Friday, 29 July 2016


MOAB is looming large on the horizon, so last night we thought that we'd better start fitting in a few games of 36AP HOTT in preparation. I haven't decided on an army for this year, but I put something together from my Barsoom collection - the army of Helium with Green Martian allies.

In the first game I played Geoff, who was using a pretty generic medieval army - Knights, Blades, a few Shooter, a few Riders and a Paladin

36AP does not favour armies with aerials, since it still uses 1D6 for PIPs, and there's never enough to go around even for basic troops. But I had an aerial wing nevertheless. Geoff opposed it with his crossbows.

Splitting the aerial up probably wasn't a good move, but I had a cunning plan, and only required one, half-decent, PIP roll with which to implement it.

I didn't get it; for seven bounds I failed to roll above a 3 for PIPs, and only got one 3. The bulk of the fighting was therefore done by my solid line of Blades, who were facing Geoff's equally solid line of Blades.

Blades vs Blades equals lots of shoving back and forth.

Geoff had a group of Knights and Riders on one flank. He had to work them past some bad going fields, but my lack of PIPs meant her was able to do it before my Green Martian allies (Knights, and a single Hero) were able to take advantage of his vulnerability. Even so, they made a bold attack on his flank.

With my aerials being whittled down by Geoff's missile troops, John Carter was forced to head over to my other flank in order to sort things out.

The Green Martian flank attack had some success, but without PIPs it petered out. Tars Tarkas, the Green Martian Hero, moved into to position to just cover the flank.

He was attacked by Geoff's Paladin, and killed.

The rest of the Green Martians came over to avenge their fallen Jeddak.

But they were too late. Geoff's army broke through the Red Martian line, and the Martians routed.

In fact although the Martians had lost half of their AP, they had pushed their opponents close to their breakpoint as well. A few decent PIP rolls at a couple of critical moments could have seen them pull off a victory.

In my next game I faced an Ancient Greek army under Peter. There were no real fantasy elements in this at all - just Spears, Riders, Knights, a handful of Shooters and an elephant Behemoth.

Again my aerials were opposed by enemy missile troops, and they pretty much just eyed each other up for the whole of the game.

The main battle was on my right, where the Green Martians faced the Greek cavalry, and their elephant.

The mighty Martians slaughtered their human foes, helped by Peter's appalling combat rolls. And Tars Tarkas killed the elephant.

What a great thing to write. I shall write it again. Tars Tarkas killed the elephant.

In the centre the armies met on a hill, with the edge the Martian Blades had being offset by the Greeks being upslope. Again, there was lots of shoving back and forth.

But on my right the Green Martians were having it all their own way. With one flank collapsed, and a stalemate in the centre and on the other flank, Peter conceded. Without extraordinary luck there was little he could really do to salvage the game.

I do like the look and scope of the 36AP games, but it really does penalise armies with more than one aerial element, or anything else which could be PIP-heavy. I suspect that I will be steering clear of massed aerials in October.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Yet more gladiator testing? Does this man have nothing better to do?

Well, these games are pretty quick. That's my excuse. And this mini-campaign was the very tiniest of mini-campaigns. I used Artemisia, who has a sword, light armour a small shield and no helmet. She counts as a light gladiator, so under the Rules of the Arena (in my house) she will only fight those gladiators classed a medium or heavy.

I selected suitable foes for her from amongst my female gladiators, looking to have a bit of a Ladies' Night.

Her first opponent was Marpesia, who was armed and armoured in a similar fashion, but had a helmet. This made her less manoeuvrable, but better protected. Like Artemisia, Marpesia had no skills. Both gladiators smacked each other about, but it was Artemisia who finally fell wounded and sought the crowd's mercy. They liked her, and she lived to fight another day.

Her next opponent was Hippolyte, who had a large shield and a helmet to go with her armour and sword. She was also unskilled, but unlucky dice saw her start with a significantly higher stamina than Artemisia.

Artemisia used her edge in manoeuvre to good advantage. When Hippolyte stumbled, the nimble gladiator slipped round behind her and struck her a terrible blow. It left her bleeding heavily, but she kept fighting.

The fight ranged from one side of the arena to the other. Disaster struck for Artemisia when her sword broke, but she kept fighting, using her shield to push Hippolyte against the arena wall. A mighty blow almost downed her opponent, but she was still left with one wound. She struck back, knocking Atermisia's shield from her hand.

Artemisia was now wounded and her low stamina also meant she was tired as well. She couldn't get to her shield before Hippolyte, stumbling with exhaustion herself, sidestepped and ran her through, killing her instantly.

And that was it. Artemisia lasted two bouts. But I liked her style. We'll see how the Artemisia of a different universe fares another day.

The Coat

There is no wargames content in this post at all. If that's what you came here for, find another post.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a query about a greatcoat I'd bought at a market in Sydney. Since it appears that I have a couple of fashionistas in my readership, here it is, with its new front buttons.

They are basic gold-coloured buttons with an anchor design; the cheapest thing I could find with the right look at of the right size.

The red lining adds a nice touch of colour to the proceedings.

It's taken me a couple of weeks to get these pictures because, having put the buttons on, the weather warmed up to such a degree that wearing a coat was a complete no-no. Today was the first day that it was cold enough to justify it.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Ellenikos Again

This evening I continued Ellenikos's career in the arena. So far he had fought five bouts, winning four and getting a draw in his fifth.

A few weeks after his epic fight with Telemonius he found himself facing his first truly dangerous opponent - Crixus. Armed with a sword and small shield, Crixus was a veteran of a number of bouts in the arena, and had the skills to prove it - Stamina, Agile, Defend and Veteran. Ellenikos was definitely the underdog in this fight.

Ellenikos went for the aggressive approach, and got in a good early hit, wounding Crixus. But Crixus was a veteran of the arena. he bided his time, and soon knocked Ellenikos down. From that moment our hero was on the back-foot.

He was backed against the arena wall, and with no room to manoeuvre was soon forced to yield. The fight had been entertaining, though - plenty of blood and fancy moves. The crowd were merciful.

Unfortunately things didn't get any better. After a period of recovery Ellenikos was put forward for a rematch with Cupido. However since their last meeting Cupido had acquired a seriously good reputation in the arena, and was one of the best gladiators in Rome - Veteran, Tactician, Stamina, Defend and Crowd-Pleaser were his skills. All Ellenikos could bring to the party was Agile and Attack.

Ellenikos once again scored the first wound - just a scratch, but a good start.

Cupido retaliated by catching Ellenikos in his net.

Try as he might, Ellenikos couldn't cut free. He put up a desperate fight ...

... but Cupido forced him to appeal to the crowd. The fact that he had wounded Cupido was all that saved him. He survived ... just.

It seemed, however, that the mob really enjoyed the bout (and, to be fair, this short write-up doesn't to credit to how tense and exciting it actually was). When Ellenikos recovered from his wounds, they asked for a rematch.

Cupido didn't mess around in this fight. Ellenikos was swiftly entangled again.

Before he could escape, Cupido sidestepped, and thrust with his trident. It went straight into Ellenikos's heart, and he breathed his last as his blood spilled onto the sand of the arena.

And that was it for Ellenikos. At least he fell to a straight kill, rather than via the whims of the baying crowd.

The 'campaign' lasted eight bouts. Ellenikos won four, lost three and drew one. He never became highly skilled or truly famous, but his fights were all entertaining.

This was a useful exercise in trying out the new skills, however, as they really came to the fore in the last three bouts. Both Veteran and Tactician allow a player to adjust the combat dice after they are rolled; Tactician swapping the dice and Veteran flipping one dice. They only work against a foe with fewer skills. Ellenikos was on the receiving end of both skills, and would have purchased one of them himself had he lived long enough.

Sunday, 24 July 2016


This evening I decided to run a linked series of 'Munera Sine Missione' games in order to test out not only the weapon changes but also the adjustments to skills (including two new ones - Veteran and Tactician).

I used the system I outlined in this post in order to determine opponents and how skilled they were. However I made sure that the pool of possible opponents incuded the weapons which needed to be tested. Since these include the two parrying weapons - the scissor and the arbelas - I needed to make sure that my chosen gladiator had a long weapon. To that end I chose Ellenikos, who is armed with a long spear, carries a small shield and wears an enclosed helmet and light armour.

In his very first bout he faced the scissor-wielding Mordax. A wrong move with his spear here could see him deftly disarmed. It happened once, but Ellenikos used the morale-boosting effect of the cheers of the crowd to sidestep and recover it.

In a swift bout he downed Mordax, forcing to appeal to the crowd for mercy. They granted it.

This gave Ellenikos a skill. With the spear being disadvantaged at close range, I chose Attack in order to offset this.

As with the previous campaign, you can assume that a sufficient period of time - weeks at least - has passed between each bout to allow Ellenikos to recover and train.

In his second bout he faced the unskilled retiarius, Cupido. This was a scrappy fight, with both gladiators flailing away at each other with little effect. Cupido was the more inept, though, and his limited armour meant that he was slowly wounded to the point where he had to appeal for mercy. The bored crowd couldn't be bothered and let him live.

Ellenikos didn't get a skill from that bout. In his third bout he faced the barbarian Andromache - unarmoured except for a large shield, and wielding a sword. She had the Defend skill, which offset our hero's Attack.

This fight ranged across the arena, and both gladiators seriously wounded each other. Ellenikos eventually knocked his foe to the ground with his shield, and she was forced to appeal. The crowd thought about it for a bit, but decided she had been entertaining and let her live.

Ellenikos scored a second skill from that bout, and chose Agile, on the grounds that he'd been rolling a lot of ones for AP.

His fourth bout saw him up against the little murmillo, Pugnax. Pugnax was unskilled, and the result was inevitable; Ellenikos outmanoeuvred him and outfought him whilst barely raising a sweat. His armour and shield protected him for a while, but it was soon all over. Badly wounded, Pugnax was forced to appeal, but the crowd weren't interested. he was dispatched.

Again there was no skill from that bout. In his fifth bout the odds finally caught up with Ellenikos, and he ended up facing a gladiator more skilled than he was; the formidable arbelas, Telemonius. This was another gladiator with a parrying weapon, but he was also well-protected with armour.

This was a long fight. Both gladiators ended up seriously wounded, and as it dragged on they became more and more tired.

Sadly I was then called away from the game, but I decided that it would be fair at that stage to call it a draw, assuming that the referee stopped it.

Ellenikos has now survived five bouts, and has both the Attack and Agile skill. For his next skills I will start using the two new ones, Veteran and Tactician. In the final bout Telemonius actually had Tactician, but never got a good opportunity to use it; it's a once per game skill, and a suitable opportunity never presented itself.

I will try and continue the campaign tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Gladiator Testing

I've been running a few gladiatorial bouts this evening. MOAB is coming up in October and, once again, we will be running some games of 'Munera Sine Missione' on the Saturday. Over the last year or so Victor and I have been coming up with more tweaks and changes to the rules to make them even better than before, but they need some fine-tuning. I'd like to have a new version of the game available by MOAB, so testing is required.

What will you be seeing? Well, there will be some streamlining of the weapon definitions. Some of them are redundant, and others could do with a rewrite. The end result should see more consistency in how they work, and fewer special cases to remember.

We have also been looking at ways of toning down the effects of two of the criticals, either of which can pretty much end a fight straight away. We think we have a solution now, which balances the need for there to be some form of instant disaster (because it's fun) against games ending abruptly on a single die-roll.

Dirty tricks is another area we are working on. Your gladiators can already work the crowd to gain adulation, which then propels them to greater feats. But we also liked the idea of gladiators who cheat their way to victory, even though it earns the hostility of the mob and risks them being disqualified (or worse) by the referee.

There are a number of smaller tweaks ongoing as well, some of which you'll probably only notice by reading the rules carefully. But trust me, they'll be awesome.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Saga Bridges

We played another four handed game of Saga last night with Anglo-Danes and Normans on one side and Anglo-Danes and Welsh on the other. We played the bridge scenario which involves trying to have more points of your troops on the enemy side of a river than they have on yours. Because of the larger size of this game (two 4pt warbands on each team) we had two bridges, and a tricky ford in the middle.

Most of the pictures will feature my side of the table, where I had the Welsh and faced the Normans. The Normans had a mob of levy archers, who did fearful execution on the doughty Welsh warriors. But eventually Welsh bards taunted their Norman foes into charging across the bridge, where they were met with a hail of arrows froom the Welsh levy bow.

The Normans were forced into rough going in order to attack; a withdrawal would have invited more arrows, so it was the lesser of two evils on their part. The levy held them, and left one survivor. The survivor fled back across the bridge, narrowly avoiding an arrow in the back.

Meanwhile on the other side of the field, two Anglo-Dane warbands faced off. In the foreground is Caesar's, allied with the Welsh. Gary's crosses the bridge in the background. Caesar came off worse in this fight, seemingly unable to move a lot of his troops when needed and stuck with trying to prevent Gary's incursion from gaining a foothold.

Top right you can see Gary's plan in action; a strong force of hearthguard crossed the river, then tucked themselves into a corner away from the main fight, whilst the rest of the warband kept Caesar occupied. The hearthguard were exhausted, but it didn't matter; they were bodies on the victory side of the river, and Caesar couldn't exploit their weakened state.

Meanwhile the Normans, under John P, got their act together and charged across the river, bypassing the levy bow and sweeping into some Welsh warriors. In a brisk fight they caused fearful casualties, although at some loss to themselves.

That lot of horsemen were finally defeated by the Welsh warlord. But he fell to the next wave.

Finally the Norman warlord charged the Welsh levy. They stood no chance against such a mighty warrior, especially with their own warlord dead.

It was pretty much over at that point. Caesar's Anglo-Danes were either dead or immobile ...

... and the Welsh were all dead aside from one small group of hearthguard who sneaked across the ford in the middle to claim a moral, if not actual, victory. Sadly the AngloDane/Norman Alliance could claim a very solid immoral victory. Or amoral. Take your pick.

Caesar forgot his Special Saga Dice, so was very proud of how he used normal six-sided dice instead. One of the issues I have with Saga is the Special Dice, so this was excellent to see. He wanted me to take this photo.

Once again thanks to everyone who provided figures and organisation.
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