Sunday 24 February 2019

Cotswold Wargaming Day 2019

I'm pleased to say that my chum Keith Flint has kindly decided to organise another Cotswold Wargaming Day this year. Details can be found on his Blog:

I and others who attended last year thought the show was a great success. The venue is great as there was plenty of room and the whole day was very relaxing and full of good natured banter. What more could you want from a games show?

This year I have volunteered to put on some games from Bob Cordery's 'The Portable Wargame' stable. Certainly there will be some mid 19thC Imagin-Nations gaming, possibly even some Napoleonics. I'm awaiting delivery of his 'Gridded Naval Battles' so there could even be some little ships to push around, which could be fun. More details will appear on my Blog in due course.

I hope to see some of you there and maybe even cross swords on the day.

Sunday 17 February 2019

A Brief Encounter - A Portable Wargame AAR

Earlier in the week I set up another small Portable Wargame, nominally set in the mid 19thC. I chose a fairly simple scenario, with both sides advancing towards the objective of a small town on a main road. For this game I wanted to try the card activation system as set out in the book, plus some random force selection, using the one created by Neil Thomas in his excellent 'Wargaming 19thC Europe 1815 - 1878'. The forces created were as follows:

6 x Line Infantry (1 x Elite, 1 x Poor)
1 x Skirmishers (Rifles)
1 x Cavalry
2 x Rifled Field Artillery

4 x Infantry (1 x Elite)
1 x Skirmishers (Rifles)
3 x Cavalry (1 x Poor)
2 x Rifled Field Artillery

I allowed each force to have one Elite unit and one Poor unit, purely decided by my whims and nothing else.

With everything set up, I managed to find some time for the game whilst SWMBO was out for an hour or so in the evening. The following will hopefully give an idea of how the battle unfolded.

The Red force decided to concentrate its artillery either side of the road, with a stronger right wing, with the weaker left wing hoping that the woods would help protect their flank. The Blue force put their artillery more towards their flanks, with a cavalry heavy right wing, with which they hoped they might be able to turn the Red's flank.

The Ref force got an early run on the cards, managing to push forward in almost a straight line. The Blue force had to make do with some patchy turns, but managed to get their Elite infantry into the town, which they hoped would be able to hold out whilst the rest of their force moved up.

The Red force managed to get some fire superiority going, which led to the loss of a Blue force artillery unit as well as pushing the Elite Blue infantry unit back towards the rear of the town. The Blue force was having more luck with their cavalry, slowing pushing the Red force's left wing back, but both sides die rolls in close combat were pretty poor.

The Blue force was struggling under the combined weight of artillery fire, which caused their centre to move towards their left wing to seek some shelter behind the town. Both Blue cavalry units kept up the pressure on the flanks, but their hits were pushing them towards their Exhaustion Point.

In the end the Blue force were unable to inflict enough hits on the Red force before they reached their Exhaustion Point, leaving them unable to prosecute their attacks. Also they had several units close to breaking, so wisely decided to make an orderly retreat from the table, which Red allowed them to do as they consolidated their postion.

Well that was another highly enjoyable game, which gave plenty of interesting decisions to make as the game progressed. For the most part both sides were tied on taking hits, but once Red got the advantage on Blue, they didn't let go. So it could have gone either way which was nice.

Post Game Thoughts
My usual post match musings in no particular order:
  • I really enjoyed using Neil Thomas' random force table, which gave a nice subtle difference to both sids forces. I will certainly use this again and will probably create my own variant, with based one upon Prussia, the other Austria.
  • I think 10 units a side is about as much as my board size can handle, without it becoming over crowded and static. 8 units might be ideal as it allows for a little bit more manoeuvre, but might result in a too quick game. Some more play testing required on this one. 
  • In all of the game so far, close combat has taken ages to resolve, mainly due to some really poor die rolling by both sides. I might tweak things a bit to speed things up, but will hang fire until I've got more games under my belt. 
  • Skirmishers will be a requirement for future games and these will be based upon the rifle armed infantry as per the rulebook. I think I will penalise them slightly in close combat and make them ignore terrain penalties, other than rivers etc. Again testing required on this.
  • Artillery needs some rules for canister. I think the Napoleonic book has some rules on this so will check. If not, some bonuses to die rolls or results at say 2 squares range to reflect the effects of a whiff of grapeshot. 
  • The game lasted about 45 minutes tops, which was perfect for this evenings game. It didn't feel too quick or too simple, but would be nice to play against an opponent to see what, if any, difference this would make. 
  • The card activation sequence I really liked as it gave a nice feeling of command and control issues for both sides to deal with. I will certainly be using this sytem in future games. 
  • I have the Napleonic version of these rules and hope to have a more detailed read through of them soon, to see if there is anything I can use with the original rules. I have some Commission Figures mdf Napoleonic figures painted up, plus some other somewhere amongst my lead mountain. I need to dig these out to see if there is enough to make 2 forces, which if I'm lucky there might be. 
  • Previously I wondered whether to go down the square or hex route. After some games I am firmly  in the square camp. The game play is simple to work out and I prefer the visual look.
So my next task it to put together two painted forces plus some bespoke terrain to really get things going. Given the small nature of the forces required, this shouldn't be too much of a challenge, even for a slow painter like myself. Famous last words of course!
Other things on the gaming front include setting up a small BKCII  campaign to be played with Adam as and when time allows for us to meet up. Normandy is easy to do, but I'm drawn to sicily again, purely so I can use my Italians and some of their hopelessly outdated kit. A glutton for punishment springs to mind.
I have also ordered a copy of Bob's Gridded Naval Rules which should arrive any day now. I've never really been taken with naval wargames, but these look like they will float my boat, if you'll excuse the pun. They can also be combined with the Portable Wargames rules for some combined actions, which always gives a nice look and challenge. There is also the temptation of scratch building your own fleet, which fits in rather nicely with my Imagi-Nations ideas of the protaganists having a shared border along a lake, similar in size to those that you see in Austria. 
Lots to do so until next time.

Friday 8 February 2019

The Portable Wargame

I had planned on not really buying any rules this year, given that I have loads, very few of which I actually get to play. But a case of the flu last week saw me perusing several Blogs which resulted in some retail therapy in the form of the following books by Bob Cordery:

I had considered the first one a year or so ago, but it didn't seem to float my boat at the time, given that it involved the use of squares or hexes. Things have moved on since then with games of both 'To the Strongest' and 'For Kind & Parliament', all of which use a gridded table and which i have thoroughly enjoyed. The second one is Bob's latest offering, which looked good and was a reasonable price.

The books duly arrived a few days ago and I eagerly opened the packages. My first impression was that the books were rather smaller than I had expected, but appearances can be deceptive. Both were given a quick flick through and I must say I was very impressed with what I saw. I particularly liked the history part of gridded games but I was really taken with the rules themselves. They were well presented and explained, being simple to grasp but with enough detail to give a good game. So I was very happy with my purchases!

So some free time today saw me dig out my small gridded 2' x 2' board, some terrain and my trusty wooden blocks to give the rules a quick run through, which can be seen below:

Despite this being my first game, everything flowed really well and felt very intuitive and I picked up the basics almost straight away. Re-reading the rules after the game, I only made one mistake, which is not bad for a first game. Most importantly I enjoyed the game and the rules themselves. So below are some initial thoughts on the rules:

  • They do what they say on the tin. It would be very easy to make a truly portable game, similar in most respects to DBA boards that I've seen at competitons. The terrain can be as simple or as detailed as you want to make it, but something of the 'Old School' look attracts me for these rules.
  • The rules themselves are very good, with a nice combination of simplicity and detail. Bob sets his stall out early on and encourages you to tweak things to suit your style of play if you feel the need.
  • The rules work well for solo play and Bob gives some ideas of ways to help with this. I went for the simple DBA 'Pips' approach which worked well and was very easy to use. I may try the card system later on, but for now I'll stick with the 'Pips'.
  • I'm not sure whether to try the game using hexes, or to stick with squares. Both have their merits, but from my first game, the hexes give you a better firing arc, especially for units with muskets. However using squares does force a more regimented approach to your units given that you can only really shoot straight ahead.
  • One thing I like about these rules is that you can very easily set up pick up games with minimal effort and relatively few figures. Perfect for those times when you don't have the motivation or time to set up a more complex game, which seems to be the norm these days.
  • You can use pretty much any basing system you want, but most likely I will go down the 25mm or 30mm square route, so that the units can still be used for Bloody Big Battles, Black Powder etc.

Given the ease of setting up a game, my aim is to get some more games in this weekend. Then there is the small issue of making some bespoke terrain and a board, but that can wait for the moment. Easy to do but I really should focus on some figures first. Until next time.