Friday, 28 December 2018

Trench Hammer Again

We're in that strange Christmas/New Year period at the moment where out club activities are a little erratic. Unsure if our venue was even open this week, and seemingly with only Caesar and myself actually available we held our last meeting of the year at my house. I taught Caesar to play Trench Hammer, since that's what's currently set up on my table.

He took a reinforced British platoon - rifle, bomber, Lewis and rifle-grenade squads, supported by an extra bomber squad and an assault squad - whilst I had an emplaced machine-gun plus a rifle squad and MG08 squad entrenched in support.

I didn't take many photos. Caesar picked up the rules fairly quickly, which is not unreasonable since they're pretty simple. Despite the simplicity they do offer plenty of decisions. Caesar's initial advances were badly shot up, and an attempt to flank the German position with the assault squad also ended in abject failure.

His success came on the other flank where a bomber squad supported by fire from a Lewis gun on a hill pushed the Germans out of their position before ousting the machine-gun as well. The German squad was soon shot up, but the machine-gun hid behind a low rise to rally. Unfortunately I ended up in a  position where I couldn't support it back into its emplacement, and when Caesar finally ousted my second rifle squad I capitulated.

Caesar had all of his squads badly shot up and lost three out of six of them, so the Germans gave a good account of themselves. The game is prey to wild swings of fortune, but that's really the nature of this style of combat, so it's not unreasonable. Having a plan and a reserve always counts for something, though.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Trench Assault

The rolling barrage has passed over the British trenches, and the shaken handful of front-line defenders emerge, shocked and stunned, awaiting the inevitable German attack and hoping that their reinforcements from the lines to their rear show up in time ...

Off we go with a post-Christmas game of Trench Hammer, this time featuring the Germans on the offensive against a British trench.

The British had a rifle squad, and Lewis squad and a Vickers machine-gun on their front-line. A rifle squad, Lewis squad and bomber squad were in reserve, off table. The Germans were assaulting with two MG08/15 squads, three bomber squads, a rifle-grenade squad and an assault squad.

The initial bombardment barely troubled the British. I pushed forward rapidly with the Germans, aiming to get as many units into assault range as possible.

The British threw back the German right, and quickly pinned down the German left.

But the British line was thinly manned, and a squad of Germans rushed through to the trenches. I wasn't sure exactly how to cover fighting along a trench, so decided to give both sides the trench bonuses (+3 for cover and only take half damage), but limit all combat to a 3" range.

The Germans assaulted along the trench, but the British forced them out.

They then laid down a withering fire on the squads attacking their front.

A German assault on the machine-gun was driven off as well.

The assault troops failed to trouble the Vickers.

The British reinforcements turned up almost immediately. I abandoned the German attack, as they'd not even dented the British line at this stage.

I set up the game again, moving one set of shell-holes to add some extra cover on the German left. The Germans attacked there with two MG08/15 squads and two bomber squads.

On the other flank their attack was less intensive; the rifle-grenades took up a firing position whilst the assault squad rushed right up to the British trench under the cover of some shell-holes.

On their left the German attack across open ground was badly shot up. But they laid down some fire on the British in return.

The bombers went in, but were driven off. However it left the British badly shaken.

The assault squad attacked on the right, but were forced to retreat.

The Germans kept up the pressure on their left.

The British officer fell trying to rally the rifle squad.

The Germans brought up an MG08/15 squad to support the assault troops on the right.

Their fire gave the assault squad the opening it needed to rush the British trench, and drive back the defenders.

An overview. On their right the Germans had a foothold in the British trench, although they had really only forced the defenders to retreat with very little in the way of casualties. On their left sustained attacks had destroyed the defenders of that section of the trenches, and the Germans were regrouping prior to moving forward to occupy them. The Vickers was still holding out in the centre, despite having take a few hits.

The Vickers failed to shoot up a bomber squad. But in the distance another squad was rushing into the trenches.

The British counter-attacked on the German right, and threw the assault squad out.

The Germans entered the trenches on their left. But they got some terrible command rolls, and couldn't bring up any support. This squad was on its own.

The British back in position on the German right. They inflicted more hits on the assault squad too.

The Vickers crew got their eye in, and cut down the bomber squad that was still caught in the open.

On the other flank the Germans threw in a squad to try and push out the shaken, but defiant rifle squad in that section of the trench, but failed to oust them.

The Germans, led by a doughty sergeant, attacked the Vickers, but it held them off.

The British reserves were now arriving. Just a bomber squad at first, but it was sufficient to provide some relief for the Vickers crew.

They drove back the Germans.

But were driven back in turn by a counterattack.

The Germans made one more attempt to take out the Vickers, as it was hindering their chances of bringing up any support.

They were thrown back again, and both the sergeant and their officer fell.

British reserves on the other flank put in some steady fire against the rifle-grenades, and eliminated them.

The British bomber squad attacked again. their officer fell in the fighting, but their attack was enough to scatter the Germans in the trenches.

With the whole trench-line back in British hands, and their few remaining squads all badly shot-up, the Germans withdrew. Their initial success was hindered by some bad command rolls at the point where they needed to reinforce it, plus a couple of terrible combat rolls in assaults. The British infantry squads put up a good fight, but were eliminated through sheer firepower. The Vickers was seemingly unable to hit anything at range, but held off a number of close assaults, and probably saved the British position. Medals all round for those guys (one of whom could have been my grandfather).

This was a more interesting game than I first thought. The scenario doesn't offer hard and fast numbers for the troops, so I just went with what seemed reasonable, but I didn't feel the balance was too off. The game can hinge on wild strokes of fortune anyway, especially the arrival of the British reserves, so wouldn't be easy to balance.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Christmas Haul

Once again it's time to remember that day John McClane saved the Nakatomi Plaza hostages.

Yes, It's Christmas.

Here in Australia the big day has been and gone, and this year I got a decent gaming-related haul. First up is the most recent in Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame books, 'Gridded Naval Wargames'. I'm not sure I have any immediate plans for this - I already have too many projects occupying my time - but I've skimmed through it and there's a ton of useful stuff in it.

I thought that it was about time I backed up my English Civil War gaming with a bit of background knowledge. I don't really know the wider history of the conflict - my reading has been focused more on battles and the troops - so I decided to rectify that. I wanted a simple, single-volume history that would give me a basic overview of why things were happening, and settled on these two, mostly because they were cheap. 

I got two boardgames. 'Codenames' is one some friends of ours have which we've enjoyed a lot, so I was very happy to find myself the owner of a copy. In it players form two teams. One person in each team has to guide the others to a group of friendly secret agents hidden in a grid of words (the Codenames) whilst avoiding revealing the enemy agents, the innocent bystanders or, worse, the deadly assassin. It's a simple game that you should be able to get most people to play, but the large number of word and different grid layouts give it a lot of replay value.

I played 'Citadels' at the library a month or so ago, and wanted a copy. My son got it for me, and as a bonus it's the full-fat deluxe edition. Players compete to build the best Medieval city, aided by various characters and their special abilities. Each game has a particular set of characters, but which character a player has changes from turn to turn - do you select the Architect this turn to get in some serious building, or is it more important that you use the nasty Warlord to destroy part of a rivals city?

 We played a couple of games of it yesterday  (one before and one after Christmas dinner) and had a great time.

The artwork is gorgeous.

My daughter got One Night Werewolf, and we played a few rounds of that as well, laughing gleefully as our neighbour, a non-gamer who'd joined us for dinner, was revealed to be a werewolf and was marched off to the gallows.

My top present of the year was this wonderful action figure of everyone's favourite movie Avenger, 'Fun Telephone'. Seems legit. 

Of course it was a time for family, although owing to his work-shifts Cei couldn't be with us (we had a pre-Christmas dinner with him last week). Catherine spent part of the day as an elf.

And our newest family member, Miller, enjoyed the festivities as well.

Hope you all had a great time with your friends and family, however you chose to spend it.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Basing Paper Figures

Someone asked me how I base my Junior General paper figures, so I though I'd show the process I'm using for the WW1 platoons I've been putting together for Trench Hammer.

Here are the figures as they are printed off. In fact I do a sheet of figures - enough for a platoon plus plenty of support weapons - in one go. I cut these out from one such sheet.I use 160gsm paper. The printer can take it with no difficulty and it makes the figures nice and sturdy.

As you can see they are a front and back view, 'hinged' at the base.

I scored along the line so I could fold the figures in half.

I then brushed on a think layer of PVA to glue the halves together.

Whilst the glue dried I made the base - a 25mm square of mounting board and a 1cm square. A 1cm square gives the right spacing for the figures. Using board in a suitable colour saves on any painting.

Once the PVA was dry I cut round the outline of the figures, although I leave a bit of the white background since (i) it's easier and (ii) there's no guarantee that the two halves have lined up.

Here's the cut out figures.

The final stage is the basing. Sometimes I use the brush and small amounts of PVA, but in this case I just put a blob on the large piece of card and stuck on the small piece. The overflow ...

... can then be used to stick the figure on the base, using the small piece of card as a support.

And the same for the figure on the other side.

In fact a blob of PVA will hod a figure without support, and I've done that with some of the officers, but a support is better.

The finished base. I have started colouring the white edges of the bases in a coloured crayon. Paint will work too, but the crayon gives a softer approximation of the base colours and takes less time and effort.

My other paper armies are done in a similar way, except that the figures are supported by pieces of matchstick. I decided to use card for these because the matchstick has to be cut (fiddlier than card) and then has to be painted (more time). Card was a lazy solution, and seems to work just as well.
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