Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Whaddiyah Get When You Cross A...

Work is now well under way on organizing, painting and basing my 4cm Elastolin Romans. First up, they needed a mounted General to command in the field.

Comes Imonsey Magnus and Tribune Jehanus  

I didn't actually have one, or even a spare cavalryman but I did have 2 commanders on foot and a very Heroic Horse from one of my Norman knights. A bit of scrounging turned up a volunteer Saxon knight to provide legs. Not bad but the pointing thing was, well, ok, but then I noticed that his scabbard was empty. Right! A few minutes later I had a spare Elastolin arm with sword from, well, I'm  not sure which kit it was from, I don't seem to be missing one. A little chopping, gluing  (gotta love hard plastic), pinning, puttying and painting and  tada! It belatedly occurred to me that it might have been useful to paint him to match my commander on foot so that I could have had foot and mounted versions of the character like I do for the Prince. Oh well. I'm intending the Romans for massed battles anyway.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Re-Gathering of Hosts

When a month went by without me being able to talk myself into playing another game or even painting or basing any figures for this high priority project I knew I had a problem. I decided to review my objectives and revisit the rules once again since I really wasn't sure where they were headed. Uncertainty is the death of enthusiasm.

Inside the walls of Nulpartium the anxious garrison watches a vital convoy under assault.

The primary goal was something new which would be suitable for a convention setting where there would be 6 or 8 players, each with up to a dozen units, who would be given a 5 minute briefing and a QRS and then thrown into battle. Past experience tells me that this can work, even with novice gamers, if the rules are simple and clear. A quick review confirmed my suspicion that I had been wandering away from straight forward.

A secondary goal was to develop something that a gamer in the 70's might have cobbled together bssed on published rules with the provisio that it had to work with single unit stands regardless of the number of figures. That pretty much left me working with Morschauser's Shock Period rules despite my own experience back then all being WRG and Featherstone. I'm sure there are other possible sources of inspiration but I'd as soon work with what I am already familiar with.

The last couple of drafts had wandered so far from Morschauser's rules that the inspiration was no longer recognizable. I got out my copy and started over.

A replay of the ol' wagon train. Romans under attack by Germanic allies of the Huns.
The first thing I did was to review the very bloody melee rules to look at the odds and whether converting the both die result to a tie would help or if there was at least a way to use his factors and simplicity. I managed the last two by turning the melee rating into the number of dice to be rolled and using his shooting dice scores for melee as well.

Next I ditched all the excess fidgety bits I had added about formations and low level tactics. I also ditched the new sequence of play and went back to move and/or shoot on your turn with a joint melee phase at the end. I kept the initiative roll since I like it and it goes back at least as far as Featherstone.
Just when all looked bleak with Barbarians amidst the Bullocks, the Tribune sacrificed himself to save the last wagon. By a freak of the dice the Barbarian chieftain was slain on the farside of the hill at the same time. When the dust settled both armies were shaken and could no longer shoot or attack. Only the city garrison was unaffected, including the unit of cavalry which had ridden out to save the convoy. One cart has been ransacked, another was abandoned when the driver panicked but can now be rescued while the 3rd was indeed saved by the Tribune since the Huns, who were about to slay the driver and pillage it, also panicked when their Chieftain fell.
The end result of this was a cracking little Wagon Train game that had me on the edge of my seat  until the whole thing was upturned and reversed at the last minute. I am stoked now to get back to painting and basing and to play some more games.

The Version 7 draft is now posted click here  or use the link to the left.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lost in Time

Alas a busy week including a long weekend away has driven the details of rules and the last game out of my head.

The Barbarians deployed 6 companies of lightly armoured infantry trained in shieldwall and shock tactics, 2 companies of archers and a company of light shock cavalry.  Two of the infantry stands contained a commander. Off table were 3 companies of  heavy shock cavalry inc General and 6 stands of horde archers.

The Midlish force fielded 4 stands on pikemen, 3 of swordsmen, 2 archers and 3 knights, 2 on armoured horses. Apart from the Earl there were 2 infantry captains.

The shieldwalls proved tough opposition for the knights and for the pikemen but eventually they were broken just as the barbarian reinforcements arrived. The combination of cavalry and archers proved too much for the swordsmen who were a bit down on their luck. By turn 6 the Midlish held the objective and were braced for the counter attack.

<Please insert mental picture of one of the photos I was sure that I had taken of the 2nd half.>

The horse archers began by riding around taking pot shots while the Barbarian knights moved into position but given the short amount of time remaining, and the shortage of space, the horse archers needed some extra luck to do more than weaken the enemy and eventually one group got caught when evading and another group evaded off the table and out of the battle. The final charge by the Barbarian knights supported by the horse archers came close to breaking the Midlish knights but not close enough and the Barbarian morale collapsed with the death of their General.

There will be more of these games ahead in the next few months. Some with magic, some with walls and siege engines, some big and some small but hopefully with increasingly better presentation with names, background stories, terrain and bases.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Roughing It

I don't have time for a full post but after some thought on where I want this 40mm Elastolin fantasy campaign and the rules to go, I started borrowing ideas from Rough Wooing and replayed the game with slightly different troops.
No monsters or magic this time around.

So far so good. More sometime in the next week.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Oh Dem Bones

Yesterday I decided that I needed a day to chill so I gave notice and retired to my room. I wanted to do a bit work on some figures or terrain but I also wanted to play a quick, simple game. It didn't take long to  decide that a fantasy game using some of the Elastolin 40's would fit my mood best despite the makeshift state of those armies.

Flipping through Thomas's One Hour Wargame I selected Number 27: Disordered Defence. Despite being inspired by Shiloh it takes place on an empty table apart from a crossroad as objective. I added some low hills and then scattered a few bits of vegetation around with the result looking rather like an arid uninhabited plain on the North-Eastern frontier of the Midlands. The caravan trails didn't meet at the right spot so I cast my eyes about for a suitable marker. Last year, my friend Lawrence, who made the Balloons for me, bought himself a 3d printer. He brought some samples to a group game last fall and I couldn't resist asking for one of the enlarged orange plastic dragon skull keyring tags (OK probably considered a Dinosaur skull by most). At the time I wasn't sure exactly how I would fit it in but it looked like it had potential. Yesterday I decided that with a lick of paint it would look just the thing for an objective marker in the desolate wastelands of the frontier.
Stand-To for man and monster as dawn and the enemy approach.
(the lighting was too dark on one side and too light on the other for the poor smartphone to handle)
I had wanted to delay playing more games with the Elastolin's until I got them sorted and based with names and back stories established and so on but the need was great so I persisted.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it but I am yet again looking at my table as I contemplate renovations to take advantage of changes in life. One attractive alternative that arose last year but wasn't practical then was to have a smaller permanent table with a larger surface for full games. It is practical now so the question is whether to keep the existing table with an option to expand temporarily to 6'x5' or go down to a more convenient 4'x4' with a 4'x6' extension. To test the 4'x4' I walled off the last foot of table and expanded the 3'x3' OHW map to fit a 4'x4' area. On the suggested 3'x3' table. two of my 60mm stands fit within lower end of the 4" to 6"  unit frontage recommended by Thomas giving me at most 12 units. On the larger table 3 stands fit with the upper end adjusted for a larger table allowing me 18 units and a bit more depth to the game. The armies themselves are planned to be about 36 stands for full scenarios. Since I was using adjoc forces assembled from various armies I didn't have enough clearly marked command stands so did not use the optional command rules.

The situation then was this. The Great King of the East (TBD) has sent a force of wild barbarians (name?) backed by fierce lizard men (name?) to seize the famous skull of the dragon Pryntahd, a creature of ancient myth and legend. Attached to the skull is a large golden ring said to have once held a magical ruby which, if restored, would bring the dragon back to life and obedience. Getting wind of the Great King's plan, the King of the Midlands has sent the Earl of Belmont to drive off the intruders.

On table, the Barbarian Earl Helgin has deployed his force carelessly while he awaits the arrival of the Wizard. 3 companies of tribesmen hold an insignificant rise to his front left, 2 companies of archers and his single company of horsemen hold the front right while his bodyguard and the lizardmen camp back by the skull itself.  He expects the Wizard to arrive soon with 6 companies of horse archers, a company of Crabhan and Blaug the Terrible.

The Earl, almost as thoughtlessly diced for his deployment and placed 6 companies on his left, 2 each of swordsmen, bows and handgunners, a cannon and 2 stands of pikemen in the centre (one freshly painted)  and himself with 3 companies of knights on the right.  

(Note I included the Wizard (name TBD) and the Enchantress as I was thinking of including some magic but ended up with my hands full and they defaulted to mere window dressing)

I started off with the rules as used for the Atilla game in April. Three turns in and it was clear that the combination of scenario, units chosen and rules was not working for me. Since I liked the forces chosen I decided to revisit the rules, something I'll cover in a separate post. I reset and all went well except that almost all of the few crappy pictures that I did take got accidentally deleted.

The game began with an unprecedented successful bombardment of the Lizardmen by the artillery. If you want a dull, predictable solo game, don't rely on dice!  The 2 on 1 assault by the Midlish left had some tense moments but those dice interfered again and eventually the barbarian right was cleared away with the loss of only one Midlish stand. On the right the Knights stormed up the hill into the barbarian shieldwall. In the aborted game they had obliterated it without breaking a sweat, this time there was plenty of blood spilled before the shieldwall was dispersed.  The fight between the Lizardmen and pikemen was fierce and it was only the casualties carried over from the bombardment that tipped the day in favour of the Midlands. Helgin did his best to hold the Skull by himself (well, with his hearthguard actually) but was surrounded and shot down. So far, so good. Then the 2nd wave appeared.

The mid-point of the game. Helgin was disposed of as the reinforcements appeared. Now the Midlanders brace for the counter attack.

The horse archers were down right annoying and scary. On the Midland left, there were enough foot archers to make it an even fight but on the right there was nothing to answer them with and no one fast enough to catch them. Nothing to do but endure and be thankful for armour, or die. 

At last, in the centre, came Blaug and the Crabhen. Poor Blaug his tummy is larger than his wings so he only got to hop at heavy cavalry speed and I didn't give him the aerial target benefit. I did let him breathe fire and have lots of melee dice and top endurance. He just couldn't bring himself to hurt people though, or remember to cover his tummy when shot at. The scenario as most OHW scenarios calls for armies to fight to the last man but old habits die hard and I called the game when Blaug rolled over on his back and the Eastern hordes hit their normal breakpoint. 

(I did go back this evening and play out the last few turns but neither side was destroyed and the Midlanders still held the objective so nothing was changed.

As Blaug sinks to the ground the Evil, nameless, Wizard arises to confront the Enchantress. They exchange dramatic words then, realizing spells were not in play, the Wizard vanished in a puff of smoke and the game was over. 

My next post will include comments on the respective strengths and weaknesses of the two competing turn sequences and on the revised combat system which draws inspiration from my new 19th Century rules as well (hopefully)  as pictures of a refight using the move, move, all shoot, all melee sequence with the revised melee table.