Sunday, 15 April 2018

Salute 2018

So another Salute has passed....but what of the pictures I hear you cry

Well this year I decided not to take any pictures.

Firstly I had a great time wandering the hall without having to think if I had taken a picture of a particular game or not.

Secondly I discovered last year that some bloggers got free press passes - nobody asked me and when I wrote to the organisers last year after the show they ignored me. Not too worry there are plenty of good photos out there. Am I feeling bitter...not really

This years Salute was definitely a notch up on last years. Some great looking games (damn no photos), lots of traders and a queing system that works. I arrived at 10.20 and walked straight in.

The Organisers really do deserve a massive round of thanks (and beers) for putting on a great show

However the lighting in the hall is shocking. Apparently you can have different settings for the ceiling lights and each setting costs a different rate. This might be an old wife's tale so requires further investigation. I for one would pay an extra £1 to have a better illuminated hall. Alternatively buy everybody torches from poundland next year

The show this year was a good chance to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. I even managed to catch up with the Perry twins and thank them for helping me put together my Sudan campaign. Apparently they'd seen the progress on the blog are were impressed (blush) - then Michael or was it Alan tried to sell me a box of Zulus - my response  - you are about two years too late and explained that 800 warriors from Warlord had already been painted two years ago.

A big thank you to Bob Cordery for his book on the Spanish Civil War (and for signing it) - a very generous gift and one that I will read.

So what did I buy,....well apart from some essentials  ie paint I spent £200 on plastic dark age figures from Conquest Games and Gripping Beast. Once I have finished current lead pile (more on this next post) I am starting my Hastings project

I do hope you had a great weekend

Until next time

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

What a Tanker - Rules Review

With the exception of my local gaming friend John its not often that I get invited to play on another's wargames table and earlier this week I received such an invitation to take part in a Tank Battle game called ' What a Tanker'.

Great Tilte - and a good looking book

Before I go further with this story I should add that I have finally been persuaded to join the world of Social Media (apparently this Blog doesn't count) and I set up myself on Whatsapp.

Despite all the misgivings i had about signing my digital footprint to some technocratic organisation in Silicon Valley I realised that if I wanted to keep up with the local wargaming crowd a phone number and email account were just not sufficient. The aforementioned John had set up a group thingy and was using this to coordinate games in the area. Fortunately my regular gamers are on the group as well. It appears that this group is useful for posting upcoming games and calling out for players. I managed to respond to such a request and found myself sitting in Mark's rather smart wargaming den on Tuesday evening. Hopefully I didn't embarrass myself too much as it would be great to go back and see some of his beautifully painted minis on the table.

So now that i have dipped my big toe into the murky world of social media can I expect to receive a message from Mark Zuckerberg soon?

Back to the invite Mark was keen to try out the new Tank rules from the Two Fat Lardies - rather amusingly called 'What a Tanker'. interestingly John & Charlie the other two players had also bought the rules as well.

Ill be honest here - WW2 is not really my bag and if I had to choose I would always plump for the early periods. This jaded view has almost certainly been driven by my earliest wargaming memories. Back when I was small lad (mid seventies) my mate and I would re-fight wargames using the Airfix rulebook - he would always field the Germans and I the plucky Brits. Suffice to say my Tommy Cookers lived up to their name against the numerous Panthers and Tigers - there were never any points battles then !

Remember This

These rules are best described as the equivalent for Tank Warfare as Wings of War was to WW1 dog fighting. In other words each player commands a tank and attempts to knock out the enemies. The rulers are easy to learn and the game play is fast.

If anything maybe too fast - we played 4 games in just over two hours,, with each game consisting of four players each with one tank. The problem is that when a tank is hit it does have a habit of blowing up and thereby knocking the player out of the game. In my mind this game should be seen as a filler for when the big game has finished early and you just want to roll some armour across the table. The issue almost certainly becomes worse if you had a large multiplayer game and some players are knocked out early. Lots of twiddling thumbs,

Unlike Wings of War where tactical play is encouraged with some luck , What a Tanker is probably 80% luck and only 20% decisions. Perhaps I am being unfair here but when you roll your command dice there is no guarantee you can move, fire or even reload. How you use your dice is the decision bit.

Given that long ranges effectively cover most table lengths, the battlefield becomes deadly unless significant terrain is employed.

So how does the game play - well before I start let me first say that it is great fun but would I want to play this week in week out - no.

My Sherman - trying not to get killed

The games we played all featured two American Shermans versus two Pz IV's. Which according to the comprehensive tank lists in the rule book are relatively well matched. At the start of the game every player gets a random special card (eg Dead shot, Nice Bush, Sandbags etc) which they can use once during the game to influence a command decision/dice roll. The more tanks you kill the more special cards you receive and of course eventually you become an Ace.

At the beginning of the turn everybody rolls a dice to determine initiative - the highest goes first. Personally I think this is a real issue for the game. Given you only have one unit (and it might not even do what you want it to do) actually detracts from the game. Their is no sense of simultaneous action in the same way you get from Wings of War. I have a thought on how this might be addressed shortly...

With initiative determined the first player rolls six command dice - these represent his actions for the turn. Each dice reflects an action he can take

1 -Move
2. Acquire Target
3. Aim
4. Fire
5. Reload
6. Wild (can be anything)

It is possible when you roll the dice you may not be able to move (no ones or sixes), your nice shiny panther his sitting directlty behind that Russian T34. You have acquired the target, you've aimed and your gun is loaded but with no 4 or six you cannot fire.

Even if you can fire you have to roll a to hit dice and then roll a penetration test. There are just too many dice rolls. Lady Luck is very important in this game. It does however lead to some great story telling - Last night we had plenty of occasions when tanks found targets but could not get their guns loaded.

This is very much as our friends across the pond would call a 'beer and pretzels' game, just be prepared to drink a lot of beer if your tank goes pop ion the opening salvo.

Charlies Sherman also not trying to get killed

So I did mention that I had an idea for correcting the initiative sequence - this only came to me on my commute into work so it has not even been mentioned to the folks who let me play last night.

How might it work?.....

If you have played the dice game Perudo yuopu will know where I am heading

Every tanker rolls their command dice at the beginning but keep this secret from the others. They then bid on how many dice of a certain value are on the table- sixes again are wild. Each bid has to be bigger than the last

Player one says there are four fours
Player two says five fours
Player three says six fours
Player Four says no....!

The players then reveal their dice - on the table are four fours and three sixes - player three was right there were six fours (actually seven) correct so he starts the round. The player bluffing would start last with the table moving round clockwise from P3

secondly the fact that all the command dice are now on the table gives every play ther chance to evaluate what their opponent might do and accordingly plan their strategy.

Finally when you roll two of something you don' t need discard them for a dice of your choice (eg two reloads could be exchanged for a fire)

Big thank you to Mark for hosting

A whole heap of German Trouble

Hope this review is of interest....

Must now get round to finishing my write up on Mondays game...Sharpe's Brest

Catch up soon or perhaps sooner if you are at Salute !!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Sharpe & Harper

If you have been fopllowing the blog you will be aware that I have set my Fist Full of Lead games in the world of Sharpe & Harper  - this of course meant that I would need suitable figures. In particular I would need a Harper Figure with his seven barrelled Nock musket.

By chance I was browsing ebay and came across two figures perfect for my needs. I believe that they were manufactured by Chiltern Games but I cant find them on the website.

As you can see in the picture below they fit well in size with the Perry and Warlord Rifle ranges

Whilst painting up Sharpe I decided to add a bit of extra clutter to my Peninsular town. Some time ago I bought two Olive trees from Noch - these are a bit to small to be stand alone trees but they work quite well as town plants. The larger one is planted in a coaster the other on a wooden disk. The brickwork has been done using eva foam

The board these sit on is a new village board (30 cm x 30cm) which can used as a town square - just swap the planted tree for a fountain..

In the background are three more planters using some aquarium foliage

Sharpe & Harpers adventures will return after Easter

Saturday, 31 March 2018

New Forces for my Sudan Project part 15

Hi Folks

The Sudan Project is going strong with more forces now making their way to the battlefield - if you want to see the previous post the First Battle head here part 14)

First yp we have some Colonial Reinforcement a - Sikh Brigade all the way from India.

These are all Perry Miniatures

and of course we need some Bengal Lancers (again Perry)

Next up we have some Bashi Bazooks in the employ of the Egyptians - these were given a rather colourful colour scheme - 16 foot and 12 mounted troops (once again they are all Perry)

More soon - including the Nile and the Gunboats

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Battle of Cheriton

So on Monday night Mark, Alastair and myself gathered to fight a re-enactment of the Battle of Cheriton - The English Civil War. The actual battle was fought on the 29th March 1644 so we almost marked the battles 374th anniversary.

more here

and here

Before I kick off with the usual orders, history and battle report its worth mentioning for this game I swapped my usual vivid green battle coloured boards for a rather muted and touch sensitive teddy bear fleecy blanket from Dunelm. In fact there are two on the table. These cost £20 each and I can highly recommend them...

link here
Dunelm Moss Green Throw

First up these cloths are a great colour( i will be experimenting with some spray paints in near future) and secondly you can place hills under them. They also provide a nice cushion for the figures to fall into if dropped.

They do NOT however aid dice throwing and trays become an absolute must

Back to the battle....

Cheriton is a small village near Petersfield in Hampshire which is incidentally very close to where my brother lives...and in March 1644 the two forces oif the English Civil War came together for a rather large engagement. Significantly the parliamentarian forces were much greater in number but perhaps the quality of command and the number of elite units lay with the Royalist cause.

Our Army lists and battlefield deployments all came from the rather excellent Pike & Shotte supplement to Kill a King - if you haven't got a copy yet do so as this really is a supplement worth having.

Basically the Parliamentarians get lots of troops but only four leaders (3 battalia commanders and one general) All had the standard 8+ command roll bar Haselrigg on the Parliamentarian left flank - he gets a seven rating (bad). By contrast the Royalist cause gets about 25% less troops and twice as many commanders. In effect they will end up dictating the choice of commands and where the battle is going to be fought...or so we thought.

Mark & Alastair would command the Kings forces whilst I would lead the cause of Parliament

The battle is fought in a valley with a wood at one end and the small village at the other. This valley is traversed by a hedge lined lane. Given we like to play our games in a single sitting the terrain, deployment etc was all set up in advance. Breakdown and clearing up will happen some time later this week

With the forces arrayed the battle kicked off...

Royalists to the left and Parliament on the right

The Kings forces decided that we would go for an all out assault across the table - they would try to seize the town and the woods and confront the numerically stronger Rebel forces in the centre - it was a brave plan

Parliament had other ideas - they would try to sieze the lane fist and refuse their flanks not wisjhing to get embroiled in action on the flanks

With the stage set the Parliamentary forces advanced on the lane - their right flankk under the useless Haselrigg refused to move

Parliament quickly captured the defensive ground in the centre and began to pour fire into the Royalist infantry

Parliamentarian cavalry under Haselrigg finally moved to protect the lane outside the village

By now the Royalists were forcing their way through the lightly defended Cheriton Woods

Sensing that the Cavaliers might come pouring out of the woods the Rebel Right Wing Horse  steeled themselves

The centre was proving too tough - several Royalist units were taking a battering and under heavy fire withdrew from the range of the muskets

Seeing that the Kings forces were having more success on their left wing (village) they moved up their cavalry in a flanking attack on the left end of the parliamentarian line - the infantry held on against the Cavalier charge

Across the centre the Royalist forces could do nothing - the weight of guns and artillery proving too strong

In Cheriton Woods things were grinding to a halt with little progress

Over on the right a cavalry melee ensured with both battalias coming close to break

It was at this point the Royalists conceded the a game - they had lost two battalias  (both Horse) and their infantry had suffered a pounding. Although the village now lay in Royalist hands the Parliamentarian forces had won the day.

A combination of larger forces in a defensive position coupled with some lucky dice rolls had secured their victory

A great game - more soon from the Shed

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Sharpe's Hazard

"Major Hogan, please tell Mister Sharpe what he can do for us next" instructed the Commander of his Britannic Majesties Army in the Peninsular

The portly exploratory officer turned to the tall green clad man in front of him. Both men carried no signals of rank but the very fact that they were standing in the Generals office clearly stood then in high regard.

"Richard my dear boy" opened Hogan "your successful attempts to retrieve the orders of battle from Marshal Soult has given us valuable insight into the Frenchman's plans and for that we are extremely grateful. However these plans have revealed an option to the French we had not considered. There is a bridge not far from Rosalejo that could prove a vantage to their forces in the their approach to our defences.

Tonight you and your chosen men will go to this bridge and blow it up!"

Sharpe looked at Hogan "is the bridge guarded sir?"

"As far as we know there is a small sentry detail but nothing you and your men can't resolve with a bit of daring do" responded the exploring officer " oh...and Richarde whilst you are out on your troubles watch out for certain French Agent - Monsieur Ducos. A rather nasty piece of work that seems to be one of the Emperors favourites down here in Spain..."

If you are interested in the first part of the Shed's adventures of Sharpe and his chosen men head here

Sharpes Pursuit

As the intro explains Sharpe and his chosen men have been tasked with blowing up a certain bridge near the village of Rosalejo.

The table 4 x 4 has been set up using my desert boards to create the canyon - this river runs through this with of course the target bridge. A simple track bisects the landscape.

Not surprisingly the bridge is guarded by 5 regular French Soldiers and is being inspected by Monsiour Ducos.

Monsieur Ducos is also an extraordinary chap so he gets some talents and rolls a d12. Furthermore he is armed with two pistols. Sadly my figure does not look like the TV character (yet)

The French will be reinforced during the game with three foot troops and three mounted dragoons. We diced at the beginning of the game and these would arrive turn 6.

The Cart (driven by a local peasant - a legitimate target for the French) would enter the board and be driven onto the bridge. The cart's contents would then be ignited by fuse and subsequently blown up. The fuse would take 0-5 turns to fire its contents (during which time the cart could be moved/or the fuse extinguished) The cart can be shot at (+2 to hit) and any hit has a 1/10 chance to ignite the contents. Anyone or thing within 6" of the exploding cart is toast.

Mark would play the French, Alastair the Greenjackets and I was coordinating, being the umpire, making it up as I went along and making the tea.

So as the evening was setting the French sentries were feeling quite relaxed and relieved they had had a quiet day....

All of a sudden they could here the incessant squeak of a badly oiled cart trundling up the valley towards the bridge...Merde they cried dismayed that their light supper of mussels and frogs legs was about to be delayed

Under the guidance of Monsieur Ducos (why he was in the valley nobody knows) the French soldiers quickly took up their positions. 

The riflemen quickly scattered and started to take advantage of their longer range rifles - the first Frenchmen (a native of Normandy we decided) were dropped quite quickly. Daniel Hagman bagging his first of many kills on that warm evening

Realising their predicament was quite bad Ducos instructed one of his troops to hide behind the small Shrine next to the bridge - didn't do him much good as he caught a lead bullet in his head a couple of turns later.

By now Sharpe and Harper had moved forward and were closing on the bridge - Sharpe had already run through one poor french soldier with his heavy blade and Harper's seven barreled monstrosity had yet to be fired in anger.

Harper was poised to take the bridge (sorry no pics as Camera was forgotten) - Ducos put on a stiff lip and charged forward firing hone of his flintlocks into Harper's general direction.This moment of sheer french insanity was enough for Harper to fumble in the ensuing combat. The French spies bullet hit the Irishmen's thick skull and Harper for the second time in as many weeks hit the dirt out cold.

Realising that his soon to be arch enemy Richard Sharpe was just round the corner Ducos grabbed the initiative in the next turn and managed to charge Sharpe (so much for his cowardly trait) - A bitter struggle erupted and Sharpe was driven back wounded by the sneaky Parisian....

Was Sharpe to be denied his victory...NO ! Alastair played an Ace using this a Queen to not only shake off his wound but also allow him to lunge back at Ducos. With a savage glint in his eye Sharpe thrust his heavy cavalry blade into the bemused Frenchman. Sharpe has dismissed his foe

(later Ducos's body could not be found and the British suspect he feigned his death to ensure he could escape)

With the majority of the French sentries out the way Giuseppe the cart driver moved forward. Sadly this was his last action as a rather sneaky Frenchman ran up and ran him through with a bayonet.

This Frenchman's victory was short lived as Hagman potted his second of the day - the wise old poacher had found a nice spot covering the bridge in the rocks

With the original french sentries down and out it was a good job their reinforcements arrived - and it wasn't long until the dragoon were thundering over the bridge.

The cart was slowly heading towards it destination

The French Dragoons charged the cart (now being driven by chosen man Harris)

The first dragoon swung left off the bridge and charged Sharpe - bad move. Sharpe grabbed the horses bridle and pulled the froggie off his horse. A quick flick of his wrist (in a thuggish kind of way) sent another French trooper off on his final journey

Harris didn't fare quite so well as he he received a new haircut from the sabre swinging Dragoon charging him. fortunately Cooper was on hand to rescue him and take over the cart driving duties. Hagman shot the second dragoon from very long range.

Filled with Blood lust Sharpe charged down the third mounted Frenchman and once again his prowess with a sword was pretty impressive...

I can assure all the readers here that this was how the game was playing out...

By now Cooper had got the cart onto the bridge BUT he had been overcome by the final French guards. These guys realising the cart contained enough explosives to send the bridge into orbit knew it had to be moved. 

The only man who could physically stop[ this from happening was our hero Richard Sharpe - he bounded onto the bridge to confront the carts new owners. He swung his blade ....and missed. The Frenchman stabbed him with his bayonet - potentially a lethal wound. We will never know (at least not until the next adventure) as Sharpe fell from the bridge into the icy water.

The French guards quickly drive the cart off the bridge and back towards their lines - both Hagman and Perkins hit the cart but their rifle fire was insufficient to stop the cart and its contents reaching French lines.

Sharpe has failed - what will happen next...

Come back soon

Postscript. This was such a fun game to umpire - all credit to my players for playing the characters.

The story played out so well and could have easily swung the other way...