Phillips Double Barrel Scotch Ale Thursday, May 20 2010 

Beer Label

Yum!

Franaine and I agreed it is probably our favourite beer of all time. We split a large bottle during our last game of Basic Impetus. Man, it was good.

Since F does all the set up and provides most of the figs and rules sets, I take it upon myself to come armed with a different beer or two each game. There’s a huge variety of interesting stuff on the market these days, so no end of choice.  Often I go with whatever beer has the most appropriate name to go with whatever we are playing.

All of which is to say… time to add a new category to the blog: Reviews of beer we’ve drunk during the game. I think I’ll tag it ‘beer’.

Here’s to you Phillips brewery… so far, you are the reigning champ.

-Dan

Back to Basics… Basic Impetus, that is Tuesday, May 18 2010 

28mm Punic heavy infantry miniatures

Franaine's veteran Punic infantry, the best looking unit in the game.

We are back to playing Basic Impetus, wargame of choice for me. I’m still surprised at what a taut, interesting game BI produces and usually in well under 2 hours.

Our last two match ups were Carthage vs. Rome. Both ended as decisive Roman victories. With VBUs of 6 and pila, the Legions are just brutal. I’m guessing that a Carthaginian victory requires a bit more finesse and a bunch more luck.  For now, though, we are going to try out Force on Force for a change of pace. So the rematch will have to wait.

I think that what I like about BI is that the restrictions on movement mean that your moves really matter. There is a surprising amount to think about, for such a simple rules set.

The other thing that seems to work well is the uncertainty of how much damage you will take in a combat — flub a cohesion test and your unit is GONE.  In reading the rules, I really doubted it would work. Yet it really does. There are usually great swings of fortune in the game and issue is exciting, without becoming arbitrary. I’m surprised. I really thought I’d prefer a game that allowed for a slow incremental wearing down of opponents.

I remember reading on Geektactica that he was back to playing Basic Impetus instead of Impetus. At the time, I thought “How could he stand to do that?” But BI is a very good game in its own right. Especially when you consider it is free. And you could get a pretty satisfying army out of two boxes of 1/72 figs, or about $20.

Sorry to sound like I’m the Impetus salesman. Really, I’m not on commission!

Desktop Tower Defence Friday, Apr 23 2010 

I’ve hardly gamed at all since before the Olympics. Busy with work, restaurant, bees. Franaine and Maggie bought a house and moved. Of course it took a while to pack and unpack.

I’ll shortly post pics of our last two games: a cowboys vs Indians using Legends of the Old West and a British vs Soviet clash using Cold War Commander.

In the meantime, here’s a link to my favourite tower defence game. Warning: it involves some real problem solving and is indeed “surprisingly addictive”.

Zombie Apocalypse? Sunday, Feb 28 2010 

Weirdly quiet day here in Canada for a couple of hours. We were down at Cabin 12 watching the Olympic gold medal game against the US.

There were almost no cars the whole time.

I wish I had before and after video… or before and during… or something.

Anyway, what a squeaker of a game. Stress-filled nailbiter. I am exhausted.

Warhammer Ancients: Picts vs Saxons Sunday, Feb 14 2010 

Had a great game last night.. but forgot my camera, dammit.

I took the Picts, just because they had a chariot. I hate chariots in the various Warhammer rules sets.  They are just too mobile and powerful and enduring. Can’t see why anyone stopped using them in the real world if they were so effective.  Anyway, I decided I’d rather not face any.

The matchup was interesting: two highly mobile, light infantry armies.  A bit to our surprise, it turned into a meat grinder.

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I won the initiative and move both my wings forward, leaving my centre screened by skirmishing bows. They drew first blood but didn’t manage much else. They did, however, force me to keep a unit in reserve behind them.  Having a reserve is coming in very helpful now that I am forcing myself to do it.

Franaine’s Saxons had a good deal more skirmishers and most also had the Saxon buckler rule: any ones in your to hit roll can be rerolled. Cool rule.

Franaine moved his javelin armed troops up close, prompting me to charge in the second turn. On my right, the Picts routed the skirmishers to their front, overran them and carried on into a second unit of skirmishers. They’d die quickly on turn three, leaving Franaine wondering about how short a game it was going to be.  Particularly since my warhounds on the left and nobles in the centre charged his skirmishing bows in the Saxon centre, making  short work of them and then slamming into the Saxon’s behind.

I made two critical mistakes at this point.  First, I forgot how stupidly easy it is to get flank charges in when playing Warhammer. I wheeled my nobles slightly before they charged, making sure they only contacted one Pictish unit when they blew through the bows. This meant they got flank charged in Franaine’s turn. Second, I threw the hounds into the battle.

Predictably, I came off worst in the ensuing melee.  I failed the resulting morale check, but passed admirably on a reroll allowed by the battle standard. On my right, the victorious unit reformed to face the Saxon centre. On my left, Franaine’s warriors charge my unit. Again, I lost the combat, lost the morale check, but passed the reroll.

In my next turn, I had my bows fall back and my chariot-borne general take up a position between my reserve unit and my unit on the right. Again, my nobles lost the combat, failed their morale check and then passed the reroll. But Franaine took out the hounds and began lapping around the nobles. In the combat on the left, I managed to squeak a tie.  In his turn, my nobles again lost, failed the leadership test, but passed the reroll. And the unit on my left lost, failed the morale check, and passed the reroll.

However, a time of reckoning was at hand!  I had the general and two fresh units to charge into the melees. The two units could charge the Saxons who had flanked my nobles hitting them in the rear. And my general could charge the flank of the unit that was fighting on my left. Even though it was dumb to do so. But it seemed so suitably Dark Age. So, I charge the general in, then charged my unit from the right wing… and that blocked the last unit from being able to charge. Why oh why did I have to throw the general in?

At this point, I was still quite hopeful for a crushing victory. Just to be safe though, I did the combat with the general first. I didn’t want to lose the other combat and have the Saxons pursue into the general. My general, I have to say, had great STATS. Four attacks, skookum WS, four hits… no wounds.  Damnit!  I should have been able to turn the tide of that melee! Instead, we tied.

In the big combat in the centre, I rolled for the awe inspiring rear charge. I think I managed to kill one guy. Things were starting to get a little fuzzy.* When the dust settled, Frainaine won the combat. My nobles tested, failed, but passed on the reroll. My fresh unit that charged the Saxon rear tested and failed, then rerolled and failed. And broke.  AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!

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All of a sudden things weren’t working right.

In the next round, my General put on an other prodigious display of hit generation, followed by no wounds. By this time, we were both giggling like little girls. To top it all off, Franaine remembered to have his general challenge the hero with the nobles. Over two rounds, the flower of Pictish chivalry was cut down. The rest of the Pictish nobility died around him… stubbornly refusing to break.

The victorious Saxon general charged over the bodies of the noble Pictish nobles and charged the flank of my General. My guy died like a man, quickly and quietly.

The other Saxon unit from the centre reformed to face my reserve, while my broken unit rallied and reformed.  I charged his front and flank and he broke quite satisfyingly at the bottom of the sixth.

The battle came to a very fitting end, a drunken draw with me having four big units left but no general. He had a victorious general, but only two unrouted units (both tougher than mine). The exhausted participants yelled insults at each other, but didn’t have any more fight in them.

All in all, a good game that looked like it was going to be a massacre at the beginning. My initial dispositions were good and it showed in the early stages. But then I made mistake after mistake. If it hadn’t been for my nobles proving unbreakable, I’d have lost for sure.

Happy Gaming!

*We often like to have a drink with our game, though never enough to get drunk — we’ve both got young kids. Last night, though we had a whiskey each while we thawed out the beer that I’d forgotten about in the freezer. We opened the oversized bottle of “Old Cellar Dweller” barleywine style ale and poured ourselves a couple glasses. Then two more. Then we realized that the beer tasted so strong because of the 12% alcohol. Oh lordy.  We wrapped up the game at 11:30, but I had to walk the drink off to be cold sober before getting behind the wheel. It was 1:30 when I got to bed.

Wars of the Roses Battle Report Sunday, Jan 24 2010 

The forces arrayed at the startI finally got the pictures posted on Flickr.  Go here to view them. There are descriptions of the flow of the battle with each picture.

Or you can click slideshow, then click show info once at the slideshow.

This was just a great game!  I enjoyed it so much, I raced home and spent $152 online at Black Tree Design for a range of medievals.  Looking forward to the day they show up.

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For those not Flickr inclined. Here’s a quick recap.

We set up the usual way, but with a smaller than usual table. This may not have worked in my favour since I had light cavalry who didn’t have room to move without being showered with arrows. Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, given that I set them up in the centre of my line and couldn’t get them to the flanks. I find I have a gift for being as incompetent as the historical commanders!

Franaine wanted to have a mostly infantry force, so only had one unit of mounted nobles. He also had four shooty units to my two. And he was using the Wars of the Roses Tudor list while I was using the Tudor Wars list, so my longbow weren’t as good.  However, my horse were all Bretonnians standing in as historical figures so were particularly dashing, brave and disdainful of bowfire.

At least they were before the shooting started.

Franaine pushed forward quickly and the arrows started taking out the horse FAST. In fact, it looked at the start that we might get two games in that evening, if I was up for two good trouncings.

At the same time, his troops were out of range of mine or screened by his skirmishing handgunners. Both skirmishing and using gunpowder against my horse! How thoroughly unsporting! My return fire was ineffectual against the skirmishers.

And then, things turned as they so often do in Basic Impetus. The longbow on my left took out his French mercenary crossbow and another unit, while the billmen on my right braved the gunfire to cut the skirmishers down.  The last of my four units of horse, with the General, seemed impervious to all missiles and projectiles and thundered straight at their tormentors. Oh, it was satisfying!

And then…

Another BI swing of fate: the charging general and his retainers couldn’t beat the longbows in hand to hand. My billmen were fighting admirably, but were also blocking the line of fire of half of my longbows. The other longbows had run out of targets. The other bills were slowly, so slowly trying to catch up with the general. My offensive ground to a halt. Satisfyingly, it was not just a result of the dice rolls, but because of my deployment and because of my moves. Franaine was outfighting me, pure and simple.

Worse, Franaine does this irritating thing: he keeps a reserve.

Sure enough, my general eventually routed the bowmen, only to be charged by Franaine’s horse and swept from the table.

In the end, I came within a point of breaking his force. It turned into a tense and interesting game, even though it looked like it would be a cake walk at the start. This seems to keep happening in our BI games, I am happy to report.

Happy Gaming,

Dan

The blog formerly known as “Dan’s Warmaster” Sunday, Jan 24 2010 

I never much liked the name “Dan’s Warmaster”, but at least it was accurate back when I played a lot of Warmaster. Or it would have been, if I actually posted much.

So, I’ve settle on “Social War”, partly because gaming is social for me, partly as a nod to The Social War. (If you know of a better link than the Wikipedia one, do let me know. Wikipedia is great, but it would be nice to give someone else a little exposure.)

I’ve been doing a bunch of reading on Roman military history lately. Oh, I’d love to do the Social War. But time and money and common sense are prevailing.

Of course, if you desperately want to give me an army or two, they’d have a warm, loving home.

Two books I’d recommend as light reading, but heavy learning: Adrian Goldsworthy’s “Roman Warfare” and Philip Matyszak’s “Legionary: The Roman Soldier’s Unofficial Manual”.

War and National Lampoon Saturday, Jan 23 2010 

This just cracks me up: The Naked and the Well-Read.

Basic Baroque ECW pictures and battle report Sunday, Jan 17 2010 

I’ve put our first Basic Baroque game up on flickr. The picture quality ain’t great, but it gives a feel for the game.

To view:

  • Go to the ECW photo set.
  • Then click ‘slideshow’ in the upper right.
  • Then click ‘show info’ in the upper right, to get the battle report.
  • You might need to change your options to slow it enough to read.

It was a fun game, I have to say.

Black Powder Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

Franaine ordered Rick Priestly’s new rules. They arrived today.

Initial report: they look so damned good that you won’t be able to focus on the text long enough to learn the rules.

Can’t wait to see them. I hope they don’t ruin me for normal rule sets.

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