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.