Sunday, October 25, 2020

If

 Hi all,


The Great Rebasing continues apace, but didn't get in the way of me being able to host remote DBA from my end.  It was a treat for me, both because it's the first non-WWII historical game played at the new house, and also the first ancients game played with my figs since we left Toronto about six years ago!

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Macedonians top.  The grouped cavalry at the top of the pic was standing in for the Mac camp.

With what I have for figs (Spartan / hoplites and Antigonid / eastern successors) we opted for a historical, but slightly misrepresented matchup, with Philippian Macedonians vs. Spartans.  Philip, somewhat notoriously, threatened the Spartans with slavery if he won their impending conflict, to which the Spartans, laconically (ha!), replied "if".  While the Spartans may have, in point of historical fact, been rather limited socially, politically, and even militarily (and see the brilliant set of posts on Spartan social organization at CoUP, you're welcome), you can't fault them for smart-assery, which I personally appreciate.

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The Spartan left wing.  Didn't want to extend the line into the fields, just in case.

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Macedonians deploy on a narrow frontage, with their right covered by light troops in the woods.

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Sparta, oddly enough, had elephants for a camp.

Macedon had a slight edge on aggression, and ended up as attacker, and once we'd established terrain, we had one side of the table dominated by woods, and the other mostly open.  I picked the clear side, not out of any tactical brilliance, but because it was the side that had the computer and camera set up (I had the webcam hanging off the light fixture).  Turns out, expediency is the mother of brilliance, as it meant Jura (my increasingly regular remote opponent) got stuck deploying in a narrow frontage between the woods.

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Spartan generals anchor the line.

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The Spartan right wheels forward, and the Macedonian cavalry counters, skirting the woods.

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That's the General and companions, waving around the xystons.

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Macedonian light horse engage!

The opening moves of the game saw me advancing and wheeling my right, in the hopes that I would envelope his flank.  This is a pretty standard move for me when my line is longer, although traditionally I do it with cavalry, rather than Even More Spears.  Jura countered by advancing his cavalry in column around the woods, and a rather aggressive charge with his light horse (Tarantines posing as prodromoi), which my spear handily repulsed.


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The Macedonian cavalry charge home.  This one was dicey, but the Spartans repulsed the impetuous horse.

The first phase of the battle saw the Macedonian cavalry launch repeated charges against my right wing, including a number of high-stakes clashes between Phillip and the companion cavalry against my General (the Spartan with no name).  As long as the phalanx (and the side support spears get from spears in DBA) held, my general had the advantage in combat, but if he lost, the knights get a quick kill (they destroy the opposing element if they beat them, not just double them).  Turns out, a line of spears is pretty solid against mixed cavalry, and the Macedonians were thrown back repeatedly, with the light horse, at one point, fleeing entirely.


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The Macedonian phalanx advances past the choke point.

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On the right, the cavalry make little headway against the Spartan phalanx.  On the other hand, the Spartans can't seem to do more than drive off the cavalry - combat is largely inconclusive.

Jura managed to get his phalangites out from betwitxed the woods, and started to shake out a line, but it was still uneven when the main infantry formations clashed.  The Macedonian phalanx has an advantage under these circumstances, but not a decisive one, and the result of the on-going othismos (which I really enjoy saying, for some reason), was a pretty classic grind, with the deeper Macedonian pike phalanx pushing back the Spartans, but not quite breaking through.


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Macedonian cavalry regrouped and charged again, with similar results.  Meanwhile, the lines grow closer.

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Macedon tries to shake out a battle line, but poor C&C (i.e., low PiP rolls) meant it happened slowly.

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Othismos!  The deeper phalanx begins to drive back the Spartans, as the lines break down.

At this point, my longer line, and ability to roll higher PiPs (i.e., command and control resources), let me slowly envelope and gnaw away at the Macedonian flanks.  I had plenty of opportunity to set up attacks where I could pin, and then flank, isolated Macedonian units on the flanks, and while they didn't always pay off, any win resulted in a destroyed unit (flank attacks aren't a big deal in DBA, unless they complement frontal engagement - losing is BAD in DBA if you're engaged both to the front AND to the flank).  It took some grinding, but the Spartans managed to chew away the "softer" elements of the Macedonian formation, before the Macedonian pike could really grind down the Spartan phalanx.


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Spartans struggle to get past the Macedonian pikes.

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Both lines are in disarray.

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On the left, the Spartans envelope the Macedonian light troops, and look to roll up the line.

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The Macedonians manage to wheel, but are under increased pressure from multiple sides.

Even without the delays expected from new armies and a new "technical" set-up, this game took longer than others we've played - but it felt "right".  The Macedonian phalanx had a clear, but not decisive, advantage over the Spartans, but the Spartans, with their wider formation, were able to envelope the Macedonian core.  The four elements that the Macedonians lost were their "weakest" ones - auxilia, psiloi, cavalry, and light horse, and the lost them because I was able to hit them on two sides.  The hard core of the Macedonian army had no problem driving back the Spartan centre, and had I rolled poorly, things could have gone very differently (all I needed to do was lose ONCE against his companions, and my general would have disappeared).  Even with the constraints of terrain, this one was much closer than it appeared.




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This unit was frustratingly stubborn.  They just would not die!

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Note how the Macedonians continue to push back the spear at the middle of the shot.

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Repeated attacks failed to break the Macedonian phalanx.

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Spartan turn to roll low on PiPs.  Macedonians struggle to reform their line.

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Spartans step back and reform.  Behind the Macedonian infantry, their light horse are caught and flanked.  With essentially all of the Macedonian lighter troops gone, Spartans win the game 4-2.

It was so good to get the minis on the table again.  Although I do really enjoy the appearance of the Impetus / element basing, the DBx gives me more options for play, and being able to use the figures counts more, in the long run, than them looking good on the shelf.  Once I get the rebasing done, I'll get back to the Ayyubid / Seljuk painting, and am already looking forward to expanding the stuff I have (later Achaemenids, and various hoplite variations, are in the works).

FMB

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Flames - and an update?

 Hi all,

Got in a Flames of War game with the Cub again.  A trip over to the Fundy side for apple picking put us close to Gametronics in New Minas, the local(ish) pervayor of FoW goodness.  Cub took the opportunity to pick up some more Finns, and with his usual industry, had them painted up in a weekend.

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Soviet initial position.  We need to defend the crossroads, hill, and red building from attack - but don't know from where the attack will come!

We're using a modified / fudged / newguy version of 3rd edition for now.  Cub's Finns are in a weird place in the newest version of the game, as they don't really have updated or official rules.  He's using a specific briefing for Finn commandos (came across them in an old Wargames Illustrated of mine), and making them work takes a bit of tweaking.  Add in that I've not played the game in 7 or 8 years, and we're playing something more FoW-esque than strict Fow, but it works.

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As a good chunk of my 15mm stuff is individually based for Bolt Action, I just fudged in the 45mm AT gun.

We also home-brewed a scenario.  Three objectives (crossroads, supply depot, and hill commanding the town).  Soviets start in control of all three, and if Finns take 2 (i.e., start their turn in control of them), they win.  Seemed like a suitable thing for Finn raiders to be doing - hit and run attack on a Soviet garrison, looking for supplies.

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Finns move on to the table, concentrated behind Soviet lines, the tricky fiends.

Cub's Finn commandos get to make a pre-game move, move quickly when they move at the double, and we gave them first turn.  Basically, it meant that Cub could chose the terms of engagement, and he used the option to swarm in from what we'd designated as the "Soviet" side of the table.  We had roughly the same number of troops on the table, but Cub's are better (Finn commandos have the best ratings in the game, for both motivation and skill), so we decided that Soviet reinforcements could start arriving on turn 2 (5+ roll, then a 4+ on turn 3, etc.).

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Crossroads about to be hit hard and fast.
It made for a pretty cool deployment, actually.  The unsuspecting Soviet garrison were confronted with a sudden, close-contact attack by Finns pouring out of the woods behind Soviet lines.  It also meant Cub could close to assault distance turn 1, which he used to good effect, gutting the Soviet platoon defending the crossroads.

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After the assault.  Soviets still have a toehold, but probably can't pull it off again.

The soviets managed to hold off the initial attack, but it cost them, and I started my own turn one hanging on to my right flank by my fingernails.

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Cub, making good use of LoS blocking terrain ;)

I opted to pull the remaining teams in town into some buildings, with the hope that they'd be harder to dig out, and slow the Finn advance.  Meanwhile, on the outskirts of town, the Finns swarmed over the objective hill, and moved in to attack the supply depot.

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More Finns surge over the hill commanding the town.

There was an initial firefight here.  The Finns had the advantage, both in terms of their superior troops, and because the elevated terrain let them bring more teams to bear.

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With their right flank more or less collapsed, the remaining Soviets spread out into a firing line.

Cub then followed up with a close assault that was much more one-sided than his attack on the crossroads.  My soviets were driven back, and the Finns moved in to raid the supply depot.

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Finns push forward.

The arrival of a supporting SU-76, and a daring attack out of the buildings, let me retake the crossroads, but there was nothing I could do about Cub's control of the other two objectives.  Finns win.

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Soviet reinforcements arrive, but possibly too late to matter.

For all that this was a bit of a bodge game, it turned out to be really fun.  In retrospect, I might have deployed in a more dispersed way, but I really only have a couple of formations, and at deployment, had no idea from which direction Cub would attack.  I also underestimated how far onto the table he could move with the combination of his pre-game shenanigans and the first turn, and it really felt like I was playing a garrison surprised by a sudden commando raid.

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Soviets retake the crossroad, but Finns control the supply depot and hill.  Finns take it.

.I think (hope?) we'll be playing more of this.  I know there's a lot of purists who don't like FoW, and I get it, but the game always struck me as falling firmly in the "game, not simulation" category.  Cub's interested, and I have enough stuff to build up Soviets that we can play larger games as his collection grows.  It'll also be a nice spur to get some terrain done - the mdf buildings we used are functional, but could use some sprucing, and there's lots of opportunity for scatter and area terrain that would enhance our games.

Speaking of game enhancement, I've decided to take the plunge, and have begun the Great Rebasing of 2020.  All of my ancients stuff is based for Impetus, as that's what I played in Toronto when I first got into the period.

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The only problem is, no one around here plays the game, I've had limited success (or motivation, if I'm being honest) in sparking a community, and much as I enjoy Impetus, I enjoy actually playing games more.  As a result, I'm rebasing my entire 15mm ancients collection to DBx standard.  Turns out, I have a lot of hoplites.

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It should be noted - I can still play Impetus with the new basing (though I'll need to paint more figs), but the basing shift also means I can play a lot of other games as well, including more DBA, which, via remote gaming, is my best prospect right now.

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In point of fact, I'll be "hosting" a DBA game today, probably running Successors vs. Sparta.  My Successors are a bit of a fudge, as they were built initial for Pyrrhus, and then morphed to Antigonus, but they'll serve.  I'll also need to work up something for camps, but I'm chuffed at the prospect of getting in a legit ancients game at my place.  I'll take pics, and throw up a post later on to cover it.  Until then, take care.

FMB

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Ayyubid goodbye . . .

 


 . . . but I bid hello?


Okay, a bit of a stretch, I'll warrant, but these are strange days, and I figure one should find one's cheap laughs wherever they might be found.  Bit of a mish mash today, a combination of an update on the Ayyubid DBx project, and a few shots from a small game of Flames of War I got in with the Cub, before he went back to his mom's for the school year.

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What's been done so far, some rebased, some newly completed


The Ghulams are the same figs I've had kicking around for years, but rebased for DBx.  The plan is that post-plague, these guys can go up against Jura's Eurotrash kniggits in a real-live face to face game.  

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Mamluk Ghulam general

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More Ghulams

I also knocked out some Kurdish Javelinment (3Ax in DBA).

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Kurd Javelinmen


And some Quaraghulam lancers.  

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Quaraghulam lancers

There's a fair ways to go on this, and not a huge rush, but I've been picking away at it fairly consistently - there's a unit of Turkik archers in the painting queue as I write this.

In addition, the Cub has been busily painting a platoon of Finnish commandos he picked up back at the end of summer, and we managed to sneak in a small game of FoW; it was pretty much everything I had painted vs. everything he had painted.

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Finn Commandos top, Heroes of the Soviet Union bottom


The finn commandos are some of the best infantry in the game, whereas the Soviets, even in the relatively veteran form I'm taking, are on the good side of mediocre at best.  Very much a quality vs. quantity match-up.

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The Finnish commander reviews his troops


In the end, quantity took it; Cub was attacking into some big blobs of soviet infantry, and as it was his first game, hadn't really got the hang of coordinating attacks.  That said, he pushed pretty hard, and on the last turn had put himself in a position to win, holding key objectives.  If the Soviets hadn't regained control, he would have taken the game.

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Soviets dig in..

I'm pretty sure he had fun, as he's been talking about getting some more Finns.  We might stop in at the game shop as part of an apple-picking excursion over the next couple weeks.  In the meantime, my soviet tanks have arrived, and I've been busily assembling T-34s.  I'll probably do a post on the PSC kits soonish.  Until then, stay safe.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Horses for courses

 Hi all,

While remote gaming will hopefully continue for the near and mid-term future (barring some interference from the Traditional September Hurricane), in-person gaming is likely coming to a close for a while.  There is a decided nip in the air, we're getting more rain, and the wind is growing teeth.  That said, I managed a flurry of games around the end of August and beginning of September, including Cub's first game of Flames of War (the subject of a future post).  Among those were a couple of games of Lord of the Rings SBG, both of which I lost, but, as usual with SBG, were fun games with plenty of thinking involved.

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Rohan deploys.

The first game involved a couple of firsts for me; it was the first time I'd played with Eomer (who's the best combat character for Rohan, although probably a second tier fighter across the whole game), and it was the first time I'd played against a war machine (in this case, a Mordor catapult).

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That big gap in the line?  Yeah, that's from one catapult shot.

Turns out, the latter was a bit of an eye opener.  On the first turn of the game, my opponent dropped what amounted to a perfect shot right in the middle of my line.  Several dead riders, and unhorsed heroes, later, I had to radically reassess how I was going to proceed in the game ;) !

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All shots are from the Mordor side of the table.
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Eomer, Eomering.

This left me with a bit of a quandary.  Scoring points in the scenario meant taking an objective behind his lines, and harming his general (although, amusingly enough, I spent the entire game confused about who his general was), while preventing him from doing the same.


On the plus side, Eomer was still on his horse, had a couple friends, and turns out to be a complete beast.  He ended up in a 3(or 4?) on one in his first combat, and won ;)

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Riding to ruin, and the world's ending.

The catapult continued to be a  . . . . presence . . . on the battlefied, although he never connected with it quite as well as that first shot.  In the end, he pulled it out, but had the game gone another turn, I'd likely have pulled out a win - which wasn't bad, given how things looked at the beginning of the game.

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That catapult.  That damned catapult . . . .

A few weeks later, we got in what I hoped would be the revenge scenario, my Mordor vs. his Numenor.  For those less familiar with SBG, or LotR in general, Numenor is the "olden times" human kingdom, and Elendil and Isildur are the father-son combo who, along with the elves, stood against Sauron in the second age.  In other words, they are top-tier raging baddasses, which sadly, Mordor generally lacks (beyond the Big Man himself, whom I don't take).

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Odd deployment on this one.  Our forces were split into opposing corners, and we had to chase objectives across the centre line of the table.

Playing against the dynamic duo is generally an objective game.  Can you get ahead on points / position far enough that when they contact your lines (and it's really, really hard to stop them), you can soak the casualities until the game ends, and edge them out.  This time, the answer was "no".

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In retrospect, I should have raced for the centre, using the "march" option.

I find playing against Numenor with Mordor rather similar to playing my Beasts of Chaos in AoS against . . . well, anyone, in that you pretty much forget the attrition / killing stuff element, and just play for the objectives.  This one was pretty tight until the final turn, but he managed to break through with Elendil, my "control" resources were exhausted with my Ringwraith's will depleted, and had the game continued, he would have simply pulled ahead.
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As it was, his troops are superior to mine, and I couldn't bring the numbers to bear to offset that advantage.

I alsways forget how much I enjoy SBG until I play it.  It's mechanically solid, very much objective based, and "thinky" without being oppressive.  Although there are a few dud minis in the range (why, oh why, did they put Morannons in the starter box?), there's also some that are just gorgeous, and the line as a whole had weathered the years well (the older sculpts are what, 20 years old?).
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The painted stuff is mine.  Yes, I did just throw shade on my buddy ;)

It also fits nicely into that "mass skirmish" scale of game.  A large army is maybe 3 dozen models, which is entirely manageable, even for a slow painter like me.  I've now got (more or less) fully painted 700 point lists for both Rohan and Mordor, which is enough for a "big" game, and am at the stage where I'm adding characters, and thinking about new projects - like expanding the Galadhrim I ran for Battle Companies a while back (the "small skirmish" version of the game - thing LotR Mordheim).  Plenty to keep me occupied, anyways.  Assuming we weather the upcoming hurricane, I might even squeak in one more game before the winter.

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Elendil, demonstrating why it took a corrupted Maiar of the first rank to take him out.  Those two orc archers are not going to do the job.