Monday, November 28, 2011

Saga - Sacred Ground

I watched Paul and Mark play out an encounter in the new Saga rules, prior to my getting a chance to play the rules myself.

The rules provide a variety of scenarios,and some of the most straightforward army lists ever for the four core factions.  Paul's Vikings comprised one unit of Levy, One of Hearthguard and two of Warriors; whilst Mark's exchanged one unit of warriors for a second unit of Hearthguard but was otherwise the same.

Rather it is the special abilities, as dictated by each factions control chart that distinguish the forces.  Thus whilst formed of the same three troop types, the four factions - Viking, Anglo-Danish, Welsh and Norman - are all very different in what they can do.

As to the scenario, well it required the warriors to take and hold the terrain features; both sides threw levy forward to try to seize the hills, but Mark was able to take an early lead by putting many of his finest warriors into the enclosures:

After which they pushed through to attack the hill.

Dane axes cut through the line of Thralls armed with only bows, and they soon retired to safety behind their own Hearthguard.

Paul's warriors counter attacked , and slaughtered a great many of the Danes.  Leaving only the Lord of the Anglo Danish, standing, facing his Viking counterpart.

Further to his left, The Viking Bondi attacked the Angles on the other hill, spear and shield digging deep against fearful levies.

The Danes found themselves forced back by the devilish tactics and aggression of the Vikings (who at this stage had a clear advantage in command dice over the Danes, who had now lost their Warlord too)

However an abortive attack on the Danish held fields, gave pause to the Viking efforts to mop up the Danes, they rather concluded the game by bringing forth the remnants of the levy, to shoot arrows into the hedges instead.

A quick and fun little game with a simple scenario, though one that did not detract much from most wargamers preference for simply thrashing the other side!  All over in about 90 minutes.  I look forward to sending my Franks into the fray later this week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pretty figures

I wasn't playing at the Headingley Club on Thursday, but as ever I was armed with the camera and looking to take pictures of attractive models.  There were five figure games going on, a selection of fantasy and historical games, and mostly with painted models.  Here are some of the highlights:

Some DBMM 15mm's, painted in the classic black lining technique.  It's an oriental army of some sort, but don't ask me which one.

Part of a heavily demon tainted 40k Orc army.  Stuff like this is always a dangerous temptation to me, as the Ork's are the one 40k army that you can really do anything you like with.  I remember my old army sold at the start of the year as it was all conversions and scratch builds.. These put mine to shame though, and the Bad Moons paint job is lovely too.

Next up for the camera are Paul and Mark's Saga troops:

Paul's Vikings above, and Mark's Saxons below:

Next time I'll be looking at the game they played in more detail, with a full battle report...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

More Poitiers Preparation

Little more than a week to go to the big show, the army lists are decided, the terrain is gathered and the last of the figures have been painted.

Above is a unit of 18 French knights on foot.  All the heraldry is historic, though I'm not going to go so far as to say it is of individuals present at Poitiers itself, I'm not that much of a perfectionist!  The figures are from Perry miniatures Agincourt range, but designed so that most of the troops would not look out of place earlier, when their armour would be the leading edge of technology rather than a mix of qualities.  Only the shields really make it apparent they are of the later period.

I also finished off 8 Brigands:

These were Front Rank miniatures I bought some years ago, second hand, at a show.  There's nothing like a big game to get me working through the piles of lead!  I had doubts about the weaponry, but it is authentic, the figure closest to the camera in particular is a 'Langue de Beouf' or Cow's Tongue spear.

In general terms I've decided for the day on basic infantry units of 18; though units of pike will be 24 and units of mounted knights will be at least 12 strong.  Only a unit of skirmishers will be any smaller than these standards, and as a result I think I'm putting about 550 figures on the table.

The only thing left to arrange really is the deployments for the game.  I could do with getting a map ready for the show, so I have some idea beyond the one in my tiny brain of where everything is going on the day.

Other than that, practically ready to go...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let the wolves fight and lions rise - 68AD

One of the newest visitors to the club, a chap called Richard, has a tidy little Roman army he was itching to use, and a copy of Hail Caesar he was hoping to learn to use.  Well, what else could I do?  Hence a two for one day with the Spartans, and a hypothetical battle that see Greece exploiting the chaos of the Roman Civil Wars to rise up for independence.

Each army was formed of two commands; the Romans being distinguished as one of cohorts of legionaries, and one of diverse auxiliaries, whilst the Greeks were formed in to two balanced forces combining both heavy and light troops.  The battlefield was gentle open pasture with a small farm to the Greek right and a couple of clumps of woodland.

The Greeks won both deployment and first move, in a game played without any special scenario; we opted to sweep forward in an echeloned advance.

Sadly only the Spartan phalanxes heeded this call, the allied states holding back.  In reply the Roman auxiliaries including recently recruited Celtic mercenaries rushed forward, whilst the main body of infantry in the centre stood and waited.

The advance of the Romans was enough to drive back some of the Greek skirmishers, but this only allowed the Thracian infantry to contact the Celts.  A bitter struggle began which favoured the well timed Thracian attack, and it would take the support of Roman trained auxilia to even the contest.  As to the exchange of bow-shot to their left, the Roman bows only came off worse against the well practised Greeks.

The Roman Commander decided he had waited long enough, and unleashed a single, implacable advance of all his Cohorts, some 3000 men, in the centre.  They smashed into the Spartan phalanxes, with hurl of Pilum and thrust of Gladius.

And many Spartans fell.  The retreat was only stayed by the arrival of the city allies, and the delaying tactics of the Psoiloi and Helots sweeping around the Roman flanks.

The Greeks had to throw their leaders and their bodyguards into the fray, and this cost them the commander in chief, cut down by a Roman Optio.  However the Roman general himself was an indecisive sort, and his troops stood for want of orders whilst the Greek flank attacks took some pressure off the centre.

In places it was enough the hold the Romans entirely.

In others it was only a case of diminishing returns.  The Greek Left defeated the Celts but at the cost of many Thracians, and there was little ability left, despite the ineffectual Auxilia troops before them (the Roman bow inflicted but one casualty all day), to affect a change of outcome.

In the centre the Romans did enough to seal a victory.  The Greeks had to withdraw badly bloodied, in the face of a forceful enemy, though thankfully one unwilling to risk advancing to hard, which thus allowed most of the Greeks to escape.

When we called time on the game (after about two hours of leisurely play, the club hours were running out before our enthusiasm), the Greeks had lost two Spartan Phalanxes and a unit of Thracians, the Romans only a unit of Celtic Auxilaries.  It was a clear but not comprehensive win for Rome.  Richard enjoyed the game, and quickly picked up the style of play.

So it looks like there will be more games in the future.  Pleasing, though I think the Greeks need a bit more balance to make a straight fight of it; those Roman cohorts are hard to beat!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kings of War - a Spartan interlude

I took another new player of Kings of War through a game on Sunday morning, Alan, previously an occaisional player of Warhammer put out his small force of Bretonnians against me.  I had another game booked for later in the day, so in a moment of inspiration, assembled a KOW army from the force I needed later.  Hence a, still fantasy free, Spartan army!

In fact, were it not for a token Pegasus, in Al's army, this would merely have been an anachronistic historical game using an effective but unlikely set of rules.

Al got to grips with the rules quickly enough, and was able to use some of my vavourite human units, mounted knights, to great effect.  However ge also made some mistakes, for example fielding two regiments of bows with musicians and standards, rather than four troop with out add ons - which would have doubled his firepower.  He also chose some of the largely useless artillery.

The battle came down to a tussle of human spearmen units with Knights.  The better defence of the Spartans was as nothing against a Knights +2 strength modifier.  As such, give me the extra attacks of pikes any day!

In the end it was only late in the game I pulled anything back, and by the end of turn five it was all over, with only a handful of me unit left.  The spears in the photo below were about to be destroyed!

I was pleased to find that Al enjoyed the rules, especially the pace of them andthe ease with which they could be picked up.  He then went on to play another game against one of the other attendees.  The KOW rules are picking up a significant following at the club, and I hope it's not a flash in the plan, for the last few weeks there's been more games of KOW than Warhammer in the new venue.  It's spurred me on to buy a proper copy of the rules too.  Well at just £5 it was mean not to.

Whilst at the club I got snaps of my latest terrain for the club too:

A 20mm ruin for KG Normandy (WW2) and some sort of communication node for sci-fi games (40k, etc) made from old Battle for Macragge starter parts.  The 20mm ruin is thin foamboard and Javis plasticard tile sheet on a wooden base, built and painted in an evening.

I'm looking forward to fighting for it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Preparation for Pudsey Recon - Vienne 1356

I've touched upon the topic of my doing a Display/Participation (more of the former I suspect) game to round of the year at the Pudsey Recon games show in the blog before.  My intention being to refresh and dig out my massive Medieval collection for the job.

Stage one was to audit what models I actually had, it turned out a fair few.  The Combination of English, French, Flemish, German and Navarrese troops I have in my Hundred Years War collection came to some 600 infantry and 80 cavalry, not to mention 6 cannon!  Nevertheless there were some gaps and some models that could be improved upon, hence recent painting activity.

Stage two was to pick a battle, and for various reasons I've selected Poitiers, not least in that I'd already done a small and simplified version of the battle earlier this year, and fancied a second go at it.

Stage three has been to get the research right.  To that end Ive been busy boning up on the period with a couple of useful tomes:

Next, I felt I needed to do my bit to promote the show, which thanks to the terrible weather was far too quiet last year!  To be frank they do themselves few favours, by being rather 2001 about promotion rather than 2011.  But I can help with that:

The full address for the venue is:

Pudsey Civic Hall, Dawson's Corner, Pudsey, Leeds, LS28 5TA 

Or just off the Leeds outer ring road at the roundabout shown below:

The event this year is on 3 December, and runs from 10-4pm, with a host of the usual traders, and a Bring and Buy, and Hordes of The Things (15mm) tournament.  I will be looking forward to seeing if the bar this year has it's usual overpriced fare and jug of mint sauce on hand...

Lastly, I've begun to get some games of Hail Caesar in again, to ensure I'm comfortable with the rules for the show.  For a first practice run, I trotted out the lads for a hypothetical battle based on the Poitiers campaign.

Edward the Black Prince's Chevauchee, or great raid, was being harried hard by King John II, But Edward envisaged being able to beat the larger French enemy in detail if it could be caught crossing the Vienne river that lay between him and the French.  In the end he never achieved this, and had to fight in more compromised circumstances (though ultimately, victoriously, in a close run battle), but this game supposed that the Gascons and English were able to catch the French crossing over the river.

The game was thus set with the French in mid crossing; only one unit was allowed over the bridge per turn and the bulk of their force was in column when the English appeared.  The river was impassable save by the Bridge (the Vienne in real life is at least 100m wide in the region of Poitiers); other terrain was largely inconsequential.

The French with the first turn were able to face the Gascon knights and Shire yeomanry in some order, but made little progress.  The Gascons under Captal de Buch advanced to, trying to form a supported attack along the river bank, but finding the supporting bowmen to be in some confusion, and too far back to engage early.

The first contact was made by the Gascons, and met with some success, though by the open woodland the French had the upper hand, near the River the Gascons killed or captured many French nobles.

The French had to reinforce with Pavisiers, and sent Genoese crossbowmen into farmland west of the river in the hope of flanking the enemy.

By the woods the French chivalry found itself massively outnumbered, it's impetuosity leading to it being trapped by exhausted Gascon knights supported by the Wolds, and Welsh bowmen and the personal retinues of both the Gascon and English commanders.

They managed to capture most of those left, but by now, both sides' cavalry was blown.  An open field stood littered with the wounded and dying where once they had been.  The French continued slowly to reinforce the bridgehead.  whilst the English attempted to get into bow range.

Sadly for them, a mixture of blundered commands and weak spirit when faced by greater numbers saw the English retire out of range; and the battle ended as a tactical draw, but a strategic victory for the French, who retained the Bridgehead to bring the rest of their troops over.

A useful practice with small forces, not as Steve, who played the English assumed, the actual game I intended for the show; it's far too small for my blood Steve!  No, this warm up was little more than a third the size, and mainly served to remind me of the rules I usually forget.

Back to the painting and scenery scrounging then...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kings of War - Tournament Report

Last weekend was the club's inaugural Kings of War tournament, which considering it was essentially a intra-club affair boasted a healthy 10 players.

I'd brought a slightly improved version of my Human army, featuring three units of Pike, three of bows, some heavy cavalry, some horse archers, a few Ogres and a couple of characters.  I was reasonably confident as this army had shown itself very adept so far.

My first game was against Paul, who fielded an eccentric Dwarven/Pygmy force.

It was obvious to me that he hadn't player many games yet, as he came on to me all to willingly, allowing me to use my significant advantage in unit numbers to nullify his individual hitting power; one of the keys to the game!

The terrain funnelled his attackers towards my units allowing me to deal with them one at a time with overwhelming force.

In the end it was a swift, and comprehensive annihilation of the Dwarven force.  On my last turn there was only his mechanical behemoth left, and when I was able to charge it with four units (totalling 86 attack dice) Paul conceded he wouldn't be getting a last turn!

So it was an easy and emphatic winning the first game.  But the draw for the second round upped the stakes significantly.  I was to face Mark's Elves; an army entirely formed of bow armed infantry.

The scenario was pillage, which meant only holding objectives mattered, and this looked to offer a glimmer of hope, but if too many Elves were left they would simply mop me up, so I would have to beging with an all out attack.

To that end my pike bravely marched into the hail of fire, hundreds of arrows slicing through their units.

Only one unit of pike made it to the enemy, and themselves only destroyed one unit before succumbing to horrendous losses.  But they had bought time for my wizard to seize a second objective; and for my flank attacking cavalry and ogres to fall upon the enemy; who proved as brittle in combat as at range they were supreme.

I realised the game was within my grasp.

And so it ended.  Having lost most of his army, Mark found he could only contest two objectives, whilst my caution in stationing an outclassed crossbow unit on one objective to my rear, and the wizard on another at the farm, meant I could claim two outright.

I'd won my second game, and perhaps inflicted a first defeat on the Elves.

But the final draw would prove the real grudge match.

Elsewhere a new attendee at the club, Richard was getting to grips with Andy's undead, and with so many players, most of the armies from the rules were represented somewhere, though on the day I think there were three human forces...

And so to the final round, and it would turn out the decider.  Myself and Darren were ahead, and were facing one another, the winner would claim victory, the loser second.  Over a battlefield with a lot of difficult terrain, and with both of us as wise old heads who would not fall for obvious tricks, a cagey battle would be fought.

One I forgot to photograph!  However in essence the Orcs decided to hold back again and made the Humans do all the running.  The combats were largely inconclusive until the last couple of turns, when the Orcs had done enough damage to deserve a victory.

So Darren was the winner on the day, whilst I shared second with Mark and Andy.  Everyone got three games within a space of four hours or so, and with the success of this event behind us, the intention is to repeat with wider promotion in January 2012.

This represents my best ever performance in a tournament, and the least stressful one to boot.  Huzzah for that.  What a nice set of rules!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Like taking Candy....

One factor to arranging games via a club web-forum, which I often do, is that sometimes you don't know who you are going to get as an opponent, until the last moment. Thursday's game was one of those; where it turned out my opponent was a precocious 9 or 10 year old son of one of the other club members.

Cue an evening of ADHD influenced gaming, where to lose to a child would be an emasculating humiliation. Pride dictated that I take the game seriously!

As it was, it presented a potentially tough match up of my Orcs and Goblins against High Elves.  High Elves have several natural advantages - Goblins fear them, they always attack first, high leadership, fast, and so on.  However, I could rely on experience; and so I deployed with a plan to use my fast troops to outflank him.

As one might expect from a novice, he fell for just these traps, allowing his general to be sucked into fight after fight with units it's equal and all the time to be exposed to (sadly inaccurate) artillery fire.  He also allowed his cavalry to engage in a suicidal charge against my goblins.

As he charged in he released a Fanatic, who ended up in their line of attack;  passing through him to their target did enough damage to destroy them, but even had that failed, 24 poisonous goblin bow shots would have followed, and a dangerous terrain test for another magical effect.  All before any melee; the elves had no chance.

The same goblin unit, augmented repeatedly with the poison spell, withered away a unit of Swordmasters, whilst its' compatriots blocked the advance of a unit of spears.  At the rear of his lines, my spider riders flanked a unit of bowmen, destroying them utterly, in time to counter the Elf general on his Griffon.  So far the Orcs had done nothing.

The Spiders did enough harm to finish off the Elven general, leaving just a confused Griffon.  Whilst the Elven spearmen easily beat the goblins before them, their pursuit left them exposed to a Mangler squig and the massed artillery of the Goblins.  Not that this mattered, as the scenario was Blood and Glory, and by this stage without its' General the Elves were already beat.

Actually a pleasant game, but a relief to win, and avoid the shame of defeat by a child!

Elsewhere at the club, Mark and Andy were having another pop at KGN.  Canadian Churchill tanks were having a bad time of it struggling through the Bocage:

Mark had a much smaller force, but it had access to defences and tricks, the Panzer IV at top of shot was in fact a fake; however it was Panzerfausts and Shrecks hidden in foxholes that were doing most of the damage.  An authentic game indeed!