Monday, April 3, 2017

Murdock's 100 day campaign: Battle for Yvoire

I managed to meet up with David (Murdock's Mauraders) to resolve one of the battles generated in his 100 days campaign. It's day three of the french offensive, and they are seeking to drive across the Boeq river at the crossing by Yvoire. A division of Prussians are defending the town.

The evening before the french had arrived South of the crossing, so both sides are well aware that the other is there. Piquets and out riders report there are french cavalry approaching from the East, already on the North side of the river.  As dawn cracks, the french begin their assault. 

The rules used were fast play grand armee (available for free). Each base is a brigade sized formation. The figures on the base represent the strength points, and are removed/knocked down as the unit takes damage. Commanders randomly generate 'command dice' which are used to keep your commanders doing as you wish, rather than taking a withdraw/hold/attack posture (usually at the worst time). Turns are random number of pulses (up to 4), so you need to parcel out the command dice steadily, as longer turns can create issues for command as the control runs thin.

Early morning sees the french advance their guns to the river line, and sustained musketry  and a charge remove the first prussian defender. The cavalry on in the East are identified as the imperial guard heavy cav. Worst yet, Napoleon has appeared! He obviously believes this is an important engagement.

Late morning sees a see-saw battle for the ford. Each force that takes the crossing is disorganized and an easy victim for follow up assaults from following elements. The french take some extra losses as fleeing troops retreat through the formations behind them inspiring troops to flee as well.

The heavy cavalry hasn't had a crushing victory, damaging but not destroying the light cav facing them. They will suffer a counterstrike from the prussians inflicting a tough attritional battle.

As the sun hits its zenith, Napoleon receives ADC's arriving on the field with fresh messages. He looks at them, stares at the battlefield between narrowed eyes, and hands command back to the local commander. Taking his bodyguard he gallops back East, heading towards a more pressing engagement.

 The prussians troops are running thin. The commander focuses his efforts on inflicting casualties on the Heavy Cavalry while buying time at the crossing. 

The battle drags on to the late afternoon, but it has been obvious the outcome for some time. The french cavalry seize the crossing to the west and lurk in the north.

At last the Prussians break, and take a modest amount of damage in the pursuit. It's unlikely whether the survivors have any viable path to escape. The Prussians have definitively placed Napoleon Bonaparte, perhaps giving some indication of his master plan. But where has captured his attention such that he has left the battle at noon. Where will the Corsican ogre strike next?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Napoleon's Battles: First game Ru/Au vs It/Sax

Nate has gotten a fire in his belly to play some Napoleon's Battles. He has been steadily working on Austrians and Russians and, at last, we had enough troops to have a go at it (borrowing some italians and saxons as opposing forces). The scenario is that the allied Saxons and Italians are covering the retreat of the French army over a river after fierce fighting at leipzeig. The Russians and Austrians are trying to cut off this route of retreat.

 The Russians are on the right of the photos, the allied contigents on the left. Bottom left is my command (the Italians). We had 2 corp per side, with about 5 divisions total per side (ish).

We were learning as we went (except for the clever Nate who has played before, and is just rusty) so we did some silly things.
 The italians decided that offensive is a great form of defense and pressed forward to try and crack the Russians. They foolishly ran their light cavalry in front of the heavy (I think to soak up firing hits).

The Saxons turtled up on the left but, despite facing cavalry, chose not to form a bunch of squares.

Command ranges are pretty short in NB's, and once troops are out of range they can't do anything. If leaders are out of the chain of command they have a 50% chance of doing nothing, and 50% chance of half moves. Serious stuff. 

Cavalry seems pretty speedy as the italian lights learned to their dismay. They lost the dice off and promptly routed back about a foot.  Rallying basically requires you to remove your leader from commanding the frontline so your troops stop doing much. The conundrum is: rally or press the attack. Tricky tricky.

 Nice shot of the italian cannon lining up a crossfire on the approaching russian brigades. They were successful in driving off the first way of attacks, and sent the Russian left wing back.

While the Russian left recoils, the Austrians drive in towards the Saxons. Turns out the saxon infantry is pretty lame, even worse than the italians. 

Twin cavalry charges catch the infantry in line, and sends two of the routing immediately. Break through charges would be sent off by emergency square in the corn fields, but the cannon and infantry nearby will be an issue.

We were running short of time, which caused us to do some 'end of the game' gambits. The Italian lights, who had been doing so well, charged the nearby Russian brigades. Strange how those russian guard look almost the same as the line. The lights were sent routing away, creating a solid gap in the line between the Saxons and the Italians. The Italians looked fairly lost with 1/2 their brigades routed, 1 in square, and 1 stuck in the town.

The Italians, while largely successful in their attack on the Russians, hadn't really been decisive and routed much. They wouldn't be able to break their enemy before the Austrians would be a problem. We declared a solid win for the Ru/Au forces.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Star Wars Armada: Game 2

Once again I dropped in on my friend for a game of armada. Since I'm pretty clueless on the game, he has been making balanced forces. This time we played with some of the smaller support ships, and more fighters.

Our mission was to pick up 'intelligence' tokens, with a single nominated ship on each side. We both 'cleverly' hid the tokens in the asteroid fields, and set up for a head to head pass. Garret used a fast blockade runner, while I was hoping to explode him with my Gladiator. Unfortunately I've found the gladiator is a knife fighter that is incredibly tricky to actually get into firing range. Boo.

The rebels had admiral ackbar who adds a sick amount of firepower to all the broadsides, which ended up being pretty punishing over the game.

I didn't play my fighter  bomber screen well (is that even a thing), and it was nerfed pretty thoroughly by a bunch of named characters. I had a counter in my raider, but it was busy flying across the table trying to stay out of range the rebels big ship. It would appear that initial setup is *very* important in this game given the short (6 turn) time limit.

Another event which has solidified some wisdom for me is when his big ship (?liberty) pounded the snot out of my interdictor in one round. Choosing which ship to activate when is pretty key, as if it's destroyed before it takes it turn you are SOL. No spontaneous actions here. 

Our game hilariously involved LOTS of collisions. Our ships were almost destroyed by collisions, which really was what allowed the single turn of good rolling to kill my Interdictor. 

After that was gone, and with the rebels holding a 2:1 advantage in intelligence it was all over. Points wise it was a pretty substantial rout. It was note worthy that I was close to killing some key ships twice, and they escaped a near death. The liberty never really faced any threat though. 

Time wise this game took us about as much as the first game took 2.5 - 3 hours. I suspect this was due to some fatigue, as well as the plethora of special characters and extra card abilities on the ships. It will be interesting to see if we can bring this down.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Star Wars Armada: first play

Crush the sci fi terrorist!
 I've managed to locate another war gamer locally. A great find of high caliber: he has both sides of numerous games....painted! We met up for a first game of Star Wars armada. I randomly drew the imperials (secretly I was hoping to play the star destroyers).

There's an interesting mission selection mechanic where each player builds three options into their list. The dice off for initiative determines which players choices get used. Having no idea what we were doing we random selected a mission which ended up with the imperials getting to hyperspace jump in one smaller ship and 3 groups of fighters into the middle of the board later in the game.

 This game seems to theme, and reward, the player who can predict what till be happening/needed in the future. 

There are 4 types of commands you order up (roughly damage control, shoot more/better, change speed/turn harder, get more fightyness from your fighters). The big/slow ships have to queue up their orders up to 3 turns in advance.

Firing happens before movement, so you remove a crutch most players don't realize they have where they can move into better range before letting loose with their guns.

 The movement ruler is articulated and ships are allowed certain numbers of 'clicks' of turning each space interval. It's pretty clever and easy to learn to use, but quite restrictive maneuvering wise for the big ships. Very thematic. We both ran into space hazards, and my opponent managed to bumper car his own ships a couple of times.

The ships end up with quite a different flavour. I particularly notice my smaller star destroyer was a pig to move and turn. There's a variety of defensive tokens that each ship gets, which also conveys a difference in how each ship functions in battle (ex nebulon b frigates have 2 evade tokens, whereas the big star destroyer has none). 

I was soundly thrashed by my opponent. I think poor setup (I didn't get my big ship where it was much use, and my small ships ended up directly facing his bruisers), and a failure to capitalize on my hyperspace ambush (I popped in right as everything was flying out of range of my guns) weighed pretty heavily. It also takes a bit of time to grok a new game. 

I'm totally looking forward to getting in some more games, as it has a very cool look, and seems to play reasonably fast.

We figure a bit under 3 hours with 'tournament point value' including rules explanations, occasional rules look ups, & general unfamiliarity (i.e. thinking hard about what to do for each phase, rather than it being fairly obvious what the better options are).  I could easily see this dropping to 2 with a second or third game.

Monday, February 13, 2017

SAGA Crecent and Cross - God will recognize his own

I managed a trip over to Vancouver just in time for the snowpocalypse of 2016. After a day of slushing about with a substandard miniatures carrying solution, I finally arrived in the evening for a game of SAGA with friends.

We played 4 pt warbands, with two of us on each team (8 pts total). The mission was "God will recognize his own" - you only score points for killing in melee, most killing-est team wins, and troops are recycled back onto the board.

Cameron and Jenn led the fanatically hospitaller and crusader forces (including a large group of pilgrim levy). Grace and myself commanded the saracens and mutatawi (including camelry!).

 There was much hilarity as each side some some consistent 'hot' rolling while their opponents couldn't manage to roll dice to save themselves. This, of course, reversed later in the game.

Recycling of troops always gets wacky as suicide squads charge in off the edge of the table to poach off the reduced squads that had killed those same figures the turn before.

The spot lighting was pretty rough for camera work, but I like to think that  the long shadows represent dusk, or a dust storm or something.

While great fun playing, I did have a number of spear and shield injuries. My travel case obviously needs some work to better protect my men from the hostile public transit environment.