Thursday 29 July 2021

Kiss Me Hardy: What Will They Say in Saint-Malo?

De Saint-Malo j'avons parti 
Sur une frégate bien jolie 
Pour s'en aller dedan La Manche 
Dedam la Manche vers Bristol 
Pour aller attaquer Les Anglais. 

 Le 31 du mois d'août (version navale Française)

As Andy is known as the "Master of Lard" at BIG when he recently asked if I was up for a game I said I would be interested to give TFL's Napoleonic Naval game Kiss Me Hardy a try. I have to confess that despite living in Bristol and descended from generations of sailors and shipwrights (one of whom was at Trafalgar) Age of Sail wargaming has not really caught my imagination, but Kiss Me Hardy did look fun.

We fought a basic encounter just to try out the rules between the forces of the Royal Navy and la Marine Nationale, the British having three 3rd rates, the French three 3rd rates and one 2nd. I took on the role of the French. The ships are all Andy's from the Warlord Black Seas range.

As this was basically an introduction to the rules game I won't recount in detail the heroic French victory which saw two British ships strike their colours and the third run for home, but it was an enjoyable game and I even managed to eventually put out a fire on one of my ships before it exploded.

The rules are a card driven game but at some point every card is played (no nautical Tiffin). This did lead to some tension as to who would get their broadside off first! I especially liked the turning circle and plan to poach it for some Aeronef games to see how it works there.

The rules did seem a tad more complex in parts than I was excepting for a Lardy set but that might have been me not knowing them, and I had some difficulty trying not to point my ships into the wind!

I'm not sure if it is a game I'll get into but it was fun to try out and, as always, Andy is a great teacher. That said the Black Seas models are nice, maybe a small American fleet wouldn't be to bad an idea? 

Monday 26 July 2021

Futbowel: BIG Demo Day

As part of their fundraising activities to raise money for disabled facilities at their new venue, Bristol Independent Gaming ran a 'Demo Day' yesterday to introduce local gamers to a plethora of new games and systems. I was "volunteered" to run some games of Futbowel...

For those of you unfamiliar with the game it is a fantasy football one but, unlike others, actually involves the kicking of a ball with a foot and not holding an egg with your hands (sometimes in armour). The first edition came out in 2007 and featured Orc 'civilian' futbowel teams. 2016 saw a second edition arrive set in the Panzerfäuste world and inspired by the WWI Christmas Truce games, games played between Orcs and Dwarves in No Man's Land.

The second edition rules are a complete re-write and a completely playing card driven game. Consequently it moves along a cracking pace, can be pretty random and on occasion quite brutal with moving players sometimes blown up by unexploded bombs and others executed by firing squad for committing bad fouls.

I managed to get through four games yesterday and a lot of fun was had, all being pretty close won affairs with the odd goal in it. Nine players were shot for fouling their opponents and three Dwarves blown up by UXB's. It was interesting that the female gamers had a better grasp of tactics, passing the ball and moving miniatures up to support, whilst most of the men would charge one player down the pitch in the hope of scoring a solo goal. You can guess which approach was more successful! :D

The teams were the old Hysterical Games figures, 3D printed especially for the game and painted up by me last week. 

I am hoping the game and figures will be available for purchase again very soon as it is a lot of fun and an ideal beer & pretzels game, made even better if consuming alcohol whilst playing!

Saturday 24 July 2021

Sharp Practice: With Hunting Shirts and Rifle Guns...

Ye brave honest subjects who dare to be loyal, 
And have stood the brunt of every trial, 
Of hunting shirts and rifle guns; 
Come listen awhile and I'll tell you a song; 
I'll show you those Yankees are all in the wrong!

(The Rebels, 1778)

A couple of weeks back Andy asked if I wouldn't mind trying out an American War of Independence scenario he was planning to run during the recent Virtual Lard event. He supplied the figures and terrain all I had to do was turn up. What he didn't tell me is that I had to play the bally Tories! 

The forces of King George embarked on perilous and noble mission to apprehend local farmer William Quigley who had spurned His Majesty's good grace and raised arms against the crown. The rapscallion!

Quigley had called upon support from his equally dastardly cousin Barnabas Quigley, a Lieutenant in the New York State Militia, who brought some rebel scum with him to resist the forces of law and order!

Not all men of New York are treacherous curs and bounders though and Lieutenant Phineas Dixon arrived on the scene with two groups of fine New York Volunteers (provincial state troops who looked much smarter than their rebellious neighbours - and stood to attention straighter!)

Sergeant Edward Collins deployed a group of Rebel Militia Skirmishers behind the rail fencing to hide and treacherously shoot any servants of the Crown who might appear to restore order.

Huzzah! The stout-hearted Sergeant Reginald Dagenham arrived on the field of fray with two groups of Light Infantry Skirmishers...

As did the noble Captain Reginald Colfield, commander of two groups of His Majesty's 64th Foot, an officer of fine breeding positively chomping at the bit in his desire to give the damned rebels a good thrashing with his horse whip!

Egad! More rebels. A newly raised rabble under the command of Sergeant Silas Hawkins appear at Quigley's farm...

Fortune favours the brave and stout-hearted Sergeant Dagenham orders his men to advance on the rebel position and shoot down the traitors. One rebel falls dead and his unit takes Shock. Tally ho!

A group of brave and loyal Tory Militia Skirmishers under the command of Corporal Jeremiah Gordon swiftly advances forward and takes position behind some rail fencing, taking aim at their rebellious cousins...

Sergeant Hawkins orders his newly raised Militia unit up to the fencing opposite Gordon's men.

Meanwhile another group of loyal subjects of the King, led by that jolly good chap Corporal Thaddeus Bourne, move through the orchard and begin firing at Hawkins' militia...

Having broken Collins' Militia Skirmshers, Sergeant Dagenham orders his men to shoot down the advancing New York State Militia under Lieutenant Quigley. More rebels fall and the Militia take Shock from the well aimed muskets of the Light Skirmishers! Jolly good shooting chaps!

Remembering he is due to be partaking in a game of whist with some of the other officers from the 64th in the mess this evening, Captain Colfield orders his men to advance down the road and disperse the pesky rebels. Forward chaps, what ho!

Sergeant Dagenham and his men pour musket fire into Lieutenant Quigley's State Militia - who are now in quite a state having accumulated a lot of Shock!

Thoughts of games of whist in his head, Captain Colfield decides that the bally Americans won't like it up 'em and orders his men in with the bayonet! Charge chaps!

A fierce flurry of steel sees both sides lose six men apiece! Captain Colfield is lightly wounded and that rebellious bounder William Quigley knocked unconscious.

With equal numbers of casualties being caused another round of Fisticuffs is fought and this time the training, courage and pure righteousness of their cause sees the 64th victorious, although another brave redcoat makes the ultimate sacrifice for the King...

Their blood up, the remaining men of the 64th charge into the other Militia group who fall back dragging the unconscious William Quigley from under the bayonets of the brave British boys!

Lieutenant Dixon's loyal New York Volunteers fired a volley at the rebel militia to their front...

As Sergeant Dagenham's men fire another round into the New York State Militia of Lieutenant Quigley...

This is too much for the rebels. Their black hearts turn yellow and they break and run...

One group fleeing through the cowering skirmishers. Run Yankee, run!

A final round of musket fire from the Tory Militia Skirmishers combined with a volley from the group of 64th Regular Line was too much for the remaining Militia under Sergeant Hawkins. They fall back and the Rebel Force Morale plummets to zero. The field of battle belongs to the Crown!

A decisive victory for the British, the aggressive tactics worked well and didn't give Andy time to move his rebels into position along the fence lines then snap into line and pour fire into the advancing redcoats. Clearly I was still in a Pas De Charge mode! :D

Discussing the scenario afterwards we came up with a couple of tweaks for the Virtual Lard games and they saw a marginal British win in one game and a solid American win in the second.

Thursday 22 July 2021

Peninsular War: Fucilieri 4° e 5° Fanteria di Linea

After my initial Sharp Practice games using the attack column against Andy I began to ponder how having two attack columns would work... I have pencilled out an 85 point list but it does seem a bit light on the command front, however tonight Andy and I are planning to play a 110 point doubles game against Phil and Jenny so I had the excuse to paint up some more Perry Miniatures Kingdom of Italy Fucilieri.

I added one more group to my unit of three Fucilieri 4° Fanteria di Linea giving me a nice attack column of four groups in campaign dress...

With half a thought towards other projects I could use my KOI troops for (who said Black Powder?!) I decided that 36 fusiliers for the 4th Line was enough and decided to paint my next two groups up as Fucilieri of the 5° Fanteria di Linea who have red facings and green collars.

To create an attack column for the 5th I took my two groups of Coscritti Fucilieri 4° Fanteria di Linea and quickly repainted the facings to match the 5° Fanteria di Linea so I have a slightly neater attack column of the 5th Line.

As you may recall I wasn't entirely confident with the accuracy of the information used when I painted my red-coated drummer for the 4th so I have now transferred him to the 5th (who have red facings) and painted a new white-coated drummer for the 4th (tying in with their red edged white facings). I also painted up a Cantiniere from the Matchlock Miniatures range as she'll be a useful character with the same attributes as the rather useful Holy Man.

Monday 19 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today: (6) The Men Who Would Be Kings

Although you were only supposed to pick five games that made you the gamer that you are today I couldn't help but pick a sixth for an 'honourable mention'...

6. The Men Who Would Be Kings by Daniel Mersey (2016)

As regular readers of the blog will know I played a lot of The Men Who Would Be Kings pre-Covid lockdown with games set in the Sudan, Zululand and on the North-West Frontier. I have always found the period fascinating and did dabble with The Sword and the Flame a decade or so back but found The Men Who Would Be Kings to be a simple but elegant set of rules that provides a fun and frequently tense game playable in an evening.

The game, based on Dan Mersey's Lion Rampant system, TMWWBK formed the foundation block of my gaming that has taken me to Revolutionary America (with Rebels & Patriots) and Peninsular Spain (with Sharp Practice) and I think for that reason it deserves an honourable mention in making me the gamer that I am today...

Sunday 18 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today: (5) Flintloque

It might seem a bit egotistical to pick a game that I wrote as one of my five but honestly it's not a case of me massaging my big head! :D

5. Flintloque (1st edition) by Steve Blease & Mac Coxhead (1995)

The idea of historo-fantasy was not new when Flintloque came around, there had been an excellent article in Games Review Monthly magazine that extrapolated the Warhammer world into the Malburian period using the recently released Citadel Marlburian figures as Elves and Empire with 40K Grots having green stuff tricorns added. That idea was filed away in the back of my head as a "one day" possible project but I was surprised when (doing miniatures reviews for Games Master International) a small parcel turned up from Alternative Armies which comprised of an Orc in a Napoleonic British uniform and a Dwarf in a Prussian Landwehr one. 

A quick phone call to (then) Alternative Armies proprietor Mac led to me writing up a set of rules (oddly based on Iron Cow its genesis coming from Battles with Micro-tanks) using the 20 year old percentile firing system! For a couple of years Flintloque burned brightly and grew a fervent fanbase. Unfortunately economic pressures saw the company sold on (and later on again) and whilst Flintloque and Alternative Armies technically still exist it is not what it was for that brief moment in the mid-nineties.

Given the derivative nature of its rules I am not including Flintloque because of the rules system, even though it oddly enough worked well and made for a fun skirmish game. No, it is the combination of fantasy and historical elements in the background which has influenced much of my hobby time since 1995 and my strange fascination in dressing Orcs and Dwarves up in historical military uniforms from through the ages...

Saturday 17 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today: (4) Full Thrust (2nd edition)

From fantasy it was a small step to boldly go into SF wargaming though after playing one game of Warhammer 40,000 I wasn't impressed with the rules although I bought far too many 40K figures! :D Simon and I did have a traditional annual pre-Xmas game of the GW/FASA Star Trek III: Starship Combat Game but whilst we liked the background the game itself didn't inspire repeated play. It was not until 1991 that I discovered a small A5 photocopied set of spaceship combat rules that within one year was re-released as an A4 second edition with a full colour cover...

4. Full Thrust (2nd edition) by Jon Tuffley (1992)

Compared to the complexity of American rules like the aforementioned Star Trek game or the legendary Star Fleet Battles, Full Thrust used simple mechanisms that allowed you to command a fleet of up to a dozen spaceships of varying type and have a challenging game in an evening with minimal record keeping. This 'Keep It Simple' approach built on my experience with Warhammer 2nd edition and has coloured my preferences in game play to this day.

For a couple of years Full Thrust dominated my gaming building up fleets from GZG and other companies (one having all the ships snapped off their bases by an unsupervised over enthusiastic toddler!), Simon, James and myself also raising Star Trek fleets using the MicroMachines models and running popular Star Trek: Full Thrust participation games at shows across the UK.

My gaming eventually moved into other areas with Aeronef replacing Full Thrust as my "flying ships" game but I still have fond memories of Full Thrust and one day will dust off my NAC fleet and repair the ESU one to boldly go once again...

ps. a PDF of the rules and the supplements can be downloaded for free from the Ground Zero Games website here.

Friday 16 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today: (3) Warhammer (2nd edition)

Like every other wargamer who loved reading The Lord of the Rings the release of Warhammer by Citadel Miniatures in 1983 was an exciting event however it was the release of the 2nd edition a year later that had a bigger impact on me and my gaming...

3. Warhammer (2nd edition) by Bryan Ansell, Richard Halliwell & Richard Priestley (1984)

Focussing more on the mass battle and less on the role-playing (as in the first edition) I loved playing Warhammer in the mid-eighties. It was huge fun, you rolled lots of dice and there were no constraints on what you toys you could or could not play with. 

With Graham moving out of the area, Warhammer replaced WW2 for Simon and myself with him amassing a Dwarf army based around the wonderful Fantasy Tribe Dwarves and me a Goblinoid one using the Fantasy Tribe Orcs and Goblins, plus the original Citadel Lord of the Rings line. There were no points based army lists, no restrictions on what you could use. You bought something, you painted it, you played with it. End of.

The contrast with the complexity of historical rules at this time could not be more marked and whilst I bought WRG and Newbury Ancients rules to see if I could play a more "grown up" LoTR type game with them I never bothered. 

The incorporation of Citadel into GW and the move to the more prescriptive 3rd edition and the 'Beano' annual books saw me drift away from the game but I still have the figures and I still have my 2nd edition box so maybe one day...

Thursday 15 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today: (2) Battles with Micro-Tanks

If I had to name just one set of rules that made me the wargamer I am today it most probably would have to be these, not that I expect many people have heard of them or played them...

2. Battles with Micro-Tanks by Martin J Greenham (1975)

Moving swiftly on from HO/OO I soon discovered the 'Joy of Six'(mil) with fellow six-formers Simon and Graham. As posted a few years ago my first proper wargames army was 6mm WW2 US armour mainly Heroics & Ros with a smattering of Skytrex and the odd Leicester Micro-model. I don't recall where the rules came from but they were the ones we used for the best part of two years of weekend gaming in Graham's garage. 

I fell in love with the percentage based to hit mechanism and used variations of it in my own rules such as Iron Cow and even Flintloque! 

I haven't played 6mm WW2 for decades now but these rules and the games we played with them were the foundation stones on which my hobby is based.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today: (1) Operation Warboard

There's an interesting little chain message going around wargamers on Twitter at the moment were, if you are tagged, you list the five games that made you the gamer you are today and tag five other gamers. A bit of fun but it did get me thinking and the old brain cells reminiscing. As you are limited by the number of characters on Twitter I thought I'd post a little more about my choices here...

1. Operation Warboard by Gavin and Bernard Lyall (1976)

I can't remember where I picked up this book but it was during my teenage reading frenzy of any book I could get on the subject of wargaming. I do vaguely remember my first wargame against my friend Andy on the floor of my living room using my HO/OO collection of Airfix figures and ROCO tanks and vehicles using (IIRC) some rules from a Donald Featherstone book. That however was a bit of a failure and never repeated and it was Operation Warboard which really launched me into wargaming with me painting up US and German forces and covering a table in railway terrain (including some wonderful plastic one piece hedges) for the first meeting of the Clevedon Comprehensive School Wargames Club in 1980.

Whilst the after school club soon folded due to industrial action by the teachers (seeing them not supporting after school activities) it was really here that my wargames journey began!

Sunday 4 July 2021

Sharp Practice: En Avant II... L’Empire contre-attaque!! (Day Two, Game Two)

My fourth and final battle of the En Avant II event was against Jim who'd come up from Kent for a weekend of Sharp Practising. In this scenario Jim's British were tasked with escorting Lieutenant Lightswiche of the Royal Engineers ensuring he was able to repair a prototype heliograph in a monks tower overlooking the Valley of the Tres Cojones. My Italians were ordered to stop him!

The British were first to deploy with two groups of Line escorting Lieutenant Lightswiche accompanied by the British force commander.

The first Italians to arrive were the line Volteggiatori who deployed behind a wall overlooked by the monks' tower.

They were followed by the Granatieri who marched boldly down the road.

Whilst Jim deployed a cannon with a wonderful clear view of most of the battlefield!

The Granatieri were soon joined by the Fucilieri. Yes, the attack column was back!

Clearly upset for having been benched for the last two battles the Granatieri moved swiftly down the road towards the British.

Whilst the Volteggiatori were more circumspect and just jumped over the wall.

Their martial ardour aflame the Granatieri were half way across the board in no time...

Straight into the line of fire of the enemy cannon!

The round shot narrowly missed the Granatieri but the close miss did see them take a fair bit of Shock.

Faced only by some sheep and chickens the Volteggiatori decided to make a rush for the tower and try to capture it before the British could repair the heliograph...

Only to see the infamous 95th Rifles cross the brow of the hill they were charging up! Merda!

The Volteggiatori fired first taking the 95th by surprise! Two green jackets fell dead and the front group took Shock.

Meanwhile the Granatieri snapped into line but before they could present and shoot the cannon fired another round of fire into them.

The result was devastating, six grenadiers fell dead and one group broke!

The heliograph guard attempting to add further misery to the Granatieri by shooting them in the rear but fortunately fired wide.

The Italian light infantry Volteggiatori arrived and joining their line brethren on the hill started shooting at the redcoat guard. The line skirmishers fired at the 95th again, killing another riflemen and wounding their officer.

The Fucilieri moved up to support the remaining Granatieri group.

But before the Granatieri could move aside the cannon fired at them again!

The brave grenadiers took more Shock and whilst they did not break they were forced back breaking the Fucilieri attack column and passing Shock onto the line troops! Madre di Dio!

The second group of 95th Rifles deployed on the hill ridge and fired at the Italian skirmishers but only caused one point of Shock on each group.

A movement event saw the light infantry Volteggiatori Tenenete twist his ankle reducing his units movement - but they could still fire...

And a volley slammed into the British heliograph guard killing one, piling Shock on them and wounding  Lieutenant Lightswiche who had given up staying with his slow moving escort...

The Fucilieri formed into two columns one under the force commander, the other under a Sergente. Stealing themselves they advanced forward again towards the enemy cannon...

Which fired its third and final round of grapeshot into them. The Italians faltered under the double Shock...

But they sucked it and and kept marching slowly and inexorably towards the cannon! (looking at the photos here I'm not sure why they didn't stay on the road with its extra D6 of movement instead of advancing into the stream which formed an obstacle and reduced their movement!)

Meanwhile Lightswiche reached the Heliograph and started his repairs...

At this point the game was quite delicately balanced with the slow moving British force commander having just arrived with two groups of British line to bolster the faltering tower guard.

In a bold move the line Volteggiatori loosed a volley of musket fire at the 95th on the ridge and charged in, bayonets gleaming in the Spanish sun!

Bayonets and sword bayonets flashed, two brave Italians fell but the infamous 95th were broken and fled the battlefield! Are you reading this Bernard Cornwell? :D

The unlikely Volteggiatori heroes then swept around the hill behind the flank of the British line, the chickens no doubt clucking with admiration!

Once again the cannon fired at the advancing Fucilieri, once again they stood firm!

Sensing the battle might be slipping away from them the British opened fire on the unbroken group of Granatieri stood forlornly in the middle of the battlefield...

The volley dropped two more Grenadiers and the excess Shock caused them to break dropping the Italian Force Morale. down to just 4!

The Fucilieri advanced another inch towards the cannon...

Which fired yet again at them... but once again could not stop them!

The Volteggiatori light infantry skirmishers opened fire on the British line who had broken the grenadiers...

Wounding the British Force Commander!

Meanwhile the line Volteggiatori moved up to the rear of the British line...

And opened fire! The volley was not as devastating as I'd hoped but the double Shock on the British was pleasing and one group was teetering on excess Shock.

Remembering to use 'sharp practice' as I had two cards my Volteggiatori fired again in the rear of the British who started to waver under the Shock (unfortunately the group on equal Shock to men did not take more).

The light infantry Volteggiatori joined in the firing and whilst they were not able to cause double Shock...

Their volley caused the teetering group of British line to break and flee down the hill! This took the British Force Morale down to a very worrying 2! The Italians were still on 4.

Knowing they could not take another volley in their rear the British line about-faced and presented their muskets at the line Volteggiatori...

Two Volteggiatori fell dead but they took no Shock so stood firm.

Meanwhile despite the chaos surrounding him Lieutenant Lightswiche had finished his repairs and now started sending his important message. On his activations he would roll 1D6 and each score would be recorded. When the total reached 8 his message would be sent and the British would be victorious! On his first activation he scored 5!

After taking three rounds of canister and several of round shot the Fucilieri reached the infernal British cannon. Battered, bruised and carrying a lot of Shock they pointed their bayonets at the British artillerymen and prepared to exact their revenge! Vendetta!

Fisticuffs! The Italian steel pushed forward and two artillerymen fell dead, a point of Shock was inflicted and their leader wounded! Jim rolled on the 'bad things happen' table but no one cared that an artillery officer was wounded. The British Force Morale stayed on 2.

Unfortunately the resistance by the artillerymen was fiercer than I expected and after bravely marching through hell across the field of battle both groups of Fucilieri broke and their Capitano fell dead! This meant three rolls on the 'bad things happen' table which saw the Italian Force Morale collapse from 4 to 0! Merda!

Right at the death, the day was Jim's! Oddio!

Well that was a damn close run thing that! 

In retrospect my tunnel vision in trying to get the Fucilieri into Fisticuffs with the cannon crew cost my Italians the battle, especially as I was not expecting them to be such a tough nut to crack in a melee. I had enough opportunities to snap the Fucilieri into line and shoot the gunners down and did not do so. Lesson learnt (possibly!) 

Regardless it was an exciting battle that went right to the wire and I'm still chuffed my Volteggiatori routed the vaunted 95th Rifles! Take that Richard Sharpe! :D