Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Victory Lost with Andrea, Turn 5

Turn 5: January 28th - February 5th. 

Carrying on from the earlier report (which can be found here) the current situation sees the Germans trying to do three things at once: keep a supply line open through Rostov for 1st Panzer Army's arrival from the south; set up a defensive line in the north; and prevent the fall of Stalino.

The first objective is achieved by virtue of a limited counterattack north of Rostov which holds off the 2nd Guards Army, but further north 5th Shock Army and 1st Guard army isolate and eliminate two divisions.

In the far north 6th Army and Popov's tank force destroy resistance east of Valuyki and take the city itself, but cannot dislodge the 268th infantry division from its position covering the road to Belgorod and thence Kharkov.  The infantry in this sector have, through their sacrifices, bought enough time for Kharkhov to be reinforced and have kept the armies in the north from advancing as quickly as the Soviet command would have wished.

Kempf is unable to extricate himself from a precarious position around Starobilsk, where the 7th and 19th Panzer divisions find themselves subject to a series of attacks by 3rd and 5th Tank Armies resulting in 7th Panzer being destroyed and 19th Panzer forced to fall back on the infantry support. To compound the difficulties, elements of Popov's command turn south from Valuyki to put Kempf's three remaining divisions out of supply.

Towards the end of the first week of February, 13th Tank liberates Stalino from German control, but strong German reinforcements arrive in preparation for a counter attack.

The Germans will have six chits in the cup next turn - two of which will be the magic Manstein chits - but it will be a difficult task to hold off the Soviets long enough to get 1st Panzer Army and Kempf's men out of danger while still be able to form a front capable of holding Kharkov and recapturing Stalino.

9 German infantry divisions eliminated.
4 German panzer divisions flipped.
4 German panzer divisions eliminated.
1 Victory city liberated.
1 Soviet tanks division eliminated.  VPs 21-26

Below is a screenshot of the map showing units in place.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ancients Campaign Rules: Economy.

Way back in 2007 I cobbled together a set of rules intended to link the strategic level game Pax Romana with Commands and Colors: Ancients in a grand campaign.  Of course, I made the rules far too complicated and could never get anyone interested in playing them, so they got put on the backburner.

But having recently had my interest piqued by posts around the traps and by participation in a multiplayer sci-fi campaign being run by a fellow blogger, I've decided that my next project should be to develop a game that combines a multiplayer strategic overview suitable for umpired email play and a zoom-in tactical game, with the latter quick enough to be completed in the time it takes to play a couple of matches of tic-tac-toe.

I have the tactical game mostly organised, so I'm now thinking about how to get the strategic game sorted out.

I want there to be diplomacy, conquest, a simple civ-building aspect, an economic structure, and multiple ways to gain victory points.

The economic engine will connect the various parts of the game together, so the first thing - and the subject of this post - is to get that right.

Income will be derived from towns, cities, province control and control of special areas.  As a rough guide, a city should generate enough income to keep an army in the field.

Supply will come from province control.  One home province should generate enough supply for one army; two secondary provinces should provide enough for another.  I'm thinking that it should cost progressively more in supplies to maintain armies that are farther afield.

It will cost money to build outposts, towns, and cities, with the idea being that it will take around three turns of income to recoup the initial build costs.

Income sources:

1 talent for each town controlled.
1 talent for each province controlled.
1 talent for each region controlled, where a region comprises all the provinces within a particular area, such as Italy, Iberia, etc.
1 extra talent for control of especially wealthy provinces.
2 talents for each city controlled.


1 talent to build an outpost.
1 talent to pay for the upkeep of an existing army.
1 talent to raise reinforcements for an army or fleet.
1 talent to fund a campaign into unfriendly territory.
2 talents to raise a new army or fleet.
2 talents to pay for the upkeep of a fleet.
2 talents to convert an outpost into a town.
4 talents to convert a town into a city.

Supply sources:

1 supply per province.
1 extra supply for especially bountiful provinces.
1 extra supply for ravaging a province.
1 supply per city
2 supplies per home province.

Supply expenditure:

1 supply to upkeep a fleet.
2 supplies to upkeep an army, with 1 extra supply for every two provinces it is distant from a home region.

As an example, a player controlling an Italy made up of three provinces would gain 2 talents from Rome, 3 talents for the 3 provinces, and 1 talent for controlling all provinces in the region.  These 6 talents would pay for the upkeep of two armies, would allow 1 talent to fund a campaign, and would allow 3 talents to be invested in town, fleet, or army building.

That player would receive 1 supply from the city, 2 from the province of Rome, and 2 more from the other two provinces in Italy for a total of 5.  4 of these would be spent on army upkeep and 1 could be spent to fund an army campaigning outside Italy.

The phases of the turn are as follows, with with income/payment phases bolded:

1) Collect supplies and income and pay upkeep.
2) Recruitment and campaign funding phase.
3) Movement phase.
4) Civ build phase.
5) Victory point phase.

And repeat.

So there we have the economic basis, though it will no doubt be tweaked as I go...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Victory Lost with Andrea, Turns 1-4

Here is the start of my PBEM game of A Victory Lost, played with Andrea. You can read the background here

Turn 1: December 17th - 27th. 

Hungarian 2nd Army comes out of the cup first, which sees the Germans change their positions slightly in the north.  In response, 1st Guard Army sees the opportunity to strike south, either catching the 27th panzer division at Millerovo or heading east to pocket Rumanian 3rd Army and put it out of supply.

5th Shock and 2nd Guard armies drive west and southwest respectively, catching 4th Panzer Army and taking a step off one of the panzer divisions.  Rumanian 3rd army falls back towards Millerovo, where 27th Panzer is attacked by advance elements of 1st Guard Army, losing a step in the retreat.

The Germans are in a critical position.  Hollidt's men have not moved and are in danger of being destroyed piecemeal.  Further south F-Pico takes over command in 4th Panzer Army's sector in the hope that he will be able to extricate the divisions there, where 17th Panzer is out of supply, from their difficulties.

The situation in the north is reasonably secure, as 1st Guard has gone south.

1 German infantry division eliminated.
2 German panzer divisions flipped.  VPs 25-1.

Turn 2: December 28th - Jan 7th.

Hollidt launches a counterattack to free the 17th Panzer division trapped at Kotelnikovo.  It is a brave but unlucky attempt, and the division is destroyed soon after.  Near Millerovo the 27th Panzer division is also caught and eliminated by 1st Guard army, and another infantry division with it.

Enough time is bought however for a line to be established - flimsy though it may be - on the Donets.  There is stiff resistance put up in the south but 5th Shock and 2nd Gds Armies continue their march.

2 German infantry division eliminated.
2 German panzer divisions flipped.
2 German panzer divisions eliminated.  VPs 25-8

Turn 3: January 8th - January 17th.

Some bold work from Hollidt and F-Pico sees the remaining panzer divisions in the south make it to safety.  Unfortunately, they are not able to prevent the Soviets from getting across the Donets.  3rd Guards army is in the process of clearing the pockets of resistance behind the lines.  Progress is slow in the north, but the Soviets are able to get some tank units across the river which sets them up for a drive in the following weeks.

4 German infantry division eliminated.
2 German panzer divisions flipped.
2 German panzer divisions eliminated.  VPs 25-10

Turn 4: January 18th - January 27th.

A bloody fight is developing over the Donets, with another panzer division destroyed and Rostov captured.  Kempf launches a feint in the north, and while the Soviets scramble to respond an inspirational counterattack (devised by Manstein himself) recaptures Rostov and opens the road for the reinforcing 1st Panzer army coming up from the south.

3rd Tank Army's arrival in the north coincides with an assault on the remaining Axis forces in that sector, opening the railway lines and allowing reinforcements to reach Millerovo.

The situation is (as it almost always is in this game) delicately poised!

6 German infantry divisions eliminated.  
2 German panzer divisions flipped.
3 German panzer divisions eliminated.  VPs 25-15

My Favourite Games: A Victory Lost

One of my favourite boardgames is MMP's A Victory Lost.  Designed by Tetsuya Nakamura, its subject matter is the Soviet counter-offensive launched as Paulus' 6th Army was in its death throes at Stalingrad.  The game starts on Dec 17th, 1942, goes through nine turns, each lasting about 10 days, and finishes on around March 18th, 1943.  It thus includes Manstein's famous 'backhand blow' that stabilized the German front.

The game is very simple: blind pull HQ chit from cup, activate units within range of the HQ, move, fight if desired, pull next chit.  The Germans start the first turn with only 3 chits in the cup while the Soviets always have 4.  As the game goes on and German reinforcements arrive, the German chit count goes up, 4 per turn in turns 2 and 3, 5 in turns 4 and 5, 6 in turns 6 and 7, and then they reduce again to 5 and 4 for the final two turns.  They are also aided by Manstein, whose chit, when pulled, can activate any German HQ.  By turn 6 there are two Manstein chits in play, so they can get quite a bit of momentum going.

The Soviets also have some special rules for their chits.  They have STAVKA, which activates all Soviet HQs at once and is obviously very powerful; but to balance this, at the start of the game the Soviets must secretly select 6 of the 12 HQ chits they have available, with the others being discarded.  The discarded HQs stay on the map but cannot be put into the chit cup.  This means that the Soviet player may only put combinations of these 6 chits into the cup.  One of them of course will be STAVKA, but as you can imagine, deciding which of the others to ready for action makes for some interesting choices.  You will often find that you'd like to have x HQ chit in the cup, but if you didn't choose that one early on, tough luck!  The later game can become a nightmare if you are unable to activate the HQs you'd like.

The game is won by controlling territory and eliminating enemy units.  The five victory cities are worth 5 VPs for whoever controls them.  The Soviets get 1VP for each German (not allied) infantry unit eliminated and 3VP for each panzer or motorized division knocked out.  The Germans get 1VP for each Soviet tank unit they destroy.

The Germans have the advantage of interior lines, greatly superior mobility, powerful panzer divisions and more flexible commands, but the Soviets have numbers and surprise on their side.  It's a very different game depending on which side you play, and even though the rules are simple there is great depth to the strategy.  The usual pattern is for the Germans to get pounded for the first three or four turns, but if they can survive that early stage their powerful reinforcements and increasing chit count will allow them to launch some fearsome counterattacks without the Soviets being able to do very much about it.

The game I'm playing now is with my Italian play-by-email buddy, Andrea.  No matter what game we play, not only is he a thorough gentleman, but he's also a tough and determined opponent.  Although this is his first time playing the Germans (and it really helps to have had experience with them before to be able to play the Germans well) he has handled the situation with no little skill.

This is the set up.  The Soviets' main strength is in the 1st Guard Army, 5th Shock Army and 2nd Guard Army regions.  The Germans have to decide which three HQs they will put in the cup.  Do they try to pull back in the north or concentrate on getting their panzer divisions out of danger in the south?  It can be a tricky choice.

Cities in red type are VP cities.  It's also worth checking out the roadways (crucial for fast movement) and the railway lines (which bring reinforcements).  Bridges across the river are of course very important, as are the supply sources (see symbols in the north for the Soviets; in the west for the Germans). 

You can find the report on turns one to four here.  Hope you enjoy!

Friday, February 3, 2012

(Note the edit!) Comparing Tin Soldier and Xyston Gallic Infantry

In response to some interest shown in the last post on Gauls, here are some photos showing Xyston and Tin Soldier Gauls in close proximity. 

Do note though that I'm using the older packs of Xyston Gauls (18250 and 18251, now recombined into 20036).  I don't know what the ones from the newer packs are like.  If you want the Xyston packs I have, go to Brookhurst Hobbies which has them on special at the moment.

Tin Soldier chaps are on the ends with square bases; Xyston in the centre with oval bases. 

You'll notice that there's actually quite a bit of variety in height between the tallest and the shortest of the Xyston.  The taller ones are an almost perfect match for the Tin Soldier fellows; the shorter Xyston are a little smaller.

In this picture below you can see the difference between a TS standard and Xyston's shortest. (2nd and 3rd figures from the right, respectively).

And again, without the foreshortening.

Some shots from the rear...

Swords are of the same length, and shields match very well.  In the picture below the top row of shields is all Xyston, the bottom TS.

For my money the two ranges go together very well.  I've gone for a ratio of about 5 packs of TS for every 2 of Xyston, and am pretty sure I'll be very happy with the finished army.  If you want a price comparison, TS are GBP 2 a pack, Xyston are GBP 3.50.

Be warned that for cavalry all bets are off - you can't mix 'em, it's as simple as that.  Tin Soldier are close to 20mm (In fact I would have no problems using them with other 20mm) and the Xyston seem a little smaller than their own infantry.

Here's a link to the TS page showing the various figures they have in their Gallic range.

Any questions or any other shots you'd like to see, fire away!

EDIT - a chap on TMP vigorously disagrees with my assessment, so I took another look.

Here are shots of more of the TS figures mixed in with Xyston (TS have the square bases):

He is partly right - the armoured TS Gauls are definitely bigger than the other sets in their range and do not mix well with the Xyston.  Those are packs C3 & C4.  I still maintain the other packs are a good mix; though the wide-faced fellows of C10 and C11 may not be everyone's cup of tea.

So, I recommend packs C5, C9, C12 unhesitatingly.  Packs C8, C10 and C11 suit me but may not suit others.  Packs C3 and C4 are probably too big.  The naked Gaesati types I don't know, as I didn't pick any up.

Thanks to General Montcalm for his thoughts!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Boxes of Goodness, 1

My pre-Christmas orders are being separated into their various lots.  This is my Gallic army, made up of the very nice Tin Soldier and Xyston infantry (which match each other superbly) and Xyston cavalry.  I'm not quite so impressed with the cavalry - it's going to be a mission getting them to fit properly on their horses, by the looks of it - but it should be a fine army when it's finished.

I really like the figures in the Tin Soldier Gallic range (and their service was excellent).  Unfortunately, while lovely figures, the cavalry was closer to 20mm in size, hence the decision to use Xyston for the mounted.

I'm quite excited about getting a paintbrush to these fellows as I've been needing Gauls for a long time.  I will be using the beautiful painting of Scott MacPhee as my model, but I fear I shall fall some way short of his high standards!

There's also the small matter of finding the time to do them!  Never mind; rainy days and all that...

Before I finish, I'd like to again mention the wonderful customer service of Judy at Tin Soldier and Larry at Brookhurst Hobbies.  They have been very helpful to me at all times, despite the inconvenience I no doubt cause them.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...