Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Italian Wars Campaigning

An interesting question came up on the Twitters whilst I was chatting about my review of the Furioso rule set, what about a Campaign System ? You know each player is a Condottiero building his forces and manoeuvring for position, fortune and fame in late 15th Century Italy, that sort of thing.

Well sit back, I think I have found it.

I present Dell'arte Del La Guerra from a Company who are new too me Real Time Wargames. I found them during a random search on the Googles, I couldn't find much information or reviews about them on the tinterwebnet so I took a punt.

The book has a Campaign System for up to 6 players to take the role of a Condottiero in the late 15th Century in the years leading up to the French Invasion in 1495 (or invitation depending on your viewpoint), everything I mentioned in my opening paragraph.

They are avaliable as a PDF for around £10 from Wargames Vault (you would need to print and mount the game cards this way) or direct from the company as a printed version complete with gaming aids for £20 (link below)

I bought the printed version and if it's your thing I would go for that version as will become plain during the review.

The Contents

First thing to say is that the book also has some tabletop rules within them, this review does not cover that part of the publication, I am happy with Furioso at the moment. 1st off a video covering the physical content of the book.

For those who don't do the Utube here are some stills of content. The use of the cards becomes clearer when watched in conjunction with the game play video.

Above are the game mats included in the printed version, we have,

  1. A fast play sheet for the tabletop rules
  2. A chart for recording current financial details of the players and the City States involved.
  3. A campaign chart for army movement.
  4. A Chart for recording passage of time during the Campaign 

A set of Unit Cards for each of the Condottiero, defining two units from that army, they are printed on decent card and are good quality. Each of the 6 players have 10 cards each.

Next up are three sets of cards, one each for the two schools of warfare in the game. These are specifically for the tabletop rules and are used to influence game play, however I don't think they would be too difficult to adapt to whatever rule set you use.

The third deck are objective cards, these are drawn at random each game year and provide a focus for the campaign.

Above is a picture of the remaining cards in the set, there a unit cards for the City States (50 cards) plus a number of cards representing the French Invaders.

The rest of the cards are for use on the Campaign Charts shown above, things like markers for money on the finance chart, army position markers, debt markers for money owed etc

In fact everything you need, bar a few dice and a deck of playing cards. There are hundreds of cards here and for me, well worth the extra 10 quid.

Campaign Game Play

The next section covers an example of the set up and workings of the Campaign, I have done this solely on the Utubes as it's much easier to present that way.

Hopefully that will have given you an idea of the rule set and how they might work for you. Don't forget they include a tabletop rule set as well.

The movement map for the armies is very straight forward and some may miss a more traditional map based system but it's a nice simple way of working out Army Movement and we will definitely be giving it a go. 

I'm off to raise (ok paint) some more troops for his Holiness, "Viva il Papa"

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Book Review - The Italian Wars Part 1 Helion Publishing

Something I've not done before, a Book Review, Yarkshire Gamer is turning into Radio 4 I hear you cry !

To make life easier the extensive Production Crew at Yarkshire TV have done a little 5 minute feature on the book.

The book can be purchased direct from the publisher on the link below, £19.95 including post and packing,

There are 128 pages with black and white illustrations throughout and colour plates (example above) in the centre.

It contains everything you would expect from a Book of this type, history, armies involved, battle description etc, I particularly liked the modern day photos of the field and also the "orbat" in the Appendix.

So in short everything I needed a year ago when I started my army ! Is there a conspiracy 🤔 plenty of new ideas for units going ahead. Definitely Recommended

Monday, 23 December 2019

Op Compass Game 8 - Don't wake the Sergeant

After a few games clearing forts it was time to get back in the open desert, pack away those almost indestructible Matildas and break out the wafer thin armoured early Cruiser Tanks. Here is the scenario / orbat and AAR of Game 8 of our  Op Compass Campaign.

A9 Cruiser Tanks
If you want more information on the Campaign I have set up a separate page which is updated regularly with updates on rules along with links to all the previous games,

The games are based on an excellent book by Robert Avery which is available from The Toofatlardies, there is a direct link to purchase the 
book on the Resource Page.We use 28mm figures with this scenario taking place on an 12 x 6 table using a home brew set of rules, based on Iron Ivans Disposable Hero's.

A10 Cruiser Tank
Historical Background 

The Italian troops in the area had been bottled up in Sidi Barrani and the British paused to reorganise before making their attacks on the afternoon of the 10th December 1940. The defenders crumbled quickly and by night fall the last defenders of the town were pinned back to the sea.

Our game represents an attack by the Cruiser Tanks of 6 RTR against this final line of Italian troops. The original attack happened during the hours of darkness, I have decided to run the game under normal daylight rules.

Table Set Up and Terrain 

The photo above shows the table, we are playing on the full 12 x 6 layout. A flat area of desert with some undulating sand dunes and some areas of Scrub, a track runs down one edge of the table. I added two buildings post photo one in the far top right of the table and a second to the left of the green hill.

The following Special Rules are in force (see Resource Page for full details)

Bad Going

Italian Prisoners - when Italian Infantry become pinned roll 1d6, on a 5 or 6 the unit surrenders, add +2 to the die roll per additional pin. Once surrendered the unit will March towards the British entry point, it must be accompanied by a British Unit (within 9") until it leaves the table. 1 Tank can safely escort or hold 20 Figures of Italians. Once the prisoners leave the table the vehicles can resume normal duties.

Italian Artillery Crew Morale - they do not take morale tests and fight to the last man.

Dunes - all the hills are soft sand, any bad going rolls made on the hills are subject to a one shift on the dice. I.e. a roll of 3 and 4 on two d6 would not normally bog a vehicle down but a dune, the 3 is modified to a 4 to make it a double 4.

Italian Prisoners (marked with white counter) March towards the British 
British Briefing 

With the fall of the forts it's a case of mopping up the last bits of resistance in the area, Intel suggests there are some small Infantry units supported by a decent amount of Artillery. Be careful, your tanks are thinly armoured and not that reliable !

Squadron HQ 1 x A10 Cruiser Tank and 1 x A10 CS Tank
1st Troop - 3 x A9 Cruiser Tanks 
2nd Troop 3 x A10 Cruiser Tanks 

You have a two fold objective, One, destroy all the Italian Guns (Artillery and Anti Tank) and two, capture (alive) the Italian Captain who is sound asleep in the house at the opposite end of the table.

All units enter the table on the track, in column from the bottom left hand corner of the table (as viewed in the photo above).

A9 tank "Amos" in the dunes

Italian Briefing 

The lakes of Northern Italy seem a distant dream now and you long for home as this war goes from bad to worse.

You are in Command of a group of mixed Guns supported by some infantry units. Morale in the foot soldiers remains very low and you know they could break at any point. The pride in the Artillery units gives you some confidence but this is going to be a long day.

The Commander sleeps soundly whilst his driver waits outside.
Your Mission is to do as much damage as you can to the advancing enemy whilst keeping your Commander safe.

1 x HQ 2 Figures with Staff Car 
4 x 10 man Infantry Squads each with 1 Sgt with SMG and 9 Rifles 
2 x 47mm Anti Tank Guns and crew
2 x 65mm Infantry Guns and crew
2 x 75mm Fields Gun and crew

Free set up, all units begin the game hidden.

Italian Anti Tank Gun
How did we get on

The Italians set up with some infantry in the forward house, the oasis and the long sand dune, the final squad was guarding the Commander, the first three to act as Art observers. The Artillery was set up by the Commanders house whilst the Anti Tank Guns were both on the long sand dune. The Infantry Guns were split, One near the Oasis and one in the far top left palm grove.

Italian Infantry spotting for the guns

In what was going to be the first of many mechanical issues for the British one of the A10s broke down on the turn of the first event card.

A couple of A9s quickly located one of the Italian Squads.

Some sustained MG fire from the two tanks persuaded the Infantry to surrender and it was round 1 to the British.

It wasn't all plain sailing for the Brits as Italian Guns rained shells down on the advancing tanks.

Things got a little hairy for the prisoners (and the A9s) when some random Artillery rounds landed close by.

It wasn't long before the Italian Artillery hit home as a 75mm shell landed on the roof of one of the A10s.

One of the A9s located some Italian Infantry at the last minute hidden by the Oasis and was safe in the knowledge that they only had rifles.

What they didn't see was the Anti Tank Gun hidden in the dunes behind the Infantry.

The first line of the Italian positions were clear after the Infantry in the house surrendered and the remaining 6 British Tanks advanced towards their objectives.

The CS Tank remained near the base line, it's ranged capability allowed it to both support the attack with its 3 inch Howitzer and remain near the base line to escort the prisoners away.

The Brits approached the last Italian positions and we were in for an exciting conclusion.

The slower moving A10 Tanks ended up in a cross fire from the Anti Tank Guns on the dunes around the Commanders house, the Infantry Gun in the Palm Grove and the indirect Artillery. It didn't end well for the British who lost two tanks in quick succession (see first photo), One A10 was lost to an Artillery round which went off under it's right side track turning it over, the other from an Infantry Gun shell in its side (boy those Cruisers are thinly armoured)

It wasn't all Team Italy though and the remaining Anti Tank Guns were taken out by the British machine guns.

It was desperate stuff, the Italians only had one spotter left for two Artillery pieces and as a last ditch defensive move one of the 75mm guns exposed itself to the machine guns so it could fire over open sights. 

Just at that moment the above A9 set off to get a better shooting position at the gun, only it didn't move, years ground and engine smoked but it was completely broken.

The British had three tanks left now but the A10 CS was about 10 feet in table distance from the action and the other remaining A10 was bogged down near it's destroyed friends which just left 1 A9, the ever dependable "Arnold".

In a rather unfortunate twist of fate as the final A9 advanced towards it's final objective an Event Card draw came up, it was a breakdown, the British roll for how bad it was, a 6 was rolled, total mechanical break down and a very rare total victory for the Italian Forces.

So a 4 point victory for the Italians narrowing the scores for the campaign to a single game span, British 18 Italian 14.

Another extremely close game, both sides had chances to win. On table now is our traditional WW1 Mesopotamia game, expect some more Compass early in the new year.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

A10 Cruiser Tanks for the Desert

I have been really slack this year when it comes to fresh gaming output. I had the big burst of Italian Wars at the start of the year which burnt me out a little, so with this year's Analogue Hobbies Winter Paint Challenge about to start I needed to get back in the saddle, warm up the Pro Arte Sable and start to splash the Vallejo again.

This year I have decided to have a tank theme and try and crack through the huge backlog of 28mm Early War desert vehicles I have lying around in the to do box (I say box I mean small garage). First thing was to get a bit of pre season training in with a couple of A10 Tanks I needed for our next Op Compass Campaign Game.

The vehicles are from Warlord Games and will join another 3 A10s that I already own. The vehicles are painted in the early war Caunter Scheme as most of my vehicles are, I've gone for a very pale blue grey for my third colour on these. I have given up debating Caunter Colours and stick to my own interpretation, I have vehicles in the official colours (the earliest) and then others with various shades representing my interpretation of the colour change / fade for the third colour.

There is also a (shock, horror !) conversion on one of the vehicles, it sounds big and clever but all I have done is taken a 3" CS barrel from a Rubicon Models Crusader it (cheers Steve 👍) and replaced the two pounder barrel on the original model to get a Close Support version, which is required for the game mentioned above.

It's nice to get a couple of new vehicles finished and hopefully this will get me in the mood for the challenge. After all looking at the pic below I have 11 Honeys, 4 A13s, 7 Crusaders, a Matilda, 5 Panzer III, 2 Panzer IV, an 8 rad, 3 Sdkfz 222, a Panzer II, 3 Mark VI Light Tanks, 3 Italian M13/40 tanks and 6 M11/39 tanks to be going on with.

The plan past year during the Challenge was to complete a small unit of 6 Cavalry each week to keep me driving forward, it worked a treat. This year I plan a minimum of 3 vehicles each week, so there are more than enough in these boxes to keep me going.

I only started playing around with weathering of vehicles a year or so ago so I'm quite new to it, there are some washes, some chipping and a bit of streaking on these, I don't want to go too far with it (some models are all weathering and no paint) but I'm happy with my progress.

The vehicles are due in action straight away so will have the opportunity to perform dreadfully (as all new units must) pretty soon.

So the wing table will be mostly empty for the next couple of weeks whilst I get this lot cleaned up, washed, dried, built and primed ready for the start of the challenge on the 21st December. See you at the start line.