Archive for the ‘RCW’ Category

Salute NtTii 01

In addition to my duties with the Society of Ancients, WD, The Battlefields Trust, the Art Gallery and my local battlefields at Naseby and Northampton, I am an occasional member of the Ad Hoc wargames group.

Mostly I’ve been involved in the ancient and medieval ones, but this year, for Salute, we revived Nick the Tsar … a rescue romp in revolutionary Russia …

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54mm with custom components.  We played to a full house all day (6 games) … so here’s how it goes …

Salute NtTii 03

There are four players … Russians, foreign agents, men of mystery etc. each with a little team and maybe a vehicle entering Yekaterinburg … and you have to get down the road to the Ipatiev House and rescue the Tsar and his family from special captivity … the future of the Romanovs is in your hands.

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The house is defended, and there are a number of other problems you might encounter.

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… and your exit route is the train that will leave the station at the end of the game (you do not have unlimited time) …

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The ‘search’ mechanism involves grabbing and opening up the ‘Faberge’ eggs (each of which contains the name of one of the Romanovs – so is random as you have very little time to effect the rescue) …

And lots of other nuances to entertain (we hope) both players and audience …

… and they’re off …

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(if you’re really lucky you might get an armoured car)

Salute NtTii 06b

(movement by sickle)

… and you have to fight your way in …

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… Hopefully, if you haven’t already lost your marbles (you’ll have to play the game to get that reference I’m afraid), lots of very important persons will be found …

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By this stage the Reds may well have called up some reinforcements …

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… so you will have to get back to the train pretty quick!

Our game was interrupted by several attempts to rescue the Tsar on another table … but all of them came to a sticky end …

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Tintin and Captain Haddock fail to rescue the Tsar at Salute 2017 …

They failed, you will have to nick the Tsar!

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Christmas Games 2015 04

I may not get a chance to post again before Christmas so seasonal greetings to you all – many thanks for indulging my PBI Candy and here are some pictures from our holiday game the other day …

We were returning to Return to the River Don … and I played a Red commander trying to keep control of the station while the engineers got that train running so we could move it off.

Christmas Games 2015 07(I scratchbuilt the Putilov Garford otherwise all the kit is Peter Pig RCW painted and prepared by Trebian)

The armies were marching to the engagement and major actions broke out across the table .. particularly the woods to the left, the station and a cavalry action in the open spaces …

Christmas Games 2015 05

Christmas Games 2015 06

Red forces deploying off the road around the woodland …

Christmas Games 2015 09

9 on a D12 was good enough to see off the more numerous White cavalry … here fleeing broken from the fight …

After much good natured wargaming, the train was able to get up steam and chugged away from the station.

Fortuitously an unexpected dice avalanche saw the defenders finally succumb just in time to wave goodbye – a positive note to finish on for a White force that had seen no rub of the green .. And who now found themselves pretty much trapped in their own objective following the retreat of their supporting units.

Christmas Games 2015 08

Great game – full of period flavour (and who doesn’t like to see an armoured train on the table?)

Full AAR on Treb’s Wargaming4grownups/Christmas

Merry Christmas ..

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Op14 is an operational style game of WWI and interwar conflicts by Richard Brooks … it uses a grid (each square representing 2 Kms) and playing card activation/control.

Here are some pictures from this week’s game hosted at Trebian’s shedquarters …






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With the Society of Ancients BattleDay and Salute coming in quick succession in this busy Spring, I have had a lot of photo reports to edit.  Although that has slowed down my blogging, it has not stopped the wargaming.    Quite the opposite.

Luckily, locally and at events, in March and April we have played ancients (really, Ancient, Dark Age and Medieval – Armati, DBA and FoG), Marlburian, ACW, RCW, SCW, WWII (PBI and NQM) and Post War (AK47) … to add to the Civil Wars, I have ECW games I am putting on at Naseby and COW (so those toys are also currently out ...) … and Treb is setting up a Science vs Pluck game for the Bank Holiday!

NQM Gazala 1 07(Gazala … great battles in the desert with everyone bundling in)

The Gazala series was great fun, and very thought provoking.   In the desert, Chris Kemp’s free-rolling system was a bit lost – without roads and towns creating a network of distances and locations, it was much harder both for players and the Umpire to keep track of what was where (and when) and which formations could cooperate and combine.   The game needed a clock and a more rigorous ground scale, and confirmed my previous thoughts on using squares to manage the real estate issues.

Although this would potentially give the players more control, it would be a more authentic operational ‘quasi map-based’ control, and it would take lot of pressure off the Umpire.   Otherwise, I think the game demonstrated that what are now quite venerable mechanisms stand up well: the recce rolls, table XII shooting and risk-style close combat all did their jobs well enough.

NQM Gazala 1 08(Free French stubbornly defend the perimeter at Bir Hacheim)

Of course, NQM has always been an event-led system with a certain variability to the bounds … but I think there are ways in which a stricter spatial structure would actually help that more  fluid game turn.   I think squares can also help clarify supply avenues and associated problems.

It is all too easy to allow operational games to degenerate into vast bun fights at the critical point.  Sometimes that would be historically appropriate, but not always.    More anon.

RCW Mar 01a(RCW: White Cavalry pile through a gap between woods and villages in a rush to outflank the Red Army)

We had slipped in another game of Treb’s Return to the River Don … a control heavy game with lots of markers (but fewer than the Perfect Captain, so that’s a relief!),  but a well-honed command system that really has a period flavour.   A game took us two sessions to play, but that is hard to avoid if you want to use a lot of toys and have an alternating activation method (rather than everyone moving simultaneously).

I would like to see this game go to the next stage of evolution.

Meanwhile, on the Home Front, I rejigged the snowy landscape for more PBI.

Snow battle II 02

Richard was bringing up his Easy Company paras, so I replaced the Russian buildings with blown apart European ones (a half-way house to our ‘outskirts of Bastogne’ project).

Ironically, Richard had driven up with all the other toys we needed for a feast of wargaming but left his Band of Brothers behind.   So we kept the new set up, but dropped some veteran Russian paras into it …

Snow battle II 06(Red Army paras: PP figures with some of the heads swapped for tanker helmets which have been trimmed down to flying caps)

I was pleased to oblige as the Soviet paras have been around for while but had yet to be blooded on the table.   I had expected them to be sent up the line in an operational game as emergency blocking troops – but battle is battle,  and tactical combat seemed to suit them fine (rated veteran for the game they were nothing if not stubborn!).

This was a great game also notable for the cork building shells I made up a while back but had not finished.  I thought they might work for this so gave them a very loose spray with grey and while paints, and some snow flock.

Snow battle II 03

You can see it was a rush job, but somehow the abstract look worked very well – I’m never sure if that sort of effect really works in photos.   Cork is a very inexpensive and easy material to work with and is a good alternative to foamcore for some jobs.

Anyway, I drove my Aufklarungstruppen up the road, allowing myself to run into the enemy outposts … then swung support platoons out to the flank, but also tried to force my way up the road …

Snow battle II 04(figures by Peter Pig … Kubelwagen by QRF, truck by Battlefront)

Mimicking the Americans they were standing in for, these Russians were festooned with anti-tank guns and captured Panzerschrecks, and they had been deployed to cover all the approaches.

Snow battle II 05(not a good day on which to drive up in your vehicles)

This is a very heavily armed German unit (MG42s, Sturmgewehrs, SMGs, the lot …), and they are used to being able to blast their way through blockages (as their historical prototypes were expected to do) – but not on this occasion.

Stubborn infantry in buildings or dug in anti tank guns meant I could make no progress anywhere.   And my plan to seize the key positions from which I could converge my fields of fire got nowhere.   So I needed to get lucky.

Snow town 03(a Peter Pig 45mm AT gun tucked away inside one of my cork ruins …)

That didn’t happen, and we chalked up a resounding win to the Americans … err – Russians …  Last time we tried a similar game, Richard was less canny with his use of the terrain, and I was luckier with my firepower.  It wasn’t a very long battle – so turning it round by shrewder deployments was quite a satisfying outcome.   Good on PBI.

And I was very pleased with the new additions to the winter layout – I am inspired to go back and do some tidying up!

Snow town 04

And almost as suddenly, we were playing AK47 again.

The idea came up an we all said yes … there is a second game I will report shortly but here is a taste from our ‘get your toys out’ refresher game (in which we got ourselves back into the swing of the rules)

AK Apr 01(A fine African landscape in Treb’s shedquarters … I have left bodies everywhere, but have parked an armoured car on the main objective)

AK Apr 02(PP figures … a Professional unit with Humvee have dashed to take control of a terrain template …)

AK Apr 03(the kind of resource without which no AK army is ever complete) …

We will return to all of this soon.   We do indeed live in exciting times!

archive red para drop

French North Africa

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54mm Afrika Korps vehicles left smoking in our wake: ‘1942 to Benghazi’

In honour of Sarge’s forthcoming nuptial transition we had a local ‘boys’ games day’ featuring some classics from the Ad Hoc stable.

In addition to ‘Six of the Best’ and a clanking romp in Carpathia (the details of which are thankfully shrouded in mystery …) … it was a joy to see ‘Nick the Tsar’ and ’19:42 to Benghazi’ set out in all their splendour.

They were part of a legendary series of Salute participation games from the noughties, both in 54mm scale and full of wacky detail and quirky humour.

Here are a few shots …

Nick the Tsar: rescue teams moving up on the Ipatiev house …

‘Nick the Tsar’

To rescue the family, the players have to get up to the house, overwhelm the guards and break in …

Nick the Tsar: close up of the firefight at the door …

‘Nick the Tsar’ set the players up as Whites and foreign agents desperately attempting to free the Tsar’s family from captivity and spirit them away to safety.

Just for old time’s sake: the ‘ostriches’ gag …

Once in, any blue marbles can become saved members of the Imperial entourage (blue marbles? … I’ll explain some other time – the combat saves were Russian roulette … the shots were resolved in little glasses …  you get the picture): anyway, for each marble you get to crack open a faberge egg and find out who you saved …

The youngsters help us identify who’s been rescued

’19:42 to Benghazi’

… and the fourth game of the session was the LRDG caper blowing up everything in sight raiding an axis airfield in North Africa.

Equally rich in elegant mechanism and deplorable humour it is just a grandiose ‘drive by‘ in out of control vehicles.  And the environment is splendidly rich in targets …  Dawn is breaking and …

That big Chevvy just blasted past us and left us covered in sand …

… it took out the canteen, spilling the pasta and up-ending the Gulashkanone

… would you like some sand with that? …

… while all attempts to avoid the latrines were beyond the controls available to one of the jeeps …

… ooops! …

… of course all that noise and destruction does wake up the Germans …

… ooops! indeed – time to get the hell out of Dodge …

… well wadi ya know … Achtung Panzer! and all that – it’s off at the perimeter for us and into the desert …

Actually, we took out a watch tower, set the train ablaze, destroyed 2 fuel caches, 4 planes, half a dozen trucks and half tracks plus a Panzer II.   We shot Mussolini’s double and trashed the limo … and lived to tell the tale (well as far as the debrief endgame anyway) …

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Riders on the Don

We were the Whites, and we had to defend our train.

It had ‘broken down’ … but it turned out the engineer wasn’t exactly helping our cause.   More of that ‘wrong sized leaves on the line’ nonsense, I suppose …

The Set Up

This was a Return to the River Don game, and Graham will probably blog it Blood on the Tracks as it featured a whole host of cavalry from both sides rushing to a no hope settlement somewhere in the middle of nowhere to save or seize the apparently immobilized train … and there was some debate about mechanisms.

So I’ve bagged ‘Riders on the Don’ – a good name for the cavalry supplement in due course 🙂

Obviously, it was a fabulous game … It had Red and White cavalry and an Armoured Train.

Now, in truth, I can think of quite a few things wargamers like more than Cavalry and Armoured Trains – Hmmm … but I should stop thinking about them right away as I am trying to update my 20th Century Wargames blog.

Returning to the River Don scenario, yes, it pushed a lot of buttons.

For Martin Goddard … a few more pictures of the train …

The Peter Pig Armoured Train

… in the dawn, with White cavalry squadrons forming up in the distance …

Stuck and Going Nowhere

… and seen from the white horizon.

The Peter Pig Model is based on the BP 35 train (1930s/early GPW), I think.

Following the comment thread here, the great length of the impressive PP train was largely decorative … the piece in play was the artillery car (which Graham allowed to deploy 2 regimental guns and 2 maxims).   Everything else was ignored for all game purposes. It was stuck at the station (a BUA with a footprint roughly the size of the building base) but its armament was fully functioning.

So I think we were dealing with a single train, in scale mustering up something like a battery’s worth of medium gunnery and 2 company stands worth of maxims.  All round, but there was some debate about this.  And about whether it should have been able to shoot through/over the station buildings template.

Of course I think ‘yes’ on all counts – but then I was commanding it (and would give it lots of bonuses anyway, just to reward players for putting them on the table).

However, to follow-up on my recent comments re the strength points of these train units (and I would again emphasise that just as a base of troops might represent more than just the guys on it, so a train model in a game might represent more than a single train – and the typical train unit seems to have been 2 fighting trains + back up) …  I thought I might share with you all the following quote from Wilfried Kopenhagen’s handy guide ‘Armoured Trains of the Soviet Union’

‘ … Armoured trains were first used in larger numbers during the fighting for Tsaritsyn …. in October 1918.   With the help of central fire control, it was possible to manoeuvre the twelve armoured trains with their fifty guns so as to quickly go to the aid of the most threatened sectors … ‘

Well, even I’d assume that was exceptional (did I hear someone say … there’s a game in that … ?) …

We just about hung on … the Red cavalry ejected us from the buildings but we managed to get back in … our own troopers turned up in the nick of time and intervened between us and almost certain butchery at the hands of another Red unit sweeping down from the other end of the battlefield.

Amidst all of this, and just to frustrate the game designer, almost every melee was drawn, even the 19 dice vs 4 dice! (yes, I know) … and that in itself made all the factors, dicing, and saving throws feel like a lot of work.  Too much work …

Some of this is in the mechanisms.  I am reminded of Professor Sabin’s mantra re cavalry in the ancient wargame.  In all his games, they give and receive many more hits than do most infantry … the reason is that cavalry actions, from the Age of Alexander (if you like, to, say, Mars La Tour …) resolve themselves faster than infantry actions.  My guess is that this will prove to be true of the Russian Civil War too (quality issues aside).

At the moment, my impression is that cavalry melee is pretty much the same as infantry melee – so faster, deadlier and more brittle would likely give a better flavour ..

Then again, the joy of it all is that RCW is a period about which I been able to do very little original research, so my thoughts on this are mostly assumptions, analogies and military common sense.  And the last of these, at least, has often proved to be a classic oxymoron.

You learn something all the time in this game.

Graham has updated his blog since the game, so you can read more on this in his post Remaining Civil

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Return to the River Don (RCW)

An enjoyable evening returning to Graham’s Return to the River Don (should that be RTRD Revisited? … as Graham has made some changes …)

Graham wanted to try a dice-moderated initiation and command system to replace the cards that featured in the version that went to COW (see the latest issue of the Nugget, see the COW report here) – the rest of us just wanted to get his RCW collection out again.

We were drawn into a Reds v Whites ‘meeting engagement’ … by the time I turned up, Ian had driven an armoured car almost right through the soldiers I was then given command of …

so ... pinned and disorganised ...

Everyone panicked, but unexpectedly the driver veered off in front of the adjacent battalion, rather than enfilading us as we cowered hopelessly and helplessly on the road.

Given a second chance, we filled it full of a much lead as our boiling maxim guns could deliver, and, indeed, it started rattling and chuntering before rolling to a halt with bits falling off.

and it veered away up there ... deliverance!

Meanwhile, the gun stationed on the hillock tried to join in – but it was no anti-tank gun, that’s for sure

…  But – why … that’s our cavalry, there … Maybe they should get on and charge that Red infantry swarming across the fields in open order …

The Cossack Cavalry

Well … charge they did (or some of them, anyway …), but the reserved fire took down some, and despite getting in amongst the workers with sabre, the Cossacks did not prevail, and voluntarily got bogged down in the kind of scrap no cavalryman would opt for …

And everywhere the Reds pressed forwards …

You get the picture …

I liked the Black Powder-style initiations less than turning the cards, though we learned a fair bit from this run through.  The ‘coercion’ system is excellent, and it has a good period feel.  The damage/morale cards for the Armoured Cars remains a great twist, though, in this game, even I thought the A/Cs were too mobile too often.   The infantry still advance too slowly, and small arms fire is generally ineffective (I concede, I realise this is to accentuate the impact of the maxim guns).

And I am unsure about cavalry vs infantry … if the cavalry are not shot off, shouldn’t the infantry panic?  Is open order better or worse?  I suspect my instincts here are more influenced by Dr Zhivago than by thorough knowledge of the sources, I’m afraid.

Ah well … the personal life is dead in Russia.  History has killed it.

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