Tuesday, 26 June 2018


Work colleague using OculusGo

OculusGo came out today. We got our last week to play with and certainly impressed - most usable VR option so far - but miss 6 DOF (Degrees of Freedom - i.e. ability to move laterally). Will see how well it works with my 3D/VR VTT concept - probably not well without 6DOF!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Battle of Hopton Heath v3!

Finally played the 3rd version of Hopton Heath - this time with the non-BOD version of my SLS based ECW rules. It certainly played slightly differently to the other two, it went on a bit longer, units lingered spent rather than disappearing, and all in all I felt worked the best of the lot. The overall shape was pretty similar though:

  • On the Royalist left the dragoons seized the enclosures, pushed the Parliamentarians spent into the rear enclosure and positioned themselves to bring flanking fire on the Parl' cavalry - only time this was achieved
  • On the R flank, the Roundheads beat the Royalist dragoons, and threatened the Royalist runs until the cavalry came to scare them off
  • The cavalry conflicts typically separated after 2 turns with blown horses, neither side having enough of a benefit to beat the other - it was 1 on 1 after all. Also cases of refusing to charge.
  • Artillery fire caused damage, but no excessive
  • The cavalry charging through the warren suffered form both that and first fire which stopped them in their tracks. They tried to walk in and if the infantry had had the sense to go hedgehog then the cav would have run off spent, as it was the cav, reasonably, managed to get in to hack the infantry sleeves, but it was a close run thing.

So I think I'll abandon the BOD mode, but I will play Hordes again on my next Medieval outing to refresh myself on what I liked about it before deciding to stick with that or write my own - and of course I will try a few other rule sets - such as Bloody Barons that I bought a while ago.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

20mm Sabot Bases - Production Line Mode!

Getting ready for the second day of the Battle of Sombreffe in a week's time. This should be the last battle in our Blucher 100 Days Campaign, with me taking over the French after Alan sadly failed his final real-life save roll a few months ago.

I've been gradually working up a sabot design for my 20mm Napoleonics, with an extra deep back bar to take any labels (custom cut by Jim at ProductsForWargamers). For the first big batch the Cavalry were fine, but the Infantry were still a bit shallow (all the flock on my bases adds 5mm when three deep!), so I've had to manually cut off the backs, move them back, restick them and fill in the gaps!

I've now spray painted the lot of them (some ace cheap spray from the local Cass Arts shop - half the price of GW/Humbrol) - and that's about 2/3 of the Inf drying out, and have about half that number of Cavalry ones. Next job is to flock found the edges. The base labels are all lined up on the Excel sheet, so all should be ready in time for the game. Just need to clear the dining room.....

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Battle of Leipzig - 20mm Mega-Game

I was lucky enough to take part in a 20mm battle of Leipzig mega-game staged by Francis Long (of the Napoleonics 20/20 blog) with about 20 players drawn largely from around Reading and the South East and ably umpired by Francis and Tony.

There were around 7000 figures on a three tables, each about 6ft x 24ft, arranged as a horseshoe to cover the N, W and E side of the battle, with Leipzig itself being conveniently the gap in the middle. Elements were battalions more or less representing brigades. The wargame covered only the first day of the battle (16th Oct 1813) whilst things were still quiet open.

The area around Markleeburg

Francis has done a detailed AAR on his blog so I'll confine myself to what I was involved in.

I started out as Oudinot with a Bde of YG under my command, but off table in reserve on the Southern sector. Given the mass of Allies to our front, and the relatively long reserve deployment times it was agreed to pull Oudinot and a Bde of Lt Cavalry onto the S table asap. I arrived Turn 3, between Liebertvolkwitz and Wachau, behind the Galgenberg. Our merry team on the S consisted of Marc on the extreme E holding off the Austrian hoards, Bill (who I've played with for years now at Liphook) defending Liebertvolkwitz , myself, Adrian also coming from reserve to defend Wachau, and Mike and Bob covering from Wachau to Markleeburg.

With battles raging either side of me my first big threat came when Russian Guard Cuirassier (under Mark, who was my opponent for most of the game) came out to try and clear their front. I gallantly sent my lancers and hussars against them, and luckily Francis' rules don't differentiate between lights and heavies too much (just +2 for Guard) so I was able to exchange my lights for his Guard heavies. That then left a bit of a gap so my horse batter came out to play and raked enfilade fire on the Prussians attacking Wachau and helping to relieve the pressure on our defenders who struggled all game to keep the village. By nightfall we still held the key villages, with only Liebertvolkwitz not being hard-pressed, but in the dim light of dusk we saw a Brigade of the Pavlovian Grenadiers and then a Brigade of Austrians line up against us - it was going to be a tough second half.

The Northern Sector
The next day, the sun rose and the Austrians had miraculously been moved all the way out to our far L. The lines were redressed and we still faced the Pavlovians, some more guard heavy horse and a row of batteries on the ridgeline. We started with a few turns of counter-battery, with my Young Guard battery firing over 5 turns and never hitting a thing, although the foot battery next to it, rolled with the same dice, hit every turn. Then it was time for the cavalry to get to grips again, and I now had two Brigades of Guard cavalry, and a series of charges and counter-charges, backed up by some artillery fire, eventually cleared his cavalry away. Nicely all of the cavalry action meant that the Pavlov Grenadiers had to stay in squares, and by the time the melees were over I could still keep them there with my cavalry whilst my horse guns moved up to pound them. Since it was obvious that I was unlikely to face a heavy infantry assault from those boxed up mitres my Young Guard moved R to help defend Wachau.

Looking W over my sector, Wachau in middle distance
As the game drew to a close we ran out of time to really exploit the gap in the centre. The Pavlovs were taking damage each turn, and there was even a gap behind them where my cavalry could swing round the Prussian rear. I'd also handed one Cavalry Brigade off to Bill to help delay the Advancing Austrians on the L flank.

My Horse Battery delivering enfilade fire
Overall a great game, and very genial allies and opponents. The figures and terrain were wonderful, and I hadn't realised how many people were still playing 20mm Napoleonics - great news! The rules were well, far better than the Liphook ones and far more suited to this sort of big game. There were a few things I'd disagree with, but that's always the way, but at least they were quick, led to few debates, and seemed to give mostly realistic results.

The allies assault Liebertvolkwitz

The whole day was graciously hosted by Francis, and everyone was a delight to play with, so a great weekend, and one it would be great to repeat - and the French victory was well-deserved!

Francis and Marc mid-game

Friday, 8 June 2018

Hopton Heath #2 - My Bucket-of-Dice Rules

Every back to their starting places...

Now to play through the scenario again, using the "bucket-of-dice" version of my nascent ECW rules. I tried the BOD approach with my medieval rules after Agincourt last year so thought I'd try them out here. Card based activation and my custom ECW cards all laid out.

A similar Dragoon - on - Dragoon battle on the flanks as before. The opening salvos quite lethal but then with dice lost for open order (firer and tgt) and soft cover (-'ve for Royalists) settle down in Turns 2 and 3. Units can take ~5 hits before breaking, most Dragoons have now taken 3.

The parliamentary foot is again being battered by Roaring Meg (well in fact meg keeps missing and its the light gun which is scoring the hits!)

Left (Royaist) flank with the Roundheads in the enclosures. Every unit dices for Troop Quality ONLY when they first need to know it. A good smattering from +2 to -2 with most at 0 as expected.

Not hanging around so the Royalist charge (gallop) forward to meet the advancing (Trotting) Roundheads - and no mistakes about column! The Roundheads have a TQ of -2 so unsurprising they get routed by the Royalists. The victors roll for the follow-on and get advance but not pursue and so gallop into a risky spot in the midst of the Parlimentarian units before they run out of puff.

Actually feeling less keen on the BOD model as it does give big swings each turn, may go back to my custom D8 - but actually the +/- die I picked up at Games Expo are working very well for determining Troop Quality so I may use those. Will run this game to conclusion and then try with the "old" ECW set - I think with this few DMs the BOD approach is maybe superfluous.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Battle of Hopton Heath - 1643 - ENDEX and AAR

Hopton Heath came to an end at Turn 7 with a decisive Parliamentarian victory.

Frustrated by the delays in the Dragoons clearing the enclosures Turns 3 and 4 saw the Royalists send one Regiment of Horse against the Royalist cavalry, and another against the infantry - straight over the poor bunnies! The Royalists caught the Roundheads in column, so the defenders only got 1D (cf 8D for the attackers), so it was a bit of a blood bath. Interestingly though there are no rules  for victors to get drawn off the board when in pursuit, and the attackers suffered no damage or disorder at all - so just reformed back off the ridge. The cavalry attacking the infantry had a tougher time. The rough ground caused no negatives at all (just relates to movement), and the receiving shot delivered a punishing closing fire. They elected not to go into hedgehog in order to get the shots off, so it became 1 Cav unit vs 1 Pike and 1 Shot - but there didn't seem to be rules for such mixed melee i.e. apply the +'ve DMS for one and -'ve for the other. I took what I think was a sensible course and the cavalry was soon routed.

Turn 5 and 6 still saw no progress on the Dragoons, but each Parliamentary unit was now Shaken, but the Roundheads only had 2 damage each. Roaring Meg continued to punish the Parliamentary line, eventually routing the right shot unit. In return the Roundhead gun put some more damage on one of the two remaining Royalist cavalry units, and put it into disorder. This was crucial as it then couldn't change into line, so Parliament was able to do a double move with its remaining cavalry unit and rout the Royalists (again with the 8D:1D ration but advantages switched). To put the final nail in the Royalist coffin their right flank Dragoons were finally routed by the stiff fire from their Parliamentary opponents. The Shot reinforcement has also just arrived on the Parliamentary side - but too late to join the battle.

Chasing off the Royalist cavalry

The Royalist dragoons break

The final positions

So, not a bad game, and Pike & Shotte certainly plays quickly and simply. However I do have a few reservations about them in terms of how I like to play:

  • Musket fire is far too long
  • There is no progressive degradation
  • There is no danger or chasing off, always a key ECW feature, and victor has complete control post-melee (not even Quarrie had that!)
  • Pike and Shot as separate units
  • Artillery seems too effective
The bucket-of-dice works fine, and will be interesting to see how the  BOD version of my own rule stacks up which I'll use to replay this scenario over the next week.

Looking at Hail Caesar and Black Powder (thanks to the recent free PDF deal) all three sets are pretty much the same mechanics throughout, and musket has a range of 18" in BP (against move of 12" for Inf, 18" for Cav, 9-12" line frontage, and Horse Arty range of 36") - so it gives me a good idea of how that must play. So not my ideal, but I can certainly see it as being pretty playable.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Games Expo 2018

Not for want of trying but I haven't been to Games Expo since it moved off the Hagley Road probably 5-6 years ago. But this year I finally got there, and boy has it grown!

As well as the big trade hall there was also at least 1/2 a hall for competition games, and a great bring and buy.

The British Historical Wargames Society had a competition going on, most Art de l'Guerre by the looks of it with some huge ancient & medieval armies in 6mm. Pity about the blue cloths though!

There was also a hug X-Wing championship going on, and by the end when it was down to just a few tables there were big crowds and sporting "whoops" around all the final games.

The main thing about Games Expo though is always for me trying out new games. There was a neat "playtest corner" full of short games in development that you could try out where the authors were after specific feedback. I tried one game out there, a card game based around skateboard tricks - slick mechanics, easy to play. In touring the stands I also tried a very good robot game, Robot Royale which starts on Kickstarter this week, and was very simple but needed a lot of thought and played out in about 15 mins -  so exactly my kind of game! I'll post the link once its up as I'll certainly be buying a copy.

In terms of trends - lots of games with "oversized" pieces - a whole forest in one! Lots of brand extension - eg Westeros Catan, lots of miniatures with "tabletop gaming" a real thing, some nice 3D printing of pieces, some good kids games. Overall a great mix.

In terms of my loot, very limited, but was deliberately trying to avoid buying any big boxed games as I know I don't really have the time and have two at home (Thunderbirds and Traveller Crad Game) still to play when Jo get's home. But this is what I got:

A 2' x 2' one-inch generic mat for modern and SF skirmish.

The Traveller Mindjammer setting book. Not aware of Mindjammer but interested in SF-RPG takes on transhumanism and talks about rules to adventure in the "Mindscape" caught my eye.

Worth the trip for this as far as I'm concerned - the only real gap in my Traveller Alien Module collection (not too concerned about Darrians!), and last time I saw one and failed to buy it (as they had lots else I did buy ) was about 6 years ago in Vancouver!

Plus that Kickstarter....

So overall a great show, and will still plan to go every year (even if I only make 1 in 5!)