Saturday, 7 December 2019

The Vanity Project (part 8)

Just a brief post to make that "To Ur is Human" has now sold 100 copies. That's 98 through Amazon, and two in person at the SoA conference.

Copies have been sold in the UK, USA, Germany, France and Canada. The single sale in Canada was a bargain, as the pricing converter on the publishing website failed to convert into CAD correctly and posted the price as the fx conversion rate for USD. Consequently I'm been short changed about 60p in royalties.

Amazon have corrected the problem, but they are sure I'll understand why they can't offer me compensation. I've written back to say that actually I don't understand how an organisation that makes millions of dollars a year, takes more profit out of the book than me and made the error can't find less than $1 to put their customer back in the position they should have been in the first place.

Still, what am I going to do? Go elsewhere? Amazon give me almost global reach (sorry Australia) and print/publish at a very fair price.

Anyway. 100 copies. Not going to let anything take the shine off that.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

End of Year Edgcote

At the request of Steve last week, this week we did Edgcote with Basic Impetus and my Peter Pig 15mm chaps. Shame he couldn't come, and was at a Steeleye Span concert. We were missing Phil, too, who had to go to a charity gin tasting instead.

Here we are with Herbert to the right and Redesdale to the left.  Redesdale's hill is too far back. I put Redesdale's archers as type "T" (massed archers) across the river. In future I will probably make them S (skirmishers) of CL (light infantry) so they can evade.

There we go. Herbert's got some tents for his camp now.

Lord Pembroke and his brother survey the scene. Redesdale's archers have forced them to come off the hill top at either end.

With a bit of nifty shooting the archers inflict quite a few hits. This is good for us, as the damaged units no longer have impetus.

With a hit for a six or a pair of fives this roll wasted no dice.

Lord Pembroke mounted up and charged down the hill to disperse the archers.

Our stout yeomen of Yorkshire gave him a bit of a shock, inflicting damage and holding their ground.

And this is a good roll for the Cohesion test, where ones are good and sixes bad.

Things can't last for ever, however. The archers facing Herbert's cavalry are bounced...

...and then routed.

The left hand unit is clinging on by a thread, too.

And the right wing archers have gone. All looking a bit messy for me and Tim.

Unable to get out of the way, our last archery unit is contacted...

...and decides to run away.

We've got our reserve line to the river to defend it, but two of Herbert's units are already across, and getting ready to roll us up. It's all looking a bit grim.

But what's this? Clapham and the rabble from Northampton arrive in the nick of time.

Richard is starting to wheel in on the flank, however. Is it too late?

The melee across the river has already started, however, ...

... and we are able to break our opponents whilst we are being lined up for a flank charge.

However, before it all goes completely badly Clapham is able to shoot up another Herbert unit with three units of longbows, before charging in with some billmen.

We also win a melee at the other end of the line.

And then one more and we've won.

It was a close game, see-sawing between the two sides. BI held up really well, assuming I was playing it right, and the archery does provoke the move off the hill to try and prevent the loss of impetus. There are some issues, but they can easily be dealt with. For example I would have the command figures separate, and able to allow a non-fresh unit to have impetus.  Also, as I said above, there's a need for some skirmish/light infantry type long bows, that aren't in the army lists.

I think I would say that I preferred how this played to the "Hail Caesar" games Phil and I have been running (although they have been successful), and I may look at using a variant with my 6mm model.

Yes. Quite pleased with that.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Tanks for putting that game on

After a very pleasant meal in the Coach and Horses it was back for a bit of Lardy armour action with "What a Tanker!".

"WAT" has this mechanism that has you rolling dice then using them to perform actions based on the numbers you roll. It's a nice little mechanism, although what it has to do with driving a tank in the real world is debatable. In wrote the key facts up on my white board.

Richard set up a two v two game on the Eastern Front. Chris had a T34 and I had a BT-7. Phil got a Panzer IV and Richard a Panzer III. Looking at the stats I think I might have been a little hard done by.

I drove off quickly and hid my tank, which was apparently made of cardboard, behind a house.

Chris drove up and dominated the cross roads.

He then saw an opportunity to close with Phil's tank and give it to him at close range from the side. He did a bit of damage to the tracks, and texted someone about it. There's an odd mechanism here. You get temporary and critical hits. If you roll more citicals than temporarys you inflict permanent damage. If they're equal or the other way round you don't. So you are sort of better off inflicting one critical and no temporarys than one critical and one or two temporarys. There's probably a game balance reason for this, but it is a bit odd on the face of it.

As Richard approached, I leapt forwards from my cover, blazing away.

Chris fired again, and caused no damage.

Phil contemptuously turned his turret and let fly, brewing Chris' tank. The blue hexes are used to denote where the turret is facing, as Richard had glued his turrets in place.

I sneaked round the side and fired close up. I might have done some minor damage.

We now chased each other round the buildings...

...seeking an advantage.

In the end I got fed up with the manoeuvring and just drove up close and fired away. I missed. So did Richard.

Phil drove up. And missed as well.

It was all looking a bit silly by now, probably due to some bad luck. And then we stopped because it looked like no one was going to die and it was getting late.

Right. This is a simple game, and supposed to be a bit of fun. It is also recommended to play with the campaign/career structure rules, which obviously we didn't use in one game at the end of an evening.

I want to like the TFL guys' stuff, as their hearts seem to be in the right place, but this is mutton headed stupid. The reviews say it gives you fun but with hard tactical decisions. No it doesn't. You roll the dice and if you don't get the right dice you can't aim your gun or spot your target. Or drive your tank. What decisions are you taking if you roll 6 dice and can't use at least 4 of them, as often happened in our game? The production standards of the rules are excellent, but at £25 it seems a bit steep for 72 pages*. Crumbs, the pdf is £16. Still, people are buying them, so what do I know?

It's probably unfair to judge on one play, but honestly I had a paper thin tank and there were two tanks with serious guns blazing at me at short range and I wasn't even touched. Everyone else who has written about them on the interweb says they're fun, but I get the feeling they might be TFL fanboys, so perhaps they've already bought into the whole TFL milieu, something I haven't (I didn't get "Sharpe Practice" either).

To be fair we need to try it again, with the aim of running the campaign in an afternoon type thing, and work our way up through the different types of tank.

But whatever my concerns and its limitations it is always a good day when you spend it wargaming with friends, so no downside to playing it really. I just won't be buying a copy anytime soon.

*Having said that I'm working on a 60 -70 page rule book I expect to be in colour. I might have a different perspective when I've done and priced it.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

A Truncated Shedquarters Day

It was time for our quarterly meet up with our West Country friend, Richard. For the occasion I thought I would roll out my Peruvians, especially as I'm working up the rules for publication.

The inspiration for the game was the Battle of San Francisco. A combined Bolivian / Peruvian force was attempting to seize the nitrate mine and also the town with the water supply, the river being dry. The Chileans had a couple of battalions on the nitrate mine, and a Division marching to reinforce, plus one more close by.

We had a delayed start due to traffic problems as Richard took 4 1/2 hours to do a drive that shouldn't take longer than two, so we ended up starting after lunch not at 10 am. Shouldn't complain, however, at least we weren't the poor devils in the accident.

The Peruvians are to the right, the Bolivians in the distance. The village has white walls, the mine mud ones. Chileans to the left.

These are the brave defenders of the mine.

And these are the Division marching to occupy the town. Chris A had command of the Chileans.

This is the Peruvians, or most of them. Phil was leading them.

Which left the Bolivians to Richard.

Richard started off by rushing his cavalry to the village, with the aim of dismounting and occupying it. This was good for me as I've never really run a FIBUA scenario with these rules, so they needed a test.

Phil advanced steadily on the mine.

Richard got into the village and dismounted. You will note his troops changed uniform colour when they got off their horses. I was forced to use a spare infantry battalion as I've never got round to painting enough dismounted foot.

Chris launched a heroic cavalry charge through the narrow streets of the village, and caught the Bolivians before they had got themselves properly into position (in order to get full use of cover you have ot take a turn occupying it properly).

This bold move was greeted with complete success. These Chilean cavalry led a charmed existence for the entire game, pursuing their prey through the entire Bolivian army.

Phil was taking a more measured approach with his objective.

Richard and Phil press forwards.

The dismounted cavalry have been chased almost to extinction, but President Daza attempts to catch the Chilean cavalry in an exhausted state by leading his bodyguard in a charge.

Phil's attackers and the Chileans in the mine start to exchange shots.

Chris has thrown more men into the village as the Bolivians emerge over the hill top. In the distance we await the outcome of the President's heroic charge.

The cavalry clash, and dice are rolled. The sun glints off the breast plates of the Presidential Guard...

...who turn and run because...

...Chris has just rolled 15 on 4 d4. This is a typical roll for those cavalry. Richard didn't even come close, and he was rolling d8s with commander modifiers.

Elsewhere, not so good for Chris. The Bolivians have been able to concentrate fire on a couple of battalions, who break and flee.

The President and his men are being pursued across the table top. Bolivian might have an opening for a new President.

The fighting in the village intensifies. Chris' guns come under heavy rifle fire, and start to take a lot of damage.

The defenders of the mine are managing to hold off the Peruvian attacks.

The President has abandoned his men and galloped off into the hills.

The Chileans have fortified themselves into their corner of the village, whilst the Alliance forces gather round them. The defenders are being badly battered. They will surely break soon.

The men at the mine have thrown back one assault, but they are starting to get a bit ragged. It will only be a matter of time.

At that point we called it as an Alliance victory (at heavy cost), and decided to clear the table to set up the evening game before we headed off down the pub.

I got a lot out of the game as I have been making a few changes and I saw my way clear to fixing a couple of issues. Overall the mechanisms are holding up okay, but I don't think I'll ever be able to fight a corps level, two Division a side, game in 2 hours. At least not without reducing the whole thing to a caricature where you roll one d6 per unit, hitting on a 6 or similar.

Late 19th century warfare is a lot more complicated than pre-Biblical Sumerian. It's not only that weapon systems have got more complex, but we also know a lot more about formations and tactics, and that cries out to be bin the game. Publication of "It's Getting a it Chile" is a month of two off yet, at least, but it'll be worth it.