Something of an update.

I’be been a bit quiet on the blogging front recently and that is due to my upcoming megagame eating up all my hobby time. The playtesting and writing is over just now got the production side of things to do…

… I have been getting in the odd game here and there. Tonight was a playtest of some Vietnam mods to 5core Company Commander that Evan is working on ( sorry no pictures). The game before that was my Chechen game- the scenario needs tweaking before we play it again but it looked good- and I did take some pictures:

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A establishing shot of the table- a road that needed to be cleared going through heavily wooded ground.

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Some of my Chechens dug into and ambush position.

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A Russian Vodnik armoured car enters the table.

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Covered by the guns of the AFVs the Russian infantry begins to advance.

As is usual I took loads of photos at the start but then got wrapped up in the game and forgot to take so many. Still endless photos of my Chechens being gunned down by 14.5mm MG fire wouldn’t be a great reflection on my gaming skills now….

 

I was doing some reading on the battles that Army Group Centre was in in 1942 on the Eastern Front late in bed the other night and the thought occured to me that I wasn’t enjoying the book… that got me thinking it was perhaps because it was translated from Russian as I’ve never enjoyed reading any book that has been translated from Russian. Whether it is a history book or Dostoevsky and regardless of who the tranlator is they have never sat well with me. Have any of you noticed this?

 

One more thing of note: I did play in one of those ‘Escape Rooms’ that are very popular at the moment. Basically you are looked in a room and have to solve various puzzles against the clock to win, ours (I went with some of the Pennine Megagames crowd) was submarine themed- that got my vote straight away. We escaped with over 10 mins to spare so we did quite well considering there were lots in our team who’d never played before. Good fun and I’d do one again. No photos from that either as they don’t want to spoil the surprise for subsequent players. The link to the company’s web page is here.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

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New Years Eve game-athon.

Last weekend for NYE my friend Simon came up for a weekend of gaming. We tried to fit as many in as possible and in that regard we did pretty well.

Starting things off on Saturday we played a ‘Cold War goes Hot’ game of 5core: Brigade Commander. Bill had an early finish from work so he brought round a late 1980s British armoured  brigade which he has been working on recently. I decided to umpire so I gave Simon a reinforced Soviet Tank regiment and a pair of Mi24 Hinds. The game went back and forth, with heavy losses on both sides.

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An overview of the table.

The battle swung back and forth with heavy casualties on both side although all of the helicopters survived until the end of the game which is unusual in itself. The brace of Hinds found their role as a QRF. Simon used them to plug the gap when ever Bill’s Challenger tanks opened up a hole in his lines.

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Russian tanks and mech infantry take cover in a wood.

Brigade Commander is a great game imo. It plays really well and is easy to pick up with everyone I’ve shown it too being really favourable to it. I’ve plans to try a large multiplayer game of it soon -ish so watch this space….

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A pair of Hinds covering the tank company in the wood.

Later on that evening Simon and I looked at Nuts! publishing’s Urban Operation boardgame. It started off life being developed as training aid by a serving French Officer before being released as a commercial project. Being a block game it adds a nice bit of fog of war combined with nice chunky playing pieces. The use of generic blocks combined with unit cards allows a large range of scenarios and campaigns to be included. We decided to look at a one off game based around the Russian attack into Grozny in 1996.

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My initial defending positions as the Chechen player.

 

The game handbook suffers a little in its translation and the jargon heavy military style of the rule books could also be looked at for the civilian market but it does provide a good playable modern warfare simulation. It can be frustrating to platy as the rules punish mistakes quite harsly but I suppose that is the point. FIBUA  has never been described as easy. However, the forces in a scenario do provide you with the tools you need to win… as long as you use them wisely.

The next morning, suitable fortified with a fry up we looked at ‘War Plan Orange’, a C3i magazine game that takes GMT’s Empire of the Sun board game of WW2’s pacific war, trims it down and sets it 10 years earlier. It is quite a heavy game requiring a lot of careful planning to get your fleets in the right position.

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Simon’s IJN fleet spreading across the pacific, with suitable reading material to hand.

My luck was not with me. I won the unimportant encounters but 5 of my 6 attempts to take central pacific islands were rebuffed. In the end I ran out of time in the game to either retake territory of inflict an attritional victory. That said I really enjoyed the card driven mechanics and look forward to a second game. Also I’ll keep an eye out for Empire of the Sun too.

Following a trip to WW2 in the pacific we went right up to date and looked at a print and play game that I had made from Yaah! magazine (it was the one I featured in my tutorial a bit back). The game is set around the Russian separatist attempts to take Donetsk airport from the Ukrainians in 2014. For a magazine game the rules were very well laid out and played nicely without the errors that tend to creep into these things.

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The separatists force their way into the airport buildings.

About halfway through the game I had to break off and get some food on te go. Fortunately Chris had turned up so I delegated the defence of the airport to him. With beginners luck and a few judicious decisions he completely pulled around the course of the defeat I had been staring into and won the game. Finding my carefully placed ATGM that I had forgotten about and using it effectively seemed to turn the tide, that and rather aggressive moves with BTR80s. Another game to revisit soon.

After tea and with some beer/cider/whisky we set up another GMT game: Andean Abyss. The first and in some ways the simplest entry into the popular COIN series. Four factions battle for control of Colombia in the late 90s/ early 00s.

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Mid game, FARC are ascendant with two areas designated as FARC zone so no-go areas for the government. 

Playing as a threesome Simon took the government forces, Chris the AUC and myself the FARC. The drug cartels themselves were run through the games flow charts- something that always provides a tough game. Mid game we all called a truce to beat them so we wouldn’t be beaten by a game mechanic. In the end both Simon and I were over our victory conditions but as he was over by the bigger margin the victory went to him.

As the night was still young we dragged out my favourite ‘fun’ game then a laugh: Twilight Creation’s Innsmouth Escape.

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Trying to rescue trapped students from hordes of deep ones.

The human player, me in this instance, has to navigate the board trying to rescue the requisite number of students before escaping the board. The game uses a nice hidden movement mechanic and the waves of re-spawning deep ones generate a tension as you always seem to lose more health than you can heal. In the end I had rescued enough people but was killed before I could exit the board.

On Monday Simon and I had enough time for one final game. We decided upon returning to the naval theme and getting my 1/2400th Russo Japanese ships out. Taking the Japanese I had 2 battleships with 3 cruisers and 3 destroyers to Simon’s 3 battleships and the same number of cruisers and destroyers. My collection is pretty small still so rather than fight out a particular historical battle I just pulled together what I thought would make an interesting game.

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Destroyers may get a lucky hit with their torpedoes but they don’t last long when under the guns of bigger ships.

The rules we used were ‘Tsushima’ from A and A game engineering. Fast playing bckets of dice style rules that give a nice fast game. The opening stages of the game where you move by counters provides a nice tense mini game where you try to jostle for position.

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Right at the end of the game Simon got a critical hit on the bridge of my flagship… even though the battle had gone in my favour the fate of my avatar had to be determined. We gave me a 50% chance of death and a 50% chance of heroic scarring… the dice were kind and after a painful recovery I have some impressive battle damage to show off around Tokyo.

 

On the subject of the Russo- Japanese Naval War I picked up White Bear and Red Sun rules/ campaign system in the Wargames Vault sale, so when I’ve got more ships in my collection I’ll look at running a campaign on the conflict.

All in all a cracking few days gaming- we managed to get seven different games in.

Simon has put his thoughts on four of the games over on his blog, have a look here:

http://lestradesgame.blogspot.co.uk/

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A small Cold War game.

I recently played a quick game of 5core: Brigade Commander with Bill. He had recently finished some late 80s Brits that he hadn’t had on the games table yet so it was a good excuse to have a game.

Bill brought a British tank Brigade consisting of 8 companies/ squadrons of Challenger I tanks and 4 companies of mechanised infantry in Warrior IFVs plus a HQ company and a flight of Lynx helicopters, these were backed up with supporting platoons of Scimitar and Scorpion recce tanks, Blowpipe MANPADs and Swingfire ATGMS.

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I fielded a Soviet armoured regiment with the divisional recce battalion. This amounted to 7 companies of T64s with 5 companies of mechanised infantry in BMPs and a flight of Hinds. These were backed up with 4 recce platoons, 2 AA platoons and 3 Engineer platoons.

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I figured given that our forces were roughly equal we should have a simple encounter game, we set up the table with plenty of woods and a big urban area in the middle. I lost the set up roll and deployed over the full 4 foot frontage I had. Bill favoured his right flank.

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To add doctrinal differences to armies 5core uses tactics cards that can be played to give a slight advantage or to hinder the enemy. To counter Bill’s strength on my left flank it was to one of these cards I turned: ‘Commandos’. I placed they at the end of my first turn in the woods in the front of Bill’s units hindering their movement in the early turns. This gave me enough time to rush plenty of units forwards to the urban areas at the middle of the table. Losses were fairly equal for most of the game. Bill made good use of his ‘Scoot and Shoot’ tactics card and his Lynx helicopter- I was lucky not to lose both units to the ATGMs it carried. My artillery was slightly more effective than his; it didn’t kill anything but was good at pinning units in place. On the Soviet right flank Bill launched a devastating close assault by a mechanised infantry on a damaged T64 company stuck in the open and wiped it out, my Commandos too fell to a determined close assault by infantry and Warriors in the woods. I only managed to pull things round when I had 2 consecutive good turns, taking advantage of some re-positioning moves, my tanks opened up and with 4 shots killed 4 units. At this point Bill called the game as I’d taken out over 2/3s of his armour and his left flank had folded. Unusually for our games both helicopters survived to the end; I only moved mine once and never fired it.

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All in all it was a great way to while away a couple of hours, Bill only lost due to my luck being so good. He has been busy painting up FV432s and Chieftains so hopefully we’ll have a rematch soon.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Back to Africa with 5core Skirmish.

Last week I hadn’t had the time to prepare a game like I usually do so Evan had an idea for a skirmish based, I think, on the ‘Tears of the Sun’ film he is a fan of… I’m not sure I’ve not seen the film.

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(Apologies for the picture quality as I was using the camera on my phone.)

 

He had a group of 6 SOF (2 M203s, 2 M4 Assault Rifles, 1 Light Machine Gun, 1 Sniper) types whilst I had a group of African militia (Mostly AKs with a RPD, a RPK and a few PPSh SMGs). After entering the village Evan’s figures had to search the buildings until the Doctor was located, I wrote down where I had hidden him.

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This was the table. I set up in a rough circle protecting the centre of the village whilst Evan’s forces could enter from any side.

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Evan moved his men in carefully clearing as the went covered by a sniper he put up a tree.

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I tried to slow their advance with my RPK wielding figure but he was taken out by the sniper.

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At times the fighting degenerated into a violent melee as I tried to force the SOF back. With 12 figures to his 6 I tried to win by a bloody process of attrition.

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At the games end Evan had searched all the buildings which have had their roofs taken off in the above picture. Unfortunately he didn’t find the doctor; I had hidden him in the toilets which is where Evan said he’d have put him too.

My attritional tactics worked in the end just. Evan failed a squad morale roll before I did and withdrew from the field.

In retrospect it was a good fun game but would need tweaking a bit if we were to play it again. Both the SOF types and the African militia had the same chance of shooting each other which seemed wrong given the vast difference in marksmanship skills so I think that more use of the skills and benefits that are in the rules will give a better feel for the game.

The plan is to try a stealth type game next.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

A first try at 5core Skirmish (3rd Edition).

I, like most wargamers I think, am never 100% fully satisfied with any given rule set and so I go through stages of tweaking bits, rewriting others or adding bits in. Also I’m always keen to try a new set of rules to see if the grass is greener on the other side. The obvious answer would be to write my own set but that is always easier said than done.

Given how much I and the others have enjoyed playing Nordic Weasel’s 5core Brigade Commander rules in 6mm I decided to pick up one of their skirmish sets from Wargames Vault and give it a go.

I grabbed what was handy fromthe shed and Brian and I had a quick run through of the rules. I set up a 4 by 4 table (I’ll say here that we played with all measurements doubled) to look a bit like Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The light green patches were  bits of scrub, mid green defined the edge of woods.

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Brian got 2 four man teams of RLI each with 3 FN FALs and 1 FN MAG:

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Whereas I got 10 assorted ZANLA (5 AK, 2 SKS, 2 PPSh, 1 RPD), all of the figures were from Under Fire Miniatures.

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My ZANLA move up the left flank.

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Whilst others advance into the kraal.

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The RLI move into position at the edge of the woods, this was just before we found out how powerfully an FN MAG is.

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We used a lot of counters (Green= hidden, Orange= fired, White= Panic, Red= Knocked Down, blood splat= out of action) I know that is not to all gamer’s tastes but for me function follows form if it for the sake of game play.

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RLI advancing through the scrub on the ZANLA right flank.

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In my last two turns I managed to combine a scurry followed by a fire fight; I got my men into position weathered the return fire then was in a good place to shoot. I took a few casualties (4 out of the fight) but I gave the RLI a bloody nose (2 out of the fight) which historically they would have found hard to countenance.

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First impression on the game were overwhelmingly positive from both of us- clear rules and it played nice and quickly too, ideal for a mid- week evening. The mechanisms are very similar to the brigade level game but feel right for a smaller level of play. Having three reserve activation dice to use throughout the game is a nice feature, standing in for the asset cards in Brigade Commander. The RLI didn’t do as well as they should have, even with the tactical advantage, but if we re run the scenario I’ll add in some skills to boost their performance. I wanted to keep things simple for a first run through.

The only two minor quibbles would be how to have assault and bolt action rifles on the table at the same time. We decided to just treat the AKs and FN FALs as infantry rifles and the SKS as a single shot rifle to provide some differentiation.

Also I’d have like to see some rules for medics too – but that can be easily house ruled (and that takes us back to the top of the post).

I’m very taken with the set and am already planning future games as well as tie ins with our 6mm Cold Wars games in a mini campaign.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Russo- Japanese Naval- a new project.

There is nothing as much fun as a new project is there?

 

This time I’ve decided to start a naval project based around the Russo- Japanese War. Simon ( http://lestradesgame.blogspot.co.uk/ ) has gone for the slightly earlier Sino- Japanese War so there should be some crossover potential for our model collections. We both bought the appropriate starter packs from Tumbling Dice’s relatively new 1/2400th Battleships range. With the aim of fighting out the bigger actions of both wars as well as running campaign games. Simon has done some work already on the Sino- Japanese one.

I was really impressed with the little model ships. A bit tricky to assemble with regards to what goes where as it is a new period to me but fortunately I had a book in my library that had some good line drawing of the major ships. The contents of the RJW war Japanese starter pack looks like this:

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The corresponding Russian one looks like this:

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The ships were based on plasticard textured with a thick acrylic paste stippled on to look like water. Drybrushed up I think it looks quite effective. Finding the right colour schemes for the ships has proved to be somewhat difficult as a lot of the information is contradictory. In the end, I decided to base my paint selections on the information from this site:

 

http://www.wtj.com/store/index_paint_guide_hist-paint.html

 

I have two sets of rules for the period, both from A and A Game Engineering, Tsushima and Fire When Ready. Tsushima seems the simpler of the two and will allow for the large actions that we want to game to be played out quickly so with have decided to go with that set for the time being. Fire When Ready does have some excellent scenarios in its back pages which I intend to work through.

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We have had a few games now and seem to be getting the hang of the rules. With all naval games, I’ve played there is an element of book keeping but it is kept to a minimum with only hull hits and weapons mount losses being recorded. Combat resolutions is mainly by D10 but a variety of different sided Dice are used to determine gun damage dependant on range. The Japanese vessels are qualitatively better than the Russian equivalents but the Russian ships pack more torpedoes on which can allow for a lucky shot and getting a disabling critical hit. Cruisers are pretty tough until they get hit by a battleships’ main 12” guns at which point they look like they are made of tinfoil. In the games that we have played they have been the only actual sinkings, although the battleships have usual mutually damaged each other by game’s end.

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I got Evan to play a game too and he seemed pretty taken with them so that is good.

 

To move the project forward I intend to get the Battleships and Cruisers at least and maybe the destroyers too for the Battle of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima. A lot of the Japanese ships can be used for both which is handy. It should give me something to work towards for the rest of the year. I’ll add a few islands to the list too to give the table a bit of character (the ones in the photos are Evan’s).

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.