Thursday 28 February 2013

An Unequal Contest

Another major reorganization of the game room turned up these fellows:

As they haven't seen the light of day for some years, and as the newly completed but very old indeed goblin wolfriders still had not seen action a scenario seed was born.

Now I am in the process of refining some ideas that govern truly irregular forces in our games. Such forces include Cossacks and guerrillas (Musket and Shako), American Indians (Comancheria) and other tribal forces (the Secret Project).

So here was an ideal chance for a quick fight between a force of heavy regular cavalry and a larger force of irregular mounted archers.

So here is the back story for those who enjoy that sort of thing:

The Chosen One was pleased. When word had reached the lashkar that the pink skins were approaching in force, his followers threatened desertion. "Give me 24 hours my children, and we will see how formidable this host truly is. I shall use my power to so devastate these dogs that all you will need do is vanquish but a small remnant and loot the fallen." 

That night the Chose One called on the powers of Handwavium and as the snake befuddles the mouse into senselessness so did his power lay low the forces of Altengard...all except for those bothersome knights! No matter they shall be dealt with come sun up.

Master of the Order Singvogel was puzzled. What witchery was this that kept his footmen in a torpor despite all efforts to rouse them? Witchery that did not affect his order. Purity of heart. purity of spirit!

The green skins will fall before his riders like so much wheat to the flail.

The footmen were a useful auxiliary, nothing more. Time to deal with them once the enemy has been routed.

With that he ordered his knights to form and began the advance.

The Order was represented by one unit of 10 heavily armoured horsemen. They were all rated Rep 5 and Singvogel's Aggression was also rated 5.

The goblins force consisted of 20 wolf riders divided into units initially four strong. The Chosen One and his band were rated Rep 5. The other four bands were rated Rep 4.

The Order deployed in the center of one long table edge while the goblins deployed with each band roughly evenly spaced along the opposite edge.

For this game the Order was controlled by the game system and so were the goblin bands. However I took the liberty of keeping the Chose One's band under my personal command until such time as I chose to commit them. Once committed however, they too would be controlled by the game system.

The rules used were Musket and Shako believe it or not. The only change made was to require a roll on the Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures missile damage table whenever a goblin scored a hit on a knight.

The Order quickly advanced towards the center of the goblin array. For their part the goblins had a bit of trouble coordinating and the left most band hung back a bit to await developments.

First blood went to the Order as they charged and drove back one of the goblin bands.  However the wily goblins fell back losing only one or two warriors who felt they had done enough this day.

The goblins reacted by circling the knights, firing from both left and right. On the Order's right one section of knights was goaded into leaving the regiment to drive of their tormentors. 

At this point the goblins on the Order's left flank drove home a charge, disordering the knights and sending them reeling back with loss.

The normally well disciplined knights were quick to rally however and the combat continured.

With six goblins already lost, and the knights, if only temporarily checked, I committed the Chosen One.
He led his band straight at the knights. However the distance was too great and it would be a turn or two before he could add his band to the fray.

The knights charged again, driving off the gobbos to their front.

Only to once again be hit in the flank by another band. This time the Order's veneer of discipline cracked and four knights were ridden down as they fled.

The survivors, Singvogel and his command section, fell back 

At this point there were only three knight figures on the table, Singvogel, his standard, and the one knight section that had ridden off on its own previously. 

Still the goblins had not had it all their own way and their loss had been greater than the Order's.

Loss of discipline continued to dog the Order as the standard bearer charged off on his own!

Eventhough he succeeded in driving off his tormentors he soon disappeared under a pile of wolves and greenskins.

No doubt Master Singvogel was furious at this turn of events.
He would drive off the greenskins single handed  and fall if necessary rather than live with the dishonor of the the Order's defeat.

Yet here was a glimmer of hope. The section of knights that had ridden off on its own, was now returning! Perhaps the greenskins could be caught between the two forces?

It was not to be. The agile wolf riders rode out of the trap and others descended on Singvogel for the kill.

This left a single knight figure in play. The end would not be long in coming.

Never the less he charged driving the gobbos before him.

Clear for the moment he turned and charged the Chosen One!

Such was the fury of the charge that half of the Chosen One's band fled in abject terror.

And then a single arrow found a weakness in his armour and he fell.

An exciting game that saw the loss of all ten knights of the order (some 200 - 400 men), and the loss of 15 wolf riders (300 to 600 goblins and wolves). Most of the goblin losses were due to the warriors having lost their nerve or run out of arrows, and so most could be expected to return to the lashkar afterwards. 

Not so the poor knights of the order.

With a vicious smile on his lips, the Chosen One, led his lashkar towards the Altengard camp to make sport of the men bewitched there...

Now for some boring theoretical stuff.

The problems of reflecting tribal warfare on the table top are something of an obsession of mine. The dynamics behind tribal fighting are so "alien" to European military norms as to require special treatment.

This becomes especially so when the tribesmen are mounted.

Warfare of this nature requires space and plenty of it. Unless the regulars can draw the enemy into a situation they cannot flee, the best course for the regulars is to "fort up" and either drive the enemy off with superior firepower or just wait it out until tribal ardor cools.

In the example game above, the knights would have been better off either splitting into individual squadrons in an attempt to herd the gobbos together or to just have formed square so to speak, facing the squadrons outward and trusting to armour for salvation until the gobbos went away.

Of course in a more modern setting the regulars would have side arms, enabling them to skirmish with the irregulars or just fire back from the square, dispersing the irregulars that much sooner.

Now back to the rules and concepts. The one thing that table top games really lack for this sort of thing is the space required. My table is 8x4 feet, although I mostly play on an 6x4 feet or even smaller surface.

Some of you with gaming clubs or huge spaces can no doubt produce much larger playing areas. However my intent is to make the games playable on the sort of table likely to fit in one's spare room.

With that in mind, some aspects of irregular warfare have been tweaked to allow for a faster resolution of affairs than would normally be the case. This allows the action to remain fairly localized, yet give plausible results for this sort of action.

Well that is the theory anyway : )

Hope you enjoyed our little talk.


Monday 25 February 2013

Illegal Aliens Free

Old School Illegal Aliens is now available. Contains 8-12 Aliens races for use with the Old School 5150 but easily converted to Star Army and New Beginnings. Enjoy!

Old School Illegal Aliens

Sunday 24 February 2013

Magic Door - ATH Bat Rep - Part 2

Where Billy lands for the first time but not Carolee (?). In this game they have landed in the modern time period. I'll use New Beginnings tweaked for a 20th Century city.

 Part One

Friday 22 February 2013

Rolica, 1808, Musket and Shakos Playtest AAR

Started work on the tentatively titled Muskets and Shakos again after a long hiatus. Much of the game will be familiar to players of Musket and Mohawks, and Rifles and Rebels. However this game ups the scale of play a bit.

Instead of each unit being a section, in M&S each unit is an infantry battalion, cavalry regiment, or gun battery. In keeping with the upscale approach ("Upscale" That's a joke son, a funny, a guffaw) some mechanics have been changed but will still be easily grasped.

Each unit consists of 20 infantry, 10 cavalry, or up to 8 guns. While it is possible to derive a figure scale from this the figures really represent the staying power of the unit more than a specific number of combatants. As units move and fight figures can be lost in dribs and drabs through straggling, desertion and fatigue as well as in potentially greater numbers through combat.

Another change due to the scale of play is the increased variety of formations available. While the sections in earlier games were either formed in line or unformed, M&S deals with the ever popular lines, columns, squares and skirmishers so beloved of Napoleonic players all handled in a easy THW way.

For example a line is an excellent fighting formation for infantry but must test via Fast Move to move at all. Columns on the other hand guarantee mobility, with the option of moving even faster througth Fast Move but are not an ideal combat formation unless your target has already been somewhat worn down before contact. Skirmishers effectively increase the range of your units by deploying well in front of their parent unit and can cause losses to enemies as they approach, however once they are deployed there is no guarantee they will respond to your recall orders and you may find your main battle line critically weakened if you have opted for a strong skirmish screen beforehand.

Today's game took place in sunny Portugal; Rolica 1808.

On to the game!

Turn One: Cannon roar and skirmishers engage. 

Rather than use the actual units involved, I kept track of things using the miniature units in play. So in the photo above from left to right the British are represented by the 62nd, 78th, and 21st foot, RA battery 1 and 2, the 50th foot, and the Rifles. There were also three companies of rifles beefing up the skirmish screen along the line.

From foreground to background the French forces are the 2nd, 54th, and 23rd Ligne, the artillery battery, and the 55th Ligne.

It should also be noted that the game mechanics are by design concerned with force allocation and attrition. A good number of the figures "lost" are presumed to have found a reason to visit the rear echelon, baggage camp, find a place to quietly loot the casualties etc.

First turn's losses:
British 5
French 5 

Turn Two: More cannon fire and skirmishing.

The British guns have temporarily silenced the French battery.

Second turn's losses:
British 3
French 3

Turn Three: This is getting serious.

The 62nd foot have started to push back the 2nd Ligne's skirmish screen.
The 54th Ligne loses sees some desertion under skirmish and cannon fire. 
The 55th Ligne, apparently discomfited by the Rifles skirmish line charge on their own initiative. They drive in the Rifles' skirmish line but are themselves left counter attack.

Third turn's losses:
British 1
French 5

Turn Four: My counter stroke goes horribly wrong.

The 62nd foot is turning my left flank.
The 21st forces the 54th Ligne to retire.
The 50th foot advances between the 54th and the battery under cover of one of the ravines.
I launched my reserve, the 23rd Ligne at the 50th only to be repelled with loss.
Meanwhile on my right the Rifles bring considerable pressure to bear on the 55th Ligne, causing it to retire.

Turn four losses:
British 6
French 12 !

Turn Five: It all goes pear shaped.

The 62nd continues to fire on the 2nd.
The 21st turns to face the 2nd as well.
With ros beefs to front and rear the 2nd turns its rear rank about and hopes to emulate the 24th foot at Abukir.
The 50th and the Rifles continue to advance.
I withdraw my battery from the field and successfully rally the 23rd and 55th Ligne.
Unfortunately the 54th fails to rally and flees the field.

I decide to call it a day and admit that I am no Henri Delaborde : )

Turn five losses:
British: 3
French: 9 plus another 9 routed.

It's even worse than it sounds. Some of the last two turns British losses included guns that needed to be withdrawn from the line. You see the more you use your batteries the more likely it is that guns wills start to drop out of service due to lack of ammunition or crew exhaustion  There is a reason that horse and musket era armies kept reserve batteries.

As many of the units are hidden by the heights in the turn five photo, below you will find pictures of the units at the end of the game.

Before that though, here is my take on events.
"Events" that got well out of my control and very quickly. I reacted too late to the British advance hoping my skirmishers would buy me more time.
Worse yet I over committed to my skirmish line which in a couple of key cases left my battalions short of men when it came to the main event.
Also, and as is traditional, I must blame my dice. There were quite a few even odds events that did not turn out in my favor. Mind you a good commander should not rely on "even odds events" and had affairs been better managed such should have been avoided.

Wellington did very well for an NPC and didn't even have to commit his reserve, the 78th although they did lose their light company early on.
Finally the Brtitish two to one superiority in guns gave Wellington a great advantage and one that seldom goes to the British in the Peninsular War.

Game End: My Left Flank.
The 62nd gives the 54th line what for. Note the light company on oddly enough behind the battalion firing over their heads from a height.
Note also the 54th has turned to face both the 62nd and the 21st.

Game End: My Center Left
The 21st, having seen off the 2nd Ligne prepares to take on the 54th.

Game End: My Center Right
General Delaborde rallies the 23rd Ligne, who form line while the 50th prepare to resume their advance.

Game End: My Right Flank

The 55th Ligne is depleted, rallied, and ready for the fight.
The Rifles ascend the heights.

Final Photo:

The Colonel of the Rifles and his bugler sense victory.

Hope you liked the report and the direction development is taking.