Games Galore

It seems that game shops in northwest Tasmania are like buses, none for years and then two come along at once. Two dedicated game shops opened in Burnie recently and I was able to visit them with my gorgeous wife just before Christmas. The first shop we visited was called Games on Board. We perused the many games on display that ranged from role playing games to board and miniatures based games. Tables were set out at the back of the shop for gaming and visitors could also try out some of the available games. We had a cordial chat to the owner and made a couple of purchases. The second shop is Mind Games and it offered more standard board games and puzzles that also appealed. Sadly we were unable to buy anything there as we had already spent our spare cash. However we did go back to Games on Board after Christmas and made a further purchase.

While I mostly play historical wargames my interests run to a wide variety of games and it is really great to see two game shops open in the region. While games can be easily browsed and purchased online it isn’t as satisfying an experience as going into a shop and seeing the games on the shelves like so much candy. Internet shopping can’t match the pleasure of picking up a game, handling and examining it before making your choice. There is also the advantage of being able to talk to the friendly shop staff about the qualities of each potential purchase. I wish both shops all the best.

My lovely lady wife and I purchased three games in the end. We bought “Cthulhu Fluxx”, “Firefly Shiny Dice” and “Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition”. “Cthulhu Fluxx” is a card game and “Firefly Shiny Dice” is, unsurprisingly, a dice based game. “Descent: Journeys in the Dark” is a fantasy miniatures board game reminiscent of “Dungeons & Dragons”. Of the three games, I have only had time to play “Firefly Shiny Dice” with my family. It proved to be a quick enjoyable game that captured the character of the Firefly television series and Serenity movie. “Firefly Shiny Dice” is not the only gaming I have done recently in the Firefly universe. My wonderful wife and I have just started playing the “Firefly Role Playing Game” with friends.

 

Firefly RPG and Cthulhu Fluxx

 

Descent

 
On a completely different note I was given a box of the old Airfix 1/72 WWI German Infantry for Christmas. It may prove to be the start of another new period. However, I think it will be a long while before I accrue enough painted figures to have a wargame using the Machine Age rules from One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas.

 

Airfix WW1 Germans

A Bridge so Far!

Yuletide greetings! In my previous post I mentioned that I had completed some small terrain features. These consist of a bridge and hedges that were unearthed during a reshuffle of my wargaming stuff.

Bridge

The first piece is the Italeri Stone Bridge kit that I was given as a gift a few years ago. The kit went together easily and paints up quite well. The model is 1/72 scale but it will, I think, work with figures from 15mm to 40mm. So far the bridge is free standing but at some time in the distant future I intend to place it on a scenic base.

Hedge

The hedges, bought many years ago likewise emerged from the reshuffle. They are simply attached to MDF bases that I cut out and flocked. There were also some virtually complete anti-tank defences but due to an unfortunate accident I’ve had to set them aside for repairs.

 

Veteran Imperial Guard Voltigeurs

It has been a while since the last update to this blog but I haven’t been entirely idle in that time. Since my last post I have completed a unit of second generation Miniature Figurines Imperial Guard voltigeurs. They were bought second hand some time ago and required a few physical repairs before being repainted.

Young Guard Voltigeurs

Young Guard Voltigeurs Command
I have also been working on building the old Airfix 1:76 Bren Gun Carrier and 6pdr Anti-Tank Gun plastic kit (no pictures as yet). This is almost complete and it only remains for me to apply the decals and then a coat of matte varnish when I get around to it. I have further completed some small terrain features and have been doing a bit of home casting but all that will feature in another post.

Ancient and Medieval Wargaming AAR

A few weeks ago a mighty battle was fought between the army of the failing Roman Empire and Saxon raiders bent on plunder and conquest. The armies were paper soldiers printed out from the Junior General website and the rules used were from the book “Ancient and Medieval Wargaming” by Neil Thomas. I acquired the book in 2008 and produced the paper armies to use with it at about the same time. I then played an enjoyable game using the rules and the paper flats back in the same year. Sadly they did not see any further use until recently. Indeed they would still be unused if it were not for a WWII miniatures game that did not eventuate. My opponent for the day was an all-round splendid fellow called Craig.

The Roman army consisted of a unit of horse archers, a unit of heavy cavalry, and two units of auxiliaries, one unit of militia and one unit of legionaries, along with a unit of regular infantry archers. The Saxon host was made up of one unit of mounted nobles (a little anachronistic but necessary to make up the Saxon army strength), one unit of noble infantry, four units of spears and one of bow armed light infantry.

The armies deployed.

The Roman and Saxon armies deployed.

The battle opened with both sides conducting a general advance. The Roman heavy cavalry, with support from the horse archers, raced ahead from their position on the Roman left to try and catch the small force forming the Saxon right before it reached the relative safety of a minor hill to the front of their starting position. The mounted Saxon nobles moved off from their position on the Saxon left and rode hard to intercept the Roman cavalry.

The Roman and Saxon cavalry charge towards each other.

The Roman and Saxon cavalry charge towards each other.

The Saxon right reached the hill and the light infantry archers let loose on the Roman cavalry which then veered off to engage the oncoming Saxon nobles. The Roman horse archers turned about and rode back around to the rear of the advancing auxiliaries to provide support. As the two lines moved gradually to contact, the cavalry clashed in the centre.

The Roman and Saxon cavalry melee while the opposing armies advance.

The Roman and Saxon cavalry melee while the opposing armies advance.

At this point we had a break and partook in a splendid lunch of cheese and nachos with salsa and sour cream. This was followed by whiskey wings and washed down with cider. Having been suitably fortified we returned to the fray.

Both of the opposing cavalry units took heavy casualties in the melee and from supporting bow fire. The Saxon nobles broke first and were removed from the field. However the victorious but much depleted Roman cavalry were in turn broken by the arrows loosed by the Saxon bowmen upon the hill.

The Saxon war bands moved quickly to join up with the right of their line and then, with the threat of cavalry gone, they continued their advance. The entire Roman line kept up their own advance. The auxiliaries, supported by the horse archers, headed for the middle of the Saxon line where a second war band of Saxon nobles stood. The Roman legionaries on the far right of the Roman line endeavoured to out flank the left of the Saxon line, while the regular archers tried to whittle down the Saxons with continuous archery.

The Romans attack, with the auxiliaries leading the way.

The Romans attack, with the auxiliaries leading the way.

The Saxons formed a shield wall just before the Roman auxiliaries hit them. The auxiliaries with their furious onslaught did some damage initially but could not break through the shield wall. The flanking manoeuvre of the Roman legionaries was halted by a Saxon war band that had turned to meet them, resulting in a fierce melee as each tried to eliminate the other. The Roman militia bravely went forward to support the auxiliaries in their attack.

The Saxon shield wall holds firm against the Roman onslaught.

The Saxon shield wall holds firm against the Roman onslaught.

The battle hung in the balance for some time as neither side could gain any real advantage. Then the legionaries engaged against the war band protecting the Saxon left flank broke and were eliminated. The auxiliaries unable to make any further impression on the Saxon shield wall were slowly ground down and eliminated after the unengaged right of the shield wall wheeled into them. The victorious Saxon right then launched themselves on the flank of the Roman horse archers that had been supporting the auxiliaries. The horse archers having ventured too close to the Saxon battle line were quickly slaughtered and eliminated, and with their loss the last Roman units broke and fled the field.

The last stand of the Roman army and the final moment of the battle.

The last stand of the Roman army and the final moment of the battle.

The “Ancient and Medieval Wargaming” rules proved easy to grasp and provided a reasonably fast and historical game. The paper flats definitely have an aesthetic appeal of their own (in addition to a pecuniary one). It all made for a very enjoyable game with congenial company, and that is of course the ultimate goal of battle games for pleasure.

Viking Books

I am currently reading a couple of new books on those marauding seafarers the Vikings. The first I bought from a second hand bookseller online. This book is a near mint hard back edition of “The Vikings Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder” by Mark Harrison, Keith Durham, Ian Heath and René Chartrand (Osprey, 2006). It is lavishly illustrated, including many plates by Angus McBride, and combines material from the previously published Osprey books “The Vikings” (Elite 3), “Viking Hersir 793-1066 A.D.” (Warrior 3), and “Viking Longship” (New Vanguard 47). Consequently the book provides a very good outline of Viking history, weapons and warfare. However, the section on the dreaded longships is interesting but a bit overly technical for non-seafaring types such as me. Overall it is a fascinating read and a very useful edition to have on the bookshelf.

The Vikings Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder

The Vikings Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder

The second book was a somewhat serendipitous find on the sale table of a local newsagent. “Vikings a History of the Norse People” by Martin J. Dougherty (Amber, 2013) is another good but basic overview of Viking culture, history and warfare. This book features a surprising amount on weapons and fighting techniques and is also extravagantly illustrated (although some of the plates are a little archaic and anachronistic). Both books are a pleasure to read and are packed full of useful information on the Viking World.

Vikings a History of the Norse People

Vikings a History of the Norse People

One Hour Wargames Double Feature AAR

I have previously reviewed on this blog “One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space” by Neil Thomas. Last week I was at last able put some of the rules and a couple of scenarios from the book to the test with my friend John of Jacksarge’s Wargames Ramblings. Our field of battle was a round dining table just under four feet in diameter and covered with a green blanket and terrain features. We played two games; one late morning and one in the early afternoon. I photographed both games, although some the pictures are a bit blurry they do show the general course of the battles quite well.

WW2 Game
Our first action of the day was fought using the World War 2 rules and scenario 14 from “One Hour Wargames”. The premise of the scenario is the static defence of two terrain features; one a hill and the other a town. The defenders had to remain in control of both for fifteen turns, with two units always within 12” of each of the features. Both sides consisted of six units of 1/72 tanks, support weapons and infantry. The resulting game was an all-out firefight that ended by about turn 8. John had the British force while I had the Germans.

At the start of the game the British occupied the ruined town with one infantry unit, with support provided by the nearby mortar and AT gun. One infantry squad held the woods in the centre of the table, while another was held in reserve near the hill at the back of the battlefield. A Cromwell Mk IV held the hill.

Turn one after the Germans have deployed.

Turn one after the Germans have deployed.

First turn of the WW2 game saw the Germans deploy onto the table and immediately come under heavy fire from the already deployed British. Turn two saw a general German advance with one infantry unit attacking the British occupied town, while the other two attacked the defended woods. The two stugs moved forward to engage the lone Cromwell.

Turn two and the Germans attack.

Turn two and the Germans attack.

By turn four the British had eliminated one of the attacking German squads. One German unit had entered the ruined town and attacked the British unit entrenched there. A second unit entered the wooded area and took on the British there. The two German Stugs had moved forward and engaged the Cromwell on the hill top doing significant damage but failing to destroy it. One Stug was destroyed by return fire from the Cromwell and the rapidly redeployed AT gun.

Turn four and the German attackbegins to falter.

Turn four and the German attack begins to falter.

By turn six the second Stug had fallen prey to the combined fire power of the Cromwell and AT gun and the German squad fighting in the town had been destroyed. Turn eight saw the last German infantry squad eliminated and a British victory.

Turn six and the German attack is stopped.

Turn six and the German attack is stopped.

Turn eight and British victory!

Turn eight and British victory!

Napoleonic Game
After a quick change of scenery we played the second game using the horse and musket rules found in the book. We used the army generator also found in the book to create both forces of six units each of 15mm Napoleonics. This game, scenario 9, was a double delaying action based on the Battle of Wavre. John’s British had the difficult task of remaining in control of the town while withdrawing 3 units. A unit had to be withdrawn of the table by the 4th, 8th and 12th turns respectively. The French were tasked with delaying the withdrawal or seizing the town. This game was hard fought and ran almost the full 15 turns, with final victory for the British resting on the success of one last volley.

The British began the game already deployed with one unit of skirmishers and one unit of infantry in the town. A second unit of skirmishers occupied the woods further up the river, overlooking a ford. Support was provided by another infantry unit near the ford. A gun battery was placed on the hill to the rear of the British deployment zone and a further infantry unit straddled the road to the rear of the town.

Turn one British positions.

Turn one British positions.

During turn one the French arrived on the battlefield and immediately advanced three units of infantry towards the town. An artillery battery held the French centre while a unit of French cavalry and a unit of infantry advanced towards the ford. The British responded by opening fire with the artillery and the units deployed in the town and further up the river.

Turn three saw the French flanking force reach the ford, putting the cavalry within striking distance of the British infantry situated there. The British infantry unit reacted by forming square. The British defending the town kept up the exchange of volleys with French infantry endeavouring to assault the town.

Turn three and the French reach the ford.

Turn three and the French reach the ford.

The fourth turn saw one of the French units involved in the attempt to take the town destroyed. One of the other remaining French infantry units was sent to support the more successful advance of the flanking force. The British infantry in square was also eliminated by the fire from the French flanking force and the artillery battery. The British infantry on the road withdrew off the table in accordance with the scenario requirements. The French cavalry, after crossing the ford, kept up their advance towards the British artillery on the hill.

During turn five the British skirmishers in the wood retired towards the hill at their rear. The French cavalry charged the British gun battery, while the rest of the flanking force followed on. The town remained hotly contested. Over the next couple of turns the French cavalry repeatedly charged the British artillery and were repulsed. The British skirmishers continued their withdrawal to the hill.

Turn five and the French Cavalry charge!

Turn five and the French cavalry charge!

The British battery withdrew off the table during turn seven and was replaced on the hill top by the skirmishers. These were also able to beat off a further attack by the French cavalry before continuing their own withdrawal off the table. The British skirmishers in the town succumbed to French artillery fire, leaving only one British infantry unit holding on.

Turn seven and the French flanking force breaks through.

Turn seven and the French flanking force breaks through.

The French infantry unit attacking the town from across the river was eliminated by turn eight. With turn nine the French cavalry left the table in pursuit of the escaped British, while the remaining French flanking forces and the artillery turned their attention to capturing the town. Despite being out numbered the British stoutly defended the town and inflicted punishing casualties on the attacking French during turns ten and eleven. The French artillery limbered up during turn ten and forded the river.

Turn nine the French attack the town.

Turn nine the French attack the town.

Turn twelve saw the intense fight for the town continue with one of the remaining French infantry units being eliminated. The limbered French artillery kept up their advance. By turn thirteen the last British unit was only three points away from its break point of fifteen. However they managed to survive the French fusillade and in return delivered a devastating volley that destroyed the last French infantry unit. So with the French no longer able to seize the town, the British were victorious.

Turn thirteen and the British die hards are victorious!

Turn thirteen and the British die hards are victorious!

My Further thoughts on “One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space” (see my earlier review).

“One Hour Wargames” proved great fun. The rules, although simple and relatively abstract, do manage to convey some sense of playing a particular period while delivering a fast paced game. The scenarios provide some depth to the games and present real challenges to the players. “One Hour Wargames” are a very practical solution for those wanting to play an engaging wargame to a conclusion, while having a good laugh. “One Hour Wargames can also be a useful “toolbox” for those wanting to produce more detailed but still (hopefully) fast play variant rules such as those currently to be found on the Ancient & Medieval Wargaming Yahoo Group which is the discussion group for all of Neil Thomas’s rules and books.

Napoleonics “Flagged and Flocked”

Some photos of napoleonic miniatures that I have recently completed painting or refurbishing and that have received new flags and basing (Flagged and Flocked). Most of the miniatures are second-hand and veterans of other armies but have now found a home in mine. All of the figures have had either some retouching or total repainting before being varnished and rebased. However a few of the miniatures are brand new and have of course been painted from scratch. These were to fill out otherwise incomplete units. I take great pleasure in buying old and second hand miniatures and giving them a new lease of wargaming life. They represent not only the armies of their period of history but also part of the history of wargaming.

The first photos are of brigaded French line grenadiers in bearskins. The fanion should not have an eagle but I am loath to remove figures that already possess one. So I will pretend that their colonel had deep pockets and provided them with a non-regulation one.

Line Grenadiers 1Line Grenadiers 2

The next images are of Westphalian Guard Jagers, these received very little retouching before being revarnished and based.

Westphalian Gd Jagers 1Westphalian Gd Jagers 2

The third group of photos are of the completed Joseph Napoleon Regiment that I have previously shown on this blog as a work in progress. The miniatures are total repaints and the flag pole is a replacement made of brass wire. The original eagle came broken and I used it to provide one for some dragoons.

Joseph Nap Regt 1Joseph Nap Regt 2Joseph Nap Regt 3

The fourth set of images is of some French light infantry.

French LI 1French LI 2

The fifth and final lot of photos is of French dragoons that I bought from Italy off Ebay. The eagle is the replacement made from brass wire topped by the broken eagle from the figures that became the Joseph Napoleon Regiment.

French Draggoons 1French Dragoons 3French Dragoons 2

A Walk in the Artillery Park

It is just a gentle stroll from the pavilion to the artillery park where over the past few months I have positioned a few vintage field guns that I won on Ebay. All are diecast Britains in perfect working order and still capable of firing projectiles. The first is the famous 4.7” naval gun beloved by H. G. Wells, while the other two pieces are “Royal Artillery” guns of different calibres. What will I do with them? Only a time traveller can tell!

The mighty 4.7" naval gun mounted on a field carriage.

The mighty 4.7″ naval gun mounted on a field carriage.

Heavy field gun of the Royal Artillery

Heavy field gun of the Royal Artillery

Light field gun of the Royal Artillery

Light field gun of the Royal Artillery

One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas

Another new acquisition is “One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space” by Neil Thomas. The many favourable reviews found on the internet, along with my past experience of Neil’s books persuaded me to purchase it. I have read other books by Neil Thomas and have played and own a copy of his “Ancient and Medieval Wargaming”. There is much to be found of great use in Neil’s books for they are an easy read and his rules are very playable.
The first part of the book provides simple rules for some nine historical wargaming periods from Ancient to World War II, along with a potted explanation and historical information for each epoch. Neil boils down armies to four basic unit types and the tactics and mechanics of warfare in each age to its most essential elements.
The second part of “One Hour Wargames” largely consists of thirty very useful scenarios with maps for gaming. Each scenario includes explanations and notes about the source of inspiration for them. There are also short sections that deal with campaigns and solo wargaming. Finally the book also has appendices regarding background reading and useful addresses.
“One Hour Wargames” is a delightful and thought provoking read for anyone interested in historical wargaming. The provided scenarios are an absolute gem and will be an inspiration for my little wars long into the future. While I have not played the rules they do seem on reading that, despite their simplicity, they are effective in creating a sense of gaming a particular period. “One Hour Wargames” is a handy book for any wargamer to have on their shelf.

“One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space”

“One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space”

A Few Old Books

I was fortunate to recently receive a voucher for a second hand bookstore that gave me the opportunity to add to my library of books on military history for a very small sum indeed. My purchase included “Armies of the Napoleonic Era” by Otto von Pivka (the nom de plume of well-known author Digby Smith) and “Weapons & Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars” by Philip Haythornthwaite. Despite their age, both of these books provide an absolute mine of information regarding the weapons, equipment and tactics of the various combatants of the Napoleonic Wars. My other second hand purchase was a copy of “Renaissance Armies 1480-1650” by George Gush. Although published in 1975 it is also a really useful book that, unsurprisingly, outlines the tactics, dress and equipment of Renaissance armies.

Renaissance Armies by George Gush

Renaissance Armies by George Gush

Weapons  and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars by Philip Haythornthwaite

Weapons and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars by Philip Haythornthwaite

Armies of the Napoleonic Era by Otto von Pivka (Digby Smith)

Armies of the Napoleonic Era by Otto von Pivka (Digby Smith)