Sunday, November 16, 2014

20mm WW2 West Front 1944 battle with 9 year old (3rd one)

The 9 year old that I have played a few games of 20mm WWII asked for a game over the school holidays while he was staying over for the day.  How could I say no?  The weather was going to be great so I thought why not play outside where the light will be perfect.  If we are to play outside, I could use the entire table tennis table when I usually use half of it.  My first game on a full table tennis table in nearly 10 years.  I was amazed on the quality of the photos I took compared to the ones normally taken inside and at night – amazing what a lot of natural light can do!

The rules are the same I used for the last two games against him - a slightly modified version of my own rules that uses more dice rather than die modifiers, see here.

I did not choose a scenario but wanted to use some Brits so chose September 1944.  It was to be an engagement scenario as there was not that much time.  Next time I will get into more of an attacker/defender battle. While setting out the table I realised I do not have enough terrain for a 9’x5’.  Neither the amount of roads I want, and definitely not enough trees!  My mantra has always been “you can never have enough trees” and I proved it with this setup.

A composite view of the entire 9'x5' table, Brits enter from the bottom
The objectives across the centre.
The objectives were to hold the crossroads and the T intersection in the centre, the church of the British right, and the road corner on the British left.

The British left. The Germans focussed on the centre and this flank
The British right, the British gave a good showing on this side. 
I selected what felt about right, and not too much so the table did not feel cramped.  For instance, there was only 4 tanks on each side.  I think it worked quite well not having so many troops, it allowed for some manoeuvre.  

4 PanzerIVJ
3 12 figure units (incules 3 MMGs), in 9 half tracks
1 75mm AT gun + half track tow
1 Kubel Wagon
1 Motorcycle

I have always wanted to use a full contingent of Carriers – I have been collecting them over the years.
13 Carriers (carrier platoon) with 3xLMGs (2 crew), 3x2" mortars (2 crew) and 18 riflemen
1 truck platoon (1 MMG, 8 riflemen, 3 trucks)  
1 Firefly
3 Shermans

The Game
The centre, where the objectives were, was where a lot of the action was.  I have split the report into Centre, left and right as it is easier to follow.

The Centre
The German forces enter down the centre road.
The British response along a wide front.
Due to some good cards, the Germans get to the centre first and begin to setup for defence.
A little further to the British centre right, the Germans have managed to get a foothold.  They have occupied all of the building on their side of the village.  The British have not got to a building yet. 
Two carrier sections race up in the centre to get to the village before the Germans occupy all of it.
The British, due to some good activations, make in to the village.  The infantry behind the buildings are in them,  You can just see the PanzerIVs at the rear of the photo.  Note the line of sight to the Sherman - the Sherman is KO'd next turn! The infantry fared better, and managed to inflict a lot of damage across the roads into the German occupied houses.
The British left
The Germans, keeping the initiative going, get to the objective on the British left and take over the objective with good backup forces.
A carrier platoon moves into the wood opposite.
The view from the German side (the carriers have been removed as I tend to remove trucks etc once they have unloaded.  The British have a Sherman, the Germans have no armour on this side. They do have an Anti-tank gun on this flank, but not in a position to fire at the Sherman.  The Sherman did rout a few Germans, but then they stayed out of sight and the Sherman was just a minor deterrent from then on.
The first thing to note is the lack of British infantry in the foreground woods.  All gone.  Two activations of fire by the Germans took their tool and they were drastically reduced and then routed.  But the Germans are substantially reduced as well.  The Germans also reallocated a PanzerIV to help on this flank.  This is important as the British have one last unit that is coming around the far left (off to the left of this picture.
And here is the flanking British infantry running through the woods to the Germans. 
And here is the PanzerIV overruning the last of the British on the left flank.  The Germans hold the objective, but only with about 1/2 the units they started with on this flank..
The British right
The British send the trucks to occupy the hill with the church.  They took a few turns to get there, but the Germans had been lax and not sent anything on this flank.  The church hill overlooks the village so it is a good spot for the British.
The Sherman is gone.  The British successfully advance across the hill, heading towards the woods in the centre of the picture.
The Germans move some units in the woods for defense, but there are more British than Germans.  It proves to be deadly for both sides.
End Game

The British are hanging on in the woods, and the Germans are getting the worst of it.  The sherman manages to damage a PanzerIV.
The german infantry in the village has just about gone so a small unit moves up under the cover of a PanzerIV.  But unluckily into the range of the Sherman Firefly that has hung back all game.  First shot - gone!
The Firefly
Another PanzerIV falls.  The Germans infantry ran away from the village.  The Germans have lost a fair few of their units, fail an force morale check and retreat to fight again another day. 
The rules are holding up just fine.  And I won.  Against a nine year old I know, but I lost the first two games I played against him!  He is now ten since I played this in July and we have penciled in Christmas to play again.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Battle of the Granicus 334 BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 19 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.

Version 2 of the rules
This is the first historical game playtest of version 2 of the rules.  After lots of minor tweaks over the last two years, I re-wrote them.  While the rules themselves play 95% the same as the last iteration of version 1 (1.3s for those interested), they are a lot shorter and I think are better written. A lot as in less than half the pages of the previous rules.   Further details of version 2 compared to version 1 can be found in this blog post.
Battle of the Granicus
Alexander crosses the Hellespoint into Asia and it met by a large Persian Army facing him across the Granicus river.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:
Wikipedia article
Ancient History Encyclopedia battle description
Junior General battle and rules
DBA Scenario
Clash of Empires scenario
DBM Scenario (also has a link to an alternative DBM scenario)

Scenario changes
Reduced by about third the troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I roughly halved the spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.


Alexander’s Macedonian
4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, some missile protection, high fortitude
1 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some missile protection, low fortitude
2 Thracians, auxiliary infantry, high fortitude
3 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Skirmishers, skirmish infantry, long missile
1 Companions, auxiliary infantry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary cavalry
1 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, short missile
1 General (with Companions)
+1 army command ability

Breakpoint: 11

Late Achaemenid Persian
2 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some missile protection
2 Heavy Infantry, battle infantry, long missile
2 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, long missile
1 Heavy cavalry, auxiliary infantry, high fortitude, impetuous
5 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary infantry
5 Light Cavalry,  skirmish cavalry, short missile

1 General with high fortitude cavalry

Breakpoint: 13


Persians on the left, Macedonians on the right.

The river I have classed as a passable river.  In the rules, this means that the river is crossable but counts as difficult terrain for close combat.  Both units in combat are effected by the difficult terrain. There is a bank defensive bonus for the Persian cavalry.  What that means is the Persian heavy cavalry will be at their difficult combat value 0, +1 for defending the bank, A phalangite units difficult combat value is 1. Equal.  The phalangites will have to attack to keep the Persians occupied while Alexander attacks on the right flank.  

Note that is  different to Issus, where the river will be classed as a stream that infers a bank defense bonus but is not counted as difficult terrain.

Greek mercenaries (the one unit to the rear of the Macedonians) are uncontrolled and cannot move until a unit comes very close to them.
The Units on the Persian hill are also uncontrolled.

Neither uncontrolled units played any part in this game, although they do help increase the breakpoint value of the army.

The Game
Alexander move first. and all but the Companions advance to the river edge.

View from the Macedonians after advancing.
On the Macedonian left, Persian skirmishers disorder and pushback Parmenion (the heavy cavalry on the Macedonian left)

Parmenion is pushed back from the river bank.
On the Macedonian right two Skirmishers are pushed back for one Persian pushback.  Alexander is obviously hoping for two being pushed back to make it easier with a breakthrough on that side.

Skirmishers skirmish on the Macedonian right.  The Persians still control the river bank.
The phalangites move across the river to engage the heavy cavalry.  Heavy Cavalry combat value is 1, phalangites 0.  Two centre phalangites retreat.  The lone cavalry that could pursue does not (is is not impetuous, and would only pursue on a 5 or more as defending terrain).

Pikes advance, melee and the centre two retreat. The grey javelins mark a unit as disordered.
Not much happening on the Macedonian right, and a continuing inconclusive melee in the centre between cavalry and phalanxes.  The Cavalry is not going to advance across the river, and those in contact remained in melee.

On the right skirmishers interchanged some fire, and a few skirmishers lost on both sides.  The Companions entered into the fray - Skirmishers retreat and Companions followed up...

Alexander finally crosses the river and charges the skirmishes, who rout.
...and the skirmishers rout.  No damage to the Companions as high fortitude with general (a 1 would have disordered them but no such luck for the Persians).  The Companions do not pursue (they are disciplined and with a general; a 5+ would have forced them to pursue).

The Hypaspists rout after combat with the Persian heavy cavalry with Darius.    More phalanxes are falling.  Parmenion manages to force a skirmish cavalry to retreat, but are pushed back themselves under missile fire.

Darius's heavy cavalry, and an adjacent heavy cavalry, cross the river and rout another disordered phalanx.
The heavy cavalry cross the river
Only one phalanx unit left.

Darius routs his opponent and continues across the river.
But Alexander is coming....

See Alexander at the top right coming in to the flank.
The Persian heavy cavalry over the river cannot about face as already disordered and so will have to wheel to turn - this will take 4 moves

Alexander hits other Heavy Cavalry in flank.

Alexander hits a heavy cavalry in the flank.
Alexander/Companions are CV2 +1 high fortitude -1 single unit -1 disordered +2 general +2 flank attack +2 shock = 7 Vs Persian CV 2 = +5.
First die roll 5. Total of 10 - destroyed.

Alexander charges into the next cavalry unit.
Pursues into the flank of the next Heavy Cavalry and rolls a 6.

Alexander charges into the third heavy cavalry (and stops).
Pursues into the third heavy cavalry and roll a 2; total of 7 is a disorder.  The rolling up stops.

Peltast advances as now the heavy cavalry is attacked in flank, it counts as flanked against all attacks.

Peltast charges into the flanked unit.  it will rout, and does.
The melee results in the heavy cavalry getting a depleted results that is a destroyed.

Parmenion advances and the skirmisher runs away (finally).

Last phalanx is destroyed (a Persian 6 on the die);  and Darius rallies.

Alexander charges a Heavy Cavalry (that turned last turn, expecting the charge).

The last Persian heavy cavalry unit has time to turn to take the charge from Alexander.  It did not help against the might of a die roll of a 6.
Alexander rolls a 6 for melee. Persian cavalry routs.  Alexander pursues into the rear of a skirmishers that also retreats...into the front of Parmenion that charges them and the skirmishers routs.

Parmenion charges into the skirmisher that Alexander has forced to retreat.
The Persian have reached their army breakpoint and game is over, victory to the Macedonians.

End game.
In hindsight, Alexander should have go in on the right flank immediately after the first turn skirmish clash did not work.

It took awhile to make sure the rules worked for river crossing and I am happy with them (today - tomorrow it may change!).  Uncontrolled units work as planned. The new unbloated  version 2 of the rules are working well.  No errors caught so far but it needs more games to make sure - there are always some that creep in.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ancient Battlelines clash - October 2014 update

After a few months of reflection, last month (ABC update September 2014) I created a Quick Reference Sheet from scratch and then did some minor rules culling and changes to reflect the new QRS.  95% of the rules remained unchanged.  Played a few battles and all was well.  But then I reflected a bit more.  The core rules were 14 pages.  DBA is 5 pages (excluding troop definitions), Basic Impetus is 8 for everything.  14 does not ring true for me as a fast play set.

So what did I do?
I sat down, opened up a blank document and wrote the rules out again from scratch, without reference to any other document, including the rules or the QRS.  6 1/2 pages (no examples) including unit definitions.
I then when back to the old version and added in some clarifications and any bits I had missed from the old version (surprisingly not many) and a bit of formatting. 8 pages.  I am happy.  I also added in examples, optional rules, example armies and a QRS: 12 pages in total compared to 22 pages for the equivalent in the previous version.  With no rule loss.  How? The previous rules started life many years ago and in earnest 3 years ago and have been worded, reworded and built upon over probably 100 minor versions.  I have cleaned up a large amount of bloated rule sections just writing in all from memory on what they should be.  It was almost a case of, why use one word when three can do the same job :-)  I am so much more content and the rules I think are better for it.  Anyway, I have nowhere else to go now with them, having done a write from memory only! (having written this, I did do one step further and have written a simpler 2 page version for about 6 units with no markers on a 1'x1' board, but that is untested!)
The QRS is now one page, in two columns as per the rest of the rules - no rules deleted, just better formatting and a little streamlining..  I am very happy that the QRS is one simple page - that fact I had to fudge the previous version by using 3 columns just bugged me,

So, the final rules are:
Pages 1-12: The rules including examples, optional rules and a reference sheet on page 12. Pages 1-12 are all that is needed to print to play.
Pages 13-16: Detailed example and designer notes.
Pages 17-24: Fully programmable opponent for the rules; none, some or all may be used.
Note: pages 13-24 are not essential to play, but if you want to use them, it is best to print off separately.

The new version of the rules are at the Ancient Battlelines Clash rules page.  The army lists have not been updated to align to the new unit types, but the conversion is very easy and I provide how to convert.

I need to playtest more and finihed off my next historical game - Granicus - with Version 2 (coming soon)

For those interested, here are all the rule changes.  While I don't expect anyone to read them, it does indicate how little I did to the actual rules.
  • Troops are now classified by role (battle, auxiliary and skirmisher) and type (infantry, cavalry and chariot).  Exceptions are elephants, scythed chariots, camels and camps.  These do map directly onto the more traditional HI, MI, LI, HC etc.  I have liked this method ever since reading and playing the Irregular Miniature Ancient rules years ago.  I have finally bit the bullet and put these into my rules.  It really helps streamline combat values and what type of units are impacted by things.
  • Movement rates are now simplified - all infantry move 8cm, all mounted move 12cm.  For this game, the different movement rates was really irrelevant.  I was very clever with the old movement rates and retreat distances but I realised it works out the same with two standard movement rates.  But Skirmisher cavalry (LC) do need to move 16cm to make horse archer armies work properly, so included that.  All skirmishers add 2cm to retreat distances to ensure they do not get caught.  I had this in an older version but was not required but with similar movement rates it is back in again.
  • The bow missile range needs to be in between these two movement rates for the missile rules to work correctly, so bow range is now 10cm (was 12cm). Skirmish infantry bows are only 4cm range - they were too powerful against infantry.
  • Most of the sections have been reworded and are more succicient.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Battle of Chaeronea 338BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 18 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.
Battle of Chaeronea
Philip II invades Greece that is defended by a Theban/Athenian allied army.  Philip II wins and finally gains control of Greece.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:

Wikipedia article
Diodorus account at Ancient History Sourcebook
Junior General battle and rules
DBA scenario
Animated battlemap

I also used a number of books such as "Lost Battles" (Sabin) and "Warfare in the Classical World" (Warry).

Scenario changes
Halved troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I did not halve the spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.  I used a deployment close to Warry (two lines) rather than Side's staggered setup.  I did not include the hills and river, assuming they are on the edge of the table.  The smaller streams did not seem to affect the battle so did not include them.  I did keep the marsh.


The Greek allies (SB= Sacred Band, Gen = General)
6 Athenian hoplites, HI, phalanx, some protection, impetuous
3 Theban hoplites, HI, phalanx, some protection
1 Theban Sacred Band, HI, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude
3 Psiloi, LI, short missile
1 General (with Athenian hoplite)

Breakpoint: 10


6 Phalangites, HI, phalanx
1 Hypaspists/Agema, HI, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude
1 Peltasts, MI
2 Psiloi, LI, short missile
1 Heavy Cavalry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Light Cavalry, LC, short missile
1 General, +1 command ability with Hypaspists

Breakpoint: 10

Note, in line with the rule changes (see below) Missile Protection +1 is now some protection, +2 is now high protection.  Similarly -1 fortitude is now low fortitude, +1 is now high fortitude. The names are easier for army lists rather than using numbers.  LI (Light Infantry) is relabeled MI (Medium Infantry) and SI (Skirmisher Infantry) relabeled to LI (Light infantry).  Only the labels have changed to be more consistent with cavalry and chariot labels, the rules for them are unchanged.   

Rules changes
It has been nearly a year since a historical game with these rules and I have been mulling over how to streamline them as I seem to have been adding a little bit here and there after my last major streamlining nearly 2 years ago.  The rules were getting more bloated and I do not like it.  I go into to much detail at this blog post. In summary:
  • I reduced the number of modifiers for all the tests to 3 or less modifiers, except combat still has 4.
  • I managed to combine the normal reaction to shooting, fired on, charged and proximity tests into one reaction table.  This made it a lot clearer.
  • I reduced some of the exceptions in the rules.
  • I changed the general to always be part of a unit during the game, rather than being able to detach and detach from units.  I also changed the army command ability to be not as powerful.

This is what playtesting is all about!


Deployment.  Note the only terrain feature on the table is the marsh on the Greek right flank.
The Game
Greeks move first.  Both sides advance their entire infantry line.

Fantastically painted (not by me - I bought these from Andy Bryant who is responsible for them) Macedonian phalangites
The Macedonian infantry move up and the opposing Athenian infantry charge (I gave the Athenian hoplites the impetuous ability - they must charge if an enemy unit is in range).  Everyone in melee is disordered but no other more serious damage.

Cavalry and skirmishers on the Macedonian right awaiting an opportunity. More amazing paint job from Andy Bryant.
The end Athenian hoplite unit does routs a skirmisher on the left flank and pursues.

Greek hoplite pursues a routed skirmisher.  The sticks on the bases on the units indicate disorder.
The Athenians manage to rout a Macedonian phalangite. The Macedonians return the favour; and then the Athenians get in another one. Two phalangites lost to one Athenian hoplite.

A gap!  But the Greek hoplite cannot pursue.
On the Greek right flank the Greeks charge the Macedonian Peltast that retreats and then routs. Alexander is worried that he will get boxed in and charges the Greek skirmishers that rout. Hopefully the Companions will be able to attack the hoplites in the flank before they turn about.  We shall see.

Activity on the Greek right.  The Companions attack through a gap.
The Theban hoplite battleline now charges and the Sacred Band forces a phalangite unit to retreat.  An already disordered Athenian hoplite is destroyed further down the line.  The Greek Alliance is still ahead as in less of its units are destroyed.

The Greek left is becoming depopulated duie to losses on both sides.
A Greek disaster!  The Athenian general rolls a 1 and is destroyed and routs.  In the rules, units in melee with equal combat values will only have bad things happen on a 1 (attacker depletes) or a 6 (defender depletes).  The two generals are in combat but the Hypaspists have a 1 greater combat value.  It was always going to be a waiting game until the Greek general routed (on a 5 or 6) or the Greeks could bring other units into the flank of the Hypaspists.  The  routing happened first.

The victorious Hypaspists (again painted by Andy Bryant).
The Greek army undergoes a morale check due to the general being lost.  This is a new bit to the rules - previously a lost general did not cause a morale check.  Every unit rolls a morale check test.  Most of the Greek units are already disordered (bad) and, due to poor die rolls, most of the units that were disordered rout (all 8 rolls were 3 or lower!).  Over half the Greek army gone so game over.

End game.  All Greek units are circled (i.e. not many).
Two generals going head to head is never going to end well.

More phalanx on phalanx battles but this time with the Companions.  I did like playing this game.  It showed that making the Athenians impetuous was a good idea.  It also highlighted the difference the Companions make -  without them, it would have just been a heavy infantry clash.  Even so, the Companions never did make the final difference in this replay as they did not have time to shine.  The Greek general routing was bad, but then I think he should have been with the Thebans (which I would do in a refight).  The rules have changed, but they were only minor to the overall way the game worked. The only difference for this game was the the general being destroyed causing the entire army to undertake a morale check.  Four more Alexander battles in the pipeline.