Thursday, 10 January 2019

Cruel Seas: Trial Run

Matt, Steve and myself embarked on a trial run of Warlord's Cruel Seas last night at BIG under the tutelage of Dave who was the only one of us who had read the rules!

Matt was the only one with painted minis (which were featured in the Warlord email newsletter yesterday as well) and they looked very nice in the flesh, I must nick his painting recipe!

One of Matt's nicely painted E-boats moving at full speed!
Steve and myself each took control of a Vosper I and Vosper II (I've decided to stick with the Warlord terminology for the time being) whilst Dave and Matt each had an S-1000 E-boat.

I expected the E-boats to make mincemeat of the Vospers but the game didn't turn out that way and despite Dave sinking my Vosper I after accidentally ramming it, the Royal Navy managed to sink three S-1000's (Dave being allowed a reinforcement boat after his first was sunk soon after ramming my Vosper I).

The situation after one of the E-boats has been sunk by concentrated Vosper fire!
Now Dave and Matt did exhibit some atrocious dice rolling skills (Matt missed one Vopser with all four weapons at point blank range on one occasion) and Steve and I did manage to get some lucky long range hits in getting a 1 on a D10, but overall the game was a lot of fun, and most importantly given the subject matter, was very speedy to play.

The random activation (using the Bolt Action dice in a bag system) kept things interesting, the roll to hit on a D10 followed by a number of D6 to see the amount of damage inflicted with sixes possibly causing critical hits worked well and we soon got hang of the movement speeds and benefits and penalties of moving at differing rates.

Overall we all had a fun time, it is definitely a beer & pretzels game with a Commando comics flavour, but I have not problem with that. The models are nice, the rules simple and enjoyable. I am sure there are some quirks (I suspect as you expand the game beyond the core it might squeak a bit) but as grown men playing with toys I am sure we can fix any glaring problems.

I bought some PT Boats from the shop after the game and Dave kindly donated two he had to the Allied cause which was much appreciated, so hopefully it won't be too long before we get some more nautical battles in...

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Cruel Seas Casts Off...

2019 hasn't had the best of starts in the world of Bleases (except for a cracking gig by Saul's band Blacklist last Friday), I've been struggling with a dose of man flu since New Year's day that manifested into manthrax over the weekend, but I am determined to get off my death bed (well armchair) and kick off 2019's gaming tomorrow evening.

With George having been roped into a Saga foursome at BIG this week I decided to test the water with Cruel Seas and Dave and Matt have expressed an interest too (Matt then painting up half a dozen E-Boats in a couple of days just to show me up!).

Today I dug the Vosper sprues out the box and decided to glue them together. I'm sure more nautical expert gamers than me are a bit baffled by what Warlord have provided on the sprue and their decision to give the boats different titles than they had historically but after some research comprising mainly of looking at a copy of Squadron Signal Vosper MTBs in Action book but also having a quick look at Captain Robert J. Bulkley Jr's At Close Quarters; PT Boats In The United States Navy and Len Reynold's Gunboat 658 I quite like the look of the Med as an area of operations as it will allow me to use mixed RN/USN flotillas as well as the Germans using Italian vessels and the Italians fighting on both sides. 

So I glued my first three Vospers together as the 72 ft 1941version with fore mounted 20mm and after twin 303 turret (the two torp model what Warlord have decided to call Vosper I's). The other three are the four tube 1944 (historic) Vosper I (what Warlord call the Vosper II despite that being a later variant with a 6pdr fore, an option they don't offer). Unfortunately the Vopser I's don't appear to have served in the Med, but as Matt has six E-boats I thought they better get them off the sprue for tomorrow...

As the masts on the Warlord models look like Minifig tree tunk spears (showing my age there!) I haven't glued them on and will make some from wire in due course when I source some suitable crew figures (probably H&R artillery crews) and slap some paint on...

Matt has a couple of Vosper sprues from Wargames Illustrated that he doesn't want so I plan to use the early models to make up some 1942 US made boats with fore and aft 20mm's, not quite sure what I'll do with the later war ones at the moment.

One thing that has been mentioned on various forums is the inclusion of two Vosper MTB variants in the starter set when Warlord could have instead included an early Vosper MTB and maybe a Fairmile MGB (the latter being a proper enemy of the E-Boats that could go up against them) to provide a better balance. Cynically one might wonder if Warlord have an eye on a potential "gaming arms race" here as per the old Warhammer approach when you needed to buy the new super weapon/unit to take out the one your opponent's army had got. "Having trouble with the pesky S-1000 E-Boat sir? Have you tried the Fairmile D? Here are two nice resin and metal models for just thirty quid..."

Alternatively, as I will be doing, you can pick a decent 1/300th Fairmile  D's for just four quid from Heroics and Ros. Maybe not quite as nice as the forthcoming Warlord models but a helluva lot cheaper...

Unfortunately I won't have one for tomorrow's game...

Monday, 31 December 2018

A Cunning Plan (or two...) for 2019!

Discovering BIG last spring has certainly boosted by hobby enjoyment considerably. I don't think I have played some many different games in such a short period since I was a teenager! :-)

As the year comes to a close I have been setting plans in motion for my 2019 gaming!

The Men Who Would Be Kings:

I have had a lot of fun with these rules and next up is a plan to play some Anglo-Zulu War games. 24 points of Warlord Zulus (72 figures) have been based, undercoated and sprayed sepia brown and I will be working on another 38 figures soon.

For the Sudan I have bought some Egyptians and started work on them and a pack of Old Glory Gurkhas turned up before Xmas for NWF action.

I also want to have a LOT of Foundry and Old Glory Indian Mutiny figures I would like to paint up and get on the tabletop, some of these I have had sat around a long time...

Rebels and Patriots:

Given the success of TMWWBK the latest rules from the Mersey stable was going to be an obvious purchase. Given the popularity of Sharp Practice at BIG and some of the lads having FWI stuff as well as George having a box or two of Perry Redcoats I have decided to raise an American army inspired by that at Guilford Courthouse.

I have assembled two regiments from one box and Santa brought me another. I now need to decide what to do about militia units and skirmishers as the Warlord (ex-Wargames Factory) plastics look far too complicated so it may be be a case of building up units from the Perry's metal lines and maybe some of the Foundry range the twins sculpted.

Bolt Action:

Bolt Action (and to a lesser extent Chain of Command) are extremely popular at BIG and whilst rummaging through Lead Mountain I discovered a Rubicon Panzer III and some lovely mid-war Black Tree Design German infantry.

As BTD had a 41% off sale over Xmas I worked out a 1000 point force for 1942 Russia based on PanzerGrenadier Division GrossDeutschland and ordered what else I needed for it. I will need to pick up a truck and a Sdkfz 231 (8-rad) to take the platoon up to the 1000 some time.

I have some Soviet troops and vehicles in Lead Mountain too, so if the bug bites I can raise an OpFor...

Cruel Seas:

I weakened before Xmas and bought the starter set. Whilst there are clearly are some issues with the rules, it seems to be proving popular enough and a few of the lads at BIG fancy it.

I have decided to raise an American PT Boat flotilla and paint my boats up for the Med.


I MUST finish painting my Norse army! (and play some more games...)

Mortal Gods:

Having enjoyed my game of Test of Honour a rummage in Lead Mountain's plastic spur uncovered enough of the old Wargames Factory Amazons to make up two phlanxes for the Greek version, so I have bought some Amazon peltasts from Eureka and some leaders from Bronze Age Miniatures (via Fenris Games).

The new game is out in March and should be fun...

I'm sure this plan won't survive contact with the real world and shiny new releases brought out by wargames companies in 2019 but it's the thought that counts, right?

Thursday, 27 December 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Where Bugles Call and Rifles Gleam...

Apologies for the delay in reporting the latest action from the Sudan, despatches being delayed by the festive preparations and subsequent consumption of turkey and alcohol!

George and I decided we would try another crack at the Take The High Road scenario from The Men Who Would Be Kings, battles of this particular scenario standing at 2-0 in favour of George and his stabby stick armed Mahdists.  George as attacker had 36 points, I had 27 deciding to invest solely in infantry this time around.

Rather than a hill, the objective here was a building and this time the terrain generation rolls fell my way with a generally flat table with limited cover in front of the objective.

George has now finished painting his 36 point army and jolly nice it looked advancing across the board...

As he deployed most of his forces on my left flank (clearly perceiving the Bazingers as the weak link), I moved my right flank forward to engage his pesky Irregular Infantry rifles which had been a thorn in my side in more than one game previously...

As the bulk of the Mahdists advanced across the board, the 1/66th and 3/66th opened fire at Long Range inflicting casualties and Pinning two units,

Even the Bazingers managed inflict the odd casualty at long range!

The 2/66th engaged the two Mahdist rifle units, Pinning both in turn.

And then Routing one and inflicting more casualties on the other.

However that was a side action to the main battle on the left flank and George's stabby guys continued their relentless advance towards the objective!

Only to be met by a withering Volley of rifle fire from the 3/66th, who rolled 9 hits out of 12 on one unit of Beja!

Unfortunately the Bazingers proved less successful needing to roll 6's...

And a unit of Nile Arabs charged in on them killing 9, forcing them back and Pinning them!

The Arabs success was fleeting as in my phase the 3/66th Volley fired again, killing eight and Pinning the rest. 

Overall, despite the casualties inflicted on the Bazingers, I was feeling pretty confident at this stage with four units of Regulars still at pretty much full strength. I just needed to keep the stabby sticks away from my brave Khaki lads!

George then decided to Charge his Beja in on the 3/66th, but the Dice Gods were against him this night and his Charge ended up short, right in front of the 3/66th who were in Close Order!

However a reduced unit of eight River Arabs did manage to get stuck in...

...and died to a man as the 3/66th rolled nine hits in Close Combat, the Arabs only inflicting two casualties!

In a desperate last throw of the dice George advanced one of his Beja units forward, despite being only four strong now them were level with the 3/66th who now could not fire in Close Order. 

As these four were Fierce Tribal Infantry (killing on a 4+ in Close Combat) I decided to order the 3/66th to Skirmish and fall back. This meant a half move and half firing, but they did kill three of the Beja who had outflanked them.

The Red Flag Beja who fallen short in their Charge were shot at by the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) who were defending the building and Pinned!

Things were not looking too good for George at this stage but he had one large unit of Beja left, but if he could get them into contact with the 3/66th he might be able to finish them off and then Pin the Highlanders....

Unfortunately they advanced into a corridor of fire from the 1/66th and 92nd...

...and in two turns of fire were wiped out.

With a handful of survivors left, the Enlightened One George decided to call it a day and surrender the battlefield.

Although the game ended up being pretty one-sided, it is worth remembering on the two previous occasions we have played this scenario the Mahdists have won decisive victories.

My dice rolling tonight was much better than many previous battles and George was fated to fail a number of Rally tests at key points which if passed would have probably allowed him to overload the left flank. He also rolled Charges up short at decisive times.

All in all though another good game with a very enjoyable set of rules!

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness...

As previously posted 2019 will see me raising the flag of rebellion and raising an American force for Osprey's forthcoming Rebels and Patriots rules. I have always been interested in the Southern campaign so have decided to base my army on that of Nathanael Greene who took command of the Continental Army following the disaster at Camden, more specifically to start the American army at Guilford Courthouse and the battle there on 15th March 1781.

Having seen a sneak peak of the AWI army lists I may have been a tad optimistic that one box of Perry's plastics would supply the bulk of my army in that a 12 figure line infantry unit is only 4 points out of a 24 point basic force, so I thought I better crack on if I am to have a reasonably sized army ready to defeat the nefarious British!

So today I stuck together two units of Continental Army line infantry, that will be painted up as the 1st and 2nd Maryland Regiments who fought at Guilford Courthouse.

1st Maryland Regiment (Continental Line Infantry)
As the keen eyed will have noticed the units photographed are actually 16 strong not 12. The reason for this is that Sharp Practice is quite popular at BIG so I am raising my Rebels and Patriots force with an eye on it being usable in some Sharp Practice AWI games at some future point in time.

2nd Maryland Regiment (Continental Green Line Infantry)
The 1st Maryland I have built up as pretty uniform regulars, most with regulation tricorns etc. The 2nd (who had been newly re-formed) looks more irregular with a variety of headgear and has a less military bearing to how they are holding their weaponry (and unlike the 1st they have not bothered fixing their bayonets).

Hopefully I can get some paint on them reasonably soon though my next main painting focus will be for some planned Anglo-Zulu War games planned for January.

Friday, 7 December 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Unfaltering On Its Dreadful Brink...

It's been a little while since I managed to get a game in, so it was good to meet up with George again at BIG for another game of The Men Who Would Be Kings. This time around we decided to have a crack at the To The Last Bullet scenario, which we had not tried, with 27 points of brave Brits standing firm against 36 points of howling Dervishes!

The scenario starts with the defenders within one move of the centre, behind them a farmstead or similar within six inches of the defender's table edge and the attacker advancing up the board from the other side...

As you can see the hordes of Madhists look a tad intimidating for the thin khaki line and starting first they quickly began bounding up the board...

My cunning plan was to fall back as quickly as possible towards my table edge to give my troops clean lines of fire and if possible get them into Close Order to allow volley fire and put any hand to hand combats more on a level playing field.

Whilst most of my Field Force played game the 1/66th decided falling back was damned un-British!

As the Madhists advanced I managed to draw first blood with the 3/66th killing four Beja in one round of firing...

George's Irregular Infantry rifles had two turns of trying to hit the 1/66th (who kept refusing to fall back) on the left flank at long range but failed.

This meant that after five consecutive turns the Mahdists had not managed to inflict one casualty on the defenders and, according to the scenario that was the end of the game!

A quick check of the Objectives put the score at 0-0 as whilst my Bazingers had reached the farmstead, they had yet to enter and occupy it!

As this was the stage the game was at, at the end of turn five we decided to play on! :-)

On the right George's advancing Beja ran into a wall of fire from the 3/66th and 15th Sikhs (the latter have managed to form Close Order, the 3/66th ignoring an order to do so!)


Despite this George did manage to charge one of his stabby spear armed Beja units into the Skihs...

And a unit of River Arab Tribal Infantry into the 3/66th who were now no doubt regretting not forming Close Order when ordered to!

The Fierce Sikhs gave the Mahdists a shock with some deft bayonet work and in a bloody skirmish killed eight Beja suffering five losses themselves. Fortunately this meant they were still able to maintain Close Order and the pushed back Beja then failed a Pin test.

The 3/66th were unsurprisingly not as fortunate in melee with the River Arabs and suffered 50% casualties, were pushed back and Pinned.

The Sikhs fired a final volley at the Mahdists to their front killing several and Pinning another unit, before a third unit of Beja charged in...

More bloody work ensued but this time the dice favoured the Mahdists and all bar the brave officer of the 15th Sikhs fell under the spears of the Beja...

On the left flank the 1/66th, who I had given up trying to move tried to engage a unit of Irregular Infantry rifles that had foolishly crept within Short Range. Twelve brave Englishmen hitting on 5's and 6's? Surely there was only one outcome? Sadly not...

The Mahdist rifles survived their Pinning test and returned fire killing five of the 1/66th!

At this stage I think I could have been forgiven for thinking that things were taking a familiar turn...

The 3/66th gamely fought back against the Beja who had attacked the Sikhs reducing them to just their leader after being charged...

But their luck did not last as the River Arabs then charged in on them and left just their officer as the last man standing!

Things then turned on their head as George tried to Rally one of his Pinned Beja units...

A double 1 seeing them flee the table!

The 2/66th and the Bazingers then swung into action, wiping out the remaining River Arabs...

The officer of the Sikhs then calmly despatched the singular Beja leader with a pistol shot and the 2/66th polished off the nearest Beja unit to them with some more sharp rifle fire...

On the left the Mahdist Irregular Infantry rifles routed after another failed Rally test and George decided that for his remaining Mahdists it was better to live to fight another day...

Overall another enjoyable game, after we ignored the scenario conditions(!), and one that could have gone easily either way. The 1/66th's refusal to obey any orders was pretty annoying and some of my dice rolling shocking but on the flip side three Mahdist units routed on Rally tests and a number remained Pinned as well.

I must say that all in all The Men Who Would Be Kings is a cracking rule set and despite some quirks is well worth picking up and giving a go. The availability of plastic figures from the Perry's and Warlord and the relatively small numbers needed make this a good small project.

We had a quick chat after the game about future projects and next year should see some Zulu Wars action, as well as North-West Frontier and Indian Mutiny. In addition we both want to try Rebels and Patriots and Cruel Seas and I have a hankering for Mortal Gods! Roll on 2019...