Sunday, 21 August 2016

Small Scale Warfare or Mastering Warmaster

The Hamilton Road Games Group of London, ON was pretty sparse on Saturday. A number of the "usual suspects" had gone to Hamilton, ON to a games day/Mini-con called Broadsword II. (I might have gone but since I'm on my holiday, I wanted to spend the day at or near home.) Some others had tickets to the CFL game in Hamilton, while others had other things that took up their attention. So, Beth, our son, Rob, and I went to the library with all of our Warmaster figures, rules, terrain, and necessaries. Derek joined us there and another fellow named Matt came and watched.

If you've read my blog before, you know I'm rather sold on GW's Warmaster game. I think it's the best game GW ever produced; of course, it is no longer supported by the company. That might be good since they can't mess with it anymore. (As it's said "Those who stir the pot should have to lick the spoon.") It's a large scale game using small scale figures (10mm) written years ago by Rick Priestly set in the Warhammer world. I feel it is the grandfather to Warlord Games' Black Powder, Pike & Shotte, and Hail Caesar, all of which Priestly had a large hand in. The mechanics are very similar and in that, it probably pioneered the style of gaming used in those more contemporary games. The figures we use are mostly GW's old Warmaster range, with some additions from GW's Battle of Five Armies box set, Pendrakon miniatures, Minifigs, and some other unknown ranges.

(Photos were taken on Beth's camera by Beth, Matt, and myself, and by Beth's phone camera.)

Beth and Rob started first, Beth's Kislevites vs. Orcs fielded by Rob. He usually plays Dwarfs, but he wanted to try the Orcs since he'd never played them and since this was the first time the army would be fielded. He learned that you can't use Dwarfish tactics with Orcs, i.e. large columns of warriors covered by cheap forces out front don't work when you shield Orc warriors with Black Orcs. (He usually sets up two columns of warriors with a line of Troll Slayers in front to soak up missile weapons... since the Troll Slayers actually WANT to die!) It was a tough game, but Beth eventually took out the Orc general and that ended the game.

The Kislevite general - the Tsarina herself  in her bear chariot.
This is scratchbuilt from an Elven chariot and bears from the Kislevite army.
There's also a hero mounted on a bear and the War Wagon.
Winged Lancers ("knights") of the Kislevites with some horse archers in the near foreground.
Orcs! Boar riders, and two units of wolf riders (goblin light cavalry)
The dice show the "starting line" for deployment.
Boar riders and goblin archers on the far left of the army
Goblin wolf riders -- plastic figures from the Battle of Five Armies set
Orc Warriors with their Black Orc screen - a tactic that didn't work.
Wolf riders and an Orc Rock Lobber with a troll doing the heavy lifting.
My daughter calls this the "Rock Lobster" and dances and sings when she talks about it.
Kislevite archers.  They always bring their own snow to the battles.
Black Orcs vs. Winged Lancers. The dice on the table keep track of casualties.
Oops! Wolf Riders mouse-trapped between lancers, War Wagon, and bears.
"Can we get out of here, Ugluck?" "Dunno, Erfer, ye stoopid git!"
And the hero and his bear mount add more hits to the melee.
Because we couldn't fine the Orc giant figure, we used an ugly gargoyle to fill it.
Here he opposes some horse archers.
Again the Orc command was misplaced, so the general and the shaman were represented by Chaos chariots.
They worked.
When Derek arrived, he and I faced off - Dwarfs vs. Empire. We didn't use the "command rules" written in the rules, but we had to roll every turn for special happenings for his Flame Cannon, and my Steam Tank. Rob had to do the same for his giant, who could go nuts and stomp on things uncontrollably... but didn't. (There are fewer photos of this since I was playing the game, thank you very much!)

Dwarf Handgunners volley against one of my Halbredier regiments including a stand of skirmishers.
Empire cannons busily doing their destructive work.
The Empire steam tank -- one of my favourite models.
(I painted the bulk of the figures used. Beth painted the rest.)
Dwarven Gyrocopter -- the Flying Annoyance
An excellent model.
Dwarven Troll Slayers
Two of my Pistolier regiments kept evading them and then running up and shooting at them.
Once again, we couldn't find the Empire general on his Griffin,
so a Dragon Rider from Katie's Elves pinch-hit.
Empire halbrediers and knights have driven back the Dwarven Flame Cannon
which belched nasty fire at these blue knights and took out a stand.
Hmmmm. Now the Flame Cannon is gone.
In the end, after a hard fought battle, Derek took the victory on points at the curfew. (Rob had to go to work.) I wiped out his Troll Slayers, but HE gets the victory points for that... since they WANT to die. He also wiped out two of my crossbow regiments. It was a good game on a crowed field. I didn't take any photos of the board but my side was choked with small forests and a small river cut down the flank by a quarter of the field. Both Derek and I agreed that it was not an easy battle and we will probably do this again.

Smaug goes out for a snack! Take-out Orc!
I just finished this model from the Battle of Fire Armies set and Beth and I wanted to show it off,
It was a very interesting model to paint up and it is a bit hard to balance on a soft surface,
but it is a worthy impression of the "Greatest of all Calamities!"
Smaug  banks in for a better look. He was just for display... this time,
"The part of the Orc Army's Giant was played by Gregory the Gargoyle! Let's give him a hand!"
One never knows what will turn up at the Library.
From Beth's Pokemon Go! viewer,
Rob ignores JigglyPuff as he puts things away.
Please note the bridge over the river; it started life as a holder in a package of Christmas tree lights!
The Winged Lancers prepare to charge.
My Pistoliers finally charged the Troll Slayers and wiped them out. It wasn't easy.
Rob looks over the Chaos army.
The Shape of Things to Come? Who knows?
With Chaos, the accent is on "Things."
Thanks for reading.

Monday, 15 August 2016

SAGA-palooza

 That's such a horrible title for what went on last Saturday at the Hamilton Road Games Group in London, ON. That was not the title chosen by the organizer, but I needed to get your attention. For those who don't know, SAGA is a dark ages/Crusade-era skirmish game that pits various "factions" against each other in small battles. It started as a Viking-era game that branched out into the Norman Conquest of Saxon England, the Viking influence in what is now Russia, and finally the Crusade period as it's know in the West.

(Photos courtesy of Andy and my cell phone.)

At Andy's invitation, 8 players came together to play SAGA. (More were invited but could not make the event.) A few others came a played a WWII game under Wayne's watchful eye. Here were the SAGA factions represented:
           Matt                                  Anglo-Danes
           Tom                                  Normans
           Derek                                Normans
           George                             Milites Christi
           Martin                              Pagan Rus
           Ralph                               Welsh
           Duane                               Mutataw'wai
           Your humble Blogger       Irish
Andy was gamesmaster/cat-herder/time-keeper. Kevin, Bear, Tyler (and his son, Thomas), and Wayne were at another table playing a WWII tank game.

The SAGA tourney was to be won on points. Each scenario includes victory conditions and there are point values for any casualties from the opponent's hearthguard, warriors, levy, or warlord. Extra points were awarded if your entire army was painted and if you brought all the items needed to play the game (rules, measuring sticks, fatigue markers, etc.)

We were more-or-less randomly matched up and I faced Tom in the first match, using the "Kill the Warlord" scenario. The goal is simple: kill the opponent's warlord.

Tom moves some of his mounted hearthguard up.
The movement continues. Matt and Martin hack at each other in the background.
Norman knights, mounted sergeants, and foot sergeants with crossbows face down my scattered
kern (levy) and Fianna (hearthguard). My entire army is armed with javelins except for one unit.
Tom's bow-armed levy and his cavalry again.
Here you can see my bonnachts (warriors) armed with the Danish axe.
The Irish warband is very lightly armoured and the axemen are even more vulnerable.
They do pack quite a punch in hand-to-hand combat.
My Warlord and his closest unit of Fianna (hearthguard).
Tom points out his warlord.
Tom's foot sergeants face off against my warriors. Both units have fought and taken casualties.
The accumulated fatigue markers are laid behind the units.
My one unit without javelins.
The Irish are permitted to replace one unit of warriors with a unit of wardogs and a handler.
They move as cavalry and ignore all terrain restrictions, except for totally impassable terrain.
There were not well used in either game, but they seem to confuse my opponents.
Well, Tom killed my warlord very late in the game - probably turn 5 out of 6. It was a hard fought game and my javelin armed levy did much better than I expected. It's hard for fighters in their underwear to fight armoured cavalry on equal terms. It was a hard-fought game and a very clean one. I have to say that there were not any of the usual arguments that often happen on the wargames table. Everybody came to play and not necessarily to win at all costs.

In the second game, we all changed opponents and played the same scenario. I faced George and his Milites Christi (Knightly Orders) warband - a faction that does not field levy! Again I was faced with a mass of cavalry. I did the best I could.

I have no idea what I was reaching for.
George's foot warriors/sergeants emerge from the woods.
Crossbow armed foot warriors, knights, and mounted sergeants.
No levy at alll
More mounted sergeants on the other side of the line.
Knight vs. bonnachts - If I recall, I gave them a bloody nose, but got hurt too.
George's mounted warriors from Conquest Miniatures.
They look ghostly here, but I believe they'll be choice when fully painted.
I surprised myself in this game. I actually killed George's warlord toward the end of the game. A warlord can take two hits before they're out, and somehow I dealt three in one turn. So I got the points for this in another hard-fought game.

The third "heat" was four players in a scenario called "Feast of Crows", which is basically a four-sided free-for-all. George, Tom, Ralph (Welsh) and I hammered each other for 6 turns. We didn't bother with any type of negotiation or allies; everybody was fair game. I tried to use my special ability of being able to missile attack an enemy unit within 4" of rough terrain even though I have no figures in that terrain! I suppose it's leprechauns or the Sidhe or something like that, but it's fun. We hacked at each other for 6 turns and George came out on top, primarily because his warlord survived. Tom and Ralph often asked me to deploy Shawnessy and the boyos against George and I did what I could. Again the javelin armed figures did better than I expected.

The match-up for "The Feast of Crows"
Here we are with Bear observing.
It poured rain outside, so much so that the storm sewers backed up into the parking lot and the men's room.
I'm making some vital move, but no one cares! 
Each faction starts in a corner of a 4"x 4" field and we take it from there.
Tom's mounted and foot sergeants face my warband.
My Fianna and Bonnachts follow up the kern as we attack Tom's crossbows.
The wardogs hold their position and more levy come up.
George's crusading order troops race toward Ralph and demonstrate toward my Gaels.
In the end, the ultimate winners were announced at supper at a local eating place. Tom was second place, and Martin took first place with his Pagan Rus. He was Crouch King! (We play at the Crouch Branch of the London Library.)

Vive l'Roi!
He'll never wear that crown again, I bet!
I was named "jester" since I finished dead last in points. Such is life.