Thursday, 10 May 2018

20mm ECW Cavalry

My first completed 20mm metal ECW unit using some nice figures from Tumbling Dice. Have also painted the Shot for a foot unit, but only now doing the Pike. Writing the book wiped out most of April from a painting/gaming perspective, but with that now at the publishers there's time to paint again (although still not much space to play...)

Friday, 20 April 2018

A 3D/VR Virtual Table Top/Wargames Room

As mentioned in the last post my physical space for gaming has taken a dive for a month or so, and that proved to be the kick I needed to look at a 3D/VR virtual table top or virtual wargaming room. It's a project that's been in the offing for ages, ever since my Second Life days. I've used on-line 2D tools to do tabletop map movement (but not graduated yet to Roll20), but I want something that really feels like I'm using a physical tabletop.

Now it just so happens that in the day job we've created something called Fieldscapes -, a 3D/VR authoring tool for learning and training, so I decided to see if I could press this into service as a 3D/VR VTT.

Initially I made a virtual, modular, Hexon table in Unity, along with some suitably sized (10 & 20cm frontage) blocks, brought them into Fieldscapes, laid them out and dropped in. And yes, I could pick up a block with the hand controller and move it on the table!

So I next made/bought/rescaled some simple terrain pieces (woods, hills, bridge, houses), and found a nice simple 3D "quality street" type soldier and cavalry man that I could shrink down to about 20mm and base up. In these came, and not only could I move them but just as in real life I could crouch down by the table top to look at them more closely.

On the next iteration I added some shelves to put example soldiers on (so no need to crouch), added separate tables for Horse & Musket and WW2 (found something to use as ~ 1/32nd tanks and men), and also created two map tables (using Google Maps images), and one table with a 3D sculpted terrain. I also put in a web browser screen so you can bring rules up in world!

In theory all these bits are multi-user, so someone else should be able to come in world and play with them with me - that's the next test! Then after that we see if we can scale up to a reasonable force on the table.

There is no doubt it seems a very real experience (right down to now having a floor littered with discarded soldier - and some just hanging in space!), but there is also no doubt that I wouldn't want to wear the current generation of VR headsets for a 1 hr+ gaming session. But things will evolve.

Finally, here's a current long shot of the room. I'm currently camped out in our Daden Campus building, but may get something a bit grander in due course!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Rommel Test Game - STARTEX

Been a bit quiet here of late what with work, a book deadline on 30 April and various domestic issues which have seen my physical space for wargaming shrink a bit (hence smaller table above!)

But I have now got the Rommel introductory adventure of Op Brevity underway. Allies attacking from bottom, with objectives being the two oases and the port. The Axis have low grade Italians deployed forward, a German Kampfgruppe on the back line, and another due to come on at Turn 8.

In the first "turn" (i.e Allied then Axis turn) the Brits pushed an armoured thrust into the desert on the R flank, the Germans came out to meet them, but the Brits came off the better and the German's bounced off with the higher casualties.

In right-centre there was a British infantry assault against the Italians on the hills. It failed but at lest one Italian unit only has 1 HP left.

On the right the coastal force engaged the Italians forward of the port. Again Italians damaged but not eliminated.

End of Turn 2
Impressions so far ... not wonderful I'm afraid. The use of the Ops Dice and the range of Events and Tactics make it quite Saga like, you seem to spend more time worrying about dice allocation decisions and choosing a tactic to use than you do actually playing a "real" tactic on the table. Also the fact that tactics should be simultaneously revealed makes it not ideal for solo play.

In terms of game tactics you really need overwhelming force so you can eliminate a unit in one go, and that needs a combination of multiple units, ideally a flank attack, and the deployment of some good Ops Dice tactics. So it may become a case of orchestrating a set-piece or two each turn - which in some way may not be too unrealistic. We'll see.

Ops boards at the end of Turn 2. Whether to reset and draw 3, or just draw 6 but have filled tactics I can see being a big decision.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

IABSM Test Game: Turns 18 - 23 ENDEX

View from 3 Pl. 1Pl attacking from right to left

Well that ended quickly. 3Pl provided a mediocre fire-base as they couldn't really see the target - certainly not after the smoke went down. 1Pl started moving though the open orchard but started taking casualties from the German Zug. 3 Pl started laying smoke late, but the wind was pushing it back towards 3Pl, so they couldn't adjust well to cover the rear of the building (off image to left above).

1 Pl (centre top) raked by fire on leaving the orchard by Germans at upper left

As a result as 1Pl emerged they were due to edge of table too much in line with the German defence (especially as the reserve Gruppe had moved to close the back-door), and not obscured by the smoke. In one round the reserve Gruppe inflicted 3 hits on each unit, which added to the 3 they already had reduced each section to 2 men, and so no longer effective. With only 3Pl left, and that a bit battered, and the German Zug more or less untouched and in a strong defensive position the Company Commander decided to call it a day. Game over.

Overall not bad. Quite a realistic result, I remember being taught that a good MG position is a Platoon attack target, the Germans had 2 of them, plus the two platoons which are each Coy attack targets, so trying to do this with one unreinforced company was always going to be a tall order!

What I liked about IASBM:

  • The blinds - but is the CoC patrol phase better?
  • The very simple modifiers
  • Spotting
  • The mortar and smoke mechanism
  • The variable movement
  • The tea break card
  • Card based activation
  • Bucket of dice - becoming a convert
And playing at 1:1 figure to ground scale. But 6mm is just too small for 1:1 men, and looking forward to using the new 10mm figures and happy to have only a ~2:1 error ratio.

What I liked less:

  • Suppression seemed secondary to damage, not the other way around
  • Shock and damage didn't seem to achieve much different, in this game damage dominated
  • Big Men rarely got the change to use their range of actions (since a small game?)
  • Not sure that every Pl needs a Big Man, if the Pl activates as a unit anyway - gets confusing
  • The damage table - you have to look everything up

I think overall CWC/BKC is closer to what I want, but neither is ideal so may be back to writing my onw, but more influenced by IABSM/CWC than WRG!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

IABSM Test Game - Turns 13- 17

The British attack finally goes in. 3 Pl is providing the smoke and firebase, everyone else is going right flank, bags of smoke, with 2 Pl left and 1 Pl right.

2Pl realise too late that making a full 2-3 activation move to reach the enemy will lose them dice in the melee, so they stop short in the smoke to await the next turn. 1 Pl has swung nicely wide and sends 2 & 3 Sections against the Gruppe lining the hedge ( a flank guard recently moved up), whilst 1 Section goes in against the rear of the dug-in  MG42.

2 & 3 Sections get surprisingly bounced, but inflict a fair amount of damage. A Sect also has a tough time and takes 2 rounds to get the MG42 team (well 1 man) to retreat.

Next turn 2Pl finally goes in, and again take a lot of damage from assaulting the emplaced infantry head on. 2 & 3 Sections are going against the Gruppe lining the hedge, and 1 Section against the weak Gruppe in the house.

1 Section gets bounced - unsurprisingly, but 2 & 3 manage to secure their objective and the German Gruppe is reduce to 1 man, pulls back, and loses it's Big Man.

In the next turn the smoke finally clears.

2 Pl activates first and sends 2 Sect left against the building and 3 Sect right against 1 Pl's opponent. Despite their losses 3 Sect wins out, but 2 Sect is repulsed - although only one man is left in the building (and only 1 shock so OK!). 3 Pl then activates it and pours in all its firepower, which ends up being far more effective than earlier in the game (was I doing something wrong?) and kills the brave bloke!

1 Pl and 2/3 Sections recover in the Orchard whilst 3 Sect/2Pl finishes their work, right

The 3Pl firebase and target house

A quick regroup and then its time to turn the British focus on the 2nd German Zug, still on a blind in the other house the other side of the T junction. 1 Pl is just about battleworthy (2 men down per section, so only 2 activations each). 2Pl has lost one section and has quite 2 weakened, so they'll join with 3 Pl (which has lost 1/2 section) to provide the firebase. It might be nice to swop 1 & 3 but 1 is in a better position to go right flanking and get right behind any German emplacements. 2Pl can also provide 3Pl with its smoke for the screen.

The next objective - the remaining German Zug, still on blind!

Overall this phase went quite nicely. Juggling men lost and shock seems a pain at times for no real benefit. Also I ended up with quite a few units at 2-3 men, so that meant they had no actions, so could only sit and be assaulted - so I decided to just remove them from the table if they weren't in a good defensive position. I also forgot about the 2" mortar rapid HE fire in the assault - I think that might be needed as its now a pretty even match for the last fight and the Germans can hole up in the buildings if they want. Could be a close run thing which is about right given the ratios.

Aim to finish this week so I can clear the decks for Easter and Rommel.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

6mm North Africa force for Rommel complete

I've finally completed my 6mm North Africa force for Sam Mustafa's Rommel, and most of the scenery. Just the coast lines and hills to go, and to draw up the 15cm squares on the cloth! Should be ready to play after Easter.

The larger town - 1/1000th to better match the ground scale

8th Army infantry - note the knees!

Another view of the town

Afrika Korps infantry

Monday, 19 March 2018

West Midlands Military Show - WMMS 2018

Braved the snow for my annual trip to WMMS - my local wargame show - at the weekend. The overnight snow-fall (c.2-3") had a big impact, and I'd estimate about 25% of traders and 50% of demo games didn't make it. On the plus side it was the fastest drive I ever had there as once I was off our road and onto the city B roads and then the M6/M54 the roads were clear and the traffic light! And the car park was actually usable (rather than having tens of soccer teams in and playing).

It must have been a tough call for the organisers, but I think they made the right one. And all the traders I spoke to thought it had still been worth the trip. So thanks to everyone for making the effort!

The main traders I did make it, Pendragon, Magister Militum and Tumbling Dice, so that was good.

From TD I bought my first batch of metal 20mm ECW. They look good alongside the plastics (if headless!), and nice figures with separate and multiple heads, so I'll be buying and painting up 6-12 units this year (flash not removed yet!).

I'd planned to get some trial medieval 20mm from MM, but they weren't carrying any on the stall, and it sounds like an old range. But TD did 20mm WOTR (which I'd missed), and they looked really nice. Didn't buy any but I think it's where I'll start in the next couple of months.

I'd also planned to get some trial 10mm WW2, but Pendraken only had big unit packs. But MM had smaller packs and nice looking figures so bought some of those. They'll fit OK with my existing 6mm scenery (and I usually used buildings one scale down anyway), so I can see myself doing a Coy or even Bn of WW2 North West Europe next year, and using those instead of the 6mm I'm currently using for IABSM and BKC.

10mm Magister Militum figures with 6mm building (Baccus?)

Other purchases included:

  • A couple of nice small stone buildings (grottos) for use as objectives (MM again)
  • Some 10mm haystacks from Pendragon for 6mm objectives
  • A deviation dice
  • Daniel Mersey's Wargamer's Guide to the Desert War
I probably bought less than planned, but more ECW figures!

As I said there were a lot of empty wargames tables, so slim pickings in terms of games to dwell on. The ones that caught my eye were :

  • A nice Wars of Religion game from the Wyre Forest Wargamers using "Twilight of the Sun King: Birth of the Age of Reason" - they have an ECW version coming!
  • A nice 10mm Lace Wars game by the same group (pics below)
  • A nice 12mm Crusade era game using Hexon terrain and Hordes and Heroes rules - nice scale 12mm (pics below)
  • The card driven Napoleonic game (NapPoker or something?)

It did strike me that 10mm/12mm was around in far more profusion than normal - just easier to cart through a snow-storm? My brother is heavily into 10mm, and I can increasingly see its merits, but having just finished as shed-load of 6mm I'm not about to redo them! But the 10mm WW2 will be a start. Perhaps I should have (should?) decide to go metric and standardise on 10mm/20mm/30mm!

Some nice MM 10mm Napoleonics....

All in all well worth the trip over, and again thanks to everyone who turned up and made it happen.