Sunday, 14 September 2014

Galleys & Galleons - A tabletop wargame for wee ships in the Age of Discovery

I have been working on new a naval set of wargaming rules for Ganesha Games which will see ship-to-ship combat played out on your table top with an average of 1-5 ships per player.
These rules are founded on the sea-borne adventures of the so-called Age of Discovery, the 16th and 17th centuries, when men were men, maps were only half drawn and death by sea monster was a real possibility. Within that theme, the game plays fast, fun and free. It is a naval wargame, but not a simulation.

As you'd expect from a Ganesha game, vessels and fleets are fully customisable, and acts of piracy and war at sea are abstracted in such a way as to leave players with the taste of briny sea in their mouths, but with little risk of actually catching scurvy.

The working title for the rules was All at Sea. They take elements of my old naval game and integrated them with a Ganesha skeleton to create a much better game. However, it was then drawn to my attention that a WWII naval game beat me to the title. Together with my crew of salty sea dogs and a couple of polls (on TMP and Friendface) I decided to go with Galleys & Galleons.

We started playtesting the game using fleets of 1/2400 scale galleons, but I have always  had my eye on the 1/450 scale vessels produced by Peter Pig. This game was the the perfect opportunity to pick a few up.

In these shots you can see the small pirate fleet that I have recently painted. The larger vessel and the rowing boats are from Peter Pig, the smaller vessel is from Ral Partha Europe (with Peter Pig crew). I previously did a size comparison post with these which can be found HERE.

For non-campaign games of Galleys & Galleons, we recommend having between 50 and 200 points per player - we have been playing games with 2-4 players. Of the 30-odd historic ship profiles which will be included in the rule book, the cheapest, a shallop, will cost you 5 points, while a war galleon will set you back 76 points. The little fleet above costs 100 points and consists of the Brig Oberon, the Pinnace Jezabel, and a couple of cutters. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Irregular Wars 2nd edition contents and sample pages

As the second edition of Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End nears completion, I thought I'd post up a few sample pages to allow people to see what they're in for. 

The rules have been formatted in the publishing programme and are now receiving a final round of proofing (so that means that these pages are not necessarily in their final form). You'll be able to see from the contents page below that this book will consist of 30 pages of rules, a campaign system and 46 different army lists.

I am planning on having the rules available from both Vexillia Ltd (downloadable pdf) and Amazon (hardcopy) for the start of December. If any surprises are thrown up during the proofing I may have to delay release until the start of 2015, but the plan is for December 2014.





Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Acropolis now.

I have been following the AARs for Song of Shadows and Dust posted by Tim from Saskatoon with great interest and enjoyment recently. If you haven't come across his (much better than my) blog before, I'd certainly encourage you to check it out HERE

Re-invigorated by seeing somebody else enjoying my game so much, I decided I needed to add something to my mini-city, Antiocheia Mikros. Looking around the house, I grabbed some spare insulating foam from the roof space and decided that I could add a touch more three-dimensionality to my city with an acropolis, or 'upper city'.


Using a black marker I outlined a rough shape on the foam, sufficient to house my temple or a few houses and started carving with a breadknife.


I made sure there would be a couple of ways up to the top, with a small ramp, a broad ramp and a small area allowing models to climb up in two stages.


I slapped on a bit of left over house paint testers (left over from paining the buildings for the city) as a base coat.


Then a bit more (though I had to buy some more testers)...


And some highlighting...


And a little static grass...


And Bob's your proverbial uncle. A new terrain piece costing a grand total of £2.50 and a day's pottering.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Irregular Wars - Colonial Spanish vs. Hollanders

Another game of Irregular Wars was played out on our dining table last night. This time the Spaniards were faced by a few ship loads of Dutch merchant adventurers.

My Hollanders (the force at the lower half of the table) were attacking and I thought that I had drawn an excellent selection of chance cards. I had a quartermaster general who should have made my army less susceptible to disease and other deployment mishaps. I also had a rain card (allowing for the chance of a rain storm) and the sodden ground card (which means that a rainstorm can turn all open ground into muddy difficult terrain).

The poor Spanish drew less well, ending up with a lord who was both uninspiring (penalty when rallying troops) and nauseous (allowing me to take advantage of his stomach complaints and upset his orders once per game). The other card was kept secret.

During recruitment, the Spanish predictably recruited a larger army, while my Dutch were generally of much better quality. I had companies which should have been better in the shooting phases, while he had better cavalry. I planned on getting in range before the rainstorm and then hoping that the sodden ground would keep him at bay while I showered him with shot.

As it turned out, the Spanish rolled very well during disease and mishaps and even with my quartermaster, his troops still got the better of the pre-game rolling.

Unfortunately, God was siding with the Papists this game and when I played my rain card, he played a card to clear the skies which meant that my rain storm would not happen. It was about then that my plan unraveled.

Although I did my best to blow him back to Madrid with terrifying volley fire, it ended up having little effect. After this photo I got too engrossed in my impending defeat and seem to have stopped taking photos. Drat. It was actually a very close game once the lines closed. In the end, the Spaniards seized the initiative at just the right time and a charge of their hidalgos took my army in the flank. The ripple of lost resolve, combined with a sweeping and seemingly unstoppable cavalry attack spelt my ultimate doom.

A fantastic game which turned up no new issues and left me defeated but satisfied.

... but I though you said your 6mm Seleukids were finished ...

No, no, I certainly can't recall ever saying my Seleukids were finished. I have to wait until someone starts to produce decent Hellenistic Thracians before I'd really consider the army finished - and that is a long way off. 

In the interim, and while the Hail Caesar shelf in my warchest gets dangerously full, I decided to paint up a few more bits and pieced.

First up, I've added a couple of commanders recently, including an Elephantarch - I'm sure you'll be able to tell which one he is in the photo. I have six commanders now meaning I can split the army into two competing branches of the royal house for a Seleukid civil war.

I expanded my Arab units to be able to field an entire Arab division (two light infantry warbands and two light horse units). These guys are, beyond doubt, the finest 6mm figures I have come across. They are from the 19th century Mahdist range but in the absense of a designated pre-Islamic Arab range, the will suffice nicely.



Depending on the context, their commander is either a sheikh with Macedonian adviser, of a Macedonian officer with a camel mounted guide/messenger/escort. They will support my Seleukids admirably I think, and should I eventually build a Parthian army, they can help out there too!

And lastly (for now), a little light artillery to add a touch of funky fire support. In the recorded Seleukid battles, artillery was only used in sieges and at Thermopylai (where they were set along a refurbished defensive wall. However, we know that they were available, and Alexander the Great had used them against the Skythians in Central Asia, so their use by the Seleukids is not out of the question.


These warmachines are scorpions from the Marian Roman range, crewed by artillery crew from the greek range and commanded by a Macedonian officer (with scroll) and a Roman civilian engineer (in toga). I love them!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Irregular Wars - Caribs vs. Colonial Spanish

Last night saw an army of Caribbean natives match up against a force of Colonial Spanish using the (almost complete) second edition of Irregular Wars. The table was terrain heavy which should have favoured the natives who do not suffer from movement modifiers, but some statistically unlikely dice rolling left the Caribs lagging in the first half of the game.

The Spanish (slowly) advanced their pike militia across the ford while the native scouts went out early to pepper  them with arrows. Unfortunately for them, the dice gods had abandoned them and they had little success.

Much more accurate fire from the Spanish across the river started to reduce the resolve of the Carib defenders while the pike continued their excruciatingly slow advance. Behind them, Spanish colonists in a great mass, both foote and horse, crossed the ford.

Once the Spanish cavalry were across the river the match became a bit of a forgone conclusion. With pike blocks to their front and horsemen plowing into their flanks, the natives scattered and abandoned the field.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Peter Pig 1/450 vessel size comparison with RPE Empire galleass

One of my gaming comrades as been developing his own set of naval rules called Broadside - initially focused on 20th century engagements but I believe the intention is to adapt it later to deal with the 18th and 19th centuries as well. After playtesting Broadside I  received an enthusiasm boost to return to All at Sea, my ship-on-ship game set in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

My 1/1200 scale galleons were irreconcilably damaged during the big move two years ago, since then I have been using 1/2400 scale vessels for my own play testing. These paint up fine but, admittedly, are really just gaming pieced at that scale. 

I looked around for alternatives and kept coming back to the Peter Pig Pieces of Eight range, 1/450 scale 17th century vessels. While being slightly later than my previous forays into naval games (very much the 16th century), I decided to order a couple to see how they paint up. 

I also came across the Ral Partha Europe range of fantasy ships in my search. While these are intended to be used as fleet markers in a fantasy campaign game, the 'Empire' vessels are clearly inspired by 16th century vessels. Paul at RPE wasn't sure how they scaled and was good enough to send me a sample. 

I was sent a galleass, the middle sized of the three Empire ships made by RPE. This is a two masted, galleon-like model with no oars. It was clear that it couldn't serve as a historical galleass, but could it be used elsewhere? The answer to that, when the sample arrived, was a resounding yes.


In this shot you can see the hulls compared: from left to right, a large merchantman,  medium sized merchantman (both Peter Pig), the RPE galleass, and lastly a Peter Pig rowing boat. I would say, as an estimate, that the true scale of the RPE range must be somewhere between 1/600 and 1/1000. There are cannons cast on the deck but they are rather tiny.


However, if there is no pressure to use the RPE vessel as a galleass, it will serve beautifully as a 1/450 pinnace! In this second shot you can see the Peter Pig large merchantman (I'm going to use her and an East Indiaman) alongside the RPE galleass/pinnace with their respective masts in place. Between them is a stand of the Peter Pig crew. By using the same sized deck crew on both vessels, I think they'll be very compatible. I'll post again when they have some paint on them.

Irregular Wars 2 - Chance cards

The new edition of Irregular Wars is designed to be played with a deck of 52 chance cards. Playing without the chance cards is certainly possible, although we feel that their inclusion will add a little more period flavour to the game. They represent different personal traits of the lord, specialist officers, unusual battlefield conditions and other random events such as the chance of a rain storm to ruin your plans, or the presence of traitors in your enemies camp.

Three cards are drawn randomly for each lord after they have decided upon their faction, but before they have begun recruiting their army. Some cards are revealed as soon as they are are drawn; these cards generally effect the pre-game phases such as recruitment, terrain set up or deployment. Others are be kept secret from the opposing player(s) until such time as they are used. 

The text for all of the cards will be provided at the end of the rule book. Players will be free to copy the text as they like and apply it to an existing deck of playing cards. However, For those aesthetes (like myself) who would prefer a customised deck of Irregular Wars chance cards, I have designed a deck that can be produced on demand and made available at cost price plus postage.