“Dogs of War” battle reports coming

Chris A (left) and Chris S (right) running one of the “Dog’s” mega convention games “SHANGHAI”

My “Primary” gaming group the “Dogs of War” will soon be posting their Battle Reports here on my site. Chris Snell the great patron of “The Dogs” (he devotes part of his house to us) has for many years sent out weekly emails covering what has gone on and what is coming up at the club. Over the last year we have been refurbishing the club and I thought it might nice to also have the weekly battle reports Chris does get a facelift as well and giving Chris the ability to post them here with pictures would be a great way to do this.

Chris Snell (standing right) helps run the SAGA event at Games Empire. Seated is another Dog, Frank V.

A little bit about Chris…. Well Chris has been one of the original “Dogs of War” since the beginning and also probably the most active. In fact I can’t remember any “Dogs” game or activity that he has not been at!!! Chris has put himself in the forefront of all the projects and his efforts contribute mightily to everything the Dogs have ever been, done, or hope to do. Without Chris’s patronage the “Dog’s” may well have dissolved long ago. The “Dogs” are a great bunch and they all contribute much to the whole, but in any group there are always a few who provide the backbone that others build on, thanks Chris.

Side trip to Aberdeen Proving grounds, Historicon 1999? Joe, Dave L, Joe’s nephew, Tim D, Chris A,Chris Snell, Bill W (me) and sitting on fender of German Jagd Tiger is Ron Green.

So you will soon see Chris’s weekly reports appearing here! Yea Chris! I encourage all the “Dogs” to subscribe to this site and receive notifications when these reports go up. You can simply scroll down the main page and towards the bottom of the right side column you will see an option to enter your email and receive notification of new articles and updates on the site.

So welcome Chris and “Reports from the Pound”

Chris S (in tri-corner hat and long coat) helps run the Dogs pirate game “Maracaibo Mambo” at a past HMGS/PSW convention.

Visiting Old Friends for the Holidays, Crossfire WWII!

There’s a lot to be thankful for and blessings to be counted over the Christmas Holidays but one of my favorite parts of Christmas is the extra time off that I can sometimes devote to my hobby of Wargaming with Miniatures! This year is no exception, in fact I took a few extra pains over the previous few months getting other projects finished up so to have no interruptions during the Holiday Wargaming season (ok, who knew the shop / den sink would overflow!)

The “Machine shop” a central point of the evenings battle.

The first game I’ve managed to play over the holidays was a “Crossfire” WWII game in 20mm played with my longtime wargaming buddy Steve Gausche at my place. I have been doing WWII for near 30 years in some form or another, Micro Armor with Brian Stokes original Tank Charts rules then Steve Lorenz’s Panzer War. We then moved on to 20mm WWII trying several rule sets, Combined Arms, Battle Front, Overlord, Soldat and several others without really settling on one we liked. I and a few friends even developed our own set, “Frontline”. Now when I say developed our own set I mean we took as all rules writers do our experiences with other rules, things we liked, things we hated, and produced our version. Some mechanics had been done before, some were new. They played exceptionaly well with many players asking for me to publish them but I never did and after awhile we moved into other games and periods leaving WWII behind. Years later the WWII bug began to infect me again and I thought I’m either going to play or sell my stuff! I found however, as many of us have, that I had less time, and patience for rules heavy, slow games. I also was never one to buy into the “newer” rules types that are based on wargamers basically subscribing to a rule set full of ad on’s, updates, modules, and an official line of mini’s ala Flames of War or Bolt Action.

Wargaming Central at my place. Oberst vonGausche readys his men

I had played and purchased Crossfire years before but never given it a fair chance, I decided to try it again, the rest is history! Hands down in my opinion the best representation of the ebb and flow of WWII mid level combat period! (read my first CrossFire article)

As with most of our games when we don’t play a period for awhile there is that part about remembering how the dam game plays, rule sets typically have some overlap in rules and remembering rules for the game your playing verses a rule from another game can get confusing. We like to always do a “small game” first to help remember and sort things out….do we? Hell No! Get it all out! LOL!!! Yep instead of just remembering the basics we had to look up lots of other smaller less used rules as well. Crossfire is great because it has very basic, simple rules that apply overall to every army so picking the game up mechanics wise is easy; the strategy of using these rules to achieve victory is not!

If you talk to Miniature Wargaming folks many will say that miniature wargaming has been hurt by the advent of computers and PC gaming, I find that to not be the case at all. In fact I find that computers have increased the gaming community by allowing us to put our passion out there for all to see, certainly the computer has allowed us to do things to make our hobby much cooler and taken a bit of the drudgery out of it. One of the things I do for Crossfire is take an overhead picture of the battlefield (our playing table) on then print it out as a monotone map for players to use to record hidden deployment and battle plans. The map is placed in a plastic sleeve that can be drawn on with china makers, or better yet colored “overhead transparency pens” This ads a great deal to games and certainly removes the having to do the map making by hand! I keep the maps to use again and again.

Taking and printing a map for players is a great game aid allowing hidden movement and speeds game play.

I set up the battlefield to represent Russia during the 1943 summer offensive and a German push to secure a small urban area somewhere in Russia.

The forces would be fairly balanced numerically,German force, Panzer Grenadier company, 1 x Company commander, 3 platoons, each with 3 squads, 3 platoon commanders, 2 Heavy Machine gun sections (MG 42’s), 2 x 81mm mortars, 2 forward observers, reinforced by 2 Stug III’s, 2 PanzerKampfwagen IV’s, and 1 PanzerKamphwagen V “Panther A” and a fourth infantry platoon.

The Russians had a similar force, Russian “leg” infantry company, 1x Company commander, 4 platoons of 4 squads each, 4 Platoon commanders, 2 Heavy Machine guns (maxims), 2 x 85mm Mortars, 1x forward observer, additional resources included 2 x 76mm Anti Tank guns, and two M43 T34 with 76mm guns.The Russians might seem at first to be weak but they have the advantage of setting up and playing defensively as well as being “hidden” at the beginning of the game, very powerful factors in Crossfire! They were led by me…I’m a good player…but “they” have poor leadership in their on the table commanders as well as a troop quality of “regular’s” on the field. They also have limited counters to German Armor.

The Germans have what seems to be a powerful force but being on the attack they will need it since plans in Crossfire can go south very quickly, mistakes can be punished hard by your opponent! The Germans while not hidden have the advantage of being able to move and concentrate their forces, probing to find weak spots and exploit them; this is where Crossfire excels at duplicating the nature of WWII land combat. They also have excellent leaders at both Company and platoon level. The German troops are also “Veterans” giving a significant edge in morale and recovering from “pin” and “suppression” effects.

First moves and combat!

I played the Russians and laid out my “hidden” deployment on the map, situating the two Anti Tank guns to cover the most open of the approaches. My 4 platoons held a diagonal line running across the battlefield occupying to main buildings and then trench works on either end. The Mortars were at the rear of the headquarters building, this building also held one of the anti tank guns. The two T34s were hidden in town center as a mobile reserve to provide support in case of a breakthrough with the last anti tank gun dug in south west of town.

The German player deployed in the open with a 2 foot x 2 foot table corner as his entry point. Steve edged his two squads up onto two wooded hills where one immediately came under heavy fire from a Russian platoon holding the train station. His second squad held on the hill to the south.

Crossfire plays very differently than your typical “I go, you go game” with the action tending to localize in different areas of the battlefield, getting white hot while other areas do little. To me this is very realistic although it might take some time for players of traditional wargames to adjust to. Russian fire from the train station was getting the best of the Germans in the woods so the German commander brought up some armor in the form of two Stug III assault guns and prepared to ad their fire power to the fight. As soon as the Sturmgershutz III’s lumbered into position they came under fire from a hidden Russian 76mm anti tank gun that along with a platoon of Soviet infantry held that flank of the Russian defenses. The Russian gunners were in top form and after a brief exchange both German assault guns became burning hulks. This kind of ambush is the kind of action possible through use of Crossfire rules and hidden deployment rules and for me is the crux of WWII platoon/company combat in WWII.

Russian gunners take careful aim!

German support armor gets stopped dead in it’s tracks! Red Russian mud clings to the vehicles entire bottom half!

The Germans were becoming frustrated at this point as their frontal push and relying on force of arms was not working against the well laid out Russian defense. Clearly the Russians were well led and in greater strength than German intelligence had reported. Oberst vonGausche arriving on the scene held a conference with his platoon leaders and discussed a new plan of action, with the casualties already sustained and the loss of the two Stug’s the attack must well executed with minimum losses.

Mid game a final movement / combat.

The Germans decided to concentrate on the elimination of the AT gun and Russian infantry holding the south east flank and try to then apply pressure from the front, side, and rear of the Russian platoon holding the central train station. The German right flank was to regroup and hold, “just keep the Russian’s busy, prevent them from moving” said Oberst vonGausche.

The “Panther” helps hold the German right flank, continually bouncing rounds from the Russian 7rmm AT gun.

A “Panther” tank was ordered to give support to that effort. Two fresh German platoons, German mortars, and a pair of PanzerKampfwagon IV’s Panzers were set for the attack. Their German 82mm mortars began to drop smoke on the Russian positions to cover the German advance and the Germans moved into position. As the smoke cleared the mortars switched to HE (high explosive) rounds and the German tanks added their fire in as well. The concentrated fire suppressed and then killed the Russian gun crew. Russian return fire was ineffective at this point and they had no way to counter the German tanks.

The German Panzers engage the dug in anti tank gun.

A Russian messenger was sent to request support as German infantry moved up to close assault the Russian trenches. The German Mortars and tanks belched death and destruction once again into the Russian trenches killing a Russian squad, suppressing another, and pinning the third. Sensing the moment vonGausche ordered the men forward into the Russian positions.

German squads break into the Russian trenches, very little “quarter” was given on the Russian front!

Weak return fire from other Russian troops along with the Russian troops in the entrenchments failed to stop the German attack and with the odds in their favor the Germans cleared the position. Russian reinforcements in the form of two T34 tanks now rounded the corner trying to engage the German MK IV’s…the first German rounds missed the Russians, Russian return fire bounced their first rounds, the next German round found its mark and one of the T34’s burst into flames, the second T34 reversed out of sight.

The first T34 burns at the machine shop corner….

Seeing my flank collapsing as the Russian commander I decided to try and pull back and redeploy. The train station troops were given a retreat order but while exiting the back of the building came under fire and pinned in some woods back of the station.

A second Russian 76mm anti tank gun in the burned out warehouse failed repeatedly to knockout or even damage the German “Panther” tank. A Russian NKVD officer exhorts the crew to do better in the name of “Stalin”

At his point the Russian commander (me) decided that the town could not be held and further struggle would only get valuable troops and equipment destroyed. I ordered a full retreat and congratulated my self on a good defense, inflicting sustainable losses on the Fascist Germans, and looked forward to being reinforced in the morning and given the opportunity to retake the railroad yard in the morning!

It was not to be….I was shot in the morning, on orders from the political officer for cowardice in defense of the mother land…”long live Holy Russia!”

Another “Dog Day Afternoon” in So Cal “Mansurah” 1250ad

Well its been awhile since I’ve posted up anything, not that there wasn’t anything going on its just that some times there is so much going on that time for posting it up is in short supply!

I did make some time to get down to the “Dog of War” club house for some gaming over the last month and that included a great gaming session based on the Crusader era “Crescent and Cross” SAGA rules. Tim Daun has been working on a multi player scenario featuring the 7th Crusades battle in Egypt circa 1250 for the control of the city of “MANSURAH”

The pictures are can be opened (by right clicking and selecting open) for a much higher res picture! It may take awhile if your internet speed is slow or you are using a mobile device! Use your browser’s back button to return to the article. Please be sure to check out the high speed time lapse of the game linked at the end, a 4 hour game in about 2 minutes! There are also quite a few more pictures on the official “Dogs of War” site maintained by Tim D at Dogs of War

The French, English, and Milites (Military Orders) land and deploy from their camp

The French, English, and Milites (Military Orders) land and deploy from their camp

These beautiful SAGA warbands are from the collections of Tim Daun and Chris Snell, dam nice looking on the field!

These beautiful French and English SAGA warbands are from the collections of Tim Daun and Chris Snell, dam nice looking on the field!

This SAGA recreation was the second “play test” of the possible game to be put on at a convention in the future. Tim D, Chris S, and Rick A would command the Muslim forces and Dave D, Chris V. and Bill W (me) commanding the assaulting Crusaders. The main task of the Crusaders is to secure the City as a base of operations for continuation of the crusade. Failing to do this leaves them stranded and open to attack, so they must clear the city completely. I wont go into the game much as it is still having play balance adjusted and needs to be played quite a few times for players to get the “feel” for it, work out strategy, and of course adjustments to be made. I will say I think it already plays well and is a lot of fun. With a few more tweaks it will be another classic “Dog’s of War” production!

Rick not only looks quite confident as the cities Muslim commander he looks the part!

Rick “Abbu Bey” not only looks quite confident as the cities Muslim commander he looks the part! Buildings by Crescent Root Studios

We are ready to soak our sand with the infidels blood!

We are ready to soak our sand with the infidels blood!

This battle (the 2nd) was I’m told a much better showing by crusader forces with them making it into town, clearing several buildings, while taking few losses. Other battles raged on the outskirts of the city where again the crusaders fought well and kept most of the Muslim relief forces from any hope of helping the cities defenders. The game however ended with Muslim forces still in control of half of the city so was technically a victory for the forces under the Crescent Banner!

Ricks Muslim Hearth Guard was held fast against the tide of Crusaders taking but a few losses!

Ricks Muslim Hearth Guard was held fast against the tide of Crusaders taking but a few losses!

My "Teutonic Knights" are raring to go!

My “Teutonic Knights” are raring to go!

I played my Teutonic Knights and did well mostly by raising my “piety” level up to a “4” and at this level the bonuses become very powerful! My Crossbowmen move forward mowing down Muslim defenders as if they were all armed with 50 caliber machine guns! In hindsight I made a few mistakes being new to my Teutonic’s and the scenario. I should have moved faster and more aggressively in clearing the town (this was true across the crusade army) and my last heroic charges by the Teutonic Knight Hearth guard while glorious at first were too late and ultimately directed at the wrong target.

Joe Nacchio as always provided some great accent terrain pieces to the setup. Joe is a real team player and many wargamers do not real think about how important these little extra touches are to any game!

Joe Nacchio as always provided some great accent terrain pieces to the setup. Joe is a real team player and many wargamers do not real think about how important these little extra touches are to any game!

The terrain was top notch and sure to be much more spectacular should this game ever make it to a convention. Thanks to all the “Dogs” for a great Saturday of Gaming!

Bill W

Check the entire 4 hour battle in 2 minutes! Go full screen and have your sound on! and remember you can select higher video quality if your system supports it. (up to 4k for this video!

Below a brief synopsis of the conflict taken from Wikipedia

By the mid-13th century, the Crusaders became convinced that Egypt, the heart of Islam’s forces and arsenal, was an obstacle to their ambition to capture Jerusalem, which they had lost for the second time in 1244. In 1245, during the First Council of Lyon, Pope Innocent IV gave his full support to the Seventh Crusade being prepared by Louis IX, King of France.

The goals of the Seventh Crusade were to destroy the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria, and to recapture Jerusalem. The Crusaders asked the Mongols to become their allies against the Muslims, the Crusaders attacking the Islamic world from west, and the Mongols attacking from the east. Güyük, the Great Khan of the Mongols, told the Pope’s envoy that the Pope and the kings of Europe should submit to the Mongols.

Louis the IX

Louis the IX

The ships of the Seventh Crusade, led by KingLouis’s brothers, Charles d’Anjou and Robert d’Artois, sailed from Aigues-Mortes and Marseille to Cyprus during the autumn of 1248, and then on to Egypt. The ships entered Egyptian waters and the troops of the Seventh Crusade disembarked at Damietta in June 1249. Louis IX sent a letter to as-Salih Ayyub. Emir Fakhr ad-Din Yusuf, the commander of the Ayyubid garrison in Damietta, retreated to the camp of the Sultan in Ashmum-Tanah, causing a great panic among the inhabitants of Damietta, who fled the town, leaving the bridge that connected the west bank of the Nile with Damietta intact. The Crusaders crossed over the bridge and occupied Damietta, which was deserted. The fall of Damietta caused a general emergency (called al-Nafir al-Am النفير العام) to be declared, and

One of French King Louis's brothers Charles d’Anjou

One of French King Louis’s brothers Charles d’Anjou

locals from Cairo and from all over Egypt moved to the battle zone. For many weeks, the Muslims used guerrilla tactics against the Crusader camps; many of the Crusaders were captured and sent to Cairo. As the Crusader army was strengthened by the arrival of

Alphonse de Poitiers, the third brother of King Louis IX, at Damietta, the Crusaders were encouraged by the news of the death of the Ayyubid Sultan, as-Salih Ayyub. The Crusaders began their march towards Cairo. Shajar al-Durr, the widow of the dead Sultan, concealed the news for some time and sent Faris ad-Din Aktai to Hasankeyf to recall Turanshah, the son and heir, to ascend the throne and lead the Egyptian army.

The Battle

The Crusaders approached the battle by the canal of Ashmum (known today by the name Albahr Alsaghir), which separated them from the Muslim camp. An Egyptian showed the Crusaders the way to the canal shoals. The Crusaders, led by Robert of Artois, crossed the canal with the Knights Templar and an English contingent led by William of Salisbury, launching a surprise assault on the Egyptian camp in Gideila, two miles (3 km) from Al Mansurah, and advancing toward the royal palace in Al Mansurah. The leadership of the Egypt_adm_location_map.svg2Egyptian forces passed to the Mamluks Faris Ad-Din Aktai and Baibars al-Buduqdari who contained the attack and reorganized the Muslim forces. This was the first appearance of the Mamluks as supreme commanders inside Egypt. Shajar al-Durr, who had full control of Egypt, agreed with Baibars’ plan to defend Al Mansurah. Baibars ordered the gate be opened to let the Crusaders enter the town. The crusaders rushed in, thinking the town deserted, only to find themselves trapped inside. The Crusaders were besieged from all directions by Egyptian forces and the local population, and they took heavy losses. Robert of Artois, who took refuge in a house, and William of Salisbury were both killed along with most of the Knights Templar. Only five Templar Knights escaped alive. The Crusaders retreated to their camp in disorder, and surrounded it with a ditch and wall. Early on the morning of February 11, the Muslim forces launched a devastating offensive against the Frankish camp. On February 27, the new sultan Turanshah arrived in Al Mansurah to lead the Egyptian army, and the death of as-Salih Ayyub was formally announced in Egypt. Ships were transported overland and dropped in the Nile behind the Crusader ships blocking the reinforcement line from Damietta. The Egyptians used Greek fire, destroying and seizing many Crusader supply vessels. The besieged Crusaders soon began suffering from famine and disease. Some Crusaders deserted to the Muslim side.

Despite being overwhelmed and ultimately defeated, King Louis IX tried to negotiate with the Egyptians, offering the surrender of the Egyptian port of Damietta in exchange for Jerusalem and a few towns on the Syrian coast. The Egyptians rejected the offer, and the Crusaders retreated to Damietta under cover of darkness on April 5, followed closely by the Muslim forces. At the subsequent Battle of Fariskur, the last major battle of the Seventh Crusade, the Crusader forces were annihilated and King Louis IX was captured on April 6. Meanwhile, the Crusaders were circulating false information in Europe, claiming that King Louis IX defeated the Sultan of Egypt in a great battle, and Cairo had been betrayed into Louis’s hands. Later, when the news of Louis IX’s capture and the French defeat reached France, the Shepherds’ Crusade movement occurred in France.

Louis IX was taken prisoner.

Aftermath

According to medieval Muslim historians, 15,000 to 30,000 French fell on the battlefield and thousands were taken prisoners.[24] Louis IX of France was captured in the nearby village of Moniat Abdallah (now Meniat el Nasr), chained and confined in the house of Ibrahim Ibn Lokman, the royal chancellor, and under the guard of a eunuch named Sobih al-Moazami.[25] The king’s brothers, Charles d’Anjou and Alphonse de Poitiers, were taken prisoner at the same time, and were carried to the same house with other French nobles. The sultan provided for their subsistence. A camp was set up outside the town to shelter the rest of the prisoners. Louis IX was ransomed for 400,000 dinars. After pledging not to return to Egypt, Louis surrendered Damietta and left for Acre with his brothers and 12,000 war prisoners whom the Egyptians agreed to release.

The battle of Al Mansurah was a source of inspiration for writers and poets of that time. One of the satiric poems ended with the following verses: “If they (the Franks) decide to return to take revenge or to commit a wicked deed, tell them :The house of Ibn Lokman is intact, the chains still there as well as the eunuch Sobih”. —from stanza by Jamal ad-Din ibn Matruh.

The name of Al Mansurah (Arabic: “the Victorious”) that dates from an earlier period was consolidated after this battle. The city still holds the name of Al Mansurah today, as the capital of the Egyptian governorate, Daqahlia. The National Day of Daqahlia Governorate (capital Al Mansurah) on February 8, marks the anniversary of the defeat of Louis IX in 1250. The house of Ibn Lokman, which is now the only museum in Al Mansurah, is open to the public and houses articles that used to belong to the French monarch, including his personal thirteenth century toilet.

Age Of Eagles II, Napoleonics for Christmas!

The French march on.

The French march on.

Merry Christmas to all! I had a few great games over the holidays, both Napoleonic since I had gotten a copy of Age Of Eagles II (AOE2) from Steve G for Christmas. We decided to try them out at my place and see what was new. It was going to be a  “learning” game but we found that AOE2 was really unchanged! A lot of elaborations, explanations, and clarifications, but basically unchanged! Yea!!!

I really like AOE for its very simple yet elegant style of play that plays fast and give pretty consistent results based on the commanders play. I’m not going to give a big detailed report on AOE here since I’m dying to hit the painting table and work on my Russian “line in greatcoats”

I have found that over enough battles in the Napoleonic period you see how much initial deployment and the first opening moves counts for winning or losing a battle as troops are not that maneuverable. The first game, just Steve and I was over pretty much after turn two, we played out to about turn 10 but the writing was on the wall early.

Initial layout

Yellow shows Austrian deployment and movements. Red shows French moves and counter moves. The Blue lines show French artillery lanes of fire during the game.

Steve and his Austrians came on in the center of the table and I with the French on the right flank of my table side. I pushed forward in a sort of “bloom move” with the object of reaching a commanding hill near the center of the table. Troop movement was equal as I was Impulse and Steve was Columnar. I had the edge in shooting.

Initial layout2

Deployment from the French side.

I decided to place most of my artillery on that hill with a covering force to the left (I tried to give the appearance of a flank attack by sending the Hussars all pushing out that way) On the right of the hill I pushed part of my force towards the town and the rest flanking Steve’s right. My Heavy Cavalry drove forward in the direction of another hill already occupied by Austrian Hussars (his infantry deploying to the rear along the road) My plan was simple, defeat in detail, Steve was already splitting his forces (he had more troops 60 infantry, 16 Cav, 5 guns, to my 48 infantry, 16 Cav, 5 guns) by swinging half his force wide to counter my force on the left. He fell into my trap! I was not attacking there but defending! This kept half of his force moving, trying to deploy for most of the game, and ineffective with me just having to toss a bit of artillery at it to further slow it’s attack while I concentrated on flanking and overwhelming his other flank.

The Austrian "right" moves off to stop the French left, an attack that never materialized. This kept them out of the battle!

The Austrian “right” moves off to stop the French left, an attack that never materialized. This kept them out of the battle!

Austrian4My command of the central heights with my concentrated artillery able to switch fire to either flank was also very effective especially when he attempted to move troops out of the center town to reinforce his threatened right flank (hitting them in enfilade as well as in movement mode!)

French Artillery controls the center! These are ESSEX figures painted 20+ years ago and recently rebased for AOE.

French Artillery controls the center! These are ESSEX figures painted 20+ years ago and recently re-based for AOE.

AustrianDeploy

Austrians push on, deploying into a small tight area….

Steve’s and his Austrians fought well but they were off balance from the beginning and the ponderously large Austrian formations were so closely packed that maneuvering became impossible! My cavalry gave the small hill to my infantry who were now also backed up by some of the infantry that had feinted attack up the center towards the town.

The Austrian light cavalry make a valiant but vain attempt to stop the French Heavy Currassier

The Austrian light cavalry make a valiant but vain attempt to stop the French Heavy Cuirrassier and Lancers!

As the French Heavy horse moved off to try and flank the Austrians the Austrian infantry made a bold move and launched an attack at my infantry as it crested the hill in an effort to regain the initiative or disrupt my attack but some good rolls on my part disordered him further pinning him while my Cavalry forced one brigade into square while it was under infantry fire!

The small hill was the point of the heaviest fighting of the game with both the cavalry and large infantry battles taking place there!

The small hill was the point of the heaviest fighting of the game with both the cavalry and large infantry battles taking place there!

"En Avant!" "A La Bayonette!" The "Hill" receives yet more spilled blood!

“En Avant!” “A La Bayonette!” The “Hill” receives yet more spilled blood!

The Cavalry continued into the Austrians rear and with out much fighting it was decided that there was no way the Austrians could recover and fight it out, it would just be a slaughter…the honorable Austrian commander vonGausche not wishing to toss the lives of his countrymen away in vain surrendered…his other forces not even really committed yet quit the field and the game went to the French.

The French press hard on the Austrians who taking fire from three sides, disordered, unable to move, and seeing Heavy Cav in their rear, surrender!

The French press hard on the Austrians who taking fire from three sides, disordered, unable to move, and seeing Heavy Cav in their rear, surrender! The line of French troops in Red jackets and Buff pants are Swiss!

It was a Great game and really well played on both sides, fun! Got me interested in painting and playing more Age of Eagles Napoleonic battles soon! Check out the AOE website in the links section. If you are in the Los Angeles area and want to play give me a shout via the contact form on the site!

TB buildings

I now use 10mm TOTAL BATTLE miniature buildings from their Black Powder range! There’s a link to them in the link section. They really make towns look like towns!

Hold the Press!!! News Flash!!!

Well many thought it would never happen but… yes it has happened, Steve’s dice have gone HOT!!! Long known for having the coldest dice this side of the Antarctic Steve Gausche rolled more “10’s” in one game than most of us have seen him roll over the course of years!

open

The battle lines are drawn, Rebs deploy to the left and right, a Rebel attack quickly develops on the Union right.

Last Saturday saw us running a tune-up game of Fire and Fury, (American Civil War battles using our 15mm figures) in preparation for next weeks Mega game were about 10 of us re-fight the entire 2nd day of Gettysburg!

The game was a simple exercise, Steve took 5 Brigades and 2 guns of Union troops to defend against my 7 brigades and 2 guns. I know it does not seem like a lot to attack with but the attacker given enough maneuver room can concentrate his forces much easier then the defender. There was also the fact that while Steve is know for rolling shall we say “poorly” I was dubbed “Major Roller” by our local club (the Bengal Club) so I figured it was well balanced…….

Union1

Steady men! Hold yer fire till I give the word…fix bayonets and prepare for a counter charge!

The opening of the battle saw me get what I thought was great position on him and I prepared to “pick” him slowly apart by defeating one side then rolling the line….. . I was so confident in the outcome already that I was not going to even take pictures of what I thought would be a fairly boring game, just and exercise in game mechanics! he was rolling a few bad rolls to start as usual and I boldly pushed two reb brigades through the woods on the left flank and launched a charge It was here my luck went south and never returned but for one brief moment later in the game. I rolled for the first brigade, they moved out but I had judged the distance wrong and they came up shot of the Union Brigade, and worse the second Reb Brigade rolled badly and failed to advance (confused orders?) This left the first CSA Brigade a sitting duck to the defensive fire of the Union infantry and just arrived battery of guns….Steve’s rolling was incredible and his really spectacular rolls mirrored my really bad rolls to further the damage inflected on me!

Steve rolled and blasted my poor brigade to pieces, it retreated back into the woods, disordered, and less several stands of infantry

Reb1

The 50th Virginia holds the center by the old Church. Rebel artillery prepares to deploy.

.A second pair of Rebel brigades charged the 2nd Union Brigade holding the Union right, again I rolled poorly and Steve rolled like a demon! Booth of those brigades fell back from the wall disordered, shot to pieces, and in no condition to launch another attack.

Reb2

Near the end…Rebel force are forced slowly out of the town and desperate back to back fighting rages all along the lines!

Steve continued to roll 8s, 9s, and 10s, in all the shooting phases, forcing me into a defensive posture… he was soon on the attack! It was downhill all the way, I had to use all my skill to try and fend him off, trying to rally my broken units and retreat off the board. It was not to be Steve skillfully closed both my flanks in on themselves until my Rebs were fighting back to back. I manage to save only ONE and a HALF brigades out of seven! I lost 27 infantry stands, 2 gun batteries, and 2 Colonels. About half of those were “captured” including the officers. Steve remarkably lost only 1 brigade! 4 stands destroyed, one captured along with a officer….the captured stand and officer returned when I had to beat a hasty retreat at the end…lol!

It was really great game and played to the bitter end in about 5 hours, 12 turns or so.

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The Union left flank pushes out of town and around the Rebel right flank! This spells doom for the Rebel cause this day….

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The Rebels bravely hold their position at “the Wall” only indecision by the Union commanders saves them from a charge and destruction! This was the only Rebel brigade to skedaddle off to fight another day….

SAGA Tournament, Success!

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SAGA games almost as far as the eye can see.

Wow! What a great turn out and day of gaming! The last weekend in January saw the culmination of 3 months of game days leading up to Saturdays SAGA Tournament! Twenty players fought 3 rounds each over the course of 6 hours to determine the chosen few left standing at the end to receive some of the great “loot” from the prize table!

Last summer the Los Angeles based “Dog’s of War” miniatures war gaming group was kibitzing at their clubhouse or as we call it “the Dog Pound” and putting forth ideas for a get together outside the club to both promote miniature war gaming and hold an event with others outside the group. We decided to limit the scope of the project to our current favorite period and rules “SAGA” Dark Ages Battles. We hoped to meet new players, bring other SAGA players out of their garages, and even possibly create new devotees to the game. Several plans were put forth. We finally decided to run a series of game days where we would be able to both bring current players together as well as introduce new players to the game in a casual setting. Several different venues were considered for these events before finally deciding to start where we knew there to be gamers who were  interested in SAGA.

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We approached Chuck Robbins of the Game Empire in Pasadena, California, with the idea and got a positive response to our ideas. Soon we were holding regular SAGA game days every 2 weekends and the response from both current and new players was great. It

Mike and Chuck share a laff!

Mike and Chuck share a laff!

seemed that there had been a small group doing SAGA there months before but interest had waned as a few of the main players had moved. With the support and drive of the Dogs of War this was about to change. Any type of gaming, especially miniature wargaming interest level is critical and when gaming is sporadic or monotonous (same opponent every week) interest levels plummet. This leads to disappointment and a reluctance of gamers to invest money and time in a set of rules and figures that they feel will be rarely used, or the “enjoyment factor” will be low verse the investment.

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A couple of “Dogs” share a moment……

Well the “Dogs of War” are persistent, dependable, and dedicated, if they are anything and it showed in the final turnout where after a reliable series of game days the player count for the tournament exceeded anyone’s expectations and that even after half a dozen players we thought would surly be there had to cancel! The tournament was as big as several others I have seen at big conventions!, with better prizes, and more fun!

Rick Abbo makes and sells some cool Fatigue markers

Rick Abbo makes and sells some cool Fatigue markers

Before I get into the tournament I want to thank all the “Dogs” for their hard work in putting this together, making the drive week after week, lugging terrain, mats, rules, and troops to teach, lend and develop new players. Chris Snell for all the above and always being there, Joe Naccio for his always on top efforts, building, painting, and contributing much more than we all really know (Joe painted his extra figure into the Viking Warband prize, the Viking Command stand prize, and provided all the “tweezers” door prizes!, David Dandridge for his level headed consul, devotion, and volunteering to not play and take the reins of umpiring and tabulating the tourney (woot I got to play!). Rick, Tim and the Sarge, Galen, Steve G, and all the “Dogs” well done! Rick and I both contributed prizes as well, Hills, Fatigue counter stands, trees, sacred ground markers…..

Ricks newest creation a turn record piece.

Ricks newest creation a turn record piece.

We all also need to remember that this would not have been possible with out the Game Empire and Chuck Robbins. The Game Empire is one of the last “Brick and Mortar” game shops left around LA and we all need to support them so events like this can go on! Chuck contributed to both the prize pool and the use of his store space resources over the last three months. Travis his store manager was always there to help and is a wealth of experience in running events, thanks Chuck and Travis.

my first opponent James and his Skraelings....

my first opponent James and his Skraelings….

The first rounds began shortly after 11am Saturday and the last finishing up about 6:30 that evening. The 20 players who registered and fought were as follows;

Frank VillaOrlad / Teutonic Knights, Jose Farinas / Crusaders, Christian Sorensen / Anglo-Danes, Dennis Bolin / Welsh, Rick Abbo / Moors, James Stilwell / Skraelings, Sara Stilwell / Vikings, Roger Stilwell / Anglo-Saxons, Bill Stilwell / Normans, Tim Daun / Anglo-Danes, Chuck Robbins / Normans, Igor Torgeson / Normans, Mike Gunson / Anglo-Danes, Bill Witthans / Vikings, Chris Armstrong / Anglo-Saxon, Chirs Snell / Normans, Steve Gausche / Vikings, Galen Yee / Anglo-Danes, Joe Naccio / Skraelings, and Jeff McArthur / ?

 

This great Viking army was built, painted and donated by Joe Naccio! Hats off to Joe!

This great Viking army was built, painted and donated by Joe Naccio! Hats off to Joe!

The current “goto” warband Anglo-Danes were the most popular and did well, but failed to make it to the top. Vikings and Normans were also well represented with Roger Stilwell’s Viking warband taking top spot and the grand prize of…what else, a painted Viking Warband! Hot on his heels for top honors was Chuck Robbins with his Normans going like Roger’s Vikings win/win/win and only getting edged down to 2nd place by 3 points. Chuck picked up a very nice Viking command stand painted and donated by Joe Naccio. 3rd place went to Bill Stilwell another of the Stilwell family gamers playing yet again another Norman

Rick Abbo makes and sells some cool Fatigue markers

Rick Abbo makes and sells some cool Fatigue markers

warband. Bill took home some of Rick Abbo’s custom “Fatigue” marker stands. Rick makes and sell these, email him for info. Dennis Bolin came in 4th place with the only Welsh warband to see action that day and took a set of “Sacred Ground” markers made for the tourney (made / donated by me). Jose Farinas came in at 5th and was rewarded with a set of trees (also from me) and last place, winner of the “Wooden Spoon” award was Chris Armstrong who’s dice utterly failed him! He gets a new set of dice from the Game Empire! Everyone else was rewarded with a cool set of “tweezers” a door prize from Joe N. and a great day of wargaming!

Some cool hills buit and donated by "yours Truly"

Some cool hills buit and donated by “yours Truly”

So as I played in and ran the tourney I was pretty busy so I’m not able to speak about all the other battles, just the ones I was in. First I fought James Stilwell and his Skraelings, James was a tough competitor and the Skraelings can give any opponent fits, I pressed my Vikings hard and they broke through killing his Warlord on turn 4. Next was Chris Snell, Chris and I have fought many battles before and he’s tough…normally I have Normans against his Vikings but this time he had Normans and I the Vikings! Chris has learned to finesse his Normans and gave me a hard time, we fought tooth and nail however I was getting the worst of it and my die rolls weren’t helping. I made one last effort to push into his Warlord. I killed all but one of his hearth guard, he ALL my figures save the warlord so that found our Warlords slugging it out for the next two two rounds with my warlord surviving TWO rounds of shooting from both a full 12 man levy bow unit and his near full strength crossbow unit! EPIC!!!! 4-5 people were watching and sheering this one!

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My Vikings charge over the hill, into Chris Snell’s Normans, and Valhalla!

My warlord killed 2 or three of his hearth guard and fought his Warlord as well while standing alone but then my warlord dieing at the end. The third round pitted me against Christian S and his Anglo-Danes in the Sacred Ground scenario. By this stage of the day I was tired, loosing steam, and poor die rolls did not help (my excuse “wink”) so smart play on Christians part had me and my Vikings return to the boats, conceding the game at the beginning of turn 5!

At this point most of the third round was complete and winners and losers then gathered to lick their wounds and cheer the winners. The Winners got to choose from a prize table in order of their placing in the tourney. Prizes went down to 6th place.

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Chuck and Bill (me) present Roger Stilwell his 4 point Viking Warband for his placing first in the tourney.

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Our rewards!

Everyone had loads of fun, all were praising the “Dogs” and Game Empire for putting the Tournament on, and many asking when the next one would be. As the last players drove away the remaining “Dogs” packed away the gear and retired across the way to Lucky Baldwin’s Pub for some well deserved drinks and a bit of food!
Since some have asked the next SAGA event will be announced shortly, it will take us to the land of the Crusades! The next expansion of the SAGA rule set the “Crescent and the Cross” We will be doing game days leading to a tourney……details to come…..

Bill Witthans

Please enjoy the gallery of the days fun! There are more pictures coming so check back soon.

 

Our Napoleonic battles expand (or shrink?)

Always start a Napoleonic post with the French marching!

Always start a Napoleonic post with the French marching!

Been doing so much SAGA (battles in the Dark Age Skirmish) around here and painting 3 Warbands for it from scratch that there has been little time for any other projects or gaming in any other periods. So after finishing my last Warband, Anglo-Danes, I decided to take a break from SAGA painting and dive into the prepped and primed set of Napoleonic buildings that I had gotten over the summer from “Total Battle Miniatures”. I had looked at re doing my Napoleonic buildings for some time now as Steve and I have a collection of random 15mm buildings but we were just not real happy with their effect on the battlefield.

One of our "15mm" buildings by I think "hovels" its not really true to scale either. This building is about medium size for a 15mm building.

One of our “15mm” buildings by I think “hovels” its not really true to scale either. This building is about medium size for a 15mm building.

Our 15mm buildings looked fine paint wise and good on the field but the size of the building meant that in the scale we play (Age of Eagles rules) towns were represent by one or two buildings and even then the large size of the buildings did not give either a good look or anywhere near the correct ground scale. Now ground scale was not that important to me as I was going to modify the AOE town combat any way into something slightly simpler and I really just wanted towns to look like towns, or closer than what we had now.

The way we had been showing "Hamlets" or "Villages" not very satisfying in my opinion.

The way we had been showing “Hamlets” or “Villages” not very satisfying in my opinion. I later went to placing brown felt under the building to show the towns outline for troop disposition.

I had looked over the “net” for over a year at different building manufactures, comparing look, variety, size, and price. I finally settled on “Total Battle Miniatures” because their “Big Battalion-Black Powder Europe” line was not only beautiful it was extensive, giving me a selection of 20 different buildings and 3 different bases to use. The line is well thought out, well cast, and priced very fairly. I liked the novel hamlet, village, town, base system they have where all the buildings in the line have “foot prints” that fit into the village, town, or hamlet, so that you can vary the look of several villages infinitely! Some footprints allow either 1 big building or 1-3 smaller footprint buildings to be placed in them. The bases are made of a soft synthetic material and allow a bit of conforming to uneven terrain. The buildings could certainly be used with out the bases but I like to over all effect as well as it would give me a definite “boundary” to define units being in or out of the urban area.

Now that is not the end of the story or even the reason for this post….. the real reason is to talk about the decision I made to go with their “10mm line” instead of the 15mm buildings, YES they not only make this line in 15mm, they also do the line in 10mm!!! and they also have some of the buildings in 20mm and 28mm!!! So after a bit of discussion with the chaps (Pete & Mark) at Total Battle about the size difference in 15 verse 10mm they mentioned that a few of their customers had used the 10mm for 15mm games and had good feedback on this. They were also kind enough to send me some comparison pictures showing a 15mm figure next to the 10mm buildings. Looking at the pictures I was sold on 10mm and decided to order the complete line, well actually more… I ordered 2 Hamlets, 2 Villages, and 2 Towns, that gave me 6 bases and 29 buildings! This is plenty for even large Napoleonic battlefields up to 4’x12’. (we play mostly 4’x6’)

This shows the difference in the building scale between 15mm (left) and 10mm (right) with a similar foot print. The 15mm occupy an area of aprocimatly 9" by 10" while the 10mm are 8" x 8" to the base edge. Figures are "Old Glory 15mm.

This shows the difference in the building scale between 15mm (left) and 10mm (right) with a similar foot print. The 15mm occupy an area of approximately 9″ by 10″ while the 10mm are 8″ x 8″ to the base edge. Figures are “Old Glory 15mm.

We just did our first battle using the first of the painted 10mm buildings and both Steve and I were quite pleased with the look and playability the 10mm scale gives us. We used two “Hamlet” sized bases with 6 buildings, 3 finished painted, and 3 almost finished. They look awesome and give a great look. You now have several buildings representing a small hamlet instead of one and you have some room around them on the “base” to deploy troops, clearly defining who is “in” town and what bases are “out”. The scale of the 15mm figures is in my opinion fine compared to the 10mm buildings and the look on the field more than out weighs the slight loss of real scale figure wise after all the figures are already much larger than the ground scale so this puts the buildings closer to ground scale.

The whole picture, now that looks like 2 "Hamlets" instead of two buildings!

The whole picture, now that looks like 2 “Hamlets” instead of two buildings! Sorry forgot to place the “trees” in the green cutouts.

The battle we fought was fairly small 2 “division’s” per side with a small Cavalry Division…30 infantry stands and 8 of cav apiece. It was a meeting engagement with the Hamlets and control of the road net the objective. Steve’s Austrians reached one town first and deployed, other Prussian brigades turned both north and south to counter expected French thrusts. The French commander (me) however used the legendary French marching speed to fall instead on the center where the Prussians had occupied the town.

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Austrians move around and into the Hamlet of Hoffbrau, drinking a bit to much on the way through…..

The French assembled 2 battery’s, a 6 pound horse battery, a 12 pound infantry battery, and 3 Brigades for the assault on the Prussian held Hamlet. Preliminary fire by the French got lucky and rolled very well disordering the Prussian defenders while only suffering “disorder” to one of their own brigades. The French assault threw the smaller Prussian force back out of town with a “breakthrough” charge catching and “shattering” the Prussians fleeing the town as well as over running a Prussian Heavy battery. This pretty much ended Prussian hopes and the game.

French Breakthrough3

While he Austrians set up to fight a proper battle the French cheated as usual and out marched them arriving in mass at the Hamlet before the other Austrians were were close enough to lend support.

People who know me “know” that I am the first to speak out when shits not right and conversely I like to sing out when companies get it right and in the “miniatures” hobby it is sometimes rare to find one getting right, well “Total Battle Miniatures” got it right start to finish! from their great packaging (from England), to the casting, the range of beautiful terrain pieces, and even prompt answering of all my email questions!!!

They paint up very easily, typical resin buildings, wash, dry, prime…paint. The bases however are a SOFT synthetic material so you must use paint that has the ability to flex over time as well. I was told no primer was needed…things are so far OK with only minor chips in just a few spots…I would have like these bases to be resin or at least had the choice…that’s just me. I will do a separate post soon on the painting of these guys, I’m currently on three out of the six you see here!

Here's the whole set as ordered.

Here’s the whole set as ordered.

Here are some more pictures to give you all a chance to decide for yourself, and if you buy from Total Battle Miniatures please tell them you saw it here!