Wargaming Article Published

The recent issue of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy magazine contains a special feature on raiding actions during the American Civil War. One of the article was penned by me!

cover

It’s on a subject I’ve been interested in for a long time, namely the Combahee River Raid. I’ve written a three-part scenario for Sharp Practice, which can be played as a series of successive games or parallel on a club evening.

article

Guy Bowers did a great job with the graphic design and the article is illustrated with very nice pictures of 28mm figures. Those, however, are not from my collection, as my photographic skills are not up to producing publishable images – something I really should work on.

So, here are some images from our playtesting:

I have to say that I’m a bit proud to have published something in what is, in my opinion, the best wargaming magazine around. Guy Bowers is always interested in things off the beaten path and the magazine really puts gaming into the foreground. If you are interested in the ACW, check out this issue – it has a number of fascinating articles and great ideas for scenarios!

Advertisements

First Game of What a Tanker!

Last Friday, I could persuade Sigur and Stephan to set up a game of the new Lardies extravangaza, What a Tanker!, at the local club. They had both played the game a couple of days before, but unfortunately I didn’t have time then, so I was very grateful that they indulged me and played again.

We set up a desert table with rather eclectic terrain. It looked like the set for a cheap 60s B-movie, but that fits rather well with the aesthetics of the rulebook. Incidentally, the cover is a work of art. It’s fun and irreverent and pours scorn on the Nazi kitsch that pervades some WW2 games.

wat-e1521642619765

We played with Sigur’s 15mm tanks and as he only had British and Italian, Stephan and I took an Italian tank each and Sigur got two British ones. I can’t remember which – I’m lucky if I can tell a tank apart from a bicycle.

pic1

The game is easy to understand – it’s the simplest Lardies game I’ve ever played – and flows along at a nice pace. The dice activation mechanics is great, there is friction but as long as your vehicle is undamaged you have a lot of dice, so the chances are good you can do stuff. While I fumbled around a bit, Stephan proved to be an old tanker and smashed the British vehicles. In the end, I think I got the hang of it and could contribute to the Italian victory.

I really like the game. Playing it felt strangely relaxing. Perhaps that’s because I’m not really invested in the period or the vehicles (in contrast, after a game of Sharp Practice, I usually feel pretty exhausted). Perhaps it was because we played with early war tanks – I’ve heard that late war fights are faster and much more dangerous. One thing that certain contributed to my mellow mood was playing with two congenial chums. What a Tanker! works really well as a multi-player game, the turns being fast enough to keep downtime short but still long enough to have fun watching the others manoeuvre and shoot.

I don’t see myself buying tanks, but Sigur and Virago and the others have enough anyway, and I’d certainly be happy to play it again. It’s a great little game for a fun evening with mates.

Gettysburg Battle Day

Some time ago, I proposed a Gettysburg Battle Day to the local wargaming community. Inspired by the yearly Battle Day of the Society of Ancients, the idea was to present different games, all of which dealt in one way or another with the Battle of Gettysburg. The aim was to get different perspectives on the battle, not only from the time and area chosen for the scenario, but also from the different rule sets.

To my great joy, many people were interested in participating, so yesterday a bunch of wargamers assembled at the club for the event. When I arrived (a bit late, admittedly, as I had to finish some stuff for my scenario – I was late with preparations this time), the games were already in full swing.

Virago and Sigur had prepared a Longstreet scenario dealing with the arrival of Howard’s XI Corps on the first day of the battle. Following historical events, the game ended with a Confederate victory.

The guys from Tabletop Wien West had three games running. Their main game used Kugelhagel for a scenario dealing with the fighting at Culp’s Hill. As always, they had a very busy table with a lively crowd.

Additionally, they had a Kugelhagel solo game and a game of Battlecry set up.

Nikfu and James had set up a game of Pickett’s Charge, a set of rules that I’m very interested in.

I had prepared a scenario for the skirmishing around Bliss Farm, using Sharp Practice. At the beginning, the farm buildings were occupied by Stephan’s Confederate skirmishers. I managed to drive them out, but the Rebel reinforcements arrived before I could consolidate my position and after a brief struggle, they retook the barn, at which point my Force Morale collapsed.

Finally, a group of people around Helim and Slowik had a game of Altar of Freedom using 6mm figures. They portrayed the whole battle on one 6’x4′ table and it looked spectacular! I fell completely in love with those figures and the way they were presented. This is how a big battle should look like, with mass formations and enough space for manoeuvring. Another great thing about this set-up was that it tied together the other games – you could identify on this table the spots the other games depicted.

I’m happy that the Gettysburg Battle Day was a huge success. Everybody was enthusiastic and all had invested considerable time and effort in their games. For me, it was great to meet friends, to play an exciting game of Sharp Practice and to see other perspectives on the battle. But most of all, it was a very inspiring day which gave me many ideas about how to develop my ACW gaming.

Ambush! – A Sharp Practice AAR

In the latest issue of Wargames Illustrated (#365), there is a rules- and period-agnostic ambush scenario by Mike Bradford. It sounded fun and like it would work well with Sharp Practice, so K. and I set up a quick game.

We imagined our skirmish taking place very early in the war, with untrained troops bumping into each other at an important crossroads. Both sides had troops from the early force lists, with the Confederates fielding one unit of Zouaves and both sides having cavalry as reinforcements.

The game started with my skirmishers rushing towards the hill (which was one of the objectives) while K. marched her column along the road.

1

My skirmishers took some pot shots at the Rebels and even hit some, but my main aim was to secure the hill before K.’s skirmishers came in.

2

In their zeal, K.’s column had marched quite far ahead. When my infantry suddenly turned up, they immediately formed line and delivered a volley, giving quite a shock to the Rebels.

3

At the same time, K.’s Zouaves rushed forward and charged right at my skirmishers on the hill. They tried to evade but were caught. However, in the following melee, they had luck and got off cheaply, with both sides falling back without taking too many casualties.

4

And then came the time when the trap was sprung! Out of nowhere, my cavalry appeared and charged right at the Confederate column. I was lucky and had four command cards after they deployed, so I immediately activated them again, hoping to give the already shaken Rebels the rest. Alas! Things did not go as intended. The Rebels stood firm and gave my troopers quite a licking. They broke, skedaddled and never were seen again. What a blow to the Union Force Morale!

The Rebels decided they had seen enough, turned about-face and marched off, blatantly ignoring my line, which was firing wildly without doing much damage.

7

Deftly, K. brought her Zouaves around to screen her retreat, while I couldn’t get my shooting troops under control in time to chase her. I got off one or two volleys, but couldn’t stop her from bringing her boys out safely.

8

The Rebels had evaded the ambush and won a victory!

What a fun little game this was! It was surprisingly quick for a game of Sharp Practice (we played for around an hour), but full of unexpected turns. In this scenario, you don’t know beforehand who will get reinforcements and therefore who will be the ambushing player, which contributes greatly to making it interesting. Also, the victory conditions change for the ambushed player, as bringing at least half of their troops out will also achieve a victory – an option K. chose to take.

The game also had a decidedly early war feeling to it, with undisciplined and half-trained troops all around, the cocky Confederates marching a bit too far forward and the impetuous Union cavalry botching the ambush by recklessly charging the column. Of course, this was my main tactical mistake – I would have badly needed the cavalry for the pursuit of K.’s retreating troops. I was sure I could beat the already shaken Rebels, even if I know that ACW cavalry is not made for shock tactics. I dearly hope that I have finally learned my lesson!