31 October 2017

The Centenary of the Battle of Beersheba

Today is the centennary of the Battle of Beersheba, fought in Syria during the Great War.  In this action the British Egypt Expeditionary Force, comprised on a range of British and Imperial troops (including Australians and New Zealanders) under the command of General Edmund Allenby advanced along a broad front in an engagement known as the Third Battle of Gaza.  As part of this multi-day action, the remnants of the Turkish Yildrim Army Group fell back upon the town of Beersheba.

The Turks were entrenched in the city, which was favoured by some excellent defensive terrain. The Allied Army isolated and encircled the city, but was engaged with other Turkish forces.  As the only available unit, the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade (comprising the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments) was ordered to take the city and eliminate the nascent threat to the Allied rear.

Having to close open ground (under artillery fire) quickly and with a requirement to finish the action prior to nightfall, the decision was made for the mounted infantry to attack, uncharacteristically, on horseback.  Issued neither sword or sabre for such a task, the Lighthorsemen unfixed their bayonets and used them instead. It was a high risk attack hastily undertaken against a larger defending force.
With speed and momentum, the Lighthorseman were able to advance under the Turk guns and carry the position, taking over 1000 prisoners.

This engagement opened a flanking manoeuvre around the Gazala line, enabling the broader offensive to capture Jerusalem some 6 weeks later.  It is a much celebrated action in Australian Military annals.


29 October 2017

Scenario and Campaign Update: Haresburg Held!

Ducks Defeated! Haresburg Held! In a very closely fought battle, the Mallardian raiders were thrown out of the Hopsland border city. The Defenders held their own and inflicted savage casualties on the Duck forces, though the latter did take substantial booty with them. Will this reversal of Duck fortunes be reflected across the frontier or is this just a local set back? Only time will tell...
In the quiet pre dawn at Haresburg...
Unwanted Guests on the doorstep
Dwarf Bezerkers lead the forlorn hope

And enter the killing ground at the gatehouse. Even those glorious red beards could not save them...
2 burned objectives later...

The Rabbit relief force rides forth!
Followed by the Duck extraction team

In the end the raiding force burned 2 of the 4 objectives but were wiped out on return.  Their relief force did make contact though and some made it off the table despite the heavy horse units trying o block heir escape. It came down to the wire, but the defenders where up by 1 VP at game end to claim a pyrrhic victory, but a Victory nonetheless!

Here is the scenario:

Hopping Mad at Haresburg

An escalating Dragon Rampant scenario for 4 players.

Situation: The Mallardian Spring Offensive has caught the enemy off guard, capturing much of the frontier zone.  The Army of the One True Duck is now encroaching upon the Hoplandian homeland and outlying towns.  But with supplies of fresh underwear and Oil of Uhlan dwindling, Prince Arr l’Orange is having trouble controlling his adventurous
Royal Army of the One True Duck.

Phase 1 
While the Army bypassed South of the walled town of Haresburg, a number of Troll Mercenaries in Duck employment decided to boost their pay with additional loot, and a number of the Army’s units joined them to destroy effigies of the false Rabbit God.  The Hoplandian garrison must now defend the town, while the Duck forces seek to loot (and burn, obviously - there must always be burning) four objectives around the town.

Phase 2
Meanwhile, Prince Arr l’Orange is furious at the unauthorised fun and decreed that anyone participating in the pillage should leave the town within the hour. However, his delivery of this order through interpretive dance was not well received so he personally leads a body of his horsemen to cease the mayhem and hang the ringleaders (and confiscate the loot, naturally).

Simultaneously, the Commander of the Rabbit army’s flank guard ses the smoke haze above the walled town and rides to investigate and destroy any raiders in the area.

Table setup
The table represents the approaches to, and parts of the walled town of Haresburg. The table to played lengthwise, split into two halves by a curtain wall. The southern approaches to the town should be cleared with scattered areas of light cover, crop fields and hedges but no major obstacles. Place a road leading to the curtain wall gatehouse.

The town wall runs East-West across the width of the table and has two access points to the city; the gatehouse, and a 6-8inch breached section of the wall (its been undermined by all those warrens). The gate is open (traitors…) and is clear terrain to move through, while the wall breach counts as
rough terrain (so both parties attack and defend on 5+ and with armour 2).Inside Haresburg there should be a number of buildings setup along street lines; moderately crowded but with enough space to manoeuvre units. Designate four objectives inside the town in separate and prominent buildings (Guild Hall, Church etc)

Forces– two initial and two relief forces. Each operates independently and has a warlord. Once one or more relief force arrives, player sequence is determined by random card draw.

Attackers: Royal Army of the One True Duck
Phase 1 - Duck Raiders. 36 points. To simulate their unexpected approach to the city, they can deploy up to 12 inches from the Haresburg city wall.

Phase 2 - Duck relief force. 24 points, all mounted forces (including warbeasts). Enter via Special Rule in the SE corner of the table

Defenders: Scions of the White Rabbit
Phase 1 - Rabbit Garrison Defenders. 24 points. One unit may start at the city wall. The remainder deploy on the northern edge inside Haresburg. May take up to one war machine (heavy missile with weighty projectiles)

Phase 2 - Rabbit relief force. 32 points, all mounted forces (including warbeasts). Enter via Special Rule on the SW corner of the table

This is a game of two halves with changing objectives and shifting initiative.

The initial Duck force is trying destroy the 4 objectives (see special rules on how to set an objective alight). The initial Rabbit force is to defend the town and prevent this.

The aim of the Rabbit relief force is to prevent more of the town being destroyed and stop the Ducks from escaping. The Duck relief force is to stop the unsanctioned attack and aid the escape of the remaining Duck forces.

Special Rules

Setting alight an Objective. A unit can capture objective but setting it alight through the following procedure (taken from Lion Rampant)
- A unit must start its activation in contact with the objective
- instead of move, attack etc, the activation is to “Fire the Building!” and is successful on a 8+ if above full strength and 9+ if below half strength . Commander rerolls do not apply
- If successful: the fire catches, cannot be extinguished and objective becomes impassable.
- If unsuccessful: the unit enjoyably spends its turn drinking wine, eating some cheese and catching some rays.
More than one unit can attempt to fire the same obstacle in a turn.

Stop the looting!
The Duck looters will cease if the Duck relief force can place one of its units into contact with one of the initial Duck raider units. The Prince’s cease and desist order will then be relayed and all Duck raiders can then begin to withdraw from the table.

Arrival of the Relief Forces
Once an objective has been set alight, each player rolls separately each turn to see if their relief force arrives. This occurs on 9+ on two dice for the first turn, 7+ the second, 4+ on the third and then automatically. Entry points are detailed in the Forces section.

To move onto the board, each unit must successfully make a move activation. This means that they cant charge directly into combat from off table. If a unit fails this activation test, it will automatically enter on the relief force’s next turn.

Victory Conditions
Score Glory as follows (plus any boasts)

Attackers (Royal Army of the One True Duck);
3 points per objective burned
3 points if the relief force manage to cease the destruction.
1 point per unit to escape.
2 points per enemy leader slain

Defenders (Scions of the White Rabbit);
2 points per objective unharmed.
3 points if they stop the Duck Force from leaving.
1 point per enemy unit destroyed.
2 points per enemy leader slain

Note: This scenario is factually based; during Henry VIII’s march to Therouanne in his 1513 campaign, Landsknechts in his pay attacked and looted the city of Ardres (which was paying Henry protection money) and were followed by some of the English in Henry's army. The Hapsburg Netherlands Garrison held out as best they could, until a furious Henry personally led a body of heavy cavalry to the city, hung the ringleaders and restored order.

Many thanks Stuart!

25 October 2017

Campaign Update: Mallardians Advance Strongly!

The Ducks flew home from their winter retreat early to take the Rabbits by surprise in their Spring Offensive. The fiercely contested Ticklecock bridge was eventually taken and a commanding position on Nutter's Knoll protects their southern flank. It wasn't all the Duck's way though and the heavily forested Scratchley Bottom is a no man's land filled with bones picked clean by Dragons. 

As the Mallardians advance toward the Hopslandian frontier town of Haresburg, the continuing action will no doubt be thick!

(Additional Dragon Rampant scenarios from the Spring Offensive will be published shortly)

22 October 2017

Hobby Catch-up

I've been getting a bit of painting done over the last few weeks and realise that I haven't posted it here at the blog.  A few highlights:

Fireforge resin markers - for use with a range in games as battered/shock etc.  I'm really thrilled with the way they have come out, and abandoned my sepia wash idea to keep them bright and striking.
As inspiration, I looked up the 14th Century German Manuscript Wappenrolle, which has a great record of shields and heraldry (thanks for the suggestion Alan).  All of my markers are reproductions of the designs seen there - even the chicken!

And to expand my Riders of Doom themed Army in Dragon Rampant, I have added the inspiringly named 'Green Regiment'. In the non-campaigning season these strapping lads are popular street entertainers renowned for interpretative dance performances including “The Eviseration of Bogfriar’s Abbey”, “Blood Party at Netherwallop” and the unforgettable “The Nightmare of Knacker’s Hole”

As the most attractive member of the troupe, the bearded Ginger is the Green Regiment's Commander (and choreographer)
 Plastic GW Chaos Marauder figures
"We need a bigger warbeast!"

20 October 2017

The Mother of Dragons - Dragon Rampant Scenario

As part of our Fowlwarren fantasy Campaign, I hunted down some Warhammer Skirmish scenarios and adapted them for Dragon Rampant - they have been quite a hit.  This one is a Dragon egg hunt.  I also modified it by tying the appearance of the Mother Dragon to the first nest getting robbed, so it added a real tension of "who would be first" and thus bring doom down upon them all - lots of fun!
In his later memoirs, Dwarf Commander Alanus Dux would consider that being first to
grab the eggs was one of the more foolhardy decisions of his military career...
Posted here for others to enjoy and I would love to hear any feedback you may have.
Here is the player handout:

Down and dirty at Scratchley Bottom

The region known as Scratchley Bottom is a renowned nesting area for…Dragons! 

Your General greatly desires adding a few flying lizards to his Army (who wouldn’t?), and has ordered you to collect as many of the fertilised eggs as possible.  Obviously the enemy will be trying to do the same.  Its is unlikely that the Mummy Dragon will be very generous with her offspring…

There are 6 nests on the table. Each nest contains a secret number of eggs: 3, 2, or 1 (written under the token)

To collect the eggs, a unit must finish a movement action on the nest. Secretly look at the number but do not reveal it to your opponent.  The eggs stay with that unit until they withdraw from the field.  If the carrying unit is routed or destroyed, the eggs are dropped in their last location.  Eggs can be transferred between units which are adjacent at the end of the carrying unit’s move.

The Dragon
.  Mother is currently out hunting but will be along soon. She is a Smaug level badass

Mother remains off table until the first nest is violated. At that time roll after each players’ turn – on a 6+ she will fly into the centre of the table.  

Mother will take a turn after each player finishes (I told you she was a Smaug level badass!)
As long as there are eggs left in the nests, she will stay within 18” of the centre of the board to defend them.  In doing so, she:
- will attack the closest unit in range.  ie Charge and attack if able to reach in one turn, or Flame breath attack on units within 12inches
- If two units are equidistant, she will be focus on units carrying eggs, if any.
- If there are no units within attack range, she will use her turn to move towards nests still containing eggs vice empty ones

Hint for Players – the Dragon is a big, scary beast (appropriately). Consider when it might be time to cut your losses and scarper with what you’ve got!

18 October 2017

Battles in the Land of Fowlwarren: our Fantasy Campaign

I've been too busy painting and playing to blog lately. Awesome :-)  Mostly we have been getting our Dragon Rampant on, and I wrote a number of new scenarios which I will share here.  But first let me introduce our fantasy campaign setting: the Land of Fowlwarren.  Note that our group lies firmly on the 'light hearted with whimsical tendencies' side of the wargaming spectrum, not uber competitive.  But we do love a narrative setting and linkage between games where possible.

Our campaign setting is based entirely on this cartoon which I came across last year:

..which I then used to develop the multiplayer Battle at Duffers' Drift, between the Scions of the White Rabbit and the Defenders of the One True Duck God.  Ultimately inconclusive in its results (other than the associated fun, laughs and adult beverage consumption), it formed the basis of this year's Spring Campaign...

In the aftermath of last year’s battle royale at Duffer’s Drift, 
the opposing armies retired to lick their wounds and plot their revenge. 
Now the snows have melted, the crops are planted and there 
is plenty of fighting time before the harvest. 
‘Tis time to put down the plow and take up the sword – have at you!

To the East The Scions of the White Rabbit, under the command of Duke Fare d’enough, are the pride of the Empire of Hopsland.   Opposing them in the West are the Empire of Mallardia and their quasi-religious Army of the One True Duck, commanded by Prince Arr l’Orange.  They (mostly) battle in the disputed territories between them, split by the River Piddle (a raging torrent at this stage of the evening).

While skirmishes can and do develop throughout the region, principal clashes  erupt in the forested basin of Scratchley Bottom, the strategically pivotal Ticklecock Bridge and the commanding terrain of Knutter's Knoll in the south.
Thanks to Aled at the club for developing this excellent campaign map!
Its not exactly Tolkien, but it is a bit of fun and we will build on it as we go. 
More to follow...

08 October 2017

Extra Large Rocky Hill

Last week I bought the GF9 Extra Large Rocky hill.  Like all the Battlefield in a Box series pieces, you can use it right out of the box, or you can put a little bit of extra work in and get some great results.  This is how I did mine:

First a light grey dry brush
 followed by a very light white highlight

A few touchups on the stones and the surrounding dirt and then the addition of flock, but not too much (its is a rocky hill after all!)

Then to add more colour I then went with some autumn coloured clump foliage.  At first I wasn't convinced but when going with something different I think its a case of being bold.  In the end, with some light and dark green added in to break it up, it came out rather well.

And it was in use only a few days after purchase for some "King of the Hill" type scenarios in Dragon Rampant.
A nice focal point for action in the centre of the battlefield

03 October 2017

Rivers and a Bridge

Water obstacles - they can have a huge impact on any game but I rarely use them.  Firstly, because they are bulky to take to the club nights at the pub; and secondly because I didn't have a good one anyway.  20 years ago I knocked up a quick river system with some plaster and foam on cardboard.  Looked pretty good for the game the following weekend but it was always going to warp and fall apart quickly.  Naturally, 20 years later its still giving loyal service and way overdue for replacement...
Squadron Leader Topper Redfern is captured by a Kriegsmarne squad in a recent game of 5 Men at Kursk 
Earlier this year at CanCon I finally put down money on the GF9 Battlefield in a Box - one of each of the four boxes in the set (see here).  A couple of months ago I bought the Warlord's stone bridge set during their sprue sale.  This week I thought it was time to get them together.

The Bridge was undercoated with Uniform Grey spray and dry brushed with 3 different layers of light greys, a little bit of brown, a touch of green in places for moss and then I added some streaking to indicate wear and use.

Pretty happy overall. Time to get some GF9 ponds to complement them.