Wednesday, December 09, 2009

DBM: Normans in Action!

I finally had a chance to use my Normans. They squared off against Steve's Italian Lombards.

The Lombards set up as a big wall of troops. From left to right, he had knights (Irr Kn(F)), spear (Reg Sp(I)), and more knights. His right flank was anchored in a marsh guarded by some Ps and Bw.

The Norman battle groups were arranged with the Allies on the left, the smallest knight group in the middle, and the largest knight group on the right. The CinC's command formed a reserve in the rear. All of the Norman groups were set up in three "waves". The first wave was the knights, the second wave contained the bowmen, the third wave contained the other infantry. The Aghlabids had the LH and Cv in a group, with the infantry in a group in the rear.

From the get go, I advanced the Normans in echelon, with the right most group leading the way. The Norman right crashed into the Lombard left, beginning an epic Kn vs Kn battle. Even though I had the advantage on the flank, Steve was able to break through in the center of my line, despite losing his CinC in the second round of combat. I did manage to cause a lot of casualties, though, so while he broke my smallest command, his largest command was one stand away from breaking.

On the left flank, the Aghlabids moved up to skirmish with the Normans opposite of them. We exchanged casualties... two Lombard Kn for two Arab LH, but not much else happened. His bow caused a couple of stands of LH to flee, but that was it.

At that point, it was getting late so we decided to call it. The final result was a slight Lombard victory, although it was pretty close.

What did I learn? Well, Kn(F) die quickly! The combat penalty for F doesn't sound like much, but its surprising how many casualties were caused by it. Also, it seems like there is a lot to be learned about controlling impetuous troops. Even without the cheesy stuff, it appears that there is a lot that you can do with them (both offensively and defensively). Finally, I'm still getting used to some of the combat interactions. For example, Bw in two ranks is good for shooting but bad in melee... I learned that the hard way. :-(

Overall, though, it was a lot of fun and look forward to playing with them again.

Here's my army list:

Irr Kn(F) - CinC
Irr Kn(F) x5
Irr Sp(I) x6
Irr Bw(O) x6
Irr Hd(O) x1
18.5 EE, breaks at 6.5

Irr Kn(F) - SG
Irr Kn(F) x8
Irr Sp(I) x2
Irr Bw(I) x6
Irr Hd(O) x5
Irr LH(I) x2
21.5 EE, breaks at 7.5

Irr Kn(F) - SG
Irr Kn(F) x6
Irr Bw(I) x6
Irr Hd(O) x5
15.5 EE, breaks at 5

Aghlabid Allies – 3/33
Irr Cv(O) - AG
Irr Cv(O) x2
Irr LH(O) x5
Irr Ax(I) x4
Irr Sp(I) x4
14 EE, breaks at 5

EDIT: Here are some pics of the action at Steve's blog:

Monday, November 23, 2009

WoW at 80: Longer, not Harder

I finally hit 80 with my main last week. The last couple of levels went really quickly. I worked through a progression of quest hubs in Zul Drak and Ice Crown, got to see some cool phasing effects, and got set up for some of the main daily, rep grinds.

So, now what? The first thing I did was head over to the Argent Tournament area to do the Trial of the Champion instance. This is a really short instance, three bosses in 15 minutes. There is a small amount of trash before the first two, but its basically insignificant. When all is said and done, you get four purple drops from the three bosses. Lather, rinse, and repeat. As a whole, the group was pretty well geared, with me as the only "new" 80, but we had two random pugs with us and it was still trivially simple. After four runs, I ended up with four new items. Yay.

The rest of the game is all about the grind. You grind heriocs to get badges and gear for new 80s. You grind Wintergrasp to get honor for gems and shards for items. You grind your dailies to get rep to get gear. Of course, each faction has one piece of gear that you need, so you have to grind each one. Finally, you have to grind cooking and fishing quests to get the last of the recipes.

So far, none of these things has been difficult. I ran a couple of heroics with people that had decent gear, and they were trivially simple. I did a Wintergrasp battle, which was a lot of fun. However, this fight seemed pretty easy, which I assume is a combination of attacker usually winning and Horde usually winning. I've done a couple of the fishing and cooking dailies, which are cute the first time or two, but get old quickly. The cooking dailies allow you to get a new recipe every three days. With about 20 recipes available, you should have them all in two months.

I've been pretty underwhelmed. The graphics are great, the stories are reasonable, and some of the quests are kind of cool. I just have no desire to do the same thing over and over just to get better stuff to do the same thing over and over. I think I'm just so far behind the curve that its nearly impossible to find a group that makes anything challenging. And, to be honest, I think Blizzard wants it that way. They want everyone to feel like a bad ass. Wiping on bosses over and over to learn a fight is a thing of the past. Its much easier to put in that same amount of time killing boars, getting tokens, and then getting your gear. I guess more people would kill boars than wipe on a boss, even if means getting the same gear in about the same amount of time. Shrug.

I have a couple of low level alts that I play from time to time. I can play those toons and still get that sense of adventure that was there in the original game. You realize that it was a theme park back then, but that fact was pretty well hidden in what appeared to be a vast world. Now, the theme park thing is trumpeted as a feature, not a bug. Step right up, kill the "terrible" boss, and get an epic item as a souvenir. Shrug.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Impetus vs DBx: Basic Comparison

After my experience with Impetus at Fall In, I picked up a copy of the rules and the two "expansion" magazines. I spent most of last week reading the rules to get a better understanding of how they work. The description below is based on an email from my gaming group's mailing list. Note that I haven't had a chance to play Impetus again, but I'm going to try to set something up sometime soon.

Note: The description below assumes that you know something about DBx. I'll just comment in spots where Impetus is different.

Impetus is a unit based game. Each unit is comprised of 4 DBx stands. You could probably get away with 1 stand per unit if you adjust the scale. An average sized Impetus army seems to consist of 10-15 units, so to do it in full scale would require 40-60 stands.

Units in Impetus activate by command (think GBoH). Each side nominates a command, rolls 2d6 and adds the commander value. The highest roll activates. After the command is done with its activation, you repeat the process. That means that there is no guarantee of the order of activation, so it is possible for one side to activate all of its units before the other side.

Units activate individually, unless they are in a group (i.e., in contact with each other). This means that each unit must complete all of its actions before another unit can move. When a unit is activated, it can do things like rally, move, shoot, charge, fight in combat. That's right, combat is part of a units activation... there is not separate combat step. A unit can attempt to do multiple things, but there is usually a penalty. If it tries to move and fight, there is a penalty to its attack. If it tries to move multiple times, it must roll a Discipline check. If it fails, then it becomes Disordered. So you do have the option of pushing your troops, although there are some risks involved.

There are many ways that a unit can become Disordered. Failing a Discipline check when moving multiple times or attempting a "special" move, taking casualties, failing a charge, etc. There is a slight combat penalty for being Disordered, but there is a significant "performance" penalty, since there are a bunch of actions that a unit cannot take when Disordered. It appears that the optimum strategy is Disorder the segment of the line that you plan to attack.

Combat uses the "buckets of dice" approach. Each unit has a "VBU" rating and an "impetus" rating. If charging, you combine the values. If not, you just use the VBU rating. To give you some idea, French Knights have an 8 VBU and a 5 Impetus. Roman Legionnaires have a 6 VBU and 2 Impetus. Skirmishers have a 2 or 3 VBU and a 0 Impetus. Note that 0 Impetus units cannot charge formed units (i.e., non-skirmisher) and are instantly destroyed if contacted by them. Anyways, each side rolls the appropriate amount of dice (VBU + Impetus (if charging) + mods), scoring hits on 6s or pairs of 5s. Each side that took hits then makes a cohesion check by rolling a d6, adding the number of hits, and subtracting their VBU. If the score is 0 or lower, nothing additional happens. If the score is greater than 0, the unit takes that much damage. If a unit accumulates damage equal to or greater than its VBU, it is destroyed. If either unit suffers hits, it becomes Disordered at the end of combat. Whichever side takes the most damage (not to be confused with hits, which does make the process confusing) loses combat and is forced back. The winner can choose to pursue, and if it contacts the retreating unit, you repeat combat. Note that combat will continue until either a) there is a draw, b) the winner chooses not to pursue, or c) the winner pursues but fails to contact.

Victory is determined in a pretty standard way. IIRC a command breaks when it has suffered 1/3 losses and an army breaks when it has suffered 1/2 losses + broken commands. Note that units that route are removed from the table. I'm not sure if this applies to broken commands, but I think that it does. So once things go south, its probably going to end soon.

Overall, I think the game is pretty cool. It seems to be a bit simpler than DBx, which is both good and bad. I think the activation system causes it to be a bad multi-player game, since you have a lot of people sitting around waiting during each activation. I like the fact that combat moves units back and forth a bit, but I'm not a big fan that VBU contributes to both offense and defense. I'd have to play it a bit more to get a better feel for how things work.

IMO, its not "better" than DBx or FoG, just different. Its certainly an interesting set of rules. It definitely worth playing some more to get a better feel for how things work. I'd really like to try some games with asymmetric opponents: Romans vs Gauls, Crusaders vs Muslims, etc.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fall In AAR

I attended the Fall In historical miniatures convention in Gettysburg this weekend. We had quite a few people from our group in attendance, including our friend Mustafa who now lives in DC.

I arrived Thursday night, grabbed dinner, then participated in the DBA Wimpy Wars event. The event involved armies comprised of a minimum of six stands of skirmishers (light horse or psiloi). I used IV/47 Golden Horde with an army list consisting of 1xCv (G), 3xCv, 6xLH, 2xBw. I went 3-1 in the event, losing in the championship match. Oh well... maybe next time. It was a lot of fun. The DBA crowd is a fantastic bunch of guys, and I always have a good time when I play with them.

Mustafa arrived Friday morning with the relatively new Fantasy Flight game Chaos in the Old World. We both wanted to play it, so we found a third person (it requires 3 or 4 players) and went to it. It was a learning experience for us, but the game moved along rather well. Sadly, the third player had to leave when we were halfway done. Still, I found the game very enjoyable. Its a multiplayer game of world domination/destruction. Its interesting in that there are a couple of ways to win and each faction has a different set of abilities and objectives. More on this later...

On Friday afternoon, we played in an Impetus learning scenario. Impetus is a set of ancient and medieval warfare miniature rules. The scenario was a typical Greek Hoplite battle pitting two armies consisting of spearmen and skirmishers against each other. Each side chooses a command to activate and rolls two dice. The winning side activates the command by moving, fighting, and/or shooting. Then the two sides repeat until all commands have acted. Combat uses the "buckets of dice" mechanic, with the number of dice rolled determined by the unit type and situational modifiers. The side that suffers the most hits loses combat and is pushed back. The winner has the option to pursue, triggering another round of combat if the pursuit is successful. Combat continues until one unit breaks or the winning unit fails to maintain contact. I thought the game worked very well. The mechanics are quite elegant, which allows the game to really flow. Players have interesting decisions to make, ranging from which command to activate to pushing units to take additional moves at the risk of disruption. I was impressed enough to purchase the rules.

After the Impetus match, we decided to grab some dinner and try Chaos in the Old World again. We had three players again this time: Mustafa playing Khorne, Roy playing Nurgle, and me playing Tzeentch. I altered my strategy a bit from the first game, focusing more on my disruptive magic instead of direct action. It worked rather well, allowing me to get an early lead. Things tightened up in the mid game, but I still hung on. When I got my second upgrade, I decided to take a chance, announcing that I might be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It turns out that I was right. I wasn't able to utilize my new ability and Mustafa pulled ahead. I had a chance to tie it in the end, but a string of bad luck prevented it and sealed Mustafa's victory. It was a pretty close game and was a lot of fun. I liked the game a lot. Each faction is quite different, but they all seemed pretty balanced to me. One word of warning... The game is designed with the assumption that there will be a lot of backstabbing among the players. It is definitely not for the faint of heart.

On Saturday morning, Roy, Mustafa, and I spent a couple of hours playtesting our new air combat rules. Mustafa and I used to be really into WWII air combat gaming, but ended up falling out of it. We decided to write our own rules, with the goal of getting something between the fidelity of Fighting Wings and the playability of Check Your 6. We had a pretty good session, putting the game through its paces and creating a list of comments. We are pretty close on the flight model, but we have a bit of work to do on the combat system. My goal is to have something worth playtesting by spring, hosting a demo game at either Cold Wars or Historicon. Hopefully I'll have a chance to work on the game over the holidays.

The last event that I played in was a DBM game Saturday evening. I used a borrowed Visogothic army and fought a Han Chinese army. My opponent set up defensively in a corner, forcing me to try to dig him out. On my right flank, his light horse and bows tried to disrupt my knights and cavalry. In the center, my warband were delayed by skirmishing light horse. Luckily, I had a couple of elements of cavalry on my left flank that could move unopposed. The cavalry fell upon the Chinese camp, while the knights and cavalry duked it out with the bows. I was able to cause a lot of casualties, but eventually my command broke. Luckily, my cavalry was able to make short work of the baggage, and coupled with a few additional casualties, I was able to break a command and then the army. Thanks go to Rich, my opponent, and Howard, who loaned me the army. Also thanks to the whole DBM crew, who answered all of my questions and provide a few tips along the way.

The shopping was okay, not great. The flea market was a bit disappointing. I had hoped to pick up some cheap guys, but there were few to be found. I did pick up a copy of Funcken's Age of Chivalry and Arms and Uniforms, which made me quite happy. I picked up a couple of other books as well. Overall, the shopping was a bit meh... Oh well, you can't have it all.

IMO, the convention was a great success. I enjoyed all of the games that I played and I got to hang out with friends. I have a lot going on at work and at home, and this was a fantastic way to spend a weekend.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Change of Heart on DBM

I've had a bit of a change of heart regarding DBM vs FoG and DBMM. I've found a group that plays a lot of DBM, so I've been able to play the game a bit in a friendly environment. I have to say that I've had a lot of fun with it.

For the most part, all of the bad things that I had heard about the game are mostly untrue. Or, more correctly, they exist but are easy to counter. For example, there is a big complaint about geometric tricks and the fact that they don't work in DBMM is one of the big selling points. In a couple of games, I have yet to see anything that I couldn't easily counter. Also, the Zone of Death bit is something new to consider, but once it happens to you a couple of times, you get used to it. Basically, its turning out to be a classic case of people complaining about a new game working differently than an old game. In other words, its part of the learning experience...

So what does DBM have going for it? Well, its pretty simple especially if you already understand DBA. The concept of pips and movement and such is very similar. Also, pip conservation is one of the fundamental strategies of the game, much like that in DBM. I fell victim to that in our game last Friday. Anyways, troop interactions are much simpler than DBMM and FoG. Also, movement is much simpler than the other two systems. DBMM contains many more pip restrictions than DBM, which makes movement harder to process as well as having additional restrictions on the troop types. FoG has the concept of Complex Movement, which involves a table lookup (although, to be fair, I believe that it would be something easily memorized).

Anyways, I've been having a lot of fun with DBM. My biggest concern about the system remains, however. It is basically a "dead" system, since the authors/publisher no longer support it. Different groups are starting to use and propose different sets of house rules for use in tournaments. This can lead to nothing but trouble. Unless someone obtains the rights to the game, I think it will slowly fade away. According to some, its already happening...

As for my game play, I'm still going to try to learn FoG. Personally, I think that is the future, so I still find it worth learning. The biggest issue with FoG for me isn't the rules, but the figures required for the various armies. I finally decided to sit down and look throught the starter lists and figure out what I need to paint and/or buy. It turns out that I will be able to make most of the armies with a small amount of effort. Woo hoo! The biggest loser in all of this is DBMM. The odds of me getting a game with it are pretty small, so I feel that I'll get the least return on any time spent learning it. Its kind of too bad, but what can you do. I still have a lot of choices for gaming, which is always a good thing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Off the Wagon

I suppose it had to happen. I finally fell back off of the wagon. The World of Warcraft wagon, to be precise. I never stopped listening to podcasts or reading blogs, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. I had been looking for an RPG "fix" all summer. The announcement of patch 3.2, and the relative dearth of other games, got me to sign up again. I figured I'd do it for a month and see if it "stuck". I was kind of teetering on the edge, but when Blizzard introduced the faction change service, I knew I was doomed. $55 and a day later, my main character (c. 1000 hours played, gulp) was now Undead and on a new server. Yeah, I'm hooked! Heh.

So what has changed? Well, a lot, really.

For one, the graphics are MUCH better than before. The landscapes were done really well. Most of the mobs had new animations that included a lot more detail. The view from hills looking to the coast was absolutely beautiful. And the entire time that I was questing in Howling Fjord, I could see Utgard Keep looming in the background. It was very visually impressive.

I also made my first trip to Dalaran over the week. Wow. It was really, really cool. It was crowded with people, which does a lot to add life to a location. (Go to Silvermoon or Darnassus to see what a dead city looks like.) It was filled with shops that all had interesting things to buy. That is one of my biggest disappointments with the other cities. They are filled with shops full of useless junk. The city seemed to be relatively well organized. I even though the sewer thing was pretty cool... You could check out the "seedy underbelly" of the city. Hah!

I'm also really enjoying questing on my mage. I do a lot of damage... that hasn't changed. What has changed is the amount I have to drink. For normal questing, I NEVER have to drink. Its fabulous. Between gems and the Evocation change, I can continue non-stop. I'm still mana limited in a single, all out fight, but that's okay. It was such a pain to kill a few mobs, stop to drink, kill a few more, drink more, etc. Ugh. Things have been much smoother, resulting in more fun time and much, much less down time. Two thumbs up!

What hasn't changed? The questing. When I last tried to work through Northrend, I was in a race to get to 80 to catch up with the rest of my guild. The quests are dead simple and very well organized. Go to a quest hub, collect the quests, complete them (and they are all located conveniently nearby), and collect your rewards. Repeat a couple of times until you finsh that area, then you'll receive a quest that sends you to the next area. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Well, that bit hasn't changed. Things are exactly the same as before. The quests are all pretty dull... kill X of this, collect Y of that. Yawn. But I did manage to find a couple of chains that were interesting. All three involved attacking an "enemy" base, killing guys, collecting drops, and eventually taking out the leader. Nothing really new, but the fights were kind of fun and they all involved a bit of exploring in addition to the fighting. The only downer was that the final boss fights were "roll your face on the keyboard" simple. That's okay... the chains were still fun. (Hmmm. Maybe I should be troubled that they are called "chains"...)

So far, I'm having a lot of fun. I'm a bit nervous about the end game, but I'm willing to give it a whirl. Apparently Blizzard switched the end game from a few, very involved things to do to a ton of very simple things to do. My guess is that the net time spent is about the same. There was a sense of accomplishment to completing stuff in the old game. I don't know if I'll still feel that way. I guess we'll see. On the bright side, I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gen Con AAR

Dramatis Personae

Mark and Brian - Co-workers of mine.
Mondo - Gaming friend.
Kevin - Your humble correspondent.


We arrived at the convention center around 7:30. Luckily we had already purchased our badges, so we were able to pick up our badges immediately. We took a quick walk around the convention center than headed back up to the room to play something. First up was a game of Magic: The Gathering using a couple of pre-constructed decks. Of course I picked a blue control deck, although it was focused on creature abilities instead of counter spells. Mark took a White Black Rebel themed deck. My deck started off pretty slowly, with Mark pumping out creatures and doing some early damage. Once the deck got rolling, though, I was able to block and destroy his creatures, eventually winning the game. Boy, having a Morphling would have been nice...

All three of us (Brian, Mark, and me) played the second game, Roll Through the Ages. Its a light version of the standard card driven game. Each player rolls dice to determine what food and resources that have to spend. They then purchase upgrades and build things using those resources. I had reasonably advanced civilization but suffered quite a bit from diseases/calamities. Brian had a pretty solid civ and won the game.


I woke up at 6:30 in the morning the first day. Just like a kid at Christmas. :-) We grabbed a bit to eat then found a demo room for Rio Grande Games. Since the dealer room didn't open for a while, we sat down and played a game of Zooloretto. It was a cool, light game, where you collect animals to put into your zoo, scoring victory points by filling up pens. It turned out to be a close game, with Mondo winning by 2 points. It was a quick, fun game that I would gladly play again.

The dealer room opened at 10:00 with a large cheer and swarm of people entering the hall. The first booth that I saw was Fantasy Flight and got swept up into the frenzy for the release of Middle Earth Quest. I was one of the first people in line, so it wasn't too bad, but others were stuck in a line for almost a half hour. Crazy.

After that, we wandered around the dealer hall and auction house. I picked up a used copy of Descent and the campaign expansion for $60, which was very cool. The AH was a lot like the old school Origins auctions, with time slots for each type of item: war games, RPGs, CCGs, etc. They even had an "Oddities" category, although I didn't stick around for that.

I did my first event Saturday afternoon. It was a 1st ed AD&D adventure called Brotherhood. It served as an introduction to a long running campaign called "The Story". The adventure involved starting as a 0 level character and completing tasks to become a 1st level paladin. I thought it was quite interesting and was well run.

After the event, Mondo and I grabbed dinner and met Brian and Mark for some evening gaming in the board game room. First, we played a game called Rush n Crush. Think Circus Minimus in the future. It had some interesting mechanics but was pretty lame. Then we played a couple of games of Dominion, which was a lot of fun. The first game became an arms race with the Witch, and everyone gained a pile of curses. Mark was able to defend himself a bit with the moat and was able to combine a couple of Throne Room plus Witch combos to win. In the second game, we used cards from the Intrigue expansion. It was much crazier than the first game, with capitalizing on the Harem/Scout combo for the win.


We poked around in the dealer hall and auction room a bit more, but didn't purchase anything of note. I did, however, get a demo of an Indie RPG called "The Burning Wheel". It was VERY interesting. Its a story based system that has some interesting mechanics. Each character has a set of two or three beliefs that provides their motivation, and the game revolves around the characters attempting to fulfill them. Its less about the DM running characters through an adventure and more about the players driving the system and the DM providing the details and obstacles. I might do a separate post on the game, I found it that interesting.

After lunch, I headed to my second scheduled event of the con. It was an introductory scenario for the Legend of the Five Rings campaign Heroes of Rokugan. L5R is an RPG set in a fantastic version of Feudal Japan. All players are technically samurai, but they can all have different classes, such as bushi or shukenja. All characters also belong to a specific clan and family, which provides certain skills, benefits, and drawbacks. No two characters are alike, which makes for an interesting variety. I played a Lion clan bushi from the Matsu clan, which is the family that produces military leaders. I was very skilled in the katana, but I was better in open battle than in a duel. Anyways, the adventure revolved around a wedding celebration that had plenty of contests, from dueling to poetry to painting to storytelling, and, of course, some evil spirit attempting to wreck everything. We were able to win a few contests, learn a bit about the system, and save the day. The nice part is that the campaign is ongoing, so if I go to Gen Con next year I'll be able to use the same character.

I had another event that evening, which was a follow up AD&D scenario for "The Story". I was able to use the paladin that I had created the day before, and I was all geared up for some cool gaming action. It was supposed be a multi-table event, but we didn't have enough people, so each table ended up playing separately. Sadly, we had a group that was absolutely horrible. We wandered aimlessly for the first two hours of the event, losing one guy because "his phone didn't work". Then we kind of blundered around for another hour, missing all of the DMs queues that we were doing the wrong thing. Finally, when we reached the climax of the story, we blundered into a valid solution to the problem, saving our skins and ending up with some shiny new stuff. It was a pretty painful process, though. Again, we can keep our characters from year to year, so I do want to play my guy in The Story in the future.


I didn't have any events scheduled for Saturday, so I wanted to wrap up some shopping and try some different games. Crazy Igor had a buy one, get one sale, so Mondo and I picked up a couple of games. We tried a demo for an interesting system set in a post-apocalyptic Roman world. (IOW, there was a big cataclysm around 0 AD.) The system was pretty interesting, but I couldn't justify spending money on yet another game that I'll never play.

After lunch, Mondo headed toward some Star Wars RPG event while Brian, Mark, and I tried Middle Earth Quest. MEQ is the standard kind of Fantasy Flight Game, with a ton of beautiful bits that requires a bit of time to set up and learn. The game is set in the time between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. One person plays Sauron and everyone else plays Heroes that must cooperate to win. The object of the game is for Sauron to advance his plot elements and the heroes to prevent this from happening. The plot cards advance one of three plots (ring, corruption, and marshaling of forces), creating a location on the board marking the source of the plot. The heroes have to move to the various locations to defeat the plots, avoiding various monsters, encounters, and Sauron's minions along the way. It took me a couple of turns to realize the correct strategy, so I ended up getting behind the curve and couldn't recover, resulting in an easy win for the Free Peoples. Oh, well, I'll get them next time... I liked the game a lot. The play was very solid, including interesting mechanics for movement and combat. It was also very "themey", and the effects of different cards, encounters, etc. all worked very well in the context of the books. I though the game was very well done and look forward to playing it again.

I was feeling pretty burnt out by this time, so after dinner Mondo and I decided to watch one of the movies in the cinema area. We saw "Midnight Chronicles", a movies produced by Fantasy Flight Games based in the setting of the Midnight RPG. I thought the story and special effects were both well done. The acting and script were pretty cheesy, but didn't take too much away from the film. It was pretty cool and was definitely worth the hour and a half spent watching it.

After the movie, Mondo and I played Hera and Zeus, a two player card game by Rio Grande. It was kind of like Stratego with cards. It was entertaining, but seemed to be very luck dependent once you understood the basic strategy. On our way back to the room (by now it was about 1:00 in the morning), we watched a couple of groups play Werewolf. It was interesting seeing the group dynamics work from the outside, but I was too tired to actually join in a game. I think I'm all over it next year, though.


This was the last day of the con. I picked up a couple of minis for Roy, but that was it. The drive home was fairly uneventful, and I was completely exhausted when I got home.


It turned out to be a great trip. I had a lot of fun in the events and the shopping was very good.

How does it compare to Origins? Well, Gen Con is certainly bigger and was much more organized. The dealer room was about 50% bigger, and the bigger companies have a much larger presence there. As an added bonus, there are a lot of new releases that happen at GenCon, so there are a lot of shiny new things to check out. There were very few war games or miniatures at Gen Con, which was a bit disappointing (although, to be honest, I probably wouldn't have tried any of them.) Also, board gaming seems to be bigger at Origins than at Gen Con, and it has much better board gaming rooms. At Gen Con, all of the big companies (Rio Grande, Fantasy Flight, and Days of Wonder) have separate demo rooms where you can try all of their games. At Origins, most places have one or two tables and that's it. One final bit... costumes are a BIG DEAL at Gen Con. I saw tons of people, young and old, male and female, wearing costumes. Most of them were some sort of Anime characters, but they had the old standby fantasy and Star Wars people as well. There were so many people in costume, that you didn't even notice them after a while.

So would I go back again? Yeah, no doubt. Is it better than Origins? IMO, yes for some things, no for others. I heard a really good analogy comparing the two... Origins is like Kennywood and Gen Con is like Disneyland. Both are fun, but have different things that they do well.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Review of RAF by Decision Games

I picked up a copy of RAF by Decision Games. It is the DG remake of the old West End Games solitaire Battle of Britain game. In the original, you played the RAF and defended Britain against the Nazi bombers. The system uses cards to generate the targets and composition of the raids. You try position your fighters to maximize their chance of intercepting and shooting down the bombers. It is a battle of attrition where you try to outlast the Luftwaffe and postpone Operation Sea Lion.

The new game includes the original solitaire game as well as a Luftwaffe solitaire game and a two player version. The components are very nice. Big 5/8" counters depicting all of the British Squadrons and Luftwaffe Gruppen involved in the battle. There are two maps included with the game, one for the RAF and 2 player versions and one for the Luftwaffe version. The maps are nice, but are more functional than artistic. They include lots of tables, which makes playing the game a bit easier. There are several sheets of play aids, as well as a BoB article from S&T (which included at least two glaring errors... sigh). There is also one rulebook for each game, which is kind of cool.

I played the introductory scenario Sunday morning. I found the rules pretty easy to read and understand. The game includes some interesting mechanics, such as the combat resolution process and the way it handles limited intelligence. I was able to play the introductory scenario in about an hour, and that was while I was trying to make sure that I was correctly following the rules. The game was a minor German victory, caused by a couple of bad intercepts on my part. The game is tough. You really need to manage your squadrons well so the Germans don't slip through. The cards add a nice random element and prevent the game from being too chess like.

In summary, I thought the game was pretty cool. I'm going to try to play the 2nd scenario, which covers a week's worth of combat. The intro scenario was only a single day's raids. Once I do that, I'll switch sides and try the Luftwaffe game. I think the game will have a decent replay value due to the card mechanics. I'm looking forward to playing around with it a bit more.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Historicon AAR

I was originally going to skip Historicon this year due to craziness at work, but decided to go at the last minute. I found a cheap hotel room, loaded some podcasts and a recorded book on my iPod, and off I went!

I arrived Friday evening. After grabbing a beer (Historicon 25th Anniversary free beer, that is), I sat down with a bunch of guys from the DBA crowd to play Shadows Over Camelot. It is a cooperative game where the players are the Knights of the Round Table and are tasked with saving Camelot from the forces of darkness. The twist is that one of the players is secretly a traitor, who wins if the rest of the players fail. The game started off poorly for the good guys, as we quickly failed one of the quests, putting us in a whole. We managed to mostly recover, but things were still very touch and go. That's when the traitor struck, tipping the scales against us an causing us to lose. Well played, Greek!

Saturday morning featured the DBA Matched Pairs event. In this, everyone brings a pair of enemy armies as defined in the DBA rules. Your opponent selects one of the armies, and you play the other one. I really like it as a format because you tend to get fairly balanced, historical match ups.

In the first round, I played against David Shepps. We used Dave's armies, and I played the III/3 Italian Ostrogoths vs III/4 Early Byzantines. The Ostrogoths were a knight heavy army with a smattering of infantry while the Byzantines had a mix of light horse, cavalry, and infantry. I don't remember much about the game, other than we had a big LH vs Kn battle in the middle of the field. The knight's combat advantage, coupled with a slight numerical advantage, carried the day, resulting in a 4-2 victory.

In the second round, I played Alex Bostwick (and eventual winner of the tournament). We played using my armies, II/32 Later Carthaginian (Alex) vs III/33 Polybian Roman (me). It turned out to be an epic game. We did a bit a maneuvering for the first couple of turns, then I sent in the legions. After the first exchange, things were stalled a bit on my right flank, with my Bd and Cv matched up against his Sp and LH. This first swing of the game happened on the left flank. My Ps killed his Ax with a 6-1, and I was able to close the door and kill two of his Wb. At that point, up 3-0, my attack stalled. He was able to work in his El and and remaining Wb to kill two of my guys, bringing the score to 3-2. Then his attack stalled. I pressed on with the legions, driving back his left flank. My plan was to force his LH back far enough so I could close the door on the Sp and win. Then the unthinkable happened... his LH killed mv Cv with a 5-1. Now it was tied 3-3 and my right flank was wide open. I launched one final attack with the legions, but it wasn't enough. He was able to get a good match up on the left and close the door on the right to end it. Final score, a 3-5 loss.

Game 3
In the third game, I had the II/49 Marian Romans vs Doug Mudd's II/39/Ancient Spanish. The board had two steep hills in the corners and a large wood in the center. I moved by battle line up to the woods and waited for the Wb to advance. I suffered the first casualty, when Doug was able to close the door on a Bd on the right flank. I used one of my Ps to pull a pair of Wb forward, which promptly killed one of my Bd. I took advantage of the Wb's advance and whacked them both, pulling even at 2-2. There was a bit more skirmishing with the Ps, then I was able to get an overlap against another pair of Wb, killing them and ending the game. Final score, a 4-2 win.

Game 4
In the forth and final game, I played Terrence McPartland. He took the Carthaginians against my Romans. He maneuvered his Cv and LH to threaten my right flank, and I used my general to stop them. He moved a Ps into a vulnerable spot, which I promptly killed. However, I quickly realized that it was a trap, as he was able to close the door on my General and kill him. The score was tied 1-1, and I didn't have a general. We skirmished a bit, then I got lucky and killed an Ax, putting me up 2-1. Now, he had to kill two elements to win instead of one. I maneuvered my blade against his El, forcing it to turn to face me and setting up a situation where a recoil would kill both El. Every move required two pips, which made things difficult, but I launched repeated attacks against the El. It came down to the final turn, with three make or break combats. He managed to kill a Bd and supporting Ps with his Wb, and my attacks on the El failed and another Wb pair failed. I came up short, losing 2-3G.

Overall, the tournament was a lot of fun. All of my opponents were great, and I had a couple of epic games. Thanks to Robert Torres who ran a great event.

DBA Steppe Wars
This was a large multi-player game pitting the Mongoals against Hsia-Hsia Chinese w/Turk Allies. I played a III/11 Central Asian Turkish army. The premise of the game was pretty cool, but it was a bit disappointing in action. There were seven Mongol players vs five Hsia-Hsia, so we were outnumbered all over the board. In my area, we were outnumbered 3 to 2, so it was really just a matter of time before we were crushed. I managed to break one of the Mongol commands before I was broken, so I had that going for me... Thanks go to Jeff Caruso for putting on the event.

Warbirds in Minature
My last event of the show was a Warbirds in Miniature event. This is a relatively new World War II air combat game. It is roughly similar to Check Your Six! and Blue Max, but with a bit more complexity. The scenario had three Ju-87 Stukas escorted by a pair of Bf-109s attacked fixed British positions in North Africa. Their opposition was a group of four Spitfires, and I was flying one of them.

My wingman and I went after the Stukas while the other pair of Spitfires went after the 109s. We climbed a bit, then made a high speed, diving pass through the bombers. We damaged two bombers, killing a gunner. Meanwhile, the other lead Spitfire mercilessly hammered the lead 109, blowing it apart with a deadly, short range shot. He followed that up with another one shot kill on a Stuka. Rolling boxcars twice results in two dead planes. Ouch! Anyways, I shot down a bomber on my second pass, leaving one Stuka left to bomb. He had a slight lead on the Spitfires, so was able to line up a bombing run on the last turn of the game as we converged on him. We managed to shoot him down, but he dropped a bomb squarely onto the British HQ. The game resulted in a tie, but the drama at the end made it very exciting.

Overall, I was impressed with Warbirds. It was a bit abstract, but it gave a pretty good "feeling" of air combat. Once you understand how the charts work, its a pretty good game.

I thought about doing a little bit of shopping, but decided just to head home. I had a pretty rough week at work, and a long day on Saturday, so I just wanted to relax on Sunday.

The shopping was good. The flea market was pretty big, although I didn't find much of what I wanted (cheap 15mm ancients). The vendor area was huge, and I did find a couple of bargains. The convention center was very nice, with big, well lit rooms, and fairly decent food. The swag was very nice... a nice tape measure with a 25th anniversary Historicon logo. Much better than a couple of dice. :-)

Overall, the trip was a resounding success!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pittsburgh Judo Websites

My judo club moved to a new location this month. They also updated their web site to include the new information. You can find it here.

Sometime last year, we had a local, professional photographer take pictures at one of our practices. I'm still a yellow belt at the time these pictures were taken. I was uke for some of the demonstrations, plus there are some interesting action shots. You can check out the pictures here.

Practice tonight was pretty good. We spent the whole class practicing throws in the first three groups. I'm studying for my brown belt, and I feel like I'm making good progress. I find it amazing that the more I learn the more I realize I don't know. Its such a cliche... but its so true.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Field of Glory 300

I came up with these rules as part of my project to learn Field of Glory. These rules are inspired by the DBMM 100 rules. They provide for an easy way to learn the game in a manageable setting. Plus, I can still play while painting a new batch of figures.

1. Armies are 300 points or less.
2. They must contain a single, non-allied commander.
3. Total base requirements are halved. Note that minimum unit size is unaffected, so some troop types will have an effective minimum equal to the minimum unit size.
4. Board size is 30" x 30".
5. Terrain requirements are somewhat different. Both players must place one required piece of terrain. Both players have the option to place a single piece of optional terrain. Note that terrain must be normal sized. No large pieces are allowed.
6. Flank marches are not allowed, but ambushes are.
7. Otherwise the rules are the same.

Let me know what you think. I'm going to fool around with it a bit over the next week or so, and update this post when I do.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Learning Field of Glory

After a little side show into DBM(M), I've decided to go back to Field of Glory. Even though I prefer DBMM, I think FoG is the future. It is much better supported than the other two, and much easier to get a game. Its definitely worth learning both the rules and some basic tactics.

For my demo game, I departed from the all Rome all the time and fell back on an old favorite... the Normans. Since I don't have enough guys to make a decent Anglo-Danish army, I decided to use one of their other opponents... the Fatimid Egyptians. I put together two 600 point armies (listed at the end) and went at it.

The basic strategy for the Normans was to attack on the right with the knights, hold the line in the center with the spearmen, and use the French cavalry to sweep around the left. The Egyptian plan was to use the heavy cavalry in the center to fix the knights and use the light horse to hit them in the flanks. The Dailami would demonstrate on the right and the other infantry would hold the center.

I learned a couple of things in the first two turn. First, 600 points doesn't really fill up a 6x4 table. Second, knights only fight in one rank, so there is no reason to set them up in 2x2 blocks if you are just advancing. Doh! Luckily, two of the battle groups were able to expand before the big charge. Finally, there is a BIG difference between what skirmishers, drilled troops, and undrilled troops can do. The Norman knights are pretty much wind em up and let em go, while the mamluks have a bit more flexibility.

Of course, the two sides pretty much closed and charged. At the point of impact, the knights had a slight numerical advantage over the arab cavalry. When the numerical advantage was coupled with the decisive attack advantage of the knights, the arabs took a beating. Even the flank charge by the Bedouin light horse didn't do much. In three turns, the arab cavalry was put to flight, with the knights bearing down on the arab infantry.

On the other flank, two small battles developed. One pitted some Berber light horse against the Norman archers (light foot). It turned into a marathon slug fest, with neither side losing cohesion but the light horse losing bases due to death rolls until it auto broke. The other saw two battle groups of French cavalry charge a unit of Dailami. One of the cavalry units did well, but the other didn't, rapidly deteriorating and eventually breaking. The Dailami eventually broke with the remaining cavalry unit nipping at its heels.

At this point, I decided to call it. Three BGs of Egyptian infantry remained to fight the bulk of the Norman army, and their prospects weren't real good. The final tally was 7 BGs lost by the Fatimids, 1 by the Normans.

I found the game to be very educational. I tried to be pedantic by strictly following the sequence of play, but I still missed a few things. To be more correct, I kept finding things throughout the game that I had done wrong. Still, I'm going to revamp the army lists a bit to reflect my experiences. Lessons learned: knights are bad news, Dailami are semi-bad news, Egyptian infantry is kind of weak, cavalry MUST concentrate to have a chance of defeating knights. I don't think its worth it to use light horse to work flanks, since they are so weak on the attack. I'm thinking that they would be much more valuable trying to get shock troops to charge and break formation. Interesting stuff.

As promised, here are the army lists:

Norman - 600 points
2x Generals, TC
4x Milites BG, 4 stands of Kn, armored, superior, undrilled, lancers swordsmen
1x Spearmen BG, 8 stands of HF, protected, average, undrilled, defensive spearmen
1x Spearmen BG, 6 stands of HF, protected, average, undrilled, defensive spearmen
1x Foot Archer BG, 6 stands of MF, unprotected, average, undrilled, bow
1x Foot Archer BG, 6 stands of LF, unprotected, average, undrilled, bow
1x Allied General, TC
2x Frankish Cavalry BG, 4 stands of Cv, armored, superior, undrilled, lancers, swordsmen

Fatimid Egyptian - 600 points
3x Generals, TC
2x Arab Lancer BG, 4 stands of Cv, armored, superior, drilled, lancers, swordsmen
2x Mamluk BG, 4 stands of Cv, armored, superior, drilled, bow, swordsmen
1x Berber light horse BG, 4 stands of LH, unprotected, average, undrilled, javelins, light spear
1x Bedouin cavalry BG, 4 stands of LH, unprotected, average, undrilled, lancers, swordsmen
1x Dailami BG, 8 stands of MF, protected, superior, drilled, impact foot, swordsmen
2x Abid al-Shira BGs, 6 stands of HF, protected, average, drilled, light spear, swordsmen + 3 stands of LF w/bows
1x Berber foot BG, 6 stands of HF, protected, average, undrilled, defensive spearmen + 3 stands of LF w/bows

EDIT: It turns out that I calculated the point values incorrectly. I used one of the army list spreadsheets and didn't account for the cost of the generals. It turns out that both army lists were about 700 points, not 600. Doh!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Comparing DBMM and DBM

They are working on DBMM Army Book 4 (later Medieval) on the DBMM list, so I've been sucked into playing around with the system again. I set up a couple of 100 point games pitting the Later Carthaginians vs Polybian Romans. The Romans won all three, but two of them were very close. In fact, one game saw the Romans disheartened(1/4 casualties) in the same bound that the Carthaginians broke (1/2 casualties). I think the game works really well. The rules are very terse, but once you get the hang of it, its a pretty good game.

Feeling adventurous, I decided to set up a similar battle using DBM. I managed to play twice, with the Carthaginians winning both matches. This was caused by two things. First, the army lists are a bit different between the two rules sets. Second, the interactions of the troops are very different. In DBMM, blades quick kill spears, which allowed them to easily defeat the Carthaginian heavy foot. The auxilia fared a bit better, but wasn't enough to defeat the legions. In DBM, blades are at a disadvantage against warbands, so the Gallic foot were able to kill enough blades to carry the day. To defeat warbands in DBM, the Roman player has to break them up via maneuver. Interesting stuff.

I rearranged the Carthaginian DBMM list to use some Gauls, and tried the fight again. This time, Carthage handily won. Granted, it was only one game, but it felt noticeably different. In DBMM, Sp vs Bd is a losing proposition. Wb vs Bd is much more interesting.

Which system is "better"? Its hard to say, since the two are very similar. DBMM is more complicated than DBM, but I don't see that as a problem. I feel that the units have more flavor in DBMM, and the My Bound/Your Bounds stuff is fine. I do think that it will take less time to play a regular sized DBM game. They both seem to produce reasonable results, which is good. In theory, some of the cheese factor that is present in DBM has been removed from DBMM, but I don't know enough to say. Hopefully I'll get a chance to play more and see. (FWIW, Phil Barker is going to be at Historicon, and will be running a small DBMM event. If I go, I'm going to try to sign up for it.)

My next match up will be Marian Romans vs Mithradates. The Pontic armies have a couple of Kn, some LH, and some light foot. Should be interesting.

(I've been doing a lot of research on the Late Republic recently. Really interesting stuff...)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Judo Debrief - 3/10

We got a really good workout last night. We started with a bit of shiai, modified to match the new rules that will be going into effect during the next state championship. There will now be both a standing and ground portion of a match. Instead of automatically winning with an ippon, you will instead score points, and the judoka with the most points at the end of both portions wins the match.

I fought two matches in the shiai. In the first match, I went against one of the white belts. I didn't do too well in the standing part, stumbling around and being thrown for a yuko or wazari (I don't remember which). I did much better in the ne waza portion, quickly putting him into kesa getame and holding him down for ippon. In the second match, I went up against one of the brown belts. His favorite move is drop seoi nage, and sensei even whispered that to me right before the fight began. I tried to take him off of his game, catching him with a poorly done yoko otoshi for wazari. When we got back up, I went after him leaning forward and walked right into his drop seoi nage. Ugh, that was dumb. On the ground, he aggressively jumped around me and attacked me from the rear. We rolled around for a while, with me trying to work my way up his arm and him trying to choke me. I decided to tap out just as sensei was calling matte. Rats! (He was actually putting pressure on my windpipe instead of the artery, but I should have never let him get there in the first place.)

After the shiai, we did some more walking drills. Then one sensei took the kids to do standing randori while the other took the adults to do ground randori. I went up against the white belt again. We started with the "standard" type pushing match, but I was able to work my way around to rear control. I managed to set up a sliding lapel choke, and I could see his face turning red, but couldn't quite get him to tap out. He managed to escape and get on top, but I was able to reverse it as sensei yelled matte. My second partner was Sensei Tom. He tried to put me into the guard but I was able to keep pressure and get past it. I had a controlling position on top, but for some reason I decided I wasn't making any progress and went for rear control and the choke. I couldn't quite get it set up right, and he reversed and put me into an arm bar. Afterward, he wasn't really sure why I left the top position. He mentioned that I was mostly in control, and should have worked for a hold down. Sigh.

I learned a couple of things last night. I'm still leaning forward. I really have to work on that. I also need to get better at "countering my opponent through movement". Looking at the fight with the brown belt, its impossible for him to do a right drop seoi nage if I am moving to the left. Of course, it makes the left throw easier, but that's another lesson. I also got some pointers on my choking techniques. Overall, it was a very good practice.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Judo Debrief - 2/27

Last night was a good workout. We worked on o uchi gari for most of the class. After that, we did a bit of ne waza randori, following by standing randori. I felt like I did fairly well in ne waza. I first went against one of the black belts, and both "matches" ended up pretty neutral. I'm pretty sure that he was simply countering my moves, but at least I didn't make any mistakes leading to a large opening for him. I then rolled against one of the brown belts and felt like I did quite well. I was able to counter his initial attempt to capture me in his guard and get a dominant position when he rolled over. In the past, I would try to go for a choke, and would spend too much time in a futile effort to get it. I've recently changed my tactics a bit to go for the arm bar instead. I hadn't been successful, though since I would try to force it using strength. Sensei said that once I have grabbed the wrist, I should roll my entire body instead. In other words, use leverage instead of strength. Now, I'm looking forward to trying it again.

I didn't do so well in standing randori. I seem to have fallen back into the habit of leaning forward. I went up against one of the white belts who is incredibly stiff and pretty strong, and I wasn't able to generate proper kuzushi. He was able to take me down twice, once pretty hard. I was able to recover the second time and get him into a pretty strong kesa getame, but it was still a bit rough. I then went against the brown belt. I'd say he got the better of me, but at least it wasn't as frustrating. I was able to block one of his throws, but took a second too long for the counter, so I ended up going down with him on top. Sensei said that I need to slide my leg and drop immediately after I block to successfully perform the counter. That's cool, since its something that I can work on in the future.

Overall, it was a pretty good workout. I'm a bit sore today, but its a good feeling. One thing that I have learned is that the counters can be pretty rough when they are not done successfully, since you are taking both your and your opponent's weight in the fall. It provides some incentive for getting it right in the future.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Judo Debrief - 2/24

Last night's judo class was very enlightening. I We did a lot of walking drills, where you walk across the mat with a partner and perform a technique every couple of steps. We focused on tai otoshi and de ashi barai. I was lucky in that I was practicing with one of the black belts, so I was able to get good feedback on my technique. I did all right with tai otoshi, although I still need to work on bending my knees more. I didn't do as well with the foot sweeps, since I was often too close to uke to perform an effective sweep. Sensei said that my biggest problem is that I'm still not very fluid in my movements. In other words, I'm not moving with my partner, but sort of "fighting" him. I tend to make small, choppy steps instead of smooth steps. That is something that I'm going to have to focus on in the future.

I went against two people during randori. The first match was against one of the newer guys. He's a bit bigger than me, and he's to the point where I need to use correct technique to throw him. I focused on blocking then countering and was somewhat successful, although he did dump me on one unsuccessful counter. I was able to perform a clean uchi mata from a failed tai otoshi. To be honest, it happened so quickly that I really don't remember the full set up. I didn't even think about it when it happened; I just did it. It was pretty cool.

I also went against the black belt in randori. It was very much cat and mouse, with me as the mouse. :-) He is very good at gripping, and seemed to always get me in an inferior position because of it. My highlight was when I successfully blocked an uchi mata and sort of countered it. The counter wasn't successful, in that I landed on my back with him on top of me, but it was encouraging. Of course, we got back up, then he planted me with the next throw. Heh.

Overall, it was a successful session. I really need to work on "feel", which is pretty hard to do, but something that I'm understanding a bit more with each session. I'm also getting better with my blocks and counters. Sensei mentioned that I'm still leaning forward a bit, and suggested that I lean back a bit more (IOW, put more weight on my back foot instead of the front foot.). It makes sense, and I can't wait to try it next session.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Big Step

Well, I finally did it. I cancelled my subscription to World of Warcraft. I'm sure its not a big deal to most people, but I've played it more than any other game. My guess is somewhere around 1000 hours. Yikes!

While the game was still fun, it had that "been there, done that" feel to it. You can only "kill 1o orcs" or "bring me 10 wolf parts" so many times before it gets boring. I'm a bit sad that I didn't finish the xpac, but I couldn't get past the sameness of it all. All that said, I'm looking forward to Blizzard's net gen super secret MMO. :-)

On the bright side, I should have a lot more time to play other things. I have a TON of minis that need to be painted. I have a TON of boardgames that are collecting dust waiting to be played. I have a TON of books that I really want to read. I'm really excited about making progress on these things once again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rome and Her Enemies

The Battle at the Crossroads DBA event is coming up this weekend, and I was shopping for some new Dark Ages figures. I ran across some nicely painted Roman Legionnaires and Auxiliaries which I picked up for a good price. I figured that they need worthy opponents, and there was a bunch of Germanic tribesmen for sale, so I bid on them. Sadly, they went for way more than I wanted to spend. Rats! But wait, here some some Gauls and some Carthaginians. Ah, cool, two birds with one stone! I won that set of auctions. Yipee!

When the figures arrived, I realized that I had some holes yet to fill. You can't have Carthaginians without any elephants! Luckily, I had an old DBA Later Carthaginian army bag. I pulled the two elephants out of there and painted them up. Voila! Hannibal will be pleased.

Hmmm, there was still a hole, though. Two of them, in fact. First, the Gauls need chariots, and I don't have any of them lying around. Second, there are two types of warband in DBx, one with three figures on a 20mm deep base and one with four figures on a 15mm deep base. Double rats! Looks like I need some chariots and a whole bunch more barbarians.

A trip to the local gaming store moved me in the right direction. I picked up the Corvus Belli Gallic DBA box. Now I have three chariots primed and ready to paint as well as 24 more warriors (28 if you count the command stand).

While all of this was going on, I realized that I had incorrectly based my Roman auxilia. Of course, I needed to paint a couple more guys to fill in the missing spots. Oh, and the original Romans that I bought finally arrived from Thailand. There's another batch of guys that need to be based. And while I'm at it, I might as well finish off the command and cavalry stands that I have half done. Whew.

Of course, none of this contributes to any of my Dark Ages armies. And the final blow is that I won't even be able to go to the event this weekend. Doh!

Command and Colors Ancients

As part of my renewed interest in all things Roman, I pulled out my copy of Command and Colors Ancients last week. I really like the whole series (except for Memoir, the WW2 title), but I think that C&CA is my favorite. It does a good job of capturing the feel of ancient combat (or at least a feel that jives with my reading and other games I've played). Its also the most refined version of the C&C card-driven orders system. Unlike the other games, you always have something to do. The key is selecting the correct order from your limited set of options. Do you strike now with what you have? Or do you wait to try to set up a multiple turn combination.

Anyways, I read through the rules and played through two games from the Rome and the Barbarians expansion. The first game was one of the first in the book, and pitted a Roman scouting force (mix of medium cavalry and foot skirmishers) vs a group of Gallic auxilia and a couple of warrior units. IIRC, the fight wasn't really that close. The Roman skirmishers were able to inflict a few casualties and the cavalry was there to finish the job before the Gallic warriors could really engage. I believe that the scenario was a learning scenario, since the game ended after only 4 banners were captured.

The second game was much more interesting. It involved a Gallic ambush of a Roman camp along a river. (I can't remember the name of the scenario right now. Doh!) Anyways, the Gauls charged the Roman positions with a line command and took serious casualties. The Romans were able to bring their heavy infantry up to the front and knocked out several of the units, giving the Romans an early lead. After several more turns, the Romans had cleaned up most of the initial assault and were only a banner or two away from victory. The Gauls decided to delay with the remainder of the center and attack aggressively on the flanks. They were able to grind up the light troops on the Roman right flank and capture the Roman camp, resulting in a handful of banners. The Romans kept pressing in the middle, but the Gauls were able to withdraw with minimal casualties. It came down to the last banner, with the Gauls getting lucky and killing a Roman unit for the win. It was a really cool scenario.

I'm looking forward to playing more Command and Colors scenarios in the future. I think its a really cool, playable system.