Why Jozi's Tin Man? This has caused a little confusion. It is in reference to a Savage Worlds game I played with my wife, Jozi, where she played a flying monkey and I was a Tin Man. Hence Jozi's (possessive) Tin Man.

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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!