Sunday, 22 July 2018

Shinyloo Two- Bigger Longer Shinier !!

Saturday 21st July saw the Tantobie Warfare and Tactical Society gather for it's July meeting. 5 members  attended and I was in the chair as Umpire  so I thought I'd run a second "Shinyloo" game using my retro Napoleonic collection. Especially as I had added a good few figure to both sides . We would use the aged but still very usuable rules as outlined in Young and Lawford's wonderful book "Charge" or How to Play War Games" first published in 1967  of which we had 3 copies available.
 Forces were as follows
The Field of Battle- even the scenery is deliberately "retro" .

The British deployment. 

  Four and a half Companies of Line Infantry
 2 - slightly under strength companies of Rifles
 1 Battery of Artillery
1 unit of Dragoons- The Scots Greys.
Or about 110 infantry 14 Cavalry and 2 guns with crew plus a few staff.

 The French
The French deploying. 

4 Companies of Infantry.
 2 Under strength companies of Light Infantry
 1 Battery of Artillery
 1 Heavy Cavalry
 1 Light Cavalry.
Or about 110 infantry24 cavalry and 2 guns and crews plus Napoleon Shinyparte and staff.
The forces were much more even that in the first encounter in February as well as being a little larger in Infantry
The French Cavalry advance
The French Cavalry -after the Rifles had popped away at them 

So fortifying himself with his pint  your Gentle Umpire  began. Although I had toyed with a few rules amaendments I decided to play this game as per the book . This being because as it was only our second attempt I though it a little early to amend at this point. Next time probably , but not today.
 Sides were. Mechanical Shaun and Floating Jeff as the French
 Andrew the Tekkie and Theatrical Steve as the Brits.
 The stage was set the Beer had been drawn so off we go.
Cavalry fmelee- The Greys see off the French Heavies 

It was obvious from the outset that the French would have to take the initiative as the British were heard to mutter remarks to the effect that "we are nailing ourselves to this ridge"- in true Wellingtonian style.  So the first moves were French. On their right they advanced their cavalry to try a right Hook against the British line. . Fire from a Rifles company emptied several saddles and the Greys then steamed in . The resulting melee saw off the French heavies but the lights - avoiding the initial clash sought to outflank the Greys and catch them whilst they reformed - which they did. However the actual melee did not go quite to plan (some Bum French dice) and whilst both sides had to retire-the wrong way- both sides cavalry were now effectively spent and would take no more part in the fight.
More Cavalry fighting- The Greys hang on like grim death  to get a draw against the Chasseurs 

On their left the French went for another hook. Sending a mass of light infantry forward against the Rifle company. A fire fight broke out which eventually forced the Rifles back into the wood but the French supports were late and despite trying hard the left hook never mad contact with the British line. This was mainly because said British line shifted towards it's left to compensate for the loss of the Greys and to cover a possible advance by the Imperial Guard who were beginning to look a tad threatening.
The French left Hook slowly gets going. 

 In the centre the fight had become an artillery dual with the honours first swinging towards the French . Indeed at one point the 44th foot looked decidedly shaky losing almost 50% to the French guns and in response the RHA at first could not find the range (Bum dice from Steve!). Only the British re- alignment saving them . However as the Guard began its advance  the guns got the range and caused havoc in 2 turns of firing the Guard were smashed to under strength and at this point the French conceded.
The Umpire's pint surveys the carnage. 

 So in the "Shinyloo stakes" honours are now even at one victory each.   So something must be working right. As Umpire it was deeply amusing to watch each side mumbling amongst them selves whilst considering next moves orders. Much and many secretive gesticulations were in evidence from both sides- staff conferences can be murder or so it seems.

Yes there will be other games in this series and also with other "retro" rule sets.
 Once again our Thanks to Landlady Jean for  excellent Beef Butties ans pints of White Hot- our most popular tipple. Next- end of August - some one else should be in the chair.

Friday, 6 July 2018

How can rules be "interesting" of themselves.

Now here is a more or less serious question. I've had various chaps tell me over the years that this or that rule set or game is "interesting" - now as to quite what they mean by that I often cannot tell. Do they mean the period is interesting or the actual rule book or  even the actual rules.
 Now I am by no means a rules junkie but even I have amassed about 30 or so set of rules (other than those contained in the various "Classic" wargames books) and hand on heart not a single  rule book is interesting of itself. Hard to read- yes certainly- try the incomprehensibility of "Firefly"  for example. Tedious- without a doubt - almost any rule book has tedious bits but some are more tedious than others. But interesting as a stand alone piece of reading? Never. Not a Chance. Rather watch grass grow. Reading rules is a necessary chore to help you achieve a goal  which, in my case, is a decent historically based game that resembles - as far as possible -the period I am trying to depict. This is the fun bit. The rules, well, they simply ain't. They are merely a means to an end. A toolbox.
 Of course these days publishers like to pretty up the deal so they can charge a higher premium. Hence all the pictures and other associated eye-candy- to make an otherwise tedious publication "interesting" enough to make the punter part with thirty notes or thereabouts. Likewise the "explanations"- some of which are very appropriate but some of which are so bloody patronising that it makes your fists itch !
 Now in the greater scheme of things tedious to read does not automatically preclude any rule set working well on the table- though it can slow things down awfully. Finding the bits you need in "Black Powder" is middling tough at best unless you have a prodigious boredom threshold- which I don't-and that was one, of several, things that put me off the set in the first place. It has resided on my shelf unused for a couple of years now. I just can't bear the chore of tunnelling through it. "Pike and Shot" from the same stable is far better but again not  stand alone interesting .
Now as I type this I wonder if the lack of interest in many of these documents  is because I'm pretty historical-have actually read actual history books (sometimes without pictures!!) and- in certain areas- know my stuff so obvious -and not so obvious- historical bloopers in rules do tend to get my back up. Not only that the hushed reverence with which some dudes go on about this or that rule set is positively nauseating especially when they mention that awful phrase "interesting mechanisms" - What ?  Rolling  a dice or two or turning a card is .. interesting - what without money on it !  Yes I'm taking the mickey  but the way some blokes go on about rules you would think any given set was actually important even unto approaching Holy Writ.
 Now if you have read this far you may have noticed that I said at the beginning- excepting the classic wargaming books- and that is largely true Featherstone, Grant Wise  Gush and Young all had interesting things to say in their various books- whose remit was significantly wider than the narrow confines of the latest sci-fant skirmish a -like but there have been some published  turkeys too- The PSL guide to wargaming by Quarrie is pretty much a waste of space- full of WRG a like rules as was the fad at the time of publishing as is his Armoured Wargaming- both of which infest my shelves. Niether are particularly interesting of themselves other than perhaps examples of the poorer side of what has gone before.
 I can see how you need the right tools to do the job - so yes a given mechanism might be useful if it makes the troops behave in an historical way- therein lies the interest - but of itself - no . This is possibly why I find Fantasy  gaming especially so unappealing- even when I like the actual figures-.A small part of me would quite like to go adventuring in Hyboria- as in Robert Howard - but only a small part and lets be honest this kind of stuff NEVER games the way it reads so it becomes merely a dice rolling exercise.

So to finish - how can rules be interesting of themselves- rather than for what they MAY enable you to do- short answer - no they can't - unless you have a different informed opinion