Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Lord Kha-Ris battles The Amy From Heck

Two Undead armies clashed at Castle FusterCluck this past weekend in a Big Battle of D3H2 (DBA 3.0 with HOTT additions). We tried to play the rules as straight up as we could, since Bruce and I were coaching Aaron and Steve in their very first game.

Each army totaled 72 points divided into 3 commands. Lord Kha-Ris (MY Undead) fielded a large command of mainly Replaceable Hordes and Behemoths. Aaron led a mounted right wing command of Knights, Beasts and Heroes. I also led a third smaller command of Aerials, an Aerial Hero (Cruella, of course) supported by 4 Flyers.


Bruce's Army of Heck was more balanced, Heroes supported by Spears, Shooters, Cavalry and Behemoths, with two small groups of Aerials integrated into the two wing commands. Steve commanded the left wing, so the New Guys faced each other.

The Army of Heck Defended, so chose terrain - Ploughed Felds, Gentle Hills and one patch of Scrub, so terrain played little part in the game - and took first bound. . . a general advance.

Kha-Ris responded in similar fashion. . . two masses of Undead trundling forward toward potential mutual destruction . .

When Bruce advanced his right wing Aerial Hero and Flyers, Cruella pounced, killing a Flyer and drawing first blood (presumably "true death" AND some kind of blood was involved). Cruella was then promptly set upon by the Heckish Aerial Hero and destroyed! 

Another Heckish Flyer was eliminated as the melee continued. . . until the Aerial Hero noticed another more enticing target . . . Kha-Ris, all by himself, on his zombie dragon mount.

Meanwhile the center commands embraced, and on the opposite flank, Kha-Ris' Beasts and the Heckish Flyers were at a stand-off.

Then the Heckish Aerial Hero pounced on Kha-Ris and the battle took a dramatic turn! The dice were rolled, and Kha-Ris lost by a single point! Death had come to Kha-Ris, the C-in-C of his army.

But wait! I remembered a rule in DBA Big Battle which entitles the C-in-C of each army to re-roll one die-roll per game after the results have been calculated. Only a re-roll of 6 would save Kha-Ris by causing a tie-score! 

"What?!" exclaimed Bruce, suspiciously. "Let's look that up." It is not unusual for us to check the rules several times a game, always in the spirit of fair play, so in we went. Turns out I was wrong. The rule actually states that the C-in-C can add +1 to his die-roll after the results have been calculated. . . so Kha-Ris gets an automatic draw instead of chancing a re-roll, as I wrongly "remembered" it. Thanks, Bruce! Kha-Ris survives another bound.

On my next bound, I got enough command PIPs to surround the Heckish Aerial Hero and send it back to Heck! Just in the nick of time, as Heckish archery sent another of my Flyers to its doom, breaking and demoralizing the Aerial command.

In the center, the relentless combination of Hordes, Behemoths and Knights, though sustaining its own losses, inflicted even more on the Heckish troops. On the right flank, the Beasts swept past the PIP-starved Heckish Flyers to fall on the flanks of the Heckish center.

While the Heckish right flank troops bore down on Kha-Ris, their center finally broke. A couple bounds later, the Heckish army reached its breakpoint (half its total element points) and fled the field. 

 Victory to Kha-Ris and his Undead. . . and to good sports, including the New Guys who said they'd be willing to play again.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Wilderness Terrain "Tree Point Oh!"

I've played enough games on this terrain now to think I need a "final" set of "evolutions" to improve the overall playing and aesthetic experience. It's kind of a disease, actually. . . nothing is ever finished with me (huge eyeroll).

To improve ease of play, I'm making two changes. First, I'm replacing the grassy gradual slopes that cause my model soldiers to continually tip over with "terraced" hills. I haven't actually completed any yet but am actually just taking the concept of the cork "woods" tiles and covering them with fur "grass," a la:

Second, I'm changing the slopes, including the "woods" slopes, from 4 levels to 3, to make it easier to fit the bases of the models onto the terraces. Here are examples of the new tiles:

I'm guessing you already noticed the aesthetic changes. . . I added some green mossy texture and masses of "leaves" collecting along the edges of the terraces. Even without the usual logs, rocks and assorted scatter terrain, the following photos show how the new terrain starts to give the impression of mature old wood forest floors with the addition of a few "trees." And we still have plenty of flat tabletop for our model soldiers to fight over!

 Looking forward to some gaming!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Still Boldly Going. . .

This is my new 1/2500-scale Enterprise NX-01. I bought the new AMT/Polar Lights kit of all the Enterprise versions just to get this new little model - and more importantly, the new nearly-full-coverage decals - even though I have all the individual kits already. Guess AMT knew its audience. . .

The "Aztec" decals just rock, and really bring the models to life. Here's a shot of the NX-01 alongside the AMT model Reliant, a later "movie-era" Federation starship in the same 1/2500 scale, photographed on my Cor-Sec game mat.

Note: if interested, you can see how I am adapting the 1/2500-scale models to the Star Trek: Attack Wing game system in some of my earlier posts labeled Star Trek.

Of all the Star Trek franchises to date, I find the Enterprise series the most enjoyable to re-watch. I like the way most all of the traditional foes were handled, including the Vulcans - who were foes as often as friends - in the early heady days of warp-capable human space venturing. The humans were refreshingly human, too; a little dirty and more complicated. So it would figure that my flirtation with Attack Wing starts in the Enterprise-era. Eaglemoss is helpful, here, as well, as some of their models are close enough to 1/2500 scale to be used. For example, here's a shot of the Eaglemoss Andorian Kumari and the Vulcan Ni'Var.

 Here's the Romulan Bird-of-Prey Praetus with the NX-01 again.

And finally, here's a shot of the Enterprise-era 1/2500-scale starships with their actual Attack Wing counterparts, to show the difference in size and relative scale between the models.

Now the reason for the "Blah Blah Blah" tag. . . 

I come to Star Trek first and foremost because of the starship design, and I want to play games with cool models. Even though I am not a physicist, I still had to get over the whole "immensity of outer space" scale thing (check out my earlier post about being in different cities with our little 1/2500-scale models, still in phaser range). Battles will/may be fought from hundreds of thousands of miles apart and at computer-calculation speed. Then there's the whole debate about weapons use at warp speed. Not much fun on the table-top and maybe not even fun on a computer screen! So I rationalize our table-top game as the way a computer might visually simulate the battle, with the relative scale and positions of the combatants altered for the participating humans to make the few necessary critical (and cinematic) decisions. At least until humans themselves become altered by space travel into something altogether different than our current versions. . .

Next up, French and Indian War terrain: Woods 3.0!

See ya!


Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Baron Speaks!

BaronVonJ was recently featured in a podcast by The Veteran Wargamer. You can check it out here. You will learn about The Baron and his game development company, Wiley Games, and even more about his flagship skirmish rules, Fistful of Lead.

And if you make it to the last ten minutes of the podcast, you'll hear a shout-out to yours truly. Thanks, Baron!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Book Like and Little Julie

And so we return to our regularly-scheduled programming. . .

I just finished Hodges' Scout, described thus on Amazon:

In September 1756, fifty American soldiers set off on a routine reconnaissance near Lake George, determined to safeguard the upper reaches of the New York colony. Caught in a devastating ambush by French and native warriors, only a handful of colonials made it back alive. Toward the end of the French and Indian War, another group of survivors, long feared dead, returned home, having endured years of grim captivity among the native and French inhabitants of Canada.

Pieced together from archival records, period correspondence, and official reports, Hodges’ Scout relates the riveting tale of young colonists who were tragically caught up in a war they barely understood. Len Travers brings history to life by describing the variety of motives that led men to enlist in the campaign and the methods and means they used to do battle. He also reveals what the soldiers wore, the illnesses they experienced, the terror and confusion of combat, and the bitter hardships of captivity in alien lands. His remarkable research brings human experiences alive, giving us a rare, full-color view of the French and Indian War―the first true world war.

Mr. Travers accounts for nearly every member of the 50-man company ambushed on that September day more than 250 years ago. The stories of Indian captivity endured were harrowing, but I had no idea that there was a system of virtual slavery in place in Canada for captured Anglo soldiers. Many of them were shipped overseas and exchanged for French POW's held in England, so ended up thousands of miles from home with little means and even less hope of returning to America.

Staying with the F&IW theme, here is a recent release from John Jenkins Designs, "Little Julie." 

A pretty little girl. . . but something doesn't seem quite right. . .

Ahhh. . . little Julie has lived on the frontier all her life and knows how to handle those pesky War Parties. . .


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day, Mom

WARNING: This post contains no wargaming content. I trust you'll be patient with me.

Instead, I am using my first post of 2018 to send a slightly-belated Valentine's Day wish to my mom. It seems appropriate that I send this wish out into the aether of the interweb. . .

Mom died on January 2nd after contracting influenza. She went into the hospital on Christmas Eve morning - a young 79-year-old - and was gone in a matter of days. I still feel shocked by the profound suddenness of her death. 

My mother, Fran, was loving, funny and fun-loving, and dedicated to our family. Growing up, Mom "parented" me when I needed it, guided me when I asked for it, and was fun to be around most of the rest of the time. I haven't lived in the same state as my mother for more than 20 years, but I miss her every day in so many different little ways. 

This is one of my favorite photos of Mom. Of course I didn't know the person in this photo - she is very young - but I feel her spirit in the smile, and the strong way she loves her dog, holding it close but getting it to do what she wants it to do - look at the camera.

I love you, Mom.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming. . . thanks for your patience.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Muskets and Mohawks: Bloody Morning Scout

As promised, here is the After-Action Report of the first game hosted at Castle FusterCluck. Bruce joined Aaron, Steve and me for a play-test of Muskets and Mohawks using the more usual Two Hour Wargames activation system from Long Rifle (the companion man-to-man scale rules of the small-unit scale M&M). This activation system makes the differences in unit's REP ratings even more pronounced. Each turn, higher-rep units are likely to activate more often and before lower-rep units, and occasionally units don't get an activation at all! If you like to manage amidst chaos, these rules can be really fun. If you like something more like total control. . . well, you've been warned.

We used a scenario I'd designed previously as a convention game, based on the Bloody Morning Scout near Lake George, in New York colony, in 1755. The original scenario is here, for reference, and we played it with minimal changes. The biggest change was the addition of a little more open field around the fieldworks to provide an opportunity for maneuver, as a possible alternative to a straight-up assault. Above and below are views of the field from behind the Provincial defenses; note the British Regulars and Mohawk allies on their way down the road on "a scout."

We had 4 factions - one for each player. Aaron played the French Regulars and Militia with Steve his Native allies. I played the British Regulars with Bruce the supporting Provincial Militia. Each faction had its own Leader.

The French had two units of Marine Regulars (Unit REP 4, Leader REP 5) with a REP 5 Higher Commander and two of Militia (Unit REP 3, Leader REP 4) with a REP 4 Higher Commander.

The Indians had 4 units (Unit REP 3 Leader REP 4) with a REP 4 War Chief.

The British had two units of Regulars (Unit REP 4, Leader REP 5) with a REP 5 Higher Commander, one Artillery piece (Unit REP 4, Leader REP 4) and one unit of Indian allies
(Unit REP 3, Leader REP 4).

The Provincial Militia had 3 units (Unit REP 3, Leader REP 4) with a REP 4 Higher Commander.

The British and Provincials started on the table, the British and Indians strung out on the road and the Provincials behind their fieldworks with the Artillery.

The French Militia start in classic ambush position in the woods on both sides of the road; the Regulars and Indians enter on the short edge of the table opposite the defense works any time after the first turn.

First side to lose 4 units would lose the game. . .


BANG! The game begins at the moment the French-allied Indians fire a musket shot from deep within the woods to warn their Mohawk brothers marching with the British. The French win the first Activation roll and musket-fire erupts from the woods on both sides of the road!

The British and Indians both weather the initial fire from the French Militia with just a single Regular casualty. The Indians immediately turn and charge into the smoke on their right. The panicked Militia don't stand in the face of the savage onslaught and when the smoke clears the Indians find their quarry has run away!

The British Regulars are able to form up in preparation for a fighting withdrawal down the road in the face of the arriving French Regulars. A British volley fired into the woods on their left chases the French militia deeper into the woods, while the initial fire from the French Regulars (because the French won the Activation roll this turn) causes the still-celebrating and utterly surprised Mohawks to Run Away without a fight. Both sides have now lost one unit.

The British and French Regulars trade volleys. The British get the worst of the sustained firefight and one of their units is eventually sacrificed to allow the other to retreat down the road in good order, harried by the remaining French Militia and their Indian allies, now racing through the woods on the British left. The British Artillerymen watch helplessly, shouting to their compatriots to get off the road and give them a clear line of fire!

Suddenly, with a blood-curdling whoop, a unit of Indians burst from the woods on the British left. The Provincials watched in horrified disbelief as the Indians fell screaming onto the flank of the Regulars on the road, who valiantly turned to meet the charge.

But after sustaining 4 casualties, the Indians lost heart and Retired back toward the woods, after which the Militia gleefully opened fire on them, which sent the Indians scrambling for the safety of the tree line. This permitted the relieved Regulars to finally leave the road, opting to face the French Regulars they knew to be moving through the woods on their right. The British Artillerymen estimated the range. . . 

BOOM! The first shot from the British 6-pounder killed 4 French Regulars! 

The French passed their morale test and headed for the woods. On their next turn, they were able to retrieve half their casualties to that point, being more than 12 inches from any enemy troops. The British Regulars did the same after they left the road (a neat feature of the rules representing the greater morale and professionalism of European Regulars).

The French now had a firing line set up in the tree lines on both sides of the road; Militia and Indians on the British left and Regulars on the right. The British Regulars engaged their French counterparts on the right, but were eventually whittled down to nothing. The British cannon, even requiring two turns to load, was manhandled to the left, breaking the French Militia unit, and to the right, to provide some covering fire, but too late to save the Regulars. The French Regulars retrieved a few more of their casualties. . .but only half of those sustained since the last time they regrouped. 

Both sides were down 3 units, so the next unit to break would decide the game.

At which point two units of Indians came screaming out of the woods on the Provincial left flank, their intention clearly to overrun the open left flank of the defense works. Failing a crucial Activation roll, the Militia were forced to take the Indian charge fully in their flank!

After a brutal melee, the Provincials Retired from the defense works, severely depleted. Fire from the woods forced it's neighbor from the works, as well. The third Militia unit left the works to try to provide covering fire for the Retiring unit, but the Indians eventually mustered a charge and slaughtered the hapless Militiamen, giving the game to the French.

Vive le roi! We all thoroughly enjoyed the game and agreed that the Long Rifle activation system was really fun - even when it worked against you - and preferred over the standard Muskets and Mohawks "everybody acts in order every turn" system. The Long Rifle activation system is one of the hallmarks of the Two Hour Wargames suite of rules and what helps set them apart from other sets.

A note on markers. . . I don't like a marker-infested battlefield, or rules that require a lot of markers. The Two Hour Wargames rules mostly rock in this arena. We're using the smoke markers to show ongoing firefights. We use the little round wooden "powder horn" markers from The Baron's Fistful of Lead rules to mark units that are no longer in an active firefight but still need to reload (critical because a unit cannot move until it is reloaded). The red plastic "Unit Activated" marker from Litko is a good memory aid, along with the wooden "Routed" arrow marker from TRE Games (local Minnesota!) to remind us to attempt to Rally a Retiring Unit. That's it!

Happy Holidays (I know we can say Merry Christmas again, but. . . whatever)!