Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Captain's Retreat - A Gentleman's War

Once again I benefit from having access to the ocean side cottage courtesy of a generous friend, and was in position to host some long time gaming buddies to a two day "retreat". As usual Ross Mac (Battle Game of the Month) stepped up to the plate and offered to run a game. He decided to introduce us to Howard Whitehouse's ruleset, "A Gentleman's War".

Ross Mac and Les Howie
The scenario that Ross had in mind, was based upon the Battle of Ridgeway, June 1866. Troops were all 54mm figures from his collection.

The Canadians

The Fenian Brotherhood
Les and I represented the Fenian Brotherhood. Our force consisted of a unit of French-Irish Canadians, some recent Irish immigrates to the United States, but the majority of our troops were Irish veterans of the US Civil War.  Between us we had 6 units of Infantry (8 figures each) and one unit of Cavalry (4 figures) and one Artillery piece with crew. Our plan was to deny the right flank. Les would anchor our defenses upon a hill with our artillery and a unit of infantry on either flank.


I would assault the village on the left with the remaining infantry units. I also took the cavalry in order to flank the town. I choose to keep one Infantry unit off board as a reserve. We had to inform the ref where it would enter, and to our surprise it kept the Canadian Militia units troops on our right flank holding their position in case it came storming out of the woods on the right edge of the table.

The Canadian militia commanded by Paul Smith and Stephen St-John  were two near equal forces from the colonies, formerly known as Upper and Lower Canada. Since Confederation these are now the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Both of the Canadian commanders had 3 companies of Infantry (8 figures each). The Lower Canada units were all from Montreal and included a unit of artillery and deployed on our right. The Upper Canadians provided the Cavalry (4 figures) and faced me. The Canadians deployed on their entire length of the table.

Clash of Cavalry
The cavalry of both sides quickly closed. There was an option to dismount, but neither Stephen nor I choose it. In our 2nd clash I came out the worst and had to flee my movement distance (5D6, my roll was 29 or 29 inches). I was off the table and out of the fight. Other than that misadventure my battle plan developed as I had hoped.

Sound the Advance
I advanced my infantry in line, three units abreast towards the town. Stephen rushed forward two units in column in order to seize the structures. I felt I would lose a race for the town, as it was closer to the Canadian side of the table. Thus I advanced in battle formation. I held the 4th infantry off board until needed. When it was, I rolled 3 ones, and it entered in column onto the table 3 inches

My Cavalry Prepare to Flee - But I am ready to contest the town
It was my first time playing this game and decided I would close assault the structure on the left, and engage the other with two of my infantry units. I lost the close assault and had to retreat 2D6 (7 inches) just outside close range. Here I stood and repulsed the follow-up moves by the enemy cavalry. 


The Battle develops and the fighting becomes hot and heavy. The camera is put aside.  The Lower Canadians hold onto their hilltop, waiting to engage any Fenians who force march out of the woods. They have been kept out of the battle and when they begin to advance. It has come too late.

Montreal Militia on the Advance - Too Late
The struggle for the town has been decided. The  Upper Canadians try to help their besieged brethren, but to no avail. The three Upper Canadian units of foot have ceased to be effective.

Fix Bayonets - The Final Assault is Going to Go In

Our Flank is Secure - The Town has Fallen
The game ends. Paul has left in order to prepare his fabulous ribs. We had a late start due to the replacement of a fireplace stove, and after dinner the evening drifted into conversation and drinks. We would have to wait until tomorrow for another clash of figures.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Cangames 2019 Sunday May 19th - Western Up Front

This is the 2nd game run by David Redpath during the Cangames weekend. The 2nd Battalion of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade attack the outskirts of Fresnoy En Gohelle on the 3rd of May 1917.

Mike Haynes passing by and taking a look at the table.
The rules are based upon the classic Up-Front Game by Avalon Hill. It is my final action of the weekend. The Canadians are played by 4 players each with 5 cards in their hand. Cards allow movement, fire, rally etc. The Germans are played by Stephen St-John and myself. We each have a hand of 4 cards.  The hand size is reduced by one with every unit lost. The odds at the start are 20 cards to eight. Going to be an interesting day.

Canadian Troops Going Over The Top.  Programmed Fire shown on the Wire to cut it.
Canadians will not know how effective it is until the wire is reached.
Photo by David Redpath

Three of the Canadian Commanders.
Programmed fire on the wire with Canadians in forward positions.
Photo from David Redpath

The 4th Canadian Commander. First German
line taking fire on a discovered dug-out and
revealed LMG group

Canadian pre-programmed fire landing on the 3rd line of defense.




Canadian Troops reaching the wire but taking fire from medium mortars.


Canadian troops breaking through the wire on the right flank.

Left flank of the Canadians taking casualties. Right Flank advancing.
Revealed German troops shown in trenches.
Programmed allied fire on 2nd line of defense. German pillbox receiving special treatment.

 As the Germans we rolled and received 4 dugouts. All our troop locations were plotted on a map. As the programmed heavy fire rolled over us we rolled for damage. On the whole we were quite lucky with our rolls. Two of our dugouts were located by the Canadians at the start of the battle. One located in the middle of the front line, the 2nd near the middle of the third. Locations marked by green wooden blocks.

The Canadians pre-plotted their heavy barrage and their orders at the start of the game. Both sides had 20 mins to come up with their battle plans. The game flowed very quickly. Units are pinned if hit and cannot do anything unless they are rallied. Two pins and a unit is removed.

Terrain was made from camping/mattress foam. Trenches are cut in and shell holes created. Spray paints used to colour the terrain. An extremely effective method of creating the battlefield that is easily rolled up.

The Canadians end the game in the German forward trenches. Both Stephen and I are deduced to one card each. I was responsible for our right flank and had reduced one Canadian player (sorry Stan) to zero cards and the 2nd facing me had two cards remaining.   Things were not going as well on the left flank. These results somewhat mimic the historical results. One of the Canadian flanks became bogged down, while the other went on to reach their objectives.

The German Command. Photo by Doug Blair
The Germans were declared winners, based upon casualties inflected and objectives denied the Canadians. I had a good time this year in Ottawa, having been on the winning team in each game I played. The dice were good to me. It was a far cry from last year.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Cangames Sunday May 19th - Achtung Hurricane - Tobruk 1941

Sunday arrives far too early for my liking. My body ached all over. One more night until I get home to my own bed. I have signed up for a 9:00 AM game being run by David Redpath.

 Achtung Hurricane - Tobruk 1941. 

The Players Receive an Early Morning Briefing

The Bandits arrive coming in from the sea at dawn.
Two groups of fighters (Me-109s) and five groups of Stukas.
One flight of the RAF is on patrol. 

Smoke from a previous strike on Tobruk guides the enemy.
The RAF fling themselves into the fray.


Carnage everywhere. The Luftwaffe pass on a high bomb run.
They take hits from the AA while lingering over the site.
A 2nd RAF flight on its way home has been vectored in.

Red Flight is out of the battle and Yellow Flight is in the middle
of things, Yellow blows away two German units but falls to
superior numbers.

There was a third RAF unit but it didn't last long enough for
me to take a picture.
I was given the mobile ground radar set to run. The rule set was a WW2 variant of Dave's Bandit Rules. Combat is initiated when two opposing units (circles with planes) touch each other. Visibility is limited, so units must follow a pre-plotted course until they have spotted something or they receive a message.

Units must move toward a way point (wooded blocks). As radar I could adjust the location of one RAF any turn the radar worked and was successful at picking up a target. Units had two blocks but had to reach one location before going to the second.

Fighters may place a block on an enemy unit once they sighted it, thus allowing them to pursue it. Radar wasn't that finely developed so I couldn't tag an enemy unit. The allies won the battle due to the large number of German bombers shot down.

Cangames Saturday May 18th - Frostgrave

I'm getting too old to spend 12 hours plus standing around tables on the concrete floor of a curling rink. My knees can't take the strain.  The last couple of years at Cangames I've only been getting two games in a day. The third session is usually taken by a much needed break for a meal with friends, some possible shopping or sightseeing or god forbid, an afternoon nap.

Sunday Evening supper at a Korean BBQ
Saturday I skipped the 2:00 to 6:00 PM gaming session and returned for an introduction (for me) game of Frostgrave. I noticed that it seems to have a popular following and I did not partake last year. It was chance to get my feet wet. The game was run by Tod Creasey of the Ottawa Miniature Group (OMG).

The two distant figures sheltering behind
the water trough are my minions.
In Ironboots and the Shieldmaiden's Secret, we were divided into two teams. I was assigned to the pit of hell, I mean the evil side, and as I was last on the sign up sheet I received the final available character on our side.

A third level illusionist with four spells. None of a direct combat nature. I was also assigned 3 minions, a thief, a treasure hunter and a marksman to do my nefarious deeds. Due to the large number of players we were not able to delve into their particular skills, other than my markman had a bonus in archery combat, and my treasure hunter had a plus in hand to hand melee.

Frostgrave Crew. My bald spot at the lower left corner of the table.
Photo by Tod Creasey
The game was get in, loot the place, kill the enemy and get off the board. Three turns in a roll  I tried to use my teleport spell, only to roll a one on each try, taking damage in the process. When the game ended I was on the side which won, was one of two MUs still alive on the board, but I scored a mere 10 points. The lowest in the game. One of my minions killed an enemy minion. Back to the apartment for a late night drink.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

CanGames 2019 Saturday May 18th Time Tripper

9:00 AM - Main Floor. It's show time and Time Tripper makes its debut. In July 2006 while on operations in Kandahar province a fire team of 1 PPCLI became separated from the main group. In an intense firefight their radio was damaged. The Canadians were able to take cover in a small walled  enclosure and began to weigh their options.

Example of the shelter available to the fire team.
A search of partially collapsed buildings revealed a collection of old Soviet equipment dating from their doomed occupation of the land. The local villagers threw nothing away. Zapper Smith, the intrepid radio tech thought he might be able to pull something together.  As the Taliban initiated their next assault, the radio commence to sound static and their was a sudden blue flash. After the flash dissipated, it was clear, as it was with Dorothy when she said, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Battle of Zama - 202 BC Set-up
I ran one table, with the able assistance of Mike  and Les the other, with Paul as his assistant. The important thing was not allow the game to bog down. Each table had 4 Trippers and we were equipped to handle a total of 11 players if need be. I only had time to photograph what was happening at my table.

Mike animating the dead. No elephants were harmed in this game.
The first scenario ran over an hour as we introduced the players to the concepts of the game. By the fifth round we were completing a scenario in just 20 minutes. The 2nd round I have no photos. The third game our players found most enjoyable. It was listed in the original Time Tripper game as a Dragon Lord, but I used a large dragon. Mike by now was starting to issue nicknames to the players. After this round, one was called Crispy and another simply, Dragon-Slayer. A third was known as "Loot not Shoot".


The fourth game was the hardest on my set of Trippers. The Trippers were up against a dozen German soldiers in the Battle of Falaise Gap. A sniper was particularly effective. All four Trippers died.

The 5th and final round of the game was set outside a Japanese tea house as 8 or 10 drunken samurai and ronin stumbled about in the dark. Easy pickings for the Trippers. Points were awarded for treasure (artifacts, ancient weapons, ancient coins, katanas or even a dragon scale or tooth, etc)  collected minus number of deaths. Due to the nature of time you really didn't die. You just waited to join your comrades in the time stream on your collective journey.

Dragon-Slayer. Winner of the Time Tripper Game
A trophy was awarded to the player with the most points. Dragon-Slayer won with a total of 14 points. The 2nd place was awarded to Terry Silverthorn, a player at the other table and third place was shared by three players. Two playing at my table and one at the other.

On a side note the award for Outstanding Improvement to a Boardgame went to the team.

The main actors in getting the game to the table.

Some possible Time Tripper encounters on Paul's work-table.

Canadian Forces prepared by Les

Tripping at the 2nd Table. A few photos of action at table two.

An ancients encounter of some sort.

Time Trippers vs the Dinosaurs. Les at the end of
the table running the game

Time Tripper vs The Red Army WW2