Monday, 26 September 2016

Age of Warlords Event

I set off Sunday morning to Peterborough from leafy Chorleywood, I hit the road at 07 double oh, giving me half an hour to chat and meet up before the mayhem, no, the M1 was closed for two junctions and I was diverted off into darkest Buckinghamshire, after much cursing and swearing and wondering why in the south of England they need a roundabout every two miles I arrived at the venue suffering from vertigo.

The usual suspects were there, Stewart, Phil, Jenny, Mike and Rob along with George and Steve who were both completely new to War and Conquest, Steve never having played a game before, brave man. Andy Hawes had organised the event but lost out as one of his club members was sick and had to return home, Andy volunteered to sit out a couple of games, Andy had put the army lists together for WAC and was happy to talk about them in between charges, routs and dark murmurings on the tables.

Merovingians vs Saxon Heptarchy

My first game was against Mike Nursey, Mike and I had crossed swords before when the Twelfth had cut his Dacians to pieces, this time he had Romano-British and I had Saxon Heptarchy. The deployment was fairly typical of a Dark Age battle, we both had a strong infantry centre and I had cavalry on both flanks, Mikes right had two skirmish units and a large bow unit, so my cavalry on that side was going to have to be careful, his elite cavalry were on his left and I wanted to wear them down with skirmishers and possibly fling an infantry unit into them if possible.

Romano-British vs Heptarchy Saxons
My game against Mike

I pushed my infantry forward with the elite Gedriht leading, these were the best troops in the army, the rest of the it were in big units but their quality was not good and even if it was all they had for defence was a shield, a big handicap in this game, which will become obvious later. I brushed aside nearly all of Mikes skirmishers and my slingers, shooting from a wood managed to decimate his Sagittari unit, the Brits quickly lost an infantry unit which caused another to run in sympathy while the Companion cavalry could not catch my mounted skirmishers and suffered from my bowmen. Mike looked to his gods to save him but it was no use, my men could not be stopped and swept on to victory, even the Romano-British general fell to my wolves. A great start, 25 points in the bag. I did feel sorry for Mike, his die rolling was not great while mine was certainly better than average, just like the last time, he did nothing wrong as a general he simply had no luck at all.

Mike's Romano-British winning his second game I think.

After a quick bite at a nearby Subway my second game was against Rob Broom, the author of the rules if you have not picked up on that before, I have beaten Rob twice now and this, allied to his die rolling reputation, gave me a little confidence boost. Rob's army was Patrician Roman and looked fairly weak against my burly Saxons, Rob had quite a few infantry units but they were small, his only cavalry if I recall were the Bucellarii, hard as nails professionals. I decided once again to go straight in with my Gedriht and because of the deployment for this game I either had all my skirmishers on the left or sent them there to destroy the Bucellari as my cavalry would not stand up to them in a fair fight. In the first clashes I sent two German mercenary units to meet their makers, and had not even engaged my elites at that time, Rob frowned, like a fool I cheered him up and said it was early days. I had a dilemma at this point, I could hit a unit with two of mine or leave it to the Gedriht, I chose the latter and this was a turning point, this meant I had a unit hanging and then next turn I forgot to move it. Not moving them meant that one of my previously victorious units had had to take on a bunch of Romans who outclassed them and were now hit in the flank because I hadn't moved their mates. The Gedriht then failed to smash their opponents, things began to look dodgy, I did manage to almost wipe out the Bucellarii but Rob managed to keep them in the fight by the skin of their teeth and my boys failed their morale, Rob had also managed right at the end to grab the Strategic Advantage from me in a turn which was critical. It was all over, I even managed to move a unit away from the centre to hand Rob 20 points for getting the objective. A very hard fight for my boys and both of us had large dead piles to show this but a well deserved victory for the Romans.

My third game and Andy Hawes stepped up, his only game of the day and he had brought, Patrician Romans! But a very different army from Robs, this one three cavalry units with a very large Bucellarii command of fourteen cavalry, not something you see often in WAC, if at all. He only had two infantry units, albeit it one was pretty large, easy meat I thought, keep my cavalry out of harms way as long as possible and let the infantry win the battle. Hold on, it was roll to see who deployed first and as usual I got a one, so Andy got a pretty good head start on me, I had to spread my army out as I knew he could easily win a flank battle and I was unsure which one he would attack. Even so I had his line covered and a spare unit to send to my left which was going to need help. I started my line forward and then could not win the advantage for the rest of the game, Andy let me get so far and then came at me. His Bucellarii hit my infantry, OK, just hold then let my numbers take him out, but no, to my chagrin his mounted tin cans beat me and my men fled. At the same time our skirmish cavalry clashed, an even combat but my men again ran, meanwhile I did get a victory in the very centre and his large infantry unit went south, my Gedriht were back on form, they now eagerly turned to get those damned biscuit eaters. I desperately needed to get the advantage but it was not to be, despite some desperate fighting from my troops I took some real punishment in the last but one turn and it was all over. A real tough slog, but no dishonour for my men, apart from the skirmishing cavalry.
My game against Andy
Patrician Romans vs Saxon Heptarchy

Phil Turner was the overall winner, he too had Patrician Romans, a good day for the end of empire, my son Stewart was second and we all had a good day with three excellent battles.

Phil 'The Winner' Turner and Rob

 All the armies were of a high standard but Andy Hawes' men were a joy to look at, they are also pictured in the rule book itself, however Andy has won quite a few awards for them and was happy that someone else picked up the painting prize, this went to Steve, our newcomer, another lovely Dark Age army. There are some really interesting armies to choose from for this period, and with their different make up and characteristics and the odd special rule they are challenging to use.

Steve's Saxon Heptarchy
Robs German Mercenaries, easy meat.
Andy's beautiful Patrician Romans

Now what about that shield comment above, well when your opponent has armour, large shield and may possibly be in shieldwall chucking armour piercing darts or heavy throwing weapons at you, trying to kill him when all you have is woollen shorts and a shield is pretty frustrating. And with the Patrican army and my sons Merovingians you can get small but highly resilient units on the table, you don't get a lot but look at the results above. In a lot of my combats I could get a decent amount of hits but simply could not convert them to kills while my men suffered very badly at times. You pays your money etc. and anyway, I still like big units and some of them did all right during the day, but I should have took two Gedriht units, I won't leave the house without them in the future.

So there you have it, a good but intense day's battling, my thanks to Andy Hawes for organising, the newcomers for turning up, my friends for being there and my three opponents for some excellent entertainment, what a great hobby. The only thing missing was the Recrimination and Bragging Phase at the bar, but that will resume in Newark in November.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Last Man Standing

Another stint at taking my life in my hands trying to get out of the village, but needs must to get to civilisation, now they are not only zooming up the only two way road in and out but they are on their phones while doing so.

Anyway, after another fraught day dealing with BT I settled down and took my Dead Man's Hand stuff to the club, due to the faffing about I hadn't managed to come up with a scenario so we just went for goodies versus baddies, three lots of six bad men against two lots of seven lawmen. I took my Mexicans with The Spider looking for revenge after his rep took a dive in the last game. Ryan was late which probably didn't help our overall plan, but then again we didn't really have a plan. The Law were in one quarter of the table with me opposite them, Andy in the far corner and Ryan's men at the end of the same row of buildings as the lawmen these were eventually moved into the centre of town opposite the jail just as Ryan turned up.

I decided to rush towards the Red Dog Saloon where Simon's posse were holed up, in the hope of getting some lucky shots in and dropping some deputies, Simon obliged by coming my way, meanwhile Johnny, the other lawman, was moving along the street taking cover behind a nearby hearse and a stalled wagon on Main Street. My gringo compadres at the other end of the street seemed to be keeping as far away from trouble as they could, Ryan turned up, took command of his men, and despite some Hollywood type diving and ducking found at the end of it he was out of range. No one was having much luck as bullets flew and hit wood, nothing or dirt, even a point blank shotgun blast managed to miss a wily Mexican.

That however soon came to an end as Simon's men found the range, my boys were falling like dominoes to the great delight of Andy for some reason, we put the fallen in Boot Hill cemetery and it seemed to have a very large Mexican section.

The Spider himself went down, as we called time I only had one man left who wasn't going to make the Big Nerve Test if we had managed another round. Ryan too lost a few men while Andy was relatively unscathed despite Johnny moving his fashion conscious deputies in their matching long coats into close range.

Time ran away with us but we all enjoyed the game and the Law easily got a win on casualties inflicted, I think in the end they would also have managed to clean out the town if the game had gone on.

Boot Hill fills up.
 So, I have my army for Sunday, I am all packed, I am also taking my son's army down for him and a few extra troops for a mate, I feel like I need a little break so I am looking forward to this jaunt, I am also heading off early tomorrow to hopefully beat the traffic and possibly be at the school to pick up my granddaughter who has asked her parents to make an effort and feed me 'Scottish' food.

I now have the rest of the day to redo a couple of bases, type out my list, amend a couple of maps (grrrrr) and still get to the pub at 3.30. Oh, and I have also bought some more stuff for Bolt Action, another M3 for the British and a Hanomag for the Germans (the one with the rockets on the side) and a couple of stowage sets, another couple of trucks for each side should see to my transport needs.

I am now going off grid until next week.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Age of Warlords

After having not a lot of time to do much and rushing around I have a bit of time at the moment, the authors I am working with are all off on jaunts of some kind or other, one is a battlefield guide, and the Atlas is at a very early stage so I probably have a couple of days to ponder all sorts of stuff. The big thing this week is I am heading south to Chorleywood on Thursday morning for a little break to my sons, I hope to take in the Imperial War Museum and possibly the Guards as well. I had wanted to go to the Army Museum but I believe that is closed for renovations or some such, however I will check. A night in Smoke on Friday and the RAF Museum on the Saturday.

I have a full on day on the Sunday, I will be heading early to Peterborough for the Age of Warlords gaming day, three 2,000 point War and Conquest battles with armies ranging from Patrician Roman to Merovingian Franks. Then it is back home, I had thought of stopping over and heading north fully rested on the Monday, but as I am skint and the money saved would be better spent on Bolt Action stuff I will bite the bullet and hit the road once we are done.

Organiser Andy Hawes' excellent Saxon Gedriht.

I am taking a Saxon Heptarchy army, I normally fight battles at 2500 points so the loss of that extra 500 is a bit of a bind. I have two choices, I keep the basic infantry units big and take a couple of cavalry units or I keep them smaller and get more of them but only one mounted, not quite sure yet which way to go. I also have to compromise on the Gedriht warbands, these are the kings guards and companions and should be some of the best troops at the event, so as ever it is quality or quantity.

I shall be meeting up with some friends from the normal WAC gaming days and getting the lowdown on our November meet, the Twelfth will be marching south for battle that month. I was sorry I missed last years Age of Warlords but the photos were excellent and the reports were all positive so I have made the effort this year.

I am supposed to be doing Dead Man's Hand at the club tomorrow night, so maybe one more report before I head off, I hope to get a lot of pictures and have some stirring tales for next week after Sunday.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Market Garden

Yesterday three club members braved the roads around here and managed to eventually find there way to Warton from Grange-over-Sands, a very genteel, up-market town of these here parts. Rob  wanted to do a large Market Garden themed game, which many WWII gamers are doing at the moment of course, ours just happened to be on the very first day of the anniversary of the battle. Nice timing.

I wasn't sure what Rob wanted in the way of terrain so set up an empty table and at last used my portable 6x4 for the inevitable wargame paraphernalia required for such a large game. The lads duly arrived on time which meant I had to fend off the odd customer whose looks of amazement as their PO turned into a part of Holland were a treasure to behold until noon when I closed.

What we had was a canal with a bridge over it around which was a small town, halfway between the canal and the other end of the table were fields and gentle rises and of course the main road which entered through a large patch of woodland. I know about Arnhem of course but not so well up on what happened during the rest of the campaign, for this battle we had American paratroopers who had been ordered to take the bridge but once on the ground had decided to secure the high ground first, this left a window of opportunity for the Germans to get into the village and protect the bridge while the Americans then awaited the arrival of their allies.

I took the Germans, mainly because after all my work on the Flak wagon I wanted to use it, Paul was with me and was given the village to defend, my troops would come on on the other side of the canal and hopefully delay the Americans. Rob took the paratroops and would probe the German defences while waiting for the armour to turn up, commanded by Stuart. Both Stuart and Paul were new to Bolt Action but long time WWII players.

Paul managed quite nicely to get his men ensconced in the town, he also put his PAK 40 and Marder III in sheltered positions with fairly good lines of sight into the hinterland. I on the other hand found myself restricted, I brought my Panzer IV on as support for my three squads but found that I was not going to get to the hedge line before the Ami's, I was also fearful of a squad of British Paras and a sniper team way over on the right which could easily enfilade me. I did make an attempt but luckily my platoon made it back to cover before the British armour got the range. I dug in around the bridge and a nearby house. My sniper made the first shot of the game and took out an American NCO, looking good.

Stuart turned up and came through the woods, this turned out to be a mistake as it was slow going, he recovered mid game and put his men onto the road, his left got through the trees much quicker and he flung his armour forward. The British were a bit cautious due to the firepower in the village and the threat of my lone tank behind a small hill, rightly so as the PAK 40 hit 'Betsy' coming over a hill and took her tracks out and caused a fire, this was put out only to have another one started by another hit later, Betsy led a charmed life but she wasn't going anywhere, the PAK crew now rested on their laurels and they couldn't hit her again.

Stuart unlimbered his 17pdr and took out the PAK crew with a HE round, not one man survived, I had tried to help with my sniper but only managed to ever get one crew member, the Marder however did manage to brew up the 17pdr's M3 tow.

I had hemmed in my tank with my own me and needed to sort myself out so it could again manouvre, I rushed a squad back to the village only for them to be cut up pretty badly but they held, out in the open but they remained viable. There had been a threat from a sneaky bazooka team heading for my tank but the sniper took care of them, my medic hit the dust before he could help anyone and I had to reverse the PzIV once again.

It was now that Paul moved on the annoying British para squad, I at last brought on my AA vehicle to support him and it paid off as the Para's disappeared and I also managed to shoot up a sniper team as well, one of whom was a woman, however we were Waffen-SS.

The Americans had been halted despite bravely trying to rush the bridge, they had managed to deplete several defending squads but whom nevertheless still managed to hold on. Stewart now rushed my tank with his infantry, a hail of fire hit them from a defended building, they still got through but failed to dent the steel monster, they did give me a fright though. 'Lindy Lou' the other Sherman had moved forward to take a shot at my Flak wagon but cursed when it realised American para's were in the way, lucky for me as I hadn't given the rest of the battlefield much thought and had decided to go after a Bren carrier which looked like easy meat, oops.

That was the last move, the game was called, we had spent about six hours playing, eating cakes, drinking tea and beer and generally chatting, a good afternoon. It was deemed the Germans would hold on so they got the honours.

Our first game of Bolt Action Second Edition, what was the outcome? I love the templates, much better than the last way of doing things, we were a bit perplexed by the auto-cannon but on reading the book later I can see where we went wrong but that was only on one occasion. I also like the officer getting extra orders and we used this quite a bit, however we were all a bit sceptical how it would work at the higher level, captains and majors and think this would probably unbalance the game, one or two orders being just perfect. No doubt you won't get a lot of majors at least running around but I can see it being a gift for 'win at all costs' players.

There was one situation which came up where my troops on the road had all used their initiatives and Stuart in his turn could have taken three out the bag, one for his officer, then trundled his anti-tank tow down the road onto my flank, unlimbered then shot. Now that I think about it I may have to check whether guns unlimbering on an advance can actually shoot. Anyway at the time we thought they could and felt it was not very sporting, so he didn't do it.

As I said they are all WWII veteran gamers and like many others with BA had a discussion about weapon ranges, justified no doubt, but I can live with it as my main objective with the rules is a good game with a WWII feel to it. So, despite my rising dislike of Warlord Games' handling of the whole Second Edition saga the rules are fine and for me does what it says on the tin, I look forward to many more enjoyable games, thanks lads.