Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Friday, 13 May 2022

Rome vs the Goths, a reprise

After missing last week’s Gothic humiliation, our seasoned reporter donned his walking boots and hot-footed it to the Balkans to witness the next episode in the Gothic-Roman wars. This time Chris and Tony took the all-conquering Romans with Dave and Simon trying to restore the sagging morale of the Goths.

The Goths lost the scouting and set up first. They went infantry-heavy on their right, with the cavalry evenly distributed I the more open centre and left. The Romans countered with a cavalry-heavy right, legionary-heavy centre with the Auxilia and some lights taking the Roman left.

Battle commenced with a brisk Roman advance all across the line. However, they couldn’t quite get into bow range. The Goths responded pushing the infantry forward to occupy the high ground to their front, and bow into the woods. The Gothic cavalry pushed forward into the teeth of the Legions and Roman cavalry. This would be a tough one with very little room for manoeuvre.


Chris on the Roman left instantly drew a “1”. His cry of “General re-roll” saw another “1” pulled from the bag. Chris wept and everyone else laughed. We didn’t know that Greg’s powers were so strong. His influence obviously stretched all the way from Malta. Tony took the Roman cavalry into action and managed to send lights round the Gothic flank, his normal tactic.

However, the Gothic commanders wondered if he had noticed that the Gothic camps were on the other side of the table? The Goths replied with an arrow storm from their infantry that killed Chris’ light infantry and disrupted two Auxilia.

The next turn saw more of the same. The cavalry battle between Dave and Tony intensified with disruptions on both sides but no decisive “kills”. The Gothic cavalry and Legionaries continued their sparring with the Goths electing to throw javelins rather than risk a charge into the serried ranks of heavily armed and armoured Romans.


On the Roman right Chris failed to rally his Auxilia and two units fell to more Gothic archery. The morale test saw a light cavalry unit also break. Things were looking distinctly “sticky” as the Roman left all but collapsed, and the Gothic warriors surged off the hill towards the enemy.


However, the Romans finally managed to kill some of Dave’s Gothic cavalry, but too little too late. Chris’ left-wing command was completely wiped out and a lone unit of Gothic light infantry marched through across the board to seize the camp.


Wow! A real beating for the Romans.

The Goths celebrated the victory of Arian Christianity over the heresy practiced in the Roman Empire, or was the Roman General still secretly pagan?

Simon

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Strength & Honour – Initial Game, Watling Street

This was our first run-out with TFL’s new Strength & Honour rules. We decided to keep it simple, so used the Watling Street scenario, straight out of the book. Dave took the Romans and I took the Iceni.

From the deployment, it was clear that the Romans were going to be outflanked, having only 4 units, vs the Iceni 9 units. The Romans placed the 2 legions in their centre, with the veteran Auxiliaries protecting their flanks.

The Iceni placed their best warriors (the Iceni warbands) overlapping the Roman right and the light cavalry and chariots overlapping the Roman left, leaving the Artebates & Trinovanti warbands, to face off the legions, in depth (which turned out to be a bad move!).

The barbarians led with a fairly spirited move forward, but to their surprise, the Romans also quickly advanced. This actually led to the barbarian right over-shooting the Roman Auxiliaries there, causing some delay in getting them back into action.


While the Roman Auxiliaries were having a bit of a hard time of it, on the flanks, the Roman legions closed with the centre. Unsurprisingly, the Legions were getting the better of this, pushing back the warbands.

However, then things then started to go awry for the Romans. The Roman Auxiliaries on the Iceni right, were pushed back and disordered, by the chariot stiffened Trinovanti warband. Then the Iceni light cavalry started aggravating the flanks of the Roman XX legion. This, plus the annoying Iceni habit of rolling defence saves, stalled the XX legion’s drive forward.


The XIV legion on the Roman right was fairing little better. Boudica had driven off the Roman Auxiliaries guarding the flank of the XIV legion and now the Legion was suffering at the hands of supported and flanking warbands.


Things were not looking good for the Romans, but over-confidence overtook the Iceni. They called Homunculus Est, but shock, horror, not enough points!

Then Roman discipline started to tell. Reforming a legion, with a Discipline of 5+, was not that hard! Even Reforming the Auxiliaries on a 6+, away from the warbands, was quite feasible. Thus the Roman units rallied and pressed back into the fight.

The run of luck on Iceni defence saves had also passed and soon the warbands were being driven back. A couple of critical Discipline check failures and first the light cavalry was routed, then a warband. The Iceni then also discovered that Recovering a warband, on a Discipline roll of 8+, was a tough ask! The Roman legions started to press forward, looking for revenge for the earlier reversals.

The Iceni, now snowed under by Setback and Disaster cards, were forced to face Homunculus Est. Only 34 points, vs a Break value of 18!! Guess you call that a win!

It was now only left to the Romans to mount a bit of a victory parade at Wroxeter!!

Overall, a good first game. This will be back on the table again.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Rescue the Intelligence Officer - Sharp Practice 2

 

Major Holdon has been injured, while reconnoitring French positions. With the help of his aide and daughter, he has made it back to the church at Sante Marina. Captain Blunt, with a party of 12 Riflemen, has managed to link-up with Holdon, taking up a defensive position around the church (from Deployment Point 2), while they await the British relief column (deploying from DP1, when the British commander rolls less than or equal to the current turn number).

A local informant has told the French where Major Holdon is hiding and they have sent a force to capture or kill him (2 groups of Voltigeur skirmishers, 4 groups of line infantry + one medium gun – all deploying from the French DP1).

Captain Blunt and 6 riflemen started to edge Westward from the church, covered by Sgt Scarper & 6 riflemen, sheltering behind the wall surrounding the church. Protected by this screen, Major Holdon started to edge slowly Westward, toward the British deployment point.

The French responded by deploying their Voltigeur screen against the Riflemen, while the main infantry column marched on, aiming to deploy behind the voltigeur screen, with the gun prolonging to the East of the main infantry column.

The riflemen had just started to pick off the voltigeur screen, when suddenly the British relief column arrived (rolling a 2 on turn 3!). Not only did they arrive early, but in their next move, they moved 17” down the road! This rapid move appeared to wrong-foot the French. Their infantry column had been wheeling right, toward the church, when suddenly they were forced to redeploy against the British column emerging to their right flank. Their gun also now found itself of the wrong side of the infantry column!

However, Colonel Dubbious rose to the challenge. He managed to get three infantry units into line, on the difficult terrain on the hill. He also manged to get the gun, with a viable field of fire, from the right of his line. Capt Biddet then brought up the forth infantry unit, on the far left of the line. This gave the French a very formidable firing line!

The British infantry column responded too slowly, only managing to get two units into line, before the hail of French musket balls and cannister hit them. The British ranks started to thin rapidly, so Capt Scarlet formed up the next two infantry units behind the first line. However, the cannister from the French gun was cutting swathes through not only the first line, but also through the second.


The right of the British first line broke under the hail of 32 muskets and cannister from the gun. These men streamed back through the second line, causing them to withdraw. But in the midst of this maelstrom, Major Shortfawl managed to detach himself from the broken first line, just in time to steady the faltering second line. By good fortune, the British also found themselves out of musket range of the French, so the men steadied and Major Shortfawl started to remove shock.


While this mammoth firefight was going on to the West, Capt Blunt’s riflemen had driven off the voltigeurs and had also managed to take pressure off the British line, by causing the gun to withdraw. But in doing so, Blunt had taken his eye off Major Holdon and his party.

Capitanne Opeless had managed to get the surviving voltigeurs back through the stable and into the central orchard and was now stalking Major Holdon and his party.

Almost too late (lucky chit pull), Capt Blunt realised the danger and led his men, in a mad charge into the orchard. A vicious melee ensued and after 3 rounds, both sides were down to one man and a wounded officer, but the French had enough shock to break them. Opeless strikes again!


The wounded Blunt then struggled out of the orchard and into the arms of Major Holon’s daughter!

The British now had a race to finish. Could they get Holdon off the table, before the huge French infantry line advanced into range again? Major Shortfawl steeled himself to withstand another French musketry onslaught. But, it never came! For some unaccountable reason the French simply continued to blaze away into empty space! Between the volleys, all that could be heard was the plaintive voice of Col Dubbious yelling, “Stop firing you bl**y idiots” (in French of course!).

Behind this rolling wall of powder smoke, Major Holdon, Capt Blunt and the remaining riflemen, snuck away, off the table, via DP1. An unexpected British win!

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Star Wars – Escape From Tatooine Campaign, Mission 2: Prisoner Convoy

This is the second mission of a mini campaign based on Star Wars Episode IV. Having managed to capture the Droid R2-D2 with the Death Star plans, Princess Leia, and a squad of Rebel Troopers, the Empire is now transporting their captives to their nearby Imperial Fortress where Lord Vader will personally carry out their “interrogation”.

The Rebels must attempt a rescue before the Empire transport reaches the fortress. The prisoners are being transported on a TX-225 GAVw Occupier Combat Assault Tank with a 74-Z Speeder Bike escort. The Empire must reach the safety of the Fortress with their prisoners. The Rebels must intercept the convoy and rescue all prisoners.

THE PATROL PHASE


The terrain was based around a desert road winding through a hilly landscape to the Empire’s Imperial Fortress. The Rebels started with three Patrol Markers in a stack between F8-H8. The Empire started with two Patrol Markers at the location of their TX-225 GAVw Occupier Combat Assault Tank (A1), and two in the Fortress gate (L3). These were moved as independent pairs. At the end of the Patrol Phase the Rebels placed three Jump-Off Points on the table as shown on the map. The Empire placed one JOP inside the Fortress, one on the TX-225 at the road entry at A1, and a third as shown on the map.

The Speeder Bikes and Tank started the game already deployed on the table. The Speeder Bikes deployed as two Teams, both within 6” of the Tank.

FORCES
 
Both sides use the remainder of their Platoon from Mission 1. The Empire fielded an Imperial Officer, Stormtrooper Lieutenant and four Stormtrooper Squads. In addition, the Empire had a TX-225 GAVw Occupier Combat Assault Tank, being used to transport the prisoners, with an escort of four 74-Z Speeder Bikes. The Empire have no support points (the Tank & Bikes used all the Empire’s Support Points). The Rebels fielded Obi-Wan Kenobi and a Rebel Officer as Senior Leaders. Luke accompanied Obi-Wan (to learn the ways of the force from the Jedi master). He had no weapons or force powers and could not take part in combat. The Rebels force consisted of three Rebel Trooper Squads and two RPS-6 Rocket Launcher teams. The Rebels started with a Force Morale of 9, the Empire with 8.

OBJECTIVE

The Empire must reach their Fortress with the plans, &/or any captured named Rebel character. Is successful, the Rebels must then fight Mission 3.

The Rebels must recover the plans and rescue all Rebel prisoners, and hold them until the end of the Turn. If successful, they may proceed to Mission 4.


BATTLE REPORT

The Empire prisoner convoy (TX-225 Tank plus a Speeder Bike escort) transporting Princess Leia, R2-D2 and five Rebel Troopers was travelling along a dangerous stretch of winding desert road towards the Imperial Fortress. Rebels could be hiding around the next bend or in the palm and cacti groves edging the road. Would the Empire make it to the Fortress or would the Rebels ambush the convoy and rescue the prisoners?

The Rebels deployed Obi-Wan, two Squads of Troopers, and two Rocket Launcher Teams in a cacti grove in the south, waiting for the convoy to appear. As soon as it came into view, the Rebels opened fire with the Rocket Launchers and the Trooper’s Ion Rifles. One Speeder Bike was quickly eliminated, and the Tank was forced to retreat.


The Rebels and Empire then both deployed a Squad in the West, with the Empire immediately charging into close combat against the Rebel position on a hill. This went badly for the Empire, with all but two men wiped out, the survivors being forced to flee.


The Empire then deployed two further Squads in the West, and redirected their Speeder Bikes south to try a flank attack on the Rebels, quickly forcing the remaining Rebel force on the hill to break and flee, leaving their JOP unprotected. 


Gaining confidence, the Empire’s Tank with its prisoners started to advance again, this time off-road. Unfortunately, a Rebel Rocket Launcher team, in the cacti grove, achieved a lucky hit, taking out the tank, killing the crew and three of the Rebel prisoners. (The Rebels are obviously not concerned about fratricide.)


A Rebel squad raced towards the tank wreckage to try and rescue the surviving prisoners.


But before they could make it, one of the Empire squads in the West charged the surviving prisoners, killing the Troopers, stunning Leia, and disabling R2-D2. 


Unfortunately, before the prisoners could be recaptured, the advancing Rebel Squad opened fire, forcing the Stormtroopers back behind cover of the tank hulk, empty handed. The Empire quickly deployed more Stormtroopers to support those trying to recapture the prisoners. Meanwhile, the Speeder Bike teams had advanced south, closing on the Rebel flank. The Rebels responded by sending Obi-Wan (with Luke in tow) and half of their force from the cacti grove to meet this Empire advance.


The Empire’s Speeder Bikes captured the Rebel JOP on the hill, but lost their Speeder Bike Junior Leader to Ion Rifle fire in the process.


At this point the Empire’s Force Morale had dropped to 2, and, although the prisoners were still only an arm’s length away, they decided to abandon the mission, and retreat. Lieutenant Threlfall (RIP?) would have to explain this decision to Lord Vader, who was expected to arrive imminently at the Imperial Fortress to interrogate Princess Leia. He will not be pleased!

CONCLUSION

A Rebel victory, with Leia and R2-D2 (and the Death Star plans) rescued, and the Empire’s forces retreating from the battlefield after one Squad was virtually wiped out, and their Tank and two Speeder Bikes were destroyed. Unfortunately, the Rebels took heavy losses in their rescue attempt, with a Senior Leader wounded, and the Blue Squad prisoners either killed when the Tank exploded (firing a Rocket Launcher at a vehicle carrying prisoners was maybe not Obi-Wan’s best decision), or caught in the subsequent crossfire.
 
Questions are being asked as to whether Obi-Wan is still fit to command. Luckily, Leia can now take back the helm of command. Having recovered the Death Star plans and freed the Rebel prisoners, the Rebels must find off-planet transport to escape Tatooine. They believe they will find such transport, plus a “trustworthy” pilot, in the spaceport town of Mos Eisley. Leia has been advised to seek out a rogue smuggler called Han Solo who owns a converted freighter called the Millennium Falcon. Rebel informants have discovered that Han, and his co-pilot Chewbacca, have recently been accused of smuggling and imprisoned by the Empire Commander governing Mos Eisley.

To escape Tatooine, the Rebels must just jailbreak Han and Chewbacca, then fight their way to the Millennium Falcon.

Mission 4 beckons.

Rob

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

A Greek Tragedy

And so our retsina-sozzled war correspondent made it to southern Thessaly in the late 5th century BC to see Chris’ Thessalians take on my Greek Hoplite “City States” commanded by “Charge May”. The Southerners somehow won the scouting, forcing Chris to deploy first. It was clear that his right was to be his cavalry “schwerpunkt” with hoplites centre and left. Tony left only light forces facing Chris’ cavalry. Did we detect a “refused flank”, and almost a strategy from Tony? Surely not!


The battle proceeded briskly with both hoplite lines closing,

and Chris’ cavalry not fancying their chances in difficult terrain.

When the correspondent returned from providing the opposing Generals with tea, coffee and chocolate/caramel biscuits he noticed that the Thessalian left had somehow “disappeared”. The loss of only two units allowed the effete southerners to pour through.

Maybe they had seen that Chris’ camps were defended by naked people.

Chris’ chit pulling was truly inept. His centre stalled in a blizzard of “1”s, and gradually Tony turned the flank. The Thessalian flank march captured a camp but the southerners had victory medals in abundance, and laughed in Chris’ face. One of the Thessalian camps fell leaving the other in mortal danger. With some of his hoplite units in danger of complete annihilation and only 4 victory medals in play Chris called it a day.


It would be nice to say that this was a hard-fought battle. Shame I cannot.

Simon

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Star Wars – Escape From Tatooine Campaign, Mission 1: Recover The Death Star Plans

This is the first mission of a mini campaign based on Star Wars Episode IV.

Amid a galactic civil war, Rebel Alliance spies have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire's Death Star, a massive space station capable of destroying entire planets. Imperial Senator Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, secretly one of the Rebellion's leaders, has obtained its schematics, but her starship is intercepted by an Imperial Star Destroyer under the command of the ruthless Darth Vader. Before she is captured, Leia hides the plans in the memory system of Astromech droid R2-D2, who flees in an escape pod to the nearby desert planet Tatooine alongside his companion, Protocol droid C-3PO.

The droids are captured by Jawa traders, who sell them to moisture farmers Owen and Beru Lars and their nephew Luke Skywalker. While Luke is cleaning R2-D2, he discovers a holographic recording of Leia requesting help from an Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Luke wakes to finds R2-D2 missing. He therefore sets off in his Landspeeder with C-3PO to try and find the missing droid.

THE PATROL PHASE

The terrain was laid out to represent the desert area around the Lars moisture farm. Both sides started the Patrol Phase in opposite corners, and ended with three Jump-Off Points placed as shown on the map. No JOPs were permitted on or next to the Escape Pod.

FORCES

The Empire fielded an Imperial Officer, Stormtrooper Lieutenant, Comms Officer and four Stormtrooper Squads, and an AT-ST. The Rebels fielded Princess Leia, a Rebel Officer, Adjutant, Medical Droid, three Rebel Trooper Squads, a Fleet Trooper Squad, and a Wookiee Squad. The Rebels started with a Force Morale of 9, the Empire with 8.

OBJECTIVE

For the Rebel cause to succeed, the Rebels, led by Princess Leia, have to recover the Death Star plans contained in R2-D2’s memory system. They also have to find the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and the young Luke Skywalker, not yet aware of his Force abilities, and persuade them to join the Rebel cause.

Although the Empire believe their Death Star is invulnerable, they don’t want the plans to fall into Rebel hands. The Empire must therefore recover the plans, at any cost. They also wish to capture Rebel officers for “interrogation” by Darth Vader.

The locations of Luke, R2-D2, Obi-Wan and the Sand Worm pit, as shown on the map, were unknown to both sides.

BATTLE REPORT


The Rebels started, deploying Black Squad behind the small hill in G1, and Blue Squad on Overwatch in the cacti in J4.

The Empire responded, deploying Green Squad in the cacti in E3, and opening fire on the Rebel Squad in the cacti, killing one Trooper. The Rebel team on Overwatch fired back, but failed to hit anything.

The Rebels then commanded Black Squad to head for the moisture farm, so they left their cover and ran towards the hill to the west (this turned out to be a really bad idea). Leia also deployed, joining Blue Squad.

Wanting to seize the advantage, the Empire then brought on their AT-ST, which combining with their Stormtrooper Squad in the cacti, laid heavy fire onto the Rebel Blue Squad and Leia, causing casualties and shock. Rather than firing at the Stormtroopers, the Rebels tried repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, to take out the AT-ST. But unfortunately their Ion Rifle had no effect against the AT-ST’s armour.  

The Rebels to the north continued their advance towards the hill and the moisture farm beyond, but failed to reach it, becoming stranded in the open. The Wookiees deployed on the small hill to add much needed Rebel firepower. But failed to do any real damage.

More Stormtroopers joined the first squad, together with a Senior Leader with his Comms Officer. These opened fire on the Rebel Squad stuck in the open whilst trying to climb the hill. The Rebels took significant shock, which although not enough to pin them, prevented them from climbing the hill (in addition to movement losses due to shock, they also lose 2 pips/dice due to the hill). The Rebel Officer joined this group to help motivate them, but failed.

Whilst the firefights continued, the Empire deployed a Squad of Stormtroopers in the south, to start the search for the objectives (although they were miffed they couldn’t join in the Turkey shoot).

On entering the palm grove near the Tusken camp, the Stormtroopers discovered R2-D2, and more importantly, the Death Star plans. The Empire had achieved their key objective. Extra rations all round tonight!

Things started to get a lot worse for the Rebels.

Blue Squad leader took a wound, rendering him out of action, and from here on, Leia spent most of her activations repeatedly removing Shock, which was all put back on in the Empire’s next phase.

The Rebel Squad in the open near the hill quickly, despite being Tactical, had eventually become pinned, with the attached Senior leader also taking a wound and put out of action.

The Empire deployed a fourth squad in a small palm grove, who immediately spotted Luke and C-3PO in their Landspeeder in the moisture farm. Their second objective was in sight.

The Wookiees started to advance, also hoping to find one of the objectives. However, the Squad being commanded by Leia finally became pinned. Things had gone from bad to worse.

With two leaders down, two squads pinned, and casualties mounting, the Rebels decided to make a Voluntary Withdrawal.

Red and Black Squads and the Wookiees managed to safely withdraw, taking Luke & C-3PO with them. Unfortunately, Leia and the remnants of Blue Squad were captured by the Empire. (Mutterings were overheard amongst the Stormtroopers about who would be first to “probe” Leia.)

Obi-Wan managed to avoid capture and made his way out of the Tusken camp to join up with the remains of the Rebel force. He was heard muttering “Things would have gone differently if I’d still been in charge”.

CONCLUSION

An Empire victory (All Hail the Emperor!), with the Rebels voluntarily withdrawing, leaving Leia, R2-D2 (and the Death Star plans), a wounded Squad Leader plus the last four of his men, in the hands of the Empire.

These will now be transported to the Empire’s nearby Imperial Fortress to await the arrival of Lord Vader, who is on his way to Tatooine, who will personally interrogate Princess Leia.

The Rebels have an opportunity to intercept the convoy and attempt to rescue the prisoners before the Empire transport reaches the Fortress.

With Leia captured, and Luke still not aware of his Jedi ancestry, the Rebel force (or what’s left of it) will be led by General Kenobi (retired).

Rob