Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hero's Gambit 2006: Sunday Afternoon

Hero's Gambit 2006 Game Reports

Part VI: Sunday Afternoon

The last one.

Sunday afternoon was another Savage Worlds skirmish this time set in Vietnam (Tour of Darkness). For this game we had many of the usual suspects; the Jeffs, John Burt, Darrin, and a new player named Lloyd.

The Jeffs and Darrin, regular players in my Tour of Darkness campaign were probably mightily tired of seeing the same damn village as they have been secretly helping me play-test the scenario for the convention with minor changes each time for some weeks beforehand. (There will be more variety in future games, lads, hang in there! ...wait until I get the NVA painted up!) The Jeffs, Darrin, and Lloyd each had a wildcard squad leader and two fire teams of extras, John played the platoon commander.

Jeff P. took his regular (though somewhat reduced by previous action) Weapons Squad commanded by Sgt. Ronald Hicks, a jovial but clueless gambling addict. Darrin played Sgt. Dane Lyles, the alcoholic commander of Third Squad. Jeff C. played SSgt. Wallace Owen McDaniel, a stubborn, hard-ass, korean vet and the meanest, ugliest mother f@*ker the poor saps under him ever met. McDaniel is the Platoon Sergeant but lacking regular players he usually commands the platoon as well as personally leading second squad. However having two new players today I gave Lloyd Sgt. Edward Graham, the nominal, though rarely present commander of Second Squad, and John played Lt. Nathan R. Johnson the Platoon commander. Johnson is a west-pointer and formerly a star quarterback and so he has an annoying habit of using football analogies when trying to explain anything. McDaniels was thus relegated to his official role of second in command and lead first squad into battle today - which is nominally commanded by another occasional player that was busy playing in the Flames of War tournament.

So I mentioned that I had stayed up past 2AM marshaling troops and writing out unit cards for this game. I was really REwriting out unit cards for all my "bad guys" as the ones I had were rather beat up and scribbled on and I wanted everything to be clean and organized looking and this was a demo at a convention. Appearance is everything, right? Well after handing out the unit cards to the players I wanted to get mine ready, though out of sight and hidden in the box with all the figures I would be controlling, so they would have no idea what they were to be facing. I searched through everything; the figure box, the terrain box, every book I had with me. Twice. Three times. No such luck...I forgot them ALL at home. At that point I seriously just about cried. So after apologizing to the players I hastily scribbled out the necessary info onto some scrap pieces of paper. So much for neat and tidy appearances....

The Platoon is the blue team (aero-rifle platoon) of X-ray troop, 1/8th Cavalry, First Cavalry Division (Airmoble). It is the spring of 1966 and the Division in the middle of Operation Masher/White Wing in Bong Son Province of the Republic of Viet Nam. I briefed John of the situation and then let him formulate his plan and brief his subordinates. The situation was a White team (scout/observation helicopters) of their troop flew over the village earlier in the morning and thought something looked suspicious. Not much activity on the ground for a village of it's size. So the Blue Team was to be send in to sniff things our supported but the Red Team's gunships. The village was surrounded by mountain and jungle to the south and west and rice paddies to the north and east.

(remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Happy players for Tour of Darkness and the General Layout of the table. From left to right; Lloyd, Jeff P., John, and Darrin. I supplied the boonie hats and wore one myself. While I was in Calgary for Fallcon I stood in Crown Surplus for some time pondering a reproduction NVA Pith Helmet but eventually decided that $65 was a bit much for a fiberglass reproduction.

John had his slicks land the troops in a large semicircle in the rice paddies to the north and east of the village. The troops then converged on the village from the two sides. As my initial (hostile) units were hidden and on hold I just told them all to do double moves (moving twice as far as they normally would) until I thought they were close to where I would start firing on them. After each of their moves I moved the villagers that were scattered about the village. They quickly ran into their houses as the Americans approached. They did two such moves and then I dealt them in as McDaniels and First Squad were entering the village in the south east corner very close to where one of the teams of VC local militia were waiting in ambush.

That's Jeff C. on the right. This is just at the beginning of the game. The people in the town are villagers heading for their huts. Most of the Americans are still in the rice paddies.

When one of First Squad's fire team's card came up they ran into the village intending to go prone between two huts. As they were running right through the killing zone of the local VC militia I decided to interupt. I won the opposed agility test and so squeezed off a couple shots from their bolt-action rifles at the cavalry troopers but missed. The fire team carried on to their intended position and went prone.

Members of the First Squad enter the village.

Throughout the turn I revealed the other two teams; another local VC militia and a support team of Main force VC, shooting at Americans that blundered into my sights.

A B-40 rocket missed wildly and when whistling over head and blew up in the rice paddy. An RPK opened up and sent a volley of bullets down to the far end of the village where Lyles team of FNG's were standing out in the open. Some of the Main Force VC took down two members of First Squad. But the Americans were giving better than they got.

Second Squad advances towards the village.

Some of Second Squad had entered a building full of villagers, as did Sgt. Lyles, and the other fire team of First squad. I had been dealing in the villagers and one turn they pulled two jokers... well.... now was as good as any to get rid of the white devils that were ruining their country. The villagers in building with part of Second Squad and the one with Sgt. Lyles ATTACKED!

Bennies saved Lyles’ ass and even numbers and body armour saved Second Squad. One of the VC near the hut where Second Squad was being attacked rushed in to help their fellow villagers.

One of the troops of the First Squad fire team also occupying a hut with villagers detailed one of it's members to keep an eye on their fellow occupants.

The villagers and VC were quickly overpowered and taken out of action. A little TOO quickly! I had intended that a couple of them would be still in the bushes when the second wave showed up. The Americans would see a burst of flames off in the jungle "like a flame thrower". The remaining VC would burst out of the jungle running like madmen. If the Americans didn't just gun them all down the VC would run up to them and beg the Americans to save them...

Well there was no opportunity for such dramatics so the Fire Lizards and Cham Zombies burst out of the Jungle unannounced. A couple of the zombies stopped to feed on downed Americans and VC the rest swarmed through the village.

One of the Fire Lizards belched fire in the window of a hut now occupied by McDaniels and the remaining two members of the first fire team to enter the village. McDaniels successfully leapt out a window but the other two remained. By pure luck (and bad dice rolling on my part) they both survived though one was shaken.

The Zombies and Fire Lizards enter the village.

A Vietnamese Sorcerer was also with the group successfully cast a puppet spell on one of the two Americans in the hut previously occupied by McDaniels. Later on their action card the one trooper fired off a point blank burst at the other MISSING! Lucky for the players; it just wasn't my day for dice rolling.

More of the Zombies and Fire Lizards in the Village.

McDaniels fighting a Fire Lizard.

Most of the Zombies and fire Lizards were quickly taken care of and I had to wrap the game up rather quickly as it became too distracting and impossible to carry on with people taking down tables all around us and noisily dropping them and clanking chairs onto their respective piles. There was nearly 40 minutes to go in the time slot but over enthusiastic volunteers were unconcerned with such things.

The figures I used were a mix from a wide variety of manufacturers. The Americans were mostly West Wind with a few Assault Group. I like the Assault Group figures, they're much nicer and more accurate, but the West Wind ones can't be beat for price! It's a nice quick way to get a full platoon on the table. The VC were a mix of West Wind, Assault Group and ... uh... I can't remember the name of the other maker... out of England... they make Vietnam and Zulu war stuff... for some reason I think Corps or Team might be in their name... whatever. The Zombies are a mix of West Wind, Coppelstone, and Reaper. The Fire Lizards are Reaper Basilisks. The buildings were scratch built out of 1/8" MDF and various widths and shapes of pasta.

I had a cold all weekend and started the convention with a sore throat. Each evening after having to shout to be heard for hours in the noisy auditorium I could barely speak. Two or three days later I was still having a bit of trouble speaking and my ears were still ringing from all the noise.... but DANG it was a good time!

Hope to see more of you come out next year!

Cheers everyone and thanks again to all that participated!

Hero's Gambit 2006: Sunday Morning

Hero's Gambit 2006 Game Reports

Part V: Sunday Morning

Again with the staying up waaaaay toooo late. I was up until just past 2am Sunday morning, again, writing out unit cards for the Savage Worlds game... more on that later....

Stumbled into the Albert Community Center around quarter to nine once again and started setting up another Contemptible Little Armies game #2. This time it was August 1914. Originally I had planned a scenario based on the 8th Brigade's defense of the salient at Mons 23 August 1914. Friday morning with 72 figures left to paint I was still under the delusion that I could get it done in time if I painted all day and came home and painted a couple more hours each night. Around two in the afternoon I gave up on that idea. Instead I started to formulate a scenario that could be played out with figures I already had available. The scenario ended up being a simple German set piece attack across a river towards a strategically important Belgian city.

John Bertolini, John Burt, Gary and Trent showed up to play this one. John Bertolini, Gary and Trent played the Germans and John Burt played the defenders. I gave John Burt the option of defending with either a regiment of Belgians (three battalions), plus a battalion of the British Naval Brigade, supported by two batteries of Belgian Artillery, a Belgian MG detachment and a Royal Marine MG detachment OR two battalions of British Regulars, supported by a two British MG detachments and three Royal Artillery batteries. John went with the Belgian option.

I made John Bertolini overall commander of the German Division and in charge of the Divisional assets (two MG detachments, a field artillery battery, and a regiment of Uhlans). Gary and Trent each took a brigade of two regiments (a total of 6 battalions each. John also had four batteries off table firing two turns of preliminary bombardment which he had to plot out before the game started and figures were set up.

John Burt surprised The German high command by not setting up his forces where Herr Bertolini expected thus his preliminary bombardment was not quite so effective. Here's how things looked to start:

(remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Note: all of these figures were modeled and cast and painted by either John Bertolini or myself (with the exception of the guns which were mostly Houston Models -I think...?- and the British MG team which was made by Reveirsco). John made the Germans and Belgians, I made the British Naval Brigade figures. I painted the British, the Belgians, and about half of the German infantry, John painted the rest.

In the foreground is the strategically important Belgian city and the Belgian defenses beyond. One of John's surprises was to deploy a battalion of Belgian and the Battalion of British Sailors right up at the river on either side of the bridge. The other surprise was that the guns and MGs were set up out in the open where they had good fields of fire, rather than hidden in the cover of the woods. The woods close to the center of the picture on the Belgian side of the river and some woods just off to the right were flattened by the preparatory artillery barrage. The Belgian battalions deployed by them took a couple casualties but nothing severe, the Belgian MG by the woods escaped unscathed.

Trent's Forces made up the center and right of the German advance (center and left of the picture above). Gary's battalion hugged the west side of the table and the terrain places along there (the big mass of Feldgrau in the top right of the picture above).

Trent's forces surged forward and took a severe beating in the process. They eventually crossed the river. Two crossed by way of the bridge, the rest by crossing the river itself. They eventually pushed back and broke the Belgians defending the riverbanks. They later fought their way on to the Belgian second line of defense and pushed them back. Others exchanged fire with the British Sailors for a time, taking pressure off of Gary's ponderous advance up the left, before making their own way across the river to aid with the rest of their own brigades attack. The remnants of the Belgian second battalion and the German brigade then held their positions and exchanged small arms fire for the rest of the game. Of the 78 figures that made up the German Brigade Trent commanded only eight remained at the end of the game. The gallant Belgians sold themselves dearly indeed!

John's Support troops followed along behind Trent's advance up the center. The Field gun and MGs move very slowly and aren't the most useful things in the attack. The Cavalry followed up the infantry in the center to exploit any gains.
The cavalry followed some of the infantry across the bridge and charged down the belgian MG detachment up the center road but were mauled in the process and the survivors called it a day after. The MGs and Field guns eventually made it into positions on the river and hailed bullets and shells down on the Belgian second line of defense. One MG detachment even took out a Belgian field gun battery.

Gary's troops made a slow advance through the rough terrain up the western edge of the table. the took some fire from the Sailors, lost some men to the river and a large number to the Belgian artillery that were happily off of their original target. but they eventually made their way out of the woods, took out the RM MGs and the other Belgian Artillery battery and marched on a couple of (nearly) full strength battalions into the belgian town in close order columns. He probably lost about half of his original number in the process.

When the dust settled the Germans had taken both their objectives; the bridge AND the city. But it certainly cost them. John lost about half of his original four battalions strength, both MGs and both guns. The Germans lost close to three quarters of their infantry division (12 battalions of infantry plus the cavalry regiment).

We lunched at the Nutana Cafe. We had lunch there on the Sunday of the previous year's Hero's Gambit. I broke with "tradition" and didn't have the same thing I had last year.

We returned to find people sitting around my table eating their lunch, despite the dozens of empty tables around them. They apparently mistook my ground cloth as a table cloth?!

Hero’s Gambit 2006: Saturday Evening

Hero’s Gambit 2006 Game Reports

Part IV: Saturday Evening

After Supper at Szechuan Kitchen with CVT, John and Brenda, Darrin and Mike, I returned to the convention.

Next up was the I Ain't Been Shot, Mum game run by Gary Chappell. Also playing were John Burt, Tim Miller, and Trent from Regina. John and I played the Germans and Tim and Trent played the French. Unfortunately the last of my batteries died just as the game got under way so I have no pictures of the event.

The scenario was set in June of 1940 during the Blitzkrieg in the west. Our small German reconnaissance force had been looking for placed to cross a river and found an undefended ford. We had quickly crossed and set up a hasty defensive position and sent for reinforcements. The French realizing their oversight of that ford counterattacked quickly.

We had a platoon of infantry on the French side of the river. They were supported by a Pak 35, an HMG, an ATR, and a light mortar (50mm). Just opposite them on the other (German) side of the ford was a squad of pioneers hiding in some bushed with a flame thrower. In the bushes on the other side of the road was a second Pak 35 waiting in ambush.

The French attacked with 3 full platoons of infantry, two HMGs, a light mortar, five FT-17 tanks armed with MGs, a 75mm howitzer and a bit later a Char B lumbered up the road. It wasn't long before they over ran our positions on their side of the river. Just then some reinforcements arrived in the form of a Pzkw 35 and a Pzkw 38t. As the Char B rumbled up to the ford the pioneers lit it up with the flamethrower bailing out the crew. A squad of Frenchmen made one attempt at crossing the river but was thrown back by the pioneers. After that it more or less bogged down and I had to say, "I surrender" as it was 11pm and I had to get home and make some more preparations for the next days games....

Stay tuned for The Hero's Gambit Report Part V: Sunday Morning! 

Hero’s Gambit 2006: Saturday Afternoon

Hero’s Gambit 2006 Game Reports

Part III: Saturday Afternoon

After a quick wander down to Broadway to pick up some munchies I headed back to the convention to set up the next game.

Saturday Afternoon was the first of two Savage Worlds games that I ran. The Savage Worlds games were, by far, the best attended games I organized for he weekend. The one on Saturday afternoon was a Rippers: the Horror Wars, a skirmish game of Victorian horror. I had six participants! Jeff C., Jeff P., John Burt, CVT, Keith, and Darrin. Some played characters they use in my regular game others used ones I had on hand. Jeff C. brought along his own. Each player had a Wildcard Ripper and a unit of extras under their command. I played all the "bad guys".

Darrin played his regular character Dr. Albert Osbourne, a chemist of note and distiller of monster essences. He also had with him a unit of four "irregulars" (or “agents”, as I prefer to call them). Jeff P. had Lt. William Armstrong of the local Regiment and four Soldiers of the Queen under his command. Keith played Jock McGurn the famed Scottish monster hunter and four Highland Clansmen. John Burt played Sir Albert Plunkett, Gentleman Explorer and four Wolfenjagers, Chris played a holy man simply known as "the Choir Master" who brought along with him 8 choirboys. Jeff C. brought along an Explorer, whom I think was named Klaus, and four hired guns.

The Heroes were gathered from a number of Lodges, by some very important members of the Rippers organization, to go on a very important hunt. A large pack of werewolves had been terrorizing a small town in rural England for some time and this full moon that was to end. They were known to gather in a clearing just north of town. The hunters spread out around the area and at sundown and closed in to "tighten the noose". They were in for a little more that they originally bargained for. In the clearing, on the night of this full moon, there were more that just a pack of werewolves. A number of Cabal members had gathered there for a meeting.

In the clearing were all the monsters that I was running. They included a rather nasty Vampire; the Countess Mariana de Rouge and her four Cossack Guardsmen, a quartet of Nosferatu that she also brought along, Simon de Loupe a Werewolf (what's with all these Frenchy monsters in a rural English village...?), Four wolfmen, a pack of six wolves, Dr Jekyll, and an invisible man.

To start off, as the players moved in, I had them do group stealth rolls versus my monsters notice rolls whenever the monsters cards came up to see how close they could sneak up. By the middle of the second turn, however the "choirmaster" had charged out of the woods and tried to hack down one of the wolfmen with his sword, immediately thereafter the highland clansmen let off a volley from their flintlock pistols and all the sneaking about was through.

My first monster card to come up after that was the Werewolf; Simon de Loupe. Because I had too many cards to keep track of and I wanted to get things going I charged him into contact with the Highlanders... instead of baying at the moon which would be the normal thing for him to start off with (causes all opponents to make a spirit check or be shaken..!). The wolfmen attacked the choirmaster and his young apprentices. A couple of the Wolves went after Klaus and his hired guns but after a couple of them were shot down before they could even get there they joined the wolfmen in some easier game. The Nosferatu made for the woods between the choir and the highlanders hoping to make a break for it. Jekyll and the invisible man headed for some woods at the other end of the clearing hoping to make for town and escape. The countess turned into a cloud of mist and the Cossack guardsmen exchanged shots and advanced towards the soldiers.

The Agents attempted to come to the aid of the choirboys but bumped into the Nosferatu coming out of a stand of trees. The highlanders all ganged up on the Werewolf and took him down in a turn or two.

The Choirmaster is fighting a wolf, here, in the foreground. His Choirboys are being eaten by wolves and wolfmen behind him, further back is Dr. Albert Osbourne and his agents fighting the Nosferatu. Most of the figures are from Westwinds Vampire Wars line, Dr. Osbourne is from the Foundry's Old West English Gentlemen pack and the Choirmaster is an Essex (I think..?) ECW puritan preacher.

The Countess, realizing there was little danger to her from these hunters, and that she could get away quicker on foot than in mist form she turned back and followed her Cossack Guardsmen. Jekyll hid in a stand of trees as he saw the Wolfenjagers approaching from the town, but the invisible man pressed on. He attacked Sir Albert as they passed each other on the bridge. The Wolfenjagers quickly came to Sir Albert's aid and surrounded the invisible man, though still had difficulty landing a good blow (him being invisible and all!).

Sir Albert and the Wolfenjagers leave the town and are attacked by the invisible man on the bridge. Plunkett and Wolfenjagers are Westwind, the invisible man... well that's a Games Workshop LOTR figure "Frodo with ring", only $15.99... no I'm only kidding it's just an empty base…

The Cossacks and the soldiers mostly did each other in. The vampire rushed in and finished off the Lieutenant and the last of his men. Klaus and his hired guns were moving in that same direction and shot up the last of the Cossack guard.

Sir Albert left the Wolfenjagers to finish off (or at least keep busy) the invisible man, and after ducking the invisible mans free attack headed off for the copse of wood occupied by Dr. Jekyll.

The Choirmaster held his own against a group of wolves and wolfmen that surrounded him but he could not save his choirboys. The agents and Dr. Obsourne continued their fight with the Nosferatu. The Highlanders, moving through the woods, came to their aid.

Jock McGurn and the Highlanders charging through the woods to aid the agents. Agents are again Westwind, the Highlanders are Old Glory ECW Highlanders.

The Vampire, having finished off the soldiers charged into fight the hired guns quickly striking one of them down.

The Highlanders and Agents finished off the Nosferatu and moved on to rescue the last (of eight) choirboys that hadn't yet been devoured by wolves and wolfmen.

Sir Albert caught up with Dr. Jekyll (who after a dozen turns STILL hadn't been dealt a face card which would turn him into Hyde...!) and shot him down with his impaler. Jekyll soaked it, but then Sir Albert just chased him down and did him in with his sword.

The invisible man being wounded by now and unable to give anywhere near as good as he had gotten decided to give the wolfenjager the slip. Ducking four free attacks he made his way back across the bridge and down the country lane.

The Choirmaster, the Highlanders and Agents finished off the last of the wolfmen and wolves and made for the melee in the woods on the other end of the clearing between the vampire and the hired guns. Realizing the situation was quite hopeless the vampire turned into a mist again and floated up into the dark sky. Some swore they hear a groan on the wind that said "next tiiiiiiime......"

The survivors converge on the Countess Maria. The Countess in from the Foundry Swashbucklers line. The explorers/hired guns she is in battle with are the figures Jeff brought along with him and I'm pretty sure they are Foundry as well, the rest in the background I believe I've already mentioned. 

An overall view of the clearing in the woods and the town across the river and happy players at Hero's Gambit V. From Left to right; Keith, Darrin and Chris.

More happy players; the Jeffs.

Stay tuned for The Hero's Gambit Report Part IV: Saturday Evening! 

Hero's Gambit 2006: Saturday Morning

Hero's Gambit 2006 Game Reports

Part II: Saturday Morning

I stayed up until 3 am Saturday morning getting things ready for the Rippers game in the afternoon.... It was a little silly….

I Stumbled into the Convention around quarter to nine to find John already set up for his Ever Victorious Armies Napoleonic game.

Signed up for this were Gary, Joe and Myself. Gary took the French, Joe and I the Russians. We were given written orders, which I assume were more or less the same: Take and hold the crossroads in the center of the table. In are orders were also a note that unidentified Cavalry had been spotted to the south. Joe and I divided up our forces, each taking a brigade of Infantry and regiment of cavalry. I also took the battery of Guns and the ADC, Joe got the C-in-C.

Then John rolled for random weather. Mud.

Well now that EVERYTHING was bad going that quickly negated the usefulness of the Cavalry. Cavalry and Infantry in column or skirmish order would move 1d6" per turn. Infantry in line; 1d6-2". Guns could not move at all. We alternated deploying units. I wanted to hold off the gun for a bit to see where Gary was setting up the French, as the gun would not be moving once it was set up. I also wanted to hold off on the cavalry to see where his cavalry went. Even thought they would be going painfully slow they could still menace and infantry that they DID reach so I wanted to deploy my cavalry to block his. My infantry I decided to advance in columns as far as I could so I set up three in a column with one in skirmish order before it to screen them. Joe more or less did the same with his, though he did send one battalion off on his own around some woods on our right flank that Gary had set up one of his Cavalry units opposite. We hoped the column could get up to the road and form square before the cavalry got there effectively blocking that cavalry unit from getting round our flank as it was obviously hoping to do.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story... All of these figures are either Scruby 30mm figures or figures John has modeled and cast on his own. Most were painted by John, though I think a few of those fine looking Russian Infantry were painted by myself at one point. I must say this was by far the most attractive game at the convention. The stunningly beautiful figures and excellent lighting conditions in the morning meant I got a LOT of really great looking photos. It was hard to choose which ones to actually send and which ones not to clog your email boxes with...!

(remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

The French set up, center and right. On their left was another regiment of Cavalry.

An overall view of the field of battle. To the right and below in the picture are the Russians. Above and to the left of the picture are the French.

Both sides advancing towards the crossroads. In the foreground are the Russians.

Same thing from further back.

The big mess at the crossroads. The fellows in the foreground are Russians, again, commanded by myself. Eventually they were utterly destroyed, but sold themselves dearly. Combined with Joes Infantry Square destroying the cavalry on our right we did well in the center and right. Unfortunately the French Lancers and Cuirassiers had driven off our two initial regiments of cavalry (Hussars...maybe?) and the reinforcing Russian Cuirassiers that arrived on turn five much to the surprise of both sides. We held these crossroads, but not for very long.

My skirmishing battalion pushed forward from the carnage of the infantry battle at the crossroads while Joe's battalion moved on to the crossroads to consolidate and form squares. My skirmishers took the French guns but Joes infantry couldn't all get formed up in time and the French cavlary rode them down in slow motion in the mud.

My ADC that had been following the skirmishers for a lack of better things to do found himself rather close to the French ADC and C-in-C and so rode after them catching the French ADC. We fought out the skirmish as cavlary units of one fighting each other. The result was both units lost d6-2 casualties and so both died. We decided that what really happened was that they slapped each other with their gloves until they fell off their horses into the mud, then they called upon their valets/seconds to fetch the dueling pistols whereupon they shot each other dead at ten paces.

Hero’s Gambit 2006: Friday Night

Hero’s Gambit 2006 Game Reports

Part I: Friday Night

Here are some Reports from the Hero’s Gambit 2006 gaming convention that I came across while purging old emails not long ago. Originally they were sent out by email to friends, and anyone else I thought might be interested that I had an email address for, as I didn’t have this blog at the time. Now I have the blog, so I though I’d reprint them here for everyone else to enjoy.

First I'd like to thank John Bertolini and Gary Chappell for running the other two historical games over the weekend. They both put a lot of work into their events and were a lot of fun. Next I'd like to thank all the folks that played all the games I ran organized, without then it would have been a whole lot of not fun (especially John Burt and CVT who came all the way from Calgary and Edmonton, respectively, to play!)

Friday night we kicked things off with a Contemptible Little Armies: Back of Beyond game.

The scenario was set in Sinkiang (Northwest China) in 1920. In that year Cossack General Annenkov has crossed into China with a host of White Russians. Governor Yang Tseng-hsin realized he must deal with him quickly lest the carnage of the Russian Civil War spill over into his province… or the Russian General decided to carve out his own domain!

Historically Yang lured Annekov to Urumchi, the capitol of Sinkiang, for "talks". When the General arrived Yang imprisoned him and fed him opium until he didn't want to fight anyone anymore. Leaderless Annekov's troop were easily interned and the situation dissolved.

For our scenario we assumed that attempts at negotiations or luring the Russian General into a trap failed so Yang has to lead his troops to the border area where the Russians are camped and neutralize the threat by force.

Because I didnt have the hordes of Chinese that would be required to attempt an attack on a semi prepared enemy I also included in the force two battalions of British battalions as well as British machine-gun and armoured car detachments. This would have been rather unlikely, as the British, though traditionally concerned about Russian advances and gains in Central Asia, were at the time quite sympathetic to the Whites.

Gary, Tim, Jeff C and my dad, Rob (who I haven't played games with for the better part of two decades!?), joined in this game. Gary and my dad took the Russians, Tim the Chinese, and Jeff the British. The British and Chinese were essentially making a set piece prepared attack on the Russians who were holed up in a frontier town.

The Chinese force consisted of four battalions of infantry, one battalion of specialist assault troops (armed with Bergman SMGs), a regiment of regular cavalry, a machine-gun detachment, a heavy mortar battery, an executioner, and a surplus French Spad. The British consisted of 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (actually it might have been Royal Ulster Regiment by 1920...), 2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment (both regiments were stationed in India at the time..), a machine-gun detachment, and a Rolls-Royce Armoured Car Detachment.

The Russians had a large host of Cossack Cavalry (borrowed from John Bertolini), a machine-gun detachment, and four battalions of infantry.

There was also a pile of Basmachi Muslim Guerillas sitting on the slopes of a mountain off to one side waiting to wee what would happen. Once one side lost a unit they would join the opposite side!

The Russians deployed their MGs in the town along with one of their infantry battalions. One of the other battalions of infantry was deployed in a single extended line to the south-west of town by the mountain with the Basmachis. The other two Russian infantry battalions were deployed in lines on the other side of town, one in front of the other. The Cossack Cavalry started on the north side of the mountain, in reserve, to wait and see how things developed. General Annekov was attached to the Cossack Cavalry.

(remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version...maybe...)

Gary (left) and my Dad (right) and the initial Russian deployments.

Worms eye view of the Russians to the east of town. In the background are the Russians to the south west of the town, the town itself occupied by the Russians, and the Basmachis on the mountain west of town. All of the Russian infantry figures are made by John Bertolini with the exception of the officers which are Coppelstone Castings (all were painted by myself). The "Basmachis" are old Minifigs Dervishes.

The two British Battalions were on the right flank of the Chinese/British attack. On the left were two battalions of Chinese in close order assault columns. In the center were the rest; two more Chinese battalions in more open order and the close assault infantry between them, all the MGs, the mortars, and the armoured cars were more or less dead center as well; the cavalry was off to the left of center.

The mortar made a few shots off the start and killed everything that was in range (not very much...) and then sat out the rest of the game, being immobile. The cavalry and the close order infantry surged forward.

The Chinese advancing, led by Governor Yang himself! Yang is the Chinese Warlord figure from Coppelstone Castings. The Chinese infantry and cavalrymen were made by myself, though the horses they're riding on are from Hinchliffe.

More of the Chinese advancing. The White Russian officer/advisor leading this particular unit (from beyond!?) is from Coppelstone casting as is the armoured car in the back ground, the Chinese again are my own models/castings.

The Cossacks reacted to the close order infantry, who were obviously trying to sneak around the backside of the mountain, and set off to head them off at the pass.

General Annekov and the Cossack Cavalrymen in the rough ground of the pass about to be attacked by the lead battalion of Chinese. The Chinese Infantrymen, again are by myself, though the officer is Coppelstone. The Russians are all modeled, cast and painted by John Bertolini, the horses are either Scruby or Eagle Games plastic ones, I can’t remember..

The Chinese cavalry set the Russian Infantry battalion to the south west of the town to flight and pursued them to the edge of town where they finally rode then down.

The Chinese cavalry charge!

Chinese cavalry attacking the Russians. Their officer, the one in the back that doesn't have his arm raised, is from Coppelstone Castings, the rest are my own (on the Hinchliffe horses..)

Things were looking very bad for the Russians at this point and I thought it was going to be a very short game indeed. When the Chinese close assault columns caught the Cossack cavalry in the rough ground of the pass I thought it was all over.

The Russians defending the town mauled the already somewhat depleted Chinese cavalry and then set about blowing apart the other two Chinese infantry battalions that were now coming within range of the Russian HMGs. Things looked a bit less certain. The Cossacks threw back the Chinese infantry in the pass and followed them up.

The Spad showed up and flew over the advancing Chinese without attacking any of them and strafed the two Russian battalions east of town causing a few casualties in each. It then circled around and made an attack on the town itself before running low on fuel and flying off.

My Dad, The Spad (Airfix), and other things. In the foreground are Coppelstone Chinese Assault troops. On the right in the background are the British, more of my own models/castings, to the left are more of my Chinese and beyond them are John's Russians.

There was a bit of back and forth for a bit as the remaining Chinese assault troops and the Glosters attacked one of the Russian infantry battalions to the east of town. Casualties were taken on both sides and the melee continued another round. The now combined attack of two Chinese close order battalions threw the Cossacks back into the rough ground of the pass.

Then things started to go downhill for the Russians again. The first Russian Battalion to the east of town was finally routed from the melee. The Ulster Irish had climbed a low rocky mound and started firing upon the second Russian battalion on the left. The Russians could not reply as the Irish, being "marksmen", had a much greater effective range, and the Irish started to inflict severe losses. Though the Russian MGs in the town fired upon the Irish to some effect it wasn't nearly enough to relieve the pressure.

On the other side of the table the Chinese did not pursue the Cossacks into the pass but rather held and shot them up as they scrambled to get out of the bad going. A pair of Cossacks made it out of the bad going and galloped off around the mountain back towards the town. The rest were cut down in the pass, causing the two galloping escapees to route. Annekov alone was not killed in this slaughter. The Chinese surged forward again overtaking the general and capturing him.

General Annekov Captured!

The Chinese MG had also finally made it to a position in range of the town and set up next to the parked Rolls-Royce which had already been firing into the town, inflicting losses on the Russians still holed up in there. The Basmachis on the hill even got into action sniping some Russians in the town.

I can't remember if the second Russian battalion to the left broke before we called it a night... but whatever the case it was a pretty clear Chinese victory. The remaining Russians in the town would have soon found themselves leaderless and surrounded by Chinese and British. The only sensible option would be surrender and internment. Perhaps some would find freedom from the internment camp in the form of recruitment as mercenaries into other Chinese Warlords armies.

Well that was Friday night. Stay tuned for The Hero's Gambit Report Part II: Saturday Morning

Friday, April 13, 2007

Vimy Playtest #2

Gary and I did another play-test tonight to try out a couple tweaks and new ideas we had. As there was just the two of us we just played on the southern half of the table - the action between the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade and the 261st Reserve Infantry Regiment. (you can see Play-test #1 HERE )

Some of the changes included:

Less Germans in the forward trenches. German forward trenches were lightly defended and served to funnel an attack into the second line with the nasty concrete pillboxes, wire, etc. The battalion defending the front line had only 8 figures, the battalion holding the second line had 12. Hopefully this would mean the front line would be relatively easy to push through, the second a bit harder. Dropping the number in the second line trench to twelve makes them a bit more brittle as they would have a test for morale failure for every two figures killed the first time they take casualties rather than every three (as they would with 13+ figures…)

I moved the MG-bunkers/pill-boxes and had one less. I removed the two pill-boxes from the front line – as, generally, the Germans didn’t have pill-boxes as part of their front line defenses. Also this (along with the reduced number of troops in the forward trench) would make the players think a bit more about whether to use mines or not. I added one MG pill-box to the second line of defense in the center of the table to menace both battalions.

I tried using trench mortars. I won’t use them again in this scenario – they didn’t really add that much to the game other than headaches and another step or two to remember.

There might have been some other changes… but I can’t remember hem right now. It’s a bit late.

Here are some pictures of the action
(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Not really an action shot. In the last couple days since the last playtest I made some “krump markers” like my friend Curt in Regina has! This is the beginning of them…

Canucks file into the forward trenches and await Zero Hour.

More of the same.


The German defenses.

Turn One. The barrage begins (marked out by my new “krump markers” rather than some bent up old coat-hangers!) and the Canadians advance up the hill. In the immediate foreground are the men of the 87th Battalion (the Canadian Grenadier Guards). They will lose half their number one this first turn due to their commanding officer requesting that they attillery not hit the german forward trenches on his section of the front!

The 102nd advanced to far into the barrage and lost one of their own men to it. They had some hard fighting against the Germans in the forward trench despite the lighter number of defenders. The 54th advanced quick on their heels and had to wait often as the 102nd stumbled and were held up by close combats.

The 102nd still battling it out in the German forward trench.

Final positions. The remains of the 85th Battalion – the Nova Scotia Higlanders. They are at the third trench line but face a full German reserve battalion that made into the trenches and through the barrage unscathed!

The German reserve battalion in the third trench line. At the top right you can see the remaing two figures from the 75th Battalion. In the top center is Hill 145 behind which you can just make out the bayonets of the 54th Battalion.

Here’s the other side of that hill. The remains of the 54th and 102nd (one is from the 102nd, the other four are the remains of the 54th).

If I hadn’t been so tired it might have been interesting to try play out the Germans counter attack on the hill.

Using the victory points scheme I laid out in a previous post the 87th/75th would have netted a single point (took two trenches, lost one battalion) for a draw. The 102nd/54th would have gained two points (two trenches, no battalions lost – though one was down to the strength of a single platoon – one figure!). However they did take Hill 145 – removed the bunker and two mortar batteries from it – but then retired to the second line trench just to the west of it. Still I guess that would count as having been last in possession of it and they were still nearer to it than any Germans. So, assuming the 12th brigade had been equally successful – with the bonus four points for taking the hill it would have amounted to a major victory for the Division as a whole.

I think I might leave the toys out where they are and play out that counter-attack tomorrow night, just to see it the depleted Canadians could hold their tenuous positions against a full German battalion. We shall see.

Thanks again to Gary who is always full of useful suggestions and insight - and just plain fun to play with!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Victory at Vimy

Here are the victory points/conditions for Vimy scenario:

Per battalion/player frontage (of which there are four):

+1 for each (of three) trench-line held (or most recently occupied) at the end of the game.
+1 for exiting a Canadian Battalion off the German table edge.
-1 for each battalion wiped out (i.e. removed from table due to losses and or failed morale).
-1 if counter-attacking Germans take the Canadian forward trenches

For the Division
+4 if Hill 145 is held at the end of the game.

Individual / Divisional / Result
-2 or less / -8 or less / Staggering Defeat
-1 / -4 to -7 / Major Defeat
0 / 0 to -3 / Minor Defeat
1 / 1 to 4 / Draw
2 / 5 to 8 / Minor Victory
3 / 9 to 12 / Major Victory
4 / 13+ / Stunning Victory (VCs all around!)

so for last night's play test…

On the 102nd/54th frontage, no trenches were taken and the 102nd and 85th (which was later commited there) were both wiped out (the remains of the 54th had retired to the Canadian forward trenches). This would total -2 points (0 for trenches, -2 for losses) and mean a major defeat on that frontage.

Moving North, the 87th made it to it’s black line objective, the 75th tried to press on through but were halted by the German reserve battalion’s counter-attack. Two trenches taken and no battalions lost netted two points (2 for trenches, 0 for losses); a Minor victory on that frontage.

On the 38th/78th frontage the remains of the 78th made it all the way to the third trench. Though both battalions had less than half their original fighting strength left neither were lost so a total of three points (3 for trenches, 0 for losses) were gained here; a Major Victory for this front.

Finally, the Highlanders; the 73rd and 72nd. The 73rd were wiped out before they could realize their objective. The Seaforths, however, pressed the attack and made it to the third trench-line. A total of two points (3 for trenches, -1 for losses); another Minor victory.

Totaling the points of the various battalions (-2+2+3+2 – and no points for holding Hill 145), the Division’s total score was 5. A (very) minor victory.

Had we played a few more turns.... the 75th had the German reseve battalion on the run and could have easily taken the third line, and/or swept along the second trench line and cleared the germans out of there (as they had two morale failures - all he had to do was contact them and they would leave/surrender).

We shall try it again with some tweaks and see how it turns out....

Monday, April 9, 2007

Vimy Playtest

It's really late but I wanted to get a couple pics and a quick report up tonight....

I had a playtest of the vimy scenario this evening on the 90th anniversary of the battle. John, Gary, and my Dad showed up to help out with the game. It was very useful in helping me sort out a lot of things I wasn't sure about. I was overcome over the weekend while working on the terrain that it might end up being a terribly boring game - either a quick cake walk for the canucks and over in an hour, or a wholesale slaughter with the canucks unable to even make it to the german line across the entier front.

Having had a month or so since the last playtest I had a lot of time to think about how to work out a lot of the things that hadn't quite worked out as I had hoped - in particular the creeping barrage -and I think I have that sorted out just fine.

The terrain still needs a bit of work but I'm feeling pretty darn confident about how things are shaping up.

Anyway here are some pics (as always, click on the pic for a bigger version..).

John and Gary each took a Brigade of Canadians and I played the Germans (my Dad said he would just watch and maybe play the 85th Battalion when it came into play). Here they are moving up their troops just after the mines were blown and the artillery barrage creeps over the german frontline.

Gary was on the Canadian right playing the 11th Canadian Infatntry Brigade, John on the Left with the 12th.

To the right of this pic in is the second german line opposite John's 12th Brigade. They are occupied by a battalion of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. The paper circles are the craters left behind after they detonated the mines they placed (I'll make something better by Mayday...). The German battalion holding the frontline was almost entirely wiped out by the three mines john placed on his front. The artillery barrage tooka couple and then the mad jocks of the 73rd Battalion C.E.F. (Royal Highland Regiment) charged INTO the creeping barrage (and lost one of their figures in it!) and assaulted the remaining Germans in their trenches perhaps killing another.... the sum total of this sudden violence saw the remaing two Germans in the battalion fail a third morale checks on the first turn and leave the board! (visions of a quick, boring canadian cakewalk flashed through my mind...)

Canadians surge forward.

At the south end of the table the 54th Battalions (Kootenays) attack the German front line after the 102nd (North B.C.) was wiped out in their attempt! This battalion of Germans from the 261st Reserve Infantry Regiment were tough bastards! Or rather I should say these four remaining figures of said battlaion... They threw back the 102nd - wiped out to the last man. Then forced the Kootenays to retire with two morale falure markers. Finally, then wiped out the 85th who had been commited to this section of the front after the 102nd met it's doom. As the Nova Scotians fled with two morale failure tokens the Germans shot another in the back causing another morale check that sent the rest to flight! At the end of the game these boys still held the german front line in this section!

The creeping barage creeps forward. The templates are bent wire coathangers. I hpe to come up with something better for Mayday. maybe thread some cotton balls onto the wire and dye them black or something.

At the extreme north end of the line the R.H.R. prepare to take the second trench line. These were another bunch of tough bavarian bastards. They wiped out the Black Watch and exacted a hefty tole on the Seaforths following along behind before they gave up the trench!

A view of the battlefield from the north end of the table. One of my reserve battalions has just arrived to begin their counter-attack. They can be seen at the left of the picture.

Another pic of the 12th Brigade attacking the Germans second trench.

At the top left is Hill 145 and the reserve battalion from the 261st Regiment is making it's counter-attack against Gary's 7th Battalion (Missisauga) that were just about to pass through the 87th (Grenadier Guards) who had just taken their black line objective - the German second trench.

Nearing the end. The remaingi four figures of the 38th (Ottawa) have taken their black line objective and are holding it (and tossing bombs at the german MG-bunker in the third trench. The 78th (Winnipeg Grenadiers) are skirting around to their right to out flank said MG-bunker that shot up 8 of their original 13!

The pink foam strips int he trenches were my temporary rubble markers to indicate trenches that were wiped out by the creeping barrage - better ones WILL be made before mayday...

there's those lads from the 38th again... althought that looks rather like a blue square over the green rectangle -which was the tactical sign of the Winnipeggers... hmmm... someone got mixed up...

Well the game was played pretty much to a satisfactory conlusion in around three hours - I think extra players might slow it down a tad - but that three hours also included fairly regular, and at times lengthy, stops to discuss possible changes to rules and scenarios, etc.

In the end the The 12th Brigade had taken their black line objective (the second trench line). The 73rd (R.H.R.) had been wiped out and the other three battalions were down to about four figures each (of their original 13). The Winipeg Grenadiers pressed on to the third trenchline and were counter attacked by the remains of the the 11th Regiments reserve battalion - which had been caught out in the open by the creeping barrage. The Winnipeggers threw them back with two morale failure tokens. No one made their Red Line objective (the opposing base of the ridge), though there really wasn't anything opposing them when we called it quits, both of the forward Germans battalions had been wiped out and the reserve battalion was reduced to about five figures with two morale failure tokens and they were cowering in a communications trench behind the third line....

On the 10th Brigades front. The Grenadier Guards had taken their Black Line objective, but were reduced to about four figures. The 102nd, 54th, and 85th to their right, however, failed to even take the German frontline. At the end of the game there was still Germans sitting in their frontline trench taking pot shots at the remains of the 54th that had fallen back to their starting trenches, with only one morale failure. The other two German battalions (the second line and reserve battalions) were still on the table, but in bad shape. Both were reduced to two or three figures and both had two morale failure tokens. The 75th were stil in not bad shape, had maybe half their original number but no morale failure tokens...

I had worked out a number of victory conditions and associated points along with a scale to measure the Canadians degree of success or failure. I can't seem to find it right now and am a bit to tired to remember how it went. I'll try and find it tomorrow and figure out how it came out according to my points-scale.

It was a fun game in the end with a lot of give and take. I think I'll run another playtest, or two, before the con just to work out a couple small bugs, get some practice running it, and just to see if any other wierd situations arrise.

Thanks to Gary, John, and my Dad for helping out with the playtest!