Friday, 28 June 2013

Mid-Winter Munera

We had a gladiator night at the Gong Garage Gamers yesterday. Caesar, Geoff and I carried on with our campaign games from this time last year.

Our schools started the evening as follows. Each gladiator has a name and type, and after that is any skills they have. As you can see, all three of us had at least one skilled gladiator, with all of us having selected Reflexes. This used to allow a +1AP (hence its popularity), but we tested a slightly less powerful version, which allowed the gladiator to reroll an AP dice score of '1'. All three schools had 2 points of Prestige from the games last year. Geoff and Caesar were both short one gladiator (after casualties from the previous games), so had to choose replacements.

Graccus (Laquearius)
Memnon (Sagittarius)
Bregans (Gaul)
Alumnus (Hoplomachus) - Reflexes
Amazon (Samnite)
Hero (Samnite) - Reflexes
Prestige - 2

Cupido (Retiarius)
Culex (Velite)
Priscus (Thracian) - Reflexes
Satornilus (Thracian)
Scylax (Cataphractarius) - Reflexes
Prestige - 2
Added: Mongo (Myrmillo)

Bato (Velite)
Medusa (Retiarius) - Reflexes
Cycnus (Hoplomachus)
Hilarus (Thracian)
Telamonius (Contra-Retiarius)
Prestige - 2
Added: Pugnax (Myrmillo)

In each game we fought three bouts, with each player having a gladiator in two of them.

Game 1

Satornilus vs Hero - A classic Thracian against heavy gladiator fight.
Memnom vs Telamonius - My archer took on Caesar's 'tank'.
Pugnax vs Culex - An agile Velite against a heavy Myrmillo,

Let the Games begin! That's Memnon the Archer running away from Telamonius in the foreground.

Here's Hero and Satornilus.

Culex the Velite charges straight into the fight.

And scores the first win of the night, dodging around his slower opponent and finishing him off with a few quick thrusts. A generous crowd granted mercy to Pugnax, however.

Hero lived up to his name and downed Satornilus, and again the crowd were merciful.

Memnon used up all of his arrows trying to wound Telamonius, but failed to inflict a significant hit. Reduced to attacking him with a dagger, it was only a matter of time before the unarmoured archer was defeated. This time the crowd screamed for blood - and got it.

So, we each won one fight, and one gladiator died. Telamonius gained one skill (Defend). Culex picked the Attack skill. Hero didn't gain a skill. Each player gained one Prestige for their school.

Game 2

I added Rufina (Thracian) to my school to replace the dead Memnon.

Rufina vs Priscus - Both Thracians, one with a helmet, one without.
Mongo vs Bato - Another nimble Velite against a mighty Murmillo.
Telamonius vs Bregans - Caesar's 'tank' challenged by an inexperienced Gaul out for glory.

Rufina didn't last five minutes. And the crowd weren't interested in her survival either.

Bregans adopted an aggressive approach to taking out Telamonius, launching a series of wild attacks.

Meanwhile the pretty-boy Bato managed to seperate Mongo from his shield.

This didn't seem to bother the mighty Mongo, who gave the crowd what they wanted - Bato's blood.

The fight between Telamonius and Bregans lasted for ages, and moved from one side of the arena to the other. Finally, with both gladiators wounded and exhausted, Bregans managed a winning blow. But the crowd spared Telamonius; they'd enjoyed the fight. Telamonius showed a disturbing ability to trip over his own feet, though.

I gained 2 Prestige for Bregans' win againstthe more experienced Telamonius, whilst Caesar lost 1. Geoff gained 2 Prestige for his two victories.

Bregans picked Popularity. Mongo picked the Defend skill. Priscus wasn't eligible for a skill as he defeated a lower-rated gladiator.

Game 3

More replacements were needed. I added Ombos the Nubian to my school to replace the short-lived Rufina. Caesar chose the Melanippe, a barbarian Dimacherius, to replace Bato.

And the draws were:

Melanippe vs Satornilus - Geoff's Thracian against a nimble barbarian with two swords.
Cupido vs Amazon - A classic Myrmillo/Retiarius action.
Hero vs Cycnus  - Sword against spear.

Hero kept close in to his spear-armed opponent.

Whilst Melanippe adopted the tactic of running away.

Amazon and Cupido approached each other warily.

Satornilus caught up with Melanippe and badly wounded her.

Then finished her off. The crowd went for her blood. It really wasn't a good night to be a lightly-armed barbarian gladiator.

Cupido netted Amazon and, although she put up a good fight, tripped her and had her at his mercy. Mercy wasn't something the crowd were interested in, though, and she died.

Hero quickly defeated Cycnus, and again the crowd showed no mercy.

With two more wins, Geoff gained another 2 Prestige. I gained another 1. Caesar gained none.

That was the end of the evening's play, so we reassessed where our respective schools stood. Once again the skills each gladiator has are listed after their name. We still have no gladiator with more than one skill, but all of Geoff's are now skilled.

Gracchus (Laquearius)
Ombos (Nubian)
Bregans (Gaul) - Popular
Alumnus (Hoplomachus) - Reflexes
Hero (Samnite) - Reflexes
Prestige - 6

Cupido (Retiarius) - Defend
Culex (Velite) - Attack
Priscus (Thracian) - Reflexes
Satornilus (Thracian) - Attack
Scylax (Cataphractarius) - Reflexes
Mongo (Myrmillo) - Defend
Prestige - 7

Medusa (Retiarius) - Reflexes
Hilarus (Thracian)
Telamonius (Cataphractarius) - Defend
Pugnax (Myrmillo)
Prestige - 2

Both Geoff and I picked up more prestige - Geoff for winning five of the nine duels, and me for winning three, including one against a more experienced gladiator. Caesar won one bout, but Telamonius losing to Bregans in Game 2 cost him Prestige.

We tried a number of small adjustments to the rules, but they aren't worth reporting here yet.

And we really must not wait a whole year before doing this again - it was far too much fun.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Dropped Weapons In The Arena

One of the features of 'Munera Sine Missione' is that certain critical hits cause you or your opponent to drop equipment, which then has to be recovered. This, of course, needs to be recorded on the board somehow, so I this weekend improving the markers I use.

I made some weapons and shields years ago, but they are small, and fiddly to use, so I decided that putting them on bases was the way to go. They get in the way of the figures a little more, but are easier to pick up and move, which offsets this.

I used coins and washers for the bases. Each was coated in PVA, then heavily sprinkled in sand. Once dry I painted it in a base colour:

I then washed them in a darker colour and dry-brushed in a lighter. Like you do.

Here are the bits I use. The weapons are mostly toothpicks, the net is a piece of plastic hair-roller, the shields are card with lentil bosses and the lasso a piece of florist wire. The helmet is a commercial cast in hard plastic that I was given by Victor last year - I can't remember the manufacturer. Apart from the helmet they are crude, but serviceable.

And here they are glued to the bases.

Finally Drusa (left) and Murranus (right) show them in action.

(Did I say? I spent a lot of last weekend giving all 66 of my gladiator miniatures permanent names - they're on little labels attached to the underside of their base).

Friday, 21 June 2013

The Glory That Was Rome

Our scheduled game of Black Powder was cancelled last night, so we resorted to our default mode - HOTT. Geoff and John tried out a scenario John was working on, whilst Caesar and I gave my 6mm ancient armies a spin.

We started off with the aptly named Caesar commanding Early Imperial Romans against some Arabs. In this picture he seems to be telling Geoff and John how he will "Slaughter those wascally Awabs and dwive them fwom the face of the earth.".

Famous last words.

The Arabs swept round his flank with camels and cavalry.

The Roman cavalry put up a reasonable resistance.

But the legions fought woefully, and were slowly whittled down.

Finally Caesar himself was cut down at the head of his troops, ending up, stuffed, as a rather small foot-stool for the Arab chieftain.

John and Geoff were using 15mm figures on 60mm frontages to try a scenario involving an army of the Undead attacking a defended village in order to raise the bodies of some long-dead heroes.

I think there were balance issues, but it was a useful exercise. I didn't get any more pictures though.

In our next game, Caesar took the Arabs and played the Romans. This time the Romans were defending, as the Arabs pressed their advantage. Caesar went for massed camels as his main attack - because it's rude not to.

He charged my right, whilst I sent my Auxilia forward to attack his centre before it emerged from between some areas of bad going.

There was lots of fighting, as you'd expect.

The game ended undocumented by the photo-journalist, as Caesar attacked the Roman camp. He failed to take it, but losses to the Roman auxiliaries broke their army, leaving the Legionarii to attempt to retire in good order.

The final game - just one picture. Caesar took Scots-Irish against the hapless Romans, who defended again. The Roman Auxilia put up a good fight in the cultivated land in the centre, but the rest of the army folded before a wild Irish charge.

I'm still wondering how to run the Irish chariots in HOTT. I've been using them as Knights, reasoning that they carry fierce, well-armed nobles who dismount and fight with a similar effect to Warband. However in DBA they'd be closer to Riders. Neither classification feels quite right - as Knights they have too much punch against enemy mounted, and as Riders too much speed and manuever. One possibility I considered, on the drive home, was to run them as Warband, with the deep bases giving them a different character to the ordinary rank-and-file Warband. This would reflect them being wild foot warriors, but the depth of the base would give them a longer recoil and pursuit distance. I might try them out and see how it goes.

Anyway, you can see that the Romans lost all three battles. Hooray for the barbarians!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

An Interlude In The Art Gallery

I had a day off work today; I was supposed to be meeting up with a friend in Sydney, but she had a family bereavement and had to cancel on me. However once I have a day off work booked I get psyched up, so I decided to go up to the big city anyway.

I spent some of it at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which is a nice place to go as they allow you to take photos. Which is what I'm going to share with you - a few photos of the exhibits which you might enjoy.

Specifically there's one for Ralph in our gaming group, who's more of an Aussie newbie than even I, and may not have seen it yet. But first - this:

It's one of my favourite paintings in the gallery. The first time I went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales I know I made what my daughter would call 'sqeee' noises when I saw it, because it was a painting I recognised from various Zulu War books. It's Alphonse de Neuville's 'The Defence of Rorkes Drift'. Enjoy. I only have to go up the road (relatively speaking) to enjoy it for real.

And for Ralph?


And here it is. I've seen these pictures in books, but I'm still gobsmacked at how big this is. So I wanted to include a person for scale in my photo. Of course, what happens when you try and take a photo of a painting someone's standing next to is that they politely move out of the way. In the end one of the gallery assistants took it for me, so I was able to use my lovely alter-ego, Rachel, for scale. 5' 8", plus a bit for the heels.

And then I stepped back to get a less blurry, full view photo of the painting. And someone ended up in shot. He appears to be 5' 8", but without heels.

Anyway, Ralph, if you haven't been to see this particular painting yet, you now know where to go. Full Details.

In other gaming news I bought a copy of Tsuro.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Maurice Doubles

Shock horror! Our normal room at the University was locked last night (something to do with exams), so we ended up having to use a meeting room in the Metals and Materials Science bit of the building. So our backdrop was a shelf of books on metals, crystals and all sorts of other interesting sciency stuff.

Our feature game was a Maurice doubles. Four of us each had an army of a different style - Caesar and I, representing a Riskovian/Confederation of Tea States Alliance, attacked John and Ralph, representing an alliance between Albion and the Duchy of Sans Couleur. We used one deck between us, with plans to cycle through it more than the three times

Here we are setting up. One again a lot of the figures were my still unpainted garish Risk plastics. However both Caesar and John have growing collections of painted metal figures.

My army featured lots of cavalry. Including elite Guard cavalry. This will come as no surprise to most people.

Here's my Riskovian infantry.

The other game - Peter and Geoff played DBMM. Or something of that ilk.

Lots of banners.

Caesar had Bayonets and En Masse as his national advantages, and pushed his infantry forward rapidly to engage John's line. This was odd, because he then stopped and tried to engage in a firefight, whilst the rest of us just looked baffled.

Here's Ralph looking baffled.

Fisheye shot of our temporary venue.

And a widescreen shot of the overall game. I have lenses for my iPhone, you know.

Another widescreen shot. Whilst Caesar had pushed a limited part of his army forward rapidly, and got stuck in (in a bizarre kind of way) I was advancing steadily, trying to keep my infantry, cavalry and artillery together. However, as I said, my infantry were only there to provide a vulgar brawl to which my cavalry could lend some dignity. Ralph adopted a defensive posture behind some hills, so whilst Caesar and John exchanged musketry turn after turn (and rallied a lot), our two armies saw very little of each other.

Caesar had some cavalry as well. Irregulars. They spent the whole game hiding in a wood looking attractive.

Ralph pushed a few units of cavalry forward in order to tempt my artillery into shooting. I didn't take the bait. Instead I advanced my infantry, hoping that covering Caesar's flank might encourage him to actually attack. With Ralph's cavalry threatened to the front I swung some of my many cavalry units around to threaten their flank. Things were looking good.

Some action in the main fight - one of John's infantry units got confused, and retired through its supports. Maybe this was the opportunity Caesar needed to launch that long-awaited bayonet assault? But wait? That patch of white marsh wasn't on the map! (We didn't have any spare terrain of a suitable size so used a couple of measuring sticks)

Finally! Caesar attacks!

And that was it. He didn't make any major breakthroughs, and ended up repulsed with a number of his units looking very shaky. The next turn would probably see some of them break, but we'd run out of time - the firefights between Caesar and John had used up a lot of the gaming time. Ralph and I never got to grips.

Playing doubles was interesting, but I think we needed a more coordinated plan. Caesar and John's side of the game quickly bogged down, whilst Ralph and I were able to complete our parts of the turn very quickly. I think I would have liked Caesar to have held back a little, perhaps. And sitting in front of a firing line in column didn't seem the best plan; the ability to rally in Maurice seems to offset a lot of the advantages gained by shooting your way into combat - when Caesar went in he'd gained virtually nothing from several turns exchanging fire. My plan was to advance all of my troops together, as far as possible, before launching any attacks. But with infantry, cavalry and artillery that meant three turns of march moves for each step forward. This could play quite quickly (especially as Ralph was content to pretty much sit and wait for me, at least initially), but not with the other side of the table engaged in combat every turn.

We're playing Maurice again in a few weeks, possibly as part of a mini campaign, but I'm not sure if it's doubles or a couple of one-on-one games. Maybe I'll get to shoot or charge something this time.

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