Monday 31 December 2018

End of Year Review 2018

Well another year is drawing to a close so, as has become customary on many Blogs, it's time to look back over the year on what has, hasn't worked etc. So without further ado...

Rules Bought
Dawns & Departures PDF for Sharp Practice II
For King & Parliament
Bolt Action 2nd Edition
The War Game by CS Grant
Glory Hallelujah supplement for BP
Battlegroup Panzergrenadier
Saga (first edition)

Once again a somewhat varied set of purchases on the rules front. 'The War Game' was bought to fill a hole in my collection of early wargaming books and it was an enjoyable read. I doubt I would ever use the rules, but it is nice to see how different authors approach things. I surprised myself by buying 'Bolt Action 2' as the rules didn't attract me first time around. However I was pleasantly surprised when I read them, being relatively simple but with enough detail for yours truly. I think they will scratch the itch that is skirmish level gaming in and around WWII, something that Battlegroup failed to do, despite being a good set of rules. 'FK&P' I helped proof read early in the year and they are a great set of rules. Sadly I have yet to play a full game with them, but this is something I hope to address in the New Year, given that I have plenty of figures for this period but, failing that, Ican use my wooden blocks.

Wargaming Books Bought
Oliver Wiswell - an AWI novel
The Iliad - theRobert Fagle translation
Warfare in the Classical World by Peter Connolly
Pike & Shot by CS Grant 
Monmouth's Rebels: the Road to Sedgemoor by Peter Earle
The Battle of Killiecrankieand the 1st Jacobite Rebellion
Operation Goodwood - an aerial view
History of British Tank Development by David Fletcher (Father's Day gift)
The Diaries of Horace St Paul
To Hell & Back by Ian Kershaw
Osprey Operation Market Garden series
Osprey Atlantic Wall Defences
Osprey French Revolutionary Wars Campaign book 
Uniforms of the French Revolutionary Wars by Haythornthwaite
Battleground - Juno Beach
Stopping the Panzers

On the surface quite a mixed bag of purchases, but there is method in my madness as it were. Broadly speaking they broke down into:
  • WWII background info for future BKCII campaigns.
  • Some Ancients inspiration.
  • The Glorious Revolution background reading.
  • SYW background reading.
  • AWI inspiration for a future campaign. 
Not all have been read and, as is my want, many are part read and on the go as it were. The 'Stopping the Panzers' and 'Operation Goodwood' books were superb reads and very enlightening and come highly recommmended. Ditto the 'Diaries of Horace St Paul' which really gives you a feel of what it was like to be on campaign in the SYW as well as the general 'fog of war' as to where you enemy was and what they were up to or planned to do.
Miniatures Bought
Pendraken AWI & F&IW for Rebels & Patriots 
League of Augsburg reinforcements for FK&P/Baroque
WWII additions
1859 Italians for BBB & ImagiNations
SYW British
Jacobite '45
Leven Miniatures buildings 

Not too many minatures bought this year, but all were for specific projects that failed to make head way or have yet to be started. 

Miniatures Painted
Scratch built ruined buildings
British Inter-War tanks
British Recce Armoured Cars
German Pz IV's
German Tiger I
Stug III 105mm Assault Gun
Char Saint-Chamond
Pendraken ECW for The Pikemen's Lament rules

At least this year felt like I had painted more miniatures than last year, but still not as many as I would have liked. The very hot Summer didn't help as it was too hot to paint. The perennial problem of not having a dedicated space was ever present, which now our daughter is at Uni, I may be able to address.

Operation-Market Garden for BKCII
Rebels & Patriots Campaign
The Pikemen's Lament Campaign 

Frankly my Market-Garden campaign failed completely, despite my best intentions, ditto the Rebels & Patriots one. I did manage a start on The Pikemen's Lament one, but this then stalled in the run up to Xmas. Campaigns are something I plan to do more of next year, but more on this later.

Games Played
Rebels & Patriots - 5 
To the Strongest - 2
The Pikemen's Lament - 8
Honours of War - 2
Trimsos - 1
Black Powder - 1 

A very funny year, with a flurry of playtesting for Rebels & Patriots in January, followed by the odd game or two until Summer, when all gaming stopped due to the wonderful and rather warm weather. Things picked up in the Autumn, with a late flurry whilst at home on post-op recovery in November & December. Still not bad at two games per month, but could do better.

Wargames Shows Attended
Cotswold Wargaming Day

Only 3 shows this year, with one being the inaugural Cotswold Wargaming Day, which was excellent. Salute was as busy and overwhelming as always, but with better games on display this year. Once again I was helping out with Michael Leck's game, which was good, but is always a long and busy day. Colours was nice as I met up with some friends, but other than that not a lot to attract me as a punter, but more on this later. 

End of Year Thoughts
I think it's always a bit tricky to sum up a wargaming year, but I hope the following give a flavour of my thoughts and feelings this year as well as plans for next year. So in no particular order:

  • It was a very stop-start year, with no real momentum to any of my gaming, projects or painting. A lack of a regular opponent meant there was no real focus either. It's funny how a planned game in a week or so really focuses the mind to get things finished etc. The wonderful Summer certainly meant that all gaming took a back seat for quite some time as frankly I wanted to enjoy being outside as much as possible.
  • The above then had a knock on effect on my painting and gaming. No deadlines meant that projects slipped or were supplanted in the painting queue or my mind wandered onto other projects. Very lax of me I know.
  • Next year I aim to try and restore one night a week as my regular gaming night, coupled with running some narrative campaigns to help maintain focus. This will help on all levels and even though most games will be solo, I think it's the best way to address the issues of this year.
  • This year I tried once again to get into Ancients gaming. Afterall there are so many colourful and exotic armies to choose from, talk less of some excellent rulesets out there. But honestly I just haven't been able to. I don't know why, but that's how it is. So I decided to stick with skirmish level games such as 'Lion Rampant' and to a period I love, namely the 'Dark Ages' and the Vikings and Saxons etc.
  • This year I cancelled my subscription to 'Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy' magazine. Despite being the best out there IMHO, it simply didn't offer enough interest to me. To be honest I find more inspiration in various Blogs I follow and the ever excellent 'Warning Order' e-magazine.
  • Two Blogs I have enjoyed this year are Battlefields & Warriors and Carryings On Up The Dale , both of which have ben consistently excellent and inspirational. Both have run some great campaigns, whether via Boargames of with figures. As various Blogs seem to have withered away, it is nice to see these keeping going and with interesting output.
  • This year I was diagnosed with prostate cancer which, following a successful operation, I am thankfully free of. This has not unsurpisingly focused my mind somewhat on what is and isn't important. On the gaming front this means off loading minatures I know in all honesty I'll never get around to finishing or even starting, as well as focussing on projects and periods I really enjoy. I'm sure the wargames butterfly will flap her wings now and then, but focus is my aim moving forward.
So there we have it, 2018 in review and some plans for 2019. My first project & campaign will be a BKCII one, given that this is a period I love and also have plenty of miniatures already painted for it. More on this in the coming days and weeks.

All that remains therefore is to wish you all a 'Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!'

Saturday 8 December 2018

Operation Infamy - a BKCII AAR

Slightly later than planned, Adam came over for a game of BKCII. We had met quite a few times at Keith's house, where we tended to be on the receiving end of Prussian fire, but we enjoyed the challenge of playing the Austrians. So it was nice to have the chance to meet up and play something different and against each other.

Adam left the choice of scenario etc to me as we would be using my toy soldiers. After toying with the idea of Sicily or Italy '43, I plumped for good old Normandy 1944, mainly because I had just finished reading the excellent Stopping the Panzers by Marc Milner, about the first few days of the Canadians in Normandy. It also gave Adam a wide chocie of troops types to play with in terms of selection.

Scenario wise I wanted to try something I hadn't played in a while, if at all, and so went for Scenario 3: Counter-Attack from the BKCII rulebook. Recent games had featured some dug-in troops, so this stood out because the Defender has no access to any Field Defences, which would certainly be a challenge when almost certainly facing quite a bit of Allied air and ground support. I send Adam some pics of the table layout so that he could plan his attack as well as aid him choosing his Battlegroup, which can be seen below along with my German one.

German OOB
1 x CO (9)
2 x HQ (8)
9 x Fallschirmjager Infantry units
3 x MG units
1 x Pak-40 ATG unit
3 x 81mm Mortar units
1 x 120mm Mortar unit
1 x LG 40 IG unit
3 x Stug III units
1 x StuH-42 unit

British OOB

1 x CO (9)
2 x HQ (8)
2 x FAO (8)
1 x FAC (8)
1 x Recce Infantry unit
2 x Humber A/C 37mm Recce units
8 x Veteran Infantry units
1 x MG unit
1 x 3" Mortar unit
2 x 6pdr ATG units & tows
2 x Churchill 75mm units
1 x Churchill Crocodile unit
2 x Sherman Firefly units
2 x Typhoon (rockets ) units
3 x 25pdr Artillery units
1 x 5.5" Artillery unit
3 x HE Assets
1 x Smoke Asset
2 x Groundattack Assets

Having got Adam settled in after his drive down in some torrential rain and after the usual pre-game chat, we pretty much got stuck straight into the game. I didn't take any notes, but quite a few pics which should jog my memory and if nothing else, give an idea of how the game played out.

The start of the game, with the British arriving via the Western table edge using mobile deployment. Adam chose not to use flank deployment, which i had been expecting and had deployed my forces as a result of this.

Originally I wasn't going to occupy the town, but changed my mind at the last minute. Hmmm, big mistake!

Another Company deployed in the wood, expecting flank deployment and wanting to be hidden from view at the start of the game.

My reserve in the centre, deployed slightly in depth, trading space for time.

The view from the British jumping off point.

The British battlegroup in all its glory.

The start of Turn one, with scheduled air and artillery strikes a plenty.

The Typhoon did some damages straight away as they strafed the town unhindered by AA fire as my HQ was in the town. Adam was right and I should have had some AA units to hand.

The 3 25pdr batteries annihilated a Company of infantry and a Stug III. Ouch! with a Breakpoint of only 10, this was a bad, bad start.

Smoke shielded the British advance, although their left flank didn't arrive.

The British infantry pushed up nice and fast although the Churchill support was a tad tardy.

The end of Turn 2 and the British are pushing up right across the board.

More Typhoon attacks see the infantry in the town stay suppressed and therefore unable to fire on the advancing British. Damn those Jabos!!!

The Churchill tanks arriving to try and lend support to the attack.

The British armour on the left flank arrives, with infantry support, and pushed on towards the town.

As the German troops dig-in, their mortars have taken out the British 6pdr ATGs, which is small comfort indeed.

The end of Turn 3.

Failed command rolls sees the British attack start to falter.

The left flank pushes on through the town.

The end of Turn 4 and still the British are stalled in front of the town.

More 25 pdr fire has wiped out the German dug-in troops and the Stug III is suppressed and unable to fire on the advancing tanks. Not good at all.

The end of Turn 5 and the British attack starts to get moving, but only just. The Typhoons however have continued to decimate the German troops in the town. the Germans have reached their Breakpoint, but manage to pass the Command Roll with flying colours!

At last, the Germans start to fight back, with combined arms seeing the destruction of a Firefly and Humber A/C. With the British Breakpoint at 9, their losses are starting to mount. 

Turn 6 and it's 'Gotterdamerung' for the Germans.

Adam, determined to get his Churchill Crocodile into action, only manages to Blunder and inflict hits upon himself, which is more than the Germans have been able to do!

The way is open for the British to advance deep into German held territory.

Post Game Thoughts
Well that was a fun and rather bloody game, where the Germans might have sneaked it towards the end, if they hadn't lost so many units in the first turn.We didn't have chance for a post-match chat, as Adam had to dash off to get home in time for the end of school, so instead I'll just post my thoughts on the game:

  • Adam was a great opponent and we will resume hostilities in the New Year. It's always nice playing against someone new to see how they approach force selection, troop deployment etc. It certainly keeps things fresh and is way more fun than solo games.
  • As Adam stated, this is quite a tricky scenario for the Defender, as they have no access to any field defences. We used the optional rule from BKCI where troops can dig-in as an Inititative action, but we gave them a 5+ to hit roll and a 6+ save. I think I need to play this scenario again just to see how it pans out.
  • I deployed my troops expecting at least one flank attack, which failed to materialise. This led to me being somewhat isolated and struggling to get into the game due to the omnipresent British artillery. But that's the fun and challenge of the game, hainvg to react to these unforeseen circumstances.
  • The British artillery was deadly, but then it was historically. Enough said.
  • The same could be said of the air support. As Adam said, you really need AA units and boy was he right! My HQ in the town was simply unable to try and limit the Typhoon attacks as you cannot fire out of BUAs against air attacks. Lesson learnt and AA units have now been assembled in advance of our next game.
  • At one point I had the opportunity to try and withdraw from the town, which may have helped my situation, but I decided to stay and try and fight it out, only to lose my HQ unit which put pay to that plan.
  • The optional Dig-in rule worked well and will certainly carry on using this in future games. this is slated for a return in BKCIV and so will be interested to see how this works.
  • I know BKCIV has quite detailed plans for Recce, as currently it really doesn't work IMHO.
  • One of the good things from BKCIII was that you could shoot at any Command units if they were the nearest unit to the enemy. I though this was good, especially as it stopped you throwing your FAOs and FACs forward with (almost) impunity. I know I do it and so may re-visit this for my games. I don't know if BKCIV will address this or not or even if it's a big issue for other players.
  • My mortars, when they got their few opportunities to fire, are deadly, but this game I just didn't get the chance. So my newly painted 120mm mortar had little impact and my LG 40 none at all, so both had the the curse of newly painted units. C'est la guerre.

Well this game has certainly spurred me on to finish off lots of stuff I've had in the painting queue for an embarrassingly long time, such as Recce units and AA units. All are now assembled, cleaned up and ready for priming. The plan is then to either kick off my Market-Garden campaign, carry on with my Normandy one or start afresh. There is also the small matter of my 'The Pikemen's Lament' campaign and painting as well. So many choices, so little time...

Friday 30 November 2018

The Pikemen's Lament - Dawn Patrol AAR

I managed to kick off my narrative campaign as planned a few days ago, with it still set in the New World in the 17thC. As yet I'm not sure whether to have it in and around the time of King William's War, or the early part of the century. The former is more tempting as I can include some Salem style witch trials should they take my fancy which could then include some Dragon Rampant 'magic'. Anyway, that's in the future. 

The background fluff has not been fully fledged out, but broadly speaking we have the following to get things going:

Nikolaus Vermuyden. An Ensign in the employ of the Dutch West Indies Company, he is an experienced, but at times brutal officer, who suffers from a wound gained in previous battles in Europe.

Sir Richard Grenville. An Ensign in the employ of the Royal Virginia Company of London, he is relatively inexperienced in battle, but is a strong and patient officer. 

Dawn Patrol.
There have been some minor skirmishes and raids along the borders of the two Companies territories. As such, the powers that be have seen fit to make a show of force, so at to both reassure their folk as well as to intimidate the opposition. Both sides have been patrolling in the early morning and are on their way back to their encampments when they stumble across each other as the morning mist clears.

The English are at the top left, the Dutch the bottom left. Both sides have to try and exit the board in the opposite cornet to their deployment.

The Dutch have 1 x Pike, 1 x Shotte, 1 x Commanded Shotte and 1 x Forlorn Hope.

The English have 1 x Pike, 1 x Shotte, 2 x Commanded Shotte, 1 x Clansmen and 1 x Clubmen.

The Dutch view of the open field in front of them.

The English view.
The Dutch get off to a slow start, but not the English, who are able to move all of their units.

The Dutch throw out a screen of Commanded Shotte into the wood to protect their flank.

The Dutch Shotte to the fore.

The English moving forward with the Commanded Shotte providing a skirmish screen.

The Clansmen on the hill, spoiling for a fight.

The Dutch being outnumbered are finding it hard to pin down the English to slow their escape.

The English trying to find an escape route.

The English continue to edge past the Dutch troops.

The Dutch manoeuvre to try and bring weight of fire to slow down the English.

The Dutch Commanded Shotte being whittled away be English fire.

Despite the English managing to get two units off the board, the Dutch fire is taking a toll on the English.

The three Dutch casualties at the bottom compared to those of the English at the top.

The English bunch together for safety.

The escaping English units.

The Dutch have fire superiority and it shows.

The English casualties continue to rise.

The Dutch mass for the attack.

Sir Richard Grenville with the English Shotte attempts to evade the Dutch...
... but to no avail as the weight of Dutch fire sees the remaining English units rout off the table.

Post Game Thoughts
In the end a rather convincing Dutch victory, but it didn't look like that early on as the English we able to out manoeuvre the Dutch. A fun game and one that lasted about an hour or so all told. So some thoughts on the rules, the game etc:
  • The rules in themselves are incredibly easy to remember, with only occasional reference to the QRS. They might be a tad too simple for some, but as I've said before, I enjoy them and completely get where Dan and Michael are coming from.
  • The scenario was OK, but one that I'm not overtly fond of. I've played similar ones before with other rulesets and they haven't worked for me either. So this is not a criticism of this one, but of this type in general. However it did work as a good start for my campaign.
  • In theory, the English should have won as they got two units off the table, but at the cost of losing the rest of their force. So I decided to call it honours even and award both sides 3 points of Honour. This led to a promotion for Vermuyden, who is now a Lieutenant, gaining another Trait, this time of Strong.
  • This campaign has kick started my painting again, with a unit of Dragoons finished last night and more cavalry to come. Some Native Americans are ready for priming, once the weather warms up a bit.
  • I picked up a model of the Mary Rose for some background interest a week or so ago and so need to paint that up, as well as some coastline. Alongside this I think some Native Americans in canoes could lead to a nice scenario or two.
  • When I have enough units I will have to come up with some names for the, which is rather nicer than calling them Commanded Shotte etc. I also need to add some flags to a few units.
  • I need to either scratch build a few more buildings, or buy some for other scenarios, I'm not sure which yet. Maybe my Leven Miniatures one will make suitable stand in until then.

So plenty to be getting on with and to come up with the next logical scenario. I also need to plan a BKCII game for a weeks time as Adam is coming around for a game, as well as paint up a few units. So until next time...