Originally, we'd planned on all of us bringing 36 AP armies for Hordes of the Things and having some warmup games for Dave Zecchini's HOTT Wax Tournament on Feb. 2. We had an odd number, and when I offered to sit out the first round, the rest of the guys pushed instead for a giant battle. So, it was Tom, Allen and Joel on one side, and me and Keith on the other. Tom fielded his Black Hoof clan, Allen his new Rat army, and Joel cobbled together some Arabs from his DBA stuff. Keith and I had to field larger armies to even out the points, so Keith did 54 points of his science fiction HOTT army, with Borg cubes as Airboats and so on. I fielded the Unholy Alliance -- Dogs and Cats -- using my almost finished 15mm Dogmen army along with the Lionmen of the Walled City of Leon.
For a description of the action, I once again defer to the prolific keyboards of Joel:
Battle report 01.13:
Mike (Dogboys & Catmen) Keith (SciFi invaders) vs. Allen (Ratmen) Ptomas (Hordes of Herds) Joel (Arabs)
On the grassy plains, RhattRokk is the rally point, not because we like the dirty lowlife vermin that tunnel under it ,but because it is one of the few features on the steppe that everyone knows. When word spread of the invasion, we all found ourselves amongst the gentle hills and date palms around RhattRokk. An unholy alliance of dogs/cats IS one of the signs of the coming of god(s), and that convinced us to quickly form battlelines.
The opening battle saw gnashing of teeth, howls and hisses, as the Ratmen charged Dogboys & Catmen alike. The Hordes of Herds stampeded (in a slow, methodically sheepish way) the flank of the Dogboy line. The Arab herders picked up arms and took to the hills to scout the enemy. Early success came to the Hordes of Herds, and we all road forward with more hope than horse sense (or pips, for that matter!). Soon the Dogboys, gave a mighty push toward the Rat lair and pressed the Hordes of the farm animals till a panicked bleeting cry arouse....DON'T HERD US, BRO!!
The farm animals bent but didn't break, the Rat lair was no closer than before. This was when the lull swept the battlefield. I think it was then that the Catmen stretched yawned and took a catnap. The Dogboys turned a tight circle three times and lay down. The goats sheep and bovine brains immediately seized the moment and grazed the trampled grass to celebrate an indecisive battle.
I ran an impromptu scenario using our AK-47 Heroscape rules for Modern Africa. Three players fielded troops representing the UN-spearheaded invasion of Congo's breakaway province of Katanga. The invaders had one UN force and two ANC (Congolese National Army) forces. The three defenders represented the militia of Katanga, stiffened by white mercenaries hired from Britain, France and Belgium. It was a bloody battle, with the two Congolese Army groups virtually wiped out: Only the UN force remained relatively intact at game's end. The defenders suffered gravely, too, as the Katanga militia were eliminated, and both mercenary forces suffered light to moderate losses. On the strength of that disparity, the game was declared a narrow victory for the defenders. The invasion would be forced to pull back and regroup, with doubtless more UN waffling on whether to continue participation in a civil war in the Congo.
This got pretty angry for the native Congolese, they seemed to take the brunt of kills on both sides. On one side, we had Congolese Regulars (Keith) in the center, the UN (Joe) occuping part of the town on the right, and a mixed force (Joel) on the left. Pthomas was opposing Joel with some Rhodesian mercs, Allen faced me with the usual militia gaggle, and Dave faced the UN in town with some Belgian mercs.
I had a jeep with HMG, a 4WD truck with a recoiless rifle, and 2 squads of regulars. Allen had 3 milita squads and a technical with a HMG. Pthom's ptroops seemed to be professionals, and he had a mortar, an armored truck, and a recoiless rifle. I never did quite figure the composition of Joel's force, while Dave and Joe seemed to have an almost identical mix of troops, all regulars.
Allen and I chewed each others forces to bits, noted hits being eight of Allens militia dying from a well placed recoiless rifle round, and four members of one of my squards dying from a well placed RPG round. Dave and Joe played Stalingrad in town, although Dave did abandon the direct assualt when three of his guys ran into the street on turn one, and two were killed by a recoiless rifle blast!
Joel delayed Pthom's troopers for the entire game, dying to a man. He did make a superb sniper shot, killing the driver of the armored truck.
My jeep moved out towards town to get another shot on Allen's immortal technical (his gunners, alas, all too mortal). My HMG gunner killed the technicals gunner, and then succumbed to a perfect storm of RPG, small arms and LMG fire from Dave (hiding in a little window in town, and just waiting for a juicy target).
Unknown to me, Pthom had been moving his mortar in a very steathly manner, and just before the end of the game he dropped a surprise mortat round in the midst of my last 4 heallhy troopers - then rolled no skulls for hits! Boy, but those guys dispersed on the next move!
At the end of the game, the rebel/merc side was deemed to have the advantage. While the UN troopers were solidly fortifed in town, there was very little left to support them. I had 2 squadlets of 3 men each, while both vehicles were wrecks. All of Joel's troops were dead. So, Pthom and his heavy artillery (mortar + recoiless rifle) could blast Joe out of town room by room, and Daves mercs would gun down any that tried to flee.
I had 3 BIG SURPRISE hits during the game: The first was Allen's militia RPG getting 4 of my squaddies in a blast and killing all four; The second was my jeep moving into a place where Dave could take a shot on them from town; And the biggest surprise was Pthom's mortar round from nowhere. In each case, I was concentrating on the battle in front of me, and not observing other places of danger. This is one of the more realistic aspects of the game. I think I inflicted 2 BIG SURPRISE hits - the RR shot into the woods that killed eight of Allen's militia, and the turn one RR shot that killed two of Daves troopers.
Joel ran a refight of the The Battle of Aboukir Bay, sometimes referred to as the Battle of the Nile, from the Napoleonic wars. This naval engagement had a slight twist, though: Instead of British attacking the French, it was the Dutch. Well...you see, we have a Dutch fleet and a French fleet, but no British one! Of course, having assembled and painted the 1:2400 scale Figurehead miniatures we used for the French, I can't say I blame the person who bought the British fleet for not finishing it! These were without a doubt the most "fiddly" modeling I've ever done in my decades long miniature wargaming career.
We used Form Line of Battle, version 2.0, rules. These are simple and easy to learn, but combat resolution requires a couple steps and some moderate mathematical gymnastics. Each player adds their current "rating" to a d6 roll, then one side's sum is subtracted from the other to come up with a line on a chart to roll 2d6 on. The steps could possibly flow easier, in my opinion, and I purchased version 3.0 awhile back, but had forgotten about it. After the game, I gave it to Joel to read over and hopefully discover the process has been streamlined! Doubtless, we'll find out the next time we pull the Age of Sail ships out and watch Admiral Tom "Watery" Graves burn to the waterline and explode, again...
Battle Lines, Dutch: Ptomas, Mike, JP
French: Joel, Allen, Keith
ALTERNATIVE HISTORY: The English lose the American Colonies, the madness of King GeorgeIII turns into the ENGLISH REVOLUTION. The revolution and reign of terror force the Royalist to flee to the continent. The Dutch reap most of the rewards of the Royal Navy, with the help of skilled diplomacy, the Dey of Algeria, the Kingdom of Naples establish a presence in the Western Mediterranean. The French make a grab for some of the jewels of the crown, that is Egypt.
The Dutch (Anglo) navy rounded the uncharted shoals of AbouKir Bay, with light winds out of the southwest, Admiral Ptomas (inventor of the flame retardant long-johns) is in the lead. The French squadrons cut and run....up the colors and prepare to fight! The vanguard of the French squadron, Guerrier/Conquerant, return fire on the Dutch Dolfijn/ Gouda. The initial exchange is even but Admiral JP closely followed Admiral Ptomas and the numbers wear the French down. Meanwhile, as the main French fleet makes for open waters, Admiral Mike turns to cross their bow and to prevent their escape.
The fighting is heavy, confusion of battle and the smoke from numerous fires makes it hard to see. To add to this confusion, the shot away masts fall to the side that the guns crews are working blocking their line of sight and shots. The French vanguard is driven onto an uncharted shoal by the accurate Dutch (Anglo) fire AND fallen masts. The French Flag ship Orient is able to slow, but not turn away the brave Admiral Mike, whose double shot was able to make the Franklin strike. All the while Rear Admiral Keith was picking off the damaged and bruised Dutch (Anglo) ships that lead the initial charge. As the battle draws to a close, all eyes turn to Admiral Ptomas as the fires that smoldered all battle are now out of controls and .....- PHOOOMMM! Game over.
Keith set up a massive Hordes of the Things battle based on the Battle of Five Armies from The Hobbit on a 5'x12' table. Tom pitched in with army arrival, deployment and victory conditions. Allen and Joel Sams, Steve Verdoliva and myself joined in as players pushing 16 armies worth of troops on the tabletop -- wow!
Check out the report on the carnage here!
So, Tom, feeling sorry for my poor Colonial Italians that I'd painted up for his VSF/Colonials system, designed a scenario so the oppressors of East Africa could take the field. The background behind the game was this: A Martian vehicle had crashed in Sicily, providing the Italians with a chance to salvage some advanced technology. Jealous of their fellow European powers, they located their research facility in their East African possessions. Their experiments attracted the attention of Martian scouts, who were promptly shot down by the Marconni Radio Cannon. Realizing they were discovered, an Italian field force was dispatched to secure the Research Facility, while simultaneously, the Martians sent a Mahdist force to capture it.
I'll let one of the participants describe the action:
An Italian Radio Cannon brought down the Martian S.S. Millennium Faulkner. A Martian/Mahdist Recon forces dispatched to investigate had a meeting engagement across the fast moving Dheep Dudu River, with severely restricted crossing points. The Sudanese forces, on the right flank (Dave), moved quickly to capture Cannon Hill, but the high frequency and highly accurate cannon fire (Joe) drove off all the natives, repeatedly. Meanwhile on the left flank (Ptomas) and the S.S. Faulkner were on the verge of being overrun by Eritrean Italian Askaris (Keith). Martian cannon fire slowed their advance enough to allow a fanatical tribal warband to maneuver onto a Italian flank. What followed goes down in tribal history as 'Their Finest Hour" (if they could tell time that is!). Hats off and a Martian Salute ('nnack 'nacKK!) to Ptomas for a job well done. Meanwhile the Martian center (Joel) command developed slowly due to indecision, formation changes and the river crossings. When the battle draws to an exhausted end, the New Sudanese Army "won" but too few survived to exploit the victory.
Thanks again Ptomas for running- Keith for letting us use the club house.
-- Joel Sams
ATC was a great time, as usual. Most of the gaming I did at the con was DBA Ancients, so you can read about it on the report on the GLADBAG website. I played my New Kingdom Egyptians in the Double Size and went 2-1, coming in second place in my bracket. Our only loss was to my nemesis in DBA the last few years, my buddy Steve Smith. My rolling for my chariot command was the worst I did the entire con, while his infantry command held up my attacking left wing allowing him to outlast me. Great fun, though, as usual.
In Saturday morning's ATC Open, I goofed up when I wrote my army's year for my New kingdom Egyptians. For some reason, I wrote "A.D." after my year of 1199, and neither I nor the GMs caught it till after the pairings were announced. So, rather than have them redo all the matchups, I pulled out an army with roughly the same year -- Epirote Byzantine -- that I had on hand as a loaner for the Emperor of Great Lakes tourney on Sunday. Fun army to play, so I must say it was a fortuitous mistake! Plus, I went 3-1 and came in, you guessed it, second place again! Mike the Bridesmaid...inconceivable!!!
On Sunday, I ran the Emperor of Great Lakes tournament, which went well. Everyone liked the markers I made for their kingdoms, and appreciated that they were also Barker Markers and they got to take them home. I did have one or two v-e-r-y slow players that forced me to cut the tourney from 4 rounds to 3. I'm contemplating a change in the format to perhaps remedy this...
ATC was about it for gaming, for me, for a few weeks. I have to work the following Sunday, and the next two Sundays after that I'll be on vacation in Egypt!
Joel staged another Modern Africa scenario using our Heroscape/AK-47 rules. As GM, Joel controlled the local police forces guarding a police station / local force compound. Allen, Keith and myself were cooperating but not necessarily friendly rebel forces whose goal was to raid the compound. There were political prisoners inside from our various factions, as well as a cache of weapons and various other supplies we needed. Allen took his usual all Militia force, augmented by a technical -- a jeep with a HMG to provide long range covering fire. Keith took the opposite -- one squad of professionals. I took a two squad force, with small arms and RPGs.
Allen opened the firefight at long range with the HMG, picking off defenders when they left their sandbagged positions. He also blew a hole in the barbed wire fence for his militia to pour through -- except the policmen upstairs in the 2-storey building gunned down any militia men who came close to the opening. Meanwhile, Keith and I worked towards the compound from the opposite side. Keith's professionals gunned down many of the policemen shifting positions to confront us, while a lucky RPG shot of mine blew a hole in the side of the building. Once all the policemen in our area were down, my two squads left the buildings from where we'd been shooting and raced for the opening.
I was first through and my militia squad gunned down the remaining defenders, darting to the basement to free our prisoners. We also looted the supplies, while Keith's clever professionals raced upstairs and found the cache of weapons. Allen's militia men were last through, and got the leftovers. It was a rousing rebel success, and we even maintained our cease fire as Keith and I had too good of loot to jeopardize it by turning on each other. Allen's losses were too heavy to be strong enough to challenge either of us for our spoils, so we darted back into the jungle to count our newly-won spoils. Meanwhile, Joel counted up the points to see who the winner was...and guess what? Keith's STILL winning...!
Tom Graves ran his eagerly anticipated Colonial Sci-Fi game at what is becoming our regular gathering spot, "Keith's Clubhouse." We had a great turnout -- six players and Tom as GM. Keith Finn, Joel Sams and I were the Sudanese defenders of a zariba (thorn fort) and village. Allen Sams, Dave Welch and Steve Verdoliva were the imperialistic British attackers. The scenario showcased Tom's new resin British gunboat and his scratch-built Arab dhow. Nice eye candy for the tabletop, though most of us felt they should be able to DO more...
It was a knock-down, drag them out fight, with the British overpowering the Sudanese. Our Martian weapons ended up outclassing and defeating their infernal machines (steam tank and Walker), but that was our only real success. In the most one-sided butt whupping that I've been a part of recently, Steve Verdoliva's elite British force handily thrashed my command. In Tom's game, you roll 2d6 vs. your shooting or melee factor. The less you roll under it, the more casualties you cause. Steve's dice rattled off "3's" and "4's" repeatedly against me, then after he'd wiped me from the board, marched on and started to chew up Joel's force. He capped his evening rolling back to back snake eyes against Joel! Even when Joel snatched his dice away -- forcing him to roll different ones -- Steve slaughtered him. In short, his elites fought like elites, while our tribesmen fought like...well, we had somewhere more interesting to be...off table...like now!
It was a great scenario, and really did come down to the end, as both sides had suffered greivous losses. Both commanders continued to pass their army morale checks to avoid quitting the field, so it dragged on to the bitter end (for the Sudanese). The British seized the ford, and was able to secure a crossing to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum.
I forgot to bring my camera, so sorry, no pictures! We gathered at Allen Sam's house to play a scenario using his Horse & Musket era in India "Mysore Men" rules and 15mm troops. Allen, Joel Sams and Steve Verdoliva were the native forces, while Keith Finn and I played the British. Here's Joel's brief recap of the action:
Well, we had 'em three generals to two. So, we should of had more pips to move our troops with, BUT elephants took two pips to move, and we had more than enough of those. So...the battle went kinda like this. The C-n-C (Allen) was rash and lead by example charging in the center with elephants and levy spear. We (Steve & me) on the flanks watched and took careful notes.
The British (Mike & Keith) defeated the charges, piece by piece,
and turned to face us. The French allies took some of the British down,
and one really angry warband chased Gen. ChickenMahan all over the battlefield.
Final score 10 to 7 British victory....so Mikes winning!
Most of us the Sunday night crowd made it out to the annual BBDBA gathering. We had an amazing turnout of 28 players, this year. Tom Graves was the only one who did decent of the Sunday night crowd, coming in third with his Graeco-Bactrians and going 2-1. Keith Finn went 1-2 in the same bracket with his Philistine with Canaanite allies. Dave Welch went 1-2 also with Later Imperial Romans, and Joe Merz was 1-2 with Han Chinese. Steve Verdoliva, Allen Sams and I were all in the Later Bracket, none of us faring too well. Steve went 1-2 with Early Crusader, Allen was 0-3 with Later Hungarians, and I was 1-2 with Picts. My Picts insist on pointing out that it was pretty much do to *my* atrocious die rolling (except against Allen, who rolled even worse!) that we lost those two games. On the other hand, I blame it on their poor fighting ability...as you all know my motto: "I'm only the general!"
Of course, just to show you what "the guys" know, my girlfriend Jenny went 3-0 in the Later Bracket including a drubbing of my Picts. I got revenge, though, and scored enough points against her to prevent her from winning the Later Bracket. I'm sure there's payback for THAT one looming on the horizon....
Check out the tourney report here.
"Big Wheels" = chariots, and this was BIG: 12 armies of 1/72 scale plastic DBA troops on one table!
I am the whisper behind the throne so it was only right that I was given the honor of supporting the CinC's left flank. The battle took place on the sun scorched desert plain. My troops, Nubian and Trojans, crested a hillock and saw THE Oasis. The smell of water, the sight of date palms was too much for the psiloi to ignore so I let they moved fast to take the oasis (Hell, I could not have stopped them!). I surmised they were successful when they didn't show for hours as we slowly, methodically moved up, spear/blades on my left, bow/warband on my right. Finally, a runners reported back that indeed my psiloi held the oasis, but enemy spear were threatening their position. Meanwhile reports from the farfar left flank (Mike & Keith) were as confusing as the many foreign tongues they were told in, and the CinC ordered two of my units to support his camp. I moved the two units out of the hills toward my CinC. Meanwhile my spear/blade advanced into combat, as a few bloody Nubian psiloi emerged from the oasis, defeat was their worry.
Warbands forward was my reply and it was good. Nubian warband chants could be heard above the battle hacks. The oasis again secured and I was able to answer my CinC "Yes.. I have the oasis" as the dusk settled on our sun dried enemies, a little sooner.
Allow me to expand on Joel and Keith's battle reports. First: We were playing a big battle DBA-like scenario. Each player had two armies of 12 elements. When one of the armies lost 4 stands, it was considered broken. When an army is broken, all elements fight at a -2 and can stay on the battlefield for a cost of 1 pip, otherwise they flee toward the edge of the map. All units that flee off of the edge of the map are considered casualties for the purposes of determining the total losses for a side.
Second: This was my first introduction to big battle DBA, and naturally, when it came time to randomly determine who the CinC was, it ended up being me. Tom was the other CinC. We split Joel and Allen up and I chose Mike for our third at the urging of Joel, and based on my extensive experience of having my butt handed to me by Mike in prior DBA engagements ;)
The map was in three sections. From my perspective, the left section had dunes, the center had an oasis (the overall objective of the scenario was to hold the oasis) and the right section had a couple of gentle hills with a little patch of rough in the center. We put Mike, with his camel armies, on our left; Joel with his bad going armies in the center and I was left with the right flank.
Across from us were Keith, with this camel armies, opposite Mike, Allen across from Joel and Tom across from me.
Due to the way the roads were setup, I started out being concerned that Tom might try something tricky and use road movement to surprise Joel's right flank. I was also informed that if my CinC unit (a litter) was destroyed, it would be BAD. Never having played DBA with multiple commands, I didn't appreciate how having a high pip command and a low pip command affected the way you need to manage those armies. Thus I setup with my CinC army on my left (all foot) and my non-CinC army on my right (the entire side's right), with 1/3 cav, 1/3 bow, 3 blade and 1 psiloi. I gave myself the objectives of keeping Tom from running down the road to attack Joel's flank and to keep my CinC alive.
I was needlessly worried about Tom going after Joel as he was hungrily looking at my commands setup in column and saw an opportunity. In retrospect, I should have setup my low pip command in line and saved any fancy column to line maneuvering for my high pip command, but we learn by making mistakes. Tom, with his Cav, Aux, Psi forces had a clear advantage over me in speed, so we fought on my side of the board. Seeing the problem with my setup early on, I moved my right-flank command over to support my CinC, and gave Tom an opportunity on my extreme right flank, which he took advantage of. In addition, I couldn't get all of my bow in line, due to the extremely low pips of my low pip command, so Tom rushed my line with his Cav, Aux and Psiloi (which I discovered can't be destroyed in a toe to toe fight with blade). Right as Tom's forces approached, I got a lucky bow shot in on his center element of cav, destroying it. This turned out to be the pivotal moment of the fight on my left as Tom was forced into some fancy maneuvering, which in turn allowed me to get more bow up into line. I managed to continue my luck and broke Tom's right-flank. He returned the favor on my right-flank by annihilating my 4 bow which were anchoring the end of my line.
At this point I discovered something interesting about big battle DBA. When your high pip command is broken, as long as it's not separated in too many pieces, it's possible to create an obstacle course for the enemy to have to either dodge through or hack through since your commands don't have to flee as long as you have the pips to keep them in place. This is what happened in our fight and it forced Tom to break up his army in order to get it back into the fight. This situation, combined with some extraordinarily low pip rolls on Tom's part, kept his CinC from engaging any of my CinC's troops for the rest of the battle.
Seeing Tom's flank start to flee, Allen sent in his left-flank cav, which included his commander, against my CinC. My already low pips, because my CinC was my low pip army, combined with the fact that they were all foot troops, kept me from fully forming my army against Allen's assault. Allen astutely targeted my left flank and destroyed a Psiloi. He was poised to begin rolling my flank when Joel stepped in an destroyed Allen's flaking cav with a bow shot. This turned the tide tide for me and I was able to kill two more cav, one of them was Allen's general, while Joel killed a couple more stands from the same army to break the command.
At this point I was done fighting as my active command and Tom's were too far away from each other to engage before the overall engagement was decided in the center. It was looking bleak in the center, at first. At one point, I looked over at Allen's section of the table and asked Joel "Have you killed any units yet?". Joel made a big show of carefully examining Allen's side of the table and answered "no". Both of Joel's commands were 1 2 stands away from breaking at that point, but he came back to break both of Allen's commands. This lead me to contend that my superior skills as a motivator made the critical difference in the overall engagement. Yes, that claim sounded much more plausible last night after my fourth beer ;)
I think Mike and Keith had the most interesting fight. I'm not clear on exactly what happened, but I gather some Psiloi were kicking butt and both Mike and Keith had their high-pip commands broken. Mike, early on, came up with a companion phrase to "Never fight a land war in Asia" which was (if I remember it correctly) "Never roll dice against Keith in his basement!"
Sorry for the long message. I've been writing documentation today at work, so I'm "in the groove".