Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Shortcut to Mushrooms, as fought

William and I sat down to fight the encounter yesterday. Unfortunately he needed to get back to his summer job, so we rushed a bit and I didn't take as many pictures as I had planned.

William took the elves, and I took the goblins. After one false start, in which the entire group of goblins entered on the mushroom grove side of the stream and were unable to catch the fleeing elves, we started over, dividing the goblins into three groups and randomizing the entrance for each group. I ended up with one team of two goblins (one an archer) and a wolf entering near the mushroom grove, and all of the other figures entering near the boat.

I decided that I would try to use one wolf to attempt to reach the ford on the boat side ahead of the elves, and sent a few goblins to back him up. The rest of the goblins made an (abortive, as it turned out) rush for the boat, hoping to overwhelm the three boat guards.

The raiders attempting to reach the boats were swiftly shot down by the carefully aimed archery of the elves.

However, one wold did reach the ford ahead of the elves, and stood blocking the exit. An elvish guardsman came forward to scuffle with him, the princess crowding close behind.
After dispatching the wolf on the grove side of the stream with a well-aimed arrow, Orman the hero ran to assist the guardsman. Unfortunately for him, his uncertain footing in the stream was his undoing, and the wolf swiftly ripped out his throat...

Gamely, the guardsman fought on, but the fall of the heroic Orman must have unnerved him, as he too was slain in turn. At that point, the princess fled back to the safety (?) of the grove, pursued by the wolf. Hearing her cries for help in the distance, two of the boat guard leapt from the boat and raced toward the ford. The fall of another goblin put the raiders below half strenght, and their morale was not good. Two more goblins fled immediately rather than face the wrath of the avenging elves, and the wolf released the princess and fled as well.

The princess hurried across the ford, only to be accosted by the one remaining orc. With a swift kick, she drove him back for long enough to resume her flight to the boat.

The two guardsmen turned on the orc, and swiftly lopped off his head. With that, the remaining goblin and the wolf fled, considering it a moral vicotry that they had brought down a hero of the elves, even if the princess did escape unscathed with the mushroom spores.

Overall, it took a little more than an hour to play out. We remain confirmed in our view that the SBH point system does not really balance two forces of disparate quality. The goblins were never able to achieve enough activations to make good use of their superior numbers, so a balanced version of this scenario would probably require more goblins, even with the elves' relatively difficult tactical situation. The mechanics give a nice fast game, though, so developing a tested scenario library would probably be the way to go.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Shortcut to Mushrooms, Preview

I'm attempting to take advantage of a visit by William to get a few of the recently painted figures on the table. Therefore, I've set up a little encounter this morning between the elves and the goblins. The Rules will be Song of Blades and Heroes. Past experience has shown that the quality rating 2 troops, such as most of the elves, seem to be under-costed in the point system, so my thought today is to give the elves a problem.

So, the elves are sailing down the river, when they note that a special mushroom has popped up in a mushroom grove not too far from the river. Putting their boat ashore at the only practical landing point nearby, they leave a guard with the boat and send a team with the princess to collect mushroom spores.

Here's the order of battle with SBH ratings and abilities:


Orman, Elf Hero Q 2+, C 3
Hero, Shooter (long)
Erialla, Elf Princess, Q 3+, C 2
2 Guard Archers, Q 2+, C 3
Shooter (long)
2 Guards, Q 2+, C 3

Goblins and friends

2 Orc warriors, Q 4+, C 3
4 Goblin warriors, Q 4+, C 2
2 Goblin archers, Q 4+, C 2
Shooter (medium)
3 Wolves, Q 3+, C3
Animal, Long move

For deployment, the elf player will split his figures between the mushroom grove (A) and the boat (B), after which the goblins will roll to see where they enter. The stream is impassible except at a ford (just left of the nubmer 5 below). The goblins can capture the princess by defeating her in melee, after which she can be moved at slow speed by the goblin player as long as accompanied by a goblin. More goblins will arrive eventually, so they can also win by killing or driving off the boat guard and firing the boat.

We'll see whether that seems too easy or too hard after a run through.

The boat, by the way, is a Dave Graffam paper model.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Recent Fantasy Painting

In anticipation of Gencon, and of the eventual rerelease of the Ral Partha Collector Series fantasy armies, I have been combing eBay for a starter batch of old elves. I posted the first three wood elves a few entires back. I finished the next nine last weekend. I was a little delayed by the need to wait until it stopped raining for a day or two before I could spray the final varnish coat on them. So I had 20 or so figures ready by the time the weather finally cleared.

These sea elves are the vanguard of a force of about 25. I've got five more elves with greatswords primed and ready to start. That particular figure is not part of the first wave rerelease, so I'm going to be limited to what drifts in from eBay. I've got 11 elves with lowered pikes (i.e. front rank) in progress, with some hope of finishing them this weekend.

I've been interspersing the unit blocks with a few individuals, like the princess posted last night. The "Earth Demon" looked like he would be acceptable with a farily simple rock scheme, so here it is. (Original catalog identifier: ES-45.)

I've got one more figure I want to finish before I run a little elf/orc skirmish with Song of Blades and Heroes for a bit of encouragement.

Speaking of orcs, by the way, I've accumulated a lot of the Collector Series orcs from eBay, including a handful that were almost painted acceptably. I decided to go ahead and do a quick rehabilitation job on those, basing them like the rest of my figures and touching up the paint, particularly evening out the orcs' skin tones to something closer to what I intend to use when I tackle the never painted figures.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Work in Progress

I've been working on some classic fantasy figures; here are a Ral Partha elf princess and a Heritage knight.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Magnetic boxes simplified

I store most of my miniatures (which are on steel or plastic steel bases) in magnet lined boxes. The slow part of any expansion has always been gluing the magnet sheets down without getting bubbles or having the corners curl up. I had a blinding flash of the obvious the other day: some sort of double sided tape would probably work well enough, since it doesn't have to hold especially firmly. However, a little searching around led me to pick up some carpet installation tape. We'll see how permanent it is, but at least sticking down a sheet was a task of only a couple of minutes.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Frontier Raid fought

Click on the pictures to view them properly; my blog management software is acting up with respect to the thumbnails.

As mentioned in the teaser shot yesterday, we set up and fought a battle using our developmental old school fantasy rules yesterday. Ross has posted the most recent version of the test rules. For the purposes of yesterday's test, we tried using personalities. Basically, they stayed attached to units. If two units with attached personalities were in melee, the personalities could fight. Personalities did not generally affect the unit level combat except by spells, or if they were a mid-sized monster like the wyvern, which gave a unit an extra die in combat. What they did have were skills/attributes, which modified how the units worked. This didn't turn out to have quite the flavor we were looking for, so revision 2 will make them more powerful/important.

Here are the orders of battle, with the numbers being, in order, combat strenght front/flank, armor roll, hits per stand, and movement in increments. For personalities, they just have a single Combat rating, used against other personalities. Each magician had a list of spells, each of which took the whole turn to cast and was then used up. We ended up using two inch increments, but the plan is to make movement sticks with the increments equal to the base width.

Empire of the Great City and Allies

1xGeneral Constantius and bodyguards 5/3, A:2, H:4, M:5
3xArmored Cavalry 5/3, A:3, H:4, M:5
1xArmored Cavalry Archers 4/3, A:3, H:4, M:5
1xAllied Horse 5/3, A:2, H:4, M:5
4xSpearmen (City and allied) 3/3, A:2, H:4, M:3
1xFoot Guards 4/2, A:2, H:4, M:3 (Reduces armor by 1)
4xSkirmishers 2/1, A:0, H:2, M:4
2xFrontier Guards (Archers) 3/1, A:0, H:4, M:3
1xTreemen 4/4, A:4, H:4, M:3

Cyrus Ironhoof, Inspirational C:3, A:3, H:2, M:6
Elar Autumnleaf, Cunning C:2, A:1, H:2, M:5
Aralon Longspear, Prepared C:2, A:0, H:2, M:4
Earaina, Magician C:2, A:3, H:1, M:4
Spells: Restore, Restore, Ward, Ward, Hurry

Orcs and Allies

1xWarlord Snarg and Bodyguards 4/2, A:3, H:4, M:3
4xShock Orcs 4/2, A:2, H:4, M:3
2xOrc Archers 3/2, A:1, H:4, M:3
3xGreater Goblins 3/2, A:1, H:4, M:3
6xLesser Goblins 3/2, A:0, H:4, M:4
3xWargs and Riders 4/2, A:1, H:4, M:6
2xLizard rider archers 3/2, A:1, H:4, M:6
1xGremlins (flying) 3/2, A:0, H:4, M:6
1*xWater Demon 4/4, A:3, H:6, M:3

Wraith of Khan, Inspirational C:2, A:3, H:1, M:4
Gorlak the Assassin, Stealthy C:3, A:0, H:2, M:4
Wyvern, Monstrous C:4, A:1, H:2, M:6 (flying)
Raffem and Tiny, Magician C:2, A:2, H:2, M:4
Spells: Frenzy, Frenzy, Restore, Summon

The personality skills were used as follows:

Inspirational: Add a movement increment to the unit when attached
Stealthy: Can move through enemy units and opponent can't refuse a fight
Monstrous: Big enough to add a die to unit combat
Cunning: Add 1 to the unit's attack factor
Prepared: Add 1 to the unit's armor rating.

The spells:

Frenzy: Add 1 to the unit's attack factor for 1d3 full turns
Restore: Recover lost hits for roll of 1-4, 4 dice worth
Ward: Add 1 to the unit's armor rating for 1d3 turns
Hurry: Double a unit's speed for 1d3 turns
Summon: Cause the Water Demon to appear in the river

Above is a shot of the board again. The Imperial forces had three garrisoned locations, two walled hamlets and the watch tower. The Orcs, approaching from the left (north), were attempting to seize those strongpoints, before they reached break point of 2/3rds of their army out of action. (So 7 units remaining was below strength). The orcish units were individually not as good as the Imperials, but there were more of them, and the Imperials had a 50% break point (9 units).

My son William was recruited to play the orc general, and Ross commanded the Imperials, with me acting as the mostly impartial referee and as Ross's hands and eyes. I recently broke my tablet stand, so Ross was forced to put up with a somewhat unsteady handheld view, and I got my exercise panning and zooming by hand.

William's plan was to use his mounted and fast forces on his left to grab the tower quickly, and to bore up the middle with the great mass of greenskin infantry to take the first hamlet. Ross is represented in the shot above by the iPad propped up with a Magic card box. The tower garrison inflicted a few hits on the approaching wolves and lizard riders.

On the orcish right, allied elves and treemen left the woods to assist the hamlet.

As the battle developed on the orcish left flank, the first assault wave rolled up to the hamlet in the center. The frontier guard archers had given a good account of themselves, shooting down a probing attack by the flying gremlins and wyvern, but orcish numbers began to wear them down. General Constantius threw a company of regular spearmen into the hamlet to assist the hard-pressed frontier guard, and a long, grinding melee ensued.

The surviving lesser goblins eventually withdrew from the fight, and were replaced by the heavy shock orcs, encouraged by a frenzy spell. Imperial luck finally ran out, and the regulars were ground down and eliminated.

On the orcish left, the coup de main against the tower was unsuccessful, and the survivors of the fast troops were all driven off. Snarg threw his last reserve, the greater goblins and orc archers, into the fray on his left, hoping to salvage the situation.

Constantius, sensing that the orcs were wavering, impetuosly charged the advancing reserves, hoping to tip the balance and drive the entire army from the field.

Unfortunately for him, the orcish archers were far tougher than he imagined, and he fell to a goblin sword as reinforcements entered the fray. The goblins threw themselves on the remaining cavalry, and Cyrus Ironhoof, the centaur hero, as senior officer on the imperial side, sounded the retreat.

Just as the battle was concluding, Earaina was confronted and slain by the assassin Gorlak, so it was a grim day for the Imperials.

Overall, it took us about three hours to fight this out, including a certain amount of telecommunication friction time and rules discussions. Heroes/personalities will probably have a more significant effect on the game in the next playtest, and, as far as scenario specifics went, Ross noted that it would have made sense to have the objectives count against the Imperial break point. William's commander morale almost broke at one point, as he had little luck in attacking the town, but Ross's early amazing die rolls eventually averaged out. The 40 stands we had on the table were about a third of my current fantasy total, and about half the total of the pre-1980 vintage figures (although the orcs are not part of the pre-1980 collection), so scaling up to scenarios for 6x10 convention games next year shouldn't be a problem.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Border raid

I'm setting up here for a Skype game using our developmental Morschauser-based Old School fantasy rules.