Friday, 9 December 2016

24AP HOTT

Last night we played some games of vanilla, straight out of the book, 24AP HOTT. This is something of a rarity in these days of 36AP or big-battle games, and made a welcome change.

I'd like to say that I took lots of pictures, but I didn't.

I payed a couple of games, in both cases using armies I haven't had out of the box in a while. In my first game I used the Army of Rama, and faced Gary with a force of Dwarves.


Demon-ally chariots and minions of the monkey-king Hanuman held the one flank


I advanced bears and the two hero elements on the other.


The bears attacked ...


... and the Dwarves counter-attacked.


I couldn't marshal enough PIPs to make the bold attack I wanted to on that flank, and Gary was able to bring troops over to reinforce it. It became the main battle. The bears fell, as did Hanuman.


On the other flank, Hanuman's monkeys surrounded and killed the Dwarves' hero. But it was too little, too late. I was left trying to take down the Dwarves' giant ally using knights and warband, and we all know how that ends.


I face Dwarves again in the second game, a different army run by Geoff. I used my Peter Pig Garden Gnomes, which have some claim to being my first ever HOTT army.


A big fight developed over a hill in the centre.


Meanwhile dwarven cavalry tried to turn my left flank. The Garden Gnomes are a small army, in more ways than one, and were stretched to cover the width of the board. A single behemoth and a magician did what they could to cover this move.


I nearly ended very badly. The Gnomes lost the magician, and also lost their other behemoth. But a flanking move by their stone-throwing shooters on the other flank helped even the game up a little. The final result was very close indeed, but a Gnome behemoth rolled over some Dwarf cavalry to clinch the final victory.


Dave, Geoff and Gary played some games between them that I didn't get pictures of, using my medieval Ceidonians and heroic Malians.

Gary and I also talked about possibly running a simple, mapless Hott campaign one Sunday, using this system, which could be fun.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Disappearing Clone

Back in February I posted THIS in which I pondered on the existence of a clone of this blog.

At the time I wasn't sure why the clone even existed, but further research showed that such sites are set up in order to gather hits and a solid Google presence, before being converted to other purposes or used for advertising. However I stifled my clone by reporting hundreds of possible links on the site for breach of copyright. And that's what it took; merely reporting the top level domain to Google wasn't enough; I had to pretty much report each post, each tag search and each date range individually. But as I did so the site's presence in Google (and it only seemed to be in Google) grew less and less until basically it disappeared from searches. It still existed, because I'd check every so often, but unless you went looking for it specifically you'd never find it.

Now I see that the link just goes to a domain name registration page; the content has disappeared. I have some slight reservations about claiming the death of my clone; it does say that the domain has been recently registered, so it could be that the individual responsible is going to have another try. But I hope that my fears are unfounded and that a search for my content on Google will return a link to this blog, and not an evil copy.

If you have a blog it's worth googling for your own content from time to time, especially via an image search, just to see if you have acquired a parasite.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Last Stand - First Time

Last night we gave Last Stand a playtest. Last Stand is a set of fantasy mass-battle rules which are being developed by one of our club members. They are designed to give an element-based DBM-sized battle, and whilst they owe their roots to the DBA/M system, they are different in many, many ways.

One person had played them before, whilst the other three of us hadn't even read them. Dave adjudicated, mostly from memory.

The game was a massive nostalgia-fest. Dave had set up a Middle Earth battle, and the figures were a wonderful mix of 25mm wonders from days gone by. Some of them were reckoned to be more than forty years old.

Pig-faced orcs!


And look at these minimalist ents.


Anyway, have fun looking through the pictures if you are into vintage miniatures.

As for the game, both sides spent the early stages wondering just what we were supposed to be doing. Last Stand is very detailed. It is, on the surface at least, quite complicated. It uses a whole range of mechanisms - different coloured dice drawn from a bag, a combat chart which looks like snakes and ladders designed by a sadist, a PIP system for movement, combat and rallying, multiple hits on elements and random events. There's no denying that this is a comprehensive game, but it's not an easy one to learn and, on a first play, ot an obvious one to get your head around just what you are supposed to do.




So here we were, set up and ready to go.


Unsure of how to initiate anything more complicated, Geoff and I (playing the Forces of Evil) just attacked. In the centre this went badly, with our Orc hordes hitting disciplined High Elf soldiers, and being repulsed along the line. It went pretty much as it would have done in HOTT.


We couldn't win there, even with dog-faced kobolds in our army.


It all looked spectacular.


Slowly we started to get an idea of how you managed attacks and supports, and from time to time all players were putting together moves which actually resembled the plan behind them.


After the first hour I stopped taking pictures, because it was hard enough trying to work out what we were doing, without trying to document it as well. The gist of the game was this. We attacked with our Forces of Evil in the centre, and it didn't go well. So the survivors just hung on grimly, and we attacked on the flanks instead. On our left, Saruman's Hillmen charged the Lakemen and in a spectacular round of combats and pursuits drove them back almost to their baseline before being halted by some dwarves. The Uruk Hai followed up to attempt to finish the job.

On the other flank, more orcs attack some wood elves and their Ent allies. We had some big monsters on that flank, and they smashed through the enemy line, with the breakthrough being supported by their Black Rider commander. The wood elves broke.

The Forces of God weren't idle. Both of our attacks had left our flank forces broken up, and they were quick to swing in reserves to exploit this. A disciplined line of Elven spears wheeled into the flank of the Uruk Hai, led by Gandalf himself. I managed to pull the half-orcs into a proper line in response, but it wasn't looking good.

So I threw Saruman into combat.

He defeated the spear-line opposing him, and broke through it. He attacked Gandalf.

He killed Gandalf.

A series of cascading morale tests on that flank saw the entire Good command rout and flee off the table.

This broke the army.


Evil triumphed.

It's very hard to judge a game on the first play. Last Stand is a fantastic labour of love, and when it's released into the wild for testing you'll see that it has one of the most outstanding sets of fantasy army lists I've ever seen, drawing from sources that I was not even aware of. But all of us felt that it could probaby do with streamlining in a few places. Difficult to see where, though, without radically changing some of the interlinked mechanisms.

One to keep your eye on.

And would we play it again? Dave admitted that what we played was a pretty large game, and was quite ambitious for novice players. I'd possibly be interested in a smaller battle with fewer troop-types, so that we could get a better feel for the interactions.

I want to play a big-battle HOTT game with those figures though.

I was so busy that I didn't get any pictures of the Team Yankee game, or even Gary and Peter's amazing Might and Reason battle. Peter took a couple though:



Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Neil Thomas Pike and Shot

Ever since I bought Neil Thomas's 'Wargaming: An Introduction', I've been keen to try out the Pike and Shot rules and see how they compare to my own dubious attempts to put together English Civil War games. I've read mixed reviews of these rules on the 'net, but wanted to see how they played out. So this evening I sorted out two basic armies and gave them a go.

The Royalists had:

2 x Average Foot (3 Pike with light armour, 3 Shot with light armour)
1 x Elite Foot (3 Pike with medium armour, 3 Shot with light armour)
2 x Average Chevaliers (4 bases with light armour)
2 x Elite Chevaliers (4 bases with medium armour)
1 x Artillery

Their Parliamentarian opponents had:

3 x Average Foot (2 Pike with medium armour, 4 Shot with light armour)
1 x Elite Foot (2 x Pike with medium armour, 4 Shot with light armour)
3 x Levy Reiters (4 bases with medium armour)
1 x Artillery

I selected a few terrain pieces - two hills and some fields, then randomly placed them on a board, then randomly diced for sides and first move. This would be a straight encounter battle.

As you know, my ECW forces are paper figures with units on single bases, whereas the rules assume units made up of four or six bases. To track hits (actual bases lost) I drew up a roster for each side, but used small stones to mark the casualties scored.

Here are the forces of Parliament arrayed for battle.


And the Royalists.


I allowed the artillery to move at Pike speed. Deploying it used a whole movement, and once deployed it couldn't be moved again.

Parliament was strong in firepower, whereas the Royalists were better in melee, an edge offset a little by Parliament's better armour. But a bold push forward seemed to be the Royalist's best plan.


Royalist horse crested a hill, and came under pistol fire.


They charged.

I rather liked the initial stages of cavalry combat, with the Reiters being able to shoot properly and the Chevaliers being limited to using their pistols at the moment of contact. It forced an aggressive tactical doctrine on the Royalists.


The cavalry action expanded as more units joined in.


The infantry advanced. With cavalry in action near their flanks the Parliamentarians held their ground, but the Royalists were keen to close.


A unit of Parliamentarian horse broke, and the Royalists pursued.


The artillery was now in action as well.


The Royalist cavalry now turned onto the flank of the Parliamentarian infantry.


However the Royalists weren't having it all their own way; one unit of Parliamentarian cavalry was holding its own against and elite opponent.


The infantry melee in the centre became general. The Royalists had taken some shots as they advanced, but were still in good shape. Now pikes and armour would decide the day.


But with Royalist horse on their flank, the Parliamentarian foot needed to win quickly.


The Royalist artillery was lost to its Parliamentarian opposite number.


The push of pike in the centre was a long, hard slog for both sides, but with the flank advantage it was rapidly turning the Royalists' way.


And, indeed, they rolled up the last of the Parliamentarian foot on the same turn as their horse overran the artillery. The Royalists scored a fairly decisive victory, losing just their artillery and a unit of horse.


I rather enjoyed these rules, despite the oddities of how the mixed pike and shot units took casualties.

Of course they had the usual Neil Thomas issues. Basics such as how units turn, or how a flank attack is defined are left to experience or imagination. And they are delightfully random as well, but I rather like that in a game, especially when I'm playing solo. But if I persist with playing them then I will deal with the issues as I go along. For playing ECW games there's something to be said for writing out the rules to exclude weapons and troops not really in use, although I found that after a few turns I could remember most of the rules and factors anyway.

As I have stated before, this is not an era about which I have any kind of expertise, but I felt that I'd had a fun game, and that there was some good in these rules.

Monday, 28 November 2016

The Second Battle of Moytura

The Second Battle of Moytura is an epic struggle chronicled in the Irish mythological cycle, 'The Book of Invasions'. 'The Book of Invasions' purports to give a history of the various peoples that settled Ireland, their heroes and gods and their conflicts with each other. The battle was fought between the Tuatha De Danaan and what seem to be the villains of the cycle, the Formorians. 

I put together a couple of HOTT lists for the battle many years ago:

Tuatha De Danaan

1
Hero General @ 4AP
(Lugh Long-Arm in chariot)
4
1
Hero @ 4AP
(Nuada Silver-Hand in chariot)
4
1
Magician @ 4AP
(Sorcerors, witches, druids and satirists)
4
2
Knights @ 2AP
(Lesser heroes, such as Ogma in chariots)
4
2
Blades @ 2AP
(Lesser heroes on foot)
4
4
Hordes @ 1AP
(Other warriors)
4
Options: Behemoth @ 4AP (The Dagda)

The Tuatha De Danaan had more heroes in their army than can be adequately represented by a 24AP HOTT army. Lugh is classed as the general, as although not the king he seemed to inspire the army in battle. Nuada Silver-Hand was the king, so is included as the other Hero, although other named characters could be substituted instead. The Tuatha De Danaan made much use of offensive magic to disrupt the Formorian army, so include a Magician element. The ordinary warriors are classed as Hordes, as part of the De Danaan victory was attributed to the work of Diancecht, Credne and others in repairing weapons and healing the wounded. Thus, their warriors were able to return to the fray.
The Dagda perfromed prodigious feats, many of which were associated with his tremendous size. He may be included as a Behemoth if desired.

Formorians

1
Magician General @ 4AP
(Balor)
4
2
Blades @ 2AP
(Formorian Heroes on foot)
4
6
Spears @ 2AP
(Formorian Warriors)
12
2
Warbands @ 2AP
(Islemen Mercenaries)
4
Options: Riders @ 2AP (Scythians), Hero @ 4AP (Bres)

The Formorian warriors are classified as Spears, rather than Warband or Hordes, as at one stage attacking their army is described as like hitting one's head against a cliff. Spears gives the army this 'immovable object' characteristic that other troop types lack. None of the Formorian heroes seem to have shone in this battle, indeed few are mentioned apart from Bres, so they are relegated to Blades. Bres may be upgraded as an option, but there is no mention of any battlefield prowess on his part in the account of the battle. There appears to be no reference to Formorian chariots, so none have been included. Balor led the Formorian army, and is described as having a single eye, the gaze of which could slay whole armies. The lid was so heavy that four men were needed to open it, using a pulley and handle system. He slew Nuada Silver-Hand with this eye, but was killed by Lugh with a sling-shot.


The Formorians marched with mercenaries from the Isles and beyond. These wilder, less civilised folk are classed as Warband. The account also mentions Skythians, so these are included as an option.

I put together the Tuatha De Danaan force as well, although experience in playing it over the years suggested that the Lesser Heroes were best represented by Warband rather than Blades, and that's how I run them now.

I took the Tuatha De Danaan away on my camping trip this weekend, along with a few other HOTT armies. When setting up a game for them I realised that I had the necessary bits to actually try a game based on the battle. For the Formorians I took a lot of artistic licence and used my Fishmen. The myths suggested they were monsters in some parts, so it wasn't too much of a stretch. For the Islemen mercenaries I used some of my wilder-looking Elves. Cthulhu stood in for the Formorian leader, Balor of the Evil Eye. In the above list he is a Magician, but these days I would be inclined to run him as a Behemoth instead  In fact I even considered Artillery.

So here are the Formorians: a Behemoth general, six Spears, two Blades and two Warband.


And the Tuatha De Danaan: Hero general, a Hero, two Warband, two Knights, one Magician and four Hordes.


The Tuatha De Danaan defended, and I ended up with the following terrain.


Opening moves; the armies advanced towards each other, Both forces had the generals out on a flank, and effectively opposing each other. As the lines closed there was some shuffling of troops, with the De Danaan Knights trying to avoid being matched against the Behemoth Balor. In the background the Islemen closed with the De Danaan lesser heroes.


And that was the first contact; Warband against Warband. For several bounds it was a shoving match, until the Islemen scored a 6-1 combat result and wiped out their foes.


On the other flank the De Danaan troops solved the problem of Balor by committing their Magicians to the fight.


Nuada of the Silver Hand swept out in his chariot to engage the Islemen.


Meanwhile Lugh led the De Danaan heroes in an attack on Balor and the Formorian heroes ...


... with mixed results. Balor fled, but so did one base of chariots.


The Islemen were out for blood, driving Nuada into some woods where the advantage of his chariot was nullified.


Balor returned to the fray.


Nuada died amongst the trees, and the Islemen charged towards the De Danaan stronghold.


Meanwhile the bulk of the Formorian army was advancing on the hill defended by De Danaan's warriors.


The Islemen attacked teh stronghold, but failed to take it.


The Formorian and De Danaan lines met ...


... but the hill was insufficient advantage and the De Danaan warriors were scattered, breaking the army.


A victory for Balor!


The armies seemed to match up nicely, and I enjoyed the game a lot. The Tuatha De Danaan had quite  run of bad luck; some 6-1 combats and low PIPs meant that they were on the back-foot for a lot of the game, trying to find an opening. But it could have so easily gone the other way.
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