In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Terrain From Friends

Some nice random gifts of terrain from friends recently.

Don in sunny Las Vegas has been getting into 3D printing and sent me a box of trials. There are some misprints and a few pieces don't go together quite as intended, but free is nice. I've been waiting to get my recent game picked up so I could unpack the very big box and have a good fondle. 

Some of the stl files that he is using have incredible detail. I could do with a nice Boulangerie. 

Some resin bits he's decided are surplus to need got included too. Bridges and more entrenchments are always useful. The simple log bridges will look good anywhere, especially, I'm thinking Russia. 

Three identical resin houses. I'm thinking with the addition of thatch to the rooftops, they might look good on the Russian Front. I need more Russian Front terrain. 

Another random gift was this nifty little marsh that Pasha Dan knocked up. I've been letting the water effects resin cure for a week before painting the reeds and flocking the edge. But a marsh has been on my to-do list for 30 years or so! Note 28mm figure. 

Final note,  I played in another remote game of What A Tanker on Friday night. I was victorious despite technical problems. Forced one PzIV to bail and then ran over the crew so they couldn't get off table and come back. Then got the kill shot on the last PzIV to win the game. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Valley of Bitter Victory

I wanted to give Oathmark another try and get my Middle Earth on with elves doing something epic. I drew up 3000 point armies for each side. Evil got a Dragon (700 points!) and I made the Nazgûl a level 5 spellcaster, but I gave him some orc and goblin spells because they seemed more in line with the books. The Nazgul causing dread with Poison Cloud, Lifebane, Fear, Weakness or Afflict. The Elf spellcaster, was only level 4, but she got a magic ring that gave her an extra spell, which she used to cast Earthlines, giving her an extra spell casting die, effectively making her a budget level 5. Her other spells were Trueflight (shooting), Dispel, Confound and Mystic Shield. 

The elves contained a lot of archers, even drafting in my old Ral Partha archers for a big 18 figure unit, which naturally performed quite well. Although the smaller 12 figure units did alright too. My 6 figure unit of super elite Elf cavalry could dish out a lot of hurt, but it was also very fragile. Of course the game, played out over a week, was cursed with many duff rolls. Orcs need a 10 to hit the elf cavalry? They roll 2 of them. Dragon breathes fire on elf shield wall, nothing but smoke.Nazgul gets ready to cast a  spell, fails his activation. Dragon runs away after being peppered by arrows? Orcs just shrug and keep advancing.
Army of Evil. Lots of Orcs and Goblins

Elves. All bright and shiny, except for the sneaky ones in camoflage cloks.

Early moves

Ragged Evil advance

Pathfinders sieze key hill. Which was a mistake. Should have put these guys in woods below hill to fight trolls and goblins, and put that big 18 figure unit of archers up here to shoot at everybody.

Elf shieldwall, who spent a lot of time standing around waiting for the orcs

Elves start shooting at the Big Damn Dragon. It's Enormous, so the hill doesn't block Line of Sight to it.

Elf archers trying to secure flank, but have to deal with goblins and some trolls first.

Looks scary, but rolled badly. Or rolled well, if you're an elf.

"Somebody shoot that creepy guy on the horse!" Which they promptly do, killing him dead, but destroyed units don't cause any morale check, which seems odd.

This charge should have gone better. What's the point of having 2 combat dice per figure if you can only ever roll 5?

Trying something stupid. Even with a magic sword a heroic figure can't do much vs.Defense 14, and then it hits back with 5 dice and Fight 8! But the Dragon has accumulated 8 wounds and routs off table. Causing NO panic among the surrounding Orcs or Men.

Game end: the Elves held after their King died. Cavalry have attacked flank of main orc thrust, destroying or mauling three orc units.

Game End: other flank. Elves have cleared the woods of goblins and will now wheel to flank the Men and Orcs across the river.

Staged but inspirational picture, in case you're viewing this on a phone and don't see my header pic.

So some more thoughts:
  • this was a pretty big game, with pretty complex terrain. Hard to make those tidy ranks. But if a game can't handle realistic terrain then it's losing my interest.
  • some of the spells like Trueflight, must be intended to only last a turn, but it doesn't say so, whereas duration is specified with many other spells.
  • lack of a short range shooting bonus bothers me.
  • lack of javelins also bothers me.
  • by letter of the rule, only units that break and run cause panic tests. A unit wiped out has no effect on it's neighbours. This will need a house rule I think.
  • there should be some kind of Army Morale. Loss of key units (like your Dragon and your level 5 spellcaster!) should cause negative modifiers to Panic Tests.
  • Champions can't be very heroic, they are very much lost in the press. Turin wouldn't be able to kill Glaurung with these rules. I guess my Elf King, like the Dwarf king Azaghal, wounded the dragon enough to make him flee. Saving the day but dieing in the process.
  • Champions also lose their higher Fight value if they fight as part of a unit. It would be more complex math but giving the Champion dice a better target value would make the extra points more worthwhile. 
  • Rough terrain does not seem to effect charge or rank bonus. I really think it should. The Defensive works modifier seems too low to me.
The game was fun, but because I was playing solo I could fudge things. It might have been testing a live opponent's patience.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Discordant What a Tanker

I got invited to join in an trial remote game with friends in Chatham and Windsor (2 and 3 hours respectively distant from me). What a Tanker was selected as being fairly straight forward as a game for the experiment.

The host used a four camera security set up; two giving over views from each end of the table, one of a white board with our status and a fourth roving camera for point of view shots. We had to view these with the iSmKit media viewer app.

Status board. Big numbers are the action dice you have.

Overview from my end

Our host Frank moving around to move people.

That's me as viewed from Keith's PzIV
I tried to get a screen shot of the 4 in 1 view of all 4 cameras, but it didn't take for some reason. We were having frequent issues with different cameras going down and then coming back. Sometimes it was a different camera for different people.

For interaction and communication we all had to log into the Discord app.

Discord wanted to keep freezing on me and we lost one player for a bit. The black square beside me was Keith who had microphone but no camera.

We were all using one device to view the table (for me my low end ELite Samsung tablet) and a second for communication (my low end Samsung phone propped on top of Mrs. Rabbitman's InstaPot so that people weren't staring up my nose). 

End of game. Everything moved down to one corner.

Went ok despite technical issues. I'm pretty sure I was having some compatibility issues as well with my Android device trying to run an Apple app. Things weren't seemless. I kept getting lag, but with each of us on multiple devices and getting video from 4 cameras we were probably hogging all the bandwidths. 

So successful trial. Brian is looking at how to do something similar with his 6mm stuff.

I'd play again for sure. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

1 Scenario, 2 Sets of Rules

I set up a solo Middle Earth game at the end of June to give my new Rohirrim and my new magnetic bases a spin. The scenario: a village in the East March is under attack from a strong raiding force that has crossed the Anduin. The local Eorl rides to the rescue. I played it with Dragon Rampant using the "Sausages and Mustard" scenario from Lion Rampant. Victory points would be allocated to the orcs for each cottage looted and burned, and VPs to the Rohirrim for each cottage left standing. 25% of the Rohirrim got to start in the village as defenders, while the rest had to activate to march onto the table from the far corner. The orcs started with their whole force on table.
To Arms! Villagers defend the hedge.

Defenders. One unit of light foot with javelins and 2 units of scouts

Orcs advancing

I gave the orc archers +1 to armour for being in the standing grain. Villagers got +1 armour for the hedge too. Orcs and goblins are keeping out of javelin range and peppering the village with arrows.

The first of some bad Courage tests

"Forth Eorl.... oh never mind." Making the Riders Elite made them very hard to activate, and they got left behind. Which isn't very dashing at all.

Rohan foot secure flank. They form a shieldwall and drive back the orcs

The orcs at the top are getting pelted with javelins fromt he shieldwall and enfiladed by archers behind the hedge! They don't stick around long.

The game ended with a pretty easy victory for Rohan, making me think that maybe I should have given the orcs more troops to compensate for the armour bonus the villagers got from the hedge. I also decided that making the Rohirrim cavalry and the Eorl all Elite Riders, with a move activation of 7+, made them very hard to get going. I fought the entire battle with my foot as the cavalry and the Big Damn Hero all lagged far behind.

I then decided to refight the game using Oathmark. After sorting the army lists, I determined that the orcs needed two units of trolls to even up the points. I started it last Sunday, playing a few turns, but then there they sat all week and long weekend, waiting for me. One advantage to playing solo during a global pandemic is that no one is wanting to come set up a game. I had booked this Monday off as a holiday, so after a hot shower to clear my sinus headache I decended to the Basement o' Rabbits with a mug of tea to play out the game.

Orcs and Goblins put more pressure on the defenses. I like how the Disordered markers ride along on the movement tray.

Goblins get over the hedge and there is sword work in the gardens! Untidy ranks, everything is a jumble, but I knew how the units were supposed to be when calculating target numbers for combat dice.

"Forth Eorlingas!" The Eorl used his Command ability to order a series of devastating concentrated cavalry charges. With 2 combat dice per figure the Riders had a lot going for them, rolling the full 5 dice with only a frontage of three figures, plus the Eorl's champion dice and +1 sword, which meant in one combat he killed 4 orcs plus the kills inflicted by the others. The other unit in the back is crashing into the flank of the trolls. They rolled well, causing the 6 hits needed to kill both trolls.

Fighting in village is tense!

Trolls are at the gates! Archers lose 3 of their number and fall back, but it's too late for Mordor.

Smash! Riders deliver a third charge into disordered orcs, having already wiped out one unit of trolls. The orcs and goblins are destroyed like summer grass in a fire.

The Oathmark game was much more tense and dramatic, playing out the way I had hoped. I like the activation and the Command ability for leaders in Oathmark, but I suppose one could just remove the rule in Dragon Rampant that a failed activation ends your turn. The way champions work in Oathmark is nice too. They are part of units, but using a different coloured die means you can see what the champion is adding to the fight. The trolls were scary but not overpowering. Hitting them in the flank with heavy cavalry was devastating, but they still had 3 combat dice in defense and killed a rider. 

So I think I'm coming around to Oathmark, at least for solo play. I kept my orcs and goblins in 3 ranks of 4 with spearmen in front and archers behind. So units had fewer shooting dice and slightly higher target numbers than if I had maximised the full multiple ranks of 5 in homogenous units as set out in the rules. But the Rohirrim also weren't maximised. The Riders only had 3 or 4 figure frontages. But with a Fight 3 and Charge 3 versus Defense 8 or 9 they didn't really need any rank bonuses.

I will continue my experiments with the Elves next and see how elite 6 figure units do against the 12 figure mobs of orcs.