Second Game of To The Strongest

Now that I’d built the Assyrians up to a decent level, it was time to get them onto the tabletop again. As the Beardless King was unavailable (school!), I persuaded long time wargaming buddy Neil to give the rules a try for game two of my To The Strongest journey.

The Forces Involved

I would play the New Kingdom Egyptians again. My troops consisted of three commands:

Pharoah

  • Two units of guard two-horse light chariots

  • Two units of regular two-horse light chariots

  • One unit of bowmen to guard the Camp

The Blue General

  • Two units of shieldwall spearmen

  • Two units of bowmen archers

  • One unit each of marines, axemen, spearmen and Nubian bowmen (this last guarding a Camp)

The Canaanite Ally General

  • Two units of raw spearmen

  • Four units of raw lights with javelins (one guarding a camp)

Pharoah and his army (well, most of it: there are more chariots out of shot to Pharoah’s right)

Neil would command the following Assyrian troops:

The King

  • Two units of regular four-horse heavy chariots

The Cavalry General

  • One unit of guard cavalry

  • Two units of regular cavalry

The Infantry General

  • One unit of veteran infantry

  • One unit of regular infantry

  • Two units of raw infantry

  • A camp

The General of Light Troops

  • One unit of Assyrian light bowmen

  • Two units of raw Javelinmen

  • A camp

The Game

As I had loads of light troops, King Neil (“Kneel before King Neil!”) deployed first. He placed his lights on his right, his infantry in the centre, the heavy chariots just to the left of centre, and his cavalry out on the left.

This allowed me to choose where to deploy my troops. I decided to follow the same tactics as last time: placing my infantry in the centre flanked by the Canaanites on the left and my chariots on my right. The plan was for the chariots to keep his cavalry busy with missile fire and evasion, hold and perhaps chew up some of his infantry units in the centre, whilst the Canaanites used their superior numbers to overwhelm his light troops and then took all his camps.

Unfortunately, things did not go entirely to plan!

On my right, the chariots steamed forward and began pelting the Assyrian cavalry with arrows, evading them when they charged in reply. So far so good, but my chariots rapidly began to run out of room, as the Assyrians followed up every charge with another one.

This became a particular problem when King Neil threw in his heavy chariots as well: one unit of which drove some chariots right back towards one of my camps, much to the amusement of the Egyptian archers therein: everybody likes to see the nobles get nobbled!

Meanwhile, in the centre, my Egyptian infantry had advanced into bow range and then into contact. Unfortunately, they failed to make much headway, and the centre soon developed into a stalemate, with each side able to disorder the other, but not quite manage to break and force any to rout.

Particularly annoying were my axemen (veteran troops with two-handed cutting weapons). I had high hopes for them, but their first advance saw their attack repelled, and the enemy counter-attack disorder them. Methinks the royal crocodiles won’t be going hungry tonight!

The axemen are out of shot, but are about to hit the Assyrian blue unit top right.

So it was all up to the Canaanites.

They were raw troops, but there were a lot of them: in fact they outnumbered the troops in front of them two-to-one.

Unfortunately (I seem to be using that word a lot in this report!) their numbers actually told against them. I tried to cram them into the space in between the left flank of the Egyptian infantry and a patch of rough ground, and got completely jammed up. It took several turns to get everything sorted, and to drive back the infantry in front of me, opening up a way through to the Assyrian camps.

Canaanites (anachronistically dressed as Spartan Hoplites to scare the opposition) finally force the gap, although the High King’s chariot has to mount the curb to get by

All well and good, but all this delay had allowed the Assyrians to disperse my chariots and get their heavy chariots back into the fray. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so have a look at the below…

Yes: that is a unit of Assyrian four-horse heavy chariots crashing into the flank of my main battle line!

Suffice to say that a general rolling up of my line occurred, and I began haemorrhaging victory coins right, left and centre. To add insult to injury, the other unit of heavy chariots looted one of my camps, and that, as they say, was that!

Aftermath

Another great game of TTS. The activation system is quite fun, but brutal if the cards start to go against you.

The battle was won in a satisfyingly traditional way: Neil’s mounted troops drove off my mounted troops, and then returned to hit the flank of my main battle line as they attempted to push forward over his.

It could all have already been over if the Canaanites had got their skates on, but I mishandled them badly and they didn’t!

The Egyptians are now officially sacked, and I’m now busy painting Hoplites to bring my early Greeks up to scratch for TTS!

Robert Avery

IABSM AAR: Stopping the Gap

Another excellent battle report from Carojon of the Devon Wargames Group.

This game was a small fictitious battle from a free scenario designed by Richard Clarke using IABSM. The scenario recreates what must have been one of many similar struggles going on in the closing days of the Normandy campaign in late summer of 1944 as the allies fought hard to close what became known to history as the 'Falaise Pocket'.

Click on the picture below to see all:

First Game of To The Strongest

Whilst I was up in Edinburgh playing IABSM the other week, I also had the opportunity to watch a game of To The Strongest, a set of quick-play Ancients rules based on drawing playing cards as opposed to rolling dice, and using grid-based movement rather than tape measures. Well it all looked quite fun, and a useful way of getting some of my Ancients figures out onto the table for the first time in years.

I’d rather have been playing my own Vis Bellica rules, obviously, but the fashion these days is for quick-play, so if I want to get some games in with the group I usually play with, it was TTS all the way!

A quick trip to the BigRedBat’s shop (you can click on the pic of the front cover to go there) and I purchased a copy of the rules and a suitably grid-ed mat. Army lists are free to download, along with a rather handy army calculator that does all the hard work of picking your force for you. Everything arrived quickly and correctly, so all in all a jolly good start to the TTS experience.

All my 15mm figures are based as elements for Vis Bellica, but I soon realised that combining two VB bases would give me a suitable TTS unit with a frontage of 12cms, perfect for the 15cm grid mat I had bought, and allowing me to show a unit as disordered merely by putting the two VB bases at angles to each other. VB bases with a narrower frontage (elephants and light chariot units) could be fielded as four VB narrow bases.

Formed and disordered units for TTS, along with a dice to mark ammo. Note grid intersection just to the right of the ordered spearmen.

What this would also mean, of course, is that I effectively needed double the size of a normal VB army for a TTS force…so double the number of figures!

Luckily, I went big when I bought my VB armies, so was able to field a force of New Kingdom Egyptians and Assyrians without the need to do anything except remove a bit of dust from the figures.

I did however realise that my hoplite and Macedonian armies were going to be short a pikeblock or four: TTS phalanxes are double depth, so I’d need to field them as four VB bases, and even I didn’t have a four-times-normal sized Greek or Macedonian force. The same was true for Celtic warbands, so my Ancient Brits might also be short of a few warrior units. Ah well, if I like the rules I’ll just have to buy some more figures…

Ed.’s Wife’s Note: Any excuse! He bought them already, before he even tried TTS out.

The Cast

TTS is advertised as a game ideal for novice gamers, so bearing that in mind my opponent for my first game was my ten-year old daughter. As it was game one, and she has never really wargamed before, I set up all the figures before we started:

The Egyptian (Pharoah Dad)

Command 1:

  • Attached Senior Heroic Mounted General

  • Two veteran light chariot units

  • Two light chariot units

  • Hero

  • Camp

Command 2:

  • Attached Heroic Mounted General

  • Two spearman units

  • Two archers units

  • One axeman unit

  • One Marines unit

  • Hero

  • Camp

Command 3:

  • Attached Heroic Mounted General

  • Two units of bowmen

  • Two units of skirmishers

  • Hero

  • Camp

The Assyrians (the Beardless King)

Command 1:

  • Attached Senior Heroic Mounted General

  • One unit of veteran 4-horse heavy chariots

Command 2:

  • Attached Heroic Mounted General

  • One veteran cavalry unit

  • One cavalry unit

  • Hero

  • Camp

Command 3:

  • Attached Heroic Mounted General

  • Four shieldwall units, one veteran and two raw

  • Hero

  • Camp

Command 4:

  • Attached Heroic Mounted General

  • One unit of bowmen

  • Two units of javelinmen

  • Hero

  • Camp

Each side therefore ended up with 12 victory coins. Each time you lose an asset, you lose one or more coins. Lose all your coins and you lose the battle.

The Game

The game began with a strong Egyptian advance across their entire front. Activation of units seemed very simple and easy to understand, and choosing which units to try and activate first and pulling the cards did indeed prove quite fun.

The Assyrians also moved forward strongly, with their cavalry heading straight for the Egyptian chariots seemingly unphased by the superior number of pyramid builders.

I then realised that I had a slight problem. My light chariots, being of the light troops variety, couldn’t charge the Assyrians head on: I could only shoot them and evade their charges whilst trying to get around their flanks and rear. Unfortunately, the Assyrian cavalry were just as fast as my chariots, and one unit of veteran chariots was soon no more than a pile of kindling and dog food, with the mildly exerted Assyrian Guard cavalry sailing forward looking for their next victims.

The chess game between the two units of Assyrian cavalry and three remaining Egyptian chariot units would take up most of the rest of the game, as I tried frantically to stop his cavalry running over my light troops whilst looking for a way through to his flanks, rear and camps. The Beardless King was, however, equally determined: forming an inexorable line of cavalry that just kept of coming.

Meanwhile, in the centre, the two lines of infantry had come together: first the arrows flew in either direction, then the units got stuck into each other. The Assyrians had the advantage of having combined units of spear and bow-armed infantry, but I had stacked my spearmen and bow units two to a hex (i.e. a unit of archers behind a unit of bowmen) with some success.

Unfortunately, just as I was about to firmly win in the centre, the Assyrians committed their reserve into the combat (at my suggestion, I hasten to add!) slamming a single unit of veteran four-horse heavy chariots into my exposed flank.

But it was actually on my left flank that I lost the battle!

There, each sides’ light units had clashed, with victory going to the Assyrians. I had already committed my reserve to prop up the chariots, and one pesky unit of Assyrian javelinmen broke through my light troops and managed to sack not one, but two of my camps!

The enormous cost in Victory Coins of losing two camps was too much for my Egyptians, and they fled the field.

A somewhat embarrassing defeat!

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Post-Match Analysis

Well that was actually a jolly fun game. We got loads of the mechanics slightly wrong, but know what to do right next time.

The figures looked good on the table, and I am pleased that Simon Miller, the author of TTS, shares my belief in the importance of holding your line of battle strong whilst seeking to punch through or outflank that of your opponent, exactly as VB does. This wasn’t a question of a fight between a series of individual units, but two armies clashing, with victory going to the army that held its overall shape for longest.

I shall definitely have more games of To The Strongest, and am now very tempted by the English Civil War version: For King and Parliament. I’d better get those extra hoplites and pikemen painted up first though!

Here are a few more pics of what turned out to be an excellent game:

Q13 AAR: Stalemate in the Crop Fields

Time for another game of Q13, so time to get the space Dwarves back onto the tabletop to battle another of my so-far-untested forces: the Tah-Sig.

This would be an encounter battle fought across a battlefield consisting of crop fields separated by a series of access roads and narrow strips of open ground. The storyline was that this time it was the Dwarves who were the aggressors: outnumbering the Tah-Sig by a fair amount and needing to get as many units as possible off the table on the Tah-Sig side.

Click on the picture below to see what happened:

IABSM AAR: The Second Battle of Tomaszow Lubelski

The last week of September 1939 saw a combined “Northern Front” Polish army join the attack towards Tomaszow Lubelski. Due to bad communications between the different Polish divisions, the result was a series of largely uncoordinated attacks by Polish unis arriving from the north-east, launched in the direction of the city only to be shattered wave-by-wave by the German defenders.

This scenario would represent one such attack: with Polish and German forces brawling for control of the centre of the table. Four objectives would be placed there, with each side entering the table and attempting to take and hold them. The game would end after ten appearances of the Turn Card, at which point victory would go to the side that held the most objectives. If, however, one side managed to hold at any point three of the four objectives, then the game would end immediately, with that side wining the battle.

Click on the picture below to see the extraordinary events that followed…

Arab Israeli AAR: Rumi El Bakhara

I hadn’t gamed with old friend Neil for at least 18 months, so it was a pleasure to get a date into the diary and push some lead around the table again.

We decided to have a battle set in the 1967 Six Day War between an Israeli and an Egyptian (UAR) force. The game would be a fictional encounter battle using the TooFatLardies Charlie Don’t Surf Vietnam rules adapted for the theatre and available elsewhere on this site.

Click on the picture below to see all:

IABSM North of the Border

A quick trip to Edinburgh to visit daughter #1 at university gave me the chance to catch up with old friend Mr Hodge down at the South East Scotland Wargames Club.

Derek put on a game if IABSM set in France in May 1940, using his excellent 10mm figures.

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That's not me with Derek btw but my opponent!

I played the French: commanding seven H-39 tanks (good armour, but armed with a pop gun), two 25mm anti tank guns (good panzer killers!) and a platoon of infantry.

Facing me were five Panzer 38(t) tanks (excellent at this time of the war), two Panzer IVs, a platoon of motorcyclists, and some other infantry that never arrived or got off their Blinds.

20181025_194021.jpg

I deployed my tanks along the treeline and waited for Rommel's boys to attack. This they did, their motorcyclists appearing first: dumping their metal steeds as soon as I hit them with some HE, and then rushing forward towards a nearby field.

Meanwhile his P-38(t) tanks had appeared and advanced towards my line over open ground. My tanks engaged, and a firefight broke out: his five Panzers versus five of my tanks and, soon, my two anti tank guns.

His tanks were considerably better than mine, but stationary and out in the open. Mine were carefully concealed in the edge of the wood, and some lucky dice rolling meant that soon three of his were abandoned for the loss of two of mine.

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When one of his Panzer IVs also succumbed to anti tank gun fire, the Germans decided that they'd had enough and retreated. Victory to the French!

All in all it was a good, if quick, game. My tanks performed much better than I was expecting (one of them proved almost indestructible despite being hit many times) and the tactics chosen by the Germans suited my deployment perfectly.

My thanks to Derek and the rest of SESWC for their hospitality, and I'm already looking forward to the next time I'm up.

IABSM AAR: Push Towards Lowicz

As part of a counter-attack that had already thrown the Germans back some twenty kilometres, the Polish 16th and 26th Infantry Divisions crossed the Bzura river near Lowicz on the morning of 14th September 1939, and the Polish 4th Infantry Division reached the road linking Lowicz and Glowno.

At this point, however, the retreating Germans were reinforced by the 4th Panzer Division, which had been withdrawn from the fighting in the outskirts of Warsaw, and launched a counter-attack of their own against the advancing Poles. This battle would recreate the encounter battle that followed.

A cracking game of IABSM in which a bold coup de main won the day. Click on the pic below to see all:

Nice Comment on TMP

Not sure if anyone saw this, but here’s a nice comment on my last AAR (see below: The Narew Crossing) taken from The Miniatures Page’s forum:

I don't mean to tell anyone else how they should or should not play their wargames …

But this AAR is a great example of how I LIKE my wargames to go!

Hardly matters what the figure scale is, or what the ruleset is. Maybe it matters a little, but not a lot.

What matters are the interests and spirit of the gamers … the game master more, and the rest of the gamers a little less but still to an important extent.

From the AAR:

The game was a screening mission. Provided the bridge remained in Polish hands (i.e. no German troops were in base-to-base contact with the bridge) each time the Turn Card appeared, Polish engineers would roll a D6. Once the total rolled hit 25, any Polish Big Man could order the bridge blown.

Kudos for a thoughtful construction of a scenario, with scenario-specific rules related to victory conditions.

Long range exchange of fire continued on for a couple of turns, until … the Germans, realised that (they) had no hope of winning the game at this distance, and would need to get up close and fight … through to the bridge the hard way!

These kinds of comments, which appear several times in the AAR, show how the AAR writer's (also game master's) thinking runs. The scenario was constructed, with some success it seems, to create tactical problems that the gamers would have to solve. More kudos!

That left the last remaining Panzer (a Panzer III) free to drive forward onto the bridge itself, scattering the Polish engineers still setting their charges. Although we did have a quick debate as to whether the Panzer counted as "troops", I conceded that it probably did (Bevan: "well you tell me: you wrote the scenario!")…

When I read this, it cemented my opinion -- these are guys I'd enjoy gaming with! Lots of competitive spirit in the play of the game, but no rules-lawyering or victory-conditions-maneuvering to gain an advantage.

Again, not meaning to tell anyone else how they should play, but for me, I find little interest in a parking lot of tanks and a bucket of dice, or in haggling over whether a single strand of barbed wire is an obstacle to AT cannons ("where in the rules does it say that barbed wire is a linear obstacle to infantry movement, but not to heavy weapons fire?").

What I do find interesting … fascinating … obsessively engaging … is just about everything we see in this AAR.

Nicely done.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Nice to be appreciated!

IABSM AAR: The Narew Crossing

It was back to Poland for our latest game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum and an extraordinarily exciting encounter that went right down to the wire.

On September 7th 1939, reconnaissance units from one of the Panzer Divisions of General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst’s XXI Army Corps captured Wizna after Polish mounted reconnaissance squads abandoned the village after a short fight and retreated to the southern bank of the Narew. When German tanks tried to cross the bridge, it was blown up by Polish engineers. This game would recreate the German attempt to force the Narew Crossing.

Click on the pic below to see all:

Q13 AAR: Dwarves vs Xar

As my recent painting has been almost wholly focused on clearing all the sci-fi dwarves from my lead mountain, I thought it was only right and proper to get them onto the table again for my next game of Quadrant 13. It would also be a good opportunity to give the Xar (six-legged “critters” from GZG) their first outing.

Click on the pic below to see the report:

IABSM AAR: Grudziadz

Our last game of IABSM was set in the Tuchole Forest in Poland, right at the beginning of the war. Today’s battle would directly follow on from that encounter, and represent the stalwart Polish defense of Grudziadz. Both scenarios were taken from The September War, Part One, one of the TooFatLardies scenario packs that I have written for I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum!

Grudziadz was a strategically important town as it housed an officer academy, a cavalry school and the several army staffs directing Polish forces in the Polish Corridor region. It was, however, only lightly defended, with its garrison made up of infantry and border protection corps (KOP) along with supporting artillery. The German attack was launched from East Prussia by 21st Corps, mainly infantry and the reserve 10th Panzer regiment (mainly Panzer I and II).

Click on the pic below to see what happened.

AAR: Charlie Don't Surf! at Clotted Lard 2018

This Saturday just gone saw the inaugural Clotted Lard games day at the Devon Wargames Group. At what will hopefully be an annual event, large numbers of fellow Lardies gathered for a fun-packed day of gaming.

You can read the after action report of the games day itself by clicking here.

One of the games on show was a superb 10mm game of Charlie Don't Surf! put on by DaveJ. Click on the picture below to see a quick AAR from Carojon, accompanied by more photos of what looks like a most impressive game:

IABSM AAR: The Tuchole Forest

Played a great game of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! at the weekend: scenario #08 from the first September War scenario pack covering the invasion of Poland in 1939, The Tuchole Forest.

The battle, set in the Polish Corridor, was all about territory and objectives, and proved a very different kettle of fish from the usual head-on clash.

Click on the picture below to see who held onto what to win the game:

IABSM AAR: Anzio #13: Aprilia

Cracking game of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum fought this weekend just gone.

We used scenario #13 from the Anzio: Wildcat to Whale scenario pack featuring the action on 8th/9th February 1944 as the Germans advanced on Aprilia (the Factory).

Click on the picture below to see all:

IABSM AAR: One Of Our Planes Is Missing

Fellow Lardy Tony Cane has sent me another IABSM AAR, but this time with a bit of a difference: the game is set on the North West Frontier in the early 1920's.

According to Tony, the mission creep away from pure WW2 is all down to the purchase of Lardie specials. The scenario itself is from the Summer 07 edition, the piece on Mussolini's Baubles is in the Summer 06 edition, and those two combined with his collection of WWI German East Africa war figures and the fact he happened to have Pathans in the lead pile...

One of our Planes is Missing

The scenario, with minor changes to the orbat, follows that printed in the Summer 07 issue of the Lardie special, and uses the Mussolini’s Baubles adaption of IABSM in the Summer 06 edition.

"It's India's North West Frontier, the early 1920’s, and the CO has just asked me to lead a small force for a rush job requested by the RAF. They want a downed plane in the tribal area destroyed, hopefully before it is stripped of useful gear by the locals. This is a bit of a blow as I was looking forward to playing polo tomorrow afternoon!  

"A team of engineer types has been provided for the demolition, along with motor transport for the whole force, and even an armoured car has been rustled up. So perhaps if we start early it should be just a case of motoring in, destroying the plane and then back out again. With a bit of luck I may still make the polo match, and then on to the RAF club for free drinks perhaps."

Events were to prove that Lieutenant Harrowell-Clarke was a bit optimistic about how easy things would be.

The local tribe were clearly fired up by the chance to get to grips with the forces that had bombed their village. They basically opted to prevent the enemy from even getting through the pass. First into the breach was a suicidal attempt by a small team to blow up the road as it exited the pass.  The fates (cards) were not kind and two volleys from the section advancing on the road block wiped them out before the charges could be set. Still their sacrifice had caused a useful delay.

The Pathan snipers were however proving to be more effective. Repeatedly stalling attempts to remove the road block and actually causing a casualty on the MG team, and forcing it to retire. They were only overcome when chased off by the eventual advance of the Imperial forces.

Pinned down by sniper fire the lead section were not going to clear the road block any time soon.

The remainder of the force was now ordered to outflank the Pathans and, debussing from the transport, started toiling up the steep slopes.

Having organised the HQ section into firing positions on the right flank the commander returned to the troops stalled in the pass and finally got the attack moving and the road block removed.

A second Pathan band had joined those blocking the exit of the pass but caught in the open, the withering fire, of the now effectively deployed Imperial forces soon disposed of them as a fighting force.

With return fire slackening and time running out for the Imperial forces a hasty advance seemed worth the risk. First with the armoured car, then with the troops and transport of the HQ section. With this rapid progress the plane was reached in time (9 out of 12 turns allowed) and destroyed without any further interference from the Pathans.  The first platoon moved up the road to cover the village but were not needed.

In the end a glowing report on a mission accomplished could be written by Lieutenant Harrowell-Clarke  on the lines of, despite initial difficulties the aircraft was destroyed at the cost of only four casualties to the entire force. Though he probably did not get back in time for the polo match!

Tony Cane