Saturday, 13 November 2021

Captain Darling in the Sudan OR Working on a Tan while Battling Natives!

Our Christmas game looms, read on for relevant details gleaned from the diaries of Captain Darling...

Captain Darling posing by a statue during his 1886 Expedition into the deepest depths of the jungles of Central Africa...reportedly the expedition discovered a lost plateau and while exploring it engaged in all manner of exciting adventures and made many curious discoveries...here Darling is seen standing beside what appeared to be Egyptian ruins where they should not be!
This Picture was taken by Percy Fiddler a member of Captain Darling's 1886 Expedition with a 
prototype Eastman Portable Camera, these became commercially available in 1888!

During 1884 with the Mad Mahdi running rampant and Her Most Glorious Majesty's African Possessions in great peril Captain Darling stepped forward (as one would expect) donned his uniform and headed to the front of the battleline!

After an arduous journey across the Indian Ocean by cutter Darling and a small contingent of fellow Antipodean volunteers landed at Port Su√Ękin in early September 1884. Knowing his ol' mucker Chinese Gordon was in a spot of trouble in Khartoum he and his stout band made plans to travel there to join him. It soon became apparent to Darling that due to the Mahdist siege of the city this was not possible and the good Captain decided to wait for the relief force from Britain to arrive so they could join that. As it turned out waiting for Sir Wolseley's column was a mistake as it arrived too late to relieve Gordon and Khartoum! Despite this disappointment Captain Darling still joined Wolseley's force and was at the Battle of Abu Klea where he won great accolades and of course many medals for his bravery! After this victory believing the Mahdists had been defeated and order was once again restored to Victoria's African Empire Darling and his brave cohort departed Sudan. They left Khartoum in April 1885 for the Antipodes arriving in Adelaide, South Australia in time for tea and scones in January 1887.

Now dear reader it is at this point where our story gets interesting; why did it take so long for Captain Darling and his comrades to arrive at Port Adelaide, why were two members of the contingent missing both Bluey and Stan had just disappeared, how did Bert lose the lower part of his left arm and finally what was in the large number of elephant sized crates that accompanied them?

Rumour and gossip abounded regarding this Expedition, firstly in the fine drinking establishments of Adelaide and then around the globe spreading rapidly thanks to the wonders of modern telegraphy! It was said that Captain Darling had led his boys on a escapade of adventure and daring do in the environs of Central Africa! There were stories of exotic animals bigger than elephants and more ferocious than lions as well as treasures beyond the wildest  dreams of average man in the street! Each of these wild stories varied in their details and minutiae but they all included one phrase 'the Land of the Lost'! 

'The Land of the Lost', what dear reader is the significance of this? Stay tuned for more details about this!

Next Time, The Land of Lost Scenario!

Saturday, 21 August 2021

The Battle For Chateaux 'X' - FUBAR VSF AAR

Hello again Dear Readers it's been a while but I'm back and I'll hopefully will be able to divert some more time to my VSF passion over the next few months! This post, my first in quite a while is a FUBAR VSF AAR, yep I got the TSOG guys to play a game last Monday!

Background

The Great Steam Wars of the 1880's engulfed the World and battles between the European Empires raged across the length and breadth of virtually every Continent! The Low Countries in Europe were a hot spot of activity and as allegiances and alliances changed Armies of the Great Empires fought many actions within their borders...one of those was fought for the possession of Chateaux 'X'!

The Battle for Chateaux 'X' begin German Steam Armour advances with Infantry support!

The Armies!

British Army - Lord Arfwitt - the 22nd Steam Assault Detachment
Unit                              Activation         Expertise          Armour           Suppression     Hero Pts
HQ                                    2+                    4+                    6+                    2                     2
Guard Infantry                  2+                    3+                    5+                    4                      2
Armoured Infantry 1/2      3+                    4+                    5+                    3                      1
Armoured Infantry 2/2      3+                    4+                    5+                    3                      1
Line Infantry 1/2               4+                    5+                    6+                    2                      1
Line Infantry 2/2               4+                    5+                    6+                    2                      1
Naval Auxiliaries              4+                    5+                    6+                    1                      1
Artillery Detachment        3+                    4+                    5+                    2                      1
Automaton MG                3+                    3+                     4+/6+           Special Rules     0

German Army Oberst Oinker - 3rd Grenadier Gruppe
Unit                              Activation         Expertise          Armour           Suppression     Hero Pts
HQ                                   2+                    4+                    6+                    2                      2
Jager Border Guards       2+                    3+                    5+                    4                      2
Armoured infantry 1/2      3+                    4+                    5+                    3                      1
Armoured Infantry 2/2      3+                    4+                    5+                    3                      1
Line Infantry 1/3               4+                    5+                    6+                    2                      1
Line Infantry 2/3               4+                    5+                    6+                    2                      1
Line Infantry 3/3               4+                    5+                    6+                    1                      1
Artillery Detachment        3+                    4+                    5+                    2                      1
Automaton MG                3+                    3+                    4+/6+            Special Rules     0

All Vehicles       
Activation         Expertise          Armour             Suppression      Speed      Crew
      3+                    4+                    3+                        2                   10”          5/6

Vehicle Notes;
Vehicle Activation roll of a 1 requires an unmodified 1D6 Roll on Breakdown Table
Vehicles must move 3” straight ahead before it can turn up to 45 degrees
Vehicles without turret have 6 man Crew

Special Rules;
1. Heroic Points can be spent to reroll a die per Point HQ may use its Points on Unit within 12”
Gain 1D6 movement
Gain 1 FP factor for a shot
Reroll a save at 3+
2. Automaton requires 2 successful unsaved hits in the one attack to kill, 1 unsaved hit causes a roll on the Malfunction table, if Controller is closer to firer than the Automaton he may be targeted and has 6+ Armour, the Controller must be within 12 Inches of the Automaton if not it rolls to activate a pass and  it remains stationary a failure and it rolls on the Malfunction Table
An Automaton Activation roll of a 1 requires an unmodified 1D6 Roll on the Malfunction Table

Scenario Rules & Victory Conditions

The Chateaux 'X' scenario begins with both sides placed within 6" of their table edge, one Armoured Steam Wagon enters along the road for each side per turn for the first three turns and at the end of turn three each side places their Artillery Detachment anywhere within 20" of their table edge, once placed it can not move but it can pivot.
The game runs for eight complete turns and at the end of the game victory is given to the side with the most Victory Points at that time.
Victory Points are earned for;
1 VP per live figure within 12" of the edge of Chateaux 'X' on the player's half of the table
2 VPs per active vehicle within 12" of the edge of Chateaux 'X' on the player's half of the table
2 VPs per live figure with 12" of the edge of Chateaux 'X' on the other player's half of the table
4 VPs per active vehicle with 12" of the edge of Chateaux 'X' on the other player's half of the table

Chateaux 'X', everyone's objective, seems the Senior Officers of both sides wanted a classy bivouac for the night!

The AAR

With cold Autumn nights approaching many Commanders sought better lodgings and Chateaux 'X' drew the attention of both Lord Arfwitt and Oberst Oinker, they manoeuvred their forces to gain control of this vital location in the lowlands of Holland.

The Germans deployed with a strong right wing and their elite Jagers in their centre with their Automaton under the control Engineer OberLeutnant Willi Orvontee. The British placed their troops in a long line on a board front with their Guard Grenadiers in the rear and their Automaton supporting their left flank. Both sides expected reinforcements of Steam Powered Armoured Wagons and Artillery which would enter along the road.

Both sides advanced aggressively the British skewing their advance toward the dead ground behind Chateaux 'X' where as the German continued their attack on a wide front!

The road was the centre of the action for the Steam Powered Armoured Wagons of both sides and it became a battle within a battle. In a confused firefight interspersed with Breakdown Events a draw ensued, One British vehicle was destroyed, one bogged down and the other dogged by fires fought on valiantly earing them double VPs, while for the Germans two vehicles were destroyed and the other successfully ended the game near the Chateaux giving them VPs.

While the armoured clash continued the foot soldiers of both sides drew closer to the Chateaux and each other. Initially the British had the better of the exchange of fire but near the font entrance of the Chateaux the garden became a killing field and two British Units were hammered by the German Armoured Infantry.

During the last two turns the British artillery came into play pushing back two German Units and then the fresh British Grenadier Guard Unit was released and on entering the fray unleashed a barrage of fire that made the difference! They defeated all the Germans facing them and they then pressed forwards to earn even more VPs for their side!

At this point the action ended with a British triumph over their German foes, they scored 54 Victory Points to Germans 34!

Our Battlefield, the British are in the foreground!

The British initial positions...

Captain Walee and his new Automaton on the extreme British left.

The Germans deployment mostly hidden in the fruit orchid...

The Huns left flank advances!
(the blue mini die indicates Units that have Heroic Points they can spend during play!)

The British move forward carefully shielding their reserve, elite Guard Grenadiers armed with the latest repeating rifles and grenade launchers with a Naval Unit...

Germans massing at the edge of the orchid about to begin their grand attack! Their best Unit is ready to lead the way!

The first German Steam Powered Armoured Wagon to arrive coordinated closely with the Infantry!

"Mensch Vorwarts!" The German advance begins!

Meanwhile the British Steam Armour was in difficulty, a fire broke out in their leading vehicle!
(the infamous Breakdown Table strikes!)

Not to be outdone the Germans Armoured Behemoths too fell foul of fickle mechanics! This allowed the British to hit the middle vehicle below destroying it!

Meanwhile the first infantry casualties are taken, the Germans best troops, their Jagers take hits from opportunity fire!

The roadway became the location of a hot armoured action! Below in the distance two British vehicles move down the road toward their German counterparts, a third one after putting out an internal fire veered off the road when a second fire broke out (curses!). In the foreground the two surviving German vehicles face them.

In an attempt to clear the road for their last vehicle the second British Armoured Wagon moved off the road but due to a power surge it ended up bogged down in the Chateux's pond! It became a pillbox for the rest of the game, luckily though it was within 12" of the Chateaux so qualified for VPs at the last moment!


Firing was now general across the line as both sides Units advanced, initially the British got the better of this but in the foreground of the below a shattered Unit of Redcoats retire losing seven out of ten figures (the red disc indicates routing units!)!

The British artillery deployed on their left and proved deadly targeting the German foot troops...

The final German push supported by artillery looks promising and despite losses they were advancing steadily!
Note the lonely looking German Automaton ambling forward in the centre of the picture, its operator, Willi Orvontee is lurking near the artillery behind the hedge.

Ground level view of the German right...

Despite losses the British gunners toiled and their work reaped rewards, they broke two German Units pushing them back out of the VP area of the Battlefield!

The last German Steam Armoured Wagon destroys the the British vehicle facing it and trundles down the road! It ended up earning the Germans VPs.

The final dispositions around Chateaux 'X'! These are the figures/vehicles that earned the sides VPs, the British are to the right and Germans (obviously) are to the left, it was 54 British VPs to 34 German VPs! Take that Huns, three resounding cheers her Her Majesty Queen Victoria! Hussah!

The Summary!

Alan and I lined up as the British and Dave and Maurice took the reins of the Germans. This was a proven scenario formula I have used many times before, it forces players to advance to a central point and if the want to win 'advance lots'! The victory conditions rewarded the attacking and both sides did that, uncertainties of the Breakdown Table ensured that both sides Steam Armour were not major influences and as usual the Automatons proved unreliable (as they should be). The British tactic of retaining a strong reserve in their Guard Unit as against the Germans advancing their best Unit, the Jagers proved crucial and was telling in the end result. We haven't played these rules for ages but they were quickly picked up and the game ran quickly and smoothly. Fun was had by all and the fickle steam vehicles added a lot to the entertainment! 

Hopefully we'll get another game in before the FUBAR VSF Christmas Extravaganza!

Next Time; Back to the Russians are Coming Games!

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Terror on Skull Island - Pulp Action AAR

And so our intrepid Adventurers took their first steps into the dark jungle of Skull Island...

The 'star' of the Terror on Skull Island Scenario, Kong seen atop the Island's Volcano...

The Action on Skull Island!

All four Expeditions pushed forward into the dense undergrowth as fast as they could inspecting every square inch of the ground they covered...



...and it was not long before the dangers of Skull Island began to reveal themselves; the SS Titan’s First Mate Erasmus nearly drowned in a fetid swamp which he and his ship mates were forced to circumnavigate…

…then Needlework Ladies became engaged in fisticuffs with some fiery Natives whom they eventually overcame.

The English Gentlemen and the Nazis soon split into two groups to cover the ground more quickly…

…it was a decision which the Nazis would later rue!

The unlucky Sailors meanwhile ran into quicksand and Erasmus again required rescue…

… only for them to encounter even more quicksand into which Popeye slipped into and had to be saved from…

...encountering quicksand seemed like a walk in the park compared to the the experience of the Needlework Guild's Les Beau-Dyke when turning a corner while following a small jungle path she was confronted by a monstrous Man-Eating, or in her case Woman-Eating Plant! Reacting quickly she sprayed it with perfume (quite a nice Parisian scent) and while the nasty plant recoiled she ducked back the way she had come!

…the fauna as well as the environs of Skull Island were taking a toll, Nazi Average Bloke Schutze Hans Mauser noticed a pretty butterfly as he stumbled through the dense foliage. He decided to snare it to take back to the Fatherland for research purposes, unfortunately it stung him, quickly his faced swelled to twice its normal size and moments later he fell dead before his comrades Feldwebel Schultz and Schutze Willi Luger!

The rest of the Nazis led by Walther Bergman continued on unaware of the fate of Hans Mauser…

...in the meantime the Needlework Guild after getting the better of the Native Warriors pressed on toward the Volcano only to be ambushed by even more Natives determined to make the Ladies day worse than it had already been! Professor Les Beau-Dyke and Fanny Farhts took them on and dispatched them in due course…

The Ladies were not the only Explorers in strife, while they battled Natives the Sailors ventured into the Pygmy Village only to be confronted with a Dinosaur! The creature leapt from the jungle literally ripping Popeye to shreds only to then slink back into the undergrowth from which it had sprung its hunger sated.

After this horrific incident the Men of the SS Titan and the Ladies of the Needlework Guild clashed in the Pygmy Village. After a brief exchange of shots, the Sailors scurried off leaving Cookie lying in a pool of his own blood riddled with bullets from the Guild’s Lewis Gunner, Helen Back. She sneered after the retreating Sailors taunting them while cooling changing her guns magazine!

The Englishmen at this time were plodding forward and quietly amassing Artefacts while keeping their heads down. They had uncovered some Ancient Tablets and maps of Skull Island made by the Long Lost 1933 Expedition. The crew of the SS Titan had also found treasure at this time albeit after avoiding a man trap consisting of a barrage of poisoned blow darts!

Nazis in the foreground and English Explorers in the distance almost came to blows near the second Pygmy Village!

At this point a terrific roar could be heard across the whole of the Island along with a deep drumming sound…the Mighty Kong had appeared on the lip of the Volcano’s crater beating his chest and bellowing…a more ferocious sight none of the Adventurers had ever encountered. They all looked upon him in awe and held their breath!

The Movie Cameras of the Expeditions were quickly set up with the emergence of Kong, every Team except for the Women’s Needlework Guild successfully took footage of the Great Ape. Unfortunately, the Ladies Cinematographer John Arnold fell as one of the Island’s frequent Earthquakes began and he split his head open on a sharp rock, Skull Island continued to claim the lives of the Explorers!

After the Earthquakes reverberations faded the Teams plunged further into the jungle but very wisely the Englishmen and Nazis dispatched their Cinematographers back to their Base Camps with their precious film footage ‘in the can’.

At this point both the groups of Nazis were assailed by Natives who were promptly dispatched in truly Teutonic style!


The ‘end run’ was now on as the rumblings of the Volcano became ever more audible and an eruption began…that's right an ERUPTION had started, the teams now had a limited time to clear out of the jungle!

The fine fellows of the Shooting and Yachting Club were next to fall foul of the fauna and flora! Their ‘second’ team were assailed by a violent Raptor! John Puller was snatched and disembowelled while his associates looked on helplessly!

Then to top that off Expedition leader, Colonel Crisp E. Bacon was confronted by a wild Man-Eating plant only his deft explorer skills allowed him to avoid a nasty whiff of poisoned pollen!

Smoke, flame and lava belched from the Volcano as the Nazis made a last lunge to investigate the ruined Temple, maybe it would have been better if they hadn’t! They were confronted by a wailing Priest and two fierce Native Warriors who were in the process of sacrificing a stray Hollywood Actress, Pauline, yes Pauline was in Peril!

A violent struggle ensued and both Walther Bergman and Hauptman Adler were killed!

Eruptions, Man-Eating Plants and Raptors, the men of the Shooting and Yachting Club were at the end of their tether, with enough discoveries and footage of Kong in their possession to justify their trip they decided to trek back to their Base Camp.

The Needleworkers too headed for the Temple as brimstone rained down upon them, they successfully chased off the Priest and Natives and rescued Pauline whom they escorted back to their own Camp!

With the other expeditions in retreat a final search through the jungle as the Island seemed to be exploding around them Captain Smith’s Crew stumbled upon the wreckage of a Lockheed Electra. It was the plane of lost Scottish Aviatrix Amelia Braveheart! She joined the Sailors and they escorted her from the jungle (as an aside she kept these rowdy Sea Dogs at a proper distance with her pearl handled pair of six shooters!).

The only remaining Characters on the play area as lava filled it were Feldwebel Schultze and Schutze Willi Luger. They were overtaken by the flow only a fraction of an inch from safety, it was an unpleasant end for them and the violent end to the game!

The Prestige Points for the expeditions were tallied and the results were:

First, The Royal Overseas Shooting and Yachting Club with 40 Points
Equal Second, Nazi ‘Ahnenerbe’ Expedition with 35 Points
Equal Second, The Crew of the SS Titan with 35 Points
Last errr Third, The Women’s Needlework Guild of America with 21 Points

The Survivors

Winners on the night were The Royal Overseas Shooting and Yachting Club! Loaded with riches and playing a conservative game they acquired all they needed to win and successfully got back to their Royal Navy Frigate losing only one man, John Puller to a roaming Raptor!

Equal second were the Crew of the SS Titan and the Nazis...

The rowdy Sailors got some vital film footage, saved a famous female explorer and picked up some treasures on their journey. They came close to winning and only lost one man the unfortunate Popeye felled by ravenous Skullasaurus!

The Nazis lost their Leaders to the Native Warriors and their Average Blokes to the fauna and last minute lava flow (ewwww nasty!) but gained clear footage of the mighty beast AND kept their powder dry earning their Evil Regime brownie points in international circles!

Last were the Ladies of The Women's Needlework Guild of America, their only casualty was their Cinematographer John Arnold who fell during the earthquake knocking his head on a rather sharp rock! They got quite a stash of artefacts together and even saved a stray Actress, losing their Cinematographer cost them the game!

The Credits

Okay to wrap up, a great game ensued and fun was had by all! The figures were great, the terrain looked good and the Event Markers worked as planned creating the story BUT there were a couple of points that need to be addressed if it is played again or if we play another large Pulp Action game using the Event Markers. First up, as play progressed players expected the Event Markers would only result in 'bad news' (not true!) so a couple started avoiding them, next time to ensure there is more interest in them they'll be a Prestige Point awarded to teams for each Event Marker investigated, in this game this could have given the Game to the Ladies or the Nazi's! Secondly half the players didn't reach the middle of the play area and because of this the old 1933 Camp Site was not investigated, so again to encourage this they'll be 10 Prestige Points awarded to the teams for reaching central locations, in this case the Temple and 1933 camp site, again enough points to have changed the result in this case. Lastly next time I plan a scenario of this type I won't have a huge impassable piece of terrain dominating the tabletop, the volcano was spectacular and really essential to the storyline but it prevented a lot of player interaction!

Next Time: Captain Darling and the Sudan!?!

PS for those interested here are the Player Sheets, The Events list and the Teams special victory conditions!