Monday, 28 October 2013

A Very Lardy Civil War

If you're a wargamer with an interest in any period in or around WWII, you will no doubt have heard something of Chain of Command; the new WWII platoon level skirmish rules by the Too Fat Lardies.

With it's 'game within a game' tactical phase, multi-phase turns and dice-based activation of platoon sub-units, I was certainly intrigued enough to buy a copy (incidentally making good my promise to Richard at Lard Island to buy something after cadging a free promo mini off him). I duly bought both a hard copy, and the electronic tablet version.

The rules are geared towards the use of historically accurate tactical formations, and include army lists for the four great WWII players. Each nationality has a different set of army lists, together with associated armouries and support lists. Platoons have a strength rating and the difference in these figures allows weaker platoons to level the playing field against more powerful opponents by fielding a greater array of support units (AFVs, HMGs etc).

Knowing I had a game coming up with Giles, I thought I'd give CoC a whirl, but first had to knock up some psuedo-historical army lists. This is easier said than done, but Luckily there are already a number of 'fan generated' army lists available on the Too Fat Lardies Yahoo group, so I was able to cherry pick various bits from Home Guard, SCW and early WWII lists.

I decided on a simple encounter game (scenario 1 in the rules) with both the resurgent Anglican League and embattled BUF sending out patrols to establish some kind of front line after the game-changing events of the Battle of Foy.

When working out the lists, I decided to make both sides 'green' to reflect their largely amateur status, but gave the BUF a greater strength to reflect their government backing and greater access to arms and ammunition. I also allowed the BUF to split their LMG teams from their parent rifle teams (whilst lumping them together for the less well armed AL) to reflect the slightly more modern tactical approach of the corporate state as opposed to the 'middle England at war' feel of the AL.

This did mean however that, while Giles' BUF were limited in what support they could field, my AL had more options due to the difference in platoon strengths (i.e. I had more support points to spend.)

Giles and his BUF took to the field with his platoon leaders, rifle teams and a standard bearer (an experimental rules tweak to add a bit more VBCW-ness). He spent the remainder of his supply points upgrading one unit to regular and the 'bully boys' trait (again from my experimental support tables - basically the same in the rules as being 'aggressive').

My Anglican League platoon

I had platoon leaders, three less well armed militia sections and chose a cavalry scout team, an adjutant and a sniper from my experimental support lists.

So we had the rules and lists (modified and tweaked to fit the VBCW mould), a table set up (a slightly smaller one than recommended in the rules - we played at my gaff) and a motley collection of miniatures... let's roll some dice!

Patrol markers placed

I started off with no real plan, other than to get my jump-off points behind some decent cover during the patrol phase. During this phase, players place patrol markers in a chain, 12" apart until they are 'locked down" by being in the vicinity of the opposing player's markers. From these markers, you then deploy jump-off points: safe zones where your troops can deploy in relative safety.

Anglican jump-off points

This is one of the strong points of CoC as it saves the often tiresome business of moving your units along the table, and can give you a tactical edge if you can lock down your opponent's markers in less advantageous terrain.

BUF jump-off points

Moving our markers along the length of the table, I was able to place my jump-off points behind a hedge line at the middle of the table, thus claiming a sizeable chunk of territory and forcing Giles to jump off behind the hills in the more open land beyond.

Anglican League advance

To add further to his discomfort, I proceeded to roll a double six in my first handful of activation dice, meaning that I would also have the next phase. This brings me on to another good feature of CoC. Rather than activating units alternately, or by using playing cards, you instead roll five dice. The results determine what you do: a 1 activates a sub-team, 2 a whole section, 3 a junior officer etc. 6's determine who goes next while 5's increment your Chain of Command rating. When this reaches 6 you are allowed to do cool stuff like force end the turn, avoid morale tests and such.

Advance into doom!

Another thing worth remembering is that CoC rewards good tactics - fire support and the like. What it does not reward is sending your sections of shotgun toting militia out of cover and into the teeth of BUF fire. Alas this is what I did on my left flank. The results were not pretty and the red-shirted militia were forced to fall back (ranges are long in CoC!)

The dastardly BUF

Their return fire had less of an effect as their targets were classed as regulars (one of Giles' options from the support tables), which made them harder to hit - yet another CoC innovation: your rating allows you to take cover more effectively, not to shoot better.

Tally Ho!

On my right I moved my cavalry onto the hill in the hopes of drawing out the BUF, who wisely refused to take the bait. I placed my sniper in a stand of trees in the centre, hoping to use the disruptive effect of such a character (troops must be on overwatch to even spot snipers, let alone shoot at them) to pin down their centre. However I failed to appreciate that the centre hill would block his line of sight, causing him to spend much of the battle twiddling his thumbs.

Right flank under fire

With my left in tatters I tried to force the right, bringing back my cavalry and moving up another section of militia, who soon met the same fate as their chums. Soon the unit broke (having racked enough shock markers to build a barricade with) under the BUF's murderous fire, and my senior leader, who I had attached to the unit to help jolly them along, was wounded.

Cavalry dash

All this caused my morale to tumble, and winning a game of CoC means keeping your morale up! In an effort to redress the balance I once again ordered my cavalry forward, surging over the centre hill and onto one of the BUF jump-off points. By now my CoC value had increased to 6, allowing me to end the turn and capture this jump-off point to the detriment of the BUF morale.

Reinforcements too late!

A quick break for lunch, and then on to turn 2!

Which lasted for about five minutes.


The cavalry paid for their impetuousness in blood, rather predictably, and were soon, fleeing the scene with the broken militia section. By now my morale had dropped to 1, which meant I could only roll 2 activation dice per phase, giving me few options. One such option was to concede defeat.

Run away!

The game was great fun, with a very steep learning curve! (Giles' AAR can be found here)
Thankfully my abrupt defeat gave us time for another game and so we re-rolled for morale and support. This time we had less support options to choose from, so Giles dropped the 'bully boy' trait but retained the rest, while I forsook the cavalry, adjutant and sniper for a single MG armed tankette.

The barn in no-man's land

Giles was keen to bring out some of his superb EM-4 farm buildings, so we plonked the barn in the middle of the table (belonging to a farmer who has been extracting weapons from local gun runners in payment for crossing his land). Once again I was happy with the disposition and cover of my jump-off points, as was Giles, and the barn formed the no-man's land in between.

Left flank crumbles again

My red shirts and tankette, accompanied by the platoon sergeant , deployed first, but on opposite sides of the table. Another lesson learnt - while my militia were in cover this time they were not supported by the tankette. Soon the militia were once again getting the rough end of a firefight, despite being in cover, and shock points were stacking up to breaking point.

Tankette to the rescue!

I decided to tip the scales in my favour by racing the tankette across the table to belatedly provide support, whilst activating another militia section to add to the fire. Luckily Giles kept back his other two BUF sections, allowing me to concentrate my fire on his regulars. So, while my red shirts eventually broke, so did his regular BUF.

Concentrating fire

It was now that Giles made a tactical blunder that, I must admit, I was hoping he'd do when he mentioned he'd bought his farm buildings.

Barn blunder

With one section breaking and another holding back behind a hedge line, he moved his other section into the barn - a barn with windows at the front and back, but not the sides. I acted immediately, activating my third militia section and racing them past the side of the barn and out of the BUF's field of fire.

Flanking on the right

Taking a gamble and clearly not remembering the lessons learnt in the last game, I risked an advance in the open to the BUF section that was hanging back at their rear-left flank, managing to get close enough to open up with a devastating combined rifle, shotgun, SMG and BAR fire.


With this section withering under my fire, Giles bought his remaining section back out of the barn - easy prey for my tankette and militia, who were now advancing around the BUF flank to within shouting distance of one of their jump-off points.

Flanking on the left

Caught in a pincer movement with a jump-off point about to fall into Anglican hands and with two sections broken, Giles conceded defeat. (Giles' AAR can be found here)

And so the day ended with honours even.

I was really impressed with the rules - very bloody when it came to weapon ranges but this only served to force a more tactical mindset. Yes you need bucketfulls of dice and the number of markers required may well put off those who dislike battlefield clutter, but nonetheless a very good set of rules (although I think more suited to the recommended 6' x 4' table than my smaller one).

The basic rule mechanics are pretty easy to pick up (even for a habitual in-game page flicker like me) although we did make some mistakes (forgetting to deduct firing dice for shock markers for example) but that didn't detract from the game too much (Giles' thoughts on the rules can be read here).

I short I can see why Chain of Command is causing such a stir - bravo Lardies!

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Next Big Game!

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This is an early call for anyone wishing to partake in the next VBCW Herefordshire Big Game!

For more details, please take a look at the VBCW forum at and contact me if you're interested!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tally Ho!

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I say, what larks! It appears that some of the keen young chaps from the country set think it a wizard wheeze to purloin their fathers' old cavalry gear, purchase some firearms and take to the field in their hunting pinks!

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And thus the Herefordshire Hunt Hussars is born - ready to flush out any bad sports, wrong doers and sundry inferior sorts and run them down!

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The last dregs of my birthday money went towards a box of Perry Miniatures plastic ACW cavalry. I've changed their kepis into riding helmets with a little Greenstuff and rather haphazardly added some snippets of metallic sticky tape for coat tails.

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I find the detail on these plastics to be a little soft for my rather unsophisticated painting technique, but I'm reasonably happy with how they came out and they'll add a colourful (if somewhat brief) presence on the tabletop.

Anyway, the Whipper-In has has hollered, the fox has broken covert and the hounds are giving tongue - tally-ho chaps!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

I'm a Winner!

I've won something - yay!

Michael, the talented chap behind posted up a cracking model Swedish barn that he had constructed for his Very Moderate Swedish Civil War project.

As you can see, it happens to be exploding - and Michael asked readers to guess why. I commented that the blast was caused by an exploding alcohol still ( a Swedish bootlegger having featured in a previous AAR).
It transpires that I was correct, and had my name put into a hat. My name then duly drawn out of said hat and today I am the proud owner of four Swedish chaps from Adalen Miniatures!
Thanks Michael!
Were tricornes fashionable in 1930's Herefordshire? They are now!


Monday, 21 October 2013

Mortars and Artillery

Finally got some more of my birthday spend painted up

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First off, a mortar team for my Blackshorts - Spode has obviously been on a spending spree! I've also painted up a Blackshort officer/spotter, provided courtesy of Mort - thanks mate!

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All figures from Artizan.

While we're on the subject of mortars, I've also got a team for my Welsh Nationalists - this time the minis are from Crusader.

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Finally, some heavier support for the Welsh in the form of this Warlord Games French artillery set, with an extra officer bought second hand from Giles.

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Note that I have based the crew with the gun in this instance, rather than basing them separately as I did with my other artillery piece. This is because one of the crew is seated, feet up on the wheel axle, so I had no option but to glue it on.

Not a bad haul though!

All being well my next blog will be an AAR as Giles will be popping over to my gaff to try out the new Chain of Command rules by Too Fat Lardies. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Updated Parish Map

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After the momentous events of the Battle of Foy, I've decided to update my parish map of Herefordshire.

If you compare it to the pre- Foy game at, you'll notice that, with the cuting off of the BUF at Foy, the Anglican League has been able to expand and establish a presence around Foy parish.

Also obvious is the appearance of Sir Gilbert Hill's Anglo-Welsh force, and his growing control of the Golden Valley railway from Pontrilas. Note also that the Welsh nationalists have pushed across the border from monmouthshire (from where they have clashed with a BUF presence at St. Weonards, resulting in the capture of Anglican firebrand the Rev'd Meredith -

Apart from a little rejigging of the royalists to cover the railways under their control (plus the addition of the early battles around Bromyard that I forgot to add last time) that's about it.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The View From The Hill

Doug, of EM-4 fame, has become another convert to the world of VBCW, having enthusiastically participated in the last big game. He has also started a rather natty blog, which can be found at

Please drop in and take a look!


Friday, 11 October 2013

Waffle and WIP

It's been a while since my last blog entry. I've got plenty to write about, but haven't really had much time to do it, so I thought I'd write this short post to keep you up to date.

  • Firstly I am working on an updated parish map of Herefordshire, to show the consequences of the Battle of Foy and Strangford.
  • I also plan to write something on the various dramatis personae that have appeared during the big games. A few of the players have started roleplaying their characters and quite an email spat has kicked off between some of the commanding officers. This will make for some interesting scenarios in future big games...
  • I have invested in a copy of the new Chain of Command WWII rules by Too Fat Lardies (finally making good my promise to buy something off them after cadging a promotional miniature). I've got a game planned with Giles soon, so if I manage to get my head around the rules and crowbar them into VBCW by then, we'll give this ruleset a bash.
  • I am also working on an artillery set and mortar team for my Welsh nationalists and a mortar team for my Blackshorts, so you can look forward to some eye candy soon.

Speaking of eye candy, I am also working on some cavalry. Here is a WIP shot... Tally ho!

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

Another clipping

There was another nice interwar photo of the Herefordshires in the Hereford Journal today, which I thought I'd share with you.

A bit of a wonky scan, but I hope you like it :)