Saturday, November 29, 2014

DBMM game: Western Frankish vs Carolingian

Played a Dbmm game today to give Stephen a practice game for Munster competition in January (which sadly I have to miss for second year in a row).
The theme is Armies and Enemies of the Celts but has a broad range of possible armies from all four list books. Stephen is thinking if trying Carolingian and nearest I could field from the theme list was Western Frankish (a sort of a successor army).
He used Charlemagne so his Knights were Regulars. However he used a Croatian ally which is disallowed by theme restrictions but made no matter to me.
My Franks where of course Irregular with a Viking Sub General.
It has been a while since we played Dbmm and both now find we have an 'issue' with several things the most glaring being with the amount of manoeuvre that is possible which we find is way too much for Ancients  period when thought about logically/historically.
After deployment it feels like we are re-deploying every game with the ability to march large groups of 'units'.
It happened today as my Knights found themselves facing diddly squat and marched across table to opposite wing (aided of course by good Pip rolls despite being Inept Irregulars)
The Carolingian knights done similar to switch sides and attack my now weakened flank. Hard to think of too many historical accounts were this happens so regularly.
The standard two Light Horse marched past my open wing into the 'backfield'.
However despite this it turned into a really good game as it essentially became a race to crush opposite left wings.
I was aided by the Croatian ally being Unreliable and allowing me to try to gang up on them. I was however unable to break through the Croatians and accompanying Franks and found my own left wing crushed by the highly mobile Regular Knights.
Dbmm certainly has a lot of variety built in with weather, time of day, and suchlike compared to Field Of Glory but now on balance I think I prefer the unit based approach.
And despite our chatting about how we have gone look warm on what was very much our favoured Ancients set we had damn good fun actually playing !!

The photos do show a good 'look' to the 'battle'.

My center

My Knights start their trek across battlefield leaving a doomed rearguard

Their destination a hill in front of static Croatians

Overview of set-up (note Light Horse at bottom starting their 'outflank')

Knights arrive and begin to form for charge

 Carolingian Knights doing same on opposite flank

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sword & Spear playtest

Have been off couple of days with a very annoying eye infection which has eased a bit at last allowing me to get some figures on the table (ie as I can now actually see again !!). 
Decided to give recently acquired 'Sword & Spear' rules a solo outing to test systems.
I used Punic Romans against Celts as a match up.
Interesting dice based mechanism for activation of units.
Each unit fielded puts a dice into the 'bag' for each side.
Seven are then drawn from this bag and Initiative is decided by side that draws most dice.
These are then rolled to activate units which require a roll at or above their basic Discipline Rating (3 or 4 in my game) with Undrilled types needing two higher if wanting to do fancy moves.
Any dice coming up less are discarded, which may mean some units do not activate each turn.
If equal a unit can do several basic actions but if higher than rating then they can Charge, Maneuver and gain 'Impetus' dice in melee (these are very important).
A six adds distance or extra Impetus dice as can using two identical dice to activate a unit.
As reactive player you allocate your dice after the enemy but before their activation occurs allowing you to at least try to counter impending doom.
Marked units then take turns activating in dice order (low to high) with Initiative player winning ties.
Limited group moves are allowed using a Commander and a maximum of three units.
The limit on group moves and the dice activation system takes a while to get used to in relation to planning actions but has a nice decision process to it overall.
Units can only activate once per turn so one needs to appreciate that units that activate early in a turn can get into trouble later.
One or two twists such as deferring to use an Activation dice ie retaining it for use against potential charges later in turn but at cost of it not going back into bag at turn end.
The shooting and melee systems are easy to pick up being a simple roll off system.
In melee Impetus and other factors can add dice to attacker or defender depending on dice used or planned.
Players use top four rolls with any dice doubling another causing a hit and any being greater being a Discipline test, failure of which causes further hit.
Units Rout when their strength level is equalled with Heavy Foot having 4 strength Medium Foot and Cavalry 3 and Lights 2.
Armour can adjust dice rolls.
Several 'chrome' rules for Pilum type weapons, Spears, Shieldwalls, Impact (potentially deadly) types.
Several other special rules for Elephants and suchlike and several Strategms what ch I did not try.
Units within one DU (Distance Unit or 40mm) to side and move distance to rear take a Discipline test for Routers who are then removed from play.
The game plays quickly with good decisive results no recoils or long drawn out melees here.
Will take a bit of thought as to how to co-ordinate an attack and Commanders do not fight as such (but are at risk if with a unit in melee or shooting target) but exert a Command influence range outside which units count as Out Of Command and thereby one Discipline level lower.
Commanders can also Rally unit hits although units can self rally if not in contact and with high enough dice allocated with each rally recovering a hit.
Enjoying this playtest and hopefully can persuade Stephen to give them a whirl at some point.

This is the official 'blurb' for the rules (which are available as PDF or Print versions):

Sword & Spear is a set of wargames rules for large battles set in the Ancients & Medieval period. They are suitable for any scale figures and any basing standard. The only requirement is that figures are organised into units of equal frontage. A typical game consists of about 12 units on each side and games take around 2 – 3 hours. The rules are designed from a top-down perspective, focusing on outcomes rather than detail.
The rules feature a clever and innovative system for activating units that creates interesting and challenging decisions, keeps both players involved at all times and has a lot of depth and subtlety. Each turn is split into phases, where players each receive a number of command dice, which are rolled and then used to activate their units. The number shown on each dice determines which units it can activate (with better quality units being easier to activate), what the unit can do when activated, and the numbers also determine the activation sequence. Certain dice also give bonuses to combat, movement distance or shooting range. So there is a lot to think about, and allocating the command dice well is the key to success (although rolling lots of sixes helps as well !).
In each phase command dice are allocated, then units are activated in order. When a unit is activated it does everything – movement, shooting and melee combat. So there is no turn sequence to remember and work through. A unit cannot be activated more than once in a turn, and typically most, but not all, units can be activated in a turn (although this depends on the quality of the units involved, so a horde of poor quality troops will not have so many units activated each turn.)  
Each unit has a type (for example cavalry), a discipline rating (depending on the quality of the unit) and a strength rating. The strength depends on the unit type (for example cavalry are strength 3) and determines both the number of dice rolled in combat and the number of hits required to rout the unit. Many units will also have some specific weapons or characteristics such as Bows, Armoured, Spearmen or Impact, although an average level of protection and offensive ability is assumed, so for example, a unit of cavalry may simply be: Cavalry D4 S3.
The rules are relatively straightforward, and there are no “to hit” tables, charts or lists of dice roll modifiers. They can be played using only the one sided playsheet with very little reference to the rulebook after the first couple of games. In fact we find we hardly ever even refer to the playsheet now.
Missile shooting and melee combat use the same mechanics, with both units (all combat is one unit vs one unit) rolling a number of dice, lining the dice up highest to lowest and comparing. Each lost dice roll may result in a hit, which represents a combination of actual casualties, cohesion and morale loss. Hits can be rallied, but when the number of hits equals the strength of a unit it is removed as routed.
The number of dice rolled by each in combat is equal to the strength of the unit, and may be modified upwards if the unit has impetus, and also according to a very short list of situations which give a unit extra combat dice (for example being uphill or having extra friendly units in contact with the enemy).
There is not as much rock-paper-scissors in these rules as in many other ancients / medieval games, but it does appear in the mechanic for impetus. If a unit involved in a combat has a command dice allocated to it this phase, it may have impetus in the combat and will gain one (or sometimes more) extra dice. There is a list of situations where the unit does not get impetus (for example cavalry vs elephants, mounted vs spears). This creates differences in the way certain troop types interact together, and gives them strengths and weaknesses other than their two basic stats. This is probably the most difficult part of the rules to remember, but all of the situations should be intuitive to experienced ancients & medieval gamers.
Each army has a number of leaders, which are important as units do not perform as well if they are out of command range and perform better with a general attached.
The rules are very much suited to multiplayer games. Many of our playtest games have involved two players on each side, with each player having a command of around 7 – 10 units.
The strengths of the game are that it gives an exciting, interesting and challenging experience, plays relatively quickly for the size of battle that is being depicted, and the rules are straightforward to learn, whilst having the depth to retain interest after repeated play.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shifting Sands MMP played

Shifting Sands a card driven game by MMP played with my Dad last night. We played the full campaign.
Good game although it has a few wrinkles from other CDGs that we kept forgetting at times main one being that when in Limited Supply (ie most of the time) it costs 1 Op per unit to Activate for Combat but not for Movement.
We both spent OPs needlessly to move stacks for which 1 OP would have been sufficient.
This slowed my British onslaught against the hapless Italians in 1940/41 a good deal.
However we caught on later.
British could have won an auto victory by taking Tripoli but I decided to try the Torch landings which cost me the game as Germans got some lucky rolls in Tunisia and I could not get enough stuff close to Tunis to evict the 15th Panzer and supports from it.
Good fun game playable in an evening which is always a bonus.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tigers In The Mist GMT game played

Had first 'live' game of this interesting light game on the first week of the classic Bulge Offensive.
A fun little game with light rules overhead.
Only rule that required much re-reading was the targeting of specific unit types in a multi-unit battle as based on type, numbers thereof and a hierarchy of targets.
Fun game with Germans (guess who ? yep thats right mon pere) pushing on a broad front against my US forces.
He failed to achieve a decisive breakthrough anywhere but did advance steadily (more of a rectangle than a bulge).
We did not finish game, having to finish on 1st impulse of 19th December  turn (there being 3 impulses each per day turn).
But whilst US where holding on their left flank and centre the right flank (around Bastogne) was looking decidedly dodgy with a thin crust of weak units facing strong German units with fresh reserves arriving.
Longest route to Meuse crossings for Germans however.
Fun little game we must try again.
Only real downside is the rather small areas to hold the largish counters especially on 'start' lines, not so further 'inland'.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Field of

Played our 'in lieu of Warfare' Field Of Battle game. Four players involved (the Warfare 'team') and an excellent game it was too.
Stephen Pollock arrived reeking of garlic so seemed obvious choice as French Commander.
The rest of us drew lots (well poker chips) for sides and  Stephen Brittain was French sub-commander with John Brittain as Prussian Commander with yours truly as underling.
This worked out well as both Stevie B and I have good working knowledge of the rules whilst John has only played once and Mr P has never played the rules or Napoleonics before.
With the Brittain brothers facing each other and I vs Mr P this allowed the game to crack on a a decent rate.
I had set-up the scenario as per previous post only addition was I rolled for various units prior instead of keeping all types the same although not too many low or high rolls to change stats significantly in the end.
Brigades were assigned (fairly easy as both forces had six each)
Used the pre-battle Fate system of FOB2 which only yielded a small advantage to Prussians with Tactical Deployment (ie one Brigade was able rearrange its deployment after set-up).
Game started with a 'race' (such as it was in mud) to the central town which the French narrowly won (getting Initiative and required Move cards).
With Guard units in the Built Up areas it was going to be tough to dislodge the French.
I was on Prussian right and held back an Infantry Brigade initially on extreme flank in the town watching the scary Old Guard Cavalry Brigade deploy that direction.
I moved my second Infantry Brigade to support Johns and brought the Cuirassier Brigade to the right to support.
John Bs Infantry became heavily embroiled at village with his two Cavalry Brigades on our left.
Stevie B had some awesome shooting rolls (ie 12 on a D12) with one Artillery Battery (once we got into 12" visibility range) and a Light Infantry unit in the town which coupled with low defence rolls from John saw four (!!) Prussian units destroyed or routing in short order.
I then saw a Line unit Rout in similar fashion from more than a 'whiff of grapeshot'.
All this hurt for only a few paltry hits on enemy (Guard D8 defence) and our Morale Chips were whittling down rightly vindicating my decision to add 10 chips to starting levels.
Johns Dragoons on our left also suffered but he did manage to recover these and a couple of foot units from Routing status with the the mud saving them from routing directly off-table. On my flank things heated up as I took offensive throwing my Infantry forward supported by the Cuirassier.
I managed to get both Cuirassier in against a single Young Guard unit in line but only caused a fall back and then he recovered from becoming out of Command and pushed both units back in disorder (Out Of Command status).
I did get some success with volleys against both the vaunted Grenadiers A Cheval and the Chasseurs a Cheval routing them both and giving them hits.
But Mr P managed to recover them a couple of turns later. By this time a couple of lowly Prussian Landwehr units had Routed and our losses were such that we had expended all our Morale Chips (including an extra 4 we gained for holding French Objective).
This made recovery of units and hits a tad difficult and gave several Morale chips to the French.
Inevitably an Army Morale card came up for which John threw an equally inevitable 1 ending the game with a decisive French Victory............Schizen !!
The venerable and much lauded French Old Guard foot brigade spent a good deal of the game 'stuck in the mud' failing several move rolls (ie rolling 1) and barely saw action which was just as well as they were best Infantry units on table.
But that Artillery Battery more than made up for them earning I suspect a Legion D'Honneur or maybe a night out with Josephine............
All in all the scenario such as it was worked fine with the mud essentially increasing the table depth for movement and with the rain stopping and starting a couple of times which seemed plausible.
All players enjoyed the game (I hope anyway) and we found FOB to be excellent for such a multi-player game as a lot of its abstractions are subsumed in such a large game.
Possibly the only change we might considered is the very generous (ie there are none) unit Interpenetration rules although it may be a needles complication ?
We had 54 units on table ie virtually my whole Napoleonic collection and yet managed to play and complete the game in 7 hours which included at least an hour to set-up and start and another hour time out for lunch.
We then rounded of day with Chinese food although John had to go (being a new Daddy to Daisy Veronica he had a call to home) but was replaced by Richard Murphy.
All in all a great days gaming and something of a compensation for missing out on our annual jaunt.
Was great to have my wargame room filled with such action and good friends.

Not too many pics as I got so involved in the game :-)

Race begins for Town with Prussians so near and yet so far......................

Johns (Blucher) Infantry Brigade and two Cavalry Brigades face his brother

My Infantry Brigades with Cuirassier support (green cards are Morale 'Chips')

John moving Dragoon up in support of town assault with our 'Action' card deck on display

Mr P (Napoleon) has redeployed the Old Guard Cavalry from his centre to his left (much to the chagrin of his subordinate).
Note also Old Guard foot lagging behind in centre and that damnable French Foot Battery (on left of pic).

French have won the 'race' occupying the town in force...........damn.
The unpredictably of the Piquet/Field of Battle system allows such events and is one of its joys when playing.

Messers Stevie B and Mr P discuss tactics (is it me or does Mr P have a vague resemblance to 'Boney' ?)

Action developing on Prussian right

Some sod posted couple of pics of Warfare gaming area just to annoy me and if I see any from the trade area I will possibly cry !! :-)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Field Of Battle multi-player Napoleonic game planned (as compensation for missed visit to Warfare) for weekend

As none of usual suspects from my gaming circle are going to Warfare Show this year (boo hoo !!! first I have missed in several years) I decided to arrange an all day game in new Wargame room as compensation

Finally decided on game subject (after much debating with myself over period, scale, rules etc) and have set it up ready for Saturday

Went with Napoleon vs Blucher using Piquet Field Of Battle (as best for multi player in this case four players) set in late 1813.

Here is table – Prussian start on bottom edge and French on top (the blue and green markers show French and Prussian objectives respectively)
French objectives are both Villages and large hill. 
Prussians are Rough Hill and two Road Exits (top centre and left)
Objectives yield either Victory Points or Army Morale Level boost.

The French 

An Old Guard Brigade, 3 Young Guard Brigades, an Old Guard Cavalry Brigade and a Line Cavalry Brigade
Skilled General and Deck but below average Brigadiers
23 Units with 33 Army Morale Level (I boosted both sides by +10 to give longer game)

The Prussians

3 large mixed Brigades (with Line, Reserve, Landwehr, Jager and Landwehr Lt Cavalry), a Cuirassier Brigade, a Brigade of Dragoons and a Brigade with Hussars, Dragoons and Horse Artillery
Average General and Deck but with decent Brigadiers
31 units with Army Morale 43

Scenario special rules: 
Ground is muddy so all moves are at half rate (and I get to use my 'muddy' terrain sheet). 
The game starts with Rainy conditions, so visibility limited (12” ?) until each side turns the Special Event card in decks.
I have rolled up decks and Leaders but will probably keep units generic (ie all same type will have same stats)

Will leave the rolling for Fate (as I enjoy this aspect of rules) until game start.

We will likely just roll for who plays which side.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Monty's Gamble: Market Garden played

Had first game with this recently acquired game by MMP based on the Storm Over Arnhem/Breakout Normandy area style game.
Took a while to get some of the situation specific rules sorted but once we got going it turned out o be an exciting and fun game.
Allies have a lot of powerful units compared to Germans but their Victory Conditions are not easy with time, distance, and weather against them.
Arnhem seems very far from 30th Corps start zone at other end of map and one can easily see how it was 'A Bridge Too Far'.
I was Allies and failed to get into Arnhem before bulk of 9th SS and found 1st Airbourne surrounded on approach areas pretty quickly.
Eindhoven and 82nd Airbourne area of operations fell quickly though allowing Allies to put pressure on Nijmegen with 101st and advancing 30th Corps.
But failure to take Arnhem meant Germans had free rein to reinforce area between Rhine and the Waal.
I narrowly failed to evict defenders of Nijmegen twice.
Having two turns of Overcast Weather did not aid Allied cause as it ground air support and halves the supply for paratroopers.
German have a sort of thwarting mission (historical enough) as seldom have the strength to kill an Allied unit outright but they can certainly hold up Allied advance by contesting key areas and threatening the long supply lines.
Allied Tank units are most powerful in game but all Tank type units can only traverse areas via the road network so not always possible to get where needed most without a slog through defenders.
At end of basic game (4th turn) the Allies had only managed to accumulate 6 VPs so 4 shy of the required 10 for Allied win.
Enjoyable game leading to lots of quoting from film "Bridges its all a question of bridges..."
"And what of the Gerrrmens ?", "Slippery stiff fog...." , "I expect you intend to let us land somewhere !?"........................................