Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Teaching HOTT

Chris, a work colleague of mine has expressed interest in playing HOTT over the last month or two, so tonight I lured him to my home with the promise of an evening meal, and taught him how to play.

We used 15mm armies on the dining table. After we'd eaten, of course.

He used a simple Elf army - four Spears, four Shooters and four Riders, with a Spear general. I used the Ceidonians, who have a mixture of Spear, Blades, Knights, Shooters and a Behemoth.

He defended, and away we went.

My advance was slowed by lack of PIPs. Meanwhile he took the bold step of redeploying all of his Riders from one flank to the other.

Once they got there they fell upon my isolated Shooters, and destroyed them.

My Knights, including the general, rushed to cover the flank, and held back most of the Riders.

One got through, though, and rolled up the flank of my infantry line.

Chris points out the heroic Rider just as it accounts for the last element he needed to win the game.

We set up another game so I had a stab at revenge. Chris continued to use the Elves, but dropped two Shooters and replaced them with a Hero general. I used Barbarians, also with a hero general, but mainly Knights and Warband.

The Barbarians used woods to cover their flanks.

Then fell upon the Elven line.

A rapid charge saw the Barbarian line broken up, but the Elves slowly went down as kill after kill destroyed the Spears.

So, one victory each, and another possible convert.

We deliberately kept the armies simple in both games, with a Behemoth being the only 'special' in the first game and a couple of Heroes in the second. I think we can introduce aerials and/or magic in the next one ...

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Five Armies - Second Playtest

Here's a belated report of Thursday's game - we playtested our Battle of the Five Armies HOTT game again.

There's still work to be done, but it's all coming together very nicely. Most of the figures are ready (it's my contribution that's getting delayed, but they shouldn't take long to finish), and there's a bit of work to be done on the terrain, but the basic outline of the game is there. Most importantly we seem to have the scenario set-up, in terms of lists, event timings and so forth, sorted, and the balance seems about right to give a good, exciting game.

Here's the initial setup, with the Goblins and Wargs advancing out of the ruins of Dale and the Elves, Men and Dwarves on the mountain spurs waiting for them:

The Goblins advance, and the Elves move off the hill to meet them:

Goblin hordes:

The Men and Dwarves wait on their spur for the Goblins to reach them:

Which, eventually, they do:

I didn't take any photos after about halfway through. The game was very close, with the outrageous luck of the Elves in surviving deadly combats contributing to the fact that the Goblins/Wargs couldn't clinch a victory. Beorn and the Eagles turned up just in time to put the icing on the cake for the Elves, Men and Dwarves. Which is how it should be.

We'll probably be doing it again next week.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Battle of Salta - Anniversary Refight

Today's the day! 20 years since I got married, and 200 years since the Battle of Salta. Let's dwell not on the former for now, and look at the latter. Specifically my refight.

I posted links to stuff about the the battle yesterday, so you can go there for the historical snippets.  For my refight I used the scenario OOB and map from John Fletcher's excellent 'Liberators! Volume 1: The War In The South', an essential wargames guide to the conflict. This gave the following setup:

The Patriots are in the foreground, whilst the smaller Royalist force is deployed in front of the town of Salta. Terrain is limited - a rocky hill along the one flank, and a difficult stream bed. Royalist skirmishers are deployed on the hill.

Here's the Patriot army: 

It consists of six units of Regular Infantry, one unit of Regular Cavalry, one unit of Militia Cavalry and two units of Regular Artillery. Plus General Belgrano.

Opposing them is the Royalist army under General Pio de Tristan:

On the hill is one unit of Regular Skirmishers (treat as Infantry, but they ignore difficult terrain, get a -1 in close combat but always count as being in cover when shot at. If they take a disorder marker, they immediately roll a rally test, with scores over 4 being treated as 4.) The main army consists of four units of Regular Infantry, two units of Militia Infantry, one unit of Militia Cavalry and a unit of Militia Artillery

The Patriots have an advantage in both numbers and quality.

Figures are 6mm Napoleonics (mostly) from Irregular Miniatures, based on a  25mm frontage. The board is a 10 x 10 grid of 3cm squares.

I set up the troops and photographed them last night, stashing the whole game on a shelf afterwards ready for the big day ...

Yes, this is a true portable wargame.

Late in the evening I had a spare moment, so it was time for the refight ...

The Patriots opened up with an artillery barrage that disordered the Royalist line (I used rocks as markers) followed by a general advance.

The Royalists responded with a counter-attack on their left, their cavalry and an infantry unit driving back the Patriot cavalry.

Indeed the Patriot militia cavalry routed.

The remaining Patriot cavalry saw off the one Royalist cavalry unit.

But the Patriot advance stalled under Royalist musketry.

And they fell back.

A second advance saw more success on their right, driving off some Royalist infantry.

However the Royalists had advanced their right, and were putting the Patriot left under some pressure.

A fierce Patriot assault on their right ...

... saw the Royalist left collapse.

The Patriots kept up the pressure - the Royalist artillery was now dangerously exposed.

Outflanked and outnumbered it somehow held the Patriot cavalry to a draw.

Both sides were now dangerously exposed on their left flanks.

Once again the Patriots tried to overwhelm the Royalist artillery. All they needed to do to win the battle was destroy it. They failed.

But the Patriot artillery wasn't so lucky - its gunners were shot down by the Royalist ad-hoc skirmisher battalion.

And, finally, Royalist infantry came to support of its guns, driving off a Patriot infantry unit to win the battle.

The result was a reversal of history, with the Royalists, outmatched on paper, winning a bloody fight. Casualties on both sides were heavy.

The Patriots lost six of their ten units, whilst the Royalists lost four of their nine. I had wavered between counting the ad-hoc skirmishers as a unit for morale purposes, but it was their presence that prevented an early Royalist defeat. The battle was truly won by the Royalist artillery - had the Patriots destroyed they would have won the battle, but its tenacity (and sheer luck) cost them dear.

This was my first try using these rules for a South American Liberation battle. I'm not totally sure they gave the right feel, but I'd probably try them again a few times just to make certain one way or the other. After all, I can never have too many ways of gaming this particular set of conflicts.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Problem Of Multiple Anniversaries

Tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Salta.

The Battle of Salta? Yes, the Battle of Salta, when a Patriot army under General Belgrano defeated a Royalist force under General Pio de Tristan just north of the present-day Argentinian city of Salta.

You can read about it HERE.

Now I've refought Salta in the past - back in 2007 in fact - and there's a few pictures to prove it. I used a variant of 'Rocket's Red Glare' (a set of rules for the War of 1812), as the scale of battles they cover is just about right.

But tomorrow I want to refight Salta on its 200th anniversary. I have a bit of a thing for the South American Wars of Liberation, and it would be great to play a game on the actual day.

I considered using it as an excuse to try out Black Powder, now I own a copy of the rules. The battle translates OK and would make for a small, quick, game to learn the rules with. But eventually I decided to settle for something quick and simple. I'm going to use a variant of my Portable Wargame square-grid  ACW variant, 'Mighty Mean-Fowt Fights'. A few tweaks will scale the rules down for South American Napoleonic warfare - reduce musketry to 2 squares range and artillery to 4 squares, whilst giving cavalry a +1 against all troops (as well as the +1 against disordered troops) - cavalry were often a decisive battle winner in these wars. I have the figures. I have the square grid. I have the terrain.

I have everything I need.


You see, tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Salta. I'm working all day, and we have family coming over for a meal in the evening. Why? Because it's also the 20th anniversary of the day I got married.

How am I going to fit in a game?

Watch this space ...

"What do you mean, he's thinking of wargaming on our anniversary?"

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Book Of (Chinese) Invasions

A recent comment suggested that there wasn't enough HOTT on this blog, so I decided to celebrate its first birthday with a game.

I used two armies which haven't seen much use in recent years - the Chinese and the Tuatha De Danann. These used to get a lot of use about 10-12 years ago when I had a regular Saturday night gaming session with our neighbour's grandson (who was about 12-13 at the time). He liked using the Chinese, despite its considerable flaws, and also dabbled in the Tuatha De Danann as well. So the game is a sort of tribute to an early, regular, opponent. We did play an awful lot of HOTT together over the years, and he even played in a couple of tournaments as well. He's a policeman now, apparently.

Anyway, back to the game. The Chinese defended:

The had a Knight general (in a chariot), another Knight, two Spears, two Shooters, a Magician and two Dragons. Here's the Knight general with his parasol:

The Tuatha De Danann had a Hero general (Lugh), another Hero (Nuada Silverhand), a Magician, a couple of Knights a couple of Blades and four Hordes. Here they are:

And here are the Heroes, plus the Magician:

The armies advanced:

The Chinese Magician attempted to ensorcell Nuada Silverhand, but failed, rolling a '1':

In a bold move he closed into combat, and ensorcelled the Irish Hero at close range:

The Hero was imprisoned in the Chinese stronghold:

The armies get closer, with the Chinese trying to catch the Irish before they cleared the fields:

A clash of chariots:

The impetuous Chinese push into the Irish line:

Unfortunately that's when things started to go wrong. A Chinese chariot falls to Lugh the Hero:

The Chinese crossbowmen were shooting down Irish Hordes on the flank:

But a Chinese Spear element fell to an Irish chariot:

Finally the Chinese general was killed by another Irish Knight:

All was not lost, though - troop losses on both sides were equal, so the game continued. However all the Irish had to do on their next bound was bring back one Horde, and they would secure the victory. The Chinese needed a kill on their turn. So they went for a risky bespelling attack on the Irish Magician - and it worked:

The Irish had now lost 10AP to the Chinese 6AP - the game continued. The Irish attacked, looking to get some easy kills:

But failed to impress the Chinese. Now Lugh, the Irish general, was in danger, backed up against one of his own Knights and under fire from Chinese crossbowmen:

The Chinese rolled a '6' and deployed the Dragons:

The crossbowmen failed to force Lugh to retreat:

The Irish tried again, blocking the recoil of the remaining Chinese Spear element. It didn't work:

The Dragons attack, but the Irish chariot Knight held them to a draw:

Lugh kills the Chinese Shooter element. The Chinese are now 8AP down - their losses are equal to those of the Irish:

The Iiish roll a '6', and Lugh returns:

His attempt to capture the Chinese stronghold fails, but his reappearance now means that the Chinese are down 8AP to 4AP - with their general gone, that means they lose.

Although things looked bad for the Chinese in most of the game, a couple of lucky rolls meant that they were in with a chance of a win a couple of times. So it was a good, close game.

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