Wednesday, 29 January 2014

No Pasaran!!

So far we've tried Chain on Command for WW2 and modern Africa, so this week we tried going back a bit and playing a game set in the Spanish Civil War.

I have to confess that, as a died in the wool, Guardian reading lefty, the SCW has always held a Romantic attraction (a lot of civil wars seem to do that for some reason...).  Maybe it's the bravery of the volunteers of the International Brigades, the early stand against fascism or the fact that it produced a much better class of  poetry and songs, but it has always held an attraction.  

Of course I know that it was a singularly unpleasant, faction-ridden mess with horrible, brutal acts on all sides but there's nothing like a quick chorus of Jarama Valley or Bandiera Rossa to make an old. Lefty go misty eyed...



That, coupled with a whole variety of Militias and troop types and refreshingly low-tech tanks make this an excellent period.

Too Fat Lardies, producers of CoC have produced a wealth of SCW resources available for free on their website ( Link ) with loads of lists for SCW forces ranging from the regular Peninsular army troops, assorted militias of all flavours, Moroccans and Italians of the CTV.  There are also SCW -specific rule amendments reflecting the slightly different feel for this period.  This has clearly been a labour of love for someone and the fact that it's all up there for free is remarkably generous

So back to last nights game...

We played out an Attack/Defend scenario with Keith's evil Moroccan Regulares (boo!) attacking the brave defenders of the 5th Brigade, holding a village and a hilltop church.

The patrol phase resulted in 2 of my squads being safely dug in around the buildings with 1 more off table in reserve along with my armour (a T26 and a mighty FA-I armoured car) and a field gun.  Keith's troops were able to advance through the surrounding woods to place their jump off points out of sight but reasonably close to the village.
It was here that the better quality of the Regulares became obvious... with 6 command dice to my 4 they were able to do a lot more and to rack up a hefty total of Chain of Command points: these are gained with every 5 thrown and allow you to special actions such as ending the turn or interrupting an opponents move etc.
Compared with previous CoC games this was a much cagier affair...I think both us had learned from the trails of burning vehicles in previous games and were being much more cautious with our armour.  Keith's Panzer 1 deployed, skulked round a wood for a bit and then took up a position where it could fire on the town.  My field gun appeared and there then followed a lengthy duel between them both in which not a lot actually happened!
The heroic gun crew
I deployed my armour and, knowing there was an anti-tank gun due to be deployed by the Regulares, immediately hid behind a hill where the remained for most of the game.
The 5th Brigade's T26 advances...
...and then spends most of the game hiding behind a hill!
The Moroccan and Communist infantry exchanged fire between the wood and the town and slowly whittled each other down but, again, neither of us were being very brave in pressing home the attack.
Keith then unleashed what was to prove by far his most effective weapon...the off-table Machine Gun barrage.  During the SCW it was common for armies to mass their MGs and use them in this way and it proved pretty devastating!  Keith was able to shift the fire to cover 1 squad and the field gun and, despite being protected by the buildings, they were inevitably worn down.  Eventually the lone gunner, bravely manning his gun to the end, broke and ran (I would have awarded him a medal if we didn't see medals as an elitist representation of the bourgeois oppressors!), leaving the village vulnerable.

I eventually managed to accrue enough Chain of Command dice to force the turn to end which meant the MG barrage finally ceased, giving the troops in the town some brief respite.  It also allowed me to unleash my devastating air attack: there was a chance here that it would accidentally strafe my own troops which had Keith rubbing his hands in anticipation!  Luckily they went for the right target but proved spectacularly rubbish, causing no casualties whatsoever...

My pitiful total of 4 command dice meant I'd failed to bring on 1 of my squads and struggled to  find the dice to activate the tanks and Keith's Moroccans took advantage of my paralysis to charge home I an attempt to drive me out of the town.  Despite a large advantage [in turn 1 at least] I failed to dent the charge and my squad routed back from the town....luckily the hefty casualties on the Moroccans meant they also turned and fled in their moment of triumph!.
My 26 and armoured car ventured out from behind their hill and, surprise surprise... up popped the long-awaited PaK anti-tank gun although the armour survived the exchange of fire.
By this point my morale had slumped due to broken squads and I was reduced to 2 command dice and I decided that was a good point to concede defeat.
So....the amendments to the rules add enough flavour without changing the nature of the game and reflect the variable nature of the range of SCW troop types using the Command dice and individual rules.  An excellent set of rules!

Monday, 27 January 2014


Over the weekend I read that Colours, the annual show at Newbury organised by Newbury and Reading Wargames Society won't be on this year.

Normally it's held over a weekend in September and although it's a bit of a trek, it's one my son and I usually look forward to.

The official announcement is here.  It looks as though there's been a committee change and they've decided to take stock for a year due to the size of the has certainly grown over the years into a large 2 day event although as a punter it always seemed very smoothly run...maybe an example of swan-like grace on the surface and frantic paddling underneath!!

Oh well... warfare may have to substitute and Cavalier's coming up soon

Friday, 24 January 2014


No game this week but I have made a start on the Darkest Africa figures!  More later once there's something to show... at present I've undercoated them all and started on the flesh with a few of the explorers and Askaris.

In the most recent issue of Wargames Illustrated was an interesting article/extended advert for 'Donnybrook'... the new large skirmish game from the League of Augsburg people. 

I've been seeing increasing chatter about these for a while but this was the first detailed look at them [after an interesting article in the previous issue].  Shortly after I came across the latest post from Legatus Hedlius discussing the rules which he'd just acquired and posts at Bleaseworld showing off some very nice figures being painted up for use with Donnybrook.  Definitely a sense of growing momentum then.

So with a sense of inevitability I succumbed and have ordered the rules this morning!  Once they arrive I'll do a more detailed review.  From the bits I've read though these are designed to cover the 1660-1760 period and include a number of scenarios and settings ranging from fighting Berbers in Tangiers through the WSS to Jacobite skirmishes.  The rules appear to have quite a few similarities to Sharpe Practice which is no bad thing....

Of course none of these periods are ones for which I actually have figures... that would be far too sensible!  I do however have some ECW figures which were part of a project to build up 28mm English and Scots armies until I realised that I would never have the concentration span to do much about this.  I do however have some English foot and pike and cavalry and some Scots Covenanter infantry.  I also have a box of Scots cavalry which would make very nice Mosstroopers.  These had been destined for eBay or possibly being kept for use with the excellent skirmish rules, 'Once Upon a Time in the West Country' but I'm hoping Donnybrook may buy them a reprieve! 

I'm not sure how easy it will be to adapt these...I'm guessing it should be fairly straightforward: a bit of tweaking for less effective muskets and more emphasis on pike but hopefully nothing too taxing. 

On an unrelated note I recently picked up a ruleset for Pathfinder... the fantasy RPG from Paizo publishing..  These are essentially D&D 3.5 edition but produced by a different company following some kind of schism in the assorted companies that were producing them [which I didn't really understand!].  The rulebook looks really nice and seems a real improvement on my last set of D&D rules [2nd ed.]

I've also just noticed that my post count has ticked past 20 000!  Many thanks to everyone who's popped by!!!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Chain of Command Africa

Since Chain of Command has been such a success as a platoon level WW2 game, we thought it might be a good idea to try them out in a more modern setting, using my modern Africa AK47 figures.

Keith  [Keith's blog ] and I gave it some thought and had a look at some suggested modifications that had surfaced on TMP here but these seemed to be much more of a CoC/Force on Force hybrid which wasn't really what we were after.

After a bit of discussion we settled on staying simple for the first game.  For speed and simplicity I lifted stats for modern mortars and HMGs from their WW2 equivalents.  My rationale was that although these weapons may be much more effective now, armour is proportionally also effective at resisting them so it would balance out... I know the reality's much more complicated but this seemed a good starting point.

The only major change we made was to allow the Senior Commander to activate any unit regardless of distance on the assumption that the use of radios would make this much easier.  We could have extended this to Junior Commanders as well but left these as per the rules... they tended to stick with one unit anyway so this had little impact.

We pitched a regular force of Government troops against a larger force of 'Militia'.  The Government had smaller units but better Command dice and were supported by a Panhard AML.  The Militia had larger units but poorer dice and a couple of Technicals.  They also had a Recoilless Rifle and both sides had an on-table mortar although mine was only just on the table before being knocked out!

The table featured a lot of jungle and woods and a couple of villages joined by a road and after the Patrol Phase had determined out starting positions, the fighting quickly settled down to a struggle for the village I occupied.

The Rebels defend the village

My Recoilless Rifle and Mortar were deployed behind the buildings and thanks to some very effective mortar fire from Keith, my Mortar was quickly knocked out.  Luckily the Rifle hung on despite heavy fire which was to prove vital as the game went on.

The early stage of the game was dominated by a gun duel between my Gun and Keith's Panhard which I was gradually able to damage and then destroy.  Keith also advanced up to the village just as I deployed a squad and opened fire, pinning them down and then forcing them to rout.

I brought on my 2 Technicals and quickly discovered that normal cars vs Squads armed with AK47s and RPGs is a really rubbish contest!  Both were knocked out in quick succession although one did at least get to fire its HMG before being shot to pieces.

oooh, look... a burning Technical!

...and here comes another victim...

I decided to move one of my squads from the relative safety of the building and managed to get there despite drawing lots of mortar fire from Keith.

...aaand... it's been knocked out!  Note the infantry casually strolling
across the road ignoring the Mortar fire

This was relatively short-lived though as Keith was able to concentrate fire from 2 squads on the unit before a 3rd charged home and wiped out my defenders. As I had now taken heavy casualties in the other unit in the village and lost both vehicles and a full squad we decided that the Government troops had restored democracy/brutally crushed the freedom fighters and won the day.

some Militia infantry wandering through the woods... unfortunately
in the wrong place and didn't contribute a great deal

So... the rules worked very well for the modern period as well.  Vehicles, and especially unarmoured ones, are quite vulnerable which felt logical.  The firepower from assault rifles was pretty devastating and with hindsight we felt that perhaps not including the 're-roll 1s' rule might be a good reflection of poorer fire control, especially for the Militia.  I think there's also more that could be done with Command and Control to highlight the differences.

We hadn't used anything more complicated than a Panhard and I think we'd need to do a lot more tweaking to reflect heavier armour.  Luckily Jim at Arlequins Adventures has done just that and has suggested a whole load of excellent amendments for armour, helicopters and anti-tank weapons which I may shamelessly nick!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Jungle update

I mentioned before that I'd found some Darkest Africa figures buried in the lead pile in the loft and was planning to use these for IHMN.

It seems these are from the Foundry Miniatures range and there are more than I thought!  In the box were an assortment of Askaris and a lot of Victorian Explorers all of which will be ideal for the IHMN game.

Dr Livingstone I presume....

A rather cool chap with a cup of tea...ideal  for the jungle

Victorian cricketer/mad explorer... I can see him despatching the natives with his 'Clicky-Ba'

2 rather evangelical preachers: although the woman could equally be a Suffragette
I've also ordered some Cannibals and a 'Lord of the Jungle' from Northstar Miniatures range... more detail when they arrive.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Klingons on the starboard bow....

First game of 2014 earlier this week was kindly laid on by Anthony and saw him umpire a Star Trek game using the Use Me Starship rules from and his very nice collection of Micro Machines spaceships.

For the uninitiated [which was me up until Monday] these are part of a range of rule booklets covering just about every genre from WW2 and ACW to Eldritch Horror and Cyberpunk, all at a very reasonable price.  Use Me, if you didn't know, stands for Ultra Simple Engine for Miniature Engagements...

Anthony kindly agreed to umpire as he was the only one with any knowledge of the rules...sensibly he didn't incorporate some of the more complicated rules [so no nuclear warheads or homing missiles] to let us try and get flavour of the rules.

The scenario pitted a Federation fleet [Chris] against those gallant defenders of the universe, the Klingons [me].  The fleets were well balanced but the Feds had weapons that were more effective at longer ranges while the Klingons had more powerful but shorter range Disruptors.

The forces were drawn up either side of an asteroid field which I was able to use to screen some of the early long range pot shots from Chris.  Luckily this, combined with Chris' uncanny ability to roll any effective dice for the first half of the game meant the Klingons were able to draw first blood, damaging or knocking out some of the Federation cruisers.

I slipped some of my cruisers straight through the asteroid field in an attempt to close with Chris while my slower moving Battleships moved into effective range... Chris' ships still failed to roll any useful dice and his most spectacular result was when the wrecked hulk of a Federation cruiser crashed into one of mine destroying it!

Half way through the game the combined teams of Federation Scotty's managed to 'gie the engines mair power!' and the phasers started to actually hit the enemy.  The tide was slowly beginning to swing back towards Chris but it was too little too late.  My Battleships had stayed together in a compact wedge and were able to concentrate fire in turn on the Federation battleships, crippling them one by one.

By the end of the game neither of us had much left in the way of cruisers but I had the upper hand with 3 undamaged Battleships and claimed the victory.

An interesting set of rules.... it would be good to try these with more of the additional rules to see how complex they become.  I think one of the attractions of rules like these is the simplicity and fast play element and it would be interesting to see if it can be added to without losing this.

I've also just noticed that they also have some Post Apocalypse rules in this range which could be handy for my Fallout project....

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy Hogmanay!!!!

Right then... another year over, ending in a riotous New Year party up in Glasgow (, wife, son and dog and my parents...a can of beer and Jackie Bird and Chewin' the Fat on TV: we know how to party!!!)

I hope you all had a great New Year and 2014 is everything you hope for.

So, plans for 2014: actually common sense would suggest that making any kind of plan is a bit pointless and probably the kiss of death but that's never stopped me in the past.

I'm already working on the Sedition Wars box (or will be once I actually get going) and the 15mm WW2 Chain of Command stuff but ideas mulling around in my brain for 2014 are...

  • More stuff for In Her Majesties Name... having just rediscovered a box of explorers and Askaris in the loft (possibly Foundry or Copplestone) I think some African adventures are on the cards.

  • Some kind of post-apocalypse/Fallout style game... I've been thinking about this for a while and looking at the really nice Lead Adventure miniatures range.  Rulewise, possibly Mutants and Death Rays from Ganesha games or tinkering with IHMN.

  • 15mm SF...Tomorrow's War seems like an ideal rule set and there are a lot of nice 15mm figures out there at the moment.

It'll be interesting to see how many of these, if any, come to fruition.