Showing posts with label scum of the earth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scum of the earth. Show all posts

Monday, 10 April 2017

Budget Fraustadt

In my first 'Scum of the Earth' game for the Six by Six Challenge I tried and ECW game. For my second I decided to make use of the figures I had handy from out Fraustadt refight last Thursday (which we're doing again this week, if you fancy knowing what's coming up here) and play a GNW game. And, I thought, why not refight Fraustadt?

Now, one of the design philosophies of 'Scum of the Earth' is that its supposed to give a game which looks like a low-budget black-powder battle from a 70s/80s TV series, where they only had 200 extras to fight Waterloo with. So I scaled the game right back in terms of units. Here's the setup:

This is the defending Saxon/Russian army (all looking suspiciously Russian, as before. We know they're behind everything at the moment, so it's only appropriate.)

Right Wing
1 x Cavalry (Stalwart)

1 x Infantry (Stalwart)
1 x Infantry
1 x Infantry (Riffraff)
1 x Gun

Left Centre (Russians)
2 x Infantry (Riffraff, Pikes)

Left Wing
2 x Cavalry

The attacking Swedish force was smaller, but I stacked on some extra traits to try and offset this.

Right Wing
1 x Cavalry (Stalwart, Knee-to-Knee)
1 x Cavalry (Knee-to-Knee)

1 x Infantry (Stalwart, Pikes, Veteran)
1 x Infantry (Pikes, Veteran)

Left Wing
2 x Cavalry (Knee-to-Knee)

Most of the traits can be found in the rules. 'Knee-to-Knee' gives Cavalry a +1 when in melee with other Cavalry. 'Pikes' gives the unit a +1 in melee, but their firing is capped at 4.

I gave units a 6" musketry range, as for the ECW, but had them roll a DAV as normal.

The Swedes moves forward aggressively, with their cavalry sweeping forward to attack their Saxon opposite numbers. The brown area on the Saxon right is a frozen marsh (the battle was fought in Poland in February, so it was a bit chilly).

The Saxon left came out to meet the Swedes. No point in standing around really.

The Swedes charged, and cut through the first Saxon unit, which fell back.

On the other flank the Swedes worked their way through the marsh with no difficulty.

The Saxon artillery started up a deadly fire on the Swedish infantry in the centre, who advanced to just outside of canister/musketry range, ready to charge once their cavalry had made a breakthrough.

The Saxon cavalry on the left was now fairly well smashed up, but they had put up a magnificent defence, forcing one Swedish unit to rout and the other to fall back.

On the other flank, however, the Saxon cavalry pretty much fled the field after the first Swedish attack.

This put Swedish cavalry well into the Saxon rear.

Ga Pa! The Swedish infantry marched forward.

An overview of the battle.

One of their infantry units faltered in the attack, already shaken from the earlier artillery fire. The other, though, pressed home its attack on the Saxon defences.

It was repulsed, but now the Swedish cavalry was coming up in support.

An attack from both sides!

And still the Saxons triumphed.

On the other flank the shattered Saxon cavalry was sheltering behind some wavering but fresh Russian infantry.

 The Swedes charged again ...

... and the Russians broke, although they rallied rather than flee the field.

The Saxon cavalry counterattacked, and broke the Swedes, who fled.

In the centre a Saxon unit fell back from the defences as the Swedish infantry pushed forward. However other infantry drove off more Swedish cavalry with some brisk musketry.

At that point I called a Saxon win. The Swedes still had a little bit of fight left in them, but really there wasn't any momentum left in their attack, and much of the Saxon line was still fresh.

This is a difficult battle to balance, with the outnumbered Swedes on the offensive and, historically, pulling off a win. Twilight of the Sun-King seems to manage it OK without it looking too much like the Saxons have been hamstrung and the Swedes turned into supermen. With these rules I suspect it's the best approach; add more bonuses to the Swedes, and dump some more disadvantages on the Saxons. It was true that the Saxon cavalry on the left was lucky early on; they managed two Courage tests where they rolled a '1', allowing them to keep fighting, but rally they were a tough nut to crack for the Swedes.

6x6 - Game 3.2

Monday, 27 March 2017

ECW Scum

Regular readers of this blog will remember that last month I did some playtesting for a new game by Nordic Weasel called 'Scum Of The Earth'. These rules are designed for small black powder actions using small numbers of figures. The use simple D6 mechanisms and are designed to give a quick and relatively simple game.

Well, the rules were published last week, and I bought and downloaded a copy. As well as the basic rules that I'd help playtest, there were extras for unit experience, period specific amendments and even a set of campaign rules. For the money it's an excellent little package. The rules themselves are pretty clear, with no real issue that I've found so far.

Anyway, I've been really slack at playing games recently, so I thought I'd give them a whirl, if only to show you all I'm still alive and blogging. Whilst they are obviously written with a Napoleonic era style game in mind, the period specific rules cover the English Civil War right through to the opening stages of WW1. The specifics are very basic, but like a lot of Nordic Weasel rules, the section is designed to be organic, with amendments and updates to be expected as players feed their experiences back into the game. The mechanisms are simple enough to stand all kinds of adjustments and tweaking.

Having playtested them in with games set in the South American Wars of Liberation and the US-Mexican War (no, I didn't blog those ones), I decided to go to the very beginning and give them a whirl with the paper ECW armies.

I set up the introductory scenario the rules offer - three infantry and a cavalry unit on each side, with a hill and some rough terrain in the middle of the board. The Parliamentarian troops are on the left and the Royalists on the right. I didn't apply any army specific traits (no reckless Royalist cavalry or better armed Parliamentarians), but I did make two infantry units on each side Amateur to add a little bit of interest. This meant that there was a chance they wouldn't act each turn.

The Parliamentarian moved first and advanced cautiously trying to stay in line. Movement in Scum of the Earth is random, so keeping a group of units under control takes a little bit of finesse. Their cavalry pushed ahead rapidly, getting an extra boost when one of the Royalist units hesitated in its move.

The Parliamentarians got themselves into a useful position, with one unit in the cover of the hedges around the field (I assumed the fields were rough going with a surrounding hedge).

The cavalry engaged, and the Royalists were pushed back.

Royalist infantry came up in support of their horse, but their musketry was mostly ineffective.

The Royalist cavalry counter-attacked, but were driven off again, and routed.

The Parliamentarian follow-up put them on the flank of the Royalist infantry

With their cavalry pinning the Royalist right flank in place, their infantry pushed forward. On their left the Royalists had formed one of their units into an attack formation, with pikes to the fore (the counter with an arrow). Their plan was to use the additional movement to push across the fields and attack the Parliamentarians behind the hedge.

However a close target presented itself and they assaulted the Parliamentarian centre instead.

The Royalists were thrown back.

A to-and-fro fight developed in the centre.

The Parliamentarian cavalry fell back on their left, as the Royalist infantry was able to use reaction moves to turn and face the threat. In this period cavalry are limited as to when they can frontally charge pike-armed infantry.

More infantry combat saw both sides take casualties.

Meanwhile the cavalry routed back under fire.

The Parliamentarian infantry pushed across the field and managed to rout one of their Royalist opposite numbers.

The Parliamentarians kept up the attack, but were suffering heavy casualties.

Their cavalry fled the field altogether.

The scenario ran for six turns, and was scored on casualties. It was a draw; although the Royalists had lost two of their four units routed off the field, they two survivors were virtually undamaged whilst although the Parliamentarians had only lost one unit, the others were all seriously battered.

This wasn't too difficult a game to play, although I did forget a few things from time to time, mostly to do with timing of reaction moves and counter-attacks.

I think I could enjoy this game, and have decided to add it to my Six By Six Challenge list. Given its nature I will be dropping Black Powder which, to be honest, was only on the list in order to force me to play it. These rules may turn out to be no better, but I think I will have more fun finding out. However given that I also have a set of pike and shot rules in my list, I will try and steer clear of ECW games with these rules for a while, and try a different era. To be true to the challenge I won't retrospectively include any previous games I've played.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

One Hour With The Scum Of The Earth

One of the nice things about 'Scum of the Earth' is that it's pitched at around the six unit mark, which seems to make it a perfect set of rules to use for the scenarios in One Hour Wargames. I decided to put that to the test this evening, and played the Control The River scenario using two South American Wars of Liberation forces.

I generated random forces, with a slight fiddle to the tables to limit artillery to one piece maximum. The Royalists got an artillery piece, along with four infantry and some skirmishers. The Patriots had four infantry and four cavalry. I decided I wanted to try out characters and traits as well. The Patriot Llanero cavalry was rated as Fierce, giving them a bonus in close combat, but to offset this, two of their infantry units were classed as Rabble. In addition I gave each side a musician, standard-bearer and sergeant to assign to three different units, allowed two random units on each side to be Steady, allowing them to resist fire better, and made one unit on each side Impetuous, which meant that they advanced towards the enemy if under ineffective fire.

I didn't keep detailed notes; keeping track of the game was work enough. The patriots put their cavalry and a particularly steady infantry unit on once flank, relying on their less useful infantry to take, or contest, the other ford as best they could. The Royalists put the gun and skirmishers on one flank, and massed their infantry on the other. I randomly scattered some additional rough ground around the board, as this style of game really needs more rough than the scenarios usually provide.

On the one flank there was a fierce firefight across the river (impassable except at the fords). The Royalists got the better of it, driving the Patriots back into the woods, and advancing to take the objective. The Patriots made a bold try at a counter-attack, but it never really came off.

On the other flank the cavalry swept over the river, and easily overwhelmed the Royalist gun. But both units came unstuck against a stolid infantry unit that saw both of them off, one by rout and the other by elimination. Cavalry is useful under these rules, but with only three actual figures per unit they are somewhat brittle if things go against them.

The lone Patriot infantry unit on that flank was left fighting alone, which it did with some skill, holding firm against both Royalist musketry and bayonets, and inflicting more hits than it took.

However eventually reinforcements arrived from the other flank, where the Patriots had finally scattered, and the brave soldiers of what you can see was The British Legion, were forced to withdraw.

So, another Royalist victory.

I tried a few rule changes which are under consideration: clarified movement, and a more logical effect for rough terrain, as well as a 6" rout move which kept units in play for a lot longer, and allowed both sides a chance to regroup and reorganise. I didn't feel there were any problems with any of the changes. Keeping track of the abilities wasn't too bad, but I'm not sure I'd want any more in play than I used. I never really got a feel for how artillery worked in the game; the Royalist gun fired one shot before its crew were put to the lance. 

The game played out in eleven turns, which seems to be par for the course in the OHW scenarios. They did seem to be a suitable set of rules for trying the scenarios with; I shall give them another go at some point.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Scum Of The Earth

Nordic Weasel have been around for a while, producing interesting-looking skirmish and small-unit games which I have read, read about and somehow never managed to play. However I read a review of his latest offering the other day - Scum of the Earth - and decided that it was time I stopped reading and started playing.

Scum of the Earth is available HERE in (at the time of writing) a beta test version. The plus side of this is that you pay what you want for it; nothing if you truly are the scum of the earth and lots if you are true Lady or Gentleman of Honour.

They are described as 'Black Powder' rules for people with 'dusty miniatures shelves'. That is, they are designed to cover 18th and 19th century actions, and also designed to make use of that handful of figures from that era that a hypothetical short attention-span wargamer has on his or her shelves. The scale is a bit nebulous; units consist of six infantry or three cavalry figures, but since the rules comment that, if you are using 6-10mm figures, a 'figure' can be a base of 3-5 models, we can assume that they represent more than six individuals. It's definately pitched as a skirmish-level game, though. Let's assume a unit is 30-50 infantry, or up to 25 cavalry tops, and leave it at that. The starter game suggests 3-5 units per side. There are optional rules for artillery, although it does point at that at this scale you wouldn't be using it.

Essentially this game is a ruthlessly simple game set at about the same level as Sharp Practice.

And it is ruthlessly simple. All rolls are on a single D6, with an Average die used for firing. Movement is a D6 in inches, plus or minus modifiers for formation and type. Firing and close combat are by unit, and consist of opposed rolls. Units lose figures, but mostly disappear through routing, with a loss of one or two figures making a rout more likely in close combat. Both forms of combat can be brutal. There are a couple of pages of optional rules at the end for characters to add to your units, rules for leaders and rules for different unit characteristics. These are what you would expect - the odd +/- modifier in particular circumstances, or the ability to ignore something.

Anyway, I bought a copy (paying more than $0), and set up a game. I used my 6mm South American Wars of Liberation troops, with no special abilities or leaders - three units of infantry and one of light cavalry per side. I used one Irregular Miniatures stand to represent one figure in the game.

Terrain was a series of rocky hills - I just rearranged my Chacabuco terrain from yesterday, with a farm in the centre. The two forces were foraging parties after supplies. Victory would go to whoever held the farm.

The Patriots quickly moved to occupy the farm. In fact the rules aren't clear how buildings work. I treated the farm as bad going which offered no cover unless the unit adopted skirmish formation, at which point they could spread out around the perimeter.

The Royalists formed up into columns to assault the farm. One came under fire and was shaken.

The other column got held up in the rocks.

Eventually the Royalists got their act together and attacked the farm, routing the defenders.

The two cavalry units had fought wide out on the flank, and the Royalists had eventually routed. The Patriot cavalry swung round to threaten the Royalists attacking the farm, forcing one into square. But a firefight around the farm saw the Patriot infantry driven off, so a charge by their cavalry was all that was left. The Royalists came out of square in order to shoot, and paid the price, despite the Patriot cavalry struggling through the rough terrain, but musketry from the farm drove off the horse and won the day for the Royalists.

The game was quick, brutal and surprisingly fun, given the simple mechanisms. Most of it was obvious in play, but I did have a few queries or reservations.

(i) I confess that I didn't find the bad going rules intuitive, with units sometimes not moving even if they only intend to enter terrain. However I shall persevere and see if it makes more sense in future games.

(ii) I liked the reaction rule, where the passive player gets to move a unit. However with only one minor exception, this can only be triggered by a unit failing to move in bad going.

(iii) I had units roll for movement to change formation, with a discarded dice meaning that they didn't manage it. I rather like the idea of *any* formation change rolling, with a 1 being a fail and, of course, triggering a reaction. This would mostly deal with my reaction move reservation in Point (ii).

(iv) I wasn't sure what the penalties for cavalry attacking into bad going where. I assumed that a unit attacking something in bad going had to roll as if it were entering/crossing it, so obviously a failure to move is a possibility. But cavalry don't seem to lose their +1 combat bonus, unless the target is formed up. But I shall play this unchanged for now and see how it goes.

(v) Finally, the routing rules seemed to be mostly redundant. There are rules for rallying units which rout, but since a unit routs 12" and the recommended board is only 24" square, most routs take a unit off the table and out of the game anyway. Perhaps a routing unit should stop at the table edge, or not travel so far. A routing unit that fails to rally is very vulnerable, and moves 6" if attacked, so a 6" rout would keep units in the fight whilst removing those that cocked up the rally. In addition I'd perhaps make the rally roll one point more difficult if the unit is also shaken, since shaken doesn't seem to have much of an effect otherwise.

I shall try some more games of this, and see how they go.

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