31 May 2016

"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today" - a Century on

Today is the centenary of the Battle of Jutland.  A hundred years on there still remains controversy and divided opinion on the battle and how it was it fought (and not fought).  On one hand the dashing and but potentially reckless Beatty..

On the other hand the staid and risk aware (or risk averse?) Admiral Jellicoe, who was the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon

Pretty sure I wrote 10,000 words on the subject once at Staff College...

Want to know more? Then go read these highly recommended and fascinating accounts of the naval race and the lead up and conduct of the largest fleet engagement of WW1.

19 May 2016

Jugula Campaign commences

Match time at the Arena!
Alan and I kicked off our Jugula campaign a week or two ago, pitting my Ludus Caeruleus (see here) against his Ludus Lupi Invicti.  We started with a double header match, both in illegal pit arenas but thats where a poor Lanista has to earn his stripes to get his fighters some experience and progress to contest bigger prizes.
The gladiators advance

Our first match was an interesting one as we really got into the rules - such a myriad of tactical choices with the card system.  Its hard to avoid analysis paralysis at times
Rux's Retiarius falls - first blood to my provocatur Barbus Magnificus
 With 6 choices for each card but only one card to play, we found that deep analysis and reaction means that the game can bog down in decision making
Barbus spins around and takes down Dux's Threax without missing a beat
I think we need to build in some kind of time limit to keep that issue at bay, because otherwise I think its a really rich system

Isolated, Dux's second last Gladiator is cornered...
...and nobly falls in combat!  Victory to me (which is very rare against Dux I might add)
Our second game was more balanced and Dux was more careful to avoid my being able to divide and conquer.

My Murillo Noctis was corned by a Crupilarius and Thraex - and only escaped through a lucky run of cards

The match became a bit of a slog but we learned a lot of about the nuances of the game
Vengeance for the first game - Barbus Magnificus falls (Dux's thumbs down sign!)
The second match as called on time and declared a draw with 3 wound equivalents apiece.

So our treasuries have grown a little larger and we look forward to the next matches!

06 May 2016

May the Fourth be with us!

Take that Imperial Scum!
What better way to celebrate Star Wars day this week then by running some introductory games of X-Wing with the Lads at Odin's Night Games Club.   2 of the guys had played before and 2 were newbies but all were new to the fantastic co-op campaign rules Heroes of the Arturi Cluster - by far my favourite way of playing this game (and thanks again to Miles for introducing MAGNET and I to it!)
Rookie Pilots = Rookie manoeuvring!
You've heard of Red, Gold, Green and Rogue Squadrons but these adventurous Rookies were determined to give to the Galactic Empire by forming Tartan Squadron (dibs on not painting their ships).  Sadly missing callsigns MAGNET and TEACHER for their first forays, the determined lads  climbed into their ships to strike a blow for freedom, harmony and Tusken land rights.

With appropriate thematic music blaring form my phone, the first mission was Rescue Rebel Operatives and together the lads managed to escort the triple HWK-290 off with just 2 hull points left.

With that win in hand, Tartan Squadron proceeded onto the Disable Sensor Net scenario where swarms of TIE fighters appeared from nowhere.  With lots of "Its a Trap!" echoing around the table, the dogfight was on.  Eventually, the sensors were all destroyed and the lads all jumped to hyperspace to go for well earned beverages.

The Biggs Darklighter memorial Commendation for best on ground went to Dave with his 6 (mostly stolen) kills for the night.  Well done Ace! He has now been allocated the callsign THIEF.

THIEF captures imagery and yet another (stolen) Victim!
Everyone had a good time = Win!
 No doubt you will hear more from Tartan Squadron in due course - like it or not!

03 May 2016

Victory Without Quarter: Rules Review

Yes its been a dearth of ECW goodness around here but I think we are getting back on track now.  This week Dux and I were treated to a fantastic game of 28mm ECW by Millsy and got to play with all his lovely models - lots of pics and Battle reports here, here and here.
The Royalist Centre - from the wonderful collection of Millsy (a staunch and worthy King's man)
The rules we used were Victory Without Quarter by Clarence Harrison of Quindia Studios
Available (legally) off the Internet for free here: Link
These are my thoughts, noting that this was the only time I have played them.

Bottom Line Up Front - these are a fun, easy to pickup set of rules which really captured the period flavour without an overloading stack of detail.

The key mechanism is randomised card driven system.  Each unit has a card randomly shuffled into the deck so you don't know what order they will come in.  Shuffled in are Artillery units (both sides fire together), Reload Cards (which allow Volley Fire) and a Turn End card which ensures that you never know if a unit will get to activate or not before the deck is reshuffled.  The end result is a tense randomisation that can be as frustrating as heck, but definitely gives you the feeling that you aren't fully in control (which of course was exactly the situation).

Units get 2 or 3 dice per element to fire, depending on what they are, with 5+ (on a d6) being the target roll.  If you get three hits you inflict a casualty and cause a morale check roll.  After 3 casualties the unit dissolves.  Melee uses a similar to hit roll but the unit which inflicts more casualties winds the combat and repels the enemy unit.

Available units are Foote, Commanded Shotte, Dragoons (which can dismount obviously), Horse (Gallopers, Trotters, Cuirassiers) and Artillery (which is immobile) - each unit is comprised of 3-4 elements.  Army and Brigade Commanders are modelled individually. Units are rated as Veteran, Trained and Raw, which gives them various modifiers in Combat and to their morale test.

Overall, the system works nicely without getting too bogged down in detail. You can feel the difference between the different units types but its not overpowering.  The real challenge is trying to run a battle with random unit activation and no guarantee of any specific unit getting a turn before the turn over card shows up.  It was really enjoyable and we were quickly fighting the battle, not messing about with the rules.

With a view to 6mm battles vice 28mm scared ones, we've been thinking about how that might work with 12+ Regiments per side and single base units. We think that Brigading the formations would be the obvious way forward.  Looking forward to giving that a try sooner rather than later!

We are hoping to try the same scenario with a few different sets of rules too, so we can compare them: these have been a good start, and also in the mix are Baccus' Polemos and the newly published Baroque Impetus.

Thanks for the great day out and taking us through the rules Millsy!

02 May 2016

The Defence of St Harlot's Wood

...as it is known by Royalist forces, also referred to as the Second Battle for Curmudgeon Moor by the forces of Parliament.  Both refer equally to a cracking day out with Dux at Chateau Millsy yesterday.

Observant members of the blogosphere may have noted the other chaps' more timely battle reports here and here.  What follows here is the one true account as reported to His Majesty.

Two loyal Regiments of Foote deployed in the key approaches to Strumpet's Way, a pivotal strategic point and the key Parliamentarian objective.  The Royalist General and a rag-tag reserve of Clubmen deployed to give this key position depth.
The fearsome Royalist centre
Royalist Commander Sir Hugh Notatall-Surly, Earl of Crapstone
A little gouty on the day and not as effective as his Parliamentarian counterpart 
The left flank was securely anchored on the stone walled Church of Our Lady of Negotiable Virtue (a lovely scratch build by Millsy) with a unit of Commanded Shotte (newly painted by Millsy, surely they were doomed to die quickly and to a man) and a Veteran Unit of Dashing Cavalier Gallopers.

The right flank was anchored on the impenetrable forest of St Harlot's Wood where a massive Culverin demonstrated His Majesty's resolve and might

The Forces of Parliament advanced, determined to force their passage before nightfall and the inevitable Royalist reinforcements.
The real reason its called Curmudgeon Moor...
Early success as the culverin took the Enemy Trotters under intense bombardment and routed them from the field!
While on the left the Commanded Shotte came under pressure by enemy Foote and dismounted Dragoons.  The Cavalry Commander undertook a daring move to relieve the pressure but under intense fire the Squadron broke and fled.  Their Commander was cashiered personally by Prince Rupert after the battle and sent home in disgrace (This was indeed a bold but silly gamble which dramatically failed to pay off...)

Things were looking poorly on the right too, as enemy Dragoons outflanked the line and threatened to take out the artillery.  Some timely intervention by the Royalist Commander (a rare feature of this game, the servants must have been refreshing the claret at this point) manoeuvred the Clubmen reserve into position where they showed remarkable fortitude, no doubt assisted by many flagons of ale.  Their continued resilience in the face of enemy shotte would prove critical to the outcome of the day and preventing the right from crumbling.
Just as it looked like the position was stabilising, misery struck! The understrength and raw Foote in the centre crumbled, fleeing the field and leaving just one loyal Regiment to try and last until sunset.  Could they hold one under such odds?
Under fire from enemy foot, commanded shot and charged by enemy trotter, things were looking grim for His Majesty's forces.
And then divine intervention showed God's true will.  The Culverin belched forth doom and death upon another squadron of Trotters, dispatching them from the field.
As the enemy tried to turn the flank, the darkness enveloped the field and the din of battle died away.  His Majesty's forces had prevented the feared breakthrough but at a fearful cost.  It was indeed a close run thing.

It must be noted that the newly raised unit of Commanded Shotte who so gallantly defended the Church were able to retire in good order with no casualties and having successfully delayed an entire unit of enemy Foote plus a unit of dismounted Dragoons.  Could this be the start of a new era were newly painted regiments don't die to a man in their first ballet? We shall see!
Best on Ground - Tots all round lads!
What a great day out - thanks Millsy for the fantastic hospitality and the chance to play with such splendid hobby goodness.  It was also fun to ooh and aaah in your hobby room and 'cupboard of shame'!