Monday, 19 April 2021

 Terrain to cry over

Showing that nothing exceeds like excess

This is an example of why wargamers with spare time on their hands should only be allowed to make gaming plans about a week in advance. As part of the “annual plan out the meetings in advance so we know what we are doing” idea, we decided to try out the 1914 rules by Great Escape Games ‘sometime in May’. This decision was made in about February. Having time on their hands and incipient insomnia, the terrain makers amongst us started work on some suitable terrain over which a decent ww1 battle could be fought. 

All good, laudable and sensible so far. This record gives you an idea of the stages of making one of the terrain boards on which we fight our conflicts. It also shows that some of us have way too much time on our hands. 

First, the starting point. The battle of the Geisterwald occurred on 5 October 1916 as part of a larger battle involving the Germans, Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians, and several other groups in the northern Balkans. Information gleaned from a variety of sources gave us a battle map that looked something like the following.

Looks fairly interesting and pretty straight forward to recreate for the table top.

We start with a basic piece of Masonite and sketch the basic details upon its pristine surface.

Some roads are inserted using railway ballast. A river is knocked together out of some old off cuts of plastic sheeting. We start the hilly bits with some paper mache and some old bath sponges.

The raw materials for flock being saw dust. Various amounts are sifted and coloured and slapped onto the hilly bits with PVC glue.

Some of the sifted saw dust flock ready for the ‘Mud and the Blood’ part.

All the hilly bits with a modicum of cover.

Now the next lot of coloured flock for the basic fields and open spaces.

Some more sections filled in. The first lots of muddy bits go in. Saw dust, paint and PVC. Then the truncated village buildings get plonked on their places.

A better shot of the mud nicely drying in the heat of an Australian summer or autumn or whatever the season may be.

Basic stuff nearly all on board (so to speak).

Different angle. 

A closer view of one of the hilly bits.

All done for the basic covering.

The stage is now set for fiddling and finessing.

Starting to add texture to some of the sections. 

More definition on the roads and texture to the main hilly bit.

Just whacked some trees in to see what the central forest area looks like. Very woody.

More texturing and fine detail. Rough patches and colour variation starting to go in.

A bit like this.

Dummy place markers for the bridges. 

Haystacks etc for that rural feeling. Plus the start of the hedging along the roads and detail around the village.

The bridges get inserted and more work done on the banks.

Water effects in full flight. Plus more detail of terrain variations.

With way too much time on our hands the start of putting stuff in the plantation areas and some wheat fields.

About as agricultural as you can hope for...

A good shot of what the water bits were supposed to look like. Unfortunately the day they were inserted we had a couple of days of 36 degree temperatures. So instead of drying slowly from the bottom up, they dried rapidly overnight from the top down. The result was an odd cloudy white feature.

You can see the affect that excessive overnight heat can have ; a sort of milky white. It’s not a problem but it was a bit annoying.

The final product ready for battling over.

There is still serious discussion about picking out the watery bits and pouring the mixture again.

About this time the entire board was taken to its final destination and put into storage. The temptation to get up in the middle of the night and continue to fiddle was too much.

Hopefully this gives you some idea of just how dedicated we are.

Or just how stupid we are

Either way, the board cost about $20 to make. Most of that cost was the glue and fixative. The sawdust was free, the tissue paper cost about 5 cents, the paint about $2 and the rest was made up from various bits lying around the shed. For those concerned about such things this was completed in about a week working a couple of hours a night.

Not bad for talentless buggers. 

The next time you will see this will be in the after battle report.

And yes we know the hay bales are modern but they were all we had and they will be replaced by more rural piles on the night. 


Thursday, 4 February 2021

Sudan 1885ish AARs The Men who Wold Be Kings Rules

Monday night we revisited The Men Who Would be Kings Rules this time the Sudan 1885 was the setting!

We chose Scenario H, A Sigh of Relief from the rules and regarding terrain we set up some 'hills', rough ground and brush simulating what we see in the pictures from the period. The Mahdist would be on the attack and both sides would get 25 point forces, we did not give each Units Leader a Trait but instead they were given a Commander in Chief who had a Leader Trait that they had to use once per turn on a Unit within 4" of them (if ;

Commander Osman Dirka, Brave Leader Trait
5 x Tribal Infantry at 15 points
2 x Well Armed Sharpshooting Tribal Infantry at 8 points 

British Initial Force (On Table)
A Heliograph Team was the objective
1 x Regular Infantry, Highlanders at 6 points
1 x Poorly Drilled Gatling Gun at 4 points

British Relief Force (Reinforcements)
Commander Captain Darling, Destined for Greatness Leader Trait (naturally!)
3 x Unenthusiastic Regular Infantry at 15 points

The Scenario played so quickly we actually played the it twice swapping some players over!

Game 1 AAR

The British defenders set up with the Gatling Gun Team covering around half the battlefield and the Highlanders in close order covering roughly the other half. The Mahdists choose to attack from the short edge of the table facing the Gatling, a good move as the Highlanders in close order weren't as manoeuvrable as the Gatling!

The Mahdists plan was simple, CHARGE! Their Units moved really fast (save for there Sharpshooters who continually failed their activation roles!) and closed on the British quickly! Naturally while the Highlanders struggled to redeploy the Gatling Gun Team failed their first two activations so managed to get only one shot off before they were overrun! Things were looking bad for the British!

With the Gatling Gun gone and the Highlanders pushed back the Mahdists swarmed about the Heliograph Team...

The British relief forces had arrived at this point, and even at long range their firepower began to tell! Their volleys quickly Pinned the Mahdists driving them back from the fraught Heliograph Team! 

Captain Darling, wearing his customary blue tunic directed fire personally and drove the Mahdists left wing back with heavy losses!

Meanwhile the depleted Highlanders counter charged the last of the Mahdists threatening the Heliograph and despite losses drove them back heroically! Victoria Cross stuff in my book!
This along with the long range volleys of the rest of the British reinforcements ended any threat from the Mahdists left wing, the battle was over...queue Land of Hope and Glory (I know 17 years too early!)

Okay with that game taking less than an hour and a half the players swapped sides and we played this sucker again!

Game 2 AAR

This game the British deployed their Gatling Gun facing one short table side and the Highlanders in skirmish order facing one of the long sides. So the obvious the direction of attack for the Mahdists out of the Gatling Guns line of sight! On they came with the same plan, CHARGE! To make things worse for the British this game the Mahdists activations were more successful and they advanced VERY quickly!

The Highlanders defended the Heliograph Team ferociously while yet again the Gatling Gun proved ineffective being overrun in short order, this picture shows the Highlanders after defeating the first Fuzzy Wuzzy charge to hit them!

The overall view at the above point in time, the first British reinforcements can be seen at the top of the picture while the Heliograph and Highlanders are in the centre surrounded by swarms of Mahdists!

The Heliograph in trouble (in fact it was overrun next turn) as Captain Fergus the sole survivor of the Highland escort can be seen falling back before a sea of Mahdists defiantly blazing away with his revolver!

After capturing the Heliograph the Mahdists surged forward but here (like in the first game) British firepower told inflicting numerous casualties.

Despite the slaughter in their ranks a couple of Mahdists units hit the British 'Thin Khaki Line' taking them on in close combat but were repelled. Of note was the fact that Captain Fergus survived his face off with the Mahdi Horde, another VC in the offing me thinks!

Another British Victory, queue up Land of Hope and Glory yet again!

Our thoughts on the evening;
These are a very good set of rules for our Monday evenings, the rules are easy to learn, the games play smoothly, they capture the feel on the Colonial period and come to a conclusion quickly. Having only one Leader per side with a Trait which could apply to any one force unit a turn worked very well and while we get used to the rules saved checking multiple traits for each Unit, we will eventually change to this (but still maintain an overall Commander still! It will be interesting when this leader gets a 'bad' trait and will be forced to use it haha!). The rules gave a good historical outcome based on our reading of the Sudan campaign, i.e. blokes armed with pointy sticks are bound to lose against blokes with guns! 
BUT (Yes there had to be a but!)
We had two issues, firstly the Scenario didn't seem very well balanced. This is only the second scenario we have played from the rule book. We played twice in the night and couldn't see any chance for the Mahdists at 1:1 to beat the British despite the latter's tardy arrival schedule, we decided we would replay this again one day but change the force balance, a base of 24 points for the attacker and 18 points for the defender still keeping 6 to 10 of those on table at the start.
Secondly the Rally rule irked us. A Unit gets pinned approaching its foe if it fails to rally they stand in front of the foe next turn and get blasted (possibly charged) or the Rally next turn and get blasted again! This can become a cycle of despair for the Unit initially Pinned. After a long discussion next time we use these rules we'll make the following changes and test them;
1) if a unit is Pinned it Goes to Ground (even if not normally able to do this) and beside the usual effects of this we are adding 'if targeted by fire at short range 2 hits are required to score a kill'.
2) if a Pinned Unit rallies successfully they can carry out one of the following actions in addition to Rallying; a) Fire at half strength rounded down, b) move at up to half their normal Movement allowance or c) maintain Go to Ground status

Another good night was had, next time we'll be visiting WW II with Great Escape Games Iron Cross rules.