Thursday, 18 September 2014
Monday, 15 September 2014
I did use some commercial rules back in the early 1980s - mainly the WRG Horse and Musket rules - so that I would have some opponents in club games. But ever since my involvement in club gaming diminished in the mid-1980s, self-written rules have been the norm.
Like all sets of rules mine are pieced from many sources and ideas, but nearly always they can trace their roots back to the days of Featherstone, Grant, Young or Gilder. My rules concepts have pretty much settled now and involve a couple of key modules that can be modified to suit the period. I have used a version of the activation table that has a faint similarity to the original Fire and Fury, I have used a hit and save method for all types of combat - both firing and close combat - and a very simple army morale.
Anyone who has ever gamed with me will probably tell you that my ideas change like the weather, which is probably true, because I am rarely satisfied with the way things work out. But then again my rules are not for publication.
I make my living in the aviation publishing sector and have realised that certain key elements in this medium can be applied to wargames rules. In aviation we use two publications to fly airplanes. One is the operating manual, that contains all of the normal procedures together with descriptions of all the aircraft systems. The other is the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) that contains all the non-normal procedures. Pilots rarely use the operations manual in flight but nearly always use the QRH because it contains everything they need to know for general operations in one place as a series of checklists.
So I have applied this QRH concept to my rules. For most periods of play I operate eight standard checklists The checklists are:
• Close Combat
• Leader Casualties
• Army Morale.
By following the logic of the checklists, the player is led easily through the game turn, providing all of the basic information required. These two examples from the Crimean War QRH are the checklists for activation and firing.
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Once again, after a hearty breakfast we headed up to the garage for the first game of the day, a scenario set in Belgium in 1914. The rules for this game were that it had to be finished by 12:20 so that we could play the late war game in the afternoon.
The Belgians were already deployed in the town. The British were advancing up the road that led southwest and the French were just appearing on the Charleroi road (that ran south from the town). The German players had made their plans the evening before and were ready to move onto the table. At 08:30 we started the game.
The Belgians in the town, the HMG behind the barricade
The Germans chose to bring two companies, supported by a section of artillery and two HMGs, from the east of the town on the lower road and the third, supported by two HMGs and two batteries on call from the north of the town. At the same time the German jagers and uhlans, supported by a jager HMG deployed near the farm house.
The Belgian guide cavalry, deployed forward on the hill east of the town, rode forward dismounted and engaged the Germans approaching from the east, while Major Poirot went in search of fuel for the armoured car.
The German infantry advance from the east
Captain Hastings, with the British column marched quickly up the road but were halted abruptly when the cavalry, that was leading the column, came under rifle fire from the Germans north of the town. The French dragoons meanwhile, entered the town along with Captaine Legrand in his taxi.
The British guns deploy to cover the infantry advance
The British guns deploy to cover the infantry advance
West of the town the Germans became tied up with the Guides and a platoon of French infantry, that were soon joined by the section of French artillery.
The Germans attempted to call their off table artillery, but failed to get a response.
Poirot finally found the fuel for the armoured car and refuelled it. But when he finally prompted Charles to get moving. The German artillery rained down on the road. The Armoured car bogged in a shell hole.
German guns shell the allied positions
German guns shell the allied positions
Meanwhile the British infantry was caught by the Germans advancing from the north and fell back under fire. When a messenger to Poirot was told that British help was not needed, Hastings began to withdraw to take up skirmishing with the uhlans and jagers.
The British move against the jägers and uhlans
The British take position, with the cavalry HMG in the centre
Finally Charles’ armoured car broke free of the shell holes and drove off the table, ending the game in the Allied favour.
We quickly stripped the table of all its hedges, trees and intact buildings, replacing the buildings with their ruined equivalents and the woods with destroyed woods, ready for the 1918 game. The difference between two terrains was incredible.
The table for the afternoon game
The ruined town
The scenario for the afternoon had four German companies, including one of storm troopers, defending the ruined village against a combined Anglo-French force, supported by tanks. Both sides had air cover.
The British advanced from the south west while the French advanced north. The French advance stalled almost immediately and ground to a complete halt when their only tank, an FT17 was destroyed by German gunfire. To make matters worse for the French, their only aircraft was shot down by rifle and light machinegun fire.
The British pressed boldly through the destroyed woods, pressing their Whippet tank in front.
Above, the British advance and below the British gins engage
The British brought on their aircraft and the Germans countered by bringing theirs on. The two pilots managed to avoid each other and concentrated on making some ground attacks.
The aircraft swirl around
The British infantry attempted to assault the town but were bloodily repulsed.
The Germans in the town
At the same time the Whippet attempted to drive through the German infantry north of the town, but bogged as it tried to cross the last obstacle.
The Whippet moves to attack, but bogs, then...
...breaks through the German line
The German anti-tank gun tried in vain to take out the British tank before it unbogged, but when the tank finally did free itself, it rolled over the infantry to its front and threatened the town from the north.
Here the game ended.
We cleared the table and retired to the house for wine, Calvados, a filllet of beef, great conversation and DVDs.
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Monday, 8 September 2014
We arrived at Lake Tarawera on the Tuesday afternoon. The first task was to clear space in the garage and set up the table. Then, as the first game organiser was setting up his terrain, the open fire was lit, dinner was put in the oven and the first bottle of wine was opened. Before dinner a briefing was given to each player for the first game, then we settled into an evening of good food, good wine and DVDs. Play was scheduled to commence at 0900.
The first game was a Napoleonic battle with a Russo-Prussian force attacking a Franco-Bavarian force. The game was played across the table, which measured 4.8 metres by 2 metres. Looking from the Russo-Prussian side, the left hand portion of the table, extending roughly one metre in from the left hand edge, was separated from the rest of the table by a river crossed by two bridges. Moving right, on the opposite side of the table, about half way between the river and the right hand edge of the table stood a large town, which was the significant objective in the game. To the right of the town and extending to the right hand table edge was a line of woods.
The Prussians (two brigades and a battery) deployed to the left the river while the Russians (two brigades, two batteries and a cavalry brigade) deployed on the right. The French (two brigades, one cavalry brigade and a battery) and Bavarians (two brigades, one cavalry brigade and two batteries) were to the left and right of the town, respectively. I commanded the Prussians.
The Prussians preparing to cross the river
The action developed quickly. The Prussians were quick to establish a bridgehead, but it would take them quite some time to get all their forces across the river and deployed.
In the meantime the Russians formed for the attack and rapidly approached the town that the Bavarians were beginning to occupy.
Desperate to hold the Russians back until their main forces could form up. A regiment of French lancers lunged at their Russian counterparts. The Russian troopers reacted and counter charged, but lost the melee and tumbled back past others in the brigade, shaking them on the process. When the lancers struck a second Russian cavalry unit on the breakthrough, two thirds of the Russian cavalry was in rout. The Russians then charged the pursuing French lancers and put them to flight, but a single French cavalry unit had forced the Russians to commit all of their cavalry and given them time to form their infantry lines.
In the meantime the Prussians had crossed the bridges and formed for battle. They were formed in two parts, with one brigade in front of each of the bridges. The brigade in front of the upper bridge deployed unopposed on its objective, the road that ran off the table at that point. The other brigade found itself in an awkward position deploying in two small woods and in the small gap between them. At that very moment five battalions of Polish infantry arrived and charged the Prussians. The Poles drove through a Prussian battery and put two battalions to flight. A breakthrough drove off another Prussian battalion, before the Prussians were able to consolidate and drive the Poles off, although one Polish battalion managed to sustain itself in one of the woods for quite some time.
On the Russian front the left of the line continued to engage the French, but were getting the worst of it, while the Russians on the right were slowly driving the Bavarians from the woods to the right of the town.
As night fell the Russians held onto the woods on the right, but could not push any further, while the Franco-Bavarians held the town. What decided the action was that Prussians were consolidated on their objective – the road that dominated the Franco-Austrian line of communications.
The Prussians secure the position on the Franco-Bavarian line of communications
With the battle ended we retired to the house to light the fire, prepare the food and pour the wine, while the next game was set up. Again before dinner, and before the effects of wine had a detrimental effect, the briefing for the Thursday game was given.