Great customer/ rules support from A and A Game Engineering.

This past year I have been getting into Russo- Japanese War naval gaming using the 1/2400th ships from Tumbling Dice and the Tsushima rules from A and A Game Engineering that came with the starter pack that I bought. I during the New Years Eve Gameathon that I would speed things up to have a ship record card pre-printed and laminated for every ship that I own. Granted that isn’t very many at the moment but it saves printing off record sheets and filling them in by hand every game. I fired off an email to Andrew (one of the ‘A’s in A and A) to see if he could share the template that was in the rulebook. It is fair to say that he has gone above and beyond that. Over a course of a few emails he has created a set of editable PDFs that allow you to fill in stats for any ship you desire. The rules page is here and the support page with the download link to the editable PDFs here .

It goes without saying that this level of customer support is fantastic and come with a very big thank you from me.

I made up the sheets for the ships I own and printed them out.

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Ran them through the laminator.

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Then cut them out.

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This way I can quickly set up a game. In fact I think I’ll have one next week….

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio files from the Connections Conference.

A few weeks ago King’s College in London hosted the Connections professional wargames conference. They have released slides and audio recording of the presentations here:

http://www.professionalwargaming.co.uk/2017.html

A few highlights that are worth your time following up on…#

Pennine Megagames’ own Paul Howarth amusing talk on games in schools- hearing how the games cut through gender and social boundaries and gets children enthused is really great.

Dr. Nick Bradbeer and David Manley’s talk on improving Maritime engineers’ design through game play is interesting- especially as David Manley has blogged on his involvement with the games here:

http://dtbsam.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=ucl

I was surprised at the lack of military knowledge that was alluded to of the students on the course but given that we are a maritime nation dependent on sea trade and our Navy it is something that takes a very low profile in our modern world.

Finally Paul Strong’s talk on the Western Approaches Tactical Unit gives a great insight into how wargaming helped to win the Battle of the Atlantic, including a rare example of wargaming being conducted mid- battle and influencing its outcome.

I’d have loved to attended- and played in the megagame as well as the other games sessions but I was on a bit of a road trip with my father (a post on that will be forthcoming) so missed it, will look into attending next year.

 

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.

Works in Progress from the Shed: Buildings, Ships and Conversions.

A few pics of things that I am working on…

An Airfix resin building  based up.

An Airfix resin building based up.

Back view of the same, the extra rubble was made up of budgie grit, cat litter (clean of course) and Linka casting in plaster.

Back view of the same, the extra rubble was made up of budgie grit, cat litter (clean of course) and Linka casting in plaster.

A pair of Dutch styled buildings based together.

A pair of Dutch styled buildings based together.

Back view: I've tried to find a compromise between putting on a realistic amount of rubble and keeping areas clear for game-ability.

Back view: I’ve tried to find a compromise between putting on a realistic amount of rubble and keeping areas clear for game-ability.

Given that I got all three building at 50% of RRP I’m quite pleased with them. They paint up well and I don’t think you can have too many building in an Urban Skirmish set up.

The Italian Impero, a Littorio class Battleship (never completed in WW2 though). 1/200th kit by Revell.

The Italian Impero, a Littorio class Battleship (never completed in WW2 though). 1/200th kit by Revell.

45 minutes later I had finished it. I find ship kits to be quite enjoyable to build.

45 minutes later I had finished it. I find ship kits to be quite enjoyable to build.

I’m slowly working through my ship collection, I’m aiming to use them for both Fletcher- Pratt style games as well as Air to Surafce attack games with 1/600th planes.

I decided to try my hand at a quick conversion: I wanted to make some US SOF figures with the short lived XM25 grenade launcher (see the wiki page for a quick overview of its developmental history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM25_CDTE ). To try and keep some sort of continuity I used parts from the same sculptor but 3 different companies: Figures by Under Fire Miniatures, heads by Vepa Miniatures and the backpacks were left overs I had from the TDQ/ CP Miniatures Falklands range.

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Tools of the trade, pretty simple really IO don't know why I put off trying it before for so long.

Tools of the trade, pretty simple really IO don’t know why I put off trying it before for so long.

The end result: pretty pleased with it for a first try.

The end result: pretty pleased with it for a first try.

One figure will be painted in Multi- Cam the other in the slightly older ACU scheme.

Cheers,

Pete.

More Fletcher Pratt Naval gaming.

Last Sunday Evan kindly invited me over to his for another go at the Fletcher Pratt naval game, given how much I liked the last run through of it I jumped at the chance for another game of this old school classic.

The scenario was simply each of us had a Cruiser and a pair of escorting Destroyers; I took on the role of the Italians with the Raimondo Montecuccol and the Carabineri and Legionario Destroyers. Evan had the Sirius AA Cruiser and the Ashanti and Somali Tribal class destroyers.

The main purpose of the game was to try out the torpedo rules, something we omitted from our earlier River Plate game, so we both picked opposite corners to start in and steam towards each other at top speed.

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The Brits adopt a similar start to the game.

The Brits adopt a similar start to the game.

The two small fleets get into range (just), we used the small ranges from the Featherstone section of the rule book.

The two small fleets get into range (just), we used the small ranges from the Featherstone section of the rule book.

The opening shots are fired and hit home. Given that we were using 1/300 scale ship Evan has decided that any round that touches is a hit but then the actual location damaged is diced for.

The opening shots are fired and hit home. Given that we were using 1/300 scale ship Evan has decided that any round that touches is a hit but then the actual location damaged is diced for.

Things get messy as we close in, and I've launched the first salvo of torpedoes.

Things get messy as we close in, and I’ve launched the first salvo of torpedoes.

Not as bad as it looks - honest.

Not as bad as it looks – honest.

The Legionario fires off a quartet of torpedoes and on of the Tribal class Destroyers.

The Legionario fires off a quartet of torpedoes and on of the Tribal class Destroyers.

They streak toward their target and two hit....

They streak toward their target and two hit….

...and promptly sink their her.

…and promptly sink their her.

By this point in the game a few good hits from the Italian Cruiser Sirius had stripped all the guns of the other British destroyer so it fled off the table.

If you've got time careful maneuvering can avoid the bothersome things.

If you’ve got time careful maneuvering can avoid the bothersome things.

With one of my destroyers damaged but still in the fight on fell to a torpedo fired at very close range which it couldn't avoid. However the Sirius has suffered slightly and with it's two escorts gone it had to turn away from the battle to avoid the rest of those torpedoes still running.

With one of my destroyers damaged but still in the fight on fell to a torpedo fired at very close range which it couldn’t avoid. However the Sirius has suffered slightly and with it’s two escorts gone it had to turn away from the battle to avoid the rest of those torpedoes still running.

At this point we called the game as a victory to the Italians, and something of a black day for the Royal Navy. The clash would have evolved into a stern chase with the slightly faster Italian cruiser closing on its British counterpart.

We both found that torpedoes are very nasty weapons especially against the smaller ships. However to be sure of a hit you have to get almost suicidally close to your quarry… risking your own destruction in the process. Something that is anecdotally referred to in the History of Wargaming rule book. All in all a great game and quite a quick one too. Hopefully we’ll be returning to the med soon.

Cheers,

Pete.

Fletcher Pratt Naval Game. AAR.

Just after Xmas, Brian and I headed across town to Evan for our first game of The Fletcher Pratt Naval Game. Evan had his nicely painted newly finished boards to try out too.

He rustled up a quick scenario- Battle of the river plate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_River_Plate.

Brian took on the role of Captain of Spee, Evan had the Essex while I had joint command of the smaller Ajax and Achilles.

For more details on the game see http://www.wargaming.co/books/pratt/homepage.htm . We used the small scale Featherstone rules but using cms not inches- also Evan came up with some extra rules given we were using 1/3000th ships. After a while we got the idea and they seemed to work well.

My two commands and a nice example of Evan's player sheets.

My two commands and a nice example of Evan’s player sheets.

All three of us enjoyed the game, especially the guesstimating ranges. Evan’s props which he made were just right for the job too.

I only had my camera phone with me so please excuse the paucity of pics and their low quality:

After initial heavy damage my 2 light cruisers try to close the distance.

After initial heavy damage my 2 light cruisers try to close the distance.

Spee under heavy attack. Also not Evan's nice firing arrows.

Spee under heavy attack. Also not Evan’s nice firing arrows.

Trying to return fire. My smaller guns were less effective than hoped.

Trying to return fire. My smaller guns were less effective than hoped.

Brian's ship under even heavier attack- five hits have been registered.

Brian’s ship under even heavier attack- five hits have been registered.

All in all a great afternoons gaming, even if it ended in something of a stalemate. We all want to play more Fletcher Pratt, I need to get my plastic kits made up; and I’m considering going back a few years to the Russo Japanese War too. As I guess watch this space.

Cheers,

Pete.