Friday, 20 April 2018

What A Tanker!

We tried out the new 'What A Tanker' rules from Two Fat Lardies yesterday, using Ralph's collection of 28mm tracked beauties. Not ones to do things by halves we had eight players, each running a single tank - four T34/76s on one side, against a trio of PzIIIs and a lone PzIV on the other.

Here's my T34, taking a long shot at a PzIII on the far side of the table.

I found myself somewhat isolated from the other Russian commanders, and had a bit of a lonely fight for the first couple of turns. I scored some non-damaging hits, though.

The other Russians move up.

The first kill; Bryan's PzIII got overconfident and paid the price. Kaleb got the credit for that one.

Colin had worked his PzIII around the Russian left and now had a nice line of fire on a couple of the T34s.

An aggressive push by the Russians put Colin under pressure. meanwhile my tank, despite being shaken by a couple of hits, managed to knock out Caesar's PzIII.

We called time on the game after that; two German tanks faced four still active and confident T34s, so we reasoned they'd quit.

People were keen to try some later war models in a second game. Or, at least, heavier tanks; I picked a KV1 of some kind; not that hot in terms of a gun relative to other tanks on the table, but a nice-looking model.

The other three Russian players had T34/85s. Opposing them were three Germans, running two Panthers and a Tiger I. Unfortunately we set up the terrain badly, and tanks had a clear line of sight from the first turn. This saw a Panther knocked out on its baseline.

The same happened on the other flank; my KV1 managed to line up a well-aimed shot against the other Panther, and destroy it. This left Kaleb's Tiger facing four Russian tanks. We closed in.

I got a hull-down position on its flank, although its Heavy Armour ability meant that this wasn't too much of an advantage.

Bryan and Ralph closed in from the front, using some ruins as cover. Kaleb engaged them, but couldn't make any shots count. The Russian shots bounced off his hull.

Caesar did a mad dash and got in close, but still couldn't knock out the German monster.

It was Bryan who finally got in a shot that knocked the Tiger out.

The second game was great for rolling handfuls of dice, but the terrain setup and initial placements meant that it wasn't as exciting in terms of manoeuvre.

We all had a great time with this game. It's not one for the WWII purists, but as a light game of tank on tank combat it has a lot to be said for it. managing the command dice, which dictate how you can move, aim and fire, gave each player a range of choices on their turn, and I suspect we were ahead of the curve in terms of outright kills, with the average game probably having more temporary or cumulative damage on vehicles. It certainly needs plenty of terrain, both to spoil spotting and shots and to block lines of sight entirely.

Obviously it looked great with the large vehicles, but there's no reason a game couldn't use much smaller models on a correspondingly smaller playing area.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Net Worth

I played some more retiarus/myrmillo/secutor bouts this morning, as part of my aim of playing out ten fights to see what the overall balance was like. In game terms I used the same gladiators in each bout, but swapped the figures around in order to make a more interesting blog post.

First up was a repeat performance from Valentinus and Mongo. Valentinus swiftly netted Mongo, and then ran him through with his trident. Quick and easy.

For the remaining five bouts I used an idea Victor is playing with of limiting each to ten turns and calling it a draw if it timed out. Draws seemed to be a more common occurrence during some periods of the games, but games tend not to reflect this. I have a mechanism in testing for forcing one when gladiators are exhausted, but Victor's change ends fights regardless of the state of the gladiators. I amended it to make it variable; at the end of the tenth turn and each turn thereafter you roll a D6 and on a 5+ the bout is ended. This prevents any 'Last Turn Syndrome'.

Anyway, for this set of bouts I started the retiarius was Rodan and was opposed by Astinax. In the first game Astinax easily outfought Rodan, who rolled terribly for Action Points, and wounded him to the point where he was forced to seek mercy from the crowd. The refight saw neither gladiator wounded and ended in a draw after ten turns, despite plenty of action.

I switched to Cupido vs Pugnax for the next fight. Cupido got in an early trident hit on Pugnax, which gave him the edge.

The fight went on well past the ten-turn limit. Towards the end Cupido lost both his net and trident, but he recovered. He managed to get hold of the net, then trip up the myrmillo. This gave him time to retrieve his trident as well and force Pugnax him to appeal to the crowd, who granted him mercy.

Finally I matched Thalia the retiarius against Fabia.

Fabia got the initiative early on in their first bout and quickly ran Thalia through with a critical hit.

The second bout lasted longer, but still saw Thalia defeated.

Overall, after ten bouts, the retiarius won two, lost five and three bouts were draws. I might need to experiment a bit more with various matchups to see if there is a disadvantage to being a light gladiator. As I see it at the moment, the biggest issue is that a light gladiator is less able to translate their agility to defence than a heavy gladiator is to simply block damage with armour.

Balancing games. I love it.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Thursday DBA

We had a DBA evening yesterday, partially because Caesar wanted to try out his newly-based Landsknecht pike. However he was running late, so Ian (who had to leave early) and I started with a Meso-American game, with Aztecs fighting Maya.

The Aztecs (right) have a core of hordes, whilst the Maya (left) are mostly auxilia. Both armies support their core with blades and psiloi.

The Maya defended their jungle home, but Ian, going for a quick result, still opted to charge and meet the Aztecs in the middle.

Feathers started to fly. There were a lot of feathers.

With blades fighting in the centre, and the Aztec hordes on the flank, the battle-lines quickly broke up through pursuits. The Aztecs have fast blades, compared to the solid blades of the Maya, so they found their centre gradually pushed back. meanwhile their hordes enjoyed an initial success against the lighter Maya troops, but, of course, as they advanced they found themselves surrounded and cut down. Fortunately, whilst that reduced the number of Aztec sandals on the ground, hordes don't count as losses for victory purposes.

The Aztecs fell back, and reorganised their line. They had now reached a gully in which they'd initially deployed.

The Maya continued to push forward. Normally an element will not pursue into bad going, but gullies and marshes are, for some reason, an exception to this. The Mayan general rashly pursued the Aztec shock-troops (warband) he'd been fighting.

This left him at an incredible disadvantage, overlapped, in bad terrain and fighting an element that just had to beat him to destroy him. The result was inevitable - the Mayan general was slain, and that broke the rest of the army.

Caesar had now arrived, so we shifted geographically, but not temporally, and he pitted his Medieval Germans against my Late Swiss. Our armies were not quite historical matches; my Swiss are early 15th century, whereas his Germans are more late 15th century. But it was good enough.

Caesar defended, and we ended up with a dense forest in one corner. Stupidly I decided that I could use it to my advantage, and ended up with half of my army stuck in it. Caesar deployed ploughed fields for the rest of his terrain; they didn't turn to mud, leaving the rest of the battlefield flat and open.

We advanced towards each other. Caesar used his hand-gunners to slow the advance of my troops out of the woods. I deployed my pikes in a single rank in order to better face the enemy knight-wedges. Again, with hindsight, I would have been better off double-ranking them.

The knights charged the pikes, but were driven back.

The landsknecht attacked my other flank and quickly gained the upper-hand. This was probably due to their confusing me by fighting under a Bernese flag.

My halberdier blocks were quickly surrounded, and rolled over by the mercenary pikes.

A second charge by the knights saw my pikes break, and gave Caesar the win.

Swiss troops trapped in the woods.

We used the same armies for a second game. Again Caesar defended and again we had a battlefield of woods and fields. This time I placed Caesar's army between two woods. This allowed me a chance to concentrate my pikes against his knights, whilst hitting his pikes with my blades. The latter would generally lose, but this would draw the pikes forward where I could surround and destroy them. meanwhile i could work some of my blades through the woods and onto his flanks.

In fact it didn't work out that way at all. Caesar rolled a '1' for his first PIP score, which meant that it had rained and turned the fields to a sea of mud. Both armies were now disadvantaged in a number of areas, losing rear support on the pikes and the knights' ability to ride down enemy troops.

The Swiss attacked, hitting the Landsknechts as they crossed a dry patch between the two fields.

This drew them forward into the mud, where they were quickly disadvantaged against the looser Swiss troops.

On the far right the Swiss crossbowmen neutralised the German artillery, whilst the rest of their army surrounded the German pike-blocks.

Whilst the other Swiss flank pushed forward against the German knights, secure that they wouldn't be ridden down in the mud, the German general was surrounded in the corner of a muddy field by Swissh halberdiers and crossbowmen.

He died in a ditch.

The mud was a game-changer for this battle, seriously hampering the Germans, whilst still allowing the Swiss to use their blades effectively.

All three games were great fun, and really showed what a great set of rules DBA has become.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Valentinus and Mongo

I switched to some different models for a quick Munera Sine Missione test game this evening - the retiarius Valentinus and the myrmillo Mongo. I had planned to use the half an hour I had to run through a couple of games, but the one bout filled most of it, and the two fighters danced from one end of the arena to the other. Valentinus tired more quickly; he was able to keep at a range and make constant net and trident attacks, whilst Mongo couldn't close fast enough to get in a good strike with his sword. He was netted once, but struggled free and, when netted again, sliced the net to pieces, rendering it useless. Valentinus managed to get around his unshielded side and cause a nasty wound, but neither gladiator could finish the other off. In the end I had to create a rule on the fly for the referee ending the bout if both gladiators are exhausted, which I will look at developing further to cover exhausted gladiators accruing more fatigue knowing that there will be no additional penalties.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


Thanks to some prompting from Victor, I got out my gladiators this evening, for the first time in well over a year. It was a reminder that, as always, there's still more tinkering to be done with 'Munera Sine Missione'; in this case it was to try out some thoughts Victor has on how weapons with a long reach work.

My usual test with any changes is to run through a few bouts between a Retiarius and a Secutor type; if the matchup gives a 50/50 split of wins then it's probably all good.

So here are Medusa the Retiarius and Achillia the Myrmillo. I ran though four bouts this evening. I would have done more, but we binged a pile of Gotham episodes, I had to print off a copy of the rules and, I admit, I played slowly because I'd forgotten how the game worked. Still, it's like riding a bike. Or I assume it is; I never really got the hang of bike-riding.

Strangely after even four bouts I'm beginning to think Victor's change has merit. However poor Medusa didn't do too well; in two bouts she was knocked down and had to appeal to the crowd (who failed to spare her) and in one bout she was simply killed outright. This was mostly due to utterly appaling rolls for Action Points on her part, combined with good ones on the part of Achillia. That, and the fact that if Medusa did manage an attack, she promptly tripped over doing it. The fourth bout saw her badly wounded but putting up an incredible fight, netting Achillia and running rings around her. But Achillia rolled armour saves like a woman possessed, and Medusa couldn't manage to finish her before exhaustion set in. Achillia had trouble cutting free of the net, and eventually her wounds saw her exhausted as well, so the referee called it a draw.

I'll try a few more games tomorrow evening if I get chance.

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