Wednesday, 28 August 2013

COMMAND AND COLORS : ANCIENTS - BOARD GAME

More boardgaming - Got my hands on the award wining "Command and Colors Ancients" game with 3 of the expansion packs thrown in as well - had been given this for a bargain from a board gaming mate who doesn't play it very often these days - happy days!


There are multitudes of Historical battles to choose from, 3000BC to 400AD is the time span for the Ancients battle set so can be anything from Bagradas, Cannae, to Zama. Each battle on the list comes with a map to outline where the units were formed, terrain and which leaders were there. With the expansion packs you also get special heroes and units, for example the Greeks get Alexander and his companion cavalry. (Medium cavalry that fight the same as heavy cavalry without the movement penalties)

The game has a grid map system where upon you deploy your troops. Each troop is stacked in blocks with different colours and block sizes to represent the different classes and type. The Light troops are Green, Medium are Blue and Heavy troops represented using Red. Infantry stack in 4 blocks high, with cavalry in 3 stacks and chariots , elephants & war machines is 2 stacks high - with each hit you remove a stack token until all removed i.e. killed.

Chart showing the different units 

Playing cards example

You have a deck of command cards for which you carry out and drive your movement and unit activation with, this creates a true fog of war and presents both challenges and opportunities. There are four types of command cards: Leadership cards, Section cards, Troop cards and Tactic cards."
Examples of cards are :  "Outflanked" - you activate 2 units on the right and left sides.
"Order Heavy Troops" - Order any heavy troops up to your command value
Your command value is the set starting amount of cards in your hand before the game begins. You can play one card a turn and replace at end of turn, you can also play a reaction card in your opponents turn if you have one.

The dice used
There is a dice system for the game that resolves all combat and shooting efficiently and quickly. Each battle die has one Light, one Medium, one Heavy, one Leader, one Flag and one Swords symbol on them. So whether shooting or melee you roll the dice and if you get the symbol of the unit you are targeting you score a hit for the type.


Andy and I played a couple of games last weekend. The games found me using the Carthaginians facing against Andrews Romans, then the Greeks against an Indian army, and Andy playing the Gauls against the Romans, as shown in photo below - Gauls are green, with Romans red.



The Romans vs the Gauls

 


The Original game details the historical battles between the Carthaginians and the Romans, following the invasion route of Hannibal's army into Italy.

The 1st Expansion pack is the battles of the Greeks vs the Eastern Kingdoms, where you follow the exploits of Alexander the Great and his invasion of Asia Minor.

2nd Expansion pack is the battles between Romans and the Barbarians - this one I do like as its the Romans against the Gaul's and Germanic Goths. You get a sense of Asterix and Obelix beating up Romans when playing these guys.

3rd Expansion pack is the Roman Civil wars and Epic Battle scenario's
Epic allows you to play large scale "Epic" battles, where in you can have up to 8 people playing. 4 players a side with one overall General and a player controlling the right, the left and center boards each. This is possible by joining two battle boards together. The cards are given to the overall general who in turn issues order cards to each of his battle commanders.



Andy and I couldn't help ourselves and played an Epic battle between us to see how it was played. We joined the Epic boards together, which took up the whole length of the table. At first it looks a tad daunting with all the units available to you and the amount of cards each has, You use the cards slightly different where upon you have to assign them to each section - little hard to explain -  overall it took a wee while to play, but what a hoot!

Andrew played the Romans while I stuck to the Carthaginians again to keep it simple.
Cant remember what historical battle we played exactly but we placed some more terrain tiles on the board in the way of hills and some forests scattered about. Also put some extra units down - Andy chose 2 Heavy Ballista pieces, where as I chose 2 Light Horsebow units as they looked interesting, movement of 4 and range of 3 tiles for shooting.

It was the first one to 13 points for the win, I had all my heavy and medium foot troops in center with heavy/medium cavalry  on left with a whole heap of light cav on the right flank, the light infantry was spread across the front in center. Andrew had good right and left flanks with heavy troops in each, had his medium cavalry as a mobile reserve in the center, with 3 elephants out front with 2 well placed on the half way line between right and left wings

Andy is the red and Grey troops while I am the Brown and Tan troops in the photos below.
I had made a good start , I dominated the flanks with good use of my light cavalry on the right and heavy cavalry on the left and pushed up with foot troops in these sections but my center folded as Andy's heavy troops dominated, so the end result was Andy pushing down my center and while retreating his flanks into a tight defensive position in the center. I had won the game with 13 points to Andy's 11 points - have to point out Andy was lucky to get the last 3 points as he had a very good last 2 turns.

You should also note the piles of dead units on each side, just a few !

Starting positions
Final position 

Great game !

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

"WILDERNESS WAR" BOARD GAME


Got 2 new board games last week, both of them are from the highly awarded GMT brand of boardgames. Both are excellent, very tactical and historical.

Box cover

The first game titled "The Wilderness War" - is a two player card driven game about the battles between the British and French in 1755 - 1763 for control of North America. During the game you relive the history of this exciting time when the fate of Canada hung in the balance. 
If you ever watched "The last of the Mohicans" you get a sense of the history around this era with the colonials and Indians (well sort of)

The game uses strategy cards and a point-to-point map system with rivers, lakes, mountains, cultivated and wilderness areas. Players maneuver and battle over a map stretching from Northern Virginia to Canada. As the leader of French or British forces, you need to defend your frontier, raid your enemy's frontier, recruit Indian allies, build fortification networks through the harsh wilderness while remaining in supply as this is vital to besiege forts and fortresses, and deal with historical events occurring in Europe that are above and beyond your control.

The game spans 8 years with a summer and winter season in each, making the game 16 turns long. But this is divided into three periods, with a early, mid and late period for gameplay - for a long campaign game you play all 3 periods and for a tournament style game you only play the middle years.


Overall board map

 The French rely heavily on Indian allies such as the Huron and Ottawa, and have large amount of Indian units available to them through card actions, they are classed as irregular troops so have more flexible movement allowance and they help in raiding actions up and down the line, often sneaking past and raiding cultivated spaces for victory points. The British only get a very limited amount of Mohawk and Cherokee Indians in comparison and rely more on the Provincial Colonials and Ranger units. During the course of the game they get more of the drilled Red coats available to them making them formidable as more intent on sieges and trying to force a pitched battle.

During the winter season your irregular troops have to "go home" as it is called, where in they cant sustain the winter months outside so have to go back to a friendly fort or home Indian settlement, the drilled troops dont, but if caught out in the open they will suffer attrition  if not in a Fort or stockade.

Close up showing leaders and troops

The French I must say easily have the early advantage in the game, with the crushing British manpower advantage accruing later. The British are the only ones that can perform amphibious landings from Halifax on to the French Fortress Louisbourg, then down the St Lawrence River and beyond. The French cant due to the blockades by the British fleet.

Played the game last Saturday night with Andrew who eagerly took on the French side, good as I wanted to be the Red Coats ! . We decided to start the game in middle year being our first proper game of it. Andrew used his Indians with some good results and took my forward Forts early on, I struggled to get enough Redcoats and had to rely on the Provincial troops and militia to defend the wide front, as I put a lot of my time in amphibious landings at Louisbourg, To support this I pushed hard up inland towards Quebec, building forts and stockades along the way. I had no end of problems when Andrew played a rather cool (or awful for me) card against my British in the later period, which makes most of your Provincial troops disband "so as to defend their homelands" .... not nice when your relying on them. I managed to take Louisbourg, but I failed to push on as I took heavy losses due to winter attrition. The game took about 3 hours but I think this was mostly due to looking up odd rules and the like.

Playing event cards - Red is British and Blue being French

Andy won in the end on 10 points just before the final turn started - first one to 10 wins the game. But what an exciting game full of drama!
Looking forward to a rematch, where having now played it I hope to put a few different ideas in play, by building more forts and invest in using more troop cards instead of costly amphibious landings.


Will post about the second game some time as I have yet to play it. Game is called "Rebel Raiders on the High Seas" and is all about sea and river battles/raids and blockade runners between the Confederates and Union during the American Civil war period - it looks really good, I hope Andy lets me pick the Confederate side as these guys do all the raiding and blockade running where as the Union are more the aggressor type with all their Industrial might behind them, similar to what the British are like in the Wilderness War I suspect.

Friday, 16 August 2013

TRAFALGAR - NAVAL WARFARE GAME

Andy and I, had seen a battle of Historical Naval ships a while ago at a wargaming convention where they were using the Warhammer Historical rule set called "Trafalgar" and we thought with our interest in sailing that it would be a lot of fun to play. The period is set between 1795 and 1815 so has a variable of different Historical battles including the Egyptian Nile battles, USA East Coast against the British, and the Russian Baltic theatre as well.

So we brought the rule book online, enthusiastically followed shortly after with some array of cool looking models from Langton Miniatures in the UK.

The game it self is fairly simple, you may have to look up various tables and charts now and again to see what damage is done but the game itself, flows along nicely and is a lot of fun. The game can last about 3 hours depending on how many points you have taken.

The first item to mention about this game should be, that the turn order is somewhat different to the normal war-gaming. Each turn you have to determine which ship or squadron of ships has the initiative, or as it is called "he who holds the weather gauge", as historical naval battles will tell us that the fleet who held the favorable weather gauge had a considerable tactical advantage over their opponents.
In game terms this is determined by looking at the wind direction, and the vessel that is closest to the source of the wind (i.e. the closest to the table edge from which the wind originates) is holding the weather gauge therefore starts first, so you end up with a mixture of yours and the enemy's ship moving about the table which makes for a fun game turn.

The turn is broken down into 4 phases
1) Weather phase - Determine wind direction and weather conditions
2)Sailing Phase - Set sails and perform ship manoeuvres
3) Gunnery phase - Open fire on the enemy with your deadly broadsides of cannons and cannonades, as well as carry out your boarding actions
4) End phase - resolve effects such as spread of fire and wreckage, and carry out boating repairs and the like.


The wind direction can play an important role in the game, and can change a number of times during the course of the game in direction and strength. It can be blowing a gale  or even become becalmed, also effects of rain and fog etc, which adds some flavor to the game.

Each ship when activated, has to immediately start its turn by moving a set Inertia move, and then it gets to move as you see fit within the movement allowance. There are some limitations where the big ships are only allowed one sharp turn, or two shallow turns, where as unrated ships have much more privileges to them for movement. To do tricky manoeuvres such as tacking, gybing, box-hauling and the like you have to first do a command check to represent the difficulty of such manoeuvres.

The ships are rated on its size and amount of guns it has,
here is a brief description of the different rating classifications:
1st Rate ships - 3 gun decks with 100 to 120 guns
2nd Rate ships - 3 gun decks with 90 to 98 guns
3rd Rate ships - 2 gun decks with 64 to 80 guns
4th Rate ships - 2 gun decks with 50 to 60 guns
5th Rate/Frigate ships - 1 to 2 gun decks with 32 to 44 guns
6th Rate/Frigate ships - 1 gun deck with 28 guns
Un-rated ships - Vessels with complements of less than 20 guns

The shooting phase is fairly easy, as there are three main types of weapons used in the game, the Light cannon, Heavy cannon, and cannonades. Each ship class is given a broadside rating (BR) depending on how many of each type it has, so for example a French 1st rate Ship of the Line has a BR of 4/4/2 ... which relates to 4 light cannon dice, four heavy and 2 cannonade dice per shooting phase. A little USA 5th rate Frigate would have a BR of  -/3/-  as it has only three heavy cannons used.
You can also fire as she bears in the movement phase (instead of shooting phase) but you cop a penalty for this, but if the opportunity arises its well worth it.



When shooting at a ship, you can declare to shoot at its hull or at its masts/sails, each has its pro's and con's - the hull will eventually cripple or sink the ship, but you will hit their cannons in the process making the return fire reduced. By targeting the masts you will slow the ship down and eventually make them not and only drift. If the ship is on a beating tack position and wishes to fire, then it may only aim high into the wind as the ship heel position only allows this. The leeward side can only fire low as the ship heels in that direction

Also when you roll a natural 6 when firing, you cause a critical hit, this allows you to roll on the critical hit tables, where the damage can be anything from increasing the # of hits to D3 hits, taking on water, hitting the rudder, ablaze and fire spread, mast is struck, crew loss and panic etc.

Being hit in the stern or bow by a raking fire can cuase major concern, as it increases the critical damage taken, and also lowers the ship saving throw.


Each ship comes with a roster sheet detailing the ships hit points for the hull, masts, crew etc, where in you cross off your damage points as need be. Its very common to loose a mast or two during the course of battle. You get points for crippling/sinking and taking over ships by boarding actions and so forth.


Examples of Roster Sheets

Langton Miniatures has a wide range of ships available at 1:1200 and 1:2400 scale, we choose the 1 : 1200 scale as it looks so much better. The hulls and sail sets are sold separately as there is a choice of sail settings in white metal and in photo etched brass, we choose the later being a lot more detailed and easier to work with.

 There is a multitude of different hull types depending on the rating of the ship and whether its battle ready (with cannon ports open) or sailing, and then you have a selection of sail settings to choose from, which include full sail, studded sail, battle sail, top courses furled, bottom sails furled etc. The miniatures are very detailed for the scale and the different options gives you a level of flexibility where you can make every ship look a little different.

There is a lot of Nationalities available to choose from, the obvious being the British, French and Spanish, but also Portugal, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, USA and Pirates.

Andrew went for a French fleet, as he liked their special rules for the army
His army has a range of Ship of the Line consisting of a 1st Rate, two 3rd Rate large, two 3rd Rate small, two 5th rates and two 6th Rates - his unrated ships consist of six Luggers, some barque lanteens and a floating battery

While I went for a more somewhat different army for the period in the form of the United States of America Fleet, which for the most part consists of 5th Frigates (lots of them) with a fair number of un-rated ships as well.

Andy's finished most of his ships with just a couple of un-rated ships to rig and paint, where as I have got a wee while before I finish. Still have the sails and rigging to start (which is the hard bit) but I have painted all the bases and hulls so its a start.

The rigging work involves several steps, 1st drilling small holes in the top of each mast and each side of the hull, then you have to carefully tie a cotton thread (special type) up and down so that it allows further placement of the shrouds and spirit sails etc to be placed as required for the different sail settings. Andy says its easy once you get going but it still looks awfully awkward, not to mention daunting so not looking forward to this part.

Below is photos of Andrew's finished French Fleet , I think Andrew is very pleased with them.

1st Rate French Ship of the Line

Barque Lanteen

Squadron of Luggers

5th and 6th Rate Frigates


Another Barque shot

A 5th rate with furled sails



1st Rate Ship of the Line






The fleet of French ships
Here is some photos of the terrain we did for it, also done some rocky outcrops and hills but havent finished them yet.

Village with church

Lighthouse

Naval Fort on hillside

I will hopefully post a game report next week (my models wont have any masts but at least its a start)

Friday, 9 August 2013

SAGA GAME



Well with everyone in Upper Hutt's gaming group getting into the new SAGA game, Andy and I have both decided to join them.

SAGA is a Dark ages miniature skirmish type game, where each side plays to a points value  - 4 points being ideal for beginners games and 6 points for tournament type games.

Points are calculated by the type of unit it is and is really simple to work out.
1 point is either one of the following - 4 Hearthguard, 8 Warriors, or 12 Levy
Your Hearthguard are your top Warriors and often your Warlords bodyguard
The Warriors are the bulk of your army
The Levy are the peasant type armed with missile weapons and the like.
You also have your Warlord of course which is free and must have.
You can pick any combination of units as you see fit for the point allowance.

A 6 point army would roughly be between 20 and 72 miniatures, organised into groups of 4-12 warriors each - You can organise the groups into any combination of number, and this also will determine how many SAGA dice you will get.

Your Warlord gets 2 Saga dice and the Hearthguard and Warrior units gets one dice for every unit. The Levies don't create any dice as these are mere peasants!
The Saga dice has icons on them and are used in conjunction with your armies Battleboard that give your command choices for the turn.

SAGA DICE symbols

Combat and movement are simple and based on dice rolls, the real challenge is how to use the options from your battleboard as effectively as possible. Every army has their own battleboard with all their own skills.

A turn consists of Orders/Activation, movement, shooting and Melee phase.

An Orders/Activation phase is where upon you roll your SAGA dice and then assign them to your battle board depending on what skill you can or need to use for the turn. Most orders only require one dice symbol to activate it where others require a combination of two the same or different symbols required. Each dice has thee symbols with 1, 2 and 3 being the first, 4 and 5 being the second and 6 being the third.

Shooting is quite interesting, is three main types of weapon - the bow, sling and javelin. also the Crossbow the Norman's use. Each type of unit generates different amounts of shooting dice depending on what their class is. The Levies and Warrior generate 1 dice per every 2 models shooting in the unit.
Hearthguard generates 1 dice for each model, and the Warlord having two dice to shoot with. Of course is some warbands that have skills to increase thier shooting prowess as one would expect.

The Melee phase is similar to shooting where upon you generate attack dice depending on the unit type.
The Levies generate 1 dice for every 3 models in range of the enemy fighting.
The Warriors 1 dice per model
The Hearthguard 2 dice per model
Warlord getting a mighty 5 dice to hit with.

Warlord and Herthguard models for the Anglo-Saxon
Fatigue also plays an important part of the game. You get fatigue by moving a unit twice in turn, by moving and shooting a unit, and for each melee the unit is involved in. If you go over the fatigue limit, the unit is exhausted. Some warbands battle boards evolve around giving their enemies lots of fatigue.

You can use the enemies fatigue against them in number of ways, when moving you can lower their movement allowance by on level, when shooting and in melee you can lower their armour value, or increase your own armour making them harder to hit. Each type of unit has an armour value - Warlord & Hearthguard is 5, Warriors are 4 and Levies 3


Their are 15 different armies to choose from,
Vikings
JomsVikings
Norse Gaels
Normans
Bretons
Welsh
Strathclyde
Irish
Scots
Franks
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Danish
Byzantines
Pagan-Rus
Rus Princes

So after much debate with Andy and finding out what other people were taking (so I didn't pick an army that all the others were using) the Anglo-Saxons sounds like my type of army. Their army description in the book was : - "Any warlord who likes to lead hordes, will love the Anglo-Saxons! As they draw their strength from their numbers, this faction definitely needs to field large units, and needs to have at least 2 or 3 of these 10 strong units to take advantage of the various abilities of their battle board. Unlike the Anglo-Danish, the Anglo-Saxons must act quickly, as they cannot sustain a war of attrition that would fatally reduce their effectiveness of the battle board commands, so act quickly and to overwhelm the enemy with your numbers is the key to victory" this is me!

The Anglo-Saxon Force

The battle board skills for the Anglo-Saxons are all geared up to have units above 10 models, there is one in particular that is quite useful, as it grants a +2 free modifier to number of models in units you have, so for example a 8 model unit would count as 10 models for use in your skills. You can also boost this skill to be 4+ if the appropriate dice was used to activate this skill)

The Anglo Saxon Levies are quite good, as you have the option of arming them with spear and shield, making their armour go to 4+ and melee attack dice generate 1 dice for every 2 models (instead of the normal 3 models required for one dice).

So with this in mind, I have a plan of taking a Warlord, 3 units of Warriors and 3 units of Levies (all armed with spear & shields) for a 6 point army.
My army composition would be to use - two units of 10 warriors, one unit of 4 Warriors,  and three units of 12 Levies and the Warlord himself  -  this would give me 5 good units that are 10 models strong or above, and will also allow a total of 6 SAGA dice for my warband, which I think is good enough.

Andy is thinking of using the Norman's, as he likes the idea of shooting with his crossbows and then charge/counter charging with their heavy mounted cavalry. He also likes the Rus Princes as these models look fantastic, and are all geared around their Hearthguard units and lots of them.


The rules are fairly easy to get used to, as we played a game with some proxies and after two games I think we had it fairly right. It would just be a matter of familiarizing yourself with your battle board commands and see what works well with the combinations you get and against the army your facing.

The miniatures look great also and at 28mm should be a welcome change from 15mm Flames of War. I will have to buy more paints mind you as theirs a lot of bold colours in the shields they use.

Their is an end of year tournament on the 7 & 8 December that the Hutt Club are running, its a 6 point tournament that Chris Pooch is running with 5 rounds.
Not sure at this stage if I will have my army ready by then (wish they had it at 4 points, as this would be easier given everyone is just starting). My decision will also depend if theirs an important sailing event/race that day on whether I attend or not.