Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Upcoming Rules

I'm looking for something in Victorian Science Fiction; must be able to deal with Colonial actions as well as steam-powered landships, mechs, aeronefs, et cetera.

I'm also looking at the Perfect Captain's Spanish Fury rules for Actions and Battles.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Close Action AAR: British vs Americans

Went to Springfield Virginia (just outside DC) for a Close Action game put on by Mark Campbell. This was a hypothetical scenario, with the Americans trying to punch through a channel blockaded by the British. The Americans start in the south; they get extra points for getting their 44s off the north end, if they can do so without losing rigging sections. Wind is from the southwest. All forces start in line ahead by squadron; the Brits are close hauled heading south, the Americans are broad reaching north.

I didn't get a scenario page so I don't know exactly what the forces were, although they totaled about 850 points. I believe both sides had three frigates to the west and two on the east; the American main line had four Super 74s and as I recall the Brits had five ships of the line, including two 110s. My ship was USS Franklin, the lead American 74.

The American strategy was to have our western frigates block the Brit western frigates from blocking our main line from blocking the Brit main line from getting at our western frigates. I've paraphrased it a bit, but that was the essence. Meanwhile, one of the eastern frigates would keep the two Brit frigates on that side busy while the other one slipped past.

As the lead American ship of the line, I immediately went to plain sail and turned port to try to get upwind of the Brit heavies. By turn 3 it was clear that I would beat the leading Brit ship to the intercept point by a couple of hexes; I should have started lowering sail again, but didn't do that until turn 4 (and it's a two-turn process). On turn 4 I crossed the enemy line, getting a half broadside range 2 bow rake. I debated getting one hex row west of the Brit line, moving a bit north and turning, which could (and in hindsight, would) have had the second Brit collide with me, causing major rigging damage to that ship and sowing confusion among the Brits; however, the lead Brit could have done something (although he didn't) to cause me to collide with him, which would have caused me severe rigging damage and been unhealthy for me. I elected to play it safe and made a little wider turn. The lead Brit scooted past me and the second Brit and I exchanged half-broadsides, which nearly took my first mast down before I could finish getting from Plain Sail to Medium Sail.

I then had to decide whether to keep sailing along the British line, rendering passing honors, or to beat upwind and help our frigates. The next Brit was San Josef, a captured Spanish 110, which was in the midst of tacking at the time. As it happened, she failed to tack and I could have gotten a bow rake in, but I'd decided to go west to succor our frigates, so I only got a medium range half broadside in on her.

Meanwhile our other heavies were southwest of me, getting ready to engage two of the Brit frigates. (The third western Brit, Horatio 38, had headed north to be a backstop, which I expect was in accordance with his admiral's intent. If it'd been my ship, I'd have stayed up in the action and tried to lure one of the American 44s into colliding with me, but what Horatio did worked well enough).

By turn 8 I was trading shots with frigate Severn, which was carronade-heavy and turned out to be less of a pushover than I expected; her fire, plus some medium long shots from San Josef and Vengeur (another Brit SOL) finished off my first mast and nearly got my second mast. Turn 9 saw my second mast fall, and turn 10 cost my third mast and first hull section (the Brits were mostly firing high). Our other heavies were dancing around on the western edge of the channel, getting in each other's firing arcs so they couldn't bring full effective fire on the enemy frigates. Despite this, even a tough frigate can't survive much attention from SOL, and Leander struck, followed shortly by Severn.

Two of our western frigates ran north; one of them kept Horatio busy while the other one slipped off the map for a Victory Point bonus. On the eastern edge, our two frigates tried the same plan, but a lucky British shot took down a mast on the one that was trying to get off the board, which eventually led to two frigate duels.

Meanwhile, back in the main turn 10 my masts were shot up enough that my options were limited. I crept along, hoping to lunge in front of one of the Brit heavies and cause a collision; when my third mast fell, my aspirations fell to "don't die yet" and "get a few more good shots in before I go." A benevolent Fate led to some confusion on San Josef's quarterdeck and twice I narrowly escaped taking a close range bow rake from a 110.

Remember the two leading British ships which had gone past me around turn 5? They had overshot the action and had to tack and go to plain sail to get back to the fray. They came charging back in to the SOL fight around turn 13 and started taking down sails, a little later than they should have. I got in a shot on Canopus which wasn't impressive as far as overall weight of metal (gunnery factor 23 before dice), but was beautiful as far as accuracy; it took down her first mast, the critical hit took down her second mast, and the "rigging check" result from that did three boxes damage to the third mast as well, for a total of 13 rigging hits on that one shot. It was one of the few times I've ever ordered "aim for the rigging", and it worked out well.

By turn 15 the action was moving away from me toward the northwest; I traded shots with Valiant as she went past me. I lost my last original rigging box, but my marines had been busy with a couple of blankets, a petticoat and some string, so I wasn't quite dismasted--the only time I've had "repair rigging" orders have any significant effect. I was able to get in one more starboard turn to bring guns to bear before my last mast was swept away.

That brought us to the end of Turn 16 and 4:30pm. Mark decided to call it due to time. Two Brit frigates had struck, and one American 44 had made it off the map; on the other hand, my Franklin would have been doomed as soon as an enemy had some free time to come back and rake me, and most of the other ships on both sides were looking battered. It was adjudicated as a hard-fought draw. The American admiral felt (and I agree) that the Brits had done a better job at keeping their lines and not blocking each others's fire, so I'd call it a British moral victory.

It was a lot of fun having big ships with grade A and B crews on both sides. Most of my outbound shots were half broadsides rather than full, and I was still getting gunnery factor 30 before dice. And despite getting plenty of attention from the enemy, it was turn 10 before I lost a hull section, turn 14 before I lost a crew section.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Conflict of Heroes: Clear and Secure

I had my first look at Conflict of Heroes a couple of months ago, and finally got a chance to play it. Some games you put off playing because the set up is a nuisance, but Firefight 1 is easy. One small board, a summary sheet, a bookkeeping sheet, two control markers, three German counters, five Soviet counters. This is a solitaire scenario. Set up time, ten minutes or less; playing time, about an hour and a half for my first game.
It's Russia in May of 1943. The player-controlled German panzergrenadier platoon (three squads) has crept up from the south through a cornfield, and are now within striking distance of a village occupied by a Soviet unit. The Russians have a Maxim gun at the west end of town, a rifle squad and SMG squad in the big building on the north side of the village, a rifle squad just south of the main building and a final rifle squad in the woods at the southeast corner of the built up area. The German mission is to destroy the enemy and occupy the large stone building on the north side of the village within five turns.
Turn 1: Two Germans fire on the Russians in the woods, doing no damage; the return fire suppresses one of the squads. The third German squad charges the Russian unit, and destroys it in close combat.
Turn 2: The victorious German squad fires on the closest Russian squad, and destroys it with a lucky hit. The suppressed squad rallies and advances. The westernmost squad charges the Maxim crew, enduring machinegun fire on the way; they make it to point blank range unscathed but fail to knock out the Maxim.
Turn 3: The Russians win initiative and blaze away at the western squad, which is in the open at one hex range. They draw a Kill result and the German squad is destroyed. The remaining two German squads fire at both Russian units in the stone building; one is Pinned (can't move) and the other is Stunned (can't take any action except Rally).
Turn 4: Both Russians in the stone building fail to rally. Ranged fire puts a second hit on one, destroying it; a Panzergren moves into the stone building and attacks the other from point blank range, destroying it as well. The Maxim crew feels very lonely but moves to a position with line of sight to the stone building. They get a good hit, and the German squad is Suppressed (reduced firepower).
Turn 5: The heroic Maxim crew moves in close, but the Panzergrenadiers rally before the Russians can put a second hit on them and finish them off. The Maxim crew does Pin the Germans, but the Germans can still shoot, and do; the Russians take one hit. The second German squad fires across the street and manages a second hit; the Maxim is destroyed.

End result: the Soviets gathered 1 victory point for the western German squad; the Germans got 1 for each kill and 2 more for controlling both objective hexes, for a total of 7. Note however that in accordance with the Solitaire rules, most of the Russian never moved, just stayed in place and shot; the Germans would have had to work a lot harder in a two player game.

Friction in War

It doesn't just apply within games; it also applies to setting up games in the first place. Postings going forward should be more frequent.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Combat at Aire

The Anglo-Portuguese forces are attacking a French rear guard, with the Portuguese in the center and the Redcoats on either wing. The French have a lot fewer forces, and are on the defense. I tend to "defend" rather aggressively; historically the French checked the Portuguese advance with a bayonet charge; I had the Bayonet Charge card in my opening hand. I didn't destroy the whole formation but I certainly broke it up, and subsequent Attack Center and Probe Center cards let me destroy a couple of units and force the others to flee across the river, although I lost my Light unit and one of my Line units in the process.
With his center weakened and his right eager to advance, Josh marched on my left, moving his guns and cacadores across the bridge. My light horse charged the guns and was thrown back; then my dragoons came lumbering up and rode across the battery, while the hussars pestered the cacadores and forced them into square. My cavalry units were each reduced to a single block, but were able to withdraw behind the ridge line into safety. My remaining units on the left then managed to hold off the Brits long enough for the infantry to march from my center (wiping out the last block of cacadores as they passed) and drive back the Brits (wiping out the the other cacadores as well). The cacadores always take a lot of losses; Josh so commonly reanimates them with a Rally card, that we are assuming there were zombie cacadores.
With his right and center thrown back, Josh pressed in on his left, advancing four infantry across the river where I had only one infantry and a gun battery to face them. It looked like my right was doomed; however, I had five victory flags and only needed one more. I launched a bayonet charge supported by artillery, one of the rare occasions when we've been able to put together a combined arms assault. I rolled seven dice, which should on average have killed 3.5 of his four blocks, but in this case only scored two. The massed British line started to pour fire into my lone battalion; fortunately the first volley scored two flags, so my battalion raced back up and over the ridge to safety. While the Brits were reloading, my battalion (who must have been wearing running shoes) ran forward over the ridge again and assaulted the weak spot in the enemy line, and broke that unit; that secured the sixth and last victory flag. Good thing the game ended there, as otherwise Josh's remaining units would have wiped out that battalion and probably the artillery as well.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

CCN: Salamanca

Josh and I did Salamanca (Attack on the French Left) tonight. One would think with that title, I'd have figured out that the Brits are attacking the French, but that's not the way I played it. In the first few moves I brought my left forward (an easy decision as all I had were Left cards) and exchanged pleasantries with the two Portuguese ("Portuguese? Let me check that. Well, there are stickers for Portuguese Heavy Cavalry, I guess they really do have them. Who knew?") Heavy Cavalry. One cavalry unit was reduced to one block, which holed up in Miranda de Azan and started inventorying the wine supply. The Portuguese infantry advanced and pushed my left back, not destroying it but rendering it ineffective.
By this point I had a couple of cards for my right, so I charged to engage the Rifles and the British light infantry, driving them back off the ridge. The Rifles continued their tradition of being a bayonet-magnet and not getting anything else done. One of my divisions chased the Greenjackets down and destroyed them, and were destroyed in turn by the British lights.
I advanced and formed line in the center; Josh advanced the Brits and they also formed line, except they had six units while I had three plus some hussars hanging around on the right. I managed to take out the Cazadores but the return fire threw back the French assault. My artillery finally got into action, firing effectively on the ridge, but it was too late to salvage the situation, and the Anglo-Portuguese right swept forward and destroyed the remnants of my left.
Final score was 6:4, although the force ratio at the end was much more in favor of the Brits than the score suggests.
Moral of the story: an impulsive attack into against an equal or more powerful enemy isn't going to fare well.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Close Action: Cape Henry

The Rebel Seas supplement includes an alternate history version of the Battle of Cape Henry, with seven ships on each side. The wind is from the southwest, the French are close hauled heading northwest, and the British are on a broad reach heading north after the French. Josh and I took the British, while Tracy and Richard got the French.
As the Brits, our plan was "Go get 'em!" The French plan was "We can't expect to coordinate better than Team DeBoe, so we'll just turn around and head into battle and hopefully what happens will be fun."
And that's what happened. The French line immediately tacked and ended facing south, coming to meet us as we swept down on them. Our van met the left end of their line and then both sides piled on at the point of contact. By turn 5 we had 11 ships within an area 13 hexes wide; by turn 9 it was 14 ships within 10 hexes. Richard had three of his ships collide with British, and at one point there were nine ships involved in four separate foulings.
In the photo, British ships are red, French ships are yellow. My ships are British flagship and the two with Turkish flags (just so I could keep track of them more easily).
Richard got high roll of the day, a gunnery number 36 that scored a 6 on the roll for a 42 total. He also managed to launch a boarding action; Royal Oak had had time to get ready and repelled the boarders, but Richard deserves kudos for being able to get boarders away. Overall, however, the British were able to concentrate fire better, and although only one ship had struck when we quit, the British were ahead on points by roughly 140 to 50.

Quote board

There are no style points. Only victory points.
--Josh, referring to Close Action

Close Action: The Happy Return

As Josh is leaving for Australia soon, Richard came down from Fairfax and Tracy came from Hampton for a day of Close Action. The morning game was "The Happy Return" from Monsoon Seas, with evenly matched forces of three British against three comparable French. Tracy and I were French. We'd taken a bit of a beating but were doing reasonably well, until I guessed wrong and ended up taking a range 1 stern rake from Richard. That took me down by a crew section and I blew a morale check. I did manage to avoid colliding with Richard's ship, and thought we might be able to pull things out. Then Josh took a shot at me from medium range, purely because he didn't have anything else to shoot at. He scored a Critical Hit: Major Explosion. Guns dismounted on both broadsides, ship on fire, one crew section occupied trying to fight the fire, three morale checks, lost a hull section...we decided it was time for lunch and we'll start another scenario afterward.

Incidentally, Close Action uses d6 rolls to determine how effective your shots are. I recorded 13 of my rolls, of which 9 were the worst possible result for that roll.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Busaco: Ney's Assault

We had this scenario set up from the previous night's game, so we gave it another play. The center was heavily contested; the French force the British skirmishers to withdraw from the town and woods in midfield, a British counterattack retook the town. A hussar brigade attacked, forcing British infantry into square, but there were enough other regiments nearby to drive off the horsemen with heavy losses; a second brigade of hussars swept up the center to the artillery, and spiked the guns before withdrawing in good order. A heavy French assault recaptured the town in the center and drove through to the ridge that the Redcoats were trying to hold. On the French left, the British dragoons and Grenadier Guards advanced, breaking the French left wing, but too late to save the day. The score was French 7 (including both British generals), British 4. Josh said that this game convinced him that I use black magic on my dice.

C&C:N reflections

I think I'm getting the mindset necessary to enjoy C&C: N. It takes more patience, and an awareness that you are starting the game not ready to dive right into the attack; you have to marshal your forces first. It also takes a philosophical acceptance that you won't have the cards you want, so you just have to use what you have as best you can.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Conflict of Heroes

Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel--Kursk 1943 is produced by Academy Games. I haven't even punched the counters, but I like this game already--it was designed with solo play in mind.

The box is solid, the rule book is glossy and well laid out; the four maps are mounted and have a satiny texture. There's a scenario book with fifteen firefights. There are tracking sheets, so each player can track his Action Points, Command Points and Victory Points; there are well-designed one-page (front and back) summary sheets. The counters are big 1" squares, which is good because there's a lot of information on the counter; each counter represents one squad, vehicle or gun. Seven pages of rules will get you playing the first two scenarios; the remaining nine pages add tanks, half tracks, trucks, artillery, ground attack planes, mines, bunkers, anti tank ditches and other obstacles, snipers, smoke, and special effects cards.

The key concept is action points. When you activate a unit or group of units, you get 7 Action Points, which you spend on Actions: move (usually costs 1 or 2 points per hex), fire (2 to 4 points per attack), or rally (5 points). Leadership is represented by Command Points, which can be used as extra Action Points or to influence die rolls (directing fire, rallying a squad); however, those Command Points are in short supply and must be used wisely.

The attacker has different firepower values depending on whether he's firing at a soft or armored target; the target has different defense values depending on whether the incoming fire is coming through front or flank (which includes rear). If attacker's Firepower + 2d6 (and Command Point DRMs, if any) is equal to or greater than target's Defense Value and Terrain modifiers, the target takes a hit. The target unit might be destroyed by a hit, but it might also be stunned, pinned, suppressed, or merely unnerved; the defender draws an effect chit and puts it under the unit, so the attacker doesn't necessarily know how effective his fire was. Is the enemy panicked and suppressed, or just waiting for us to get closer?

The "thank you" letter that came in the box lists several awards won by the first game in this series: an Origins, two Charles Roberts, a James Dunnigan and an International Gamers. I'm thinking that this might be the game that ASL should have been.

The first scenario is small: five Russian squads are in a village, and three German squads need to clear it. Perhaps tomorrow...

Garcia Hernandez

This looked like an interesting battle; the French had a mix of infantry and cavalry (plus one gun battery), and the English had nothing but cavalry. Historically, this is the action where the Kings German Legion horse broke two French squares.
The French start with two battalions in square; they brought two more battalions up to try to relieve the pressure, but they were quickly forced into square also. The KGL pressed the attack and whittled away at one of the squares while taking heavy casualties. An English hussar regiment charged a French unit battalion that couldn't form square (due to a rule limit on how many squares can exist at one time); the hussars destroyed the battalion and broke through. They charged a second battalion, destroyed it as well, and nearly captured General Foy, who fled the field.

And then the cavalry arrived. The French cavalry. My light horse received the charge and took a drubbing; they did some damage in return, but not enough to keep them from being swept from the field. The finishing stroke was when a French battalion on the far left launched a bayonet charge that came on a KGL regiment from behind; our retreat was blocked and the regiment was doomed. General Gleichen was led into captivity, swearing like a trooper. many you can have) and destroyed them. The victorious hussars broke through the line, attacked another battalion and destroyed it; General Foy and his aides fled the battlefield.
Score: French 7 , British 4 (6 required for a win).
Note: a unit commendation for the hussar regiment which pressed the attack through the French line. That unit scored all four victory points for the British.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Today we did Command and Colors: Napoleonics scenario Bussaco (Reynier's Attack), with Josh commanding the Angle-Portuguese army and me taking the French. The French demonstrated on the right, moving their battalions into position; the British began moving their forces up to the front of the ridge. A sharp exchange of fire between light companies forced the British artillery to retreat, but decimated the two leading voltigeur companies. I hadn't brought all of my infantry battalions up to the front but decided to launch my assault with what I had on the line, before the British were fully prepared. The drums beat the pas de charge and three battalions attacked with the bayonet. On the left, a Redcoat battalion had come down from the ridge, and my grognards broke them and sent them running. In the center, the British light company waited till the last moment and fired, causing many casualties, but my assault column maintained the attack and many a British sharpshooter fell to a French bayonet. On the right, the attack faltered and the Redcoats were able to drive back the column. Our artillery battery bombarded the exposed British Li
ght battalion in the center and broke them; on the left, the survivors of the assault column pursued the fleeing English and destroyed them.
And then the tide of Fortune turned. A Portuguese battalion took my assault column in flank and destroyed it, while long range gunnery finished off the survivors of the voltigeurs in the center, and a unit on the right as well.

The French heavy cavalry on the left swept across the battlefield in a mad charge to try to save the battle, but the Portuguese infantry formed square and the cavalry could do nothing.
As they milled around, the British dragoons countercharged; the French withdrew, but the British pursued and put them to flight. Massena saw he could do nothing against British arms, and withdrew.
Final score, 6 to 2.
French losses: 3 line infantry, 1 light infantry, 1 foot artillery, 1 heavy cavalry.
British losses: 1 line infantry, 1 light infantry.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

C&C Napoleonics

We did Rolica 2nd Position late Saturday night, and a replay on Sunday. Just the fact that we can get three games done in one weekend makes this a winner. It does, however, have a bit of a learning curve, figuring out how to do the best you can with the cards you have.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Josh and I had our first game of Command & Colors Napoleonics today, starting with scenario 1, "Rolica (First Position)". The historical battle took place in Portugal in 1808; Wellesley with 15,000 men dislodged Delaborde and 4500 from their positions and forced them to withdraw.

In the scenario, the numbers are more even. The British have four Portuguese units on the right, four Redcoats and two batteries in the center, and beyond the river on the left are a heavy cavalry, a horse artillery, and two infantry units. The French have a battery in the center, with a total of six infantry, with each flank guarded by a light cavalry unit.

The game is divided into left, center, and right sectors, and you can only move and fight units as
allowed by one of your command cards. One card might let you give orders to two or three units on your right flank; another might allow you to order one unit from each sector.

First blood went to the French gun battery, which used a "Bombard" card for exceptionally effective fire, and forced one of my batteries out of action.

Most of my starting cards were attacks and assaults on the right flank. Since that's what I had to work with, my Portuguese advanced and attacked, pushing the French off their hill. The Portuguese cavalry swept behind the French hussars, forced them back and nearly destroyed them.

And then the French counter attacked. A "Short Supply" card forced the Portuguese cavalry back to the British base line. Massed French musketry and bayonet charges destroyed the cacadores and one of the Portuguese line infantry units, and nearly destroyed the other one, which scampered back out of range as quickly as it could.

My left advanced, but was hampered by terrain. They fired on the cavalry guarding the French right and forced it back, but were unable to do much damage. I brought up my infantry in the center, but Josh used a "Rally" and got his infanry on the ridge line in good order; before I could launch my assault he preempted me, and a blaze of musketry wiped out two of my infantry units and forced a third back to the trees.

He then made use of a "Cavalry Charge". The hussars of his right swept past my infantry to attack the horse artillery that had been plaguing them; the artillery fell back, the hussars followed and pressed the attack, and wiped out the battery.

The final position is shown. The French are still holding the original position; the Portuguese have remembered something urgent back at camp; the British left is in good shape but half the center is gone. Josh got a 5:0 win.

Solo Wargamer

A blog dedicated to....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Previous Posts

My previous After Action Reports and other wargame-related posts, from my other blog

Battle Honors

Battle honor: the right awarded to a military unit to emblazon the name of a battle or operation on its colors or uniform.