7 Ocak 2018 Pazar

Modern Wargaming with "Force on Force"

Hello people,

Lately, I have started a new adventure, modern wargaming. I have collected some 1/72 US soldiers and insurgent models, built a few middle eastern houses and played my first test games. (Models are from Ceasar Miniatures: US Soldiers, Ceasar Miniatures: Asian Militia and Orion Miniatures: Chechen Rebels) I used Force on Force as ruleset, it's quite fun but a little complex with it's action-reaction mechanic at first glance. But I heard many good comments about the rules. My first impression is good but I still have some questions in my mind. Anyways, here are the photos and stories of my games;

Somewhere in Iraq, during the US occupation period after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein...

The first game is about a 3 fireteam US Marine Squad's mission to capture a target area, the place where two small buildings stand at the left-bottom corner of first picture. There are insurgents nearby and they'll try to stop the Americans. Two insurgent units are in Ambush. There are 13 US soldiers as 3 units against 23 insurgents as 5 units.

In game terms;
D6 Quality: poorly trained troops
D8 Quality: regular soldiers, trained militia
D10 Quality: elite units, veterans
D12 Quality: experts, spec-ops units

D6 Morale: poor morale, reluctant troops
D8 Morale: standard morale, confident troops
D10 Morale: high morale, regular units
D12 Morale: unshaken morale, fanatics

Game 1: Secure Target Area

First game, I used the US models as Marines and gave them values of Troop Quality and Morale: D10/D10. Iraq insurgents were divided in two groups: Fighters with D8/D10 and Jihadists D6/D12. I did not play the insurgents as irregulars.

 Table set up for first game, US soldiers start on right side and their objective is to secure the area at the left-bottom corner where there are two small buildings. (Actually I changed the table on the picture very slightly and re-positioned some units.)

 An insurgent ambush is sprung, one US Marine shot.

Fireteam Delta moves behind the building and takes position to attack the target area. 

 Fireteams Alpha and Bravo engage many insurgents on the main road.

 Delta exchanges shots with insurgents near target area.

 Alpha goes on top of a building to have better field of fire. The fallen man from Bravo is found to be totally OK after a quick first aid check. Each turn, more insurgents go down.

Alpha gives fire support from the roof while Delta prepares to move towards the target. 

Bravo continues the firefight and take off the enemy.

 Alpha and Delta finish off the enemy on target area. Delta is ready to secure the position.

 Alpha then supports the Bravo team. All enemies on the main road are also down.

Delta secures target area. One man down from one of the last insurgent shots of game. 

 End of Turn 6, all enemies down, Marines control the area. Major US victory.

In the end, the game was really dominated by the Marine troop quality of D10. Perhaps for such conditions, US Army soldiers with D8 should be used instead of Marines. The major victory condition of "capture target" was clearly unsuitable. It should be to "move all the US units at target area and keep them in at least 50% strength". This way, scenario may force the US soldiers to move instead of stay in cover and fire.

Game 2: Rescue Surrounded Troops

Allright, onto the next game then. Here, I designed a different table with a very different scenario. There is a 3 man US fireteam near the tower-minaret at the right-bottom corner who are surrounded by insurgents. Two 5 man fireteams on the opposite corner are ordered to reach their destination and relieve them. In this game, I used US Army units with quality/morale value of D8/D10. Insurgent statlines were the same.

Right-bottom corner: Surrounded US soldiers. Top-left corner: Rescue team.

Surrounded US troops, waiting for relief force to reach them.

Fireteams Ranger and Tango, ready to rush for their comrades.

Fireteam Ranger engages successfully the insurgents nearby at first turns, taking down one unit and crippling another.

Fireteam Tango goes for the nearest street, shooting and clearing it's way.

Insurgents close in on the surrounded troops, two man down with Serious Wounds. If relief force is not fast enough, it'll be big trouble for US side.

Tango fights at the street, insurgents trying to stop their advance.

Ranger delayed by a random Fog of War card. They think they're thirsty after a long march and can't move until some refreshment.

Tango on the other hand successfully continues to advance and take down enemy units.

Insurgent fighters shoot down the last member of surrounded US troops. Now it's all a matter of dice to see if they can run and reach them, thus winning the game.

But no, Tango acts first and stops the insurgents trying to reach the fallen soldiers.

Ranger is once more in the action but they need to take down the enemy in order to move.

On last turn, Tango is up for the task again. Under enemy fire, they reach their fallen brothers and perform a first aid check to the last man down. He is also found to be Seriously Wounded.

Ranger moves at last, but it's not very important for the game.

Tango, reporting to HQ that they have reached the wounded soldiers.

Ranger is delayed but thanks to Tango it's no big problem.

End of game, all 3 surrounded soldiers are reached but they are all seriously wounded. A close and minor victory for US side, for no other casualty was given and there are many fallen insurgents.

This game was definitely more entertaining. The reduction of US troop value did great impact on game, making it much difficult for Americans to deal with even Jihadist fanatics. To make things worse, I could have spawned the destroyed insurgent units from some hotspots but even this way, it was not very easy and US side did very good on rolls.

Still, there are things I do not understand, or find logical with the action-reaction mechanic. The rulebook does a very bad job at this, there are not enough examples about complex situations. Still, a good game overall and once I get the mechanics, it'll be more fun.

Now, I'll paint some snipers for both sides, more troops and build more terrain. Then, I'm thinking of buying some vehicles, for start a Humvee for US side and a tactical for insurgents.

Take care until next time...

10 Aralık 2017 Pazar

Hell of a Gaming Week!

Hello everyone,

Two weeks ago, I spent absolutely wonderful time the whole week, played a lot of different games, boardgames, wargames, roleplaying and even attended a tournament. Here, I want to talk about them, maybe even introduce some for you in a few words and get your attention over these games.

I spent the Friday night with Eldritch Horror board game, a game where players strive to save the world from demonic invasion in a Lovecraftian setting. On Sunday, we had perfect fun playing Kiss Me Hardy with 6 players, a Napoleonic naval wargame. Wednesday, I helped my friend Konstantinos to playtest a scenario he designed for Bloody Big Battles, an 19th century wargame that represents, well, bloody big battles! I attended a Flames of War small tournament on Saturday, Early War, kind of a test of our skills for ETC. Lastly, on Sunday, there was a roleplay gameday with more than 15 people, where players tried to secure a village after it's been raided by gnolls on a sword&sorcery setting world.

Guardians of the Earth

Eldritch Horror is a wonderful board game and I just feel sorry that I've never tried it before. It's set on Lovecraftian setting (Cthulhu myth) during 19th century. Players take the role of investigators, traveling around the world, trying to close otherworldly gates where demons spawn and also do tasks that help them stop the apocalypse. Every turn, the world comes closer to total invasion by a great demon. Players need to slow down and eventually stop this process by performing tasks such as collecting gems or banishing demons. The game also has very high roleplay elements, each character has a different set of skills and players can collect items that increase their stats. Performing tasks also require going into an encounter where any skill may be crucial such as diplomacy and wits. Failing these tasks may mean that characters lose insanity, go mad, die and eventually fail to stop the apocalypse.

In our game, the first task was very hard to manage as it required banishing some powerful demons around the gates. Only after our characters collected some items and improved their skills, we could confront the demons and with help from some special skills of the characters, we could take them down. The remaining tasks were fairly easier and we managed them just in time to stop the apocalypse. All in all, thanks to all my friends that introduced me Eldritch Horror and I also recommend any boardgame fan to dive into the adventure.

"All Cannons! Fire!"

During week time, I had a business trip to Istanbul and I also had chance to visit the local gaming club "Karargah". Luckily, our Greek friend Konstantinos was hosting a "Kiss Me, Hardy" game so I just joined in. We played with 6 people, more others occasionally watching and commenting. The scenario was as followed; sometime during early in Napoleonic Wars, a Spanish squadron consisting of two 1st rate warships is on Caribbean Seas and a British squadron of two ships is following them closely. An allied group of one Spanish and three French ships are on their way from Europe to meet the Spanish ships. Another British group of 4 ships are chasing them. The battle takes place near the Caribbean, allied Spanish-French objective is to get together and repel the British ships. British objective is to interrupt the linking of two groups and capture-destroy as many enemy ships as possible. I was commanding 2 British 3rd rate ships on the center.

Start of game, view from British side

In early game, Spanish-French allies tried to move closer. British Caribbean squadron was not effective while others ships, including mine, tried to stop the Allied European squadrons to come near the Spanish warships. I had a lucky shot on a French ship, destroying it's main mast before moving fast towards the Spanish Caribbean squadron. Mid game saw so much cannon fire exchange between ships, my ships were now between the two enemy groups. And in late game, in a dashing move, I boarded the Spanish flagship, my marines fighting all their way to the last deck and eventually capturing the prize. My ships took immense fire over the course from the French ships around but at last the British Caribbean squadron was able to help with engaging the enemy.

My British 3rd rates firing at Spanish squadron

British 3rd rates, boarding the Spanish flagship

In the end, our British side managed to snatch a close victory by capturing the Spanish flagship and no other, in turn letting none of our ship to be destroyed or captured. 11-8 victory for Britain! In your face Bonaparte! All in all a very enjoyable and intense game which really captured all the elements of Napoleonic naval war.

All having fun, the main objective of all games!

The Defense of Constantinople

Konstantinos is also a big fan of BBB (Bloody Big Battles) and a designer of scenarios for this game. He is currently working on finishing his scenarios for Balkan Wars and he asked me to help him playtest the Battle of Chatalja (Çatalca in Turkish; the last line of defense before Constantinople in European side) which I gladly accepted.

scenario map, red stars are Ottoman redoubts and green squares, elements of Bulgarian Army

Historically, the Battle of Chatalja was fought during the First Balkan War. On 1912, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece attacked the Ottomans to push Turks out of Balkans and extend their territory. Bulgaria won some important battles and even captured Edirne. Constantinople itself was now in danger. Bulgarian army assaulted the defensive line of Chatalja and they were at last stopped there, Ottomans thus holding their capital.

Konstantinos designed a wonderfully balanced and challenging scenario. Neither side has easy job, Bulgarians have immense manpower and Turks have very good defensive positions. The game is a Bulgarian victory if they can capture 2 or more redoubts, a draw if they can only capture 1 and an Ottoman victory if no redoubts are in hands of Bulgarians at the end. Historically, the Bulgarian frontal assault failed while a night attack on the flank allowed them to capture a redoubt, but it was later taken by Turks with a counter-attack.

view from Turkish side, front redoubts visible, Bulgarian Army is closing in

I took charge of the defending side. My friend planned a full frontal assault, using all his manpower and all guns, concentrating them on my redoubts one by one. Seeing that he will not attack from the flanks, I ordered all my units holding other positions to move towards the battle zone. As these units moved, I sent my back line units to strengthen the front line. The first day of battle (first 6 turns) saw heavy combat on the front line and one of my redoubts had at last fallen under pressure from the whole Bulgarian army. But in meantime the Bulgarian army lost half of its troops and they had little strength to carry on the assault.

view from Bulgarian side, they advance with massive artillery support fire

It was late at night and I had to leave. My friend finished the last 4 turns the other day. He told me that Bulgarians were able to capture a second redoubt but on last turn, a decisive Turkish counter-attack took it back. The game was thus a draw, which is a very good result for both sides on such an intense battle. Constantinople was secured!

BBB is a very good game, but it is not for everyone. It is so much realistic that you really feel the pressure on your shoulders. This scenario also forces players to think very carefully, plan 2-3 turns ahead. BBB is a game of tough players and Chatalja scenario is for real veterans.

Operation Barbarossa!

In the weekend, we had a small Flames of War tournament in Izmir. This year, some of us plan to go to the ETC tournament in Zagreb so we made a practice tourney, Early War 1650 pts. Four players participated, me playing Soviet Strelkovy. Other armies were: Soviet Tankovy, German Grenadier and British Rifle Company. We had three games and all players fought each other.

my glorious Soviet infantry horde!

My first game was against the fellow Soviet Tankovy player. It was a game where I could lose badly, due to his tanks being much numerous and I just didn't have enough anti-tank power to resist him. But he decided not to attack until last moments and move with caution, which game me time to organise my reserves. It was a close victory for me.

Germans defending the village against the enemy

On second game, I faced the British Rifle Company. (US Riflemen proxied as British) My opponent was a very good player and the game was a free-for-all. He opted to go on to the offensive and indeed he successfully captured one of my flanks. But luckily, a whole new Strelkovy horde came to my help in place of the destroyed one and they were able to secure that flank. Then, I tried a weak offensive with my tanks but they were stopped, so the game was a draw.

amazing miniature carry box of a friend

On last game, we played with another great player with German Infantry. I had to attack, which was a tough job with conscript infantry against veterans. When my own tanks were destroyed, the enemy tanks which arrived early on reserve could easily stop my infantry and I lost the game, thus ending the tourney in 3rd place. I really need to improve my skills in the new edition of Flames of War.

and group photo!

Fight Against the Gnolls

The last activity I'll cover in this post is the RPG gaming day of Kule Sakinleri club in Izmir. There is an ongoing Living RPG campaign, which is set on a sword&sorcery world, where 30+ players take part. Each week, there are at least 5-6 games related to each other and some weekends, when there is a special event, they host all-day game events. That was such an activity; it was about a Gnoll attack on a nearby village, the creatures raided a village and killed and kidnapped many people. As residents of an important town, we, the players, had to form a militia force and respond quickly to that raid. The play-system is good old Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 2nd Edition.

a shot from the gathering before games

We played two games, the first games were about securing the town, killing any remaining Gnolls who still lurk around the place and go after nearby villagers who are still pursued by Gnoll raiding parties. I had a mercenary character and my group at first game successfully rescued a lot of villagers who ran for the hills, killing many Gnolls. But in the meantime, all the groups eventually discovered that Gnolls had a camp on top of that hills and it would be very hard to destroy every single creature.

the campaign map, the region of Raven Plains

In the second game, my group headed for the nearby woods to clear the place of any Gnolls still wondering around. We found some Gnoll scouts which captured a giant spider, we could defeat the spider and some Gnolls, others ran away but we were also heavily wounded. So at the end of the game day, the village and surrounding region was secured and many villagers rescued but Gnoll chieftain was still alive, the camp was still active and it was sure that raidings would not stop. Which is a problem for the regular players of the living campaign.

my character in the campaign, Ellana the mercenary

That is all for now, thank you everyone, stay safe, stay gaming!

22 Aralık 2016 Perşembe

Napoleonic French-Russian 1807 Campaign

June 1807, East Prussia

After the victory at Austerlitz, Napoleon had directed his attention on Russia. The Battle of Eylau in February 1807 had resulted in a stalemate under hard winter conditions. In summer, Napoleon once again assembled his armies and marched to force the Russians out of Prussia. Russian armies under Count Benningsen were ordered to stop the invading French.

Last week we finished a campaign with two other friends playing and me doing the referee job. We used the Clausewitz’s War Napoleonic campaign setting, which was very simple yet detailed and fun. It took about a month. My friends choose to play as French and Russians so we went for a simple campaign; one that evolved around the Battle of Friedland. The French and Russians are roughly at equal strength and it was not hard to get the orders of battle. My friends would use Black Powder ruleset with 10mm miniatures for tabletop games and I decided to give them around 1/3 of real numbers. A unit would be designated as a regiment. They were given separate unit lists and commanders, from which they would form brigades and divisions, also attaching the generals.

Campaign Map

I used a simple, lightly photoshopped map from Google Maps, showing around Königsberg, Eylau and Friedland. (Now called Kaliningrad, Bagrationovsk and Pravdinsk.) The French would be deployed to the west while the Russians would start from north-east. Each player was given a set of victory points and location objectives. French were of course blessed with generals like Napoleon, Ney, Lannes and much more who generally had higher Staff Ratings than Russians. The best generals of the Russian side were Count Benningsen and Prince Bagration.

French Positions after Turn 1

Both players got to see only their units and surroundings. We decided on a time limit of 10 turns, after that we would look and see how it went and have a few more turns if needed. Before each turn, players sent me their orders for the separate formations on map. I then checked to see in secret if there were some organizational problem, then I moved the units on map and sent them the last result. If their units came within fighting distance, I asked them their reactions; attack, defend or withdraw.

Russian Positions after Turn 1

To sum up the armies, the French put a 4 brigade, large force under Napoleon. Ney followed him close with 2 brigades. They were going towards Königsberg. In south, Lannes had 3 brigades and on center, Victor had only 1 brigade. This was a tricy deployment for the French because if Russians caught Lannes or Victor outnumbered, it would take much time for Napoleon and Ney to come for help.

Russians formed bigger brigades with more units in them. Prince Bagration commanded 3 brigades and he went south. Benningsen and Gortchakov had 2 brigades each, initially Benningsen was holding the center while Gortchakov seemed to aim for Königsberg. At first, I thought that Lannes and Victor would indeed be caught by Bagration and Benningsen while Gortchakov would try to delay Napoleon.

First Game

Towards the end of turn 3, Napoleon came close to Gortchakov. Both sides were tired and I expected Gortchakov to fall back and wait for support while Napoleon would not force his men in dark. But no, no one withdrew and we had a game! I implemented some special rules for fighting in darkness and in this game, the French, far outnumbering the Russians, gained a victory. Gortchakov had lost some units but not all was lost.

Photos from the first game

After the Battle, Russian Map

After the first battle, Napoleon waited for Ney to arrive (he was near Königsberg) and Russians under Benningsen fortified their positions while Gortchakov retreated. Now, Russians knew where Napoleon and the most powerful French army were. Prince Bagration tried to move north to assist the other Russian armies fighting but he faced some difficult terrain and slowed down. Napoleon was quick to hit Benningsen, he now had Ney in reserve and attacked the entrenched Russians.

Before Second Game, French Map

French had the numerical advantage again but now their job woud be harder for they would attack fortified infantry. But once again, the great Staff Rating 10 of Napoleon, combined with Pas de Charge of French infantry proved their worth. They hit the Russians and after some charges, forced them back. Benningsen was also retreating and Bagration was at last coming close.

Photos from second game

End of Turn 6, Russian Map

On turn 6, it was the critical moment. Lannes was holding Eylau while Napoleon and Ney were following the retreating Russians. I think, the only chance left for Russians was now a combined attack with three armies, all concentrating on Napoleon. Yes, it would not be an easy battle but with a little luck, Russians could maybe teach a lesson to this French artilleryman who called himself Emperor!

Last Game, we called it Second Battle of Eylau, Russian Map

But no, the Russians did not go for that. Benningsen and Gortchakov decided to retreat more to the east and became separated from Bagration, sealing his fate. Napoleon decided not to follow them. Lannes had been ordered to hold ground the previous turn so in case a combined Russian attack hit Napoleon and Ney, he would not be able to help. But now, it was Bagration who was surrounded. Victor, with his very little force, stood in way to slow him down. But during the game, the reinforcements of Lannes and Napoleon had arrived later, giving the French a decisive victory.

Photos from third game, the fictional Second Battle of Eylau

End of the Campaign

The French armies met Russians nearly on the same place they fought on winter. Napoleon had forced smaller forces of Gortchakov and Benningsen to retreat and then he turned south. Here, Lannes and Victor delayed and fought the largest Russian army under Prince Bagration but with Napoleon encircling him, the Russians had no chance. East Prussia was now under French control. Tzar Alexander had to make peace with Napoleon and for some time, the Emperor turned his attention away from Russia.

I had immense fun doing the referee job. I hope all who read have also enjoyed it. Clausewitz’s War is a very good ruleset for such campaigns and I hope to do that again in future. Thanks for reading, take care!