Monday, February 19, 2018

Wargame Design: New Wargames W.I.P. for 2018

One of my goals for 2018 was to create two new WIP games for the blog.  I also shared some of the ideas that I have been mining and working on for 2018.  One of the games I talked about was Conquest! Rome in Italy.  I am pleased to announce that a Work-in-Progress version is now available on the blog.  It will be available for a short period of time, and I am eager to get feedback on how it currently works.

This game was a challenge to build.  There were two main reasons for the challenge. 

1.       The game covers the Roman conquest of Italy from Rome’s founding to the end of the Pyrrhic Wars.  That is a range from something like 753 B.C.E. to 275 B.C.E.  We are talking 500 or so years!  During that time, the Roman military went through (at least) 3 major structural changes and all of them need to be represented in the rules even though they work very differently. 

2.       The next issue was that early Roman military history is a bit sparse for the Roman military itself, but especially for her opponents.  Much of the “history” at this time was almost mythical, especially when dealing with the Kingdom of Rome prior to becoming a Republic.  This is due to the sacking of Rome by the Gauls in 390 B.C.E. that destroyed many of the Roman records. 

In addition, ancient authors did not spend too much time discussing formations, tactics, etc.  Instead they were focused more on telling a narrative at a higher level and assumed their readers knew what they were talking about.  Since many Romans had military experience, such discussions were not relevant.  For modern readers and scholars, the lack of this detail is problematic.  We don’t know what they are talking about!

As a designer, I had to decide how to deal with this ambiguity.  Thankfully, I had the bare bones to work off of from my two related works Men of Bronze and Heirs toEmpire to help guide my efforts.  Ancient warfare has a similar vibe to it.  It is about the push of shield on shield, spear vs. sword, etc.  Morale and holding together is the key factor in success and failure.  The critical decision is how to abstract a units’ ability and the mechanics of resolution to get a somewhat historical result.

The game was intended to meet the following criteria:
1.       Focus on quick, simple game play with easy rules for combat
2.       Use resource management to represent C-and-C
3.       Streamlined unit types
4.       Close enough “historical” outcomes

For Conquest: Rome in Italy I am still unsure how to organize armies together.  In this draft, I am using units of ten bases with a leader.  The situation of being in or out of formation is critical for combat bonus and ability to absorb damage differently.  It is still focused on a closer battlefield level.  This works well for the early periods of Roman history such as the Kingdom period, Etruscan battles, and battles with local city-states.  However, once we get to the Republic and the Triplex Aceis this scale seems too small.  That means looking at unit interactions and abstracting some of the factors makes sense.  Therefore, I have not fully decided on the “scope” of the game when it comes to Unit interactions.  Hopefully, you guys can look at these rules and help me decide. 

Feel free to discuss the rules on the Messageboard here.        


The next game is an interesting set of rules for me.  Unlike most of my rules, these came to me in a dream!  Yes, I dreamed these rules and then went and wrote them down.  Why would I dream about rules?  Clearly I have problems!

Fog of War is not as polished as many of my games are.  It is functional, but was not built in PowerPoint from the ground up like most of my games.  This one was pounded out in a Word document in the heat of the moment after awaking.  In addition, it departs from my normal rules in another key way.  This game was built and designed for groups to play as opposed to 1-on-1 games.  It was designed for two teams of 3+ people per side to play and uses an Umpire.    

I have been banging my head on Horse-and-Musket style games for a long time.  I do not normally play them and have little experience with them.  However, I have been thinking about how I integrate a Muskets and Magic style game.  Therefore Horse-and-Musket have been circling in my psyche for several years.   In addition, I have been thinking about novel ways to foster team building and working together at my corporate job.  That is the elements at work in my psyche to generate Fog of War.

The game was intended to do the following:
1.       Creating a Fog of War between players on the same team
2.       Restricted communications to force clarity
3.       Simplified mechanics and resolutions for newbie players
4.       Focus on working together as a team to meet objectives
5.       Lots of friction!
6.       No specialized stuff to play- Minis not required

I expect the players of this game (My direct reports) will have no exposure to wargames; hence the need for an Umpire.  Their experience with wargames also made me want to avoid using special gear beyond dice.  Therefore all measurements are with playing cards, wounds are tracked via candy, and combat resolution is via dice.

Friction and Fog of War is integral to this game.  The entire idea is to force the team to work together on team goals with limited communication, time limits, interpretation of orders, and independent decision making where mistakes will be made.  The idea with this game is for it to be clunky and awkward as a commander to follow orders, but easy to resolve actions once committed. 

I plan on using this game with about 10 people in the dry run plus an Umpire.  If you get a chance to try it out feel free to post about it on the Messageboard.


You can find both of these games on the right hand side of the blog under the Work-in-Progress section of the blog.  I can now cross one resolution off my 2018 Goals list.    

Monday, February 12, 2018

Battle Report: Aeronautica Imperialis- Wall Breaker on Tokokai 5

Clanguard from the Irongard Expedition Fleet had successfully landed and established  forward operating bases on the surface of Tokaki 5.  From there, they prepared to assault the Ork Strongholds that sat amid the ruins of the Tokaki Clan’s mine heads.  In order to enter the mines and search for remanat so the Tokokai Clan, the Clanguard would need to push the Orks out of their settlements. 

To make matters more difficult, most of the Ork settlements were protected by crude earthen walls.  Varingyr are masters of mining and underground combat, but they lacked the numbers and equipment for a full blown siege.  Azoki Helmsward wanted this to be a quick operation to identify if Tokokai 5 was worth a full war effort of her Clan.  She was unable to bombard the walls from orbit as the wall was too close to the Tokokai Clan’s mineheads, and could unduly damage material and structures necessary for their resurgence.    

Therefore, Azoki turned once again to her mighty Warlord Airships to lead the way.  They would use their bomb loads and powerful Bombardment Cannons to blast through the Ork Curtain Wall.  However, the walls were laced with AA batteries and weaponry.  In addition, feral Ork aircraft patrolled the skies and would quickly move to intercept her Warlords.  Therefore, each airship was accompanied by an escort of fighters and strike fighters to suppress enemy aircraft and AA. 

Once the wall was breached, her ground forces could storm forward and push the Orks out of the Tokokai Clans holdings.  Once cleared, the search for her allied Clans members could begin in earnest.


Forces
Varingyr Clanguard
1 Warlord Super-Heavy Airship
-          Weapon Loads- Bombs
2 Iron Eagles
-          Additional Weapon Load- Mag-cannons
2 Strike Eagles
-          Additional Weapon Load- Rockets/Mag-cannons

Feral Ork Defenders
1 Tractor Cannon
1 Eavy Flak Cannon
2 Flak Wagons
3 Fightas
-          Additional Weapons- Rokits
1 Fighta-Bomma
1 Grot Buzza


Mission:
This is the Wallbreaker scenario from the Airspace Compilation.  In this mission a wall is set-up 10 inches in from the board edge and runs long edge to long edge.   Each section has 4 hits.    

Set-up:
The Orks have set-up their ground defenses across the line, anchored by the fearsome tractor Kannon and Eavy Flak Kannon.  The Ork aircraft are set-up in reserves as they rush to defend the wall from attack.   

The Varingyr have set-up with the Iron Eagles and Strike Eagles in a single package at the center of the board and mid-altitude and full speed.  The Warloard is deployed out to the board edge, looking to sweep in and use its broadside Bombardment Cannons on the Wall.      

Turn 1:
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
 The Iron Eagles and Strike Eagles raced in at altitude 2  and full speed straight at the wall.  Their mission was to take-out the dreaded Traktor Kannon before the Warlord got close.  That diabolical Ork weapon could take down the Warlord in 1-shot since it effected altitude and not hits.  The Warlord had plenty of hits, but no speed. 

The Ork fighters stayed in reserve since it was turn 1.

Shooting:
None

Turn 2:
Initiative: Orks

Movement:
A Grot Buzza moves into the area and proceeds towards the oncoming Varingyr craft.  Meanwhile, the Iron Eagle and Strike Eagles move to line up on the Traktor Kannon.  There is no subtlety in their approach.  The Warlord moves to come in behind them. 

Shooting:
None

Turn 3:
Initiative: Orks

Movement:
No new Ork aircraft enter the board.  However, the Grot Krews are whipped to their gun pits by Ork Runtherdz.  The Grot Buzza rolls away from the oncoming enemy, hoping to loop back in and avoid their head-to-head firepower. 

The Varingyr press ahead, ready to enter the Flak Zone.  The smaller craft split into two strike packages with a Strike and Iron Eagle respectively.  The Warlord truddles up behind  and points towards the enemy walls. 


Shooting:    
None

Turn 4:
Initiative: Orks

Movement:
The Buzza look slike he has avoided going head-to-head. 

The Varingyr are going straight down the throat of the Ork Defenders.  They are starting to wish they had spent more on Ground Defenses and less on aircraft that haven’t showed up yet!

Shooting:
The Ork Traktor Kannon took aim and fired on the Lead Strike Eagle.  With a blue-white beam, the stench of ozone, and hellacious Wumzzap! It connected on the lead Varingyr craft.  With glee the Gretchin Krew jammed the downward lever, and the Varingyr craft was whipped down into the ground and destroyed!  That was the power of the Traktor Kannon! 


The Varingyr’s second Strike Eagle opened fire on the Ork gun.  Despite a fusillade of fire, the Gretchin Krew stood by their weapon and readied it to fire again!  

The Eavy Flak Kannon also fired, but missed!


Turn 5:
Initiative: Orks

Movement:
The Buzza tried to turn back into the fight, but was far out of position.  Meanwhile, Iron Eagle 1 peeled off and turned to chase the Grot down.  Another Ork Fighta showed up and sped in over the wall to disrupt the Varingyr attack, but the enemy aircraft swooped out of his field of fire and closed in on the Flak gun to the side of the wall.  The Warlord followed themto avoid the Traktor Kannon  and prepped the Barrage Cannons.    

Shooting:
The Flak Gun saw the incoming Strike Eagle and opened fire.  The shells raced up and pattered ont eh Varingyr craft causing it to blow smoke!  Despite the barrage, the Strike Eagle returns fire with its last rockets and blasts the gun emplacement apart!  The point of attack on the wall is now clear. 

The Eavy Flak Kannon fires on the huge Warlord, but misses.  The Traktor Kannon fires on Iron Eagle 2, but misses.

The Warlord chooses to hold off on firing as it closes the distance. 


Turn 6:
Initiative: Orks   

Movement:
Two more Ork fightas show up and race straight at the Warlord, who slowly moves towards the target.   Fighta 3 also tries to swing in on the big ship. 

Buzza tries to circle back, but Iron Eagle 1 gets on his tail.  Iron Eagle 2 just flashes beneath the approaching Orks, and Strike Eagle 1 turns into the, and goes beneath them.

The Warlord looks like it is in position to destroy the wall. 

Shooting:
Fighta 1 and 2 are too close for Rokits.  The two fighta’s pilots try for sustained bursts but fail.  In addition, their close range shooting does not scratch the paint on the Warlord.  The Eavy Flak Kannon also fails t stop the big ship. 

Iron Eagle 1 fires on the Buzza, but fails to bring it down.  The Warlord unloads its Barrage Cannon at close range and simply decimates that section of the wall.  The Wall has been penetrated, and the Varingyr have won the battle. 


Turn 7- Disengagement Turn
Initiative: Orks

Tailing Fire: Iron Eagle 1 misses the Buzza. 

Movement:
For the most part, the Orks and Varingyr are happy to disengage without further conflict.

Shooting:
The Eavy Flak Kannon hits the Warlord for 1 point of damage.  As it departs, the Warlord drops her bombs on a section of the wall, but fail to destroy it. 

Conclusion:
Hmmm, the Super-Heavy bomber had no problems getting through and destroying the wall.  The only set back was the traktor Kannon taking out a Strike Eagle.  I knew that thing would be trouble.  I wanted to get in a position where the Barrage Cannons could really pound the wall, but the failure to destroy the Traktor Kannon forced me to go out wider than I wanted. 

Looking at the Scenario, the enemy aircraft should not be in reserve as by the time they show up, it is all over but the crying.  The Defender should really stock up on more ground defenses but that might not even be enough to stop a Harbinger or similarly sized enemy craft.  This scenario would be more interesting against a swarm of strike fighters and smaller bombers instead. 

Victory for the Varingyr leads them to….


…. Pitched battle scenario.  I will need to use Strike Eagles here as well.  Perhaps I will use the same board set-up as well to represent the Varingyr trying to force the wall?    

The Vox crackled to life....

"Target Breached.  Retunring to Base."

The War Council let out a cheer aboard Azuki's Helmward's flagship.  They relayed the report back down to the Clanguard on Tokokai 5's surface.  Almost immediately, Varingyr armored forces began to roll out towards the Ork positions.  Iron Eagle and other aircraft dusted off to support the attack. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Battle Report: Aeronautica Imperialis- Drop Intercept on Tokokai 5

After the failure of the Varingyr’s recon attempts on Tokokai 5, Azuki Helmsward of the Highguard reassessed her War Council’s strategy.  Her people had come from Irongard to assess if her Clan’s old allies were still hidden deep within their buried mine heads.  On arrival, the Irongard forces soon realized that the planet’s surface was now populated by feral orks.  The greenskins lacked the necessary technology to attack the Varingyr fleet in orbit, but they could harass air operations and be a nuisance on the ground. 

Further analysis found that the greenskin hovels had been built amongst the ruins of the Tokokai Clans’ surface settlements.  Therefore, they could not simply be bombarded into dust as that would also potentially ruin the only way to reach the Tokokai’s below ground strongholds.

After the failure of the Recon forces attempt to locate hidden entrances, there was only one way forward.  Troops would need to be landed and the Orks pushed out.  The Varingyr War Council therefore reviewed the planetary scans, the historical records, and other data to try to locate the best way forward to reclaim the mine heads and enter the stronghold of the Tokokai Clans. 

The Clanguard began to prepare for the inevitable ground landing.  The ranks of the Clanguard dutifully loaded into the Overlords, Warlord, and the Strike Eagles.  Then, the space fleet dropped into low orbit and began to deploy their assault forces.  Not surprisingly, Ork aircraft moved to attack them.  That was the way of the Flayer-kin, always attack.   

      

Forces
Varingyr Clanguard Combat Drop
1 Warlord Super-Heavy Airship
2 Iron Eagles
-          Additional Weapon Load

Feral Ork Defenders
1 Grot Buzza
3 Ork Fighta
2 Fighta-Bomma
1 Dakkajet

Mission:
Per the Campaign Tree, this will be a Drop Intercept mission.  The Varingyr are trying to land their transports within a 12 by 12 square in the center of the table.  The Orks are trying to stop them from landing.  Technically, the Varingyr do not have any Orbital Landers.  However, for this mission we will use the Warlord Airship as the Lander.   

Set-up:
We deployed several rocks across my brown wasteland looking table cover.  As usual, the rocks are 1 Altitude high per level.  Therefore, if a plane comes in contact with these terrain features but isn’t high enough up they could crash with a failed Pilot Check.  Last game, terrain played a major role. 

We placed the 4 markers to map out the corners of the 12 inch by 12 inch square landing/drop zone. 

The Varingyr deployed on a short board edge at altitude 9 and max speed per the rules of the scenario.  They are coming in hot, with the Warlord planning to land in the Drop Zone.  The Warlord is towards the left of the board edge, and the Iron Eagles are heading straight on. 

The Orks are clumped up at low and mid altitude and looking to swarm over the Landing Zone to stop the Varingyr from landing. 


Turn 1:
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
The Iron Eagles turn to the right and drop altitude to avoid going head-to-head with the incoming Ork aircraft.  For their part, the Orks spread out to cover the board at various altitudes.  The Warlord power dives right to make the approach to the drop zone.

Shooting:
None.  No one is in range.


Turn 2:
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
The Varingyr continue their descent.  They are closing into engagement altitude at 3, where many of the Ork planes are in the same height.  However, the Orks have fanned out across the board, while the Iron Eagles are on the far right. 

Shooting:
None.  Everyone is still out of range.
 

Turn 3:
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
The Warlord is lined up on target, and drops to altitude 1.  Now, he just needs to slow enough to land!  Meanwhile, the Orks press in to attack, with a few going straight at the Zeppelin.  The Iron Eagles try to swoop in from the side to engage, but the Dakkajet gets the drop on Iron Eagle 2. 

Shooting:
The Warlord’s limited forward firepower fires on the incoming Fighta 3 but fails to scratch it.  The Ork pilot returns the favor, but hits only armored plate.  Fighta-Bomma 2 joins in and causes a single hit!  Only 14 more to go!  

The Dakkajet also peppers Iron Eagle 2 and causes him to blow smoke. 


Turn 4:
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
The Warlord sets up to land next turn unless the Orks can stop him.  As a result, the Ork aircraft swarm into the landing zone.  Fighta 3 and Fighta-Bomma 2 manage to get into a tailing position on the Warlord.  Iron Eagle 1 looks like he has a shot on Fighta-Bomma 1. 

Shooting:
The Warlord lights up the sky with its broadsides firing all across the sky at the swarming Ork fightas.  Despite the Mag-cannon point defenses firing like mad, only the Dakkajet starts smoking. 

The Warlord takes a pounding from Ork Aircraft has it is reduced from 14 hits to 9 hits.  However, it was lucky as attempts at Sustained Bursts largely failed.  The Warlord only needs to weather the two Trailing fightas barrage to land!

Iron Eagle 1 fails to find the target of Fighta-Bomma 1 due to range.


Turn 5:
Initiative:  Orks

Tailing Fire:
Fighta 3 fails to Sustain Burst, but peppers the Warlord.  Three hits are knocked away by the ships armored plates.  Fighta-Bomma 2 does get a sustained Burst and fires with 12 dice at the same altitude.  This is it!  2 Hits strike home, but it is not enough to down the Super-Heavy airship. 

Movement:
The ork aircraft all try desperately to wing over or Half-loop to stay with the main target.  However, most are out of position despite swarming the landing zone.  The Iron Eagles spiral to get in and try to get targets of opportunity.  Meanwhile, the Warlord gently lands and begins to unload her cargo. 

Shooting:
Fighta-Booma 2 fires on Iron Eagle 1.  The spray of bullets swats the Iron Eagle from the sky!  The Ork plane is out of ammo and will need to return to base to re-arm.   

 Iron Eagle 2 misses the Dakkajet.  The Dakkajet then strafes the landed Warlord causing point of damage.   


Turn 6- Disengagement Turn
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
Iron Eagle 2 decides to gain altitude and bug-out. 

Meanwhile, the Orks try to get in position to strafe.  In the chaos, two Ork aircraft actually crash into the ground by choosing the wrong maneuver!  They wing-over into the ground.  The pilot of the Fighta-Bomma 1 walks away feeling a bit follish, while the pilot of the Dakkajet was decapitated in the crash.  Woops!

Shooting:
Fighta 3 and the Buzza try to strafe the landed airship, and manage to take 2 more hits off of it.  Still not enough to take out the Super-Heavy airship!  Return fire from the landed airship is ineffective.


Conclusion:
The Clanguard quickly set-up a perimeter of Multi-launchers to dissuade additional air attacks.  A few initial bursts cause the swarming Orks to break-off and return to base.  The unloading process continues and the skeleton of a defensive perimeter and a forward operating base begin to take shape in minutes.  The Varingyr are on the ground.  Soon, follow-on forces in Drop Egles begin to descend on the base to bulk up its strength.

Well, the slow movement of the Warlord was a big asset in this Drop Intercept.  I was not too worried about over-shooting the target zone since the Warlord was nice and slow.  However, its own point defenses were next to useless in this battle and the Iron Eagle support ships were too far outnumbered to be a factor.  The Orks lost more aircraft to bad flying than anything else. 

Now onto the next battle….



…. It looks like it will be a Wall breaker mission.  That is one I really wanted to play!  Look out for Warlord action soon! 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Battle Report: Heirs to Empire- Forced Crossing in the First War of the Diadochi

Heirs to Empire is a game set in the era of the Diadochi.  This is the time when Alexander’s generals squabbled over the remains of the Empire after Alexander’s death.  This rule set tries to capture the feel of commanding armies in this time period so the scale is an army/battle scale game.  That said it is miniature agnostic and units are abstracted in the gameplay.  Instead, it focuses on the interactions of troops types working together and using the Commander’s Gaze to influence the flow of the battle. 

Eumenes had once been the secretary of Alexander himself.  He was not Macedonian, but his position provided him great privilege and respect amongst the troops.  He was a well-known general in his own right. 

After Ptolemy stole Alexander’s body and spirited it to Egypt; The Regent Perdiccas organized an expedition to punish the upstart Diadochi.  He gathered an army and marched towards the Nile.  Perdiccas charged Eumenes with protecting Asia Minor from the greedy Antipater and Craterus from attacking out of Macedon and Greece.  To aid him, Perdiccas placed Neoptolemus the Satrap of Armenia under Eumenes’ command.

However, Neoptolemus had his own ideas.  Instead, he had sided with Antipater and Craterus.  Instead of joining Eumenes, he intended to attack him.  Eumenes learned of the Satraps plan and marched his army out to punish the upstart.  The battle for Alexander’s empire was about to begin.     

This is a re-fight of a previous battle while I was playtesting the rules.  However, the last time I played I had no scenarios and it was simply a set-piece battle.  Since then, I have built a new set of scenarios and a campaign system for the game. 

Forces:

Eumenes of Cardia
Center:
Silver Shields- General
Bronze Shields
2 Thureophoroi

Left Wing:
Companion Cavalry- General: Eumenes

Right Wing:
Epilektoi Cavalry- General

54 Points

Neoptolemus, Satrap of Armenia
Center
1 Bronze Shield- General
2 White Shields

Left Wing:
1 Asphract (Javelins)
1 Epilektoi- General: Neoptolemus

Right Wing:
1 Asphract (Javelins)- General
1 Archer                              

54 Points

Mission:
Today’s battle will be a Forced Crossing where Eumenes is the attacker.  He is attempting to get up to 10+ points of his army off the opposite board edge past Neoptolemus’ troops.  If he does so in 8 turns then Eumenes wins.    

Set-up:
Today we are using a 6x4 table.  It is set-up as the steppe of Turkey.  Historically, Neoptolemus was supposed to support Eumenes in the defense of Asia Minor from invaders from Macedon.  Instead, he turned to Antipater and Craterus in Macedon.  In response, Eumenes marched to face the Satrap.  Today’s battle is to represent Eumenes trying to move to his stronghold in Asia Minor, not 100% aware that Neoptolemus is no longer on his side. 

The center is relatively flat and open, and good place for Phalanx combat.  The North has a series of rocky hills to block LOS and make movement more difficult.  The South flank has an oasis.  This will also serve to hinder or block movement.       

At this point, it is more likely that the Silver Shields would have been deployed with Perdiccas in Egypt.  However, to avoid confusion I am placing them with Eumenes, the commander they followed after Perdiccas’ death.  In addition, Thureophoroi were probably not developed until a later date, but they serve essentially the same role as Hypaspists in Alexander’s army with slightly different gear.  Therefore I am using them here to represent the Hypaspists likely found in Eumenes army instead.  Beyond these details little is known about the actual composition of either army historically.

Turn 1:
To start, each wing of the army rolled to determine their Commander’s Gaze.  Eumenes had 9 points, to Neoptolemus’ 6.  Neither side bid for the initiative, so they rolled off.  Neoptolemus won.

Neoptolmus’ army slowly moved forward, waiting to see if Eumenes would try to interrupt.  He did not.  The Satrap of Armenia’s forces maintained the line waiting to see what Eumenes would try to do. 

Eumenes army also moved forward, with the cavalry wings using Commander’s Gaze to break into Open Order, but staying in the battle line.  This would allow them to maneuver freely when the right time arrived, and reform if needed using Commander’s Gaze. 



Turn 2:
This time, Neoptolemus has the advantage in Commander’s Gaze, and uses it to bid 2 for initiative.  Eumenes bids 0. 

The center of Neoptolemus’ army moves forward, with a Phalanx of White Shields hanging slightly back to act as a reserve infantry force.  The Right flank also moves up to support the advancing Bronze Shields.  Meanwhile, on the Left the Javelin Asphracts break into open order and move to the flank.  Neoptolemus keeps his Epilektoi Cavalry close to the main battle line.  He is hoping to hem and possible turn the flank of Eumenes’ force.

Eumenes again let’s the Satrap move without trying to interrupt.  Instead, he sends his open order left wing cavalry scurrying towards the oasis.  His Companion Cavalry cuts across the front of the main battle line, and uses a Commander’s gaze to re-form.  Meanwhile, the Phalanx moves up behind the cavalry scramble.

Turn 3:
Neoptolemus has 9 Commander’s Gaze to 8 for Eumenes.  He decides to bid 1 for initiative to try to counter the former Secretary’s moves.  Eumenes bids 0. 

Neoptolemus moves his javelin Asphract cavalry to the center and has them reform as they run parallel to the enemies’ Companion Cavalry.  He attempts to Move and Shoot with them, but is disappointed to find he is out of range!  Seeing this, Eumenes decides not to interrupt.  The Epilektoi Cavalry of the Satrap moves up to stay in command radius of the light horseman. 

On Neoptolemus’ right, the Asphract lancer cavalry declare a charge and rush into the Open Order Epilektoi Cavalry of Eumenes.  It is a desperate delaying tactic with the hope that the Open Order of the heavier cavalry will be their undoing.  Eumenes can not react with a Counter-charge as the unit is in Open Order and hence considered “Disordered”.  They can not use Special Rules.  This leaves the Archers disordered as they are out of command range of the Satrap’s right flank general.

In the ensuing melee, the Asphract lose 3 Courage, while the Epilektoi take 1.  Both unit’s used their remaining Commander’s Gaze to re-roll failed attack dice.  The Asphract’s have become disordered and pushed back 2 basewidths by the Epilektoi of Eumenes. 

Neoptolemus’ Bronze Shields and Archers turn to support the flank, while the White Shields form up a solid battle line in the middle. 

Eumenes waits as the flank fight unfolds and lets Neoptolemus show his responses.  Eumenes then continues to move past the front of the enemy lines with his Companion Cavalry, making for the opposite flank edge.  His main battle line moves forward to engage and pin the Satrap’s forces.  Then, his right most Thureophori charge the nearby Javelin Asphract and catch them in the flank.  However, the Asphract declare an Evade, and the infantry decide to try and pursue.  The light troops fail to catch the horseman. 



Turn 4:
Eumenes bids 3 Gaze to 3 to win initiative.  He is half way to his time limit to achieve the objective.  He rallies his Epilektoi Cavalry and reforms them.  They then press the attack to rout the enemy light cavalry.  The Epilektoi take one more Courage hit, but the Asphract cavalry are put to rout and turned around as they are pushed back three base widths.  The Epilektoi pass their Discipline Check and stay Ordered. 

Neoptolemus spends a point to try to interrupt, but fails the roll-off and Eumenes continues to activate units.  The Companian Cavalry continues to run past the flank of Neoptolemus’ army.  Meanwhile, the core units move forward to pin the rest of the force.  The Thureophoroi throw their Javelins at the Archers and Javelin Asphract respectively.  One requires the use of a Commander’s Gaze to Move and shoot.  The Archers lose 3 Courage and are disorderd, and the Javelin Asphract lose 1 and are disordered. 

Things do not look good for Neoptolemus’ army.  The archers turn and fire on the Epilektoi Cavalry to try and break them.  They reduce them a further 1 Courage, they have 1 left.  In desperation, the Bronze Shields use a Commander’s Gaze to charge the Thureophoroi threatening the archers while Neoptolemus’ and his Epilektoi charge into the other light infantry unit.  The Javelin Asphract’s race across the center of the board to try and get in range to finish off the Epilektoi of Eumenes. 

The Bronze Shields reduce their foes two Courage and Disorder them after a failed discipline check.  However, they take 1 Courage loss in return.  The battle is pushed back 2 basewidths.  


Turn 5:
Both Eumenes and Neoptolemus bid 4 Commander’s Gaze for Initiative.  Neither had anymore to up the bid, so it goes to a roll off.  Neoptolemus wins! 

The Archers fire on the Epilektoi Cavalry and get 1 hit.  With armor two, it is not enough to rout them.  In desperation, the Javelin Asphract move into them.  Both units are routed in the ensuing melee. 

From there, the two White Shields charge into the Bronze and Silver Shields of Eumenes army respectively.  The Epilektoi and White Shields trade hits with the Theurophoroi, Silver Shields, and Bronze Shields respectively.  However, Neoptolemus’ Bronze Shields put Eumenes’ Theurophoroi on the center left to rout. 

Eumenes and the Companion Cavalry head for the board edge. 


Turn 6:
Neoptolemus sees that he can not stop Eumenes and his Companion Cavalry from escaping past his troops and to the baggage train behind.  He bids 0 Commander’s Gaze while Eumenes bids 1.  

This allows Eumenes to get to the board edge with his Companion Cavalry.  With this, Neoptolemuus signals the withdrawal and he and his Epilektoi Cavalry flee the field. 

Conclusion:
Eumenes wins again, and Neoptolemus escapes with his life.  This is a rather historical outcome as well.  We know few details of the battle except that Eumenes won.  If we look at other Successor battles, they were frequently won or lost when one side managed to get past the other army and into the rear area.  That is what happened here.

Both sides took a beating in this battle.  If it would have continued, the White Shields would have eventually fallen to the better Eumenes’ phalanx.  It is doubtful that Neoptolemus’ Bronze Shields could have maneuvered back around to support their fellows in a timely way.  However, the Theurophoroi of Eumenes would have been routed by then as well, and the freed up cavalry could have led a successful flank attack.  However, by then Neoptolemus’ baggage would have been in Eumenes’ hands too. 

Cavalry is underwhelming as an offensive weapon in this game.  That is by design as they were considered an ancillary part of the fighting in Successor warfare.  Shooting can weaken an enemy unit quickly, but is unlikely to finish them.  Phalanx units can take pusnishment and stick like no other units.  The new Open Order ability with cavalry and light units worked as intended and allowed them to maneuver more freely.  Finally, the scenario seemed winnable by either side in the time frame allowed.  So, I guess it is working as intended. 


After his defeat at the hands of Eumenes, Neoptolemus fled to his ally Craterus.  The allied Successor’s once again marched across the Dardanelles and into Anatolia intent on facing Eumenes.  The campaign for Turkey was not over.      

Monday, January 22, 2018

Battle Report: Aeronautica Imperialis- In Search of the Ancestors

The Belt of Varin is a forbidding place in the Galactic Core.  There ancient stars fade and die circled by blasted rocks or frozen ice worlds.  It is a forbidding place filled with black holes, Nuetron Stars, Quasars, and Nova.  It is vast and desolate, with system upon system of blasted, unlivable rock where the Astronimicon is weak and navigation is difficult at best.  Few wish to dwell within it.
 
Despite its foreboding nature, the Belt of Varin was once the home of a thriving space empire, one that fell to treachery, oath breaking, and genetic corruption.  The people of Varin, Varingyr; have once again begun to emerge from their buried strongholds to venture and reclaim what was once theirs. 

Tentatively, individual strongholds have begun to reach out to their fellow Varingyr across the Belt. 
In addition to the natural dangers of the Belt; other inimical foes also lurk there.  The ancient enemy, the Orks; who have spread like a cancer across the old Strongholds.  Their spores finding root in the abandoned hab-domes and hydro-farms.  Human scavengers have also descended on the barren bones of the Varingyr’s once mighty empire under the banner of the Rogue Trader houses.  However, the most dangerous enemy of all is the Oathbreakers and Kinslayers; those who are no longer the people of Varin, but the descendants of the Great Patriarch.  As the true people of Varin return to their old homelands they have discovered them over-run by these scum and squatters.

It is just such a reclamation mission that brings Azuki Helmsward, Highguard of Irongard and her forces to a planet Designated: Tokokai 5.  Directed by her Thane and Kinsman Ako Helmsward; Thane of Irongard she has been sent to ascertain if the Tokokai Mineheads were still viable.  The Tokokai Clan had once been loyal vassals to the throne of Irongard.  Thane Helmsward hoped her people were still there, hidden in the mineheads deep below the planet’s surface. 

 However, as Azuki’s fleet approached the Highguard realized that the planet had been infested by the Flayer-Kin; orks.  That did not mean that the Tokokai Mines had been breached, but the barely livable surface was now crawling with the feral creatures.  Thankfully, the Orks of Tokokai 5 were relatively primitive and could not oppose her in space.  However, their ramshackle aircraft cruised the skies, their battlewagons rumbled across the surface, and their crude towns scarred the rocky landscape. 

Azuki’s first instincts were to orbitally bombard the Orks savage settlements.  However, she was given pause.  It was unclear how much they had been built upon the foundations of the Tokokai Clans holdings.  She could not simply bombard them without risking angering the ancestors of her vassal clansman.  Such an act would be a great dishonor to the Oaths they had sworn millennia ago.  In addition, she was unsure if the Tokokai Clan still persisted beneath the surface, hidden away from the surface that was awash with Orks.  She needed to know more. 

Azoki called her War Council, and the Highguard came to attend her and advise as was their duty.  In the great council, Azoki heard wisdom.  She accented to the wishes of the Engineer’s Guild and deployed recon patrols of Clanguard Spy Eagles to the surface of Tokokai 5 to gather intelligence on the fate of her Clans’ vassals. 


Forces
Varingyr Clanguard Recon Patrol
3 Iron Eagles
+ Weapon Load- Mag Cannons
1 Spy Eagle

Feral Ork Defenders
3 Ork Fighta
1 Fighta-Bomma

Mission:
This was going to be a Recon Sweep Scenario.  We rolled up 4 targets to be identified and scanned.  The Varingry were trying to identify the targets while the Orks attempted to drive them off. 

This was going to be the first battle in the Ork vs. Varingyr tree campaign I outlined in a previous post.  I am hoping to get to use the fearsome Warlord airship at some point in the campaign, but I would also settle for a few good games.  Here is the Tree Campaign Outline. 

Set-up:
We deployed several rocks across my brown wasteland looking table cover.  As usual, the rocks are 1 Altitude high per level.  I also placed an old Necromunda tower to act as ancient wreckage from the Tokokai Clan rule of the planet.  It is 6 Altitude high.  Therefore, if a plane comes in contact with these terrain features but isn’t high enough up they could crash with a failed Pilot Check. 

We placed the 4 markers fairly evenly near the rocks in the center of the board.  These would be the objectives and some of them would be a tight fit to reach. 

The Varingyr came in at low altitude and at max speed, which was a whopping five!  The two lead Iron Eagles were paired, and the third was partnered with the Spy Eagle.  The Orks were at mid-altitude and clustered to the south side of the board closer to the ruins.  They were all going about speed 5. 

Turn 1:
Initiative: Varingyr       

Movement:
The Iron Eagles race forward to meet the oncoming Ork craft and possible reveal some targets.  The Spy Eagle breaks-off and approaches the first marker.  The Orks also rush ahead, the bulk of them are going to skim the ruins, while Fighta 3 breaks out a bit wider to go around them. 

 Shooting:
No one was in range as they raced to meet each other.  However, the Spy Eagles sensors revealed that the closest objective was not a point of interest.

   

Turn 2:
Initiative: Varingyr

Move:
The lead Varingry force makes a high-G turn to run parallel to the oncoming Ork fightas.  Meanwhile, the Fighta-Bomma side slips to cover one of the markers, while the other two fightas move straight.  The last one heading out wide manages to turn casually towards the Varingyr fleet and may have some long range shots.   

Shooting:
After checking, Ork Fighta 4 does not have the range yet. 


Turn 3:
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
The Lead Iron Eagle moves to view the next target area, but it is close to a high cliff and the angle will make it hard for him to avoid it next turn.  Meanwhile, the Fighta-bomba breaks back towards the action to chase down the low flying Varingyr aircraft. 

The Spy Eagle follows the lead aircraft, ready to snap a photo if needed of the vital target.  Ork Fightas 2 and 3 turn into the action, while Varingyr 3 and 4 also turn in.  Both of these groups are still at higher altitude, and the Orks may have a shot at them as they close in. 

Meanwhile, Ork Fighta 3 is heading straight for the Varingyr  However, he can not slow down fast enough and over shoots the enemy gyro-copters. 

Shooting:
The Lead Iron Eagle’s gunner eyeballs the target area and realizes it is just a bunch of sand and rock.  There waa nothing of value there.  He quickly communicates it back to the Spy Eagle and prepares to eject if they can’t clear the cliff. 

Fighta 2 opens fire on Iron Eagle 1 and causes him to blow smoke. 


Turn 4:
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
The Spy Eagle skirts around the back of the cliff to avoid incoming Orks, but Fighta 2 is in hot pursuit, even if he is still too high.  Fighta-Bomma 1 is also closing in at the same low altitude 1.  Iron Eagle 1 and 2 disengage from the furball and begin to heads towards the next marker while all the orks appear to be focused on the Spy Eagle.

Embarrassingly, Iron Eagle 3 crashes into the cliff they just eye-balled.  Luckily, the crew managed to eject in time.   I can only lose 1 more aircraft.  


Shooting:
None

Turn 5:
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
Iron Eagle 1 and 2 race towards the next objective, and 1 tries to swoop low enough to get a good visual.  He is still a bit too high, as his wingman stays high to cover him from the incoming Fighta 4.  The Spy Eagle tries to break for the second objective at low altitude, but Ork aircraft are all over him.  Fighta 3 is behind, but too high.  The Fighta-Bomma foolishly swoops in front of him.  Fighta 2 makes a dangerous Power-dive and barely misses splattering himself on a cliff wall. 

Shooting:
The Spy Eagles opens fire on the Foghta-Bomma with his Mag-cannons but misses.  He also fails to get a clean pict-cap of the swooping aircraft.  The Grot ball-gunner in the Fighta-bomma tries to turn and fire, but he does not have the angle.      

Fighta 4 opens fire at Iron Eagle 2, but misses.


Turn 6:
Initiative: Orks

Movement:
Iron Eagle 1 can not drop and slow down enough and vastly overshoots the target area.  He is in danger of disengaging next turn.  Fighta 4 follows, and dives after, but will still have time to break off the attack.  Iron Eagle 2 tried to spiral back on the fighta, but underestimated the Ork pilots speed. 

Meanwhile, the Spy Eagle is doing some fancy flying as he moves to shoot the altitude two gap int eh tall ruins.  It looks like he can make it without hitting anything.  Fighta 3 gapes in amazement, while Fighta 2 say “Hold my Fungus Brew and watch this!” as they give chase.  Fighta 2 overshoots and smashes into the gantries and explodes, however he ejected in time.  The Fighta-Bomma is sticking right with the Spy Eagle. 

Shooting:
The Fighta-Bomma opens fire right on the Spy Eagles tail.  There is no room to maneuver and the gyro-copter is blasted apart.  The pilot has no room to eject and goes down with the craft.
 

Turn 7- Disengagement Turn
Initiative: Varingyr

Movement:
Iron Eagle 1 hears the Spy Eagle go down, and decides to head home.  He bugs out off the board trailing smoke.  Fighta 4 follows, but breaks-off to head back to base.  Iron Eagle 2 goes the hard deck and heads away from  Ork territory.  Fighta 3 just flies straight to see if any of his Ork buddies make it through the gantry.  Fighta-Bomma one savors his kill for a milli-second as he smashes into the gantry along the side and shears his wing off.  His plane crashes spectacularly.  However, the Ork pilot manages to walk away from the crash with a huge grin.

Shooting:
None


Conclusion:
The Recon missions on Tokokai proved to be costly for the Varingyr, with many of the recon craft not returning.  Their mission to locate entrances or mineheads of their fellow Varingyr was a failure.  Worse, the Orks now knew of their presence, and it would make it harder to surprise them.  The only way forward would be to land troops on the surface and establish forward operating bases to scout the area.  That was a dangerous escalation for a planet that may not even be salvageable.  The Highguard turned to her War Council and they began to prepare for the landings.       

The Varingyr failed to observe all of their objectives, but the cost in aircraft was about even.  Two lost a piece.  When I went to move the Spy Eagle through the ruins I was sure I had lined it up perfectly.  I didn’t expect the Orks to try and chase me.  Instead, it turned into something out of a movie as they did not give up.  All in all, some crap flying all around as we both crashed or almost crashed into terrain during this battle.  I guess my regular opponent and I need to knock the Aeronautica Imperialis rust off since we haven’t played in a while.  

If you look at our Campaign Map, you can see the Varingyr lost the first battle.  That means….



…. We are onto the Drop Intercept mission.  Maybe I should bust out my Warlord for this one? 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Match Report: Blood Bowl- Exhbition Re-match: Reeverz v. Nobles

My daughter and I pulled out the Blood Bowl board and played another exhibition match between the Orks and Humans from the Boxset.  This time, we gave each team two re-rolls and decided to use the Ork side of the board.  Last time, she bested me by a TD.  I took the Nobles again and she took the Orks.  We also have a Khemri, Skaven, and Chaos team for out games, but decide to go with the box again.  Sadly, I didn’t document this game as closely as the last one, but I have enough of the flavor below.   

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Lord Summervale: Now, our CabalVision VI coverage of Blood Bowl post-NAF takes us to the Deep North League- Southern Regional Conference match-up.  This was exhibition play between the Skulsmash Reverz and the Nottingham Nobles.  This time, the action took place at the beloved Freeboota Field, home of the Skulsmash Reeverz. 


The Nottingham Nobles started with the ball, but deep penetration by Skullsmash Reeverz Blitzer Ruck-Ruck forced the Nobles to scramble deep in their own territory.  However, the first line Thrower Rick Priestley managed to dump it off to their catcher Gav Thorpe to push out of Nobles territory. 

Mad Johan: It was a pretty gutsy move by Priestley to dump the ball to a catcher on his side of the field, but it relieved the pressure and potential quick score by the Reeverz.


Lord Summervale: However, things devolved quickly as the Ork defense smashed the Nobles line and kept the ball around mid-field through the first half.  The Reeverz line play was punishing as multiple Nobles players were knocked out of the game.  At one point, in the first half they had more men in the Dug-out than on the field! 


Mad Johan: The Nobles kicked it to the Reeverz to start the second half, and things did not get much better for the Nobles.  They started without a full team on the field. 

Lord Summervale: The orks just kept up the relentless pounding, and soon the Nobles were down to only 5 players on the pitch.  Despite some desperate plays and passes, the Nobles just could not get any offense going.

Mad Johan: They did manage to shell out some payback, but not nearly enough against those heavily armored Ork lineman. 

Lord Summervale: The Skulsmash Reever offense just wore downt he Nobles to so few players that the back-up Thrower Runthugga was able to walk the ball into the end zone late in the second half.


Lord Summervale: In the last two meetings of these teams, the Reeverz have managed to come away victorious in their last two exhibition matches.  The Orks look like they might have a decent team in the conference.  I am sure the other teams in the League are watching this exhibition matches very carefully before this year’s season kicks-off for real. 


Now, let’s go take a closer looker at the Deep North League’s Northern Conference, there we see…..