Sunday, July 26, 2020

Virtual Lard 2

Yesterday I took part in the second Virtual Lard event organised by Jeremy Short. As with the first it was a great success. Both games I was involved with were played in an exemplary spirit.

In the morning I played in Mike Whitaker’s “Dawn on the Gothic Line”, which involved three of us commanding a British force attacking a German-held village in Italy. Mike ran the game using I Ain’t Been Shot Mum. Mike knows these rules really well and was able to provide us with a pretty seamless command experience.

It was my first time with IABSM and it tallies with my expectations - every forward move was made with the expectation that it might trigger a devastating German response! Mike ran the game using low camera angles so we could only see approximately what our commanders could see from their battlefield locations.  This added tremendously to the atmosphere and to the sense of paranoia.

Thanks Mike and to my fellow players Henry and Noah for a terrific experience.

I don’t have any pics of Mike’s lovely models but I’ll edit in a link to Mike’s blog if he posts any. Oh and I think there might be a YouTube video too!

After lunch (homemade soup and Tesco’s sourdough bread) I ran my first non-solo Woebetides game "A Bridge Too Far Up River".  I didn’t go with the point-of-view camera approach as to me the Sharp Practice rules are about the story-telling approach and I wanted my players to see the story as it emerged.

In this game Mike Wilkins and Tom ran a British force tasked with escorting a waggon-load of rum across the table. Mike Whitaker and Jim, meanwhile, were  in charge of a French force tasked with destroying the bridge the British planned to use.  In retrospect maybe I should have put both Mike Ws on the same side!

I’d built not one but two new bridges for the scenario. As well as the main road bridge across the Borno river, there was a rather worn-out-looking rope bridge between to perilous crags. 

The French arrived by boat in the form of two Arab dhows and two longboats. Their players had to decide on the positioning of these boats which would be both their Deployment Points and their means of escape. Each dhow could carry two Groups and each longboat one.  

This was a very asymmetric action with the British attempting to drive of the French with fire while the French had three tasks to complete - demolishing the bridge and getting the two dhows successfully turned around in the narrow river. 

As usual, the vagaries of the Sharp Practice activation system led to some interesting command problems for the players. The French struggled to get their larger formation of Sepoys across the bridge and into action, having deployed them from a dhow on the far side of the river from the British. However, by careful play of the flag chits they were able to get their sappers into position and working on the bridge demolition from early in the game.

The British did manage to form a nice, straight firing line along the edge of the woods and caused some significant casualties to the French troops but this was not enough to prevent them completing their mission. By the time Ensign Tom Laine led his group of civilian skirmishes forward towards the crag it was too late; the French had mostly reembarked  and were making their way down-river leaving a demolished bridge behind them. 

When time for the game elapsed there was only on outstanding question. Could M. Choufleur the engineer pick himself up from the dirt in time to catch the last dhow for Fort Charles?

The British, I think, became hypnotised by the effect of their own firing.  Their chances of victory would have been higher if they had engaged the enemy more closely but then they had gone into the action in the first place not knowing what the French intended to do.

Or were they perhaps fooled by Mr Whitaker's insistence that the French engineers were just there to inspect the bridge for the purposes of planning permission?

I really enjoyed the game and I think the players did too. The spirit of the game was honoured throughout And the few rules issues we encountered were resolved amicably.  Thanks Mike, Mike, Jim and Tom for making this such fun.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Virtual Lard 2 scenery test

I've had a go at setting up the terrain for the Sharp Practice game at VL2.

It's all a bit uneven at present because the boards are set up on the spare bed in what was until recently Charlie's room.

You can see the new, large bridge over the river in the centre of the picture. On the left is a rope bridge fore clearly seen below...

I'm going to add a little flock to the new crags to help them blend into the base boards better.  Other than that, I think we're ready to go.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Bridge on the River Borno

I'm running a game of Sharp Practice at Virtual Lard 2 on Saturday. The scenario needs bridge on a large river.

The structure is built from some square-profile bamboo skewers courtesy of J Sainsbury.  The deck is made from some pieces of thin wood veneer I had left over from a previous project and the ramps are scored card as I didn't have enough of the wood.

I painted the structure in Vallejo Medium Sea Grey and then gave it a bit of a semi-drybrush with some Grey Green.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Last Hills

On Sunday we played our first test-game-of-Future-War-Commander-by-Skype. I'd created a scenario based in a Frank Chadwick article in the Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society about forty years ago!

Gus and John commanded elements of the armed forces of LSP (Pynchan) Inc - the corporate government a planet in the Third Imperium (the setting of the Traveller RPG).  Andy and Mark represented to revolutionaries closing in on the capital and on the verge of winning the planet-wide civil war.

As so often with these games, I was too busy trying to keep things moving to take photographs but here are a few.

I set the table up as a desert area with a small settlement and artificially irrigated fields in the centre. There were a few low ridges (marked by lines of gravel), a steep hill, and a steep-sided gully. 

The game was fairly slow as we were feeling our way into the rules.  I think we managed about three turns in four hours. 

Inevitably the built-up area was the focus of the fighting. Below we can see mercenary infantry passing the condenser unit adjacent to the crop-fields. 

The rebels' light combat walkers proved to be unfortunately vulnerable to fire from the government's relatively low-tech tracked tanks...

The picture below shows Government infantry at the front edge of the village.  At that point they had just destroyed a rebel recce unit which had got too close.

I'd made sure I gave all of the players two HQ units and the Government side had a Forward Air Controller. Of course both sides had a CO too. The opinion of the players was that the game had been slow as a result.

We're going to give the system another go, probably with smaller forces.