Thursday, 6 June 2019

More Ancients in action - This time with Armati II

I have never played Armati or any of it's variants in this case Armati II.  I have now played two games.  Trajanic Romans v German Tribesmen and the classic match up of Greeks v Persians.  After the game of ADLG a couple of weeks ago (see xxx) we discussed the pros and cons of ADLG and Trebian said he could see where some of the game mechanics had come from.  This turned out to partially be from Armati.  One difference he pointed out was that units were much less maneuverable than in ADLG which to him it felt more like an ancient period battle.  After all command and control wasn't a huge feature in most ancients battles especially in the barbarian armies!

Armati does indeed restrict maneuver or to be accurate there are limits to what can be achieved while maintaining a unit's order.  Like ADLG it has 'hit points' for each type of unit and when these are gone so is that unit.  Unlike ADLG light troops don't count towards an armies break point and lights are quick killed by contact with certain heavy troop types, representing light troops being dispersed beyond recall rather than wiped out.  Movement is not directly linked to base widths although like ADLG and other games it does use the standard WRG base sizes.  There are restrictions on how many maneuver groups an army can have and different armies have different initiative modifiers.  In the game the Romans get to add 7 to a D6 roll us Germans only get to add 4.  The difference between the Greeks and Persians was less marked being 5 and 6 respectively.

On to the Games
The Roman game was played in 15mm using Peter Pig figures, which are really rather nice, its a shame they only produce a limited range of armies for the ancient world.  Trebian and Phil umpired and provided tactical advice and the remaining four us commanded the troops.  As I had been on the winning side last time out I elected to try out the German side as they are very much the under dogs when facing the cream of Rome's army.

Another interesting point in Armati is that after terrain is deployed a screen is used to allow table top deployment without either player seeing what the other is doing.  That actually works really well and it means deployments are never guaranteed to be optimal.

The terrain provided two areas of woodland on the front edge of the German deployment area and a small hill on the Roman right.  When the screen went into place we decided to deploy the heavy german foot with the ends of the line anchored within the woods, a cavalry heavy right flank and a lightly defended left as we expected a lot of Roman light troops in that area.  When the screen was removed we saw the Romans had deployed an infantry box in their  centre with horse in reserve behind that and light infantry out on their right.

The Romans won the initiative roll (they never lost this roll all game) and the game was afoot.  Long story short the germans moved forward to occupy the woods (Roman legionaries are at a hefty disadvantage in them) and pushed forward on the flanks.  The Romans elected to advance as well.  Once we had our Infantry lines set they stood to wait the oncoming storm.  We pushed our flank units of light infantry and cavalry forwards.  The Romans just kept on coming.  On the left we swept aside most of the Roman Light Infantry and sent our own Light Infantry up the low hill hill to pin down the single unit of Roman cavalry.  It worked for one round of shooting!  On the other wing the Roman Horse was pushed right back and they were forced to break a cohort of legionaries off the main assault line to protect the now open flank.  These were supported by auxilia.

The two centres clashed and the legionaries started to chew up the warbands.  However the flanks of their line were not doing so well and because Germans are cheaper than Romans there were more of us than them and we elected to turn our flanks inward to envelop the Roman Infantry.  This cost us initiative points as everytime you split a command your initiative bonus is reduced by one.

Long story short....the Romans broke our centre but we rolled up their flanks and won.  By one breakpoint!  The consensus was that if the Romans had coordinated their flanks and centre more efficiently the Germans would have been badly beaten.

In the second game it was obvious from the start that the Persians had a huge advantage in cavalry numbers while the Greeks had better infantry although in even numbers to the Persians.  The Persians flowed round the Greek left in jig time and swept away the horse and peltasts who were defending their then hit the hoplites in the flank once they were locked into combat with the Persian foot.  The line simple dissolved with rear and flank attacks providing quick kills on the otherwise powerful Hoplite line.  The Greeks lost 7 - 1!

Armati does give a good game and in these games at least it was clear that the game was lost by poor deployment and decisions as much as from the enemy making good decisions.  Deployment really matters as the ability to reset the line of combat troops (especially the close combat formations) is really restricted.  It is vital to try to guess at the potential deployment you will be facing when the screen is removed and deploy to counter those threats.  Oh and it helps to have an ex-world champion player on your team!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Another week another game

Apologies for another post without pictures.  I was so involved in the game that I forgot to take any photos.

In a personal best for consecutive games this century, Tuesday of last week saw me back at the gaming table.  this week for a game of Arte de la Guerre.  Now these are a set of rules I own and really wanted to like.  For those who haven't seen them (have you been off planet or something?) these are an extremely popular set on the competition circuit and get a lot of blog coverage.  Trebian hosted the game and has already posted a battle report over on Wargaming for Grown ups (Link to Wargaming for Grown Ups) so I'm going to stick to a quick personal view.

As I say I wanted to like these rules and I did.  Like all rule sets there are niggles but overall these are because of the basing conventions and are similar to those experienced in any game with DBx style element basing. What I did like was the use of cohesion points to give a bit of resilience to the units.  Heavy Infantry need to take four cohesion hits before being destroyed, most other units take three,  with light troops taking two.  Units with a single cohesion hit fight with a disadvantage which means that you have to think about screening melee troops and withdrawing the screening units before they are destroyed.  I'm less keen on the army lists which feel very competition focused and don't have the detail of the lists from DBM or DBMM.

The rules are translated from the French and the translation is very good but some of the concepts do need a moment or two before they click.  For example heavy troops are not better armoured than medium troops.  Instead its a measure of how close packed and how resilient they are.  I have settled for thinking of light troops as open order, medium as at deploying at order and heavy as being at close order.  Instead there is an option to give some troops the 'armour' capability giving them the chance to offset loosing combats effects.  To make things even more confusing Cataphracts and Knights are already 'armoured'.

All of that aside the game played well and allowed a battle to be played to a conclusion in under three hours.  It was tight and winning didn't harm my view of the rules either!

Thursday, 2 May 2019

1745 and all that

I am fortunate that on the two days when I am working from the office and have to spend a night away, I have an active group of wargamers close on hand.  Which means that on that night I can meet up with them and get a game in.  This week it was a Jacobite v Government game set in the 1745 Rebellion/Rising (depending on your point of view).

The game was put on by our host Graham (AKA Trebian of the excellent 'wargaming for grown ups blog' which I urge you to visit).  Graham is a keen researcher and writer of rules which as far as I have experienced tend to be reasonably simple but still hold a good period feel.  This game was no exception.  I hadn't played the rules before but by the end of the game I had a decent understanding of the rules mechanisms and how the tactics of the period are modeled.  As you might expect the Jacobites especially the Highlanders have a better chance in hand to hand while the Government troops prefer to stand off and use musketry.  This especially the case for regulars trained in platoon firing.

The basic model is that the two sides dice for initiative at the start of the turn with adjustments for the CinC's ability.  If the Jacobites win they must go first if the Government win they can choose to go first or second.  A flip in initiative to the Government player is deadly as it allows them to take two consecutive bounds which means two uninterpreted bounds of volley firing!  Most combats are based on the throw of a number of D6 with a 6 giving a 'hit'. This is adjusted where a unit is disordered or shaken.  Generals can also affect the dice by using one of two command decisions they have available each turn by either adding an extra dice or electing after the roll to add 1 to one dice roll.  There are other uses for these command points including attempting to rally broken troops and getting to units to charge to contact without taking a morale test first.  Its an elegant and simple method of creating command friction by reducing a general's options for action each turn.  I wish I had thought of it!

We had four players plus Graham as umpire.   Tim and I took the Jacobites with Steve and Richard taking the Government troops.  The Jacobites had 7 Highland Regiments and two infantry battalions trained in the French style ( basically volley and in with the bayonet tactics).  German George's Forces consisted of two Cavalry Squadrons, deployed one on each wing, with a centre of seven Infantry battalions deployed in two lines.  The Infantry was a mix of regulars with a couple of militia units thrown in.  Somewhere at the rear of their right was a single piece of artillery. 

As they seemed intent on standing on the defensive Tim and I had a lengthy and detailed discussion on tactics and after about two seconds decided upon a wild charge all across the board.  It seemed like the proper Highland thing to do.  We got two units into contact on the first bound breaking a battalion of regulars and pushing another back.  This was possibly the high water mark of the Jacobite cause for the day!  There were some moments of confusion on the Government side and then they decided to about face one battalion and volley into the backs of the highlanders who had pushed back their opponents and to launch both cavalry units forward. 

The highlanders shrugged off the ungentlemanly treatment of the vile back shooters and continued to push their opponents back ultimately breaking them.  The two cavalry attacks had mixed fortunes, on the Government left wing they pushed back a unit of highlanders but couldn't break them, while on the left they bounced and were forced to withdraw and spent the rest of the action covering that flank by trying to look menacing.  Meanwhile in the centre the Jacobite lines were starting to look a bit threadbare.  Victims of our own success as two highland regiments had been taken out of play pursuing defeated enemies.  Two more wild charges went forward but musketry disordered them on the way in and the resulting melees were indecisive.

Ultimately we were beaten by disciplined volley fire and a flip in initiative that allowed the Redcoats to pour fire in from point blank range for two turns without our being able to do anything but stand and take it.  I threw the two trained battalions out into line and by attaching my general to the Royal Ecoisse (I think that's how to spell it!) managed a volley and in attack.  It failed and I got my general killed.  At that point we stopped to checked breakpoints and it was found that the death of the general had tipped the doughty and valiant Jacobites to defeat.  All in under two and a half hours.  Next on offer is a game of Arte de le Guerre which I am looking forward to.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Back to the Front

I have returned to the WW1 dogfight rules after a bit of a hiatus,  I often do this after researching things as it gives time for the facts to filter down to what ever part of my brain converts real world facts into wargame rules.

The two issues which had been giving me a bit of trouble were handling the gain and loss of energy during out of plane maneuvers (anything that doesn't involve level flight).  After a bit of thought and due to little hard information on some of the key statistics I have decided to simply divide aircraft up based upon airframe types and allocate a general rating for energy gain and loss in climbs and dives.  I'm going to ignore the impact of speed on turn arcs as the game is intended to be quick play.  I have decided that the relevant airframe classes are going to be

  • V strutters (mainly Albatrii and Nieuports) - these have a lower maximum velocity as the wings tend to fall off in high speed dives

  • Biplane single seat scouts

  • Triplane single seat scouts

  • Two seaters

  • Pushers

  • Multi-engined

I have arbitrarily assigned energy factors across each of these classes based upon an assumed drag factor of each design and rotary engines are penalised in dives because of the risk of overspeeding the engine and blowing out cylinders.

I have created special 'moves' for the commonest combat maneuvers such as Immelman turns (both wingover and hammerhead type), barrel rolls and yo-yos.  These cost a number of move points and cost energy and have a movement 'footprint' on the table.  I need to do some playtesting next to see if these give a decent feel without adding to much rule overhead.  

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Enough doom, gloom and despondency!

Its time for normal(ish) service to be resumed.

I have spent the last few days setting up my paints in the conservatory ready for a resumption of figure painting activity.  thinking about it this has not been good timing as the warm sunny weather is about to finish and its the Hammerhead show at Newark this coming weekend so I'm unlikely to get any painting done this weekend.

I usually make most of my purchases at Vaparnatak the show at York Racecourse, but this year I was away and missed that show.  I went to Hammerhead for the first time last year and was very taken by the mix of participation games and traders. The only bugbear is that Irregular Miniatures don't seem to attend and most of my immediate purchase requirements are from their 6mm range.  Magister Militum will be there and I have a hankering for some of the 3mm figures they do to try them out for Blucher as well as some of the Blucher bases they make.  At some point I am going to need some more 6mm WW1 aircraft from Heroics but thay are going to be at the Joy of Six show later in the year so I will scratch that itch then.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

We were students once and young

Its not been the greatest of weeks.  You see last Friday Mrs E and I had to go the funeral of our friend Ron.  we expected to have to do this just not so soon.  We were told he wasn't well before Christmas but Ron told us it was a stubborn infection and was 'fixable'.  He was in hospital at that point but on strong antibiotics and hoping to be home in a few days.  He was allowed to have Christmas at home and then on New Year's Eve he was told he had liver cancer and only weeks to live.  He died on 28 January.  It has devastated both myself and Mrs E.

I met first Ron on the first day of lectures on our first term at University, we were both heading for the same seats at the back.  He was tall by the standards of the early 1970's but not skinny with it and that made him stand out.  That and his red and white football scarf.  Where I came from that meant either Liverpool or Manchester Utd.  For Ron it meant Middlesbrough, 'the Boro' as he always called them.  As we both supported unfashionable football clubs it gave us something in common.  Like me he was also the first person in his family to go into higher education and an only child so neither of us had any idea how this university thing worked.  We liked some of the same music and he also had a motorcycle and I desperately wanted one.  That was enough to start a friendship that lasted for the next 45 years.  When I met Mrs E at the end of the first term at Uni Ron immediately became her friend too.

He was one of those people who took being your friend very seriously, being a friend had duties and obligations as well as benefits as far as Ron was concerned.  So when I did get a motorcycle of my own it was Ron who taught me the basics.  In true Ron style he told me that there were three important things to master.  First getting the bike moving, second being able to stop and lastly not falling off while doing the first two.  Ron's own bike was like Ron himself, it wasn't overly flashy, but it had a charm all of it's own.  It was a Honda CD175, solid, dependable and not prone to letting you down just like Ron himself.  Later Ron acquired a car a bright blue Hillman Imp, to be honest the only way it was an improvement over the bike was that it had a roof and could take more than one additional passenger.   Ron became a taxi service for all of his friends running us from campus to Halls or on trips out.  He would take me and Mrs E , up to the Boro where we would take in a game and stay over at his parents.  A night on the beer would inevitably follow especially if the Boro had won. It was on those trips up to the Boro crossing the North Yorkshire Moors that Ron once pointed out of the car window to tell us 'there is a stunning view over there, of course you can't see it as it's dark...and foggy'!  That was Ron, not one to let inconvenient details stop him pointing out the highlights of life.

When Mrs E and I married at the end of our second year Ron was my best man.  Just before we walked into the church he took me aside and pointed out that we could be at the Boro in time for kick off if I was having second thoughts, all I had to do was say, BUT once I stepped into that church he would break my legs rather than have me let Mrs E down! 

In our third year Ron moved out to a rented flat near the University and Mrs E and I moved to a shared rented house a little further out of the city.  We would still visit each other a couple of times a week and it became clear that while Ron took many things seriously washing cups wasn't on the list.  I don't think he owned a cup that wasn't stained brown from tea.  It didn't matter though you went to see Ron not worry about crockery.

When our first baby was born in 1977 Ron was Godfather.  He took that role seriously too even when our daughter used to have to be coaxed out from behind the settee because 'uncle wrong was scary'.  He was anything but, although to a three year old he must have looked huge.

As the years went by we saw each other less often, work, hobbies children all took up our time.  Ron was teaching in South Yorkshire and we were living and working in North Yorkshire but we would still see each other three or four times a year.  It didn't matter though because every time we did visit it was as if no time had passed at all.  As we got older  visits became less frequent but Christmas cards came from Ron and his wife with details of what had been happening not just to Ron but all of our contemporaries from Uni.  Ron was doing Facebook updates before Facebook existed.  We then moved away for a few years and hardly saw him at all.  Ron divorced, remarried and in his early 40's had a son, who as expected he doted on.  After all parenthood was to be taken seriously and done right, it was the only way Ron knew how to do things.  When we moved back to the North visits with Ron and his family started up again just as if they had never stopped, driven mainly by Ron, I did mention that he took being a friend seriously didn't I.  When Mrs E was caring for her elderly parents in their final years Ron would telephone or pop in to make sure she was OK if I was working away from home.  When a friend from our University days was terminally ill he would drive down to South Wales to see her and and when I was recovering from surgery last year he came to visit me, this from a man who hated talking about illness.

He was always there sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the back, but always there.  Then he died.  After 45 years of being there.  He was my friend and I'm going to miss him more than I can easily say.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

A little Winter Sun

Just a brief catch up post this time.  You may have noticed that I haven't posted since the end of January, that's because Mrs E and I have been away on holiday.  Nothing exciting just a short break in the Canary Islands to get a bit of winter sun.  I spent 10 days doing little apart from eating, drinking and sitting in the sun.  Normal service ( or as near to normal as I ever get) will be resumed shortly.