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GrogHeads Reviews Table Battles

Hollandspiele’s new ‘abstract’ wargame hits the table ~

Doug Miller, 25 September 2017

I’m a hardcore grog. I like my games with hexes and chits. Fifty-page rule books don’t scare me, in fact they often appeal to me. I’m a lot more interested in the simulation value of most games than I am their playability. I’m interested in narrative and historical accuracy. I like maps. A lot.

All of which are reasons that I’m something of an odd choice as reviewer for Hollandspiel’s latest, Tom Russell’s Table Battles.

Table Battles bills itself as “a thinky filler, a light dice game that nevertheless will have you scratching your chin and agonizing over your decisions.” Tom himself posted in a Facebook discussion something to the effect that it might not be a wargame. There is no map. There isn’t any movement of pieces.

GrogHeads Reviews: Heroes of the Pacific

Lock’n’Load heads to the PTO!

Doug Miller, 24 October 2105

 

Despite a proliferation of WWII tactical systems in recent years, tactical wargames covering the Pacific Theater tend to be rarer than hen’s teeth. Even the benchmark WWII tactical system, Advanced Squad Leader, isn’t overwhelmed with PTO modules and scenarios. So I was definitely excited to see that LnL Publishing was not only bringing many of their out-of-print Tactical Series games back, but also adding to the series with a dedicated Pacific Theater game.

Heroes of the Pacific focuses on tactical combat between the US Army and Marines and the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). Like other games in the series the core of the game is infantry combat between squads and weapon teams, supported by armored vehicles, various kinds of on- and off-board artillery, and air strikes.

The game uses the familiar Lock n’ Load Tactical Series rules. The rule book has been updated to version 4.0 and includes the additions to support the unique aspects of the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) in-line with the remainder of the rules. Significant rules changes are helpfully highlighted in green throughout the manual to bring experienced players up to speed quickly.

HOTPIMAG0160

L’n’L Heroes of the Pacific – First Look!

What’s inside the highly-anticipated new box?  Doug fills us in ~

Doug Miller, 30 September 2015

click images to enlarge

I’ve only ever played enough of the Lock ‘N Load Publishing Tactical Series games to know that I’d really like to play more of them. For too long these games have been too difficult to get except through the aftermarket and buying from other gamers. Having said that, one of my closest gaming-related friendships (Hi Bawb!) came about primarily due to my buying a copy of Heroes of the Blitzkrieg from a fellow Grogheads gamer, so I suppose that’s not all bad.

Much to my delight Lock N’ Load is about to make all of the older games available and has started producing new games. It’s icing on the cake that the first of these Heroes of the Pacific arrived on the scene just as I’ve conceived a rekindled interest in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. Knowing the quality that Lock N’ Load has always been famous for in terms of components, I was really looking forward to getting the game in hand and taking a look. I received a copy of the Premier Support Edition to review. Here’s what I found when I opened the box.

HOTP-Unbox-IMAG0130

The box cover art is nicely done and very evocative of the theatre.

 

Campaign: Leipzig – The Two-Sided AAR, part 4

19 March 2014

Cyrano and PanzerDE face off in the age of muskets and sabers, and find themselves on opposite sides of an Eastern German battlefield, in the first of a series of AARs that give you both sides of the action.

As a reminder, we are alternating between Jim (in blue) and Doug (in green)

As always, click images to enlarge

 

The tough part about doing an AAR and playing a game like this is that my aging brain forgets what the hell I was trying to accomplish during the long stretches between turns. I believe this to be a deliberate French tactic as Jim is younger than I am and less likely to forget why he walked into a room, for example.

Fortunately I drew a map early on and have previous entries in this AAR to remind me what group of pixel troops was doing what to whom. As a reminder, my strategy: 

Lowenburg_Plan

 

There are any number of reasons that I was never actually given the command of men in the field — not having enlisted surely among them — but I have to think that a profound lack of patience never looks good on an OCS evaluation sheet.

Campaign: Leipzig – The Two-Sided AAR, part 3

5 February 2014

Cyrano and PanzerDE face off in the age of muskets and sabers, and find themselves on opposite sides of an Eastern German battlefield, in the first of a series of AARs that give you both sides of the action.

As a reminder, we are alternating between Jim (in blue) and Doug (in green)

As always, click images to enlarge

1030 August 19, 1813

Well, if, indeed, there are to be three scraps in this fight for Lowenberg (per Marechal Ney’s original appreciation), the two other scraps had better get a good deal more hotted up

In the north, some may remember, GD Maison had detailed GB Penne to take his First Brigade, 18th Division, V Corps and see if anything couldn’t be done to help their brethren preparing to fight near Plagwitz.
taketheroadsouth8

Between the time this screenshot was taken (turn eight) and the end of turn 10, Penne finally located the Prussians coming from east of Deutmannsdorf and preparing to cross the Deutschbach Stream. These troops at first were cavalry piquets and, as no JTS Napoleonic commander worth his salt(peter) would turn down a chance to shoot at horses with infantry, I had Penne move his men up and form into line. Shortly thereafter, though, they were joined by well north of 1,000 foot in two battalions and, choosing the better part of valor, Penne began a withdrawal back to Maison’s main force.

It’s been an eventful five turns, particularly in and around Siebeneichen.

Campaign: Leipzig – The Two-Sided AAR, part 2

8 January 2014

Cyrano and PanzerDE face off in the age of muskets and sabers, and find themselves on opposite sides of an Eastern German battlefield, in the first of a series of AARs that give you both sides of the action.

As a reminder, we are alternating between Jim (in blue) and Doug (in green)

As always, click images to enlarge.

When last we left our intrepid French heroes (or in this case hero, Marshal Ney, the now-occasionally jittery commander of the Army of the Bober) he had concluded his appreciation that the battle near Lowenberg would develop in three areas, roughly north, not quite so north, and south. Troops in the north, in division strength, were sent to drive past Ludwigsdorf and parts further east. Troops not so far north, also in division strength, were sent to hold a position just east of Plagwitz (pleasant sounding little dorf that) as well as its victory point location. Troops to the south, notably at the village of Siebeneichen, were to, in the immortal words of “The Longest Day”, hold until relieved by forces marching up from the south.

Veterans of the TIller Napoleonic series know the joy of moving long columns of men along roads. This is, of course, true to the period and does an excellent job of forcing the commander to choose between striking his opponent at the first opportunity and striking him when all of his troops are up. It also can dramatically slow a column that includes the plodding supply wagons that, in addition to being the only way to allieviate a unit’s “Low Ammo” status, must be protected against raids lest they fall into the hands of the enemy granting victory points. It’s with all this in mind that our attention turns to Brigadier General Senecal bravely steadying the men of the 35th Division’s First Brigade just west of Siebeneichen.

siebeneichen

Beyond maneuvering to concentrate my Prussians in the north, all of the early action is in the Russian attack at Siebneichen. 15th Division swings into the attack:

2014-10-11 20_11_34-Greenshot

Campaign: Leipzig – The Two-Sided AAR, part 1

13 November 2014

Cyrano and PanzerDE face off in the age of muskets and sabers, and find themselves on opposite sides of an Eastern German battlefield, in the first of a series of AARs that give you both sides of the action.

I first met Doug (panzerde) at Origins in June.  Despite finding him an all-around fine fellow, I am now tasked with driving him from the field of honor in this scenario from John Tiller Software’s Campaign: Leipzig.  I picked the battle (all my fault) because I’d never played it and thought it struck a reasonable balance between variety of forces and size.  Leipzig can, after all, become ridiculous at the farthest end of things.

I’ve been playing the Tiller Napoleonic games for well over a decade.  I’ve been involved with the Napoleonic Wargame Club for just about as long and am therefore aware of all the theology concerning its alternative rulesets, homerules, optional rules, &c.  I offer only that I generally try to play the game as given in the hope of being able to play with the widest range of opponents.  I do, however, typically play with a standard set of optional rules given to me long, long ago by my most regular opponent (who thrashes me with unnerving regularity).  The rules are these:

oprules

I’d be happy to take questions and hold forth at length about why I prefer these rules, but it seems unnecessary here. I’ll only observe that deciding whether to play with “No Melee Eliminations” on or off is a choice that fundamentally alters the flow of the game and its outcomes.  With it off, units required to retreat that have no ZOC-free hexes to which they can retreat are eliminated.  This can lead to casualty rates far closer to those of the first day of the Somme rather than 1813.  I will admit, though, as someone who long lobbied for this rule to be included in the series, that, when this rule is on, the system’s lack of morale collapse above the level of the individual battalions, can result in the very best units hanging about far longer than they ought.

To the battle itself, then.  Lowenberg is one of those “extra” scenarios typical of a type Dr. Tiller’s developers have worked to improve their offerings.  It’s an early fight in the Leipzig campaign and the scenario description is a simple one: