Category Archives: Too Fat Lardies

Chain of Command (Tom – 25/08/2013)

Jump-off points

TFL supplied resin jump-off points – nice idea

So we’re back after a summer break from blogging (and gaming as well – not a lot of that done with the best summer weather we’ve had in years). Our first game of the new season had to be “Chain of Command” really – ever since I saw the demo at Salute I’ve been biding my time until the rules arrived, and with splendid timing they arrived just before the Bank Holiday weekend. I had to paint up the resin “jump-off points” which come with the rules in a hurry, but once that was done we were all ready to go.

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Start of Patrol Phase

The rules are different from a lot of Lardy games, in that the normal moving with blinds to simulate the fog of war has gone and is replaced with a Patrol phase, where players jostle with each other to position their jump-off points (remember the resin markers?) from where their troops will enter the fray. This is a critical phase of the game and, as we saw at Salute, the game can be won or lost in this phase. We played a standard attack / defence game with me defending as the Germans – in the patrol phase I had to concentrate on moving my patrol markers around so as I could place my jump-off points to control the road and the farm – unfortunately this allowed Tom as the British to manoeuvre on the flanks and get a jump-off point fairly far forward on each flank to give himself some options. His vehicles would come on at the board edge on the road.

For this first game we had a standard regular platoon each – the British took an extra PIAT, a Dingo and a Humber Mk IV while I had a 222 armoured car. Typically, I rolled low for force morale giving me 8 and the British rolled high giving them 11. The morale of a force is what determines how effective they are – the higher it is means the more able the force is to absorb losses without impacting effectiveness – when it goes under 5 due to losses and/or units breaking then (as the rules put it) “bad things happen”. When it goes to zero, it’s game over.

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Fire and movement – the platoon sergeant orders the rifle team forward making good use of cover while the bren team goes on overwatch to cover them

A turn consists of a number of phases, with each side rolling a number of command dice (5 each in this case as we were were both regular troops), and using the numbers rolled to perform various actions with squads or leaders. The first thing a squad must do to get into action is to deploy on the table within a certain distance of any jump-off point – if they do this on a ‘2’ dice, then they can only fire when they move onto the table, but if they do it under a ‘3’ dice, this allows their squad leader to place them on overwatch or seek better cover (“go tactical”) as part of the entry move. A ‘4’ dice allows a senior leader (platoon sergeant or officer) to be activated. The Germans have a built-in disadvantage here, as they only have 1 senior leader in a standard platoon, whereas the British have 2. If you have all your senior leaders on the table, then it becomes harder to deploy your remaining troops, only succeeding on a 4,5 or 6 for each squad in a turn – as the Germans, I would not be deploying my senior leader onto the table until most if not all of my squads were on there. Each roll of ‘5’ allows you to accumulate “Chain of Command” points (when you get to 6 you can do a special action such as ambush or end the turn) and rolls of ‘6’ are only useful when there are more than a single one rolled – 2 x ‘6’ rolls allow you to have another phase immediately after this one (thus putting your opponent at a disadvantage), while 3 x ‘6’ rolls end the turn after this phase. Various things happen at turn end, such as smoke disappearing, broken units vanishing if they haven’t been rallied and jump-off points being lost if they have been overrun and not re-captured – the last 2 being bad news for your force morale of course!

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A German squad deploys and opens fire on the advancing British. the return fire from the covering Bren puts 5 shock on them (red dice) – not good!

As the force with the best morale, the British were up first and managed to combine 2 dice of ‘1’ & ‘2’ to make a ‘3’ (this is allowed) to deploy a section on their right flank – they also brought on their platoon sergeant on a ‘4’ and the Daimler scout car with the remaining ‘3’. The ‘6’ rolled meant that it would be the German turn next.  The Germans rolled 2 x ‘5’ straight away (good for the Chain of Command points) and a ‘3’ was used to bring on a full squad in the centre around the farmhouse. The British sergeant then ordered the rifles led by the team corporal over the hedge – they rolled badly for movement and didn’t get far, but at least they were “tactical” and making the best use of cover, which allows them to roll as if they were in a better level of cover when shot at. Meanwhile the bren team went on overwatch while the Daimler advanced up the road and the Humber deployed.

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The Dingo and Humber brave the fire from the German LMG

The Germans put in a full squad opposite the advancing British squad and immediately opened fire. With all guns blazing, 4 points of shock were inflicted and they managed to wing the junior leader – he went down unable to move for the rest of the game. The Bren and Sten on overwatch responded, though they didn’t kill anyone, they put 5 points of shock on the Germans – ouch! A German LMG opened fire on the Daimler, but with no effect.  In the British turn, the Sergeant rallied 3 points of shock off the rifles in the field and the Bren opened up again, causing 1 casualty and 3 more shock – the Jerry squad were nearly pinned and could not take much more of this. I chose this point to roll 3 x ‘2’ and no ‘3’ so couldn’t activate (or combine to activate) the squad corporal to rally off some shock – some ineffectual fire against the British was easily rallied off whilst the Bren kept pounding the Germans. After another turn without rallying the squad broke (shock twice the number of remaining figures) and ran back to the small group of trees, losing me 2 morale in the process. On my turn I had to bring on my senior leader to rally the broken squad, but only after deploying my final squad on my right flank hoping for a shot with the squad Panzerfaust at one of the armoured cars.

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German senior leader rallies the broken squad

On the road, things were going better for the Germans. The exchange between the Dingo and the LMG was ineffectual, however a Panzerfaust took out the Dingo causing it to explode, while the 222 deployed, fired and damaged the Humber’s gunsight along with shocking the crew. The British started to move across the field towards my jump-off point which had been left exposed by the broken squad and deployed 2 more sections to face off against my other 2 squads. I picked that moment to roll 2 x ‘6’, so got 2 turns in a row – my senior leader rallied shock off the broken squad, whilst my squad on the right made mincemeat of the newly deployed British section, though it was all kills and no shock. The 222 moved up the road to get a flank shot at the centre British section on the road, but fluffed the roll, only causing 1 shock!

The 222 manages to flank the advancing British, putting a whole 1 point of shock on them with its 20mm cannon!

The 222 manages to flank the advancing British, putting a whole 1 point of shock on them with its 20mm cannon!

I was now faced with a dilemma – the British were 4″ from a jump-off point of mine, the only squad near it was the broken one (which was now merely pinned, but still useless) and I had enough Chain of Command points to end the turn. This would remove the pin and stop an immediate morale drop from the loss of the jump-off point, but the British would move first in the next turn and they had enough Chain of Command points to end the turn immediately. I decided to withdraw at that point, as things could only get worse with another jump-off point of mine in the sights of the advancing British and my 222 presenting the Humber with a flank shot.

We thoroughly enjoyed the game – even though we jumped straight in with vehicles it still flowed smoothly. From reading other battle reports, it was unusual that we only played 1 turn (but with a lot of phases!), so we didn’t get to run through the turn end sequence. There’s still a lot to try out – snipers, smoke, artillery, tanks etc, so it’s a bit soon to say that these will definitely become our WW2 platoon rules of choice, but it is looking that way…highly recommended.

Some more shots of the game:-

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A German LMG engages the British recce vehicles

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German squad lays down fire on a newly-deployed British section, causing 3 casualties but little shock.

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The Germans have to end the turn using their Chain of Command dice – if they leave it any longer the British will overrun the jump-off point behind the trees on the left and force morale will plummet further….

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Two come along at once…..

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Arrived back from holiday to find these waiting for me – with the Bank Holiday looming and tomorrow looking like a wash out, surely one set will make it to the table!

Dux Britanniarum (19/08/12 – Tom)

Romano British army

This must be some sort of record – Dux Britanniarum lands on the doormat and a couple of weeks later we’re playing a game. We like the rules which the Lardies produce, but none have clicked with us the way this set have. We’ve had several fun games of Sharp Practice, but we never could get on with Blinds (don’t know why – they are a great idea) or remember to roll for an event when loads of dice were rolled and there were more ‘1’s than ‘6’s. Dux Britanniarum  gets around these minor gripes by not having any blinds and having a Fate Deck instead of events – hurrah!

After one read through the rules, I ordered a Romano British starter army (great idea) and painted it up in 2 weeks – I must be ill!!! Saxons are from my Anglo-Dane and Viking forces for Saga, but hopefully we will have some plastic Thegns being painted up before the campaign starts in earnest to replace the guys swinging the 2-handed axes with gay abandon.

The scenario we picked for our first try-out of the rules was the “one man and his dog” one, where raiding Saxons have to herd some livestock across the table before the Roman British can stop them. The British got to bring on 3 units at the start of the game, rolling the right centre area for their deployment zone. My Saxons were going to fight off the British with their elite units, while the Warrior units did the herding – the Saxons had to get 2 groups of pigs off the table to win.

Pigs in the wood

Turn 1 did not start well for the Saxons. The Big Man cards for the 3 units of warriors with the pigs came out quickly, but I rolled doubles for the 2 groups on the left (this means the livestock veer off in a random direction) and they ended up chasing their pigs around a wood, whilst the single group of warriors who also rolled a double (!) moved very close to the British Elites and Levy in pursuit of their pig. The Saxon elites moved straight up the road hoping to pin the inevitable shield wall against the board edge by threatening to outflank the damned thing. The British spent their turn shuffling about waiting for reinforcements to arrive, but with high movement rolls some of them would be in position to strike on turn 2 – damn!

The rest of the British arrive

On turn 2 after their mates arrived, the British elites felt bold enough try to charge the single group of Saxon warriors with the pig, but I played a Goad Fate card to stop them short and right in the path of my Lord and his elites. The Saxon Lord card came up next, so I ordered a charge against the British elites with my Lord leading 2 groups of elites against one. The sneaky British turned tail and ran (they had an evade card, another useful Fate deck card) meaning that no battles were fought on turn 2. The rest of the turn was spent by the British getting into formation and the Saxons in the wood going nowhere as they rolled a double 1 for movement – the dice Gods were shining on me as usual!

British rush to form shield wall

On to turn 3. The Saxon Lord & 2 elite groups charged the British shieldwall of  2 warrior & 1 elite group, which had been formed just in time by the British Lord (his card came up first, followed by the Saxon – the Saxon prayed it would be the other way round, but it was not to be – did I say I was the Saxons?). Surprisingly, no-one had a “Seize the Day” card, but the British had the “Shieldwall Braced” card which cancelled out the Saxon “Aggressive Charge” card – double damn!  Of course, the Saxons came off worst losing 3 men to the British none and so had to fall back 3″ due to the shock (of losing to peasants, though worse was to come). The pig-herding Saxons on the flank continued their slow progress towards the edge of the board which would give victory, while the other British leader whipped his levy into formation on the flank of the Saxon warrior line.

The Saxons clash with the shield wall

On Turn 4, once again the British Lord card came up first, and he ordered the British shieldwall to follow up into the retreating Saxons, but victory was not so swift this time – the combat went on  for 4 rounds  over 2 activations, but when the dust settled the Saxons elites had been broken or wiped out and the Saxon Lord had to run back to join the warrior group which had previously lost their pig to a bunch of levy. The only good thing from the Saxon point of view was that the British champion had fallen, taking a sword thrust intended for his lord. The pig-herding Saxon warriors continued to try to move their charges down the flank, but the British skirmishers had moved across to them so they were now being harassed by slingshot as well as making continuous poor movement rolls.

Turn 5 and the British Lord card came out first again, so he ordered a regular group to charge one of the flanking Saxon warrior group with pigs, trampling the  Saxon bowmen in the process. Amazingly, he took a wound and lost the combat, falling back 1″. Maybe the pigs might get off the board after all….

Saxons caught by British

It was not to be – the British leader with the Levy was now activated, and ordered the formation of Levy to charge the Saxon warrior group which their Warlord had sought refuge with. Again, the dice gods deserted the Saxons and the peasant Levy beat them up so badly that they had to leave the field at end of turn due to excess shock, taking the Warlord with them and sending the Saxon Army Morale below zero. This ended the game and put paid to the Saxon pig rustling on the flank as they lost the will to fight and melted off into the country side with no filling for their bacon butties.

The all-conquering British Levy

I lost badly as the Saxons – I think I only won 1 combat and was beaten twice by Levy with pitchforks. On the other hand, my archers were quite successful, dishing out 2 kills and some shock – this was not going to win me the game though. The British shieldwall which they managed to form in the nick of time was dead tough – I lost count of the number of kills it saved by being in the formation. The movement trays, though they sped up the game, confused us for a time – we were trying to wheel on the corner of the tray etc, but we didn’t have to do this as the mass formation is fairly flexible. Only when in shieldwall formation is wheeling necessary and most manoeuvres can be done by just subtracting 1D6 from the movement. The Fate Card Deck added a lot of spice to the game, never mind that I couldn’t pull a Carpe Diem card to save my life – this allows you to play more than 1 card in a turn, which can make for some devastating combos in a fight. Tom pulled all 3 of mine but didn’t pull one of his own until the final turn, and as we didn’t make it through the deck I was never going to see one – in the end I had to press the attack without one, which ended predictably given my usual dice rolling. The game was a really good introduction to the rules, and has given us an appetite for the campaign system where casualties matter – if this had been a campaign game I may well have thrown the towel in earlier. Highly recommended.

Sharp Practice – 25/04/2011 (Tom)

We liked the ACW rules we played at Salute so much that we wanted to give the Napoleonics a try. For our first game we lined up with 5 Big Men each and infantry in 6 groups, even though I’m keen to give cavalry and artillery a go as well. The British had rifles and lights along with 4 Line groups of 12 men each, while the French had 2 groups of Voltigeurs and 4 of Line. The objective was a village in the middle of the board.

The objective

My 2 groups of voltigeurs on my left flank under a level 2 Big Man had their eye  in, and spotted 2 groups of Line led by a Colonel coming down the road, and the rifles and lights hopping over the wall across the field.

Merde – we are outnumbered

The French Colonel (me) had a cunning plan – as his blinds were unspotted, he would deploy into line beyond the village. He had 3 “grasp the nettle” bonus cards as well – more than enough initiative to get his three groups into line ready to deliver a crushing volley to the British as they passed the church. Unfortunately he rolled low on movement, and his groups never made it out of the village yet were too constrained to change formation in the village, so the opportunity passed – the Colonel never got the chance again.

Meantime, the British Rifles and Lights just couldn’t make it to the field wall to shelter from the Voltigeur fire – the Tiffin card kept coming out before they could be activated to move by their Big Men, and the Voltigeurs kept firing on it, though caused mostly shock rather than any real casualties.

Allez Allez!

Tom managed to get 2 groups into formation under his Colonel and started peppering the French group emerging from the village with musket shots, leading to a stalemate on the road. I sent my final blind with 1 group and a level 2 Big Man around my right flank, but Tom met them with 2 groups of his own – even though I charged and defeated 1 group, this bogged down into a musketry exchange as well.

Eventually Tom’s Rifles and Lights made it to the field wall, and though my Voltigeurs fared well in the musketry exchange, they must lose soon as the British were behind a wall and were getting twice as many dice as me. With all units firing and loading for their 2 actions, we called the game a draw.

Tom got frustrated that the Tiffin card (which ends the turn leaving any remaining Big Men in the deck unactivated) came up too soon too often, so next time we may put in 2 and end the turn on the second. In the end, the game revolved on who got into formation first (Tom), and given time his line formation could have fired and advanced under the “Thin Red Line” bonus card which would have carried the village. So, not quite as enjoyable as our ACW game, but then the Lardies had put a lot of thought into the scenario at Salute, whereas we just threw it all on the table and got on with it.

I don’t usually post photos of painted troops, but I’ve been hard at work over Easter in an attempt to clear the backlog so here are some of the results – 2 units of ACW Zouaves – coming to a game in the near future.

Louisiana Tigers – Perry Plastics

Fire Zoauves – Perry metals