Monday 30 December 2019

2019 in review and thinking about 2020

It is that time of year again, when bloggers everywhere take stock of their achievements (or lack thereof), and start casting eyes towards the next 12 months. I love doing these posts, because by May my plans have usually gone right out the window and I've embarked on something totally unforeseen.

Games played - 26 - one a fortnight on average, which is pretty good for me. As always, there were periods of several games in a row, usually coinciding with the school holidays, followed by quite long hiatuses.
One of the Marlburian games in progress

Figures painted - 450 28mm figures, into which I've thrown war machines and cavalry counting as one figure.
210 15mm figures, which shows my decreasing interest in painting figures in this scale at the moment.
53 54mm infantry and five 54mm cavalry, a new venture this year which is high on the radar for 2020.
A lot of this output has ended up in Craig's cabinets.
A close up of Craig's Seleucids

Staying on track in January I wrote that my 2019 plans were 
"1. 28mm Roman Civil War using the Clash of Empires rules.
2. 28mm War of Spanish Succession using Black Powder.
3. 28mm Vikings and Anglo-Danes for SAGA
4. 28mm Greeks for Mortal Gods
5. 28mm Chaos Marines for 40K Killteam
6. 28mm Napoleonics for Song of Drums and Shakos (skirmish)"

Aside from number 3, I've done pretty well. A few more WSS units were finished this year, and a couple of Roman units, all the Mortal Gods figures were finished plus extras, Chaos Marines were painted, and I have enough Napoleonics for small skirmish gaming - not that I've played any yet. The SAGA stuff is all going elsewhere.
Skirmish figures for Napoleonics 

From out of nowhere - A few of these this year. Aussie Bushrangers for Legends of the Old West - not only purchased but painted and terrain completed! There was also Robin Hood and Eureka's Romeo and Juliet set, which I couldn't ignore. Robin's project will be painted when I've purchased some decent opposition. As soon as the Baron's Wars figures appear in the Footsore store...
Bush rangers and police. A potential campaign to play out this year.

Maybe one day - Rebels and Patriots spurred me to buy enough British and French Napoleonics to build 24 point forces for each side, but that project is in hiatus at the moment. There is also a Battalia box of Pike and Shotte waiting to be made up for Pikeman's Lament, but again that seems quite a distant prospect. Fleeting impulses...

Other stuff - Although this is a hobby blog, Some personal reflections wouldn't go amiss. I think I can say that it has been an up and down year, but by the end I was feeling very good. I've taken on extra roles in different areas for next year, one of which is a promotion and the others are basically paid professional development. My delve into stoicism as a personal philosophy has been rewarding, and with finding the right level of anxiety medication has seen me cope with some fairly trying moments. I have to say that mentally I feel the best I ever have at the moment. Just need to straighten out the body now...
On the negative side, the year started with Dad in hospital (he's recovered quite a bit now) and my cat ending his days. I said goodbye to my 14 year long companion two weeks ago. As the only other male in my house, he and I had a very tight bond. I'm going to miss you Oscar.
My poor old friend just before the end

Right, enough of that, what are my goals for this year?

Painting - I have figures to paint for Craig this year, but less than this year, and I am going to do my best not to paint for others outside of this. I really want to get my own projects completed. These are:
1. 54mm WWI and NorthWest Frontier figures. I want to get these glossy toy soldiers complete dthis year.
2. Star Wars Legion. Having painted loads of Craig's stuff, it is time to get into some of my own.
3. Roman Civil War. It was on the list for last year, and it is back again. I would like to rip into it in the first quarter of the year.
4. WSS in Spain. I'd love to get this finished this year, but I'm going to aim for being 2/3 of the way through by the end of the year.
5. Mortal Gods Persians - I have an army, just unpainted, and not including the cards yet, so I'd like to rectify both of those things fairly early on in the year

Expect more of this - but I'll be painting them for my own collection!

Gaming - These are my periods that I'm going to try and play games for this year, some of them may have to wait for a bit more painting.
1. Mortal Gods - Greeks, Persians, and maybe some undead Mythic guys.
2. Clobberin' Time - continuing to develop the NDC Universe, which is a bit stalled at the moment.
3. War and Conquest Roman Civil War - after a few trial games I decided that these were the best successors to WAB, and I'd like to play them a bit more and get to know them a bit better.
4. Great War 54 - self explanatory really
5. The Men Who Would Be Kings with the 54mm North West Frontier collections.
6. SPQR - I've bought the starter and would like to see how it plays for Gallic Wars.
7. My Featherstone style Marlburian rules - their last outing proved quite successful.
8. Burrows and Badgers - I've purchased another warband and want to try and play it solo, although my daughter might be up for a couple of games.
Expect to see these guys in action in 2020

Purchasing - I'm going to try and have a quiet year minis buying wise (famous last words). I need some more 54mm World War I stuff, and a bit of Star Wars Legion stuff, but otherwise my purchasing should really hinge around terrain and paints. At some stage I need to pick up some items from Footsore Minis - the Persian cards, Mythic (when it is released) and some Baron's Wars figures for the Robin Hood project.

Other - my Xmas presents this year (alongside another Burrows and Badgers warband) was a subscription to Marvel Unlimited and a new tablet to read it on. I've already devoured the Eternity Saga by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and I'm catching up on the new Fantastic Four and X-Men at the moment. Then I plan to delve into the new Star Wars run. So with Disney putting out great shows like the Mandalorian, I'm planning to devote a little more time to my other two hobbies of Star Wars and Comics in 2020.

So a pretty successful hobby year, with a definite plan of action ahead. We'll see where we are in 12 months time.


Saturday 30 November 2019

Defence in Depth

It may be a while before I get another game in, so I decided to roll up a scenario from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames book. The result was number 23, Defence in Depth, which has an outnumbered force trying to delay a larger attacking group. The set up has several woods, and the attacker is not supposed to have local knowledge, so cannot enter them. This was great for the defenders, as they were able to put a speed I mean militia unit in the woods who would have to be shot out, rather than expelled through melee.

Militia in the woods face the might of the Confederate army.

Looking from the Bourbon right, there is one gun and one dragoon regiment to guard the fords.
 Two of the defending units had to be militia grade, so that was easy enough for the skirmishers, who are militia, and then it was decided that the cavalry would also be militia status.
The Viejos Murados hold the built up area (BUA).
 The other two units rolled up were an infantry unit and an artillery piece. The infantry were placed in the built up area, the artillery to cover the centre of the table.
The militia take cover behind their favourite trees, prepared to delay the advancing enemy.
 The attackers had to get 3 units off the enemy table edge.
In the first turns the Confederates sent two units towards the far ford as the central ford was covered by the firefight at the woods.

The Dutch St Amant regiment moved up to the bridge while the Allied artillery bombarded the BUA

The Miquelets were feeling brave as they crossed the ford to cover the Starhemberg regiment. Unfortunately their fire was ineffective.

Part of the solo scenario on this was that no unit was allowed to cross the central ford until the militia unit had been neutralised. This led to a prolonged firefight between the Osnabruck Regiment and Rivers' Regiment on one side, and the brave militia on the other.

The St Amant regiment cross the bridge. They would charge the BUA in the next turn.

Repulsed! The St Amant Regiment is sent backwards by the Old Purples!

The Miquelets are regretting their last ineffective volley - the Mahoney Dragoons rout them!

At the same time the militia finally breaks. There's only so much a bunch of farmers with guns can take!

St Amant charge the Old Purples and roll a perfect 100 on the percentage dice. The Spanish unit is pushed out of the BUA.

Now the central column crosses the river to make its way off the table.

But at the same time the militia dragoons do it again. Starhemberg's boys are sent packing!

With no enemy to its front the Spanish artillery is wheeled to deliver enfilade fire into the flanks of the Confederate infantry.

Disaster -the general is killed! He had a telescope and still didn't see the roundshot coming!

The Spanish general rallies and turns his dragoons. Can he get them into the action in time to prevent the breakthrough?

The artillery continues to do damage to the marching Austrians.

While the St Amant and Viejos Murados continue their murderous duel.
 Several moves later and the Austrians and British have left the table. For victory only one more Confederate unit needs to get through - the St Amant regiment opposed by the Spanish infantry.
Two last crashing volleys and there is no more opposition!

They take a shot in the flank from the artillery - one more hit and they are routed, meaning a Spanish victory.

But they are now shielded by the woods, and the dragoons are too far away.

The Dutch leave the table and it is a near run Confederate victory.
A great game. Man of the match went to the Militia unit, that stod like a Stonewall for ages in their woods. The Dragoons were a close second.
I used my Featherstone-style Marlburian rules for this one, which rely heavily on percentage dice, and they worked really well. Simple to use and fun to play. I have a couple of amendments to make to the firing table, which I started playing mid game, and they worked much better. Otherwise, things went very smoothly. I'll give them their own rules page on the blog when I've amended them.


Sunday 17 November 2019

The Sun King Attacks

Also published on the NDC handbook blog

In this exciting issue:

The Sun King has been hired by the Proud Pound Pups gang to take out an informant. The only problem for the villain is that he has the time and place of where the informant will be, but the chapter of the PPP he is liaising with have been taken out by Captain Kiwi and Samurai Mouse. As a result, the Sun King has no idea who his target is. So in his typically methodical way, he and his court are to kill everybody in the area!
Captain Kiwi and Samurai Mouse, getting this info from their recent raid, are heading for the scene!

The intersection where the informant will be.

The Sun King and his Courtiers stride down the middle of the street, guns ready!

Captain Kiwi and Samurai Mouse appear from the other en of the street.

Before killing the civilians, the Courtiers must move into base to base contact and say 'This is from the PPP, nark!'. The first civilian goes down.

On the other side o the street another one bites the dust!

And so does the first victim's lovely companion! 'Captain Kiwi - Help!'

Charging across the street, CK clobbers a Courtier and sends him reeling backwards.

The SUn King himself comes forward to blast Captain Kiwi with his Solar gauntlets!

CK avoids the beams damage and counter -charges, knocking the Sun King back!

With 3 on 1 Captain Kiwi is outnumbered, but shrugs off a few bullets and knocks out a Courtier.

Followed by a second devastating attack on the Sun King himself! The arch-villain is down!

Meanwhile, Samurai Mouse is also in the action. He fronts up to a Courtier in the middle of the intersection. In the background another civilian is shot down...

CK deals with the last Courtier in his vicinity, then rushes to the aid of a civilian.

This time, the civvie had been tustling with the Courtier, an it was easy for Captain Kiwi to take the crim down!

Samurai Mouse deals to the Courtier

The charges through and takes down the last of the Sun King's retinue
At the end of the game I rolled for the Sun King, who managed to revive and escape while his opponents were otherwise distracted. There were 10 civilians on the board at the start of the game, and four had been killed. I rolled a D10. On a 1-4 the informant was one of the victims. On a 5+ they had survived. I rolled a 1. The informant had been the first guy assassinated. So victory in this game went to the baddies, despite all of them having their butts handed to them.

Captain Kiwi with his nanite regeneration bots gets 3 red dice in defence, so every time he was hit he shrugged it off. It makes him damn hard to take down. He also got a lot of reactivation face cards, which enabled him to be suitably heroic. He got some lucky breaks, but I need to run him in another game to work out if he is just too resilient. All of the Courtiers are Level 2 characters in Clobberin' Time. I find that henchmen need this or they last about 10 seconds in the game.

Saturday 9 November 2019

Hoogh's Farm

In memory of the late Stuart Asquith I decided to bring out the toy soldiers for a replay of the 'Hook's Farm' scenario from HG Wells' book Little Wars. This was a scenario that Stuart apparently played many times, and in accordance with his love of simple rules and 54mm glossy toys, I set it up for a Great War game.
The assault on Hoogh's Farm.
Unfortunately I only have two units a side painted, so there is one unpainted British unit in this game. I also played with the set-up a little. A German HMG was hunkered down in Hoogh's Farm, while to the east a small force of 5 Germans held Faerphlaae Church. Two German units of 8 figures each were placed on the table edge to help counterattack against the British assault.
The British force consisted of 3 units, each of 10 infantry.
The battlefield. Hoogh's farm to the left, Faerphlaae Church to the right. Notice I'm using what kid's blocks I could find for the ruined buildings.
Each turn a British shell would fall on a unit to represent creeping barrage.

Faerphlaae Church seen from the British trencehs.
The German garrison awaits the attack.

The British started by getting out of their trenches and advancing. Immediately they came under fire from the garrisons in the buildings.
The British on the left leave their trenches.
The maxim gun opens up
Casualties are suffered - but morale stays strong!
The exact same story on the right.
The Germans had begun to move up for the counterattack as well.
Using move and fire, the Tommies advance. Luckily the German counterattack is pinned by the barrage.
Around Hoogh's Farm the Germans are moving up
Surging forward the British infantry take a toll of the Germans, but they are unable to assault the Church.
The German HMG is pinned and the middle unit starts hitting the counterattacking German infantry in the flank.
Carnage around the Church - The German counterattackers are pinned, but the Brits stay strong.
The German HMG is unable to rally and is knocked out in the next turn.
The Faerphlaae Church garrison have defeated the attack, but at huge cost.
Only 3 men are left standing, and they are pinned - unable to move or fire.
Leaving the centre force free to flank the Germans around the farm and wipe them out.
The battle ends with the triumphant occupation of Hoogh's Farm. 
The simple one page of rules I have stood up extremely well - except for one problem. I hadn't thought about how to deal with the HMG. The morale rules as written don't really work, and to have it wiped out by 2 hits would make it of very limited value indeed. So I devised rules for crewed weapons. Not just HMGs but mortas and field guns for when (if) I get them. Essentially no matter how many times an crewed weapon is hit in a turn, it will only ever count one hit and become pinned. All crewed weapons rally on a 3+ on a d6, which means that they are 66% likely to get back to business in the next turn. A second pin means the weapon and the crew are destroyed.

The whole game took an hour. Short, sweet and fun. With more luck the Germans could have done better, but even so they retained one objective while losing the other, so it was a draw. This bodes well for these rules, which, I must say, are extremely simple. I think they capture the flavour of the Great War well though - the high body count would certainly attest to that.