Tag Archives: TW&T

Now is the Winter of our Discontent

The above phrase has nothing to do with this post. But it is winter, so I’ll let it stand.

I haven’t been on the blog in a bit, because I’ve been lucky enough to have been gainfully employed for the last week and a half. Not that I was unemployed before, but I was seriously under-employed! In any case, yay for employment.

That’s not to say that I’ve lagged on the historical miniatures wargaming front! In fact, I’ve been quite busy!

I should Explain

I almost have my American roster of reinforcements completed for the “Heroes of Omaha and Panzer Lehr” campaign that I’m hoping to play in the new year. In fact, all they lack is a drybrush of yellow ochre and some flocking. Expect shots of mortarmen and .30 caliber machinegunners in the very near future. Of course, I still have a bunch of terrain boards, two more squads of American infantry, and the German reinforcement roster to build and paint, but I try not to think about that.

This is good

I hesitate to give this campaign book a glowing review without having played a single game, yet, but I really do think it’s good.

The scenarios are, ostensibly, historical. I’m not sure to what degree of accuracy, but the supplement does include a significant bibliography and  recommended reading list, the inclusion of which points to a certain level of scholarship. I don’t know how important historical accuracy is to an enjoyable game of miniatures, but at the very least it’s cool to game based on real history. That’s enough for me, I think.

HoOaPL (that’s awkward. From now on, I dub thee HOOPLA) has no less than three campaigns of varying intensity. The battles in HOOPLA are invariably unbalanced and reflect the ebb and flow of real engagements. The terrain (the bocage, sunken roads, and stone farmhouses of Normandy) and naturally resulting force dispositions seem to be very tactically engaging.

The initial campaign features 2’x4′ boards (Skirmish Campaigns suggests doubling the board size if you’re gaming 28mm) and manageable numbers of troops. This is, of course, very encouraging for a beginner like me. Not that I’m not drooling to play the later campaigns and scenarios with larger boards and tasty amounts of armor!

The engagements in the initial campaign (which actually pits the US 29th Infantry Division vs. the German 356th Infantry Division, not Panzer Lehr) are primarily concerned with infantry actions. That first campaign features forces of a reinforced platoon on the American side vs. (typically) a squad and a few machine guns on the German side. There are opportunities for vehicles, anti-tank guns, and other elements in the random reinforcements that the book details, and they should provide a bit of spice to the games. I think the approximate 3:1 ratio of attackers to defenders that the scenarios contain should make for some harrowing games for both sides.

There are meaningful decisions to be made within the campaign structure. For instance, if the player of the German side  (I almost said German player) mounts an inflexible defense in the first scenarios of the opening campaign, he’s quite likely to be steamrolled by the Americans. A more elastic defense allows the Germans to retain men and firepower in anticipation of stronger reinforcements in the later scenarios. At the same time, the Germans will not be in particularly great shape later on, if they don’t inflict significant casualties on the Americans in the earlier scenarios.

As excited as I am to actually play a game of TW&T with my minis, I’m very tempted to play referee for the first HOOPLA campaign. I think I (and my potential players) would really get a kick out of the increased fog of war that a refereed campaign would give. It would also allow me to get a really good command of the rules. Another happy side effect would be the potential hooking of said potential players on miniatures wargaming crack.

The Best News

But on to more important things.

I’ve played in a Pendragon game with a few fellows down at the local game shop every Thursday  for the past several months on a weekly basis. It’s been decades since I played RPGs so often! I could go on and on about how great Pendragon is, and how lucky I am to finally get to play in a campaign, but that’s a subject for an entirely different blog. The only reason that I bring it up is that the GM of the campaign has family in for the holidays and has cancelled for tomorrow.

Not to jump for joy at the temporary demise of our Pendragon campaign, but I’m going to take this opportunity to play a small game of Troops, Weapons, and Tactics with another member of the RPG group. Brendon is an old grognard (In fact, I owe him a game of Squad Leader in the very near future), so I’m interested to see how he’ll react to a relatively radical set of rules like TW&T. Hopefully I don’t screw everything up and he really enjoys it!

Happy Holidays…days…days

I’ll bring my camera to the TW&T game, but I won’t be able to post up a report until after the New Year.

Not only is it the holidays, but I’m going pheasant hunting with my father and brother in the plains of West Texas for most of the week following Christmas. I’m not completely comfortable with hunting as a past time, and haven’t done any since I was a very young man/boy, but I’m excited to go tromp about in the brush with a shotgun, nonetheless.

In any case, have a great Christmas, my legions (I use a 1:100 figure/unit ratio for this blog) of readers.

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P.S. I bet no one has ever made a sarcastic ‘legions of readers’ joke in the history of blogdome. EVER.

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0.15 The Things We Do…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve switched to Troops, Weapons, & Tactics by Too Fat Lardies for my skirmish rules set. TW&T is a card driven game, but you’re only given some shoddy card templates in the rulebook, there are no professionally produced cards available, and thus you must make your own.

My Effort

Put your cards on the table

I have to say, after all the stuff I’ve painted and modeled, I’m most proud of these cards. I think I happened upon a workable scheme that imparts all the relevant information at a glance. Graphically, I wanted something striking, but simple, and I think I’ve mostly succeeded there, as well. Don’t worry about all of this crowing about success: I’ll be back to my usual self-loathing, before too long.

I’ve customized these cards for the “Heroes of Omaha and Panzer Lehr” campaign that I plan to do. Thus, I’ve used the quasi-yin/yang symbol of the US 29th Infantry Division and the cool “L” of Panzer Lehr for my unit cards. I’ve tried to be funny (in the Too Fat Lardies tradition) and used silly names for my big men (leaders) like Private Fritz Lieber and Sergeant Slaughter. I doubt I’ll keep it up, though, as I’m just not all that funny.

Tools

All of the work on the cards was done using Adobe Creative Suite (well, Illustrator and Photoshop, anyway), but you could accomplish the same thing using the completely free G.I.M.P. and Inkscape. A word of advice: do image manipulation within Photoshop/GIMP and do your  line work and text within Illustrator/Inkscape. Illustrator and Inkscape are vector graphics based, and you’ll get very clean lines and printing compared to photo-editing software.

With my cheap Brother laser printer, I’ve printed onto 110 pound off-white paper stock. I have a color inkjet at home, too, and I may do color versions at some point. My girlfriend teaches at a local elementary school, and I’ve made her promise to laminate the cards for me. That last tip is probably pretty useless, unless you fancy school teachers.

Self-critique

There are a couple of confusing elements on these cards that I need to sort out. I’ve used American rank insignia to denote two completely separate mechanical effects, which will likely prove confusing. Another issue is that the placement and size of some of the graphics ‘wanders’ a bit much. The graphics could be tighter, which would ‘train’ the eye to use the cards more quickly. After I’ve done some play testing with my cards and made some refinements, I’ll post them to the TFL Yahoo group.

 

 

0.05 Operation: Honeypot

Drawing Flies

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t know any wargamers. I do know some guys and gals that play role-playing games and board games. So, if I’m going to get any wargaming done, I’ve got to create some opponents from this pool of more general gamers. There are at least a couple of implications packed into creating opponents:

  • I must build, model, and paint all forces, terrain, and buildings, and they must be impressive.
  • I must carefully select rules that will appeal to my peeps and be easily teachable.
  • I must keep the amount of work involved in the above manageable.

In order to create impressive models/terrain/toys and keep the time and effort manageable, I’ve limited myself to skirmish rules. Now, there’s probably some false economy there, because larger scale rules often use a few figures to represent a larger unit (3 guys representing a squad, or whatever the case may be), but there are other advantages to keeping things down in the mud and blood.

I think 1:1 figure/man/tank ratio is going to appeal to role-playing gamers more than a larger scale representative game. In fact, I suspect that 1:1 games would have immediate appeal to the general public, as that’s the level most media operates on, these days. Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Call of Duty, you name it, the media is zoomed in on the individual.

I don’t think most people much care about the thickness of the front plate of the hull of a Marder III. I don’t think technical detail, especially technical detail that has the hood up, so to speak, is all that interesting, in an of itself. The psychology of warfare and the problems that commanders, and each soldier, face is interesting stuff, and I think those things are readily grasped by your average person who possesses a modicum of intelligence and empathy.

Picking Rules

That’s a long way around to saying that after much research (well, maybe heavy browsing would be a better term), the two rules sets that caught my eye were “I Ain’t Been Shot Mum” by Too Fat Lardies and “NUTS!” by Two Hour Wargames.

It's so...British!

I Ain’t Been Shot Mum

    I Ain’t Been Shot Mum (IABSM) is attractive because every after action report (AAR) I’ve read that’s used the system has been quite interesting. IABSM features hidden movement, deliberately imperfect command and control, an emphasis on leadership, and a rather open semi-Kriegspiel approach to rules adjudication. Yeah, I used the word Kriegspiel in a post, and I have yet to play one single minute of a historical miniatures wargame. Bold of me. All that said, I’ve actually ordered their skirmish game, Troops, Weapons, and Tactics (har…har…har…I won’t be giving that one its acronym.), which seems to have most of the features of IABSM, but is aimed at squad level instead of IABSM’s company level actions.

This is not so British

NUTS!*

    NUTS! ties into my honeypot goals quite well. It has significant role-playing elements: Your men have traits, stats, and they persist from game to game in the by-the-book campaign system. NUTS! initiative system is very fluid. I believe THWG calls it the Reaction system, or something of the sort. Basically there is an elegant, but detailed, system of opportunity attacks and movement. This reaction system is heavily awareness and morale based. NUTS! also has robust cooperative and solo playing options, though I hope I won’t have to use the latter! In any case, NUTS! is in my possession, and has been guiding my terrain and model building activities.

In Summary

In spite of all my Machiavellian scheming about honeypots and creating players, you’ve got to pick a rules set that you’re going to enjoy playing. If my RPG career is anything to go by, I’m going to be capable of enjoying a LOT of different rules. Thankfully, the wargaming community is profligate with rules creation, so there’s an embarrassment of riches to explore at and with my leisure.

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    * Look up the Battling Bastards of Bastogne, if you don’t get the reference in the title of this game.
    ** The wargaming industry is in dire need of the attention of a few volunteer graphic artists and book layout guys (whatever they’re called). I think the reasons are self-evident.

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