Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:5-6 NIV)

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tweenwater War - Battle of Hartvale

Battle 1 of the Tweenwater War Eastern Front

In the initial stage of the Tweenwater War, Bluderian forces unsuccessfully tried to cross the Crystal River into the Redgravian held province. Meanwhile, Imperial forces advanced on the city of Blancport.

Redgrave sent the Auburn Army to reinforce the defenders of Blancport.

The Blancport Army sent forth a detachment, which occupied the strategic village of Hartvale. Alas, their forces were outnumbered by the vanguard of the Imperial Army. But then trumpets sounded and the defenders witnessed a heartening sight. Reinforcements crested the ridge west of the village.

Intent on seizing the village, the Imperial forces marched forward, ignoring the reinforcements on the hill. Long range artillery damaged the Imperial battery.

Unfortunately, the forced march of the reinforcements left them in disarray. As a result, they dithered in getting into action. Only Paxson's Brigade managed to open fire. Long-range musketry ensued.

On the Imperial left, two brigades of infantry approached Hartvale. Artillery ripped huge holes in the line. Long range musketry took its toll on the right.

The assault begins. An Imperial brigade holds off Paxson. But what of the rest of the reinforcements? They still dithered on the ridge.

 After heated actions, Paxson's brigade wipes out its Imperial counterpart. The assault on the village silences the artillery but Redgravian infantry take up the defense.

Paxson begins marching to the village. Sustained attacks annihilate the village's defenders.

But before the attackers can secure the village, Paxson rushes in.

But the attackers are too strong. Paxson's Brigade is scatttered. Meanwhile, General Spengler realizes the dire situation. He acts, sending cavalry into the fray. Unfortunately, he holds the rest of his force "in reserve" on the hill.

The cavalry vainly assault the village. Some troopers manage to make it into the streets and cut down the enemy. Resistance is too strong and the cavalry is thrown back.

 Finally, the cavalry is routed. Spengler orders his artillery to open fire to no avail. He now loses heart and orders the retreat.

With the fall of Hartvale, the road to Blancport is open to the Imperial Army.

Scenario Notes
This is scenario 28 - Botched Relief. Although the attackers are outnumbered, the defender's reinforcements (on the hill) can only operate one at a time. This gives the attackers a chance to meet their objectives without being overwhelmed.

The rules are essentially an adaptation of Memoir '44 with the Song of Blade and Heroes activation. Units can use extra activations to move further or add dice to their attacks.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Virtual Horse and Musket

After playing a satisfactory sci-fi version of One Hour Wargames on a virtual board, I started thinking about earlier periods. I tried an ancient/medieval battle but was not completely happy with the result.

The units made from PowerPoint shapes seemed to clash with the terrain, which was pictures of terrain items.

This got me thinking about alternate units. I tried Junior General, but I could not get them in the dense ranks at the scale I wanted. I then saw that someone had photographed their miniatures for use on a virtual tabletop. I decided to try that with my 3mm Magister Militum horse and musket figures.

My cat Cooper photobombed my first attempt.

But I finally got the shots and then copied them onto my battlefield.

Better, but still needs work. In particular, the bases clash with the background. I tried removing the background but it was too fiddly. I could take some stands off the bases and photograph them against a white background. I think it would be easier to remove in PowerPoint. I just didn't relish the thought of de-basing stands.

I was looking at some virtual units I created last year. They were just simple rectangles but they looked nice. They reminded me of units on a map, like this:

Which put me in mind of a game that Kaptain Kobold reviewed. W1815 used simple blocks on a map. I find the game to be rather attractive. I wondered if I could emulate something similar. So I changed my approach. When I started my crazy virtual wargaming phase, I created a tracker that used an old-time looking map as the background. I recycled the background, and turned it into this:

I actually rather like it. This is One Hour Wargames scenario 28 - Botched Relief. I set it in the long-stalled Tweenwater War. I played one battle then put the campaign on hiatus until I finished an Imperial army. I'm still waiting.

In the Tweenwater War, Redgrave is fighting on 2 fronts. I already set up their next confrontation with Bluderia.

This is scenario 12 - An Unfortunate Oversight.

It's not as pretty as actual miniatures, but I like the look. More importantly, virtual tabletops have me playing games at an unprecedented pace (for me)!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

More Virtual OHW

Today I played another One Hour Wargames scenario using a virtual board. Once again, battle raged for the planet Frigidair (the battle report is posted on Tales of the Templars).

The scenario is # 7 - Flank Attack (2).
The Frigidair defenders are trying to hold a hill against a Federation attack.

I created the battlefield in PowerPoint, using shapes and pictures from the internet for the terrain. The troops came from Junior General. I actual like the look of the battlefield,

The rules are essentially Memoir '44 with a sci-fi theme. Units include infantry, power infantry (rangers), armor, and missile launchers (artillery). Infantry can deploy force shields (sandbags). Instead of cards, I use the Song of Blade and Heroes activation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

One Hour Wargames . . . IN SPAAAACE

If you read this blog regularly you may have noticed that I like using similar game mechanics across genres. Recently I did it for a spaceship battle.

The scenario was part of the Kate and Kip storyline so the game report is on my Tales of the Templars blog. Here is a sample:

The Rules
I revamped my rules for spaceship battles. Here is a summary:

  1. Initiative - rolled at the beginning of the battle.
  2. Activation - Like many of my other rules sets, I use the Song of Blades and Heroes activation system. I think it adds a great fog of war to my solo battles.
  3. Movement - The same as my old spaceship tules.
  4. Combat - I changed this a bit. I'm now using the same mechanics as my skirmish rules:
    • Each ship has an Attack value. Roll this and score 4+ for a hit.
    • The defending ship then rolls its Defense, needing a 4+ to negate a hit.
    • If a ship suffers hits >= its Damage value, it is destroyed.
Ships stats are as follows (Attack/Defense/Damage)

  • Cruisers - 3/2/3
  • Destroyers - 2/1/3
  • Fighter Squadrons - 3/2/2
  • Moon Base - 3//2/3
I found that the new combat rules greatly simplified and streamlined the game. For some reason, it is easier to remember the different number of dice to throw as opposed to having different hit numbers. I did "goof up" and forgot some modifiers that were in my original spaceship rules. Ships firing forward and damaged ships suffered penalties, but I forgot to apply them. Honestly, I don't think  the game really suffered.

The Scenario
Here's where One Hour Wargames came into play. I rolled randomly and came up with Scenario 30 - Last Stand. This is perfect because I envisioned the Frigidair defenders as being outgunned by the Federation.

In this scenario, the defenders only have 3 units. One may be placed in a redoubt on a hill. I replaced the standard setup with a fortified base on a moon. The attackers can recycle any eliminated ships but the defenders can win by holding out for 15 turns.

I randomly determined additional terrain (moonlets that block line of sight and act as cover due to their magnetic fields disrupting sensors) and then set the units on the board.


  • For a long time, I resisted using defense rolls (i.e. saving throws) in my rules. I thought it was pointless to add more dice rolling. Now that I am using them I like them. I think they add more suspense (I'm hit! Can I shake it off?). I think they would be problematic with more units on the board but I've actually come to prefer the smaller-sized games.
  • Using activation rolls with OHW scenarios can be problematic. Thomas'sscenarios don't expect a unit to remain stationary. If a unit misses an activation roll or two, it may not be able to accomplish as much in 15 turns as Thomas envisioned. I thought that might be the case with this scenario. Early on, the Federation moved ponderously. I did not think its ships would make it within range of the moonbase. They began moving later in the game so it was not a problem in the end.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Flip Flop

I created my Tales of the Templars blog to record role-playing game reports. I expected that RPGs would only play a secondary role in my gaming experience and TotT would take a back seat to this blog. Recently, however, the situation has reversed. I started playing skirmish games that are essentially light role-playing games. Because these skirmishes created RPG-like narratives, I began reporting on the games in TotT. Now, the latest adventure (or mis-adventure) of Kate and Kip has led to a full-fledged sci-fi wargame campaign. Because the later wargames tie into Kate and Kip's story line, I placed the reports on TotT.

Thanks to my vacation, and the practicality of my virtual games, I have already played out a couple of scenarios of this campaign.

The Federation has launched an air raid on the planet Frigidair. First, Federation fighters must clear out the enemy interceptors.

Rules Notes

  • I played the game on an offset square grid. Offset squares work like hexes (each space has 6 adjoining spaces).
  • For movement, I used the template I created for dogfights.
  • Each turn, I plotted my fighters' movement. Then I rolled randomly for enemy movement (D3 for distance. Then I selected plausible maneuvers and choose one randomly).
  • I then rolled initiative for combat order.
  • I used the base mechanics from my skirmish games for combat. Each craft was assigned Attack/Defense/Hit ratings. The Federation were better because they had stronger craft and better pilots.
    • Federation fighters were 3/2/3
    • The enemy interceptors were 2/1/2
  • Range = 4 spaces

Air Raid
Once the interceptors were cleared, in came the bombers. They needed to destroy the control post (inside the cave on the right).

Rules Notes

  • Because maneuvering was not particularly important, I used different rules.
  • Each bomber rolled a D3 for move distance. The randomness added suspense to the game (how long would it take for the bombers to reach a point where they could fire at the target? Would they make it there?)
  • For each space moved, a bomber could turn 1 side. Turning did not play much of a role as the bombers pretty much headed straight to the target
  • I then rolled initiative for combat
  • Similar to the dogfight rules, I assigned Attack/Defend/Hits ratings to each craft/unit:
    • Federation bombers = 2-3/2/3
      • Bombers had an attack factor of 2 vs. AA (assuming light missiles)
      • They attacked with 3 dice vs. the control post (assuming heavy torpedoes)
    • AA guns = 3/3/2
    • The control post = 0/2/3
  •  Bombers had a range of 4 while the AA guns could fire 6 spaces.

What's Next?
It's been a while since I played a space battle but that's next on the agenda, followed by a ground battle. If the Federation wins, then Kate and Kip will be released. If not, I'm going to run a rescue mission skirmish game.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Good and Bad Day

I write this while sitting in the hotel room at Walt Disney World. That makes it a good day (especially because I'm not at work). We'll be heading to the park soon and then enjoying lunch at the new Be Our Guest restaurant.

Be Our Guest restaurant
From the Disney website
Another thing that makes it a good day is my virtual skirmish game. I brought my laptop so I can play wargames while I wait for my wife to wake up. Games AND Disney. Awesome!

What makes it a bad day is the Kate and Kip scenario I played this morning. Kate and Kip are my sci-fi secret agent characters. I've been playing out their adventures using my virtual skirmish rules (game reports are on my Tales of the Templar blog).

Warning: Spoilers (you may want to read the battle report first)
Yesterday, I played out the first part of an adventure. My heroes had a bit of bad luck; one of the enemy soldiers escaped. I ruled that he then alerted the defenders in the second part of the adventure. So Kate and Kip walked into a virtual hornet's nest.

I then made a tactical error. On the first turn, I had the 2 characters attack the same enemy soldier. Kate killed him and Kip had no other targets. If Kip had gone after and killed another soldier, the next round may have gone differently. My other mistake was to roll very poorly. As a result, Kate and Kip have been captured - making it a bad day for them. This was my first failed mission among the scenarios I played. But it opens up a lot of possibilities: a rescue mission (with my Space Templar characters), an orbital space battle, and a planetary invasion - another reason it's a good day.. Stay tuned for some sci-fi battles!