Sunday, 30 November 2014

KISS My Arras!

Initial thinking

Apart from going arf arf about the title I have doing some thinking. This is largely based on the account in Julian Thompson's Dunkirk book (Sidgwick & Jackson 2008) which seems to follow the official history very closely. So we have a very uncoordinated attack by a composite British force, supported by the French, against the flank of 7th Panzer Division and SS Totenkopf. This lasted a short time before being stopped by a German gun line.

Much has been made of this fairly primitive episode. It certainly wasn't the major counter-attack that some histories present it as. Nevertheless, it does show how both professional and dedicated the pre-war BEF was but also its limitations on a modern battlefield, especially its very poor communications.

From my point of view it has Matildas I and II. I have only just realised that the Matilda I was produced in very limited numbers (139) and this was its major outing. It also has the "what if" possibilities that make for a great game, just like the Bulge!

A foggy Matilda I
I want to use my 8 by 6 hex grid and some 1/300 tanks. This looks like a job for KISS Rommel with some hex grid type adjustments.

First go is the attached OB for the battle, leaning very heavily on Bob Mackenzie's Bathtub Command Decision scenario. Next may well be a happy 1/300 shopping experience.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

New stuff

Just in time for Xmas

As all gentlemen know, Xmas is a time of socks, ties and other unnecessary presents (monogrammed golf tees for example). A wise chap usually stocks up with a couple of essential presents for himself to enjoy in the odd quiet moment over the holidays. They don't have to be expensive.......

Ground Pounders

Some time ago Quick and Easy Games produced a free rules booklet for use with Dark Dream Studios Space Battles plastic figures. This was conveniently called Space Battles. They have now come up with a new version of the rules, Ground Pounders, which is based on their almost as cheap generic toy soldier rules called Battlefields.

I think this kind of stuff is great. I'm not a fan of £30 rule books. What I do need is good ideas that look like fun and you can't say fairer than this......

Two Buck Games

Two Buck have released a couple of new games Wake Island and AWI Battles 4. Wake Island looks interesting (1941 in the Pacific). 

The AWI game contains 9 mini scenarios, each with its own map:
  • Monmouth (initial)
  • Monmouth (final)
  • Harlem Heights
  • Fort Washington
  • Ticonderoga Defiant
  • Paulus Hook
  • Red Bank
  • Bound Brook
  • Fort Clinton
This follows on from three other collections which cover a total of 28 AWI mini battles plus a larger game on Brandywine.

I can't find a picture of this latest AWI pack but here is one of the earlier ones.....

Both of these are great value at $5 each (inflation strikes even at Two Buck Games) and they can be downloaded from Wargames Downloads. Possibly one, or even two, for Boxing Day!

Combat Leader

Minden Games have a great reputation for tactical games. They are the people that brought us Retro, Squad Leader made simple (for thickies like me). Their latest game is Combat Leader (Eastern Front 1941) which looks like a nice infantry only tactical (man to man) game. This picture gives a flavour of the components.

This might be Retro the "game", as opposed to just the rules, as it has a real Squad Leader feel. I'll keep this on the radar. It is hard copy only and comes in at US $32.90 for the basic game and first expansion (urban warfare). Not very cheap but not perhaps the sort of investment required by Combat Commander or similar. See update below!


This is my real Xmas present this year. I collected it from the Post Office this morning. A simple block game of Barbarossa and 1942. It has great reviews and, although a bit on the pricey side, seems to have enormous replay value. 

The rules look really straightforward and the big plus is that they plan to do more WW2 campaigns. The next one is the Bulge. Top!

This is getting a bit scarce, I could find only one shop with it in stock (Leisure Games, London), so if you are after this, get in quick.

I haven't posted much recently because, having reached an interim stage with Plan B, I've found yet another really interesting project. This one is KISS My Arras! Not an original title (someone else thought of it before me) but this is my effort at using KISS Rommel to play the battle of Arras 1940. Essentially, a tactical version of KISS at roughly company/platoon level. More on this in due course.

Update: I see that Norm Smith has just reviewed the Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit 10th anniversary edition. This looks good and is only US$25 so it might be a good alternative to Combat Leader, if not precisely the same scale.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Scotland Rising!

New stuff for Xmas

I got Scotland Rising through the Kickstarter exercise over the summer. This is a really good game about the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The game is an interesting twist on the Hold the Line system, one I enjoy very much.

As has been pointed out by various reviewers, although a good game it is pretty expensive for what it is. I had hoped that it would come with two stretch goals, additional games covering Stirling Bridge 1297 and Falkirk 1298. The bad news was that the Kickstarter didn't get that far. The good news is that both extras are being made available as print n play games from the Worthington Games website.

Both maps are available as PDFs. These are smaller than the Bannockburn map and come in at 11" by 17" and are easily produced at the local print shoppe. 

The Stirling Bridge rules and set-up map (see below) have now been made available. There is a promise of the additional material for Falkirk before Xmas.

Both games can be played with the counters from the Bannockburn game (a pity we don't get a Wallace counter!). These should provide a nice, and very cheap, diversion over the holidays.

Talking of diversions, it should shortly be time for the Consim World annual funding drive so we can expect a few more freebies to come from that.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Plan B: Wargame Rules for Russia 1941

Now operational....Phew!

It has been a really busy few weeks at work but the real reason for the lack of posts has been that I have spent all my available time working on Plan B. The first draft is now ready....hurrah!

I am very pleased that I have persevered with this project. It has not been straightforward and I am happy that I have got to a completed first draft. 

As you may have gathered, this is my attempt to use Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames (1HW) for a 1941 Russian Front campaign. I have included design notes in the rules to show how and why I have deviated from the published rules.  My key criterion is that I want to shoot and kill things (sorry, that's a bit technical). Not a feeling that I get from 1HW. I have put a lot of thought into the rules and, while I have done the sums and pushed some counters around, I have yet to experience how these rules play as a game and a campaign.

At this point I'm open to any comments or criticisms. If anyone else wants to have a play and feedback, that's great. My next step with this project is to order some 15mm metal soldiers (I have both birthday and Xmas coming up!) and get ready to play at some point over the festive holidays.

I have to say that Neil Thomas has my greatest respect for the way that he is able to present his rules with such precision. I hope I have done them justice.

I now feel the need to boil my head and think about Napoleonics for a change!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

1914 Opening Moves

A nice request...

I was surprised this morning to be contacted by Mark Johnson of the Wargames to Go podcast. He is planning a review of 1914 Opening Moves by Minden Games for Wargames to Go Episode 4. I've been listening to this podcast because it specifically addresses small games. In Episode 3, Mark interviewed Charles Vasey and Roberto Chiavini and looked at a range of ECW games, including the excellent Unhappy King Charles.

1914 is a very small solitaire game featuring a handful of army level units that describes the initial German offensive into Belgium and France. It is a great game to play with a beer in one hand and a good book on the campaign in the other. In pre-blog days I posted the odd picture and thought on BGG. Because the map and counters provided by Minden are somewhat basic, I made an expanded version of the map (to A3) and coloured it in with pencils. Nothing like using technology! I also made some new counters in Excel which I thought were rather nice, including a picture of a Skoda gun. This is what I posted....

Mark was after the files for the map and counters, unfortunately I could only provide the counters which you can now find here. It will be interesting to see what Mark makes of the game so I'll be watching for the next episode.