Thursday, January 30, 2020

Raid on Santa Clara

I've decided that throughout 2020 I will try to get in a Saturday Afternoon Wargame every month.  Last weekend we played January's game and it turned out to be introducing two new players to Sharp Practice.

Young gamer Sam mostly plays Warhammer but he's also been playing in my historical games since last year's Crisis Point.  Dex, meanwhile is an old gaming buddy from the days of the the Berkeley Hordes of the Things tournaments.  Dex has just moved to nearby Oughtibridge and is a welcome addition to the Storrs gaming community.

Sam led the guerrillas (with Jamie's help)

Dex brought a certain pensive je ne sais quoi to
the role of contre-guerilla  

The Meeples and Miniatures guys had the idea that a game (or by extension a particular collection of toy soldiers) doesn't represent value-for-money until you've played it often enough that the cost per game is about that of a cinema ticket.  We aren't yet there with the Maximilian Adventure collection so another outing to 1860s Mexico seemed like a good idea.

I wanted a game we could get through in an afternoon so I decided on a relatively small action using Liberal guerillas and Imperial contre-guerillas.  The Republican regulars and the Turcos stayed in their boxes. 

The scenario involved a patrol of contre-guerillas marching to the village of Santa Clara where, intelligence reports suggested, there were three houses belonging to Republican/guerilla sympathisers.  These were to be burned to the ground.  The only problem was that they only knew the location of one of the houses.

Meanwhile, and unknown to the contre-guerillas, a party of Liberal guerrillas was also bound for Santa Clara with the aim of recovering supplies that had been stashed in those same houses.

Each of the two forces was given the chance to roll before the game on its own Intelligence Table:

Contre-guerilla Intelligence Table:
  1. Knowledge of one of the guerrilla sympathisers’ houses.
  2. Gain a Moveable Deployment Point and all Contre-guerrilla forces gain the Moveable Deployment Point ability.
  3. Steal a march - Contre-Guerillas get an extra turn before the guerrilla cards are added to the deck.
  4. Place a stray villager wherever you like on the table.
  5. Add a Legion Etrangere skirmisher unit to your force.
  6. The lads have found a stash of tequila; add one to your Force Morale.
Guerrilla Intelligence Table:
  1. Gain a Moveable Deployment Point and Guerrilla skirmishers gain the Moveable Deployment Point ability.
  2. or 3. Steal a march - Guerrillas get an extra turn before the CG cards are added to the deck.
     4. or 5. Pre-loaded supplies - the supplies in one house have been pre-loaded onto a donkey pannier making loading them Task Value 5.
     6.  The lads have found a stash of tequila; add one to your Force Morale.

Pretty much all of the relevant tasks had predetermined values of 10 (interrogating a villager, firing a house or landing the contents of a house onto the mule train).

The guerrillas found the stash of tequila while their opponents encountered young Consuela Vargas on the road next to their entry point.

The guerrillas started in the middle of Santa Clara and had two groups of skirmishers, two of state militia and one of cavalry.

The contre-guerillas had to march through the woods and across the farmland before they reached the village.  I do think the two Groups of cavalry looked good on their first outing together.

Oh, by the way, see those guerrillas on the roof of the square house with the balcony?  Any moment now a stray spark from their muskets is going to set the building alight.  And guess what?  It's the one building the contre-guerillas knew they had to burn down!

The contre-guerilla cavalry advanced on the right of the road to threaten the guerrilla skirmishers around a hill-side barn.  They came under accurate rifled musket fire...

...and one of the groups was eventually forced to withdraw.

Meanwhile on the left, the contre-guerilla infantry caused heavy casualties on the Liberal cavalry who just didn't seem able to get out of their arc of fire.

Carbine fire from the remaining contra-guerilla cavalry finally drove off the Liberal skirmishers around the barn but not before they had loaded the mule-train.  

The State Militia soldiers occupied and off-loaded another of the houses.

The cavalry thought they might as well fire the now-empty barn.  After all who was to know the difference back at headquarters in Vera Cruz?

By the end of the afternoon the rebels had loaded all three houses-worth of supplies onto their mule train and the contre-guerillas had seen two of the target houses burned down.  We called it a guerrilla victory!

So Dex is initiated into the mysteries of Saturday Afternoon Wargames and the Mexican collection is a bit closer to passing the movie-ticket test.  Lookout for February's game!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Christmas gaming 2 - Incident at Fearnley Whittingstall

The second of my games over Christmas this year was An Incident at Fearnley Whittingstall.  

Richard Phillips has an excellent write up of the game over at his blog.

The renowned British scientist Barnes Mitchell-Whittle was spending the night in the village of that name in advance of a secret weapon test the following day.  

A German glider-borne assault aimed to capture Mitchell-Whittle.  He was to be extracted by sea, elements of the Brandenburg Regiment having captured the beach and cleared it of mines.

I have two favourite sets of WW2 skirmish rules, Arc of Fire from Tac Publications, and Chain of Command from Too Fat Lardies.  CoC is great where each layer has a platoon to command but this game saw players commanding quite variously sized units and I thought AoF was the way to go.

Richard P commanded the Home Guard forces - a standing patrol in clifftop positions, and the platoon's ready reserve at the church hall.  Sam had the two scientists and the section of Grenadier Guards assigned to protect them.

Rob and Andy took charge of the Germans.  Rob was told he had three gliders with assault squads ordered to capture the scientists.  Any had two squads that included some pioneers tasked with clearing and holding the route to the Beach.

Andy also had responsibility for the Brandenburgers and Kriegsmarine forces who would capture the beach and extract the German force.

We did the glider landings by means of the old method of throwing paper aeroplanes at the table and then substituting them with my resin DFS230 models.  This went fine except that Andy's first glider landed right on top of the Home Guard position on the cliffs so the alarm was given somewhat early in the proceedings!

I'm afraid I was a little cruel to Rob.  When he'd planned to use all three assault squads, I informed him that one of them had failed to arrive. This may or may not have had anything to do with the number of glider models I have!

The action at the clifftop turned into a fierce close-range firefight.  The Fallschirmjaeger were thrown back to the hedge lining the clifftop road.

Meanwhile, the troops from Andy's second glider moved out to secure the road between the village centre and the cliffs. 

Rob got his two gliders down in a nice tight landing zone and moved out towards the north side of Fearnley Whittingstall.

One of the German squads moved out to surround the village pub...

This proved to be a good move as the scientist (accompanied by Dr VR Smith of British Scientific Intelligence) had sneaked out of Rose Cottage (where the Grenadier Guards thought he was spending the evening).

The action in the village turned into a firefight between the Jaegers around the pub and the Home Guard at the Village Hall.

The Home Guard deploy their Northover Projector
next to the Village Hall
During the fighting in the village, the German naval force arrived at the beach in their Landwasserschlepper.

The Brandenburger mine clearing team discovered that the minefield was dummy.

And by the time the Brandenburger reached the path up from the beach their Fallschirmjaeger colleagues had driven off the Home Guard.

In the end the Germans had secured the route between the village and the beach but they were unable to drive off the Home Guard and the remains of the Grenadiers around the Village Hall.  When we reached the end of the available time I decided to call it a narrow British victory.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

A large Frenchman

My mother-in-law gave me this 54mm figure at Christmas.

It was painted by an old friend of hers (now deceased) and she thought I would value it.  It clearly means a lot to her.

I don't know the manufacturer but I believe he's a French fusilier (grenadier?) from the Republican Wars or possibly from the early Napoleonic period.  Interestingly he appears to have a knife and spoon attached to his hat!

Unfortunately the metal is severely oxidised.  I'm going to have to look into how best to clean it and repaint it if it's to survive.