Friday, October 23, 2009

Sink the Hartford!

Last night we played an American Civil War naval game, using some home rules I made and 1:600 scale ships from Thoroughbred Miniatures and Peter Pig.

USN: USS Hartford, USS Sassacus, USS Maumee, USS Kansas
CSN: CSS Tennessee, CSS Selma, CSS Little Rebel, CSS Hampton, CSS Nansemond, CSS Wasp

The scenario was set around a sand bar just outside of a Confederate harbor. The Union screw sloop USS Hartford was giving chase to a Southern blockade runner. In an effort to sink her before reaching the safety of the harbor defenses, the Captain of the Hartford decides to take a risk and follow his prey through the shallow water. With her bow gun firing, the Hartford moves full steam ahead!

As her keel scrapes along the sandbar, she becomes grounded and the blockade runner narrowly escapes. The Southerners watching from shore can hardly believe their eyes as the large monster comes to a screeching halt. Seeing an opportunity, the Confederate commander orders all sailors to their ships, and the docks become alive with action.

Union ships that are blockading the harbor are at first enjoying the entertainment. However, when seeing the Hartford run aground, they get under steam and rush to her aid. The Rebels also close quickly on the Hartford, making sure to stay on her bow so as to avoid her powerful broadside guns.

As the Confederate ships close the distance, they open fire, and shots tear into the Hartford's Hull. The majority of the shore batteries consist of Heavy Smoothbores, and the Yankee is well out of their range. But, the Rebels do have three Heavy Rifles capable of hitting her, and it is a lucky hit from one of these guns that lands squarely on the upper deck, killing the Captain.

A shot from the CSS Selma lands another lucky hit on the Hartford's bow gun. Unable to fire her broadsides, she is now completely helpless. And to make things worse, she catches fire as well. Union Tars rush about fighting the fire and helping the wounded. The Hartford's Lieutenant takes command of a panicked crew. Finally, the other Union ships reach her and open fire on the Rebels.

After the Union ships sink the Nansemond, the Selma gets some retribution and scores a lucky hit. A shot from her bow gun crashes into the Kansas, hitting her magazine. A powerful explosion breaks the hull, and she begins sinking.

As shots continue to riddle the Hartford, the crew can take no more. The Captain strikes the colors and the Confederates cheer their success, but the battle is far from over. The Captains on the Sassacus and the Maumee do not intend to let Hartford fall into enemy hands. Shots landing on the Selma cause her to catch fire and she retreats from the fight. Then, the CSS Hampton crosses the sandbar and attempts to ram the Sassacus, but fails and glances off the hull.

A David torpedo boat, the CSS Wasp, uses a small island for cover and then pounces on the Sassacus. Fortunately for the Yankees, the torpedo is a dud and doesn't go off. However, already badly damaged, the Captain of the Sassacus realizes he must retreat. All hope now lies with the Maumee.

The men on the Hartford cheer on the Maumee as she cruises by and engages the Rebels at close range. A broadside from the Tennessee crashes into the Yankee ship causing more hull damage.

As the final dual takes place, the Little Rebel closes on the enemy at full speed. She crashes into the Yankee with her ram prow and sends the Maumee to the bottom.

After ordering a cease fire, the Confederate commander sets to the task of rescuing the Union sailors and caring for his own wounded. As the tide comes in, the captured Hartford is sailed back to harbor and is a great prize for the CSN. For the Union, it is a humiliating defeat, and the USN has lost one of it's best ships.

Painting Day

Finished off my Jacobite Cavalary units for the '45. Miniatures are Old Glory 15's.

Lord Elcho and Colonel Baggot in the lead, followed by Fitz James' Horse, Lord Elcho's Lifeguards, Balmerino's Lifeguards, Perthshire Horse, Kilmarnock's Horse, and Baggot's Hussars.

Little Fritz doing his part (ever wonder where all the smoke/clouds come from- Dog Toy stuffing):

Time to start painting some ships for ACW naval. On the left are four mortar schooners, in the front is the USS Paul Jones, and in the back a Union Timberclad.

Little Fritz watching me paint!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Winter War action 2 October 2009

This Friday night pitted the Soviet juggernaut versus the vastly underestimated Finns. While the majority of the Winter War consisted of the soviets launching their overwhelming numbers against the thinly spread Finnish defenders, this night was meant to be the complete opposite. The Finns had the uncanny ability of bottling up overzealous advancing Soviet divisions and then slowly chopping them up and eliminating them. In this scenario, we have the Finns conducting one of their "motti" attacks with the objective of crushing the defenders. While the Soviets were outnumbered, the Russian soldier had a knack of being a very fierce defender; and tonight was no different. Although the Soviets allowed the Finns to achieve a slight victory, they did inflict heavy casualties on their attackers, who can certainly not afford the losses they received.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wings of War: Scenario 2a- Enemy Troop Movement

After defeating the Allies in a dogfight over the trenches, the Germans were able to advance to the next scenario on the campaign map. There was a choice of either playing another dogfight scenario or doing a recon mission, and a die roll decided that we would be playing the latter. No-Man's Land and the Trenches were moved closer to the German side, so that we would have to fly further into enemy territory to complete the mission. While the published scenario seemed to be a little confusing as to the placement of the recon objectives, we decided to place three objectives on the Allied side, and only two on the German side. We put them at varying distances from the trenches, so that the Germans would have to fly further to observe their targets. Again, we placed Machine Gun postions and Balloons on the board.

The Allies had to set up first, and they did so by spreading their planes out across the trenches. Then we set up. We placed all of our planes on our right flank. The Rolands were to fly up the side, hugging the edge of the table, and then circle around the recon objectives. The Albatross would initially protect them, and possibly turn on the RE8s after they passed into German territory. Naturally, we assumed that the Nieuports (because of the better climb rate) would come after our Rolands, as we had started all of our planes one altitude level higher than the Allied planes.

As the Nieuports came rushing on, I broke off from the formation and pitched into them, while our remaining two Albatross continued to escort the Rolands.

An RE8 heading toward the German lines.

Our lead Roland takes a hit and catches fire!

Nieuports attacking the rear of our formation.

The Rolands pass the first objective point. Two-Seater planes were able to spot at long range, so long as the observer was still alive. Fighters had to get within close range and then peform a stall maneuver to successfully observe a target.

Albatross being chased by a Nieuport.

Away from the formation, I decide it's time to go on the hunt. With faster speed, I close in on the RE8 closest to me.

Fixated on the enemy to my front, it's too late when another RE8 appears on my Three O'Clock.

On the Allied side of the field, our Rolands continue to spot the ground targets, as a Nieuport flies in the middle of our formation taking shots. The Canadian pilot appears cross-eyed from keeping track of all the Germans around him.

It turned out that the RE8 on my Three O'Clock got in a lucky hit, doing some serious structure damage to my Albatross. I had to execute a power dive to escape being hit again. Time to land before I get shot out of the sky.

With only two of our planes remaining, the Allies don't let up!

One of our German pilots may have started celebrating too soon.

In the end, it turned out to be an Allied victory. Even though we had gathered more observation points initially, only one of our planes made it back. The Nieuports really raked us this game. By losing scenario 2a, we had to return to scenario 1, where we would again have to dog fight to see who goes on the attack.

Little Fritz relaxes with the Frauleins and a glass of wine after the battle.

Overall, we really enjoyed 'Knights of the Air' thus far, and are anxious to continue playing with the rest of the club. Most of the rules that are apart of the system work great, and although we haven't gotten to the special ace abilities yet, they sound like they will add a lot of flavor to the game. The only problem we found, lay with the scenarios, which seem a little unclear as to the objectives. I will either have to contact the author, or we will make our own adjustments as we see fit. Really though, a great system, and many thanks to Keith Upton for creating it.

Baron Von Gerstner lives to fight another day. Prosit!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wings of War: Scenario 1- Battle over the Trenches

A couple of us got together the other night to start a Wings of War campaign. One of the guys found the system online at the Fantasy Flight Games Forum. The campaign is entitled 'Knights of the Air' by Keith Upton. We decided to make this game a little more 'personal', so we divided into teams based on the origin of our surnames. Living in Southern Pennsylvania, we have plenty of Germans in the club, a smattering of Anglo-Americans, and even our lone Italian was present. So, with the lines drawn, I jumped in my Albatross and climbed into the sky for battle.

A view of the battlefield. The scenario rules allowed for the random placement of balloons and ground targets: machine guns and Anti-Aircraft guns. A point system would determine the victor for this simple dogfight scenario, with the winner advancing to the next scenario on the campaign map. The first couple of scenarios were to take place in 1916, so we used the following planes: Albatross, Rolands, Nieuports, and RE8s.
The Players: Gerstner, Rothermel, Mueller, & Eisenhauer VS Bishop, Campbell, & D'Amato

I made a couple of control boards for the game, because we hadn't received enough in the boxed sets for all of the planes that we have. Plus, we need 24+ boards for our convention games. I took a quick trip to Michael's where I was able to find some cheap wooden plaques, spray painted red for the Germans and Olive Drab for the Allies, and drew on the appropriate card outlines representing the maneuver phases.

Flying across No-Man's Land

That's me, Baron Von Gerstner, flying the black Albatross. I make a mistake and fly dangerously close to the edge, which would take me out of play. The RE8 following me damages my rudder so I can't turn. There was nothing I could do but plot an Immelman and pray. It worked, but as I leveled out, the RE8 on my tail knocked me out of the sky. Luckily, I crash landed in No-Man's Land, and made a successful roll to evade the enemy and make it back to German lines with only a few scratches.

That damn Italian chasing down one of our Rolands.

With the Allied balloon burning on it's way down to the ground, the battle turns to a fight around the German balloon.
Smoke from the burning wrecks fill the air. Although it looked like an Allied victory because of all the downed German planes, the points told a different story. The Germans were able to squeak out a win. Flushed with victory, we returned home to drink beer and tell tales of the battle.
Scenario 2 to follow, plus our review of the campaign system.