17 April 2015

The Village

This week, I read this book for my Vietnam War elective:

In Black Hawk Down, the fight went on for a day. In We Were Soldiers Once & Young, the fighting lasted three days. In The Village, one Marine squad fought for 495 days—half of them died.

Few American battles have been so extended, savage and personal. A handful of Americans volunteered to live among six thousand Vietnamese, training farmers to defend their village. Such "Combined Action Platoons" (CAPs) are now a lost footnote about how the war could have been fought; only the villagers remain to bear witness. This is the story of fifteen resolute young Americans matched against two hundred Viet Cong; how a CAP lived, fought and died. And why the villagers remember them to this day

It is an amazing book - a USMC squad operating with a small local militia and the realities of living in a village amongst a people whose loyalties are divided.  If you are into Vietnam Skirmish level gaming this book is a goldmine of scenarios and a 5 star must read.

The author served as a USMC Captain in Vietnam from 1966-68, later worked for RAND and became the Assistance Secretary for Defense in the Reagan administration.  He is a prolific writer and has toured Iraq and Afghanistan several times over the past decade.  I had the honour of meeting him this week when he spent a few hours with my small class discussing anything and everything, after which he signed my copy of The Village. An inspiring individual.

14 April 2015

500 followers! Thanks indeed!

After many months (actually around a year) sitting around the 470-80 mark, we recently started creeping up again and jumped to 502 followers this week!

Not sure what that means in these days of Google followers and Google+1 ing things instead, but its humbling to thin so many people have dropped into our corner of the blogosphere and enjoyed it.  Thanks indeed :-)

11 April 2015

Submarine Museum and WW2 Memorial

Recently I had the opportunity to tour the US Navy's Submarine Museum and the WW2 Memorial, both of which are in Groton, Connecticut.  The museum, is a great selection of everything from the first submersible boats all the way up to nuclear attack sub and ballistic missile submarines.  The pride of the collection is the USS NAUTILUS, the first nuclear powered submarine in the world and the first submarine to transit under the north pole.  Just as good in my mind were all the battle flags and memorabilia for the WW2 Submarines whip waged such effective economic warfare against Japan (and many of which operated out of Australia).  If you get a chance to visit I highly recommend it!

And of course its great motivation for playing "The Hunters" and the upcoming US Pacific Version "Silent Victory"!

The Nautilus in all her glory!

07 April 2015

CSS Appomattox: Review

CSS Appomattox
by Chris Stoesen

Amidst the slaughter of the American Civil War, recognition of the South by both France and Great Britain sees a negotiated settlement and the formal succession of the Confederacy.  An uneasy Cold War ensues with each side seeking European Allies to bolster their economies and access world trade markets.  The Union finds itself a friend in Germany, a growing power seeking overseas possessions and resources to fuel its industries.  The Confederacy finds its own ally in Spain, and when Germany tries to seize Spanish holdings in the Caribbean, the Confederacy finds itself toeing a diplomatic tightrope of supporting its ally while not triggering another general war with the North.

Enter Captain Thomas Devareaux of the Confederate Navy and Captain of the dirigible CSS Appomattox.  Let loose upon the expeditionary fleet of the German Navy operating in and around the Eastern seaboard, he leads his crew on raids and strikes to harass the enemy and solidify the South's alliance with Spain.  Along the way there is international and domestic intrigue, glimpses of a shadow war with the North and a cast of characters with a divers range of backgrounds.

I really quite liked Chris's alternative history world and the way in which he describes a team of men trying to harness new technologies to do their duty in tough situations.  Yes it is a self published with a few  hiccups and no it is not a Bernard Cornwell novel.  But it is a fun and easy read which I really enjoyed - I am looking forward to the next instalment in the adventures of Thomas Devareaux.

CSS Appomattox is available electronically here for less than a price of a beer.  If alt history and riding zeppelins appeals to you then do yourself a favour and give it a go.

06 April 2015

Leng Spider

A wonderful new resin model by Fenris games, in 28mm.  Equally at home in a Cultist lair as a summoned horror, or in the wilds of Skull Island!

04 April 2015

The Great Game!

If you haven't seen the previous post on this game, check out the setup here: http://tasmancave.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-game-of-global-conquest.html
The Battleboard set to go!
The teams were set, the strategies planned out and it was time to set them into motion - who would win? The teams played out 8, one hour turns in two 4 hour sessions.  It was well paced but busy throughout, with a large clock and a team of umpires keeping everyone on track:
The UN: Diplomats in action: coloured vests denote team allegiance
The first few turns the major powers focused on economic development and established free trade agreements. The smaller nations squabbled over the central canal and the non state actor Orange team became a tool of everyone to employ in their bid for their own state.  Machiavelli would have been proud at the amount of double dealing and backstabbing going on!

Then Team Yellow made a bid to garb the whole canal and attacked one of the Blue ships (my team). We then established a cunning plan to beat them down hard which was fun, but rather pointless from a VP perspective.  Once we had destroyed their offensive capability we backed off on them.  Of course, other countries sensed weakness and soon yellow was badly on the ropes having territory carved off everywhere.
VP graph for the second to last turn: Red was clearly going to go for broke against Blue here!
As time came of the last turn, all countries went for the classic 40k style objective rush.  Red was clearly looking to jump onto our island to reduce our VPs for holding it and pip us over the finishing line - this lead to a rapid escalation and the "Battle for the Two Islands"
Red moves into position
And lands a massive invasion party
 We clearly couldn't eliminate the incursion in a ingle turn so returned the favour with paratrooper drops onto their island in turn.  The resulting battle was an excellent demonstration of Mutually Assured Destruction as we wiped each other's Carrier Groups out, but both islands were contested at game end.  This losses chart shows the increase in blue and red losses in the final turn: Major powers wry are bloody!
This is the unit losses graph - as you can see, Yellow became the sick weak member of the herd...

So what was the end result?  The Red/Blue battle while devastating, kept Blue slightly in the lead in VPs at the end of turn 8

And so my Man Cave will now have a new trophy in a suitable place of honour!  I knew I had done well when the Lad said "You were totally Bismarck"

30 March 2015

A game of Global conquest...

We are running a large wargame this week with 30 odd players and a team of Umpires.

Our fictional world has 3 major powers (Blue, Red and Grey), each allied to 3 minor powers (Purple, Green and Yellow respectively) who between them control the only canal between continents, plus some non State Actors (Orange).  The world is set up as shown below with two large oceans (in white):
Each country is run with a team of players including a President, Diplomat, Treasurer and Military Commanders.. There are a range of game moderators who also run the UN and World Bank.  Each turn includes economic & trade, diplomacy, industry and of course military action in a pretty rapid fire sequence:

10 mins of team strategising
10 mins of interaction between teams
20 mins for moderated game moves (in a separate room, only Commanders allowed)
10 min for combat resolution

We will running 8 turns over 2 half day sessions later this week, after which Victory will be calculated as follows:
And finally, each turn a country gets to generate military assets by expending resources, each of which has special capabilities:

As you can see, Units have Attack-Defence-Move stats like a classic SPI/AH board game, which are used to resolve combat with a few die rolls

Apparently you can't hoard up technology points to develop nuclear weapons...I know because I asked :-D

I am on the Blue team in the role of Diplomat (an unusual role for me!) and all alliances and deals must be sealed with real world beers!

More to follow as the game unfolds...

26 March 2015

Unreasonable distractions

Awesomely, this is one of our textbooks
There are very real perils in undertaking the fascinating Strategy and Policy course of study I am doing at the moment.  Each week we study a new war in depth, analysing the strategies of different sides, diplomatic and economic factors, operational conduct and so on.  Clearly this has a reading burden associated with it, but its also a burden to the gamer in that every week something shiny comes along!  One week I want to refight the Pelopennesian War between Athens and Sparta, the next week it is the French Indian Wars, then the Napoleonic era... you can see the problem!  Really quite unfair to the wargamer's typically undisciplined mind.

This week really threatened to make me crumble as we revisited the German Wars of Unification, reactivating my desire to game the FPW which I have mostly held a lid on since the early 1990s.  I almost fell off the wagon for Baccus's lovely 6mm range last year, so I just have to close my eyes and think about all the other projects I have in train or planned.  Like my 6mm ECW project.  Of course, if somebody wanted to jump in (I'm thinking of you 'Bish) I might have to change my mind yet again..

And before anyone says it: yes, its great to have such a dilemma!

25 March 2015

Addendum: The Fall of Kagul III

Dave (who posted the original pics) has told me that the following house rules were used for the extra models (to the best of his memory).  Hope this helps resurrect some old favourites to the table!

  • Hormagaunts were Stealers you could hit on a 4+, rolled two dice in combat (vice 3) and subtracted -1 from the highest.
  • Warriors you could only hit on the sustain, they had Parry and added +2 to the highest roll.
  • Carnifex was like Warrior but need two hits to kill . It also got to add the lowest die rolled to its combat score.
  • Chaplain was a Sergeant with +2 to his combat roll and a 4+ save. (But I've seen some more elegant options to this around the net)
  • Inquisitor was all that, plus a digi weapon that killed anything before it attacked on a 6.

23 March 2015

Space Hulk: The Fall of Kagul III

Some nice footage of Space Hulk gaming at Adepticon 2015 over the weekend, with an interesting scenario for six players.  Not sure what rules were used or who manufactured the Hulk terrain.

Pics and narrative courtesy of Dave here: http://www.forum.specialist-arms.com/index.php?topic=7081.0

A huge game of Space Hulk played on a Creative Gamescape setup. Four marine players had to find an Inquisitor and get him off planet in twenty turns. Probably the closest game I ever played (see the last couple of captions) which made for a very cinematic game.
Ultramarines on the hunt for the Inquisitor 
Deathwing looking for a way to open the landing bay door

The board - 4 marine and 2 stealer players
Blood Angels look for the Inquisitor on the other side of the landing bay

Hormagaunts get shot to pieces

The Chaplain was the luckiest model on the board. He waded through bug after bug and lost combat 5ish times but made his saves each time

Shoot the bugs Brothers, not the wall!
Racking up the kill count

Moving toward the second level

The Grey Knight Captain shot down an entire swarm guarding the bay door console

This guy was fun to bring around the corner - the warrior won

The Inquisitor is found

Overwatch time!
The guy took out the warrior.  A hormagaunt finally got him
A stealer gets the first Grey Knight kill

With one turn left the Carnifex stands between the Inquisitor and his escape!
He boxcar-ed it! He and the pilot race toward the shuttle and...and 1AP short.  Bugs win!