Tally Ho!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Open Combat Skirmish Rules - Test Game

Image result for open combat
This weekend we christened my brothers new Wargames room with a test game of some new skirmish rules he bought at Attack'16, back in the heady days of summer. The rules themselves are fairly generic and so would suite all periods from Ancients through the beginning of the Renaissance period.

I think its fair to say the author is aiming for something heroic in nature rather than completely bog-standard chaps fighting and there is certainly plenty of Fantasy examples given in the rules themselves.

My brother's intent is to use them for the mythical Trojan Wars, so very much in tune with the heroic style the rules seem to favour

The Rules

The rules are very simple and straight forward with the basics grasped after a few turns of play. You control small bands of figures (we used 5 each) and take alternate turns. You move alternatively, with all your troops having 2 actions each (shoot, move, fight etc). Each figures completes their actions in turn but if you attempt something complex (e.g. combat) and fail (usually rolling 1 on D6)then your turn ends early.

Troops each have a set of characterises;  SPEED (movement), ATTACK (fight/shoot), DEFEND (armour etc), FORTITUDE (hit points), and MIND (morale). Combat is very simple; if your ATK is less than or equal to the enemy DEF you roll 1D6 to attack. If ATK is greater but not double you roll 2D6. Finally if ATK is more than double DEF you roll 3D6. There are some factors that modify both ATK or DEF. Having rolled your dice you chose the result you like and then apply the affects to the enemy which are usually nothing, wounds or pushbacks. Mostly you will chose to wound but there are times a push-back might be better.

Certain troops or weapons give you additional abilities for example a spear means you can attack from 1" away or a large shield can be used to bash people back. So a lot of the tactics are choosing your activation order and making the most of your special abilities.

The Game  

For this game we pitted Achilles, Ajax, and Hector against each other, all trying to escort sheep to the temple in the centre of the table and sacrifice them to win the favour of the gods. There is a special golden sheep in the temple worth extra points.

The table from Ajax end

The table from Achilles end
All three of us adopted a fairly similar strategy of grabbing the nearest sheep and then making for the temple in the hopes of grabbing the golden sheep to win the game

Hector moves forward. The swordsmen have weak armour but a high attack 

Ajax with his heavily armed spearmen. slow but well protected

Achilles - average troops but he is a fearsome fighter 

Ajax poses by a chariot
The early moves saw Hector and Ajax square-up near the temple while Achilles moved forward under cover of his archers fire. Hector and Ajax became embroiled in a shoving-match to the north of the main temple with neither side able to inflict much damage.
Achilles heroically herds sheep 

Ajax approaches in the distance

Battle is joined with Hectors skirmisher attacked by Ajax
The tussle ebbed and flowed a little and we learnt and important lesson - if you are pushed back into an opponent / impenetrable terrain then you lose a hit instead, so careful positioning can cause the enemy problems. Luckily a large shield enables you to resist the wound so heavy spearmen are fairly safe from this.  
Achilles secures the temple

Hector and Ajax slug it out
With his opponents distracted Achilles was able to get his sheep to the temple and risked also capturing the golden sheep. Ajax and Hector reacted quickly launching a combined attack on the temple. Although it caused few hits it did push Achilles and his men back. This was aided by Achilles archer throwing a dreaded double-1 when he was the first figure activated, meaning a turn was missed a critical point. Had Achilles missed a chance to win the favour of the gods? 

A scrum forms in the temple

Achilles tries to hold the centre ground

This is where the importance of the push-back rules came to the fore. Through some careful choice of activation sequence Achilles was able to push-back his enemies in such a way that he could sacrifice both his sheep and the golden sheep to take an unassailable lead. The Archer was especially useful as it fired into the backs of Achilles enemies.

The great man himself was accumulating wounds rapidly though, as the became target of Ajax and Hector's attacks. Fortunately he was able outrun their heavy spearmen and escape the field.   

MVP = the sniping archer who cleared the way so the sacrifices could be made

The Verdict

The whole game took about 2 hours but we played at a leisurely pace and had to learn the rules as went. It certainly produced a fun game and the key points were quickly remembered. What we probably did nt do was make as much use as we might of the various special abilities.

The key will be choosing interesting scenarios to give the battle some context as the combat rules are pretty straight forward. We would a also perhaps want to reduce the FORTITUDE a little if we were playing with larger numbers of figures as its relatively hard to kill well-protected troops.  

Friday, 2 December 2016

Chain of Command Eastern Front Campaign - week 9

The last battle saw the Russians victorious and so they continued their counter-attack with another Attack vs Defence scenario. The battle took place through fairly heavily wooded countryside, with a narrow stream bisecting the table and a farm in a  central position.

It was slightly split strategies this week with the Russians reverting to a more traditional formation and using the KV-1, but retaining the scouts. The Axis forces opted for an entirely infantry force adding additional Fallschirmj√§ger squad and a Finnish Panzerscrekt as their reinforcements.

View from the Axis side

And from the Russian side
The Russians found themselves fairly comprehensively out-patrolled and so were largely pinned against their own baseline except for one Jump-off Point in a wood on the Axis' right flank.

The battle opened with the Russians fielding a senior commander and the KV-1. Neither move worked especially well though for the Russians. Realising he has entered the field at the wrong point the Russian officer tried to manoeuvre to a better position but was mowed-down by German MG fire. The KV-1 is dispatched by a Panzerscrekt team lurking in the farm. All-in-all not the start the Russians wanted. 

Ouch - man down

KV-1 brews-up and the wargames point makes a welcome return
After an early reverse the Russians gamely continued the attack though, pouring large numbers of infantry into their centre and against the Finns on the Axis right flank. In the centre the attack was slow-going as the Germans had adopted good blocking positions and the Russians were reluctant to attack. On the Axis right the Russian infantry tried to flank the Finnish position but were badly mauled by well emplaced Finnish infantry.  

The woods are heaving with Sovs - shame there was no artillery

Germans deploy to counter the threat

More Germans take to the field

Flanking Russians come under Finnish fire
In the end the Axis position was simply too strong and the Russians were forced to fall-back on the starting lines with the assault abandoned. So next week the Axis forces will resume their attack with rumours there might be a Tiger in the area.

Germans dig-in near the bridge

Soviets preparing to withdraw in the distance !


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Chain of Command Eastern Front Campaign - Week 8

Following last week's successful defence the Russians had the opportunity to launch a counter-attack in an attempt to drive-back the Axis forces and restore their front-lines. We played this battle as the Attack vs Defence scenario in fairly dense farm-land. We also made a tweak to the lists and rated the Germans as Regular vs Veteran. The Finns remained as Veterans.  

The battlefield from the Russian right flank

And from the Russian left
Both sides selected infantry-heavy forces with the Russians also deploying a Scout Squad for the first time - there are Veteran troops who can move rapidly but still remain in cover due to their national characteristics bonus. They soon made their presence felt by capturing a German jump-off point in the very first turn that had been deployed too close to a Russian one. Ouch!

The Russians plan was a simple one - deploy a small holding force opposite the well defended church and load their right flank where they would make a typically Russian massed infantry attack. This began well as they badly mauled a German infantry section advancing through a wood and also a second section deployed to protect the churches flank.

Russians deploy in force on their right flank
In the centre the Russian scouts advanced cautiously against the Finns who were well dig-in around the church. This was a strong defensive position and the Russians made very little impression on the Finns.   

Russian scouts move through the corn

The confident Finns are well set 

On the Russian right the Germans were suffering badly, having lost 2 infantry sections routed and a third pinned-down by heavy fire. Under cover of  a maxim MMG and 2 infantry sections, the Russians were able to advance through the woods and threaten the left flank of the church. 
Russians sir, thousands of um

Feeling pretty secure in their trenches the Finns tried to launch a limited counter-attack by advancing against the Russian left flank through the corn-fields. The advance was cautious though and did not have the hoped-for effect of drawing-off some of the Russian reserves.  

Finns move to the flank 

Russian scouts keeping an eye on things
With the Germans close to routing their last section was deployed into the church with the Finns moving to cover the flank in their place. However this was not enough to prevent the Russians from capturing a second Jump-off Point, which was enough to end the game. 

Finns lining the trenches

Russians overrun a second Jump-off Point
So a rare win for the Russians and their first on the offensive. Rating the Germans as regular certainly made it a closer game even though this meant the Russians got less support options.  In this game the Patrol Phase was certainly key with the Axis loss of a Jump-off Point in the first turn really putting them on the back foot. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Chain of Command Eastern Front Campagin - Week 7

This week saw the Axis forces on the attack again having pushed-aside the Russian delaying action last week. For this scenario we revert to Capture an objective, which in this case was a small farm deep within the Russian defensive position.

The terrain was very dense with lots of small hills simulating rolling steppes with lots of hollows to hide in. The Axis troops had a central hill but a limited field of fire.

The Axis positions

The Russian commanders are poised to act
The game began in fairly cagey fashion as befitted the dense terrain - the Axis occupied the obvious cover near  their deployment area and the Russians brought on some infantry and the KV-1 to cover the objective. At this point the Russians spotted that they had forgotten to deploy a Jump-Off point on the objective, meaning that they would always have to move units to defend it.

KV-1 and foot-sloggers move to cover the farm 

Germans occupy a flanking position

More Russians, this time sheltering in a holl0w

The Finns make an appearance capturing a wood near their base-line
The first decisive intervention was the Germans deploying their armour, which moved up the hill and into position  to engage the KV. This was closely followed by an attempted Finnish flanking move under cover of the armour.

German armour

Finns hiding behind a hill
After a few rounds of fire the Germans managed to disable the KV without losing either of their precious tanks. The Russians countered the Finnish thrust by deploying further infantry and Maxims to cover the attack. This was enough to persuade the Finns to relocate to the centre, perhaps in the hopes of following the tanks into the Russians position.

Finns shift the axis of advance

More Germans appear to provide covering fire

Is that Bob Cratchit scratching away in the background? 
Secure, having safely dispatched the KV, the Axis forces then began a general advance, conscious that they had a limited time to capture the farm house.

Germans making their move
Finns supporting the Stug
With the Germans on the advance the Russians unleased their newly found secret weapon - the dreaded ambushing flamethrower. This is something which seems to attract a lot of attention on the CoC forums as its seen as too powerful a weapon. Given the Russians recent bad run they needed a boost, and it certainly turned-out that way. First it torched and Panzer IV and then it toasted an infantry squad.

Burn baby burn

This was enough to cause a pause in the Axis advance while they regrouped. This delay was enough to deny them the  chance of victory and with the light fading fast the Russians had held the line long enough to claim a victory. So a rare Russian win that would allow them to launch a counter-attack next week.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

28mm Punic Wars - the journey is complete

After about 3 years of patient collecting and painting I've finally amassed enough troops to stage the Punic Wars in 28mm. Its always been a favourite period of mine, and lets be honest who does nt fancy themselves as a Hannibal. I've played 15mm using both WRG 6th Edition and DBM , but its taken a while to getting around to replacing them with 28mm.

The Romans

The Roman's are arrayed here in a characteristic battle formation with supporting lines. From the rear we have Triarii supported by Penal Legions, Hastati / Principes, Latin allies, and finally Velites at the front. Most of the figures are Victrix 28mm plastics.

The whole army
 Looking in close-up we can see the Velites leading the way with waves of heavy infantry in support.
The left flank
The right flank
To the rear as always are the doughty Triarii acting as the final reserve - rem ad Triarios redisse, or "it has come to the triarii" as they say.


The Carthaginians

The Carthaginian's are a real mixed-bag of mercenaries and allied African troops, so I've tried to reflect that in the army. They are set out here with Punic troops in the rear, Spanish / Celts in the first line and clouds of Libyan / Numidian skirmishers to the fore. The figures are a real mixture; Victrix, Warlord Games, Crusader Miniatures, Wargames Factory (nolonger available), and 1st Corps. The elephants are party scratch-built with Wargames factory Greeks as crew.  


The Carthaginian army 
The army is deployed with the elephants to the left and the cavalry to the right. As befits a Carthaginian army there is a significant contingent of Numidian cavalry.

Left flank - elephants stand ready

Right flank - the Punic cavalry supporting

Right flank - the Numidian's make ready 
Hannibal used large numbers of Spanish and Celtic troops to add bulk to his army, so I've done the same.

A big block of Celts itching to get into action
Finally the elite of the army are Hannibal's African veterans. Here I've depicted them in looted Roman equipment.

The veterans

The Game

Having tried several sets of rules without much luck we've heeded Lewisgunner's siren call and decided to give Armati II a whirl. The rules appear simple but have lots of subtle features so we're going to d a warm-up campaign first and refight part of the Dacian Wars. So watch this space for the eventual Punic campaign.