Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Gaming Part 2

Christmas gaming this year continued on Boxing Day when Jamie and I played a splendid game of X-Wing.  We returned to the scenario from the basic set that involves escorting the senator's shuttle to the opposite side of the board.

The game was wonderfully tense. The shuttle has six "hit points" and took a "console fire" critical hit early in the game.  This meant that I had to roll each turn to see if the fire spread doing more damage.  Normally this result can be undone by spending a Action to put out the fire but the senator's shuttle doesn't get to perform Actions.  In the end the shuttle was just a single point away from destruction when it exited the table giving the Rebels a narrow win. Sadly no photos though so we'll move on the our game on the 27th.

I'd planned a six-player recreation of the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields (aka Chalons), 451CE.  This battle-of-all-the-nations saw a Roman-led alliance under Flavius Aetius take on Atilla's Hunnic-Gepid-Ostrogoth army.

I say "planned" because at the last minute I gained an extra player (having already decided to allocate one player role to Arthur and Leo working together).  We were thus eight:

  • Andy and Gus took on the roles of Aetius and Merovec, king of the Franks, commanding the Roman left
  • Benedict was Sangiban, king of the Alans in the Roman centre,
  • Lewis, new to our games, was Theodoric, king of the Visigoths and commander of the Roman right
  • Leo and Arthur commanded the Gepids on the Hunnic right
  • Jamie took on the Role of Atilla, and 
  • Kevin, as Valamir, king of the Ostrogoths, ran the Hunnic left.
The following photos begin after the battle was underway for a couple of turns.  In the foreground the Visigoths and Ostrogoths contest the long ridge that dominates that part of the field. On the right you can see the edge of the Huns' wagon-protected camp.  I added a couple of Roman buildings to help give period feel but otherwise the field is pretty empty. 

At the far end of the field the Roman left clashes with Gepids
whilst in the foreground Sangiban's Alans advance

Clashes all along the line as the Ostrogoths reach the crest of the ridge

Sangiban's horse (centre) charge the Huns (right) whilst backed
up by Roman auxilia (left)

Ostrogoths lap around the end of the ridge and threaten the Visigoths' right flank

Hun nobles charge Franks of Sangiban's command
(by this stage he's already lost the first unit of the game, a group of
Armorican spearmen)

Heavy fighting where the junction of the Alans and Romans coincides with
that between Gepids and Huns

Kings Theodoric and Sangiban (left) seem to take most seriously Atilla's description of their position 

The Ostrogoths continue to hold the ridge

And now their cavalry have crossed it leaving their bowmen to hold the crest

A unit of Gallic auxilia from Sangiban's command have crossed the far end of the ridge.
They look somewhat cut-off.

In the centre Sangiban makes good progress against the Huns but the Ostrogoths threaten to break the
right of the Roman line line

Confused fighting in he centre of the field

At the far end the Romans are finding it difficult to defeat the deep formations of Gepid warriors.
Roman casualties are mounting.

In the centre Sangiban has broken through to the Hunnic camp

The Visigoths (white unit tags) dispute control of the ridge but Ostrogoth cavalry (peach tags) are in their rear

Sangiban's red-uniformed Gallic auxilia have reached the Hunnic wagon laager and disordered
the defenders
At the far end of the table the Gepids (yellow tags)are almost at the Roman camp.
Either camp could fall any time now but the Romans are low on Victory Medals.

Gepid Cavalry vs Roman Lanciarii light infantry before the Roman camp!

The climax - somewhere on the Roman left a unit breaks and with the surrender of their last
Victory Medal the Roman army begins to disintegrate.  Atilla (Jamie) has reversed history!

The aftermath - Aetius (Gus) bemoans Leo and Arthur's ability to pull a 9 or 10
chit out of the cup whenever a save was needed.

Christmas Gaming Part 1

The Christmas period has seen a positive feast of games here at Stately Counterpane Manor.

On Friday Jamie and I had our first game of Lion Rampant Late Roman Style.  I'd lent my copy of Lion Rampant to Andy so we ended up playing a scenario from the Dragon Rampant rule book. I played the Bacaudae and had to get as many units as possible to the far end of the table.

Jamie's Roman forces were split between both side edges of the table and had to try and stop me.

On my right Jamie had a unit of legionaries backed up by Auxilia archers and skirmishers (below).

On my left I faced Alan cavalry and more Auxilia, this time with spears.

I had to deploy spread out along my baseline.  From left (top of the picture below) to right I had units of skirmishers, bacaudae horsemen, bacaudae infantry (two units, classed as auxiliaries), and the mercenary Sarmatian cataphracts.

In something of a first for our games of Lion Rampant, the first turn saw all of the units on both sides managing to activate. Jamie went first and moved all of his units towards mine.

My skirmishers caused a casualty to the Alans and I then threw my horsemen in to try and finish them off.  This proved to be a disaster.  Pretty soon I was down to just two figures in the mounted unit although I had killed two Alans.

On the opposite flank I threw the Sarmatians forward to take on the legionaries.

Again things didn't go well. Despite their heavy armour the Sarmatians came off second best in the melee and were forced to withdraw.  A storm of arrows from the auxiliary archers then reduced them to a single figure....

On the bonus side, though, I had managed to reduce the spear-armed auxiliaries on my left to "battered" status.  

This allowed my two main units of bacaudae auxiliaries to push through in the centre and make for the far end of the table.  With my skirmishers having dealt with the Alans, Jamie had nothing fast enough to catch those two units so the result would come down to whether I could also extricate either my skirmishers or the last of the horsemen.

Sadly I couldn't.  The Roman legionaries moved across to block their escape.

I was only able to get away the two units and we found that this gave us six points each and a well-enjoyed draw.  I like to think that my skirmishers would have melted into the countryside to rejoin the rebels at some future date.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Victory this Christmas will go To The Strongest!

Nothing much new here from me of late as my energies have been focussed on getting prepared for a couple of games over the Christmas-New Year period.  I thought I'd take advantage of a few quiet moments to let you know about the plan for game number one.

I'm running a game of To The Strongest on the 27th.  I plan to run a six-player refight of the Battle of Chalons (aka Catalaunian Fields) 451CE.  I say six-player but in fact I may have eight; youngsters Leo and Arthur will be jointly commanding the Ostrogoths and Kevin Tingle and son will run the Romans. 

I thought I had plenty of toys for the game but when I began sorting them out it became obvious that I'd need a few more to give everyone enough elements to make it interesting tactically.  I want to give each "player" at least two commands each with a minimum of four elements and preferably more.

The armies at Chalons are both multi-ethnic alliances.  The "Roman" side has:

Left Wing:
  • a Roman infantry command (with a camp),
  • a Roman cavalry command (also with a camp), and
  • a mixed infantry command of Franks and Armoricans
  • an Alan command - lance-armed nobled cavalry and horse archers, and
  • an infantry command of Roman auxilia (insurance against possible Alan unreliability)

Right Wing:
  • a Visigoth cavalry command, and
  • a Visigoth infantry command.
Atilla's Hun-led alliance has:

Right Wing:
  • a Gepid infantry command, and
  • a Gepid cavalry command
  • two cavalry commands both with nobles and horse-archers, and
  • a large camp protected by a waggon laager and manned by the women and children (Mobs in TTS! terms)
Left Wing:
  • an Ostrogoth infantry command, and
  • an Ostrogoth cavalry command.
The line ups should be interesting across the board.  The Romans on the left of their line are a strong force but they're up against the Gepids who have a central core off three deep blocks of Warriors.  These should be hard work to wear down.

The centre is largely a cavalry duel and the Huns have the advantage of both quality and quantity.  Aetius may need to divert support from the flanks to keep his Alan allies in with a change.

On the Roman-right-Hun-left there's a more even fight.  The Visigoths have more cavalry but the Ostrogoths have more infantry including a couple of units of Bowmen who can (albeit briefly) blacken the sky with their arrows.

I'm looking forward to this.  It'll be the biggest TTS game I've run so far.  I'm planning a pre-lunch bootcamp to learn the rules and then devoting the whole afternoon to the battle itself.  News as soon as we have a result!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bridge of Size

A few years ago I found an Airfix pontoon bridge going cheap so of course I grabbed it.  

I brought it out the other day to see if it might be useful for a forthcoming Andreivia game I'm planning.  I suspect it won't as it has a pretty enormous span but I was struck by the "Skill" marker on the front of the box.  It's apparently a Level 2 kit.  Seriously guys, Level 2?

Looking at the instruction sheet I see thirteen pieces.  All of which, from memory (I had one of these as a kid), clip together without needing any adhesive.

I'm really struggling to imagine what a Level 1 kit might look like.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Return to Kursk

Last weekend I put on another of my participation games at the local primary school's Christmas Fair.   Having done Wars of the Roses at the Summer event, I returned this time to the most successful format; a grand tank melee.

There are no action photos I'm afraid was I was far too busy running the game (and didn't have Jamie to assist me).  However, here's a shot of the battlefield before the fighting started.  The Soviets were to enter from the near end and exit from the far end.

By the way, this was the last outing for my old road sections in their current form.  They'll reappear at Christmas having been spruced up in line with my current figure-basing style.

I changed the rules this time.  A quick over view may be helpful.

I used a card driven activation system.  The game deck contained twelve red cards, twelve black cards and two Jokers.  All Soviet tanks would move or fire on the red cards, all German tanks would move or fire on the back cards. On a Joker any tank currently in the river would have to test to see if it bogged down.  If two Jokers came out together I planned to say that a randomly selected Ferdinand or Panther had broken down.  The important thing, though, was that once the cards were all used, the game was over.  This provided the Soviets with an incentive to keep move as they needed to exit the far end of the table to win.

Movement was by means Slow, Medium or Fast sticks (I used some sticks I created for Song of Blades and Heroes).  Place the stick in front of your tank and move to anywhere along the stick.  Crossing the river, other than via the bridge, required one card spent in the water.

Firing was by two 1d6 rolls - a To Hit roll using a table that cross-indexed range with target movement and a To Kill roll using another table that cross-indexed gun size (small, medium or big) with armour weight (light, medium or heavy).

Interestingly I had to do a new price sheet for the tanks this time as the old one got lost when an external hard drive failed.  I'm pretty sure that I made the top-end tanks cheaper to purchase (the Ferdinand coming down from £2.50 to £1.50).  Despite this the game made the same amount of money (a little over £30) for PFA funds.

I ran through the game twice with a single Soviet player winning the Order of Suvorov 2nd Class for exiting the table on each occasion.  Several Orders of Suvorov 3rd Class were awarded for getting across the river as were Iron Crosses for knocking out Soviet tanks.

In the end my voice was giving out from having to shout over the background noise.  A few players were keen to have another game and two of them, Rachel and Oscar, managed to play the game from my play-sheet without much help from me.  I call that a pretty good sign!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Battered Unit Markers

I've been away from posting here for too long.  Just other stuff getting in the way.

Anyhow, you may have noticed in the previous post a couple of casualties lurking among the Late Roman and Bacaudae units.  I'll use these to identify "battered units" in Lion Rampant.  They come from a pack of resin pieces by Curteys Miniatures.

Here are the rest:

The fancier shields are by Little Big Men Studio, from the sets designed for the Gripping Beast plastic Late Romans.