Saturday 18 February 2017

It's raining moon...

Kaptain Kobold has recently come up with a new idea for dice based activation in Clobberin' Time, so this afternoon Liv and I sat down to roll dice and play superheroes.

I wanted to have a go at using a single master villain against a team of heroes. Given the embarrassing defeat of Zol-torr in his last outing, I was hoping he might make a better showing with the new rules. Prior to getting my daughter to join in I had a quick run through, just to get a feel for things. I was bit disturbed when Zol-Torr just about won the scenario before the heroes even got a move, but then the rolls started to even out and it was a narrow win to the newly reconstituted Delta Wave. The dice system was giving a good game. What I wasn't feeling was the in-built sub-plots. Zol-Torr rolled arch-enemy and targeted Speed, but it didn't really add much to the game. I also felt like it slowed things down and I knew Liv would struggle to stay focused if we used the sub-plot rules. So aside from this quick run-through I haven't really played the new sub-plots. More on that later in the post - now, on with the story.

Zol-Torr has built a mega-cannon to destroy the moon. Why? Because he is an intergalactic conqueror and that is the sort of random thing one does when one has taken on such employment. He needs six clear uninterrupted turns at the cannon to calibrate it just right. In that time, Delta Wave need to show up, distract and hopefully stop him.
Zol-Torr readies the Mega-cannon. Delta Wave, consisting of Spectra, Speed, Aquaria and the Green Golem have come to stop him.
Speed rushes forward to try to slow the preparation of the cannon.
Zol-Torr, annoyed at this disruption, turns around and swats him. 
Aquaria and Green Golem head to the attack, while Spectra sits back and shoots laser blasts.
The activation dice are working well - in a single turn Aquaria is knocked back and the Green Golem is knocked out. Zol-Torr returns to his cannon.
The game ends with Delta Wave unable to stop the cannon firing. Luckily they distracted Zol-Torr just long enough for the Silver Shield (in his lab) to programme a moon hologram that confused the mighty conqueror and made him think he was victorious.
 So this game saw Zol-Torr doing what cosmic entities should and not getting smashed in three turns. As the trial game had seen a narrow Delta Wave victory, and this game Zol-Torr didn't get a scratch, it shows that the battles can go either way.

Liv had her blood up, so we had another game - this time we were hunting Baron Death, somewhere in Deathonia. He was hiding, and the team had to find him and take him down before he could hatch his next evil plan. It would give me a good chance to see if a Master Villain could perform when they were a Level 3 character.
The broken castles and skeletons of genetically modified monsters litter the table top as Delta Wave approach.
Spectra and Green Golem investigate the main castle, while Speed searches an outwork.
Aquaria investigates the skull of the long dead Deathosaurus.
Speed finds Baron Death! A quick attack is repulsed.
Realising Speed has located the Baron, Delta Wave rush to help their teammate.
Baron Death mind controls Speed who puts a wound on Aquaria, before the Baron himself activates and blasts her out of the keep. The Green Golem comes around from behind to trap the Baron.
Sensing the danger Baron Death flies away, pursued by Speed and Spectra. Spectra unleashes a powerful blast that leaves Death staggering. Speed looks to capitalise, but before he can, Death unleashes his own attack that knocks the speedster out.
The Green Golem arrives in time to see Spectra fire one more blast and knock the Baron down.
Two relatively quick games, no sub-plots or anything, just straight forward knock each other out with the new dice activation. I have to say it works really well. I now realise that I forgot to remove activation markers when the heroes rolled a six, which might have gone some way to unbalancing the Zol-Torr game. I was so focused on the 'quick' rule I forgot that both sides get to remove an activation marker if they roll a 6 for activation.

So I'm a convert, I think dice activation works better than the card activation. I'm not sure about the sub-plots, especially regarding levels of sub-plots etc. Part of CT is that it is such a simple and intuitive system to use that any chrome should be tacked on rather than integrated. I'd rather just have a list of sub-plots that I could choose from or roll for at the beginning of the game, and add that to my characters as part of their storyline. We'll see how Kaptain Kobold's playtesting goes with them. Quite often when you've written rules yourself they play much smoother than someone who is testing them for the first time.

I also altered the Speedster powers. I gave Speed a 12" move (double the norm) and allowed him a reroll in attack and defence to mimic his lightning fast reflexes. Speedster in the rules gets an extra move or attack. There was no real reason for this other than I find it intuitive to how I see Speed's power working.


Monday 13 February 2017

Botched relief in the Crimea

Tonight I was meant to get the brushes out, but wasn't really feeling it. There were a couple of posts I read in the weekend that made me keen to get in a Crimean War game, so I decided that I would choose a scenario and fight one out.
The scenario that I ended up with was #28 Botched Relief, pitting 4 units against 6 units. The only problem was four of the units in the larger force would only activate one at a time because the commanding general was somewhat inept. Meanwhile the 4 units would be determined to attack and capture the town. Forces rolled for and picked I set the board up in the lounge.

General Linguini had been given the role of raiding the small town of Gederovme, near the Black Sea coast. He had two battalions of Sardinians and some supporting Brits in the form of a rifle battalion and the elite 92nd Highlanders, so it was a pretty potent little force. Two battalions of Russians garrisoned the town, and on the hill to the west a relief force was gathered by General Standoffich, consisting of artillery, cavalry and two further infantry units. Standoffich was of the opinion that Gederovme was not worth expending his small army on, but decided that he had better follow his orders, if somewhat unenthusiastically.
General Standoffich arrives on the hill with the relief force.
The town of Gederovme

The Allied force led by General Linguini.
The Allies advance and the first unit of Russian infantry is sent down from the hill. The Rifles turn to face them.
Gederovme firmly in sight the allies begin an advance in echelon.
As they get closer the first casualties are taken and shaken off as General Linguini rallies his men.
The Rifles and the Highlanders hold off the menace to the flank.
The rifles take casualties, bearing the brunt of the Russian attack.
Fire rains down on the Sardinians as they are bounced back from the town.
The Gordons take the lead on the flank.
And in a hail of rifle fire the first Russian unit is broken.
The brave Sardinians charge the town walls again
But one battalion is shattered by the volleys of musketry coming from Gederovme.
The second battalion from the hill charges down into the Highlanders.
Success! The Sardinians push the Russians out of the Eastern part of the village. But can they hold?
While the melee continues to their right the Rifles target the cavalry sitting on the hill.
The Russians are not deterred...
And they push the Gordons back!
Not that it helps them - in the next volley by the Rifles and Gordons combined the Russian battalion ceases to be an effective force.
Meanwhile in the town the two battered Russian battalions open fire on the Sardinians.
A couple of serendipitous sixes and the massed Russian volleys break the Sardinians. The town is completely reoccupied by the Russians.
Facing off against the Russian Hussars the Rifles start to take a battering. The Highlanders renew their advance, determined to capture Gederovme.
Pacing themselves the Gordons poor in volleys of rifle fire ahead of their charge.
And successfully capture the western part of the town.
Having disposed of the Rifles, the Hussars turn towards the town, but are unable to charge a built up area.
The British unleash a volley into the Eastern part of town and the Russians finally abandon it. There is now no Russian presence in Gederovme.
Unable to activate, the artillery watch on as the cavalry, who are unable to charge acknowledge defeat.
I've made some further modifications to the OHW rules for the Crimea to what I have on my Crimean War rules page. The Russians shoot at an additional -1 (for a total of -3) at long range to represent their muskets not being as potent as the opposing rifles at a distance. The general can now rally one hit automatically by being in base to base contact with a unit, rather than rally off d6 hits, as I found this was too many. Rather than removing a base after 4 hits, I've changed it to five and brought unit strength back to the original 15 hits. This means that units lose 2 bases upon 2/3 casualties and this decreases their effectiveness. It means no single bases running around by themselves anymore, which is much more aesthetically pleasing.

The game was bloody with the Allies barely holding on for their victory. I was certain that the Gordons would not be able to resurrect the situation, but they proved their worth. All in all, it came down to the wire and provided a good hour of entertainment.


Friday 10 February 2017

Hitting back

Last year the Hebrews raided into Palestine and got away with a decent amount of plunder, having defeated the defending Philistine force. After spending all of this time regrouping, the Philistines decided to embark upon a punitive expedition into Israel. They arrived outside Beth-Bephor and laid siege. A Hebrew relief army made it's way through the hills and battle was joined.
The sides deployed on tricky terrain. I wanted to see how tough a nut BUAs are in DBA 3.0.
The two sides charge into each other in the north, but in the south they just sit there, looking at each other. PIP dice were generally not high throughout this game. Note the piece of polystyrene packaging that the Hebrew auxilia are standing on so that they can stay in formation. No, they are not laying an egg...
The Philistine spear reserve moves up to aid the northern-most chariot and The Philistine auxilia take out their opposites on the hill. First blood Philistia! Feeling cocky, the southern-most Psiloi are sent forward to try to lure out the Hebrew auxilia. These will duly be destroyed.
The spear get into the battle-line in the north while the Hebrew reserves come through and join their brethren in the woods.
The Philistine Psiloi see off the auxilia that had been opposite them...
But the victory is short lived as the Hebrew line advances from the woods and goes onto the attack. The Psiloi are swept away in this counterattack.
A close up of the hill as the bitter fighting continues.
The Hebrew auxilia that took out the Psiloi forces the Philistine auxilia to turn, recoils them into the other Hebrews and puts the Israelites into a winning position, having eliminated 3 elements to 2. But in the north the Philistine spear force the Hebrew general to flee.
The Hebrew general returns, but not before the epic chariot battle on the far northern flank...
Ends with a Philistine victory!
Buoyed by their success the last remaining Philistines on the hill charge into their opponents...
And destroy them! Victory to the Philistine army! 
A great deal of plunder would be taken from this punitive raid - the score stands at 1-1 in the promised land, but I'm sure neither side will want to leave it that way.
It turned out that taking a BUA is damn hard work. The Philistine spear spent the game charging and bouncing off the walls, as I guess they should.The PIP dice and the nature of the terrain meant that the crux of the battle revolved around the combats in the northern part of the battlefield, and as can be plainly seen, half of both armies spent the day staring at each other and moving forward warily.
The biggest takeaway for me is the need to construct some new - lower - difficult hills. These certainly look the part, but they are very awkward to use. Figures can't balance and the battlelines lose their symmetry. I've begun constructing some new hills from foamcore which won't be quite as dominating but should be much more user friendly. I've also found that the grass mat on the tiles has a grain to it that makes it very hard to keep lines in contact properly, so I'll probably move to a base cloth.
Hopefully I'll get another game in next Friday - not sure if it will be a Punic Wars clash or a Biblical rematch, or maybe a Crimean War hit-out using OHW. We'll have to see what I'm in the mood for.