Friday, 31 August 2012


We're doing well at the Gong Garage Gamers this month - in four weeks we have tried three new (to us) games: Saga, Aeronef and, last night, Maurice.

Maurice is a set of rules for 18th century battles, with the action being driven by a special card-deck. We'd all read the rules (either the full set, or the 'lite' version) and liked the possibilities, and had been talking about playing it for months. Last night we finally got around to it.

There were five of us at the start - Caesar was happy to umpire, with Dave and I on one side and new members Ralph and Tim on the other (Ralph joined us for the evening specifically because we were playing Maurice). Unfortunately an emergency at home meant that Dave had to leave during the first turn, so Caesar replaced him.

Our game was potentially hampered by the fact that none of us has any suitable 18th century armies . However we found proxies, which make for the interesting photos you're about to see ...

Caesar had rebased his 28mm Napoleonic Austrians, so that gave us one army. He had some blank bases for the other army, which we populated with the plastic figures from a Risk set. Well, the uniforms are suitable, even if there was something of a difference in scale.

And so it was that the might of Austria faced the miniature threat of the Army of Risk.

We played with basic armies - no troop quality and each force consisting of six infantry units, three cavalry and three artillery.

A long-shot of the table, showing Dave's brief appearance, and the armies all set up. We used minimal terrain, partially because it kept the game simpler and partially because I was supposed to bring some and forgot:

The Austrians, showing what wargames figures should look like:

The Army Of Risk, showing what happens when you have to improvise:

As you can see, Ralph and Tim decided to start their infantry in columns, hoping to make use of their extra mobility early on.

The Austrians started things off by charging the massed Army Of Risk (Riskovian?) artillery. This was a bad move.

Despite their diminutive stature, the Riskovian gunners did a good job, and eliminated the Austrian cavalry. But we got to see how the Bombard order worked, and saw a Volley Phase in action. It was a useful learning experience:

Riskovian infantry from the Blue Regiment. Now pay attention - these soldiers are small, but those Austrians are far-away. Small ... Far-Away ...

The Austrian master-plan. We rapidly advanced half our infantry across the table, and caught the Riskovians in their columns. This worked mostly because none of us realised how difficult it was for infantry to change formation - especially Ralph and Tim:

After a volley, which could have been more effective, the Austrians charged, and did good work with the bayonet:

The rest of the Austrian infantry, and their artillery, watched from the other side of the battlefield. In fact they stayed there for the whole game:

The Austrians had lost a unit, but the three Riskovian units they attacked were gone. The Austrians turned one regiment to take on he artillery grand-battery, whilst the other was sent to hold off the three remaining Riskovian infantry units:

At that point we drew a card which enabled us to activate a group of units anywhere on the table. This allowed us to suddenly switch the focus of the battle away from the infantry duel in the centre to where the opposing cavalry units were on the Austrian left. The Austrian cavalry charged, and with a card that gave them a great big bonus in play swept away a Riskovian unit. The Riskovian morale was looking shaky, and the Austrians were poised for a second charge on the Blue Regiment:

Back to the centre, though, where the volley phases were seeing casualties mount on both sides. The Austrians had, in fact, lost another unit, but the Riskovian Yellow Regiment was looking very shaky. One more volley finished it off, and broke the Riskovian army's morale:

The game was a great learning experience, and we enjoyed the way it forced you to manage both your cards and the tempo of the battle (the more active you are, the fewer replacement cards you get - every so often you have to take a breather). The decision to start the Riskovians in column helped us a lot, but a key part of the Austrian victory was the card allowing us to suddenly switch the focus of the battle to the cavalry flank. At that point the Riskovians only had one card left in their hand, and it wasn't good enough to allow their general to activate units there in response. Careful timing effectively gave us a free turn to beat up the Riskovian's army morale.

We're all looking forward to trying another game, maybe with proper figures on both sides next time.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

'Things To Come'

Karl Heinz Ranitzsch posted this on the HOTT Yahoo Group nearly 12 years ago. It appeared on The Stronghold in due course, but hasn't been seen since. Until now ...


As a boy, I often read my grandfather's 1930's Meccano Magazines, and was fascinated by a review of the 1936 Science Fiction film 'Things to Come', with screen play by H.G.Wells. I recently got hold of a video copy of the film, and was, indeed, impressed.

The story, in short:
On Christmas day, 1940, war breaks out in Europe. The very English city of "Everytown" is subject to a surprise gas bombing by enemy bombers. War lasts for decades. By the 1960's, Everytown is reduced to post-apocalyptic rubble, ruled by the 'Boss' a tin-pot dictator. But in another part of the world, scientists and engineers have restored order and built new high-tech airplanes. With the narcotic "Gas of Peace", they put the Boss' army to sleep and disarm them. Under the scientist's leadership , Everytown is rebuilt into a high-tech metropolis. By 2036, the first trip to the moon is being prepared, using a giant space gun. But many people are overwhelmed by the changes brought by progress, and a resistance movement springs up, who threaten to destroy the space gun.

Although the film is only in black and white, and shows its age, especially in its acting, it is visually stunning in all its phases The war scenes blend WWI documentaries, with scenes of 1930's equipment, with some impressive footage resembling Eisenstein's best scenes, and are better than many a WWII film. The style of the post-apocalyptic scenes easily rivals "Mad Max" and hosts of lesser films of that ilk. The future community is a visually stunning blend of Bauhaus and Art Deco, the Space Gun rivals the Saturn Moon rockets in scale. The philosophical questions it raises about warfare, progress and human reactions to it are still with us. Definitely worth seeing if you can find a copy.

You can read the film script here:

The film can also provide material for HOTT Armies:

1940's ARMIES

Stronghold: European City
1 x Commander with long-range artillery - Magician general @ 4AP
1 x Artillery - Artillery @ 3AP
1 x Bomber - Airboat @ 3AP
2 x Tanks - Knights @ 2AP
1 x Machine gunners - Shooters @ 2AP
3 x Infantrymen - Blades @ 2AP
1 x Fighter plane - Flyers @ 2AP

Alternatives: Poison Gas attack as God @ 4AP

The forces of Everytown's country use typical 1930's British tanks and biplane fighters, their troops are British. Their enemy, not identified as a specific European country, use more modern early WWII monoplane fighters and clumsy bombers that look like 1930's French planes. Their tanks are streamlined Art Deco designs that would not look out of place in any SF setting.

1960's ARMIES

Stronghold: European City reduced to rubble by warfare
1 x Boss - Hero general @ 4AP
2 x Cavalry - Riders @ 2AP
1 x Machine gunners - Shooters @ 2AP
7 x Infantrymen - Warband @ 2AP
1 x Fighter plane - Flyers @ 2AP

Alternatives: Boss as Warband General @ 2AP. Infantrymen as Hordes @ 1 AP

The Boss is regarded as a Hero, at least by his