Tuesday, January 15, 2013

WW2 Normandy demo table and first impressions of Rate of Fire

I've had it on the back of my mind for some years to do a small WW2 table and try out some small actions on it. One of my regular opponents plays Kampfgruppe Normandy (Published by the now dead and buried Warhammer Historical), and the obvious reboot by Kampfgruppe's author, Battlegroup Kursk. Not exactly designed for small actions, those rules. Still, I adopted the model scale from my opponent in hopes of gaining some synergy. 1/72 it is.

My WW2 bug was inflamed by the new Bolt Action rules, which I naturally had to procure. I got the book, read it through and wasn't terribly impressed. They seem fine, but there was something missing. Somehow pinning and machine guns seemed odd. I haven't tried out the rules, so I might be wrong. Anyway, I continued shopping for rules and bumped into Rate of Fire. The rules were available as a cheap PDF so I picked them up. Actually, they're on sale for three british pounds as I write this! I liked the rules. They seem to inherit a lot from Squad leader, without much of the complexity. The act of firing upon moving enemies as opportunity fire feels somewhat like Defensive Fire, there's rules for concealing troops under "?" -markers and so on. The size of the action seemed ok too. The ideal size seems to be a platoon per side, so I thought up a scenario set during the Allied invasion into Normandy between some Germans and US Paratroopers. 

Somewhere in Normandy...
A small stream separates the farm from the 88. Anyone crossing will be easier to hit.
Rate of Fire is recommended for a 6´ x 4´ table, but I made mine a small 3´x 3`, just to get enough space for a small skirmish between an understrengh paratrooper platoon and a larger but less prepared German platoon guarding a Flak 88. I didn't have quite as much time for the table is I hoped, but it came together quickly. Some paint layers are flatter than I wanted, proper hedgerows became trimmed hedges and the roofs of the buildings are textures printed on card. It still came out nicely to draw some attention from the boardgamers at Kinkkucon.

A view from the other side. You can barely tell I cheated on the roofs.
The objective. I was in bit of a hurry to paint this one too. Nothing really but a grey undercoat.
In the scenario, an entrenched German Flak 88 is shooting at allied aircrafts, and a nearby platoon of paratroopers still searching for their company after the jump decide to take it out. The trench has no other troops beside the gun crew, but the nearby farm is occupied by a platoon of German infantry. The first couple of turns are still dark, so LOS and movement speed are restricted. The Paratroopers enter from the table edge opposite from the Germans and the scenario ends when the 88 is taken out or either side breaks.

The paratroopers advance.

The games I played ended in US victory, even though the Germans have the benefit of good defensive terrain. The veteran status of the paratroopers seems to make all the difference when it comes to firing. A bit of tweaking on the scenario is required, but it makes for a good tutorial to those interested in miniature wargames.

A light machine gun provides covering fire from a knoll.
The paratroopers make a daring rush over to the trench, suffering casualties in the process.
A desperate last stand.

The Rate of Fire rules are quick to learn and seem to give plausible outcomes in infantry engagements. You don't want to go rushing into open ground when a stationary enemy is ready to fire, I tell you! I'm sure the concealment rules help bring some uncertainty and paranoia into the game when played on a larger table, but they weren't too useful on a small table like this. I recommend you get a PDF copy of the game, it has excellent value for your money! I picked up the AFV rules for the system as well. It will be interesting to see how tanks alter the equation.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fire & Fury: Cedar Mountain 1862

The main event for our group on this year's Kinkkucon was the Battle of Cedar Mountain played with my 6mm ACW collection. We used the brigade Fire & Fury rules which are well suited for a game of this size. It seems our previous experience (we've gamed 1st Bull Run, a part of Chickamauga, Port Republic, Gettysburg day 1 and Antietam afternoon as bigger games using these rules) has paid off as the game progressed quickly without much need to consult the rules or anything.

I'll leave it to you to read up on the battle in Wikipedia should you be interested in the historical events. The scenario starts on the moment Crawford's union brigade gets the drop on Garnett and the surprise attack threatens to cave in the Confederate line.

Initial dispositions. Winder is about to receive a Union assault, A.P.Hill will arrive to assist and Ewell waits for a practicable moment to attack.

Union side, looking south.

Winder and Jackson are discussing the merits of lemon eating towards eliminating harmful humors when the Union forces commence the proceedings.

Garnett is taken by surprise.

Taliaferro is killed leading his brigade in a futile defence. So is Winder.. and Jackson.

A single brigade is isolated on the Confederate left.

Hill's troops start arriving on the scene, but the Confederate center is in chaos and they have to deploy into line far away from the fighting.

Brigades belonging to A.P.Hill's and Ewell's divisions attack the Union center in hopes of capturing the valuable guns on the other side.

A.P.Hill's advance through the woods is painfully slow. The Union forces give ground in the woods and flank the Confederate brigades in the field.

Despite the enfilade, the Louisiana brigade sends the Union defenders running. A shortage of ammunition plagues the boys in blue!

The entire Union artillery train fixes their guns on the Louisianans. A whopping total of 44 fire points is poured onto the Confederate ranks. a Roll of two results in only one stand being removed. Later, the artillery get another shot during the Louisianans' charge. 50 fire points and a roll of one. Two batteries are added to the tally of Forno's brigade. They truly earned their hardtack that day.

A.P.Hill bolsters the Confederate center. Things seem to settle down.

As darkness sets in, both sides attempt final charges without much effect. Brigades are pushed to and fro a couple of inches.

Final positions looking south. The line has stabilized. Ewell didn't make it into the fight with a majority of his division, as they were held in reserve for most of the game.
The game ended as an overwhelming victory for the Union with a VP difference of 30 points or something thereabouts. The initial Union success with their charge and breakthrough charge really made a difference, especially when they killed all the opposing generals involved! It meant that the historical Confederate counter was stalled because A.P.Hill had to deploy way back in the rear, and the Union forces could hold onto victory locations for quite a while. Still, it was a very entertaining game.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Kinkkucon 2012

I kick off this year's gaming with Kinkkucon 2012. It's a small boardgames convention in my hometown Kuopio, and I've been hosting miniatures games there for several years. Btw, "kinkku" is ham in finnish and the con is so named because finns eat ham on Christmas and Kinkkucon is only two weeks after Christmas. Makes perfect sense.

The small space we have available for the convention got a bit cramped on saturday
A Normandy 44 game in progress.

Anyway, I hosted two games this year. The first was a small 1/72 scale WW2 demo set in Normandy using the Rate of Fire rules:

US Paras try to disable the German 88.
The kids visiting the con gave me a lot of positive feedback on the layout. They also said they had previously played a game called "Warhammer".

The second was a 6mm ACW game of the battle of Cedar Mountain using brigade level Fire and Fury:

I ran out of stands and had to replace some with wooden bases. The good thing was that the brigades on the bottom were not allowed to move for several turns, and the Union forces were happy to make Confederate stands available again.

I'll post a more detailed report on each one soon.

Aside from that, I showed one player how to play Space Hulk and Hammer of the Scots to another. That pretty much took all my time this weekend with some time left over to clean the hobby room and do some recurve bow shooting before my wife and son return home tomorrow.

The war is cut short as Wallace catches up with Edward Longshanks in the third year.
Looks like someone has been making a demo table..

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 hobby summary

It seems we've made it around the sun one more lap without the world ending, so I'll take a quick look at what I did during the past year. It seems like the year went quickly, but my early year blog posts seem ages ago.

For miniatures gaming and modelling I managed to complete and play the following:

The Gettysburg game for last year's Kinkkucon had me busy for the end of 2011 and the first days of new year.
Marauder Miniatures' fantasy giant for Warhammer.

A Chickamauga game. I don't think I painted anything up for this.
Some Battletech Quick-Strike. I should build a demo table for this at some point.
A goblin catapult for Warhammer.

ACW casualty markers.
ACW wagons.

ACW artillery limbers.
Some fences..
A river system.
The afternoon battle at Antietam.
And finally a model Titanic.

I also tested Hail Caesar and got some Baccus 6mm greeks, but I haven't done anything on them since.

This picture was the last time the sons of Athens have seen the light of day.

Apart from miniatures gaming I also got a fair bit of boardgaming done. I was especially happy witht he amount of Musket & Pike games I played.

During 2012 I also took up archery and oh.. had a son, so I think I got a lot done all things considered.

Ok, so what's in the pipeline for 2013? The first stuff will be for Kinkkucon, which is on.. friday this week. I'll try and have a small demo table for 1/72 WW2 skirmish done. After that, who knows? I think I'll try and get those greeks painted this year, and I still have some ACW figures I should paint to complete my set. I also have a few dozen Germans and US paratroopers in 1/72. I think those will keep me happy for the first half of the year at least. Let's hope I don't see anything shiny that'll distract me to a new period!