Thursday, March 14, 2013

Battle Report - 28mm WW1 In Greyscale, 28mm

Is that 28mm WW1 in grey scale? Yes - it is.
I am very fortunate to be part of an amazing gaming group here in Winnipeg, and one of the things I enjoy the most is when one member of the group all of a sudden rolls out with some awesome project and you get to game it on the table.  I remember when Dallas suddenly rolled out with his FuturKom lads, and Mike F suddenly revealed an awesome force of modern Russian Federation troops (something we need to hit the table with soon...).  It's cool to see new project, new inspiration, new ideas.

The 6'x4' table - the lock is at the bottom, and the bridge towards the top
The Entente's objective - the locks

German Uhlans scout things out
Fawcett Ave "founding director" Curt C - proprietor of the Analogue Hobbies blog - was always a master of this - new, awesome projects were common on Fawcett Avenue.  Although he now lives a few hours down the highway, he has not lost his penchant or passion for very unique, very ambitious and very compelling hobby projects that look really f***ing cool.  Who else could convince me to paint 40-man 28mm Napoleonic infantry battalions? His latest project is 28mm WW1 in grey scale, and we got play this game when he visited Winnipeg a couple of weeks ago!

German Uhlans charge the Belgian armoured "car"
The Belgian Minerva armoured "car"
The Uhlans confront the Minerva

Lone survivor of the Uhlans' crazy charge
I lack the coolness or cultural depth to explain Curt's motivations and inspirations for this undertaking, but the photos you see in this post speak for themselves - and Curt articulated it very well when he first introduced it - see here. Curt is not one for half-measures with his projects, and he is whole-hog on this one.  Troops, terrain, everything. Bottom line is that we got to have an awesome game earlier this month, one the group will certainly remember for a while.

Most maneuvering early in the game is with blinds - you can see the Entente ones taking position, while sinister Kaiser-loving blinds move up from the opposite table edge at the top of the photo

A view of the blinds from the German side
We played using "Through The Mud And The Blood" rules.  The scenario was set in the closing stages of the early phase of WW1 - armies on both sides were driving to the sea in 1914.  Belgium, desperate to hold the Germans back, was flooding its own countryside to slow them down.  The scenario imagined and encounter between the leading elements of both sides but with slightly different goals - the Germans were out to capture a bridge over a Belgian canal so they could try and turn the Entente flank, while the Entente troops were out to blow open a canal gate to continue with the flooding.  These mutually exclusive objectives would lead to carnage on the table...

German HMG team
Dallas, Frederick, Dave and Mike F would play the German side.  Kevin H and Byron M joined me on the Entente side. Curt ran the scenario with his customary meticulous attention to detail and well-developed, multi-layered plot.  The card-driven rules system seemed to lend itself well to narrative development as well as engagement in the game.  We would maneuver using blinds at first, which would be revealed either through spotting, or if they decided to shoot or take a similarly unmissable step that would single them out.  Cards determined if reinforcements came, and provided the chance for any revealed characters to add some extra oomph to attempted actions.

French troops occupy the buildings in the village - the flash of colour represents an officer

Another view of the French position
The rules revolved around the idea of "big men" - in this case unit leaders.  They are ranked at a certain level, with higher ranked leaders able to order more troops, or add more "oomph" to attempted actions.  The units themselves had two actions once activated, and could be either firing or moving, or attempting both.

Some jocks occupy the woods - that would not work out well for them...
The scenario imagined the ground already covered with mud, shell holes from earlier fighting, and a layer of water from previous flooding efforts.  So it was SLOW going.  Both sides moved along and reinforced as the cards allowed.

Germans move toward the village
Early on the Belgian Minerva armoured "car" made an appearance, as did some German Uhlans.  The Germans managed to charge the Belgians, and succeeded in knocking out the vehicle! A quintessential early WW1 encounter.  A French HMG ensured the Uhlans would not live to brag about it, however.

Germans take cover in a church grave yard

Another view of the German advance - Highlanders in the distance
Eventually it became clear that we would not be able to make it to our objective - too much mud, too many Germans!  I managed to set a French squad up in the ruins of the village while the Germans advanced along both sides of the canal.  Byron set a squad of hard hitting Highlanders in a forward defensive position in a shattered wood, while Kevin drove his Belgian infantry and dog-led HMGs toward the locks.

Germans under fire in the ruins of a church - the "spray" markers represent shock on the unit
Both sides ultimately contacted (I was needling/nagging everyone to drop the blinds and "reveal" themselves) and soon the battle was joined. My French troops and Byron's jocks were driven back by the weight of German fire, but eventually settled into defensive positions that the Germans could not unlock.  Kevin led the Belgians in a brave and futile advance/charge up the village side of the canal, but the weight of German fire was too much.

Kevin H leads the Belgians in a brave charge...
The charge goes pear-shaped, and the Belgians are driven back
In the end the battle was a draw.  The Germans got nowhere near the bridge, and we were nowhere near the canal gates.  Both sides stuck in the slow going, confused battle, fighting to a draw with serious losses on both sides...sounds like WW1 to me.

Highlanders have fallen back to a better defensive position, supported by the French HMG
These photos don't do Curt's WW1 project justice.  I encourage you to check out his blog for more pictures of the various stuff he has painted (examples here and here).  This stuff looks unreal when you see it up close.  Just contemplating all of that relativity for the different gradients etc. makes my head hurt, but Curt has pulled it off.  It's really something, a totally cool and unique game! It was just great to have the chance to play with these awesome figures and terrain.

French troops, supported by Belgian HMG team
Thanks again to Curt for running such a magnificent game, and to the large number of Fawcett gamers who came out to play.  I hope Curt can visit Winnipeg again soon!
**UPDATE - I added some photos from Dave V.  Thanks Dave!


Chris Stoesen said...

Very nice looking game. Love the Mud & Blood rules. I have a Austro-Hungarian and Russian forces on the back burner for this. I don't think I could pull off a grey scale as well as this. Very nice indeed.

TamsinP said...

Nice batrep Greg - it does sound very much like a real WW1 battle.

Great to see Curt's greyscale stuff in action on the table. It's truly an amazing project.

Curt said...

Thanks very much Greg for writing up this AAR and for the kind words.

It was a load of fun to get the lads out for a game and to have a visit. I also found it very satisfying to finally get some of these figures on the table. As many know, when you're working on a large solo project its often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and so it's a great rush to finally be able to debut your work and see it for what it was intended.

There is still tons to do. Certianly more figures and vignettes. And while I like the look of the minimalist terrain I want to do more. The next big step will be to construct a few custom boards for the later trench war period. That will be a large project in of itself. Ah, all in good time!

Thanks again!


Impcommander said...

this is one of the first times i've come across something like an entire battlefield in greyscale and there is something extremely artistic and charming about it. Very enjoyable.

Phil said...

Great repor, with fantastic figures...I love your armored car!

Curt said...

Impcommander and Phil: thanks very much for the kind words.