Saturday, 30 August 2014

Odds & Ends (5) - Zulus, Sir....... thousands of em!!!

I've not got much gaming in recently due to holidays and real life interfering with my gaming time, we did manage a small game of Black Powder at the club recently, in which I took control of several (5) impi's of Zulu's against Rob who commanded 4 battalions of British.

I've not played Black powder that much, maybe half a dozen games, but I like it, and I'm always up for a game. In this simple scenario, which was a practice run of a much bigger game we have planned in the next few weeks, Rob's British were defending a small farmstead, from my marauding Zulu's.

My forces had little option but to advance as fast as possible having only one unit with ranged fire, this I promptly did and was soon closing in on the British, who had set up in two lines each of two battalions.  Craig the GM (whose fantastically painted miniatures we used) had secretly informed me that I had a sixth impi hiding in the long grass on my left flank, quite close to where the British had established their forward line. With this knowledge I advanced my royal impi and muskets up the left flank to join the hidden troops in what I hoped would be a decisive attack on the British line, in the centre and right I advanced my remaining 3 impi's in a head on rush toward the enemy line.

The Zulu's moved forward in almost perfect unison, the centre/right forces formed a "Horns of the Buffalo" type formation and headed toward one British unit, whilst the Royals, muskets and hidden impi smashed into the end of the British line on my left. Neither British unit lasted too long and I was soon advancing again into a third unit, between this unit and the fire from the remaining unit, the Zulu advanced stalled and I started to take casualties, two of my impi's were soon wiped out, and 3 of the remaining 4 were badly shot up and looking as though they might run. A turn spent rallying my troops had them back on the move, and they finally destroyed the stubborn third British battalion, forcing the last battalion to retreat to the farm to watch me close in.

That's where we had to end it, as it was getting on, but their were no doubts that it had been a triumphant Zulu victory. I had been lucky and almost everything had gone right for me, and my melee dice rolls had been very good through-out the game, my opponent did make the mistake of having his forward line too far forward so that it was not supported by the 2nd line, but even so at the crucial point in the game it looked as though the British might just pull it out of the bag. I can't wait for the larger re-match now, though I'm not looking forward to facing the Gatling guns.

The stout defenders of Vangendorf farm

The view at the start of the game from the British side

Two Impi's in their starting positions

The Zulu initial deployment( a unit of Muskets were placed in front of the topmost unit)
 Zulu Muskets and Impi.
 The British 2nd Line.

The Game
The Zulu advance in the centre, a third Impi forms the head of the Buffalo just out of shot.
The Zulu left flank, once the hidden impi had revealed itself.
 Fierce fighting on the left, results in the loss of one British unit.
The main battle in the centre, 2 Impi's take on 2 British units with 3 Zulu Impi's moving up to support, 1 British unit had been wiped out at this point.
Following the loss of the 2nd British unit the Zulus poured forward to engage the 2nd line of British.


Another unit of British was swiftly dispatched by the horde of Zulu's now advancing on the farm.

The last unit of redcoats retreated to the relative safety of the farm.  

Things didn't look too good for the remaining British troops.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

(Boardgames - 2) Richard III - Review

I had been considering buying this for sometime, the historical setting really appeals to me and the reviews over at Boardgamegeek are all favourable.

Having managed to pick it up slightly discounted on e-bay, I have since played it quite a few times and introduced a number of my mates to it, so thought it time to review it for those who may be interested in giving it a go.

The Box

The Contents

A few of the Blocks

Rulebook and Action cards
The Gameboard

Close-up of the Gameboard
The Contents:
I was a little disappointed with the contents if truth be told, for £40 I can get quite a few miniatures especially in my preferred 6mm scale, even in 28mm I could get 80 Plastic Perry miniatures for the same sort of price as this game. Disappointment aside, the wooden blocks are surprising nice once the stickers have bene applied, and as playing pieces go, they are durable, serve their purpose well having all the info you need on them without any need to refer to the rules.
The map/board is nicely presented though again I was hoping/expecting a thicker card stock, I have acquired a sheet of clear Perspex for Board game purposes and it comes in useful here ensuring the map lays flat, and offers some protection from the inevitable wear and tear. The action cards again are a bit of let down, in function these simply provide a random number of action points, and whilst the art work is ok it's repetitive and not overly interesting, it could easily have been done in a more appealing and varied way.  A few dice and a rules booklet round out the contents.
On to the actual game, and despite the fact that I have just slated the contents, I am very impressed with actual gameplay, the rules are simple enough that you get the grasp after a turn or two, and you rarely need to refer to the rules booklet (a copy of which is freely available at the Columbia Games site, along with a few alternative set ups). This is a block game for those familiar with the term, for those not I'll briefly describe how they work.
Each unit is represented by a block which only has information on one side thus your opponent is never really sure just who they are attacking or defending against until the actual battle, this aspect of the game nicely represents the "Fog of War" in a simpe but effective way.
Each player is dealt 7 Action cards from the deck, one for each turn of the campaign of which there are three. Action cards have a number of action points printed on them, each point allows a player to either activate all the blocks in one area of the board (usually based on County lines) 1 point will allow all or any combination of the blocks in an area to move 1 or 2 areas, at the players discretion, the other way to spend action points is by recruiting new units from your Pool, 1 point allows you to select one unit of your choice and place it on the board. When units of opposing factions end their turn in the same area battle commences. 

In the above picture you can see two blocks, the white block depicts the future Yorkist King Edward IV, in his guise of Edward Earl of March and the red the Lancastrian Earl of Westmoreland, each block has a number of pips shown at the top of the block (3 in Edwards case) these represent both attacking strength and damage capacity. You will also note on Edwards block the symbol A3 this indicates in effect his initiative and attacking skill, so to summarise Edwards block, he has 3 pips, and therefore rolls 3 dice when attacking and his initiative is A therefore he attacks before any B,C or D rated blocks and the 3 next to the A indicates that he needs 1,2 or 3 to hit. When a block/unit takes damage it is rotated as shown by the Westmoreland block, which reduces the number of pips, in the above picture Westmoreland has taken one hit and has been reduced to two pips, thus his attack roll is now only 2 dice and he needs 2 or less to hit. When a block has all its pips removed, it is removed from play(but not neccessarily the game).
The idea of the game is have more Nobles on the board at the end of the 7 turns than your opponent, this can be achieved via mass recruitment or killing the enemy Nobles, which sound easy enough, but the knack is to strike a balance between spending your action points on recruitment and using some to move your armies and defeat your opponent in the field(or at least prevent yourself from being defeated in the field. An alternate way of winning is to kill off all your opponents heirs of whcih each side has five, though this is not that easy to achive unless your opponenet is the reckless type.
There are a number of over rules, such as Treachery(Some loyalist Nobles are immune to this), Sea Moves, Supply, Defending home territory and some action cards have Events rather than action points, none of these rules add any great complexity to the game but add to the number of factors you have to continually balance.

I've become a big fan of this game, mainly due to its simplicity of play combined with range of strategic decisions to be made, of the people I have introduced to this game all of them have enjoyed it and been willing to play again. I think it captures the chaotic feel of the War of the Roses, and the treachery roll does simulate the ever changing sides of this conflict.

So despite my slight disappointment in the contents, I would not hesitate to recommend this game to anyone with an interst in the period or who simply wants a fairly fast and fun but simple board -  wargame. For those wanting to check this game out more thoroughly check the link above to Boardgame geek, where you can also find some useful fan made game aids in the file section.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

6mm War of the Roses (1) - Battle Report

I had my first game in my new hobby/geek room last night, as I was rushed and it was only a small game on a 4ftx4ft board we went old school and set up the board on the floor rather than getting my table out.

We used the Impetvs rule set which I am becoming a big fan of. As both my opponent Craig, and I are novices when it comes to these rules, we didn't bother with any sort of points list or min/max retrictions as it was a fairly small game to get us more familiar with the rules. For simplicity we also dropped the rule by which a Commanders ability can change dependant on the initiative roll and dispensed with the breakpoints so as to ensure the game didn't end too quickly.

(all miniatures from Baccus, buildings from Leven)

The Yorkists:

Led by me, consisted of:

Main Command

1 Unit of Mounted Men at Arms(General attached)
1 Unit of Dismounted Men at Arms
2 Units of Retinue Bill(one of which was formed into a large unit with the above)
2 Units of Shire Bill(formed into a large unit)
2 Units of Shire Archers

2nd Command

1 Unit of Dismounted Men at Arms (General attached)
1 Unit of Retinue Bill(formed into a large unit with the above)
2 Units of Shire Archers

The Lancastrians:

Main Command

1 Unit of Mounted Men at Arms(General attached)
2 Units of Retinue Bill
1 Unit of Retinue Archers
4 Units of Welsh Infantry

2nd Command

1 Unit of Mounted Men at Arms(General attached)
2 Unit of Dismounted Men at Arms
2 Units of Retinue Archers
1 Unit of Mercenary Crossbows

According to the guidelines in Impetvs this works out as about 8-9000 troops for the Yorkists and 11-12,000 for the Lancastrians.


Being outnumbered it was agreed that I would defend, and I therefore set up first, my main command was situated on a large plateau which occupied the centre and left flank of my side of the board, the infantry was set up in large units were possible and the archers were on the lower slopes in front of the infantry. My 2nd command was in a similar posiiton on small spur on my right flank.

The Lancastrians placed their main command fairly centrally around the village church, with the 2nd command on a hill on their right flank. One solitary unit of retinue archers being placed on the Lancastrian left and being tasked with facing off the Yorkist 2nd command.

The view from my side, with my forces holding the high ground.
The view from the other side, showing the Lancastrians ready to advance.

The Plan:

Mine was fairly simple, stay put and soften up the advancing enemy with missle fire before charging once the enemy reached my lines, no great plan tactically but it allowed me to concentrate on getting the rules right. This changed slightly once I saw my opponents set-up, as my right flank was unopposed (well apart from one unit or archers) I decided to advance my 2nd command and try to disrupt the Lancastrian attack with a flank attack of my own.

The Battle:

(All the following pictures show the Yorkists at the bottom)

Craig's army rumbled forward at a slow but steady pace, keen to avoid any unnecessary dis-order he limited his movements so as to keep a decent formation as he approached over broken ground and through woods.

On the main front an archery duel went in the Lancastrian favour as one of my shire archer units in the main command were routed by the combined shooting of two retinue archers and the French crossbowmen. In my favour I routed the lead unit of Welsh with archery fire and an unlucky cohesion test. This however did nothing to slow the overall advance of the Welsh troops.

Over on my right flank, all my forces advanced at full pelt to close the distance on the only unit of retinue archers that opposed me, they in turn (well with some poor discipline rolls), caused some disorder with their shooting slowing down my advance and stalling my intended speedy attack.  More Welsh were routed through archery, and I decided to support my flank attack with a large unit of shire billmen which being centrally placed at the top of the plateau near the wood moved down toward the Lancastrians that were emerging from the woods to my front.

Craig's right flank which was still intact, edged forward forcing me to retreat some units from the crest of the slope due to archery. I was fairly concerned about this force, as their was little I could do to slow it down at this point, and could only await the inevitable assault.

 In the centre, the Welsh started up the hill to extract some revenge on the shire archers that had mowed down 2 of their fellow Welsh units. My large unit of shire bills went in against some retinue bills that had reformed after passing through the woods and after some hard fighting routed them from the field.

By now the Yorkist right flank had lost 2 units of shire archers to the bows of the lonely retinue bowmen that held this flank for the Lancastrians,  but the surviving foot were now close enough to put the archer to the sword(or poll ax).

On my right I charged in hard with a large unit consisting of retinue bill and dismounted men at arms, fully expecting to crush the impudent bowmen that had so hindered my attack,only to see them easily survive and have to retreat slightly and ready to shoot at point blank range next turn, this also left me wide open to an attack by the opposing army commander and his armoured horse which had swung round by the church in the centre of the battlefield.

 In the centre, my victorious large unit of shire bill wheeled to face the Welsh which had moved into a position of attack, I was conscious of the unit of retinue bill lurking in the woods, which were situated to pile in as soon as the Welsh took me frontally, again their was nothing to be done about this at this stage in the game. The other unit of Welsh, had by now climbed the lower slopes and butchered the shire archers that had made life so uncomfortable for their comrades.

Seeing the Lancastrians racing up the incline on both sides was enough for the so far untouched Yorkists on the top of the hill, who decided to retreat in the face of the inevitable defeat, leaving their friends in the units that had attacked to their own fate.  Or to put it another way, we ran out of time.


This was only our second game of Impetvs, without having someone around who is more familiar with the rules than we are, so I am sure we made a few errors here and there, but we both got a much clearer idea of the rules and how they work. Both of us are big Warmaster Ancients/Medieval fans when it comes to gaming in this era, so some of the concepts/rules in Impetvs are a bit alien to us and takes some getting used to (the biggest one being us setting up too far apart, as units tend to be much slower in Impetvs compared to Warmaster) but overall I think I prefer these rules for the War of the Roses period at least, over Warmaster. Some reasons why: movement is more restricted, no free wheeling around which is more realistic in my view; the cohesion test, I like the way this can represent a otherwise intact unit suddenly crumbling and routing, without having suffered great losses; the variable command factor, representing the on field confidence of the troops in their leaders. I also prefer the Command/Initiative sequence, as at least you always get to order your troops as opposed to Warmaster where (and I'm sure its happened to any of you who have played it) you can have whole battles in which your forces barely move, due to continually failing command rolls.

No club night for me this week as I'm busy decorating my son's room, but hopefully a friend is calling in for a game of X-Wing later in the week.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

(Naval Wargaming - 2) - Aaar me hearties!!

Pirates CSG &  simple Campaign rules

I recently felt the urge to dig out my Pirates Constructible Strategy Game, a currently out of production game formerly made by Whizkids. For those who haven't played this game, its a little cracker, quick, cheap, simple and easily played in an hour or two at most. Packs can still be picked up here and there and single ships are still available on ebay and other places, I'd recommend buying a couple of packs to see if you like it, followed by cherry picking single ships (a full list of which is available over at Miniature Trading where there is still a fairly active forum on the game) and its worth looking at US webstores as they tend to be cheaper even factoring in the postage.

For those who don't know, each ship type is rated by then Number of Masts, Hold Space and Speed. Masts act as damage, in that they are removed by successful hits, they also act as your firing points with each mast having a die printed on it showing the number required to hit and the range indicated by a red or white die red being long range short is white. Most ships also have a unique ability and some have a Keyword which provide it with certain special rules. The basic aim of the game is collect more gold coins from the islands scattered around the table than your opponent and return them to your Home Island.

The basic game can be added to with more varied terrain i.e whirlpools, Sargasso sea, mysterious islands; crew which take up cargo space but add abilities to the ship, such as a Helmsman who increases basic speed, Cannoneer who grants a canon shot re-roll, and various other specialists.

There are a number of ships types and I think I have an example of most if not all:

Single Mast ships, and Turtle ships

The single mast ships are useful for exploring far flung islands and filling out points in your fleet list, Turtle ships are tougher than they look having armour plates which need to be removed before the mast.

Two Mast ships

One the more bog standard ships in the game, still quite useful in a number of roles, depending on their unique ability.

Three mast ships with bowsprit
These again are fairly standard and make up the bulk of fleets.
Three mast ships without bowsprit
As above just different aesthetics.

Native canoes

Useful en-masse and for harassment purposes, other than that, a novelty in my opinion.

Sea Monsters 
Good for a bit of fun and some are quite powerful.

Their Keyword allows them two shots per mast, and the oars mean that even when dis-masted they can still move.

Mercenary Submarines
All but invulnerable if your opponent doesn't bring the right ships to the table (certain ships special ability is that they can fire at submersibles)
Two Mast Junks

Three Mast Junks

Ten and Six Mast Junks

A Fleet of Junks
Junks have better arcs of fire as their masts do not block their own line of sight - unlike all other ships, plus these are the only ships to come in 6 and 10 mast varieties.

Single & Double Catamarans
These have a saving throw whilst their outriggers are intact, making them more difficult to take out than their 2/3masts would indicate.

Can be towed or left in place, useful and cheap, each having 4 cannons, but they cant take much damage.

Icebreakers and a Windjammer
Icebreakers are good if you are using Icebergs amongst your terrain, Windjammers are more maneuverable than most ships.

A Turbine, Bombardier and Hoist
Turbines are hard to stop, whilst Bombardiers have a very good fore cannon which can taken as a flame cannon, Hoists are able to transfer crew/treasure, and also steal treasure from opponents.

2 Scorpians and a Switchblade
Awesome when it comes to ramming, the Switchblade in particularly can do a lot of damage to a number of ships at once.

Two-Mast Schooners

Three-Mast Schooners

Three-Mast Schooners (alternate design)

Four-Mast Schooners
Schooners are better at turning than most ships, and due to the layout of their masts can often bring more shots to bear than regular ships.

Two-Mast Galley's

Three Mast Galley's

A Four Mast Galley alongside a Single Mast Galley

A Fleet of Galley's
Galley's can't be pinned by ramming and due to the oars are able to keep moving even when dis-masted.

Can be constructed on islands during game play, some have five cannons which make them quite formidable to smaller ships.

Four Mast Ships
Having four masts and thus four shots, these tend to be the main gunships in your fleet.

Five Mast Ships

The big boys, and the pride of your fleet, though due to cost you are unlikely to field more than one or two.

The Factions:

The Mercenaries
I don't have many of these, useful for their subs.

The Jade Rebellion
A fictional Chinese faction, if Junks are your thing these are the faction to choose.

The Cursed
A supernatural faction, and one of the more powerful factions, with a wide variety of ships to choose from.

The Vikings
For the Longship aficionado's.

A good selection of ships available for this faction, all-rounders.

The Barbary Corsairs
Galleys galore for this North African faction

The French
Plenty of decent four mast ships available for this well balanced faction.

The Spanish
Tend to better at gold running over fighting.

The Pirates
A vast selection for this faction including almost every type of ship, with some amazing and not so amazing ships in there.

The British
A fighting faction, and good at it too.
I wrote up some very simple campaign rules as at one stage we played this game quite a lot, even got the Mrs involved, so I thought I'd put them here for those who might be interested:

Aaaar Me Hearties!

1. Before the Game

Each player starts the campaign with 100 points of ships/crew/events/equipment, preferably all from the same Faction, although more than one Faction can be selected if desired. Any unused points are converted to gold on a one for one basis and are noted in the Player’s “Fleet Treasury.”

2. During the Game

Games are played normally, however instead of all players bringing the same amount of points to each game; each player can bring up-to 100 points but must field a minimum of 30 points if possible.

During a game, the only addition to the rules is that, Ships can now sail off the edge of the table, if they do so; then any Gold they are carrying is halved rounding down and added to the Fleet’s Treasury, the Ship survives the battle without any further penalties.

3. At the End of Game

At the end of each game, all Gold on your home island and/or carried onboard a Ship is added to your Fleet Treasury.

Each of your Ships at the end of the game that are still capable of movement are permitted to Tow 1 of your own derelict’s off the table (the owning player chooses in which order his/her derelicts are Towed)   – this is a free action and does not require you to actually move the Ships involved, simply remove a derelict for each of your still moving Ships.

If you do not have sufficient Ships to remove all your derelicts, then the remaining derelicts are left behind. I f you have more Ships capable of moving than derelicts and your opponent is unable to Tow all his/her derelicts from the table then you are permitted to Tow enemy Ships – (it is important to note that you must have Towed all of your own derelicts first, before you start towing enemy derelicts and that your opponent is unable to Tow them him/herself). Enemy derelicts that are Towed from the table become Captured (see below).

If at the end of a game, only one player has moveable Ships on the table, they are permitted to gather all the remaining Gold on Wild Islands and can automatically Tow all remaining derelicts (including enemies) without needing to have sufficient moveable Ships to Tow each one. Any derelicts left on the table at the end of the game after all players have Towed as many ships as possible are lost

4. After the Game

Note on your Fleet Roster any Ship that was sunk and any named crew that was killed, these can not be selected again during the course of the campaign.
Any Gold in your Fleet Treasury can be spent on new Ships, Crew/Named Crew, Equipment and Events.

Ships that were derelict but were Towed from the table and Ships that have had masts removed are all repaired in time for the next game.
Captured Ships now become part of the Faction that captured them, and can be added to the Fleet Roster and used in subsequent games. Named Crew that have been captured can be rescued if the original owning player pays twice the value in gold of the original Points cost.

Hope these are of use to someone, let me know if you use them and what you think.