Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Sword and the Flame - Hosted by GwC at Siege of Augusta 2014

So, the one miniatures game at the convention this past weekend that I hosted was a big game of The Sword and the Flame.

It was set in the Sudan, with the forces of the Khalifa (successor to the Mahdi) on one side, and a combined Anglo-Egyptian relief force on the other side.  Here is the write up that was submitted to the fine folks running the convention:

Name: "Close Scrape in the Soodan"
Scale: 28mm
Rules: The Sword and the Flame 20th
Players: 8
Scenario: Khartoum has fallen, Gordon is Dead.  The Khalifa has taken over the vast, deadly army of the Mahdi's followers.  They are on a rampage, throughout parts of Egypt, seeking to eliminate any enemies of the Mahdist cause.  Famous Egyptologists Emerson and Peabody, having abandoned their dig site, returned to the small river village where they left their falucca, which was to carry them back out to the Nile, and to safety.  A company of Egyptian troops are within a short march of them, and a larger force of British troops are not much further away.  But, the forces of the Khalifa are drawing closer, closer, closer... The game settles around the possibility to rescue the team of scholars, with a combined Anglo-Egyptian force, and against them mobs and mobs of deadly Mahdist warriors.  Played in 28mm, using The Sword and the Flame.

In the end, we had 5 players (Saturday night, when the game was hosted, is REALLY BUSY at Siege of Augusta, there were a zillion great looking games, and almost all of them were full).

Two brave souls decided to run the forces of the Mahdists, and three played on the Anglo-Egyptian side.

The table was 5' wide, by 12' long.  The center of the table had a smallish tributary of the Nile, crossed by two fords. The fords were both connected to roads, that ran off in the four different directions, off the table.  The rest of the table top was covered by sporadic rock formations, and patches of rough going.

Along the tributary, there was a make shift defensive area, manned by the two Egyptologists (Amelia Peabody, and her husband Radcliffe Emerson), along with 10 hired guards.

On one of the roads, near to the defensive area, was the Egyptian column.  It consisted of a company - 2 platoons - of infantry, a squadron of the Egyptian Camel Corps, and a krupp gun.

Egyptian Captain (with standard bearer and bugler), eyeing the placement of the Egyptian Krupp Gun
On two of the other roads, starting further away, were two companies of British soldiers (each with two platoons of infantry, no guns, no cavalry).

Two platoons of British Infantry, from the Denbigh Fusiliers
Arrayed against them was the Mahdist horde consisting of:
5 units of Beja tribesmen (Fuzzy-wuzzies, fierce swordsmen, fanatics)
3 units of Ansar sword infantry (Dervishes)
2 units of Ansar riflemen (hidden in some rock formations on the tabletop)
3 units of Ansar mixed sword and spear infantry

4 units of Ansar Cavalry (armed with a mix of sword and spear)
2 unreliable ancient cannons
The horde of Mahdist warriors, approaching the fords of the tributary

The game would have really benefited from having the three additional players - one to play the guards and Egyptologists, and two more to play on the side of the Mahdists.  As it was, the two Mahdist players grouped up almost all their units on one end of the table, because that was where they set up.  I, as a referee, should have set the units out on the edge of the table rather than letting them choose... live and learn.  Here are some excellent photos, taken by Charles Cabell, of the Fort Mill Historical Gamers club.  All figures are 28mm, Old Glory, and painted by GwC host, Chuck Turnitsa.  The exception is the Egyptian Camel Corps, which are 25mm scale, and Ral Partha - painter unknown.

Ansar leader directs the advance of the horde

Beja Tribesmen (Fuzzy Wuzzy) begin to mass, and move towards the ford over the tributary.

Approaching the ford...

Egyptian Infantry, standing their ground

Dervishes, coming out of the rocky country, approach the Egyptians from behind

The Hamilton Rifles, taking casualties from Ansar rifles, firing captured Snyder rifles

The Egyptian Camel Corps, in line abreast, ready to charge the Dervish

The moment before the clash!

What the Dervish Commander saw...

The Fuzzy Wuzzy tribesmen prepare to charge the Denbigh Fusiliers

The Charge!! The Fuzzy Wuzzy warriors come at the line of British soldiers at an angle, to try and avoid the worst of the deadly rifle fire!

Sgt Jones, Denbigh Fusiliers, in hand to hand combat with the Fuzzy Wuzzy leader

Meanwhile, Amelia Peabody (in green, with her deadly umbrella) and Emerson (in the tan long coat) are escorted by Lt. Pemberly, away from their defensive fort, leaving the wagons and supplies behind.

The hired guards performed admirably, even heroically, under the command of the able Lt. Pemberly.  Even the goats were compliant.

The guards escort the two Scholars to safety, their way secured by the British and Egyptian soldiers.  A supply wagon, and a stream of goats left behind.

Monday, January 20, 2014

flash review of Bolt Action (Osprey/Warlord)

I got to sit in on a Demo Game of Bolt Action at Siege of Augusta this past weekend.  The game was run by Charles Cabell, and it was extremely enjoyable.  Here is a really quick review of the game, and I should mention that I followed up by buying a copy of the rules from Time Portal Hobbies.

Bolt Action is a joint venture between Warlord Games and Osprey publishing. Warlord writes the rules and makes the models, Osprey publishes the books.

A word about the Osprey venture into rule publishing.  Each title might not be your cuppa tea, but they are all done nicely, I certainly like a few, they are using proven rules writers, the production is excellent, and the prices are far lower than the other rules publishers. 

Okay, the game is squad based (5-15 figures per squad). WW2. Maximum of 1 tank and 1 recon vehicle per side.  Turn goes by drawing activation markers out of a bag. Player picks a unit to activate, and chooses 1 of 6 commands (move, shoot, run, hold, etc). Warlord Games makes sets of colored dice to use as these activation markers, with the six sides corresponding to the six possible commands, so that everything is clearly marked on the table (see above picture).  Individual shooting and individual melee resolution by dice. Simple morale rules. Nice organization tables, for the big four (Germany, US, Russia, England).  

Separate books (again, priced affordable) cover other belligerents and go deeper on the main crew. Well done, and supported by an excellent line of models from Warlord. Could be played any scale, even 54mm. Could stretch to other conflicts (Korea, WW1, Vulgarian Civil War).

Decent skirmish game. Feels less gimmicky than Flames of War. Lots of product, but none will break the bank.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

War of the Roses project officially started

Just last week, a package found its way down the frigid rivers of Balkania, via tramp steamer.  Once leaving the ice choked and alpine fringed waterways of the January landscape in that wartorn land, it made its way deep south, past the equator, into the Umbongo rain forest, to the Mission House at the rail head of the Trans-Umbongo railroad.  From there, it traveled by llama train to the heights of the Boruckistan mountains. Blessed in a monastery, the package was then sent by carrier vulture to GwC headquarters.

What was in the package? Why, an Old Glory box containing the beginnings of the Lancastrian army project for the War of the Roses.  The initial order is enough to allow the building of three large units of billmen, and a pair of associated longbowmen units for each.  The billmen units will be 24 figures strong, mounted on six man stands.  The longbowmen units will be 12 figures strong each, mounted on three man stands.

I received 60 bill armed figures; 60 bow armed figures; and 30 assorted command figures.  The unit consist for each of the billmen units is 20 bill armed figures, plus one standard bearer, one musician, one Nobleman, and one lesser Noble or Champion.  24 figures.  The consist for each of the six 12 figure longbowmen units is ten figures with longbow, one leader, and one musician.

The official start of the project took place on Saturday past. I opened and began cleaning the longbow armed figures. Pictures will be forthcoming, chronicling the progress.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

World War One miniatures - 1914/2014

So, it is (as mentioned in the preceding post about Siege of Augusta) the year of Our Lord 2014.  That means one hundred years since the dreadful (but fascinating) conflict known as The Great War began in Western Europe with the machinations of the German Schlieffen Plan, and the response by Belgium, France, and Britain.

This, of course, warrants a great deal of interest for wargaming, as well as general history reading.

Historical Miniatures

On the miniatures front, I have recently acquired a pair of early war armies, consisting of 180 French figures, one tank, and a number of machine guns for one side.  For the other, I have 190 German figures, some machine guns, and seven field guns.  Both of these forces are painted.  Which opens up the question of Rules. The first obvious choice is a variation of my Russian Civil War rules. Other possible choices are Square Bashing from Peter Pig; Volley and Bayonet; Over the Top; or a new set of rules written here at GwC HQ.

The French and ~half (110 figures) of the Germans came from my friend Bob, who was going to sell them at a convention.  The other 80 German infantry, and the seven field guns, came from eBay.

Early war German Infantry, via eBay

Field Guns - will be used for a variety of nationalities...also from eBay

As far as manufacture, the Germans certainly, and probably the French, are from Minifigs.  Minifigs early war Germans, with the Pickelhaub, are the best I have ever seen.  Funny, because I don't like their early war British figures at all.  I don't know who to deal with in the U.S. any longer for Minifigs, but the shipping terms from Spirit Games in the UK are always nice, and they carry the WW1 line.

Balkanian Imaginations

In a totally different scale, and focus, it turns out that the ImagiNations group that I am in, with the fictional states of Balkania at nearly constant war with each other, is also interested in 1914 wargaming. In this case, it is done in 54mm, using chiefly plastic figures.

In the case of Balkania, it appears saber rattling has given way to Furstenburg arming and mobilizing under General Plan Number 14.2.  The various Balkanian ethnic groups (Urbiks, Suburbiks, Bosniaks, TransTurkylvanians) saw this as reason to take up arms themselves, in response to the earlier punitive conflict known generally as the Frontier Adjustment Wars. The target of Furstenburg Aggression? None other than The Kingdom of 2.5 Sicilys.

Here is the original dispatch, from one of the Balkanian Gentleman in the group, describing the opening of the conflict.

...and the winds of war are stirring in Balkainia, according to the Gazette and Daily Post. The GADP reports that in an unusually energetic move, the Kingdom of 2.5 Sicilies is reorganizing and updating their mobilization plan. Rumored as Plan 14 1/4, it is designed to mobilize the military quickly and strike hard to recover the Lost Province brutally ripped from Balkainian Sicily by the Furstenberg led Third Coalition during the War of Frontier Adjustments, Part II. To that end all the painted figures (which look remarkably like 54mm plastic 1900 AIP French) have been rebased and terraformed, included appropriate command and artillery bases, into 3 Corps (if each base = 1 infantry or artillery regiment) or alternatively 1 division (if each base = 1 infantry or artillery battalion). Only two guns and 4 gunners remain to be converted to 1914, primed and painted for the mobilization of these Corps to be complete.

An order for these two guns has been placed with the Schnidely Cannon and Ordnance Works Ltd (SCOWL). Along with 4 additional guns for export to other Minor Powers (e.g., the Bosniaks, Suburbiks, and the Turklyvanians have all expressed an interest), 6  field guns are in the process of being completed by the SCOWL. Once the gun shields and a few other details have been added,  they will be ready for priming...

Alas, intelligence reports that the Furstenbergers have been busy rebasing and terriforming their troops as well. Due to concerns of a two-front war looming with the Vulgarian Empire, the Furstenbergers rebased and terraformed enough painted soldiers (that bear a remarkable resemblance to 1914 Germans) to creat 4 Corps (!). The 3 Regular Corps have almost all their artillery, while the Reserve Corps is equipped with the older non-quick firing breech-loaded guns. All the Corps are missing their Corps HQs (the political rivalries among the Great Squash and Pumpkin Families are holding things up...). The remaining 3 field guns and 3 howitzers for the Regular Corps have be ordered from Ackerwerks Gmb (rumored to be controlled Behind the Scenes by none other than the Karltoe Armaments Ltd; a rumor denied by both organizations).

Both sides are recruiting the associated cavalry, jaegers/chasseurs (foot and cyclist), and other specialists need to complete the forces.

With all this warlike activity can another war of Frontier Adjustment, Part II be long delayed?
I should point out that Gaming with Chuck staff are considering ordering some Armies in Plastic figures, to be painted up as TransTurkylvanians and Vulgarian Imperial Infantry.  For the great TransTurko-Vulgar War, as well as for use in 1914.  The TransTurko-Vulgar war (fought in the 1870s) was a natural carry over from the Crymea River war, where the Imperial Vulgarian army was stopped from conquering Suburbik homelands within the TransTurkylvanian Empire.  The troops that took part in the great Suburbo-Vulgar war could easily be reused for 1914, in a pinch.  The figures are also available from Armies in Plastic.
Vulgarian Empire Infantry
TransTurkylvanian Infantry
Once painted up, the Vulgarian infantry will be in their typical White and Green uniform, as seen here in this picture of painted figures from the Toy Soldier Company.
And here is an alternate view, all in green (as some Vulgarian units were so equipped).
Finally, some pictures of TransTurkylvanians.  Again, this picture below is from The Toy Soldier Company.

Historical Reading

So, along with the gaming acquisitions and orders, there has also been some new reading, and some review of old favorites.  The old stuff first.  So, I really enjoy Martin Gilbert, and I enjoy his book on the First World War.  As far as old stand-bys are concerned, Guns of August (Barbara Tuchman) is always worth a re-read as well.

As a new acquisition for me, although not a new book, is Marne, 1914 by Holger Herwig.  Near the top of my history book stack... And, also new to me, is Retreat and Rearguard by Jerry Murland.  The second is about the British Army and the BEF in particular, from Mons to the Marne (opening stages). 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Upcoming Convention - Siege of Augusta 2014

In Augusta, GA, January 17-19.

Check out the convention's Website

Download a copy of the convention's Flyer

Siege of Augusta is a nice, regional, convention with a very impressive list of events for this upcoming offering.  The theme this year (as I suspect it will be at a bunch of wargaming and history conventions) is 2014/1914 - 100 year anniversary of the start of the Great War.  The SoA folks are giving it the name of "The Guns of August".

The Gaming with Chuck staff is planning on being in attendance, and planning on rampant gaming.  Hopefully photos will follow.