Monthly Archives: March 2011

Labyrinth (the War on Terror) – 13/03/2011 (Nick)

I’ve played lots of “Twilight Struggle”, so I pretty much ignored this when it came out as I thought it would be more of the same, even though people on BGG were raving about it. Two things made be buy it when I spotted it in Orc’s Nest when I was up the West End last week – I noticed that, unlike Twilight Struggle, it could be played solo, and I had just come into a bit of money from selling off a load of plastic kits at the Cavalier Bring and Buy in Tonbridge.

The components are beautiful with a mounted mapboard from the off (unlike Twilight Struggle). We rolled for sides, and I was the Jihadists, though without much of a clue how to play as either side, it didn’t really matter. A quick read through the actions card and we were off. Nick had played a couple of games before, but we still managed to get some rules wrong – e.g. one of the terrorist actions is a major Jihad, and to succeed they have to roll less than or equal to the country’s governance level on 2 out  of 3 dice. I failed to do this 3 or 4 times running, but we forgot that major jihads add a besieged regime marker, so the next attempt only needs one success on 3 dice to succeed – a failure also moves the alignment to the left, from adversary to neutral to ally for example – doh!! Nick was able to pick off my Islamist states by regime change actions as it was taking my jihads so long to succeed and he never had to divide his actions. It’s also really difficult to keep track of all the score tracks on the board, as moving the markers gives bonuses or minuses to various die rolls, but I think this will come with experience.

When we had to pack up after 4 hours, there were about 2 turns worth of cards left in the deck, but I think a one time through the deck game would be do-able in the time we usually have when we know the rules and strategies a bit better. The Vassal module is probably not as good as the Twilight Struggle one just yet, but the game lends itself to e-mail play more-so than TS, so we will probably get to know the rules better by playing over Vassal before we try face-to-face again. I really enjoyed the game despite my lack of knowledge – recommended.

General de Brigade – 12/03/2011 (Solo)

A large scale tryout for the new edition of these rules – a French Infantry Division with a Cavalry Brigade in support against 2 British Infantry brigades with artillery support.

French Division

The scenario, for what it is worth, is that the British are retreating past the walled town when they are surprised by the French. They turn to fight, but the French attacks are not co-ordinated, with the General-de-Division feeding in a brigade at a time and ordering his cavalry to hold until ordered (he dislikes the peacock commanding the cavalry brigade). All of which gives me an excuse to try out different aspects of the rules in turn. The terrain is flat, with the British left flank resting on an impassable wood and the left resting on a walled town, which is out-of-bounds to both sides, though no-one seems to have told the 95th!

Rifles in the town

The 1st French brigade by the town comes on in attack columns covered by skirmishers. They have 1 Veteran battalion and 1 Line battalion in the lead, with two 2nd Line battalion bringing up the rear – they are of lesser quality then the 2nd brigade of 2 Veteran, 1 Line and 1 2nd Line battalions. The French artillery are ordered to engage the enemy to their front, so will be softening up the British for the 2nd brigade’s assault when their general decides it is time. The 1st brigade will be going in against 2 veteran British battalions (the Buffs and the Cameron Highlanders) with no artillery support. The British on the other hand have a RHA battery to support their left flank.

British Artillery

The French advance brings their skirmishers into contact with the Rifles and some light companies. The French skirmishers’ eye is in, and they cause 2 casualties (2 sixes on 4 dice) for none in return. The French artillery shot bounces over the Gordon Highlanders, but the RHA causes 3 casualties on the massed columns of the French 1st brigade, 2 on the Veteran battalion, and 1 on the battalion behind due to bounce through. Their skirmishers declare a charge on their British counterparts, who evade behind their main line. The columns continue their advance, taking a few casualties, with the rightmost column angling across so as to hit the same Cameron Highlanders regiment as the column beside them.  As this exposes their flank to the the Buffs battalion supporting the highlanders, the other French Brigadier decides now is the time to send in his brigade. He rolls to change his orders, needing a 6 on 2 dice and rolls – a 6…just! The second French brigade lumbers forward, forcing the RHA to switch targets away from the flank of the 1st French brigade.

Gordon Highlanders

Next turn the Brigadier of the 1st French brigade declares a charge for the 2 leading columns (as an average commander, he can only declare 2 charges per turn). To charge home, each column has to take a morale test after any defending fire is taken into account, and if they falter, they can get entangled with other charging columns. In this case, the column which exposed its flank suffered 6 casualties to fire from both British battalions, while the other column suffered 3. This put the veteran column at minus 7 off a 2D6 roll – they were lucky they only rolled a retreat result. The other column only being rated Line rolled a “halt” result, so although still formed it is standing still in front of a British line – not a good place to be if they can change their hold orders to charge next turn. If the halted column had have been able to charge, they would still have to roll a formation test to stop becoming entangled in the retreating column.

I had to stop at this point as I ran out of time – it wasn’t that the rules played slowly or anything, I simply didn’t have the time as I had to set up the table for another game the next day, and the 6 Nations Rugby on TV interupted the proceedings! I certainly enjoyed what I played and will give the rules another go, but they would be better played against an opponent than solo.

Portuguese 9th

I might need a bigger table if I am going to use these sorts of rules (he said laughingly – more like a new house) – 6′ x 4′ needs to be 8′ x 5′. My eyes are too old to paint 15mm (I sold all my 15mm a couple of years back), so 28mm is the scale for me now. I’ve resisted using Field of Battle (which I love for ACW) as it uses 4 base units and I like my 5 and 6 base battalions, but 4 gun French artillery batteries can take up to 10″ frontage, which is a lot of table. LaSalle also has a 4 base unit, but with the option for large units, and the new Die Fighting rules also don’t seem to concerned with unit sizes. We shall see….

Stalin’s War – 06/03/2011 (Nick)

Stalin’s War is a bit of a strange hybrid – it uses cards in the same way as Paths of Glory but has a hex grid on the board instead of point-to-point. The map is smaller than I thought it would be, and turns are 1 season. You don’t use a card to move units, so all units can move on a card play – you only need to spend an Ops point if you are the last unit to leave an enemy ZOC. Cards give Ops, Replacement points or events – if you play 2 ops in a row, then the 2nd gives you 1 less op point and the 3rd in a row gives you minus 2 etc, so it pays to use an event every now and again just to reset your ops. It ended up pretty historical after 4 hours and 5 seasons – I stopped the Axis short of Moscow, and Nick had turned south towards the oilfields where I was thinner on the ground.
There were a lot of fiddly rules which only applied for one turn or one card of a turn (e.g. Soviet Armies can’t attack German Panzer corps for the first few turns as they don’t have any AT capabilities – kept forgetting that one!) which was a bit of a turn-off. On the positive side, once we get the rules off, I reckon we could finish the tournament scenario in 4 hours, which isn’t bad for an Eastern Front game. The supply rule is brutal (like POG) – out of supply at end of turn – deaded right away – out of supply at start of combat – shift 1 column on CRT. As the Russian, trying for an orderly withdrawal, this led to difficulties and whole armies being eliminated – like I said, pretty historical….

Die Fighting

These rules landed on the doormat this morning from Bob Jones of Piquet fame.

"Die Fighting" cover

I’ve had a quick read and any rules which recommend you go to EM4 and buy over 100 dice are alright by me. Playtest to follow after dice delivery…

Get your copy at