Friday, November 15, 2013

Somewhere in Germany, 1989

This game began twenty five years ago.  I walked into my FLGS, Starbase Alpha, and came across a group of guys playing Frank Chadwick's Combined Arms rules.  They were running a game featuring a full Soviet Division attacking a NATO Brigade in prepared positions.  It was done on a 10-12' table fully covered with Geohex.  I was fifteen at the time and that game made a real impression.  My dad and I bought our first packs of GHQ microarmor that day.  Not long after, we started gaming with those same guys.  Sadly, as gaming groups do, they had moved on from Combined Arms, and modern micro armor in general.  The fall of the iron curtain, took most of the tension out of it.  Despite a brief resurgence with the first Gulf War, moderns in our area seemed dead.  I however, had already accumulated a large soviet force, and dad had a thriving force of Americans.

Now fast forward twenty five years.  My interest has never waned.  In the intervening years I completed my Soviet Division, and twenty years after his passing, my dad's Americans fight on.  Thankfully, I have found gamers willing to indulge my interest.  Combined Arms, though, seems a little dated now, and didn't allow for the size game I wanted to run in the time I had to run it.  I began work on my own home brew rules, drawing mechanics from several different games.  Thus was born Armageddon '89.  Last weekend we tried our fourth playtest.  The scenario is a Soviet attack on a NATO position attempting to force a river crossing.  The Soviet forces consisted of a tank regiment and a motor rifle regiment.  They were supported by a BM-21 battery and a couple batteries of SAU-152s in addition to their integral artillery.  Air support consisted of a flight of MiG-27s, a flight of MiG-21s, and a flight of SU-25s as well as two Hind and two Hip flights.  A bridging battalion was made available to cross the river.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Battle of Likezig.

This past week we saw the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig, also known as the Battle of Nations.  This was a massive battle of the Napoleonic wars fought by forces of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and other smaller allies against Napoleon's Grande Armee of 1813.  Napoleon's army in itself was something of a miracle since it had been completely rebuilt following his disastrous foray into Russia the previous year.  This wasn't Napoleon's cadre of veterans that had marched from France through all of Europe and back again.  This was an army of near boys with a core of survivors.

With one of our members off to Europe to join in the reenactment at the actual battlefield, we thought we'd create something similar at home on the tabletop.  Now, Leipzig was massive.  To recreate the whole battle would require renting a hall, and more troops than even we had.  Instead, I laid out an approximation of the terrain that would fit on my table, and we'd use the forces we had, along with the Empire Napoleonic rules.

There's that phrase though about best laid plans...

The day of the game one of the guys wasn't feeling well.  He was also the one bringing 2/3 of the troops.  Another had to work.  A third got tickets to the Packer game.  In the end we had four players, and two corps (one Polish, one Austrian).  So, it was time to modify on the fly.  We cut the game down to the center third of the table centered around the village of Wachau.  The Poles deployed with their right flank anchored on Leipzig, and stretching down the main road toward Gross Posna.

The Austrians deployed behind the hill on the slopes facing Wachau. 

The battle opened with a cavalry clash to the east of Wachau.  Polish Kuirassier made a valiant effort to turn back the tide of two brigade of Austrians led by the 2nd Uhlans.  They held for half an hour, but after turning back the Uhlans and four squadrons of the 5th Chevaux Legere the other four squadrons of the 5th drove them off.  The followup charge by the De Este Kuirassier routed away their supporting hussars.

The Polish infantry, facing cavalry unsupported formed square in an attempt to hold until the second brigade of Polish cav could come to their aid.

Meanwhile on the Austrian right, four batteries (including two 12 pdrs) begins blasting holes in the squares.

The situation on the Austrian right at the end of the first impulse.  The Polish cavalry has been driven back from Wachau.  Reinforcements can be seen maneuvering in the upper left to drive back the Austrian cav.  The survivors of the first charge are resting at the lower left.  To the right, an Austrian infantry division begins its advance to begin the attack on the Polish infantry that is now fixed by the need to cover itself from the cavalry.

The Polish commander redeploys some infantry to meet the attack while the Austrian cavalry drives off the rest of the Polish cav.
That was the end of the first hourly turn.  Sadly, due to one player missing an exit, and waiting for another who didn't make it we had a late start.  At this point we stopped due to time.  It was a good game though with time taken to introduce a new player to Empire.  I am not sure exactly where things would have gone from here, that's why we use dice, but the tactical edge at this point was definitely with the Austrians.  The Austrian left was intact and defending.  It would take the Poles some time to organize an attack there.  The Austrian right had things going its way.  The Polish cavalry MEs were largely broken, and would take time to rest and rally.  That would have given the Austrians a couple of hours to work with to get things rolling.
I look forward to playing some more Empire in the future when we can have more people there and have our more experienced rules guys with us.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The First Thrust -- a Full Thrust Cross Dimensions Battle Report

Long ago long ago in a basement not so far away I played a game called Full Thrust.  In many ways this was the ultimate in space naval gaming.  It had ship design rules, vectored movement, and tons and tons of options.  It is probably one of the most widely used sets even today.  Somewhere along the way, our group sort of fell out of the habit of playing Full Thrust.  My love for spaceship combat has never left me though.  I've continued collecting, until now I have hundreds of ships for a dozen or more fleets.  They range from Star Wars to Star Trek, to Battlestar Galactica and some old Star Frontiers minis.  I decided after a decade or more that it was time to return to some "generic space gaming."  I pulled out and painted up a couple of older fleets from The Ground Zero Games "Tuffley Verse."  I downloaded and printed out the latest iteration of the Rules, Full Thrust: Cross Dimensions.  They are a fully authorized fan updating of the classic rules.  Miniatures on the table, I say down this weekend with Jake and Andrew for a little skirmish. wasn't so little.


A Couple of Random D&D pics.

Just because they were on my camera, I thought I'd upload a couple pictures from the climax of a night's roleplaying in my basement.  Here the party confronts the evil Roper guarding the Tome of Remembrance of an ancient Dwarven Hero.

The party overcame the beast with lots of missile fire and clever uses of a Flaming Sphere and the pillars in the room to fight the pull of the Roper's tentacles.

Honoring a Gaming Legend - Donald Featherstone Memorial Game

On September 3, 2013 the gaming community lost one of its legends.  Donald Featherstone, author of dozens of books on wargaming and history in general passed away.  Many gamers gaming today got their start in gaming when picking up one of Mr. Featherstone's books. I am no exception. Two of my earliest inspiration were two books I picked up many years ago.  The first was actually by Stuart Asquith.  I picked this up at a book sellers tent at the EAA airshow sometime in the late '80s.  It has several sets of gaming rules laid out in it.  In honor of Mr. Featherstone we decided to have an old school gaming day.  We'd play two games, a Dark Age Viking game, and an ACW game.  The first would use Mr. Asquith's rules from the Military Modelling Guide to Wargaming.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Battle of Lone Tree -- A Final Argument of Kings Battle Report

Time to go back to the Seven Years War.  It's been a while since our last foray into this period, so it was time to revisit it.  Todd, Andrew, Paul and I gathered in my basement earlier this month to pit Todd's and Paul's forces against one another.  Todd and Paul would ally Todd's Reicharmee with Paul's Austrians while Andrew and I would run Todd's Hannoverians.

Holding the Hillcrest Gap -- a Flames of War Battle Report

Last month a few of us gathered in my basement to play a big Flames of War scenario.  It had been a while since our last really big game, so I wanted to go all out this time.  Michael had recently finished painting up his Tiger platoon, so I wanted to feature it in the game.  A big game is the perfect time for this.  I settled on a breakout mission.  The Germans would begin greatly out numbered, but with better equipment and troop quality to show for it.  They would need to get a withdrawing force, which would fight at a penalty from one side of the table to the other.  Wanting a really pretty game, I pulled out the sculpted terrain boards we made for our 150th Gettysburg game and rearranged them a bit.  Then I laid out the forces.  Darrin and I would command the British, and Michael would run the Germans.

Engagement at Baraque de Fraiture -- A Flames of War Battle Report

Anyone that is active in the wider gaming community is more than likely aware of Battlefront's Flames of War rules set for World War 2 gaming.  One of the greatest criticisms these rules get is that they are too gamey.  I don't think anyone can or would deny that as a set of rules the design philosophy of Flames of War skews more toward the "game" end of the sliding scale between game and simulation.  As a challenge to the rules system, I decided we would try to play a historical scenario using Flames of War. I searched my library for something interesting that included a basic order of battle.  I settled on the engagement at Baraque de Fraiture as outlined in Osprey's Into the Reich compilation.  An American force during the Ardennes offensive is cut off and surrounded by  larger German force. Historically attempts to break through to the Americans failed, and they were forced to surrender.  I wanted something more of a balanced game, so I changed a few parameters.  In real life, a platoon of M10 tank destroyers attempted to get through to the surrounded battalion under cover of darkness.  They encountered  German infantry and were captured. In our scenario I decided to proceed as if two of them made it into the perimeter.  We gathered on a hot July afternoon at Fire for Effect games in Oshkosh, WI to test it out.

The American forces thus consisted of two infantry companies, a platoon of Shermans, a battery of 105s, a recon patrol, and a platoon of two TDs.  They were dug in in a perimeter around the town which was situated on a crossroad in the middle of a forest clearing.

Eastern Front Action -- A Command Decision: Test of Battle Report

Our group of local gamers has been playing a lot of Flame of War since I joined them a little over two years ago.  Recently Michael wanted to give a try to an old WW2 standby;  Command Decision: Test of Battle using his 6mm WW2 microarmor.  He set up a scenario for us. 

It is 1943 and the Russians are pushing the Germans hard.  A scratch German force including a company of STuGs, a company of engineers, a few AT guns, and some infantry, is tasked with defending a vital crossroads.  Opposing them are a Russian Tank brigade and a battery of SU-76 assault guns.

Skirmish at Heiligkirchen -- a Bolt Action Battle Report

While I was visiting my friend John back in May we played a game of Bolt Action.  We've been working through the scenarios in the book, and this time it was time for the standard meeting engagement between the German and Russian forces he's been working on.

The Battle of Creek Mill -- A Black Powder ACW Batrep

I recently visited my buddy John for a trial of Warlord Game's Back Powder rules for the ACW.  Here's a report of the action.

We started with one of the basic scenarios.  My Confederate Division of three brigades supported by a couple of batteries was tasked with taking three objectives within a close locale.  There was a mill, a small town and a Federal camp to be seized.  I would start with one brigade on the table and the other two would arrive as follow on forces based on random, though manageable rolls on the ensuing turns.  Opposing me were three federal brigades supported by a regiment of cavalry. The Yanks would be allowed to start with one regiment deployed as pickets and the rest would have to muster as I advanced.

 The initial deployments, showing my starting brigade deployed centrally on my table edge.  In the background the union forces await in the village and near the mill.  The federal camp is in the lower right, just out of the frame.

Somewhere Off Gibralter -- a Napoleonic Naval Engagement

Back in May several of us gathered at Gnome Games East in Green Bay for a little Napoleonic naval action.  The rules were Form Line of Battle.  We opted for a straight up fight between equal forces.  We formed into two teams.  The British side, commanded by myself and Michael, consisted of a single 100 gun SOL and three 76s in one squadron and a second squadron consisting of four captured 60 gunners.  The allied French/Spanish fleet commanded by Charles and Larry was identical.  The setup and die roll gave the Bristish fleet the weather gauge and so we set out to be aggressive.  Commanding the British flagship, Royal Sovereign, I endeavored to lead the attack "in the Nelson manner."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Massacre at Zeta Epsilon- an ACTA: Starfleet Batrep

From an interview with Dr. Helen Hodges, Starfleet Science Command following repatriation at the end of hostilities.  Part of the War College's Study of The General War series.

Transript begins:

Examiner: Tell me Dr. Hodges in what capacity were you posted to Zeta Epsilon?

Hodges: That's classified.

Examiner: Dr. Hodges, I assure you I have the proper clearances.

Hodges: Very well.  My team was assigned to the "Wargod" project under the auspices of Starfleet Bureau of Ship Development.  We were assigned the task to study the feasibility of ships larger than the Federation Class.  It was becoming apparent as the war went on that light combatants while desirable for the day to day activities had an extremely short life expectancy in a fleet engagement.  A broad increase in tonnage was sought across all classes.  This can be seen in the move from frigates to destroyers and from the use of cruisers to war cruisers and BCHs by all the powers.  Project "Wargod" was the development of a true Battleship class for the Federation.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gettysburg 150th Anniversary Game

On June 29th and 30th a group of 14 players gathered at the American Legion hall in Appleton, WI to refight the battle of Gettysburg.  We gathered players from this area of Wisconsin and four players from Minnesota.  We set out to refight Gettysburg at the regimental level using Johnny Reb III for rules, needless to say it was quite an undertaking.  The count that we arrived at was in the neighborhood of 4-6000 figures on a 6' x16' board modeled with terrain to represent the historical battlefield including a scratchbuilt seminary building.  The entire months of May and June were dedicated to getting ready for this (hence the lack of blog activity) including playing practice games of Johnny Reb.

We began by gathering Friday night for a traditional Wisconsin fish fry at the Legion Hall.  The American Legion staff were excellent hosts all weekend and did a great job of seeing to our needs.  We are already thinking about what our next "mega-game" will be.  After service was done, and the hall began to clear we were free to set things up for the game which would begin the next morning.  Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera that night, but my friend Michael did.  You can see pictures of the set up at his blog here:

Saturday morning we gathered bright and early to begin the conflict.  The table awaited us, quiet, as was the historic Gettysburg on June 30, 1863.

Miles away, General Meade works to take command of the Army of the Potomac.  The band plays to rally the spirits of the army on the march.

Several of our players knew the battle quite well, so they asked me (as organizer and GM) to mix up the arrival orders and such so that people didn't anticipate things that should have been unexpected.  I let the commanders chosen to be Lee and Meade choose the order of march for their columns and then also messed with the arrival times to throw a few spanners into the works.  From here on I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Assault on BATS 13

Some of my oldest friends (those I've known the longest) and I started playing Star Fleet Battles back in high school.  It was the spring of '88 that I walked into Star Base Alpha (our then FLGS may it rest in peace) looking for baseball cards.  I had already been playing games starting with D&D in about '81 or '82, and discovering Napoleonics about '85.  Here was this really cool Star Trek game.  We loved it.  Sadly as we got older the time required became too much.  Lives and families got in the way of having 12 hours to play a scenario.  Then, a couple years ago came A Call to Arms Starfleet.  Not only was it our beloved SFU (Star Fleet Universe) but it used miniatures instead of counters.  We've never looked back.

This past weekend we got together for an all day big game.  I put together the scenario called Assault on Starbase 13.  It is the aftermath of operation Remus.  The MacArthur is down, and the coalition is scrambling as the Romulans viciously counter attack.  Battle Station 13, a Gorn supply an repair point has become a critical node for repairing Federation ships falling back from that pyrrhic victory.  The Romulans have become aware of this, and are out for blood.  A strong raiding squadron is sent to destroy as many crippled ships, and as much commerce as they can.  Any damage done to the BATS is a bonus.

The situation at the beginning of the game.  The freighters were scattered at random using an arrow die, as were the Gorn warships (except the green freighters - they are a military convoy holding station on the asteroid field).

The Gorns had five warships, a BCH, CC, BC, CL, and HDD, and were protecting 10 freighters.  The merchant group consisted of 4xFS, 4x FL, 2x FH, and one Large Armed Freighter.  Four of the ships were from the GMTC (Gorn Military Transport Command) and had added phaser-3s for self defense.

Docked to the BATS were the USS Yorktown (Constellation class CA), USS Wales (Texas class OCL) and the Gorn DN Reptillicon.  The Romulan player was expecting the Feds, but not the Reptillicon.

The Romulan player brought a 6 ship task force of all new Hawk class ships.  It included 1x Novahawk (portrayed for the day by a fasthawk mini), 2x Sparrowhawks, and 3x Skyhawks.

The Romulan player was allowed to split his forces however he wanted, and deploy within 6" of any table edge, but not within 6" of an enemy ship.

A peaceful patrol about to get "exciting".

The Romulan admiral chose to deploy in two groups.  The first consisted of 2/3s of his fleet led by the Novahawk.  Despite orders to trash as much shipping as possible and get out, the Romulan player decided he could cut back the Gorn firepower first to give himself more time to hunt civvies.  We shall see how this worked out.

BATS 13 goes on full alert.  As they crews scramble to get the damaged ships away from the spacedock, a Romulan prime team storms into the CIC.  In the ensuing firefight the base commander is killed, and the Romulans manage to sabotage the power feeds to the heavy phasers and plasma torpedoes.  The torpedoes are out for now, and the phasers are reduced in power to phaser 2s. 
This was a scenario thing.  I wanted to use my newly painted BATS (by ravenstar studios - link to be added in my favorites) but didn't want to overwhelm the Romulan with the phaser-4s on the base.  We did roll to see if the damage was repaired each turn (needing a 6).  It never was.

On the opposite flank a single Sparrowhawk and its attendant Skyhawk DD arrive.

The GMTC convoy, resolutely guraded by the Gorn Heavy Battle Cruiser and its own armed Large Freighter, The Striker.

The Gorn player asseses the dangerous situation.  In this picture (after movement for turn 1) the Skyhawk from the left Romulan group has broken off to chase freighters, while the MV Jacks or Better (the small red and white freighter bottom left) sees the last thing it ever will as a Sparrowhawk unloads heavy plasma into it leaving no time for escape pods.  In the upper right, the Gorn HDD was vaporized by plasma from two or three Romulan ships.

The last moments of "Jacks or Better".

The Sparrowhawk performs a victory roll while the Gorns swear revenge.

Meanwhile the Skyhawk chases down a large freighter of its own.  Just when the crew of Pandora's toybox thought they would get away the Romulan got a lucky critical that kept them from reaching the edge of the board. (they took an impulse critical from plasma, slowed to 8", but were 9" from escape).  As the crew hit the escape pods, the Romulan ship phasered their livelyhood to vapor.

Elsewhere, the Sparrowhawk, left on its own, comes under fire from long range Phasers of the Gorn CL and BC while the Striker doggedly tries to save GMTC F'Zalaoth.  They would succeed thanks to a successful IDF roll that allowed most of the Romulan plasma to be shot down.

On the other flank, the daisy chain of destruction begins.  Te Gorn CC (blue ship in upper right) took a pounding from the Sparrowhawk and Skyhawk for three turns, but doggedly stuck around thanks to some bad plasma rolls, and though crippled put some damage out until the BCH (upper right) was able to help.  In the exchange, the Romulans lost the Skyhawk escorting the Novahawk.
With its escort gone the Novahawk puts all power to engines in a bid to get to the crippled ships as they depart the station.  The MV Galaxy Mover sweats as she sees death looming.

Only to be saved as the Reptillicon and Wales get under way and prove a greater distraction.  The Gorn DN (a priority target) soaks up some damage from the Novas phasers.

The return fire from the DN, though lighter than normal, proves to be decisive.  The Novahawk, a lone wolf surrounded by a pack of hounds, is forced to disengage.  Not even the belated intervention by a Romulan controlled suicide freighter (a small freighter with a bomb inside capable of detonating for a DN size explosion) was able to turn the tide.
In the end the Romulans lost a skyhawk, and saw all three cruisers stripped of their shields in return for destroying a Gorn HDD, and three freighters.
The Gorns managed to see four freighters and the Wales off the board for light damage to the fleet.
A Gorn Victory!
I hope you all enjoyed reading.  Eric (Romulan), David (Gorn) and I (GM/Civvies/Feds) had fun playing it out.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rising from the Ashes

Okay, so I started this blog back in 2011 only to find that my computer took far too long to update my posts.  Fortunately, I have since gotten a new one, and am ready to get rolling again.  In addition to that I have, over the past year been gaming with another gaming group that is very active.  Going forward I'll be trying to do weekly reports on what we do, but in the mean time, here's some pictures of the last year or so of gaming I've done.

First up we have the construction of my new gaming table.  I was about to start this when I stopped posting last.  It is very much my "field of dreams".  It was shortly after building this I met the guys I game with every weekend now.

It consists of four 4'x6' tables that are usually arranged to make a 6'x16' table.  It has built in shelves for storing terrain under the edges.  It's one of the best gaming projects I've ever done.

Next up we have some pictures from a 40K Combat patrol tournament I attended using my Eldar.

The first game I started playing with my new buddies was Flames of War.  I invited them over to play an assault on Hill 112 scenario I had worked on.  It was the first big game on my new table.

Over the next several months a lot of different games got played.  I was introduced to Empire Napoleonics, and Final Argument of Kings (seven years war) rules sets.  I also introduced a couple of the younger guys to Warhammer 40K.

As 2012 became 2013 we got together for a huge Seven Years War game using every unit we had over two days of playing.  It was everything I had built my table for.

You can see in the intervening months the game room got decorated as well.

That should catch us up.  There were a lot more games played that I didn't include in this post or it would have 100 images.  To see more complete reports on some of our games go to my friend Michael's blog at Campaigns in Miniature.

Hopefully you'll come back and see some more of what we've been up to.

Thanks for reading.