Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Jutland 100 Years and 100 Ships Later

A battle so big, it needs more than one sea cloth.

Jutland 100 years later, 100 ships later. This past Saturday The gang gathered to re-fight the Battle of Jutland in time for the centenary. After some extended set up time we managed to have over a hundred ships on the table. The rules were simple enough that we figured a 1:1 staging of the battle was possible. At the last minute we excluded some minor ships. Grand Admiral by Majestic 12 games is a bare bones hex based rules set. There were some minor hitches with the rules but with some tweaking they are usable for big battles. The British fleet got lucky on the draw sinking some of the German BBs for an exchange of some lighter ships. We called it at that point as time was running out.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

In Praise of Simplicity

 About a month ago down at the library Martin and I play tested a set of rules that I downloaded and printed out recently. Called Panzer War, they are a free set of quite detailed but still I think playable skirmish rules. How we ended up play testing this set of rules is a bit of a funny story. Originally it started out as a quest to find a decent set of modern period micro armour rules, as I'm dissatisfied with the ones I have so far. I downloaded and read a few sets of rules but could never find anything that really clicked with me. So I went back through my list of files and some of the older games that I have downloaded a while ago and took another look. Remembering that I had a set of rules called AirLand War I took a look at them again. AirLand War is actually an expansion to Panzer War. So with the rationale that I should try the basic game first before the expansion set I suggested we try Panzer war to Martin. But owing to the complexity of the rules, with such factors as vehicle angle and turned rotation speed we decided that it would be best to try it out in 15 mm first. So there you have it they went from modern micro armor to 15 mm, so does that make sense?

The result? Well let's just say things didn't work out exactly as we planned. For a more detailed after action report I direct you to another club member my friend John and his blog The Minstrel Boy. But I can summarize here, the game went very slow and owing to the long range of weapons (we were not using the recommended ranges for that scale) it ended rather quick. I think perhaps there was too much on the table and perhaps not enough scenery. Although the tank combat results where more "realistic" I don't think the extra detail really added much to the game. And so it occurred to me that if the extra detail didn't add to the enjoyment of the game why bother with it? Martin imparted a wonderful piece of wisdom to me recently about gaming whereby he explained to me the difference between modeling the process and modeling the results. Or to put it quite simply how it happens versus what happens. I realized there was more interested in what happened then exactly how it happened. The house were still somewhat important and should be modeled realistically towards expectations but the process should not bogged down the flow of the game. The Panzer War experiment certainly ran counter to my personal trend of moving toward simpler systems. I have already switched to far simpler games in other genres. For instance instead of Full Thrust, which is a terrific system don't get me wrong, I now play Sunder The Stars. And instead of Dirtside I will try Laserstorm, by Nordic Weasel Games. In these two examples it's mainly because I want to spend more time playing a battle then designing units for it. Specifically in the case of Full Thrust I've seen battles lost or one in the design phase rather than on the table, and that was before the plethora of options opened up in the newer unofficial supplement Project Continuum which is over 150 pages long. My main goal with gaming is to get figs on the table, push them around and roll dice. And simpler games serve this purpose well. It will only be a balance between simplicity and detail. As too much of one and not enough the other can spoil your enjoyment of a game.

After purchasing the PDF of Laserstorm I splurged and bought PDFs of FiveCore the generic skirmish game and Five Men at Kursk their more detailed will work to skirmish rules. As well as some expansions and add on modules. So I'll be giving the FiveCore System some testing in the future. How it goes, I will keep you posted.

So yeah, a longer post and it's about gaming, yeah me.

Keep Smiling

Entry #54 May 11th 1916

Sir Douglas Haig inspected the battalion at work, and told our Commanding Officer Major Bowen- that he had "a devilish fine fine battalion". At night "The Merry Mauves", our divisional troupe, give a fine concert in the open air, which we all enjoyed immensely. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Keep Smiling

Entry #53 May 10th 1916

Laid out the line to the different companies and Orderly room. The weather improves and "The Caravan" looks finer than ever.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Keep Smiling

Entry #52 May 9th 1916

Out on our ordinary parades, visual, etc. the scenery around her bivouac was fine. We were on top of the hill, and had a fine view of the surrounding country, which would be hard to beat. Nature was in all its glory, and the birds served as an ideal alarm clock, as they had us weakened every morning at 5 AM. The rustling of the trees in the fresh country smile was like medicine to us after the sickening roar of the guns. We have improved our bivouac by making steps up to it, and laying in some foodstuffs. The weather still continues drizzly.

Just received news that the Battalion that relieved us got a desperate cutting up, having over 200 casualties. Truly Gordon Castle is a hotshot, and still one sees in the press "all calm on the Western front". Yes all calm to the general public, but to those behind-the-scenes, how calm? But `twas ever so, and this is why Tommy is such a happy-go-lucky character. Taking things as he finds them, and making the best of them. The sarcasm of the average British Tommy is amusing, and it is a mistake to ask them any questions. At least that's my idea, as I was "had" to often. On one occasion I saw two chaps carrying a Dixie, the soldiers kettle. Of course I asked them "was that the tea up?" One of them replied "no it's a new latrine bucket". On another occasion, during short rations, I saw chap with a very small piece of bacon. I asked him "was that for his breakfast?" And he replied "not at all it's to clean my boots with". Such is the spirit of the British Army.

In the afternoon we paraded to Acheux, a fairly decent sized town, for our usual lightning bath on coming out of the trenches still raining very hard, but "The Caravan" is still sticking it A1.

Keep Smiling

Entry #51 May 8th 1916

Left Martinsart, as our three months for holding the line was up, for Lealvillers. Passing through Headauville and Varennes. It was our first March for over three months, however we enjoyed it A1, especially when passing one of our old billets- Varennes. Finally arriving in Lealvillers, as are billets were not too good for four of us hunted around and finally found an old French wagon, about 30 feet long, 6 foot broad and and sides 2 foot high. This we covered at both ends with waterproof sheets and our capes, to sleeping at each end. We had then a "bonne" bivouac, and our only hope was that we wouldn't hear another gun fired for at least a month, as we have had enough. Our bivouac proved a huge success as it rained all night, we never got a drop. In fact we rather enjoyed the novelty of caravan life, and for a few more days I address is "The Caravan", Lealvillers.

Keep Smiling

Entry #50 May 7th 1916

(Sunday) Devoted to cleaning rifle, equipment and clothing