Saturday, 31 May 2014

A New HOTT Army

I've started on a new HOTT army. There's plenty of work left to do on it, but I seem to be making progress. This chap is the obvious centrepiece:

And here's the rest of the troops. The photos don't show them very clearly, so we'll keep the nature of the army a surprise for now, eh?

Friday, 30 May 2014

Monocacy Revisited

Last night we had a go with our Monocacy scenario for Longstreet. This is a five-player (well, five-deck) game - two Union and three Confederate, so a fairly ambitious undertaking.

We played in 15mm, and tried a tighter table than before; the last time we did this some troops barely got into the fight because the armies started too far apart.

This is a shot of the battlefield. The Confederates are attacking across the river in the right foreground, and with a main force at the far end of the table. The Union defensive line is the curve on the main part of the battlefield.

The Confederates prepare to attack across the river.

The main Union line.

The Confederates had a large force of troops on the Union side of the river. The Union had to decide how many troops to leave in position to meet this threat and how many to divert to the bridge and ford.

The Union marched a fair number of their troops to meet the Confederate attack across the river.

This was worth doing, as the troops they had defending the bridge were significantly outnumbered.

Meanwhile the main Confederate force launched a rapid attack in order to tie up as much of the Union force as it could.

And as the battle really got going I seemed to have stopped taking pictures ...

We ran out of time as the Confederate attack broke against the Union line, unlikely to force much of a breakthrough. There seemed to be a fair attack developing against the river crossings, however, and both sides were taking plenty of casualties. It would be touch and go who would reach their shatter-point first, so I guess we could call it a draw.

The biggest problem we had with this game was that most of the players hadn't played it before. So it was not only a large scenario to fit into an evening, but had a steep learning curve. Add in the fact that we played some of the multi-player rules incorrectly for part of the game, leading to some confusion about who could do what, and it was obvious that we'd be unlikely to finish it on time.

I still don't know if I actually like Longstreet. The core mechanisms are simple enough, but I'm beginning to wonder if they could be used to create a cardless game; it's the card-management that seems to cause the delay and confusion. Yes, they add a little friction and uncertainty as well, but maybe that can be created some other way. It's fine for one-on-one play, but then that limits you to games with a brigade a side. Perhaps Longstreet is too ambitious for a battle of this size; we fudged it into five commands, but in fact there were ten to twelve brigades on each side. Simply put, I don't think that Longstreet, straight out of the box, is the ACW game I'm looking for.

Thanks to Caesar and Ralph for setting up the game, and keeping it running as smoothly as possible, in the face of considerable adversity at one point.

Meanwhile there was also a game of Flames of War, featuring these lovely Bishops ...

... whilst Dave and Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Picture played DBM.

I'm back on the secret project next week, so pictures may be limited.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Another Night Of Gaming In Wollongong

Four games on the go this week - two games of HOTT, one of Bolt Action and one of ... well, I can't say. If I did, I'd have to kill you, and neither of us wants that.

Bolt Action action.

Cei and Marco play HOTT. Cei was using my Alice in Wonderland army, whilst Marco was using my Australian Aboriginal force. Marco won a fairly decisive victory.

They played another game, with Marco keeping the Aborigines, but Cei switching to (and attacking with) the Boxer Rebellion Foreign Devils.

I don't know who won the second game; they played, packed up and went off clubbing afterwards. The stamina of youth ... *

I played a game against Peter, using the Chinese (with two dragons) against a Roman force.

I lost, when my general got backed up into my other chariot. I even had a dragon shot down by artillery.

I think we're playing Longstreet next week.

*Cei got home at 3am. I found this out via Facebook.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


I don't normally do film reviews on The Stronghold Rebuilt, and this isn't a review anyway. But given my obvious interest in such things I thought it best to give you my opinion on the new Godzilla film, which we had a family outing to see on Sunday.

If you want to see a film to excise the disaster that was the Matthew Broderick one from several years ago*, then this is it. It's Hollywood managing to make something that works both as a Hollywood film and a classic Japanese Godzilla film. True the first hour is a little slow, but it makes up for it in the second. Everything else is exactly what you'd expect; two-dimensional characters, dodgy scientific explanations and an improbable storyline, all serving as the backdrop to monsters flattening cities and beating each other up. And that's all I wanted.

If you have any interest in Kaiju, then you have to see Godzilla.

*Which is actually an OK film - just not a Godzilla film.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Malplaquet 1709

Last night we played our biggest Maurice game so far - Malplaquet. Appropriate, as this was apparently the largest pre-Napoleonic battle fought in Europe.

With over 40 infantry and about 20 cavalry units, this really stretched our figure collections, so we drafted in everything we had - ImagiNations, SYW and GNW included.

We played it as a doubles game, with Ralph and I taking the Franco-Baviarians in their seemingly solid defensive positions, and John, Ulli and Naz running Malborough and Eugene's allies. Ulli and Naz were new to Maurice, so Caesar umpired and assisted.

Here's the batlefield gridded out, set up and with the French deployed.

A closer look at the French lines.

My cavalry. As I said, we drafted in all available units, so most of my force was made up of some geographically displaced Cossacks.

The Allies made their major attack on our left, moving the bulk of their force through the woods.

John's troops held back, starting as they did a fair way from the French lines.

There really were a considerable number of troops moving through the woods.

Ralph's artillery opens fire.

The Allies emerge and begin to deploy. Ralph and I watched, whilst discussing whether to send his infantry reserve or my cavalry reserve to deal with them. With hindsight we might have done better to have sent one of them rather than actually just talk about it.

Ralph's cavalry went into action, unsuccessfully at first.

But then with more success.

Meanwhile John was moving some infantry up against our extreme right.

The initial exchange of volleys saw the French take heavy casualties, despite their defences.

The elite English (we think) then fixed bayonets and charged, pushing us out of the defences, and breaching our lines.

Meanwhile on the other flank the French were busy sorting out the mess their cavalry had got into, whilst their infantry sat in tasy vulnerable columns.

Mercifully we had to call time at that point; with learners and a lengthy set-up the game just couldn't be played to a conclusion in an evening. Both French flanks were under pressure, and I'm not really sure how we could have pulled off a stunning victory based on the position we were in. So, regardless of what others might think, I have to say that we were looking at an Allied victory.

Thanks to Caesar for organising a game that looked absolutely spectacular. In a few weeks we're looking to play some 'normal' sized games, and it will be interesting to see how the experience we've gained from these larger ones comes into play.

Useless Trivia: Malplaquet is one of the few battles specifically mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories. In terms of field battles (so discounting sieges in the Indian Mutiny) I think that there are three others - Waterloo, Marengo and, of course, Maiwand. But I'm doing it from memory; there may be others.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Half Century

This is a wargames blog. For wargames. Which makes my birthday a little difficult to report, as I didn't really get anything game-related for it. But I'm not going to miss the opportunity to post about it, as it's one of the biggies - my Half Century.

So what does a mature, responsible, married, father-of-two do for their 50th birthday around here?

Well, I slob around at home in my onesie, having had my breakfast cooked by one of my children, and the promise of my tea being cooked by the other. It's actually Mother's Day here in Australia, so both Catherine and I are expecting to be pampered today.

We actually went out for the day yesterday as my birthday outing and meal, traveling down the coast to a little town called Milton, which is where Catherine and I spent our anniversary a couple of months ago. Milton is a bit quirky:

We spent the day poking around little shops and had a lovely lunch at a restaurant called The Tipsy Fig, which we highly recommend. Here's my pudding - lemon meringue - and my son, who obviously doesn't approve of such indulgence:

Pressies? Well, there were some. The only one of remotest interest to this blog is the one I picked up at Free Comic Book Day last week - another figure for my Godzilla collection:

It's actually a money-box, but I can't see it being used for that.

(I wasn't kidding about the onesie)

Now all I need is another monster figure to go with it, and I can have a giant game of Giant Monster Rampage.

There were other presents. Milton has a nice little shop that does retro-style clothing, so I got a hat:

I also got a 50s style floral dress and full petticoat as well, something I've always wanted. But I'll be saving that for a ball I'm going to later this year. And, frankly, it looks better without the beard.

Anyway ongoing projects wait for no man, birthday or not, and I have some GNW cavalry to finish off before a game on Thursday. Time to get back to them ...

Friday, 9 May 2014

Secret Thursday

I can't tell you what I played last night - it's a secret.


However there were other games being played in the same room, so here's a couple of pictures of them.

Peter, Geoff, Marco and Cei played Full Thrust.

Meanwhile Bryan and newcomer Adam played Flames of War. I think there's some Vichy French tucked away in that terrain somewhere, but I'm not sure who the were fighting.

So a fairly limited report this week. Next week, though, should see a report on another Maurice doubles game, so expect a Spectacle!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

More Cavalry For Maurice

A quick picture of four more units of Great Northern War cavalry on the go for Maurice - two Swedish units on the left and two Russian on the right. Indistinct in the foreground are the beginnings of some Notables.

One more session should see the painting finished, then there will be a couple of sessions to do the bases.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Clontarf Revisited

At the end of yesterday's post on refighting Clontarf I posted a few thoughts on making it a more 'accurate' game (as far as such terms can be applied to any HOTT game). I did some reading around - I wouldn't dignify it with the term 'research' - and picked up a few ideas for making more of a challenge out of it.

Firstly the actual armies themselves. The army of Brian Boru can stay the same as how I depicted it in yesterday's refight; ten Warband (including the general) and two Blades, with the latter representing Norse allies. I'll call this army The Irish.

In yesterday's refight I ran the other army as pretty much a straight Viking one. This is not really what it was, as in essence it was an Irish rebel army with Norse/Viking allies. So I'll call this army the Rebels, base it on the standard Irish army and add in a heavy Norse contingent. Eight Warbamd and four Blades would be about right.

From reading around it looks like my terrain setup wasn't quite right. I had the sea on one flank and woods on the other. In fact it seems more likely that the Rebels had their backs to the sea, with the woods at 90 degrees to it' running along one flank. There was a river covering the other flank, with Dublin beyond it, but that need not be depicted as it can be assumed to be the table boundary.

Two features that do seem important were the bridge back to Dublin, that was in the Rebel rear, and the elderly Brian Boru, camped on top of a small hill praying for success. These could be depicted by doing something slightly radical for a HOTT game; giving both armies a stronghold. That for the Irish represents their king in his camp. The one for the rebels represents their only line of retreat back to Dublin.

Finally a couple of special rules for colour and balance. On the Irish side the men of Meath seemed uncommitted, and hung back until they were sure that their side was winning. To this end, one of the Irish Warbands is deployed on their base edge, and cannot move until it is activated. It is activated once it is engaged in combat. It is also activated if they think that the Irish are winning the battle. If the Irish roll a '6' for PIPs, and the Rebels have lost more AP than the Irish at that it, then the Men of Meath may move and fight freely.

The Rebels were an alliance between various Irish, Norse-Irish and Norse kings and earls, some of who had their ow agendas. To simulate this, any group move by the Rebel army which would include both Blades and Warband costs an extra PIP.

So with all that in mind, I set the game up again this evening, and played it through.

Here's the two armies lined up - Irish on the right and Rebels on the left.

Brian Boru prays for victory, protected by his personal guard.

The Rebels with their Norse allies.

The lines close rapidly. The Rebels rearrange their deployment as they advance.

The fighting begins.

On the Rebel left the attack is repulsed.

But in the centre the a gap opens up in the Rebel line, and their general is outflanked.

He and his bodyguard are cut down, giving he battle to the Irish.

The final position. This time there were three rounds of combat.

To be honest, with all of the Warband I expected more of a shoving match over a few turns. But the vital first kill was right next to the Rebel general, and on their bound, so the Irish were able to exploit it in their bound.

Sadly I have other things I need to be doing now, so I won't be able to try another refight for a bit. Still, this second one felt far better as a game, and as a recreation of the actual battle.

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