Tuesday, March 19, 2024

The Boom! Yangtze River, 1925 (TSATF/Gunboat & Dhows!))

The Boom!

This was the second battle I prepared along with the Mexican Revolution for the 2023 gaming season. I had always wanted to do this battle after seeing "Sand Pebbles" for the first time many moons ago. I have seen several great boom game scenarios over the years. And there are some very good models of the San Pablo out there too. However, the 28mm scale makes some of these boats impractical for the table. Hence, my Last Stand Boatyard (LSD) tries to make them a little more manageable for easier game play. I tend to scale them down a little so that your troop bases fit a little better, and those of us with fat fingers, don't destroy the model while moving around deck crews. So this battle is much more "Hollywood" but still retains the feel of the period in my humble opinion. So let's get on with it. 

The Models

The "Pritcher" Class Gunboat used in this scenario is one of two built for the Florida club who lost, William Pritcher, a fellow gamer years ago. It's about 18" Long with a beam of 4", which makes it about 90' long with a 20' beam. I try to keep it to scale, but you can imagine a 120' gunboat would be over two feet long! You let me know, but I think this boat did the trick. By the way, in this scenario the boat was named the  USS R.W. Welch in memory of Rick Welch out there in Florida where we still see his two sons at the cons there. He will always be missed. So the basswood Gunboat and Junks were made by LSD, with the resin sampans being purchased. 

The boom itself was made of hemp rope cut into sections that aligned with the four Junks decks and connected with magnets wrapped into the ends. That made it far easier to "cut" the boom.

The Battle

Set in 1925 during the Chinese rebellion we are on the Yangtze River where the USS Welch is blocked from moving upriver to evacuate western missionaries and other civilians. The Welch has four (4) Boarding parties armed with BARs, Thompsons and Rifles. They are supported by the main gun and two Hotchkiss Mgs on the bridge roof. The forward part of the boat has been reinforced with sand bags and the Boarding parties lined up along the rails ready to advance into combat. The boat is allowed to hit the boom between the two outer Junks where outside of these makes it too shallow to navigate. The boat must slow to make contact and then fight their way onto the Junks to cut the boom and continue up the Yangtze. Easy right?

The Chinese boom lays across the large Junks anchored on the rocks at the entry to the river. Each Junk has a unit of Regulars ready to repel the Americans. Each boat also has a muzzle loader which can fire every other turn. Attached to the boom are ratlines that can be crossed to move between Junks. The modified movement allows a unit to move one section in a turn. A section being forward, center, aft on the large Junk decks, onto the boom ratline, etc. Wanted to make that easy. We used random card movement for unit commanders. There were also three sampans with units on board which in some battles harassed the incoming gunboat or waited to reinforce the melee. It was up to the players to position the sampans, one having to be behind the boom line and the other two could be placed on the opposite side at each flank. 

Overall, in all three battles there was plenty to do and a lot happening when they got in close. The Americans of course had the edge in firepower, but some lucky hits on the Gunboat actually started a few fires. I also saw some interesting Gunboat movements on the way to the boom. Some serpentine movements bringing the forward and aft guns to bear (Well done guys). A couple of Junks were actually sunk but not deep enough to allow the Gunboat to cross. The Boarding party firepower in most cases was brutal, but when it came to hand-to-hand, in some of the battles they were actually repulsed by the Chinese. Very bloody skirmishes. 


So once again, my thanks to all at having the patience and playing with polite gamesmanship which always leads to a great time. I look forward to seeing all of you again this year with a couple of new games which I will be announcing soon. Back to the boatyard, see you soon! 

Last Stand Dan

Monday, March 18, 2024

Viva Villa! The Battle of Tierra Blanca, Mexican Revolution, 1913 (TSATF)

 It's been a while I know...

Sorry that it has been so long since I last posted anything. Life threw me some vicious curve balls over the last few years, and I didn't see them coming. I sort of lost my way, however, with the encouragement of all of my great friends and family I am getting back into the things I love. One of them being wargaming and all the "brothers" I have out there. I decided last summer to get "with it" and modify my boatyard site and start blogging again with all the things I have been up to. 

Last summer (2023) I took out my DVD of Villa Rides! (Yul Bryner, Charles Bronson, Robert Mitchum) and started buying and painting Mexican Revolution figures, terrain, trains, etc., to start campaigning in Mexico. I also finally finished my version of Chinese junks to present my version of the "The Boom" scene from the Sand Pebbles movie, which is another one of my favorites. I will blog about "The Boom" next, followed by my 2024 scenarios I am working on. 

Once I completed building the scenarios I attended four conventions last year and I put on the Villa scenario 4 times from May last year to this month (March 2024). Here was my schedule.

  • May 2023 - HMGS PSW - Sand Wars - Mesa, AZ - Assisted Mad Guru with his excellent Camerone Scenario.
  • September 2023 - HMGS South - Hurricon - Orlando, FL - Tierra Blanca and The Boom
  • October 2023 - HMGS PSW - Mini Wars - Buena Park, CA - Assisted Mad Guru with Camerone and hosted Tierra Blanca and The Boom
  • November 2023 - Colorado Military Historians (CMH) - Vet Wars - Tierra Blanca and The Boom
  • March 2024 - Colorado Springs Gamers Association (CSGA) - Club Night - Tierra Blanca

It has been a busy schedule and it was all worth it. 

Convention Game Announcement for the Villa Battle:

Viva Villa!
La Batalla de Tierra Blanca, Mexico, Noviembre 1913
(The battle of Tierra Blanca/35 miles south of Juarez)

Huerta executes Pancho Villa's good friend Presidente Madero, that was a big mistake! Villa's forces turn on Huerta and fight a two day battle. One of his Generals, Rodolfo Fierro, broke off from the main battle to destroy the Federales ammunition rain. This is Last Stand Dan's version of that battle. 

Rules: We used "The Sword And The Flame" from the late Larry Brom. 
Players: Anywhere from 6 to 8 
Table Size: 8 x 6

About the Battle
The main objective was capturing or destroying the ammo train. The Villistas had a large force and to add some intrigue to the battle, we allowed a large force to move into and up the dry river bed to attack from the rear. The Federales had their hands full. Staying in place protecting the train and the station while Villista cavalry and infantry, with their sticks of dynamite, surged all around them. Meanwhile, the train crew were stoking the coals and watering the engine to build enough steam to get them to safety. The train had to stay in place for 6 turns which seemed like a lifetime for Federal troops. They did get word out to the town and a cavalry patrol of ruthless Federale Colorados came up the rails in hopes of turning the tide. 

Of all the battles, the train did make it through once, by the skin of their teeth they made it to the end of the table to the tunnel. I mean, it was on the very last turn, using random card movement, it was either the Villistas throwing their last dynamite sticks or the train making it to the tunnel. With the high card drawn, the train made it with much elation around the table. All of the battles were a blast, and you couldn't ask for such a good bunch of good spirited players at each table. 

Thanks for all the clubs, events, friends and venues that allowed me to put on this game. Next year will be even more fun with the second Mexican Revolution battle, a scene from Villa Rides! and the next project which has my boatyard bristling with some boat construction. I won't spoil it for you. It's good to be back gaming again.

Enjoy the pictures and if anyone would like to get a copy of the TSATF QREF and Scenario modifications just let me know. 


Last Stand Dan

Standby for the next blog about "The Boom" battle and scenario build. Enjoy the pictures which is an assortment from all the games played with some notes.