Friday, 22 June 2018


On a cold winter's night there's nothing better than a couple of games of HOTT. So it's a good job I had a couple last night. I played Geoff, and he used my boring  bog-standard High Elves. I used The Spawn of Tiamat.

Here's the first game. I defended and did a weighted attack on Geoff's left.

It was a fairly quick game. Geoff's line of shooters and spears was a tough nut to crack, but a couple of lucky combats destroyed his archers, and then a second charge by the various elements I had classified as knights destroyed his spear general to win the game.

Geoff defended in the second game, and chose to run his mounted as riders rather than knights. I attacked his left again, and despite their position on the hill got an advantage over the Elven cavalry.

Meanwhile my chaotic beasts worked their way around his other flank, hiding in the woods to avoid the accurate Elven archery.

Unfortunately from that point onwards it all fell apart. Geoff had his Elf Prince hero in reserve, and took out my hero (Tiamat's consort, Qingu), before destroying my right flank.

His spear-line pushed forward, engaging Tiamat herself.

My beasts put up a valiant fight on my left, and Tiamat managed to ensorcell the enemy hero as well. Both armies were hovering on the verge of breaking, when Geoff lined up a fantastic set of combats and destroyed 7AP of my army in one turn, including Tiamat herself. With an undeployed dragon in my army, the 18AP I lost meant I had a single beast on the board. I think this is possibly the largest defeat I've eve had in a game of HOTT, although the 18-10 scoreline testified to a bloody game.

So, one game each. Not a bad evening.

Meanwhile others were playing Black Powder in 15mm, in preparation for a Waterloo game on Sunday.

And Gary and Caesar played Maurice -- Austrians and Ottomans.

Gary was trying out an experimental activation mechanism, using sub-commanders, which allowed multiple groups to activate during a turn. It looks like it was mostly successful, although the size of the game meant that they didn't finish the battle by the end of the evening.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Whalley Again

This evening I played through a refight of the Battle of Whalley using the Portable Wargame. I used the same troop classifications as the previous game,  but with a few changes to the setup and the rules.

Firstly I shifted the map up one row so that the Parliamentarian right flank wasn't so exposed. Secondly I started the two Royalist units facing the wall with a hit each. Finally I made two changes to the actual rules. The first one was that I used the Average line on the hit results for all troop; 1-3 the unit takes the hit, 4-6 they can retreat or take the hit. I'll discuss this below. Secondly I reflected quality by varying the number of hits a unit could take; Poor units took one less and Elite one more. This was factored into the Exhaustion Levels as well. Finally I added a small change to the initiative roll; if the score is a double, then the side which eventually gains initiative was allowed to recover one hit on a unit of their choice. I rather liked the idea of a double having an effect. Again I'll discuss this below.

So this was the setup. The fields were just for show; the key terrain consists of the villages, hills river, bridge, ford and wall.

The Royalists got a rally on the first turn, removing the initial hit from their rather poor dragoons. After a brief exchange of fire at the wall, the Royalist troops fell back across the stream to await reinforcements.

On the other flank the horse of both sides met at the stream.

The Royalists pushed forward boldly, since their troops had the edge in terms of quality.

They were forced back, though. Both sides lost a unit, but the Parliamentarian horse was better supported. Parliament pushed forward against the retreating Royalist foot and horse.

The Royalists best foot unit was badly mauled in the attack, and sought shelter in a village on their side of the stream. But the rest of the Royalist army stabilised their position, and with the pressure mounting, the parliamentarians fell back to the safety of the walls. The Royalists followed up.

The clubmen attacked an elite parliamentarian foot regiment in the flank. This was a bold move that rapidly came unstuck, as the regiment simply turned and shot the hapless peasants down. next time theyll learn to attack with support.

Despite their lack of quality, the Parliamentarian horse drove forward with panache, and eventually routed the other unit of Royalist horse. This pushed the Royalists over the Exhaustion Point, stopping their attack.

The Royalists started to fall back to their side of the stream, but Parliament pressed them hard.

The Royalist dragoons were routed at the ford (far distance in this picture) and at that point I decided that the day belonged to Parliament.

This was a fun game, with a real to and fro to the action; the Royalists were pushed back at first, rallied and went on the offensive, but were then driven back again. Their best foot unit was savagely mauled early on, and they never got a chance to recover it, whilst their horse were totally outfought.

But let's discuss the changes to the rules. Firstly the change to the way units take hits. The current method does work. Poor units are more likely to take hits whilst better units have the option to avoid them by falling back. But  I found that this method didn't really feel right when one side was defending a position. In this case a retreat really isn't an option, so the effect of quality is almost irrelevant. One option was to add results which forced a retreat, making it more likely for Poor units to receive it. But I couldn't quite work out how to build it into the table in a way that made sense. But the rules themselves include an option for changing the number of hits a unit could take. Combined with the retreat rules this makes Elite units rather too good; an extra hit and less chance of taking hits in the first place. But with all units getting stand and take a hit or retreat equally, then the extra hit a unit was allowed makes a difference. It didn't seem to adversely affect this game, and I'll try it again in some more I think.

The second change simply makes use of doubles for the initiative roll. I should say that I don't like wasted rolls, where you simply roll again until you get a result.. One option was to automatically give the initiative to whichever side didn't have it in the previous round. But I opted for the rallying off of a single hit instead, as it seems more dramatic. One downside is that it doesn't connect too well with the Exhaustion Point rules, as a side opposing one which has reached its Exhaustion Point, and which can't take offensive action, could simply pull back and recover all hits before going in again. Maybe playing games to a turn limit would mitigate this. I think I'll try that in future games. A final thought on the rallying is to go back to the original system where a side reaches its Exhaustion Point based simply on hits taken, rather than units lost. With rallying this allows a side to possibly recover from exhaustion, but there's still the danger that a good run of combats along a line of battle could break a side very early on in a game. This was, in fact, the reason I shifted to basing things on lost units.

Anyway, plenty of ideas to explore, which means more games I guess.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Battle of Whalley

With one thing and another it's been a while since I set up a miniatures game at home, so I thought I'd make an effort this weekend. I felt the urge to have a go at a Portable Wargame, so I got out my paper ECW armies again, and played through a scenario based on this scenario for the 1643 Battle of Whalley.

I used an 8x8 grid, with forces as follows:


1 x Commander (Colonel Shuttleworth)
1 x Elite Pike & Shot (Shuttleworth's Foot)
1 x Average Pike & Shot (Brereton's Foot)
1 x Average Dragoons
2 x Poor Gallopers


1 x Commander (Earl of Derby)
1 x Average Pike & Shot (Molyneux's Foot)
1 x Elite Pike & Shot (Tyldesley's Foot)
1 x Raw Pike & Shot (Fylde's Clubmen) - This unit cannot fire and starts with a Strength of 3
1 x Average Trotters (Derby's Horse)
1 x Average Gallopers (Houghton's Horse)

This is an encounter and the scenario starts with both sides partially inactive and the Royalists especially at a disadvantage, surprised by the sudden appearance of Parliamentarian foot from behind  a stone wall to their front. I started with this setup; Royalist foot and dragoons facing Parliametarian foot behind a wall, whilst the bulk of the Royalists were back towards their baseline.

I gave the two Parliamentarian units behind the wall a free shot, and then started the first turn. However on the first turn, only the four units nearest the wall could activate. On Turn 2 all Parliamentarian units could activate as normal. Royalist units had to dice, and were available on a 1-3. On Turn 3 all units on both sides move and activate normally.

The initial Parliamentarian surprise didn't seem to impress the Royalists much; the Royalists simply fell back so that they could regroup with the rest of their force.

The Parliamentarian horse moved forward.

They crossed the stream, and were engaged by their Royalist counterparts.

Meanwhile the Royalist foot formed up on their side of the stream, ready to take the fight to the Parliamentarians ensconced behind the wall.

The advanced, with the dragoons and clubmen swinging around the flank.

Meanwhile more Royalist foot had driven Parliament's dragoons back away from the farm covering their army's left flank.

The Royalist dragoons finished them off.

The cavalry action was also going the Royalists' way; one unit of Parliamentarian horse routed ...

... and then the other.

This now left the Parliamentarian foot holding off the Royalists. They held out for a while, but there was little they could do.

A Royalist push saw one of the units break, ending the battle.

The Royalists had a few units that had taken hits, but didn't lose any.

Once again I ran the Exhaustion Point based on units lost, not just hits inflicted, and whilst I counted a Commander as 6SP for calculating Exhaustion, loss of a Commander didn't count towards the break-point.

If I ran the battle again I think I would simply start both of the units in front of the wall with a strength point lost, and then proceed with Turn 1 from there. Also Parliament's right flank was probably too open, making it very easy for the Royalists to turn it, so a slight shift in the map might work. However the rules gave a perfectly fine game, and that's what's important. It felt good to be pushing lead around on a Saturday afternoon, even if the lead is paper.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Maurice Campaign - Round 2

JohnP and I finally managed to get together an play our outstanding Maurice campaign game last night. It was a cobbled together affair; John doesn't own an army, but uses figures borrowed from Caesar. Caesar couldn't make it, so dropped off the figures at my place during the afternoon. Neither of us own a deck of cards, so Peter provided those. And I have a fast turnaround on a Thursday evening these days, and am prone to forgetting things. Which, in this case, meant my army list and my phone. I managed to reconstruct my list (and the casualties from the previous game) from memory, and John obligingly took a few photos on his phone.

Still, on with the game.

The war didn't end after the first round, something both I (The Electorate of Haapasaard-Skando) and John (The Irish mercenaries of Cearbhall's Cataphracts) had hoped for. Both of our armies had mauled each other badly in their first encounter, and consisted mostly of conscript troops. The old enemies faced each other the plains of En y Bold, with the Irish defending this time.

As I said above, there aren't many photos. John concentrated his force on his left flank, where the objective was, so I massed my cavalry, put them in column and swung them around his right, with my Cossacks lurking in some woods. The infantry were to pin the Irish from the front. 

It was a good plan. John responded by bringing his heavily outnumbered cavalry over, and most of the photos are of that getting a thorough beating. 

One Irish unit did break through the Swedish cavalry line, but the Cossacks dealt with it. Unfortunately this cost me time and cards, and I ended up badly coordinating my strong cavalry presence with the infantry, who were now too far back from the battle to be useful.

In a bold move, John pulled his infantry right back, turning it to face the Swedish horse, and their musketry steadily annihilated them. My attention was focused on pushing the infantry up in support, whilst replenishing my cards which had been depleted by the cavalry action. As my cavalry slowly disappeared the Swedish infantry engaged first the Irish artillery and then their infantry rearguard. The damage was done though; the two wings of the Swedish army were too far apart to support each other, and casualties were mounting quickly. The Cossacks attacked an exposed Irish infantry flank, but two charges failed to break the line. One round of shooting saw the Swedes pull back; the Irish failed to inflict any serious casualties, whilst the Swedes routed the centre of the Irish infantry line and came close to breaking one of the Guard units as well. Both armies were teetering on the brink, but it was the Irish who broke one more Swedish cavalry unit to win the battle.

Neither army saw much in the way of post-battle promotions. In fact the Swedes saw nothing. But this battle saw the Ottoman/Swedish/Austrian alliance sue for peace, ending the first war. This means, I believe, that all of our conscript troops (the bulk of the Swedish army now) get to be trained for the next battle.

It was unfortunate that I hadn't brought my phone; there were three other games on the go whist John and I were playing. Dave and Geoff played HOTT, Peter and Ralph played Black Powder Napoleonics with 15mm figures and, finally, Ian and Gary had another go with the WRG 1685-1845 rules (another Napoleonics game)

Monday, 11 June 2018

Fairy Tale In My Pocket

Fairy Tale In My Pocket is a re-skin of Zombie In My Pocket, although it does change the rules around a little bit as well. In this game the you are a hero in a fairy-tale kingdom. The Princess is about to marry the Prince. Except only you know the truth; the Princess has been replaced by an evil impostor, and the real Princess is under an enchantment, asleep in a hidden cottage in the forest. You must find the Princess, wake her with a magic rose from the rose-garden then travel with her back to the kingdom and present her at the castle before the wedding takes place at sunset. Easy.

The mechanisms are the same as ZimP - you move from tile to tile in the first area (in this case the Forest), and on each draw a card to see what you encounter. When the card deck runs out you reshuffle it and time advances. The game runs  for three passes through the deck. You start at a lake, and must find the Rose garden and Cottage tiles in order to wake the Princess. Then you must find and/or travel to the Forest/kingdom Path tiles, enter the Kingdom and find the castle where you can stop the wedding.

Here's the game set up. The art is charming, although I think the location tiles are a little murky and hard to read.

Here I am on my quest. I used a spare 15mm figure as a marker.

I found the rose fairly quickly, and even managed to acquire a shield. One change in this game is that you don't just stumble across items; you encounter a peddler instead, who has a random selection of items for you to purchase. The game adds a Gold attribute which you use to buy the items. Gold can be gained by opting to help people in some of the encounters (which costs you time).

Here's the end of the first stage of the game; I had awoken the Princess (who joins you and adds to your combat score), acquired a cat wearing boots (another increase in my combat score) and even helped Snow White find the cottage of the seven dwarves (for a generous cash reward). And I was now on the path out of the forest and into the Kingdom with a reasonable amount of time to spare.

A good first game. I walked straight into the castle and stopped the wedding before the second deck had ended.

My second game went less well. I wandered the forest for ages finding both the path out and the sleeping Princess, but unable to track down the Rose Garden, which was at the bottom of the deck. Fortunately I started the game with some Seven league Boots - you start with one of three magical items - which meant that I could teleport to any other tile on the board.

I used the boots to get me back to the Cottage and wake the Princess, but then we spent forever crossing the Kingdom, ad failed to get to the castle before the wedding took place. Like the Rose Garden, it was also at the bottom of the deck.

So, one win and one loss.

This is a fun little game; the look of it instantly gives it a different feel to the Zombie version, and the slight rule changes add to the character and make for some slightly different decisions. I do like games that re-skin like this; it allows you to enjoy a game for the mechanisms whilst setting it in a background in which you can have an investment. BGG has a number of versions, ranging from the original Zombie setup, to Aliens, this Fairy Tale one, and even one where you are a paratrooper knocking out a German bunker on D-Day. They're all worth a look.

Did I say the art was charming?

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