Friday, 24 February 2017

Dwarves and Romans

My new Dwarf HOTT army made its club debut last night, fighting Geoff's Retro Romans who apparently hadn't been out of the box since about 1990.

Both armies had a solid core of blades. Geoff added warband, riders and a hero to his; I added a behemoth, knights and some shooters.


A rapid advance in the centre saw the blades actually fight each other in the obligatory long slog.



Action on the flanks would decide who got the edge. But a shoving match developed on the one flank where both armies had their mounted.


My shooters took their flank, whilst in the bad going Geoff gained the advantage. We both set about turning each other's line.


The mounted fight went against me, though, as my impetuous troops were split up by feigned retreats. First the behemoth fell.


Then one of the knights. It was a close game 12AP to 10AP, but Geoff clinched the victory.


The second game was shorter. Geoff went for a later, more eastern army, with cataphracts and more warband. I dropped the knights and behemoth and added artillery, a lurker and a hero. Geoff attacked through a big patch of bad going, and I hit him as he emerged. Unable to use the full strength of his blades or the second rank of his warband, the result was inevitable.


So two good close games for the dwarves, and a victory as well. A good night.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Army Showcase - Mother Of Dragons

A number of people have produced HOTT lists for 'A Song of Ice and Fire' or the 'Game of Thrones' TV series over the years, and why not? It's a very HOTT-friendly setting. One army which grabbed my attention was the one Daenerys Targaryen assembles over time featuring, as it does, mercenary slave-soldiers, steppe horsemen, loyal heroes and, of course, dragons. But it's not an easy army to put together in any scale, needing an eclectic mix of different figures, including specific characters. I'd resigned myself to building it slowly over time, as I found appropriate figures to use, but the other week it clicked - I could print it.

So I wet into Thingiverse and trawled Dutch Mogul's collection of models, looking for appropriate figures, since I knew he did an extensive range of 18mm troops. I downloaded anything I though might be suitable, ran some test prints, rescaled figures where necessary and, after a few days, found I had almost everything I needed. A couple of evenings' printing later, I had the army ready to prep and paint. Yesterday I finished it.

And here it is:


The army is 15mm, of course. The basic list consists of:

1 x Dragon - Daenerys with her three dragons
1 x Hero general - Ser Jorah Mormont or Ser Barristan Selmy
4 x Spears - The Unsullied
2 x Riders - Dothraki
3 x Hordes - Freed saves and pit-fighters
1 x Lurker - More freed slaves

The army I have produced is a kind of middle-ground between the TV series and the books. This list was especially helpful. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the figures with regard to either source; I went with what was available, because I'd rather have something I can play with on the table, than an idea dancing around in my head waiting for the right miniatures to come along.

Here are The Unsullied. My wife thought that they looked good, but could do with more oil on the naked chests.



The Dothraki. I'm not sure really how accurate they are at all, but cavalry figures are hard to come by on Thingiverse and I went with what was available. I added shields to make them more interesting. I haven't painted any designs on them yet, so you're not allowed to see that side of them.


The slaves. I originally went with four hordes, but switched one to a lurker when I realised that the army had no rough terrain capability. The list linked to above has some of the pit-fighters as an optional warband, but I'd have had to have lost another horde for that. I decided that slaves in ambush would give the army some ability in bad terrain. There's a real mix of figures here; it was quite fun assembling the collection and painting them.


The hero element - Ser Jorah Mormont on the right and  Ser Barristan Selmy on the left (or, as they are known in our house, 'Ser Friendzone' and 'The Old Bloke'). Again, I went with what figures were available, and was quite drawn to the heavily armoured knight with the book anyway. I rather like the idea in the Fanaticus list of running one of them as a paladin, if they operate as individual elements, but this element could be a paladin if one of the optional alternative generals is used (see below)


An optional alternative general - Daenerys herself, with Grey Worm and a Dothraki guard. This would be a rider general, and would replace one of the ordinary Dothraki elements. The hero could still remain as such, or could become a paladin.


Not all of the figures were printed. I'd found the ones required for this element at a wargames show last year. The dragons are from the Reaper Bones collection; I needed three small dragons and was thrilled to find that hey did a pack with three small dragons.

You'll notice that Daenerys appears again on this element. If the rider general is not used, then this would be her place. But if the rider general is used, then she can be detached from the base; I drilled a pin into the figure's base which slots into a hole in the rock on which she is standing.



I also made the dragon base in two parts, with Daenerys and the one dragon on one base and the other two dragons on the second. This came after I realised that an aerial hero or a flier is on a base exactly half the dept of that required for a dragon. And two fliers cost the same one dragon. This allows them to be fielded at their smaller, less dangerous, stage. It also allows for a flier general or, if you drop other droops, for Daenerys to ride her dragon as an aerial hero general.


So, I haven't quite achieved my aim of a HOTT army that is entirely 3D-printed, but this is the closest I've come. To tel the truth the resolution of the figures isn't brilliant; think low-quality 1970s stuff, and you'd be close. That's no slur on the designs; they look great as they 18mm figures they are supposed to be. The loss of resolution comes from scaling them down by 3mm and from using a cheap printer. But I was able to produce an unusual army that I wanted in my collection quickly and easily, and that's good enough for me.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

More Dice-Based Initiative for 'Clobberin' Time'

When I posted the rules for switching Clobberin' Time to dice-based initiative the other day, I left out the necessary changes to abilities. I did it deliberately because, frankly, the whole post was already a bit long, and I didn't want to overload you.

So here are my very brief notes on the necessary changes and, as a bonus, a couple of extra abilities.

Ability Changes and Updates for Dice-Based Initiative

Existing Abilities

Adapt - Assign marker to opposing character whenever the character with Adapt is set to ready.

Boost - Only gives the extra dice if the character was activated on a 4 or 5.

Mind Control - If the character has a control marker on them, then the player with the marker can activate them as if they were one of their own characters

Outwit - If you are currently ready, you may declare your activation when an opposing character in range and line of sight declares theirs. You act on their roll instead of them. You may not take the activation of another character with Outwit unless you are a higher level than they are - R

Slow - If the character has been activated, then they may only be returned to ready at the end of a turn.

Quick - If this character is activated, they may be returned to ready on an initiative score of 5 or 6.

Tactics - If the initiative roll is not a double 1 or a double 6, then the side with the character with the highest level in Tactics may choose reroll their initiative die.

Loner - If you win initiative with a 2 or 3, then you must activate a ready character with this trait if one is available. If you have more than one Loner, then determine which one activates at random.

New Abilities

Egotistical - There may only be one Egotistical character on a team. If this side wins initiative with a 6, and has a character with this ability that has been activated, then the roll must be used to return the Egotistical character to ready.

Unlucky - The character is the source of more sub-plots than usual. They are affected by doubles which are less than, equal to or one greater than their level. If one greater, however, the level of the sub-plot is only equal to their level.

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I have played no proper games this weekend so far, but have moved a few figures around just to test out the ideas, and essentially the system works. Nate has tried them out a little more comprehensively, and has posted some reports on his blog. He seems to think the initiative itself work, but that the sub-plots don't. This is OK; the sub-plots were an afterthought anyway, and the system doesn't require them, although I do like the idea of building his extra scenario wrinkles into the game via some mechanism, rather than just as part of the scenario design. Mostly because I'm a lazy scenario designer, and prefer the game to do the work if it can.

In other news, I've been busy painting a new HOTT army this weekend, one I printed a couple of weeks ago. There will be pictures of the completed army in due course, but here's some teasers of it on the printer.




And finally some pictures of figures straight off the printer, some of which have made it into the army, and some of which haven't.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dice-Base Initiative for 'Clobberin' Time'

You know that sometimes you get ideas in your head and they won't go away until you let them run their course? Well, this is one of those times. After having read Nate's reports of his Clobberin' Time games for the Six By Six Challenge I was reminded that I wanted to find a way to change the game so that it didn't use playing cards for initiative. It's not that I have anything against cards, and I think the current system is excellent in many way. But dropping them removes a component from the game, with the only other solution being to switch the whole game to using playing cards (which is worth a thought too).

Anyway I suddenly had an idea to use something based on the initiative system that Peter used in his grid-based 40K games that I tried out last year, with each activation being determined by an opposed D6 roll. Clobberin' Time has a low unit density, so it wouldn't be too arduous or slow the game down any more than the card system does. And I was reminded that during discussion of that system last year I;d considered the idea of using doubles (which are rerolled in the 40K variant) to trigger random events. In Nate's reports I rather enjoyed the way he'd built side-plots into the game, and I thought that there may be a way of building that into Clobberin' Times mechanisms, instead of just making it part of the scenario design.

It all seemed to click together very logically, and what follows is something that I pretty much threw together in a spare hour the other day. I ran a few, very basic, test games just to check that it wasn't too broken, and it seemed OK, but it still needs some work. But I present it for your consideration.

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Dice-Based Initiative for 'Clobberin' Time'

Basics

Characters are either Ready or Activated. (Strictly this is the case under the card-based system, but it's important here, as you will see).

Both sides roll a D6. The player with the highest score has initiative and must activate a ready figure if one is available. The players then make another opposed D6 roll.

If, before rolling for initiative, all characters in play are Activated, then the turn ends and all characters are automatically returned to Ready.

If you win initiative with a ‘6’ then instead of activating a figure you may return a single Activated character to being Ready.

Doubles

On a Double 1, the turn ends immediately, all characters become Ready, and the players test for initiative again.

On a Double 6, the player who didn’t win the previous initiative roll decides who wins.

On any other double:

If both players have characters who are ready, then the player with the lowest total levels of Sub-Plots (see below) decides who wins, with the player who didn’t win the previous initiative roll breaking a tie. 

Otherwise the only side with Ready characters wins the initiative.

A score of Double 1 will trigger, and other doubles may trigger, a Sub-Plot against the last character activated.

The first initiative roll of the game cannot be a double. If it is, then reroll it.

Sub-Plots

These represent events and complications that crop up in the story to distract the characters.

If the initiative score is a double, and the dice score is equal to or less than the level of the last character to activate or be returned to ready, then that character acquires a Sub-Plot.

Sub-Plots remain active until they are resolved. A character may only have one unresolved Sub-Plot; until it is resolved they ignore new ones, unless they are currently affected by a Dark Secret, in which case the new Sub-Plot replaces that one.

Except in the case of a Dark Secret, the level of the Sub-Plot is equal to the dice score. Eg a Level 3 character is activated. The next initiative roll is a Double 2. That character acquires a Level 2 sub-plot.

Roll a D6 to see what the sub-plot is:

1 - Puzzle - Roll 2D6 and add 6. The other player places a puzzle equal to the level of the sub-plot at that distance from the affected character, in any direction. The sub-plot is resolved when the character solves the puzzle. Other characters on the same side cannot attempt to solve the puzzle. Roll a dice to determine the type of puzzle: 1 - Clue, 2 - Science, 3 - Magical, 4-5 - No specific type, 6 - Affected character chooses.

2 - Arch-Enemy - Select an opposing character at random. The level of the Sub-Plot is the number of attacks the affected character must make against that enemy. Attacks must be those that can potentially score damage, and can include those made by other characters if the affected character is either mind-controlling them, or has activated those character via the Leader ability. The sub-plot is resolved when the requisite number of attacks have been made, or if one of the attacks defeats the character. If the arch-enemy is defeated by someone other than the affected character, then remaining attacks are converted to a Puzzle Sub-Plot, placed where the arch-enemy fell.

3 - Great Responsibility - Randomly place the Sub-Plot on a friendly character. Each time the affected character activates, reduce the Sub-Plot level by one. The Sub-Plot is resolved when its level reaches zero. If the friendly character is defeated before the sub-plot is resolved, then it is immediately resolved, but the remaining levels are converted to Self-Doubt on the affected character.

4 - Self-Doubt - This sub-plot is immediately resolved. Place a number of hinder markers on the character equal to the level of the sub-plot.

5 - Loss of Powers - This sub-plot is immediately resolved. Randomly select one of the affected character’s abilities. That ability cannot be used for a number of activations of that character equal to the level of the Sub-Plot.

6 - Dark Secret - The character is marked with a sub-plot equal to their level (not the dice roll). It is not removed or reduced in level, but if the character becomes affected by another sub-plot, then it replaces the Dark Secret. The new sub-plot cannot be lower in level than the Dark Secret. If it is, then its level is increased to that of the Dark Secret it replaces. If the new Sub-Plot is also a Dark Secret, then the level of the Dark Secret is increased by one, and it remains undetermined. Note that this is the only case where a character that has an active sub-plot becomes subject to another.

As descibed above, on an initiative roll that is a Double 2, 3, 4 or 5, total up the remaining unresolved sub-plot levels for both sides. If one side has fewer unresolved sub-plots than the other, then that side automatically chooses who wins the initiative.

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Some of the Sub-Plots are simply designed to designed to hamper or annoy a character. Others can, seemingly, be ignored - Puzzle, for example. However unresolved Sub-Plots put your side at a disadvantage when it comes to resolving initiative ties, so it may not always be to your advantage to ignore that problem. This is a side of things I need to test properly, in order to see if the penalty for ignoring Sub-Plots is pitched at about the right level.

Obviously switching to a dice-based initiative system affects a whole range of abilities which rely on the card-based activation, and I am working through redoing them to fit in with it. One new ability worth mentioning, however is one I have called Quick. This allows a character from be returned to Ready from Activated on a roll or 5 or 6, instead of just 6. What this allows is a practical way of pitting one powerful character against a group of slightly less powerful ones - a master villain vs a team, for example. At present a master-villain is rather hampered by the fact that they can be overwhelmed by the number of actions a group of heroes can throw against them. The Quick ability allows the villain to activate more than once per turn on a more frequent basis than their opponents do. This is the theory, anyway; I've yet to properly test it.

I welcome comments and suggestions.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

One Hour With The Scum Of The Earth

One of the nice things about 'Scum of the Earth' is that it's pitched at around the six unit mark, which seems to make it a perfect set of rules to use for the scenarios in One Hour Wargames. I decided to put that to the test this evening, and played the Control The River scenario using two South American Wars of Liberation forces.

I generated random forces, with a slight fiddle to the tables to limit artillery to one piece maximum. The Royalists got an artillery piece, along with four infantry and some skirmishers. The Patriots had four infantry and four cavalry. I decided I wanted to try out characters and traits as well. The Patriot Llanero cavalry was rated as Fierce, giving them a bonus in close combat, but to offset this, two of their infantry units were classed as Rabble. In addition I gave each side a musician, standard-bearer and sergeant to assign to three different units, allowed two random units on each side to be Steady, allowing them to resist fire better, and made one unit on each side Impetuous, which meant that they advanced towards the enemy if under ineffective fire.

I didn't keep detailed notes; keeping track of the game was work enough. The patriots put their cavalry and a particularly steady infantry unit on once flank, relying on their less useful infantry to take, or contest, the other ford as best they could. The Royalists put the gun and skirmishers on one flank, and massed their infantry on the other. I randomly scattered some additional rough ground around the board, as this style of game really needs more rough than the scenarios usually provide.


On the one flank there was a fierce firefight across the river (impassable except at the fords). The Royalists got the better of it, driving the Patriots back into the woods, and advancing to take the objective. The Patriots made a bold try at a counter-attack, but it never really came off.


On the other flank the cavalry swept over the river, and easily overwhelmed the Royalist gun. But both units came unstuck against a stolid infantry unit that saw both of them off, one by rout and the other by elimination. Cavalry is useful under these rules, but with only three actual figures per unit they are somewhat brittle if things go against them.

The lone Patriot infantry unit on that flank was left fighting alone, which it did with some skill, holding firm against both Royalist musketry and bayonets, and inflicting more hits than it took.


However eventually reinforcements arrived from the other flank, where the Patriots had finally scattered, and the brave soldiers of what you can see was The British Legion, were forced to withdraw.


So, another Royalist victory.

I tried a few rule changes which are under consideration: clarified movement, and a more logical effect for rough terrain, as well as a 6" rout move which kept units in play for a lot longer, and allowed both sides a chance to regroup and reorganise. I didn't feel there were any problems with any of the changes. Keeping track of the abilities wasn't too bad, but I'm not sure I'd want any more in play than I used. I never really got a feel for how artillery worked in the game; the Royalist gun fired one shot before its crew were put to the lance. 

The game played out in eleven turns, which seems to be par for the course in the OHW scenarios. They did seem to be a suitable set of rules for trying the scenarios with; I shall give them another go at some point.

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