Friday 31 August 2012

BBIB (Review)

I was feeling a little flush last week so decided to buy another set of rules. I wanted a set of rules we could play wit any amount of club players with the minimum of fuss, figures and scenery. With that criteria it was going to be naval or air war. Just because of the terrain. I finally settled on Blood Bilge and Iron Balls (BBIB) written by Alan Abbey of . I am very glad I did. I must be honest I do know Alan in real life so bear that in mind as I write this review, because I feel I should disclose that we are friends and therefore this review could be considered Partisan and perhaps Bias.
Lets start with the price. The Cover price is £16.99, I bought mine from Amazon and it cost £11.98 including postage. I will therefore consider this a 12 quid book and not a 17 quid one. So  having covered the price, what do you get for your hard earned cash. The book itself is about A% in format, hard bound and 134 pages in thickness. The paper is a good quality stock and gives all the indications of a serious publication. One of the things I like about these rules is that the have gone back to basics with the format. I have described them as an "Old man set of rules!" By that I mean there is minimal FLUFF! I remember back in the early 80's Games workshop describing Warhammer 40 000 rulebook prior to release as the most visual and illustrated rule book ever. This seems to be a trend that has continued with bigger and more glossy pictures quite often irrelevant to the rules but just included in a kind of seductive "wargames porn" way to sucker the buyer into thinking they had bought something special. So if you buy rules to look at the pictures (Wargames Porn) then this is not the set of rules for you. In BBIB you will find diagrams and scenario maps, but you will not find sketches or glossy pictures of models that the average player would struggle to emulate. If you want a set of rules to put on a coffee table look elsewhere. These rules are more like the old skool rules by "tabletop games" that I started out with. Perhaps that is why I think of them as an "Old Man" set of rules, because they very much remind me of my wargaming roots.
The 134 pages are broken down as follows:
  • Pages 1-33 are the rules
  • Pages 34-41 are the optional rules
  • Pages 42-58 are the scenarios
  • Pages 59-76 are the Campaign rules
  • Pages 77- 134 are various appendices.
  • Taking each section at a time.
    The actual mechanics function around both Dice (d6) and Cards. The cards are of two varieties, 1 deck of standard playing cards with Jokers included which determines the level of damage and the location of damage should a hit be achieved. The second deck of cards is what the mechanics of the game rest on. Each fleet has 3 cards, A movement card, a shooting card and a Repairing card. All the fleets cards are shuffled together and drawn at random. This means that you may have to fire before you move or repair, or any other combination. Once the deck has been through the turn ends, the cards are reshuffled and drawn again. This means that it is possible to get shot twice in a row without being able to reply, move or repair. But what works for one player can also work for the opponent.
    Another reminder of the old skool rules is the fact that each sheet has a "Record sheet" this reminds me of battletech or car wars, as damage is marked on the sheet a it is received by each ship. To hit a ship you must of course be in arc of fire, (And Line of sight of course.... goes without saying really) Depending on the range you roll a d6 (for each gun factor firing) to achieve a hit. Point blank range is 2+ extreme range is 6 per gun factor. Hits allow you to draw playing cards which as mentioned above indicate both the location (by Suits) and the damage by the Number (Including Jack, Queen, King).
    Movement is by the direction of the wind and how you have rigged the ship. The rigging is abstracted to full sail, half sail and No sail. So you don't need to be an expert in real life, But your ship WILL move as it is rigged and with the wind direction., There are no brakes or accelerators because the wind is your engine.
    The optional rules are optional, they include things like fire ships, British gunnery islands and shoals as well as merchant/transport ships. I don't have a huge amount to say about this section except to say that the rules are optional and therefore I wont use them for the first couple of games.
    There are 4 scenarios, one is historical (The Battle of the Nile), the other 3 are much more general in nature. The Battle of the Nile has all the ship record sheets for that particular battle in the appendices as well as full colour ship templates should you wish to start with pieces of paper on the tabletop to represent ships.
    The section of campaign rules is for a generic campaign. Designed for club games where all things start equally. It would have been nice to have a historical campaign setting as well although that can be worked out by yourself should you wish. Personally I would have liked a historical campaign but don't want the bother of working one out. The club campaign rules seem to be harsh with the weather, each campaign turn there is a 1 in 6 chance of a storm (3 in 6 in the depths of winter). And storms have a 2 in 6 chance of sinking each ship in the area. This would be something I would "Tweek" as to me it does seem very arbitrary and overly powerful. I do realise that nature is not to be underestimated, so I shall put this down to personal taste
    The biggest portion of the book provides you with everything you will need to play. It has ship record ships for everything from a sloop to a 140 1st rate. Permission to photocopy or download from the Pen and Sword website ( Which saves you having to cut the book up.
    My overall impressions of these rules are very favourable. I can see a good fun club game resulting with much complaining about turn sequence and conversations that star "But If I had been able to move when I wanted then you would not have been able to....!" I love the fact that these rules are a return to the old fashioned types of rules without padding and fluff. I don't buy rules to read a short story or to look at an irrelevant picture, I buy rules to play a game. These rules take the basics without getting sidetracked and explain them in an easy to follow way. So for me these rules are a step in the right direction. So if you want an set of rules reminiscent of the past but with more up-to-date feel have a look at BBIB.
    That's enough writing for today. I shall post again on Sunday. Thanks for reading all the best Clint.

Wednesday 29 August 2012


 Here are some 28mm Gurkha's of the Victorian period. They were painted for a friend, who gave me the flags to put on as well. I don't think the flags are historically correct, but they are what he wanted so who am I to argue. There are 8 figures in all including a couple of conversions (Not carried out by me). I think they are foundry miniatures from way back, but again I can't attest to that it's just my feeling about them, nothing more. I will say I did not enjoy painting them, well you can't enjoy everything, but they are done now. Just a quick coat of varnish and they can go back to him.
I took all the colours from various Internet sources so if they are wrong you'll have to forgive me. As I know my friend will.

I am very pleased with the results of the poll. I will close it a day early. No clear winner, with Pacific and Western Europe both getting the same number of votes, with Eastern Europe just one vote behind. North Africa/ Mediterranean just a single vote. I found that result the most surprising. I deliberately kept the far distant project very vague as I did not want it to influence the choice in voting. I shall still keep it close to my chest but strongly bear the results in mind.
Unrelated to the poll I have decided to build on my PBI success and start a second force. A force able to fight against my US infantry company. That being the case it would have to be Japanese or German, although I did look at doing a late war Russian force for the possibility of an alternative history, but quickly decided against it. So given that  I had a stalled FOW project of 2nd "Das Reich" SS Panzer Regiment I decided that was the way to go. More of this another day.
That's it for today, thanks for reading. I shall post again on Friday, all the best Clint.

Monday 27 August 2012


My Army list. All Average quality, Aggression levels 1,2,3,4.
Command Platoon : Command stand and 5 stands of riflemen (Garand)

1st Platoon: Platoon Commander, 5 Rifleman stands (Garand), 3 LMG stands (BARs) 1 Bazooka stand.

2nd Platoon: Platoon Commander, 5 Rifleman stands (Garand), 3 LMG stands (BARs), 1Bazooka stand.

Support Platoon: Platoon Commander, 3 Medium mortar stands, 2 HMG stands,

Armoured support: 3 75mm M4 Sherman Tanks.

Total points 400 (Exactly)
Being a typical Peter Pig game you know from the outset that things will not go the way you plan. Graham my opponent had wanted to try the US army list out for over a year, wanting to see how Browning Automatic Rifles (BARs) and Garand rifles would work in the game, both being somewhat different from the standard LMG and bolt action rifles available to his Germans or Russians. He also wanted to try a Panzergrenidier force all half track mounted. So I chose an aggression level of 1. The most dug in and defencive stance possible, knowing that he would take a much higher aggression level. We went for the Random terrain. So random that 1/4 of the board was nude except for a single building square. Opps! Oh well these things happen. As defender I got to position the three objectives, seen above). The crashed aircraft on the road, The defencive command post (middle left) and the brown building bottom right. I also had three squares of prepared defences and 3 squares of "Potential" mines. One of the quirks of the game is that the defender nominates the table edge he want with the attacker forced to have the opposite. You then roll 3 times to see if the attacker can change this. Not wanting to defend open ground I gave that to him. We went through the Pre-game reconnaissance procedure to determine our starting forces. Being totally committed to defence my pregame reconnaissance was slow. As such I had to start the game with one random platoon. As it turned out my support platoon which was better than my command platoon, but still had no real anti-tank capabilities.
Graham started with 2 Stugs IVs, Company commander mounted on a motorcycle combination, and 2 full platoons of Panzergrenidiers in 6 Hanomags. I wanted some anti tank stuff at this stage I really did. You can just decern his force at the far side of the board while my 6 stands are clustered middle left. The German artillery strike drops short and my troops breath out. And then the rolling thunder of the mechanised infantry charge forward. (Attacker always gets first turn). I am a little surprised at just how fast they move. I should not have been but only having used Russian infantry in the past who can be reluctant to go forward I was in my head thinking that they would only advance 2 squares at most. Graham got the majority of his forces inside my minimum mortar range. GIT! The mine fields did slow him up and make him select a different route, but did not overly affect his plan. Shots were exchanged with no real casualties.
My turn. Starting with the mortars I noticed the motorcycle and side car were in range of the mortars. I fired the mortar and needing a 6 (2 dice rolled and results counted SEPARATELY) managed to get 1. So the mortar had hit the square. The German company commander needed 2+ to avoid being a casualty and so Graham rolls a 1. Result! Dead German company commander. The only other thing my mortar could target was the second platoon all in halftracks. I had no chance. The dice gods on the other hand thought differently. And the Mortars dropped with pin point accuracy on the Germans on my right flank who were heading towards the blue building. So how and I still don't know how, Graham needing "Anything but a one!" to avoid casualties rolled horribly. I am in shock now, the right flank is still not secure but I had stalled the platoon with a lucky mortar strike.
I rolled a 6 for the count down as well.
German turn 2. The Panzergrenidiers on my left were de-busing and getting "Tiggy". My Hmg was giving as good as it got though and I was still on a high from my ridiculously lucky mortar strike. Graham took a morale check for his troops on my right and they were forced not to advance. They could and did retreat one square and disperse to become three mortar targets as opposed to one large one. The Stugs firing at dug in infantry were mostly not hitting the target and definitely not causing me any casualties.
US turn 2. Having one artillery strike at my disposal, I played it. It arrived on time on target and chewed some holes in the debussing Germans, and managed to knock out a halftrack in the process. My Hmgs were holding their own and keeping the left flank secure. Given my success with the mortars on the right flank and as the Germans could not advance they were my only target any way. I plopped some more shells their way. Graham dice deserted him again and I managed to knock out most of their troops who were manning the inherent vehicle MGs. I am not saying it server them right for being in open topped vehicles, just that the dice were on my side again.Again I rolled another 6 for the countdown.
German turn 3. My HMG position got overrun. they had done a good job, but eventually they were just out gunned the the German first platoon. The rest of the German shooting, especially from the Stugs wasn't up to much really.
Us Turn 3.  My turn was over quickly a couple of shots with the last Hmg and still dropping mortar shells on the German second Platoon.
German Turn 4. Morale tests for the German first platoon forced them to retreat back to hard cover. Being that this was the very open board there was only one place for them to go. so the slipped into the outskirts of a village and started the second MG duel. The German second Platoon failed it's morale check very badly and retreated off the board. Graham took it well but would not give up the fight. He advanced the two stugs and machine gunned my last HMG at point blank range.
US Turn 4. My Sherman tank support arrived. On the board at last now I had something to worry those Stugs. Or  to put it another way the Stugs had better targets than the dug in Mortar teams. The Shermans turned up and one died instantly. One got a shot off, hit but failed to penetrate.  The German sniper fired for the first time and pinned my support platoon commander and one mortar team. Seeking revenge I drooped mortar shells from the other two mortars on the edge of the village. To no effect. The count down was getting critical now and still the bulk of my infantry had not arrived. But at least I had the Sherman's.
German turn 5. German reinforcements. A support section, single sdkfz 251 with a command section a HMG and a mortar appeared at the table edge. They had enough action points to drop a single mortar shell onto my defenders. SPLATO! Graham had leaned how to roll dice. DRAT! result the death of the support platoon commander and my last HMG. So only 3 mortars and 2 Sherman left. But the attackers had no infantry to take any of the objectives. Graham trundles a stug forward onto my casualties to stop me removing them.
US Turn 5. Finally I managed to drag some more infantry onto the table as 1/2 of one of my platoons arrive. My tanks take a morale test and one can't move. And when I roll for motivation I Can't motivate it sufficiently to get a shot of. The return fire from both Stugs either misses or fails to penetrate the armour (I got luck again). My other Sherman moves forward to get into a shooting position. It gets hit my Stug opportunity fire and takes major damage. (It can't move and needs to pass a check before it can fire again. Which it fails to do for the last few turns of the game. I sacrifice a mortar stand to create a command stand. 1 less motivation, but n o other real option. Again I roll high on the countdown and knowing that we only have 2 maybe 3 turns left end my turn.
German turn 6. The German mortar continues to plague me, the Stugs fail to motivate sufficiently to take out the Sherman. They manage one shot between them which missed the damaged tank. The end game feeling is setting in.
US Turn 6. I bring on the rag tag last dregs of platoon no2. ($ stands from a possible 10. But I know If I don't get them on this time they won't have any time to do anything when they do arrive. I get my Mortar to drop smoke in front of the German mortar to block line of sight, with luck it should stop him firing next turn. My infantry move up including my bazooka team into the prepared defences that they support platoon have been defending. This means that it ill threaten at least one of the stugs next turn but does not have sufficient motivation to get a shot of this turn. But it all put pressure on Grahams forces. My one functioning tank is not sufficiently motivated to either move or fire so I end my turn.
The countdown is so low a 5 or 6 will end the game. I roll a six.
Conclusion. Luck was really on my side in this game. Seriously it was the luckiest game I have had for about 3 years. I did make some mistakes and should have played he pre-game less flamboyantly. But generally I managed to do roughly the right thing at the right time, which is very unlike me! The real downside is that we did not get to see how the US weapons (Garand and BAR) functioned in a game setting. However, as I told Graham, allowing me to win has galvanised me into wanting to get another force for the PBI. And he has beaten me 2 out of three times.
That's a long AAR for me. Hope you found something of interest in it. I shall post again on Wednesday all the best Clint.