Sunday, 21 May 2017

Faustus Furius: 3000

There must be something in the water, as I have just seen another great Faustus Furius post! This time, Tim and family have been playing with jet bikes! It looks like they had a cracking race - even if some of the bikes had rather unfortunate turns of fortune. Do go have a read at Tim's Miniature Wargaming blog.

Faustus Furius at 'Dispatches from the Front'

Coming late to the party, I have just seen that Chris over at Dispatches from the Front has embarked on a 6mm Faustus Furius project. The rest of his blog is well worth a look too!

Well done that man!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Hail Caesar - Sojourn in Sicily, c.275 BC

This weekend we played the first game of Hail Caesar we have had in quite a while.  I took on the role of Pyrrhos, the 6mm king of Epeiros and hegemon of the Greeks of Italy and Sicily. My noble opponent, Jameel Barcar (JB for short), led the forces of Carthage. The prize of our contest - control of Sicily and bragging rights.

Above you can see the brave Epeirots, their subjects and allies lined up on the lower left of the picture, while the Punic forces and their mercenaries are aligned along the top and right. My orber of battle is spread-sheeted below, but suffice to say, from left to right I had a command of Oscan light infantry supported by my elephants, a central command of pikemen and hoplites, and a mobile strike command on the right led by Pyrrhos and consisting of all my cavalry supported by two small units of hillmen.

It should be noted that we give regular divisional commanders a command value of 9 to keep the game rolling,
and give all light infantry and mounted 'Feigned Flight', allowing them to disengage from melee opponents.

Opposite my Oscans were a horde of hairy Gauls, Punic citizen spearmen and Sacred Band were in the centre, supported by some chariots, while the massed Greek, Italian and Numidian cavalry (eight units in all!) faced my own cavalry.

Unfortunately for me, JB miscalculated points to models present and ended up a good 50 points shy of my total. That meant that should good ol' Pyrrhos get a win, it would be undermined by the inequality of the points! A minor issue, but a niggly one.

Above, Pyrrhos' mounted command on the left, verses the massed mercenary cavalry of Carthage on the right (skulking behind the hill). 

The opening turns saw a steady advance from my side of the table. Under Pyrrhos, the hillmen made for the trees and the cavalry approached the hills. The heavy infantry moved to within the range of their skirmish screen while the Oscans (mostly hayseeds with little or no Greek!) made a more haphazard advance.  

The Carthaginians also suffered a few command issues early on, especially with their Gallic command. These hairy giants had to navigate a field system in order to occupy the local town, while some of their brethren were hampered behind the Punic chariots.

And then the massed Carthaginian mounted command charged. Or, at least,  half of it did. Their four small units of Greek and Italian medium cavalry rested their hill and fell upon the Epeirot, Thessalian and Oscan cavalry of my right flank. My chaps counter charged (of course) but were still caught on the downhill slope. Happily, my plucky Tarantine light cavalry were also at hand to add their support to the opening clash.

It was over quickly. In the first charge, two of JB's cavalry units were routed while the other two fell back, pursued by Pyrrhos' finest. Not, though, pursued by Pyrrhos himself. He had a horse killed under him leading the initial charge and there was some confusion among the ranks as to whether he was actually killed or not. 

Of course, we all know Pyrrhos' lot was not to die gloriously in Sicily, but in a street brawl in Argos having suffered a roof tile in the head, so we ruled that he was not killed, just incapacitated. He reappeared, with a reduced command value at the end of my following turn.

Meanwhile, the two remaining units of Carthaginian medium cavalry melted away and the Numidian lights (who had ridden to their aid) just as quickly. Before any of the infantry got within bow shot of each other, the fight on the Pyrrhic right flank was over. It was a victory of Pyrrhos, and a Pyrrhic victory in every sense of the word. The king was dead (he got better) and the heavy and medium cavalry that rode with him was blown beyond further use. 

Over on my left flank, a unit of Oscans had advanced in open order towards the town. Seeing fresh meat (the townspeople already having suffered occupation for two turns or so), the garrison of Gauls decamped, double time, towards my probing force. The Oscans just managed to evade the charge but they had drawn forth some easy pickings. The following turn, two large units of Oscan light infantry surrounded and destroyed the Gauls, not without suffering a bad knock themselves though.

A second unit of Gauls then hurtled down from the hills on the flank of the battlefield and proceeded to murder their way through the already fragile Oscans, forcing the supporting Oscan unit to retire back towards the main Pyrrhic line.

In the centre of the battle, my slingers and Cretan archers had been plugging away with surprising accuracy at the Punic centre command. First the chariotry was forced to retire, and then some of the Punic citizen spearmen. However, having had enough of my shooting and aware that he had lost his left flank, JB decided to throw his chariots forward in an unsupported assault against my allied hoplites. It didn't end well for the chariots.

Pyrrhos, now having shown himself not to be dead, just badly wounded and on a less magnificent horse, had managed to summon his Tarantine light horse and Siciliote hillmen and was now encroaching on the left flank of the Punic centre command. 

JB threw forward his left most unit of citizen spearmen towards the Tarantines who evaded (over enthusiastically), thereby buying himself some time. 

On his right, he kept up the Gallic pressure on my Oscan light infantry, annihilating another unit before turning my left flank. Then crushing another unit of Oscans and badly bloodying the fourth.

The centre commands of both armies were still relatively unscathed, although the Cretans consistently scored hits with every shot, slowly whittling away are the Punic citizen cohesion.

The last unit of Oscan lights are overwhelmed. In a not uncommon scenario in ancient battles, the right hand flank of each army had now overwhelmed its foes opposite and the battle line started to shift in an anti-clockwise direction. 

The Gauls now turn their attention to the hoplites holding the left flank on my centre division. On the Pyrrhic right (and the right of the photo), wounded Pyrrhos brings back the evading Tarantines.

This then, was the pivotal moment of the battle. Pyrrhos had to crush the Punic centre, and do it immediately, before the Gauls on the Carthaginian right completely encircled the pikemen. Pyrrhos rolled to activate the Tarantines to pin down the left most unit of Punic heavy infantry. Double 6. A blunder. He rolls to see how his orders were interpreted, on to roll a third 6. The Tarantines, still overly enthusiastic, thrown themselves against the Punic spearmen!

Then, the Pyrrhic central command rolls to activate, the commander wanting to sound the general advance. Double 6. Another blunder. And how is it interpreted. Another 6. The Epeirot centre surges forward with an all out charge. Six rolls of 6 in a row. Quite amazing, and achieving everything I could have hoped.

In the ensuing combat, The Punic Sacred Band scatter and flee, while the Punic citizen spearmen facing my Tarantine pike are shattered. The remaining citizen spearmen are badly bloodied, but inflict six hits on my Tarantine light horse. The plucky light horsemen have a morale save of 6+, and yet still manage to save four of the six hits! Both units become shattered, but the melee is a draw and they managed to stick around. On the left hand side of my centre, the Gauls manage to destroy my allied hoplites. By this stage my pikeman can practically feel the fetid Gallic breath against the backs of their necks! 

Fortuitously, the Gauls manage to mess up their orders in the following turn and do not make it into the melee. Given space, the Tarantine pike scatter the opposing Punic spearmen and the Tarantine horse, though forced to retire, shatter the last unit of Punic citizens. In the process, I lose my second general of the game, but the result is worth it as the Carthaginian centre gives way and retires - and not a moment too soon!

It was a great game and a sound victory for Pyrrhos. Of course, JB's points calculations meant that we were not strictly matched on points, although it felt very even on the battlefield. What really on the game for me was the difficulties faced by the Gauls in receiving their orders over several turns, the splendid shooting my my Cretan archers, and the turn of 6s, where I rolled more 6s during the command phase, the melee and the following moral saves than I usually roll in a whole game.

After playing so many abstracted games of l'Art de la Guerre recently, Hail Caesar did feel noticeably 'grindy' in places. Never-the-less, it was great to get so many 6mm figures out on the table again and it certainly made for an enjoyable evening.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

PDEE - Critters join the cast.

It is some time since my post on bunny comparisons, but my Scotia Grendel rabbits arrived this week and have just been painted. Also for the viewing is a mongrel from Black Cat Bases. Snogg, the most comical and perpetually least impressive of my prehistoric hunting party is shown for scale.

From the beginning of this project I have been looking for a Dogmatix/Idefix style hound to accompany my hunting party. This wee mutt from Black Cat is the closest I have found to fit the bill. In honour of his exemplar, I think I'll call him Idd (Dogg being already taken by his more wolfish [distant] cousin).

 And on to the bunnies. These Scotia Grendel rabbits are pretty perfect for the look of my particular cavemen. Considering the huge cost, I was worried that they may well be far over-sized. Imagine my pleasant surprise then to see that they are, in fact, pretty tiny. Snogg on measures 20mm to the eye and these guys look pretty ok scale wise next to him. The sculpting is quite comic and there is a very minimalist approach to facial features. They may not be to everyone's tastes, but for me, perfect.

All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. 
And when they catch you, they will kill you. 
But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, 
Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, 
and your people will never be destroyed.
Richard Adams, Watership Down

Palaeo Diet - cover art sample

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Oh my! Galleys & Galleons from Small Ox Miniatures!

Gareth Nicholas is a fine digital 'sculptor' who creates his own amazing miniatures and has them 3D printed. He has a wee shop page on Shapeways - Small Ox Miniatures - where you can order prints of his designs. He has previously shown a few of his 15mm sculpts on the Song of Blades and Heroes FriendFace page and I've always been impressed by his work; it doesn't half help that he is an utterly splendid painter as well.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that he has just shown off his recent designs of 1/900 scale ships for Galleys & Galleons - three designs each (so far) for humans and elves. Try to look past the fantastic brush work and enjoy the great detail in those tiny wee ships.

I think they are really charming and well worth looking into if you are embarking on a new Galleys & Galleons journey, or if you already sail in 1/900 and want to pick up a few more vessels. You can find more close up shots of the vessels on Gareth's own blog HERE.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Galleys & Galleons at Ellis Tech Family Game Night

Every year, the Ellis Tech Simulation Club (Danielson Connecticut) sponsors a family game night to welcome non and casual gamers in and teach some games and generally encourage community interaction. Even though Tim is not an alumnus of either Ellis Tech or the sim club, he was invited to head down and run some games of Galleys & Galleons. Check out the full right up over at his blog HERE.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Dennis for dinner: a PDEE game

Mark in Pattaya has just sent me another game report - this time from playtesting the introductory scenario from Palaeo Diet: Eat or Be Eaten. All in all, I think Dennis let him off rather easily! 

So here we are in the Palaeolithic, courtesy of the Time Service, watching a party of spear-armed hunters (L-R Nigel, Bill, Reg, and Raquel) stalking a lone mammoth, who happens to be called Dennis.

The hunters are in luck, or possibly are good shikaris, they are downwind of Dennis so he won't be alerted by their smell. Not yet, anyway. The wind is blowing diagonally from L to R, from the red to the white dice on the table in the first photograph.

The hunters loped towards the small thickets, planning to use them as cover to get closer to the mammoth. All succeeded in rolling two activation dice except Bill who failed one dice. Luckily Dennis remained unresponsive to this (continued to peacefully graze). 

Raquel opened discussions by moving out of cover and hurling a spear, it missed, and Dennis moved away. Then Reg moved out to attack also, but his movement spooked the mammoth who moved off again, ending on the side of one of the hills. The hunters moved to try and stop Dennis getting away, no one wanted to spend another two days - or more - trailing him before a new opportunity to eat arose. Also there is the small matter of the cave lions whose territory starts somewhere near here. 

Nigel led the way now, loping up to the mammoth to try and stab it with a spear. Total failure - who knew mammoth hides were so tough. It turned and attacked him causing a wound. The other hunters moved up in support. Two of their activation dice were failures causing Dennis (the mammoth) to react with a hunter (Nigel ... confused yet?) within S distance. Luckily for Nigel, Dennis preferred to furiously Trumpet (minimal effect on the hunters) then Move Away. Dennis doesn't seem to be an especially bright mammoth, he has almost succeeded in cornering himself on the top of a sheer drop.
The hunters closed in warily but were unable to hit the mammoth. Last to try was Raquel. Dennis had had enough by this stage and attacked her, but failed to cause a wound.

Undeterred by several tons of mammoth trying to gore and trample her, Raquel attempted to stab Dennis, but failed, and luckily for her he moved away! Two more hunters moved up to try their luck (or skill), and finally Reg was able to inflict a wound. The hunters keep being forced to retreat though by Dennis's ferocious Trumpeting. 

But fortune favours the brave (unless the brave are outnumbered by cave lions). More spear attacks, all unsuccessful, eventually resulted in Dennis getting spooked by all these pesky hominids and making a run for it (fleeing) away from the closest one. Unfortunately, right over an escarpment.

So, shall we say 7.30 for 8.00pm, smart casual? Bring your own cutlery.

Cheers from the Pattaya tundra.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Mayhem in the Mediterranean - Galleys & Galleons with the HKSW

Over at the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers, Bertie has just posted another of his epic accounts of their latest game of Galleys & Galleons. It is well worth checking out, so please do head on over!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Palaeo Diet - So, tell me the basics... ?

Palaeo Diet: Eat or be Eaten (PDEE) is a table top hunting game set in a pre-historic world where our hunter-gatherer ancestors (and their hominid cousins) had to hunt and eat, or be hunted and eaten. The game seeks to model a time when humans are not yet in control of the world around them - a time when the landscape could just as easily give succour to a struggling tribe, as it could cripple a thriving people. 

The game is designed to be used for solo games or for (mostly) co-operative play with up to four players. Models are divided broadly into three categories: 

1) Hunters, armed hominids activated and controlled directly by players. Hunters may attempt up to three actions per turn, although if they attempt to do too much at once, they can get a bit stressed out and mess up. There are different equipment types and a range of optional traits that can be diced for to give each of your tribe members a back-story and personality.

2) Hounds, domesticated wolves or dogs under the limited control of players. A hound has to activate after its master and is often quite obedient. However, when it does fail activation rolls, a hound's instincts take over and it automatically conducts actions out of the player's control.

3) Beasts, non-player models that react to the actions of hunters (and hounds). Ranging from giant grazers and apex predators, down to fluffy little critters, beasts are never directly controlled. They react to various triggers and their actions are randomly determined against their stimulus. 

The hunting party should normally consist of between two and eight hunters in total, divided equally between the players. Any number of beasts may be placed on the table but, as a rule of thumb, the total bulk of the beasts (a determination of both their number of wounds and their food value as a carcass) should be equal to, or more than, the number of hunters. The introductory scenario, for example, sets four hunters against a single mammoth (bulk 4). 

Monday, 24 April 2017

The man who would be king

The grey beard led the tribe for many long suns, and many long darks. Now his body lies, half eaten, in the cave of the great bear. The tribe’s hunters prepare for a contest to show who can provide most for their people; who will be the next chieftain.

Set up the table with two equal herds of lesser grazers, no closer than 2x Long distance of any table edge. There should be at least one lesser grazer on the table for every hunter used. Place one apex predator in the very centre of the table. Hunters may be placed anywhere within 1x Short of any table edge.

A hunter who strikes the killing blow against the apex predator within eight turns will be proclaimed the new chief of the tribe. If the apex predator is still alive at the end of the eight turn, the chieftainship will fall to the hunter who struck the killing blow against the most grazers. This game is an individual challenge. While hunter’s may not actively attack other hunters, they may try all sorts of cunning ploys like driving fleeing or stampeding beasts into their friends, or stealing in to kill beasts already wounded by others.

Above you can see the setup for the hunt, with a stream running down a lightly wooded valley. There is a small herd of sheep/goats drinking by the stream, and a cave bear sitting in the centre of the table. The hunters had earlier dug a great pit on one side of the alley floor, far enough away from the stream that there was little chance of flooding. Fergg, Snogg and Dogg are visible at the top of the picture, while Ogg, Urgg and Bow* entered from the opposite table edge at the bottom of the picture. We rolled for random hunter traits with the following results:

  • Fergg the fire-bearer was a climber - not a great trait given the lack of cliffs in this hunt;
  • Snogg the Excited - Snog was required to always roll all three activation dice. Snog carried a spear and was accompanied by Dogg the hound;
  • Ogg the Shaman - potentially a splendid trait, being able to commune with beasts (at least that's what he tells the other hunters);
  • Urgg the Hungry - always tricky to handle as hungry hunters compulsively move towards wounded beasts;
  • Bow the Trapper - trappers can set snares to help catch critters, not a hugely useful trait in this hunt.

*I realise that there is no consistancy between posts regarding the spelling of names, but hey, it's prehistory. It's not like the names were ever intended to be written down...

The first turn saw Bow, Urgg and Ogg make a mess of their stealthy approach, scattering the herd on their side of the river. Snogg and Dogg were much more effective - Dogg was especially clever, sneaking up on one of the sheep/goat ready to attack on Snogg's command. Fergg attempted to get upwind of everyone, hoping to start a fire like the prehistoric pyromaniac he is.

In the following turn, Dogg took a bite of his sheep/goat, scaring it off towards Bow who was able to snap off a quick shot, bringing the beast down and scoring the first kill of the game. The scent of fresh blood almost drove Urgg to madness - he leapt the stream just to savour the smalls, but was able to suppress his more animal instincts and managed not to gorge himself then and there. The site of blood also drew the cave bear in towards the kill.

Urgg took advantage of the (somewhat illusory) protection of the river and hurled a well-aimed spear at the bear, prompting it to charge across the river in turn! One swipe, and Urgg was nursing a savage wound.

Meanwhile, that sneaky git, Fergg, took advantage of the scattering herd of grazers to wave his fire at one, causing it to flee straight to the bottom of the pit.

Back at the action-filled centre, Snogg managed to take down his first sheep/goat. The spouting plume of blood attracted the bear which left a very relieved looking Urgg to investigate. The kill tally now sat at one sheep/goat each for Bow, Fergg and Snogg.

Not wanting to be left out, Ogg and Urgg collected their wits and sprang upon a fourth sheep goat. Ogg struck a blow, but the sheep/goat then fled back, past the bear towards Snogg. 

Bow took a shot at the cave bear which roared in anger, causing Ogg and Urgg to flee in terror. The last two sheep/goats (one of them wounded) had by now sprung across the stream.

Snogg retreated to the cover of the tricky boggy ground by the river and hurled an optimistic spear at the bear, drawing the predator to him. One more swipe, one more wounded hunter. Snogg tried another optimistic attack and while his hit struck home, he was in turn dispatched for his trouble, sinking into a puddle of boggy, bloody mud.

Ogg, thinking that his shamanic personality would somehow help him against a bear, approached the beast. He stabbed at the predator and, once more, the bear attacked back, causing - you should already now the answer - a nasty wound.

Meanwhile (again), Fergg had managed to get behind the last two sheep/goats. He ambled up to them and, waving his fire, chased one of them into the pit, scoring his second kill for the game. The last sheep/goat fled off the table.

Bow, not wanting to be showed up by Fergg, shot at the cave bear, scoring a hit, but was then charged for his troubles. Happily for the archer, he escaped having his guts torn out.

Urgg tried to match Bow's skills, missed the predator and was forthwith predated. The bear had now killed two hunters and wounded a third.

At this juncture, the first critter of the game was flushed out of hiding by Bow. Ogg, well placed, was able to knock it on the head and claim his first kill - not that it put him in the running for chief at this point though.

As the eighth turn came around, Ogg started a desperate action to seize the chieftainship by bringing down the bear. It didn't work. The bear ran him down and pulled him apart - proving, once and for all, that if you disturb a bear in the woods, you should respect its privacy.

So at the end of the hunt, Fergg came out as the chosen chief having netted two sheep/goats to Bow's one. Nobody managed to kill the cave bear and, lets face it, with only two hunters left in the tribe, the people are going to face a grim future.