Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Smaller Gathering

For those who don't follow my main blog, I have decided to downsize my permanent table in order to make room for a work table.  Before I decide on a final size I have been playing some short test games. Today I tried a 25mm Gathering of Hosts game on a 40"x56" table using 2" lengths for moving and shooting.

The last tale of the Westmen was their rescue of a captured priestess. Obviously the ensuing negotiations did not go well since we find a force of Westmen holding a gap between a forest and some broken ground against the Earl of Cowcross. Both armies had 18 units or 1/2 the planned maximum.

Early on. The Midlish archers and cannon have already hammered the Westmen spear blocks.
After the last game I was happy leaving most troop types to factor their armour into their melee effectiveness, only noting especially well armoured heavy troops such as knights on foot or riding barded horses etc. After this game I'm still happy with that.

The 2 things I still wasn't happy with was the new rule to encourage cavalry to rally back and carry out multiple charges rather than getting stuck in a scrum like heavy infantry and the pikes/spear rules which did nothing to encourage traditional phalanx/schiltron etc blocks.

The cavalry rule should reflect traditional tactics based on the shock impact of cavalry and their vulnerability if mobbed by infantry in a melee so should be built into the rules rather than being the player's choice. For these rules, it also needs to be simple, straight forward and not require markers or a good memory. The 2 leading contenders were to explore the idea of introducing a melee resolution rule that includes pushbacks or to just rule that cavalry that attack and don't destroy their enemy immediately fallback facing the enemy. It worked well and easily to give the right sort of result.

The spearmen were harder, they have a slight degree of protection against cavalry but are otherwise just slow light infantry that can't handle bad terrain and they have no more reason than any other unit to huddle in mobs. I decided to borrow and adapt a support rule I played with in the gridded GofH. The simpler version I tried here was to allow spear units of the same Division which are touching and aligned to shift hits from unit to unit. This makes the spear phalanx somewhat clumsy as it tries to maintain formation but makes a block of them hard to eliminate. When they do finally reach their limit with all or most at 3 hits, they break in a rush. Just right.
Mid-game. The Westfolk cavalry have won the fight on the flank, b6t the first assault by the Wildmen has been repulsed with heavy losses and reserves on both sides have been committed.
The armies were as follows:
Generals have 2 SP, other commanders 1, no magic or special abilities were used. All commanders were marked by flags except the Lion Queen who was a last minute addition to make up numbers.
Left or Imperial Division.
3 x pikes 1 inc Imperial Tribune
2 x heavy cavalry
1 x artillery

Center or Main Battle.
Earl of Cowcross, general and household knights on barded horses
2 x heavy cavalry
3 x archers

Right or Van
Lord Ravenwood with Black Company, heavily armored knights (barded horses)
1 x crossbows
3 x spearmen
1 x mounted crossbows

The Hill Lord with bodyguard of light infantry
3 light infantry
1 archer
3 light cavalry

Red Captain with spearmen
2 spearmen

Gold Captain with spearmen
1 spearmen
1 archers

Lion Queen, General with Body Guard
Gurt Hairie Beastie
2 light cavalry.
End Game. After pulling back behind the hill to shelter from the Midlish archers and draw them forward, the Westmen Spears supported by Tha Gurt Hairy Beastie counter attacked and drove back or slaughtered the archers and the Knights that tried to save them. A final desperate charge by the Wild folk led by the Lion Queen herself broke the left hand Midlish Division and won the day even though the Queen's escort was wiped out and she herself slightly wounded. 

Most of the Westfolk center and right, inc the general, were down to 1 hit by the end so it was darned close despite losses of 8 units and a leader vs 4. Most of the remaining Midlish units were in good shape as was the small Westmen left. Possibly a retirement by the Imperial pikes and an assault by the remaining heavy cavalry would have been wise but the pikemen defeated the first attack so handily that the general might have gotten a bit cocky, or maybe he just didn't think of it. 

Next step, a Gathering of the Nothern Confederates.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Anglo French Reprise Game

Belatedly, here is a very brief report on the last of the test games played 3 weeks ago. I did this as a straight Anglo-French encounter dropping the armour saves and using fixed numbers of melee and shooting dice.
The English march on.

As do the French. Fewer missile troops and light cavalry but with a strong force of heavy cavalry.

Fierce street fighting in the town. Some buildings change hands several times. The English Prickers have seized the road exit, but can they hold it?

Eventually both armies were exhausted and no longer able to attack but the French held the town giving them a marginal victory.
In short, I was happy with how everything worked. I'm not sure why one would use huge pikeblocks but then I've nevet found a good rationale for not using smaller ones historically either and first person accounts indicate that infantry of the time could be detached in small groups when the situation called for it and these blocks might not have been quite ad monolithic as some rules and historical summaries suggest. That said the key to all phalanx formations is "no gaps".

I think breaking an army into "divisions" each with their own bresk point would do well enough but perhaps allowing pikes to pass hits to an adjacent stand of the same would give good incentive to maintain formation.

In any event I am having a rethink on this consolidation of projects, not because it wouldn't work but because I've realized that I would miss the diversity of game options. So it looks like Prince Michael, Rough Wooing and the Five zkingdoms will remain 3 active, separate collections although I might just keep Michael in this world, set somewhere between the golden age of Queen Joanna of Valdur and the time of Five Kingdoms.  Its also tempting to add some character figures to Rough Wooing but I suppose command stands will suffice.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Roads and Swords Pt 2.

The bulk of the Midlish pikes bypass the town  to seize the road ahead.
The short summary of the game is that it was OK but not great.

This was the 3rd test game with armour saves and my bottom line is that despite their Old School heritage,  I still don't like them. They do help the games last longer but not by adding more decision points or added reslism,  they do it by nearly doubling the number of die rolls and sometimes reversing decisions. They do appear to allow more granularity in troop types but it is often a false one. What data is there for rating a jack vs a mail shirt?  Are tassets worth a 50% increase in your save? What if a unit has a mix of armour values? In short it goes against the big picture approach that I like about Morschauser.

As the Northern swordsmen assault the village the heavily  armoured reserve cavalry crashes into the Centaurs, sending the handful of survivors fleeing towards safety despite Preisages  presence. 
The switch to a series of 1 on 1 melees helped a bit but it was still too easy to pick off a wounded unit or to gang up. I revisited Morschauser's roster and realized I missed s key aspect. When 2 units do not have the same strength, the strong one uses the same number of dice ad the weakness. His extra strength gives him staying power but does not allow him to give more than he risks thus allowing the weaker side a better chance to even the playing field, especially if they have a higher Melee Point. This is how the heavies can beat lights with less risk when fighting multiple rounds.

Casualties are mounting on both sides but the Northmen have been able to save most of their wounded units while their light troops have managed to destroy several Midlish units with missile fire or by outmanouvering isolated units. 

This morning, after much thought, I decided to take the rules, which are a little closer to the latest version of Rough Wooing, and test them on 16thC French vs English instead of fantasy troops. I ditched the armour save and gave most units 4 hits but 2 dice regardless of remaining strength. I also brought in a control check if being without a commander. The result was just what I was trying to achieve. 

The rules are updated and posted here as a blog page. A post on today's game to follow.

The Northmen combine numbers and good luck to wipe out the garrison  of the town bringing the Midlish army to its breakpoint while taking the objectives from them.