Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Blue Wizard is about to DIE!!!!! (short AAR and thoughts on the game)

We were both a bit frazzled last night, so Steve and I opted for a light game. This was just the opportunity I needed to drag out Blue Wizard is About to DIE!!!! This is a game based around the old Atari favourite Gauntlet, so I was quite keen to try it out, because I had fond memories of spending all night playing Gauntlet with my mates. I bought it from Wargame Vault as a pdf and printed all the components a couple of weeks ago. Now I had the opportunity to see how it actually played.

Description
The game can be played with 1-5 players. Players take the role of Amazon, Barbarian, Elf and Wizard. Each character has three lives, so when you die you are not out of the game immediately. If you use up your three lives, you must buy a new one by putting 50 gold in the slot or you are out of the game. In some variants, one player can take the role of Sorcerer and takes responsibility for moving all the monsters and generally being mean to the characters.
Amazon, Barbarian, Elf and Wizard stand ready to enter the dungeon

Characters are rated for the number of attacks they may make each turn and the amount of damage they can do. Amazon has a low power short range attack and a medium power melee attack. Barbarian is a total melee monster but has no ranged attack. Elf and Wizard both have low power melee attacks and good long-range attacks. Each character also has a special attack, which costs gold and health points to use but can prove quite devastating. Note to self: do not fire a lightning bolt at an adjacent monster. It hurts!

All characters move the same distance, but their speed is represented by the directions they may move in. Amazon may move in any direction. Wizard may make one diagonal move and may pass through one wall per turn. Barbarian and Elf may not move diagonally at all.

They must make their way through three dungeon levels filled with Grunks, Slimes and Spooks to find and defeat Sorcerer on the fourth level. On the way, they can search treasure chests for power-ups and healing, while trying to avoid the dreaded Freeze Trap.

The game is played semi-cooperatively. All players are on the same side but only one can actually win, while it is possible for all of them to lose. The winner is the character with the most gold at the end.
Level 1: Amazon and Wizard work together to clear their side of the dungeon. Barbarian is happy on his own, while Elf is trying to steal all the treasure and avoid the Grunks.
Monsters move towards the nearest players and attack them with little strategy and lots of brute force. They spawn each turn in the corners of the dungeon level and move towards the nearest character. If they end their move in range, they automatically do damage.
Level 3: Spooks, Slimes and Grunts everywhere! Tough level.
The Game
We had a thoroughly enjoyable game. Levels 1 and 2 went well for us. The monsters spawned and were killed at about the same rate. We found some treasure and moved on. Then we hit Level 3 and suddenly the flood-gates opened. We were swarmed by all types of monsters and all the characters lost lives trying to get through from the entrance to the exit portal. We should have had a couple of characters stand on portals to slow the rate of advance but we were not cooperating well, as we tried to get each other killed and take the magic items that the other dropped. Eventually we did it, and fought Sorcerer on the fourth level. After the difficulties of Level 3, Level 4 was almost an anti-climax. Sorcerer did little damage and we wore him down quickly. Victory was ours and Wizard won by having the most gold, despite having blown himself up with a lighting bolt at one point.

The Verdict
It was good fun. The game took longer than expected, but it worked well. The rules required some interpretation in places. They are short and to the point, but could have done with a bit more explanation in places. Aesthetically, the printed components are nice, but I was glad that I had dug out some figures to use instead of the character counters. Next time I shall dig out figures for the monsters too. Using figures lifted the game visually. It also leaves me tempted to produce the dungeon levels using my Hirst Arts moulds. That said, I think this is an occasional game, and not a regular game, so the effort is probably not justified. It is still a very good value-for-money game. At £3 (plus ink and card), I feel like I got a pretty decent product. I shall dig it out again next time we are too frazzled to play something more serious.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

So, umm, I wrote a book ...


Over the Summer, a friend and I wrote a book about Vikings. It will be published in March, but is already up on Amazon for pre-order. If you already know a lot about Vikings, then this is the book to buy your friends to get them interested too. If you know little or nothing about Vikings, then this is the book for you. It's a general history with pictures and pull-out sections to illustrate all the points made. It also includes ideas for places to visit that are related to Vikings, so you can investigate their haunts in more detail. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

The publisher's blurb:
'From the remote and unforgiving landscape of northern Europe, the Vikings voyaged to far-flung areas of the world with extraordinary consequences. The Viking Experience examines the origins, explorations and settlements of these seafaring people, exploring their impact on the world as colonizers, craftsmen, traders and state-makers. This highly illustrated book provides a revealing portrait of the Vikings incredible legacy with a collection of facsimiles and translations of rare documents, including: Drawings and photographs from archaeological dig sites An extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, describing a Viking raid on Lindisfarne The Skálholt map that marks Norse discoveries in the western Atlantic A page from the Stockholm Codex Aureus, an illuminated manuscript that was looted by the Vikings The Vinland map showing Norse exploration of America as an example of recreated Viking history.'

I really have to admit to being a little giddy and excited about this. :) 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Lack of Progress

I have been painting some Irregular Miniatures 6mm WW1 French troops for our planned 1914 campaign next year. I have also done a little more work on expanding the 15mm Pieces of Eight/ Maurice army. However, progress is slow and painting time is limited, so they are not finished and ready for photographing yet. I am also finding that I am not motivated to paint much at the moment, so, instead, here is a photo of my cats. Javier asked for cat pictures, so blame him. :)
Victor (left) and Jasmine

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Maurice - The First Battle and First Impressions

We played Maurice last week. It was out first time out with the rules and we were interested to see how they worked. For those that do not know, Maurice uses a card draw system instead of rolling dice for command points or just permitting you to move everything at one go.

Each player starts with a hand of cards, which have a number in their top left corner. This number is the distance in base widths from the general, that a force (group of units) may be activated. To activate a force, you measure the distance to the force from the general and play a number of cards whose value equals or exceeds that distance. The actions you take determine how many new cards you may draw on that turn. If you charge, you get no cards; if you pass you get three cards; and other actions permit you to draw one or two cards to replenish your hand. This means that attacking is difficult because you can quickly run out of cards and thus the attack loses momentum.

The game is very much about hand management then. Maurice also uses a system of alternate activation. The first player activates a unit or force, and then the second player does the same. Repeat until the battle is over. However, you are not restricted to only activating units that have not previously been activated. Instead, you can activate the same force continuously until it is annihilated or runs out of steam. This permits grand flanking manoeuvres at the expense of the rest of your army standing still.

Steve brought his newly painted Russian Great Northern War army round, while I used my Swedish GNW army. For the sake of simplicity, we ignored pikes and early eighteenth-century artillery rules, which are in Maurice for just this period.
The view from the Russian lines at the start of the battle
We chose to play a standard encounter battle and adopted the set-up procedure from the free Maurice Lite rules, although we used the full rules for everything else. Steve chose lots of infantry, while I chose a force with a balance of infantry and cavalry.

Russian cavalry open the assault with a charge on the Swedish left wing.
We began with a bombardment on both sides, which gave us a chance to cause some disruption to the enemy, while also building our hands up to permit an assault. The cotton wool in front of the guns not only looks cool, but it is also a marker showing that the guns cannot move without being given a march order first. The Russians charged first.

The Russian charge stalls
Although they succeed in causing more damage to the enemy than they suffered, the Russian cavalry assault stalled because they were too far from their general and Steve quickly ran out of cards trying to press the assault. This gave me a chance to rally my troops, who were closer to my general, and then to throw them back at the tired Russian cavalry.

Russians charge in the centre, while the Swedish cavalry clears the right flank
In the end, this first assault saw two of the Russian cavalry units and one of the Swedish units routed. I managed to gain the advantage, but my dice rolling was very low throughout this game, so I did not do as well as I should.

Meanwhile, in the centre, Steve advanced his infantry, only to find a previously unseen bog in his way. Some cards permit you to play events instead of using them for command purposes. One of these is the much complained about "how did that get there?" card, which allows you to place a small area of rough going at any point on the battlefield. I got it and used it to slow Steve's advance. The rest of Steve's infantry managed to advance and drive off one of my infantry regiments at the cost of one of his own. By this point I was cursing my dice and threatening them with a watery grave, because I could only roll low and cause minimal casualties, while he seemed to be rolling high for everything.

On the right flank, things were a bit different. My cavalry charged and drove off his cavalry. They then turned and prepared to charge the flank of his infantry, who were slowed by the bog, and his artillery, who looked ripe for the picking. It was also at this point that I got too excited with the game and forgot to take any more photos!

As it turned out, Steve's high rolling did for him. Each army has a morale total. When units rout you dice to see how many moral points the army loses. Steve's high rolling throughout the game caused his army's morale to disappear in a welter of high rolls. Although I took more casualties, my low rolling also meant that my army stood firm. I had lost more units but retained my morale and won the day. Huzzah!

Opinion
So, what did we think of the rules?

The hand management aspect is rather good. It forces you to consider your priorities and plan ahead. It also meant that the game had a rather stately pace as we acted, paused to recover/draw cards and then acted again. Assaults petered out as cards ran out, and both sides had to step back to recover. This felt right for the period.

The activation system was good. Being able to repeatedly activate one force was both a blessing and a curse. It meant that you could get lost in trying to push one part of your plan while forgetting about the rest. Also, if you focused on a flank and moved your general over there to make it easier, then you were in trouble if your other flank was attacked, because it would cost a lot cards to respond.

Overall, the pace and structure of the game worked for us. We enjoy games where you have to plan several moves in advance to be able to carry out your plans, and this is one of those games. You cannot simply react as you might in a lot of other games. We are looking forward to our next game now. I can still imagine using Polemos: GNW for historical games and these more for imagi-nation games, but it will be interesting to try a historical refight or two with Maurice.

I think that these rules will work well with C. S. Grant's Scenarios for Wargames, and I plan to string several of them together as a mini-campaign, once we are suitably au fait with the rules. I am also keen to try them with Grant's Programmed Wargames Scenarios. They have the right Olde Skool feel to them, which is good.

Anyway, I would suggest giving Maurice a try, if you are interested in the first half of the eighteenth century. Now I must also consider how to include the devices and engines of our Lacepunk game in Maurice terms. Hmmm ...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Spectators at the Picnic War and Other New Stuff

I am a sucker for making nice markers for my games, and for games with extras, as it were. Following the production of my objective marker for the Swedish GNW army, I decided to make a morale tracker for Maurice too.

The Morale Tracker
The scene: Outside a small country inn in Pommedeterrania, Nord Sachsen.

"Don't you two have anything better to do with your day?" Frau Brauerinne asked the two gentlemen that were were only customers at his unearthly hour of the morning.
"But Frau Brauerinne," protested Herr Rotearmee, "How could we have anything better to do on a fine Tuesday morning than sit outside your inn with our wargame, while the armies of Geataland and Shortengrad gather on the plain before us?"
"Indeed," added Herr Blaupants, "Your ale is the finest in the region, the weather is good and we have a grand entertainment before us. What else could be better?"
"What is more," appended his colleague, "We have here on our table the finest in kriegsspiel. We can model the battle that is about to be fought over the honour of Miss van Frufru based on the dispositions of the two armies as we observe them."
"Yes," continued Herr Blaupants, "It will be a grand entertainment, and when the citizens of Bad Reinigung come out to observe the battle, we can use our model to make a small fortune by betting on the outcome."
The two old gentlemen cackled heartily and toasted each other with steins of ale.
"Oh ..." Frau Brauerinne failed to finish her sentence, speechless. She waved her fist with frustration and stomped off.

Building found in a box at Caliver Books.
Figures and benches by Baccus 6mm.
Tree from Irregular Miniatures.
Dice frames from Minibits.

Other new stuff
Every so often I paint a Swedish army for the Seven Years War in 15mm. I have sold every other one that I have painted, but have started another one for our Pieces of Eight game that will one day see the light of day. These two units will be government musketeers in Pieces of Eight. I rather hope that I shall be able to expand this army to a full Maurice army too.
Upplands Regiment

Västerbottens Regiment
Figures are Freikorps 15 from LKM.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Battle of Stamford Bridge, September 21st 2013.

I've been somewhat tardy in posting this report. I dragged my poor, long-suffering other half to Stamford Bridge on Sunday 21st September. The Battle of Stamford Bridge Society were spending the weekend commemorating the Battle of Stamford Bridge, which saw Harald hardrada defeated by Harold Godwinsson on 25th September 1066.

There were reenactors aplenty wandering around with tents set up and happy to talk to anyone with questions. The society had a small stall with information and some goodies to buy. Chris Rock (no, not that one) was selling his pamphlet/book on the battle, and there was barbeque to be had too. I'm looking forward to the 950th anniversary of this battle now and hope that this event expands significantly before then. Here are some photos to whet your appetite for all things Viking (and Saxon too, if you lean that way).

Warming up for the main event. There were demonstrations of all the melee weapons used by both sides
Facing the shieldwall
Viking food, but not a pickled herring in sight!
Part of the camp
Please park your longships only in the designated bays. Failure to comply will result in the issuing of a Fixed Penalty Notice
The Saxon standard
The Vikings arrive (apparently Tostig was delayed due to a hangover)
The Saxons arrive. They achieved surprise by sneaking up behind a hedge. I think they should have done that at Hastings too.
The Vikings form up for the battle
The whole of the camp area

Friday, 27 September 2013

How The Picnic War started

"Sir, I think you should look at this?"
"What is it, Svensson?"
"Sir, it appears to be Miss van Frufru."
"Egad, what's she doing here? Hand me my telescope."
All figures by Baccus 6mm
"By gad, Svensson, that's not just my Fifi. That's Count Ivan Bigunov too. And they appear to be having a picnic. Oh the poor girl. With what horrors has the threatened her that she sits there so quietly and makes no attempt to ride away? He must have lain in wait for her to be so prepared that he can lay on a picnic so replete with food. See, Svensson, how she takes a bite of his sausage, so unwillingly, and yet she chokes it down, for she is helpless in his clutches. See how Madame Cunegonde, Miss van Frufru's maid, must serve both the vile Count and my Fifi. See how Fifi must drink his vile wine and sample all the viands he has placed in front of her. She does well to give him no cause to strike her or worse. Oh, my Fifi, how brave you are to sit there so stoically. How courageously you fend off his detestable advances ... but wait ... what is this? Oh dear God, no! It cannot be! But I see with my own eyes that it is true. He ... has ... bagpipes! Will he now play the bagpipes with my Fifi? Alas, it must be so."

"Svensson, inform the army that we are no longer on exercise. We must to war for the honour of my poor Fifi, before the despicable Count can force her to learn to play the bagpipes."

My enthusiasm for eighteenth-century wargames, and indeed my painting mojo, which has languished for most of this year, has been rekindled by a game of Polemos the other day. We also plan to play Maurice, which requires me to have an objective marker. I looked online to see what others had done, and checked my ULP for suitable figures. In the end I resolved to do a picnic scene with the poor Miss Fifi van Frufru being serenaded by the foul, warty Count Ivan Bigunov. This is the result. It uses an early eighteenth century horseholder from a dragoons pack and some figures from one of the camp packs.




Monday, 23 September 2013

Today in the Man Cave

Over on my Talomir Tales blog, I featured a photo of the Tereken secret weapon in action:
Photobomb level: Cat
One of my cats, Victor, has a tendency to want to be involved in everything, so he photobombed the above shot. Now Javier of Javier at War wants a photo of him. Who am I to deny him this pleasure? Here are a couple of shots:
Victor likes to help me when I am trying to work and when I am taking a Facebook break. This is basically how my office looks today.

Victor also manages to curl up really small in one of his beds (yes he has multiple beds around the house)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Beer Standard

Sometimes I feel the need to justify my gaming purchases in terms other than their utility for planned games. Most recently I have applied this to board games, because figure games are justified by my endless arms race with Steve. Board games do not require one of us to buy an opposing force, so their purchase must be justified in terms of how much play they should get. To do this, I apply the beer standard.
The premise is quite simple and is based on the price of a pint of beer. I look at the playing time of the game and think how quickly I would normally drink a pint of beer. The rest is maths. Of course, this justification does not really hold now that I rarely get to the pub, but I still consider its application to be valid. Perhaps I should update it based on the price of a bottle of wine drunk at home instead ...


Anyway, changes in my lifestyle aside, it is a standard that has stood me in good stead for justifying buying games. One example of my need to justify games buying is in the area of Advanced Squad Leader modules. I really like ASL and bought into too many Third Party Publisher modules once I had the core modules. These days I only buy the new core modules and historical sets to keep up to date. I have literally thousands of scenarios kicking around and could probably play ASL every day for the rest of my life without repeating a scenario. With the core modules, I have 122 scenarios. Each will take on average about three hours to complete. Some are longer, while some are shorter, but three hours is probably a good average. That means that I have 366 hours of playing time. I used to drink a pint in the pub at a rate of about one per 20-30 minutes. That means that my expenditure on ASL core modules should have been between 732 pints and 1098 pints. At current local prices of £2.30 per pint, that equals an expenditure of between £1683.60 and £2525.40. That seems like ASL is good value to me.

What? You mean I should calculate it on the basis of actual playing time, not projected playing time? That does not sound useful to me. Oh well. Let's have a look at that. According to ROAR, the site where I have logged some of my games, I have played 47 games of ASL since 1999. I know that figure to be wrong, because there are gaps where I know I was at Intensive Fire, the big ASL tournament in Bournemouth. At one of those tournaments, I even played 13 games over one weekend. I did not get much sleep that time. So, I can safely double the 47 games played. I could probably triple it, but won't. Let's look at the recorded games. 47 games with an average playing time of three hours equals 141 hours or between 282 and 423 pints. At current beer prices, that means that my ASL habit is only justifiable if I have spent less than £650 on supplements. That's a bit close for comfort to what I have really spent. Let's double the number of games, because I think I can justify that. Less than £1300 on ASL modules? Yes, that sounds much better. My ASL habit is fully justified in terms of the beer standard, and is becoming even more justified because I have not spent much on it in recent years, while I am now getting more games played thanks to a new ASL friend moving into the area. So, the next time my wife asks if I really need a new module, I need only point out that I could be spending that much down the pub instead.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Heroic Sir Hugo defeats Sir Guy Le Batard - Warheads Battle Report

Over on the I've seen the light blog, Steve has recorded our latest game in doggerel verse. We played the first two scenarios from Warheads, which involved a duel at a bridge to get to grips with the combat system, followed by a raid on a grain store. Here is a taster photo to encourage you to visit Steve's blog.
Sir Hugo and Sir Guy meet at a bridge
Steve had made some terrain that perfectly suited the style of the Warheads figures. Top job. The Warheads rules were simple enough although there were a couple of questions about how the stats had been calculated for the minions. Based on our reading of the rules, they did not add up right. We plan to check that later. Even though there were some questions, the whole game was great fun and I totally got into character as Sir Hugo. For the record, I also totally diced Steve. It seemed that getting into character as the hero set the stage for a heroic victory.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

An Analysis of Bwendi Military Forces on Beltene

Crikey, my last post on here was in May. That is months ago. Well, I guess I have been busy and we have not been gaming much lately, but that is still a pretty poor show on my part. Inspired by a post on Waystar High Port about the Imperial army in the sectors that he is building, I started to think what forces would be available to Steve and I in our quest for domination of Beltene. I have dealt previously (here, here and here) with lower level forces for the Bwendi, so this post makes a start on the larger formations available.

The first port of call was JTAS 10 as seen in kobold's post. I decided to use the table as written. So, we have a balkanised world with UWP: B 866673-9 Ag Ni Ri G630 Na. Tech Level is 9 and the Population is 6. This gives 15 battalions available on the world. Striker identifies battalions as approximately 500 people, so that means that of the six million inhabitants on this planet, 7500 are in the army. That does not sound like very large armies at all, when they have to be divided between two sides.

Striker II offers some additional thoughts on what is available: approximately 1% of a warlike population. Yes, both Bwendi and Albion count as warlike: the former because it is forced to defend itself against the latter all the time; the latter because it is always attacking the former. Using this figure, we see that about 60000 people are in the armed forces. Beltene has a high hydrographic percentage, so we shall use the highest figure suggested of 10% of the available forces being in the wet navy. Striker II suggests 20% to 30% in the air forces, which will include orbital and space operations in our case. Let's go with 25%. The remainder are in the army. Our force breakdown now looks like this:

  • Navy: 6000 personnel;
  • Aerospace Forces: 15000 personnel; and
  • Army: 39000 personnel.
Focusing on the army, Striker II offers a standard division equivalent of 20000 personnel, so let's count the army total as two division equivalents. A division equivalent includes 10 manoeuvre or combat battalions of 500 personnel each, 10 support battalions of 500 personnel each and 10000 personnel in the infrastructure behind these units. This means that there are 10000 front-line troops on Beltene, which is slightly higher than the JTAS figure gives, but I am happy to go with it, because it suits how I envisage the state of Beltene with all that Albion aggression going on. So, what does this mean for the Bwendi?

We divide the numbers in half to give the personnel available to each side. Both nations have 30500 personnel involved in their armed forces (rounding up to make the numbers work the way I want. I'll just increase the population to suit later.). I don't know how Steve will want to break his forces down, but I am happy to go with percentages like those given in Striker II.

The Bwendi Navy
It has 3000 personnel, of whom about half will be infrastructure and one quarter will be support troops running cargo and supply vessels. That leaves a front-line force of 750 personnel for me to crew ships with. That is about enough to crew a WW2 light cruiser. I don't envisage traditional capital ships as part of the world's background, because technology changes mean that smaller ships can pack a higher punch. Also, the action is all focused around the one land mass so far, which means that sea-going vessels are not entirely necessary. Additionally, aerospace forces would probably make them too vulnerable, so the navy will consist of smaller vessels equivalent to modern guided missile destroyers and fast attack craft. With the number of crew available, I imagine that the navy will have two to four destroyers (each with a crew of 100 to 150 personnel) and maybe a dozen fast attack craft (each with a crew of 25 to 30 personnel). I need to look at what inspiration and models are available to make a final decision on this though. Still, it will be fun to bombard Avalondon from sea once we get a proper war going on Beltene.

The Bwendi Aerospace Patrol
The BAP has 7500 personnel, of whom 1500 are frontline crew. These are divided between the crews of pure aircraft, space fighters and bombers, and system defence craft. I need to start designing craft to work out what is available in total.

The Bwendi Republican Army
This consists of 20000 personnel, of whom 5000 are front-line troops. Striker II offers percentages for troop morale and equipment quality. Using these, I can expect that I shall have:
  • 2000 experienced (i.e. regular) troops;
  • 2500 veteran troops; and
  • 500 elite troops.
I can also expect to have:
  • 2000 poorly-equipped troops;
  • 2500 averagely-equipped troops; and
  • 500 well-equipped troops.
I shall give the best equipment to the best-trained troops. The backbone of the army is the veteran troops with extensive combat experience in the many brushfire wars of Beltene. These are the armoured infantry of the regular army. A Bwendi armoured infantry company consists of 149 troops, so a battalion of three companies will have 447 troops and will need a battalion command unit. I shall also allow for battalion-level weapons teams of unspecified type (at least until I find some models I really like) and add a Scout platoon of three scout teams (total of 18 troops). The battalion troops will also need some heavier EW/ECW troops. Based on the standard AFV, each section will have no more than nine troops plus the AFV crew of two. The weapons teams will probably be three or four crew per weapon. Assuming towed weapons with indirect fire capability, I shall allow for a battery of three, each with its own transport AFV. The final battalion consists of:
  • 1 Battalion Command Section (6 troops, 1 AFV)
  • 1 Battalion Communications and Electronic Warfare Team (8 troops, 2 AFVs)
  • 1 Battalion Heavy Support Battery (18 troops, 3 AFVs, 3 heavy support weapons)
  • 1 Scout Platoon (18 troops, 9 scout vehicles)
  • 3 Armoured Infantry Companies (447 troops, 52 AFVs)
That's 497 troops, which fits well with the Striker II numbers. A regiment will then have three battalions, being around 1500 troops with the regimental command unit. As you can see, I am short one battalion to produce two regiments, so I shall include in one of the regiments a battalion of experienced troops with poorer equipment. These are the newer recruits. Having a percentage of the regular army with poor equipment indicates that a percentage of their transport vehicles may be in for repair or have been knocked out and not replaced yet.

A tank battalion will consist of three tank companies, each with three tank platoons and an armoured scout platoon. The basic tank platoon has 8 tanks with a total of 31 crew. The company command consists of a command tank and an armoured communications vehicle (2 vehicles, 7 crew), bringing the company size to 100 crew. The armoured scout platoon consists of 3 scout troops each with 3 light tanks (9 light tanks, 27 crew). The battalion probably needs a heavy weapons platoon. I like the idea of an MLRS system, so we shall have a battery of three of those (3 vehicles, 12 crew, and now I know what my next purchase from GZG will be!). Battalion command will consist of a command tank and a communications vehicle just like the company command. The battalion will consist of:
  • 1 Battalion Command Troop (2 vehicles, 7 crew);
  • 1 Battalion Heavy Support Battery (3 vehicles, 12 crew)
  • 1 Armoured Scout Platoon (9 tanks, 27 crew)
  • 3 Tank Companies (26 tanks, 300 crew)
That gives me a well-equipped battalion consisting of 346 crew, leaving me space for adding an airmobile elite company of around 100 troops and a small commando force.

The remaining 1500 troops are members of the Bwendi Uniform Militia Regiments. BUM units are generally organised on a local level with the number of platoons present being determined by the local population rather than military necessity. Their role is usually local defence but the overall nominal organisation of the BUM battalion is as follows:
  • 1 Battalion Command Section (5 personnel)
  • 3 Infantry Companies (285 personnel)
A regiment consists of 3 battalions with a regimental command section of 5 men for a total of 870 personnel. The astute will notice that the militia regiment numbers exceed the total available personnel. Most militia units are below strength so the total strength of both regiments is approximately 1500 personnel. Heavy support for the militia is provided by the regular army and transport generally consists of whatever is available in the local area, although a pool of army trucks is available in some areas. It is not unknown for some BUMs to drive their section into battle in their own personal vehicles.

So, now I know that the Bwendi army consists of:
  • 2 understrength Militia Regiments;
  • 2 Armoured Infantry Regiments;
  • 1 Tank Battalion;
  • 1 Airmobile Company; and
  • 1 Special Forces Commando.

Using all this in games
The following ideas are ways to incorporate the above meanderings into scenario design and game play. They have not been tested and are likely to change as I develop the army further.

At the start of the game, assemble a full strength force of the appropriate type as determined by the scenario, and then dice according to type using the numbers outlined below to see what quality the troops are and what equipment is available or missing.

Armoured Infantry:
Dice for all vehicles using 1d6. On a 6, the vehicle is not available.

Troop Quality (1d10):
1-2 Experienced
3-9 Veteran
10 Elite

Militia Infantry:
Dice for each figure/stand (depending on rules in use) using 1d10. On an 8 or 9, that figure/stand is not available for the current battle.

Dice for each section using 1d6. On a 6, enough vehicles are available to carry that section, otherwise it walks.

Troop Quality (1d10):
1-8 Experienced
9-10 Veteran

Tank Units:
Troop Quality (1d10):
1 Experienced
2-7 Veteran
8-10 Elite

Airmobile:
Always have transport.

Troop Quality (1d10):
1-6 Veteran
7-10 Elite

Special Forces:
Always have transport if needed.
Always Elite

Friday, 17 May 2013

Tigers by the Tail - Tomorrow's War AAR

We played the scenario 'Tigers by the Tail' the other day. This scenario pits two ultra-high tech grav tanks versus five near-future tracked tanks in an ambush scenario. It is one of the scenarios from the TW rulebook and is there expressly for the purpose of practising the vehicles rules. We got some bits wrong, had a few questions about interpretation of the rules but generally had a great time: enough of a great time that I only remembered to take one photograph throughout the game!

Captain Kolawski grinned as the enemy tanks came into view. The trap was working well. He’d knock out the lead tank, while Sergeant O’Donnelly would take out the back tank. Between them they could wipe up the rest of the commies. He couldn’t believe they would have sent such pitiful vehicles into combat, they would have been out of date in his grandfather’s time. You could see the plumes of smoke from their diesel engines miles away, and as for the noise. “Rear vehicle destroyed.” Whooped O’Donnelly, over the radio.”They didn’t even see us.”
The two US grav tanks lurk menacingly on the far side of the battlefield. One DPRG tank at the rear of the column has been destroyed. One is about to exit the battlefield. Another has turned to face its attacker, while two others seek the cover of the woods
Just then the lead vehicle came into sight. His tank barely moved, as the main cannon fired. A satisfying burst of flame showed the hit on the viewscreen. The tank juddered to a halt, then in a burst of blue smoke the engine started again. Suddenly the radio burst into life. “This is General MacArthur-Park speaking. Could you give me an update as to your position, Captain?” “We have met and are engaging the enemy, Sir,” replied Kolawski.
(The only fog of war card that affected the game was one Steve drew. It involved high command interfering directly with events on the battlefield so he lost initiative immediately and could not regain it for the rest of the game. In the scenario the US force is meant to have initiative for the first two turns to represent their ambush.)

Just then the second tank appeared. Before Kolawski could react it had fired a shot at them. The shot pinged off the front armour. Again their own cannon fired, causing the track of the new enemy to uncurl from the left hand side. The lead tank lurched forward again heading towards deeper vegetation. Even with their advanced sensors it would escape in there. “Well done Captain, carry on and score one for the good guys.” Barked the General. Sergeant O’Donnelly’s voice came through the speaker. “Second tank has been immobilised, Captain. Going after the third…” The speaker blurted out static, then came a robotic voice. “The other caller has disconnected.”
(Yay, I managed to destroy one of the US tanks through its front armour! The US tanks had the advantage in being able to ensure that they present front armour at all times due to their superior mobility. This made quite a difference to my ability to hurt them)

Captain Kolawski frantically viewed the telemetry screen in front of him. The Sergeant’s tank was down and crippled, but all the crews life signs were in the green. Another shot lanced out from the crippled second tank and the tank rocked. “Guns damaged, Captain,” yelled Corporal Kennedy. “Get that tank put out of action now,” he ordered back. “Then after that other tank.” Their gun fired again, this time the crippled tank fell silent. The tank moved rapidly and soon they were behind the remaining tank. Just time for one shoot before it disappeared into the thick jungle. As the enemy tank fell into the sights the tank suddenly lurched and the shot went wide. “Damnations.” Cried Kolawski and slammed the panel in front of him. Still they had stopped three, but at the cost of one of their own.
(With the scenario over, we took stock of the damage. Steve had brewed up two of my DPRG tanks and immobilised one, counting three kills. I had exited two tanks and killed one of Steve's US tanks. The other US tank had a damaged gun, but that did not score any points. The final score was 6 VPs to Steve and 5 VPs to me. Steve won in what was a very close game.)

This was a great scenario to play as training for vehicle actions. I think we need to try it again, because I can see a range of opportunities for the US tanks to make this into a serious kicking for the DPRG. I'm less sure about the tactical options for the DPRG. Running seems to be the optimum strategy, or maybe forming the wagons into a circle in the woods and letting the US come to them. Winning reaction tests that allow you to move out of sight is obviously a good strategy too. Basically, the US forces control the action for the first two turns unless you are Steve and draw the wrong fog of war card. In those two turns, I think the US should be able to cripple or destroy most of the DPRG force, if they are canny and have a bit of luck. Hmm ...

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Moping Family Pleads For Return Of Missing Moping


The Bwendi Bugle

06 April 2313 Standard Reckoning

Moping Family Pleads For Return Of Missing Moping

A publicity still from 'Moping Goes Over The Top'
The family of Bernard Moping, renowned General Sir Laurence Llewellyn-Boleyn impersonator, has issued an appeal for information regarding his whereabouts. Moping, 48, is best known for his series of comedy sketches that satirised General Sir Laurence Llewellyn-Boleyn, the best known of which was 'Moping in the Trenches'. This bittersweet comedy followed the misadventures of General Larry Currant-Bun in the last great war between Albion and Bwendi and was watched by millions.

It was rumoured that Moping had also undertaken secret impersonations on behalf of General Boleyn, such as attending his children's school plays, and other similarly hazardous endeavours. Nothing was ever proven.

Mr Moping's family is distraught at his disappearance. They say that he has never done anything like this before, and that he would never miss pork chop night voluntarily.

If you have seen Mr Moping, please report all sightings to your nearest police station. His family has offered a reward of £50 6s 10d for information leading to his return.

You can watch a Moping marathon on Buglevision Channel 43 from Mondaeg starting at 8am.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Dalliance Boleyn Returns From Antarctic!

The Bwendi Bugle

05 April 2313 Standard Reckoning

Dalliance Boleyn Returns From Antarctic!

General Sir Dalliance Llewellyn-Boleyn has returned from an expedition to the Antarctic Reaches of Beltene. Sir Dalliance was thought lost ten years ago when the remains of his survey vehicle were identified by satellite. His entire survey team was lost with him. Late last night Sir Dalliance was brought to shore by a fishing vessel that had happened upon him. He was floating on the sea in a Threnody-hide coracle fifty miles from the coast of Birmingusalem.

The tale of Sir Dalliance's survival is a truly remarkable one. As the survey team travelled southwards, they encountered an injured Threnody. Sir Dalliance insisted that the team stop and tend to its wounds before continuing onwards. Only a few days later the survey vehicle plunged into an unseen crevasse. The radio equipment was damaged and the GPS systems were destroyed by the crash. The team were able to haul the vehicle out of the crevasse and turn around for home, but the damage was too severe. It broke down two days later and they could not restart it. Sir Dalliance set out on his own to try to get help, while the team stayed with the vehicle and its supplies. Two days after setting out Sir Dalliance collapsed. When he became conscious again, he was surrounded by Threnodies. Their warmth had saved his life. The Threnody he had saved was part of the herd that saved him. They nursed him back to health on a diet of Threnody milk and he remained with them until tragedy struck six months ago.

The herd was suddenly annihilated by a rabid Campanicule, which killed every animal in the herd. Sir Dalliance had answered the call of nature and was hidden when the Campanicule, a creature that sports iron-hard, 30cm long claws and razor-sharp teeth, slaughtered the Threnodies before charging off into the sea to die. The Campanicule was apparently suffering from a degenerative disease that caused it to become even more erratic and vicious than normal.

Making a coracle from the hides of the Threnody that saved him, Sir Dalliance prepared a boatload of smoked Threnody and set sail northwards. By sheerest luck he survived and was picked up by the fishing vessel.

Sir Dalliance has announced his regret at his twin brother's unfortunate actions and subsequent demise, but has declared his intent to continue where his brother left off in the Albion military.

Buglevision Channel 2 will broadcast a documentary about this amazing tale of survival on Satordaeg evening at 8pm.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

General Sir Laurence Llewellyn-Boleyn Escapes

The Bwendi Bugle

04 April 2313 Standard Reckoning

Imprisoned Boleyn Escapes

General Sir Laurence Llewellyn-Boleyn returned to the Albion capital, Avalondon, yesterday following a fraught high tea with our glorious leader Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus. The General's role in the recent atrocity at Cumknocking-on-the-Piddle remains unclear but prisoners taken during the battle have indicated that the General may have instigated it.

Upon his return to Albion the General was immediately imprisoned in the Tower as reparation by the Albion government for the atrocity. The King of Albion declared that he was particularly concerned about the actions of rogue elements in his nation creating friction between the two nations and swore eternal friendship with the Colonel.

Yesterday evening, General Boleyn escaped from the Tower by diving into the waters of the River Thyme, which pass beneath its walls. He appears to have perished in the water, mauled by a Beltene Hyperkarp. The remains of his body washed up downstream and were only identified by a distinctive tattoo of a yellow thistle on his right thigh. Police are treating his death as natural causes.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Albion sends PIMMS to Pyntagahl - Tomorrow's War AAR

The Bwendi Bugle

03 April 2313 Standard Reckoning

Albion PIMMS in Pyntagahl Atrocity

Yesterday the survey station at Cumknocking-on-the-Piddle was destroyed by the Pyntagahl Irregular Mobile Militia Service. PIMMS is an Albion-sponsored terrorist organisation, whose goal is to force the Bwendi nation to kowtow to Albion imperialist ambitions. The PIMMS insurgents attacked the town and then waited to ambush the elements of the 23rd Fast Reaction Team that were sent to deal with the problem.
Cumknocking-on-the-Piddle yesterday. PIMMS militia lurk behind the buildings on the left while elements of 23rd FaRT perform a pincer movement to turn the tables on the PIMMS.
A reduced platoon from 23rd FaRT advanced on the village, performing a pincer movement that left the PIMMS nowhere to run. Taking them under fire, they killed some and wounded many more in a fierce firefight that fortunately resulted in only a small number of Bwendi wounded and no dead.
PIMMS reinforcements
As the battle progressed more PIMMS militia joined the fight, but the combination of poor visibility due to a freak dust storm and the better training of the 23rd FaRT soldiers soon cut them down to size. Once the initial attack had been blunted, the Bwendi force was able to advance through the village, securing many prisoners and draining PIMMS of the will to fight. By the end of the engagement, the PIMMS were routed and the village was secure once more. Twenty prisoners were taken. See them interviewed tonight on Tonight with Trebor McDonut, only on Buglevision Channel 3 along with a dynamic computer-generated re-creation of the battle.
How our heroes defeated the PIMMS
It comes as no surprise to learn that General Sir Laurence-Llewellyn Boleyn, noted Albion hunter and warmonger, has been in the same area for the past week apparently hunting Spine Mountain Frecklepusses. Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus has asked General Boleyn to high tea this afternoon to discuss the diplomatic ramifications of this latest attack. We cannot but hope that the General will lose his head when he returns to Albion following this military failure.

Commentary

This was our first try with irregular troops. Steve wanted to use his Rebel Minis Sahadeen, so we set to with little knowledge of the rules but a will to muddle through. I think we mostly got it right, but there seemed to be holes in the rules that careful re-reading may plug.

We used the campaign rules to set up the scenario. My mission was to hold an objective on the enemy side of the table at game end with no enemy near it. I cleared out one objective by mid-game but forgot my mission and got caught up in capturing Steve's troops, so I did not complete my mission on a technicality. Note to self: remain aware of the mission at all times. I wonder how many times I have said that to myself and still failed to do so?


Steve's goal was to stop me achieving my mission. He succeeded in this because I moved my troops away from the objective marker. Looking at the board at the end of the game, it was clear that his troops had lost the fight and that I controlled the whole of the area around the objective marker, but the rules are clear about how you measure victory. O me miserum!


For once, my casualties were minimal, which was nice. I did kill two of Steve's leaders, which lost him victory points. Again, I did not check what Steve needed to do to gain victory points, else I would have played the game differently. That's another lesson learnt/reinforced. Check what the other side scores points for.


So, as a result of my failure to pay attention, I finished the game on -3 points (3 wounded soldiers) while Steve finished on +13 (my failure to fulfil the victory conditions precisely - 2 dead leaders). A decisive victory to Steve. Hmm ...


Our next step is to play a tank action scenario from the rulebook to learn the vehicle rules fully. After that we shall move through the rest of the scenarios in the book, or we shall start a mini-campaign using the rules that we have been using to set up these scenarios.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Welcome to Beltene - Your Settlement Orientation Guide

The Beltene Union Settlement Trust Incorporated is pleased to welcome you to Beltene. If you check your viewscreens, you will see Beltene shown with a marker to indicate the initial settlement area.
Our surveyors have identified highly valuable resources that will ensure that all settlers will profit from this settlement package. They assure us that Beltene is as close to paradise as it is possible to get. The main chosen settlement locations of Avalondon and Landfall City lie within warm temperate zones for your increased comfort as well as being close to the main resource sites. Gravity is Terra Normal. Better yet, most of the wildlife will not be trying to kill you and there are no known native sentients to concern you. Please consult the maps on your tablet displays for further information about the planet.
The highlighted area on the world map identifies the main settlement area. Touch your screens in that area for a close-up. Avalondon will be the headquarters of the Albion Collective, whose main function will be harvesting the resources of the sea within their area. Landfall City will be the headquarters of the Bwendi Syndicate, whose main function will involve mining the spinal hills on BUST Inc Island, as we have chosen to name the main settlement landmass.
We shall shortly upload more detailed maps for you to peruse as we arrange for all settlers to be transported to their chosen settlement sites. Please be patient and use this time to learn more about this amazing world. We look forward to working with you in these exciting times. We are at the cutting edge of frontier exploration and you, the settlers, are the backbone of this effort. Thank you.

Scouts Out - Tomorrow's War AAR

The Bwendi Bugle

27th March 2313 Standard Reckoning

Scout Camp Terror

A fun week away at Camp Crystal Lake turned to terror for young scouts this week. An Albion Defence Force special forces platoon descended on the camp, where young Bwendi were learning how to tie knots and earning their woodcraft badges. The ADF shot up the camp, killed two of the young scouts and kidnapped 14 others along with 3 the scout leaders. They left the rest of the scout leaders wounded on the ground at the camp together with several of the scouts. In response to this outrage, Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus has ordered the Bwendi Army to block access across the land bridge to Beltene Starport to deny the Albion monsters any external support. The blockade will be removed when the Albion government returns the kidnapped youths and formally makes restitution to the families of the slain.
Camp Crystal Lake
Bwendi scouts may be seen in woods at bottom left and at top centre. A troop is also pinned in the ruined building in the centre of the hill. Bwendi scout leaders are present in the woods at top centre and in the tree at bottom right (sniper team in the tree) Albion terrorists lie wounded in front of the building (circular green bases) as the scouts use every trick they have to defend themselves
Our thoughts are with the families of the slain. The names of Carmen Fandango and Kanye C. Mekebab join others on the Wall of Heroes. Their heroism in the face of this vicious onslaught is an object lesson to us all. Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus announced yesterday, "Their names shall live on in our hearts and their deeds shall stir our souls. As the leaping savannah frog they leapt. They sought the stars and only the acts of vicious Albion curmudgeons prevented them from achieving their dreams. We shall realise their dreams for them. Woe to the nation of Albion if it seeks to stand in our way."

Commentary
So, I decided to field a militia platoon (d6 quality, d10 morale) for a change. They had no armour but I made the fire teams larger (6 figures each) to compensate. This was clearly not enough. Steve fielded Albion regulars (d8/d10) and chose to group them as full squads instead of as fireteams, giving him massively more firepower at the expense of flexibility. We both got 7 points to spend on additional troops. I bought a sniper team and a regular Bwendi section (both d8/d10). Steve bought a special forces section (d10/d12).

We both rolled the same mission: Break Contact. This meant that we both started at the centre line of the table and had to get half of our forces off our own table edge. We both drew Fog of War cards at the start. I got one that affected Steve's off-board artillery (he had none). He got 'This won't play well on the holovids' and lost several victory points at the outset because of some perceived atrocity committed by his troops. That's why I chose to represent my force as peaceful scouts on a camp.

Tactically I made a huge mistake in engaging Steve's force. I won the initiative and my central militia section was able to retreat after shooting at some of Steve's troops but before they could shoot back. This put me in a great position for getting most of my troops off the table very quickly. All my troops that were in buildings or woods started hidden so he had to spot me before shooting at me. I should have taken advantage of that to get out of there and claim a draw. Instead I lost track of my main objective and shot at Steve with other units, thus causing him to shoot back. His dice were smoking hot and I lost two entire fire teams to two rounds of fire. More fool me for starting by shooting at him. My sniper proved his worth though. Using a laser rifle (suppressed weapon) he was able to pick off Steve's medic and a few other troops, which could have given me the win had I been sensible.

So, what have I learnt from this game?

  1. Well, I thought it would be fun to field militia. It was, but in a frustrating way, because they were too easy to take down. For militia to be useful, I really need to focus on the mission and just achieve my objective. I need to avoid contact with regular troops while using militia and accept that a draw is really a victory under those circumstances.
  2. Using the campaign rules, both sides should start from the same baseline quality and morale, unless we use the points system. I shall try costing up both sides to see what the points system suggests as a balanced start.
  3. The 'hidden' rules are not that difficult and added a new edge to the game, which was fun. Likewise, the sniper team was interesting to deploy. It lasted longer than I expected.
  4. I need to throw Steve's dice into the Humber! His dice-rolling was unfeasibly high last night. I mean regularly getting a 90% hit rate with a 50% or 60% chance of success and most of those hits being at the high end of the range too. I lost three fire teams in their entirety to his dice in single rounds of fire. Bah! Those die are going in the river next time Steve leaves them unattended!! ;-)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Perfidious Albion Once More (Tomorrow's War AAR)

The Bwendi Bugle

19th March 2313 Standard Reckoning

Perfidious Albion Attacks Aid Station

Once more Albion has struck at the institutions that are the envy of civilised planets everywhere. This time their assault was on the Rocktoad Aid Station in Pyntagahl province. A company of Albion regulars reinforced by a Special Forces Team attacked the aid station in the early hours of Tiwsdaeg evening. Bwendi Republican Army forces were on manoeuvres in the area but were hampered by their Biochem protection gear. They were training to operate in the event of a probable Albion gas attack. It is known that Albion has large stockpiles of chemical agents ready for deployment against the peaceful Bwendi people.
A Bwendi newscopter supplied this view of the BRA platoon advancing with a Callixus IFV in support
As our heroic soldiers advanced in their bulky biochem gear, they suddenly came face to face with an entire company of Albion soldiers.
Albion soldiers (left) occupy firing positions to ambush the Bwendi (right). In the far distance (centre back), an Albion special forces squad can be seen cowering before the Bwendi might
The firefight was short and desperate. Bwendi fire caused an unknown number of casualties, but the Albion curs left 2 dead and 5 wounded behind to be captured. Two of their special forces soldiers were unwounded but surrendered as fast as they could. Of the 21 Bwendi soldiers involved in this fight, 6 were killed and 6 were wounded. The roll of honour for the dead now adds these brave soldiers to the Wall of Heroes in Landfall City:
  1. Corporal Airport Carruthers-Smythe
  2. Lance Corporal John Jones
  3. Private Riley Carpark
  4. Private Fabienne D'Iscard
  5. Private Seamus Besworth
  6. Private Cedric Carpongo
Their sacrifice was not in vain, for the Albion forces might have escaped with more valuable medical equipment and supplies than they did. As it was, they were able to steal one of the aid station's Machine That Goes Ping Mk.1 before they were driven off at great cost by our heroic Bwendi soldiers.

Commentary
This was another game that we set up using the TW campaign system but on a 2'x3' table this time, because we felt that 4'x3' was too large last time. I chose to try using multi-based figures for this game. It worked very well and meant that I could keep my troops together easily. The large bases also provided a useful platform for wounded markers, making it easier to move my fireteams. I chose not to use individually-based figures to make change in this game, but I might do that in the future.

I rolled high for momentum points and scored 8, which gave me the opportunity to buy an IFV to support my troops and an additional fire team. This is the first time we have used vehicles and it was not problematic at all. Steve's only comment on the vehicle was "Next time I should try attacking it." The IFV actually saved the day for me, because I chose to draw a Fog of War card at the start of the game and got gas. No, not that sort. The card is called 'Gas Gas Gas'. My troops deployed in biochem gear, which reduced their troop quality by 1, from d8 to d6. You should have heard me whinging about this during the game! Rolling d6 versus d8 in TW makes quite a difference. The IFV was unaffected by the gas so it rolled normally, which saved my bacon, because it was able to wipe out two fire teams of Albion troops. Steve really needed to get his RPGs into the game against it, but he chose to withdraw his troops as fast as he could once the special forces got close enough to the objective for him to score the victory points for his mission.

Steve's mission was Snatch and Grab, which involved getting a unit to within 3" of an objective marker on my side of the table and then getting some troops off the table. It does not state that the troops leaving the table have to be the same ones as the troops that get to the objective. Presumably that means that the spotters radio the results to their compatriots. Once he had achieved this objective, Steve skedaddled pretty sharpish. This was in turn 3.

My mission was to occupy an objective on Steve's side of the table and ensure that there were no enemy troops within 5" of it at the end of the game. Steve basically handed success in this mission to me by skedaddling so early on. I had at least 2 turns to complete my objective, so I scored a victory on that account too. Had Steve held his positions to the end of the game, he might have scored a full victory.

When Steve's troops left the table, they also left 9 unchecked casualties on the table, so my lot were able to secure them. I scored 7 prisoners of war and found 2 dead bodies.

My own casualties were all victims of my rubbish dice rolling. I managed to roll 3 ones on one first aid check and wound up with an entire fire team that was dead. This seems to be par for the course for me. Still, my troops held the battlefield and saw off the cowardly Albion curs.

The Final Tally
Me: -3 victory points
Steve: -10 victory points
We both achieved our objectives so we both won, but our casualties ensured that in fact we both lost too. I lost a little bit less than Steve though!

Some additional thoughts and a whinge
Tomorrow's War works for us, despite the fact that we keep getting things wrong with the rules! It works really well for 'realistic' science-fiction warfare. We have enjoyed every game so far and the rules have given me plenty of opportunity to complain about my dice-rolling, which is all to the good. Most of the rules are straight-forward and easily applied when you remember them and the game flows well. The biggest problem is in keeping the reaction rules straight. That section of the rulebook is not well written and I have trawled the forum for answers. I think I have it now but have asked for clarification on the forum. This brings me to my whinge.

We changed the table size for this game because we felt it was too large last time. I did ask on the Ambush Alley forum about table size for the campaign games after the last game but received no response. I have asked other questions on there and have been roundly ignored by the authors. I find this very frustrating, because I want to get to grips with the rules properly and I see that some people get their questions answered while others do not. Perhaps my questions are stupid or obvious. If so, a simple page reference would suffice as answer. Either way, I hold out little hope of an answer to my latest questions.

EDIT: My latest questions have just had an answer, so that is positive and better than my previous attempts did. Perhaps they were just having an off day before?

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Bwendi Republican Army in the 24th Century

We've been playing Tomorrow's War lately. We have decided to spend some time playing these rules and learning them properly. As I wrote in the last post, TW is not the easiest rules set for me to read. However, the last game went very smoothly indeed, so clearly they are easier to play once the rules have been read once. Perhaps the difficult reading forces them to be mentally ingested and digested properly. Who knows? Anyway, the battle report for this game (with comments on the campaign rules included with TW) has been posted, but today's post is about the background and organisation of my troops, the Bwendi Republican Army. I plan to add the local militias, the Bwendi Uniform Militia Companies, when I have worked out what they have and how they should be organised. I have figures painted for them, but probably not a full platoon yet. I really should check. So, back on topic ...

Background to our games
For our sci-fi games we are planning on playing both platoon level and company level military actions, as well as some character-driven skirmishes. These will all be set in the Traveller universe but starting in the 24th century with lower tech level troops (about TL8 or 9 for the Traveller buffs). Our nations occupy the planet of Beltene in the Reaver's Deep sector, which is technically the back end of nowhere at this time. Supplies come in from outside, but it is not worth the cost to merchant shipping concerns to send the latest technology out that way. The goal is to run our nations using one of the Traveller supplements that allows you to do this (possibly Pocket Empires, but The World Tamer's Handbook has some useful ideas in it too, as does Dynasty from Mongoose). We can then develop our nations in whichever way we think best. Populations will rise, research will be undertaken and developments made that should see us moving from ground vehicles to grav vehicles over time and then on to a mass migration to spinward of the Spinward Marches in time for the Traveller Milieu 0 setting or thereabouts. I just want to place our pocket empires in the position to fight Zhodani and Sword Worlders, as well as making characters from our nations able to take part in the Classic Traveller adventures.

History of Bwendi and the Bwendi Republican Army
The BRA is a force of regular troops. The Bwendi do not practise conscription, so all troops are volunteers. It has existed in one form or another since the unification of Ztumsia on Terra in the mid-1980s under the command of Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus XXIII. Ztumsia was a war-torn central African republic/dictatorship until it was unified by the Bwendi tribe under the Colonel. After that it adopted a British-style democracy ruled by an elected prime minister and his government. Such was the love of the people for the first Colonel, though, that they have always re-elected one of the Colonel's children to this post when the old Colonel is too old to carry on in the role of prime minister. There is also a tradition that each sibling adopts the name Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus upon taking up the reins of power for the first time.

The core of the BRA is the armoured infantry. In the 24th century they wear full ballistic cloth suits with communications arrays in the helmets. Riflemen carry the Gladcorp M23 Assault Rifle and fireteams have either a Gladcorp Model 33A Team Support Weapon or a Gladcorp TAC19 RPG as support weapons. See the TOE page for a full breakdown of the standard Bwendi infantry company.

Armoured support is supplied by the Bwendi Republican Armoured Troops. The standard BRAT platoon of eight tanks divided into a command section and two tank sections is usually subordinated to an infantry battalion or company commander as a support element, although it happens that the tank regiments sometimes operate en masse, especially when pursuing a breakthrough in enemy lines.

Scout teams are a battalion-level asset, although they are often parcelled out as need to the lead companies of the battalion when advancing. Each scout team comprises six men in three Mebebque-class light transports. Scout teams are heavily armed with Gladcorp SN5h Heavy Sniper Rifles and Gladcorp Flash12 Laser Rifles. They function both as snipers and as scouts, using the laser rifles to paint targets for the battalion's heavy assets.

To supplement the BRA, BUM companies were formed in each town. These local militia units train at weekends and also go on a camp once a year for two weeks. They are generally poorly trained overall but morale can be quite high. Numbers in the BUMs can be variable and many are not at full strength. A full-strength company would have 1 officer, 5 NCOs and 24 Troopers organised into three sections, each of 10 men. The officer is attached to one of the sections for combat operations. Armament is Gladcorp M20 Assault Rifles, Gladcorp SM13 SMGs, Gladcorp TAC11 RPGs and Gladcorp FN80 GPMGs. Each section usually has an RPG and a GPMG. Some BUMs are designated Close Assault Companies. BUM CACs are universally armed with SMGs and GPMGs. They also have a higher than usual allocation of grenades. BUMS will usually wear flak vests although not all of them can afford the armour.