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 🙂  – 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. 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙁

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-up 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 🙂

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. 🙂

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.

More Sharp Practice 2 – A Raid Scenario

Varesi, the Medetian Lieutenant of Engineers, never had liked the bad-tempered nag that pulled his equipment cart. It was ironic then, when it fell on him and the two of them died together on the outskirts of Auterlin. Such are the fickle outcomes that games of Sharp Practice can produce, and a good laugh they provide too.

Last weekend Jase and I returned to the post-Napoleonic conflict between Medetia and Fleurie and played a game of Sharp Practice 2. I devised the plot for a 2-part scenario, and we played through the first game. The second will hopefully take place early in the new year.

The Medetians have landed an assault party on the Fleurian coast with orders to march inland, cross (and hold) a bridge – which will be the scene of game 2 – and destroy part of the enemy’s siege train which is temporarily holed up at the village of Auterlin.

Selecting 5 groups of infantry (a mix of grenadiers, line and bersaglieri) and an engineer team from his overall force, Jase took command of the Medetians and set off on his mission. As the Fleurian commander I had 4 infantry groups and a light gun with which to defend the important heavy guns, ammunition and powder.

The scene of the impending action, as dawn approaches:

The siege guns outside the church, which was being used to store the powder and shot:

 

On the first 2 turns the Tiffin card came up before any significant forces had deployed onto the table. I managed to get the Fleurian light gun crew woken up and assembled in the village square, which was to be very helpful in the early stages of the game.

Before long, though, the Medetians had arrived, formed up in a couple of formations, with skirmishers moving among the trees and Lieutenant Varesi bringing up the rear with his engineers and cart (and its horse).

A bonus move (4 command flag cards being played at once) allowed the commander, Major Corvina, to get everyone dashing towards the village at the double. Goaded into action, the horse shouldered Varesi out of the way and left the Lieutenant sprawled face down in the dirt and being left behind…

With few Fleurians as yet on the table and the Medetians coming on fast, the light gun opened up with canister and did some damage to the lead formation. This slowed things down and gave the rest of the Fleurian force time to make an appearance.

Fortunately for me, my main force then arrived and took up positions to prevent the enemy from reaching the church. The first Medetian controlled volley, however, hammered the Grenadiers and sent them reeling back from the lane, to try to rally behind the cottage.

The shooting seemed more deadly than in previous games we’ve played, with lots of 6s coming up and plenty of casualty removal. This was pretty evenly divided between both sides, so things remained in the balance for some time as various groups took up positions and continued to fire away at each other.

A Fleurian patrol came on from the table edge and started to make its presence felt, distracting the enemy’s Bersaglieri for a few turns.

Things got more interesting when a group of armed locals, led by a monk, decided to intervene when the Medetians finally entered the village. Their timing was good, as they plugged a gap left by a shot-up and routing group of infantry.

Varesi’s big (and last) moment came when the engineers responded to an order to advance and dashed forward at an unexpected pace, leaving them squarely in the sights of both Fleurian infantry and a fully loaded gun! Engineers went down like nine-pins and the Lieutenant was wounded. Almost inevitably the next card out of the re-shuffled pack led to another volley. The horse took the brunt, falling dead and crushing the hapless officer. Thus, their uneasy relationship was brought to a grim end.

As time wore on and Force Morale levels started to drop, the Medetians moved in to decide the issue at close quarters.

With bayonets fixed, Major Corvina bravely follows his men in a charge intended to put the villagers firmly back in their place..

 

Heroically they slaughtered the lot with no loss to themselves. Interestingly, the Fleurian Voltigeurs (top right of the picture below) subsequently charged the Medetians, and not one of the figures in this picture survived the game, including the Major who was killed with the rest of his men. Fisticuffs sounds a bit like ‘handbags’ but it’s VERY bloody in SP2!

Below – pretty much the end of the game, with the last Fleurians about to relinquish the village and the siege train to the victorious attackers. Both sides’ Force Morale took a tumble with the losses from fisticuffs, but the Fleurians hit zero first and that was that. We agreed that it was probably a good thing that the remaining engineers didn’t have to actually attempt to blow the church in-game, as with the way their luck/competence had been so far, it would have inevitably ended in catastrophe!

So, a posthumously successful mission for the Major, and now they’d have to get back to their ship via the bridge that their colleagues were hopefully still holding. This will be the focus of game 2, when Fleurian patrols try to cut off the invaders from the coast.

The game was great fun, played in the best of company.

One Hour Wargames – SYW

The blog’s been a bit quiet lately, but I do have some updates on recent games and painting efforts.

Since my previous posts in October about trying the rules and scenarios in Neil Thomas’ ‘One Hour Wargames’, there have been some further games and even a mini-campaign.

I wanted to play a series of linked games so wrote some simple campaign rules to govern the movement of various forces on a map and deal with the outcomes of battles, etc. I decided to go with a trusty square grid map, partly for convenience when it came to movement and terrain effects, and partly so I could use MS Excel to create it and avoid having to fall back on non-existent artistic skills.

I set the campaign in Silesia in about 1757, but created the specific local area to suit what I wanted. The outline was for the Austrians to invade Prussian-held territory and recapture the key town of Werthenstahl. Each side had 2-3 forces initially, with the potential for more to arrive later on.

The campaign starting positions – the Austrians are about to cross the river, for which they’ll need to lay a pontoon bridge in the north if they want to capture Felshelm early on.

The pontoon is successfully laid with a decent dice roll and this will now release the Prussians to move. Their main priority will be to get Force A underway to support the observation forces before they’re overwhelmed.

Last pic – the action has been going on for several turns and there have been 8 battles so far, using a variety of scenarios from the book. The latest encounter has seen Austrian Force C beaten and forced to retire. This will generate some relief for the Prussians who have been on the receiving end of a few defeats of their own.

The Force Strength tracker in the bottom right corner shows the relative size of each force on the map. Where they are the same, I play a 6 vs 6 unit scenario, where there is a difference of 1 strength I play a 6 vs 4 unit scenario, and where there’s a difference of 2 strength, the weaker force must withdraw or, if trapped, face scenario 30 Last Stand! I try to match the scenario and terrain to the general situation on the map, in terms of who’s attacking/defending, whether there’s a river involved, etc.

The campaign has been fun and has encouraged me to try similar things, with very simple campaign rules, in the future.





Recent Games

Last weekend my mate Jase and I played 3 stand-alone games, resulting in one marginal win and two draws, illustrating how well-balanced the scenarios are (or how mutually crap we both are at winning).

We re-visited Scenario 4 – Take the High Ground a couple of times, and then had a go at one with unbalanced forces; Scenario 20 – Fighting Retreat. Both scenarios are well designed and provide for interesting games.

Mid-game in Take the High Ground:

The Austrians decide to run for it in turn 1 of Fighting Retreat:

These games were very enjoyable and hit the spot in terms of providing some quick, challenging entertainment while drinking quite a lot of beer. 🙂