Monday, 26 February 2018

The Ceidonian Recruitment Drive

With one thing and another I didn't get in any gaming over the weekend, despite some plans to do so. I did manage a little bit of painting, though. With my DBA Swiss looking for an opponent, I realised that I could tweak my generic medieval Ceidonian army for HOTT into a couple of generic medieval DBA armies. All I needed to do was add a few elements from the figures I'd picked up the other week and, where relevant, repaint them to match the Ceidonian's yellow and red livery.

My first target was to build it up to allow me as many of the DBA Medieval German b-list options as I could manage. This is most of them, but I still have the bases to do.


Five lots of 3Kn, one of 6Kn, one LH, two Ps, two Sp, two 4Bd, two 4Pk and one 4Cb. None of it is historically accurate, I reckon, but I'm not too worried, and the elements will do nicely for both HOTT and DBA.


I don't have the 3Cv the list allows, unfortunately, but that's optional. I still have two elements of horsed to sort out, and I have some figures do do a HOTT hero element as well.


After this lot is done I will be adding a few more elements which will allow me to run the army as Italian Condotta as well, again with a few options. It will pretty much give me 48AP for HOTT as well, so it will be a win on two fronts. I just need to knuckle down to the painting.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Swiss Roll

An opportunity arose last night to give my DBA Early Swiss an outing against some historical foes, so I went for it. At last, a chance to find out if the army is a dog, or not.

In the first game they defended against a Medieval German army under Peter. My reckoning is that the biggest danger for the Swiss are enemy knights, since they have a decent chance of riding down the blades in the open. I tried to close down the battlefield with plenty of difficult hills, but two of the three ended up being discarded. The one that wasn't was large enough to hamper the German deployment, though. In addition I opted for a hamlet; this doesn't slow movement, or seriously hinder combat, but does prevent the Swiss infantry from being ridden down.


The hill had left the Germans somewhat caught out in terms of deployment, so I went for what seemed to be the obvious Swiss tactic - a full charge. This was mostly aimed at the enemy units deployed on the hill, where no-one would be at any particular advantage.


This started well, destroying a couple of German elements, but the Swiss crossbows on the flank were lost to their enemy counterparts, leaving the army in a precarious position. The blades in a Swiss army are double-depth, which means that the first one lost counts as two elements. With two elements lost already, the first casualty would see a Swiss defeat. and the battle was bogging down, with the German knights ready to counterattack.

They did, and the Swiss held them, even killing one. They kept fighting and picked up the fourth kill to secure a win.


We played a second game with the same armies. This time the battlefield was split by a river. Again I hurled the Swiss forward into a wild charge, against the opposing infantry at least. The troops facing the German knights held back. I ended up with a few command issues, since a lot of my stuff was on the wrong side of the hill from my general. But they moved forward as best they could.


Again the battle was centered around the hamlet. I think rough going is a big asset to this particular Swiss army, but a hamlet is the only terrain of that type they have on offer when they defend. Expect to see a lot of games featuring hamlets when the Swiss fight.


The Swiss quickly got the upper hand in the hamlet ...


... but the German knights charged the other half of the army, which rapidly collapsed, giving the Germans a narrow win.


For the third game Dave took over the Swiss, and switched to the first Late Swiss list, which swaps some of the blades for pikes. Peter switched to a not quite historical foe - the Free Company, and opted for lots of foot.


I reckon lots of foot isn't the way to fight the Swiss, who are optimised against infantry. This seemed to be the case in the game. The Swiss defended again, and pretty much steamrollered the Free Company.  Their archers suffered particularly badly, as the Swiss move fast enough to avoid a sustained volley of arrows, and can easily slaughter the bows once they get into close combat.


A counter-attack by the knights ended up with them skewered on pikes. Another Swiss win.


For the final game Dave took the Free Company, opting to put more of them on horses. I took the Swiss. For the first time the Swiss were fighting on enemy territory, and Dave sensibly made it as open as possible.


I went for the same tactics as before - attack. And, despite the Swiss losing a couple of their elements and putting them one kill from defeat, they prevailed, sweeping away their Free Company foes in a pretty much straight head-to-head fight.


I was surprised at how effective the Swiss were, so long as they could attack quickly and get to set the order of combats. A lot of their troops pursue after combat, which quickly led to broken lines, but their blades are fairly tough so this isn't too much of an issue. On their own territory they did pretty well, especially if they could force the enemy into cramped deployments. Ad they seemed to be able to hold the knights better than I thought they would just looking at the factors. Obviously having the choice of combats, and aiming to get overlaps, helped there.

So, the Swiss - they seem to be all about attack.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Battlesworn at Bundanoon

Catherine and I went away camping this weekend, because, as regular readers will know, this time of year is our wedding anniversary and that's how we celebrate it. As always I took some games with me and, as always, I failed to play most of them. However we did fit in a Sunday afternoon game of  Battlesworn in a shady picnic shelter (because it was too hot otherwise). I only took two pictures.


We played the King of the Hill scenario, with the winner being whoever had a figure on the stone plinth at the end of the fight. I used goblins and won the initial race to the objective, but Catherine got one of her dwarves up and a lengthy fight ensued. Other figures got sucked in to support, but I managed to position mine so that access to the plinth was trickier. The game developed into my troll and a goblin with a poisoned spear holding off superior numbers of angry dwarves, whilst the goblin on the plinth stood there near to death but protected from direct attack.


The game ended after ten turns with a goblin win. It was too hot for a rematch.

Aside from eating, walking and sleeping, the only other highlight of the weekend worth noting was that I picked up a second-hand copy of The Earthsea Trilogy for $4. I've read it a couple of times (and the first book more than a couple), but never owned a copy before. I knocked off 'A Wizard of Earthsea' on Sunday evening before tea.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Some People Call Me Maurice

There were four of us gaming at the University yesterday evening, and we played some Maurice, trying out army ideas for a forthcoming second campaign.

This was the only picture I took of Peter and Ralph's game, which featured Ralph's rapid-firing Prussians taking on Peter's Austrians.


I played Caesar. He took a British army, with shooting and melee national advantages. I went for something Swedish, opting for a Great Captain and cavaliers for the cavalry.

I defended, and got to sit behind a river. Caesar massed his infantry against my cavalry flank, so I pulled the horse back, switching most of it to the other flank where I hoped I might cross the river and take the fight to his inferior cavalry. I never got that far.


On my right flank I had troops ensconced behind a wall and garrisoning a village.


Caesar marched his magnificent columns of infantry up to the river.


He started to cross, but my cunning (and lucky) card-play meant that for several turns he got bogged down, unable to move. This left a number of his units exposed on my side of the river, where I was able to concentrate my fire on them, and break a couple.


A large ploughed field on my side of the river was also a problem for Caesar, and advancing across it would break up his army into unmanageable groups.


A shot of my cavalry on the right flank. They did a masterful interpenetration of my infantry line, then sat in this position for the rest of the game.


Caesar finally got his infantry across the river on my extreme left, and his superior firepower began to tell (although my troops' inability to hit anything in return didn't help).


A charge by the cavalry I'd left on that flank failed to slow the British advance, and I ended up slowly giving ground, hoping the third deck would run out and end the game with me still in possession of the objective and at least one point of army morale.


A British unit got too enthusiastic and charged to its own destruction, but the victorious Swedes were shot down before they had much chance to celebrate the win.


And that was pretty much it. Caesar pushed forward, we exchanged fire and eventually the Swedish morale broke. It was a good game, and had my shooting been better would have been closer. A few times in the mid-game, I had isolated British units under fire and close to breaking, and couldn't quite finish them off before he was able to recover. This would have made his final advance riskier, as his army morale would have been shakier. But it wasn't to be.

I never got to use my Cavaliers advantage.

There was much discussion about the selection of armies and national advantages for the Maurice campaign system. I can't help thinking that it tends to encourage the selection of forces that are rather more minimaxed and sterile than those you might select for a one-off game; they are optimised for the campaign rather than set up as reflections of historical prototypes. Has anyone else played the Maurice campaign system? Was this your experience of it?

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Swiss Miss

So there I was yesterday evening, with a newly-based Early Swiss DBA army all ready to go, and time for a quick game of something. I didn't really have my DBA head on, though, and neither do I have a proper opponent for the Swiss, so I decided to play HOTT instead, since I can do that without bothering to find and read the rules first.

I put together the following army - 4 x Spears (including the general), 6 x Warband, 1 x Shooter and 1 x Rider. The warband were the double-depth blade elements, so would fight double-double ranked. It looked impressive.


I got out the Ceidonians to oppose them, fielding 4 x Knight (including the general), 4 x Spears, 2 x Shooters and 2 x Blades.


Both armies pushed forward. I made the mistake with the Swiss of not only advancing their spears off a hill towards the Ceidonian knights, but also aiming the warband block at enemy spearmen who had stayed on a hill.


The first combats.



And the inevitable results. The Swiss lost three elements straight off, destroying a Ceidonian knight in return. They now had an enemy on the hill on one flank and a bloody great big hole in their centre.


The Ceidonians exploited their advantage ...


... and rolled up the Swiss foot before riding down their general.



The end. The Swiss lost eight of their twelve elements, whilst the Ceidonians lost a knight in the initial attack and a blade to a lucky kill by the one Swiss element that managed to get into a decent position.


Not an auspicious first game and, I suspect, a reflection of things to come in DBA, where enemy knights will ride the blades down rather easily unless countered in a cunning fashion. Obviously the Swiss spear should have stayed on the hill to face the knights (forcing a standoff, because the Ceidonians would have been daft to try the attack), leaving both armies trying to win the battle elsewhere.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Swiss

At the end of my previous post I said I'd acquired a pile of painted 15mm medieval figures that I was planning on assembling into a couple of DBA armies. Well, I spent this weekend working on one of the armies. Mostly this involved stripping figures from their current bases, a few minor changes to the paint-jobs on some of them, a lot of repairing and replacing of weapons, the addition of flags and, finally, a complete rebasing.

The end result? An Early Swiss DBA army.


Actually it's more than that; a quick check of the DBA lists showed that the first Late Swiss sub-list is very similar and I had the figures to cover the differences. So I did those as well, extending my army's date range by a massive 25 years.

The Early Swiss army offers the chance to have an force made up almost entirely of double-based troops. I found this quite attractive, despite the fact that it's something of a liability not entirely offset by the advantage it offers. So there's nine elements of 6Bd. Including the general. The rest of the army consist of a couple of psiloi with crossbows, and an element of light horse, also with crossbows. That's it. Very one-dimensional.


The Late Swiss list covers the stage when they switched to pikes, but the first sub-list is still basically the 6Bd, with a small core of pike elements. Four to be precise. The army loses the light horse and only fields six of the blade elements.


I did some reading around and the first 'proper' Confederacy consisted of eight cantons. So I gave each of eight elements one of the cantonal flags. The one element without a flag is the committee that commands the army. The flags really set the army off nicely.


I have no illusions about how effective this army is. The other figures I've got should, if I work them right, give me an appropriate Medieval German list to oppose them, but all of their historical opponents are strong on knights; a troop type the Swiss blades are vulnerable to. I suspect that Swiss victories rely on them being the defender and being very cunning in their use of terrain; pretty much how they performed historically, as far as I can tell. Still despite their weakness the army looks great, and I'm thrilled to have finally acquired it at such little effort, and no cost.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Return To The Halls Of Horror

A couple of years ago I posted a Battlesworn scenario in which a group of SAVE envoys had to stop Fu Manchu enacting a dark ritual. It made use of not only of my collection of 1980s Citadel Call of Cthulhu figures, but of the wonderful floorplans GW put out at the time for horror RPGs.

Anyway, last night I played the scenario with Caesar. He took SAVE, whilst I got to be the evil Doctor.

SAVE have to get across the hallway, up the stairs, along the balcony and into Fu Manchu's chamber as quickly as possible. Fu Manchu has an endless army of skeleton minions dedicated to stopping them.


And not just skeletons; Jack the Ripper joined in the fun as well. There was plenty of fighting in the hallway.


Jack the Ripper was slain, but some of SAVE's figures were now wounded as well.


Fu Manchu's forces appear randomly, and most of them seemed to be coming from the archways on either side of the hall. This left the landings relatively free, so those agents of SAVE who got up the stairs found their way relatively unimpeded.

If you look closely, a mummy has joined the fight in the hall.


Time was running out; Fu Manchu enacted the first part of his ritual. Three successes would see him win.


The agents hit a bottleneck; a doorway. Beyond it was Fu Manchu's daughter, who could be used by him to cast spells without a line of sight. Through her he magically paralysed the mighty warrior Ranjit Singh in the doorway, delaying SAVE for a turn.


A SAVE gunman downed the mummy, but was seriously injured himself.


The Baron broke through into the corridor and engaged Fu Manchu's daughter. In normal circumstances this would have been a one-sided fight, since she is a simple, puny familiar, whereas the Baron is a might Brute, but he had been cursed earlier making  him far less effective in combat. She even wounded him.


The Baron got her in the end.


But her sacrifice hadn't been in vain. She bought enough time for Fu Manchu to complete the ritual. Even if SAVE had made the chamber in time, their way was blocked by his bodyguard, Hassan The Silent.


The final positions.


This was the first time I had played the scenario with a live opponent. It was a lot of fun, but we found that the bottlenecks are rather critical. The programmed Fu Manchu I was used to playing against didn't really exploit them, whereas I did, making Caesar's job pretty difficult. I need to rethink that part of the scenario when I play it again. But regardless of the outcome the game was great fun to play.

Geoff and Gary played HOTT, using large numbers of 15mm figures on 60mm frontages. It looked spectacular, especially at 48AP.


Gary's army was made up primarily of Demonworld beastmen, and looked awesome.


Bryan and Ralph played Team Yankee.



Geoff has been decluttering, and was giving away figures, so I now have a pile of 15mm medievals to sift through this weekend with a view to assembling a couple of DBA armies I've been keen to try. Thanks Geoff!
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