Sunday, 19 May 2019

ECW Campaign Campaign Game 20

As the Royalist army marched through the West Midlands their path was blocked by a larger Parliamentarian force near the town of Droitwich. Being outnumbered the Royalist army took up position on a large hill opposite the bridge.

Battle positions
While being fordable any unit, excluding artillery, crossing the river would take one hit. So it was preferable to have most units cross the river via the single available bridge.

Tabletop and deployments with Royalists on the hill and Parliament lined up along the river bank.
Royalist position
Parliamentarian positions
The battle began around 10am as the Parliamentarian commander pushed his dragoons across the river down stream of the bridge while infantry moved across the bridge supported by cavalry who forded the river. In response Royalists pushed their dragoons into the fields to engage the cavalry at range, and also charged with some of their cavalry into Parliament's infantry who had suffered from accurate musketry.

Parliamentarian cavalry soon engaged the dragoons with pistols from across the river while others moved and engaged Royalist cavalry. The battle was becoming an arm wrestle around the bridge with both sides losing units.

Royalist cavalry about to respond by charging into the Parliament cavalry.
On the Royalist right flank the commanded shot were successfully distracting Parliament's dragoons and allowing the Royalist infantry to engage units crossing the bridge unhindered.

Royalists holding the hill while in the background commanded shot engage the dragoons.
More Parliamentarian units cross the bridge.
By mid-afternoon Royalist forces had lost the battle on both wings and retired as Parliament prepared for a final assault in the hill.

Royalist forces decise to retire.
An unsurprising victory to Parliament who entered the battle with 12 units versus 9 Royalist units. The Royalist forces will retire back to the North Midlands to lick their wounds. Parliament will now have at least one opportunity the strike at a Royalist region before the year 1644 comes to a close.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

A bit of everything this weekend

So far this weekend is turning out to be a bit of everything when it comes to model making and wargaming. First, I managed to finish off the English Civil War game which will be written up later this weekend.
ECW game in progress more to follow in the next post.
Second, I finished off the latest unit of paper soldiers for the Jacobite Rebellion armies. I have lost count of how many units I have cutout and made, so I will be getting all their units out of their shoe box homes and lined up on the tabletop.

More paper soldiers
Third, having recently reacquainted myself with my 19th Century image-nations armies for a game. One thing I did not like was how the mix of flags worked and I repainted all the flags using surplus transfers from my space marine kits for some of the details.

Repainted flags for 19th century image-nation forces
Fourth, creating reeds or jungle grasses from some fake grass I picked up at an art shop a month or so ago around Easter time. I am not sure what the actual purpose of this fake grass is, but as soon as I saw it I though it would be useful on the wargaming table as terrain. The individual tuffs of grass can be easily detached (pulled off) but need a bit of weight to stay put on the tabletop. Weight was added by glueing washers to the base which I had sprayed green.

Recent purchase
A quick trial showed the effectiveness, but the plastic grass needs some weight to make them stay put as reeds beside the river.
Another use is as long jungle grasses for my Crossfire WW2 Burma games.
Washers were sprayed with green paint then glued to the plastic grass tuffs.
River without reeds 
River with reeds added. 
Fifth, I reworked my existing felt cloth I use to represent woods. Spraying the dark green felt with a lighter green and sand to get some colour variation.

Original felt
Sprayed with a lighter green and sand paint
After spraying and with trees
Not a lot of difference, but the look is softened

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Return to the ECW campaign

It has been about six weeks since the last time I played an English Civil War game as part of my on-going campaign. The last battle saw Parliament attempt to increase their control of the South Coast region, only to see their army repulsed in July 1644.

Campaign map as at August 1644
Moving ahead to August (after a roll of 1 on a D3 dice) we have a Royalist army march from the North Midlands into the West Midlands. However in Royalist controlled regions trouble was brewing with clubmen gangs fed up with deprivations cause by the war causing problems for local garrisons. This has resulted the artillery train being delayed and a smaller force being available (although some say poor dice rolling was the cause of that).

On the other hand Parliaments army was buoyed by a wealthy commander who supplied an additional cavalry unit (from his own purse no less) along with the continuing benefit throughout 1644 of well funded armies curtesy of excise taxes.

Chance cards in play for this game.

Orders of battle...

Royalist Units:

  • 3 x cavalry
  • 3 x infantry
  • 2 x dragoons
  • 1 x elite pike
Parliament Units:
  • 5 x cavalry
  • 4 x infantry
  • 2 x dragoons
  • 1 x lobster cavalry
  • 1 x Artillery

The battle is taking place near the town of Driotwich.

Terrain cards
The terrain cards were drawn and tabletop setup. The Royalists commander will choose the long table edge to defend. While there is a river this is fordable at any point to all units except artillery, and all unit crossing the river will suffer the loss of 1 hit.

Tabletop layout.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

A bit of 19th Century gaming

It has been a busy weekend having just returned from a holiday and doing the usual sorting out that goes with returning home. However, I was able to spend Saturday morning at Little Wars Melbourne wargames show. There were approximately 30 wargame tables in action all the ones I looked at were well presented. One participation table took my attention because it had some splendid Franco-Prussian figuresby Spencer Smith along with some simple one-page rules. All very old school and I was able to participate in a quick and most enjoyable game before moving on to have a look at various games in progress and peruse items for sale around the hall.

Franco-Prussian game from the show
After being inspired by Saturday's Franco-Prussian participation game, I dragged out my 19th Century imagination figures (Greater Novia and Ustorian forces) for a quick game.

Having set up the table I used the scenarios chapter from "19th Century Wargaming" by Neil Thomas to determine force composition.

Ustorian Forces

  • 4 infantry units
  • 1 skirmish unit
  • 2 cavalry units
  • 1 dragoon unit
  • 2 artillery units

Due to traffic congestion 3 Ustorian units would be delayed in arriving until turn 4.

Greater Novia Forces
  • 4 infantry units
  • 2 skirmish unit
  • 1 cavalry units
  • 1 dragoon unit
  • 2 artillery units
3 units were on a flanking march and would arrive on either flank in turn 5.

The rules I used are a mash-up of "One Hour Wargaming" and Horse and Musket rules from Donald Featherstone's "Tackle Model Soldiers This Way". A link to the rules can be found at the top of the post.

Early game deployments
Ustorian units occupy the town and are engaged by advancing Greater Novia units. Both sides used their cavalry and dragoons to protect their exposed flank.
Ustorian flanking forces arrive and become quickly engaged in the fight.
Greater Novia forces keep the pressure up attacking the town as reinforcements arrive to fill the gaps where units have been lost. 
On the other flank Ustorian units are both engaged and threatened by cavalry.
Casualties were beginning to mount on a number of units on both sides.
Novia cavalry getting the upper hand and have cleared the town as Ustorian units rush  to support their artillery around the town.
In some final desperate fighting Greater Novia forces were able to secure the town. While on the other flank their cavalry  roam the open flank and will create problems for Ustorian forces.
At close of play both sides were down to their last 3 units, but a minor victory was given to Greater Novia forces as they had taken and held the town. It has been quite some time since I had these Spencer Smith figures on the tabletop.

Monday, 6 May 2019

WW2 Western Desert

I had originally intended to write up a game report from a few days ago, but time got away from me and I am now on holiday with my game notes at home. So here are a few photos.

The game played was loosely based upon "a larger action" from the book "An Introduction to Wargaming" by John Sanders. It has two similar sized forces trying to control a ridge between two escarpments. The Germans are already in position and occupying the ridge. While advancing is a British force there to investigate reports of German activity.

I ended up playing the game three times, trying out different approaches for the British forces. The first time the British pushed forward and were easily beaten. In the second play through they waited for their artillery to provide support to their attacks, which successfully defeated the German right. Allowing them to eventually flank and capture the ridge. The third play through ended up a draw.

When I am on holiday while travelling between sights I will often mull rule ideas over in my head. One idea I am thinking of trying is to use a deck of cards rather than dice for the Tank on Tank rules. I have no idea how the game will flow and it may turn out to be not such a good idea. But I have recently really enjoyed some One-Hour Skirmish Wargaming games which use a deck of cards rather than dice to determine outcomes. So I will give cards a try upon my return home.

As for my holiday - I am currently here...

Friday, 26 April 2019

WW2 Western Desert house rules for Tank on Tank

In some recent and past comments I was asked about the house rules I apply to Lock 'n' Load's Tank on Tank rules which are available for download here.  The Tank on Tank board games and Online "Steam" games are geared towards gaming tank combat the later years of WW2. Hence the need for some house rules to use these quick and enjoyable rules in a Western Desert setting. Anyway this is a longer than normal post and has my house rules written up. Quite a useful thing for me to do as they were all on scribbled notes and would have been easily forgotten by me at a later date. 

A past game
The house rules relate mainly to:
  • Adjusting ranges and defence values for earlier WW2 equipment
  • Differentiating self-propelled guns vs. tanks
  • Limiting artillery support to HQs
  • Western Desert terrain features and effects on combat
  • Minefields
  • LOS impacts by brewed up vehicles, dust thrown up by moving vehicles, and visibility with midday heat hazes
  • Smoke screens
  • Introducing a game clock

So here are the rules and some photos. Hopefully without too many typos, proof reading is not my strength. I hope they make sense...

Each unit has three values for range, defence, and movement. Where a value has two numbers split by a “/“ special rules apply to the second number used. Here are the general rules and some examples listed afterwards.

Tanks and Armoured Cars
Can move and fire during a turn.
Tanks and Armoured Cars
Self-Propelled Guns
Can move or fire, but not both during a turn. 

The aim of this rule is to differentiate within the game between SPGs and the mobility of tanks.
Self-Propelled Artillery and AT Guns
Towed Guns
Can move or fire, but not both during a turn.
Can move the higher value if moved as part of an HQ move. 

The aim of this rule is to limit the movement flexibility of towed AT and artillery units, while at the same time allow them to keep pace with other advancing units if with an HQ.
Towed artillery

Armoured Infantry
Can move or fire, but not both during a turn. As per rules.

Armoured infantry on the move
Motorised Infantry
Can move or fire, but not both during a turn.
Can move the higher value if moved as part of an HQ move.

Motorised infantry
The aim of this rule is to have a simple way to limit the movement flexibility of motorised infantry which have to unload to move into combat, and differentiate them from Armoured infantry units.

Defence Value Examples
8/10 = Motorised Infantry (soft-skinned vehicles), towed guns, and 2pdr Portees
9/10 = Armoured Infantry and AT (eg, Sdkfz 250 and Bren Gun Carriers)
9 = Armoured Cars, Self-Propelled Guns, and Tankettes (eg, Sdkfz 222, Wespe, Pz1)
10 = Light Tanks (eg, Stuart, PzII, Cruiser, M13/40, Crusader)
11 = Medium Tanks (eg, PzIII, StugIII, Crusader III, PzIV, Sherman, and Valentine)
12 = Heavy Tanks (eg, Matilda)

Range Values Examples
88mm = 4 hexes
75mm*, 6pdr = 3 hexes 
47mm, 50mm, 37mm, 2pdr, = 2 hexes
20mm and small arms** = 1 hex
* Grant 75mm can only be used if not moved during turn.
** Infantry (motorised and armoured) range remains 1 hex even when on hill

Movement Values Examples
Slow = 1 hex (eg, Towed guns*, motorised infantry*, Matilda tank)
Medium = 2 hex (eg, PzIII, Grant, Valentine, Cruiser Tank, and Armoured Infantry
Fast = 3 hex (eg, Stuart, Crusader, Armoured Cars)
* move 2 hexes if moved by HQ move.

Exceptional Unit Commander marker - Used to indicate an exceptionally led unit. Can re-roll failed hits.

Head Quarters (HQ) marker - Used to indicate a commander is attached to a unit. Place it with the unit as a reminder of the presence of an HQ. If the unit is eliminated, remove the unit and set aside the commander marker which can return to the game (for exception see Army Resolve house rule)

Dust cloud marker - Used to show units which moved during their turn.

Brewed up marker - Used to show where units have been destroyed.

Smoke marker - Used to show where smoke has been laid down.

A unit with attached HQ. All units are mounted on a 2x2 inch base and HQ markers are on a 1.5x1.5 inch base.
A unit with an experienced commander. Experienced commander markers are on a 1x1 inch base.
Brewed up markers
Two moving units with dust cloud markers
Smoke screen blocks LOS for two tank units as they advance towards an 88mm Gun.
Game Setup
Agree the start time on the game clock and which table side is East and which table edge is West. These become important for visibility during the game (see visibility house rule) and for when reserves arrive at set times. The game clock progress 5 minutes after each action (e.g., if a players makes 3 actions turning a turn, then the clock would progress 15 minutes).

Game clock which moves forward 5 minutes with each action taken
The tabletop consists of hexes which represent the following terrain types:

Clear - no effects

Roads - as per rules, increases movement by one hex.

Town - provides cover, firing unit’s facing is 360 degree, and a unit in town cannot be flanked.

Hill or Sand Dune - Add one to ranges except infantry (as per rules) and provide cover unless the unit is flanked. It is assumed a unit will take advantage of the crest of a hill for cover which is negated if enemy units flank them.

Infantry units have taken cover on the hill and town.
Wadi or Depression - as per rules, unit’s must be adjacent for LOS.

A couple of infantry units are about to be surprised by an enemy tank unit hidden out of sight in a wide (depression)
Salt Marsh - impassable

Salt marsh (painted felt - quick and easy)
Escarpment - as per hill, adds one to the range, and provides cover from the escarpment side which cannot be crossed.

Rough Terrain - provides cover

Minefields - movement ceases upon entry.

A minefield adds to the danger for the advancing tank unit. An AT gun waits in its improved position.
Stacking Limit
As per rules.
Only one unit in a hex and they may not move through hexes containing units.
Aircraft no not count towards stacking.
Markers do not count towards stacking limits.

Units always face a hex-side and have a 180-degree front arc. 
The exception is units in a town which have a 360-degree frontage.

I use the solo rules.
Players take turns.
During a turn a player performs 2 actions, then roll D6. On 1-2, stop, else perform another action.
 Roll again, 1-3 stop. Else perform another action and stop.
After each action performed, progress the game clock forward by 5 minutes.

Action Points
As per rules. Action Points are expended to move, fire, and promote units. It costs one AP to:
  • Pivot and/or move one unit
  • Fire any/all units at one target
  • Promote one unit to an HQ
As per rules with HQ group moves and promotions. Additional rules:
Only HQs can call in indirect fire from Artillery units without LOS.
Field promotions are not permitted once 50% of unit are lost.
An HQ can be attached to any unit type.

Exceptional Leader
As per Ace rules, but can be assigned to any type of unit.

Similar to the rules. Units move a number of hexes equal to their movement value. Noting units must cease movement for the turn when:

  • Moving into a hex which is adjacent to an enemy unit.
  • Moving into terrain.
  • Moving into a minefield.
Towed guns and motorised infantry have two movement values. Use the higher value if they are moved as part of an HQ move.

To shoot:

  • Target in firing unit’s front arc
  • Within range (add 1 hex if on hill)
  • Have LOS.

Then roll 2D6 and:

  • Add +1 for each firing unit
  • Add +1 for attacking the flank
  • Subtract 1 if defender in cover.

If total Attack equal or greater than the defence value unit is eliminated. 

Artillery Support
An artillery unit does not require LOS to the target if a unit with an attached HQ has a valid LOS. The artillery must still be within range of the target.

Armoured infantry with an attached HQ call upon artillery positioned behind the hill,.
Anti-Tank Gun Bonus
Same as rules, but includes self-propelled AT guns where AT guns can fire at an armoured target at no action point cost.

Towed Artillery and Motorised Infantry
Towed artillery and motorised infantry have two movement points when moved as part of an HQ move. This rule limits the movement flexibility of these units which have to unlimber/limber or unload/load while not having to record the state of individual units.

Improved Positions
As per rules. Units treated as being in cover providing they do not move.

To call in an airstrike, a player must select a hex within LOS of one of their HQs and spend 2 actions.

During an airstrike the aircraft makes 3 attack runs.

Place the aircraft on the hex to be attacked. To fire roll the dice and add 2.

After the first attack on the second attack run, roll a dice, on a 4-6 the player can attack any adjacent hex. On a score of 1-3, the defending player places the airstrike on any adjacent hex on their choice.

This is process is repeated for the third attack run.

Placed by defender at start of game. 
They can only be placed in clear hexes.
Units end their movement for the turn upon entering a minefield hex. 
+1 to combat rolls when the target is in a minefield hex.

Visibility is problematic at sunrise (6:30am to 8:00am) when looking into the rising sun. So any target which is positioned East from all firing units and not adjacent is treated as being in cover. 

Likewise for the glare during sunset (5:30pm - 7:30pm) where any target position West of all firing units and not adjacent is treated as being in cover.

Midday heat haze (12:00pm to 1:30pm) effects visibility. So any target not adjacent to a firing unit is treated as being in cover.

Prior to the game starting agree which table edges are East and West and the game clock's start time.

Brewed Up Vehicles
Replace destroyed units with a brewed up marker. A hex with a brewed up marker can be seen into but blocks LOS through it. 
Brewed up markers remain for the game's duration.

I use brewed up markers to help track units lost. At the start of the game I set aside three groups of markers. One group for each side with markers for half the forces rounded up, and a common group for when all markers used by one side. Once a side's markers are all used it is a good reminder that an army has 50% casualties.

Dust Cloud Markers
When a unit moves place a dust cloud on the hex. A hex with a dust cloud can be seen into but blocks LOS through it. 

A player removes all dust clouds from their units at the start of their turn.

Army Resolve
When 50% units are lost no more HQ promotions can occur.

Sand Storm
If sand storms are predicted during the game, then roll dice at the end of each player's turn. On a score of 4-6 a sand storm is in effect and a score of 1-3 ends any sand storm in effect from a previous turn.

When a sand storm is in effect: all units move 1 hex, and any target not adjacent to a firing unit is treated as being in cover.

Smoke Screen
Artillery units can lay down smoke in a hex on a score or 6+. If successful, a player can place a smoke marker in a hex. The hex must be within range and a HQ must have LOS.

Smoke blocks LOS for all sides.

At the start of a player’s turn remove all a player’s smoke from their previous turn.

So these are all the house rules I have been using I hope they make sense if you know the game Tank on Tank. Many of the ideas for these house rules came from reading "Tank Battles in Miniature: 1 A wargamers' guide to the Western Desert Campaign 1940-1942" by Donald Featherstone. I hope to to a game report in the near future and highlight the various rules.