Monday, 21 January 2008

Division WW2 Game

WW2 has always been one of the popular periods for me. It started for me as a young kid with the old Airfix plastic figures and vehicles. We used to have large battle on the lounge floor much to the worry of our parents.

Over the years I switched to 6mm and onto a table (I don;t think my body would allow me to game on the floor any longer). Although I've tried a number of rules I have never stuck with the same rules for more than 2 games! I've also leant towards the large scale games with each base representing a battalion.

Recently I decide to try Kremlin Miniatures Hurrah Stalino rules after a recommendation. The rules as they stand are for Russian Front 1942 – 45 but I thought they would work well for N.W. Europe 44-45 by creating some stats for the Americans. The rules use a 3” grid system but I used my 4” Kallistra Hexes.

The battle was the German counter offensive along the Ardennes. The Americans had 2 mechanised infantry divisions spread along the front with an Armoured Battlegroup in reserve off the table (which they had to dice for once the Germans reached a certain point on the table). The German offensive was carried out by 1 Panzer Division, 1 Kamfgruppe, 1 x Infantry Division and 1 x Panzergrenadier Division.

The game lasted about 2 hours and both sides thoroughly enjoyed the game (interestingly there was another 6mm WW2 game on at the club that night using a set of well known rules and after 4 hours they hadn't finished).

In our battle the German offensive began swiftly and were in combat within 3 turns. The Panzer Division leading the Infantry Division on the left flank. However, the Panzer Grenadiers on the right flank became bogged down in the forest soon taking it but making no more headway due to stiff US resistance. They fought off numerous US counter-offensives, holding the edge of the forest. On the left flank the Panzer division pinned down the other US Infantry division until its own Infantry Division caught up with them. Once they arrived, the Panzer Division rushed forward toward the U.S. Supply dump at the rear.

The US reserve battle group entered on the German right flank and the Kamfgruppe took it head on and took heavy losses. It looked like trouble for the Germans.

But this was to change significantly as the German Panzer Division took the supply dump. The German right flank had ground to a halt. The US players lack of supply meant he began suffering badly in all combats. He had to divert his remaining forces to try and relieve the supply sector. Unfortunately he failed against the Panzer Division with the German Infantry who had defeated his now threatening his flank. The US player admitted defeat.

There are some nice touches to the rules. Each hex represents 1.5 to 2km and can accommodate up to 6 units. However, only 3 of them can fight. The rules pay for tank battalions to have infantry support when attacking/defending. If you lose a combat with a tank battalion as a lead unit but you have infantry supporting you can elect to lose an infantry battalion instead of a tank battalion.

Combat is resolved by throwing 2D6 for each side and then adding dice for superior combat factors, supporting units and terrain advantages. The total number of dice are rolled and the winner is the one with the highest dice (not the total dice). Powerful units can be defeated in unfavourable tactical situations and vice versa.

If you lose your supply sector you roll one dice less each time. The US player learnt a crucial lesson here and next time he said he would guard his supply dump next time now he realised the importance of it.

All in all the game moved quickly. Tactical decisions had to be made by both players continually throughout the game but the combat system felt right. It rewarded you for using the right terrain and making good tactical decisions. We will definitely being playing this again and I can see me porting this across to the Sci Fi period.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Bye Bye Windows

Well I finally made the decision at home to switch from Windows XP on my main machine. As stated on a previous post I had reinstalled my PC with XP in August last year following a trojan. As usual it was beginning to slow down quite drastically with the anti-virus software and anti-spam software. The decision was whether to do a complete re-install or look at the alternatives. Vista refuses to install on my machine, unfortunately, even though I received a free upgrade disk when I purchased the machine 12 months ago.

I have previously looked at Linux as an operating system.Unlike windows when there is one version Linux has different distributions made by different companies. The 2 most known for newbies like me is Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS. So this is where I started looking.

Several other reasons persuaded me away from Windows:
1. You don't require a virus scanner - as Linux doesn't have viruses in the wild
2. You never need to defrag as Linux doesn't fragment files
3. Its more secure
4. Its free, the software is free
5. When you update the operating system you can update every program installed with 1 click.

Both come with LiveCDs so you can try the Operating System before you install it. Although PCLinuxOS looked nice I couldn't get my Ethernet card to be recognised but Ubuntu found it immediately. So it looked if the decision had been made.

All the software I use on my XP machine is already Open Source (i.e. free) and mostly is available for Linux anyway. I use Open Office for my Office Suite, Firefox is my browser of choice and Thunderbird is my email client.

Just before the switch over I found a version of Ubuntu called Linux Mint. Which is based on it heavily but comes included with all the MP3 and DVD Codecs out of the box and works straight away.

So how easy was it to set up. Very.

Firstly I backed up all my files from XP onto a USB hard Disk. Then I defragged the PC. Reboot the PC with the Linux Mint CD in the drive. Once thats booted click on Install on the Linux Desktop. Then followed 7 questions as to what language I wanted, what time zone I was based etc. I repartitioned my Hard Disk which was probably the hardest part so that I had 2 new partitions for Linux. I reduced by XP partition size to create it.

When the installation was complete I rebooted and had a menu whether to start Windows or Linux, booted into Linux and done. The beauty of Linux Mint aswell is I can get to by XP hard disk (but not the Linux disk from Windows). I copied my profiles for Thunderbird and Firefox so I didn't lose any emails or settings.

I can do everything I did in Windows on Linux so far and am using Linux 95% of the time. There is an excellent Community Forum that assists with any problems you may come across and they are especially helpfully to newbies like me.I probably won't completely remove XP completely until I haven't used it for 12 months...just to be on the safeside.

I reckon over the next couple of years as Linux goes from strength to strength more people will switch to it as I have done.