Saturday, 7 April 2018

Black Powder 3-2-1

Caesar got two games on Thursday evening. As well as the Maipo refight, he played Black Powder with Ralph, whilst I watched and took pictures.

This was a Black Powder 3-2-1 game, where both players have six units with fairly generic Napoleonic capabilities - three infantry, two cavalry and one artillery (hence 3-2-1) - on a small table with a simple objective. In this case it was to hold the walled enclosure in the centre of the table at the end of six turns. The enclosure could only be entered by infantry.

Here, Ralph explains to Caesar that, because he's using French, he will win very easily, n'est pas?

So, anyway, I flitted around taking pictures. I've just done a basic photography course, so I'm now trying to use my camera with all of the settings on manual. Please excuse any dubious pictures that resulted because of this.

To be honest I hadn't planned to write a blow-by-blow account of the action. It was Black Powder. Units whizzed around all over the place (well, the cavalry did). It was a wild adventure. But, basically, Caesar got some troops into the enclosure, who held it for most of the game whilst everything else went pear-shaped around them. They were routed out by artillery fire on the penultimate turn, but he managed to get one of his surviving infantry units into the enclosure to replace them, and Ralph completely failed to mount a last turn attack to oust them

So, simply enjoy these photos of two Black Powder players at the top of their game, and some beautiful 25mm figures.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Maipo 200

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Maipo, which basically secured Chile's independence from Spain, so obviously I decided that I would have to refight it.

I have, in fact, games it a few times, most of which are covered on this blog. Here's some links to the relevant posts:

Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Rocket's Red Glare)

For those not in the know, here's a brief history.

For a start, everything I've read for the past few years has called it the Battle of Maipú. However I've called it Maipo for the past 20 years and I'm going to stick to that.

Anyway, in February 1817, José de San Martín led an army across the Andes, defeated the Spanish  and captured Santiago. This is the campaign that includes the battle of Chacabuco, which I've refought a few times before. Look it up. I'll wait.

San Martin set Bernardo O'Higgins up as the Supreme Director of Chile and, a year after Chacabuco, O'Higgins declared Chile independent. However, the Spanish viceroyalty sent an army to Santiago under General Osorio and the Patriot armies were defeated at the Battle of Cancha Rayada in March 1818. After their defeat, the Patriots regrouped, rebuilt their army in a matter of days, and eventually numbered about about 6,000 men, a mixture of Argentinians and Chilean patriots.

Meanwhile, Gen. Osorio realised that he had not defeated the Patriot army conclusively at Cancha Rayada, and moved against them. They met near south of Santiago, at Maipo.

Both armies formed up on ridges, facing each other across a valley. The Patriots outnumbered the Royalists, but their army was less experienced and was still recovering from the earlier defeat at Cancha Rayada. In addition the Royalist army contained a regiment of Spanish veterans from the Peninsular campaign.

After an ineffective artillery bombardment, San Martin advanced against the Royalists on both flanks,  and drove back their left. The Royalists counterattacked, mostly in the centre where their better troops were stationed, but the Patriots held and pushed them back. The solid Spanish units held off attack after attack but eventually gave ground, and Osorio fled the field. His successor managed to rally part of the army, but it was too late and the Patriots forced them to surrender, winning a decisive victory.

As I have done many times before, I used my Liberated Hordes HOTT variant for the refight, and my 6mm figures on 25mm frontage stands. This gives a teeny-tiny game with a massed battle look.

This is the terrain. The Royalists would set up to the right and the Patriots to the left. Some of the Royalists had to set up on the smaller hill in the foreground.

The Patriot army, a mix of regular and militia infantry with a solid striking force of elite cavalry.

The Royalist army; smaller, but with a core of elite infantry veterans.

And the deployment. Caesar took the Patriots, whilst I took the Royalists. Both armies had to set up entirely on their own ridge, except that the Royalists had to deploy three elements on the isolated hill. The Royalists deployed first.

Actually I think this is one of the first times I've tried this battle with a 'free' deployment, rather than replicating the historical setup.

The rather poor Royalist cavalry deployed on the right. In the distance you can see the Patriot cavalry deployed to advance and destroy them

Caesar simply used his artillery to cover his right. I advanced my isolated infantry towards it, hoping to turn the Patriot flank.

Caesar went for a classic attack; he formed his infantry up into columns and advanced as quickly as possible. The first exchanges of musketry saw losses on both sides. The low-quality Chilean infantry suffered particularly badly. However the Patriot artillery eliminated some of the infantry advancing against them.

Poor PIPs held the patriot cavalry back at this stage. The Royalists stayed on the safety of the hill.

Caesar used San Martin's general bonus to push as many of his troops forward as possible, and broke up the Royalist line some more.

The Patriot cavalry attacked. One element of Royalist horse ran away instantly, but the other put up more of a fight, pushing back its opponent.

At this point the Royalist PIPs dried up, and their left flank was only able to mount a half-hearted attack on the Patriot right.

With his army falling back, the coward Osorio decided to quit the field. Marvellous.

This left the Royalists even more starved for PIPs and only one element away from defeat. Caesar launched attacks on two vulnerable Royalist units: the remaining cavalry and one of the units of Spanish regulars. Both elements saw off their opponents. Now was the time for the Royalist army to pull together and inflict enough damage on the patriots to drive them off.

They rolled another '1' for PIPs, and for the second bound in a row none of the Royalist troops moved. Their cavalry couldn't hold out forever, and its loss broke the army giving the patriots a win.

This was a pretty straightforward game, but we both enjoyed it. Once again the shaky quality of the Patriots made their attack risky, but the quality of the elite Horse Grenadiers saw them through. The Royalists have good troops poorly commanded, and spent a lot of the game in a state of command paralysis. If the same paralysis happens to the Patriots then the Royalists can pull of a win, but that didn't happen in this game.

So, for our 200th anniversary refight a Patriot win, securing the liberation of Chile, was the right result.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

La Batalla de Chacabuco

Yesterday, whilst searching for information for a forthcoming game, I came across this five-minute news report (from Chile, I assume) about last year's 200th anniversary of the Battle of Chacabuco. It's in Spanish, so good luck with that, but has some nice shots of the scenery, some reenactors (mixed, it has to be said, with what appear to be modern soldiers) and some earnest-looking talking heads. I thought it was worth sharing though.

Oh, and there's some toy-soldiers as well.

La Batalla de Chacabuco

Monday, 2 April 2018

Lovecraft Letter

We bought Maya a copy of 'Lovecraft Letter' for Christmas, but up until this weekend she'd not had a chance to play it. Yesterday we rectified that.

'Lovecraft Letter' is a variant of the classic 'Love Letter' game with an insane twist. 

At its core it is the basic 'Love Letter' game. Indeed you can strip out the special cards and play it as such. However as well as the basic cards and rules you'd expect from 'Love Letter' it has a second set of cards which run an insanity mechanism. These have the same numerical values and rules as the basic cards (so 'The Hounds of Tindalos' insane card acts like 'The Great Race of Yith' normal one - both are equivalent to the 'Baron' in regular 'Love Letter'), but also have a special 'Insane' effect as well. Once you've played one Insane card, you can access the special effect on all subsequent ones you get. And some of them are quite powerful. However on each of your turns you must check to see if you go totally insane; if you do, you're out of the round.

Victory is slightly different. If you win a round then you get a token. You get one type if you were sane when you won, and another if you were insane. You only need two sane tokens to win, or three insane tokens. There's also an instant win condition on one of the insane cards, but it's very hard to achieve. That said, it is possible for someone to win in two rounds in this game, although it's quite hard to do.

It take a few rounds to get used to the unusual insane effects, but after that the game rattles along nicely. We enjoyed it and, whilst it seems more random than the basic game, the Lovecraft skin gives it an entertaining element which makes up for this.

Here's a combination you don't want to have; discarding either of these cards loses you the round. Not good.

(I did manage a victory in one game by a wonderfully obscure mechanism. The round ended with three of us still in contention. In this case the person with the highest card in their hand wins. I had a '1'. I was doomed. But the other two players both had a '5'. The rules say that in the case of a tie, all players involved are knocked out, and the next highest surviving player wins. So that was me. This gave me a second sane token, and victory. An underdog win if ever there was one.)

Anyway, if you like 'Love Letter' and enjoy Lovecraft, this is a great little game. The components, right down to the box, are gorgeous and, as seems to be becoming the norm for such games, you even get card-holders with a proper back and everything. Recommended.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Return To The Pagoda Of Power

As promised I ran the Pagoda of Power game again today, with two monsters against a mech and hero. The giant crab-crature Brutathrax and cyborg giant gorilla Ape-X attacked, with the mech Ronin-X and hero Valiant Monster Fighter defending.

Valiant Monster Fighter flew towards the giant gorilla, who tried a few pot-shots with his giant gun but couldn't penetrate the hero's force-field (the pink counter marks that it's active).

Ronin-X and Brutathrax faced off.

I didn't manage to take that many photos. Ronin-X pushed Brutathrax back, but was savaged by a berserk counter-attack. Ape-X and valiant Monster Fighter also traded blows, with the giant ape coming off far worse.

But, even wounded, the great ape managed to struggle towards the pagoda, and demolished with with a single mighty punch to score a win for the attackers.

If you're interested, here's the stats for everyone involved:

Valiant Monster Fighter (335pts)
Head Q3 C2 Force Field 3, Energy Reflection
Body Q3 C3 Hyperflight
Arms Q2 C3 Martial Arts
Legs Q3 C3

Ronin X (330pts)

Head Q3 C2 Ace Pilot, Armoured Cockpit
Body Q4 C4
Arms Q2 C4 Blade
Legs Q2 C3 Leap, Free Disengage, Difficult Target

Ape-X (335pts)
Head Q3 C2 Fangs, Cunning
Body Q3 C4 Regeneration
Arms Q3 C4 Gun C4L
Legs Q4 C4

Brutathrax (335pts)
Head Q4 C3 Light Armour, Horns
Body Q3 C5 Massive, Heavy Armour
Arms Q3 C3 Claws, Heavy Armour
Legs Q3 C2 Light Armour
Legs Q3 C2 Light Armour

('Cunning' is a new ability; it allows a monster to use reactions like a mecha and tokusatsu hero can, whilst still retaining their berserk capability. Oh yes; we allow tokusatsu heroes to use reactions. It seems sensible since they can't go berserk.)

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