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.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Sid and Al do Basic Impetus

After a break of a couple of years I thought it would be good to have another go with Basic Impetus and my early Reconquista Spanish. The BI rules have a decent "El Cid" list, and the Andalusian list is okay too, so it makes for a decent game. We've done it twice before, with a win to either side, so there's clearly some sort of balance.

After Saturday's full house, it was less packed, with Steve & Richard being El Cid, and Phil and me as the Emir. There's a road down the middle of the table to cover where the paint has come off the playing surface.

Steve and Richard look a bit bemused. Neither has played the system before. Or at least not recently. I've re-read the rules, but there are bits of the system that just don't fit in my head.

I had our right wing. Richard got in first and hit my light horse with some javelins.

I pulled up my slingers, and hit him back. I also took the time to remove my Disorder.

On the left of my flank (so sort of near the centre), Richard was cunningly shielding his Hidalgos with some disposable skirmishers.

Further out on Phil's flank, Steve is already taking off a unit that has lost out to our light javelins.

Then it's all kicked off, as Steve charges with his Hidalgos and Caballeros Villanos. What could possibly go wrong?

Richard charges my  light javelins. Oo-er. This might not go well.

It didn't go well. I appear to be running away.

And this is where those light horse were fighting. MAD.

Steve goes in with his long spear foot. The slingers fail to evade. The army break points are starting to ratchet up.

And those Caballeros break one of Phil's medium cavalry units.

The collapse of my right wing flank guards has opened up our centre a little bit. The break point scores are looking fairly close, but we need an initiative win to break some units before the Cid falls upon the flanks of our infantry.

Phil's other medium cavalry unit crashes through and catches the Caballeros, breaking them.

Some devastating archery breaks the blue spear men. Could we pull it out of the bag? Both sides are one point from breaking. It all hinges on our next archery shot.

I described this as the most important shot in the history of the Iberian Peninsula. One hit on those skirmish bows, and they'll need to roll a 1 to stand, then it's a win to us. All I need is one 6 or a pair of fives on two dice

So of course, I roll snake eyes.

Then the Cid charges home. His unit is weak, but too strong for my archers.

So we take another hit, and reach our break point score of 11. The Cid's forces have clung on by one point, as they break on 10.

A gripping game which swung backwards and forwards, before finally tipping against us. I think that I agree with Phil that BI works really well for medieval armies with knights. I was less than impressed when we did Paratikene, and I put a lot of effort into that.

Next week, another go with BI, but in the 15th century.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Invasion of Crete - 1943

After a bit of a break - 2nd Alamain was over 12 months ago - it was time for another of Chris K's epic NQM WW2 refights.

Never one to shirk a challenge, Chris went for the German invasion of Crete. After all it's only got an air assault, an attempted beach landing and heavy land fighting as well.  And Greek partisans. This game has been long in the planning. Chris said it was intended to be run last Spring or Summer.

We set up the table on Wednesday evening, rather than waste time on the day, which was a decidedly good move, as it took an hour and a half to sort out. That'd have been irritating to the other players if we'd done it on Saturday morning. We were lucky we had a nearly full MNG turnout, with Tim, me & Will playing the Allies, with Phil, Richard and Steve as the Germans.

Crete is at this end of the table. Maleme airfield is on the left; Herakleon is on the right. That's the Greek coast line in the distance.

Players gather, and umpire Chris starts to give the briefing. Apparently we were all supposed to have read his blog postings for the previous week. Whoops.

The Royal Navy deploys, along with fighter cover. The air cover looks a bit thin. The German players have been given boxes of aircraft. They are starting to put their planes out, whilst the invasion fleet gathers top left.

The first paratroop wave takes to the air.

The RN gets amongst the invasion vessels, and causes a fair amount of damage...

...but the second flotilla has no defence against heavy bombers.

The first wave of parachutists falls on the central airfield. Defences there are a bit thin, - well all our defences are thin. These are even thinner.

The Australian defenders are assaulted on all sides. Luckily the Greeks in the hills are able to hold up some of the Germans, and I am able to attack them from the rear with my Matilda.

Bombing run over Souda harbour.

Second air wave, this time heading for Maleme. Prior to this we saw off another sea assault.

A success for the RAF, as a transport plane goes down.

The green mini-planes are the German air drop locations.Tim's scattered Kiwis need to hunt them down and destroy them before they have a chance to get organised.

As more planes take to the skies, and the naval battle intensifies, the British HQ and reserves rush towards the central airfield, which is under heavy pressure.

The third wave comes in, heading for Herakleon airfield. Defences there are quite weak too. Luckily some parachutists drop in the sea. Steve needs to work on his plane drop technique.

Tim's defence of Maleme has been a stunning success. After mopping up he sends spare forces over to help hold the central airfield, which is on the point of falling. Defensive casualties are high. We have little ammunition, and each base only has one strength point, pretty much, compared to three for the Germans.

The struggle at Herakleon has been epic. Will has thrown everything at the Germans, and he's down to his last couple of Greek units. The German ground forces are signalling that the landing field is safe to bring in reinforcements.

Tim and I have held the other two airfields, and are sending forces up the coast road. A lucky bombing run takes out the Matilda unit. I must admit, as British C-in-C, that I had made an error in not transferring troops earlier, but I wanted to make sure the other fields were secure, and I was worried that the RN couldn't hold off yet another seaborne assault, so I needed forces to hold Souda, should that happen.

We got there, but not in time. The Germans took terrible losses in both men and planes landing on the airfield whilst there was still fighting going on, but those extra troops meant we were beat. We had a couple of strength points left on the other two airfields, but the RN was done for and we had nothing left in the locker. Time to evacuate Crete with what we had left.

We came very close to holding the island, but in the end we ran out of units and paid the price for me not getting the men we had in the right place near the end. A German win, but at massive cost to them. As Will remarked, Operation Barbarossa was really going to miss the planes we shot down.

A classic game, and one of the best Chris has run. There were a lot of moving parts, and not everything went smoothly. There are lots of suggestions that could be made, - there were issues with the Naval game - but that shouldn't detract from the whole which went incredibly well, and kept 6 players fully occupied for 5 -6 hours. It was tense, and both sides thought they were going to lose heavily. I wouldn't change anything, because correcting what we might have seen as faults might have put something else out of balance.

Great game to have played in. It might be best to just stop there, as it probably can't get any better.