Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Long time, no ASL

I haven't gotten much gaming done in months and I seem to have logged my last wargame in April. Now I got a game in with one of my regular opponents, and he suggested we play either Musket & Pike or ASL, and I gladly jumped at the opportunity to dust off my Advanced Squad Leader rulebook. The last game I played was at Kinkkucon in January and I tend to get a guilty conscience over not using my several hundred euros worth of ASL stuff. 

The scenario we played was S107 Tettau's attack. A simple infantry only scenario set during Market Garden with the Germans attempting to break through the British defense to reach the paradrop area. Considering I hadn't played for a while and my opponent having last played when Squad Leader didn't have the "Advanced" -prefix, there was surprisingly little rules reading during the game.

In the beginning the Germans go for a two-pronged flanking maneuver. The British occupy the village in the center with a Medium Machine Gun emplacement on the top floor of the large building.

The Germans start their advance and suffer casualties in the hail of machine gun fire.

The German group in the woods kill the British group in front of them, reducing the British force by 25% in one roll.

The Germans flanking in the woods at the top are in trouble as their leader is wounded twice and left behind. The groups advancing towards the village have more luck, pushing back some of the defenders.

The Germans attempt a breakthrough at the bottom but the machine gun emplacement keeps them in check despite malfunctioning twice.

The Germans are pushing through in both the top and the bottom of the map. The scenario hangs in the balance.

The British center is in danger of being surrounded and attempt a retreat with poor results

The Germans at the bottom break through, but have little time to reach the table edge.

The British counterattack in the woods at the top, sending the leadership-deprived Germans (they have a wounded 7+2 leader present) into a retreat.

The game is nearing the end. A British squad attempts to intercept the German conscript half-squad and the leader who have a chance of reaching the table edge.

The End. The British chase the Germans who managed to push through and break them.

It was a nice game with some interesting twists and turns.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Baccus 6mm ACW artillery limbers & wagons

Along with the casualty markers I also managed to finish these limbers and wagons. As these are non-essential figures you can do without in a game, they are always on the bottom of the to-do list when preparing for the next game. I've usually been too busy trying to get enough rank and file infantry done to finish flavour figures such as limber teams. I'm happy that I can get rid of those cardboard chits with the word "limbered" on them now.

8 Limbers should be enough for artillery batteries on the move in most scenarios I have the means to access. ACW scenarios usually start with most of the artillery already in place, I think.

This is what the artillery models I have will look like when limbered. I suppose its a reasonable illusion.

Four wagon models to be used as ammo wagons, ambulances or civilian caravans. The castings were crude compared to usual Baccus quality. I think they're old casting and the mold might be deserving of a retirement.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Using masking tape for roads and now streams for 6mm Fire & Fury

In games of Fire & Fury, roads are often the most important terrain feature on the table. Other terrain features give you a +1 to this or -2 to that, but roads triple your movement rate and this is after all, a game about outmaneuvering your opponent. Fire and Fury games are also played on a large area, often with the entire historical battlefield as a playground. This means there will be a lot of roads, meters upon meters of them. This means making the required road system out of scenic road tiles can become quite expensive if you buy them an laborious if you make them yourself. I've found that using your ordinary humble masking tape for the roads is a very good solution to the problem. The tape can be bought to the correct width, and you can easily put down the required road system in minutes. The road stays put during the game without any unsightly sections breaking away, and you can discard the whole thing after use. When used on a static grass mat, masking tape doesn't leave any residual glue stains on the mat, and only pulls out a few strands away. The only downside is that the color isn't quite right for a dirt road.

Here's a couple of pictures of the road systems I've built for my ACW games:

Bull Run. We used a brown artist's pen to make the tape a little more brownish. It worked better in nature than on the photos.
Gettysburg Day 1. You'd need a lot of road sections to cover all those.
A bit of Chickamauga action. Wait, is that a road intersection with a bridge in the middle?
ACW battlefields have another common linear feature, streams. These are also a pain in the buttocks to do properly. I tried making my own river for bull run, but it turned out ugly. For the rest of my games, I've been using the same masking tape I use for roads, only now I use a blue chalk to color it. As you can see in the Chickamauga pic above this text, the effect leaves something to be desired. Which brings me to my discovery yesterday.

Yesterday I was walking in the local supermarket and I found, wonder of wonders, blue masking tape! I don't know if this is something you non-finnish people have had for decades, but I saw this for the first time yesterday and I definitely have been looking for good tape solutions for my road and stream needs. I immediately bought a roll and tried it out.

The tape is made by Scotch and the glue on it is a little bit more sticky than your average masking tape. I became worried that the glue would be too strong and tear away too much of the static grass mat if removed. My fine discovery would be ruined in that case! I put down some regular masking tape and the newfangled blue one on my grassmat and left it for the night.

I also got the opportunity to play with my toy soldiers and make a diorama.
As you can see, the result is a clear blue line everyone recognizes for what it is. A cartoony color, for sure, but historical battles weren't fought over neatly trimmed bright green golf greens either. Quite good for games played with modular terrain which you build once and disassemble after the game.

So, moment of truth. I pulled the tape off the mat this morning to see the damage. The risks I take for the good of the community!

The bits on the right I pressed down hard, the rest is just gently pressed down on the mat. Most of the area the tape covers will not be hard-pressed down, especially if you can train your co-players not to lean on the table. Both tapes take away a bit more hair in the places where much pressure is applied and a little bit where it has been lightly applied. The blue tape takes a bit more than the regular one, I noted, but still nothing to be worried about. As anyone who has used these static grass mats knows, they shed more hair than an alley cat. You'll have to subject the mats to a lot more play than what the average wargamer has time for before these mats show any sign of getting bald on account of these tapes. 

So, I recommend using these tapes for roads and streams in your games if you have a static grass mat to put underneath. I have no idea what the residual damage will be for flocked surfaces or felt mats. I leave experimenting on those for someone else. It seems Scotch makes these tapes also in orange and green. I wonder if the orange tape would look more dirtroad-y than the regular old masking tape?

P.S. I ordered a modular river system from Total Battle Miniatures just a week ago. Good thing I did that before finding this tape, otherwise I might not have splurged on it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Baccus ACW casualty markers

I've had these near completed for a while, but I finally got around to doing them.  I mounted the casualty figures on 40mm washers, smoothed the step effect away with acrylic caulk, glued some sand on and painted them. Now I can add some grim reality to the games, putting down casualties where they occur. I considered painting some blood here and there, but decided against it. It's difficult to do realistic blood in 6mm. I also put some of the smaller Silflor tufts I had here and there, to see if they're appropriate for the scale. I think they work just fine.

"It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we would grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Next up, Antietam

The 150th anniversary of the battle of Antietam is coming up, and we thought we'd do some appropriate gaming on the weekend before the big day. We looked at the Fire & Fury scenario for the northern part of the battlefield where the iconic wheatfield/dunker's church battle took place, and found that it was much too big for our combined collection. Also, it's quite a straightforward meatgrinder by the looks of it. Luckily, there's also a scenario for a lesser known southern part of the battlefield. That scenario is much more manageable in terms of figure stands, and has a more interesting setup.

Here's a map of the action covered from Wikipedia:

The union troops, after taking Burnside's bridge, attempt to capture the heights south of Sharpsburg, and the outnumbered confederates hold on. There will be some reinforcements coming for the confederates, commanded by AP Hill, which give the scenario some flavour and uncertainty.

Terrain-wise we'll have to do some more buildings, as the town of Sharpsburg needs quite a few to look appropriate. One of my opponents will construct a set from the print and play buildings I did for our Bull Run game. Also, getting proper rivers for my gaming table has always been a pain in the ass, and I've never gotten aaround to doing a proper modular river system that would look good. So I thew money at the problem. 70 euros, including p&p bought me about 4 meters worth of river from total battle miniatures. We'll see if they arrive in time to be completed for the game or whether we'll go with blue colored tape again.

The town of Sharpsburg

Maybe this gaming deadline will force me to complete those casualty markers, artillery limbers and wagons I've had on my desk for months. One can always dream!