I had just returned from a fortnight away, my annual holiday, when I decided to call on him. I had not seen him in several months, so was wholeheartedly curious, and filled with some trepidation, to discover the current state of both his mental and physical faculties.
Baker Street was as bustling as ever as I called at that oh-so-familiar 221. Mrs. Hudson kindly greeted me at the door and directed me up, knowing full well I didn’t want nor need to be announced nor directed to the upstairs flat.
I found him pacing, as he often did when he was on a case, with his gaze fixed downward, no doubt studying the minute movements of some as yet unseen arachnid or similar creature. The scent of pungent incense hung in the air, certainly designed to conceal from Mrs. Hudson some far fouler stench.
“Good evening, Holmes.”
“My apologies if I am disturbing you, but I have just returned from…”
“Shhhh!!”, he muttered.
“Er… holidays… er… .sorry”, I stammered.
He paused in his pacing, looked up, and studied me but for a moment. “How was Greece?” he asked.
.”Now how the devil did you surmise I’d been to Greece? Wait, is it the slight smell of some Athenian spice, emanating from my clothes? The particular tanning of my complexion, indicative of Aegean latitudes? Or some other subtle tell?”
A hint of a smile appeared on Holmes’ gaunt chiseled face. “No, no, no, my dear doctor. Nothing quite so cerebral.”
He suddenly presented a card, which he must have subtly palmed off the table as he’d paced by. “Mary sent me a postcard from the two of you, from Athens.”
We both chuckled at this.
“Watson, I… we… have a case.” He began. “I was visited this afternoon by Reverend Edward Cussler, Vicar of Saint Sepulchres, in Snow Hill. It seems his daughter, Abigail, has disappeared and he is quite concerned for her well-being.”
It had been too long since we’d last worked together, so a part of me was quite eager to assist in his efforts, while another part of me was conscious that I had a wife waiting for me at home. “Where shall we start?” I heard myself say. “What additional information were you able to glean from the Vicar?”
Holmes’ smile broadened, “The game’s afoot, Watson. We’ll start by visiting The Holbrook hotel, on Holborn Viaduct, I should think”.
In May we met for the first time at the new Tea + Victory game cafe on East TC Jester. Matt Zajac hosted and delivered an enjoyable 15mm game between Romans and Carthaginians. Barry, Chuck, and I commanded the Romans while Daniel and Joe commanded the Carthaginians. Matt writes:
"The game played out historically - although I think the Roman center still had quite a bit of punch to it remaining. Their armor capability combined with the highest cohesion of 4 make the Romans very tough - and with a good commander removing hits they have quite a bit of staying power. The loss of the one Roman commander would have had serious consequences quickly - especially if that cohort's units became ungrouped."
Click on the read more link to learn more about the history of this battle.
On April 5th we had a great Battlegroup game at Coral Sword. Good pizza and BYOB made for a fun evening.
Rob hosted as Barry, Paul, Andy, Will, and Rob played the Sons of Son game in the Market Garden book. Two platoons of 101st Airborne w/ some anti-tank and mortar support is defending a Bailey Bridge over the Willemsvaart Canal in Son which is under a German counter-attack by some Panther tanks and two infantry platoons.
It was only our second game of Battlegroup this year and this scenario was good to introduce armor and indirect fire into the game. We jumped right in and learned a few things, and still have some rules to fully grasp and master. We'll end this w/ a lessons learned to reference for our next game.
In this game, the Germans have to commit four timed artillery strikes of harassment fire after the Americans deploy. The US Paras took a beating in some woods that got hit twice by these timed barrages. Cover saves in woods (soft) isn't as good as a building hard cover.
The Panzers led the attack and moved a little bit toward the bridge and stopped, preferring a long range duel w/ a 57mm ATG. Due to intervening terrain, it was really a 1 on 1 duel between a single Panther and the concealed gun as the two supporting Panthers couldn't see the ATG. Not short of targets, the other Panthers shot up the infantry platoon on the objective and in some nearby woods and started piling battle rating chits onto the Americans.
Luckily for the Americans, the British supply trucks arrived on T1 and scooted up the road to the bridge right away. The nearby village buildings offered enough room to hide from the guns of the Panthers which allowed them to all escape off the North edge on T2 and T3 (two trucks got pinned by an artillery strike on the bridge T2). This gave four more battle rating chits to the Germans.
The German infantry advanced aggressively in the South, and were pinned for their efforts by the effective US 81mm mortar battery firing off-table w/ two US commanders able to call fire (usually one was pinned so having two was a good redundancy).
Eventually the 57mm ATG w/ extra loader team (higher ROF) won the duel w/ the Panther and more battle chits went to the Germans. This gun eventually succumbed to a Panther that advanced to it's position, but inspired some fierce anti-tank grenade attacks by supporting Paras which ultimately failed, but were epic.
We finally had to call the game at 11pm as we were tired. The Germans won a narrow tactical victory on battle ratings. The Americans were closer to the break point then the German side. We all enjoyed the game and learning it's finer points.
Pinning w/ suppressing fire and HE is key to taking units out of the game until rally in the following turn (which costs battle rating chits to do). We got some rules wrong, but I've worked out all the lessons learned below and we'll improve our play next time. All in all, we really enjoy Battlegroup as our current goto game for 15mm WWII.
We plan to see more Battlegroup Market-Garden action in September and Battlegroup Wacht Am Rhein action in December, as our 2018 focus on the Battlegroup rules continues.
1a. Artillery Fire Sequence - need to resolve direct hits according to the HE dice and hit value of each gun. We allocated direct hits but did not resolve them correctly.
81mm mortar and Panther 75mm are both HE 4/4+ for scoring hits that require saves.
1b. Artillery Fire Sequence - need to resolve pinning hits according to the Suppressing Fire Effect table according to the gun type. 81mm mortar are light HE, Panther 75mm are light HE.
1c. Artillery number of shots = tubes x2. Panthers roll 6 dice for x3 tubes. US 81mm mortors roll 4 dice for x2 tubes
2. US Infantry have M1 Garands which do suppressing fire as one band higher on table. ex: 6 man Rifle team does suppressing fire as ROF 9+
3. Hits on Soft Skin Vehicles - need to consult the chart for vehicle. SdKfz 7 takes 4 hits before knocked out. Morale Check required for EACH hit (not just on casualty).
4a. Deployed Guns - any rolls of '6' on HE to hit are applied against the gun, not the crew. Gun makes same Cover Save Roll and if failed, crew abandons the now destroyed gun.
4b. Loader team requires a 5+ check to give the extra ROF dice. ROF 3 only if the loader team passes this check during the Open Fire order.
5. 60mm mortar - min/max range is 5"/30". Treat as aimed fire HE Shell weapon. Roll HE 3/5+ for aimed fire effect. Treat as HE from very light gun for Supressing Fire.
Rob hosted our January game night and re-introduced Battlegroup rules for 15mm WWII to Houston. We enjoyed two great games from the Market Garden scenario book, at squad level which is good for an introduction to the rules.
It's set on Sept. 17, 1944 right after the British landings at Wolfhezen. The Brit Para Recon Jeeps are driving down the Johannahoeveweg by a railroad embankment to reach Arnhem when they are ambushed by platoon from KG Kraftt.
This is a very challenging game for the British. We switched sides for game #2 and discussed lessons learned and still could not win as British. It's a very good learning game as it’s all small arms and jeeps and really a fun challenge.
Looking forward to our next game of Battlegroup at the canal bridge in Son with the 101st US Airborne. This will introduce artillery and tanks to us at a larger platoon level.
Joe L. writes,
9 November saw our intrepid wargamers battling in the skies over Flanders in remembrance of the 99th anniversary of the battle. Using the Wings of Glory rule set and models, with a few home-grown rules for limited ammunition, fuel, and injuries thrown in, we saw one British Squadron of Sopwith Camels take on an opposing German Squadron flying Fokker Dr I's.
Battle was quick and bloody, with two aircraft being splashed on some of the initial shots. More maneuvering and more damage later saw three British aircraft and two German aircraft shot down before both sides retired to lick their wounds, repair their aircraft, and return another day. That being said, Andy somehow managed to avoid being shot down, although one of his two aircraft was riddled with holes.
Wings of Glory is produced by Ares Games. Each player typically controls a single aircraft. The rules are simple, with three levels of play, plus optional rules. The World War I "Duel Pack" is all you need to get into the game with the rules and basic accessories. There are currently 42 different models of aircraft to choose from, and they span the length of the war. Fun, easy to learn, a lot longer to master, with no two games ever being the same.
We had a great time on August 3rd at the King's Head pub in the Westchase area of Houston. Stephen hosted and ran through another play test of his Guadalcanal campaign rules for Axis & Allies War at Sea.
Please go here to see his full report, and more photos.
Please feel free to comment on what interests you.