I have been fully vaccinated since mid-May, and the two and a half months since then have been pretty good for gaming. HAWKs meetings have started up, my son has been up for a visit with his DBA armies, the monthly skirmish campaign has arrived, and I’ve gotten in a couple of solo and remote games as a bonus, a total of 12 games in 10 weeks. A HAWKs sub-group also started a D&D 5th edition game this weekend, and therein hangs a tale.
Sunday, August 1, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021
We are currently enjoying what I suspect may turn out to be a respite between pandemic waves here, so while my vaccine remains effective, it has been time to do some face to face gaming. As I noted a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to get the NQSYW on the table at a HAWKs meeting (back on the 16th), so I figured that “With MacDuff to the Frontier” would be a better fit for table size and time available than Charge!.
On the day of the game, I had a look through C.S. Grant’s Scenarios for Wargames, looking for something that would be suitable for the expected limited number of players, and ended up deciding to use Scenario #4, Holding Action (2), which I had never tried before.
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Ross Macfarlane recently noted, regarding last week’s “Encounter at Steinbruecke”, that small games with big figures had become his preferred gaming style somewhere along the way. While I don’t want to lose the ability to occasionally maneuver with 60-man Charge! regiments, it is a fact that home games going forward are either going to be on my 3x5 gaming table, as last week, or on a 4x6 temporary table in the library, as with the “Pass at Gelbehuegul” last summer:
In either case, the games will be more fluid and interesting if the unit sizes are smaller (e.g. the twelve man infantry units and six man cavalry units used in A Gentleman’s War), which gives the opportunity to deploy five or six units across the wide side of the table and still have some open space to either flank.
My Charge! infantry units are generally built from a single pose of Prince August castings (or two poses for the “firing line” units) plus command figures. A full foot regiment includes 48 musketeers, and three each of the various command figures. So, I am considering, among other things, whether it would make sense to paint a few extra officers so that I could get a nice uniform look among the four derivative units each regiment could form. On the other hand, I had long considered using a different pose for each of the companies in future Charge! regiments to make it easier to track companies on the table where desirable, and that would limit “pleasantly visual” deployment to three derivative units per regiment rather than four. It’s been a few years since I painted a new infantry unit (hmmm….2012), perhaps because there are already enough units to more than fill the table. So I am also considering whether it would be more fun and interesting to paint a few units designed to be twelve figures from the start, since motivation to paint 12 rather than 19 might be easier to find, and it’s likely that is how they are going to be deployed anyway.
To assist in considering this, I dug out the actual partially painted stock yesterday, as well as the box of partially unit-organized castings. I have notes from last year, after a couple of games of A Gentleman’s War, which show that I was considering adding a couple of additional generals, and it looks like I got as far as priming some extra command figures on at least one occasion. Since primed figures on sticks have a sad tendency to be set aside for years at a time, I should really get in the habit of writing some notes about my intentions on the bottoms of the sticks, so that I can figure out later what I was thinking …
The other thing I noticed about the NQSYW, as I was looking through old blog posts for inspiration, is that the first game we ever played with the figures was some time in August 1996, which will be 25 years ago next month. Here’s a copy of the notebook entry on the game:
Monday, July 5, 2021
Following the defeat at Gelbehuegel (during the War of the Western League), General Nordstrom (commanding the Pragmatic Coalition’s invasion of Schluesselbrett) sought an alternative route to the capital city. A scouting detachment of light cavalry brought word of a possible route, although it was not without difficulty. The river Blauwasser presented a considerable obstacle, but there was a damaged bridge at the village of Steinbruecke which might be repaired by the army’s engineers, as long as both banks of the river were held. Accordingly, a reconaissance in force under the command of Colonel Schultheiss was ordered to seek a possible ford and, if found, cross the Blauwasser to secure both ends of the bridge until engineers were brought up to effect repairs. Schultheiss’s force was a mixed bag, consisting of a battalion of his own infantry regiment, a battalion from the Adelmann Regiment, a detachment of the King Rupert Jaegers, two squadrons of dragoons from different regiments, and a battery of artillery.
With any luck, this maneuver would go unnoticed by League forces, who were occupied defending the main approaches to city…
Unfortunately for the Coalition, the League was alert to the danger presented by the bridge, and dispatched a force to secure it, under the command of Brigadier Regelnmann. Curiously, its composition was much the same as the Coalition’s force: two battalions of line infantry, two squadrons of dragoons, and a battery of artilley, all native Schluesselbrett troops, plus a small detachmanet of Saxe-Kirchdorf jaegers.
Advancing toward Steinbruecke from the north (right side of illustration), Regelmann set his dragoons ahead to determine if the river was fordable anywhere.
Finding no usable ford upstream of the bridge, the League’s forces continued downstream. As the Saxe-Kirchdorf jaegers neared a third possible crossing point, they saw a squadron of Schoeffen-Buschhagen dragoons on the south bank. Preparing to open fire on them, they were surprised when the dragoons splashed across the river and charged them! The jaegers were unprepared for the onslaught, and hastily retreated.
As both sides converged on the crossing point, a squadron of Schluesselbrett dragoons hastily attacked the now-disorganized S-Bs, who in turn retired back across the river. By then the lead elements of S-B infantry were able to drive the League dragoons off with musketry. The S-B artillery battery was soon deployed and was able to bring the northern (lower in illustration) side of the crossing under effective fire.
For some reason, General Regelmann’s League infantry was slow to deploy, and the Coalition infantry was able tgo cross the river. Meanwhile , the League cavalry discovered, upon questioing a local farmer, that the river could be forded with some difficulty upstream of the village (left of illustration), and a portion of the League force was dispatched to make the attempt.
The sun was sinking as a ferocious firefight broke out between the two infantry lines. Both commanders were in the thick of the action, rallying their men. On the south bank, a cavalry fight broke out, as a single squadron of Schluesselbrett dragoons, eventually aided by the Saxe-Kirchdorf jaegers and the long range fire of their artillery, faced down the remnants of two squadrons of their Coalition counterparts.
As the day ended, the situation remained in doubt. The Coalition was in possession of both sides of the crossing, but the damaged bridge was contested, and their cavalry had been very roughly handled by the League. Both sides sent messengers seeking reinforcements in the expectation that the fight would be renewed in the morning…
With the HAWKs back to holding face to face meetings, I would like to dust off the Not Quite Seven Years War project, and give the other club members an opportunity to see their forces on the table. It’s been a few years since some of them have been out. While I’m not done with Charge!, there is no doubt that it would be more practical to use some other rules, preferably with smaller units, for a club night game. We have been playing A Gentleman’s War for the last couple of years, which I like well enough, but I haven’t been able to make it work for multiple player games to my satisfaction. Therefore, my expectation is that I will use Ross Macfarlane’s home rules With MacDuff to the Frontier for this.
With that in mind, I invited Ross to join me in a remote game to get the rules fixed in my mind.
Since the last time I hosted an NQSYW game remotely, I’ve upgraded my remote player set-up. I can now put the iPad in a clamp on my heavy-duty photographic tripod.
Yesterday was a bit of a rough day around the house, so my preparations were not as thorough as I would have wished. I looked through the Grant green and red scenario books for something suitable. My desire to try something new was conflicting with my need to get set up, and I decided on Scenario 13, Finding the Ford, from Scenarios for All Ages (the Red Book). I kept the scenery to a somewhat expedient level, without a lot of extra detail, and using the subscale 3D printed buildings I’ve painted up during the pandemic, since I was both short on set up time, and in need of fast clean up so that supper could be eaten afterwards. There are some challenges with using your gaming table as your dinner table.
Nevertheless, despite the challenges, the game eventually got played. We used Discord for a change, since Google Hangouts, the conference system of choice these many years, is being obsoleted by Google. It was good to see the figures out, and I have some ideas about optimizing large figure games on a smaller table which I need to write down while I still remember them…
Before I forget about it, the HAWKs Saturday morning group played a trial game of Stargrave last weekend (26 June). We had five players in attendance, and used the rule book’s first scenario, “Botched Deal”, to set up the game.
The Saturday group played two campaigns of Frostgrave followed by two campaigns of Ghost Archipelago, so the basic mechanics were fairly familiar. I’ll hold off on doing a rules review until after I’ve actually read them carefully, but the initial impression is that the fact that all crew members will have ranged weapons, and that loot is “locked” when found (and can’t be carried off until someone successfully unlocks it), will combine to add more conflict to the game in comparison to the earlier entries in the “*grave” series.
I had a handful of figures already painted from an abortive attempt to play Rogue Stars a few years ago, and supplemented them with post-apocalyptic figures. Following the game, I expect that I am going to need some heavy weapons figures. I ordered a dozen or so figures from Reaper, which arrived on Friday.
Monday, June 21, 2021
However, unwelcome visitors were about to arrive. Uccsai of Varkrek was leading a band of foragers far out beyond the fringes of the main Orcish army. Attracted by the distant sounds of the market, and the smells of good cooking, he led his warriors toward a bridge.
The humans were watchful, though, in this uneasy border region, and from the top an an old tower visible across the river, a horn call sounded. Not abandoned after all … Uccsai ordered the troop to forget about the bridge; the river looked shallow enough for safe crossing if they were quick about it. His warriors were not. Exhausted from the days’ march, they were slow in reaching the ford, and quickly fell in a line, as a few eager yopungsters, anxious to prove themselves, pressed ahead, while the rest lagged.
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Norman wrote up a report on the “bracket campaign” for the DBA forums after our visit over the Memorial Day weekend, now three weeks ago. My intention to blog about this sooner was completely overwhelmed by quotidian reality.
It was nice to see all of his painstaking pandemic painting placed in play.