Friday, 31 March 2017

Thursday HOTT

After missing two weeks due, firstly, to the Rainstorm of the Apocalypse and secondly, to going to a stand-up show (as an audience member, not a participant), I finally got back down to the Gong Garage Gamer last night. We played HOTT; a 48AP game using Geoff's 15mm figures on 60mm frontages. The armies were Dave and I, using some Middle Earth derived force, against Geoff and Caesar, using Ancient Greeks.

Here we are, all deployed. Dave's wing is out of shot to the left.

We started off well. Caesar pushed his general too far forward, and got attacked by my warriors who were supported by an eagle. His general died. However this wasn't enough to break his command.

Geoff brought the army's hero general over, and dealt with the eagles, and my attempt to finish off Caesar's command stalled.

Dave was advancing slowly on Geoff's wing.

Despite a PIP shortage caused by having no general, Caesar made good use of the dragon he brought on (the multi-coloured hydra in the distance), and my casualties began to mount.

I didn't take any pictures after that one. We managed to ensorcell Geoff's hero general as well; their army's CinC. However his loss wasn't enough to defeat their army, so the battle continued. My command went demoralised and my magician general was killed. This released their hero from his enchantment, and he came close to capturing our stronghold. However I also failed to rally the surviving elements in my command, which fled the field and broke our army

This was a close game, which could ave gone either way. Caesar made great use of his dragon, and Geoff's use of his hero on the opposite flank to his ow troops also helped swing the battle in their favour.

Dave and Caesar then played a 24AP game using my Weirdstone of Brisingamen matched pair.

Once again Caesar pushed his genera (the wizard) forward into peril.

He carved his way through the opposing Morthbrood.

His hero met the enemy behemoth.

What happened next I can't remember. I actually can't remember who won. I know it was very close, but after less than 12 hours, all memory of the final result has slipped my mind.

There was an ending, of that I am sure.

Monday, 27 March 2017

ECW Scum

Regular readers of this blog will remember that last month I did some playtesting for a new game by Nordic Weasel called 'Scum Of The Earth'. These rules are designed for small black powder actions using small numbers of figures. The use simple D6 mechanisms and are designed to give a quick and relatively simple game.

Well, the rules were published last week, and I bought and downloaded a copy. As well as the basic rules that I'd help playtest, there were extras for unit experience, period specific amendments and even a set of campaign rules. For the money it's an excellent little package. The rules themselves are pretty clear, with no real issue that I've found so far.

Anyway, I've been really slack at playing games recently, so I thought I'd give them a whirl, if only to show you all I'm still alive and blogging. Whilst they are obviously written with a Napoleonic era style game in mind, the period specific rules cover the English Civil War right through to the opening stages of WW1. The specifics are very basic, but like a lot of Nordic Weasel rules, the section is designed to be organic, with amendments and updates to be expected as players feed their experiences back into the game. The mechanisms are simple enough to stand all kinds of adjustments and tweaking.

Having playtested them in with games set in the South American Wars of Liberation and the US-Mexican War (no, I didn't blog those ones), I decided to go to the very beginning and give them a whirl with the paper ECW armies.

I set up the introductory scenario the rules offer - three infantry and a cavalry unit on each side, with a hill and some rough terrain in the middle of the board. The Parliamentarian troops are on the left and the Royalists on the right. I didn't apply any army specific traits (no reckless Royalist cavalry or better armed Parliamentarians), but I did make two infantry units on each side Amateur to add a little bit of interest. This meant that there was a chance they wouldn't act each turn.

The Parliamentarian moved first and advanced cautiously trying to stay in line. Movement in Scum of the Earth is random, so keeping a group of units under control takes a little bit of finesse. Their cavalry pushed ahead rapidly, getting an extra boost when one of the Royalist units hesitated in its move.

The Parliamentarians got themselves into a useful position, with one unit in the cover of the hedges around the field (I assumed the fields were rough going with a surrounding hedge).

The cavalry engaged, and the Royalists were pushed back.

Royalist infantry came up in support of their horse, but their musketry was mostly ineffective.

The Royalist cavalry counter-attacked, but were driven off again, and routed.

The Parliamentarian follow-up put them on the flank of the Royalist infantry

With their cavalry pinning the Royalist right flank in place, their infantry pushed forward. On their left the Royalists had formed one of their units into an attack formation, with pikes to the fore (the counter with an arrow). Their plan was to use the additional movement to push across the fields and attack the Parliamentarians behind the hedge.

However a close target presented itself and they assaulted the Parliamentarian centre instead.

The Royalists were thrown back.

A to-and-fro fight developed in the centre.

The Parliamentarian cavalry fell back on their left, as the Royalist infantry was able to use reaction moves to turn and face the threat. In this period cavalry are limited as to when they can frontally charge pike-armed infantry.

More infantry combat saw both sides take casualties.

Meanwhile the cavalry routed back under fire.

The Parliamentarian infantry pushed across the field and managed to rout one of their Royalist opposite numbers.

The Parliamentarians kept up the attack, but were suffering heavy casualties.

Their cavalry fled the field altogether.

The scenario ran for six turns, and was scored on casualties. It was a draw; although the Royalists had lost two of their four units routed off the field, they two survivors were virtually undamaged whilst although the Parliamentarians had only lost one unit, the others were all seriously battered.

This wasn't too difficult a game to play, although I did forget a few things from time to time, mostly to do with timing of reaction moves and counter-attacks.

I think I could enjoy this game, and have decided to add it to my Six By Six Challenge list. Given its nature I will be dropping Black Powder which, to be honest, was only on the list in order to force me to play it. These rules may turn out to be no better, but I think I will have more fun finding out. However given that I also have a set of pike and shot rules in my list, I will try and steer clear of ECW games with these rules for a while, and try a different era. To be true to the challenge I won't retrospectively include any previous games I've played.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Daenerys Targaryen Debut

Having missed Thursday night's wargaming because my wife wouldn't let me out into the Rainstorm of the Apocalypse, I was keen to get in some gaming this weekend when Caesar invited me around to his place for some HOTT. I took my new Daenerys Targaryen army with me, since it was still unblooded. Caesar used Prester John, which happened to be sharing the same box.

Lots of nibbles!
Prester John defended, and Caesar laid plenty of woods to slow down the Targaryen dragons, who arrived very promptly.

The armies closed through the gaps in the woods. In the centre the Unsullied faced Prester John's knights, whilst on the one flank Prester John's native allies and the war-elephant moved to counter the Dothraki riders.

The Unsullied advanced, with the dragons moving up in support.

The first combat was on the flank, as the Dothraki held off an attack by the elephant and the natives.

Daenerys led her dragons behind Prester John's army, ready to turn any retreats into fiery routs. First to fall were the native allies.

Prester John's knights charged the Unsullied, who held firm.

The dragons moved in behind the knights ...

... and a push from the Unsulied saw them all destroyed, along with Prester John himself.

A victory for Daenerys Targaryen in her first game.

In the second game Caesar defended with Prester John again, in an equally dense terrain.

Daenerys's forces swung around to surround those of the African legend.

Once again the Unsullied bore the brunt of the attack, with the knights scoring one breakthrough. But the Unsullied had reserves to counter it, and the attack was held.

Heroic fighting saw the knights driven back, and Prester John isolated from his army. He was killed.

More Unsullied fell to the elephant, but others drove it back into the woods where, in its panic, it trampled some native allies before falling to a surprise attack by some lurking slaves.

The loss of both their elephant and their general saw Prester John's army break again.

This was a great opening for the Targaryen army, with two wins in two games, even if they were against the increasingly unlucky forces of Prester John.

Thanks to Caesar for tea, nibbles and a tour of his new mansion.

This marks my first 6x6 Challenge game of March - a game of HOTT using a new army.

6x6 - Game 1.3

Monday, 13 March 2017

Tales of the Arabian Nights

We had another family boardgames session on Saturday, getting together with our friends to play the 1985 edition of 'Tales of the Arabian Nights'

As you might expect, this is a boardgame based on the 1001 Nights, where each player plays an adventurer travelling the world in search of fame, fortune, adventure and to seek their destiny. It is driven by The Book of Tales, and is essentially a massive Choose Your Own Adventure book with tons of added chrome. There's not a massive amount of skill required, and player interaction is limited as well, but the colour and attention to the theme make it enormously entertaining.

We had nine people, and it's only a six-player game, so some of us played in teams. We took Abu Hasan, and made him a cerebral chap, wise and knowledgeable and always willing to converse with others who had wisdom. You choose skills at the start of the game, and these will tend to drive your decisions, but you can also build a character by consistently choosing 'in character' responses to encounters; where we conversed, honoured and aided our encounters, a rogue might rob, attack or trick them, each getting different stories.

We wandered Asia for a while, before our destiny took us into Africa. There we picked up a clue to the whereabouts of the fabled City of Brass, but were curse to wander at the whim of another and ended up back in Asia. A strange encounter with some snakes, combined with our knowledge of their behaviour, led us to the incredible Valley of Diamonds, where, after some adventures, we acquired fabulous wealth.

Things were looking good for us, but Eric had also been having great adventures as well. A famous seafarer, he had wandered the Indian Ocean where he fell in with a beggar and a wizard who were both on dangerous personal quests. They put him on the path to his true destiny, and he entered the famous Dusky Land, wherein dwell the djinnis and ifrits, eventually rising to become their Sultan. With his new-found mighty status, he returned to Baghdad as the winner.

With six player the game took a while to play - I am the only one familiar with it, so had to teach it as we went along. But everyone enjoyed reading out the result paragraphs to other players, and there was much building on the stories created. We had fun and laughter.

We finished the session with a game of Love Letter: Premium Edition, which adds sufficient new cards (with new abilities) to allow up to eight players. This was entertaining as well, although the fact that none of us had ever used the new cards before made some of the strategy a little unclear. Eric won that as well.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Battle of Balnibarbi

When Swift edited and published Lemuel Gulliver's account of his various travels in 1726, the British government read them with interest. Here were a whole range of new nations with who trade links could be opened up. Of special interest to them was the island of Balnibarbi, which offered a combination of innovative thinkers, exportable agriculture and a tyrant king who could be overthrown and replaced with a British-friendly ruler.

So in 1727 a naval expedition was dispatched to Balnibarbi, consisting of a man o'war, a frigate and a troop transport.

Since Gulliver's visit, the people of Balnibarbi had upped their game when it came to resisting their king. Famous for their scientific thinkers, the 'projectors', they decided to put their mighty brains to work looking at ways of fighting back. Vessels were built, powered by innovation and Science!, and each equipped with an ivory tower. The projecters were left to innovate and create whatever weaponry they could devise. What could go wrong?

When the British naval expedition arrived, they were met by a flotilla of Balnibarbian vessels. The Balnibarbians had even mastered flight, and had an ornithopter accompanying their force.

Their king was not happy with this new alliance, and moved to attack the Balnibarbians with Laputa, his flying island. The Laputans had not been idle since Gulliver's visit; the island was accompanied by a war-balloon and an armoured galleon.

Others were unhappy at British interference in the area. The Coast Brotherhood, the world's most dangerous coalition of Pyrates, dispatched two of their members, Sheba the She-Wolf and Firebeard, to sort the issue out. They quickly allied with the Laputans, and also found favour with the magician of Glubbdubdrib, who summoned a crew of spectral pirates to accompany them.

And so battle was joined for another Thursday evening game of Galleys & Galleons. On one side, Dave and I played the British/Balnibarbian Alliance. The British force were conventional sailing vessels, whereas the Balnibarbians had a mix of exotic weaponry and ships powered by unorthodox means. Against the were Casar, running the Laputans and their massive flying island, and Daniel, who took the Pyrates (with a 'y').

The battle opened with the Balnibarbians moving to engage the Pyrates. However the exotic propulsion caused them some issues actually getting their ships into position. And, in this case, bringing a mighty bronze ramming spike into play on Sheba's ship.

The ornithopter had more success, with its little gun damaging Sheba's rigging. One of the other Balnibarbians vessels used its scientifically-aimed guns to shoot at Sheba's ship, damaging it and putting a rip in her leopard-print catsuit. Sulking she retired below decks and refused to command any further.

Meanwhile the Laputans were moving up on the British, who were stuck upwind of their Balnibarbian allies and, indeed, the rest of the action. The Balnibarbian ornithoper took a minor hit, but its pilot was a craven coward, and ditched his aircraft in the sea in response.

The massive island began firing on the naval vessels, who struggled to get into a good position to fight back. A lucky hit from the man o'war did damage the island's propulsion, however, locking it into its current speed. However Caesar rolled like a demon, causing a mass of critical hits on the Navy, killing all of their captains, damaging rigging and smashing rudders.

The Navy's frigate collided with Sheba's ship. Sheba survived unscathed. The frigate sank.

Chaos! To the left the Balnibarbians were still having trouble bringing their vessels into action. Laputa was flying slowly off the board, unable to change course fast enough to stop it. The Pyrates were spread out, with Sheba firing long-range shots from one side, and Firebeard moving along the bottom of the picture. The spectral pyrates took little part in the action. The British were now utterly battered by the island of Laputa, and were being finished off by the war-balloon's bombs and the armoured galleon. In the centre one of the Banibarbian vessels was burning. It burned to the waterline, and sank.

Firebeard madly led his crew into a boarding action against the Navy's man o'war and, in a brisk fight, captured it. Aaaaarrrr!

In a nice bookend, the Balnibarbian ram once again failed to get close enough to Sheba to ram her. At that point we called an end to the game, with the Laputan/Pyyrate Alliance having secured a decisive victory. The Royal Navy lost a three ships, struck, boarded or sunk. The Balnibarbians lost their ornithopter and one of their ships. The Laputans and Pyrates, whilst damaged, lost nothing.

This was great fun to research, devise and set up, with tons of weird and wonderful traits and rules in play and a mix of different tactical options for the ships. Laputa is a very powerful piece, but is unwieldy and can be vulnerable to criticals.

I guess that what you really want to see are the stats for the ships. Each force was roughly 175pts


Q5 C6 - 72pts - Pilot, Airship, Steam Engine, Flagship, Bombs, Heavy Bow Chasers, Heavy Stern Chasers, Reinforced Hull, High Castles, Sluggish

Bomb Balloon
Q3 C2 - 34pts - Airship, Square Rigged, Unarmed, Bombs, Bombardier

Armoured Galleon
Q3 C4 - 68pts - Square Rig, Ironclad, Master Gunner


Small Experimental Vessel 1
Q3 C3 - 50pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, Ramming, High Castles, Unarmed

Small Experimental Vessel 2
Q3 C3 - 50pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, Fiery Blast, High Castles, Unarmed

Large Experimental Vessel
Q3 C4 - 58pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, High Castles, Unarmed, Heavy Bow Chasers, Master Gunner

Q4 C0 - 17pts - Ornithopter, Bow Chasers, Yare, Aerobatics

Royal Navy

Man O’War
Q4 C4 - 78pts - Galleon Rig, Drilled Soldiers, Master Gunner, Trained Gun Crews, High Castles, Veteran NCOs, Fiddler, Chasers

Q3 C3 - 74pts - Galleon Rig, Razee, Drilled Soldiers, Trained Gun Crews, Veteran NCOs, Chasers

Armed Transport
Q4 C3 - 20pts - Square Rig, Merchantman, Drilled Soldiers

Sheba The She-Wolf
Q3 C4 - 70pts - Galleon Rig, Charismatic, Swashbucklers

Q3 C2 - 50pts - Galleon Rig, Razee, Swashbucklers, Derring Do
Glubbdubdribbian Spectral Pirates
Q3 C3 - 54pts - Square Rig, Spectral, Intimidating

Thanks to Dave, Caesar and Daniel for a hugely entertaining game.
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