Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Falklands - Argentine improvised weapon at Goose Green

This is a quick post of a picture that found of an Argentine improvised weapon that was located at Goose Green.  I had forgotten about it until I was looking up a picture of the Top Malo house for Tony at “Card Models by Tony” (Link) and I relocated it.  I find this amazing myself and will have to scratch build it for my 20mm Argentine conscripts to try (that would be the key word!) to use it against the 2 Para.  


The weapon is a 2.75” rocket pod from a Pucara strike aircraft tied down to a wooden crate.  The crate is mounted on top of children’s slide in the settlement.  The weapon was to be aimed by using the step ladder that is seen in the picture and then to be fired by an electrical charge that was connected to a car battery! 

Cheers,

Joe

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Too Fat Lardies I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum! III – Review & AAR

This AAR blog entry is different than my previous ones in that this was not a ‘proper’ game, but a play test of Too Fat Lardies’ new third edition of “I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum!” with Steve H. (Combat Colours) , Curtis T., and myself.  Both Steve and I have played the previous editions of IABSM, but both of us have not played IABSM for a few years due to various reasons, mainly the lack of my free time and trying Blitzkrieg Commander/Cold War Commander and Force on Force systems instead.  Needless to say, it was like coming back home to a long lost love by using these rules!  I enjoy them greatly!
 
First, both Steve and I bought the IABSM3 bundle, a hard copy and a PDF version of the rules, a pack of cards for game sequence, a pack of tokens, and finally a limited edition 28mm figure of one of Too Fat Lardies’ Big Men characters, Hugh Jarce.  See the Official Too Fat Lardies blog, ‘Lard Island News’ (Link) to see what the cards and markers look like.

The Book / PDF

I really like the quality of the printed book and find it easy to read.  Too Fat Lardies have come a long way since their first printed materials, and I know that they will only improve in the future.   I have become a big fan of PDF’s for the last few of years.  I really like the lack of physical space needed for storage of tomes of books or other printed material.  With PDF’s , I am more willing to make impulse buys on different rules, books, etc. of systems I am not familiar with or periods that I would not be normally be interested in since they take up space on my bookshelves.   The only problem that I have with PDF’s is not been able to use them at games, except if I printed them off before a game. (Note:  Up to now I didn’t have an iPad or E-reader, but I got a Kindle Fire for Xmas so this issue is now moot.)

Cards / Tokens

The cards are huge!  That is not a bad thing, but will take a bit of getting use to shuffling cards that are bigger than traditional playing card size.  Quality is good with a heavy stock and simple, but easy to read writing on them.  The tokens are the only thing that I am not super please with (Sorry, Richard!)  I think that some of them are too small, thin, and fiddly for fat fingers, especially the “wrenches.”  I have not measured them, but they seem smaller then the Litko tokens which I am use to using.  It probably is just me.  Of course, I am planning to use 7mm dice to keep track of shock and kills on my infantry squads…so just ignore my comments on the tokens being too small.

Hugh Jarce

I like the figure!  Great sculpt and casting, but it is in 28mm.  I don’t game WWII in 28mm.  But that has not stopped me from buying 28mm before.   I plan to paint it up and I might use it somehow with the game – maybe a counter to keep track of how many Tea Breaks have occurred. 

The Game Mechanics

As the gaming system is a proprietary item, I will not go into detail of it, but I will explain the rudimentary system of it.  First, this is a game built heavily on the idea of “Friction” in the battlefield as explained in Carl von Clausewitz’s book, On War.  A great article on the theory of friction in war was done by Richard Clarke on his blog. (Link)  Secondly, the system is also built around the idea of “Big Men” or leaders influencing their men to go beyond what would be expected of them in battle.  Finally, the other core element is the cards which randomize the sequence of play.  See the following blog entry by Richard Clarke on the cards. (Link) Just look up some of the other blog entries at “Lard Island News” to see them give AAR’s of their past games to get a better idea of the system as well.  One final note about the system, it encourages gamers to know about the period, tactics, and to have an understanding how to properly Kriegsspiel certain events or conditions that might occur in a game.

Our Play Test

As this was our first IABSM game in a few years, it did move rather slow at spots as we double checked certain things in the book, but once we got a few rounds in, it was all clicking back.  We stuck with the core rules and did not use artillery, engineering, or Aces.

The game was using Steve’s 10mm late war WWII Germans and Soviets from various manufacturers.  He did not have any German infantry, so my 10mm WWII US infantry stands stood in for the Germans.   This specific game was armor heavy, by pretty much all standards and especially IABSM standards.  Steve was Game Mastering it, Curtis T. was running the Soviets, and I was running the Germans.

The Location / Store

We meet at the Wargamer’s Cave in Granite City, Illinois to do the play test.  Great place to deal with.  See the following link for their website (Link)

The Forces

The overall objective of the game was to have the Soviets advance across the board and capture the supply dump on the opposite site of the board and the Germans trying to stop them

They Soviets had two JS-2 tanks, five T-35/76 tanks, six M4 (76) tanks; three platoons of infantry, three platoon ‘Big Men’, one company ‘Big Man’, and four blinds + two dummy blinds.

The Germans had three Tiger I tanks, three Pz IVH tanks, two Marder III SPAT’s, two platoons of infantry, two platoon ‘Big Men’, one company ‘Big Man’, and three blinds + two hidden groups on the board.

Instead of using the blinds as described in the rules, we used the unit’s cards to represent their blinds on the table until proper blinds are made.

The Action

Ok, I did not take notes as this was a play test or a lot of pictures as I did not have a camera and my cell phone does not do good quality pictures.  Plus, I really did not get to debrief Curtis about his actions after the game as I had to leave pretty fast at the end of the play test.  So this AAR is very German player (me) focus and just comments on the pictures instead of the game as a whole as I would normally do.


This is a picture of the part of the store, with Curtis and Steve in it as well.  Most of the board can be seen in the picture.  The Soviets were advancing from the table edge near the lime green tape measure.  One hidden German infantry platoon is entrenched along the road in the wheat fields near the village.  In the village is the second German infantry platoon on a blind.  This picture was taken after some action already had happen.  The two burning markers almost center of the picture at the bottom near the farm complex are my two Marders.  I had them set up in a blind that was partly hidden by the forest.  They both got a couple of shots on the lead JS-2 and did hit it for some minor damage, but they were quickly destroyed before they got another action.  The JS-2s and some tank riders are in the wheat field near the burning Marders. 


Curtis is pointing to the farm complex as his attempt to spot any hidden units.  It was vacant.  This also is a better picture of the burning Marders and JS-2’s.  If you look at the JS-2 unit, you will see a red chit out in front of one of the JS-2’s.  This is a marker to help keep track of what unit that is for players to remember that group is “Armour One” (A1 on the chit) for when cards are drawn.  Behind the other JS-2 is a dark color token that is a “Loss of Action” token that comes with the IABSM3 bundle.   That was being used to represent the one level of shock that I did to that tank from my Marders.  The three “I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum” cards around the group are being used for three Soviet blinds.


This is a better view of the table as a whole.  The German blind of the infantry in the village can be seen in the crossroads and on the far bottom left is the blind for the platoon of PZ IVH.  On the only hill is my remaining German unit hidden, the Tiger I platoon.  I was holding off on firing them until I had the JS-2’s within close range. 




Curtis drove his Shermans down the road without any recon.  Prior to that, the German Blind card came up, so I had all of my blinds / hidden units on over watch, so when Curtis’ tanks drove past me, I started letting loose with Panzerfausts and machine gun fire, from both the hidden infantry in the wheat fields, the infantry in the village that was set up to provide supporting fire with range for their Panzerfausts, and my Pz IVH that where set up on the other side of the board for side shots on armor.  As you can see, it was pretty deadly with taking out three and crippling a fourth of the six tanks and almost eliminating one Soviet squad to the man, but it could have been worst for Curtis.  I decided not to use my Tigers as I was still waiting for the JS-2’s to get closer.



I took these after the game was called, so some of the tokens were already picked up by then.  In the last turn, Curtis could not sort my entrenched infantry out as I keep shooting and hunkering down.  The T-34’s drove around and hit my Pz IVH’s in the flank and killed one and damaged a second.  The JS-2’s never did move, so I elected to open up with my Tigers on the JS-2’s.  I killed one outright with my first shot (hint, it is nice to be shooting down from hill!).  The other JS-2 took the brunt of the remaining Tigers, but I was never able to really damage it.  It had in returned destroyed one of the Tigers.

Overall

The Germans blocked the Soviet advance temporary, but the Soviet would have eventually put enough pressure on both of my flanks that I would have to pull out.  The Soviets lost five tanks and two squads of infantry by the end of the game, which was about a third of his total force.  I lost two tanks and two SPATs, which was half of my armor, but only about a third of my total force.

The game went really good and we all had fun with the system again.  Even though this was a lot of tanks on the table for an IABSM game, it ran very smoothly and we can easily run this much again.  It was really nice to be able to sit down again and to have good discussions on proper tactics, the period in general, and general comradeship as a whole.

I know Steve is going back to his roots of IABSM by painting up 15mm WWII figures again for the 1941 Russia.  Hopefully he will get that running soon again.  I am planning to redo my 10mm Vietnam figures  and start running Too Fat Lardies’ “Charlie Don’t Surf” soon, as well as push for some 20mm Falklands games in 2011 using either IABSM3 for company actions or Too Fat Lardies’, “Troops, Weapons, & Tactics” for platoon actions. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

MILLENNIUMCON 14 AAR Part II: Too Fat Lardies - Charlie Don’t Surf

This was my first game that the convention and the one that I enjoyed the most of the two.  It was called “The Great Rice Hunt” and it is the first scenario from the TFL’s CDS scenario book, “Surf’s Up!”  It was run by Brian Weathersby and I think he did a pretty good job.  There were some rough moments where he was having troubles explaining thing, but he even admits to that on the TFL Yahoo Group, but I didn’t have too much of problem.  I was the one of the three US players and I commanded the 2nd Platoon.  While this was my first game of CDS, I had read the book and played in TFL games before, so I was sort of familiar with the rules and I had done some reading on Vietnam tactics in the past and even coached my follow US players on some tactics since neither were familiar with the rules or period.  However, I really didn’t use any tactics in this game…I was pretty much the proverbial bull in the china shop…but more on that later.  I pretty much know what I was thinking as the game progress, so I can only make comments about what I did and what was easily known on the board.  Also, I started to write this AAR weeks later, so I probably got some things wrong and only remember the highlights for me, sorry if it drifts too much from what really happened.
 
Overall picture of the game board
Originally, I was pushing for a two platoon push from one end of the board and my platoon acting as a blocking force on the opposite end to shoot up fleeing VC. We all agreed on that plan, but then told that we had to come in all on the side table edge, so we changed our plan.  We had four blinds: 3x platoons and one dummy blind.  The dummy blind was our far right flank, then 3rd Platoon, 1st Platoon & CO HQ, and then my 2nd Platoon on the far left flank, which also was large jungle area that I would had to move through.  The center of the village was in front of 3rd Platoon and the idea was that 3rd Platoon would move up through the rice paddies and take up positions to provide cover fire into the center to the village. 1st Platoon and CHQ would start sweeping through the right edge of the village looking for VC caches in the huts.  My platoon would move through the jungle and block the road out of the village between the jungles.  I failed to remember how hard it was to move through jungle, both in real world and in the system.  I also failed to remember that I could have gone into “Indian file” movement which would have sped up my movement rates.  I was barely moving 3” per turn that I moved.

Pretty much on the first turn, both 3rd Platoon & 1st Platoon were spotted by a VC machine gun team and a squad sitting in a trench in the wide open in the middle of the village.  Needless to say, they were notice too!  The CO requested authorization to use artillery right away and it was fast coming too.  

The VC MG trench in the middle of the village is to the upper left corner and my platoon is almost at the top center
A couple of turns passed with the two US platoons and the VC trench position exchanged fired before a second VC trench line with a VC platoon decided to open up on the US 1st Platoon  along the jungle edge that I was still moving through (very slowly, I might add.)  Then the artillery came down on the villagers (luckily none were harmed or that would have been bad for us in Political points!)  Artillery was eventually shifted on top of the trenches in the village.  The US 1st Platoon was really starting to lay down some serious fire on the VC platoon in the second trench line. 

Amazing, all this time and hits, no one was killed.  It was one of the most bloodless war games I have ever seen!  The VC was either not getting hit or only suffering a little shock.  Finally, the VC platoon in the 2nd trench suffered enough shock that they finally broke out of the trench to run away.  I was joking that they finally broke and fled because they knew my platoon would be on top of them soon…maybe in few days at the rate they were moving.  Of course everyone else was joking that this would be one roll that my platoon would finally move fast enough to seized the glory of claiming to have routed the VC platoon.  Wouldn’t you have known it, I did almost maxed out my movement roll, which got me to the jungle edge (finally) and to get one die of firepower shot off into the fleeing VC platoon!  So, yes, my Platoon Leader wrote in the official AAR that he routed the VC platoon.

2nd Platoon sneaking up on the entrenched VC's
2nd Platoon "routing" the VC out of their trenches
 By this point, I was forgetting period tactics and was more interested in getting prisoners to meet one of our Military objectives.  So, while I was waiting for one of my cards come up again, I was seriously debating my actions next.  I figured the VC had a company or only two platoons on board (note: I have not read the CDS scenario book yet, so I am making this estimation on what would be logical for this area of operations).  I knew we had this one platoon beaten and on the run, but they could escape under a “Di Di Mau” card if they got out of line of sight from me, plus I knew part of a weapons platoon was under an artillery barrage in the center of town.  I was fairly certain that there was another VC platoon on the opposite end of the village (note: after the game, the VC player confirmed that I was correct), so that left one platoon that I was not sure where it was located.  I figured that was more to the center of the village and directly opposite of 3rd Platoon.  I was convincing myself to do something that crazy and that was to launch a platoon assault across the opening and mix it with broken VC platoon to try to cripple it more and possibly capture some prisoners, instead of safely firing across the opening with full firepower and possibly only causing shock and driving them into the jungle, out of my line of sight, and possibly losing them for good.  My other option was to have my Weapons Squad occupy the abandon VC trenches and place them on over watch and had 3rd & 2nd squads fire full effect at the VC platoon and had 1st Squad charge across the opening to the jungle edge to keep an eye on the broken platoon if they fled backwards into the jungle.  I finally decided on a platoon assault as I did not want to have only a single squad crossing the opening.  Even when my card came up, I opening admitted that I believed it not to be a good idea, but I just couldn’t bring myself to possibly allow this broken VC platoon to get away.

So, I charged across…and the third VC platoon opened up just off to one side of the broken VC platoon.  Luckily for me, it did not come up on a VC Blind card, otherwise it would have been an Ambush and the amount of damaged suffered would have been worst…there was over 30 dice of damage as it was.  It was pretty bad.  Weapons Squad suffered the worst with 5 killed out of 9 men and 3rd Squad had 3 or 4 killed.  The platoon as whole had a lot of shock damage and suppressed.  Weapons Squad fell back into jungle and I left them there.  For the next few turns, both my LT and Plt SGT, along with the Medic, worked to get the shock off my squads, while they hunkered down in the opening.  

The effects of 30+ dice of damage
Once I was able to get 1st Squad down to a manageable level of shock, my LT decided he was going to give it one more “go” now that the nearby 3rd VC platoon was under artillery fire.  He order the LAW to used on a VC bunker that was seen in the opposite jungle line…and it missed.  Not to be deterred, my LT yells, “First Squad, follow me!  I am bullet-proof!” (note: quite literary, the LT had to roll three different times to see if he was hit when some of his men were killed in platoon, all three times I rolled a 10 on a d10!)  I overrun the bunker where both the VC commander and commissar were still hiding out and gunned them down (I really was trying to get prisoners, darn it) and shot up one the VC squads from the broken platoon.  I suffered one kill to 1st Squad.  And the next card was “Critical Wounded”…Yea!  Private Franklin might still live!  It was beautiful drawing of cards next was my NCO to pop smoke for the Medevac, then the Medic card came up so I could move him up and stabilize Private Franklin until the Medevac arrived.  That was pretty much when the game was called.

"First Squad, follow me! I am bullet-proof!"
Overrunning a VC bunker
Calling for a "Dust Off"
 My platoon was the only one to suffer casualties among the US players.  I believe all together, I lost 11 men and 1 critically wounded out of my 42. Yes, that is unacceptable, but I was also the most aggressive platoon and after the initial hit, I only suffered a couple of killed.  By being aggressive, I forced a whole VC platoon to disperse and prevented the other VC platoon to carry off their dead.  In the end, the US didn’t do so great on our Military Objectives with only meeting the secondary Military Objective of locating the cache of rice.  But even with all of my casualties, the VC’s were not able to meet their secondary Military Objective which was to inflict a certain percentage of casualties on the US forces.  Politically, the VC’s again did poorly, even with all of my casualties again!  Yep, I the US won a minor Political victory too.  So overall, this was a US win, a minor, insignificant one, but still a win.

At the end of the game, as I was voted the winner for the event’s prize of a 10 GBP gift reward for Too Fat Lardies products!  Hoo-Ha!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

MILLENNIUMCON 14 AAR Pt I - General Info & Force on Force: Africa

While I am working in Texas, I got a weekend off where I was not able to go home, but fell on the same weekend as Millenniumcon in Austin, TX. As I was about a 2 hour drive away, I went up there for one day. While I was there, I was able to get into two games (Force on Force Africa & Charlie Don’t Surf), which is a lot for me lately. What I am going to do is break this entry into three different parts: a review of the convention as a whole; a review of one game; and finally a review of the other game.

The Convention



All in all, it is not a bad little gaming convention. It is not a huge national gaming convention like GenCon or Origins, but a nice size for a regional convention which I quite honestly prefer over the large national cons due to the smaller crowds and lack of big ego and openly public mudslinging/poo-pooing that taints the HMGS-East conventions (I have been both a HMGS-E Cold War & Fall-In cons and can easily say that the smaller regional cons blow both of them away pretty much in all aspects.)

It was held a nice looking hotel that had a small convention building attached to it. There was a bar/restaurant there, but I did not eat there. The only thing that I would like to have seen was some more places to eat within walking distance. The gaming areas were nice and located in several rooms with the dealers located in the largest room along the gaming. While there were not a huge number of dealers, there were more than some other regional cons that I have been to. They had a flea market set up for Sunday morning only, which I was not able to attend, so I can’t comment on the number of sellers then. There were some nice looking games tables and some pretty figures. I didn’t get many pictures of any of this due to me being more interested in playing in games and the fact that I forgot my camera, so I had to use my camera phone which does not take the best of pictures.

The Convention Hall with Dealer's Area

One of the nicest look table boards

Force on Force: Africa


OK, this actually my second game for the day, but I am going to talk about it now. The guy running the game is one of the authors of the upcoming Force on Force: Africa supplement book. We talked a little bit about various books and information on the post-WWII African wars. I am not going to claim that I am expert on African conflicts, but years ago I was in hot and heavy on researching the Congo conflicts, Rhodesia, South Africa, plus Liberia & the Ivory Coast long before those last two conflicts where of any real interested over here in the US. I actually was able to start reading French, even though I never had been properly taught, because I was reading French magazines/news articles and was able to figure out enough by just knowing what the articles were about.) I always found the conflicts very interesting and brutal…humanity at its worst. Anyway, I have my opinions on this setting with these rules, but I will hold off expressing them depending on how the final book looks…especially the section on the Belgian Para-Commandos for the Congo.
As for the game, it was called “Bronze Cross of Rhodesia: Operation Snoopy”. In the scenario, platoon of Rhodesian Light Infantry has to ambush a Mozambique army armored column of a platoon of infantry riding in BTR-40’s and a T-55 tank. The RLI was to hit hard, stop the column and escape from the board. The Mozambique army was to exit their armor off the board and try to keep the RLI from escaping the board for at least 10 (or something like that) turns. The game went badly for the RLI. Mostly it was due to really bad dice rolls, I felt sorry for the one RLI player whose dice rolls were as bad as someone I know back home! (You know who you are!) He shot my BTR-40 several times with an RPG and only slightly damaged it once, still allowing me to escape off the board with it. He also rolled a lot of “1’s” for his reactions and was getting hammered with bad luck cards. But, I also believe that the RLI players lost the objective of their mission and got too tunnel visioned with shooting up Mozambique troops that they didn’t try to break contact and run away to set up another ambush site. Of course, they couldn’t do that after a while as too many of their men were getting hit and were rolled as serious wounded. In the end, the Mozambique army was bloodied with probably 50% wounded or dead infantry and a knocked out T-55 blocking the only vehicle ford at the stream. But every RLI was killed as the remaining Mozambique troops shot all of the wounded before turn 10.
In review of the game, it was way too bloody and both the Mozambique and RLI where too much like supermen for morale as they were being massacred and didn’t run. At one point, half of my squad of Mozambique troops jumped out of a moving BTR-40 because they failed a morale roll from small arms fire…I have a problem with that. If it was from a RPG hit or the BTR was still, I could see them jumping out. Instead, I believe that they would have hidden gone “to ground” inside the BTR.


Pushing on without my vehicle-leaping infantry

Friday, December 9, 2011

Upcoming blog entries!

Well, I will hopefully have some time to type up a couple of AAR's for a few games that I got in lately soon.  I got to go to MILLENNIUMCON 14, in the Austin, TX, area back in the middle of November and got into two games.  I just never got round to typing anything up due to work and not being in the best of moods.  This Sunday, I will be trying out a game of "I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! III", as we will be giving the new rules a stab and seeing how things go.  I probably will not get that AAR up for another week or two after Sunday. 
So, what has been going on in my life?  Well, I have been setting everything in my personal life aside for work...especially the current project that I am working on.  It is draining my time, energy, and mojo to really carry on.  I have tried to work on my 15mm ACW figures, but with the exception of working all day on Thanksgiving on them, I have done nothing to accomplish anything miniature wise.  I really only find time to read and have finished off several books since my last on-line book review.  I really don't even have time to type up those any more!  I finished several books on the Battle of Wilson's Creek, 1861, and currently reading books on the Falkland's War, 1982. 


I have found many good stuff to add to my ever growing 20mm "Anarchy in the UK" project and the Falklands, but just don't have to time to put everything together.  I really need to push more to do this and get it going. 


Also, I  am really trying to suppress my inner "bomb thrower" personality (you guys that know me, know exactly what I mean!), but I am finding it harder and harder as I find some modern looking rioters in 28mm to lead into fighting against "The Man."  I might start looking at picking up on some riot games in the future (darn that Offensive Miniatures for making their miniatures too beautiful! Link)  I can't afford to get into another project! 


Anyways,  I am going to start working on my MILLENNIUMCON 14 AAR blog entry.  Hopefully, I will get it done sometime this weekend.


Cheers...and crush the Establishment (stupid rioters miniatures...must have them.)