Sunday 30 September 2018

Biggles and the Valley of the Dollz Adventure - a BKCII AAR

Of late I have been mainly focusing on making terrain (more on that in a later post) to the exclusion of painting and gaming. Today however I simply could not summon up the energy nor interest for more of the same. On the spur of the moment I decided to knock up a quick BKCII game using my AVBCW forces. I grabbed my copy of 'Scenarios for Wargames' by CS Grant and, having had a quick flick through, settled upon 'Scenario 38: Rural Encounter ' as the basis for the scenario. Rather than a straight forward AVBCW game, I decided to broadly set it in Germany some time in the 1930's, with a Bavarian Red Brigade being attacked a coalition of Freikorps. The reason for this was I had just been reading Ian Kershaw's 'To Hell and Back', specifically the period of unrest in the 1920s and 1930s.

In terms of actual force composition, I pretty much grabbed what I fancied for each side, with the Freikorps having a large numerical advantage. This was broadly offset by the fact that they had a large area of terrain to cover before they could reach their objective, or at least that was the plan.

Scenario Details
Captain Biggles has crash landed behind enemy lines. The Red Brigade has sent a small force to secure the area and are awaiting reinforcements. To rescue Biggles, the Freikorps have sent a strong Battalion Kampfgruppe to try and break through the Red Brigade lines before reinforcements arrive.

The game will last 8 Turns.

Table Layout
I used the map from 'Scenarios for Wargames' as a basis of the table layout, with the Dollz river running East to West. More details can be found in the notes to the 'photos.

The Valley of the Dollz river, with the Freikorps on the Western table edge and the Red Brigade in and around the village.

The Red Brigade deployed either side of the village.

Biggles and his plane stranded behind enemy lines.

The Red Brigade holds their T-28 tank in reserve.

An 80mm mortar deployed next to the windmill.

A 75mm Field Gun deployed by a small farmhouse, with a good view down the Valley of the dollz.

The Freikorps at their jumping off points.

The French Freikorps Kompanie and their newly acquired Char St Chamond.

The British Freikorps Kompanie.

The German Freikorps Kompanie.

Turn 1
Things got off to a funny old start, with the French Kompanie positively flying out of the blocks, only for the rest of their Battalion and the Red Brigade to all fail their command rolls.

The French Kompanie push forward on the right flank.

The Red Brigade field gun decided not to opportunity fire, thinking there would be more targets...

Turn 2
This time it was the turn of the British Kompanie to rush forward, passing 5 command rolls in a row. There was some shooting from both sides, with some units suppressed, before the Red Brigade once again failed their command roll.

The Freikorps right flank and centre have pushed forward, but the Germans on the left have yet to play ball. 

The Fench Kompanie push forward and suppress the Red Brigade's field gun.

The British Kompanie have pushed on past the farmhouse with their armour whilst the infantry occupy it.

The Germans; well what can one say?

Turn 3
Finally the Germans get moving, with both sides exchanging fire and suppressing various units. The Red Brigade finally turn up to the game, only for a blunder resulting in their valuable T-28 advancing right out into the open.

The Freikorps Battalion advances on a broad front, attacking the Red Brigade, right, left and centre.

The French Kompanie against the lone field gun.

The action really hotting up in the centre, with the Red Brigade's anti-tank guns duelling with the British Kompanie's armour.

The German Freikorps finally get going.

The Red Brigade's T-28 flanked by some British Kompanie armour and...

... feeling somewhat exposed after the command blunder.

Turn 4
Despite the French Kompanie failing their command roll, the British and German Kompanie's take a toll on the Red Brigade, who lose their mortar and field gun, which is a severe blow. In response, they take out the German A7V, but this is of little comfort.

The Freikorps Battlaion starts to gain the upper hand.

The French Kompanie have an open flank but are unable to exploit the opportunity.

The British Kompanie starting to build up fire superiority.

The A7V brews up which is cold comfort to the Red Brigade.

Biggles rescue appears to be getting closer...

Turn 5
Yet another strange turn, with all of the Freikorps Kompanie's failing their command rolls. In desperation the Battalion CO manages to get through to the British Kompanie, which in 2 turns, one of which was a double 6, manage to destroy the Red Brigade's T-28, an anti-tank gun and MG unit. The Red Brigade simply has nothing to reply with at this point.

The Freikorps Battalion very much in the ascendancy.

The open flank.

There is little left in the centre to halt the British Kompanie.

The A7V is a loss, but...

... not as serious as that of the Red Brigade's T-28.

As the Red Brigade wisely withdraw, Biggle's manages to start his plane and make his ecape.

Post Game Thoughts
Well, for a very quick knock up game, that went well and I very much enjoyed it. It was nice to get the toys back out on the table and especially to 'blood' the Char St Chamond and the Bristol FE2B, although the latter naturally didn't really play any part in the game, other than to look lovely. In terms of the game, some thoughts as always;

  • I've played BKCII so many times now that I rarely have to refer to the QRS or the rulebook, which is great. The one thing I do have to check is when units can be seen or not, which is not always clear. From what I've seen, BKCIV should clarify things, or at leasts that's the hope.
  • Once again mortars can be real game changers as, when they get going, they can bring down an awful lot of fire against exposed infantry etc. Using the house rule of auto-suppression possibly exacerbates this, but then it does feel realistic from what I've read. 
  • I tend to use mortars, and infantry guns for that matter, deployed so that they have line-of-sight where possible, but this comes at the expense of them tending to cop lots of fire early on. Maybe next time I will use them much more in an indirect fire mode, assuming I remember that is.
  • Both sides really had some poor command rolls, but the Red Brigade failing in the first 2 turns really hurt them. 
  • In contrast, the British Kompanie managing to get 3 commands in a row in Turn 5 proved to be the game changer. Sometimes the die rolls just do this too you.

Gaming will be more limited than normal in the next few weeks due to relations coming over, but I hope to get back to my Normandy campaign towards the end of the month, all being well. If nothing else it might spur me on to finish off my German armour that I really need for the next few games...

Saturday 15 September 2018

Colours 2018 - A Day at the Races

Colours has, for a long time, been my favourite wargaming show; it is not too far, it is very easy to get to and has a good mix of traders and demo/participation games in a very nice venue. It also happens to occur at that time of year when my thoughts really turn back to all things wargaming related.

So after a pleasant drive down to Newbury racecourse, I joined the small queue, only for the organisers to walk down the line allowing us to pre-pay to get in, which was great. They also happened to open the doors about 10 minutes early, which was even better.

My first port of call was the Pendraken stand to collect a pre-order of SYW British and '45 Jacobites. After a quick chat with Dave and Leon, I dropped my package off a the car and then headed back in for a first quick wander around. There I met my good friends Craig, who was putting on a demo game and Keith, who like myself, was just a visitor.

I took plenty of pics of the games that interested me and I will try and add comments as I attempt to remember what the games were, as the layout bore little resemblance to that in the printed show guide. No big deal but it did confuse quite a few visitors. So without further ado...

A lovely little late medieval game, put on by Penarth Wargames Society.

The figures were very well painted with some lovely flags on display.

The table looked pretty good to me, with some nice details like the cattle in the foreground.

A lovely looking table with a great ship in the harbour, including an AA gun by the funnel.

I'm not sure if this was Vietnam or modern East Africa. either way it was a great looking game.

Simon Millar and Andrew Brentnall's 'To the Strongest' game which, as always, looked fantastic.

Simon's figures are really a joy to behold.

The village of Soggy Bottom?

Also on display were some of Andrew's wonderful 10mm figures.

The retreat from Moscow in 40mm.

I'm not a big fan of winter based games (it's a visual thing I think) but this looked pretty good.

I didn't get chance to check all of the details on the table, but the sled on the bridge caught my eye.

The Zeebruge raid, 1918 IIRC.

Not sure what scale was being played, but the ships were very, very nice.

1st Chechen War game put on by my fried Craig, using his Beta version rules and his superb Chechen War range of figures.

The table was not complete, but will be for Fiasco in Leeds. However, details such as the teddy bear on the roundabout caught my eye.

All of the terrain was scratch built by Craig and his friend John.

A simply wonderful WWI game. I think they put on a game last year. 

The table was full of nice details, such as this archaeological excavation.

The fort and German base at the far end of the table.

I just loved the plane being towed away.

A view from the Turkish/German lines.

British armoured cars ready to go into action.

A Napoleonic General d'Armee game.

There was lots of action going on spread right across the table.

Fighting erupts around the church.

Operation Goodwood using Rapid Fire rules. A simple but visually pleasing table nonetheless.

The British try to push past a town...

... but brew up in rapid succession.

A Cold War game based upon a board game but using figures rather than counters.

Arnhem 1944. I really wanted to see more of this game but it was rather popular, so was hard to get a good view.

The planes and village looked great.

The table was very long and certainly gave the feel or trying to advance up a single road.

A Society of Ancients game.

A visitor looks less than impressed with another 'line 'em up' Ancients bash;)

A very, very nice Sharpe Practice II game set in Japan towards the end of the 19thC by the look of it.

The buildings and details were wonderful

Samurai and soldiers together. What's not to like?

The enemy the other side of the bridge.

An Ancients game using Swordpoint.

Every self respecting Ancients gamer wants elephants on the table.

Leman from the Pendraken forum and a game of 'Daisho' I believe.

The small table looked great...

... as did the figures.

Post Show Thoughts
Well I hope the pics gave an impression of what was on offer this year. I thought I'd jot down some thoughts on the show in general, so in no particular order:

  • I thought the show was very good this year, with a good mix of demo and participation games on display. Some were of no interest to me at all, such as the Star Wars and What a Tanker games, but they looked to be popular. It was nice to see a mix of scales on show which, being a fan of 10mm, was good as in the past at has been a bit too much 28mm centric.
  • In previous years there hasn't seemed to be much actual playing of the games, but this year I'm pleased to say there was. Lets hope this carries on in future years.
  • As always the social side of a show is important and it was good to meet up with friends, fellow forum members and old club mates. This year I seemed to bump into quite a few, which was a nice bonus.
  • Walking the show with Keith I think gave me a different perspective on things, as he is a dyed in the wool 28mm gamers these days. It certainly made it more enjoyable that's for sure. We were both very impressed by the sheer amount of stuff on offer and, in particular, the quality of laser cut mdf products that has really come on in the past year. Thank God I'm no longer into 28mm games as otherwise the temptation to buy lots of stuff may have been too hard to resist!
  • I did notice that Timecast were not at the show this year and Foundry were noticeable by their absence. I know there has been a trend of some traders of not attending some or all shows over the past few years due to the time and costs involved.
  • The show was very busy for the first few hours, in fact making it quite hard to see some of the tables or traders, but come lunchtime it quietened down quite a lot which made it much easier to have a good look at all that was on offer.
  • The demographic of Colours was noticeably different to that of Salute. The greying of the hobby was very noticeable today but, despite that, the hobby looks to be in remarkable good health, which was very satisfying to see.
  • Both Keith and I enjoyed perusing the bookstalls, with Anita's Books proving to be extremely good value. On the book front it must be 'hats off' to Helion & co for the sheer range of material that they are bringing out, most of it extremely high quality. 

My haul proved to be relatively small, with only an Osprey book on the Jacobite Army for the '45 and some miscast 15mm gabions, which look to be perfect for my 10mm forces, actually bought at the show.

So all-in-all a very pleasant few hours were spent at the show. I always come away enthused to get back to the gaming, modelling or painting table and this year was no exception. I'm not sure what my next show will be, most likely Reveille II in Bristol in early December.