Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Long Has It Been Since I've Played A REAL Ancients Game?

Steve Bidwell and I dusted off some of our classical ancients collections and threw down on Saturday night at the Rat Palace Redux in Red Oak, Texas. We introduced Rusty Parker to Might of Arms as well.  I've been playing several Dark Ages games lately such as Dux Britannium by Too Fat Lardies and Saga by Gripping Beast's rules group. I do like Dux and the period of Late Romano-Britain and the continuous raids of the Saxons.  I also like Saga but think the game was "played out" by the game of the week crowd at several local games stores before I had my collections completed. I started my wargaming addiction playing WRG 5th, 6th and a bit of 7th editions. I've missed the larger, massed battles our krew used to play with multiple army flavors and the look of massed battles on my game tables. 
Steve Bidwell brought his New Kingdom Egyptians while Rusty and I played Assyrians. Both armies have lots of missile weapons, a predominance of shock and light chariotry and big units of infantry.  The beauty of these rules is they're fast, furious and games come to striking conclusions as forces melt away via fatigue, shaken status and rout from other friends routing.
 This may seem a bit tedious to a newer gamer not used to playing more classic rules. That's ok. I just like more than 50 figures on the table at one time. My thinking if 50 figures is good, 150-200 per player is GREAT!  The game played true to form as Bidwell shot the crap out of my Assyrians that did not have many skirmishing elements. The game lasted five game turns in about 3.5 hours including teaching Rusty the game.  That rocks for me. I want to play more Might of Arms. It has and will continue to be my ancients game of choice.
Our collections consist of 25mm Hinchcliffe, Ral Partha, Garrison and some Foundry (some slingers I don't use much).  Here's a small gallery of the game. Please take a moment to join our DFW Irregulars-Southern Front Meet Up Group if you're interested in playing in the DFW area.  Our group rocks!
Assyrian Heavy Chariots crash into Egyptian Marines
Miller's favorite tactic....chariot traffic jam!

Battle Line Turn 2...these rules get one into melee QUICKLY!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Dux Campaign! Ludicrous Sextus vs. Theoden! Who will Win?

Has it been three months since I posted anything?  Seems as if this is true.  The past three months have been a blur as my FIRST Robotics Team 3355 went to kick off, designed, built and competed our robot, my spouse of 36 years went into hospital for a month with infections associated with her leukemia and teaching multiple preparations just got in the way.
Found a bit of time to learn (sorta') a great set of Dark Age rules that are set in post-Roman Britain.  I won't go into a long tome about how I like the rules, they're easy to learn but hard to master, are written to flow smoothly as honey and just fun enough to keep my interest through many rounds of Chocolate Double Stout, Dunkelbrau, and Fireball Whisky! These rules are a "winnah winnah-chicken dinnah" for me and a great compliment to Saga Dark Age rules. I've never been a "skirmish gamer" in 30+ years; but, these rules plus another Two Fat Lardies set "Chain of Command" have gotten my attention as our group really hasn't dusted off our HUGE ancients collections in years.  OK, now on to the game report.

The game has a "game" within the game for pre-battle terrain set up and for pre-battle inspiration of a warlord's troopers and levies. The pre-game is really fun and sets the stage very well for the miniatures battle.  We played on Rusty Parker's 6x4 table with a lot of beachfront property for the Saxons to wade through.  The terrain game ended up with a set of marshy areas, a large forested area, two hills and some rocky/difficult ground

The Saxons hit the beach and got funneled into a small deployment area. The forest and marshy areas split the Saxons into three distinct forces. The Romano-Brits were deployed to take and hold the higher ground inland. The game has a really cool inspiration phase that can include giving a rousing, inspiring speech to the men,  passing out copious amounts of mead and ale to your troops (liquid courage), consulting the gods, committing your champions to single combat or just saying "screw it" and getting straight to the battle.  I proceeded to roll up a big hit of mead and ale. My army went to battle staggering drunk.  Sometimes that is a good thing! I celebrated the fact with a long draft of Chocolate Double Stout!  Rusty committed his champion to fight my champion (FiddyEuroson).  FiddyEuroson wounded the Saxon dog and forced him to leave the field. The Romano-Brits were standing around gobsmacked as their previous encounters with the Saxons had some bad results.  This battle would be the pivot point to whether or not the Saxon warlord Theoden could take the province defended by the upstart, wannabe' Dux Ludicrous Sexus.  Game on!

This game was nip and tuck throughout. I'll post up pictures, comment and try to give some flavor to the pics. If you were thinking about playing a Dark Ages game, tried Saga, found out it was "game of the week" at your local game store and your collection is collecting dust; try Dux. You can easily play a two person campaign (we try to play weekly) or a larger battle where multiple warlords are utilized.  The rules are written in a tongue in cheek style so it's a pretty easy read.  If you play other TFL rules, you'll see a common set of mechanics in all of them. They work and work well.  Enjoy the gallery! It was a great evening with a great friend!
FiddyEuroson fights the big bad-assed Saxon champion. It's
brute strength against Romano-British guile. Who wins?

Ludicrous Sexus' Hearthguard

Where's the Saxon Champion? Oh yeah, he's limping back to meet
his boss, Theoden

Rusty Parker's Saxons look GREAT!
They fight pretty GREAT too!

Romano-British warriors-ex Federatii Palatini

Ludicrous Sexus, wannabe' Dux of Britania

British Warlord serving Ludicrous

Levies and Warriors facing off against the raiders

SHIELDWALL! I pulled a "step forth" card, putting
my troopers into shield wall up hill, forcing the Saxon
warlord to re-think the charge.

Gripping Beast Shieldwall sets from
my Late Roman collection

Saxons have bent the Romano-Brits in two directions...
Ouch! Not to worry!

Learning from the last two games (it took that long
for Miller to figure this out), warriors and levies form Shieldwall
preparing for a Saxon charge.

Shieldwall closer up.  Little Big Man Studio Banners
and Gripping Beast Dracos grace my collection. Great

Some Scottish "bard" or some Gaelic term for liar
and puffer-up of the Saxon warlord, Theoden LOL

Saxons are like Doritos. Go ahead and slay them...
we'll make more!

Facing off. It won't be pretty and will leave plenty of marks!

A lone, brave lad gives the Saxons a Romano-British
"raspberry" after being bounced off the hill; keeping
the R-B flank from being turned.

Cool game!

Lots o' dead for the ravens and crows.

Each yellow marker equals "one shock". One
loses melee 1D6 for every two markers. You do the

Very active and fun game. Note all the shock markers
on both sides. Casualties and fatigue starting to set in

Shield Walls hug the hill. Miller is NOT going off THIS
hill THIS time!

Levy and Warrior group routing.
Check out the number of shock
markers.  I've never had as many in a game. Tough
melee results for the Romano-Brits

Ludicrous Sexus preps to smak Sax-sons

Gripping Beast casualties

Saxon Hearthguard/Elites

Hero archers!

Friday, January 2, 2015

On the Road Again...To Borodino-A Black Powder Road Trip!

I've had Black Powder for several years sitting in the "gonna do someday" bookshelf for rules.  Full disclosure, I've got rules like "Shock of Impact", Gush Renaissance, Dead Man's Hand, ad nauseum.   I've been playing Pike and Shotte and consider it my standard for the period.  As I have grown older, I've wanted to pare down the sheer number of rules sets I play. I've done that with Pike and Shotte, 40K, Flames of War (limited myself to Early War and Mid War Mediterranean), Fire and Fury (old school), and Might of Arms for ancients.
Most after action reports are full of really cool stuff like diagrams, maps and rousing tomes to the exploits of the gamer generals.  I wanted to play out a complete Black Powder game, learn and understand some of the basic components and make a decision whether to keep and use these rules or put them up on EBay.  This is a compilation of the game journal I kept.  I've also noted questions and thoughts.  I've put enough pictures in to show the action and illustrate some of the foibles encountered during the game.  If you wanted a dumbed down version, please go to the Internet.

I'm using the following game aids. I use yellow beads from "All the King's Men" to denote disorder, red beads from ATKM to denote shaken status and have pressed a dial type of marker used in Pike and Shotte to denote stamina of units.  I don't like to clutter the table with junk other than my whisky glass or the occasional beer bottle; dice, measuring tape and these guys are all I used.  I like simple.

The terrain table was 8'x6'. It was open with undulations but not difficult terrain. I did not use a village or many pieces of "eye candy" other than the sheep herder and the cantiniere.  The Russian general was definitely drawn to the cantiniere.

Most, if not all the miniatures used are Hinchcliffe, Foremost, Connoisseur, Front Rank or Old Glory.  I've not had reason until now to paint any Warlord figures; this game showed me how the battalion packs or regimental packs would be a good buy to bulk up the forces.  I did use 24 figures for line infantry, 32 figures for grenadiers, 16 figures for light infantry, and 12 figures for all cavalry.  This fit my collection's parameters rather than having to either re base/bulk up to fit the rules.  This is a plus for Black Powder as the authors write that these rules were constructed to fit their collections.  I like that!  Here's the game afterwards.  This was a good game! I'm doing it again and will probably use it as one of my three standards for Napoleonics.

The Game! 
Turn 1: VIII Corps won the dice roll and have first turn.
1. Cavalry brigade failed to move due to distance from CiC.
2. French infantry brigade moves briskly forward to take the crest of the hill. 1
3. VIII Corps Westphalians move down the road and form order mixte. (1 move)
4. VIII Corps Light Brigade fails to move due to distance from CiC

Turn 1: Russians
1. Russian center brigade moves hastily and into Hand to Hand; receiving Closing Fire from the French.
2. Grenadier Brigade sits-activation failure!
3. Light Brigade sits-activation failure!
4. Cavalry Brigade moves normally in support of the hasty infantry brigade.
5. French closing fire causes 4 hits with 3 saves by Russians. Russians close! Urrah!!!
6. 7 dice (+1 for charging)=3 hits on French/2 saves=1 casualty.  Russians take 2 casualties. Make break test.  Both have rear support and flank support. Russians stick in the scrum because of their "steady" designation.  That works fine and fast. It takes longer to log the journal than to play out the results. Looking pretty good right now.

Turn 2: VIII Corps
1. Light Brigade moves 2-forward and deploys into skirmish formations
2. Line infantry move forward and form order mixte. 1st Batt. moves 2, 2nd Batt. moves 1,  3rd Batt. fails activation roll.  (not a brigade order). Artillery deploy.
3. French brigade in combat, 2nd batt. uses "free move" to support 1st Batt. Light Batt. moves to support deployed arty.
4. Cavalry brigade rolls 3 moves. Charges Russian Tsarina's Hussars.
5. Inconclusive artillery and infantry shooting.
6. Infantry combat:
    -French hit on 3+ because they won last combat
    -Result: Russians lose, get fall back result. French take position.
7. Hussar battle:
    Westphalians: 4 Hits/3 saves, Russians: 4 Hits/1 save
    Russians fail break test and are DESTROYED.  Westphalians sweep advance
    into Russian Dragoons.  Russian Dragoons lose and retire.  Westphalian
    Hussars make second sweeping advance to threaten Russian infantry

Russian II:
1. Russian Kurassier charges Bavarian Dragoons. (untested=random stamina)
2. Dragoons successfully counter charge!
3. Line Bde:
    1st Batt retired
    2nd Batt fails to charge French infantry advance
    3rd Batt forms square in face of the Westphalian Hussars
    Arty deploys to the left of square.
4. Grenadier Bde fails to activate (getting a bit tedious)
5. Light Bde fails to activate (due to distance from CiC)
6. Kurassier rolls 3 stamina. Both regiments have +D3 combat results because
    heavy cavalry designation.  I don't quite understand how this is important but
    documented anyway.
7. Bavarian Dragoons win, Kurassier takes break test and retires one turn.
    Oops, the Bavarian Dragoons do a sweeping advance to keep the Kurassiers
    running. The Kurassiers test and successfully evade beyond the edge of the
    table. They go to Borodino wondering how a bunch of sausage heads could
    beaten the Pskov out of the Kurassiers!

Turn III:
VIII Corps:
1. Cavalry Bde-3 moves
   - Bavarian Dragoons vs retiring Kurassiers
   - Westphalian Cuirassiers (ha...I never get to play them) vs. retiring Dragoons
   - Westphalian Hussars vs. Arty(firing cannister...ouch)
2. French Infantry-2 moves
  -Arty turn and shoot square
  -Infantry II charge square
  -Light Infantry form up in battle column and follow Infantry 2 in support of
   right flank ( move)
3. Westphalian Line-2 moves
   -Form line and shoot flank of Russians
   -Form battle column to the left of the line (Order Mixte)
   -Form battle column to the right of the line (Order Mixte)  (FAILED)
4. Inconclusive shooting on square.
5. Closing fire on Hussars-1 hit/1 save/they close...close your will be
6. Square holds ground! Urrah!
7. Arty. Destroyed-Westphalian Hussars sweep into the flank of shaken Russian
   infantry not in square!
8. Kurassiers break off table...I made an error earlier.
9. Westphalian Kurassiers beaten by Russian Dragoons. Retire 18" They're
    going back into the box. von Zastrow wannabes!
10. Hussars destroy Russians not in square; forcing Brigade tests

Brigade Tests:
Russian Cavalry leaves field
Russian Center Infantry leaves field

50% over! Thanks for playing!

What did I learn?
1. Move the general constantly throughout the game. Go back and see if I played command correctly. I play batallia commanders in Pike and Shotte. Do I play Brigade commanders here or only a CiC? If the Russians could have moved, this game would have been quite different.

2. Incorporate individual stats for commanders. I was left a bit cold at the plain vanilla of the standard CiC numbers.

3. Don't spread out over the entire 8' of table. This rules set compliments historical play.  Concentrate forces and defeat in detail.

4. Do I need to expand to 12' next time? Two players per side should be ok with the 8' but expanding the forces will definitely force a 12-16' table given the rules.

1. Do artillery batteries count against brigade morale if they're included as part of the brigade?
2. Do games play better on the 6' side or the 8' side? Again the issue of mass....
3. Would French infantry play as Elite or would they have several units only with that designation?

24 figs of Russians...impressive!

Westphalian 2nd Hussars sweep into the non squared Russians

Sausage eating Bavarians smack down the Pskov Kurassiers

I haven't played these Dragoons in years.  They kicked Russian butts

Perfect storm forming!

Lay on with cold steel and musket butts!

Russian Arty didn't run to square...oops...can they do  that anyway?

Westphalian Lights out on a holiday stroll

No Russian cavalry...

Old..Old Glory Russians painted when I had cataracts..LOL

Bird's eye view of the developing storm!

Enthusiastic Russian....probably drunk again!

Napoleonic scrum down at the 22!

Tsarina's to paint...well..they were fun to paint


Bad News Westphalian Hussars!

This general must have been drunk. These two brigades sat all game!

bird's eye view of cavalry flanks

1980s vintage Hinchcliffe figures!

Yeah..the Westphalian Kurassiers think this will be easy pickin's!