Monday, 19 May 2014

The Battle for Grange Farm

As anticipated in my last post, and as already reported by Roger, I hosted another game of AVBCW Chain of Command this weekend. This was an attack/defence with the BUF (played by Derek & John) attacking to take 'Grange Farm' (named after a farm near here incidentally) defended by Roger's Anglicans. It turned out to be a spectacularly bloody encounter and I think one of the best games I've had.

Two views of the table. The farm itself is the new 4-Ground farm complex (in 15mm) with which I am rather pleased; I like them even if they are not to everyone's taste. Flanking the farm was a rather nice orchard which was left entirely unmolested by the parties.

Patrol Markers locked down
The patrol phase was rather odd. The Anglicans placed all of their markers near to the farm and the BUF in attack then rolled a '6', the maximum number of moves available to them. This meant that they were already pretty close before the patrol phase proper started and there was very little room to manoeuvre. The Anglicans ended up with jump off points just short of the farm but allowing them to deploy into the rear buildings but not the more forward ones while the BUF's were on the other side of the road to the farm.

BUF on the hill overlooking the farm
In the early part of the game, the Anglicans had the better of it, rolling multiple 6's to keep the initiative repeatedly and at one time rolling four 6's and finding a stash of beer in the farm! Roger was able to deploy one section into the farmhouse and a second section also on the perimeter. There was also a sniper in the upper floor of the farmhouse. The sniper was though rubbish getting in only two shots in the whole game and killing no-one; I think he spent the rest of the time drinking the beer!

The BUF meanwhile deployed two sections on the hill overlooking the farm. They were able to shoot up one of the Anglican sections as they crossed the farm-yard but pretty soon things evened up and one of the BUF sections was just about wiped out.

The BUF close on the farm perimeter
In time the Anglican's luck began to run out. A third section of BUF deployed and working with the other remaining section they were able to push forward to the the farm perimeter.  Their plan was to try to get both sections in close combat with a single Anglican one. The tactic didn't quite work several times but nevertheless they still pressed on.
The MkVI threatens the farm's flank
As for support from the BUF they had an absolute monster machine; a Mk VI Vickers light tank ! (and an extra Lewis gun team). Like the sniper though the tank wasn't destined to achieve much. It worked its way around the side of the farm to a position to hit the Anglicans in the farm yard. However, after only one shot, the Anglicans were able to deploy their Boys AT rifle in the woods with a flanking shot. They hit (just). Here are the damage dice for the rifle:

What to roll when you hit a tank from the side...
That's 3 'hits' from the side (4-6 to hit) and the tank rolled no saves! That's tank knocked out in one hit! Not exactly what I was expecting. The Boys team then proceeded to crawl back into the woods.

That's one smug Boys team in the trees
Having lost their tank the BUF then had no option but to carry on pushing into the farm the hard way, with bayonet & grenade. There was another Anglican section in the rear of the farm but the two BUF sections were too much for them.

The odds are not good for the Anglican in the farm
In the end the Anglicans were pretty much reduced to just one senior leader in the farm yard, a depleted Lewis team who exited the side of the farmhouse, one sozzled sniper and a force morale of 1. So objective taken, though it must be said at pretty heavy cost. If this were a campaign... but it isn't.

OK we give in. It's a rubbish farm anyway.
So an excellent game and my thanks to John, Derek and Roger for coming and playing with my toys. One very odd thing about this game was the lack of Chain of Command dice. This wasn't an especially short game but neither side managed to get a single complete CoC dice and in fact the BUF rolled only one '5' in the whole game!

I feel now that I've reached a bit of a decision point and there are several ways I could go with this project. In many ways I'd love to run a campaign, but a problem with that are that I don't think I/we play often enough to maintain the momentum for it. Or I could design some more specific scenarios to get some of the unused supports onto the table (that political officer for one..). Or then again it would be interesting to see how it compares to play VBCW using TFL's Mud & Blood rules which incidentally  Rich Clarke (the author of both sets) has said he thinks fit the flavour of VBCW better. Either way I want to fill out a couple of gaps in my collection and get a bit more terrain sorted out, including hopefully a couple more buildings.

Happy gaming.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Chain of Command - A belated report

As I am about to run another game of VBCW Chain of Command today, I thought I really ought to put up at least a short post on the last game I did.

This was a solo effort using the attack/defend scenario. In this case a platoon of BUF were attacking with the support of a Mk VI light tank and a Vickers MMG  (which sounds pretty strong) against a platoon of Anglican League supported with a 25mm "1pdr" AT gun.

In truth it wasn't  a great game and the attack was a miserable failure (serves those fascists right, doesn't ?). I think I made the mistake of trying to attack piecemeal over too broad a front rather than concentrating effectively.

Here are  few pics taken with my i-Pad. I've been using this increasingly for taking my gaming photos. (I used it for the shots of Salute for instance.) I have been finding it easier somehow to get in close than with my D-SLR.

The BUF confidently advance with the support of their Mk VI...

...and are opposed by a section of Anglicans

Oh look an AT gun just deployed!
A near miss causes the tank's driver to panic

On the other flank another Anglican section catches their opponents in the open

The tank goes around the building to avoid the AT gun.
When the gunners re-align their piece... it misses!

A final section of BUF assault one of the buildings. They succeed but are then wiped out by the guys waiting to ambush them on the other side.

At this point I gave up. Although the BUF still had their tank and an MMG (which had been largely ineffective) all three of their sections were pretty much out of action.

Let's hope today's game turns out to be more even.

Sunday, 11 May 2014


Just a short post and not very related to wargaming...

We have been clearing out our garage and garden store (which serves as our loft as our cottage doesn't really have one). In the course of this some unexpected items turned up which I rescued. Here are a couple which I thought might interest some of my readers (assuming there are any out there):

Jomsborg was a society at university which held discussion meetings on works of fantasy literature and had more than its fair share of role-payers such as myself. 1987 was the year that Jackie, my future wife, was the chairperson (Reeve) and I took the minutes of the meetings (Runecaster)

This is a map of part of the world, Lalande, where my first FRP campaign was set. The world is still actively used (not by me but by others). This version of the map was in fact drawn back in 1984 by a well-known blogger...

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Age of Renaissance - The Stag Party

Well I this is the first stag party I've been to where we played board games. My mate Chris, who's getting married in a month or so, decided to have a board games weekend for his stag do as, like me, he's not a great drinker. Yesterday we played Avalon Hill's Age of Renaissance game, which imho is one of the best board games out there (though sadly it's no longer available).

For those who aren't familiar with it, this is a civilization type game set in the middle ages, the powers being Venice, Genoa, Barcelona, Paris, London & Hamburg. It involves a mixture of counters on the map, card play for things like commodities, leaders and nasty events like the black death and revolutionary uprisings. It has lots of civilization advances to buy and has some very clever balancing mechanics. The tag line is that its all about competition between merchants rather than being combat between armies, but the military aspect is not far beneath the surface.

The board at game start
I've played my fair share of AoR but this was the first time I've played it 6-player so I was particularly pleased to get the opportunity to do so. I was fortunate to get an initial cloth/wine card and with a bid of 2 for choice of capitals  secured Barcelona (one of my top two choices). The other players were Andy (Venice), Dafydd (Genoa), Diana (Paris), Chris (London) & Phil (Hamburg).

Here we are raring to go at the start

The position the end of turn 1

In all the game lasted some 9 turns which took about 10 hours to play (I didn't say it was a short game), but we did finish successfully. Perhaps fittingly our 'stag' Chris won though I gave him a run for his money scoring 1970 to his 2100. We both made mistakes; I would have done considerably better if I had chosen to buy Industry on the last turn but then Chris would have done a lot better if he'd remembered to buy Laws of Matter which would have protected him from the very nasty alchemy card which I played on him. Commiserations to Dafydd who got hit by a particularly nasty war which took 3 provinces from him & which he never really recovered from. Thankfully nobody's misery score got too out of hand though at one point Hamburg reached 450 (I think) which is close to the stage where you can slide quite easily into chaos.
Black Death hits London - but its too late to really hurt

It's getting quite late now...
We were all feeling pretty tired by the end but were still  in good humour.  I at least thoroughly enjoyed myself; great game. Interestingly playing with 6 players did not make the game much slower than with fewer players as there are still the same number of cards to be played and that's the controlling step. There is obviously more 'down-time', though, when it's someone else's turn to play.

Looking forward to Chris & Anna's big day; very best wishes for that.