Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Just Make Up My Mind!

I was looking for something on my blog and accidentally came across this post, dated January 2014, relating my miniatures history. It's ironic that I came across that post because my miniatures history is experiencing another watershed. I just received my first order of Magister Militum 3mm medievals so my Baccus 6mm are now expendable.

Anyway, let's bring my history up to date:

  • More 10mm - I started a medieval project using Kallistra miniatures. It did not get far.
  • 2mm - I painted up some 2mm Irregular minis for a medieval project
  • 6mm - I sold my 10mm and 2mm miniatures and switched to Baccus 6mm for both my horse & musket and medieval projects.
  • 3mm - I then switched over to Magister Militum 3mm for both horse & musket and now medieval. I plan to get rid of my Baccus medievals.
I just wish I would make up my mind. :)

Note that this does not include my Aetheria project (air combat using Brigade Models' aeronef miniatures; not sure of the scale)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A HOTT Time in Anarendor

Courtesy of Kaptain Kobold (author of the excellent Stronghold Rebuilt blog), I have a copy of the Hordes of the Things (HOTT) rules. I mentioned before that I grew jaded with DBA (the forerunner of HOTT) so I didn't plan on using them. I was primarily interested in stealing ideas (such as the troop type classifications). Nevertheless, I decided to give them a test.

My medieval troops are based on 20mm wide stands (half the recommended size) so I decided to do a half scale test with 100 paces = 1/2 inch. Midway through the game I grew tired of the glacial movement so I switched to 100 paces = 1 inch, which provided a more interesting game.

I also used half-sized armies (12 AP). Here are the combatants:

  • Swartherian barbarians (gold & red army) - 1 Spear (Gen), 10 Horde
  • Anarendorians (silver & white army) - 2 Knights (1 is the Gen), 2 Spears, 2 Shooter

For the Anarendor stronghold (bottom center), I placed a couple of buildings and my unpainted barricade from yesterday's game. I added a stand of archers just for looks.

Game Report
Once again, the Swartherians have invaded Anarendor. This time they snuck through the passes and are descending upon one of the Anarendorian strongholds. A force of knights, spears, and archers prepare to contest the invasion.

The barbarians (top), formed into 3 commands, advance on the stronghold.

First blood occurs on the right flank. The archers have taken position in some rough ground. As the enemy approaches, the archers decimate one horde and force another back.

More barbarians fall to the archers. Meanwhile, in the center, a brutal melee break out. A retinue of knights attacks a horde's flank and wipes it out. The rest of the barbarian line falls back.

But the barbarians would not go easily. Encouraged by the chieftain, they beat back the advancing Anarendorians and wipe out a unit of spears.

More hordes appear in the distance. However, the knights finally ride down the chieftain, breaking the barbarian army.

  • I was pleasantly surprised with the game. Although I enjoyed DBA in the past, I eventually tired of it. I encountered too many cases where there was a stalemate as the units simply pushed each other back and forward. That did not happen in this game.
  • I still intend to proceed with my dice pool rules but I will experiment more with HOTT (although I'll probably only use 12 AP armies).
  • You may have noticed that the barbarian command on the left never got into action. The barbarians started rolling some pretty poor PIP rolls, leaving it stranded.
  • Although I used my 6mm figures for this game, I'll be retiring them soon. I expect to get my first batch of 3mm this week.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fantasy Experimentation

After publicly pondering the rules to use for my Anarendor project, Kaptain Kobold was kind enough to send me a PDF of the Hordes of the Things (HOTT) rules version 2.0. Although I am familiar with DBA, the forerunner of HOTT, I would like to study them more before giving them a whirl.

In the meantime, I had an itch to experiment with some rules I had in mind. To that end, I ran a small skirmish (my report was posted earlier today).

Rules Notes
Here are some notes on the rules I used:

I experimented with a dice pool, like many of my home brew rules. Attackers would roll a number of dice depending on troop type, hitting on rolls of 4+. Defenders would roll dice in order to negate hits. Beneficial terrain would increase the defender's dice pool. In a way, it is similar to the skirmish rules I have been using for much of this year.

Troops Types
These are the troops I used today:

  • Barbarian Hordes - strong in attack (3 dice) but tend to die in droves (0 defense dice and only take 2 hits, although I probably should bump it up to 3 hits)
  • Barbarian Chieftain - hardier than his hordes (3 attack, 1 defense, 4 hits)
  • Archers - not particularly powerful, but their range makes them dangerous. I used the same attack/defend stats for each side (2 attack, 0 defense) but the barbarians could only take 2 hits to the human's 4
  • Anardendor Levy - not as aggressive as the barbarians but strong of heart (2 attack, 1 defense, 4 hits. This probably should be 3)
  • Knights - strong and mobile (3 attack, 1 defense, 4 hits)
For the good guy army, I used the Song of Blade and Heroes activation method. Each unit could roll 1-3 dice to activate, needing to roll >= their quality value (4 for the purposes of this experiment). Two failures would end the turn.

For the bad guys, I wanted to take a new approach. There were 2 reasons for this:
  1. I didn't want to get into commanding the bad guy army, deciding what order to activate and how many dice to roll. Instead, I wanted to program their movements to a certain extent.
  2. I wanted to reduce the times that the bad guys failed to move. This was to create a feeling of an inexorable, seemingly overwhelming assault.
To achieve this, I simply rolled a D6 per unit every turn. On a 1, it remained immobile while on a 5-6 it moved an extra space. In general, the bad guys rushed toward their foe.

For this particular scenario, I added a wrinkle to the good army's activation. I rolled a D6 at the beginning of each turn. The knights could not begin moving until a 6 was rolled. This was to simulate the delay as they picked their way along a secret path over the ridge.

I thought about building some 3mm scale block armies, but decided against it. Instead, I ordered a couple of packs of the Magister Militum from Scale Creep (I highly recommend him). In the meantime, I used my 6mm medieval troops for today's scenario.

Final Thoughts
  • My new activation method for the bad guys worked as I hoped. In general, they rushed forward but there were occasional snafus where a unit failed to move.
  • I am increasingly pleased with the dice pool method. I especially like defense rolls. For years, I resisted them because I didn't want additional dice rolls, but now I like the variability they create.
  • I may need to play around with the troop stats, as mentioned above. I do think that giving hordes a defense of 0 creates the feel I want.
  • I did not try it out in this scenario, but I may experiment with replacing hordes, a la HOTT.

Battle for the Pass

While the army of evil swarmed over Anardendor's northern border, the kingdom's southern reaches were threatened by the barbaric tribes of Swartheria. Bribed by the Dark Lord, they too launched an invasion of their peaceful northern neighbor. Yet the Anarendorians refused to surrender without a fight!

A small force of Swartherians approach the pass into Anarendor. It consists of 2 hordes of barbaric warriors, the bodyguard of one of the barbarian chieftains, and some archers.

Behind a barricade in the pass, the local Anarendorian levy and a company of rangers await the attack. Unknown to the barbarians, there is a secret trail over the seemingly impassable cliffs. Here, the local lord and his retinue of knights prepare to spring a trap.

The barbarians rush forward. The horde is unable to make it over the barricade but their archers devastate the levy.

The hordes die in droves. Meanwhile, the Anarendor knights surge over the ridge. The barbarian chieftain is warned in time and prepares to receive a charge.

The knights and barbarians engage in an epic melee while more horde drops to the ranger's archery.

The rangers move up to the barricade and engage in an archery duel with the barbarians,

And the barbarians learn that it is never wise to challenge rangers with the bow.

The rangers take a chance, surging over the barricade to help the knights.

 The combined efforts prove too much for the chieftain. He and his bodyguard stand firm and refuse to flee. They are cut down to a man.

At least in this sector of the border, Anarendor remains safe!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Thoughts and Plots - Anarendor Project

Introducing Anarendor
For my epic fantasy project, I'm creating a new imagi-nation, which I call Anarendor. Way back when I first founded a LARP group here in Florida, I toyed with the idea of calling it "The Land of the Sun" (Florida being the Sunshine State). We eventually chose another name. Well, for this miniatures project, I decided to call my imagi-nation the "Land of the Sun." I plugged sun and land into an elvish translator I found online and I got anar and ndor - Anarendor.

Anarendor is a peaceful kingdom but evil lurks on its northern border. Deep in the mountains on that border is a dark lord. He has gathered an army of bestial creatures to his banner and now launches them on unsuspecting Anarendor.

On the invasion
Last weekend's invasion of evil scenario did not work out as well as I hoped. As I mentioned in the comments, I think it would made more sense from a narrative perspective to have the evil army trying to get across the river. It seems that in the face of an invasion, the army of good should have defended the crossing without worrying about getting anyone across.

My other beef is that the action was so limited. With only one bridge, most units could not get into contact with the other side. Thus, they sat around with nothing to do. I think this scenario would have worked better with more missile armed troops. Thus, I think it would work better for eras with firearms.

Rules and scenarios
I'm thinking of changing rules for this project. My current medieval rules use DBA-style opposed die rolls. I find the math a little annoying so I'm considering some kind of dice pool mechanism, like my skirmish rules. I'll have to play around with ideas before the next battle.

I may also tweak the scenarios. I've been using One Hour Wargames almost exclusively since I bought those rules. Admittedly, they give some great games but they did not provide the feel I want from this fantasy campaign. One aspect of epic fantasy is that the good guys are confronted from seemingly overwhelming numbers. I want to replicate this on the tabletop. This means swarms of bad guys; the evil army will need to outnumber the good guys.

In order for the scenario to be winnable, however, the bad guys need to die in droves. I'll need to take this into account in the rules

I'd like to use miniatures for this project but none of my 6mm medievals look sufficiently evil. So I am looking at new figures. I have also been itching to convert my medievals to my "holy grail," 3mm. To this end, I have been perusing Magister Militum's offerings. The don't do medievals but at this scale ancients will work.

I do have one beef with MM. The packs are much larger than I need. For example, I want to use Late Roman legionnaires as human infantry. I need about 16 strips but the smallest pack is 60 strips. If I order the variety I want (warbands, chariots, elephants, archers, etc. etc.) then I'll have WAY more strips, and spend more $, than I need. I'm thinking of starting small - just order a pack of legionnaires and a pack of cataphracts. I'll use differences in basing to distinguish troops types. Over time, I will add more types of figures and I'll sell off any excess strips.

In the meantime, I may throw together some block armies to test out rules.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Invasion of Evil

From the depths of the Bleak Mountains poured an army of evil. Led by a horde of orc warbands, the army devastated the outlying settlements of the kingdom of Anarendor. Then it approached the bridge over the Deepswift River. Hastily, the human defenders raced to defend the bridge and stop the marauding horde.

Game Notes
Recently I've had a hankering for some medieval-style battling. However, I wanted something a bit more epic than my Francesian medieval campaign; I wanted to pit good vs. evil. I'm considering a project to create 2 medieval armies, most likely in 3mm. I could not wait for figures so I decided to give it a go using a virtual board.

The scenario is #5 - Bridgehead from Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames. The objective is to clear all enemy units from the north bank of the river. Looking at Kaptain Kobold's report on this scenario, I think I may have gotten the sides mixed up, which would explain why the objective seemed so strange. Oh well.

Battle Report
A lone unit of militia stands guard at the foot of the bridge. Two orc warbands, the vanguard of the evil army, approach.

There is a clash at the bridge. The militia falls back.

Reinforcements arrive.

But more of the evil army approaches. Goblin archers trot down the road to the front line.

The militia is forced back but surprisingly the orcs hesitate to pursue.

A unit of Royal infantry arrives

More enemies! Including the Black Riders of the Iron Legion (right)

Heavy fighting occurs on the bridge. Casualties mount

 While the opposing archers exchange volleys, a unit of orcs breaks through and crosses the bridge.

Battle rages on the south side of the river.

The Royal infantry breaks but the militia retaliates and destroys one of the warbands. Another takes its place and wreaks havoc.

The militia takes down another warband. Now, the Black Riders charge across the bridge. Their swirling attacks keep the militia at bay.

 The Black Riders cause severe casualties. The militia lose heart and begin to retreat.

The army of evil has secured the crossing!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Gettysburg Memories

I was perusing TMP when I came across a post about the 1998 re-enactment of the Battle of Gettywsburg. Arteis was linking to a blog post he made about his experiences there. This brought back memories of my Civil War reenactor days;  I may have been shooting at Arteis on that day.

Back then I was a member of the 115th NY Volunteers (reenacted), a Union unit based out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Every year, we participated in the reenactment of the Battle of Olustee, the largest Civil War battle in Florida. In '98, a group of us decided to make the trip to Pennsylvania for the 135th anniversary reenactment. It was expected to be the largest reenactment ever, and it did not disappoint. There were over 20,000 reenactors; we practically did Pickett's Charge at 1:1 ratio!

Anyway, here were a few of my memories of the event:

A Photo of my Mates
We arrived at the reenactment site a few days before the battles. We took the opportunity to visit a photographer. He liked to do things period-style. In fact, he came to the event in a horse-drawn wagon!

Anyway, here is a picture of the photograph:

Front: Jeff Webb, Mike Jones, Nick Morgado
Back: Jim Decker, me, Indy Morgado
Pies and Peaches
In many reenactments, the "soldiers" camp much better than their real-life counterparts from 150 years ago. At least back in '98, it was common to see privates camping with their families in large A-frame or wall tents. Some units, however, preferred to camp period-style. My unit mates decided to go that route. We doubled up in crowded shelter-half tent, carried all our items in our knapsacks or haversacks (no coolers for us), and basically lived like 1860s soldiers. Every day, our regiment packed up our camp and marched to a new spot. One night we slept on the "battlefield" (it wasn't the real battlefield, that was a few miles to the east. Arteis mentions crossing a wood-rail fence during Pickett's Charge. That's where we camped a few nights before.

There were a couple of highlights of this experience. There was a couple who portrayed period sutlers, complete with a wagon. They offered a few odds and ends (I think I bought a newspaper from them) but their most popular item was pie. They sold both meat and fruit pies, which were delicious!

I also remember that one of my unit mates, Jeff, devised a new use for our bayonets. The regiment issued us some big cans of peaches. Problem was that we had no can openers. Jeff figured a way to open the cans using his bayonet. It took some time (he had to stab multiple holes all the way around the edge of the lid) but it worked!

Culp's Hill
For us, Pickett's Charge was a bit of a disappointment. We were on the far left of the Union line and very few Confederates came close to us. But that was OK because the day before we exhausted ourselves reenacting Culp's Hill. This was extra-special for us because one of our comrades' ancestors fought in the real battle for the hill.

The day before, our colonel marched us to a wooded hill. When we stopped, he told us that we would be camping there for the night. Before that, though we had to entrench because we would be defending the hill the next day. We went to work with a gusto. There were a number of trees that had been knocked down to make roads to the campsite. Scores of soldiers picked up the trees and used them to create breastworks. We added some large rocks and then dug trenches to complete our works. I bent my bayonet using it as a digging tool (I suspect that bayonets saw far more use as multifarious tools than as actual weapons. They do make good candle holders as well). In the end, we had 3 lines of breastworks. We then settled in for the night.

The next day, we expected the Confederates to attack. My comrades and I were lucky to be selected as pickets. We went down the hill to the edge of the woods, watching for the rebels. We could see the spectators milling to our right, but even more impressive was the mass of Confederate troops making their way to our position. When they got in range,we gave them a ragged volley and then high-tailed it back to our main lines.

Seeing us retreat, the Confederates surged forward. We could hear their rebel yells mixed with taunts. But then once they got into the wood line, we hit the dirt. Before them was a solid blue line behind the wooden breastworks. A massive volley rang out, and rebels fell to the ground.

We pickets then scrambled through gaps in the breastworks and took our positions in the back line. After a moment's hesitation caused by the Union volley, the rebels charged again. The Union ranks poured fire into them. Even though many fell to the ground, they just seemed to keep coming. The rest of the battle is a blur. I recall that they took the first breastwork but could get no further. We were firing so fast that our barrels were painfully hot. We kept running out of ammo but our sergeants kept stuffing more rounds into our cartridge boxes. It was just so intense that we really got into character. I was yelling curses at the rebels as I kept firing and reloading. Being in the woods, we could not see the spectators, which made it seem even more real!

Eventually, the Confederate tide ebbed. There was a mass of "dead" rebels strewn all down the hill. We also had taken quite a few casualties* but the Union position was saved!

Ironically, given the intensity of the fight, this was one of the few battles in my reenactment career where I did not go down.

Final Thoughts
Overall, this reenactment was an awesome experience and probably the highlight of my reenactment career!

By the way, my first pic of the photo did not come out so well:
Photobombed by Ollie