Thursday, 5 October 2017

My New Shiny

One of my 6x6 challenge games was Dungeons and Dragons. Except for a few hours playing while driving to Huzzah, I have made no head way in getting this game going. I have had a recent inspiration which I hope will reverse this trend.

I have been watching the excellent "Terrain Tutor" videos on Youtube. I clicked on a suggested title called "Black Magic Craft". This series is produced by a guy in Winnipeg. He makes lots of sweet looking fantasy terrain for his DnD games. He uses insulation foam which is easy to work with and cheap. I bought a couple of foam cutters off Amazon and a bunch of foam and voila!

pink styro - work in progress
 A weekends work
 Also bought a black clothe to lay the tiles on

 Diaz with casket

Hot wire table saw!

This cutter works great. I am excited about the possibilities this baby can produce. I also bought a cobblestone mat from Michael's with the hope of converting it into roads at some point. I trotted out all my 28mm buildings for a photo op.

Dark Age buildings

Some still need paint

I started this blog to inspire and motivate me to play more games. I have accomplished this goal but feel I am missing the artistic and creative side of the hobby more and more. I think next year will be a more balanced approach as I continue to build my terrain collection. I am not adding any more figures except for the odd fantasy figure to keep my painting chops up. I will be doing a terrain wish list in a future post and will likely set some target goals for the new year.

Monday, 2 October 2017

The Battle for Charleroi 1815

I have been reading the excellent and free Ezine "Warning Order". They often publish 2 generic scenarios in an issue. I have been printing these off and putting them in a binder. Today I got to try one of these out. The scenario is called flank attack. This sounds dull but the write up is more interesting than the title sounds. As I read the scenario, I thought it bore a passing resemblance to the opening battle of Napoleon's 1815 campaign - Charleroi. 

French cross the Sambre 

The French crossed the frontier into Belgium at Charleroi at the Sambre River. The Prussians held briefly before retreating. I pulled out a French and a Prussian force to match the suggested list in the scenario. The objective is to capture Charleroi and not take 50% casualties for the French. The Prussians must hold the town and wait for reinforcements.

Prussian cavalry threaten the French advance

Forme Carre!

The Prussians were attacked by a larger French force but held good defensive terrain. The French opened the attack by attacking the hill that defended the towns flank. They also formed up to assault the town. The Prussians did their best to stall the French and had some success with their cavalry.

French flanking force arrives behind the Prussian defenders

Napoleon secures the hill

Prussian reinforcements started to arrive a few at a time but had a long march to get to the front lines.

Charleroi falls!

Prussian lancers counter attack

 Prussian reinforcements form up before withdrawing

The French rolled well and got all their reinforcements on turn three and they were in good position to help the attack on the hill and stall the arrival of the Prussian reinforcements. The Prussians fault valiantly but were eventually ejected from the town and hilltop. The Prussians did not have enough strength remaining to retake the town and withdrew to fight another day...

Friday, 15 September 2017

Talavera Redux

We recently played the battle of Talavera in 15mm using Commit the Garde rules. The details are in a previous post. We agreed that the scenario was interesting enough to try again so I reset the terrain and switched sides to give it another go.

In the first run through of the battle, the French tried to ignore the British and attack the Spanish. In this battle the French plan was to pine the British in the center and break through the difficult terrain on the exposed flank to force the British to defend 2 fronts with inferior numbers. 
French foot face of against British guard cavalry

The French pressed ahead on the flank with 5 infantry and 2 cavalry with Marshall Victor making sure it all went to plan. A large firefight occurred across the stream with both sides taking casualties. The French flanking attack bogged down in the difficult terrain but drew off valuable reinforcements from the Allies. 

The Spanish defending Talavera remained in their field works except for 2 cavalry units who came out to threaten the French left. Slowly but surely the French plan was coming together. The British were having to withdraw badly damaged units and became the thin red line. The French made a breakthrough on the right but were hampered by the terrain and the loss of three generals over the course of the battle.
Wellington's HQ
 British units retreat to the hill for a last stand

Just as the the lines were starting to break up into a free for all, the Spanish cavalry on the French left was joined by the lone Spanish general, broke through the French defenses and proceeded to roll up 4 infantry units, clearing a large swath of the French line. The remnants of the cavalry unit survived to tell the tale and were hailed as the heroes of the battle. French morale collapsed on the following turn.

Remnants of the heroic Spanish heavy cavalry

The battle was a real nail biter. Both armies were extremely worn down at the end but the French could not recover from this cavalry charge on top of other losses. 

For future games, we will add a rule that allows cavalry in good order to evade attacking infantry if they pass a morale check.

Thanks for an awesome game John!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Long March to Battle

I finally got to play my Talavera game tonight. I had scheduled a game with some able players but this ended up falling through due to work commitments. I then failed to summon the motivation to play it solo before I left on a lengthy vacation. The battle was left on the table while I was gone.

I was able to reschedule for today and the battle was played to a conclusion this afternoon with fellow Armchair Commanders Jonathan and Martin. Jonathan commanded the French and Martin commanded the British, leaving me with the fragile but well defended Spanish.

We scenario allowed a free set up but we opted to try and replicate the historical deployment as best we could. The French marched the bulk of its army toward the Spanish army, cowering behind their defenses. They left one division to screen the British and sent another division across the river threaten the British flank.
French advance in the foreground and mass troops in the background left

The Spanish sent a rider galloping for Wellesley begging for reinforcements as the French were forming up to push against their fortified lines. The British obliged by sending their light infantry brigade from the reserves to fill an obvious gap in the Spanish defense. The Spanish also sent in an infantry brigade from the reserve to fill another gap as well. 

French view of the Spanish defenses

The French continued their redeployment toward the Spanish. In their haste, they failed to adequately screen the columns. Wellesley saw his chance and sent the British over the river to put in a spoiling attack. This was a little risky as the British abandoned their defensive terrain to do this and could be overwhelmed by French superior numbers. They had good success with the attack and forced the French to deploy 2 divisions against them that ere otherwise heading to battle the Spanish. The French could not capitalize on the British exposed position due to some poor activation rolls and worse reinforcement rolls. 

British spoiling attack goes in, surprising the French in column

The French division trying to flank the British line had some initial success in drawing off units, but was eventually repulsed with  heavy casualties. 

Battle overview

The French probed the Spanish lines but never seriously threatened it. They did not have the reserves they had hoped for to sustain an attack against the entrenched Spanish. a British brigade managed to break through and destroy the French HQ. The remaining British withdrew behind the river due to increased threat from French cavalry deployed from reserve.

View from the French lines as the British withdrew back across the stream

The French morale broke after the loss of their HQ. We agreed that the French numbers had been reduced enough that a successfully  breakthrough could not be achieved.

Victorious British brigade after knocking out Jordan's HQ

Good chance we will try the scenario again switching sides so stay tuned for the rematch results.

ACW and New Terrain

Ouch. It has been a long time since my last post. In my defense, I have been away on vacation for the last 2 weeks. Prior to my departure, I was able to finish a project and test it out with my 15mm ACW figs using Battle Cry rules. I built a frame for Command and Colors games to define the border of the games. This is the gray structure seen below, laid on top of my larger hex mat. I built this by cutting up the 3mm MDF board that was used as a template for the hexes on the mat. I finished it with chalk textured spray paint which I had not tried before. Very pleased with the results.

 I played a solo game of Battle Cry with the Antietam scenario. This was scenario puts  larger Union force against a smaller Rebel force in better terrain. The Rebels won handily 6-2.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Switching Gears Again

Today I met up with the lads, got out my flying goggles and played some flying games. We had four players up at the local community room for a game of Wings of War (WoW) and XWing. I discovered I had been playing WoW incorrectly and was much happier with the game this time around. I ran a Spad XIII and ended up getting shot down in a nail-biter, head on showdown with Martin's triplane. Great fun and added to my to play list. Maybe add it to my next year 6x6.

Evasive maneuvers!

We also played a game of X Wing. Jonathan and Martin provided the miniatures and I brought my game mat. I played with Jonathan Scum fleet. I had two X Wings that were tasked with getting in the enemy's way and drawing fire from the expensive ships behind me. Martin ran 2 buffed up Tie Defenders. I love the look of these ships. They are too expensive for me to collect seriously but I did enjoy the game. Martin was once again the last ship standing.
Close Quarter Blasting

I lined up the perfect shot but couldn't close the deal :-(

I was going to play my Talavera game this weekend but there are a few people wanting to play so I am postponing until next Saturday night.

I have been watching terrain tutorials on Youtube, especially The Terrain Tutor. I really enjoyed making my game mat last weekend and am inspired to keep adding terrain. I plan to develop a wish list of terrain items to make/purchase and also design a table for a specific battle such as a WWII Italian in 28mm defensive line or 15mm Stalingrad. More on this later...

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Battle of Talavera 1809

I spent the weekend building a new game mat and hills for my hex based games and now it's time to try it out! I looked through my scenarios for Commit the Garde. I went with Talavera. This battle saw Wellington and his Spanish allies facing off against Marshall Jourdan and Napoleon's brother, Joseph, who was recently made king of Spain. As was typical of many Peninsular battles, there was very little artillery, the British have powerful infantry, tempered by their weak allies, the Spanish. The Allied army had taken up strong defensive positions on the outskirts of Talavera and the French are going to try and dislodge them.

Deployment - French on the left
French Centre looking at British held hill

 The bulk of the French are deployed against the British

The CtG scenario allowed a free set up of troops. I used the Napoleon's Battles Scenario to find a more historical set up and went with that. The French are deployed mostly facing the British. They have a significant reserve and could send troops against the Spanish defenses.

I am planning to play this game solo. I recently read "The Solo Wargaming Guide" by William Silvester. He suggested contemplating options for each side and assigning them a probability, then rolling to see which plan they go with.

 The French options are as I see them:
1) Attack the Spanish defenses and pin the British - This is assigned low probability because of the high cost of attacking defenses and the Spanish are worth only half victory points.
2) Attack to the left of the Spanish defenses and attack the Spanish while pinning the British - This is a weak point in the line but would be easily reinforced from each side. It would allow the French to bypass the Spanish defenses and defeat them in detail. This I assign a moderate probability.
3) Attack to the left of the Spanish defenses and attack the British while pinning the Spanish - Again, this is a good place to breach the line. The British are the primary target of the campaign and this would force them to redeploy a little. I assign this a moderate to high probability
4) Attack the British centre and demonstrate against the Spanish - This is playing into the defenders hand as the British are powerful and set up in defense. I rate this a low/moderate probability.
5) Attack the British right and roll up the flank - This bypasses the bulk of the British defenses and would allow the French to cross the stream before attacking the British held hill. The Spanish could easily abandon their defenses and reinforce the British. I assign this a moderate/high probability.
6) All out assault along the line and exploit where the cracks appear - A general purpose strategy but not good for concentrating forces in the attack and plays into the hands of the defender. I assign this a low probability.

The Allies choices are more limited. They have to set up first and start the game holding all the victory objectives. As a result they are waiting for the French to make a move and will react accordingly. There may be times in mid game where I will roll a dice to randomize a command decision.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Terrain Upgrade

This week I have been focusing on upgrading my terrain. I have been admiring my friends Hexon Terrain and decided to improve the look of my hills and mat to give my hex based games a better visual appeal. My current hex mat is simply a green felt mat with hexes drawn on and some spray paint high lights. After using it at Huzzah, I decided I wanted a better looking product. My hills are made from low quality foamcore, painted and flocked. They were too thin and flimsy and they looked cartoony.                                                                     

Sample of old hills and old hex mat

To replace these hill I bought some 6mm thick board and drew on a bunch of 4" hexes. Before I cut out the hexes, I clamped another board to the first and drilled out all the corners of the hexes. This second board provided a template to use to mark the hexes on my new mat. I then cut out the hexes on the first board and sanded the edges a bit to bevel them. I put these aside for now until the game mat was ready to be built...

Canvas bolted down and MDF hills cut

Before I started blogging I had made a home mead flocked gaming mat. I was not happy with the results and ended up throwing it out. I had followed the advice of some Youtube Gurus and made the following mistakes:
- My home made flock was too course and did not have enough paint in it
- The sand I used was to course and I used too much
- The caulk mixture did not have enough paint and was applied to thickly
- I did not apply a fixative to the finished product

The result was a mat that was bland looking, with cracks in the caulk and weighed way too much. After a year of sitting under my regular game mat, I turfed it out.

With further Youtube research and lessons in hand I am trying the home made mat project again. To start, I prepared the flock. I wanted 3 colors. I still had my bucket of sawdust donated by a neighbor who runs a wood mill. I sifted about 3 litres of sawdust and then ran it through my food processor. My goal was to make it as fine as possible. I wanted to get wood flour but it was hard to get and expensive so DIY.

Supplies needed. Cute dog nose is optional

I divided the product into three piles and added lots of poster paint, a little soup and some water and mixed vigorously. I spread the flock out on newspaper over night and got a nice, rich color of flock that I hope will show up better on my final product.

Flock ready to go

Next was to find a better sand to add to the mix. I looked at my local DIY shop and Garden Shop but found the play sand too fine to meet my needs. I thought about using cat litter as it is light and near the fineness I wanted but had visions of it clumping into unusable blobs and abandoned the idea. In the end, I splurged and got some Woodland Scenics Ballast. When winter comes, I will see if grit will be suitable for future products as it is way cheaper.

I bought a good quality sheet of canvas from my local fabric store and more poster paint. I bolted the canvas to my table so it would not shrink as the caulk dried. I mixed the ballast, caulk, paint and some water together in a sturdy bucket. I spread the mess thinly on my canvas with newspaper underneath to absorb excess. I also added it to my new hill tops. I sprinkled the three colors of flock onto the mat and gently pressed it into place. After an hour, I spread the flock around some to give it a more blended, natural look. After letting the mess dry for a day or so. I fixed the flock in place by spraying the mat down with a mix of PVA and water, I let this dry another day. I then got my predrilled hex template board and used it to mark the hexes on the mat. These I marked in with brown felt. 

Flock added to the base of caulk and sand

I cut the mat to 6'x4'. This will be usable for the Command and Color ranges of games as well as Commit the Garde. If I ignore the discreet hexes, I can use it for other games as well. I will still need my old hex mat for Epic sized games of Command and Colors. Stay tuned for pictures of the new mat and hills in action in future posts!

Completed hills and mat

Big screen finished product

Finished hills

Monday, 31 July 2017

Chain of Command Scenario Three

It is my last day of holidays and I spent it playing a solo game of Chain of Command (CoC). I kept a journal of events for the write up and review. This scenario was called attack and defend. The defender deployed his deployment markers in his deployment area. The attacker started on the baseline but gets to have D6 free moves before the game continues back and forth. The Germans rolled well for force morale (11) and the Soviets rolled poorly (8). The Germans rolled 4 free moves and tried to set up his deployment so they could deploy in the rock walled field. This they succeeded in doing...

poker chips used for deployment markers


Jump Off Points

Turn 1

The Germans had the highest force morale and took the first turn. They deployed 1st Section in the center behind the rock wall and went into overwatch. They also deployed 2 scouts on the right next to the field.

The Soviets responded by having three turns in a row. They deployed A Section on their right in the woods, outside of the overwatching German's arc of fire. They planned to outflank the Germans. The extra turns allowed A Section to advance through the woods but their fire was ineffective. The Soviets tried to deploy scouts and B Section but they failed 4 attempts to deploy their troops due to the German preliminary bombardment.

The Germans responded by turning to face their flank and made room to deploy a second section if needed.

 German troops take casualties as they redeploy but their superior firepower soon begins to tell

The Soviets failed to bring in any reinforcements and had to use a Chain of Command dice to end the turn. This also ended the effects of the preliminary bombardment.

Turn 2

The Germans deployed 2 Section along the rock wall and went into overwatch. 1 Section suppressed the Soviets in the woods and fired for effect causing 2 shock. 

The Soviets finally started bringing in reinforcements. They deployed B Section in the church and fired on the overwatching 2 Section causing 1 kill. The Germans returned fire in overwatch but could not penetrate the thick walls of the cathedral. The Soviets also deployed their B64 armored car which advanced at the double.

The Germans fired for effect with 1 Section and caused 2 kills and 2 shock on A Section in the woods. 2 Section fired to suppress the cathedral with one Team and advanced to the door of the house in their front. The German reconnaissance 1/2 track arrived and advance up the road.

The Germans abandon cover and try to capture a key piece of terrain

The Soviets saw their chance to catch the Germans in the open. They deployed a Section of Scouts in the house that 1 Section was sitting in front of. They blazed away with their SMGs but only inflicted 1 shock! They had better luck on the other flank where their second Scout team surprised the scouting German team and neutralized them. A Section rallied off some shock in the woods.

Soviet Scouts surprise a German Scout team and take them out

The German phase saw the arrival of the Senior Leader. He ordered the exposed Team from 1 Section lob  3 grenades through the windows of the house with the Soviet scouts reducing the 4 man team to 1 man. They thought about assaulting but an elite scout with an SMG would have taken a few Germans with him. Instead, the Section put the barrel of the LMG and SMG in the windows and shot down the last Scout. In hindsight, the rules say the Germans should have had to assault as they were within 4" inches of each other.1 Section fired for effect into the woods again, causing 1 kill, 2 shock and lightly wounding the Soviet squad leader.

With the loss of their Scout team, the Soviets committed their last reserve. C Section arrived with the Senior Leader in the same house the Scouts had deployed in. They dropped grenades at the exposed Germans outside the house and then assaulted. The Germans rolled well and took out 2 Soviet riflemen and injured the Senior leader before they were wiped out. Now the Soviets were the exposed ones out n the open in front of the remnants of 2 Section. B Section did what they could to help by providing covering fire from the cathedral. A Section withdrew into the safety of the woods as they were too battered to contribute to the defense until rallied.

Victorious C Section is badly exposed in front of the house

The Germans deployed 3 Section in the cow field and opened up on the beleaguered C Section inflicting 3 kills and 1 shock. 2 Section managed to inflict 2 shock and lightly wounding the Soviet Junior Leader from throwing grenades and firing while suppressed. The German half track added its fire and caused another kill and shock.

3 Section arrives and pours fire into the Soviets

The Soviet force morale had been reduced to three and all they could respond with was some accurate rifle fire from the Scout Section which caused 2 kills on the newly arrived 3 Section.

The final German phase saw fire from 1 and 3 Section finish off C Section. To end the game, the German Senior Leaded lead the remnants of 2 section to throw grenades and assault the wounded Soviet Senior Leader and wounded Junior Leader from C Section resulting in their demise and the collapse of Soviet morale.

This was a landslide win for the Germans. The panzer grenadiers are powerful with their 2 LMG's per section. I am continuing to learn these rules and spent a lot of time with my nose in the rule book. It is a game that offers some interesting command decisions. Should I deploy all my units early and increase my firepower? Should I hold units in reserve and take advantage of my opponents mistakes? Should I use lots of scouts to try and force my opponent to deploy troops to defend their jump off points? Having the last reserve was decisive for the Germans when they deployed them to finish of C Section. I like being able to use the leaders to have units throw grenades. These are very effective weapons, causing 3 auto hits against troops in confined spaces. Too effective? I don't think was not clear in the rules if a unit outside a house is assaulted by a unit in the house, do they get hard cover? I ruled that they did. I will post to the FB group and see what they say.

Next? My friend Jonathan is in town. I will see if I can get the usual suspects together and put on a game for him. Also, my boy has rekindled his interest in Song of Blades and Heroes. Stay tuned for more games and pictures.