Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Thursday, 12th October

Another eclectic games night at Black Wolf.

First off, Dave & Phil were trying out Viking Dux, from the Christmas 2012 Lardies Special.

This Viking Dux game was fun. Dave and I both struggled with how to use the rather unruly Berserkers. Mine ran off straight into Dave’s levy, as soon as he advanced the levy and who's leader had not yet had time to form them into shieldwall. After a couple of rounds and a few dead on each side, my berserkers were driven back. This then caused Dave’s berserkers to charge at my rebuffed berserkers and then having then driven them from the field, Dave’s Berserkers immediately charged headlong into Ragnar and his elite hirdsmen! These berserkers just keep going until they fail in combat! Entertaining, but of limited military utility to both sides, as we used them!? However, the MDF chit activation is much easier than trying to "shuffle" a deck of 8 cards (thanks Warbases). Vikings now make a really nice addition to the Dux repertoire.

Meanwhile on a table across the way and sometime around 236BC…..

Following the 1st Punic War the Carthaginians are seeking to expand in Iberia and grow a territory to economically exploit and re-build to challenge the power of Rome.

The forces of Carthage and their Iberian allies ( Simon and Malcolm) took on a surly Spanish force ( Chris and Tony).  Choosing the army had been quite interesting as it is the Carthaginian army pre-Hannibal and has some limitations in troop selection; hence why Simon had some true “Spanish allies”.

The game began well with the forces of civilisation winning the scouting. So Tony and Chris deployed first.  Disaster in turn 1 as the Carthaginians quickly drew two 1s to end their turn. Spanish triumphalism was short lived as they too drew quickly drew a 1. Eileen looked on with grim amusement, and we could sense the spirit of Greg ("I've found all the 1s") in the room.

The two left wings both cavalry-heavy quickly advanced and started to win their  own battles. The centre turned into a hard battle of attrition for the infantry.

Casualties steadily mounted for both sides and we thought it was all over for us when the Spanish camp fell. Miraculously a unit of elite Balearic slingers charged the Spanish light cavalry in the flank and destroyed them recapturing the camp and saving Malcolm’s Spanish from demoralisation.

By 21.30 both sides were down to only 3 victory medals each. It was clear that this would be the final turn……something would have to give. The Gallic mercenaries in the centre made one final charge for the Carthaginian camp and glory….only to fail and die heroically in the Spanish counter-attack giving victory to the Spanish.

Once again an excellent game that proved what a good set of rules TtS is.

Elsewhere we had some Peter Pig Square Bashing (sorry no photo), a game of Congo and a interesting ECW game. Another mixed night at Black Wolf.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Mons Graupius, AD84, or Black Wolf, 21st Sept 2017?

Calgacus (Mal) surveyed the terrifying scene before him. These Romans certainly were persistent! They had remorselessly pursued his forces up into the highlands, until now, with their winter food supplies threatened, the Caledonians were forced to turn and face the deadly Roman killing machine in open battle.

The battle started very badly on the Caledonian left flank (Phil’s bit). An overwhelming superiority in Caledonian light cavalry (the Romans had put all their cavalry on the more open left flank) was rapidly decimated by the fire from the Roman Olympic archery team! Never-the-less, the massed ranks of the Caledonian warrior blocks still pressed forward in the centre.

Amongst the sweating, grunting and blood-letting (and this was just the players!), fortunes were going either way, but slightly more in the favour of the Romans. The pila, scutium and gladius combination was working its age old grim reaping, although the Caledonians did manage punch a couple of holes in the Roman line, it was at a high cost, with most of the deep warrior units carrying 1 or 2 disorder markers. Then the Caledonian left flank started to crumble, after the loss of 2 of its big warrior blocks.

However it was left to a motely group of women, boys and old men (single peasant deep unit) to hang-on on to the Caledonian far left, distracting four Roman legionary & Auxiliary units from the task of rolling-up the Caledonian centre. This struggle however was only going to go one way, but they had bought much needed time for the Caledonian right flank and in the process shamed the manhood of Rome!
Calgaus (Mal) used this time to press into the two small holes created in the Roman centre and at the same time completely envelop the Roman right flank (Brian). Soon Caledonian light cavalry and light infantry was pecking vigorously on all the exposed flanks of the hard-pressed Romans and their chariots were threatening the Roman rear.

A loss of two Roman legionary units suddenly started to even up the medal tally situation (which had left the Caledonians down to only 2 victory medals for the majority of the latter part of the game). The Roman left (Dave) now started to fall upon the Caledonian troops enveloping the right hand side of the now hard-pressed Roman left. At one point, a Roman legionary unit mounted four attacks into the unprotected rear of a Caledonian warrior (deep) unit, only to come away with inflicting a single disorder! In fact the Caledonians did not even deign to turn to face the Romans. They just fell while still facing the forward! (Although some suspicion started to fall on the motivation of the Roman units?!).

Yet, the Caledonian centre still refused to collapse! The Romans too, were now down to only 2 Victory medals. So, in the end, it was left to Mal’s wide riding light chariots to sweep into the Roman camp and scoop-up the last 2 Roman victory medals. Caledonia was now free, a new history is forged! The dingy place in the North was free of Southern civilisation attempts….hang-on, has anything changed?!
Yet another nail biting game from ‘To the Strongest’ and another lesson that, with these rules, one should never give up! “You can disorder our units, but you will never take away our last victory medals!!”, was the cry.

Elsewhere, a very strange sight greeted to the club members, Pete using a computer!! At least 4 club members had smart phones out to capture the occasion, concerned that others would not believe them. He was looking like he actually knew what he was doing, well until he went round the club members, asking them to scribble their email addresses onto a scrap of paper. He was later found trying to poke this piece of paper into the optical disk drive of the laptop!  

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Florence v the Papacy (C14th-15th ish) battle

The latest To the Strongest battle to be played between club members was a late medieval battle between the forces of the city state of Florence and the army of the Papal States.  The Florentine forces were commanded by the married couple Chris and Eileen using the Early Italian Condotta lists, while the Papal Forces under the command of Simon were taken for the Later Italian Condotta lists, obviously the Papacy had got first refusal on the new Gucci kit of the C15th, but would it help them secure victory?  Only time would tell. 

With the second Papal general unexpectedly delayed the Papal forces won the scouting and so the Florentines set up with their heavy cavalry taking the centre, with crossbow men on the near flanks and light cavalry on the wings, two camps near the centre were protected by units of spearmen who adopted a defensive posture.  The army was split into two commands with Chris on the left and Eileen on the right.  The Papal army set up similarly although with more Heavy Cavalry including some with the very latest kit (Later Knight) holding the centre of their line and the right flank with a mixture of crossbowmen and a unit of pikes (the very latest thing apparently – just don’t say that in front of Alexander the Great).  Simon had split his army into three commands for greater tactical flexibility.

The first turn started predictably with the Papal force lumbering towards their opponents, The Florentine response started badly with Chris forces closing with the enemy while Eileen stalled at the first draw (1).  Memories of a recent battle where Eileen managed to draw a 1 as her first chit in five of the six turns caused groans from the Florentine command team.

The Florentine Left Flank engage the shiny Papal Knights (on the left)

The second turn saw the start of bow fire and the initial clash of the knights as the Florentine cavalry charged their foes, some damage was caused but no units were lost in the centre however both sets of Florentine light cavalry advanced across the board, on the right the Papal skirmishing crossbows were cut down by accurate bow fire while on the left the Papal and Florentine Light exchanged desultory volleys arrows to little effect.

Turn three saw the Papacy in the ascendent with a hole being torn in the Florentine centre and a column of the best Papal cavalry on their right flank starting to push through the Florentine defences.  Sadly for the Pontiff the Papal troops failed to take advantage of the breach and it was quickly sealed by Eileen’s cavalry moving to fill the gap meanwhile the flanking column was damaged by crossbow bolts.

Papal flanking column menacing the Florentine crossbowmen

Turn 4 saw little significant action in the centre with some ineffectual attacks making little headway.  The Papal attack column rallied and then was promptly disrupted again by the shooting of the raw crossbowmen facing them.

Turn 5 saw Papal heavy cavalry in the centre starting to get the worst of the deal with most units disrupted and one destroyed.  The attack column of the right made no progress and the Papal light cavalry were destroyed by their Florentine opponents.  Both Florentine Light cavalry forces advanced round their respective flanks toward the Papal camp.

Turn 6 saw the end of the battle for the Papal army.  Their centre collapsed with the rapid elimination of their remaining Heavy Cavalry leaving a massive hole in the Papal centre while the Florentine Light cavalry continued in their double envelopment to get within attack distance of their camp.  Surveying the battlefield saw Simon throw in the Papal towel and the battle was over with victory to the forces of Florence!

The Papal Centre is missing!

Overall a fun battle, well fought, with 130 points aside and completion in approximately 1 hour.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Battle of GermanTown, 1777

Last night witnessed  another of Tony’s AWI 28mm extravaganzas, the battle of Germantown, using the “Loose Files and American Scramble” rules.

Having gone to the trouble of bringing his boxes of terrain Tony decided to make the most of it.  The Americans advanced into a maze of fields and fences towards Germantown in a heavy mist.  Under “Loose Files and American Scramble” advancing in anything but a straight line across open ground is not straightforward.  This was not going to be easy for the Americans.

The Americans in the centre and right flank advanced through the fog towards the Chew House to engage what they thought was a British Regiment in front of them. After firing and causing casualties the British regiment mysteriously disappeared into the fog and re-appeared intact inside the building.

The troops on the left slogged through the fields having to stop at fences and then continue. Just as they were about to break into open ground they were set upon by American reinforcements and the desultory fire from off table caused some confusion in the ranks as well as severely wounding the general in command of the militia.  

The Americans tried to storm Chew House but were driven off with heavy casualties and a broken regiment.  Seeing no  way of advancing into the village the  brigade halted to exchange desultory musket fire with the British defenders.  Given the American command and control limitations  and the difficulties in manoeuvering troops under these rules, there was not much option, especially given the congested area on the American left.

On the left flank the troops cleared the maze of fields and started to advance across more open ground around Germantown. Suddenly a volley of fire from a single building decimated one of the lead regiments. Not good. However the reinforcements advancing from the left flank managed to get three units into close combat range with the British light infantry in the same building .  Dice were rolled and an American victory was declared with the British fleeing from the house.

With the evening drawing on the Americans began to line up for an assault on the British camp held by Von Knyphausen’s Hessians. However it was decided to call the game a draw at this point with the Americans about to take possession of the town although Chew House was still holding out, it was about to be surrounded. This was a reasonable re-enactment in miniature of Germantown with confusion and the American focus on their inability to take Chew House.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Poland 1939, Battlegroup

This evening's game was Poland 1939, using Battlegroup.
Rather than the usual Blitzkrieg, with the 'all concurring' Germans rolling over the brave Poles, this one was to see the Poles on the counter-attack...... well almost!
The strong German picket line held the village edge and the open ground to the right of the village. Realising they likely faced stiff opposition from MG fire and artillery, the Polish rushed as many tanks as their meagre orders would allow, forward toward the village. However, only two TKS tankettes made it. The 3 Vickers tanks were burning or pinned from a devastating German artillery strike.
Sadly the two brave Polish tankettes were quickly mopped up by 3 Panzer II reinforcements, sweeping around the left flank.
The Poles then changed tack and deployed massed infantry in a near suicidal attempt to storm the village. However, once again the German guns simply pinned the Polish infantry and those that did manage to struggle through the shrapnel storm, were quickly driven back by MG34 fire from the village itself.

At this point the Polish command wisely decided to withdraw, noting that an attack on a prepared defensive position, into artillery, across a narrow front, was some advice that appeared to be missing from the tactical manual!!
Elsewhere we had a SAGA game with Normans vs Welsh, with the Welsh seemingly getting right up the Norman noses!

Further down the hall we had Jim's rather interesting looking Japanese game and across the way, John's AWI game.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Arzamene, To the Strongest

In the year of our Lord 421AD the forces of Theodosius were defeated on the plain of Arzamene…..so will read the history.

The Romans were comprehensively outscouted, so advantage now lay with the followers of Ahura Mazda.

The Sassanid left flank General then advanced with uncharacteristic boldness and soon Rob had his elephants and cavalry in action with the weaker Roman right. With TtS’s two unluckiest Generals now facing each other, someone’s luck would have to change! However, the fates now seemed aligned against Greg's Romans.

In the centre Dave's Sassanids advanced towards the massed Roman infantry. Lance vs pilum. This would not end well for someone.

On the Sassanid right their small, bearded General manoeuvred around the woods with his light cavalry and pushed his heavies forward toward Eileen's veteran superior numbers of heavy cavalry.  Interesting tactics…!?

Back on the Sassanid left, their advance continued relentlessly with the Romans being pressed back and eventually most of their forces ended up being retired off the table, leaving the heroic Clibanarii to finally succumb to a flank charge.  Demoralisation for the right wing!

Dave's Sassanids did eventually manage to punch a hole in the centre but seemed reluctant to follow up as the Legionaries maintained a frustratingly solid line elsewhere.

On the far right flank the Sassanids were starting to get the upper hand over the more aggressive Romans and were starting to outmanoeuvre and kill units. However, the small hairy Sassanid General’s gloating may be leading to marital issues, I look forward to visiting him in hospital!

With both Roman flanks in now in disarray and the centre in danger of collapse the Romans conceded the field. The Arzamene campaign was over.

It was slightly surprising that neither side played their stratagem, as both cards would have been useful in this game. However, both sides seemed intent on rummaging through the chit bags, trying to find the most inappropriate scores!

The “Even Stronger V3” 'Group Move' and Rout Test rules seemed to work, and the understanding that units cannot be rallied in a zone of control made life a little more complicated with more opportunity to exploit a success.

All players will undoubtedly be glad to hear that Simon's finger is recovering well from its impaling on a Roman cavalryman’s upright spear…..It is probably in better shape than Mr Banks nether regions, following his victorious gloating!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Another eclectic Thursday at Black Wolf

This Thursday's gaming saw a new group of players getting to grips and enjoying the 'To the Strongest' ancients rules. This makes about 70% of the club members who have tried the rules and enjoy them! John D has even started a civilized correspondence with Mr Miller about the forthcoming ECW version.

Another table appeared to be a rather low key Peter Pig game, noteworthy mainly for Pete's rather fruity language!

Then we had the "F" word game (Frostgrave)! Not only does it look strange, it also seems a bit of a throw-back to hordes of unwashed RPG / D&D players from the '70s and '80s. Rather unpleasant in today's polite gaming society. Hearing Tony say that he had a number of magical artifacts brought back really bad memories, not to mention what he was doing with his 'familiar'!!

The other two tables saw games using the Too Fat Lardies Dux Britanniarum rules. Both tables looked very nice, with Phil's superb home-made terrain on one table and my hernia-inducing Grand Manner buildings on the other. On one table we had the pluky Romano-Brits trying to stop some Irish Raiders from ransacking their church. Greg's Irish raiders gained a 4 move initial advantage, including a triple 6 roll for some cavalry, which meant that the game was played around the very door of the church! Simon's British managed to get onto the table and form a shieldwall, which kept the Irish penned in, albeit if the British levy were badly shaken by the end.

Things finally swung against the Irish raiders and a bit of cross-table coaching saw Greg's elite cavalry thrown into a slightly reckless charge against a group of British warriors, This ended badly for Greg's Irish cavalry, as well as ending his hopes of victory.

The other table saw an unusual Dux B game, raider vs raider. Phil's Picts had been expecting a peaceful trade delegation from Dave's Scotti. However, as the Picts moved out to welcome their Scotti visitors, they were set upon in a most cruel and underhanded manner!

Overall the battle was pretty even, with dice roll advantages see-sawing back and forth. In the end, the straw that broke the Pictish back, was the cloud of 8 Scotti skirmishers, inflicting loads of shock on the exposed flanks of the main Pict force. They were soon streaming back through the village, bloodied and broken. A good scrap though!

Next week may see the 1st outing of "A Handful of HOTs", a home grown version of 'A Fistful of TOWs', 1:300 Cold War.