Friday, 3 November 2017

Vikings - Horns of a dilemma

 Riding through the countryside le Duc Alfwit d'Burk and his knights expect at any moment to come into contact with the dreaded Vikings. Just a few hours have elapsed since the guard atop the keep saw a runner sprinting pellmell from the nearby fishing village. The sentry shouted from the wall down into the barracks "Serf's up!" Grabbing their kite boards, the Beech Boys (as they are known for the wood in their shields) mounted up and rode out to find out the news...'Vikings!' stated the surf 'Fazzens of 'em!'
The next exciting game in our series entitled 'Lion Rampant - How to play a game by guessing what the rules might say without reading them' is on. We're back at Alan's wargame room in an undisclosed location within his 'Keep'. The fair maiden is out and so we are basically whipped in this week via the dungeon and given naught but bread and water...
 Unsure of the deployment of the Viking hordes the Normans concentrate to thrust, dagger like, into the area thought most likely to contain the dreaded Northmen...
 Pretty sure the Viking ain't got land transport the Normans lead with cavalry supported by the PBI
 ...told you
 Soon the drunken, staggering shapes of men resolve into the enemy across the table. But enough about Tom and Alan. The Vikings turn out to be led by none other than that scourge of the Tyne and Weir Bridge Association himself Leke Bladaful!
 The bow armed sea warriors take up position in the rough ground in front of Alans groin
 The heavier infantry shake out into a line across the chief's front
 The Normans see no point in putting off the inevitable a move forward with all speed (and good activation dice)
 The Norman knights go impetuous and crash headlong into the shield wall of the chief's right hand unit
 The wall buckles and is pushed back
 Meanwhile, through a corridor in the rough going, the crossbowmen and infantry steadily advance
'C'mon lads! The QR sheet is with us!'
 Goaded, the Vikings surge forward
 The battle between the shield wall and the knights is furious
 Slingers and archers exchange volleys
 Alfwit hesitates to come within range of the archers. More, though, is the fact that he mustn't be forced into a charge into rough going...
 With the slingers and the knights doing ok the third Norman unit begins to swing into the flank of the, now exposed, Vikings charge
 Nice tree
 The Vikings close to striking distance...but the bows can't miss. Bolts punch home through mail and flesh...
 The Viking elan seems unquenchable. They fling themselves at their foe careless of their lives
 But their bravery is no match for good dice
 They are mown down...

 assailed from all sides...
 ...and trampled underfoot. The survivors break.
 Alone in the rough are the archers. Now they are unable to materially change the outcome

 The Normans can hang back and harry the Vikings to destruction....
 ...but wait, something stupid is about to happen...
 Leke waves his sword at Alfwit. He needs a time out for a comfort break. Alfwit takes it as a challenge to single combat!
 At the fourth or fifth hack Leke cuts the Alfwit out of the saddle and declares a draw. Alfwit has snatched a draw out of the jaws of victory. He is a true d'Burk.

Can a shield wall move?
Does a failure to charge make any difference?
What's in a name?

Answers to these and other pointless questions you didn't want time!

Thanks to Alan - Hospitality, Colin - for the ability to read and Tom - light relief.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

New Amphitheatre - New Rules

 Alanii Maximus has a new games room so we all trooped up to play the maiden game with a set of rules (new to me) 'Lion Rampant' (or for officers 'Lion Rupert') ...It was dark when we arrived at his villa so we couldn't see his slaves working on his vines...
Entering via the atrium, the heated floor and fountains, we came to the Colosseum. A large well lit room with a table, as you'd expect, taking up the centre of the room. Flanking us on every side are file drawers, wall to wall, full of a lifetime's work of figures from a wide range of periods. A beautiful maiden enters bearing cake, scones and hot drinks. Clapping his hands he gets a slap upside his head...
 And so, to the swedging (ancient Roman term)
 To familiarise us with 'Lion Rampant' we play a Roman civil war with some ancient amendments
 Cavalry 6 figs, infantry 12 and scum...can't remember. Equally 'gifted' sides and off we go

 Activation is the name of this type of game. Activate till you fail then initiative passes to the foe. You can spend a remarkable amount of time doing heehaw but the luck usually evens out the dice as you progress's six, for scum...just remembered as prompted by pic.
 An amazingly accurate figure of Alanii masquerading as Caesar! (Alan not pictures for health and safety reasons). The figure was on our side, Alanii was not
 Under the playing surface there is a large stash of terrain boards and other scenery. An amazing amount of gear arranged efficiently, ready to hand...
 Action! action! The cavalry are a little mismatched for the initial game, it's a learning curve after all, and the cavalry hit a cataphract unit. The cavalry are a 4 thingy but the cataphracts are a 7 thingy...apparently this ain't good....a kite hitting a jumbo jet...HGV v hedgehog scenario...
'Put 'em up, put 'em up...I'll protect you Dorothy'
 Still, onwards to victory! Guy in the lion suit (pictured) shouting encouragement
 It's a pretty equal fight. As both sides are Roman they get the pilum bonus as appropriate
 Initiative is all crucial. Your plans have to be simple or you'll have to have more than your fair share of luck to carry them out...the delays and half tried moves can be really frustrating
 ...frustrating but fun. I'm reminded of Napoleon's adage 'He may be good but is he lucky?' when considering officers for promotion
 There's an additional element that has to be borne in mind when moving and that is the 3" exclusion zone around every unit...
 Alanii looking relaxed....even though he's just been beaten. We'd lost one too many units and, as that happens, your morale gets harder to pass. It's fitting that the real Alanii won his first home game
'Hail me! Rematch?'
Sounds good to us

Watch this space

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Kursk Part 16: ENDEX - ...with a bang and a whimper...

The HQ elements of the  9Pz Div...the de facto forward controller of the skeleton battle groups (once the Corps assets)Tiger Bn, Ferdinand Bn, Brumbar Bn, along with 79 Assault Div, 292 Inf Div and attached elements...gets a visit from the air which damages but does not destroy the winch Famo 9.
The staunchest believer in 'final victory' knows for sure that the attack to take Ponyri and push on to Kursk is now a pipe dream
 Russians appear everywhere...
 and although they are mown down in heaps and vehicle after vehicle is destroyed...
 the tide has turned.
 Even as this last attack is beaten back by the Germans there is no possibility of the situation being recovered. Retreat is the order of the day, defined by circumstances rather than commands
 The butcher's bill in this game is high
 Air regiments concentrate on the air defence capability of the German flak units
 but the cost in aircraft is appalling
 Over the railway towards the former Russian trenches
 ...supported by armour
 a two battalion attack goes in
 The Russian 76.2mm, which gave the Huns such a shock at the commencement of hostilities, is no match for the latest long 75mm L43 and L48's of the Panzer IVF, G and H's...
 Few SU's are left...
 so much smoke on the field leaves most of the artillery blind...
 The attack fails...
 ...and the survivors pull back into cover
 Aircraft fall... nine pins
 But the Germans keep moving back. Here they are taking their long '100's' out of the line to relative safety
 Fewer now, but still fearsome, the Flakvierling are the umbrella of the troops
 Another couple of companies try to get on the end of the German line
 Their tails are up...
 ...but not for long
 Technical and tactical superiority save the German line again
...but they know it's all over.

Everything that follows is expressed in kits and figures we used. The multiples are according to the Rapid Fire rules set we used. The game ended at move 41, one short of the time span set, because we ran out of units able to get at each other at that point due to the usual problem of overstretch. The active stuff left on the table came to about 60 Russian runners, plus a few hundred troops, and about the same, maybe a few more German runners and troops.

German Losses

Over 60 model tanks, other vehicles and guns etc. = over 300 irrecoverable losses.
30+ aircraft (of around 40 deployed) = 150 or so aircraft lost.
448 figures = 6,620 KIA

Russian Losses

87 tanks, vehicles and guns etc. = 435 irrecoverable losses
40+ aircraft (of over 60 deployed) = 200+ lost
700-750 figures (I keep finding more in the sand and in trenches) = 11,600+

We learnt a great deal from our long game. Some kit went over 30-40 feet up the table and back. Record keeping needs to be simple but tight. Elements can easily get left out of battle. Different commanders turn up on different nights/days and, even with specific orders, interpret things differently. There are always gray areas in rules but we found RF to stand up robustly through the most challenging circumstances. Even where there are anomalies they work themselves out over a large/long game.

My thanks to the long suffering:

...and the various helping hands that pitched up from time to time.