Sunday, 31 July 2016

Tank on Tank: Westfront - Last Stand

This was a challenging scenario, played solo as the sprogs were off with the parents in law and I had some time to myself this evening. The Germans occupied a town in the centre of the map and had orders to hold to the last man, which was made easier by having three Tigers, a Wespe for fire support and a single Mark IV as reserve. They also had an ace crew in one of the Tigers, which meant that any miss result when firing could be re-rolled. This was a definite tough nut for the Yanks to crack, unless they could get past the Tigers and punch them from behind.

The Americans brought the kitchen sink again, with two Sherman HQ's, six Shermans and two Wolverine SPAT's, although there was no self propelled artillery this time round. They lined up at the Northern end of the map and advanced, with orders to capture as many towns as possible and to knock out the Tiger Ace for an extra VP bonus. I planned to rush forward with one company of Shermans to outflank the Tigers to the East, whilst advancing the other Sherman company along the Western flank, supported by the Wolverine SPAT's in an attempt to keep the Tigers occupied.

This plan started to unravel from about Turn 4 onwards, once the Shermans moved within range of the Tigers, which had a three hex reach due to their 88mm guns. The flank attack to the East did get within spitting distance of the dug in Tigers but then fell victim to their defensive fire, having failed to gain high enough die rolls to knock them out even when combining their attacks. The flank attack on the Western edge of the map was more successful, with a knocked out Mark IV leaving one town in US hands by the end of the game in Turn 8. The two surviving Shermans were going flat out for Berlin but, unfortunately, the game came to an abrupt end.

This was not enough to get even close to a victory for the Americans, however, as they lost two Wolverines and five Shermans in the process. This gave the Germans an overwhelming five VP lead at the end of the game. There must be a better way to co-ordinate the use of the American units to neutralise the threat of the Tigers, which is very difficult if they are in town or wood hexes, even when they are outflanked. If I'd rolled better dice for the Americans earlier in the game, I could have knocked out at least one Tiger, which would have been some consolation for the thrashing that the Yanks got for the second time in a row!

A good game and a scenario worth repeating to see if the Yanks can crack it next time?

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Escape from Colditz

Osprey are publishing a new edition of Escape from Colditz in September and now have it available for pre-order. I remember playing this boardgame when I was a kid, so I'm really pleased that it is being revived, especially as the artwork is by Peter Dennis. Anyway, here's the blurb from the Osprey Publishing website:

Colditz Castle - World War II.

An impregnable fortress. An inescapable prison. Until now.

Designed by Major Pat Reid, one of only a handful of prisoners-of-war to escape Colditz Castle, and screenwriter Brian Degas, Escape From Colditz is the iconic game of careful planning and nerves of steel.

Become Allied escape officers - assemble your equipment, plot your escape routes, and coordinate your efforts to avoid the guards. Become the German security officer - maintain control through guile, ruthlessness, and careful observation despite limited numbers.

This deluxe edition of the classic game for 2 to 6 players includes both original and updated rules, new hand-painted artwork, an oversized board, 56 wooden playing pieces, 100 fully illustrated cards, a 32-page history book, and unique replicas of artefacts from the prison.

Seventy-five years ago, Major Reid braved barbed wire, searchlights, and armed guards to Escape from Colditz. Now it's your turn to do the same.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Tank on Tank: Westfront - Frontal Assault

I broke open the Tank on Tank: Westfront box and punched out the counters today, ready for a couple of games to try out the system. The first game was a simplified version of Scenario 1: Head to Head, with a reduced force of four tanks and an HQ for each side, using the identical range, firepower and movement of the Shermans and Mark IV's to balance it out. The sprog decided he wanted to be the Yanks so I got stuck with the Jerries. I was keen to see how this game system actually worked and so, after a quick skim through of the rules, it was time to order Panzers Marsch!

This was a ten turn scenario with the objective being to either capture two of three specific towns on the board by the end of the game and/or to knock out all of the enemy tank units. The US tankers got the upper hand early on by occupying the high ground, increasing their range by one hex, then picking off my Mark IV's one by one. In the end I was down to only one tank unit, with the sprog only losing one Sherman, so a well deserved tactical victory for the Americans who gained from a series of 4 AP counters all the way through (that's what I reported to the Obergruppenfuhrer anyway).

The next game we played was Scenario 2: Frontal Assault, with the Wehrmacht reinforced with a couple of Tigers and an extra Mark IV HQ unit. The Americans brought the proverbial kitchen sink including six Shermans, two Wolverine SPAT's and even a Priest SPG, in addition to two Sherman HQ's. The objective was for the Yanks to capture two villages by turn 10 or for either side to knock out all of enemy units. I kicked off by deploying my panzers in two waves, with the Americans deploying all of their armour units in between, according to the set up instructions. We flipped the board over to represent the Ardennes but didn't make use of the snow movement rules.

The Tigers immediately advanced on the left flank and proceeded to mop up half the Sherman units and the Priest SPG, while the Americans bounced AP shells off their frontal armour. Too late the Yanks realised that combining the fire of two or more tanks could knock out a Tiger but they failed to roll high enough to defeat their 11 armour points or to co-ordinate their fire to outflank them. This was pretty realistic and a lesson on fire and movement for the sprog, although his tactics were spot on in the first game. The dice were against the Yanks this time round and I swept the board with both towns occupied and wrecked Shermans burning furiously in my tracks.

This is a great little game. We really enjoyed both scenarios and picked up the rules in minutes, with only a couple of easily resolved queries along the way. The use of AP counters is an excellent touch and really adds an element of uncertainty to each turn. If the draw is against you and you only get 2 or 3 AP, then the HQ units really make a difference and they have to be carefully deployed as a result. Tigers are very dangerous but have their weaknesses, being very slow and vulnerable if outflanked by multiple enemy units. I still need to try out the rules for infantry, anti-tank guns, airstrikes and field defences, so I'm really looking forward to a rematch.

A big thumbs up for this one!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Star Wars: Empire vs Rebellion

I played a couple of rounds of Star Wars: Empire vs Rebellion this afternoon to see how the game actually works and to get the sprog disconnected from Pok√©mon for half an hour or so. This was less than successful as we ended up a bit confused when the total value of the resource cards I played went over the top of the objective value. I misread the rules about this and ended up stuck but, with a quick check on line for a tutorial, I now know what to do and how to play the game properly (I think?). Anyway, we'll have another go tomorrow to see how it works when you actually follow the rules! I'm not a big fan of this sort of strategy card game, as I don't think they really have much to do with the subject matter, apart from the images, background fluff and component design. However, I'm prepared to give this game a go, if only to avoid watching French TV!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Topside Freebies

I spotted a freebie on the Topside Miniatures website yesterday so took advantage of the offer. There is a free example of a ship counter available so that you can try before you buy, which is a very good idea as the postage from the US isn't cheap even if the counters are very reasonable. You don't get to choose but that's not a big deal.

There's also a free set of simple WW2 naval rules that you can download, which look very suitable for a beer and pretzels style fast play game. They're well worth a look as an alternative to Victory at Sea or similar low complexity rules. I also have my eye on the Coronel and Falklands battle counter set that is available for only $12, which is excellent value and would be ideal for VaS Age of Dreadnoughts.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Table Air Combat Pacific Theatre

There's a Summer Sale on over at Wargames Vault so I decided to add some early war Pacific Theatre aircraft to the Table Air Combat collection. This was really just an excuse to add some torpedo equipped planes so that I can try out the rules. I've kept things down to a minimum so have only got the A6M2 Zero, the Ki-43 Oscar, the F4F-4 Wildcat and the SBD-3 Dauntless. The latter includes some really neat naval targets and flak templates, so it will be fun to see if I can actually sink a Japanese carrier before being shot to bits?

Thursday, 21 July 2016


I found my old copy of Tabletop Games MTB yesterday, so have squeezed it into the pile of stuff I'm taking on holiday, even though it's a bit long in the tooth. This is a great little coastal warfare game using cardboard counters for the MTB's, MGB's, E Boats and Coasters that fought up and down the East Coast in WW2. The rules are simple but require quite a lot of book keeping and order writing, which was fairly typical of wargame rules in the 1970's when it was written. I played this game over and over again when I was a kid and got hours of fun out of the experience, so it will be interesting to see if it has lasted the test of time.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Victory at Sea

I have a WW2 French fleet in 1/3000 scale for Victory at Sea but it has never seen action, which pretty much sums up the situation over the last twelve months or so. I have had the time to paint models but not to actually play any games with them, which means that they end up sitting in a box rather than being used, or they never get painted and end up balanced on top of the lead pile.

However, I've been exploring the potential of paper miniatures using the 'print and play' approach, which offers the advantage of assembling a large force of ships at minimum expense and in quick time. I'm starting out with the ship counters in the back of the Victory at Sea rule book, which I have colour photocopied onto thin card ready to be cut out, although I may laminate them first.

These will enable me to learn the rules (again) so that when I do have the time I will be in a good position to add some 'proper' opposition for the French fleet. In the meantime, I will take the rule book and counters on holiday over the summer, so that I can work through the various scenarios in the main rulebook and perhaps even try out a mini solo campaign or a series of linked games.

In the longer term, I also have my eye on the self adhesive paper miniatures produced by Topside Miniatures, which look absolutely splendid as you can see above, even if they are about the same cost as 1/3000 scale metal miniatures. The main thing putting me off is the cost of shipping to the UK and the inevitable dark shadow cast by HM Customs and Excise. I also have plenty of white metal models to be getting on with!

Monday, 18 July 2016

The King is Dead

This is the last of the new games that I've bought to take on holiday in a few days time. It is a really well presented two player strategy game, which is based in an Arthurian historical setting, with the players in a struggle for power after the death of King Arthur and during the Saxon invasion of sub-Roman Britain. This is not the sort of game that I've played before, so I'm looking forward to giving it a good run through with the sprogs as opposition. They really liked the BBC Arthur TV series, so I'm on to a winner with this one.

Sunday, 17 July 2016


This isn't a board or card game. It's not really a wargame either. However, it is very much in a 'tea and sandwiches', or 'beer and pretzels' format and its also completely free as an app. The graphics are excellent and its based on the old Sorcery! Fighting Fantasy books word for word, which means it has a great storyline. I'm a bit old for this sort of thing but, with the holidays coming up, it will be great for the kids on a long journey.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Table Air Combat Continued

I have had the chance to read through the full rules for Table Air Combat that are collated in the Flight Operations Manual and was impressed by the mechanics for air gunners, bombing missions and flak. So much so, in fact, that I've now added the packs for the B17F, P47D, Fw190A8, Bf109G and the Me262 to the Battle of Britain set that I started out with earlier in the week. I'm tempted to get some Wildcats and Zeros too, but will have to resist.

It will be interesting to compare the later war aircraft with the early war fighters, dive bombers and medium bombers, in terms of performance, firepower and energy ratings. It should make for an exciting game when I have assembled all the cardboard bits and bobs. I'm really impressed by the thought and clever design behind this little 'print and play' system, so hope to get a game in over the weekend to see how it plays out in practice.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Blue Max

This is the other 'new' game that I'm planning to try out over the summer holidays. I have a copy of the original GDW version of Blue Max but, now that this newer edition has come down in price, I thought I'd give it a go. I have played a lot of WW1 aerial games in the past, both with 1/72nd scale models and the Wings of War (Glory) series, so it's a good addition to the arsenal. There are only a limited number of aircraft in this version of the game but the production values are pretty slick, so a step up from the original game with it's flimsy counters, easily torn hex map and paper player aids. I think it will be a nice change from Wings of War, which is a lot of fun but a bit repetitive after a few games.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Table Air Combat

I spotted this series of WW2 tactical air combat rules when they were first published and thought at the time that they looked really interesting from a 'beer and pretzels' point of view. They remind me of the old Tabletop Games Microgame card and paper rules, which I played a lot when I was at school back in the early '80's. I still have a dog-eared copy of MTB, which is a great little coastal warfare game, but have lost my favourite set in the series, the Napoleonic Naval one. I played this game to destruction but it's now out of print, which is a real shame.

Anyway, there's a discounted bundle deal of Battle of Britain aircraft at Wargames Vault, including  the usual RAF fighters (Hurricane I / Spitfire II) and the Luftwaffe fighter and bomber opposition (Me109E, Me110, Ju87, Ju88, He111). There's also a free compendium of the rules available which will be handy as a reference. I have read some good reviews of the system, which uses a turn and movement template together with card counters representing pairs of aircraft, so I thought I'd give them a try. I'll print off the components and try them out this weekend, if I have the time.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Tank on Tank: West Front

I've been adding a few new games to my 'to do' list for the summer holidays, so that I can keep the kids occupied as it chucks it down with rain. I really liked the look of Lock n' Load Publishing's Tank on Tank series, so sent off an order for the West Front version a couple of weeks ago. The game is designed for beginners and for 'beer and pretzels' style gaming, so tick all the boxes as far as I'm concerned.

The basic concept is a bit like a really, really simple version of tactical combined arms games like Tank Leader or Panzer Leader, with counters representing tanks, infantry, SPG's and AT units. The command system uses Action Point (AP's) to activate units under command of an HQ, which reminds me a bit of BKC, with options for moving and attacking once per unit per turn. Very simple. There are also a whole load of scenarios to play out and rules for devising your own.


The components are really nicely done, with the counters being a handy 1'' square in size and well illustrated. The two maps are double sided with one being summer terrain and the other winter terrain, although they are not geomorphic and are printed on thin card. The rulebook is slim but very clearly laid out, with the game sequence explained on only three or four pages, which will make it easy to learn. There's also a turn tracker, terrain effects chart and combat modifier cheat sheet.

I'm really looking forward to trying this game out over the next few days and will report back on how I get on with it as soon as I have some scenarios played through and a handle on the rules. If I enjoy it and it has good re-play value, I may well get the other game in the series Tank on Tank: East Front, which features a lot more counters and additional maps, some of which I should imagine can be crossed over for use with both games?

Monday, 11 July 2016

What's it all about then?

Welcome to my one brain cell board wargaming blog. I have been an active wargamer for many years but primarily with miniatures rather than board games. I have recently found that a shortage of time to paint miniature figures and models has meant that my gaming has been a bit of an afterthought, with many of my projects piling up on the workbench to gather dust.

(I have another blog - Jim's Wargames Workbench - covering my on-going miniature wargaming projects:

As a result, I've made a sideways shift to re-discover board and card based wargaming, as a simple way to fit things in around work, family and all the other diversions that soak up my time. To keep things simple, I'm also sticking to uncomplicated, 'pick up and play' style games like X Wing and Wings of Glory although there are many other modern games that I'm planning to try out.

I also have a stash of old board games, many of which have been well-played and remain on my list of all time favourites. These include the classic hex skirmish games Cry Havoc, Siege and Samurai Blades, as well as Battlecars and Battlebikes from Games Workshop. There are some heavy weights in the collection too including Squad Leader, Up Front!, Storm over Arnhem, Panzer Leader and Tank Leader.

I have a long overdue holiday coming up in a few days, so it will be a chance to blow the dust off some old games and to punch out some new ones that I've recently added to the collection. One of these looks particularly interesting - Lock n' Load Publishing's Tank on Tank: West Front - so I'm looking forward to rolling the dice and moving little cardboard Tigers and Shermans about in the not too distant future.