Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Desert War Then and Now

Just got a fantastic book: The Desert War then and Now: The Campaign in North Africa 1940-1943. It's a large format book, 592 pages crammed with photos from. . . wait for it. . . then and now, lots in color. If you model or game the North African theater of WWII, this book is for you. It's definitely for me - the aerial photos of Tobruk alone are worth the price of the book.

You can't tell - yet - by this blog, but the North African front is another of my favorite historical periods. Someday I'll game it : )

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Some Colonial American Reading Goodness

Found an interesting new book in the latest ERH catalog: The Pennsylvania Associators, 1747 - 1777. Partial description from Amazon:

Organized on December 7, 1747, at Philadelphia, the Military Association, an all-volunteer military establishment pledged to the defense of Pennsylvania, served as the de facto armed force for Pennsylvania, a colony whose leadership, a loose coalition of Quaker and German pacifists, land barons, and merchants, foreswore military preparedness on religious and ideological grounds. For the Associators, including their most noted supporter, Benjamin Franklin, a defenseless colony was no longer practical. During the War of Austrian Succession and again in the Seven Years’ War, Associators organized defense efforts in defiance of the Pennsylvania colonial leadership. Associators also helped defend American Indian refugees against the infamous Paxton Boys in 1764. By 1775, Associators found themselves as the colony’s only legitimate military leadership and, by capitalizing on electoral gains in the lead up to the American Revolution, Associators assumed offices vacated by former officials. During the critical battles of 1776, the Associators in their distinctive round hats and brown coats proved a decisive asset to the Continental Army.

After playing our first HOTTs game together, Bruce took one look at this blog and asked if I had this book in my library: Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America, 1600 to the Present.

I have it now! The book includes some very good plan drawings of principal forts by Polish illustrator Tomasz Idzikowski that I've not seen elsewhere.

Also a couple new Ospreys with nice artwork and lots of good scenario fodder.

See ya!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HOTTs x 3

Last Saturday afternoon we played 3 games of HOTTs (Hordes of the Things). HOTTS has so many things going for it - the ability to play 3 games in a single short afternoon among them.

Bruce brought the Sea King out to face my Undead again. We played 24-point armies on a 4-foot square with simple but serviceable terrain. The Sea King defended in Game one.

From left to right: Knights, Blades, Riders General behind the Blades, Behemoth, Blades, Warbands ranked two deep, Shooters; an element of Flyers deployed behind the main group, in front of the Stronghold.

 I built a pretty pip-intensive force that included Aerials and a Magician. From left to right: 3 elements of Beasts with 2 Flyers behind, Knights with the Magician General behind and 4 Hordes. Not shown is the Dragon that has to be "summoned" with a Pip roll of 6. I usually play my zombie dragon with vampire rider as the Magician General, but decided to try something different.

The armies advance. On my second turn the Dragon is summoned. . .

and advances on the right flank.

The Dragon and Flyers are sent around the woods on the right flank to threaten the Sea King's rear (yes, Baron, I wrote it).

The Undead Dragon kills the enemy Flyer, lose the Knight to the Sea King Warbands, the Beasts bend but don't break, the Hordes are all killed off but are later regenerated on their base edge. Ahhh, Hordes.

The Warbands kill two of the Beasts, but the Undead Magician is able to rally the remaining Beasts element and the Flyers to kill all of the Warbands, and though the Sea King General escaped the rampaging Dragon, the Blades went down in defense of the General, which broke the army.

Game One to the Undead.

Game Two featured the same armies, a slight shift to the terrain and the Sea King defending again.

The Sea King opened by advancing his Flyer out between our armies. I took the bait and attacked with my pair of Flyers. . . and promptly lost one. I know better than this - with a combat factor of "2," straight-up fights with Flyers are subject to the whim of the die roll.

Did I mention the Dragon appeared again on Turn Two, this time on the left Flank? Then the Sea King advanced the Knights on his right flank, exposing his Rider General's flank to aforementioned Dragon, which promptly siezed the opportunity to attack the General, force the element to turn and subsequently recoil it to it's death. As we were even in losses at that point, the army didn't break, but all actions for the Sea King army would now cost an additional PIP to execute, a huge penalty in a game where resource management is a key success factor.

The extra Pip penalty really hampered the subsequent Sea King attempts to maneuver. The Undead Knight died to the Behemoth, then the Hordes recoiled the Knights into the Dragon, killing them, the Dragon ate both Blades and the Beasts finished off the Sea King army by eating the Warbands. Game Two to the Undead.

For Game Three, Bruce decided to try his luck with a Dragon, too. We shifted the terrain with the Undead defending. Bruce loaned me a suitably "evil" Stronghold since I forgot mine, then I deployed with my Beasts in the Woods, hoping to make use of their advantage in Bad Going.

The Sea King now fielded, from left to right: Hero General, Knights, 2 Blades, 4 Warbands and Shooters. Oh, and a Dragon, not shown until Turn Two, when both our Dragons appeared!

I couldn't believe how tense this third game became. I shifted my Dragon to the opposite flank. Bruce mirrored my move with his Dragon. I sent my Flyers around the left flank to harass the Sea King rear again.

Then the Sea King Dragon attacked the Undead Dragon. . . a fight I would never pick unless desperate because combat is a straight die-roll. High roll wins, low roll loses a dragon.

Winner of the Dragon vs. Dragon contest: Undead! But note I am now missing a Beasts element, thanks to the brazen attack of the Hero General that slaughtered said Beasts, despite their Bad Going advantage! The Hero then proceeded to roll up the entire line of Undead Beasts, and shrugging off a couple of Bespelling attacks from the Magician, finished off the Undead army by turning and killing the Knights. Game Three to the Sea King.

Editor's Note: Observant readers may have lost track of the Undead Dragon. . . because I forgot to explain that shortly after winning the fight against its opposite, it fled the field after losing to the the Sea King Knights as it attempted to roll up the enemy line, Hero-fashion!

A fun and satisfying afternoon of HOTTs that has inspired me, perhaps, to sneak in some new HOTT elements around the F&IW mega-project. HOTTs is really a great game.

See ya!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bloody Morning Scout: Game Two

As promised, the AAR for Game Two of Bloody Morning Scout at Recruits. As you can see from the map above, the game got off to a very different start. You can see the description of the scenario here, and the AAR of the first game here.

Jamie reprised his role of overall French commander, Baron Dieskau, in Game Two, in hopes of applying lessons learned from Game One. This game went a little "pear-shaped" on the first turn! The British won Initiative for Turn One and Activated first, sending their allied Indians into the cover of the woods. This interrupted the setting of the French Militia's ambush, and the Indians survived the initial skirmish fire from the Militia and Coureurs De Bois to join the Provincials in their delaying action. Another surprise for both sides - the French- and British-allied Indians refused to fight each other!

The delay was costly, but otherwise Game Two resembled Game One from this point. . . the French irregulars "running" through the woods harassed by the Provincials' delaying actions, while the Regulars march down the road screened by both Militia and Indians into the teeth of the British Artillery. Dieskau took advantage of the Activation system in This Very Ground by "activating" the British Artillery when he had his skirmisher screen in place in front of his Regulars. The British had to choose whether to take their shot at the skirmishers - a less effective shot - and then spend a turn reloading, or "pass" and wait and hope for a better opportunity the following turn. Well played, Jamie!

We were working toward a similar ending to Game One. . . but the end went a little "pear-shaped," too. Despite good pressure from the French irregulars, the Regulars marched directly into a devastating round of canister that more than cut the unit in half. The brave Regulars passed their Courage test for the Fire Received, but failed their test to Charge, stranding them outside the works.

This is where we had to call time and end the game; Tactical Victory going to the British. It looked unlikely that the French would be able to storm the fieldworks with the Regulars so depleted. Another game very well played.

Thank you, Jamie, for playing in both games and for your help in the tear down and loading afterwards.

See ya next year!