Books I have read and recommend.

Monday, November 21, 2016

PICKETT'S CHARGE! NEW ACW Rules from Too Fat Lardies,... well sorta.

Recently the team at Too Fat Lardies teamed up with David C R Brown of 'Guns at Gettysburg' and 'General de Brigade' fame to produce 'PICKETT'S CHARGE'!
Well I had a quick hit out with the new 'PICKETT'S CHARGE' (PC) Rules and I'll say right off the bat I'm impressed!
These are great rules that give a great feel for commanding a Division or Corps during the ACW.
LIKES

Command and Control:
A proper command and control system that places you in the situation of a Divisional Commander, having to prioritize where your main effort will be. Brigades are deployed with Regiments allocated places withing the brigade area and they (the Regiments) must remain there, unless a staff officer is sent to rearrange where Regiment within the brigade can be redeployed. For example,...
The 1st brigade will deploy its 4 regiments as follows: the 3rd New York on the right, 5th NY on the left, the 12th Pennsylvania in the center and the 25th Maine behind the 12th Penn".
Now those Regiments must remain in that formation relevant to each other unless a staff officer is posted to rearrange the deployment.
In other words when the Brigade moves the individual Regiments maintain their positions (flanks, center, reserve) within the Brigade formation.
Artillery:
If you blaze away all day with your guns it wont be long before your gunners are fatigued and ammo is low. You are forced to prioritize your targets and make sure you have your guns ready to support the main effort, be that shooting in support of an infantry assault or "driving off the enemies guns on that thar younder ridge-line,.".

Sequence of play: both players are engaged throughout the game. no one is left sitting around.
Mechanisms:
Resolving firing and Close Combat is very simple. What else can I say. Essentially a Battalion will fire with two dice. If the Battalion is LARGE it receives extra Casualty Dice (CD) which give you a increased probability of doing some damage. Small Battalions fire with two dice also but on what is another table giving less brutal results.
Artillery Fire is particularly well modeled with an option to engage in ARTILLERY ASSAULTS reminiscent of Lee's effort of blowing a hole in the union lines prior to the Charge these rules are named for. And just like that event you will run a risk of 'Burning out' your gunners and their ammo if you are too cavalier with your artillery fire.
Another thing I loved was how Fire Disciple can fall apart and once that happens it important you get your Battalion / Regiment back under control as their fire will become less effective.
Fog Of War (FOW):
There is a very simple FOW mechanism built into the game. Brigades that are hidden simply have a Card placed on the table behind the hill or in the woods that they are deployed behind / within. When enemy come within sighting range they are revealed and troops deployed. OR
A staff Officer can be sent forward to scout the position and reveal to the Divisional commander what awaits his men,...
FRICTION: 
It is well inserted into the game. You can never be sure your orders will be obeyed. You can send staff officers from your HQ to pressure Brigade commanders to do as directed but you're never a certainty,...

PACE:                                                                                                                                                  
The game moves along at a brisk pace and plas very quickly.

DISLIKES:

I can honestly say I can't find anything to dislike about these rules.

We played the Attack on the Sunken Lane scenario straight out of the rules, based on the Federal assault on the Sunken )Bloody) Lane at Antietam in September of 1862.
I played as the assaulting Union Division under French.

I decided to simply go 'up the guts' simply to see what kind of result the rules would produce.
Not surprisingly the Union troops took an utter pounding.
Of my 5 Brigades only 2 (the Irish 🍀 Bde and a Brigade of New Yorkers) managed to even reach the sunken lane.
Even then none managed to cross bayonets with the Rebs. The best result we achieved was to get a Regiment of New York Zouaves to crest the lane's near edge and pour in a single volley before being force to retire.
Tip for young players: it's not wise to deploy brigades one in front of another.
Deploy them side by side. Otherwise (as the Rebs at Shilo found out) you'll soon have a jumble of regiments from different brigades getting under each other's feet. And that sucks

These rules are extremely bloody and if you don't coordinate your attacks and successfully soften up an enemy which has terrain in his favour you'll be fortunate to have any success in the assault.
The command and control system, with its use of 'Staff Officers' to provide influence on your brigade commanders is a very simply yet elegant way of simulation command 'friction'.


The game moves along at a brisk pace and you never feel like a spectator.
Though your individual Regiments / Battalions are the maneuver elements it is the Brigade that is the formation of decision.

So how does PC compare with other rules?
I've never played 'Guns at Gettysburg' so I can't comment on that but I have played the well played and respected 'FIRE & FURY' (F&F) rules.
I would say (IMHO) that I prefer PC over F&F in so far as even though the focus is on the 'Brigade' the Regiment is still the fighting unit you're focused on with other regiments within the brigade providing support to the 'Lead Regiment'. In other words you Brigade needs to fight AS a brigade with attention paid to how the individual Regiments are deployed and if they are mutually supporting. A lone Regiment will soon find itself in deep KAKA.
Melee results are similar to those you find in F&F with the usual result being a repulsed attacker (in various stages of disorder) or the defender 'giving way' prior to any bayonets or clubbed muskets being used.
Even when melees do happen they are brief and bloody.
PC fits neatly into that place between F&F and Regimental
You can hear an Interview with the rules author with the chaps at MEEPLES AND MINIATURES HERE

Monday, September 12, 2016

Battlefield Accessories, All At Sea (and up the river)

Hi Team
Battlefield Accessories (BA) has been a favourite producer of Wargames terrain and models of mine for some time.
The team there have produced some outstanding models in the past and recently have been going from strength to strength.
No so long ago I approached Michael at BA to produce a ACW ironclad of the CSS Virginia type to use in some ACW scenarios I've been planning.
After all the River Fleets played a big part in that conflict.
BA has produced not 1 but 2 models for that conflict, namely an Ironclad, (City Class) and a steamer.
Now they have produced a ship for the Ancient period,...
I recently obtained a fantastic new kit from Battlefield Accessories!
Their very swish Roman Quiqureme galley!






The model can be purchased as a small or large kit.
The smaller model consists of a fore and aft section and hull section. 
The larger kit has two hull sections and a corvus (a device used by the Romans to grapple and board enemy ships).
Both models have removable banks of oars.
This is significant as it was a major tactic of the day to shear off your enemies oars to disable them.
The kits are all made from quality materials (3mm MDF), and the parts fit together very snugly and securely.
As with all BA kits, construction is intuitive however there are videos that are available for download via YouTube. I've included the link that will lead you step by step through construction of the kit.
This is a very superior option to written or printed instructions unless you live in a cave without access to the Internet. The fact the kits are only available via the Internet seems to negate that possibility,...
I've not included any photos here of the kit I've constructed as I'm in the process of 'pimping' my model, (painting and 'adding' some extra bits like ropes and shields).
However the video bellow shows you what a magnificent kit this really is:


Whilst there I'd recommend you look at the other kits that BA have, in particular the fantastic ACW vessels!

And


You can always subscribe to the BA YouTube channel and get the oil on all their fantastic kits.
Here's the link to the Battlefields Accessories online Shop:


Whilst there check out this beauty,....


Saturday, June 4, 2016

LITTLE WARS 2016 round up





ABOVE AND BELOW: "Let's ago Viking"! A SAGA game at LITTLE WARS


Last Sunday 29 May 2016 I made my almost 'religious pilgrimage' to my favourite event on the Australian Wargames Calendar, 'LITTLE WARS'. A one day 'Showcase' event of Wargaming.
As usual there was a swag of participation and demo games on.
The guys from League Of Ancients put on an impressive PLATAEA battle with scores of Persians and City State Greeks battling it out.
There was a least two SAGA / Cross and Crescent games being played.
Also there was at least two 'Miniature variants' of the excellent Command and Colors' games being played.
Traders were present flogging their wares and the bring and buy stall as usual was up and running though I didn't see much this year in the 'second hand' stall too get excited about.
 


I thought some of the games on display this year were a bit below par. I really dislike games that have notes, QRS and food liberally splattered around tables, or miniatures that aren't well painted at 'Showcase' events and unfortunately there were a couple like that.
Fortunately however they were the exception to the rule. Most games presented lovely miniatures on nice terrain. 
Maybe next year I'll put on a participation game, (and then someone can criticise my efforts)
BELOW: HOPLITES!!! Who doesnt love seeing massed Hoplites?


BELOW: The Battle of Plataea 479BC. An impressive game put on by the Chaps from The League Of Ancients. One of the better demo games!

 BELOW: The games and trade stalls.
 BELOW: A very nice 6mm Samurai game "To The Strongest" I believe it was called. Nice terrain, Nice miniatures. An uncluttered table. As demo games should be.
 BELOW: A '300' version of Thermopylae?




ABOVE AND BELOW: TRIBAL!An exciting new Skirmish game between ancient tribes and clans. In this case Maori Warriors have at each other! It's all about honour,... 

 For Me the highlight of the day was discovering TRIBAL. A very interesting set of Skirmish rules for pretty much any period up to the advent of firearms, (though I think they could be adapted for them).
I'll post a review of these exciting new rules soon.

 ABOVE: A very nice canoe produced by BATTLEFIELD ACCESSORIES. 
Warriors (BELOW) are 28mm EUREKA Miniatures.





Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Napoleonic Miniatures Museum


BELOW: Royal Horse Guards
Hi Guys
A very quick post.
My mate Danl has started a great new Online Resource for all the Napoleonic buffs out there:

You'll find photos of various painted miniatures in various scales from a variety of manufactures.
Such as these 28mm Perry Household Cavalry that Danl (Gunner Dunbar) recently painted for me.
I highly recommend you pop over and check out some fantastic painting. 


 ABOVE AND BELOW: LIFE GUARDS


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Chain Of Command AAR: Action at Petit Fromage

ABOVE: The SS men fire at the British Cromwell tank!
Hi Guys.
I live in semi rural Victoria and sometimes, (often) I struggle to find opponents to game with.
I think Chain of Command shows real promise as a a good old fashion 'Play By Mail' (PBM) game,...
Or should I say a 'Play By Social Media' (PBSM) game.
So I'll set up a game,.. Set the parameters (Situation, Mission ect) and then post some photos from the perspective of one (or both maybe) combatants.
Then request someone (anyone) to send orders, probably via 'Messenger' for secrecy if having both sides played 'remotely'.
I play the phases until a 'hinge point' is achieved.
Maybe a CoC die has become available,...
Maybe the original orders are getting us nowhere,...
And then I play the game to a conclusion.
So with the that in mind I set up the following game and soon had a nice chap named Kris offer to play the Platoon Commander for the British.
Here's how it played out,...

First, lets set the scene, the scenario and the very very 'Quick Orders' for the British from Company HQ.


7th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment

A Company
3rd Platoon
25 June 1944
West of Caen
The last of the young corporals moved into the hasty 'O' Group. The Platoon Commander gave a curt "Cheers" to the Battalion Adjutant Captain Morris and then turned back to the three corporals. Sergeant Crab was collecting 2 inch Mortar rounds from the CSM,...
"Bloody hell Sir, that's a grand total of 5 smoke and 3 HE! I'm hardly going to blast Jerry of the ridge with this"!
The CSM gave a sharp reply:
"Stop ya whinging Sergeant! In my day we just had rocks,....
Besides, the Trailapes (Artillery) will do all the stonking you need lovely boy"!

Lt Baker commenced his orders,....


"Quick Orders.

Situation:
Ahead is the crossroads at Petit Fromage.
Enemy: 
It's believed elements of the 12th SS are holding the objective.
We expect them to be supported by 'some' armour,.."..
Corporal Barry Haree chimed in:
"Probably bloody Tigers"!
Lt Baker frowned:
"Thank you Harry for that positive input.
May I continue?
Fritz has at least a platoon is in there. The 12th SS are all young die hard Nazis. I don't expect we' take many prisoners.
Friendlies:
We have 3 Cromwells from the 24th Lancers in Support.
We have air supremacy, but with the weather being so shite don't expect any air support.
Artillery is stonking the crossroads as you can hear.
Mostly 5.5 inch.

Mission:

3 platoon, supported by a Troop of tanks from 24th Lancers is to advance to contact and then seize the crossroads at Petit Fromage.
Repeat
3 platoon, supported by a Troop of tanks from 24th Lancers is to advance to contact and then seize the crossroads at Petit Fromage.

Execution:

(This is the bit the remote PBSM player contributes).
As I told him:
Your orders can be as detailed or as brief as you want.
Your intent is really all that is needed by me.
For example.
1 section on the right is to,...
2 section on the left is to,....
3 Section will be in depth with me.
One tank will be in support of each section
Or
All tanks will mass on the left / right / road,....
You get the idea.

Back to our 'O' Group,....

This is what Kris came up with:

"Section 1 to push towards the stone fence in front of position and then to remain on overwatch looking towards the houses forward and to the right flank.
The 2 inch mortar to support and drop smoke as required for sections 2 and 3 Section 3 push forward quickly using the field as cover aiming to get to the stone wall to the center Section 2 to push into the just vacated building of section 3 and then to follow in haste through the field towards the stone wall to the right flank more so. This will stop the sections bunching up. Cromwell on the road cautious advance up road ready to swing in behind cover when the enemy appears. The lads in section 1 are to be on the look out for panzerfausts or any AT weapons.
Common men lets at it, Jerry's not going to wait all day for us!"

"Admin and Log:
We have the Adjt with us! BHQ obviously sees our company as the main effort and the OC sees our platoon as the tip of the spear,...
We also have CPL Avnil the medic with us,.. So if you cop a Blighty we'll have you sorted.
Command and Signals:
The Radio nets are unchanged. Company signals will be back at the FUP, with the Adjt.
Chain of Command is Me (Lt Baker), then Sgt Crab, then Seco 3 Section, Seco 1 then Seco 2.
The rest can fight it out,...
The Adjt will feed the lads forward as required so I'll be with you lads all the way.
That's it,...
Move out"!

I determined the details on the individual 'BIG MEN' using the matrix in PLATOON FORWARD available from Too Fat Lardies. I highly recommend this PDF as it can be used with any rule system not just CoC or IABSM.


Platoon Commander Lt Baker:

Optimistic family man  (Popular with the Lads) and reckless. He was a salesman at his father's corner shop before the war. Joined the Regiment in June of '43.

Platoon Sgt Crab: 

Likable and a 'True Believer' in their cause. "We're in a great crusade Lads! Let's kill all these Nazi swine"!
'Mud' has an even combat temperament. The lads respect his rank and the man (+1) for 'Rally' purpose, (removes one extra shock every time he Rallies the lads).

Section 1 CPL 'Crafty' Thompson:

Cunning family man even combat temperament (+1 when in HtH or directing fire).

Section 2 CPL 'Bibles' Bower: 

Glum and Religious with an even combat temperament (+1 dice when firing)

Section 3 CPL 'Snake' Rattler: 

A real nasty chap and 'Position' conscious (always looking secure promotion) and bold in combat (+1 dice in HtH)

I sent SITUATION REPORTS (Sit Reps) to Kris as the game progressed.

So, on with the game,...









The two British sections on the right briskly moved forward but soon Section 3 came under heavy fire from 2 MG42s generating 18 dice worth of fire and despite being in hard cover the leading section started taking casualties.
Their Section Commander Cpl Rattler was soon down with a wound!
The Platoon Commander sent SGT Crab off to assist 1 Section that was busy moving forward towards the hedges on the slight rise ahead whilst he himself moved up with the support section behind 3 section.
As 1 section advanced they heard the rumble of a tanks engine in the village ahead and then saw movement.
They identified the enemy tank as a TIGER and reported its presence.
To complicate the situation even more a German 75mm Pak Anti Tank Gun also made its presence know when it opened fire on the Cromwell tank on the road, Call Sign (C/S) 2 from the British Armour support troop.
1 this is 3-1!

Sit Rep
Section 1 has reached the hedge on the ridge and is in Overwatch
Our mortar is directly to their rear in the corner of the wheat field in position to provide Fire Support
Section 2 is positioned to provide covering fire for section 3
Section 3 is directly opposite the large farm building with the Red Roof.
Two Ironside elements of Cromwell Tanks are to the rear of sections 2 and 3
Ironside C/S 2 Cromwell on the road has been engaged by a 75mm AT gun on the road near the Farm complex gate.
The round missed!
Enemy tank is unobserved. Assumed to be in amongst the smaller buildings opposite 1 section
.
Wait,..

OUT"!





The Cromwell on the road returned fire on the Pak 75mm with HE and quickly killed one of the SS Gunners with a blast of shrapnel from a near miss,...
However the SS Men were not to be rattled and their third AP round stuck the Cromwell directly in the Hull MG position.
C/S Ironside 2 burst into flames with just the Sergeant commander tumbling out of the turret with a shard of metal in his right arm.
Meanwhile Section 2 moved off to their right to prepare for an assault on the large red roofed building that was giving Section 3 such grief.
Simultaneously the remaining two Cromwell tanks fired HE rounds into the Farm Building now called 'BIG RED'. The fire hardly slackened from the the building however and Section 3 suffered another casualty and more 'Shock'.


"1 THIS IS 3-1
Sit rep
3 section is taking very heavy fire from the Farm building. Section Commander wounded with Gun Shot Wound (GSW)
 to right leg and left foot. 1 KIA, 1 WIA, GSW right leg.
2 section moving to assault
1 section advancing on left.
Ironsides C/S 2 has been knocked out.
4 KIA, 1 bailed out.
Ironside C/S 1 and 3 in support.
Smoke from platoon asset blinding Farm House.
Wait,..
Out"!


By now Section 1 reached the 'Stone wall' at the top of the slight rise to discover it was just a hedge.
Now the two SS squads in the cluster of buildings and hasty barricade burst to life!
Their four MG42s hurled buckets of lead into the unfortunate Tommies,...
The German tank rumbled up in support and the British sergeant identified it as a Panzer IV NOT a Tiger.
(I deliberately fed back some false information here)
As soon as the Brits noticed a tank I would roll a dice and based on rank / experience give an accurate or inaccurate target description.
Initially the Corporal rolled poorly (he rolled a 5 when he needed 1-3) and screamed "TIGER"!  
The more experienced Sergeant however was less prone to making the same mistake (needing a roll of 1-4 to get it right)

The PzIV still added some punch however.
To counter this the Brit 2 inch Mortar dropped some smoke to blind the SS Tank and one of the MG42s. This was in addition to the smoke that they had dropped earlier in front of 'BIG RED' permitting 2 Section to get in close for an assault on that building.

"9. This is 1-3 
Sit Rep 
Section 1 coming under extremely heavy fire from the vicinity of house to our front. 
One MG 42 engaging from hasty barricade and one MG 42 engaging us from house.
1 KIA, 3 WIA. Enemy tank is confirmed as a Pz 4. 
I say again, Pz IV. En PzIV and one MG42 blinded. 
Advancing would be difficult unsupported. 
More to follow,.... 
Section 2 is positioned for assault on large from building now nicknamed "Big Red". 
Firing from Big Red has ceased. 
Seco 2 Section suggested flanking movement to the right more secure. 
More to follow,... 
Section 3 has sustained another casualty Currently 1 KIA, 3 WIA including Seco. 
C/S Ironside 1 and 3 providing good support. 
End Report Out.


With smoke covering the Brit advance onto 'BIG RED' the Germans within that building withdrew into the farm yard.
The Tank fire had killed one of them and cause a little shock.

The smoke fired from the british 2 inch mortar that fell infront of the German tank did require it to be repositioned.
In doing so the SS tank commander exposed himself ever so slightly to the British Cromwells

Shots were exchanged by the 'Hull Down' tanks but luck was with the British tankers and soon the Panzer IV was a blazing wreck!
But there the good news ended.

The fire from the SS MG 42s however did not slacken,...




"9 This is 1-3 Sit Rep Section 1 virtually destroyed. CPL down, WIA 2 KIA, 5 WIA. Only Bren gunner and number two in the fight. 
More to follow,... 
 Section 2. Has assaulted Big Red Enemy has disengaged. Assumed to have fallen back to positions within farmyard. 
1 enemy KIA discovered in Big Red. 
More to follow,...
 Section 3. No change from previous report. Seco has been treated by 'Starlight' and is back in the fight.
 More to follow,... 
 Sunray minor (SGT) is directing fire of 2 inch. 
Reports enemy fire is extremely heavy and accurate 
More to follow,... 
 Enemy AFV Pz 4 has been destroyed by concentrated fire from Ironside elements. My Foxhound (Infantry) element Casualties heavy. 
Command and Control at final limit. (Force Moral 5!) 
 Strong wind has dispersed blinding smoke. 
Fire from at least 4 MG42s in vicinity of brown buildings is heavy and extremely accurate! 
Request permission to disengage! 
End of Report! 
Out"!

I called the game to an end at this point.

If I did one more phase it would have played out as follows (as i decided to roll some more dice out of curiosity):

The four SS MG42 in the vicinity of the collection of buildings before section 1 hurled their 34 dice to wipe out the sole remaining men of 1 Section.
British moral collapsed to 3. 
Conclusion
PBSM Works quite nicely.
The added bonus is you can include as little or as much information to share with the players as you see fit. Much like a "Dungeons and Dragons" Game-master would.
I'd like to have another go soon but with BOTH sides controlled be remote players.
The 'Fog Of War' that can be introduced by only showing what the actual 'models' can see.
COMMENTS WELCOMED as usual.
MERRY CHRISTMAS