Thursday, 18 October 2018

TSOG Road Trip - Little Wars Melbourne 2018

Well I'm still catching up on posting old TSOG related stuff but now I'm time rich as I'm 'a bit unemployed' I'll get up to speed in no time. So you're all probably sick to death of Sixty-One Sixty-Five ACW posts so I'm putting up a report on the Road Trip Al, Dave and I took earlier this year to Little Wars Melbourne 2018....

The TSOG Road Trippers at Nihl RAAF Base Museum, from left to right; Otto Von Neudegg, Captain Darling and Colonel Spodding...

Okay over to Al...

Road Trip Little Wars Melbourne 2018

As dawn’s first light crested the Adelaide Hills, three brave adventurers set forth on a trek across the wilderness to explore the mystical land of “Victoria”. With their breath frosting in the early morning air, rugged up against the chill, SA’s finest loaded their wagon with supplies to sustain them as they headed eastwards. The rush to get ready was evident from the splash of blue toothpaste still drying on Dave’s cheek. The question had to be asked... Was it just toothpaste, or was it actually Avatar sprog? Thus the tone of the trip was set.


Melbourne Little Wars 2018 was our destination - those poor bastards had no idea what was about to hit them (spoiler, we were very well-behaved and only argued with one local all weekend, and we only called Al “Stu” once).

Al had promised to build a model of a volcano to be used as the centrepiece of a prehistoric dinosaur race (yes, really). So that was loaded in the boot carefully and off we went. 

The drive itself went pretty quickly - 750km seemed to fly by. We stopped for lunch at the Ararat Hotel (a wonderful art-deco building known locally as ‘the Rat’). An excellent counter meal (a schnitty of course) and a local brew later and we back on the road for the final leg.

We stayed at the Sandbelt Club hotel, which is not too far from LW’s venue - comfortable enough and cheap. An early morning and long drive took its toll and we all crashed around 9:30pm.

Another early morning though, and damned cold at that - 3C - and off we drove to the venue. Alan set up his table while Dave and Pete scoped out the traders and the Bring & Buy tables. Many hugs (manly ones of course) and handshakes were had with old friends. Well, Al’s old friends. Pete and Dave knew nobody there.

The hall was bustling early and around 20-25 games were in full flight by 10:00am. The traders tables were packed and the Bring & Buy was three deep with people looking for bargains. Everything was clicking into place for another excellent event.

Our lads were contributing to the local economy by emptying their wallets, refilling at a nearby ATM, and then emptying them once more. Dave managed to fill in some gaps in his 20mm North African WWII collection, Pete picked an absolute bargain of ACW figures, and Al got himself a new airbrush and compressor, plus a swag of WWII figures from his friend Boz. The car was filling rapidly with our haul of loot!

But the games... Al’s dinosaur race game was very popular, being run 5 times during the day. The average age of the players was around 8 however. Dave and Pete played a Bolt Action game and a lovely looking 54mm DBA game. One table that caught everyone’s eye was the Wings of Glory multi-player game. The interlocking, sculpted game mat was beautiful and, amazingly, was added to during the day - starting off with the fields and villages of France for a WWI game, later on new sections were added with the coast and English Channel for a WWII game.

Al's volcano...

The Crowd!

Bolt action North Africa game...

DBA Ancients...Elephants away!

Another standout was the game Twisted - a steampunk skirmish game designed and produced entirely in Australia. The production standards and quality were world-class and Pete had a game of it with the author.

The day finally drew to a close, leaving us worn out and footsore, and very much appreciating a lovely beer (thanks Nic) at a local art-house brewery.

Sitting with the organisers of the event and joining in the post-mortem was interesting, and gave us opportunities to add the ‘voice of the customer’ to the conversation. This was the point at which the disagreement occurred, but thankfully it didn’t escalate.

There was however a sneaky nudge to get us to organise the Adelaide version of the show. Hmmm.

But all beers must come to an end and we piled back to the Sand Paper Club to unload our stash and find somewhere to eat. Big Pig - oh yeah! Best ... ribs ... ever. But we drank them out of stout and another beer I forgot the name of. So (swaying now) we made it on foot to the hotel, joking along the way about blue sprog and sand paper (it all made sense at the time). It was time to survey the haul of cardboard, resin and lead piled up in the room. The many, many copies of Strategy & Tactics ought to keep Dave and Pete busy for some time to come.

An amazing day it was. So a huge thank you to the organisers (Dave, Mike and Nic), all the volunteers who helped run the day, and to the game masters who brought such energy and enthusiasm to their games.

Sunday.... Still in Melbourne.

We chose to extend our stay in the city since Al had some business to attend to. Pete and Dave went off to explore the Camberwell Market and visit the Shrine of Remembrance, while Al took off for a working breakfast with a client (hungover somewhat).

Not much to say about Sunday really, except that we did find a wargaming shop open in Ringwood that was just freaking amazing (link). If you’re in Melbourne and into wargaming, visit the House of War.

Fitting everything into the car along with the volcano was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but it was under control. Heading off home in the Monday morning peak hour was a little harrowing, but Pete’s expert navigation saw us onto the Westgate Bridge easily enough. Having SA number plates seems to ensure all the locals give you a wide berth.

On the way home, we followed a sign saying ‘historic RAAF base’ just outside of Nhill. Dave, being ex airforce, and Pete being a military buff, were keen to explore. Al, always the cynic, thought it would be little more than a sheep paddock and some crumbling concrete slabs. 

Wrong! This was absolutely the highlight of the trip. The airfield is still in use by the Nhill Aeroclub and there are two hangars there. One is a WWII vintage hangar in excellent condition, and the other is newer but has been set up as an aviation museum. We got there a little late in the afternoon and it was closed, but Len, the curator, came out and asked if we wanted a tour. Damned straight we did! There were three WWII aircraft inside the hangar - an Avro Anson undergoing restoration, a Wirraway in immaculate condition, and a Tiger Moth also in great condition as well as some very rare training simulators from the period - in working condition! Len’s enthusiasm and local knowledge made the tour all the more personal and enjoyable. Thank you so much.

Historic Nihl RAAF Base...

The Anson...

The Wirraway...

One of the 2 Link trainers...

We spent an hour and a half there and were just blown away at this hidden gem. We will definitely stop there again on the way through next time. (Link)

And that was the final noteworthy event on our journey. A fun, safe, and thoroughly enjoyable trip and one we all want to do again next year.

Thanks Al!!!!!!

Monday, 15 October 2018

AAR 3 - ACW Skirmish - Sixty-One Sixty-Five Rules

This fortnight we revisited Sixty-One Sixty-Five again, that's three sessions in a row!

The 7th New York Infantry Regiment stands firm as the Confederates of the 7th Virginia Infantry advance...

This time we’ve moved to scenario 2 in the rules where the Confederates are on the attack!

The Forces

CSA - Break Point 27
5 Veteran 7 man Squads
3 Volunteer 7 man Squads

USA - Break Point 23
1 Veteran 8 man Squads
5 Volunteer 8 man Squads
1 Artillery Piece with 4 man Crew (reinforcement)

The terrain is busy with buildings, fences and woods.

The CSA has the initiative at the beginning of each turn.

The objective of both sides is to break the opposition.


Dave and Al commanded the Rebels and Stu and I lined up as the Northerners.

Everything started well for the Confederates they hardly missed an activation rapidly advancing and occupying the three buildings and one of the fenced enclosures. On the other hand each of the Federal units were averaging a single activation per unit and advanced slowly.

Turn 2 and first blood went to the Yankees taking out a pair of Rebel skirmishers advancing down the road but this did not stop the Southerners rushing forward!

Meanwhile the Yankees were hanging out for their artillery to deploy but poor activation rolls resulted in no sign of the gun (in fact it only deployed on turn 8, the last turn we played!).

Lacking their artillery and even though out numbered the desperate Federals went over to the attack! They pushed troops forward on both flanks engaging the Rebels and successfully slowed them down.

Firing along the entire line continued to inflict casualties on both sides. Soldiers in blue and grey fell at a steady rate and at this point that favoured the Confederates with their stronger force.

Under pressure the Federal skirmishers surged forward and worked hard on shaking several Southerners. This weakened a couple of Squads and follow up charges were launched against them which looked promising but were well held by the Rebs!

With the Union troops fully engaged and over extended the Confederates deployed one of their reserve Squads to their right while the other continued to threatened the Yankees thinly held centre staying adjacent to the road. Here the Union Commander was looking exposed with only a handful of Zouaves between him and a lot of grisly looking Virginians, lucky he was wearing his brown trousers!

At this point the Federals received their artillery. They girded up their loins, reinforced their centre, unlimbered their cannon and then...we ran out of time so called it a night... DOH!

Some pictures...

The Rebel left comprised of 4 veteran Squads advances rapidly!

Overview after turn 2 with the Federals to the left. Rebel skirmishers already occupy all 3 buildings!

Rebel Squads fire and leap frog each other as they advance down the road. This was an effective way to advance and in the end only a handful of Zouaves and a pair of skirmishers face off against them!

To take pressure off the centre and while awaiting their artillery the Federals start attacking the Rebel left flank...

...and in the top left of this picture the Federals also attacked the Rebels right flank.

The boys from the Syracuse Zouaves face off against Southerners!

The fighting intensifies on the Rebel left/Federal right.

Overview of the battlefield turn 6 from the Confederate side. 1 off the 2 Rebels reserve Squads behind the barn deploys to face the Zouaves the other is ready to advance down the road.

The Rebel reserve, the right hand Squad moves to face the Yankees!

The Federal Commander looking a little worried!

The Zouaves start to turn the Rebel right routing the troops facing them!

The Rebel left/Yankee right continue to slug it out casualties are being inflicted on both sides at a steady this point the Rebs can afford the attrition! Where is that Yankee artillery?

Turn 8 and the Federal artillery arrived and to support it they redeployed more troops to their centre and then...
we ran out of time!!!!

View of the centre at the end of the game from the Rebels side, 2 Squads with another in reserve face off against 3 Yankee Squads and the cannon...

The same scene from the Federals point of view the artillery has arrived...

Overall view of the game from the CSA right the Zouaves can be seen in force and the Rebels flank is looking exposed.

Overall view of the game from the CSA left here the Rebels are better placed the squads are evenly balanced but they have 4 skirmisher pairs available to the Federals 2..

At this stage the losses were pretty even...

USA Break Point 23 current casualties 13
CSA Break Point 27 current casualties 13 + 3 routed

I think this game could have gone either way at this point, the cannon certainly gave Stu and I some fresh 'bite' but Dave and Al still had the numbers in their favour and their foot soldiers were much more maneuvrable than our gun...

This game took longer than the previous ones and after 2.5 hours we hadn’t finished I believed we needed another 30 minutes but Dave and Al had to leave early.

Two points came up in our post game discussion.

Firstly Dave and Al rolled exceptionally well activating their units and over 8 turns they only conceded two initiative turn overs! It may be a valid to say as more Squads on each side become experienced therefore gaining the resolve activation benefit along with leadership bonuses their activation roll will require only 2 and above on the dice so a double 1 will be required for the 2 failures to pass over initiative. This can make the unit activation sequence each turn a little less fluid.

Secondly it was mentioned by that rolling a single die per squad for firing or close combat was leaving the rules open to unbalanced results. Twice in this game crucial close combats that could have swung the game were thwarted by the defender rolling a 6 and the ratio result that could have been 4 to 1 plus turned out to be barely 1 to 1 so a minor victory, I see that differently as with the vagaries of the die the next crucial combat the defender could easily roll a 1!

We’ll replay this scenario again down the track hopefully to get a full result! Then we’ll look at playing a game incorporating cavalry...

To boost our forces and add some more colour to the table Al has ordered some Perry Zouaves destined to become colourful Southerners and I’ve got some of the Union Infantry in sack coats on the way at least half of which will be painted up as green clad sharpshooters!

I just have one old AAR to catch up on now a Blucher game, the Battle of Piave!

Next fortnight we dial back a few years for some Napoleonic Lasalle action!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

AAR 2 - ACW Skirmish - Sixty-One Sixty-Five Rules

The Syracuse Zouves, E Company of the 7th New York Infantry Regiment tackle Confederates of the 7th Virginia infantry...

Well Dave and I liked the Sixty-One Sixty-Five Rules so we played them again this fortnight and Al joined in! We replayed Scenario 1 from the rule book with the rules clarifications from our first play at hand from the Ganesha team!

Al and I took on the Yankees, he commanded the Zouaves and I was in charge of the regular volunteers. Dave took on the boys from the South for a second time.

With experience from our first run through we completed this game in about 2.5 hours and used the skirmishers to their full potential!

The First Blood scenario has the USA on the attack with 8 Squads of militia quality infantry and the CSA have 6 Squads 5 of militia and 1 Squad of Veterans (better armed and a higher activation score)...the objective is to break the enemy i.e. inflict one third casualties...

The AAR...

The sides face off...2 Yankee squads are off picture to the left of the main force in the top left...

The main Yankee attack rolls forward Al's Zouaves to the left and my regular infantry to the right. 1 squad got three activations and in column that gave them 3 moves they can be seen with some skirmishers rushing to the fence far ahead of the rest stuck in the ford...

The last 2 Yankee Squads on the Union right struggled across the second ford (our modification to the scenario)

The Northern skirmishers reached the fence first and can be seen here firing on the slower deploying Confederates (yep poor activation rolls for Dave again!)

The Rebels picked up their pace and their formed infantry reached the fence line pushing the Yankee skirmishers back

The Yankee right prepare to charge the fence line...

During the same turn as the Yankee right faced the fence the out numbered Rebels took up the attack and their right charged across the fence threatening Al's Zouaves...

The struggle for the fence line from the Southerners point of view, they have secured its length and on the right are across the fence menacing the Yankee left!

Under pressure the 7th New York tries to rush their 2 detatched Squads on their right into the action...

Mid game overview as the Confederates on the fence start to inflict casualties on the Yankees but the game is about to turn! Unseen to the left of the below picture a Yankee Squad has flanked the fence through the woods and on the right of the picture hidden by the trees 2 pairs of Confederate skirmishers were broken, this allowed the Yankee skirmishers to harass the Rebels who had crossed the fence shaking several men!

 Next turn the Yankees in the woods poured devastating fire into the Rebels and they began to withdraw and on the other flank the Rebs who had dared to cross the fence line were put to flight by a Squad of Zouaves after being shaken by the Union skirmishers...

From above you can see the Confederate right fleeing and on their left a pair of skirmishers have been deployed to try and cover the flank from the Yankees at the tree line...

Then disaster for the Rebels! They started to withdraw their line starting on the left and due to poor communications (read here a turn over of the initiative due to failing 2 out of 3 action rolls) the flank of the second squad was left exposed to the Yankees in the trees...these Yankees charged them in the flank inflicting enough casualties to push the Confederates past their breaking point, the picture below is post the close combat the 4 survivors of the Rebel squad hit in the flank can be seen fleeing and the flank of the next squad in the Rebel line can be seen....

Overview at the end of the game...

Okay game 2 of Sixty-One Sixty-Five done and Al like Dave and I is pleased with the rules. In this game both sides deployed their skirmishers more aggressively. These guys can reduce the effectiveness of the formed troops and also act as screens protecting the Squads behind them. They were often driven back but then just redeployed and were particularly annoying when used well. When Al caused casualties to 2 of Dave's skirmishing pairs putting them out of the fight that proved decisive on the Union left/Rebel right as it put great pressure on the Rebels formed troops. All in all a very entertaining evening! We decided to play this on our next session so that Stu can give the rules a try...this time we'll use the second scenario in the rules which includes an artillery piece oh yeah!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

AAR 1 - ACW Skirmish - Sixty-One Sixty-Five Rules

Confederate infantry defending a fence line in a skirmish while foraging near the Potomac June 1861...

Time for some ACW Skirmish action so Dave and I hit the gaming table with the Sixty-One Sixty-Five rules!

We played Scenario One from the Rules, the table started like this...


I'll let the pictures do the talking!

The Confederates were outnumbered but they had a fence line near there set up just asking to be defended so they moved toward it but suffered some shocking activation roles slowing their advance! 

 The Federal troops seeing Rebels in the distance crossed the stream before them as quickly as possible they were out to teach these Secessionists a lesson!

A couple of section of Yankees crossed at a small ford on their right flank (we added this ford into the setup to test the command control rules!)

 Third turn in and the first of the Southerners reached the fence and opened fire!

The Yankee view of the first shots...they are deploying into lines and with skirmishers...

 By turn five things were getting hot around the fence line, due to their slow advance the Confederates had got their only just before the Northerners... 

The command control rules work! Some advice don't get out of command range! In the game the Yankee flanking sections were pretty slow to advance due to the lack of leadership activation bonus's and the woods, the second section were so far behind they diverted toward the centre!

The fighting raged around the fence! The Yankee Zouaves on the right pushed the Rebels back from it elsewhere the Federals were in the open and enemy fire was causing casualties! 

Then came the crucial moment the Yankee section plodding through the woods emerged taking the Confederates in the flank just as several sections charged their front! The Rebels were pushed back...

Overall view after the Yankee section flank attack. You can see the Rebels had all but been driven back from the fence and their left had been 'turned'..

The Northern masses pushing forward their Captain and 'Colour Party' safely in the rear.
I know colours would rarely be in such skirmishes but they look so cool and the rules include a couple of benefits when you including a standard and a musician in the OOB... 

 The overall view at the end of the action...

The objective of the scenario was to break the opposition which meant inflicting 33% casualties on them (but this includes a sliding scale i.e. an infantryman is 1 casualty and an officer is 4 casualties!). Anyway in our game neither side was broken...

USA 12

We called the game at this point as we both had early starts the next day but were pleased with how the rules played. It was a great night including a lot of hollering and cheering in poor accents...funny most of our troops sound a bit like Foghorn Leghorn whether from the North or the South! I have a couple of questions on the rules I'll send through to Ganesha Games or maybe put on the Song of... Yahoo Group. Once we play another game I'll write up a rules review. We will definitely replay this scenario the whole way through though and soon!