Friday, 11 April 2014

Getting set for Salute 2014!

Tomorrow is the Salute 2014 show at Excel in London's Docklands, and I'll be making the trip with the rest of the TooFatLardies crew with our participation game based on the fighting around Le Port on 6th June 1944.

I can't claim any praise regarding the figures and terrain, but as you can see from the photos which follow, I know you'll agree that Rich has done a great job with both.

If you get the chance to drop by and say hello, or join the participation game, that would be great.  We'll be at stand GJ11, hopefully with a large and prominent TooFatLardies banner!

If you can't make the show, I'll hopefully get my photos of the event posted at some point over the weekend.
So whatever your wargaming plans are this weekend, hopefully you can enjoy a slice of Salute here on the Blog wherever you are!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Salute 2014: Passing Le Port

Just a quick note to offer some Blog eye-candy for the participation game that we’re staging at Salute 2014 at the weekend (Saturday, 12 April).

The game focuses on the link-up between 7 Para and Lord Lovat in the small village of Le Port on the 6th of June 1944 that Richard has been patiently researching for many months. The building of the table, figures and terrain has been progressing at a more frantic pace in true, traditional, slightly last-minute Salute fashion.

Not content with adding buildings, Richard has gone beyond the call of duty and added a French pissoir, vegetable patch, collection of newly-harvested potatoes and other sights and sounds of a small French town. I shall be disappointed if I turn up on Saturday morning and he doesn’t have a newly printed French newspaper for the town café. (Hmmm….now maybe there’s something I can contribute…!)

It should be a truly wonderful game to see and play. Richard is a wonderful craftsman and his games always look tremendous and are filled with terrific detail. But, if you want to have a behind the curtain view of the wizard in action, head on over to Lard Island News and click on the following links:

HERE (for the start of the series)


HERE (for the latest in the series).

And, of course, to get the full flavour of the game, head on over to the TooFatLardies game stand on Saturday (at table GJ11) where the game will await your participation!

Monday, 7 April 2014

"A Mere Question of Pluck": Elandslaagte, 21 October 1889

For the next of the recent set of playtests featuring battles of the Second Boer War, Rich chose the ballet of Elandslaagte on 21 October 1889. This action is known for well-coordinated British attacks and skilful deployment of the British infantry under Boer fire.

In another of our strange echoes of Boer War history, the table top game played out very much like the actual battle. British deployment in the game was patient, well-thought through and made full use of natural features, such as the dead ground on the British west flank. Boer deployment, by contrast, was more passive and was hampered by the loss at an early stage of one group of Boer vedettes and some difficult card draws.

Interestingly, our play-test results seem to be shifting slightly as regards the results. Our initial games a few years back, and earlier this year, favoured the Boer, with the British struggling to achieve any sense of order in their deployment, especially in the “beaten zone” of German Mauser fire. In the Elandslaagte game however, the British were more assured in their deployment and patient with the build-up. Does this mean that we, as a club, are getting more comfortable with the challenge of playing British forces? Or is Elandslaagte an easy game for the British, with their wealth of good mounted troops. As we approach re-fights of the “Black Week” and Spion Kop, we should have a better idea of how we’re collectively doing in re-creating British forces’ deployment and fighting methods.

As before, I have added the details of the AARs into the photos below. I find written AARs sometimes a little tricky to follow, so please continue to let me know if you prefer this format (and thank you to those who have given a response on that already).

A few other points…

First, I can strongly recommend the excellent book “From Boer War to Great War” by Dr Spencer Jones which covers the evolution of British tactics through the Boer War and on to the first battles of the First World War. Dr Jones’ book is taken from his PhD thesis, but remains a very clear, concise and well-written examination of the struggles and eventual success of the British army in the 1900 to 1914 period.  A really excellent read.

Second, I apologise for the blog posts here being rather erratic of late, and also my absence in the last couple of painting rounds for Curt’s splendid Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. My Mum has been in hospital for the past four weeks in Yorkshire and this has caused a lot of dislocation in normal family (and wargaming) life with travelling and visiting and what-not. Hope you can bear with me for a while if the posting is more erratic than normal.  And, above all,…get well soon, Mum!

Third, I should be at Salute 2014 in London this coming weekend. It’s certainly one of the highlights of my gaming year and I am greatly looking forward to seeing friends, old and new, and helping out running the TooFatLardies’ game, which will be Chain of Command. I’ll also be dropping by the Bloggers Meet-Up at 1pm, so hope to catch you all there if not before.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

“A Mere Question of Pluck”: Talana Hill, 1899

Over the past few weeks, the St Albans club has been returning to the Second Boer War. For various reasons (family illness, work), I’ve missed the first couple of games, but I returned last night for the British assault on Impati Hill, north of Dundee in Natal province.

The scale used was the same as in previous games (6mm figures, courtesy of Baccus 6mm, scratch assembled terrain and a ground scale of (approximately) 1 inch to 50 yards). The rules – “A Mere Question of Pluck” were Rich’s own, and are bound to change as play-testing goes forward.

The actual battle was a very close run encounter, and the wargamed recreation stayed true to form. The result, after two and a half tense hours of play, was a marginal British tactical victory, won mainly by the ability of the British infantry to press on regardless of early casualties.

In one of those historical echoes (for which our games of the Second Boer War seem to be full of), the command of Sir William Penn Symons went strangely absent for long periods of the game. This wasn’t the result of a mortal stomach wound inflicted on his command figure (as historically), but owing to the vagaries of the card deck refusing to bring out his command card. At times like this, improvisation is the British watchword, and the infantry advance ground forward remorselessly, but at a initially glacial pace.

Instead of listing the events on this page, I have added a commentary to the photos. Let me know if you prefer this to a written narrative.


Thoughts and impressions.

1.  The Boer Wars are a wonderful period to recreate, with numerous engagements, balanced but very differently configured opposing forces and variable commanders (particularly on the British side).  The sources are numerous and in English.  Some, perhaps many, of the tactical developments foreshadow, or influence, the tactics used in the opening months of the Great War.

2.  The Baccus 6mm figures are admirably suited to grand tactical battles.  They looked perfect on the tabletop.

3.  Integrating card-driven mechanics into the rules is proving interesting.  We are working on a number of variations involving tactical initiative cards - enabling these to be used in certain situations to provide impetus, or rallying, but at the risk that the initiative card may be lost or "burned".

4.  Playing the British forces (particularly infantry) is hard work.  They are somewhat unwieldy in the face of Boer Commando tactics and can be awkward to deploy.  Once deployed and moving, however, they are formidable.  Getting the British infantry to deploy and move forward aggressively is the main drain on the British command.

5.  Playing the Boers requires finesse and skill.  There are numerous tactical opportunities, but the forces are small and fragile if poorly deployed.  British artillery is a killer once finally deployed.

I'll finish by mentioning that we're hoping to run through other Boer War engagements over the next few weeks.  Hope you can join us for those!  

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