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Commanders, a wargame digest


Commanders News

6 Sep 2020

Commander subscription not re-newed

Each year I come to the same point as to whether it is worth keeping the Commanders site running.

At £50 a year and not really seeing how it fits in differently from the blog, I have decided to halt my subscription.

The Pro subscription gave me 30 pages. The company do allow 7 free pages, so I have deleted everything other than 6 pages, simply to allow the hosting company to degrade the site from Pro to Free and for a while, I will run just a couple of pages because so many things I have sign posted on the blog, lead to here and I need time to close down those links.

Thanks to all who visited here, my dabblings will continue to be written about at the Battlefields and Warrior blog LINK

4 Sep 2020

Latest issue Wargames Soldiers & Strategy

The nice WS&S issue 110 hits the streets today and I picked up my copy from WH Smith (UK high street stationers).

The monthly theme is the American war of Independence - winter of 1777.

Up to its usual high standards of lovely illustration and wargame content.

There are some nice sized scenario, including The Battle of Millstone, which is a forage scenario at the company level - something like a couple of regiments per side.

As always, a cover-to-cover read. The next issue will be visiting the wars if Vietnam between 1946 and 1975.

3 Sep 2020

First run out with free rules

Having done a few test of routines with a couple of units, today the game went to the table for a full version of battle.

There is a blog post that covers the AAR and gives some observational comments about the system and flow of play.

I enjoyed this set and it has spurred the project to move up the painting queue.

The photo is my Front Rank medieval artillery piece and crew.


1 Sep 2020

Trying Billhooks

Just running through the sequence of movement, archery and advancing to contact for melee. The straight-forward mechanics become second nature very quickly.

I had billmen advance onto bows, then men-at-arms, then retinue cavalry charging retinue billmen and finally billmen attacking pike - all as a head on clash.

Bill against bow had mixed results, but generally, the bowmen inflicted enough hits that they stayed in the field and fought the bill off. M-A-A easily dealt with the archers and the Pike V’s Bill is quite generic in nature, as they are both equals in most respect, so Lady Luck may play her part.

The heavy cavalry charging was interesting as they have less figures in a unit (8), but get double dice per figure and have a single rank, so every figure can throw dice in all settings.  That first strike yielding 16 dice can be quite devastating.

There are a couple of things that I am not sure about, such as archers testing to evade at the moment of contact, but they have the same move allowance as billmen and so if they do evade and the attacker still has their second Action left, then will catch up and fight anyway, so what is the point of evading?

The other is that bill and pike are exactly the same and it will need some external influences to make their contact anything other than a dice-off!

Anyway, I enjoyed the test and what it really needs now is to move onto a proper battlefield with proper forces so that the inter-play of all the systems can occur. 

EDIT, I have just noticed that there are some addition allowances for pike, which will make them a little different.


28 Aug 2020

Really nice Free Rules!

Issue 393 Wargames illustrated hits the UK high street today and the issue includes a free rules supplement for the Wars of the Roses period.

I have put up a ‘first look’ appraisal over on the blog, link below.

These look to be a very nice set of rules and are very nicely presented. I rather fancy that our magazine side of the hobby is under pressure these days as gamers move from paying for a magazine to getting a lot of free internet content.

But ... if ever there was a moment that our magazines deserved a shot in the arm from the legion of wargamers, it is today, the cover price is well worth the content, well done Wargames Illustrated!


25 Aug 2020

Agincourt - a primer

With a few gamers getting into this package, I thought I would use the small Agincourt scenario as a bit of primer to the system.

Interestingly, the basic scenario has the two armies in their starting positions and then they go at each other under the normal Men-of-Iron rules.

However, the scenario has special ‘historical’ optional rules that will take the French performance to be more reflective of their action on the day. If these options are used, the game is very heavily Pro-English and the designer says this aspect is best pursued in solitaire play.

The basic scenario, does give the better ‘gamers’ game and even though the prime purpose of the blog post is as a primer, an interesting account does fall out of that.

More over on the blog. LINK

20 Aug 2020

2nd edition classic gaming

Arriving today from Caliver Books, Programmed Wargame scenarios by Charles S. Grant.

With 19 scenarios and 2 mini-campaign games, this gives the reader situations for Red and Blue armies, with one or both armies being influenced by pre-programmed sections in the rules for set-up and actions.

The map of 3 panels is randomly created from a matrix of 9 panels, specific to each scenario and the attacker map may be missing some features as it is assumed that only the defender is fully familiar with the terrain.

There are unit lists for ancients, horse & musket and modern, plus systems for creating leader characteristics and random event charts.

All told, the book is designed to bring interesting and varied situations for the solo player ...... looking forward to Scenario 1.

19 Aug 2020

Re-fighting Bosworth 1485

More from the Men-of-Iron Tri-Pack, this time Bosworth, which just so happens to have an anniversary in a few days.

This is a bigger scenario than 1st St. Albans and has a bit of intrigue going on under the bonnet, with the Stanleys and Percy (Northumberland) possible reluctant participants.

There is an AAR and some observation comments on the system over at the blog.


16 Aug 2020

St. Albans .... again!

Back to the table, the 1st Battle of St. Albans. Today is the first cool day after our mini heatwave, so I had the motivation to get something on the table.

I thought I would do this again, while it is fresh in my mind and also in some readiness for Bosworth next week, which incidentally will coincide with the anniversary of the real battle.

In this shot it is an early part of the Battle, Richard (York) has successfully prosecuted an attack across the ditch on the Yorkist right flank .... but then the Lancastrians got a good run of activation rolls, getting Buckingham and his reserve across to block Richard.

The Lancastrians had quite a bit of good fortune in this game and inflicted some heavy casualties ...... but as the Lancastrian right thinned, King Henry became increasingly vulnerable and he was eventually captured, resulting in a Lancastrian collapse.

14 Aug 2020

Recreating the OHW book cover

The front book cover to One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas, is an image that is well known to many gamers.

The book covers wargaming from early ancients right through to WWII, so there were a host of iconic images that the publishers could have chosen to grace the cover of these rules, so the choice of WWII, east front, KV-1 tank etc. is interesting from that perspective alone.

Anyway, I have recreated the scene in 1/72 and also in 15mm, plus played around with an art package to get something that I might use in one of my own scenario sheets.

There is more on the blog. LINK

8 Aug 2020

Replay - 1st St. Albans

Having had a test run with the game, I set up 1st St. Albans and ran through the scenario properly.

The Yorkist army has an advantage in terms of numbers and also the activation ratings of their formations, but despite this, it gave a very interesting game, with the Lancastrians having ‘their moment’ a couple of times.

I have put some observational notes over on the blog, together with a photo supported AAR. There are also some additional comments on complexity for fellow blogger Steve from his Sound Officers Call blog, to pick up on.

Blog Link

8 Aug 2020

 More 1st St. Albans

I had a bit of a knock around with the scenario for around two hours, while getting to grips with the various mechanics.

With that done, another full read of the rule book pretty much had the system embedded and a full playing of the 1st St. Albans scenario has been played out and recorded for a blog  presentation, which will likely go up over the weekend.

The battle makes for a very good into scenario, though an uneven fight for the Lancastrians, yet despite this, the way the system uses activation, the Lancastrian do get their moments.

5 Aug 2020

1st Battle of St. Albans

Up on the table today the 1st St. Albans scenario from GMT’s Tri-Pack for Men-of-Iron. This bumper reprint package includes three previously published full games from the series, Men-of-Iron, Infidel and Blood & Roses.

Blood & Roses covers the Wars of the Roses conflict and 1st St. Albans is the smallest game in the package, so very good to break into the system.

The system is quite straight forward, but for whatever reason the rules on 1st reading have not sunk in, so I am playing through te sequence of play a few times to try and get a feel of things and will then go through the rules again.

Here it looks like Henry VI (top left) is about to be captured by Salisbury’s men as they have successfully worked against the Lancastrian right flank.

More to follow as I get into this.

3 Aug 2020

The study of the simple game!

Steve, on his Sound Officers Call blog has just posted the first of a series of posts that explore the nature of the simple game, from the perspective of encouraging play and maintaining enthusiasm.

In his efforts to tabulate his thinking, he has posed a number of questions to other AAR writers that will help him define the nature of ‘simple’.

As my contribution, I put out a small ACW game using the Perry Firepower rules, did a brief AAR and then answered Steve’s questions in full. All of that goodness, including a link to Steve’s article is up on my blog now.


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