Monthly Archives: January 2014

Field of Glory Ancients (25/01/14 – David over Facetime)

Elephants investigate the IPad

Elephants investigate the IPad

Time for another experiment – a “real” war game over Facetime – 2 hours actually playing allowed us 2 full turns, so I finished off the game off solo based on instructions from the Roman General before he hung up. The Roman deployment occupied the area around my left flank marsh with skirmishers, light cavalry and 1 unit of heavy cavalry – they were backed up with a legion of 2 units Hastatii/Principes and 1 of Triarii. I matched this with 2 units of light cavalry, one of heavy cavalry and slingers/Caetari, holding the Scutari behind them in reserve, thinking it would take the Legion a while to skirt the marsh.

I put my 2 units of Veteran Libyan Spears interspersed with Elephants in the centre and at the end of the line was a Gallic warband. This was faced by 2 legions with Italian allies facing my warband. Beyond the rough group on the flank we both placed our remaining unit of cavalry with a commander, though mine was Gallic armoured superior against Roman average, so it should be a walkover 🙂

Caetari about to break

Caetari about to break

The Roman had the first move, so charged on the marsh flank – light cavalry into light cavalry and 2 units of Velites into my Caetari. I fared better in the light cavalry melee, but my Caetari lost badly, and had broken by turn 2, forcing me to insert the Scutari into the gap – unfortunately this gap already contained the legion, so the Velites were able to evade back through them when the Scutari charged them.

Caetari break

Caetari break

I had managed to block my heavy cavalry off with my 2nd light cavalry unit (doh!) so had to get them out of the way before I could move up the heavies. My slingers had been disrupted by Roman javelin shooting then charged on turn 2, but managed to hang on in the impact phase against the short spear bonus, then were stuck in a melee in the marsh for the remainder of the game, despite the Roman Velites being fragmented.

On my other flank, I confidently charged my Gallic heavy cavalry into the inferior Roman cavalry, but got a shock – the Romans not only won the impact phase, but killed my commander – a morale roll of 4 on 2 dice took the Gauls to disrupted right away, and a loss in the melee phase saw them broken and fleeing gleefully pursued by the “inferior” Romans.

Death of the Gallic cavalry general

Death of the Gallic cavalry general

Gallic cavalry break

Gallic cavalry break

With the battle lines still to clash, the Roman general was called away to lunch. In the next turn, the action around the marsh turned in my favour, with my heavy cavalry breaking the Roman heavy cavalry, getting the kill roll and then staying in contact in pursuit to auto break them.

Cavalry melee

Cavalry melee

My Numidians who had been engaged since the start of the game finally got lucky and broke the Roman light cavalry, losing them in pursuit but with no-one to rally them, the Roman cavalry soon routed off the table.

Numidians break their opponents

Numidians break their opponents

Warband poised to charge

Warband poised to charge

Roman general steadies the line

Roman general steadies the line

Legion flanks the Libyans

Legion flanks the Libyans

Now came the crucial turn for Carthage – I charged all along the line, except for the veteran spears nearest the marsh who were worried about the line being flanked by the left-most legion.

Battle lines clash

Battle lines clash

It didn’t start well – Hannibal led the other unit of veteran spears and some elephants into a unit of legionaries led by the Roman General, but they lost the impact badly, went down a base and were disrupted. Then, out of the blue, a 12 was rolled for the Roman General fighting in the front rank, and down he went. He can’t have been very popular, as none of the surrounding units even came close to failing their morale test for seeing him hacked down at the very moment of a victory which would surely guarantee him a Triumph back in Rome.

Death of the Roman general

Death of the Roman general

Next along the line were the other Elephants and Gauls against some reluctant Italian allied spearmen the Romans had brought along to make up the numbers. They should be defeated, but needed to be quickly because the returning Roman cavalry were breathing down the Gaul’s rear. It wasn’t to be – the impact phase ended in a draw with no casualties caused – bugger!

Don't look behind you lads

Don’t look behind you lads

On to the melee phase. Hannibal won his melee, but the Romans morale again stood firm, and worse, each side lost a base and the veteran Spearmen were down 25% of their strength (as were the Romans, but they fight to the last base regardless – maniacs!). The Elephants and Gauls managed to do better against the Italian spears in the melee phase, killing a base and sending them disrupted. The turn ended with each side 5 points towards their break points of Rome: 16 and Carthage:12.

Legion charges Libyans and Scutari

Legion charges Libyans and Scutari

The Romans charged the Scutarii and Libyan veterans on my centre left, winning both impacts and sending the Scutarii disrupted with a base loss and the Libyans disrupted. The melee phase was a strange one, with combats drawn all along the line, apart from the Gauls and Elephants killing an Italian spearman base. In the Carthaginian turn, the Scutarii beat the Principes facing them and killed a second base, but the Libyan veterans lost badly and dropped to fragmented. Hannibal and his Libyan spears needed to win, but their fight ended in another draw and though the Gauls and elephants finally broke the Italian foot, it was too late as the Romans were moving first in the next turn.

Too late, the Italians break

Too late, the Italians break

The one Roman charge was straight into the back of the Gauls, whose pursuit of the Italian spears had actually made it easier for the Roman cavalry to skirt the rough ground to charge them in the rear. In the impact phase I forgot to send the Gauls disrupted straight away for being charged in the rear, but remembered in time for the melee phase, in which they were broken. Elsewhere, the Scutarii had a stunning 7-1 victory over the opposing Principes, broke them then auto broke them by staying in contact and costing them a base. The Roman commander with the unit died on a roll of a 10, making 3 generals killed in the battle – a 50% casualty rate! Unfortunately the “superior” Libyan spear chose this moment to lose their melee and roll low on their morale test – they were also reduced to auto broken in the ensuing pursuit. The Carthaginian turn brought more grief with Hannibal’s unit of Libyans broken and wiped out, though he survive the casualty roll and moved to join the other routing Libyans in the Joint Action phase.

This will not end well!

This will not end well!

I ended the game there, with the Carthaginians 1 off their breakpoint at 11 while the Romans were 6 off at 10. Although the Carthaginian cavalry had broken through on one flank, only the Numidians were in good shape, with the Spanish heavy cavalry fragmented and no commander anywhere near to rally them. On the other flank the Roman cavalry were chasing the broken Gauls off the board, but it was in the centre that Carthage’s situation was hopeless – only the Scutarii and elephants remained facing 3 pretty much intact legions, as one of the veteran Libyan units had auto broken while the other was heading broken towards its own baseline (though admitted with Hannibal alongside, they would probably rally).

Given that 2 turns took 2 hours and that I can’t leave games set up, FOB:AM is probably not ideal for this format – the full game would have taken us 6 hours. However, I did get to play against a Roman deployment which I wouldn’t have made had I been playing solo. I then tried to play out the Roman orders which were given to me after the game went solo, so as a start for a solo game it was excellent – thanks to the Roman general for taking part (though not for accusing me of cheating when he found out about the “12” rolled to kill the Roman general) 🙂

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Cuba Libre (19/01/14 – Nick)

For our first get-together in quite a while we settled on a game of “Cuba Libre”, with Nick taking his usual COIN series side of choice, the Government bully-boy faction, while I was those heroes of the revolution, the 26July. We decided to play with the non-player flowchart option – though it probably took a bit longer than us taking 2 factions each, it certainly spiced the game up. The AI for the non-player factions seemed plausible most of the time, although as the Syndicate I would have building casinos quicker (but what do I know – see final scores below….)

Set-up at start

Set-up at start

The first Propaganda came up on the 3rd card and the Government got smacked down a level of support to Reluctant almost immediately, due to the fact that the Directorio AI had reduced their support with Terror in Havana on their first action. With the downgrading of U.S. backing the Government lost Aid and started to become strapped for the resources needed to perform actions with. The Directorio AI was fairly even-handed though, killing a few of my guerillas as well, which allowed the Government to get a foothold in the mountainous Las Villas area – with its population value of 2 this really is a key area for all players. I attempted one attack on it which was foiled by a combination of the Directorio AI and a government momentum card which allowed them to assault and kill my troops as it it were a non-mountainous region. This defeat allowed the Government to gain enough points for a victory just as the third Propaganda card was turned, but the Directorio had the 2nd activation on that last card, and luckily the AI dictated that they performed a Terror op on all cities, snatching the auto-victory from the Government’s grasp.

Havana & Las Villas

Havana & Las Villas

I stupidly enacted the Pact of Caracas event, meaning from now on I couldn’t change the alignment of Directorio regions nor perform any actions which would impact their troops, so this meant I had to go into new regions to try and win support – unfortunately these new regions were crawling with troops and police.  I managed to overrun the economic centres in an attempt to deny the Government resources with which to buy Civic Actions  (swing areas towards support and thus gain victory points), but it was too little too late. The Government was able to pass on the last card before the final Propaganda, giving them 3 resources which they used on civic actions to bring 2 cities back to active support and gaining them the win – just…Final scores Government +1, Directorio & Syndicate 0, 26July -1. I finished last behind a couple of  AI Flowcharts – Che would have been disgusted!

The Mob Casinos rule the cities

The Mob Casinos rule the cities

We both enjoyed this game more than Andean Abyss, probably because the cramped board meant we had to attack each other from the outset, with the victory point scores swinging back and forth. Cuba Libre is certainly very playable with 2 players (more so than AA) and if-and-when we ever get a 3-player session together with our mate the Pope (the one in our Vassal game of Here I Stand) then this would definitely be top of my list, with the AI playing the Mob (Syndicate).

Game end

Game end

Field of Glory Ancients (03/01/2014 Tom)

We had a couple of hours to spare on a wet Friday, so I threw together an 800 point Mid-Republican Rome v Carthage FOG game to demonstrate the rules to Tom. I hadn’t appreciated before how many units the Romans can have at 800 points (16 to the Carthaginian 12) which made my job as Hannibal even harder – breaking superior Legions is difficult enough at the best of times 🙂

Clash of battlelines

Clash of battlelines

Tom was quite impressed with the rules, even when he couldn’t seem to make a kill roll to save his life. I got myself into a bit of a pickle trying to work out what would happen when a unit of African Veteran Spearmen got broken by a unit of Hastati half their size who then pursued them through a unit of skirmishers. I took it as a pursuit into fresh enemy, and even though the skirmishers broke themselves and ran through the spears who had burst through them, I stopped the Romans short of pursuing into the spears again. I need to do some research to find out if that was correct or not.

Pursuit

Pursuit

We got to try out some elephants as well, and Tom failed to kill any even before I remembered you had to add 1 to the kill roll when rolling to lose a base 🙂 Nonetheless it was great to get elephants back on the table again – last time was using my 28mm Hinchliffe Sassanid elephants with WRG rules in the late 1970’s.

Elephants rampant

Elephants rampant

We finished after 3 turns, with neither side winning in the centre (though the Carthaginians had killed the most stands and the Romans were 6 points towards their breakpoint while the Carthaginians were 4 towards theirs). My right flank was up in the air, though my elephants had penetrated and wiped out a Roman Hastati unit there – meanwhile on my left flank, I was winning the large cavalry melee with the superior Gallic chaps.

What was interesting was how effective the Romans could be in one melee and really brittle in the next due to their small unit sizes – I may need to combine the 4 base infantry units into 8 base units to make them more durable.

Cavalry melee

Cavalry melee

We’re keen to give this set another go soon, though I’ve just got an e-mail from Lancashire Games – the new Ancient rule set “Pulse of Battle” from Brent Oman is available for pre-order – oh-oh…..

Board Wargames played during 2013

Kingdom of Heaven - the Crusaders land at Antioch

Kingdom of Heaven – the Crusaders land at Antioch

Looking at my BGG recorded plays, it comes as no surprise that the game I played most was also my game of the year, “Kingdom of Heaven” from MMP. With 2 face-to-face plays and 2 games on Vassal, I’ve only really scratched the surface of this one as it has a lot of scenarios all of which look playable in an afternoon. I’m hoping to get a Vassal game of the 3rd Crusade in soon.

Rebel Raiders

Rebel Raiders

My next favourite game was GMT’s “Rebel Raiders on the High Seas”, a strategic level attempt at gaming the ACW at sea. The cards add a lot of flavour to the game and the fact that it can be finished in an afternoon means it should hit the table again.

Andean Abyss game

Andean Abyss game

I warmed more to “Andean Abyss” after playing it face-to-face with 4 players (a rare event), so much so that I bought “Cuba Libre” (the next in the COIN series) and have had 3 really fun solo games of it. If anyone is thinking of starting with the COIN series I would recommend starting with “Cuba Libre” and taking it from there.

Cuba Libre - a smaller scale game than Andean Abyss

Cuba Libre – a smaller scale game than Andean Abyss

I also bought “Fading Glory”, the Napoleonic quad from GMT and played an excellent game of Waterloo 20 against my son when we were on holiday. In a reversal of history, it came down to the last turn when his Imperial Guard corps beat the British Guard Corps at Waterloo for a last-minute French victory – a cracking little game and an excellent system. We also had a few games of Star Wars: X-Wing which is more of a minis game than a board game I suppose, but a fun fast-playing system whatever it is.

On the Vassal front, I had 2 games of “Shifting Sands” and 2 of “Kingdom of Heaven”, one of each with my school friend David (http://http://www.davidpentlandart.com/) and one of each with Gary of Sgt Steiner blog fame (http://sgtsteiner.blogspot.co.uk/). I also played a couple of games of Command & Colours:Ancients with Gary.

For those who read last year’s summary of my board gaming year, “Sekigahara” still lies unstickered and GMT have now issued a 2nd edition which has a big enough box to fit all the components in – ARGHHH!. As mentioned, I got “Cuba Libra” in the Autumn and my lovely wife got me “No Retreat – African Front” for Christmas, so hoping to get that on the table soon.

Next year I’m looking forward to “FAB Golan” (420 pre-orders) and the “Norway 1940″ expansion for “PQ17″ (388 pre-orders) – both from GMT, but looking at those pre-orders, I can’t see them getting printed next year. The next game in the COIN series is “Fire in the Lake” which is set in Vietnam will be printed, and though I love the theme, I’ll wait until it’s released before I commit to buying it. So with not a lot of new stuff on the near horizon, maybe I’ll get some of those old games on the table? We shall see….. 🙂

Saga (02/01/14 – David over Facetime)

In a fit of madness when discussing which game we should play over Vassal for New Year, there was a wacky bid of a figure game over a video link and this was the result – a game of Saga with the Irish facing up to the Normans (ironically, the Norman General was over 300 miles away from the table in Northern Ireland). The objective was simply to kill the opposing Warlord.

One Irish Curadh (in a fetching sky blue tunic) "volunteers" to be a speed bump

One Irish Curadh (in the fetching sky blue tunic in the distance) “volunteers” to be a speed bump as the Norman IPad general looks on

The Irish went first, with the unit of Hounds bounding through some rough ground to bite at the Norman crossbows which would surely have killed quite a few hounds had they been allowed to fire. Although the hounds won the melee and drove the crossbows back, this bit of the battle turned out to be a bit of a stand-off, with the hounds afraid to leave cover for fear of crossbow bolts and the crossbows failing to do much damage because the hounds were in cover. The rest of the Irish dice went on to the battle board to build up defensive abilities while one Curadh used his free activation to place himself between the massed Norman Hearthguard unit led by the warlord and his own Irish Warlord.

The Norman Death Star

The Norman Death Star

The Norman knights and Warlord rode at the Curadh and killed him for the loss of one of their own, but he served his purpose as a speed bump and the fatigue he put on the knights persuaded them to pause for the rest of the turn. Meanwhile the mounted warriors charged a unit of Irish warriors, but with no abilities on either board it was a straight roll-off with equal number of dice which the Irish just lost and had to retreat after the combat. This however left the Norman mounted warriors exposed to a charge by the Irish Hearthguard unit of 10 figures, and when the dust settled there were no warriors left (though they did take 2 Hearthguard down with them).

Attack the Fianna

Attack the Fianna

The Irish Hearthguard’s victory diverted the attention of the Norman knights and after charging towards the Irish Warlord who was guarded only by 8 Warriors but failing to wipe them out, they decided to charge the Irish Hearthguard for their second activation on a Warlord “side-by-side” activation. After the Normans rolled an obscene number of dice, only 4 Irish Fianna remained standing, but the Norman steamroller had been stopped as they now had too much fatigue on them to risk carrying on.

Fianna survive

Fianna survive

The Irish now had the Norman Hearthguard in the right place, and using a combination of javelins backed by battle board abilities and a side-by-side attack by the Warlord  and a unit of Warriors, reduced them to 2 men. As the Norman spear-armed warriors were the only viable unit left, they were hurled at what was left of the Irish Hearthguard, wiping them out and piling into the 5 remaining Irish Warriors beside the Warlord.

Warriors try to get to Warlord

Warriors try to get to Warlord

The Normans and Irish were both rolling the same number of dice, but luck was with the Irish and the Warriors were reduced to 1 figure and pushed back. The Irish Warlord tried to manoeuvre himself and his remaining Curadh into a “side-by-side” combat with the Norman Warlord, but the flanking Norman figures stopped a legal contact by both figures, so the Irish Warlord went it alone with some battleboard abilities – he came up just short in the ensuing melee, though the Norman Warlord had to kill his last Hearthguard Knight to survive. With no forces left, the Normans picked that moment to roll their 2nd and 3rd flag of the game, so plonked them on the Dex Aie ability (which gave him double the number of dice in melee) and charged the Irish Warlord – he had to due to being in charge range and the “Warlord’s Pride” rule. The Irish had “Blade of Truth” on their battleboard which stopped any melee abilities being played, so the extra Norman dice were lost and the fight was inconclusive.

Mexican stand-off

With both sides exhausted and time running short, we called it a day there. The Irish just scraped a win on victory points by 22.5 (rounded to 23) points to 22.

We were both amazed at how well this worked over a video link, so much so that we’re going to give it a go with Field of Glory:Ancients next – maybe a slightly bigger table and 15mm troops won’t be as easy to do but we’ll see.

The Norman IPad General

The Norman IPad General