Sharp Practice – The Return of the Black Widow

A few days ago the post-Napoleonic imaginations forces came out of their boxes again for another game of Sharp Practice. The plot followed loosely on from a previous game (link) where one of Fleurie’s spies (a very attractive and devious lady operating under the codename of ‘The Black Widow’) was extricated from a tricky position (ooh er!) by a scratch force sent to look for her. Now word had reached Medetian military intelligence of an intended rendezvous, at which they might just catch the evil woman and put an end to her troublesome meddling.

My friend Jase duly took on command of the Medetian spy-hunting force, and I prepared a few Fleurians to defend the rendezvous location (a remote farm), plus a larger relief force to come on later.

The Medetians had been able to send some men on ahead to surround the farm and pin down the men there. Of the spy there was no sign.

The game provided a lot of good moments, with both of us bringing on reinforcements in formation, and there was often tension waiting for the next card to be turned up.

Some key moments…

The Medetian marines charged in (on the 2nd attempt) to clear off the pesky Voltigeurs, but somewhat surprisingly received a right drubbing.

The Fleurian commander, Captain Mauzac, confidently led his men onto the field in a large formation, with cavalry on the right and skirmishers on the left, he’d soon see off those annoying Bersaglieri in the wood. Instead of fleeing, Jase decided on a final volley from the Bersaglieri before they were overrun. The result: one hit, one dead officer!

The cavalry arriving a tad late for poor old Mauzac:

It offered Sergeant Luberon his moment of glory, which he duly grasped by stepping forward to lead the now leaderless line. He did well but was later usurped when a proper officer arrived.

The Medetian hordes advanced:

The main forces angled towards each other for a musketry duel.

The Black Widow decides it’s time to depart, and leaves her hiding place in the stables. She follows a retreating unit of Voltigeurs away from the Medetian attack.

The dashing Hussar, Lieutenant Gillette, was aiming for the flank of the Medetian line, but instead met a wall of Grenadiers who’d been hurried into place by the Medetian commander, his most crucial move of the day. It was bloody for both sides, but the Hussars were forced to withdraw, their injured officer following slowly behind.

The main firefight blazed for several turns and casualties (and shock) piled up on both sides. Eventually the Medetians’ morale dropped and the game was up. Their commander called off the attack and his troops withdrew.

Unseen by the enemy, the Black Widow had not run straight for the safety of the Fleurian table edge, but had made a dash for the lake, where she had a boat hidden. Escorted by the well-meaning, hopelessly lovelorn (but romantic no-hoper) Lieutenant Aramon, she had other plans to fulfil and was soon away from danger and heading off to who-knows-where…

We had a lot of fun with this, and the rules are providing consistently challenging, event-laden and exciting games. The beer was good too.

 

 

 

 

Honours of War – A LAW Forum Get-together

In early October a group of us from the forum were cordially invited to come for a game in Gary’s very impressive Wargames room. As they go, it must be one of the best around, and comfortably accommodated 9 players and a good-sized table. It was a good opportunity to catch up with the guys, who came from far and wide as always, and meet one of Gary’s very friendly local club members, Ian, who joined us.

We would be using the Honours of War rules and most of us had brought a contingent of our own historical or imagi-nations troops.Β Gary had prepared the table, scenario, some of the forces, and all of the catering for the day – what a decent bloke! It was an attack/defend game, with a central bridge as the key, and 2 built up areas on the flanks also counting as objectives.

My Medetians took the right flank for the defenders, with reinforcements to come on later, and faced Iain and Simon who arrived en mass in the opening few turns.

The fighting was pretty intense, and the rules held up pretty well, considering we had a lot of troops on the table by the end. I didn’t quite manage to hold onto my village, with a last-ditch counter attack failing in the final turn. However, the bridge and farm were competently defended by Jeremy and Purps on my left, so overall we just about won.

All in all it was a lot of fun playing such a good-looking wargame with old mates and new acquaintances. There was good banter and everyone was on good form, which was great to see.

After the game we had a very nice dinner and a few beers in one of the local pubs, rounding off an excellent weekend. Hopefully we’ll be invited back next year!

 

 

St. Valentio Skewered by El Kebab!

I’ve been making steady progress with my plans for playing colonial imagi-nation games. These will be set in Medetia’s exotic 19th century colonies, using the Sharp Practice 2 rules.

Although I haven’t finished my jungle bases, or added any buildings yet, I felt that with lots of figures now painted a game could still be possible. So, I decided that the soon-t0-be rebellious sepoys and natives would start out with an away match – and become the fierce corsairs of the notorious El Kebab, terror of the southern sea. The sleepy, and lightly garrisoned, Medetian island outpost of St. Valentio was their target, with its trade goods and wealthy merchants. General vandalism would also be on the cards of course. My good mate Jase was up some corsairing, and duly loaded his vessels with a horde of ne’er do wells and set sail..

El Kebab’s small fleet, led by his own ship, the Scimitar, approached the main harbour out of the dawn shadows and made straight for the jetties. The alarm was sounded by the lookout in the fort, and the Medetians were roused from their slumbers. A party of sailors in the harbour were the first to see action, as the approaching corsairs let loose with grape from their guns.

The damage inflicted on the sailors was returned with interest by artillery and rifle fire from the shore, which swept away the Scimitar’s gun crew. El Kebab, may his name be forever showered with glory, may have cowered in the stern a bit when this happened.

Acting the part of El Kebab in full, Jase had decided to drive his two larger ships right into the harbour to offload their landing parties, while the (somewhat slower and more inconsistent) rowed boats followed behind.

With their mighty leader heroically directing things from aboard his ship, his trusty sub-commander, Munjit Dhal and ex-Sepoy Sergeant Badbhaji, led their men ashore to start the mayhem.

The Medetian garrison, though somewhat scattered and having to rally from various points of the compass, were reacting however. Their commander, Major Nebbiolo, wasn’t on top form – perhaps due to too much vino rosso the night before! His officers and NCOs were showing clearer heads though, and Sergeant Rigato of the Bersaglieri and Brevet-Lieutenant Lambrusco were taking the fight to the raiders. The main square was the scene of some running firefights and vicious melees, and casualties mounted on both sides as the advantage swung to and fro.

After seeing off one enemy group, young Lambrusco, hero of several previous games, somehow survived his own unit being wiped out by a second horde of corsairs. His bravery must surely see his promotion to Lieutenant now.

By now, despite Major Nebbiolo coming down from the fort to take charge, the raiders were getting stuck into the looting and burning. The church turned out to be more stiffly defended than was expected, but the frenzied clergy and their gamekeeper were sent packing with a howling charge.

Finally, El Kebab himself made his presence felt as he ushered ashore his most feared mob – the savage Big Choppers of Kamul ‘the Blade’.

Outside the harbour, the wily Imlik Bling and his sharpshooters kept a returning patrol of Bersaglieri at arm’s length as both sides traded shots from their boats.

Finally, enough was enough for the defenders who were forced to pull back to the fort and leave the corsairs free to ransack several houses, capture some residents for ransom, and retire at their leisure from a successful raid.

After this vicious assault, the Medetians would be keen to exact their revenge against El Kebab, and would be sure to leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of him and his band of cutthroats…

It was a great game, played in an excellent spirit, and it provided a lot of laughs throughout. The rules, as always, generated a lot of challenges for us, and delivered a believable and entertaining narrative. More soon hopefully!

A Big Battle in the Midlands

A few weekends ago a group of 8 members of the Loose Association of Wargamers got together near Grantham for an 18th century wargame. We all contributed some troops, both historical and imagi-nation, and used the Honours of War rules. It was nice to meet Jeremy and his family for the first time, and we didn’t seem to put him off coming to future LAW events!

Purps made the arrangements at a village hall, and also made half the terrain with some very impressive sculpted boards. The other half was LT’s excellent teddy bear fur. Once some buildings, hedges, trees and other scenery was in place, we had a very nice looking long battlefield of about 30′ by 5′.

Empty and full pics of the table:

The various collections were combined to create 2 large armies, with 4 players a side. There was a background scenario which led nicely to a big set-to, with me part of the attacking side. I took control of the left centre and had to capture the bridge. I deployed 2 columns of battalions, with artillery and cavalry in support.

Action in the centre, where the forces of Medetia fought for the bridge:

Action on the flanks:

The game was played in great spirit and we had a very enjoyable day. By the end we had been victorious pretty much all along the line, although the enemy had fought hard and we were up against it in a number of places. General E. Pickled led another utter collapse of what seemed to be a strong flank – it’s his special gift!

Purps: “well, that’s the left flank gone!”Pickled: “there were more troops here a minute ago”

Naturally, an evening of good food a drink followed. Some of the guys played a second game the on the Sunday, which I couldn’t stay for unfortunately.

Big thanks to everyone for their great company and friendly participation as always, and in particular to Purps for doing so much prep which made a big difference to how smoothly everything ran.

AMG17 – A Fantastic Weekend

Last weekend I attended the AMG forum gaming weekend near Kenilworth. There were about 20 of us, including forum members, forum ex-members, and at least one person who was neither!

Just like last year, it was an excellent crowd and we had a lot of fun both during the gaming sessions, and during the bar sessions. Apart from our group there were 300+ other guests in the hotel, all there for a Dancing with the Stars weekend. We didn’t mix much πŸ™‚ Β – although a couple of gents did pop by to have a look.

Stuart organised an excellent and smooth-running event. Big thanks to him.

The games were all top notch; Graham with Falkirk, Colin with Leuthen, Martin with the Sudan and Paul with Ramillies. I wanted to play all 4 but only managed Leuthen and Ramilies. Both were excellent, and very well run by friendly and helpful hosts.

Ramilies:

The Sudan (obviously), done in grand style by Martin, with lovely figures, using Sands of the Sudan:

 

Unfortunately my pic of Graham’s excellent and very popular Falkirk game didn’t come out, so this is the best I’ve got from that. Lovely British cavalry.

Day 1 – I played as one of the Austrian commanders in Colin’s superb Leuthen 1757 game, using the Honours of War rules.

Robbie and Gary were on the flanks and we faced Chris, Jim and Tony as the Prussians. Fittingly, Jim (Der Alte Fritz) played as Frederick.

 

More Austrians rushing to help hold the line:

Soon to be ex-grenadiers!

The Prussian grenadiers charge the church wall. They got in once, but I managed to push them back out with my reserves.

Repeating the Prussian’s dramatic success on the tabletop isn’t as simple as Frederick made it look. It was close in the end, but was declared a win for the Austrians.

Day 2 – I joined Paul’s tremendous refight of the southern half of Ramillies 1706 (ie. the cavalry action and the village on the French extreme right flank). We used Paul’s own rules from the Grimsby club, which are straightforward but give lots of period flavour. I took the right-hand French, with dismounted dragoons in the village, infantry alongside, and some of the Garde squadrons on my left.

We had a lot of cavalry clashes early on, and then the infantry came forward to carry on the fight. It was slightly unique as an 18th century wargame in that there were no artillery on the table (other than a couple of attached light guns). It made a nice change.

Below – waiting for the dreaded Dutch guard to arrive and commence their deadly platoon fire. Fortunately I was able to get some flank supports in place to help see off the first battalion! After that it was a matter of holding on.

 

Aly and Leigh battled it out at the other end of the table, with Steve commanding the French centre and Ken fighting us with Dutch and Danish. We got a solid result on the left flank, with Aly’s battalions mostly sent packing, and in the end the French were declared the victors. πŸ™‚

A few general scenes. There was always a lot of banter and laughter in the room, making for an excellent atmosphere (which was needed as it was bloody warm with the aircon only partially working)!

 

 

The hotel wasn’t a bad place to have a few post-game beers, and the weather was amazing too!

Aly brought along a couple of sets of the Perry’s new Travel Battle game, which looked nice painted up, and Mark brought a 6mm version of The Wargame which was very impressive. Chris showed off some of his lovely period-art too, so there was something to see in every corner of the room.

Great stuff all-round then, and very motivational from a hobby perspective.
Hopefully we’ll be doing it again next year (albeit under a new name I suspect).

Ayton 2017

Well, that was another brilliant weekend with the LAW guys up near Scarborough. Lots of beer, banter, hobby chat and gaming – the best type of weekend πŸ™‚

Some Game 1 pics:

 

We had 2 days of multi-player Lion Rampant games, all excellently planned and umpired by Gary who had done a lot of prep to ensure everything went smoothly. Big thanks to him for that.

 

There were over a dozen factions, with players bringing everything from Normans to Mongols, Arabs and Burgundians. Under a straight-forward and fun system like Lion Rampant things like this work, so you can just concentrate on enjoying yourself. There were 3 rounds of games, building in size from 3-4 player on Saturday morning to a big all-player bash on Sunday, with a castle thrown in as a centre piece.

 

Gary had designed a clever background whereby an island near the Holy Land was targeted by invaders and raiders of all descriptions, each with their own agenda for mayhem. Allies and enemies shifted a bit here and there and overall there was an on-going Glory Points tally to track everyone’s campaign success – or failure.

Some Game 2 pics:

 

 

 

I did pretty poorly in the points scoring, but was a few places off the bottom I think. Anyway, Andy managed minus 4 points after 2 games, and no-one could compete with that level of incompetence. I tried though – managing to get my General killed in a duel I instigated, which wasn’t an ideal result to say the least! Still, even without his presence the Medetians and their Saracen allies were the first to assault the castle walls on Sunday. Naturally, despite beating the defenders from the parapets, they also failed their courage test and were dumped back to the bottom again..twice πŸ™

Some Game 3 pics:

 

 

 

 

 

 

My fatal duel:

 

 

 

With large numbers of players and some slightly oversized retinues, we decided to ease the unit activation failure pain a bit on day 2 by allowing all players a single re-roll for their first failed activation if their General was within 12″. As this is an existing rule (it’s one of the commander traits) it didn’t introduce anything new or unbalance the game, it just made things flow a bit more evenly and allowed the attackers to move across the table with some consistency to ensure people made it into action.

We also fudged the rule for keeping 3″ gaps between friendly units, just to make things a little easier for a big game with lots of troops.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we also had the visual delight of another of Tim and Tim’s 54mm extravaganzas – a fictitious modern game set in Africa with lots of excellent scenery and stunning paint jobs on the figures:

 

 

As always, big thanks to Mark for organising the venue and supplies, and making dinner arrangements. Looking forward to 2018’s event already – a return to the 18th century with Henry’s campaign taking us to the sub-continent!

 

Bit of a Catch Up

Although there’s been no blog activity for a while, there have at least been some hobby goings on.
Not much was actually getting finished so I wasn’t taking many pics, but there has been some gaming, and progress on a number of projects

The best of the gaming was a weekend in Newcastle with Andy hosting an excellent ACW game using his newly re-based collection and Fire & Fury rules. He’d devised a scenario and set up the terrain too. The game took place in meeting room upstairs at a commercial stables, which added to ambience!

It was an encounter battle which 5 of us played to an entertaining draw. Plenty of flank attacks, charges and counter-charges as the advantage swung back and forth. Plenty of beer was had on the 2 evenings as well, which with the excellent company made it a very good time all-round.

 

 

 

 

I’ve spent some more time evolving my 15mm fantasy dungeon game, which is pretty much sorted and has seen some solo and 2-player games recently. Now I’m just having fun adding the odd monster, character or dungeon feature, plus some background fluff and additional rules that come to mind.

 

 

This year’s Ayton weekend (coming up very soon) calls for Lion Rampant forces from anywhere between 1100-1500, so I’m taking a very early Medetian force from their Normans-in-Italy era. It will be supplemented by Saracen auxiliaries, together making a standard 24 point retinue.

I’ve painted 6 knights (Conquest plastics) and 30 Gripping Beast Arab foot, leaving 2 units left to finish before the end of the month. I’ll try to get the whole force together for a pic soon.

I’ve tried yet another method for making islands for my scratchbuilt naval games, this time it was 6mm blue foam (painted green and gridded to match the sea boards) on thin card (painted sandy for beaches). With the odd building, tree or airfield they should look OK.

Two prototypes:

Maybe they’ll be the start of an overhaul of my islands in general, or I’ll just add them to the pile!

I just need to get back into the routine of updating the blog now, so more soon hopefully!

Sharp Practice 2 – The Raid – Part 2

In December my friend and I played the first of a 2-part scenario – see the write-upΒ here

A week or so ago we played the remaining part, which saw the Medetian rearguard holding the bridge that the village raiding force would need to use in order to return to the ship. The bridge defence force had been determined by Jase at the start of the first game and contained a bit of a mix of army and naval types.

Jase deployed with a perimeter of 2 groups of line infantry on one side of the river, and a group of Bersaglieri plus the gun (in a central position, on a rise giving a good view in most directions) on the other. He kept a reserve of 2 groups of sailors – at the pub, naturally. He had supporting assets in the form of a Holy Man and a handy additional Level 1 leader.

As dawn broke my Fleurian patrols converged on the bridge. I would be rolling for their arrival points, and had decided to split my force into a cavalry command (2 groups) and an infantry one (1 group of Grenadiers, 2 of Line infantry and 1 of skirmishers). As it happened these 2 commands came on from opposite sides of the table, but due to some freakish card drawing (early Tiffin cards after 3 re-shuffles) no-one actually appeared until the 4th turn. I should have ruled that the sailors would by now be too pissed to fight, but it didn’t occur to me at the time!

My cavalry came on at a canter and presented the defenders with quite a shock. I should probably have held back and kept the horsemen as a threat but, being a typical wargamer, I decided to seize the moment and move to charge the infantry guarding the bridge. Unfortunately one group was seen off completely by a volley from their intended target, aided by accurate rifle fire from the Bersaglieri hidden in the trees on the other side of the river. Scratch one flank then (although I did get the other group to charge late in the game, to their doom!)

On the other side of the table, my pretty 2-group formation was hammered on its approach by canister from the gun, despite my other groups trying to pin down the artillerymen with musketry. By the time I got the line close enough to do some damage it was being hit from all angles, as the nearest sailors joined in the fun from the pub garden. I did see off the gun crew in the end, but losses and shock meant the game was up for the Fleurians and they skulked away, leaving the Medetian raiders free to return via the bridge and make a successful withdrawal back to their ship – and home for tea and medals. Well done Jase, 2 out of 2!

 

 

This was another good fun game of Sharp Practice, and we are becoming more confident we’re playing the rules properly (at least most of the time). Hopefully we’ll return to the fray in a few weeks.

SYW in 6mm – Project Update

I thought I’d post a general round-up of progress with this project.

I’m still working on these armies, but have made it to the point where I can play modest-sized games, which was always the first objective. I’m coming up to the half-way point with both the Prussians and the Austrians, and intend to keep chipping away at the remaining units.

So far I have completed 20 Austrian battalions and 12 cavalry units, plus some batteries and Grenzers. The Prussians are a little behind these numbers, but I will switch back to them soon to get them caught up. The flags keep slowing me down so I’m going to reward myself by doing more Grenadiers next, who of course generally don’t have them πŸ™‚

A few pics of a recent tabletop outing, using the new under-scale buildings from Supreme Littleness:

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle of Mingen 1759

Last weekend four of us from the LAW forum, who all live reasonably close to Newark, got together for an eclectic 18th century bash. John (LT) very kindly offered to host us when our plans to play at Wargames Foundry fell through, and his custom-built gaming conservatory (with 12’x4′ table) was an excellent place to play a game. He kept us going with endless tea and coffee too!

As it was Purps’s idea in the first place, he did the planning. He collated a list of what units people could contribute and prepared an interesting scenario based on Minden, but suitably re-named. It was to be a first run out for all of us with the Honours of War rules from Osprey. They proved to be relatively simple to pick up and gave a good, fast-moving game that produced believable outcomes and events.

When the armies were placed on John’s teddy bear fur table covering, along with some suitable scenery, I think the overall effect was very good.

My troops, moving forward to take up defensive positions before the enemy got too close:

 

The overall table, defenders on the left:

Purps’ Prussians heading to defend the wall. They were to deliver a very un-Purps-like ‘none shall pass’ performance:

No detailed battle account, but in brief – Simon and John attacked with a variety of dodgy invading foreign-types, while Purps and I tried to hold on to the two villages. Somehow we managed this, although it was a very close run thing. We had cavalry charges (one of which was successful – unfortunately against me), heroic musketry, some BUA fighting, and some artillery barrages that did a bit of damage (well lots – to Purps).

Below, Purps’ Frei Korps looking good coming up the road, until all the enemy artillery targeted them and sent them packing on the first turn. Another new unit consigned back to the box before they’d got stuck in.

Something no commander ever wants to see. I underestimated how far Simon’s cavalry could move (damn those Dashing Generals, with their chance to roll those hoity toity double moves!) and was caught in column of march. Scratch one battalion:

At the same time Purps was about to be hit by this lot:

But he saw all the horsemen off in brave style, and was then hit by this lot who had benefited from a couple of double-moves to get round the flank:

Which he also, just about, held off to help us win the battle. πŸ™‚

Medetians and allies, standing their ground:

 

And dithering back and forth:

I was sending them to support Purps’s left flank, which failed to move for the first 5 turns (he rolled a 1 each time!). When he finally got going he flung his newly-painted hussars into range of 4 artillery batteries, and back in the box they went. Two months’ work followed by one blunder. Very funny, so I abandoned him and marched this battalion back to the ranks again.

The game, and the whole day, was great fun all-round, in excellent company.

We’ve got some other ideas for games we can play as an occasional local group, so hopefully there’ll be more to post soon.