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.
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.
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)
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.
On another club outing with Stargrave Jeremey ran a game set on the legendary planet of Fenris, with Stephen providing a dramatic write up of the game …
The game was set up in the ruins of a city with the robots of Fenris on patrol throughout the region. The crews of four ships arrive to search for loot.
Each crew was given a random mission brief providing additional bonuses to be had based on those missions. Stephen ended up with a mission that allowed the crew to pick a rival crew and gain extra credits for any kills against that crew.
The Seedy Dive Space Bar
“100 Credits!? You gotta be kidding me. I want 200.” Kersh Wilson banged his fist on the table for emphasis.
His opposite number leaned forward. Only now did Kersh get an idea of his features in the half-light of the smoke-filled room – the flattened nose, the red skin and ritual scarring. Kersh was dealing with a Creduxian.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Kid,” said the Creduxian. “What I’ll do for you is make it 150 credits for a kill. Just 75 for a hit. Do we have a deal?”
Kersh leaned back, trying to recover his composure, remember the calm and measure he’d been taught as a young student by his masters.
“150 for a kill, huh? Yeah, OK – we got a deal.”
“Good. Good. I’ve made it easy for you. The hit’s name is Offler dZuk – she killed my kinsman. She’s a crew member on a ship called The Troubadour. The captain’s name is Ash de Vere. I’ve had one of my cronies slip Ash some information about some ruins on Fenris. Told him there was money to be made. So I’ve got ‘em off-planet for ya’, somewhere quiet, somewhere away from the eyes of the lawmen. Who knows, maybe you can make some extra loot out of it yourself…”
Kersh and his crew, as well as trying to collect loot tokens, had a special mission – extra money for taking an opposing player’s crew down to zero Health.
Fenris was an area of ruins and covered in undergrowth. Also present were some battle droids, so they’d have to take it careful. I had to choose which player I would have to try and shoot. It would have to be either Andy or Phil, as they were either side of me. I looked at where the loot tokens were and I reckoned that I was more likely to bump into Andy, so it would make sense to have him as my target since there was every chance we’d exchange gunfire anyway. Where I deployed there were two tokens that shouldn’t be too difficult to grab. I pretty much split my force in three – crew Captain Kersh Wilson (a mystic) led a couple of his crew after one token. Shoggoth (a biomorph), the first mate, led some crew after another. I had two raw recruits who I decided I’d send after the furthest away, but also with an eye on the possibility of taking a pop at Andy’s crew if the opportunity presented itself.
Oh yeah, I also had a pathfinder and used his extra speed to lead the way, draw any fire, see what droids were about etc.
I took the first token without too much difficulty. At that point Phil rolled a bad initiative roll (any roll of 4 or under meant a random droid would appear – Phil proved good at rolling low…) and a droid appeared near my crew. Kersh took out his lightsabre (sorry, ‘void blade’ *ahem*). The droid took a shot and Kersh deflected the shots with his blade. He then concentrated carefully and caused psionic flames to shoot from his hand and engulf the droid. Didn’t do too much. So he drew his blaster pistol and let off a couple of shots. Down went the droid.
The two recruits – a robot called 2B-55 and a pale-skinned alien called Ronnock Crowder – advanced through the ruins. Not too far behind was Shoggoth and Yammet Lament, an ex-commando. TwoBee and Ronnock by-passed a loot token, leaving it for Shoggoth, and took position behind some ruins. Because on the opposite side of the road two of Andy’s crew could be seen trying to unlock a loot token.
Both TwoBee and Ronnock drew their pistols and started shooting. Down went one of Andy’s crew – Offler dZuk. She was only wounded, so on Andy’s activation he decided to pull her back. But TwoBee and Ronnock let rip again, and this time she wouldn’t get up – down to zero health. But was it a kill?
With three loot tokens, and having successfully completed their special mission, I decided discretion was the better part of valour and got my crew off with all their loot.
It had been a very successful first mission for Kersh and his crew.
Or was it? The story will to Return to Fenris for a different perspective …
The club held a second ‘virtual meeting’ last weekend, with solo games, and even a socially distanced garden game of FoG. Over to the players…
Stephen – Solo SAGA
Stephen had a game of SAGA – the Prized Possessions scenario. Edward Oswaldson (Anglo Danes) had been tasked by the earl to escort the local bishop and his possessions. Meanwhile, a boat load of Norse Gaels from Dublin led by Ragnall Svendsson had been raiding in the area. The Anglo Danes won. They managed to get the wagons off the table, though the bishop himself didn’t quite get off and the game ended with the bishop looking at a very irate Norse Gael warlord…
Marcus – Galactic Heroes
Marcus took on his sons; never a good move… The game was going well but match abandoned after an 90 mins due to unforeseen circumstances. Just as well, he was the rebel scum entering bottom left, trying to get a droid to the ship (top right) he’d lost two characters already to the eldest son. Youngest son was preparing an ambush should he make it through…
Alan Kirk – Verdun 1916
Alan played a solo learning game of Verdun 1916: Steel Inferno using the first scenario which covers the initial German attack.
Mark J, John Legg, Bret – FoG in the Garden
Mark’s Roman Dominate army had its first outing in his back garden and were truly smashed by the Sassanids…twice!
And finally, Eric played a couple of wargames-based video games (Total War and Dark Future – there are videos !
Last Saturday, at Stephen’s suggestion, some club members held a ‘virtual’ club meeting; some played solo games or with family members at home, and three even managed to play a board game over Zoom. Here’s a round up of what went on.
Mark H, Mark J and Seán – Nightfighter
Mark H ran a three-player game over Zoom – he’s written it up fully in a separate report.
Marcus – Air Combat in the Gulf War
Marcus played a solo game of modern air combat using Wings at War; this will also be getting its own write-up soon.
Phil – Space Hulk
Phil broke out the new (ish) re-issue of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk with his eldest son; unpainted figures, really!
Stephen – Full Thrust
Stephen, whose idea this all was, went for some solo Full Thrust. Which just sounds all wrong…
Mark J – Kobolds and Cobblestones
Mark.2 played out a Fantasy rumble at the docks.
Tony F – Lord of the Rings
And finally, the webmaster played out a simple Lord of the Rings scenario (the one where Sean Bean/Boromir gets shot full of arrows defending Merry and Pippin).
As we currently have no meetings and gathering indoors is not possible, we have been starved of our wargames for 2 months!
We tried a game of GMT’s Nightfighter over Zoom. The game uses some house scenarios that allow multiple players on the German side. The main game map is enlarged and uses miniatures to substitute for counters.
There were four Ju88C-6 night fighters patrolling to intercept bombers over the targets. These could be coned by the searchlights on the ground, spotted by the onboard radar, or spotted visually.
Here is the hidden umpire map showing the Lancaster position at close of play:
We played until a Lancaster was shot down. Mark shot down ‘E for East’ after a four move duel. The bomber spotted him before he attacked and got two rounds of fire, but failed to score a hit.
The Ju88 missed on the first pass from a poor position, then scored heavy damage on the second pass.
The Ju-88 mis-timed the third pass, but finished the target off on the final pass.
Sean had meanwhile homed in on a bomber with one of his Ju-88s, but ran out of time to shoot it down.
This was the game board at close of play:
A scan of the battle map was shared on Zoom with the players and annotated with the fighter positions, radar sightings and searchlight spots.
Game play is slowed, as moves have to be described sequentially, so the game would have worked faster with less planes controlled by one player with hindsight, but the board game hex playing surface does make a game over Zoom possible! We may give it another go having worked out the snags.
With both of our Wars of the Roses armies completed Stephen and I assembled on an unremarkable field somewhere in England for our first clash. Stephen took the role of the Lancastrians and recruited Andy to act as a lesser lord of the realm in control of his right flank. I’d gone for the Yorkists and ended up with the flags of the Earl of Salisbury and his son Sir Thomas Neville. In similar fashion I recruited Tony to the role of Thomas Neville also taking command of the right flank.
The Lancastrian army formed up in a neat row extending across the battlefield with their archers on the flanks and their billmen and men at arms in the centre. The Lancastrians had no cavalry or artillery, however they had more archers and had brought some mercenary pikemen.
Across the field the Yorkists took a different approach forming up with their archers and artillery out front with the billmen and men at arms close behind. The Yorkists also had mounted men at arms as well as some light cavalry units positioned out on the flanks.
The first move of the battle saw Andy move his archers to a commanding position on the only high ground available.
This move prompted me to move my cavalry out past the archers flank screened by a nearby wood. My intention was not to attack the flank but to try and get Andy to weaken his archers on the hill by dispatching them to deal with the now threatened flank.
Meanwhile on the Yorkist right Tony had found himself squashed between my artillery unit and some woods. This would cause a number of problems for Tony during the battle as he was unable to line up his units to best effect.
Seeing the difficulty the Yorkist right flank was in Steve moved his archers in range to pour missiles into the floundering Yorkists.
Apart from Steve’s flaking move and Andy moving his archers onto the hill, the Lancastrians refused to give battle. Seeing the danger on the flank and with the Cavalry feint having drawn some of Andy’s archers away, I push the artillery forward and began firing on the Lancastrian Billmen. The attack did not cause any damage but it had the desired effect, soon the Lancastrian billmen would be on the advance.
Seeing the Lancastrian billmen on the advance I pushed my archers forward and engaged the archers on the hill. The dice definitely favoured the Yorkists destroying a unit of archers outright but taking some damage in return.
As I prepared to receive the advancing billmen, Tony had managed to engage Steve’s archers on the Yorkist right flank. Unfortunately the Lancastrian archers stood their ground against attacks from the Yorkist billmen.
My archers managed to get a volley off against the Lancastrian’s before the two battle lines crashed together. Unable to move the archers had to join the melee and soon succumbed to the billmen, but I had billmen in reserve ready to fill the gap.
The clash was pretty even with both sides taking hits. Out on the Yorkist right flank Tony’s archers had taken a beating but he was still determined to get his billmen into the fight. In the centre Steve still had his men-at-arms directly in front of my artillery and so had no choice than to advance into the oncoming fire.
Although the Men-at-Arms had taken some damage they quickly overwhelmed the artillery leaving them to rampage behind the Yorkist line. Tony still had his cavalry in reserve but didn’t get the activation dice required to charge in and so the Men-at-Arms got the chance to destroy them in a subsequent charge. However Tony was more successful with his Mounted Men-at-Arms.
Charging in against the Lancastrian archers Tony was successful in gaining some momentum on the right flank. But the Yorkists would then throw away a strong position with a number of cavalry blunders. First came my charge with my light cavalry against the archers I had drawn out on Andy’s flank. The charge saw the cavalry wiped out with no damage to the defending archers. Tony then charged his Mounted Men-at-Arms against the Lancastrian pikemen and suffered the same fate!
With the main battle in the centre going the Yorkists way and following the cavalry blunders, I turned my Mounted Men-at-Arms around and galloped back to the centre. The battle was nearing an end with both armies at breaking point.
With the help of my cavalry the Lancastrian centre was destroyed, and with Andy’s remaining units too far away on the Lancastrian right flank, it was up to Tony on the Yorkist right flank to carry the day. The Lancastrian’s still had some strong infantry units but Steve had failed to get the activations he needed to get them into the fight. Needing just a point before breaking completely the battle came down to the long drawn out melee between Steve’s archers and Tony’s billmen.
But the dice finally favoured Tony and the archers were utterly destroyed, handing victory to the Yorkists by the narrow margin of 29-32!
This turned out to be a really good battle. Three of the players had only played 3 or 4 games of Sword and Spear before and for Tony this was his first ever play of the rules.
From the Yorkist point of view, the good parts were managing to draw out some of the Lancastrian forces with a cavalry feint, and a lucky result in winning the archery duel in the centre. Having the artillery also turned out to be a good move as it forced the Lancastrians to advance when they had planned to sit tight. The bad points for the Yorkists though were the poor deployment between the artillery and the woods allowing the Lancastrians to out flank the right hand side, and the poorly executed cavalry charges late in the battle.
From the Lancastrians point of view, the good parts were exploiting the poor enemy deployment and out flanking with archers. But the bad points were reacting to the feint and being unlucky with the activation dice later in the battle preventing them from getting more of their infantry committed against the poorly deployed Yorkists.
The war will no doubt continue with the Lancastrians out for revenge!
The end of year Society wild west shoot out for 2018 has gone down in the Annals of the West. The town photographer captured the action!
This saw Sheriff “Frontier Steve” Walters defending the good citizens of Tombstone against raiding gangs led by Black “Texas Bob” Jang and Frank “Bexley Dutch Mike” Schmidt. The Sheriff was later reinforced by a mercenary crew led by No-Eyes “Chairman John” Luke. A motley range of citizens were controlled by the host and umpire, “Treasurer Mark” showing varying levels of commitment to help defend their town.
The gang led by Dutch Mike made a beeline for the bank, whilst the gang led by Texas Bob made a bee-line for the Drink n Drop Saloon. Patrolling deputy Ted ‘The Lawman’ spotted Dutch, raised the alarm and opened fire with his trusty Colt, while Sheriff Steve Walters moved round the general store to outflank Dutch’s gang, only to die in a hail of bullets from Quick-Draw Mc-Graw. Several citizens waded in to help – the general store owner shot down Dutch from the window of his store before rashly coming out and in turn being gunned down by Quick-Draw. Ted the Lawman fell to the shotgun of outlaw Heath Robinson. The hapless citizen Bashful Baz placed himself squarely in the line of fire and then spent the rest of the game rooted to the spot and twice trying to unjam his Colt in a hail of bullets, emerging unscathed with only a few bullet grazes. The only Deputy left standing, Camp Freddie, despatched outlaw Doc Savage through a window, having fled for cover in the bank.
At the other end of town Texas Bob went head to head with the newly arrived John ‘No-eyes’ and gunned him down in a hail of lead, then laying out his gang-side kick Jimmy Six-Shot with a ‘real-bad’ hit in the legs. His rampage was finally stopped with a hail of bullets from ‘No-Eyes’ number 2, Yankee Seb. Texas Bob’s side-kick, Stick-up Joe moved in to rob and recruit in the Drink n Drop. Joe won over his secret admirer, saloon girl Rosie Williams and saloon ‘resident’ Whiskey Will. All hell broke lose as the jilted and alcohol-fuelled Hallelujah Jones attacked Rosie. Stick-up laid him out cold and Rosie completed her journey to the dark side by finishing him with her trusty Deringer. However, as Stick-up Joe emerged from the Drink n Drop, he was gunned down by hired guns Yankee Seb and Ugly Trev.
Meanwhile outlaw Sam Sharpshot went after town resident ‘The Butcher’ who had been gunned down after emerging from his livery stable and wildly shooting his shotgun at Texas Bob’s gang. ‘The Butcher’ was heroically rescued by the town Doc, Sweeney Todd, but both were then pursued and ‘The Butcher’ was killed by the hard-bitten Sam assisted by Whiskey Will – Sweeney Todd was badly injured trying to save him. Meanwhile last member of Bob’s gang, the outlaw Maximillian met a sticky end at the hands of Yankee Seb, Deputy Camp Freddie and hotel owner ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, who suddenly found the ‘courage’ to shoot him in the back as he faced Yankee Seb.
Crazed with grief Rosie dashed across the street aiming to gun down lawman Camp Freddie, who calmly turned and shot her down.
With this, the surviving outlaws headed for the hills.
The winner on the day was the gang of Black “Texas Bob” Jang, who scored 7 points after robbing the Drink n Drop and the Livery Stable (1 point each), recruiting two citizens to the gang (2 points), killing Legend ‘No-Eyes’ (2 points) and two citizens (half a point each). The only survivors were Shootist Sam Sharpshot and the now infamous ex-citizen Whiskey Will.
In second place was “Chairman John”, who scored 4.5 points after killing Legend Black Jang, Doc Savage, Maximillian and half a point for citizen turned outlaw, Rosie. All of the hired gang except leader ‘No-Eyes’ survived, but Jimmy Six-Shot was ‘hurt real bad’.
A close third was “Bexley Dutch Mike”, who scored 4 points, his gang gunning down Legend Sheriff Walters, Deputy Ted the Lawman and citizens ‘Doc’ Walters and Ol’ George. Only two gang members survived, Quick-Draw Mc-Graw and gang side-kick, Heath Robinson, who was ‘hurt real bad’, but caused mayhem with his shotgun. McGraw becomes a legend after taking out the Sheriff and his marksman deputy without so much as a scratch before avenging his fallen leader.
“Frontier Steve” had an unlucky day with 3 of the 4 lawmen shot down stopping Dutch’s gang with the Sheriff and Chief Deputy killed and Deputy Billy the Bloke badly shot up as he emerged from the jail to help. Their sacrifice will always be remembered.
The citizens held a fine funeral for Doc Walters who fell defending his store and the town, killing outlaw legend ‘Dutch’ Schmidt. Bashful Baz can spin a fine tale showing his bullet grazes having survived a hail of bullets and shotgun shells (probably leaving out that his gun jammed twice and he never hit anything other than the side of the bank). The severely injured doctor, Sweeney Todd becomes a town hero after his selfless rescue of ‘The Butcher’ and attempt to save him from the brutal assault of Sam Sharpshot and the treacherous Whiskey Will.
The tragic tale of the doomed love of Stick-up Joe and Rosie Williams enters western folk-lore.
Camp Freddie plans to stand for Sheriff.
The game used “The Rules With No Name” and 20mm figures and buildings from the collection of our late Chairman, Trevor.
The rules use a card driven activation sequence and make for an excellent, fast, fun game.
A random roll was used to drive the action of citizens, with the potential to defect to an outlaw gang under pressure, avoid action, or alternatively suddenly gain the courage to defend the town, with limited, or excessive enthusiasm, as events unfolded in their direction.