Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Battle of Groeninghe Vezel

Well maybe not a high class and  real battle report as many of you gentlemen and lady produce and maybe not a thorough review of the Black Powder rules, but just to prove we did have fun...

So, as planned the old Airfix soldiers (with a handful of newer Revell mixed in) were organised in a couple of brigades to have a go at Black Powder.
 The battle was a very simple set up with two French Brigade attacking British lines. The left brigade commander couldn't get his orders sorted out, lost a battalion of infantry in the process due to Artillery fire and then suddenly all went very fast as the brigade suddenly leapt forward into contact. The British Hussars (on the far end, near the farmhouse in the right picture) attacked the flanks of the French columns and all was over as the French lost two battalions at once. Here we learned much about support in H-to-H combat and mixed combat. One also has to think about defining orders (charging) and using full moves as brigades quickly become disorganised and arrive at the enemy lines in completely the wrong formation. One should try and not move to contact to quickly, but first organise units in a proper formation and then rush in making sure all support is there where you want it.
On the right flank (no pictures I'm afraid) the guard battalion speedily set of and got slowed down in some rough going just in front of the British lines. This gave the British the chance to use their initiative move and in real 52nd at "Waterloo" style enfilidaded the Guard Brigade to finish them of. Here we learned more about manoeuvring units and shooting.

-A minor rules dispute was settled in a very gentleman like fashion.
Not wanting to damage my copy of Black Powder and lacking fresh air, I gave in...
Before leaving for home, I did slash his car tyres...-

Anyway, we now know what to look for in the rules, and what sections need some more studying (especially on my part). We, my former friend Ludo and I, both thought the rules worked well and probably will get better as our games pick up speed and we slowly add more special rules and unit abilities.
Winner of the game were the Black Powder rules (oh, and Ludo came second).

As promised, it was a fun evening. I don't see this project replacing my "Old School" project in any way. Maybe ancient gaming will be the victim, at first...

Happy gaming

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Followship of the Blog and THE most important game of 2010.

Today a small apology to several people who are not in my blog-following-list-thing-on the left and a few words on the somewhat improvised and therefore nostalgic playtesting of the much talked about "Black Powder"  rules. 

First of all sorry to all those people who's blogs I would like to follow, but which I don't follow. For some reason some blogs don't accept my "membership". I'm sure it's one of those "settings" issues. Ah well, the world isn't perfect, is it? I'll try and tinker with my blog settings and see if I can join your "Followship of the Blog".

One of the good things of being a member of a games club is having of the bad things is having opponents. I was quite comfortable having laid out my four projects. But now I discover, or rather, fear, of being side tracked as fellow club members also have their preferred rulestes and figure scales. For the love of gaming I would quite easily join other gamers already existing projects, but even in Belgium, money does not grow on trees. So...will I allow myself to get sidetracked and maybe let go of one of my original projects. Should I be stubborn and be the only solitaire player in the club, whose only contribution will be commenting other players and sneering at their table top accomplishments?

Anyway...Black Powder. Having decided to give Black Powder a, wait a minute...have I told you you I was Googling Black Powder and found my way to a thread on TMP dicussing a review on Black Powder...I almost pissed myself laughing reading how so called "gentlemen" where reviewing each others posts and comments rather than the ruleset and trying to be just that bit more rude than the other, seeing how two "camps" developed and how some men just couldn't make up their mind and agreed and disagreed with anybody and everybody. The point of the whole exercise seemed to be to get at least one person to apologise for having expressed an opinion.
Oh dear, how sad,  never mind... 
My message to these table top zeros: "Stop whining, start wanking...", as a British battlegroup commander once said to one of his officers just before an attack (about a minute later I heard his voice in the radio..."Gentlemen, let's rock and roll"... as the world around me exploded with incredible sounds and lights)...but I digress.
So back to Black Powder. What do you do when you want to playtest a rule set...and you don't have any armies...and you don't want to wait another ten years to play the game? Yes, go and find that big box full of Airfix soldiers, you also find some beer mats (thank you bar keepers of the Officers Mess) and a tube of wood glue. Next Friday my Airfix Nappies will have their first game in ages...these unpainted plastic heroes of many a battle will rise and fight again. This will be the ultimate nostalgic, old school, yes even sentimental event of this year: the rebirth of my wargaming hobby,  a trip to the past,...and it's cheaper than a session of regression therapy. I'm really, really excited about this, yes I am...
Maybe I will be able to salvage my Airfix La Haie Sainte farmhouse? In the end I'll be able to field two brigades of infantry of two or three battalions each, two guns and a couple of squadrons of light cavalry for each side. Maybe, I'll even post a few pictures, just to prove that fun can be had whatever the circumstances. Anyway, this is what it's all about: HAVING FUN!!!!!!

And so it begins...

Happy gaming

PS: in the Black Powder rules, page 175, a reference is made to 30mm "Rusty Sabre Miniatures" Hussars.  Googling didn't give any results. Does anybody have any idea what manufacturer Priestley and Johnson are talking about?
PPS: Oh, and I have my name in print in Battlegames magazine, hurrah. Sadly in Italics as a runner up for the last competition and not in Bold as winner of that competition. Life's just not fair...I hope those weren't my five seconds of fame...that would be sad!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Wargamer Porn

No, you're not going to see any naked persons pushing around toy soldiers...well not here anyway. That makes me wonder: do you think somewhere on this planet one can find a nudist wargames club?:
-Okay, you can fire that third gun now.
-Hey mate, I've only got two nine pounder batteries on the table!
-No, I meant that tiny three pounder battalion gun at your table edge...

First off all I'm very happy to anounce two new books have been added to my library (this is the wargamer porn bit): Warlord Games' "Black Powder" rules and Ken Trotmans new series -I hope- Wargaming in History, Volume 1, "The Seven Years War" by Grant and Olley.
I think that whoever brought Olley and Grant together should get a medal and his own weight in wargaming figures...The "Seven Years War" book sets a new standard in wargaming books. It contains history, from there on it explains the rationale behind determining the model forces and terrain set up and in the end you get a battle report with the best pictures you can imagine...and this four times over...and then...some extra rules for "The Wargame" (using Frei Corps, Legions and the like...). I think this book is a must have... just because it is out there.
I would like to make one suggestion to the authors. I guess several hundreds of pictures exist from which the ones featuring in the book were chosen. Why not include a code inside the book cover, giving the buyer/reader login acces to a website where all the pictures in the book can be viewed and zoomed. I mean the pictures are just wonderful, but the size results in lots of detail going lost, especially in the panoramic battlefield views. I wouldn't mind seeing some of these pictures on my 17" screen.

Black Powder: what can I say? I can't say anything about the rules. I've read them diagonally, some bits more  intent than others. They do look promising, they invite you to play, they make you wish you had a couple of armies ready to deploy, they make you ponder all the clever things you can say to your opponent across the table...Oh, and there's pictures too.
Again a high quality publication, written by some of the better known names in the wargaming retail business. I think these are clear written rules containing a number of time saving mechanisms, but in the end probably giving the same results as more elaborate rulesets. Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating (or something like that, no?). Warlord games have started online support. I've already downloaded some army registration sheets, quick reference sheets and the inevitable FAQ's. Again, in the book, there are a number of well worked out scenarios -each including a battle report- and eye-candy. These are good times for being a wargamer, bad times for the wallet though.

And next...ACTION 2010...The Rheindahlen wargames convention.

I finally made it to a wargames convention.  I had everything ready the evening before, good for an early start. I did forget my lunch box, which was on the table next to my digital camera...bother...
I had a great day. I had fun going round the tables, chatting with gamers from Germany, Britain, America, the Netherlands and good old Belgium. I really enjoyed meeting up with a long time E-mail correspondent and the other half of his wargames club the "Alde Garde" . These two guys gave a fantastic new set up every year, go take a look on their webpage...My club demonstrated a WW2 Blitzkrieg Commander game based on the local "battle for Hechtel" in September 1944 between part of the Guards division and German Fallshirmjäger units in a bid to secure the springboard for operation Market Garden. The game table was just wonderful and reconstructed the village of Hechtel anno 1944. If you held your eyes at table level, it was as if you where there. Great stuff and in my mind the best table at the convention, well done guys. You will have to imagine the pictures...great aren't they?
I also had great fun browsing the retailers...boy...those prices...I think I will revert to solely internet buying straight from the manufacturers.  I did manage to pick up some 15mm WW2 lead at 25% bargain prices, only to dicover that his prices were 20% more expensive than other traders, giving me a net saving of 5%. I had unbelievable fun fondling the floppy latex rubber terrain from -was it?- JR miniatures. (That bit of kinky wargames porn was not intended). And I spent to much time drooling over Perry, Foundry, Victrix and other figures at the superb stall of "Dave Thomas - 28mm figures from a multitupde of manufacturers". I also found three Osprey Prussian 7YW army books for 6.5 euro (about £6 each).
My greatest buys where, however: two Jamaica Ginger cakes, two Golden Syrup cakes, one large box of assorted Jacob's crackers and biscuits, 10 Flake chocolate bars, two large packs of Tetleys tea, two packs of Bramley apple pies,  a pot of custard powder, four packs of fresh scones and crumpets, a large bottle of HP sauce, Branston brown pickles, jelly I raided the local NAAFI store in search of some great British comfort food...
Sadly, it was announced that this was probably the second last convention held by the club...

Well that's it for today. Stay tuned and be patient...things are still evolving and slowly taking shape...

Happy gaming