Monday, November 19, 2018

Gribbly


Hi all,

Way back in March, I picked up a smallish starter force for the Flesh Eater Courts, and got as far as assembling them, and slapping on a few base colours.  Since then, they've rather languished, despite the occasional urge to break them out.  Thankfully, one of the local guys has started up an escalation league, and that's got me painting again.

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This is a Ghoul King on terrorgheist, and he's the general of my burgeoning army.  He's also a bit of a points sink, so I'll be running him solo for the first two weeks of the league (as his points exceed the initial block).

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He's also worth his points, especially in the current ruleset, in that with the selective use of faction abilities, not only does he bring himself and his ride to the table (both are beatsticks), but he's also a decent wizard, and can summon additional forces.

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It's a fun kit to build, and to play with.  The sharper-eyed among you may have noted the Bretonnian bits and imagery on the model.  The background of the FEC is that they are are basically insane (aside from the whole vampire-led cannibal cult thing).  They all think they are actually noble knights and heroes of old, defending their lands and crusading against evil.  I've thrown a few bits of Bretonnian stuff throughout the models I've done so far, as a nod to my poor squatted "kn-iggits".

FMB

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Battle of Noght-Dehdjecht

Hi all,

Somewhere on the border of France and the Low Countries . . . .

As it's been a shocking amount of time since my last post here, I thought I'd make up for it with a doozy.  Relative silence on the inter-tubes notwithstanding, I have been puttering a bit here and there with hobby stuff.  Mostly GW (given the local gaming context), but also some terrain, both 28mm and 6mm.  Having put together some of the latter, and having (mirabile dictu) a free day, I put together a solo game of Maurice, taking my beloved French up against my Anglo-Hanoverians on the latter's first outing.

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Anglo-Hanoverians, under the command of the Honorable Sir John de Bueffe


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The French, under the Sieur du Scarberri


As it's been something like 5 years since I played the game, I kept it fairly simple.  Armies had the same number of units, everything was "trained", with the French having the cavalry edge, and the A-Hs the infantry.  I fudged terrain a little, choosing "Plains" as the most flexible (and suitable to my terrain collection), and set up a board that got to use my recently completed buildings, roads, stream, and woods.  And hills.  French won the scouting roll, and chose to defend.  The town on the French side of the table was the objective.

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Lines from the French side.


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Lines from the AH side.  Generally like how the terrain turned out, but will need to tone down the fields - the yellow seems more pronounced in these pictures.

The opening stages of the battle saw a race for the small village at the crossroads, Bijou St. Croix.  Although both sides of the table were passable (the stream had 2 fords, and there was room to manoeuver a battalion in line), the town and field in the centre would be key, and a prime defensible anchor for a line.  The AHs, who'd deployed a small contingent in line, raced it forward in an effort the seize the village.  In response, the French advanced their entire line.  This challenged the AH for control of Bijou St. Croix, (I couldn't find the rules, so decided that no one could garrison the town as long as the opposing player also had a unit in it), but it also meant the ability of the French to coordinate was compromised; with different units in different kinds of terrain, they wouldn't be able to activate as a single force.

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The AH brought up the rest of their infantry line to support the fight for Bijou St. Croix, as both sides struggle in fierce, close range firefights across the village.  The French cavalry on the left, led by the cunning Russian renegade Boris Kutusov, begin a long march around the flank of the Anglo-Hanoverian army in a bid to catch them unguarded.

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After several rounds of volleys, the Hanoverian regiment Ledebour Sporken broke under fire, and left the French holding the town.  The victorious unit (the name of which I failed to note - obviously not led by one of the peerage) quickly moved to garrison the town.

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At the same time, the Anglo-Hanoverians' refuse their right, and redeploy their guns, in a bit to counter the French flank march under Kutusov.

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With their flank stabilized for now, General de Beuffe swung his left in an oblique march, attempting to bypass Bijou St. Croix, and seize the village behind it, Ville de Charles (the objective of the game).

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The British line advances.


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View from Bijou St Croix.  The Sieur du Scarberrit notes the perfidious English trying to turn his flank.


A savage firefight broke out as the lines engaged on the outskirts of Bijou St. Croix.  The Artois regiment, raked by fire, held off an initial ferocious charge by the 87th and 88th Highlanders, but collapsed under the sheer weight of claymores and kilts.  The way combat works in Maurice is that regardless of whether you win or lose, combat causes some damage ("disruption").  Artois actually won the fight, but because they started at 4 Disruption, it was a pyrrhic victory, in that they took 1 for being in combat, and broke.

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The French, seeing an opportunity, crashed their cavalry into the weakened Highlanders, and a melee broke out across the Anglo-Hanoverian left.  The highlanders, flush with victory over Artois, went down under the hooves and sabres of the Archiac regiment.

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This, however, left the French cavalry sitting out in the open in front of an Anglo-Hanoverian firing line, who were happy to take advantage of the situation.

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Some of the rhythms of  Maurice began to make themselves felt at this point.  The game is card-driven, and there's usually a point in the game where both sides run out of enough cards to mount a coordinated attack, and the lines stall for a bit, with musket duels ongoing, and both players trying to build up their hands.  In this game, that moment came when the French had one cavalry wing out in the open, and the other stranded across the table.  Although the French flanking force had an attached Notable (Kutusov), he only offered advantages when activating to March.  There were several turns where the French could have gotten off a beautiful flank charge on the British (sweeping past defenders, taking out guns, and catching the AH line from behind), but lacked enough cards  (and command range) to order it!!  Meanwhile, the British kept hammering the French cavalry on the other wing, until they were forced to withdraw out of musket range and regroup.

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The French inability to coordinate allowed the AH to redeploy their guns, and begin pounding the stranded cavalry on the AH right.  They were now in a position to being their assault on the French centre, splitting the garrisons at Bijou St. Croix and Ville de Chareles apart.

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At this point, the soldiers of the Wagenheim-Stolzenburg regiment lost their heads, and went charging willy-nilly across the wheatfield int he centre of the table (the French played the event card "In the Heat of Battle", forcing a charge).  Disrupted by fire, the muddy field, and the combat, the Hanoverians broke and fled.  On the other side of the field, however, the British guns flayed the French cavalry, shattering the unit led by Kutusoz (though the wily Russian lived to fight another day).  The blow to French morale was significant (3 morale points lost!), and cursing could be heard from French headquarters.


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Kutusov rides hard for the French lines.
The final stage of the battle was beginning.  The French, pulled back to a line cutting from Bijou St. Croix along the outskirts of Ville de Charles, prepared to receive the British attack.  The British deployed their lines, and brought up their guns.  Fire poured from both lines, but the Anglo-Hanoverian force had the advantage in numbers and guns.

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It was at this point, that the British notable, Augustus von Theisling, established his value.  He provides a +1 to rally, which meant not only that the AH line had more muskets firing, they were also better at rallying off the resulting disruptions.  After a few grinding rounds, the French centre was disrupted enough that two Hanoverian regiments charged in.

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Combat disruption mounted to the point that the regiments at the center of the French line, Jenner and Foix, crumpled, blowing a hole through the middle of the French position.  Morale was rolled for both, and I got box cars!  With only 5 morale left (the french had also lost their guns in the firefight), the resulting loss of 6 morale was enough to break the French army.  The day was won for King George.

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To be honest, I was kind of shocked by how much fun this was.  I love Maurice, and despite having to play against myself, there's just enough unpredictability in the game mechanics that I was still surprised by game events.  The mechanics came back fairly quickly; despite not having played in 5 years, and not having done the obvious, and read the rules again before play, the whole game took about 3 hours from set-up to break-down.  The Beloved asked me if I thought it was "worth it" to have painted all the toys up (i.e., a second army), and the answer was an unequivocal yes.

I think that while the AH side had an advantage at the end, the game could have swung.  The French still held both towns, and winkling out a garrison is tough, even with artillery support.  While the AH horse spent the game un-engaged, so did a chunk of the French, and it's possible they could have stabilized their position.  If the AH side took enough casualties assaulting either town, the French could still have pulled out a win.  The moment when the AH broke through the French centre felt like a shock, as did the sudden collapse of the army in response.  Good game all round.

I'm largely happy with the terrain I put together, though the fields need some work.  The roads and streams are just sponge-painted felt, but seem to work, and I'm chuffed with the forests.  Terrain played a role in this game, in that it kind of "pushed" the action towards the more open ground on the one side of the table.  I'll have to try and set up another game when I get a chance, and maybe paint up some more buildings along the way.  All I need is an afternoon free of obligations, and with limited distractions about . . .

FMB

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Maggots

Hi all,

More Middle Earth, as I seem to be on a kick with this game.  My Rohan Battle Company has expanded faster than I can keep up with painting, so to while away the time in between, I've started up a Mordor (i.e., orc) BC in lieu.

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A different set of Boyz than usual.


They were surprisingly challenging to paint, in that the palette one usually sees with orcs (at least in ME) is rather drab.  Getting a range of distinct colours on the models, while keeping them relatively desaturated, was tougher than I anticipated.  It kind of brought home the extent to which I rely on colour to define models on the table.

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By the time this goes up, I'll have had some games with them, but it should prove an interesting shift from Rohan.  The latter are an extremely balanced / all-round force in game, while orcs seem to rely more on combat and numbers.  Time will tell what suits my play style better.

FMB

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Shield Maiden, shields of the maiden

Hi all,

Some more Rohan figures finished up, including my first hero, Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan.

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Eowyn is one of my favorite characters in LotR; her stand against the Witch King is the stuff of sagas.  In the LotR SBG, she serves as a cheap hero with decent might, i.e., a force magnifier, rather than a beatstick in herself.

In addition to Eowyn, I also finished up another five warriors of Rohan.  This brings me to an even dozen.  As I write this, that's enough to fill out my first "warband" for the army (each hero "unlocks" up to 12 regular warriors), but early previews of the new edition suggest that how armies are structured may have changed.

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The box set is due to release Sept. 1, so I should have my hands on some riders, as well as some orkish opposition, soon enough.  In the meantime, we've got a Battle Companies campaign up and running, so hopefully I'll post some AARs soon.

FMB

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Battle Company Battles

Hi all,

Got in our first round of Middle Earth SBG / Battle Companies games the other night, and to be honest, had a blast.  At this scale of play (6-12 models), games resolve quickly, and in the space of 4 hours or so, I got in at least 5 games, with plenty of time for breaks and chatting.  The night culminated with a massive 3 on 3 battle, which we lost by the narrowest of margins.

My opening game was against a War Riders list, which proved . . . interesting.  Wargs count as cavalry in the game, and have the added advantage of being mounts with a combat profile - which means they make their riders more effective, and have a chance to stick around if the rider gets killed.  I know cavalry can be really effective in this game (especially against infantry in the open), but this was my first taste of what that meant in practice.

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Wargs and riders.  I had to get past them to win.


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The archers have the right idea.  Get up high, and shoot them.


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I would have deployed in the ruins if I could, but it wasn't an option.  Not everyone made it to cover - Wargs are fast!


In the end, I did my best to use terrain.  Once I discovered how powerful the Wargs were (they're stronger, fight better, and move faster than my Rohirrim infantry), I got as many of my guys up on the ruins as possible.  Ordinarily, this would have provided ideal protection, as cavalry can't climb, but we ruled that the wargs could on a 6 - we wanted a game after all.  I rethought my position after the wargs rolled a ridiculous number of 6es, and my poor warband was more or less gobbled up!

The recovery table for Battle Companies is, however, reasonably forgiving, and my warband emerged relatively unscathed (one character picked up an "Old Wound" that means they have a chance to miss subsequent games).  Moreover, I rolled really well on reinforcements, and managed to have a full-fledged Rider with mount join my warband.

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No harm done.  Derhelm the rider joins the Woldwatchers.


My next game was against an Easterling warband, my opponent in the first game I played.  This gang is emerging as a bit of a nemesis, in that in that original game, they wiped me out (I've been pretty lucky with recovery rolls so far).  This time, however, things were different ;)

I think this round did a fair bit to cement for me some of the distinct features of how the game works.  First, terrain matters, and you can interact with it extensively.  Cover, elevation, climbing, jumping etc.all have meaningful mechanics, and risks that prompt meaningful choices.  Second, while there's skill in the game, and there's plenty you can do to influence outcomes, said outcomes are based on a limited pool of dice, and so can't be controlled.  Unexpected things can happen, and even the strongest model is at risk.  This means that while Hero models are really powerful and influential, they're never invulnerable.

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Easterlings, about to have a bad time.


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An even cavalry fight (post spearing of the second rider) and I get to fight with numbers and cover?  Yes please!


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Dernhelm (really the Eowyn model) vs. the Easterling


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Second to last turn?  I hold the hill, and am winning the battle at the ruins.



In my game against the Easterlngs, the goal was to take the hill (which my opponents held at the start of the game).  I had, however, an advantage in missile fire, and set up in the cover of the ruin, which goaded him into attacking me, and leaving his archer to hold the hill.  A bit of luck (I killed one of his riders with a bow on the way in). and the advantage of numbers let me take out his attack, and my counter attack took the hill.  Victory to Rohan!

I got in a few more games, but the highlight of the evening was teh big 3x3 game we played, my Rohan, and a couple of Gondor / Fiefdoms (gondor light), versus Wargs, Uruks, and Easterlings.

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Rohan at bottom.


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That's a lot of bad guys . . . 


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Archers prepare.


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Just before the clash


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This is where it got ugly - the two Rohirrim on the left are about to go down under a swarm of uruks.


The game broke down into two sections, with most of my warband and a Gondorian knight trying to hold off the orcs and easterlings while my archers and the Gondorians tried to eliminate the Wargs.  The game was pretty much hanging in the balance when we called it (shop was closing), but there had been some brilliant moments, including when Tinbold, my new character (warriors can become promoted to heroes) sniped an orc leader, my left flank collapsing under the sheer ferocity of the uruk charge, and the Gondorian knight holding off a ridiculous number of easterlings and uruks for something like three turns.  We lost by one model, but I think that if the game went on, we'd have turned it around.

I've wanted to play LotR for ages, and I'm delighted both by the relaunch, and the surge of interest locally.  We had a solid turnout, and there were several other people either hovering or who have models and looked interested in joining in.  Pre-order on the new box / rules is Saturday, and I'm hoping to see more of this game in the future.