Wednesday 17 January 2024

January Gamefest: Sino-Jap, La Haye Sainte, Ligny, Norway 1940

January brought our traditional four-day gamefest: excellent company, splendid wargames, fine victuals, wide-ranging learned conversation - altogether the epitomy of the HQGE. To summarise four days of gaming goodness in brief, we played:

1. Tai'erzhuang (Sino-Japanese War, 1938) in 20mm using homebrewed rules.

2. La Haye Sainte (1815) in 28mm using modified BBB.

3. Ligny (1815) in 15mm using BBB.

4. Roa (Norway, 1940) in 15mm using homebrewed rules.

Here are about 15 annotated pics to give you a tiny glimpse of how much fun we had.

Tai'erzhuang, as visited last January as well. CB's armies are too beautiful not to use at every opportunity and the scenario merits replaying. In the foreground is an incense burner that added to the atmosphere, literally and metaphorically. The AFV right foreground is the fearsome Japanese SS-Ki flamethrower tank.

We played TEZ twice. First time up I was the Chinese mobile force, including Sdkfz222, CV3/33s, PzI and Vickers E, seen here arriving ontable and immediately rueing not spreading out more (the skull shows where Japanese mortars have already caused casualties). The khaki Chinese troops are Mexican federales figures, I believe, complete with goggles on their caps.

Scott joined me with a mighty Chinese motorcycle battalion.
(I think the figures are actually sold as Polish.)

Game 2: La Haye Sainte! Young Charlie's scenario. Basically BBB rules, but a unit is just a couple of battalions, musket range increased to 6" and made a little more deadly. Worked really well. Mark F and I commanded the British line. Looks like Sharpe is in the sandpit.

LHS viewed from the French side. For the scenario, it was divided into two triangular halves that could each hold one unit. CB's columns are about to go in. Special rules for pioneers with axes, obviously.

View of most of the table. I think it was 12'x4'. Five French infantry brigades and associated cavalry versus the Prince of Orange, Picton and Alten, plus heavy cavalry offtable. Looks like a proper traditional wall-to-wall Napoleonic wargame line-out, doesn't it! But there were still decisions to be made and maneuvers to be executed.

Black Watch and Gordon Highlanders. Between them and the French in the distance you can see a blurry thin blue line of Dutch troops. There were three of these Dutch/Belgian units out front. These started the game Disrupted. For their first activations on Turn 1, Mark and I rolled three successive pairs of snake-eyes, meaning all three units lost a stand and retired behind the hedge, the Raw ones becoming Spent immediately. I make that a 46,656-to-1 chance. Our luck improved after that.

The French assault goes in on the hedgeline. Our left centre was soon breached and we took heavy casualties all along the line. My Hanoverian militia evaporated. Only the high quality of the British infantry kept us in the game. We were reeling and creaking until Mark unleashed the Household Cavalry. The French attack had opened a gap between the French units now in La Haye Sainte and those in the centre, where a couple of their units had taken a pounding already. The British heavies smashed into these, broke a square and wiped out another regiment, winning the game for the Allies - just as they did when we fought the whole of Waterloo in 6mm last year.

And so to Game 3: Ligny! This was basically Dave T's scenario from the BBB group files, but adapted by Rob to add some what-ifs (which did not transpire). Rob had put in a lot of work in the weeks before, making sure the troops, terrain and scenario were all ready to go, and it paid off. Here we see Bluecher next to the windmill with the Prussian centre around Ligny. (Proper Ligny church model, top left.)

The whole Ligny battlefield. More Prussians will arrive from lower left and lower right. French march on from the top board edge. Ligny centre of pic, left of my Grosse Batterie that was soon dismantled by the Imperial Guard Artillery. Crippling scenario rules for Prussian low ammo didn't help.

Les français arrivent. We held Ligny for a long time against 3:1 odds and repeated assaults but were eventually ejected by the Imperial Guard. Meanwhile, overlooking the fact that most of the important objectives were in our left rear, I had encouraged CB to commit the Prussian right wing against the French left flank in the irrelevant top right quarter of the battlefield. This left Tim's Prussian left wing of mostly raw Landwehr to be crushed by imperious French cuirassiers. It was a tough fight but we ended up soundly beaten. CB blamed Tim's inexperience. I blame my tactical error of washing down breakfast with Calvados, not to mention elevenses and lunch too. We discussed the merits of tweaking the victory conditions etc, but really they worked fine to give appropriate structure to what was a magnificent game with a properly Napoleonic look and feel.

Anyone remember this WWII skirmish ruleset that Scott and I published over 20 years ago? For our last game (a short morning session before I left), Scott set up Roa. This was the first skirmish scenario he published, set in Norway in 1940. We used his homebrewed rules that he is calling "Arc of Fire 2" but that don't really have much of AoF left - more BBB DNA in there, plus ideas from various other places.

The snowy Roa battlefield. Germans arrive from the left. Norwegians start hidden. They aim to hold the house and/or the hill in the top right corner; the Germans will try to exit troops off the right edge.

The German advance encounters nothing but reindeer initially. Behold the mighty Panzer I! Better than anything the Norwegians have, anyway.

The first ambush is sprung. Snowsuits have their pros and cons:
harder to spot than feldgrau, but they don't half show the blood.

Situation when we had to call it a day: mass combat developing around the bridge and the house objective. Sheep top left are unperturbed and unwilling to leave the little green circles they have nibbled through the snow.

The real weather outside matched the Roa game inside.

So endeth another fantastic January gamefest. Now for a bit of online gaming, followed by a stint of the regular Monday club games, and of course the next Bash Day coming up in May. If you can make it to Daventry on Sunday 19 May, you can be assured of an HQGE of your own!


  1. Will Arc of Fire 2 ever see publication?

    I was, still am, a big fan of the original.



    1. Thanks, Pete! Yes, I think that is Scott's plan. It'll be a little while yet - early days.

    2. Excellent news. If it gets to the stage of needing beta testers I'd be happy to help.



    3. Cheers, Pete. Scott says playtesters are welcome in general, but it is too early. He needs more and better written rules before that happens and based on other priorities that state is 1+ years away.

    4. Thanks for that- will be happy to test as and when the rules become ready.



  2. Good show! For 28mm Napoleonics I can also recommend Sam Mustafa's Lassale 2. The Istanbul group is having a jolly good time for it. I bet building some good historical scenarios based on division actions would be possible.

    1. Good to hear. As you know, I'm a big-battle addict, so division actions don't excite me much, but I'm glad the guys in Stamboul are having fun.


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