Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Pyrates On Mars

I took a few armies to the wargames club on Thursday, but only ended up using one of them (and loaning one in the second game). So I got two of the others out yesterday for a couple of games. One is my Barsoomian Gathol army, and the other is my venerable Pyrates army, probably the oldest HOTT army I still have in use, dating back to the mid 1990s.

The Pyrates defended, although I kind of assumed that they'd invaded Mars and were having their bridgehead attacked. 


The Pyrates consist of a Pyrate Captain (airboat general), six scurvy dogs (warband), two scurvy dogs w'muskets (shooters), a cannon, by the powers! (artillery), some lubbers (horde) and some sharks (lurker). The figures are almost all Peter Pig, aside from the cannon (I can't remember where that came from) and the ship (Irregular Miniatures).


Gathol you've met plenty of times before - three thoat riders (including the general), five blades, two airboats and a flyer. Terrain meant that they were split into three groups.


As Gathol slowly advanced, the Pyrate Captain pushed his ship ahead of his line to break up the advance of the Gatholian foot. He assumed the shooters and cannon would cover his flank from the more numerous Gatholian air-navy. That, and the command issues the Gatholian Jed would have controlling them from the other side of the field.


The flying ship swung into the flank of the enemy infantry, and destroyed an element.


Meanwhile the Gatholian jed led his riders in an attack on the Pyrates' left flank


The Pyrate Captain kept up his attack, but was caught in a draw. This allowed a Gatholian blade to move up on the flank, with inevitable, general-destroying, results.


The final position. Gathol had lost 4AP, and the Pyrates 5AP and their general. So a quick game. 


So quick that I set them up again, with a change of terrain. The Pyrates defended again.


This time the Pyrate Captain was less reckless, advancing with his men rather than ahead of them. Gathol had a poor start with PIPs, and only got to push forward the riders at first.


The Gatholian navy quickly came up in support, as the two lines met in a proper fight.


Dispatching the Gatholian flier, the Pyrate Captain turned his ship onto the enemy flank, destroying one of Gathol's mighty air-vessels as well.


Meanwhile fighting surged back and forth on the ridge, with the Pyrates struggling to dislodge the Gatholian cavalry, but the cavalry unable to break the attackers. Eventually, though, the weight of Pyrate numbers told and an element of riders was destroyed.


The Pyrates pushed forward, and the Gatholian Jed found himself backed up against his own surviving airboat. It proved fatal.

Gathol lost their general and 9AP of troops, whilst the Pyrates lost 2AP.


Friday, 2 December 2022

Double-Sized HOTT

We played a couple of four-handed games of HOTT last night, with each player taking a 24AP army and running it as a 48AP mass-battle.

We kind of threw some terrain together and narrowed the table using rivers (which made for wonky baselines, but that was no big deal). Each of us selected an army, and we split into two teams. Three of us went for knight-heavy armies - Peter went for Crusaders but with a couple of dragons, I went for my Knights of Simba lion-centaurs and Geoff went with the Riders of Rohan. Only Caesar went with a blade-heavy medieval army, supported by a hero/paladin combination.

Here's Caesar and Peter set up, with my Knights of Simba in the foreground to the left and Geoff's Riders of Rohan to the right of them.


The Knights of Simba - six knights and six warband. I had a patch of bad going in my deployment area and split my army up to go around it.


Rohan - six knights, four spears and a hero. They had a clear run at the enemy.


The enemy lined up along a hill and anchored against a village.


Geoff ploughed straight forward into the attack, whilst I struggled to get the PIPs to organise my troops on the other side of the field they'd skirted.


Without my support Geoff's attack was quickly flanked by some of Caesar's evil men-at-arms.


As with any combat involving knights on both sides, the lines soon broke up. Geoff was mostly getting the best of the fight at this stage. And Peter couldn't roll a six to get his dragons on.


Meanwhile I had advanced on the hill, if only to pin Caesar's troops and cover Geoff's flank.


Peter's foot - classed as warband - rushed out of the village and attacked Rohan's spearmen, sweeping may of them away. At this point Geoff killed Peter's general, and teh Crusader army collapsed into demoralisation, with many elements fleeing. Unfortunately those that stayed behind did enough casualties to break the Riders of Rohan as well.


Caesar charged the Knights of Simba ...


The lion-centaurs were scattered and their general killed. This caused the Knights of Simba to go demoralised as well.


Elements started fleeing across the field, and our side's losses were enough to lose us the game. But it was close; had Peter's entire force of Crusaders fled, their army would have broken, despite Caesar not suffering any losses.


We set up a second game. Geoff had to go, but Dave stepped up in his place and took my Ophidians, with their three magicians. I used The Knights of Simba again, Caesar kept his blades and Peter swapped the dragons for an aerial hero.

This time I was quick off the mark with an attack. The aerial hero (an eagle) came in on my flank.


Dave took the Ophidians on a slow flank-march through a wood, so this game was kind of the reverse of the previous one in terms of one flank being delayed whilst the other attacked.


The fighting commenced ...


My general was hit in the rear by the aerial hero and destroyed. Once again his army became demoralised.


I tried to hold the troops together, but Peter and Caesar whittled the survivors down (that -1 for being demoralised is a killer).


My last element was surrounded and destroyed. This broke our army.


A shame, because Dave had finally got the Ophidians in position for an epic flank charge. They didn't lose a thing. Neither did the enemy.


48AP is an odd size for a big HOTT battle. Since you lose the battle at 50% losses this equates to losing one of your two commands, so if a command goes demoralised that's pretty much it. With 72AP you have three commands, so losing one will, on average, only cost you a third of your army - two-thirds of the way to a loss, it's true, but enough to keep you in the game maybe.

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Baby Dragon Bedtime

Baby Dragon Bedtime from Tin Star Games*

To be honest this game wouldn't have got a blog post of its own, but it's the first time I've played it this year, so it counts towards my 52 Games project.

It's a light and fast card-game that my wife bought at MOAB for us to take on holiday and which we managed to no play on holiday at all. The premise is that the players are baby dragons and it's bedtime - kind of obvious really. Like any small animals they don't want to sleep, and instead want to play, and what dragons play at is collecting and hoarding gold.


It's basically a very fast memory game. Most of the cards for the game are spread, face down, between the players. Each player gets a deck of cards containing two Peek cards, two Grab cards and one Flip card. 


There are no turns. Once the game starts, each player flips over the top card of their deck and can choose to follow its instructions, or simply flip the next card. Cards then go on your discard pile. A Peek card enables you to look at a card in the middle, a Flip means you turn it over (or put it face down if it's already face-up) and a Grab card means you can take one card from the middle and put it in your discard pile. When you run out of cards then you flip your discard pile, that becomes your deck and you keep going. Obviously cards you've grabbed will form part of your next deck. You do this at whatever speed you like; the other players will be doing the same. 

Grabbed cards can include more action cards, but can also include Gold or Hoard cards, which are worth VPs. You must try and avoid the Dust Bunny and Chewing Gum cards, though, as they are worth negative VPs


If you think you've got enough gold then you can choose to go to sleep, and you stop playing. When either only player is still awake, or if all of the cards on the table are face-up, the game ends, and you count VPs


It's simple, it's fast and it's stupid. And it's fun. It also plays in about five minutes. We enjoyed it with three. It takes up to seven players, which I imagine would be utter chaos.

So that's another 52 Games entry.

*Previous Tin Star Games products on this blog have been Partners, There's Been A Murder and (of course) Elon Musk's iPod Submarine.

52 Games - Game 66


Sunday, 27 November 2022

The Battle Of McDowell

As promised we played a McDowell scenario on Thursday night, using Black Powder and Ralph's Epic ACW figures (or whatever Warlord call their little plastic figures).

Here's the main focus of the action - Sitlington's Hill. I was a little late turning up, owing to a cat emergency, and missed the first turn, so I'm not sure what the initial starting positions were, but you can see roughly a brigade each fighting it out over the crest of the hill here. In the centre was an objective marker.


The scenario was designed so that the first half of the action would be fought over the hill and then, as the numbers of arriving Confederates steadily increased, the Union would fall back and contest some roads in their rear. The Union had two smallish brigades (which counted as one for break purposes, but not command), whilst the Confederates had (I think) three - one attacking the hill and two arriving by road from the first turn. Here's the bigger picture, with the Confederates arriving in the distance, and a couple of Union regiments on the road opposing them.


A close-up of the two Union regiments on the road.


The Confederates were marching in nice vulnerable columns, and as they came up took a few hits from the Union artillery that I realise that I didn't get a single picture of.


Confederate numbers build up. 


The Union actually did a great job of holding them off. Deciding that the objectives to the rear were too far back to reach within the time-limit, they simply sat tight. They lost the objective on the hill, but did then break the Confederate brigade contesting it (despite the Confederates getting all kinds of rerolls for 'Stonewall' Jackson being there, as well as for simply being Confederate).


The units on the road came close to breaking the first wave of Confederates attacking them. But not quite.


And, as we reached the time-limit, the Union brigade reached its break-point. In terms of VPs for the game, this gave the Confederates two (breaking a Union brigade, and winning one objective) and the Union one (breaking a single Confederate brigade). But it was a close game.


The scores are important because this was a the first in a series of three Jackson In The Valley games, and the VPs for each scenario will be accumulated to give an overall winner. The plan is for one game at the end of a month, but then next two months are basically holidays at that point, so the next one won't be until February.

And this is my first game of Black Powder this year, so ... 52 Games!

52 Games - Game 65

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

McDowell 1862 With Battle Cry

On our club night this week we're going to be trying a refight of the 1862 Battle of McDowell. We've been giving some pre-game reading, but I thought I'd brush up on the battle the fun way by playing it out with Battle Cry since (i) the game is on my table and (ii) there's a scenario in the rules.

The McDowell scenario has a relatively low unit count and is almost entirely infantry; nine Confederate vs seven Union. The Union have one general and an artillery, and the Confederates three generals. The Union have more command cards though. The terrain is scattered woods and hills, with Sitlington's Hill as a central feature. Here's the setup:


The Union started with a bold advance on their right flank, using the hills there as cover.


They quickly dealt with the two Confederate units on that flank, and turned on Sitlington's Hill. The Confederates were bringing up reinforcements to cover the hill.


The Union pressed a series of attacks against the left of the position on the hill, and got quite badly cut up. But they were inflicting decent losses on the Confederates too.


Union troops began to move up in the centre to provide limited support.


And that was enough. Although a lot of teh Union units were heavily depleted, they were still fighting, whilst with the shooting of General Johnston on the hill the Confederates had suffered the necessary losses to give the Union a 5-2 win.


I set it up and played it again. This time the main Union attack came in the centre, with their left coming up in support. One unit pushed up onto Sitlington's hill and into the Confederate rear. But Taliaferro's Confederates moved in from the Confederate rear, and their counter-attack clinched a narrow 5-4 win for the boys in grey.


The final position. With five medals needed to victory the losing side will be looking very thin on the ground by the end.


Anyway, I'm all set for Thursday now.


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