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

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!

A Weekend of Gaming

I’m very happy that I had several great opportunities for gaming during the last days. The opening was two games of Zombicide I had with an old friend from Germany, who stayed for a couple of days at our place. Not only did we have a great time in general, but we also had two very dramatic games, one of which we even managed to win! He enjoyed the game a lot and I hope we will have another opportunity for gaming soon.

On Friday, I went to the club for a game of Kugelhagel. Kugelhagel are German rules for miniature wargames during the 19th century. They have a very active community around here, so naturally I was curious. We played a game set during the ACW, using the impressive collection of Gand-Alf, who also explained the rules. He was a patient and enthusiastic host and we had a great evening.

I’m not completely convinced by the rules: Although I like the activation system (card driven), I find movement a bit too free-wheeling, leading to some strange situations. I guess this irks me more with a period I know a bit about, such as the ACW. But the game is a great option for multi-player club games – I find it more engaging than Black Powder, as I prefer the card driven activation to IGO-UGO.

Yesterday, another friend came to play Sellswords & Spellslingers. He was interested in the character creation process, so we made a small party of adventurers. While I created two equally strong heroes, he decided to take a different approach and made one hero (a barbarian) and three minions (archers with negative traits). We had a great time playing the first scenario and managed to escape from the Orcs. While the archers did very well, the poor barbarian was knocked out pretty soon and had to be dragged to safety by my halfling girl. The shame!

S&S

Finally, today I continued with playtesting scenarios for Sharp Practice. As K. was away, I played against myself. At first, the scenario did not look very interesting – basically, one side has to storm a fieldwork fitted with artillery. The game, however, turned out to be extremely tense and dramatic, which again shows how great a set of rules Sharp Practice is. There are enough decisions to make it interesting and the game flows along in a way that creates a very immersive narrative.

Happy New Year!

2017 was a good year for The Raft. In fact, looking at the statistics, it was the best year ever. Thanks for dropping by and reading, browsing and commenting! It really is very motivating to see that someone else is interested in what I do.

I know that, with the new job and all, my blogging declined a bit towards the end of the year. I hope that I will find more time and inspiration for the blog in 2018!

Looking back at my gaming, 2017 definitely was the year of Sharp Practice. I started tracking my gaming on BoardGameGeek in May and since then, I’ve played 16 games of SP – this is double as much as the next game on my list, Battle Cry! I’ve had the opportunity to teach SP to a couple of new players, but most of my games I played with K. Not only do we both enjoy it very much, we also realised that SP is a game that really profits from being played often – the more experience you have, the easier you remember the rules and the smoother the game runs along, letting you concentrate on decision making, command & control and the narrative.

BGG

I’ve also played quite a lot of new games. Empires in America, The Cousins’ War and Zombicide are my favorites among those, but many others have been enjoyable. I’m also glad that I had the opportunity to play a couple of games of Songs of Blades and Heroes (respectively Flashing Steel) – a game that has been a continuous favorite of mine for several years now.

Thanks to everyone who played games and shared the hobby with me!

For 2018, I’ve got two new projects. One might say that the first is a natural outgrowth of my continuing interest in the American Civil War. I want to extend my collection so as to be able to play regimental-level actions. To give the collecting and painting a focus, I decided to do the Battle of Olustee. It was a rather small affair – three small brigades plus some cavalry and artillery on the Union side, and about the same for the Confederates. Also, it ties in nicely with my interest in the USCT.

OlusteeKAFL
Period illustration of the Battle of Olustee

I’m still pondering about what rules to use. At the moment, I’m leaning towards Pickett’s Charge, but I also consider They Couldn’t Hit An Elephant and Longstreet. At first, I wanted to use Black Powder, as I liked the game we played at the club, but I have since browsed the rules and the ACW supplement and got a bit angry… but more on that some other time.

The second project is to paint a fleet for Man O’War. Recently Stefan, an old pal of mine, has rejoined the hobby, and he kindled the Man O’ War fever – Virago and Sigur also joined in, so what could I do? I’ve now got a Dwarf fleet waiting to be painted…

ManOWarGameCover
Coming back to my gaming table in 2018!

Recently, I’ve also started to enjoy painting single 28mm figures. I’ve painted a couple of the anthropomorphic animals from Oathsworn Miniatures and some characters for our RPG group. This is no real project, as I paint what I fancy, but with the abundance of skirmish rules out there, it won’t be too hard to devise a use for the figures once enough are finished – Songs of Blades and Heroes being, of course, my first choice.

I wish all of you a great and inspiring New Year!