Saturday 27 April 2019

One in the eye for King George

We generally avoid skirmish gaming, but Tim came across an interesting set of card driven AWI rules on the interweb (Fistful of Lead - Horse and Musket) and thought they were worth a go . FFoL was originally designed as a western gunfight game, but seems to have been successfully ported to other periods.

Tim owns a fine collection of 54mm eighteenth century figures, so off to the colonies we went.

King Georges men, ten 54mm figures from various sources organised into two groups of five. The chap wielding a tomahawk is the NCO. The British very unfairly had bayonets, which gave them an edge in close combat.

The heroic rebels. Their leader bore a suspicious resemblance to Benjamin Franklin, and they also had one figure armed with a rifle, inevitably christened Dave Crockett.

The British task was to escort this supply wagon along the road. It rattled along at a fair old pace, 10" a turn! The figures were activated individually in card order, and some of the cards had special effects (e.g. a two allowed shooting dice to be rolled twice). Within each group you could choose which figure to lay a card on, which produced some interesting tactical decisions as some of the better special card actions had lower numbers.

One half of the rebels was lurking in the woods, they were placed on table as they activated.

Musketry broke out. Davy Crockett distinguished himself with a hit on his first shot, then looked at the rules for how long it took to reload a rifle. Yikes! Fortunately I'd cunningly played a six on him, so he reloaded in short order.

More of my chaps with conventional muskets opened up from the tree line. It was surprisingly easy to get sucked into long range ineffective firefights as each figure got two actions, so 'fire' and 'reload' seemed very obvious things to do. Never mind moving, or aiming,,,

The British also got a bit stuck blazing away as the wagon edged along. One of my chaps went down wounded, but most of the British escorts were no well behind the wagon. Wounds incapacitated a figure until they could roll to recover and operate at a penalty. Some cards allowed a wound to remove, but generally they hung around, three wounds being enough to permanently eliminate a figure

Some American musketry frightened away the horse holder, and one of our plucky rebs ran out to grab the reins. If a 'hit' was scored, there was a 50:50 chance it would just frighten the enemy, who would run away to cover and then have to recover.

Meanwhile some British troops who had earlier fallen back into the tree line were sorting themselves out. These figures had all been 'scared'. They also had unloaded musket so needed to reload.

A couple of my chaps seized their chance and grabbed the reins of the wagon, leading it off towards the woods.

Sadly the wagon got stuck in the mud, and a hail of British musketry forced one of my men to fall back, while the the fell wounded.

The British were busy sorting themselves out but by now two of their men had been killed and various others were wounded.

Our chaps were relatively unscathed, one killed and one wounded (we'd played a lot of Queens to remove wounds). Two of Jerrys men ('Hat Man' and 'Ben Franklin' respectively) were cowering in the wood line, but as the redcoats had firmly lost contact with their wagon with little chance of retaking it, we called it a day at that point.

The British would undoubtedly return to collect their wagon at some point, but for now it was victory to the rebels. A real pity that the wagon mainly contained wig powder and a painting of King George.

That was really good fun, and an interesting take on the card activation system which worked very well. I can see why the game system has been around for some years, and I'm sure we'll play it again.

Saturday 20 April 2019

I have been to... Uruguay

The final installment of our South American odessey was a brief visit to Uruguay. We called in at Montevideo and Punta Del Este.

Just outside the port area was a monument to the Graf Spee.

The Graf Spee is here (if you look very carefully you may spot the buoy). Until ten years ago, bits of it were still visible but sadly no longer.

This rather grand range finder is still around though. More on that later.

Montevideo was a real delight. Very low rise, stuffed with classical Spanish colonial buildings and very liberal and relaxed. The Amsterdam of Latin America.

Some beautiful 1930s buildings.

Jose Artigas, hero of Uruguayan independance. Garibaldi later helped a hand to keep Uruguay independant. He certainly got around.

We finally took the opportunity to try some Mate. Umm. An acquired taste I think.

The main square, with both the old and new presidential palaces.

Artigas tomb. This was built by the military dictatorship.

An old Spanish artillery bastion on the coast.

The Catedral Ingles. There was a large British community here in the nineteenth century.

And back to the Graf Spee.

This is one of the anchors. It looks just like the one on the Airfix kit!

The stereoscopic range finder with me alongside to give an idea of size. It was really huge huge. Laying hands upon it was also another addition to my coup counting of 'bits of old battleships'.   

There were other bits of dockyard equipment around, like this steam crane. 

And a rather larger crane.

A statue of a stevedore.

The Uruguayan navy was also much in evidence.

They seem to have rather more ships than the Royal Navy at the moment!

I've got no idea what types ships these are. I suspect some of them are quite old.

Over in Punta Del Este is this memorial to the Battle of the River Plate. The anchor is supposedly from HMS Ajax. The portaloo rather detracts from it. The battle was actually fought off the coast here.

This stone marks the boundary where the River Plate ends and the Atlantic begins.

We also went to the Ralli mjuseum, which was a  large private modern art collection, similar to the Guggenheim in Venice.

They had an extensive collection of Dali sculptures.

As well as various other modern artists.

Bizarrely there was a Beryl Cook special exhibition!

Other bits of Punta del Este were less salubrious.

I was rather taken with this vintage truck though.

Some of the coastline was pretty rugged, reminiscent of the west coast of the UK.

While other bits had a very tropical feel (there were lots of very, very expensive holiday homes over in this bit).

So, Uruguay was an unexpected delight. Highly recommended (apart from the horrific data roaming charges).

Friday 12 April 2019

Operation Vengence

John put on another WW2 Air game in the Pacific, this time based on the assassination of Admiral Yamamoto, Operation Vengence.

Following intel from Ultra decrypts, specially adapted P-38 Lightnings made a 600 mile flight from Guadalcanal  to Bougainville. 18 of them provided top cover against the dozens of Zeros based nearby, while four aircraft intercepted Yamamotos flight.

Tim got to represent the Rising Sun, while I got the Americans.

The general area of operations. Bougainville is the great big island in front, and the P-38s are coming in at low altitude under the radar over the sea.

Yamamotos flight was two Bettys escorted by half a dozen Zeros. Tim brought the Japanese flags, so he got to play Japan.

I had two green P-38s and two silver ones.

I do like a Lightening In Pz8 air combat, these are pretty good planes, fast, heavily armed and with an excellent ceiling. It is just a shame they are outnumberd 2:1!

Most of my flight held back, gainig altitiude and looking to get on the tials of the Japanese planes. One spotted an opening and dashed for the nearest Betty at full throttle,  but sadly missed its deflection shot and in turn was shot up and demaged bv a swarm of Zeros.

Its wingmate made no such mistake and managed to trail the Betty and down it in a single pass. First blood to the US.

Things weren't going so well in other area as another P38 was damaged....

Then downed by more Zeros. Tim decided to mark the occasion in typically restrained fashion.

One of my other P-38s managed to push through the the fighter screen and make an attack in the second Betty, which it damaged. In turn the Lightning was damaged in a hail of air-air gunnery.

Two of my damaged planes set off in pursuit of the damaged bomber. Even thought they were damaged, they had a speed advantage and closed in steadily.

One even managed to get on the Bettys' tail.

But sadly missed, and was in turn shot down. This loss was marked in the traditional manner.

To add insult to injury, a third P-38 went down.

Yet another big flag.

So that last Betty escaped and limped over to the airfield on the Island, while my one (damaged) P-38 headed for home, 400 miles away. 

Ah well, in real life the US only lost one P-38, although all the others which returned were damaged, the worst with over 100 holes in it. They also shot down both bombers, although Yamamotos Chief of Staff in the second plane survived the crash. 

Happily for freedom and democracy, it turned out that we'd downed the unfortunate Admiral in the first bomber over the jungle, so historical verity was restored. I hope he had time to get his sword out, as he did in real life.