Monthly Archives: December 2012

Board Wargames played during 2012

It’s apparent from the list below that Game of the Year for me has got to be “No Peace Without Spain”, both face-to-face and over Vassal. It’s also clear that there hasn’t been any boardgaming done since the Europe Engulfed marathon, but then there’s only been time enough for a couple of figure skirmish games of “Saga” and “Muskets & Tomahawks”.

The cockpit of Europe - No peace without Spain

The cockpit of Europe – No peace without Spain

Here’s the list by month:-

January – Fighting Formations (scenario 8)

February – No Retreat! The Russian Front x2

March – No Peace Without Spain x 2 & Washington’s War

April –

  1. FAB:Bulge
  2. FAB:Sicily
  3. Hellenes
  4. Thunder at the Crossroads
  5. No Peace Without Spain x 2 (both started on Vassal)

May – No Peace Without Spain

July – Wilderness War (Vassal)

September – Wilderness War

October – Europe Engulfed

Conspicuous by its absence is “Sekigahara” which I got for last Christmas and still lies unstickered. Next year I’m looking forward to “Cuba Libra”, “No Retreat – African Front”, “FAB Golan” and (if it makes the cut) the “Norway 1940” expansion for “PQ17” – all from GMT.

Happy New Year!

Saga (23/12/12 – Nick & Tom)

For our Christmas game this year we chose a 3-player game of Saga, specifically the Feast for Crows scenario where the victory conditions hinge on who kills the most enemy figures – perfect for a light-hearted afternoon’s play! Nick took Anglo-Danes, Tom took Scots out for their debut and I took Vikings – all fairly standard 4 point warbands. Normally Saga is on a 4’x3′ board but because this scenario is for 3-4 players it’s on a 4’x4′.  The opening turns saw lots of manoeuvring and no combat, probably because no-one wanted to double-move and accumulate fatigue. At first we thought we were going to get 2 games in as first 3 of 7 turns flew by with troops just moving, but then as the direction of Scots and Anglo-Dane moves panned out, it became clear that I was going to be the filling in a Scots/Danish sandwich – there’s gratitude for me painting up all the troops and laying on the game (and mince pies) at Christmas!

Here come the Danes!

Here come the Danes!

Because I was going to be attacked from 2 sides on turn 4 and I won the roll to go first, I took the fight to the enemy. I left a holding force against the Anglo-Danes whilst I concentrated on the Scots. I had never played against the Scot’s battle board before and as Tom produced ability after ability in the first melees I got very worried. I should have lost hands-down, but phenomenal dice rolling by me and poor rolling by the Scots gave me a head-start in victory points and bloodied the Scots’ nose, so they drew off for a bit of R&R in order to build up their damned abilities again.

Huscarls attempt to ambush some pigs

Huscarls attempt to ambush some pigs

The Anglo-Danes chose to keep their powder dry on this turn, but came on in the gap between the fence and the wood in 2 lines trying to stare down my holding force. As Vikings are better on attack my Berserkers charged the Anglo-Danish Huscarls next turn – I fluffed the rolls on 16+ attack dice and ended up losing the melee with 1 Berserker killed but this wasn’t too bad a result given my armour had been reduced to 2+ by those cowardly Danish abilities. Four ones were rolled against me and I saved all but one of the hits but failed to kill a single figure on 16 attack dice due to the Shieldwall ability and the use of fatigue. I thought I had got away with it, but then Nick activated the Push ability which lets the Anglo-Danes roll against the armour class of each figure in a disengaging unit and if they beat the armour class, the figure dies – as the armour class of Berserkers is 3 we could all see where this was going! Three Berserkers were hacked down, the unit ceased to exist, 4 VPs to the Anglo-Danes and fatigue given to the Warlord and Bondi units near it.

Berserkers attack

Berserkers attack

I was suffering badly on the abilities front having had 3 turns without rolling a 6 on orders dice, whilst the other 2 seemed to have no shortage of abilities. I was rolling well in melee though and next turn I repulsed a unit of Anglo-Danish Coerls with 5 casualties leaving a unit of 3 to polish off using Loki in my turn –  another 2VPs to me left me neck and neck with the Anglo-Danes whilst the Scots trailed quite a way behind.

On to the final turn – the eliminated Coerl unit left the Anglo-Dane Warlord within unobstructed charge range of my Warlord. He wanted to charge my unit of Bondi with his other unit of Coerls using the “We obey” ability meaning the Warlord would charge one unit whilst the unit he was ordering with his free activation would charge another. The Saga rules or FAQ doesn’t say anything to prevent this so we ruled it OK and I checked the Saga message board afterwards to confirm – this is all fine and above-board. By the time we had finished the last turn melees between Anglo-Danes and Vikings (and a few unwary troops on each side had died to save their Lords) the score was still tied at 9 apiece to Anglo-Danes and Vikings with 6 to the Scots. There was only one way for the Scots to bring about a 3-way tie and that was to kill the Viking Warlord – so he gave it a go.

More than 50mm - eek!

More than 50mm – eek!

As I only had 1 Bondi within 50mm (see above), if the Scots could get 3 hits through my Warlord would die – I sacrificed maximum attack dice for defence dice and as a result he could only manage 2 hits even with the use of all the abilities on his battle board. The closest Bondi died but the Warlord lived – worse for the Scots and the Anglo-Danes, even with my reduced attack dice (because I had concentrated on defence dice) I still managed a hit so the Scots had to lose a Hearthguard figure and gave a full VP and victory to me. I had a Warlord and 2 Bondi left standing…

The final VPs were – Vikings 10, Anglo-Danes 9 and Scots 7. The Anglo-Danes hadn’t lost a single Huscarl and the ones with Dane axes hadn’t even been engaged skulking in the farmyard as they were – 1 Scots unit of Warriors also remained unengaged. I spent the game worrying about the Scots battle board combos which are lethal, but in the end getting all my troops into combat and rolling better melee dice won the game for me – just as well as I couldn’t seem to roll up decent abilities to save my life. Once again we spent fatigue in melee rather than letting it build up but even apart from this I think there’s a lot of nuances in the system that we’ve yet to discover. Roll on the next time!

Happy Christmas to everyone!

Muskets & Tomahawks (08/12/12 – Solo)

I’m finally getting some gaming time after long drought – with Christmas approaching and some time off I’m hoping to get around to playing some rules that have been on the to-do pile for too long. As I’m playing Wilderness War on Vassal with Gary and have enough troops assembled for a basic game of Muskets & Tomahawks (which covers that conflict at a skirmish level) this was the obvious first choice. The game has a clever scenario generator which sets each side objectives in a quick and easy to use fashion. On my rolls, the British got the Defence objective where they have to prevent any enemy being inside or within 4″ of the buildings at the end of the game, whilst the French and their Indian allies got Engagement as an objective – kill 2/3 of the enemy troops by game end, which would be 17 figures in this case. An added element of the game is the side-plots for the officers which can adjust the level of victory – the British rolled high and would achieve their aim if they prevented the French from achieving their side-plot, which was “Authority” – none of the French Irregulars could get a “flight” or “rout” result on a Reaction roll or the officer would fail this objective. The British had 2 units of 7 Rangers who were Sharpshooters (can re-roll a ‘1’ on a to-hit roll) and 2 units of 5 militia. The French had 2 units of 7 Coureurs de Bois and a unit of 6 Huron allies – both sides had an Irregular officer to command the troops. The French could deploy 8″ in from their table edge, but the British had to deploy within 4″ of the buildings and had to leave 1/3 of their units in reserve – in a big mistake, I left off a unit of Rangers and put the Militia on the board – had I had both units of Rangers on, things might have turned out very differently…

Table Layout

Table Layout

The turn sequence is determined by the use of a card deck, but unusually all units of that type (not just the usual 1 unit) are activated by the card. For example, both units of Coureurs de Bois and the French Officer (an Irregular) would be activated on a French Irregular card being turned. Activations allow 1 action (2 for Regulars) such as move, fire, go on overwatch or reload and there are different numbers of cards in the deck for each troop type. There are 2 officer bonus cards in the deck, one for each side (“Forward Boys” for the British and “En Avant” for the French). These allow each officer to give himself or a unit of the same type as himself within 6″ an order – they also give elite troops an activation, but none of the troops in this skirmish were elite.

French Coureurs de Bois

French Coureurs de Bois

The first card up was the British Irregular card and the unit of Rangers took up position on the tree line by the river – the Event 2 card up next meant that there wouldn’t be an event this turn (there’s only an event if the Event 1 card is the first event card drawn). The first Indian card took the Hurons out of the ford to scout around the back of the hill. The British “Forward Boys” card allowed the officer to give the Rangers a fire order against the Coureurs unit on the bluff. Needing 6 to hit as it was over half range and the French were in dense terrain, but with a re-roll of 1’s because of the sharpshooter ability the 7 Rangers took down 1 Frenchman and provoked a reaction test. Because they were 6 models or over strong (just!) and had an officer within 6″, the +2 to the die roll allowed them to pass easily. When the Militia card came up next the Militia in the ploughed field set off to stop the Indian outflanking movement.

Indians cross the ford

Indians cross the ford

Then a French Irregular card came up and as as the British Rangers were unloaded, both Coureur units advanced – one across the bridge with their officer and one to the edge of the bluff hoping to engage the Rangers before their next card came up. After the Event 1 card, the “En Avant” card was drawn and the French officer sent the unit on the bridge to line the edge of the wall, setting up flanking fire on the Rangers by the riverbank. The British Milita were activated next, but the Inidans weren’t in range so the Militia set up on overwatch (or vigilance as the rules call it).

French line up volley

French line up volley

Unluckily for the Rangers the French Irregular card was turned next and 11 Coureurs opened up. Because their line had been flanked, some Rangers didn’t even get the benefit of cover and 5 out of the unit of 7 fell dead. Predictably, the obligatory morale test which followed was a disaster as even with their officer’s bonus they were -2 for suffering 3 or greater casualties AND rolling on a D3 as the unit was less than 3 models. The result was a flight – run away from the enemy, end up with your backs to them and lose all the remaining activations for your troop type for the remainder of the turn. To add insult to injury, the unit had to take a reaction test on its first activation next turn to see if it could act on that card. Next card was a British Irregular one, and the British officer wisely ran back from the riverbank to join the 2 Rangers fleeing it, then another British Irregular card took him behind a building out of the line of fire – not very officer-like!

Indians drive off militia

Indians drive off militia

An Indian card allowed the Indians to move within range of the Militia in the open who couldn’t spot them because they were in dense terrain and the French Irregular card then allowed all the Coureurs to reload. The Event 3 card was followed by another Indian card and 6 Indians at over half range fired at the Milita in the field. They needed 5+ to hit and 4+ to kill, but scored 4 hits and converted it to 3 kills. Even with an officer within 6″ the result (not helped by rolling on a D3 because of the losses impact on the unit size!) was rout and the Militia, in the tradition of all great Militias, melted into the surrounding countryside. The last French Irregular card allowed the Coureur unit on the bridge to move off it and the other Coureur unit to move along the riverbank with a view to crossing the bridge next turn. On the British Irregular card the Officer positioned himself ready to rally the Rangers next turn, and the last Militia card allowed the militia in the house to open fire at the French who had just run off the bridge – predictably they missed (not making one 5+ in 4 dice rolled). With the Indians reloading on their last card, the turn ended with British losses mounting – 10 dead or routed to 1 French dead.

Fleeing unit blocks bridge

Fleeing unit blocks bridge

The British roll to see if the reserve Ranger unit arrived failed but their Militia unit in the building finally pulled themselves together, reloading on the first card  drawn then firing at the Coureurs streaming across the bridge on the second one and even killing one, though the French passed their reaction test roll. A third Milita card in a row allowed the plucky lads to reload – even better, it was followed by a British Irregulars card. The Ranger unit rolled to see if they could act on the card, but they just failed, getting a recoil result which meant they had to move another 6″ away from the enemy though they ended up facing them. More importantly, they could act when their next card came up. Amazingly, the British “Forward Boys” card came out next and the officer ordered the Rangers to reload, but the run of luck was broken when the French “En Avant” card came up. In an effort to get a unit into line of sight of the much reduced Ranger unit, the French officer ordered a unit of Coureurs across the front of the building where the Militia were hiding, but unfortunately a British Irregular card came up next. The 2 Rangers fired at the Coureurs who were trying to draw a bead on them and managed to bring one down – a reaction roll of 1 sent the Coureur unit scampering back to the bridge which they managed to clog up in their panic – more importantly, the French officer had failed his side-plot and the British officer had succeeded in his as the French officer had failed.

Final volley

Final volley

The Indians extracted revenge on the next card, taking out one Ranger at long range and routing the remaining one (another roll of 1, but on a D3 this time).  Because a lot of British cards had come out at the start of the turn, there now followed a run of French cards, allowing the steady unit of Coureurs to line up a volley at the Milita in the building. Though it was a pretty poor volley, it still put a hole into a single militiaman and a roll of a 1 on a D6 meant the militia exited quickly through the side windows (just as well the officer bonus had turned the rout into a slightly better result of “flight”). Unfortunately this side exit took the Militia into the sights of the Indian’s muskets and 2 more fell dead as the next card up activated the Indians. A reaction roll of 1 saw the remaining Militia leave the board, but even worse for the British, the French had now killed half of their force so a morale card would be put into the deck next turn even if the reserves arrived. The British officer moved back towards his baseline and failing to bring his reserves on again next turn, managed to leave the board on the first card drawn to end the game.

The French had killed or routed 17 British troops for the loss of only 2 of their own so had made their victory condition even without the British reserve appearing to give a more target-rich environment. However, because the British had made a French unit flee and thus the French officer had failed his side-plot (and consequently the British officer had succeeded in his), the French marginal victory was downgraded to a draw – side-plots are powerful stuff indeed! Highly recommended.