Tag Archives: M&B

My Chain of Command Tactical Markers

Recently we’ve tried out TooFatLardie‘s Chain of Command/Through the Mud & the Blood hybrid rules with my Russian Civil War figures, and found them good, although with a bit of a learning curve.

Chain has a few persistent conditions or stances that can apply to troops for multiple Phases, either voluntarily (Overwatch, the Tactical stance and some others) or involuntarily (Pinned and Broken, mostly). There are Chain markers available for download over on the TFL Yahoo Files site but they’re WW2-specific (Allied vs German) and I also wanted markers with a bit of a period feel that matched a set of status markers I did a while back for M&B games and some of the other graphical stuff I’ve produced over the years.

So I did what I usually do, which is break out Inkscape, pour myself a drink, and spend an hour or two noodling away.

The resulting PDF has a full set of standard markers for Chain games, with or without a WW1-flavoured M&B infusion, and might also be of interest to anyone using Chain for Very British Civil War alternate-1930s games. They’re colourful, large enough to handle, but not large enough (I think, anyway) to really disrupt the game visually.

Both PDFs are single pages and tiny, 9.4Kb each. Permission is granted to copy or print these files for personal use only.

Letter size for those of us used to that size of paper:
CoC_markers_letter

A4 for the rest of the world who use rational systems for their paper sizes:
CoC_markers_A4

Feedback welcome, as always!

I’m working up a batch of Patrol & Jump-off Point markers for Chain/M&B World War One and Russian Civil War action, planning on a multi-page PDF with markers for all of the major combatants. That should be out soon, hopefully next week.

Russian Civil War with Chain of Command

We had a quick and messy intro to the TooFatLardies’ Chain of Command/Through the Mud and the Blood WW1 hybrid today with my Russian Civil War figures. Chain is originally a WW2 platoon-level set of rules with some of the core rules based on the WW1 Mud & Blood rules we have been playing for several years, and in the December 2014 Christmas Special the Lardies closed the circle and provided an adaptation of Chain for the Great War, pulling rules out of M&B as needed to replace or supplement the basic Chain rules.

Our forces were as follows:
One short platoon of Bolshie Reds – four rifle sections of 7-10 men each, two Senior Leaders – who rolled hot for their Force Morale which was at 11 to start!

One short platoon of Whites, two Senior Leaders, three rifle sections of 7-10 men, 1 Maxim MMG with four crew, not as into this whole Civil War thing as the Reds with a Force Morale of only 8.

I hadn’t actually sat down to figure out the exact force balance on this particular force mix (TFL provide tools to do that, though) and we ignored the Support Points rules today and just ran with these basic forces, but it got us a good tight game with lots of back-and-forth until the White’s Force Morale collapsed to 0, so I think I was more or less right. Almost certainly too many Senior Leaders for either side at most stages of the RCW, but for an intro game I’m not fussed.

The first third of the game was all in the White’s favour; their Maxim deployed to fire down the village street and blotted out one Red rifle section single-handed, while two of the White rifle sections shot up, Pinned, and then close assaulted a Red rifle section that had pushed across main street and hunkered down in one of the hamlet’s houses but was isolated from any Red support.

The Whites had a string of dead Junior Leaders which pummelled their force morale, though, and pinned their Senior Leaders down acting as section commanders. The breaking point came when one White rifle section and the platoon Lt. launched a singledhanded close assault through the rear door of a house with a basically unsuppressed Red rifle section in it and got bashed all to hell, killing not a single Red and being thrown out into the open ground where irritated Reds quickly Pinned and then Routed them with close range rifle fire, killing the Lt in the process and routing the Whites with a FM of zero…

I’m absolutely certain we did a couple of things wrong, I know we missed rules and in some cases deliberately ignored them, but it was a good quick game and a great intro to CoC.

The Patrol Phase & Jump-Off Points are great, the Patrol Phase is much tenser and more tactical than the opening few moves of most games are, and JoPs mean less random wandering around the tabletop and more direct action!

The Command Dice mechanic isn’t as flavourful as M&B’s cards, but it’s quick and interesting, and often forces you to make difficult choices as to who to activate when. The actual Chain of Command Dice mechanic is also interesting but we didn’t use it much except to end the Turn and once to avoid a Force Morale check – there are more options for using Command Dice that we didn’t explore in this game.

I really like the fact that Chain has a Force Morale setup; sometimes in M&B it felt like you could feed men endlessly into the storm with just a bit of luck on clearing Suppression until everyone was dead. Not happening in Chain!

The actions/activations setup has been both clarified and expanded in Chain over M&B. Movement and fire, suppressive fire, and overwatch are all improved from M&B. The vehicle rules have had some expansion and clarification as well, especially with regards to Shock and vehicle morale.

For larger games, especially at conventions where I want to have two-four players per side I’ll probably stick with straight M&B, but for smaller games Chain/M&B (should we call it “Chain of Mud”?) is probably going to become my go-to system. I’m looking forward to more games and to getting to know the rules better!

Updated M&B Russian Civil War Cards!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been rebuilding the entire deck of cards needed for Through the Mud & the Blood-powered Russian Civil War large skirmishes. I first made these cards back in November 2011, and after a year of use, we realized we’d wound up scribbling extra notes and other edits all over the cards we used, so I sat down and rebuilt the entire deck to incorporate the changes and edits we’d made while using the cards.

rcw-card-splash

You can download the 9-page 2.4Mb PDF here: M&B RCW Cards PDF

There are four pages for Reds and four for Whites, with ten Big Man cards per side, ten Command Initiative cards, a full set of the basic “National Characteristic” cards as laid out in the main M&B rules, and ten more Support or blank cards so you can customize your deck and add scenario-specific cards. The front page also has two Snifter and one Blank card per the main M&B rules, so one printing of all nine pages should give you everything you need for quite large M&B games.

Feedback in the comments, if you’re having problems, find a typo, or have ideas for the next edition of these cards!

Draft Versions of New M&B Cards

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been rebuilding my Russian Civil War cards for Through the Mud & the Blood over the last few weeks. I’ve finally got the revised versions of my existing Red & White Russian card sets for RCW to a point where I’m happy with them, so for a change of pace this evening I set out to design some cards for some of the other forces we’ll have available.

rcw-card-draft-jan13
Quickly assembled screenshots of draft M&B cards, some revised, some new.

Above, a quick screenshot of the current state of my cards. The Red Russian card has slightly changed background art; all the Big Man cards have a significantly changed layout with more information, and I’ve got a basic background for both British and Warlord Chinese forces! I have a small force of British in tropical kit, and late in 2012 my brother picked up a starter force of Warlord Chinese from Copplestone, which he promises to paint up one day.

One thing I’m not sure of: flag or star insignia for the Warlord Chinese forces? The flag fits in better with my other force cards, but the star works a bit better with text on top of it, as that black stripe on the flag really gets in the way of legible text. Opinions in comments below, please!

The British are also, of course, likely to be useful for other M&B folks, so I’ll get that set done up next, probably in February after GottaCon 2013, where I’ll be running an M&B-powered RCW game!

Rebuilding my RCW M&B Cards

As we’ve played Through the Mud & the Blood-powered Russian Civil War skirmishes over the past year or two (has it really been that long?) we’ve gradually tweaked and modified several of the custom cards we use. This has lead to a number of cards with pencilled notes all over them, a few blank cards re-purposed as hand-written replacements, and various other inelegant things, so I’m taking advantage of some post-Christmas quiet to begin rebuilding my custom card deck.

New cards in progress – new version in the top row, originals in the lower row.

I’m starting with the Big Man cards, which are by far the most common in an M&B game deck. I’ve removed the “Big Man” text, as it’s obvious without having to be pointed out every time. Command Radius has been joined by a reminder of how much a given BM can influence Fire/Melee die rolls, and there’s space for special abilities or whatever. I’ve also gotten rid of the “Big Man #x” text, as we found we were often ignoring it in favour of a simple pencilled number at the top of a card.

I’ll be adding some notes on the rules to many of other cards, especially Heroic Leader, Dynamic Commander and Friction, which often cause confusion. As well, I’m going to do up a series of “Troop Cards”, which will be quick reference cards for the players roughly the size of recipe cards, with basic details on the troop types, equipment and vehicles in their forces.

RCW: Blundering Into Each Other

rcw_encounter
Early in the game, with most forces still on Blinds. Whites in the top corner, Reds in the foreground. Click through to Flickr for larger version.

We had another round of Mud & Blood powered Russian Civil War action this afternoon, with a White composite platoon under a very dynamic officer meeting a spread-out Red platoon on the outskirts of a South Russian village and defeating them fairly soundly.

Once again Stout Hearts & Iron Troopers was our starting point, this time Scenario Seven, A Baptism At Bleid, which is a German-vs-French encounter battle, with the French unit resting in a farmyard, more French off-table down the road, and the Germans coming on cautiously as everyone advances into Belgium in 1914. The scenario also has the whole table covered in thick mist, so spotting is considerably more difficult.

We swapped in White Russians for Germans and a Red Guard platoon for the French and went at it. Due to lack of painted figures we had about half the troop density the scenario calls for, but it was still a fun game and really showed the power of a high-Status Big Man in M&B. The Whites had the energetic Capt. Rumelski, Status IV, leading their composite platoon, plus Dynamic Leader (bonus Big Man moves) and Heroic Leader (one heroic act per game by a Big Man) cards in the deck. While the Whites had some initial trouble getting their platoon moving, once they got going they never stopped, and comprehensively shattered the Reds before the Red reinforcements could get onto the table to help out.

Reds scout down the road. Photo by Corey
Reds scout down the road. Photo by Corey

I was commanding the Reds, and really being too aggressive for the quality and quantity of troops I had available. I also launched one unsupported and unwise assault just because we hadn’t yet seen the M&B close combat rules in action yet. Now that we have, I won’t be doing that again… I badly damaged one White section, but utterly destroyed my largest rifle section doing so. Close combat in M&B is indeed decisive and bloody!

White Russian Cossacks. Photo by Corey
White Russian Cossacks. Photo by Corey

There’s still more Russians on my painting table, both Reds & Whites, and I’m looking forward to getting them into the game!

Reds & Whites in the Mud & the Blood

The Russian Civil War figures I’ve been painting had their first outing Saturday evening, as Corey and I lined them up and tried out Through the Mud & the Blood out for the first time.

Whites at the wall
Whites at the wall, Reds in the field

 

The evening was only a partial success, but I have to say it wasn’t the fault of the rules, it was our fault as players! We’ve been playing .45 Adventure and other pulp rules the last couple of years, which are fairly low-lethality and overall fairly forgiving when it comes to morale, fully automatic weapons and that sort of thing. Mud & Blood is… not.

As mentioned in the previous post, we used Scenario One, “The Platoon Attacking a Strongpoint” as the basis for our game, with Reds attacking instead of British and Whites defending instead of Germans. Both games, the Reds got clobbered. I think the closest a Bolshevik trooper got to the White trench was about 14 inches or so, and that was for all of a couple minutes until the White Maxim HMG unjammed and blew the Reds away.

Let’s just say that under the M&B rules, a unit reduced to 5 troopers from 9 and carrying 12 Shock Points is not going to be useful for quite a while, if ever…

Whites man the wall
Whites man the wall

We actually played the same setup twice in one evening, switching sides for the second game. Two games in about four hours, with stoppages to reread the rules, rebeer the participants, mutually mull over tactical choices, swear at the dice and such is very respectable. The card-driven activation keeps things moving at a good clip, even when you’re brand new to the rules.

Basically, we spent the evening drinking beer and recapitulating, in 28mm, the mistakes and lessons of the first years of the Great War. Do not charge machine guns. For Dog’s sake, have something resembling a tactical plan. “Charge that emplacement!” is not, in fact, an actual viable tactical plan. Pitting ordinary riflemen against an entrenched machinegun is more than slightly unfair to the riflemen. Things like that.

We want to try it all again, with slightly different forces as I finish painting more Russians for both sides. Look for more mud and more blood here in the future!

First Mud & Blood Game This Evening

Quiet around here lately, primarily because all of my hobby time has been taken up painting White Russians for this evening’s first outing of Russian Civil War-flavoured Through the Mud & the Blood.

We’re using the first scenario from the TFL scenario book Stout Hearts & Iron Troopers, “The Platoon Attacking a Strongpoint”, with the defending Germans swapped out for Whites and the attacking British swapped for Reds. The British platoon in the scenario has all the Lewis guns, dedicated bombers and rifle grenades of a fully-evolved late WW1 Western Front British unit, all of which the Reds lack, so the Reds might get a fifth rifle section to make up the lack of specialized firepower.

Off to pack figures and head for the game, report here tomorrow, hopefully with photos if any of them turn out!

RCW Cards Released for M&B

Red & White cards for RCW M&B

You saw the preview here a few days ago, and now they’re ready: the first release of my Initiative Cards for playing Russian Civil War conflicts with Through The Mud & The Blood by TooFatLardies.

The PDF file is 7 pages and 4.3Mb, and is RCW Cards (PDF).

The first three pages are the basic cards you’ll probably need for smaller games, the three pages after that have some of the more specialized cards you probably won’t need all the time (and some duplicate cards for larger battles), and finally there’s a sheet of partially blank cards for you to customize for your own purposes.

This set just has the basic cards from the main M&B rules, with none of the specialized cards suggested in any of the supplements. I’ll probably include them in an update, and if you’ve got any other suggestions or things you’d like to see included, please leave a suggestion below!

If anyone is able to help with Russian-language or just Russian-flavoured text, please leave a comment below. I’d be especially interested in alternate text for the Snifter, Storm and Air Support cards.

Russian Civil War Blinds

A number of the TooFatLardies games, including Through The Mud And The Blood, feature “Blinds” — markers used on the table at the start of the game to disguise the exact location and composition of your force and introduce some fog-of-war elements with a minimum of bookkeeping.

RCW Blinds
A quick screenshot of the two styles of RCW Blinds
Richard of TFL recently put out a PDF with a couple of generic blind markers to support his recently released I Ain’t Been Shot Mum, 3rd Edition WW2 rules — they’re on the TFL Yahoo Group, assuming you’re a member. They’re rather elegant oval markers, designed to print about 6″ wide and 4″ deep.

These inspired me to fire up Inkscape last night and create blinds for the Russian Civil War forces I am building for Mud & Blood. Continue reading Russian Civil War Blinds