Have a rummage...

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Blog quondam, Blogque futurus



...and in its time of greatest need, it would return...

This blog is back- hopefully- and what better way than with the start of some practice games for Dux Britanniarum by TooFatLardies?

This was to be a bit of a learning-the-rules session.  We decided to go for a battle scenario and fielded an ungodly number of groups in the hope that there'd be carnage amidst the stopping and explaining of the rules to our four players.
Anyway, on the with prologue.  The scene for our Dark Age attack ws a suitably mist-shrouded valley.  To the north, there was a gentle rise of land topped with an ancient stone circle, in  which some mystical chap in a cloak was mumbling to himself.  To the south-east, a reasonably dense forest (or part thereof).  Strewn across the battlefield were a number of tilled plots of land, that would prove to be remarkably difficult going in the end. 

Streaming in from the north-west came our heroes (to my mind anyway) whilst their vile foe came as a rabble from the east.  With entrails about to be spilled and breeches to soon be filled with fear, the respective leaders of each side decided to do what they could to lift and stiffen the spirits of their troops...
"Look, I know there's going to be a certain amount of violence, but at least we all know it's for a good cause- don't we?"
Surprisingly, these somewhat diffident words had some affect on our hero's humble troops, raising their morale [+1 Force Morale] and certainly inflating his own sense of self worth [Lord's status raised from 3 to 4]  Sadly attempts to invoke the power of the Almighty fell on deaf ears, and the ecclesiastical sherry served alongside wasn't really what his troops wanted in a pre-punch-up pint.  What of the foe? 
Right lads, let's get ratted!

No messing about for the foe- after a swift half (or half a dozen), they decided it was time to close with the enemy.  Battle was to commence...

...just very slowly....

Suffice to say, there was much general manouevring on both sides, and for once the missile troops on both sides actually got a good chance to soften up their opponents.  Movement rolls suggested that the majority of troops on both sides were having second thoughts about haring into battle, and our hero's forces discovered that a shieldwall is great for survivability, but at the expense of mobility.

However, this did give time for both sides- particularly our hero's- to race through the Fate deck, buying cards like there was no tomorrow (which would be the case if they lost).  Ah-ha!  They've realised that all cards are equal, but some are more equal than others, to misquote the word of God.

 In  the end, there were two significant clashes.  To the south, a formation of two our our hero's Warrior groups had been stiffened with the presence of their sole Elite group.  Enough was enough, they thought, and with our hero and his champion to the fore, they hurled themselves at their dastardly foes.  This cunningly saw them use two of their Fate cards, boosting their formation's number of combat dice from 18 to a mighty 30!  Alas for their foes, they had no Suitless cards to boost their own abilities, and rolled a 'mere' 18.  Suffice to say, these mere dice were not enough to stop the foul enemy Elite group from routing in short order.  To add insult to injury to the enemy, the group that the enemy Elite fled through decided that now might be the time for a tactical withdrawal.  An inviting foot-wide gap now began to appear in the enemy line!

To the north, our hero's forces had skirted the bottom of the gentle rise as they hurried to meet the enemy (incidentally contacting the enemy's sole group of harrassing troops, forcing them to be flee the field of battle).  This time it was the enemy who had the initiative, hurling their spears with strong arms and then aggressively charging into the troops before them.  Our hero's Warriors held their own, but out on the far flank, the humble Levy crumbled in the face of the determined enemy charge.

"Whaddya mean, call it a draw?"
At this point, time meant we had to come to a close.  There'd been lots of explaining of rules and choices to the new players, and consistently low movement rolls had delayed the expect clash of arms, but encouragingly during the post-game drinks, there was a strong desire to have another game next week, to try out a more conventional scenario.

I spies me a Church raid....

Brother Pistus carefully picked his way along the trail to St. Ogg's, his mind elsewhere.  It had been some time since he'd heard from his cousin, Brother Noote of St Nimmo's.  He hoped nothing had happened to him.  Before Pistus could consider Noote's fate further, he became aware of a number of gentlemen bursting out the undergrowth, rushing towards St. Ogg's and waving speasr and axes.

Not again, thought Pistus...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Club Sunday/Happy 2nd Blogday...

So, only a small turnout at today's Club Sunday, but as has been the case in the past, this does not necessarily mean any less enjoyable.

Firstly the morning saw one of the club's newest members take their first step into joining the current Darkest Africa campaign.  Mr. B. was quite keen on fielding a force based around the Portuguese in Mozambique, who were long established on the coast long before the 'Scramble' began, so soon a force of Chikunda slave soldiers, supported by some askaris and musketeers hove into view, under their Organising Genius of a leader (represented by a motley crew of substitute figures in the absence of Mr. B's yet-to-be-purchased own forces).  Step two was an encounter battle, so that both Mr B. and one of our club juniors (fielding my erstwhile Zanzibaris) could get to grips with the actual rules.Both sides elected to place a unit in ambush, and Mr. B also held back his musketeers as reserves to arrive later in the game.  Both sides advanced with reasonable enthusiasm towards each other across the savannah, scouting like crazy.  When the two scouts met, however, violence ensued leaving the Portuguese scout worse for wear due to a sword to the belly.  The Zanzibari scout went on to briefly harrass the Portuguese baggage with little effect later in the game, making a sharp withdrawal when the musket-armed reserve arrived nearby.  Elsewhere, there was a real meatgrinder of a fight between one of the Chikunda units and some Baluchi swordsmen.  True to form, the swordsmen stood their ground, but were eventually overcome by the Chikunda's weight of numbers.  Unfortunately for Mr. B., some jammy Zanzibari wangwana shooting forced the other Chikunda to take two morale tests, only to see them roll snake eyes and flee from the field of battle; they were soon followed by a nearby unit of Portuguese askari.  It was at this point Mr. B. graciously conceded free passage to the aggressive Zanzibari caravan! 

On returning from lunch, we then had two playtests of Doc Neodynium's proposed sci-fi participation game for Overlord 2013, which currently has the working title of "Overlord 2144:  Rush To Victory" (it's a long story).  Again, not wanting to spill too many details, I shall simply observe that the 45 minutes players have is a tight but not impossible time in which to achieve their objective.  With the Doc's adaptation of the 7TV rules for this working nice and smoothly, I'm looking forward to seeing the chrome...

To leaven the playtesting, we'd left the savannah from the morning's gaming out, and in between played a few games of what we've re-titled 'The Lion Eats Tonight', based on some rules originally found in an old issue of Wargames lllustrated (now I think of it, that may well have been the original title).  Essentially, it's a fast little game of big-game hunting, driven by a pair of ordinary playing card decks.  Fast, fun and a nice change of pace, although I'm not sure that Queen Victoria being done in by a lion would have gone down well with HMG.  

Finally, this blog has just about managed to limp to its second birthday today.  Ice cream, jelly and cake all round.  If you've followed this blog, or popped by at any point to take a gander, thank-you very much!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Dux Britanniarum: You've got mail

<Scene:  A back garden, about a month ago...>

So, nice weather this week meant being able to crack on with prepping the Dux Britanniarum starter armies that have been acquired.  Once again, an inability to focus strikes, as the miniatures from earlier in the week are flung aside in favour of newer shiny things. 

Firstly, the Gripping Beast figures are a joy to behold, particularly when undercoating meant a lot more detail 'popped' out than these aged eyes had been able to make out previously. 

Not quite sure why, but the decision was taken to paint all the metal bits on the miniatures first.  Being used to miniatures from more modern eras, it was a joy to be able to generously slap on various metallic paints with abandon, rather than with the usual levels of discretion exercised with moderns.  So much chain mail.  So many helms.  So many sharp stabbing swords and so forth.  After twenty-four hours of drying, the various bits of sword, chain and helmets got a coat of magic wash to seal in that metallic goodness and to offer a bit of shading.  

Thus far, the paint job looks fairly respectable, but that's bound to go south once a start is made on the clothing and skin tones...  

<Scene: A spare room/office/study.paint desk, now>

Crikey.  All my Romano-British are painted up and armed, with a basic texture base applied.  They're tabletop ready and in record time by my standards.  I've surprised myself.

Having seen the various discussions on the TFL Yahoo group, as well as the examples of others' forces, in the end I've given the Elites a uniform paint scheme, the Warriors uniform tunics only and the Levy a random mix of hopefully suitable colours.  At first the homebrewed wash/dip I used on the non-metallic parts made the miniatures somewhat muddy but the look has grown on me, and let's face it, there's bound to be a certain degree of mud in Dux.

Romano-British defend a tiny monastery; Elite troops to the left, young skirmishers to the right.

A blurry picture of the skirmishers.

Not-Arthur checks behind the monastery with a couple of spear-armed comrades.
I really should get a better camera.  The one I have just isn't up to the job of snapping minis, and it's a shame; the Gripping Beast minis have some lovely detail, as noted in the start of this post and the Arthur freebie that came with Dux Britanniarum is indeed a joy to behold, even with my painting.

Buildings and fences are by PMC, and were had for a steal from eBay.  Furthermore, when I opened the package to find one building had been smashed in transit despite the excellent packaging, PMC got a replacement to me within three days.  Top job.  As stated in an earlier post, you don't require many buildings for Dux; in fact, there's just a watch tower left on my wishlist, which may come into play at Warfare.  

Now to crack on with the Saxons.  Let's see if I can get them finished by December 31st, in time for some January Dux.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Darkest Africa 12: Second time coincidence...?

On the sixth day of the month of Muharram (one of the four sacred months), 1282*, my master was visited by a thousand blessings in the form of a second victory!  

Once again, the Ruga-Ruga attempted to ambush my master as her traversed Zanj, and once again, my master was victorious (although at the cost of many swordsmen!).  This time, One-Eyed Abdullahi and Qurd were forced to scout both flanks, although the vegetation was not as dense in this region, meaning the progress of our caravan was much more rapid.  By a stroke of luck, One-Eyed Abdullahi chanced upon the Ruga-Ruga leader isolated and some distance from his force, and enagaged him in combat.  He achieved first blood, but sadly was wounded by the Ruga-Ruga's ferocious attack. 

Once again, our swordsmen bore the brunt of the enemy ambush, selling their lives dearly until almost half their numbers had fallen.  Such was the ferocity of their initial attacks that one group of Ruga-Ruga simply fled.  Elsewhere, the Ruga-Ruga's warrior allies put up a greater resistance, but- uncommonly for us- weight of numbers was on our side.  Having pacified the left flank, attention was turned to the right.  There seemed litle profit in pursuing the fleeing Ruga-Ruga, so instead our caravan advanced unassailed, recovering One-Eyed Abdullahi and Qurd as we progressed.

However, we fear that the Ruga-Ruga may now be wise to our tactics.  Their ambushes are increasingly aggressive, and they seem to have noted the unwieldy nature of our force...

Word has also reached us that for sometime, Baker has been resident in Khartoum.

*Late 1865

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Colours 2012: A Brace Of Show Days

So, Colours 20112.  Once again, I duck out of commenting on the show in detail, as I didn't really see it despite being there on both days.  I'm not quite sure how this happened, and console myself with the fact that this meant my show expenditure was precisely £0.00.  

To be precise,  Saturday saw us arrive, set-up and immediately stuck into the first of three Charlie Don't Surf games.  Our players soon got into the spirit of the setting, and picked the rules up quickly.  The youngest player was about 8 or 9 years, and he managed to maintain his concetration for an hour, before hunger/thirst got the better of him.  To the best of my recollection, everyone who played was new to Too fat Lardies rules, with the exception of Ashley, one of the many correspondents on the Too Fat Lardies Yahoo group.  Once again, it was fantastic to meet and put a face to another member of the Yahoo group, who seemed to have a pretty good time playing Charlie for the first time; getting the only total US victory of the weekend may well have helped, alongside the US players humming Ride Of The Valkyries every time a 'copter-related chip was played (once again, Ashley, I apologise for the lack of AFVs in the game)!

Having ensured all the toys were secure and safe for the night, I sashayed off for an an excellent T-bone steak, washed down with a rather nifty Rioja.  This ensured that even if I didn't sleep the sleep of the just, I would at least sleep the sleep of those with access to expensive lawyers.

Sunday saw two games, in which players went the whole nine yards (ie played right through to an absolute conclusion).  Game one saw pretty much every possible event occur- ammo shortages, CASEVAC, booby-traps, snipers, the works- as well as learning what happens when a gunship unloads all of its amoo in one fell swoop.  Game two saw some unexpected and hilarious friction occur between Company Commander Dad and his Platoon Commander sons; Dad had his eye on the mission objective, but the Sons were more concerned with protecting their men- 

"You realise you'll be court-martialled if you don't order your men to enter the hooch?"

"I don't care; I'm not leaving my other squad in front of that MG bunker in the open!"

Ah, the parent-child dynamic.

I do have some memories of what was going on around us, though.  There was a mighty (and impressive) zombie-infested city to our right, and back and to the left* was a corking A Very British Civil War game, in which Canadian-supported Albertine forces were having a crack at the BUF (I think they also won a show prize, and rightly so).  Food for thought, as AWC are considering AVBCW as a future club campaign.  

**Though not on a grassy knoll.

Friday, 7 September 2012

One-two, one-two....

So, tonight saw the second play-through, and it looks like we've got a solid little historical participation game on our hands for Overlord 2013.  

I've now played two games using Rules of Engagement rules, and I do quite like them.  I'm not sure I'd go out and buy them per se, but what I particularly enjoyed was that they seemed to be pretty realistic, and encouraged a bit of tactical thought amogst us playtesters.  Having said that, I was also unbelievably lucky when my opponent rolled a very poor set of dice- his concealed HMG opened up on my rifle group as they ran across open ground trying to reach cover, and caused a total of zero wounds and zero hits.  I was also trying to be a darn sight more aggressive/bold than when I normally play, so whilst I had achieved my section's objectives at the game end, my chaps were at half-strength.

Players are definitely going to need to take heed to of their briefing's explicit emphasis on being bold and cooperating/supporting each other; I don't want to give much away, but it's certainly wise to rely on long-distance potshots, but equally those advancing without support will find things get a bit sticky.

Testing'll be on hold for a while, as a couple of the team are away; I have to say, I'm looking forward to resuming testing on their return.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Testing, Testing...

No Darkest Africa this week; instead, work has begun on a historical scenario to be run at Overlord 2013 (15! Glorious! Years!).  The rules are going to be Rules of Engagament (albeit modified) as the majority of those involved in the planning/execution of this are familiar with them.  It'll be my first exposure to them, so it'll be interesting to see what they're like.

Tonight's focus- what historical action shall be recreated, and does it meet the criteria set by the committee for AWC's 2013 show participation game....?
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