Friday, 3 June 2011

Back to the fray

Back to the fray, with the added ingredient of some reasonably well thought through artillery rules.

And some newly painted units. Just managed to finish some Republican infantry and artillery the night before.

Our group are hitting these rules fairly hard for us, as this’ll be the third week in a row, I think, that we’ve been play testing them. Plus as Mrs Trebian is out with the Brownies in a couple of weekend’s time I’ll also get in a full day game as well.

Which is all to the good as I’ve promised a Send Not To Know session at the WD Conference of Wargamers (CoW) on the 8-10 July and compared with previous years I’m probably about two months behind on development.

Getting a game ready for CoW workshop session means I have to hit a number of personal buttons. It’s nice if the game is completely finished, but it isn’t essential. It does have to work well enough to keep 6-8 people occupied for about two hours. It has to be interesting enough to make the players think and it has to have significant elements that will be regarded as original either in concept or use. Ideally I want players to walk away from the game intent not necessarily on playing the rules themselves, but on pinching some of the ideas for their own games.

However it would be good to have functioning artillery and armour rules in the system and a lot of the bugs ironed out.

Anyhow, back to the night’s game.

A small-ish force of Nationalists (equivalent to a couple of mixed brigades mostly of SFL but with a Falangist battalion and each with a field gun battery) were attempting to seize a small town at the same times as a slightly larger force of Republicans, made up of a couple of mixed brigades, one of IBs, and one of EP plus militia, and a force of Asaltos. They were likewise supported by two artillery batteries.

I probably overloaded the table a bit with scenery to give the artillery a fair go at it, but the game worked out mostly okay.

The Nationalists had a relatively compact and effective force and had a major advantage in the Army Effectiveness roll at the start of each turn. They duly managed to get in first on turn one with a massive advantage in the number of cards they had to manoeuvre their forces. Their Generalissimo decided to split his cards into all black and all red and go for the objective hell for leather first thing. That meant that the Republicans were sitting around for a while and the regular swapping of movement we’d seen previously didn’t occur.

On the face of it this seemed to be an effective tactic as they stormed into the village and their artillery unleashed a withering barrage on the hapless militia standing around in the open. First use of the artillery rules resulted in a blizzard of blast markers being placed all over the anarchists. One of the Asalto battalions was also held up on the Republican right by the other battery.

The Republicans responded with a general push all along the line, although they had to steer round the Anarchists being pummelled in the middle. Their artillery responded by halting a rush by the Moroccans, and starting to soften up one of the built up areas.

The IBs were starting a pin & flank manoeuvre on the village, whilst the EP were moving up to provide some flank cover on the other side.

The first airstrike in the game came from the Republicans and hit the front of the village. This was swiftly followed by a bayonet charge from one of the IB battalions and resulted in their opponents (either SFL or Moroccans, - I can’t remember) being expelled and forced back to the rear of the village.

This was followed up by another Republican air strike aimed at their new position, but the new target acquisition rules kicked in and the bombs fell on the position just evacuated, so the IBs took a pounding instead.

The Asalato second unit managed to make it to the hedge line on their right only to be subject to an immediate bayonet charge from the Legion unit facing them. Holding their nerve the Asaltos gave them a close range volley then drove them off with considerable casualties (quote from Nationalist general “They were tougher than I expected”). At this point I decided to remind the players that some Asalto units were made up of ex-SFL veterans who had returned to Spain.

The Nationalists were a little bit back on their heals at this point, and the flanking IB unit on the left put in a close assault on the Falangists in the other part of the village. Momentarily distracted from their anti-Socialist reprisals they were evicted from the village in short order and fled back down the road to the table edge in disorder. Inspired by this victory all three IB units put in an abortive attack on the SFL & Moroccan unit clinging on to the corner of the village.

And that was about it for the evening. Again we only played a couple of turns but the multi-action system by unit means a lot gets done in each one. The artillery rules worked pretty much okay, - some tweaking here and there needed to slow down the way batteries can switch targets. Otherwise I need to sit down and work the armour rules out.

The games are getting a quite good narrative flow and they’re keeping people interested. The fast play elements are delivering the speed required. There are a few other niggles the players have come up with and I’ll try to sort those out over the weekend.

Otherwise I just need to get on with the painting. The buildings need replacing with Spanish looking stuff and I need to paint up some “normal” troops. Got too many IB/SFL super troops in the mix at the moment.

Oh, and hopefully my dice order will turn up soon. I’ve been forced to order in a dozen D8s & D10s as I only have two or three of each & I’m using them to differentiate between troop types. I’m also colour coding them, with yellow D8s & purple D10s. Hopefully that way the players won’t find it so easy to mix them up.

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