Sunday, June 2, 2019

Generic Army Update

My latest project is underway. I received the figures from Magister Militum and have begun to paint.

I decided to start with a slightly reduced army for the 2 main combatants - red and blue. The initial armies will consist of 4 heavy / line infantry, 2 light infantry, 2 heavy cavalry, 2 light cavalry, and 2 artillery.

Heavy / Line Infantry (left) and Light Infantry (right). I cut down the pikes on the heavy infantry; the finished product will be able to stand in as either pikemen or musketeers.

Heavy Cavalry (left) and Light Cavalry (right)

Artillery crew and gun

I have begun painting the red and blue armies. Infantry

and cavalry

The project has stalled a bit due to work but I hope to get it going again soon.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Never Forget

Never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by our valiant defenders.

We remain free because of them. Thank you.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Battle of Hook's Crossroads

Reveling in his victory at Apostrophe Hill, the Marquis des Aix-En-Pains sat in his pavilion sipping on the finest local vintage. With the drubbing he gave the Duke of Bad Schmaltzberg, he did not expect their war to continue. However, he was surprised when a messenger entered.

"Excellency! Bad Schmaltzberg is advancing!"

"What? Where?!" exclaimed the startled Marquis.

"He is trying to march around our right flank!"

Quickly the Marquis acted. He called his commanders and ordered them to prepare to move out. They would cut off the Duke's march and again punish him for his temerity.

The Duke's forces (bottom) approach the crossroad but the Marquis has blocked the road.

The Marquis sets up a defensive position on the hill (left) while the Duke advances.
There is a cavalry clash on the right; the Marquis's troopers are forced back.

Firefights erupt across the line.

The Duke's infantry takes the worst of it.

One of the Ducal infantry battalions flees. However, the Marquis's horse is overrun (right)

The Ducal cavalry tries to turn the flank while volleys thunder across the valley.

Time and again, the Ducal cavalry charges, only to be driven off.

Another Ducal battalion flees.

And another. As the Duke's assault on the hill grinds to a halt, the Marquis rushes to take the crossroads. The Ducal cavalry retreats. One regiment is felled by musketry.

 The Marquis's men reach the crossroads as the final Ducal cavalry are slaughtered.

The Duke's infantry drives the enemy from the crossroads but cannot seize it themselves.

With more enemy troops closing in, the remaining Ducal battalion decides to retreat from the field. Another victory for the Marquis!

Game Notes

  • According to the scenario rules, this is technically a draw because neither side controlled the crossroads at the end. I am calling it a narrow victory for Aix-En-Pains because they have a decided advantage.
  • An odd situation cropped up at the end of the game. Per the Simplicity in Hexes rules, victorious attackers do not take vacated ground. This happened in turn 14; the Duke's infantry wiped out the enemy battalion holding the crossroads. The Duke's men could not follow up. In the next turn, the Marquis positioned infantry adjacent to the crossroads. The Duke could not seize the crossroads; his men would advance adjacent to but not facing an enemy unit. It seemed like an illegal move! I may have to look into Kaptain Kobold's suggestions for SiH.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Generic Army Project

I know I'm crazy. In the midst of a miniatures purge I just ordered a big batch of 3mm miniatures from Magister Mililtum! Why would I do something that crazy?

It all stems from a concept that has been brewing in my mind. At the smaller miniature scales, general unit information (foot vs. horse, formation, and general uniform colors) is visible but uniform details are very difficult to discern. It dawned on me that I could use that same figures to represent units from ancients through the horse & musket eras. How is that so? With judicious selections I can build generic units of heavy infantry, light infantry, heavy cavalry, and light cavalry (although I'm also adding some artillery specifically for gunpowder eras).

Here is my plan for the generic armies:
  • I ordered the minis from Magister Militum's 3mm line (I found that 2mm is a bit too small for decent photos)
  • I plan to build 3 armies - red, blue, and white or brown (for natives)
  • Each army will consist of 4 units each of heavy infantry, light infantry, heavy cavalry, and light cavalry plus 2 units of artillery
  • Composition of the different categories of units:
    • Heavy Infantry - Renaissance (i.e. ECW) pikemen in helmets. I plan to cut the pikes down to spear size. I chose to do this because they have helmets without shields. They can represent either spear-armed ancient/medieval infantry or helmeted musketeers.
    • Light Infantry - Ancient skirmishing archers. At a distance the bow could be taken for a musket. Either way, they should be distinguishable as skirmishers.
    • Heavy Cavalry - Age of Reason cuirassiers (because of their body armor without shields)
    • Light Cavalry - Age of Reason hussars
What about my existing 3mm units? While I think they look good, they are obviously restricted in temporal scope. My fantasy armies are equipped with shields and my horse & musket armies wear tricorns. Thus, they are expendable. I'm holding onto the horse & musket figures for now but ultimately plan on replacing them when the new armies are ready.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Battle of Apostrophe Hill

After their rather sharp disagreement at the Emperor's Ball, it is no surprise that the Marquis des Aix-En-Pains and the Duke of Bad Schmaltzberg found themselves embroiled in war!

Game Note: This is the first game of my replay of the War of the Emperor's Balls campaign, and the associated Simplicity in Hexes rules which can be found at the Numbers, Wargames and Arsing About blog. Many thanks to Kaptain Kobold of The Stronghold Rebuilt for posting about it; that is how I found the rules/campaign. Now back to the story!

The Duke stole a march on his rival and advances into the Marquis' territory. His vanguard runs into a force defending a hill.

Game Note: The first battle uses scenario 4 from One Hour Wargames, in which the entire Blue army enters on turn 1. For this play-through I added an activation mechanic; roll 2D6 and use the higher roll to indicate the number of units that can act in the turn. The mechanic is borrowed from Squad Hammer.

Accurate fire by the artillery on the hill drives off some cavalry. However, the Duke's full army advances onto the battlefield.

Infantry and cavalry try to assault the artillery on the hill. The cannon fire is just to much to bear.

Reinforcements from the Marquis arrive. The Marquis' horse routs the Ducal cavalry.

Repeated assaults on the hill left the Duke's second cavalry in tatters and an infantry unit in full flight.

The remaining Ducal cavalry also flees as firefights break out across the field.

Another Ducal infantry routs.

The remaining infantry persevere.

Game Note: I also added an army morale mechanic, a la the Portable Wargame. Once an army passed 50% casualties it had to roll morale or would be forced to call off attacks. The Duke's army passed its morale test.

But the volume of fire against them is too great.

And they are cut down.

The Marquis des Aix-En-Pains has inflicted some pain upon his rival. He is confident that the Duke will retreat, and he will be ready to pounce!

Game Notes
When I read Kaptain Kobold's test game of Simplicity in Hexes I was intrigued. I had perused Neil Thomas's Simplicity in Practice rules (the basis for SiH) before but ironically found them unnecessarily convoluted. If they could be simplified, however, they could very well meet my needs. I took a peek (they're free after all) and liked what I saw. I decided to give them a test run.

For my first test, I played them as written, aside from adding activation and army morale mechanics (as described above). Also, obviously, I used a square instead of hex grid.

Overall, they are a well done set of rules. Movement is pretty standard although the movement rate is shorter than my typical rules (1 space for infantry). However, the rate works well on the small grid (I used 8 x 10 but standard SiH uses a 6 x 6 grid). Firing is straightforward - for each unit firing roll a D6 with a target number based on the unit firing. Success = 1 hit. Modifiers are kept to a minimum. So far so good in my eyes.

At first glance, I was a bit concerned about melee (or charge combat as labeled in SiH). It uses an opposed die roll mechanic, with the combat result dependent on the difference between rolls. I'm usually not a fan of having to calculate differences; I prefer to look at the die roll and immediately know if I hit or not. Nevertheless, I decided to give the charge combat rules a try. I must admit that they worked better than I expected. The math was not too onerous (at least I did not have to divide!). Furthermore, I found a few advantages to this system:

  • Because of the different mechanic, melee felt different than fire. I think that's appropriate.
  • The defender has a chance to damage the attacker. Again, it felt right.
  • I forgot to apply the roll of 6 = 2 hits rule in fire combat. As a result, melee tended to be a bit more decisive than fire combat. Ironically, that also seemed appropriate.
  • Interestingly, melee is automatic if a unit enters a space adjacent to an enemy. This simple rule solves a problem with which I have struggled lo these many years. Are adjacent enemies engaged in a firefight or crossing bayonets? Well, Jay Ward (author of SiH) has come to my rescue!
  • Although it never came up, the retreat rules also simply yet effectively account for troops in defensive positions. If defeated in melee, defenders typically retreat. If it is a minor defeat, however, troops in defensive positions may stay put. A serious defeat will see them bail out regardless of their position. Again, it is simple yet makes sense.
I am a big proponent of miniature rules having to feel right. I must say that SiH gets it right for melee, as well as for the rest. There was not one area of the rules that I had a major disagreement with. There are some areas I still need to explore (I did not use a leader and I'm not sold on the SiH approach yet). At the core, however, I enthusiastically say that these rules work really well! You will definitely see more SiH on my table!

If that were not enough, Mr. Ward also provides a short and simple campaign. It is only 3 games long, which should be perfect for an evening of battle (My first test game lasted 39 minutes). It utilizes the scenarios from One Hour Wargames. I have been a big fan of OHW scenarios for years. They are interesting tactical situations but are short games that require only 6 units per side. They are perfect for this Lazy Gamer!

Overall, I must say kudos to Mr. Ward - Simplicity in Hexes is a real winner!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Purge Returns

Recently I have been cleaning out the garage, which got me started on organizing my wargaming collection.

The first thing I did was to clean up my painting area. I had a little fold-up table in the garage which served as a painting table. However, it tended to impede movement around the garage. I decided to put it away. I took the jumble of supplies that was sitting on the table and boxed them. The most crucial elements are in a single box, which I intend to use as a portable painting area.

I also tried minimize the amount of stuff I had lying around in odd places. Instead, I gathered everything of current use into boxes. Each box has basic components for game-play, including miniatures/tokens, markers, dice, and (mostly) erasable battle-mats. I now have the following boxes:
Last year, I began a process of gleaning out some miniatures that I did not expect to use anymore. I now have more in the pile (I added my 2mm forces - they just don't show up well on blog photos). I am ready to part with them and will be posting them in the near future (free + shipping).

You may have noticed that I now only have blocks for ancients to horse & musket eras. This does not mean that I am eschewing miniatures entirely for those periods. I am thinking of a new 3mm generic army project. More on that later.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Lazy Gamer Block Armies

It's been a while since my last installment of the Lazy Gamer's Guide. I had been discussing the principle of "going small" by using smaller miniatures and the options available for miniature gamers. Then I suggested another alternative - block armies. Let's discuss this topic today.

"Play a game with blocks?!" some may say in horror. Let me explain why it is a perfectly valid option for Lazy Gamers. A while back there was a post on The Miniatures Page (TMP) about the use of unpainted miniatures. I ruminated about the debate in a blog post, concluding that most miniature gamers on TMP appear to be high on the modeling aspect of the hobby whereas I was principally a gamer.

How I rate on the Gamer / Modeler axes
I suspect that most Lazy Gamers are like me; they just want to game and are not as interested in the "spectacle." (If the "spectacle" is important to you, you may as well just click away now ;) ). Well I found that block armies allow the lazy gamer to get to the game quickly with minimal preparations.

What do I mean by block armies? Instead of using miniatures for the units in my armies, I use painted wooden blocks. My blocks are small - 20 x 10 mm, 20 x 5 mm, or 10 x 10 mm pieces of 3mm thick wood that I got from Litko. You could, of course, make your own using bits of wood. I tried and found it difficult getting precise cuts. Litko does it for me efficiently and for a reasonable price. I just slap some paint on them and am ready to roll.

Infantry are the larger blocks, painted a solid color. I have recently added little bits of wood to act as flags. Light infantry are narrower blocks. Artillery are the smaller square blocks, with a cannon painted on them. Generals are square blocks with a flag painted on them (I'm using simple crosses for my Francesian armies)

Line Infantry, Artillery, Light Infantry, General
I am still trying to work out how to display cavalry in an aesthetically pleasing way. I was inspired by the blocks in the second picture of this post from Wargaming Odyssey. I used 2 smaller blocks on top instead of 1 (to signify heavy cavalry; I intended to use 1 block for lights). The top blocks obscure the bottom too much so I experimented with painting instead, However, I could not do a straight line. I am still experimenting with cavalry.

Two attempts at cavalry.
Anyway, in my eyes, one of the keys to making block armies work is the terrain. I personally think blocks look a little odd when used on terrain designed for figures. However, the original Kriegsspiel featured block armies maneuvering on a map, a look that I rather like.

A Kriegspiel game (from Wikipedia)
I have taken inspiration from Kriegsspiel and use a 2 dimensional map for my block army games. I picked up a Pathfinder flip mat and some dry-erase markers. I now draw out the scenario's terrain.

An example of a 2D battlefield
I think this approach gives a Kriegsspiel feel to my games (even if the map is not as detailed as a Kriegsspiel map). The other benefit is that it is incredibly easy to do; I do not have to spend any time building and painting terrain to play a game. It's the ultimate lazy gamer's battlefield!

Thus, I highly recommend block armies for the lazy gamer. The armies are very simple to prepare (especially if you order pre-cut blocks) and the map is a snap. It'll have you actually playing games in no time.

Another aspect of going small is to reduce your battlefield.