Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Star League - Week 9

Standings after 9 games

With their easy 4-0 victory over the Betelguesans, the Canopans clinched the Galactic division and have earned the right to play for the Star Cup against the Stellar Division champion. With a 2-1 victory over the Fomalians, he Geminids took a step to being the Canopans' opponent.

Week 9 Games
Denebians vs. Antarens - in the first game of the week, the Denebians stayed in the championship hunt with a tight 1-0 overtime victory

Canopans vs. Betelguesans - in the next game, the Canopans ended Denebian hopes with their division-clinching victory.

Hydrans vs. Electrans - once again good goaltending helped the Electrans to victory.

Geminids v s. Fomalians - the best goalkeeping performance came in the most important game of the week. The Geminids and Fomalians came into the game tied for first. In the first half, the Fomalians peppered their opponent's goal, but could only manage 1 score. The Geminids came to life in the 2nd half, scoring twice for the victory. The Gemind goalie recorded 17 saves to ensure the victory.

And on a blog-related note, this is the 17th post of the month - a new Warwell monthly record (largely due to the Star League).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Redgrave Raid

With my 6mm huscarles complete, I've been itching to see them in action. One problem - I have no 6mm terrain. I tried my hills and they'l work, but I'll need new trees and houses. Fortunately, I had some bump chenille lying around, so I whipped up a few trees and I was ready for a quick scenario.

I have 2 inspirations for this battle. First is Dux Britanniarum, the Dark Ages rules set by Too Fat Lardies. The campaign system features one of the post-Roman kingdoms fending off Saxon attacks. My plan is to have Redgravian raiders attacking the decrepit Empire. My second inspiration was this beach battle from the TV show Vikings. My plan for the scenario was to have the raiders trying to get back to their ship but they are blocked by Imperial forces. However, I don't have beach terrain so I used what I had. Well, I had some new trees so I had to use some of those too!

Here is the opening set up. Ragnar and his raiders had just successfully sacked several villages and were on their way back to their boats, laden with plunder. They crested a hill to find an Imperial force, led by Count Delaus, blocking their path. Unbeknownst to Ragnar, Lord Flavius had a band of spearmen lying in ambush in the woods.
Ragnar spies the Imperials
 Wary of the woods, Ragnar shifted to his right. Sir Marius advanced with his band against Ragnar. Delaus preferred to bide his time, remaining motionless while Marius advanced. On the Imperial right, Lord Flavius grew impatient and began to chase after the raiders who were moving away from the woods.
Ragnar shifts right
 With a yell, Ragnar's left-flank band charged down the hill toward Flavius's troops.
 There is a desperate struggle, but Flavius held his ground. The charging Redgravians were cut down to a man. Meanwhile, on the left, Marius grew nervous without support from his commanders. He drew back so he would not be completely outflanked. Ragnar pursued and brought Marius to battle.
Flavius holds his ground while Marius is beset.
 Marius launched himself into the fray. His inspired men took heart and they cut down their foe.
Ragnar's band suffers casualties
 Ragnar's other bands advanced but could not come to grips before Marius struck down the enemy commander.
Ragnar falls!
 With an enemy band directly in front of him, Count Delaus finally moved forward to engage while Lord Flavius smashed into the enemy flanks. At the same time, Marius engaged the raiders on the flank.
The Imperials wiping up the raiders.
 Delaus and Flavius wiped out their opponent. The remaining raiders gave up on trying to reach their ship and fled into the countryside.
The End
Despite his cowardice in refusing to advance against the enemy at numerous occasions, Count Delaus secured an impressive victory (largely due to the stellar efforts of Flavius and Marius). Most of the plunder was recovered and Delaus's reputation at court has skyrocketed.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Finished a Project! (Sort of)

On a whim a week ago, I ordered a pack of Baccus 6mm Saxon huscarles. Today, I finshed a super quickie paint and basing job, and here are the results.

Redgravian raiders
Imperial spearmen
My camera cannot take good close-ups, which is probably a good thing because I did a very rudimentary paint job. I primed both sides in dark gray and then slapped on the armor color. I used silver on the Imperials but then decided to go fancy with gold armor for the Redgravian raiders. It's not particularly accurate for a medieval inspired army, but hey this is an imagi-nation. It also lets the Redgravians stand out more from their adversaries. I then painted the shields - white for the Imperials and Red for the Redgravians. Next I was going to paint faces and spear shafts, but with my bad eyes I could not really see that detail from table level so I skipped it. I then based them on green-painted wood rectangles from Michael's.

Overall, I'm satisfied with the result. Sure, they're not particularly pretty, but they are ready for a game in a week! You may have noticed that I usually dawdle with my painting projects. The ease of speed painting has convinced me to move back to 6mm. I just placed an order for several packs of Baccus's American Revolutionary War miniatures in addition to some Norman knights and archers to complete my medieval Francesian armies.

I plan to make one change to my basing. The huscarles were based one strip to a stand but in the future I'll use 2 infantry strips to a stand. I think that will give each infantry unit a bit more impressive mass.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What's Old is New Again

When I discussed my miniatures history a few months back, I mentioned that I once had some 15mm and 10mm figures before I scaled down to 6mm (technically 5mm). Recently, I picked up some Baccus 6mm and gave them a quickie paint job. I'm sold on Baccus. Once again, I'll be scaling down a bunch of projects to 6mm.

What this means is that I have some extraneous lead sitting around, which I'll be selling off. This includes my 10mm 100 Years War, 15mm Vikings, and 15mm War of the Spanish Succession, and miscellaneous Historifigs N-gauge. Sales will be announced once I do an inventory,

My Kallistra 100 Years War collection has SOLD. Thanks!

Star League - Week 8

Standings after 8 games

The Canopans have a 2-game lead in the Galactic Division. They only need 1 win or a Denebian loss to clinch the division title. Meanwhile, there is a tight race between the Fomalians and Geminids in the Stellar Division. The Electrans have fallen back and would need a miracle to take the division.

Week 8 Games
The theme for the week was blowouts. Three of the four games were won by 4 or more goals.

The "best" game of the week was between the visiting Electrans and the Geminids. The Geminids managed a 1-0 overtime victory. The game itself wasn't really that close; the Geminids outshot their opponent 19-1 but the Electran's excellent keeper kept the score close.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Star League Standings - Week 7

Here are the standings after 7 weeks of league play.

The Canopans have a comfortable lead in the Galactic Division while there is a tight, 3-team race in the Stellar Division. The final 3 weeks will feature intra-division games so there will be some important match-ups.

Week 7 games
Hydrans at Antarens - a tense 3-2 overtime victory for the Hydrans. All goals in regulation came off counterattacks after the defense stole the ball.

Electrans at Betelguesans - the Electran goalie continued his excellent play; shutting out the Betelguesans. The Electran offense came through, scoring early in the 2nd half for the game-winner.

Fomalians at Canopans - an easy 5-1 victory for the Canopans.

Geminids at Denedians - a tough battle between two division contenders. Early in the 2nd half, the Geminids scored on a rebound. They held a 1-0 lead in the closing seconds of the game. After a series of back and forth actions, the Denebians stole the ball, shot and scored. Both sides managed a shot in overtime, but no one could score. In the shootout*, the Geminds scored in the final round to win the game. The win kept the Geminids in a tie for the division lead while the Denebians fell 2 games behind the Canopans.

* For simplicity, I just use the Shot table for the shootout, which leads to very few scores.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

GADD Again

I'm suffering some more Gamer's Attention Deficit Disorder when it comes to prepping troops for gaming.

I noticed that the Kaptain Kobold over at The Stronghold Rebuilt is moving away from 6mm figures to paper minis for one of his projects. Ironically, I am contemplating doing the reverse for my medieval project.

When I last mentioned it, I had built up two paper mini armies for battles between medieval Redgrave and the Empire. I just never got around to using them (I don't like how the stands came out but I'm too lazy to fix them. As a result I have not been inspired to play a game). Well, on a whim, I decided to order a pack of Baccus Miniatures 6mm Saxon huscarles. So far, I like what I see. The figures are easily recognizable, nicely proportioned, and with nearly non-existent flash, I primed the pack and will try a quickie paint job. I'll post some pictures once I get more done.

Boardless Francesia

After months of putting it off, I am making plans for the next battle in the Grayrock Revolution. I decided I would do it using my latest boardless system. As part of the new system, I wanted some e-flats that I could paste onto the board. Over to Junior General I went, where I found some generic 18th century top down counters. With a little effort, I had the beginnings of forces for Grayrock, Bluderia, Greenglade, and Redgrave.

Here is my handiwork (adapted from Junior General):


When I started setting up the battlefield in Excel, however, I realized that the stands were too big but when shrunk the figures were not visible. Oh well, they weren't going to work. Instead, I just used basic shapes to represent differing terrain and troop types, which were pasted onto the shaded grid.

Here is the battlefield in Excel.

The long, thin rectangles are infantry; the smaller, fatter rectangles are cavalry; the rounded rectangles are militia, the four really small rectangles are light infantry (it's actually a dotted line); circles represent generals (the black circle is General "Black" Bart Blackwell reunited with the army after his escape from Grayrock City); triangles are artillery; and the stars represent reserve points. The Bluderian center is a camp (complete with buildings and a fence) while woods and a hill lay on the flanks.

I decided to expand the battlefield slightly. There is now a space of no-man's land between the armies; the attacker will have to risk an artillery bombardment while approaching the enemy. I also added a square on each side to allow for flanking maneuvers.

I'm dabbling with rules based on the game Viktory II. Here is an outline of my version of the rules:

Sequence of Play
  1. Initiative - roll D6 per side. Winner can attack or pass
  2. Command - roll D6 + Command Rating (-2 to +2) for attacker
    • 1-3 may only activate 1 wing
    •  4-5 may only activate 2 wings
    • 6 may activate 3 wings
  3. Movement - may move 1 space into a square without enemy troops
  4. Combat - adjudicate per wing
    • Bombard - roll D6 per artillery unit. Hit on 5-6 (may fire 2 squares)
    • Skirmishing - roll D6 per light inf unit. Hit on 5-6 (may only fire 1 square)
    • Check casualties - roll 4-6 to shake off hit (+1 if general in square, -1 if militia). 
      • Remove 1 unit per remaining hit
    • Assault - roll D6+mods per unit. Hit on 4-6
    • Pursuit - roll D6+mods per cavalry in open. Hit on 4-6
    • Check casualties - roll 4-6 to shake off hit (+1 if general in square, -1 if militia). 
      • Remove 1 unit per remaining hit
      • Advance - attacking wing may move into square if enemy eliminated
  • -1 to roll if attacking defensible terrain
  • May expend 1 reserve point to re-roll an attack.
I won't get a game in this weekend but I hope to run it soon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Star League Report - Geminds @ Antarens

My first game using my new dice-rolling method resulted in a dramatic contest. The 3-2 Geminds were visiting the 1-4 Antarens. Given their records and respective ratings (below), I expected an easy Gemind victory. The new method created a greater degree of variability, which made for a much closer game than I expected.

The ratings
Team  Forwards      Backs        Goal        Total
Geminids 5 2 4 11
Antarens 3 4 2 9

Game report
After an opening day win, the Antarens had been reeling from 4 straight losses. Would they turn their fortunes around against the 3-2 Geminids? It looked so early in the first half. The Antarens took control of the ball, moved it expertly upfield, found an opening, and slammed home a goal. Antarens had the lead 1-0. It did not last long, however, as the Geminids managed their own attack and tied the score. Through the rest of the half both sides battled back and forth with no real advantage to either side.

The Antarens got off to a hot start in the second half. They pushed forward and managed a shot. The Geminid goalie made the save but shortly thereafter the Antarens got the ball back and shot. GOAL. The Antarens now had a 2-1 advantage.

Once again, the Antarens could not hold the lead as the Geminids scored again. 2-2 tie. The Geminds began to press the Antaren defense. They managed another shot, but the Antaren goalie made the save. As time was winding down, the Antarens went back on the offensive. They got the shot off, but the ball was deflected. A Geminid player grabbed it, pushed upfield. After a series of deft passes, the Geminids had an opening. They shot. GOAL!

With the last second goal, the Geminids managed to squeak out a 3-2 comeback victory.

Team                Possessions     Shots     Goals
Geminids                 5               3            3
Antarens                  4               2            2

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Star League Experiments

I did a little tinkering with the Star League rules (originally the Quick Play soccer rules). Some of the experiments:

Alter the shot table to make goals easier to score
This change made it became TOO easy, especially for the better team. I played one week and routs were common. I threw away the results and restored the table to its original state.

Increased the chances to 6 per half.
It helped a little but games seemed too long (especially mismatches that ended in routs). I played one week with 6 chances, then pared it back to 5, which seems to be a good number.

Change the dice rolling convention
The Quick Play Soccer (QPS) rules call for rolling 3D6s, looking for "passes" (numbers <= the applicable rating). This meant that the team with the better offense tended to dominate and the weaker team rarely even managed to get a shot off. I needed a system that created more randomness. I could use the original QPS system that included a Chance table (rather than going straight to midfield), but that seemed too random when I first played.

I previously mentioned using a De Bellis Antiquitatis system and I decided to experiment with that. I reduced all ratings by 2 (so they ranged from 0 to 3). A chance would involve rolling D6 + rating for each side and comparing the rolls. Keeping the QPS tables, I used the ratio of the rolls to indicate the difference in passes. For example, a tie was = 0; a ratio between 1 and 2 (exclusive) was = 1; from 2 (inclusive) to 3 (exclusive) was = 2; 3 or more was = 3.

This system created more variability in who attained control of the ball, leading to more even games overall. In fact, the first game I played was a tense, 3-2 game (more on that later). Goals scored went to 1.5 per game (from 0.9) although that is only based on one week of results. I think this change works, and I'll be continuing with it for the rest of the season.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Some Inspiration

While thinking about making troop type distinctions in my board-less wargame, I recalled a post in David Cook's A Wargaming Odyssey about a grand tactical game. The idea was that multiple troop types could inhabit a hex and that combat between troops in a hex would be resolved in steps, skirmishers first, then artillery, then infantry and cavalry. At the time, I commented that the process sounded very much like that used in the board game Viktory II.

I think that such a system could work for my boardless game. Combat would stretch out more, which is what I want (my original experiment actually seemed too short). I have experimented with Viktory inspired rules before but they seemed too bloody. For a super quick-play set of rules, bloody is good. I may have to experiment.

On another note, I am thinking of playing an occasional board-less wargame on a board, I would use a stand to represent a morale point. Terrain would be fairly abstract. I may pull out some of my 2mm stands. I then recalled some battle reports on A Wargaming Odyssey where the poster used blocks (e.g. this report). I may make up some blocks of my own, although I may use some Junior General top-down paper minis.

Another Templar adventure

Continuing with the theme of board-less gaming, I completed a short session of my solo sci-fi RPG. You can find a report at my Tales of the Templars blog.

Star League - Weeks 3-4

Over the past week I managed to complete 2 weeks of Star League games. Here are the standings with stats so far:

Standings after 4 games
There weren't any really outstanding games in either week so I'm not going to bother with a game report. However, it is interesting perusing the standings. The most interesting case is the 3-1 Electrans, who have scored zero goals this season! Their goalie is just so awesome that the opponent cannot score against them. Thus, they have been in, and won, three 0-0 penalty shootouts.

One stat that perturbs me is the 0.9 goals scored per team per game. I'd like to see that doubled. I was thinking of rolling randomly to determine the chances per game but now I'm thinking of upping it to a straight 6. The other issue is that it is hard to score even when a team has a chance. There is an average of 5 offensive possessions per game (this includes counterattacks) and a team gets off a shot 3.7 times per game (74% of offensive possessions) but only scores 0.9 times (18% per each possession and ~ 25% per shot). I think I want to increase the scoring odds as well.

So far, all 4 weeks were played with my version of the Quick Play soccer rules. I have some DBA inspired rules in mind but have not had a chance to experiment with them yet.

Board-less Experiment

This morning I did a quick experiment using the board-less wargame rules. The idea is to create a quick wargame that can be played on a computer or even on paper without having to set up a board with terrain. For this experiment, I created the game in Excel, complete with a dice-roller.

My boardless wargame Excel tracker.
The "board" on the left merely tracks Morale Points (there is no maneuvering on the board).
To the right is the dice-roller
I ran a simple battle to see how it worked. Both armies are identical and they meet on flat terrain (no mods). I randomly determined that Blue would be the attacker, although it did not make much difference in this game as there is no defensible terrain.

For simplicity, I am referencing left/right based on the direction on the screen (essentially from Red's point of view).

Battle Report:
I stood upon a hill to the rear of the Redgravian army as it met the Bluderian invaders on Flatbottom Valley. The Bluderians advanced quickly, determined to come to grips with their enemy. The two sides clashed. On my left, there was only desultory skirmishes. On the right, the Bluderians began making headway, but the center was an absolute disaster for their attack. There, the Redgravians stood like a stone wall, unwilling to give an inch. Their steady fire poured into the Bluderians, scything through the ranks. The Bluderian general tried to stabilize his attack by sending in reinforcements, but they were equally unsuccessful.

[Blue won on the right, but were doubled in the center. I spent a reserve point to re-roll but the result was the same - 2 morale points lost in the center.]

The Bluderians continued to push forward on the right and began to make progress on the left. In the center, the Redgravians smelled blood and began to advance. It looked like the Bluderians would collapse, but timely reserves staved off utter defeat, for the moment.

[Red won in the center again, but this time the re-roll resulted in a tie.]

The Redgravians counterattacked on the flanks and repulsed the Bluderians. A massive melee ensued in the center. With a final massive push, the Redgravians broke their opposition.

[Red initially won in the center. Blue used its last reserve point to re-roll and won. Red countered with its own reserve point and swung the fight back to its favor. With the loss, the Blue center was down to zero Morale Points. The center was lost]

The victorious Redgravian center turned upon the enemy on the right. Their arrival was just in the nick of time; the Redgravian flank was worn out and ready to break. The reserves turned the tide of battle, and the slowly but surely ground down the Bluderians. Meanwhile, neither side was able to make any progress on the left. Finally, the Bluderians on the right broke. Defeated, the Bluderian general called for a general retreat.

The Redgravians pursued, but the unbroken Bluderians on the left performed a skillful fighting retreat, preventing any further damage to their reeling army. Realizing the futility of further bloodshed, the Redgravian general called off the action, well pleased with his victory.

[Once Blue lost its second wing, they were forced to retreat. Red had a reserve point left so I allowed it to be used to pursue the enemy. Red got one shot at Blue, but lost, allowing the remaining Blue wing to escape unscathed].

The game is essentially an exercise in dice-rolling, but the use of Reserve Points to force a re-roll added an interesting bit of strategy to the game. As you can see from the battle report, there was a lot of back-and-forth, despite Blue's opening disaster in the center.

Nevertheless, the game felt a little off. Perhaps because it was over so quickly. I'm toying with ways to extend it. I have the sides roll initiative. The winning side gets a random number of command points (1-3) and can order that many wings. That way, not all wings will be rolling every turn. It will also introduce another decision-point.

Another issue is the lack of distinction between infantry, cavalry, and artillery. I'd like to add some rules that would take the different arms into consideration (e.g. preliminary bombardment, etc.)

Finally, I received some interesting suggestions in the comments to the original board-less wargaming post and I'll have to consider using some, even if I don't do EWC games.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Board-less Wargaming

Lately, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Quick Play “Soccer” (although I’m calling it gravball). I put the tables in Excel, created a dice roller, and have been playing it almost exclusively on the computer. I noticed that I will pop in and play a game or two in odd spare moments when I would not have time to set up a board game. This got me thinking – I wonder if I can create a board-less wargame.

I have experimented with “board-less” gaming before; actually it was more like a virtual board. I created my virtual board in Excel, using shapes as units and shading the squares to indicate terrain. The idea just never went anywhere. I guess that moving shapes was not as much fun as pushing miniatures on a board.

Now, however, I am thinking of developing an extremely quick-playing, board-less wargame that can be played using dice or on the computer. This will allow me to get some gaming in during the brief windows of spare time.

Here are my ideas so far:
  • Each army is formed of 3 wings (right, left, center).
    • It is assumed that the wings consist of combined arms.
  • The game assumes that the armies have completed their maneuvering and have come to grips. 
    • The 3 wings will engage (right vs. left, center vs. center, and left vs. right).
  • Each engagement will be resolved via dice – probably using De Bellis Antiquitatis style opposed die rolls.
    • Each wing has a combat value which is added to the die roll
  • Each wing has a certain number of morale points (typically 3).
    • Losing an engagement reduces morale points.
    • The wing routs if morale is reduced to 0.
  • Each army will have a certain number of Reserve Points. These can be used to re-do a die roll (simulating the arrival of reserves at a critical point).
  • An army loses when 2 of the 3 wings are routed.
  • Terrain:
    • I will probably add some pre-battle “maneuvering rolls” to determine if one side or the other receives favorable terrain
    • Attacking an enemy in defensible terrain will result in a negative modifier to the die roll.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Star League Standings

After 2 weeks

Team     Games      Played        Wins     Losses       Goals     Scored       Goals   Allowed  Goal Diff
Galactic Division          
Denebians 2 2 0 3 0 3
Canopans 2 1 1 4 2 2
Antarens 2 1 1 2 2 0
Betelguesans 2 0 2 0 5 -5

Stellar Division
Fomalians 2 2 0 6 2 4
Geminids 2 1 1 4 3 1
Electrans 2 1 1 0 2 -2
Hydrans 2 0 2 0 3 -3

Note: The Electrans won a game on penalty shots. They have 0 goals during regular play.

Star League Report - Fomalians vs. Geminids

This week two games went into overtime with one ending on penalty shots. The first was a rather boring 0-0 game but the Fomalians and Geminids provided an entertaining spectacle.

The opposing team stats were:

      Fwds      Backs      Goalie
  Fomalians 5 2 3
  Geminids 5 2 4

The games started with a bang. The Fomalians took the ball from the opening, drove down the field, shot and scored! With hardly any time off the clock it was already 1-0. But then the Fomalians went into a funk and could not get anything going. The Geminids also struggled, until the end of the half, that is. Then they caught fire. They went on the attack, moved into their opponent's territory, and shot. The ball rebounded back, a Geminid player regained possession and shot again. GOAL! The score was 1-1 at the half.

Geminid aggressiveness continued in the second half. Early on, they took control of the ball and attacked. Like deja vu, their shot was blocked, rebounded to a Gemind player, and then slammed into the goal! 2-1 Geminids. It looked like this score would hold, as the defenses stiffened and neither team could threaten the opponent's goal until the waning seconds of the half. Finally, the Fomalians awoke with a sense of urgency. They aggressively moved forward and then began peppering the Geminid goal. Each shot rebounded, but they retained possession and shot again. Finally, after a veritable blitz, one shot sneaked through! As the clock ticked down, the game was knotted at 2 goals apiece.

The Fomalians wasted no time in overtime. They grabbed the ball and again began raining shots upon the goal. The Geminid defense was worn out by this time and they could not clear the ball. Minutes into sudden death, a Fomalian shot succeeded. A 3-2 come from behind victory for the Fomalians.