Saturday, March 30, 2024

On The Generosity of Wargamers

Wargamers are a special bunch.  We occupy a small niche hobby united by a love of toy soldiers and simulating battles.  One thing that never fails to impress me about the people in this hobby is their generosity and willingness to help out a fellow wargamer.  I have experienced much of this generosity in my 30 years in the hobby and it certainly spans continents and oceans.

Wargamers the world over "get it", and when we have an opportunity to help out a fellow hobbyist in need, many of us jump on it.  Need research help?  Someone has read a book on it and can kindly point you in the right direction.  Need a QRS scanned?  Somebody's got it.  The blog-world has perhaps made this mutually supporting network even stronger

Palm Trees that travelled a good way to get to Pennsylvania!

I got to experience this generosity first-hand when a few weeks back when I posted some of my palm-tree troubles for the upcoming Kasserine Pass game, Peter from Grid Based Wargaming emailed me to inform me that he had a trove of excess 6mm scaled Palm Trees that he would ship to me if I was interested.  I informed him in no uncertain terms that I was extremely interested and would gladly take him up on his kind offer!

I love these trees!  Going to make quite a few stands of them for micro armor games.

I am happy to report they arrived and in perfect condition from the other side of the world.  Many thanks, Peter, from a happy wargamer!  These 6mm trees will grace many a North African and Middle Eastern battlefield and I am eternally grateful, sir.

Awesome detail!

I am working on a surprise item to send Peter's way in support of his North Africa WW2 6mm battles for when he plays his excellent "Tank on Tank" 6mm North African desert game.  The only hint I'll give is "GREIF", and that it is on its way to the USA now from the UK, with follow-on transport down under after I apply some critical details!  More on that in a future post....

Anyways, thank you for sending these to me, Peter.  They are much appreciated and will be put to very good use in our upcoming Kasserine Pass game.  I best get cracking on the scenario now!

I hope those who celebrate have a wonderful Easter Sunday!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

WIP Wednesday: Valour & Fortitude "Practice" & More Blood Pact Infantry Progress


This week's WIP Wednesday post will have the usual mix of eclectic items - something for everyone.  I realized I haven't posted much "gaming" related posts and I've been trying to get in a gaming post and a WIP post but sadly life has not been allowing it of late.  Track & Field has started, the school play practices are in full swing (both of my children have parts which although not major, require them to attend all of the practices - "The Play's the Thing!" as some guy across the pond once said...), and work has also blown up.  As always, the hobbies take a back seat to parenting and paying the bills!

Love the smooth playing nature of these rules - but expect to be doing ALOT of flipping and squinting (8 font?) for your first few games!

Aside from building and painting things, though, one of my WIP highlights this week is a recent. looong running game of "Valour & Fortitude" Second Edition.  I've been trying to put it through its paces of late so Dave and I can get a game in on a Friday night when both of our brains are fried.  I've been meandering down to the gaming bunker to complete a turn or 2, then ducking back upstairs like I was never gone...

I mention it because it's also competing with trying out some other rules sets, namely more of Peter's "Napoleonic Large Battles" and Martin Rapier's version of Napoleonic One Hour Wargames, which being perfectly honest are probably just the ticket for Friday night gaming with low overhead and maximum playing all but guaranteed.  Even 4 page V&F still has a learning curve and lots of "special" rules nested within the army lists.   While I love the game so far, there is a learning curve and you have to play through it a few times to get the hang of it.

For this battle, I kept the terrain and forces up from trying out Peter's "Napoleonic Large Battles" a couple weeks ago, and removed the sabots for the units.  I'm still using One Hour Wargames "Surprise Attack" scenario which is a nail biter for both sides.  

Currently the British are down 4 units (of 6!) and hanging on by their fingernails on turn 10.  The Brunswickers are just getting into the fight and attempting to threaten the French flanks.  The French Infantry Corps, after smashing through the Dutch (but taking 7 turns to do it) are trying to capture the famous crossroads.  Let's get to the action.

French Assault on Quatre Bras!  The assaulting unit has been shaken!

10 sees a French assault into QB.  They lose the combat for a number of reasons - namely their sister Infantry "units" fired this turn to try and "soften up" the defenders.  This is unfortunate because they'd have offered melee support enabling more dice to be rolled.  The British are garrisoning the town and already melee with 4 dice.  Their 4 dice became 5 dice.  Both sides had 1 hit.  Both rolled up 3 hits in the French assault and the French lose this tie because the British are in terrain.  

Both sides have 1 "defeat" having passed their other fortitude tests.

Rolling up a light detachment for the French was very useful in trying out the "open order" and "skirmish" rules, of which there are some important considerations when you play - so keep your army lists handy.  These are critical in the ACW army lists so if you want to use V&F for ACW, you should learn those rules!  I think they're also important for using your light troops appropriately to shield your line troops who are advancing.

My 10mm Brunswickers haven't seen the table in a few years!  Wellington's famous "funeral hearse" have arrived on the field to save the day!  The Royal Artillery was destroyed in 2 turns by the Voltiguer detachment, but they gave as good as they got with cannister...

The butcher's bill so far.  4 Anglo-Allied units destroyed (above) to 2 French Cavalry (below).  Actually all of the French cav has been knocked out but they helped annihilate on of the British units reinforcing QB.  

The battlefield at end of  the French 10 - Brunswickers are in the upper left, creeping towards the French.  The assault on Quatre Bras was inconclusive (technically the British won, but only made the French shaken.  No valor tests were required).  The QB garrison is still in contact with the French, so during the British turn they will have to fight another combat and both sides are shaken.  My money is on the French winning the next combat, unless my characteristic bad rolling returns.

Blood Pact Infantry Progress

The 15mm Blood Pact are looking good and only require me to finish their basing texture to be done and ready for my first game of "Grimdark Future" from "One Page Rules!"

Bloodpact Infantry officers!  Going to paint their bases black, and dry brush grey to give the impression of fighting in rubble.

The platoon / unit boasts 4 "squads" of 5 troops, as well as a weapons section consisting of an anti armor specialist, a mortar team, sniper, and flamethrower.

Blood Pact "squads" - they will look awesome when the texture is painted

Blood Pact weapons section.  from left to right:AT specialist, mortar team, sniper, flamethrower

I sure love the look of sand and rock that has been painted black and dry brushed grey, and since I'm planning on having these guys fight in rubble of some "war-torn, grimdark" city, I think it will be appropriate.  Finally, I have some planetary defense forces that I am finishing up.  These will be the primary opponents of the Blood Pact troopers, and when they're completed I'll highlight them in a future post.

Planetary Defense Force trooper.  Again - still need to paint the base texture but I am very pleased with how he turned out.

love the ballcap!  These are khurasan minis' "low tech sci fi" or something like that.

female heavy weapons and since the warhead / rocket fell off of the gunner on the right, he's now a futuristic "carl gustaf" gunner!

The whole unit.  note the white vertical stripe on the officer on the right a la WW2.

I've been watching a ton of youtube videos on Grimdark Future and the fantasy version "Age of Fantasy" which also has a "rank and flank" version called "Age of Fantasy: Regiments" which I am assuming is a Warhammer Fantasy Battles alternative.  The cool thing is all of these rules are free. (there are pay versions on wargame vault with more bells and whistles but they are not necessary).

The Grimdark universe has a skirmish version called Grimdark Future: Firefight, and even a gangs supplement for necromunda players!  I am going "all-in" on 15mm for these rules so I'm really looking forward to my first game, as I have a bunch of 15mm necromunda figures.

Anyways that's all of this week - hope everyone is having a great week and Happy Easter if you celebrate!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

WIP Wednesday: Moving the Needle, Ever So Slowly!

 Another week, another WIP Wednesday in the books.  Not much "progress" to speak of this week but I did manage to get some quality gaming time in this past weekend, playing Peter's "Napoleonic Large Battles" and even posting a hasty AAR on them.  I also was able to take the same, 6x unit forces and play some "Valour & Fortitude" as I enjoy those rules and how quickly they move a game along.  I'd like to post a V&F BATREP, however there is still much to do first in the way of posting!  

Kasserine Pass Scenario Considerations Post Incoming!!!

For starters, and in the spirit of "WIP Wednesday", I am working on a huge Kasserine Pass "Scenario Considerations" post that has been at least a week so far in the making.  The post will encompass how I'm building the Kasserine Pass "36 Inch Battlefields" scenario, including OOB, victory conditions, reinforcement schedules, starting positions, maps, etc.  Just to give everyone a glimpse into the game's preparations, here is a snapshot of something special from the scenario post:

Sneak Preview - The Random Events I'm proposing for the Kasserine Pass game.  Martin Rapier's KP scenario has 8 turns.  If those represent 8 days, we can roughly assume 8 x 12 hour operational periods.  That's 96 hours of operations.  I'm going to "up" that to 104/108 hours but with a twist - players will roll 2D6 at the end of each turn to see how many hours have elapsed.  In that sense you wont know exactly when the game ends but it will be in the ballpark of  12-14 turns.  Exactly like how the clock works in Norm's "Into Battle" rules, when "doubles" are rolled, players will roll on the random events table.  Those proposed events are above.

This will all lend itself to the creation of a PDF document for those of you so bold who wish to play the scenario with Peter's WW2 rules, or any other large-scale WW2 rules.  I will be using my modifications to Peter's rules as those have given us good, quick games with plausible results.  What more could you ask for there?  I am indebted to Martin Rapier for his excellent research and assistance as I've continued to develop this scenario, and you can expect to see more stuff from Martin as I continue to build the scenario in posts coming up.

In terms of the Kasserine Pass preparations, I am creating a few more town hexes, awaiting a few items to arrive in the mail, including some terrain items, mapping items, and some 3D printed 6mm aircraft stands to represent air sorties.  I promise it will be worth the wait!  I may even print unit labels just for added effects!  

15mm Sci Fi Developments - Blood Pact Nearing Completion

Also continuing with my preparations to play One Page Rules' "Grimdark Future" I am continuing on with the development of the "Blood Pact" Infantry Platoon and it is shaping up nicely.  There are 4 x squads, a command team, and some support elements including an Anti Tank specialist, sniper, flamethrower, and mortar team.  Not quite sure how much this is in terms of points, but considering the fact that I don't have to buy new terrain, invest in a whole new scale, and the cost of a single pack of infantry is less than half (or maybe even less than that!) of what it costs to buy a single box of 28mm sci fi, I'm quite satisfied by this project so far.

Figures are Rebel Minis' "Titan Marines" from their 15mm Sci Fi collection.

The whole "platoon" so far...

Will be adding a light wash to them so they look a bit more grimdark-ish but overall I'm pleased

ready to stomp on some planetary defense forces!

a "unit" or "Squad" in GD is 5 soldiers armed similarly.  You can combine similar units into 10 x troop squads as well.

L to R - sniper, flamethrower, and Anti Tank specialist

unfinished mortar section

Command figures.  One guy (unpainted in the front) looks as if he is holding some kind of a tablet or "data slate" as it would be called in the Black Library Dan Abnett books...  Really cant wait for my first game of Grimdark!!!

So that's pretty much it for now.  Hope everyone is having a great week!

Monday, March 18, 2024

Trying Out "Napoleonic Large Battles" from "Grid-Based Wargaming": "Surprise Attack #11"

This weekend was relatively light on extracurricular events (this will change dramatically in a few weeks as our children's spring sports schedule ramps up) so I figured it was as good a time as any to try out Peter's "Napoleonic Large Battles" which I had been itching to try since he started developing them.

(Apologies for the plethora of links below, but this post ties many posts from the last few years together)

Over the past few years I had become intrigued by boardgame-miniature wargame "crossover" (ever since I was introduced to my friend Bryan's "Battle of Cedar Mountain" played with minis on a huge, blown up, laminated SPI Cedar Mountain hex mat, and also a game of Lock and Load publishing's "World at War 85" game) and had delved deep into the construction of the old GDW "First Battle" series of games, trying to make the boardgame "feel" more like a miniatures game, while still keeping the same functionality and smooth play.   (LnL Publishing's Cold War and WWII famously successful wargame lines really excelled here and that was exactly the "feeling" I always sought.)

 In terms of porting over the "First Battle" rules to the tabletop, I feel like I was successful with the updated combat results table, and had also embarked on a similar quest with the old SPI "Napoleon's Art of War" set of rules.  While I did put some fun trials together, nothing really "stuck".  As it turns out, Peter from "Grid Based Wargaming" was bit by the same bug, and, in my opinion, really cracked the code on porting the SPI games to the tabletop with his "Napoleonic Large Battles" rules that he recently made available.

One of the benefits of using boardgames and boardgame scenarios as minis games is the huge task of research in terms of Orders of Battle, Terrain, Reinforcements, and Victory Conditions have been done for you.  So a "crossover" set of rules has tremendous potential for new gaming opportunities given the huge wealth of boardgames available on almost any conflict in human history!  So those interested in similar ventures, can find a shovel-ready game system to play virtually any of the old SPI games where a unit = a brigade equivalent of troops, even without a gridded surface.

Peter's rules are clearly set at the boardgame level with you as the Army commander.  Units are pretty much "stuck" when they make contact and as a famous Prussian Field Marshall once said, once committed, they "cannot be withdrawn at will", only through a successful combat or a retreat, brilliantly reflecting that once committed to combat, the commanding general has little control over what happens.

Surprise Attack #11 - 2 x units of Dutch-Belgians start on the table

To try out Peter's rules, I played a relatively "small" battle - Scenario #11 from the One Hour Wargames book.  This battle recreates Quatre Bras and I thought would be perfect to try out a new set of big-battle rules.  I used the 6 unit limit and rolled up for the French: 3 Line Infantry, 1 Light Infantry, and 2 Cavalry units, and for the Allies I rolled up 4 Infantry, 1 Light Infantry, and 1 Artillery.  The Dutch-Belgians start on the table and I wanted to use my 95th Rifles stands as my "lights".

British 10mm painted as Dutch Belgians.

My "lights" which are the famous 95th Rifles and I just had to plop them down!  Sean Bean is in there, somewhere.

Ney's Forces all start on the table, arrayed against the Dutch-Belgians. who only have 2 units at-present.

The stipulations of the scenario are such that no charges are allowed on turn 1.  This is OK because no one has the range to reach the Dutch yet, anyways.

Stepping off onto the attack!  The French hold nothing back!

French Light Detachment and Heavy Cavalry move up while the Infantry Corps makes its way up as well

The Dragoons are hoping to flank the impassable scrub and move around the Dutch

In a surprise move on their Turn 2, the Dutch-Belgians launch a spoiling attack!  It's highly unexpected.

Lights and Infantry Brigade launch an attack against the advancing French

Voltiguers in action!

The attack does not go well for the Anglo-Allies who take 1 casualty from the battle.  I'm not sure I'm forming the combats correctly, and treated everything as 1 large combat.  In the SPI game, I remember that you can combine combats, provided every unit being attacked, could be attacked by every unit attacking...(say that 5 times fast).  Peter's rules state that every unit within 3" of an enemy unit must be attacked.  I think I have the latitude to form how that happens, but got confused when there were units who were further away than 3" to *some* units in a combat, but within 3" of *other* units who were in the combat.

This probably could or should have been 2 separate engagements, with the "Rifles" taking on the "Voltiguers" and the DB Line taking on the Cuirassiers?

I think this probably should have been 2 x separate combats

Turn 3 the French react and advance with elan, assaulting the Dutch-Belgians who are blocking the road.

I didn't take a picture of it, but another combat that was treated as one large combat which probably should not have been.  The DB resistance along the road crumbles seeing the French charge headlong at Quatre Bras.

Reinforcements are already taking up positions in and around Quatre Bras as 2 x British Line Brigades arrive on the scene.

The flanking dragoons assault the British as they are taking up their positions.

And suffer 3 casualties for their troubles!  The Dragoons would evaporate on Turn 4.

Worth mentioning here that the "veteran" rating is deadly.  I made the British all "veterans" (not the Dutch Belgians) and the +1 to the combat totals really put a hurting on the French.

Heavy Fighting to storm Quatre Bras on Turn 5!

Just like in a boardgame, units in an enemy zone of control (ZOC) must attack each turn, so things move really quickly in Peter's rules.  It's out of your hands, now, and your troops are committed!  Once again, the Veteran rating of the British, the garrisoning of Quatre Bras town, and frankly some low rolling, really hurt the French here and by Turn 6, right as more Anglo-Allied reinforcements are arriving, the French assault broke down.  Only the Voltiguers and the Cuirassiers are left standing!

Storming the town!

A retreat result from the first assault, this French brigade cannot make his retreat distance due to the woods and is destroyed!  The remaining units come back on "in the same, old way"!  Note the Cuirassiers in the upper left attempting to block the approaching British columns!

After the French attack broke down on Turn 7 I called it as they only had 1 remaining unit on the table.  The game ended after about 30 minutes of play.


If you were looking for a good, "big battle" set of rules to play out literally huge Napoleonic battles with minis, these are your rules.  One of the downsides to using the OHW scenarios and structure were the 6 x units per side.  I could have doubled the amount of units and that might have given me a slightly longer game.  The CRT is clean, easily applied, and understood, and movement and timing become just as important as the combats, as you need to plan ahead and only become "stuck in" at the time and place of your choosing.  That's vital, and the mechanics force you to think like a general, not a Colonel or Lieutenant Colonel.  Most rules, admittedly, have you doing much more tactical things than is necessary (which is a classic conundrum of Napoleonic rules from time immemorial but that is a post for another day :)  ) but players like me always want everything.  We want columns, line, and squares, but we also want to fight out Wagram, in a single afternoon, and play with all of our toys on the table...

Peter threw out the rulebook here and produced some novel rules that really make you think like an Army commander.  I did not even miss squares or assault columns, because I was too busy thinking about committing the infantry in the assault, and trying to put as many advantages on the defense together that I could, something that as a general I would probably be doing.  Reading the terrain, matching the enemy's intentions, and trying to ensure a victorious result (or avoiding a calamitous one).

I did run into some problems such as laying out the combats and being unsure of how to form combats, but that was due to my unfamiliarity with the rules and also the fact that I was playing them off my phone and not a printed out QRS.  

In the SPI rules it's  a bit vague when you get into really sticky situations regarding ZOCs and you have to kind of forge ahead and see how it works out.  It may be that your combats were not legal (in the SPI games).  With Peter's rules I found that I wasn't sure if they were legal or not (IE forming one large combat, multiple times) and I probably should have been a bit more careful in the long run.

The light infantry rules were also a little unclear to me at times when on the offense, but I forged ahead and tried to be as literal with them as I could.  Some considerations when playing these rules:

Keep your infantry together to the greatest extent that you can.  Chances are you are going to need them and I highly recommend 3:1 odds when assaulting a built up area!

Veteran Troops are tough.  If you dont have 3:1 odds, soften them up with artillery first (if you can).  If there isn't enough artillery....quit!

Cavalry are highly mobile.  Use their mobility as a screening force to block enemy reinforcements from arriving too soon.  Especially light cavalry.

Bottom line - these were great rules and I was wondering about converting them back to a hex grid to see how they'd play (reverse-reverse engineering?).  But overall my hat's off to Peter for developing a wonderful, truly novel set of "big battle" Napoleonic rules with very low rules overhead.  I plan on getting a "36 Inch Battle" together with them using a medium sized engagement like Friedland to see how they play with many more units on the table.


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

WIP Wednesday: C&C Guilford Courthouse & Kasserine Conurbation

 Lots going on this week at the Sound Officers Call command bunker.  I managed to get in a game of "Commands and Colors: Tricorne - The American Revolution" on Saturday night and it was a real dust-up against Dave's militia and regulars to whom I lost, 10-4.  Meanwhile, continuing (slow) preparations for Kasserine Pass.  Sci Fi prep also makes headway this week in getting ready to play my first game of One Page Rules' "Grimdark Future"!

Tearing into the American line in the first few turns, it's safe to say the British won every engagement they fought!  Dave's skillful use of shooting with his militia units, and ability to pass almost all his rally checks was scary.  Still though, I absolutely love Tricorne games.  I dont think I've played a bad game of it, and no one game is the same.

My aggressive, "hold nothing back" attack, and Dave managing to hold onto the hills and pass rally rolls time after time after time assured battlefield destruction for my tough redcoats.  Dave also made good use of the combat cards although we were a bit generous in their application (IE ahem...Dave -A player may play as many Combat cards during a turn as desired, but only one card may be played on any given unit, a lone leader or a unit with an attached leader, during a turn.) .  

Don't worry, though, we made sure to quote "The Patriot" and Tom Wilkinson in almost every dice roll.

This game had some great and unexpected use of powerful cards that really changes the C&C dynamic.  Sigh - if Borg won't publish his SYW variant...I guess I'll have to write one myself!

The right flank - really nasty and vicious fighting between the Highlanders and my Hessians against Virginia Continentals and riflemen.  Most of these units are ready to toss it in with 3 hits...

Hard fighting at the fenceline on the right.

THe British gain the center easily, pushing the militia back, but the thing about these militia troops - the ones that survive the 3 hex retreat distance (!) and the rally roll, seem to come back to shoot at you!  It's Lexington and Concord all over again!  My light-bobs push through the woods on the left and my regulars advance up the center.

We will definitely play Commands and Colors again, in all its forms.  I am thinking this is a perfect fate for my Warlord Epic Minis, by the way, to play on hexed fields in Commands and Colors games.  BattleCry ACW will be the next CC game we play I'm thinking.  Meantime, let's get the WIP action!

And speaking of "the green dragon" here is Tarleton himself with his dragoons, in the wrong coat, of course.  Admittedly, AWI cavalry is a huge issue for me and I need to paint up both Continental and British cavalry.

"Damn him!  Damn that man!" Cornwallis rages over "Tavington's" insubordination

For the Kasserine battle, preparations continue apace as I am getting the town and village hexes ready for the game.  These are my homemade tiny North African mosques and middle eastern buildings, aka pine cubes from amazon!
The black structures have not yet been painted but you can see where i'm going with this.  I dont need alot of towns but I can crank plenty of them out in short time.  Going to put sand down and paint it for these villages.  I think they look cool!  

While finishing up the terrain, we arrive at perhaps the most important component of the battle - the scenario!  Martin Rapier was kind enough to share his with me from his 2020 game and I'll be using it as a good starting point, especially as the OOB is concerned. That will be in a separate post however.

Another sprue of epic minis being painted, in total I'm painting up 2 more Union and 2 more Rebel units, all 3 stands.

More work continues (slow work) on the Prussians, but I'm still making better time than Blucher in getting to Waterloo...
15mm "BLood Pact" Infantry.  What can I say, I've read too many Dan Abnett books.  They'll face off against some under-equipped Planetary Defense Forces.

So big thing this week is scenario development and since this is an "off week" for gaming, I will try to put Peter's "big battle" Napoleonic rules a run out on the table and try out a reasonable sized battle.  Hope everyone is having a great week!