Friday, February 27, 2015

Panzer Leader in Miniature!

Having played a web-sourced version of Panzerblitz in miniature I thought I'd try out my own version which was easy enough.  It plays exactly like the board game because I used the board game rules and 3" "sabots" that were originally made for Volley & Bayonet.

This game pitted a Canadian task force of 5 infantry platoons, a platoon of Sherman tanks, and a Platoon of "SPGs" (that's for you, Paul F) against a German reinforced company of 3 platoons, a split up weapons platoon, a Panther platoon, and of course heavy artillery in the form of 2 Wespe 105mm platoons.  Unrealistic?  Perhaps but I wanted to use the models naturally.

Instead of looking things up on the tables, I simply plopped the unit chit down on the base.  This (to me, anyways) had a visually appealing aspect to it.  So all you guys who want to play SQUAD LEADER in miniature and are afraid of cluttering the table, consider big "sabot" bases to throw your miniatures on.  You can affix the unit chits right to the base as it's convenient and it "looks cool."

Canadians attacking into German positions.  No rulers were necessary this battle as I used the area of 1 sabot as 1 unit of measurement.  So an infantry platoon moves 1 base worth of movement per turn.  An average armor unit would move 8 or 9 base widths per turn.
 The M10 didn't fare well the entire game with it firing on the Panther platoon in the first turn and not making much headway after that.  The Panther pretty much kept him "disorganized" the entire game until a good roll knocked him out completely.  Anyways back to the action!

The Canadians are charged with seizing this fortified German position.  They have no artillery and no air support and HQs has decreed that this attack will go "right up the middle."

German Artillery Battery providing deadly fire support.  These are my "Game Model" Wespes and are the only ones who survived a paint job using spray paints.
 The infantry on foot make slow progress and the tanks of course move up to the forward edge of the battle area to engage targets.  It's a bad move as the town area and farm is crawling with Germans and of course observers for the big guns to the rear.

One problem is handling stacks.  Not easy when your sabots are 3" on each side!  So I improvised and if the bases are touching, it's considered a stack.  Here 2 German infantry units await the Canadian assault!

Panther in the tree line!  Representing a platoon of Panthers, this PSC model has only received his basecoat.  

Canadian infantry move out!

Sherman quickly moves up to fire at Gerry

German artillery fires on an exposed Canadian platoon on the end of the line caught in the open and cause such horrendous casualties that it's curtains for these guys.
Still need some Artillery impact markers.  These are vehicle smoke markers but you get the idea.  This unit is catching hell!

M10 "double dispersed!"  That's trouble.  He would remain at the start line, practically pinned by a Panther platoon at maximum range!

Sherman unit approaches the town area.  The following turn the Germans move a unit up to the road for an eventual Close Assault against the armor platoon.  The Sherman fires at them, causing a dispersal.
 The Canadians, having moved their armor up without the infantry close behind are starting to fend off German infantry.  Unfortunately for them, spotters in the town call in 80 barrage points worth of heavy artillery on them.  Even though it's rounded down, the ratio all but guarantees a kill against our stalwart Canadian attackers, unless Gerry rolls a "6" (+1 for being in the woods) which he doesn't.

Some Canadian troops pinned by mortar fire from the town as the rest of the Company advances!

Meanwhile the remnants of the Sherman unit burn.

Gerry crosses the road to flank the attackers and the infantry battle is getting ready to heat up!
 Following the untimely demise of the Sherman platoon, the Canadians reach the edge of the crop-field and begin to take up firing positions to attack the dug in German company.  Meanwhile, the Germans send a platoon along with the heavy weapons section (HMG/MMG) to flank the Canadians.  The cornfield will become a killing field unless they can advance out of there!

meanwhile the TD/SPG burns!
Fun game.  I have always loved the Panzerblitz, Panzerleader and Arab-Israeli Wars board games and this one was especially fun.  I think I am going to try actually playing out the scenarios that accompany the board games and see how they go.

Tune in this weekend to see if our intrepid Canadians can carry the position against all odds!  The infantry action is heating up on Sound Officers Call!

If you happen to be a micro armor person, this game might be even more appealing to you, as you can put 2 - 4 tanks on a base and have an actual platoon.  As for me, big 3" sabots work perfectly fine as I'm using 15mm stuff.  Here are some painful lessons I've relearned about Panzerleader:

  • Tank on Tank fire doesn't lose its potency at long range (as the M10 unit found out...).
  • Any unit can spot for Artillery.
  • Consider using 1 Artillery Battery (or 1 stand of artillery) for each Battalion's worth of troops you have.  It's not fun when the artillery can wax any unit on the board at any given time simply because they're stacked together.
  • Always shoot everything you can shoot, every turn.  THe German mortars were keeping a Canadian platoon out of the fight, simply by lobbing shells at them.  It's a no-brainer.
  • Use covered and concealed routes as much as you can.  If you can be seen, you can be hit!

In the future, I really want to play the scenarios in the box, as well as some modern stuff as it's all out there on the internet.  Just go to trusty google and google "modern panzerblitz unit values" and it should take you to Dan Fraser's excellent and well researched modern panzerblitz unit values.

Anyways that's all for now.  Short but fun game.  Let me know your thoughts - especially you "die hard" board wargamers!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Guilty Conscience...

A good conversation with the illustrious Comrade Davidov the other evening and lots of talk about Napoleonic troop basing.  David is like my gaming psychiatrist and helps me get to the root cause of my painting woes, scale complaints and project mayhem.

We were talking about my recent Black Powder ACW game and it brought up basing standards and aesthetics.  Eventually the subject of Napoleonic and SYW basing came up and I lamented the fact that my battalions are probably better off with 6 to a stand.

At the time of our conversation, I firmly rejected this nomenclature, having put enough work into basing and rebasing these blasted 15mm guys.  Until this morning...  Suffering from a guilty conscience, I set to work with yet another Horse & Musket rebasing project.

 I started ripping old troopers off their 4 man bases and making new 6 troop bases.  You can see the finished product.  I do like the look of 5 or 6 stand units however, and will most likely paint up an additional stand to go with each of these battalions.  That will give me battalions of 30 figures, and they look much more densely packed, which is what Napoleonics ought to look like...

Foreign Battalion waits to be based.
 Working on the coffee table as it's too cold in the basement.  Need to build a fire I think.

Southern Living gets a makeover...I hope the Mrs wasn't too keen on reading this one.  Jennifer Garner has a glue and flock problem now...

A comparison.  Some French Army units in Bicornes on the left.  On the right - the new battalions of the Grande Armee.

So what do you think?  A welcome and necessary change?  Yes, and more work for me!  Truth be told, 6 more troops per unit won't hurt anyone.  David was right (as usual).  I just don't have enough figures actually painted to do what I want.  Time to get cracking!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What I'm Playing These Days (or planning to play!)

I thought I would make a product that showed what I've played, what I enjoy playing, and what I still need to play.

Also I thought I would put my wargame ideas on paper so to speak.  Have I missed anything???

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Old School Horse & Musket Rules (Down & Dirty)

  I have been reading Charles Grant's "The Wargame" recently and thinking about "old school" rules once again.  I can remember lining up hundreds of HaT, Accurate, and BMC 54mm PLastic AWI guys on my dining room table and having grand fictitious AWI fights.  (the finely sculpted Accurate 1/32mm plastics were always Guards....  Because they looked the coolest.  My favorite was the officer with the saber pointed straight out at the enemy.)

Anyways, in that spirit I wrote down some thoughts on "Old School" wargaming rules for Horse & Musket battles with toy soldiers and wanted to put them out there for everyone to comment on (or even try if you dare!)

Play sequence is "similar" to Grant's:

  1. Initiative
  2. Movement (alternate formations EG I move a unit, you move a unit)
  3. Artillery Fire (apply casualties at end of artillery phase)
  4. Stationary Fire (apply casualties at end of Stationary Fire Phase)
  5. Moving Fire (apply casualties at end of Moving Fire Phase)
  6. Morale
  7. Melee Combat

Line units move and not fire 12 units of measurement. Line units who will fire move 8.  Attack columns move 12. Artillery may move 6, foot limbered may move 12.  All cavalry move 20.

Inches for troops larger than 15mm.  Centimeters for 15mm and below.  If you're using blocks of 10mm or 6mm troops, consider making hits by base instead of by figure.  Just say each base fires with 2 D6 and takes 4 hits.

Unit sizes are 16 troops, including figures representing officers, musicians, etc (unit representing a most likely an 18th or early 19th century battalion or ACW sized Regiment)

Shoot groups of 2 figures.  So a full strength battalion gets 8D6 (8 six sided dice).  Game uses opposed shooting rolls.  So firer shoots his fire dice.  For every hit, the unit being fired upon rolls its morale dice to see how it stands the fire.

EG: Austrian foot at normal morale (4 stands of 4 troops each) rolls 8 dice.  Normal morale hits on 4+.  He rolls 1,1,2,3,4,4,5,6.  Every die that is "4" or higher scores a hit.  The Austrian unit scores 4 hits.  The Prussian unit he fires at is currently also at Normal morale.  He rolls 4 dice (1 for each hit) and rolls 2,3,4,5, canceling out 2 hits from the Austrian player.  THe Prussian player takes 2 total hits to his battalion.  The Prussian player places a small die with the "2" showing behind the left-most stand.

Morale Levels are Normal, Disorganized, Shaken.  For every 4 hits, you reduce your morale level by 1:    

4 stands full strength.  3 stands Disorganized. 2 stands Shaken.  Units reduced to 4 figures or 1 stand are removed.

For Shooting and Morale:
Normal Morale GREEN Dice hit on 4+ /  Save on 4+
Disorganized Morale YELLOW Dice hit on 5+ / Save on 5+
Shaken Morale RED Dice hit on 6 / Save on 6

ALTERNATE MORALE SAVE DICE OPTIONS (roll number or higher on 1D6)
MORALE Dice for Opposing Fire
Elite 3+
Regular 4+
Second Rate 5+
Hastily Trained Conscript / Mil. 6

UNits must take a morale check after losing a stand, prior to melee, and receiving a charge.  Must roll your morale level or better on 1D6.

Line up Battalions and roll as per shooting.  Winner must beat loser by 2 casualties.  (Prussian scores 4 hits, Austrian scores 2 - Prussian is the winner.)

Melee Sequence:

Moving player announces Charge and makes pre charge morale check.
Moving player moves unit in.  Player to receive charge makes morale check.  must pass or retreat full move distance.
If Morale check passed, player receiving charge may fire if he has not previously moved or if he has not moved over 8 (the maximum move distance allowed to fire in a turn).
Join units.  Resolve dice rolls during Melee Phase.
Melee Phase roll 1D6 for every figure in unit, striving to meet or exceed the Shooting/Morale number.  (Normal Morale 4+, Disorganized Morale 5+, Shaken Morale 6).  Both sides make Morale Save Dice throws.
Remove Casualties or use marker dice if troops are on bases.
Winner is the side who scored 2 more hits than opponent.

So that's it.  I've been having a difficult time with figuring out what scale to play this at.  I'm thinking of 1/72, individually based troops to give it that "toy soldier feel" that I got out of playing on my dining room table.  Not to mention the fact that individually based 1/72 guys can be used for skirmish games as well.  So maybe that decision has already been made!  

Thoughts?  Feedback?  There was alot of influence from Grant's The Wargame in that i thought his sequence of play was just brilliant.  Also, many games try to impart negative modifiers from the consequences of bad morale onto die rolls, morale checks etc.  I like the concept in "All The King's Men" rules where your To Hit and Melee dice are based on attrition (granted, in those games you can recover your morale level.  In these rules, you have 4 hits before losing a level - but in this game the level cannot be gained back during the game.)  Thus the morale results are built into the game and you don't have to worry about extra modifiers.  In this way, the game can accept large numbers of Battalions in a big fight without too much book keeping.

The book keeping will mostly occur during shooting  in each phase.  Since shooting is simultaneous per phase, you'll have to track casualties incurred this phase, then apply those casualties at the end of the phase.  It's a slight annoyance but it might not detract from the flow of the game.

I like the melee rules in that you get "buckets of dice" which I'm particularly fond of growing up on Epic Space Marine and the like.

Leave comments and let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Gettysburg Day 2: The Peach Orchard Battle Part II ENDGAME

I finally was able to game the last few rounds of the Gettysburg Peach Orchard battle.  After a few rounds of consolidation, the Rebels were able to overcome the Union resistance on the Wentz farm.

True to history, it was bullets and not bayonets that won the day....

Union counterattacks on the Wentz Farm beat back a hardened Mississippi Regiment.
 Barksdale's remaining forces along with Kershaw's valuable reinforcements came on strong and the Wentz farm became a Union strongpoint bristling with cannon and troops.

The rebs would be forced back from the gunfire and eventually would evaporate with the stragglers staggering back to Seminary Ridge...
 The southern troops paused to lick their wounds and remove casualties/hits while the union troops maneuvered themselves to face a renewed assault from the Peach Orchard across the Wheatfield road.  It now appeared that the main Southern assault would come from the Peach Orchard and not Seminary Ridge.

Meanwhile, once of Kershaw's South Carolinian Regiments makes its way up to the Stone Wall to take on elements of the Excelsior Brigade.  They would trade fire for many turns while the Confederates rallied regiments in preparation for the final assault.

The Rally Order turned out to be invaluable.

The Division Commander uses the "Follow Me" order to emplace some much-needed guns.  Their performance throughout the battle was sub-par, prompting a gentlemanly rebuke from General Lee...

Meanwhile, Barksdale cannot stop waving his hat in the air.

A dire situation...shaken and disordered Union regiment.

Buying some valuable time, the Union troops push back one of Barksdale's regiments.
 On the union right, a southern Regiment is annihilated after a firefight in another orchard.

A single casualty marker marks the final resting place for yet another southern Regiment - but they keep coming!

Barksdale and Kershaw's troops after a quick reorganization mass for an assault on the Wentz Farm!  

These Union troops would eventually run for it.

Union artillery and long-range musket fire finally forces one of Kershaw's Regiments to skedaddle...

Union troops backed into a corner.

Rebel reinforcements!  A regiment originally shaken has rallied itself and arrived under the watchful eye of the Division commander.
 3 "fresh" Rebel units manuever for the final assault on the Yankee positions but instead of charging, they move in for better firing - with some enfilading fire on the retro-grading Yankees.

The Yanks have the final say with a round of desultory fire which fails to cause any additional casualties.  All Union regiments are at 3 hits and disordered and they cannot move this turn.  They beat a hasty retreat and the battle of Gettysburg is over for these fellows.


I enjoyed this game.  In Black Powder terms, it was relatively small but still used every available trooper I had.  Moving the larger formations is always tricky and stretches your Brigade commanders but I finally realized why it's good to have a Division Commander or other command element on the table.  Barksdale's commander was able to rally A crucial regiment and move some batteries at a critical time of the battle, and this fight may have gone differently had the command not been actively engagement trying to control the troops and move in reinforcements.

For Black Powder battles, I'd like to play my favorite AWI battle, the battle of Hubbardton, Vermont set during the Saratoga campaign.  I've played it once before using the excellent "Guns of Liberty" rules.  This time, I'd like to play it with Black Powder and see how it turns out.  The battle is a rear-guard action and full of colorful units, mixed irregular units, as well as line units.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gettysburg Day 2: The Peach Orchard Battle Part I

Here and there I've been playing a round or two at a time of my Peach Orchard scenario for Black Powder with some interesting observations and some unusual turns of events. (to me, that's NOT a good thing).

The Mississippians approach the 68th PA and trade shots.  As what actually occurred, the 68th got the worst of it...

During the actual battle, Barksdale's Mississippians charged with such fury, they cut through almost every Regiment they came into contact with.  This game had some different twists.  In order to give them the proper amount of "gusto," I gave them the "ferocious charge" special rule and any Regiment they charged had to pass a break test prior to even delivering closing fire.

The middle regiment would get mauled by Union artillery fire.
 The attack stepped off OK enough, with 1 Regiment out of contact on the Confederate right.  They had to roll a different order with negative modifiers, but still with Barksdale's "9" staff rating, they managed to keep up.

Rebels reach the Emmittsburg road.

Barksdale with dark hair...(I actually have a 15mm figure of him - just haven't painted it yet)
 The rebels upon reaching the road halted and began a fierce firefight with the yankees.  I actually ran out of casualty markers things got so ugly.

The yellow die indicates a disordered unit.

The 68th PA on the left reaches its casualty breakpoint of 3 hits and Barksdale's men are starting to take casualties now.  Time to charge!
 The obstacle of the fence along the Emmittsburg road presented something of a challenge, costing half movement to cross over.  Lucky for the Confederates, they rolled well and were able to cross, advance, then charge right into the blue-belly ranks.

Good rolling also ensures Kershaw's left-most Regiments show up in the nick of time.
 Kershaw's South Carolinians arrive on the field in time to maul De Trobiand's lone Michigan regiment guarding the left flank of the Peach Orchard.  I ran out of infantry so I had to use cavalry dismounts to model them!

Kershaw's men trading fierce fire with the yankees in the Peach Orchard.

Almost all Yankee units have some casualties by now, except for the Zuove unit in the center, who miraculously have not taken any hits.
 The Rebel charge goes in, with all Yankee units taking their break test in terror of Barksdale's howling banshees.  The right-most PA Regiment (already at their 3 hits/casualties, and disordered) evaporates after rolling a "3" and the Rebels march right through their position.  This forces a reserve Regiment to wheel around, refusing the brigade's right flank.

The PA Regiment shown here would evaporate following their break test.

The Zuoves in the center hold firm and fight.  The Rebel Regiment was pushed back - an a-historical result!
 The Rebel assault against the Peach Orchard is successful and the 68th Pennsylvania melts away into history.  The Peach Orchard itself, save for a lone Michigan Regiment will be in Rebel hands by turn's end.  The Wentz property, however, is still a formidable position held by III Corps.

Meanwhile, in the Peach Orchard, the Rebels smash into the 68th PA, who evaporate from the assault.

Kershaw's Regiments in the lower left of the picture, currently "mopping up" will eventually be forced to make a supporting attack across the Wheatfield road into a hornets nest of yankee troopers.
 So while the Peach Orchard attack goes in successfully, only half of Barksdale's men are successful in securing a toe-hold on the Wentz property and have now lost 1 Regiment in the attack.  The yanks refuse a flank and have more reserve units to throw in if necessary, including a 3" Battery.  Meade would be furious!

Union flank refused.  During the actual battle, Barksdale's men wheeled in the opposite direction.  In this battle, they will wheel to their right in order to crush resistance here.

Kershaw's men move in for the kill.  You can see behind them, the rebels have occupied the Peach Orchard and are preparing to wheel left themselves to engage the Union troops on the Wentz property.

Still a tough nut to crack!  3 Union Regiments, with 2 of them uncommitted.
 So the fight for the actual Peach Orchard is over and the fight to push out Graham's Pennsylvania Brigade is on.  With 2 Artillery Batteries in position, and 2 fresh Regiments, it's going to be an even tougher time for the rebels to push them out.  This is Civil War combat at its most brutal!

Graham surveys the carnage.

The Peach Orchard is ours!  Now we need to rally off some of those hits!

Kershaw's firing line.  Time to charge in and brush those people aside.

Well it's not the most historically accurate battle I've ever participated in, but it's not bad.  It wouldn't have been much fun if all Barksdale's men did was brush the Yanks aside.  Still though, the ultimate gauge of a rules set is delivering somewhat historically accurate results.  Time, and a few more turns will tell how this battle will turn out.

Reading back on some of my past Black Powder battles, the lessons learned must always  be re-learned.  The Rebel artillery should have been brought up along with the infantry to blast away at the defenders.  Close range delivers 3 vital dice and some nasty morale modifiers for artillery.  Something to remember as Barksdale consolidates his position.

Speaking of Barksdale, the loss of his center Regiment tore a nasty hole in the line and now he will have an extremely difficult time coordinating orders.  In fact, most regiments will now suffer -1 or -2 to their orders and no brigade orders allowed, probably for the rest of the game.

The Yankees have the benefit of a consolidated line and have no problem maneuvering troops into position.  Their uncommitted battery, however, will have to commit itself and very soon if they're to have any hope of resisting.

Tune in later this week for Part II!