Monday, May 25, 2020

Foraging at the Farm

We played the latest in our series of Lion-Rampant-by-Skype games yesterday. This time I adapted a scenario from The Pikeman's Lament that had the four players each trying to "forage" (steal) supplies from a farm somewhere near the besieged town of Dickerhausen.  The farm is defended by two units of Serfs (I called them Bauer) who will fight against either side to retain their goods.

The forage token markers in the picture above (the pile of boxes and the donkey) are two of the four in the scenario. They had differing values. When a player picked up a forage token by I revealed the value of a forage token to him only. I'd prepared playing cards of the relevant values as a way of randomly selecting them.

The table was symmetrical this time. North is at the top of the map.

The central farm area was deemed to be Rough Going and to provide cover from shooting.  The big brown rectangles are ploughed fields (also Rough Going) and there's a small wood on the northern edge of the field. The blue dots represent the four forage tokens.

I gave each player an entry point at a corner of the table. Northwest was Albert Saysions-de-Dôge (Burgundian, Gus).  Southwest was Gerhardt-Heinrich von Schimmel (Burgundian, Mark). Northeast was Gustav Sneffl (Swiss, Andy) and south east was Beat Züsli (Swiss, John).

I allocated about thirty points a-side and allowed the players to split the forces between them. Although the table was symmetrical, I wanted the tactical problems between the two sides to be different. For this reason I gave the Burgundians to units of mounted men-at-arms. I declared these to be Fastidious; a special house-rule that allowed them to ignore the Bauer for the purposes of Wild Charges but also meant that they would play no part in the actual carrying of forage tokens!

I'd assumed the Burgundian players would take one unit of Mounted Men-at-Arms each so as to share out the inconvenience but instead they chose to give both of them to Gus.

Somewhat unusually, Gus managed to get all of his forces (Men-at-Arms and longbows) onto the table on turn one! There was much rejoicing in the Burgundian camp.

Andy's Swiss mounted crossbows made use of their 12" move distance to hare towards the east side of the farm.

With a couple of shots and then a short, sharp melee, they drove off the Bauer guarding that side of the complex.

Meanwhile, two groups of Bidowers (John's Swiss in red and white, foreground below) and Mark's Italian mercenaries were also converging on the east end of the farm.

Soon the mounted crossbows were making heir way east with the captured sheep (who turned out to be worth four forage points).

Mark's Italian crossbowmen got the better of John's Swiss bidowers and were soon making off with the barrel (also worth four points).

They were, however, chased by John's Swiss and Irish mercenaries.

In the picture above we can also see the western units of Bauer cowering back from the accurate arrows of Gus's Burgundian longbowmen.

At this point, my slapdash efforts at photo-journalism let us down. I got no pictures of Albert Sayssions-de-Dôge leading his Burgundian men-at-arms into the teeth of the Swiss attack.

Surrounded by enemy troops including very menacing unit of halberdiers (Fierce Foot) lining the edge of the woods, Albert three times challenged the Schimmel to a duel and was three times refused.  There was some delay to the arrival of on of the Swiss pike units as they debated whether this was acceptable behaviour (a couple of failed courage tests as a result of the failure to accept the challenges).

We played another House Rule, this time that a Men-at-Arms unit led by a Leader whose Challenge was refused could subsequently activate, ignoring the Wild Charge rule that turn.

Eventually there was a melee when the Swiss pikes advanced on Albert's men-at-arms. Both sides took serious casualties but of course a six-model mounted unit can absorb less damage before it becomes degraded in its fighting power.

Finally, Albert's unit could no longer put off the Wild Charge that had been brewing. With von Schimmel out of Challenge range, Albert charged one of Beat Züsli's skirmisher units that had been trying to sneak round the farmhouse to steal the penultimate forage token. Fighting in Rough Ground, Albert was unhorsed and dashed to the ground!

In the meantime, the second unit of Italian mercenary crossbowmen had made off with the third forage token (the six pointer!) putting Mark well in the lead.

A subsequent charge by the other Burgundian Men-at-arms unit did wipe out the Swiss skirmishers allowing Gus's longbowmen to grab the remaining token. Sadly for Gus this was had only a two point value.

The game then degenerated into a chase in which the Burgundians tried to escort off the last forage token using their last two units; Mark's pikes and Gus's longbowmen.  After much cursing over failed activation rolls this was eventually achieved in a tense finish.

At the end of the game Gus decided that this time he would roll on the heroic escape table from The Pikeman's Lament (which we're using in this "campaign"). The result was that although initially believed dead, Albert Saysions-de-Dôge escaped to return to the Burgundian camp with a thrilling tale and an impressive scar.

At the end of the game the distribution of Glory was as follows:

Gerhardt-Heinrich von Schimmel* gained ten points of Glory for a running total of 10

Albert Saysions-de-Dôge gained two points, less one for a failed Boast, plus one for his heroic escape for a running total of 2. In fact make that 3; I'm going to use umpire's privilege to award an additional point for conspicuous bravery.

Beat Züsli failed to add to his Glory. His running total remains at 10.

And finally, Gustav Sneffl added four points of Glory to lead with 12 despite turning down a grand total of three challenges to single combat and surviving a fourth! I have feeling the rules don't allow such multiple challenges but what the hell, it was fun!

* Note that in previous write-ups von Schimmel has been called Heinrich but throughout this game he was definitely referred to as Gerhardt so I've decided he must be Gerhardt-Heinrich.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Messenger to Dickerhausen

We had another game of Lion Rampant by Skype again today. We played a four player adaptation of the scenario The Messenger from the Lion Rampant rule book.

On this occasion Mark's Burgundians were escorting a messenger down a road to Dickerhausen (i.e. from bottom left to top right on the map below).  Gus would command another party riding out from the Burgundian camp at Dickerhausen (top right) to escort in the messenger.

Andy would command the Swiss pikes, halberdiers, and mounted crossbowmen from the top left, while John would enter on the road through the forest with a force made up entirely of Bidowers (a mix of Swiss skirmish troops and Irish kern mercenaries).

The thin, olive-coloured line represents a field boundary (an Obstacle in Lion Rampant terms).

Action was slow getting started thanks to some shockingly poor dice rolling by both sides. If I recall correctly, only a unit of Burgundian skirmishers from the camp were on the table at the end of the first pair of player turns!

Gus (as Albert Saysions de Dôge) split the Dickerhausen Burgundians in three.  The skirmishers headed for the forest while the pikemen marched down the road and the Men At Arms crossed the hedge into the enclosure.  This was designed to put them in a position to intervene at the road junction without being lured into the forest.  It was a good plan but it was to be hampered by Gus's ability to repeated roll four on 2d6!

John's (Beat Züsli's) skirmishers advanced through the forest along and alongside the road.

Mark (Heinrich von Schimmel) decided that the coustilliers should escort the messenger, that his personal men-at-arms should follow them and that their left flank should be guarded by the Italian mercenary crossbow-men.

Andy (Gustav Sneffl) led the Swiss force advancing across the open ground. He had a unit of mounted crossbow-men, two units of pikemen, and one of halberdiers.

The Burgundian coustilliers advanced quickly along the road and it looked at one point like they would outpace Sneffl's pursuing troops and march straight into the arms of Saysion de Doge's men.

Unfortunately for the Burgundians however, their ability to fail to activate at key moments would see the horsemen stop when they reached the road junction. Presumably they were uncertain as to the route. The only slight ray of sunshine was the fact that the Irishmen in the forest, within easy javelin cast, were equally confused.  Were these enemies or not?

By the time the coustilliers had got their act together, Sneffl's halberdiers were within charge range.  They charged in and the coustilliers, surprised it seems, were caught at the halt.

The halberdiers charged. Their vicious weapons did bloody work among the enemy horsemen.

The survivors fled. The halberdiers charged again. Once more the coustilliers were too disorganised to counter-charge and now the escort was reduced to a single figure... who was then killed by a handgun ball fired from the forest.

The messenger was left unguarded...

Under the terms of the scenario, the game therefore ends in a Swiss victory.

Towards the end of the game, Gus rolled four consecutive fours on 2d6 to (fail to) activate his troops.  He managed to get his pikemen off the road to allow the coustilliers a clear path to the camp and he lost not a single figure all game but in the end he was unable to influence the result.

Mark lost the messenger and so both Burgundian commanders came out of the action with no Glory points (neither had made a Boast).

Andy had Boasted that he would "Strike the first blow" but failed to get into position to declare a charge and so ended up, again, with four points of Glory. John's Irish lost no casualties and fired the fatal shot that took out the last of the escort.  He finished with five points of Glory.

At the end of the third* game we see the "league table" looking like this:

Beat Züsli (John), 10 points
Gustav Sneffl (Andy), 8 points
Heinrich von Schimmel (Mark), 0 points
Albert Saysions de Dôge (Gus), 0 points.

* Effectively the second game as I'm regarding the first as a test (and anyway leader casualties mean that none of the commanders in that game continued into the second).

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

A bit of woodwork

I've had a couple of 25mm scale draft horses for many years and wanted to make some use of them. I'd thought something suitable for use in either Mexico or the Woebetides would be useful. Eventually I spotted an artillery limber among the items in Warlord's War of the Spanish Succession range and decided to have a go at copying it.

I built the basic frame out of left-over MDF strip using lap joints and PVA where the two crossbeams meet the main longitudinal member.  The diagonal braces I cut by eye and attached with superglue.

The wheels are from the old Airfix Napoleonic French Artillery set and are attached (again using superglue) to a plastic rod axle simply glued to the lower surface of the cross-piece.

At this stage I painted everything with slightly thinned PVA for strength.

I decided the easiest way to make sure the finished piece was strong enough was to start building straight onto the base it would eventually sit on.  First I glued on the horses, having dry fitted everything to work out how far apart they needed to be.

I made a jig from a spare piece of wood to hold the frame whilst I drilled out the hole for the spike onto which the towing eye of the artillery piece will sit. I cut a groove in the wood for the axle to sit in. Of course it would have been easier if I'd thought to do this bit before I'd glued the thing together but there you have it.

A short piece of the same plastic rod I'd used for the axle made the spike.

The next question was how to make the limber sit securely behind the horses. In reality the front cross-piece would have two eyes into which the hooks on the rear of the swingletrees (those wooden bars at the rear of the harness) would seat.  No way could I build that and anyway one of the singletree hooks was miscast.

In the end I superglued strips of thick foil (form the top of a wine bottle) from the bottom of each swingletree.  With a little bending I could glue these foil hooks to the bottom of the front cross-bar of the limber and fold the spare foil up the rear edge of the crossbar where they are virtually invisible.

I then trimmed the base to size, glued down the wheels to the base (superglue again) and started reinforcing the join with my usual paint-and-Tetrion ground cover.

I always apply the gloop to bases in more than one session, allowing the first lot to set before completing the job. This prevents the base warping too much.

I then got the painting done in one session.

I decided not to repaint the horses but added little detail to the previous (probably twenty-year-old) paint job.

By comparison to modern 28mm model horses these guys are small but then horses and ponies differ in size wildly so I'm not bothered.

This piece should be useful pulling guns whether they're being retrieved from Matamoros by the bandit Cortina or moved along the forest trails of Grand Woebetide.

Monday, April 27, 2020

More Lion Rampant by Skype

On Sunday we had another game of multi-player Lion Rampant with the players spread across three counties.  Again it was using my 15th century Swiss-Burgundian Wars models. Once more, Gus and Mark ran the Burgundians but this time Andy was joined by John to command the Swiss. Very kindly, Jamie helped out by moving the toys around.

Again, I was too busy running the game to take a sequence of photographs but I did get some nice pics about three-quarters of the way through.

The battle saw the first outing for my new Burgundian ordonnance pikemen (see below). Needless to say, they were routed from the table. This is wholly traditional for any newly painted wargames unit.

The scenario this time was a basic line-up-and-fight approach.  I thought it would be interesting to make sure the table had two distinct areas - one characterised by dense terrain with little room to manoeuvre and the other more open.  The western end of the table was built up and had gardens and scrubby ground that were declared to be Rough Ground.

The centre of the table was dominated by a significant area of open ground (albeit with nearby woods and a steep hill).

I wanted the players to think about where they deployed their units and make sure they sent the right horses to the right courses.  To some extent this was what they did but Heinrich von Schimmel (Mark) did have one of his companies of mounted Burgundian men-at-arms lured into the built-up area where, predictably, they were ambushed and routed by Swiss hand-gunners.

In the centre and on the eastern flank of the field the Burgundian leader, Riccardo di Stanza (Gus) had high quality troops - ordonnance longbowmen (Expert Archers) and pikemen (Expert Foot Serjeants) but they were outnumbered by the Swiss. The Burgundian men-at-arms and coustilliers who should have supported them were slow getting into action.

The opposing Swiss fielded two units of pike, one of Italian mercenary crossbowmen, and one of mounted crossbowmen.    

Believing that the enemy's superior numbers were about to tell, di Stanza issued a challenge to the leader of the Swiss pikes, Beat Züsli (John).

Unfortunately, the Lord was not on di Stanza's side and he soon lay bleeding on the field of battle.

The defeat of their coustilliers by a combination of pikes and mounted crossbowmen and the slaughter of their men-at-arms, shot down among the cabbages, persuaded the Burgundians to withdraw.

So now we have two games under our belts and one win each for Burgundians and Swiss. We counted Glory this time and the following totals are carried forward to our next game:

John - Beat Züsli - 5 Glory
Andy - Gustav Schneffl - 4 Glory (he had made a boast that all of his units would get into hand to hand combat but they did not)
Mark - Heinrich von Schimmel - 0 Glory
Gus - Contare Riccardo di Stanza 0 Glory and deceased.

I gave Gus the option of rolling on The Pikeman's Lament's Officer Casualties Table to see if Count Riccardo really was dead.  Gus, however, was glad to see the back of him.  Riccardo di Stanza's body, looted of his fine coat and armour, was consigned to an anonymous grave-pit on the field. The ladies of Strasbourg, though, still speak of his elegant manners and fine moustache.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A possible Woebetides table layout

I've downloaded a new drawing package for the Mac.  It's freeware called Paintbrush and its very reminiscent of Paint on a Windows machine.  I thought I'd try it out by drawing a diagrammatic version of Grand Woebetide in the early eighteenth century.

The mid-green areas are coastal plain areas, partly scrubby but mostly cleared for agriculture. The dark green marks the edges of the forested central highlands.

The white area is the home range of the Woebetideus people.  We'll treat it was largely impassable but in fact it will be the "hole" in the centre of the table to allow gamers access to both sides of the coastal plain tables.

I wanted an Arab settlement on the north coast so I've added the fishing settlement of Alsamaka (Arabic for 'fishy') - it was presumably abandoned by the 1940s as it doesn't appear on my old wartime map of the island.

Fort James to Fort Charles is about 12 miles as the Woebetide Spotted Pigeon flies. Using the space available to us at Dungworth Green Hall I reckon we could build our bath-tubbed Grand Woebetide twenty feet or more in length.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Latest Woebetideus Models

Having done 32 Warlord plastic infantry as redcoats I fancied painting a different uniform for the last eight.  Those first guys could pass for English or Irish-in-French-service but I think I'll probably end up using them as the former for the Woebetides campaign.  

These new fellows are definitely French.  I've gone for the grey coats and blue facings of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine.  Just a little more painting to do including the yellow lace on the tricorns.

The completed officer is from a Foundry Last of the Mohicans character set.  He's therefore a bit late in costume but I can live with that.

the second officer for my Arabs is this guy. He and his banner are from the Perry Mahdist Ansars box.

Also from that box is this Arab mob...

And finally, these two civilians are from Foundry.  I look forward to the stories we can develop about these two.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Action at Dickerhausen

So we managed to play our Lion Rampant-by-Skype game yesterday with me refereeing, Jamie with me commanding part of the Swiss force and moving the toys and Mark, Gus and Andy online. We used my Swiss-Burgundian Wars collection and a scenario from The Pikeman's Lament that I thought worked for a four-player game.

Swiss crossbow-armed bidowers
The field of battle represented part of the outskirts of the fictional Swiss town of Dickerhausen, recently surrounded by a Burgundian army that is starting to build siege lines.

Andy, with two units of Swiss pikemen and a unit of mounted crossbows, was to attack north (from left to right on the photo above) from Dickerhausen towards the Burgundian fieldworks in front of their camp. Gus had three units of Burgundian missile troops to defend the line.

The far (west) end of the table was taken up by an "impassable" marsh.  One day there'll be an impassable marsh in one of my wargames that turn out to be genuinely impassable but this wasn't that day.  Jamie came through the marsh with a light and fast-moving force - four units of bidowers and one of halberdiers (Fierce Foot in Lion Rampant terms).

The final force in the game was the Burgundian horse.  Mark had a unit of coustilliers (mounted sergeants) and two of mounted men-at-arms the were going to enter from the northern corner (bottom right in the photo above.

Gus set up a Skype call to which we were all invited and I set up my iPad to use the rear-facing camera so that I could provide a view of the relevant bits of the table as necessary.

Andy launched a frontal attack on the Burgundian earthworks but it rapidly became apparent that his pikemen were going to suffer against the Burgundian longbowmen and the Italian mercenary crossbowmen alongside them. One block of pikes was routed before the other reached the earthworks and stopped, presumably disorganised by having to climb over the bank.

Mark threw forward his coustilliers but had the usual difficulty getting his men-at-arms to advance to anywhere useful.

Jamie's light troops made fairly good time through the marsh and by the time I got to take some pictures the battle had begun to coalesce into an east-west action around the open end of the earthworks.

The Burgundian left after routing the Swiss pikes
Mounted men-at-arms are scary beasts once they finally get to the scene of the fighting.  They were able to drive off Jamie's halberdiers and eventually rout them.

When we got down to just three units of bidowers left for the Swiss, we decided to call it a day.

The general feeling was that the technology had worked well and that Lion Rampant wasn't a bad set of rules for this kind of distant gaming.  We're going to try it again.  In fact I've started building another unit of pikes from the Perry plastic Continental Mercenaries box.

I think next time I might propose a more straightforward line-em-up-and-fight game but introduce more of the additional rules; Boasts and leader characteristics for a start.