The Attack Drone at Zamatkya

John Lambert enters the Forbidden zone in this solo Zona Alfa battle report

It was getting tough in Sector 27. The Federation had replaced unreliable Mercenary patrol Vigilantes with mechanised robots who didn’t need paying and in a sinister development areas of the zone were now patrolled by Kamov attack drones – pickings were slim, it kept Big Ilya awake at night. Rumours spread through his base that one of the drones had crash landed close to Zamatkya village. Ilya called up Cziscova ‘Czisco’. She had worked on development at Kamov and He thought if He could get hold of the flight control software, the drones could be jammed. Maybe the happy times would return.

Kovacs sat in the bar opposite Big Ilya and ‘Czisco’, He’d been bought a shot of Bison Grass vodka, things looked bad.

‘I need you to get a Software copy’ whispered Big Ilya, take ‘Czisco’. Nobody had said ‘No’ to an ex Cage Fighter.

Kovacs was a seasoned Zone veteran – act first, question later. His tactics were simple, eliminate the hostiles first, then scavenge and he had an ace scavenger, Ali – the thief of Baghdad. Little more than a kid, He’d survived by scavenging through the rubble before the shutters came down for good. Then there was Anasova ‘ice Queen’ the silent one, a deadly sniper from Riga, ever reliable. At the bar, He’d been taken by Czisco’s long legs and spray on denim but she never stopped prattling on, it was like a never ending hangover from cheap vodka.

They had arrived at the village in good time 35 minutes to act before a patrol drone returned, a weak sun failed to penetrate the greyness. Quickly, they identified their objective – the damaged drone in the centre but what was this? Howling mutant hounds from Hell with their sadistic Hound master Pavlov could be heard coming from a building to the west of the drone. They were guarding a hotspot. The crew would have to creep around an intervening hotspot to eliminate them. ‘Damn’ muttered Kovacs ‘This will slow us down’

Zamatkya village, with attack drone in centre and zone hostile hounds to the west
Ali moved into position and eliminated two hounds in good time

Then disaster! Both Czisco’s and Ice Queens guns jammed. There was only one thing for it. Kovacs lobbed a smoke grenade at hounds. He just didn’t want one of the crew mauled so early into the mission. He checked his watch 5 minutes gone, things weren’t going to plan and would get worse

That should stop an attack but attempts to destroy the remaining hounds were ineffective so the crew got into position for the smoke to clear. Ten minutes gone. As the smoke cleared Kovacs killed one hound before his gun jammed. Ice Queen’s gun jammed for a second time before Czisco despatched the other dogs – perhaps He’d been wrong about her all along mused Kovacs. This allowed Ali to search the building – 1250 salvage value and two red dot sights.

Fifteen minutes gone, time to head for the objective Ali tosses a bolt revealing two dangerous luminous venomous insect swarms.

Again Ice Queen’s gun jams. Ali destroys one of the swarms and then his gun jams also!

‘What the …’ snarled Kovacs, this was more than coincidence, running across open ground he blasted the remaining swarm as He and Czisco made it to the drone.

Twenty minutes gone, it was cutting it fine as it would take more than five minutes to remove the access panel, download the software then replace the panel. As the panel is removed, Kovacs orders Ali and Ice Queen to search the closest hotspot. Not ideal as Czisco’s Laptop crashes and they’ll have to spend longer at the drone!

Meanwhile Ali throws a bolt at the hotspot which reveals a mutant – looks like He’d taken a heavy dose of radiation when searching an anomaly.

Ice Queen took aim and this time the mutant was despatched instantly – phew! Ali searched the area diligently but only came away with 350 worth of salvage.

With thirty minutes approaching there was no time to search any other hotspots and it was time to get out before the patrol drone turned up. Whilst the objective had been achieved, Kovacs was no nearer to retiring to that Black Sea Dacha. He thought the ammo He’d recently bought had caused the jams. Time to visit the Dealer and ask Him if He feels lucky.

The Battle Of Nether Dunny

Stephen reports on a rare lockdown game, suitably socially distanced and held in Phil’s back garden in the September sunshine.

The year is 1263AD and the barons, led by Simon de Montfort, are in revolt against Henry III.

During the chaos, the lord of Nether Dunny has been killed, leaving the manor up for grabs. Taking advantage of the confusion, four chancers have made their way to the village to take ownership for themselves.

They are:

Sir Jeremey of Claridge – the scourge of London city. Noted for his drinking, wenching, and gambling. He’s left the city to let the heat cool off.

Sir Andrew le Roi – the youngest son of a French knight out for loot and plunder and to take advantage of the civil war.

Sir Phillip fitz Richard – from a respectable shire family, this wayward son was thrown out for getting up to no good and squandering the family inheritance.

Sir Antoine le Franc – of mysterious, and doubtless dubious, background this French knight goes everywhere with his loyal squire, Luc Brecon, and everywhere they go they leave their bills unpaid.

The first game was a simple all-vs-all so everyone could get familiar with the rules (we were playing Osprey’s ‘Outremer’).

The objective was simple – the one with the most left standing after 8 turns would be winner.

Sir Jeremey at the bottom, Sir Andrew at the top, Sir Antoine to the left, and Sir Phillip on the right

Sir Jeremey boldly stepped forth calling his men forward and getting them to advance down the road. Rowan Windrush sneakily made off through the woods.

Sir Jeremey leads his men (from the rear) on a gentle stroll along the lanes

Sir Phillip and his men stomped through the vegetable patch of the local farmer, unconcerned for the poor family’s livelihood. Others skulked around the back of the farmhouse.

Meanwhile Sir Andrew made his way through the woods and sent his crossbowmen forward to use the cover of the stone wall surrounding the farm and take up position where they could take pot shots at Sir Phillip’s men.

Sir Antoine led his men down another road with the woods hiding him and his men from Sir Andrew and Sir Jeremey.

Poor Sir Antoine was to have a tough game – his men didn’t seem to know how to use their crossbows properly and Sir Antoine himself had clearly forgotten to sharpen his sword.

Sir Andrew gave the order to let fly their quarrels, and Pasquier and Remon took aim at Sir Phillip’s men. They caused no damage. Sir Jeremey and his men still carried on sauntering down the road, seemingly in no rush to get to where the action was. Peter Ashdown, a young serf from Sir Phillip’s household, climbed up the walls of the farmhouse to take position on an upstairs balcony where he would have a good view across the field with his bow.

Sir Phillip’s archers take up position

Finally, Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew’s forces came to blows.

The fight starts – Sir Andrew and Sir Antoine’s men clash

The road junction outside the farm would be the focus for the combat. Both Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew steadily fed troops in with crossbowmen trying to pick off stragglers. Sir Phillip continued to lead his men around the back of the farm and they would soon be in the fight as well. Meanwhile, Sir Jeremey and his men continued their casual stroll along the lanes, happy to let the others fight it out. Although Sir Jeremey claimed it was Peter Ashdown’s advantageous position overlooking the lane with his bow that was the source of his caution. Peter was finally taken down by Jean Paul using the cover of the stone wall to pick him off.

The two squires, Henry and Luc, come to blows

In the end the only knight left standing was Sir Phillip. All the others had taken wounds. For this reason Sir Phillip was declared winner and took control as lord of Nether Dunny manor.

The carnage is coming to an end

Sir Antoine had a difficult game. At some point all the others had taken a pop at him and this coupled with some lacklustre dice rolling meant all his men were taken down and took wounds.

Game 2 was a team game. Sir Jeremey had thrown in his lot with Sir Phillip in return for free board and lodging for himself and his retinue. This left the two Frenchmen, Sir Andrew and Sir Antoine, to join forces. The erstwhile opponents had formed an uneasy alliance, evident by the fact they deployed away from each other – allies only in name.

Now that Sir Phillip had taken control of the manor he had to keep hold of the manor’s wealth and assets. The previous lord had left his goods under the safeguarding of the parish priest. Six objectives were placed in and around the church. The defenders (Sir Phillip and Sir Jeremey) had to protect them and the attackers (Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew) had to loot them!

Sir Phillip commands from the church hill

Full credit to Sir Antoine. Though bedevilled by bad luck he led from the front and never shirked his knightly obligations. He led his men on an assault of the church yard walls and soon made a breach and got into the church compound. Sir Andrew was more cautious – moving up through the woods and using the cover of the trees to snipe with his crossbowmen.

Sir Andrew’s men take cover in the woods whilst Sir Jeremey’s men keep behind the church wall

Sir Jeremey was down in the lower yard, by the church barn, organising his troops for the attack of the Frenchmen.

Sir Antoine and Sir Jeremey face each other off

Sir Phillip took a more lordly position, up on the church hill, with his squire, Henry Wilton, and his archers. Once the French crossbow bolts started whizzing around (one of which felled Henry and another couple embedded themselves in Sir Phillip’s shield) Sir Phillip tactfully came off the hill and down into the lower yard where the French had got over the wall and were engaged in melee with the English defenders.

Once more, Sir Antoine would have a difficult time, on this occasion falling under the blows of Simon Miller’s weighty plancon. Even Sir Phillip dirtied his hands and got involved in the fighting this time! Truly the lord of the manor.

Sir Andrew and Sir Jeremey also exchanged blows – with Sir Jeremey finally going down (not without help from Rogier).

In the distance Sir Jeremey and Sir Andrew fight whilst Sir Phillip takes his position amongst the sheep

By the end of the game, the Frenchmen had managed to loot two of the six objectives. This meant that Sir Phillip kept hold of the manor and most of its wealth, though those wily Frenchmen would not go home empty handed.

In Outremer when someone is Taken Down they are not necessarily dead. Taken Down means they have taken enough wounds that they are out of the game. Once the game is over a roll is made to see what wound they have suffered. After the first game most wounds were little more than flesh wounds (though several of Sir Andrew’s retinue went into the second game with a limp, and Sir Antoine and some of his men had taken serious wounds). Evrart Courtier was the only one actually killed.

Proof! Sir Phillip (with the eagle on his shield) did get involved in the melee

During game 2 young Henry Wilton, Sir Phillip’s loyal squire, had taken a bad wound from a crossbow bolt. He would need constant, and expensive, medical attention – money that would be difficult to find in Sir Phillip’s depleted coffers. But Sir Phillip was a good man and kept his squire on. Although it did happen that two days later Henry was found face down in the village pond. Drowned. It was assumed a terrible accident had taken place, although the priest who prepared his body did notice a wound to the back of Henry’s head. But as Sir Phillip explained, this probably happened when he slipped and fell, banging his head, before rolling into the pond…

Andy also took some photos, which we’ve added as a gallery below.

Virtual Pulp Alley

Marcus reports (virtually) over a recent (virtual) game.

I have probably played Pulp Alley more than any other game in the last couple of years. Narrative, fun, good for solo games or multiple players, it is a skirmish game with a figure count per player typically ranging between around 4 and 12. A scenario can be completed in around two to three hours depending significantly on the number of players involved.

Did I say skirmish? Well, more or less. There is plenty of scope for pulp action fisticuffs and spraying bullets around. What is less typical of skirmish type games is the influence of fortune cards, which players can use to challenge their opponents with perils, or indeed, perils will also occur as players try to resolve a series of plot points on the table. A game can sometimes focus a little less on combat and more on the plot. Scenarios are can veer very much toward mystery or crime investigation and even social situations. Imagine James Bond trying to provoke a villain, gather clues and be generally charming in a Casino and you will have the idea, only you have a group of characters working together to accomplish this. The characters have various skills set at a combination of levels. The required characteristics and skills are: Health, Brawl, Shoot, Dodge, Might, Finesse and Cunning. Depending on the quality of the character these skills will have dice numbering from one to four and dice types ranging between D4 and D12. A roll of 4 or more is a success, but sometimes multiple successes are required, including difficult tasks.

The initiative changes over the course of the game. The last person to win a plot point or a combat steals the initiative from the previous holder. This keeps the game constantly interactive.

What can you play with Pulp Alley and what miniatures do you use? Well, almost anything you can imagine! The rules are remarkably adaptable. If it forms part of the pulp genre; 30’s archaeologists versus Nazi’s, fantasy, science fiction, westerns or lost worlds, anything in between and more. The list just goes on…Figures are widely available and in particular I like Copplestone Castings and Pulp Miniatures, Hydra Miniatures and Sally 4th, the UK home of Pulp Alley.

Fellow club member Alan set up this game over Zoom. While a degree of social interaction is lost over Zoom, it certainly played smoothly. I would have no hesitation in recommending Zoom as a tool for playing games like this. Perhaps the more limited social interaction actually sped up the game.
Alan set up two scenarios set in the late 30’s in the arctic. He deployed a team of Nazi’s (“I hate these guy’s…”) under Dr. Stalhelm, a dastardly figure in uniform and a fully enclosed face mask. I fielded a team of “stiff upper lip” Brits from the Long Range Arctic Survey Group (LRASG). This group had the perk of specialists 3 of the leaders skills were reduced by a die level to improve the other members of the party in one skill by one dice type. I had a couple of unusually tough academics, the Leader, Professor MacInnes accompanied by Dr. Kennedy with two military types and a couple of Inuit guides.

The Crash Site
Some unusual rumours of strange lights in the sky have been emanating from sources in the arctic circle. The LRASG have been dispatched to investigate. Aided by two local guides, Kallik and Allatok, the team approach a site of possible significance…

The table is difficult going, meaning that characters cannot move more than six inches without taking a challenge. There are four separate groups of wreckage distributed around the centre of the table. Due to some seismic activity, the wreckage is perilous and requires an automatic challenge. During the first couple of turns, the figures approach the wreckage from opposite directions in the swirling snow which limits visibility. MacInnes reaches one wreckage site but Alan plays a challenge card and MacInnes cannot manage the 3 Cunning or Finesse required and tumbles into a crevasse. However, he passed the resulting health check, so no damage done. Meanwhile the first Nazi minions reach some wreckage, but can’t seem to explore without experiencing serious hazards which prevent the search.

On turn three, MacInnes successfully negotiates the wreckage and locates a plot point a short distance away. The Inuit’s move toward the Nazi’s while the rest of the LRASG spread out between the two closest wreckage sites. The Nazi’s continue a very unsuccessful search and Stalhelm has to jump away from a peril. The Inuit’s move in on them. One of the Nazi’s, Weber exchanges fire with Allatok.

MacInnes keeps working on the plot point on turn four. He successfully negotiates the treacherous ground and shifting visibility. With one success in recovering some clue from the snows. He is loosening it from the ice… At another site, Dr. Kennedy gets a bit disorientated in the swirling snow. Nearby while the Nazi’s continue with a frustrating search, Allatok and Webber exchange fire again and both are hit. They fail health checks and are out of the scenario injured. Another Nazi, Schneider, opens fire on one of the LRASG’s military types, Lt. Baylis.

Turn 5 and MacInnes keeps working to free the clue from the ice. Suddenly, he takes a hit from Nazi gunfire and is stunned. Baylis fires back to no effect. Meanwhile Dr. Kennedy finds his way back to the wreckage, makes a search and finds a perilous area: the ice shifts under the wreckage which is in danger of falling through into a lake below. However, Lt. Booth, (the Brits other military type) successfully locates a plot point himself. Muller shoots Kallik who fires back, but he goes down too. Baylis shoots Schneider, but he dodges.

On turn 6 MacInnes gets the final successes and frees the clue from the ice. A cache of “Top Secret” documents! Schmidt now attempts a plot point and successfully discovers an injured crewman. With that first success, Alan becomes Director (initiative), deciding the turn order. Booth and Fischer exchange fire. Baylis brings down Schneider who is out of the game, after failing a recovery roll, while MacInnes and Stahlhelm exchange fire. Elsewhere, Kennedy successfully deals with the plot point and discovers: an experimental bomb sight. Booth closes with Muller and gets into a punch up, but Booth gets knocked out cold (quite literally).

At this point the two sides disengage as the wreckage shifts and slips below the icy surface of a frozen lake. A success for the Brits who recover two plot points to the Nazi’s one. They collect two Gear points as a result: Some smoke grenades which Dr. Kennedy carries and Gadget X, carried by Mac Innes, which automatically allows passing one plot point instead of rolling.

A Secret Nazi Base…Where Else?

Scenario 2 saw the LRASG tasked with recovering the aircraft’s inventor and destroying the Nazi base. Approaching from some woods the Brits use the trees to mask their approach and their smoke grenades in turn two to reach the gate, despatching the sentry. The base remains oblivious. However, it all kicks off in turn three when MacInnes is forced to shoot a guard dog which attacks them and Baylis shoots his sentry/handler. They move toward a group of huts while Booth and Dr. Kennedy move along the fence to discover a plot point. The alerted Nazi’s get out of a truck and move toward the huts in turn 4.

Kennedy and Booth successfully locate a plot point and pass it: a wire cut hole in the perimeter fence. Someone else has already broken in! both teams converge on a stack of supply crates. Fischer and Muller push toward a plane on the airfield while Schmidt and Booth exchange fire in the location of the huts and crates. Both shrug off hits.

MacInnes discovers explosives already on the crates and lighting the fuse, sprints away. A new plot point appears in a hut near the gate. Stalhelm. Fischer attempts to deal with a bomb on the fuel drums near the plane, but fails.

Fischer suffers a peril on turn 7, possibly electrocuted as he tries, inexpertly, to deal with the booby-trapped explosives on the plane. Fischer goes down! Meanwhile MacInnes and the Nazi scum exchange furious fire, but the Nazi’s pass 3 hits! Muller is trying to disarm another bomb in the corner of the far corner of the airfield, at a fuel dump. About to attempt it he suffers misfortune as Marcus plays a fortune card and Muller falls, failing his health check.

Fischer recovers in turn 8 to disarm the bomb on the plane, but unfortunately for the Nazi’s Muller again fails a peril and a health check. Fischer however gets up and removes the explosives from the plane. MacInnes blazes away at Schmidt, who goes down and joins Bush and Kennedy in cover close to the gate. Kennedy moves to the plot point near the gate and passes it; the inventor! Dr. Stalhelm lurks in the proximity…but Booth engages him in fisticuffs.

In the final turn, Booth manages to land a blow on Dr. Stalhelm and rushes to the gate. Both MacInnes and Dr. Kennedy both open-up on Dr. Stalhelm and also escape. While the Nazi’s try to deal with the explosives, they detonate, destroying most of the Nazi’s secret lair.

So, as the credits roll the Brits return from a successful mission, with the Nazi’s vanquished again; which is how it should be. Inevitably since Alan rolled some appalling dice and Lt. Booth passed more recovery checks than he had any right to. An enjoyable mini campaign all organized by Alan with some great scenery and miniatures, all played very entertainingly via this new-fangled thingy; Zoom…Bang! Bang!

Air War Germany 1944 – Session 4

Me 110G-4s scramble

Our Treasurer has just realised that he had omitted to write up the fourth session of our campaign from the end of last year – still better late than never!

This session began with an attack by the Me110s of 3.NJG5, which had just infiltrated the tail of the bomber stream as it left Berlin.  The Me110s weaved backwards and forwards across the bomber stream using their on-board radar to detect and attack targets.  John La was first onto the score sheet, detecting ‘Q for Queenie’.  He missed the target on the first pass, but sent the bomber down on his second.

As the bombers headed off to the northwest, 3.NJG5 stuck with them and continued their attack. Three bombers went down in quick succession, the first, ‘O for Oboe’ to John, then ‘P for Peter’ to Andy and finally ‘N for Nab’ by Marcus in his first combat.  However, the bombers then struck back, as first Steve took damage and was forced to break off in an attack on ‘M for Mother’, then worse still Marcus was shot down by ‘L for Love’.

Lancaster MkI/IIIs of B Flight, 460 Squadron RAAF. Letters ‘J Jig’ to ‘Q Queen’

Now another Me-110 unit, 4.NJG3 of Steve’s 2.Jagddivision was able to infiltrate the bomber stream.  However, their attack got off to a poor start as the alert gunners of ‘K for King’ shot down John’s attacking fighter.

The bombers were now re-crossing the German defensive radar line and the Me-110s of 3.NJG3 were successfully vectored in to attack from their overwatch positions.

At this point we ran out of time for the day, leaving the raid to be concluded in a fifth and final session, which will be a catch up to bring all players up to 2 sessions played.

At the end of session 4 the points scored were as follows:

Andy (4JD)                        +1             +1 for Lancaster shot down

Steve (2JD)                        +1            +1 for GCI Intercept, +1 for tame boar                                                                                  infitration, -1 for fighter damaged

John La (7JD)                       0             +2 for Lancasters shot down, -2 for fighter                                                                     shot down

Marcus (3JD)                     -1             +1 for Lancaster shot down. -2 for fighter                                                                        shot down

Tony (1JD)                             –           Unable to fly

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows, with Steve just passing Dave at the top of league table, as he has shot down more bombers (4 to Dave’s 3).  1 JD keep their lead in the team competition with 11 points:

Steve (2JD)                      +6         2 sessions played (4 bombers downed)

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played (3 bombers downed)

Tony (1JD)                       +5        1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           2 sessions played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           2 sessions played

Marcus (3JD)                     -1           1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -1.5       2 sessions played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -3.5           2 sessions played

For Lancaster!

Stephen reports on a clash between the Yorkists and Lancastrians.

I had myself a game of Basic Impetus the other day – a Wars of the Roses game.

The table was set up with the Lancastrians being led by the Earl of Oxford and the Yorkists led by Lord Stanley.

Oxford set up his Welsh archers in the yard of St Botolph’s church, his household troops (men at arms, billmen, and archers) in the middle and on his right flank, amid some trees, were some Welsh spearmen and some Flemish handgunners.

In response, Stanley had arranged his troops in a line. On his right flank, opposite the church, were some archers and a pair of ribaldequin (multi-barreled cannon). Stanley had also put his household troops in the centre and on his left flank were some Genoese pikemen and archers.

Battle begun.

Stanley’s tactic on the right was obvious enough – use the cannon to pester the Welsh archers. Either they would be dispersed or they would have to come forward out of the cover of the churchyard. Which is what they eventually had to do. The Yorkist left flank made an early advance because the archers had some difficult terrain to negotiate and the sooner they got going the better. In the meantime, the centre was a bit tardy and made slow progression.

In response the Lancastrians initially decided to get involved in a missile exchange using their archers in the churchyard. To start with, though, they were out-ranged by the Yorkist cannon so they had no choice but to advance. The rest of the Lancastrian line made quick progress. The handgunners and Welsh spearmen moved into the woods, to what would prove to be a commanding flank position. Oxford urged his men forward, the billmen and archers being particularly keen, whilst his household men at arms were a little more cautious.

The Genoese pikemen were the first into the battle line. However, they found themselves in a precarious position – the Welsh spearmen threatened their flank, as did the Flemish handgunners. This made it difficult for them to be too aggressive or else they would be charged in the flank. The billmen of both sides eventually came to blows in the centre. It had been a cautious contact though, due to the risk of either side outflanking the other. The slow advance of the Lancastrian men at arms finally prompted the Yorkists to push the attack before they could join in.

Meanwhile, over by St Botolph’s, the Welsh archers had advanced beyond the hedges so they could get the Yorkist artillery in short range. Though the cannons had been pouring steady fire at the archers they had little effect. And once the archers were in range the artillery crew fared poorly against the weight of arrows falling on them. Off went the artillery! They’d done their job though – they’d drawn out the Welsh archers into the open where the Yorkist billmen could now advance on them.

The battle in the middle carried on. The pikemen were sent packing, but the Yorkist archers, who had to cross some rocky ground at the start, finally came up and a unit of billmen also turned to threaten the handgunners and Welsh spears. The clash between billmen and men at arms went back and forth with neither side really getting the upper hand. Then the Yorkists had a lucky turn with some demon dice rolling. The Lancastrian billmen were routed and things were starting to look dicey for Oxford.

But two can have luck! The Lancastrian men at arms showed their mettle and, with Oxford personally leading them, took the charge into the Yorkist men at arms, who were also being led by Stanley! Dice were rolled, and only one side could come out victorious…

Against the odds, the Lancastrians achieved an unexpected victory, routing the Yorkist men at arms and killing Stanley. It would be Lancaster’s day.

Looking at the result would give an unrealistic idea of how the battle went – Stanley’s men had taken far more casualties, but it hadn’t felt like that. For most of the battle the Yorkists had been in a commanding position, but the Welsh spearmen and Flemish handgunners had been in a good position, securing that flank, and Oxford’s men at arms had rolled some good dice. That proved more than enough.

Virtual Meeting #2

The club held a second ‘virtual meeting’ last weekend, with solo games, and even a socially distanced garden game of FoG. Over to the players…

Stephen – Solo SAGA
Stephen had a game of SAGA – the Prized Possessions scenario. Edward Oswaldson (Anglo Danes) had been tasked by the earl to escort the local bishop and his possessions. Meanwhile, a boat load of Norse Gaels from Dublin led by Ragnall Svendsson had been raiding in the area. The Anglo Danes won. They managed to get the wagons off the table, though the bishop himself didn’t quite get off and the game ended with the bishop looking at a very irate Norse Gael warlord…

Marcus – Galactic Heroes

Marcus took on his sons; never a good move… The game was going well but match abandoned after an 90 mins due to unforeseen circumstances. Just as well, he was the rebel scum entering bottom left, trying to get a droid to the ship (top right) he’d lost two characters already to the eldest son. Youngest son was preparing an ambush should he make it through…

Alan Kirk – Verdun 1916

Alan played a solo learning game of Verdun 1916: Steel Inferno using the first scenario which covers the initial German attack.

Mark J, John Legg, Bret – FoG in the Garden

Mark’s Roman Dominate army had its first outing in his back garden and were truly smashed by the Sassanids…twice!

And finally, Eric played a couple of wargames-based video games (Total War and Dark Future – there are videos !

The Battle of the Little Round Top

What I like about the American Civil War for gaming is that it is a simple period.

There’s only a couple of troop types, and uniforms were uncomplicated. Compare that to the nightmare that is Napoleonics…

So I decided to have myself a game, using my own rules. In fact, I thought the Battle of Little Round Top would be ideal.

Troops were deployed as their historical counterparts and then it was up to me from there. The table stretched from the Round Tops in the south, up through Devil’s Den, the Wheatfield, with Codori farm to the north. The Confederate forces consistent of Longstreet’s I Corps (minus Pickett’s division), and the Union III Corps under Sickles.

The game started with a general advance by the Confederates. Hood’s division was looking at the Devil’s Den and Little Round Top, where the union brigade led by Ward was ensconced with an artillery battery. This looked like it would be a difficult approach for the Confederates so the rest of Birney’s division looked north to where McLaws’ confederate division was covering Codori farm and the Wheatfield. This would make the union have a strong presence in the northern part of the battlefield – with Humphrey’s division and most of Birney’s concentrated that way.

Sure enough, things got off to a good start for the union. The artillery at Codori farm and the Wheatfield gave Barksdale’s brigade a hefty pummelling. They advanced under heavy fire. They tried to force it to a charge, but they’d taken a serious bombardment and any charge would come to nothing. So McLaw pulled them back and advanced Wofford’s brigade to cover.

Meanwhile, Hood’s division plodded forward. The union artillery on Little Round Top opened up on them, but the fire wasn’t that effective. The confederates took the risk on a steady approach – rather than the infantry charging forward they moved up at a pace with their artillery.

Like in the actual battle, there was a lot of fighting around Codori farm (which would see even more fighting the next day, being on the south of Pickett’s ill-fated charge). Both Union and Confederate were beating the living daylights out of each.

This left the centre.

Graham’s union brigade advanced through the Wheatfield. Opposite was Kershaw’s confederate brigade. A firefight started in the Wheatfield. Realising he could soon be outflanked by Trobriand’s brigade, Kershaw made the decision to charge.

And in he went!

Not only did he push Graham back to Plum Creek, but he followed up the charge by rushing the artillery battery that had been holding back Carr and Brewster at Codori farm.

This signalled a change of confederate fortunes.

Hood’s division had moved up to Devil’s Den, with only Ward and a single artillery battery opposing them! Trobriand, in the middle, had made a bad decision – he should have been looking south where he could have outflanked Hood, but instead had been distracted north by the hard fighting there and Kershaw’s advance.

Ward and his artillery pulled back to the top of Little Round Top, hoping to delay Hood’s advance. The union artillery under Burling turned south, where it could make a long shot against Hood’s advance along Plum Creek.

Then it became the turn of the Union to see what it feels like coming under sustained artillery fire.

McLaw’s artillery batteries on the Emmitsburg Road opened up and caused massive destruction amongst the union troops but left them low on ammo (they all rolled 10s!).

This, effectively, did for the union north flank. And with Kershaw’s push in the centre leaving the union in disarray, it meant the sole focus would now be on Little Round Top – with Ward’s brigade trying to hold off Hood’s division and what was left of McLaw’s.

At that point a victory was declared for the confederates!

It had been a tight victory.

In hindsight, the Union had failed when they allowed themselves to be distracted by McLaw’s advance, concentrating all their brigades except one on stopping him. This left Hood to advance pretty much unmolested until it was too late. The guilty party had probably been Trobriand who was in an ideal position to outflank Hood’s advance but had, instead, been spooked by Kershaw, who he should have left to Birling and Graham.

Virtually Meeting

Last Saturday, at Stephen’s suggestion, some club members held a ‘virtual’ club meeting; some played solo games or with family members at home, and three even managed to play a board game over Zoom. Here’s a round up of what went on.

Mark H, Mark J and Seán – Nightfighter
Mark H ran a three-player game over Zoom – he’s written it up fully in a separate report.

Marcus – Air Combat in the Gulf War
Marcus played a solo game of modern air combat using Wings at War; this will also be getting its own write-up soon.

Phil – Space Hulk
Phil broke out the new (ish) re-issue of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk with his eldest son; unpainted figures, really!

Stephen – Full Thrust
Stephen, whose idea this all was, went for some solo Full Thrust. Which just sounds all wrong…

Mark J – Kobolds and Cobblestones
Mark.2 played out a Fantasy rumble at the docks.

Tony F – Lord of the Rings
And finally, the webmaster played out a simple Lord of the Rings scenario (the one where Sean Bean/Boromir gets shot full of arrows defending Merry and Pippin).

Wargaming in the Pandemic – Playing Nightfighter over Zoom

As we currently have no meetings and gathering indoors is not possible, we have been starved of our wargames for 2 months!

We tried a game of GMT’s Nightfighter over Zoom.  The game uses some house scenarios that allow multiple players on the German side.  The main game map is enlarged and uses miniatures to substitute for counters.

There were four Ju88C-6 night fighters patrolling to intercept bombers over the targets.  These could be coned by the searchlights on the ground, spotted by the onboard radar, or spotted visually.

Here is the hidden umpire map showing the Lancaster position at close of play:

We played until a Lancaster was shot down.  Mark shot down ‘E for East’ after a four move duel.  The bomber spotted him before he attacked and got two rounds of fire, but failed to score a hit.

The Ju88 missed on the first pass from a poor position, then scored heavy damage on the second pass.

The Ju-88 mis-timed the third pass, but finished the target off on the final pass.

Sean had meanwhile homed in on a bomber with one of his Ju-88s, but ran out of time to shoot it down.

This was the game board at close of play:

A scan of the battle map was shared on Zoom with the players and annotated with the fighter positions, radar sightings and searchlight spots.

Game play is slowed, as moves have to be described sequentially, so the game would have worked faster with less planes controlled by one player with hindsight, but the board game hex playing surface does make a game over Zoom possible!  We may give it another go having worked out the snags.

OUTREMER: Upon Yon Crossroads

I decided to have another game of Outremer, having really enjoyed the first one.

The game was set during the Baron’s War of Simon de Montfort. Rebels loyal to de Montfort were scouting ahead, unaware that men loyal to King Henry were doing the same. Ahead was a road junction – the winner would be the side that could control the junction after 8 turns (this was scenario #3 from the book).

The rebels were led by Sir Maddox Melior. Amongst his retinue he had two skilled crossbowmen – Beric Morris and ‘Big’ Eddie. This duo would prove invaluable.

Sir Maddox, Tankard, Beric, and Eddie

In charge of the king’s men was Sir Guy de Ferris. With him were a trio of archers and a motley selection of men-at-arms.

Sir Guy with Louis and Guy Cartwright

Sir Maddox, being a bit of a loner, sent his crossbowmen rushing forward along the edge of a wheat field. The two took up position behind a hedge overlooking the junction. Sir Maddox sent his spearmen down a lane, with a French sellsword (Roul Allaire) and a young archer (Gamal) making their way through the wheat.

Meanwhile, Sir Guy had ordered his archers forward, to skirt around the edge of a pond. Sir Guy led two of his men through the woods whilst the others made for the lane that ran alongside a travellers inn and down to the junction.

It was the two archers, Rowan Windrush and Derek the Eel, who opened hostilities. Seeing Sir Maddox’s spearmen coming down the lane they let fly. But no one was hit. Beric and Eddie saw the two archers and so loaded up their crossbows and shot back. Down went Rowan! This left Derek with a dilemma – whether to shoot back at Beric and Eddie or try to stop the spearmen.

Rowan goes down and Derek draws his bow

Quite unexpectedly it was Tankard Jenkins, a Welsh spearman and bondsman of Sir Maddox, who clambered over a hedge and plonked himself defiantly in the middle of the junction – more of a fingers-up at Sir Guy and his men than anything else.

Tankard Jenkins stands defiant

Sir Guy and the rest of his men met up on the road beside the inn. They couldn’t let the rebels hold on to the junction, but Beric and Eddie were in a strong position, and both were skilled with their crossbows. If they tried to rush the junction they may get cut down. So Jean Paul, a young and impressionable Frenchmen, climbed over a wall and made his way around the back of the inn to outflank the rebels. Guy Cartwright, with his whooping great two-handed sword, did similar, but made for the gate that led on to the junction.

Sir Guy’s men surround Sir Maddox at the junction

Sir Maddox’s spearmen had now come down to the junction. Hallet Adkin decided to distract Big Eddie by charging him. But Eddie was quick with his bow and as Hallet came across the field he was felled by an arrow.

Hallet Adkin foolishly runs forward

If the royalists were to win the day then they had to act quickly. Guy Cartwright climbed over the stone wall and waved his massive sword menacingly at Sir Maddox. But it was just bravado, since he lacked the courage to actually charge.

So it was down to Sir Guy to draw his sword and lunge forward for Sir Maddox!

Sir Maddox managed to fend the English knight off and with a flurry of blows Sir Guy was beaten. Just in time, Roul Allaire came to Sir Maddox’s defence to engage Guy Cartwright before he could attack Sir Maddox from behind.

Sir Maddox wounds Sir Guy

And down went Guy Cartwright as well and with it, the end of the game.

The rebels had won.

In Outremer, just because a figure is taken out, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are dead. An end of game roll is made to see what happened. Fortunately, Hallet Adkin only sustained a flesh wound and would live to fight again. The same could be said for Rowan and Will (another of Sir Guy’s men).Sir Guy himself had taken a bad wound to his leg which would mean that in future games he’d be at a disadvantage. Some of Sir Guy’s other men had also taken bad wounds and would also be hampered. Guy Cartwright, however, had been killed in the melee.

Down goes Sir Guy and Roul lays into Guy Cartwright