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...

Friday 16 November 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Far the Calling Bugles Hollo...

So as promised the refight of Take The High Road scenario from The Men Who Would Be Kings with George's stabby spear armed Mahdists taking the role of the attackers and my gallant sons of Empire the role of defenders.

For my 27 points I took three units of Regular Infantry, a cannon and spent the remaining 3 points on some Irregular Infantry Bazingers downgraded to poor shots. Would this be enough to stop the advancing 36 point Mahdist horde?!

We rolled up the terrain as previously and it was clear the wargaming gods were going to be against me as I ended up with a hill right in front of my position blocking lines of fire and some rough ground that would half the movement of any of my troops trying to advance onto the hill in front of them.

Unlike previously when I was the Attacker, George's Tribal Infantry do not have to pass an Order to Move and quickly started to advance up the table in 8" chunks.

This did quickly bring them into artillery range and I opened fire on one unit of Beja killing two at long range. Unfortunately, they shrugged off the Pinning test.

Unsurprisingly George was using the terrain to his best advantage to shield as much of his army as he could. That said his army has a lot of figures and it would have to be a very big hill to shield them all!

His left flank was soon in rifle range and the 1/66th and 2/66th opened fire inflicting several casualties  on a River Arab unit which was then Pinned and subsequently failed a number of Rally tests, effectively taking it out of the game.

The Beja cunningly hid behind the hill whilst the other River Arabs continued to take casualties, another unit being Pinned...

The remaining River Arab unit decided that being shot at wasn't much fun so decided to try and Charge in on the 2/66th. Some impressive dice rolling saw them move into contact!

The 2/66th were fortunately in Close Order which limited the number of stabby sticks the Arabs could bring to bear and this also meant that the Thin Khaki Line was more effective in melee. The fighting was brutal with 8 Arabs being bayoneted but 5 of the 66th falling in combat. The Arabs were pushed back and Pinned.

However this was a numbers game and as Tribal Infantry can move through friendly units even when charging, a unit of Beja decided to Charge in on the seven surviving 2/66th. Again their ability to bring their superior numbers to bear was negated as the British were still in Close Order.

Unfortunately my dice rolling let me down at the crucial moment. George rolled 6 kills on 7 dice (!), whereas I managed just 3. The 2/66th were down to one man (their officer) who was pushed back and Pinned...

Whilst he Rallied next turn, the Beja charged in again and took this brave son of Empire down....

Meanwhile the 1/66th were having problems of their own due to my poor dice rolling. They volley fired at a unit of Beja that had attempted to charge over the hill at them, but had come up short. Twelve Martini-Henries killing on 4, 5 or 6 only managed to inflict just 4 casualties on the Beja who laughed off the Pinning test (George's Pinning roll tests throughout the game were almost invariably passed, much to my detriment).

Faced with two units of Beja (one now of 12, one at full strength of 16) both potentially within Charge range, the 1/66th Volley fired again killing 5 of the nearest unit, who again shrugged off the Pinning test!

The second unit of Beja then attempted to Charge in on the 1/66th and successfully did so. Again due to the British being in Close Order the number of stabby sticks they could bring to bear was limited, so both sides has 12 dice, both killing on 4, 5 or 6.

Fate deserted the 1/66th and me. The brave Brits took down 5 of their native foes, but the Beja killed 9! The 1/66th were forced out of Close Order, back three inches and Pinned!

The Bazingers (who I had stationed on the hill as I had little hope of being able to order them to do anything than Fire which is a free order for them) tried to help the beleaguered survivors of the 1/66th, surprisingly shooting down 4 of the Beja, but failing to Pin them.

A unit of River Arabs then charged through the Beja, wiping out the last few of the 1/66th. The situation was now officially grim.

Next turn the Beja charged the Bazingers in an attempt to avenge their fallen comrades, killing 3 for no loss and forcing the Bazingers back down the hill.

The River Arabs, their blood up after wiping out the 1/66th, then charged in on the remaining Bazingers killing 6, forcing them back and Pinning them.

My final hopes laid with the 3/66th who were in Close Order and within Volley Fire range of the River Arabs. If I could inflict enough casualties on them, and use my cannon, which had been trying to pick  off two Irregular Rifle units George had slowly advanced down the right, I might be able to seize an unlikely victory, or at the very least a draw...

However my run of bad luck continued. The Mahdist Irregular Infantry got within Long Range of  the 3/66th and managed to inflicted one casualty on the British unit. My Pinning roll should have been easy but of course I rolled low and failed it! 

The 3/66th were forced out of Close Order, Pinned and unable to shoot at the River Arabs standing brazenly atop the hill!

George's black flag Beja finished off the Bazingers which meant the remaining British units had to roll for Pinning which the cannon failed!

I managed to Rally the 3/66th but the respite was brief as he charged his River Arabs in on them.

It was 13 versus 10 with the Brits only hitting on 5 or 6 against the 4.5 or 6 of the Arabs, but maybe a good roll of the dice would favour the British and see the Arabs pushed back so I could bring rifle fire to bear next turn.

As you can see below I managed no hits whatsoever whereas George rolled 7!

The remnants of the 3/66th were pushed back and unsurprisingly Pinned.

They did Rally next turn but the Mahdist Irregular Infantry inflicted another casualty taking them down to 2...

Before some Beja charged in...

Finishing off the remnants of the 3/66th for no loss!

The black flag Beja then charged the Pinned cannon and you can guess what happened there...

So, another sad day for the British Empire in the deserts of the Sudan...

Cleary the terrain had played an important role in the game with the second hill reducing my ability to bring all my firepower to bear. I should have agreed to George's initial suggestion we set the board up as per our previous battle using this scenario as I would have been able to deploy the cannon on the hill and had clear field of fire across a large area!

With a 36" range compared to the maximum 24" of the Regular Infantry the cannon seems to be an attractive option, but it only rolls 2d6 per crewman so maybe it would have been better to take another unit of 12 Regular Infantry with 12d6 to roll and put them in Close Order asap.

Deployment of units was impacted by the terrain. I had wanted to put the cannon on the hill objective but as it requires an order to Fire (unlike the Infantry units) I could not risk its crew refusing to Fire when they might only get one chance as the Mahdists burst out of cover in front of them. 

Despite (another) defeat it was an enjoyable game, my dice rolling letting me down at crucial times and once things started to go wrong, as we have both noticed with the game, things began to unravel rather quickly...