Friday, 27 April 2018

Maurice Part Deux

Gary and Caesar finally played their Maurice campaign game last night, completing the first round of our campaign. Gary defended with the Ottomans against Caesar's massed French columns.

Gary seemed to get off to a good start. His laid a dense terrain, which gave his massed artillery plenty of protection, but which also allowed his irregular cavalry to do a sweeping flank attack on the French infantry as it advanced. Caesar managed to stabilise that situation, and eliminate the Ottoman horse, but had suffered plenty of casualties. Eventually, though, his infantry met that of the Ottomans and a firefight ensued in which the Ottoman line slowly crumbled. Gary's artillery did fearful execution on the French cavalry, but it was too late; the Ottoman morale collapsed, giving the victory to the French.

Gary was part of the same alliance as Peter and myself, so his loss means that the war continues into another round, with many of us fighting with armies made up of hastily-raised conscript replacements. So the next set of battles look like they might be interesting, but short.

John and I played a few bouts of Munera Sine Missione, with a lot of the rules being in my head owing the the major rewrite they are currently undergoing. We ran a campaign setup, but only played out the first Games. We each had a school of six gladiators; two lights, two mediums and two heavies, putting two challengers forward each and matching them with something suitable from our school for a total of four bouts in the 'day'.

My fancy arena really only allows one bout at a time, so that's what we did.

Bout 1: I used Hero against the spear-using Alumnus. Alumnus couldn't get past Hero's armour, whilst the heavier gladiator slowly wore his opponent down and eventually forced him to his knees to seek mercy from the crowd. They spared him, but that meant there was a negative modifier on the next gladiator to appeal that day.

In the second fight, I used Bremusa against the dimachaerus Spiculus. Bremusa is armed as a thraex, but since Spiculus doesn't have a shield her sica simply counted as a sword (In MSM a sica is specialised for circumventing the opponent's shield).

This was probably the best fight of the evening, with both gladiators ending up wounded. It went for ten rounds before Bremusa finally backed Spiculus into the arena wall and ran him through, mortally wounding him.

The third fight was between the heavily armoured contra-retiarius Telamonius and my school's retiarius, Titan. Titan got in an early net attack, but couldn't exploit it before Telamonius cut his way free. However his agility mostly kept him out of trouble, and eventually he managed to fell Telamonius with a mighty blow from his trident. I'm hazy on what happened at that point (our notes are incomplete), but I think poor Telamonius fell victim to the crowd's desire for blood.

Finally John used the lasso-using Gracchus against my other heavy gladiator who, at some point, has lost his name label, so was called Anonymous for the evening. John had appalling AP rolls in this fight, to the point where Gracchus simply gave up trying to use his lasso, dropped it and fought with his trident in both hands, just so he stood a chance of getting in some attacks.

Anonymous had better luck with Action Points, and took down Gracchus fairly quickly. Like Alumnus, he was backed against the wall, and killed instantly.

We called a halt at that point, since John had lost all four bouts and decided that his school would close in shame.

The various changes we were trying out seemed to work OK, but Victor and I have plenty of work to do tying everything together, agreeing on terminology and (in at least one case) agreeing on mechanisms.

There were actually two other games on offer last night; Peter and Geoff played a big DBA game, whilst Ralph ran some Team Yankee at the back of the room. I didn't get photos of either of those games, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Mighty Mongo - Part 2

This post concludes the career of the gladiator Mongo, who you saw in action yesterday. When we left him he had taken part in four bouts, winning one, getting one draw and losing two. he had some experience and a little bit of prestige, but was still early in his career.

I played one quick fight this morning, in which he fought Crixus, a gladiator similar to himself  but with a smaller shield. The two fighters traded blows for a while, and Crixus took a decent hit, but it was obvious that they were evenly matched and the referee eventually called a halt to the proceedings, giving Mongo another draw. A pity, as Crixus was the favourite, so if Mongo had defeated him it would have earned him much prestige.

During the day I had a brainwave, and ended up rewriting the fatigue system in 'Munera Sine Missione' as well as bits of the wound system. This is still a work in progress, but I got enough of it sorted out during my commute and lunch-break to feel confident enough to try it out in the remaining games.

Mongo's sixth fight saw him face a similar gladiator to Crixus, the flamboyant Margareites. Despite the crowd being behind him, Margareites was no match for Mongo, who was keen for a victory. He wore down his opponent and denied the mob of even a chance to spare their hero, by backing him up against the arena wall and running him through.

This gave Mongo another skill; he replaced Margareites in the crowd's affections, becoming a Crowd-Pleaser. He also gained another point of Prestige, going up to 3.

In his next fight he was pitted against the barbarian Andromache. She was unarmoured but carried a sturdy big shield and a sharp sword. Despite her lack of experience she outfought Mongo from the start, dodging out of his reach and then darting in to hit him with thrust after thrust. Eventually Mongo was forced to appeal to the crowd, who spared him despite his not landing a single hit on his opponent. However his reputation suffered; losing to a less-experienced foe cost him a point of prestige.

Looking to build up his reputation again, his lanista arranged for him to fight a retiarius called Cupido. Needless to say it was only moments before Mongo found himself trapped in Cupido's net. He fended off the ensuing attacks, cut free, and took the fight to his lighter opponent. However he couldn't quite finish him off, and seeing that he was too exhausted to be entertaining, the referee stopped the bout and declared it a draw.

The ninth fight of Mongo's career saw him fight another spear-armed gladiator, the agile Spicula (sister of the dimachaerus Spiculus). She got in an early hit that saw Mongo seriously wounded, but he rallied and managed to cut his opponent to ribbons, forcing her to appeal to the crowd. Entertained, they spared her. Mongo gained no prestige or skills from this fight since Spicula was less-experienced than he.

Gannicus was Mongo's tenth foe. Under the campaign rules I was using, Mongo would be freed if he won this bout. He went in aggressively, but tired quickly even though he inflicted wounds on his opponent. Gannicus took advantage of Mongo slowing up, and felled him with a mighty slash of his sword, forcing him to seek mercy from the audience. They were happy to spare a gladiator who had kept them entertained for years.

Gannicus had the same number of skills as Mongo, so there was no loss of Prestige.

And so on to Mongo's eleventh fight. This time he was up against Flamma the thraex, who was very much the favourite; strong and skilled in defence, Mongo was going to have a hard time wounding his foe.

Mongo fought like a man possessed, fending off his opponent's sica, and driving him back across the arena. His steady attacks produced plenty of cheers from the crowd. A lucky blow saw Flamma wounded, and Mongo spotted his chance. Exerting himself to the full, he charged, sidestepped and, to the cheers of the mob, downed Flamma with a  mighty sweep of his sword. There was no question, after such a spectacle, that Flamma wouldn't be spared.

Having won the bout Mongo was granted the rudis, the wooden sword of freedom. For beating Flamma he gained 2 Prestige, bringing his total to 4, as well as an extra skill - he chose Stamina, although would never use it in the arena.

This is the first time I've had a gladiator survive at least ten bouts in a campaign. Mongo had fought eleven times, won four fights, lost four and drawn three times.

The new rules and changes didn't seem to be seriously broken, and just need a little refinement. Incorporating them into the main rules is going to be a fun exercise, however, as they will require modification to pretty much every section, and some major redefinition of key terms. If they prove viable, then it looks like the next version of 'Munera Sine Missione' will be a full v3.0 rather than a sub-version.

(The campaign system used for these bouts will also be part of the new version, as well as the one I use for multiple players. Those will be a major addition.)

Monday, 23 April 2018

The Mighty Mongo - Part 1

This weekend my son moved down the coast for a new job, as an announcer for an FM station in Bega. Since his licence won't cover him to drive a hire truck, he co-opted us into driving his stuff down, packing it on Saturday and doing the 450 mile round-trip to deliver it on the Sunday. Needless to say we're shattered. And that's why I didn't post much in the way of gaming stuff this weekend.

However I did manage to fit in the first few bouts of a new gladiator campaign this evening. I realised that, as far as I could remember, I'd never used the mighty Mongo in a campaign. I'd promised myself a run with a heavier gladiator, so this was my chance.

I used Victor's campaign rules (which I haven't posted here, but which are similar to mine but with better thought-out tables).

Here's Mongo - sword, light armour, helmet and big shield. He's a novice, so has no skills.

I selected a pool of eighteen opponents for him, all light and medium gladiators (Victor's rules do have the possibility of him facing a very heavy gladiator, but I wasn't sure about that).

In his first bout he faced the spear-wielding Ellenikos, who was more experienced than Mongo, being a canny Tactician with the Attack skill. Mongo knocked him down early on, to the approval of the crowd.

Indeed despite his skills, Mongo completely outfought him. Eventually Ellenikos became so exhausted that he appealed to the crowd for mercy. They were in no mood for mercy. So that was the end of Ellenikos.

Mongo earned both Prestige and a skill from that bout. I went for Agile, since that prevents those awful AP rolls of '1'.

In his second fight Mongo found himself up against a Dimachaerus called Spiculus. Spiculus was also more skilled than Mongo; he also had Tactician and could Dodge. He got in an early hit on his heavier opponent.

The fight then started in earnest, with Mongo deflecting Spiculus's many attacks, and getting in a  few hits of his own. With both gladiators wounded, but no conclusion in sight, the referee stopped the fight and called it a draw. This saw no prestige or skills for anyone.

Mongo's third opponent was another Dimachaerus, the unarmoured Melanippe. She too had the Dodge ability (useful when you have no armour), but never got to use it. As the two gladiators circled each other, she suddenly ducked around Mongo's unshielded flank, and downed him with a couple of swift strikes.

Mongo was forced to appeal to the crowd, and despite the short length of the bout they decided to be merciful.

Mongo's fourth opponent. Who could it be?

Another Dimachaerus! This time it was Drusa, who fought with both a helmet and armour.

Both Mongo and Drusa wounded each other fairly quickly. Again, Drusa had the Dodge skill, but she was also a flamboyant Crowd-Pleaser. She lost one of her swords early on, and had her helmet knocked loose as well, but recovered the latter. Mongo soon had her backed against the arena wall, where her room for manoeuvre was seriously compromised, but she rallied, and a lucky stroke knocked Mongo to the ground and, once again, forced him to appeal for mercy.

The crowd wavered ... but decided that his impressive wounds were enough for them, and they eventually decided to let him live (he made the roll purely because of the modifier for being injured). Once again, though, he picked up no skills and no Prestige.

So, after four bouts Mongo has Played 4, Won 1, Lost 2 and Drawn 1, has 2 Prestige and the Agile skill.

To Be Continued.

Saturday, 21 April 2018


Victor and i have identified quite a few changes and additions to 'Munera Sine Missione', so I thought I'd start a single gladiator campaign, and run it in the few (very few) spare moments I'm expecting to get this weekend.

It didn't work out quite the way I'd hoped.

I ran Sylvania, who is the lightest of light gladiators; no armour, a long spear and a lasso. She started with no skills, of course.

Under my campaign rules she could only face medium or heavy gladiators, so I selected a pool of six of each to draw from. They would get a random number of skills.

Her first opponent was the spear-wielding Spicula. Spicula had one skill - Agile. This enables her to reroll a AP roll of '1', and is a nasty one for a gladiator who relies on speed to face since your opponent is never going to be completely wrong-footed.

Sylvania started well, dodging around Spicula and hitting her with the lasso twice. Once it simply knocked Spicula's spear away, although she recovered it, but the second hit saw her entangled. However Sylvania couldn't finish off her opponent, who blocked follow-up attacks with her armour. Eventually she escaped the lasso and went on the offensive, wearing down her lighter foe, wounding her and leaving her so exhausted that she quit and appealed to the crowd. They were merciful, but only barely.

Her second opponent was the thraex Lucius. He not only had the agile skill, but also had defence, so Sylvania was going to be really up against it.

Lucius outfought her from the word go. She couldn't catch him with her lasso, and eventually he got in close and gave her a nasty wound, slowing her and leaving her vulnerable to a run of attacks which pushed her against the arena wall. At that point Lucius ran her through, killing her outright.

So, a couple of quick fights, but a short career for Sylvania. I'm tempted to try a heavier gladiator in a campaign setting next.

Friday, 20 April 2018

What A Tanker!

We tried out the new 'What A Tanker' rules from Two Fat Lardies yesterday, using Ralph's collection of 28mm tracked beauties. Not ones to do things by halves we had eight players, each running a single tank - four T34/76s on one side, against a trio of PzIIIs and a lone PzIV on the other.

Here's my T34, taking a long shot at a PzIII on the far side of the table.

I found myself somewhat isolated from the other Russian commanders, and had a bit of a lonely fight for the first couple of turns. I scored some non-damaging hits, though.

The other Russians move up.

The first kill; Bryan's PzIII got overconfident and paid the price. Kaleb got the credit for that one.

Colin had worked his PzIII around the Russian left and now had a nice line of fire on a couple of the T34s.

An aggressive push by the Russians put Colin under pressure. meanwhile my tank, despite being shaken by a couple of hits, managed to knock out Caesar's PzIII.

We called time on the game after that; two German tanks faced four still active and confident T34s, so we reasoned they'd quit.

People were keen to try some later war models in a second game. Or, at least, heavier tanks; I picked a KV1 of some kind; not that hot in terms of a gun relative to other tanks on the table, but a nice-looking model.

The other three Russian players had T34/85s. Opposing them were three Germans, running two Panthers and a Tiger I. Unfortunately we set up the terrain badly, and tanks had a clear line of sight from the first turn. This saw a Panther knocked out on its baseline.

The same happened on the other flank; my KV1 managed to line up a well-aimed shot against the other Panther, and destroy it. This left Kaleb's Tiger facing four Russian tanks. We closed in.

I got a hull-down position on its flank, although its Heavy Armour ability meant that this wasn't too much of an advantage.

Colin and Ralph closed in from the front, using some ruins as cover. Kaleb engaged them, but couldn't make any shots count. The Russian shots bounced off his hull.

Caesar did a mad dash and got in close, but still couldn't knock out the German monster.

It was Colin who finally got in a shot that knocked the Tiger out.

The second game was great for rolling handfuls of dice, but the terrain setup and initial placements meant that it wasn't as exciting in terms of manoeuvre.

We all had a great time with this game. It's not one for the WWII purists, but as a light game of tank on tank combat it has a lot to be said for it. managing the command dice, which dictate how you can move, aim and fire, gave each player a range of choices on their turn, and I suspect we were ahead of the curve in terms of outright kills, with the average game probably having more temporary or cumulative damage on vehicles. It certainly needs plenty of terrain, both to spoil spotting and shots and to block lines of sight entirely.

Obviously it looked great with the large vehicles, but there's no reason a game couldn't use much smaller models on a correspondingly smaller playing area.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Net Worth

I played some more retiarus/myrmillo/secutor bouts this morning, as part of my aim of playing out ten fights to see what the overall balance was like. In game terms I used the same gladiators in each bout, but swapped the figures around in order to make a more interesting blog post.

First up was a repeat performance from Valentinus and Mongo. Valentinus swiftly netted Mongo, and then ran him through with his trident. Quick and easy.

For the remaining five bouts I used an idea Victor is playing with of limiting each to ten turns and calling it a draw if it timed out. Draws seemed to be a more common occurrence during some periods of the games, but games tend not to reflect this. I have a mechanism in testing for forcing one when gladiators are exhausted, but Victor's change ends fights regardless of the state of the gladiators. I amended it to make it variable; at the end of the tenth turn and each turn thereafter you roll a D6 and on a 5+ the bout is ended. This prevents any 'Last Turn Syndrome'.

Anyway, for this set of bouts I started the retiarius was Rodan and was opposed by Astinax. In the first game Astinax easily outfought Rodan, who rolled terribly for Action Points, and wounded him to the point where he was forced to seek mercy from the crowd. The refight saw neither gladiator wounded and ended in a draw after ten turns, despite plenty of action.

I switched to Cupido vs Pugnax for the next fight. Cupido got in an early trident hit on Pugnax, which gave him the edge.

The fight went on well past the ten-turn limit. Towards the end Cupido lost both his net and trident, but he recovered. He managed to get hold of the net, then trip up the myrmillo. This gave him time to retrieve his trident as well and force Pugnax him to appeal to the crowd, who granted him mercy.

Finally I matched Thalia the retiarius against Fabia.

Fabia got the initiative early on in their first bout and quickly ran Thalia through with a critical hit.

The second bout lasted longer, but still saw Thalia defeated.

Overall, after ten bouts, the retiarius won two, lost five and three bouts were draws. I might need to experiment a bit more with various matchups to see if there is a disadvantage to being a light gladiator. As I see it at the moment, the biggest issue is that a light gladiator is less able to translate their agility to defence than a heavy gladiator is to simply block damage with armour.

Balancing games. I love it.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Thursday DBA

We had a DBA evening yesterday, partially because Caesar wanted to try out his newly-based Landsknecht pike. However he was running late, so Ian (who had to leave early) and I started with a Meso-American game, with Aztecs fighting Maya.

The Aztecs (right) have a core of hordes, whilst the Maya (left) are mostly auxilia. Both armies support their core with blades and psiloi.

The Maya defended their jungle home, but Ian, going for a quick result, still opted to charge and meet the Aztecs in the middle.

Feathers started to fly. There were a lot of feathers.

With blades fighting in the centre, and the Aztec hordes on the flank, the battle-lines quickly broke up through pursuits. The Aztecs have fast blades, compared to the solid blades of the Maya, so they found their centre gradually pushed back. Meanwhile their hordes enjoyed an initial success against the lighter Maya troops, but, of course, as they advanced they found themselves surrounded and cut down. Fortunately, whilst that reduced the number of Aztec sandals on the ground, hordes don't count as losses for victory purposes.

The Aztecs fell back, and reorganised their line. They had now reached a gully in which they'd initially deployed.

The Maya continued to push forward. Normally an element will not pursue into bad going, but gullies and marshes are, for some reason, an exception to this. The Mayan general rashly pursued the Aztec shock-troops (warband) he'd been fighting.

This left him at an incredible disadvantage, overlapped, in bad terrain and fighting an element that just had to beat him to destroy him. The result was inevitable - the Mayan general was slain, and that broke the rest of the army.

Caesar had now arrived, so we shifted geographically, but not temporally, and he pitted his Medieval Germans against my Late Swiss. Our armies were not quite historical matches; my Swiss are early 15th century, whereas his Germans are more late 15th century. But it was good enough.

Caesar defended, and we ended up with a dense forest in one corner. Stupidly I decided that I could use it to my advantage, and ended up with half of my army stuck in it. Caesar deployed ploughed fields for the rest of his terrain; they didn't turn to mud, leaving the rest of the battlefield flat and open.

We advanced towards each other. Caesar used his hand-gunners to slow the advance of my troops out of the woods. I deployed my pikes in a single rank in order to better face the enemy knight-wedges. Again, with hindsight, I would have been better off double-ranking them.

The knights charged the pikes, but were driven back.

The landsknecht attacked my other flank and quickly gained the upper-hand. This was probably due to their confusing me by fighting under a Bernese flag.

My halberdier blocks were quickly surrounded, and rolled over by the mercenary pikes.

A second charge by the knights saw my pikes break, and gave Caesar the win.

Swiss troops trapped in the woods.

We used the same armies for a second game. Again Caesar defended and again we had a battlefield of woods and fields. This time I placed Caesar's army between two woods. This allowed me a chance to concentrate my pikes against his knights, whilst hitting his pikes with my blades. The latter would generally lose, but this would draw the pikes forward where I could surround and destroy them. Meanwhile I could work some of my blades through the woods and onto his flanks.

In fact it didn't work out that way at all. Caesar rolled a '1' for his first PIP score, which meant that it had rained and turned the fields to a sea of mud. Both armies were now disadvantaged in a number of areas, losing rear support on the pikes and the knights' ability to ride down enemy troops.

The Swiss attacked, hitting the Landsknechts as they crossed a dry patch between the two fields.

This drew them forward into the mud, where they were quickly disadvantaged against the looser Swiss troops.

On the far right the Swiss crossbowmen neutralised the German artillery, whilst the rest of their army surrounded the German pike-blocks.

Whilst the other Swiss flank pushed forward against the German knights, secure that they wouldn't be ridden down in the mud, the German general was surrounded in the corner of a muddy field by Swiss halberdiers and crossbowmen.

He died in a ditch.

The mud was a game-changer for this battle, seriously hampering the Germans, whilst still allowing the Swiss to use their blades effectively.

All three games were great fun, and really showed what a great set of rules DBA has become.
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