Saturday, April 29, 2023

Ulster Wargames Society - Pike and Shotte ECW game (plus Zulu War, WW3 and FOGR)

UWS club day today and I partook in a very entertaining game using Pike and Shotte (from Black Powder stable) run by Billy with his excellent 28mm English Civil War, Scots Covenanters (apparently first time on table top) and Royalists. 

Not a scenario as such just an encounter set up by Billy with Dave S taking the Scots and I the Royalist forces. We both had two similar Brigades of foot and two cavalry wings with Scots having a extra battery of light guns.

Scots suffered a Blunder on first turn which saw an Infantry Brigade retire off-table (we allowed them to come back on to assist game) and this allowed me to get right onto their side of table on my right. This was just as well as two annoying wooded areas were cramping my movement options here. We both exchanged musketry and cannon shot in equal measure but Scots failed a couple of Break Tests (this was to be story of day for Dave S) and holes appeared in their lines which I was able to exploit. In one instance I did roll 7 hits out of 8 to Daves mere 1 in reply in a melee (wargames are games of skill I tells ya!).

My Cavalry on this flank were able to crush (more failed Break Tests) the Scots mounted who were somewhat inferior types (1 less dice in melee and crucially no ability to counter-charge as reliant on pistols) and I was able to turn this flank almost completely.

In centre I had a lesser Commander (7) who failed to advance quickly (several failed/single move command rolls) but as opposing Scots also held back this was a blessing in disguise somewhat. In later turns I did manage several potent volleys (lots of sixes causing Disorder) to harass the Scots foot.

Story on my left flank was that I had a mounted Brigade which included two Dragoon units who were able to advance quickly, dismount and occupy some buildings located on this flank from which they were able to really annoy the Scots mounted (and destroy an isolated gun battery).

My other mounted cavalry launched several charges of which the first singularly failed seeing me lose a unit of cavalry. However subsequently I launched a fresh unit lead by the Brigade commander (risky but great aid to melee hit chance) which routed enemy horse and conducted a sweeping advance to see off more Scots horse. Brigadier was however lucky not to be unhorsed by effective musketry. This saw Scots cavalry on this flank also broken.

With both flanks gone and his left flank foot Brigade under duress Dave called it a day and Scots yielded the field.

Great fun and things fairly belted along as forces engaged each other pretty quickly. Musketry having a whopping 18” range means pain gets inflicted tout suite. 

Been a long time since I played P&S and it took a couple of turns to again get head around the fact that each Pike and Shot Regiment is comprised of 3 'sub-units' (1 Pike block and 2 Musketeers units) rather than one unit with each being capable of independent action and with separate hits/morale states. This can look a bit odd at times compared to other sets I have used (generally such a unit would be a single entity) but once you accept this method of showing the formations and fighting style of period it mostly works especially if players don't abuse the system too much (melee can be confusing).Break tests (ala Black Powder) can be really brutal but that is how rules generate decisive results with minimal rules overhead.  

Initial deployments from behind Scots lines

Royalist right wing cavalry who were to ride to glory alongside Pike and Shot foot

Royalist Dragoons have dismounted and taken village and annoy Scots horse

From Scots perspective (they had just lost a gun battery to Dragoons in field)

Royalist central command is rather tardy in advancing

Things quickly got hot and heavy on Scots left as I tried to squeeze past the woods

Note Royalist cavalry pushing forward.

And they have now turned Scot left flank supported by their foot Regiments (a Scots pike block has just been destroyed by my pike charging their flank)

Scots horse on their right about to implode due to combo of broken and shaken units.

Pressure on Scots wings evident in this view with center 

Dave contemplates what could have been with Chris as Billy records for posterity



Also at club were other games for which a selection of pics, I have no idea as to outcomes

A Team Yankee game in 15mm run by Andy with BAOR vs USSR with loads of kit in action

Phil and son ran a Zulu Wars game with his 20(25?)mm and his trusty home brew rules (based on old Wargames Illustrated set)

And last but not least the Two Daves managed 2 Field Of Glory Renaissance games with Ottoman Turks versus Ethiopians which is certainly an army seldom seen in these parts.


Thursday, April 27, 2023

Soldiers Of Napoleon another try

We decided to give Soldiers of Napoleon another try out today (mainly as Stephen had gotten a copy as a Christmas pressie) despite our misgivings after previous outing.

We tried a 3 Brigade game (700pts each) with Stephen using his 1815 British/Allied troops and I the French.

We used 1 Pace = 20mm on a 6.5' x 5' table and this seemed to suit well with our 15mm figures and their basing.

Must say we both enjoyed the game much more than before as we simply accepted that 'Extended Line' is awesome in the rules but essentially evens out for both sides.

This formation is a strange hybrid as it is still nominally Line but can deploy its own skirmishers, moves faster than Line, fires volleys same as Line, can charge same as Line and can interpenetrate/be interpenetrated with no detrimental effect and seemingly only downside is -1 Dice if defending in a melee. So they sort of operate like 'super' skirmishers but also screen other units from shooting.

Skirmishing overall is fairly abstracted/simplified but kind of works at scale of game.

We found artillery potentially deadly as no chance to save any hits via discipline tests.

The card system is very good with the variety of each card and choice of Orders, Special Events and Rallies and indeed it generated reasonable terrain and pre-game stuff.

As with all of the authors (Warwick Kincade) rules there are lots options with plethora of traits and special rules and variable sized units (based around a points system that seems fine).

We played 3 full turns but had lot of discussion over the Army selections and unit types and the various options available on cards and orders, but (like any set) things will speed up once we absorb these basics (such as Reserve Brigades only viable in a 4-5 Brigade game). 

As a points based 'balanced' pop up light style Napoleonic game it has certain attractions and is comparable to Lasalle 2 in complexity and scope and we are hoping to give it some further mileage (at least until GDA2 appears).

Will also be interesting to try some of the historical scenarios that are appearing for it.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Battlegroup Northag a try out

Game trying out Battle Group Northag (modern....well 1983.....update to WW2 set) with Stephens lovely 10/12mm kit. 

Stephen selected a couple of points based forces for the single encounter type scenario included in the rules with USSR facing of against USA (he has Centag supplement which covers these).

Several changes from WW2 system with infantry now in teams of 2-4 men rather than individuals that can only be fired at with Suppressive Fire (small chance of KIA) to Pin (still a big part of system). 

Thankfully tracking ammo is gone for AFVs (ATGW have limited 2-5 rounds depending on type) with only 1 shot allowed per firing opportunity. Weapons are now rated as having High, Medium of Low rates of fire. This also effects mortars/artillery which fire single rounds per tube/barrel (gone is the Open Fire order) but at cost of only 1 order per battery, which is required with new infantry targeting type. Artillery can be on-table (usually only Nato) or of-table Timed strikes.

The deployment phase of game was rather interesting with lots of options for unique units like Spetnaz to capture objectives in 'no mans land' and Scouts to determine who deploys first and various other quirks. Forces are divided into a Force Screen (starts on table) of those with Scouting or similar abilities, then a single unit Vanguard (arrives turn 1) followed by the Main Forces (arrives half on turn 5 and half on turn 6) with possible Reinforcements (on Turn 7)

On first turn this meant US had taken 5 BR chits to Soviet 1.

As per WW2 set nothing is hidden (you get to put all your nicely painted units on table) but you have to spot before every aimed shot (not suppressive fire) which sometimes works but other times jars greatly (at least for me). 

No hidden ambushes/surprises or phantom stands here or conversely a need for maps/counters or subterfuge certainly an easy/simple option.

Things like inactive dug-in infantry or FOOs being spotable across the entire table and thereby targets is just odd (we both targeted our Mortar OPs on first turn thankfully to no avail), I suspect their being dug-in is a sort of 'camouflage' as it makes them hard to hit but there is always the chance (6 is always a hit, 1 always a miss). 

There are no target proximity or priority target rules so you can select any target you can draw LOS to, of course those closer should be easier to see/effect. In game I could have ignored a line of T80s directly in front of my Abrams and could have instead targeted a couple of much weaker BRDMs with ATGW much further away (but auto spotted due to firing) but declined to do so. Undecided if I like or dislike this very free and easy method.

Our game was at Company level which allows you to throw 3D6 + officers (there are less of these) to generate your Order pool however sides now have option to use set amount with Nato at this game level having 14 and Warsaw Pact 12 (neither of us ever considered the dicing option as desirable). Platoons orders allow limited group options for 2 orders and Warsaw Pact have Company orders again offering limited options but for entire Companies at 4 order cost.

These can be key as a 10 tank Soviet Company can operate under a Coy Order at 4 cost instead of 6 for 3 Platoon orders or indeed 10 orders if each vehicle operates individually.

Of course being BG there is a large menu of special rules/options/unit types/abilities (but they are inherent part of system and would be tad bland without) available with Timed Artillery Strikes, Counterbattery, Airstrikes/Bombing, Helicopters, various special units (like Spetnaz/SAS) and abilities/weapons all the way from Snipers and Scouts to Chemical or even Nuclear options !! 

I get the premise behind this in that you spend points for your 'supports' but can seem odd sometimes to have Corps/Army or Strategic level support available to a single Company. Of course the more specialist stuff one buys the less troops can be 'boots on the ground'.Some of these options would sit better for me with a bigger Battalion scale game (or at level of Modern Spearhead)

There are some seemingly odd stats regarding vehicle armour with a M60 or a Leopard 1 having 6 frontal armour compared to T62 having a mere 4 but no idea what data or methodology these are arrived at via (other than a fudging process ?) and as per WW2 there is no ground scale with ranges really being geared/manipulated to suit average table sizes. There is differentiation between Kinetic or Chemical round hits or associated armour defence types as the game just does not go there.

The Battle Rating/chit pull system remains as does the combat and movement systems and are all similar to WW2 set and as ever it seems that Pinning via suppressive fire is often the best option (ie usually easier to dice for success with no need to spot). 

I find the Pinning system very good in concept but too easy to achieve especially against AFVs and very potent (a unit cannot move or fire until rallied) and high value targets can spend game Pinning and Unpinning and doing little else. This is sort of like the Spear Head system but seems to effect game much more here.

We played 6 turns (lots of discussion ref the deployment options) and whilst several units on both sides had been Pinned only a couple of infantry stands had been KIA not a single AFV had been destroyed despite there being 19 tanks between us and similar numbers of other AFVs. This seemed bit odd but maybe down to over caution by us both and poor To Hit rolls ?

But overall a playable game system that generally emphasizes game over any attempt at 'simulation' additionally the army lists are nice (especially if you want 'balanced' games) and if you accept that then a enjoyable time can be had. 

Personally I prefer a bit more depth to proceedings but at least game was playable compared to our outing with Cold War Commander. I think they would appeal to those that like Flames of War or Bolt Action type games.

US left wing with infantry dug-in at deployment. Note (on roof) a Spetnaz team has occupied a built up area objective (causing 2 BR draws for US) as they have 'Behind The Lines' ability and additionally they cannot be targeted for 2 turns (not sure why ?). BUAs can be tough as you must Pin all occupants before you can try to launch an assault. I did eventually (after a lot of firing and order usage) Pin these sods but failed to pass assault which of course additionally leaves guessed it...........Pinned.

Soviet mortar observer visible dug-in in far distance (on rise beside cup) is able to be targeted from get go if a LOS exists as are the dug-in Soviet infantry in front of the rise. This takes some getting used to. Also just about visible are newly arrived Soviet T80s in both wooded areas.

US right flank with Scout unit (an MG team and a Dragon team) having dismounted from their M113 but then are Pinned at wood edge. They stayed Pinned for couple of turns then Rallied got immediately Pinned again and then died without ever firing. More T80s (Soviets had full company of 10) visible to their front

US mortar OP on rise dug-in and also visible from everywhere. My 4 Abrams and 5 M60A1 are still to appear but never advanced beyond the infantry. It did seem odd that we never ko'd a single AFV in game. I had an Abrams survive a Hind gunship (it failed to hit on 3+)


Friday, April 14, 2023

LADG - Maurikian Byzantine vs Sassanid Persian clash

With little time to prep a game we decided to go with good old LADG for weekly game and Stephen used his Sassanid Persians and I tried a couple of variations of a Maurikian Byzantine so a perfectly historical matchup.

Both were very entertaining games (especially for Persians who won both just for a change) with us both having several Brilliant Generals and a good deal of mounted troops to play around with.

Persians had a couple of Elephants which really did nothing in both games but their Elite Dailami foot proved too tough for my Skutatoi in both encounters.

Sassanids deployed for first encounter

Byzantines concentrate of right flank with Arab allies in support

However this left them vulnerable on left with only two mounted units

Major scrum on my left as I crush Persians on my right but not quickly enough 

Byzantine left being enveloped and flanked

Armies face off at start of second game

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Test of Battle - Lindern 1944 scenario played

Game as scheduled on Easter Monday with the chaps at Mr Ps (always the willing host with the most) using CD:TOB but this time with his and Mr Bs excellent 10mm kit and terrain.

Scenario was Lindern from TOB book which is set in November 1944 around Geilenkirchen with US force (3 infantry and 2 tank battalions plus supports) against dug-in veteran Germans (1 PzGr Bttn plus reserves of a Pz coy and a PzGr Coy) defending a hill and two underpasses to a railway line with a couple of bunkers to assist.

To allow all the nice kit to be on table from get go we used the 'phantom stands' option (Krauts had 8) in lieu of using maps or hidden markers and this worked pretty well in fooling the Yanks as to locations of actual enemy.

Yanks commanded by Mr P, John and Le Duc whilst Mr B and I took the Krauts.

Yanks had a huge advantage in numbers but with the phantom units and the Krauts being dug-in veteran PzGr they would be no push overs.

So it proved as John sent a full Bttn of infantry against 'Toad Hill' on German right which was defended by an actual PzGr Coy with their weapons team in a bunker. The Yanks were supported by artillery and some direct tank fire but fell foul of some excellent rolls by yours truly (no too often I get to say that and it seems D10s are my friends) and recoiled.

Our left was 'defended' by a single Recon stand with the phantom stands doing sterling service confusing the Yanks under Mr P and Le Duc and making them advance cautiously  (Tanks were in tank/infantry teams so slowed to foot pace) and so allowing our reserves (under Mr B) to arrive to shore up this flank.

Overall losses to Yanks sort of broke their commanders morale and it was decided they could not progress to their objectives and time was called.

TOB worked well (practice game helped enormously) with very few rules queries. We did learn that a Tank platoon can pump out a lot of anti-infantry firepower as a PzIV in opportunity phase (+1 to ROF) was able to fire 3 HE and 4 MG dice to chagrin of a couple of US companies. Had their accompanying Shermans being able to respond in kind (no visible targets) that would have seen 14-21 anti-infantry dice in play !!

TOB covers all the required bases for a WW2 game and allows lots of options like use of various orders, flexible artillery options and indeed options on how/when to use shooting dice. 

But it can get a bit bogged down in choices and processes, none of which are complex of themselves but when all combined it gets busy/fiddly with lots of markers and stats and suchlike. Key is to limit game size to manageable proportions and not try to go too BIG (always a temptation but imho better suited to Spearhead or similar). 

A couple of sub-standard pics (my hands must have been unsteady with the adrenaline of all those high rolls !)

Check out Le Ducs blog for much better action pics and to do justice to the 10mm kit

View of German right with Toad Hill and railway line

Our left with phantom Coys on hill and central wooded area (Recon platoon has shot forward in forlorn and doomed attempt to delay oncoming wave of Yanks)

Yank infantry Battalion forms up to assault Toad Hill

US reserves arrive in centre but took ages to uncover Kraut ruse of phantom defenders.