Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Born in Battle

Well, it was a fierce-some battle, no doubt about it, but the Northern Federation Herdsmen are finally painted and ready to take their place in the battleline.
Here come the Herdsmen.
I was looking forward to painting these from the time I got them right up until the moment I looked at the primed figures and realized that I had no idea really who they were, how they should be dressed, and what painting techniques I should use the get the right look for what I wanted. A week later after several short, unsatisfactory  painting sessions, I was just about ready to quietly pack them away again.

Luckily I can sometimes get stubborn and after figuring out who they were and experimenting a bit, and remembering a bit, I started putting in some longer sessions and experimenting and they finally started coming together. Then it started to feel tedious with no end of little details and shading to do, and redo, so I decided to just push through and finish them.  So there are a few spots where the shading etc aren't quite what I wanted but the glossy finish helps and at arms length they have the right look and I am well satisfied. 

The Dalefolk Muster
The Northern Federation is composed of several Folk or People of which the largest are the Dalefolk who live in the open, rolling, country between the mountains and the sea. Along the rivers the bulk of the population live in small farming villages surrounded by their fields. In the uplands the land is less fertile and crops and orchards are replaced by herds of sheep, cattle and horses tended by wandering tribes of Herdsmen.

By tradition, these farmers and herders are Freemen beholden to none but each other, abiding by the laws adopted by the people  themselves and serving in arms when the people are threatened. However, long years of war saw the rise of powerful Lords, each with his band of armoured horsemen,  and now most Freemen swear fealty to one of these Lords and pay taxes to help maintain him and his horsemen in his stronghold perched on its hilltop while the Lords in turn swear allegiance to a High King. In return, the King and Lords  defend the borders and enforce the laws and it is only in times of National Crisis that the Freemen take up shield and spear, axe or bow and march to war.

and there they go.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Another Gathering of Horse Archers

Bow and spear armed light cavalry were a staple feature of the old Valdurian army. They featured as far back as the first recorded battle.

New Recruits in Training - 25mm Garrison Hyrkanians.

It comes as no surprise then that the cavalry heavy armies of the Northern Confederation which included Steppe tribes as well as  Valdurians, also featured horse archers.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Dragon Wagons

The game has been fought!
As the convoy winds its way forward the Huns appear to block the Eastern road. The artillery in the fort, having run out of Greek Fire (Magical weapon) opens up with rocks. All game long the Hun levy infantry  didn't care for that as shown by the number of morale rolls of 3 or 4 when hit! 
After much thought I decided that I needed two house rules.

1. Third time lucky. If the 1st unit fails its activation, it is done but a 2nd unit may try. If it fails, it is done but a 3rd unit may try. If it fails then the player's turn is over. Once one unit has been activated, the first failure ends the player turn.

2. Love your friends. The 3" rule for enemy holds but units may move as close as 1" to friends. A unit moving to contact an enemy may not ride through one units 3" zone to attack a unit farther away but it can attack the closest enemy or the middle of a line of units even if this violates the 3" rule for a unit farther away or to the side of the target.

Both rules helped ALOT! Mind you I still had a couple of player turns where no one activated. Not many though.

For the first few turns the Goth's catapult was their only unit showing. A charge by the Duke drove it back into the woods where he left it but by the time he met the King of the Goths most of his bodyguard had been crushed by comic book rocks. 
With 4 factions, I made a deck with 4 cards, one for each faction, and  pulled cards each turn to determine the sequence. That worked well.

I made the  wagons into 3 "units" of 2 stands each and allowed each to move with a unit which was touching it. The unit was assumed to be spread up and down the line so any attack   on the wagons was an attack on the escort.
The Roman cavalry has sallied forth but not in time to prevent the Duke from being wounded by the Goth King.
The game lasted longer than I expected and was full of incidents and reversals of the sort that make for good stories so that worked. The combat was also OK and the more generous activation worked well. Not sure the game would have worked for me without it.
Many turns later, the Huns have fled, beaten  by the hails of arrows from the Roman catapult, the Clibinari and the British Scouts. Four wagons have fled for safety to the fort but two were still in danger. Prince Micheal routed one band of Goths but was grieviously wounded. A hail of arrows from the remnant of the Roman Clibinari routed the wild  Rugi and slew the Goth King. Heroes of the day! The arrows from these brave horsemen routed 6 units in all plus, indirectly, the Hun King and slew the Goth King. Only the British scouts came near them.
Conclusions? This should work for a convention game. Would I use it at home afterwards? Maybe but probably not, I suspect its a better game against a live opponent. So should I go back to home rules for the convention? or stick with the plan?

I'm undecided.

I am decided on restoring the bases though and the 2 stand units will stay! (for battles, not Prince Valiant skirmishes)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Prince Valiant and The Relief of Castle Rampant (1)

Having played a first test game of Dragon Rampant, I figured it was time to try it with the Prince Valiant Elastolins.

Having recently de-based the figures the obvious course of action was to make up 6 and 12 figure units as per the rules. It didn't take long to figure out that eight 24 pt armies were going to call for something like 90 cavalry and  240 foot. I might be able to fill that roster if I get busy gluing and painting, and maybe cast up a few Prince August Vikings, but I don't really want to and that is A LOT of loose Elastolins bouncing around far from home.

Luckily I kept the bases and if this test game works it won't take much to restore them. I have trees that need washer bases anyway. The plan is to use 2 bases for each unit, 2 cavalry or scouts or 4 infantry per base with little dice to track hits. 
What the game might look like if no Huns show up.
I find it helpful to try new rules with a familiar scenario to see how the two mesh. Since I've been pondering a larger, more complex, multiplayer castle relief setting for the Huzzah game, I decided to try CS Grant's Wagon Train scenario from scenarios for wargames.

It seemed unlikely that the list of Grant units would smoothly translate into four commands each of 24 points so I wasn't really surprised when it did. I'm used to the unlikely happening!

Here are the 24 point factions:

Roman Castle Garrison:
(only the cavalry may leave the castle)
Heavy Riders: 4 pts
Heavy Riders with Bow: 5 pts
2 Light infantry, mixed bow and spear: 10 pts
1 Catapult (Heavy Missile): 5 pts

Allied Relief Force:
Comitatus: Disciplined Elite Riders: 8 pts
Heavy Riders: 4 pts
Scouts: 2 pts
2 Offensive Light Infantry: 10 pts

Hun Attackers:
Comitatus: Elite Riders with Bow: 8 pts
2 Light Horse: 8 pts
Scouts: 2 pts
Offensive Light Infantry Javelins: 6 pts

Rugii Attackers:
Comitatus: Armoured Bellicose foot: 6
2 Offensive Light Foot: 10
2 Light Archers: 8

Now to set up some Glory Points or whatever they are called, for control of wagons, dueling etc . With multiple players I intend to let people give points to other players and strike up deals in the spirit of the times.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The affair of Na dallag naomh

It was a frosty December morning when the Earl of Cowcross gave the order to begin the march home.

Cuan na Banrigh
The Queen's Hound, armed with a sharp, heavy axe and protected by enchanted tattoos and the Witch's Brew

The trip to the secret cave holding the sacred Dallag, whose power was said to hold together the alliance of the People of the  Woods and the Men of the Valleys, had been easy. Too easy  really, and the Earl suspected that the enemy would not let them go as easily.
The march begins. The mounted Foresters with their latches leading the way. The Spearmen on the right are carrying the Chest said to contain the sacred relic. 
It took a bit of time to get the troops moving and the enemy was in view before any but the Foresters had  started on the road home. Fortunately the enemy was just as slow to gather.

Some enemy horsemen showed behind his right so the Earl sent his Lances to see them off and they did so in short order. But the enemy rallied not far away as an unnatural mist rolled out of a small wood heading for the Lancers. As the mist rolled over them there was suddenly a ferocious battle cry followed by the screams of men and horses and a stream of bloodied men and horses fled past the Earl  and disappeared up a mountain glen from which none ever returned.

Cuan na Banrigh, hidden in a magical mist, routs the Midlandish cavalry. 
With the Blood Lust upon him, Cuan rushed through the wood and assaulted the Earl's archers who had been sending flights of arrows in amongst the Old Ones, protected only by their tattoos, plaid cloaks and the trees of the forest.  The archers were of sterner stuff than the lancers though and gave hard  strokes before falling back.

The mounted crossbows spurred ahead to seize and hold the  clearing along the road home.  Out of the  woods sprang a fresh band of wild tribesmen and despite boldly defending themselves, the horsemen were forced to fallback only to be ambushed again and scattered to the winds.
A Raven's eye view of the battle field. The Midlandish forces are down to the Earl's Household and 2 Schiltrons. The West Folk have not lost any units.
No sooner had this disaster struck the Midlandish forces when Cuan struck again, scattering the remaining archers. By now the lead schiltron had drawn near to the final patch of the woods and the Queen and her picked companions could no longer control their bloodlust. Like furies they threw themselves onto the sharp spears of their enemy and drove them back.

Unable to resist the urge to draw blood the Queen's Guard drives the Midlandish spearmen back. 
The Earl decided it was time to lay aside the mantle of command and let himself be a just a Knight. Leading his household companions  forward he dashed into unit after unit of savage warriors, bloodied and tired, they had no answer but to melt back into the woods. Then the Queen stood against him but once again good steel and years of disciplined training at arms was more than a match for the fury of wild beasts and desperate warriors. Unable to come near the Earl and with her devoted Lioness wounded, she called her warriors back into the woods and they faded away leaving the scouts to trail the enemy.
The Earl glares at the enemy scouts as his last unit of spearmen lugs the sacred chest to safety.
(Note: The Clerics and Wisemen of the Midlands will soon be analyzing  the armies and the battle and a summary of their debates will be presented here.)