Sunday, 15 May 2022

Fantastic Battles - siege testing

Having recently moved house, I was delighted to be able to host JB for the inaugural evening of gaming in the new space. Doubly delighted, as he was patient enough to work through a playtest of the siege ideas. He commanded 500 points of goblins, defending a 1 metre wide stone fortification against my 1000 points of halfling besiegers.

We played through four attrition phases, during which the poor halflings becaming increasingly ill (until I got proper foraging parties bringing in supplies). JB carried out a sortie, destroying some of my siege equipment - a trebuchet and a mine head - and scattering my poultry-riders. As he lost his spider riders in the process (and his army was only half the size of mine), the losses sort of evened out.

As the evening wore on, halfing artillery fire had little or no impact on the walls, and the mine - even before it was destroyed - was proving very difficult to dig. The halflings reached the point where an assault on the walls became the only way to resolve the impasse. Foolishly, I gave my best troops the siege equipment. All my best troops were already slow, and the siege equipment just made them slower!

JB decided to let his goblin madcaps come through the gates to cause havoc among my advancing lines, but they were caught in column by my halfling yeoman cavalry and quickly dispatched. 

In the end, it was the halfling siege artillery which eventually destroyed the gates, allowing the halflings' treefolk allies to break through the fortifications in the centre. On the far left of the line, the other treefolk, advancing carrying ladders ... let's not discuss how morbid that could be from their perspective ... almost made it to the walls before being destroyed by enemy shooting. Withering halfling hellfire from the militia archers was taking its toll though and scattered another unit of goblin defenders on the wall. 

With that, we called it as the evening was late, and the halfling victory inevitable. We made numerous amendments over the course of the evening, and there is still some way to go before they are finalised, but the rules are playable (sighing with relief) in their current form. Beyond the difficulties of building a completely flexible set of rules with no foreknowledge of what a player's table will look like, the challenge is having enough nuance and meaningful in-game decision making, without getting bogged down in crunch. Stay tuned for more testing to come!

Monday, 25 April 2022

2022 Odyssey - or why I haven't been doing my homework

We have just returned from a brief, but very enjoyable, trip to Greece - actually the holiday we had booked in 2019 for the following summer, before the world went into lockdown. After the additional stresses brought about by the pandemic, a couple of very political (and Political) years at work, additional work financial duties, job applications and moving house, life has felt like I've been pulled in too many directions lately. It was wonderful to get away and just forget it all for a week.

I've no desire to give a blow by blow of the trip - nor would I expect people to what to read that - but thought I'd share a few pictures relevant to the hobby.

I brought along Four Against the Titans for a pilgrimage to several sites that feature in the game. First up, here we are at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi for an obligatory promo shot. The site itself was amazing, and the museum was pretty marvellous as well.

An 8th century BC bronze Herzsprung-style shield.

A variety of axes, arrowheads, spearheads and butt spikes. I love that the arrowheads are still joined together from the casting process.

Some of the Archaic helmets on display.

The gigantomachy scene from frieze of the Siphnian treasury. Dionysos and Kybele, Athena, Area and Hermes all make an appearance in this scene

One of the friezes of the Pydna monument of Aemilius Paullus (167 BC).

We passed by the Chaeronea lion monument, errected over the massed burial of the Theban Sacred Band following their defeat by the Macedonians in 338 BC.

A visit to Naupaktos was a must - an Athenian naval station during the Peloponnesian War, and later known as Lepanto - the site of the naval battle of 1571.

Out to a very windy and rainy Kalydon. The massive temple of Artemis must have been truly impressive, but sadly (or happily?), no boars in site. I brough 4AT along to Kalydon too, but the weather kept it in the bag.

We stopped off at the monument to Leonidas at Thermopylae - dramatic landscape, a significant point in the history of the Greek states - and adorned with bins, passing traffic and power pylons.

4AT came out in the glorious spring sunshine below the snow-capped slopes of Mount Olympos.

At Dion we enjoyed the site, pretty much to ourselves, taking in the various monuments including these lovely armour reliefs. The museums, while not of the same scale as Delphi, were also a well worth visiting. 

The Dion museum had these two fantastic bone dice among the exhibitions.

The remains of a 4th-3rd century BC Macedonian pelte inscribed with the name Demetrios.

... and the fragmentary relief showing a 5th century Macedonian horseman.

And the cap it all off, we met up with Orestix in Thessaloniki - a meeting long overdue having worked together since the 2nd edition of Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End in 2014!

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Lisburn Gaming Club 24 hour charity day

This weekend I was really priveledged to be invited to a 24 hour charity gaming event organised by Lisburn Gaming Club here in Northern Ireland. The event was raising money for the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarial Appeal. I was only able to stay for the first 10 hours, but in that time over £1,000 was raised from the raffle and table re-rolls alone. I was very impressed by the organisation and the enthusiasm that went into the event from all involved. 

Between us, Bill, Roger, Steve, Peter, Garry and I had four great games of Fantastic Battles during the time I was there.

Beastlings vs. undead - beastling victory.

Wood elves vs. goblins - bloody draw.

Wyld elves vs goblins - wyld elf victory.

Wyld elves vs ziggurat dwarves - Ziggurat dwarf victory. 

To finish up, I ran a co-operative game of Palaeo Diet: Eat or Be Eaten for Bill, Steve, Dave and Roger. Despite the tribe bagging themselves a couple of boars and a cave lion, they lost one of their own hunters. I guess it is all a matter of perspective whether that was a tragedy, or just added to the banquet!






Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Barons' War Outlawed Noble Command Group

Because I have jumped on the bandwagon a bit with Barons' War, I have two smaller retinues being built to compliment my large retinue posted yesterday - Outlaws, and Vikings (for Barons' War Conquest).

The outlawed noble, known as Edmund the Bastard, has been followed into exile by his trusty hunting hound and a retinue of knights (bereft of their horses) including a priest. The knight on the left is Footsore's Stephen with a head and shield swap, the hound is from Wargames Atlantic's Irish box, the outlaw is also from Footsore, the priest is from Trent Miniatures, and the knight on the right is from CP Models. Heraldry is Sherry, Lego Forestmen, and Sprigg respectively.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Baron Hugh de Guerre's retinue - Barons' War

Since the end of last year I have been slowly working away at a 1,000 point retinue for Barons' War. The full retinue is made of Fireforge plastics, some with bits thrown in from other kits and ranges. I haven't managed to get a game in yet (and so I don't know if this is a viable force), but I already had the start of the force, so enjoyed expanding it. Looking forward to a game in the very near future. 

Hugh de Guerre himself, with two veteran sergeants as the retinue command group.

Four more veteran mounted sergeants with spears.

A second command group - Sir John Ireland and five verean sergeants with spears.

The third command group, Sir Guillaume le Fauconnier, with four veteran sergeants with axes.

Five veteran sergeants with maces.

Five veteran sergeants with crossbows.

Five veteran bowmen.

Four green levy slingers - not sure historically about having women in the levy, but ... needs must.

Six green levy with improvised two-handed weapons.

And a few civilians I already had in the collection that will see service in village scenarios.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Prisoners of the Sun: PDEE Pulp with the Chronographic Society (part 3)

The end of the adventure …

Tintin & Snowy, Captain Haddock, and Chang Chon-Chen are now the only surviving expedition members. Tintin was wounded by the Tyrannosaur during the trek across the Hidden Plateau. Chang has been unable to patch him up, for lack of medicinal plants. Maybe he can find some before they face the final challenge.

Exiting the Plateau the party see the ancient ruined Temple of the Sun in the distance. This is the destination of the expedition, where they must rescue Prof Logarithm and return the Crystal of Rascar Capac.


Information gleaned from the field notes of the Sanders-Hardiman expedition indicates the Temple is guarded by the zombified remains of Mayan warriors. Mummies!

The adventurers decide to play it cautiously. They’ll scout the environs of the Temple, starting with the West side, before going inside. This will also - with luck - allow Chang enough time to stock up on medical herbs. 

Tintin immediately fails an activation roll, and a Mummy (all are “Lesser Mummies” unless stated otherwise) pokes its head around the corner of the temple and glares balefully at the intruders. The adventurers press on. After 3 Turns they are moving along outside the W wall. ⬇️


Chang has discovered more medicinal plants. Snowy has had a close encounter with a Mummy, and been wounded, but is now ambling towards Tintin. Another Mummy can be seen in the top R corner of the photo. Surely there must be more? And where is the Professor?

On Turn 4 Chang discovered yet more plants, and also patched up TinTin. While Tintin was being bandaged the three adventurers pooled their limited knowledge about Mummies. Consensus is they’ll be very hard to bring down by shooting. Chang remembers his grandmother telling him they are scared of fire. It’s worth a try. Tintin & Haddock both have safety matches, and there is tinder (dry grass etc) lying around, so when the time comes, they’ll light fires.

By the end of Turn 6 ⬇️ The reconnaissance along the W side of the Temple is paying off. Captain Haddock can see into the ruins, and has spotted the Professor (with butterfly net, behind the High Altar). But the Mummies are beginning to react in greater numbers. Snowy is bating the one who wounded him earlier (Chang has now fixed that wound). A total of five Mummies are now visible.


⬆️ A quick check reveals the wind is from the NW: blowing diagonally across the table from lower L to upper R in this photo.

After 9 Turns ⬇️ Tintin & Chang have nearly reached the Professor and the High Altar, aided by fires that are keeping the Greater Mummy at a distance. Haddock is just out of frame at bottom L, following a panic reaction to one of the Mummies (Roar reaction).


On Turn 10 Tintin failed 1/3 activation dice and was attacked by the Mummy near the Professor, and wounded. But he shot and wounded his attacker, which reacted by moving off (afraid of the fire). Then Tintin skulked into contact with the Altar and the Professor. Snowy passed all 3 activation rolls and skulked toward the Greater Mummy ⬇️


⬆️ Chang also failed 1/3 and the same Mummy lunged at him but didn’t make contact. Chang backed off, the better to cover Tintin’s back, and shot at the Mummy, a lucky shot causing 2 wounds and finishing it off. Last to activate, Haddock failed one roll. The nearest “beast” (the Greater Mummy) moved away, spooked by the fires. And at the end of the Turn, 1/2 fires burned out.

Turn 11. ⬇️ Tintin activated on all three dice (only just, both white dice were ‘2’). He pulls the Crystal of Rascar Capac from the pocket of his trusty Bombay Bloomers, unwraps and places it on the High Altar of the Temple of the Sun. It’s only the back of the altar to be sure, but the scenario doesn’t care. This is a major contingent plot moment: what will happen? 


⬆️ It’s a ‘1’. All the Mummies start to metamorphose into their original living forms as Mayan warriors. Will they be friendly? We’ll know next Turn (all are inert this Turn). But Tintin isn’t done yet. He lopes back towards his companions. The Professor, to huge relief, ambles after him. Snowy starts to howl. Chang and Haddock activate successfully and start the retreat. The remaining fire starts to spread more widely.

Turn 12. ⬇️ Tintin rolls snake eyes to activate. Uh-oh. The Mayans (now classed as Outfolk hunters) are hostile. The chief gets a Predate reaction so heads off to check on his dead warrior (yellow marker). He also loses the wound he accumulated while in Mummy form. The next nearest Mayan, way down in the SW corner, moves away. The professor remembers he left his compass back at the temple, and tries to move back to find it. But as long as he is adjacent, Tintin won’t let him go. Both of them retreat when the Mayan roars (responding to an activation failure by Chang).


⬆️ At this point (end of Turn 12) I ended the game, ruling that the Chronographic Society expedition had achieved its objectives, though at the cost of 50% casualties (not counting hounds). They have passed through the Rumbaba Valley, and crossed the Hidden Plateau. They have rescued Professor Logarithm and returned the Crystal to the Temple of the Sun. They are well placed to exit the table without the Mayans catching them.

Presumably the mysterious convulsions affecting the Sanders-Hardiman archaeologists will now cease - they will no longer be Prisoners of the Sun.