Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Battle of Denmark Strait -Hood Vs. Bismarck

Last week I had the opportunity to get the ships out and teach a new player.  Denmark Strait is a classic engagement and a great introductory scenario.

Since it was just the two of us I gave Steven the choice of commands after a brief run down of the rules for Naval Thunder.  Without hesitation he chose the British.

As the German player my goal was to sink one of the two British ships and exit the battle area via the South East corner.  The British goal was to sink the Bismarck while still having one ship survive.
Bismarck sights British ships on the horizon
My strategy was simple Target HMS Hood with both ships each turn since they fired in different phases Bismarck (Battleship) and Prince Eugen (Cruiser).  Steven focused on Bismarck suffering the negative for the extra splash marker since both Hood and Prince of Whales fire in the Battleship phase.

The German guns have a slightly longer range and better penetrations, but the British have more , so this really comes down to a slug match.  Surprisingly we both scored hits in the opening round of fire at long and extreme.
Bismarck is straddled by opening salvos

Bismarck made for the exit while the British fire was extremely accurate.  fortunately the mechanical issues with the Prince of Whales was an issue of the fire power of the British would have been more devastating.
HMS Hood takes and early 15in shell causing a fire to erupt
While Bismarck took all the punishment Prince Eugen was able to keep the hopes for victory alive.  She scored a critical bridge hit on HMS Hood.  As a result Hood's remaining officers decided they no longer had the stomach for battle and turned for safety leaving PoW to keep up the fight alone.
Giants continue to batter one another
In the meantime the British gunnery had reduced Bismarck to a wreck removing all four of the main turrets. With little hope of victory Prince Eugen closed with PoW to get within torpedo range.  Pow then shifted her fire to PE delivering some crushing blows.
Bismarck suffers Engine damage as well as losing guns at a rapid rate.
PE stayed in the fight and delivered two torpedo salvos the second hitting with 2/3 fish sending PoW to the bottom.
Despite taking punishing blows Prince Eugen delivers torpedo salvo
Again, it was a bad day for the British Navy as it was historically.  This time though they managed to inflict severe damage to both German units who would be lucky to limp back to port.
Crippled Bismarck limps to safety as Prince Eugen covers her retreat
The Planned first war cruise for Bismarck will certainly be delayed if the ship can even be salvaged.

Steven proved to be a great Captain for his first time out quickly gaining his sea legs.

Look forward to sailing the high seas again and teaching more potential sailors this great game.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Getting back to Gaming

There has not been a lot going on this summer for me in the way of gaming.  My job in the military took me away for a few weeks.  In addition, my oldest of three was back from school and spread out in the basement and # two graduated H.S. and is getting ready to head off to college next week.
View of the room from the doorway

As a result my hobby room/man cave was taken over for temporary storage so we could get ready for a graduation party.
Bolt Action, AWI and Anglo-Zulu 28mm collections
Since my gaming area was not very accessible when I did have some free time I took a bit of a break and turned my attention to some home brewing which has also been fun.
Book shelves with many of my rules and some of my historical reference library
My boys are now leaving for school, so I decided it was time to spread out and reclaim my area.  In addition to just cleaning and moving all the extra junk out I also added some shelving so I can better organize.
Some of my classic Board games
I also attended a small local gaming event a couple weeks ago which motivated me to get going again as well as renewed my interest in some game systems I have not done much with lately.
Table top terrain now easily accessible
One of these games is Wings of Glory which I am busy catching up on.  With the extra room I took the collection out of the foam trays I had been using and put all the planes back in the original packaging.  This way I can better identify what is what and ensure it is kept safer.  I still have the foam in the event I want to take some to a convention.
WoW/WoG now sorted by set
Now that I have my hobby room and work bench back I can get some projects out on the bench.
View of the work area off the main room

A few of the many projects on the shelves that are pending
Most importantly I hope to get some more time this fall rolling dice.  after all, what good are games if you don't get to play them. :)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Return to the High Seas

Naval Thunder
This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a mini gaming convention hosted by Royal Hobby in Rockford, IL in honor of their 45th anniversary.  If you are in the area Royal Hobby is well worth the visit.  I have been making regular visits for 30 plus years now.

I found out about the event through my gaming buddy Mike who informed me he was running a Naval Thunder event both days.  Mike and I along with Dan had previously formed Naval Thunder Gamers (NTG) to promote Naval Thunder at local conventions. 

Unfortunately the last three years has not seen much Naval gaming for me as the local annual Naval Convention (NAVCON) has fallen on a work weekend the last two years.  Additionally, I had discovered Bolt Action and Black Powder which has consumed the majority of my hobby time recently.
Naval Thunder ROCKCON 2013
When Mike told me about this event I jumped at the opportunity to attend as a player and refresh myself on the rules so I can share it with my newer gaming friends.  In addition, Dan confirmed he would attend so the NTG gang would be back together again.

The Saturday event (Battle of Savo Island) was scheduled to start at 10AM so the three of us met at a local restaurant for breakfast to catch up before heading over to set up.
Initial Set Up
Royal Hobby had secured a vacant store in the plaza they are located in and solicited judges to run various game systems for both days.  On Saturday they also hosted a modeling show/competition.  Not knowing how the day would go I had brought my IJA Bolt Action army along for a possible game.  While showing it to the guys I was encouraged to enter one of my models in the Model show.  I decided on the IJA 105mm howitzer by Warlord as I like how it turned out.
Warlord IJA 105mm Howitzer
Mike's Naval Thunder game started a bit late as it took some time to get things organized and recruit some more gamers.  We ended up having 5 players (3 American and 2 IJN) to start and another two that joined in later when someone had to leave.

IJN Column converges on USN in dead of night
I commanded a portion of the American fleet that included the HMS Canberra, USS Chicago, and two destroyers.  We have run this scenario a few times before as it is a great gun fight which plays to the strengths of Naval thunder.  In the past the taskforce I was commanding has been brutalized early and sunk as it was historically, so I did not expect to be in the game long.  I was joined by a young man (Thomas) along with Dan who commanded the balance of the US cruisers and DDs.
View from USS Chicago
The IJA were comprised of Heavy and light cruisers divided into two groups.  The scenario is a night fight, but the IJN get and advantage of aerial flares which essentially lights up the American ships making it a day action for the first two turns for the Japanese.
HMS Canberra takes damage and is set ablaze
The action started as expected with the IJN targeting my group, but instead of spreading out their fire their inexperience showed and they concentrated fire on the Canberra making it harder to hit due to the additional Splash markers.  They sorted this out by turn two and started to score some hits on Canberra to include removing a main gun turret and starting a fire.
USS Chicago moves up to Cover Canberra withdrawal and torpedoes are in the water.
By turn three I was able to turn away with Canberra and engage with the Chicago.  Chicago was deadly accurate scoring 4 penetrating hits causing massive damage to IJN Chokai while the other US Cruisers and DD moved in and delivered the killing blow.
USS Chicago delivers a crippling blow to Chokai
The IJN essentially split their forces with half engaging Tomas and Dan and the other half going after my command.   By turn 4 torpedoes were in the water along with continued highly accurate American gunnery at close range.  The Canberra had turned back into the fight and delivered a deadly torpedo spread herself.
American DDs go down after delivering their Torpedoes.  Two more IJN cruisers slip below the waves
By the end of turn 5 four IJN cruisers were on the way to the murky bottom at the cost of only 2 American DDs a heavily damaged Canberra and a moderately damaged USS Chicago.
HMS Canberra manages to cross the T and delivers a deadly Torpedo spread
This time the scenario did not produce historical results and produced an overwhelming American victory.  More importantly through all on both sides had a great time.
A casualty comparison tells the story that it was not a good night for the IJN
Kudos to Mike for taking the initiative and running the game.  He was back on Sunday to host the Battle of Java Sea, but I have not heard the report from that as I had other priorities on Sunday.

Java Sea NAVCON 2013
It was great to get back to Naval Thunder after a almost three year hiatus.  Mike, Dan and I definitely have plans to make this happen again much sooner.  By the end of the day there was talk of a combined effort for running at least one Naval Thunder scenario at What Khan this fall which is combining with NAVCON this year.
What is this a blue ribbon?
At the end of the day went to pick up my IJA Howitzer and was pleasantly surprised to learn my entry had placed first in the 1:48 and under military model category, and yes there were more than one entry.  :)
Top three in the category I was entered
All in all a great day of gaming and reconnecting with old friends.  Winning in the model contest which included a nice set of Testor acrylic paint was icing on the cake.
Acrylic paint set courtesy of Testor donation
Thank you Royal Hobby for making this possible.  Happy Anniversary!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Little Wars Best Theme Recognition

I was contacted by the Little Wars event organizer yesterday.  Apparently our AWI games won best theme for 2016 which appropriately was "revolution".

From the site:

Little Wars 2016 Theme Winner - Revolution!

Little Wars 2016 Winner for Best Theme “Revolution” goes to Aaron Filter and Phil Cook for their AWI events (yes, events) entitled Freeman's Farm and Bemis Heights. Both games were 28mm utilizing Black Powder rules. They also ran a Zulu wars games as well. Everyone had a great time playing these games, and they made a nice presentation for an introduction to Black Powder and the American revolution. Congratulations to Aaron and Phil for their efforts, They both will receive FREE admission to Little Wars 2017 and a coveted Blue Ribbon.

Obviously we do this for the enjoyment of the history and games as well as introducing new players to our hobby, but it is always nice to be recognized.

Thank you Little Wars! 

Already looking forward to next year and "Clash of Civilizations!"

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Episode 5 The Northern Front

In case you have not already found it Episode 5 was released on time late last Thursday.  I was on the road, so I am posting this late.

Link to all Episodes:


In this episode we cover the following:

-Review of what we have been up to
 as usual.
-Recap of Little Wars and the events we ran
-Interview with Aaron from Nobel Knight Games
-Our impression of the three Black Powder Supplements we own (Rebellion, Zulu, and Glory Hallelujah).
-Some Bolt Action Discussion including plans for the upcoming campaign
-Upcoming events
-Late Interview with some of the guys from Warlord US about the upcoming event in Oklahoma

Reminder if you prefer iTunes we are also there.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Anglo-Zulu Isandlwana Little Wars 2016

This past weekend we finally had the opportunity to present the long planned Isandlwana scenario at Little Wars HMGS Midwest convention.
British Fores deployed
This was the culmination of the Anglo-Zulu gaming project that I started late last fall with Brian Ward and Phil Cook.  Unfortunately Brian was not able to make it, but Phil and I were able to make this happen.

We set up and played the scenario as our third Black powder game at Little Wars on Saturday afternoon.  Before we even began the game was already a hit as it completely sold out and was actually oversold with many more wanting to play.  Many a passer by stopped to take pictures.

Phil and I collaborated on the scenario using the concept from the Black Powder supplement, "Zulu" and Battle for Empires II (BFE II) scenario by Chris Leach we found online.
Map from BFE II
The concept was to use the cooperative play idea from the Warlord scenario in the "Zulu" supplement with the set-up and deployment from BFE II along with a few historical additions of our own..  In addition to the six British line companies of the 24th foot we also gave the British 2 guns, 2 rocket sections, a unit of cavalry (Dunford) and two units of Native Natal Contingent.

Eight British players were randomly assigned a unit.  The objective for the British players was to stay in the fight as long as possible and ultimately escape from the table.  Players earned 1 point for every turn they survived and an extra point if they made it off the table.  Additionally, players blindly drew another friendly unit and were awarded an extra two points if that unit also made it off the table.  In the end the player with the most points was the overall individual winner.  It was a foregone conclusion that the Zulu would ultimately win the battle.
The set up
The Zulu forces were controlled by the judges as well as a few recruits we pulled from the audience.  In total I believe we had about 15 playing to include Phil and myself controlling Zulu.
Zulu off table ready to deploy

Overall Table with British deployed
Deployment along and in the "Dunga"
Camp and wagon park, note the cattle
"It is just a leg", amputation i progress

Zulu begin to advance
Each Impi contained two spear only units and one armed with some muskets
across the field and through the dunga they came
Brits refuse their flank to face the threat
First contact is made on the British far left as the Zulu rush forward
A unit of NNC become the first to break
The line continues to hold as the Dust Raisers charge in
Guns start to withdraw early to higher ground
British right realizing they are left exposed as the left moved back toward camp
A gap has opened in the line
Hold to the Last!

Zulu press even harder as numbers grow
Isolated company sees an opportunity to flee when the Zulu fail to charge home
Survivors begin to fill the camp as the defense begins to collapse
"Here they come again, pour it on lads!"
Get to the high ground!
Amazingly some order is maintained
The final push is coming
A desperate struggle for survival
The swarm like flies
All hope may be lost
"For God's sake we need more Ammunition!"

As time was about to expire we had to conclude the game on turn eleven.  As judges we probably needed 1-2 more turns to vanquish the red devil invaders, but the players knew the game was up for the British.

At this point only a single  British unit had escaped on turn ten so all remaining players were tied for points with eleven each,  Ah, but wait, a unit had escaped.  The player who had that unit as their co-op was awarded two extra points and declared the winner.  In reality they were all winners as everyone including the judges had a great time.  Black powder had won the day.

Due to the fact that I had just completed the terrain two weeks earlier we did not get a chance to run a full scale play test.  The game worked well, but we already have a few ideas for future improvements.

First, you can never have enough Zulu.  While 21 units continually being recycled seems impressive we could use a few more.  The Zulu attack seemed to stall at times due to poor command rolls and waiting for more troops to recycle.  Already started to solve that issue.
Fresh troops recruited at the vendor area.
Second, the British may have had a few to many extras.  In reality the rocket sections were destroyed early in the battle and could probably be removed from our scenario along with the cavalry.

Third, in order to keep the Zulu pressing higher command values or making them marauders might be a solution.  We could also even create a specail ability for the Zulu to modify the effects of disorder counting it for firing and melee modifiers, but allowing disordered Zulu units to continue to advance so the pressure will remain constant.. 

Overall no one had any complaints and all including spectators and passer by seemed to enjoy the event.  Any tweaks we make for a future attempt will only make it that much better.

Again, thanks to all who played.  We hope you had as much fun playing as we did running it.

Until next time.......