Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Combat Commander addiction continues...and FAB Bulge makes appearance

Enjoying this excellent game system so much I could not resist temptation to obtain the Stalingrad Battle Pack (along with an issue of C3i with CC:E content Issue 12). Both hopefully winging their merry way from USA (amazingly cheaper even with postage than buying from UK supplier !?)

Also managed to get Fast Action Battles: The Bulge onto table (several days ago) but no bloody time to try it out !

Friday, January 25, 2013

Combat Commander: Normandy game

Managed to wangle an evening off and so an unscheduled outing to my Dads for couple more Combat Commander gameplay.
Played a couple from my newly acquired Normandy battle pack.
First up was 'New Highlanders' set around Authie with me as Canadians against Dad with 12th SS Hitler Jugend.
Canucks in Recon posture with SS attacking. Both Elite types but with SS having better firepower and support of some nasty 150mm Artillery.
This one proved to be a very close run thing for the Canucks indeed with them down to a single VP point when luckily the game ended on first Sudden Death roll !!
If SS can get into Melee they are very tough hombres especially with a decent leader in tow.
Second scenario was another Canadian vs SS affair 'Graveyard of the North Shores' with Canucks attacking dug-in HJ at Capriquet airfield.
Canadians have superiority in numbers but they have to cross cornfields against the SS who have Trenches and support from 81mm Mortar Battery.
I managed to sweep Hun from right hand side of board but failed to give them any similar grief on my left.
Second Sudden Death roll ended this one in SS favour (we seem to be trading honours evenly in these scenarios).
This one had lots of incidents and events with both sides gaining Heroes and Canucks getting a 140mm Battery support which failed to hurt SS but suppressed and broke several Canucks with one wayward (ie short) barrage !!
Great stuff once more with this hugely enjoyable game and whilst battle pack adds a couple of special rules (only one we encountered was Scouts who are essentially Observers for on board Mortars) there is but nothing sizeable or overly complex.
Some of the D-Day type scenarios look very interesting.

Authie initial set up

SS encroaching

Now getting downright rude coming into our billets !

Capriquet defences

Canadians arrayed against them in the corn

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Modern Spearhead game and some new goodies..

Played a game of Modern Spearhead last evening at Stephen B's with him as umpire against another Stephen P (they hunt in packs).
Stephen B set up a game in 6mm pitting Syrians against Israelis in the Bekka Valley Lebanon in 1982. Israelis (Stephen P) had Veteran units comprising 2 Merkerva Tank Battalions and a Mechanized Battalion.
They set up hidden in defence and were classed as Nato 1 type doctrine with some artillery support and 2 Aircraft sorties.
The Syrians (yours truly) had command of 2 Tank Brigades (1 of T72s & 1 of T62s) and a Mechanized Brigade in BMPs with 2 Batteries of 122mm and one SPG battery of 152mm and classed as Warsaw Pact 2 doctrine.
Syrian mission was simply to get 1 Brigade off the Zionist table edge, Israeli mission to stop this and break 2 of my 3 Brigades.
Syrians therefore had a huge numbers advantage (36 Tanks vs 8) but lesser quality and a large amount of real estate to traverse, in 16 turns maximum, as game was played down length of 6ft table for a change.
Stephen P had never played MSH or any modern period game whilst I had never played MSH (despite owning it from publication) but have played WW2 Spearhead.
My plan was brilliant in its simplicity drawing three attacks arrows for respective Brigades straight down the length of the table on the right hand side (basically split in two by a road) to Zionist edge and a simple pedal to the metal subtlety.
Surprisingly this actually worked as Stephen P not being fully conversant with MSH/SH sat right back (on a couple of hills and a central built-up area) which allowed me to proceed unmolested for several turns passing the table centre line before coming under any sort of fire.
I was then aided by several poor throws by Israeli gunners (I blamed it on their having Arab children 'employed' in their munitions factories) which saved several Arab tank crews from almost certain destruction.
I then hurled my Mech Infantry combat teams into close combat with as many Israeli units as I could to stop them firing on my T72 Brigade.
They suffered losses (eventually enough to cause a break test which they failed) but did kill a couple of the precious Israeli units including a Merkeva)
Their sacrifice freed up the T72 Brigade to conduct an end run to table edge after running gauntlet of Zionist air strikes (these were singularily pathetic destroying nothing) and win the game.
Just as well as the T62 Brigade was suffering greatly from the other Merkerva Battalion and was close to breaking point.
Israelis I think needed to be much less passive in their defence and should have moved up from initial deployment area to hold Arabs much further down the table.
They can win the scenario even if they lose every unit but still a tough ask to halt 3 Brigades with 3 Battalions no matter how good quality they are.
Great stuff so good in fact that I only managed to take 2 picks of my initial deployment as I got so caught up in action (always a good sign).
A nice reminder of how fast and playable the Spearhead system is and nice to see MSH in action (adds a bit more complexity due to modern weaponry -ATGWs etc but nothing excessive).

Syrian move on to the battlefield

Also more board game goodies arrived this week........................................

This is supplemental pack for Combat Commander

This one an Ebay second hand purchase (but in great condition)

This one sourced from USofA

Just this very hour received an email from one of chaps from Munster bemoaning my not being able to attend this year (not as much as I am !!!) and attached this rather pertinent picture............

Monday, January 21, 2013

Combat Commander:Europe via Vassal

Due to wintry conditions was unable to get to my Dads for a planned game of Combat Commander: Europe last night so we decided to try playing a scenario using Vassal for an online real time game.
I picked a scenario entitled 'Paralyzed from the West Down' (which I erroneously identified as one played in last CC:E post....d'oh !).
After working out how to establish a 'room' (yes that is what I said a room - in my best Clouseau accent) and connect it was fairly straight forward to generate and set up the scenario.
Playing the game via Vassal took a wee bit of getting used to as I had to work out just how some actions and icons worked but nothing too onerous and once we got into the flow it all went fine.
Bit slower than face to face play as need to allow bit extra time for scrolling map and checking the Card Hand window and suchlike.
But some things are very well done in the module like click an icon to do Dice Roll, Events and Random Hex card draws.
So all in all it was nice alternative to physical play of game.
Neither of us have a microphone or PC camera so early turns saw lots of typing to the in game text box until we realised we could use the 'Facetime' feature of my iPad and Dads iPhone which meant we could see each other and talk which saved a lot more time and allowed banter and much better arguing facility.
Scenario itself was usual fun stuff with my Elite American Paras running out of time (again !) before taking enough Victory Hexes or inflicting enough damage on Germans.
Lots of buildings in this one and good covered approaches but of course being in buildings Germans need winkled out by melee and I got very few opportunities to generate Smoke Cover or get sufficient Advance orders.
One glorious melee saw a single Yank Para squad take out a German leader, Weapons crew and Conscript squad (mainly due to Breaking the Conscripts by Ambush action prior to melee).
Sodding Huns then managed to return couple of destroyed squads to map by lucky Event draws !
We both generated Heroes this game but they made no real impact.
I managed to exit a couple of squads and a leader of enemy map edge, which gave me several VPs and these units then are eligible to come back on later as reinforcements.
First time we saw this in action.
Still thoroughly enjoying this game system even in 'digital' iteration.

Couple of screenshots from within Vassal

Nearing the end with Paras struggling to take large central building

The German Sudden Death card 'roll' that ended game at first opportunity

Saturday, January 19, 2013

DBMM Galatian vs Selecuid

Played another Dbmm game today against Stephen to give him another practice game for next weekends Munster Competition (which I am getting really miffed I cannot attend due to ongoing work issues !).
I decided to use Galatians (ie glutton for punishment) despite knowing they are up against it with the Selecuids having KnF wedges and KnX troop type to which the Celts have no real answer.
I ended up as Invader (quite becoming the Galatians) and we generated quite a lot of terrain mostly on my side.
Thankfully the Greeks set up first so I had a bit of leeway in deployment.
I had two commands with mainly Warband a command with Cv, CvI and some CvO Chariots, an Ally Thessalian (of which more later) completed my lot.
Wont detail Stephens in case enemy spies read this prior to next Saturday. Suffice to say no surprises.
As ever with Warband army it was a straightforward (in all meanings of word) advance to contact (or 'just as Mr Barker intended' as its known).
Psiloi held my Warbands up for a turn whilst enemy mounted got ready to charge. I pre-empted the Cataphract strike by charging with my Chariots and Cavalry but the outcome was predictable and my Cavalry command was soon shaken.
The Companion wedges then hit home and over course of couple of turns decimated my central warband command. Meanwhile..............over on my right my Thessalian allies had decided to be Unreliable (paid off by Greek gold !?) and refused to activate.
When my mounted command succumbed this then led to their bloody well changing side and charging erstwhile allies !! damn traitors.
This sort of stuff of course is why we like Dbmm and we just realised today that we have been playing this system for almost 6 years !!! my goodness how time flies.
I had decent Pip dice rolls today but combat rolls were usual awful standard.
A quick but enjoyable game.
Those KnF Wedges are very potent as the not counting overlaps is rather awesome.
Good luck to Stephen for Munster (some other sod will have to take pics and do a report this year).

Galatians deployed (traitors at bottom)

Selecuids arrayed

Selecuid view of Galatian lines

Traitorous sods

Galatian view of Greek lines

About to clash

About to die

Traitors spring into action attacking 'allies' in the rear......ouch

Monday, January 14, 2013

Allemagne 1813 (for those that asked to see it)

Managed to get this one laid out on table (well actually in my newly acquired Ikea poster frame and then on table) for some super model posing but no time to actually play.
But thought I would put pics up (note some are arty farty again) as several chaps had expressed great interest in this game. Components are quite nice especially the counters which all have individual illustrations on them for each Corps and Leader.
The map is tad cluttered to my eyes but the amount of spaces of course leads to plenty of options for campaigning and operations.
Brief shufty through the rules book and looks to be decent playable system with a few quirks such as tactical and event cards.
Hope to get a go with it sometime (I recall saying this about several games !!)
Of course the miniatures man within me is screaming 'Campaign' map !!

Anyway for now the photo shoot................

Overview of game and charts

The map in Glory of Greenness

Close ups (or money shots) but justice not done to counters (double click for larger versions)

Combat Commander: Europe more merry mayhem and waffle

A day off and so to war !!! at least of the cardboard variety..........................

Had another bash at two scenarios of Combat Commander: Europe with my Father and again an superb session it was too.
Both have really taken to this game with its nice balance of flavour/excitement/chaos/frustration/unpredictability/simulation and sheer damn fun (always of benefit to include that in a game I say).

First scenario played (number 6) was entitled 'Paralyzed From The West Down' (not the most PC of titles) which had me as Americans trying to wrest control of a chateau from Germans in 1944.
As you can see in first pic below a tall order for Yanks as German can defend the area pretty handily. They have a bunch of Elite types with 2 HMGs 2 LMGs and a 75mm IG plus 2 Leaders.
They also start with 5 Wire counters which act as rubble in scn being able to start in or adjacent to any chateau hex.
Yanks have also a bunch of Elite types backed by some Line Inf with 2 HMGs 2 MMGs a couple of satchel charges and then later a couple of Engineer Squads and 2 Flamethrowers ('Let 'em burn !).

The Chateau shows a Red circle on left-most hex which is the nominal Victory Hex which I targeted singularly only to suddenly realise that one must take the whole 7 hex Chateau to qualify for VPs !!
Made little odds to be honest as I could not get a sufficient run of move/advance orders to make any real push (I did try on the left where terrain masks my moves especially as Krauts did not cover opting to concentrate solely at chateau).
This lead to fairly ineffective exchanges of lead from us both (with high morale and decent cover we both were able to recover any broken units.
I only managed to take 1 hex in the end after flaming some Heinies but Sudden Death time roll ended game in Kraut favour.
Toughie for Yanks but fun trying even if the GIs were reluctant to play ball (this sort of thing can radily frustrate players used to more structured/phased games like Squad Leader but I loves it).

The chateau and its defenders

Yanks line up ready

Second scenario (number 7) was entitled 'Bessarabian Nights' (groan) and pitted an anti-Partisan sweep by Germans (father by strange quirk of fate ie demand).
Interesting set-up for this one as Russians units set up in random hexes (a mix of decent SMG troops with Militia and several Green teams with some LMGs and satchel charges and 2 Leaders) and then Huns setting up after but have to maintain a chain of adjacent units (bunch of Volksgrenadiers couple of LMGs and leaders). 
VP locations are spread all over the board and both sides get 1 secret VP chit in addition to the open options of 'hold all at 1st Sudden Death opportunity for auto win' and 'score double points for eliminating enemy'. 
Partisans have added bonus of only counting 1 move point instead of 2 per wood hex. However they have only 4 card hand as defenders to Hun 5 card Recon hand and more importantly only allowed a meagre 1 order per turn compared to Hun 3. 
This was an extremely fun game with the VP levels swaying to and fro and the Huns hoping for the Sudden Death rolls on turns 5-7 to be successful and then the Ivans crying out for same on turns 8 & 9.
On turn 10 the VP level was a 1 for Hun but a Time Event would give the Ivans 1 VP as defenders which would mean a draw. 
This meant Hun was loathe to use the tie-breaking Initiative card (can be used to force re-rolls of 'dice'). Game was decided by a Russian Hero (event generated earlier in game) moving a whopping 21 hexes (move of 7) in 3 turns and managing to get to the key victory location (made obvious as 'secret' Hun objective both by his actions and by its being revealed by an event) and take it, after having weathered volleys of lead enroute (his morale of 9 makes him hard to break). 
Huns desperately discarded whole hands of cards trying to get an Advance order to close assault the wee bugger (his firepower is rather low making him vulnerable to melee when alone). 
However this time a Time event favoured me as the Sudden Death roll ended the game. 
Great stuff to end a game that was full of move counter-move, assaults (really bloody these), events and use of foxholes and mines. 
Tension level was so high we managed to crack the corner of glass I brought to cover map (well ok it was really my elbow but sounds more dramatic)
Having good grasp of rules now our games fairly pelt along and that is now twice we have managed 2 scenarios in one evening (about 5 hours play) including set-up. 
Small maps and OOBs really help here.

Germans concentrated at start whilst Partisans all over the show

Struggle in center of board (Mines, Foxholes and Veteran counters in play)

Herewith also a bit of waffle i put on BGG ref a discussion over the frustration some players have with the CC system for those of you bored enough to read:

Combat Commander is what is from what I term the chaos or narrative school of rules systems 
When I can't draw say a required move card is it frustrating ? Yes but I also feel it represents (to my imagination) a reluctance for the PBI to get up and go/time taken to communicate and explain the actual order and that hoary old term fog of war. This also builds the narrative aspect of the game as you include the above in how the story of the game enfolds.
Personally I love this sort of stuff.

In a game just last night my Russian Hero (generated in game and another narrative point) moved a whopping 21 hexes in 3 turns, survived numerous shots from the Huns to take the key VP location. The German player desperately hoping to draw an Advance card to move into melee and retake hex and torn between need to discard to do this or try to rely on shooting alone (hard when hero has 9 morale). A sudden death time roll ended game with the hero giving Russians victory !! Super stuff full of narrative episodes, excitement, frustration, decision points, risk and plain good old fun :-)

Now a game like ASL is what i term a structured or sequenced style game. It is therefore a somewhat more predictable game as it relies on a fixed turn phase sequence the main unpredictable element being the use of dice rolls. No cards or chit pulls means every piece on board (in general terms) is capable of moving, firing or assaulting etc as the player so desires. 
There is still (again in my imagination) a strong if a tad lessened narrative element to such games just generated differently. I move my squads in their move phase to confront enemy positions which they do after suffering losses from enemy defensive fire, my leaders recover wavering units, my initial prep firing is largely ineffective damn ! Rethink....ok let's try to suppress (ie break) with MGs in prep fire, then in advance phase move into melee the enemy hexes and do them unto death. 
Whilst predictable/structured in terms of how I can plan and hopefully execute (enemy actions not withstanding) the story line still unfolds with a degree of uncertainty and excitement and again that good old fun aspect.

Both systems are IMHO excellent Infantry action games in their own ways (of course ASL includes AFVs which adds a whole other level of narrative !) and scratch similar and yet different itches in different ways.

Can't say I find one a better simulation or indeed game than other overall just different with different levels of abstraction (they are games and so inherently abstract no matter how one sees their model of so called reality) Certainly CC is simpler game with a lot less rules (by a huge factor !) but then it does not aim like SL to be as extensive a system/game. This also means that CC games tend to be quicker (we have managed to complete two scenarios per evening last two outings) than SL which is often a reason to select it as choice

I play a lot of miniatures rules as well and they too enjoy/suffer (delete as you desire) similar differences in approach with a lot of newer rule systems (IABSM/BKC etc) relying on cards or unit activations/command rolls compared to the older/traditional structured rulesets (WRG/Cmd Decision/SH etc). I must give honourable menyion here to the Piquet family of rules which embraced the chaos theory very early on (and remain among my favourite rule set)

I say play them both styles/systems and enjoy the narrative/story/ride/fun/predictability/unpredictabilty/chaos/structure I know I do :-)