Friday, June 30, 2023

Vikings versus Old Saxons

This game featured repurposed Saga armies.  Mine was using sabots, but Dave had gone all out and rebased his.  His figure density gives a better look, but I am happy just to be getting some extra life out of my figures.

Terrain was sparse and I've even doctored the image of the wood to give it some more trees.

The Vikings hold back their centre.
Their heavy foot is significantly weaker than the Old Saxons.
It might not look it, but the Vikings have deployed as large units
to match the Old Saxons.
However the Saxons gain a benefit from this formation being classed as warbands (due to them being impetuous).  For the Vikings it just gives them a little bit of staying power.

Well, the Vikings get the first strike, but it doesn't go well.

But they press on and things develop somewhat.

Clash of the centres and the Viking hold, for now.

But with the Old Saxons throwing double or more dice than the Vikings,
and Dave's new lucky dice at that,
losses start to mount.
However the Vikings are cheap unlike their opponents.

Both sides came to within one unit of breaking,
but the force was with the Old Saxons.

A close up of the action

And a new figure in my collection,
rescued from discarded parts and restored to operational status.
I am going to call him Young Dave.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Barbarossa - Vassal - Madness - Turn 11

Slight delay while Army Group South plays catch up.  Vassal makes it all so easy.  As you will see/did see, with the physical game we have just completed another big map move.

While I will admit to getting confused between the Vassal game and the face to face game which uses slightly earlier rules and Order of Battle I think things are tracking okay.  I had a doubt about the  Soviet Naval Air addition on Turn 6 in the North but that seems to be in place.

I have found that the 21st Army from the South was not taken Turn 2 and will now enter H4634-5234 as scheduled (just south of Chernigov).  There are also three Special Reinforcement Groups that are available for the centre which will not be taken by the south:

  • 16th Army Group 3 Special Reinforcement for AGC from AGS Special Reinforcement Pool Group 8
  • 19th Army Group 5 Special Reinforcement for AGC from AGS Special Reinforcement Pool Group 6
  • Three units of 109th Group 4 Special Reinforcement for AGC from AGS reinforcements Turn 4

On with Turn 11 which represents 12 to 13 July.  The weather roll is mud in the north and storms in the centre.  That is the second turn of mud in the north so Turn 12 will be dry for that sector.

AGN starts the battle for Pskov

And finally captures Daugavpils
which will help extend supply lines.

There was a 10:1 attack on the coast as well, but I missed taking an image of it (easy to do given the size of this game and ability to see the whole thing without a lot of scrolling).

Having captured Minsk AGC strikes out along the road to Smolensk.
The railway conversion is about to reach Minsk which will be a big boost to the Axis supply situation

The southern part of AGN's Theatre of Operations.
High Command has decided that there will be no diversion,
it is Moscow or bust.

AGN is guaranteed dry weather next turn.
this and the capture of Daugavpils will put their panzers back in supply.

AGC, now that the rail line has connected to the Minsk road network,
will be able to push on, weather permitting.

Note: in the images units with a red tinge are out of supply and in the case of motorised troops this also means no fuel in many cases, which immobilizes them (although they can still attack if adjacent).  Units with a yellow tinge are down to their last biscuit (emergency supply).

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Barbarossa Turn 24

For  the 7th and 8th of August the weather stayed dry in all three theatres of operation, although there were storms in the north.

Assault on Tallin.  Naval gunfire repels the Nazi attackers.

Army Group North presses on.

And they capture Verlikye Luki 
although strictly speaking this is in AGC sphere of operations

Army Group Centre busy clearing the way to Moscow

Army Group South decides to by pass Kiev 
and force a crossing down stream,
although you can't call this mighty river that.

The Romanians about to achieve a break through.

We just have to imagine the hexes hidden in the grey strip.

The post it notes are just reminders that the forces are "special reinforcement groups"
Such groups lose their meaning with the Typhoon expansion.
Moscow is top right hand corner.

The gap between AGC and AGS's investment of Kiev.

AGS proper.
Romanian success was due in large part to failed Soviet counterattacks.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Barbarossa AGS - Vassal - Madness - Turns 10 to 12

For 10 and 11 July the weather reverts to being dry.  More importantly AGS will catch up to AGN/AGC although I have realised there is no easy way that I can transfer units between the two Vassal games.

There were no battles on the road to Kiev
and only this trivial combat on the road to Vinnitsa

However the Romanian front saw more action.

Including an attack on Kishinev which was even defended by the Soviet airforce.

It's a long way to anywhere

Turn 11

The weather for July 12 and 13 remains dry.

North west of Kiev.

South west of Kiev.

In the centre.

Northern Bessarabia.

South east Bessarabia.

No man's land a plenty.


Turn 12

For July 14 and 15 the weather remains dry.

Completion of removal of Soviet rearguard to the north west of Kiev.

The capture of Vinnitsa.

Final liquidation of the pocket north west Bessarabia.

Capture of Kishinev and completion of the liberation of Bessarabia.

This is the situation for Army Group South at the end of 15 July.  The Soviets have avoided losing the bulk of their armour and have started to get ready to pounce if the Axis push much further forward with out waiting for their supply to catch up.

The Axis are feeling confident as they have taken few losses and captured a lot of territory.  The further involvement of the Romanians is in doubt and the Axis need the weather to stay fine so they can repair the railroads at maximum speed (two hexes per day compared to one in mud).

But now it is time to return to Army Group North and Centre.

Richard Episcipus Servus Servorum Dei


Saturday, June 24, 2023

Here I Stand 4x4

Despite valiant efforts we were only able to muster four players for our game of Here I Stand.  Richard took on the role of the Papacy and the Hapsburgs, Mike the English and the Protestants, Simon the French and I was the Ottomans.

The Hapsburgs got stuck into the French.
The Ottomans failed to conquer Hungary due to some event or other,
although this was counteracted by the early appearance of pirates.

Henry VIII is granted a divorce.
France sues for peace.
The Ottomans capture Vienna and Charles and Ferdinand.

The Hapsburgs sue for peace.
The Ottomans engage in some piracy.
England invades Scotland.

The Hapsburgs declare war on the Ottomans.
The English declare war on the Hapsburgs.
The Protestant League starts to take over Germany,
helped by a German translation of the New Testament.
France gets serious in its war against the Papacy.

As can be seen the players are all clustered within a few VPs of each other.  The Hapsburgs had come within one Key of automatic victory (which had spurred the English to declare war on them).

For a more detailed take on events, here is commentary from Richard:

"Here I Stand - A Game of Hapsblunders and Hapstances"

With 2 players dropping out of the game, the game was always going to be a different proposition to previous outings. It would be interesting to see how well the game coped with a different number of players. With fewer players and several players controlling two powers, this was always going to be a more bloody affair.

The allocation of powers was:

Ottoman: Mark
Hapsburgs/Papacy: Richard
England/Protestants: Mike
France: Simon

Turn 1

The good Burghers of Brandenburg and their German brethren paid scant notice to Luther's 95 Theses and the Diet of Worms failed to spread the reformation.

Following briefings with Hapsburg and French plenipotentiaries, the English were well satisfied with deals on offer. With no further Diplomacy allowed, the Hapsburgs were at war with France, France was at War with the Papacy and the Ottomans were at war with Hungary.

Spring Deployment, saw the expected Ottoman advance to Nezh, whilst the Hapsburgs deployed Charles V and the Duke of Alva with a substantial force to Navarre in a move ostensibly pointing to a strike at Bordeaux across the Pyrenees. France moved Montmorency down to Bordeaux to head off the threat, leaving Francis in Paris with the barest of body guards - but hey what could possibly go wrong? with the Hapsburgs telegraphing their intentions with a strike aimed at Bordeaux and no substantial Hapsburg forces for miles. Henry VIII marched his troops up to the top of the hill and then he marched them down again and sent explorer for hire, Cabot, off to discover...The Mississippi River. There was a rumour of an invasion of Scotland, but it was just the noise of the soldiers marching around England "wharinge oute therre shouse".

With the preliminaries over, the Ottomans overwhelmed the Belgrade garrison, ready to advance onto Buda also duly captured, triggering the defeat of Hungary and intervention by the Hapsburgs as its ally. With Hungary defeated and 2 War Winner VP, the Ottomans dreamed of the ultimate prize... Vienna. Ah...Vienna, that bastion of Hapsburg strength, the beating heart of Hapsburg power and glory, the rock upon which countless Ottoman dreams of conquest have foundered.... Properly defended, it is an almost impossible task to take it and attacking it also a highly risky adventure, as failure can result in a swift counter attack sending the Ottoman reeling back. The normal Modus Operandi in games up to now has seen two giant armies glaring at each other across the Hungarian plain with neither willing to take the risk of an assault. Any rational player would surely follow this conventional wisdom and make the defence of this jewel his top priority. The great intangible of any game, not counting Lady Luck, is of course the human element, but more on that later...

The Hapsburg deployment to Navarre was a ruse and with the bait taken, a cunning, but somewhat risky plan had been hatched to ambush Francis with a strike from the Spanish Netherlands. Having been left guarded by a single strength point, Francis felt safe as there was but a small garrison of 3 regulars in the Antwerp garrison. With the Ottomans busy subduing the Hungarians, there was a brief, but rapidly closing window in which the Hapsburgs had to act to cut down France before turning their attention back to the Ottomans. Playing their "Holy Roman Emperor Home" card, Charles V arrived in Antwerp and press ganged anyone he could find in the city to form a Wagner Group styled force which then marched to Paris and put Francis under siege. With Montmorency pinned at Bordeaux, it looked like a great plan. With the Hapsburg assault going in with a potential 6 rolls to 2, the chances of success looked good. Using mercenaries can be a risky business, and so it turned out, as, just as the assault was about to go in, the French player played "Mercenaries Bribed" resulting in half the Hapsburgs mercenaries joining the French. It was all down to the die rolls. It was 3 hits on the French and 4 on the Hapsburgs, enough to wipe out the Hapsburg force resulting in Charles V being captured. "Yes! " snorted the French - revanche phase 1 complete. Settling down to time in captivity, Charles used the time to pen chapter one , la Bastille, in a his heretofor, little known Volume "Dungeons of Europe" - soon to be issued in weekly instalments...but more on that later.

The Pope was aghast, and immediately placed Francis under excommunication - which costs the French player one card each turn and creates unrest in 2 areas. Until the excommunication is lifted at the cost of a card donation to the St Peter's building fund, this is an ongoing penalty, so quite nasty.

With Charles captured and languishing in a French dungeon, the Duke of Alva crossed the Pyrenees and laid siege to Bordeaux. Salvation was at hand for the French player in the form of a fleet at Rouen, sailing the fleet into the Bay of Biscay would have prevented a Hapsburg assault on the city, but human factors crept in and the move was not made. It is suspected that Francis was so distracted by Charles prominent jaw, that he mistook the cries of his courtiers saying "send the fleet, send the fleet" with "See the freak, see the freak". With no time to spare, the Duke of Alva overcame the French garrison and Bordeaux was captured. A costly loss to the French as any loss of home spaces produces -DRM on the Patron of the Arts card roll reducing the chance of success. In every other game we've played so far, it has been a lazy way to gain cards and VPs by the French player - Not this time and one could say "Not Happy Fran!"

Barbary Pirates made an early appearance in the game late in the turn, thanks to the English. There was a bit of a wink at the English player by the Ottoman player, acknowledging the gesture. The glee of the Ottoman at the English gesture would turn to horror in a turn to come..., Yes, more on that later....
With the whirlwind of unexpected twists and turns over with, play proceeded to the New World phase. With their conquest cancelled earlier in the turn by the English playing Search for Cibola (you can't accuse the English player of favouritism, with both brickbats and bouquets handed out in fairly even fashion - for the time being at least), it was the first exploration attempt for the Hapsburgs with the -1 DRM applicable. Drawing Magellan, rated 4, this gave the Hapsburgs a net +3 DRM. A modified "10" was rolled, Magellan discovered the Pacific Strait, pressing on, an attempt was made to circumnavigate, another 10, for a total of 4VPs to the Hapsburgs.

Cuba was set up as a Hapsburg Colony and Jamestown for the English, full of promise for the riches which would surely follow....or not.

Turn 2

First up, diplomacy, and it was a first for our games of Here I Stand, as France and the Hapsburgs couldn't come to an amicable arrangement to end hostilities, and with France staring down negative DRMs on their Patron of the Arts Card rolls, down a Key in the Form of Bordeaux and being excommunicated, took the bitter pill and chose to sue for peace. Another 2 VPs for the Hapsburgs, one for winning the war and another to give up Bordeaux. Go Hapsburgs!

The French player also had the option of removing the effect of excommunication, but decided to wear it as a badge of honour and refused to pay the cost.

The fruits of English not meddling with the Hapsburg's plans for France bore fruit, as Charles had called in a favour with Pope Leo and Henry was granted a divorce, moving his marker one step closer to a new wife and possible male heir. Alas, it would only be the fruit born...

With France and the Hapsburgs at peace and phase 1 of the Hapsburg's early draft of the Schlieffen Plan complete, it was time for the Hapsburgs to turn their attention to the Ottoman threat. With Charles "safely" back in Vienna after his time in the Bastille and with his brother Ferdinand having "built up" the garrison in anticipation of the arrival of the Ottomans, there was one morsel that proved just too tempting for the Hapsburgs. With the "Metz Gambit" in play, and the Ottoman main army still to muster fully before marching on Vienna, the possibility of snatching the independent key of Metz from under the noses of the French was too much for the greedy Hapsburgs. A small blocking force was sent to Metz to deny them the ability to seize that key - infuriating the French. So far so good. The Hapsburgs were playing fast and loose, but it was all coming off. Fuelled by the sugar rush from the pastries on offer,  the Hapsburgs made possibly the biggest blunder recorded in our Here I Stand Games. In what will go down in infamy as the "Hapsblunder", instead of double checking the size of the Ottoman army and the garrison in Vienna, the Hapsburgs sailed an invading army to Algiers in the hope of capturing that key and denying it as a base to Ottoman Corsairs. The landing was successful enough, however, the Ottoman immediately gathered the entire Ottoman navy and sailed to the Barbary coast. two Hapsburg interception attempts both failed as did the avoid battle attempt by the Hapsburg Flotilla that dropped off the Duke of Alva's expeditionary force. The result was a predictable destruction of that flotilla, leaving The Duke of Alva marooned outside the gates of the city and unable to prosecute an assault due to the Ottoman fleet.

Hapsblunder now rapidly moved to Hapspanic, but it could all still work out Ok, as there was somewhat of a plan. The Hapsburg played "Unsanitary Camp" on the main Ottoman Army, removing a third of the force. That should do the trick right? With the Ottomans cut down to size and  Vienna defended by our large force which we can still build up, err um, wait there are only SIX guys defending Vienna? Must I check EVERYTHING myself! Where are my minions when I need them! Ok, don't panic Richard, just rely on your superior die rolling skills - what could possibly go wrong?... Oh dear, your superior die rolling skills! The Ottomans attack with 14 dice to 9, that's still going to need some good rolling to get over the top of the defenders. The result? Hapsburgs force wiped out, Charles and Ferdinand captured, Vienna captured! Time for Chapter two in Charles' Dungeons of Europe Series - The High Porte Edition. The full extent of this disaster is revealed in the next turn. The Hapsburgs are,however, not completely done, with Papal help, extra cards become available through play of Diplomatic Overture. With backs to the wall a small force of mercenaries makes a dash for Belgrade. Unable to initially lay siege due to LOC issues, a subsequent fleet reposition establishes the necessary link and gives the Ottoman something to think about other than continuing his rampage through Austria and Bohemia which are now within reach. With the last play of the turn, Belgrade is captured by the Hapsburgs.
Meanwhile,the Protestants, with a completely free hand, unmolested by Pope or Hapsburg, go crazy with printing treatises and having them read across the lands and a translating the New Testament in German, moving past the 12 Protestant spaces trigger for the Schmalkaldic League, which duly emerged this turn. The Pope meanwhile was distracted with trying to capture the independent key of Florence and would remain so for turns to come. With all that Reformation activity, the Protestant used his debaters to maximum effect. Every debater had been committed to the cause, except one, Carlstadt with his lowly 1 debate value. With Leipzig Debate Papal Home Card available, the Papal player seized the opportunity for a an easy debate win. Using Eck, it would be 7 dice vs 3 dice. Just a difference of 2 hits would be enough to have Carlstadt burned at the stake. Carlstadt rolled no hits, so it was looking good, but then the Eck rolled just a single hit saving Carlstadt from the pyre. It was to prove one of those games for the Papacy who hasn't been able to get into the game. I'm supposed to be INFALLIBLE damn it!

Now remember how thrilled the Ottoman player was to get the Barbary Pirates played?, well he was, let's say slightly worried, when the English Player played "Knight's of St John" for the event. This allows a random card to be drawn from the Ottoman hand, to be donated to the St Peter's building fund. That normally stiff up lip of the Ottoman nearly quivered, when the best possible card was drawn out of the Ottoman hand by the English Player. A 5 CP card was drawn, which went straight to the St Peter's fund and a Papal VP. Thanks Henry! (Ed: This was in the first turn and stopped the Ottomans conquering Hungary in Turn 1).

With Divorce granted, the English player played his Henry VIII card and married Anne Boleyn, sadly she repulsed him and the marriage is not consummated and a divorce followed soon after. A voyage of discovery is funded and rumours of an invasion of Scotland once more abound, but all that is heard or seen is the sound of Henry gagging and marching his troops up to the top of the hill and then marching them down again.

The French stew with bitterness and plot revenge against the Pope.

In the New World phase, Rut discovers the Great Lakes. Cartier discovers the St Lawrence river.

Turn 3

New World Riches are not forthcoming for the Hapsburg, but are for the English with an extra card
A mix up with adding variable entry cards to the deck meant that a reshuffle and re deal was required. Some players were happy and others were not with their "new" hands. Plans did change nevertheless.

The time to Hapspay for the Hapsblunder had arrived. Breathing space was essential, so the extremely painful decision to sue for peace was made by the Hapsburgs. The cost? 2 War Winner VP to the Ottoman, another to get Vienna back, and one more for Charles, sorry bro', Ferdinand is going to have to finish that High Porte chapter himself. So a total of 4 VP for the Ottomans. The room was aghast as the Ottomans catapulted to the lead. With peace bought at a high price it was time to rebuild before rejoining the fight.

The Hapsburgs spent the turn rebuilding their fleet, recaptured Metz and built up their land forces. The English launched a voyage of conquest (ultimately conquering the Maya) and Henry finally invaded Scotland, capturing Edinburgh with an overkill use of Treachery to improve the odds from 99% to 99.99%, but hey, if you have an abundance of cards why not?

Meanwhile, the Ottomans moved their Corsair Fleet to the Tyhrennian Sea and viciously targeted the Papacy. With no anti-piracy rolls available due to a loop hole in the rules (Papal Fleets on loan to Hapsburgs), the Ottomans score a VP for piracy and then move to the Adriatic for risk free pickings. Further piracy rolls result in the loss of a card from the Papal hand to the Ottomans. The Ottoman fleet withdraws to Scutari at turns end. The combined Hapsburg/Papal/Genoese fleet sail to concentrate in the Adriatic.

The English and Protestants are so flush with cards as a result of playing Fuggers and Diplomatic Overture that the English/Protestant player is the only one doing anything for the last 3 impulses of the turn as the other players watch on in envy. With many choices, the reformation takes hold in England with Norfolk and Berwick converting. 1 VP to England. Electorates continue to fall as the Hapsburgs need to rebuild for next turn and can't afford to intervene.

The Papacy tried in vain to gather enough forces to capture Florence, being denied through play of anti-mercenary cards. The French move in substantial forces to Italy with an eye on Florence.

The Hapsburgs play "Andrea Doria" and ally Genoa and then "Revolt in Egypt" near turns end, forcing the Ottomans to fight a foreign war and costs them a card next turn.

English explorers find nothing in the new world phase.

Turn 4

New World Riches fail to materialise (again) for the Hapsburgs from 2 colonies. The English gain a card.

The Hapsburgs and the Papacy declare war on the Ottomans. In a very suspicious move, Henry Spring deploys to Calais no doubt intent on an opportunistic attack on the Hapsburgs whilst they are distracted with the renewal of Ottoman hostilities.

The Ottomans reprise turn 1 and spring deploy to Nezh ready to besiege Belgrade. The Hapsburgs have reclaiming Buda in their sights and have a few nasty surprises up their sleeve for the Ottomans.

The Ottomans advance to Belgrade and lay siege, the Hapsburgs advance to Buda and lay siege. Whilst the move was completely telegraphed, this time the Hapsburgs had to prioritise the Ottoman threat first and deal with the English - later. Nevertheless, in possibly the worst backstab in recorded history, perfidious Albion, instead of using his Henry VIII card to sire a male heir, possible gain - 5VP , ruthlessly attacks the Hapsburgs at Brussels and Antwerp. Antwerp has an extremely weak 1 factor garrison, but it doesn't go down without a fight, holding off the extremely frustrated English for 2 impulses, finally succumbing on the 3rd.

Things look bleak for the small Hapsburg garrison in Belgrade, the assault goes in, but the Hapsburgs play "Halley's Comet" for the event causing the Ottomans to skip their impulse completely. The Hapsburgs assault Buda and the garrison is whittled down to a single defender.

The Ottomans make a second assault on Belgrade, but this time are stopped by "Foul Weather" being played by the Hapsburgs. The Hapsburgs complete their reconquest of Buda. Belgrade finally falls to the Ottomans in their next impulse.

The French capture Florence after a few skirmishes with Papal mercenaries.

England also played City States Rebels against Metz, with the key reverting to Independence at the end of the turn. One feels that Henry will be getting a letter from the Pope next turn. Cranmer appeared in London and the reformation is ripe for spreading in England.

The Session ended after turn 4.

What lays ahead? The Ottomans are out in front at 20 and are very well placed for a win. The English/Protestants have a handy and consistent total for both powers and if left to their own devices are definitely a shot at victory.

France has slipped back into the usual "under the radar" mode apart from their bitter war with the Papacy. Still doing quite well after an early setback.

The Hapsburgs have come back from their disaster, but have too many enemies on too many fronts. The Papacy is a disaster zone at this stage and will hold back the calculated 2 Power VP score.

Based on the results of previous games, the Ottomans and Hapsburgs will fight each other to a standoff, leaving the French with the least complicated path to victory, being unencumbered by the two power VP adjustment. The English/Protestants should not be written off however.

In terms of the actual game, I am very impressed with how resilient it is in terms of delivering a playable exciting game without the full complement of players. Whilst a very different game, it has been thoroughly enjoyable, Hapsblunders and all!

Thursday, June 22, 2023

The Battle of Carrhae - Take Two

The first test of this scenario was posted here.  It contains the army lists which remain unchanged.

This time, any unit involuntarily leaving the table would be considered routed as per the rules.  

The aim was still for the Romans to reach the Parthian's edge of the table and then return.  However during play this was changed to just exiting the Parthian edge.  Sounded more achievable as the Romans start with Aggressive deployment.

This time Mark B went Roman and I was the Parthian.

Not a box formation, but certainly a compact one.

Parthians immediately start to envelope the wings.

The Roman light cavalry was quickly dispatched,
but their skirmishers were proving somewhat tougher.

The Roman Auxlia survive being charged in the flank.

Parthian bow fire is having some effect,
but the Romans press on regardless.

The Parthians are having a hard time making an impact on the Roman legions.

Bird's eye view.
Much of the Roman army is disordered,
but the table edge is in sight.

Scratch one legion

Two legions made it to safety,
but the Gallic cavalry was routed
and another legion wiped out.

Another legion escaped, but one was routed.
The Roman army morale breaks.
That is Crassus remaining on the field of battle,
with the last legion.

We made two rule interpretations:
  1. Interpenetrations can only pass through if they had room to clear. 
  2. The +2 for attacking on the flank/rear only applies for the initial combat round.
In the case of the interpenetration we might have got that wrong.

For the flank attack, the morale bonus for the attacker still applies as does the instant death of the compromised unit if it loses the combat.

As FP get a plus one in Cohesion Tests against cavalry, even when attacked in the rear, they can be hard to beat.