Saturday, April 28, 2018

CIC vs GHQ

     Micro-Armour: The Game is my new favorite, you know, game. We are fortunate here in the US to have two good suppliers of 1/285 scale armor: CinC and GHQ. I've tried them both now, starting with a couple of GHQ's "Combat Commands" and filling in gaps as needed with both additional GHQ models and CinC.
     I gotta tell ya, after all is said and done, I've become an immediate CinC man. Here's how the companies stack up against each other.

Model quality: GHQ wins. Their models are more detailed. They're just better, not by a huge amount, but significant enough to give GHQ a clear edge.

Affordability: CinC, hands down! The GHQ models may be better, but they're not twice-the-price-better. Not by a long shot. For example, my next purchase will include 12xSherman tanks. From GHQ, I'm looking at $36. From CinC: $21. Both come in packs of 5, so I'll have a couple left over no matter who I go with.

Extensiveness of Line: GHQ wins. Sometimes you just have to go with GHQ. For example, I recently needed a German Wespe and a US M7 Priest, neither of which are carried by CinC.

Responsiveness: Service from CinC is outstanding. I placed my order on their website and my order was acknowledged via e-mail. The CinC guy states his production and shipping schedule in writing on his site. True to his word, my order arrived less than 2 weeks from when I placed it. I've never ordered directly from GHQ and, frankly, I'm a little afraid of doing so. Recently, I tried to register for their forum (to answer a GHQ customer's question -- God forbid anybody from GHQ should bother!) but received an error message. Repeated e-mails to GHQ were ignored. I'm always wary of old companies run by old men (like me!) who simply no longer give a rip (also like me). But as long as I can get GHQ merchandise through Noble Knight, GHQ remains a viable option.

But to be Fair: GHQ has a lot of freebies on their site, including the Micro-Armour Rules, so maybe I shouldn't complain too much.

     But regardless, the bottom line is this: The affordability of CinC models makes them irresistible and the hands-down winner in this competition.
     A picture is worth 1,000 words, so skip everything I've written so far and just look at the pictures. (Now he tells me!)

From left to right: GHQ Wespe; CIC PzIV; CIC Panther; GHQ M7 Priest. Can you tell the difference? For almost half the price, I can't. 

The same as above, only mostly unpainted. The bridge is from GHQ, which also arrived unpainted. The roadway between the two stone supports is not provided. A piece of cardboard and some construction paper works okay. I think it was something like $6-$7.  I threw it into my Noble Knight order to help defray shipping (which was only $4 anyway). I'm in the 2-day shipping zone from all three companies. 
GHQ German 81mm mortars on the left. German 75mm AT gun on the right (from CinC). I only needed 1 gun, so bought a pack of 3 for $4.50. From GHQ, I would have had to buy 2 guns + transport vehicles and crew -- for $12.00. Easy choice in my world. Also, some paper buildings I downloaded from GHQ's website. Some of their value-added freebies.  
Some forested areas I made from coasters, and Woodland Scenics Tree Armatures and flock and other stuff. Once everything is set, I spray them with Elmer's Spray Glue to keep them from shedding. They'll shed anyway, but the spraying helps. In Micro-Armour: The Game, each depicts an area of 400x400 meters.  

     Until next time, wargamers, don't take any wooden nickels!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

IT'S HAMMERTIME!

WARHAMMER, THAT IS...

     I've never been into Warhammer. I've always been aware of it, in a vague kind of way. My first real exposure was in 2013 or so when I bought a "Space Hulk" computer game on Steam. I loved it, more for the "lore" than the gameplay.
     I'm not sure you can really call it "lore," though, as it amounted to little more than random canned comments from the Space Marines: "For the emperor!" they would cry with excruciating sincerity. At times, they would invoke the gods of their technology. I found it intriguing, this mixture of "Alien" high-techiness and primitive superstition, all finely balanced right on the sweet edge between the horrifying and the absurd.
     Well, this month, I have succumbed. Further resistance was futile. For me, it is indeed Hammertime. And high time, too.
     Except for a few practice rounds, I have yet to actually play the game. I'm still not done painting my Death Guard figures, perhaps the epitome of the wonderfully horrifying absurdity of the Warhammer universe.

Lord of the Flies: a Plague Marine. 32mm of pure awesomeness.

A Primarus Inceptor sergeant, armed with dual Assault Bolters and propelled by Heavy Jump Packs.
Captain Acheron, armed with a Boltstorm Gauntlet and Power Sword. He'll need whatever he can get when he faces Gulgoth the Afflictor. 
Intercessors and Hellblasters. For the Emperor!
The maggoty foe: Poxwalkers! 
Another. The Poxwalkers have a kind of "The Thing" motif going for them. They seem to be always in the act of becoming something else, sprouting horns and tentacles all over the place. Spilling guts only adds to their charm.
     I'll go into this further in another post. We'll take a look at the 8th Edition rulebook and some of the wonders contained therein.
     Until then: Don't take any wooden nickels!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

UNLEASH THE HOUNDS

GHQ Micro-Armour: The Minis, the Game, the Legend 
Or, the American company that puts "U" in armor. Yes, really -- and I'm not just being humourous

     I've gone through a number of gaming options these past few months -- boardgames on various topics, horse-and-musket mini games, cowboys and Indians, frontiersmen and Indians, Indians and Indians... All have been satisfying to a greater or lesser degree, some far lesser than others, believe me. But I haven't been so excited about a game in a long time as I am about my current passion, GHQ's Micro-Armour The Game. (I can't believe they call it that -- and I don't mean just the "U" in armour this time. The Game? Really? That's all you could come up with?)
     I've known about these guys for years, of course, ever since I bought my first PzIVHs and Shermans back in the 80s at the suggestion of my Advanced Squad Leader Rulebook. (I'm such a tool.) Irresistible miniatures. I painted them, loved them, kept them warm, but never really played with them. Well, now by chance I have rediscovered them -- and GHQ, the company. I'm happy and a little surprised frankly that the firm still exists -- though it would seem just barely.
     Since the rules are a free pdf download, I had nothing to lose in trying. So I jumped in.
     To start, I bought "Combat Command" packs for both American and German forces. Armo(u)red Infantry for the Amis, an Armored (or Armoured, sorry) Recon Battalion for Jerry. They are awesome vehicles. I've always loved the look of WWII armored cars, the U.S. M8 Greyhound is a particular favorite. And who can resist a German Puma? Ever since "The Puma Prowls" I've been in love with that vehicle. Hey, when you're an armored car and you get your own Squad Leader scenario, you know you've got it going! The infantry figures are amazing, too.
     Well, that's a rather long build up to today's main event -- an AAR of one of my first games. The scenario I concocted from whole cloth involves American and German recon forces, no heavy tanks at all. Unbeknownst to the Germans, an American recon patrol has secured a village ahead of a general advance. The Americans must hold until reinforcements arrive.
     Let's see how it goes:

Village, woods, stream, road. I will swap out the road during play. I found this one too wide. Neatly cut, but too wide for the ground scale. Speaking of which, ground scale is 1"=100 meters (or metres), and 3 mins per turn. 

     The village is occupied by 2 infantry platoons, 3 M8 Greyhounds, and a Mortar carrier.

The Greyhound prowls. High velocity 37mm gun. 
This weekend's task is to make new roads. 

     I've based my units on clear acrylic bases so you can see the terrain beneath. When a unit is in terrain, I put a square of green beneath it and move the terrain aside a little. Some rules in MATG require markers to be placed under bases, so this works great! Plus, I'm not a big fan of base modeling. I'm more of a playuh than a craftuh.

Oblivious German 222, equipped with a 20mm gun. The Greyhound opens up at 500 yards.
Scratch one 222. 
Another German AC goes up in smoke. An 81-mm Mortar starts lobbing shells on the road. The Germans begin to suspect the enemy occupies the village and means to hold it.
A game of cat-and-mouse begins in the village. 

The Puma with mortar shells falling nearby.

A second Greyhound opens up from a wood.
M4MMC mortar carrier firing out the back of the vehicle from behind the village.
End of turn view.

German Recon infantry + a MG platoon in halftracks with 75mm and mortar carrier support.
The Puma braves the mortar barrage in attempt to cross the bridge. Instead, it is suppressed by the shelling and loses a movement cohesion roll. It'll sit for now. 
Cat-and-mouse continues. That 20mm gun is a pea-shooter, though.
US reinforcements awaiting my d6 to enter.
Another end-of-turn view. The cat-and-mouse is going the way of the Greyhound. May be time for Jerry to give up on this dog-and-pony show...Or something... Wrecked German ACs are starting to pile up all over the battlefield.

The streets of Schnitzelburgheim.
Here comes the cavalry! (Or, as they say on the Internet, "Calvary.")
The Puma put a "D" on one of the M8s. One of the German 234 ACs threatens the American left flank.
A company of infantry disembarks just outside Schnitzelburgenheimerstein. 
The other company, still mounted in HTs, reinforce the American left flank.
German halftracks.

Threatened by a German AC, the US mortar had to stop firing to relocate. 
End of turn view.
US Infantry enter the village. German 222 pulls out.
Both German platoons are Disorganized before their attack hardly begins. Call in some mortar fire!
The German mortar carrier. Ready for action.
A smoke round lands 200 yards off-target, falling uselessly in the middle of nowhere. One of the two German recon infantry platoons is eliminated. It's game O-Vuh!
German casualties. 3x222, 2x234(20mm), 1xRecon Inf. Time to pull back and bring the tanks up! 
     It might not have been the most balanced scenario of all time. I did, after all, just throw it together to see how the game plays. Lots of fun, though. Simple and deep at the same time. But don't take my word for it. You can download the rules for free at GHQ's website.
     You can find free scenarios there too. I'll be back next time with "Abram's Folly," as soon as I buy enough additional units to play it.
     Until next time, don't take any wooden nickels!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TOWARD A MORE REASONABLE BAR

     Anyone who wants to add a little Frederician flavor to their next game of Battles from the Age of Reason, give these House Rules a spin, compliments of the My Daily Dragoon staff.

BAR HOUSE RULES

1) Attack column: Does not exist.

2) Square: A unit cannot enter square formation except as a Reaction move.

3) Reaction Moves: Units can react to the approach of enemy infantry in the same way as they can to enemy cavalry.

4) Target Size Fire Modifier: 1R per every 3 SPs above 6 in a hex.
0-6 = No Shift
7-9 = 1R
10-12 = 2R
13+ = 3R

5) During Fire Combat, units take a MC on both even and odd die rolls.

6) Close Combat: Only 4 Infantry SPs can attack/defend from a hex. 
Only 6 Cavalry SP s can attack/defend from a hex.
(All units in a stack share the same retreat/rout results.)



7) Infantry can stack and form line in 3 hexes, thus X-ST-X. (X = hex extended into. ST = 2 or more stacked units.) In this configuration, 5 SPs can fire/attack from a hex. (Otherwise, only 4 as normal -- or just make 5 the standard if that's easier.) Regardless of the size of the stacked units, spread the SPs as evenly as possible. (2 units of 700 each is spread 5-4-5.) A minimum of 4 SPs per hex. A stack must consist of at least 12 SP.
     When stacked, each unit is treated as a separate unit. When a Disorder Check is called for, each takes the check separately, etc.
     The unit on top of the stack is considered to occupy the left and middle hex. The unit on the bottom occupies the right and middle hex. If a middle hex is fired upon, randomly determine which unit takes a single hit. Split multiple hits evenly.

8) Army Morale: Keep track of casualties and morale on the brigade-by-brigade basis. Do not keep track of army morale or total casualties.
+5 to MC die rolls per 10% casualties. (For example, a brigade has 5 units of 6 SP each, for a total of 30 SP. When 15 SP have been checked off, all MCs for that brigade have a +25 ER modifier.)
+2 per Initiative level for a leader that is killed. (The death of a leader with a “4” Initiative incurs a +8 mod.)
Calculate morale at the beginning of each turn.



9) Command Control: An Out of Command Command Leader takes an Initiative check as normal to Activate. If it passes, its formation acts normally. If it fails, all units of this command (even units OOC) can make one action only – Change Facing (any number of hexsides), Change Formation, Move 1 hex (no facing change). Leader moves normally. Combat is unaffected. (So a unit could move 1 hex and engage in combat.)
     If a leader fails his initiative check by 1, roll a second die. If <= Initiative rating, the Leader's formation must Attack. All units move at top speed (use Rapid March, if possible) toward the nearest enemy and attempts to engage in Close Combat.
     If > Initiative Rating, the Leader's formation falls back. All units move away from nearest enemy. If facing the enemy, move backward. Otherwise, move normally (no Rapid March is required).

10) Automatic In Command: If all units of a command are in column formation, the command is automatically in command. Independent units in column/limbered can be included here.
     If >= ½ of the command's units are adjacent to an enemy unit, the command is automatically in command.

11) Light Infantry: Any fire combat number result obtained by Skirmishers, is not a step loss but a MC modifier. (Ex. A skirmisher unit scores a 3(!) against an enemy infantry. The enemy takes a MC with a +30 morale modifier and suffers no step loss. [I say (!) because it has actually happened. Yes, 300 men firing caused 300 casualties on a fresh unit...]) 




NOTES FROM THE HOUSE
1) Frederick actually got the idea for the Attack Column by witnessing it on the battlefield when something similar formed by accident. Thereafter, he considered it a "state secret" and would occasionally order assaults by cold steel alone, no firing allowed. These assaults were uniformly unsuccessful, with whatever success they achieved being due to supporting artillery fire and not the moral effect of the infantry charge.

2) Square was rarely used on the battlefield during the SYW and only then as a result of a cavalry attack on the flank of an infantry unit. The front of an infantry unit could easily repulse a cavalry charge and when charged in the rear, the rear rank would simply about-face.

3) If a defending unit can change facing to face a charging cavalry unit, it can turn to face the ponderous advance of an infantry unit, too. It's like being run down by a steamroller.

4) If you want to form 1600-man stacks in 100-yard hexes, have at it!

5) Not enough morale-checkin going on out there!

6 & 7) This is where we get back to linear warfare and not Napoleonic warfare. You can make frontage rules regarding 4-rank lines, too, if you want. I'd just be happy with the proper frontage for your basic Prussian infantry battalion. Sometimes, you learn to set the BAR low. (Get it?)

8) The extreme right flank doesn't always know what the left is doing.

9) The BAR command rules as written are backwards. In reality, it is hard to get a leader moving, but once engaged, hard to stop. In BAR, formations are easy to move around, harder to engage. The "failing by 1" thing is just for fun.

10) A body in motion stays in motion. A body in combat stays in combat.

11) A truer depiction of skirmishers than BAR's little killing machines.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

BORODINO 7AM


     What an eventful, and slightly crazy, first hour. Though making progress, the French are taking grievous losses to artillery fire -- mainly, but not only, from the Bagration Fleches. Their 12-hex range "Positional" artillery, the 27-18-9 guys, are killers. The French have lost a number of artillery increments to "ricochet" without ever having had a chance to unlimber. When that artillery chit is drawn, you can't help but wince a little.
     Here's the overall situation:


     The action is taking place in 3 sectors: Borodino, III Corps and the Fleches. Let's have a look at Borodino first.

THE BATHHOUSES ARE CLOSED!

   

     By rule, Infantry deployed in Skirmish formation must Retreat Before Assault. This spells trouble in a congested area like Borodino. After one of these retreats, the assaulting unit must advance and can, if there is a unit in front of it, declare that it is assaulting again. This led to multiple retreats and advances. This French battalion advanced all the way through the town and across the river, driving skirmishers before it. It is about to get a snootful of canister, though. Inside the orange square is one of those brutal 27 FP arty units. That'll be a 27:6 shot, +2 columns right, or -- gulp! -- 6:1. "Say 'ello to my little friend!"
     Red lines show French advances, light blue is a repulse along the steep bank, and yellow are Russian retrograde movements. Er, I mean "advances to the rear."

NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET



     III Corps is just beginning to come to grips with the enemy. Skirmishers exchange fire. The artillery slogs through the rough terrain. Marshal Ney, now Activated, will be bringing the rest of the III next turn. 

ARE YOU SURE IT'S NOT TIME FOR A COLORFUL METAPHOR?


The brown lines show where some units have taken shelter in a gully.

     Just as in the real battle, General Compans, leader of the 5th Division, goes down with a wound. But, hey, a little shrapnel in the head never hurt anybody. He'll be back in an hour. 
     But in the meantime, the 5th is nothing more than a Russian pinata. (A little cultural appropriation there, methinks). General Rapp, an ADC from Napoleon's staff, takes command (as he did historically). He's an excellent leader, so I think it's just about "go-time" for the 5th. (Davout, now also Activated, is bringing up the rest of the I Corps, too.)
     Earlier in the turn, the route through the woods to the flank of the Fleches was opened by a squadron of lancers. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here's how it went down.

LANCING A RUSSIAN BOIL




     Having last turn retreated before assault, this Russian Jaeger finds his hind end hanging out in midair. Something like that is hard to miss, and these Lancer's eyes light up like full moons. (Get it?) "Le Charge!!" they cry. 
     The Rooskies could have done a number of things, but they attempt to form square, which fails. This is actually a good thing, because the battalion "disrupts" back into the brush. The Lancers strike, but in the rugged terrain they are repulsed. 


     The French are calling this a moral victory, however, if not a decisive one. The path to the Fleches Flank is now open. 

     It is now 7AM. The Russians should have a nice response coming in the next hour. 
     Until then, don't take any wooden rubels!