Monday, April 15, 2019

Blood Bowl: Match Report- Dark Elves vs. Elf Union



Lord Summervale: Welcome Blood Bowl fans! I am pleased to have you join us for Cabalvision IV's coverage of the Deep North- Southern Regional conference. I am your host Lord Summervale and as always I am joined in the booth by the great Blood Bowl mind and Hall of Fame player Mad Johan.

Mad Johan: In addition, we are joined in the booth today by the captain of the Chaos Goat Herders, Asquith Kneecapper.; fresh off their win in the Princess Owayanna Bottled Spring Healing Waters tournament win! Congratulations!

Asquith Kneecapper: Thank you, I would just like to say all praise to the Chaos Gods and Nuffle.

Lord Sumervale: Well said. Today's match we are glad to bring you a long-awaited premier between two new teams to the Conference, the Black Guards from Nagarroth and the Elf Union Superiors.

Mad Johan: Indeed, the two elf teams bring two different play styles to this conference. It is said that Mora-Thai and her team were exiled from the Blood Bowl pitches of Naggaroth for an undisclosed infraction. They were sailing to join the Princess Owayanna tournament but were detained at the coast by some..... um.... slave raiding?

Asquith Kneecapper: A noble past-time! Almost as fun as playing Blood Bowl!

Lord Summervale: I'll take your word for it.

Mad Johan: Meanwhile, this Elf Union team is captained by Legolan the Highborn. His team has been active in some of the minor leagues and decided to make the jump to this level of play. We will see how they handle it.

Asquith Kneecapper: Fresh meat! I think they will find the game plays much faster at this level.

Lord Summervale: Perhaps. We are about to find out. The two captains have come out of their dug-outs and approached the grot refs. The two shake hands, and seem to exchange some.... refined.... banter in elvish. It looks like the Black Guards have elected to receive the ball.

Mad Johan: A good strategy. They might be able to put some of those Elf Union players out of the game before they even get the ball. Asquith, what do you think the keys of the game are?

Asquith Kneecapper: Clearly Nuffle and the gods will favor the team that has sacrificed more virgins prior to the first snap. I believe the Dark Elves have the advantage.

Mad Johan: Ummmmmm..... sure. I'm sure that will matter. For Mora-Thai her team will want to stretch out their scoring drives. The best defense is to keep the Superiors from even having the ball at all. For the Black Guards, they need to use their possessions to also take out the key positionals on the Elf Union team.

Asquith Kneecapper: What you say makes sense.... but I am sure it will come down to the sacrifices.

Mad Johan: For the Superiors, they are going to have to stretch the field and force the Black Guard to cover deep and thin their defense in other areas. The Superiors have the ability to score early and often. They need to put the Black Guards into a deficit early and force them to play catch-up.

Asquith Kneecapper: I suppose they could also just smash the other team into little chunks of meat. It makes it easier to score AND prepares them for the victory feast!

Lord Summervale: Clearly, you are both brilliant Blood Bowl minds. The Dark Elves have their runners Raz-Al-Slam and Urleith Van Drakken back to receive.

Boom! The kick is up!

Raz-Al-Slam easily picks up the ball deep in the backfield in the nearside field.

Mad Johan: Kurounus the Dreaded, the Dark Elf blitzer races up the edge of the farside wing and unloads a davastating blitz on TheonaStarstrike and send shim the dug-out. Ouch!


Lord Summervale: The Black Guards begin to form a cage and head to the line, with Mora-Thai the Witch Elf leading the way. Jaq the Knife knocks out the Elf Union blitzer, Gloire as the Dark Elves approach.

Mad Johan: It's not all going the Black Guards' way as Fiendahl Stormwind, the Blitzer stiff arms the Dark Elf lineman Morathian and takes him out. Brutal for elves.

Lord Summervale: The Black Guard move to break through the Superiors line. Darveck the Flayer blitzes an opening by taking out the Elf Union blocker, Snowrabbit. Mora-thai moves to expnad the gap, but is taken out by a rejuvenated Gloire the Seeker. He sends the Witch Elf to the dug-out!

Asquith Kneecapper: That was unexpected!


Mad Johan: The Superiors decide to try to capitalize on and start dishing out punichment across the line! 1 Black Guard is Koed, while Legolan the High-born himself stuns another Dark Elf blocker.

Asquith Kneecapper: I like these Elves style.

Lord Summervale: The path to the runner is open, and the Superior Blitzer takes his shot. He turns the end of the line and manages to Blitz Raz-Al-Slam. The Dark Elf is flattened to the turf, and coughs up the ball. The nearby Superior Blocker..... Chalaon Stormbreaker manages to scoop it up.



Mad Johan: The scrum is not over yet!

Lord Summervale: Indeed! Both teams push and shove each other around. Chalaon tries to break out, but is tripped up and sent sprawling by Al-Slam. The ball keeps being kicked around the field as the two teams scuffle over it.

Somehow, Chalaon finds the ball in his hands again, and he dumps it downfield to a fellow blocker, Arleith Starleif.


Asquith Kneecapper: Is this some of that “Finesse” game I hear fans of elf teams talk about?

Mad Johan: The Superior's drive is short lived as Black Ivenoth of the Black Guards knocks the ball loose again, putting Starleaf to the dug-out in the process. However, Black Ivenoth's run of luck ends quickly, as the Superior Lineman Calaughn Riverbend puts him in the dug-out with a punishing hit!


Asquith Kneecapper: This is a very hard hitting game!

Lord Summervale: Indeed! The referee blows the whistle for the half. Each team only has about 5 players left on the pitch!

Asquith Kneecapper: No love lost between these teams!

Mad Johan: You know what I say Summervale, it is hard to win a Blood Bowl match if half your team is in the box. However, it looks like I might be wrong this time. If you look closely at the casualty report, you will see that the Black Guard mostly have Knock Outs, while the Superiors have injuries. That means we could see the Black Guard have a slight numbers advantage in the second half.

Lord Summervale: That's why you are here Johan. Indeed, a great detail from a great Blood Bowl mind. Now, let's send the viewers back to Cabalvision IV's home tower for a breakdown of Blood Bowl action around the Olde World. Remember, Guillotine Razor; everytime you use them it is a close shave!

** ** ** ** **

Lord Summervale: Welcome back to the second half of our match-up between the Dark Elf Black Guards, and the Elf Union Superiors. The score is 0-0 in a surprisingly hard hitting game. I am joined int eh booth today by my regular color commentator Mad Johan. However, we also have Chaos Goat Herder Captain, Asquith Kneecapper.

Asquith, what do you think will be the key strategy for the second half?

Asquith: Well, both teams have been doing a good job smashing the other team. Eventually, one of these teams will have to score a touchdown. I think it might be the team with a player left standing.

Mad Johan: Elf teams get a lot of schtick for being all pouncy and finesse. Today, these teams are not living up to those expectations. I did not expect them to get into my Ard Hitz Highlight reel. So far, they have been brutal to each other.

However, Asquith is right. Eventually, someone is going to have to stop killing the other team and just score. I think the Black Guards have a bit of an edge in players returning to the game. I expect to see this difference matter.

Lord Summervale: Well, the Superiors get start with the ball this half. Let's see if they can do better than the Black Guards did. The Black Guards kick is up..... Boom! That gets the second half started.

Legolan the High-Born gets the ball after the touchback. He scrambles forward to the Elf Union line.

Mad Johan: The blitzer Kurounus the Dreaded is in hot pursuir. He easily penetrates the Superior back field and levels Chalaon Cloudbreak who was foolish enough to get in that guys way! Krunch!

Lord Summervale: Due to the pressure, Legolan passes it back to his fellow passer Chronus the Masked.

Mad Johan: That doesn't fool Korounus, who sniffs out the play and homes in on Chronus. The blitzer stretches the field and unloads on the Elf Union Thrower. He sends Chronus to the casualty box, and the ball goes loose deep in Elf Union territory.


Lord Summervale: Raz-Al-Slam manages to scoop up the ball and run it in for an easy touchdwon! The Black Guards are up by 1.

Asquith Kneecapper: That Black Guard Blitzer stepped up and made the key play. Slaanesh msut be with him!

Mad Johan: As I predicted, the Black Guards small numbers advantage left Korounus unblocked on the outside and Raz-Al-Slam in a position to scoop up the ball and score.

Lord Summervale: More Black Guard players return to the field as they kick it to the Superiors. The Elf Union team valiantly tries to move it up field, but the Dark Elves seem to be wherever they try to go.


Mad Johan: Another big hit from Darveck the Flayer sends Theona Starstrike stunned to the ground. The numbers do not add up for the Superiors this time.

Lord Summervale: Despite a valiant attempt to drive up field, the Black Guards hold out until the whistle. The Black Guards have bested the Elf Union Superiors 1 to 0.

That was a surprisingly hard hitting game!

Mad Johan: Yes, but I think the Black Guards managed to take the game because they hit just that much harder than the Superiors. Just look at the casualty results to verify. Sure Mora-Thai the Black Guard team captain is leaving the game with a niggling injury, but the Superiors took it much harder. 4 players ended up in the casualty dug-out. Thankfully for the Superiors, two will be ready to play next game, but Elra Snowrabbit will have to miss the next match. Worse, blocker Galathia Sunstreak will never play at the same level again.

Asquith Kneecapper: I sense an upcoming sacrifice to Nuffle.

Lord Summervale: I don't think that is how the Superiors “retire” players?

Mad Johan: With such a new team to the conference, they just have to make do.

Lord Summervale: Well, that is interesting and all, but who do you think were the Bloodweiser Stars of the game? Asquith, I will let you decide today.

Asquith Kneecapper: Oh... let me consult my game notes..... for the Black Guards, you have to consider Korounus the Dreaded who lived up to his name with 4 casualties! That is the type of player I want on my team! However, Raz-Al-Slam actually scored the winning touch down, and ultimately that is what counts. Darveck the Flayer also had a strong game. Ultimately, I think it will have to go to Raz-Al-Slam though.

Mad Johan: A solid choice.

Asquith Kneecapper: It is always tougher to pick a star on the losing team. Ultimately, they lost and have no favor with the Chaos Gods. Who cares about such lowlings?

Mad Johan: Agreed, but we have to pick. For the Superiors, I think Fiendahl Stromwind the Blitzer was doing what they needed him to do, hitting people. Chalaon Stormbreaker needs a shout out for being in the middle of key plays and trying to keep the Superior drive alive int eh first half. Then, Legolan the team captain didn't disappoint and tried to keep his team in the game. Ultimately, I am going with Chalaon Stormbreak for the Superiors.

Lord Summervale: Well, that wraps things up here. Thanks to Asquith Kneecapper from the Chaos Goatherders for joining us in the booth. We will now return you back to the Cabalvision IV studio for continuing coverage of a match all ready in progress. Join us next time for more exciting Blood Bowl in the Deep North League- Southern Regional Conference. Until then, try Guillotine Razors- a nick in time saves nine!

Ta-ta!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Review: Rebels and Patriots- Osprey Wargame Series


Rebels and Patriots is number 23 in the Osprey Wargaming Series. The focus of this game is battles in North America from the Colonial Period up to the Civil War. Basically, it is Black Powder or Horse and Musket for the New World. Since I live in the New World I was interested.

I had intended to use Chosen Men to play games set in Wisconsin during the War of 1812. However, I have never really gotten that project off the ground. I had gotten distracted by Greek Hoplites and Men of Bronze instead. Now I have even more reason to getting going on the 1812 in Wisconsin project with more rules to try out! I have also always wanted to do a Dakota War project and these rules may help out there as well.

The first thing you will notice, is that these rules are by Michael Leck and Daniel Mersey. Of course, those familiar with the Osprey Wargaming Series will recognize that Mr. Mersey has written, co-written and inspired many rules sets in the Osprey Wargaming Series line. I tend to think of these rule sets as the “Rampant” Series* of rules as they frequently have certain similarities in the core rules. I think it could be said that Mr. Mersey is the “Godfather of the Osprey Wargame Series”. He wasn't the first author in the series, but he maybe the most influential to other authors in the series. I know I found a lot of inspiration in Mr. Mersey's work.

This is also not the first collaboration of Mr. Mersey and Mr. Leck. Daniel Leck was the co-author of Pikeman's Lament as well. He also is a popular wargames blogger. I have a feeling this is not the last collaboration between these two, and look forward to see what they come up with next. They claim this is the “final” expansion, but I doubt it. The system still can easily be applied to other eras and wargame styles such as Sci-fi, Bronze Age, Mythical Age, etc. They probably just have not come up with the next concept yet!

As always, the game begins with Designer's Notes in the introduction. I love this aspect of the rules as it allows a glimpse into the process. In addition, it gives me clear criteria for determining if a writer was successful in their goals. In Rebels and Patriots, the goals were comparable to others in the Rampant series of games:

  • Model and scale neutral
  • Focus on North America
  • Company sized engagements
  • Officers matter
  • Hollywoodized version of History
  • Easy to remember and consistent rules

Well Let's see how they did! It might help if you have read some of my previous reviews of the Rampant series to get a better feel for my thoughts on this game.


*= In my mind, the Rampant Series includes:

Even though he wrote Dux Bellorum, I think the mechanics diverge enough to not be part of the “Rampant” Series.

Things I Liked
As with other rulesets in the Rampant series, the Company creation process is easy, intuitive, and quick. Unit types are grouped into broad categories. Most infantry is Line infantry that you can apply simple traits to to match historical or unique units. However, you can have Light, Skirmishers, Natives, Shock infantry. Cavalry has Light or Shock. Then there are basic artillery units from light, medium, to heavy.

Once a unit is activated, you can only choose one action from a list of actions. This is a great way to force Tactical Play on a player. A player must choose what is important and the troops can not do everything you want, equally well. You have to make a choice about what matters.

I was happy to see that this game also uses a Group Leader for movement, facing, etc and other measurements where models are then placed within 4 inches of the Group Leader. The idea is similar to Chosen Men and Menof Bronze. However, unlike those other rulesets, who the player uses as their Group Leader can change from turn to turn.

The actions are easy to follow and generally follow the same basic rules. They are consistent and easy to follow. These will make for a good, simple to resolve game. There is not too much If This/Than That style rules. In addition, the terrain effects are relatively uniform and common sense. These rules do a good job of streamlining play like many in the “Rampant” family of games.


Things I Did Not Like
The rules as written use model removal for casualties, which I am not a fan of anymore. After spending lots of time painting the models, I want them on the board the whole game! However, it is easy enough to make a few changes to use counters or casualty tokens instead of model removal.

The game essentially uses I-GO-U-Go method. To act, each unit must pass an activation test. However, if failed, play does not immediately go to the opponent. You can continue to try to activate other units. This removes one of the biggest criticisms of Lion Rampant. However, I preferred The Men Who Would Be Kings method where there were certain actions a unit could ALWAYS take without testing to activate based on the unit type. I also kind of like failed activation causing play to turn over to the other player as a form of “friction” that a general had to try to overcome. In this current system, I am unsure if an activation test does anything more than just add a needless dice roll as a half-way point between previous activation methods.

The game also adds a very Black Powder like critical success/failure type mechanic on the activation tests. If you roll double 1s on activation, you roll on a chart and consult what terrible thing happens. If you roll double 6's, you do the same. I am not a huge fan of the “blunder” system in Black Powder as I do not think it really adds anything of value to the game play except another chart to roll-on and look up in the middle of the game. However, other players love this type of thing, so your mileage may vary.

I am not a huge fan of random charge distances for close combat/attack actions. This rule sets uses the activation roll as the distance moved in the charge. At larger scale games, I could see this working better to represent terrain that can not be seen/detected at the scale but at this smaller scale I am not sure I am a fan. The uncertainty of the activation roll is friction enough for me. I do like that there are some actions a charge unit can try to take depending on the unit type such as evade or counter-charge. 

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The game continues to expand on the Officer ides introduced in The Men Who Would beKing and expanded on in Pikeman's Lament. This is an easy way to add some narrative and campaign elements to the game that has little impact on the actual game play itself. However, it can be distressingly easy for your one officer to start with a very bad trait. Thankfully, after various games he could get promoted or even killed so even a bad trait won't last forever.

Like other games in the Rampant series, the unit sizes are relatively static at 6 or 12 models. For example, light cavalry is 6 models, while infantry units are 12. Each company typically has 24 points to it, or about 4-6 units. That is about 72 models or so. Not bad. There are various traits you can give the units as well to match “historical” units. Some are downgrades and others are upgrades, but impact the abilities of your troops.

The game comes with 12 scenarios, which is more than the other game books if I recall correctly. One of the more innovative ones is the Great River Chase scenario. Essentially, your troops are attacking or defending three supply rafts coming down the river. Retreat tot eh Sunken Road is also interesting as the outnumbered Defender is trying to hold onto a road for 5 turns with no casualties in a row to win. Overall, there are some interesting scenarios that feel like they were culled from actual historical events.

Finally, the game has some example 24-point starter armies to choose from based on the North American war from the period. It covers the French-Indian Wars, American War of Independence, Northwest Indian War, War of 1812, Mexican War of Independence, Mexican American War, Mexican Adventure, the Civil War and many more. Overall, a pretty nice selection of armies for a diverse array of models.

Conclusion
Ultimately, if you enjoy the “Rampant” series of games, I see no reason why you will not like this latest edition. It has many of the strengths of the series and worked hard to minimize some of the criticism of the earlier works. I liked that failed activation turns over play, but many players do not like that model; and this version of the rules makes the necessary changes. Overall, I think the designers accomplished what they set out to do, and I would call this another success for the “Rampant” series of games.

Overall, I am now torn on what to play my War of 1812 in Wisconsin and Minnesota-Dakota War of 1862 with? Should I use these rules, Chosen Men, or The Men Who Would Be Kings? There is only 1 way to find out! I will need to play them all!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Battle Report: Operation: Hemlock- Strange Aeons



Sebastian Twist had been sent to Ammoriss several months ago by Inquisitor Xanatos to infiltrate the mutant and twist circles in the depths of the Adaconite mineworks. His reasons were unclear to his agents but they trusted his instructions. Father Robertus and Sergeant Major Bathory accompanied Sebastian to act as back-up and support.

After several months of laying low and monitoring the local situation, the two throne agents received word from Twist. A courier from one of the Noble Cartels was sending a payment to the local gangs they were using to round-up mutants to work in secret Adaconite Mines. Where the Adaconite that was mined was being sent was unclear. However, if the Throne Agents could secretly waylay the courier, it would disrupt the operations of the illicit Adaconite traders and possibly link them to a Noble Cartel.

The courier was being accompanied by a set of gangsters who brought a mutant enforcer with them to act as muscle.

Forces:

The Throne Agents

  • Father Robertus- Agent
    Wrecking Hammer, Holy Book, .22 Handgun*
      * .22 Handgun= Stub gun
  • Sgt Mjr Danyg Bathory- Agent
    Rifle, Knife, Light armored vest, Tight Boots, Firearm cleaning kit*
      * Rifle, Vest Tight Boots, Kit= Las-gun, Flak, Veteran Guardsman
  • Sebastian Twist- Civilian
    Cleaver, Lucky Charm,


Adaconite Smugglers

  • Cult Leader- .45 Handgun, chainsaw*
      *.45 and Chainsaw= Auto-pistol and Chainsword
  • Cultists x3- .22 Handgun, knife*
      * .22 Handgun= Stub/Auto guns
  • Kindred (Hideous)* - Shotgun
      * Kindred= Scavvy Mutant


Mission:
Clearly, we are using the Strange Aeons rules but putting a 40K skin over them.  

The agents quickly entered the mineworks to try and stop the courier from making it to their drop. One of the Smugglers (chosen by the smuggler player) must get the payment off the board edge. The Throne Agents must try to stop them.

Set-up:
The table is a 3x3. The ambush site is a warren of caves and mine shafts deep beneath North Ammoriss. Twisting corridors, jagged outcroppings, and poor lighting are the order of the day. This area has been abandoned as spent by the local Ad-Mech overseers. However, it makes a nice secluded place to make an exchange away from unwanted eyes.

The Smugglers are deployed on one side, with the Throne Agents on the opposite side.

Turn 1:
The Throne Agents carefully move forward into the dark mineshaft. Faint globeglobes are positioned strategically around the cavern, but they are on their lowest settings. They buzz ominously and fill the space with an acrid smell. In the distance, the shapes of the gang members can be seen moving around, the glowglobe illuminators cast strange, unsettling shadows making it tough to see exactly where the enemy is.

The baddies have an advantage as the Cult Leader has Command and can activate some of his minions we he activates. However, no one is in range yet.

Turn 2:
Father Robertus readies his hammer and creeps forward. He conceals himself behind a rock and vows that no one will get past his position, “By the Emperor.” Twist scuttles to a postion besides the main passage and hunkers down, waiting to get the drop on anyone who passes. Meanwhile, the Sgt. Major sees movement in the distance and his keen battlefield reflexes allow him to snap some las shots off. Their red beams momentarily flash across the cavern and alert everyone to the Agents presence.



Turn 3:
With years of experience traversing and fighting in these tunnels, the gang leader shouts his comrades forward. He, a gangster, and the Mutant rush towards the rock pile Father Robertus is crouched behind. The priest sees the Mutant and is filled with a momentary anger. He leaps the edge of the rocks and charges into the creature with a bellow. However, when the horrible mutant visage becomes clear, the Father quakes away in terror.

Seeing the gangsters close in on his fellow agent, Sgt major Bathory steps up and fires as he moves. His shots fail to find their mark. A gangster steps out from the shadows and fires at the Imperial veteran but misses. The gunshot echoing loudly through the cavern.

Twist sees his chance and drops from his hiding place and rushes up to the gangster. The lady never saw Twist coming. The little Mutie drops the gangster with a well aimed shot to the groin with his large blade. The nearby gangster sees his friend go down and fires at Twist, but misses.



Turn 4:
One of the lead gangsters charges into the horrified Father Robertus. The priest barely gets his hammer up in time to block the strike. However,t eh priest is not out of danger yet as the Mutant rushes him too. This time, the Priest has steeled his nerves and faces the enforcer. Again,t eh priest fends off the assault. The gang leader runs past the fight and towards the gates beyond.

Twist sprints forward and jumps on the next gangster in his sights. His twirling blade is enough and he puts the gangster face up. He tries to change back to standing but Twist mercilessly hacks him down again.

Sgt. Major Bathory pivots and drops to a knee. He cracks off a pair of shots at the fleeing Gang leader, but only blasts a whole in her ragged, billowy clothing. The last gangster follows his boss towards the exit.


Turn 6:
It looks like the gang leader is fleeing for his life, and possibly his paycheck. The Imperial Guard veteran again fires on the fleeing gangster boss. With time to set-up his shot, he takes the target to Face Up and pins her.

The last gangster also runs to the elevator, and gets to the gateway. He frantically tries to open the old, rusted gate and it starts to give way with a long, screech.

Meanwhile, Father Robertus struggles and tussles with the two goons he is fighting. He holds them off with his combat training, but is unable to get the upper hand. Twist heads back towards the doorway.

The Gang Leader changes state and gets up from being pinned.


Turn 7:
Father Robertus manages to stunt eh gangster andknock the Mutant down with a powerful swing of his hammer.

Sgt Major Bathory changes his aim and targets the fleeing gangster. His shot slaps into the cage near the gangsters head, and serves to frighten the poor man even more. He squeezes into the lift and starts the machine moving, his boss chasing after him waving her arms wildly!

Conclusion:
The gang's bagman escaped back to the surface and his unknown paymasters. However, the Throne Agents managed to capture the others for interrogation and punishment. With any luck, the escapee will just assume they encountered a rival in the depths beneath the mineheads. Their investigation of the illicit Adaconite mining will have to continue with other leads.

Despite losing the bagman, Father Robertus and Twist gain an advancement. Twist earns +1 Attack, while Father Robertus gains +1 Constitution.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Men of Bronze- All of Your Bases....



One of the core design goals of Men of Bronze was to be model and base agnostic.  That means, I wanted the system to work with any existing Greek Hoplite armies that players may have.  I personally hate all the base/re-basing in historical games to match “game scale” or “time scales”.  I spend way too much time painting, not enough time gaming, and do not want to redo basing all the time to play different games. 

The game mechanics themselves were put together to help facilitate this base agnosticism.  The most obvious way was to make the game a Unit-vs-Unit game.  Actions are resolved by a unit instead of by an individual model.  For example, in Warhammer Ancient Battles, you count up how many models are in base to base, calculate their attacks, and roll dice.  As casualties are calculated, models make saves and are removed when failed.  I.E, your models are the ones pooling their abilities to determine the success of their actions and attrition.  In Men of Bronze the actions are determined by the fixed abilities of the unit and fixed benefits for the supporting units.  There is no individual casualty removal. 

In addition, various key measurements are done by using the leader (center of the unit) as the focal point.  This simplifies and standardizes measuring, ranges, etc.  Therefore, no matter the basing you can easily mark or find the center of the front of the unit.  Basing does not matter.

As a last feature to make the game base and scale agnostic all measurements are in Base Widths.  Technically, a base width can be any unit of measure that the players are comfortable with.  I use 28mm models from Victrix and an Imperial Inch as a Base Width.  Alternatively, you could measure the actual length of the base size you use or the frontage and make those the same as the base widths.  Of course, players could also just decide what they want to use saying it is 10 cm, 150 mm, or whatever they wish.  The key thing is that everyone knows the size of a base width and it looks good to you on the table top. 

With that being said, there have been a few questions about how to do this base agnostic thing with the various armies and basing for armies that exist.  I want to look at some popular basing methods and talk about how to use them in Men of Bronze.           

Single Based Models
As I have mentioned, I tend to use single based 28mm models for my own games and armies.  28mm is what I cut my teeth on as a young wargamer, and despite playing games at different scales this one just appeals to me. 
Phalanx Formation for 28mm, single-based models
To create a unit in Men of Bronze, the easiest way and the method I use is to simply get 10 single based models together.  I put the leader model in the front rank, put two mooks on each side of the leader.  I then fill in a second line of 5 models.  Ta-da!  A unit in Phalanx formation.  I use Victrix 25mm round plastic bases and all the models are based individually.  However, you can use any size base you want, and it can be round or square with no game impact.  If I want a unit in loose formation, I just place the leader model, and make sure all the individual models are within 1 base width, which I have decided is 1 Imperial Inch.   

Open formation for 28mm, single-based models
This means models from Warhammer Ancient Battles and similar casualty removal systems easy to use in Men of Bronze

Multi-Models with Multiple Base Units
A popular style of basing is 28mm or 15 mm models in groups of 4-6 on square or rectangular bases.  The easiest way would be to use 10 bases and split them out like the single based unit, but that is a lot of figures and very few people will probably want to do that!  Keep in mind, a Unit can be any number of bases as it is a Unit-vs-Unit system.  Therefore, you can have a Unit be 1 base or more.  I tend to think 3 bases (so about 12 to 16 figures) make a good unit. 

For a Phalanx formation they can simply be lined up in a straight line, with the middle of the center Unit as the “Leader” or a model in the center base acting as the leader.  If the unit is supposed to be in loose formation a player could simply stagger the frontage of the unit, or separate the bases by up to a base width.  

Many games use 60mm x 60mm, 40 x 40mm or 40mm x 15mm bases.  The easiest base width measurement is 30mm, 20mm or 15mm respectively.  However, you can use whatever looks best to you! 

This makes armies designed for Hail Caesar, Warmaster Ancients, or Impetus rather easy to convert to Men of Bronze.  

From Irregular Wars- Multi-model, multi-based, 10mm
http://irregularwars.blogspot.com/
Multiple Models on a Single base
Players who have long been using WRG, DBA/M, or L’Arte de Guerre systems will frequently have a single unit of 4 to 6 models on a single base.  These are easy to convert to Men of Bronze too.    

Typically, 15mm models for DBA use 40mm frontage with a width/depth of 15mm.  That means an entire unit for Men of Bronze could be on a single base 40mm x 15mm. A base width for measuring distance could be 15mm, but if you do not like the look you could go for something else.  The “leader” would just be the center of the unit’s frontage.  A unit would be assumed to be in Open Order, unless a counter was placed nearby indicating they were in a Phalanx formation.

If you have smaller scale models such as 6mm or 10mm you could stick with the 15mm base width, or adjust it as you so desire.

From Irregular Wars- Multi-model, single-based, 10mm
http://irregularwars.blogspot.com/
Final Thoughts
As you can see, Menof Bronze was built to be scale and base agnostic.  If you have Ancient Greek figures, you can probably play a game.  However, it is recommended that each player use the same basing method and scale to reduce confusion, but it is not required with a suitably good-natured opponent and clear communication.  Each army is about 5-10 units per side, so you can easily stretch your existing Ancient Greek collections for a game of Men of Bronze.         

Monday, March 18, 2019

Battle Report: Operation Hemlock- Aeronautica Imperialis


You may recall, I first got startedin wargame design because I really enjoyed playing in some of the old GW online campaigns. I had fond memories of playing in the Eye of Terror campaign and the Medusa V campaign. Some friends and I tried a small scale community campaign called the Battle forAmmoriss. It was mildly successful and I had a lot of fun with it.

I had created a follow-up mini-campaign called Operation: Hemlock set on the same world as a follow-up to the Battle for Ammoriss campaign. It is kind of hokey, but I want to set most of my sci-fi games this year into this Operation: Hemlock setting. I never really got to use it as a mini-campaign so I might as well use it as a back drop for some gaming! I honestly do not think it is the best campaign document I have done. I have plenty more other, cooler ones for the Airspace Online campaigns for Aeronautica Imperialis. Maybe I will revisit one of those planets some other time.

So, here is some of the game systems I will probably be using and setting in Operation: Hemlock coming up:


As you can see, I plan on playing a diverse set of games to fit into this setting beyond just GW systems. I really just wanted a bit of a placeholder for my games and to give me some context for what story I was working on this year. I might play all of these, or I might play none of these. We will see what my family and group want to play and do.

Anyway, without further ado, here is my first Operation: Hemlock related battle report....


Background
As part of Operation: Hemlock the Imperial authorities launched a three pronged offensive to eliminate the ork threat on Ammoriss once and for all. As part of Taskforce: Chalice the Ammoriss Air PDF and Imperial Navy was tasked with gaining and maintaining air superiority for the campaign in and around the Deff Islands. Commodore Miles of the Imperial Navy was placed in overall command of the operation.

The Deff Islands were a many miles away from the nearest PDF airbases in North Ammoriss. Therefore, Commodore Miles established a number of small Forward Operating Bases closer to the target area, mostly on abandoned or commandeered drill rigs. There he planned to use the larger assets of the Ammoriss Air PDF to spearhead patrols and operations in the approaches to the Deff Islands to isolate them geographically and eliminate the threat of other refugee orks from migrating to the Skarbash's aid.

In addition, he organized a number of reconnaissance incursion into Ork held airspace. The purpose of these missions was to try to locate and fix the Ork air defense and airbase network on the islands. Again, the larger air assets of the Ammoriss Air PDF were used while the Imperial Navy assets were held in reserve.

This is one such reconnaissance mission attempting to penetrate to the Green Zone on Ammoriss.

Forces

Ammoriss Air PDF
2 Sentinel Interceptors
2 Storm Interceptors
1 Watchman

Snaz Boomgobz Air Boyz
4 Ork Fighters

Mission:
Today's mission will be the flight of the Vigilante. The Watchman will attempt to make it across the board without getting shot down by the Ork aircraft. If it survives then the mission is a success for the PDF, if it is shotdown the Orks win. This is a mission and the PDF forces are from the Airspace Rules Compilation.


Set-up:
The Watchman is coming in at high speed and medium altitude, with its escort squadrons on either sides of it at similar speeds and heights.

The orks are split into two groups who are deployed at both table corners. They are both high and mid-speed.

Turn 1:
Initiative: PDF

Move:
The Imperial aircraft start to shift tot eh right, while the Ork aircraft move towards the middle and drop altitude.

Shoot:
None

Turn 2:
Initiative: PDF

Move:
The Watchman and the Storms stay around Altitude 4 to 5 and head right again and Fighta 1 and 2 seem to be tracking with them. Meanwhile, the Sentinels go high and the Ork fightas facing them dive to the hard deck. They will both have a hard time getting into the action later.

Shoot:
None

Turn 3:
Initiative: Orks

Move:
The Ork fightas near the deck do a hard G-turn and gain altitude in exchange for speed and head for the bulk of the PDF aircraft. The sentinels do something similar but stay at the same height. The Watchman continues to gain altitude to avoid the Ork fighters, but they are closing in and have slipped behind the escort screen.

Shooting:
Fighta 4 opens up on Storm 2 and riddles the airframe with Big Shoota fire. It is our first kill of the day, and the pilot fails to eject in time to survive.


Turn 4:
Initiative: Orks

Move:
The orks all turn into the expected path of the Watchman, but the PDF plane is even slower than they expected, and they just barely overshoot and leave it out of range. However, Storm 1 is out of position, and the Sentinels have sub-optimal firing arcs.

Shooting:
Ork Fighta one whiffs gently and sprays Big Shoota rounds right through Sentinel two, easily knocking the plane from the sky, Another PDF pilot goes to their grave!

In return, Sentinel 1 manages to scratch what passes for paint on Fighta 3, and the Watchman misses Fighta 1 with her heavy stubbers.



Turn 5:
Initiative: Orks

Move:
The Storm and Sentinel try desperately to set-up some kill-zones behind the Watchman to deter an attack, but the Orks are all over the PDF planes. Fighta 1 easily drops into a tailing position on the Watchman.

Shooting:
Fighta 3 sprays Storm 1 and close range, but somehow the PDF plane flies through it unharmed.

The watchman fires on its pursuer, but fails to hit anything. Meanwhile, Fighta 1 lazily takes 1 hit off the big bird.

The return fire from Storm 1 is enough to splash Ork Fighta 3! The Ork fails to eject and is killed.



Turn 6:
Initiative: Orks

Tailing Fire:
The Tailing Fire from Fighta 1 is enough to take down the Watchman plane. However,t eh crew is able to bail out and live to fight another day!



Move:
With the Watchman down, the rest of the PDF simply disengage. The orks give a half-hearted pursuit until the reach the end of their fuel and return home.

Shooting:
None

Conclusion:
Commodore Miles' strategy proved to be very costly in blood and iron. The Air PDF crews and aircraft were ill-prepared for the mission against the Ork stronghold most of the reconaissance craft never returned. Very little was learned from the effort. Instead, Commodore Miles turned to other methods to try to learn about what was happening in the Green Zone.

Worse, a rift began to form between the Ammoriss Air PDF crews and their Imperial Navy counter-parts. It was not lost on them that the Navy fliers had been held back, while the Air PDF did the dying for the past few days. In addition, Commodore Miles instituted a new, rigorous re-training program overseen by the Imperial Navy crews. This was another factor that only increased the rift between the two services as Operation: Hemlock was kicked off.

It has been a while since we played Aeronautica Imperialis. I think the last time was a mini-campaign early in 2018 with Varingyr vs. Orks? Well, my usual scumgrod took the Orks and the proceeded to take me to school.

I had just sculpted and painted the PDF Sentinels and I really was eager to try them out. Sadly, I didn't really have a battle plan for my force, and instead it just got ill used and shot to pieces! The PDF craft are of course underpowered and fragile, but they tend to make it up with some OK firepower and being cheap as chips so I was actually outnumbering Orks. I was rolling plenty of shooting dice when I got in the right position, which was not often enough this game. I couldn't really tell you how the Sentinel did, but the Storm proved itself to be a good close range gunslinger yet again.



Better luck for the PDF next time I guess.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: Maze of Malcor- Frostgrave



The Maze of Malcor is another supplement for Frostgrave.  This is the fourth soft cover supplement for Osprey Games popular fantasy skirmish game.  One of my goals for 2019 was to get my gaming group and family to start a regular campaign for this game system.  Reading the description for this one it mentioned some new rules, campaign, and new wizard types.  Therefore, it made sense to me to pick up this booklet to make sure I had the newest rules. 

The rules have three main components.  The first is the new rules.  The second is the Campaign and the new bestiary to go with it.  The last piece is new wizards and spells of the new magical schools called the Pentangle.  So, let’s dig in and see what terrors this supplement will add to the Frozen City of Felstad. 

Things I Liked
I really enjoyed the new spells and the new wizards.  The new Wizards are not really intended to be “campaign playable”.  It specifically mentioned the difficulty of a wizard maxing out and being able to cast the Transcendence spell since the new wizards have to master more spells than a conventional wizard.  Many of these new wizard types were a combination of existing magical schools in new and interesting ways.  The author is full of fun magical ideas. 

I also liked the new rules for placing treasure.  It seemed to crib from the treasure placement used in the Ghost Archipelago.  You place a central treasure in the center of the board so there is always a reason to move towards the middle.  Other treasures are placed radiating away from it.  This will help cut down on treasure placement shenanigans. 

Things I Did Not Like
The campaign is pretty elaborate and had 12 new scenarios.  The scenarios themselves each use unique new bestiary creatures and unique terrain lay-outs.  Looking at the campaign, it would be quite an undertaking for a small gaming group to get the parts you need to play through it.  It would be a great club project though.

The campaign itself seems like it would be best to play with more advanced wizard parties.  The opponents are particularly tough.  Of course, it could also be played through with multiple wizard bands, and the rules reference this option as well.  In addition, the new rules have a way to start with more experienced wizards.  Perhaps to play through this very campaign. 

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The new rules also include a new experience table, an auto-success/failure mechanic, new scroll rules, and new ways to balance scenarios.  These all seem perfectly adequate and the new Balancing Scenario rules is something that have been needed since Frostgrave came out.  I am glad to see them added but I am unsure how successful they will be. 

The new Treasures are perfectly adequate and have some fun stuff.  The Bestiary also has some fun stuff.  My favorite might be the animated desks and bureaus.  There are even magical items that let you have these furniture constructs join your warbands.  This supplement adds more to the long list of fun treasures and magical items, including scrolls for the Pentangle magic.  However, none of it was really “needed” or add any new dimensions to the game like some of the other supplements. 

Conclusion
Well, I was a bit disappointed with this supplement.  It adds an extra layer and challenging campaign for High-Level wizard war bands.  Plus, it adds “new” wizard types and magic.  However, overall it does not add enough new elements to make it indispensable.  If I was to order the Supplements based on need, I would go with:

  1. Into the Breeding Pits
  2. Frostgrave Folio
  3. Maze of Malcor
  4. Forgotten Pacts
  5. Thaw of the LicheLord


The content that raises this above Forgotten Pacts and Thaw ofthe Liche Lord is the new rules for Treasures, the Balancing Mechanic, and the new magic/wizard types.  If you have a group committed to creating the campaign and they have experience war bands the Maze of Malcor will be a useful and fun addition for them.  If not, it is less useful but does add more Scenarios.  Scenarios are critical for a long lasting Frostgrave campaign.

If those criteria are met then this is a good buy.  If it they are not met, I would get Into the Breeding Pits or the Frostgrave Folio first. 

Note: On a related note, Northstar has come out with some great models to go along with thisrelease.  I am particularly excited by the new wizards, the new constructs, and the female soldiers plastic boxed set.  Check them out.