Monday, February 29, 2016

On a roll with the Swiss

My Swiss retinue for Lion Rampant is now up to 22 points (24 if you count the Italian mercenary crossbowmen) with the completion of this unit of mounted crossbowmen.  They are in the yellow and black colours of Uri canton.

As with previous attempts, I'm happier with them in the flesh than in the photographs where my subtle shading seems all but invisible.  I probably need to spend longer setting up my photo shoots.

Their appearance on the table means that I have completed the whole box of Perry Miniatures light cavalry I bought in mid-January. My pile of unpainted Perry figures is down to six mounted men-at-arms and a single billman or longbowman.

Trying some more CoC

Fellow wargamer Geoff Taylor mentioned that he'd had a fun game teaching Bolt Action with two Shermans and an M8 against a Tiger in a built-up area.  I decided to use a similar approach as part of my on-going efforts to learn Chain of Command.

In fact for the first game I dispensed with the Shermans and just fielded the M8 Greyhound!

Most of the buildings are some rough ruins that Ian Shaw knocked up when we needed them in a hurry for last year's CrIsis Point.

The game, played solo, was great fun.  Over the course of an hour (I was looking up rules as I went) the M8 stalked around the table trying to get a flank or rear shot on the Tiger.

The flank shot was achieved and the Tiger took engine damage.  It maybe shouldn't have done so, though, as I missed the "Heavy Armour" rule which mean the Tiger is pretty much as tough from the side as it is from the front.  Then again, the M8 did roll very well!

In the end, role-playing a bit, I decided the German tank commander was frustrated enough to try and ram the damned Ami.  This gave me a chance to try out the driving-through-buildings rule and the ramming rule.  The latter turns out to be tremendously risky and I shouldn't have tried it really.

The Tiger managed to crash through the ruin without getting stuck but, amazingly given the disparate weight of the two vehicles and the disparate number of dice being rolled, bounced off the M8 leaving both crews stunned for a phase.

The M8's commander was the first to recover his wits and he made a mad dash for safety at full speed.  Sadly this only made him an easy target for the Tiger....

I'm fairly happy with the armour rules.  They seem to have a reasonable level of complexity given the small number of tanks likely to be used in a game.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Bit of Flocking

Having thrown together a couple of platoons to try Chain of Command, I became aware of how my basing style has changed slightly over the years even since I standardised on pennies as bases for 20mm figures.

So I grabbed some PVA, some blended static grass and some Scenic Effects fine grass mix and set to.

The effect is pleasing.  Figures painted years, even decades apart are brought together by the consistent basing style.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sunday Evening CoC

Whilst out walking the puppy on Sunday afternoon I decided that I'd spend part of the evening trying out Chain of Command.  What follows is some notes of a partial play through of the rules.

I plonked down some semi-random terrain, aiming at a vague feel of somewhere in the Low Countries, late in the war.

I then randomised for arrival side (British left, Germans right) and, because I was using the Patrol scenario, starting point (British near third, Germans central third).

The forces were regular infantry platoons (for the British I chose a dismounted motor platoon rather than a leg infantry platoon).  This meant that the Germans had a slightly higher value force and the Brits should have had reinforcements.  I didn't want to introduce such a complication so I simply rolled two sides' Force Morale values and allocated the higher one to the British.

To be honest I didn't plan to carry this through to a conclusion anyway - I tend to play new rules until the accumulation of rules queries I'm not sure about has reached a critical mass.  I'll then abandon the test and go and check through the rules with the advantage of a short play behind me.

So the game starts off with a Patrol Phase.  This is effectively a game-within-a-game in which both sides advance a chain of Patrol Markers (I used different coins) across the board to establish where their respective front lines end and no-man's-land begins.

Eventually, these Patrol Markers become locked down by proximity to enemy markers.  When all of one or both sides' markers are locked down, we move on to determining each side's Jump Off Points. These are locations around which troops can be deployed onto the table.  Their positions are somewhere in the rear of the Parol Markers depending on the terrain. In my flat, open Dutch farm country at least one of the Jump Off Points ended up being moved all the way back to the table edge for want of any intervening terrain.

I marked Jump Off Points with some bases I already had that carried fuel drums, ammo boxes etc.

I suspect the Patrol Phase will prove to have a lot of subtleties of play that I haven't twigged to yet.

The game then began with the British (they had the higher Force Morale - 10 as shown on the two purple dice in the corner of the pic below) rolling five dice to determine what they could do in phase one.

Multiple sixes would have retained the initiative for the British but one is not enough.  The two fives start me accumulating points on a Chain of Command die (the big black one).  The three allows me to deploy a junior leader (an NCO) with his accompanying section. The two does much the same (but in some circumstances could be less flexible).

One section deploys near the large house.

Whilst the other would eventually make its way to a nice position behind the hedge on the hill.

We then see the Germans' first roll.  Again the six is ignored and two fives start a Chain of Command die counting.  The one allows the deployment of a single team and I deploy an LMG team behind a hedge.  The four activates the German's only senior leader (the platoon commander).  I choose to pass on deploying him at this stage. Edit:  This proved to be a good idea on further reading of the rules. If you have no Senior Leaders off-table your troops are harder to bring on.

Play then alternates between sides unless one of them rolls more than a single six.  After a few phases, the Germans have two squads in the woods advancing towards the British left flank.

The British, meanwhile, have occupied the semi-detached cottages.

As the Germans approach... 

Some other random pics as casualties begin to mount...

Interestingly by this stage we were still on the first game turn!  Neither side had rolled the three sixes necessary to end a turn so I decided to use the Germans' option to end the turn by spending a Chain of Command dice that had reached six pips.  

Actually, in this case ending the turn made no difference.  I decided at this point to pack away and review what I'd learned so far:

  • Chain of Command seems to have good period feel
  • It will play pretty quickly when I get the hang of the rules
  • I think the command choices are likely to be comparable to those facing a platoon commander at the sharp end
  • I need to think more about how they can be made to work with e.g. the Skirmish Campaigns scenarios
  • I want to tidy up the appearance of my WW2 infantry who've been accumulated over many years.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Oh CoC!

Clearly with a current Lion Rampant obsession and with Crisis Point coming up at the beginning of April, the last thing I need is to start learning another set of rules.  So sure enough, before I set off to work on Thursday, the last thing I did was to spend some of my birthday money buying this...

Now you might ask yourself why, when I already have Arc of Fire that suits the style of twentieth century skirmish games I usually organise, would I want to do this?  Well to be honest I'm asking myself the same question.

It's probably Neil Shuck's fault.  He and his compadres on the Meeples and Miniatures podcast have been raving about these rules for so long, I just had to give them a go.

So far they look very interesting.  I need to set up a table and give them a test.  I'll report back when I've done so.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lion Rampant: First Outing for the Burgundians (updated)

Andy came over last knight and my completed Burgundian retinue for Lion Rampant had its first proper outing on the table.  We played the scenario called The Messenger (I'd tried it out previously solo but with different models).

The two forces (for Chris, who asked) were as follows:

Guy, Sieur de Gadbois - Commander (Vulnerable)
Men At Arms - Mounted Men At Arms*
Longbowmen - Expert Archers
Coustilliers - Mounted Sergeants (no upgrades)
Skirmishers (mostly handguns) - Bidowers
Italian Mercenary Crossbows - Bidowers

Hubert Bluntschli - Commander (Commanding)
2x Pikes - Expert Foot Serjeants*
Halberdiers - Fierce Foot
Handgunners - Bidowers
Irish Kern - Bidowers

In this game the Burgundians (played by me) had to escort a messenger from bottom right to top left in the photo below.  Andy, as the Swiss, had 6 points (a Pike unit = Expert Foot Serjeants) entering bottom left and the remainder top right.

It was't until the second turn that I could squeeze all of the Burgundians onto the table.

The messenger was entrusted to a unit of Italian mercenary crossbowmen (bidowers, on the road below).

Andy's Swiss and Irish mercenary bidowers moved across the cabbage field while his second unit of pikemen skirted it to the road ands halberdiers (Fierce Foot) headed off towards my exit point.

My Burgundian skirmishers headed onto the wooded hill covering the right of the crossroads....

... whilst my coustilliers (Mounted Serjeants) faced off the main Swiss force.  Sadly they were soon battered by incoming missile fire.

At this point (sadly unseen by the camera) a series of fortunate dice rolls by your correspondent saw Andy's pikemen on my left take heavy casualties from the shooting of my longbowmen and rout!  As a result I was now able to move the crossbowmen and the escorted messenger off to the left of the crossroads.

They had almost made it to the woods when they were pounced upon by Andy's halberdiers.  As Fierce Foot the latter weren't going to be bothered by rough ground so I decided to shoot.  Long-range shooting from my longbows and point blank from the Italians was followed by a dreadful Courage test and the Halberdiers were routed.  The messenger's road was now open!

On the other flank my Burgundian bidowers were slaughtered by Andy's pikemen despite hiding among the trees.

Whilst my Men At Arms made short work of Andy's handgunners....

The danger to me now was that my four remaining Men At Arms - exposed to the shooting a unit of bidowers and in charge range of Andy's remaining pikemen - looked very exposed.  My commander, Guy de Gadbois, had the Vulnerable trait.  This made him more likely to stop a stray pike thrust and die.  Perhaps, like Charles the Bold a few years later, he had left off his bevor for comfort's sake.  If my commander died or his unit routed, the resulting Courage tests could have scuppered my plan.

I decided to take a chance and challenged the Swiss captain to single combat.

Sad to say Captain Hubert Bluntschli, an honoured opponent, died in honourable combat while pikemen, Irish mercenaries and Burgundian knights looked on.

The resulting Courage test saw off the remaining pikemen and with Andy reduced to a single unit of Irish kern we called it a night.

I enjoyed the game and I think Andy did too despite the rash of unlucky dice rolls.  We both agreed that the game looked very pretty.  More Lion Rampant will definitely follow.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Few Pics from Vapnartak

I didn't take many photos at Vapnartak because my time was limited.  As it happens from looking at other people's pics I suspect there's a whole section of games I failed to see at all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trip to Vapnartak

With Jamie being in York and with Vapnartak falling so close to my birthday, we usually meet up there so I can buy myself some pressies.  However, this weekend was the only one when Jamie could get himself combat-certified with his new re-enactment group - The Vikings - before the upcoming Jorvik Viking Festival. This meant that I had a somewhat speedy afternoon whizz round the event before meeting Jamie for tea.

Vapnartak was therefore mainly a shopping trip and very much focussed on my current obsession with Lion Rampant.

Star purchases for me were these painted, if rather battered, Dark Ages types.

There are about thirty figures and I reckon they'll do nicely as sub-Roman types...

...two units of foot and one of horse...

I also had chat with Annie the Dice Bag Lady as I purchased a pack of shield maidens from her.  It turns out we share the same birthday.  The four shield maidens I bought are dark ages in style and I plan to incorporate them into a mixed unit of town-dwellers and armed slaves (probably serfs in Lion Rampant terms).  They are currently on the workbench being glued together and undercoated.  Photos when they're in a fit state to be seen.

A useful source for the Sub-Roman Gaul project is Tim Newark's The Barbarians. This has some very nice colour plates (pictures in its sister volume Medieval Warlords inspired the project in the first place).   I managed to pick up a second hand copy for a fiver.

Finally in the way of purchases, and also now on the workbench, I bought a blister pack of six Italian Mercenary Crossbowmen from the Perry Miniatures stand.  These will go straight into my Burgundian retinue when painted.  I did consider painting them as ordonnance soldiers but several features of their dress are distinctively Italian and I figure as mercenaries they'll be more flexible.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Fleet in Being

Before I report on Sunday's trip to Vapnartak in York I should update you on the status of the ships Jamie bought me at last year's Vapnartak.

This is the collection of British ships I need to cover the two 1914 actions at Coronel and the Falkland Islands.  I also have the German flotilla but they still need a little work.

The models are in 1/3000th scale from Navwar and MY.  They are based for Perfidious Albion.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Washed Viking

The block painted Viking...

 ... has now been given a good coat of the Vallejo Sepia wash.  This is what we get:

It's far from being a miniature masterpiece but I think he'd look OK as part of a Saga Warband or a Lion Rampant retinue.  He may well serve as an Armorican Bacaudus when I get to that stage.