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!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Nazgûl Rampant

I thought I would try and collect some thoughts on making Dragon Rampant a bit more Tolkieny with a few house rules. I've been meaning to write them down for ages, but never get around to it before the Mad Padre and I are together and smashing each other's heads in with our Middle Earth hosts.

Some House Rules

spell casters are a bit of a drag since their spells are often hard to cast so you end up trying them dead last so that their inevitable failure doesn't leave the rest of your force standing around while the guy in the robes is trying something spooky. Additionally, some of the more useful spells are only in effect until the start of your next activation phase. Consequently they don't do a lot, if anything.

I propose that the failure of a spellcasting activation roll DOES NOT end your turn. So you can try and cast Sharper Blades on your uruk hai

and then even if the spell fails you can still try to get them to charge.

Another way I like to keep magic thematic is to limit what spells my spell casters can use. Gandalf and Galadriel can Banish Fear, or Heal for example. My Nazgûl on the other hand will Prod the orcs and Befuddle or Bog the enemy.

Flanks and Rear: the lack of flanks in DR and me still liking the game is a weird. I generally dislike rules that ignore flanks. Even with the rules as written, attacking from two directions is still beneficial in DR because you are piling two attacks onto one unit. But, to encourage some tactical maneuvering, I propose:

If an attacking unit starts it's activation behind the target unit's front  rank, then the target has -1 to it's Armour.

Shooting only gets the -1 to the target armour if shooting at an unshielded flank or the rear.

So yeah, lining the troops up semi neatly and having them all pointing a certain direction is important now. Sue me. Define the "front edge" of the unit however you'd like. 

Epic Warbeasts
: for very large models, such as my old Grenadier red dragon, treat the head and body as two Greater Warbeasts. The body has flight and ponderous. The head has cunning and flame attack. They don't have to do the same things; the body can activate to move and then the head can activate to shoot (breath fire) etc. Or both head and body can activate to attack if it really wants to wade in. Naturally two enemy units can engage it, one on each part. If one part dies then the whole beast is dead. The entire model weighs in at 20 pts. and I treat it as a separate division or command in my evil army.

If one part activates successfully but the other doesn't, then we assume the dragon was being a bit

uncoordinated. Failing with the first part of the dragon stops it's activation for that turn. 

Ents, are hard to get right. Greater Warbeast doesn't feel right to me, the low defense value just seems 'off'. Plus I have 3 different sizes of Ents. My WOTC Ent is enormous. 

Ents: Lesser or Greater Warbeast (depending upon size) but add cunning and throwing rocks (shoot attack)

The Giant Ent is an Epic Warbeast, but you need to get all 12 SPs to kill it. In addition to cunning and throwing rocks, it has Summoner (bringing total cost to 19 pts) and can generate units of Huorns.

Huorns are the angry, barely sentient, malicious trees like Old Man Willow, which are kept in line and herded by the Ents. They can be summoned from any area of trees and are a unit of elite foot with no feelings (courage of 0+). Being an area of forest they are rough terrain, so anyone fighting them without the Ranger ability are at a disadvantage.

With both Ents and Huorns, attacks from spears or arrows halve any hits, rounding up. A flame attack will double any hits rolled.

 one thing I do like in Oathmark is that commanders have a command and control function. With the larger games that Mike and I play it seems to me that working commanders in would be a good idea.

Any unit within 6" of their commander gets an extra dice to roll for activation and then uses the two best. 

For +1 pt a commander can have their command range extended to 9"

For +2 pts the range can be extended to 12"

For my orcs in mixed units with spears and bows I'm thinking to let them still form wall of spears but shoot with only 6 dice, to represent the archers in the rear of the unit shooting, not the entire unit.

Otherwise the different sizes of orcs from great uruks to little snagas, can be accommodated by the rues as written.

Baradûr has noticed a lack of uruks with polearms (offensive foot) for leading attacks and this has been addressed by a recent arrival of troops from Spain.

Once they are processed through the Morannon QM Stores and finish their Advanced Bashing training  on the Plains of Gorgoroth they will be ready to deploy to the Anduin Front.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Bavarian Batteries

I've finished the artillery for my Bavarian force, which is rapidly approaching a division for General d'Armee

I have added three more guns to the artillery park. A Perry howitzer with the crew loading and two Front Rank crews firing. 

The Perry howitzer features a gunner shoving the charge into the barrel, but lining the stump of his arm up with the muzzle is problematic. I almost just based the gun and crew on a single stand to get them to line up. Or base the howitzer to raise it up to the correct level. But mid-game is anyone going to notice?

The Front Rank 6 pounder is significantly larger than the Perry model.

Perry 6 pdr on L, Front Rank 6 pdr on R

Fortunately with Front Rank you buy each figure individually, so I ordered 5 to match the crew size required in Sharp Practice. Otherwise I just ignore the first kill on a standard 4 figure gun crew.

The big 12 pounder is from Scott who had a spare gun and accidentally ordered me 2 gun crews. We'll just not look too closely at the laurel wreathed N on the breach and pretend it is King Max's Royal Cypher instead.

Notice breech detail which is very nice.

My Bavarian Army reference book says the carriages should be grey. But period paintings show them as a light blue. So I opted for a "blue grey" as a compromise with the much brighter blues I see other Bavarian artillery painted in on the internet, including the Perry catalog. Depending upon the lighting in my various photographs you can see that sometimes they look grey and sometimes blue.

Of course with 4 guns now, I should probably get a second limber. Or a caisson. Or both. Ho hum.... problems, problems. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bavarian General Wrede

For a such small batch, this latest group off the painting desk has taken a while! It's only been about 9 days, but it's seemed longer.

So the Bavarians now have a proper senior command stand of General Wrede and an ADC. Both Front Rank figures and lovely to paint. All that silver braid was astoundingly easy to pick out. To further decorate the base please note the Russian musketeer shako, a spare from Warlord.

the Aide is obviously looking around for the tea trolley

or perhaps drinks?  

I also did a group of 6 Hät light company troops. Either a group in Sharp Practice or I will use them to add light company stands to battalions in General d'Armee

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Bridge

Gratuitous beer shot. It seemed appropriate for Bavarians and I felt like a beer (which is rare), so took this to appeal to my beer loving friends.

I felt inspired to properly "Wet the head" of my new Schützen this past weekend and set up a solo game of Sharp Practice. I also wanted to get my big river and stone mill out, which I haven't played with in some time, thinking it and the bridge might make a good objective to fight over. Each side was 80 points.

Table set up. Deployment points have been rolled for. Both sides are coming on exactly opposite to each other.

Bavarians. 6 groups in 3 Formations

Russians. 9 groups in 3 Formations

Somewhere in Saxony, Spring 1813

Hans ran his hand gently over the seed heads as they filed through the field. It was a good crop, almost ready to harvest. The kind of field Pappa would be proud of.

"Hans!" hissed Franz. "Quit day dreaming and catch up or Die Harfner will have you!"

Hans hustled to catch up, his gear clanking. At least they weren't trampling too much grain as they passed through. A battery of 12 pounders would make a real mess of the field. "Krieg ist scheiss" he mumbled to no one, and wished not for the first time, that he was back home.

Grenadiers arrive to support Scharf

Hauptmann Scharf was leading his company of green jacketed Schützen towards a good stone bridge overlooked by a big stone mill. Maybe, thought Hans, there would be some food or  perhaps beer in the mill. Millers always had a good larder, prospering from grinding the surrounding farms harvests. Daydreaming of sausages, he strove to catch up. "Do you think there'll be sausages, Franz?" "Weiss nicht" came Franz's weary reply. "I do know that the Russians will eat them all if we don't get there first."

"Feldwebel Harfner! Take half the men into the mill and cover the approaches to the bridge." Hauptmann Scharf ordered. "The rest of you" he said indicating Hans' half of the company "follow me!" Hans' heart sank as they scurried to the end of the bridge at trail arms. 

Russian Jaegers advancing

Opening shots

They took cover around the walls of the bridge and cocked their rifles. Scharf pointed out some green trousered Russian Jaegers advancing in a column through the village towards them. "Get those bastards! Fire!" he roared. They took careful aim and began firing, working in pairs. One aiming and firing while the other reloaded and watched the flanks. A couple of Russians sprawled in the dust and the rest of them dashed into a cottage to take up positions inside and in the garden. Hans and Franz began trading shots with their enemy counterparts, musket balls smacking into the stone wall covering them. A green jacketed Schützen spun backwards into the dirt as a Russian musket ball found it's mark. Hans pulled him behind the wall and pressed a dirty handkerchief to the wound.

Huber, the trumpeter, who clung to Scharf like shadow, blew a call. "Cease fire! Reload! Ready!" Scharf bellowed. With his sword he pointed out a bigger column of Russian Grenadiers marching up the road, tall plumes waving, and flags snapping as they hurried towards the thin line of Schützen.

Russian Grenadiers advance into a murderous crossfire

The lead groups recoil from the fisticuffs, broken with excess shock and spreading confusion as they run from the Schützen's deadly fire.

Hans heard shots from his right and saw musket smoke coming from the mill. Feldwebel Harfner had his half of the company firing into the flank of the Russian column. He felt his guts go cold as he sighted along his rifle, aiming at the cross belts of a big ugly looking Russian who he knew wanted to skewer him with his bayonet.

"Fire!" Scharf roared and their rifles barked. "Tap reload! Fire!" Trading range for speed they reloaded their rifles by banging the butts on the road and dispensed with the niceties of the ram rod. It wasn't good for the rifles, but when speed was required it was better than being dead and the Russians were close enough that the range didn't matter anymore. The Russian grenadiers kept coming, stepping over bodies.

"Hold them lads!" Scharf bellowed and aimed a heavy blow with his sword at a Russian sergeant. Soon the end of the bridge was a chaos of parried thrusts, spurting blood and groaning men. Shouting with fear and rage, Hans deflected a bayonet aimed at Franz, swung it up and stuck the tip of his sword bayonet into the Russian's throat. A big bear of a Russian, mustaches flaring, drove another rifleman back and pinned him to the ground with his bayonet. Hans was trying to get his bayonet out of his victim as the big Russian turned his bloodied weapon on him. Franz leveled his rifle and shot the man in the side of the head from two feet. "Can't miss a shot like that" he observed. 

The Russians were wavering and falling back in disorder. "Get them lads! Keep shooting!" Rifle fire from both groups of Schützen added to the chaos on the bridge and the lead elements of the Russian column broke and ran, taking the rear of the column with them and causing chaos in a column of musketeers even now marching up the road.

As their firing died away Hans heard marching feet and barked commands behind him. Turning he saw a company of their own grenadiers form up in a neat line. 

The Grenadiers take up position on the bridge

"Present!" the Grenadier Lieutenant called out and a line of muskets were leveled. 

"Right lads" Scharf called. "Everyone to the mill by files. Move!" Leaving the end of the bridge to be held by the Grenadiers they dragged their wounded over to join their comrades sheltering in and around the big stone mill. 

As soon as they were clear the Grenadier Lieutenant yelled "Fire!" sending a volley crashing across the bridge to finish the rout of the confused mass of Russians. The overwhelming shock spread and multiplied as the groups of Russian infantry recoiled through each other.

Feldwebel Harfner was guarding a barrel of beer by sitting on it while he directed the firing. "All those Russians, I thought you were done for sure, sir" he said as Hauptmann Scharf walked up. "Bastards haven't killed us yet, Dominic, you know that" said the Hauptmann, wiping blood off his sword. "Aye they tried their best last year, didn't they?" He made sure everyone got a drink and then positioned them along the river bank.

Some skirmishers moved into the building opposite them but didn't do much except for some desultory sniping. Hans was able to watch the grenadiers firing volleys into the cottage containing the Jaegers. More green coated troops from their light battalion to the left of the grenadiers added their musketry to the firefight. A lot of smoke billowed over the river but the sound from either side didn't seem to diminish. 

Grenadiers and Lights trading long range musketry with Jaegers in the cottage 

Then another column of Russian infantry appeared, an officer at their head, waving his bicorne on the end of his sword. "Urrrrah!" they shouted. Hans' blood went cold remembering that cry as Cossacks swept in for the kill over frozen fields.

Scharf went along the firing line directing their rifles, pointing out targets with his sword. "Kill those bastards!" he shouted. They aimed into the green column surging over the bridge, firing again and again. Hans watched as coolly as if on a parade square the Grenadier Lieutenant ordered his command. "Load! Present!" a pause as muskets leveled, aiming at the column advancing on them, ignoring the sniping form the Jaegers. The Grenadier lieutenant watched, timing his volley, the breeze rippling the red plume on his helmet. 

"Fire!" he bellowed as if by his voice alone he could shout the Russians off the bridge. The muskets crashed out. The Russian officer at their head spun and fell, his bicorne flying away. The Russians had had enough. Hans heard shouts and they began backing away, then as a few more fell from the schutzen rifles, turning and running away. Soon after he saw the Jaegers that they had first engaged leaving he cottage and retiring through the village.

As Huber gave the 'Cease fire' on his horn Hans heard the Hauptmann call out "Feldwebel, is there any bread to go with that beer? I'm starving and I'm sure everyone else is."

"Don't you worry Mein Herr, the Frau Miller is making some good sausage and cabbage soup for us already!"

Hans nudged Franz. "Hear that? Sausage and cabbage soup! That's more like it."

Franz was busy cleaning his barrel out. "Yes, yes it is." 

Scharf's Schutzen had a pretty good first outing. They were able to use some hands of Command Cards to get to the bridge first and get a few critical extra rounds of firing in on the Grenadiers. I was shocked when they held the Grenadiers in a round of fisticuffs, winning by a narrow 1 kill, but all the shock put on the Russians counted heavily against them and I felt it overruled the 'Stubborn' trait that I had given them. The Russian Grenadiers had also been hampered by their officer being knocked aside and left behind with a Random Event while marching through the village. I shouldn't have pushed them forward on Command Cards after the Tiffin. But I had thought that they could push the Schutzen side easily and then deploy to meet the Bavarian Grenadiers. In hindsight, the lack of subordinate Big Men also greatly hampered the Russian Formations. Having a level 1 around to take shock off is very helpful. The Musketeers lost an entire Group just from the shock it picked up being interpenetrated by fleeing Grenadiers!

Once again I have proven to myself that advantage in numbers is negated by attacking on a narrow front without adequate supporting fires. I should have waited for both infantry formations to come up and then tried fording one group through the river to broaden the frontage of the attack.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Scharf's Schützen Part 2


I enjoyed painting the Front Rank schützen so much, I had to get more. So I ordered 6 more riflemen, an officer, a musician and a Jaeger marching to act as an NCO. 

Now Scharf's Schützen are a 2 group Formation with solid leadership. I played about with the "Sharpulator" last night and these guys are going to run in at 40 points. Equal to 8 groups of basic line infantry!

So here are the characters. 

Hauptmann Ricard Scharf, hard drinking, cunning light troops Leader (Level 3). He's a  ruggedly handsome fellow with an impressive weapon naturally. I decided to add a spare Hät plastic plume to his helmet. My references are indeterminate as to whether a Schützen officer would have a plume or not, so the Rule of Cool decided. 

Note rank marking on collar!

Feldwebel Dominic Harfner (level 2). Solid, dependable, good in a fight. He keeps the lads in line and looks after everyone with a smack from his Sergeant's cane or a gentle word depending on the circumstances. Unfortunately the model is carrying his rifle in his left hand. The cane which was the NCO's badge of office, would be hanging from a button on the left of his tunic. 

Musician Matthias Huber. I saw a recommendation from someone I respect that spending a point on a Musician is  real Force Multiplier by doubling the command radius of the force commander. So I'll give it a shot.  Plus he looks super cool with the hunting horn and sleeve braid.

The schützen. While painting them, I took the opportunity to fix an error on the first group.

All together and ready to take the fight to the enemy!