OLM4 game – setting up the table

Last night saw myself and Dave going through a dry run of our table set-up for the scenario we are running during Operation Market Larden #4 (which is only 8 days away – Eeek!)

DSC_0003 27th May

I think we are pretty happy with the layout. (Note – I forgot to take a photo earlier in the evening – the table now has the troops and support options on the table)

Whilst we were at it we sorted out our forces and the support options

British Airborne (Force Points)

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Infantry Platoon (+2) – see below

Sherman Troop (2 Shermans + 1 Firefly) (+2) – Dave finished painting those this week

Support: PIAT Team (+2), Vickers MMG (+4), Forward Observer and 3″ Mortar Battery (+4), Engineers Section with JL (+4), Pre-Game Barrage (+2)

This gives 20 Force Points in total – we removed the 2 Sniper Teams from the British force, thus removing 6 force points from the total, as it didn’t seem appropriate to have snipers during what was an all-out assault.

German Panzer Grenadiers – Regular (Force Points)

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Infantry Platoon (+1)

Tank Destroyer Platoon (Marder III) (+1)

Support: MG42 MMG (+4), Forward Observer with 80mm Mortar Battery (+4)

This gives 10 Force Points in total, leaving the German forces with a further 10 points to spend on other support options.

We amended the support choices available to static defences, plus a couple of command options:

Maximum one each of: Adjutant (1), Senior Leader (2)

Minefield (1) – maximum 2, Barbed Wire (1) – maximum 4, Road Block (2) – maximum 1, Entrenchments – infantry team(1)- maximum 4, Ambush Marker (2) – maximum 2.

Review: Force On Force

Force on Force
Ambush Alley Games & Osprey Publishing

Hardback, Full Colour, 224 Pages

Force on Force (FoF) are the new Wargames rules from Osprey Publishing. They are actually the second edition of the rules, the first edition being published in 2009.

This new edition of the rules is actually an amalgamation of the Force on Force first edition with Ambush Alley, the first rule set produced by Ambush Alley Games.

The rulebook is a hardback book, 224 pages in length and produced in full colour, with many colour photos from military archives, pictures of miniature wargames and illustrations from Osprey’s catalogue of artwork.

The first edition of the FoF rules also covered World War II, but this edition concentrates firmly on post-World War II conflicts. As well as amalgamating the Ambush Alley rules into this new edition, this book also contains completely revamped rules for mechanised combat.

The game is designed as a Platoon level skirmish wargame, with the smallest tactical unit being the fire team, rather than individual troops. It is aimed at using 15mm, 20mm or 28mm scale figures. Some manipulation of table size, movement rates and ranges are required when switching between scales, but this is very easily managed.

Rather unusually, the game is specifically designed to be played with scenarios, so that you usually start the game at the point of first contact with the enemy.

The rule mechanics use a reaction system, rather than a more traditional I-go-U-go turn sequence, which means that the game is very interactive, with little downtime. That interaction extends to the combat system, where players use opposed dice rolls in order to resolve firefights.

Many skirmish-level games concentrate on the weapons that are used by individuals, and have that as the defining factor for any model. FoF takes the approach that training and experience are a much bigger element in the use of firearms, rather than what sort of weapon you use – so an assault rifle is a much greater threat in the hands of an experience professional soldier, rather than a newly recruited member of the local militia.

FoF uses different types of dice to reflect troop experience and training, whilst keeping the target score the same. The ‘golden rule’ of FoF is that you have to roll ‘4’ or more on a die in order score a success. The difference is that whilst an inexperienced trooper would be rolling this on a D6, an experienced veteran would be using a D10 – it makes the game easy, as you only really have to remember a single number…roll ‘4’ or higher.

Weapons range isn’t really a factor in FoF. It takes the (rather unusual) approach that modern weapons, with the very odd exception, would be able to shoot across the entire board, as the area represented on the average wargaming table is actually quite small – even when using 15mm figures. Therefore, Line of Sight becomes more the governing factor during combat. However, it is easier to hit targets that are closer to you, so there is a bonus for close range.

I really like the way that modifiers work in FoF. Many games use modifiers to amend the target score that must roll on individual dice. In FoF, the target score remains the same, but the number of dice you roll is amended. Remember, you are not working with individual models, but with small units and fire teams. Therefore, extra dice can cause extra hits (or give a bonus to defence), but modifiers don’t unduly unbalance the chances of success.

The book contains rules for complete combined arms operations, including infantry combat, mechanized combat, air mobile operations, close air support and artillery. The rules are also divided into what are called ‘Kinetic Operations’, where two regular forces are pitted against each other, and ‘Asymmetric Operations’ where regular forces are pitted against irregular, non-professional troops.

The standard rules take up half the book. The other half is made up of advanced rules for Infantry combat, notes on small unit tactics, a campaign system, sample unit organisations and several scenarios (Falklands Conflict,Vietnam,Chechnyaand Yom Kippur)

As the game is designed to be played in a scenario format, the companion supplements being published for the game are a collection of scenarios based on particular conflicts. The first, published at the same time as the main rulebook, is the Road toBaghdad, Iraq2003. This book contains a total of 19 scenarios, which follows the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The book is soft back, 104 pages and produced in full colour with both illustrations and photos from the operation. As well as the 19 scenarios, the book also contains sample organisation lists for the US Army, USMC, British Army, Royal Marines, Iraqi regular Army, Iraqi Republican Guard and Iraqi Paramilitary Organisations.

This is the first of 4 books published this year, the others being Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan2001 – 2010),AmbushValley(Vietnam War) and Cold War Gone Hot (What-if 1980’s Russian invasion of Europe)

Ambush Alley / Force on Force were already one of my favourite sets of wargames rules. Their implementation in this new edition sets a very high standard for others to follow. A great set of rules just got a whole lot better.

Force on Force is reviewed in episode 73 of the Meeples & Miniatures podcast.

Review: Hail Caesar

Hail Caesar

Genre: Ancients

Level: Army

Publisher: Warlord Games

Author: Rick Priestly

Hardback, Full Colour, 192 Pages.

Wargames rules, it seems, are somewhat like buses: You seem to spend ages waiting for a set to come along, and then two or three arrive at the same time. Last year (2010) this was true of Napoleonic rules, this year it’s the turn of Ancients, with several new Ancients rulesets being published at approximately the same time.

One of these is Hail Caesar, the latest offering from Mr. Priestly and Warlord Games. As you may expect, following on from the successful publication of Black Powder, these rules follow roughly the same format, and can indeed be seen as the Ancients ‘version’ of these earlier rules – or you could alternatively view these rules as a progression from Rick Priestley’s earlier work on Warmaster Ancients – either viewpoint has it’s merits.

Hail Caesar is a 192 page, hardback book, which is produced in sumptuous full-colour and is lavishly illustrated with photos of many different miniatures.

The rules cover most of the ancient period, from Biblical times to the Crusades.

As with Black Powder before them, these rules are designed to play multi-player games on a large table (typically 12’ x 6’) although much smaller games are possible – playing with 6mm figures, about the smallest table area you can play on is 4’ x 3’, halving all movement distances and ranges.

The rules are relatively fast play, using a pretty free and easy movement system and a straight forward combat system which aims to reflect both the impact of hard-hitting troops and the endurance of highly trained and disciplined soldiers.

The command and control system will be familiar to anyone who has played Warmaster Ancients or one of its deriritives. However, just in case you’re not, your army is divided into a number of commands, each with a leader. Leaders have a leadership value (an average of 8), and you have to roll equal to or less than this value on 2d6 in order to issue an order to a unit. If you pass, you issue 1, 2 or 3 orders to the unit, depending on how much you rolled under your leadership test. You may only roll once for each unit in a turn, and a failure immediately stops that leader from issuing any further orders that turn.

Movement across the board is pretty fast – Infantry move a 6”, Cavalry at 9” and Light Cavalry at 12”, so issuing 3 orders to a cavalry unit could potentially see it racing off right across the board, so that use and wording of orders is actually quite important…simply ‘Advance towards the enemy’ may not be enough!

Combat takes the ‘buckets of dice’ approach, with several d6 being thrown when in combat, each needing to score 4+ in order to hit (though some modifiers may apply). Many units the get a morale save which can save some hits (this is variable, dependent upon the unit) and the unit then takes the unsaved hits, which affects the units Stamina. You finally roll on another table to see the outcome of the combat. So, whilst each combat has 3 different dice rolls involved, it soon becomes quick and easy to carry out. There are rules for units to support each other in combat, and various special rules cover combat outcomes. Perhaps the most controversial rule is within the combat system, as almost every troop type (with the exception of Infantry armed with Pike, Long Spear or Double Handed Weapons or Cavalry with Heavy Lances/Kontos) gets a short range missile attack (up to 6”) – this represents the activity of skirmishers with the formation, or the formation being able to throw various hand weapons prior to melee combat taking place. Although the system works well, I think it certainly raises a few eyebrows.

Although the book is just under 200 pages long, less that half are actually devoted to rules. The rest of the book contains details of several scenarios that we fought with the rules in different eras, showing how the rules can be amended to better fit various times in history, or particular scenarios.

Ultimately, these rules are scenario driven. They do contain a fairly rudimentary points system (added, it would seem, under duress by the author), but that is not how the game is designed to be played. The lack of points has already ruffled feathers on various web forums, as it seems that some players seem to struggle without them. However, I do not see why you simply cannot use army lists created under another system and then bring that army to these rules.

Also (and this is made plain in the text) these rules are not intended for tournament play – which would also back up the original lack of a points system

My own experience of playing these rules so far has been a positive one – there is a minor quibble about using metric measurement for unit frontages, but Imperial measurements for movement and ranges, but my biggest complain is the lack of an index in the rules. Although the rules contain both a table of contents and an appendix with a rules summary, looking for key information (in our case, notes on troop disorder) ended up with several minutes spent frantically leafing back and forth through the book until we found the relevant passage. Surely publishers should have learnt by now that if they are going to produce a 200 page rulebook, they need to ensure that it is navigated easily.

Ultimately, Hail Caesar is a fast-play set of Ancients rules that gives an excellent basis for gaming the period, whilst actively encouraging the player to adapt the rules to meet the challenges of particular battles or conflicts.

The design philosophy is summed up in the introduction: “a ruleset that allows several friends to get together and play an exciting game over the course of an evening, sharing banter and a few drinks, and still have time to go for a curry afterwards.”

It does exactly what it says on the tin, and I, for one, am really enjoying them.

Hail Caesar is reviewed in episode 77 of the Meeples & Miniatures podcast.

Website Maintenance #2

As part of the website maintenance, I will be moving several pages that I have previously separated (such as reviews) into the main body of the website.

As a result of this, I will be creating some new website posts, but these will be for ‘old’ entries. Again, please bear with me during this work

Many thanks

Neil

Website Maintenance

I’m currently looking at performing a major update to the website – I am planning on changing the WordPress theme, which will ultimately change the look and feel of the website to a certain extent.

I’m going for a premium ‘Magazine’ theme, which should not only make things easier to find, but also give a better user experience (and allow for a bit of advertising space).

I’ve got some preparation work to do for this – like finally sorting out my Categories and Tags, so things are going to changing slowly over the course of the next few days as I start moving things around.

Then, at some point, I will ‘hit the button’ and then probably spend the next week fixing everything!

Please bear with me during the change – I’m sure the final result will be a website that is more visually appealing and easier to use.

UK Games Expo – No long now…

UKGEThe 10th UK Games Expo starts in just over a week – 3 days of what has become the UKs largest Hobby Games convention.

This year will see the show get even bigger, as the trade stands will now be in the NEC, rather than in the NEC Hilton Metropole. Given that over the last couple of years things have been getting a little cramped (to say the least!) the expanding venue should mean that there is a lot more space for punters to wander around the trade stands, with the added bonus that there should now also be much more room for organised and open play.

The event covers all aspects of Hobby Games including Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games and Role Playing Games, but also includes Live Action Role Playing, Cosplay and a whole host of seminars.

There are lots of other events on including regional tournaments for games ranging from Netrunner to X-Wing, Carcassonne to 40K, Catan to Guildball7 Wonders to Dreadball, although several of the competitions are now fully booked.

There are also two live podcasts being recorded during the event by The Dice Tower and Shut Up and Sit Down

The list of exhibitors is pretty big too.

I’ll be there on Friday 3rd June. I hope to grab some interviews, take lots of pictures and just maybe play the odd game. I’ve been to all-but-one of these events, and can honestly say that it is one of the best gaming events you will be able to attend in the UK.

The event tickets are priced (for adults) at £12 for one day. £20 for two days or £25 for all three days.

On the Painting Table – w/c 23rd May 2016

Sorted out my painting schedule yesterday (shockingly, I do have one!) and grabbed the remaining models I need to paint to ensure that I have all the models available to play the Kampfgruppe Von Luck pint-sized campaign, which is next on the list of scenario books.

Painting table

We have a French Car from Peter Pig, two Lorraine Schleppers (the 150mm variant) and an SdKfz 251/22 – the three latter models are all from Battlefront. All these vehicles are 15mm.

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Also, the 6mm French for SP2 are still awaiting painting, having been sat around for a couple of weeks.

A Podcast & Blog about Miniature Wargames & Strategy Boardgames

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