Thursday, April 30, 2020

A very special birthday - could not let this one pass unheralded

Today is 100th birthday of Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore the absolutely super gentleman who has now raised an astonishing £30+ million (yes million !!) for NHS charities here in UK.
Lots of praise, so well deserved, and birthday wishes to him today from all quarters.
Truly a beacon in these strange days.

100 years young and was made an honourary Colonel today.

Pic from his WW2 service days, front and centre (a sign of things to come ?)

Thousands of birthday cards he has received 

Even here in N.Ireland the wall mural painters have paid tribute

Field of Battle 3 - a list of changes from FOB2

Having been privileged to get a gander at Pdr version of FOB3, Brent (the author) as asked me to publish a list of changes/tweaks that I had noted.

Posting here for those interested, however if you do not have/use FOB it may make little sense, but if not I can only highly recommend this final version.

For those in UK Lancashire Games are taking orders for the rules and the card decks for those so disposed.

FOB 3 changes from FOB 2

Herewith a brief list of changes I have noted from FOB2 to FOB3 showing a substantial number of major and minor changes/tweaks. They are in no specific order and only outlined (as don’t want to spoil anyone else’s reading fun!). There may be some I have missed or am in error over detail (so feel free to add to list/expand info)
Also not mentioned is Seasons of Battle as new to most everyone (but a lot of changes from an early play-test set I tried)

Order and Disorder replaces In and Out of Command (semantic change)

Changes to card deck which are now a basic 23 cards not 27.

Only 3 Deck quality types now with correspondingly only 1-3 Lulls cards.

Manoeuvre card is gone with its function now included on Leadership card (but not possible if Leader rolls 1 on Rally attempts which must occur first)

Infantry & Artillery Firepower cards renamed as Fire cards (functionally the same)

Rapid and Rolling Fire cards appear for Breach loaders/MGs etc

Special Event card definitions expanded

A new Incident card appears with lots of scenario options (replacing some special cards in FOB2)

Rally from Routing now achieved by rolling higher does not require having to recover 1UI

Daring Deeds – Officers can now assist Rallies by upping Rally dice by 1-3 but this puts them at immediate and corresponding risk (you add 3 so you die on a 1-4 on D12)

Officer Replacements – slight tweak in that Replacement may be delayed on a roll of 1-2 and their Quality is rolled for instead of automatically down 1 dice level.

Units can only Change Facing or Formation not both per Move Segment or on Leadership card

Unit Integrity has been amended, all types now destroyed on reaching zero (previously it was Rout on zero and die on -1) also Cavalry now 4UI and Artillery 3UI.

Cavalry no longer Destroy units when they cause 2UI and Even win, this is now Rout.

Attack Columns do not suffer Down 1 from enemy musketry only from Artillery

Certain units (Skirmishers and Cavalry charged by Inf) can Evade but may or may not become Disordered (DD vs DD)

Skirmish rules tweaked to encourage them to hug terrain (Down 1 firing in open)

Grand Batteries redefined acting as separate Commands with only outside units able to turn.

Terrain in general has had several tweaks with Hedges and Walls now separate features.

Bridges and suchlike no must be taken by Columns ‘Forcing Passage’

Interpenetration has been redefined and restricted (especially by period) and no charging through into contact.

Pursuit has been changed (user defines those types subject) with pursuing units losing same UI as defeated unit.

Lots of Period Specific Army lists (seem to be more than in FOB2?) with English Civil War making a new appearance with quite a few new troop types, formations, special rules.

Lots of defining by period what troop types can or cannot Immediate Melee and suchlike.

Several separate Period specific Quick Reference sheets. 
These include several changes to the old generic FOB2 sheet. 
Some include entries for Cav vs Inf and suchlike.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Distant Plain - Vassal a second family outing.

Started another game of A Distant Plain on Vassal with Dad, Brother and Son.
Brother staying with Coalition (I can see he has an idea how to use them), Dad now Taliban and Son Warlords with me retaining Government.
We played the Main Scenario again and got through 2 Propaganda cards with Coalition being close to a win just before second Propaganda Card but Warlords managed to use Terror in several key locations pegging the Coalition back by loss of Support.
Good to see they are getting the gist of the game and its many strategies, twists and turns.
Good deal of 'diplomacy' in a 4 player game (as in "fer feck sake do something to stop him !!" and suchlike) and just a bit of back stabbing and double dealing.
Great system COIN, not a 'pure' wargame but nice mix of Military, Political and Economic issues backed by historical Events.
And whilst there is no substitute for me to physical play of game with its tactile feel and visual appeal, Vassal is a good system for such remote (and savable) play with family and/or friends.

Situation at end of 2nd Propaganda card

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Field of Battle 3 available (well in USA)

At last Field of Battle 3 is officially published ( along with the card decks (optional purchases as basic but usable sheets included with rules).
A PDF version is to be made available soon as well.
Sadly with US postal charges are just too prohibitive for me to buy direct, but Lancashire Games here in UK are due some stock of both rules and cards (hopefully available early May).
Cannot wait to get my hands on rules to see what changes Brent has wrought on by far my favourite Wargame rules.
I know that there are changes to card decks as in some wording changes and the somewhat superfluous Maneuver card has gone (function now in Leadership card).
Several rules tweaks such as limited Evasion by certain units is back, changes to Interpenetration, Movement and Terrain rules, and a few new concepts like 'Daring Deeds' by Officers and other such minor additions/changes to be revealed in fullness of time.
Also period specific rules and play sheets covering a plethora of wars in the horse and musket period (and for ECW period as a bonus).
The core FOB system is of course fully intact.
By far the biggest addition in this version is the inclusion of the 'Seasons of Battle' scenario generation system (I play tested an early version a couple of years ago) with associated terrain and scenario cards.
I really look forward to delving into and playing these most excellent rules again in their new iteration.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

More board wargaming - solo (Festung Europa) and Vassal (A Distant PLain)

Another session of A Distant Plain tonight with my Government faction winning on 5th Propaganda card with -1 victory total, Brother Coalition 2nd on -2, Dad with Warlords in 3rd on -3 and Son with Taliban 4th on -9.

As this was a learning game we will start afresh in due course with COIN factions remaining same but Warlords and Taliban swapping players.

With only a couple of minor issues (some cards need regenerated/noted as auto-discarded) the game played smoothly on Vassal.

The final positions on Victory Track.

Also managed to get Festung Europa onto table for a solo play.
Not played this much (maybe once before ?) but interesting 'light' CDG game of western front 1943-45 starting with OP Husky.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Vassal - A Distant Plain - more Barr family play

Another session with Son, Brother and Dad tonight of A Distant Plain via Vassal.
We got through a couple more Propaganda cards.
Dad with Warlords was in a winning position at one stage but combined Ops by Government (me) and Coalition (bro) saw them knocked back a bit but still ahead at end of session.
Another session planned for Wednesday which may see game completed.
Great stuff and a gaming life-saver is Vassal !!


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Vassal - Combat Commander

Played some Combat Commander with my Dad via Vassal.
We managed to complete one full scenario 'Bessarabian Knights' and start another 'Rush To Contact'.
Great being able to maintain some game play by this method.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Field of Glory: Napoleonic solo, couple of turns played

Played several turns of FOGN game I had set up.
Really only as a refresher for the rules, which I like despite their competition bent.
Surprisingly I recalled most of the rules (maybe not all the nuances) and things played quickly.
However not very conducive to solo play as very much a two player system so I declined to complete the game.
No real ‘chaos/inertia’ factor, bar some Complex Move Tests.
But it does what it says it does and is not trying to be something else.
Certainly the systems are all slick and relatively simple and geared to generating a decisive result in a 2-3 hours of play ie perfect for competitions.
I do like a lot of the interplay between unit types and all plausible stuff and still think the battle generation system is inspired.
But certainly not as dynamic or as exciting as FOB, but nice to have an alternative that has points and decent army lists for generating games with minimal preparation.
Ah well hope to give them another outing once human interaction (or at least the wargamer version) is restored.

Some strange angular cloud formations seemed to pass over the battlefield.....strange days indeed...

Field of Glory: Napoleonic - solo game set up

Decided to set up a solo game with FOGN for a change of pace from Piquet style games.
Decided to go with French and Prussians circa Autumn 1813.
Drew up quickly a couple of very simple armies using published lists and rolled for deployment and suchlike and troops now on table and ready to engage (well except for the compulsory Division in Reserve for Prussians.
I randomly drew deployments from those available and it turned out with French on Positional Defence and Prussians on Flexible Defence and so nominally attackers.
Hope to get playing over next few days (hard to stay out of garden in current sunny spell) of ‘staying at home’.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Vassal - A Distant Plain a family affair.............

Managed a to start a game of 'A Distant Plain' tonight via Vassal involving my son, brother and Dad, so very much a family affair (we also used Whats App video call).
Only Dad has played the physical game so tad slow initially explaining some stuff to son and brother but once first couple of card plays done it started to flow well.
Bit of a learning curve also for me controlling via Vassal but nothing too brain reducing.
We played through to end of first Propaganda card and as yet no clear leader (strategies only starting to become clear to newbies).
Son is playing as Taliban, brother as Coalition, Dad as Warlords and me as Government.
Great fun and really nice in these odd days to have a family 'get together'.
Plan is to play at least once per week.

The situation at end of first Propaganda card.

How simply fantastic is this old soldier ????!!!

++++For non UK readers this chap (Capt Tom Moore) is 99 years young (will be 100 on 30th April) and is ex Military having served in WW2. He wanted to raise £2000 for local NHS (National Health Service) for having helped him with hip replacement and other issues. He intended to complete 100 laps of his home (approx 25m in batches of 10) and his efforts went viral and very quickly he had raised tens and then hundreds of thousands of £. He completed his 100 laps (hence the Guard of Honour) and has raised over £15million (yes million !!) and has become a national hero (again)  and symbol for us all. Truly these were the greatest generation.++++

Friday, April 10, 2020

Field of Battle - Lutzen the Guard fails !!

Managed with session late last night and this morning (both sides of chores) to complete this most entertaining solo game.
Things really got intense with huge swings of fortune going to and fro between both sides !
Units were decimated then recovered, flung themselves into melee destroying or being destroyed in equal measure.
Both sides at one point had exhausted all their Morale Chips and only surviving on `owed` chips.
The French at one stage had a failed Army Morale roll until I recalled my scenario rule that capture or recapture of a village garnered +5 Morale points to a force.
With both Rahna and now Klein-Groschen in their hands this gave them 10 extra Morale allowing them to continue.
French losses in actual units through Routs and Destruction greatly exceeded the Allied losses (although several units on table Routing) but they were hanging in there and at one crucial point, after several absolutely devastating volleys, had forced the Allies back to zero Morale, but the Army Morale test just did not appear (a fortuitous reshuffle likely aided the Allies).
Subsequently the Allies gained the upper hand again, mainly through staunch resistance of Russian foot and a breakthrough by Prussian Grenadier Brigade in French centre, dwindling the French Morale pool to zero and gaining some much needed Allied Morale.
Several Young Guard and the Old Guard Chasseurs had succumbed.
Just when it looked like a foregone conclusion 3 Allied Leader deaths in one go (Army Morale card) threatened the Allied success as their Brigades went out of command.
However their next card was Leadership allowing them to recover nearly all units despite lower grade replacement commanders.
More mayhem occurred with some units being charged on flanks as both sides tried to exploit gaps and a couple of devastating Allied cannon cannister blasts saw French in real trouble and of course an Army Morale was turned and failed by the Emperors forces !!

Such a joy to play through this even solo.
The straight up in your face nature of the encounter helped as not much scope for sneaky Grand manoeuvring bar when to commit reserves.
Was fun to get my entire Young Guard collection on to table (12 units) and was different using randomised Unit stats rather than my usual ‘generic’ system.

Besides scenario house rules (re Morale extras and set up) I used a couple of house rules, the main one effecting the game being use of ‘Brigade Skirmish Screen’ units, units of 3UI skirmish only types an idea ‘stolen’ from GDB/GDA.
I do have a house rule re ‘Hasty Squares’ for Infantry contacted by Cavalry but only used this twice (not a great deal of Cavalry here).

I could extensively wax lyrical (And do a bit below !) about the strength of FOB as a ‘big battle’ rule set but suffice to say I own no other set that comes close to generating such an exciting game that builds a real narrative to a game, full of excitement and incident all within a plausible Highly playable framework.
Not a ‘chess with dice’ system as if you want complete control of your troops FOB will frustrate you greatly.
For me it is a set that generates games that play out just like accounts of battles that I read, with equal amounts of inspired tactics, luck, frustration, units under performing or being truly heroic.
The lack of a strictly structured sequence of play is a major boon as in bulk of other sets I know when and how far a unit will move, when it will fire etc not so in FOB/PK as the vagaries of the Initiative rolls, deck sequence and construction, combined with the opposed dicing systems and the odds vs evens results (for Movement, Firing, Melee) lead to a much more exciting and unpredictable gaming experience.
Some deride the PK systems as the game ‘playing you’ rather than you playing the game, but I feel this is mainly due to a lack of understanding of the inherent game design and simulation model and typically a wish to be the ‘100 foot General‘ and in control of nearly all aspects troop interaction with only the dice rolls adding any random element (the chess with dice style or as I sometimes call these system ‘millimetres matter’ sets).
I do enjoy other styles of game (such as Shako, FOGN, GDA) but almost always find PK/FOB just delivers a much more satisfying, dynamic, exciting and decisive game experience overall with much less rules overhead.
FOB certainly has several abstractions such as free interpretations, lack of 'Brigade' morale (its all about the overall Army level), no bounce through, no overtly obvious use of supporting lines/troops and the pre-game preparation of forces and stats can be time consuming (but also enjoyable).
I have used several house rules for varied periods but in the end have cut these down to a minimal few I actually use as (as per Brents design notes) less is actually more.
But (and like Beyonces its a very BIG one!!) very few if any sets come close to dynamic nature of game style, with only Blucher, Maurice, GDA (and to a degree Black Powder) coming anywhere close with variable levels of ‘inertia and/or chaos’ included but still somewhat more stilted as games overall.
If FOB3 turns out to be less than I expect it to be then FOB2 still hits the ‘buttons’ for me.

A selection of pics (with captions this time) from last 2 sessions.

The false 'victory' for the Allies

French regroup outside Klein-Groschen

French centre before the 'fall' with silenced battery (green marker)

Routing Young and Old Guard !!

French still trying swing to right of Rahna (a D8 leader did not help here)

Allied left refusing..................

Russian and French Guard light cavalry tangle (both were subsequently lost)

The Prussian Grenadier Brigade supports Horns Brigade

Temporary stalemate at Klein-Groschen

French centre buckling (silenced artillery now gone)

Prussian Grenadiers swing towards French centre

Overview showing French trying to turn Allied left

Klein-Groschen has fallen to reformed Legere

Prussian Grenadiers are pushing into centre

Russians stoically holding the Allied left despite losses

Prussian Grenadiers suffer temporary set back (1 unit Routing but quickly recovered)

The bitter slog continues on French left with disorder (Out of Command) the order of the day

French high-water mark as Allied left looks about to collapse

Klein-Groschen firmly in French hands again

Overview at stage that both Armies had zero Morale left (both swung up and down wildy)

Prussian Hussars appear

Both sides saw leaders fall here

Prussian Grenadiers forge ahead breaking French centre

Allied left holds.......barely

French in disorder and rout

Overview of French right and centre

And of their left

Final throes of battle as both sides struggle to inflict the coup de grace........

Prussian screening Klein-Groschen whilst pushing towards Kaja

Prussian Grenadiers sweep all before them and now about to charge into flank of a Young Guard unit.

French failure on Allied left now plain

The final victory of Allied cause is secured.

French losses vis Allied (a whopping 14 units vs 3) but a mere 3 Allied Morale remained !!

The basic map (from a General De Brigade scenario)