Saturday, 28 July 2018

Battle of Reams Station 1864 : Brigade Fire & Fury v2

ACW is a popular era to play at the DWG so when a new version of Brigade Fire & Fury came out, we all looked around to see which person in the club would be the first to weaken.

Steve Land was that person and so we agreed to put on a game in 15mm to see what had changed and if was for the better.

There are three scenarios included in the book and we chose the smallest one to make sure that we actually finished it during club hours. Steve has also done a rough précis of the differences between the three sets, BFF, RFF and BFF2 which I will include at the end.

The table was set out as per the book as best as we could make it and the scenario set a twelve turn limit with the last two turns being twilight, we also made sure to play all the special rules. I have included a map which outlines the actual battle and can be used to follow our game.

Map of Reams Station 1864: Civil Wars Trust

Onto our Game:
Wilcox’s division was the only Confederate formation on the table and it headed straight towards the Union entrenchments, Smyth’s Union Brigade coming on table, marched quickly up the road towards the rest of its division.

In their first assault Wilcox’s four brigades had varying degrees of success, McGowan and Anderson faltered due to losses and disruptions on the approach, Scales managed to charge in but bounced back however Connor’s Brigade carried the defensive position forcing the Consolidated Brigade back and overrunning a battery but seeing the blue hordes waiting for them they sensibly decided to withdraw back over the defences to rejoin the rest of the division.

By turn 3 Heth had arrived and his Division started to take up position on the right of the Confederate line with the artillery forming up in the centre. Smyth’s Brigade seeing these developments stopped their march and turned to defend woods on the Union left, two cavalry units in the rear mounted up to assist.

Turn 4 saw Hampton's dismounted cavalry arrive down the road from the extreme right which drew the attention of Smyth and the two cavalry brigades on that flank. These units fought it out until the end of the game with the Union cavalry repeaters making a telling difference.

By turn 6 the Confederates were ready to try again with Heth assaulting from the right and Wilcox again attacking head on. With so many targets the Union forces couldn’t stop them all especially Heth’s fresh division who smashed over the walls breaking through Murphy’s Brigade, Wilcox’s battered division with help from Weisiger's on loan Brigade finished off Broady’s stout defence and had a breakthrough charge into Rugg’s fresh unit. Despite being Green against Crack they stopped the weakened Confederates and pushed them back.

Steadman’s cavalry who had been held on picket duty out on the Union right had been released by Wilcox’s first assault crossing the railway line and quickly moved around to join the action, their repeaters could crumble the Confederate left and combined with Lynch’s fresh brigade which was advancing alongside them, looked like they could be a serious threat. Fortunately the only repeating they did was repeatedly missing everything in sight.

By now both sides had lost sufficient stands to reach the Heavy Casualties condition (Union 13 stands 20%, Rebs 19 stands 30%) and the Union having lost slightly more became the side with Greater Losses, both of these events had an effect on all future manoeuvre dice rolls (-1 for Heavy and -2 for Greater).

Smyth’s Brigade still fighting out in the woods got caught between Hampton’s cavalry and one of Heth’s brigades and were broken as well.

With the Confederates over the walls in strength, Greater losses and only two fresh brigades, the Union forces retreated as per real life.

The scenario is quite well done and I would recommend it to be played.

As for the rules, I think when I briefly flicked through them on an earlier visit I labelled them Regimental Brigade and Fury, now after playing them I think that’s unfair. I am not a fan of Regimental (i.e. will play them but never buying a set) and v2 Brigade has improved on the original by taking the best out of Regimental and weaving them into Brigade, the rules are noticeably still very much Brigade Fire and Fury and have been improved sufficiently to make buying a set worth while (if you can find any).

As I mentioned above, Steve did a rough outline of the differences for the players and which I have copied below:

From my memory only, the charge /shooting table is different in that it follows Regimental more than the old set as it depends on the target troop types for the effects (Green, Vets etc), which is OK, and I did like the more visible ability to adjust your brigade effectiveness when setting up so that not all similar sized Veterans automatically get the same three scores, This can be used to reflect tiredness or temporary poor morale/dissatisfaction etc.

Overall, my impression was positive and will try and get a set once they become available again.

This has been a Mr Steve production.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Clotted Lard - Devon Wargames Group

The Devon Wargames Group have teamed up with the chaps at Too Fat Lardies to host our very own Lardy Day of gaming on what would be our normal club day, the 8th September.

The club members were early adopters of all things Lard and the historical gaming that the club promotes fits well with the Lardy theme of playing the period not the rules.

We have nine games confirmed so far with the possibility of a tenth, with games ranging across the periods including Chain of Command, Kiss Me Hardy, Augustus to Aurelian, Sharp Practice and I Aint Been Shot Mum.

A game of Sharply in the Buff played at this month's club meeting with Colin's superb collection of figures and terrain

I myself will be running a Roman versus Dacian 28mm game featuring the new collection of figures using Augustus to Aurelian and the aim will be to run a game in the pre and post lunch period with some time in the afternoon to enjoy a Devon Cream Tea with real clotted cream and fresh jam.

The day will conclude with a gathering at a local hostelry followed by a curry in Exeter.

The club will be donating all, after expenses, monies to the veterans mental health charity Combat Stress.

If you fancy joining us for a day of great gaming in beautiful Devon with an authentic Devon Cream Tea to boot then there are a few places still available and can be booked at the email address mentioned above and where you can get more information about the games planned.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

To The Strongest - Saxons vs Romano-British

One of three games played at the club this weekend was using a new set of rules to the Devon Wargames Group, 'To the Strongest' (TTS) by Mr Simon Miller, which has now moved more recently to cover the English Civil War, 'For King And Parliament'.

This was first opportunity to have a go at playing these and I am always up for playing new sets of rules to better understand what they have to offer in terms of systems of play and the games they create.

As you can see from our table set up, the position of units, terrain and indeed working out movement is governed by a gridded board or mat in any format you choose, provided the squares are obvious to the players.

The two armies are set up as per the guidelines in the rules , with the extreme flank columns left clear of units and with the Romano Brits (above left) fielding small infantry units and plenty of cavalry with a camp (wagon model) in the rear. Likewise the Saxons are similarly arrayed but with larger deeper infantry formations and much less cavalry.

The difference in the opposing infantry meant only one large Saxon unit (three figures deep) could occupy a square but their size allowed them to absorb three disruptions or hits before being dispersed, whereas the Romano Brits (two figures deep) could put more than one unit in per square but could only sustain two hits per unit.

The armies were organised around three divisions each with generals for each division commanding a unit indicated by a rather large banner, whilst veteran units carried a smaller banner and bulk standard types having no banner.

Although dice are visible we were using them to mark the number of javelins available to our skirmish units as TTS uses a double deck of playing cards per side, with, in our game, the picture cards removed, to generate activation and combat scores with Aces low representing a one through to ten double deck.

The basic premise is that units are activated by the player announcing what he proposes to do and checking to see if that proposal is an easy or difficult manoeuvre. The difficulty rating sets the bar in terms of the score on the card turned required to allow the chosen unit to carry out its planned activation, subject to any other factors that might raise or lower the difficulty.

Thus a simple advance in open terrain by a fresh unit requires the player to turn any card higher than an Ace to proceed. That unit then may continue to a second activation but now not only having to assess the level of difficulty but to turn another card with a higher score than the first.

Thus if your first card turned is an 8 or 9, you get that pleasure buzz knowing you can complete your move but that heart-sink realisation that you are probably going to struggle to do another in that turn.

As with movement, combat is similarly governed by players turning of opposing cards to decide hits versus saves with scores required based on unit type its weapons or armour etc.

Thus where dice would normally be the chance factor resolution the game mechanism is to use card scores.

Similarly where tape measures and 45 degree angle assessments would normally govern movement and facings here the grid pattern removes all that calculation and measuring by allowing units to move forwards backwards diagonally and decide whether they are facing in a particular direction and their position one to another.

The beauty of this system is that very large battles with numerous units on the table and the potential for multiple movements and combat calculations are noticeably speeded up and as units become drawn into a combat and pulled forward by decisions to engage opposing units, the flanks begin to open up and, if as in this case, one army is particularly strong in cavalry, so do the rear areas.

Attacks on the rear or flanks of units are, as you would expect, particularly punishing and multiple such attacks from both flanks and rear, even more so.

Our game saw the two lines gradually come together and for some while hung in the balance as the two started to batter each others opposing infantry with hits.

This battering then poses the decision points in the game as to whether to rally off hits or take the chance of carrying on regardless in the attempt to inflict them instead.

Meanwhile the faster moving cavalry units can look to evade and break off to seek out the vulnerable areas in the opposing line already heavily engaged to their front.

As units are removed from the table, the effect is to remove points from the army morale score, recorded by the removal of a number of coins from a total indicating that particular forces morale.

Once all the coins are gone so is your army! I know because I was in that army and with Romano British cavalry in and around the Saxon flanks and at one stage attacking the camp things very quickly moved from 'that doesn't look good' to 'rally the Hearthguard, I think it's time to leave'.

What strikes me about TTS is that large games can be played to a conclusion and that multiple games are playable in one session, which is great for a club.

The rules will also work very well with large numbers of players given that the game sequence becomes very quickly picked up and turns of play start to happen very quickly once players have determined what and in what order they intend to do, again great for club games.

The other added attraction for getting into TTS is that everything needed to play, bar the painted armies, is available on Simon's web page including, gridded mats, army morale coin markers through to Simon's prepared irregular edged bases for your units (something I really like) not to mention free army lists.

I had a great afternoon getting yet another whipping from Jason playing a dark ages themed game. Fortuna is being particularly offish at the moment, probably time for a sacrifice!

Thanks to Jason for pulling our game together with his lovely figure collection and also to Nathan, Chris, Jack and Charlie for a very fun game.