Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Let the Games Begin!

 Now that I have an "arena" I am experimenting with some ideas for gladiator fights. Below is an illustrated explanation of the rules.

Activation
Each side rolls D6 + modifiers* for activation points. 
High roller goes first. Each side has Roll / 2 Action Points (APs)

* Modifiers would include armor, experience , etc. For today's battle, I did not apply any modifiers.

Actions - Movement and Maneuver
Actions are then taken alternately - high roller then low roller.
It costs 1 AP to move one space.

Example: Nocan (left) faces Axel. Nocan rolls a 5 so gets 3 APs while Axel only gets 1. Nocan moves forward 1 space as does Axel. Nocan moves another space but Axel's movement is over so Nocan moves a third time.

I don't have a photographic example, but figures can also maneuver while sharing a space. A maneuver costs 1 AP and allows a figure to slip to the side of his opponent, giving an advantage when attacking.

Combat
Melee combat occurs when combatants occupy the same space. The figure that moved gets to attack.
Rules Note - initially I required an AP to attack, but it became too easy to escape combat, and figures began circling without any combat.

Combat is based on my MicroBattle rules. It involves the following steps:
  • Attacker makes a Res Test. A base Res Test requires a 4+ to succeed. In this example, Axel and Nocan were in the same space. Axel attacked and scored a 5 (green die). A hit!
  • If hit, the Defender makes a Res Test to block or avoid damage. Nocan rolled a 4 (red die). Just enough to prevent a wound!
  • The Defender also makes a Res Test to determine if he must retreat. Nocan's 3 is a fail. He must back up one space.

Here, Axel wounds Nocan and forces him to retreat!

Nocan suffers a second wound, then (below) Axel finishes him off.

I then tried a bout between Axel and Sir Cadian (a heavily armored knight). I broke off the fight mid-game because something was bothering me about the rules. I added a rule for maneuvering to give the player some choice - do I go in for a frontal attack or do I try to sneak around? The problem was that it was too easy for the opponent to counter the maneuver. For example:
  • Nocan and Axel start in the same space. Nocan has 2 AP and Axel has 1.
  • Nocan goes first and decides to maneuver.
  • Then Axel goes. He maneuvers also. They are back to face-to-face.
  • Nocan can then maneuver or attack. If he maneuvers, he'll need to win initiative to be able to make a side attack.
Let's take a look at another example:
  • Nocan and Axel start in the same space. Nocan has 3 AP this time and Axel has 1.
  • Nocan goes first and decides to maneuver.
  • Then Axel goes. He maneuvers also. They are back to face-to-face.
  • Nocan maneuvers.
  • Then with his final AP, Nocan gets a side attack.
The problem I'm having is that the dice seem to be dictating the choice of tactics. If I have 2 more AP than my opponent, then a side attack is a viable tactic. Otherwise, attacking will guarantee a chance to hit and seems to be the better option. I would prefer the choice of tactic to be equally viable, then rolling dice to determine its success. Perhaps I need to borrow from Red Sky Black Moon and add a maneuver roll (I discussed this RSBM mechanic in this prior post). When a figure does a maneuver, he gets to make a Res Test. If he succeeds, he can attack immediately.

I'll have to think about it a bit.

Monday, May 10, 2021

My New "Arena"

 I am putting together a portable playset for chariot racing and gladiator games. Here is what I have so far:

The board is cork and is gridded into 5 by 6 1-inch squares. I hope those are big enough for the Irregular Miniature chariots. The wood bit will represent the spina that runs through the middle of the track.

The box itself is about 6 x 8 inches. Other pieces in the box will be a small tin of miniatures, some dice, and perhaps some terrain.

I already have some 10mm fantasy figures painted up. They will be my gladiators.

By the way, I tried out a variant of MicroBattle for gladiator bouts. It seemed to work OK. I'll have to provide a detailed report.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Excel Hippodrome

Sometimes I feel like experimenting with a game but don't want to dig out my stuff. In some such cases, I go virtual, as I did last week on my chariot racing kick.

Here is my virtual board in Excel. The board is on the left with the track on the lower right. I added a virtual dice roller (upper right). The colored D's are disadvantage markers. I got the chariot markers from Junior General.


Above is a shot of a race I ran. Blue and Green had already wrecked. Yellow and Red were neck-and-neck as they rounded the last corner. Yellow lost control and crashed, giving Red the win.

The race was part of a mini-campaign. I ran 7 races (all just 1 lap as I'm still working on the system). The teams earned denarii based on their standing in the race - 20 for first, 10 for second, and 5 for third. No denarii for last or for wrecking!

Green jumped out to an early lead in the campaign, with two victories in the first two races. Yellow then went on a hot streak followed by a Blue victory. Meanwhile, Red was slowly building up his earnings with a series of second place finishes. After five races, he and Green were tied, with Yellow only 5 denarii behind and Blue only 10 behind Yellow.

From then on, it was all Red. He handily won the last two races for a dominating season victory.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Chariot Racing Project

 My little experiment in a chariot racing game has now become a full-fledged (albeit small) project.

I originally thought of getting some 3mm chariots from Magister Militum but they did not really have racing chariots. So I went with Irregular's 6mm.

Picture from Irregular's website

They are listed on Irregular's 6mm civilian line.

I ordered 4 so that I can have red, white, blue, and green teams. I also ordered a wrecked chariot.

I'm not sure how big they are. We'll see if they fit on the gridded mat. I am toying with the idea of making a race course. I have some cork board that should work. Maybe I'll even make a turn?

In the meantime, expect to see some more races using tokens.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Forget the Arena - Let's Go to the Circus

The Circus Maximus, that is. Actually, the Hippodrome may be more appropriate, given that I've been on a Byzantine kick.

Time for a long winded intro. Scroll down if you want to see some ugly pictures.

Anyway, I've been dragging my feet about digging out my minis and experimenting with gladiator games. Instead (as a result of my Byzantine kick), my thoughts have turned to chariot races. I'm normally not a fan of racing games. I previously tried Machinas for post-apocalyptic Mad Max auto mayhem, but it did not really work for me (I wanted less racing and more combat). But Machinas had some interesting ideas, which inspired me to check out its (I believe) forerunner:


Charioteers was originally released by Two Hour Wargames but is now distributed by Rebel Miniatures. It is also available at Wargame Vault.

I'm not going to get into details about Charioteer. If you follow this blog, you'll know that I have a love/hate relationship with Two Hour Wargames (THW). I think their games have many excellent ideas, but I just hate the base resolution system that they use in all their games. Thus, when I buy their rules, I tend to strip out the ideas I like and bolt those onto a different resolution system. My chariot experiment is no different.

The innovative aspect of Charioteer is that chariots don't physically go around a track. Instead, each turn they maneuver in relation to each other. This allows play in a very small space, a key for my games. I adopted that part and then added my MicroBattle Resolution Test mechanic. That's basically all I had sorted out when I decided to play around. Let's see what happened.

The Race
I don't have chariots so I used some tokens.

Four teams, red, white, blue, and green, line up at the start.

I rolled a D6 each and then placed them in order from high to low. I assumed the chariots were equal, but I imagine including bonuses or penalties depending on quality.

Blue and Green ended up next to each other. They tried to bash each other. I used MicroBattle's Combat system to determine the results. Both bashes failed.

The chariots moved into the first turn. I decided to add a control test. Red failed, giving him a Disadvantage when jockeying for position.

Jockeying involves a Res Test. Red still succeeded and was able to maintain his lead. Green failed so he dropped back in the pack.

No change in the straightaway. Now on to the second turn. All the chariots lost control and dropped back. Blue, however, failed really badly. He had one last chance to regain control, but blew it and wrecked!

This leaves three chariots in the running. Red pulls ahead for an easy win!

Aside - I don't know why, but I seem to have the most luck with red. Even in my battles, my red armies win more often than not.

Analysis
Anyway, not a bad first start. I like the THW mechanic of moving the chariots relative to one another. But substituting my Res Test system sped up the process. I was able to resolve movement for a turn in one roll of four dice.

I shortened the track a bit - a straight, turn, straight, turn, and then home stretch. I only did one lap for this experiment, but for multi-lap races I will only do the home stretch on the final lap.

One issue I see is that it is hard to make up ground. I thought about it for a moment, but then realized that Charioteer has the answer - bonus dice. I can allocate bonus dice to the chariots to gain extra movement. For example:
  • White finds himself behind Red. 
  • Both pass their movement Res Test for the turn, so White does not catch up. 
  • White decides to expend a bonus die. He passes, allowing him to move up. Now he is neck-to-neck with Red.
I'll try it out next time.

By the way, here is the turn sequence I used:
  • Determine Positions (1st game turn) - place chariots in D6 roll order, high to low. Ties = adjacent
  • Control Test (on turns) - If fail, roll to determine what happened:
    • 4-6 = Disadvantaged in Jockey Test
    • 2-3 = Fall back
    • 1 = Possible wreck! Pass Res Test to Fall Back instead
  • Jockey Test - Move up if successful
  • Combat Phase - Adjacent chariots may whip or bash each other
    • Make a Res Test to attack
    • If successful, Target may make a Defend Test
    • If Defend fails, . . . (haven't really worked that out yet)

Saturday, May 1, 2021

To the Arena!

 Lately, I've been rather too lazy and/or distracted to set up a proper battle. When I get like this, I find my thoughts turn to skirmish-style games, such as gladiators. A recent ad on the Wargames Website has me thinking once again about entering the arena. I even picked up the advertised rules, Red Sand Black Moon.


What intrigued me about RSBM was that they were designed for matches between fantasy figures. I was hesitant to get these at first because they are a Two Hour Wargames design. I have a love-hate relationship with THW. On the one hand, I really like many of the subjects they cover and they do have some interesting ideas. However, I dislike their base mechanic. It seems table heavy and not intuitive. Despite my misgivings, I decided to take the plunge. I am glad that I did. I don't plan on running RSBM as is, of course. But there is a mechanic in it that I plan to steal.

One of the difficulties in replicating one-on-one fights on the tabletop is that a lot of the movement involved does not translate. In reality, the combatants could essentially stay in once place, yet they will be making a bunch of small movements - shuffling their feet, bobbing and weaving, making feints, and probing for an opening. This typically gets lost in wargame rules. But RSBM captures it with a Maneuver roll. It is an opposed die roll. If the attacker succeeds well enough, he slides to the opponent's undefended side and can attack. Failure means that he cannot find an opening. It's a simple solution that replicates this jockeying for position.

My goal is to combine this concept with my MicroBattle skirmish variant. I also want to take a second look at Munera Sine Missione, which I tried before but did not pursue.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Stone of An-Makeran

 A Khamen and Candorra Adventure - Part 1C of the Six Stones of Sorcery

Previously, the party consisting of our heroes Khamen and Candorra and their guide Abdul has descended to the lowest level of the tomb of An-Makeran.


They pass through a room (13) where the walls are writhing masses of human forms. These lost souls are moaning in agony. The sight is so chilling that our heroes' hearts are filled with fear (causes penalty on attacks)

In the next room (14), they discover a portal. They had been forewarned by a friendly ghost (in room 8) so they skirt away from the portal. But a demon jumps out and attacks Abdul. He is able to dodge and Candorra shoots it. It turns on Candorra. As it turns, Abdul strikes it. Stung by the attacks of our heroes, the demon retreats through the portal.

Finally, the party reaches the room of An-Makeran (15). As they enter the room, the mummy rises from its sarcophagus.

It lunges at Khamen, but he dodges and strikes. Candorra empties her quiver into the mummy, but it seems un-phased by the arrows. It begins lashing out wildly at our heroes, knocking Abdul and Khamen to their feet. He then grabs Candorra by the neck and begins choking her. She struggles but cannot break his grip. As her strength waned, she manages to croak out a spell. A ball of fire explodes into the mummy's face. It drops her and spins around, trying to put out the flames. At this point, Khamen rushes up and with a mighty blow strikes off the mummy's head.

OK, I changed things around a bit for dramatic effect. For example, Candorra actually fireballed the mummy near the beginning of the battle, before it seriously wounded her.

With their victory, they return to the djinn (11). He gives them a key.

"Wait," Khamen complains. "You were supposed to give us the Stone."

"That is the key to the Stone. Go to the treasure room on the level above and claim your prize."

The party goes to the treasure room (5). There are 4 skeletal guardians, but our heroes manage to cut them down easily. And there, in a coffer, they find the Stone of An-Makeran, first of the Stones of Sorcery.