Sunday, 28 July 2019

It's Quiet Here

I don't have much to report on here. I've been busy this past week with work, and preparing for my first 'independent' burlesque performance, so haven't got much gaming in. I even skipped playing on Thursday, but I did take this panorama of the games on offer:

On the left Caesar and Ralph are testing the latest Sam Mustafa project. In the middle is a group playing an interesting linked double-table Team Yankee game. And on the right Gary and Mark are playing Impetus.

I'm off on holiday at the end of next week, and have stuff to sort out before we go, which has meant I won't be getting in much gaming this weekend either. Things might be quiet here for a while yet. I'll make sure I prepare a few posts for you to read whilst I'm away.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Stronghold - Breached!

Despite valiant efforts by the defenders, The Stronghold has been invaded by Indonesian spammers. In order to repel this intrusion I have been forced to deploy full comment moderation*.

So if you submit your thoughts on a post, it may be a little while before you see it at the moment. Indeed in a week or say you may have to wait longer, as I am heading off into the wilderness for a couple of weeks and may not have access to the internet (gasp!).

Sorry for any inconvenience.

*I've had partial moderation for a while, where I approve comments on older posts, as they seemed to be popular targets.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

GNW Rampant

In my last post I said I'd pit my 'Dragon Rampant' Great Northern War forces against each other in a straight head-to-head fight. So last night I did just that. I played the Gory Bloodbath scenario, using two 30pt forces and with randomised terrain.

The terrain ended up pretty dense, with a village, a walled monastery, and impassable crag and some woods dominating the centre. A fordable river ran between the two opposing baselines, and beyond that were more woods.

I started both forces off-table. Here's the bulk of the Swedes. Their warband consisted of:

2 x Heavy Missiles (Weighty Projectiles, Enchanted Shooting Weapons) @ 4pts each
2 x Heavy Foot (Offensive) @ 6pts each. The leader was with one unit.
2 x Heavy Riders (Enchanted Melee Weapons) @ 5pts each

The Swedish leader could order one automatic attack per turn for a unit within 12".

The infantry went straight for the gap between the crag and the woods; it was obvious that the monastery, which offered cover whilst not being rough going, would be the key to the battle. The Swedish horse are out of shot to the right; their task was to ride as fast as possible to the two small hills in the background, between which was a proper ford across the river.

The Russian's advance was more piecemeal. They also made a concerted effort to reach the monastery, and had the advantage that it was closer to their board edge. Their force consisted of:

1 x Heavy Missiles (Weighty Projectiles, Enchanted Shooting Weapons, Mystical Armour) @ 6pts. The leader was with this unit.
3 x Heavy Missiles (Weighty Projectiles, Enchanted Shooting Weapons) @ 4pts each.
1 x Heavy Foot @ 4pts
1 x Heavy Riders @ 4pts
1 x Light Rider @ 4pts

The Russian leader's ability related to units with the Wild Charge ability, of which there were none.

The first attack went in as the Swedish cavalry met their Russian counterparts. The fierce Swedish attack (the Enchanted Weapons) drove the Russians back.

I gave each side three quests, one each from the 3 Glory, 2 Glory and 1 Glory sections. The Swedes gained Glory for initiating the first attack of the game.

Russian musketeers reached the monastery, as the Swedes rushed towards it as well.

However the tardy Russian advance meant that they failed to make the wall facing the Swedes in time, so didn't benefit from cover when the rapid Swedish attack went in.

The Russians were driven out, and the Swedes took possession of the monastery.

Swedish cavalry crossed the ford and drove back some more Russian musketeers.

It wasn't looking good for the Russians, who were wavering in a number of places from the rapid Swedish attack. Their leader directed his musketeers to fire a volley at the Swedish cavalry, which halted their attack.

Around the monastery the Russian's Cossack allies were peppering the Swedish leader's foot unit with fire.

With the Russians having a firepower advantage, there was no point in the Swedes remaining in the monastery, so they attacked out of it, driving towards the Russian infantry. Their quests relied on defeating a number of Russian units in the same turn, so an aggressive approach was called for at this stage.

The second Swedish cavalry unit tried to cross at the ford, but was caught doing so by Russian pikemen who caught them at the halt and inflicted more casualties.

The Swedes continued to drive forward, but the momentum was going out of their attack and their units were becoming dangerously isolated. The Swedish pikemen failed to break some Russian musketeers, who responded with a volley which routed them.

More musketry destroyed the Swedish cavalry.

The Swedish leader's unit was now the only one at the forefront of the fight, and was taking a dangerous number of hits. With no support, he ran.

The Swedish musketeers were still a long way back. I considered calling the game at this point - the Russians still had six of their seven units, whilst the Swedes were leaderless and down to their last two. But I decided to keep going.

By dint of fortunate activations on their part, and some terrible moves by the Russians, the two Swedish musketeer units gained the cover of the monastery. Now the fight would be more interesting. Could they hold out against a massed Russian assault?

The Russians formed up as the two sides traded fire. The Cossacks were the first to suffer a deadly Swedish volley, which saw them flee.

Swedish morale held, and the drove off two more Russian musketeer units by concentrating on those that had already taken casualties in the initial attacks. The Russian force was now looking very shaky, as morale tests shook some of the already damaged units. Only the Russian leader and his stoic grenadiers stood firm (the Mystical Armour represented their stoicism, and worked to great effect).

Exploiting the fact that the Swedes had taken some hits, the Russian pikemen went into the assault, but were driven off.

The pikemen wavered and reformed, but another Swedish volley saw them off.

The Russians were now reduced to just their leader's unit, as the battle drew to a close.

Due to their seizing of the monastery, and their epic defence of it, the Swedes clinched a decisive win. They achieved two of their three quests, plus got the Glory for the victory, whilst the Russians achieved one quest, but lost the points for it because they failed two others.

This was a tremendous game, which really switched from one side to the other due to failed activation rolls. Heavy Missiles are quite dangerous, but are harder to move than other foot, and not always easy to shoot with. With good activations the Russian's firing line can be deadly, especially with the Enchanted Weapons initial volley, but the units proved hard to get into place. The Swedish force was better equipped for an attack, but suffered when it got over-extended. It would be interesting to run their two pike units as Bellicose Foot with Terrifically Shiny armour; they would defend the same against musketry as the Heavy Foot, with the downside of having the Wild Charge and a vulnerability  to being charged by horse.

Of course a future game could be the same forces (or, at least, similar) set up using 'The Pikeman's Lament'. Do it properly.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

The Sacred Eye Of St. Ivan

Oh those naughty Swedes! They've ransacked a church and stolen the Sacred Eye of St. Ivan! And now they're rushing back to their camp with their ill-gotten loot.

Fortunately a company of heroic Russians are on hand to deal with this heresy.

So here's a pointless exercise for a Sunday afternoon - playing out a Great Northern War scenario using 'Dragon Rampant' when a perfectly good copy of 'The Pikeman's Lament' was to hand. But I did it anyway.

The scenario was the Mole of St Ukkert, rebadged for the setting.

The Swedes gave The Eye to one of their cavalry units, reasoning that it could ride swiftly to the other corner before the Russians could stop them.

The Russians got off to a slow start in terms of activations.

The Swedish looters were already halfway across the table. Their other cavalry were sent to block Russian cavalry lurking behind the village.

A clash of sabres! The Russians got the worst of the casualties, thanks to the fierce Swedish charge, but the Swedes got the worst of the morale test.

The Russians had Cossacks, who were lurking behind the woods hoping to intercept the fleeing Swedes.

The Russian commander led his troops into range of the Swedes, but they couldn't form a decent firing line in time.

The rest of the Swedes were a bit strung out now - an effect of all of their activations being prioritised on getting the cavalry off the table.

The Cossacks skirmished with the Swedish horse, but failed to cause any casualties.

The Swedes swung past them, and escaped. End of game, and a resounding Swedish win.

I played it again, with the same setup. The Swedes got well across the table again, and the Cossacks got into an intercept position again.

The Russian response was a little more active in this game, whilst the remaining Swedes ended up milling around the church.

The Cossacks fired at the Swedes, who lost a man. It didn't slow them down though.

Meanwhile the Russian cavalry caught the Swedes on the trot, and inflicted a few hits on them

The Cossacks moved to block the exit point.

The Swedes charged, and the Cossacks failed to evade. As a result they were wiped out to a man.

The Swedes looked set to escape, but the Russians could clinch a draw if they could force a Swedish unit to fail a morale test, thus fulfilling the Russian quest objectives. Their cavalry charged the Swedes again, and inflicted hits, but the Swedish morale held. It was the Russians who retreated.

The Swedes escaped again.

I randomised quests in both games, dismissing any that didn't make sense in the context of the scenario. In the second game the Swedes were going to win without having achieved one of theirs, which would have given them 4 Glory in total. The Russians have 4 Glory-worth of quests, one of which involved not having more than one battered unit, which they achieved, and the other involving the Swedes failing the first morale check. Had they managed that, they would have drawn with the Swedes (who would have had to have delayed the exit of the cavalry in order to try and achieve their quest). That's the fun of the Rampant games sometimes - achieving the scenario objectives doesn't always give you the win, if the other side keeps an eye on quests.

The armies:


2 x Heavy Foot with Enchanted Melee Weapons
2 x Heavy Riders with Enchanted Melee Weapons
1 x Heavy Missiles with Enchanted Shooting and Heavy Projectiles

I use my Enchanted Weapons variant where you always get one use of the ability, then have to roll a 6 on a D6 to retain it for the next use (and so on). For the missile units it represents a first volley. For the other units it represents an initial fierce charge.

3 x Heavy Missiles with Enchanted Shooting and Heavy Projectiles
1 x Heavy Foot
1 x Heavy Riders
1 x Light Riders

I fancy trying these forces in a straight head-to-head fight.

Eggs For Breakfast

I played a second game of  'Dragon Rampant' in which post-Poltava Swedish fugitives faced dinosaurs in a lost Ukrainian valley. This valley had a Mayan step-pyramid in it. Because ... why not?

Anyway, to set the scene, the Swedes have lifted a ton of dinosaur eggs from the creatures' nesting site and are transporting them back to their camp for breakfast. The dinosaur pack is not happy abut this.

Two dinosaurs are already blocking the Swede's path. Others are on their way.

Dinosaurs are terribly impetuous, and haven't mastered the tactics of dealing with formed pikemen. This one charged one of the Swedish pike units again and again, until it looked like a sieve. A dead sieve. The pikemen were scattered as well, though.

The Swedes pushed slowly forward, as more of the dinosaur pack appeared.

The Swedish cavalry charged forward to clear the way, able to meet the monsters' charge head on with a charge of their own.

The Swedes continued to advance.

As mentioned above, one pike unit succumbed to the attacks mounted on it, but felled one of the beasts as well.

Cavalry charge the pack leader.

The Swedish officer's unit collected the eggs dropped by the destroyed unit before any of the dinosaurs could rescue them.

The Swedes were surrounded, and looked to be in trouble, but to be honest they weren't. The dinosaurs were getting extremely wobbly by this stage.

A volley of musketry injured one dinosaur so badly that its charge was completely blunted. It was bayoneted by the musketeers.

The loss of that beast caused the rest of the pack to flee the field, leaving only the pack leader, who was badly injured.Another win for the Swedes.

The scenario was the same one we played on Thursday, with Blu Tak eggs taking the place of plastic counter cattle. The terrain was randomised, and all of the really nasty stuff was down one flank, allowing the Swedes to avoid it, Had they had to run a different way across the table, I think the better rough going capabilities of the warbeasts would have given the dinosaurs a lot more of a chance. As it was they were caught in the open by cavalry and also forced into charging formed pike units. That was never going to end well.

I think that, for now, I have sated my Swedes vs Dinosaurs obsession.
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