Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The bomber will always get through!

Or will it?  This game followed on from the WW1 playtest and featured some of the new-fangled monoplane tri-motor bombers you may have heard about.  This pair were on their way to bomb the same target as previously.
Unfortunately for them it also featured some new-fangled monoplane fighters.  I can't see those enclosed cockpits catching on.
On flew the bombers...

...skirting the barrage balloon...
...but what's this?  Tally Ho!
One bomber was hit by party popper AA fire.

Target in sight - bombs away!
As they left the area of play the fighters finally managed to intercept.  The striking thing about this game was that until the final turn the bombers ran rings round the more agile fighters.  Maybe they will always get through.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Aces (three feet) High

This was a playtest of some mechanisms which will see the light of day in a future set of rules.  I set up a WW1-era gun battery (above) as a target.  The old Britains 18in howitzer skulks in a position made from the sandbag positions I mentioned a few weeks ago here.
The field of battle.
The defenders also had an AA battery, and OP scanning the skies...
...and of course a barrage balloon.  First one to say it looks uncannily like a plastic bottle covered in duct tape wins a trip to the Gulag...

The attackers appeared  - a two-seater bomber being escorted by a fighter.  The defenders scrambled two fighters, one of which soon came under fire!

The bomber made a decent attempt on the target...
...but was soon dodging bullets.

I'll have more news on the mechanisms used when I have written the rest of the game.  Suffice to say it didn't involve dice.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Sedan - European Road Trip Day 3

One aspect of travelling in Eastern France (and indeed Belgium) is that every road sign is laden with historical meaning.  Following signs marked 'Sedan' was very evocative as the locale has featured in several wars.  Perhaps most notably it was the scene of Louis-Napoleon's shattering defeat in 1870.  I strongly recommend Emile Zola's 'The Debacle' for a French view of the campaign.
Sedan is shut on a Monday.  Guess which day we were there...  One thing which does open on Mondays is the castle.  Or rather the Chateau-Fort.  This place is truly vast and was for a time the largest castle in Europe.  Used by the French army until 1962, part of the building is now an hotel!

There is much to see and a signposted tour takes in ramparts of various ages and several interior displays.

This vigilant chap looked as if he'd been there a while.

Spot the Command Bus!  Some of those ramparts are quite high.

One of the internal exhibits is this rather lovely model of Sedan c1840.  Just crying out for a wargame...

Most of M. Vauban's pointy fortifications are angled toward the wicked Germans.  Much good that did in 1870...

Monday, 12 June 2017

A Great War?

A couple of weeks ago we made our second attempt at this game.  First time out we played through a couple of turns just to get the hang of the mechanisms so this time we had hopes of making good progress with the war!
We managed to assemble a full set of five players who, as far as I recall, were as follows:
GB & USA - Tim C
Russia - Martin
France & Italy - John 
Germany - Jerry
Austria & Ottoman Empire - your humble correspondent
I opted for the declining empires as I figured this would leave me plenty of time for furiously leafing through the rules!  More ominously Martin volunteered to be the Tsar as he expected to be leaving early...
Things started well for Austria with a successful punitive campaign against the wicked Serbs.  I was then able to overrun the rest of the Balkans.
The Russians seemed more concerned with the Germans while the Italians took a while to get going.  So some acceptable history!
Things picked up further when the Turks came out to play - even that Russian fleet in the Black Sea didn't rain on my parade.
Speaking of fleets, it was soon possible to cross the Adriatic by stepping from hull to hull across a line of Austrian ironclads. The Italians were further incensed by the failure of the 93rd battle of the Isonzo which let me (well OK, Rommel) into North Italy.
By now the Russians seemed to be in retreat in the west, if not in the east...

The Kaiser and I still had a comfortable lead.  41 VPs to the Allies' 31.
The US presence was starting to take effect - a rather longer chain of dreadnoughts than that in the Adriatic had formed in the Atlantic!
Did I mention that it's a visually pleasing game?
We wrapped things up at the end of 1917.  The Brits had made a success of Gallipoli and the Russians were in Armenia so the Turks were on the way out.  And I'd run out of cards!  But still the Central Powers clung to victory.
It's a very nice game - easy to pick up and with lots of nice little touches.  For such a high level and abstract game the grim realities of attrition battles are well represented.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Charleville-Mezieres & Montherme - European Road Trip Day 2, part 2

OK - so no military stuff in this post but some nice bits of France.  Heading further south and following signs for Sedan and Verdun we stopped for a stroll about and lunch in Charleville-Mezieres.
Spot the Command Bus!

Our overnight stop was a few km north by the Meuse in Montherme.

It was busy though - with both motorhomes and boats competing for electric hook-up points.  Happily our van can happily function 'off-grid'.  Still, a very nice parking spot for only 3 Euros!