Recent Games 4 – Multi-player Swashbuckling

Another recent game that provided a lot of fun was a 4 player game set in the Three Musketeers era. A fictional island saw each player’s force come ashore to plunder a stricken ship and steal the King’s pay chest.

Everyone took potshots at each other, and various locals waded in too on occasion. Each player was allowed to hide a few figures beforehand as an advanced party, which could make a sudden appearance to add to the mayhem.

Ali Bitchin (named after a real Barbary Corsair of legend) is besieged in the chapel, after discovering that the chests he’d fought so hard to possess were empty:

Meanwhile, the sneaky Medetians, with Essex Boy in command, conduct a fighting withdrawal having gotten their hands on the real loot that had been hidden in the tavern:

It was nice to give this collection another run out, and as always the GW Lord of the Rings/Legends of the High Seas rules gave a quick and exciting game.

Recent Games 3 – DBN

A couple of weeks ago I played in a very enjoyable 4 player game of DBN. The figures were 10mm, mostly using Goat Major’s lovely 1809 collection, but with a Corps of Prussians from Andy and a very small contribution from me (Austrians and Bavarians).

It would have been a bigger contribution but I have to admit that I struggled with painting these figures, especially at first. These Pendraken figures are too detailed to get away with a rough ‘6mm style’ of painting, but small enough that everything is fairly tricky. After a few elements’ worth I started to get the hang of them, but I didn’t get as many done as I’d intended.

My Bavarian General:

The beauty of DBN is that although we clustered round a very small (3 foot by 2 foot) board, we played a proper Napoleonic battle with the equivalent of 2 Corps per side. The rules work very well and the figures and scenery looked good. Goat Major and I just about held on in a fairly bloody affair.

Some of Andy’s splendid Prussians:

I have continued (slowly) painting some more figures for this and will aim to finish my intended Austrian and Bavarian Corps for future games. Despite over 30 years in the hobby these are the first proper Napoleonics I’ve collected, which probably puts me in a tiny minority of gamers. I do, however, already understand the collecting megalomania that can follow, along with the desire to play in bigger and bigger games!

 

 

Recent Games 1 – Chain of Command

There has been some excellent gaming recently, but I’ve fallen behind in posting about them. Rather than lengthy explanations and blow-by-blow accounts, I thought it would be best to just post some piccies with the odd description so that I’ve at least done some justice to the games.

First up, a superb 4 player Chain of Command game put on by Jeremy in Bury, with a full company of Brits attacking a German force that’s trying to blow a bridge to cover their retreat. It was close in the end, but we Brits took too long, and too many casualties trying to reach the bridge and the Germans were able to blow it an scarper. Great fun, and well run!

 

 

Ayton Event 2019 – A VBCW Naval Force

As in previous years, the LAW forum get-together in Ayton took place over the May bank holiday weekend.

There were several games on the 2 days, with the biggest one being a Very British Civil War game on a grand scale. I’ll post about the games separately, but thought I’d put a picture up to show the force I took along.

This was a naval contingent from HMS Scarborough, just back from the Indian station and aiming to help restore a bit of order in this part of Yorkshire.

Half the figures are actually colonial sailors (including Gatling gun) I already had. Although a bit anachronistic this gave me a decent starting point as, despite being really up for the games/setting, I didn’t really want a major VBCW painting project. So, I picked up a box of Warlord Games naval party and a few packs from Empress Miniatures and added these into my force. They were nice to paint and helped bridge the gap to the pre-war period.

To motorise some of the units I added a couple of Warbases MDF vehicles, which were a bit fiddly to assemble but ended up looking OK. Goat Major also kindly donated a couple of diecast lorries which got an armour plating and paint make-over. In honour of 2 of the navy’s most powerful battleships of the time, they were duly named Nelson and Rodney.

This made up a relatively standard platoon-sized force for the VBCW rules we used: ‘Went the Day Well?’ It comprised an HQ section including standard bearer, 3 sections of infantry (sailors), an HMG support weapon and a special section of Royal Marines (in helmets).

Finally, I contributed a whole 1 civilian to the table, Miss Marple herself.

Pics of the games and terrain to follow. Naturally it was an excellent weekend all-round!

Rorke’s Drift Refight

This weekend half a dozen LAW members were royally hosted by Gary in darkest East Anglia, who presented us with a tremendous 28mm Rorke’s Drift game. Aside from some additional Zulus painted up and brought by Jeremy, Gary provided all the figures and terrain, as well as an excellently run scenario using the Black Powder 2 rules. The table was 10 x 6 feet and looked superb.

The starting set-up:

Four of us played the British, and I drew Lt Chard. We looked at the lengthy perimeter and the few redcoats, and weren’t sure we could hold. The scenario had plenty of characterisation and some excellent special rules that were designed to follow some of the key events of the film, rather than just the historical battle itself. This made it a very engaging experience, and excerpts from the movie soundtrack provided some extra atmosphere too. Gary has walked the battlefield, and is very knowledgeable about the Zulu Wars, so there was no shortage of genuine background and information either.

The game seemed well balanced, and although the British certainly had the advantage in shooting and in the first round of melees, the Zulus had the opportunity in the wargame to hit us from several sides at once, which they didn’t really do in the actual battle.

Every newly arriving unit, and every charge, was a tense affair. In the end we just held on, despite losing the same number of men as they actually did on the day (17), with some desperate fighting and lots of heroic defending. We managed to defeat just enough of the Zulu force to send them packing and everyone agreed it was a brilliant day’s gaming. Thanks to Gary for everything, and it was great to see the guys and share a meal and some beers afterwards.

Hopefully the pictures give a decent impression of how intimidating 600+ Zulus look!

Sharp Practice Game – Destination Bakhala

This weekend 4 fellow-members of the LAW forum came for a big game of Sharp Practice, set within my early 19th century fictitious colonial background.

The plot was that a sepoy mutiny, aided by the notorious corsair El Kebab, had occurred at the Fleurian trading colony at Bakhala. Naturally the Fleurians wanted it back, and roped in their French allies to help. The Medetians turned up too, wanting to deal with El Kebab. Finally, the newly self-proclaimed Maharaja just wanted to see off all-comers and keep hold of his new domain.

LT’s very generous offer of some amazing Indian mutiny buildings provided the inspiration for the table set-up, which saw 3 arrival points for the European forces, and 2 major buildings to be held by the Maharaja and Corsair leader respectively. Naturally there were some slightly conflicting objectives for the players, and some side missions to attempt too – such as finding loot and releasing prisoners. El Kebab needed to escape on his ship, taking whatever ill-gotten gains he could with him.

The forces were:

  • The Maharaja and his mutinous sepoys – played in Hollywood bad guy style by Goat Major

  • The Fleurian expedition under Major Villard, played with impeccable tactical finesse by Jamanicus

  • The French colonial troops under the ultra reactionary Major Chevauchee (accompanied by his mobile guillotine), played by the young Napoleon,  Jeremy

  • The Medetian naval detachment under Commander Nero, played by old sea dog Levied Troop

  • The despicable El Kebab, terror of the high seas, with his vicious crew, played in a scurvy cove style by me

The general scene, as shown in the player’s briefings, was:

Here’s Bakhala itself, with the government building and Governor’s mansion, before all hell broke loose:

As well as the buildings, LT brought some additional jungle bases which fitted in well, and GM’s Frost/Sandgrave ruins and other features really added flavour to the setting. The table was 9 x 4.5 feet, the biggest I’ve ever set up and about the maximum possible for the space available. I managed to finish my jungle bases, as well as some additionally needed terrain boards, just in time. They were long overdue and it’s great to get them done. I also assembled and painted 2 bridges and 3 sampans for the game.

There were a total of about 350 figures in use, although taking early casualties and late arrivals into account, not all were on the table at the same time!

On arrival, the attackers were handed their orders which told them which of the 4 approach routes they’d be taking. The Medetians came by boat via the swamp, the Fleurians came through the hills and the French through the jungle. The Maharaja and El Kebab deployed a third of their forces on watch, and each placed 2 (apparently myopic) sentries further out to give early warning of any approaching enemies.

Everyone gathered their forces, selected some support options, and placed their deployment points. Then the first activation chip was drawn and we were off, with all the usual excitement and consternation of random arrivals and unpredictable events. Nevertheless, everyone formulated a plan and did their best to stick to it, trying to use their command options to the best advantage. The rules always give an excellent game and we used a few house rules to handle the multi-player apect.

The fortunes of the various leaders and their forces went something like this:

The French battled their way forward from the jungle, confronted by increasing numbers of corsairs. The guillotine rumbled into view, causing fear and shock (1 point per group) to all enemies who saw it. Major Chevauchee led from the front, directing his men to crush all opposition and personally fighting in several bloody melees.

His men liberated loot from the Governor’s house (though sensibly refrained from heading upstairs when they spotted the glint of many scimitars – El Kebab’s dreaded Red Blades were lurking in ambush), and then pushed on to be on the verge of crossing the river and cutting the corsair leader off from his ship.

Their actions at Bakhala certainly added lustre to the reputation of the French army.

The Fleurians came from the hills in fine style, Major Villard commanding contingents of line troops, grenadiers, voltigeurs and artillery. Then they bumped into El Kebab’s defences, in particular an ancient artillery piece that did considerable execution.

Steady volleys and steady leadership, despite Villard picking up a wound, finally saw off the enemy and only the arrival of darkness prevented a final assault on the key government building across the river. Fleurie would have to try again to recover it’s colony.

The Medetians – sailors, marines and army regulars under Commander Nero came by boat and were in the thick of it from the start. Erratic oarsmanship resulted in a piecemeal assault, and the mutineers’ cannon balls splashing down among (and sometimes into) the boats didn’t make things any easier.

Numerous landings took place, some only to be met with bayonets and scimitars and cut down or pushed back to the boats. Under a hail of sepoy fire it was to be a hard day for all of Medetia’s brave units.

Despite these challenges, and losses among their officers, they were still battling hard at the end, closing in by boat on El Kebab’s escape route. Most dramatically one group very sneakily managed to gain entrance to the rear of the government building and set it alight from within! Back home for tea and medals then, and to plan another hunt for the slippery corsairs.

The Maharaja, resplendent in his gilded armour and helmet, managed affairs from atop his new ‘palace’. His previous career as a lowly sepoy sergeant had taught him how to lead men, and his little army gave a bloody nose to any who dared challenge his rule.

He even launched a late cavalry charge at the French, which caused a lot of alarm, if not actual results. His prized elephant was kept in reserve as an escape vehicle, but wasn’t required!

Marvellous parade-ground marching by the Maharaja’s newly-loyal sepoys, lovely converted figures by GM:

That man knows how to defend a building!

At the end, he still held his palace, but there was the small matter of it being on fire and his victorious men were soon ordered to the river to get water!

El Kebab’s day had already involved putting out a fire – his mansion had attracted a burning cinder from the nearby fighting and required him to urgently order 2 units to form a bucket detail!

However, with the fire out, his problems were only just beginning. His forces, handy in a fight but no real match for trained regulars, were being hammered from all sides by the French and Fleurians. Despite a brave stand around the gun, and some frenzied charges into the French columns, things were crumbling and only his ferocious reputation kept his men’s morale from collapsing. The loss of several of his key henchmen also contributed to El Kebab’s misfortunes.

By the end, he was forced to charge out of the mansion at the head of his Red Blades to push back the French voltigeurs. Nearly killing Major Chevauchee in the melee, he then wheeled his men left and headed for the bridge and his ship. The night would be spent groping their way in the dark downriver to the sea. It was another close escape!

So, that was how ‘Destination Bakhala’ played out. Everyone got stuck in and saw plenty of action, and everything was done with an excellent spirit and a desire to make it an enjoyable day all-round. Well done guys, and you’re all cordially invited to come back for a follow-on game if you fancy it.

After all, there’s a lot of unfinished business in the jungle and on the high seas…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brilliant Weekend In Essex (yes, really)

I can’t believe it’s over 3 weeks ago already, and I’m only just posting now! LAW forum member Essex Boy finally had a few of us down for a first game in ‘The Shed’. This snazzy new venue has reached almost mythical status, due to the length of time it’s taken him to get it ready. But, it was most certainly worth the wait.

The Shed has very good lighting and heating, and a decent amount of space for 6 people to play a decent-sized game. Every wargamer’s deam 🙂

Essex flag bunting greeted us on our arrival! You can’t have everything I suppose.

Inside was an excellent custom-prepared battlefield, assembled that very morning (with the help of a just-woken Andy apparently!)

We were using Iain and Gary’s 20mm WSS armies, plus a brigade of Andy’s Savage Swans and Altfritzenbergers that he’d painted for the occasion. The troops all looked superb, and together with the terrain, presented a real spectacle and were a pleasure to play with.

Iain had devised a cunning scenario which called for both sides to fight for control of the numerous road junctions. Andy and I played as the defending Franco-Bavarian (and Alfritzenberg) commanders, with Gary, Tim and Simon controlling the allies. Iain ran the game, umpired and took control of the odd unit of locals who popped up to surprise the allied attackers.

The rules used were Rank & File and they gave a decent period feel, were easy to learn/remember, and allowed the game to move along at a good pace. There were close-fought actions all over the battlefield, with attritional losses building up steadily (and often worryingly) during the day. By the end Andy and I had just about held on, and controlled enough of the roads to be declared the victors. It was getting very close though!

Once the game had been wrapped up, we had a good evening filled with Mexican food and plenty of beer, and all promised to come again when The Shed doors are open again to the LAW mob.

Big thanks to Iain for all the effort he put in, and for the others for their contributions and great company. This type of weekend is always an excellent way to spend hobby and social time, and this was no exception.

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. 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!

 

 

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.

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!