Friday 30 October 2015

Rescue at Moota Common : VBCW

Since the Battle for Low House Farm (see previous post) the boundary between the West Cumberland Socialist Alliance forces and the Albertine forces around Maryport have been fairly quiet with both sides settling into a 'watch and see' approach. This extra time has given the Crimson Commissar time to co-op further troops. But in secret preparation for a more aggressive assault on the Albertine held territory SE of Maryport the Socialists have been carrying out extensive recon. This has included aerial recon by Comrade Natasha Ristic. A heroin of early Russian aviation but also one of the Commissar's close female friends, apparently he has many such 'friends'.

Whilst she is an excellent and skilled pilot the mists across the hills of West Cumberland can be deceptive and on her lastest mission a slight error of judgement has caused the lovely Natasha to crash land on Moota Common a particularly bleak and remote area. The Socialist under the Commissar have immediately sent out a rescue force but they will have to race the Albertines under Captain Morris who is also racing to the crash site knowing hte downed pilot is likely to have important secrets and information of the Alliances forces and future plans.

(the crash site was set up in the centre of the battlefield/common the objective for both sides being to capture/rescue Natasha and get her back to their respective baseline, although we originally set 6 turns it was obvious this wasn't going to happen so we extended the game)

The crash site can be seen in the centre where Natasha has landed her I-16, it is burning so they need to get her out soon. Albertines are advancing from the North the Socialist Alliance down hill from the South.
Moota Common
Both sides have infantry and some mobile support, but only infantry units are allowed to rescue Natasha and bring her back to base.
Wigton Local Defence Volunteers head towards the plane
Over the brow of the hill a unit of Russian sailors appear and so begins a long range fire fight with neither side willing to rush out into the open.

Russian Unit appears over the hill !
 Other units have been sent more directly towards the crash site. A socialist workers unit, but the Wigton lads are supported by a newly aquired armoured car.

Units contesting the crash site.
 Having spotted the enemy in force both unit commanders have ordered supporting artillery to deploy and they start to take pot shots at anything they can see, This is mainly ineffective from both sides.

Albertine Regulars from Prince Alberts' Cumberland Rangers 1st Battalion
At the crash site neither side has been able to rescue Natasha as desperate hand to hand fighting and volley fire make the area close to the plane a very hot place to be for any length of time.
Desperate hand to hand fighting
Artillery firing up onto the hill
Alliance mobile support forces its way around the left flank
Eventually after a short lull in the fighting the Cumberland Rangers are able to drag Natasha free from the plane, they are somewhat taken aback by her attire which seems to attract a lot of attention from some members of the squad. Unfortunately this is just the loss of concentration and focus they could do without and the unit is ambushed and nearly the whole unit is taken out. Luckily two lads survive and after considerable shouting from Capt Morris they start to escort Natasha back down the hill.

Natasha is rescued from the burning plane
But the escape is not over yet and the Commissar who has now reached the plane himself realizes that not only his lover but the information she knows is heading down the hill. He charges his remaining force forward. Some of these are held at bay by accurate fire laid down by the Cumberland Rangers.

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If they can only get Natasha to the woods Captain Morris is waiting there to question her, but the Socialist forces are closing in.
Capt Morris 'hiding' in the woods.
In a final feat of heroic madness and overwhelmed by his passion the Commissar decides to rush forward on his own to rescue his girl, leaping on Captain Morris and heedless of his own safety. In the ensuing brawl both Commanders are knocked unconscious to the ground somewhere in the woods and are out of the game.
Quick bring her down here lads !
At this point with more Alliance forces massing on the hill and undercover of the remaining Albertine infantry Natasha is escorted away for interrogation. Later both the Commissar and Captain Morris dazed and covered in mud rejoined their forces. One to hopefully gain information and the other to plan her rescue.
Natasha being led away ! for interrogation
Another fun battle....and it has obviously set up another scenario to be played at a later date.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

60 Dice you must be joking : Kings of War

We had another try out with Kings of War increasing our army sizes up slightly to 1500 points. Slightly more variety and as you'll see from the couple of photos I included a monster from the south lands in my army, together with a few more gunners.

We picked out two more scenarios. The first was a land grab with both sides attempting to get into the enemies half of the battlefield. Again we found the rules fairly easy to play, shooting does seem pretty powerful especially when you can hold back with 'men' or Empire type troops.

Initial setup two armies face off......
This first battle ended in a fairly dramatic central combat with two units of abyssal dwarves looking to charge through the middle. The Dwarf general again riding his monster landed in the combat and it was at this point we realised it really wasn't a good idea to allow anything to charge you in the flank, especially not a horde unit..........

Decisive battle in the centre
......why not, well we had to check the rules as it really didn't seem fair but we couldn't see anyway around it. The Horde gets 30 attacks as standard and these are doubled when they attack something in the flank ! 60 dice. Now even bearing in mind my gaming buddies all think I have more luck than I deserve with 60 attacks you are going to kill stuff even if it is 6's followed by 6's .

Yes 60 attacks !
So first battle was a victory to the men. We had time for another scenario which involved capturing objectives, This proved much closer and a very tight struggle to hold/capture 3 objectives out of 5. The dwarves winning through in the last turn although we had some friendly debate on just exactly how far 3" was.
'Empire' cavalry charge for the objective in the woods.
Think there may be some scope to play a larger KoW game just using WFB armies at some time.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Captain Morris : VBCW

Have been finishing off a couple of bits over the last few evenings.

Here we have Captain Morris, I have painted him to be an Albertine commander, and of course he has his trusty sidekick Albert. (I think he was the salute free figure a couple of years ago). A couple more standards for VBCW. Not massively happy with the home made flag on the left so I may change it sometime. The one on the right is a union workers banner off google and much more pleasing to the eye. In the background a new armoured Morris C9 off eBay. I have left it fairly unmarked as I have two different crews, the ones shown with a LMG and s second more military crew with an anti-tank rifle......I need to find a better way of doing transfers as they are far too much to buy. They all saw action last night so will hopefully complete AAR soonish.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Raid at Cummersdale : VBCW

Having returned back to base from the successful ambush at Low Hesket Lt Howard has been ordered to cause further disruption and confusion for the Royalist forces around Carlisle. The Border Regiment have been building up forces in and around Cummersdale a small village to the SW of the City. There is a concern in the Albertine higher command that these troops will be used to make a more concerted push into Albertine territory perhaps along the North Cummberland coast. Lt Howard has pulled together a very small crack infiltration force to carry out an undercover raid at Cummersdale destroying fuel, ammunition or armour which has been stockpiled there. The Royalist Troops in the Area will need to respond fast to protect their supplies.

(We were looking for something different so played a skirmish game using IHMN rules for VBCW, the Albertine force will be looking to destroy strategically placed objectives and the Royalists trying to prevent them, to destroy the objectives we gave each one a hit rating of 12-14, a figure in contact with an objective would find it one point easier each turn to blow the objective up)

Red line marks the limit of Royalist held territory
Undercover of darkness Lt Howard has led his force through enemy lines to the edge of the village.

Cummersdale Village 5 objectives marked
Luckily the Royalist are off their guard and no one is manning the road block or the pill boxes covering the main road. This allows Howard and his men (plus Sgt Jane Horrocks the only female considered tough enough for this type of mission) to infiltrate the village. (As it is a night time mission we have set the max range of 24" unless the target is within 6" of one of the street lights).

Howard's force move into the village from the South
Royalist's under the Command of Capt Naylor enter from the North 
Howard is supported by two Sgt's, Horrocks and Malarchy, both armed with sub-machine guns and a good fight value so they move into blow up the first two objectives which they do surprisingly easily.

Artillery piece no burning !
However, it was immediately obvious that the other objectives would be much harder to reach let alone destroy, the Royalist set up a bren gun facing straight down the main street so a frontal assault would be a death trap. Instead the elite Albertine troops spread out looking for cover. Howard does have in his unit a couple of less experienced partisans, mainly to help guide his forces through the village but they are armed with shotguns just in case. As befits this sort of mission all of Howard's force are equipped with combat knives for those quiet kills !

Sgt Horrocks blows the artillery piece
 The armoured car in the centre of the village is both the most exposed and hardest objective to reach.

Captain Naylor of the Border Regiment
Sub-machine gun in hand Sgt Horrocks leads the charge, but the rest of her unit are slow to react and she becomes isolated and overwhelmed. She would later be awarded the Albert-cross for services to the Lord Protector. She is seen above fighting hand to hand with one of the partisans attempting to come to her aid.
Captain Maxwell of the Royalist Medical Corps. runs into the action
At the other end of the village Howard is attempting to get to the centre of the village via the back gardens but the Bren gun at the far end of the street is holding them back, unfortunately i forgot to give them a rule where they could blow the lamp posts out !

Howard shouts for covering fire !
At the far East of the village hand to hand fighting has broken out but with his superior combat skills Sgt Malarchy has led his troop around the large factory building towards the ammunition truck taking out any defending soldiers.

Cummersdale from the North
With attacks on both flanks Captain Naylor orders the Bren gun to move positions to the right, but this is just the opportunity Howard is looking for and in the centre under heavy fire two men are able to make it to the armoured car and start laying charges, whilst it provides good cover they cannot return fire while they attempt to set the explosives. so they are very vulnerable to Royalist fire which comes at them from the large white building overlooking the main street.

Keep your bloody head down man  !
Ammunition truck is now on fire
Several troopers are ordered to assault the Albertines in the street and Captain Naylor leads the charge. But Howard's men are ruthless killers and they jump in to hold them back while Howard himself eventually succeeds in blowing the Armoured car.

Fierce hand to hand fighting in the Street
At this point with four objectives in the bag the Albertine force chose to with draw, slipping away no doubt in the darkness.

Sgt Johnson and Capt Maxwell protecting the fuel store
An excellent battle and when we get a chance we'll play another IHMN : VBCW. The rules worked really well and in the true spirit of narrative gaming we hadn't really sorted out all the rules before hand, sometimes it is just better to make it up with what feels right at the time.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

The Norman/Viking Conquest : SAGA

In between the furious VBCW battles we dragged out our Dark age figures. At the start of the year the newly built Norman faction saw quite a bit of action in Lion Rampant but has only been out a couple of times as a SAGA force. So it was good to get them out into action against some angry looking vikings. 26 points each which is fairly easy as I have quite a few figures. For a scenario we decided to play some from the LR book as there is a wider selection and the basic Saga scenarios can be a bit limiting. We fairly randomly picked the scenario where both sides had to spend as long as possible at a designated feature in the centre of the table in this case the fairly obvious cross, no doubt the resting place of a local saint or monk ?

Both factions face off
The Normans are generally more mobile due to their cavalry but the trick would be keeping away from the hard hitting Viking warriors who would, given any chance, be boosting their combat with re-rolls etc.
A lot of shouting and arm waving from the vikings !
Norman tanks !
Having played the Norman board a couple of times I wanted to include some archers as they have several shooty abilities which aren't any use for crossbows.

Tank shock !
The vikings were in quickest to the cross and set up a screen of levy archers levy to hold the Normans back. With their extra mobility the Norman Knights charged across the table to scatter the bowmen and chase the first line of vikings away but they had soon blown their Horses and were overpowered. Although costly it meant the Vikings no longer had any missile troops. Now the Normans could keep their distance and only charge in when the enemy were weakened.

More Tank shock !
After a couple of turns more Norse infantry was rushing to the cross so the second unit of Norman knights had to  charge in as well pushing the warriors away and then following through into another unit already reduced by cross bow fire,
Deadly crossbows
We have found the crossbows to be pretty tough in Saga and they again proved a really useful unit whittling down enemy units from afar. In this case more warriors again digging the bones up from under the scared cross. They were to pay the price though as the Viking warlord in a fit of heroic rage charged them down.

Ragnar ? heroic charge
In the end though heroics can only get you so far and the Normans had managed to reduce the vikings to the last few Warriors who now heavily outnumbered chose to withdraw.

The Sacred bones are saved ! bon
Good game close all the way through, the Normans were good to play as they have a little of everything, and are a nice mixed force. This prompted me to get my Crescent & Cross rule book out of its plastic cover and made me think it is time to paint the moors up !

Saturday 17 October 2015

Ambush at Low Hesket : VBCW

The A6 provides a fast and direct communication route between Carlisle and Penrith and it's the principle route for moving military equipment and troops up and down the Royalist held Eden Valley. The Albertine forces based in West Cumberland know this and have sent a crack force of troops under the command of Lt John Howard to harass and if possible capture Royalist assets.

These forces have infiltrated Royalist held areas disguised as farmers, labourers etc and then rendezvoused at the small village of Low Hesket, where the A6 narrows through the village. They have hit it lucky as having waited through the day for a suitable target a convoy including two valuable 25lb artillery guns is travelling north.

(We set up a 'simple' scenario where the Royalist forces need to break out and get off the far table edge. I hadn't anticipated how hard this would be)

Royalist Convoy stops in the village
The Albertine forces are all Regular troops but out of uniform which has allowed them to get so close to this important transport artery. The Royalist forces are initially stopped by a road block in the village which forces any vehicle to get off the road.

Trap is sprung
The 'crack' Albertine troops have been set up in ambush and immediately the Royalists come under fire. Not surprisingly this forces/encourages the Royalist troops to head North off the road. But here they are ambushed again by more Albertine reserves who have obviously been dug in around the barn.
Cumberland Constabulary reserves heading across the fields
Although the Royalists are more mobile, they have to send their infantry forward to clear the way. Eventually they are able to set up their artillery but this is too late to make a big impact on the battle.

Cumberland Border Troops pinned down in the fields to the north
The rest of the battle was a desperate struggle for the Royalists trying to push forward in the face of concentrated fire. One unit made it in to the buildings by the road but realised this was not going to get them in the clear. They then made a more concentrated attempt to break out to the North but a well aimed shot blew up one of their vehicles in the gap causing yet more delay.

To the south of the road the armed constables eventually forced the ambushers to retreat but again they were unable to force a serious break through as they had run out of time before darkness fell.

Constabulary eventually force a way through to the south
With their objective achieved the Albertine troops started to gradually pull back before they started to take any further casualties. Having lost considerable men and materials the only saving grace for the Royalists was a lucky shot at the end which took out the retreating enemy armoured car.

Smoke rising from the Albertine armoured car in the distance.

A good victory for the Albertine forces showing what can be achieved by experienced troops working behind enemy lines.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Kings of War : New Rules

We tried something new a couple of weeks ago. Having tried Age of Sigmar and found it just too simplistic but still keen to get our massed fantasy troops onto the battlefield we tried the 'newly' released Kings of War luckily John one of the regular dungeon visitors has a shiny new copy of the rules.

It is a great book including the rules and all the army lists plenty of photos etc. we have played the old version a couple of times so it was fairly easy to pick up. The rules themselves strip out much of the complexity of WHFB but are significantly more interesting and tactical than AoS. We played a couple of games in the evening as the rules play really fast. A simple encounter and then a more scenarios based combat trying to control the central part of the battlefield.

Creating army lists is really simple as units are either 10,20, or 40 figures so you just add up and as my fantasy Empire Army is already based in these multiples it was fine.

I didn't take masses of photos but here are a couple.

Battlelines drawn : Men vs Dwarves  (lots of dice)
Spearmen hold nasty stone troll monster thingies !

I quite enjoyed the rules and would summarise my view as follows :

Positive : quick to learn, army lists are simple, magic less dominant,some tactical complexity, lots of dice to roll (if you like that sort of thing), you can use your existing armies, it doesn't really matter how many figures you have as long as the bases are the same size.
Negative : big units which can disappear very quickly on a bad roll, You need to use wound markers, you can feel a bit disengaged as when it is your turn the opponent doesn't do anything and vice versa but the turns are fairly quick. Shooting felt a bit powerful. Early days but some units felt almost too balanced.

If I didn't have 28mm Fantasy it would play really well as a massed battle game on 15mm or smaller where you could spread out your troops onto designated sized bases. Worth a try.....although my sense is the perfect (for me) fantasy rules sit somewhere halfway between these and WHFB.