Sunday, February 28, 2010

East Front - Surprise for the 17th Panzer

Am presently playing the final stages of a EF low-moderate complexity 1941 scenario, "Surprise for the 17th Panzer". Again, playing by email exchange of turns. This one looks like it will be a major victory for the Axis (me).

Later edit: major victory for the axis (me).

Broad situation: a 10km penetration to the East by german armoured and recon battalion through scattered woodland and potato fields, taking highway towns and intersections as they go. Late arrival of russian light tank regiment, with a company of T34s and a KVI to assist, hitting the german in the northern flank of his extended line. So far, as we enter the final couple of turns, the german has captured the high value central built up objectives and all major road intersections along the highway.

Highlight to me has been the daring sweep of main force of recon battalion (M/C, A/C and support units) along secondary southern road to join in pincer movement, with detached company of armoured cars that snuck through several kilometers to the north, to capture and hold deep objectives.

This is the second game in a row where I have managed to coordinate an assault with units that are marching isolated for up to six turns (in the last game, it was the remergence of survivors from early attacks from their hidden pathways in forest and fen in the final turns of the game, to threaten recently won russian objectives and divert valuable units from the final assault in the centre). Pleasing.

I am also finally getting the hang of how to use anti tank guns (after all these years). An 88mm looking down the main road with automatic weapons hosing down any threatened infantry attacks against its position, 50mm's setting themselves up in objectives newly seized by columns of armoured cars and motorcycle troops, smoke still in the air. Very useful support for light armed mobile units.

Perhaps the most enjoyable moment, though, was the complete destruction of a BT7 company by a lurking Jagdpanzer I (!) unit in some wheatfields to my rear. Coming on late, the JgdPzs (under armoured and undergunned for close in swirling tank combat) were detatched to rear security duties along most likely axis of any potential russian deep flanking sweep. They were actually going to sweep up around the area themselves, but became aware of strong russian forces moving in their direction due the fleeing soft transport from a 37mm AT company that had been overrun while acted as a northern outpost. Even at this stage of the war, these guns were virtually useless.

Its heavy AT guns having been sent to join up with the armoued companies, the JgPz company changed its mission from driving up the northern road to waiting for something to drive down it. Having just enough time to organise themselves, they watched a company of BT7s burst from the woods and (not seeing the tank hunters in time) drive within point blank range. Eliminated before they knew what hit them. The JgPzs then pulled out of sight as heavier tanks blundered past and are presently securing an 'industrial' village against desperate attacks by fragmented russian light armour units.

This will probably be the last game we play with our old EFII disks as Wayne now has a copy of the Matrix version of this classic game.

East Front - Sabres in the Sun

You may recall that I was playing a PEBM (play by email) game of East Front with Wayne at the start of this year. It was a moderate complexity scenario, Sabres in the Sun, featuring a the attack of a russian cavalry regiment and armoured battalion against a series of scattered german outposts in rural countryside. The germans had a few Stug IIIs to help them, but not much chop against the T34s and KVIIs of the soviet.

The game took us about two months or so to complete, mainly because we had several week long breaks through the silly season. After initial resistance, the soviets punched through and shattered the german front line outposts before any reinforcements could reach them, pushed on towards the inner belt of objectives. As they pushed the germans back, however, resistance toughened, and was shored up in the nick of time by the arrival of the Stug company. The battle slowed down into a slugfest for the latter part, until the last five or so turns of the 21 turn game.

At that point, the germans pushed back into the 'State Farm' with their infantry on the Eastern Flank of the battlefield, somehow catching the russian asleep in the sector and making a daring dash across the open to break their way into the russian lines and retake the farm with minimal losses. They couldn't have done this if the russian hadn't gotten a bit cocky and sent some of his cavalry forces away from the site towards the centre of the map (where a lone german company had held out under close range armoured bombardment for most of the game, they crumbled in the last two turns).

The other excellent fun thing from my perspective was the way I managed to pull together several platoons that had been shattered and scattered in the initial soviet assault, shepherding them through woods and swamps out of sight of the russian, to emerge in the final three turns and threaten to retake at least one of the previously lost objectives in the west of the map. The russian had to divert a company of tanks to hold those locations, reducing the amount of resources he had to throw at the final redoubts in the north. Subsequently, the germans held the core objectives against the final russian assaults over the open.

End result? A close fought draw, not determined until the last turn of the game.

Secondary MMPORGs

Besides playing Renaissance Kingdoms, I also am active in two other MMPORGs. The site owners of RK have started a new world called Shogun Kingdoms, in which I have a humble buddhist peasant who spends all day in the temple, regularly starves himself, and whose only present ambition is to own his own rice field in the not too distant future. I'll put a link on my sidebar to the site very shortly.

The other MMPORG is the Tribal Kingdoms, where my Aztec peasant continues to make obsidian clubs in his home village towards the day when he too can have an army and devestate neighboring tribes. Recently they upgraded the site so that I now can visualise what I look like (these are all text and menu driven browser based games).

All three of these 'Kingdoms' games are run by the same crew with the same game engine. I'm not sure what their business model is as they seem to have backed off of advertising in outside sites and cannabilise players from RK to these other new worlds they have set up. This is not a long term proposition, i suppose, but then again, RK is going strong into its fifth year so who am I to criticise?

My dedication to RK varies between fanatical and keen, spending between 20 min and 5 hours per day on it still, after two years. This is not an unusual pattern. As to the Aztec and Nippon characters, about five minutes each per day. In regards to these later, I see my participation as being somewhat of a public service as the Kingdoms need peasants and 'commoners' to go about the daily grind while those who get into the running of the world manipulate and scheme to determine our futures.

It's kinda relaxing after the intensity of RK.

RK update

Above is my new banner for use in Renaissance Kingdoms, the ongoing online role playing world I'm involved in. The present situation of my character is that he is in the northernmost town of the Kingdom (Stirling). He is stuck there because the local warlords have placed him on a kill list of an army to my immediate south, mainly due the fact that my character seems to have a cutting tongue that upsets tyrants and brigands. Have almost renounced all responsibilities not to do directly with clan duties. The Kingdom is brewing up to a big war, with irish mercenaries arriving by sea to join the rebels and robbers who run glasgow county for their promised assault on Ayr county to the immediate south. While this is happening, a Campbell dominated Galloway is pushing for independence of the southern counties from national institutions, and the Royal Scots Army is gathering in the centre of the land to fight their old enemies in the north.

It is a bit different not being stuck in the thick of it. In fact, I am really on the margins for this coming war, allowing me time to do things other than organise troops and rally the people. Will probably spend the time organising the clan for the coming disintegration of a unified scotland so that we can look after our own in the dark ages to come.

Settlers Game

In the first week of January (just shows how long I can wait before posting if I'm busy elsewhere) Nancy, Shaun, Paul and I played our first game of Settlers of Catan. We all agreed it was good fun, took us a bit over two hours. We played the recommended starting set up for a first game rather than use the randomisation of geography etc which gives the game its newness on each play. Using the standard set up, I presume, gives each player a roughly equal chance to win while displaying some of the different 'styles' required to master the game. In this trial, Shaun (White) won with an expansionist approach, Nancy (blue) came close with her trading approach, I (orange) kept myself happy with a coastal network and Paul (red) got frustrated by playing an expansionist style when he should have concentrated on internal development. All good fun and hope to play again in not too distant future.

Civ Game

The above picture shows the situation at the end of our game of Civilisation from the Dog Days (sorry about the blurry picture, forgot to use the flash). It was a rollicking good six player game that went for 13 hours. Babylon (Jess) won in a close tussle down to the last turn, with Illyria (Nancy) coming second and North Africa (Jarrad) a close third. Minor places were taken by Egypt (Paul) , Assyria (yours truly) and Thrace (Wayne). A great time was had by all. Most noteably, at different stages in the game everyone was under a fair bit of pressure to the point of being upset, but no one said anything they regretted and we all shook hands at the end. In the pressure cooker of a thirteen hour game, that's pretty good.

Below is a link to a slideshow showing the rise and decline and rise of the Assyrian Empire in the game of Civilisation we played at the end of last year.

Assyria - Civ Dec 09

In the slide show you'll see how Assyria expanded into Asia (Anatolia), dealt with a warlike Babylon pushing from the East and various minor coastal invasions in the South (North is to the bottom of the picture). Although I tried to keep the centre of the asian peninsula free of cities (allowing me internal lines of communication to deal with my war like neighbor and exposed coast ) I eventually had to build cities there to secure the position. In the latter part of the game you'll also see a barbarian (pink) influx into Babylon territory. I included it here because it was a nice thorn in the side of an aggressive opponent playing what is usually a passive people.

Victorious Babylonian