Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Albedo Combat Patrol 164 - The Jika Campaign



In an inspired way to keep us all busy during the Lockdown Mike Wilson over at ACP164 has decided to run an ACP164 campaign. Eight of us are signed up, 4 per side, I'm playing EDF (mostly non-rabbits). The two sides are fighting for control of the erbium mines on the remote planet of Jika.


The neat thing is that whilst the weekly campaign turns are being run collaboratively (lots of Facebook Messenger), any combats that result will be played out as two solo games, one by each side, with the campaign result being based on the combined/average result of the two.

I'm mindful of OpSec so won't post any more details here until I'm sure that facts are known to both sides. But expect lots of combat AARs from this excellent system.

I've also ordered up some ILR (rabbit) reinforcements from Sally4th so as to have a balanced set of figures for the solo games.

You can see my review of ACP164 at https://newconverj.blogspot.com/2018/10/skirmish-rules-testing-part-7-albedo.html and games since then at https://newconverj.blogspot.com/search/label/albedo.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

20mm WOTR Billmen


First proper troops of the Lockdown - a unit of Billmen for my WOTR armies. These are in the livery of Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk - one of the 50pt Kingmaker affinities. One of the long term aims is to have a force scaled to Kingmaker points so I can use it as a campaign system - we'll see. Figures are 20mm Tumbling Dice.



Friday, 27 March 2020

20mm French Napoleonic Carabiners and Empress Dragoons


Slow going but finally got to the end of my "elite" French Cavalry. I've got these in VERY old Airfix (Cuirassier conversions) but thought I ought to have a decent set for Waterloo next year. Figures are Newline 20mm.

Empress Dragoons

1st Carabiners

1st Carabiners

1st Carabiners on L, 2nd Carabiners on R

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Platoon Mega Playtest: Part 6 - Force on Force



Presentation

224pp glossy hardback from Osprey. pretty well laid out, lots of Osprey and other pics, and QRS sheets at the end.

Set-Up

Scenario 3, Attack on the Hauptkampflinie again, British with the extra section. Force on Force is of course a modern set, but most stats are abstract and very general. However I decided to count Firepower as only 1/2pt per figure rather than 1 as the baseline weapon is a higher ROF than the SLR. Troops initially counted as regular, but shifted to Veteran after Turn 2 (see below).

How It Played

Slightly broader attack this time with No. 1 Section supported by the Cromwell crossing the open ground of the N flank, No. 2 Section through the garden in the centre and No. 3 Section through the woods. In the N the Panzer IV took one shot at the Cromwell and brewed it up.  German fire from the farm against No.1 Section was suprisingly ineffective. No. 3 section walked into the MG42 ambush again - but lost no-one (~60m range!). They charged and the MG42 wisely fled back to its main body. A firefight then ensued between No.3 Section and 3. Gruppen, with both sides steadily losing men, but consistently passing morale tests. No.2 Section meanwhile pushed through the garden, got the better of the firefight with 2. Gruppen, its last man fleeing. No. 2 Section then charged the flank of 3. Gruppen and in a bitter melee which went on for several rounds eventually got the upper hand and eliminated the Gruppen - with only 4 of its own men remaining. With two Gruppen gone ENDEX was called.

The Cromwell brews for a change!

Rules Impression

It's probably 5 or 6 years since I played Force On Force (actually may be 2011/2012 if I played them when they came out!), and I must admit they were worse than I remember.

Good points:
  • Unlimited range, but bonus for <~100m
  • Rules for pretty much everything, inc on-table 2" smoke
  • Good ideas for asymmetric and casualty stuff for modern play (but not used here)
  • Every fire becomes an exchange of fire between both sides (well sort of good, see below)
  • No limit on firing per turn, but each at reduced effect - so given above far more interaction between units than usual
Bad Points:
  • Masses of Dice! For a firefight one side is rolling typically 5-10 dice to hit, opponent is ALSO rolling 5-10 dice, and then Risk style you have match numbers (any 4+) off to see who wins. Then if there's a kill the defender has to roll another 5-10 dice for a morale check - so possibly 15-30 dice for 1 dead figure! I started on D8 (as regular), but having only 2 of them switched to D10 (of which I have about 10) to make things easier. This may queer some of the results below.
  • Little friction, its alternate unit activation, with a reaction test if you want to fire or melee, but no-one every failed it.
  • No one ever failed a morale test, so units never got pinned, let alone fell back from fire or fled a melee!
  • Not a great fan of multiple dice types, could just about stick them if I side stuck to one type, but these rules also have dice  type shifts.

Overall

Just not for me. A few nice ideas on the ultramodern front which could be imported to other games, but wouldn't use as a core set. Lowest score so far, 5/10.

Friday, 20 March 2020

French Corps moves to Home Counties to counter CORVID19!


Whilst adjusting to COVID19 and looking after Canadian refugees (OK my sister-in-law and her husband) has put the Megatest on hold for a week (back to normal hopefully next week assuming they make the last Canadian flight out of the UK!) Nick and I have decided the time is ripe to try our hand at remote wargaming.

So last night I boxed up about a Corps of French to take down this weekend (checking on my mum) and swop for some boxes of British Infantry, so that we'll both have about a Corps of French and British. We both have enough Hexon for a table, so we should be able to lay out two mirror tables and then use the Hexon grid and our SLS rules to easily play a game over Skype/Whatsapp - we'll see. I've put in a wifi range extender to up the wifi coverage in the dining room to support it.

I'm also taking down a flotilla of British and German WW2 ships so we can try the same thing on Naval, and I have the penultimate encounter from our 100 Days campaign set up on Roll20 so we may give that a go as a platform too.

When life gives you lemons make lemonade as they say!



Monday, 9 March 2020

West Midlands Military Show 2020


Good morning at the West Midlands Military Show yesterday. Missed it last year, and year before that was snow hit and pretty empty, so good to see it in full flight yesterday [Update: Ironically it was probably one of the last wargames shows of 2020 before the virus hit!], although I had to squeeze it into the hectic weekend of the Seventh Wave Festival of Electronic Music in Birmingham, in which I say about 15 acts and 3 present/ex members of Tangerine Dream!

My personal haul was mainly 10mm housing and scenery from Pendraken. Newline were there, which I wasn't expecting and so hadn't got  a list ready, and I'd just put an order into Tumbling Dice. Some nice games though, and I think my "standard" wargames table is now almost better than most of the non dedicated base-board games there - really must see about a game slot in 2021 or 2022.

Here are the photos, sorry I can't remember what or who (writing this 2 weeks later at the start of the lock-down).



Two shots of an attack on Hougoumont. Nice looking table with the Hovel Hougoumont model.

Lovely Battle of the Bulge table

Nicely busy WW2 table terrain wise, troops a bit dense though, and 25pdr in IDF on table :-(

Starting a crusade to ensure that all river and road sections are properly joined!

Nice D-Day being played with Blitzkrieg Commander ( think). Nice and empty off the beach

Lovely Home Guard street scene

More of same

Something a bit more period off in the Peninsula, nice river

Long shot of same, lovely table

Like the terrain cloth


Couple of shots of a lovely desert war table

Friday, 6 March 2020

Platoon Mega Playtest: Part 5 - UltraCombat


Presentation

UltraCombat was a Kickstarter last year and backers have had several releases of the PDF versions of the rules. Latest copy is full-colour facsimile of the hard copy version which is due imminently. Nice looking, lots of good DoD and wargame photos. One potential issue is that rules cover 3 "scales" - platoon, section and fireteam, so the rule book has 3, almost identical, sets of rules in it! It is of course related to UltraCombat:Normandy (which may have made more sense for this test but I don't own a copy), and by DishDash Games who did Skirmish Sangin.

Set-Up

Onto Scenario 3 of TFL's Op Martlet, entitled Attack on the Hauptkampflinie. The British now benefit from an extra section. UltraCombat is of course a modern set, but most stats are abstract so I could make a reasonable stab at WW2 versions.

The British Advance under way

Given how open the Left Flank is, the Brits decided to put all 4 sections R of the road, 2 up, 2 back, wit Cromwell to support as required, and the 6pdr covering the road and open ground. The Germans put one Gruppen in the farm, and the other two opposite the British R flank.

How It Played

The British 2 Section (extreme R) tried to push forward but got pinned by the forward German MG42 and more or less failed to move for the rest of the game, bottle gone. The Cromwell tried to lend a hand but didn't achieve much, so No. 4 Section had to push through and took out the MG42, but then got pinned by the interlocked fire from the rest of the German 3. Gruppen.

Face off between No. 43 Section and 3. Gruppen. 2. Gruppen taking casualties.


The Pz Kfz IV was lured out by the Cromwell threatening the MG42, but it had hardly broken cover to advance across the open ground on the L flank when a first shot from the 6pdr took it out! The Cromwell was now free to cross over to the L flank and bring down fire on the MG42 sqaud in the farmhouse who were harrassing Nos. 1 and 3 sections who were trying to press forward in the centre.

The Cromwell supports No. 3 Section as they advance into the gloom!


No.1 Section made if through the gardens and had a firefight with the German 2. Gruppen which they won admirably and then charged into melee, taking fire from the Gruppen and the MG42 but they got into contact and eliminated the Gruppen. With the Cromwell neutralising the MG42 No. 1 Section (undamaged) was free to turn S and assault into the flank of 3. Gruppen, who they destroyed for minimal loss.

The farmyard, and Panzer IV just before the 6pdr struck!


With 2 Gruppen dead, the third MG42 gone, and the Panzer it was game over. A decisive British victory.

Rules Impression

It may have been working from a PDF, and not helped by the 3-in-1 concept, but I really struggled with these rules. Of course this may be due to not reading things right, and another playthrough with hard copy and watching/reading some more about them may help clarify things, but issues I encountered were:
  • There is zero friction, you just choose who you want next, have a dice-off with the opponent, and then as long as there is no morale off they go
  • There appears to be an infinite opportunity to interrupt. Some words elsewhere suggest that when a unit interrupts its card is counted as "played" but that is not clearly stated in the interrupt rules
  • Spot and Fire methods were fine, as were DMs, but almost any hit stops a unit as they get a minimum of Hesitate. Hence units sticking still for so long in the game.
  • Defender fire against assaulting unit not clear - inherent or counted as interrupt or none?
  • Couldn't actually find a rule for moving vehicles! The Armour rules are a separate section after the 3 rule sets, so spent whole time going form front to back of book.
  • Couldn't find direct fire HE rules, e.g. against buildings
  • Only smoke seems to be some grenades
  • Layout of rules often confusing, e.g. initiative and turn sequence under combat, 2-3 pages after Action Points
  • Not clear how many die tank guns roll for AT (esp when a LAW rolls 8!)
  • The Hestitate/Pinned/Suppressed markers/states just seemed confusing, remembering what did what and finding that Suppressed units get no -DM in combat!
I'm sure I'd find answers to some of these if I hunted on the forums, but I shouldn't need to, clear enough in other rules. The unit cards are a nice idea, but as I keep finding a summary sheet of A4 with all the details is often easier - still good for activation though.

Whole game was only 3 turns too!

No.1 Section secure their 2nd objective

Overall

I want to like these, I liked some of the ideas of Skirmish Sangin, and wanted a "simpler" version, but whilst the guts of a simpler game are here I think there are a fair few things that just seem to needlessly complicate it - both in layout and methods. I did have the chance to playtest but frustratingly I didn't have time to contribute at the time, although I did do some proof-reading, a missed opportunity? Will give another go and with a modern setting once the hardcopy figure rules and figures come through. A disappointing 6/10.