Sunday, 24 July 2016


This evening I decided to run a linked series of 'Munera Sine Missione' games in order to test out not only the weapon changes but also the adjustments to skills (including two new ones - Veteran and Tactician).

I used the system I outlined in this post in order to determine opponents and how skilled they were. However I made sure that the pool of possible opponents incuded the weapons which needed to be tested. Since these include the two parrying weapons - the scissor and the arbelas - I needed to make sure that my chosen gladiator had a long weapon. To that end I chose Ellenikos, who is armed with a long spear, carries a small shield and wears an enclosed helmet and light armour.

In his very first bout he faced the scissor-wielding Mordax. A wrong move with his spear here could see him deftly disarmed. It happened once, but Ellenikos used the morale-boosting effect of the cheers of the crowd to sidestep and recover it.

In a swift bout he downed Mordax, forcing to appeal to the crowd for mercy. They granted it.

This gave Ellenikos a skill. With the spear being disadvantaged at close range, I chose Attack in order to offset this.

As with the previous campaign, you can assume that a sufficient period of time - weeks at least - has passed between each bout to allow Ellenikos to recover and train.

In his second bout he faced the unskilled retiarius, Cupido. This was a scrappy fight, with both gladiators flailing away at each other with little effect. Cupido was the more inept, though, and his limited armour meant that he was slowly wounded to the point where he had to appeal for mercy. The bored crowd couldn't be bothered and let him live.

Ellenikos didn't get a skill from that bout. In his third bout he faced the barbarian Andromache - unarmoured except for a large shield, and wielding a sword. She had the Defend skill, which offset our hero's Attack.

This fight ranged across the arena, and both gladiators seriously wounded each other. Ellenikos eventually knocked his foe to the ground with his shield, and she was forced to appeal. The crowd thought about it for a bit, but decided she had been entertaining and let her live.

Ellenikos scored a second skill from that bout, and chose Agile, on the grounds that he'd been rolling a lot of ones for AP.

His fourth bout saw him up against the little murmillo, Pugnax. Pugnax was unskilled, and the result was inevitable; Ellenikos outmanoeuvred him and outfought him whilst barely raising a sweat. His armour and shield protected him for a while, but it was soon all over. Badly wounded, Pugnax was forced to appeal, but the crowd weren't interested. he was dispatched.

Again there was no skill from that bout. In his fifth bout the odds finally caught up with Ellenikos, and he ended up facing a gladiator more skilled than he was; the formidable arbelas, Telemonius. This was another gladiator with a parrying weapon, but he was also well-protected with armour.

This was a long fight. Both gladiators ended up seriously wounded, and as it dragged on they became more and more tired.

Sadly I was then called away from the game, but I decided that it would be fair at that stage to call it a draw, assuming that the referee stopped it.

Ellenikos has now survived five bouts, and has both the Attack and Agile skill. For his next skills I will start using the two new ones, Veteran and tactician. In the final bout Telemonius actually had Tactician, but never got a good opportunity to use it; it's a once per game skill, and a suitable opportunity never presented itself.

I will try and continue the campaign tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Gladiator Testing

I've been running a few gladiatorial bouts this evening. MOAB is coming up in October and, once again, we will be running some games of 'Munera Sine Missione' on the Saturday. Over the last year or so Victor and I have been coming up with more tweaks and changes to the rules to make them even better than before, but they need some fine-tuning. I'd like to have a new version of the game available by MOAB, so testing is required.

What will you be seeing? Well, there will be some streamlining of the weapon definitions. Some of them are redundant, and others could do with a rewrite. The end result should see more consistency in how they work, and fewer special cases to remember.

We have also been looking at ways of toning down the effects of two of the criticals, either of which can pretty much end a fight straight away. We think we have a solution now, which balances the need for there to be some form of instant disaster (because it's fun) against games ending abruptly on a single die-roll.

Dirty tricks is another area we are working on. Your gladiators can already work the crowd to gain adulation, which then propels them to greater feats. But we also liked the idea of gladiators who cheat their way to victory, even though it earns the hostility of the mob and risks them being disqualified (or worse) by the referee.

There are a number of smaller tweaks ongoing as well, some of which you'll probably only notice by reading the rules carefully. But trust me, they'll be awesome.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Saga Bridges

We played another four handed game of Saga last night with Anglo-Danes and Normans on one side and Anglo-Danes and Welsh on the other. We played the bridge scenario which involves trying to have more points of your troops on the enemy side of a river than they have on yours. Because of the larger size of this game (two 4pt warbands on each team) we had two bridges, and a tricky ford in the middle.

Most of the pictures will feature my side of the table, where I had the Welsh and faced the Normans. The Normans had a mob of levy archers, who did fearful execution on the doughty Welsh warriors. But eventually Welsh bards taunted their Norman foes into charging across the bridge, where they were met with a hail of arrows froom the Welsh levy bow.

The Normans were forced into rough going in order to attack; a withdrawal would have invited more arrows, so it was the lesser of two evils on their part. The levy held them, and left one survivor. The survivor fled back across the bridge, narrowly avoiding an arrow in the back.

Meanwhile on the other side of the field, two Anglo-Dane warbands faced off. In the foreground is Caesar's, allied with the Welsh. Gary's crosses the bridge in the background. Caesar came off worse in this fight, seemingly unable to move a lot of his troops when needed and stuck with trying to prevent Gary's incursion from gaining a foothold.

Top right you can see Gary's plan in action; a strong force of hearthguard crossed the river, then tucked themselves into a corner away from the main fight, whilst the rest of the warband kept Caesar occupied. The hearthguard were exhausted, but it didn't matter; they were bodies on the victory side of the river, and Caesar couldn't exploit their weakened state.

Meanwhile the Normans, under John P, got their act together and charged across the river, bypassing the levy bow and sweeping into some Welsh warriors. In a brisk fight they caused fearful casualties, although at some loss to themselves.

That lot of horsemen were finally defeated by the Welsh warlord. But he fell to the next wave.

Finally the Norman warlord charged the Welsh levy. They stood no chance against such a mighty warrior, especially with their own warlord dead.

It was pretty much over at that point. Caesar's Anglo-Danes were either dead or immobile ...

... and the Welsh were all dead aside from one small group of hearthguard who sneaked across the ford in the middle to claim a moral, if not actual, victory. Sadly the AngloDane/Norman Alliance could claim a very solid immoral victory. Or amoral. Take your pick.

Caesar forgot his Special Saga Dice, so was very proud of how he used normal six-sided dice instead. One of the issues I have with Saga is the Special Dice, so this was excellent to see. He wanted me to take this photo.

Once again thanks to everyone who provided figures and organisation.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A Great Coat Query

Usually if this blog touches on clothing it is items of a more feminine persuasion. And, let's face it, generally they are much more attractive than bloke things. Bloke things are pretty boring.

However on Saturday I went up to Sydney - to Newtown, specifically - on a shopping expedition. I didn't get what I went for, but I did come away with what appears to be some kind of Italian police or military greatcoat. I won't worry you with a picture of the exact item, because it needs  bit of a clean, but it's similar to this:

I promise to never do a photo of me wearing mine and doing this pose

Mine lacks the stars on the lapels (not worried about that) but, unfortunately, also lacks most of the buttons at the front - four of the six are missing.

What I'm wondering is how easy it would be to source some replacements. However I don't really know precisely what I'm searching for, so I thought that I would turn to my loyal blog readers and see if they can give me a more accurate ID on what I bought. This is what the buttons look like:

Any idea what that insignia is all about? On the back of the button are the words 'FMC, Napoli'. but I think that's just the maker.

If I can't find any replacements then I'll take off the two remaining buttons and just source six suitable buttons; I'd rather have them matching than accurate.

Friday, 8 July 2016


Last night we played that Chain of Command scenario where one side has to take an objective on the other side's baseline. I had the title of it in my head when I got home, but it's totally gone now.

Anyway, here's the table. Caesar and I wee the Germans, attacking from the foreground across fields and hedgerows. The Russians had our objective stashed in those woods right at the far end. Beyond Fortress Village.

The Russians also had an artillery barrage going on the first turn. And in Chain of Command a tur can possibly last most of the game. The effect of the barrage was to make it harder to actually get our troops on  the table. Eventually we managed to deploy some stuff on our left ...

.. and then our right.

Meanwhile the Russians occupied the village with some infantry and a couple of Maxims. The Maxims fire at us. We kept our heads down and fired back. When the Maxim crews ran away, their officers shouted at them and they came back. The Maxims then continued to fire at as. Eventually we ran out of ways of dodging bullets and, having not moved from our start positions (aside from routing), gave up on the attack.

The last time we played this scenario the attackers had it easy because there were too many covered approach routes. This time we probably swung it too far the other way; there was lots of cover, but Russian fire could reach pretty much every point on the table, making any kind of advance extremely risky. The fact that we couldn't get key parts of our force past the Russian barrage didn't help either.

Still, the game was a surprisingly entertaining firefight.

Apologies to Ralph, Bryan, Peter and John T for neglecting to take any pictures of their games. Peter and John played 36AP HOTT using 28mm Middle earth armies, whilst Ralph and Bryan went back to those memorable days in the 1980s when  Russian tanks with too few turrets swept across Germany.
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