Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rules Archive

Following Trebian's post from last Friday, and Dave Knight's as well, I thought I would do a similar compilation list of owned rules.

The trick is that they must be a hard copy and purchased by me, but I'm also going to include gifts.

I actually thought I had more rules than this, but I suppose that's because I buy too many boardgames as well!

Ancient and Medieval Wargaming - Neil Thomas rules. Simple set with lots of army lists. Open to interpretation so house rules need to be sorted out. Makes for a fun game. Jumbos are overpowered, but that's good if you're playing with your kids because you just give them the elephant army!

Ancient Warfare - A gift from a friend. Uses exotic basing, so probably won't play these.

Armati and Advanced Armati - Ancients rules from Arty Conliffe. Have no local opponent so have only played once and then solo. Would like to try them some more.

Broadsword - Ebay buy. Diceless medieval miniatures.

Classical Hack - Ancients rules from Phil Viverito. First set of rules I bought, but there are some things about them I didn't much like, so eventually moved on.

Command Decision 2nd Edition - WWII set from GDW. Not yet played.

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Very popular game from Richard Borg that uses hexes to regulate movement and cards to activate units. Produced as a board game but designed with miniatures in mind.

Corvus - Ancient naval miniatures rules from the Society of Ancients. Not played yet.

Crossfire - Remarkable set of WW2 rules. I'm not yet experienced enough to rate them properly from play, but I love the ideas behind them.

DBA - The classic 12-element set. I don't mind it the big battle version, but doesn't really appeal to me enough to learn all the ins and outs of the rules.

DBM - Wanted to like these, but the gaminess of some of the tactics put me off a bit.  Might get back into it for some solo games at some stage.  The army lists are a fantastic resource.

Field of Glory - Played one game but didn't really grab us and haven't played again since.

Hail Caesar - Development of Warmaster Ancients. Rules that seem to suit a casual club scene with big battles involving beer and lots of players. Not very appealing to me for solo play for some reason, even though they should work OK.

Johnny Reb II - Classic American Civil War rules. Order chits, strict sequence of play, really enjoyable. Sad to say I've still only had one game.

Kampfgruppe Commander II - WW2 rules. Not yet played, but there are things about them I like.

Legion - Early set from Phil Sabin.  Detailed look at ancient warfare. I need to get an appropriate hex mat sorted out to give these a try.

Might of Arms - A recent purchase. Keen to look at these a bit more.

Modern Spearhead - Modern adaption of the Spearhead rules. Gripping games at the outset, but they can become a bit of a grind as you end up rolling, rolling, rolling and rolling again for rockets, artillery, mortars and air strikes. Games are often decided by who can get their flank march to arrive at the right moment. My opponent generally outplays me tactically and yet we end up at around 50/50 in results, which goes to show that luck and playing the Americans is important!

Napoleon's Battles - Classic Napoleonics set. Probably too long in the tooth to make the time investment needed to learn these now. If I'd got them when I was a teenager I'd have been all over them.

Shako - More Arty Conliffe rules.This time Napoleonic.

Shattered Lances - Interesting Crusades set. Not sure why we haven't played these yet. Have been meaning to for years!

Shipwreck - Modern naval. Looking forward to trying these out.

Spearhead - Good rules for WW2 with 1/300 scale miniatures. Less arty-reliant than the Modern version, but I've only played twice, so it may depend on the scenario.

Strategos II / Lost Battles - Innovative rules from Phil Sabin. Best ancients rules I've played. Makes for great stories and historical outcomes.  Hard to beat.

Warhammer Ancients Battles - Well known GW set for 28mm figures. Not really suited for 15mm figures, but you can play it.

Warhammer English Civil War - A gift from a friend. Familiar Warhammer mechanics.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle, battle for Skull Pass set - 3rd edition was my introduction to miniatures gaming, and bought this out of nostalgia. Not the same game however, and not yet played in this form.

Warmaster Ancients - Designed for 10mm figures. Idiosyncratic basing for pike and shock cavalry, but an interesting set of rules. Played one game solo.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Games in the classroom

It's coming up to the end of the school year here in Japan and a few of our long-term kids students are leaving.  They tell us it's because they can no longer fit English classes into their increasingly busy schedules, but maybe it's just that I stink as a teacher!

Whatever the reason, the incontrovertible fact is that some of them are going, so as a wee last-class treat I brought out my copy of DungeonQuest today and spent the last ten minutes of each lesson letting them play.

They would all simultaneously draw a tile and move, and if a tile looked a touch dangerous I would 'oooh' and 'aaaah' a bit and get the student affected to roll a die. If they rolled lowish I would bring out a creature (World of Warcraft board game: I've never played you, but your figures make good monsters!) for them to fight, and they'd have to beat its score on opposed dice before they could continue moving.

If they came to a locked door they would need to roll to get through it; a trap and they'd need to roll to jump over it; a spider web roll to escape it, etc.

To continue the illusion of it being an English lesson I had them each make sentences describing their action each turn:  "I go here!"; "I fight the monster!"; "I jump the infernal pit!"; "I swing my trusty blade and disembowel the goblin chief, spilling his entrails all over my textbook!", etc.

When they got to the treasure trove in the centre of the dungeon they had to fight the boss monster, a large green Balrog lookalike (thank you again, World of Warcraft!).  After the monster was slain (and of course it always was), they would roll dice to collect treasure, and whoever got the most gold would be hailed most triumphant.

They loved it, and it reminded me again how much fun games can be, especially when you make up the rules as you go along.  And you know what, it works: they chatter away using English, hardly even realising they are doing it, and end the lesson wanting more.

Sometimes - only sometimes, mind! - teaching can seem like the best job in the world.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Online interaction best practice

There's a song by a band named Lynyrd Skynyrd called 'Simple Man' in which the Southern rockers relate some advice their mother(s) gave them.  "Don't live too fast"; "Don't forget there's someone up above"; "Be a simple kind of man"; "Forget your lust for the rich man's gold", etc.

It occurs to me that wargame-centric bloggers need their own version of this, but rather than present it in musical form, I've decided to be equally imperative but more prosaic, as this is in keeping with our style.

So here we go.  You can hum it if you prefer.

1) Always comment on the posts of popular and respected wargaming bloggers.  Be aggressive.  For example: "You may think the article you've just posted demonstrates a good way to make nice cheap trees for 6mm ACW games, but I have a far better method."

This implies that you must be someone who has a lot to offer the community.

2) Be friendly.  Post links to your blogposts everywhere you can.  If the posts you link to have nothing to do with the topic at hand then so much the better: people need to expand their horizons at times.  Crossposting at TMP is a good idea, as is flooding your friends' facebook pages.

3) Don't be positive just for the sake of it.  When you are reviewing figures, complain about the service you got from the retailer, the poor quality of the castings and the lack of variety in the poses.  You never know if the retailers/manufacturers you dealt with ever see your post they may say to themselves "Gosh, I must send this dashing young opinion-shaper free stuff to placate him."

4) Be helpful.  If someone somewhere is asking a question, always answer it.  If you don't know the answer, use an especially authoritative tone.  For example, "Take it from me, you CAN use the Essex 25mm late Roman range to expand your Warhammer Empire army."

4) Don't be afraid to repeat yourself.

5) Be gentle with newcomers.  Don't rip them to shreds for disagreeing with you or for not knowing something that you already know. Just point out to them firmly but forcefully that they are wrong, and that since they clearly don't have much of a clue maybe they should shut up.

Or if you are really independently-minded you could just listen to the song and come up with your own adaption.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shots of Sentinum

I was looking through the camera today and found some shots from a solo game of Sentinum I played in January.  It's a slow news day, so why not post some?

Game was, naturally, Lost Battles.

15mm Minifigs here, with command stands from Magister Militum.

Mix of Lancashire, Magister Militum, Old Glory, Tin Soldier and Xyston for the Samnite and Gallic foot

Miniatures Wars (from Strategia Nova) Romans, Miniatures Wars and Old Glory Samnites.

Old Glory Chariots, Xyston Gallic horse, Magister Militum Romans. 

I think we can see who won this!

Some notes on the whiteboard...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rise of Rome Campaign play test

I got though a play test of the campaign game last night to assess where it was at.  I used a simple dice roll to resolve the battles, with the odds being either even stevens or +1 to one side of the other, depending on the historical situation.

This is the map used, though in play it became clear that it needs a few tweaks...

Map adapted from this one here.

Each turn is made up of three phases, which may be either a Roman or an enemy action, depending on a dice roll.  On an enemy action, the general result is that the dominant enemy faction attacks Roman or Roman contested territory.  Depending on the turn and the enemy, one side or the other may have an advantage in the battle.

On a Roman action, the Roman player can make an attack against enemy territory, build up fleet points (necessary for attacks across water), or attempt to pacify a contested territory.  Again, this will likely result in a battle, with the odds determined by the situation and the time.

When Carthage becomes active, the dominant enemy starts to play with a little more intelligence, using its actions to attack Sicily or Iberia instead of battering itself against Rome solely.

Changes to the map -

  • Add a sea route between Rome and the Ebro region in Iberia.  
  • Add a land route between Cisalpine Gaul and Samnium 
  • Include fleet points needed for sea movement on each route.  
  • Include a combat advantage marker to show which side (if either) has combat advantage at the present time.

Changes to the rules -

  • Build in incentives for Carthage to conquer Sicily and Iberia, perhaps in the form of stored +1 attacks to represent Hannibal's campaigns.    
  • Work out a better scheme for 'pacification' of contested territories.
  • Build in better rules for Sicily.

Changes to the info -

  • Better clarification of who holds battle advantage.
  • Create a table to show possible divergences from the historically dominant enemy

As you can see, there is still plenty to work on!  

Regarding the game, Rome got belted early on and was unable to make much headway in Samnium and Magna Graecia against determined defence.  By the time of the First Punic War, Carthage was able to take Sicily without Roman interference (despite bad dice rolls meaning it took a long time to do so) and then consolidate in Iberia.

Rome finally completed the conquest of Southern Italy just before Hannibal appeared, and at game end, thanks to his rampage, Carthage controlled most of the board, with only Rome and Magna Graecia red, and just the Ebro region contested.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rise of Rome Solitaire Campaign

I'm working on a few ideas for a solo campaign on the Rise of Rome from 300BC through 200BC, ie, from Sentinum to Zama.

The plan is to use very simple rules and perhaps a small set of event cards to spice things up.  It can be used to provide a context for tabletop battles or to race against time and try to better the historical rate of expansion.

If it looks promising I might do the rules up properly and send them in to Slingshot, but we'll have to see how we go on that...

Map adapted from this one here

Monday, February 24, 2014

Alexander II of Epirus in Italy

On the Lost Battles yahoo group there is a member named Carolyne (Megalostrata) who is playing a campaign derived from Phil Sabin's Empire.  She usually uses DBMM to resolve the battles, but last week she posted details of the latest engagement and it sounded so interesting I decided to use it as the basis for a game of my own.

The situation is that Alexander II of Epirus, Pyrrhus's son, has joined forces with the denizens of Magna Graecia to take advantage of a Rome weakened by a just-concluded Punic War. If successful, this brave endeavour will establish once and for all the independence of the Greek city states of Southern Italy.

Alexander has brought over 15,000 phalangites, 15,000 mercenaries and 4000 horse to combine with the Tarentines.

In Lost Battles terms, his army looks like this:

  • 25,000 phalangites organised into six average (Macedonian) and two levy (Tarentine) units. 
  • 7,500 Thracians and Illyrians, or three average heavy infantry units.
  • 5,000 peltasts, or two heavy infantry units.
  • 2,500 slingers, or one light infantry unit.
  • 4000 Greek cavalry, organised as two guard veteran and two average units.  Alexander and his general, Nearchus, each have a veteran unit under their personal command. 
  • 2000 Tarantine cavalry, organised as one veteran and one average unit.

The total fighting value of this force is 70.

The Romans in response send a somewhat thrown-together force comprised of 4 legions plus alae, and an additional legion and ala picked up en-route.

  • 30,000 heavy infantry organised into twelve legionary units.
  • 12,000 light infantry in two levy units.
  • 4,000 cavalry organised as one veteran and three average units.

With the addition of the consul Gauis Genucius Clepsina as an average commander, the total fighting value of this force is 71.

Alexander has a gentle hill on which to deploy, while the Romans have a wood in their right centre and a steep hill on their left flank.

Turn 1 (deployment turn).

The Romans deploy with the infantry in the middle three zones, pushing forward the velites in the centre and through the wood.  The cavalry is divided into a weak left and a strong right.

Alexander deploys his phalangites on the hill with the peltasts and thureophoroi in support. Nearchus leads the bulk of the cavalry against the Roman right while Alexander himself goes to the right with a view to taking the heights on the Roman left and turning the flank.

Romans on left and Greeks on the right.

Turn 2.

The Romans push forward all along the line and dress the cavalry for contact.

Roman advance.
Alexander moves forward aggressively on the right, while the slingers cause some damage (1 hit) to the unscreened legionaries who are approaching the Greek infantry. The Greek foot advance to the edge of the hill and Nearchus readies his command to receive a charge or, if one is not forthcoming, to initiate one himself.

Greek cavalry advances.
Turn 3.

The Romans attack all along the line.  They drive off the slingers (1 hit), disorder the Tarantines (1 hit) and sow confusion amongst the peltasts holding the left of the Greek line (2 hits).  On the right an unnamed tribune leads an effective charge against Nearchus who pays for his caution by seeing his Tarentine light horse and the mixed Greek cavalry unable to withstand the Roman attack (2 hits).  Only tiredness prevents the Romans from following up their advantage further (they just miss scoring another hit due to the negative modifier for charging from a distance).

Roman success in the charge.

The cavalry battle it out.

The peltasts are met with missiles from the woods.

The phalanx must be driven off this hill!

Nearchus and Alexander lead the Greek ripostes as the cavalry fights continue to build in intensity. The uphill assault is treacherous, but the equites holding the hill have been shaken (1 hit).  On the other end of the line Nearchus's second line of horse cut into the Roman line and fight them to a standstill (2 hits).

In the centre the phalanx is proving to be an intimating opponent as the velites and the hastati wrestle its moral and physical weight (2 hits in the centre).  On the left of the infantry line the experienced Thracians hold the line against the advancing Romans and the velites fall back under a volley of spears (1 hit).

The cavalry fight continues.

Turn 4.

The cavalry on the hill hits back at the Tarentines with Alexander, driving them back down the slope (1 hit).  The legionaries of the left make a concerted effort against the far end of the Greek line, and as they work their way into the gaps opened up by their pila and the uneven ground the troops supporting the Macedonians begin to give way (2 hits).

Elsewhere the combats have devolved into exchanges as the troops conserve their energy, but not so in the cavalry attack, where the Romans drive in again on Nearchus and his men. They hold, but barely (1 hit).
Lines engaged.

Alexander now commits himself and his guard to the attack and they carry the hill, breaking through on the right (1 hit - a shatter).

Breakthrough on the right!
The centre, seeing the success of the king, pushes against the Roman line, with dramatic results. The fresh phalangites in depth push back the Romans like rag dolls, and their line - so determined just moments before - is now on the brink of collapse (3 hits, now all the Romans in the central zone are spent).

Nearchus urges his Macedonian guard cavalrymen to remember their fame in war, and they return to the combat with renewed vigour.  This time all but the veteran Italian cavalry break in the face of the Greek spears (3 hits - 2 shatters).

Everywhere now the battle favours Alexander.  What can Clepsina do to turn the tide?

The Romans are falling apart under the pressure.

Turn 5.

The veteran cavalry on the right fall upon the flank of one overly-enthusiastic unit of pursuers, shattering them and driving them from the field (1 hit - 1 shatter), but there are three more units to deal with and the odds against the Italians are long.

Clepsina decides to pull back his demoralised centre and force the phalanx to come down off its hill to continue the fight.  He cannot retreat them all, so the rest of his men hold in place to cover the withdrawal.

Clepsina pulls back

Nearchus and his men now overcome the last of the Italian cavalry and rush on to outflank the Roman right.

Nearchus attacks.

Alexander comes around behind the Roman left and threatens Clepsina's centre.  The central phalanx follows up the retreating Romans while the rest of the line attacks.  The Macedonians left on the hill now turn the tables on their Roman tormenters with a furious attack that leaves the legionaries confused, disorganised and demoralised (2 hits, 1 of them an all-out-attack, all units in the zone are now spent).

The thureophoroi press similarly hard and the Romans are only just holding on (1 hit).

The Roman line fragmented and under pressure.
Turn 6.

The consul organises his men to face the enemy as best he can.  The triarii from the right join him to stiffen the resistance.  Elsewhere the pockets of Roman troops flail against the enemy with no success.

Clepsina tries to reorganise the line.

Alexander leads the attack against the milling infantry and Clepsina rides to meet him. After a brief and bloody clash Clepsina falls (1 hit, Clepsina dies in a rally attempt - 1 shatter, 4 rout) and the end is nigh for the Romans.

Alexander leads the charge and the last Roman resistance begins to crumble.

Elsewhere the Macedonians attack down the hill (1 hit, all out attack) and this is enough to cause panic and the Roman flight now becomes general.

Last rites.

Roman remnants.

The day is lost!

Alexander has won an astounding victory, and all Italy will tremble at the news!


Rome: 1 shattered (6vps), 8 average spent (24vps), 1 veteran spent (4vps), 2 levy spent (4vps).

Epirus: 5 average shattered (30), 1 veteran shattered (8), 1 average commander killed (12), 7 average routed (28), 3 average withdrawn (9), 2 levy routed (6) + 3 points on handicap.

38 vs 96 is a great victory for Alexander.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable game and it was interesting to see Rome really struggle against the phalanx.  The lack of command points to spend on combat bonuses and the ability of the phalangites to use their depth to advantage (+1) saw a very one-sided combat in the centre, and that is what ensured that Rome would lose.

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