Tag Archives: TFL

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!

All Quiet On The Warbard Front?

Quiet around here; I was away for a week earlier in December visiting family out of town, caught a rather unpleasant cold right at the end of that trip, then all the Christmas holiday disruptions landed… which means this is my only post for the entire month of December.

I’m still messing around with converting Reaper Bones figures into a Blood Bowl Goblin team. I have ten line-goblins and two trolls in progress, and need to do up the various secret weapon goblins to finish up the basic team soon! We’re doing a mid-winter mini-league starting early in January and I’ve said I’ll play goblins, which puts me on deadline to get them at least basically playable if not finished in about a week!

I’ve picked up TooFatLardies’ Chain of Command platoon-level rules recently. CoC is a WW2 platoon-level ruleset, which isn’t an era I’m interested in, but TFL’s 2014 Christmas Special includes a set of rules for melding their WW1 Mud & Blood rules with Chain of Command, and as a huge fan of M&B I’m looking forward to trying out the M&B/CoC blended rules soon.

Richard of TFL also has a spectacular set of Afghan buildings in progress on his Lard Island blog. He’s building them for the modern conflict in Afghanistan, but the architecture hasn’t changed much in decades if not centuries and the 1919 2nd Anglo-Afghan War and associated interwar Northwest Frontier conflicts are right in the same part of the world and right in my main WW1/Interwar era of interest. Tempting, that, especially as I already have most of a platoon of British in tropical gear appropriate for the NWF.

Hope everyone had a good holiday season, a satisfactory 2014, and a great New Years! Onward to 2015!

Links of Interest, 14 April 2013

Another semi-random collection of links to things that have caught my eye recently!

Over at BigLee’s, a nice roundup of methods of stripping paint from miniatures. Given that product availability varies around the world, it’s nice to have a fairly comprehensive guide like this; it increases everyone’s chances of finding a stripping method that is both available in your area and works with your miniatures (you can use things on metal minis that will destroy plastic!) & chosen paint. (hat tip to MinatureWargaming.com for this link!)

Ghosts of Hefei is a Kickstarter campaign for a set of gang warfare rules set in China in the 2060s, with both 28mm & 15mm gang figures planned. I’ve done a few Kickstarters, and might well be pledging for this one too… They’ve posted some shots of very nice looking 15mm figures so far. (this one is via Dropship Horizon, which should be everyone’s first stop for 15mm SF news!)

To round out this short Links of Interest, TooFatLardies are having their “Something For The Weekend, Sir?” Sale on until the 22nd of April. 20% off everything in the store… this might mean it’s finally time to snag that copy of their recent science fiction rules, Quadrant 13…

The Invisibility of Good Rules

No, not rules for Frodo sneaking up on Smaug with that useful ring of his (although possibly related), but the trick of having good rules that you know moderately well become invisible in play, so that you concentrate on gameplay and tactics rather than the minutiae of the rules.

This was prompted by something Sean, our newbie Through the Mud & the Blood player, said right at the end of last Sunday’s M&B-powered Russian Civil War game. I’m paraphrasing slightly, but he said something to the effect of, “I liked that the rules got out of the way and let you just play the game, rather than having to stop every two minutes to look up some special rule or try to interpret something out of a Codex that seems to contradict what’s in the main rulebook.”

This struck me as a useful expansion on something I’ve mentioned here before and long held as a personal tenant, that you should value flow of the game and fun value over nitpicking details of the rules you’re using. The additional thought is that good rules will assist with this process rather than hinder it. This might seem obvious, but it bears pointing out.

I posted this to the TooFatLardies mailing list, and Richard Clarke, the author of the Mud & Blood rules, replied, “Music to my ears. I keep banging on about how rules should be as “invisible” as possible, so it’s good to hear stories like that one.”

Any set of rules, even the most complex RPG rules, can become relatively invisible if enough people in the group know them well enough, but elegantly written rules let you pull the trick off faster. Off the top of my head, two other rules systems that become nearly invisible in play and are also personal favourites are the old fantasy battle game Hordes of the Things (a variant of the famous DBA) and the fantasy skirmish system Songs of Blades & Heroes from Ganesha Games. It’s also one of the attractions of playing an unfamiliar set of rules at a convention, where the details of the rules are the referee’s problem and you can concentrate on getting your troops to do things and rolling the dice when the ref tells you to.

Anyone got any other “invisible” rules to recommend, ones that get out of your way and let you concentrate on tactics and flow instead of the rules?

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.

RCW Cards for Mud & Blood

rcw m&b cards
A couple of cards for both sides for RCW-flavoured Mud & Blood gaming.
The TFL rules “Through the Mud & the Blood” use a Game Deck of cards for initiative and game events. The construction of each deck will vary for each game depending on the forces available but there’s a limited total number of cards and many of the same cards will appear in every game.

With that in mind, I’ve started work on a couple of sheets of Russian Civil War cards for the White Russian and Bolshevik sides. Nothing in publishable form yet, but here’s a quick sneak preview for your amusement — and because blogging about this stuff encourages me to actually finish it!

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