginning warband, minus their leader. The Wildcat is on his way though.

Dormouse with sling. My ranged warrior.

Mole Mercenary. After time fighting in foreign countries, he has returned to his home in the borderlands to help his compatriots.

Squirrel Witch. Casting a nature-based spell.

The new additions together.
And my rulebook was posted off to me this week! Can't wait.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

Liberation Time (now with extra vodka)!

Yes, the glorious Soviet Army is finally ready to liberate the Western world of capitalism, imperialism and their denim jeans!
Doesn't seem that many...

Craig arrives on Friday, and Saturday will be our inaugural Team Yankee tournament, between him, me, John and Mike. Mike's army will hopefully be pretty much painted; Craig's is now finished; with typical German efficiency mine was the first one completed; and John's should hopefully be glued together by the weekend­čść!

The games will feature some Blue on Blue unfortunately, but that can't be helped. My Soviets are put together but I wouldn't dare field them naked! Besides, I really want to take the West Germans for a run.

OK, maybe it is many.

Steel legions of the Red Army - T-72s.

The commander has dozer blades - probably to shift dead T-72s out of the way.

Afgantsy heavy weapons.

The Hind. Six of these babies in the army. Time to get the AA rattling!

Afgantsy company commander. The army includes 2 formations.

Shilkas. These little fellas are devastating to aircraft.

Carnations. What is a Soviet army without heavy artillery support?
So in a week I'll hopefully have a few battle reports for you. My next goal is finishing Mike's British infantry. They're already started so shouldn't take too long.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Spartans win again, and Pike and Shot DBA

Taking advantage of the fine weather over Easter, the family once again packed up and went to the beach. This time I took some DBA with me to play in the evenings. The Spartans and Persians fit nicely into a single layer of foam tray, and even though neither are a littoral army, they were quite excited about going to the coast.
I got to play one game, and it went like this:
Persians choose the battleground and scrunch up the Spartan deployment.
Plough are out of play in the first turn and the lines advance towards each other. Not a sensible Persian tactic really...

The Persian left prepares to cross the river and outflank the Spartans, if possible. Persian Shooting is ineffective.

One turn of combat and the Persians lose three elements. This wasn't even a contest...
So that brings the running total of games between these two to Spartans 5, Persians nil. It might be time to go fight some other people, Persia...

While away I was working on a Pike and Shot variant of DBA, and when I got back I blu-taked some metal to bases to try them out. This is Swedes vs Imperialist in the Thirty Years War:
Swedes to the right, Imperialists to the left. Most of the shot is classified as 8Sh, double based and containing pikes o nthe element.
The Swedish left struggles to get out of the enclosure, while the German mercenary Pistols head around the woods on an outflanking mission, only to be held up by Croatian Light Horse. 

A few units have been killed here. Artillery proved effective, as did some of the shooting. The Swedish Dragoons in the enclosure were getting the better of their opposite for most of the game.

The decisive turn. The artillery duel saw the Swedes knock out the Imperialist artillery on the hill, and the Fast pistols on the Swedish left drove into the enemy formation, killing a Cuirassier (Solid Pistols). One more turn and I daresay those same chaps would have been toast, as they had no support, but by this stage the Imperialists were defeated.

The dead, Imperialist in the foreground.
I'll upload my DBA Renaissance variant here after a bit more playtesting, but I have to admit to liking how the rules are doing so far.

Last night I watched Tony Aguilar's video of Persians getting beaten by Athenians (so it isn't just me), and realised that I had based my double foot elements incorrectly. For some reason I thought all double foot elements were 30mm deep, but no, Bow (and therefore Shot) are meant to be 40mm deep. So a rebasing operation has been commenced this morning, on both the Persians and the 30YW.

Finally, hello to Mikayla, Alex and Laura, who were probably hoping that this post would have more anthropomorphic animals featured. Sorry - it's a busy life...