Friday, 8 June 2012

Getting some action in! Some games at the New Club

If this blog has been somewhat neglected of late (yes thank you for pointing that out repeatedly Martin! Hope you are satisfied with recent updates - which include some older stuff btw which I've slipped in earlier in the blog so you'll need to check out back to February to get everything new including the pics/battle reports on my triumphs in the sadly aborted 'Winter King' club tournament) it is mainly because less of my efforts have gone into painting and making things - which tends to get photo'd to show off to get people interested in playing- and most of my efforts have gone into playing with mine, and other people's toys.

So largely to keep Martin happy (who needs 'Followers' anyway), I've added this to keep the blog a bit more up-to-date.

The other people's toys I've been playing with include Martin's very nice WW2 tanks - you must teach me how to get that finish, mine aren't a patch on yours I'm afraid.
Basically this was a pretty straight forward Rapid Fire game set on the Eastern Front, I guess some time around 1943. I got a force of Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs with a couple of Tigers. I had to face down a force of T34/76s and later on some KV-1s. Basically my Tigers slunk into a wood and popped away at the advancing T34/76s. When my Pz IIIs and Pz IVs came on the board, I slipped them alongside them, though they did not get much in the way of hits compared to the Tigers. Things were going ok until disaster struck and one of my Tigers was hit and brewed up. The other then failed its morale test, hit reverse gear and drove off the board!

From there on in I ceased to be in the driving seat. My Pz IIIs and Pz IVs started to see more explosions than Guy Fawkes day, only trading back a few hits. Then the KV 1s made an appearance, and Martin in his generosity decided to rectify my complete incompetance in losing my Tigers, so early on, whose '88s were they only guns able to easily take on the KV1's, and allowed me to bring on two more Tigers. At this point I still had a few Pz IIIs and Pz IVs left. The Tigers held back to take as many shots as they could before the KV1s reached them. But once the KV 1's and remaining T34s were well across the halfway line on the table, I moved my Pz IIIs and Pz IVs, who had been hiding among the burning wrecks (completely unhistorically it was pointed out to me as tankers would avoid wrecks like the plague in case they blew up, and to emphasise the point Martin started rolling to see if they would explode). They dashed out and raced around the back of the Ruskie tanks. The result was an exciting and tense ending as the Russians closed on my Tigers, but I shot up tank after tank with my '88s or from behind, with the game ending with me taking out the final KV1 with my Tiger at point blank range, in an all or nothing shot!

Great game!

The other exceptionally nice toys which I have been very lucky to get to play with are Phil's Early Imperial Romans and barbarian German army. Phil is keen to get us playing 'War and Conquest' rules for ancients, not least because the rulebook features many of his fantastically painted figures. I've been a tad sceptical, because they looked initially just another re-working of the Games Workshop Fantasy/WAB rules. Much as I don't mind rules from this stable, I don't see them as the 'holy grail', don't like having to keep buying new rule books, and I like other rulesets, too, including the completely unfashionable DBA rules. 

I rapidly re-deployed my cavalry from right to left flank to stop the Germans, only to have them sent packing
Although the result of the game can only be described as a crushing defeat for me, I was very much impressed with the simple tweaks to the WAB concept in 'War and Conquest' rules that indeed made for a much, much better game on the whole, as Phil and Tony had claimed. One big difference was the simple initiative test at the start of each turn, which meant sometimes one army could move twice before the other one did. One frustrating thing about WAB is that it is actually fairly hard to make intelligent maneuver count for anything. A player can just still back leisurely and watch an enemy unit march down a flank, and in a calm and measured way just counter it with a turn or whatever when it suits them. The initiative roll changes all of this, because an enemy could come on much quicker than you expected. I also liked the fact that you could influence this initiative roll with your Strategic Influence Points, a couple of times in the game, which can also be used to add another dice to a morale check (in 'War and Conquest' you already roll 3 dice for a morale test and choose the best two, unlike WAB where you just roll two).  

Warband charges into my advancing line of legionaries
This ability to use your generalship to influence the battle at key moments is a welcome addition, compared to WAB, which at times seems to be a prolonged exercise in dice rolling to determine an outcome.
Beautifully painted German warband
I also like the way that having different (and secret) battle objectives was built into the game. It can be a bland assumption in too many games that most battles are fought simply to beat the enemy, and the game is much richer with objectives.
German Noble Cavalry after seeing off my Roman Cavalry
I was less convinced that having the third dice for the morale test is NECESSARILY a good thing in all wargames. Certainly for many classical battles, there is clear evidence that many combats between units was hard fought and could go on for hours, so making it easier to stand/harder to break the enemy makes sense for these sorts of battles. I'm less sure that that is the case for all Dark Age conflicts. Some were hard fought - the Battle of Hastings went on all day-but we don't know how large the armies were in some conflicts, and could in fact have involved quite small forces, who were somewhat more skittish.
My legionary line starts to crumble
Anyway, would definitely play these again, and no problem switching over to 'War and Conquest' from WAB if everyone else does especialy as the army lists are offered free on the website forum, so I'm not expected to buy another set of expensive supplements with another regurgitation of historical information I often have elsewhere any way, just to be able to field an army.

These howling barbarians were too much for my legionaries on the night and eventually most of my legions collapsed

Now we have a lot of very good-looking games down at our club, and if I do not post more pics of Reece, Phil's and Tony's amazing armies and Chris's brilliant Wild West and Pirate games, it is only because they are much better covered in the Club Photo Gallery taken with the club camera, which week-in-week out shows games which look like exhibition games in Wargames Illustrated. This particular game though I couldn't resist taking a snaps and is a game of British Grenadier put on by a member tempted back to the club after our schism with the Card Players/WH 40K players at the old club.

As with the photos of Phil's game, make sure you click on the photos to get a proper look at these amazing figures.

Finally a game that is tempting me, but with so much else on offer I haven't had time to try out is 'Saga' Gripping Beast's Dark Age Skirmish game, which Reece introduced to the club, and is proving popular.
Here are a couple of shots of a game in progress and some Welsh archers. Not only do I have my WAB Anglo-Saxon (and when they have an army list for them Arthurian British) armies to draw on for figures, but I might just have enough figures to get together a Norman army. I also have some Vikings in storage that I'm hoping to get out soon. While I can't justify the expense/painting time/storage requirement of Norman and Viking armies for WAB/War and Conquest, a small skirmish force is an entirely different matter!

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