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Archive for May, 2011

Barbed Wire

I’ve added a quick look at some handy Barbed Wire I picked up at Partizan on the review page

(P.B.Eye-Candy Reviews)

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We haven’t played a proper game of NQM for ages, so we happily trooped off to Chris Kemp’s when he invited us over for the evening.

An interesting circumstance meant Chris had set the table up in a position with limited access, so we played the tactical part of the game away from the table, making decisions and rolling dice between us … relaying the answers, numbers and results to Chris, who was updating the table and moving the figures.  Periodically we got to go up to the table and see what had happened.  A very interesting way to play the game.

Central part of the table: German forces around Moscow

Marking a return to the long-running Barbarossa campaign, the scenario found us at Moscow in early 1942, following Germany’s successful taking of the city in a winter offensive.  We started out with maps and plans, identifying where the new initiatives would focus and setting corps level objectives.

The table depicts Moscow and suburbs, with a variable amount of the open areas around the city.  For the game, NQM has reverted to the earlier scale of a base representing a ‘one or two companies’ sized formation, but where each Brigade represents a division.  Roughly.  So the board is very tightly packed with troops.

As a German player, and determined to keep the capital, I was nevertheless frustrated that the Soviet Union had not collapsed.   We absolutely must keep up the pressure and find the vital brick to punch out that will cause the whole house to fall down.  Our intelligence seemed to indicate the junction of two Soviet fronts just South East of Podolsk, and I want  the bulk of my armour and mechanised forced to find and cut through that junction.

East of Moscow (massed Red Cavalry and Artillery hold the front line)

However, there is clearly substantial Soviet armour massing to the north of the front line, and I need us not to be caught unprepared in this sector.

The number of different unit designations of which I was becoming aware (coupled with the Umpire’s determinedly vague use of casual descriptions … ‘some tanks’ … ‘a division or so’ … ‘more than one formation’ .. etc. you know the sort of half-informative stuff) convinced me this would turn out to be a Tank Army, and a typically Russian ploy to scythe into the rear and cut off our forces in Moscow.

So, in addition to the main offensive south of the city, I ordered some considerable ‘heavy probing’ in the north in the hoping of forcing the tank formations to show their hand.  This job had to be done by infantry units – but stubborn ones, and lots of them..

'Manner gegen Panzer': dig in, roll high and pass your break test!

This turned out to be a very important move as those Soviets formations fulfilled all my worst expectations.  Fortunately the troops proved very effective at the unequal struggle (both in their rolling for hits on Table XII and their break tests and tank terror).   The tankers, on the other hand, proved less disciplined and several of the victorious units drove on towards West Moscow leaving unbroken Germans and their own support formations behind.   In time, I still think this sector will crumble, but much of the sting has been taken out of the counter offensive and a lot of time has been bought.

'Schwerpunkt': German spearhead punches through the Red Army

Meanwhile, to the South East, things were going very well.  In a series of  massed rolling assaults, lighter Soviet formations were pushed aside, and a sizable formation of obsolete armour was driven back … ‘Push on!  Push on!’  were my orders as I hoped to keep the enemy on the back foot.  Actually, I think this will work as the Russians are significantly disrupted, and there are reserve formations that can be fed into the deepening corridor.   At the sharp end, the thrust is still doing significant damage and must surely turn decisive soon.

The red pins are current (unreorganised) hits - the black are permanent ..

As those comments betray, with the action swinging favourably towards the Germans, we had to break off and wrap up the evening.

Movement, I sure, was the traditional ‘whatever Chris thinks appropriate’*; recce followed the established ‘3 dice’ method (us/them/what range?).   Firefights were still being resolved by Table XII (and its sliding H/M/L hits matrix), assaults with modified ‘risk’ dice.

It seemed to me (rolling the dice and getting the updates away from the table), that Chris was also factoring a fair amount of firepower into the rolling assaults (sort of meshing the two).   I can’t say for sure – however I always thought the one weakness of the risk dice was that it gave a similar level of damage however big or small the assault (and running assault and firefights together may have solved this scale inconsistency) …

More from the Moscow Front

Hopefully the railheads and airfields will now flood with material and reinforcements.  We have the enemy at out mercy.

Hopefully we will have more to report from this operation.

*NQM has always used a ‘variable length bound’ approach that moves the play on swiftly to the next significant action – however, one look at the table will show this theatre so crammed with formation that there was little scope for wide sweeping moves of dozens of kilometers at a time.

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Publicity Candy

If I was a bit younger and a bit hipper, I would probably recognise The Stylish Blogger award as viral publicity.   And it’s been popping up around the blogs I do read, recently …  Most of the leads it generates are very good, so you can imagine my surprise when P.B.Eye-Candy got nominated too …

Many thanks to Bob (Wargaming Miscellany), Tim (Megablitz and More) and Treb (Wargaming4Grownups) for their nominations.  Apologies for the delay, but I will join in the fun and try to do my bit …

I’m following Tim’s formula for spreading the word.   Sort of …

So … thanks as above to those who have nominated me.

A bit more about me:  1/.  I started wargaming when I was 9 and a friend discovered ‘Charge!’ at the local library;  2/.  I joined the Society of Ancients when I was 14 in 1973 (we now don’t allow ‘under 16s’ for Child Protection Legislation reasons: I would have hated to have been turned away as a precocious teenage wargamer so I don’t really call this progress!);  3/.  My first transport was a 250cc motorcycle (which I didn’t always manage to stay on!);  4/.  I still like Prog Rock (bring your own CD if I’m giving you a lift and you don’t);  5/.  The definition ‘Prog Rock’ includes Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd – so there’s no-one alive who doesn’t like Prog Rock (not a point about me, but probably worth saying); 6/.  I specialised in Military History, then shifted to The History of Art (a combination some find odd); 7/.  But then as I’ve made my money running a factory that makes Construction Materials the point is academic (but if you want an Art Historian with a Fork Lift Truck licence, you know where to come!); 8/.  I’m a Liberal (but not the wishy-washy type that won’t fight for other people’s freedom);

Again, I’m a Liberal so I’m already wondering why you’d want to know all this

Now the useful bit …  Here are the blogs I want to nominate as stylish bloggers

Will’s Wargames Blog (a great place to keep up with 20mm plastics – especially WW2 … Will has everything, and usually paints it, too!)

Caliban-somewhen (well informed historical wargames from Paul in Glasgow)

Big Red Bat Cave (ancient 28s from a master, well illustrated)

Wargaming Miscellany (from the trials of life to complete wargames rules sets, the Wargaming Miscellany has everything)

Big Lee’s Miniature Adventures (best photographer on the wargames circuit, it’s always worth seeing what Lee has been up up to)

Tim’s Megablitz and More (the title says it all, in addition to the more, Tim’s Megablitz unit galleries are a great inspiration to the Operational Wargamer)

Olicanalad’s Games (James Roach’s beautifully illustrated how to do it and what I’m doing blog)

Wargaming For Grown-Ups (Work, wargames and mowing the lawn from an imaginative and prolific games designer – more than half the 20th century wargames I play come from Trebian’s stable …)..

Whilst we’re doing lists, here are some other blogs I visit: La Journee (High Medieval), Saxon Dog (more top notch figure stuff), Je L’Ay Emprins (Simon Chick’s occasional insights), Planet Ancients (of course), Mr Farrow 2U (copious DBA material), Across the Table (reports from NZ), Battle Game of the Month (I often find something interesting, here).  Of course, the essential blogs for earlier periods have to be mine … the persistent  Ancients on the Move and the occasional ECW Battles in Miniature.  You know it makes sense.

Well this blog is called P.B.Eye-Candy, so I can’t really finish without adding a bit of gratuitous candy from one of me nominees …

We had another go at the SCW rules over at Graham’s on Saturday … the Republicans forced home their attack on an Olive Grove …

Spanish Civil War action from Wargaming for Grown-Ups

In this case, the attack was beaten off, in part due to the stone walls of the olive grove.   But the process felt authentic, and there was interest in the narrative as it developed.   The leading mechanism is original, so watch out for more …

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