Saturday, 7 May 2016

Crescent & Cross Battle Report

Nearly two years ago, Grace, Dave and I placed a group order to Legio Heroica miniatures to get the figures we needed to make crusader-era Saga armies. Last night, we were able to get all three of our armies on the table together for the first time!

Some of Dave's Saracens.

My Hospitalliers.

Some of Grace's Saracens.
The scenario we chose was Last Stand, wherein the victory conditions are simple: if there is a single non-Warlord figure left of the defender's side on the table at game end, the defender wins. The slaughter must be complete! The attacker uses the Endless warband rule, meaning they can recycle their dead figures into new units, which can arrive from any table edge.

Which force is attacking and which defending is decided by bidding: the side that thinks they can wipe out the enemy army in the fewest number of turns is the attacker. We both bid the same number, seven, though, so we rolled off and the Hospitalliers were the high roll, and thus the attackers!

This caused some consternation on the Saracen side, because Grace was playing Mutatawwi'a, and most of their Saga abilities depend on sacrificing figures, something she was reluctant to do when each dead figure brought me closer to victory!

I had my own problems: I was playing an 8-point force against Grace's and Dave's 4-point forces, which gave me a lot of figures to use, but it also meant that I would have a hard time activating my troops: I only got the same number of Saga dice per turn that Grace and Dave each got individually, meaning I couldn't move all my troops each turn, and I couldn't afford many dice for Saga abilities.

Grace and Dave deployed first, and I had first activation.

Turn 1

End of Hospitallier turn 1
Dave had a group of eight archers on top of the tallest building (North in this picture), so I decided to ignore that side and focus on the other directions. I brought my combined Hearthguard unit, with the Warrior Priest, in from the west, a unit of mounted Sergeants in from the east, another unit of mounted Sergeants from the southeast with my Warlord, and my three units of foot Sergeants from the South.

On the Saracen turn, Grace charged my Sergeants in the east with her mounted Warriors unit. The battle was a draw with two casualties on each side.

There was some other adjustment of the troops, mounted units of Grace's and Dave's coming around from the north to engage. Besides that, not much action in the first turn.

End of Saracen turn 1
Turn 2

In the first turn, the attackers generate no Saga dice, so each unit gets one free activation to move onto the table. Starting in turn 2, though, I rolled Saga dice as normal, and I was able to drive forward with my big Hearthguard unit, led by the priest, and engage a unit of Saracen warriors guarding the west entrance to the compound. All but 3 of the Saracens were killed.

In the east, both of my units of mounted Sergeants were able to engage and destroy the rest of the Saracen warriors.

At this point Grace and Dave had a little conference, and the Saracen turn was mostly about running away to the North with their mounted Hearthguard units. I wasn't too concerned about chasing them: when I had had enough figures killed, I could just create a new unit out of the dead guys and bring them on wherever the Saracens had fled to, so there weren't many good places to hide on the board.

End of Saracen Turn 2
Turn 3

I mostly neglected my foot troops for the game, since I needed to use my activations on the mounted troops to chase the Saracens around. I was able to assault one of the buildings with Saracens inside, though it didn't go very well for me.

Meanwhile, my mounted Hearthguard were able to clean up the Saracens lurking in the northwest house.

Meanwhile, in the East, my mounted Sergeants were able to beat up on Grace's "princesses", her mounted Hearthguard on matching white horses, leaving only one alive to flee with her warlord.

Dave's archers shot some holes in my Sergeants in the east, and they mounted an ineffectual charge against the building.

Turn 4

I turned the attention of my (now half-strength) Hearthguard unit to attacking Dave's mounted Hearthguard in the northwest corner, but he was able to use some sort of sneaky Saracen ability to cancel my priest's action, so they ended up just standing there, looking like idiots.

Then, in the east, the charge of my Sergeants against the house full of archers was disrupted by another, different Saracen ploy and they ended up just running around the north side of the house (where they are hidden from the camera and from where I was sitting, so I mostly forgot about them after that).

I put together a unit of Hearthguard and a small unit of Sergeants from my dead guys (you can see them at the top of the picture), but I didn't have the activations to use them this turn, so they went back to the graveyard.

The Saracens continued their policy of evasion, forcing me to chase them around the table.

End of Saracen turn 4.

Turn 5

My priest and the remaining Hearthguard were finally able to come to grips with Dave's mounted Saracens and wipe them out, but at a high cost.

After that fight, I had enough dead figures to bring in some new units. A fresh unit of Hearthguard from the northwest corner was able to finish off Dave's mounted Hearthguard, while some mounted Sergeants tried to attack Grace's warriors but were stymied by more Saracen trickery. In the northeast, I was able to jump Grace's one remaining princess with some resurrected foot soldiers, but they weren't able to finish the job.

In the south, Dave's foot abandoned the buildings and fled across the courtyard to the buildings in the north, chased (slowly) by my own soldiers.

The one remaining horseman from Grace's mounted archers unit that I smashed in the second turn ran through a gap and fled to the west, alone.

End of Saracen turn 5.

Turn 6

The victory conditions required the attacker to destroy all non-Warlord units. This means I didn't have to kill Dave's leader to win the game, but there were still good reasons to do so: first, deny him Saga dice; and second, because he's a big jerk. I turned my Hearthguard unit to the task, and a lot of them died, but Dave's leader was finally dragged from his horse and put to the sword.

There was some fairly ineffectual back-and-forth among the houses, while I arranged my crossbow men to start hemming in Grace's lone horse in the west, and her single hearthguard and her leader ran around the hill in the east.

End of Saracen turn 6.
Turn 7

So I had my work cut out for me in the final turn. Most of the Saracens were dead, but there were still a few holdouts in the buildings and in the corners. The guys in the corners weren't too much of a concern, because I had enough deads to generate new units to attack them with. Digging the footmen out of the houses was going to be tough, though - or so I thought.

I sent my mounted Sergeants against the last holdouts of Dave's warriors in the north buildings, and they were able to get most of the job done.

I brought in a new unit of Hearthguard in the East to kill off Grace's remaining princess and her leader, which they were able to do. After, they turned to the remaining footmen in the house and finished them off.

So the game was pretty much in the bag! There was just the one wimpy archer remaining out of the entire Saracen force, the last survivor of the first unit I attacked at the start of the game. I brought in a new unit of Sergeants from the west to finish him off.

...and they couldn't! The Sergeants couldn't get that one last kill and finish off the only Saracen figure left on the table. I think some demotions are in order!

The End

So, at the end of the game, the Hospitalliers were unable to achieve their victory condition of killing every Saracen figure on the board, so victory went to the Saracens!

Here are some photos of Grace with the undisputed hero of the day.

This was the closest game of Saga I've played, and probably the most fun.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Last spring I painted up a bunch of post-apocalypse gangsters, ostensibly for us to use in our Other Dust game, but really just because they were cool. This spring I received a bunch of mutants and other post-apocalyptic jerks from Khurasan, and I have just started painting them. Here are the first results!

More to come!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

FoF WW2 Second Playtest

It has been a while!

The boring game-life update part:

After my trip to Turkey in September, I never actually stopped painting miniatures or making terrain or playing games, but those parts of my gaming life have occupied a smaller portion of my time than otherwise. For one thing, I'm now up to TWO rpg nights a week, one of which I'm running; for another, I got into Android: Netrunner, a fantastic card game that I have been really enjoying. Those games, plus the doldrums I have been stuck in for the last while building some more boring hedgerows, have made it hard for me to get enthusiastic enough about miniatures gaming to keep up my phlog. Recent developments, though, have sucked me back into miniatures land once again.

Trumpeter Salute is approaching, and I am keen to host a couple of games again this year. I originally got inspired to build a more-vertical-than-horizontal 2'x2' game board and put together some post-apocalyptic Pulp Alley games, but after mocking the board up in 3d using Maya... quickly became clear that it was going to be a huge undertaking, and I wasn't going to have enough time. So I decided to go back to my Force On Force WW2 project from this summer and resurrect it for the convention.

The more-interesting game part:

I prepared a new historical scenario and ran it as a drop-in game at the monthly Trumpeter meeting on Friday. My other scenario has Canadians attacking a village held by Germans, so I wanted to find a situation where I had Germans counterattacking against Canadians. German doctrine in WW2 was to always counterattack, so finding a story wasn't hard.

The scenario I created takes place during Operation Windsor, when the Brits and Canadians finally began to break out of their beachhead at the beginning of July and push on Caen. Several regiments of the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division were able to take Carpiquet, a small village and airfield on the outskirts of Caen, and then had to withstand punishing counterattacks from the 1st SS Panzer Division. At one point, C company of the North Shore New Brunswick Regt. was down to around 40 men and had to hold the line against SS Panther tanks until some M10 Achilles arrived and drove the tanks off.

Here is the new scenario, though it's the work-in-progress version; I need to add a map and make some changes (discussed below) before I consider it finished.

So, how did it play out?

I thought the game went fine. I was using the rules for fog of war (phlog post link above) that I created in the summer, and I think the blinds movement works well. The cons are that it has the effect of slowing the game somewhat, and the table doesn't look quite as cool with a bunch of poker chips moving around instead of painted miniatures. The positives are big, though: neither side knows what the other is doing, especially during deployment, and it makes feints / distractions / bluffs possible that couldn't be done without hidden units. Also, I didn't let the different sides look at each others' force rosters, so neither really knew what they would be facing. It made for a fun dynamic.

The rest of the rules worked fine in the WW2 theater, though I forgot my rulebook at home (herp derp) so I had to muddle through some parts I couldn't remember precisely.

The scenario needs a bit of tweaking. First, when I play this at the convention, I will hand each player a group of units, and those units will be that player's responsibility for the game. As it was, I had two people on the German side and three on the Canadian side, and there was a lot of analysis paralysis as every decision on both sides had to be sent to committee before it could be acted upon. This would also help allay the "quarterbacking" problem that's common to all multiplayer games, where one player ends up taking over and runs the whole thing.

Second, I will change the mission objectives for the Canadian side - they are very difficult as they stand now. Instead of giving points for "No X crosses front line" I will give points for "No surviving X on Allied side of front line at game end".

I thought the balance of forces was good. I tried to make the scenario as historical as I could, with the resources at my disposal, and it made for a very close game. At the end of the test game, the VPs were perfectly tied, so nobody ran away with an easy win. In fact, the result was very close to the historical outcome, so I would consider that a success.

Special thanks to David, Grace, Alex, Gord, and Will for helping me test out the scenario!

Canadian commanders draw up their plans while shifty Germans collude in the background

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

WW2 FoF First Playtest

This weekend I was able to do a first run-through of my WW2 adaptation for Force on Force. We didn't play through to the end of the scenario, because the friend with whom I was playing had his own set of rules he wanted to playtest as well, but I did learn some things in the course of running the game. I'll put together another post with my updated rules ideas, but for now, here are some photos from the game.

The first revealed Canadian troops approach St. Lambert through the fields.

The Germans can see several groups of troops and one tank in the fields, but there is a lot of movement elsewhere that hasn't been identified yet.

View from the church steeple on the approaching Canadians.

Three Sherman tanks and a Universal Carrier race across the fields past a wiped-out mortar team, trying to find a weak spot in the German defense.

SS Panzergrenadiers fight through some minor wounds to repel the oncoming Canadians.

A Canadian section approaches the Town Hall, revealing one of the German tokens as a dummy.

One Sherman tries to sneak around the town hall, but a massive Tiger tank crashes through a garden wall and opens fire. Luckily for the Sherman crew, the shot ricochets and does no harm.

After much exchange of fire between the Germans in the town and the Canadians in the field, casualties begin to mount.

A Panzer Mark IV emerges from hiding and heads off the other Shermans at the crossroad, again failing to do any damage.

And that's where we left it. We played for somewhere around 2 hours, and I think that with another 2 hours we probably could have finished off the scenario. My only regret is that I wasn't able to blow up any tanks with the Tiger!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Force On Force in World War 2


This post marks the start of my venture into converting Force on Force to use in WW2 battles. I'll post my thoughts and whatever work I do with converting the rules here, or in follow-on posts, mainly to collect my ideas in one place, but also so that anyone else who is working on the same idea may find it useful.

Why Force On Force? There are a few reasons I prefer these rules: first, and most importantly, it's very interactive. Everybody is making decisions all the time. You are never left sitting there, looking at the pretty pictures in a sourcebook for forty-five minutes while your opponent plays out his entire turn. Second, the rules are entirely scenario-based. There are no points lists, and winning the scenario depends entirely on achieving your (non-abstract) objectives. Third, it just feels right. Firefights are frantic, you have to constantly try to gauge your opponent's strategy and evolve your own, and everything you do matters. It's fine-grained enough that there's room for detailed planning if you want, but it never feels like it's bogging down into minutiae.

House Rules

There are a few particulars in which the WW2 scenarios I want to play were quite different from the sorts of modern fights that FoF typically represents:

Larger Actions: WW2 was (mainly) a war between organized, uniformed armies. I can easily imagine a lot of situations where the insurgency rules from FoF would be useable (partisan actions, Stalingrad, Berlin '45), but not in the battles I'll be fighting.

Command and Control: The impression I get from reading books on the subject is that soldiers were much less independent in WW2 than they are in modern armies. I'll use the command rules for Irregulars in my games for everyone, where a unit that does not have line of sight to a command figure must make a TQ check to activate. Teams will be exempt. Tokens (see below) will make the TQ test at +1 to the roll.

Weapons: The difference in weapons technology is actually the easiest change to deal with. In WW2, a man with a rifle is the basic 1FP unit, and other weapons and organizations will be extrapolated from there. I have come up with some stats for the support weapons in my first scenario (PIAT, panzerfaust, 2" mortar, etc.) which will appear in the unit's stat block when I publish it.

Vehicles and Armor:  I have taken the stats for the tanks I'll be using in this first scenario from a list compiled by a user on the Ambush Alley forums here. (Registration is required to access the .pdf)

Fog Of War: One thing I think is missing from FoF is a proper fog-of-war system. This gets away somewhat from the FoF philosophy that the scenario represents the action once the engagement proper has already begun, ie shooting has started, but I want to have some maneuver/recon component in my game as well.

There are a lot of ways of achieving this, but the one I like best is using unit tokens. I have some color-coded, flocked poker chips I used as blinds in I Ain't Been Shot Mum, and I'll be using them in FoF for the same purpose. With tokens you have to have some sort of spotting system in place, so here's mine:

Spotting may only be done as a reaction, not an action. Identifying a token requires a successful TQ check using the TQ of a standard soldier of the force. Tokens may spot tokens. The following modifiers apply to the spot check:

spotter elevated: +1
spotter under fire: -1

target in cover/obscured: -1
target in building / prepared camo: -2
target within optimum range: +1
low light: -1
target in optimum range and in the open*: automatic
target fires: automatic

*this can be at any point during the target's turn, even if they are only in the open briefly, such as when crossing a road.

Each force will have one token per section, team, or vehicle. Several 'dummy' tokens will be included in each force's setup also.

More To Come

So that's the current state of my rule adjustments for WW2 Force On Force. I'm sure I will have other thoughts, especially after I play my first test game tonight, with a scenario I have created. I will publish a report and the scenario itself here sometime soon.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

A Tiger In Normandy

This coming weekend I plan to run a game of WW2 Force On Force at the Trumpeter club meeting. I have been developing a scenario based on historical actions of the Canadian 4th Armoured Division in St. Lambert Sur Dives, and a key part of the action was the Canadians trying to clear the village while a Tiger tank prowled around inside. Thus, I clearly needed a(nother) Tiger tank. Luckily, I had the Flames of War Michael Wittman set on my shelf, so I just had to assemble, prime, and paint it.

While I was at it, I had a couple of the fantastic TigerTerrain 15mm buildings that were still unpainted in my closet. I pulled them out and I have finished one.

I plan to have a much more thorough write-up regarding my WW2 Force On Force conversion efforts and the scenario I am putting together at a later date. Check this space for future updates.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Perilous Island: The Temple Of Futility

After an unplanned but predictable hiatus, Bryan and I returned to Perilous Island this weekend. We played at Bryan's house and took the game in a slightly different direction than previously: this time, we set up a huge dungeon using Bryan's Dwarven Forge sets and fought it out in there.

We chose the Jungle Trail scenario, which seemed appropriate to appropriate for this setting. The scenario has the leagues chasing "Native Youths" around the table, trying to catch them and question them. It looked like it was going to be easy for us to corner the youths in the dungeon, with the limited paths available, so we decided that the youths knew secret passages and tunnels that let them travel freely. More on this later...

The initial layout. The She-Wolves of the SS entered the table at south center, and The Shadow entered from the northeast. The Native Youths started in the northwest and southeast corners of the temple.

Black Sascha and the She-Wolves approach the entrance with optimism. Native youths? Easy!
A few of the She-Wolves head off to catch the Youth in the northwest. "Hey, I thought this temple was abandoned? What's with the raging fires?"
The Shadow heads for the Youth in the southeast, easily avoiding the perils of the fire. The Youth cowers, Blair-Witch-style, with his head in the corner.
Black Sascha and her lieutenant, meanwhile, head off The Shadow's two lieutenants and some of his mooks at a central doorway. It will soon prove to be a black day for the various junior members of the two leagues...
The Youth in the northwest has just popped through a hidden passage and landed quite close to Emma and Inge. They get ready to leap into action and subdue him!

The Shadow is less lucky, as his quarry actually climbs out of the temple altogether and starts running around on the lawn outside. Damn kids!
Things begin heating up in the center! Black Sascha and Gertie jump on Andre, while two German troopers exchange fire with Mr. Wu and The Shadow's less-glamorous hangers-on. The dead cultist with the dagger was a hostile bystander who suddenly appeared from the shadows and interfered with Mr. Wu just long enough for the She-Wolves to set up a blockade in the doorway.
In the northwest, what looked like a fairly ordinary perilous fire suddenly exploded, thanks to a card played by Bryan, applying the fire's peril to everyone within 3 inches, and rendering that area extremely perilous for the rest of the game. Despite some heroic, escapes and even more heroic returns into the inferno, none of the people you see here ended up surviving. Half of the She-Wolves team, felled with one card!
In the north, the Youth pops through another wall, leaving him just inches as the crow flies from the burning She-Wolves, but several long turns of running through the corridors, even if the She-Wolves still had their skins and eyes and a desire to run. Still, one German trooper gamely runs north, trying to head him off.
When a team catches a Youth, a new one spawns nearby. When one team has caught three Youths, they win the scenario. At this point, maybe six turns in, neither team has even come close to catching one of the Youths.
Mookageddon has come in the center - Andre lies wounded next to a dead German trooper, more mooks are bleeding out in the corridor, while Gertie faces off against a wounded Shadow. Mr. Wu takes off, making a play for one of the Youths, but BS runs him down and begins flogging him mercilessly with her whip.
The Shadow tries to beat up on Gertie, but...
...he is not particularly successful.
Gertie returns the favor, landing a solid blow! When The Shadow tries to shrug it off...
...he is not particularly successful.
Meanwhile, outside the temple to the north, Boy Tarzan (a temporary recruit to The Shadow's team) tries to reason with the Native Youth. This is the first and only time one of the characters manages to make contact! This could be the game winning play!
Unfortunately, he is not particularly successful.
The game ended with everyone on The Shadow's team dead or dying, and just Black Sascha, Gertie, and an irrelevant German trooper left standing on the She-Wolves' side. The leagues managed to capture zero Plot Points between them, and retreated shame-faced from the Temple of Futility.