Sunday, 22 June 2014

Bag the Trucks

This week we played a game of Bag the Hun for the first time in ages.  I haven't really found a better set of air rules which are as quick to grasp and very playable as these.

For tonight's game I pitched a flight of Spitfires against some Me109s and a couple of Stukas.  In order to give the Stukas something to do there were several trucks heading across the table which the RAF had been tasked with protecting.  As it was the Stukas strafed the convoys once to little effect but the Luftwaffe were definitely gaining the upper hand over the enemy fighters.

Good fun, especially as I haven't played them for some time.  I've also heard good things about 'Check Your 6" which I think are more detailed involve smaller actions that BtH but any suggestions for good air rules would be gratefully received... not that I'm unhappy with BtH but you can never have too many rules!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Musket and Tomahawk

I haven't played Musket and Tomahawk for ages [at least 18 months if this blog is anything to go by] so when Andrew at the club asked if I could arrange a game of something but foolishly left the choice to me, it seemed like a good excuse to dig out the rules and give it another bash.
After a quick run through the mechanics [which are fairly straightforward and bear some similarity to Sharp Practice which Andrew and I have played before] we were off.  M&T uses a set up system where each player roles to see what their objective is... this can lead to games where both sides could theoretically win [it's happened once when I've played] but this is unlikely.  In our case the objectives matched nicely: Andrew's British troops were tasked with protecting the villagers while my Frenchies were given the appropriately names 'Slaughter' mission.
Both sides had a mix of Line Infantry and Indian allies... the British also had a lowly unit of Militia while the French had some hardened Canadian Irregulars.

The British were able to deploy in and around the village and quickly moved out to screen the villagers who began streaming back to the houses.  The French Line infantry meanwhile advanced steadily with one unit struggling to make it's way through the woods.  Their Indians and Canadians who were using hidden movement [using counters with 1 dummy counter] circled wide to the left using the woods and cornfields to ensure that they weren't spotted.
The woods are full of Indians!
The British Iroquois allies spent a couple of turns wandering around somewhat indecisively before settling in the hedged field next to the village.  The British also had 2 units held off table as reinforcements. The Militia turned up first and quickly sheltered in one of the houses as they could see the advancing counters of the French Indians.
The opposing Line units had advanced to meet each other and exchanged some long range fire which resulted in one of the French units being wiped out completely.  The other did manage to inflict some casualties on the British forcing them back from the hedged field which was rapidly becoming the key feature of the game

The French firing line...just before the left hand unit was wiped out!

Over near the British table edge the Canadians and one unit of Hurons were beginning to approach the nearest house in which the Militia were hiding.  I had a bit of a premonition at this point and swung the Canadians round to face the table edge as I had a feeling the remaining British Line unit was due to make an appearance and sure enough Andrew immediately made the required roll to bring them on, directly facing the Canadians. 

This now became a game of chicken... waiting to see who's card would come up first and luckily it was the French Irregulars.  As I suspected I wouldn't be able to win a firefight against a Firing Line the Canadians charged, throwing tomahawks as they went in.. a couple of rounds later and the British recoiled back off the table and were lost!

The other French Indian unit tried a similar charge against their Iroquois enemies which drove them back and then tried the same trick against the British Line troops in the field.   They forced the enemy back but they happily responded by reforming and pouring fire into the Indians, driving them back out and into a nearby cornfield

The Canadians and Indians, flushed with success,  tried advancing up to the nearest house and taking on the much derided Militia who managed to force them both back repeatedly with close range fire.

By this point the casualties had mounted on both sides but crucially my French were nowhere near getting to their objective of massacring the civilians... sadly the piles of dead British infantry didn't help with the victory conditions.... so the game ended as a British victory but one that would surely lead to awkward questions back at Horseguards about the heavy price [or at least that was my small crumb of comfort!]

As always Musket and Tomahawk gives a great game with a dramatic feel to it... we both forgot about our side missions along the way: Andrew's officer was meant to prove himself by taking on the enemy in hand to hand and I was meant to capture a prisoner... I might have been able to salvage a draw if I'd thought of it instead of merrily scalping everyone we met!!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Skirmish Sangin - first game

Last week Keith and I played our first game of Skirmish Sangin, the skirmish [..duh!...] level game based in Afghanistan and produced by Radio Dishdash. Both of us had been tempted, separately, at Salute and ended up buying the rules.  Could this be an alternative to Force on Force.....

The rules come in a very nice 172 page book or can be bought as a PDF.  One of the things that's very noticeable about the rules is the range of troops that it covers and the fact that most of these are non-US troops.  The rules include stats for Australian and NZ troops as well as British and the photographs that are used throughout the book are from the MoD.  The supplement which has also been produced includes stats for some European troops and Afghan Police etc  as well.

The game is aimed at very small-scale games... in the game we played, which is a scenario in the book, there were only 8 figures per side and a lot of detail is needed for each figure.  It feels a bit like a cross between a tabletop game and a Role playing game which fits with the authors intentions of emphasising the narrative and story of the game.  The game is aimed at 28mm figures but we played with 15mm minis but kept ranges etc the same.

Each figure has scores for their Body [which determines who goes when] and a range of skills [eg rifle, hand to hand, first aid etc].  Turns are divided into a number of combat phases and characters act in a number of these, depending on their Body score, with higher rated figures going first.

The scenario involves an ISAF patrol which has ended up trapped in the centre of an alleyway with Taliban fighters at either end of the street.  The ISAF troops were assumed to be in the best cover possible so were mainly crouching or prone on rooftops in the's important to note who's crouching, standing etc and the game uses counters to mark this.

For the first couple of turns the Taliban stayed out of sight, creeping up into position and using walls to stay hidden. Keith [playing the Taliban] then ran one of his figures over a wall and into a courtyard.  Here we discovered the pitfalls of the turn sequence as the ISAF soldier on the roof above him moved next... a target standing in the open makes an easy target and the Taliban fell, seriously wounded.

One of the other features of the game is that you have to spot each turn, unless your target is in the open so often figures are unable to shoot, especially if targets are behind walls or on higher ground.

Several phases of creeping around, failing to spot and making an occasional shot followed before one of the Taliban who'd made it onto a roof managed to draw a bead on the ISAF Corporal who was hit and seriously wounded.  Unlike the earlier Taliban casualty he remained conscious, meaning he had a chance to crawl to cover or perform some self-First Aid, but also that his screams had a negative morale effect on everyone else!

Morale plays a big part in the game... coming under fire, whether it hits or not, will cause a morale test and these can quickly mount up.

Each ISAF squad contained a Grenadier with an attached underslung grenade launcher and these proved very effective although we discovered that there is a very large 'Wound Zone' where shrapnel fragments can hit anyone...thank goodness for body armour!

Eventually the grenade fire and some lucky rifle fire finished off one of the Taliban squads and we called a halt, assuming the ISAF troops would be able to extricate themselves and  having managed to play through precisely one turn!

So, does the game make a good alternative to Force on Force??


The spotting rules make a lot of sense... just because you were able to see a target a few seconds ago doesn't mean they'll sit still and wait for you to take a pot shot.

The morale rules feel right... even coming under inaccurate fire must be pretty terrifying so the mounting morale factors force troops to become pinned down or retire quite regularly unless they can stay in cover.

The small scale... increasingly I find I really like games with only a handful of figures [...and not just because I'm a skinflint!]

The rules succeed in their aim of providing a game with a real story to it


The reliance on counters is bound to be a turn-off for some players.  Counters are needed to show Morale effects but also whether you're prone or kneeling or even if you're walking, running or crawling [we didn't use these ones].  Counters can be downloaded and I'd laminated there and they were a bugger to pick up!  If  a figure is prone, crawling and has been under fire they could be buried under a pile of counters.

The level of factors in spotting, shooting and morale... there are lots of modifiers which can mean turns take a long time to process.  By the end we'd got the hang of this though and it had sped up.

There are lots of additional rules which we didn't get into including heavy weapons, vehicles etc  and it would be good to try it again and add some of these in.  Overall I think the verdict could be summed up as...hmmmm.....

I think we both enjoyed them and can see some real potential for Afghan games.  If we could speed things up a bit [which may be down to us rather than the rules] and maybe find a way to reduce the reliance on counters they could be really good.  Of course as there were only 8 figures per side in this game it wouldn't be unfeasible to have a standing, kneeling and prone figure for each man which would help.

Definitely worth checking out if modern games are your thing though.

More info can be found here....   and here...