Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Gingerbread House

Well, this year's attempt at a gingerbread house went a bit awry. It collapsed once while I was making it, and I don't fancy its chances of making it to Christmas day (edit: It didn't). I feel like I have refuted the use of gingerbread and chocolate fingers as viable building materials historically, so that's something.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Dux Bellorum Test

I've had the Dux Bellorum rules for a number of years and always wanted to try them out. It was a relief to my tartan-fatigue that half way through getting my Saga warbands up together, I realised I had finished just enough to make up a full-size DB army. I have also been painting more Anglo-danes to make up a levy-heavy Anglo-saxon warband, so they had some ready opponents. The period covered by DB 367-793 is probably a bit early for my figs, but they're close enough for me.

This is nearly all my tartan army, and with three cavalry I quickly painted, gives a 30 point Pictish DB force. The basic scenario calls for 32 points, but you can also buy Leadership Points, which is the main currency of DB, so I bought an extra LP with the spare 2 pts.

1 Companion Warriors
2 Noble Warriors
3 Warriors
1 Riders
3 Skirmisher Bowmen
1 LP

My original Anglo-dane warband had a load of different coloured shields but I was never that happy with the effect so I'm repainting them all in the two-colour scheme above. I managed to get this Saxon army out of them.

1 Companion Shieldwall
2 Noble Shieldwall
5 Shieldwall
2 Skirmisher Bowmen

So this would be, what I presume is, the classic DB match-up of Warrior army versus Shieldwall army. The Saxons were nominated as the Aggressor, which means they get to go first in certain phases of the game like movement and nominating attacks and second in others, like placing LPs. The various advantages and disadvantages of this are presumably intended to cancel each other out; the aggressor gets the advantage of being able to react to LP placement.

The repeller also gets to set the terrain in this scenario, using a hill and two bits of boggy ground. The warrior types in the Pictish army have the advantage of being able to move normal speed over the bogs, which the shieldwall types do not.

The key tactical element of DB is leadership points (poker chips, here). You place them on each unit (or group) at the start of a turn. You can cash them in for a variety of bonuses as the turn progresses: ignoring shooting hits, mitigating failed movement (bravery) rolls, interrupting enemy movement, bringing bonus attack dice, ignoring melee hits, mitigating failed morale checks.

Every time you lose a unit, you lose an LP, and if you lose your companions unit, you lose them all.

Combat between two units is pretty straight forward, using an Aggression number of dice to equal your opponent's Protection score, to whittle down their Cohesion. But on our first game we played a big melee involving a number of units. This felt a bit complex: you have to nominate all the attacks and LPs for a before any are resolved, and because it's all simultaneous, you can't really play any retreats, etc, until the entire melee is resolved. For a big combat area, say five units against five, this might start to get unwieldy. But, I'm expecting this to get a bit more intuitive to keep track of after playing a few games.

Each unit needs to keep track of its Cohesion. I was placing a dice alongside each one, but this wasn't entirely satisfactory. I feel like a dice-holder incorporated into each movement tray would be a better solution.

I really like all the LP-based tactical options. I'll be playing a proper game tomorrow and will see how that goes.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Saga: Tartan Army 4

More bloomin' tartan. I went through a bit of an unproductive phase as this was getting heavy going. I'd been doing the tartan in batches, like I do most other troop types. But then discovered the way to do them much more quickly, unlike other figures, is to do one single figure from start to finish.

Monday, 2 December 2019

BIG Saga Tournament

The latest Bristol Independent Gaming Saga tournament was for historical warbands, instead of the usual AoM. Three Norman armies turned up, and there were Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Danes, and some more I can't remember, while I took my Moors.

Had another fun time, losing to Tom's Normans in the first game. Not much went wrong, but not much went right, either, and while the ending was quite close, I was always playing catch-up.

Next I played Dan's Anglo-Saxons. This might be the bloodiest game I've ever played. My archers were left unscathed (because they kept out of the way) but every other unit on the table was decimated. Special mention should go to the law of averages, as Dan failed 12 shooting saves in a row (50-50 chance of each one).

The final game was another close one and I just managed to beat Chris' Vikings. This one was remarkable for although we slogged it out right from the off, fighting for the sheep  objective in the middle of the table, not a single objective point was won. So, we declared the sheep the winner.


Saturday, 23 November 2019

Civil Disorder Trial 2

At 2pm the fifth crowd arrived. I determined their arrival point randomly, but they ended up pretty close to the town hall. The SF were pretty stretched but they still had their riot squad horses in reserve and so called on them. I had given the SF access to a bunch of soldiers, too, but they were not deemed necessary (if soldiers get defeated in melee there's a small chance they just open fire indiscriminately).

The second crowd were now riled up to the maximum level 8 and charged the main group of police.

The final group were also getting riled up, having seen the riot police turn up and the gas going off.

All in all it was getting a bit messy. At this point istm the sides were quite evenly balanced and the game was quite interesting. I had selected the sides solely on what was in my figure collection, so it was lucky it felt pretty balanced.

Players have individual figures to represent themselves as well as groups of figures to command. This guy was in overall command of the SF and he had stayed in reserve so far, directing things from a distance. Instead of ordering a cavalry charge he now decided to attempt to reason with the new crowd. I only attempted this coz I wanted to see the rules in action. Rolling poorly he actually riled up the crowd more and made the situation worse.

The second group managed to injure another police officer.

The order was given for the mounted riot police charge. This comes with a very high modifier (as you might expect) and it managed to disperse a big chunk of the crowd, and injure a few.

The main police line decided to retreat a bit and see whether this would mollify the crowd a bit. As it happens there is nothing in the system to support this once things get going. Istm once the fighting starts and the crowd are riled up, the only way to get them to calm down is to beat it into them.

So the crowd charged to police lines again, and this time they broke through. Two more police were injured and the local news got a quick interview with one of the rioters.

The ambulance bloke was having a very busy day and decided this WPC had to go straight to hospital, although she would live.

The breakthrough crowd, which had been down to a single stand of hardcore since quite early on, got charged by the final police reserve, which they withstood. 

The commander of the riot police decided to have a go at calming this section of crowd but was not successful, probably all the tear gas got in the way.

And he ordered his riot police to charge the other rioters in the rear, effectively surrounding them.

The frontline hardcore saw off the police reserve (I imagine they were in reserve coz they weren't very good).

And the mounted riot police beat their rioters so badly it dropped their RL to 3, which meant they were no longer interested in a confrontation.

The rioters in the rear didn't want to approach the massed ranks of riot police, especially through the tear gas. But as they were still RL7 they would still be up for property damage and looting. As they were in a residential area I decided that they would satisfy themselves with setting fire to a skip, instead.

These guys were surrounded and soon most of them were dispersed or arrested.

The hardcore who had been at the sharp end for the entire afternoon and withstood a lot of police confrontation finally managed to get to General Fredo's car (it was still only about 3:20 so he wasn't due out yet) and proceeded to vandalise it.

At this stage the situation around the town hall was pretty much contained and the hardcore wouldn't last much longer with all the riot police around. The rioters had made their point, wrecked the generals car, and still owned the territory further down the street. The police had kept the general safe.

I feel like this is a decent game. Some of the rules were unclear or vague, and I felt like the author was making some assumptions based on other games he played, that I couldn't make. They got a bit confusing when dealing with melee, sometimes referring to figures, and sometimes to bases. I decided to do everything by bases.

There were so many injuries so quickly, that I got a bit bored with dealing with them, so I adjusted them downwards quite early in the game. I am going to have a think about how to do this permanently. I might just ignore rioter injuries and only deal with SF ones, and make them rarer, and give them explicit victory points. This way it will give the SF some decent motivation for managing their injuries. I think I will lose the 'death' result as well, just to keep things a bit lighter.

I feel like I would like some sort of points system to show the players how well they did, or more like how badly they did, all scores for injuries, deaths, damage, etc, being in the minuses.

All in all I liked it. I will make a few adjustments for my tastes and maybe to give the players more decisions to make (there was a lot for the umpire to do compared to how many decisions the players had to make, which isn't ideal). As ever, with this sort of participation game, the fun will be had in how the players get into their roles and the spirit of the game.