Monday, 25 August 2014

The West Rises Midst Battle's Din

Almost two years on, I reprised my The West Rises campaign on a bank holiday afternoon – this time with my newly released Midst Battle's Din rules instead of Sharp Practice or Muskets & Tomahawks.

Setting the Scene
The crossroad hamlet of Kirk's Cross is a quiet one, but one which hides a secret – hiding in the ruined tower just outside the settlement are a group of Jacobites! But that is no longer a secret. Now the vicious Captain Castagne and his men have come to bring fire and sword to Kirk's Cross in the name of the king, and the villagers will have to decide whether to swear fealty to far-off King George or the hidden Prince Charlie. Of course really, it's no choice at all...

Govt. coming from the bottom, Jacobites hiding & top.

The Hanoverians: 35 men, Inspiration 3
Captain Castagne: Toughness 3, Fight +1, Regular, Inspiration 0, Luck 7, sword & pistol, mounted
Sergeant Frost: Toughness 3, Fight +1, Regular, Inspiration +2, Luck 6, halberd & pistol
Captain Macguire: Toughness 2, Fight +2, Regular, Inspiration +1, Luck 8, sword & pistol
16 British Infantry: Toughness 2, Great Aim, Fight 0, Regular, muskets & bayonets
16 Black Watch: Toughness 2, Good Aim, Fight +1, Regular, muskets & bayonets

Victory Conditions: 4pts for each house burned or Jacobite character killed (max 40pts)

The Jacobites: 46 men, Inspiration 3
Laird Micawber: Toughness 2, Fight +1, Irregular, Inspiration +1, Luck 9, sword & pistol, mounted
Father McCruil: Toughness 2, Fight -1, Irregular, Inspiration +2, Luck 6, musket
The Micawber Twins: Toughness 3, Fight +1, Irregular, Inspiration 0, Luck 7, sword & pistol
26 Highlanders: Toughness 2, Good Aim, Fight +1, Irregular, mix of weapons
16 Jacobite Milita: Toughness 2, Good Aim, Fight 0, Militia, muskets & bayonets

Victory Conditions: 1pt per dead king's man or house unburned (max 41pts).

The Start of the Game
The British set up with a three-pronged approach, coming on from three lanes of the crossroads. Castagne & Frost led the King's Own Royal Borderers in the centre, and Macguire's Black Watch took a flank each.

The Jacobites mostly set up Hidden, except for Laird Micawber, who was leading the militia on from the other board edge. Having won the initiative, they were unwilling to do much with it. One house opened fire on the group led by Macguire, killing a man. Micawber's militia advanced a little, and then the Hanoverians reacted.
Macguire's men receive the first volley of the game.

Macguire rallied his men and led them forward to let off a volley in fine style against the smoke-wreathed house. The Black Watch on the other flank tried and failed to set the first house alight – clearly they had not lit their torches for fear of alerting the highlanders to their arrival. Castagne and his men had clearly had no such qualms, and their target hovel whooshed into flame as they hurled torches through the windows and the holes they beat in its wattle walls. Frost was rather more circumspect, and led his men into the bushes to observe the village in case a reserve was needed.
The first house goes up in flames.

Macguire's men were cruelly served on the second volley from the house – two more men were blown away by heavy homemade musket balls. The village filled with warcries as highlanders and militiamen moved to stop Castagne's arson.

Ignoring the inflammable house for now, the Black Watch charged their recidivist brethren with drawn bayonets. Men screamed and died on both sides, a pyrrhic victory for the government men. The highland survivors were shot down almost to a man by Castagne's firing line, and the last man fled into the hills. Sickened by his men's deaths, Macguire led his group in setting fire to the house with the Jacobites still inside. Shocked, Frost led his men forward to remonstrate with him.
Fighting breaks out in the streets.

One more quick burst of fire came from the house, and then from the door burst a flood of bellowing clansmen, attacking Englishman and Scotsman alike. Any redcoat was to be stained crimson today. Met by a hedge of bayonet points, they were backed back toward the burning building. From behind them, at the call of a Micawber twin, a new pack of highlanders burst out of hiding and fired a volley at Macguire and his men that left him and another Black Watchman dead on the ground. On the other side of the village, two other Watchmen died to Jacobite bullets too.
The end of the beginning, with fire & Disorder markers.

The Midpoint: British Inspiration 2, 8VPs | Jacobite Inspiration 3, 14VPs
Aware of Micawber's militia advancing towards him, Castagne bellowed to his men. Ree-load! Wheeel-right! Aim... Fire! Fully half the Scots before them fell, and the rest thrown into disarray. Frost and his men countercharged the highlanders who had fled the burning building, cutting most of them down. On the other flank, the survivors of the Black Watch shamefully fled the board. Smirking, the Jacobites repositioned themselves, advancing toward the ever-weaker British lines.
Reinforcements in the distance as Jacobites round the house.

Macguire's survivors recovered their nerve and gallantly charged the foe. It did not go well for them. Nor did Frost and his men succeed in their own charges against the kilted men before them. Only Castagne's masterful move-and-fire gave a glimmer of hope to the government men, smashing as it did the Jacobite centre.
The lone survivor of the Black Watch's charge.
Two clansmen beat four soldiers - and kill one!
Firing lines face off in the centre of the village.

Seeing his men fall all around him, Laird Micawber began shuffling to safety on his old nag, abandoning the grey-coated survivor to his fate. Rushing past him in the other direction came Father McCruil and the other men from the tower, desperate to join the fight before it was over. On one flank, a Micawber roused his men to finish off the Black Watch, and on the other flank the other twin directed a volley into Castagne's men that left five dead.

The Endgame: British Inspiration 2, 12VPs | Jacobite Inspiration 3, 24VPs
Desperate to salvage some shred of success from the expedition, Castagne led the ruins of his firing line to burn another house. On the other side of the village, Frost's men kept the highlanders at bay with disciplined fire.
The highlanders circle the survivors warily.

Castagne's punishment was swift. Another Scottish volley rang out, and he fell dying beneath his horse, the last of his men falling around him. His last moments on earth were spent laughing at the burning thatch above him, which says more honest words about his character than he ever would. Highlanders charged home all across the rest of the village, slaying with every stroke. Jacobite victory was at hand.

Seeing a Micawber gesturing his men on, Frost signalled to his two companions and fired with them. They were rewarded with a gout of arterial blood beneath the burning eaves. They quickly moved away, recognising that the battle was lost. Hacking down most of his retinue, the rest of his platoon followed, eager to get away from the mayhem and bloodshed.

The battle was over. Long Live Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Butcher's Bill
25 Hanoverians (4 routed), 23 Jacobites (1 routed).

Victory Conditions
16VPs to the Hanoverians, 28VPs to the Jacobites – Jacobite Victory

A fun and fast game, exactly what I wanted of an afternoon. The whole thing took about an hour with almost eighty figures starting on the table - not bad for a skirmish game! I meant to take more photos, but I got distracted playing the game...

The scenario was perhaps a little unbalanced – I should have made the highlanders poor shots to stop them standing off and shooting quite so much. Overall though, it seemed to begin with like anyone's game – some damn fine rolls by the Jacobites saw them take an early lead though. Needing to burn the buildings meant that the government men could never quite co-ordinate their killing potential to the same degree.

So Castagne is finally dead. Frost retreats in ignominy, and Father McCruil has something to crow about. I wonder what will happen next in Western Scotland, 1745..?

Midst Battle's Din is available exclusively here.

N.B. The flames stay on the roof because they are just cotton wool on 20mm bases (and therefore light), and the roofs have not been brushed with PVA, so they have a little grip, especially if you manage to get a little friction going between them and the wool.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Glorious Cattle Raid, 723AD

We had a five player game of Victory With Honour on Wednesday, with two warbands' worth of models on either side. It should have been RPG night, but unexpected Real Life (TM) stopped me from putting together an adventure, so we wargamed instead.

The Vikings, having just destroyed a village, gained 6 Victory points for each cow they got off the board-edge closest to the sea. The Saxons got 3 for each Viking slain. And of course, there was the ever-important Glory to play for too!

EDIT 26th July: I am aware that Lindisfarne in 793AD is the first recorded turn-up of the Vikings. The game was just played on the 23rd of July (7/23 in American terms), and it seemed a nice way to pick the date.

22pts Chief with double-handed axe
15pts Champion: Holder of the Gate
50pts 10 Companions
30pts Chief with Follow Me
11pts Champion: javelin
50pts Companions

30pts Chief with Whirlwind of Steel
25pts Chief with Scathing Insults
72pts 6 Champions with double-handed axes/javelins
40pts 16 Companions
The Vikings pour out of the village.

A Saxon shieldwall forms.

The battle was a bloody one! Dozens died and we did not think it too many. Vikings filled the narrow house by the bridge, and the wounds they inflicted on the Saxon shieldwall did not whiten. Great was the slaughter as blood flowed like water, with honour we died said our maidens with pride. Many died to warriors of renown, thus gaining a place for their names in history. Those men too felt the cold kiss, but were felled by enemy hosts not skill at arms, and so their reputations remain untarnished.
Fulgrim the Whirlwind of Steel breaks the Saxon line.

Viking hirdmen herd the cows away (hee).

Black shields meet bright ones and blood stains the water.

The "cow convoy" approaches the bloody bridge.

Champion vs Champion, Chief vs Chief

The Saxon Chief directs the bridge's defence masterfully.

Saxon Companions scare away the Viking cattle.

Fulgrim distracts the Saxon chief to let the cows get away.

In the end, it all came down to the last turn. The Saxons had scattered some of the cattle, but the Vikings had got quite a few off already. The victory points were neck and neck. Would the chief die? Would the cattle get away? As the dice clattered to a halt, the Vikings had won by one cow.

And the glory? The glory points were 24-19 in the Vikings' favour. A glorious victory, and well deserved!

The game cracked along very well whenever we were playing it, though we digressed on occasion at great length. The best bit was seeing the roleplayers who started off disappointed at not being able to play the game they were expecting get really really into playing their Dark Age part in the battle. Everyone had fun, that's the main thing. A nice easy game like Victory With Honour is a nice palate cleanser occasionally, particularly with all the work I've been doing on bigger, badder wargames and RPGs recently. I'm sure we'll play again soon, although Of Gods & Mortals is picking up at the club in a big way at the moment, and I have foolishly been reading Slaine...

Sunday, 13 July 2014

New Pulp!

Having been inspired by the pulp issue of WI to write my own game, I made a few extra models to play with.

The first set are Les Gendarmes Coloniales, a group of North African police
mostly concerned with hunting criminals and skirmishing with tribesmen - not that adventurous foreigners should consider themselves safe! They are Wargames Factory Americans with Wargames Factory German caps for the sergeants and Perry Desert Rat shemaghs for the constables. They did not quite fit, but a little hacking and a little creative placement seems to have sorted things out.

The whole gang - Captain, Sergeants and Constables.
The chief. "Surrender or I pull the pin!"
A sergeant on patrol.
Another sergeant. "Surrender or I shoot him".
The drunk constable.
The overly serious constable.

A constable chasing his man - "stop him!"

A constable shooting a rooftop criminal.

An over-armed constable.

Sometimes scaring tribesmen requires a big gun.
The captain has a bare head, the sergeants wear caps and the constables have shemaghs - it makes it easier to pick them out during play. As career policemen,
Captain Castagne and the two individually pictured sergeants (I forgot to snap the sniper) both have the "Surrender!" power, allowing them to attempt to force their enemies to give up.

The next is a famous character from the Golden Age of comics and the silver screen as well. I won't name this Bolt Action conversion, largely because I'm sure his shield will do it for me.

The only non-Warlord piece on this plastic conversion is his shield, from an old Bretonnian model. The star comes from a Battlefront 15mm transfer set.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Some Corner of the Six Day War

I bought really quite a lot of sprues in Warlord's half price sale last year in a grandiose plan to add to my Chain of Command collection. That went nowhere. This year, having written Some Corner of a Foreign Field, I tried to think of ways to adapt those models to a post-war environment. Only having to paint up a squad instead of a platoon to get a game going is a great incentive to paint in my book. If you want a battle report, go here or here! 

Thanks to an accidental peruse of the WI issue going over Battlefront's Six Day War releases, I noticed that a lot of the kit used in that conflict was ex-WWII – crucially, surplus British and American equipment, which was exactly what I needed to use up. A little bit of digging around and some conversions later, I had three squads ready to go – Israeli leg infantry (a bit too dark), Israeli Paratroopers, and a squad of Jordanian leg infantry.  

That led me to investigate Suez too, and soon I will be morphing my Jordanians as Egyptians to fight against British, French and Israeli paratroopers of the time.

In all, I used Warlord Games' British and American bodies, heads & weapons, TAG FN FALs, Wargames Factory Uzis & WWII German arms/weapons (Israeli paratroopers had three Mauser 98ks per squad).

I'm actually very happy with how my lezard camouflage came out, especially since I rarely attempt such awkward uniforms. Luckily, French post-war camouflage tended almost exclusively toward horizontal stripes, so I didn't need to get clever with my brush strokes. I may go back over the models to highlight their skin at some point, but it seems that Middle Eastern flesh looks much better under a wash than European skin does.

The main mistake I made was not putting a bipod on those FALs chosen to be the heavy-barrelled version, but I noticed too late and I don't really mind. They are still easy to tell apart as they are the only kneeling models with that particular weapon. I also gave the Jordanians Lee-Enfields instead of M1 Garands because I was clipping sprues on autopilot – but really, that just makes it easier to morph them as Suez-era Egyptians.

I hope you enjoy these cheap examples of 28mm models for an under-covered conflict.

Jordanian Infantry Squad

Jordanian Infantry Squad

Israeli Paratroopers

Israeli Paratroopers in more natural light.

Israeli Infantry

Israeli Infantry "Samal"

Israeli Paratrooper "Samal"

Jordanian Infantry corporal

Painting Scheme
GW Khemri Brown – Israeli uniforms
Foundry 12C Drab – Jordanian uniforms
Vallejo Brown Olive – Jordanian & Israeli helmets, paratrooper fatigues, grenades
Foundry 46C Cadaverous Green – Paratrooper uniform base
Foundry 98B Denison Green – Paratrooper stripes
Foundry 126C African Flesh – Paratrooper stripes
Foundry 100C British Uniform – Skin
Foundry 9B Boneyard – Paratrooper helmets & boots, Israeli webbing
Foundry 121A Dark African Flesh – Boots & gunmetal, Israeli helmet straps, hair
Foundry 90C British Equipment Canvas – Jordanian webbing & gaiters
Foundry 45A Deep Brown Leather – woodwork, cigars

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Nottingham Young Wargamers - Victory with Honour

As Tom has already mentioned, the Nottingham Young Gamers event took place a week or two ago, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the half dozen adults showing the youngsters the non-GW side of wargaming.

I was responsible for GMing a "Hadrian's Wall" skirmish game between Romans and Celts, and like any GM, I took four players at a time - two per team. Both rounds lasted about an hour, so the children had the chance to take part in more than one activity.

The game was played using my own quickplay ruleset Victory With Honour, which uses two scales for victory: tactical victory and Glory. The simple addition of a secondary victory mechanic sends most players nuts (in a good way) - especially children - and gets them fighting like their ancestors, with one eye on victory and the other on their reputation.

One round was a minor victory to the Celts and a moral victory to the Romans, and the other was a glorious Celtic victory. Watching the children scheme and pick their targets was great fun, as was hearing an eight year old say very seriously to his friend: "William, we have to start killing people now."

Anyhoo, here are lots of pictures of Mr Morris' lovely sub-Roman fortifications and the models he did up for his old school wargaming club.