Saturday, October 3, 2015

Revolutionary Germantown 2015

A fun day out with the kids and  the Children of the American Revolution.  The damp weather kept the crowds away,but the soldiers provided an engaging show with drama mixed with light moments.  The American  gun was trained on our exact position, and even though they were firing blanks and I had a line of Redcoats to catch any grapeshot, I still felt intimidated.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Welcome back to school 2016: A Close Run Thing

Like many schools, the school where I teach has a summer reading programs. Unlike most other schools, my school allows individual teachers to choose a book of interest to them. Then, on the second day after the end of summer vacation, the students engage in a day full of activities related to their book. This year, a colleague and I offered Iain Gale's Four Days in June. This historical novel tells the story of Waterloo from several different perspectives, and the students seemed to have enjoyed it. In the morning we showed the film and talked about why things were the way they were in regards to weapons, uniforms, and tactics. Then, in the afternoon, we brought out my collection of 28mm Napoleonics, and we fought a scaled-down version of the battle ourselves.
Team France. They look cheerful and enthusiastic. If they only knew what lay ahead...

Team Britain/Prussia.  Since the book focused largely on the Hougoumont and the arrival of the Prussians, those were the key elements in this game.
Due to bad command rolls and general timidity, the French advance was very slow.  An uncoordinated, piecemeal attack didn't work in 1815, and, dammit, it wasn't going to work a century later.
The French did manage a few breakthrough moments, as when the heavy cavalry made a hole i n the center of the British line, however, without infantry or artillery to support it (sound familiar?) the British soon plugged the hole in their lines.
Fighting raged around the Hougoumont all game.  While French artillery scored some early hits on the chateau. the defenders and their supporting units were able to hold on.

Due to some truly crappy dice rolling, the Prussians failed to appear on the field at all.  This meant that, despite their success in other sectors, Wellington's left had to beat a fighting retreat to the center of the field.  When we ended the fame, the Anglo-Allied army held the center, though a few more turns of French attack (who had finally managed to coordinate) might have made a difference.

And now the eye candy...
Good heavens, sir! The French are going to advance right across Mr. Trump's hair!
How hard can it be to capture one chateau?

My armies are painted for the Peninsula. Playing the role of the Prussians are some Portuguese infantry and Spanish cavalry and artillery.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Friday Night's Pretty Dang Good for Fighting

This weekend saw a "Supermoon" in  the night sky, and that must have meant the stars were aligned just right for all of the Ambler Gamer regulars to come to Joe's house for a War of Spanish Succession Slugfest.  Over 1500 figures contested the field, and some early choices and extreme die rolls determined the outcome. 

Mark, Scott, and Steve T chat before the game.  We used Mark's rules, and he was kind enough to referee. Like all of our preferred sets, play was fast, bloody, and decisive.  Unlike other WSS games I have played, cavalry did not cancel each other out early in the game.
Here is the main part of my command on the allied right flank.  With some good initiative rolls early on and a brigade of infantry (not shown) that I pulled away from the center, I thought I would have a cakewalk against Joe, my opponent.  It didn't hurt my cause that Joe made a series of catastrophically bad rolls on turn two, essentially giving my troops a free bound to capture the objective and set up a defense.
Scott looks sadly at the glacial advance of the troops in the French center. 
On the far side of the table, Steve P surged onto the French right flank. His infantry dig in against an expected counterattack by the French cavalry.
While my own die rolls were not great, I felt confident enough against Joe's formed infantry to ignore the dismounted dragoons who had crept through the woods onto my flank. My reinforcements would take care of them, I thought.
After advancing the Guard to the center of the table, Scott advances the turn marker. Mark reminds him that there are only two turns left.
Though the green objective marker is firmly under my control, a sustained firefight is leaving my troops shaken and bloody. Sensing an opportunity, Joe sends reinforcements to push me back.  By the end of the game, the best I could claim was that the objective was "contested."  Not shown: given that our cavalry had stared at each other for most of the game, I thought I would shake things up in the final turns with a cavalry charge. If I could threaten Joe's flank, I could shake off the shame of a "contested" objective. Bad idea. You know, sometimes cavalry charges don't work. A dead officer and two shattered regiments later, I found my own flank threatened.
Steve P cannot fathom the rotten showing of the British cavalry, who have failed to take any pressure off of the foot soldiers opposing the French Guard. Suddenly, the Allied position looks far less certain.
The British line is trained and resilient, but the French cavalry is out for blood. The Allied left starts to look shaky. Sort of like my hands in these long-range shots.
By the time the French Guard started to have its morale waver, the French and Bavarians had completely secured the center of the battlefield.  The brigade I had pulled off to reinforce my right could certainly have been better used to hold the center of the field. Would it have been enough to turn the tide of battle? Such questions are why we gamers keep coming back for more...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How have I not noticed this before?

On our recent trip to Lancaster County, I saw this sign posted just outside of Columbia, PA.  No wonder the central part of our state is so messed up. They're in need of some serious Tudor intervention.

And for those of you for whom that joke made no sense,please do a little background reading.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

2015 Historicon report: Saturday

Alas, a last day at Historicon. I played in two games, helped to referee another, and saw lots of miniature eye-candy.

This is only half of a game with a cool double-blind setup.

This was an interesting Plancenoit scenario I took part in, led by the fun-lovin' boys from Jersey.  An interesting scenario, with a long, thin table that turned our battle into a meat grinder, just like the historical one.

My troops. I led the French vanguard. My job was to hold off the French long enough for my fellow players to occupy the village and bring up the guard. I was kinda successful, but history is not kind to speed bumps.

Prussians on the ramparts!

The village that was the focal point of the battle. Anyone who says that the Prussians just showed up at the last minute to carry the day needs to get a taste for the bloody combat that went on here.

We're in the village. To keep the battlefield tidy, I eventually routed all of my cavalry off of it.

I had to leave early to help Joe set up his game, but here is how I left the battle, with my lines staring into the legions of landwehr bearing down on me...

On Saturday afternoon, I helped Joe Alexander (of Ambler Gamers) set up and run a Spanish Civil War scenario.  We used a simplified version of Bolt Action that guaranteed a fast, bloody game. Just the way we like 'em. 

I got to contribute my 28mm MBA Spanish houses, including a barn I had picked up from their clearance table the day before. The houses were objectives, and most changed hands several times in the course of the game.

Communist militia backed by the Soviets face of against Falangists backed by the Nazis. Who are we supposed to root for again?


Our mascot! 

The Foreign Legion creeps toward an objective.

Nationalists allocate resources.

And Republicans surge forward.

Things start to get hairy around one of the objectives. Both sides waited until they were very close to open fire, guaranteeing lots of casualties.

The other side of the table saw more armored action, with vehicles and troops swarming around the church.

The International Brigade comes knockin'.

The saddest little piece of artillery in the game.  Pinned, shot up, and immobilized.

The final assault on the church. It changed hands three times in the last turn.

A crazy-looking game involving a raid on an airfield in North Africa.

Those who don't like Zombies at Historicon may avert your eyes.

My last game, the Attack on the Kashmiri Gate, led by Roxanne Patton. Some terrific terrain designed and built by none other than Ambler Gamers' own Scott Washburn.

The British and their Sikh subjects prepare to leave the Customs House.

My command--disorganized Mutineers.

Roxanne and my opponents discuss the assault.

My guns did their best to keep the British off of the breach.

Not going to happen.  I was not able to take advantage of the bottleneck.