Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saved!

Campaign Against Lucrania - Mission # 6

Mission Details
Mission # - 6
Target - Radar Station
Forces Engaged:

  • Bombers - first wave = 2 Condor bombers
  • Escorts - 2 Raptor fighters
  • Defenders - 3 Chick fighters (blue and yellow) and 2 Goshawk fighters (silver and blue)


Note - The "Chicks" are considered inferior fighters (D6+0 move) while the Raptors and Goshawks are average (D6+1).

After Action Report
With their forces decimated, the Empire makes a last ditch effort to salvage the campaign. Once again they target the radar station but can only muster 2 medium bombers and 2 escorts.

The Lucranians are able to scramble a squadron of Chick fighters, leftovers from the previous war. They are outdated compared to the Goshawks and Raptors but their pilots are determined to stop the invaders.

First blood - one Raptor damaged (top) and one shot down (bottom)

The defenders make numerous passes at the bombers but keep missing. This becomes a recurring theme.

 The remaining Raptor shoots down one Goshawk and zeroes in on another.

The Goshawk manages to evade and pursues the bombers. Meanwhile, a pair of Chicks finally hone their aim and manage to down a bomber.

The Goshawk manages to damage the other bomber before it flies into AA range.

Fortunately, the anti-aircraft gunners prove their worth, knocking the bomber from the skies before it deposits its payload.

Once again the radar station is saved!

With his forces depleted, Air Marshal Gruber realizes that the campaign cannot succeed. He calls off any future missions and begins rebuilding his forces.

Game Notes

  • Because of losses, the Imperial bomber squadrons are severely undermanned. Thus, the 2 squadrons in this raid were only able to field 2 bombers. Similarly, the escorts are under-strength. The Lucranians managed to get lucky and rolled a full-strength squadron as one of the defenders.
  • I plan to introduce "inferior" fighters to the line-up. They (some Irregular biplanes) are on the painting table so I substituted, demoting some Goshawks to Chicks and Peregrines to Goshawks.
  • At this point, the Imperials cannot win the campaign. All targets are still intact so at best they can only destroy one. Thus, I decided to call an end to the campaign, with a decided Lucranian victory! I'll start a new campaign eventually.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

O'Gooley's Gun

A One Hour Skirmish Wargame Report

Yesterday I presented my initial impressions of John Lambshead's One Hour Skirmish Wargames. I was so intrigued that I decided to try it out this morning!

Set Up
For my first outing with OHSW, it made sense to start with the first scenario - capture the cannon. The scenario is set during the Napoleonic Wars (the Peninsula to be exact) and focuses on a tussle between a British and French detachment vying to secure an abandoned cannon.

I had a slight problem - no figures, or so I thought. Then I remembered I had a copy of Risk somewhere on my shelves. A little digging unearthed the necessary troops, and fortuitously they were the Napoleonic-themed ones from the 1990s.

As I mentioned yesterday, I am not a fan of card-based systems, and don't even have a pack of cards for experiments. So I decided to convert to dice. For action points and morale, I used a 2D6 roll while combat used 1D6. Additional card draws allowed an additional roll. Instead of a joker ending the turn, a roll of double ones

You will also notice that I grid-ified the rules. I used a 10 x 16" square grid. Distances were cut by 3 (so a 6" infantry move becomes 2 spaces and musket range of 18" becomes 6 spaces). Note that the terrain, other than the road and the cannon, was generated randomly rather than dictated by the scenario.

All-in-all, my changes worked fine. I was especially worried that turns would drag. My change essentially created a fixed probability of a turn ending on a dice roll, whereas with cards, the probability would increase with every successive draw. As fate would have it, this was not a problem today.

Battle Report
Lt Griois of the Chasseurs-a-Cheval has been tasked with recovering a cannon abandoned during the retreat from Lisbon. With him is a detachment of Voltigeurs. As he approaches the gun, he sees that the British have arrived first - regular infantry on his left and riflemen on a small hill and in the wood.

While the Voltigeurs advance, the Lt. sends forth a couple of mounted scouts. Shots ring out and Griois' men suffer casualties.

Game Note - I was able to get in 2 full phases, one for each side, before the first turn ended. One downed Brit recovered but both downed Frenchmen were permanent casualties.

The infantry rush the cannon.

A mad melee ensues around the gun while one of the cavalry takes out a rifleman in the wood.

Griois is shot by a rifleman. He halts while he tends to his wound.

Around this point, 3 turns sped by quickly. Turn 2 ended after a few phases, but both turn 3 and 4 ended on the very first combat of each turn.

His accompanying cavalrymen continue forward, charging up the hill and sabering the hapless riflemen. Meanwhile, Private O'Gooley, that hulking, mad Irishman, rushes from the flank, dodging bullets, and charges the French around the cannon.
O'Gooley is a Bruiser - he gets an extra die in close combat. Clearly it was advantageous to get him into the thick of things.

O'Gooley stabs and smashes the French infantry around the cannon. (O'Gooley managed to kill 2 French infantrymen who had the temerity to attack him)

Recovered from his wound, Griois leads his troopers in a charge on the gun. O'Gooley shows no fear. Instead, he stands his ground, waving his musket threateningly and shouting Gaelic curses at the horsemen.

"Sacre bleu!" exclaims Lt. Griois, "c'est le diable!" The Lt is unnerved by the frothing Irishman. Better to face a furious Marshal Ney than this crazy redcoat! Griois breaks off his charge and rides pell mell to the rear. His troops emulate his actions, and soon the entire French detachment is in full flight.

Turn 5 ended rather abruptly, with the cavalry charge in full swing. The British passed their morale easily but the French failed miserably. Although in hindsight I forgot to apply Griois' leadership bonus. C'est la vie.

The gun, and the victory, go to the British.

Thoughts
  • A fun and quick game. It went for 31 minutes. Partly that was because turns 3 and 4 were absurdly short. Lambshead intended to create a lot of randomness into the game and he seemed to succeed. I think game length may be highly variable.
  • Of course, I certainly messed with probabilities by swapping out cards in favor of dice.
    • I will likely need to reconsider Motivation Levels. For example, the British had a Motivation Level of 3, which allowed them to add 3 to any Morale roll. Given that 2D6 tends to normalize rolls, they are far less likely to fail than with a card draw mechanism. Reducing the Motivation Level may help mitigate this. I am also considering a D12 for Morale and Action Point rolls.
    • I am considering alternate ways of determining the turn end. In this case, it worked out OK (and happened with greater frequency than I expected). I am still concerned, however, that some turns may just go on and on.
  • One thing that felt weird was that figures could move and fire. It did not seem appropriate to the musket period to have a figure rush across the field, firing at the same time. I may add a rule that musket-men can only fire if they don't move.
  • Overall, I am quite satisfied with the rules and am looking forward to trying the next scenario! It's a testament to the rules that I am considering ordering some 10mm figures for some skirmish gaming!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

One Hour Skirmish Wargames

I recently purchased One Hour Skirmish Wargames for the nook.


The rules are designed for fast-play small-unit actions for eras where firearms predominate (i.e. from the musket to the modern eras, and beyond). I've been dabbling with fast-play skirmish rules for a couple of years now so was interested to see another approach. Now that I've read through them, do I like them?

NO!
When I first learned about these rules I was taken aback by something on the cover. It says "dice-less." I found a review that pointed out that the rules use playing cards as randomizers. This was a big negative to me. I'm not a fan of using cards in mini games. It's just one more component to clutter my small table. I much prefer using dice. As such, I find it unlikely that I will use these rules as written (what else is new?). I'm not sure why I bought these rules, but then I read further.

YES!
Nevertheless, I am very glad that I did read OHSW; there are some really great ideas in it! Here are a few that struck me.

Damage
Much like Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames OHSW seeks to strip out any unnecessary complexity. One way that the author, John Lambshead, does this is to get rid of tracking of wounds / damage. Instead, damage is very simple and straightforward - figures that are hit are considered Downed and a laid on their side. At the end of the turn, the player checks on the fate of any Downed figures. Any figure that fails the check is a Casualty and is removed from play.

I'm sure I've seen something similar before so it may not necessarily be completely innovative. Nevertheless, none of my current rules use this damage methodology so it is new to me. And I really like the simplicity of it; so much so that I intend to experiment with it.

Scenarios
Lambshead provides a section of core rules followed by period-specific rules for 6 eras (Musket, Rifle, Interwar, World War 2, Cold War, and Pulp). Each period includes a scenario. For example, the Rifle Era chapter has a scenario where a small British detachment defends a small redoubt from a Zulu attack. Each scenario looks interesting; I'd like to give each a try.

Campaigns
The author also include a fairly lengthy chapter on campaigns where he discusses various types of campaigns.

In one section of the chapter, he provides an example of a map campaign. It centers around a WW2 German unit trying to escape a Soviet encirclement. The Germans travel among nodes on the mode while the Soviets position their limited defending forces at certain nodes. If opposing forces meet at a node then a skirmish occurs. This example provides an interesting set-up that can easily be converted to a solo campaign!

OHSW also suggests a narrative campaign, where forces are not moved on a map but the skirmishes are linked. For example, the first skirmish involves intelligence gathering, followed by an assault, then pursuit, and finally an ambush. This example is simple, straightforward, and easy to solo, while still providing varied and interesting situations.

I found the campaigns chapter very inspirational!

FINAL VERDICT
My initial reaction was very negative due to the use of cards rather than dice. However, Lambshead won me over with some interesting and useful ideas. I am tempted to get some cards (I don't even own a deck right now) and try out the rules themselves (more likely I will try to dice-ify them). I definitely want to test out the scenarios and campaigns.

Overall, I say BUY IT. Even if you don't use the dice-less system, you may find some value to OHSW.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Learning to Krawl

Nearly five years ago I worked up a simple set of dungeon crawl rules that I called Kevin's Krawl. I eventually abandoned KK when I discovered Four Against Darkness (4AD). Recently, however, I have been taking a second look at them.

My main concern with 4AD is at the higher levels. Once you reach level 5, you move to the rules expansion in Four Against the Abyss, which drops D6s in favor of D8s. Now I am no fan of funny-shaped dice and don't want to scrounge around for any in order to play. I kept wondering if there would be a single D6 mechanic that could cover all levels of play. A little while ago I started poking around with other rules-light RPGS such as Amazing Tales (which I converted to 2D6) and PDQ. However, not much came of it all.

My interest in dungeon crawls has recently revived, thanks to a video game. My wife had been playing a lot of Darkest Dungeon.


This got me interested in playing a pen-and-paper dungeon crawl. I also got inspiration from Squad-Hammer. It struck me that the simple 2D6 mechanics of S-H could be applied to skirmish level action. I then realized that S-H was somewhat similar in execution to Kevin's Krawl. So now I'm back to KK, utilizing ideas from Amazing Tales, PDQ, and Squad-Hammer to improve my original design. I have some thoughts jotted down - I just need to collect them together and then run some playtests.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

More Squad-Hammer Experiments

Over the past week or so I've done some more experimenting with Squad-Hammer.

Battle 1
First, I tried grid-ifying the rules. The board is 10 by 16 squares. Infantry moved 2 and vehicles moved 3. In this game the Dominion is mopping up resistance on Zirconia.

If you zoom into this picture, you'll see orange numbers or dots next to the stands. This is how I tracked damage; it's one advantage of using a dry erase board and markers.

During this scenario, the Zirconians made excellent use of the Withdraw and Regroup commands to recover from damage, which enabled them to hold off the robot menace.

Battle 2
This second battle features some re-based troops.

I marked damage on the mat next to the unit rather than on the base. It was easier to do because I did not have to move the unit. The only issue was that I had to erase and re-write the damage when a unit moved.

Armor could be powerful. For example, on the left a Dominion (silver) tank wiped out 2 infantry.

 But in the end, both tanks were destroyed (primarily from artillery).

And the Dominion lost again. Given the Zirconian defensive position, I should have given more units to the Dominion.

The entire game lasted 39 minutes (I didn't count but it was probably 5 turns).

Notes

  • I planned on getting in one more game before posting this but got distracted by a dungeon crawl project.
  • I have another idea for damage markers. I will experiment with it when I next play S-H. Who knows when that will be?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Blind the Defenders

Campaign Against Lucrania - Mission # 5

Mission Details
Mission # - 5
Target - Radar Station
Forces Engaged:

  • Bombers - first wave = 3 Condor bombers; second wave = 3 Vulture bombers (note that I use fictional names for the plane types)
  • Escorts - 4 Raptor fighters
  • Defenders - 3 Goshawk fighters (blue and yellow) and 3 Peregrine fighters (silver and blue)

After Action Report
After the Empire's latest debacle, Air Marshal Gruber realized that a new approach was needed. He decided on an all-out blitz against the Lucranian radar in order to blind the defenders.

First blood. A Lucranian Peregrine fighter falls (top right) while an Imperial Raptor fighter (bottom center) is damaged. Two waves of bombers approach - Condors (medium) followed by Vultures (heavies).

A Raptor shoots down a Goshawk but is in turn shot down (bottom)

The Peregrines go after the Condors (right) while the Goshawks chase down the Vultures (left)

One Condor goes down (right)

And then another. Meanwhile, the Raptors and Goshawks dogfight with one Raptor going down (left).

One Condor makes it to the target. It avoids the flak and drops its bombs, doing moderate damage (6 points on 2D6).


 Meanwhile, the Vultures press on. Defensive fire knocks down one Goshawk.

A Goshawk makes a daring run, shooting down a Raptor and damaging a Vulture.

It then turns, shoots down a Vulture.

and then takes down another Vulture! Three kills!

The last Vulture manages to make it to the target, albeit heavily damaged. Its bomb run is markedly less accurate than the Condor. Nevertheless, the radar station has suffered significant damage (10 out of 21 total points).

Despite the damage, it has been a costly day for the Empire - 4 bombers and 4 fighters destroyed. The Lucranians only lost 2 fighters.

Notes
  • Raptors and Goshawks move D6+1 while Peregrines move D6+2. Condors move 3 and Vultures move 2. Condors bomb with 2D6 and Vultures get 4D6. Damaged bombers remove 1D6 per hit.
  • Today's session ran for about an hour. I kind of missed the shorter, 3 plane raids. I've been looking at the roster, however, and all the bomber squadrons have lost planes. The next raid will be small because of the losses.
  • Now that I can do full scale raids, I have pro-rated the damage capacity of the targets. This is how I arrived at 21 total points for the station.
  • With 2 missions left, no targets destroyed, and all bomber squadrons short-handed, the situation looks bleak for the Imperial cause.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

What's In Store for 2019?

Wow, this is a hard question to answer. I have become so flighty with my gaming that it has become very hard to predict where I'm heading. However, here are some ideas I have in mind for the upcoming year.

Box Sets
A couple of years ago, I created my first boxed game set. I have since really become pleased with the concept, but right now my box sets are in a bit of disarray. I want to get organized in 2019. Here are some of my plans:
  • The Plane Box - everything I need for my Aetheria plane project - planes, rules, a full-sized flip-mat, status markers, etc. all in a deep Tiger Brand Tuff Box.
  • The Sea Box - everything I need for naval battles. Right now, I only have tokens for Age of Sail battles but I have wanted to add galleys. I also would like a nice mat.
  • The Land Box - everything I need for ancient to horse & musket battles, including blocks or generic 2mm stands.
6mm Roleplaying
I haven't been doing many roleplaying sessions (e.g. Four Against Darkness) lately. Part of my reluctance is because I don't have figures to illustrate the scenes. Well, I would like to rectify that. On TWW, I've seen some 6mm skirmish games which look good. I am tempted by Perfect Six's range but think that they may be a bit small. Perhaps I'll look into 10mm.

GADD
Gamer's Attention Deficit Disorder best described 2018 and I expect will continue. Right now I am in a plane mania, but I suspect that will dissipate in time. What will my next craze be? I have no idea.

Twelve Games
As always, I will finish the year with the Twelve Games of Christmas Challenge (something of an annual tradition in our home). I managed to complete this year's challenge on New Year's Eve.