Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday Gladiators

With a quiet Saturday planned after a busy and stressful weekend last weekend, I finally got some gladiators out in order to try out some modifications to 'Munera Sine Missione' that Victor and I have been discussing.

The modifications are rules for the Referee (which we dabbled with last year), and Working The Crowd. Both of them provide extra options for spending odd, leftover Action Points.

The Referee is effectively a piece of mobile, blocking terrain which both gladiators can move around in order to try and limit their opponent's movement.

Working The Crowd allows a gladiator to capitalise on their actions during the turn, and build up Favour. This can be spent to increase Action Points, allowing for a spectacular move as the crowd cheers you on, or to increase your chance of survival if you are forced to appeal to the crowd.

I adopted a Winner Stays On approach. First up was the axe-wielding barbarian Albia and the Secutor Priedens.

They slogged it out for a few turns, trading blow for blow and wound for wound, until Priedens used accumulated crowd-support to perform a neat sidestep and down Albia. She appealed to the crowd and was spared.

Priedens then faced the Myrmillo, Pugnax.

The referee appeared in this game, with Pugnax using him to cover his unshielded side from the slightly more agile Priedens. Priedens managed to knock away Pugnax's sword, but was still knocked down ...

... and knocked down again to give Pugnax the win. The crowd spared Priedens.

Pugnax now faced a Thraex, Lucius.

Again the referee put in an appearance. I don't have a proper lead one yet, so resorted once again to the Junior General site and made a temporary paper one. I say temporary; I'll probably use it for years.

Lucius wasn't a crowd favourite, and Pugnax soon knocked him down with his shield to win the bout. The crowd were happy to spare him, though.

The spear-armed Ellenikos was the next to face Pugnax.

A bold rush by Pugnax saw Ellenikos dispatched fairly briskly, although Ellenikos impressed the crowd more than enough for them to spare him.


With two-swords, Drusa was a dangerous foe for Pugnax to face. But he finished her off quite quickly. So quickly that I didn't make any notes about the bout, aside from recording that, once again, the crowd spared the defeated gladiator.

Time for a classic pairing - big, strong heavy Pugnax against the agile Retiarius, Medusa.

Pugnax never really got into this fight. Medusa dodged all of his attacks, then netted him. Although he cut free eventually, she had worked round behind him, and a trident thrust saw him mortally wounded.

Finally Medusa faced the sword-armed Margareites.

Both gladiators scored near-fatal criticals on each other early on, Medusa taking a deep sword-cut and Margareites being nearly strangled by her net. But Medusa was pulled off her feet, and Margareites scored a narrow victory. A single crowd-pleasing move early in the bout was just enough to sway the mob in favour of sparing her.

The new rules worked fairly well, offering more options without skewing the game too much in the favour of particular types of gladiator. The Crowd rules do give gladiators a slightly better chance of surviving an appeal, but that may have been just how these particular games panned out; all of the gladiators made decent appeal rolls, and only in the case of Medusa in the final bout was the possession of favour with the crowd actually the clincher. The Referee acted as a block a couple of times, but was fairly easy to work around and, to some extent, is a less attractive option on which to spent Action Points than working the crowd.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Napoleon At War - One Cavalry Commander's View

Pictures from our game tonight - a multiplayer game of Napoleon at War with French vs Austrians.

I had cavalry again.

We lined up an attack on some Austrian infantry coming over a hill. They formed square and we lost interest.

Then the Austrian cavalry turned up, and gave us all a kicking.

After an evening getting used to mechanisms I hadn't played before, and didn't entirely understand, I launched a final charge.

Into some Austrian light cavalry ...

... who evaded.

And that was it really.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Blast From The Past - Pichincha Refight

I was tidying up my PC today, and came across these pictures from 2003.  They are of a refight of the 1822 Battle of Pichincha, using 'Principles of War'. A lot of it was made up; I didn't have a detailed map or order of battle, but I seem to recall that the games was OK, even if PoW never really fitted the bill for this particular conflict.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Quickie In Venezuela

After a hard week at work, there's nothing like a quick game of Liberated Hordes to start the weekend off.

I randomly determined the makeup of the armies, and quality of generals, using the same method I used for the Venezuelan campaign I played last weekend. They ended up as:

Royalists - Average General (Strategist), 6 x Regular Infantry, 3 x Militia Infantry, 2 x Militia Llaneros, 1 x Militia Cavalry

Republicans - Good General - 1 x Regular Infantry, 8 x Militia Infantry, 1 x Militia Skirmishers, 1 x Regular Cavalry, 1 x Militia Artillery

I also gave both sides a chance on the bonus table I use for campaigns. The Royalists got two - a Flank March, which allowed them to bring on up to three elements on the enemy flank upon rolling a '6' for PIPs, and Allies, which gave them a bonus element of Llaneros.

On paper the Royalists really had everything going for them better troops, more cavalry and a flank march.They defended and threw away their general's Strategist bonus (which allows them to set up most of their army after that of the attacker) with a rather conventional deployment designed to seize a low ridge in front of their deployment area. However, with a strong force of regular infantry this was really no bad thing; the infantry could hold off their Republican counterparts until the cavalry arrived.

The Republicans concentrated their troops on one flank, aiming to go for a headlong charge at the Royalist line. Not a subtle plan.

The Royalists take the hill, as the Republicans advance.

On one flank the opposing cavalry fought each other. Most of the Royalist horse - the llaneros - made up the flank march. Would they arrive in time?

A skirmish in the woods on the other flank saw the Republican skirmishers routed.

As the Republicans closed to musketry range, the llaneros appeared behind their right flank.

The Republican general ordered his troops into a bayonet charge, aiming to overwhelm the Royalists with sheer enthusiasm before the llaneros hit their rear.

The Royalist left collapsed under the assault.

Royalist cavalry was now threatening both Republican flanks, but in the foreground the beleaguered artillery held off the attack and routed their opponents.

The Republicans pressed their advantage, routing more Royalist elements. On the far left of the picture the British Legion (the Republican's one regular element) routs a Royalist element with support from some militia.

A good roll for PIPs saw them able to form up infantry to meet the advancing llaneros. A volley drove off one of the elements, and the Royalist morale collapsed.

The end of the battle - the llaneros were held off with musketry, whilst the Royalist left had been pretty much driven from the field.

The Republicans won a 6-2 victory, losing an element of cavalry and one of skirmishers, to the Royalist losses of one llaneros, one cavalry, and four infantry. At the crisis point of the battle the Royalists were caught between spending PIPs to shore up their line, and using them to bring up the cavalry. There were never quite enough to do both. The Republicans managed to use even low PIP rolls to keep up the momentum of their attack. In fact they never used their general's Good rating to improve a PIP roll.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Gong Garage Gamers Reports

"My goodness," I hear you say, "Where are those exciting Friday morning reports of Last Night's Games from that wonderful group in Wollongong? This is the third week in a row we haven't had one."

And you're quite right. This is the third week in a row that I haven't reported on a game. I could have done last night; there was a splendid little WW1 game on the go, set in the Middle East and using 15mm figures with Flames of War. But somehow I failed to take any pictures of it.

So what's happened to the reports? Well, as I have alluded to before, our group is involved in a project so ringed around with non-disclosure agreements that merely thinking about it in your presence means that you would have to be killed. It's great fun, but I can't blog about it or document it in any way. And that's occupied two of the last three weeks. The other week - last week - I didn't have a regular Thursday gaming session because I went to my daughter's Year 12 drama presentation.  Basically it was a a night-off from wargaming to be a proud dad.

So there will be further reports. But this does tend to explain why this month's post count has been a bit low.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Venezuela Campaign

I played another session of my Liberated Hordes campaign system today, using my new Venezuelan figures. I used much the same mechanisms as before, but factored Skirmishers and llanero Cavalry into the random troop determination table. Only one side could roll llaneros, depending on who they decided to be allied to. his was rolled at the start of the campaign and again after each battle, and who they chose depended on how much political control a side had, and whether a side had won their most recent battle. The side that didn't have them got Skirmishers instead. This all sounds more complicated that it actually was - the system worked and generated some interesting armies.

One other change was that whilst I kept six political tokens in play, each side had three; there were no uncontrolled tokens at the start of the game.

I kept detailed notes, but won't write them all up here.

The llaneros allied themselves with the Republicans at the start, who ended up with an army that was nearly 50% cavalry. Their general was rated as Good. The Royalists ended up with a Poor general in charge of a strong force of infantry with skirmisher support and a small force of cavalry.

In the first battle the Royalists defended, and opted to fight the battle in a wooded area, hoping to deny the Republicans best use of their cavalry. The Republicans massed their horse on one flank, aiming to overwhelm the Royalist right, whilst their infantry pinned the centre.

The Royalist cavalry tried to hold the Republicans before they cleared the woods, but failed.

As the Republican's cavalry hit the Royalist right flank, their infantry hit the centre.

Royalist skirmishers, including bow-armd indians, held the left.

The Royalist commander was cut down at the head of his troops and his army routed.

The Republicans had won a victory but were unable to exploit any political capital from it. In addition their general must have upset someone, as the llaneros switched their allegiance to the Royalists (which meant that the Royalists could recruit them as new units, whilst the Republicans couldn't replace lost ones). Bolivar replaced the Republican commander - their new general was Average, but was a Strategist, which gave him extra flexibility in deployment and choice of battlefield edge.

The Royalists had lost their commander, but received a new one with a Good rating. In addition they acquired artillery and some veteran troops from Spain (one of their regular units upgraded to elite).

The second battle saw the Royalists defending again. The Republicans still had a massive cavalry superiority - despite having the llaneros on their side, none of them actually joined the Royalist field army. To offset this superiority the Royalists forced the Republican attack through a narrow pass. They were also lucky to catch the Republican advance by surprise.

The bulk of the good quality Republican infantry advanced over the rocky hills.

Their general led the cavalry himself, aiming to force the pass with a direct assault.

The Republican cavalry smashed into the Royalist centre ...

... and broke through.

The Republican infantry advance was stalled, taking heavy casualties from skirmishers in the woods on the flanks.

The Royalists formed infantry up on the heights, and poured murderous volleys into the attacking Republican horsemen.

Undeterred, the Republicans pushed their attack, and the Royalist commander fell to a cavalry sabre.

But it wasn't enough - the Royalist infantry had held long enough to take the impetus out of the Republican attack, and with mounting casualties the republicans quit the field. It was a close battle, but the Royalists just clinched a victory.

The Royalists used the victory to destabilise the Republican's political influence, and could have issued a proclamation at this stage to attempt to win the campaign. But with the political balance still very close this was unlikely to succeed; the Royalists needed another victory to cement their position.

The Republican commander rallied his army, and brought the Royalists to battle again. Their new commander was both Poor and a Coward, but the Royalist army was now strong in veteran infantry (another element upgraded to elite).

The Royalists defended for a third time. This time they negated the Patriot cavalry superiority by anchoring one flank on a lake, opting to defend the other with their better infantry. The Republicans concentrated their infantry in an attack along the lake shore, whilst their cavalry was tasked with preventing a flanking move by the superior Royalist foot.

The Republicans attacked the Royalist left with some success ...

... but the Royalist left swept forward and brought the Republican cavalry under fire.

The Republican attack slowed as their forces broke up. But as the Royalist infantry pushed forward their commander was shot - the third one killed in as many battles.

Leaderless the Royalists fought on. Unable to manuever, they advanced, firing as they went, and unable to resist the onslaught the Republican army broke.

This was an even closer battle than the previous one, but the Royalists were able to make good political capital from it. They issued a proclamation, declaring the province loyal to the crown, and it succeeded. The Royalists won the campaign.

This campaign did not have the same balance of troops and allowed upgrades as the Alto Peru campaigns I'd played before*, so this campaign had a different feel to the previous ones, and was great fun to play out. I was pleased with how the small changes I made to the campaign system made such a difference.  It was indeed a very close-run thing. The second and third battles were won by narrow margins, and by an army which had lost its commander in both cases. The armies in all three games were fairly evenly matched. The whole things took about 3 1/2 hours to set up and play through.

*Cavalry and Artillery could not be upgraded beyond Regular. Infantry and/or Skirmishers could be upgraded to Elite, but no more than two elements in the army could be Elite. An army could not have more than two Skirmishers, one Artillery or six Cavalry. Replacements were determined as follows - 1-3 = Infantry, 4 = Llanero Cavalry (if they were on your side) otherwise Skirmisher, 5 = Cavalry, 6 = Artillery.
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