April 9th, 1940

Alan K reports on his anniversary refight of the ‘battle’ of Hokkerup, Denmark, on April 9th, 1940.

Some time in March I suddenly realised that our first club meeting would be on the 9th of April, the anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Denmark in 1940. Having “invested” in a platoon of 28mm Danes from Great Escape Games I really didn’t want to miss the opportunity and so I put on a game based around a skirmish that took place near Hokkerup on the Jutland peninsula.

The encounter we were commemorating, the ambush of a leading German reconnaissance unit, was captured in a 1946 painting by Anna Maria Mehrn which was, in part, the inspiration for choosing this particular scenario along with a scene (likely inspired by this engagement) from the Danish movie 9. april. We’re not sure about the copyright of the painting so we’re not including it, but here’s a link to it.

The Danish army went on full alert at 13:30 on the 8th of April and were held back ready to take up positions in the event of a German invasion. A thorough reconnaissance had been made regarding defensive positions but the Danish government had given strict instructions that units were not to be deployed near the border nor was digging or other fortification to be undertaken in order to avoid provoking the Germans. Despite this the Germans crossed the border at around twenty past four on the morning of the 9th.

Our intrepid 3rd bicycle platoon of the 2nd Company, 4th Cyclist Battalion supported by the autocannon and light machine gun sections of the 2nd platoon Afværgekompagniet (Anti-tank Company) , 2nd Battalion, Fodfolkspionerkommandoet set off from their barracks at just after four thirty and took up positions just after 5am. They hastily erected a roadblock before sighting the armoured cars leading the German column at half past five.

Lieutenant H.J. Højerslev had overall command with Second Lieutenant A. Olsen commanding the anti-tank sections. The team manning the 20mm auto cannon was led by F Jensen, accompanied by Gunner Nørholt and Loader Eliasen as immortalised in the painting.

The opposition is less well documented so I had them facing two SdKfz 222 armoured cars, a motorcycle section and two more sections mounted in SdKfz 251 half-tracks supported by a Panzer II.

I used the Nuts! second edition rules from Two Hour Wargames for the game.

The encounter saw the Danish auto cannon taking out both of the armoured cars and the advancing German infantry taking heavy fire. In the end the Danes were forced to withdraw but they had delayed the Germans significantly.

In the end the game lasted almost as long as the entire Danish resistance as, despite the valiant defence put up by the Danish armed forces against overwhelming odds, the Government surrendered at just after half past eight in the morning.

Are These The Droids You’re Looking For?

Over the last 12 months or so Phil and I have been assembling a variety of figures and vehicles – mostly repurposed toys – aimed at playing Star Wars games in 15mm (many of them have turned up in WIP Wednesday posts).

The Christmas meeting seemed like the ideal time to give them their debut, so I put together a simple scenario. I’d been unsure about what rules to use – I had a copy of the classic West End Games Star Wars miniatures rules as one option and another idea was to modify Games Workshop’s Middle Earth rules since they deal with heroes very effectively (using the magic rules to represent The Force). But I had an idea when I lined up some figures during painting – all of the figures were in squads of ten, which happens to be the same size as a crew in Stargrave. We’ve played a number of games since those were released, including during lockdowns when the club was unable to meet, so everyone was familiar with them which made them the ideal choice.

Figures
All of the figures in this game were from Highlander Studios in the US. For the five players we had two squads of Rebel troopers, two of Imperial stormtroopers and one of Jawas. There were also a few figures from the hero packs, including the droids and a couple of smugglers. The Jawas’ Ronto beast was a Galoob action fleet toy.

Buildings and Scenery
All of the buildings were put together by Phil from the Brigade Models 15mm Desert and Advanced Buildings ranges. The various walls and clutter around the buildings were also by Brigade. Some of the scatter terrain came from Debris of War. The desert mat came from Tiny Wargames.

Vehicles
The vehicles are sourced from a variety of toys and model kits. The Imperial stormtroopers flew in on a Galoob shuttle while the Rebels used a Revell U-Wing. The droids’ escape pod was also from Galoob, along with the skiff. The Falcon was another toy, it’s actually the wrong version (it’s from Solo and has the square radar) but I wasn’t too fussed about that, after all it looks like what it’s supposed to be, besides being much cheaper than any alternative I could find ! Luke’s landspeeder was a diecast model sourced from eBay, unfortunately I can’t remember the brand name. All of them came pre-painted, so were just given a wash of thinned black-brown acrylic mixed with Johnson’s floor polish, followed by a coat of Army Painter spray varnish – it’s amazing how this simple technique turns a toy into a scale model.

Scenario

Click for a larger version

The game is set at the start of the original Star Wars:A New Hope movie. R2-D2 and C-3PO have been ejected in an escape pod over Tatooine to keep them out of Imperial clutches, but here the story changes slightly. The Tantive IV has somehow evaded capture and has now despatched a shuttle full of Rebel troopers in a desperate bid to recover them. The Imperial Star Destroyer also spotted the pod, and sent down their own landing party to investigate. Both craft came down a short distance apart on the outskirts of Mos Eisley.

The game was intended for five players – two Rebels, two Imperials and myself playing the Jawas while also acting as a vaguely impartial umpire.

The players needed to search the buildings to find the droids – but there were other things in the buildings besides Artoo and Threepio. Each building had a random set of inhabitants, including Rebel sympathisers, Imperial loyalists and a pair of smugglers – plus the droids of course. Although I randomly rolled each time one of the buildings was searched, things were ‘fixed’ so that the droids would be in the last building to be searched.

The Rebels came out of the traps much more quickly than the stormtroopers – their lightly armoured figures moved slightly faster – and began searching the first buildings straightaway. They uncovered a pair of Imperial loyalists in the first building but made short work of them. However, nearby firing upset the Ronto which stampeded, and one Rebel squad ended up in a firefight with some Jawas (which inevitably ended badly for the locals).

The Imperials slow-but-steady approach saw them unearthing some Rebel sympathisers, whose appearance was brief as they disappeared under a hail of fire. The two forces were by now engaging each other, and the slightly better armour and longer-ranged weapons of the Stormtroopers began to be significant. They unearthed a pair of Sabacc-playing smugglers – Han and Chewie made a dash for the Falcon (obviously wishing to avoid any ‘Imperial entanglements’) but Han was immediately gunned down as they tried to cross the square. Chewie’s bowcaster dealt out some measure of revenge, but eventually the Wookie went down too.

By now the Rebels were searching the last building, and found the two droids. All they had to do was return them to their U-Wing and get off planet. However, they had taken more losses than the Imperials in getting to this point and numbers began to tell. One by one the Rebels were picked off by the steadily advancing line of Stormtroopers, until there was one Rebel trooper left. He got the droids virtually to the U-Wing’s ramp but fell at the final hurdle, allowing the Empire to snatch victory at the last.

Society Meeting 23rd April

The society meeting on St Georges Day did fittingly manage to include a dragon!

Andy ran a game of Dragon Rampant with the players hunting for treasure and ultimately a dragon rather than just engaging in battle.

There were also two games of Field of Glory at the meeting.

Skirmishers get into action in an ancient game of FoG in 15mm.

Not sure of the period for the other game but it was played in 6mm.

The last game being played was another play through of Galleys and Galleons.

Ships sailing along the coast, some of which have taken damage.

The entire seascape for the battle.

 

Society Meeting 9th April

April kicked off with a fairly quiet meeting. Three games were being played.
ALAN put on a WW2 game using the ruleset ‘Nuts!’. The meeting was actually the anniversary of an action involving Germany and Denmark in 1940.

Jeremey and Stephen finally managed to start their Wars of the Roses campaign.

Sword and Spear was the ruleset being used, in this first battle of St Albans with an historical twist seeing the house of Lancaster win the day.

The third game was another opportunity to test a future show game from Pete of Fallujah in 2004 using 20mm miniatures and Force on Force rules.

Don’t forget if you fancy coming to a meeting to see the society in action, check out the diary page and pick a day that interests you the most.

Society Meeting 26 March 2022

A quick round up of last weekend’s games…

First up above we have a game of Sails of Glory. This game uses pre-painted ships that are 1/1000 scale I believe.

There was a FoG game with hundred years war English vs a force of Catalans mercenaries.

Now we move into space with a game of Full Thrust. This saw the players having to complete a mission involving capture or destruction of some ships caught up next to a moon that’s collapsed. One of the fleets used was entirely scratchbuilt.

It seemed to be a day with ships of one sort or another. Other club members were trying out Galley and Galleons rules for a forthcoming campaign set in the Mediterranean in the 15th century using 1/2400 scale ships either metal or 3D printed.

The forces being represented in the campaign are Genoa, Venice, Knights of St John, Ottoman, Barbary States and the Mamluk Sultanate.

 

“Upping The Ante” – A Hammers Slammers Battle Report

Peter dives into the si-fi universe of David Drake.

“…And so, Major Kovacs, PRA Intelligence has confirmed that the rebel fanatics have used their mineral wealth to hire what looks like the whole Ariete Division (some 15,000 men) to back their ludicrous independence claims and rescue their faltering defence. It seems likely that they will try to strike at some of the outlying abandoned mine-workings before heading to the coastal plains, in part to get some more income but also to give our troops a ‘bloody nose’ in the hope that it’ll make the govt sue for peace. It is your mission, therefore, to buy some time whilst we organise a major push – and to show those ‘Arietes’ that Paley is not such an easy proposition!”

Saturday 12th March saw another game set in the SF universe of ‘Hammers Slammers’. The scenario this time was taken from the ‘Paley Campaign’, with rebel forces aided later on by the Mercenary ‘Ariete’ Division to try and turn the civil war in their favour.

The game represented a reinforced probe as ‘Ariete’ began their drive in a pincer aimed at the mining settlement of Smiricky VII, defended by elements of the PRA 7th Armoured Regt. Only short-range recce was available, as the PRA had not inconsiderable AA assets… The forces used were as follows:

Ariete Division, ‘Trieste’ Armoured Regt

2x ‘veteran’ armoured detachments, each of 10x TUs (Tactical Units)

  • Tank platoon = 2x ‘Cougar’ heavy MBTs, +1x ‘King Cougar’ super-heavy MBT
  • Mech infantry platoon = 3x ‘Lynx’ heavy APCs (one with large-calibre ‘close-support’ HE cannon), carrying 1x TU of heavy infantry
  • 1x medium ‘Puma’ tank (with upgraded main weapon and light ATGM)

Commanders

  • Captain Christopher Sime
  • Lt ‘Juan Cornetto’ Treadaway

PRA 7th Cavalry Regiment – ‘The Iron Fist in the Iron Glove’

2x ‘trained’ detachments, each of 15x TUs

  • Tank platoon = 4x F6 ‘Hellcat’ medium MBTs
  • Mechanised infantry platoon = 4x light F20 ‘Tigercat’ APCs, each with 1x TU of assault infantry
  • Support platoon with 2x F4 ‘Wildcat’ (AAA version), and 1x new F35 ‘Sabrecat’ mounting a large ex-naval cone-bore weapon as enhanced anti-tank
  • All vehicles, whilst lighter than their opponents, had decent frontal armour and plenty of anti-tank light ATGMs….

1‘Company HQ’ F100 ‘Top-cat’ which allowed for the redistribution of ‘action points’ between the two sub-commands (the other ‘guard’ vehicles and bridgelayer were just for show – this time).

Neither side had any off-table artillery assets (the PRA has an abundance of multiple-launch semi-guided rocket artillery, like WW2 ‘Katyushas’ or MLRS)

The ‘company HQ’, whilst certainly handy, was also an excuse to put some more nice models out. All of the vehicles were (sort-of) scratch built from other ranges – more of which anon. Meanwhile, what happened….?

Unfortunately, the main PRA player (your erstwhile webmaster, as it happens…) had caught COVID just before the game, and so yours truly had to sub. As the task was a fairly static one, however, with a purely reactive defence, it was not too bad. So, after initial briefings and extremely useful reminders of the key rules by JT, the PRA were deployed in hasty defensive positions across a wide general arc covering the four main roads in to the site. The undoubted qualitative advantage of the Mercenary Arietes – command/control as well as equipment – was offset to an extent by the close terrain and the PRA being in defence.

Captain Sime got off to a good start with his tank platoon crashing through the woods astride the NE track, whilst the armoured infantry skirted to come in from the north. Certainly his three tanks had a good view of the defenders – it’s just that it also worked the other way, as he found to his cost when one of the new self-propelled AT guns sent a (very lucky) round crashing through the side of the lead giant ‘King Cougar’, which promptly exploded!

Whilst this unfortunate set-back had more effect on the player’s morale than overall result, it did lead to a more cautious probing and longer-range ‘softening-up’ of defending infantry bunkers, other PRA vehicles etc (especially the SP/AT!), which in the end was more to the Ariete’s advantage. The PRA main weapons only had a decent chance if they could get some side-armour shots, and so were hoping to ‘mix-it’ when the enemy got closer.

As the Ariete gradually eroded the PRA armour, a late probe by the Heavy APCs almost came to grief when they were caught in a close-range cross-fire from one of the multi-barrelled SP/AAA and hidden PRA tank-hunter infantry in the mine buildings. Sadly by this time the PRA was running short of command points due to earlier losses, so could not afford the luxury of using said CP to enhance shooting, aiming etc, and the ambush came to naught. Well, other than generating lots of – fortunately small calibre – return fire from Chris into the buildings, until ‘Ariete HQ’ tactfully reminded him that they were supposed to not blow the bloody doors off the valuable mine workings……

On the NE flank, again the Ariete got off to a less than sparkling start when Lt Treadaway used a fistful of his command points in an attempt to execute a massed ‘Follow me!’ option, which would have seen half his force roll together as one in an unstoppable steel tide….. However, seems the tide was out that day as John failed the key roll and no-one else followed his lead! Not only that, but a probe down the road by a scout vehicle with an APC as backup came to grief when, having blown up some armoured trucks near the mine workings, they were ‘set-upon’ by another crossfire from the PRA tanks and SPs, from which only the infantry inside the APC survived.

As with the other flank, however, gradually the Ariete worked their way forward through the wooded terrain, taking out first the truly terrifying F35 SP/AT, then each of the PRA heavy armour in turn. There were some close shaves during return fire, and the sky was full of – fortunately – light ATGMs, for a while. In the end, the Ariete was simply too powerful and commanders good for the PRA engaged, and as they loss level tipped over the key 50% level, the PRA decided that their delaying mission had been achieved. It must also be said that the Ariete had gained a new respect as well as insight into the mettle of their PRA opponents, and much thought would need to go in to the next encounters.

Part 2 of this article will outline more about the terrain and especially vehicle models, together with all the scratch-building mania which went into this project. Until then, it’s a case of a geeky ‘spot the bits’ competition. Oh, and very big plus points for anyone who IDs the dark brown roads…

My thanks to my fellow MWS members for hosting the game, and both Chris and John for playing.

LINKS:
Hammers Slammers official website: http://www.hammers-slammers.com/

French Naval Actions of the First World War – 1915 in the Channel

Two short WW1 naval scenarios that we played out last year….

These were refights of two clashes that took place in August 1915 off the Middelkerke Bank, just out to sea from the French/Belgian border. Home grown computerised rules were used and each action took less than an hour to play out.

These were first surface actions between the newly formed German Torpedobootsflottille Flandern, based at Bruges, and the torpedo boats of the French Défense Mobile, charged with guarding the French side of the Dover Straits approaches from Dunkerque.

 

In the first action, which took place on 9 August 1915, two German TB’s, A.4 and A.16, spotted suspicious vessels steaming towards them from the direction of Dunkerque. They had been spotted by the small French TB’s 341 and 342, which were on outpost patrol and had steamed at full speed to investigate suspicious smoke.

The German boats were bigger and more heavily armed, but with very small targets and no fire control for their small calibre guns, they had to get very close to have a reasonable chance of getting hits and carefully time their fire for best effect.

A twisting turning action resulted with the boats jockeying for position, whilst having to avoid the shallow sand banks in the area.

The 341 got position first and fired a torpedo, which hit and sank A.4.

341 and 342 cashed in their luck and beat a hasty retreat as a third German boat, A.12, came up from the direction of Ostende to join the fight.

In the real world of 1915, the action had been short and indecisive. The Germans had broken off the action shortly after opening fire when an unidentified shore battery opened up on the scene.

However this was just a warm up for the German commanders, who were new to the rules. They chalked the result up to experience.

This set the scene for Scenario two, which took place in the same area.

Back in the real world of 1915, the French had beefed up their patrols as a result of the first incident. On the night of the 22nd, two Torpilleurs d’Escadre (small destroyers), Oriflamme and Branlebas, went out on an ambush patrol to the Middelkerke Bank Buoy. At 11pm they spotted the silhouette of a German boat in the darkness. This was A.15, inbound to Ostende.

In this refight A.15 was very badly outgunned by the French destroyers and too slow to escape them, so her only hope was to land a lucky torpedo hit. Learning from the first encounter, the players who were now in command of the French destroyers closed, holding their fire until they were close enough for their shots to tell, with a good stockpile of ready ammunition to hand. As they manoeuvred A.15 managed to get off a snapshot with one of her two torpedoes, but this missed Branlebas. The response was swift and decisive as first Oriflamme and then Branlebas opened a devastating fire, which quickly knocked out A.15’s only gun and her other intact torpedo tube. The lack of return fire told and a nasty list to port tipped them off to the amount of damage they had done. The French destroyers pressed in close to for the kill. A.15 finally sank beneath the waves.

The result was almost identical to the real life result, which saw Oriflamme and Branlebas press their attack and sink A.15 back in 1915, Oriflamme obtaining a hit with a torpedo. This was the third boat the German force had lost in action since being formed and highlighted the poor design of the A.1 class TBs. They were too weak to fight and too slow to run. It had been the first real opportunity for the Défense Mobile to engage enemy vessels since the war began and they had certainly seized it and driven their attack home. The German force in Bruges would need better boats if it was going to be able to successfully take on the British and French surface forces in the Channel.

Small scenarios like this often make for interesting games than large fleet actions that can get bogged down in big long range gun duels. The action/reaction nature of a night action is created by making each boat dice for initiative. Those with higher initiative get to choose whether to move before or after those with lower initiative.  If one side is more alert than the other a modifier can be applied. The boats used were 1/3000 scratchbuilds made from plastic card sheet and rod, except for Branlebas and Oriflamme, which were conversions from Navwar models of the earlier Arquebuse Class. The scale allows the game to be played out comfortably on a small table.

Encounter At Bishops Wyke

Stephen shares a report of a solo game fought over the Christmas break…

Over the Christmas period I fancied a game of something and thought I’d go with Outremer (from Osprey) – a nice, simple, game with about 10 figures or so a side.

The background behind the game is that it is early May 1264, the build up to the battle of Lewes. The forces of Simon de Montfort are advancing on St Pancras priory where king Henry III is holding out. Both sides send out scouting forces to spy on the opposition’s moves. And it is in the peaceful Sussex village of Bishops Wyke where the two sides encounter each other…

Sir Edward on the left and Sir Gregory on the right

The men of King Henry were led by Sir Edward Marsh and his men – a mix of archers, men at arms, spearmen, and the noted crossbow marksman ‘Big’ Eddie. De Montfort’s followers were led by Sir Gregory de Holt who also had a mix of archers, spearmen, and a pair of very capable swordsmen to bolster his forces – Balin of Brickenden and Howard de Shiel.

Sir Edward’s Forces Move Up

Gregory decided to shield his forces using his archer and crossbowman. He started in a difficult position, on the opposite side of a stream, meaning his levy would have to cross that and enter the village with little cover. Sir Edward’s group, on the other hand, had the cover of the churchyard and a cow field to screen their approach.

Sir Gregory Orders His Men Forward

Edward’s two archers – Ewan and Gamal – took up position behind the church wall and as Gregory’s men advanced, they let rip with their arrows and down went Gregory’s archer, Bernard of Calcote. Big Eddie took up a similar position on the field wall and, carefully levelling his crossbow, he took a shot and down went Amis Hughes, Gregory’s crossbowman. This left Gregory with no missile support!

Gregory’s Men Advance Across the Bridge Minus the Archers

Gregory’s other men, Balin, Howard, and Cedric Brooker chose to wade across the stream using the cover of one of the cottages to keep them protected from the deadly hail of arrows. With little respect for the farmer’s crop, they tramped through the cabbages and carrots.

Edward left his archers in their advantageous position (with a French mercenary, Raoul Allaire, to protect them in case they were charged) and led the rest of his levy around the other side of the same cottage that Howard and the others had moved behind.

Moving Around the Buildings.

Having lost both archer and crossbowman, it was obvious that Sir Gregory and his men would have to advance as quickly as possible or risk being picked off. To this end, Gregory’s spearmen made a quick move down the village lane. Big Eddie was loaded and ready, raised his crossbow and down went Gareth of Whitley. Raoul took command of Tankard Jenkins and Hallet Adkin and raced them forward to block Gregory’s men. This led to a clash between the two sides at the crossroads in the middle of the village.

Melee at the Crossroads.

Meanwhile, Sir Edward and his men came lurching around the side of the cottage, with Will Fuller charging into contact with Howard de Shiel. They swapped several blows and eventually Howard came out on top and down went Will. This fight drew Sir Gregory and Balin over to join the melee. This was clearly going to be the decisive fight between the two sides, with both drawing in more men to join the battle.

Balin Joins The Fight

At the crossroads the fight came to an end. Raoul Allaire’s experience had shown and he then called over to Big Eddie, Ewan, and Gamal to take them to the fight going on behind the cottage amid the vegetable patch.

Raoul Takes Down Carsen

Big Eddie and the archers formed a line, ready to drop any of Gregory’s men who were caught out alone, and Raoul came up behind Balin, swinging his flail, to take Balin by surprise. Raoul’s flail found its mark, but the blow was merely a glancing one with no harm to Balin, who then turned around to confront the Frenchman with a show of arms.

Raoul Attacks Balin From Behind

The fight behind the cottage carried on. One of Sir Edward’s men, John Manners, joined his lord with the attack on Sir Gregory. That didn’t look good, and Sir Gregory took a wound. But then Sir Gregory swung his sword and down went John bringing it back to a one-on-one between him and Sir Edward.

Carnage in the Cabbage Patch

Balin prevailed in his fight with Raoul, and the French mercenary also fell under the blows. But seeing the line of archers ready to let rip, Balin decided to quickly charge in before they let loose. Having seen how deadly Big Eddie had proved to be, Balin made him the target of his attack. Eddie may be handy with that crossbow, but not with a sword. And so down went Eddie. Before he could charge the others, Ewan and Gamal took aim with their bows and peppered Balin with arrows. Balin had proved a good, and essential, part of Sir Gregory’s force. But he was no more.

The Duel Between Edward and Gregory Still Rages

Sir Edward and Sir Gregory continued hacking at each other. Sir Gregory had been wounded but he evened the score – taking a chunk out of Sir Edward. Neither could take another wound so the next would be the victor.

But time was up. The turn limit had been reached. Maybe a distant clarion call could be heard, marking the sudden appearance of a major lord with a sizeable retinue. Either way, it was game up, and both sides could slope away and lick their wounds.

The encounter had been a slight victory for Sir Edward and his men.

The Barons’ War

Andy reports on a recent game, with snippets from Stephen:

At the second meeting in November Stephen and I tried out Footsore Miniature’s Barons’ War rules for the first time.

As it was our first foray with the rules, we decided to keep our armies small and set the armies at 500-points.

There are few limits on force composition, but your units do have to comply with the following limitations:

      • All members of a unit must have the same weapons, equipment and grade, with the exception that in Command units the Commander can be armed and equipped differently.
      • At least 10% of the points must be spent on Green troops
      • No more than 50% of the points may be spent on Command units.

My force comprised:

      • Command Unit of a Mounted Lord, with Pennant, and 3 Mounted Knights (Regular, 126 points)
      • Command Unit of a Veteran Mounted Sergeant and 3 Mounted Sergeants (Regular, 110 points)
      • Unit of 6 Spearmen (Regular, 120 points)
      • Unit of 5 Crossbowmen (Regular, 90 points)
      • Unit of 6 Bowmen (Green, 54 points)

So, my force had the requisite 10% of Green troops (54 points) and just under 50% of Command units (236 points).

Stephen’s force comprised:

      • Command unit of a veteran foot Lord (Sir Owain of Bangor) with 6 regular foot knights (204 points)
      • Unit of 6 regular spearmen (120 points)
      • Unit of 6 regular archers (102 points)
      • Unit of 6 green spearmen (72 points)

In these rules players take turns in activating a unit, with some conditions requiring that a unit takes a compulsory action before any unit takes a voluntary action. Most units can only take one action themselves, plus one action passed to them by an eligible command unit. Units which take more than one action become Weary, which affects combat. Command units can have 2 or 3 actions, one of which must be an action by the command unit itself, the others could be command actions passed to other units. We had some confusion about whether a Command Unit can command itself. But we worked it out and got it right in the end – they can’t because they use their actions on themselves as normal actions or reactions rather than commands.

The rules have 15 scenarios and a dozen deployment options, giving an extremely good variety of potential scenarios – well done Footsore!

We randomly chose the scenario and terrain for our games.

In our first game we played scenario 14 Stop the Messenger, in this scenario one player has to assign a message to a unit, and get that unit and message off the opposite table edge within 5 turns (a sixth turn is allowed if that would allow the messenger unit to escape). For this game we used deployment map 9:

Deployment 9

On our table a road ran down the central length with a number of buildings and fields to one side of the road and wooded areas on the other. In Barons War mounted units are not allowed to enter area terrain such as woods.

I won the die roll and elected to be the side with the message.

Stephen deployed his archers as far forward as he could, supported by his Green Spearmen. His Dismounted Knights were deployed to the Archer’s left, in the village area, and his Regular Spearmen deployed on his right flank.

I deployed my Spearmen on the road as far forward as I could within my deployment zone, immediately in front of Stephen’s bowmen. I placed my green bowmen on the village side of the road, and the crossbowmen on the wooded side. The Knights were on the road behind the Spearmen and the Mounted Sergeants (with the message) were behind the crossbowmen.

Due to deployment restrictions Stephen was able to deduce that the message was with either the Knights, Mounted Sergeants or Crossbowmen, so he knew where to focus his efforts.

Stephen won initiative on the first turn and loosed arrows at my Spearmen to little effect. (Stephen: not that I’m getting the excuses in or anything, but the dice rolling was a bit one-sided)

On my first activation I charged my Spearmen into Stephen’s bowmen killing a couple of them and forcing them back. Stephen’s foot Knights advanced and my bowmen loosed at them initially with their own action, and then for a second time when ordered to do so by the Mounted Lord. Initially we forgot to perform the morale tests to determine whether the receiving unit acted on the order given (it was our first game, Stephen: – and we continued to forget to do this all day, even after we realised we’d forgotten to do this!). Despite being wearied by the two actions the archers did cause some casualties on Stephen’s Knights. Both of us advanced our other units.

On the second turn my Spearmen charged Stephen’s bowmen killing a couple more but suffering a loss in return. (Stephen: it’s worth pointing out that in the game a roll of 10 by the attacker can only be defended by a roll of 10. All day Andy rolled lots of 10s and I didn’t…)

The crossbows had line of sight to one of Stephen’s units of Spearmen and loosed bolts at them. Stephen moved his Green Spearmen to support his Regulars, expecting I would send the Knights or Sergeants forward with the message. (Stephen: for the life of me I can’t think why I positioned my regular spearmen right at the back when all my other troops had been deployed forward. They spent the game trying to advance, from a distance, against Andy’s crossbows and demon dice-rolling. The inevitable happened)

Andy’s spearmen force back Stephen’s archers

On the third turn Stephen advanced his Foot Knights over a wall and hedge advancing on my Green Archers, who responded with a flight of arrows despatching another Knight.

Andy’s green bowmen thinning out Stephen’s Welsh Knights

Following another round of archery, the Knights failed their subsequent morale test and decided caution was the better part of valour, heading for the nearest table edge. (Stephen: OK, OK, they were Broken and had to flee).

Stephen’s Welsh Knights run from the field.

The Mounted Sergeants and the Lord followed up the crossbows, urging them on.

Knights and sergeants urge the crossbows forward

On the next round Stephen’s Green Spearmen charged my Regular Spearmen, only to be thrown back with casualties and also failing their Morale test.

Spearmen charge each other

My crossbowmen advanced, with the Sergeants and Knights following.

English knights skulking around the back

On the fourth round my Crossbows moved out of the path of the Sergeants, only for them to be charged by Stephen’s Regular Spearmen, a crossbowman fell, but they forced the Spearmen back with the Spearmen becoming Broken.

With their path now clear the Mounted Sergeants surged forwards with a run action, moving 16” towards the table edge.

At this point Stephen conceded the game. (Stephen: no point in being a damned fool about it when you know you’ve lost). Although I couldn’t quite get the Sergeants off the table in the fifth round, Stephen had nothing close enough to stop them and I could invoke the sixth round and escape the table.

For our second game Stephen decided to tweak his army, removing the unit of 6 Green Spearmen and adding a unit of 8 Green Bowmen (both worth 72 points). I kept the same army.

Our second game was Scenario 8, Take and Hold. We designated the three objectives, one near the centre of the table and the others roughly equal distances from our base edges. The victory conditions for this scenario are that at the end of each of the first four rounds a player controlling an objective accrues one victory point. At beginning of the fifth and final round control of an objective gains the holder 3 points.

We chose deployment option 3, using the long edges as our deployment zones, each having one objective immediately under our control. We left the table layout pretty much as for the first game.

Deployment 3

Stephen deployed his green archers in the middle of his deployment zone, opposite the central objective, with his regular archers to their right. (Stephen: I knew my two archer units would be in a strong position, able to take up a defensive stance behind a hedge, and then pepper Andy’s troops as they tried to capture the central objective). His lord and retinue of Knights deployed on a side road to the left, with his Spearmen further to the left among some farm buildings.

I deployed my Spearmen on one of the objectives, with the Lord to their right and the Crossbowmen further to the right. The Mounted Sergeants were roughly in the middle of the table, behind a wood separating them from the central objective, with my Green Bowmen to their left.

On the first turn I advanced my Crossbowmen to a wall at the side of the road and gave them a second action from the Lord to shoot at Stephen’s Spearmen, causing a casualty. My Sergeants advanced round the wood, but could not get quite close enough to claim victory points for the central objective. Stephen advanced his forces across the board.

On the second turn my Sergeants reached the central objective but Stephen’s archery forced my Mounted Sergeants back, (Stephen: see – I told you), so no points for me next turn. The Crossbowmen continued to pelt Stephen’s Spearmen forcing them back, but on the other flank my Green Bowmen were losing the duel with Stephen’s archers (Stephen: again, I told you so). Stephen managed to advance his central archers to the hedge separating the field from the road, and placing them within control distance of the central objective (the Celtic Cross).

Welsh archers draw bows to shoot Andy

On each of the first two rounds both of us claimed 1 VP each, so going into round 3 the score was 2 all.

At the beginning of the third round Stephen claimed points for both the central objective and the one nearest his baseline, taking a 1-point lead as I only received one VP.

Stephen’s foot knights advanced up the side road, and came within line of sight and range of my Lord, so I sent him and his escort charging forwards, only to lose the melee (Stephen: good old Sir Owain!) and be pushed back into my Spearmen pushing them off the objective I controlled. My Crossbowmen took a short move to get in a position where some of them could shoot at Stephen’s Knights, Shaking them and forcing them back down the side road.

On my left flank my Sergeants and Archers succumbed to Stephen’s archery (Stephen: yay!), leaving the left flank undefended.

However, as my last action of the turn I managed to charge my Spearmen into Stephen’s Bowmen holding the central objective forcing them back and taking it back under control. (Stephen: I knew my control of the central objective was tentative – it was controlled by my weakest troops (the green archers) and wouldn’t stand up to a charge).

At the start of the fourth round, I got the extra VP for controlling the central objective tying the score at 5 all.

My Lord charged forwards again, taking advantage of Stephen’s Knights Shaken status and forcing them further back down the side road. My Crossbowmen moved back to the wall and finally sent Stephen’s Spearmen running from the table.

At the beginning of round 5 I controlled two objectives, netting 6 VP, while Stephen only had 1, gaining 3, the score was now 11-8 in my favour.

The last round was a bit of an anti-climax, Stephen had nothing he could use to retake the central objective, I couldn’t reach the objective he controlled and my Crossbowmen had no targets, so the turn ended with a final score of 13-9 to me.

I’ll leave the final words to Stephen:

I enjoyed playing Barons’ War a great deal. We used 500 point armies because it was a first game, but I think we’ll ramp it up to 1000 points next time, split between two players per side. That’ll give a game with more depth and ebb and flow.

During our game we frequently referred to the rules. It didn’t always need it, we were just being conscientious that we were doing things right from the start. We had a few rules queries that we couldn’t find answers to on the day, though I think we did it right in the end. Having time to go through the rulebook that evening we found the answers to our questions, so it’s all in there. I also pinged a couple of queries to Andy Hobday and he replied very promptly (well done Andy!) – he confirmed that what we’d done was right.

I can see future games moving along nice and quickly with minimal reference to the rules. A decent roster sheet with special abilities on it will help, and a re-worked QRF will also assist (the one that comes with the book is 4 pages long! But I reckon there’s a lot of things on it that will become second nature and wouldn’t be needed, so I am sure we can get it down to a more manageable 2 sides).

I enjoyed it a lot. It scratches my 13th century itch (and the 13th century is my favourite period and what my entire education history is focussed on).

Salute 2021 Trophy and Society Meeting 13th November 2021

The Society has been busy this weekend jut passed, a small contingent ventured to ExCeL for the delayed Salute 2020 (or 2021?) whilst others attended the normal society meeting. First up, Salute. Andy’s thoughts with pictures by John, Mark and Andy.

Five of the membership, John, Brian, Mark, Marcus and Andy, attended Salute putting on Marcus’ Pulp participation game “Biggles and the Island at the Top of the World“.

The theme for the show was the Battle of Britain. The 2020 show was intended to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the battle. Centrally displayed in the hall were a replica Spitfire and Hurricane, with some RAF reenactors making an appearance after the photo was taken.

They say ExCeL looks like a hanger…

I got the impression that Salute hired more of ExCeL than usual, to space us out more, although I also understand there were fewer games and traders scheduled to attend than in “normal” years; and there were a few “no shows” in both categories.

Salute General view. More spaced out than usual, and perhaps fewer attendees?

In Marcus’ game Biggles is searching a lost Artic island for a missing Professor and the strange artefacts he was studying.

Biggle’s party deplane from their Walrus

His party discover a secret labyrinth, with ever changing chambers and passages.

The labyrinth awaits the explorers

However he was not alone, a party of Nazis with unworldly weapons were also trying to recover the Professor.

The German’s advanced submarine

The Russians had also sent an NKVD team to prevent the Nazis securing their objective.

The Soviet NKVD disembark from their Aerosan

And finally, a lost tribe of Vikings were hellbent on preventing anyone from leaving the island with the Ragnarok Stones, the phenomena the Professor had been studying.

The Vikings patrol the labyrinth

We ran several games throughout the day, with up to four members of the public taking control of one of the four parties.

A selection of photos from the games:

Vikings find the secret chamber
Biggles faces down the NKVD
The Germans find themselves boxed in

We are pleased to announce that the game won the Jim Clarke Memorial Award for the Best Science Fiction / Fantasy game at Salute.

The Jim Clark Memorial Award for the Best Science Fiction / Fantasy Game

Meanwhile, back at the regular Society meeting, other members were running a series of games. Photos courtesy of Mark J and Stephen.

First off Mark J and Pete ran a game of Fields of Glory, pitching Mark’s Hundred Years War English against Pete’s Hungarians.

FOG Ancients – HYW English vs Hungarians
FOG Ancients – HYW English vs Hungarians
FOG Ancients – HYW English vs Hungarians
FOG Ancients – HYW English vs Hungarians
FOG Ancients – HYW English vs Hungarians
FOG Ancients – HYW English vs Hungarians
FOG Ancients – HYW English vs Hungarians

The first battle was won by the English, the Hungarian Knights couldn’t cope with longbows and stakes. The Hungarians won the second battle by focusing on the men at arms and drawing the longbow fire away from the knights. So, honours even.

Alan ran a Star Wars X-Wing game.

Star Wars X-Wing
Star Wars X-Wing
Star Wars X-Wing

And finally Stephen ran a Stargrave game – A Hive of Scum and Villainy:

‘A Hive of Scum and Villainy’ – a Stargrave adventure
‘A Hive of Scum and Villainy’ – a Stargrave adventure
‘A Hive of Scum and Villainy’ – a Stargrave adventure
%d bloggers like this: