Saturday, September 27, 2014

Thoughts on Medieval Rules

Many years ago, I owned the first edition of De Bellis Antiquitatis, a set of fast-play ancient rules. [I just discovered that the original DBA rules can be found here]. I played a number of battles with my 6mm Romans, Gauls, and Carthaginians, but eventually I soured on the game. The rules worked great for Roman vs. Gaul battles but when you pitted similar troops types together (e.g. a Roman Civil War battle), the fights seemed to turn into indecisive shoving matches. When Battle Cry came out, I turned to the Command & Colors system (which has inspired my horse and musket Francesian rules).

When I began my medieval Francesian projects, I ultimately turned to the C&C system, The system just seemed to play too fast in my raid scenarios so I began pondering a new approach. I thought back to Song of Blades and Heroes, a system I considered last year. At the time, I decided against it primarily because it was designed for individual figures where I wanted stands representing warbands. Recently, I read where someone used a set of skirmish rules for larger battles by treating a stand/unit as a single figure. I realized I could do the same with SBH. Reading the rules again, I realized that they essentially used a DBA-like opposed die roll system but somewhat solved the shoving match issue by having figures "fall down" when beaten but not doubled. Figures that "fall down" suffer penalties to later die rolls. I decided to experiment with SBH.

After some thought, I decided to keep 2 stands to a unit, with each stand able to suffer 2 hits before being removed. A unit takes 1 hit if beaten in a combat and 2 hits if doubled. Once a unit lost a stand, it suffered a penalty to its combat roll. I also wanted to include mandatory retreats so I decided to use an extra roll against unit Quality (SBH uses 2 stats per figure - Quality and Combat).. Failure forced a retreat. Alas, I kept forgetting to roll for retreats during my test battle. Nevertheless, I felt that the combat system worked well. Fights went on longer than with my C&C inspired rules, but did not drag interminably like DBA.

I also used the SBH activation system (which I describe here). Infantry move 1 space on the battle grid per activation (heavies are restricted to 1 movement activation per turn while lights can use 2). Attacking with 2 activations provides a bonus to the combat roll. This activation system provided more tactical thought than simply rolling pips like DBA.

Overall I enjoyed the game and will continue to experiment with a SBH-inspired system.

Disaster in Transflumia

This morning I played the first game in the Francesian Conquest medieval campaign using my new 2mm armies.

After consolidating his hold on the barbarous kingdom of Redgrave, Lothar the Lascivious turned his greedy eyes southward toward the rich provinces of the tottering Argentian Empire. Gathering together his ravenous horde of warriors, he marched into Transflumia, sacking towns and villages as he went. Flavius Gravitas, prefect of Transflumia, gathered his own forces and rushed to oppose the Redgravians. He prepared a battle line between the villages of Nordia and Estria and then waited for Lothar's approach.

Lothar's army was primarily composed of heavy infantry (in gold with red shields). In addition, a troop of beastmasters (a heavy infantry stand with a stand of wolves - treated simply as heavy infantry) and a pack of wolves (treated as heavy cavalry) formed the army's right flank.

Flavius could only draw upon local troops as the cream of the Imperial army remained close to the capital (to be used by ambitious politicians). Instead, the Imperials only mustered a couple of auxiliary cohorts and four bands of locally raised, bow-armed infantry (troops in white and silver).

The Redgravians come in sight

 Lothar quickly pushed his troops forward to attack the sparsely guarded village of Nordia (on the left of the picture). Meanwhile, the pack of wolves raced forward, attacking the auxiliaries with Flavius.

Attacks on Nordia and on Flavius's guard.
 Soon, a swirling battle developed in the center of the battlefield. Flavius's valiant leadership encouraged his men and stemmed the tide of battle-maddened barbarians. The defense of Nordia did not go as well, and soon the garrison was racing for its life while Lothar's personal warband rushed forward in pursuit.

Nordia falls. Battle develops in the center.

 The Redgravians were beaten back in the center, but Lothar led a wide flanking maneuver around the Imperial left.
Lothar swings around the Imperial left.

At this point, Flavius noticed the battered Redgravian warbands and decided to crush them. His advance left him vulnerable and soon he found his cohort of auxiliaries surrounded by enemies.

Flavius carelessly attacks.
 Nevertheless, Flavius was able to beat back the attackers. Alas, he paid no attention to the left and Lothar succeeded in driving away the archers in the rocky ground. Two powerful warbands now could cut off the Imperial lines of communication. The archers in Estria raised a cry of alarm before fleeing. Flavius could not hold his battered cohort together. It and the remaining auxiliaries on the left fled from the field. The way was open to Transflumia's capital.

The left flank is turned.
Lothar rushed to the city and forced its surrender. He prepared for a counterattack, but the Senate dithered and no Imperial relief came. The Transflumians reluctantly bowed before their new overlord while Lothar began to eye the lush grasslands of Meditera.

Star League Update

It has been a long time since my last real Star League update. Since then I have completed season 2 and I'd like to provide a short review,

Weeks 4-5
The Fomalians found themselves in 2 tough games. In week 4, they played a determined Denebian team who knotted the score at 1-1 at halftime. The Fomalian offense controlled the ball in the second half but could not find the net until the last seconds of the game. Their late goal propelled them to a 4-0 record. The next game featured a contest between division leaders. Alas, the Fomalian's weak defense was exposed and they fell down 3-0. They dug deep and scored 2 to close within a goal, but then the Canopans scored to put the game out of reach. Final score 4-3 for the Fomalians first loss of the season.

Galactic Division leader:  Canopans 4-1; 1 game lead over Antarens
Stellar Division leader:  Fomalians 4-1; 2 game lead over Geminids and Hydrans

Weeks 6-7
The Fomalians continued their excellent play, winning twice more, The Geminids were hard pressed to keep pace. In week 6, they took a 2-0 vs. the Betelguesans only to have the opponent score in the second half. The Betelguesans pressed hard late in the game. The Geminid goalie managed a late save but the Betelguesans came hard again. Shot! The Geminid goalie reach out, barely deflecting the ball to preserve the win.

Galactic Division leader:  Canopans 6-1; 3 game lead over fading Antarens
Stellar Division leader:  Fomalians 6-1; 2 game lead over Geminids

Weeks 8-9
With the surging Geminids hot on their tail, the Fomalians took a 3-1 lead against the mediocre Hydrans in week 8. Then their defense collapsed. The Hydrans scored one to get close then in the waning seconds of the game, they peppered the Fomalian goal and squeezed one through. The deflated Fomalians gave up an easy goal in OT and suddenly the Geminids were 1 game back. The Fomalians won in the following week but the Geminids kept pace.

Galactic Division leader:  Canopans 8-1; 4 game lead over Antarens. Clinched division in week 8.
Stellar Division leader:  Fomalians 7-2; 1 game lead over Geminids

Week 10+
Only 1 game mattered this week; the match-up between the Fomalians and Geminids. In season 1, the Fomalians lost a week 9 showdown to lose the division to the Geminids. Could the Fomalians redeem themselves? At first, it looked like it. The Fomalians raced off to a 2-0 lead but once again could not hold. The Geminids scored 4 goals and then held off a Fomalian comeback bid to win 4-3. Per Star League rules, a tie is settled by head-to-head record. The two teams split the season series so a playoff was needed. Once again, the Fomalians took the lead; this time with a quick goal at the start of the game. However, the Geminids rattled off 3 goals in the half for a 3-1 lead. The Fomalians scored early in the 2nd half but the Geminids responded with a goal of their own - clinching a 4-2 victory and the division title.

Galactic Division winner:  Canopans 8-2; 4 game lead over Antarens and Denebians
Stellar Division winner:  Geminids 8-3; 1 game lead over Fomalians

Star Cup
The Geminids had their own hopes for redemption. In season 1, they were swept 2-0 by the Canopans in the Star Cup series. They hoped to reverse that results. They started well with a 2-1 lead in the first game. In the 2nd half, however, their defense faltered and the Canopans scored 2 goals. The Geminids pressed to tie the score, but the Canopans stole the ball and scored to ice the game. It seemed that history would repeat itself in game 2. The Geminids held a 1-0 lead only to allow 2 goals. This time, however, they fought back and tied the score late in the game. Into OT they went, but the Canopans raced away with the ball and scored the Cup winner.

Star Cup winner:  Canopans 2 games to 0 over the Geminids.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Game Night

We played 2 games last night - Takenoko and Dixit (which I described here and here).

In Takenoko, my wife raced out to a big lead; she looked like she would win handily. I was in last place for much of the game, then slowly accumulated points, and near the end of the game had nearly caught up. In the last turn, I was able to complete an objective worth 5 points, which allowed me to pass my wife and win the game.

In our second game, Dixit, I raced out to a big lead. My wife was in last place for much of the game, then slowly . . . Hey, this is sounding familiar. Yep, this time she pulled off the comeback and stole the victory from me. I guess turnaround is fair play.

2mm Medieval

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm planning to run a Francesian Conquest game using 2mm figures. I had ordered some from Irregular last year after my foray into 15mm stalled. But then my 2mm project never got off the ground. Well, I fnally got (most of) them painted.

Here are the armies so far.

Army 1 - Redgrave
The Redgrave army is loaded with heavy infantry. As I was unpacking the figures, I discovered a pack of wolves so I decided to add some of these predators to the army. I'll probably treat them like cavalry, but allow them to move and attack in wooded terrain without penalty. I'm actually 1 heavy stand short (due to some poor planning on my part). I'm going to order some more 2mms so I can fill in the gap.
The Redgrave army
Still need to paint the base edges
 Army 2 - Imperials
The Imperial army will be much bigger than the rest because it needs to stand in for 4 different provincial armies (Transflumia, Meditera, Argentia, and Draconia) with vastly different compositions. Currently, I have completed the heavy infantry (due to the planning snafu I mentioned earlier, I have an extra stand of heavies) and 2 units of cavalry. The light infantry and archers are drying as I write. I need to order more cavalry and the Draconian elephants.
The Imperial army
So why did I decide to plunge back into 2mm? Well, my post last year gives some valid reasons. An additional reason is that my wife and I are planning a cruise in November. I want to bring a small game to play during the trip. I decided that 2mm would make an excellent portable wargame.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Wow, time flies! So much has been going on in my life in general that I haven't really had time to post. As a result, it's been nearly 3 weeks. Let me catch up.

Board Gaming
We've been playing a lot of our new games.

  • Elder Sign has become my wife's favorite and we have played it 4-5 times. So far, we only lost once. In our latest game,we raced off to a big lead in elder signs only to get cocky and take on too many hard tasks. Our resulting failures brought doom upon us and awakened the ancient one. Our deaths were grisly. We almost lost another, but my brother saved humanity (although I was devoured).
  • We finally tried out Takenoko. It was simple, fun, yet required some thinking. I'm looking forward to playing again. My wife's biggest complaint was that it was over too soon. She was working on a number of objectives, laying out her plans, and diligently putting the pieces in place. Meanwhile, I was furiously completing objectives, causing the game to end before she could bring her well-laid plans to fruition.
  • We also played another game of Cthulhu Gloom. I was very successful in making my family absolutely miserable but my wife insisted on cheering them up!
Speaking of board games, I picked up a new war game based on a post over at Kaptain Kobold's Stronghold Rebuilt. Called Solitaire Caesar, it is a strategic level game of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. I downloaded it and created a virtual board so that I can play on my computer. I've been playing in spare moments but have not yet finished a game. I started well, destroying Hannibal with ease, but those pesky Germans have been chipping away at my northern frontier.

Star League
Although I've neglected to post, I've been slowly working my way through season 2 of the Star League. After 8 games (out of 10), the Canopans have clinched their division and will defend their Star Cup championship. In the other division, the Fomalians seemed to be running away with the division but have stumbled lately to allow the Geminids back into the race. With 2 games left, the Fomalians hold a slim 1 game lead over their rivals. They are scheduled to play in the season finale, which could be a crucial game.

Medieval Francesia
I played out another raid (using a virtual board) in my Redgrave Raiders campaign, Although the raiders made it to the village, the Imperial reinforcements arrived in time to stop their plundering. After a short fight, the raiders were cut down.

I'm still planning to run a Francesian Conquest campaign but I realized I don't have all the figures I need. I'm thinking of pulling out and painting my 2mm ancients to use for this campaign. Meanwhile, painting my Baccus 6mm figures has stalled.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Francesian Conquest

One of the problems with going back in time with an imagi-nation is that the “history” becomes somewhat pre-ordained. For example, consider my medieval Francesian campaign, where the Redgravian raiders are attacking the Empire. Given that Redgrave is an independent nation in Enlightenment Francesia, destiny dictates that the raiders will ultimately triumph and carve out their own homeland from the Imperial provinces.

As I’ve been playing out the raids, I’ve also been thinking about the development of Francesia from the medieval to Enlightenment eras. With its plethora of Germanic names, I suspect that the Empire ultimately fell to the Germanic barbarians and that later a new empire was founded. So I did it get that way? I’m thinking of a short campaign to find out.

This campaign will be set after the era of the small-scale raids portrayed in the Redgrave Raiders campaign. The Redgravians have consolidated the northeastern provinces into their own united kingdom and now are launching a massive invasion of the Empire. The campaign will essentially use the DBA conquest rules available on the Fanaticus page.

The invaders shall begin from their home province in Redgrave. They will move into the adjacent province and fight a battle. If successful, the province is taken and the invasion will continue to the next territory. If defeated, the march of conquest will be halted for a generation. Let’s see how long before the Empire falls.

Primary Terrain
Bw, LI
3 Cv, 3 HI, Bw
2 HI, 2 Bw, El, Cv

To give the invasion some variety, I plan to give each province a somewhat unique army. Redgrave will have a barbarian army like early Saxons. Argentia will be like a Roman army. Transflumia and Meditera are Imperial provinces but I’d like to give them somewhat different armies than a standard Roman-like one. I think Meditera will be a horse-heavy army. The Draconians will be patterned after the Alexandrian Successor states.

I just need to get painting my Baccus figures.

Saturday Game - An Ancient One Appears

I played Elder Sign with my wife and brother Saturday night. This time, we had to stop Nyarlathotep from entering the world and devouring humanity.

Things did not go well, largely because I could not roll dice to save my characters' lives. (literally!) And my use of the plural for character is not a typo. In Elder Sign, if your character dies prior to the arrival of the elder god, you are not out of the game; you just start up a new character. My brother had middling success (although he also lost a character) but my wife was amazingly good. Alas, her competence could not offset my ineptitude, and Nyarlathotep was summoned into our world.

Once the elder god enters, your heroes can try to defeat him by rolling dice to reverse the doom track. We managed a few hits before it attacked. As you can see on the card pictured above, and attack will eliminate any characters who do not have Clue tokens. Well, my wife and I were instantly devoured. My brother continued to fight on and in an epic struggle banished Nyarlathotep back to the foul dimension from whence it came.