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Monday, February 5, 2018

Another Go at Trench Hammer

I had another go with Trench Hammer this evening, same scenario, but with a couple of important differences, inspired by this discussion on TMP.

  • I actually remembered to apply the firing bonus for shooting at targets that move in the open.  This counts even in firefight rang or the assault, so really benefited the defender.
  • I also made the to hit score when firing at previously unspotted enemies 11+.  It lets the defender hold their fire at least until firefight range with little chance of incidental damage without adding complications with reaction fire and separate spotting rules.
  • I removed the +1 firing negative for MG08/15 teams that move and fire.
Here is a brief recap, not blow by blow like last time, but you can see the difference those changes made.  Click pictures to enlarge.

Pretty much the same setup as before.  The British from left to right have a Lewis Gun section, Vickers HMG, and a plain old vanilla Rifle Section.

 The Hun starts out pretty much as before, but the fire from the MG08/15's in the hill is pretty ineffective.

 The British then open up, with the Lewis Section taking a little damage from return fire, but mostly the boche know we are here!
 The next turn sees the German Platoon leader stops and regroups one of his rifle sections while the other engages in an ineffectual firefight with the Lewis Section.  Meanwhile, the Vickers adds more fire to the Huns on the hill and the rifle section delivers enough fire to cause one of the MG08/15 sections to break!  I assume they are not all dead, just had enough for this fight and combat ineffective.
 Maybe setting up the MG08/15's on tops of a hill with no cover was not the best idea, as the British knock out the other section.  Meanwhile, the German rifle sections get close enough to assault the Lewis Section, they take some damage, but the Lewis must have jammed and they scamper off, combat ineffective.
So, the Germans are down to their rifle sections and decide to gamble on a frontal assault on the Vickers.  What a terrible idea!  They are mowed down for their troubles and the remaining rifle section decides to high tail it out of there.

If I were running this as a campaign, I would probably let the British player get his Lewis Section back, as the survivors rally and the platoon leader cross levels his sections.  Meanwhile, I'd reinforce the Germans and maybe allow a flanking attack through the woods.  Could be interesting, stay tuned. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Trench Hammer Game Mechanic Demo

I recently had the honor to collaborate with Ivan from Nordic Weasel Games on Trench Hammer (available here at Wargames Vault), a set of tactical WW1 rules derived from his excellent Squad Hammer.

Here is a replay showing some of the rule mechanics.  You can use any scale and basing scheme you wish.  I intend to use casualty markers to mark hits but have used dice for clarity in the pictures.

Just to get some admin stuff out of the way...

  • The table is about 30" wide
  • The figures are 10mm Pendraken based on 40mm x 20mm bases
  • Craters are from a company called 3d Corp in Poland. They are flexible rubber and I have ordered some trenches from them as well.
  • Click pics to enlarge!
  • A few basic rules:
    • Units can be issued one of 4 orders during a turn: Engage, Regroup, Withdraw, or Redeploy
    • Units with Engage orders may move THEN fire.  Fire is always at the end of your move.
    • Units are destroyed when they take 7 hits.  Hits are an abstract representation of casualties, suppression, and morale effects.
  • The game only took 30-40 minutes, but I was one of the designers and playing solo.  But they are very fast play with an emphasis on fire and movement and small unit tactics.  As a rule of thumb, if you like other games Ivan has designed or One Hour Wargames, they will probably be your cup of tea. 

Ok, here is the scenario...  March 22, 1918 and the Great Kaiser Offensive shatters the British front lines.  The remains of a British platoon with a Vickers HMG have set up a blocking position in a set of shell craters at a crossroad.  A fresh German platoon from the second wave is approaching with orders to clear the position and continue the advance.

Here is the German platoon, behind a hill ready to attack.

And here is the British Defensive position.  The Platoon leader has rallied what remains of his unit, but they are short of grenades and rifle grenades, so consist of a Lewis Gun section and Rifle section in addition to the Vickers.

Turn 1

The Germans go first. Trench Hammer is an I Go / You Go system, with the active player rolling 2d6 and (usually) picking the higher.  This is the number of squads he can activate.

The German player uses 2 of his activations to have his MG08/15 squads move onto the hill and fire at the Lewis Section.

Firing is a 2d6 roll, and you want to equal or better the target number to cause damage. You start at 7+ to hit, and while you are encouraged to use your judgment, there are some canned modifiers.  As the Lewis Gun section is in a shell hole, they receive a +2 modifier.  So both MG08/15 sections need a 9+ on 2d6 to cause damage.

Note that the MG08/15's would get a -1 to hit and have 8+ (because of their LMG) if they had remained stationary and fired. The MG08/15 was cumbersome and the Lewis Gun does not have this restriction.

Both squads hit and cause a total of 6 damage to the Lewis Section.

Meanwhile, off camera to the left, the Germans use their remaining activation to move a bombing squad forward 6".  The Platoon Leader uses his special Move Out! ability to get the other squad to advance 2".

For the British Activation on Turn 1, they were able to activate all 3 units.  (not pictured here)  The Platoon Leader shifted over to the Lewis Section and used his Heads Up! ability rally off one of the hits and then issued a Regroup order to the Lewis Section.  Regroup allows you to roll a d6 three times, each time, if the roll is < the current number of hits, you remove a hit.  the Lewis Section removes 2 more hits this way.

As seen below the Vickers HMG fires at the Germans on the hill.  The base to hit is 7+ but as an HMG is firing they get a -2, so need a 5+ to hit.  They do hit and score 5 damage.  The rifle section misses it shot.

Turn 2

The German player rolls 3 activations. He chooses to use his first on to issue a Withdraw order to the damaged MG08/15 squad and they retreat behind the hill.  They automatically recover 1 hit as a result.  This is how suppressive fire is built into the rules.  The German player could have left them on the hill to fire but would have probably lost them in the next British turn.  Now he will have the opportunity to have the Regroup in future turns, but they cannot fire this turn or probably the next.  

So, the Vickers has successfully suppressed them, without having to have any separate suppression or morale rules. Hits are an abstraction of casualties, suppression, and morale effects.

Using his other 2 activations, the German player moves his Bombing squads forward and fires on the Lewis Section.  As they are <12" away but >6" They engage in a Firefight, so the Lewis Section gets to fire back immediately when fired on. The Germans come off the worse in the exchange.

The British turn begins with them receiving 2 activation points.  The leader rallies a hit off fo the Lewis Section, the Lewis Section delivers withering fire on one fo the German Bombing squads, destroying it.  Meanwhile the HMG puts accurate fire on the remaining MG08/15 on the hill. 

Turn 3

The remaining German Bombing squad moves forward and Assaults the Lewis Gun Section.  An Assault is any combat within 6" and both sides fire simultaneously.  This is also where the strength of the grenade tossing Bombing squads show.

As they are in an assault, the bombers do not have to contend with the cover of the shell hole as their volley of grenades arc through the air.  As you can see below, the Germans destroy the Lewis Section.

Meanwhile the MG08/15 teams are still regrouping behind the hill.

The British player has lost his Lewis Section and Platoon Leader, leaving his HMG team vulnerable, so...

Turn 4

Turn 4, the Germans move their regrouped MG08/15 teams in to pour fire into the remaining British Rifle Section, causing 3 more Damage, bringing them up to 6.  The remaining German Bombing squad finishes them off in a bloody assault, taking 3 hits in return.

The British Vickers team decides to withdraw...

The Germans used fairly good fire and movement tactics in this assault but will need to regroup before pressing on.  At this rate I am sure the war will be over by Christmas...

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little demo of some of the mechanics.  Remember you can use any scale or any basing scheme you wish and there are plenty of optional rules to add more chrome if you like.

Until next time, good gaming!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Wife Decisively Wins War of 1812

And by decisive, I mean like the United States never expands west of the Ohio valley decisive.  

As the British, she let me run rampant in the west, lured me in with Montreal and then decisively defeated my two main field armies and captured Albany, New York and everything in between.

I apologize to all of my fellow Americans...

Monday, January 22, 2018

First 10mm WW1 platoons ready for Trench Hammer

I have been trying to play WW1 for over 10 years, even finishing and selling off a 20mm project because I just did not have the space to store everything.

Recently, I was privileged to be able to collaborate with Ivan from Nordic Weasel Games on a tactical set of rules for the Great War called Trench Hammer, available here at Wargames Vault.

It is aimed at games roughly the size of Through the Mud and the Blood from Too Fat Lardies (1-2 Platoons per side), but fast play (1 hour-ish) in the spirit of One Hour Wargames.  If you have any interest in the Great War whatsoever, buy the Too Fat Lardies' rules, and supplements!  They are a wealth of information that will get you started reading on this fascinating topic.

So... I playtested everything with empty bases and have finally gotten enough painted up for a game. I wanted to go with Baccus 6mm, my preferred range for everything not 28mm Pulp at the moment, but while the range is great looking and ideal for large-scale games, they do not have the range of specialists I need for the tactical game I am aiming at. (Sorry Peter, but don't worry, you'll get your hands on more of my loot soon...)  So I decided to go with Pendraken's 10mm WW1 range.  It is perfect, I can get all the wacky specialists like rifle grenadiers, flame thrower teams, etc., still using a small scale.  And the small scale will let me paint units quickly and easily and fit into my playing space.  The cost was also very attractive too, for 2 basic platoons, it was about $40 to the US shipped, and when it is all said and done, I'll be able to to do 2 platoons per side, with some tanks and support weapons for $80 total.

Units in Trench Hammer maneuver as squads and take hits until eliminated.  No need for figure removal, with hits being actual casualties, stress, suppression, etc. so no need for individual figure removal.  But, I did need to be able to identify special weapons.  So I went with this basing scheme:

  • Squads are Two 40mm x 20mm bases, each with 3-4 figures.  This minimizes the number of "things" I have to move around the table, speeding play, but allows some articulation of the squad to conform to terrain, as the bases may be placed in line or one behind the other.
  • Heavy weapons like MG's and Mortars on 20mm or 25mm circles
  • Leaders on 15mm circles.

Here is what I have painted up so far, Click to enlarge:

British Rifle platoon circa 1917 - mid-1918 with 4 specialist sections:

A typical German Rifle Platoon.  The Germans had HUGE latitude so I can reorganize the bases to reorganize the platoon.

 Extra Germans, Stoss Troops or Trench Raiders that can be used as Assault squads are intermixed in the rifle platoons.  Plus a handy Flame Thrower team.

And here is how much storage space this all takes...

Next up I have more troops to paint, including British Trench Raiders, enough extras for 2 platoons per side, and minenwerfers.

And of course Two Mark IV tanks and an A7V tank...

Next time, going to try to get up a play by play example of the Trench Hammer Rules.  Until then, good gaming!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Siege of Augusta Part 2: Scenario, Player Aids, and After Action Review

Here is a link to my Google drive folder with the scenario and all the player aids I used!

If you played or observed my game, or just have an opinion, please leave a comment below.

As I started running convention games again after my experience at Historicon last year, I try to do a short after action review after each convention to make my games better.  My old Section Chief would be proud...

I hope anything running a game of any sort will find this useful.

Here are some good things that I think I want to SUSTAIN:

  1. Under advice from the players I had at Southern Front, I reduced the table size, getting everyone into the action faster.  Plus it was easier for kids playing to reach and adults could sit down and play.
  2. I had a sign in sheet at my table, that included a sign saying "Returning at [X] PM" whenever we went to eat.  This really reassured players that we were coming back and would start on time, so they did not go looking for another game for fear this one would not happen. ()This was my wife's idea!)
  3. Started at 9:30 on Saturday morning and not at 89am sharp, this let me pick up a lot of players that got in a little later.
  4. Be Welcoming!  I had walk-on parts available and was able to handle folks who just walked by and wanted to join in or got there a little late. Partially because...
  5. PULP = FUN, the genre is good for that,  Maybe not so much if you are doing Wagram, but pulp style games are perfect for that.
  6. Games were FAST, between 1 1/2 and 2 hours playing time.  This meant no one got bored and everyone has time to shop the vendors and look at other games too.
  7. I used director's judgment on when to stop the game.  Otherwise, folks will fight to the last man.  Once it became apparent that folks were going to get away, I pulled the plug.  Nothing ends a game like having a Great Old one show up!
Some things I still want to sustain that I did time before last as well are:
  • Pack ahead of time
  • Range Sticks and quick play sheets still worked well.
  • Have a defined goal in mind.  Mine was a fast fun, engaging game that lasted no longer than 2 hours.

Here are a few areas of improvement I think I want to tweak for next time.

  1. Maybe a small headset and speaker.  My wife is a teacher and has one, it would allow me to stay out of the way more and everyone can hear me as I walk around the perimeter.
  2. I had a 3rd table that I gave up for another GM.  It was the right thing to do, but if possible it would have made managing extra stuff easier such as...
  3. Staging props and figures that can show up on the table at any time.  I spent too much time rummaging under the table for dinosaurs and quicksand traps.
All in all, it was an enjoyable experience, I am thinking about my next scenario and am feeling Rocket Men and ships.  Lots of ships.

Until then, good gaming!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Siege of Augusta, Part 1: The games

Thanks to everyone who played in my games at Siege of Augusta Saturday, and especially thanks to my lovely and talented wife, without whom it would not have been possible.   She did all of the terrain set up and without her support, there is no way I could have done this three times in one day!

Here is some promised info:

I'll be posting my Siege report in 3 parts:
  1. Recaps and pictures of the games (I ran 3 on Saturday)
  2. An After Action Review of how they went from a GM point of view
  3. Some observations about the con.

Game 1: The world was saved, the girl was saved, and Fu Manchu made off with the artifact

Game 2: The girl was saved, the cultists stopped, but Fu Manchu summoned the Old Ones for his own nefarious schemes!

Game 3: The world was saved, the girl was saved, Doc Savage Gunned down, the slavers summoned a dinosaur, and Fu Manchu hypnotized it!

I hope everyone who played had a good time.  It was a lot of fun to run and every game someone came up with something new to try.  Thanks once again to my wife and until next time, good gaming!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Terrain and figures packed for Siege of Augusta! Canadian Heiress kidnapped!!!

The wife and I are headed to Siege of Augusta this weekend, where I will run "Death Temple of Sarnath" in all 3 slots on Saturday on Table 1.  Come by if you can and play!

I have taken the feedback from Southern Front players and reduced the table size and added more terrain, so should be a smashing time!  I hope to see you there!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas to all (or Saturnalia or holiday of your choice) and Trench Hammer is out!

(Apologies to all who commented on my last post, I take forever to get around to moderating the comments, thank you all for your kind feedback and I should be caught up)

I hope all of my wargaming compatriots are enjoying themselves this weekend and will have a good 2018.  I have the family and kids here including the new granddaughter and I must say that my life is very, very good. 

I did clean up for Christmas, here is what the wife got me!

Image result for gandhi and churchill book

Looks to be some good reading and good gaming!  I have played 1812 before and am eager to give it a go again after 20 years, and Combat Infantry may scratch that WW2 tactical itch I am having (I am sure there is a cream for that...)

Meanwhile, instead of playing out the rest of my AWI campaign, I have been doing dumb stuff like working.  But I did have the opportunity of collaborating with Ivan of Nordic Weasel games on an adaptation do Squad Hammer for WW1 tactical games.  If you are interested in the period, give it a spin!  You can cheaply field a platoon cheaply and quickly in scales from 20mm down to 6mm and play in an hour. 

Here are some Pendraken 10mm Germans I mounted on 40mm x 20mm bases, going to use 2 per squad, but any basing will work.  They are supported by a Maxim HMG in a fighting position built out of Sculpey clay.

And here are some Brits waiting to be painted...

Off to enjoy the rest of the holiday with the family, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

AWI Campaign Game 1

Image result for tarleton attacked by dragoon

Apologies for taking a while to start fighting the campaign, but besides Thanksgiving, we also welcomed our first grandchild into the word! She is healthy and happy and I am of course planning to introduce her to gaming, although this week is probably a little early. Mom and Dad are doing fine and my wife spent the night to give them a night's sleep.Now on to the show...

My lovely and talented wife has pitched in to help with the campaign, and she divided the Patriot forces while I divided the British / Loyalists.

The first battle was between the detachments both armies sent west to the backcountry, the Order of Battle was:


3 Leaders
Lee’s Legion Dragoons
Lee’s Legion light Infantry (Skirmishers)
1st VA Continentals
2nd VA Continental’s
1 x Artillery
5 militia
1 Riflemen

British / Loyalist

3 Leaders
2 x British Legion Dragoons
2 x Combined Light Infantry (Aggressive Elite, Skirmishers)
British Legion Infantry
7th Foot
Jaegers (Elite, Skirmishers, Rifles)

We used the latest incarnation of my OHW House rules found here.

The Battle

I randomly selected a map from Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames scenarios and rolled up a river crossing.  For narrative purposes, Morgan's plan is not to fight with a river at his back, but to wait on the other side and defeat Tarleton in detail as they crossed.

Here Morgan ponders his / her plans. 

 As Tarleton, my plan was based on shock action, I would personally lead my Dragoons across the bridge and disperse the militia, leaving room for the rest of my troops to cross and deploy.
I managed to steamroller one militia unit, but the beautiful General Morgan reoriented her forces to contain me and I did not have enough space to bring more troops across.

 Here we have the Rebels pouring fire into the brave British Legion dragoons while the British Legion foot prepares to cross and support them.  The lights fire across the river sporadically.

Here we have the climax of the battle.  The Dragoons and Legion infantry that crossed the river are annihilated by concentrated Rebel fire.  Tarleton killed (unknown whether during or after the battle...)  

With reports that Tarleton was hor de combat, Major Newmarsh of the 7th foot takes command and calls off the attack.  The British fall back and prepare to regroup with Cornwallis' main army.

After Action Review

My Take on Events:

From a campaign standpoint, the British have permanently lost half of the British Legion Dragoons and all of the British Legion foot, as well as Tarleton himself.  On the other hand, it was not nearly the disaster of the actual Battle of Cowpens, where Tarleton lost his entire command.

From a rules standpoint, we have not played these in a while and it took a little while for both of us to get back up to speed.  The next game between the main armies will be an open field battle and should be interesting, with more room to maneuver. 

Jozi's Take on Events:

As a relative newbie to the wargaming life, I will have to say that I was a bit frustrated with the whole bridge thing. Not only did the bridge limit strategy, but the troop abilities also limited setup choice.Take, for instance, I had 5 units of really lousy militia with a firing capability of two base widths. Great range, but the troop's firepower was limited by 1/2 when compared to everything else on the table. So, I ended up seeing the militia as war fodder as I immediately lost two entire units to the British Calvary. 

Being a very big poor sport, I got pissy and pulled back all of the "good troops" in my mental attempt to start over again (British set me up). This big baby move actually proved to be a good idea. 

Having cleared the field a bit, I then moved everything that I felt was "fodder" in direct line with that darn bridge. This included the cannon, which I quickly fell in love with. After a few lucky rolls and some aggressive rallying of the troops (to clear up some hits), the British began a running! 

Working with newbies or your wife, keep in mind a few things:
Tip #1 Always be clear when asked a question. When asked if my riflemen were safer in the treeline or pulled back, the British cunningly said "Oh yeah! They are untouchable in the treeline." Not true, if you roll a 6. 
Tip#2 Never set up newbies, or your wife's, men. No need to say more on this.
Tip#3 Keep scenarios simple.
Tip#4 Run through some open field practice games. 
Tip#5 Keep the newbie focused on using the quick reference sheet. That way the seasoned gamer is a bit less responsible for all the other person's bad die rolls and strategy errors.