Sunday, April 27, 2014

Battle of Albuera

Our first big game of the year - and what better spectacle than a Napoleonic game?

The battlefield viewed from the south, with the Badajoz road cutting across the table, and Albuera in the middle.

For the scenario I chose the battle of Albuera, which is small enough for us to have room to manoeuvre on the table.

I tweaked the scenario to give the French a fighting chance by delaying the arrival of the Spanish armies, but gave the British more leeway in the deployment. Martin chose to deploy the 2nd Division on the hill to his far right, something which Beresford failed to do, and covered the gap between that division and the rest of his army with the cavalry.

The French players attempted a left hook as Soult did: fg attacked the left flank of the Anglo-Portuguese army, while wahj sent the cavalry across the stream to screen the two divisions which followed.

Seeing a gap between the two wings of the French army, Martin decided to send the cavalry across the stream, which prompted the French cavalry to respond.

The fighting on the Anglo-Portuguese left was slow and indecisive, but the French finally gained a foothold. On the right flank the 2nd Division saw off the French dragoons' attack - but the dragoons have done their job; in the climax of the battle, two divisions charged up the wooded hill and managed to dislodge the 2nd Division, causing many casualties.

At this time, the Spanish army arrives, and we called the game.

It's hard to say how both sides performed compared to their historical counterparts, but I don't think it really mattered since we all got to push colourful figures across the table.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dwarves with Torches

Partly because I wanted another dwarf figure holding a torch for my Riot campaign, and partly because I like Scibor dwarves, I bought and painter another one of their miners.

I like his pick.

And I like staining the cloaks of these dwarf figures.

Shown with the other torch-bearing dwarf from Scibor.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Peasant Revolt 1

Earlier this week FG and I met up to start our Riot campaign.

The first scenario we played (actually the second scenario from the book) recreates the start of the revolt. The tax collector, escorted by a few of the king's men, arrives at the village of Herdorf to collect the tax. A dispute with the villagers over the amount owed escalates into violence, and the royal party finds itself facing an angry mob.

The tax collector and his party must make their way from the top right corner of the board to the bottom right corner.

The warriors form a protective cordon around the tax collector and draw the mob towards them.

While the warriors hold off the mob, our tax collector makes his escape!

The tax collector managed to escape with his life, but two of the king's men were killed in the affray.

One the initial excitement has worn off, the villagers realised the gravity of what they had done and knew they had two choices: to go to the king to seek his pardon and probably face retribution, or to march to the capital to present their case - they decided on the latter.

The next day word of the events at Herdorf has spread and several villages also saw violence. Some were put down by the local authorities, while at others all those who represented royal authority were either killed and ejected.

Loyal forces move against a mob of looters from two directions.

Hemmed in against a building, the rioters were picked off and eventually dispersed, but not before setting a building on fire and looter another two.

The second scenario we played was the first one from the book. The two types of rioters (Looters and Lynchers) played very differently.

The game was rather simple when played with only one mob. In our next game we hope to play with more troops and more mobs.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Riot Campaign - the background

As I planned my Riot campaign, I also started thinking about the geography and political setting of my Dwarven Peasant Revolt. It occurred to me that just as my figures came from a few companies, perhaps my dwarven kingdom also had a few provinces and regions, and that the dwarves, although a single kingdom here, were not as uniform across the kingdom.

I base the basic geography of the kingdom after Germany. The whole kingdom is in the shape of an irregular pentagon. On the northwest it borders the sea; to the northeast it continues into the tundra; on the other three sides it is surrounded by mountain ranges. The land is relatively flat and open to the north of the country, and gradually rises and increases in forest coverage, until it reaches the mountain ranges that marks the kingdom's border.

The northwest region of the kingdom, which borders the sea to its north and the human Barony to the west, is called Hassel-Freesia. The dwarves in this region are the most cosmopolitan and "humanised" in the kingdom. As they border the Barony and have a sea port, they are also the richest in the kingdom and control the salt trade. They wield political power that is disproportionate to the size of their population.

The region to the northeast is known as Sciboria. A relatively new addition to the dwarven kingdom, the region, while less developed than the older provinces, possesses more mineral wealth and thus also political clout.

The heart of the dwarven kingdom and the oldest province is Lotringia, and spans the northern plains to the forested central uplands to the mountain ranges. Many of the oldest mountain halls are in decline as the dwarves, never a populous race, head northeast or northwest to seek their fortunes as the mineral wealth run out, but Lotringia is still the cultural heartland of the dwarves and the dwelling place of the king. Population is centred around towns along the rivers flowing to the coast, which form the major transport routes of the kingdom.

To the southwest corner of the kingdom is the region of Redboxia. Lacking even the rivers which make trade viable, the region is considered the most primitive of the kingdom, and its people are fiercely independent.

The prelude to the Revolt is the Human-Dwarf Alliance against the Goblins, which was the setting for our Strandhogg games which we played a couple of years back. To wage the war the dwarven king had to raise funds. To do this he instituted a number of taxes, including a widely hated salt tax. The situation is aggravated by the demand for salt from Sciboria (both for preserving food and the fur trade), which drives up the prices many folds. Hassel-Freesia, which had the only major saltwork in the kingdom and also imported salt from the Barony profited from this.

The resulting resentment amongst the Lotringians and Redboxians will boil over to open revolt in the near future...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ottoman Dreadnought

Ottoman Kanuni Class Dreadnought

It took a few months, but I finally painted everything except the tiny flyer tokens from my Ottoman Naval Support Group box set.

The word kanuni translates as "lawgiver", and was a title of Suleiman the Magnificent. I take the liberty of interpreting that to mean that the ships of the class are named after past sultans, and named my ship the Yavuz Selim, a name which I think is suitably intimidating.

The entire support group (minus tiny flyer tokens) on its shakedown cruise.
Also completed but not shown previously are the two Sinop Class Armoured Cruisers, seen flanking the Yavuz Selim above. Sinop is the name of a Turkish province, a city, as well as a naval battle fought there. I decided to name the ships in the class after Ottoman cities and named my two cruisers the Izmir and the Iznik, both of which I have visited and enjoyed.

Next on the painting list is a dwarf miner from Scibor, and hopefully a dozen dwarf footmen from Red Box Games after that for my Riot campaign.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Riot - A Review

Before I begin my campaign, I thought I might do a review of the rules.

What you get

I purchased the rules directly from Irregular Miniatures. They actually do bundles where you can buy the rules and the figures required for the game in various scale, but I bought only the rules booklet.

The booklet is A5-size and there are no additional charts, QRS, or counter sheets. The cover is a blue cardboard with a line drawing on the front (shown above), and inside you get 20 pages of text with occasional ink drawings which are quite evocative.

The rules

On the first page, the author introduces the rules and explains its inspiration and philosophy. We then jump straight into the meat.

The first section discusses the scale and basing.

I was actually quite surprised to learn that unlike its predecessors Tusk and Tusk 2, Riot is actually a grid-based game - the playing area is either physically marked or visualised as divided into 25mm squares, which regulate movement and combat.

Written with 6mm figures in mind, the game also accommodates 15mm or 25/28mm figures, all utilising the same "ground scale". Basing is nominally 25mm x 25mm, but as each grid can only take one base at a time, any basing that fits within a 25mm grid will do. For my campaign, I will be using 28mm figures based singly, which unfortunately takes something away from the spectacle the author no doubt intended.

To give the reader an idea of the scope of the game, a basic, solo scenario is played on a 60cm x 60cm area (i.e. a 24 x 24 grid) with about 5 bases of security forces (a generic term used for the side opposing the rioters) against 12 bases of rioters; an advanced multi-player scenario is played on a 90cm x 90cm or 120cm x 60cm area (i.e. 36 x 36 or 48 x 24 grid), with around 72 bases or more of rioters against about 20 bases of security forces. Rioters are organised into mobs of 6 to 9 figures, while security forces may be grouped as the player wishes.

Given that I only have about 40 "peasant" figures and that I am using one figure per "base", I can already foresee that my games will not be particularly grand.

The next surprise was the fact that instead of the players taking the opposing sides of the security forces and the rioters, the rioters are actually a "non-player side" which are controlled by an algorithm. Depending on their proximity to threats (based on the distance to the various types of security forces), their own type (Looters or Lynchers), and the result of a die-roll, mobs of rioters may loot, set fire to buildings, move, attack, withdraw, or flee during the rioters' turn.

The third surprise to me was that there is actually a third side a player can play: that of the reporters. The aim of the player playing the reporter or news team is to witness and record newsworthy "scenes" by being in proximity to the scene occurring, be it buildings burning, looting, or "Police Brutality". In the modern scenarios (bearing in mind that the rules were written in 1985...), the news team player is the antagonist to the security forces player, who must quell the riot without the whole thing becoming a "Political Disaster", which occurs if a certain number of News Points are collected.

Combat resembles DBX: opposing bases square off against each other, adding flank and rear support factors, and modifiers for charging, troop types etc. and the result is added to the roll of 2d6; a low score results in a rioter base being destroyed or pushed back, whilst a high score results in the loss or retreat of the security forces.

Finally, there is a section on looting and setting buildings on fire and fire-fighting.

The last four pages provide four different scenarios, ranging from a medieval peasant revolt, a Napoleonic lynch mob, to a modern street riot.

A typical game has the security forces player buying his "army" from a menu using the points allocated (e.g. 6 points for a tank, 3 for a missile-armed infantry, and 1 point for a transport or fire engine base). The number and type of rioter bases are dictated by the scenarios, but the formula used here seems to be 10 points of security forces to 12 bases of looters.

The news team player, in scenarios which include news teams, also buys his team from a menu using his allocated points.

During each turn each player will roll a d6 to determine the number of Activation Points he has for the turn, and the security forces player/s will go around trying to quell the riot, while the news team player/s try to document all the action.

Overall Assessment

Despite the few surprises, I quite like the rules as they fit with what I am trying to recreate here.

A grid-based system allows me to use 2D maps, which are easier to set up and take down. The use of grids to regulate movement and combat also speeds things up (no measuring required) and reduces ambiguity.

While I would have preferred to play the rioters rather than the security forces (wouldn't you?), I have to admit that it is a more reasonable thing to do to let mob actions be determined by a random die-roll. This allows me to play the game solo if I so wish.

The presence of news teams, while not relevant to my planned campaign, certainly adds a different dimension to the game, and is perhaps something that gamers who wargame modern conflicts can consider adding to their games.

As I haven't played a game of Riot, I am not sure how everything will come together. In fact, I haven't actually thought about what an effective strategy or tactic for the security forces player might be.

I hope to get a game in next week and update my readers afterwards.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting back in the saddle

The first quarter of this year has been cruel to me, but while there are still issues to be settled, I am keen to get back to wargaming again.

This week I made a set of ten 10 x 10 grid 2D terrain tiles: Heroic Maps Village Core Set glued onto 1mm PVC foam boards. The terrain depicted on the maps - one, two and three square wide passages - are perfect for the Riot! rules from Irregular Miniatures. which I will be using.

The idea for this project grew out of my desire to see more use out of my 28mm dwarves collection. As the dwarves come in armoured and unarmoured forms, it seemed natural to divide them into two sides based on this difference. This then led to the idea that perhaps they represented "peasants" and "royal" forces respectively, which then led me to read up about the Peasants' Revolt. The wikipedia account of the Revolt reads like a ladder campaign, which is pretty much what I had in mind.

Looking for a set of rules to play the campaign, I recalled the rather unusual set of rules from Irregular and ordered a copy - it turned out to be rather interesting and would convert to 28mm and my low fantasy setting easily. Also, the scenarios provided allow me to recreate some of the conflicts described in the wikipedia account.

With all that in place, I started to put together a backstory in my head, in which my dwarven kingdom is actually made up of several provinces, each named after the lines or manufacturers of my figures... And what's more, the story dovetails with that which I used as a background narrative for our Strandhogg games.

I hope to get the first game in next week, and if I can find the time I will give an account of the situation which resulted in this revolt.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Gifts from my Father

My father passed away on 29 Mar.

He gave his children many gifts during his life; these three I consider the greatest:

The third of these is life.

The second is the freedom to live life as we choose to.

The greatest of these is the courage to use that choice.