Friday, 24 June 2005

Allies land in force behind German lines!

Duitsche troepen in verdeediging gedrongen! Belgische vlaggen zwaaien bij Mechelen!

In a daring operation, British troops have landed behind German lines in the area of Mechelen and Willebroek. Reports from the area are scarce, but speak of large formations of red beret wearing British troops landing near the Leuven-Willebroek Canal. German defenders are under pressure everywhere.

Last night, Alan and myself played through the first campaign turn of our [BMCV virtual game]( We played two turns in the tactical game (we're using a mix between BKC and ad lib kriegspieling), until one of the formations on table had completed its initial orders -- we felt that this would provide the players with a suitable new decision point (instead of simply _continue with present orders_).

Photographs have been taken, and the reports will go out to players this weekend.

Sunday, 19 June 2005

That awful DBM system

One of the more unfortunate threads on TTM is Bart's critique of the dbm system. (I deliberately am not making a link to it ). Despite this and the general support for Bart's position, I recently managed to sneak a game of DBM with Graham W., the other DBM ite in the group, while nobody was looking (he had even shipped wife Lynn off to the States so that I could enter the house undetected). Mind you, just before starring, we accidentally encountered Stefan on the street near Graham's house. We had a nice conversation until I let slip that we were playing DBM. Stefan hastily made his excuses and moved on.

In splendid isolation in Graham's attic, we deiced to try my preferred army for this year's Anderida competition in November (theme is armies of 1005 AD). My pre-Feudal Scots, massive in number, low in quality, took on Graham's Nikephorian Byzantines, replete with their elite cavalry, super heavy cataphracts and Russian mercenary spearmen.

We had a terrific game. Deployment was interesting, with GW splitting his armies between two wings, leaving a massive gap in the centre. My warband, looking to hunt down enemy archers were in this vacant centre, and on turn one stormed clumsily off to the right in chase of their target. I had under-estimated the enemy's manoeuvrability. The Byzantine cavalry quickly closed in on the centre and despite glorious resistance, destroyed the warband for little loss. Things looked black, but on my left my 8 thegns, supported by some Scot light auxilia and mercenary vikings managed first to beat the Rus and then close in on a line of vulnerable Byzantine archers. On the last turn of the game, either side could win; my vast numbers meant that despite the damage that Graham was doing, it was a real slog to cause serious damage. And by contrast, his low numbers meant that a few casualties meant trouble.

In the end the Scots won the day, but it was a close thing. Two interesting armies. My preference, though, goes to the Scots. 140 elements on the table, nothing more expensive than 5 points, but right along the front line we have powerful infantry fighting on factors of 5.

A good evening and after packing boxes, I slunk off in to the night, hopefully unobserved by tasteful wargamers ;)

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Was that a Roman army?

Our [WAB Escalation Campaign]( has kicked off. Last week, David's Granadines turned Alan's Saxons into a bunch of moving pincushions, ensuring a first victory for the civilisation side. Yesterday, Filip brought his Romans over for a friendly encounter with my Celts.

The table roll (see [the rules]( ) provided us with the mother of all wargaming tables - a 6' x 4' table, played on from long side to long side. Terrain wise, we had a Celtic village on the left (seen from the Celtic table edge), with a bit of impassible difficult going (the midden?) off to the left of that, a gentle hill on the right, with a solitary farmhouse in front of it. In an Alan inspired moment, I also put some cows and sheep throughout the landscape.

The Celtic army consisted of two warbands of 17 figures each, with LSM and a bad attitude (the Zemstiani and Malini), a unit of 9 bow armed skirmishers, a chariot squadron of three chariots (two crew each) and Bartolomix, the army general (and quite possibly the only general in all of the WEC armies - at 500 points for the entire army, a general is a heavy investment, but IMO a must for the Celtic army nevertheless). The opposing Romans had some cavalry, a unit of auxilia and one of legionaries, and a bunch of archers.

I deployed with the skirmishers in a long line on the left, the two warbands in the center and the chariots on the right. Bartolomix took up position in the front lines (of course) between the two warbands. The Romans put their cavalry in a column aimed for the gap between the village and the difficult going bit (putting them on a collision course with my skirmishers), the auxilia and legionaires roughly in front of my warbands, and the archers on top of the hill on the right.

Seeing the Roman cavalry poised to charge forward on the left flank, I knew that my best plan would be that staple of Celtic battle plans -- straight forward at full speed with the warbands. This would be the Celtic version of the standard ancients tactic of advancing your center when the enemy flanks are better than yours, so the victorious enemy flanking unit will have further to go to reach the rear or flanks of your line. The skirmishers would do what they could against the cavalry, while the chariots would go fanning about on the right.

So it was said, so it happened. On the first turn, the Celts closed on the Romans, and the skirmishers put some fire into the Roman auxilia. The Romans for their part, advanced their infantry, drove their cavalry forward and put some bowfire into one of the advancing warbands, while eyeing the chariots over on their flank warily.

The moment Filip moved his Romans forward, I knew I was going to be able to charge the legionaires next turn (we started 24" apart, I moved 10", he moved 4", putting us at 10" -- which happens to be the charge range for warbands), but I was not sure whether I wanted to do this or not, as the unit of auxilia next door would then be in a good position to charge the warbands' flank. Naturally, warbands being what they are, the decision was taken out of my hands when they decided to go at it themselves (rolled a one :) ). So turn 2 saw one Celtic warband charging the Roman legionaires, while the other warband advanced on the Roman archers, and the chariots pulled up to throw some javelins towards said archers. The skirmishers divided their fire between the Roman cavalry and auxilia, managing to take off one Roman cavalryman, taking that unit down to only five.

In the ensuing combat, the legionaires managed to survive the Celtic charge (damn stubborn troops :) ), and that combat would go on for a couple of rounds, eventually even having Bartolomix himself participating (who can say no to three attacks with a WS of 6?). On the left, the Roman cavalry now charged the skirmishers, which opted to fire and flee, managing to pick off another cavalryman (yay, only four left -- nothing to be feared any more) and even staying out of reach of the charging cavalrymen after they fled (double yay -- there was a 2 in 3 chance of them catching me).

After that, it went quickly. The Roman archers, being charged by warband in front and the chariots in the flank, quickly turned tail and were destroyed in the pursuit, the cavalry sat about contemplating their losses, the legionaires finally broke and were cut down in the pursuit, and the auxilia attempted to charge the victorious warband but promptly broke after one turn of combat. Game over, and a great Celtic victory.

In this battle, I opted for a simple strategy -- move up and roll over -- that worked brilliantly, to the point that one of the warbands powered on to within inches of the opposing table edge, routing a unit of archers on the way. Comments overheard within that warband included 'Was that a Roman army on that hill behind the sheep -- it all passed so quickly".

So, the fate of Istria hangs in the balance, with one victory to the civilisation side and one to the barbarian side. The next battle (between Macedonians and Sassanids) will decide.

__Update__: [some pictures of this battle are now available](

Technorati tags:

Monday, 13 June 2005

Germans repulsed!

Belgian defenders incredulous! Sheep remain unharmed, despite presence in minefields.

Last Friday Alan came over to finish the [BKC]( game [we reported on earlier]( As you recall, we left the game at the start of the fourth turn, with the Germans about to cross the river with a battalion of infantry in assault boats.

The continuation of the game saw Alan trying to push this battalion across the river, while simulataneously attempting to keep the rest of the Belgians pinned by fire from beyond the minefields.

As the Belgian commander, once my general defense was set up, my only real decision was when and where to commit my meagre reserves, consisting of two empty trucks (to be used in an emergency to cart anti tank guns around from where they were deployed in the front lines), two trucks with a platoon of infantry each, and the might of the Belgian armored forces - three platoons of T13 tanks, packing a mean whallop in the form of a 47mm AT gun.

Given the fact that the Germans seemed not to be pushing their attacks elsewhere (the fact that I managed to suppress the German engineers several times on their way to clearing the minefield might have had a hand in that), I decided on committing the reserve on the right flank, where the Germans were crossing the river.

This proved to be a fortuitous decision. The arrival of the extra firepower of two infantry platoons and three 47mm guns, combined with a string of good command rolls just when I needed them and a star performance by the Belgian artillery, ensured that no Germans got out of their boats on the Belgian side of the river, and by turn 7, the German infantry was scattered and thrown back.

I had lost most of my front line infantry by then (I managed to retreat two out of six platoons in the 'safety' of the village on the Belgian left flank, but the rest died in their trenches), but the second line of longer ranged machine guns and AT guns was still intact.

In turn 8 of 12, with one assault broken up and the rest not even into the minefield yet, the German commander decided to take discretion as the better part of valour and opted to not push the matter any further. A Belgian victory!

I did not think I would win this game, fearing that I would not have enough firepower to stop the inevitable German assault coming through the gaps in the minefield. As it turned out, the timely arrival of the reserves and good command rolls ensured that I was able to beat back the Germans however. This just goes to show that it is very hard for even numerically superior forces (the Germans had twice the points on table than did the Belgians) to successfully assault prepared defenses.

Photos of this game will appear here shortly, I expect.

Saturday, 11 June 2005

Bridges of Mechelen County virtual game - player's briefing

I'm putting on a 'virtual' WWII game, where the game is physically played on a terrain up in my attic by myself, but the players themselves are sitting at home behind their email programs. The players represent various levels of commanders and send in orders to the umpire, who carries them out on the tabletop, and sends back pictures taken with a digital camera down at the level of the figures. The idea is to create a 'realistic' fog of war experience, with the players only seeing what the miniatures are actually 'seeing'.

Anyway, I'll post the occasional report on the game progress here, but here's the general briefing document for the players:

PDF Document

BMC Virtual game briefing

196K PDF document

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

Germans invade Belgium! Stopped at Rupel!

Brave Belgian defenders under pressure!

Currently set up in my wargame room is a 1940 WWII game featuring Alan's Germans versus my Belgians. We're playing [BKC](, and the scenario is a river crossing. About 2/3rds of a regiment of Belgian infantry supported by some armour (for a very loose definition thereof) is defending the Rupel against a heavily panzer-reinforced regiment of German infantry.

The game is currently starting turn 4 of 12, and the Germans are closing in on the Rupel. Nothing much has happened yet, except for a Belgian artillery strike temporarily delaying one of the German infantry battalions, and some Belgian casualties in the initial exchanges of fire. This is the situation at the start of turn four:

The situation at the start of turn four

As you can see, I have set up two lines of defense with the Belgians, in what I hope is a mutually supporting defense. Time will tell whether this is a good idea -- I'm starting to doubt it, given the fact that the low Belgian command values mean that most of my firing will be done in the initiative phase (where troops can fire at close by enemy without orders), and for the second line, that means they only fire when the Germans are already across the river.

Add to this the fact that I neglected to lay enough mines to cover the table, and that one of the gaps in the minefield is being exploited by a battalion of German infantry _with assault boats_, and one has the makings of an interesting situation for the Belgians.

Time will tell...

Sunday, 5 June 2005

Te Wapen webpage

I've set up a small webgroup for my "Te Wapen!" wargaming rules. These rules are based on the Battlecry and Memoir44 game engines, and are primarly intended for fantasy games.

Currently, you ca download the current version of the rules, and look at some pictures of past games (you might even recognize some faces :-)).


Wednesday, 1 June 2005

WEC map

Well here it is, and no silly names.

View image

WEC - Our WAB Escalation campaign - Rules

Almost a year ago, we came up with the idea of putting on an WAB escalation campaign, wherein players use armies that start out small but grow during the campaign. Real life intervened and put this project on the backburner, but I'm now (finally) ready with the campaign rules (such as they are). Without further ado, here they are:

### WEC Rules. Or guidelines, really.

#### Goal

The overall goal of the WEC is to enable players to build 25mm Ancients
armies at an affordable pace, time and money wise. A second goal is to
have good, fun Ancients games.

#### Campaign setting

The campaign is set on the continent of Orbis Wabaei. A map is forthcoming from
our master cartographer.

This landmass, about the size of Africa, has seen an aeons long epic
conflict between civilisation and barbarians, ebbing across the continent in
waves of turmoil and upheaval. The two sides have by no means been of
constant ethical composition throughout the ages, with individual peoples
and tribes switching allegiance at the drop of a hat. As such, while the
conflict has endured for centuries uncounted, neither side has gained the
upper hand throughout the long struggle.

But perhaps this is about to change.

#### Initial distribution

In the WEC, players are initially assigned to one of the two sides.
Their allegiance can (and undoubtably will) change during the campaign
however. The proposed initial distribution is as follows:

Civilisation Barbarians
------------ ----------
Granadines (DB) Saxons (AH)
Romans (FvB) Sassanids (JP)
Macedonian (GK) Celts (BV)
Belisarians (BR) Trojans (GW)

#### Senate / Rat

Both sides have an overruling body that determines who gets to fight. For
the civilisation players, this is called the Senate, for the barbarian
players, it is the Rat (read this in German, although the English is also
oddly appropriate). Each player gets one vote in this body, with some
players getting more votes (see below). Each campaign turn, the voting body
determines who may fight following a fixed process:

* A player wanting to play a battle makes his intention known to his
Senate / Rat.
* The members vote on whether or not the player is allowed to play a
* If a player does not get enough votes for, he cannot play a battle
that turn. However, _his next battle cannot be refused by vote_
* A player does not vote in his own battle application

Note the emphasized point in the third bullet: this means that no player
can be held from the battlefield indefinitely. This is done to keep
things interesting for all players.

In case of a draw in the number of votes, the player gets to fight. You
need a majority to block a player.

The players in general also vote on where to fight, using simple unqualified
voting (each person gets one vote). See below.

#### Who to fight

A player can only fight a player from the other side. Who specifically
to fight is determined after both sides have determined who fights
battles. No rules are provided to match up armies - this can be dealt
with by dicing, diplomacy, as conditions to get votes, etc.

In the case of an uneven match (one side has more armies fighting than
the other), something happens that still needs to be decided upon.

#### Where to fight

Each round's battles are fought in a specific region on the map.

The battles fought in the WEC are but a small part of the larger conflict
waging on Wabaei. These other battles are not modelled in the campaign,
but the outcome of the player battles is indicative of the outcome of the
larger level: if the civilisation side wins more battles, the region being
fought over passes to that side, and vice versa.

Each turn, three regions are proposed for the player battles to occur in,
selected by a mechanism that shall remain shrouded in mystery. Each player,
irrespective of side and number of votes in their voting body, gets one vote
as to which of the regions to fight for. The region that gets the majority
votes will be the region for the next battles. The same mystery shrouded
mechanism that decides the three proposed regions will decide the region to
fight over in absence of a majority vote.

The region being fought over determines the general terrain features of the
tabletop battles.

#### Consequences of battle

After a battle, the loser and winner face consequences. First, loser and
winner are determined, by agreement between players or by using the
system provided in the WAB book (points destroyed, table quarters
controlled, enemy characters killed, etc).

The loser immediately joins the winning player's side, and seats in its
Senate / Council with one vote (no matter how many votes he had on his
original side).

The loser immediately loses all but one vote in his voting body. Should he lose again in his next battle, he switches sides, seating in his new side's voting body with one vote.

The winner gains one extra vote in his Senate / Council, and gains one
prestige point, which he keeps permanently. This last will provide a
ranking of players, and an incentive to keep high ranking players out of

Apart from these more tangible rewards, the winner also gets bragging rights
and can add a fancy title to his name, such as 'Liberator of the Lands of

#### Overview of a campaign turn:

* Initial battles are fought
* Heated diplomatic discussion takes place
* Players send the umpire their votes on who gets to play and region
to play over
* Umpire sends results of votes
* Battles are fought
* Player 'rankings' and map are updated
* Repeat ad nauseam

#### Initial battles

The initial battles have been determined by the innocent hands of the
umpire, in a carefully orchestrated yet mystery shrouded ceremony. These are
the results:

Granadines (DB) vs Saxons (AH)
Romans (FvB) vs Celts (BV)
Macedonians (GK) vs Sassanids (JP)

These initial battles will be fought using _500_ point armies. The initial region for the battles is Istria (SE corner) -- use the standard terrain generating rules in the WAB book, but limiting terrain to three features per player.

#### Table sizes

Use the following table and a die roll to determine the table size to play on:

Die roll Table Size Table Orientation
-------- ---------- -----------------
1 5'x3' Landscape
2 5'x3' Portrait
3 6'x4' Landscape
4 6'x4' Portrait
5 8'x6' Landscape
6 8'x6' Portrait

For 500 point battles, roll __1D4__ on this table.

Additional resources:

* [The WEC Web page]( -- follow the proceedings of the campaign
* [The WEC map]( -- Orbis Wabaei
__Update__ 03/06/2005: Add table size (AH), change rules for changing sides (BD)