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Saturday 23 June 2018

Ball and Chain

A kind gentleman recently posted a generous offer on facebook,  Rules that he no longer required - free to a good home. Included was a set of Fantasy rules that I had never heard of - Ball and Chain.
Published in the mid 90s they looked a little old school but certainly worth a game to try them out.  I posted about them on the Falkirk club facebook page and Following our game of Hannibal Crossing the Alps both Tim and Doug offered to play a game the following Monday.
I was happy to arrange something as I have been wanting to get some more of my growing collection of elves on the table.  This is the 3 way scenario I came up with

The Elvish race came into existence at the birth of the world.  For eons they lived in peace and harmony. Despite their famed longevity few if any of even the oldest elves remember the so called Golden Time.
Then came the Great Sundering, the scattering of the families and an everlasting legacy of hostility and  hatred between them.  The old Elvish lands are remote, desolate and wild.  Occasionally intrepid rangers or foolish adventurers venture there in search of ancient artefacts.  None of any great power has ever been recovered but rumours of a hoard with strange properties have been circulating around the Courts.  Small parties have been dispatched by competing clans to investigate and return with anything that may be of value.
Ball and Chain by Dave Garnham
6 x 4 table covered in woods and with a reasonably large central glade.  Paths lead from each of the four corners to the glade. Three elf forces will randomly enter down 3 of the 4 paths.  Each player rolls for deployment and comes on (up to 6 inches) on a roll of 6 on the first turn, 5 or 6 on the second etc. Roll to see entry point once a successful deployment roll has been made. 
There will be 2 imps that will appear when a player for any reason rolls 49, 50 or 51.  This player can place an imp anywhere he likes on the board and it will immediately attack the nearest elves.
There will be 12 artefacts scattered in the glade or just inside the woods bordering the glade.  They will be of 2 types. An elf in sole contact with an artefact at the end of its turn will have picked it up by the start of the next turn. If an elf carrying an artefact is killed it is difficult for it to be recovered and requires a 6 at the end of the first turn searching, a 5 or 6 at the end of the second turn etc.  Any searcher engaging in combat breaks the search sequence and if they wish to try again must start with a 6.  No elf may carry more than 2 artefacts.  If an elf tries to carry artefacts of different types there is a (one off) 10% chance of a deadly adverse reaction. No elf will voluntarily give up an artefact in any circumstances.

The aim for each group is to get off the board with as many artefacts as possible.  At the end of the game it will be apparent that although all the artefacts have power one type is vastly more desirable than the other.  There is no way of knowing this in advance so this will be determined only once the game has finished.  The group that has left the field with the most of the more desirable artefacts wins.

My biggest mistake was to go for a 4 x 6 table as this meant that 2 of the forces were inevitably going to be closer to each other and it would take the 3rd longer to engage.  This was made worse by all 3 rolling to enter the table on the same turn.  Doug with Dark Elves soon engaged my Wood Elves and Tim with his High Elves remained some distance away

The rules worked OK.  There was some difficulty with those for horsemen in combat and shooting but we made on the hoof interpretations to get something workable.  I got the upper hand against Doug early on but a couple of long range shots from Tim took a couple of my guys out and before long I was down to one man!  Having recovered most of the artefacts and all those within reasonable reach both Tim and Doug started to withdraw from opposite ends of the table when an Imp finally appeared. It was nearly packing up time so we let it do a couple of rounds of combat before calling it a day.

We all had fun.  The rules are usable and could certainly be easily modified to iron out our difficulties.  It was good to get some more of my Elves on the table and I now have a setting that would be usable for future games.


The Wood Elves advance

Brave Dark Elf charges 

The Imp arrives

Postscript: Looking at my background for the scenario I talk about  a Great Sundering of the Elves.  This is actually the way Tolkien describes the break up of the Elves.  I don't remember reading it and haven't actually read any Tolkien post the Silmarillion which I struggled through once.  I suppose it either is in the Silmarillion or I have somehow picked it up elsewhere.  I thought I was my own idea, although almost all fantasy owes at least something to the great man.  I think I will just keep it in anyway.

Games 63
 Rules played 26 New 11
Places played 10 New 0

Hannibal Crossing the Alps

Amazingly one of my projects is at last coming together!  Some time last year Tim introduced me to the Piqet derived Pulse of Battle set of Ancient rules.  He also had in his possession a copy of a scenario booklet called Hannibal Ad Portas which covers the period from Hannibal leaving Spain to advance into Italy to the Battle of Zama.  I have a painted Republican Roman army, a Gallic army and various Spanish, Numidians and Africans.  By using some of my Grek and Macedonian figures to pad out a bit I pretty much had enough figures to play the scenarios for just a bit of painting and some rebasing.  The main area of difficulty was having enough Roman figures to do the bigger battles.

The first scenario is the only what if and depicts a contested River Crossing as the Carthaginians moved into Gallic territory.  It assumes Roman cavalry support which is a bit of a problem as I would need about 50 cavalry figures at least 20 more than I had.  I decided to bypass that as the second scenario is Hannibal crossing the Alps.  The Gallic side was already available and completing the Carthaginian side would give me 90% of the figures that I would need for the Carthginian for most of the rest of the battles.

I am not a quick painter/rebaser but a deadline is a wonderful thing and I managed to get them all near enough for the battle.  The board was a very unusual affair with a path snaking its way from one side to the other between mountains and in the centre a forest.  One of the issues was that the scenarios were written for a different set of rules so there was an element of improvisation as we went through the game.

The set up has the main Carthaginian force advancing down the path parallel to  one side of the table with multiple snake like bends to traverse,  Some light forces hold the heights covering the exit points.  The Gauls come on randomly on either flank when the appropriate card is drawn. Given the length of the column there is always likely to be a Carthaginian unit capable of being ambushed.  However the Carthaginian units are generally of better quality than the Gauls.
Some Pictures
The Carthaginian Column as it advanced into the Pass


Nearer the end of the game with the Carthaginian column strung out but the Gauls unable to stop the relentless advance

  I ran the Carthaginians and Doug the Gauls.  In the end the weight and power of Hannibal's troops were too much for the opposing tribesmen, much as the case in history.  There were casualties inflicted however including a pushed back elephant that we agreed had gone plunging down the Apline slopes to it's death.  At least someone was dining on elephant steaks that night!
A most unusual game.

Games 62
 Rules played 25 New 10
Places played 10 New 0

Friday 15 June 2018

First Impressions of Strongsword

Kev backed the Westphalia kickstarter which included a set of fantasy rules authored by the excellent Dan Mersey and brought them along to the club to let myself and Rory have a go
I had a band of adventurers, basically humans plus an elf ranger and a dwarf whilst Rory took the Goblins.  A gang of Forest Trolls had taken up residence in a village and were steadily eating their way through the corpses of the former residents, our mission was to destroy the trolls and then battle it out for control of the village.
The defining mechanic of the rules is the fact that each force has to define one of 6 battle states (or was it stances?) at the start of each turn. 1 and 2 have the emphasis on rallying and falling back, 3 and 4 shooting with some movement and 5 and 6 attack.  Each force has to change its state each turn.
I started with some turns at 3 and 4 shooting at the trolls and then the goblins at either full or half strength.  Rory did a couple of shots and then moved up into contact.  The trolls were difficult to kill with a hit roll needing to be followed by a kill roll (enough for most) and than a second kill roll.  Despite this my archery was effective and in the end I took down 4 of the 6 trolls.  My magician had bad night not getting off any difficult spells at all and only causing some minor nuisance.
The trolls blocking the road

With the trolls out of the way the goblins advanced into contact and shooting was largely forgotten.  They had lost some casualties to the trolls and were split up a bit so were rather outnumbered, although to be fair this had a minor effect and they did a good job of holding on for quite a while before I was able to pretty much finish them off.
The Goblins advance

All in all an interesting game.  The rules were not stand out but had a couple of interesting twists and should be good for a few more games.
Nice to have photography available again!  

Games 61
 Rules played 25 New 10
Places played 10 New 0

Saturday 9 June 2018

La Gloire! Or Rotten Luck RN!

Being without a game last Monday and not having any time to prepare anything myself my plaintive plea on our club Facebook group brought forward an offer of the Napoleonic Naval game Kiss me Hardy from John which I gratefully accepted.
This was a follow up to an earlier scenario which had resulted in the Commodore of a French fleet and his ship being taken by the RN.  However the French had managed to regain control of their ship but were now being chased down by their former captor.  Peter took the French ship and John P (the game organiser was John E) his British pursuer.
Meanwhile 3 French ships (mine) and 2 RN (Kevan) hastened to join the fight.
I say hastened but I actually made a rather leisurely approach.  The briefing suggested intense rivalry between my commander and his superior (Peter).  I played to character with the hope that sufficient damage might be done prior to my arrival to give me an edge when I got into combat and if my commander ended up being the most senior French officer present well so be it!
In fact John P made fairly short work of his opponent with a vicious stern rake inflicting a lot of damage and Peter was forced to strike.  I speeded up and detached one ship to go after John and sailed my other into action against Kevan.  Now I am no expert on sailing ships and benefited from a lot of good advice from the umpire and indeed my opponents as to what was and was not possible.  However I can (sometimes) roll good dice and started to get the better of my opponents.
The real story of the night was not my good dice rolls but John’s appalling luck.  When firing multiple d6s are rolled to hit.  At the same time a D10 is rolled and if the number on it is equal to or less than the successful D6 hit rolls special damage is done.  This can be pretty devastating with masts, officer casualties and even the magazine at risk.  However on a 1 a gun in the firing ship blows up causing damage on itself.
In the space of very few rolls John rolled special damage 3 times and then proceeded to roll a 1 on each occasion.  This together with other damage (including High Officer Casualties inflicted by myself on a special damage roll) gave him a 15% chance of failing a strike test.  You can of course guess the result of his roll.
So my commander had captured a RN ship and in the process reclaimed it’s prize (and unfortunately its captain) for France.  A change in wind and the advanced hour meant that we called it there.
Vive La France!
Games 60
 Rules played 24 New 9
Places played 10 New 0

Friday 8 June 2018

Deep Fried Lard 2018

Saturday 2nd June saw me make my annual trip to Musslebrough Rugby club for a day’s Lardy rules wargaming organised as usual by Derek.  He had a number of last minute cancellations and reorganising to do but it all worked out fine.
We normally have a few Falkirk club members playing but this year it was just myself and John and I played in his Coastal Patrol game in the morning.  Some German S Boats had managed to ambush a British convoy and were soon attacking with some verve. I ran some MTBs who appeared a little late in the day but whose heavy armament offered the biggest threat to the Germans.
There was a successful torpedo hit on a merchant ship and other damage to the merchant men and close escort.  The Germans did not go unscathed however and my boats also caused some damage without sinking anything.  When the game was called it was probably a German victory as they had stuck to their task of going after the merchantmen well.
In the afternoon I was happy to get into a 10mm What a Tanker game.  I have made the decision to jump into this scale and was keen to see how it played.  It was set in 1940 with 3 of us taking the French against the invading Germans.
My tank tootled around a bit and got into some quite good positions before eventually being blown up.  On this evidence I don’t think early war works as well as mid or late war as the relatively low number of strike dice make it difficult (although certainly not impossible) to do significant damage  The game was declared a draw with both sides down to one tank sheltering in opposing woods.
A really fun days gaming  - thanks to Derek for organising.
Games 59

 Rules played 23 New 9
Places played 10 New 0