Sunday, June 9, 2013

A nice full day of gaming -- Hold the Line, CCA, Midway and more

My Bay State friend Mark K. came down to visit for a nice full day of gaming -- our second in a monTH!

It's a long drive, so we try to make it worth his while by getting in a bunch of games.

We started off with a match of Hold the Line, one of our staples. We've played a couple dozen scenarios now. This time it was the Battle of Harlem Heights from 1776, which is one of the lesser-known battles of the war -- remarkably so, considering that it was one of the rare American victories.

Game Two of HOTL
History repeated itself, as Mark and I each won as the Americans in turn. It looks to be a tough scenario for the British, frankly. While they have an impressive looking force on the map edge it's hard to see how they'll play a significant role in the battle, which sees the whole American army basically fighting the three elite British foot and two light infantry units of the advanced guard.

Mark and  I tired very different approaches as the British, but neither worked. I tired to be aggressive with the high quality light and elite troops to pick off some American militia while trying to bring up some of the supports from the British main body. This didn't work out at all well and the Americans were able to destory most of the British front line and take two fo the 3 VP hexes for the win.

When it was Mark's turn as the British he tried to fade back, but that didn't work either as the Americans were able to advance in strength and overwhelm the British by the fences.

One bright spot was that this broke my losing streak against Mark. Last time we played a few weeks ago I was 0-7 on the games we played that day. 

We then played the Battle of 300 Champions scenario from the Commands & Colors" Ancients expansion The Spartan Army.

One aspect of the Borg game system (Memoir '44, Commands & Colors, Battle Cry, etc) I really like is the evocative color. It's not high simulation, but it really makes the history come alive. In the case of the Battle of the 300 Champions, it's mostly a legendary affair, which little relaibly known from this 6th Centruy BC battle between the Argives and the Spartans. The game starts with a special "Battle of 300 Champions" roll-off between eight Medium Hoplite blocks on each side, with the survivors beefoing up their respective armies and winning the initiative.

End of Game 1
Both armies are essentially just medium hoplite masses. The Spartan army is comprised of five Spartan units with 5-6 blocks each and two allied units with 4 blocks. The Argives have a couple of units of Auxiliary Infantry at 4 blocks each and nine units with 4-5 blocks of Medium Hoplite infantry. Each army ahs three leaders.

Both battles saw me win the early advantage with the Battle of Champions but unable to turn that into a win. As so often happens in Commands & Colors the fickle fortunes of war can turn in an instants and the second game, especially, saw a very promising start for the Argives fall apart at the end.

The nice thing about both Hokld the Line and CC:A is that the play rather quickly and we got in all four battles in a little over two hours. The next two games took somewhat longer.

Near the end
First, we played GMT's rather abstract battle game Maneouver. Mark was willing to label it a "wargame." I have a fairly liberal definition myself (I'll call Memoir '44 a wargame, for example) but Maneouver falls outside my definition. I think it's a war-themed abstract. It's very chess-like, actually, even down to the 64-square battle area.  While I can see being interested in the game, I felt it was a little plodding for my taste and it came off my "to-buy" list based on this playing. The game itself ended up being very close, ending in a Nightfall Victory for Mark's British by one point (11 to 10).

We ended with a real classic -- Avalon Hill's Midway, which was my first ever wargame back in 1969. It holds up well. Mark had played it back in the day, but said he hadn't tried it in a couple of decades. While I haven't played it anywhere near as much as I'd like,. I have played  it within the last few years and my greater experience showed.

The big raid on the US Fleet
I took the Japanese and I basically followed a modified Combined Fleet strategy. I threw out some screening cruisers to try to avoid any early American surprises and I detached the Hiryu with a  small escort in an attempt to ambush mark's Americans if he found my main fleet. As it turned out he wasn't able to spot either Japanese carrier force, although he did pick off a CL. On the second day I was able to find and strike the US fleet (which was all together) without a return strike. I only had three carriers worth of aircraft (Hiryu was out of position) but was still able to sink two US carriers.

The rest of the game was somewhat anticlimactic from that point on, as the surviving US airpower wasn't enough to threaten Japanese fleets and he had to content himself with picking off isolated cruisers.

Follow up strikes by the Japanese sank some more US cruisers and started softening up Midway. With little choice the US Fleet make a suicide run at the Invasion force at Midway which comprised the Atago, two other cruisers and the four Kongo-class battleships. After a valiant effort the last of the US ships went down, taking down two Japanese cruisers and almost the Kongo -- it has one hit box left.


  1. What a great day of gaming. You played two titles that I'm curious about and one (Midway) that is one of my favorite wargames of all.

    I don't know much about Hold the Line, but I notice that Worthington keeps releasing new games in the "Hold the Line" series, which makes me wonder what it is about the mechanics of the game that makes it so appealing and translates to so many other Worthington titles.

    I'm a fan of the card-driven wargames of Richard Borg, and I used to play ancients miniatures, so I'm really curious about Command and Colors: Ancients. How do you find that it compares to Battle Line and Memoir '44?

    Midway was my first wargame as well, and it has been a long-standing favorite that I've blogged about frequently. Lately I'm finding that the Americans tend to win, so I was especially interested to read your account of what appears to be a decisive Japanese victory. Great stuff!

  2. Yeah, my opponent was a little rusty which helped my IJN considerably.

    I like C&C: Ancients. It's a little more involved than Memoir '44, but just a little.

    The Hold the Line system is also in the same sweet spot as Borg's system, It has some significant differences, but some similarity as well. Like Borg's games, the HOTL system plays fast, so match play becomes a real possibility.