Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A magnificent gift from my lovely wife!

It was a welcome surprise during a particularly hot and humid afternoon at work today to have a box filled with boutique beer arrive! 

My wife had ordered them for me as a Father's Day gift.  What a woman!

So here they are - nicely chilled - and I'm trying to decide which one to open.

I think we'll go with this:

Cheers, all!

Commands and Colors: Ancients Solitaire variant.

Reading Bob Cordery of (amongst other things) Wargaming Miscellany's fame's blog post on playing Memoir '44 solo reminded me of a solitaire variant I used to use to play Commands and Colors: Ancients.

The idea was initially inspired by something another fellow had posted (I think it was this, yet can't remember for sure), but I changed it around quite a lot and gave the non-player side certain advantages in the hope that it would become a more challenging 'me versus AI' type of game.  It is of course perfectly possible to play Commands and Colors games by drawing cards as normal and simply playing both sides, but as I do that with Lost Battles I found that I wanted something a little different.

The point of difference in these rules was that the 'AI' did not use the same card deck as me - it used a 'virtual deck', which divided the cards into seven types: left, right, centre, flank, leadership, special and troop.

The 'Virtual Deck'

The non-player turn consisted of me choosing the best three to five cards still in the virtual deck -with certain restrictions in place - and rolling a d10 to see which of the cards would get played.

The number of cards in the select pool depended on morale, which degraded as the non-player army took losses.  The higher the losses the greater the number of cards and the smaller the chance that the AI would get the cards that would be most effective. 

When a card was used it would be crossed off the virtual deck and could not be used again until a 'reshuffle' had occurred, at which point the deck would be reset.  A reshuffle would be caused by the play of 'I am Spartacus' by the player side, or by the virtual player not being able to make a legal card selection.

And that's about it.  I recall that I played about five games of Arausio with it, losing three out of five. In the end I decided it wasn't worth all the extra record keeping, so if I were to revisit it I think I would make or buy a second set of cards to use for the non-player hand to cut out the bookwork.

I would use this second deck to provide the selection pool for the non-player side, using twice as many cards as were officially in the non-player's hand with modifications as seemed sensible.  From that draw 3-5 cards would be selected, and I would most likely relax the restrictions on card types able to be selected.  The card used would be removed from the deck but the others would be put back in and the deck reshuffled.

This would make for less record keeping but at the cost of increasing the amount of shuffling.

So, there we have it.  Any and all comments and questions most welcome!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Worthington Games' Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles

Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles by Jim Krohn was the second game I picked up on our recent excursion to Tokyo.

BoB:SE is a squad level WWII game focusing on the 101st Airborne from Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge.  Counters represent squads of 10-15 men, a weapons team, an individual gun and its crew or an armoured vehicle.  Ground scale is, so far as I can gather, around 40 yards to the hex, with a turn representing 2-3 minutes of real time.

There are five double-sided geomorphic maps, done in the style of the old Commando comics.  I quite like this, though I believe it rankles with some.

The counters are large and attractive, but while the game contains two counter sheets, half a sheet's worth of them are blank!  The ones that actually are counters do however look very good set up.  The pictures below do not show a real scenario but should give you some idea of the overall effect...

Also included are 16 historical scenarios that vary in size from one map to five, a quick reference card, and a rulebook, containing some excellent designer's notes.

The rules are for the most part clear, but there are a couple of errata issues caused by typos.  I had no trouble skimming through them quickly and starting a game immediately.

The lot:

So far I've found it very enjoyable solo, even though it's really meant to be a two-player game.  It's simple enough to pick up and quite straightforward in play, but still seems to require skill and reasonably historical tactics (to my untrained eye!) to play well.  It was ridiculously expensive in the game shop I got it from, but I think it's going to be worth it.  After all, an expensive game that gets play is much better than any number of cheaper ones that don't!

Work calls me right at this moment but I will be back with some more thoughts on rules and a game report or two as time allows.

( Here is a link to a report of the first scenario, day of days ).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Battles Magazine #8

Well, look what just arrived in the letterbox today.  It really is a beautiful magazine; its only fault is that this edition contains a small article by yours truly, complete with a bonus comma in its introductory paragraph!  As they say, I wouldn't subscribe to any magazine that would have me as a contributor...    

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Warmaster Ancients test game

To my great delight I recently managed to pick up a copy of the Warmaster Ancients rules from wargame buddy John, who was selling off a few bits and pieces.  I'd been wanting to get a hold of this set for ages but  kept getting sidetracked with other things and other purchases (as I tend to do...), but I have it now and decided to test it out on Sun/Mon on the big table at school.

I set up a 1000 point Roman/Carthaginian game, set somewhere in Spain, with a hill and a couple of small groves for terrain.

I didn't go overboard with pre-studying the rules; I just set up as I saw fit and then played through a few turns solo to see how things would go.  Veteran players will no doubt see some egregious errors in my deployment schemes here; everyone else will be able to get a giggle at the base of velites who didn't know whether they were coming or going...

Things kicked off with a determined Roman advance in the center, aiming to get to grips before the Carthaginians could get too much done on the flanks.  Unfortunately, command rolls prevented much cohesion, and while the central block advanced without problems the flanks trod forward rather more gingerly.

Carthage was able to secure the copses on the right and infiltrate light infantry into positions suitable for harassing the flanks of the Roman infantry advance.

The centre, meantime, shortened their lines to meet the more compact Roman formation.

Third turn in things were still progressing very slowly, mainly due to horrific command rolls.  The Spanish light infantry gained the hill, but a command blunder saw the Numidians impetuously charge a unit of velites.  In the ensuing scrum they were pushed back by a hail of javelins before getting to grips properly, but in thsie own shooting phase forced the Romans to scurry back to safety behind their heavy cavalry. 

I thought the interactions worked well.

The skirmishers gain the hill.

Roman advance
Numidian stand off...
As time was running out I hurriedly - and with utter disregard for the rules - drew the sides together to test out how melee combat worked.  It was bloody, but seemed to work OK.

So, points to note:

1) Skirmishers are quite effective in that they are able to drive back would-be attackers and disrupt the line.  I think these will be fun to use in a proper game.  Horse will be needed to counter their evade ability, and light horse especially.

2) It's a lot harder to move units than I'm used to from games such as Lost Battles.  The threat of imminent command failure makes you weigh up priorities.  While poor command dice are very bad, they can turn good very quickly, so there will be big swings in fortune that will always offer a chance to come back from all but the very worst positions.

3) Hand-to-hand combat looks to be bloody.  Keeping reserves on hand and finding the right way to get them into the battle line will likely be key elements in game play.

4) I like how the table looks.  The lines are nice and clean, but have a shape to them that I miss when using the zones in Lost Battles.

All up, I'm very pleased.  I think these will be a fun set of rules and there is plenty of potential to add in extra rules here and there as well.  I can see some similarities to Commands and Colors: Ancients (particularly in the way skirmishers operate, and the way that retreats and pursuits work), and think it will likely reward similar skills.

Now the only problem will be to find someone prepared to play it with me!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Batch done...

Well, the latest batch of figures has been finished up and given a coat of matt varnish.  All they need is to have the bases flocked.

Old Glory horse archers, with four Essex figures mixed in:

Old Glory slingers:

Chariot (now Magister Militum) javelinmen:

I'm pleased to have finally got all these guys out of the way!  Onto the next lot...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Starting to see a little progress...

Well, we're getting there!

Old Glory slingers and horse archers nearing completion.  They don't look too flash just yet but we're on the home stretch so that's good.  Sorry about the light - it's abominable!

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