Thursday, 23 March 2017

Great War Crossfire

The empty field (lower left-hand corner) had contained a
German platoon. Despite eliminating this, the British
platoon (lower centre) was beginning to lose the firefight
with the German platoon in the copse on the left edge.
Many of you will know Robert Dunlop from his contribution to the Great War Spearhead rules and scenario books and his extremely well-informed forum postings on WW1 topics. It was thus a pleasure and privilege to welcome him to my local wargames club and to play a WW1 Crossfire game which he organised.

Robert has recently been quoting chapter and verse on the Yahoo Crossfire group about low level training and actions during WW1 - the level that Crossfire represents - so I was keen to see how a WW1 game would work with these WW2 rules.

The game was a meeting battle, a common occurrence in northern France in the early days of WW1 during the Race to the Sea. Robert posted an eloquent account of the game in the Crossfire Yahoo Group placing it in historical context.

The absence of smoke and the relative scarcity of HMGs made this a significantly different style of game to the WW2  ones I've played but the rules worked equally well.

Plenty of reserves but nowhere to send them except into
the German meat-grinder. Miniatures are 15mm Peter
Pig and Minifigs.
The game has rekindled my interest in doing some 1914 armies, but I once again find myself spoilt for choice. For Crossfire armies, which are small and predominantly infantry, I would normally go for 15mm figures, but for early WW1 I am very attracted to the superb 12mm Kallistra ranges. But the armies might also be used for Square BashingBloody Big Battles! and/or Great War Spearhead which all require relatively large numbers of bases, so 6mm Baccus figures might be a better option.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Battles of Napoleon

Battles of Napoleon is a hex board game with miniatures which was published in 2010 and is no longer in print. Despite a superficial similarity in appearance to the Command & Colors series of games, it plays quite differently.

Board games with miniatures are said to be the wave of the future, and I would say that miniatures games with hexes or squares are effectively converging from the other direction. This was thus a game I was keen to try.

My friend Ian, who owns the game, chose the Salamanca scenario and gave me the French with the warning that I was unlikely to win, but fate decided otherwise. The British were stronger, particularly in cavalry, but I had more artillery and a good position on a ridge line defending the three objectives which start in French hands.

The aim of this scenario is to take a majority of the objectives, but you can also win the  game by destroying a certain number of units or killing the enemy c-in-c.

The initial French deployment. The British are yet to set up.
The British made a frontal assault in column and uphill which gave me two  bonuses in firepower. Coupled with a  run of skillful dice throwing (!), the British attack shattered on the French rock. The British may have suffered from bad luck but I believe they would have needed an equally exceptional run of good luck to have succeeded in their strategy.

The French hold firm while the British begin to suffer.
I'd certainly be interested in replaying this game from the British side. My strategy would be...well, you'll have to wait for that!

I really enjoyed the game and I think Napoleonic buffs would prefer this game to the more abstract approach of C&C Napoleonics.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game

I don't have much time at the moment to sort out my own games so I'm grateful for the opportunity to play other people's games, even though these are not necessarily part of my annual plan! This recently included a couple of games of X-Wing, the highly popular Star Wars spaceship combat game.

The games were based on a simple introductory scenario which pitted a pair of TIE fighters against an upgraded X-Wing, the components of the core introductory set. I controlled one of the TIE fighters. Although they are generally more manoeuvrable, the upgraded X-Wing continually escaped our arcs of fire while bringing us into its own arc of fire and I was quickly eliminated in the first game.

In the second game it was my companion's turn to be knocked out first. I fared a little better but was still unable to inflict much damage. The X-Wing, however, accidentally flew off the table, giving me the game. It was a victory of sorts, but not really a satisfying one. Had the battlefield been a bit more crowded, we would more easily have ended up with some sort of target in our sights.

The game mechanisms are similar to Wings of Glory WW1 (originally Wings of War) and the game plays straight out of the box. The rules are well written and the gameplay is smooth. The diminutive spaceships are very nicely modelled. I've seen the game played with much larger numbers of much larger ships, so it is very open to the escalation of financial investment.

Despite my recent foray into 15mm Sci-Fi skirmish gaming I'm not a Star Wars fan (or a Trekky), and spaceship combat doesn't really appeal to me. If I wanted to invest in a game of this sort I would probably go for the historical Wings of Glory. At one time I was quite interested in the WW2 variant, but my understanding is that it involves a lot of manoeuvre and that the chance actually to fire is rare, a somewhat frustrating recipe for a wargame. In any event I understand it's out of print at the moment, but never say never. And I see that Ares Games are due to release a new Battle of Britain Starter Set...

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Spoils of war from Cavalier 2017

I made a quick raid on the Cavalier show in Tonbridge. With shelves full of unpainted figures and very little time, I didn't have a shopping list and was determined not to add to the lead mountain by buying anything that would need painting.

I thought I would come away empty-handed but spotted these nice, well-painted 6mm buildings on the bring-and-buy stall. They will be ideal for my Bloody Big Battles! Franco-Prussian War project.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Men Who Would Be Kings

There aren't many gaps in my wargaming interests but 19th Century Colonial conflict is one of the more obvious. I do have some old 6mm Anglo-Zulu War figures I completed many years ago but I don't now find them particularly appealing.

Besides the Zulu War I have at one time or another been interested in the Sikh Wars, the Indian Mutiny, the Second Afghan War, the Urabi Revolt, the Sudan, the Second Boer War and the Boxer Rebellion. There's no shortage of choice there, but I've never really committed to a particular set of rules.

For large battles, and many Colonial battles were very large indeed, Bloody Big Battles! is now an available option and I'm planning to try out a couple of BBB Colonial scenarios with my block armies. However, the prospect of endlessly refighting one particular battle does not really provide me with enough incentive to paint up two large armies.

At the other end of the scale (1:1) I recently got a copy of Dan Mersey's The Men Who Would Be Kings rules published by Osprey. I haven't played all Dan's rules, but I was very impressed with Dux Bellorum.

28mm Afghans from Artizan Designs
TMWWBK takes an unashamedly Hollywood approach, but why not? While the simulation of historical tactics and the reliving of historical battles has great appeal, you sometimes just want to play a game with military flavour and complete it in an evening without undue preparation or stress.

TMWWBK looks simple, fun and requires only a modest number of figures, another winner in my book. I don't know if it will go well as a multiplayer game but I can foresee that the officer characteristics (which govern unit activation) could be very entertaining in the context of a club night.

I was considering doing the Boxer Rebellion using 28mm figures from Redoubt Enterprises but that is already covered by another club member, so I have been revisiting other options. My current favourite is the Second Afghan War using the beautifully sculpted figures from Artizan Designs.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A strategy for wargaming

Owing to competition from another diversion I'm likely to have even less time this year for wargaming, so I need to optimise use of time I do have. In the past I've tended to flit from one game to another, which makes absorbing rules very difficult. A considerable proportion of gaming time is spent looking things up. Then you don't return to that game for weeks or months and the whole process starts all over again.

This year I'm aiming to become a serial gamer, playing the same games several times before moving on to another one. My current obsession is Command & Colors: Ancients. I've so far played two games and the strategy is certainly working.

Command & Colors: Ancients - Zama. At this point the Carthaginians (near side) were trailing badly.

The first game was the Battle of Akragas 406 BC. I got the Syracusans while my club comrade Chris took the Carthaginians. C&C:A scenarios are not necessarily balanced so the aim is to improve on the historical outcome. The Syracusans should have won but I lost. My ultimate defeat was entirely my own fault when I failed to retire an exposed general.

Chris had not played the game before and I had played it very little some time ago, so a great deal of the game was spent reading rather than playing and I'm not entirely certain we got everything completely right.

The second game was the Battle of Zama 202 BC.  This time I did a little preparation. In particular I studied the elephant rules and planned to counter the beasts with ranged fire from light infantry. In the event I got the Carthaginians (the historical losers) while Chris commanded the Romans!

Having also noted the effect of elephants on cavalry (to be expected), I began to move the elephants to the flanks where Chris had a predominance in cavalry. This was not a bad idea but Chris's light infantry soon closed in on them and took them out in close combat.

The problem with the Carthaginians in this game is that once the elephants are gone you are outnumbered in both cavalry and infantry. Despite this I managed to achieve some good local successes and the balance of Victory Banners (which you win for destroying units and sometimes for occupying objectives) was running at 7:7. It was a very close-run thing but Chris eventually got the eighth and final kill.

What I like about C&C:A is that it allows you to fight historical battles with a minimum of complication. By only the second game of this series, I had absorbed most of the rules and factors, and much less time was spent looking things up.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

10mm Chinese Warlord Armies for Red Actions

I've now got the packs for two 10mm Chinese Warlord Armies to play Red Actions. One pack came from Pithead Miniatures, but all the rest were from Pendraken.

Nobody actually does any CWE miniatures in 10mm and I am indebted to Victor Pocilujko (GrumpyOldMan on TMP etc) for his very helpful advice on conscripting suitable figures from a variety of WW1 and other ranges.

The armies are based on the Northern Expedition 1926-1928 in which the southern National Revolutionary Army invaded and crushed the northern Fengtian/Ankouchon faction, and brought the Warlord era to an end.

The Southerners were distinguished by caps similar to those worn by the British and Russians in WW1 while the Northerners had more of a 'pork pie' version similar to that worn by the Japanese at the time of the Russo-Japanese War.

Getting all the packs I needed has generated quite a lot of surplus figures. The overs may go towards Balkan War, British 1914, Mexican Revolution, Russian Civil War and/or Colonial projects.

I had expected to make some compromises in recruiting Chinese Warlord armies from substitutes, but I'm now quite satisfied that thanks to Victor the figures I've accumulated are an excellent representation.

Monday, 9 January 2017

ArmiesArmy Pegasus VTOL for Gruntz 15mm

I try to resist project creep but it's futile. Once I'd discovered ArmiesArmy's Pegasus VTOL I had to have one...

ArmiesArmy shop: V-212 Pegasus VTOL


The parts are cleanly moulded and fit together well. The only parts I had to trim to fit were the closed-position under-carriage doors. Alternatively there are parts for having the under-carriage down.

The parts were quickly assembled with superglue.

I thought the resin might be difficult to drill for the flight stand but it was easy.

In flight. Just need a base to put it on.

Monday, 2 January 2017

2017 Plans and resolutions

Crossfire: due for revival
I hope to reverse the downward trend in 2017 by getting more painting done and by playing more games. I'm unlikely to have more time, but I'm going to try to make better use of the time I do have.

My painting/modelling priorities are to :

1. Complete the Sci-Fi armies for Gruntz 15mm.
2. Paint the 10mm Chinese Warlord armies for Red Actions.
3. Undertake some trial painting of the 6mm Franco-Prussian War figures for Bloody Big Battles!

My gaming ambitions are to play games of:

1. Bloody Big Battles!
2. Command & Colours Ancients.
3. Crossfire.
4. Galleys & Galleons.
5. Gruntz 15mm.
6. Hammerin' Iron II.
7. Irregular Wars.
8. Maurice.
9. Red Actions.

Following the wise words in response to my last post from Norm of the Battlefields and Warriors blog about valuing engagement with all aspects of the wargaming hobby I should also add a few words about my plans for research, collecting and blogging.

I've largely completed the research for my  current projects, though some background reading and 'mood setting' would be good if I get the time. As for collecting, I would like to get some more painted 1/600 ACW ironclads if the opportunity arises, and I might photo some of my existing armies/navies that have not previously been featured on the blog in any detail. Blogging will continue as now.

Another aspect of the hobby which should also get a specific mention is 'planning'. Although it doesn't always have an actual output in terms of a wargaming project, I probably spend more time planning/dreaming about new armies than anything else. My current interest in that area is centred on possible approaches to and armies for Bloody Big World War Two Battles and The Men Who Would Be Kings. More anon no doubt.

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