Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Just in time for Christmas ...

If you are a World War 1 'gamer, then here is just the gift for you for Christmas.

This scenario book was written by Shawn Taylor and Robert Dunlop to support the recent publication of Great War Spearhead II and is the result of extensive research and quite considerable play testing. It includes 16 wargames scenarios for the Battles of the Frontiers in France in the opening months of World War 1.

Each scenario includes the obligatory historical background, along with OOBs that derived from the latest research and accurate terrain maps produced to the highest quality.

I was involved in some play testing with good friend Keith and I'd have to say that the scenarios offer a fair degree of challenge. The victory conditions of the scenarios have also been set up to not only reflect the historical situations implicit with each, but also to reward replay with a number of permutations of 'plan' available to each player (let alone the variability thrust upon us by Lady Luck').

The scenario book is available in print (either colour or b/w) and also in pdf form as an eBook. It can be purchased from Lulu.

This book is a must have for all owners of Great War Spearhead II.  Of course if you have another rules preference, the book will still be of huge value as a source of high quality maps and OOBs. It is thoroughly recommended.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

There's something about a parcel ..

You know, there's something about a parcel arriving in the mail. Unexpected parcels are pretty cool, but so too are parcels that you have ordered. The anticipation builds as you count off the days until likely arrival, and then check the letterbox expectantly each day. The advent of email, Facebook, Pinterest and the general plethora of other electronic media has already signalled the demise of traditional snail-mail post, but parcels will always need that physical delivery. So when this little beauty arrived today, the pulse sped up just that little bit. I don't know about you, but I like to prolong the anticipation a little, so I put the box on the dining room table while I finished what I was doing, and only then took the scissors to the sealing tape to check out the contents.

And then, yep, revealed in all their glory are the few remaining 6mm 1914 German infantry I need to finish the 3rd infantry division, and enough 1914 Russians to complete two infantry divisions.

I haven't been idle these past few weeks. I've been pottering persistently at the painting table working on the stands necessary to finish the Great War Spearhead armies in 6mm. It's just that repetitive posts of the next few infantry stands can become a little tedious, since to most people one stand of 1914 German infantry in 6mm probably looks pretty much like the next. Of course quantity has a quality of its own, so here is the second of two French infantry divisions completed a couple of weeks ago.

And here the first two of the four German infantry regiments required to complete that third German division.

A close up of a couple of stands .. are you still awake?

There is a third regiment 3/4 completed, and today's arrival gives me the figures to finish the fourth and last.

Then it's the Russians. I completed one regiment of Russians about 5 years ago, and had intended to finish the force way back then, but amongst other things 14000 earthquakes got in the way (not to mention a myriad of other painting projects).

Guess what I'll be doing over our southern hemisphere Christmas holiday break?

Friday, December 12, 2014

A small WW2 Spearhead game: Russia - somewhere near Leningrad

It was a good plan: finish the photo processing to put a new AAR onto the web site 'The Great Adventure'. But of course no plan survives contact .. well in this case not with the enemy but friend Dave M who hasn't had a game of any sort in 9 months. In fact I think he hasn't played WW2 in 15+ years (maybe more).

So, an introduction to WW2 Spearhead using the small "Attack this" scenario from the rule book (Page 31). This sees a Soviet tank brigade trying to force its way past a German infantry battalion, and its purpose is to allow new players to experience the core SH mechanisms. The playing area is a mere 30" square. The Soviets are attacking from the top edge of the table. The German infantry is deployed up to 20" onto the table.

The playing area seen from the German side

German infantry occupying some of the forest area await the Soviet attack
Dave decided to push his entire brigade down his left flank. The German defender is forced to spread his forces to cover multiple attack channels, so Dave succeeded in rendering about half the battalion ineffective for the first part of the game.

The right flank German company faces an onslaught by the entire Soviet tank brigade.

The action pretty soon heated up, with artillery fire beginning the action forcing casualties on the advancing Soviets. The initial morale check on both tanks and infantry established that they were all regulars.

One of the two German AT guns managed to pull out from beneath the noses of several Soviet tank platoons that had forced their way through the woods. The AT platoon can be seen at the bottom of the photo.

The German battalion managed to redeploy swinging its front around by 90 degrees to tackle the Soviet attack.

The action continued. The lucky 50mm AT platoon redeployed under cover of smoke from the battalion mortar battery.

The AT battery was not so lucky once in action. The guns stopped a Soviet tank platoon before being destroyed. It's supporting AT platoon did manage to take out two further Soviet tank platoons.

The action was called shortly before the mandatory turns when the Soviet objective of eliminating sufficient German platoons while exiting enough platoons off the German table edge had finally become unachievable.

This is a great introductory scenario. I've played it several times, and it is always finely balanced. I've seen honours go both ways. More importantly I think Dave enjoyed the rules. He had played Rapid Fire many years ago, and like the rest of us had become disillusioned with the inability to recreate historical outcomes. Spearhead allowed him to do this.

I am hoping that we'll see Dave play some more games.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Unexpected meeting engagement

Russia, mid 1943. Two small brigade sized forces have been given tasks by Division that will bring them in to collision on the Russian steppe.

This was a small eastern front game that Adrian and I played using Adrian's Rapid Fire modifications. I was keen to see how they played with the mid war equipment after my introduction using Adrian's 15mm early war French and German forces. We used my 20mm forces.

The table, with Russian deployment on the left, German on the right

German battalion support weapons - a 75mm IG platoon

Russian support - a 76mm IG platoon

The German centre

The small armoured forces looked set to clash

The small armoured action got underway as the German PzKwIV company engaged the Russians from hull down positions
The German armoured company managed to take up a hull down position and was ready to engage the Russian armour as it advanced in the open. Early casualties were suffered by the Russians. losing a T34 platoon, and taking casualties on a second

Meanwhile a fierce infantry action developed on the Russian left as their infantry tried to take positions from a German battalion.

The Russian platoons inflicted early casualties as they managed to coordinate battalion mortar and MMG fire with their own platoon fire.

The armoured action heated up.
 The Russian armour was able to take advantage of supporting fire from well positioned infantry AT platoons, with supporting artillery fire from an attached battery of 122mm artillery guns (off table).

With early success, the German commander reinforced his right with his reserve company.

The German advance takes heavy fire as the reserve company (upper right) pushes forward into cover.

The battle continues on the Russian left

Eventually the German firepower overwhelms the Russian companies.

The German armour, sensing that it risks being overwhelmed by the combined tank, artillery and AT fire, pulls out form its hull down position. However one of the two remaining platoons takes flank fire from the Russian armour and AT platoon, and is overwhelmed. The German armour commander withdraws.

The Russian armour adjusts its positions, with the wrecks of German tanks seen burning in the distance.

Last resistance on the Russian left is eliminated as the extra firepower from the German reserve company takes its toll

The German reserve comes under heavy mortar and artillery fire and begins to suffer casualties. 
Both commanders realise that to make any further progress they will need reinforcements form Division.

This was an interesting game. The RF system plays much better in my opinion with Adrian;'s modifications. It still lacks the tactical finesse, the subtlety of Spearhead, but it provides for a interesting game none the less.

We agreed that we now need to add in more forces on a larger playing area, along with supporting aircraft. This additional layer will we think add even more interest.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Good things take time ..

So the saying goes .. and I think that's correct with our wargames hobby too. I've just finished another regiment of 6mm French infantry for 1914 WW1 (Great War Spearhead) games, and made a connection good friend Keith's most recent blog post 'Accessible Wargaming' in which he discusses the trend towards skirmish gaming. Keith discusses Sam Mustafa's podcast suggesting that the rise and rise of skirmish gaming has arisen because we are increasingly a time poor society.

I'm as guilty as the next 'gamer of wanting shorter games that require fewer figures. But existing on a diet of smaller games is to me much like existing on a diet of sweets and cakes: you get the 'gaming equivalent of a 'sugar rush', but are ultimately left hungry and unsatisfied.

My WW1 projects have taken time.  The 6mm French army now has two GWSH divisions to match my two German divisions, and I have enough German figures to complete a third German division as well. The Spearhead games require careful thought and an investment in time to plan and play, but they are the 'meat and potatoes', the three course meal, of 'gaming. They reward the investment in time to paint, and play, with a sense of satisfaction, with the sense that you have indeed crossed swords with an opponent.

The same is true when I field or command armies using Frank Chadwick's Volley and Bayonet rules. My love of the 'Hordes of the Things' rules is no secret, but the project to expand armies for Big battle HotT reflects this desire for something 'meatier', something to satisfy the appetite.

Smaller games like DBA and HotT are great for quick games, and satisfy that immediate urge to build armies, but the rewards players gain from investing time and energy into painting those larger armies, and playing those larger games, are in my opinion where our real growth and satisfaction are produced.

Back to those 1914 German infantry .... three regiments to go.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DBA 3.0

I've played a lot of DBA over the years, and have 20mm armies that pre-date the current 'fad' for 15mm figures and armies. However you go with the flow, and so I've acquired  a number of 15mm armies as well. But I went off the game a number of years ago, and I've never quite been sure why. Perhaps it was just that other interests overtook the DBA 'thing' because I was never inherently dissatisfied with DBA 2.2.

I couldn't resist the temptation to buy a copy of the new DBA 3.0 rules which I have been browsing through for a couple of weeks, although I am yet to play a game.

Here are a couple of interesting reviews that I thought worth sharing:



I must get a few games in soon.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A different shot at WW2

Waaaaaaay way back on the '90s we used to play a lot of Rapid Fire WW2. We went off is as we looked for something that we felt might be more satisfying (a matter of personal taste of course). Personally I found what I was looking for with the Spearhead rules sets.

However Adrian has hankered after WW2 games that were more satisfying, but within the framework of the original Rapid Fire rules. He has been playing around with some modifications, and we gave them a whirl last night, using his 1940 15mm WW2 armies.

His modifications include the concept of a combat move if you wish to fire, artillery and mortars attached and accessible in different ways depending on where in the OOB they appear, morale by company with either a pass or fail outcome (failures result in removal from play), smaller movement rates and much shorter ranges for both location and firing.

The result was interesting, and I felt that they offered a significant improvement over the games I recall 20 years ago, achieved without creating any hindrance to game play. That's all a matter of opinion, of course.

Rather than an AAR, here are some photos of the game in progress. The figures are a mix of manufacturers, and the buildings are all scratch built by Adrian.

A couple of shots of the nice buildings .. because I could.

I'm certainly not looking for a replacement for Spearhead. Adrian's take on RF will be interesting to follow though.

Pottering with a few more Ottoman figures

Finally, I've managed those extra Ottomans for the DBR army. They are 15mm figures, the arquebus are Minifigs (courtesy of friend Jim), ...