Club meeting 11th September

A brief picture album of the third meeting back, still operating under members only rules.

Four games in play today, in chronological order:

First up a FOG Ancients game by Colin & Paul, we only have one picture of this unfortunately.

FOG Ancients game in progress

Moving on to the 17th Century we had a FOG Renaissance game with Brett, Pete, John and Mark, the Scots involvement in the English Civil War.

FOG Renaissance Scottish (mostly) await the attack.
FOG Renaissance Cavalry on the move
FOG Renaissance ECW Scottish in action

Moving on a couple of Centuries we move to Mexico in the 1860’s, with the French Intervention played by Alan and Mike using Zouave II rules.

Republican Mexican defences
French and Imperial Mexicans advance

Finally we have a couple of games of Stargrave.

The first game was run by Stephen, with Eric, Marcus, Jeremey and Andy sending their crews to investigate Dr Moreau’s House of Pain.

First Stargrave game, run by Stephen
Dr Moreau’s bunker from Andy’s point of view
Andy’s crew fight off Audrey II
Marcus’ alien crew
Eric’s and Marcus’ crews approach each other
Marcus’ and Eric’s crews engage
Dr Moreau’s creatures take the high ground as Jeremey’s crew approach the compound
Andy’s crew try hacking the force field

We had to cut the first game short as Stephen had to leave, so we then played a second game which Jeremey had devised. As Andy’s crew had to disband after his Captain was killed in the first game he ran the second game enabling Jeremey to play.

A ship had crashed, leaving a trail of cargo and potential loot in its wake. Jeremey, Eric and Marcus’s crews came looking for loot, with indigenous interference run by Andy.

Eric’s crew, lead by Captain Greyfax
The crashed freighter, with cargo strewn in its trail. Jeremey’s crew approaching from the top of the picture, Eric’s from the bottom.
Eric’s crew approach the wreck
Eric and Jeremey’s crews fight over the loot (the corrugated fence representing a Holographic Wall)
The indigenes

Second meeting back

Last Saturday was the second meeting post lockdown. We are still operating with members only. Fewer games and members this time, perhaps because of the Bank Holiday weekend?

First up, a couple of games of Fields of Glory, Dominate Roman vs Selucid, report from Chairman John.

Mark’s Romans took to the battlefield against a very mixed force of Paul’s Seleucids.  The Romans deployed their many legions in the centre to face off the Seleucid cataphracts, pikes and elephants.

With the full deployment revealed the Romans moved aggressively to take advantage with their skirmishes on the left flank.  This resulted in successfully routing the enemy light foot off the table and capturing the enemy camp.  However the Seleucids fought back attacking the rear of the Roman horse who were still sacking the camp.  In the meantime on the other flank the Seleucid light foot seemed to be in excellent shooting form scoring hits in multiple rounds and routing the Hun cavalry.

The deciding battle should have been in the middle with the Seleucid caraphracts taking on the legions, but despite vicious fighting no overall victor emerged.  At this point the Seleucids were declared the marginal victors due to their success on the flanks.

The second game was a repeat meeting, this time the Romans sat back and let the Seleucids come to them intending to not be aggressive on the flanks and risk losing their again.  However the Hun cavalry again proved to be very vulnerable to shooting, with the cavalry and light horse on the other flank also suffering at the hands of some good dice rolling by the Seleucids.  In the centre the cataphracts managed to manoeuvre to hit the Romans at their weakest point, eventually routing several battle groups, the Roman army withdraw just before it would break, a successful day of battle for the Seleucids.

The next table saw some Border Reiver action. Report by a different John.

I brought along Osprey’s En Garde!  Ruleset, my collection of Outpost Reivers I’d purchased and painted many years ago and scratchbuilt terrain for Eric and Tony to try out the rules. We played on a 3 foot square mat. Whilst rule memory was hazy at times, we did manage to play two scenarios.

Scenario 1 – During a previous raid some of the stolen booty had to be hidden in a derelict Shepherd’s hut in Bewcastle Waste. Both gangs were desperate to recover the heavy chest containing cutlery and a wooden dinner service (yes, they would have been that desperate). We used the capture scenario from the En Garde! Rulebook. It was dark and raining, typical Reiver weather.

Both forces approached the hut with some figures dismounting so that they could enter the hut and grab the chest. Eric’s gang managed to score some hits using a Latch – a short range rapid fire crossbow as the skirmish developed around the hut.

The skirmish around the hut.

With men down, Tony attempted a ride by lance charge on Eric’s Headman but unluckily failed and with that, Tony’s chances in the game faded.

Scenario 2 – Eric’s gang have kidnapped the lady love of Tony’s Headman’s son and locked her up in their fortified farmhouse.  The scratchbuilt Bastle House is an accurate model of Gatehouse (North) Bastle in Tynedale. We used the Defence Scenario from the En Garde! Rulebook.

Bastle House modelled on Gatehouse (North) Bastle in Tynedale

For this scenario, Tony had got some hired help as He would have to break into the Bastle. He decided to use the time honoured tactic of ‘Scumfishing’ applying fire to the door in order to smoke out the occupants.

Trying to fire the door to the Bastel House

Meanwhile if Eric’s Headman’s son could rush out and light the straw pile, this would alert the Land Sergeant and the Militia who would be duty bound to come to their aid (unless handsomely paid off by Tony). The son was ruthlessly put to the sword by one of Tony’s henchmen. Tony was unable to start a fire at the door and with time running out, brute force was brought into play. A fierce melee took place in the basement with Tony’s men just avoiding a bucket of night soil thrown down the chute above the door. The Headman’s son was able to rescue his sweetheart (the only girl in the village with her own teeth) in the nick of time or by the skin of his teeth.

So honours were even over the day. We had a couple of queries on the rules and will probably bring in house rules next time where our protagonists will encounter ‘Mad Meg’s Bairns’ a merciless band of cutthroat mercenaries and I’ll start looking at the possibility of a campaign.

Last, but by no means least, Tony and Andy tried out Dragon Rampant. Report by Andy

Tony wanted to try out Dragon Rampant using his Lord of the Rings Rohirrim troops, so we agreed on a 24 point game.

For our first Game Tony’s army was made up of :

      • 1 x Elite Riders (Theoden and guard)
      • 1 x Elite Foot (Royal Guard)
      • 1 x Light Riders (Eomer and escorts)
      • 1 x Light Foot with Mixed Weapons
      • 1 x Light Foot.

I fielded a Goblin force with the following:

      • 1 x Offensive Light Foot (Durburz and guards)
      • 1 x Light Foot Wizardling (Shamen and Drummers)
      • 2 x Light Foot with Mixed Weapons
      • 2 x Scouts
Armies deployed for the first game (one unit of Goblin Scouts out of picture on the left flank)

Tony threw forward his cavalry, with the foot catching up as best they could.

Theoden leads his guard forward.

Having the leader as a unit of Elite Riders had the drawback of the unit having the wild charge rule, so once within move distance of my forces he had to test to charge.

Goblin Light Foot prepare to receive a charge
Rohan infantry enter the village

After a game of attrition, with both sides losing their leaders, the last unit of Rohan foot await the end.

The last unit of Rohan foot await the end.

For the second game we both expanded our armies, Tony added a unit of Bellicose Foot, using his Army of the Dead models, and another unit of Light Riders, lead by Eowyn. I added a couple of units of Light Riders (Orcs on Wargs). This took both armies to 32 points.

In this game my Wargs were often successful in evading Tony’s Light Rider charges, until they ran out of space.

Another game of attrition, at the end all that was left of Tony’s Rohirrim was Gamling, leader of the Royal Guard

Gamling’s last stand

For our third game we expanded the armies yet again. I added a unit of Venomous Giant Spiders (Lesser Warbeasts) at 7 points. Tony gave his Elite Riders the Level Headed upgrade, which removed the wild charge and made it easier to move. He also converted his Light Riders to Heavy Riders and added a third unit. For the last point he added a War Banner to the Elite Riders.

The expanded armies deployed
Theoden charging the Warg riders

Theoden still getting ahead of the rest of the units.

Eowyn leads the charge

Eowyn lead her unit to charge the Goblin Shamen, who surprisingly held them off.

Clash of leaders

Theoden about to fall to the Goblin King.

In all we easily got three games in at the meeting, and plan to try doing the Battle of the Pelennor Fields at a future meeting. Tony now has to work out how to portray the Mûmakil in Dragon Rampant.

Back to normality (sort of)

After a gap of exactly 17 months the Society resumed meetings last weekend. For the time being meetings will be members-only, no visitors or prospective new members are allowed. That is being kept under review.

For the first meeting we had five games in progress; Ancients (6mm, Fields of Glory), Dark Ages (28mm, SAGA), WW2 (3mm, Rommel), Modern / Post Apocalypse (28mm, Zona Alfa) and Fantasy (28mm, Lord of the Rings).

Fields of Glory, by Mark.

This was the first outing for the Pontic army, who took on a late Republican Roman army, basically pike and cavalry vs well trained legionaries.
Game 1. Republican Roman vs Pontics
The first battle was a close run thing, the Pontic cavalry chased the Roman cavalry around the left flank before taking out two units, alas this was too little too late as the Romans swept around the right flank destroying all in their path, a close battle but the Romans won the day.
The second battle saw the Pontic forces consolidate their pike into one large block (24 bases) with two generals attached and rear support in the shape of offensive spearman. The intent was to take out two elite legions, however the Romans had other ideas and deftly avoided a full on battle taking out the supporting spearmen and eventually surrounding the pike block which spelt the end of things for the Pontic army.
Game 2. The end of the massive Pontic pike block?
A heavy defeat for the Pontics this time as the Romans showed that well drilled troops and some great tactics can win the day. Great to be back at the club, as for the Pontic army, there’s always next time!
 

SAGA, by Andy & Jeremey

We staged two games, both with 6 point armies. In the first game Jeremey had a Viking warband, comprising his Warlord,  two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts) and three units of 8 Warriors (3pts). Against that Andy fielded an Anglo-Danish warband, comprising his Warlord,  two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts), two units of 8 Warriors (2pts) and a unit of bow armed levy (1 pt).

Both sides deployed across a diagonal centreline, with each sides right flank extending past the opponents left flank.

As the warbands advanced Andy brought the units of Warriors and Hearthguard on his right flank round to try and out flank Jeremey’s left, and also pushed his levy forward taking a second activation (and a fatigue marker) in order to loose arrows at some Viking Warriors, to little effect. Jeremey responded by using the Viking Battle board ability Odin to exhaust the Levy, and promptly charged the Warriors in decimating the Archers.

Jeremey’s warriors crash into Andy’s exhausted Levy archers. Spare shields used as Fatigue markers.

That set the tone for the first game, with Andy dishing out Fatigue when he could, and Jeremey removing it and several of Andy’s warband in response. The battle culminated in Andy’s Warlord with a couple of Hearthguard taking a stand against the last of Jeremey’s Hearthguard, only to fall in ignominy.

Andy’s Warlord surveys the remnants of his Warband and braces himself for the onslaught.

In the second game both players changed their warbands.

Jeremey changed his army completely, going for a Anglo Saxon warband with three units of 16 Warriors* (2 pts each) in addition to his Warlord.

* (Ed: We got that wrong, maximum unit size is 12 figures, so it should have been 4 units of 12 Warriors).

The Anglo-Saxon battle board is markedly different from most to others, with abilities dependent more on the number of figures in a unit rather than their quality.

Jeremey’s Anglo Saxons (and his Spear of Destiny measuring stick).

Andy retired his Levy archers and took an additional point of Warriors, splitting them between the two units to make 2 units of 12.

The Anglo Saxons (far side) and Anglo Danes (near side) in their starting positions

The armies advanced, clashing in a range of hills. Jeremey made good use of the abilities that reduce the number of attack dice available to their opponents. (Ed: Which would have been less effective with units of 12 rather than 16).

The battle lines draw near. Jeremey’s Left flank unit has been slowed down through the use of fatigue.

The battle raged back and forth with the Saxons keeping the upper hand while their unit sizes remained large. But similar to the first game the battle was hard fought, coming down to a fight with the Warlord. Although in the second battle Andy sent his Warlord to his doom against the last of Jeremey’s Saxon Fyrd, cutting down several before being overcome.

Andy’s Warlord bites the dust as Jeremey’s victorious warriors march past.

Rommel

Counterattack at Deir el Tarfa, by Alan

The battlefield. Each square of the grid is 1 km

In the summer of 1942, following its victory at Gazala, Panzerarmee Afrika pursued the British 8th army into Egypt. Rommel’s first attempt to break 8th Army’s lines failed in July, but by the end of August he was prepared to mount one last major offensive. German and Italian armor turned the Allied left flank almost 90 degrees and drove deep into Allied positions. On the evening of 31 August the 15th Panzer division began an assault on Alam-el-Halfa Ridge while the 21st Panzer division protected its exposed left flank.

Italian and German forces

The latter, however, suddenly found itself under counterattack by the British 22nd and 23rd armoured brigades. Eighth Army’s new commander, Bernard Montgomery, had held these units in reserve for precisely this contingency.

Elements of the 22nd Armoured Brigade

Our game focussed on the fight between the two British armoured brigades and 21st Panzer which was supported by elements of the Italian Littorio Division.

An initial advance by the British held most of 21st Panzer between the Deir el Tarfa and Deir el Agram ridges and an intense tank battle ensued.  But the Italians swept around the British right flank and managed to seize one of the objectives. With the tank battle see-sawing between the British and German forces the Italian held objective became the key to the engagement.  Despite several British counterattacks on the position the Italians held on.

Clash of Armour

The last British infantry assault almost succeeded but couldn’t quite take the position. So as night fell the engagement went to the Axis but with supplies running low they were forced to pull out overnight.

The game was played using the Rommel rule set by Sam Mustafa and using 3mm models from Oddzial Osmy.

PzIIIs of the 21 Panzer Division

Zona Alfa, by John and Tony

I decided to run a 4 mission mini campaign to introduce a new player (Tony) to the rules. Tony would have to recover salvage to generate funds to enable retirement from the zone whilst achieving the objectives from the mission. This is done by searching Hotspots of which there are five and the objective. A triggered Hotspot is guarded by Zone Hostiles, these can be of 6 types, the type and distance from the Hotspot being determine by Dice. Those Zone Hostiles with Melee capability head for the nearest member of the crew, those with ranged combat capability will head for cover then shoot at the nearest member of the crew. The missions were linked so that achieving an objective allows the player to proceed with the following mission.

Tony’s first job was to pick a 4 person Veteran crew from my collection and kit them out ready for action.

Mission 1. Disaster at Kovgorod.

The village of Kovgorod

A patrol has been lost in the Exclusion Zone. The last signal has been tracked from their APC to Kovgorod so that’s where the crew are headed. As they approach the village, they spot the disabled APC but a pack of Zombies has beaten them to it attracted by the smell of Blood.

Tony did well in this game and was well on his way to the retirement fund target after just one game. What could possibly go wrong?

Mission 2. The Prisoner at Bunker C13

Leader and scrounger gang up to take out a mutant

After completing the mission, the crew recover a map with a bunker highlighted. There were four dead bodies in the APC, the map revealed the location of the fifth member of the patrol. Here Tony got into trouble with Bandits. One party of Bandits had been triggered before the start of the mission and a second entered on table as Tony triggered a hotspot. Caught in a crossfire his Leader was killed early on the mission and when deciding to head for the objective, he found that these were also guarded by Bandits. Using smoke to blindside this group of Bandits, the crew were able to move out of Line of Sight, rescue the prisoner and make it out. The objective had been achieved but at a high price.

Mission 3. Road Block at Strabants Crossing

The Prisoner from the bunker had recovered and told the crew about a Laboratory hidden deep in the forest so after reequipping that’s where they were headed until they found the track blocked with a party of bandits lying in wait. This time they were dealt with clinically, as were a swarm of zombies headed for them.

Support trooper is taken out by some zombies

A satchel charge was laid and the roadblock cleared at the second attempt. Another hotspot was triggered and a gaggle of ghouls were stopped in the nick of time. Things were heating up as another hotspot was triggered and a pack of wild mutant dogs clambered over the APC to attack one of the crew members stationed on its roof.

A pack of mad mutant dogs attack

A desperate fight saw all dogs killed and as the PC was refuelled from the diesel tank, the crew were able to make good their escape.

Mission 4. The Hidden laboratory.

With no time to replenish the supplies, Tony’s crew appeared in good shape. The retirement fund had almost been achieved and now all that was needed was a top up and recovery of the drugs caches hidden in the lab – piece of cake, except at the start of each turn a D10 was rolled. If this result added to the turn number was more than 10 a zone event would occur the following move. The crew moved quickly to the lab and whilst the first zone event, a swarm of irradiated insects was easily avoided, the second – a zone security patrol was a different proposition and two of the crew were wounded in a protracted fire fight whilst the lab was being searched. With the security patrol eliminated and the drugs collected, it was time to head back to the APC, just as a terrifying Alpha Mutant entered the arena.

Enter the Alpha Mutant – time to run

Unable to take on this monster one crew member bravely fought it as the rest of the crew fled. Finally succumbing to the vicious attacks of the Mutant, she had bought vital time for the rest of the crew as they just made it back to the APC before another Zone Patrol entered the area.

It had been a rollercoaster Zone Run with plenty of tactical decisions to make, with some jeopardy and the result hanging in the balance until the final stages of the final mission.

Lord of the Rings

Tony and Phil staged this game, they each sent reports, Tony’s first:

We played two Lord of the Rings games, both involving Mumaks. The first involved a group of Knights of Dol Amroth supported by some Gondorian archers attempting to take down a single beast. This all went horribly wrong for the good guys early on when Phil started shooting my knights from their saddles with archers from the howdah, much against the odds – he is not renowned for rolling sixes when it matters !

The knights of Dol Amroth charge one of the Mumaks
Gondorian Archer’s view of the Mumak

Prince Imrahil did his best to tackle the beast single-handedly but in the end was only ever one failed priority roll from being trampled, as he duly was…

Close up of the Mumak at the start of the second game.

The second game didn’t show any improvement (Ed.: If you can’t kill one Mumak in the first game then of course you should have two in the second game!)- this time we played a scenario in Ithilien (similar to a scene in the films) with Faramir’s Rangers ambushing an advancing group of Haradrim.

Ithilien Rangers lay their Ambush

My plan was to wound the Mumaks, hope it panicked them (as happened on screen) and defeat them that way – trying to just pick them off with arrows was never going to work.

The ill fated Faramir points the way

I managed to inflict some wounds on Eric’s overgrown pachyderm but it simply shrugged them off, and they simply marched on by, killing Denethor’s second son on the way.

If we hide behind the rocks the Mumak might not see us!

Finally, Phil’s somewhat shorter report:

“Phil in shock double LOTR victories”

It should be noted that Phil deliberately stomped on a couple of his own spearman to get to the Dol Amroth chaps.

The Battle of Upsheet Creek – An American Civil War Game

Stephen finds himself without a paddle…

I kept this a small game, using my own rules.

The Union are on the advance and have discovered Confederate troops in position on a hill overlooking a creek.

The Union troops are given the order – engage the Confederate troops and take the position.

The Union had two small divisions of three brigades each plus artillery. The Confederates had just the one division, though a sizeable one, with five brigades and artillery.

The Confederates were deployed with the artillery atop the hill so they had a good field of fire. The infantry were positioned at the bottom of the hill along the line of the creek. The Union divisions each had two of their brigades up front with the third brigade in reserve.

Deployment

On the first turn the Union moved forward. The guns started unlimbered so moved slowly, and I decided to move the infantry with them to keep the line together. But the Confederate artillery rolled really well, and one of the Union brigades took (light) damage. So it was obvious that if the Union infantry moved slowly with the artillery they’d spend longer getting pounded by the artillery, so on subsequent turns they left the artillery behind, but that was OK since the artillery had now moved into effective range.

The Union Advance

The Union right flank had been loaded with a single division concentrating on the extreme right – just the one Confederate brigade facing them, but a second in position to turn to offer support. This left the other Union division to contend with the middle and left flank. The fact that the middle was fairly open meant it was always going to be a difficult proposition. The two Union brigades going up the middle also had the artillery from both divisions to support them, however, although the Union artillery was in range of the Confederate infantry brigades at the bottom of the hill the Confederate artillery was at long range, which made counter-battery fire ineffective. Conversely, as the Union infantry advanced they put themselves in effective range of the Confederate artillery.

The Divisions Are Committed

You can work out what happened. Needless to say, even before they reached the creek, the lead Union brigade took withering fire from both the artillery and dug-in infantry. Exit one Union brigade.

This left the two Union brigades in the middle/left to split either side of the farm, with one now taking up the fateful position in the centre against all and sundry, and the other on the extreme left facing just a single brigade.

Not Looking Good In The Centre For The Union

On the right flank the two opposing forces came into musket range and let rip at each other. The Union advance had been slowed due to the rocky ground delaying one of the brigades, and this time it was obvious they should advance together to support each other or else be destroyed individually.

The Union Line Is Starting To Thin Out

Back in the centre the inevitable happened again – the Union brigade there took heavy fire from both infantry and artillery. Discretion was the better part of valour, so they were pulled back out of musket range so they could rally. The Union artillery moved up so they could fire at the Confederate artillery, scoring a good hit.

The Union Charge on The Right

There was only one way the Union was going to win this – take it to a charge.

And that’s what they did. On the right flank the order to charge went in and two Union brigades went forward. The Confederates fired their muskets, hoping to blunt the charge. But in it went and the Union troops won and pushed the Confederates back, but lacked the oomph to pursue them.

In Goes Another Union Charge

Emboldened by this, the Union brigade on the left took the hint, fixed bayonets, and charged in as well. Not so effective this time – the Confederates did counter-charge and pushed them back across the creek.

Union Troops Push the Confederates Up The Hill

Meanwhile, in the middle, the Union brigade had pulled back to rally. The artillery of both divisions turned their barrels to the Confederate artillery on the hill, hoping to silence them.

Again, the Union brigades on the right went in and charged, again pushing the Confederates further back up the hill. Only now, sensing victory, they managed to follow-up on the charge and in they went again and swept away the Confederates on top of the hill!

Victory On The Right Looks Imminent

But the middle was once again turning into a killing field, for both sides. The Union artillery annihilated one Confederate brigade, and the unlucky Union brigade who had rallied had been sent back in – they would not be coming back out.

And then, on the left, the Union brigade that had charged found itself taking musket fire. The combination of being bounced by the Confederate infantry and then the musket fire was enough – they were routed and left the field.

The Hill Is Captured

At the end of the turn, both sides had taken enough loses to lose! Although the Union left had taken the hill they did not have enough strength left to chase off the rest of the Confederates, and there was not enough Confederates left to truly hold the hill securely.

A draw was called.

The Final Battlefield

In the end the Union did better than I was expecting. I thought they might get a good drubbing. The fault I made was trying to engage the Confederate troops on a wide frontage. The middle ground was very open and it should have been obvious that any troops advancing through it would suffer badly. What I should have done is load the left flank the same way I loaded the right flank, and brought the Union artillery together to keep shooting away at the centre.

Instead I wasted two Union brigades marching up the centre just to get obliterated for nothing. I would fully expect the officers of those brigades to come up to me afterwards and tell me exactly what they thought of me.

And I wouldn’t blame them.

God Wills It: A Lion Rampant Battle

Stephen gets a bit nostalgic…

The first historical wargames army I ever bought was a Crusader army. It’s always been a period of great interest to me, especially the later crusades of the thirteenth century.

I resisted buying a crusades army in 28mm because that meant I’d also have to get some Saracens and I just didn’t want to paint all that patterned cloth.

Then a while ago I was given a box of plastic Gripping Beast Arab infantry. They sat in a cupboard for a couple of months because I still didn’t have the will to paint all that fabric. Then I saw some pictures of other’s Saracen armies and I saw how they’d done them in plain white material. ‘That’s a good idea’, I thought. So that’s what I did, and decided I’d make the Ghulams a bit more colourful – representing wealthier troops able to buy expensive fabrics.

Being motivated to get these done, I motored through them. And this weekend I decided to have a game. I was going to play Saga, but it doesn’t play solo so well. So instead I went with Lion Rampant…

Forces Deployed

The two sides lined up opposite each other. Both had 24 points a side.

The Crusaders had two units of Templar knights (LR: Mounted Men at Arms), two units of Mounted Sergeants, and one of foot Crossbows.

I gave the Saracens two units of Ghulams (LR: Foot Men at Arms), two units of Ghazis (LR: Foot Yeomen, armed with short range missiles – javelins), and two units of Ahdath (LR: Bidowers).

I did a simple meeting scenario – both sides hacking at each other until one is gone.

I rolled for leader traits and got Vulnerable for the Crusaders (leader killed on a Lucky Blow of 2 or 3) and Lionheart (ironically) for the Saracen leader (meaning his unit could re-roll 2 failed hit dice).

The Saracens went first and they were lucky enough to activate all their units – moving up to occupy favourable terrain that would hamper the mounted crusaders. The Ahdath would be well placed in these areas of bad terrain, where they could lodge themselves in and shoot at the Crusader cavalry. The only solution to this would be the Crusader crossbows, so it would be worth the Saracens taking out the Crossbows as soon as possible.

Saracens Advance

The Crusaders were equally lucky, activating all their units. The Sergeants on the right went galloping past the village, the Crossbows moved up to get into range of the Ahdath hiding in the scrub, and the Knights also moved up.

One thing became obvious – there was a natural funnel to the battlefield between two areas of rough terrain. The Ghulams had moved up to block this gap, with the Ahdath either side with their bows to shoot at anything coming between them. The only thing the Crusaders could do was to advance as quickly as possible to minimise their exposure to the enemy arrows.

Getting Ready To Shoot

The Saracen Ghazis kept moving up to the Crossbows, desperate to engage and eliminate them – if they could it would make a Crusader victory difficult. The other unit of Ghazis, over by the village, decided to hurl their javelins at the approaching Sergeants, scoring enough hits to take one of them out. When it came to the Crusader’s turn they were more than ready to return the gesture. Although the Ghazis were approaching the Crossbows, it was obvious the Crossbows had to take a shot at the Ahdath in the scrub. Spanning their bows, they took aim, and…a devastating volley! The unit of Saracen skirmishers were devastated and routed off the table! Both units of Sergeants advanced – those on the left moved into the middle of the funnel to threaten the Ghulams, whilst those on the right put in their spurs and charged the other Ghazi unit.

Sergeants Charge In

Casualties were taken on both sides and the Ghazis were bounced back. But the Sergeants were now down to half strength which meant their combat effectiveness was also halved.

It was then over to the Saracens to go on the attack. On their activation they sent the Ghazis in to charge the crossbows.

Ghazis Rush The Crossbows

Improbably, the Crossbows prevailed! They didn’t take a single casualty and pushed back the Ghazis who failed their courage roll and were now battered. The other unit of Ghazis managed to rally, ready to block the Sergeants. The remaining unit of Ahdath drew their bows, trying to decide who to shoot at – the unit of Sergeants leading the attack through the funnel, or the unit of Knights who were coming in behind to mop up any remnants the Sergeants left behind.

In Go The Cavalry

Deciding that the Ghulams should be able to resist an attack by the Sergeants, the Ahdath took aim at the Knights and let fly. No effect this time.

Now it was over to the Crusaders. The Sergeants were in charge range of the Saracen leader, so decided to go for it and see if they could get a lucky hit. And they did! OK, so the Saracen leader didn’t go down, but a couple of his Ghulam bodyguards did and had to retreat. The Crossbows, knowing how lucky they’d just been in repelling the Ghazi charge, took aim and let rip. A good shot that took out a couple of the Ghazis. However, best of all, the Ghazis then failed their courage test. It was such a bad fail that they routed off the table.

Sergeants Charge The Saracen Leader

The Saracens had to go on the counter-charge. The Saracen leader ordered his men to charge and in they went against the Sergeants. But it happened again – the Sergeants came out on top. Sort of – no casualties on either side, but since the Saracens had charged and failed they had to retreat. The Ahdath had another go at the Knights, this time scoring a kill. And the Ghazi unit by the village threw more of their javelins at the Sergeants, taking another rider out and leaving them battered.

Templars and Ghulams

Things were coming to a head. The Sergeants, not believing their luck, charged the Saracen leader again. Not such a good result this time – the Sergeants took heavy loses and were pushed back, under half strength and battered! The first unit of Crusader Knights went in and charged the Ghulams. A fairly even result, meaning the Crusaders had to retreat. Had the Saracens managed to turn things around?

Back to the Saracens, and they spent most of their turn rallying units. The Ahdath once again took a shot and once again took out one of the Knights. They were starting to become a real pain.

So on the Crusader turn the Crossbows moved up so they could get in range of the other unit of Saracen skirmishers. The Crusader leader also decided to take part (remember, his leader trait would make him more susceptible to a lucky blow, so he’d been wise to keep out of it until needed). So the Crusader leader took command of his Knights and they charged one of the Ghulam units. Casualties were taken on both sides, and a Lucky Blow roll was made against the Crusader leader: double 6 – nowhere near!

Templar Leader Takes Control

On the Saracen turn I noticed the two leaders were near each other. There was only one thing for it – Leaders Challenge! The Crusader leader accepted. Into the middle they went and rolled for it.

Challenge Accepted

No hits for the Saracen leader, but the Crusader leader scored a hit, meaning the Saracen leader had been killed in personal combat! All the Saracen units now had to make courage rolls. Only the ex-leader’s unit failed, leaving them battered, but all the others passed. There were still enough Saracens left to make it worth fighting on, so I kept the battle going – despite losing their leader, could the Saracens still manage to win?

Well, maybe. But on the Crusaders’ turn the crossbows took a shot at the remaining unit of Ahdath in the rocks. Despite the extra protection, they still lost half their unit and fled. It was now looking extremely unlikely that the Saracens could win this one. All they really had left was a single unit of Ghazis. Well, there were the Ghulams, but both of those units were down to just two models each, so they’d lost their punch.

One Last Charge

Ultimately and inevitably, it would be a Crusader victory. The Crusader leader, emboldened by his victory with the Saracen leader in single combat, led his knights in repeated charges on the final unit of Ghazis. The Ghazis were steadily whittled down until they finally failed their courage test.

And that was it – a Crusader win.

The Saracens

What A (Grav) Tanker! (Part 2)

Marcus gives us the next instalment of his Sci FI adaption of What a Tanker!

I have continued to develop my WA(G)T ideas since the first outing and this is the third time on the table. Well actually on the floor again, but I did at least get to use the table for game 2.

I have introduced some changes, and there are more ideas to come. Firstly, I went back to the original Lardy allocation for the dice orders. On reflection I didn’t feel much was gained by that change.

Secondly, this time I added in a command group each. I tried this in the first game but adjusted how they worked this time.  For simplicity I gave both command groups four dice. The idea behind these is that they can (apart from making nice objectives for the enemy maybe…) use their dice to cancel enemy orders or supplement their own units die rolls. I played it that the command units needed to roll at least one 6 to use as a comms/data link. At first it was too easy to disrupt enemy shooting by allowing any dice rolled by a command unit to cancel an enemy order dice. This time I went for the following options:

      1. Cancel one enemy move dice or substitute a friendly unit dice
      2. Cancel or add an acquisition dice
      3. Add/Improve aim
      4. Add a shoot dice
      5. Add a defensive dice
      6. Comms/data link

I also added in missiles in both games. However, in the first game they didn’t work satisfactorily. In the second, well, you’ll see.

I added in a wider selection of cards than in the original WAT game, to add some sci-fi flavour. Some were successful, although those relating to missiles need to be revised.

Finally, influenced by PSC’s “Red Alert” which I have written about previously, the biggest change in this iteration was the number of vehicles on the table (sorry, floor!) with a shift to multiple element units. Essentially these employed the same stats as used previously with a hit just removing one vehicle.

There were a few new or adjusted vehicles. The “attack boats” were a Callisto class boat, as seen in the previous game, but with a change to a missile launcher in place of the forward twin gun. It is a modular design (the turrets on the models are magnetised). The two smaller boats notionally have vertical launch cells under the bow cover. These still acted like one unit, although in retrospect I think I should have upped the defence value and/or the hits that could be taken, especially on the larger Ganymede.

Additional units:

Core Dice Max Attack Defence Movement
Attack Boats 6 Ganymede 8 missiles; Leda & Ersa 4 each 8 6
Pz 35 “Hornisse” 5 15 9 9
Command Units 4 0 8 7

The British started with 2 groups of 4 Chieftains, one of 4 Ferret’s and the naval group of Ganymede, Leda and Ersa plus the command group, see the header picture.

The NAU had 3 groups of 4 Wespe, 1 group of 4 Hornisse  and the command group.

The Hornisse models are envisaged as earlier models which have not been completely replaced by a later version, but are ideal for service in a riverine/swamp environment (maybe they should be better than grav vehicles over this kind of terrain. I always envisaged grav vehicles having more “mushy” responsiveness over wide stretches of water)

Ersa and Leda are also from GZG. The Hornisse is from the Osario from the Scotia range. As an objective I thought about both making this the command groups or taking the previous route; the British was to get the Callisto off the far river edge with the NAU needing to prevent this. In the end I went for just targeting the naval group and playing out a few turns.

Activation worked as previously, but I forgot about the “exploding 6’s” for hits. It seemed likely to be a more destructive game anyway…

Here is an “drone” shot of the initial set up:

With shots from the British perspective:

And the NAU positions:

Turn 1:

The NAU took the initiative moving the green Pz 37 unit up, seen at the bottom of the drone recce photo,  and the corresponding yellow unit to the top. The yellow unit benefited from a stealth card requiring an additional 2 acquisition dice. The British Ferrets activating next were unable to move, but prepped for future activation with the idea that they would designate targets for the missiles on the naval units if possible. The Ganymede group also moved up and were able to acquire and aim at the NAU yellow group having rolled three 6’s.

The cautious positioning continued since the British had no data link and the GBR yellow group were therefore unable to acquire the stealthed NAU yellows. No firing took place this turn.

Turn 2:

The NAU again gained the initiative (on exactly the same number of dice as the GBR), continuing a theme from the last game.

NAU command had rolled two 6 (one of which could be used as data link) and two “shoot” dice last turn. The dice rolled for the last turn continue to be available until a unit activates in the subsequent turn and rolls a new “hand” of dice.

The NAU orange “Hornisse” hover tanks moved forward in the centre, but were unable to find a target in line of sight. However, NAU blue had no such difficulty. Moving to acquire the naval group they launched a 15 dice attack. Despite the GBR side using a card for a D6 firer systems down, resulting in a reduction of only 1 attack dice to 14. A roll of 6655 didn’t seem too threatening, until the 8 defence dice yielded no blocks! A further desperate defensive systems card for the GBR took out one of the critical hits, but under the new rules either critical (6) or a double hit (55) would destroy a target. While the card saved the Ganymede the Ersa and Leda were destroyed.

In response the GBR yellow Chieftain unit moved out of cover and launch a retaliatory attack on the more exposed NAU yellow unit.  With 13 attack dice -1 for range attenuation, the Brits roll 666655. Despite playing an “All power to shields” card, the NAU rolls only a 65 against the incoming fire, seeing three of the four vehicles in the unit destroyed. The remaining vehicle rolled a test and stayed in the fight (D6 higher than the number of vehicles destroyed)

GBR orange Ferrets attack the “Hornisse” unit, having rolled 6543 (using the wild 6 as a 2 to acquire), but hits of 665 were all blocked . The Ganymede went into stealth mode with a card.

Both command units now activated successively and maintained comms/data links.

The turn concluded with a GBR Green Cheiftain attack on the exposed NAU yellow over the river with a 6555 on 13 dice. With only a defence of 4 the unit still blocked with 65 resulting in one tank destroyed.

Turn 3:

This proved to be the final round of a vicious confrontation.

The NAU maintained the initiative and their yellow unit used an extra command unit acquisition dice to make 3 allowing them to target the Ganymede in stealth mode. 15 dice resulted in a 66666. A defensive systems card d4 roll resulted in two of these being cancelled. The Ganymede’s defence dice only took out one of the remaining hits, resulting in a mighty explosion as the last two critical hits crashed home. BOOM!

The NAU red Hornisse unit rolls 65511. However, despite being unable to acquire or aim, using a “snapshot” card, they are able to make a reduced level attack. A ten dice attack results in an unlikely 66655. The green unit with all power switched to attack is unable to stop any of these critical hits, although a damage control card cancels the non-criticals.

NAU command rolls a 5321. Without a data link it cannot use any of these dice to support its units. NAU Green rolls 633322  continuing the paralysis on the NAU left flank as without a shoot order, they cannot get into the fight.

The GBR command group still has data link and the GBR yellow unit uses a command unit 2 to acquire NAU yellow. With a 13566 and the 2, the GBR unit can make two attacks using the wild 66 as 44 shoot orders.  A 66655 followed by 65555 leaves the NAU unit doomed, having only two for defence against each attack.

That effectively ended the action for the round and the game, with both sides more or less suffering equal damage and choosing to retire.

As alluded to earlier, the missile rules didn’t get tested and the cards need further development given the rule changes. Overall though, I like the changes; having the extra vehicles on the board “Red Alert” style and the command unit rules, although these could evolve further.  While the game was excessively destructive I think that was a function of the lack of defensive allocation and a need to restructure the cards  to reflect rule developments. The cards are a key thing to work on going forward.

However, missiles still need work. I am thinking of rolling one dice (probably a D6 but maybe others depending on missile characteristics) per missile and in the spirit of using the same dice in a different way, rolling the defence dice to block the specific number rolled (i.e. a defensive 6 would take out any attacking rolls of 6, a 2 would take out any attack rolls of 2 etc.)

I hope to develop the command group idea and use multiple groups (2/3 perhaps depending on the size of game).

I have an idea that I might do an Antarctic game going forward. I have a suitable shower curtain that I used as a mat for a club show game. However, I have no suitable vehicles or other terrain. In the interim I may break out my island terrain (a couple of pictures of which can be seen here) for the next game and hopefully some future blogs might cover painting vehicles (probably striping and re-painting old vehicles) in snow camo and creating some terrain.

Look out for further developments!

Night Raid on Qui Nhon

John reports on a follow up game to Treasure Islands, using Ganesha Games Galleys and Galleons rules and his scratch built junks.

Angry that she’d missed out on treasure from the wrecked ships, Li Chee the Pirate Queen shadowed Admiral Feng Shui from the islands to Qui Nhon in the South China Sea. Determined to exact revenge, she planned a night raid on the harbour at Qui Nhon (see picture above).

She hoped to capture one of the junks, avoiding the larger Treasure Ships and the Admiral’s Flagship. She’d also have to avoid the attentions of the fort guarding the harbour entrance.

Li Chee passes the fort guarding Qui Nhon Harbour

All Feng Shui’s ships were moored facing into the wind. Li Chee decided to go for the smallest Junk. This would make a fine pirate Junk to accompany her on further adventures and was bound to hold some treasure too.

In this scenario, Feng Shui can only activate when Li Chee performs a boarding or firing action.

The first activation. Li Chee rolls up to 3 activation dice requiring 2+ to take an action. The double 5 indicates a change in wind direction of one point clockwise.

Li Chee slowly and silently passed by the fort and after several moves is in a position upwind of the smallest Junk ready to strike in a swift and deadly boarding action.

Li Chee’s crew have ‘Derring Do’. This reduces the combat value of both vessels to zero in the first boarding action of the game. They are intimidating so get a +1 modifier. The enemy Junk has a -2 modifier from the scenario and a further -1 being a Merchantman. The Junk is tripled and takes 3 damage. Ouch!

The hapless Junk attempts to cut the grapples and head away.

Two activations are sufficient to cut the grapples but the ‘1’ requires the ship to take an all at sea roll. A ‘3’ is reduced by 1 as Li Chee is a Dread Pirate. Li Chee decides to let the Junk continue. She will move in for the kill next turn.

All this commotion has alerted Feng Shui, who turns his junk which is in irons to a firing position.

In the next round of combat, Li Chee takes her prize – now to escape!

The captured junk is now manned by a prize crew and Feng Shui opens fire on it.

Feng Shui opens fire to no effect. The reinforced Junk hull proving invaluable.

As the pirate junks begin to pull away to safety, Feng Shui makes a boarding attempt on Li Chee’s junk. Li Chee is in great peril.

Boarding! Li Chee has an intimidating crew and gets +1 but Feng Shui has a higher combat value, high castles and Drilled Soldiers. The dice roll saves Li Chee but the Feng Shui’s veteran NCO rallies the troops.

It had been a lucky escape for Li Chee and using actions to cut the grapples and break free she was able to move away from Feng Shui, who was now in a bad position and would have to sail round the island or lose time in irons. The two pirate junks would now have to run the gauntlet of the fort.

The fort opens fire first on the captured junk.

The Junk is not doubled but the ‘6’ dice roll causes a point of damage.

And then on the Pirate Queen.

The fort fires on the Pirate Queen to no effect.

As the pirate Junks head for safety, the fort manages to fire on them again a longer range but fails to score a hit.

As the sun begins to rise in the east, Li Chee and her pirate crews make good their escape.

It had been a close-run thing but now, Li Chee had a second junk which she would repair and turn into a formidable fighting ship. Feng Shui was worried as he tried to get to grips with the Chilli Crab. The treacherous Straits of Malacca would have to be negotiated with their swirling currents and risk of ambush – things did not look good.

Appendix

This game was based on the cutting out scenario from the Galleys and Galleons rule book. Vessel and fort stats below:

Feng Shui’s flotilla:

Li Chee’s ship:

KONTRABAND – A ZONA ALFA EXPANSION

John gives a the low down on the Kontraband expansion for Zona Alfa, and a prize winning battle report on one of the scenarios from the book.  

John tells us “There’s a competition on the F/B page for battle reports. I sent a copy of the article to the rules author and I’ve won a copy of the rule book signed by the author and illustrator.”

Zona Alfa was published by Osprey in early 2020. It’s a skirmish game set in the Chernobyl exclusion zone where teams battle for salvage and hope to survive. I’d hoped to play it at the club, then along came the pandemic. The author supports the game well via the Stalker 7 website and solo or Coop rules were soon developed, where the player games against the zone itself rather than a physical opponent. I’ve posted 3 battle reports here and you can check out Guerrilla Miniature Games U Tube channel where a full 7 game campaign is played out. These rules are highly recommended.

Kontraband is an 80 page expansion to the Zona Alfa ruleset (which you will need to play Kontraband), available through Amazon as hardcopy or Wargames Vault as a pdf. It develops the ideas above to take the game in a different direction, recommending a play area of 3’ x 3’ and a crew of 4 veterans. It is set deep in the Exclusion Zone at high threat level so it’s worth playing through a few standard Zona Alfa games before diving in. Here’s what’s in the book.

Crew Members.

Crew members can either be Stalkers – good at combat or Scientists – good at technical tasks, a further option is to include a dog companion for which there are detailed rules and additional rules for Hazmat suits. Each crew member can have different equipment or skills so it’s worth spending the time to make them complementary.

Zone Setting.

The play area is populated with a recommended nine searchable locations (points of interest). The crew have to live off the land so these need to be searched for food, drink, ammo etc. to sustain the crew for the next game. There are 20 points of interest cards from which the 9 are randomly selected, shuffled and placed as an Incident Deck, the top card being revealed when a point of interest is searched. These cards are nearly all bad news and may spawn a zone hostile within close combat distance, dangerous plants or booby traps. There is a greater emphasis on melee combat than in Zona Alfa.

The objective of the game is to search Anomalies to retrieve artifacts (the recommended goal for a campaign being 12 artifacts). It is recommended that the play area for a game has 3 Anomalies to search. The rules for anomalies are fleshed out and there are options for different area effects if the anomaly search goes wrong – four ways to die. Models can be caught in a gravity force field, electrocuted, blasted or teleported away from the anomaly.

There is no game turn limit, the risk of staying in a dangerous area is handled by zone events. Starting on the second move, and becoming more likely with each subsequent move, there is a risk of a zone event, for example: an energy wave, vermin stampede, security patrol, angry mutant or anomaly movement to ruin your day.

New Stuff

This covers a better way of dealing with wounds than the original rule book, there are new weapons and accessories with better options for melee combat. Zone hostiles can be made more dangerous and the concept of fatigue and obsessions are introduced. In Zona Alfa, progression is covered from Rookie through to Veteran. In Kontraband, crew members can add sixth sense, extra toughness, and an additional skill after a number of survived missions.

Missions and Expeditions.

There are 6 separate mission ideas for pick- up games or to link together to form an expedition and a sample expedition of 5 missions in the rulebook. So whilst waiting for some new figures, I decided to try out the reconnaissance mission.

Here is the table layout with 9 POI (blank dice) and 3 anomalies (Spheres), the crew will enter at the bottom RH  corner. Their mission is to search the 4 POI at the corners as a minimum, destroying all Zone Hostiles and retrieving samples from any of the corner POI which contain a hazard. I selected a crew with 3 Stalkers and 1 Scientist.

Turn 1.

For the first turn the crew will check out the POI closest to their entry point, the abandoned farm equipment. Each crew member can have three actions per turn and it’s worth using one action “alert” to provide overwatch for the Searcher. The top card from the Incident deck is revealed.

Here the vermin swarm is spawned by using a D10. The dice roll number is the distance in inches/2 from the POI and the facing gives the direction. The Leader (Nimzo), with the steady hands skill and a red dot sight has one action before the swarm can charge into the nearest model and attack it. They are destroyed.

Had the incident card been a bandit ambush, it’s likely that one or more crew members would have been out of action on turn one, unless crew members are on alert to take pre-emptive action.

The Searcher (Ali) has the scrounger skill so can search the POI twice, He secures rations, water and ammo which the crew will need for the next mission – in the game you have to think about the future as well as the present.

Turn 2

At each turn after turn 1 a D10 is rolled. The die roll is added to the turn number and if the result is greater than 10, a zone event occurs the subsequent turn. No zone event for turn 3.

The crew head up the board and Sukova (a Scientist) is best equipped to search the anomaly, which she does.

Here, a skill roll of 8 would normally fail but Sukova is equipped with a Detector which gives her a +2 bonus and she recovers an artefact, which would count towards a campaign goal.

Turn 3

A zone event, an anomaly shift will take place at the start of turn 4. The crew move up to the top RH corner of the board to search the POI, next turn. This will not affect the crew as they will be out of range.

Turn 4

No zone event is rolled. Spassky (Bounty Hunter) checks the POI – not the best option. The card reveals a zone hazard ‘Spores and Spitters’. He survives one attack and retrieves a sample from the POI.

Turn 5

The zone event roll results in an Alpha Predator entering the board at the start of turn 6.

The crew move towards the POI at the top left hand corner of the board but reserve an alert action to use against the Predator when it enters the board. Where possible, they move into cover, this will give protection against the attacking Predator which has Ranged and Melee combat abilities

Turn 6

An area emission effect will arrive at the start of turn 7

The predator enters, this is a dangerous opponent with high armour value. Ruined buildings prevent a direct attack route and it is forced wide and after 3 movement actions it has none left to attack the crew. It’s the crew’s turn and Ali fires the grenade launcher and scores one wound. The Leader gives him an extra action to get into cover. Spassky with Steady hands and a Red Dot sight on his battle rifle fires at the predator. It takes 3 firing actions but the predator is downed. Spassky is stuck in the open.

Turn 7

The Zone event roll results in another Alpha predator arriving. Things are not good for Spassky. He takes the full force of the Zone emission, he’s pinned and wounded and it takes all his actions to recover. Nimzo gives him an action to go on alert. The rest of the team move round to deal with the Predator when it enters.

Turn 8

The zone event roll brings up another zone emission at the start of the next turn.

The Predator enters, Ali fires a grenade which causes one wound, whilst Nimzo causes another. Spassky lobs a smoke grenade at the Predator which has to take a will check. It rolls a 10. This is an automatic pin and the will failure adds another. It will take 2 actions to remove the pinned counter but the Predator will still be able to attack Spassky once when it emerges from the smoke.

It’s a straight roll off, Spassky has the knife man skill and is armed with a Trench knife. Both adversaries roll a hit. Spassky could use his roll to parry the attack from the Predator but he’s a Bounty Hunter. Both take a wound and the Predator is destroyed.

Ali makes it to the thicket which holds the POI they must search for. Sukova manages to search a second anomaly and  grab an artefact before ducking into cover. Nimzo orders Spassky to seek cover under farm machinery. Nimzo joins him there to apply a med kit.

Turn 9

The zone event for the next turn is another Alfa Predator

This turn, the effect of the zone emission is negated because all crew members are in cover. Nimzo and Spassky go on alert whilst Sukova searches a POI, which reveals a mutant.

The mutant spawns 4 inches away from the POI and is downed by Spassky. Sukova retrieves some ‘hotload’ ammo for the crew.

Meanwhile Ali’s search triggers a Zone Hazard  – cobwebs.

Ali avoids the effect of the Zone Hazard, collecting a sample and retrieves a Lithium battery, Med Kit and heavy weapons reload. He will need this for the grenade launcher next mission.

Nimzo gives Ali an extra action so he can go on alert and get in position to attack the Predator the next turn

Turn 10

The zone event for move 11 is another zone emission.

The Predator enters but the crew are ready. Ali fires a grenade causing one wound and Spassky finishes it off with two shoot actions, the extra damage from his AS Val battle rifle proving crucial. In their move, the crew race towards the final POI that needs to be searched to complete the mission. They duck into cover to avoid the effect of the emission. Ali moves slower as he is slowed down by the heavy weapon.

Turn 11

The zone event for move 12 is the arrival of a Spetsnaz zone patrol

The zone emission has no effect and the crew continue towards the final POI. Spassky searches the POI – Marsh gas, if he fails the will check, he will fire at the nearest crew member! He passes and collects a sample having an action to clear the board. The rest of the crew follow, Ali needs to take a swig of Electric Juice to give him the extra action before the Zone Patrol enters.

The incident packed game had taken just over 90 minutes, a bit longer to make commentary notes and photos. I really enjoyed the game which adds extra detail to the Zona Alfa ruleset. I’ve played this scenario 4 times now, each game was different and challenging. I’d recommend this game to all players- whether you are a regular player or a sceptic who felt the original game wasn’t for them.

Reflections

Zona Alfa and Kontraband are well supported by the author who has answered any queries or clarification promptly. The Facebook page is an excellent and supportive source for the game, no bitchy point scorers on this site which is refreshing compared to other wargaming Facebook pages I subscribe to.

 

What a (Grav)Tanker!

Marcus presents a Sci Fi rules adaption and game report…

Ever since I picked up “What a Tanker” (WAT) from Two Fat Lardies I have been thinking about a sci-fi adaptation. I have always felt something lacking in the various large-scale sci-fi sets I have played. Ground Zero’s Dirtside Two was the first, and is probably still my favourite, but none quite deliver what I want. This may have more to do with my personal tastes than any merit in the various rule sets I have tried.

I have been playing WAT with my children using sci-fi vehicles as my 15mm World War Two western desert tanks have languished un-painted for years. The boys really like this game and we have played it a few times with around three vehicles a side. The time now seemed right to try out my sci-fi ideas.

My inspirations for this version stem from two sources. Firstly, Jon Tuffley’s “Full Thrust” source book “More Thrust” which contains the first rules for the Sa’vasku aliens. From the first time I read them I was intrigued by these. They feature a simple system of power allocation based on a number of dice rolled for the size/power plant of these “living bio-ships”. Perhaps because my first exposure to Sci-Fi was “Star Trek”, the idea of switching power between the three core systems; attack, defence and movement resonates strongly with me.

Secondly, “Silent Death” a system for space fighter combat by Iron Crown Enterprises utilizes a system in which the same dice are read in different ways to determine hits and resolve damage.

I set up a very rough proof of concept game based on these “back of a postcard” ideas. One minor difference was to change the roles allocated to the dice in the WAT “hand”. I didn’t want 6 to be wild; rolls of multiple sixes would be increasingly powerful. I opted for the following:

        1. Wild
        2. Acquire target
        3. Aim
        4. Shoot
        5. Reload
        6. Move

For Sci-Fi games, I am not sure reload is the right option, but for the moment I left it in.

Vehicle stats:

For my previous games, I just chose the stats from particular WW2 and assigned them to Sci-Fi models. This time each vehicle would have a max level of power that could be used by each system with a +/- “free” bonus. The concept was that the bonus applied as soon as any power is allocated to that system. In fact, I somehow ended up playing it that the bonus applied only when the maximum allocation was applied. Special characteristics can also be added, but in this game, I only assigned one.

British:

Core Dice Max Attack Defence Movement
“Callisto” Gunboat 6 15 (+5 bonus) 8 6
Chieftain 5 13 (+2 bonus) 7 11
Ferret* 4 8 5 (-1) 15 (+3)

*Manoeuvrable. Doesn’t pay for turns

New Aryan Union (Sci-Fi Nazi’s):

Core Dice Max Attack Defence Movement
Pz. 37 “Wespe” 6 15 (+2 bonus) 10 (+2) 10

The British started with 3 Chieftains, 2 Ferrets and the Callisto.

The British forces, the Chieftains follow up Callisto flanked by the Ferrets.

The NAU with 2 sections of three Wespen.

The NAU Pz 37 Wespen

The notional objective for the British was to get the Callisto off the far river edge. The NAU needed to prevent this.

To decide activation order I used a set of dice, one for each vehicle on each side. All vehicles were marked with a coloured sticker which corresponded to a dice. Each side rolled its individually coloured dice to determine precedence. In the spirit of reading the same die in two different ways. I added up each sides dice. This determined initiative. In the case of any draw (e.g., vehicles on both sides rolling 6’s) the side with the initiative would move first (or defer, although I didn’t choose to use this option in the game)

As I was using a simplified system, the defence dice were considered energy shield which had the same effectiveness from any angle. I would probably develop this along the lines of Full Thrust and say that due to drive mechanics, the rear cannot be as effectively shielded, but not this time.

Vehicles were considered to be able to take up to half their core dice value in critical hits (6’s), although I didn’t give critical hits specific locations/effects this time in aid of simplicity. More than half the core value in critical hits destroys the vehicle. A hit of 5 would just reduce the current core dice level. 5’s could be repaired but not 6’s. In addition, any 6 rolled could “explode”. Each was re-rolled to see if a further 6 resulted. If so, a further roll would be required, and so on.

Firing within 6 hexes resulted in a close-range bonus of +1 to each die rolled.

The mat I used for this game was a present bought for me a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t previously used it as my table isn’t big enough. Today it was pressed (apologies that it wasn’t pressed beforehand, and you can see the fold lines. It was an impromptu game!) into service on my eldest son’s bedroom floor while he was at school. It is from Tiny Wargames. I hoped it would be a useful generic mat for air games either around the Pacific or Far East. I also had half an eye on games like this where I could use my gunboats.

A note on the models. They are a bit vintage. The Callisto is from GZG (slightly modified with a turret from Ral Partha which has again been converted from a single to dual cannon). The other vehicles are all from grav versions of miniatures from Scotia Micro Models sci-fi range. The Chieftains are Abrams 4000 (SF0022); Ferrets are Merkava 4000s (SF0031) with Bradley 4000 turrets (SF0049). The Wespen are Challenger 4000s (SF0028). The stands were home made many years ago. I usually use clear Lego or clear acrylic bases now.

A drone shot over the delta at the start of the game.

A drone shot over the delta at the start of the game. British forces on the left, NAU on the right.

And from the British perspective.

The British Ferrets leading the Chieftains and Callisto

Turn 1:

The NAU took the initiative and on their third activation “red” Wespe opened fire on the British orange Ferret achieving a 665, however, these were all blocked by defensive die rolls. Subsequently the “Callisto” opened fire on the white Pz37. A 66665 from 20 destroyed the target. However, the NAU hit back with the green Pz37 destroying the British blue Ferret.

Blue Ferret destroyed

NAU orange gets a 6555 on British red Chieftain, of which two are blocked leaving 2 hits. The NAU blue Wespe gets a very big roll of 30 (665544), but with no acquisition or aim dice it is not worth much except to power a solid defence. By contrast, British yellow Cheiftain rolls a 66111. With 3 wild dice, and a total of just 15 energy points, the Brit can post Att: 9 Def: 4 Move: 2. Those 9 dice yielded a 66665. Despite a defensive roll of what would normally be a respectable 6555, NAU blue loses 3 core dice.

At the end of turn one it’s about even. Only the Brits have lost a vehicle but also have one damaged, while NAU have two damaged.

Situation at the end of turn 1

Turn 2:

Early on neither NAU orange Wespe nor the “Callisto” make significant actions despite big rolls. British green Cheiftain then gets four hits on the red Pz37 with a 6655, but these are all blocked. This then launches a fierce attack on the British red Chieftain with a 6665. The Chieftain can’t block any and explodes into an incandescent ball of gas. Neither NAU green nor yellow can engage a target, but the little orange Ferret moves within 6 hexes of a target to get a bonus of +1 per dice and 6655 for 4 hits, but these are all blocked! The yellow Chieftain inflicts 2 hits on the yellow Pz37 to wrap up the turn, although NAU blue Wespe manages to repair a core die at the end.

The turn ends with another loss for the Brits; now down to a Ferret and 2 Chieftains plus the “Callisto”. The NAU have taken damage though, but it isn’t enough when some of that is being repaired. It’s not over yet though.

Situation at the end of turn 2

Turn 3:

The green Wespe is blocked from targeting the British yellow Chieftain and turns on the orange Ferret: A roll of 555211 gives two wilds allowing an acquisition, aim and shot. With an attack of 17 (max dice of 15 plus 2) the NAU gunner gets a statistic busting 66666555. The target can only block a 6/5. BOOM! Another Brit gone. NAU Wespe blue now acquires and aims at the “Callisto”, but can’t open fire. It is a similar story for The British green Cheiftain. NAU red inflicts a 66555 on the British yellow Chieftain. It blocks 2 hits but leaves the 2 crits and another hit!

British Yellow Chieftain takes damage

“Callisto” now gets to respond with a 665421. The wild is used as a 3 to aim with a shot of a maximum 20 dice (15 max allocation +5 bonus; it’s a twin turret!)  But the 666555 are all blocked by the maximum 12 defensive dice.

As the turn ends there is finally something to cheer for the Brits. Yellow Cheiftain, already having an acquisition and aim on his NAU opposite, adds an additional aim for a bonus. A 15 dice attack results in an astonishing 666666 5555. 6 defensive dice just aren’t going to be enough…BOOM!

NAU Yellow Wespe brews up

Turn 4:

Despite the earth-shaking destruction of NAU yellow Wespe, things are slowly deteriorating for the Brits.  As turn four begins NAU orange, having previously acquired the Brit yellow Chieftain rolled a hand of 533311. Using both wild dice as 4’s allowed a shoot, reload, shoot action. Amazingly, of the 20 dice rolled resulting in 6666 5555, only one 5 wasn’t blocked for one damage on the Brit. And now Callisto responded in kind. Having previously acquired the orange aggressor a 655443 allowed another double shot, but this time at 20 each. Of the 66 5555555 resulting hits, only two were blocked for another titanic explosion!

For a moment it seemed like the Brits could claw their way back into the fight as NAU greens attack on the Callisto is blocked and red can’t get a shot. However, NAU blue rolls up a 543221. This means that blue can acquire, aim, shoot, reload and shoot again with the wild die as an additional 4. Two crashing volleys later, although the Callisto blocked 7 hits, 2 criticals and another hit landed.

Turn 5:

With the Callisto damaged and the initiative never having left the NAU, the red Wespe weighed in with a 655443, and having already acquired and aimed last turn the inevitable double shot resounded across the turgid green waters. Callisto was able to block the only two hits from the first volley and generate a repair, but hope turned to despair for the Brits when the second round of fire resulted in 666 5555. Could Callisto’s 8 defence dice hold up? BOOM! That would be a no.

Callisto is hit and destroyed.

I think that was a very interesting and quite exciting test of the basic mechanics of this variation on the Lardy rules. There are some things I might like to add; Range attenuation for the powerguns. I was thinking maybe reducing the power by one for each increment of range beyond the power level (i.e., Attack power 17. At 18 range the power would reduce by 1. At 19 by 2.) Also, WAT has some cards which are awarded for on table success. I didn’t use them this time but this feature could be used to add sci-fi flavour. Finally, Full Thrust utilises a capacitor where some power, probably equivalent to core dice level, can be held over to the next turn.

I remain unsure about the reload option, but less so. It worked quite well in the game, and I saw it each attack not as a single shot, but as a volley, which would fit in with automatic reloads. So, the reload is less actually reloading than preparation to fire another fusillade.

The three surviving NAU Pz 37 Wespen

As I failed to clearly define in my own mind whether vehicles could take half their core dice value or need to take more than half, this was an error on my part that impacted on the game. Deciding at the point in turn 1 where the NAU blue took 3 hits that it would survive (that hits should exceed half the core dice level) weighed significantly in the NAU’s favour.

The game came in around the three-hour mark, but then I was having to work it out as I went along and write it up, while moving about on the floor instead of a table. Overall, I was very pleased with how this variation on the rules worked. Maybe another test soon. Hopefully on a table…

Richie Pays a visit

John reports on A Border Reiver Skirmish using En Garde Rules…

Introduction

I’d always been interested in this period since before I started wargaming. Picking up  George MacDonald Fraser’s book ‘The Steel Bonnets’ fired my enthusiasm , I started with modified Redoubt figures and scratch built some buildings and it became a club game for 2002. I sold off figures and buildings to purchase a collection of Outpost figures which promptly gathered dust. The advent of Osprey En Garde rules and finding I have links to two Border Reiver families sparked the flame again.

The Border Reivers occupy a unique position in British history. Before the Union of England and Scotland, the area between the nations was effectively a buffer state with it’s own set of rules. Over population and depredations from either nation took its toll. Cattle rustling, kidnap and blackmail ( in its original sense a protection racket) became commonplace. Fortified buildings, the simplest being a two storey Bastle house, of which there are more than 900, provided some shelter from Reivers who became very skilled in their craft and earned them the reputation of being the finest light horsemen in Europe.

En Garde is an Osprey blue book set of rules for small scale swashbuckling skirmish games for about 20 figures maximum. Each figure has a stat line which provides its rank which can range from peasant to Headman. The higher the rank, the more capable the figure. Each figure has a combat pool (cp) for hand to hand combat. When this takes place, the figure is allocated a number of chits for either attack or defence, which allow the figure to use ploys such as riposte and feint to give a sword fight feel. The higher the cp value, the more attack or defence options for the figure. Each figure has an initiative value which is a dice roll modifier to determine which gets the first hit in. Fight and Shoot stats give modifiers to the attack and AR is an armour protection value. Finally, higher ranked figures can add attributes for example beguiling means that an opponent is less likely to attack the figure, afraid of the consequences. All these features allow the player to develop the character of a figure. A bit like role playing.

The Game

Set up

This scenario is set in the late 16th century Border between Scotland and England about 8 miles east of Carlisle. Richie Graham of Brackenhill (Brackenhill Tower still stands and is a successful self-catering holiday retreat) runs a successful blackmail business. The Bells of Gilsland have failed to make payment and Richie and the blackmailers decide to teach them a lesson. Richie sits in the top three all-time Border bad guys and he’s accompanied by Thomas ‘The Merchant’ Hetherington (possible distant relative of the author) who collected blackmail payments on his behalf.

Forces

 

Terrain

Bastle house with Barnkin wall containing cattle in the centre of a 3’ square board. One boulder close to the bastle, two patches of Heather in the corners and a Long house with fencing containing sheep.

Time and Weather

Weather – a 6 is rolled which is wind and rain. Line of sight reduced to 24” and all shooting has a -1 modifier

Time of day – a 3 is rolled which is dusk. Line of sight reduced to 18”

Typical conditions for a border raid!

The Bell reivers, Willie Red Cloak’s wife and young son (both classed as peasant) are in the Bastle. Two peasants are in the Long House

Move 1

The Bells win initiative and Jamie fires through the window at the leading Graham. He rolls 4 and 2. +1 for skill, – 1 for weather, – 1 >12” away. Gives a score of 5. He needs more than 6 to cause a wound so it’s a fail. Willie runs to take cover behind the Barnkin wall. There is not enough room for all the gang so Richie does an ordered run into the cover provided by the heather.

Move 2

The Bells win initiative. Jamie concentrates his aim on the Barnkin gate. Bell’s son is sent to light the warning beacon beside the bastle. Richie orders a group move and the Grahams run around the Barnkin wall.

Move 3

The Grahams win the initiative and continue to run around the Barnkin wall. As they pass the gate, Jamie Bell fires at Wat. He rolls a 9 +1 for aimed shot, +1 for skill – 1 for weather -1 for the gate – 2 for distance gives a score of 7 A hit is scored but the armour saves Wat.

Move 4

The son is in serious danger but the Bells win the initiative. The boy gets back inside the Bastle and the drawbar is slammed shut behind the door. The Grahams prepare “Fire to the Door”. They are going to smoke out the Bells, this tactic was known as “scum fishing”.

Move 5

The Bells win initiative and a group move is ordered for the armed Bells to descend the ladder into the Barnkin and take on the Grahams directly. This is overheard by the Grahams and a group move is ordered to the gate with Jock of the Peartree (crack shot) in the lead. He waits by the gate looking for a target. Thomas (The Merchant Hetherington) waits by the ground floor door to make sure the smoke builds up. Screams from inside the Bastle alert the two peasants in the long house who move, just out of view towards Thomas.

Move 6

The Bells win initiative and move towards the Barnkin gate. Its slippery, the cows are in the way so only a short move is possible. Jock of the Peartree fires his latch and rolls a double 1! The latch bolt is stuck and Jock will have to spend a move clearing the latch to fire again. Wat attempts to climb over the wall but fails his dexterity roll and falls, grazing his shins.

Move 7

The Grahams win initiative. Archie fires at Davy. He rolls 6 and 6  = 12 – 1 for weather = 11 – 6 = 5 a hit has been scored. Davy’s armour is 1 plus 1 for the shield = 2. Final wound score = 3. A light wound. Willie Bell opens the gate and moves into combat with Wat.  Willie’s combat pool is DDDA (where D is defence, A is attack) in Case Richie attacks. He rolls 8 + 4 for his fight ability = 12. Wat defends his combat pool is DD. He rolls 6 + 2 for his fight ability. A wound is caused to Wat but his armour saves 2 and it’s a light wound. Richie attacks Willie with a combat pool of ADDD He rolls 10 + 4 fight ability gives a total score of 14. Willie rolls a 5 from 2 dice attempting a parry and using one of his remaining defence chits,  +4 for fight ability = 9. A difference of 5. Willie has an armour of 3 giving a wound score of 2 a light wound. There are no more attack chits available so combat ends for the turn.

Move 8

The Grahams win initiative. Jock fires at Davy. He rolls 11 + 2 for sharpshooter -1 for weather -6 = 6. A wound has been caused. Davy has an armour of 2 which gives a final score of 4 a Grievous wound. When this is combined with the light wound he is killed. Because Willie has a light wound, Richie has the initiative and launches an attack and goes for the subdue option. If he can kidnap Willie Bell, He could get a ransom and the outstanding blackmail payments. Willie uses his Weapon Master attribute to attempt a riposte.

On two dice Richie rolls 7, not great. Willie only rolls 1, a difference of 6. Willie already has a light wound so his combat factor is reduced to 3 a difference of 7. A subdue attack is a -1 modifier and Willies armour is 3. A final score of 3 another light wound. Two light wounds become one grievous wound and Willie is subdued.

It looks grim for the Bells now. Ritchie has his dagger at Willie’s throat and a retreat would be covered by the two latchmen. Meanwhile at the Bastle door, Thomas the Merchant is fighting off the two farm hands. His combat pool is ADD He attacks one of the farm hands whose combat pool is D. He rolls 8 with two dice plus a combat factor of 3 = 11. The Farmhand rolls 10 with two dice but with no armour, a hit is scored. The farmhand is stunned. The second farmhand attacks He rolls 5 from two dice but Thomas only manages 2 from two dice. His fight skill of 3 saves the day and as there are no attack chits left combat ends for the turn.

The Bells now need to take a morale test they need to roll under 7 on a modified roll of two dice. They roll 3 and pass.

Move 9

The initiative roll is tied but the Grahams have a higher initiative leader now so win the initiative. Thomas goes on the offensive with AAA in his combat pool against the farmhands. He attacks the unwounded farmhand and rolls 11 The Farmhand Combat pool D rolls 4 from two dice and dies. Thomas then attacks the remaining farmhand who is already wounded. Thomas rolls 5 + 3 for fight = 8. The farmhand rolls 6 – 1 fight value for already wounded. It’s a second light wound and this now becomes grievous.

It’s all over and the Grahams win the day. It’s going to be a long hard winter for the Bells!

We’ve played a few games at the club and it’s a game I’m keen to bring back once we are allowed to meet again. I’m keen to run a mini campaign involving two feuding families a group of outlaws known as ‘Mad Meg’s Bairns’ and the Hebburn garrison (complete with sleuth hounds).