Monday 22 April 2024

Lion Rampant At Shirecon

Yesterday was the annual Lion Rampant tournament at Shirecon, and a contingent from Wollongong headed up to the big city to take part. 

Actually we made up half of the ten players.

I took the Dwarf army I'd used a couple of weeks ago - 2 x Crossbows with Pavise and 2 x Elite Foot (including the leader, who had Strongbow and Vulnerable)

There were five tables and each one was set up with a particular scenario. The tournament was four games, so we'd each play four of the five scenarios. Once at a table the players diced for attacker/defender. Each scenario was lifted straight from the book, and the Glory scored counted for the player's total at the end of the day. However this year players could also select boasts, so even if you lost a scenario and scored no Glory there, you could pick up points for successful boasts. And, indeed, this could be worth more than the Glory for the scenario.

Obviously the good players would win a scenario and pick up more Glory through boasts as well, to get the really big points.

My first game was against new player Justin, assisted by his young son Aurelian. We played Meet The Neighbours, in which both sides are marching along a corner-to-corner road towards each other with the aim of getting off teh table on the opposite corner to that which we entered. So the inevitable fight in the middle is really incidental; the aim is to get as much of your force past the enemy and exit the board before they do, as the scenario ends once one side has no troops left on the table.

Justin was using Arthur's Briton's, with three units of mounted troops. However a wide sweep with the mounted was tricky because of some cunningly positioned woods. That being the case, Justin still went for it.

My army was a slow one, so I knew I couldn't fight my way through his troops before the mounted went round the sides, so I settled down as a blocking force, accepting that I would just score points for boasts and not seriously attempt to get stuff off the board. All I then had to do was stop Justin getting anything off as well.

I got my crossbows into decent positions to cover as much of the board as possible, and shoot up any cavalry trying to escape. Arthur's elite cavalry came straight down the middle, and I pushed forward some of my elite foot to force him into an impetuous charge before he could choose to charge the crossbowmen.

They lost badly and retreated, but were able to charge the crossbowmen a turn or so later. But by then I'd had a chance to shoot them up, as well as the supporting heavy cavalry.

Arthur was soon on his own ...

... then charged and killed.

The Britons collapsed fairly steadily after that. But one cavalry unit did get around the other flank, and we ended the game in a race for the exit corners, as his cavalry had to pass through woods and I reasoned that I could get something off the board if he failed activations and I didn't. As it was his cavalry was his sole surviving unit and exited, ending the game.

Technically Justin won the scenario. But he lost the Glory for doing so because he failed both of his selected Boasts. Meanwhile I completed all of mine for 8 Glory. So it was an 8-0 win to me; the Britons won the battle but the bards sang of the Dwarves.

My second game was Sausages With Mustard, playing against Victor's Saxons (who had some Pictish chariots as allies). He was trying to burn four huts in the centre of teh table. I was trying to stop him. The game would end when all four were burning or if the attacker suffered half casualties.

The defender is allowed to set up a low points unit near the huts at the start. I didn't have one, so would have to march in all of my force as reinforcements. And Victor's troops were a lot faster than mine.

I'd barely sighted the village before two of the huts were burning.

But the two closer to my forces would be harder as I quickly got my crossbows into position.

A horde of screaming Saxons tore through the woods on my right, aiming for the crossbow unit there. My leader brought his elite foot in to stop them, driving them back.

Saxon cavalry charged the crossbows, who held firm.

And my leader popped out of the woods and finished them off.

On the other flank the crossbows did very little; the elite foot did all of the work. They saw off the chariots, and then went after some skirmishers in the woods. The skirmishers failed to evade, lost the combat, retreated and failed their rally roll, running away. that took Victor down to half strength. My elite foot failed the post melee moral-check though, and went battered, which coast me a boast.

The second game was a draw. We both picked up 4 Glory for huts (two burning for Victor and two not burning for me), and very little for boasts as we both managed some but not others. I think the score was 5-4 to me.

So at lunchtime I'd had two wins, but I knew other players had much higher scores than I.

My third game was Defending The Indefensible and I was fighting against Caesar. In this scenario one side must defend a fragile immobile object in the middle of the table. The attacker simply has to contact it with a unit. As with the previous scenario the defender - which turned out to be me - got a unit in the middle of the table defending the objective and then had to march the rest of their force from their deployment area.

Caesar had decided to g big or go home with his army choice this year - he had a force of Vikings consisting of four groups of warrior foot in armour. That was it. It was any army that would simply charge and then fight until it fell apart. 

Here's a very lonely group of Dwarven crossbows wondering if they can take out four enemy units in two turns.

The Vikings approach ...

Some shooting held off the lead units, and fortunately my reinforcements weren't far behind. My defenders had been attacked, though, and had fallen back around the objective.

However Caesar had boasts he wanted to fulfill, so held off on taking the objective. Obviously this mean that I had more time to break his force; I only had to take out two of his units and the scenario would end. My leader got stuck in to a Viking mob.

Most of Caesar's units had taken two or three casualties by now, so could possibly fall back given a morale test. So I challenged his leader to single combat.

I lost.

The cascading morale cause half of my force to retreat or run away instead.

Caesar rushed in to finish off as many of teh survivors as he could and fulfill a couple of his boasts.

He then grabbed the objective. He got a lot of Glory - two or three boasts, plus the scenario victory points. I scored -3 Glory, having failed to achieve a single thing I said I would*.

My sole surviving unit - some crossbows who had sat and watched the rest of the warband get wiped out.

So that game crapped on my final total a fair bit. Still, there was one game to go and I could at least look to get double figures by the end of the day.

The fourth scenario was River Crossing, which is one lifted from The Pikeman's Lament. Both sides are trying to get all of their troops across to the enemy's side of a fordable river. The scenario ends when one player has no troops left on their side of the river, so there's some tactical niceties about how and when you might choose to end the game. I was playing Martin, whose force was similar to mine in that he had two elite foot. Instead of the crossbows he had two units of fast shooting veteran archers.

We both rushed towards the river. I decided to get a couple of units across as quickly as possible so that if there was a bloodbath elsewhere I stood a chance of having more troops on Martin's side than he did on mine.

Two units of  elite foot clashed at the ford in the middle, with my leader pushing theenemy back.

He retreated from a counter-attack, but the other group of elite foot got stuck in and took out the enemy unit.

Martin had a run of bad luck at this point, with a couple of failures when it came to activating his archers to shoot.

I kept his troops busy with my elite foot then stopped shooting with the crossbows and got them across the river as well. Or tried. The last unit failed two activations to move and make teh final crossing, in which time Martin polished off my leader's unit and the other elite foot, then headed for the crossing himself.

But the got across in the end, putting all of my troops on Martin's side of the river and more points there than he had on mine.

We both picked up a couple of boasts, and I think the final score was something like 8-4.

Interestingly I'd declared in three games that I would score more casualties with shooting than I would in close combat, reasoning that the crossbows would do the heavy lifting and the elite foot the finishing off. As it was in two of those games I ended up in far more melee than I'd expected and failed the boast.

Anyway, I finished 5th in a field of ten, so I was at least in the top half. Stuart and Keegan picked up the top spots with Stuart's Arrows of Death proving the battle-winner we thought they'd be.

The tournament was great fun, with plenty of dramatic moments and excitement. As well as the scoring unpredictability provided by boasts we also played the core rules for activations, with the first failure ending a player's turn. Last year we played the option of allowing all units to try and activate and it made it far to easy for players to move their troops around. This year you really had to plan your priorities and keep your leader where he was needed to provide rerolls.

Thanks to Victor for his hard work in organising the tournament, and to all the players for a fun and friendly day out.

*I was not the only person to score -3 Glory in a game, so I didn't feel too bad. Indeed Caesar managed it in his next game ...

Wednesday 17 April 2024

15mm Gladiators

The other day I finished another batch of painting - some 15mm gladiators. I started these last year but lost momentum on them. In the end it took under an hour to finish them, which just goes to show.

They are mostly Museum Miniatures, with one exception. I bought them years ago (back when I lived in the UK in fact). I just thought that it might be fun to have some 15mm figures for smaller more portable games. And that's still the plan now.

I painted one of each of the basic gladiator types from Blood, Sweat and Cheers, bar the Cestus. I have two figures for those and will complete them as a pair at some stage. In my games I tend to use the Cestus type for lightly-armed gladiators, but I couldn't find a suitable 15mm equivalent figure. 

Anyway, here'd the gladiators in  more detail. First the Veles (listed by Museum as a Gaetulian) and what I'm using as a Crupellarius. The latter is a Murmillo of some type but I added a bit of milliput armour.

Next is the Murmillo and the Hoplomachus.

Retiarius and Secutor.

Finally the Sagittarius, Thraex and Dimachaerus. The former is a spare Chariot Miniatures Nubian archer.

They aren't great figures, but there aren't many 15mm options (or there weren't when I bought these). As yet these chaps don't have names. 

Monday 15 April 2024

Simple ECW Rules

A couple of years ago I had a go at the very simple two-page rules in 'Wargame The English Civil war' (which I assume were , like the more detailed rules, written by Andy Callan). They gave a quite fun and quick game and I liked some of the mechanisms. However they are very limited in their scope, and they are designed to simply introduce the idea of wargaming - moving troops, fighting, shooting and morale - to beginners. They have no rules for terrain, the troop types are limited and (obviously) there's a number of situations you can get that aren't covered by the rules as written.

The other day I got the rules out, had another read-through and scribbled a few ideas into them for some terrain effects, as well as adding in dragoons (which are the main missing troop type).

I set up an uneven battle as well. The basic game gives each side one gun, four foot and four horse units. In my game I gave Parliament and extra horse and foot unit, whilst the Royalists substituted a dragoon for one of their horse but also has some hedgerows and a hill on which to base a defensive position.

Parliament advances, whilst the Royalist dragoons take the hedgerows that link the Royalist centre to its right wing.

Parliament had superiority in horse on both flanks, but the Royalists still got stuck in. Actually there's no advantage in teh rules for initiating the attack aside from deciding where the fight will take place.

Puffs of smoke represent units that have fired. This happens before movement and units which fire can't move.

In the foreground you can see where the Parliamentarian horse has attacked the Royalists.

As Parliament's troops got closer to the Royalist positions there was a lot more shooting.

You need a 6 to hit in this game, and most units roll two or three dice when shooting or in melee. If at long range or in other sub-optimal circumstances you need to confirm any hits made as well. So hits are hard to score. However the Royalist dragoons managed to get two hits on an advancing Parliamentarian foot unit.

Hits cause a morale test at the end of the turn. This is on a single D6, and can cause a rout even on one hit. Units are very fickle when it comes to morale. A unit of Parliamentarian horse ran away.

But then the Royalist horse did as well.

On both flanks.

On the Royalist right one horse unit was now outnumbered two to one (a situation the rules don't cover and which I still haven't resolved to my satisfaction), whilst on their left Parliament's horse had free-reign.

Parliament assaulted the hedge-line, and the dragoons ran straight away.

The surviving Royalist horse also gave up at this point.

A side loses when they have lost half of their units (discounting artillery). So those loss of three horse and the dragoons saw the Royalist army give up. Their foot was still looking strong, but both flanks were compromised. 

Parliament would have broken on five units lost, and in fact lost two horse and a foot unit. They were also suffering badly in the centre, and could well have lost a couple of units in the next turn or so, so if the Royalists had hung on for a little longer they may have scraped a victory.

I scribbled lots of notes in the rules, and now need to go back and work through each section. There's a lot of things I want to play around with. I'm still not clear exactly how leader benefits work, for example, and may scrap what's written in favour of something easier to follow and more intuitive. But the core of the rules seem pretty solid and I very much enjoyed the game. 

Friday 12 April 2024

Maschinen Krieger

Maschinen Krieger (Ma.K) is a science-fiction world created in the 1980s by artist Kow Yokoyama. It has a retro-future vibe, with the kit - initially battle-suits but then walkers, grav-tanks and aircraft - being based around components from plastic model kits. Ma.K has seen a range of kits and action figures, a comic and even a film or two.

There's a full history HERE.

Anyway, Slave 2 Gaming have the licence to produce miniatures for Ma.K in 15mm. And, to go with them, they are developing a set of rules. Last night Drew put on a game of Ma.K so that we could try out the latest iteration of the rules and have a look at some of the lovely figures.

Four of us played each running a force of infantry in battlesuits and a few support weapons and vehicles. Darren and I faced Ross and Drew.

I had a splendidly big tank that saw off one of Ross's units before it left the baseline. Combat is pretty simple and done with a single 2D6 roll. You determine a hit number, based on the attacker's quality, range, target size and cover, then look to roll over it. Excess pips over the roll add to teh damage you cause, and all damage in excess of the target's armour rating is recorded as hits. On a big thing like a tank that just whittles down hit-points. On squads you remove figures. It's similar to the Rampant idea of reduced model units.

Here's some of my units on the baseline. I had two squads of regular armoured suit guys, plus a support team, one squad of very heavily armoured suit guys, the big tank and a couple of floating drone things (like the probe in 'Empire Strikes Back), one armed with a rocket-launcher and the other a magnificent laser-pointer, which did no damage but made anything targetted a lot easier to hit.

Here's some action on the other flank where Darren and Drew were fighting it out in some ruins.

Here's my heavily armoured suit unit emerging from behind a wood to have a pop at some of Ross's troops. They also turned out to be heavily armoured, requiring us to get either very lucky or to close the range to get any effective hits.

Some of Darren's troops.

A floating drone. I'm not sure what this one was armed with.

One of the walkers.

The token next to the unit shows that it has activated; the rules use a Bolt Action activation system, with tokens being drawn from a bag to show who gets to activate a unit. Units can take two or three actions, depending on type, but no more than two actions of a type. So, for example, a unit cannot move three times, but it could move once, shoot and then move again.

You can engage in close combat. That's what I tried to do with my tank, in an attempt to overrun some of Ross's infantry. 

The reality; the tank is operated by an AI and was damaged. So it had to make a malfunction check before it moved and, typically, failed, so sputtered to a halt halfway to the target.

Some close quarter fighting in the ruins.

A walker skulks on the edge of some ruins.

You'll notice that I haven't posted much of a narrative. With four players and initiative switching from unit to unit it was hard to keep track of the overall flow of the battle, especially as it was a head to head encounter. We advanced, shot at the enemy and then tended to fall back as counter-strikes reduced the attacking units. Combat can be pretty brutal, and units retire if they hit half-strength. They can rally, and come back, but fight with less effect

It was an enjoyable game with a wonderful aesthetic; I like the big clunky Ma.K. battlesuits a lot. The rules were easy to follow, although we suggested a few tweaks. Certainly keen to give them another go, maybe in more of a mission-based scenario next time.

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