Monday, May 1, 2017

CONGO - First game

I clearly remember when Foundry announced its Darkest Africa range about 20 years ago.  Beautiful Mark Copplestone sculpts, on what was at the time a unique subject (and still there are not many alternatives to Foundry).  Foundry Darkest Africa

I wasn't aware of Chris Peers' rules that were written to accompany the range, but the figures were so cool, I actually bought a few dozen askari to use in my Warhammer Empire army!!  (Weird, I know.).  But being focused on other games, I left it at that.

Years later, I traded those figures away, along with the rest of my Warhammer stuff.  But I never forgot about the Darkest Africa range, which in my opinion may be Mr.Copplestone's opus magnum (which is saying something).

Fast-forward to last year, and Studio Tomahawk came out with Congo, a skirmish game about the 19th century exploration of Africa.  Think Henry Morton Stanley, saying, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

Congo has a pretty low-figure count, 25 to 50 figures being typical.  And Studio Tomahawk's rules are right up my alley.  Fast, simple, but tactically interesting.  So I jumped in, and picked up some of those Darkest Africa figures I'd admired for so long.

After a few months of painting figures and terrain, I met up with Adam and Pete for a first couple games.  I brought my newly painted Zanzibari column, and Adam had his Explorer column.  Pete provided a willingness to learn new rules, and a capacity for snarky comments. 

First up was the Last Queen of Aksum.  In this Adventure, an Explorer Column has recovered an ancient artifact.  While marching back to the cost, its encampment is attacked by Zanzibaris, eager to seize the treasure for themselves. 

The Explorers designate one group as carrying the treasure, and their objective is to get it off-board.  The Zanzibaris don't know which group is carrying, but can learn via clues during the game. 

My Ruga-Ruga moved in from the left, while Tippu-Tib leads Baluchi musketmen from the south. 

The Ruga-Ruga crept through a stand of trees, and opened fire on the camp.  Some of the Explorer's Trained Askaris dashed from the opposite side of the camp.

But they were then decimated by accurate shooting from the Baluchis' jezzails.

At some point, I worked out that the Explorers had entrusted the treasure to their loyal Kirangozi (in the group at the left, with a red Panic token).  So the Baluchis hoofed it back to the left, to intercept the treasure.

But the Baluchis, with thier slower-firing jezzails and swords & shields, were no match for for three groups of askaris with modern rifles.  They were soon demoralized, routing off the board.

The Explorers were inches away from victory...when a sleeping lion woke up, and attacked the Kiranzogi!

The lion proceeded kill the Kirangozi, and his comrades fled... leaving the treasure of Aksum to be scooped up by the Ruga-Ruga.

Technically the Zanzibaris won at this point.  But I suspect the Ruga-Ruga then legged it, and kept the treasure for themselves.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

De Bellis Antiquitatis and Hordes of the Things

Austin LHSM members and friends gathered at Dragon’s Lair on March 25th for an introduction to De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) and Hordes of the Things (HotT).  I provided the armies and terrain.

We had a total of eight players, a good turnout for a week night, ranging in age from 6 to Grognard.  Most players were either new to DBx, or were being re-introduced to it after a hiatus.  After a very quick explanation of movement and combat, the games began.

Although DBA has a long tradition of time-travelling match-ups, for this event we had four historical pairings:

·         Seleucids versus Parthians

·         Early Germans versus Early Imperial Romans

·         Burgundian Ordonnance versus Later Swiss

·         Noldor Elves versus Orcs of the White Hand

(Okay, that last one is not quite historical; the Noldor date to the First Age of Middle Earth, not the Third).

Without further ado, here are some pictures:

Seleucids versus Parthians

Light horse skirmishing on the wings

Early Germans versus Early Imperial Romans

Hairy Dudes…people should know when they are conquered

Will the center hold?

It did not…

Round Two: The Germans’ flank is turned

Burgundian Ordonnance versus Later Swiss


Swiss mustering---who’s in charge here?

The Swiss Keil strikes!  (True to history, the Burgundians broke in two turns)


Noldor Elves versus Orcs of the White Hand

Elven knights charge home!

Hopefully this will be the start of more regular DBA and HOTT gaming in Austin.  As always, thanks are due to Pete for helping organize our games, and to Dragon’s Lair for hosting.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Frostgrave: First Game

After much anticipation, and many hours painting and assembling terrain, Joseph and I finally played Frostgrave for the first time on Saturday.  It did not disappoint.  We played the basic scenario (6 treasure counters, winner is the player who carries away the most treasure). 

I fielded my Elementalist warband.  The wizard Aethelstan and apprentice Eomund are finished, but the soldiers are still only base-coated, and need some highlighting and shading.  The soldiers are a mix of three Archers, and three Infantrymen. This was not an optimal starting warband for Frostgrave, but a small, relatively homogenous force of professional troops fits the concept I have for my warband, which I'll explain in another post.   Also, Joseph kindly agreed to a house rule whereby Infantrymen can optionally be equipped with hand weapon & shield in lieu of the standard two-handed weapon.

Joseph brought his Necromancer and apprentice.  They were supported by a mix of Viking and medieval figures from his SAGA warbands, namely a tracker, archer, thief, two soldiers, and two thugs.

We rolled out-of-game spells before starting, which resulted in Joseph picking up a Snow Leopard animal companion to add to his warband, while my wizard, Aethelstan, conjured up a Familiar.  We then each placed three treasure tokens, chose sides, and set up.

Here's the table at the start.  The board itself is Secret Weapon's Forgotten City terrain.  The buildings are a mix of Battlefield in a Box, Reaper Bones, Infinite Crypt, and a few other odds & ends, including an aquarium ornament. 

From the Necromancer's side.  The Necromancer and some minions are just out of sight on the right.  The Necromancer's apprentice and other minions are on the left.

Aethelstan and three of his troops moved up on the right.  Two of the treasure tokens can be seen on top of the buildings to either side.  The evil apprentice cast Bone Dart at the lead soldier, but luckily missed his target.

A turn later.  One of my archers took up a covered firing position on the right, with a treasure near at hand.  My three Infantrymen converged on the ruined tower in the center, and two men began scaling the partially ruined stairs to recover a magic staff and grimoire at the top.  Aethelstan fell back to the ruined terrace, which he would use for the rest of the game as a vantage point from which to launch spells.  My apprentice, Eomund, moved up on the left, and successfully cast Fleet Feet on one of the soldiers climbing the stairs.  In the center and on the terrace, two archers took hasty shots one of Joseph's minions, but both missed.

Aethelstan, from the vantage point of the terrace, drew a bead on the apprentice Necromancer, who was attempting to cross the open ground to reach my Archer in the tall corner ruin.  Chanting arcane words of power, balefire leapt from Aethelstan's outstretched hand, striking down the dark apprentice (Aethelstan successfully case Elemental Bolt, and rolled a 20...).  Aethelstan's familiar, a sinister little figure in dark robes, nodded approvingly.

Meanwhile, Jacob's snow leopard darted forward on the left, and in a single long leap, jumped over a low line of fallen stones, straight into contact with Apprentice Eomund.  Eomund drove the snarling beast away, and fell back to the left-hand edge of the board.   Eomund then cast Elemental Shield on himself, anticipating he would not escape easily from the swifter beast.

Sure enough, the Leopard charged again in the next turn.  We both rolled high, and tied, resulting in damage to both the Snow Leopard and Eomund--but most of his damage was absorbed by the Elemental Shield.

The Necromancer cast Leap on one of her minions, catapulting an enemy soldier directly behind poor Eomund.

Evading arrow shots from Joseph's tracker, two of my soldiers successfully claimed the ruined tower, retrieving the grimoire and staff.  Joseph's Necromancer and tracker moved up to intercept them.  One went down in a hail of Bone Darts and arrows, dropping the staff.  My third soldier scooped up a pile of coins in front of the terrace, and escaped off the board.

Rather than wait to face two foes at once, Eomund then attacked the Snow Leopard...and struck it down.  Alas, the enemy soldier then surprised him from behind, knocking the valiant apprentice senseless. 

At it happened a wandering skeleton then attacked the soldier, but after fencing for a turn, he easily defeated this minor undead.

Far off on the right, Joseph's thug scaled the corner ruin, dodging a couple arrows from my Archer, and then easily defeating the hapless man.  The thug then seized the magic potion treasure and escaped off-board.

While this was going on, Joseph's thief had recovered a magic ring, and his archer found a treasure chest.  Both treasures were spirited off-board, Aethelstan being powerless to stop them.  Aethelstan did manage to blast a soldier with Elemental Bolt though.

My Archer at the base of the terrace scooped up the dropped staff, and began to leg it.

Joseph's Necromancer, tracker, and a soldier, all converged on the base of the terrace, hoping to seize the staff.

However, it was not to be.  Aethelstan blasted the Necromancer with yet another Elemental Bolt and the Archer on the terrace shot down the charging soldier, allowing my two treasure carriers to escape with the grimoire and staff, ending the game with a 3-3 tie.

Post-game, we learned that Eomund had in fact killed the poor Snow Leopard.  Both sides had one soldier wounded, meaning each would miss the next game.  We finally rolled for injuries for the spell casters.  Both apprentices made full recoveries.  Joseph rolled for his Necromancer . . . a "2"!  The evil sorceress had been slain by balefire!  I then told Joseph to re-roll, and the Necromancer made a full recovery.

Aethelstan gained three levels, and the Necromancer advanced to level 2.  We both picked up 200+ gold, and an assortment of grimoires.  I still haven't decided how to spend my new loot, but will do so before the next game.

We both really enjoyed this first game of Frostgrave.  The rules were so simple, we were able to play with only minimal looks at the rulebook, even for a first game.  I like the combat system, which adjudicates who is hit, whether armor saves the target, and the amount of damage, all in a single opposed die roll.  It is very clever, and I think will make this game go very quickly once we've gotten a little more practice with it. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

SAGA: The Confrontation

My Anglo-Danes faced Dave's Vikings for The Confrontation scenario in our SAGA league. 

In this scenario, the two Warlords have met, confirmed they still don't like each other, and following an exchange of insults, the inevitable occurs.  The set up reflects this, with two Warlords starting close to each other at the center of the table, while the Warbands hang back a respectful distance.  The goal is to score the most hits on the opposing Warlord; if a player has a score that is ten points higher than his opponent at the end of a round, he wins.  Otherwise, the winner is whoever has the highest score after six rounds.  Significantly, the Warlords can only be attacked by each other, except that lesser troops can attack a Warlord who is ahead in points.
I got the first turn, but had a poor roll of the SAGA dice (no helmets, even after using Noble Lineage to re-roll my dice, leaving me with a mix of four Horses and Axes).  I decided not to activate my Warlord, because in his Pride, he would have no choice but to charge the Viking leader if I did so.  Instead, I moved up his loyal Huscarls to help.

In good Viking fashion, Dave's Warlord struck the first blow, landing two hits on my Warlord.  Score: Dave 2, Me 0.

Having counted coup, the Viking Warlord fell back.  His four Berserkers moved up in support.

Enraged by the affront to their lord, my Huscarls charged, chastising the pagan with ten hits. The mighty Viking shrugged of the first hit (Resilience), and three of his loyal berserkers sacrificed themselves, but he still absorbed a net of six hits.  Score: 6-2 for the Anglo-Danes,

Dave is great at playing in character, and his sole Berserker, ignoring the odds, went after my Huscarls.  He died.

However, Dave's Hearthguard had better luck, slaying eight Huscarls for a loss of six of their own.  Both groups fell back to their respective lines.

Dave and I both rested our troops during the following round...

I moved my Levy archers to harass Dave's left wing.

The Levy shot down three Warriors, then fell back out of easy charge range.

Noticing that the turn limit was almost up, Dave sent four Hearthguard to attack the center of the Anglo-Danish formation.  They eliminated three Huscarls for a loss of one.

My twelve-man Warrior unit charged them in the flank, but scored no hits, and ignominiously fell back, having lost a man.  On the last turn, the Vikings then closed and in quick succession wiped out my smaller, four-man Warrior unit, and finished off the last Huscarl, losing one man in the process.  Dave was in striking distance of my Warlord...but had no more SAGA dice to activate with!

Final Score: 6-2 for the Anglo-Danes.

Friday, October 3, 2014

SAGA: Sacred ground battle against Norse-Gaels

In the latest round of the SAGA league, my Anglo-Danes took on Matt's Norse-Gaels.  It was a chance for payback after the havoc these guys wreaked on Sunday, when five Dane-Axe wielding maniacs brought down nine of my warriors, dooming me effort to defeat Dave's Vikings.

The scenario was "Sacred Ground," which awards victory points for holding the terrain features in the center of the table, in this case two hills and a wood.  

My plan was to plant my Huscarls on the left-hand hill, and then use my levy and warriors to contest the center hill.  I decided to concede the woods, since my archers would be ineffective there.
I got the first turn, and rushed my Huscarls to take the left-hand hill.
My Warlord and big unit of twelve Warriors seized the middle hill on the second turn... looking good!

Unfortunately, Matt's Warlord and Hearthguard promptly swept my Warriors off the center hill, and then took out my Warlord.  This battle was off to rough start.

However, my archers then brought down three of the Hearthguard, and my warriors rallied to finish them off.

Over on the left, my Huscarls were camped out on the other hill for two whole turns, which allowed me to rack up twenty-four victory points.  Matt threw a unit of twelve Warriors at them, amped up with the usual array of nefarious Norse-Gael SAGA abilities.  I took a chance and had the Huscarls fight back aggressively, rather than focusing on defense (which is to say, they rolled all 24 attach dice, rather than converting half their attacks to defense dice).
The Result: Twelve Warriors and nine Huscarls down, in a single round of combat.  The hill was dubbed "The Hill of Slaughter" for the rest of the game...

Back in the center, a back-and-forth struggle ensued between my Warriors, and Matt's forces.

I wiped out one unit of warriors . . . but more were lurking in the background.

More Norse-Gaels attempted to take the Hill of Slaughter, but were repulsed by the Huscarls, for the loss of another veteran fighter.

In the center, my Warriors were overwhelmed by a combined charge from the Norse-Gael Warlord and his henchmen--but one doughty Warrior escaped, thanks to some miraculous saving throws.

The archers moved up to take their turn on the Hill of Slaughter, and assisted the Huscarls in wiping out the left-most unit of Norse-Gaels.

The archers soon learned why the left-hand hill had earned such an ominous name, as eleven of them were cut down by the rampaging pagan Warlord and his Dane-Axe wielding lackeys.  In the background, you can see where Matt was busily painting reinforcements during my turns...

While Matt was finishing off the defenders on the Hill of Slaughter, my reserve unit of Warriors, and a last survivor from the first Warrior unit, re-occupied the central hill.
The raging Warlord ran back to the central hill, easily defeating the lone Warrior--but by then, he was exhausted (hence the four red fatigue tokens), and his enfeebled efforts against the reserve warriors were for nought.

Eight rounds having passed, the game was over.  Those four dudes were my last survivors, out of a once-mighty warband of forty-one men.  However, the final score was 41-23 in favor of the Anglo-Danes, because in all hurly-burly, I managed to keep more figures on the hills than the pagans did.  Godemitte!!!

Still shamefully lurking in the background was another unit of Norse-Gael Warriors.  If they had moved up earlier, they could have occupied the empty woods, which would have resulted in a closer score... but thankfully they never stirred.  There will be no place in Valhalla for those laggards!

I'm now 3-1 in our League, and looking forward to taking revenge on Dave next week...