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.

Monday, June 8, 2015

More Recent Painting

This is another catch-up post. I've mentioned previously that I have been inspired to work on a project using my older 25mm fantasy figures, which haven't seen much play lately.

I finished these four bases about a month ago, but haven't posted them here. Each one is from a different manufacturer of the 1970s.

First up is a Ral Partha ES-6, patriarch. He ended up looking a little Roman, in the white and purple color scheme. I used to use one of these figures as my cleric character back in the day, but the original has been lost to time. This one was acquired from eBay.

Over the next several months, it is my intention to go back and paint my way through the early Ral Partha ES series figures, with a cutoff of ES-64, the last figure listed in the 1979 catalog.

Next up is an Archive pixie, catalog number 650, which has been floating around in my junk box for decades. I pulled it out after Cold Wars, when the acquisition of a handful of old figures prompted me to sift what I still had left and unpainted. I based him on the rock to give the figure a total bulk similar to that of a human.

This Heritage sorceress, one of four from set number 1206 (in the Dungeon Dwellers line), was obtained some years ago when another HAWK was cleaning out his backlog. The Heritage figures were a bit cartoony, but that's probably why they were fairly easy to paint. I enjoyed working on this one, and the other three will be along eventually.

The elves on this base were part of the group I brought home from Cold Wars, and are Minifigs ME-5s, from their original Mythical Earth range, one of the earliest (if not the earliest) fantasy ranges produced. I've posted my few survivors before, some Ents and Huorns, a pair of mounted Ringwraiths, and a pack of three wolves. My Huzzah flea market haul included more than a dozen Dunlending spearmen, and I'm painting a small group of dwarves from Cold Wars, so Minifigs will be a little better represented when we start running the Aurora Project games next year.

As long as I was working on older figures, I decided to have a go at a Prince August homecast figure, an archer from the Heroes and Fighters mold (669). While they are from the early to mid-80s, as far as I can tell, they mix better stylistically with the earlier figures than they do with the figures I was buying in the mid-80s, let alone the ones I've bought lately.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Huzzah 2015

A belated report:

Huzzah, the annual convention excellently run by the Maine Historical Wargamers, took place in Portland, Maine, from May 15th to May 17th.

This was my fourth Huzzah, and my favorable reports on the previous three events led my club, the Hawks, to dispatch an expeditionary force this year. Counting our remote member, Ross Macfarlane, we had eight in attendance, and hosted seven official games.

Ross and I have typically been deciding on our Huzzah games at the previous convention, so we had known for a long while that we were planning on running two Charge! games using the Prince August 40mm home cast figures, as part of the ongoing action in the Not Quite Seven Years War. Having chosen the project, the decision to drive was made for me, because the stuff needed can't really be brought on an air trip. So, I and my SO drove up on Thursday, and were ready to start bright and early on Friday. Huzzah added a Friday afternoon gaming block this year; if things keep going this way, perhaps Friday mornings will be next...

Ross and my son Norman both arrived around lunch time on Friday, from opposite directions. Ross and I are working on a set of fast play Old School fantasy rules as part of what I've been calling the Aurora Project. We wanted to take the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to put a game on the table as part of the rules development process. Hordes of classic 25mm fantasy figures would have been difficult to carry along with the 40mm NQSYW figures, so I brought my 6mm DBA/Hordes of the Things box and we improvised a bit.

We hastily drew up a scenario in which a combined force of elves and men attempted to drive off a force of orcs and allies before they could complete an elaborate spell to destroy the castle (seen below around the middle of the table).

The woods, visible around the middle of the table on Ross's side, turned out to be a significant factor, as the humans and the elves got separated and their attacks were not coordinated. Mounting casualties eventually caused the elves and men to retreat, and the orcs were able to complete their spell and destroy the castle.

With that experience, we can now proceed with rules refinement.

Ross and I staged the first of our NQSYW games Friday evening. The scenario was "A Chance Encounter" from Scenarios for Wargames by CS Grant. This is a meeting engagement, in which advance guard from the two armies (the Northern Alliance and the Pragmatic Coalition) attempt to seize and hold a strategic village. In this scenario, both sides had approximately equal forces, with a balanced mix of light infantry, line infantry, cavalry, and artillery.

As it played out here, the Coalition forces were able to seize the village before the Alliance forces reached it.

However, to the south of the village, an extended cavalry melee commenced, which was eventually won by the heavier Alliance cavalry. As usually, terrible casualties were suffered by the Wachovian Hussars. As night fell, Coalition forces held the town, but were surrounded by Alliance forces, and the ultimate victory would have depended on whose main body arrived first the next morning. I'm sorry I didn't make some notes on the strengths and positions, as it would have made an interesting follow-on scenario for a future game.

Our second game was on Saturday afternoon, and was Scenario 1 from the same book. I got so involved in actually running the game that I didn't get any pictures of it myself. Here's one taken by Chris Palmer, Pragmatic players to the right, Alliance players to the left:

In this situation, an advancing Pragmatic army was faced with an Alliance army holding a defensive position based on two towns, supported by three small redoubts. The Pragmatic players chose to mass their cavalry opposite the open area to the right of their line, and the Alliance players also deployed their cavalry in the same zone. The Pragmatics planned to demonstrate against the town on the left, strongly attack the town in the center, and advance behind a cavalry screen to seize the redoubt on their right. The demonstration on the left eventually proved too costly for the Wiegenburg regiment, which was forced to withdraw. In the center, the Pragmatic attack handily carried the the town. On the right, the attack was delayed while the cavalry battled it out. Eventually weight of numbers told for the Pragmatics, and the Alliance cavalry was forced to retreat, but the melee last long enough for the sun to be setting before the attack on the redoubt could be carried out. The Alliance army was deemed to have held the position long enough for reinforcements to arrive, stalling the Coalition advance. All in all, with a marginal win and a defeat, it was not a stellar little campaign for my forces. While we can often beat our traditional rivals of North Polenberg, the stouter troops of Rosmark have proved to be too hard a nut to crack in recent encounters, and it may finally be time to sue for peace...

Huzzah runs an informal flea market on Sunday morning. I was pleased to find a box of Exin Castillo castle blocks, which are nicely sized for 25mm figures.

My younger son has been looking for an expansion to the Exin castle I've owned for years, and was very pleased to find that I had acquired a "12", one step up from the "11" we've had, so I expect some sort of castle-based scenario in the future. I was able to re-home a bunch of the Reaper Bones figures, particularly the ones from Bones II, and then used some of that money to invest in a group of vintage Hinchliffe Byzantines and allies, which I'll report on later.

We headed home around lunchtime on Sunday, and I was able to use the amazing elements of modern technology to coordinate our Gencon event registration while in the passenger seat on the way home.

Overall, it was a great convention, and I hope to be able to attend again next year, if my son's college graduation isn't the same weekend...