Tuesday, 5 September 2017

A Decade of Drivel!

I've just realized that this blog is now just over 10 years old; my first post was dated August 4, 2007. 
Delusions of grandeur are not limited to vertically challenged control freaks with nasty hemorrhoids.   At least I'm tall.
Where the devil does the time go?  Not on painting a huge shed-load of figures, that's for sure.  But looking back there has been progress. 
In 2007, actually gaming anything- let alone 28mm Napoleonics- was a pipe dream.  Ten years on, and...
  • I am enjoying a reasonably regular diet of wargaming, with a great bunch of gaming buddies
  • I have a modest, if growing, collection of painted miniatures, enough to play some quite decent games (in fact I am close to completing an entire IJA force for Bolt Action) 
  • we have found rule sets we are happy with and (almost) never argue over
  • I've even got my own wargaming table now.
The only real downside is that we never seem to game as often as we would like, and there always new rules and periods to tempt us.  But I suspect that's true of most groups even in their best days.

Of course the lead/polymer mountain remains imposingly Andean in size; but sod it, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm a wargaming pack rat.

All told, it's pretty satisfying to be where I am today, and on reflection starting this blog was instrumental in helping me get to this point in no small way.  Had Giovanni here not stumbled across it and sent me an email, we would never have known about each other's existence; and for me at least, my enjoyment of the hobby would be but a pale shadow of what it is now.

Basically, I blog for myself; it's a record of games played, figures painted, and of the fun had in gaming and communicating with like-minded enthusiasts.  It's also an outlet for a bit of written creativity that I wouldn't otherwise get (especially living, as I do, in a non-English speaking country). 

There are way better blogs out there for sure; grander games, more visitors, more impressive painting and terrain, and more regularly updated.  I know this because I bookmark and eagerly devour them, and enjoy reading them all.  

But Serrez les Rangs has always been my own little public corner of the wargaming universe, and I get a lot of pleasure from it.  

To all who are taking the time to read this in an increasingly busy world, and especially to those of you who come here regularly, who have commented, and who provide me with the encouragement to keep at it- a very big "thank you"!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Piccies and Purchases

"Come and get some, Rosbif!!!"
Following up on my last post, as promised, pictures from the second game we played on the day using Black Powder and the OHWG scenarios. 
First though, some retail therapy.  I've been guilty of a deplorable excess of book acquisitions these past few months, and most recently I just "pre-ordered" (is that actually a word?) this; a new Black Powder Napoleonic supplement from Warlord Games.   
A Clash of Eagles looks at the 1812 Russian campaign and beyond.  This one has me really excited.  I've long been waiting for something from Warlord on the 1812-1813 campaigns, which always seem to take a back seat to anything Waterloo and Peninsular.
To be honest I've found the Black Powder and Pike & Shotte supplements rather hit-and-miss so far; some have been great, others somewhat underwhelming.  But given my interest in the theatre, and what with coming in at an impressive 200 pages, I'm fairly certain there will enough meat to keep me satisfied beyond the obligatory potted history.
I'm sure there will be special rules for characters like Kutuzov, Bagration, Ney and others. I will ignore these, as I am not a fan of character rules in my games-  most of the characters the rules have covered so far would be commanding at a level way higher up the command hierarchy than that which most of our games are set. 
The eye candy will be bound to inspire, as it always does, and the special rules, stats and scenarios often give me food for thought.  The tool kit approach taken with Black Powder gives me lots of leverage here- we can use, modify, or reject them as we please.  
I'm looking forward to receiving them. And the Marshal Ney giveaway figure will be duly demoted to colonel, and as such will lead my French skirmish line.

Anyway, here are photos as promised from the second of the two games we played earlier this year using the scenarios from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames rules.  This was based on the 1866 Battle of Langensalza as mentioned in the previous post.
I won't give any details on the scenario- buy the book!  Suffice to say it was fun, challenging, and it ended up a (very marginal) Allied victory, notable for the absolute massacre of French horseflesh before they could even couch their lances.  Memories of our games with Achilles all those years back...

Pretty- pretty useless, that is...
How to destroy a French infantry battalion in line by close-range enfilade fire in 3, 2, 1...
Col. de la Botomie, seeing caution as the mark of a poltroon, orders his French lancer regiment to disdainfully show their flank to Allied artillery across the river.
And then there were none...
"You kids get off my lawn!"
That's all for now- I've another AAR in the works, and some figures coming off the painting table.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Black Powder meets OHWG's (again!)

Some serious catching up to do. Too many fingers in too many pies recently, not to mention way too much time spent at a keyboard than was good for my eyes. Not helped by the fact that Blogger has been temperamental these days.

As I mentioned in my last post, we had another Napoleonic bash at my place. 

We were looking forward to this one, with four of us available this time for a game. And we actually managed to get two games in on the day. The first was a very scaled-down, abstracted version of the Battle of Wavre, 1815. For the second game we chose a scenario that was based on Langensalza, a tactical victory for the Hanoverians over the Prussians(!) during the Austro-Prussian War in 1866.

Both were taken from my now very-well-thumbed copy of Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames, and both proved to be challenging and fun. Huge armies of half a dozen units per side determine the fate of nations; truly, gaming in the (not quite so) Grand Manner. 

As I have often said, it's a stubborn myth that Black Powder- or just Napoleonics in general- only works with large games. Definitely not.

With 28mm miniatures on my 6'x4' table. We found that using the BP rules with the scenarios from OHWG makes for ideal games; having no more than six units a side leaves us with enough space for maneuver.

As before, out of a pool of ten units (4x infantry, 2x skirmishers, 2x artillery, 2x cavalry) each player rolls a dice and then consults a chart to see which six out of the ten will be available. This means that a player might be tasked with taking the village, only to find that two out of the six units are cavalry, which will not be of much use during the game. Or that you find yourself without the desirable artillery.

Fog of war: you fight the battle with the army you have, not the army you would like to have. It's a simple solution, but works well. The only downer is when your newly completed regiment of rifles or hussars is finished and ready to go; only for you to find out that they are too far behind the front lines to catch up, so they won't be seeing the elephant today. But them's the breaks.

Over the last year or so, we have been using the scenarios from Neil's book for quite a few games now, all set in different periods; Napoleonics, World War II, and even a few Viking vs. Saxon games (the only game where we used the actual rules from the book). The scenarios have always managed to provide with some interesting tactical challenges.

Sunday's games were to prove no exception. The table looked good, dice were fickle and non-partisan, and the scenarios themselves proved tense, being close-run things.

Remarkably- and mark this in your calendars, as you're unlikely to see its like again- Matt, "The Redcoat's Redcoat", opted to play the French this time. Which may well be why les bleus managed to win the first scenario, and to put in a very creditable performance in the second. He was taking on the British, led by Sada and Rod.

I actually wasn't engaged in the game myself; after setting up the terrain and scenario, I pretty much restricted myself to the roles of Kibitzer-in-Chief and combat artist. My real responsibility on the day was with the commissariat, as the troops needed to be victualed during the heat of combat (I do a pretty mean toad-in-the-hole).

Here are the (belated) pics, from our (sort-of) Wavre game:

'orrible little men..

A parley?  "Commanders of armies have better things to do than to shoot one another, by God..."
Classic Napoleonics; "Form square!"


This was also the last time that Rod would be joining us for a wargame, as after a number of years in Japan he made the decision to return with his family to Portugal, where his parents are now living.  So what better way to send him off than with the colour and spectacle of a Napoleonic game.

Rod has been a core member of our group since not long after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, so he'll be very much missed. On the other hand, I understand that a few Napoleonic battles may have been fought in Portugal and Spain, so perhaps a visit in the future may be in the offing for a bit of sightseeing.

Keep in touch, Rod!

I've more pictures from the second game that I will try to post in the not-too-distant future. This month, though, will see me painting more of my WW2 IJA.

The West Tokyo Wargamers will be putting on our first Bolt Action tournament on October 1st.  So this coming month it's organizing and sprucing up terrain pieces, as well as putting the finishing touches on my 750 pt. IJA expeditionary force. I'll be trying out my recently-acquired airbrush and compressor, too.

Matt will be there with his Fourteenth Army contingent, most others will be (of course) Germans of various flavours- Wehrmacht, paras, etc.  The Allies may include British Commandos, and French from North Africa or even Dien Bien Phu.

This will be the first time for me to take part in any kind of wargaming tournament.  As someone who has always played BA using an historically-organized Japanese force, against an historical opponent and fighting in suitable terrain- and who much more often than not been used to coming up the winner- I need to go into this with a different mindset.

Namely, I should expect to get royally clobbered.

I can't count on having much jungle to hide in, and I'll be most probably up against the likes of various SMG's and assault rifles, quad 20mm guns, Pz-85's, King Shermans, KV-FlammenChurchills and other assorted hi-tech and/or armoured nastiness. 

There's no hope for my beloved Ha-Go's and Chi-Ha's; Kat food.  Unless I end up finding myself matched against early Yugoslavs or Italians, going "tabi-to-toe" with enemy armour is futile- it would be like taking a Nerf ball to an Uzi fight. 

So I'm not even going to try. First off, there's not a lot anyone can get for 750 points. That means if someone decides to field a Stug-III- let alone an IS-2 or Panther- that's going to eat up a lot of points, and there won't be too much left in the way of infantry.

My plan is then to stay objective-focused, and to make the best of what I've got- lots of fanatical and resilient infantry.

I'll be taking as many infantry as I can squeeze into 750 points, including grenadier squads with light mortars. I'll be laying down smoke, playing aggressively, and trusting in numbers, Seishin and the Banzai! rule. Artillery is my real foe, so I'll have to keep moving.

And with big squads (or a larger number of smaller squads- I need to experiment first), I'll be rolling considerable numbers of dice. In that case, if faced with a better-armed but smaller force, the law of averages may be on my side once the cubes start rolling.

That's the hope. More likely I'll get waxed, big time. 

Which is fine, all the time I go down with panache, and in doing so hopefully give my opponents a few bowel-loosening moments as they experience the blood-curdling Banzai! charge...