Saturday, April 29, 2023

Here I Stand Again

In another mammoth effort at coordinating diaries of busy retirees we were again able to assemble, bar one, for a game of Here I Stand with Simon standing in for the Pope, Jeff as Francis I, Stephen as Sulieman the (mostly) Magnificent, Richard taking on the dual role of Henry VIII and Luther while I was the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.

The situation after the first turn.
The Ottomans have knocked out Hungary, initiating a war with the Holy Roman Empire.

As presented the images look more like a game of spot the difference,
A large part of Germany has been converted to Protestantism
or to be more accurate, lured away from the teachings of the Catholic Church.
More excitingly Sulieman has been captured as the HRE retake Buda.
Most other action has centred in the New World where explorers go to feed the natives.

At the end of the third turn we have a new pope 
who is trying to win back the doubters by burning books.
The dastardly British, after stopping Hungarians flocking to the HRE in the previous turn,
have seized Antwerp.  Methinks they are too close to the reformers...
The French and Spanish colonies pour in riches to their respective empires.
Even the Pope starts to build up in Italy, allying the Genoese.
After their set back at Buda the Ottomans are rebuilding.
However they suffered the loss of their corsairs off the Barbary coast,
when they lost the naval race (serious shipbuilding) to the HRE.

Additional Commentary from Richard

Turn 1

The Reformation started with more of a whimper than a bang, with the
just posted "Luther's 95 Theses" page failing to generate enough Likes
or subscriptions to spread much beyond Wittenberg. In fact after the
Diet of Worms the only thing"re-tweeting" in turn 1 was protestant spaces.

The Protestant was feeling generous to the Ottomans and decided not to
play "War In Persia" for the event. Surely this gesture would be repaid
in the future...

England and France agreed to a white peace. The Hapsburgs trapsed across
the Holy Roman Empire seizing the Independent Metz whilst France marched
into Italy for a Florentine gambit. The Papacy scored Genoa as an ally
and also started to prepare for a takeover in Florence. Who would get
there first? A Papal inspired Charles Bourbon lead a brief rebellion
outside Lyon, which was quickly crushed by France. A miffed Pope struck
back, excommunicating Francis.

England, with a hand of poor and few cards and powerful continental
rivals, slowly built up its forces in its European enclave Calais and
sent colonists to the New World.

Meanwhile, the Ottomans advanced into Hungary-Bohemia, seizing Belgrade
and then Buda and triggering a state of war with the Hapsburgs. In a
stroke of luck the Hapsburg explorer Narvaez with a negative exploration
modifier managed to discover the St Lawrence River whilst the
Conquistador Montejo with a plus 2 modifer was brutally killed by natives.

Turn 2 saw an undeterred Protestant continue to chip away and
protestantism went viral in German speaking areas as the Pope's
Indulgence Vending fund raiser, Eck ,failed to impress the judges enough
at the first theological debate with Tyndale in England. Putting their
differences aside, the Pope lifted the excommunication of Francis and it
looks like a deal has been done and France meekly allows Florence to
fall to the Papacy.

France contented themselves with building Chateaux and sending forth
colonists and explorers. Cartier discovered the Pacific Channel and made
an attempt at circumnavigation, but was roasted by cannibals en route.
Explorer for hire, Cabot, in French service discovered the Great Lakes.
Meanwhile Magellan was distracted by the Fountain of Youth, delaying his
expedition one turn. Not too bad really, what could possibly go wrong
for the highest rated (+4) explorer in the game....

The Barbary Pirates set up in Algiers and a despite almost no resistance
failed to gain anything from their attempted piracy. Elsewhere the
Ottomans made for Vienna to attack Charles V, but Suleiman was struck
with a bout of gout (Played by the Hapsburg) and was stuck in Buda for
the rest of the impulse. Seizing the opportunity. Charles V advanced to
Buda and following a field battle and in what can only be described as
an unexpected move, Suleiman, risking almost certain capture withdrew
behind the walls of Buda rather than retreat towards Belgrade and
safety. Without any prospect of relief and the Hapsburgs having at least
one shot at an assault in the remaining impulses before winter,
predictably, Buda fell to a Hapsburg assault and Suleiman was captured
and taken to Vienna.

With Charles and his army in Buda, the Protestant played his home card
to retrieve "Cloth Prices Fluctuate" and targeted the Hapsburgs with
unrest in Vienna and surrounds and forcing him to discard his last
remaining card. Ironically this was "John Zapolya", which if played
would have allowed the Hapsburg to fully rebuild the Hungaro-Bohemian
Army to full strength. With unrest in Vienna, Charles' army was also cut
off from that wintering route and 2 mercenaries suffered attrition. With
Suleiman captured in Vienna and precious little Ottoman forces between
the Hapsburgs and Istanbul, this was an unexpected reprieve for the
Ottomans, although the real purpose was to hinder the Hapsburgs in
reacting to the possible formation of the Schmalkaldic League in the
next turn and other possibilities...

With the Hapsburgs busy crushing the pirate threat and on the guard
against Suleiman and unable to quickly get the Spanish Netherlands due
to unrest in the Holy Roman Empire, England, with only 4 cards in total
to play with, made a big call and rather than advance Henry's marital
status by using his home card for that event, instead took the other
option on that card and declared war (other than in the diplomacy
phase)on the Hapsburgs and besieged Antwerp. Playing another precious
card, "Unsanitary Camp", the Hapsburg garrison was cut down by half and
then succumbed to the English assault. A key captured and a precious
extra card for England next turn, or maybe not...

Meanwhile, with Francis I unable to attend Mass and with no more lego to
build another castle, explorers to send to their deaths, and unwilling
to fight anyone other than put down a rebellion, decided to poke the
Lion and played "Revolt in Ireland" late in the turn, guaranteeing that
England would have 1 less card  next turn. Venice might well have its
bridge of sighs, but in England its just sighs...

Turn 3

In England Henry VIII was feeling the itch and moves were made to ask
the Pope to grant a divorce, which were dismissed out of hand. The
Ottomans payed a Ransom and Suleiman was released. Meanwhile Magellan
decided to continue his quest for the Fountain of Youth. No-one knows
what happened to him, but he apparently had stunning complexion. The
English colonists failed to produce anything (sigh), whilst the Hapsburg
and French colonies generated bonus cards.

Down 2 cards for this turn, one for loss of Buda and one lost to
ransoming Suleiman, the Ottomans only had 4 cards including their Home
Card.  Careful play would be required to make the most them.

For reasons known only to the Ottoman, they decided to play one of their
cards,"Indulgence Vendor" a 3CP card, for the event, taking a random
card from the Protestant and having its CP value added to the Papal St
Peter's building fund. Clearly the gaming gods were as unimpressed by
this move as the aghast Protestant, but in a stroke of poetic justice,
the card selected was a 1CP response card which at most could have
bought a few more lines of a bible translation.

Another Ottoman attempt at piracy on the Barbary coast resulted in no
gains and the Hapsburg played "Shipbuilding" to bolster his fleet and
then sailed to confront the pirates resulting in the destruction of
Barbarossa's fleet and Algiers only saved from capture by winter
looming. (That prayer room at the Vatican is looking like a worthwhile
investment now isn't it?...just sayin')

The Pope, unimpressed by the inferior quality marble sent by Suleiman to
decorate St Peter's, reinforced the Adriatic against piracy (like that's
going to happen...) building a fortress with play of "Trace Italienne"
(and putting that marble to good use too!). Elsewhere Eck debated
Tyndale again, but due to an error by the timekeepers, Tyndale wasn't
allotted enough time to make his rebuttal (didn't roll the correct
number of dice) and was burnt at the stake.

France basking in cards to spare and peace all around built more
chateaux. sent forth colonists and Roberval (who was "sadly" lost at
sea), more military units, and interestingly claimed a space in a
curious part of Italy adjacent to Florence. With the threat of
excommunication gone. (Francis can't be excommunicated again) and with
the possibility of the "Master of Italy" card coming up, perhaps France
is leaving their options open for a strike against the Papacy.

Down a card, but with the German speaking zone essentially fully
converted, the Protestant contented himself with continuing translations
and with nothing attractive in the discard pile to retrieve, Luther
debated Teztzel for the recovery of one more space lost to book burning
earlier in the turn.

The Hapsburgs and France send more colonists across the seas and they
along with England hope to reap a rich harvest of extra cards come turn 4.

Turn 4

With colonies maxed out, hopes are high for a return, the sighs of Henry
are drowned out by the guffawing of France and the Hapsburgs as all
their colonies produce cards and the English get nothing.

With the game now paused at the start of turn 4, just before cards are
dealt. The Hapsburgs will have 12 cards, France 7, Ottomans 5, Papacy 7,
Protestants 4 and England 3 cards).

Barring a co-ordinated Hapsburg pile on, the game isn't expected to last
past this turn or the next.

The Ottomans are in a very weak position with a small army camped
outside Prague their pirate fleets gone and Algiers ripe for invasion.

England is going to have to use one of its only 3 cards to move on Anne
Boleyn and try and produce a male heir, and with the reformation not
having touched its shores yet and having to put down the Irish revolt
and try and hold on to Antwerp and Calais all with the other 2 cards,
it's a tough ask!

With an unmolested Pope (now there's an oxymoron) the Papacy is well
placed and currently leading the VP total at 19, having secured an
enviable position in Italy picking up Genoa in the first turn and
striking a deal with France to get Florence and with the promise of
Jesuit Universities to come and even better debaters. If Master of Italy
comes up (a potential 2 VP based on current situation) and one or two
debate wins/building St Peters and more counter reformation, they are
poised to win at this stage if it comes down to VP. They need to buy time.

The Protestants are up against it, with the reformation yet to start in
England or France and the timing of the Schmalkaldic League card
uncertain, there doesn't seem to be a path to victory at this stage.

The Hapsburgs are spoilt for choice. Being 4 keys away from a military
victory and with a cornucopia of cards they have the most options. They
will easily secure Algiers and Prague this turn and the decision will be
whether to go for low hanging fruit in Italy and Southern France for a
win or press on crusader like to Istanbul and become master of Europe in
a military victory. A VP win is most definitely also an option, although
this will mean cutting down the front runners, France and the Papacy
just in case they sneak over the line before the necessary VPs can be

How the game ends, depends on France. Being 5 keys away from a military
victory, and with 17 VP they have two good complimentary paths to victory.

An exciting finish ahead, and I expect another game started before lunch
next session!

Moet and Chandon Man, eh Person, eh Thing

This is what happens when an acquaintance with an artistic bent wants to contribute to the hobby over dinner and a bottle of wine.

Shiny things can be hard to photograph,
but I hope some features are obvious.

And here they are with their paraphernalia
or if you prefer
here it is with its bits and bobs.

Most unlikely to reach the table top (again).
But you never know...

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Tiny Arnhem Campaign Turn 1 Second Battle

The battle of the tiny trees.

This is on the north edge of the map (see earlier post for full map)
Arnhem is a few hexes from the bottom of the image. 

Simon was horrified to find he did not have enough tiny trees to fill the table.
We would have to use our imaginations.
Arnhem (and the drop zone) is off to the left of the image.

This is my command, 2nd Battalion Kampfgruppe "Von Tettau".
Mark Woods commanded the 1st Battalion.
Brad commanded the paratroops who were somewhere in the woods

Found them!
But they pull back.

We advance, attempting to work around their flanks and cut them off from the drop zone.

The full weight of Kampfgruppe "Von Tettau" now comes into force
and we have them almost surrounded. 

But it was not to be, they find a gap in our lines and beat a speedy withdraw.
However we inflicted serious damage.
The paras were reduced from 11 platoons to just 3.
German losses were light with each battalion losing just one platoon.

A very exciting game, well constructed and umpired by Simon.

The final battle in Turn 1 is for Arnhem itself.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Stolberg Corridor - 15 September 1944

At this month's NWS Games Day we thought we'd have another game of Rommel.  This would be Senno again, unless I could find some time (which is a rare commodity in these days of retirement).  

Time is need to find a scenario (as that is what we like playing) and the fabulous HexesandMiniatures website provides an abundance of scenarios for Rommel.  Of course this means having to make a choice, but luckily after only short browse, I hit upon Stolberg Corridor.  This has long been of interest to me having been included as a short campaign subject in the Command Decision rules.

The terrain looked straightforward.

I quickly determined that I had suitable figures and models.

All I had to do was redraw the map for hexes.

That just left the labels, a more labour intensive job, with most of the effort going into finding suitable unit logos and fiddling with Microsoft Word to get everything aligned,

Simon declared he had a cunning plan and went the Germans.
Stephen took on the roll of commander 9th Panzer Division.
(Roll is the correct term as the job involved mainly rolling the dice)
For the US forces, Olivier commanded the 16th RCT
and I took the two Combat Commands of the 3rd Armoured Division.

The US forces as seen from the German lines.

Fighting commenced immediately for (left to right)
Brand, Kornelmunster and Zweital

The fight for Kornelmunster is turning out to be a real killing ground.
The US will prevail, but it will exhaust one of the Combat Commands.
Meanwhile the other Combat Command of the 3rd Armoured,
is trying to get round the flank of Ellensdorf.

The 16th RCT have worked round behind Vicht 
and have started to attack the panzers

3rd Armoured is nearly exhausted, but must press on.

In a surprise move, the panzers breakout of Vicht and head for Zweital.
To win the US need to hold five victory locations.
They hold four.
They stand a chance of taking Bausback in the centre,
but must somehow get troops back to Zweital.

The attack on Bausbach is proving hard work.
16th RCT keep busy with a belated attack on Mausbach

As the sun starts to set the 16th RCT make a desperate attack to remove the panzers from Zweital.
They succeed.

A decent attack is made on Ellensdorf,
but the defenders are too strong.

And the final attack on Bausbach pitters out...
It could have gone either way.

The game proved more balanced and intriguing than I expected (I was just happy to get my kit on the table).  Now I am really inspired to progress the Stolberg corridor mini campaign for Rommel.  Can I find the time?

Here are two supplementary images, close ups, from Stephen.

Additional supplementary photos from Stephen:

Friday, April 21, 2023

Snappy Practice

Getting ready for another mega Snappy Nappy game, a system that focuses on the campaign issues of Napoleonic warfare rather than the tactical.

We started off with a Darren innovation for SN - some fog of war.

Which cards represent troops and which are bluffs?

The Russians I am commanding were able to get nice and close before being revealed.

The action developed quickly

There was a bit of a prolonged fight...

But the Russians prevailed 
(on my part of the field at any rate).

Barbarossa - Turn Sixteen

 Actually got a full turn completed in a four hour (or so) session.

AGN starts its assault on Talin.

But Pskov must remain the immediate focus 
if AGN are going to make it to Leningrad.

AGC attacks everywhere.

But AGS contents itself securing the pockets and bringing up supply.

The big picture for AGN

The situation south of Pskov

Somewhere in the centre...
A crisis is approaching as the map edge is coming up soon.

AGS still have a way to go before they reach Kiev

Rumania is massing on the border.
On this part of the map roads are few
and railroad conversion progress will be critical.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Barbarossa - Vassal - Madness - Turn 9

The storms in the north develop into rain producing mud, but in the centre the weather clears to a nice dry July 8/9.  Will the rain be too late to save Daugavpils?  Conversely will the dry weather allow the Axis to cut off the Soviets as they escape from Minsk?

AGC sends six Luftwaffe units to AGN.  This will take a few days, but there seemed to be an imbalance in air asset allocation between the Army Groups.

AGN struggle in the mud to try and capture Daugavpils ,
they failed this time.

AGC tries to surround Minsk as the Soviets slip away.

Situation at the end of the turn.

It is hard to tell from these images, but the Soviets are strong in the north around Pskov, but weak in the centre.  However significant reinforcements are on their way.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Barbarossa - Vassal - Madness - Turn 8

And the weather is... Storms,  which is not so bad.

AGN mopping up in Courland

AGN starting the assault on Daugavpils

AGC northern Minsk pincer.

AGC southern Minsk pincer

AGN and the Baltic theatre.
Pskov seems to be the target,
but there is a good way still to go to get there.

Soviet Belorussian front sees the danger and orders a withdrawal from Minsk.
It will be a race to the Dnepr.