Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Preparing for BAOR 1988

When I started to resurrect my 1/300th Cold War Gone War wargaming a few years ago I was keen to have some sort of campaign game to give context to any battles. I then discovered that SPI did a BAOR game (I have their Next War, but that has Div/Bde units and ~10-20km hexes, and I wanted Bn's and ~2-3 km hexes (ie a table) - which is what BAOR has.

I set up a eBay search on BAOR and kept my eye out at shows but to no avail. I managed to find hi-rez scans of the map and counters, and a copy of the rules. I was on the verge of getting the map printed at A1 when I found a copy of the game (less the magasine and the glorious cover above :-( ) on eBay, so now have the proper map.

Of course being me I wasnt happy with the rest of the game. The counters were more like 1983/84, whereas I wanted 87/88 - when I was in BAOR. Also the rules, whilst they used Fatigue for partial damage,  use the standard ratio based CRT of almost all SPIs types games. I can't say I get along with this model, as every game SPI I've ever played comes down to getting enough points together to just make a ratio threshold, and you lose all sense of what the units are.

I'd been looking for a set of "operational" level wargame rules for a while. I thought that Rommel might fit the equation but it just wasn't what I wanted. I found FreeHexBlitz on the web, and thought it a pretty good start, so I started working up my own rules, the key elements being that each unit has:

  • A size rating, effectively companies/squadrons, which gives how many D10 you roll
  • An attack rating, based on the type and quality of kit
  • A defence rating, based on the type and quality of kit

A key decision was that ratings are relative to the norm of the day, rather than trying to work out any details of armour, penetration etc.

Of course all this meant that I needed to create over 200 counters. Luckily I found this YouTube video by RK who had two great ideas which worked really well:

  • Use the Panorama feature in IfranView to join images exported from PPT into strips, and then join the strips into sheet. Very simple process
  • Use Self Adhesive foam sheets to give the counters more depth than card and make then easier to manage

So SPI map out, my rules play tested over the last couple of weeks, counters made, and all ready to go in time for Election Night!

Monday, 9 December 2019

Battle of Vimeiro AAR and Over the Hills Playtest

Having picked up the new edition of Over The Hills in the Kickstarter earlier in the year I finally got this set to the table, having heard good things about the 1st Edition.

The scenario I chose was Vimeiro, as it was due in my decadal battle series (if a year late!) and there was a nice scenario for the southern part of the battle using OTH courtesy of the Devon Wargames Group.

It was also my first chance to try out my new foam mats, and fight on 10cm squares instead of 10cm hexes (I converted OTH readily for the purpose).

This was the starting deployment, looking S, French on the left.

Four tiles to my 2:1 standard, the Mk1 top right just as underlay

The Battle

Only a brief summary. The French "came on in the same old style, and the British repelled them in the same old style". With only a battery apiece there was little time for preparation so the French columns piled into the British lines on the hill and got beaten back. The British followed up and inflicted more casualties, breaking one Brigade.

The lines clashing. Puff = 1 fatigue

On the French right (bottom of top picture) the cavalry tried to take on the advancing British but the terrain was too complex, the British formed square and the Cavalry went home. A final showpiece British vs French cavalry charge achieved little. At the end of Turn 8 (suggested scenario end-point) the French had 27 fatigues, only 3 off the Army break point, the British had about half that, so a clear victory for the British.

British Light Dragoons - Airfix conversions ~30yr old. Yes I know not Tarleton.

The Rules

I suppose the problem I have with OTH is that they are a very standard set, and as such I naturally think that my "standard set" - Steady Lads Steady - are better, and most of the changes I'd make to OTH would just make them more SLS like. This is in contrast to say Snappy Nappy or Et Sans Resultat where the mechanics are different enough that there is no direct comparison.

30+ yr old brittle Airfix Highlanders get a rare outing!

That said OTH played pretty well, and certainly prefer them to Black Powder or Liphook, but perhaps not to Francis Long's. I need to retry GdA/GdB and Shako for further comparison.

The only thing I particularly liked was the Skirmish ratings as a way of abstracting skirmishers. Did also give me some ideas for better use of Generals in SLS.

French Grenadiers flanking some 95th

Things I was less keen on were (and may just be me misreading rules):

  • The whole movement segment things, just more data to remember
  • Shot from artillery impacting Skirmishers, only getting the line behind on 50% chance follow through
  • The ease with which units could recover Fatigue, so many units stayed at full strength
  • The rules layout, things were often quite buried and not helped by having melee rules about 3 times for the different situations (Inf vs Inf, Cav vs Inf, Cav vs Cav)
So glad I've played it, but not one I'd turn to again out of choice, but happy to play at a club (who might understand them better!)

British Light and Rifles - again 30+ yr old Airfix conversions. Even stovepipes!

The Grid

Worked really well. There are dots every 10cm, but even up close I sometimes had to hunt for them. Units could still manoeuvre on diagonals and wheels - although there wasn't much scope for that in this game. Looking forward to using them in ECW next.

Spot the grid?

Friday, 6 December 2019

Last Ever Napoleonic French Foot in 20mm?

Bold statement I know - but by my calculations we now have enough French troops for Waterloo at ~1:33, assuming my count of my brother's figures is right!

Next year I only have a 3 cavalry units to do (Empress and Carabiners), which are really more about improving very poor early Airfix conversions than filling gaps - and then that will be the Cavalry done too, and Artillery also already there. My focus in 2020 will then switch to support Nick with British allies, and restarting my own Russians so as to better fight other battles.

These last figures are two battalions of Young Guard Voltigeurs, and a one of Young Guard Fusiliers.

The Army Painter Varnish/Dip was getting a bit dense and stale by this stage, hence the heavy-handed look. Will be switching to their wash next year.