Saturday, 9 November 2013

Krushing the Kaiserliks

Or, Waxing the Whitecoats...
No update since August, since I haven't had the opportunity to play in any games- at least here in Tokyo.

It's been an eventful few months.  I took a few weeks off to visit Vancouver in late September.  Not strictly for holiday, and I was on my own as I was there largely on some personal business (which has also been keeping me busy since my return).  

To make matters worse, the very evening before I left we had to take one of our cats to the vet as he had been ailing.  Turns out he had advanced lymphatic cancer, and held on just long enough to pass away at home with us the day after I came back.   

My wife and I were shocked and devastated- we both were really fond of the old boy.  He was very much my wife's cat, as I had bought him for her as a present twelve years ago when we lived in Iwate, but the loss was felt keenly by the both of us.  He was a very gentle, huge softy, as are most American Shorthairs.  And after twelve years with us he had truly become a part of the family. 

So we did what all committed cat-aholics would do- we got a new one just this past weekend.  Another American Shorthair, this one a ten-month old kitten.  He has grey and black markings actually very reminiscent of the mottled pattern seen on Luftwaffe fighters during WW2. 

But my suggestion that we call him Hermann fell on deaf ears, so we settled on Kumazo instead. 
This one clearly scored high on the adorability table when rolling up his character.  And being an energetic and outgoing little chap, he is keeping us pleasantly busy!

Anyway what with business abroad, pets, new contracts at work, and assorted other demands on my time, there simply hasn't been much room for me to think upon gaming these past couple of months.  

Nevertheless, I did manage a game in with Dave Smith, Walt and the rest of the North Shore Gamers while I was in the Great White North, and Napoleonics at that.  And I have the pictures to prove it!
The game was held in Walt's basement, and Walt and Anne are always great hosts- this general cannot complain of not being well-fed on the eve of battle!

The game scenario was based on a rather well-known action fought somewhere in Belgium and which involved Allied troops on one side defending a ridge, and the French attacking them from across the valley.  At either end in the centre of the field were two farmsteads; one large, one small.  Sounds familiar?  Only in this case, it was the Austrians defending. 

I was, mais naturellement, to be commanding a division of French. The game was in its second day, and one of the French players from the previous week's game was unable to make it.  So we assumed that he had fallen on the field of glory, and that I was to leap nonchalantly into the saddle and lead the troops on to la victoire. 

Rules used were Shako II by Arty Conliffe, Chris Leach, and Dave Waxtel.  Chris Leach is one of the leading lights in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland gaming scene, and in fact had been the original owner of most of the Austrians on the table.  These are now part of Walt's collection IIRC.

Walt also had these fine buildings for us to fight over.
The French had taken shot and shell in their advance towards the ridge, and I would be going in with some battered and bruised troops.
It would be fun taking on the Kaiserliks for a change- an army for which I've always had a sneaking regard.
Time for the "Old Trousers!"
Artillery hurled their hate at one another, as well as at the French columns, but nothing really decisive seemed to result.
Walls of White.  But would they stand?
It was interesting seeing the large skirmish stands used in Shako- they appealed to the modeller in me!  Most skirmishers were more conventionally based, and this seemed to work fine with the rules.

One thing that struck me after being used to using Black Powder was the more "strict" treatment of things like line of sight,  formations, and the like. Black Powder is much looser about such issues.

Both approaches have their pros and cons, and it really depends on how you like your Napoleonic rules to play- and for that matter on the attitudes of the people you game with.

The French assault was touch and go- the first wave was forced back. 
There was a mass of cuirassiers and light cavalry- chasseurs and hussars- on our left, but these didn't really achieve much beyond pinning some Grenzers.
But a second surge by the Boys in Blue knocked out enough Austrian units to push the line back, thus gaining the field- a French win! 
Break out the champagne boys, you may never see its like again...
Chagrined Austrian Commanders.  Here Dave can be seen in the foreground, at this stage in the game clearly regretting the availability of cheap flights from Tokyo to Vancouver. 

The game was fun, although I missed some of the uncertainty that comes from Black Powder what with its blunders and multiple moves.  

But having only had one evening's worth of play under my belt, I don't have enough experience with the rules to get a real feeling for how Shako plays, especially as I had not been there for the previous week's game when a lot of the action took place. 

Still, they seemed to do the job; we got a clear result, and there were a lot of units on the table.  Our games in Tokyo have fewer units, but we use larger number of figures which makes moving and deploying more of a challenge.  Different rather than better.  

But of course, having won the game left me with a warm feeling towards Shako II then and there; as regular visitors to this blog know, the Goddess of Victory has not been overly-biased towards the French in our games here in Tokyo.

Suffice to say I wouldn't mind giving Shako II another try one day.  And it is always a real pleasure to play with the North Shore Gamers- we go back a long way!
Back in the Land of the Rising Sun, and this coming Sunday, November 17th, will see the West Tokyo Wargamers put on a Napoleonic game at a gaming convention across town in Funabori, way over in East Tokyo near Chiba. I hope to have a few new units for the event, plus some buildings I've been working on.  

Here's one: what all wargaming tables need, a monument to some local boy who made the big time in some way or another.  May come in useful as an objective marker.
The Funabori event is predominantly a board gaming convention, but it gives us a chance to "show the flag" for the growing miniatures gaming hobby here.  

Photos will follow.