Saturday, November 20, 2021

Horizon Wars Game 3

I don't know what started it, but a couple of weeks ago I felt the urge to get back into sci-fi micro/mecha gaming. I already have a low-tech Dropzone Commander Resistance force and a Heavy Gear Caprice force with 4-legged mechs, but I felt the need to own a "conventional" force with tanks, APCs, and infantry, and also a force of "traditional", 2-legged, guns-for-arms mechs.

Needless to say, several purchases were made, and I dusted off my copy of Horizon Wars, re-familiarised myself with the rules, and played a short game with FG after our Sludge game on Monday.

Despite having a better grasp of the rules this time round, we still found the bookkeeping onerous. This was made worse by the (unrelated) fact that I had chosen to mark my models using decals of 2mm tall numbers on the edge of their bases, and between the time when I made that decision to now my eyesight has deteriorated, making it a chore to see which model was which unit on the roster. 

After the game FG and I took stock and looked for other options for the rules. We found Heavy Gear Blitz and Battletech Alpha Strike too crunchy, while simpler rules like Epic required too many models, and are too tied to a background to fit what we were looking for. That's not to say that I do not harbour the dreams of one day fielding an Imperial Knight army with a few titans...

Eventually we had the idea of looking at CAV: Strike Operations ('strike' and 'blitz' are probably to sci-fi rules titles what 'eagle' and 'empire' are to Napoleonic rules titles) - we have been planning to order some terrain pieces from Talon Games, but somehow we had never taken a look at the CAV rules.

I downloaded their quick-start rules, and so far they seem to hit the sweet spot. In many ways it is like Horizon Wars: each element has two actions per activation, and performance degrades with damage, only the degradation is programmed/fixed, so you don't actually have to decide which stat to reduce, or keep track of which unit has which stat reduced.

I ordered a copy of the rules (they are not available in electronic form, sadly), and with shipping the way it is these days, the book, various sci-fi models and terrain should arrive in the mail over the next few weeks, and keep me busy for the rest of the year. If things go as planned, you should be seeing more sci-fi content on this blog next year.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Sludge Fox #3 - The Black Mingo

Crown forces defend their position

Game 3 once again saw the Crown forces on the defensive. I purchased an artillery piece as a support under the rules we use for the campaign.

The Rebel forces attack

FG had one Rebel Line Infantry unit exchange fire with my main body across the river, while the skirmishers and shock troops tried to outflank me on my right. I sent one unit of Line Infantry to intercept them - the resulting melee saw both units destroyed and left a huge pile of Gore tokens on the ground.

FG then sent another Line Infantry unit down the road, but my cannon managed to cause some casualties before it blew itself up on a misfire. The battle came down to an exchange of musket fire between the two sides, until at last the Rebels gave up and left.

Survivors of the onslaught

It was a Pyrrhic victory for the Crown forces, as they have lost more than two-thirds of their forces.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Sludge Fox #2 - Blue Savannah

Crown forces defend a roadblock

Game 2 of our Sludge Fox campaign saw my Crown forces defending a small farmstead against a Rebel force. I had my line infantry defend a barricade across a road, while my skirmishers deployed in the woods on either side, waiting for the Rebels to come down the road.

Rebel forces approach

FG had the Rebel skirmishers outflank the Crown position on the right, while the main body took their time to clear my skirmishers out of the woods, before the line infantry marched down the road to deliver a devastating volley against my position.

The Crown forces quickly lost their appetite for the fight, and abandoned their position.

This was a rather one-sided battle, as the Rebels took their time and waited for the right moment to launch their assault (Unstoppable Momentum). At the same time my dice were so poor that I failed to inflict even one hit on the Rebel forces. At the end I found myself pulling my forces back from all the Gore tokens to avoid having to make Nerve Tests at poor odds.

Finally, here is a shot of the roadside shrine which I built that FG painted for me.

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Sludge Fox #1 - Skirmish at Kingstree

Crown forces form a defence line as the rebel forces approach.

With our forces completed and a test game under our belt, FG and I decided to play a Sludge campaign. To provide a framework for our campaign, I googled around for pre-made campaigns for the black powder period in the skirmish scale, and realised that Too Fat Lardies' Sharp Practice campaigns fit the bill. Specifically, we had the idea that our two forces represent the royal forces (represented by my cleaner-looking figures) and the forces of a rebel noble (represented by FG's sludgier figures). After looking through the various campaign, we decided to play the Swamp Fox campaign, renaming it our Sludge Fox campaign.

We kicked the campaign off with Scenario 2 from the campaign book, since we do not yet have a two-storey building required for Scenario 1. The scenario saw my malaria-ridden crown forces conducting a fighting retreat against pursuing rebels.

Rebel jaegers flank the crown position through the sludge.

We played with small forces and without magic, aiming chiefly to get all the rules right for our first game, which I think we managed to do. Even though there were only 3 units and 2 commander figures on each side, it was an interesting game as the scenario set-up gave both players a few options to achieve their victory conditons.

Major John Harrison is captured, and Holbein is slain.

I sent one unit on a headlong march for the table edge, while another unit and the skirmishers tried to delay the rebels with shooting. This went well for a few turns as I managed to roll higher on the Initiative rolls. However, as the game went on the greater volume of fire from the rebels started to tell, and on the last two turns I lost the Initiative rolls, and my commander was overwhelmed and gave up, while the officer who stayed behind to try to fend off the rebel skirmishers was killed fighting alone.

It was a fun game, and we plan to continue the rest of the campaign. We will still need to decide on how to translate the forces in the campaign book to Sludge units, including incorporating magic and artillery, but so far it looks workable.