Wednesday, September 29, 2021

It Rolls For Ivan

The weekly Tuesday remote game saw a return to the Russian Civil War after having fought a RCW battle a few weeks earlier using One Hour Wargames.  The action this week saw the initial trial of an adaptation to Graham's For Whom The Dice Rolls transported back in time to the Russian Civil War.  Graham's scenario pitted three brigades against three brigades.  The Reds had an advantage in infantry.  The Whites held an advantage in cavalry.  The Reds had their cavalry on the left while the Whites had cavalry on both flanks. 
Commissar Graham
 issuing directives to the commanders 
Let's see how this initial test played out.
Reds win initiative and advance across the front
 with rail station as an objective.
Whites counter with cavalry moving on left flank.
Reds continue moving to the rail line and deploy.
One battalion of White infantry secure
 the woods opposite rail station.
Reds secure both rail station and farm.
White cavalry charge into the Red right
with supporting MG fire from the woods.
On the Red far right (!), the line holds.
Graham wants a photo of the action
 as the Red infantry falls back.
Attacked a second time, the Red infantry rout.
Seeing this breakthrough,
 the Reds shift one cavalry regiment to the center.
White cavalry pursue and then about face.
White cavalry on the right advances into
 the center to threaten Red movements. 
White cavalry on the right takes heavy casualties
from the farm and from infantry holding the center.
Red cavalry charge into over-extended cavalry
recovering behind the station.
  The White's are trapped.
White cavalry is pushed to the edge while the
 White cavalry falls back from withering fire near the farm.
Seeing an opportunity, White infantry attack
 skirmishers between the farm and station.
Skirmishers are driven back with heavy casualties.
Red cavalry charge White cavalry at the far end of the table.
Caught in march column, the White cavalry is destroyed.
Meanwhile, the successful White infantry in the center
turns to flank the Reds that had recently mutinied.
The mutineers are destroyed!
Flush with success, the White infantry turn to finish off
 the battered skirmishers which they do.
With about three hours of play in the books, Graham called the game.  While a proof of concept game, the result looked like a White victory to me.  Of course it would, I was in command of the White army!

An interesting game that holds good promise in transporting FWTDR back to an earlier war.  Actually, the mechanisms worked well for the period and I envisioned watching the vast cavalry charges of Dr. Zhivago.  Chrome tacked on to the base rules provided a distinctive flavor of the RCW. Looking forward to returning to the Russian Motherland again.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Remote Gaming: Call to Arms

Having survived the rigors of hosting the five remote wargames of the AWI battle of Shoemaker's Bridge (see: the various battle reports), I am sending out a call-to-arms for readers interested in giving an ACW remote game a try.
The ACW battle selected for this game with be the battle for Brawner's Farm set in the opening stages of the Battle of Second Manassas in 1862.  While the Battle of Brawner's Farm has seen action on my gaming table before (many years ago!), armed with new information and a new way to deliver the game, it is time to revisit the opening action of Second Manassas.  The archives from these earlier actions can be found at Action at Brawner's Farm.
These earlier battles were fought on a non-gridded table using Regimental Fire and Fury.  While I have yet to decide whether I will go the gridded or non-gridded table route for this game, the rules in play will be my adaptation of Field of Honor.  For those readers that participated in the Shoemaker's Bridge battles, these rules will be very familiar and not complicated.  As a bonus, the rules seemed to work well in a remote setting.
The battlefield may look a little different from these earlier games especially if the battle is translated from non-grid to grid.  Gridded gaming worked well in the AWI remote games, so I favor that approach for now.  The OB may be modified slightly too but enough to keep four players engaged with meaningful commands.  
So, if you participated in one of the Shoemaker's Bridge remote games, enjoyed it, and wish to tackle another remote game, I welcome you to sign up. If you are interested in giving a remote game via Zoom a try with no pressure, I encourage you to throw your hat into the ring as well.  The battle could handle more than four active players.  Since a number of commands enter as reinforcements, I think it better to have all players engaged in action from the start.  Therefore, I place a four player limit on the game.  Perhaps this limit could be expanded in a replay?  Players will command at least one brigade.  

The battle will be fought in 10mm, likely on a roughly 6'x6' playing area.  Tentatively, I plan the game for Saturday, October 9 at 10:00 Pacific (1:00pm Eastern and 6:00pm British) time.  The 1000-1300-1800 start seems to work well for my east coast and UK participants.  Of course, I may adjust the date/time to accommodate the four players' schedules.

So that I have email addresses from those wishing to participate and I have a list from which to draw a sample of four, please submit your request to participate to the email address on my Profile page.  State your preference for side and if you want to participate as an individual or join with a friend as a team.  Team play might be interesting.     

I plan to send out a scenario packet by 02 OCT providing game details.  Players should then have ample time to plan strategy and tactics, and ask any pre-game questions.

As in the Shoemaker Bridge series of games, enough interest may encourage additional replays of the battle.

Any takers?

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

R&P White Plains BatRep

Battlefield and Initial Deployments
After nearly two months from our last Rebels & Patriots AWI series game (Maryland 400), Matt and I picked up where we last left off.  That is, New York 1776.  Next battle to fight is the Battle of White Plains.  Matt drafted a scenario and the battle was fought on Sunday.  As always, Matt commanded the British and I took command of the Rebels.  Again as typical, the Americans were on the defensive while the British were set for another assault upon the colonial defenders.  This time, the Rebels were outnumbered (actually, outpointed) about two-to-one.  For a minor victory, the redcoats need to take Chatterton Hill.  For a decisive victory, the British must take the bridge leading into White Plains.

Let's see how the battle played out.
The British face a long line of Rebels upon the heights.
Americans on the left and Anglo-Germans on the right.
Rebels step forward to close the range.
British cross the river in force
 with two regiments making for the ford on the right.
Rall and his Hessians advance on the American right.
The dragoons charge the skirmishers but pull up short.
Fire erupts from the Americans. 
 The once confident (and newly painted) dragoons suffer
mightily before breaking for the rear.
Militia on the American right fire into Rall. 
Seeing the dragoons flee, Morale Check time.
The light infantry skedaddle having rolled a double 1.
One Hessian regiment breaks for the rear.
A second British regiment rolls a double 1
and flees the battlefield.
The British guns finally drive off one of the skirmisher
 units as a heated exchange unfolds on the American left.
On the American right, the long inactive militia
awakens to deliver a withering blow to von Rall. 
Not only do the Hessians break but Rall is killed.
While the American skirmishers in the dead ground
between the lines break to the rear, the remaining
Hessian regiment is the target of concentrated fire.
The Hessians break and another British regiment
 on the British right is destroyed.
At 75% casualties (!), the battle is over and the remnants of the British left wing limp back toward safety. Victory to the Rebels!

For the British (and Matt), the action at White Plains was a brutal affair.  Early in the battle, Matt suffered three double 1's in morale checks.  At least two of the three failed checks caused Redcoat regiments to evaporate.  The American militia on the far right of the American line (barely visible in most of the game photos) activated only once (or was it twice?) the entire battle.  When it did activate, it hit Rall with a devastating volley causing ten hits.  Even outnumbered nearly 2-to-1, the Rebels proved that they are tough to dislodge when defending favorable ground.  As seen time and time again, attacking in R&P is perilous.

As always, a very enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning.  Matt's table is always a pleasure to fight over.  This time, the Rebels bounced back from their record of 1-1-1 at Long Island.

What is up next in this series?  Perhaps the Battle of Fort Washington or Battle of Trenton.  We will see.

Thanks again to Matt for hosting another superb outing. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Sumerian Serendipity

While work has begun on a Sumerian project inspired by Graham Evan's To Ur is Human rules (see my First Impressions here), many questions remain unclear as I dive into a new, and unfamiliar period.

Imagine my relief when an advert for the above book recently popped into my Inbox.  This looks promising!  Well, little surprise that I quickly ordered a copy of this Soldiershop book from Amazon.  Being available in Kindle format, I received near instant gratification after having pressed the "Buy" button.

The author, Chris Flaherty, has produced a very interesting primer on the period.

The book is divided into the following thirteen chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Selecting Soldiers
  • Chapter 2: Role, Organization, and Maneuver of Armies
  • Chapter 3: Battle
  • Chapter 4: Kings and Military Leaders
  • Chapter 5: Priests and God Idols
  • Chapter 6: Hunters and Herder-Warriors
  • Chapter 7: Shield-Bearers and Spearmen
  • Chapter 8: Storage Pots, Water and Land Transport
  • Chapter 9: Fortifications and Siege Craft
  • Chapter 10: The Sumerian War Cart
  • Chapter 11: War Cart's Battle Use
  • Chapter 12: King Sargon's Standing Army 
  • Chapter 13: Amorite, Elamite, and Lullabi Warriors

A quick reading of this 218 page book has clarified a number of questions I had and given me as many questions to ponder.  Some of these chapters are directly applicable to wargamers whether painting and organizing armies or gaming.  I will be re-examining Graham's wargame rules in a new light.

Very useful addition to a wargamer's library on an often overlooked period. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Massed Sumerian Archers

After a number of battles and battle reports, I am back at the painting desk.  Still, I have loads of recent battles not chronicled but those games may only receive a passing acknowledgement on the blog.   Perhaps, combining many of these past games into a photo collage containing a sample photo from each game would be sufficient?

The two latest games saw a Neil Thomas One Hour Wargame set during the Russian Civil War on Tuesday and a Sunday Biblical battle between Canaanites and Hittites using Field of Glory.  More than five years has passed since I last played Field of Glory.  My impressions remain unchanged... 
Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Off the painting desk today are two units of Sumerian archers.  Each of the nine figure stands muster out as a 'T' bow unit under Impetvs or massed archers under other rules (including TtS! and To Ur is Human).  Figures are Newline Designs.
My fledgling Sumerian project now can field four units with two spear and two bow.  For this project, next off the workbench will be a handful of slingers.  After those, I may return to fielding more spearmen before tackling a battle cart or two.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Remote Gaming in a Changed World

With survey results tallied, time to begin looking behind the data in this year's The Great Wargaming Survey (GWS2021).  Kicking off the analysis, I take a look at remote gaming.

Having made the leap into remote figure wargaming almost a year ago, I was especially interested in seeing responses to the two, new survey questions relating to remote wargaming.  Those two survey questions asked about remote gaming participation and continuation. 

When considering this topic and the questions asked, a few of the questions that came to mind were:

  • Is remote gaming a niche within a niche?
  • Is remote gaming a transitory means of gaming that will fade quickly after Face-to-Face (F2F) restrictions are lifted? 
  • Does remote gaming have an effect on gaming frequency?
  • Is remote gaming age-dependent?

With survey results in, I hope to address and answer some of these questions.

Participation Rate:
With a total response of 11,172 respondents (the largest response total to date, I think), does remote gaming represent a small percentage of gaming activity when compared to Face-to-Face gaming?  Table 1 suggests otherwise.

Table 1
Based upon the GWS2021, 39% of the respondents marked that they had participated in remote or virtual gaming.  39 percent!  This is a much larger percentage than I imagined.  Perhaps, the notion and implementation of remote gaming are not so niche? 

Seeing that 39% of respondents admitted to participating in remote gaming during the last year, how many plan to continue gaming remotely?  Perhaps, remote gaming is only a fad that will fade quickly?  Again, Table 2 suggests otherwise.
Table 2
Surprising to me, only 10% of respondents marked that, 'No', they would not continue remote wargaming.  Perhaps remote wargaming may have staying power?

Gaming Frequency:
While remote gaming allows gaming to continue even when F2F gaming is not possible or discouraged, do gamers participating in remote gaming play more frequently?  Since that direct question cannot be answered specifically from the survey, can we infer that increases in remote gaming contribute to increased gaming?
Figure 1
Figure 1 suggests this might hold since those gaming more than once per week game remotely more than F2F.

Converting these counts to percentages, what do we find (see Figure 2)?
Figure 2
The survey suggests that the more frequently people game, the more likely they are to embrace remote gaming.  Since one must have a motivation to overcome the barriers and challenges in diving into remote gaming, those gaming more frequently take on that challenge to tackle these hurdles.  Less frequent gaming carries with it a corresponding reduction in urgency to scale the learning curve.  From my experience, this inference fits.  An interesting result, I think. 

Age Group:
As seen from findings from past surveys, age group differences typically exist.  Is participation in remote gaming age-based as well?  With the exception of the always undercounted 20 and Under age group category, remote gaming participation falls monotonically as age increases.  Is this tendency driven by technology or preferences for social interaction?  See Figure 3.
Figure 3
There you have it.  A first look at GWS2021 survey results leading off on a topic I find interesting.  Did I learn anything from this analysis? Yes.  Remote gaming seems more mainstream than I thought and appears here to stay.

Personally, my gaming frequency has exploded with the introduction of remote gaming.  Going from fewer than one game per month to more than one per week has been astounding.  My circle of gaming friends has grown as well.  Really grown.  Thanks for the explosion in my gaming activity falls primarily onto two fellow bloggers: Matt from wargamesinthedungeon and Graham at Wargaming for Grown-ups.  Without their guidance and mentoring, this uptick in gaming activity may not have been possible.

Looking forward to reading comments on your experiences with remote gaming during these unusual times.  How do your personal experiences mirror or differ from the results given above?

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Filling In Holes

The theme of today's post is about filling in holes.

First up, Hittites; Hittite bowmen, skirmishers to be exact.

With Ian intent on reigniting work on his Late Bronze Age rules, I offered up my troops and table for remote playtesting.  One problem I faced is that Ian's rules require a number of skirmisher units wielding either bow, javelin, or melee weapon.  Having patterned my Hittite Army primarily from Impetvs (or TtS!) lists, I did not field many skirmishers.  To correct for this under-representation, I pressed several units into the painting queue.

To that goal, first off the workbench are four, four-figure stands of Hittite bowmen.  Figures are 28mm Newline Designs.  A similar number of javelinmen will likely be next in this project augmentation.

The second hole to plug is a shortage of four-inch flocked hexes.

40 more hexes
With the recent battery of AWI games on hexes, thoughts of larger hex-based games have been turning over in my head.  Larger games require more hexes.  To address this shortfall, I finished 40 more four-inch, flocked hexes.  These hexes ought to be sufficient to increase the hex grid by two rows in both axes.

The third hole I am entertaining thoughts of filling is replacing a roster system of tracking casualties and unit attributes with an on-table marker approach.  Not really a hole but a redirection.  With Richard's WotR rules in playtest, he uses a roster system to track casualties, morale, armor, and other attributes.
Prototype stat and attribute scheme
The rostering system works well especially when the GM handles all of the tracking and computations.  For my own use, I prefer keeping my focus on the gaming table to reduce paper shuffling and back-and-forth glances from table to roster.  Still early versioning but I think I may have a workable prototype solution for my own needs.  The attribute labels on the right-hand side of each melee line could be decreased in size.  Richard is willing to give this system a try. We will see if this scheme works in practice.  Hopefully a test in the near future is possible.

The final hole to fill is a gaping hole in the basement ensuite bedroom.
Yes, quite an unpleasant discovery on Monday afternoon.  Last used by house guests at the end of July, Nancy went into the room and came out stating that "we have a big problem."  Well, often times, the "big problem" is not that big but this time, indeed, it was.  When I went in to inspect, the ceiling was bulging down, heavy with water.  The bed underneath the ceiling was damp but not soaked.  Pushing the bed into the center of the room and cutting away a section of the damage in search of the source of the leak revealed the culprit; an adhesive failure at an elbow joint.  Calls to a plumber and insurance got the leak fixed and damage mitigation pushed into motion on Tuesday.  This reconstruction work will likely disrupt gaming activities for awhile.  With another house guest planned for end of month, a lot of luck is needed to see the suite serviceable in time.

Given the maintenance issue described above, yesterday marked only the second Tuesday remote game with my UK friends missed since I began gaming with them last November.  Too bad too as I was scheduled to take to the air in a new Fokker triplane.  Maybe next time?