Monday, October 21, 2019

On the Painting Desk- Greeks and Macedonians

If you are a consistent reader of mine, you will recall my goal to finish building a Spartan, Corinthian, and Macedonian army for Men for Bronze in 2019

One advantage of Menof Bronze in my mind is that it uses relatively “small” model numbers to represent mass battles.  Therefore, you can re-fight some famous historical battles but only use 3-8 units.  That is about 30 to 80 models at 28mm scale.  I am a slow painter, but even I think I manage and army or two at that size.  Your average army typically has about 50 models or so of 28mm.  Of course, the game is model and scale agnostic, so you can make it bigger or smaller if you want.  Part of me wants to make a 6mm army where each unit is on 40 x 40 mm bases and each unit is 10 bases.  That would give the “proper” mass battle feel to the rules! 

However, for now I will settle for 28 MM models from Victrix to bulk out my forces.  I have been working on the Macedonians, while my colleague Mr. Nick Heckel; has been working on the Spartan army.  Mr. Heckel painted all the models in the book while I feebly tried to photograph them.  If you have the book, you can see is a much better painter than I am.    


Anyway, if you look at the sample Spartan Army in the book, you will find that it is composed of 2 Elite Hoplite units, a Drilled hoplite unit, and 2 Psiloi to represent helots and javelin men.  That is an army of 50 models.  Mr. Heckel all ready painted 1 Elite Hoplite unit in the past.  He has been working on the Psiloi to go with them. 

Psiloi are lightly armed and armored, but they do have the ability to throw javelins.  They are cheap and are a great way to spend a couple points and bulk out the flanks of your units.  They are great at harassing attacks, moving quickly through terrain, and launching flank or rear attacks on engaged targets.  They can also bulk out a battle line and provide a few additional Arete Points for critical moments.



For my part, I have been working on the Macedonian forces.  The sample army list in the book has two units of Pikeman, a unit of light hoplites, and a Heavy Cavalry unit.  That is about 50 models as well.  I like to make my Macedonian Pike blocks 15 models to give them some extra weight and represent their staying power a bit better.  Mr. Heckel also painted a pike block for the book.


So, that means I had 1 more Pike unit, a light hoplite unit, and Heavy Cavalry unit to build and paint.  I used Victrix miniatures for all my Macedonians.  I decided to start with the Hypasists.  The first thing I did was build my Light Hoplites and Pikeman sans shields. 


From there, I did a test paint for the Corinthian army of the hoplite units using cheap craft paints from my local big box retailer.  I had used these paints successfully on several Blood Bowl teams.  I was hoping to get a successful finish on these Corinthians cheaply and easily…..


…. But I was not pleased with how they turned out.  I invested in a nice, big set of Army Painter paints since the cheap craft paints were not up to the task. 

Now, properly armed with actual miniature paints, I attacked the Hypaspists next….


As you can see, they progressed and eventually turned out just fine.  I still need to figure out the basing, but overall I am happy with them.  This was my first time using shield transfers from Little Big Man Studios.  I am happy with how they turned out and only really had 1 that was a complete mess up that I had to redo.  Therefore, I would say they are easy to use and provide some nice results. 

I also have started painting the 30 Phalangites for the pike blocks.  I have not gotten that far yet, but you can see WIP.  These two blocks of soldiers were a daunting task, but they have gone together and painted up fairly easily.  These Victrix models are painter friendly with clear break points and detail that are forgiving for a unskilled painter like myself.


The Heavy Cavalry are still waiting patiently in the bag.  However, I will hopefully have them all painted up and done before the New Year.  To be honest, painting 10 horses scares me!  I never did do much horse painting before!  

So, onward and upward!  




Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: Burrows and Badgers- Osprey Games

I recently got a large order of Osprey Game rules in the mail.  They included titles from the main range of wargames as I am all up-to-date on the Osprey Wargaming Series.  I picked up a wide variety of titles and genres intent on letting my family decide what skirmish game they wanted to try next.  I let them look through the various titles, page through the books, I gave them a quick synopsis of the rules, etc.  At the end of the day, the decision for the next campaign was unanimous.  The winner was….



…. I guess the idea of playing Redwall-esque anthropomorphic animals in a fantasy setting was too much for them.   Therefore, I sat down and decided to give the game a good read through and I figured I might as well give the game the old Blood and Spectacles review in the process.  After all, if my family has their way we will be seeing plenty of this game soon. 

Now, into Northymbria we go…… 

Things I Liked
The characters in this game choose an action to complete.  However, the interesting thing to me is that none of these actions are move.  Instead, moving is built into each action as part of the action.  Therefore, a fight action includes moving, a sprint action includes moving more than a fight action.  Etc.  This is pretty clever, because 9 out of 10 times a player just chooses to move as fast so possible around the board so a Move action is almost never used and is a waste of space in the rules.  Very nifty idea. 

In addition, the game uses animals of various sizes, with base size to denote the size of the animals.  These different animal sizes are integrated petty well into the rules and make sense.  Therefore players can get a feel for the size of the creature with a glance.  Also, the players get a wide selection of animals from dormouse, to rats, to sparrow, to armadillo, up to badgers!  Your warband can have a wide variety of characters represented. 

The magic system is straight forward with various categories and certain warbands can only use some types of magic.  It looks pretty by the numbers, except that each spell has components that amplify the spell.  Component items can be purchased or found in the campaign to help boost your spellcasters’ ability.  This essentially adds a unique resource to manage and a slightly different set of magical effects because of the resources.  This was a clever touch and keeps it feeling appropriate to the setting/genre. 
Art from the book, what a character this is! 


Things I Did Not Like
This game makes use of Hit Points.  As a personal preference I dislike hit points as it makes me track things!  Plus, models do not really degrade as they get worse for wear.  I can see why the decision was made as it helps differentiate the larger creatures from smaller creatures and allows variation in damage from weapons.  However, I do not appreciate the tracking required. 

Like many small scale skirmish games, I feel like the game lacks a bit of punch in the tacticalgameplay.  It is all relatively basic 4Ms and target priority in the early going of the campaign or one-off games.  There is nothing that forces much decision making.  This is a common complaint I have been having with skirmish games lately, that the game itself is relatively tactics free with the campaign elements doing all the heavy lifting for the game.  This is not a complaint specific to this game, but one for many games. 

This chap from the Oathsworn site gets some time in the rulebook too!  


Meh and Other Uncertainties      
This game hits all the basics in vogue for campaign games at the moment.  It has an injury table, resources, limited base-building and upgrades, experience, and skill building.  These are all excellent to have in a campaign heavy game like this.  However, it again felt pretty much by the numbers as it followed the well-worn Necromunda/Mordheim models.  There is a wide enough selection of skills and modifiers to make each critter unique, but most of the variation will be from which animals you initially put in your warband.    

The game has 4 different starting warbands, with a bit of flavor text to give you a feel for how they fit into the setting.  The author did a good job trying to make broad categories that could use a variety of animal types without shoe-horning a player.  They are almost more guidelines as the main differences are a warband special ability and a magic school limitation.  There are also rules for making a warband all of the same critter type.  The simple warband updates should make them feel different enough with minimal extra rules. 

I believe this lecturing lad is from BurrowsandBadgers.com
Starting scenarios are straight forward.  However, you could easily steal scenarios from any other campaign game such as Frostgrave, Broken Legions, Last Days, Outremer:Faith and Blood, etc. to be playable.  I am very glad it does not simply revolve around gaining treasure.  In addition, there are easy catch-up mechanics for new players in the campaign and additional warbands so ne wplayers and one-off groups can join in easily. 

The game does require some of the old polyhedron dice.  Typically I am not a fan of this as it is a barrier to entry.  However, I am starting to see these type of dice at large discount retailers now!  So, this is not as much of an issue.     

The book is dotted with artwork that looks a bit like drawn adaptions of medieval woodcuts of animal heroes.  However, I found the artwork hit and miss.  The paintings of the Oathsworn models however were very eye-catching and made me want to pick them up to play right away! 

My favorite piece of art from the book


Final Thoughts
Really, the game hangs its hat on the genre theme (or hook) of warbands made up of Redwall-esque anthropomorphic animals fighting in a Fantasy setting.  The game is relatively basic beyond and by the numbers beyond that.  However, it is perfectly serviceable at what it does, and the rules do a good job of reinforcing the theme of the game.  I have no doubt my family and I will have a great time deciding the fate of Northymbria and creating heroes of the land.  Those gamers who have had a lot of experience playing campaign and skirmish games maybe a bit let down as there is nothing particularly innovative.  However, there is plenty of scope to create a rollicking set of adventures. 




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Monday, October 7, 2019

Wargame Design: Creating Hooks for Your Game




In this series we have talked extensively about how to build a game from beginning to end. We have talked about coming up with a concept, building out the 4Ms, choosing your Activation method, building Profiles, adding chrome, and playtesting. That is a lot of ground to cover. However, there is one key element that we have touched on only briefly when discussing the concept and the chrome. Ultimately, a game is only as good as its hook.

A hook is exactly what it sounds like. If you think of players as fish, the hook is what element you are going to use to capture a player's attention and make them want to play your game? What is that unique element or “secret sauce” that will catch their eye and give it a try. The wargaming market is a small niche, the indie wargaming market is even smaller. Therefore, the hook for your game is even more important if you ever want anyone to play it.

Generally speaking, a good hook falls into one of the following categories:

  • Concept
  • Theme
  • Mechanics
  • Genre
  • Look

Concept Hook
Concept hooks are very simple, but it is not easy. It is perhaps the most difficult to pull off successfully. You are proposing playing a game like no one has every played before. It is unique in the market and not just a re-hash or variant of a game, genre, time period, etc. that has been played or featured hundreds of times before.

This is the hardest hook to pull off since there is nothing new under the sun, and innovation is over-rated anyway. Essentially, your concept for what the game is about is so compelling that players immediately see it and think, “Wow, I have never played anything like that before!”

An example of a game that uses the Concept Hook is All Quiet onthe Martian Front. It uses a couple ideas such as late steampunk, War of the Worlds, Weird World War, and Assymetrical combat and mixes it together in a unique concept that makes players take notice of it. It is like nothing they have really played before.



Theme Hook
A Theme hook is based on what the game play experience is supposed to be like. You are offering something that a player wants to experience in their gaming life. It is offering to meet a need for the consumer. This could be appealing to tournament play, narrative play, single player, co-op, etc. It is offering a unique hook for game play style itself.

I have two examples for this type of hook. The first is Rangers of Shadowdeep, from the creator of Frostgrave. This game offers a Role-play lite, co-op to single player experience that very few other games offer right now. It wasn't the first to do it, but it is appealing to that theme of a game. You can customize your Ranger, and then send him on a campaign all by yourself or with a small group of like minded players. The whole point is narrative and campaign play.

The second example of this type of hook is Warmachine. From day one, it was focused on having a tight, competitive ruleset. The entire focus was on playing to win by mastering the game mechanics and out playing your opponent via list building and combo-stacking. It never really tried to be anything else, and it was designed to attract a certain type of player.

Both offer very different themes, but ultimately the hook is to appeal to a certain type of player for their game.

Mechanics Hook
This hook is the most common type of hook most wargame designers try to focus on. Wargame designers are fixated on mechanics, so it makes sense that this type of hook is focused on by designers themselves. However, the truth is players are less interested in this type of hook. The entire focus of the hook is using an innovative game mechanic to try and entice players into trying the game.

Two games I can think of that tried this hook were Malifaux and Infinity. In both instances, the initial hook was that it did not use traditional Games Workshop style mechanics and therefore allowed for a different type of game. Malifaux famously used a card flip mechanic and special rule stacking, while Infinity used an “innovative” activation system and stacking special rules to create a different style of game then what the majority of games were offering at the time.



Genre Hook
A genre hook is offering a new take on an existing genre. This is often combined with a Concept hook, but can also be a stand alone. You are basically offering gamers a new way to play a new or existing genre.

The best example of this Hook in action is Flames of War. World War II gaming in 1/72 scale
or 20mm had been going on since World War II ended! However, Flames of War offered a new experience with a structured, methodical, approach to playing at the 15mm scale which allowed bigger forces and more tanks. The genre itself was an old, well-established genre, but the game was offering a new way to play it.

This also applies to offering new “Lore” or background from an existing genre such as Sci-Fi. For example, Battletech offered a new way to tackle Sci-Fi by not having it all shiny and futuristic, but by making it all grim, dirty, and fuedal with giant robots! Again, this was a very different approach to Sci-Fi and acted as a genre hook. A new way to play an old genre.



Look Hook
This is also hard for most game designers to pull off. However, it is about giving your game world and universe a distinctive look unlike anything else on the market. This is all about branding with artwork, fonts, colors, and models. They offer a unique experience from other games out there.

The grand daddy of this approach is Games Workshop with Warhammer40K. It is all about the look and feel of the models themselves. The Fantasy trope extrapolated into the far, far future provided a unique look like no one had seen before. Part of the appeal of wargaming is the spectacle, and Warhammer 40K delivered customize-able spectacle in spades! Of course, now it builds on much more, but the initial hook was the distinctive look and feel of the models and how they reflected the universe they were from.


Hooks in Action
There are literally hundreds of ancient wargames on the market. Therefore, if you are creating a new one you need to have something unique to bring to the table. Why would a player want to change from whatever Ancient game they are playing now and switch to yours? They wouldn't.

Therefore, when I designed Men of Bronze I had to think carefully about what made my game unique? There are actually a couple hooks I built into the rules intentionally to reduce effort to adopt the game AND appeal to existing ancients players.


Scale, model, and base agnostic
This is a Genre Hook. I knew my target audience would mostly have existing armies or be brand new to wargaming. Therefore, they had to be able to use existing models OR easily get models to play with. Hence, the mechanic was designed to allow them to play a genre in a new way.

Arete Points
This is a Mechanic Hook. The idea was to offer the players of the game a new way to simulate command and control on the battlefield. Typically, command and control was overlooked compared to maneuver and flanking. Therefore, I wanted to have a way to accentuate an overlooked aspect of Hoplite combat.

No Figure Removal
This was a Look Hook. I knew that players spent a lot of time painting and building up their collections. No one wants to spend all that time painting, assembling, buying, and setting up a game to simply remove the models within a few seconds of the game starting. Let the models show off for almost the whole game instead!

Hoplite Warfare
Of course, I was interested in Hoplite warfare, but this was also a Genre Hook. This game was not going to be for all periods of Ancients. Instead, it was going to offer a play experience unique to the Hoplite period and focus on those aspects of wargaming unique to that warfare such as Phalanxes, focus on shock melee, the grinding and pushing of hoplite combat, etc.


Those are some of the basic examples of Hooks I placed in the game to make potential players sit-up and take notice of this game and think..... “Wow, I want to try this game.”

Conclusion
Without a hook, why would anyone want to play your game? What will differentiate it from the raft of other wargames out on the market? If you do not have an answer, then your game is not ready. Go back and review the rules, concept, chrome, etc and think about where you have or can input hooks. If all you have is the 4Ms, then you are overlooking a key point of game design.



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Monday, September 30, 2019

Battle Report: Aquanautica Imperialis- Operation: Hemlock- Across the Shallows


The Shallows had been his home as long as he could remember. He had scrapped by on his father's boat collecting scrap and hauling in to be sold at auction on Grig's Island. Eventually, his father had passed, and the boat had been handed over to him. The loyal crew, and at least some of them; stayed on too. From that day on, he had become Captain Jacq.

Since then, he had been lucky, brutal,and cunning enough to survive in the Shallows. His crew had earned enough scrap to upgrade to a bigger boat and a bigger crew. However, there had been a cost. Debts that needed to be repaid, and in addition to hauling scrap Captain jack had taken on a bit of piracy and smuggling as a side job. It wasn't long before he had become embroiled with Hanzo and the Syndicate. That was a dirty business and one Jacq did not relish.

However, Operation: Hemlock gave him a chance to earn enough scrap to get a big enough stash to head out to sea for real and leave the Deff islands and the Syndicate behind. All he had to do was survive, and that is something that Captain Jacq had been doing for a long time.

Captain, the scout is signalling!” the man..... boy really.... in the crow's nest shouted down to him. The blue sky was clear, and Captain Jacq was pretty sure the look-out could see half across the shallows from his perch.

Captain Jacq cupped his hands, “What is it lad?”

Bad news. Smoke sign from the coast. The Orks comin' out! To cross the Shallows!” the boy started hopping in excitement and nerves.

Captain Jacq cursed and made the sign of the aquilla. The Syndicate had given him a few boats and Hanzo himself told him to keep the Orks from making it to Baron's Island. He expected a milk run while the Navy boys did all the dying. He hadn't expected the greenskins to go across the shallows in force.

A fellow officer looked nervously to Captain Jacq, “Captain, what do we do?”

The grizzled pirate shrugged, “Today, we pay our duty tot he Emperor. Make ready to sail!”


** ** ** **

Today's battle will be a game of Aquanautica Imperialis between the Pirate Syndicate of Da Deff Islands and the Ork Kill Fleets. This represents an Ork force trying to force the Shallows between the Green Zone and the battle zone on Baron's Island. I will be using paper templates again to play this round of the campaign.

Since the battle will take place in the Shallows, the Ork forces will face a high risk of grounding, unless they stick to the deeper channels. Therefore, I am going to give them a 20% points bump to the pirate fleet, who are largely immune to grounding thanks to their shallow draft craft.

Forces:

Syndicate Pirate Force
Jacq's Queen- Pillager- 100 Points- LD 8
Saint's High- Pillager- 100 Points- LD 8
Sea Nymph- Raider- 75 Points- LD 6
Lazy Rider- Raider- 75 Points- LD 7
Low Jack- Monitor- 75 Points- LD 7
Hammer Fall- 75 Points- LD 8
Hwan's Run- Blockade Runner x2- 60 Points- LD 6
Forlorn Hope- Skiff - 50 Points- LD 8
Desperate Times- Skiff- 50 Points- Ld7

660 points

Ork Kill Fleet
Mek RenchEad- 2 Boiler Boatz- 150 Points
Nagstrakz Pointy Bitz- 4 Drilla Killaz- 200 Points
Boss Ardnoze'z Tubz- 5 Tubz- 150 Points
Klobgutz Runtiez- 5 Kuttaz- 100 Points
Angerz On- 3 Mob Boatz

760 points

Mission:
The Orks are trying to break through the Pirate fleet and make landfall on the other side of the Shallows. They can do this by either landing on the opposite sides shore or moving off the board. If they get more crew points ashore than they lose in damage points after 6 turns the Orks win.

Set-up:
This battle is being played on a 4x4 foot table. The entire board is considered shallow water, except for the dark blue areas. This is regular depth and Ork ships in these zones will not be at risk of grounding. The Shallows is the area between Da Deff Islands, and is not deeper enough for large ocean vessels. However, some navigation channels have been dredged to allow for easier transport of adaconite and other goods.

Orks forces prepare to cross
The Syndicate rady to Oppose them

Turn 1:
Initiative: Pirates

Move:
Three of the five Grot Kuttas ground trying to move into the channel. The Drilla Killas WAAAGH! forward and avoid grounding. 4 out of 5 Gun Tubz ground in the Shallows and are hulked. The two Boiler Boatz manage to make it to a channel. Meanwhile, the Pirates moved forward to get ready to pound the few Ork boats that made it into the channel.

Battle:
The big guns of the Monitors roar to life, and manage to smash one of the Drilla Killaz into a hulk. The Ork ships do not have the range yet. The lead pirate ravager uses its main gun and takes out a Grot Kutta from a distance. Seeing the range, his fellow Ravagers take out the last Grot Kutta.

End:
The Mob Boatz race to get between a couple of small islands.

The Grot Kutta hulked by the Ravager drift.

The hulked Drilla Killa explodes, but does not cause any further damage.

No wake of damage control to be done.

A tough turn for the Orks comes to an end.


Turn 2
Initiative: Pirates

Move:
The Blockade Runners move up in front of the Drilla Killas to launch their mines. However, their Kaptin bellows a mighty waaagh! That carries across the waves and the Ork escorts dash forward. Two bypass the pirate vessels, but one rams one head on. Both boats sink immediately. Of the two remaining Ork craft, one grounds itself in the shallows.

Inspired, an Ork Gun Tub does the same against the last Blockade Runner. There is a mighty crash as steel is bent and breaks. Both boats again sink to the bottom.

Ramming Speed!

The Ravagers move in on the channel to kill off the Boiler Boatz. Seeing them close, the 1 stays in the channel while the other Waaaagh! Ahead towards land, but ends up hitting a sand bar and beaching itself with some damage.

The rest of the Pirate fleet begins to move in on the Ork vessels like Deep Sharks.

Battle:
The Pillager's bow cannons fire on the stuck Boiler Boat that is shrouded in its own steam. Both shots fly wide of their mark. The Boiler boat fires back ineffectually.

The Ravagers fire their long range cannons at the trailing Boiler Boat. One find the mark, but the krew was braced and ready. The Pirates also fire their torpedoes to try to block off the Ork advance.

The Monitors fire on the grounded Ork boat, and miss.

End:
The Mob Boatz are trying to go wide past the Pirates. The Pirate torpedoes raced in front of the Boiler boat and missed.

The Grot KUtta hulks drift and then one sinks.

All wake markers are easily removed.



Turn 3:
Initiative: Orks

Move:
The 1st Drilla Killa make sit across to land, and beaches itself. The Orks onboard are eager to get off the boat and onto dry land.

Land Ho!

A Pillager approaches and sets up to kill the stranded Boiler bOat, but it manages to unstick itself from the sand bar.

The ravagers slow down and close in on the other Boiler Boat, while it tries to follow the channel to safety.

The remaining Pirate swarm in on the remaining Ork craft. They are starting to sense the scrap and loot!

Battle:
The Boiler Boat in the Channel opens fire on the closest Raider, but the one shell is Braced off by the Pirate.

The lead Pillager locks-on to the floundering Boiler boat and fires bow and port weapons. She manages to brace 1 hit, and the armor absorbs a second. However, a third manages to find a weak point in her superstructure and explodes, causing her to be a flaming wreck.

The Pirate Raiders open fire with a barrage of weapon's fire on the last Ork boat and turns it into slag.

End:
The channel Boiler Boat explodes and sinks. The rest drift.

It's over Captain!

Conclusion:
The shallow draft of the Pirate fleet paid HUGE dividends for the Pirates. 8 enemy vessels were destroyed from running aground. That was a deficit that the Ork fleet could not make up, especially when 7 of those groundings came in Movement phase 1.

Upon review, the Orks did not really have a chance in this engagement. They started in the Shallows. Next time, they will need to start in the deeper water. The points bump was not enough, and if there is another battle for the shallows the Orks will need to bring air support and more Mob Boats. However, they did some how manage to get 1 escort across!

The Pirate fleet got really lucky. They are fast and agile, but have limited firepower and no armor. Last game I played as them they were wiped out to a ship before the game ended. The shallows really helped them out, and did most of the work.

Captain Jacq was grinning ear to ear. He had spent his entire career working the Shallows, and this was more scrap in one day than he had seen in his whole life! Sure Ork craft were not the best scrap, but it was scrap! Thanks to the Syndicates contract with the Ammoriss Naval PDF, he had the feeling he was going to be a very rich man when the Operation was over.

Of course, he had to stay alive long enough to collect. That might not be so easy.....



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Monday, September 23, 2019

Battle Report: Aquanautica Imperialis: Battle for the Depths- Operation: Hemlock


He wasn't exactly sure of his location, but he wasn't willing to move to surface depths to find out either. He knew he was off the coast of Baron's Rest, closing in on the Ork Green Zone. The only other thing he needed to know was that his boat had got a ping, and he was authorized to identify and sink. The PDF “Air Heads” hadn't been able to contain the threat of Ork submarines ferrying troops from the Green Zone to the rest of the Deff Islands. Vice-Admiral Travers had given a green light to the “Bubble Heads” of the submersible fleet to try and contain the threat.

Captain Huntzmann checked his pocket chrono and whispered the time to his XO. The XO confirmed and repeated it, and another officer dutifully noted the potential contact into the log. This was a trick business, as he knew he wasn't the only Imperial boat prowling around out here. His Augur Ops were positive it wasn't a friendly.

Silence was critical. The Captain had been a “Bubble Head” in the submersible arm of the Ammoriss Navy since the fleet only had a couple dozen boats. He was skeptical of how much noise his hull could cancel out, so he made sure his crew worked as quietly as possible. He gave the hand signal to his XO, who confirmed and repeated it. The Officer of the Watch nodded. With the turn of a key, red combat lighting replaced the artificial white light lumins.

With that, the crew knew that the game was afoot. There were other subs out there, and it was their job to find and sink them, or get sunk themselves.

I made the rules for AquanauticaImperialis: Battle for the Depths a long time ago. However, I only got to try them once or twice. I figured with Operation:Hemlock it would be a good time to try them out a bit more.

This game is to help recreate submarine battles in the Warhammer 40K universe. Therefore, detection and firing solutions are critical in this game. As the commander you need to off set speed, action, and detection vs. offensive capabilities. It can be a challenging mix to get right.

Forces
Ammoriss Naval PDF
1 Hunter Sub- “ANS 421: Deep Shark” LD7
1 Hunter Sub- “ANS 356: Northern Trident” LD7
1 Hunter Type- L with HK Torpedo- “ANS 1447: Saint's Shield” LD7

50 Points

Skarbashz Submerzibles
1 Grot Sub- “Rust Bucket” LD5
1 Grot Sub-“Grot Sink” LD6
1 Sneaky Git- “Gobstuk” LD8

55 Points

These are represented by paper templates, as I figured by the time I sculpted and painted up appropriate models.... well the game might never get played then.  

Mission
This is a straight forward mission called: The Hunt. Both sides place their subs at any depth and speed within 4 inches of their own board edge. The Imperials are the attackers in this scenario. This is a victory point engagement so destroying enemy forces and limiting your own losses is key.

Set-Up
This time, we decided to use a 4x4 board. We placed some shallow water on the board as terrain, but the board is mostly open. Shallow water blocks movement and LOS below the depth of the water, we got depth 5 and 2 respectively. To go over Depth 2 Shallow water you need to be at Depth 2 or better.

We need to figure out how the game is played before we get too crazy.

The Orks set-up on one side, with the Sneaky Git anchoring the left flank at depth 4 and full speed 6. The Rust Bucket is nearby at depth 4 and speed 6, and the Grot Sink is on the right at depth 4 and speed 6. They are coming in fast!



The Naval PDF have the Type L in the center at depth 4 and speed 4. On the right flank is Northern Trident at depth 7 speed 3, and Deep Shark at Depth 3 speed 3.



Turn 1:
Initiative: You build an order of activation by rolling a d6 and adding the LD of the vessel. Ties are rolled off and the winner is placed above the loser in the order. Lower ranked vessels activate first.

Activations:
Rust Bucket goes first with the lowest initiative. He moves forward at speed 6 and pivots 45 degress at the end of his move, staying at depth 4.

Grot Sink moves next. Grot Sink gains speed by going up to depth 3 and is now at speed 7.

Deep Shark is up next. He speeds up to 4 and turns towards the shallow water in front of him. He is at a high enough depths to go over it.

Northern Trident applies screw and heads for deep water at depth 7.

Saint's Shield goes down a depth, but uses some screw to stay at her current speed. She is making for the deep water between the shallows.

Gobstruk goes straight at the shallow water and Deep Shark.



No one has the range to try for any type of detections or shooting.

End:
No actions.

Turn 2:
Initiative: The order of Actions is determined.

Activations:
Rust Bucket makes for the deep water in the center of the table. However, they are too far away for a Torpedo shot at Saint's Shield.

Saint's Shield increases her Screw to 6, maneuvers towards Rust Bucket, and then dives 2 levels during her movement. All of this fancy maneuvers makes her -3 to Stealth and much easier to detect.

Grot Sink goes next and heads for Saint's Shield, but can not match the dive. There is a question of range too. However, it is not relevant due to Depth differences.

Northern Trident moves from the deep water and towards Grot Sink. The active augurs on the Northern Trident reach out, but she is unable to lock on the Grot Sink.

Deep Shark does not like facing down the big Ork sub alone, and dives 2 levels to get out of LOS behind the shallow water.

Gobstruk pivots and moves above the shallow water and tries to target the Northern Trident. The rapid ascent of the enemy sub makes her easier to detect. The Ork sonar operators gibber excited coordinates to the runtherdz in the torpedo bay, who punch them into the torpedo as the Grotz lift the machines into the tubes. The Kaptin has the tubes flooded, and launches them as soon as the runtherdz buzz him the green light to fire. However, the Torps go wide of the mark.



Turn 3
Initiative: The Order of activation is created.

Activations:
Deep Shark feels safe from the Sneaky Git, but is hungry to do some damage to the Ork forces. However, she tries to slow down and go sneaky to get a shot at the approaching enemy subs.

Grot Sink recognizes the danger of having three enemy subs in the area, and blows some ballast to head for the surface. This speeds her up considerably. However, the process is VERY noisy.

Rust Bucket feels a bit safer, and tries to go under her friend and get a shot at Northern Trident to keep the Oomie sub from getting a chance to attack. However, the Grot Krew fails to get a good sonar lock to fire. They know the Oomie is out there, but they are not exactly sure where.


The Captain of the Northern Trident heard the sonar pings near his boat, and the distinctive sound of torpedoes in the water. He decides to slow his boat and dive deeper into cover to try and build his boats stealth.

Saint's Shield knows the Rust Bucket is in front of her and above. She slows her screw and slowly climbs to a better firing depth. However, the Grot Subs are sneaky and she fails to get a lock to fire.

Gobstuk heads over the shallow water and towards the enemy subs. However, her sonar can not detect any targets in range or depth to try and detect for a torpedo attack.


End:
None

Turn 4
Initiative: The Order of activation is built.

Activations:
Rust Bucket continues trying to locate and attack the Northern Trident in front of her, and goes down deeper looking for her prey. However, Grot subs have terrible sonar and crews so fail to find anything.

The Grot Sink continues racing by at shallow depth and high speed.

Saint's Shield goes next. She slows even further to avoid overshooting her prey, and reduces her screw speed. She could try an Augur Spike, that would put her in danger from being detected by the larger Ork sub, but Grot Subs are sneaky and hard to find. Without the Augur Spike, she fails to find the Grot Sub to fire on.

The Northern Trident speeds up and tries to get out of the kill zone the Orks were trying to set up on him.

The Gobstuk moves across the shallow water and turns into the main action, looking for targets of opportunity. Thankfully, the Saint's Shield was moving slowly, quietly, and carefully and barely avoids detection from the big Ork sub.

Deep Shark rises up in depth and detects the Ork Sneaky Git is nearby with her passive augurs. Her passive augurs are enough to fire, and the captain orders a Full Spread. The closeness of the target means the torpedos may hit it and not detonate. The torpedoes streak out, and as the Captain feared they bounce harmlessly off the Ork subz armor and motor wildly off into the depths.



Turn 5
Initiative: Build out the Activation Order.

Activations:
Rust Bucket tries to slow down and begins to try to circle back into the fray.

Grot Sink moves up slowly, and this time the Runtherd Kaptin orders an Augur Spike to find the Deep Shark and attack it. She detects the Oomie sub and fires a snap torpedo. The torpedo just misses the Oomie boat by a fraction as everyone onboard the Deep Shark breathes a sigh of relief.

With the Grot Sink announcing her presence with the Sonar Spike, the Deep Shark's gunners quickly trace the firing solution back to the Grot Sink. The Captain again has a full spread loaded and fires as they drop to avoid a potential collision. The Ammoriss PDF's torpedo finds its mark and detonate the Grot Sink, killing all on board. First blood tot he Ammoriss Naval PDF!

The Gobstuk moves just above the duel between the Grot Sink and the Deep Shark. The Kaptin orders an Augur Spike and the Sneaky Git detects the Saint's Shield. A barrage of Ork torpedoes lash out of the Sneaky Git, but they swoop around the Saint's Shield and fail to detonate due to the depth differences.

The Northern Trident goes up one in Depth and the Augur operators get a lock on the Gobstuk after their Sonar ping. They send a stern torpedo at the ork sub, but miss the mark.

The Saint's Shield turns into the Gobstuk and goes straight for it. The Captain orders a full spread of Hunter Killer Torpedoes to be loaded. Once the firing solution was calculated, the sub let fly. Two HK Torpedoes strike home and blast gauges intot he huge enemy sub. However, the Orks quickly seal off the breaches and continue fighting. The Saint's Shield also releases a brace mines behind it int eh crowded waterway.

End:
The Grot Sink sinks to Depth 6.

Mines drift.



Turn 6:
Initiative: The order of Activation is built

Activations:
Rust Busket's Kaptin tries to do Evasive Maneuvers to get back intot he action but fails. He stays shallow and tries to get back into the fight.

The Northern Trident

The Saint's Shield fires it's last batch of mines and turns away from the oncoming Ork Sub. She dives to Depth 5 and goes between the Sneaky Git and the sinking Grot Sink.

The Deep Shark starts to go beneath the Gobstruk. Slowly and steadily.

The Gobstruk dives quickly to get below the Mines in front of it. She threads the needle int eh crowded space. However, her sharp dive and damage makes her very noisy and easy to detect. She tries to use Passive sensors to find the Deep Shark behind her, but can;t get a bead on her location.

End:
Grot Sink goes to depth 7.

The sinking sub and mines drift.


Turn 7
Initiative: Build the Order of actions.

Activations:
Rust Bucket dives, slows and turns. Still not going to be a factor this turn.

Gobstruk goes below the mines. She uses a active Sonar Ping to try and find the deep Shark, but the slow moving sub is too stealthy and goes undetected.

Deep Shark slowly begins to turn in and follow the very noisy Gobstruk, to try and get a kill shot on her. The Ork sub is easily detected, but the torpedo room does not have time to load a full spread. Deep Shark fires, but the torpedo fails to connect with the target.

Saint's Shield moves away from the big ork sub to gain distance.

Northern Trident easily turns back in by discarding stealth to try and get the kill shot. She easily detects the Gobstruk but her rapid movement did not give time to prepare a full psread. Instead, she locks and snap fires. One finds its mark and reduces the Gobstruk a further 1 hull to 3. She is at half hull.

End:
The Grot Sink is crushed by the growing ocean pressure and destroyed.

The Mines drift apart from each other.



Turn 8:
Initiative: The order of activations is assembled.

Activations:
The Deep Shark stays in the sweet spot and unloads a full spread of torpedoes into the Gobstruk, reducing her another Hull point, to 2 left. The Deep Shark is out of forward ammo.

The Northern Trident closes in like a shark to a feeding frenzy and unlaods a full spread, but none find their mark.

The Gobstruk turns away from her pursuers, and uses a Sonar Ping to lock onto the Northern trident. A pair of rear torpedoes streak out, but fail to connect.

Rust Bucket and Saint's Shield try to maneuver back into a relevant position.

End:
Mines drift.



Turn 9:- Disengagement Turn
Initiative: Built the activation order

Activations:
Rust Bucket comes about and tries an active sonar ping to locate the Northern trident but fails to go active. However, the passive sonar is enough as the Northern Trident has been recklessly moving in pursuit. The Grot's fire torpedoes and a dud hits the hull of the PDF sub but fails to detonate.

Saint's Shield begins heading back to base.

Deep Shark, out of ammo decides to head for safer waters.

The Northern trident continues it's reckless pursuit and opens fire on the Ork sub. A full spread of torpedo again fails to finish off the enemy sub, but empties the Northern Trident's ammo stores.

The Gobstruk continues to limp away. An active Sonar Ping Ids the Northern Trident, but the stern torpedoes fail to find the enemy sub again.

End:
Mines drift.

Conclusion:
Captain Huntzman signaled the XO to discontinue pursuit. The Ork sub, the big one; was still functioning but there was no way it was going to make it to Baron's Rest. The surface patrols would be able to hear it coming from a few miles away and hit it with Depth Charges. If he was the skipped, he would turn back and head for home port.

With another hand signal, the combat lighting returned to normal. The Saint's Shield was clear of the combat zone. He ordered the XO to Vox depth, and went to the Vox room to report in the NavComm North. Where the “Airheads” had failed, the “bubbleheads” had succeeded.

Well, the Orks lost this battle pretty handily. They took 5 Hull loss and inflicted 0 Hull loss in return. They had a chance to sink some torpedoes home, but couldn't connect. Meanwhile, the PDF were able to swarm the Sneaky Git was damage made it hard for it to hide, but the robust nature of its Hull let it stay in the battle for a long time. The Grot Subs were hard to detect, but also not that effective themselves, low firepower and endurance; but at a low cost. The Hunters and Type-L did there job. However, the HK Torpedo re-roll was worth it but it would have been better on a regular Hunter rather than the Type- L. The Mines were more of an area denial weapon than an offensive weapon.

The game itself you ask? It worked as intended, BUT.... the game has a very low letahlity due to a combination of factors.

  1. The challenge of getting the correct firing position of angle and depth
  2. Then detecting the target sub
  3. Getting a hit was 5+ or 6+ based on depth differences
  4. Then rolling to damage

That made it hard to sink a shot home.

In addition, sometimes the rules were counter-intuitive in a challenging way. i.e. was it better to go slow and improve your Stealth or to go faster to close the distance. There were a lot of decision points, and the first decision was if you wanted to avoid battle or to try and embrace it? It would be easy to simply play a game of keep away, but you still had to maneuver in a way to try and strike a killing shot of your own. Overall, an interesting game to play.




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