Saturday, 30 May 2015

Steiner & le Duc, Game 3 - Black Powder (or...Where the hell is Grouchy - he's got the good dice???)

Another excellent game at Sgt Steiner's, with his beautiful 15mm Napoleonics.

I’ve slated Black Powder (through Pike & Shotte) in previous posts, and it does have its disadvantages, but the recent game at Sgt Steiner’s bunker was certainly tense.

Things to note from the game:

The Good
  • ·        The orders system is subtle and adds just the right amount of restriction to what the general can do. (Also be careful what you wish for, and careful when announcing those charges!)
  • ·        Movement is simple, intuitive and reduces hassle to an absolute minimum.
  • ·        The system can be bent, spun, moulded and hacked into just about anything you want – in terms of play sequence and content.

The Bad
  • ·        I’m still not convinced by the activation roll, and it seems a little arbitrary – but then I’m in love with the gamey Maurice method. Granted, troops in this period don’t always do what you want them to, though bad dice rolls can completely remove the general’s ability to manage the army (while in Maurice, you can always gauge that resource going down, or at least plan for the next turn). Even with a few average brigade commanders in BP, you can really get whacked by some dice rolls outside the bell curve.
  • ·        We forgot some subtleties like disorder when rolling sixes during firefights. Though there are a lot of these little ‘hidden’ things in the rules that work off the roll or its effects. Experience with the rules would probably cater for this, though I think it gets a little ‘warhammer-esque’ at times. A symptom of the rules’ heritage I suppose.
  • ·        Melee; I had this problem in my Pike & Shotte game. Markers, bits, rolls, more markers, checking and moving and… If this system is meant to put you off charging home, it works.
The Ugly
  • ·        We had notoriously random dice rolls in this game - at both ends of the bell curve, which didn’t grant activation at critical moments or threw command blunders in for a laugh (3 times - how the rules work of course) yet also meant that reinforcements didn’t appear at all (house rules – but a great provider of tension). A particularly gruesome example of this was when the French Guard cavalry seemed to get lost on their way to the battlefield. They would have had a decidedly influential effect on the game..if they had only marched to the ‘sound of the guns’. Where is Grouchy???

 Prussian right flank. These guys didn't last very long against experienced French cavalry.

The Prussian centre. This brigade would form a thin 'blue' line in the centre.

The French move to attack early on.

French skirmishers deploy as Prussians move to hold the centre.

Blucher appeared (that's Dave Blucher, Division Commander of course - not the older bloke with the pipe) to encourage the troops.

 The Prussian lines formed in centre, ready for French columns.

After being decimated by the cavalry action on the right flank, the Prussians secured it with a spare infantry brigade.

There's a little Landwehr cavalry unit in there. They seemed to be in a daft position, but it turned out ok for them.

French Old Guard advancing (gulp!)

Just in the nick of time, Prussian cavalry arrived to secure the Prussian left.

Landwehr vs Young Guard flank...(It's blurry because my hands were shaking!)

The battering in the centre goes on. French reserves take their time to arrive, but the Prussians seemed to be working to a timetable. "Good to see you Herr Steinmetz."

 BP Lessons Learned #23 - don't assault infantry ensconced in town!
Flanks, rear, front...'Merde!'

A tense game with 'ooohs', 'aaahs' and various expletives (oh those bloody dice). Highly entertaining however. Perhaps more games with BP, and as stated, it's always eminently hackable. More to come I think. Next game probably Beneath the Lily Banners.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Sgt Steiner chez le Duc

Sgt Steiner of the Blog-o-sphere journeyed the short hop to le Duc's bunker for a game of the favoured Maurice.

An excellent Nine Years War 100 point clash (with even some attempt to use the scouting rules beforehand) this time.

English/Dutch attackers, with the odd Danish mercenary battalion, vs French and Irish defenders (who also managed to pick up a few Danes due to miscalculation of numbers), with the town square as an objective

A fraught battle, with reverses and tense moments.

Highlights included:

  • Maurice's frustratingly devastating ability to place marshes where you don't want them, thereby effectively making a flank redundant (or securing it, depending upon your viewpoint).
  • The devastating effect of the 'lethal vollies' national advantage (it's lethal !!), brought about by virtue of re-roll allowance. A la Baionette makes a similar difference, though not so readily useful when the defender, on hindsight.
  • We managed to firm up on the melee rules, where doubling up in terms of melee totals made significant, and bloody, difference.
  • Again - wonderful opportunities for resource management, while the rest of the battlefield looks on, and you frustratingly can't do what you want to!!!
  • Pikes make a big difference vs cavalry (uhhh as designed to I guess). We actually forgot them at one stage, recalculated, and replaced the troops that had been removed, simply because the +2 from pike defence made such a difference to the overall total. This is as period of course, and provides a nice reshaping of how the cavalry (brittle as it can be) is used.
 'Right lads. This is what I want you to do. Hey! Where are you going?'

 The centre, as French regulars await the attack.

 The Allied centre, as the Dutch Garde de Voet go in. Elite troop status made these guys incredibly resilient.

The Allied left, where someone has stuck a marsh in a most inopportune position.

'Lethal Vollies' unleash hell on the attacking French cavalry.

The centre holds as the French force a Dutch charge, which created our clarification re. melee.

Pikes make a big difference vs cavalry charge of course.

 In the end, a constant wearing down via musketry made the difference and morale ebbed away. As with most Maurice battles, the objective is rarely seized before one side or another leaves the field. Though of course, that seems to make sense.

Next up? Black Powder, then perhaps Beneath the Lily Banners.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Game 29 - Dave the DoomLich and the Assault on Chizzlewit's Tomb...or something.

Ok, there's a lot of stuff made up on spec here, so be warned!

With less time for prep than usual, we decided that it was high time we tried out 'Song of Blades and Heroes'. Now it's because we like the idea of the dice roll and initiative mechanisms and not because we want to tell some Lord of the Rings style story...honest. ;)

So, despite the allusions to comedic disparagement(!), we did take this seriously really.

And so, presenting the characters today, we have:

The Forces of GOOD:
Bonan the Barbarian and his two girlfriends (lucky bast**d), Sylvia the Sorceress (who wants to be a fashion model rather than a magic user), the brave Lord Burnham and Fartleck the Dwarf and his mate uhhh...Simon?

The Forces of BAD (booo, hisss): Led by Dave the DoomLich of Soapinme Bath, with Kul the Minotaur and Hugh, Pew, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert and Dibble...the orcs (Grub was on holiday).

Joking aside, there are some nice touches to these rules, with activation based on one to three rolls of d6 per character, with successes dictating whether you get your actions, or if initiative moves to your next character, or even the other player.

(Our feeling of course was centred upon how this would feature for asymmetric engagements between PMCs and insurgents on the modern battlefield, if tweaked for firefights - and I know there is a modern version available, which we'll try ('flying lead' I think)).

 The forces approach each other, with Lord Burnham sprinting toward the lost 'Tomb of Chuzzlewit' - the objective for the scenario.

Dave the DoomLich looks on, then takes matters into his own hands.
'I will deal with them, myself."

 Oooh, but a bit of a rumble develops. That damned minotaur is pretty tough.

 Bow Cam...though the Orc archer didn't make a lot of difference (until later).

In the fracas that follows at the tomb, Kul the Minotaur goes down under a hail of blades from one of Bonan's girlfriends. The death is a gory one, which inflicts a morale check. They all run like hell (even Dave!). Sylvia the Sorceress takes a moment to pose for the camera in front of a suitably imposing backdrop, with a view to giving up Magic School and getting that dream modelling job.

The evil ones start to move back for a second attack, but they have neither the numbers nor the tank Minotaur...

The orc archer finally gets a decent shot in.

Lord Burnham makes his fear check and engages Dave the DoomLich at close quarters... Dave disappears in a 'poof' of smoke, and goes back to ...some demi-plane or something.

The orc archer slays one of Bonan's wimmen...he will NOT be pleased.

Sylvia poses in front of a rock. 'That's it luv, it's the Vogue cover.'

The good guys gang up on the last orc, and pulverise 'im.

 The forces of good...triumphant! (Sylvia poses for another shot..and who's that behind the rock?)

 'The Ruins of Chuzzlewit's Tomb'...double nicely as a dice box.