Wednesday, 27 February 2013

26th Feb Club Meeting

Our latest club meeting went well...especially for me! We had eight members attend playing three games, a very healthy situation. Mark, the winner of the Miniature Wargames Readers Painting competition (and as it turns out joint second place holder too), brought the mag along for me to see and the two figures he sent in. Slight apology to Mark here as I thought he had sent in two of the figures from the set he painted a while ago; he actually painted up two new figures specially. He was given a bit of a ribbing, obviously, but the figures were very nice and we were all pleased for him...perhaps also a little proud that one of our members won too. So once again, well done Mark, good job mate.

The Operation Squad game
Mark and I played Operation Squad, me with my Italian Paras (and the Brixia mortar :) ) and Mark used his newly finished British Paras. Mark was at a slight disadvantage as he had not been able to work out his full 500 point allowance...I had offered to do this but couldn't find the bloody rule book, nor was there a list on the Op squad forum! We cobbled something together and he basically used my British para list. The problem for the Italian squad I have is that they are almost exclusively armed with shorter ranged machine guns (my choice), this means that you have to use them quite aggressively and can therefore run into trouble. The mortar also has to be directed by the Sergeant who must not be anymore than 20cm away, so that he can shout the range, target and direction etc. This can be a little limiting so you need to have a bit of a plan from the outset; as you should anyway.

I decided that the mortar was to be central to the plan and have the rest of the squad deployed to cover it and take advantage of any damage it managed to do. I managed to move it up into a field just behind a ruined house whilst the Sergeant moved forward to a hedge lined road to act as spotter. My Breda MG covered the main road of the hamlet we were fighting over from the edge of a wood This was itself protected by three squad members deployed forward of it and all three were hidden. the rest of the squad was moved up the the same hedge line as the Sergeant, to support him and cover the left flank of the mortar position. I was quite pleased with the dispositions as Mark's figures moved forward. Mark focused upon another large ruined building in front of my lines and his end of the long wood that concealed by Breda MG. I think he was hoping to hold a strong centre whilst he swept the woods, thus keeping my right flank troops out of the game. This actually suited me as it would allow my mortar a free rein.

First blood fell to me and my Breda MG as Mark tried to move a figure around the house and up to the main road. The Breda team managed to spot the figure (a test they had to pass before they could even think of shooting) and won the initiative. Of the four shots they were allowed it was the very first one that killed the British Para outright! Poor Mark rolled some appalling defence dice.
I took out a second Brit para, who was foolish enough to wander into the field opposite the hedge line, with one of my figures covering the mortar; although that figure was then taken out by the British Bren gun positioned in the house. this all happened during one of the frenetic episodes of multi-figure interaction that makes Op Squad the great game that it is. You work out who is trying to do what and to whom (up to three figures from each side) and then roll to see the order in which those actions occur. My hedge line guy went first and killed the para in the field. My Breda MG was supposed to go next but as the target para was killed by the hedge line guy the Breda lost its go. The dead British para was to go third, but was now dead, so the last figure to come into play was Mark's Bren gun. It had targeted my hedge line guy and took him out with a couple of shots.That Bren gun was well defended and placed to cover any attack I made against it...but I have a mortar!

I moved my Sergeant forward and successfully managed to spot the Bren gun in the building before communicating this to the mortar team. As Mark had already activated the Bren gun team he could not now move them, when it was my turn to activate a figure I chose the mortar team! To hit with a mortar you need to roll 1d6 and score equal to or less than the figures Tactical Value, in this case a four. The Brixia is a light mortar so fires shells half the size of ordinary mortars in the game but, it has a greater rate of fire so gets two shots! The first shot rolled a five, so the round missed. You then have to roll a d10 to see where it went, double the number rolled for distance off and follow the pointy bit of the D10 to see in which direction; that one fell short. Shot two was a direct hit! The radius of the burst circle for this mortar is only 10cm but was more than enough to catch the Bren gunner and his assistant. The gunner was taken out but due to crappy die rolls on my part the assistant wasn't even touched...a bit deafened perhaps. I was one casualty off making Mark make a morale check but, club nights having the time restrictions that they do, the game wound down.

This was a good game but it did raise issues that we now need to check, principally, whether a figure that makes a 'move & fire' move that then doesn't fire can fire if an opportunity arises later in the move.

Blood, Bilge & Iron Balls
Andy and Dave G. played Blood, Bilge & Iron Balls, a reduced version of one of the scenarios in the rule book. A British fleet is trying to stop a number of French transports and their escorts escaping from port. Dave chose to be the Brits and immediately fell fowl of a changing wind direction. He found it very difficult to keep station as the French approached and this had an effect on his firing. The French, on the other hand and as the fact that they were making an escape attempt in the first place suggested, were taking full advantage  of the wind direction. Andy, the frogy commander, said this of the game;

'One of the French 74's got off table, as did one of the transports, the others following in line astern. Subject to any damage Dave might have inflicted I think the remaining merchants would have escaped in another turn or two. The other French 74's were still on table, at close range with the British.

Overall I think the French can claim victory, none of the men o' war had any significant damage; a couple of the merchants had lost some cargo due to damage inflicted, and one was running out of crew.

HMS Ardent was the ship caught by the stern rake, she was completely dismasted and had, I think, several fires started. Not surprising with a total of 23 damage cards drawn (6 hits @ 3 cards/hit because of the Stern Rake, one of which was a Joker = another 5 cards). A couple of the other RN ships had taken some damage, but I don't know the details.'

Sounds pretty good to me Andy, quite a convincing win for the French. That stern rake was pretty nasty, as stern rakes should be of course. That many hit cards at once could sink a ship or leave it a smoking ruin...always a laugh if it isn't your ship being hit. The Brits were forced to make a series of tricky manoeuvres to try and keep their guns trained on the enemy but this is easier said than done in a battle. The guys had fun and became a little more familiar with the rules, always a good thing...although I am a little biased :)

WRG 6th Edition
The third game being played was a trip to retro-ville. Richard and Bob C. fielded an army of Macedonians against Clive and Martin's Persians. Bob C. said this of the game;

It took me a while to get used to the charts and die rolls, but I really enjoyed it. Richard laid out the armies and told me when to put the archers in front or behind. He then used one group of light cavalry to roll up the Persian's left flank. Right, it did not go well for the Persians but they seemed to enjoy the game.
The melee is quite complex but with ancients, probably needs to be. I like the simultaneous moves. They give me all sorts of ideas for campaigns.

On the drive home Martin explained that the Persian army was of lower quality class-wise than the Macedonians and that made a Persian loss almost inevitable. I put this to Martin's compatriot, Clive. Clive had a slightly different view to Martin;

Martin and I thrashed them by killing at least 6 Macedonian figures for only the loss of the equivalent number of Persian units!

...Which seems to settle things I think! Usually, Ancient games at our club are usually run with Hail Caesar, Might of Arms or, very occasionally, DBA. The ancient players amongst us do have an interesting hankering for the old-school and do play the older rules on occasion. Personally, I do not like the old style rules, I find them slow and heavy going. You don't get any better or more historical results but do get the headaches and nosebleeds from the endless table reading.

Monday, 25 February 2013

A Cavalier attitude or, what I did instead

I didn't get to go to Cavalier this year, wifey was ill and so I stayed home to comfort her...I am a nice guy after all. 'Ealdgyth', I said, for 'tis her name, 'Ealdgyth, if the pain gets too much fear not, for thou shalt not find me wanting when the time cometh-eth'. A smile crept over her face that said she was indeed deeply comforted...or it may just have been another bout of wind it was difficult to tell that day; poor little love. 'I am a dab hand with the ol' pillow my sweet and would not stand by whilst you suffer...'. A small tear ran from her eye so touched was she.....although, she declined my suggestion that it might be a good idea to practice a bit (emergency pillow always on stand-by, just in case).

This all left me with a little spare time so I decided to familiarise my self with the Operation Squad rules again, in preparation for my game with Mark on Tuesday....only to find that they were missing! I thought I had lent them to club member Bob C. but no. Luckily, I did have a copy of the 'Modern' version of the rules at hand and a copy of the rules explanation sheet I drew up last year. I always get a tad confused on the mortar rules and didn't want to slow the game up. That took up a while and I am now better prepared....possibly...all I need now is some decent die rolls. Yeah, I know. I'm screwed no matter how well I know the rules. Mortars are a bit tricky to use in Op Squad. They can fire at a target in the open and in their own line of sight, so no problem there, but they need to be directed by the squad Sergeant and be within 20cm of him to hit anything else. The Sergeant must first 'spot' the target figure and then communicate that to his squad members, including the mortar crew. The mortar can then fire at the newly acquired target during its own activation long as the target doesn't move before the mortar can fire. Choosing a suitable target and getting good priority rolls is important.

That done, I took the dog for a walk in a local park I had not been to before and ended up considered the local topography in relation to the known historical features of the island (Sheppey). The park must have been part of an old estate although there are no obvious features that indicate a focal point, nor are there any obvious medieval manorial sites other than those still intact; it could be an Early Modern landscaped estate though, cool. Sheppey has a very interesting history and I think I have identified two possible sites for a conquest period Norman castle (other than the later one at Queenborough)...maps, field walking and aerial photographs can be so useful! There is a lot of history here that would be of interest to a wargamer for scenario ideas. Ah, the joys of being a wargaming social historian....anyway..........

So, after all of this (plus lunch, housework, a decision to paint up one box/unit of wargame figures a month, the realisation that I may have enough figures to build a modern British force for Operation Squad Modern Forces but actually not by about three figure types and a few trips to the lavy) I started getting the odd call from people telling me about Cavalier. It seems that club member Simon was seen ferrying box loads of kit to his car with a slight 'oh what have I done' look upon his usually happy face. Mark also enjoyed his run out and spoke to a lot of traders and clubs about coming along to Broadside; smiled a lot, handed out flyer's and booking forms. I have had three bookings from these already! Our good mate Ray, of Posties rejects fame, was having a good show, even sold some of his newly painted figures on the Bring & Buy. Sadly, he had his experience somewhat ruined when he realised that one of his items had been stolen! I dont think this is an issue peculiar to Cavalier but it is a risk with Bring & Buys; one of the reasons we chose to have a Flea Market system instead. Clint seemed to have a good show, bought a few goodies and spent some time chatting with wargame one does at these events. Clint also told me about one of the games being played at Cavalier. One club had been using 'Beneath the Lily Banners' but had discovered the rule set 'Maurice', by Sam Mustafa. They were so  bowled over by this set they now use it almost exclusively and highly recommend I then spent the rest of the evening looking at on line reviews!! The rules are played using a set of special cards which make the package some £35.00!! Why am I looking at these damn things??? Because I have Screaming Rule Book Fever, that's why!!! Damn you Clint.....

My research into Maurice have shown it to be very interesting and would accommodate most basing systems. Players are forced into making decisions based upon the cards in their hand at the time, the ability to gain new cards and some clever mechanics that account for national characteristics. An aspect that I came across in one review particularly caught my eye. Player A was moving a formation of cavalry but player B was able to interrupt the move with a card. This card allowed player B to place a new terrain feature, in this case some boggy ground, in the path of the cavalry and thus caused them issues. This is the sort of thing that happens in battles, an order from higher up the command chain cannot take into account the exact ground conditions the units have to deal with....nasty surprises crop up often. What other rule book provides this element in a game? Quirky? Yes. Traditional? Not really. A good game? It seems so......just need to find a set on ebay that someone has given up on and wants rid. Anyone???

So that is what I did rather than go to Cavalier. Bet you all wish I had gone now! :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

So, what are we doing now?

There is just so much to get through...given that I am turning into such a patchy blogger...that I am going to have to run this post in mini batches. In my defence, there is an awful lot happening and much of it just eats up my time usually set aside for blogging.

A famous member...
We now have a famous member...well, almost famous....well, as famous as a wargame club member can get without recourse to multiple, grisly and public mass murders anyway....and we really do not want to go through all that again! Our own Mark Pugh, Little Markie, has won the Readers Painting Competition run by Miniature Wargames! He entered some of his WW1 Belgian infantry, made by Brigade Models, but never said a word to us...his bestest friends! Anyway, well done Mark, good job. I have added a few pictures of Marks Belgians here. These are worthy winners in any painting competition but, personally, I don't think they are Mark's best work...which just goes to show what a revoltingly talented bod ol' Markie is, just don't tell him I said so. Well done mate, good job!

Bloody websites... :(
The website saga continues. The host company are refusing to unlock the site and it has even taken us a series of arguments, threats and begging just to get them to allow us to redirect it! As it stands today, anyone visiting will be redirected to a page on the Brigade Models site. There is also a page on this blog site now that keeps you updated about new traders and clubs but none of these are as effective as our website. We are now having to build an entirely new site and come up with a new domain name to avoid this hacker (git) that caused all this grief in the first place. If we keep the old domain name we risk another attack so we need to build in some safeguards. All of this is a total pain in the arse of course and just one more job to add to the ever growing pile. Git. The plan is that we will build a site, probably using Wordpress, between now and June and release it during/post Broadside. Ho-hum.

Model Kits...
We have recently purchased a collection of completed models following the death of family member of a friend of the club. Some of it is very usual but it also has a pile of 20mm planes, including half a dozen Lancaster bombers, and some vehicles...including some larger scale stuff we can use as terrain for larger figure scale games like Normandy Firefight. There are several large boxes of the stuff taking up room I do not have in my hallway but I hope to have them out by the next club meeting....I am not allowed to bring them home again :S

Email gaming...
I'm in the process of creating a 'Play by Email' game for club members. It is all coming together quite nicely and I am currently working on the combat mechanisms. The maps are something I keep returning to, I have a main map of sorts, built using the Games Workshop Mighty Empires plastic terrain tile set. I now plan to expand upon this and draw up each of the hexagonal tiles within its own hexagonal grid. Each will be emailed out as part of a huge information pack to each member taking part. I know what you are thinking...I know, I know... if you are so busy (too busy to even blog apparently!) what are you doing messing around with this? Fair question. This is my 'Toilet Project'. I started having Toilet Projects whilst working on my 40,000 word Masters Research Thesis, something I could use to distract myself from the normal stuff without eating into the time that work needed....and I do this whilst on the loo, hence the whole 'Toilet Project' thing. This does mean that progress can be a little random of course but I am rarely disturbed and ideas can really get a good a manner of speaking. I will keep you posted on progress (of the game!!) and how I intend to deal with the various mechanics such a project needs. It will be based, loosely, upon the AWI and I will be allowing the players as much of a free reign as they want; they can also try and do anythng they long as they do not get miffed if that want goes horribly wrong, as strange and luck pushing wants often do.....

Download page!
This blog now has multiple pages!!! Something forced on me by the whole website saga, so every cloud does have some silver in it somewhere. The latest page is for free downloads open to anybody and will be added to over time. At the moment it only has the new Worminator rule but keep an eye on it...I have plans!
If there is anything that you have that you would like to share....or if there is something you would like me to try and make available then let me know!

The next Club Meeting...
I have booked a game of Operation Squad with Mark for the next club night. I will give my Italian Paras an outing against Mark's newly finished British Paras...which will no doubt look stunning. This should be a good game, I have no idea how Mark's squad is made up, what the weapon mix etc will be. My lot have a neat little mortar that can be quite effective...or be bloody useless of course, but this needs careful positioning. I am really looking forward to this game, I haven't really played a game myself for ages, usually end up refereeing, so win lose or draw I am determined to enjoy my game! Op' Squad is a great game for a club night and it really makes you think about what you want to do; it's not just a dice rolling competition! I will post a report after the meeting!!!!!!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Starting 2013....late, obviously :(

Yes, yes...I know. First post of 2013 its in February! It also carries an important request for help too, so please keep reading.

In my defence, albeit a poor one, I have been fighting some crappy illness for about three months. Every day from mid afternoon to early evening it feels as if I have flu and I just cannot shift it. I have been better these last few weeks but have been trying to catch up with club stuff, the club AGM, Broadside business and then, just as I was getting a grip (oo-er), the club website came crashing down!!!

Some git in Malaysia hacked (git) the site in early January but we manged to rescue it, at least our provider did. I had just enough time to get it up to date again when we were hacked into (git) a second time! Our Internet provider looked into it again but this time the hosting company (gets complicated, don't it) decided that we were a major infection risk and shut the site down! They were concerned that our site would allow the hacker (git) to gain access to their other sites so down we went. It now seems that we have become a bit of a piggy-in-the-middle between the provider and the host company as they try to sort things out. The site will not be released until the hosts are convinced we are clean again...I feel so dirty. Meanwhile, we are left site-less and have a major wargame show to organise and promote just four months away!!!!

The great guys at the Maidstone Wargame Society and Brigade Models then came to our rescue! Hurrah!!!! They offered us a page on the Brigade Models site for us to advertise Broadside, all we had to do was temporarily redirect our own site to take visitors to this new page....easy. The new page was built and the site redirected.....but nothing happened...nothing!!!! The hosts had shut us down so completely we couldn't even redirect!!! So much time, effort and energy wasted.

So, where are we now? The site has had to be downloaded onto a disk and sent to the hosts by our providers, they will then work some technical jiggery-pokery and clean the site of whatever nasty the hacker (git) put into to it and then, hopefully, upload it back onto the web...where I will have to spend an age updating everything, the main program engine, all of the add-on modules, passwords and every file added and added to since the last safe back up. The last I heard (Tuesday afternoon) was that the damn disk was still in transit to the hosts!

To get us through this rough time, I have adapted this blog site to also carry up to date Broadside news; see the extra labels under the main title picture. The direct link is . We have also created a special Facebook page to cover Broadside and need as many people to 'Like' this as possible 

Please, please can as many of you as possible pass on this new data and keep an eye on the two sites to increase our reach.

It could well be that our site is back up and running sooner than later, but this has been a bit of an eye opener for us and we will keep these back-ups in place whatever happens. damn, life gets complicated!!


The club held its AGM on Saturday. Usually, we run it during one of our evening meetings but this takes up valuable playing time! So, we decided to hold it as a special the Woolpack Inn, Iwade...and have a pint and a meal while we were at it; obviously! This proved to be a major success, twelve out of fourteen members took part...unheard off attendance no doubt encouraged by the fact that it was all free...and, importantly, we got a lot of stuff done too.

Talk wandered to a possible game for Broadside 2014 - can't say anymore, obviously, but it has been causing a lot of emails! The meeting should have ended with the singing of the official club song, led by the Club Secretary...but this was missed out following a request by the Woolpack Inn staff...a dozen enthusiastic wargamers talking shop is scary enough for the normal people enjoying a quiet lunch time as it is. In hindsight, perhaps we should consider something more....traditional? Something for the next AGM perhaps? What do you think?

Official Club Song of the Milton Hundred Wargames Club;

Isn't it awfully nice to have a penis?
Isn't it frightfully good to have a dong?
It's swell to have a stiffy,
It's divine to own a dick.
From the tiniest little todger
To the world's biggest prick!
So three cheers for your willy or John Thomas.
Hooray for your one-eyed trousers snake.
Your piece of pork, your wife's best friend,
Your Percy or your cock.
You can wrap it up in ribbons,
You can slip it in your sock.
Just don't take it out in public,
Or they will put you in the dock
    ...And you won't