Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Something Different - LotR

Having seen Jenny and I play some Chain of Command recently, my youngest - Katie - asked if we could play some Lord of the Rings games. A superb idea indeed! As we hadn't played for ages I decided to keep it to a simple scrap between Thorin's Company (with some Elves helping out) and a variety of Goblins.

The Company, pursued by angry Goblins, have taken shelter in an abandoned farmstead in the wilderness. Here they are.

Here come the Goblins! Thorin had directed Fili and Kili to set some traps, so Katie was able to set up three hidden traps that would be activated at the end of any Goblin movement phase if they were close enough. She really enjoyed using these!

Having made their way across the table - being shot at by Dwarf bows, a few spells and the traps - the Goblins close in on Thorin and Company. This was also the point at which both sides reinforcements were activated.

Here come the first wave of extra Goblins ... "They have a Cave Troll!"

At this point a certain amount of "Adapative Army List Composition" came in to play. When Katie learned that the second wave would also include a Cave Troll she pointed out (in no uncertain terms) that this was unfair, especially if she then started rolling rubbish dice - so I duly checked my roster and declared "Oh, that's right ... I added up the points incorrectly ... silly me ... just the one Troll it is then" ;-) ;-)

The next two pics show a rather good turn for the Goblins. Both Gandalf and Thorin have been beaten and wounded, Gandalf twice in fact, thus allowing the Goblins in to the farm.


A few turns later and the reinforcements are getting stuck in. In the background is a rather one-sided archery duel, whilst in the middle the Cave Troll (not at all puzzled by the lack of his twin bro) gives Balin a headache. Most of the Misty Mountain Goblins have been slaughtered by Thorin and Dwalin so they advance to meet the Moria Goblins. Although it's worth noting that the Dwarfs were sustaining a number of wounds.

Have mashed Balin to a pulp - I felt slightly bad about this as he's one my favourite Dwarfs in the Company - it's Fili and Bofur's turn next!

The Goblins did a good job of holding off the Elves, killing quite a few in the process. Fili, Bofur and the Elves kept the Troll busy long enough for Thorin and Dwalin to join the fray and decide the issue.

So with the dust settling, it was a hard fought victory to Katie and the Forces of Good!!!! A really good game with plenty of funny and exciting moments. LotR is not a complex game - but that's one of it's great appeals - it's easy to pick up and play.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

CoC Mini-campaign

Many people (well those interested in WW2 history and/or wargaming at least!?) know about the daring raid by the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry to capture the Orne bridges on D-Day. They'll also know about Lord Lovat's Commandos marching, to the sound of Bill Millin's bagpipes, up from Sword beach to reinforce Captain Howard's men in the early afternoon of D-Day. But what happened to the Commandos next?

Well that's the subject for our first Chain of Command mini-campaign.

The action begins in the early morning of June 8th with the men of No 4 Commando stationed along the road between Sallenelles and Amfreville, near the Haugeur Château. Their task, along with the rest of 6th Airborne Division, is to hold the vulnerable Eastern flank of the allied bridgehead in Normandy against any attacks made by the Germans.

Since taking up the position on the evening of the 6th, the men of 4 Commando have been preparing their position for a counter-attack. There has been sporadic shelling and sniper fire from the German positions but no concerted effort to re-capture the ground.

The battles will mostly be fought in the flat farmland to the east of the River Orne, south of Cabourg, amongst the villages of Sallenelles, Amfreville and Bavent.

The Allied Objective is to initially hold the defensive perimeter, and then push on to link up with the forces south of the Merville battery by capturing the hamlet of Gonneville-en-Auge. This will force the Germans back in to the waterlogged ground to the East and further strengthen the bridgehead's left flank.

The German Objective is the capture of Sallenelles and Amfreville, effectively driving the Allies back across the Orne. This would expose the flank of the Para's position around Ranville and the Orne bridges.

The campaign will be structured as follows:-

     1. Outposts (Patrol Scenario)
     2. This depends on the outcome of scenario 1.
         Allied win, Retreat! (Delaying Action Scenario) or German win, Flank Attack.
     3. Main Defences (Attack & Defend Scenario)
     4. Capture Key Objective (Attack on an Objective Scenario)

Game One
Dawn on June the 8th; as the Commandos 'stand to' the sentries spot movement in the trees ahead of them - fleeting glimpses of grey uniforms and camo smocks. Jerry is on the move!

This game used the Patrol scenario with the Commandos getting a 'free' set of entrenchments. They were dug in near the Hauger Château along the line of the Amfreville - Sallenelles road.

We set up our table with a typical Norman farm that would be the centre of the Commando position.

Introducing the Men
We are using the excellent Too Fat Lardies "At The Sharp End" supplement so one of the first things we had to do was roll up the background for our Officers and NCOs. This is superb fun and highly recommended!

Jenny's Commandos
  • Lieutenant Julian Ramsbotham - Eton, Oxford, Foreign Office then the army - a jolly good chap!
  • Senior Sergeant Willikins - A plain speaking giant of a man, and a mechanic from the East End.
  • Sergeant "Ink" Well - An office clerk from Newcastle.
  • Sergeant Fordham - A hefty farmer's son who knows how to fight.
Matt's Panzergrenadiers
  • Leutnant Ulrich Schneider - Hitler Jugend then Heer, a fanatical Nazi.
  • Unteroffizier Koch - A gangling former waiter in Berlin.
  • Unteroffizier Fischer - A farmer's son from Bavaria.
  • Unteroffizier Hoffman - A short but fiery inner city lad from Hamburg.
Doing this definitely adds a certain something to how you view the men in your force. They become so much more 'real'.

The Battlefield
Here's a couple of pictures of the quiet Normandy countryside.

The Commando JOP's are clearly visible behind/near the farm buildings. The German JOP's are either side of the road near the small cottage.

The Action
The Germans began the game as the attackers and took the first phase, bringing on a squad (Koch) behind the stone walls facing the farm complex. With no obvious target they went in to over-watch.

Over to the Commandos ... Jenny's first phase saw her bring on a well entrenched sub-section next to the farmhouse, plus a sniper near the well. Her command roll included a double six so the next phase is the Commandos.

What happened next is almost the stuff of gaming legend! She went on to have a total of SIX consecutive phases!!!! So, on came the 2" mortar to deploy (somewhat inaccurately) plenty of smoke and another sub-section took up position on the other side of the farm house. However, the Sniper seemed more interested in spotting local wildlife than shooting Jerry?!

Needless to say the lone German squad was absolutely shredded - 4 men dead, a wounded NCO, plus seven points of shock. As a game, it was all rather funny really.

Then the Germans got to have another phase. I had to bring on another squad (Fischer) along with a sniper. Alas, their shooting was somewhat less than accurate, so back to the Commandos ...

... and yet more almost legendary dice rolling from Jenny! This time it was a rather more modest FOUR consecutive turns. The remnant of Koch's squad broke and ran for it. The other squad took several casualties and some shock. Thankfully the Commando's sniper continued his survey on behalf of the RSPB.

So after 2 German phases and 10 Commando phases, it was back to the Germans... at this point I really should have withdrawn but a sudden rush of blood to the head saw me continue the fight by bringing on nearly everything I had left; Hoffman's squad and the Leutnant. The Panzershreck team sensibly kept their heads down!

The German shooting was not terribly effective (elite targets, beyond close range and in hard cover) so it was back to the Commandos.

Astonishingly... ;o) ...just the one phase this time. But that was enough to inflict a couple more kills and some shock, including a rather dead Unteroffizier Hoffman. So, in the next phase, I decided to withdraw my forces - this went rather more smoothly.

The result was an overwhelming victory for Commandos - much like the action for real. Only one Commando fell as opposed to eleven dead Germans including an NCO.

By putting this game in to the context of a campaign it becomes part of a wider historical story or narrative which just makes it all so much more meaningful, and jolly good fun too!

Post Game Phase
Well, Lord Lovat was simply delighted to hear the news of Lt. Ramsbotham's sterling leadership. It was a +1 for the CO's opinion. The men were rightly chuffed too, another +1 from them. Only one casualty and that was when Private Perkins fell awkwardly into a patch of nettles.

Alas, Schneider was not so popular back in the officer's mess! The CO took a very dim view at -2, the men were also rather dismayed, -4 (so -1 on Force Morale rolls). The NCO to take Hoffman's place is the newly promoted Unteroffizier Fuchs, but will his men accept him? He starts with just 1 command initiative and a 3" command radius.

The next game will see the retreating Germans trying to stem the Allied advance!