Monday, 30 March 2015

More Human Units For 'Giant Monster Rampage'

Having made a city for my monsters to destroy, I need some more military units to defend it with - at least until the giant mechs are deployed.

I have posted stats for some unit types elsewhere. Here are a couple more. Both groups are 100 point swarms.

5 x Missile Launchers
Distance 3 Dexterity 2 Toughness 4 Instinct 4
Mechanical Blast, Alternator

4 x Helicopter Gunships
Distance 4 Dexterity 4 Toughness 1 Instinct 3
Volley Blast plus Intensify, Fly, Alternator

Because it's a house-rule, I'll include repost the rules for Volley Blast.


Points: 10
Range: 18”
Energy: 1-5
Damage: 1

A combatant with this power has a ranged combat attack that fires a mass of small projectiles that, whilst they are unlikely to cause much damage are very difficult to avoid. When this power is activated, the monster spends 1-5AP (player's choice). It then determines the To Hit number and rolls a D10 for each AP spent. Ignore all rolls except the highest, and compare that to the To Hit number to see if the attack hits or misses. A '0' scores a critical hit as normal. Due to the small size of the projectiles, any target hit by a volley blast must double its toughness before rolling to absorb the damage inflicted by it. When a combatant’s toughness is doubled, the maximum rating it can have is 8. If a combatant’s toughness would be greater than 8, it becomes 8.

Intensify can be found in 'Atomic Super Humans' and allows you to add 1 Wound to an associated blast attack for each additional 2AP you spend above that required to initiate the attack.

The missile launchers are less well-protected than tanks, but are otherwise similar. They have the multi-shot Mechanical Blast instead of the single-shot Ballistic Blast. The helicopters are are relatively agile when it comes to evading close-combat attacks and whilst their individual firepower is basically that of an infantry unit the Intensify ability allows them to deal out the damage if they have enough AP to spare.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

There Goes The Neighbourhood

I've been quieter than normal here this week partially because I've been working, partially because I've been working out how you go about voting here in Australia using forms more complicated than any Briton has seen before and partially because I've been putting together some more paper buildings for Godzilla and his friends to destroy. So here's some pictures of the latter.

The designs aren't mine. They are PDFs I've picked up from various places around the web over the last couple of years.

In other news, some proud parent stuff. Most Australians will know that the Royal Easter Show is currently on in Sydney. As part of it there is an on-site radio station broadcasting all day, run by students from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, one of whom is my son. So it would be great if you gave them a listen (especially Cei Saunders, of course). You can listen on the radio if you're local, but they also stream it over the 'net so you can listen anywhere in the world. Details are HERE.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Medieval High Drama

You think your most recent game had a dramatic finish? Pah! My most recent game had a dramatic finish! Oh yes it did!

Let's travel back in time to the 15th century ... WHOOSH!

OK, it's another dodgy photo of what was supposed to be some troops set up at the start of a game of big-battle DBA 3.0, featuring a French Ordonnance army against a Wars of the Roses English. Gary and I took the heroic French, whilst Caesar, Ralph and Peter were the perfidious English.

Here's the battle a turn or so in. The English had worked light cavalry around the French right, which was where their knights were massed, ready to charge. In the centre the solid English longbowmen faced of French men-at-arms, whilst the outclassed French archers lurker i the wood. And on the French left more archers and men at arms faced yet more English archers and men-at-arms, lus a grand battery of artillery.

The English, painted by Caesar.

A typically English sneaky trick.

The French knights were supported by heroic peasants and between them they showed the English that their light cavalry were no match for armoured noblemen on horses backed up by a half-starved rabble.

On the other flank Peter was happy, despite the destruction of the English artillery. But the French were closing in.

There's a gap in the photos here - everything was too exciting. In the centre the longbows rained pointy death on the French, so their men-at arms were forced to charge forward and get stuck in as quickly as they could. It turned into a bit of a stalemate really. On the French left Gary seemed to be doing OK, and pushed them to breaking point. I wasn't paying attention as to how he did it, because I was trying to bring the French knight to bear on Caesar's wing of the English army before they were all shot down like the dogs the English claimed they were.

Having driven off the light cavalry the French turned on the main English line. Leaving the peasants to face the longbows, the knights shifted to attack the English men-at-arms

Knights kill Blades in DBA 3.0. But on a draw any Blades defined as Solid, which the English Blades were, destroy the Knights. The French knights went in - and rolled a series of draws. All we had to do was destroy one element of the English army to win - and we lost enough elements to almost push us into defeat.

But it gets worse. The last draw we rolled was our CinC. The French king rode confidently into the weak English men-at-arms and was held to a draw. Death to the King! And the French army defeated ...

... But wait! Gary saved the day! He remembered that in a big battle the CinC can, once per game, add one to a combat score after it's been rolled. With a cry of "Je ne suis pas mort!" the king got back onto his horse, ralied the knights and turned a draw into a win to sweep away the English infantry, break their command and, in doing so, break their army.

Victory to the French!

This was an excellent game, interrupted only by has still having to look up some of the fiddly detail. Whilst we play HOTT, none of us were really DBA players but DBA 3.0 has really fired us up; the changes have livened up the game and whilst keeping it the same game as before have also improved it in our view.

Some basic twelve element games were being played elsewhere. This one saw Alexander fighting what I think were Persians.

The great man himself.

And his opponent, with a fancy umbrella.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Generals in 'Liberated Hordes'

Although I've posted bits of this before I thought that it would be useful to put the rules I currently use for general in 'Liberated Hordes' into one place. Whilst they are written for that game, I'm sure they can be applied to other HOTT/DBA variants, so may help inspire someone else.

All generals are either Poor, Average or Good.

Poor - The second PIP roll of '6' this general gets during a game is immediately converted to a '1'.

Good - Once per game the general may choose to roll two dice for PIPs and use the highest score.

The principle behind these rules is that the general gets one moment during the battle where they suffer a penalty due to their indecision or incompetence, or get everything moving together in an inspired manner. It's up to them, or their opponent, to be in a position to exploit that moment.

The following are additional traits which may be added to a general of any quality. A Good general can still be a Coward, for example.

Predictable - The general's tactics are well-known to the enemy, or lack imagination. After the general has deployed his army, roll the first PIP dice. This is the score he will use when he takes his first bound. At the end of the general's bound roll the dice to see what PIPs he will have in his next bound. If he scores a ‘6’ for PIPs, then he may either keep that score, or chose to discard the roll, but roll normally for PIPs from then onwards. Note: A Poor general immediately has the second roll of '6' converted to a '1', so cannot chose to discard it.

Strategist - The general has a good eye for terrain or an ability to get his army just where he needs it to be. If you are the Defender then you only set up three of your elements. The attacker then sets up the whole of their army before you then set up the rest of yours. If you are the Attacker you may number one edge ‘1-4’, a second ‘5’ and a third ‘6’. You may completely ignore one edge.

Panicky - The general is prone to panic or confusion when things start to go wrong. At the end of any bound in which the element the general is with recoils, or in which a friendly element has been destroyed within 100p of  his element, roll a D6. On a ‘1’ the general quits the field.

Coward - The general lacks the will to fight. He counts as Panicky, but in addition an element he is with does not get the +1 to a losing combat score.

Reckless - The general leads from the front, but is prone to putting his troops into danger when doing so. The general still gives +1 to a losing score if he is with an element that is shot at. However he instead gives an element in close combat a +1 to its combat score, as with a normal HOTT general. However any non-artillery element he is with, or to which his element provides overlap or flank/rear contact support, automatically pursues if it wins a close combat. In addition the element the general is with must resolve its close combat before any other elements in the army.

The following traits apply to campaigns only, and assume the use of Demoralisation Points and Political Tokens.

Inspiring - The general can keep an army together throughout any adversity. When rolling against Demoralisation Points before a battle, add one to the roll.

Politician - The general is an astute politician, able to exploit his victories for the good of the country. When rolling to force the enemy to lose Political Tokens, subtract one from the roll.

Friday, 20 March 2015

A Great Northern Twilight

Following on from a game of 'Maurice last week, Caesar and I tried 'Twilight of the Sun-King' last night. Although I'd played a version of the original 2001 rules, neither Caesar or I had tried the 2010 v1.1 edition, so we assumed we'd be in for a slow, but interesting, learning experience.

I set up a scenario based on the Surprise Attack in 'One-Hour Wargames', itself based on Quatre Bras, but rejigged it to more closely represent the Great Northern War battle of Lesnaya. However we made the table too large so that, combined with some altered forces, we got a completely different battle of our own, inadvertent, devising.

The Swedes started with a third of their force - four units - defending the gap between two woods. The Russians got to bring on a third of their force - also four units - on the first turn, with the other two-thirds probably arriving over the next couple of turns; all reinforcements entered based on a die roll. Some of the Swedish reinforcements would come on fairly early, whilst the others would be delayed until well over halfway through the battle. The Russian objective was to capture the village in 15 turns, with breaking the Swedish army being a minor victory. The Swedes had to hold out - breaking the Russian army would be a bonus.

Caesar took the Swedes, and the first Russian troops entered the table. It was at this point we realised that the table - 4' x 4' - was probably a bit large for the game. But we decided to persevere and just see how it played out.

The initial Swedish deployment - two infantry, some cavalry and an artillery battery.

The Russian forces began to build up, moving into position in nicely organised columns.

Ever aggressive the Swedes made a preemptive strike, attacking with their horse. All of the Russian horse were classed as dragoons which meant that they could dismount. But they suffered a penalty in combat, so would be outclassed by the Swedish horse in melee.

The Russian dragoons fell back, ending up in support of a second brigade. The Swedes turned on some Russian artillery.

The Russian dragoon charged, but the Swedes held them off through some excellent morale rolls. With their general attached they could also reroll morale tests, something that proved very useful.

Meanwhile Peter I had been busy organising his infantry into supported lines, and started to put the outnumbered Swedes under pressure. The first of the Swedish reinforcements can be seen at the top of the picture.

More horse was sucked into the battle on the Russian left, but the Swedes ended up in a confused mess with units facing in all directions and failing to support each other. This offset the edge they had over the Russian dragoons who were operating in a tighter, supported, formation.

The Russian infantry plodded forward, and the Swedish infantry line dissolved. The second line started to move into position.

It was now halfway through the battle, and the village was still a long way off. However Caesar's cunning ploy of attaching his general to some horse had proved less good than he thought - the horse routed, taking his general and a useful bonus action reroll ability, with it.

The Russian horse was now pressuring the Swedish right, whilst their infantry was driving all before it.

More Swedish reinforcements! Would they be too late?

The answer was 'Yes'. As they moved into position to support the survivors of the main line as it fell back, a unit of Swedish horse broke under musketry and it's rout spread to the whole army, which quit the field.

The game took us a good chunk of the evening to play, but we found we were having to house-rule a lot of positional stuff, so future games will be faster now we know how to deal with the many situations not covered in the slim rule-book.

We did play with some changes. I used D10 throughout the game. A 6+ was a morale pass (50% chance), but with no change to the modifiers. This actually makes units slightly more resilient than in the original rules, which use 2DAV for morale, although it's true that they start out with slightly more than a 50% chance of  pass. But the D10 allows for some granularity in applying factors. Actions passed n a 4+, but the modifier for failing a morale test was increased to -2, so a unit still had a 50% chance of failure in that situation. We modified the morale test factor for artillery over 200p to cover firing by dragoons as well, reasoning that the volume of their fire was less than that of the regular infantry. However none of the Russian dragoons ever dismounted, so that change was academic.

We both enjoyed the game, and will be in a better position to run the next one more quickly and with our armies in a more organised manner.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Maipo With 'Rocket's Red Glare'

Browsing through my Flickr-stream the other day I found a set of photos of a refight of the 1818 Battle of Maipo that I'd forgotten about. Unlike other pictures I've posted here, these show it being played with a slightly amended version of the 'Rocket's Red Glare' War of 1812 rules. It was played in February 2008.

The picture should have navigation arrows left and right if you just want to look at the images. More pictures can be seen HERE and you can click through to read the extra text on them.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

History Of The World

The one on the right is allegedly mine.
Having played Risk just before Christmas we had another boardgame session with our friends Claudia and John and their two sons today. With plenty of time to play in and plenty of people we went for Gibson Games' 'History of the World', because we hadn't played it in years. I refreshed my memory of the rules - it's not a complicated game - and then we split into four offspring playing as individuals and a couple of partner swap teams among the parents, so I played with Claudia and Catherine played with John.

'History of the World' is played in seven turns, each representing an historical epoch. In each turn a player plays one of seven possible expires that came to prominence at that time. It runs from the Sumerians (the first empire of the first epoch) to Germany (the final empire of the last epoch - the nominal end of the game is 1900). After each empire has its turn it scores points for controlling regions of the world. The value of these regions varies as the game progresses - the Middle east and Southern Europe start out scoring high, but drop in value towards the end of the game, whilst Northern Europe and the Americas gain some value. India and China tend to be consistent scoring areas.

The different colours represent the different regions. Each region is split up into a number of areas. This is the board during Epoch II, which starts with the Assyrians, features the rise of the Greek city-states and ends with the Persians.

I didn't keep detailed notes of the ebb and flow of the game. Maya had a rocky start drawing two  barbarian empires in the first two turns (the Aryans and the Scythians). These start in low scoring areas and have to attack decent territory from outside. They also don't get capital cities, and those are worth points too. Cei seemed doomed to playing the game in China and India; not bad areas to control, but prone to changing hands a lot. Plus you score better if you can create a presence across the board. He did get lucky in drawing a number of minor bonus empires during the game, though, which helped him later.

I think this picture was taken during the fourth epoch. The blue counters dotted across Europe represent the extent of the Byzantine Empire. Claudia and I, playing red, had just had the first of two disastrous turns when we couldn't capture territory to save our lives, first as the Goths (who failed to make any dent on the Roman Empire) and secondly as the Holy Roman Empire who were a mere footnote in European history in this game. There's lots of green dotted over the map. That was Catherine and John, who managed to create a nice solid area in Greece early on with the Minoans and the Greek City States and then consolidated their position with the mighty Roman Empire.

Epoch VI, before the rise of the Ottoman Turks and the beginning of European overseas expansion, via the Portuguese and Spanish in this turn. The seventh and final turn is dominated by European powers - Russia, the Netherlands, France, Britan and Germany. The USA and Manchu China are also covered.

The game kept everyone interested and excited, as you can see.

In the end Catherine and John seemed to be set for a runaway victory, racking up what seemed to be an unbeatable score. But Cei came within a whisker of beating them after picking up the British in the last turn and using them to grab territory across the globe. Only some bad combats in China, which cost him a couple of precious units, prevented him from sneaking a win at the last minute.

Claudia and I finished fifth, mostly due to our poor showing in the mid-game with the empires we drew then. Over the seven epochs we played: Babylonia, Carthaginia, Macedonia, Goths, Holy Roman Empire, Portugal, Russia.

Whilst it took us nearly six hours to play (including plenty of chat and nibbles) everyone enjoyed themselves and seemed to pick up the ideas pretty quickly. And I think they'd play it again.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

One-Hour Wargames - Scenario 6 - Flank Attack (1)

For the next game in my attempt to play all of the scenarios in 'One-Hour Wargames' in order I stayed in Latin America, but switched to a different conflict. The Reform War was a civil war fought in Mexico between 1857 and 1861 between the traditionalist Conservatives and the republican Liberals. The Liberals won, but various European powers, led by France, demanded repayment of debts incurred by the previous Conservative government (incurred in fighting the Liberals in fact). Mexico's inability or unwillingness to pay them led to the French intervention - the so-called Mexican Adventure - of 1861-67.

I don't know a lot about the Reform War, but really the troops that fought in it are much the same as those that fought in the Mexican Adventure, so I could use my figures for that conflict. My 6mm figures, naturally. It's just a matter of leaving out the French, Austrians, Belgians, Sudanese and Imperial Mexican troops in the funky uniforms Emperor Maximilian designed for them.

In terms of rules I went for Liberated Hordes because it was handy and because I rather fancy adapting them for the Mexican Adventure at some stage.

I rolled the armies using the tables in the book, with the only proviso being that a second artillery unit would be infantry instead. I'm pretty sure that neither side would have been exceptionally well-endowed with artillery.

The Conservative force got three infantry, one artillery and two skirmishers, which in this setting would be irregular guerrillas. This is one of those conflicts where the boundaries between bandits, organised guerilla bands and regular troops can be a little fuzzy though.

The Liberals got four infantry, one artillery and some cavalry. I went for cavalry in uniforms - the irregular cavalry you've seen in other games would have been just as relevant.

There is a lot to be said for making most, if not all, of the troops militia. However given the vulnerability of such troops I thought that it would make the scenario too hit or miss, so I left everything as normal.

The scenario itself is loosely based on the Battle of Salamanca. So loosely, it has to be said, that I read a couple of accounts of it before I could see where Neil Thomas was coming from. One army is marching along a road towards a small force of the enemy. Their objective is to get half off their force off the table via that road. Their opponents have the small blocking force in front of the column and the remainder of their troops on the flank of the enemy. They have to attack quickly before the blocking force is overwhelmed.

When I first looked at the scenario I thought that it was based on Beda Fomm. One day I'l play it with some WWII stuff and see how it pans out.

So, the situation has a Liberal army marching to the relief of a town when they find their way blocked by a small force of Conservatives. As they prepare to give battle a dust-cloud on their right shows a considerable Conservative force attacking their flank. Battle is joined ...

The Conservatives sensibly kept their irregulars behind the cover of the hill

The flanked column actually gets to start in this scenario, putting the blocking force under immediate pressure. The Liberals attacked with their cavalry whilst some of their infantry came up in support.

Unfortunately this left the rest of their column undeployed. The Conservatives used their first moved to advance into a firing position.

Musketry claimed units on both sides and in both cases because the units couldn't retreat. In the Conservative case one unit of the blocking force recoiled off the table and in the Liberal's case the unit at what was now the head of the columns couldn't recoil because it would otherwise push the rest of the column off the other side of the table.

The Liberals attacked with their cavalry again, driving off the Conservative artillery and clearing the road. Now all they had to do was get three units off the table via the road.

The Conservatives pushed forward to pin the column more closely, even committing the guerrillas to close combat. This stopped the Liberals from rushing down the road to victory.

The Liberals had a tricky choice. Two of their units had a clear run at getting off the table. But this left them with job of pushing one of the three units in the now pinned column through a superior enemy force with no support. The compromised; the lead infantry unit marched off the table, whilst the cavalry turned back to try and clear a path for the rest of the troops.

The irregulars forced another Liberal unit to retreat off the table ...

... whilst at the other end of the road Liberal infantry totted up their first victory point. Unfortunately the cavalry sent to support the rest of the troops had proved reluctant to close with the enemy.

The Conservatives kept up the pressure, and cut down the Liberal artillery before it could deploy in support of the infantry.

The Liberals were now down to two units - the cavalry top-left and the infantry bottom-right - and had to get both of them off the table to win. This was not going to be easy.

The Conservatives moved to block a direct run down the road, then took the Liberal infantry under a steady fire. It ran.

This left the Liberals with just their cavalry and no way to win

The battle took just five turns of the fifteen allotted to it.

Despite the short length it was fun to play. But it did highlight the issue of how scenarios make certain assumptions about the rules used to play them. This game was heavily influenced by the fact that units were forced to retreat off the table edge, especially in such a tight playing-area, and also by units being pinned by enemy units - the use of threat-zones that limited movement. Neither of these issues would happen if I'd used the rules in 'One-Hour Wargames', which do not have retreating units or any restriction on movement in proximity to the enemy. In addition the Liberals, who are required to be fairly active, rolled badly for PIPs, which left some of the army vulnerable at key moments. Again, this wouldn't have happened under the 'One-Hour Wargames' rules. The lesson is that you either have to adapt the scenarios for the rules, or choose rules more suited to the scenario. For example, in this one I'd use a slightly bigger playing area, so that the armies aren't deployed right on the edge. Since exiting from the edge would now be harder to do, I'd have a vulnerable camp behind the blocking force and give the outflanked force a win if they can take it. So they still have to push along the road in force and with speed, but the number of units they do it with is less important.

I might try this one again with the OHW rules (or my variant of them) and see how it differs.

Follow the rest of the scenario refights HERE
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