Saturday 31 December 2016

Happy 2017!

A short final post at 90 minutes for 2016 to expire, to wish you all a happy New Year, may 2017 bring you above all health, love, and peace... and of course wealth too.

I hope to continue sharing with you my hobby life this year, although unfortunately I'm starting 2017 with the wrong foot, as we have some potential health issues in my family that I strongly wish will end up in being just a false alarm. We'll know for sure in 3 weeks time. Therefore, no plans for 2017 at least for now.

In the meantime, bear with me and a likely irregular posting over the next weeks.
Best to all.  

Saturday 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas to the Blogosphere

A short message to wish you a many Merry Christmas, peace, health and money (of course to be  spent in games, lead and plastic).

Looking back the year, gaming wise it's been a strange one with lack of focus on periods/rules and volatile activity due to the flooding of our club premises just before the summer, that put us out of business for many months (until November).

Notably also in my gaming group, we have had some dispersion of projects. After 2 years of intense Chain of Command games, we were eagerly expecting the release of the Sharp Practice II, the skirmish rules for the Black Powder era. After a strong start playing mostly focused on the Napoleonic era, we realised that skirmishing was not totally to our taste and looked for ways to scale it up.

The truth is that after several failed attempts, we decided to abandon the project and instead explore other rule options with the scale we were looking for. A strong candidate emerged with Age of Eagles II, ony to be put on hold after the release of Pickett's Charge in November.

Although the latter is focused on the ACW period, the author already announced a sister book covering the Napoleonic period. A few test games unveiled a very solid and interesting set of rules and we are now waiting for the new book.

Almost concluding the year, my attention is being called by Rattenkrieg!, a new set of skirmish rules for the IIWW period published by Barrage Miniatures. I played a first game last week and was very positively impressed by the original game mechanism, based on an action/reaction engine. I promise to write a detailed comment sometime next week.

But not all was negative. Less time wargaming meant more time allocated to painting and I'm myself surprised by the large output achieved of French Napoleonics in 28mm, becoming the French reference player within my gaming group. And more reinforcements are coming as a result of my participation in The Painting Challenge for the second year in a row.

Summarising, a peculiar gaming year 2016 and looking into 2017 to be a Napoleonic year.
Enjoy the holidays!   


Sunday 11 December 2016

Old Hickory Campaign Game 3

The third game of the Hickory Campaign concluded with a decisive German victory, causing a bloody havoc on the US units that had to pull out into Le Neufbourg, the objective of the offensive. Frankly, the position of the US players is in serious risk as the game today eliminated some critical scarce assets like ATGs and men.

The game was played in the Orange 2 map of the campaign booklet and corresponded to a Scenario 6 "Attack-Defend" in terms of the Chain of Command terminology. The German was of course the attacker and the victory conditions called for them either to wipe the resisitance in the table or force a withdrawing due to Force Moral erosion.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Old Hickory Campaign Game 2

The second game of the Old Hickory campaign finished with a German victory. A very funny game in which for the first time in life I saw a F1 race between three German Hanomags, competing to reach first the US table tactical edge.

Following the initial setback  of the campaign when the Allied airforce dispersed the concentration of German units at its jumpoff area, the German HQ activated the second company (2 platoons) and ordered an attack through the same Orange route of the first attempt.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Old Hickory Campaign Game 1

German HQ (H-1 hour)

News that the heads of the assault columns are now in the jump-off positions and ready to take on the arguably unprepared US troops near the railroad line (area code name Orange 1) are received with satisfaction at the Das Reich regiment HQ. 

Suddenly the deafening noise of aircraft engines flying at low level fill the air and the dreaded black and white stripes of the Allied air force the German officers eyes ... luckily the planes pass away leaving the HQ unmolested, but almost immediately machine gun and bomb explosions are heard towards the jumpoff area followed by black smoke columns .

A devastating air attack has dispersed the German forces, with the units running in panic pursued by the Allied Typhoons and the Mustangs. After what looks like an eternity, the planes finally leave and it's time now to take stock of the damages and regroup the surviving forces. The attack is cancelled and will be postponed at least for the following day.


And this is how the first turn of the Hickory campaign ended... played without placing a single model on a wargame table and actually resolved by Whatsapp! Let me explain what just happened.

As commented in the previous post, there are three attacking routes and the Germans must select one; the Allied had an air interdiction asset that had to be allocated to one of the routes before the Germans announce their attack. If they select the same route, the Germans suffer a devastating air attack and their units are dispersed and unable to take the offensive, losing the game.

Incredibly, both decided to choose the Orange route, which they communicated to me this same afternoon. Must reckon that I had a big laugh and the poor German players were in total shock for this unexpected (and unknown to them) option in the Allied hands.

All this was settled communicating with the two groups of players through Whatsapp!

This is one of the advantages of playing campaigns and using independent umpires: incresed for of war and uncertainty; and of course more fun (specially the umpire). More surprises in store for both sides... and only I know.. Wa-ha-ha-ha!! 

New Chain of Command Campaign rolling!

Seeing my club gaming buddies somewhat inactive, I decided to stir things a little and have put in motion a new campaign for Chain of Command. We'll play the supplement Old Hickory confronting US and German units in Normandy. This campaign is specially challenging for the former, as they face a brutal counterattack of the Das Reich division (operation Luttich) in late July 1944 in the Mortain area.

Historically the counterattack failed thanks to the stiff resistance put by the US 30th Infantry Division "Old Hickory", a relatively untested unit arising from the National Guard, despite facing a veteran German formation.

This campaign supplement presents a conundrum to the US player, as the Germans can chose attacking through three different axes and the Americans must distribute their limited assets before the actual campaign starts to cover all possible routes of advance.

The response of my gaming group to the campaign proposal has been phenomenal and now I have six players enrolled. Therefore I will have to accommodate more forces than those stipulated in the book and will be using the Big CoC large battles supplement to play the campaign.

The campaign will start tomorrow December 8th (national holiday in many European countries). You may like to follow live in Twitter the progress of the game (@AnibalInvic) but I'll also be debriefing here shortly after each game.

Monday 21 November 2016

It's Official - Painting Challenge Announced

Last night it was made official: Curt's worlwide reknown Painting Challenge is ready to be launched on the night of December 20th. This is the seventh year in a row and from looking from the sidelines many years, I decided to take the challenge in 2015... and will no doubt repeat this year.

I'm looking to reach a modest target (500 points) but considering that most of my paiting time is concentrated in the Christmas break and how slow painter I am, is more than a challenge to me. Time next weekend to plan my project, but likely a mix of Napoleonic and II WW themes.

Good luck to all participants (this year is looking to be massive...) and will be updating my progress here as it goes.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Back to Chain of Command: Red Counterattack

Following many months of playing Napoleonics, today I returned to my cherished IIWW Chain of Command. I was offered to play the second scenario of a small mini campaign set at Kursk. This was a Red Army counterattack to the advanced elements of the Gross Deutschland division.

Our forces comprised a SMG platoon (reinforced with an additional SMG squad and a lend-lease Churchill) and 2 platoons of T-34. The victory conditions for the Soviets were to exit the northern edge of the table (see the map) with at least two AFV. The stream was hard going for the tanks, subject to a double bogged-down roll if attempting to cross; thus the only safe place to ford the stream was through the bridge.  

This game was played with the "Big CoC" system that allows multiplayer games with Chain of Command.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

"No Pasarán!" 80 years later

80 years ago today, the Battle for Madrid had reached its climax. Nationalists troops had taken Casa de Campo, crossed the Manzanares river and were fighting in Ciudad Universitaria looking to reach the center of the capital city. On this same day, the first units of the International Brigades paraded through the Madrid streets (the photo above illustrating this blog entry), moving right straight into the front line.

Despite 2016 marking the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, no major public or privately sponsored events have been scheduled and the memories of those years continue fading away in the collective consciousness of the Spanish society. I just wanted to make a small reminder that our grandparents were kiling each other in a cold November morning like today, not so long ago...

For those with the ability to read Spanish, I recommend this issue of the Desperta Ferro ediciones magazine on the Battle of Madrid. Otherwise you can follow the campaign we played in 2014 with Chain of Command; the full campaign details are also available in the TooFatLardies 2014 Christmas Special.

Sunday 6 November 2016

Back in the Saddle

You may have noticed a drop of the blog’s activity lately.  Nothing to do with my health or loss of gaming mojo… in fact the result of the biblical-scale club’s premises flooding last June, forcing its closure and hence resulting in a very low wargaming activity…  I managed just a few games in a friend’s house over the summer and September (see my previous post from late August).
Not having much to comment, I have been investing most of my gaming  time in painting my Napoleonic figures and reducing my lead pile. Those who follow my Twitter account may have seen my progress in that front!
The good news are that I may enter now into a more active wargaming phase, as the club doors opened again just yesterday; so hopefully I’ll be playing most of Sundays from now on, as in the past.

The grand opening
I went to visit the premises only today… by the way, throwing my first dice in weeks, with three games of Command & ColoursAncient played this morning (great, fun game for Sunday morning or a casual match any afternoon!!).
Salivating after many months
The new refurbished site is wonderful, we have gained in terms of light, quality and safety too: taking advantage of the disaster, the club “junta” decided to undertake a safety study and adapt the place to the local regulations. This means also that we can now organise public events too, hopefully attracting additional membership.
Kudos also to my fellow club colleagues comprising the “Junta” and its President Tomás (aka the KlubFuhrer) for the way they have managed this most unfortunate event and how they have put back in operation the club is a reasonable timeframe.
Returning to the gaming activity, what is the pipeline in the short term?
I guess mostly Napoleonic, but I’m afraid that not a lot of Sharp Practice. The rules are great indeed but have not captured the imagination of my gaming group as Chain of Command did.
And the main reason is the game scale: playing skirmish games in the FIW or AWI period is OK; but frankly speaking, when moving into the Napoleonic period, one wants to see large masses of men, horses and guns moving in a table and this is an experience that Sharp Practice cannot provide, they are not designed for large scale battles.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Sharp Practice: Encounter at Guareña River 1812

The following is a scenario for the popular skirmish rules in the black powder era Sharp Practice published by TooFatlardies in the context of the Salamanca campaign in 1812 won by Wellington's allied forces.

Before the actual battle of Salamanca (or “de los Arapiles” as it is known in Spain) was fought, on 21st  of July 1812 the British and the French armies spent several weeks following closely each other looking to exploit a moment of tactical advantage to defeat the enemy in force.
Since the end of June 1812, the theatre of operations had moved north of Salamanca, to the Duoro river line where both armies try to outmanoeuvre the enemy during several weeks.
Marshall Marmont finally caught Wellington out of step in a faint move in which the French crossed to the southern bank of the river, posing a flanking threat to Wellington and also potentially cutting the line of retreat to Salamanca and further afiled, to Portugal.
On July 17th, Wellington ordered the army retreat towards Toro; the objective was to move from there via the north-south road that links this city with Salamanca. The retreat continued during the 18th reaching by mid-afternoon the line of the Guareña stream, a small tributary of the Duoro. The British crossed this small river unopposed and formed a line along the west bank, supported on the village of Vallesa on the right.
Considering the position sufficiently secured and the late hour (around 4PM), the British were ordered to prepare the camp for the night.
However the French thought differently and spotted a good opportunity to cross the Guareña at a lightly defended position on the left of Wellington’s line. This move if correctly executed will allow a flank attack on the British and allied forces.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Sharp Practice: The Battle of García Hernández

The Battle of García Hernández took place on 23rd July, 1812 the day after the victory of Wellington at Salamanca.
The defeated French army left the battlefield covered by General Maximillien Foy’s 1st Infantry Division, a fresh French force as it did not have an active role in the main battle. Foy`s forces comprised two brigades with two regiments each and artillery.
Foy’s also got a light cavalry force reinforcement commanded b y General Jean-Baptiste Curto, with 2 squadrons of the 3rd Regiment d´Hussards, two squadrons of the 26th Regiment de Chasseurs and one squadron the 28th Regiment de Chasseurs.
According to French sources (but not mentioned in the British reports) the cavalry rearguard also comprised elements of the Division de Dragons commanded by General Pierre Boyér, in charge of protecting the artillery train retreating ahead in the north.
In the British side, Wellesley took personal command of pursuers, forming a group with the 1st Infantry Division, the Light Division, the light cavalry brigade of General Anson and the heavy cavalry brigade of General Von Bock (1st and 2nd  KGL Dragoons Regiments), the latter being part of the reserve division the previous day.
At dawn of July 23rd, both Anson and Von Bock initiated the persecution.

Sharp Practice Corunna Campaign Errata

As you probably know, the 2016 TFL Summer Special released yesterday includes the full Corunna 1809 campaign for Sharp Practice that we´ve been designing, testing and playing over the last two months.

Alas, when I downloaded the issue, I discovered to my horror that my eagle eye failed to spot several mistakes in my latest revision of the article just before publishing. So here are the corrections in case you are interested in taking note:

  • In page 13, the note with an asterisk about General Colbert should be deleted, it does not apply to the 4th scenario.
  • In the same page 13, in the British reinforcement table, the Marksman Thomas Plunkett should also be deleted (again it does not apply to the 4th game of the campaign).
  • Less important, the photos posted at the end of the article are from Cacabelos not Bembibre.
Sorre for the inconvenience.

Also worth noting that we introduced a British "Rifle Column" organisation in the artcile. But recently, we have realised that the brunt of the fighting was in fact undertaken by the light infantry with the support of Rifle companies distributed among the main British force.

Therefore, if you like a more historically accurate approach to the campaign, we would suggest using the Light Column Force of page 98 of the rules instead, as the backbone of the British forces for the campaign.

Saturday 16 July 2016

TFL Summer Special 2016 Released

Just a quick note to let you know that biannual TooFatLardies Special (Summer edition) is out and full of gooddies for Sharp Practice and Chain of Command aficionados. It includes (unshame publicity) the full Corunna Retreat campaign designed and played by Club Dragón members of Madrid. As usual, incredible value for money at GBP 6.0 price.

Full content follows:

Tuesday 12 July 2016

More Sharp Practice Coming Soon

As mentioned in a previous email, the activity of the blog was likely to fall substantially as a result of the club's flooding and the difficulties now to gather to play a game. Nonetheless, we've been evereything but idle, and I have a couple of announcements to make:

The first is that I played a small game last Friday at a friend's house and I'm planning to publish the scenario sometime this week. The game is in the aftermath of the Salamanca Battle (1812), when the rearguard of the routing French decided to take a stand against the pursuing British cavalry near the village of García Hernández.

The second is that the full Corunna Retreat campaign will soon be published, this time in the TooFatLardies 2016 Summer Special to be released in a few days from now. There you'll find all the details and special rules to play the campaign whose AARs I've been posting over the last two months.

So no dead but alive despite my low presence here. Stay tunned.

Friday 1 July 2016

Changing colours


Some of you may have noticed that I have changed the design of the blog.
I used to have darker colours on the back (greys and blacks) and light colours for the text.

Well, juts to inform you that this was not  my intention and actually I DO NOT LIKE at all the new design. But the bloody blogger suddenly change automatically the colour of the post titles to blue and the colour of the links to a kind of scarlet and I haven't found the way to revert to my original palette.

For this reason, I was forced to change the background colours to lighter tones, because in my original (and long-time) used layout it was impossible to read some of the texts. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell happened with the blog and looking to revert to my previous design. In the meantime, please bear with it.

Friday 24 June 2016

Club Dragon Closed! (...temporarely)

If you follow my Twitter account, you probably know by now.

Yesterday disaster struck at our beloved club premises: a pipe of the Madrid water utility broke, flooded the underground property next to ours, and the wall dividing both premises busted as a result of the water pressure and the tons of building materials stored there.

Literally a tsunami swept all our club and the water height reached over 30cm, flooding the lockers where many of us store our gaming toys. I have come out of the disaster with very light casualties as I use to keep my models in plastic boxes, only loosing some self-made scenery I used in my games.

But some of my club mates here were collectors of tabletop games and literally I saw then shedding tears when they open the lockers and all that was left were a mass of wet board. Some have lost several hundred euros in games and many are irreplaceable, belonging to the collectors category (old Avalon Hill, Victory Games, etc from the 70s and 80s... I did a quick search in Ebay and found one of the games being sold for US$300).

The level of destruction is such that we are unlikely to return to normal before October or November. Which on the other hand it's going to have an impact here too, as most of my blog posts deal with the games I usually play on Sundays.

Therefore, if you see a drop of activity it's not as a result of me losing interest in blogging, but because of what I just explained. As said, you can still follow my activities in my Twitter account and I'll keep posting and updating with any news as they come out.

Sad Day today

It is a democratic decision. I do not share but must respect.
Fear that this is just the beginning

Sunday 19 June 2016

Sharp Practice: The River Neira Crossing

The final game of the Corunna Retreat campaign for Sharp Practice was put to test today. In this scenario, we saw the British crossing a major obstacle (the Nerea river at Constantin) with the French in hot pursue. The full campaign will be published in the cinoming TFL Summer Special 2016.
To achieve a victory, the British had to cross the only passable point (a bridge) with at least a 75% of its forces (equal to 48 models with the OBs used). The British forces started the game fully deployed on the south bank of the river.
The initial French forces were off table, but only the cavalry contingent was available in the first few, reflecting the scattered situation of the French column. After each Tiffin card, the French player rolls a D6 dice and if the result is equal or less than the turn number, the infantry command cards are then added to the deck. 

Sunday 12 June 2016

Sharp Practice: A Belated Xmas Gift

Today we playtested the third scenario of the Corunna campaign for Sharp Practice. That we expect to publish in the incoming Summer Special 2016 In this case, it was inspired on the events of January 6th 1809 (Epiphany Day) when, having lagged the main army column, the paymaster's cart bullocks died and the army's silver was in danger of falling in French hands. General Paget had to retrace back all the way to where the carts were stranded and ordered the money chests to be thrown over the nearby cliff.
The game is played across the longest edge of the table. The table is actually a straight road with several terrain features offering light cover to the units, the number of items randomly calculated and placed. The British stranded cart at a certain distance of its tactical edge based on a die throw; and its deployment point at 12” from the cart. The French enter through their tactical edge, the deployment point located on the road.
The British must empty the cart and throw the money over the cliff. This is accomplished as a task with 16 points (see chapter 10 of the Sharp Practice book) undertaken by a brigade of men under the command  of a level I leader. They can start moving the money from the cart after the 3rd Tiffin card is out.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Sharp Practice: A bridge at Cacabelos

We are currently working on a small campaign based on the retreat to Corunna by Moore forces for Sharp Practice. The campaign rules are not ready yet and Richard Clarke already warned that we should dump away the Chain of Command mentality, as in this period battles are less important than outmanoeuvring your foes in the field. For this reason, the plan is to play four interlinked scenarios instead of a full campaign with the same forces. Eventually (...this is our intention..) the campaign will be published in the Summer Special 2016.
The game today was the action taking place on 3 January 1809, a rearguard defensive battle of the British at the town of Cacabelos in El Bierzo (Leon) area. It is a well known action because the French commander General Colbert was killed by a British rifle marksman called Thomas Plunkett killed at an uncertain distance. There is some confusion about this event, but likely a known impatient Colbert risked too much when reconnoitring the advanced outpost and rifleman Plunkett took his chances... and hit bang on target.

Dashing French Dragoons

Friday 27 May 2016

The Peninsular War: A New History by Charles Esdaile

As many other wargamers, history is an integral part of my hobby activities. Believe or not, I have neglected the Napoleonic period for a long time and even more the so called (more on this later)  “Peninsular Wars” in the English speaking world, about which I’m a total ignorant despite being Spanish.
The recent publication of Sharp Practice by TooFatLardies is marking an end to this period of ignorance, as my gaming mates have embraced the rules with our renowned Spanish passion… and of course with a view to fight games against the invader of our sacred soil.
The fact is that part of my lack of interest in the Napoleonic period in Spain is the result of my school education. Being a child of the 60s, with Franco still alive and kicking, history was taught always in the key of the Spanish Civil War.
I’ll try to clarify. Script:
·      Spain had always been Spain since the prehistoric ages.
·      The Romans were invaders, The Visigoths, the Moors… all were invaders alien to our immortal soul and culture and all were defeated in due time.
·      The French of course were also invaders and actually a bunch of pre-communist revolutioners and atheists that wanted to destroy our culture.
·      The last attempt to destroy our Spanish soul was the unholy alliance of Marxist-Leninists, Jews and Masons in 1936… thank God, Franco was there and we were free to live as true Spanish since then.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Sharp Practice: The Storm of Cascajales de Alba

The French and British forces in the Iberian Peninsula fought today for the control of Cascajales de Alba, a small poor village in the border with Portugal, but key to the French defensive line in the Tagus valley.

This was Scenario 5 of the Sharp Practice book. The French were on the defensive this time and to win, the British must capture the house with the blue line on the map below. The French had a Regular core force plus 10 support points, invested in a gun with leader level I.

Sunday 8 May 2016

Sharp Practice: Attack on Cerro Medellin (July 1809)

Today I played my second Sharp Practice game (third for my gaming pals as I missed the one organized the last weekend). We used Scenario 3 “Defence in Depth" of the book, in the context of the Talavera Battle (July 1809), the French attack on Cerro Medellín.

French attack and British defend in this scenario. I played on the French side and chose the French Regulars as core force, adding an artillery piece, a Dragoon group  and a Big Man level I as supports.
The terrain was basically featureless, with a hill (Cerro Medellin) dominating the British deployment area and small stream (minor obstacle) marking the limit of its defensive line. The British had a primary and a secondary deployment points located within the first 12 and 36 inches of its table edge.
The French also had two deployment points to be located in the two halves of their table side and with 6 inches of the edge.
The French had to capture the British primary deployment point or force their withdrawal from the battlefield to win.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Sharp Practice: First Shots

As many readers of this blog and the whole Lard fan community knows, Sharp Practice 2 was released on St George´s day. I received the pdf copy of the rules at 7.30AM sharp (sigh) on Saturday and my hardcopy, cards and tokens will hit home hopefully some day next week.
It was too tempting to lose this Sunday without at least giving a try to the rules; despite having just skipped the book on Saturday (… while busy preparing a major dinner at home to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary), my club’s pals were of the same opinion and this morning we exchanged the first shot in a small skirmish encounter game.

I played the French side with four line infantry groups, two skirmish group and one Dragoons cavalry group vs the a British army with a similar lay-out. I’m not looking to describe the battle in detail as it was a game frequently interrupted to clarify aspects of the rules and in search of the right tables in the tablet to fire and to move.
The most remarkable action was the charge of the French cavalry downhill against a group of KGL hussars that dare to get to close to the French. In the melee the Germans were massacred, losing 6 out of the 8 troopers and the group commander being seriously wounded.

Sunday 10 April 2016

Sharp Practice 2 - Preorder period open

A little late to the party (I was out of Spain in a business trip the wople week), but I have just pre-ordered Sharp Practice, the incoming new rules by TooFatLardies covering the black powder period that is, from 1700 to mid XIX century.
The rules will be available on the 23rd of April, Saint Georges (but also the day our own national Cervantes died, that was instituted as the Book’s Day in Spain). In the meantime, TFL offers a number of bundles with the hardcopy of the book, cards and tokens needed to play at a significant discount… and in addition you get the pdf electronic version of the rules for free.  Detailed explanation can be found in Lard Island (the official blog) and the website.

Note that these are NOT Napoleonic period rules, but cover a substantial wider period including The Seven Years Wars, FIW, AWI, Napoleonic and ACW among other. And also that these rules are designed to play skirmish oriented battles, therefore do not expect to move large masses of models on the table; actually with 40-50 minis per side you can have a game, making them suitable to play with the larger scales (25mm or 28mm).

The initial release will include army lists for FIW, AWI, Peninsular Campaign,  ACW and the Indian Mutinity. However TFL is already working on a series of complementary lists that will available for free download and some of their popular Pint-Sized Campaign books (called because the price is the pint of beer in the author's favourite  pub at Saint Albans).

Currently I have put my sight in the Napoleonic period with a twist to the Peninsular Campaign period. But if the rules root firmly among my gaming pals, I cannot discard at all a Carlist project or a painting project covering the FIW and the AWI period.

So wallet is lighter and only rests now to wait patiently to April 23rd.