Showing posts with label colonial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label colonial. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Great War

Gary brought along his copy of Richard Borg's 'The Great War' this evening, the latest installment in the Command and Colours series. It's a beautifully packaged game, with the usual hex-grid, terrain tiles and cards, as well as some lovely 15mm hard plastic figures, representing British and German soldiers on the Western Front in WW1.

He and Caesar set up the first hostorical scenario, based on a British attack during the Battle of Loos in 1915. The game has scenarios covering Loos, the Somme and Vimy Ridge - three or four for each battle.

It uses the standard Command and Colours mechanisms of card play, unit activation and board sectors, but has some additions. There are now two types of cards; the normal cards and extra tactics cards which add bonus actions or events to your turn but which cost HQ tokens to play. HQ tokens are a new addition, being a limited, but renewable resource that can be spent to play certain cards or perform actions such as order artillery barrages.

Here's the British ready to go over the top. In the starter game all on-table units are infantry; future expansions will cover tanks, cavalry and aircraft. Units are basic infantry, machine-guns, mortars and bombers (which are a token added to a normal infantry unit to enhance its close combat ability).

Some of the German defenders - a machine-gun.

The British get victory medals for having units in the German trench-lines at the start of their own turn. However the Germans can 'buy' victory medals when they play a Recon card, so the British are on a time-limit to stop the Germans winning through British inactivity.

The British attack exploited holes in the wire made by the initial artillery barrage (a neat and simple mechanism in its own right).

Germans line the trenches. I forget who won this first game. Gary got his British into the first trench-line, but the Germans managed a vigorous counter-attack.

Meanwhile Ralph and Bryan played Flames of War, with a scenario involving a German attack on a British beach-head.

Ralph's tanks. Not burning.

Dave and Geoff gave Phil Barker's 'Horse, Foot and Guns' a try.

Their armies were an odd mix of available colonial figures, so a British army with Arab allies fought Zulus with Boer allies.

Apparently HFG gave a fairly entertaining game, with no real difficulty in  the rules. Sounds like it might be making a return appearance.

Then it was time for my go at The Great War. We did the same scenario, with Caesar playing the British and me the defending Germans.

Caesar managed an effective initial barrage to create a few useful openings. He then got a great run of cards in his opening moves and managed to push rapidly, and in great force, into the first German trench-line. I pretty much sat and watched him do it.

Once in he ousted the troops I had there. The game was seriously looking like a whitewash, with the Germans set to impersonate an Australian cricket team.

I rallied, consolidated and threw every useful card I could at the British. Caesar held the first line in strength, but couldn't manage an organised assault on the second line. Time ticked on, and I started to pick up victory medals - one of them purely because time was ticking on.

In the end Caesar managed to get troops into my second line on the flanks, leaving me trying to oust him with every resource at my disposal. At one stage I came within a couple of shots of picking up the last medal I needed to win (albeit that I needed some lucky rolls), but a coordinated machine-gun barrage in the centre inflicted enough casualties on the Germans to give him a narrow victory, 6 medals to 5.

The Great War is an interesting game, with some excellent ideas and mechanisms in it. The cards are quirky, and good combinations of the normal cards and tactics cards can be deadly. However deadly is what you need, as the defensive terrain - mostly trenches, obviously - is tough to take on. It's less abstract than the games I own (Memoir '44 and Battle Cry), but retains their elegance and simplicity. One we shall have to play again.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

An Interlude In The Art Gallery

I had a day off work today; I was supposed to be meeting up with a friend in Sydney, but she had a family bereavement and had to cancel on me. However once I have a day off work booked I get psyched up, so I decided to go up to the big city anyway.

I spent some of it at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which is a nice place to go as they allow you to take photos. Which is what I'm going to share with you - a few photos of the exhibits which you might enjoy.

Specifically there's one for Ralph in our gaming group, who's more of an Aussie newbie than even I, and may not have seen it yet. But first - this:

It's one of my favourite paintings in the gallery. The first time I went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales I know I made what my daughter would call 'sqeee' noises when I saw it, because it was a painting I recognised from various Zulu War books. It's Alphonse de Neuville's 'The Defence of Rorkes Drift'. Enjoy. I only have to go up the road (relatively speaking) to enjoy it for real.

And for Ralph?


And here it is. I've seen these pictures in books, but I'm still gobsmacked at how big this is. So I wanted to include a person for scale in my photo. Of course, what happens when you try and take a photo of a painting someone's standing next to is that they politely move out of the way. In the end one of the gallery assistants took it for me, so I was able to use my lovely alter-ego, Rachel, for scale. 5' 8", plus a bit for the heels.

And then I stepped back to get a less blurry, full view photo of the painting. And someone ended up in shot. He appears to be 5' 8", but without heels.

Anyway, Ralph, if you haven't been to see this particular painting yet, you now know where to go. Full Details.

In other gaming news I bought a copy of Tsuro.

Monday, 11 June 2012

55 Minutes At Peking

No, sadly not a post about the classic participation game put on by the Staines Wargamers in the 1980s, albeit a great game to both look at and play.

No, I thought I'd celebrate the day off we get for the Queen's birthday by playing some Victorian colonial HOTT; there's a tenuous connection if you want to work it out, but I won't bother explaining the workings of my mind on this.

Of course the only Victorian colonial HOTT I have is my Boxer Rebellion matched pair. I don't really hold with the idea that HOTT is some kind of universal rules set, and that you can play 'real' colonial games with it. However there are some amazing accounts of the Boxer Rebellion from the contemporary Chinese perspective which look at how magic played a major part in it. And that gave me enough material with which to create two fantasy armies which have a Boxer Rebellion theme about them. This isn't colonial warfare using HOTT; this is a fantasy battle using armies with a 19th century colonial motif :)

I put together the Boxers about ten years ago, but only finished the opposing Foreign Devils a couple of years ago. This in turn led to a reorganisation of the Boxers to give a fairer game (part of the fun of matched pair armies, a concept that I really need to do a post about one day). I'm still tweaking them. So today's game was a test.

The Foreign Devils defended.

On their left were the Bengal Lancers (Knights) plus Japanese and Russian infantry (Blades).

The centre consisted of a group of naked women to disrupt the Boxer magic (Cleric), plus the artillery (Artillery, of course, and also the general).

To the left of centre, American and Italian troops (Shooters) moved through a village. Behind them is Bishop Favier. Really. He was 200 year old devil prince, if some Chinese sources are to be believed.

On the far left was the British naval landing party (Warband).

The main Boxer force - warriors (Warband) supported by Red Lantern Auxiliaries (Magician and Flyer).

On the Boxer left, on the other side of a hill (more on that later), was their main attack force - more Boxer warriors, plus 10' tall bullet-proof Peking Boxers (Behemoth) and Imperial regulars (Shooters).

The initial approaches were cautious. The Boxers advanced on their left, aiming to overwhelm the Russians and Japanese, but also pushed forward to grab the village before the Americans and Italians got into position on its outskirts.

Well, that plan failed. The Boxers come under fire.

But they also attack the British naval contingent.

And push through to the village, only to be repulsed.

The slow advance of the Boxer left allowed the Foreign Devils to reinforce the Japanese Russians and lancers with Bishop Favier. He's a Hero, and immediately got stuck into the Peking Boxers.

But the Peking Boxers saw him off, and went for the steadfast Russians. Who saw the Boxers off.

And here's how the battle stood at that point. There'd been lots of fighting but, as yet, neither side had lost any elements.

The British in danger! A Red Lantern moves in on their flank, whilst Boxers attack them relentlessly.

Meanwhile the Boxers fail to make any headway on their left.

A fierce charge fails to impress the Japanese.

Disaster! The Royal Navy are wiped out.

But Bishop Favier finally defeats the Peking Boxers after the Bengal Lancers help him out.

The Boxers attack again on the left, with the Red Lantern now supporting them, having switched flanks. But the stolid Japanese and Russians hold their ground.

Meanwhile the Italians and Americans hold off the Boxers, with some artillery support.

The Bengal Lancers kill the Red Lantern.

Whilst the Italians wipe out a final, desperate, Boxer assault on the village.

The Foreign Devils attack the Boxer left, to little effect.

In the centre the Boxers try a desperate attack - the Red Lantern Magician attacks the Foreign Devils general - and kills him.

Unfortunately at the same time the Boxer infantry on the left over-stretches themselves, and falls foul of the Bengal Lancers. And the loss of those two elements is enough for their army to break and flee.

The final position. The Boxers lost three Warband, a Flyer and a Behemoth, mostly to, or with the assistance of, the Bengal Lancers. The Foreign Devils lost two Warband and their Artillery general.

This was a pretty exciting game, which could have gone either way. Indeed had the Boxers been more on the ball at deployment time I think that they could have grabbed a victory here. They had problems with the general having to command the main attack on the Foreign Devils' right from behind a hill, which meant a high PIP cost. And, at the same time, a demonstration in front of the village to pin the troops there turned into an attack as well, meaning that the Boxers were really trying to attack all along the line, but in three groups rather than one solid line. The Boxers got an advantage on their right, but couldn't exploit it because at the same time they were spending PIPs to prevent a total collapse of their left. The Foreign Devils rolled well for PIPs, and got several useful sixes in combats that either prevented them from losing elements or allowed them to kill Boxer elements.

The Bengal Lancers were the quiet heroes of the game, destroying a couple of Boxer elements and helping with the destruction of others. The Russians and Japanese were the anvil to their hammer, whilst Bishop Favier ran around looking busy (although he did eventually kill the Boxer Behemoth).

Still, I think the army balance is about right. Astute observers will notice that the Boxer Warband are based as Hordes. Well, that's what they originally were, but it really didn't work for them. So for play balance purposes I've been trying them as Warband, albeit ones on an over-depth base. And it seems to work; the Boxers are faster than the Foreign Devils, but lack their resilience.

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