Saturday, 25 April 2015

Making Armies For DBA 3.0

Over the years I have accumulated a lot of 6mm ancients figures. I have notes of the, painted and unpainted, many of them from the days when I played WRG 7th Edition and early incarnations of DBM. They are a mix of early Dark Ages armies, and various enemies of the Early Imperial Roman list, plus the Romans themselves. Since those days I have rebased them for DBA 2.0, but never got too far with that, and also HOTT, which gave me many neat little games if you could live with some of the troop classification issues.

Now we're enjoying DBA 3.0 I though I'd look at putting together proper armies for it. As it is I can field a umber of armies straight out of the box, but what I wanted to look at was all of the options. And they are considerable. Whilst a DBA army consists of twelve elements, if you want all of the options in a typical army you need a few more than that. This isn't true in all cases - my Early Saxons have no options at all. But some armies offer a fair bit of choice. So I picked three today, looked at what I had and set about finding figures to do as many options as were feasible.

First up we have the Parthians. This is one with a lot of options, because whilst you not only have choice as to how you mix the light horse and the cataphracts, there are various infantry options you can go for as well. To be able to field any legal Parthian army you actually need 23 elements. I decided to skip the regular auxilia for now (as I couldn't find any suitable figures, although I have some ideas), and just went for this:


A lot of my very old elements are based on very thin card indeed, so can be chopped up for glueing to the mounting board I normally use. This is why there are blobs of green on white bases. As part of this exercise I will tidy up the bases for each army.

Here are the cataphracts. I had to create one more element of these solid monsters, and it'll need a short session on the painting table to bring it into line with the others.


A few elements will need some paint work, but not too many.

Here are the horse archers. They are pretty much good to go aside from the bases.


Parthian infantry. I'll do some painting to make them look more consistent, and the bows need a bit of work since I co-opted them from another army entirely.


The second army to get my attention is the Early Imperial Romans. Here's almost everything you need. The only elements I haven't done are the light camelry (I don't have the figures), one element of gladiators (which seemed a fairly specific option) and the lance-armed cavalry, which I have but need major repairs beyond the scope of this exercise.


The legionarii are all good to go. Behind them are some barbarian auxiliaries, and to their side some slingers. As with the Parthians everything will get consistent bases.


Roman cavalry.


Auxiliary infantry. All told, to field all options in an Early Imperial Roman army you need 22 elements. I have 19.


Finally here are the Meroitic Kushites, the only DBM Book 1 army I have, and a legitimate opponent for the Romans.


Lots of spears. Two of these elements will be 'converted' into the blades the army needs; the conversion will mostly be via a different paint-job.


The Kushites get the option of fast bow and solid bow in DBA 3.0, so I have made some close-order elements.


The elephants and cavalry are good to go, aside from the bases, although I may tart up the general's elephant a little. Four elephants on one element looks nice, I think you'll agree.


All of the elements are now organised, and the basics of the bases is next, I think.

Friday, 24 April 2015

More DBA 3.0

Our group is continuing to embrace DBA 3.0, and played a couple more games last night. I would have been up for more than the one I played in, but had been up since 4am and wasn't really thinking straight by the evening.

Caesar and I started the ball rolling by pitting Strathclyde British against Picts. I took the Picts in the foreground, and ended up with no bad going to hide in - just some fields which decided not to be muddy. This is the first time I have ever used Pikes, in DBA or DBM. It showed.


I also thought I was playing HOTT and deployed my Cavalry general behind troops that, in HOTT, he could interpenetrate, but which in DBA just got in his way.


Caesar rose to the occasion, deploying his numerous Spears in the bad going in such a way that he would be unlikely to disentangle them before my troops were upon him.


He massed his cavalry, including the general, on his left flank.


The cavalry attacked a hill on my right on which my vulnerable light infantry were deployed. I brought over some Pikes to help


I even switched my light cavalry from the left.


Of course this gave Caesar time to form up his spears in the centre. There was a bit of a shoving match.


Overviews of the battle. Neither of us seemed able to convert position into kills.


My light infantry even held out on the hill ...


... before surrounding the Strathclyde general and slaying him.



But that was it. Bolstered by my success I tried the same trick on some more cavalry, which didn't die and instead killed all my light infantry. One more element fell elsewhere and the Picts broke. A silly mistake on my part; did I say I'd been up since 4am?

Caesar and Peter the pitted War of the Roses English against some French. This battlefield featured lots of fields ...


... and they turned into a right old bog. This gave the artillery something to hide behind.


I didn't follow the game closely - I was looking stuff up in the rules - but Caesar's English eventually whittled the French down to give them a victory fit for what was, in fact, St George's Day. Hurrah!


We're really liking DBA 3.0. The interactions and fast movement are taking some getting used to, but we're getting there slowly. Not having to unlearn DBA 2.0 helps - most of us found it dull and never played it - but we're fairly well-versed in HOTT and have trouble with the differences there. None of us are as young as we used to be.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Treasure Hunt - A Battlesworn Scenario

This is the scenario for Battlesworn which we played on Thursday evening.

Use a square board. Place three cairns, statues or similar line-of-sight blocking objects along the centre-line - one in the centre and two on each side equidistant between the centre and the edge. These hold the treasure.

Set up terrain in any way you wish, but it must not be possible to cross from one side of the board to the other in a singe move. In addition it must not be possible for either player to reach a cairn from their base edge in a single move.

Here's the terrain we used:


The cairns are marked with orange counters, which represents the treasure they contain. There is one item of treasure per cairn. As you can see, the one can only be approached by skirting some ruins, one is on a two-level hill (we dropped it to a single level in the second game) and one is on the middle of a wood, entering or leaving which counts as a change in terrain.

A figure in base contact with a cairn, and not in melee, may use an action or a reaction to search it. They roll 4D6 - if any of them score a '6' the they have recovered the treasure. If two sides search as part of the same initiative - via an action and a reaction - they both roll 4D6. The side which score the most sixes finds the treasure first. If they score the same neither finds it.

Any figure can carry treasure. If they are killed then it is placed on the board where they fell and another figure may spend an action or reaction to pick it up. A figure may also spend an action or reaction to take an item of treasure off a friendly figure they are in base contact with, so long as nether is in melee.

If a figure reaches their friendly baseline then they may spend an action or reaction to 'bank' it. It now belongs to your side.

The game runs for an agreed number of turns. We played at least 12, but with a random game end after that, but you could fix it a 15.

A side wins if:


  1. They get two items of treasure off the board, regardless of losses.
  2. The other side has more dead figures than live ones at any point (as per the normal rules)
  3. If, at the end of the game, they have killed more enemy figures than they themselves have lost. Treasure which has been banked counts as two enemy figures killed for these purposes.


Killing the enemy warband is, of course, a viable strategy, but if they concentrate on treasure hunting before you inflict sufficient losses they can win that way. The third victory condition covers a game which times out, and rewards a player who has concentrated o collecting treasure in an otherwise even fight.

I don't know how badly Flyers or Cavalry would break this scenario, unless you set some specific terrain restrictions. But it worked fine with the warbands we used.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Return Of Battlesworn

Last night John and I dragged Battlesworn out of the archives. We played it a few times when it was first published, but it's been tucked away at the back of the games cupboard since then and we've bee playing other stuff. But we enjoyed the games we did play, and John was keen to try it again, so out it came.

Battlesworn is a two-player fantasy skirmish game. Although dice are rolled to determine hits in combat, the rest of the game is based around bidding and bluffing your opponent. This covers initiative, with both players bidding to see who gets to move and fight and who gets to react to their actions, and also combat where the bids determine how many dice a player rolls, allowing fast weak attacks against slower more deadly ones. It's a clever system with some quite interesting subtleties. A force is made up of twelve 'slots' of troops, with each slot being spent on one of a number of simple, generic classes in a similar manner to HOTT. Some figures are allowed to have multiple classes

I threw together a quick scenario during the day; each side was looking to search three cairns towards the centre of the board, looking for treasure. Victory went to the side that could get two of the three pieces of treasure off their side of the board before the end of the game. If time ran out then victory would be assessed on kills, with a bonus for treasure retrieved.

I brought along a few warbands, mostly based around my GW Middle Earth figure collection. In the first game I took Elves, whilst John played the Moria Goblins. We skipped magic as we didn't quite feel up to the extra complexity.

Here's the board set up. Movement in Battlesworn in infinite, as are shooting ranges, but the former stops at any change of terrain and the latter can have the line of fire blocked. As you can imagine, having plenty of terrain is important. We had plenty. The Elves are in the foreground and the Goblins in the distance. They have a cave-troll.


I pushed some elves forward as quickly as possible to search the cairns in the centre and on my right. I found the treasure almost immediately.


Whilst I was searching, though, John moved goblins around to block my run for home, whilst the troll watched. On the hill my elven warrior found himself in a bit of trouble.


Amazingly he defeated both of his opponents, but not without taking serious wounds (the red counter). This made him an easy kill for the troll.


I was a bit erratic about taking photos in the first game, mostly as we were trying to remember how to play. However I found all three items of treasure and, whilst I lost the one in the middle to the troll I got the others off the board just as the time ran out to win the fight.

In the second game John carried on with the goblins, whilst I took the Uruk Hai. I pushed my crossbows forward to try and dominate the centre of the board with shooting. They immediately came under fire from sneaky goblin archers in the ruins.


On the other side of the board Uruk Hai warriors advanced on the cairn there whilst goblins rushed over from the other side.


We simplified the terrain a little for the second game, which made the game flow more smoothly.


Goblin archers in the woods came under attack from the Uruk Hai berserker, One was sliced in half by a single mighty blow.


Meanwhile, whilst one of my warriors searched the cairn the other found himself facing a troll. On his own. He didn't last long either.


The stage was set for an epic fight in the centre - berserker vs cave troll!


They hacked each other around for a couple of turns, but it was the Uruk Hai which triumphed.


Again I stopped taking photos at this point. This second game was a more fluid one, with the Uruk Hai having trouble finding the treasure and the goblins finding it but having trouble getting it away from the cairns. Eventually the game ended and the Uruk Hai won on kills.

Both games played fairly smoothly, although we still found that we had to house-rule a few things; the rules aren't totally clear on how some of the reactions work. For example we decided that all reaction moves take place after the player with initiative has finished, to prevent issues we were having with who went first. It probably prevents some clever tactical play but offset against this is consistency and ease of use, and I think that's important for any game which is designed to move quickly and smoothly. As before we found that the effects of terrain need to be tightly defined from the start, and that the rules assume you're going to do this for yourself on an individual, game by game, basis.

Caesar and Gary indulged in some ancients again - Romans vs Germans (depicted below) and a second game featuring Sassanids vs Sarmatians.


Going back to Battlesworn, these are the warbands we used:

Moria Goblins

4 x Fighters (Goblins with hand-weapons)
4 x Shooters (Goblins with bow)
2 x Rogues (Lightly-armed goblins)
1 x Brute/Tank (Cave-Troll)

(I had two extra lightly-armed goblins allowing for the possibility of replacing the two Rogues with four Rabble)

Elves

4 x Fighters (Elves with two-handed swords)
6 x Shooters (Elven archers)
1 x Brute/Leader (Elrond)

(I managed to forget to use Elrond's Leader ability for the whole game. When we feel confident about magic I'd run Elrond as a Leader/Warmage)

Uruk Hai

4 x Fighters (Uruk Hai with pikes)
4 x Brutes (Uruk Hai with sword and shield)
2 x Arquebusiers (Uruk Hai with crossbows)
1 x Brute/Tank (Berserker)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

When Monsters Fight ...

... they get victory points.

I've been playing some more games to try out my victory point system for 'Giant Monster Rampage'. Here's a few shots of one of them, featuring Godzilla and Gyaos as Attackers, Gamera as a Neutral Defender and Kiryu as an Active Defender. This game was important because it marked the first tie - ever - that Kiryu managed to recharge its limited use freeze ray and get a second shot.

Godzilla faced Kiryu again. Based on a suggestion by the author of the rules as to a possible stratagem for attackers, Godzilla went on an all-out attack against Kiryu, whilst causing as much collateral damage to the city as possible. the two monsters beat each other up to within a couple of wounds of defeat.


Meanwhile Gyaos destroyed property (or at least damaged it) whilst using his agility to evade Gamera.


Kiryu almost took Godzilla down, but was defeated first. But Godzilla was totting up a good score, and Gyaos would be hard-pressed to keep pace. So Gyaos attacked Godzilla - if he could be knocked out Gyaos could then concentrate on building his own score with only the easily evaded Gamera to worry about.


But, in fact, it was Gamera took down Godzilla. The King of the Monsters was on his last wound, and Gamera nipped in and ended his reign with a bolt of fire-breath. As a Neutral Defender, Gamera gets a bonus for scoring a KO on an attacker.


Gamera and Gyaos fought and chased each other ineffectually for the rest of the game, scoring a few points for wounds and buildings respectively. This pushed them slightly ahead of Godzilla. Had Kiryu scored the knockout blow it would have won, despite being the first monster to be defeated. Godzilla's score from destruction at that point was already considerable. As it was, Kiryu came last.


The system isn't perfect, but it does allow the monsters to adopt the 'correct' roles, whilst still forcing them to compete with each other. What I haven't tried yet is running pairs or teams of monsters, who add their scores together.
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