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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Second Game of Dux Bellorum – Further Thoughts

First of all let me apologise for the lack of photos – I still am having problems downloading from my camera and have stopped taking pictures until that is resolved.  Rather a pity as some visual aids would have helped this report.
I took an Early Saxon Sea Raider Army made up as follows
Foot Companions
Noble Warriors x 3
Ordinary Warriors x 2
Foot Skirmisher (Bow) x 1
Foot Skirmisher (Javelin) x 1
My opponent for the night, Kev, brought a Late Roman Army
Mounted Companions
Noble Cavalry x 1
Ordinary Shieldwall x 3
Noble Shieldwall x 1
Bow x 1
Foot Skirmisher (Bow) x 1
Mounted Skirmisher (Javelin) x 1
Additional Leadership Point
Before we deployed I tried my assassination attempt needing 11 or 12 on 2 dice.  If successful it would have robbed the Romans of 3 of their 7 leadership points but it was not to be so it felt like 4 points (out of a total of 32) wasted at the start.
Having a much superior Aggressor factor it was almost inevitable that the Saxons would take that role which they duly did leaving the Romans as the defenders (repellors)
My plan was to punch through the centre with my 4 best warrior units, covered by the skirmishers, leaving an ordinary warrior unit on each flank to either to hold an attack or exploit the position if possible.  I intended to target the weaker shieldwall and bow units with my better troops and then move on to the harder troops who would hopefully be on fewer leader ship points having lost some units.
Kev’s Romans deployed with his 2 units of cavalry on his far right with the shieldwall and bow alongside them so his right and centre were fully occupied with the skirmishers covering his left.  I think his plan was to hold the main body of infantry back, sweep the cavalry round and then catch my main force both in the front and from the flank.
We had decided to play this game using Impetus bases (12 cm wide) but at half base width movement to make the game playable on a 6 x 4 board.  This greatly improved the look of the game and I think we will almost certainly continue to use this approach for future games.  What we did not do was increase the amount of terrain (probably a mistake) so we ended up with 2 hills, one on each flank with both our left flanking units having the opportunity to use them to their benefit in later combats.
The early moves were fairly predictable as I advanced along the line and Kev's cavalry and skirmishers also advanced.  Throughout the game there was only one occasion when damage was done by shooting when the Roman Bow unit took 2 cohesion points off a noble warrior unit.
I had a bit of luck on the right where I was able to catch the mounted skirmishers with my ordinary warrior unit and fairly quickly despatch it.  On the left the two cavalry units and the warrior unit on the hill started a melee which ground on for some time – more on that later as it was to prove to be the most controversial part of the battle.
My centre units closed with the Roman line and very quickly took out the bow (another leadership point lost by Kev).  I had detached the furthest left noble warrior unit to prevent the line being outflanked in the side where it was up against the noble shieldwall and a unit of ordinary shieldwall.
I threw good dice all night and before long another 2 Roman units had been destroyed, including the noble shieldwall.  By this stage, with the Saxons having lost no cohesion points at all in combat, Kev conceded.
Whist all this had been going on my ordinary shieldwall unit had stood firm on the hill, twice throwing back the opposing cavalry and causing 3 cohesion points of damage on the Roman mounted companions.  Both of us had been giving the units between 2 and 3 leadership points a turn, but I had used them in defence whist Kev had used them in attack.  Although I was always throwing less dice I was able to negate all the hits on my unit whist Kev had to take any his suffered.  The moral of the story was seemed to be that defensive use of leadership points is much more effective than using them for attack.  My dice rolls in that combat were certainly a bit better than Kev’s but the difference was by no means extreme.  It did seem a little odd that one 3 point unit could not only hold up 2 x 5 point units but actually be winning the combat hands down because of the way the leadership points had been declared.  Not only that but if the Roman leadership points had been used more effectively in defence there would have been a complete stand off barring some rather extreme dice rolls, which would still have been very much to the Saxon’s favour.
What was our conclusion? 
1) Stick with the Impetus bases but half base width movement on a 6 x 4 table but consider more terrain
2) Think carefully about the use of leadership points.  One option we talked about was that they could in the first instance be used to counteract each other, so 3 in defence and 2 in attack would deny any additional attacking dice and retain 1 to cancel a hit.
3) Give the game another go soon (without making any changes) whilst the rules are still fairly fresh in our minds.
4) It still seems an awfully quick game – we started a bit late but the game took barely an hour. Once again I was home early not really having had a fully satisfying night’s gaming.  Next time we might consider bigger armies or try to get 2 games in.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Blogging and Linking to Forums

I often provide a link to blog posts on forums that I am a member of where I think there will be interest.  I normally include a 1 – 2 sentence summary of what the post is about. There has recently been a thread on the Lead Adventure Forum where a number of posters objected to this practice (in general not targeting me specifically) although others defended it.  It made me ask myself the question why do I do it?
The obvious answer is to reach more people.  There are about 3500 members of the Lead Adventure forum against the 55 followers that I currently have on my blog.
Ah, came the reply, but surely it would be very easy to copy and paste blog posts into forums?  This would allow forum readers to read and comment on it without needing to follow the link to the blog. The only reason for putting a link in is to publicise your blog and get more page hits.
This argument threw me a bit, until I realised the truth of it.  I do like to get blog hits and value comments on the blog more than comments made in a forum.  Having given it a bit more thought I then realised I don’t see anything wrong with that (although others obviously do).  Part of blogging is posting, but the equally significant part is feedback which includes post count.  It lets me know when people have found a topic interesting.  I feel good about a topic that gets some comments and lots of attention.  Also people that follow a link to my blog may well have a look at some of the other topics I have posted.  So after careful consideration I came to the conclusion that I am happy with what I do (which is always within the rules of the forums that I visit) and see no need to change.
I would be interested in other bloggers thoughts on this, whether or not you also link to forums and if so where on the spectrum of title and link to full copy and paste you sit.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

My first Game of Washington’s Army

Something different on Monday night.  I had expected to be playing Purple Heart Valley but we were not quorate so instead I was instead able to take over command of an American Brigade for this AWI game.
We were playing the Battle of Camden, one of the nine scenarios included with the rules.  The aim was for the superior British forces to get across the field as quickly as possible.
This was the first time that I had played rules by Peter Pig and although some of the mechanisms were a little clunky (rolls to hit, saving rolls and then rerolls) they captured the flavour of the period quite nicely.  The British were much better trained but the Americans more numerous.    The chance element is reasonably high which I always like as it allows me to claim superior generalship for my victories and blame bad dice rolls when I lose. 
The British attacked with flair but the Americans managed to get off a few volleys and slow them down a bit.  Once it came to hand combat the Americans quickly gave ground.  Having done some damage to the British regulars, which was their objective, the Americans could claim a political victory, although harsh military reality would have indicated a British win.
It was also good to get a game with a couple of the newer club members John and Kev.  New to the club that is very experienced wargamers in fact.  The fourth player was my old mate Marco who managed to rout my one unit of veterans by the judicious throw of a double six.
I blame the dice myself……

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Dux Bellorum – First impressions

I had my first game of Dux Bellorum on Monday. We used the Welsh and Saxon sample armies from the book.  I took the Saxons and Kev and Stewart between them the Welsh.  My 25mm collection provided the figures - I even managed to dig up a couple of cows to provide a mini stampede.  The monks were more Feudal than Dark Ages in appearance but at the end of the day a cowl is a cowl.

It was not a very subtle game. The Welsh cavalry and warriors charged forward and crashed into my shieldwall.  The skirmishers did very little damage on the flank but one of my Irish elements managed to take out the light cavalry.  The other one intercepted one of the Welsh warriors (I thought in the flank but not as I had not taken care to start from far enough back). The cows did their job by destroying themselves against the shieldwall but weakening a unit in the process. The monks were not keen to advance too far but were just close enough to provide spiritual help in the form of extra leadership points to most of their line.

I used leadership points to minimise casualties on the shieldwall which gave them plenty of staying power and I was eventually (with the aid of some good dice rolls) able to wear down the opposition to less than 50% in units.  The subsequent morale rolls went against the Welsh and they fled the field.

So what were   my first impressions of the rules?

I  like the mechanisms which generate good period flavour and are elegantly put together.  The rulebook itself is attractive and generally well laid out.  On the downside there seemed to be very few figures on the table (about sixty in total) and the game seemed to be over in no time at all.  Certainly not an evening’s entertainment, although to be fair we had not tried to be particularly sophisticated in our tactics. 

Definitely interesting enough to play again though and Kev and I have agreed a rematch in 2 weeks time, Late Roman against Saxon sea raider.  We will attempt to play two games in the one session.  25mm again, normal 60mm wide basing for the first game with the second using Impetus bases at 120mm wide, on a bigger table,  but keeping movement rates at 60mm base width equivalents.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it is difficult to give a rounded review of Dux Bellorum after just one game.  I want to like them as I approve of well written and presented period specific rules that try to capture the feel of a particular era.  However can deliver a satisfying game?  For me the jury is still out on that one.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Wargaming is meant to be fun isn't it?

A comment on my previous post about targets has really made me think.   We presumably all do this hobby because we enjoy it - setting targets can make it seem more like an obligation, or work even.

On reflection to me the hobby splits down into a number of parts some of which are more enjoyable than others

1) Reading, research and the fruits thereof.

I find this fascinating.  Finding out about a new period and getting into more depth in a period I already know something about are definitely great fun.  Also under this heading come reading rules and army lists.  This cumulates in getting an army ready for the table on paper at least, which can be a major undertaking in itself if an historical battle is to be recreated.  For non historical forces I suppose it can also includes the creative process of bringing together an imaginary setting.  The running of campaigns will also fall under this heading  for me.

2) Painting and modelling

If I want to put painted figures on the table I have to paint.  I enjoy painting as much as I enjoy working.  There is a challenge there and it feels good when the challenge has been met and achieved.  A deadline will often help to focus my efforts.  It is however still work and not pleasure. I get around this as best I can by buying painted second hand figures and getting others to paint for me when I can.  However it is sometimes just a case of biting the bullet, getting the paintbrush out and getting on with it.

I actually like my job and think I am quite good at it, Painting is like a part time job that I am only just competent at.  Modelling is different again, an activity where I vaguely know the basic principles, just enough to understand the depths of my incompetence.  I don't like separate weapons and shields because I have to stick them on the figures - that's about as far into modelling as I ever get.  (I nearly forgot - I can make archers stakes from cocktail sticks so perhaps there is hope for me yet)

3) Wargaming

Fun, fun, fun.  The best bit.  Want to do more.  If it's got figures/models and dice (or cards at a push) I want to play. I also need opponents.  Decent human beings with a good sense of humor preferred but not essential. Nuff said

4) Writing and blogging

I have always enjoyed writing but have never been able to persist with it - I may have a novel in me but I don't think it will ever get out.  I have written the very occasional wargames article and it is a huge thrill to get something published so that must count as fun.  I am still not quite sure with blogging.  It is a great way to record things and gives the feeling of being part of a wider wargaming community which I do like.  Comments are also nice.  The downside (or is it an upside?) is that time spent blogging is probably time I could have been painting. I will give it a year and see if I decide to keep it up.

Thanks for the comment on my earlier post Rory - as you can see it got me thinking.  Another advantage of a blog is that capturing your thoughts and posting them is a good way of parking them and moving on rather than letting them rattle around your head all day.  

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Do monthly targets work ?

Inspired by 'Wargaming Girl' I set myself some targets for August - how did I do and did setting targets help?

Gaming - target 6 games - actual 6 games

By taking part in the Impetus competition last week I was able to get up to 6 games.  I was only a reserve for the competition - the target may have helped me a little to turn that into attending

Blogging - entries to cover all games played plus 4 more - achieved.  This was where the targets helped most as there were a couple of times when I really did not feel much like blogging but did so and was glad I had.  Also there were a record number of page views - over 1700 - with Dux Britanniarum First Impressions and my report on Claymore being particularly popular

Painting - target 2 squads of 7 men each - achieved nothing at all - I think I undercoated one SF trooper.  The target did not help at all, but I have struggled all year to do any painting.

2 out of 3 ain't bad so I will give it a go again for September

Games - 6 again

Blogging - all games plus 5 others including my trip to Paris (if I can get my photos downloaded which has been a pain)

Painting - 30 figures finished and magnetised - some of these won't need a lot of work.  I will try to progress the figures that I targeted in August

Overall pledge - I will keep setting targets as long as I can hit 2 out of 3 as I did in August