Tuesday, 31 December 2013

James Bond in North Devon

Between Christmas and New Year the Devon Wargames Group relocates to North Devon and under Chas Carter our North Devon Gamiester we like to indulge in a little frivolity. Last year we were in the Forest of Nottingham donning Lincoln Green and wearing tights. This year, to the soundtrack of nearly every Bond theme you can think of, we staged our own movie set up with a host of heroes and villains from the 60s and 70s.

There is only one Bond and he's still the best, played by Nick
Our rule set for the day was 7TV by Crooked Dice Company which played perfectly for a large group of players many of us unfamiliar with these rules.

Jack Lord before Hawaii Five 0 as Felix Leiter played by JJ

Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart of UNIT, played by Everett
Ursula Andress as Honey Rider played by Nick 

The Ninja captain played by Will

Donald Pleasence was the best Ernest Stavro Blofeld played by Vince
Hugo Drax played by Chas

Rosa Kleb deadly with a size 4 played by Tom

Odd Job played by Vince

Jaws played by Vince

Scaramanga "I only need one shot" played by Steve M
So with our cast of characters set, its cameras and action!

The story has reached its climactic end with Bond, the CIA, local Devon Ninjas and UNIT about to launch a combined surprise attack on Blofeld's secret underground base beneath Torquay Town Hall. It is here under the guise of his front company TorGaz that the evil leader has explored for shale gas in the local area but has in fact developed a secret missile launch pad, which will deliver an Ozone destroying rocket to explode over London thus driving up property prices outside of the capital and thus increasing the value of Blofeld's South West property empire. You couldn't make it up!!

A base very similar to ours

On set, some of the stars go through their lines with actor/director Chas

The OZONE rocket on the launch pad

View from the control room

The Security room and lockers
All was well as the tannoy announced the launch sequence and requested Kleb and Scaramanger to check the secruity at the main entrance and in the generator room. Blofeld and Drax seemed unconcerned as the rocket launch crew proceeded to their stations.

Something was up!

Blofeld, Jaws and Odd-Jobb look concerned
Suddenly the sound of gunfire erupted from the generator room as the Ninjas commenced their attack. Unfortunately these Devon Ninjas had been trained by Miss Piggy and they turned out to be a right bunch of Muppets. The guards seemed to have things under control as Rosa Kleb entered the room and assessed the situation.
Suddenly the alarm sounds

The Ninjas attack without warning in the generator room

Ninja action
The fight with the Ninjas swung backwards and forwards with Kleb getting stuck in literally.

Rosa Kleb joins the fight with the Ninjas
With gunfire echoing in the rocket launch chamber, Bond made preparation to break out from the security room.

Bond held prisoner with Honey Rider and other local community leaders plans his escape
Meanwhile, the CIA undercover agents led Felix Leiter and his men into the base under the ruse that they were prisoners. The guard on the door became suspicious and his conversation drew the attention of Odd-Job and Jaws.

Felix Leiter and the CIA infiltrate the base. Odd-Job and Jaws are suspicious
As the fight in the security room kicked off with Bond and his group, the CIA team made their move and opened fire on the guard, Jaws and Odd-Job, wounding Jaws with a shotgun.

Bond makes a break for it while Honey Rider deals with the guards
Suddenly the main doors were blasted open as the UNIT assault team burst into the rocket hall, firing bazooks and machineguns as they charged. The defenders led by Scaramanger returned fire and several UNIT men fell. These guys had fought Cybermen so would not be easily stopped, but both sides were firing gas bombs which caused disruption to both groups as men were overcome by the noxious fumes.

Suddenly UNIT burst in through the main entrance as the roof doors slide back
The fighting in the base was a war of attrition as the heroes on each team struggled to destroy the enemy and gain ascendancy, whilst Blofeld kept his guard close by in the control room and focussed on lauching his rocket. Would Bond and his allies be able to stop the relentless countdown?

Suddenly the lights and power were down, Will the Ninja captain, had dodged Rosa Kleb and her men and reached the generator control shutting down the power and stopping the launch sequence. Blofeld screamed into the tannoy with rage for the power to be reconnected. Meanwhile the fighting was now in the dark, and torches were in demand.

Scaramanga holds off UNIT
The power out helped the CIA team to dodge the counterattack by Jaws and Odd-Job all though two of their number were felled by the bowler hat. Felix Leiter charged the two guards on the door and fought his way in, keeping them occupied as Bond made his exit with Honey Rider and a foxy looking Science officer carrying what look like a bomb.

Felix deals with Bond's guards
Meanwhile outside an heroic CIA man kept the A team of badness at bay as Bond found his way to the control room dispatching several guards on route.

CIA man holds off Odd-Job, Jaws and the guard
Blofeld oblivious of the threat that loomed as Bond entered the control room focused on the launch sequence as the power came back on.

Blofeld issues order over the tannoy
Bond's accuracy with his shooting quickly overcame Blofelds guards (which was more than we could say for Scramanger - Steve was having a mare of a day with the dice gods) and Honey Rider and the Science Officer moved to place a bomb on the launch control and set the timer to three pips on a d6. Strange bomb but there we are!

Suddenly Bond is in the control room
Blofeld looked cornered as Bond closed in, but suddenly Bond remembered his cat allergy and too late, Blofeld was gone as he recovered from the inevitable sneeze.

Hugo Drax tries to stop the bomb
As Bond and the girls looked to evacuate the control room before the bomb went of, they were forced to retreat as Odd-Job and Drax closed in. One of Bond's gunmen was hit by the bowler hat and his blood spattered all over the bomb.

This had severe consequences, for as Drax went to pick up the bomb and throw it from the control room, it slipped from his hands (he rolled a one). He tried again, surely he would save the launch this time, but no, the bomb slipped from his grasp yet again (he rolled another one) and bang the bomb went off destroying the control panel and stopping the launch. Drax and Odd-Job were on the floor stunned by the blast.

It's too late, Drax and Odd-Job are caught in the blast
In the meantime Rosa Kleb had finished off the remaining Ninjas, only top fall in a hail of bullets as UNIT entered the generator room and, seeing the power switch board, quickly set a charge and destroyed the system once and for all.

UNIT destroy the generator to ensure the launch is stopped
As the smoke cleared, Drax and Blofeld slipped away to their emergency pedalo and made their way out to sea and the safety of Brixham where their seaplane was moored. London and the national property price imbalance was saved for the nation. Bond had done it again!!

Thanks to Chas for what has to be the most laughs generated in a game all year. The laughing never stopped and the Bond puns were ongoing as Nick, our James Bond, sent his two female heroines ahead of him as he entered every room. All the CIA men were killed except who survived his encounter with Odd-Job and Jaws Thanks also to Nick, Vince, Everett, Steve M, Tom and Will my fellow co stars for a great day.

The Devon Wargames Group wishes everyone a very happy new year and looks forward to more wargaming fun in 2014

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Battle of Topsham 1689 - Beneath the Lilly Banners

This month was the occasion for our annual Christmas game at the Devon Wargames Group where traditionally we stage just one game that all club members are invited to play. The game is very much intended as a celebration event where the taking part is more important than the result. In addition the members pull out the stops in providing nibbles and beverages to help lubricate the fun on the table.

Our game this year features the 28mm collection of WSS/Glorious Revolution figures owned by Chas and Vince and utilised a great set of rules, "Beneath the Lilly Banners" for a large multi-player game as this was planned to be. In addition our scenario carried on where a previous game staged in January 2012, The Battle of Lavington left off. Thus we have Prince William returning to the shores of England landing in the South West at Topsham nr Exeter gathering new forces to continue the struggle. King James has responded by bringing his army supported by Irish and French contingents to Devon to crush the rebellion before it can get started.

King James II
Our game finds the two armies drawn up for battle between the hamlets of Topsham and Lympstone.

Prince William of Orange
Meanwhile back in the 21st century the Devon Wargames Group prepares to go large and get all the toys out on the table.
Prince William's forces

King James' host
Chas was our gamemeister for the day and following the arranging of forces and terrain gave the players a briefing on the situation. The table below shows the field of battle from King James' lines with Topsham on the left, Exton in the middle and Lympstone on the right.

Chas briefs the teams
Yeah, yeah, let's play!
There was no shortage of provisions with plenty of nibble and festive food, happily consumed during play.

The army marches on its stomach

Forces allotted, it was time to deploy, with cards detailing the possible morale grades for the various brigades which needed to be diced for once set up, including the grade of the commander.

View from the Protestant lines overlooking Lympstone and Lympstone Hill
Additional cards were distributed, some blank, some with special attributes granted to troops under that commander and some indicating the desire to join the other army and betray former comrades, oh dear, I was that traitor to the cause!!!

Looking along Willam's line towards the garrisoned town of Topham (top right)
The little town of Topsham, on the River Exe, was deemed important to both sides as it was the base for all of William's support from the Netherlands, and would be utterly disastrous if it fell into enemy hands. The game result would be shifted in the favour of the side holding the town. Thus a major victory would become minor, minor a draw.

William's troops garrison Topsham
All players selected a brigade, usually of about three to four infantry battalions, some with a cavalry squadron or two attached. I was initially serving with Prince William's army commanding two brigades of cavalry, each of four squadrons. I was placed in the most favourable terrain for cavalry, out on the extreme left flank facing Lympstone. It was here that the battle's deciding action would occur, and unfortunately for Prince William, my two set up cards told me that I was secretly a supporter of King James and would lead one of my brigades over to his cause, testing each squadron individually to see who would follow me. The other card said I would charge an enemy brigade at the first opportunity gaining a +2 advantage in combat in the first round.

With the terrain generally benefiting the infantry the forces matched each other across the table, with William's army strongly garrisoning Topsham and Exton, the latter with Dutch Guard, who I would end up tackling later in the game.

So with forces arrayed both armies advanced on in the centre and the Lympstone flank with James' army masking Topsham with a covering force of infantry. With the bulk of William's cavalry, I advanced on Lympstone sending the loyal brigade on to Lympstone Hill above the village to gain up hill advantage. The other, hopefully disloyal brigade, advanced on Lympstone village, just about to be entered by James' Irish infantry. I immediately attempted to send a courier to these troops commander to advise them of my intentions. However my messenger was intercepted and Prince William was advised of my treachery.

William's horse advance on to Lympstone Hill
With my treachery revealed there was no other option other than to order my brigade to follow me in a wheel and attack our former comrades flank on, on Lympstone hill. Needless to say the Irish brigade in Lympstone were a little surprised to see this move, and given the long range did not open fire.

My treachery revealed, the whole brigade supports my change of side and direction
Lympstone is occupied by James' Army
French Huguenot Infantry in support of the Topsham Garrison

King Jame's Guard lead the attack on Exton
Christmas cake anyone?

The loyalty check complete all four of my squadrons charged up the hill and smashed into William's loyal squadrons. Three of them decided discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew immediately. One however contested the attack and found the +2 advantage to my men was irresistible.

The cavalry battle for Lympstone Hill as William's cavalry fights each other!

The Irish in Lympstone had been preparing to receive cavalry, look on in amazement.
The cavalry battle went back to and fro for a few moves, but in Lilly Banners cavalry squadrons get used up quite quickly and with the balance in favour of James the flank combat shifted towards Exton in the centre tenaciously held by the Dutch.

William's Dutch Guard prepare to shore up his flank by grimly defending Exton
James' Guard meet William's Guard in Exton as the battle for the centre hots up
The battle for Exton became a protracted affair of musketry as the elite infantry of both sides swapped volleys in a battle of attrition where weight of numbers would be the decider. It was James who held the advantage as William had been forced to commit his reserve in a desperate attempt to shore up his left flank.

With volleys being exchanged, James brings up artillery to support the attack

You could almost hear the sigh of resignation as the Franco-Bavarian brigade of King James' reserve deployed in front of Exton and advanced on the badly shot up and depleted Dutch. In three turns it was over and despite a last minute attempt to break out of Topsham, Prince William conceded defeat.

William's Prussian allies were forced to hold their ground with a card directing their reluctance to fight

The remnants of William's cavalry are forced off Lympstone Hill as enemy infantry advance
Much fun was had by all, and many thanks go to particularly Chas who had the job of cat herding for the day as he arranged the scenario, set up the game and got everyone organised about what they should be trying to do.

So another year comes to a close for the club. Next month, January 2014, we are planning some WWII Chain of Command action and some ACW Fire and Fury. In addition there will be some fun with James Bond and characters to report on as we get in some gaming in North Devon at Chas's between Christmas and New Year.

With Lympstone Hill cleared of Williams troops James' army prepare to attack the centre around Exton

The centre ground, Exton from William's lines with Dutch Guard in occupation
The left flank from William's Line, very much in enemy control
Topsham becalmed as events elsewhere determine its fate
French infantry prepare to force the entry of Topsham
The Irish infantry attack William's extreme left flank
As the Irish attack, pressure grows on the Dutch in Exton
Top left, James deploys his reserve (led by yours truly), Bavarian allies move up to finish Dutch resistance in Exton
Suddenly William's centre has gone and James troops claim the high ground
The Franco-Bavarian reserve move on Exton

Too little too late the Topsham garrison attempt a break out