31 October, 2012

Top (Film) Firefights: #3, #2, #1

While I upload my photos from the weekend of gaming, here are my top three

#3 Hard Boiled (Hospital)

Wonderfully over-the-top Hong Kong action! I think this was my first John Woo movie and is notable for the long take and minimal fancy camera work

#2 Way of the Gun (Free Cheese)

This is an exceptionally underrated (or just unknown) film, with several other brilliantly done shootouts. Well worth your time. Just remember: there's always free cheese in a mousetrap.

#1 Heat (Heist)

It's a Michael Mann film, so we can't be surprised at the cinematography, but hell, this is a full-on long-range shootout with tactical movement. (No embedding allowed on this one, so you'll just have to click through the link above)

Also seriously considered:
Open Range
The Kingdom
The Killer
Four Brothers
Three Kings

Let me know if any of your favourites didn't make my list...

25 October, 2012

Top (Film) Firefights: #6, #5, #4

With Gaelcon swiftly approaching I'm (as usual) working hard to get my game up to speed. By Tuesday or Wednesday next week you'll see some early results hopefully, but in the meantime here's the next few of my favourite film firefights

#6 Unforgiven: What happens to assassins around here

Skip to 2.25 if you are impatient

There is a dark poetry to this scene. There's absolutely no glorification when William Munny follows his victim's advice on the best way to win a gunfight. Indeed I always feel like Munny's deliberate and terrible procession places the audience as WW Beauchamp (the writer), fearful of this new unearthed truth of the nature of violence.

#5 Leon: SWAT raid the apartment

Fast forward to 3.40 if you don't want any character development

What can I say, a classic Luc Besson film. Gary Oldman plays a blinder as the incredulous crooked cop. My favourite moment - the hand that closes the door.

#4 The Matrix: The Lobby

I understand it's fashionable to scoff at the Matrix these days; given the disappointment of the second two films this is understandable - though a mistake. One has to stop to admire the sheer majesty of this gunfight.

17 October, 2012

Top (Film) Firefights: #10, #9, #8, #7

In my 300-post review I promised a top ten of my favourite firefights on film (TV series will have to wait until another time)

#10 The Wild Bunch (Final Shootout)

Peckinpah gave us a completely new way of doing westerns (and firefights) in this film. The opening shootout sets the scene but this one is a masterpiece of mayhem

#9 Appleseed (Opening vs. Droids)

Beautiful stuff and the only anime on the list. The first time I watched it I didn't realise until the end of the scene that I was watching it without subtitles: I just had to rewatch the whole thing from the start

#8 Where Eagles Dare (Stairwell)

Super cheesy stuff from Eastwood who probably sets some kind of killcount record here. Is the twin MP40s too much? Who cares!

#7 Proof of Life (Tecala Rescue)

A nicely executed attack with a small team. Unusually for the list they try stealth at the start. Bonus points for good camouflage and using smoke!

Doubtless you'll have your own ideas, and this is a perfect topic for conversation over a few pints.

10 October, 2012

Battle of Albuera

In April 1811, following news of Masséna's complete withdrawal from Portugal, Wellington sent a powerful Anglo-Portuguese corps commanded by Sir William Beresford to retake the border town of Badajoz. The Allies drove the French from the area, and laid siege to the remainder in Badajoz.

Soult rapidly gathered a new army from the French forces in Andalusia and, joining with the troops retreating before Beresford, he marched to relieve the siege. With intelligence of another approaching force—a Spanish army under General Joaquín Blake—he planned to turn Beresford's flank and interpose his army between the two. However, Soult was acting on outdated information; unknown to the Marshal, the Spaniards had already linked up with the Anglo-Portuguese corps, and his 24,000 troops now faced a combined Allied army 35,000 strong.

The Spanish hold front and centre, backed up by the British, but it will surely be upon the Spaniards that the French hammer blows will land first

Though outnumbering their enemy, the allied force's right flank is heavy threatened by a large concentration of cavalry, backed up by columns of infantry. No one trusts these ill-trained Spanish infantry to hold for long

Hit from all sides, the first Spanish line infantry unit is able to form square, but takes heavy casualties from French light infantry in front of them. The Spanish light cavalry behind manoeuvres to strike

The French cavalry is repulsed! For now...

The Spaniards being a withdrawal under pressure, seeking to gain time for the ill-treated line infantry to be rallied

Just as they do rally, a mass French charge catches them all unawares - unable to form square one unit is wiped out and the Spanish cavalry are driven from the field

In the centre, the Spanish Grenadiers fire at long range into a French unit crossing at the ford, to some effect, but hardly enough given that there are two more battalions advancing behind them

There have been some moves on the Allied left, but hardly enough to get excited about - Albuera screens the weakened French flank from any serious attack by the Portuguese beyond, and the French storm and take the town, driving out the British light infantrymen who occupied it beforehand

The British Heavy Cavalry, who moved surreptitiously behind the ridgeline on the right have charged into the flank of their French counterparts, their attack is unsuccessful (despite two bites at the cherry) and now they are feeling vulnerable

Back at Albuera, a combined attack by the British and Portuguese takes back the town driving the French lights back into the shallow river

French elan is triumphant as their cavalry destroys the Portuguese square and the British heavies. It is time for the allied commander to earn his pay - he has kept up with the French but is now in danger of losing the whole army


A carefully arranged reverse slope defence (I wonder if this will catch on in the remote hilly peninsula...) strikes at the French and appears to catch them with their pants down

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Lead by Blake, the Spanish and British wipe out every French unit unlucky enough to be within range!

The French general gnashes his teeth: from a commanding position at 5-4 he's lost the game with a classic 8-5 comeback. His left flank reserve (including his resplendent Polish lancers are left untouched. He will survive, but he must retreat from Badajoz!

04 October, 2012

Contest #3 - Winner!

Jonathan was the sole entrant to the competition running here for the last few weeks.

I'm really happy to read his post, where he goes to say that Drive By (one of my Road to Basrah game reports) has inspired him to take up Force on Force. Unusually he's taken the brave step of trying it out solo, but hopefully he'll find some opponents soon.

Jonathan has his fingers in a lot of gaming pies - moderns, vikings and sci-fi are some recent posts, but there's a lot more there besides.

So, congrats! Leave a comment with your e-mail (I'll delete as soon as I see it) and I'll contact you to arrange things.

If the rest of you are interested in seeing any more contests here you're going to have to meet me halfway and tell me what kind of competition you would enter...

01 October, 2012

Top Malo

While I have you, today is the last day of my contest celebrating this blog's 300th post. It'd be nice if I could roll a die to determine the winner...

Anyway, here's one from the memory stick > a few weeks back I umpired a game of Force on Force, the Top Malo scenario from the main rulebook.

Cold War Warsaw Pact figures are standing in for the Argentines, but no one will hold it against me surely?

The British force has all-but encircled the house - they'll need to take command of the ridge to force the Argentines out

Encircling the house

The defenders are loaded for bear (so to speak!). Surely it can't be wise to put all of one eggs in such a tempting basket, and having neglected to post sentries they can't fault the fox for trying [too many mixed-metaphors, I plead Guilty as charged!]

Defenders loaded for bear

The British set up a GPMG near the woods and open fire, to some good effect

Opening fire

Their companions who take the ridgeline, have no such luck. They direct an awful lots of firepower into the house, but come off second best to return fire from the uncowed Argentines

Fire support team outgunned

Rupert & co. make to the ridgeline to minister to the fallen.

Command team behind cover

Meanwhile, the other element of the flanking force hare across open ground to take cover behind a small hill

Crossing open ground

The command team take cover as the rest of the fire support group continues to take a fearful punishment. The good news is that the house has started to creak and groan under the amount of hits it's taken

Firefight on the ridge

Indeed, the wrecked house is on fire! The Argentines must get out soon before they are overcome by the smoke

House on fire

The survivors on the ridgeline cut them first evacuation attempt off - gunning down five or more Argentines as they make their way out

Cutting them off

The entire house is ablaze now, but the second team makes it to safety


Despite taking the house, the British have taken serious casualties (1 KIA and 5 seriously wounded) while failing to capture or prevent the escape of the entire Argentine contingent.

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