Monday, 28 February 2022

Return To The Desert Frontier

Fired up by the ADLG game on Thursday, I decided to get some DBA armies out over the weekend. I had a look through my blog and realised that my Roman desert frontier armies hadn't seem the light of day for five years, so I gave a couple of them an airing.

First up were the Parthians, who were attacking an Early Pre-Islamic Arab Nomad army. I selected the armies at random; where there was a choice of elements for a slot I diced for each one (within the limits of my figure collection). This gave the following armies:

Parthians: 1 x 4Kn General, 2 x 4Kn, 9 x LH

Arabs: 1 x Cv General, 1 x LH, 1 x LCm, 2 x Cm, 4 x 4Bd, 2 x 4Bw, 1 x Ps

The Arabs placed a couple of large areas of sand-dunes to slow the Parthian cavalry but allow their own camels free-reign. The Parthians elected to attack out of the dunes, hoping to get deployed before the Arabs could exploit their advantage.

The Arabs placed their swordsmen in the centre, flanked by archers in the scrub and some slingers on a rocky hill to their left. The camels were deployed behind the right flank, ready to swing out and engage the Parthians. The general and the light cavalry were held in reserve.

The Parthians massed their cataphracts in the centre, with horse-archers behind ready to swing out onto the flanks once the army was clear of the dunes. Groups of horse-archers covered the wider flanks.

Both armies got horrible PIP rolls. The Parthians surged forward in the centre, whilst the Arabs struggled to get their camels in position.

The Parthians formed a line, ready to charge, but lost an element of horse-archers to the Arab bowmen in the scrub.


The Arab foot melted away before the Parthian cataphracts - three of them destroyed in three combats. A Parthian victory was one element away.

The Arab general rushed in to stave off defeat.

The Parthians slowly pushed the lighter Arab horse back.

Meanwhile Parthian horse-archers engaged the camels that still hadn't made it to the dunes and the Parthian rear.

The Arab archers peppered the attacking Parthians with arrows, as their cavalry slowly fell back.

But had the Parthians over-extended themselves? 

The Arab archery paid off, destroying an element of cataphracts. and that left the Parthian general fighting Arab light horse with no flank support. This roll was just enough to destroy him, and give the Arabs an unexpected 4g-3 win.

I kept the Arabs in play and brought out the Early Imperial Romans. Again, I randomised the Roman element choices and got:

1 x 4Bd General, 4 x 4Bd, 4 x 4Ax, 1 x Cv, 1 x 3Wb, 1 x LCm

I used the same Arab army as in the previous game. Once again the Arabs defended. They opted for a more open terrain, hoping to use their mounted superiority to overlap the slower Romans.

The Legions of Rome!

Both armies opted to advance (I diced for their 'tactical decision'). The Roman right found itself under attack by massed camels, whilst the light Arab left was threatened by auxilia.

A first attack by the camels was easily repulsed.

In the centre the Arab swordsmen clashed with the Roman legionarii.

Some Arab archers fell to Rome's tribal allies.

And the auxilia on the Roman right destroyed some of the camels. In addition the legionarii flanked and destroyed some Arab swordsmen.

A shoving match developed in the centre, but eventually another element of Arab swordsmen was destroyed, and the army broke.

So a 4-0 win for the Romans against an Arab army that should have resisted a frontal assault.

Here's some bonus skirmishing camels, Romans on the left and Arabs on the right.

52 Games - Game 22

Friday, 25 February 2022

L'Art de la Guerre

After a break of over six months I finally played a game at the club last night!

Actually I turned up just to be sociable, but there was a spare place in a game, so I took it.

Anyway, Peter took on the task of teaching five of us how to play L'Art De La Guerre (ADLG). The Sassanid vs Roman setup we had looked great, but as starter armies they had a lot of little special abilities that I think made the game harder to learn.  We managed a few turns, though, and I think we all got the gist of the game even if we'd only really just got started when we had to pack up.

Here's my command - some bow-armed cavalry. I got to shoot up some Roman cavalry and evade being charged.

The centre. We did get some melee action here.

My cavalry intimidating the Romans. A lot of the Sassanids were15mm plastics from the Plastic Soldier Company. And very nice they were too.

I did find the game a little fiddly, but them my ancients gaming has been restricted to DBA for so long that anything would seem fiddly. In terms of mechanisms I didn't really see what the gain was, but it was pointed out to me that the extra chrome and granularity in the troop-types makes some matchups a lot more interesting that they would be in DBA - hoplites for example, where they are all simply Spears in DBA, but have armour and morale gradations in ADLG that makes for a more interesting game.

Anyway, it was good to try a new game, especially one that seems to be flavour of the month locally. And, of course, it adds another entry to my 52 Games project.

Thursday, 24 February 2022


Wednesday evening is becoming a regular boardgame evening in our house. It's the one evening that we eat our evening meal at the dining table, instead of in front of Netflix (or similar), and having eaten and being sat at a table it's just become sensible to get out a game of something afterwards.

This week Maya opted not to join us - she's bought some new fans for burlesque and wanted to practice with them - so Catherine and I got out StreetSoccer. We'd taken this on holiday and it was the one game we never got around to playing. 

StreetSoccer is such a wonderfully simple game - roll a D6, move a player, kick the ball and try to bounce it along as many of your players as possible - but is clever and exciting too. To my mind it captures the speed and thrills of an informal footy match in the park.

I took blue, and Catherine orange. This is just after kick-off, with the ball in play in Catherine's half, along with most of her players.

Within the first couple of minutes I nipped in and scored. That'll teach her to keep her goalie off his line.

I scored again, but then Catherine got the ball down my end of the field, and after a tense scramble in one of the corners scored her first goal, and then the equaliser. 

A fluffed goal-kick on my part saw her take possession in the dying minutes, and score the winner.

So a 3-2 win, to Catherine after being 2-0 down in the first half.

We set up anotehr game, and this time I firmly controlled the ball. Eight minutes (turns) in and I was 3-0 up, thanks to the powerhouse duo of M'Komo and Kim Yo Su up front.

Catherine ended up with all of her players in the middle of the pitch and spread from side to side, unable, because of crappy die rolls, to get them back into a better position and take control of the ball. Again and again I gained possession, and ran the ball to my dynamic duo, who then scored. I was 4-0 up eleven minutes in.

At the end - 25 minutes - I won 6-0. Catherine had had one decent run at a goal, which fizzled out before she could score. Even at the end I was setting up for my seventh goal, but didn't quite get time for the final shot.

Anyway, one game each seemed a fair way to end the evening.

In other news I spent some of our time away working on my ancient galleys, and some of teh time since we got back making a few new ones to bring each side up to 400pts, as suggested in the rules. Now I have to gear myself up for some painting. Off on the right of the picture is a mock-up design for a quadreme, which will be the next project.

52 Games - Game 20

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Holiday Games

This weekend was our wedding anniversary so, as is traditional, we went away for a few days. I didn't take any miniatures to play with, but did take my galleys to work on, managing to complete the modifications I wanted to make as well as plot out some new designs.

However just because there were no miniatures didn't mean that there weren't games to be played.

Actually the first game in this post was from our trip away, but a day or so before. We try to have at least one boardgame session each week after our tea, and on Wednesday Maya introduced us to Quacks of Quedlinburg.

Quacks is a push your luck game where each player is a maker of potions competing with other makers of potions in an annual competition. Over a series of rounds you stir various randomly determined ingredients from your supply into your pot, with each ingredient having some kind of special ability. At the end of the round you score points based on how full your pot is, and can buy new ingredients to add to your stock. As the game progresses you get access to better and better ingredients.

The downside is that some of the ingredients are unstable, and if you hit a certain threshold of these your pot explodes, reducing your scoring opportunities for the round.

One thing we noticed about the game is that there is virtually no opportunity to interact with the other players. Essentially you are playing a series of rounds on your own, looking to get the highest possible score. There is a rather neat mechanism which gives a bonus to players who are not in the lead - you get a bigger bonus the further behind you are, but that's really about it, and it's not something you can really exploit to affect another person. It was fun to play, though, and, like Sushi Go Party, is a configurable game, with each ingredient having four possible special abilities, so you can mix and match them to create variations in gameplay.

As a new game this year, Quacks counts towards my 52 Games project.

On to the holiday games. We started off with Codenames, since Catherine was keen to play some more of this, even two-player, where it's really a cooperative puzzle. We played in the local pub, interrupted only by the arrival of our food and the pub's decision to shut early because there weren't any customers but us.

I'll confess we had a couple of disastrous games; one where we managed a minimal win, and one where we completely failed to complete the grid. These were made up for by two excellent victories though. In this one Catherine was giving out the clues: 

And in this one I doled out the information, leading Catherine to a win in three turns.

Back in our hotel room we played Love Letter, since we always take that on holiday. I didn't get aby photos of that, but this is the first time we've played it this year, so it counts as one of my 52 Games. We played two games. I won the first 7-5, whilst Catherine romped to a 7-4 victory in the next game.

Our final game was Rhino Hero, a kind of reverse Jenga where the players build a wobbly apartment building out of cards and a rather heavy rhino superhero climbs up it. You win if the other person collapses the building, or if you get rid of all of the cards in your hand first. 

We played several games of this, as it's quick.

Here's the early stages. Some of the cards have special abilities - they can cause the other player to draw more cards, miss a turn or have to move Rhino Hero up a level or two.

Here's Rhino Hero. It's a wooden piece, so his weight can really make a difference to the stability of the building.

Catherine collapses the building!

But she soon got the hang of the game. Here she has just ditched all of her cards and completed a tower eleven wobbly stories high.

And her greatest triumph - thirteen stories.

We had a good time playing it (the wine we were drinking helped) but the card abilities don't work too well with just two players - you really need three or four people to get the most out of this game. It might not be too hard to create a two-player variant, though.

Anyway, Rhino Hero was another addition to my 52 Games.

The rest of the holiday involved exploring local towns, buying an eating cheese and wandering around beaches and bits of coastline. All very pleasant.

52 Games - Game 17

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Galley Redesign

A thread on the Galleys & Galleons Facebook group concerning ancient galleys got me thinking about the ones I made a couple of years ago. I'd played a few games with them, but had never been entirely satisfied with the models, and had always felt they needed a redesign. They obviously date from before I started using printed sea-bases and oars, so that upgrade was always on the cards, but I'd never felt that the look was quite right.

Anyway, yesterday I did some research (I Googled 'trireme' in an image search) had another look at my models, and came up with a redesign that I think captured their look a little better. 

On the left is the original galley. On the right is my slight redesign - another layer in the prow and a reversal of the stern post to better capture that curved look they have.

I'm quite please with how it turned out, so the next step is to remodel the other eleven triremes I have, then tidy up the paintwork, do the oars and base them. After that I can consider how to do bigger (easy) and smaller (less easy) ships.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Ten Years Of 'The Stronghold Rebuilt'

Today marks the tenth anniversary of this blog!

Actually it doesn't. I think I grabbed the name and URL a long while before I wrote the first post, in what was probably an attempt to salvage the old Stronghold website, but never got any further than that. However ten years ago we had a client who wanted to learn about blogging, and I remembered that I had the page partially set up, so in order to familiarise myself with the processes I started writing stuff.

The aim was, of course, to run a blog about 'Hordes of the Things', but it quickly became much more than that. It's become a pretty comprehensive record of all of my gaming activity for the past ten years, and in recent years has branched out into some regular non-gaming material as well - the burlesque posts, for example, and the annual Frocktober fundraiser.

I hope you regular readers still find it as entertaining as when you first found it, and that if you're a casual reader you'll find odd things to interest you. What have been your favourite Stronghold Rebuilt moments of the past ten years? 

Here's to the next ten years!

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Blood, Sweat & Cheers Campaign - Part 3

Could this be the last round of the campaign? It was possible for two of the schools to reach the 15 Prestige victory level if the matchups and bouts went their way. Let's see what happens!

Primus and Secundus were both given a free choice in this round. Primus decided to put forward the inexperienced Melanippe, hoping to get her matched against an experienced gladiator for the extra Prestige. Secundus put forward Telamonius. Tertius was asked to provide a medium gladiator, so was limited to the Secutor, Priedens, also inexperienced.

The matchups, in the order that they would fight, ended up as follows: Priedens vs Kalendio, Melanippe vs Hero and, finally, Telamonius vs Andromache. Tertius didn't get a chance to field Xanthus for a possible 4 Prestige win.

Round 5 - Bout 1 - Priedens (Secutor) vs Kalendio (Retiarius)

This was a quick, but exciting fight. Priedens advanced, but Kalendio had a hand of Glory cards ready, and immediately netted him. This thrilled the crowd, but they were equally thrilled when the secutor cut his way free. However Kalendio had more tricks up his manica, and a swift dagger thrust defeated Priedens.

Despite the short fight the crowd were merciful to the novice secutor, who earned 1 Prestige for Tertius. Kalendio picked up 2 Prestige for Secundus.

(The +1 Favour that Kalendio got for cutting out of the net saved him on the missio roll. It was close!)

Round 5 - Bout 2 - Hero (Murmillo) vs Melanippe (Dimacherius)

A first fight for the agile Melanippe, against the experienced and aggressive Hero. 

The bout started with a flurry of attacks and parries, before the two gladiators separated to catch their breath and assess their opponent.

Hero then charged in with a bold attack, and knocked down Melanippe. But before he could exploit his advantage she kicked out at him and knocked him down as well. They both got back up. 

Melanippe inflicted a flesh wound on Hero, and the back and forth fight continued. Melanippe took a risk; lining herself up for a finishing strike, she opted to dodge. Hero used good fortune to strike and seriously wound her. Before she could recover she was seriously wounded again. One more hit would finish her.

In desperation she struck back and managed to knock Hero to his knees. With her last reserves of strength she rushed in and stabbed him into submission, for an unlikely win.

The crowd really enjoyed this fight, and happily spared Hero who gained 1 prestige for Tertius. Melanippe picked up 3 Prestige for Primus for defeating an experienced gladiator.

Round 5 - Bout 3 - Telamonius (Scissor) vs Andromache (Barbarian)

Primus was now only 1 Prestige from victory, so all Andromache had to do was survive the fight. In fact this meant that she could play for a draw, but I decided that wouldn't be sporting and made sure she actually attempted to win.

Saying that, her initial moves where cautious, as she backed away across the arena, avoiding some early aggressive moves by her heavily armoured foe.

It wasn't good enough. Telamonius caught her a wicked blow, which she failed to parry, and she was down.

But Andromache actually had a point of crowd favour on her side, so couldn't fail the missio roll. She survived to give Primus 1 Prestige. Telamonius picked up 2 Prestige for Secundus.

And that was it! Primus now had 15 Prestige and won the campaign. Here's his victorious gladiators (even Syphax, who never fought).

The final totals were:

Primus - 15 Prestige

Melanippe (Dimacherius) - 1 Bout
Andromache (Barbarian) - 3 Bouts, +1 Defence
Satornilos (Thraex) - 2 Bouts, +1 Speed
Mongo (Murmillo) - 3 Bouts, +1 Defence
Syphax (Crupellarius) - 0 Bouts

Secundus - 11 Prestige

Valentinus (Retiarius) - 0 Bouts
Crixus (Secutor) - 0 Bouts
Margareites (Secutor) - 2 Bouts, +1 Attack
Telamonius (Scissor) - 4 Bouts, +1 Attack
Kalendio (Retiarius) - 2 Bouts
Baccibus (Veles) - 0 Bouts

Tertius - 13 Prestige

Xanthus (Barbarian) - 4 Bouts, +1 Speed
Teucris (Sagittarius) - 1 Bout
Artemisia (Thraex) - 0 Bouts
Hero (Murmillo) - 3 Bouts, +1 Attack
Priedens (Secutor) - 1 Bouts

I played a couple of small rules changes. I have discovered (and confirmed with the author) a small omission in the rules: When a Roar of the Crowd card is played to add the current Crowd Favour to an attack total, the Favour is then set to zero (neutrality). Amongst other things this improves the survival rate of gladiators, since an opponent's positive crowd favour counts against them in the missio roll. If you use Roar of teh Crowd to defeat your opponent, then you don't get an improved chance of the crowd dispatching them afterwards. However I guess You could opt to not spend some of the points if you didn't need them too win ...

The second change is based on a passing comment in the second edition rules - I have been allowing teh Imperial Favour card to be played as a wild card - Strike, Step or Guard - so that it has a purpose outside of a campaign. The change is to have it act as a Glory card instead. 
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