Thursday, 28 February 2019

Peter Pan

On Sunday my daughter treated my wife and I to wedding anniversary trip to the theatre to see' Peter Pan Gone Wrong', which I can heartily recommend seeing if you get the chance. On the way back I was reminded that man years ago I subjected Disney's film version to the HOTT treatment, backed up with bits and pieces from the book, for one must always go back to the original source material if possible. So here it is; another article from the old Stronghold, resurrected and dusted off for your pleasure.

Peter Pan
Army Lists for ‘Hordes of the Things’
By Alan Saunders

My children have recently become obsessed with Disney's 'Peter Pan'. The only way to stay sane under such an onslaught was to consider the HOTT potential.

The Lost Boys
Stronghold: Hideout in hollow tree
Aerial Hero General (Peter Pan and Wendy) @ 6AP
Flier (Tinkerbell) @ 2AP
Water Lurker (Crocodile) @ 1AP
Water Lurker (Mermaids) @ 1AP
Warband (John, Michael and other Lost Boys) @ 2AP

At the end of the film they capture Hook's ship and Tinkerbell enchants it so that it can fly: Airboat @ 3AP.

Stronghold: Pirate ship
Hero General (Captain Hook with Mr. Smee) @ 4AP
Artillery (Cannon) @ 3AP
Sneaker (Pirates bearing gift-wrapped bomb)@ 3AP
Warband (Pirates) @ 2AP

Stronghold: Indian encampment
Warband General (Indian chief) @ 2AP
Warband (Indian braves) @ 2AP
Lurkers (Indians disguised as trees) @ 1AP

This gives you a nice three-sided campaign set in Never-Never Land. The film even has enough shots of Hook's map to allow a simple campaign map to be drawn up.

These lists are based on the film. An examination of the book, however, doesn't require too many changes to the lists, although it gives Hook a crew of just seventeen, which is going to stretch the army a little. The Lost Boys fare even worse; there are only six of them, although there is, at least, an implication that there are sometimes more (Pan is described as 'culling' them from time to time, which is a little disturbing).

Although they don't put in much of an appearance, there is a fourth force in Neverland; the Beasts. A pretty simple army list - twelve beasts. Easy. Funnily enough the crocodile would make a good general for this army, although it would lose its water lurker status in the Pan's force. The rest of the beasts are, as far as I can remember, such things as bears, wolves and so forth.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

The Return Of The Crimson Count

It's a pleasant Saturday in the late 17th century. A convoy of three French merchant vessels is working its way down the Gascony coast.

But the dastardly Spanish are in the offing, with two war-dirigibles and a pair of Van Klunk ornithopters.

Fortunately for the convoy help is at hand, in the person of the Comte de Morcerf - the daring aviator known as The Crimson Count!

This was a standard Galleys & Galleons pursuit scenario, with three French merchant vessels escorted by The Crimson Count being attacked by two airships and two ornithopters.

The opening moves saw the dirigibles caught by a slight shift in the wind, which left them close-hauled. The pushed doggedly on, whilst their ornithopters forged ahead looking to knock a few spars off the merchants before the bigger airships got into action.

As the merchantmen negotiated the islands and shallows, The Crimson Count took his ornithopter into action, exchanging fire with a Spanish foeman.

The Spanish ornithopters closed on the ships.

And The Crimson Count lined up an attack on the dirigibles.

Cannons blazed on both sides (for the ships can engage aerial targets, albeit it at a range disadvantage), but no damage was inflicted.

However as The Count circled for another attack on the dirigibles, a shot from a stern-chaser caused some minor damage.

The dirigibles prepared to bomb the French ships.

But the merchantmen had teeth, and one of them damaged an airship as it made its attack run.

The Crimson Count added to the damage.

Bombs away! The other airship attacked a merchant ship, but scored no hits.

Both sides were now hotly engaged.

One Spanish airship found itself in irons, and began to ponderously turn back into the action. The other, despairing of getting a good run with its bombs, dropped to sea-level in order to engage effectively with its broadsides. But the merchant vessels were up for a fight, and shot the dirigible's rudder away.

Crippled and unable to steer properly, the dirigible crashed into one of the ships. The ship was damaged, but the Spanish airship was totally wrecked.

It got worse. One of the Spanish ornithopters swooped down for an attack run, but ran straight into an accurate broadside, which not only caused serious damage but set the aircraft on fire.

You want more? The Crimson Count's persistent gunnery paid off, crippling the remaining Spanish dirigible.

The convoy looked set to escape. Two ships quickly made it to safety.

The third found itself under attack from the other ornithopter, and took damage.

The pilot of the damaged ornithopter was so occupied extinguishing the fire on his fragile steed (and extinguish it he did) that he couldn't change course, and he crashed into the merchant vessel. Again, the French ship was damaged, whilst the Spaniard was wrecked.

Despite being crippled the Spanish dirigible was still fighting, and a broadside badly damaged The Crimson Count's aircraft.

The merchantman was making its final run for safety, but the Spanish ornithopter kept up a dogged pursuit.

The Crimson Count swooped in to try and save the day.

But another broadside saw the Count's aircraft so badly damaged that he was forced to crash into the sea. Don't worry. He'll survive to fight another day.

The ornithopter kept up a steady fire, knocking out one of the merchant vessel's masts.

But it wasn't enough; the merchant had his course set true, and sailed to safety.

Despite the loss of The Crimson Count this was very much a French victory, with the convoy making an escape (despite some damage), and the Spanish losing an ornithopter and a dirigible, with the other dirigible being badly damaged.

Here are the stats for the various 'ships':

Merchantman - Q3 C3 - Galleon Rig, Merchantman, Pilot - 34pts
The Crimson Count - Q3 C2 - Ornithopter, Aerobatics, Bow Chasers, Master Gunner, Yare - 50pts

Dirigible - Q3 C2 - Airship, Square Rig, Chaser Guns, Bombs - 52pts
Ornithopter - Q3 C1 - Ornithopter, Bow Chaser, Yare - 26pts

Friday, 22 February 2019

Treasure Island

There was some confusion last night about what games we were planned at the Gong Garage Gamers, and what was originally planned as a two-player emergency game of Galleys & Galleons turned into a full four-player game instead. I'd never played the Treasure Hunt scenario, so we set that up.

In this scenario there are three islands on the board that may or may not have treasure on them. Each player can search each island once, and may find treasure, may find danger, or may simply find nothing.  Obviously if someone does find treasure, other players can relieve them of it, but once treasure has been found the game runs to a time-limit. The game is won on victory points, with a big score for holding treasure, but some points for sinking or capturing opposing vessels.

We had four players: I ran the British explorers in their sturdy barks, Caesar ran the Spanish in their single mighty man o'war, Dave ran the Pyrates and John ran the King Of The Cannibal Isles, with his canoe and catamaran fleet.

Here's the start. From top-left clockwise: King of the Cannibal Isles, Pyrates, Spanish and English Explorers.

John was able to use his canoes to explore the island nearest to him, and immediately found some treasure.

Caesar and I approached the rocky island from opposite sides.

Dave took the Pyrates into the third island, but his smaller ship, the Little Pillager managed to sail on by without successfully sending out an exploration party.

First fire! Caesar's man o'war La Magdalena fired at the Opportunity, but the range was too great for it to score any damage.

La Magdalena sailed close to the land, and couldn't find any treasure.

As she sailed on further she found that the Little Pillager was in range. A long-range shot set the pirate vessel on fire. Whilst the crew tried to fight it they weren't paying attention to the shallows they were in, and ripped the bottom of the ship out, sinking it. Still, at least the fire was extinguished.

Opportunity had failed to find any treasure on the rocky island, so came up on the next one in its path, but was intercepted by cannibal canoes.

Explorer came up in support.

Meanwhile Dave sailed his pirate galleon, the Broken Cutlass, past the island, and found some treasure.

Explorer fired a broadside and seriously damaged a native catamaran.

She then set a course for the canoes with the treasure. Time was running short now.

Caesar took La Magdalena close in to explore the island, and found a stash of rum. His crew got drunk.

Very, very drunk.

Explorer made a bold move, colliding with the native canoes in an attempt to damage them and follow it up with a boarding action. They evaded the collision, and fought off the English attack.

Opportunity was less fortunate. Its crew cut grapples at one stage, and managed to get off a broadside at the canoes attacking it, but it had no effect. The canoes came in again, and captured the English ship.

The last move of the game saw the Broken Cutlass fire a desperate long-range broadside at the ongoing melee between the native canoes with the treasure and the Explorer. A particularly effective and lucky shot could have sunk the canoes, denying John the points for the treasure in them, thus giving Dave the win. But it wasn't to be - the cannibals survived.

At the end of the game, the King of the Cannibal Islands had a treasure, plus had captured the Opportunity, for a total of 7VP. The Pyrates held a treasure for 5VP. The English and Spanish scored nothing. So a win for John.

This was a fun scenario. It does however, have a slight failing in that in order to search an island you must sail within Short distance of it. But this is also the distance at which you have to check for striking shallows, which means that for many ships organising a search means taking a lot of risk. Most of the damage ships took was from hitting rocks and sandbanks around the islands.Good designs for this scenario should have Pilot at the very minimum, and Shallow Draft for preference. Needless to say John's vessels were all Shallow Draft.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

One Million

I've just noticed that, at some point over the past couple of days, this blog has totted up One Million Views!

And not all of them came from live-cam porn sites.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The Ivory Towers of Balnibarbi

After Lt. Morrison's escape from the angry natives of Nanus and Mauru, he took the HMS Opportunity to the land of Balnibarbi.  Needless to say he managed to upset the local there as well, and once again the Opportunity found itself having to flee, this time through a blockade of the strange and terrible Balnibarbian Ivory Towers.

This was the Blockade Runner scenario from the book. The Opportunity was unchanged from the previous game.

The Balnibarbians had three Ivory Tower warships. Each has the same basic design, but with a different set of weaponry - one was equipped with a ram, one with a powerful front-mounted cannon and the third with a poison-cloud disperser. I'll post the basic stats at the end of the report.

The Ivory Towers are powered by Science! so were not limited by the wind. However their movement can be erratic and unpredictable. But the Opportunity found its escape limited by islands on one beam and reefs on the other, and had limited room to move.

The first Ivory Tower moved in with its fearsome brass ram.

The Opportunity tried to slip past, and fired an ineffective broadside as well.

Science! prevailed and the Balnibarbian vessel rammed Opportunity amidships, badly damaging it.

Opportunity limped away ...

... as the other Balnibarbian vessels approached. The gun-vessel fired a shot and caused more damage.

The crew of Opportunity panicked, and steered it into the shallows surrounding an island, where it hit rocks, and sank.

So that ended well for the Opportunity ...

I set up the game again, with different terrain. This was a more open field, with a couple of islands still, but shallows rather than the reefs of the previous game.

The Balnibarbians were active, and quickly moved to intercept the Opportunity.

The ship with the poison-gas projector exuded a mist which confused the senses as well, and the crew of Opportunity struggled when in close proximity to it.

A couple of gas attacks took their toll, and Opportunity found itself putting all of its effort into fleeing rather than being able to shoot back. Skillful sailing kept it out of the firing arc of the gun-vessel, but the ram was closing up now as well.

Fortunately the former collier's sturdy build deflected the ram, but the crew suffered another gas attack.

The gun-vessel closed in from the stern, but misjudged its approach, and had to grapple Opportunity rather than risk a collision, spoiling the chance of a close-range shot.

With all seemingly lost, and Opportunity near-crippled, the crew found fresh heart. In a stunning display of good fortune they cut the grapples holding them in place, and slipped past the ram. The Balnibarbians floundered in confusion.

The gun-vessel got off a shot at the fleeing British vessel, and damaged its rudder.

But the Opportunity was already set on the course it needed to be on in order to escape, and as the Balnibarbian Ivory Towers failed to move properly, got a good enough lead to make pursuit impossible.

So one game each for the British and the Balnibarbians.

Balnibarbian Ivory Towers - Q3 C3 - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, High Towers, Unarmed
(i)   Ramming
(ii)  Bilious Cloud, Charismatic
(iii) Heavy Bow Gun, Master Gunner, Trained Gun Crews

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