Commanders, a wargame digest

Commanders, a wargame digest

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Dear Diary - a rolling 6 months of comment

27 May 2022

One of the buys that I was pleased with from the recent Partizan 2022 show was this 1/72 die cast Brummbär, falling into my hands at just £6.

The plastic presentation box describes it as representing a vehicle belonging to Stu.Pz.Abt.216 stationed at Nettuno, Italy.

A few of years ago I had a deep dive into the Anzio campaign and noted the Brummbärs in the German order-of-battle. I also recall that there was so much mud around that vehicles were pretty much road-bound. 

There were accounts of tanks (Shermans) trundling out along the road, firing off all of the H.E. and then returning to their supply points. 

The Brummbär itself was a well armoured self propelled artillery piece, on a Panzer IV chassis and armed with a 150mm gun, ideal for working in towns and cities to attack buildings and strongpoints.

I felt the die cast model was a bit too pristine / plasticky looking, so have dampened down painted surfaces with inks and powders. Mud has been added (justifiably) to the tracks and lower body. It just needs a mat varnish applying now to protect and give some contrast with the sheen reduced.

I am happy with the overall result and am glad that I managed to get this as a ‘one-piece’ rather than having to build up a multi-part modellers kit at some future point …. In truth, this has been the easy bit, next I need to be thinking about dragging the Airfix buildings out of storage and getting some paint on them.

22 May 2022

Partizan Wargames Show

Today I visited Newark for the Partizan ‘22 show and it had all of the hallmarks of a great success.

An important aspect of the show in my view, being the goodly number of wargame tables with both demo and participation games going on. A big effort had clearly been made by those putting on the games and there was plenty of scale diversity, so some good pleasers for a wide audience.

I have put up a few images over on the blog. LINK

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2022/05/partizan-wargame-show-2022.html

21 May 2022

The blog is open for posts again

The Battlefields and Warriors blog, which had been suspended, will now see the occasional post. It just gives me somewhere to go for bigger articles or picture heavy posts.

I have however decided to keep the comments section switched off, for now at least. The reasoning is given on a new blog post.

Most of my stuff will continue to be posted here as this site slowly builds up an archive.

LINK to blog;

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2022/05/green-light-for-blogging-well-sort-of.html

19 May 2022

An early game collapse!

I put out Bulge 1944 by Worthington Publishings, intending to do a write up of the full battle ….. however!

On turn 1, the Germans got a breakthrough at Clervaux. 2nd Panzer Division and Lehr worked together to then clear the road ahead and take Bastogne. This just didn’t feel right really, a bit ‘un-Bulge like’, for me, but before dismissing it as looking unlikely, I will do some reading on the campaign and see what the likelihood is of such a thing.

In this picture, you can see that finger of German advance having reached Bastogne.

Anyway, this just set the problem for the Allies, with Bastogne, a major road hub taken and the centre now wide open, the Germans were able to push deep into Allied territory.

By turn 3, the Allies had managed to close off the Meuse from Huy to Liege, but Lehr simply turned northwards and crossed the Meuse at the undefended Namur, gaining a Sudden Death victory. All rather unsatisfactory really.

Now, my friend played the same scenario over the last few days and he got to the last turn and had to settle on a draw, following a very tight game throughout. That would be the sort of game that I would want.

Other gamers have reported that the Germans can win too early and so the designer changed the timetable of some of the Allied reinforcements and entry points, which people seem to acknowledge dampens down the German drive.

I think I will be inclined to implement those changes in full in future (today, I just allowed the 101 to come on a turn early). This means 7th & 10th Armored Divisions to be broken down and allowing one of their respective combat teams to enter the game early, as a sort of lead element of the Division.

I like the game and the game play, but I want a bit more history than this, I want both players to feel the strains and stresses that a Bulge game should deliver. It is really surprising that a game got through development to print and then needed order-of-battle amendments for both play balance and the sake of the history.

16 May 2022

Latest Miniature Wargames

A very eye-catching cover re 1066 rebellion action, coinciding with the 28mm 1066 command figures that were in my letter box when I returned home today (a gift from my daughter).

Three articles dominate the issue. One is Pebble Park, a raid for the Albedo Combat Patrol rules and the 1066 stuff that looks at conflict that followed in the wake of 1066 Hastings, with a sample scenario. They include stats for Lion Rampant and stats for Hail Caesar can be downloaded from the TTG website. 

Also there is a scenario for Crysler Farm 1813 in the War of 1812, using the Live Free or Die rules.

All the usual bits and bobs give a well rounded issue. Our local Smiths bookstore only had two copies on the shelf, they used to have seven, so a sign of the times perhaps.

15 May 2022

Sword & Spear

It has been a while, so a small game of 2nd Edition Sword & Spear went onto the table today to re-familiarise myself with the rules.

Each side had a single battle of 3 archers and 3 billmen with a mix of retinue and levy, to each flank they had a unit of either handgunners, artillery or crossbow.

 On a points basis, both sides were pretty equal, but in the game it wasn’t long before the Lancastrians got the upper hand and Yorkist contingents started to rout from the field.

There were interesting moments on the flanks. On one Yorkist handgunners charged to contact against the Lancastrian artillery piece, while on the other flank, Lancastrian crossbow were particularly lethal, in the end removing two units from play.

With matched forces and no terrain, the outcome highlighted how ‘the system’ or dice alone, could, for no apparent reason, favour one side. Just a case of Lady Luck rather than better tactics.

Over the next few days, I will do a bigger game with a wider mix of forces and ratings to remind myself of the wider aspects and nuances of the rules.

14 May 2022

Bulge 1944

For our face-to-face game yesterday, we put down the Bulge game by Worthington Publishing.

This is a low complexity design that uses ‘buckets of dice’ for combat and Resource Points to activate units for both attack and movement.

It covers the opening of the campaign, through to 25th December, so is really taking play to what might be thought of as the German high tide. We used the suggested play balance errata that allows some Allied troops to come on earlier and this does seem necessary to stop a German romp to victory.

While the advantage for the Allies is in getting a couple of units onto the table earlier to take up blocking positions, those units are made available by breaking down two divisions and later in the game, they can pay the price by being too vulnerable to elimination, so definitely a two edge sword.

Despite its simplicity, the core sense of Bulge is preserved, with the Germans forever looking for opportunities to break through and exploit while maintaining supply and for the Allies, a constant exhaustion in trying to block this advance with barely enough units to manage that each turn.

Good to return to this and it puts the next game in the series (D-Day to the Rhine) on my radar.

13 May 2022

Back Issue

I recently received one of those ‘5 Euro off’ vouchers from Karwansaray Publishers, so had a dive into their back catalogue of Wargames Soldiers & Strategy magazine.

I settled on issue 56 which is ACW themed and nicely times with my current dabbling in that period.

A quick browse shows it to be an excellent issue. The scenarios mentioned on the front give us a single scenario for Big Bethel and three separate scenarios for Blackburn’s Ford (1st Bull Run) plus a scenario for Henry House Hill.

The three Blackburn’s Ford scenarios cover (1) the initial skirmish between 1st Massachusetts and 11th Virginia (2) the advance of 12th New York and the response of 1st and 17th Virginia (3) a ‘what if’ using all of the previous forces, with Richardson’s entire brigade advancing in an attempt to secure the ford.

For these three. They used the following rules respectively - The Sword & Flame rules ACW, The Terrible Sharp Sword and Crusader’s Rank and File.

All told, with the remaining very good articles, this is a cover-to-cover read and more. Any ACW enthusiast would be well served securing a copy of this issue.

12 May 2022

Play tests

Part 1 of the new scenario has had two playings over the last couple of days.

Firstly with TF-ON and then with Black Powder, simply to apply a different set of rules and therefore stresses on the scenario itself.

There isn't any great deal of nuance to part I of the scenario and in this regard, Black Powder felt a bit more generic, with both sides blasting away until one side broke.

TF-ON on the other hand did feel a bit more involved, but I think this just reflects that TF-ON is better suited to the smaller set-up and likely it might struggle, time-wise, if the scenario was too big, an area that Black Powder is eminently suited to.

The smaller scenario suits the kind of 'pocket army' type games that I am generally going for.

Next up is to set aside enough time to play both parts I and II back to back with the TF-ON rules

10 May 2022

A new scenario for TF-ON

Having some fun at the moment developing a new scenario for the next edition of the Two Flags - One Nation rules that will support a ‘non-hexed’ table.

The scenario is specifically being designed for gamers just starting out, with smaller collections of both terrain and figures.

I found a suitable action that can be split into two parts, reflecting a short lull between the two moments of activity. The first is really quite small, the second adds in some reinforcements, allowing players to play as far into the scenario as their collections allow.

It all looks good in theory …. Now to test it on the table!

6 May 2022

Any Day: The Ruhr Pocket

This is the final scenario in the Old School Tactical ‘Phantom Division’ module, set in April 1945. It has been well thought out, with the German defenders being a ramshackle mix of units brought together, brittle but well armed, making them a potential tough obstacle and a situation that makes one think of the sad souls who lost their lives, seemingly needlessly, in the closing weeks of the war.

This is a one mapper, playing in just 7 turns, so is a good fit for a short evening of face to face gaming.

The Germans have a mix of morale levels, but an interesting touch is that for every 5 casualty points they suffer, the German morale levels across the board get worse by one point, plus a leader must actually be present with a unit for it to stand a chance of rally during the impulse phase. Collectively, this does a really good job at reflecting the brittle nature of the defence.

To win, the Americans must cause all the German forces to have a worse status than ‘good order’ or occupy 5 of the 7 objective buildings. This is an excellent map, reminiscent of the old Board 1 in the basic Squad Leader game (Avalon Hill) in 1978.

In this photo, our opening impulses brought some exciting tension as the Tiger and lead Pershing opened up in a close-up gun duel, with several shots missing and setting a narrative of crews under so much pressure to hit rather than being hit themselves, that they ‘fumble’ through the anxious moments, with a mix of panic, excitement and anxiety all plating their part. Even a Panzerfaust armed infantry section tried to get in on the action!

6 May 2022

Latest WSS magazine

The new issue (April / May #119) has hit the shelves in the UK and it is a cracking issue for napoleonic fans, with the theme being the Imperial Guard (Original Grognards and Final Reserves).

The article that I went straight to was a scenario sub-titled The Young Guard at Plancenoit - 18th June 1815. This covers the action towards the end of the day at Waterloo, when the Prussians started to arrive on Napoleons right, putting him under increasing pressure to hold them while quickly dealing with Wellington to his front.

This has the potential to be a big affair, needing a big table and a goodly figure collection, but here, the authors present the game on a 6 x 4, with formations bath-tubbed down one level and it looks very interesting. Guidance is give on using Black Powder rules and surprisingly Rebels and Patriot rules, so a good range there.

This will no doubt be of interest to those who are planning on getting the soon to be released Prussian army from Warlord Games in their Epic scale. My interest in the battle comes from playing the boardgame ‘Crisis on the right’, earlier this year, covering the same subject.

There is a good mix of articles and overall a cover-to-cover read. The ‘Let’s play’ section covers the 02 Hundred Hours rules (Commando stealth game) and there is coverage on building hedges and building a Normandy walled farm (very nice), plus two other napoleonic scenarios, collecting a Tudor army, the battle of Aquae Sexiae (102 BC) for the new 2mm Strength & Honour rules, a Marcher Lord skirmish game (at Ogmore) and a rather nifty WWII Normandy scenario involving allied ‘D’ company of 506th Para.

All-told, another excellent issue.

5 May 2022

Changes to TF-ON

The existing unit classifications for raw / seasoned / veteran in the Two Flags - One Nation rules have been changed to Limited / Capable / Superior respectively.

While these are not typical ACW nomenclature, they give a clearer categorisation for units to be placed into when scenario building, plus, it will serve better when the rules move to cover other horse and musket periods.

The ‘Elite’ rule has also gone, which in any case was a little awkward and could only be applied as an additional status to veteran units.

It has been replaced by the notion of a ‘Notable Unit’, which is a unit that during a battle was perceived to have gone above and beyond what might normally be expected and importantly, it can be applied to any capability category. So for example, a Militia unit, likely classed as Limited, may have done something important or heroic in a battle and we can give a hint of that by making them notable.

Notable status simply allows the unit once per game to re-roll all of their dice for that one roll, regardless of what it is for and it gives the unit the chance to do something that matters in that critical moment. 

4 May 2022

Blogs to inspire

Steve W on his blog (link below) has just put up part 1 of his Elchingen Battle, using the easy play Napoleonic rules from Neil Thomas (of which I have a copy and must pull them from the shelf again).

Blogs are a constant source of inspiration and here Steve has used his 10mm Napoleonics to good effect …… drawing me back to doing some more Epic stands for that look! (Rather like Steve J’s table did, shown further down this page).

If you like this sort of thing, pop across to Steve’s blog and if you like what you see, please consider leaving a comment, a lot of work has clearly gone into his presentation and the more support blogs get, the more likely they are to continue to stay active.

LINK

http://soundofficerscall.blogspot.com/2022/05/the-battle-of-elchingen-with-neil.html

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