Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Board Gaming

In addition to historical miniature gaming, I also like to get together with a group of friends to play 'Euro Game' boardgames. We used to get together every Saturday afternoon/evening for a long while, but eventually our schedules started interfering with that. Since then we settle for getting together for a Saturday anywhere between one and three times a year. We call these game days 'conventions' just for fun, named after the host. This past weekend I had a great time board gaming at Combscon 2009 redux. You can read all about it over at my friend Scott's boardgame blog - The Settlers of Dune.

If you're a miniatures gamer, don't overlook our hobbies origin - board gaming. Board gaming is still alive and popular in Europe. The European game designers are putting out some amazingly fun games. Our group prefers those based on economic or rail themes, but if you're looking for military boardgames, they're also still being developed. My favorite resource for board game information is the Boardgame Geek website.

Monday, May 18, 2009

First Field of Glory Game

Until now my experience in the world of ancients gaming has been fairly limited, consisting of mainly DBA and big-battle DBA/DBM games as that's what the ancients aficionados in our club prefer. Recently some of the ancients gamers in our club have been trying and enjoying the new Field of Glory rule set. One of my club mates, Charlie decided to start up an ancients campaign revolving around Hannibal's invasion into Italy during the second Punic wars. During our annual First man of Rome DBA tournament this past March I was the winning Roman player and current holder of our First Man of Rome trophy, so I felt obligated to represent Rome in the campaign with my fellow Roman commander, Mike Coppinger. Opposing us are Michael Bailey as Hannibal, and Randy (King Jubba) Fields as co-general of the Carthaginian forces. This was the first conflict of the game, with Hannibal's large army catching the defenders of Tarentum isolated. This created a game with Hannibal's army having a large advantage in numbers, almost 2:1.

Here we can see Hannibal's forces, marching onto the field of battle. They're an impressive force with a large cavalry arm, Galls, Psoli, and almost as many imitation legionaries as the Romans have true legionaries. Our only advantage at this battle was the terrain. There was one choke point on our side of the board, and just like a scene out of 300, we chose to defend that point and force the Carthaginians to attack us in waves, rather than allowing them to outflank us. At least that was the plan....

Here the much smaller Roman army marching onto the field of battle. We deployed the majority of our skirmishers out on our right flank, while the rest of the army marched on between two woods, hoping to beat the Carthaginians to the town directly ahead so we could anchor our flank on it.

This is a photo midway through the battle as our line has reached our goal and deployed to receive the Carthaginian attack. Guarding our flank in the woods are several units of skirmishers. In the town on our left a single unit of skirmishers with cavalry and Triarii in reserve behind the town. At this point it was time to wait for the assault to begin and try to survive the onslaught.

During the initial melees, we fared pretty well, giving as well, or sometimes a bit better, than we received. My co-general Mike Coppinger did a masterful job of defending the woods on our right flank from multiple assaults, but eventually the Carthaginian numbers weighed in there and our defenders in the woods started to get eliminitated, unit by unit. In the center we were able to repluse all of the Galls, but when the Carthaginian heavy infantry hit our line which was softened up by the Galls' attacks, our units began to fail. This photo was taken just before we called the game. Although our army broke, we felt good being able to inflict similar numbers of casualties on a numerically superior force. Hopefully in our upcoming battles we can campaign our way into fights where the numbers are slightly more equal. Hannibal won this battle, but the war is far from over!

I've posted several more photos from the game on the Northern Conspiracy's Past Events page. So what were my first impressions of Fields of Glory? I liked a lot of the mechanics and the combat resolution seemed straight forward and easy to understand. The disruption/disorder system still confuses me a bit, and I think that the casualty and morale mechanics are quite 'dicey', i.e. the rolls of the dice tend to impact the results more than the tactical situation does. All in all I think they're worth consideration for larger ancient battles. I'm going to get a copy of the rules of my own so I can better understand them. The rulebook is a wonderfully illustrated hard cover book which seems more than worth the cost. I'm looking forward to future games in the campaign.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tournament Game Night at AJ's

Last Friday night I had a few friends over and we played two more of our Napoleonic tournament Volley & Bayonet Road To Glory games in my basement. I split my 6'x12' table into two 6'x6' tables (it's designed to do this for just such an occation, or for double-blind games). On the far table Ed Mueller (standing) and Bob Ouelette (sitting) played their game, and at the close table Phil Hammond and I played our game.

Ed's French army ended up narrowly edging out Bob's Austrians in a close-fought chess match. I was mostly focused on my game which pitted my Russians against Phil's French army. Our game was a back and forth slugfest for most of the game in stark contrast to Bob and Ed's game. I've been requested to keep the photos to a minimum, so for those interested in seeing a lot more photos, particularly of Ed and Bob's game, you can go to the Northern Conspiracy's events gallery where I've posted all the photos I took.

Here's the after-action report for my game against Phil:

Our initial deployment cards were very similar mirror images of each other with both of us losing our right wing and our reserves at the conclusion of turn one. Although it was initially difficult, I was relieved to see that Phil's troops returned to the table a turn earlier than mine, which meant I most likely could count on a slight (1/2 point) advantage in starting victory points. This wasn't enough for me to go full out on defense, but I did assume I had the luxury of making cautious attacks.

About half way through the game, I have had to throw two of my cavalry divisions up against Phil's Swiss guard, which routed two of my Musketeer brigades on the Swiss guard's first charge. After a couple turns of cavalry charges I finally exhausted Phil's guard, and withdrew my bloodied cavalry divisions, each with only one exhaustion point left. I was able to stabilize the left flank with portions of two different infantry divisions pulled from the center and returning right wings, all commanded by the wing commanders and CinC. This photo shows the flank just before the final Russian cavalry charge that exhausted the Swiss guard.

I chose to post this photo as it shows the turning point in the game, where my remaining cavalry division (on the far table edge) makes a fient towards Phil's line of communication (LOC) while my Cossack division screens Phil's infantry that was attempting to guard the flank. This was a 'trick or treat' moment I presented Phil - follow the battle cavalry or attempt to range shoot the Cossacks in hopes of an easy victory point. Phil chose the latter, but the Cossacks survived his ranged fire.

This is the following turn. As you can see my cavalry has charged Phil's infantry in the rear, and with the Cossacks to the infantry's front the infantry had only one way to run when they lost the melee with the cavalry. This congestion cost them dearly with all three brigades ending up in rout, squeezing out towards my lines. Although the fresh infantry didn't exhaust from this, I was able to finish the job a few turns later by following up with my infantry.

In the left-center my guard infantry (with the yellow marker) didn't fare as well and two turns after this Phil's French line infantry counter-charged my guard and destroyed them in detail in one of the bloodiest turns of V&B I've ever seen. In two combats we each scored 6 hits on each other's units, the equivalent of 3,000 casualties in 30 minutes of fighting. The casualties remained fairly even for the rest of the battle and I edged out a victory, the difference in points was approximately what it would have cost me had I lost the 2 extra points on the two cavalry divisions that fought early in the battle. Phil fought an excellent battle and we both had a good time rolling fists full of dice most of the night.

This is a photo of the aftermath of Ed and Bob's game. As you can see it is a much more orderly affair with the difference beeing the exhaustion of Bob's converged grenadier division (marked with the red marker in the far center of the table). Ed and Bob had a fun time playing the "thinking man's V&B". That's the great thing about these rules. They don't dictate a particular play style. They're flexible enough to work under many styles. Also noteable in this photo is Bob's table felt, which he purchased from Hots Artworks. It's quite nice and makes a great travelling table cover.

Monday, May 4, 2009

American and French Officers

I needed some additional wing commanders for the Yorktown game I put on last month (see my earlier post for an after action report of the game). Yorktown is a large battle with multiple American and one French wings. I had many brigade commanders, which in V&B are represented by a single mounted officer, but only one army/wing commander, with the obligitory General George Washington on it. For the game I painted up these two American and one French command stands in a couple of evenings, one to paint the figures, and one to base and flock the stands.

The figures are a mix of American and British mounted comanders by Old Glory. I chose to use the 'standard' late war continental uniforms for the American generals and tried to use the more 'flamboyant' poses for the French officers. I hadn't posted any of my painting recently and I didn't want everyone to think I'd stopped painting just because I've been playing so many games.

In a future post I'm going to show my 15mm ACW re-basing project that I'm about half way through. I'm changing from Fire & Fury to Volley & Bayonet for this army.