Friday, 30 September 2016

Maurice - Leuthen

Gary is becoming rather adept at putting together scenarios based on historical battles for Maurice, and last night was no exception when he gave us Leuthen. Frederick's great victory was put together as a game for thee players a side, which we played to a conclusion within the evening.

The table had the Austrian flank command (made up of particularly poor troops) along the long axis, one command facing the Prussians and two others each with part of their force on table either facing the wrong way or in reserve, and the the other half as off-table reinforcements, whose entry was determined by action cards shuffled into the later part of the first deck. The Prussians had all of their troops lined up, ready to pile into the Austrians, and with an initial 3:2 advantage in numbers.

The figures are 10mm, from Pendraken, and were provided by Gary, Peter and Caesar.

Sadly the town of Leuthen had to be represented by a piece of paper and a tent, as Gary forgot his buildings and no-one else thought that they had to bring any. The Prussians would win automatically if they captured the town, otherwise it would be down to army morale.

Here we see Caesar and Peter telling off two of the Prussian commanders - Dave and Daniel - for attacking before Caesar had even managed to sort himself out a cup of tea. Out of sight to the right was Ralph, the third Prussian commander, and I was the third Austrian commander. Gary ran the game and took over Ralph's command when he had to leave.

The initial Austrian positions along the ridge, with Peter's conscripts facing the advancing Prussians, and my command around Leuthen and facing the wrong way.

The main force of Prussian infantry in fast-moving, slickly-deploying, columns and commanded by Maurice killing-machine Daniel.

A shot of my command. Badly-deployed, most of these troops wouldn't move from their positions for the rest of the game. Including the cavalry. I had elite grenadiers holding the town.

The Prussians advanced onto the ridge and then smoothly shook out into line.

And the firing started. Initially things seemed about even, and Peter's troops held the Prussian attack, but soon the Austrians' low morale and the Prussians' deadly firepower began to tell and the casualties began to mount. Holes began to appear in the Austrian line.

On the Prussian far right, Dave threw in his cavalry.

Caesar got his reinforcements on fairly quickly, and set about organising a counter to the Prussian assault.

I had assumed that Ralph would go for a direct assault on Leuthen, and moved my artillery accordingly, but he swung away from it, and deployed to hit the right of Peter's line. This left my grenadiers pretty much watching the battle for the rest of the game.

A aerial view.

And an extreme aerial view (with selfie) taken later in the game, after Ralph had gone.

Ralph's Prussians formed up and hammered away at Peter's Austrians ...

.. but my reinforcements arrived, and formed up in support.

However the centre of our position had now collapsed, and we were left with organising counterattacks from the flanks.

A view from the other end of the table shows Caesar organising his troops , and Dave's cavalry attacking strongly.

He even managed to organise a massed charge, something quite tricky in Maurice.

The morale points for both sides were now getting quite low. Although the Prussians were doing well, they had started with fewer units on table, so the Austrians had a few potential losses in hand over them. At this stage both sides pretty much had 6-7 points each, with a lost unit knocking 1-3 points from that total. So a bold attack by either side could swing the game.

And it was the Prussians who made it, breaking the Austrian army with a few morale points of their own still in hand.

Gary organised yet another excellent, and very close, scenario, with the Austrian players feeling like they could pull off a victory right until the end. I understand that there was a little bit of tweaking to make the battle playable - fewer Prussians than perhaps there should have been, for example - but it certainly had the right feel, with our troops desperately trying to organise a defence against an attack from an unexpected direction. Eve with all of those troops in play, we managed to set up and complete the game in under four hours as well, which isn't bad going.

The next time you see these figures, they will be fighting under Black Powder. It will be interesting to see how the two games compare.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Last Of The V8 Interceptors

Last year I picked up this ...

... and in the space of an hour or so, converted it to this.

To the casual eye there's no denying the inspiration, but it still irked me that it wasn't as close to the iconic car from the film as it could be. So the other day I hacked it about a bit more.

I removed the large spoiler on the back, trimmed it down and attached it to the roof above the auxiliary fuel tanks. I then built a smaller spoiler to attach to the rear of the vehicle. Finally I used card to create some more distinctive headlamps.

The result is still not exactly like Max's car, but given that the car has a different appearance in each of the three films in which it appears I'm not too concerned. To me it looks better than it did before, even if the fuel tanks aren't quite right.

With the car remodelled, I thought I would give it an outing. I added in one small change. The games I played over the weekend showed that there was a slight flaw in the way things worked if the pursuing vehicles got in front of the target. In the original Machinas chase rules there are an unlimited number of reinforcements that can appear during the course of the game, triggered by the random events. I allow vehicles which get in front of the target to extend the length of the chase, thus increasing the chance that the reinforcements will appear. However in the setup I am trialling for MOAB, the number of pursuers is fixed, so if they get ahead of the target it has less effect. Vehicles can drop back, it's true, but it's fairly easy for the target to prevent this, thus leading to a situation where they can happily sit behind their pursuers knowing that eventually time will run out. It doesn't make for a very interesting game.

My thought was to allow the lead vehicles to set the pace of the chase, albeit in an abstract way. If the pursuers can get one or more vehicles ahead of their prey then they can slow the chase and eventually halt the target, forcing, in game terms, a win. The target should be given an incentive - a strong incentive - to try and either stay in front, or to pass or destroy vehicles in front of it.

To this end I have added the following::

"The pursued vehicle starts with a Chase Momentum of 1D6+6. At the end of each turn roll a die for the pursued vehicle. If the pursued vehicle is not the lead vehicle, and didn’t attempt a pass or a drop-back during the turn, then subtract the score from the Chase Momentum. Otherwise add the score to the Chase Momentum. If the score drops below 0 then the target has been brought to a halt and is captured."

Now the pursuers have the option of winning the chase by getting in front of their target, and staying there, whilst the target has to balance sitting tight, and building up bonus dice, with making some attempt, from time to time, to pass or engage its pursuers. Letting a fast motorcycle get in front of you is now very bad, unless you have a cunning plan for passing it.

So on with the game. I put Max in his V8 Interceptor, and randomly rolled to see which particular pair of ne'er-do-wells would be chasing him today. It turned out to be the spiky ram-car Rock Lobster and the gun-car Mr Apollo.

The chase began ...

Rock Lobster prepared to move in for a bash, but a wreck on the road caused the driver to swerve and the chance was lost.

Rock Lobster evaded the wreck.

And so did Mr Apollo.

Rock Lobster tried again ...

... but Max held him off, throwing some scrap metal across the road and causing Rock Lobster to fight for control.

Rock Lobster settled in behind the Interceptor in order to build up some momentum for another attack.

Another wreck on the road!

Mr Apollo was force to abort an attack to avoid it.

He swerved off the road for a while ...

... then back on, lining up his grenade-launcher for a shot.

Max saw him coming, and swung the Interceptor across the road, spoiling the shot.

Mr Apollo closed in again ...

... but this time Max floored the accelerator and the Interceptor easily kept a safe distance between himself and his pursuer.

The pursuers tried a new strategy. Mr Apollo would continue to try lining up a shot, whilst Rock Lobster would pull ahead to control the pace of the chase. Once he was ahead, Rock Lobster's spikes would make trying to pass him a risky proposition for Max.

Mr Apollo closed up again ...

... but Max held him off, and more scrap metal spikes almost saw Mr Apollo lose control.

But Rock Lobster was closing up on the other side; its driver pushing the car to its limits.

But it wasn't enough; the Interceptor's powerful engine kept it ahead, and more scrap metal caused Rock Lobster to drop back. Demoralised, both cars broke off the pursuit.

ROAR! Max speeds off into the sunset.

This game just shows how random Machinas can be. Max rolled two wrecks on the road in the random events phase, both of which prevented his pursuers from lining up attacks. However he also rolled the Reinforcements event three times which, in a normal chase would have brought on three extra pursuing vehicles but in this game merely increased the chance the the current vehicles would stay in the chase. As it was, on the last turn they each needed a 5 or better on 2D6 to continue the pursuit. They both rolled a 4.

You'll notice that, after designing and writing up a new rule, I never got to use it. So I guess it will get tested on Saturday.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Machinas Chases

It's been a while since I've played Machinas, so I thought I'd better brush up on the rules before MOAB next weekend, as we're hoping to run a few games on the Saturday.

I have been looking at a simple chase set-up, with some pre-generated targets, run by me, being chased by two or three scavenger vehicles, run by a player. Last year I tried it with the player as the target, but the target doesn't really get too many decisions to make, so this year I thought I'd swap it around and see how it goes. If more than one person wants to play then they can all take a group of scavengers, but only the player who takes out the target actually wins, so knocking out your allies in the name of competition would be more than encouraged.

Anyway, I randomly rolled a setup, and got my 1930's hobo roadster, Tom Sawyer being chased by a gang of three bikes.

Two of the bikes mounted decent guns, whilst the third was an interference vehicle whose role was to get in front of the target and control the pace of the pursuit.

The chase opened with one of the bikes closing up on Tom Sawyer.

Unfortunately the roadster mounts a big machine-gun which faces to its rear. The bike's rider wasn't up to getting out of the line of fire, and a hail of bullets shredded the vehicle and its crew before they could line up their shot.

The second armed bike closed in. The roadster initially held it off ...

... but on the second attempt it scored a damaging hit on Tom Sawyer.

The interference bike shot forward off-road, and a second burst from the other bike saw the roadster swerve back. Both bikes were now ahead of their target; not an ideal position.

The bikes attempted to drop back.

But a lack of concentration saw then swerve too close to each other.

The rider of the gun-bike swerved, losing ground.

Now behind the roadster he was in a perfect position to resume the attack, but his nerves were shaken and he broke off the pursuit.

This just left the unarmed interference bike in play. The roadster tried to run it off the road, but it was too agile.

However its rider also lacked nerve, and he too broke off the pursuit.

Tom Sawyer lived to drive another day, albeit with some bullet-holes in his bodywork.

A second chase saw the armoured tanker Industrial Disease being pursued by the flame-thrower toting Anarchist and a companion on a trike. The companion was armed with Molotov cocktails.

The trike went straight into the attack.

But despite the trike's greater speed, its rider misjudged his attack, and the tanker's driver swung his wheel to the right, crushing the vehicle.

The Anarchist barely avoided the flaming wreckage of his companion, but kept up the pursuit.

With his flamethrower primed, he positioned himself for his run.

Engine roaring, he manoeuvred onto the tail of the tanker ...

... but he too misjudged it, and the tanker swung into his path. However the car is made of stronger stuff than the bike, and held off the attack, with much scraping of paint and grinding of metal.

The Anarchist prepared for another pass.

This time he got in his shot, scorching the tanker's armour.

However he couldn't get into position for another attack after that, and a couple of turns later gave up the chase.

The games ticked along nicely, and I think the basic setup should work on the day. My aim is to make the targets just a little tougher, individually, than their pursuers, so that the chase is more of a challenge and won't necessarily end on the first attack.

I also used these games as a chance to try out my massive modifications to the weapons and equipment in Machinas, as well as some changes to how interactions with vehicles behind you work, as the more I play this game the more I realise that the rules for tail guns and dropping back weren't really that well thought out. I'll write more about my changes in another post.

I'll take along all my vehicles, of course; last year we finished the day with a fine race, and it would be nice to do that again.
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