Monday, February 19, 2018

Terrain Evaluation Time: Trees and Water

Ringing in my fifth decade with my first case of strep throat, so that gives me plenty of time to contemplate wargaming. In this case, terrain! Like a lot of gamers, I've focused almost all of my time on the figures, and collected a hodge podge of terrain pieces over the decades. It's time to change that, and the first step was to evaluate the terrain I already have and compare it to the scales I'm planning to use for gaming. 

After digging in the basement, I found that I had more trees than I thought, a few water pieces, and one old GW hill. I also had a fair number of buildings in varying stages of completion and painting, but more on those another day. I've resolved, and have mostly stuck with, gaming in only three scales: 6mm (aka 1:300 or 1:285, depending on the line), 15mm (1:100ish), and 28mm or 30mm (1:56 to 1:60 or so).

First, a look at the trees. I have three types: old GW, a bag of HO (1:87) model railroad conifers, and some Frontline Gaming conifers (their "summer tree" set).

6mm Napoleonic Cavalry, a 3-story building, and some GHQ microarmor next to the HO scale trees.

15mm figures next to the HO trees and the GW trees (far left and right). A Plastic Soldier Company StuG G and some Battlefront infantry and truck.

15mm ancients with the HO and GW. Essex slingers and I believe Old Glory15s Gallic cavalry. The bases are 40mm wide.

15mm ancients in among the Frontline Gaming trees.

Same as above, but giving some vertical scale.

Privateer Press 30mm Hordes Grymkin figures next to the GW and HO trees. The three models in front are standard human-sized.

Grymkin in the FLG woods.

28mm Frostgrave and Gripping Beast Crusader figures among the FLG woods.

And next to the HO and GW trees.
I'm pleasantly surprised. I'd have thought the older trees, the GW and HO ones, were writeoffs, but they don't look half bad. The HO ones will probably work ok with 6mm as old growth forest giants, while the GW ones are... acceptable. They do look a bit much like toilet scrubbing brushes for my taste, but they'll do until they get replaced with better looking kit. I need to make some area bases for stands, copses, and groves. I'd also like to get some deciduous trees, and some stuff that'll do for dense brush - brambles and the like. And, of course, some orchard trees.

One quibble I have with most wargaming trees is that they're far too short, usually for reasons of playability and practicality. On average, I think they're between 5" and 10" - in 28mm, that theoretically puts them between 24' and 48'. A respectable Douglas fir easily doubles that, but then you're dealing with 20" tall trees on the table. It's one reason I've grown fonder of smaller scales like 15mm and 6mm; you can show more of that height. The 5" tree in 15mm appears to be a good 50' tall in scale. That's a point I'll come back to when I get to hills someday...

After the trees, I took stock of my water supply: Two sets of rivers and a swamp from Wizard Kraft, and streams and swamps from Gale Force 9's Battlefield in a Box line.

6mm on the banks of a Wizard Kraft 4" river, with the GF9 stream in the back.

15mm WW2 on the GF9 stream, with the GF9 swamp behind and the Wizard Kraft swamp to the fore.

15mm ancients.

30mm Hordes figures; again, the three short models are human-sized.

28mm Frostgrave and Gripping Beast.
By the look of it, either line will do will, but I'll probably go with the GF9 stuff for now, simply because it is more easily available (and, I suspect, will hold up to rougher handling at the FLGS). On the other hand, the lower profile of the Wizard Kraft stuff is a much better fit for the 6mm figures, and I think it looks better to boot. Either way, I need to pick up some more ponds, narrow streams, and crossing points.

Lastly, few random pieces:
GF9 "Rock Outcrops"

These are nice for some scatter obstruction, but they also seem a bit fantastic, in that I'm not sure what sort of terrain you could expect to see rock outcrops like these naturally appearing in. Maybe a rugged mountain pass? They're definitely not well-scaled for 6mm figures, but they'll do all right for my other scales.

One last note: All these were laid out on a Cigar Box battlemat, and I'm quite pleased with that piece of terrain. It drapes very nicely and doesn't scatter bits of flock all over the place...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Romans vs Seleucids in To The Strongest!

Last Saturday saw me throwing another phalanx vs. legion bash for the guys, this time using the To the Strongest! rules from Simon Miller. We called it before the real end of things, but it seemed to be drifting toward a victory for the phalanx... in no small part to the Roman left-flank player's appalling luck. I've never seen one roll so many ones, so to speak.

Early moments: The Seleucid right advances, while the Romans move forward a little more cautiously.
 We started things off rather farther apart than most games of TtS recommend; this gave the players time to get the hang activations, group moves, and march moves.

Just before the clash.
 The above picture shows off all the lance (blue), shock (green) and ammo (brown) tokens this game needs. I'm going to need to order some more if I want to run some bigger games...

Camelry in the foreground, Seleucid lancers and Roman triarii in the middle.
 While the two sides were point-balanced, the Seleucids had a really cavalry advantage, and I think that might be a bit of a problem in scenario design. Not sure yet how to address it.

The Romans stand off behind their velites.
 I also think I erred in a couple things - for one, on a closer reading of the rules, units can't activate to shoot if they're in an enemy zone of control. That means that the only way javelin-armed troops can shoot is either from one side, or by moving and shooting in the same activation.
The Roman left flank has all but disintegrated, leaving the legion open to a sweeping flanking move from Seleucid cavalry.
Still, fun was had by all, and though I felt things might have been dragging a bit halfway through, I do like the rules.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Projects In Progress: 2018

I'm looking at a basement full of wargaming projects right now. The lead mountain basically covers one wall of my basement - which makes it a relatively small lead mountain in some circles, but it's plenty big enough. This year my goal is to get through at least three projects - and that means not just painting the figures, but also building terrain and trying out rules. (I'd like to get through more, but I'm being realistic here.) Out of the many half-started, barely-begun, and still-in-the-package projects, these are the three I'm going to focus on:

Grymkin: The Wicked Harvest

This is a limited faction for Privateer Press' Hordes wargame. As a limited faction, they won't be releasing much more in the way of models for it over the next few years. For me, that's a point in its favor as it means I can actually complete the faction: buy all the models, paint all the models, call it done. And once it's painted, I'll have a fully complete collection to build armies from and play with. At least, that's the theory. I've already purchased most of the models, and am only missing a few infantry figures and warbeasts. Some are even painted already.

The Rise of Rome and the Hellenistic Age

The period from 300 to 100 BC is pretty interesting: it has the Punic Wars and the rise and fall of Alexander's Successors, and as a result a heck of a lot warfare. It's interesting stuff too - none of this Dark Age "a bunch of hairy guys in mail lock shields and shove each other" nonsense. There are elephants, barbarians, hoplites, pikes, heavily armored cataphract cavalry, scythed chariots, camelry, mercenaries of all sorts, and - of course - the mighty Roman legion just hitting its stride. I've been collecting it in 15mm for a while, and have a decent collection (Romans, Successors, Greeks, Carthaginians, Gauls...) - but most of it still needs to be painted. I also need to test out rules I like (current front runners: To the Strongest! and Sword and Spear), and much more importantly - build terrain! More on that in a later post.

Saga: Viking Age and Crusades

The new edition of Saga comes out this month. For the last couple years, I've been playing the same Crusader army from Crescent and Cross, and it's gotten rather stale... Plus, the C&C faction battleboards aren't going to be immediately available. I already have a Viking army in raw lead in the basement, and I've backed Bad Squiddo Games' Freja's Wrath Kickstarter to get a longship-load of shieldmaidens! So it's time to get painting some hairy guys (and gals) in mail so I can get on with the shieldwall...

I also want to build some proper terrain for this - maybe a full-fledged viking or Norman village or farm.

After that, it's time to do the same for my Saracens (also still in lead) and build a little village for them to defend from my Franj.

Other Projects

In the rather unlikely event that I do finish all three of those projects in 2018, here's what else I'm looking at:
  • 15mm Sci Fi Skirmish
  • 15mm WW2 Skirmish
  • Frostgrave
  • 6mm WW2 (would like to get something going for Rommel)
  • 6mm Napoleonics (bought a large second-hand collection that needs organizing and quite a bit of rebasing...)
  • 6mm sci fi, aka "picked up an old Space Marine box"
  • 28mm English Civil War or 30 Years War (or maybe 80 Years War)
  • A hell of a lot of Warmachine/Hordes. Some of this is probably going to just get sold.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Et sans Resultat! Napoleonic grand battle, and Saga report

2017 turned out not to be a great year for my gaming, almost entirely due to scheduling issues. I hope 2018 will be a bit better.

Last night, we did a test game of Et Sans Resultat! It's a grand battle game for the Napoleonic Wars, and to be honest probably a bit too fiddly for my taste. But it did look very pretty on the table, with rank after rank of 25mm redcoats and line infantry clashing in the middle. Here are some pictures:

My Brits advance up the board.

The entire battlefield... more or less. The house on the left represents my objective.

My left formation is beginning to deploy into line, while my right formation is struggling to get through some woods. To my right, Dave's British cavalry have attacked Andrew's French center.

French and British exchanging skirmish fire.

Much the same as before, save that both sides are getting quite fatigued. In the center, Dave's cavalry have beaten up a few French battalions. To the far right, Vic and Andy are mucking about.

Before that, I hit the monthly Saga day at Guardian and got a couple games in; both victories for me, but both only as a result of Hail Mary plays, so I can't really chalk that up to strategic acumen.

First we had defend the homestead from the Viking Age rulebook:
My Crusaders defend a few ruined buildings from Anglo-Saxon marauders.

Had to trade 8 knights to eliminate a single unit of Anglo-Saxon warriors. This is not a good trade.
That game ended with me rushing my last group of (dismounted) knights up and just managing to kill the enemy Warlord for a victory before he was able to kill off my own remaining mounted troops.

We reracked and did a Last Stand game. This time I was the attacker, and only had six turns to eliminate all of his troops. That turned out to be barely enough time.
After my first turn: Anglo-Saxons huddled in the center, my troops have just moved on.

I charged in with my Warlord and knights on the right and eliminated a small unit of Anglo-Saxon Hearthguard at a cost of four knights. (This happened every time my knights charged in today - lost four knights every time.)

That, it turns out, was a mistake; as the photo shows, my Warlord is now gone and he won't be coming back. I did manage to pick off most of a unit of warriors on the left, though.

Just before the end. Only two Anglo-Saxons left beside their Warlord, and I disposed of them pretty quickly - and just in time, too! 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Battle Report: Battle of the Hydaspes River

Dave put on a version of the Battle of the Hydaspes River, Alexander the Great's last great battle, last night. He used DBA 3.0, with a few variations - no rolling for command pips was the biggest one. It ended ahistorically with an Indian victory, which is a pity as I played the left flank for the Macedonians.

Indian chariots and skirmishers dominate the battlefield to begin with...

Alexander's forces march on to the table.

The phalanx on the left flank. Two units of companions are shifting from the left to the center behind the phalanx line.

Alexander (the purple-caped cavalry) and his Companions bullying the Indian skirmishers off the hill.

Indian elephants lumbering toward the Macedonian left flank.

The Indian front line retreats from the Companions, but their main line approaches...

Indian skirmishers move through rough going, covering their elephants.

Treetop view of the battle from the Macedonian left. The left phalanx is shifting a bit to avoid being outflanked by the elephants. The Indian front line is bowing away from the Companions.

Indian front line is (mostly) driven off by the Companions. 

The elephants finally hit the Macedonian left flank, smashing into the skirmishers guarding the far left.

Indian line reforms and prepares for the second clash of arms.

Elephants drive the skirmishers back a bit...

... and have destroyed two stands. The phalanx will soon be outflanked. Also, this is when I realized that my phalanx was advancing on archers, not spearmen. Stupid straight bows...

Cavalry smashes into the spearmen, phalanx endures a rather ineffective volley of arrows, and the elephants move around to the rear of the phalanx.

Companions face off against the second line of infantry and elephants.

Overview of the unfolding disaster on the left flank. Note the lack of Macedonian skirmishers.

Overview near the end. In the far distance, the Macedonian reinforcements have crossed the Hydaspes and threaten the Indian left... but too late.

The end, at least as far the left flank is concerned - demoralized and fleeing past the elephants.