Tag Archives: Skirmish Game

New Viking Looter Cards


I’m going to run VIKING LOOTERS (the old Viking Raiding game by JIm Birdseye) at game camp next week.  Much of the game’s action is handled through the cards.  The file that I received from Brian Whitaker was great but not formatted for standard business card sized cards– I kept losing alignment during printing.  So to remedy this I recently reformatted the card deck to use a standard business card template originating from Avery.  This is their “Graduation announcement” template which should fit most business cards blanks, including 5571.  I’m very pleased with how these came out.  If you have a use for this kind of game, here are the rules and the cards (the important part).  Cards are in PDF and Word.  Rules are in Word.

Microsoft Word link
Adobe PDF link

Rules

(the last sheet is blank in both PDF and Word so you can write some of your own)

I think the end result is worth the effort.

This is a fun time and plays well with younger folks.   The rules aren’t much, maybe a page and a half at most.  The big laughs come with how you handle it as a referee. Enjoy!

Chosen Men. Maybe just the thing for all those 54mm Nappys


A long, long time ago, I used to keep a little notebook I’d take on work travel.  I’d just sketch things down in it, some fiction, and the occasional idea for a game.   Big Danged Boats came out of that notebook.  So did a bunch of other things that eventually saw the light of day.  One of them was an often visited, often alluded to project I called Voltigeurs and Riflemen.  This was a skirmish game I envisioned taking place during the Napoleonic era.  The units were single figures or small groups of up to four figures.

54mm British Riflemen, Peninsular War and Waterloo, Italieri, my collection

54mm British Light Company, Victrix, my collection

For my own reasons, I wanted the scale to be 54mm a figure.  I love this size for Skirmish games; they are easy to see and easy to handle, and the size forces the battlefield to be manageable on one table.  My original inspiration was an old book by Paddy Griffith called NAPOLEONIC WARGAMING FOR FUN.  It’s a fun book about several versions of napoleonic games that Mr. Griffith designed over the years.  Nothing I’d try these days, but one design I did really like was his version of a man to man Napoleonic game.  This really doesn’t happen very much in this niche of miniature wargaming.  Napleonics is for big battles, right?  Lovely uniforms, massed infantry formations, artillery batteries, cavalry charges with hussars ranked knee to knee, resplendent down to their pink piping and pigtails.

Well, sure it is.

Still, I often imagine what it’s like in that space in between where the big battalions meet and crash into each other.  There has to be a No-Man’s land where small groups of deployed skirmishers meet each other, for just a moment in time, before the big formations crash into each other.  For that glorious 15 minutes to half an hour, there should be a place on a Napoleonic battlefield where individuals continue to make a difference, where Skirmishers can attempt to pick off officers and sergeants, disrupting the enemy advance.   Such a game would have to move fast, represent individual soldiers by preference, possess command and control tracing back to individual leaders, and somehow represent the impact of that larger battlefield entering their little skirmish bubble during the course of the game.  Skirmishers, after all, were detached from larger companies.  Designated Light formations certainly could skirmish AND form formations.  British Rifle Companies lived in the skirmish zone, their entire purpose in life was to leap nimbly about, find cover and load their slow but accurate Baker rifles to harass, impede and otherwise disrupt enemy attacks by killing the chain of command from a distance.  Napoleon was not as firm of a believer in the rifle, but the Voltigeurs were also trained to screen an advance and act as elite marksmen for the French side of the field.  It’s when these two types of soldiers– the nimble, slow-firing Britons and the nimble, faster-firing but more inaccurate French, intersected as screens for the big attacks, THERE is where a man to man game of Napoleonic warfare makes sense.

The V&R rules (* Voltigeur and Rifleman) I came up with featured breaking a turn down into segments.  Again, this was heavily influenced by the Paddy Griffith book I mentioned above.  You rolled for characteristics of the soldiers in your company, just like a roleplaying game.  STR came in handy for giving more hit points and in melee, DEX allowed you to reload and aim faster and better, MOVE may allow a few more inches of movement more or less a turn, AIM was for firing, LDR was for Sergeants, Corporals, Lieutenants and Captains, and was great for Rallying, Moving men into and out of formation, and giving orders.  As Paddy G. had envisioned it, every action took a segment.  Where he and I parted ways was I thought he got a little too microscopic with his approach to actions and segments.  Picking up a ramrod was a segment.  Cocking a musket was a segment, attaching a bayonet a segment etc.

The “Action Chart” from Paddy Griffith’s ancient Napoleonic Man to Man Skirmish Game. This really impressed me when I was 15.

Every portion of the British Musket drill was broken down into segments.  I thought that was fascinating when I was 15 and read Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun for the first time, but as an adult, now I can see that that would make for a miserable game for modern tastes.  I didn’t have 30 years of experience back then.  I don’t think any player these days, especially convention wargame players, have the patience for such micro management of actions.  So, in fact, would V&R be miserable, as first I imagined it to be.  I streamlined the actions to six for muskets and eight for rifles, seven if taploading– and it still doesn’t play fast enough for me.

Detail from a rogues gallery spreadsheet with many V&R characters rolled up.

I have looked for smaller scale miniature games that might work– I have high hopes for Sharpe Practice by Two Fat Lardies (and purchased it!), but it appears to be maybe one scale size too large, and maybe a little too much for 54mm figures.  Great rules, though.. if I get a whole passle of 28mm Nappy figures, I’m going to be all in for this rules set.

 For 54mm scale, though, I needed a rule set that emphasizes individual actions, not group actions.  That’s why I started on Voltigeur & Rifleman– I still need something that’s relatively fast moving, and the V&R approach won’ t hack it without a lot of re-work and playtesting.

Enter CHOSEN MEN, by Osprey Games.

As I’ve covered in past blog posts, I tend to pick up most of Osprey’s “blue line” of wargame rules in a semi-desultory fashion.  Some of them are great, some of them are bad, and some of them are mediocre.  Since they are relatively inexpensive (for modern wargames, most of which tend to be hardbound and full of illustrations to drive the price point up), and even more inexpensive as Kindle publications, I usually put most of them on pre-order as Kindle publications and hardcover if it REALLY catches my eye.  Since this book came out nearly simultaneously with the release of ROGUE STARS*, I said “what the heck” and pre-ordered both in paper.  There’s always something entertaining in a Napoleonic skirmish rules set.  Wow, I’m glad I did.  Immediately, I can see there are many, many elements of what I am looking for in Chosen Men.  The average force size is 3 to 6 units of maneuver of 5 to 20 models each.  I would be reducing that.  The average gaming area will be 4 x 4 feet, I will be attenuating that and rifle/musket range or the riflemen will become ridiculously powerful.  Models have stat lines very similar to the ones I posted about in the illustration above, only it’s Melee (M), Resilience (R), Command (C), Wounds (W), Tactics (TAC) and Stratgy (STG).  Melee is personal fighting skill, with sword or bayonet, Resilience works like Constitution or “Toughness”.  Command is more like Morale in classic game design, as in being “In command, or capable of accepting commands”.  Wounds is self explanatory, Tactics is like “Action Points”, and Strategy is only used by Officers or Sergeants– used to get their units to do special actions, and there is a finite number of STG points.  Dice are all six-sided (I like this, but I don’t require it).  Actions are determined to be successful by performing checks against skills, and two models opposing each other would determine outcome by roll-offs.  There’s a lot more to it, but there is the gist.  I love some of the extra chrome to give it exactly the setting I’m proposing– the skirmish events that take place in the grey area between the big battalions, where they start to encounter each other.  One chrome element that lends “that big battle right over there” flavor is the “Cauldron of War Strategies” table.

The “Cauldron of War” is similar to a random events table that I came up with in V&R that provided that crucial “meta event” that I think has to be there for a game like this, set in this time period.  You KNOW there’s a big event happening just to your flank or behind you– but that may or may not intrude into your personal little bubble of battle space.  The Cauldron of War abstracts this element out nicely.

Chosen Men isn’t perfect for what I want to do with it.  It’s not an exact fit for 54mm scale.  For one thing, formations are still kind of sort of a thing in Chosen Men (though not the focus of combat or movement).  I don’t know how that would fit in a man to man skirmish game– except maybe I do.  Chosen Men measures fire combat and movement from the unit leader– the Sergeant or Lieutenant, etc.  Formations form on him, and ranges also are measured from him.  I’ll have to seriously tinker with ranges, scale and ground scale to make it work with 54s.  I may have to write some conversion rules to make it fit.  For instance, the standard units are like 6 figures for Chosen Men, and I was thinking 3 figure at most for 54mm.  With that said, I like Chosen Men, it has the right feel for me and I’m willing to test this conversion here as soon as my tin soldiers get out of the warehouse.

Replay: IRA raid on a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barrack & NOVAG Game Day


NOVAG and Potomac Wargamers hosted their annual Winter Game Day on Sunday 18 January 2015 at The Centreville Library in Centreville, VA.   All games kicked off at 1300, so there wasn’t any chance to play in an earlier game than that.  There were some great choices, but the one that caught my eye was: Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Barrack Raid run by Lance O’Donnell using the Triumph and Tragedy rules set between 1900 and 1939.   These are a set of very tactical rules set in the early 20th century optimized for 20th century rifle ranges.  The scenario being played was two squads (called “Battalions” but really squad sized).  I had two groups of men of about 10 guys each (each with a leader with a pistol) and one Heroic Leader who could set demolitions and throw grenades (he had two).   Even dedicated IRA men are not exactly up to snuff militarily, so my initiative was the worst in the game (except for my hero).  We were also not as skilled as the RIC and Black and Tans were with firearms and other shooty things.   Here’s the scenario description: The local IRA needs to acquire rifles for the independence cause and has been planning to hit a rural Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks.  But the Black and Tans have been interrogating local villagers and have learned of the plot.  Can the IRA grab the rifles or will the Black and Tans get there in time to stop them?

The RIC barracks, Pretty much dead center on the table, next to the road.

Being, erm, descended from a few parties of interest in that conflict, I opted to take the IRA.  The map was simple.  Fields with a road bisecting it laterally.. In the center of the board was a two story structure (The RIC barracks) with a stone fence out back and two doors, front and back, starting the game locked.  The RIC is inside the building and they have been tipped off about the IRA.

My battalions used what improvised cover they could find. No windows in the side of house equals a covered approach.

I started in the upper NW and lower SW quadrant corners, and improvised a covered approach to the objective going as fast as I could. I was assisted in this by some woods in the NW quadrant and both a hedge in the SW quadrant combined with no side windows in the barracks building. The Black and Tans did not enter until Turn 3, which forced the impetus of action upon me.

The Black and Tans enter on Turn 3, giving me roughly five turns of having a numerical advantage (as it took them 3 turns of movement to get into a position to affect the battle).

My tactical plan was to rush to a position where I could be in range, lay down a suppressing fire on both windowed sides of the RIC barracks, blow the black door with demolitions and rush in to club and capture the hopefully very suppressed RIC men.

The RIC Men started spread out over two floors. As they started taking suppression losses, they all clumped together downstairs. A perfect setup for me.

I had to position my men along the stone wall to get some partial cover. Unfortunately the rules are a little hinky– ALL members of the squad had to be touching the wall with their bases or the defensive dice adjustment applies to none of them.. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them all there the first turn so had to take a few losses before we were hiding behind the wall together. We crowded up to the windows as best we could and poured fire into the room.

We fired in from behind the fence, then we rushed the windows and let fly. The Hero is readying his doorbreaking charge.  Meanwhile as you can see, the B&Ts are going to show up soon.

So far the initial plan was working pretty well. We had managed to get the first element behind the stone fence to fire into the barracks and contribute to suppressing the RIC constables. We had only taken one casualty on the approach. The other element had taken advantage of excellent cover to approach the FRONT of the building to pour in suppressing fire on that side. Rather than stay in the street, in the open, to engage the onrushing Black and Tans, I moved them back around to the REAR of the building to serve as the charging force in melee.

Meanwhile my second “battalion” dashed to the FRONT of the house and poured lead in throw the windows. The first floor became a slaughter house.

The second battalion had a chance to get off one fusilade of bullets into the RIC barracks room before they had to run for cover. See the Black and Tans coming down the road at full clip! That’s trouble.

As you can see, the RIC were in for it in a serious way. They lost 3 men and got many points of suppression which limited their odds.

The situation inside the RIC barracks. The RIC contingent was repeatedly sprayed with gunfire from both sides and suffered many hits to their morale after suffering wounding and a couple of kills.

The door blows.. and IN WE GO

The melee went for 2 turns inside before the last RIC Constables went Tango Uniform. Numbers can tell, and this was a situation where he could activate 3 or less and I was attacking him at a dozen people per attack. Having achieved the impossible and captured the RIC barracks, I wanted to try wiping out the Black and Tans.

Melee inside the RIC barracks after the door got blown successfully. That’s my second element charging in there, the ones that had circled around the building after firing in the front windows. Melee lasted two turns; the second to the last guy went down and then the last guy surrendered.

All this gallivanting about was taking up precious time. One thing I could not afford was getting into a prolonged gun battle with the RUC (Black and Tans) as they had better rifle skill, better initiative and higher morale. My best bet was to lure them into a long range shoot ’em up, get them to run up close and toss my two grenades at them. Good plan, half-assed execution.

I was concerned that the RUC would run up to the front door or just fire into the windows of the barracks. After all, my victory conditions had just been met– I had captured the barracks. So I got my first element up against the stone wall and fired a couple of volleys at the Black and Tans. Sure enough the wheeled right and moved to contact, taking casualties as they advanced.

Unfortunately my heroic leader guy was a great demo expert but lousy grenade tosser, and the grenade flew off coordinates.  I do think that made the other player a little cautious however.

Charging in for the finale of the game. I believe I wounded at least two more before he was on the wall charging into melee (over the wall).

Final battle with the Black and Tans.

To speed up the narrative, the Black and Tans speed up the road, disappointed that Squad 2 hadn’t stayed around to be shot at, then deployed in line and shot up Squad 1, safely behind the stone wall. Squad 1 returned fire from where they stood, being somewhat protected. That winnowed the B&Ts dramatically and only 4 guys lived to make it to the wall, then 3… At that point we were in melee and I still had a relatively fresh squad– which had run around the building and was about to launch itself on the remaining B&Ts for a truly epic asymetrical fight. I’ll entertain someone who wants to fight to the death, but in games where it doesn’t seem to be worth it, I always offer an early out rather than commit to playing out something unwinnable. My opponent agreed that it was pretty hopeless for him and we called the game, which was an IRA total victory. I had captured the RIC barracks and either killed, wounded or accepted the surrender of every enemy on the table. I attribute success to moving fast, early, when I had a numerical advantage, not delaying the attack until everything was perfect, and having my two squad elements support each other by each providing suppressing fire into the building. The result was a lot of cohesion hits and some kills (maybe half). My specialist hero worked well setting the demo and blowing the door, but proved inept throwing grenades (I only had to throw one of two). It was a great time, I enjoyed going to NOVAG’s game day and seeing everyone.

OTHER NOVAG EVENTS

Fred Haub’s Medieval Massacre

More Medieval Massacre

Look, there’s Fred now.

Aspern-Essling Day 1 by Eric Freiwald, using Command and Colors Napoleonics.

More Aspern-Essling

Barbarossa company level game, Maciej Zajac. using BOLT ACTION.

More of the same.

Tim ponders his next move

Dennis Wang’s excellent game of Avalon Hill’s AIR FORCE using Ipads, Tablets and Smart Phones. I’ve played this before and really enjoyed it.

Tuscaloosa pensively sets his orders on his smart phone.

The Battle for the Areghendab Bridge – Afghanistan, December 2001 by Mike Byrne. Using FORCE ON FORCE.

More Force on Force

MORE PICTURES TO BE FOUND HERE

Riflemen and Voltigeurs, 54mm scale


For my as yet unnamed single figure Napoleonic skirmish game, I have been painting/having painted several 54mm scale figures.  I’m focusing on light troops, so Riflemen and Light Troops on the English side and Voltigeurs on the French side.  More figures as they become available.  Here’s the latest developments:

54mm Voltigeurs

A group of six Voltigeurs from the ALL THE KINGS MEN line. The figures are somewhat more slender and a teeny bit shorter than other figures I am using, either from ERTL or VICTRIX. I think they’ll be fine. Voltigeurs were French light skirmisher infantry and I think the poses show are just perfect for them.

French Voltigeur COMMAND GROUP of an officer and a bugler. This will be roughly the same function as the British officer and drummer on the other side. Leaders and order transmission are part of the design.

British high commander 54mm

British overall (high) commander. Used for morale recovery mostly. There will be a related French figure as soon as I find a suitable figure.

Rifles Officer 54mm

Rifles Officer 95th Rifles, 54mm. Officers on the field are important to organize troops into a firing line and order volleys. They also transmit higher orders and improve morale. This solitary Rifles officer almost looks uncomfortable among all the the Froggy light infantry.

That’s everything. I’ll try to add a few more pictures of these new troops matched against the existing ERTL and VICTRIX figures to give you an idea of how the new ATKM figures match against them. I now have about 11 voltigeur figures, one mounted officer that will do for a higher command figure for the French, about ten light infantry (British) and 8 rifles (British). I have enough to start testing the design now.

More to come on this project, stay tuned!

Custom SAGA Dice (again)


I’m liking SAGA a lot, because it’s a smallish scale skirmish game, which is what I like, and it’s Iron Age, which I also like, and really, I’m digging the SAGA dice concept– I’m even putting together a Viking Army and an Anglo Dane army.   The problem I have is a problem (apparently) a lot of people have, the dice are bloody expensive.  I’ve already re-blogged a WordPress post on making custom dice from Meeples and Miniatures.   I may just try this approach to have a “generic set of Saga Dice” for every army.  That will probably work to jump into the game with.  The “color for dice face” approach works but requires the user to compare a color to a symbol, so I’d probably add a few of these reference cards out to Players:

Dice Color Chart

All the factions in SAGA use the same 3-2-1 ratio for their runes. That means 3 faces green, 2 red and one yellow face. By substituting a color for the appropriate rune, you can use these dice for any of the factions. Compare color to runes using this card.

I like the simplicity of the Veni Vedi Vinci approach. You have to do a cross index with every roll, but eventually I suspect it would become second nature.

I’m also really intrigued by this method:

He just isn’t clear what exactly I’m asking them to copy for me at Kinkos. Is this a clear plastic sticky paper?

Since you can get colored dice in 16mm from Koplow, I think, this strikes me as an easy and painless way to get there. I’ll probably go with the color chart method to get started, since I’m lazy.