Sunday, 29 March 2015

Altar of Freedom: First Manassas

Throughout the fall I've been gathering a force of 6mm American Civil War miniatures. At the club we've so far used these miniatures to play several games using Black Powder and Longstreet rules. Though both rule sets are excellent, I don't really want to use Black Powder for both Napoleonic and ACW gaming (that would be too repetitive). Longstreet is an excellent game, but I was also interested in playing the larger battles of the war, for which these rules aren't suitable. After some searching, I found the Altar of Freedom rules which have received some praise and seem to fit my gaming style really well (not too complex, fast playing and concentrating on the essential command and control problems rather than micromanagement).

Some of my Union troops based for Altar of Freedom
As our second test game of the rule set we chose to play the battle of First Manassas (First Bull Run). This was the first major battle of the war, which pitted two eager but inexperienced armies led by generals that had rapidly been promoted way above their capabilities.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Black Powder: Battle of Klyastitsy

This Saturday marked the kick-off to our 1812 Russian campaign. We will be playing six central battles from the campaign over the following six months, using Black Powder rules and 15mm miniatures. First up was the battle of Klyastitsy (Yakubovo), 29.7-1.8.1812.

The scenario saw the French II Corps of Marshal Oudinot surprised and assaulted by Prince Wittgenstein's I Corps. The French objective was to defeat the Russian army, hold on to the Yakubovo heights (centre of table) and, if the situation was untenable, block the Russians from crossing the Nishcha river. The French army started the battle strung-out, so they would have to fight a delaying action with General Legrand's 6th division on the Yakubovo heights until help could arrive.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Bolt Action gaming day and "Ramelle" AAR

On Saturday the 14th of March we organized a Bolt Action scenario day at my gaming club ( This concept, which we've previously used with Flames of War to great effect, works so that we have a number of pre-arranged scenarios with the terrain and miniatures already set up on the boards. The gamers take turns playing the various scenarios and in this way get the chance to try out new armies and tactical situations. This method also enables us to put more effort into planning the scenarios.

Over the course of the day, we had four scenarios set up and some 13 gamers all-together. The scenarios worked out well and were quite diverse. US Marines fought the Japanese in a chaotic night-time jungle fight across Alligator Creek. On another table British Paras made a daring raid on a German HQ and a third table saw Winter War Soviet forces attempting to knock out a Finnish bunker and/or take prisoners. The game I ran (as an umpire) was my interpretation of the final battle scene from Saving Private Ryan: the battle for the bridge at Ramelle.

Royal Firepower at the London Arsenal

This might be going a bit far back as backlog, but I visited The Royal Firepower Museum at the London Arsenal in August 2014. As a reservist artillery officer, engineer and military historian, this was the perfect museum for me.

The Royal Arsenal was founded at the mouth of the Thames in 1671 and turned into a massive foundry, storehouse, laboratory for making gunpowder and eventually also incorporated barracks and a training ground. At some point the workers of the Arsenal decided to put together a football club, which apparently has fared ok. Today the Arsenal is open to the public as an artillery museum.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Saga is another great game that has been pretty popular at our club lately. I like the rules which, although at times a bit "gamey", none-the-less exude an appropriately gritty dark age feel whilst at the same time delivering a fun and engaging game system.

The other week I had the chance to play two games with a friend of mine. Drawing inspiration a PC game from my teenage-years - "King of Dragon Pass" - I set up the first scenario to be a cattle raid into a neighbours lands. We played "The Escort" scenario from the rulebook with my Vikings aiming to escort some "re-acquired" cattle that had wandered into my neighbours territory back home. I would win if I got 2/3 cattle herds out of the burning village (my men had nothing to do with that!) and across the enemy table edge.


My warlord, Haakon the Humourless deployed on my right with a group of 6 hearthguard, 4 warriors and one herd of cows. Another group of 6 hearthguard and a herd of cows took the centre and the runt of my warband - 4 warriors and the last herd - were on my left. My friend put the bulk of his gang in centre / centre-left.

The good guys (aka my Vikings):

The bad guys:

My centre soon started veering off towards my right, whilst the hearthguard and warlord on my right moved left to support them. The enemy also advanced and pretty soon we had a brawl in the centre.

The enemy's (cowardly) warriors got a bloody nose in the first round of fighting despite outnumbering my epic heroes. Under the cover of this mighty clash of arms the cow herd was ushered towards the safety of the right flank.

My left flank stagnated pretty quickly into a staring contest. I advanced the few warriors here just enough to be a tempting target whilst putting most of my activation dice into winning fights in the centre and hurrying the cows on my right off the board.

The plan seemed solid, until the enemy brought in their next wave. I was caught wrong-footed in the enemy's counter-attack and my hearthguard took a beating from the villainous enemy (who cravenly outnumbered my elite troop).

Things started to look bad as my 12 hearthguard were all sent to Valhalla. Haakon the Humourless - now alone - considered a tactical withdrawal to be appropriately heroic and legged it after the cattle. It was now largely a running contest, with my warlord and 4 warriors trying to buy time for the two herds of cattle on my right to escape.

The craven enemy, only after seeing their overwhelming strength, took courage and chased after my brave defenders. They almost caught up with the cattle, but it was all in vain. Worn out by the sprint, the enemy were easy pickings for Haakon and his brave followers, who dispatched them with a counter-attack - thus enabling the second herd to escape and win the game for me.

The enemy warlord, Svante the Prudent, was left humiliated yet unbowed by the brave heroics of my men. Thus we decided to play a second game - one where Svante and his men would come to redeem their honour and slay Haakon (Kill the Warlord scenario).


The second game began with the craven invaders (Svante and his men) advancing into my lands in a dense mass. I had divided my forces in three due to the terrain and with a general plan of threatening the enemy's flanks.

 For the first few turns both sides advanced and manoeuvred into positions. The tension was tangible as both sides tried to goad the other into an inopportune position. The shield walls were forming.

Finally, the storm broke. The craven invaders advanced en-masse in the centre (between the two fields). I took the opportunity and charged in with my warlord and his best men - 6 hearthguards. I made short work of the startled interlopers and advanced 4 warriors to support my men.

However, my plan was flawed! I had some good boosts in place in anticipation for the enemy counter-attack, with the 4 warriors intended as a sacrificial unit to take down as many attackers as possible. This didn't quite work out and instead, a series of savage attacks by several enemy units left my warlord exposed. The craven Svante the Prudent, afraid to face the prowess of Haakon on his own, threw in his warriors against this forlorn hero. Despite a titanic struggle, there were just too many of the dastardly enemy and, finally, Haakon succumbed to the blades of the enemy. Game over.

Two good and fun games. I must admit, I played a bit poorly in both games, which I put down to inexperience. This game really requires you to think several moves ahead and husband your activation dice. In both games I deployed my forces in a very scattered manner and went into situations without sufficient preparation for the following counter-attack. Live and learn. The games were so much fun that I definitely need to try to get in another Saga game in the near future.

First post

Here we go. After long deliberation and much procrastination I have finally got around to setting this blog up. This is the logical next step, given that I've been actively posting pictures of my toy soldiers and stories of their exploits on various forums for many years now. I intend to continue this trend via this blog.

As a quick introduction, I'm an avid war gamer from Finland. I've been playing various miniature and board games for some 15+ years. Nowadays it's mostly historical stuff: Napoleonics (Black Powder), World War 2 (Bolt Action, Flames of War) and US Civil War (Altar of Freedom, Longstreet). A period that I am particularly interested in is the 17th century and especially the Thirty Years War. This is a period I study professionally and for which I am creating a board game. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes.

So that this first post doesn't become an intimidating wall of text (as my rants are wont to do), I'll finish here and post some pictures of my 15mm Napoleonic French. They'll be fielded in the weekend's Black Powder game at our club (, which will kick off our 1812 Russian campaign.