MINI WARGAMING: MWS Meeting AAR (19 May 2007)
May's MWSS (Miniatures Wargaming Society of Sacramento - usually just called MWS) meeting was a good one: decent attendance, several games, and, best of all, lots of good company, royal socializing, and great camaraderie!
And the attendance was:
- Don Delis
- Greg M.
- Joe B.
- The Keith
- Maksim-Smelchak (me!)
- Mark C.
- Mike O'Brien
- Mike Warde
- Mike Werner
- Richard M.
So, without wasting too many words, here's the straight and skinny:
1. 15mm Fantasy Skirmish Battle
"The Sins of Squeelax"
HOST: Mark Carper
RULESET: Savage Worlds
- Mark C.: The One-Pip Clan Orcs
- Richard M.: Raoul Romero's Undead Posse
- Fantasy undead meet orcs and hash it out... tough to say who came out on top. Mark and Richard have been playtesting the Savage Worlds Showdown ruleset.
Mark Carper and I continued our apprenticeship as Savage Worlds Showdown players on Saturday. Using Mark’s excellent terrain and figures, we fought a one-off battle using the rules for magic for the first time. The match-up was a700-point, smack-‘em-‘til-they-run punch up between members of the One Pip Clan of Orcs and the undead forces of the evil necromancer, Romero.
The Orcs were ensconced in a battle camp under the command of Beergut the Magnificent with retinue, Beergut was supported by the Orc Hero, Squilax the Unsavory and a squad of nasty, big Orcs under the command of Captain Stan the…er…ummm...Orc. There was also a mixed squad of swords orcs and archers representing the Home Guard.
Romero’s forces consisted of a large squad of skeleton archers, two squads of skeleton warriors, a squad of wraiths with big swords, and, of course, Romero.
Romero, the necromancer, makes a short-lived stand at the bridge.
Early in the game Romero found himself face-to-face with Stan on a stone bridge that spanned the Orc-fouled river. After Stan took a good whack at him, Romero decided to teleport far away from Stan’s blade. Meanwhile, his archers, who were making for some high ground over the camp, effectively reduced the Orc archers with three quick (i.e. lucky) kills. Stan’s Orcs jumped the river and engaged the wraiths in a record-setting slapfight. Initially, the Orcs ‘killed’ the most popular of the wraiths, Dale, but the remainder of their time together was spent in harmless swordplay.
Beergut and his boyz arrived over the bridge in support of Stan and together they started whittling down the skeleton warriors. Over by the hill, the second squad of Skellies were being turned into doggie snacks by the Orcs Home Guard. The skeleton archers made it to the top of the hill during that fracas and started plinking. One of the Home Guard homies climbed the hill intending to put an end to their archery practice but his efforts only garnered him a few souvenir arrows to take with him to the next world (the arrows were all lettered with advertising for Romero’s Bar and Restaurant, “The Mausoleum,” and stating that “Tuesdays are Zombie night! Come by for a bite.”
The center of the battlefield, Undead on the left, Orcs on the right.
Romero tried his hand at magic by summoning the Fog of Death but it was too slow to catch the wily Orcs. Then, when faced with the fearsome Squilax, who had been running back and forth across the battlefield looking for a worthy target, he unleashed his Bolts of Awesome Power. Much to his surprise, these worked really well. After putting the exhausted Squilax out of action, he began zapping Stan’s boyz. Beergut and Stan, seeing their supervisees getting blasted into drifting mist and noticing the unmolested skeleton archers were taking aim from their hill, decided they had better consult their tribal Shaman before making another attempt on Romero and his undead. They quit the field vowing to return with wolves to chew up and bury the Skellies.
It was a fun game and could have gone either way but for Mark’s propensity tor oll 1s when he least needed them. The rules are becoming more natural for us and we’re picking up some of the finer points of the game, too. (<== Means we are reading *all* the rules…)
The Savage Worlds Showdown rules are quite flexible and can be used for any skirmish wargame of any period. They are similar to GASLIGHT in concept but very different in execution. Definitely worth a look.
Sure, Squilax makes one poopie upstream and the whole danged river is now "orc-fouled".Maksim's (my) thoughts:
I tell ya, we get no respect.
Thanks for the game Dick!
Mark tells me he made The Maksimian Pass from some items I gave him and that's cool, but I don't remember giving them to him. It was either a long time ago or I'm getting old...
2. 1/1,250 American Civil War Ironclads Naval Battle
"Union vs. Rebels: Kegger On the Ol' Miss"
"The Rescue of Vicksberg OR The Irony of Ironclads"
ACW Ironclads Fracas.
Photo by: Mike Werner.
HOST: Mike Werner
RULESET: Naval Wargames Society (U.K.) + Homebrew Rules Hybrid
- Chris: Union
- The Keith: Union
- Bernie: Confederate
- Mike O.: Confederate
- Mike Werner: Gamemaster
- A Union ironclad fleet took on a Rebel Ironclad fleet on the 'Ol Miss during the American Civil War. Mike Werner was playtesting some rules and looking for feedback. The game looked like great fun and the two fleets really shot each other up. The Confederates won.
Mike Werner's battle report:
Mike Werner's reflections on the rules:
Report on the ACW River Battle:
The setting was 1863 on the broad Mississippi. The Confederates were successful in getting all four ironclads in the water and grouped together, along with two armed support ships/rams and a tug. They were going to try to relieve Vicksburg but need to clear any opposition along the way.
Opposing them were an evenly matched group of Union ships. The rules were a modified set from the Naval Wargames Society (U.K.),which are medium level complexity - not nearly as complicated (or realistic) as "Smoke on the Water" or "Iron and Fire" but more complicated (and realistic) than "A Hotter Fire".
Union Mississippi R. Squadron:
USS Switzerland, Tyler, Cairo, Essex, Benton & Chillicothe.
Photo by: M. Werner.
The two opposing set of ships exchanged early ineffective long distance fire with an unfortunate hit on the pilothouse of the CSS Queen of the West (cottonclad). This ship swung to the starboard and quickly ran aground. While stuck, the USS Switzerland (ram) rushed in and smashed into the side of the cottonclad causing major hull damage and destroying the port paddle wheel. The
confederate commander chose to stay aground and fire back at the ram destroying the guns of the ram.
Meanwhile, the ironclads of both sides closed to within the range necessary to penetrate armor. As the groups came together, Confederate ram attempts narrowly failed. In fact, the CSS Arkansas almost rammed the CSS Easport (ironclads). The opposing ships also had several near collisions as they passed each other and fired away.
Both sides experienced damage and gun losses. The CSS Stonewall Jackson (cottonclad) and USS Tyler (timberclad) also put up amazing fights for such weakly protected ships. Although the CSS Stonewall Jackson lost its forward gun and received a number of hits in the same area and penetrating but shots through its superstructure, it did serious damage with its single deck mounted and exposed 100 lb rifle to several ships, including the sinking the Union tug.
In contrast, and unfortunately for the Union, the USS Indianola (ironclad) with largest guns in the battle - 11" smoothbores - couldn't seem to get a hit despite several firings. There was one accidental collision towards the end between the USS Benton and CSS Mobile (ironclads) as they traveled in opposite directions but no damage was sustained. In penetrating armor and doing damage, the Confederate 6.3" rifles and 9" smoothbores had better success than the Union's 9" and 42 lb smoothbores. The Union's 100 lb rifles did do some serious damage though.
The end result on the Union side was the USS Essex (ironclad), USS Tyler, and USS Switzerland had serious gun loss but were still in thefight. The USS Indianola was still in the fight and untouched. The USS Benton and USS Cairo (ironclads) were still very strong with only minor gun loss but had pilothouse damage and were temporarily out of control and heading to run aground. Whether they would be able to get off and back into the fight without assistance from the tug or other ship was questionable.
The end result on the Confederate side was the CSS Queen of the West heavily damaged and aground, the CSS Stonewall Jackson had the loss of its forward gun and had sustained pilothouse damage but was back under control. The CSS Mobile had some gun damage and fire damage for several minutes but the fire was out. The CSS Arkansas, CSS Tennessee I, and CSS Eastport (ironclads) had minor gun damage and were still in the fight. The Confederate tug was still in the fight too. The battle was far from over but the Union ships were in serious trouble.
However, both sides agreed that the victory went to the Confederates. Vicksburg would be relieved! A good game by all!
With some game playing experience of the NWS rules under my belt, I spent a couple of hours comparing the NWS rules to the other sets of rules.
Tables of guns vs armor:
All of the ACW Ironclad wargames have some kind of table for matching guns vs armor. This is the most critical historical element of naval wargames in this era. The NWS rules seemed reasonable - the rifles could penetrate at a longer distance than the smoothbores and both could penetrate weaker armor at a longer distance. For a game played with 1/1,250 scale of the ship miniatures, the distances at which this occurred seemed pretty reasonable. For faster ACW gameplay in the future, I would eliminate ranges beyond 36 inches and the larger guns used by ships in the 1870s/80s. The tables could then be consolidated into one page and make play faster.
Turn radius circles:
Some games use small turn circles, hexes, or just have the players move straight then turn an angle appropriate to the ship size. I developed turn circles from the NWS rules based on this latter concept. They seemed to be to scale and were not that hard to use. So, I wouldn't change these.
Some games have the players roll dice to determine a hit and then add or subtract modifiers to the die roll for short or long distance and other factors. Personally, I don't really care to work through tables of die roll modifiers in games. So, I found the range table in NWS a rather neat concept. However, the table does need to account for ships that are have the bow or stern ends facing the gun and are harder to hit. So, in future game play; such ships should have the target rate increased by one, i.e., a 2nd rate becomes a 3rd rate target when end on to the target.
Some of the other games use a standard one-size-fits-all table for determining damage. The more complicated table in NWS rules is the element I questioned. However, while simple, a one-size-fits-all table just does not reflect the strange variety of ship types with different profiles in the era. For example, a monitor with a single turret just cannot have the same damage table as a long ironclad casemate ship or a converted merchant paddleboat with guns mounted exposed on the deck. As it turned out, the table does fairly well represent the ship profiles. I may tweek it a bit but not much.In addition, the table should also be modified to be correct for bow or stern end-on fire hits. Maybe this could be accomplished in a simple extra table with just one die for end-on fire hits. Lastly, the hits to pilot houses and funnels seemed to be out of proportion to their physical size. Maybe these hits should be toned down a bit by the secondary die. This said, one of the game rule sets does have a series of tables for different types of vessel profiles, end-on fire, and critical hits that may also be adaptable or copied.
Morale & Other:
Some of the other games have modifiers or die rolls for morale, captain traits, crew quality, repairs, armor slope, gun deviation, frequency of misfires, critical crew being killed, etc. I think these would add to the time required to take each turn without adding significant value.
Overall, I think the NWS rules still represent the best combination of playability and historical feel. I would recommend in future games that that at least the gun vs armor range table be given to a designated "gunner" for each side. He can be checking for armor penetration while somebody else is checking the damage table. Also, I would recommend rolling three dice at the same time during the damage roll phase. A red die to determine hit on the range chart and two different colored dice for the actual damage.
Mike O.'s thoughts:
I also agree with you that the low percentage shots should be limited, since it slowed the game down. I do think the firing tables need to be simplified and made accessable for the players. I don't like the idea of a "gunner." If the rules are easy enough to understand then a player should be able to walk through them on their own.
Mike Werner's other thoughts:
One thing I didn't address in the previous post is the damage methodology under which damage is inflicted to enemy guns according to the gun shot weight of the gun being fired, e.g., a 24 lb shot does 24damage points to enemy guns such that a large gun is harder to destroy. With the wide range of guns in an ACW game, this is pretty good methodology that seems more realistic than the other ACW rule sets that would just inflicting one damage per hit and each gun being able to be knocked out by one hit and have a 12 lb gun capable of knocking out a 100 lb rifle. Perhaps the same methodology could be adapted to below waterline damage such that a larger gun would do more damage than a smaller gun?
Lastly, what did players think about writing ship instructions down and moving simultaneously vs not writing down instructions and just taking turns? Keep in mind that the average max ship speed was 6 kts, which is 6 inches. Ramming attacks may be more successful if not writing down instructions. However, since the time period per turn is just one minute, would this much flexibility to change directions in response to enemy movement be unrealistic?
First of all, thanks for putting on a great game, I enjoyed it. I believe that it had the feel of that style of fighting and that's important for historical gamers. Some ideas for your consideration:
- Pilot house hits shouldonlybe on a doubles roll like 3-3. That will cut the number of those hits in half.
- Funnels were pretty large targets, you might not want to change that one.
- Don't change the movement system. A lot of the game's charm comes from the uncertainty.
Ya, it was a good game. I wonder, what if d10's were used instead of d6's?
Also, here is a site I found covering excavations of ships lost on theMississippi. You can also Google Ghost Boats of the Mississippi.
More photos of this game can be found here:
3. 15mm American War of Independence Battle
LEE'S VOLUNTEERS: Light Cavalry and skirmishers covered the American flank.
Photo by: M. Warde.
HOST: Mike O'Brien
RULESET: Guns of Liberty
- Greg M.: British
- Mark C.: British
- Mike O.: Gamemaster
- Don Delis: American Revolutionary
- Mike Warde: American Revolutionary
- Mike Werner: American Revolutionary
- British vs. American Revolutionaries during the American War for Independence. The British gave the Americans "what for."
Mike Warde's Commentary on the battle:
I'd have to call it a marginal British victory. We, the Americans, never had a clear advantage on offense, and thus were compelled to force the action against Greg Marker's well prepared positions. On our left, we were stopped cold. It seemed as though a never-ending supply of reinforcements continued to emerge from the thicket. Also, the English artillery was able to break up our cavalry each time we ordered them forward. On the right, a war of attrition wore down Mike Werner's and my own Americans, as well as Marc Carper's Brits. Had the game continued, I believe that Mike and I would have prevailed on the right, but would not have done so in a decisive enough manner to affect the overall outcome of the battle. In the center, Don Delis had the unpleasant task of sending militia against professional British troops. Our men acquitted themselves well, but without a breakthrough on either flank, they were doomed to failure.
The Redcoats come marching in...
Highlights from the American perspective included:
- The valorous deeds of Lee's soldiers. The infantry snuffed out aBritish battery early in the game, and a valiant charge by his cavalry bought us some vital time.
- The Virginian cavalry routed a British regiment, and was galloping off toward the British camp at the game's conclusion.
- Good coordination between the 1st and 2nd line commanders. It seemed as though the Continentals always seemed to appear and plug the gaps at the precise moment that they were needed.
Yankee Doodle Dandy...
Good job Mike O'Brien, on another entertaining AWI scenario!
As the opposing commander, I would concur with all of Mike's assessments, including our victory as marginal. Had the game continued, I agree our left would have been turned, our center would have held strongly and our right would have been pressured but survived long enough to fall back and watch the rebels loot our camp until they got drunk enough to charge them and rout them and thus duplicate, sort of, history. I'm betting Don is really bumped heAnd Don's thoughts:
didn't make it into the camp!
Not really. In fact, I regret the move. I should have set up to take on the Royal Rangers and get that traitor Rodgers!!!
More photos of this game can be found here:
4. Board Game "Ingenious"
GAME: Reiner Knizia's "Ingenious"
- Richard M.
- Richard and I played a few games of "Ingenious" and enjoyed ourselves.
5. 28mm Terrain Making
A cool Orc bell thingie in 28mm scale.
- Practically everyone else!
- Nathan hosted a great terrain making session and nearly everyone came by to chat with him. He's looking to sell the Ork-themed terrain piece pictured above. If interested, please E-mail me and I'll put you in contact with him. He'd prefer to sell locally and wants a very reasonable price for the above piece... he's talking about thirty US Dollars.
Cutting balsa wood for a 28mm windmill terrain project.
More photos of the terrain work can be found here:
And you can find all of the photos I took from the day here:
It was a good time for all!