Sunday 29 September 2019

Another Dux Bellorum clash in Macedonia

My 10mm early Macedonians took to the field again this week for a rematch with Lee's Greeks. The first two games using Dux Bellorum had seen my Macedonians use their superior numbers to swarm around Lee's hardcore hoplites and collapse his line. Given my total cavalry superiority, I planned on doing the same this time, sweeping around the flanks to strike from behind.

Dux Bellorum works so beautifully for these games: skirmishers tend to meet first, then the cavalry get involved, and only later do the bronze-clad beauties (AKA hoplites) get to grips with the situation. That is certainly what happened this time around too. 

Unfortunately for the good guys, the Greek peltasts failed to evaporate fast enough when faced by the Macedonian companions and the infantry lines met before my cavalry were ready.

That hole in the left hand side of the Macedonian line is what happens when epilektoi hoplites meet Macedonian tribal levies... Better luck next time boys. Despite having Lee's Greeks pinned, the Macedonian tribal infantry were just too 'historically attuned' to stand and fight. The game came down to the wire and both forces reached their 50% threshold to make break tests in the same turn. The Greeks proved braver and the Macedonians fled the field.

More 10mm Macedonians - because 'finished' is never enough

With my love of early Macedonia finding an outlet through Dux Bellorum: Hoplomachia, I wanted - nay, was compelled! - to get some more 10mm Macs. Here is the new tranche of three units. These will allow me to field a full 32 points of troops in Hoplomachia, 85 points worth of troops towards a 100 point L'Art de la Guerre Early Macedonian army, or 328 points in Hail Caesar.

More hetairoi! These noble Macedonian horse-barons are Magister Militum Thracian cavalry - some with head swaps to introduce a couple of helmets, some with added broad-brimmed petasoi made of green stuff. My mate Lee very unkindly refers to them as banditos...  

More tribal levy! These lovely wee figures are all from the Magister Militum Greek peltasts pack. The best I can say about their performance in battle so far is that it seems historically accurate.

Monday 23 September 2019

Wargaming hoplite battles - just a thought

It is probably safe to say that our gaming circle has been somewhat … underwhelmed, by the off the shelf options available for wargaming hoplite battles at the moment.

Although the likes of L’Art de La Guerre and distantly related DBX games can be fantastic (and we are big fans of ADG here), its scope is – I feel – a little too broad to capture a sense of hoplite battle. Seeing two long lines of evenly matched, slow moving, robust infantry units plod towards each other is not exactly thrilling.

Other rule systems we have played (such as Men of Bronze) are, conversely, too dynamic. They allow extraordinarily swift movements – hoplite charges outdistance missile range and leave re-deployment so easy as to make the mini-game that is the initial of tactical deployment all but obsolete.

Hail Caesar, Sword and Spear and Impetus are not every body’s cup of tea and many unit types just end up a bit vanilla after a round of combat. On the flip slide, more bespoke solutions – like the Perfect General’s Hoplomachia, can feel a bit heavy going for a casual evening’s gaming.

As they say, there is just no pleasing some people.

However, what we didn’t realise until recently, was that we could be well pleased with a gaming solution that was right under our noses the whole time. All we needed to do was the re-frame the way we were looking at the problem. There will be much more to say on the matter in the near future, but for now I just want to tip my proverbial hat to Mr Dan Mersey, and thank him once again for Dux Bellorum

Saturday 7 September 2019

Robin in peril

I was ambushed by the young lad (age 8) this week asking for a game of 'Knights'. He wanted to get his new posse led by Sir John on the table and have a game. I opted to use standard Song of Blades and Heroes with simple warbands. Sir John and his retinue came in at just under 150 points, so I built an outlaw band the same strength.

Sir John's Posse
Sir John - Q3 C3; Hero, Heavy Armour, Steadfast
Swordsman - Q4 C2; Steadfast
Spearman - Q4 C2; Steadfast
Crosbowman - Q4 C2; Shooter - Long, Sharpshooter, Steadfast

Merry Foresters
Robin - Q3 C3; Hero, Good Shot, Shooter - Long, Forester
John - Q4 C2; Forester
Will - Q4 C2; Forester
Much - Q4 C2; Shooter - Medium, Forester

To get the game moving quickly, we used a 2' square board and deployed 1x Short in from our chosen table edge. Robin and Much are top right, Will and John bottom right. Sir John is out of shot in the lower left, and his men are spread out to the left - the crossbowman in the middle.

Sir John's swordsman activated first and ran straight to the the cover of the building. He had some sort of idea in his head that he didn't want Robin to be able to maintain line of sight. His crossbowman, however, moved over to line up a clear shot at Robin or Much next turn. On Robin's side, John and Will both managed to get up to the shelter of the empty cart in their first activation. I figured that this would stop them being attacked from that side. I was wrong.

Sir John moved cautiously down from his hill, still keeping his distance from the impending scrap in the middle of the table. Sir John's spearman moved up to the far side of the cart from Will and John.
At the same moment, the swordsman dashed around the far side of the building and engaged Robin is a bit of friendly swordplay.

The excitement at this point was already palpable as can be seen in the expression of the audience.

Robin took one swing at the swordsman and cut him down. Satisfying, if a bit of an anticlimax. 

Much then lolloped forward and, over the next couple of turns, he and the crossbowman exchanged a number of ineffectual shots. 

My thoughtful opponent queried whether his spearman could run up into the cart. I confessed there was no reason why he couldn't, and a moment later John found himself in a pickle. Sir John metaphorically looming down on him from the front, while the spearman literally loomed down on him from the cart on his flank. Far from being a useful as a barrier, the cart was now being used against the merry forester!

The spearman struck down at John and beat him to the ground. Although he was still alive, it didn't look promising. 

Sir John's crossbowman loosed another bolt at Much which likewise failed to kill the lad, but knocked him to the ground. Robin ran up to Much's side and returned an arrow, but it went way off the mark - one of many 6/1 splits in the game.

Much and John both dusted themselves off. In the John-off at the lower end of the table, John managed to defy the odds and forces Sir John to recoil out of the fight. For Much, it didn't go quite so well. He moved forward to get a better shot at the crosbowman, and was taken down by a crossbow bolt for his troubles.

As Robin moved down past the building to where he could line up shots at both the crossbowman and Sir John, John and Will both now took the attack to the knight. Sir John was now on the back foot, defending himself against the furious blows of both foresters.

And that, dear reader, is when Sir John demonstrated what a lifetime of martial training can achieve. He smote - most decidedly - both Will and John on the spot. Robin, seeing his comrades dropping around him, decided discretion to be more expedient than valour, and legged it off the table like a frightened bunny. This despite being a Q3 hero.

It was a lovely little game. My young opponent understood everything going on, practiced his maths without noticing and, to his great joy, won. I'm fairly confident this won't be the last meeting of Sir John and the forester Robin.