Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Quest for THE Rules, Part 2


In the second instalment of Nephew Nick's and my quest to find the definitive set of rules for our forthcoming Dark Ages Ireland show game for 2017, we moved on from Games Workshop's "Lord of the Rings" set (which we liked overall, but had one or two reservations about), to another possibly suitable offering in the form of Dan Mersey's "Lion Rampant".

We have only tried this set out for a single game before, a quickly-arranged affair using my Late Medievals. I set up the forces, working out something that was vaguely Viking and something else that was vaguely Irish, and we set to.

I was most enthused by the idea of "Fierce Foot", but then discovered just how rubbish they are when defending! Nick placed great store in his huscarls, greatly aided by the fact that we used the Foot Men at Arms stats for them...

The Vikings won is all I will say for now.

Nephew Nick's Vikings set up ready to take it to the Irish. Those huscarls are ROCK HARD when counted as Foot Men At Arms. Perhaps a downgrade to Armour 3???

The Bhoys!

I used my Warlord and his "Fierce Foot" (he was "rash" in the game, so upgraded the unit he was with from their actual status) as a reinforcing unit to take advantage of my breakthrough in the least, that was the plan. It actually worked until I ran out of figures and he ended up having to take on all comers!

Nick's Vikings, with one or two of my figures knocking around somewhere.

The Warlord's unit broke through, but was overwhelmed in the end.

So, what did we think?

  1. The rules were very quick and bloody, perhaps too much so! We may well be able to play this three or four times per show!!!
  2. The rules worked well.
  3. The Irish should all be fleet footed as per the rules, even the Fierce Foot, to allow for faster movement.
  4. The Irish also deserve a job lot of javelins.
  5. Viking huscarls are IMMENSE!!!
  6. We have a plethora of ideas to enhance the game with mini-scenarios within the main game, different victory conditions and so on.
  7. We can easily accommodate several players per side, which would allow us to have some participation element.
It is debateable whether we will continue our quest having found "Lion Rampant" to our liking so much, but something like "Legends of the High Seas", basic (i.e. 1st Edition-ish) Warhammer and no doubt a few others may yet get a try out. Hmmm.


Friday, 5 August 2016

The Quest for THE Rules

Hello again.

Nephew Nick, Nephew Paul and I decided several months ago what next year's show game would be in terms of its theme, but we did not sort out all the details. One of the missing details was which set of rules to use to depict our chosen arena. We have one definitive, period and scale-specific set to hand, but I at least had reservations about their suitability for a smooth-flowing, demo and possibly participation set up at a show. This is because they require certain specific tools to be able to use them, which adds a small amount to the game complexity, the likelihood of forgetting something and so on.

And so, the quest for alternatives began in earnest yesterday morning with a game or two Chez Nick.

We have some ideas for alternative sets and the first of those was to try out "The Lord of the Rings" fantasy battle game rules, Games Workshop's Tolkien-inspired offering that accompanied their alliance with Peter Jackson's films. (This is not the later big battle rules by the way). It is not a set I am massively familiar with, though I have played a few times and, indeed, after several years waiting to finish them, I almost have my Mordor Orcs ready to go! (It is that absence of a major project allowing me to do other mini projects instead yet again. I quite like this no project thingy!!!)

So here, hopefully for your delight and delectation, I have some photos of three things that do not feature very prominently on my blog to date. Firstly, they are taken from a game in progress. Secondly, they are fantasy figures. Thirdly, they are not mine. A fourth factor, which is unfortunately rather too common, is the poor quality of the photos! I am no photographer at the best of times but the weather conditions yesterday made light and dark a somewhat random affair, so apologies in advance!

I took the part of the valiant Dwarves, led by a King, with four Captains and various warrior types. I chose not to drag out the usual suspects like Balin or Dain Ironfoot. Arrayed against me were Nephew Nick, aka Durburz the Moria Goblin King, with sundry nefarious Goblin types, a couple of Bat Swarms and three Cave Trolls (I told you it was dark outside, even in daylight!) We had a nice, even 755pts each on the table.

It was a very close run thing, with Nephew Nick's favoured lilac dice doing their usual "roll 'em high" routine rather too often for my liking!

The Dwarf battleline, King Thorin Snowbeard of the Solitary Knoll centre right. (The Solitary Knoll is very like the Lonely Mountain, but a lot smaller...)

The Goblin right flank, with two of those pesky trolls...

This troll would have won the "Troll of the Match" award, if he could hit a barn door with his spear...The Shaman points the way to the enemy, if the Goblins or Troll were in any doubt about that, but it was rather funny when he failed dismally to cast his first spell, despite a re-roll!

A longer shot of the Dwarf line, the Goblin archers having already started to cause a gap or two. Better get into melee asap.

Those drums. Forever banging away like small, green Cozy Powells, these two helped keep the Goblins interested in the fight with their motivational percussion.

A few lowly Dwarf archers take on a Cave Troll and some Bats. This was only likely to go one way...and it did! The good news for the Dwarves was that it took a fair amount of time before the Cave Troll was able to burst through and attack the left of the Dwarf battle line.

Carnage. The Dwarves have broken through in the centre, but are in difficulty on their flanks. King Thorin himself almost single-handedly shored up the left flank of the Dwarf line, but those Trolls were going nowhere fast.

Both sides hit their breakpoint simultaneously. From here on in, it was a question of whose morale would hold longest.

Naturally, the Dwarves held on longest and this is the final scene, where the last Troll is cut down for a Dwarf victory. I say "Victory", but how many games are truly such with an almost 90% casualty rate for the victors??? To misquote Lord Cornwallis, "With another victory like that, we shall be ruined." A wounded King Thorin, a wounded Captain, an unwounded Captain, a Khazad Guard and a Dwarf warrior are all who will trek home to the Solitary Knoll for beer and bathtime tonight... 
So, did these rules work for us and is our quest complete? Yes and no. The rules worked fine, but they are a little labour intensive with each individual man to man combat worked out individually and they give far too much freedom for individual figures to do what they want to most of the time. However, the mechanisms are simple and they would be easy to convert to our chosen Dark Ages scenario, so they are still in contention for that outing next year. A few more games and some alternative rules will trim things down a bit further.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Something new (AGAIN!!!)

Greetings from an English Summer!

I picked up a copy of August's issue of "Wargames Illustrated" a few days ago and, flicking through as I do when I first purchase any magazine, I came across the "Wargaming News" section on page 4 and there was the advert for the "The Men Who Would Be Kings" (TMWWBK) rules from Osprey, newly published and penned by Daniel Mersey, who did such a good job on things such as "Lion Rampant" amongst others.

I have enjoyed the Osprey rules in the main and have most of them to date, but I have never been interested in Colonial games, preferring to match various European armies against each other, whatever the historical time period. So, why the interest?

  1. Daniel Mersey's offerings are uniformly very good in my opinion and I firmly believe this will be no exception.
  2. These rules were previewed in an earlier issue of "WI" and I loved the idea, even hoping I could get an early copy at Barrage last month.
  3. They fit in with my current niche of painting large (-ish) skirmish forces, as I have for SAGA, am doing for "Sharp Practice 2/ Muskets & Tomahawks" and intend to do with some Peninsular War figures again for SP2.
I cannot see myself charging hordes of Zulus/ Mahdists/ Mutineers/ Matabele/ Pathans/ Other at a line of sundry Europeans (with or without red coats), but I can see myself running some small scale actions in various far-flung parts of the Empire. (Queen Victoria, God Bless Her!)

Actually, I can see myself defending a pa from Forest Rangers in New Zealand or fighting Boxers with Schutztruppen, which is rather different from the classic red line (and I still dislike painting red, hence my dearth of "British" troops in my entire figure collection).

But, everyone has to start somewhere, and I had these lying around after my "Malta" project. I used the more Arab-looking figures in Perry's Mahdist box for Corsairs/ North Africans, but still had some less well-dressed bodies and a horde of Fuzzy-Wuzzy heads, so here are my fledgling Beja/ Bija figures for "TMWWBK".

I may even paint them at some point and build myself a quick Sudan set-up, but I am mindful that I have no desert terrain at all, so it would be a bigger project than originally anticipated. Then again, I have a liking for Empress Miniatures' Maoris and Tiger Miniatures' Schutztruppen, as well as Redoubt's Boxers...

The absence of a large show project is greatly assisting the fulfilment of these mini-projects!

A full combat unit of sixteen irregulars, armed in traditional manner. These figures were very easy to make from the figures in the set.

I only had enough remaining figures for four riflemen, but I think there should be sixteen in the unit. Looks like I will have to buy another box then!