There were four games set up at the start of the day, Sharp Practice Naval Landing in 28mm, Through the Mud and the Blood Western Front also in 28mm, Charlie Don't Surf in 15mm and A Boer War game in 6mm using a set of Grand Tactical rules that Richard Clark of Too Fat Lardies was working on. The rules were a work in progress but they did play very well as you will hear. It's also worth mentioning that after the morning session there was a Napoleonic(I think?) Naval Game set up in place of the Boer War game so I was lucky to have chosen that as my morning game.
The Boer War game was set up so the British entered on one side and the Boers had hidden deployment in that they had to deploy within 6" of three markers on three hills to the front of the Brits. It wasn't really necessary for the Boers to deploy very much for the first three or four phases of the game as the British had to move quite large formations onto the table, send out Open Order troops and then spread out into Skirmish Order to protect the front of their formations. In the meantime the Boers sent out Vedettes, Mounted Boer Farmers who act as Infantry harassing the British flanks. Quite effective they were too. In talking to Richard, who had certainly done his research thoroughly, that most of the Boers were town dwelling types that probably had never fired a gun in anger, office workers, tradesmen and the like. This certainly went against the popular image of the exceedingly skilled Boer marksmen! It appears that this image of the Boer commando comes from the First Boer War where most of the recalcitrant combatants were in fact farmers and the like who would have needed to be good marksmen. Their main advantage the Boers held over the British was one of knowing the ground they were fighting on whilst the British simply did not have very much of a clue at all! The war was one of the British army learning to fight the Boers and these tactics were to prove invaluable with the outbreak of WWI and the subsequent fighting.
OK, back to the game. The British seemed to manage to form a bottleneck which slowed them down sufficiently for the Boer artillery, of which we were well equipped, and their rifle fire to take it's toll on the British and bring quite a few units To Ground thus stopping their advance even further. Eventually with a little urging From Richard (who was umpiring) they advanced by forming a Crest of the Wave formation and it was this tactic that they took as one of the primary lessons into WWI. It also was to speed up the British advance but not sufficiently enough for it to be a game winner. We had to stop for lunch before the completion of the game which was slightly unfortunate. In the end I think that the British would have carried the Boer positions and it was "well played" on our part to have held them off and not taken and significant casualties. The same cannot be said for the British!
Here's the pics, some close ups and some general showing the flow of the game (I hope!):
Boer War Game
At lunch time as well a gobbling down my Cous Cous salad, lovingly prepared by your truly in the morning, I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the Charlie Don't Surf game as well as the Sharp Practice Naval Game which I found out was to feature a certain Harry Flashman. Well, that made sense to me. Alas, I was so engrossed in my own games that I cannot comment on how these games went other then to publish the pics:
Charlie Don't Surf Game
Sharp Practice Naval Landing Game
In the afternoon I got to play the game that I had been waiting for after watching briefly the practice game at the club the Thursday before. A Game of Through the Mud and the Blood based on Chain of Command. The spectacular terrain was made up by the few of the guy at our clubs, in particular Nigel, truly the club terrain magician. It really was a feast for the eye and just looked very much like the real thing.
I was handed Paul from the Hartlepool Club who had been one of the British players along with Nigel in the morning game. We diced off to see who got Gerry and who was to play Tommy Atkins. I got Tommy Atkins which was pleasing as I got to move about some of the lovely sculpts by Great War Miniatures now sold by North Star Military Figures which I have been dithering about buying for a number of years now. The game and the fact that I managed to buy a discounted Hard Copy of Chain of Command from Richard has now made it an inevitability that I will be buying not only some 6/10mm Brits both their Late War Germans, Late War British and probably Americans too! Of course it's only a small hop, skip and a jump from the Western Front to Gallipoli so I'm almost certain to succumb to the lovely Woodboine Designs WWI in the East range sold by Gripping Beast too boot! Then there's the literature!! This is going to get expensive.....
Back to the game. My pre-game barrage was, well, about as rubbish as it could have been with two small sections of barbed wire destroyed equidistant from the center of the board where I had placed my main Jump Off Points! Great Start! The game was marked for most of my phases and turns going very slowly by a mixture of me being overcautious and rolling one's so consistently that my units were creeping taking casualties whilst only managing to move about 3" in all that time!! In the meantime Paul had managed to deploy all his troops and his Heavy Machine gun and started to rip holes in my sections. The only section belonging to me that managed to inflict any casualties were the chaps with the Rifle Grenades. This clearly wasn't going well and I had utterly failed to take advantage of my early game barrage on the German positions by creeping along instead of making a mad dash for their trenches. As this dawned on me (I know! I can be a bit slow off the starting blocks at times!) I made one mad rush with one section in,order into to get into close combat that I really should have won only to have the section come racing bruised, battered and two men dead in the process back towards my table edge. Undaunted, I managed to shake off enough Shock to try again, This time Paul voluntarily started to run to his rear leaving me with a very surprising victory! Of course, it was all down to the 28mm little men and the rule mechanics really as it did take me time to get the hang of it. I've got to say that the game was so enjoyable and entertaining that I will be making that investment into buying GWM!
Through the Mud and the Blood
Thus a really great day was to end. I hope that you've enjoyed reading my little sojourn into one of the Lard Games Days, much more of which I hope there is to some next year. It was a pleasure to meet Richard who guided us through the Boer War games and designed all of the games. It was a surprise (and a pleasure) to see Douggie from the Edinburgh Club, SESWC where used to be a member of for about a decade when living up in Sunny Scotland. Unfortunately I had a prior engagement on Saturday evening and couldn't make the curry on the evening so I was unable to fully take advantage of seeing Douggie in a good while. I do wish him well and all the best living down in St Albans.
Bye for now