Friday, April 25, 2014

Trumpeter Salute 2014

Oooops, A posting that got highly delayed.... I managed to attend the local trumpeter salute at the beginning of April. I managed to get in 3 play sessions before life scheduling and fatigue knocked me out. I managed to hit 2 of the games I was interested in trying out.

Full Thrust I had experimented with once before and was interested in seeing if I was playing it correctly. The host was using the basic book, basic rules, so no damage control, and the 'cinematic' movement. Considering I had tried with the vector movement, this was MUCH easier to understand. While I didn't get the insight I was hoping for, it does seem that it is probably a case of insufficient returns for the increase in difficulty.

We manage to start play immediately on time, and finished in an hour. Great stuff. Another session was finished in the same play period while I wandered off to join a friend at another table.

Here is the basic setup. 4 klingon type vessels (3 destroyers with torpedoes and a frigate (or something like that) vs 3 large transports, 2 destroyers (without torpedoes), 1 frigate. The mission of the klingons is to destory the transports before they escape without losing more than 50% of their force.

The feds were speed limited to begin with, but I chose a high closing speed (14 inches or so) to try and maximize turns of fire. Unfortunately I mis-gauged the second turn of closing and as I attempted my turns (hoping to be in behind the feds) I ended up right in front of them. No torpedo shots, and a whole lot of damage. Immediately one of my destroyers on the top of the photo lost it's fire control and was useless (he hastened away in later turns).
I manage to get my frigate behind the fed line, and have gutted one merchant, and knocked out the jump drive on a second. The fed frigate is beating my frigate up badly.

The destroyer to the top misses it's torp shot (the only one for the game), while the one to the left is trying to slow enough to get some shots.

The last tranport loses it's jump drive to a lucky critical. I've lost another destroyer and my two remaining ships are pretty hurt.

I manage to destroy the fed frigate, but the combined fire of the fed destroyers manage to kill my last destroyer near the top centre of the picture. This brings my loses over 50% and I mis the win and get a tie. A nice quick fun game.

I was plagued by failed threshold checks on my fire controls. I think without that I would have done much better (and had more torpedo shot options). I suppose it was balanced by some lucky threshold losses to the transports jump drives.

My biggest problem was some poorly planned turns and the closing distance that didn't quite work out. I think if I closed just a bit fast (or slower) it would have been better.

Friday Game 2 (same time slot)

My friend had been intrigued by this second game as it had both British redcoats as well as lizardmen. A space 1889 type adventure against Venusian lizardmen for sure! Given my participation in a long ongoing space 1889 rpg I was very much interested. Checking the handbook later it appears this used the 'Battle for Empire' ruleset. Lion against the Lizard "General S Steele attempts to link up his Canadian Brigade with a British Brigade. A jolly good victory against the lizards is expected. " The minis looked cool, the batle looked functional with some cool bits, and the GM had a great pith hat. What could go wrong?

Unfortunately quite a bit. The GM vanished from the table for the first hour plus. I finished the full thrust game, and he still wasn't around. I disappeared for about 20 minutes to make some phone calls, and when I returned the setup was just finishing. This game a bit under 90 minutes for game play and a conclusion. Iffy stuff.

The British columns were coming in from two corners. The lizardmen started mostly set up and on blinds, with a column of crack troops (mostly mounted) coming in as a reinforcement column. The orders were to stop the British from sacking the village. I rather enjoyed that the lizardment were on blinds to start with, although it wasn't very well explained (ie at all) when they'd come off the blinds, or what visual sighting was through the 'woods'.

Working with Brian's girlfriend, we decided to load one flank up with the fake/spoof blinds to try and slow them down while we would overload the other flank (Brian's side) to crush each column in order. A winning plan for sure. It worked quite well on the delay side as the GM shook out his troops all along the line and took the bait of the fake blinds. He actually said I didn't think those guys were fake. Mwuahahaha.

 To the right we can see the wood molding as blind markers. Brian advances from the right. The centre group of markers are our cavalry and temple guard racing to further overload the right. On the left is a second (real) line of defense, while offscreen is the other Brits.

Unfortunately, the lizardmen were not really up to snuff for attacking rifle armed opponents. It seems overly challenging to get a flank charge, even when well placed, and the traitorous lizardmen askaris of the british fought well and held up our troops.

The GM basically handed us a cheat sheet for fuzzy wuzzies and stated that lizardmen are basically the same. A very thin reskinning, although they got a bonus when attacking humans in melee. I'd have preferred this to be hidden better, if not adjusted slightly. Given the near parity of forces, I think have lizardmen that contact humans should move like a buzzsaw through something soft and gooey.

The GM also seemed to need to consult the book a lot, and the cheat sheet was fairly lacking in useful info, more tables that you use when you already know the rules. A quick off the top explanation of some game concepts would have been great.

Near the end of the game the Brits on Brians flank are coming under bow fire from entrenched lizardmen. Their flank on the hill is engaged by 2 lizardmen melee units.

Meanwhile on the under-defended wing we see a cavalry force swinging wide to potentially threaten the flying column of lizardmen. 

In the background their entire force has shaken out into a line to attack the two swamp areas. Only one of which holds ANY units (and only 1 plus a leader which were driven away by gunfire & bayonet). 

 The fateful failed charge by the lizardmen. Some more clarity about spotting ranges, and the potential to fail to spot would have been helpful for Endie and myself to juggle the delaying action.

I question whether the spotting was arbitary, or merely seemed that way. 

I think based on our (time limited) poor performance, that there would indeed have been "A Jolly good victory against the lizards". I think this was more determined by the relative strengths of lizardmen vs redmen though. Either the forces needed rebalancing, or a mechanic to recycling lizardmen into the fray would be necessary.

The GM was limited in his lizardmen collection, as they are long out of print and bought off another gamer. Recycling dead troops would allow over coming this without denuding the british of too many troops. Perhaps less troops overall would yield a result in a shorter time period.

Some promise in the game, but a disappointment to be sure. Hard to judge the rule set at all.

I leave the reader with some fun pictures of the lizardmen leadership (left), and the cavalry that never made it off the blinds. 

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