Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thormoppparokay: The Charge of the Moose Brigade

General Xerxes brings up the guns.
Into the valley of death ride the 4.
As night falls the 18 have been reduced to 11.

This post follows on from Thormopparokay: The First Assault.

With the first Imperial attack repulsed, General Xerxes scrambled to bring up his guns. Even the mighty Trolka would be hard put to withstand a hail of cannister.

This would have been an ideal time for me to launch a counter attack with the Mooseketeers. I must have been asleep!

In any event the first volley of cannonfire suffered from very poor dice rolling with no real harm done.

The fighting in the north flared up again as the Coltzen foot came into line.

Waking suddenly I unleashed the fury of the Northmoose!

The werewolf gunners had been prolonging their piece and were unable to get off a shot before the the Antlers of Doom had descended upon them.

In the north the werewolves were giving as good as they got.

After the Mooseketeers went in there ensued a spirited series of charge and counter charge as the Coltzen centaurs came to the aid of their gunners.

When the dust settled, two centaurs were dead. 

 A third centaur and two werewolf gunners were hustled off to the rear as prisoners. It was at this point that I realized I should have sent the RN gunners forward with the Mooseketeers in order to haul off the gun! 

Better late than never.

After the initial clash the reserve squadron of Mooseketeers engaged the reserve squadron of centaurs. Two trolka versus three centaurs were good odds for the trolka.

Elsewhere things took an ugly turn. The Finkelstein Field Force artillery annihilated the Slaeggan 2nd Line battalion.

After that triumph of black powder over troll flesh, the gun withdrew into the square of the remaining Finkelstein infantry battalion.

Worse yet the werewolves brought down a troll and the Slaeggan 1st Light battalion was compelled to withdraw from the action.

Oblivious of the disasters on the north flank, the 2nd Squadron, The Mooseketeer Regiment, looked forward to an easy victory over the centaurs. 

They were disappointed. The centaurs managed to pull of a win and capture one of the wounded trolls!

With the centaurs currently off reforming after the hectic melees, the 1st Squadron, The Mooseketeer Regiment, returned for a charge against the dwarven square.

Smoke belched from the mouth of the gun. The result only wounded one troll and the charge went in.

The plucky dwarvers saw off the Mooseketeers with the loss of a single dwarf!

The centaurs rallied and handed off their prisoner to the Guinaleans.

Meanwhile, not pictured, the victorious werewolf battalion advanced against the Royal Slaegga Regiment of Guards. The Guards let off a volley of Kannonderbus fire and the surviving werewolves withdrew, tails between their legs. 

With the return of the centaur lancers to the scene of action, further charges by the Mooseketeers were deemed unwise.

At least the centaurs were not able to prevent the RN detachment from hauling off the captured gun.

With darkness settling over the valley I decided to call it a (game) day.

The Imperial army was reduced to three battle worthy infantry battalions, one from each contingent, two guns, and centaur lancers.

The Slaaggan force consisted of the Guards, the battered 2nd Light battalion, the 1st squadron of the Mouseketeers and the naval detachment gunners with their prize.

So who had won the day? 

I am sure both sides will claim victory as the conditions were not very clear. You see the scenario called for the defender to hold out until nightfall. With no information given on the length of daylight, number of turns, etc. the definition of nightfall is up to the player. The game did last some 30 turns though so it was a good long time in practice if not in scale.

Concerning Trolka and Charge!
The rules used, "Charge! or How to Play Wargames" were written long before the advent of fantasy miniatures and it was my choice to add the fantasy element. To this end I used the stats in "Slautherloo" as a starting point.

Using units of 20 foot for everything but trolls and 3 for trolls also provided some guidance.

A troll needed to about equal 6 other figures generally speaking. 

I could have said, "trolls take six hits to kill" and been done with it, and perhaps I should have.

Instead I went with a series of changes:

1. Saving throws. "Charge!" does not use these. I added a save on 1 or 2 for most creatures and 1,2, or 3 for trolls.
2. Hits on troll units were halved as if they were light infantry in game terms.
3. Trolls took two hits to remove. Two is an easy number to keep track of! At token by the troll means he is wounded. If he takes another wound he is out of the game.

Trolka light units were armed with large muskets. I treated these each as gun that fired only out to half the range of a field gun and could only fire ball.

Trolka line units were armed with Kannonderbusses. These fired out ot half the canister range of regular guns but could only fire canister.

Finally in melee each creature used the melee stat from "Slautherloo" as its base value. 

This all worked well in practice making the trolka units very tough but surprisingly brittle. The range advantage of the light Trolka worked well until the enemy got in close. At that point I should have had them charge their foes but for some reason I never did. The Trolka line were very tough opponents lacking the range of the line but able to lay down firepower that would equal or exceed that of a regular line battalion.

Concerning "Charge! or How To Play Wargames".

Young and Lawford wrote a fairly simple set of rules that captures the essence of horse and musket warfare quite well. The rules are very casualty intensive and two battalions facing off against one another in a fire fight will usually tear each other to shreds in a couple of turns.

This means that having reserves available to support an attack or defense is essential. An army deployed in a single line will soon be riddled with holes.

While one can question the technicalities of time versus losses, range versus frontages, and etc. the basics of horse and musket warfare apply. Combat is attritional and the commander who can feed in fresh troops at the right time will likely carry the day.

It would be an interesting exercise to take two equal armies and deploy one in a single line and the other in double line and see what happens. 

Unfortunately I have other projects that need attending to now.

If any of you readers give it a go please let me know how it turned out.

Well that is all for now so as always thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thormopparokay: The First Assault

The Finklestein Field Force Flexes its Muscle
The 18 Suffer Their First Losses

The Imperial Army
This post follows on from Thormopparokay: Midmorning.

Valley of the 18
 Following the loss of my guns and the withdrawal of my skirmishers a bit of a lull ensued. General Xerxes maneuvered his forces for a blow on my right, the northern, flank. 

Lead Dwarven Line advances.
 The lead element of the Imperial assault consisted of the three infantry battalions of the Finklestein Field Force.  Their Brigadier deployed them two up in line with the third in column as a central reserve.

Duke Dynydisson bolsters his line.
 In response Lars Dynydisson brought forward the Royal Slaegga Regiment of Guards to support the two Trolka units facing the Dwarven threat.

"Follow me mes' Boyos! Do you want to leeve foreever?"
 Meanwhile on the southern flank, the Guinalean Contingent stepped up the pressure.

"Prepare to receive Dwarves!"
 The stage was set for an epic clash between Troll and Dwarf.

Advancing to "The Bier I left Behind Me"
 The Dwarves advanced as if on parade ground. No one with any sense of martial spirit could fail but to admire their good order and discipline.

"Step lively there lads"
 Even as th Imperials kept moving reserves to the front first reports of skirmish fire broke out to the south.

Wolfe Toon is no stranger to danger!
 Then as if the skirmishing had reached a crescendo, furious volleys of musketry and Kanonderbus fire ensued.

  When the smoke cleared, Dwarves were strewn about like nine pins. Both leading Finklestein battalions were incapable of further action. But it was not all one sided.
The Butcher's Bill

The 18 became 17, as one brave Troll breathed his last. A second Troll was wounded in the northern most battalion.
"Ge dem helvete pojkar!"
 Even in the secondary south, the 17 became 16, as another mighty Troll fell. Here again the Trolka had given as good as they got and the Guinalean Irregulars were finished as a fighting force.

The Imperials prepare to keep up the pressure.
In one turn two Dwarven Line, and the Guinalean Irregulars had reached their breaking point.
On the other side, two Trolka battalions are now at two thirds strength and will only have to lose one more figure to rout, while a third Trolka unit has a hit on it. Worse yet the two battalions that suffered losses are at half firepower now.

Lars Dynydisson assures me that every lost Troll must be avenged ten fold.

We shall see.

As a reminder all of the figures are from Alternative Armies. All but the Guinaleans were painted by their fantastic studio painters. The Guinalean line were repainted by the author  to better match my concept of the unit. The Guinalean Irregulars, all of the flags shown,  and the converted Wolfe Toon, are also the author's  work.

The terrain is a mixture of mostly "The Terrain Guy" products with some Warzone GTS, and Lemax bits.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Question and Answer Time

Conrad Kinch is fine fellow who writes the Joy and Forgetfulness blog.  I really enjoy reading his blog. It's chock full of wit, Napoleonics, Kursk, and kittens at the moment. I luve kittens me, mind you having become allergic to them in my thirties its all sort of theoretical rather than practical now. But I digress.

 It seems the Liebsters are making the rounds again and Mister Kinch was kind enough to nominate me.  By the rules of the thing I am ineligible but I so enjoyed reading Conrad's answers to the questions he was posed, I thought it would be churlish to not reply in kind.

So here now are the question followed by answers. Revolutionary innit? This paradigm shift may change the world as we know it.

1. You have a particular style of wargaming, how did you fix on it and why does it appeal to you? 

OOh stumped at One! It just sort of happened. I have always enjoyed miniatures and like to use them as a tool to try and understand why certain things turned out the way they did. Oddly enough that led to separating the superficial aspects of uniforms and such and concentrating on processes and motivations. It's all very pretentious when written out like that but put another way, by setting games in an alternate reality I can introduce over the top personalities and events just for fun while experimenting in the lab so to speak.

2. A lot of blogs tend to peter out after a dozen posts or so.  Your endurance stands out. What has kept you in the game? 

Simples! If I stopped using my toys my lovely lady wife might want the spare bedroom back : ) Seriously though, taking the time to photograph and write about games has helped me keep some focus and motivation although even so burnout occurs from time to time.

3. Time and money no object. What is your dream wargames project?

Colonial gaming with those lovely 54mm painted metal figures. The spectacle of the thing would be simply splendid.

4. What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?

Generally speaking I slog through two books at a time. One fiction, one non-fiction. The last finished was City of Strife by William King. Mister King first came to my attention as the author of the original Gotrek and Felix stories published by Games Workshop when they first started their literary venture. City of Strife is a non-GW series of books about, well, Kormak, a knight of a holy order who is tasked with hunting down demons and deviant spell casters. It's written very much in the Conan vein although with more of a Medieval than pre-historic setting. It's the fifth book in the series and I very much enjoyed the previous entries.

5. Smoker or non smoker?

Used to enjoy the odd cigar before my circumstances changed. Never cared for cigarettes. Can stil remember the wonderful aroma of my Grand Father's pipe when feeling a bit melancholy.

6. Our shared hobby is full of some pretty odd characters. Whose the strangest chap you've ever come across through wargaming?

You know I can't really think of any to single out.  I've always been something of a strange magnet, and my wife assures me that even a trip to the grocery store will result in odd encounters if I am along for the ride. The man yelling into his cell phone about the frozen chicken was well beyond any wargamer I've encountered.  "Strange" is a continuum or something like that. Perhaps its me?

7. Figure painting. Pleasure or chore?

CHORE. I like to think I'm rather good at it but unless its a special character I would much rather have someone else do it.

8. What is your preferred tipple?

Well I do enjoy gin and tonic when its hot out. Wards off he malaria you know.

9. Do you have a prefered ruleset or did you write your own? How did you settle on it?

I've always been a western history buff, that is the American West. Naturally this is also one focus of my gaming although admittedly not one that has often appeared on this blog. When I got back into the post baby hobby scene in the 90's I stumbled on Piquet which I used to play all the time. These days it is my favorite unplayed game. Don't' know why.

Then having read about a set called "Six Gun Sound" on the Colonial Wars Yahoogroup, I took a chance and placed an order. Correspondence with the the author, Ed Teixeira, led to a long standing friendship and co-authoring. So at this point I mostly write rules that present the kind of game I like to play.

I would be remiss not to mention the various rules written by Gavin Syme of Alternative Armies. These rules include the current incarnations of Flintloque as well as the superb Erin, the last being a game of skirmishes in mythological Ireland. Splendid stuff both in terms of mechanics and dedication to background and theme. do I settle on them? I like to read rules to see how others approach a given topic. These days I really don't read as many as I used to. There are a lot of recycled ideas out there and the increasing cost of rule books in general has put me off speculative buying.

So first comes the research. What makes a given period unique? What did commanders of that period and at that level of command have to think about? Sometimes you get lucky and find someone that shares your views has already written a set of rules that focuses on what you want the focus on. Otherwise its off to write some new rules.

For example when reading about battalion, brigade, and even division commanders in the Napoleonic Wars I found several references to commanders fretting over the skirmishers. Too few and your line is subject to harassment. Too many and your line becomes too thin. Worse yet once you send them out you may never get them back. The skirmish line takes on a life of its own so to speak. Never having found any game that handled skirmishers in a way that felt right to me was one of the reasons Muskets and Shakos was written.

And of course one can always dig out Featherstone and enjoy a good think and a good game! An author encouraging gamers to write their own rules?  Extraordinary!

10. Would you say you are a club wargamer or a loose association of friends sort of operation?

Definitely a loose association type. Mind you adulthood has taken quite a toll as friends move, have kids, and all the usual things that break up such groups.

Back in the 80's I found a copy of Table Top Games' Pony Wars, being a game of movie themed combat in the old west. The great thing about this game is that all of the players take the part of US Army officers and the game system handles all of the hostiles and non-combatants.

This sort of co-operative/solo game approach is one that has stuck with me and I try to incorporate this element into all of my designs. I have much more fun playing with my friends than against them.

Sadly my current semi-regular opponent, my eleven year old, does not share that view : )

11. Are you "out" at work - would your non wargaming friends know about your hobby?

The only work I have been doing lately is sporadically writing wargames rules so that's a bit on the nose. The pay isn't great but you can't beat the working conditions :)

However even back when I was going to school and worked part time in a men's wear store, I did mange to get a fairly active campaign of gladiatorial combat  going using Yaquinto's Man, Myth, and Magic. After school while working at IBM I would often bring figures to work to show my pals. Most never realized how interesting history actually is, which I put down to a failure of our educational system. What could be more interesting than history? Almost every fictional story has some basis in fact and history is full of well over the top characters.

A bit paradoxical given my love of fantasy and sci-fi but that's my story and I;m sticking to it!

If you have made it this far, thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thormopparokay: Midmorning

The Assault Commenced at Dawn

This post follows on from Thormopparokay: The Attackers.

A seemingly endless column of Imperial troops entered the pass from the west.

The Guinalean Contingent occupied the southern slopes and commenced skirmishing with the Naval Detachment.

While the combined Imperial artillery took up position on the knoll in the center of the pass,

The Marines and Bluejackets took up position in the wood.

The Naval artillery took the Guinaleans and guns under fire. This was a rather unequal exchange with three Imperial guns to my two. I hadn't expected to come out on top but was a bit put off when one of my guns was dismounted early on!

Meanwhile the Finklestein Field Force advanced along the northern slope, attracting attention from my remaining gun.

The Coltzen Legion brought up the Imperial rear and, as it happens, are still marching on to the table.

So far losses have been two to one in my favor, but this edge was well blunted when my second gun was dismounted. I had hoped to wear down the attackers with gun fire and this will not now be the case.

With the loss of both guns my forward defence line is now redundant and I intend to withdraw the Marines from the wood and try to shift them over to support the trolls against the dwarven assault. The Mooseketeers will have to keep the Guinalens at bay for now.

It is my belief that I can defeat the Guinalean Contingent and the Finklestein Field Force. However will that leave enough troops to deal with the Coltzen Legion?

By the way in case it wasn't mentioned in previous posts the rules being used are "Charge! or How to Play Wargames" modified for the use of fantasy races. This was done by taking the troop statistics from "Slaughterloo" and reinterpreting them to provide, movement, melee, and a saving throw stats for "Charge!".

That's all for now. Thanks for stopping by!