Monday, September 25, 2023

Barrage XXVII (2023) After Action Report

 Barrage XXVII (27!!?) is now in the books.  Held in Havre de Grace, Maryland on 22 and 23 September, and hosted by the HAWKs (of which club I am fortunate to be a member), Barrage was attended by something over 200 people, and was originally scheduled to host about 60 miniatures games and events.

Last year I was required to be traveling for work on the Friday of Barrage, but this year I made it to both days.  What I didn’t do was to get organized enough to run a game, so I was there ready to fill in and make sure that other peoples’ games ran.  I also had a secondary objective of getting some space back in my basement by moving some things that did seems likely ever to be painted or played with to new homes.

After setting up my flea market sales Friday morning, I ended up in a Second Punic War game using 10mm figures and Simon Miller’s To the Strongest rules, run by veteran HAWKs gamemmaster Kurt Schlegel.

This was only my second game of To the Strongest, but I recently acquired a 6mm English Civil War project and have bought the related rules For King and Parliament. Unfortunately for the Romans under my command, the wily Carthaginians had outflanked us, so I spent my time attempting to hold off a swarm of Numidian and other Carthaginian allied cavalry, with no great success.

Later in the afternoon, I joined a 25mm 1904 German-Herero War game (Southwest Africa), using a lightly modified version of The Sword and the Flame run by veteran gamemmaster (and author of a book on wargaming the Herero wars) Roy Jones.

Despite being ambushed by the Herero, the Germans were able to push forward and capture the hill in time to win the game on points. (This was a scenario balanced by victory conditions; the Herero were not going to rout the Germans.) This turned out to be the only victory I was involved in for the weekend. TSATF remains a reliably good rules set, and is capable of absorbing all sorts of tweaks and customizations, so I wasn’t surprised that this was a good game.

Our region was hit with a tropical storm on Saturday, which may have depressed the turnout somewhat, but both of my sons were able to make it up from the Washington, DC area.

We all ended up in a 15mm game pitting a 6th century Byzantine army against the Sassanid Persians, run by Jesse Scarborough and using a set of home rules.  The rules worked well enough, but the Byzantines (whom I immediately espoused, of course) found the persian cataphracts hard to deal with, and being outflanked atthe beginning by the scenario wasn’t helping.  We had a good time before Norman and I went down to a sad defeat at the hands of William and his colleagues.  

Later in the afternoon, William and I were in a 25mm medeival skirmish game run by HAWKs gamemaster Greg Priebe and using the Feudal Patrol card-driven rules.  Unfortunately for me and William, skirmish games can sometimes enter a death spiral due to the (not unrealistic) level of randomization, and it was our turn to be on the wrong end of that.   

We ended up fleeing (those of us who hadn’t already) about two hours into the game. While we were playing this, Norman had been in a reprise of the To the Strongest game I’d played on Friday.

There were still a couple of games going on; I think the last start was around 5:00PM.  

William wanted a picture before we split and went our separate ways.

So, that was barrage from my foxhole.  In addition to playing the four games (#42-#45 in this year’s log), I must have priced my flea market stuff appropriately to sell, since I went with a project in three boxes (60mm medievals, fare well in your new home) and four document boxes of stuff, and brought home nothing of that except one bag of old Ral Partha Renaissance troops, a set of rules, and an unbuilt card model of a castle.  I picked up some terrain, a few 1/72 plastics for a future DBA early Byzantines and opponents set, and a couple of used board games.  Even with that, the balance went to “less stuff than I started with”, so it was a success.  Overall, it was a great convention, and I am looking forward to our Cold Wars replacement, “Cold Barrage”, now scheduled at the same location for 2 March 2024.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Not Quite Seven Years War with One Hour Wargames

 I am not making much progress with my resolution to blog more this year…perhaps I can alter my habits by January, a more traditional time for resolutions.

At any rate, I have a list of rules and periods I have been wanting to try, and I had some time this past Sunday to check another one off the list.  At some point during the pandemic, I bought some magnetic movement stands from Litko, sized for units in One Hour Wargames. My intention was to use them to temporarily mount stands or figures from other projects; I should be able to do some sort of ancients, Dark Ages, Pike and Shot, and Horse and Musket.  First up (finally!) was Horse and Musket.  I randomly selected a scenario from the book, which turned out to be Scenario 1, Pitched Battle, based on Ceresole in 1544.  I used figures from my NQSYW collection to field a Red (League) army of 3 infantry, 1 skirmisher, and 2 cavalry aganst a Blue (Coalition) army of 3 infantry, 2 artillery and 1 cavalry.

While not the best idea, I looked at that and decided that the League either had to withdraw or attack, since they would otherwise be worn down by artillery fire without being able to respond.  The 3x3 table doesn’t allow a lot of maneuver, and the horse and musket rules give infantry a 12” range, so it was a die rolling contest for the most part.  The game ended on turn 11 with a charge by the Coalition dragoons scattering the last League infantry.

I followed the suggestions in the short chapter on campaigns, and did a follow-on game by allowing the winning side to choose which position they would take in randomly determined Scenario 12, where an army defending a town is about to be outflanked by an attacking force which discovers a usable ford.

I elected to have the Coalition play blue, the attacker, and thereby relegated the League to the role of Red, the defenders.  The dice gave the same force composition for Blue (obviously they just continued the advance after the first battle), and Red now had 4 infantry, one artillery, and one cavalry.

The attacking army is prohibited from shooting on turn 1, and must set up within range of the defenders, so things got off to a bad start for the Coalition; three League units concentrated fire on one Coaltion infantry unit and broke it immediately.  The Coalition cavalry rode for the objective hill and were met by the League cavalry. By the rules (as I understood them) this resulted in an indecisive melee on the hill for several turns.  The Coalition artillery was generally ineffective, and the final situation saw all units broken except for the League cavalry and one Coalition artillery surviving on Turn 15.  Without the hill in their possession, victory went to the League.

This was only my second experience actually laying with this rules, and the previous time we played the 19th century version.  They seem reasonable for a first introduction, but I do have an urge to complicate them a bit … perhaps next time.  It wasn’t a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon, though, and, as is usually the case, I was glad to get some figures on the table.

Monday, September 4, 2023

An old favorite on the table

I had the French and Indian War collection on the table yesterday, for the first time since Ross and I hosted a couple of games at Fall In in 2016.