Battlegroup Kursk – thoughts and first game

Well last week I tried a new game to me – battlegroup Kursk, and so I thought I’d do a quick write up of it plus add my thoughts about the game. In a high level summary I liked it and it may be my new WW2 rules set of choice for large tactical sized games. We’ll see though after more games. I did end up buying a set of these rules though, so that gives you the idea of what I thought.

As for the others game options for this period and scale of conflict, I have played quite a few games of Iron Cross in the last year but the way that handles infantry is, well not great and leaves a lot to be desired. I like the command & control system for that, and it’s simple but tactical but the problem with infantry (they are too hard to kill compared to vehicles) spoils an over-wise fun game. It works for large convention/multi-player games of mainly vehicles but fails on infantry heavy forces. While Flame of War is not bad it’s sliding ground scale really provides an odd feel the games and one I don’t like. It’s gone out of favor in the local area as well. It has weird tactics which don’t reflect reality well which is an added negative to FoW for me. IABSM from the TFL never has taken off here with our group (we will try it again at some point). Chain of command, is one I do like but it is really smaller scale game. In many ways it’s also more complex at least initially than the others – with a single platoon vs. multiple platoons under command. That come from it’s non traditional play style though.

So back to this game. We played a small set up with just 5 platoons total (two german and three Soviet), plus some support options. It was based in the Kursk period. It was a fun and showed the game well I believe – especially as we tried a few things out at the end just to see the mechanics. This was on a 3.5 x 4 foot table. You can have up to 4 or 5+ platoons each on a 6 x 4 foot table in 15mm. Bigger games will need more space but that’s only reasonable. All the toys and terrain were provided by Jahan who was teaching me the rules. The scale is 1 to 1 for figs and vehicles – which is what I like.

As for the Battlegroup rules, they seem to play well and are not too complex. In fact about as more complex than say FoW and little more than Iron Cross over all. It’s an I go you go game with overwatch for interrupts. Each turn you roll a die and and add the leaders you have for the number of units you can move. A unit is a tank (oddly always bought in 3’s it seems), a infantry section/squad or a support unit – like a HMG or like. Rifle ranges are 30″, which in 15mm is not unreasonable for effective ranges with iron sights. The orders are mainly any combination or shot & move, go on overwatch (to either move or shoot), or some specific options for different troops. The overwatch can be triggered at any time in an opponents turn and you do a full 2 shot or 2 moves as an interrupt. There are other actions like engineers removing mines/repairing things, or commanders rallying troops out of sequence, but those are unusual as far as I see. Shooting is via aimed fire which needs you to see an opponent, then hit and they have to fail a save too kill figs. Alternatively, you can do suppressive fire which tries to pin a unit and may just causes a single infantry casualty, although that’s rare. Pinned units can’t do anything unit they are unpinned.

The rules include off board art, aircraft, vehicle repairs and ammo usage etc. The majority of the other stuff seems to be force lists which provide guidance on the usual formations that the different forces have.

Morale is based on a target ‘break number’ which you keep hidden and when bad things happen, like opponents gaining objectives or units being destroyed, you draw chits from a bad with numbers on them to see how many of those you gain.  The first person to get more break points than their force allows loses. However, as you don’t know your opponents level, so have to judge how close they are to breaking from the number of chits they have. The nice thing with this is there are some special effect/event tokens which do different things such mines and aircraft being available in these chits. That provides some randomness and unknowns in the game. Also, if pinned then you take a token to get D6 units unpinned. Overall, the game hung together well and forces the use of cover and tactical moves to cover different troops etc.

So, with that brief summary of thoughts of what I liked and noted on the game so far:

  • The two chances to shoot is deadly if you don’t move. This makes some interesting tactics, especially using the opportunity shots/moves. Squads need to do a somewhat realsitic platoon tactics to be really effective. FoW style movement will get them killed.
  • The order mechanism means for small forces of skilled troops (aka germans/later brits etc.) you should be able to move most things, unless you roll badly. Larger forces such as Soviets can have many more issues with a poor command roll.
  • The movement is quite tactical. Troops in the open are vulnerable and need some luck to survive. The same is true as the range closes as the shooting can be deadly.
  • There was a fair amount of table lookups in the game, even with that it plays ok. After a while we got the hang of the tables and the 2 page QRS covers all combat tables needed. I suspect regular playing people will memorize the values.
  • Unit stats for vehicles are complex (a little more complex than FOW) and thus a full force list is needed to play the game. Again you soon get the hang of this but the force sheets we had from the online builder could have been better for a newbie at least. But I guess they don’t want to give all the units stats away for free which I understand. We had some unit cards which helped but I can see that being a challenge in bigger games without decent prep for the game.
  • The inclusion of ammo rules & counting for tanks in a game this size are interesting. I can see that it could be too much in big games and something that I may be dropped in some cases. You count the number of shots per vehicle and of hat type of ammo etc till they run out.
  • I like the inclusion of spotting rules and the different aimed vs. suppression fire. Definitely gives a more WW2 feel to the game compared to some rules.
  • The rules have timed and predefined target art and air strike options which I really like. Again those are very reflective of WW2 tactics for most of the war and nice to see covered in such a game as this. Note, only the US army at the end of the war really had any true impromtue called art/air strike capability and even then it depend on on forces a lot.
  • The morale tokens and special effect are a nice touch. Keeps players guessing and allows an easy way to add special effects/events in the game. Would have been nice for them to have a custom one but that’s easy to add in if you want to create scenario’s.
  • To remove pin’s you take a morale token so that’s interesting that you could win a game by never really killing much – just pinning the opponent to death and getting other things, such as objectives. It would be hard to do but provides another tactical decision point in the games which is good.
  • The rules are somewhat the opposite of TFL games – in that commanders are minor figures in the game. This is much more the FoW style for commanders. They add to the number of orders you can make but really don’t provide much else. I expect a typical infantry commander will skulk at the back of a force. The soviet infantry have a special rule/command option that they can use if close to their officer. That may make them stay a little closer to the action. The only unique thing a senior leader can do is a special order try to remove the pin from any unit and then allow that unit to take an order. This requires a roll to do so and does no even need visual line of site between a commander and the unit in question. This seems a shame as more could have been made of that. The commanders don’t need to be close to their troops at all…there are bonuses/reasons for having a medic close to units under fire, but not their commander.
  • That indirect fire rules for art are a little complex but seem to reflect the inaccuracy but potential for these weapons.
  • There does not seem to be rules for the use of smoke. I may have missed them though. Although again not a big thing (and no issue for Russians who prettty much never used it) that does affect some forces such as Brits. They are easy to add though if needed.
  • The aircraft rules are also little complex and from what I see the pilots can be very precise in their aim in shooting, especially if strafing with machine guns/cannons. Interesting comparison to the artillery and it’s a game mechanic – I get it. They have to be lucky to do that but still it seems a little unrealistic – which is a shame as many other aspects seem to model reality quite well. I need more games are need to see how big an issue this really is but this does not really reflect air strikes vs. infantry especially in WW2. It’s easy to ignore aircraft at this scale though for smaller games  or use a house rule that they have to use the artillery style targeting for MG’s etc making this less precise.
  • I can see using FoW basing for a squad and keeping track of figs losses via counters/dice vs. doing the 1 to 1 fig for infantry. That may or may not be hard to do but might make movement and ground scale a little easier to deal with.

So as you can see, I see some potential minor concerns in the system but, overall it seems fairly solid. So with that on to the game…

This was a simple meeting engagement. There were 4 objective markers around a small collection of houses and the fight was to break the opponent and drive them back. I chose to use the Soviets, as they are my typical WW2 force. The first turns had my lead elements move towards the village and grab the objective closest to me. This was my first experience of the moral chits system. The Germans pulled one when I got the objective. Of course they got a mine event – which then effected me! Luckily for me I did not have any vehicles on the table so it could be ignored. It’s interesting that most events from the morale phase effect your opponent, although you can get aircraft support from it. So sometimes a bad thing which causes pulling one of those chits can turn out to your advantage!

Most of our forces started in reserve and so I just got a three units at the start of the game. These were soon re-enforced with an extra MG team and my infantry officer to add his bonus to the command rolls. Early on I kept the amour off the table. I also kept the force all on the right flank of the village One thing which became apparent quickly was that with a decent sized force the number of commands you roll can real impact what you do. This is quite like DBA etc. and an aspect of rules which I like. You have to do prioritization and decision making of what to do and when. It’s a little artificial but works, and as seen in the German side if you have a smaller force and roll fairly well it becomes less of an issue.  It seemed all through the game that the Germans with their smaller force and more commanders had much less of an issue in this area compared to my Soviets.

Talking of the Germans, they moved onwards the other side of the village and pushed an AT gun up towards the center of the village. They also took the top of a hill on the left of the village. In their next turns they got all of the remainder of their troops on the table -including 4 tanks. The village still was unoccupied though but either side and I had claimed the only objective so far.Finally, I started to roll enough for the reserves to get some of my tanks on the table. I brought on a platoon and a commander all in T-34’s. The officer in the tank would help with the command rolls – giving me another +1 but this also allowed me to match the total number of german tanks on the table. I still had another 3 tanks to come on though! Got to love the Russian numbers game.I soon moved the tanks toward the village and the corn fields on my left. I tried to suppress/pin the german infantry squad on the hill. Of course with my luck that did not happen. I missed with all 4 tanks! So much for that…

In the next German turn the infantry ran into the buildings of the village, escaping into cover and claiming an objective. They realized that sitting on top of the hill with no Soviet infantry and just tanks moving towards them was not a great idea.

The German tank platoon did come over the hill in a very bold move though. They tried to take out the T-34’s with that move and shot move. With three tanks shooting one of mine ended up pinned in the corn field and another was destroyed. That left 2 operational tanks on that flank for my Soviets.

On the other side of the table the rest of the German force also moved into their outskirks of the village. They either moved into buildings/ruins or just used them as cover. The other German tank which had another officer in it also moved up on that flank of the village. At this point there still had not been a lot of shooting on this side or in the village itself.
In my turn I did not roll well for orders so I could not really do that much. However, the key thing was for my two remaining T-34 tanks to kill the German tanks they could see. That went rather well in fact. The two German tanks which were visible on the hill were destroyed. Overall, the combat of tank vs. tank reminded me of other systems (FoW/iron cross etc.) and it’s seems pretty easy when you get the hang of it. It’s also deadly which is typical of these games. If you are in range and visible then you need some luck to survive in a tank.

With few other orders left after doing that I moved my units further into the village and moved a single tank up to support the infantry on the other flank. We started to exchange a few shots between the units in the village but not many were successful. Maybe if I had tried more suppression fire I might have had more luck.

What developed on that side of the village where I had moved my tank up was a sneaky tank duel. We did not use overwatch moves – which would have been useful but concentrated in shot & move/move & shot type actions to try to keep in cover but kill the other tank. Luck for once was with me on this and my T-34 managed to take out the german Panzer 4. First I pinned it, which stopped it shooting back at me the next turn while it unpinned. Then the following turn I managed to kill it.

With that tank destroyed, both tank based officers in the German army were dead. Now their command rolls started to be a little more important and they were just adding +1 not +3 to the command roll. But with less units as well the command decision choices I was having to make for the Soviets seemed less of an issue for the Germans.By now the rest of the Soviet reserves were on the table and I decided to try some thing out. My light mortars tried to hit the Germans in the town… not very successfully it has to be said. I quickly decided that those were not that suitable for getting infantry out of the buildings. I did fast moved a unit up into one of the buildings, which was exposed to the German MG’s. These got shot to pieces by the Germans in the opposing houses. The large number of MG’s in those German infantry squads are nasty. At very short range things get deadly and although I had ‘hard saves’ because of the building I still managed to fail a significant number of them. So that squad died in a singe turn to a fat of fire.

I also my HMG squad went down to longer range German machine gun fire. The lack of commands had left them exposed in the open so they were a fairly easy target. Here my luck came into play again though. I pulled an immobilized token event. So the last remaining German tank was stuck in an awkward place and out of the main action. It made it awkward for me to try to kill it but kept it out go play as well. So overall another good morale chit event for me.I did my first rally then and unpinned my T-34 tank in the corn and a unit in the village as well. Yes the immobilized German panzer in theory could (and maybe should) have killed it before now, but it failed – most of the time the tank was hidden from view in the corn. Yes the Germans consistently failed their spot rolls and this was not a priority for their command actions.

In the village we were having a bit of a firefight with both sides losing units. My Soviets were not great but having tank support with no German counter to it other than the AT gun which I tried hard to not have line of sight to the tanks gave me the edge. T-34’s MG’ing German infantry in the buildings was my basic tactic. This mean the Germans were pulling chits out to unpin units but not really being able to do much in return.As this was a friendly intro and coming to an end with an obvious Soviet victory we both wanted to try out the assault rules. So I decided to charge my SMG armed squad into a German squad in the next building to see how this worked. You have to test to see if they do that type of attack and I failed the test though and so my squad decided not to do such an attack…

However, the Germans in their next turn decided to counter charge. As mentioned the German force was near breaking point so we decided to see what happened. Of course the Germans did pass the test to the attack but in the end it was not great for them. A lot of destruction and death was the result for both sides as he had not pinned my troops first. So I wiped out the German attackers, but not without losses. The Germans also decided to see how an infantry close assault vs. a tank worked – with the German trying a last ditch attempt to destroy a T-34 that way. Again this did not work well for the Germans but only cost them a single casualty for the failed attempt and the attacking unit ended up pinned. Hand grenades and anti-tank mines vs a tank with MG’s – you have to have some luck to make that work.

That of course was the game, with victory to my Soviets.

So there we are. It was a quick game but a good intro at a couple of hundred points. I must say I was surprised that it ended as soon as it did, but that’s one of the interesting thing with these rules. The morale and chit system means forces don’t fight to the last man. That’s realistic really so a good thing. It makes you really have to care for troops and be aware of everything which is happening – even rallying off pins. That slowly that reduces the morale of you force.

Overall, I think you may see a few more games of this in time in this blog and I’ll definitely be playing this game again. As I mentioned I have now bought the rules so that’s a good sign as well.

Posted in 15mm, After Action Report, Review, World War 2 | Leave a comment

Club hill touch ups

Just a quick post to show the work that I did over the last week on these. I have been storing the groups terrain while our regular store is taken over by new owners. One of the things which has annoyed me in the past has been the damage that our hills have taken over their years of existence. The sand & PVA cover seems to have held up well but the edges were showing the pink of the foam. Those tend to get bashed in storage and play which is understandable really. 

I did not see the point in trying to do something too complex with them though, but wanted to get rid of pink showing through. So I took the time to do some ‘repair paint jobs’ on them. Below is most of the hills after some TLC.  I don’t have original colours or materials that were used. I used a darker green as you can see below but I think it works fine as you can see below. It’s certainly better than pink which is a no brainer. 

Posted in Techniques, Terrain | Leave a comment

SDX kobolds the rest of the troops

Well it’s time to show the rest of my Super Dunegon Explore (SDX) painted minis. These are the remainder of the Kobold force. First we have 4 slingers – all wrapped in bandages. These Kobold figs do feel very shaven to me but heck that’s just my history of gaming coming though I guess.Next we have 6 spear wielding figs. Unfortunately, one of the spears on a fig was broken when I opened the box. But I doubt that will make a big difference and in the end they should all die to the weapons of the heroes in the game anyway. Knowing my luck that will be the most deadly fig in the game…Lastly, there are a couple of  big nasty monsters to back up all the little guys. As with all these figs the colours have been done to match the artwork in the game.So there we are – the whole base game painted and ready to play. I still have not done that but will at some point.

Posted in 28mm, Board game, Fantasy | Leave a comment

Sandy hills for gaming

Ok so back to a terrain project. As I have mentioned in the past I want to continue to build out my own terrain collection. Earlier this year I did some small height hills – perfect for 15mm games but thought I would have a go at making some taller ones. As with all my projects for terrain making I’m kind of making these up as I go along so I’m no expert- as you can likely tell. I also find I just want to do it vs. read/watch loads of how-to things for these simple projects.

A lot of my 28mm and some other table top projects are more desert sci-fi style games (cowboys, malifaux and even the necomunda -and you never know maybe the new 40k). So I thought I’d try to do some hills for that type of game. They may even be useful for the Russian front for ww2 games at a push. The colours are good for desert/sandy regions – no lush green grass of Western Europe here. First the shot of them is most of them their storage container. After all there is no point having these and not having an easy way to store them and move them to the games I want to play. Now I did make a mistake and made one extra large. This  is too big for my storage container and would not fit anyway as that’s filled with the others. That’s shown below and will have to be stored separately.These will provide a good selection of hills and cover approx a 2 by 3 foot table area for gaming. I used some models – a Malifaux one, a GW chaos warrior and a 15mm Soviet base to show the scale and size of the the hills in the pictures.
They are all made from pink insolation foam board and I used left over house paint. I basically cut the pieces with a craft knife and then sanded the rough sections down. I tried a few different ‘paint colours and techniques’ for the coverage to make the them different. I though about adding some sand texture but in the end decided they were ok as they are. 
Although not the greatest they should do ok providing some extra height in games.
I made some smaller pieces so I can stack them if needed as well. That should allow them to have a bit more usability.So there we are – in many of those old cowboy movies the hills were where the bad guys hung out – so now I’ll be able to do some games there as well.

Posted in 15mm, 28mm, Techniques, Terrain | Leave a comment

FIW Forest Indians

With last weeks post on the rural frontiersmen of the European colonists, it just seemed fair to show some more of the natives they would be facing in the wilderness. So here we have another pack of the Blue moon indians.

I have to say I really like this range and the models paint up really nicely. Sure they are not 28mm but at 18mm it means they can have a load more done in a reasonable time. They also store much better so that’s the reason that I decided to do this project in this scale. I really like 28mm skirmish games but these FIW games are really in the 30 to 60 figs per side – if not more. For larger games as well this should give a better number of figs on a reasonable sized table without it looking too crowded.I put a good amount of bushed on the bases as these guys really like cover. They need to use that a lot for their best historical tactics. As normal below are the individual shots of the models in detail. One each for the 30 figures in the pack.As you can see these ones I did face painting as that was common for the native tribes for the Northern US states, Quebec and Ontario regions. I’m not such a great painter to do really precise jobs but I am still happy with how they have come out.I did a few different colours of face paints – reds and the blues. These could be separate units or just different styles. This also differentiates them from the pervious indian models which I did not put any face paint on. As normal with Blue moon figs there is a good selection of poses which makes painting these much easier. They are quite a nice set of figs to paint and I recommend them for anyone interested in the period.
I tried to keep the clothing colours in a natural tone level for the most part, so that there is nothing too bright. From my understanding they did like to add some bright colors to their outfits, so I added some of those item to the models as well.
I have to say it took a little effort to make sure that each of the facial paint jobs were different. It’s to ensure that each one is unique as I doubt any of them in real life repeated face paint or clothing.Interestingly, there was only one bowman and one war club welder in the pack. These will make good commanders or figures of note in the different units.The leader/officer though has to be the guy below with the axe. I really like that pose and model so that makes it nice and simple who is the leader.So there we are. Another good group of figs for FIW war games such as Muskets and Tomahawks.

Posted in 15mm, 18th Cent, American War of Independence, French Indian War | 1 Comment

Frontiersmen from the FIW

Recently I have been posting quite about about painting board gaming miniatures while showing 15mm after action reports of games. So I guess I should show a few more 15mm figs that I have finished. That’s so that when I start showing my next gaming project reports with these there is not a flurry of them. To be honest I finished these a month or so ago but did not get round to posting them till now. I am working on another big project (or two) but don’t have anything completed on those yet to show.

These are part of a long time background project of mine – which is the French Indian Wars in 15mm. I must admit I enjoy painting this scale but also this size of figure on a table does give a more empty battlefield look which is really what those wars should have. Most fights I’m going to reflect were large skirmish engagements and North American landscape was fair empty where they fought… just lots of beautiful lakes and forests.

Many of the white settlers in this period were independent characters. Although they fought in the wars as rangers or just to defend their own lands/themselves they would not be uniformed or follow any particular style of clothing. They wore was what worked and what they liked for hunting and fishing which we’re key bits of their liveilhoods.Shown here is the Blue Moon frontiersman pack all painted up. It contains 30 nice figures with a great selection of poses. This is perfect for this period and the figs can be used for a variety of units/forces. I kept the colours all very earthy and I hope somewhat realistic. Yes there are a few bright colours here and there but nothing too much.In all these smaller shots each figure is just shown once in ‘close up’ so you can see it in a little more detail.  This allows me to show them all without creating too long a post.I put a decent amount of bushes on the bases as that seems to look right and work with these figures. The bases are pennies (Canadian and US) , with a small magnetic patch under each to help them stay in the packing boxes I use for storage.
Even with a repeat of some of the poses – which is understandable in this number and scale, painting them up like this means that each figs does look different and so provides a full group of individual figures. I also like that not all of these guys have tricorns. Although a common hat for the period I  believe there were many other styles worn, especially when you started to get out of the highly populated areas. Overall, I have to say I’m quite happy as to how these have come out. They should be useful in various games for the 18th century.So there we are another set of figs ready for FIW gaming. I have not done much of that recently but I do hope to in the future.

Posted in 15mm, American War of Independence, French Indian War | Leave a comment

En Garde first game and quick review

I painted up a whole set of to Old Glory/Blue Moon 15mm ‘three musketeers’ figures last year – you can see the blog posts for close ups of the figures if you look for them. But I had jet to use them in a game.

This week I finally ran a game with them in the En Garde the system for our group. So here is a quick write up of the game, some pictures and my thoughts and comments.pic2622662

The Scenario was one which I came up with and had the following background:

News has just arrivied in Paris that the party including Countess de F (the Kings latest mistress) has got caught up in a peasant revolt while returning to the city. The peasants have a reputation in such cases of chopping the heads of their betters depending on what happens! So time is of the essence to save her. You can improve your personal agenda and political status by saving the Countesses as well as embarrass any others who try and fail to do so.

You strike at dawn the following morning, raiding the village to save her. In the faint morning light you suspect there are others also trying to do the same as you. But you will save her and win your just rewards for sure.

So the game was everyone for themselves after the Countess. I ran the game and played the revolting peasants – with Le Retundo, their leader being my main guy. The big winner would be the one one to save the Countess.

As we had three players, with the forces as follows:

A large group of the cardinals guards – lead by a  swordsman dressed as the cardinal.
D’Artagnan, his personal servants and three standard musketeers.
The local bandit leader Black Jacque and some of his bandit gang.

I tried to balance the forces roughly but it was not precise on points counts. Each player had a rank 5 leader (with weapons master and duelist skills), a rank 3 second in command (a weapons master), as well as their supporting troops. The rank 1 and 2 troops had a pistol each in both the Cardinals and Bandit gang as well as a sword. Black Jacque’s crew were the only ones in armor but just light stuff giving them a +1 armor value.  The peasants also were in mobs. I made them count as rank 3, with level 3 armor but they were on big bases and could not assist each other. This reflected a group of poor peasants acting together as a mob.

You can see the start of the game below – with the three attackers all coming in from different sides of the village and the mobs of peasants in the village center. In the center was the countess on the headsman block, with the the headsman and Le Retundo directing the peasants.D’Artagnan and three fellow musketeers made their way in through the fields from one side. His trusty servant Planchet also in tow. D’Artagnan lead from the front and was very heroic throughout the game.
The evil Black Jacque and his crew were coming to capture the Countess for their own ends, best left unsaid what they were but he lead from the back…The same was true of the ‘Cardinal’ who sent some of his guards to fight a mob of villages, while having others use their pistols against a second mob heading towards him.  The Cardinals guards must have been practicing pistol shots because one of them did such a prefect shot as to ‘kill’ the mob they were firing at in a single shot.  We made the story to that one of a very bloody head shot to one of the mob made the other revolting peasants decide it was better to hide in their house than suffer the same. So first blood to the Guardsman! All three forces were attacked by the village mobs though. D’Artagnan engaged one mob and dispersed them alone. It took all his skill to do that, managing it on the last of his attack chips. He then raced on and took out another village mob single handed. Holding up that hero image for certain. The two the musketeers with him ganged up on another mob and took them out as well. One of Black Jacques gang members took on another mob but started to get the worse of it in that fight. He was the ‘sacrificial guy’ from that group to hold up the peasants while the other gang members moved into the village ready to strike in the following turns. Typical evil behavior there, and it was fun that players really got into character. The group of Cardinals guards trying to take on the mob in hand to hand though did not fair that well though. The mob actually took down one of the guardsmen. That mob held up the guards for a couple of turns of combat in the end giving as good as they got in the hand to hand fighting. To be fair though the Cardinals guards were just Rank 1 guys. Eventually the Cardinal sighed and ran over to help his minions. A quick couple of blows from him showed the villages the true power though as they dispersed after taking out two guards in the pervious fighting.The mob fighting Black Jacques bandit eventually killed the bandit which freed up them. He had allowed Jacques other gang members to get into the village though. Those were now taking pot shots with their pistols as the opportunity arose. Sometimes even into combats between the other players. No honor those bandits that’s for sure.The ‘rescue attempt’ for the Countess was made by Black Jacque and support taking on the headsman. Meanwhile D’Artagnan and a fellow musketeer took on the leader Le Retundo. All the while  D’Artagnan’s servant (Planchet) slipped in and freed the Countess! The combats were fast and furious but unfortuantely fairly one sided. Often in this game if you are ‘ganged up on’ or have very different ranks of figs fighting it can be hard to win the combat. I guess that’s realistic but something to be aware off. The rescuers had taken out all but the leaders of the mob so they were on their own. Le Retundo the village leader went down quickly with a couple of bad defensive rolls from me. Yes seeing a theme here ? I could not roll well all game. Luckily, as the GM and basic target/road block for the players, that really did not effect anything that much. I had hoped to play that character a little longer but there we are. Le Retundo as his name implies will return though and and he is pretty large as well.Of course this just started a large swirling melee in the center of the village though with more figs joining in. Various models fought each other and there were even several cases of one fleeing one fight (and risking the free strike against them) to move into other fights. Again Bandits were prone to shooting into combats – – especially ones which did not involve any of their gang. Planchet started to run through the fights pulling the Countess with him trying to get her to safety. Of course just to add to the fun I had the last remaining revolting village mob chase after him. Interestingly all the other players models were too busy fighting each other to be bothered with the mob initially.   You can see we had a few markers out for the various figs by now. White is a stun, blue is a wound level and red is needing a reload needed to fire their pistol. The Cardinals swarm of low ranking guards started to help here as he had some running around the village to stop the escaping servant and others were leading the charge (I hate to say acting as a meat shield) for the ‘Cardinal’.

Numbers started to dwindle though on all sides and as there were 3 or 4 main fights going on the casualties were mounting. The mob got to Planchet and dragged him down – collecting the countess again for themselves.That was not to last though. The next turn the mob were killed by I believe D’Artagnan while most of the sub commanders and other troops had been killed or taken out of action by this point. The leaders headed for each other and the Countess to try to win the game. So we went from about a dozen combatants to just a hand full left in a  couple of turns. If this were a movie the whirling action of everyone fighting would now focus on the main characters. It was like it was planned – but that was not the case.

This was the climax of the game came with all three rescue attempt leaders in a whirling 3 way combat over who would control the Countess and thus rescue her. No quarter was given or taken in this fight and tactics were at play between the three combatants. Who to attack and with what ploys were all decision points. This lasted a number of turns. If this were an action movie this is where the action stunts would have been, with the countess screaming and all the characters fighting around her. A few remaining gang members took pot shots with pistols into the combat just to add to the confusion and chaos as well.

The combat mechanism in En Garde means there was actual tactics and key decision in play here. Real player choices having an effect, rather than just die rolls. I do like that and it’s different than many such games and makes a huge difference IMO. Lots of fun was had with this. Various jokes as well as bad French accents)were all used as well as some real tension in the rolls. We even had people from other games come over and watch the fun, so you know the noise levels were high.The leaders went from all being unwounded to all gravely wounded. In the end it was Black Jacque who came out as the last three way round still standing. He was gravely wounded though. The remaining Cardinals guards had a moment of hesitation (well a turn wavering and ran away) with the loss of the Cardinal but then regained their nerve and fought on. So, they were the only ones left who could spoil the bandits plans. Their pistol shooting though was poor, which was their real chance to take out the remaining 2 members of Black Jacques gang. So with empty pistols that allowed the bandits to run them down in hand to hand combat.  
So the field and the Countess were Black Jacque’s…and a fun night was over. The game with 3 players and me as the GM and running the villages lasted approx 2.5 hours. Overall we had a good game and a lot of laughs.

So, what did we think of En Guarde?

Overall, I have to say I think it’s an improvement on the Ronin system and a fun game. I would recommend them to anyone wanting skirmish gaming with 6 to 20+ figs for the Pike and Shot period. They can be used to create real scenario’s and story games. It has a nice theme and although not that popular in mainstream wargaming it is a great period. That’s very similar to my view of Ronin to be fair -and these rules are really a slight improvement on Ronin engine moved to a different background. You can see my review of that here. For more specific comments I’ll do this in bullet form. Note, there are other reviews out there for the basic mechanics so I’m not going to go through those but more my thoughts around the game.

  • Overall, the game holds together well and as stated above this in many ways is a V2 version of the game Engine in Ronin. It’s a great skirmish game. All the guys made that comment that we should ‘back port’ the rules for this version into Ronin. I’ll have to loom to see if it’s already been done. A common complaint with Osprey rules we find is that many could do with more testing as they have rough edges. Often the core game is good but it just needs a little more. Ronin has it’s minor issues in the mechanics etc. in this area and I think En Garde resolves many of those. Note, the Rampant rules are the other set which I think have now got over this hump as well and are really good.
  • I still really like the Attack/Defense combat pools and ploys mechanic in the game. The addition of ploys (added defense/riposte & added attack etc.) means that players have tactical choices in combat and it’s not just a die rolling – which I really like. Again the extra detail and options are things which we likely will use in Ronin. This one rules aspect makes these rules stand out from say IHMN which are good bit lack that extra detail and player control that these provide.
  • The shooting changes from Ronin look good and it is less confusing than Ronin. Shooting is still quite powerful and a little random- especially if troops don’t have armor. The removal of a second shooting phase and making the archer skill for a second shot with some weapons limits some of the power of shots.
  • I really like that a points system is part of the rules. The wide range of sample forces is also good to see and that allows people to build what they want but gives some guidance for them as well. A nice addition that in Ronin had to be added by the author later (and people like me worked out anyway).
  • Some skills/attributes seam much better than others – but that’s always a reality for specific scenario’s but just something to be aware of. Dueling and Weapons Master skill’s are likely to be a often choose set for high ranking heroes. I’d likely tweak these – maybe even splitting weapons master into 2 skills. But that’s a minor issues and one easily resolved really. It is more for a force building/ game balance type thing.
  • Although I have not used them yet I love the addition of the fantastical creatures and magic as an option in the rules. A great idea and makes the rules have a lot more legs for generic games and people like me thinking of extensions and odd uses for the rules.
  • Using 15mm figs worked a treat for the game. It would not work great for  convention game as the visual spectacle is reduced for none players, but for a smaller group of players it does not effect the rules at all. Having a couple of specific special figs and the rest be a standard profile resolved any issues of identification of models in the game. Next game will be pirates I suspect and thee rules work very well for pirates. 🙂
  • As a last point it is a shame that compared to some rules there does not seem to be a big fan base/author support for this game. I really like these rules and they are a fun set for gaming. There is a Facebook group for it but it’s public (which I’ll be honest deters me at least from posting in it) and does not get the traffic which some groups get. Still I guess this is period not often used for games other than some ECW/TYW stuff – but thats a shame

So there we are. Overall, another fun game and a set of rules I’d recommend interested in the period or style of game have a look at. I hope you enjoyed the write up.

Posted in 15mm, After Action Report, Review, Ronin/En Garde | 3 Comments