Friday Grab Bag: Late Edition

October 20, 2018

I’ve found a bit of interesting stuff, both on line and at Amazon.  The first are a group of gamers who have started there own YouTube channel called Little Wars TV.  They are putting out a series of interesting videos in the form of historical battle reports, how to’s, game reviews and battlefield tours.  I believe they are based in Pennsylvania.  Club members have designed a couple of rules sets, namely Age of Hannibal and Altar of Freedom.  Both are fine sets of rules and I hope to give them a proper review in due time.

I’ve had some 3D printing issues (Yeah,  I know.  1st world problems!) lately in he form of a clogged nozzle which resulted in it’s destruction while tying to clear it.  I took the plunge on a finer nozzle (.3mm instead of .4mm).  You’d think it would give better results and quite well it might with the right settings.  I could not get it to work right.  So after plunking down $83 for the fine nozzle, I plunked down another $83 for the standard .4mm nozzle.  Boo.

Amazon is always a treasure trove of old school books.  Sometimes they are expensive like the some of the Airfix Guides and sometimes they are quite reasonable like Paul Hague’s Naval wargame guides.  While looking for the expanded version of “Battle” I found Mr. Hague’s second book for about $12.  For the fans of his first book, this edition builds upon the information of the first book.  You get wargames rules more geared toward large battles.  Fast play to be sure but with lots of ships on the board, you really do want that.  He writes in his same, interesting and clear style.  A must for naval wargaming enthusiasts.

I am happy to see Ancients D6 still being enjoyed by some gamers here and there.  Brett Simpson has sent me some pictures of his EIR and Briton armies including a few shots of a game in progress.


EIR Command

Legion infantry

Auxilia foot

Eastern archers

Auxilia equites

A general of Rome

Some local skirmishers

Arrayed for battle

Equites bracing for attack against some Briton light troops

A view from the Roman line

Most fo the figures are by Essex in 15mm size,

Until next time!


My Own Version of Battle Part 2

October 17, 2018

In part 1, I laid out the basics of tank combat.  Part 2 will deal with infantry combat.

Infantry should be a bit easier to define.  There is no armor to worry about.  There is, however, terrain, and machine guns, and bazookas, and flame throwers and….well it may be more difficult than what meets the eye.

Before we start, we should probably define what ranges are.  Like Mr. Grant, I think a 10″ scale works well.  unlike him, I want to define 1″ as about 50 yards as he had 3″ as 100 yards or 33 yards per inch.  With respect to tank combat, 2″ is point blank.  10″ is short range. 20″ is medium range.  30″ is long range.  Finally, 40″ is extreme range.  For infantry combat, you can safely say that 10″ is long  range.  Perhaps 5″ short range and 2″ is close assault range.

The original Battle had hit numbers defined by range and cover type.  It works fine but I prefer the hit and save method of Don Featherstone and Tony Bath.  Close assault hits on a 4+.  Short range hits on a 5+.  Long range hits on a 6.  Normally, there will be a save for each hit.  A normal save is a 5+ in the open.  A figure is assumed to be taking advantage cover in the open if it moves a normal move or less, say 3″.  The figure will gain +1 on the save.  Figures that “double time” (6″ move) in the open only save on a 5+.  A figure in light cover (woods, wooden buildings etc) save on a 4+.  3+ if the figure is in heavy cover (entrenched, stone building, bunker etc).   The slow move bonus does not apply here.

Machine guns come in two varieties, light and heavy.  Light machine guns  are those heavy automatic weapons typically mounted on bi-pods.  Instead of throwing 1 die, the light machine gun gets 3 dice.  Heavy machine guns get 5 dice and can hit out to 20″ but any attack over 10″ is only with 2 dice.  Flame throwers shoot out to 3″ and hit anything within a cone that terminates 1″ wide.  Saving throws do apply.  Targets in cover against flame attacks only get a save of 5+, and targets in the open do not get a cover bonus for moving slowly.   Personal AT weapons have a relatively short range.  PIATs and Panzerfausts have a range of just 3″ and hit on a 4+.  Bazookas and Anti-tank Rifles have a 5″ range and also hit on a 4+.  Strike values will vary of course.  Anti-tank rifles stike values will be relatively low, perhaps 2 or 3 while the shape charge weapons strike value will be 7 or more depending on the weapon.  I’ll have to do research on that.


My Own Version of Battle Part 1

October 16, 2018

I’ve been reading through “Battle” by Charles Grant.  It is his version of a simple WW2 wargame.  Lets face it.  All of Mr Grant’s wargame rules were simple.  That is not a bad thing.  His methodology is sound.  Each vehicle has a defense value.  You roll 2 dice to hit, with each target number being progressively higher the farther the target is away from the shooter.  If a hit is scored, you roll 2 dice again and add the guns strike value.  If the total is greater than the target’s defense value, the target is destroyed.  Simple.  Now, part of the issue I take with this method is that side armor of many vehicles are significantly less than the frontal armor.  Some of the defense values are suspect as well.

Here is a great example.  A Panther tank has significant frontal armor and weak side armor.  The frontal armor is sloped as well.  Most games today do not adequately take into account the effect of sloped armor.  The front hull armor is just 80mm but is sloped at 55 degrees.  There is a formula to figure out the effective armor across the slope.

Tn is the normal thickness.

S is the armor slope in degrees.


Where Te is the effective armor.  When worked out, the Panther’s effective armor is 140mm on the hull.  The turret has a flat 100mm of armor with 80mm on the sides.  The hull sides are only 50mm.  So what do we do with all of this?  Well, to start, we have a base number of 7 as or target number.  The reason for 7?  It is the average dice roll of 2 dice.  To that we add the effective armor in centimeters.  Now, we have to consider that the turret has a different armor value than the hull.  We can accept this and use a hit location die roll.  1-2 the turret is hit.  3-6 the hull is hit.  Or we can average the two numbers.  1/3 of the value is based on the turret and the other 2/3 is based on the hull.   So a frontal attack on a Panther would have to defeat ((14X2)+10)/3+7=20 defense.  The side armor is ((5X2)+8)/3+7=13.  The strike value of a Panther is the gun penetration in cm.  At 100 yards it is roughly 14.  At 500 yards it is 12.  At 1000 yards it is 11.  At 1500 yards it is 10 and at 2000 yards it is 9.

Other quick comparisons.  The Tiger 1 has a front defense of 18 and a side defense of 15.  Sherman has a front defense of 16 and a side defense of 12.  The strike value of the Sherman’s 75mm gun would be 8/7/6/5/4.  At 1000 yards, it could destroy a Panther side on but from the front, there would be no chance to destroy the tank at any range.   The later guns including the American 76.2mm and the British 17 pounder were more than adequate, at least at close range and even farther away in the case of the latter.

Chances to hit can be graded at 5 or better at 100 yards, 6 or better at 500 yards, 7 or better at 1000 yards, 8 or better at 1500 yards and 9 or better at 2000 yards.   If the tank moves at up to half speed there should be a dice penalty of -2.  If it moves full the penalty should be doubled as it is very difficult to fire on the move like that.


DF-LIKE Horse and Musket Update

October 4, 2018

After a mere 2 years, DF-LIKE Horse and Musket has been updated.  There was a minor error in the QRS (last page) that reflected the old melee resolution system.  It is now changed to reflect the rules.

With that said, I am going to run it through the paces with a mini campaign using the One Hour Wargames scenarios.  I’ll be randomly determining the scenario and deploy one side as the English and the other as the French.  The winner of the scenario becomes (or remains!) the attacker in the next scenario.  I’ll play 6 of them and see where the narrative takes me.

More stuff from the Grab Bag

July 13, 2018

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Real Life (TM) seems to take up much of my time lately.  I finally have enough steam to write and plenty on my mind so here it goes.

I’ve finally gotten around to reading Panzer Army Africa by James Lucas.  I have read as far as Operation Crusader and getting ready to start the section on Gazala but have formed some opinions.  I think Mr. Lucas does well when he lays out the details.  His writing style, while a bit dry at times, is to the point and easy enough to read.  I am enjoying the book so far.  I do have some quibbles.  The author tends to spin some of the facts to show the British in a bad light with regard to  equipment (especially tanks) and leadership.  For instance, the chapter on Crusader is called Rommel Deflects Crusader.  Honestly, Rommel did not “deflect” anything.  He was beaten and driven back to his early 1941 start line.  The author states that the 2-lbr anti-tank gun was “useless” which is also not true.  It was quite capable of knocking out German tanks in the desert at 500 yards.  These guns were quite useful though they did have their flaws – the lack of a high explosive shell and the relatively short range for instance.    If you can ignore the author’s opinions, the book does a nice job of telling the story of the North African campaign from the German perspective.

I’ve been eyeing up a game called “Table Battles” by Hollandspiele for sometime now.  I finally took a chance and bought the Wargame Vault PDF version.  I’ve not played yet but am very much looking forward to some games with my son.  It is a static and abstract game that allows you to play out any battle in history on a small table.  There are cards that represent the various formations or wings in a battle line.  You use dice to “power” the various attack abilities on the cards.  One card might need 4’s while another card might need doubles or even a small straight.  One review joked that it had elements of Yatzee.  Why, yes.  Yes it does.  The PDF does require that you assemble the cards and you do need to provide some match sticks and cubes as well as 12 dice, 6 per side.  The match sticks are to be painted in red or blue (one color per army) and you will need about 40 per side.  The cube can be painted a neutral color or just left natural wood.  I have the cards printed but not cut out yet.  I also have the cubes and blue army painted.  My red craft paint dried out so I will be making a trip to the craft store for another bottle.  I probably won’t get a battle in before I leave on vacation.

I have started collecting some old/new folio games from Decision Games (Think SPI).  I’ve picked up Marengo, Carentan and Zama so far.  They are three distinct game systems that deal with the era they portray.  DG has settled on a differential for their combat resolution and have added some twists to the old systems to help differentiate the various units without overcomplicating things.  For instance, in Carentan, Armor may move through a zone of control by spending half its move allowance plus the cost to enter the hex.  Infantry can do something similar but it spends its entire move allowance to get to the next hex in a ZOC. Artillery and aircraft are treated as off board assets to be used per turn to influence combats.   Leaders in Marengo, as another example,  can add to the moral move and or combat of a unit but doing so puts them at risk of being hit.

I’ve been on a bit of a Robin Hood kick lately.  I watched BBC’s Robin Hood (2006) from start to finish.  It was generally good with a sort of Robin Hood meets Hercules/Xena vibe.  If nothing, it was pretty entertaining.  I am on to the 1980s BBC version called Robin of Sherwood.  The costumes are much better in this version.  It does play the legend out better than the newer version.  It is, however, a product of the times.  Robin looks a bit more like a rock star than a bandit.  Curiously, there is also a good bit of mysticism injected into the story.  Hurn the Hunter appears frequently and there was a sorcerer.  Still more medieval goodness with a bit of fantasy thrown in.  I am getting ready to watch season 2 soon.

Pikes, DBA, Campaigns…Does this count as a Grab Bag?

May 4, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve said anything about DBA.  I own the v3 rules and like them quite well.  The one thing that bugs me is how Pikes are handled.  Pikes, by the reckoning of several primary sources is a direct offshoot of hoplites.  really, the only difference between the two is in the equipment.  Pikemen (aka phalangites in wargaming parlance) operate in a rigid formation (phalanx) with long spears that could be measured up to 24 feet long.  The phalangite had a round pelta instead of a metal aspis (hoplon) shield.  They both wore similar armor though during the time of reform, phalangites were said to have been wearing quilted armor.  That did not last long though since people back then, as they do today, like to enjoy as much protection as they can practically have.

With that in mind, in DBA the Pike element has a +3/+4 combat factor and enjoys +3 rear support.  I am not sure why the +3 against infantry as they were quite effective against all comers save maybe Gallic style warbands who could swarm the flanks.  Perhaps they should have a +4 all around just like spear/hoplite elements.  But then what do we do about support?  You could give them side support as with the spear. That would raise them to a +5 combat factor which pretty much gives them the same strength as spear.  You could also include a rear support which gives the a total combat factor, with side support, of +6.  Another idea would be to simply give them +2 for rear support only.  In either case, I would still make them pursue infantry after combat as per the rules.  Pike phalanx routinely became disjoint after prolonged combat and often this would lead to their downfall on the battlefield.

I was looking for a map of the ancient world online and found this one here for Web Diplomacy with an ancient theme.   I was thinking that this could be a good way to resolve ancient battles, especially for quick play games like DBA, Mighty Armies, Ancients D6 etc.  Each city you control would allow for 1 army in the field.  All battles are standard games.  If you are fighting more than one army at a time, you fight each one in turn but cannot replace your losses between battles if you have only 1 army.  If you outnumber your opponent, then you simply fight each battle with each separate army if needed.  Like in the DBA campaign, cities would not automatically fall.  Rather you roll each turn to see if they capitulate.  Roll a 1 after the first season and the city surrenders.  2 or less after the second, 3 after the third etc up to the sixth season which afterward they automatically surrender.  Breaking the siege automatically resets they siege level and you start over.

$20 Desert mat anyone?

April 26, 2018

I’ve been looking for craft felt by the yard for a while now.  Amazon, for a while, did not seem to have what I was looking for.  I came across this the other day.  Rainbow Craft Felt in sandstone.  

3 yards at 6 feet wide will run you $20.40 US plus shipping of just $1.99.  A pretty good deal when you consider how much even Monday Knight game mats cost. You can also get it in olive which makes for a nice grass mat.  You can, of course, doll it up with some flock and paint if you are so inclined.  Me?  I can’t be bothered.