Friday, September 15, 2017

The Wood of Tears

Tuesday Morning.

The sun rises over St. Margaret's Bay as the tide moves in. If I had swivelled 90 degrees, due south  towards the narrow mouth of the bay, and if the world was flat, I could have taken a picture of Bermuda roughly 1,250 km away.   

Civil Wars in 1/72nd plastic became an accidental theme for the weekend as I broke open my Portable Russian Civil War carrying case. I do have my own rules but the portability just cried out for Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame.

Red artillerymen await the order to open fire while the Generals breakfast together. 
The basic playing field was a Hotz Desert Mat with 3" hexes and dabs and sprays of green paint. Having,  somehow, not brought the log cabins for the scenario I planned to play, I just threw a low ridge line with scattered woods to one side and dealt out two balanced armies, each of 15 units plus a general, for an encounter game. Both sides would begin off table with the goal of seizing and holding the ridge. The exhaustion level was set to 8 for each side and simple elimination was agreed upon. All units were average.

The armies, whose composition was heavily influenced by the contents of the boxes they came in as well as by the failure to equip the large numbers of recruits in holding camps, were composed of:
General with staff, 5 cavalry, 6 infantry, 2 field guns, 2 MG (one of White's being a Tchanka) and 1 machine gun armed Armoured Car or Light Tank. An insufficient number of limbers were treated as window dressing.
Game 1. The Red army swiftly seizes the ridge line before the White's have even arrived on the field. and it waits, and waits, and...
 I don't particularly like dice activation systems since there is no way to avoid the chance of infinite rolls of '1' in a row so we opted for the solo card draw. Not having brought 2 decks of cards we just extended the range to two higher and two lower and used the two Jokers. The first game saw 3 Red cards then a Joker, which allowed me to grab the ridge before Rob moved a finger. That was then followed by a seemingly endless stream of high Black cards interspersed with Jokers. At that point I suggest we ditch one of the Jokers since the pack was small and things went a bit more smoothly with me being able to get off a shot or two before the game ended. 8 vs 2 was the score in Rob's favour.

Each coloured ring marks a lost unit from that army.  In the background a hint of red marks what Rob later christened the 'Wood of Tears'. 
 The day was young and the game fast so we reset and this time the cards behaved normally with occasional short runs but basically balanced. The game played out very differently with Rob's tank cutting a  swathe through my left flank cavalry then running amok amongst my guns. Only the courage of the dedicated patriotic gunners which inspired them to keep retiring their guns rather than running saved the day. At last more Red Cavalry galloped up and finished off the isolated tank. Losses were fairly close at 6 a side until a dashing Red assault tipped them over the edge. It didn't end the game though and has his shells crashed down on my troops I feared a draw but when counter battery fire, directed by General Ross himself, finally smashed the last White field gun, it was all over. They couldn't advance and were out of range of the ridge which I occupied. A narrow win but my one win of the weekend!

Game 2. A Red victory! Urrah!
(The red discs indicate that enemy artillery has ranged in on that hex.)
 At this point Paul stepped in as Red commander. Rob, already seasoned in the rules, handled him very roughly at start, aided by his ally, the sequence deck, but Paul doesn't give up easily nor do card runs last forever and soon the game was being very hotly contested.  In the end Rob's third victory of the weekend was stoutly contested but a victory none the less.

The terrain was laid out by instinct for balance rather than deeply planned but the right most wood, lying across the centre line turned out to be a key position for a flank march covered from direct enemy artillery fire. By the end of the third game some 9 or 10 infantry units had died trying to take or hold this little grove:
The Wood of Tears.


  1. Ross Mac,

    What a splendid clutch of battles!

    I prefer to use the card-activation system rather than a dice-driven one because it is that little bit less predictable.

    I hope your two friends enjoyed using the PORTABLE WARGAME rules ... and I look forward to an upsurge of sales in Canada forthwith!

    All the best,


    1. Cheers Bob but don't get your hopes up there, according to blogger, barely 10% of my readers are Canadian.

  2. Robert,

    Great! I hope that you enjoy using the rules.

    All the best,


    1. An update, both it and Developing the Portable Wargame have arrived and I placed man order to Holtz for a 3'' hex tabletop mat. I plan to be conducting operations in Manchuria

    2. Excellent. Great combo for coaxing someone over to the light side and for solo games.

  3. Replies
    1. Sometimes these sort of things just happen in a game. Once named it will be remembered.