Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Three influential wargaming books

For likely my last post of this (relentlessly crap) year I have jumped on board a nice diverting little ditty circulating on Blogs wherein one highlights three books that have influenced your wargaming initially and/or over the years.

Certainly before I was playing in a Wellsian 'chuck stuff to hit' style on the floor with all sorts of Airfix figures and kits.

First up has to be my very first set of 'proper' wargame rules Operation Warboard which I obtained as a 12 year back in the day (ie 1976) and which very much set me on the course of the bottomless pit of miniature wargames.

Have re-read several times and it still has a great set of playable old school core rules and background info. 

Lots of stuff about converting Airfix (and other) plastic figures kits due to limits of availability and most of the photos of games by author and his son used unpainted figures and vehicles with very basic terrain pieces (including chalked on roads/rivers) compared to todays items !

Second on my list is not strictly a single volume but the magazine Battle.
I discovered this excellent mag around 1977, before it was amalgamated into Military Modelling (another contender) and it broadened my horizons beyond WW2 and 20mm plastics.
Eye watering pics of colourful metal figures from all periods just blew my impressionable tiny mind.

Last but not least it has to be the Piquet series of rules (that lead directly to my favourite Field of Battle and suchlike) that showed me a much more open and flavoursome style of wargaming compared to the more traditional and somewhat staid types.
Bit of a 'love 'em or hate 'em' set but just such a breath of fresh air and very much a style of game I found myself increasingly drawn too.

There are several others I could have picked that will now get an honourable mention and that is not even considering any historical reference books, movies or indeed board wargames, many of which greatly influenced my wargaming choices and playing time and expenditure over the years.

In no particular order of merit but are all sets that got me into new periods or types of play:

A bit of PC Gaming

In a lull/rut of wargaming activity here at present as I am finding figure gaming somewhat lack lustre in its appeal whilst in seemingly never ending solo mode, so I played a few games on PC.

First up is a free (via Steam) WW2 card game called Kards - The World War II Card Game that is a nice quick playing very light game that can certainly while away some time.

Lots of free decks to start you off and easy to play on PC.

You can of course buy more/better cards if you wish (not done so) and there is an online version which I have not tried yet.

Then it was back to an old favourite Eastern Front II with a late war Hungary vs Russia scenario, still a great game this despite its age (especially in PC terms) and just so many scenarios available.

Finally another oldie but goodie Combat Mission: Barbarossa To Berlin with some 'Squad Leader' type action (am still playing this system by Email with a US chap) on the chilly Eastern Front.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

All Bridges Burning set up

Managed to get All Bridges Burning fully set up for hopefully playing through of the tutorial. 

As with all the COIN games components are excellent and rather eye catching (loving the wintery look)

Similarly to all games in the series there are several nuances and unique rules specific to the subject matter at hand, which being about the Finnish Civil War in 1917-18 I am not at all familiar with.

This is first COIN title I have that has an overtly non-combatant style faction (the Moderates) which is primarily Political rather than Military or Insurgent, interesting to see how they play.

Unfortunately my levels of concentration of late have been rather low (anyone else finding this ?) and will have to try this one in small chunks if I am to assimilate it to any degree. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

All Bridges Burning (how apt)

All Bridges Burning the latest COIN series finally arrived today but I confess that presently lacking any enthusiasm for this or anything gaming related.

Will hopefully get into it in due course does look good.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

A little stolen quote

Stole the following from the excellent Blog by James Roach which I thought sort of summed up my similar feelings regarding rules akin to Piquet/FOB, including the fact that I do also play/like ‘incremental’ style games but just prefer the ‘decisive’ types (as highlighted)

He is replying to a comment about To The Strongest (a set I really must dust off and try !)

“Bedford: I haven't changed from Piquet. 

TtS have a very different approach, but both games share two ingredients not found in that many games - those ingredients are tension and decision points.

In both games you never quite know how much you can achieve in a 'go', and even less how much your opponent can. 

Both games involve balancing risks. 

This is the key to tension in wargames.

Both games are a series of decision points, a lot of which have the potential to be 'decisive' rather than 'incremental'. 

In both games, you can make sweeping tactical movements in a single turn, and in both games you can wipe out units (both yours and your opponents) in a single turn. 

Critical decision points abound, you just don't know, at the start of each turn, how many you get to make, where, or when (which goes back to the tension thing).

Piquet and TtS are my favourite wargames - not the only ones I play but, definitely my favourite.”

Friday, December 04, 2020

Napoleonic solo action - using Black Powder (and Clash of Eagles)

Got in some action on table with solo Napoleonic game.

I started of using General D'Armee rules but found those difficult to use in solo mode so after some deliberation I decided to use Black Powder (a 'Marmite' set like Piquet) with add-ons from the excellent Clash Of Eagles supplement.

BP works pretty well for solo play as each side completes its turn in its entirety before other acts with only minimal interaction such as Closing Fire (if charged) and fighting in Melee.

Not a big fan of the 'buckets of dice' melee system but to be fair it does make things exciting to a degree.

I used 2/3rds of written ranges so Infantry shoot out to 12" and Field Artillery to 24", I think I would reduce the maximum Musketry range to maybe 6" as 12" just looks too long on table with 15mm troops.

Most certainly a fast playing game with BP (at its core it is a very simple game) and the Clash Of Eagles supplemental rules go a long way to generating decent period flavour, if one can remember them all in heat of battle !

I would personally place it well behind Piquet/FOB, Shako and GDA/GDB in pecking order but it does appeal for large multi-player games as very free and easy gameplay 

Couple of pics from session with Gen D'Armee, note Hesitant Marker on Brigade at stream and Brigade Skirmish Screens deployed (a system I stole for FOB).

And from the Black Powder sessions:

French push forward on left

Action in centre (note French Lt Inf in Mixed Column formation (ie with skirmish screen)

French Brigade crosses stream under fire from Prussian artillery

French pushing forward across the field

Prussians hold ridge line as French push in centre

Prussian Dragoon reserve committing itself to right flank as a unit of Uhlans were overrun

Victorious French Chasseurs force Prussian foot into square as they advanced after melee

Prussian line under pressure

French have taken the village

Prussian holding on left

A Blunder sees French Brigade Retire one move after crossing stream !

But they then get a double move and push forward

Exchange of musketry and casualties mount on both sides

Prussian Reserve Battalions arrayed as French Columns advance

Prussian Dragoons tackle more Chasseurs (after destroying a unit) but melee is indecisive (both units Shaken)

French Column shaken by artillery but survives Break Test 

Another French column Shaken and forced to Retire behind village (In BP units Retire 1-3 moves or are Broken and removed instead of Routing on table)

More Shaken French in centre

A unit of Prussian Hussars broke themselves against a 'Hasty' square on left but the square now charged by fresh Prussian foot.