Extended Slamming

Tony F reports on one of the two mega-games that the club put on at the August bank holiday weekend meeting.

Last weekend the club ran an extended meeting – nine hours of gaming, from 10am to 7pm. To take advantage of this there were two extra large games – a Napoleonic 15mm game set in the days just before Waterloo, and a nine-player Hammer’s Slammers clash. A report on the former will be with us soon, and here’s a brief-ish rundown of events in the latter game.

This game took place on a 15 foot long table covering a border zone between the territories of the Stewarts and the Hirosekis on the planet of Kalan (mentioned briefly in the essay Backdrop to Chaos in volume one of The Complete Hammer’s Slammers). Each of the nine players commanded a combat detachment, and each side also had an air defence detachment as a shared asset.

View along the table from the Stewart end.

The Hirosekis fielded three detachments (one each of Heavy Mechanised, Planetary Warfare and Mechanised Infantry) stiffened by two Lightning Division detachments (Armoured and Infantry), with air defence provided by a Foster’s Mercenaries calliope detachment. The Stewarts’ first line of defence was provided by a detachment of Stewart Borderers – this is a unit I made up specifically for the game, comprising mostly infantry with some anti-tank guns and fixed defences. They’re very much unofficial, the detachment sheet has no points values, but feel free to use them in your own games if you wish. The defenders also had two Stewart Highland detachments and a supporting Harris Commando Armoured detachment, all in off-table barracks – these came on 1dAv turns after the first shot was fired. Air defence came from a troop of United Defence Calliopes (and boy, did they earn their fee…).

The clash would provide an interesting comparison between the Hirosekis, a Commissar force with average quality troops but commanded by officers with high leadership ratings, and the fanatic Stewart Highlanders who were rated as elite, but whose officers left much to be desired. In game terms this meant that the Hirosekis had lots of leadership points with which to order their troops around, but the troops in action couldn’t hit a barn door (from inside the barn…). On the other hand, the Stewarts were excellent quality troops but the poor leadership values of their officers meant surrendering the initiative and having very few leadership points – it took a long time to get the Highland Detachments into position once they entered the table.

Lightning Division APCs on the road

The objective was a TV transitter aerial, which the Hirosekis needed in order to broadcast propaganda to the Scots. The Stewarts had been told that they needed to hold on as long as possible so that reinforcements who were currently on the way could reach the battlefield.

The battle raged for almost seven hours – the Hirosekis opened proceedings by advancing their heavy armour down their right flank with the Lightning Division’s heavy blowers charging down the main arterial road, accompanied by mortars and MLRS. The Borderers, a territorial unit, clung on desperately as the Japanese advanced with their anti-tank guns having little impact. Their morale rose when the first of the Highland detachments came on table, as the Hirosekis finally had someone else to shoot at !

As mentioned, it took a long time for the Highlanders to get into position because of a dire shortage of leadership points. Once their tanks and anti-tank guns managed to deploy they started to chip away at the Hiroseki and Lightning Division heavies which had begun to advance at speed (the Lightning Division blowers performing a rarely-seen Thunder Run manouevre down the main road). But the Stewarts only had four tanks between them, and once they started to be knocked out they were reliant on the towed anti-tank guns, which had to be deployed in the open to counter the Soheis. The two APC mounted heavy mortars were very handy, one of them knocking out three enemy tanks on its own.

The much-awaited reinforcements that the Scots were clinging on for finally appeared – but in the rear of the Hirosekis ! Colonel Clark, commander of Clark’s Commandos, had on his own initiative diverted his landing shuttle to an open plain behind the Hiroseki forces and sent a high-speed detachment straight into the Japanese soft underbelly. The force of light armoured cars tore into the mix of artillery, command and air defence vehicles, routing Foster’s unit almost immediately and destroying virtually all of the Hiroseki artillery. The Japanese recovered their poise quickly however, and Clark’s Commandos pretty much disappeared in hail of powerguns and lasers.

Refusing to be distracted by the clamour behind them, the remaining Hiroseki tanks made a desperate dash for the transmitter mast; one Sohei and a Shaman got there, only to be mauled by a fusilade from the remaining Stewart anti-tank guns. The Lightning Division blowers charged down the road and attempted to reach the mast that way. The leading tank was knocked out, but the following vehicle pushed it aside and the defenders had simply run out of ways to stop it.

After seven hours hard fighting, we gave the Hirosekis a minor victory for reaching the mast; more than half of their heavy tanks had gone, including that of their CO, Major Tredaiwa. The Lightning Division tanks had also taken a battering, while Foster’s Mercenaries had disappeared altogether. On the other side of the table, only one of the Stewart detachments was in any sort of shape; the other Highland detachment and the Borderers were one TU away from breaking, and the Harris Commando unit had lost most of their infantry.

We’d like to thank John Treadaway, Kevin Dallimore and Peter Merritt of the South London Warlords for coming down and helping us put the game on – John provided the Hirosekis, one of the Stewart detachments and Clark’s Commandos plus a fair chunk of the scenery. The rest of the forces and scenery were painted by me. All of the figures and vehicles are from Brigade Models apart from Clark’s Commandos, which are from Darkest Star.

Photos by Andy King, John Treadaway and me.

Cutthroats And Bushwhackers

Stephen reports on his latest tussle in the SAGA campaign

The English menace is never far away. The wicked attacks by Harold Godwineson are hard to forget and so, aware that Andraes Vilhelmson had summoned his troops on the borders of his lands, Owain the Wolf Tamer chose to launch a campaign against the English to once and for all silence them.

The omens were poor. Some of Owain’s men had lost their weapons and Owain, delayed by poor weather, was late to show for his own muster. This could mean only ill.

Against sage advice, and to make up for lost time, Owain decide to lead his men through Coedwig Duach, a large and forbidding forest that is a known lair of outlaws and brigands.

There were many rumblings in the Welsh forces that Owain had been foolish in this campaign, that harvest time was near and the men would be better at home bringing in their crops – it had been a difficult year and famine was known by many.

Though still they set off, and the weather was warm and pleasant and this made the march easier. Then after a few miles the dark trees of the forest could be seen and many fell back on their misgivings and made comment on the lack of preparations and set-backs they had suffered.

The Welsh warband marching to war

Owain was firm in his resolve and argued with his captains on whether to proceed or not. They had with them some pony riders from the mountains of Deheubarth and Owain ordered them into the vanguard to scout ahead.

The apprehensions had proved correct – in the midst of the deep, dark, woods, they were ambushed by Vilhelmson and his men. A brave stand-up fight was not to the English liking. No. Instead they preferred to lurk in the woods, unseen, with sharp daggers and spear points, to fight a cowardly fight!

This could have proven a terrible misfortune for Owain, but what the English cutthroats had not bargained for was the skill at arms of Owain and his men.

Vilhelmson stayed at the back, looking after himself surrounded by his bodyguard. Owain refused to move, standing firm in resolve that he would take care of his own body when that of his men were safe. The Welsh cavalry charged forward along the road so they could encircle the English and the warriors came forward to form a screen in front of their beloved Owain.

The English, under poor leadership, advanced piecemeal. In combat they soon fell under the spears and javelins of the Welsh warriors. Though the fight was a hard one, and the Welshmen, tired and fatigued by the march and battle, also started taking casualties. The riders of Deheubarth saw more English hiding in the woods and they turned around and engaged them so they could not attack Owain’s men in the flank.

Javelins are ready to fly!

And all the while Vilhelmson still hid toward the back, unseen and out of danger. Whilst Owain stood firm, not giving an inch to the English bushwhackers!

Owain’s priority had been to clear the pathway through the forest, so that his men could escape – who knew how many wicked Englishmen still lurked in the forest, and the Welshmen had not been expecting to battle in these circumstances. If the pathway ahead could be cleared then Owain knew he could lead his men to safety. So when that challenge had been completed Owain knew now was the time to lead his men out – there is no wisdom in lives being lost for the sake of it.

Once more Owain had triumphed over the English. Three times they had met in battle and three times Owain had emerged victorious. His dominion over the English malcontents was plain for all to see.

Still, Owain had been foolish in this campaign. His forces are starting to show the ravages of prolonged military activity, and the land he took off Andraes Vilhelmson barely brought in enough revenue to cover his costs of the famine that has gripped the land.

Game details – We played the Forest Ambush scenario, with Andy the ambusher. The actual number of loses was pretty much even. However, the Welsh also scored points for troops they managed to get off the table, and that was the real decider. It was also the first time I’d used Welsh cavalry. I’d ummed and ahhed about it because they’re not the best troops. However for this scenario they proved the ideal choice – their speed allowed them to get away and also encircle the Anglo-Danes (English). Since Andy had no missile troops it made them even more useful (Welsh cavalry being really susceptible to missile weapons). They wouldn’t be my first choice in every game, but in this particular scenario, against this particular opponent, they were ideal.

For winning a campaign I gained a point of Land, but on the Fate table I rolled Famine which meant I also lost a point of Land – so no gain. Added to that, I lost more troops than I managed to recruit – a net loss for me, despite winning (except for the Campaign Victory Points!).

Welsh cavalry

Slammer Update #1

Tony F shows off some of the new models he’s putting together for next weekend’s extended meeting

If you’ve missed the previous updates, we’ve extended the hours for our August bank holiday weekend meeting, with the club open until 7pm. To take advantage of this, two members are putting on extra-large games catering for lots of players.

My offering is a 15mm science-fiction game set in the Hammer’s Slammers universe of US author David Drake. With around 10-12 players expected to take part we’ll need lots of forces to go round, so I’ve been working away on some new mercenary detachments. The first to be finished is this unit of Foster’s Mercenaries, a specialist air-defence and artillery outfit. They are equipped with huge multi-wheeled Centurion transport vehicles – some are command or transport vehicles, the others armed with howitzers or rapid-firing calliopes. The detachment also has an organic infantry element for local defence.

The vehicles and infantry are all from Brigade Models and you can read a bit more about them on the BM blog, including details on construction and painting. Even better, this is another task knocked off my To-do list for the year 🙂

Sci-Fi Gubbins

Stephen has been tinkering again…

Here’s some sci fi scatter terrain I put together for a recent game. A lot of the parts came from the bits box or shops like Poundland – so it can be very cheap to put together terrain pieces.

As we all know, extraplanetary deserts are well known for having jettisoned escape pods buried in them. And this one’s no different. The escape pod is a Revell 1/144 Apollo Command Module kit. It was mounted on an old CD and then filler was slapped on.

And if alien deserts are known for their escape pods they are just as well known for their enigmatic dinosaur skeletons.

I bought this about a year or so ago in The Works. They had several different dinosaur skeletons, in clear plastic tubes, for about £2 each. So I bought one of each, just in case. This was actually more hassle to put together than it looks like it should be. The trick is filling the rib cage. I used expanded polystyrene bits where the ribs would be (which would also keep the weight down) and then slathered it in filler before pushing the skeleton into it.

The next piece is a generic bit of industrial waste. The wheels and the cement mixer tumbler were from Poundland kids toys. The grey container thing is actually an empty stapler cartridge from an office printer/photocopier.

This bunker/shack/whatever is another bit from a Poundland toy. It’s actually the scoop from a toy tipper truck turned upside down and then bits of plasticard and other odds and ends stuck on.

The fun at Poundland doesn’t stop! I can’t take credit for this one – I stole the idea from someone else on a forum somewhere. It’s a pair of toy guns, the handles cut off and covered with plasticard. The end of the barrel is also cut off and used to make some kind of exhaust vent. Then given a slap of paint.

Yup, finally, more Poundland! A toy truck, tyres removed, and given a new paint-job and rusted up as a derelict.

Extended Hours – part 2, Hammer Time

As previously mentioned, we’ve arranged for a longer than usual meeting on the bank holiday weekend, and two members are taking the opportunity to put on extra large games. The first of these is Dave Bates’ Napoleonic game from the Waterloo campaign.

Far removed from the mud and blood of Belgium, Tony Francis is hosting a large game based on Hammer’s Slammers, taken from American author David Drake’s series of stories. We should be joined by John Treadaway, co-author of the Hammer’s Slammers:The Crucible rules, so there will be no excuse for getting the rules wrong ! This game will also be staged in 15mm on a 12′ (possibly bigger, if we can find enough scenery to fill it) table. The game is set on the mining planet of Kalan, with conflict breaking out between the Japanese of Hiroseke and the Scots of Stewart – each side supported and supplemented by as many mercenaries as they can afford.