Thursday, 29 September 2016

AAR: Teutonics (Lion Rampant); 28Sept2016 have previously reviewed and played Lion Rampant (Daniel Mersey; Osprey Publishing #8, 2014), and decided to dust them off for another game using my Teutonic forces. We played the ‘Fugitive’ scenario, with me using the Baltic Pagans and attempting to rescue the hidden fugitive. The terrain was fairly wooded, with a central hamlet located on a stream (rough going).

Both sides got off to a stuttering start, but I managed to move my small unit of Bidets forward to check the three possible locations for the fugitive that lay on my side of the table. If I had found him (>50% probability) then an easy win would have resulted because the Teutonics had hardly moved forward at this stage. But no, he must be hiding further away and I would have to cross the stream and engage the Teutonic knights who had finally managed to advance! On the right flank the Teutonic sergeants (mounted crossbows) shot at my lead unit of ferocious foot, killing 3 figures. I took the courage test (with a -3 modifier) and inevitably threw snake eyes! The first unit of Pagans took to the hills. In the centre I moved my Bidets into the hamlet gardens to check the next fugitive location, but I mis-measured and left them with reach of some Teutonic knights, who promptly charged in. Knights fighting in rough going is not good for their health; I killed 3 of the enemy but lost 4 of my bidets, who routed. Two Pagan units down and my army was now faced with the prospect of battling forward. On my left flank my horse archers were facing the second unit of Teutonic knights on the other side of the stream.

I was feeling the game to be lost at this point, but all changed, not because of my skill but instead due the Wild Charge rule. On my right flank, my second, supporting unit of ferocious foot charged the mounted crossbows and drove them back, battered. On my left flank, the second unit of Teutonic knights charged my horse archers (who failed to evade) and were defending the stream bank. The rough terrain again helped me, and I killed 2 opponents while only losing 1 figure myself, driving him back. I then shot a figure in my turn, before the knights were forced (by the Wild Charge characteristic) to try charging again. As the knights now only had 6 dice, I did not attempt to evade but instead fought back, doing further damage and forcing them back again! In the centre, my third unit of ferocious foot were sitting in a patch of marshy, rough ground and each time I diced for them to Wild Charge out against the Teutonic (requiring only 5+ on 2D6), they failed to budge. In contrast, the weak Teutonic knights (plus leader) in front of them decided (even after their bad experience versus the Bidets) to repeatedly Wild Charge into the marsh! It did not end well. They were all destroyed, including the leader, and effectively the game was lost.  Only 2 Teutonic foot units remained, and I quickly located the fugitive in some woods using my victorious horse archers to escort him back to my baseline. As a sideline, it was not a 5:0 victory for the Pagans because the Teutonics did fulfil one of their ‘boasts’ by forcing my lead unit of foot to fail the first Courage test of the game.

A strange game, but enjoyable. If I had found the fugitive in the first locations, then no game would have resulted and victory would have been too easy. The real problem concerns the Wild Charge, which I commented on previously in my earlier blog posts. As a player you feel a real lack of control; I didn’t choose to repeatedly hold my foot unit in the marsh, and equally the knights didn’t choose to charge over the stream, or into the hamlet gardens, or into the marsh. All these actions were decided by the ‘dice gods’ and the events just happened; was there any need for players? I suspect the root of the problem lies in the pair of forces used; both are heavily influenced by the Wild Charge characteristic. Maybe next time I will suggest trying the game without this characteristic and see how it goes. Or maybe I will play using a house rule that mounted troops do no test to Wild Charge foot in rough terrain, whilst foot will not Wild Charge mounted troops in the open.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Off the Painting Table (Sept 2016)

I am currently between projects and therefore at a bit of a loss about what to paint next. Searching my ‘horde’ of unpainted/assembled figures there was a couple of sprues of ECW figures. This was a quick and simple choice which would add to my collection of figures for skirmish games. I think the figures are from Warlord, and I choose red coats to fit with my existing under-strength units.

I also painted a couple of figures a grey-coated Scots, and I found a sprue of riderless horses which are always useful on the battlefield. I find it strange that in skirmish games, casualties to cavalry involve removal of both horse and rider; units just disappear. Where possible I like to place the odd riderless horse and casualty figure to at least remind players that some action has occurred.

The addition of these figures has encouraged me to get some of my ECW skirmish rules from the shelf. Maybe it is time to have another go at Donnybrook?

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Boardgame session: 24 Sept 2016

This will be a very brief report because we primarily visited Val and Chris to meet their new kittens (Sansa and Arya) for the first time, rather than play boardgames. Unfortunately Snowydog had to spend the day in the kennels (it’s not a good move for your dog to eat the hosts new pets). The 12 week old kittens were great fun and had beautiful markings!

We did manage to play a game of Dominion using the Seaside expansion, which neither Elaine or I  had played before. One of the great things about Dominion is the endless replay ability and that each expansion introduces new cards and effects. The flip-side of this is fact that you never seem to encounter all the different cards you own. I possess the base game plus the Prosperity expansion and we still find cards that are new to us coming out! From a single first play I get the feeling that Seaside does offer significant interest; the Pirate Ship card is a nice aggressive idea, stripping treasure from players hands; I made great use of the Island card to de-clutter my hand of Land/Victory cards; the Smuggler card was excellent allowing you to acquire cards for free; and the Embargo card was used by all to reduce the acquisition of those nasty Pirate Ship cards. I always find it hard to keep track of the orange period effect cards but otherwise the game flowed well, and I eventually won which is always nice.
We followed by playing a quick game of Parade (which I have discussed previously). I just love the artwork on this simple card game, and the game play requires considerable thought. Chris won the game, but I was a close second. I would love to own a copy of this out-of-print game, because I think it makes an excellent filler with simple rules that can be easily explained to a newbie.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Boardgame session: 17/18 Sept 2016

In my previous post I recorded my wargaming failures playing against my old friend, Graham. Rather than just play wargames all w/e away from Elaine, we ventured from the table and played some boardgames with her.

The first game I played was Mr Jack against Graham (whilst Elaine was preparing dinner). I took the role of Mr Jack (disguised as Sherlock). Graham narrowed down the possible suspects and prevented me from escaping off the board. In the last pair of turns (7 & 8) Graham narrowed the suspects to only two, and the last turn had determined Sherlock to be Mr Jack. But, I managed to ensure Graham had no final character who could reach Sherlock to make the accusation! Therefore, a win for me and Graham would not escape from the w/e undefeated. The game really forces you think hard and is deceptively difficult. I was glad to get my first win of the w/e.
Next, just before dinner, we fitted in a quick game of Tsuro. Elaine got boxed in with no choice that would not take her off the board. I emerged as the winner (again). Tsuro is an excellent filler game, especially for new players because the rules are so simple, also the graphics are very pretty.

After dinner we played a game of Blueprints. The rules are simple to explain, and maybe we taught them too well because Graham comprehensively beat the both of us.

We finished the night with a game of Dominion (base set, using the starter combination of cards). Graham had played this boardgame before, so fully understood the strategy. He loaded his deck with Village and Smithy cards, and in one memorable turn had a run of cards allowing him multiple actions and a pile of money, which enabled him to purchase two (or possibly three) of the valuable Province victory cards. On reflection, this single turn pretty much allowed Graham to win the final scoring phase. So the evening finished with both Graham and I having two wins each.
Next day (after playing wargames in the morning, where I was defeated again) we played a couple of games of ‘Ticket to Ride, Europe’, which surprisingly Graham had never played before. In the first game Graham got stuck trying to build tunnels, whilst Elaine beat me by a single point! I was sure I was going to win (must have added the scores wrong!). The second game was dominated by Elaine who streaked ahead. So, the w/e finished all square. A thoroughly enjoyable gaming session. Graham remains the dominant force in the wargaming arena (one day I will beat him!), but on the boardgame front things are more balanced.