Thursday, 30 July 2015

AAR: Hittite vs NK Egyptian (Sword & Spear) 29 July 2015

Both armies in this game were supplied by myself and comprised 500 points using 15mm figures. The game was played at the Swindon club and lasted 2½ hours. These armies had been in their boxes for over 10 years and have not been used since I fell out of love with the DBM rules. My late Bronze Age armies had been heavily used in a DBM campaign fought over many months at the Scimitar club in Coventry in the 1990’s. This was another test for the Sword and Spear rules (Mark Lewis; Polkovnik Productions, 2014). I had previously been introduced to these rules a few weeks ago (see last AAR).

I commanded the Hittites, whilst Steve commanded the Egyptians. The 6’x4’ table was again fairly open with a couple of gentle hills and rough areas, none of which had a significant effect on the game. The more open left flank (from my perspective) was the scene of a clash of chariots, the centre was occupied by infantry of both armies. The right flank was occupied by most of the light troops and was slightly restricted by a couple of areas of rough ground. I failed to take my camera, so there no pictures of this game (sorry!).

Both armies advanced and soon the chariots were engaged. Steve’s Egyptians were fairly successful in their archery which reduced the effectiveness of my light chariots when they clashed. I did hit a unit of Egyptian archers with a unit of heavy Hittite chariots, but the dice badly let me down and, too the surprise of both of us, they destroyed the chariots in a single turn! The game progressed smoothly and in a fairly balanced manner. Both armies became demoralised in the same game turn. The resulting morale tests hit the Hittites more than the Egyptians. The following turn the Egyptians had a good (6:1) dice draw and could really apply pressure on key weak Hittite units. The Hittite units were rapidly destroyed and the army collapsed.

A narrow win for the Egyptians, although the Hittites were only 1 unit away from victory. The direction of the battle lines had shifted, the Hittites were in the ascendant on the right flank, while the Egyptians had turned the Hittite left. This was another very enjoyable game. The rules flow smoothly and fast, with little reference to the main rulebook (or even the QRS). As a player you are faced with interesting decisions and dilemmas with regard to dice allocation. The comparative combat dice rolls work well and have a good balance between predictability and uncertainty, and the loss of my best chariots to a unit of bowmen came as an unlikely surprise. A 500 point aside battle can easily be completed within 2-3 hours, and this makes the rules very applicable for club games.

I have played half a dozen solo games with the rules using Bronze Age chariot armies, Hoplites against Persians, and Hungarians against Ottomans. All these were playable match-ups and a couple photos are shown below. I have found Sword and Spear work very well for solo play, and may possibly be one of the best solo rules I have used. The core mechanisms of dice allocation and combat resolution are solid. I can already imagine adapting these basic mechanisms for other periods where I’m searching for a rule set I like. This is possibly a high complement for a rule set, but it is a potentially dangerous reaction: I have seen many rule sets becoming devalued by tinkering and out of period adaptation (e.g. DBA).



Thursday, 23 July 2015

Off the Painting Table (July 2015) part 2

At the last Devizes group meeting, Ian had a bit of a clearout and brought along spare items he wished to get rid of (for free!). As my painting pile is very low at the moment, and I can’t resist a bargain, I took an assorted bag of 15mm ‘renaissance’ figures. Sorting through them at home I discovered I was able to put together some War of Roses bases for Bloody Barons (RFCM), some ECW pikemen, plus a schiltron of pre-feudal Scots – Great!

I immediately set to panting the WoR figures. My current army lacks the option of mercenary pikes and I decided to paint these in a fairly uniform manner. The additional bases of knights, fighting-men and hand gunners would also come in handy. 10 days later the bases were finished. I must play another game of Bloody Barons soon.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Boardgame session: 18July2015 suggested another game of Merchants and Marauders; she is clearly hooked! This time Elaine got Nicolas Jaures (French) as her character, again clearly a merchant type and therefore sailed a flute. I drew Machiel van Riebleek (Dutch), a very strong marauder who sailed a sloop. My life of piracy focussed on raiding French merchants and I soon gathered 4 French bounties! My raids generated enough gold for me to purchase a frigate and 3 Glory points. Now French merchantmen were scarce, so I turned my attention to the English to gain another Glory point and I successfully completed a Rumour. The Glory cards I had gained included a couple of Pardons, so I spent much of my gold clearly my name. I was on 5 Glory and had 20 gold stashed away.

Meanwhile Elaine clearly demonstrated her understanding of the trading rules. She completed a number of successful ‘In Demand’ trades for plenty of gold. She upgraded to a frigate (which was surprising because I thought a Galleon would be her choice). She skilfully avoided marauding NPC pirates and had success with one rumour. Suddenly she was back in her home port with 6 Glory, plus over 80 gold pieces, which was more than enough to take her to (and beyond) the 10 Glory winning post.

Another good, enjoyable game. Elaine has yet to try piracy but it seems to be working for her! My life of crime was better in this game but I did fail on a couple of merchant raids, which was disappointing. Again there was no ship-to-ship combat, and I think this will only become a factor in larger games with more players. NPC ships really act as blockers; a nuisance rather than a threat.