Monday, 29 June 2015

After Action Report: Teutonics (Lion Rampant) 28 June 2015 have previously reviewed Lion Rampant (Daniel Mersey; Osprey Publishing #8, 2014). Finally I managed to organise a game or two at Devizes Wargames Club using my Teutonic and Baltic Pagan forces. My opponent was Ian, who was using the rules for the first time.

The first game was the ‘Bloodbath’ scenario and I commanded the Teutonic knights. The table was liberally covered with small areas of wood, marsh and rough ground. Both armies arrived on table in a rather stuttering manner due to failed activation rolls. My crossbow troops (foot and mounted) rapidly knocked out the Pagan missile troops (horse archers and bidowers), trying to fulfil my ‘Boast’ that more enemy would die by the arrow rather than the sword. One unit of Teutonic knights, supported by the foot spearmen, then advanced and engaged the enemy foot, who had not reached the areas of cover in the centre of the table. Control was lost as both sides were forced in to ‘Wild Charges’. The Pagans came out worst, losing a couple of units, and total victory appeared to be in the hands of the Teutonics. At this point the Teutonic foot badly failed a Courage test and routed, whilst the knights were gradually whittled down and eliminated. Unfortunately this was too little, too late for the Pagans. They lost their finally foot unit and their commanders Men-at-Arms were shot to pieces by my crossbowmen. One Pagan Bidower, plus the General finally retreated off the table and a Teutonic victory was achieved.


We had time for a second game, this time Ian took the Teutonics. We played the ‘Sausages with Mustard’ scenario, and my Pagans were defending the central 4 objectives. The Teutonics advanced rapidly across a broad front, whilst the Pagans advanced their horse archers to support the forward deployed, defending Pagan foot unit. In this game the Pagan horse archers saw off the opposing Teutonic mounted crossbows and did seriously damage the foot crossbows. Ian threw very poor activation dice which prevented his missile troops from effectively returning fire. The Teutonic spearmen drew out the defending Pagan foot away from the objectives. The Pagan foot were subsequently destroyed by a unit of knights, but the Teutonic spearmen had become Battered and steadfastly refused to rally, and eventually retreated off table. Ian now had a problem; although he controlled the objectives, his only units were the wild Teutonic knights! They never stayed long enough to set fire to the objectives as they constantly charged off after the second wave of advancing Pagan foot. One unit of knights became involved in a prolonged battle with some foot on the edge of woods. After a number of turns the Teutonic knights were ground down and eliminated. This gave the victory to the Pagans; no objectives burned, and the Pagan ‘Boast’ of destroying the unit of knights fulfilled.


I think we both enjoyed the games, even though Ian lost, and the fast pace enabled two games to be completed in less than 2 ½ hours. The ‘Dice Gods’ were not in a good mood, Ian managed to throw appalling dice at critical times during the afternoon. I sometimes doubt whether the laws of probability hold true in our games, because frequently one-or-other of us has awful luck. Lion Rampant works as a set of light-weight, fast, fun rules, ideal for relaxed club gaming. The commander characters and ‘Boasts’ add good variations to the scenarios. I still feel that 6 figure missile units (bidowers, horse archers and mounted crossbows) are a bit overpowered compared to dedicated foot crossbowmen. The pair of forces we used suffer from a lack of control due to ‘Wild Charges’, and I certainly feel that if they do not Charge they should be allowed to move under normal activation.

To conclude, Lion Rampant gets a ‘Thumbs Up’ and will see further outings in the future. The next planned game at Devizes will be Crusaders versus Saracens using Ian’s figures and introducing a new set of rules; ‘Swords and Spears’.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Boardgame session 21Jun2015

Due to decorating I have been severely restricted in my gaming activities for the last few weeks. All the ‘detritus’ from our dining room needed to be moved and stored, and the most appropriate site was my wargame den (i.e. the garage). But the task is now complete and we invited Val and Chris around to inaugurate the new dining room (and to play some boardgames). started with a game of ‘Kingsburg’, which I bought at the UK Games Expo. I was really looking forward to getting this on the table for the first time. The game components looked great, and all the players quickly picked up the rules. The victor was Val, but none of us could put our finger on how or why she won. I felt the game was disappointingly bland: All the years were the same, all the players built similar structures, the Winter invasions tended to be easily dealt with, and surprisingly, there was not the level of competitive play when choosing Advisors. It was rare that one player blocked another, causing them to waste dice, and when it did happen it was often accidental and an apology was offered (?). There is an extension to the game, ‘Forge a Realm’, which I don’t have but I have read a few reviews of. This does address all the issues we found with the game by introducing 5 additional modules to the game: (1) increasing the number of ‘lines’ on the players boards, thereby increasing the diversity of potential constructions (good). (2) introducing variable building ‘lines’ for each player, thereby forcing players into differing strategies (good). (3) variable, player specific Advisors, again allowing more differentiation between players (possibly OK). (4) allowing for variable yearly affects which will remove the blandness of the yearly turns (good). (5) introducing tokens, rather than a dice roll, for the Kings Aid in the Winter invasion segment (probably good). The military turn segment is by far the weakest area of the game in my opinion. The use of tokens may work; it would make Advisors who allow a sneak peak at the coming invasion, vital to all players, allowing them to accurately decide which token to use. I have read about other interesting alternative variants to solve the Military side of the game: (a) instead of a single dice roll applying to all players, each player makes his/her own dice roll. I think this might work, although some players who roll badly might feel aggrieved. (b) use a different dice (numbered 1,2,2,3,3,4) instead of an ordinary D6. This would make resisting invasions more difficult but less random, and could be used in conjunction with option (a) above. In future games I will try these options, but in the longer term I fully intend to buy ‘Forge a Realm’ because it clearly does address all the problems we found with the game. finished the afternoon with a game of ‘Sewer Pirats’. I previously wrote about this game (see report on 29th May 2015) and my views remain pretty much the same. Playing with 4 players, rather than 2 players, gives an even better gaming experience. The rules are light enough to be easily picked up by new players, and the light theme allows players to enjoy the game without a high degree of competitiveness. I won by a good margin, We all felt the Rat character was the strongest, whilst the Snail character was the weakest. The other characters had their own adherents; I like the Toad, Elaine preferred the Cockroach, Chris used the Racoon a lot, and Val seemed to use the Weasel character. I can see ‘Sewer Rats’ remaining as a fun, light filler game.

Chatting afterwards with Elaine, we agreed that the next boardgame session hosted by us, would feature a different type of game. We think we might revive an old classic such as ‘Kingmaker’, which we have not played for years and which was a favourite of my mothers. We may play ‘Merchants and Marauders’ instead, but I dread to try and teach the rules of such a complex, multi-strategy type of game. I think all participants would need to watch some instructional videos before sitting down to this game!