Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Raid! Again! (Song of Arthur)

Oh hey! Back to an old favorite - Song of Arthur & Merlin 'true skirmish' rules (by which I mean one mini = one man = one unit)! Set up the 'Raid' scenario (grab herds of sheep and escape off table!) using 5th century historical forces - terrain options a bit better than years past and I think a crowded board is more in flavor of the Song rule sets than open fields.

Just shy 300 points each side of Romano-British vs. Saxons.  The Romano-British are closer to the camera. You might notice there are more of them but that's because they are whispy city dwellers rather than husky Jutes and Angles and Saxons!

DID YOU KNOW? In addition to being strapping bucks handy with sword or shield, Saxons were also skilled sheep whisperers? Because they were! They corralled three herds of sheep and just ran those doggies to the nearest table edge like it weren't no thing at all!

These British dwellers in old Roman towns? You don't herd sheep a lot on geometric street patterns now do you? Lots of sheep following these weekend warriors for a turn, then wandering back off in the opposite direction to chomp some wildflowers. What's a Romano-British nobleman to do???

Concede while things the goings good and let those Jutes take those sheep for now, that's what!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Skirmish Saturday

We met up at Guardian Games on Saturday to play some pick-up games of SAGA and to try out Pikeman's Lament.  First up was a SAGA game of Danes vs. Crusaders. I was trying to run Harold Godwinson with my Danes and was experimenting with a strategy of using him as a strong point in a larger line, with 12 warriors and 12 levy on each flank of him and his brothers (which are treated as a hearthguard unit). The idea is to basically stand still and load up defensive abilities, and use the levy archers to shoot at the enemy until they feel compelled to attack.

Of course the scenario card we drew was for the defender (me) to deploy in the middle and be attacked on all sides until I was killed to the man!  I deployed in a rectangle shape since I had no idea from which side the Crusaders were coming, so my defensive line strategy was out the window.

What then followed was some of the laughably worst dice rolling by me ever. My Danes made a point to miss as many hits and saves as possible and models were removed in droves. In the first assault I lost uphands at least 20 figures. SAGA dice were similarly unfriendly (one rare the whole game!) so I was playing with partial to no board support.  Still, I was able to push the game to the fifth turn which was how many turns the Crusaders had to wipe the Danes out.

Up next was a trial run of Pikeman's Lament. Time was running late, so we just ran the generic "Ga Pa" straightforward fight scenario. Right off the bat, I noticed that, with the exception of the lone regimental gun, every unit enjoyed a 5+ (on a 2d6) roll to activate to move, but that the roll to shoot, even for generic musketeers, was 7+. I noticed this before but did not realize how it would affect game play. This really gave the game this curious frenetic energy where units can move very aggressively but will then completely stall out and not open fire at each other.

In this game the poor dice rolling epidemic continued. I have rarely been bitten by this bug, so I figured it was time to pay up for all the friendly results the dice have granted me so far.  Jokes about me needing to find a game where you need to roll a lot of 1s and 2s followed.

In the end I was left with a single musketeer unit, all his friends having fled the field. I caused one single opposing unit to break, and another fled on account of a bungled command roll, Woof!

Monday, April 10, 2017

US Colored Troops 1863

Took two days to paint up this unit of Union infantry (just block painted in above photo).  These are Armies in Plastic Iron Brigade figures with the heads exacto-knifed off and replaced with metal heads from All the Kings Men.  I'll admit that before they're painted, the juxtaposition of the silvery lead head on the bright blue plastic body makes you think "uh oh what I have I done, this is not going to look good..."  But once you've applied your primer of choice, it's difficult to tell you've made any change at all.  Generally, AKTM heads seem to be a good fit (the best fit, possibly?) on AIP figures.

The Union Brigade set has a nice set of poses, with more "firing line" and "tenaciously advancing" poses and less "charging and close combat" poses than other sets. I've based them three-to-a-base (a 3" square of basswood) like I recently did with my entire colonial collection.

I could see myself painting up ACW armies for play with the AKTM rules, but I think I'd end up head swapping another 60-72 figures to do so for a Union army alone (and I have plenty of other things on the painting que), so for the time being these fellows will be shelf queens awaiting further additions...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Somewhere in Iberia (212 to 207 BC)

Hey, a Hail Caesar game!

Since this is a Carthage vs. Rome game, using armies in the style of the second Punic War, but not one of Hannibal's famous battles in Italy, it must therefore be one of the lesser known contests in Iberia (present day Spain) in the years 212 to 207 BC, right? Right!

This is a  four-player game with each player controlling two divisions (one infantry, the other cavalry or elephants and skirmishers).  Carthage and its allies/mercenaries had native Iberian medium infantry on its right with Celtic cavalry on its far right flank and elephants in the middle, Carthage's right was Libyan heavy infantry with Numidan light horse on far left flank.

The Romans were less varied (as they are) with infantry divisions in the middle and Roman or Italian cavalry out on the wings.

In a nutshell, the Carthage left and its opposing Roman right both failed to advance in a systematic way, while in the meantime the Iberians raced out in a head-long attack on the Roman left.
Given that the Iberians are medium infantry and the Romans are crack heavy infantry with boosted support values this should have been a rather futile assault.  But the Iberian dice were fortunate and the Roman dice not so much and the result was what ancient historians call "great slaughter."

"Great slaughter" and great many complicated rules situations with units ending up behind each other and flanking each other and just a big bad scrum and by the way just before the elephants finally got close enough to attack the entire Roman left broke and ran.

The aforementioned Carthage left and its opposing Roman right played out the string which saw the Roman cavalry collapse which triggered Roman army collapse.

But hey we didn't screw up any rules too bad although there had to be a lot of double checking.  These armies will be on a tabletop again soon!

Here are the army lists used if you care for such things... 


Libyan heavy infantry x2 @ 29pts each: 58pts
Allied medium infantry x1 @23pts: 23pts
Iberian medium infantry x2 @23pts each: 46pts
Allied light infantry w/ javelins x1 @20pts: 20pts
Baleric slinger skirmishers x2 @13 pts: 26pts
Numidian light cavalry x3 @19pts each: 57pts
Gallic medium cavalry x1 @ 28pts: 28pts
Elephants x3 @ 23pts:  69pts
TOTAL: 327 points


Hastati/Princepes heavy infantry x6 @ 23pts: 138pts
Triari heavy infantry x2 @ 28pts: 56pts
Skirmisher x2 @ 11pts each: 22pts
Roman medium cavalry x3 @ 19pts each: 57pts
Allied medium cavalry x2  @ 19pts each: 38pts
TOTAL: 311 points

Monday, March 6, 2017

Punic Wars 1/72s

Four years ago I built up and painted opposing Roman and Carthaginian Punic War armies in 20mm plastics (all by HAT Industrie).  However, I was subsequently plagued by indecision as to a ruleset and a basing system to use for them, so they mostly sat, fully painted, in boxes in the basement.  The initial idea was to use Warlord Games' Hail Caesar! rules, and I even acquired the book and the first volume of army lists for this purpose. Some version of DBA was also a candidate, and likewise I purchase the most recent version of those rules.  Subsequently having actually played DBA 3.0 a few times last year I can say I don't particularly care those rules.
More recently, an artists' supply store opened in walking distance of my house and aside from easy access to brushes and painting supplies they also carry brass rod (spears! pikes!) and basswood sheets in various widths, both very reasonably priced. Armed with my trusty razor saw, I can now base any army on 3mm wood bases very inexpensively.  Now both Roman and Carthaginian armies are fully based on 20mm wide bases (yeah the cavalry and elephants should be on slightly wider bases but whatever) and ready to rock!  Don't look too closely at them, because they are very much the product of my painting process from four years ago!
Coming to a tabletop soon!


Romans (Republic era).

Monday, February 27, 2017

Pikeman's Lament


I received my copy of Pikeman's Lament in the mail and looked it over. Of course, I had an eye towards how close 'Pikes Rampant!', my homebrewed variant of Lion Rampant, was to Pikeman's Lament.  The answer is... sorta?  Some quick impressions...

·         There is now a 1" zone of control with friendly units instead of 3" like in LR, although the 3"  is maintained for enemy units (this is what I 'house-ruled' in my Clontarf game just a few weeks ago!)

·        A unit receives a +1 to activation result if within 12" of commander. This is funny to me because since new LR players recall that its a +1 for morale checks if the commander within 12", and they always assume that it's a +1 for activations as well (and are then disappointed). Since people just intuitively believe that the rule must be +1 for morale and activations its nice that this set has added this in.

·        On top of that, pretty much all the move activation scores needed are 5+ (in LR a 6+ was more typical).  The percentage chance of rolling 5+ on 2d6 is 83%. If leader is within 12" that's a 4+ and odds go to 92%. So moving should now be statistically much easier.

·        The better move scores appear countered by more difficult attack or shooting activation scores needed. Lots of 6+ and even 7+ out there (72% and 58% respectively).

·        There's some fun new stuff where you role on a blunder table if you role double sixes on an activation and roll on a "something good happens" if you roll snake eyes.

·         My galloper/trotter 'Pikes Rampant' variant rules were not too far off from what they did.

·        Their pikemen rules make pikes more dynamic (they form 'close order' and their attack and defense 'to hit' #s increase by my 'Pikes Rampant' variant, which was really just a "moving shieldwall, butwith pikes".

·         My cannon rules were way overpowered. New rules are very sensible.  Shorter range and a lot of punch (hits on a 4+) but needs a 8+ to shoot! (42%)

·         Some of the scenarios look neat. I like the assault on an outer redoubt one a lot and will probably make some "earthworks" terrain pieces for that one!


[blurry pictures are from a 'Pikes Rampant' playtest in June of last year]

Monday, February 20, 2017

More Sudan 1898

Over the weekend I based my entire collection of Sudan 54s on 3"x3" basswood squares. I have not flocked them yet but I think they look much better ranked up and "the business" than before. Of course this led me to wanting to run them in a game again so dusted of the ol' All The King's Men rules (which are specifically for 54s, after all) and tinkered with the unit profiles a bit, so I guess this qualifies as a playtest.

Six Sudanese units consisting of 3 Beja tribesmen units (no ranged attack, moves 18", always roll 4+ when attacking in melee, gets +2 bonus dice in melee) and 3 Ansar units (18" ranged attack, 12" move, otherwise same as Beja).  Most of these stats were borrowed from the 'woodland Indians' rules from the AWI optional rules portion of the rulebook. Opposite are five British units consisting of 3 infantry and 2 guns. Infantry have 24" range and gain +2 bonus dice if not doing anything else other than firing with their activation. This is lifted from the ACW "repeater rifle" rule in the rulebook.

The arc of the game was basically the British right moved into the wadi pictured above.

Where from they chased off an Ansar unit with blistering rifle fire.

But were then charged by fierce and fleet-footed Beja...

...resulting in the shattering of both units.  The Sudanese then crept closer on the left and right, keeping out of the line of fire of the British guns.

At which point Turn 1 ended because we ran out of playing cards.  All markers were reset to green and the deck reshuffled. Below you can see the calm before Turn 2, both sides prepared for the final assaults.- first one to lose another unit loses the game. Two units of Beja tribesmen massed on the right and ready to charge!

In a nutshell, the Beja on the right completed the charge into the British left, which fell back but did not break, and then on the next activation the British gun enfiladed into the flank of the already melee-weakened Beja, shattering them and winning the game for the British side by a thread.

The number one adjustment I would make after this playtest is add more units, honestly. Playtime was barely an hour, simply because of lack of units, I think. Other than that, the breakpoints on the Sudanese units might be too low.