Wednesday 28 September 2011

IABSM 3 Teaser

Breaking news just in from TooFat Lardies...

The rules are 104 pages long, full colour. The contents are as follows:

1. Introduction
2. Contents
3. Playing the game
4. The basics
5. The Game Deck explained
6. The Rules
7. Optional Rules
8. Aces
9. Recruiting Your Force
10. Normandy Handbook (Brits, Germans and US for Normandy with orbats, stats etc.
11. Random Scenario Generator; 6 types of random scenario, infinite variety of games
12. Historical scenarios, how to write them and balance your forces
13. Two starter scenarios
14. Two historical scenarios

Richard Clarks said "The cards arrived from the printers yesterday. The tokens are being made, and Hugh Jarce is being cast."

I can't wait to see these rules, just feels so exciting. Previews of the layout look really polished and I think this is going to be the must have WW2 rule set, and I hope to steal loads of ideas from it for my own games.

Friday 23 September 2011

Reprising Progress

I meant to post this a few days ago, but didn't quite find the time to sit down and write it on Wednesday afternoon as planned. Went to the dentist instead of writing a blog, I know which I prefer.

Anyway, been painting and doing basing of figures for my Mummerset campaign.  The basing being the problematical bit as after playing four games BattleTech with miniatures using our house rules certain things have been brought into focus for me and the group I play with.

Infantry are really tiny in comparison to mechs and vehicles and are readily confused by people who need glasses to read. BattleTech is not at heart an infantry centric game.  The clue is in the title, and while there are rules to expand the repertoire of infantry types, those rules tend to add to the rule burden, rather than actually creating a wider focus on combined arms.

As a result we have already gone from "realistic" platoons with mixed weapons by squads back to generic platoons that have a theme e.g: this is a laser platoon, or SRM launcher platoon, which is a shame in a way, because it loses flavour.  However, we are still employing squads that fire as platoons, which is good, and one of the things I've been doing is re-examining the way I base the figures.

BattleTech is a boardgame that has one hex equaling 30 metres, which means that infantry platoons are tripped up by the granularity of the time and ground scale assumptions; 10 seconds per turn for those who are not familiar with the game.

Therefore the game is working to a 1:1000th ground scale where the models are nominally 1:300th scale so we start from the position where the models are just over three times too large.  Now one solution is to use smaller models, say 2mm miniatures, but this is not to everyone's taste, and one can argue that one might as well use counters at that point.  Depending on your taste for such things. The other side of the coin is that you change the ground scale, which funnily enough is exactly what the official rules recommend.

Of course the eagle eyed alert reader will of spotted that even increasing the ground scale from 1:1000th to 1:500th still doesn't make the model scale equal to the ground scale.  Not generally a problem except for two things.  BattleTech miniatures are notoriously inconsistent in scale, with the dreaded scale creep over the last 25 years making newer models larger still, and the original smaller models were in my opinion closer to 1:220th scale (Z gauge in model railway terms) to begin with.  What you are left with is how to decide what compromise works best for you?

I'll be direct and to the point here and say that my tastes run towards mechs being shorter than the nominal 40 foot height that the board-game assumes,  and having a larger range of sizes depending on weight class.  So I visualize a light mech at around 20 to 25 feet tall, a medium mech around 25 to 30 foot tall, a heavy mech 30 to 35 feet tall, and assault mechs 35 to 40 foot tall.  Just my opinion.

So measuring up mech models and making some choices about how to interpret their size we can chose a scale that makes us happy.  My choice is to assume 1.6mm to the foot, or around 1:160th scale. Now that choice means that even with a a larger ground scale the models are still about three times larger than the ground scale.  So all that examination has lead us precisely no where.

Therefore one just has to be pragmatic and accept that one's choices have costs and benefits and decide what is important to you.  I want the infantry to based as squads that make up platoons, but given the size of the infantry models the most I can get on a 25mm base is three to four models, which to me is not enough to represent a squad.  So I've ended up having two bases per squad, and four squads squad platoons require eight bases in total.  However, as we have played games the need to be able to remove single casualties became apparent, and after some experimentation the solution I have reached is to add to single figures bases, and one base with two figures on it.

My reasoning being that the double figure base represents the platoon commander and RTO, while the two single figure bases represent a sergeant and runner.  The second single figure base is not strictly necessary for playing the game, but does keep the numbers even, which for some reason pleases me, as the number is 28.  The same a standard British platoon, and nominally the size of a standard BattleTech platoon.

We shall just ignore the whole frontage that a platoon occupies, as we've already accepted that the figure to ground scale is an abstraction to make the game playable on the size of table we have available.

Friday 16 September 2011

Mummerset 09.04.11: The 2nd Battle of South Boring AAR

This session was to resolve the situation from the Republican Guards pincer movement on the defenders of South Boring.


Elements of Colonel Whales's 3rd Royal Guards have pinned down by an attack by General Spencers 1st Republican Guards who have numerical superiority. See the last report for further details in the first link above. 

1st Republican Guards 2nd Battalion

1 x Hornet custom modified 3132 Inner Sphere tech worth 585 bv (move 5-8-5, armour 69 points, and 10 single heat sinks). Loadout 2 x medium lasers, 1 x LRM5 (with 24 rounds of ammo), and 1 x small laser.

1x ConstructionMech MOD custom modified 3132 Inner Sphere industrial tech worth 335 bv (move 3-5-0, armour 40 points, and 1 single heat sinks). Loadout 1 x LRM10 (with 12 rounds of ammo), 2 x machine guns (with 100 rounds of ammo), and a lift hoist.

1 x MaintenanceQuad MOD P custom modified 3132 Inner Sphere industrial tech worth 576 bv (move 3-5-0, armour 48 points, and 6 single heat sinks). Loadout 2 x LRM10 (with 12 rounds of ammo each), and 2 x lift hoists.

4 x Vedette light tanks worth 475 bv each (total 1900 points).
4 x Striker light missile tanks worth 564 bv each (total 2256 points).
4 x 3039 wheeled APCs that could carry one squad of infantry worth 157 bv each (total 628 points).
4 x 3039 GEV APCs that could carry one platoon of infantry worth 102 bv each (total 408 points).
1 x Morningstar City Command vehicle worth 412 bv.

1 x mechanised infantry platoon.
1 x PAL infantry platoon.
2 x jump infantry platoons.
2 x foot infantry platoons.

Also again on call were three artillery batteries in support of the assault.

4th Battalion of the House Steiner 4444 Regimental Combat Team

1 x Firestarter 2C XP custom modified 3132 Clan tech worth 1683 bv (move 6-9-6, armour 58 points, and 10 double heat sinks). Loadout 1 x ER Large laser, 2 x ER medium lasers, 2 x flamers, and 1 targeting computer). 

3rd Royal Guards 2nd Battalion

1 x AC5 field gun battery.
4 x foot infantry platoons.

Initial Deployment

As the players had aerial recon and orbital dominance the forces under the command of Major Alexander Mercia (Oliver) were deployed on table in order of the line of march. After this Trevor deployed his forces, which were all initially out of sight or hidden.

Click to embiggen.

The above shows Major Mercia's forces moving down the main road hunting for the enemy, which he has to engage and eliminate and then leave the opposite side of the board within fourteen turns (time set by length of the previous game where General Spencer transmits the withdraw order to the Republican Guards).
So, Oliver was very much on the clock and he can't just rush everything to the other side as he would lose if the defenders are still in place.

At the far left you can just glimpse the missile tanks that were positioned to provide indirect fire for the supporting forces, it was a pity that the enemy was so well hidden.
In the middle left you can see the advancing industrial mechs and slightly further right the wheeled APCs moving towards a building they suspect is defended. Smoke from an artillery barrage has also been placed on the table.

Click to embiggen.

The first shot of the game sees Trevor brewing up Oliver's leading GEV APC and effectively killing all the infantry inside it too as an added bonus. 
Oliver's forces are very bunched up due to the choke points (it is assumed that routes outside of the board are mined or blocked to prevent passage). It sucks to attack dug in defenders.

Click to embiggen.

The battle has just got down and dirty with Trevor's Firestarter bugging out to the far right with Oliver's mech forces in hot pursuit.
As can be seen another GEV APC has been hit, but this time the infantry inside were able to get out. Also a wheeled APC has been brewed up with the loss of one PAL infantry squad (Power Armour Light).
One of Oliver's industrial mechs is very lucky in that an offboard artillery barrage just misses it after over shooting its target; the building to the left near the front of the board.

Click to embiggen.

The Firestarter is leading the Republican Guard mechs in a merry chase around prime down town real estate that presents exciting investment opportunities for an entrepreneurial real estate developer looking to get in on the ground floor of a major redevelopment of an up and coming residential area.
Oliver's Hornet has jumped on top of one of the building trying to catch up with the Firestarter that can just bee seen center top of the picture.

Click to embiggen: Last turn of the battle that ended up being quite a blood bath.

Result of the Battle

Oliver's Hornet mech was taken down by a combination of SRM armed infantry and one of his own artillery barrages overshooting and hitting it just to rub salt into the wound. One industrial mech was still standing relatively unscathed, but the other had been well and truly cored.
Trevor's Firestarter fell to three critical hits on the engine shielding and a whole heap of armour sanded off by being under constant fire.

Losses were high on both sides.
The Oliver's Republican Guards lost five platoons of infantry, which left one platoon of infantry that was combat effective. He also lost one tank, three GEV APCs and four wheeled APCs.
Trevor lost two platoons of infantry. However, Trevor's remaining forces were not in a position to control the battlefield having no armour, and so they agreed to collect the wounded and allowed each other to retrieve mechs and vehicles for salvage.

Oliver and Trevor.

Since Oliver did so well, actually inflicting losses on House Steiner I have promoted his character Major Alexander Mercia to Lt. Colonel, and of course the Republic news service will hail this as a great victory over Colonel Whales Royalists, who only withstood the attack down to the support of the offworld mercenaries that he had employed to subjugate the citizens of Mummerset to the old rule of Kings again.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Colours 2011: Newbury Racecourse


I haven't been to Colours, which is held at Newbury racecourse for a couple of years. When I checked my diary I see it was 2009. That was the year I was checking out terrain and making the decision to make my own, rather than buy a commercial product.

Going back was like visiting the past, as it seemed to me that nothing much in particular had changed, which is not a bad thing by any means. What had changed though was the fresh coffee stand was not open this time, and as far as I'm concerned this was a disaster.

I don't want to be drinking alcohol as I'm driving, so I want something nice to drink, and for me that doe not mean instant coffee. So that was a disappointment.

We drove down to Newbury from St. Albans where I had been taking a few pictures for Richard Clark, so by the time we arrived we were quite hungry, as well as thirsty. To say the least the food service was desultory and I ended up having a hot sausage roll thing that was very unsatisfactory. So from a culinary perspective Colours was an epic fail, which may sound a bit unfair, but the lack of choices really affected my experience of the show.

As to the show itself.

Traders were in the usual plentiful abundance. The win of the day was getting a copy of Battle (1970 edition) for five pounds from the bring and buy stand. I then found a dealer with Testors Dullcote and bought their last four tins. Then I bought some Basetex texture paint as I had run out. Yes I know I can make this stuff by mixing paint, texture and glue, but it is simpler and less messy to buy a pre-prepared product. Spoke to the crew at GZG, as we go way back to when we were all young and foolish

Looked around at other stuff but didn't buy anything, partly because the most of the traders I might have bought stuff from weren't taking credit cards. I don't know if this was something to do with the venue, or what? So mostly browsed, rather than bought anything. However, did see some fabulous new building from Fieldworks, but though they said these would  be up on the website this week they are not yet posted. However, as soon as they are I will be ordering one of each of the nine new buildings I saw. I should have taken a picture I suppose?

A couple of games caught my attention. First up was Edward VIII Cocktail Bar - A Very British Civil War set in 1938 called The Battle of Ambridge.

I especially liked the seaplanes above. The other more low key affair being the Royal Air Force Wargames Association game Stargate GB-1.

Reminded me of a miniature version of the Contact! airsoft LARP I'm involved in. Talking of this, a picture of a twelve inch to the foot scale military vehicle at Colours 2011.

An American M1009 CUCV radio truck in three colour NATO camo.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Weekend Photoshoot

Been a bit of a busy weekend for me as I went up to St. Albans Saturday morning to shoot a few photographs for Richard at TooFat Lardies for his forthcoming I Ain't Been Shot Mum 3. He says he is pleased with what I did, but for me the proof of the pudding will be seeing the end product etc.

For me the photo shoot was quite stressful, because it has been an awful long time since I've taken pictures on any sort of commission basis, and it was a lesson in how stress makes you forget things. However, in spite of all that I took 94 pictures in an hour and a half, which was all the time we had, because the hall was booked for use by another group.

Some are appallingly out of focus, and other have camera shake to die for, when one take 94 shots one is bound to get a few good ones. I just hope that I got enough good shots for Richard to be happy and able to proceed with producing the rules.

I've been looking at the manual and dummies guide I bought to refresh what I need to know to get the maximum out of my camera. Oh ye,s some very cropped teasers for your delight.


PS: I'm really excited by these rules and I don't even play WW2, but I can see I'll be using them for modern actions though.