Monday, April 17, 2017

300,000 hits and a history of my solo gaming

Introduction
The Russian bots hit for a while late in 2016 and have managed to push the blogs hit to 300,000 earlier than I expected.  So here we are anyway!

First up,  would just like to again say that joining the gaming blogosphere has been one of the best choices I have ever made – the community spirit is fantastic and rewarding.  It has been part of my life for the last 7 years and is still great to be part of it.

After the stats and a review since 200,000 there a bit of a ramble on my solo gaming experience to date, if interested.

Stats
It has been 19 months since 200,000 hits.  I finally managed to crack the 100 followers in January 2017 – something I never expected to ever see when I first started this blog almost exactly 7 years ago in 2010. At least my wife now believes that people are actually reading what I write :-)  My hit rate per month have been relatively consistent for the last few years (about 4,000-5,000 per month), probably because I still only post on average 24 posts per year.  I have diverged very far from what I first started the blog for: replaying the same ancient battle using different rulesets.  Every year for the last 3 years I promise myself I will get back to this aim but get distracted by other projects.  Maybe next year (maybe not!).

Most popular posts/pages (via Google Analytics, not Blogger):
  1. WW2 rules ramblings and draft rules (page)
  2. Starfire Miniatures game
  3. Peter Sides ancient Scenarios list (page)
  4. Ancient Reviews battle report links (page)
  5. Cold War 1986 first game with Tank Wreck!
  6. 6mm British 7th Battalion 1944 at La Londres
  7. Take Cover!! WW2 rules review
  8. 6mm British 7th Battalion 1944 at Contour 180
  9. Irregular Miniatures rules review
  10. NUTS! Comic Battle Report Cheux Game 01

The top three are the same as at the 200,000 mark and there are a few of the newer posts on the list, while a few have dropped off.  Once again, I add this comment:
Don't use Google Analytics if you love your blogger stats! While you can do far more analysis and detailed drill downs on blog data via Analytics, the actual hits are only about 30% (or are for me) than reported by blogger due to not recording bot or known spammers.  The 30% actual hits is even a lower ration than the previous 100,000 (100,000 to 200,000) where actual hits were 50%.

Gaming Overview for 200,000 to 300,000
Since 200,000, the very first thing I did was play 30 games in 30 days with my own ancient rules (Ancient Battlelines Clash) to test out a programmed opponent.  It went well but since then ancient games at home have be sparse.  It has mostly been WW2 gaming testing out versions of my own rules. The good news on this front is I think I am finally settling down my own rules into something I will not drastically change very much.  From now on it is likely to been tweaking slightly rather than the large modifications I keep making every few months.   Of course, I say that now and look forward to eating my own words as I may write this exact same sentence in a year or two! (for more on my journey with the WW2 rules see this recent blog post).

I still play almost all my wargames in the map drawers on 2’x2’ (or close to that) with the occasional 20mm WW2 game on half a table tennis table.  For 2017 I am participating in the 6x6 challenge set down by Kaptain Kobold and this may be finally make me play at least two of the many boardgames I have collected and not played over the last 30 years.

My children are now 8 and 10 and I find I am playing a lot more family oriented games in the evening with them such as Sushi Go!, Adventure Time Love Letter, Uno, Ludo, Ghooost! Cluedo, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Snakes and Ladders, Warhammer Quest etc.  If the game is longer than one hour, we don’t seem to be able to fit it in.  It also needs to be able to be played with the 3 of us and co-op games seem to be on the agenda more and more.

During the last couple of years I did get in a one solo non-ancients or WW2 game (medieval ships).  I have re-ignited face to face games with Andy – recently Memoir ’44, Dragons Rampant and Triumph – which I have enjoyed immensely and this, along with playing with my children, has made it harder to solo game as FTF is more fun!  I also got in some some other games with friends (e.g. Wings of War, ThunderBirds).

This face to face gaming increase with family and friends has made me grapple with what I want from solo gaming as I really only started solo gaming in 2010 with the start of this blog. The problem is I don’t think I can explain it all without some background, which I keep to a minimum below – well, my definition of minimum.

My solo gaming journey so far 

The Early Years
I have been miniature gaming since I was 14 (1979) doing mostly WW2 with Tractics but some Ancients up until about 2000. In that time I do not think I ever played a single solo game, but 100s of FTF mini or multi-player boardgames (I did not really do 2 player boardgames except for some Squad Leader). For me it was all about fun and social. In fact, I did play a few RPGs but tended to talk to much (socialise) rather than focus on the game. Kicked out of one game for it (quite rightly) and realised they were not really for me.

As an aside, my peak time was 1979-1986. 1986 was when I moved in with my partner, now wife. So I slowed down a lot from 1986 and it really was about 10 games a year fading to a few a year by 1999.

2000-2006 were the IVF years. There is nothing fun about going through IVF for years – the summary is soul destroying where your entire life becomes focused solely on the IVF cycles process. They are really just a blur. I got in one game of ancients per year with a friend and one game a year of WW2 with another. I did a couple of solo games but that was more about getting out the miniatures on the table to not forget about them.

Children
But, now having two children (born 2006 and 2008) I did want to get back into gaming but being (my choice) time poor in that did not really want to spend hours playing a game, or a day at the club (meets on Sundays). So, how to get back into gaming? There was a lack of rules reports that detailed the actual mechanisms so I thought: I know, I will test out various ancients rules (my favourite period) and post the battle report with a detailed blow by blow account to show the mechanisms in action. And use the same battle to enable a comparison of mechanisms. I also knew I would not be able to set up a table for months, so set up a 2’x2′ board in the map drawers we have in the lounge room. I had never used 2’x2′ before, the smallest I had ever played on would have been 6’x4′. By using the map drawers, I could play the game over weeks and the children would not disturb it. From 2010 to about 2014 I used 27 different rulesets across two battles (Callinicum and Heraclea). Shameless plug: here is the blog page with the list of all the Ancient battle reports with the different rules:

I believe I enjoyed these games (solo) as I was getting almost into the designers head and figuring out why they had made the choices they did and how that applied mechanism to ancient warfare. Learning new rulesets was fun (except for two that were either poorly written or very badly laid out). Some people do play solo to learn new rules, and I was learning new rules all the time! and also getting understanding into designer choices and exposure to different mechanisms.

Ancients solo
Early on, I played Warrior Kings that is now revised into Rally Round the King. Warrior Kings was the first THW rules Ed published and they are for mass ancient battles. And have a reaction-type system that is the core of many THW games (note that WK and RRtK use different reactions to Chain Reaction etc as the focus is on mass battles). THW are very solo friendly and this led to a side project, that eventually because a main project to create fast solo friendly rules for use on a 2’x2′ game. It was loads of fun designing and playtesting these rules. I have have probably played 150 games with these rules. The reaction system is what makes them fun as even though I am playing both sides, the position changes so much from move to move that you are constantly having to make and revise decisions based on the current position (this is a key thing). The rules are effectively finished as of 2016, apart of filling in some gaps in the army lists. Another shameless plug to the blog page with the rules:

WW2 solo
In 2011, Dave Howitt passed away. He was the author of Take Cover!!, and owner of Britannia Miniatures. Take Cover!! is important as from 2001 to 2004 I played Take Cover socially – again only a few games a year. It was very different to Tractics, with a battalion on the table, and I found the focus on suppression and spotting very refreshing and fit my view of WW2. It is sort of a Rapid Fire version 1 clone, but I prefer Take Cover’s mechanisms. From 2011 I played a few games solo (to commemorate Dave’s legacy) and realised I do really like 20mm WW2 gaming, especially as it has terrain (unlike ancient games) that makes it a joy to look at as well as play. I also realised I still liked the rules but wanted to streamline them, and so began another project of testing out various rules changes to create my own WW2 battalion (and then company) level rules. Enjoyed playing solo because again, playtesting out new rules (even if they were my own) to see how things worked. But I have recently (last year or so) really found just playing both sides a little harder, and started to see how I can add reactions into the game (as per WW2 skirmish, see below) to make it a little more chaotic and so you constantly have to revise tactical plans (not the overall game plan though) every time you move or fire with a unit. Every time is important – my ancient rules you play unit by unit but every time you do something the enemy is likely to react, and you react to that. So the game position changes a lot after a single unit has activated.

Note: I also find that campaigns games are not really my style. I like scenarios, and I like recreating specific battles to get some sort of understanding of the challenges faced at the time. So I have not played many games that are just random setups.

WW2 Skirmish solo
In 2014 I decided to play some skirmish games. I had always steered away from skirmish games for two main reasons

(1) Individuals are very unpredictable characters and reading on WW2 their are so very varied in what they will and wont do. i was not really convinced there were rules that could capture this unpredictability

(2) using individual figures that represents an actual soldier was hard for me to differentiate from the actual battle. While playing with 1 figure = 10 soldiers or a stand of figures that is a section/squad was an abstraction, there is no abstraction with 1:1.

I am over (2) somewhat as it is a game and not reality I am representing. And (1)?  This was solved with NUTS! (the Two Hour Wargame rules). I had read about NUTS! for a long time and wanted to play it as I thought it would solve point (1). The friend who had a bunch of 54mm figures was keen (he collected them rather than gamed with them but was interested in a game) but 5 years ago he moved to England and I got the figures (which reminds me I need to get them out and play a game with them in the backyard – the children hopefully will join in). I got NUTS!, played a few games and it was everything is was promised to be. I did streamline it a little as I found rolling 2d6 so many times for so much stuff a little much for the fast game I was looking for. NUTS! definitely delivers a game that is unpredictable for solo play. And also good for co-op play with you and children against the system (i.e. the other side).  I have also since played 5Core Skirmish and while the system is different to NUTS! is has limited activation, reactions etc and is very solo friendly, and also very good!

Summing up (if you made it this far)
So where am I now in regards to solo play? I do still want to get back to testing out more Ancients rulesets. I do miss it, but find it has become a side project rather than the only project I had when I got back into gaming in 2010. I like discovering new mechanisms and how designers have approached recreating ancient warfare. I find I am not so interested in doing this for WW2 for some reason, probably as I have a great interest in ancient history, but not as great an interest in WW2 history (still an interest, just not as much!)

I do want to play more WW2 with more unpredictability. And a company level so I can play scenarios/replay battles. I am becoming a solo player that is finding it sometimes hard to play a game just by playing my best for both sides. I thought I was, but have realised that this has been more about testing out rules rather than just playing the rules. For solo play, I need the constant change, the chaos, the large changes that occur in the game position so that you have to make big decisions all the time. There are no small decisions in NUTS! There are no small decisions in 5Core. And the game changes all the time so that when you are called to make a decision, the game has changed so much since last time. And the time between each decision is not a lot either (minutes in playing time). Playing against someone else is even more interesting (as the unpredictability is even greater).

The short of it? I do see me continuing to play solo with different rules, and solo testing my own rules, but probably just not as much as I used to!

Monday, February 27, 2017

WW2 6mm Vzyama or Bust Scenario 3B Vyazma East Front 1941 battle report

Introduction
I played five games in a  the mini-campaign in the IABSM Vzyama or Bust scenario book (available at the Too Fat Lardies site).   I want to test out some company level rules, rather than the variations on my battalion level rules I used for the 5 games. So I am playing the games in the Vzyama or Bust book that I did not play as part of the mini campaign.  This is game 2 of the playtesting but I have modified the rules quite a bit since game 1.  For some detail on why I changed the rules see this blog post.

Note that this game follows on from some slight changes to the rules and so it an important playtest to see if the modified mechanisms work.  Hence there may be a little more rules-speak in the AAR than normal.  This scenario has infantry, armour and artillery so the new rules should get a workout

I am using 6mm with one base = 1 squad.   While the previous games also used 1 base - 1 squad, it was 1:3 ratio for vehicles and distance scale was around 1:2000.  The company level rules use a distance scale of 1:900 and 1:1 for vehicles.  What I did for the previous games was change inches to centimetres, For the company level rules, I make no changes - inches are inches. 

Games 1 through 5 are here:  game 1 linkgame 2 linkgame 3 linkgame 4 link, game 5 link)
Game 6, using FiveCore Company Command is here: game 6 link

Scenario
German minor victory if they take the farm complex (it is supposed to be a railway yard but I do not have anything that looks like that).. Major victory is no Russian unit may fire on the railway (don't have one of these either so it is hedgeline) or farm complex (railway yard). Meeting neither of these ends in a Soviet victory.

The table - Germans enter anywhere form the top. Russians deploy anywhere below the centre road. 
Troops

Germans

The German attackers.
Company HQ
  1 leader
  2 rifle squads
  ATR attachment
  
Zug 1 
  3 rifle squads
  50mm mortar attachment

Zug 2
  3 rifle squads
  50mm mortar attachment

Support Zug
  1 MMG
  1 81mm
  2 trucks

Engineer platoon
   2 Pioneer squads
   2 flame attachments
   2 Sdkfz 251/1

Artillery
  2 75mm Infantry guns
  2 Horse drawn limbers

Support armour
Company HQ
   1 Panzer IVF

1st Platoon
  4 Panzer IIIF

2nd Platoon
  4 Panzer IVD

All units arrive on the western table edge – a maximum of 4 units per turn.

Air Support (leader calls)
  Call of a maximum 2 bombing missions but not on the railway yard.

All Germans are veteran.

Soviets
Soviet defenders.  While there are four AT guns in the picture they only get two and I only used two.
Company HQ
  1 Leader
  1 Commissar
  1 NKVD squad
  1 sniper
  AT rifle attachment

Support Platoon
   1 MMG
   2 45mm AT guns

1st Platoon
  3 rifle squads
  Optional: One squad may be nominated as Tank Killers.

2nd Platoon
  3 rifle squads
  Optional: One squad may be nominated as Tank Killers.

3rd Platoon
  3 rifle squads
  Optional: One squad may be nominated as Tank Killers.

4th Platoon
  3 rifle squads with no ammunition – close combat only

1st Armoured platoon
   2 KV1

2nd Armoured platoon
   1 T34
   2 BT-7s (Scenario is for T35s but I have none)

Artillery
4 missions of 2 x 76mm field guns

All Russians are green except for the NKVD

The MMG, on-board mortars and artillery have been halved as each weapon base represents two.

Terrain

  • No digging in.
  • Hedges are low and provide some cover.
  • Woods are light woods.
  • Hills only climbed by infantry and tracked vehicles.
Deployment
Soviet force anywhere on the table east of the main north south road and may be dug in.

The Soviet deployment - defending the farm complex and possible approaches.
The Russian plan
The railway splitting the board makes it hard for the Russians. for the scenario, the Russians are not supposed to know the victory conditions so from a deployment view is is either control of the railways years, or opening up a corridor/getting units off the north edge of the board.  So the setup reflects opposing an approach across the board with enough concentration that can be brought on at least the centre and right flank.  Most of the armour is in reserve.  The squads with no rifles, i.e. hand to hand combat only,  are in the woods on the left flank to slow down the advance there.  They should only be discovered by running into them.

The German plan  
The Germans have 9 units and can bring on up to 4 units a turn. With no time limit it will be useful to start by probing for where the defenses are with the infantry squads and a unit of armour.  Once some of the defenses are known, I can bring on the rest where suitable.  The right flank is open and so might never make it across it.  The left flank is more closed with woods along the way and offers a better chance of approach.  Although it also offers more chance of hidden defenders.

Game
Turn Sequence (unchanged): I use card activation where on your side's colour you may activate a unit that has not yet activated that turn.A joker ends a turn. Being veteran, the Germans get 3 extra cards that, if all units have already activated that turn, allow a single support weapon or AFV or infantry unit to activate for a second turn.  For German entry, I will add one extra card per full 3 units that enter the table.  

The Soviets are all on over-watch and hidden.  The Germans enter two platoons of infantry.  Soviets decide to fire with the 1st platoon while the units are in the open and to see how the rules work out.  3 hits - one Gruppe destroyed.

Soviet 1st platoon scores first blood and KOs an advancing German Gruppe.
The Panzer IIIs come on, spread out.  Both AT guns can fire and there is no benefit to letting them get closer (other than waiting to see what else the Germans have).  At this range (less than 500m), penetration is not going to get better if closer.  Each 45mm will roll 4d6 (3d6 +2 penetration -1 for PzIII armour). Two Panzer IIIs are damaged.  A BT-7 opens up and also damages an already damaged Panzer III and it is KO'd.

On the Russian right flank, a AT-Gun and a BT7 KO one Panzer III, and damage another.

On the Russian left flank, the ATgun damages a Panzer III.
For the next turn, the German decide to bring on two more units (I just need to put the cards in the deck for them so make sure they get a turn!).

Russian 1st platoon destroys another German squad.  At gun fires and damages another Panzer III.

Russian 1st platoon destroys another Gruppe.
The nearby Panzer IIIs retailiates and fires at the 1st platoon squads and suppresses them.

PanzerIII retaliation suppresses the Russian 1st platoon.
The Germans are concentrating on the right flank - they advance the other Zug, bring on the support platoon (in trucks) and the pioneer Zug  in half-tracks.  But the BT-7s fire on the half-tracks and KO them; the engineer passengers dismount and suppresses.

BT7s (off camera) destroying the engineer halftracks.  The German support platoon dismounts into the houses at centre right.  The German 2nd Zug can be seen in the woods lower right.

So it is the next turn, and a Panzer III wants to fire at the annoying Russian platoon in the centre.  It suppressed them last turn.  Normally it would get 2d6 to hit infantry, but only has 1d6 as they are in hard cover.  1d6 at the most will cause a suppression, which has no effect as they are already suppressed.  The only way to get to 3 hits is to roll 2d6.  The only way to gain that extra die it to move to within 3" (in my rules you get one extra die for being so close).  I like this - the only way tanks have a chance to get infantry out of hard cover is to get close, or have big guns!

Both Panzer IIIs move to within 3"

In the centre, two PanzerIIIs move in close to the suppressed Russian 1st platoon (the green 'bush' is the suppression marker).
On the left flank, a Russian AT takes out another Panzer III on that flank..

A PanzerIII is taken out on the Russian left flank. 
Panzer IVs come on down the road, continuing the pressure on the their left flank.

The Panzer IVs  come one - the grey tanks at top and on the road.
The Russian 1st platoon in the centre attempts to recover from suppression.  They roll only 1d6 (compared to 2d6 for regulars) and need a 4+.  They roll a 1 (a 1 is a rout).  Oops, they rout.  It is not easy being green.

The suppressed Russian 1st platoon in the centre, just before they fail morale and rout. 
A German Gruppe, the rest of the platoon, was walking through the woods and comes across the Russian 4th platoon (the Russians without rifles).  Close combat!  Germans roll 2 hits, Defenders roll none and so lose 2.

Single German Gruppe encounters two Russian sections in the woods and the Russians lose.  
On the Russian right flank,  BT-7s fire at the Panzer IVs coming down the road and it is destroyed.

BT-7 fires at the leading Panzer IV and destroys it.
Panzer IVs retaliate and KO one BT-7 and damage another.  The Russian AT guns also open up on the advancing Panzer IVs and damage one, and pin another.

A PanzerIV further down the road retaliates and  destroys the BT-7
German Zug in the woods runs up the hill to attack the suppressed tank and the MG.

This is the hill on the Russian lower right flank.  The BT-7 is suppressed (the green bush marker) and the Germans have raced over the hill and one Gruppe is engaging the Russian MG team.
The tank is destroyed and the MG is routed. T34 at the bottom of the hill activates and moves out of the way

German Pioneer Zug move into the woods in the centre.  I was worried that the Germans may not have enough infantry to take the farm complex, but they may actually be able to pull this off!

The same centre woods that the lone German Gruppe defeated the two Russian sections.  This is the German side and the Pioneer Zug has made it to the entry to these woods as reinforcements,
The German MGs advance from their left flank woods to the top of the hill in the Russian lower right flank.  The Russian KV-1 moves to the edge of the train line. The Germans get a lot of extra activations and move up various infantry Gruppe.  Of note though is the stand that melees with the AT gun that subsequently routs.  The Germans are working their way down their right flank and the centre, using the terrain on either side of the road to advance down that flank.

German Gruppe charges the Russian AT Gun on the Russian left flank.
Germans flames the last of the Russian no-rifles section and they are destroyed.

The centre wood is cleared and the Germans flame the house below the wood to destroy the last of the Russian 4th platoon (that was defending these woods).
The rest of the Zug move from these woods across into the woods adjacent to the farm complex. A steady advance by the Germans down this flank is paying off!

After clearing the woods and the house the Germans advacne to the woods to the right of the farm complex. 
More infantry pour from the hill across into the wood.  The lone section in the woods pins an advancing infantry.
More German infantry come through  the centre woods and into the woods next to the farm complex.  A lone Russian defender can be see in the top left of the woods.
The Russian platoon guarding the left flank moves to wards the farm complex.

On the other side (the left) of the farm complex, the Russian 2nd platoon moves to help defend the farm complex.
The Russian commander calls in some artillery into the German MGs across the hedge but only causes a suppression.

Russian artillery suppresses some units in transit between the woods.
The Germans have managed to find a path down their left flank and thrown as much as they could down this flank.  The Germans are now in the woods next to the farm complex, but it is made up of a number of buildings and will be a tough nut to crack.

Overview of the state of the game - circles are Russian defenders, arrows are the general line of advance performed by the German forces. 
Germans advance into the woods next to the farm complex to attack the lone section.  With really really bad rolling, all they manage to do is force the section to retreat into the farm complex.

The single Russian section on the woods (centre) is suppressed and retreats into the farm.  
Now the woods only have German troops in them, the Russians commander calls the artillery into the woods to the right side of the complex, One Gruppe is KO and the rest are pinned.

The Germans flamethrowers that are with the Engineers in the wood next to the farm complex open up at the nearest farm buildings.  The Russian section in each building is destroyed.

Although pinned, the flamethrowers open up on the nearest farm buildings and clear them of the the defenders.
On the left side of the farm, the KV-1s open up on some German armour in the centre, suppressing one and KO'ing another.  This at least denies the Germans of some valuable armour support for their probable assault on the farm.

KV-1s destroy one PanzerIV and suppress another.
The Russian T34 shoots and destroys a PanzerIV that was coming around the woods.

The T34 has been hiding behind the woods that are full of German infantry.  A PanzerIV attempts to engage but is destroyed  
The Germans race the engineers they can out of the woods and into the farm complex.  It is the victory condition after all and it will be harder to kick them out of buildings.  There are still Russians floating around, particularly the T34 just outside the woods; and not even mentioning the Russians massing on the other side of the farm complex!  Two engineers manage to force themselves into building occupied by the Russians.

Russian defenders circled on the left.  Germans have a foothold in one building (centre right) and their is a lack of defenders in the other buildings on the right of the farm complex.

The Russian platoon behind the hedges on the other side of the farm complex race into t farm complex to try and kick the Germans out.  Repulsed from one building and locked in melee in another.    They continue to attack the Germans foothold with the units in the farm complex.  One Germans routed in one building, but Russians rout from another.  Building fighting is very bloody in these rules.

The Russian 2nd platoon, on the left of the farm, charges from the left and clears the Germans from the right in close combat! 
The Russians have been checking force morale  for a little while now but have always passed.  But now they roll not so good and get the order to pull back - so they retreat 6" and are suppressed.  I am not sure how they will recover.  In fact, they will not recover as 6" takes them off the board.  Even if they pass the morale, the Germans have part of the farm complex and still have enough infantry to shrug off counterattacks from the remaining few Russians.

Alas; while the counterattack was successful, too many losses on the Soviet side see them pullback off the battlefield.  A victory to the Germans.
Verdict
Emotions ran both  ways during this game - I loved the way the rules worked, but felt the table was a bit crowded for the rules, mostly in the number of tanks. Although the scenario is not that large, for me it felt like an epic!    The Germans did not use the air support at all due to being risk adverse with the German commander, but also because the only way to find the Russians was to get into a close firefight with them, and a bomb would effect both sides.  Another great scenario with the only caveat that I was playing it again on such a small restricted table I would reduce the number of tanks by about 30%.

I have also played 3 games with these rules but at 20mm where I doubled the distance measurements.  So I think for future games I will use inches for 20mm and centimetres for 6mm (like I used to) and modify the rules from inches for 6mm so that they reflect 20mm and inches (and then that way it will be easy to then use cm with 6mm figures)  The latter was not helped by the fact that the Germans concentrated down the pass through the woods.  Lastly, after this game and the 3 20mm games I am going to increase the dice rolled for MMGs (back to what I had a few years ago!).  At the moment they are really just like a infantry base that fires a bit further - there in no sense than infantry sections should hold them in a bit of awe and be a bit nervous around them.  I just need to write this all up!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Triumph game - Athenian Vs Achaemenid Persians

Introduction
Andy and I have played four games of Triumph! so far (only two of these made it to a blog post).  This is game five and Andy is using his Athenians rather than the Parthians he used for the other four.  Once again neither of us read the rules prior to playing.  We did not look up the rulebook very much - going with what we thought was correct base don what we remembered form reading them 4 months ago, and some of the rule lookups we did with our games last month.

Basing and board size
Andy created a board the right side - 64cm x 96cm.  And all his Athenians were based correctly for Triumph!  Mine are DBx based and so a few of them I used two bases one behind the other to represent a deep single unit.

Troops

Athenians: 1xElite Foot (General), 9xHeavy Foot, 1xLight Foot, 2xSkirmishers, 2xRabble, 1xJavelin Cavalry
Note that hoplites are classed as Heavy Foot and not Spears, and not quite as good as Spears.  But you can have more of them as they are 3 points, not 4 as for Spears!   


The well painted Athenians hoplites.
Persians: 3xJavelin Cavalry (one with General), 4xArchers, 2xPavisiers, 2xHeavy Foot, 1xBow Levy, 1xHorse Bow

The mostly average painted Persians.
Deployment
Both sides have similar Invasion and Maneuver ratings (used to determine terrain choices and attacker/defender) and the Persians became the attacker.  Athenians were the defender and so used Arable that has a compulsory village.  Having no village we put down a log house.  No special rules for villages - they are classed as difficult terrain that blocks LOS.

Neither of us wanted much terrain but I rolled the maximum (6 pieces).  All our current terrain is double sided rough or hills so that is what was placed with the village. The village (difficult) and the rough (also classed as difficult) that was deployed at the edges of the centre zone really constricted the useable space.

Deployment showing terrain placement
Plan
I took a few minutes on my setup (I had to deploy all my units after the Athenians had deployed only there battleline of a row of heavy foot).  I did consider putting the cavalry on the left flank and race around the rough going.  However they are my best troops against the hoplites (heavy foot) – it would be +3 Vs +3 and my worst result (being doubled) is an evade, while for the hoplites/heavy foot it is destroyed.  So I put the cavalry in the centre. I then looked up an archers and bow levy are not effected by difficult (something I did not know when placing terrain), So I put them on the edge of the battleline to move into the difficult terrain.  Pavisiers (Sparabara) are not great against heavy foot, and so put them to the edge as well.

The Athenian non-battleline units saw the Rabble and cavalry unit on their right flank to protect it against my lone horse bow and anything coming through the difficult terrain in that side, the light foot and skirmishers on their left flank to enter the difficult terrain and protect that flank.

Game
Pictures are almost all from my side as I was sitting down with the back of the chair against the wall - too hard to keep getting up.  Some of the pictures are a little blurry as I was more invested in playing the game than ensuring the shot was perfect!


I rolled low PIPS for the first three turns while Andy rolled high.  The first few turns, at least for Andy, was positioning.  I think all I did was move my battleline and left flank bow levy up.  Bow levy are OK in difficult.



After the first turn.  
I rolled low again and so, wanting to see how it all worked, pushed my three cavalry up against the hoplites.  One hoplite down down.

Moving up the Persian cavalry to attack the hoplites...

...one down (on the left).  Lots to go.
A reserve hoplite on the Athenian right flank moves up to shore up the end of the battleline that is missing due to the just destroyed hoplite. It engages the cavalry and it too was destroyed.

My bow levy was destroyed in the first go of combat (against Light foot).  My plan of them defending that flank for awhile has gone awry.  Lucky I have some archers in reserve.

Persian Bow Levy destroyed centre.  Another hoplite destroyed at the rear (in front of the cavalry).  I did not notice the skirmishers that turned in the rough to be on the flank of the Persian line..
I did not notice the skirmisher turn to face the javelin cavalry and on the next turn the general was flanked and destroyed.   I think that is possibly two, or maybe three times, out of the last five that I have lost my general early on! Losing a general means everything costs an extra command point.

Persian general has gone. note that the Persian cavalry on the left will shortly get attacked from three sides and last for 4-5 rounds of combat.  
Meanwhile, on the Athenian left flank, Andy raced his Athenian javelin cavalry (his only cavalry!) to contact my horse bow (+2 Vs +3).  The Athenian cavalry bounced and there was another go at combat just before the game ended but they faced off for almost the entire time.

Persian horse bows face the Athenian cavalry.  this shot could have been taken just about anytime during the game as this is all they did besides about two goes at combat!
Another javelin cavalry was surrounded on three sides but lasted 5-6 turns due to excellent rolling by me.  In fact, I tended to roll good for combat and poor for command points, while Andy did the opposite.

I kept pushing forwards with my archers into the rough on the Persian left and managed to account for the light foot (from Andy's perspective, the light foot let him down - they are supposed to be great for defending difficult terrain).

Persian archers advance on the left through the rough and destroy a skirmisher.

The Persian archers continue their good luck in the rough and take out a skirmisher.

On the Persian right flank the archers *finally* made it into the village and shot up the rabble. One Rabble was subsequently destroyed by shooting.  Meanwhile, the Athenian battleline is all set and advances into the Persian line.  It is all happening now!

On the left, a Athenian skirmisher is destroyed; in the centre the Athenians attack; on the right a rabble is shot at and destroyed.
With the Athenian skirmisher gone on the Athenian right flank, it is looking a bit open Vs two Persian archers so the Athenian's turn one of their hoplites to defend that flank.  In the centre, the Sparabara (Pavisiers) are destroyed (not unexpected - they are hopeless Vs heavy foot).  The Rabble engage with the archers in the village.

Sparabara destroyed in the centre.
Both armies are now near their breaking point – any one unit lost by either side will win the game for the other.  It is my turn – I shoot at the other rabble and it is destroyed.  Persian win (just).

Rabble destroyed at the right and the Athenians reach their breakpoint 
Verdict
Another great game and a nail biter.  Very close and it could have gone either way.  The gamble of putting the Persian cavalry in the battleline paid off but was very risky and not sure I would do it again so rashly.  We both agreed  a) we need to play some more games b) we both like the rules, in preference to DBA (due to the additional troop types and the rules seem to flow better)  and  c) we should really reads the rules prior to the next game.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Two games of Triumph! ancient rules

Introduction
Andy and I have played two games of Triumph! late last year (his Parthians Vs my Selucids).   These two games were definitely learning games as we were coming to grips with the rules. We organised for some more games in mid-January to gain some more experience and we got two more games in.   Neither of us had read the rules since last time we played so there was still a small bit of rulebook flipping but some were for new situations that had not occurred in our last two games.

I am not going to describe the rules in details but they share similar mechanisms with DBA but 'similar'  is the word - Triumph! does play out differently.  I am not a big fan of DBA but I do like Triumph!  More troop types, 50% wider table and the rules (to me at least) seem to be smoother to play and less fiddly than DBA (at least V2 - I have not played V3).

Basing and board size
Triumph! requires a 96cmx64cm board to play on with 15mm figures with 40mm bases.  We had only a 90cmx60cm so for the first game the centre deployment zone was kept to the correct size (as this is important for deployment) with the flank zones being slightly shorter.  The second game had a coast that we virtually deployed and so shrunk the actual area we had to the right size.

The Indians are based for DBM. Triumph! has different basing depth for many of the Indian troops compared to DBM.  Depth is important as a common combat outcome is pushback one base depth. We simply went with the using the depth of the based troops.

Game 1 - Parthians Vs Classical Indians
Both sides have similar Invasion and maneuver ratings (used to determine terrain choices and attacker/defender) and the Parthians became the attacker.  Two areas of rough were put down at either table edge that did not have any bearing on the game.  I am the Indians so the commentary and pictures are more from their side.

Troops
Parthians: 4xCataphracts, 8xHorse Bow
Classical Indians: 2xElephant, 2xChariot, 2xBad Horse, 4xBow Levy, 1xHeavy Foot, 3xHorde, 1xSkirmisher (note this force is 6 points short of the 48 points as I misread my spreadsheet total of 42 as 48).

Game
There are not many pictures for this first game and I used my phone (Nexus 6) as the camera I normally use (CanonEOS 450D) decided not to work that night (it was just a loose SIm cover I did not notice).

All the Parthian Cataphracts and half the Horse Archers have to deploy in the centre zone that restricts their setup somewhat.  Most of the Indian infantry is deployed in their centre zone.

Elephants are good against Cataphracts so I thought I would deploy them on the left and move them into the centre to attack the Parthian Cataphracts.  Not my finest tactic.

Board after Indian turn 1 from Indian side.
Horse Archers move so fast and the plan with the elephants went awry from turn 1!  Andy's right flank Horse Archers screamed down that flank and the next turn into the flank of one of the elephants.  It turns to face. My general element is behind the turned elephant so all it takes is for the Horse archer to score higher, the elephant is pushed back but cannot and it destroyed, and the general elephant is destroyed as well.   So one roll of the dice could destroy two elephants.

Horse archer attacks the flank of an elephant that has turned to face them.  General elephant is behind it.
Horse Archers score higher and both elephants are destroyed. Note that a lost general makes it harder to command (+1PIP per command) but is not an automatic loss of the game.

During the mid-game, the flanks engaged - the Parthian Horse Archers Vs  the Indian chariots and Bad Horse. The centre lines get very close, the some Horse Archers attacking the edge of the Indian infantry battleline.  Surprisingly there are no further casualties during this stage - lots of pushbacks though.

Mid game with  flanks  and the edges of the main battleline engaged. 
On the flanks, Two Horse Archers are lost. The Cataphracts charge in but lose one.  The Indians lose some infantry and cavalry and finally reach their point limit for the Parthians to win.  Different elements have different point values (from 2-4).  Games are 48 points of elements and once you lose 16 points worth you lose.

End game.  Note the Indian flanks are positioned to be crushed!
One more Parthian elements lost and they would have lost.  However, the Parthians were in a much better positions to continue to wipe out Indian units, so not sure how the Indians would have managed it!

Game 2 - Parthians Vs Classical Indians
Parthians again on the attack and a coast place on one edge.  This made the table the correct width as we assumed a 3MU (6cm) coast off the table edge, leaving 90cm playing width that was the actual table we were playing on.

I had only bought the minimum of my classical Indian force I thought I needed to play so what worried about how to address the point shortfall highlighted in the previous game.  Except I accidentally bought along 4 elephants when I only needed 2.  This was lucky as I could remove a Bow Levy and add in 2 extra Elephants to make a 48 point army.

Troops
Parthians: 4xCataphracts, 8xHorse Bow
Classical Indians: 4xElephant, 2xChariot, 2xBad Horse, 3xBow Levy, 1xHeavy Foot, 3xHorde, 1xSkirmisher.

Deployment
Parthians perform a different deployment to previous games - the 8 Horse Archers in a line in front of the Cataphracts.  The aim is to quickly split the Horse Archers off to the flanks, and best protect the Cataphracts from the Elephants, and advance the Cataphracts if required.
The Indians put the Chariots and Cavalry on the flanks and intersperse the Elephants with the Foot archers.  This turned out to not be a great deployment as the archers move at half the speed of the Elephants., so the whole battleline was too slow.  I also put the infantry hordes as a reserve to the right of the centre but they move really slow too so my plan to move them out and help on the right flank was doomed to failure!

Deployment form the Indian side

All the Parthians.  Horse archers in the front, Cataphracts at the rear

Indian centre.  Out of shot are the chariots and cavalry on the flanks.
Game
In the early part of the game, the Indian centre slowly advances.  The opposing Parthian Cataphracts play the waiting game - thery don't need to move and can wait and see how it goes on the flanks. The horse archers race to the flanks.  The Indian right flank is still closing.  On the Indian left flank, contact has already been made - this flank was to prove to be very interesting over the game with constant surprises.    One of the Elephants from the centre line veers off to bolster the left flank.

Early in the game - the flanks are in, or nearly in contact, the Indian centre plods forward.

Indian Left Flank

I cannot remember exactly how it happened, other than by good rolling but a horse archer was destroyed on the left flank. I think the Elephant managed to contact a Horse archer on the flank and it got pushed back into the Indian Chariot and hence destroyed.   It is now down the 3 horse archers Vs a Bad horse, chariot and elephant.  Fast movers Vs not so fast movers.

The Indian left flank - # Vs 3.

The Indian Bad cavalry is destroyed but the remaining Indian keep hanging on.  The Parthian horse Archers keep pushing them back where they can but never getting the kill.  An Indian infantry peels off from the centre to keep the left flank from going under.    I don't have a good picture of it, but two more Horse Archers are destroyed on this flank later on.  The only losses (the 3 Horse Archers) on the Parthian side were from this flank.  We had to refer to the rules a few times as we used all the different attack/move to flank/rear combinations you could think of  - we now know these a lot better than when we started!


The swirling chaos of the Indian left flank.
Indian Right Flank

On the Indian right flank, the Horse Archers line up ready to clash into the chariot and Bad Horse.  Will it descend into the same melee as per the Indian left flank where the Horse Archers were overcome by good dice rolls, or will it go as it is supposed to with 4 excellent bases Vs 2 OK ones?


The two sides on the Indian right flank line up for melee.
Things are going as they are supposed to - the Indian Bad Horse is quickly dispatched and the Indian Chariot is then surrounded and routed shortly after.

Bad horse gone, chariot surrounded and shortly to be gone as well.

Centre

Meanwhile the centre Indians crawl up the middle at 2 Movement Units (4cm) a move.

Indians centre gradually advancing on the Parthian Cataphracts
The Bow levy is not great against much and the Indians rolled a good command die so moved the Elephants by themselves into the Cataphracts.  Cataphracts are destroyed if outscored by elephants so it was worth a go.  But not much - a tie for one and pushed back with another Cataphract.

Elephants charge ahead of the line into the Cataphracts.  My general (on the right) is set up for defending fro horse archers on the right flank

Alas, it was not to be - a 1-6 roll next turn sees off an Indian elephant and it is game over with another win to the Parthians.  Another close game - if the Indians had managed to destroy one more Parthian element, they would have won instead.

An elephant is missing in the centre that was there in the last picture.  Gave over for a Parthian win.
Verdict
The phone pictures did not turn out as badly as I thought but I do prefer the Canon camera!

On the rules, I underestimated the Horse archers in both games.  They are +2/+3 compared to DBA Light horse +2/+2 and so I kept thinking of them as "not so great" when I should have been thinking of them as "better than my cavalry!"  And the Indian bow are classed as Bow Levy that move at a snails pace and have no shooting range (only on contact).  For the Indians, they should not plan to go anywhere much.

We like the rules and the interactions. Both games we close games which is a good sign. There were a a few rules questions we had to look up as we had last played a few months prior.  We are hoping to get in another few games soon.