Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last Game of the Year

Nothing quite says "non historical" like Scots fighting lizard men riding on a dinosaur. No battle report I'm afraid but lots of "stuff" to come in January.


Highlanders are a mix of converted Minifig, Partha and Prince August figures. No idea who made the lizard stuff, late '70's I think.


The rest of the table. The Midlish resist a Turanian invasion.

Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Re-awakening of Hosts

I was wrong. It's not easier putting all posts on 1 blog, its harder! So the 25mm medieval fantasy campaign is coming back here.

Garrison Saxon Fyrd being recruited into the Northern Confederation as peasant levies.

Early next year I will be sorting out my 25mm figures and making final decisions on how many troops and kingdoms are needed for this venture.

I have already decided that the some or all of the Scots from the Westfolk will rejoin the Midlands army. This will make the Westfolk untenable as a power so I am looking at the old Valdurian Dalriada alliance or in other words merging the wilder parts of the Westfolk with elements of the Northern Confederation, including some non- human ones and also wondering if the Scythian types should again fight for the Great King.

That would leave me with 3 very different armies for gaming and a slightly greater leftover figure pile but also  fewer OS 25mm figures to paint or refurbish allowing me to focus on other things.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Gathering of Posts


Please visit 
gameofmonth.blogspot.ca/  and 
The Gathering of Hosts (5 Kingdoms) Page 
for more on the armies and wars of the Five Kingdoms.


Hard to believe but in 30 days it will be 6 years since I began this, my first blog (as opposed to website).  My original mission statement still stands in broad terms though the result is now 5 smaller armies in 1 setting vs 2 and that setting is medieval/fantasy ve ancients but it is still based on a core of my original 25mm armies.

A glance at the posting totals for GofH shows that it has struggled for attention against the Battle Game of the Month with about 1/5th the number of posts, and initially, all the battle reports went there. I'm making some changes to my main blog and decided that its time to give myself a break and maintain a single blog plus pages.

Work is about to get underway on the Army of the Northern Confederation. A mix of refurbished Minifigs from the original Valdurian army of the early '70s with Garrison and Prince August figures. Check gameofmonth.blogspot.ca for progress.

The idea is that each of my remaining collections will have a living page attached to the blog which will summarize the setting, perhaps with some potted history, and then go on to catalogue the armies as they grow. The Battlegame blog itself will still host battle reports,  rules discussions, new figures and basically whatever I feel the urge to blog about.

This blog will be left available to anyone who wishes to browse the archives for as long as Blogger is willing to host it.

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.
Midlands
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

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

Centre
Red Captain with spearmen
2 spearmen

Left
Gold Captain with spearmen
1 spearmen
1 archers

Reserve
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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Crossing paths and crossing swords Pt1

On Sunday I was ready to go when Rob's call came in on Google Hangout. Alas, as so often in military matters, things beyond our control intervened. (That's why we use dice right?) For some reason the video kept dropping to a very low resolution or else pixelating. This made it virtually impossible for Rob to make out what was happening. We've had the occasional issues during past games but never this prolonged. After trying various things including changing equipment, I gave up and blamed our broadband service which has been giving us some issues. Rob and I had a good chat and then later, I played the game solo.

The armies advance and flank guards clash as the main bodies rush towards the objectives.
The scenario was the first one from Stuart Asquith's guide to solo wargaming. Two forces are converging on a town with orders to garrison it and then march off the far end. One army has a preponderance of fast moving light troops while the other has more slow but well armoured heavy troops.

The armoured Midlish swordsmen expected to sweep the enemy skirmishers aside but the dice didn't favour them and they soon found themselves flanked and struggling. Eventually the skirmishers fellback and their shooting backed by a unit of archers made the newly painted swordsmen the first unit destroyed.   The Crabhen and the new unit of archers were the 2nd & 3rd units destroyed. Figures.

Each army had 22 units and 3 characters.
Lists, comments and more pictures to follow in Pt 2.


From the other side. There is some fighting in the village while the Knights and Bantha eye each other. Later, analysts would call this moment a lost opportunity for the Midlish cavalry. A swift commitment of knights and reserve into an attack around the enemy right and into their rear might have been decisive. 




Saturday, July 11, 2015

Preparing for another Go

Tomorrow Rob is going to do the Wizardy sort of thing and appear magically at my wargames table while his body remains 100's of km away. In preparation I have not only been painting and basing troops and selecting a scenario but also reviewing the test games so far. By and large I am happy with the direction the rules are going but I want to add a bit more "flavour" and distinction to various troop types without getting more complicated, or much more. This means as much as possible playing with unit stats and capabilities rather than new general rules. There are also one or two disconcerting things about multi-unit combat that have had me pondering since May.

The issues are threefold but related. It seems to be too easy to gang up on 1 enemy unit, too easy to flank it and it is often too easy to ignore supporting troops thus robbing formations of some of their value. This latter point particularly bothers me trying to maintain battle lines seems to have been a major feature of ancient warfare. No doubt to avoid the easy flanking mentioned above. 

Since I want to stay as close to the original as I can while developing a game I like better, I went back for a look. The issues are dealt with in the original in 3 ways. First, for a flanking attack, every part of the attacker's base must be behind the enemy's front. Secondly a unit may not pass within 3" of 1 unit to attack a different unit and lastly melees are fought 1 unit vs 1 unit so if you gang up 2 on 1 the melees are fought sequentially not simultaneously. There is a fourth rule that sort of affects the sort of overwhelming attack I have had problems with, in the original the attacks are carried out 1 die at a time until 1 side is eliminated. So if a 1 SP unit is attacked by a 4SP unit, it doesn't roll 1 die vs 4 hoping to survive as the best possible outcome, instead it fights a series of 1 vs 1 fights and if tough, might win all of the fights and wipe out the enemy. A unit may also fight back as often as it is attacked and if an attacker wins it may initiate melee against anther unit which is in range It is a less deterministic, more heroic approach. 

It occurred to me today that the abbreviated QRS version of the Engagement zone is rather less explicit one than the unwritten full one from HofT that I have been applying direct from memory and that the squares make this sort of thing Soooooo much easier. But I'm not going there yet so I'll just flush it out a bit while referring back to Joe.

Beyond that, I am going to try 2 tweaks for melee. Instead of every one rolling at once I am going to try having 2 pairs of units resolve combat, if they survive the next attacking unit will get a go and the defender will get to fight back again. I thought about trying the pushback rule in melee again but I'll let it slide for now.

Now on to more differentiation between troop types and tactics. 

Skirmishers. I'm still not happy with the difference between massed archers and skirmishers and horse archers. In the last game Rob fielded some skirmish units on each side that only had 2SP each. That's close to what I had been thinking about the first time I limited shooting and movement but really just makes them a weaker archer unit since otherwise they are the same, What I am going to try is to put massed archers back to shoot OR move but with 4SP while skirmishers and horse archers may shoot AND move but with a shorter range and only 2SP per unit. To avoid having them too vulnerable I will compensate  by giving them an evade rule in melee.

Armour and Cover.  During the last game Rob reversed the armour saves so that low is good. I grumbled but went along and in truth it does not make any difference (unless you are using loaded dice!).  However it does make sense to save a benefit increases your saving throw number. More importantly, he gave troops in cover a saving throw bonus rather than a modifier on their "to hit" throw and in retrospect that is simpler and more consistent. I'll leave it to any bored statisticians to work out the difference in final probability.

Unit Type Tactics.  One of the things I have been most unhappy with is that in the original Morschauser rules all troops are essentially the same in melee apart from some being stronger or faster. I have started introducing some differentiation and I want to go farther. 

Cavalry. Even medieval knights, are known more for repeated charges than for prolonged rugby scrum type melees so I will add a charge bonus hopefully encouraging them to occasionally rally back. 

Massed Infantry. I have been struggling to come up with a way to represent the solidity of massed infantry. A line of units should help protect individuals from being flanked thus providing a purpose for a phalanx but what about a deep phalanx or a pike square?  If I had a retreat result for melee then a second rank could counter it, or the rear rank they could maybe add 1 die to the unit in front? or soak up hits?  I haven't stumbled on just the right rule yet. 

Rather than hide yet another quick reference sheet here, I have added a page containing the short version of the rules and will correct it and slowly bulk it up as I go from here, including tips for playing it on a grid.



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shuffling and sorting

Reorganization and basing of opposing 40mm armies continues in anticipation of hosting a google hangout game with Rob ere long.

There are enough Elastolin and Merten figures with a handful of compatible odds and sods  to fill out the Midlish army and it is starting to take on its own character which is not quite the English Bills and Bows I planned. Instead, the rather larger Meisterzinn sized English will form the core of the Imperial army along with some colourful mercenary pike and shot.  I'll have a closer look at the knights, pikes and bows of the Midlish later.


Midlish City Militia Pikes, Elastolins with some minor conversions.

The opposition for the next game will be the mixed army of Vikings, Picts, and weird things which I was originally going to ally with the Huns to represent the Northern Confederation but had decided to switch to the West folk since that is where the bear was from. However, the deeper I get, the less they look like the West folk and the less Prince Michael and his Valdurians seem like barbarian Northerners. So I have reverted to the original plan and put the Valdurians back in the northwest whence they came 40 years ago.


Midlish swordsmen tackle Crabhen from the Northern mountains. Elastolin and a Perry Reiver vs some 28mm Footsore Miniatures Corvii.

More to come!

Crabhen scouts spy on a portion of the Midlish host as it gets its bases painted.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Earl of Belmont goes Waltzing With a Bear

I was thinking of writing a proper battle report on Saturday's game but to my dismay I seem to have only taken 2 sets of photos and having had a busy weekend of gaming, rules tinkering and video watching, the details are a bit vague.
A reprise from the previous post.
The scenario is #4 from CS Grant's Programmed Scenarios. I decided to run the Northmen as a programmed enemy. Their mission was to delay the enemy without taking heavy losses. A die roll decided that they could lose at most 3 units. I played the Midlanders myself with the mission of breaking through as quickly as possibly with victory to be decided by post game consensus rather than any nice clearcut predetermined conditions. (hate it when he does that!)

After rolling for deployment options for the Northmen I selected all the light and missile troops for the left flank backed by a few bands of infantry.  (gotta get casting armored vikings and saxons!)

A closer look at the hill just before the Lancers charge.
The first few turns saw some cautious manouvring and the occasional exchange of arrows. I wasn't keen to throw away my advance guards just yet and Helgin had rolled a passive defence. At last the main body arrived and I sent the lads in. 

Fortune was not favouring archery today and time being short, I sent in the lancers. To my chagrin my men rolled high when hitting and low on armour saves so that the centaurs and archers that I expected to slaughter, despite the hill, were hurt but lived to retreat while I lost 1 stand and most of the second. As heavier troops moved up, the enemy fell back all along the line which was fine by me. 

The bickering amongst the light troops continued as the Earl pressed forward and eventually the enemy was down 2 stands. Behind the line the Lady Vivian tended to the wounded by staring seductively into their eyes and muttering phrases in a strange tongue while they continued to die in droves. 

Eventually the knights caught up with the Northmen hearthguard and crashed into them, on the first round their armour helped but the infantry survived to fallback into the stream. The knights followed up wiping out 1 band and nearly taking the 2nd but the number of hits received in return was shocking. Perhaps it was the muddy streambank but the 3+ armour save was not enough to save the Earl's Pensioners, they were wiped out!  Helgin had also lost a stand though and would lose the game if he lost another.  The Earl joined the remaing lancers and  pressed forward into the stream.

That's when it appeared, the Great Bear! Rumbling forward he crashed into the lancers midstream. 4 dice, 4 hits, 4 armour saves for 4,5,6 and not a single save! Now it was the Earl's turn to roll for the 2 excess hits but his armour was strong. He was left alone with an enemy unit however (the Bear being a unit rather than a character) so had to dice to avoid capture. I'm not sure yet if the bear is a trained beast with a handler, enchanted, or an intelligent ally but I'm pretty sure you don't want to be captured by it!

The moment of drama as Mahan Mohr slays the Earl's horse with one swipe of his great paw, trapping the Earl underneath.
It seemed almost inevitable. Now what to do with the army commander captured? I rechecked the rules and remembered that I had included one of the example house rules from Morschauser. If the General is lost, roll for each unit with equal chances to fight on, fallback, or flee the field. Apparently the Earl's men loved him but not enough to die trying to rescue him. They fled the field in droves. Delay? Hell! Helgin held the pass!

What can I say? Fast, furious, some tricky tactical challenges to think about, some "shouldn't have done that" moments and never as predictable as one would expect. Now I need a big stack of 60mm squares of 1/4" mdf.

(Edited to correct Westfolk to Northmen)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Helgin Holds the Hills

Or tries to.

Sneak Preview


Scenario 4 from Programmed Scenarios.


NORTH FOLK
UnitHits MoveMeleeFlankRangeSaveSpecial
Earl Helgin 2343-5General
Angus Mohr2352-4
UNITS
Mathan Mor4452-5Not slowed by woods
Centaurs444226
Sea Folk4342-5
Farm Folk4333-6Hedgehog: spears count as cover in melee
Woodsmen4431-6
Archers442166

THE KING's ARMY
UnitHits MoveMeleeFlankRangeSaveSpecial
Earl of Belmont1553-3General
Vivian142265Heal, Obscure,Confound,Stealth,Guile
UNITS
Knights4553-3
Lancers4553-4
Huns464226
Swordsmen4343-5
City Bands4333-6Hedgehog: Pikes count as cover in melee
Archers442166
______________________________

Friday, June 19, 2015

Implementation progressing, Planning to Follow

Did I mention the "Irregular B" aspect of my nature? (For those not up on the old 3rd ed WRG Ancients they are the impetuous barbarian noble types, Frankish knights and so on, liable to charge without orders.) Well exploration of the feasibility of  moving Prince Michael and my Rough Wooing forces to my fantasy setting is proceeding but not quite as expected. I have figured out how to place and explain the transition without disowning the 25mm games or disallowing them to continue and without disrupting the Adventures of Prince Michael, I have rediscovered the size/style issue that has left so many unpainted Elastolin, Merten and Perry figures in the cupboard and I've discovered that there were a couple more unpainted figures than I remembered, about 100 or so more.

Fresh off the painting table.
A Midlish Knight and archers of the 3rd Age.
Elastolin Gensdarme, Merten Archers
The last issue is the easiest. If I assign almost all the existing big clunky figures to the Empire that will give them some 60 stands of troops, somewhat more than the standard 35 but then the Empire rarely fights and the figures are the travelling portion of my Rough Wooing armies so its really just a place holder for them in case I want to use a few while the other armies are building over the next few years.

I hadn't completely forgotten the size/style issue but had suppressed it and forgotten why I hadn't finished so many of the smaller figures. The Meisterzinn figures aren't all big and tall, the semiflat ones are nicely sized and proportioned but some are big and many of the full round ones have HUGE heads. The 2 handed swordsman is probably the tallest of the lot, I chose one of them to make a Galloglach from 15 years ago. There are a few Elastolins and Perries etc mixed in with the bigger figures in my Rough Wooing armies and in a crowd they don't stand out but when there are whole armies of different sizes in a Fantasy setting or when disproportionate individuals meet in a duel well...... 

Prince Michael takes on Angus Mor, a Hill Giant from the West.
Elastolin vs a Meisterzinn conversion

There are enough unpainted Elastolin vikings left along with the Prince August Vikings to let me build the men of the west from Dearg Mor's "Picts" and "Helgin's "Saxons" (aka Elastolin vikings) and Prince August Vikings backed up by Great Beasts, witches, flying things and a few Giants and the like. The schiltrons have apparently disappeared under the increasing influence of the Men of the Sea.

The Midlands will get all the late Medieval types including Swiss pikemen to replace the Scots spearmen. Fashions change but it will be the same balanced mix of heavy cavalry backed by a few lights, infantry and archers.

To the East the Sultan who has replaced the Great King of Kings may encourage some of his wilder subjects to raid over the border, a few lizard men and the like, perhaps accompanied by some of the wilder brigands but it will be a while yet before his Spahis, Jannisaries, great cannon and masses of volunteers are ready to march.

That leaves the north. According to the Adventures of Prince Michael in the Days of King Arthur, the Prince hails from Valdur in the North. I have been portraying it as being in northern Britain (southern Scotland), from just beyond the wall but the name Valdur is the name of my old fantasy Kingdom. So be it. The wall was built in the Northwest then, to hold back the Picts or Westmen and the sea raiders and King Arthur obviously sits on the throne of the Midlands making the North and the Midlands as some sort of semi-allies at the moment. I had been planning the 25mm Northern armies as horsemen, including horse archers (Garrison Hyrkanians) and armoured lancers (Minfig and Heritage Rohirrim)  backed by peasant infantry (Garrison Fyrd and Prince August). I was about to reassign the Elastolin  Huns to the East but in his adventures, Prince Michael often fights beside Preisages the Sarmatian  so it looks like the Huns and remaining Elastolin Roman and early medieval troops will all be part of the Northern Confederation giving them their 35 stands once the cavalry kits and a few more infantry are finished.  

I have yet to write the details of the history anywhere but shortly after the last Ambush game and the return home of the Master of Secrets (released from captivity by the Witch Queen of the West), the King of the Midlands suddenly fell ill and while he did not die for another 20 years, the Kingdom fell into civil war after civil war. Twenty years after his death the Falcon of Light appeared with a young boy whom he proclaimed to be the son of the late King, conceived just before his death and raised in secrecy .....(OK not original but it just happens to fit the established story line). 

Our story now resumes 20 years after that or roughly 60 years later and 15mm taller than the last game.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Warriors and Witches

Gathering of Hosts might be a massed combat or Battle game but what tale of legendary battles is complete without heroes, leaders, mages and various specialist characters? 
On Sunday Rob hosted a game to test out his proposed character rules. Essentially each character is given 1 or more special rules which can be used boost a unit he/she is with, or a list of spells where appropriate which may each be used once. This worked fairly well but I would like to incorporate some of the sort of combat effects I am used to for commanders. So here are some proposed character rules.
Still on the outside of the Tiger. 

Proposed Character Rules for Gathering of Hosts.

  1. Characters may be of 2 types: integral or independent. An integral character is based with  a unit, may not leave it and may not influence other units.If the unit is destroyed, he is destroyed as well. Independent characters may move from unit to unit or act on their own and may use their influence on any unit they have joined or at such distance as is specified for their ability.

    (Note: although this is a battle game there is no fixed scale, units might be a score of men or 100 or 500. In a big battle an independent character might represent a main character with sidekicks, hearthguard, acolytes etc or just be a really BIG DAMNED HERO! )
  2.  Stats. Each character must have a set of stats defined at the start of a game. These may be recorded on a card for each character or be collected on a reference sheet. They will each have the same stats as a unit: movement, armour etc but will also have a list of special abilities. If these abilities are not standard ones from the rules then they need to be explained. Each character normally has 1 strength point but exceptional characters may have 2.
  3. Characters and Units. If a character is an integral  part of a unit he may not leave it otherwise they are treated as any other character. A character may pass through freindly units and vice versa but if they end the move touching then the character has joined the unit. A character may not join more than 1 unit per turn.  A character who is joined to a unit may move away during normal movement or may move with the unit. When joined to a unit a character may use their special abilities and must fight in melee. If a character is joined to a unit which is destroyed by enemy shooting or in melee, any excess hits will go against the character (and may be saved). If after all melee is resolved a character is still alive and is in contact with an enemy then each side rolls a die. If the enemy roll is higher the character is overwhelmed and captured otherwise it may immediately move away.
  4. Magic: Magicians (witches etc etc) are given a list of spells that they are capable of performing. Powerful spells should be limited to 1 use each but a magician may have more than 1 copy of the spell. Lesser spells may be used as often as desired but only once per turn.  A magician may not move and cast a spell and may not cast a spell if in melee. Spells have the same range as bows. Here are some sample spells, other spells may be added by a GM or by agreement before a game and these may be changed or ommitted: 
    1. Restore. (single use) The magician selects a unit and throws 4 dice. For each 5,6 1 lost strength point is recovered. 
    2. Ward: (single use) The magician rolls 1 d6/2 The result is how long the spell lasts. While in effect the unit adds 1 to their saving throw.
    3. Hurry. (single use) The magician rolls 1 d6/2 The result is how long the spell lasts. While the spell is in effect the unit moves double. 
    4. Frenzy. (single use) The magician rolls 1d6/2. The result is how long the spell lasts. While the spell is in effect the unit receives a +1 to its Melee Power but this may never be more than 5.
    5. Summon. (single use) The magician rolls 1d6. On a score of 4,5,6 a monster is called into play (must be pre arranged).   
    6. Heal: (multiple use) The magician rolls 1 die per strength point and for each 5,6 rolled 1 lost strength point is recovered.
    7. Obscure (multiple use) The magician rolls 1 die per strength point. On a roll of 5,6 the target unit is enveloped in mist and counts as in cover to enemy shooting and melee (note note cumulative with actual cover)
    8. Hasten. (multiple use) The magician rolls 1 die per strength point and for each 5,6 rolled the unit may add 1 extra movement increment. 
    9. Rage (multiple use) The magician rolls 1 die per strength point and for each 5,6 rolled the unit rolls 1 extra die in combat.
    10. Confound (multiple use)The magician rolls 1 die per strength point and if any 5 or 6 is rolled the target unit loses 1 increment of movement on its next turn and will fight and shoot with 1 die less than normal on this turn and on its turn.
  5. Special abilities. Characters may have special abilities which may be applied to a unit that the character has joined only while he is joined. Others only apply to the character. Here are some examples, others may be added by a GM or by agreement before a game and these need not be used: 
    1. Inspire. The unit gains 1 increment of movement.
    2. Cunning. The unit adds 1 to its Melee Power but this may never exceed 5.
    3. Prepared. The unit adds 1 to its armour save.
    4. Stealth. The character may pass through any enemy unit and may force an opposing character to accept a challenge.
    5. Guile. The character may wear a disguise and join an enemy unit. Each side rolls a die. If the unit rolls higher than the ruse fails and the character must resolve melee with the unit and if he lives must roll for capture as usual otherwise the ruse works and the character may then move the unit. He may not attack with the unit but may retreat and will prevent it from shooting or attacking. If the character stays with the unit then the roll off must be repeated each turn.  
    6. Strategem. The melee power of any enemy attacking the unit in melee is reduced by 1 but never to less than 1.
  6. Challenges. If  characters are joined to units which are opposing each other in melee then on his turn a character can challenge an opponent to single combat. The 2 characters then fight one round of melee against each other before the unit's fight. If they survive they may fight again as normal with their unit. If a character declines combat then he may not fight in melee or use any special abilities. If the unit is destroyed the character may be killed or captured as normal.
  7. Army Morale. Characters do not count when establishing army Morale but when they are lost they count against it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tested at the Pass

After Sunday's game I was all hepped up and excited and ready to write a narrative with some background on characters and situation but duties called then yesterday was a game day in town and an absorbing WWII game and... well the moment has passed so here is a shorter more direct report on the game.

My goal, beyond having fun,  was twofold: test some new rules and test the rules in a smaller, scenario driven, game.  Spoiler alert: Full marks on both points.

The convoy escort has beaten off the first attacks and advanced but a new assault is gathering.

The scenario was a mix of the general idea of an old teaser ambush with some terrain  laid down as much according to instinct and the pieces on hand as to any vague plan of a narrow valley between hills and river. I then chose 12 units per side plus a victory objective from which arose a back story.

In the Midlands, rumours of dark dealings and a new threat from the West are circulating. The King has "requested", Sir Daniel, Purveyor of Truths to leave his lair and venture forth in person to get to the bottom of things and return with proof. After adventures not recorded he and a force are returning with a captured Lion Priestess in hand. They have only to pass through the Shadow Vale and across the Stone Bridge to reach the safety of the Midlands.

The rearguard cavalry is moving up to counter attack.Casualty figures and looters mark lost units.
MIDLISH FORCES
The convoy enters the table as follows:
Scouts: 1 x light armoured cavalry crossbows
Main Body:
Tunstall Lancers 1 x Armoured shock cavalry
Tunstall Archers: 1 x Light armoured. archers
Pikes: 2 x armoured pikemen.
Guardians of Truth: 1 x Heavily Armoured Shock Infantry
Sir Daniel and escort: Character General
Captive in cart with light armoured escort.
 Wagon
Border Archers: 1 x Light Armoured Archers
Pikes: 2 x armoured pikemen.
Longbottom Lancers:  1 x armoured shock cavalry

Rearguard: Border Horse 1x light armoured shock cavalry

WESTFOLK
The Westfolk forces are all hidden in ambush. Rather than use my usual cards and blinds option or the hidden map deployment I would use in a 2 player game, I tried something new. Each turn I rolled 2 dice. A 6 meant a cavalry unit, 4,or 5 an infantry unit. These are drawn from a list of available units, if none of the appropriate type are available none appear. For each unit I rolled 2 dice. If Red was higher the Lion Queen could place the unit anywhere on table not visible to the enemy and not yet searched by them. If Blue was higher the unit had to be placed in one of the not yet cleared ambush locations closest to the enemy and must shoot or attack if possible or advance full speed on the turn of placement if not. The system worked well to provide a reasonable ambush that was a surprise to both sides but especially to the ambushed as there was no eyeing of cards as possible danger spots, every hill and wood was a danger.  

The list was:
Lion Queen. Character and General with Special unit. Attributes not defined yet so treated as shock cavalry able to move through woods with magical protection equal to armour.
The Assasasin. character not yet defined so treated as light infantry but with attack of 5 and magical protection equal to armour. (didn't get into action)
3 x Light Cavalry, lightly armoured (shield)
3 x light infantry archers, unarmoured but counting as light due to camoflage
4 x light infantry, lightly armoured.

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The scene from a different angle.
(oops I thought this was a later picture but its here now)

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Early on a series of impetuous ambushes by archers and light cavalry inflicted some heavy damage by shooting and by flanking attacks on isolated units. Only 1 unit was destroyed early on but shielding the ones with 1 hit left while trying to cover the convoy became a real headache for Sir Daniel. As more light infantry appeared and the attackers got anxious to score kills or grab the hostage before the rest of the heavy troops could come up led to some possibly rash atacks not backed up by luck. Soon casualties were even and the ambushers were using their speed to retreat to safe havens from which to watch for an opening while keeping up a thin shower of arrows. The convoy plodded forward in all round defence minus 1/2 the cavalry which had chased after some light infantry, been ambushed, rescued by more cavalry, and then caught the retreating enemy just short of cover and rode them down. At this point, both sides were down a couple of units but Sir Daniel had either to push forward or else retreat quickly hoping for a draw. A die roll chose the aggresive go for a win. With battered and lost units on both sides it hung in the balance, if the flanking cavalry could come up behind the ambusher's cavalry in the open, like a hammer against the anvil of the convoy, all would be good. Instead the third archer finally appeared and shot down the last Tunstall lancer, who failed his armour save, and the Midlish force went under strength and was no longer allowed to attack or shoot (not that there were any archers left).  They tried to retreat but the swift moving light infantry soon surrounded them. There was no hope but to negotiate, hand over the priestess alive in exchange for free passage. I gave Sir Daniel a chance to use the persuasion of his secret knowledge on the Lion Queen (opposed die roll) and it worked. He handed her over and was allowed to depart. A Westfolk victory in their eyes if some what diminished by the sight of their enemy retreating unmolested but a continuing story for Sir Daniel.

The game hangs in the balance. Both armies are only a few units away from losing morale and have multiple wounded units.

______________________________________________________________________________

As mentioned above I was very pleased with how the rules worked with the armour save. With as few as 12 units per side, and a scenario, an engaging battle was fought lasting longer than the earlier, larger, straight encounters, possibly 2 hours and somewhere between 20 and 30 turns. A large battle should still go fast but with a bit more depth than before.

I hadn't been happy with my trial horse archer rule or the shoot only before move and lack of difference in archers types so I tried introducing light and massed archers on horse and foot and let light ones move and shoot but with 2 dice while the massed one could do either. The move and shoot with 1/2 dice worked fine, the other not so much and anyway, looking at the figures I realized that unless my old Minifig Picts were some sort of stealth snipers, they were really just an unarmoured version of the lightly armoured English archer figures they were fighting. For massed archers I had really been thinking Persian Sparabara and the like. In the end I decided to just let any archer move and shoot with 1/2 dice and I'll worry about special units later. One I'm puzzling over is my 2 stands of "lances" which contain a mix of lancers and mounted crossbowmen. Possibly a special unit stat with 2 dice of shock and 2 of archers. But that's a question for later.

In case anyone is wondering about the increased flank value instead of a hedgehog, the pikes are more like Swiss with a mix of pikes and halberds and ready to form square at the drop of a hat without orders from above.
The bridge is in sight. The rearguard cavalry is swiftly advancing on the rear of the enemy cavalry but then archers pop up in the scrub along the river and the Tunstall Lances go down and with them the army's morale.  

More work on characters and magic is next I think. Not to mention more rebasing, painting and playing.

The deal is struck. Safe release of the prisoner for freedom to go.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ambush Teaser

Knew it was too quiet in the hills to be true.




Saturday, May 30, 2015

Save me!

I now have 18 Midlish and 25 Western units (60mm bases) ready to play. Some of the bases lack texture but at least they are all table green.

Some changes have been made since the last test the most important being:

1. Armour saves have been introduced to replace the -1 vs heavies modifier.
2. Additional troop types have been added and changes made to some specisl unit rules.
3. The restrictions on shooting and moving have changed. Light units may now move and shoot as per original game but only roll 1/2 dice. Medium bow units may only move or shoot but roll 1 die per strength point.

if all goes well the armies will march on Sunday.

The Western Woodland Horde.


Mostly Morchauser Shock Rules Test 6 Quick Reference 
(Note clean up done to troop names Sun am and to make armour saves match troop types pm)




  • Play Sequence. Alternate turns.
  • Active player moves and shoots units in any order
  • Resolve all melees
  • Movement.
    Infantry 6", Light Infantry 8", Cavalry 10", Light Cavalry 12", Artillery 4", flying creatures 12" May pass over units of either side. Great Beasts 10"
    Stop when entering a ford.
    Units may turn or move sideways as desired unless engaged or attacking but no part of stand may move more than move allowance.
  • Engagement Range. If a unit is within 2" of the enemy it is engaged. Moving to engagement range is an attack. When moving within 2" of enemy a unit must halt or move to contact an enemy. If starting within 2" of enemy front a unit must halt, move to contact or retreat.
  • Shooting. (Updated post test game) Light Infantry and Light Cavalry Archers may shoot then move or move then shoot but only roll 1 die per 2 strength points rounding up (if they move). They may not shoot and attack.  Infantry and Cavalry Archers and Artillery may either move or shoot but roll 1 die per remaining strength point. 

    1. Range: Foot Archers 12", Horse Archers 6" 
    2. Effect: Each 6 hits target in cover,  5,6 hits target in open. 
    3. Artillery: Range 18 hit on 2,4,6
    4. Limits. Must have line of sight. May not shoot if fording. May not shoot if self or target is engaged. LOS in woods 2"


  • Melee. If in contact both sides roll during the melee phase. Roll 1 die per remaining strength point Roll Melee Power or less to hit. Front/flank values. 

    1. Shock Cavalry 5/3, Cavalry Archers 4/2, Light Cav 4/2, Light Horse Archers, flyers 3/2 GB 5/3
    2. Shock Infantry 4/2, infantry archers 3/2, Pikemen 3/3,  Light Infantry 3/1, Light Spearmen 2/2, Light Archers 2/1 
    3. Modifiers: to power but never less than 1 after modifiers
      1. -1 to power if attacking uphill or out of stream or if any but Light Infantry or light archers in woods
      2. -1 to power  if enemy is behind hard cover or is pikes or spears in the open.


  • Armour Saves. When a unit takes a hit from shooting or in melee it may roll 1 die per hit to reflect the defensive benefit of any shields, helmets, armour, thick skins or ability to dodge. Troops with light armour or just a shield save on a 6. Troops with 1/2 armour and shield save on a 5,6, infantry in full armour and armoured cavalry on barded horses save on a 4,5,6.
  • Strength Points. All units start with 4 strength points except artillery which have only 2, and some exceptionally big and strong monsters. When all strength points are gone the stand is removed.
  • Commanders. Form part of unit or may be a single figure which may attach to any unit. Commander rolls extra die in melee. Commander will be last man killed on stand. If commander killed all units roll 1 die. 5,6 carry on, 3,4 retreat a full move, 1,2 Rout.
  • Army Morale. When an army has lost 1/2 of its units it may no longer shoot or attack or move into contact.
  • Friday, May 29, 2015

    The Black Company Leads The Way

    Rebasing is proceeding swiftly during very short spurts which are too few. Some thought is being given to trying armour saves again now that melees are only 1 round per player turn.

    Meanwhile, here is the reformed Black Company. The knights are down to 3 but the bigger base has allowed the crossbowmen to deploy their pavises, 1 per 2 men.

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    Tweaked

    Its been 5 years since I decided to develop a fast and easy set of homegrown rules for my ancient/medieval games rather than trying to keep up with the latest commercial fad. This current exploration of a Morschauser based set is nothing like what I had in mind back then. This has led me to question whether or not I should keep the Gathering of Hosts name so I decided to go back and check the rules against the original criteria. (See camel meets straw post)

    So far the new rules clearly meet 4 of the criteria. They are simple and intuitive enough to be played without a QRS and to be easily learned, focused on major troop types rather than details and the 6 cm bases are compatible with more than one set of commercial rules, esp since I will end up with many pairs of stands. The original list calls for single figures but allowing for elements and tracking hits which is how the new rules work.  The intention is to develop some sort of command control for commanders so that remains a maybe. Lastly while large battles work I have not yet tried a small game so that is also an open question. With somewhere between 5 and 7 of the 7 criteria met, I am satisfied that I am justified in continuing to use the name.

    That settled, here is a summary of the rules as played by Rob, Norman and myself last Friday.

    Morchauser Shock Rules Test 5 Quick Reference 



  • Play Sequence. Alternate turns.
  • Active player shoots with archers and artillery. Horse archers may move upto 1/2 then shoot then finish move.
  • Active player moves units in any order
  • Resolve all melees
  • Movement.
    Hvy Inf, Med Inf  6", Lt Infantry 8", Archers 8", Heavy & Medium Cavalry 10", Light Cavalry and Horse Archers 12", Artillery 4", flying creatures 12" May pass over units of either side.
    Stop when entering a ford.
    Units may turn or move sideways as desired unless engaged or attacking but no part of stand may move more than move allowance.
    If 2+ Pike units turn back to back they form square instead of moving. Then then have no flank but may not move. 
  • Engagement Range. If a unit is within 2" of the enemy it is engaged. Moving to engagement range is an attack. When moving within 2" of enemy a unit must halt or move to contact an enemy. If starting within 2" of enemy front a unit must halt, move to contact or retreat.
  • Shooting. Archers that shot may still move but may not attack. Artillery which shot may not move.  Roll 1 die per remaining strength point.

    1. Range: Archers 12", Mtd Archers 4" 
    2. Effect: Each 6 hits Heavy or in cover,  5,6 hits all others. 
    3. Artillery: Range 12 hit on 2,4,6, range 6 hit on any but 6.
    4. Limits. Must have line of sight. May not shoot if fording. May not shoot if self or target is engaged. LOS in woods 2"




  • Melee. If in contact both sides roll during the melee phase. Roll 1 die per remaining strength point Roll Melee Power or less to hit. Front/flank values. 

    1. HC & MC 5/3, Lt Cav 4/2, Horse Archers, flyers 3/2 
    2. HI 4/2, MI 4/2, Pikemen 4/1,  LI 3/1, Archers 2/1 
    3. Modifiers: to power but never less than 1 after modifiers
      1. -1 to power if attacking uphill or out of stream or any but Lt Inf & archers in woods
      2. -1 to power  if enemy is heavy or is behind hard cover or if cavalry fighting pikes frontally.




  • Strength Points. All units start with 4 strength points except artillery which have only 2. When all are gone the stand is removed.
  • Commanders. Form part of unit. Commander rolls extra die in melee. Commander will be last man killed on stand. If commander killed all units roll 1 die. 5,6 carry on, 3,4 retreat a full move, 1,2 Rout.
  • Army Morale. When an army has lost 1/2 of its units it may no longer shoot or attack or move into contact.


  • ........................................................................................
    These are the rules that we used for the playtest, it was just a matter of figuring how to catagorize each stand of orcs, elves, wolves, men etc . The dragon was a bit of a puzzle but we finally decided to count as flying heavy cavalry  with 6 hits.

    After a brief discussion on magic we decided to defer and just made the scenario be about disrupting a wizard who was casting a complex spell to demolish the Elven castle. (he can be seen atop a small green knoll in the nearest corner of the table in the picture.

    I spared a few troops to delay the enemy's approach on the wood and deployed the rest in 2 lines between wood and table edge with a reserve of warg riders and flyers including the mighty if somewhat cartoonish dragon. The enemy massed cavalry and spearmen against the gap with a host of elves going through the wood. The attackers had 37 stands and the defender 35 iir.

    I took an early lead as my archers shot well at the attackers. Since Rob's cavalry started opposite my main line while Norman's infantry had to slog through the woods and over the river in a giant wheel, his cavalry struck first and, after a fierce fight, were pretty much wiped out before his infantry could close in support. I did a sort of Roman line relief and battled with his heavy infantry, getting the worst of it before my reserve attacked his flanks and rear (I like flyers!).

    My horse archers sat and watched Norman's advance for a while but finally took off for a ride around the enemy, hoping to hit Rob's heavies in the rear. Norman's archers did some nimble blocking and though I got around them it took too long so I turned on them. It took about 4 turns but eventually I wiped him out at a cost of over 1/2 my force.

    Back in the woods Norman's eleves finally threw the few remaining remnants of my flank guard out of the wood. They were just in time to see the sort of damage a playful dragon can do. During my melee phase the enemy lost their 19th unit and were no longer able to shoot or attack. My forces had lost only 15 units so the wizard was still mumbling and waving. The castle soon exploded in  colourful clouds of blue and green and there were loud cries of delight and chortling, barking and fighting from the chaotic crowd in front of the castle.

    ----------------------------------

    On the whole the rules worked well though we needed better names for unit types as well as some magic and monsters. Tge question of characters and command control are still up in the air. The command and control is especially problematic since the game ran well without any including the occasional blunder, units not moving, or the wrong ones,  open flanks etc. With 3 players and roughly 3 dozen units aside, the game ran about 2 hours. Clearly room for more rules & complications or more figures though a more complex scenario might help. A three hour game would be fine.

    My next step will be to move more figures to 60cm square bases and play a small skirmish.

    Sunday, May 10, 2015

    On the Border

    A person might ask why I need to refurbish old 25mm armies for Fantasy/Shock games if I have 40mm armies that would serve if I just added a few monsters and magicians, and it would be a good question.

    For those who missed it, the armies are enumerated in the captions of the last post. The basic progress of the battle can be followed in the following pictures and their captions.
    The opposing missile troops meet as the English advance. Losses are heavy on both sides but the Franco-Scots army gets the worst of it in the centre and near the western flank, largely because the attackers got first shot and rolled high.
    Once again, on the whole this was a fast paced, exciting game with a few twists of fortune and some lessons in game tactics. The dice made a difference here and there but command decisions usually trumped them, in part because there were so many die rolls that they almost couldn't help levelling out.  On the 3rd to last turn the Scots looked to be down and out but by the end of the following turn they rocked the English back, taking the advantage with a rash but necessary counter attack. Indeed the Scots almost won it on their half of the last turn but the dice weren't there to back up their gamble and the English came back both strong and lucky for a decisive, come back, win.

    The first moral was that Morschauser was right to warn that upping the percentage of missile troops would upset the balance of the game. They are deadly especially since the attacker can almost always get the first shot and with a move of 4 and range of 6 they can appear out of nowhere and concentrate fire in incredible fashion. This will be a problem if wanting to show the characteristics of different races and nations including those who rely on archers. 

    The second was that I forgot about my proposed pushback rule until the last turn but didn't miss it. Might have made the fighting a little less quick and deadly though. I'm undecided about the 2 melee turns, it reduced some of the advantage to not having all melees go to the death as few stands survived 2 rounds of melee. In short melee between heavy and medium troops is DEADLY. Stands die like flies. Good for a quick game but with full sized armies making my table crowded he game still lasted only about 90 minutes. I could have dragged that out a bit by being a little more cautious but not by much.

    The English have just enough missile power left to force the French Landsknechts to attack. East of the river, the Highlanders and Border Horse are driving off the opposition while the Highland archers slowly win their long distance fight with the longbowmen.  
    So why was it fun and engaging? I'm not sure. One thing might be that while results against individual stands were quick, Groups of stands took longer to deal with and since movement is fast, it was often possible to pull back or bring up reserves to change the situation giving scope for generalship on a higher level than worrying about alignment and arranging factors and modifiers.  The unpredictability of individual die rolls may also play a role. 

    The English have been driven off from across the river but they fought stubbornly and there is not enough Scots cavalry to force the river in the teeth of reinforcements. The Highlanders start fording. In the middle the English lancers have ridden over the Halbardiers but the pikes are holding their own. 
    At this point the only thing I would want to fiddle with is the missile power. If the range is reduced it will make the archers too vulnerable to cavalry charges and I don't want to start fiddling with things like 1 die for 2 figures if shooting. Instead, I think merely removing the ability of foot archers to move AND shoot will suffice. Then a defending line of archers would get first shot as the enemy approached and it would be much harder to suddenly amass a deadly barrage focussed on 1 stand by bringing up 1 stand at a time and shooting until that target is dealt with and then focussing on another.

    As the Highlanders engage piecemeal, the Franco-Scots left collapses.With the English, still 20 strong and  able to occupy part of the ridge without contest, the Franco-Scots have now lost 20 out of the original 35 and their morale is broken.
    I'm looking forward to getting together with Rob at Hiuzzah next weekend to talk this over in addition to other things. We have only touched so far on magic and monsters. Look for more refurbished 25mm games before long.