The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross – 3rd Feb 1461

Stephen has fought another battle in the War of the Roses campaign…

So this is the next one in my Wars of the Roses battles.

Like all the others, the intent is that anyone should be able to game it. This was played on a 3’x2’ table using Basic Impetus.

This battle was the famous one where the atmospheric phenomenon known as a parhelion was witnessed and was interpreted by Edward of York as the Holy Trinity and was, therefore, an omen for victory. In recognition of this he took the Sun In Splendour as his personal emblem.

But a victory for who?

Order of Battle

From a gaming point of view there is one important thing to take into account – the Yorkists deployed some of their archers and cavalry hidden in the woods on the Lancastrian left. I decided that the Lancastrians could not move against these hidden troops unless they either moved or shot their arrows to revel their presence.

The battlefield itself is a rather simple affair. The river Lugg on the east border, and a ridge and woodland on the west. Other than that, it’s all open – these two terrain features dictated the deployment of troops.

Deployment

How did it go then?

Historically, the Yorkist ambush opened the battle. This had the desired effect on the Lancastrian line. Although the Lancastrians had a slight numerical superiority the Yorkist ambush did the trick and Edward of York sealed the victory.

This is how my re-fight went.

The key was obviously going to be when to spring the ambush. Since both sides were up for a fight there was no postponement of initiative rolls like in previous games – initiative was rolled for from the start. This can frequently mean that one side gets a double go – last to move in one turn and then first to move in the next turn. Would this affect the ambush?

Yes, it would.

Edward leads his knights

The Yorkist plan was to let the Lancastrian knights advance past the hidden cavalry and then be peppered by the archers and Edward of York leading his knights in a charge on the weakened cavalry. Meanwhile, the hidden cavalry would rush out and slam into the Lancastrian infantry line. At least, that was the plan.

The ambush is finally sprung

Sure enough, forward went the Lancastrian knights. This put them in range of a bow attack from the archers and a follow up charge by the cavalry. This was tempting and would probably rout them. But if things went the Yorkist way (i.e. they won initiative next turn) they could then have their cake and eat it and their plan would go the way they wanted. Had Edward of York’s omen of the parhelion been true – was it a blessing from the Holy Trinity?

Well, if it was, it wasn’t just yet. The Lancastrians took the initiative which meant the Lancastrian knights not only galloped past the archers but they also managed to take the charge into the Yorkist knights (who were being led by Edward).

The knights clash

Meanwhile the rest of the Lancastrian line trudged forward. The Yorkists, kicking their heels at missing out, nevertheless managed to spring part of their ambush and the cavalry charged into the Lancastrian billmen.

Over on the Lancastrian right flank, where they had their currours and hobilars, they decided to spur their cavalry and take the charge to the Yorkist longbows. Otherwise they’d just find themselves turning into pin cushions.

The currours advance

Although the Lancastrian knights had cleared the ambush they were still far from safe. Their charge had taken them past the York battle line, and into the Yorkist knights. They needed to pull this off or they would be in a dire situation. And pull it off they did – they pushed Edward and his knights back and followed up with a pursuit.

The two infantry lines had started sending arrows over at each other, but these long shots had little effect. However, as they closed, casualties started mounting, particularly amongst the Lancastrians. Despite the less than auspicious ambush, it could be the day would still go the Yorkist way.

The centre battleline

The Lancastrian levies took firm hold of their spears and went for the Yorkist archers who had despatched the currours. They dropped their bows and took up hatchets and swords and, supported by billmen, gave melee. The result was indecisive – all units suffered hits and stayed locked in combat.

Over in the ambush area things were starting to get dirty. The Lancastrian billmen had stood firm against the cavalry and routed them! But that wasn’t all. The struggle between the Yorkist and Lancastrian knights also came to a conclusion – the Lancastrian knights had won the fight and not only routed the Yorkist knights but had also killed Edward as well!

So much for the Holy Trinity!

Edward is gone

This still wasn’t the end for York, far from it. On the eastern flank, by the banks of the Lugg, the Yorkist infantry had routed the Lancastrian levies. In the middle it was still a mix – the two lines had yet to come to blows, preferring to exchange bowfire. This had affected both sides with no absolute winner.

In go the levies

In the west, by the woods, the ambush had come to nothing. The cavalry had been beaten, the Lancastrian knights had slipped through and killed Edward of York, and it just left the archers, feeling all alone and surrounded.

It wouldn’t go on for much longer. The Yorkist archers inevitably fell. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough was enough, and the army of York had reached its break point. Victory would go to Lancaster!

Not looking good for the archers

It had been a slight victory. Had the Lancastrians lost one more unit it would have been a York victory.

The undoing had been the poorly executed ambush. It had been a gamble on whether to wait for ideal conditions, and a gamble that didn’t pay off. It didn’t help that dice rolls had been poor all game, poor for both sides, meaning that fights drew on. Any winners in combat had generally taken such a pummelling that though they may have won they had also been left spent.

Next up is a return to St Albans…

Frostgrave: Dark Alchemy campaign

Stephen recounts a solo adventure, using some of his recent terrain builds.

I’ve always liked Frostgrave.

It is a very terrain intensive game and, if you go with the game setting, very game-specific terrain at that.

So I decided that I wouldn’t use the Felstad setting, preferring to make use of miniatures and terrain I already have to get some extra mileage out of them.

That means I use models and buildings from my large dark age/early medieval collection. So let’s call it ‘Darkgrave’, shall we?

For lockdown Osprey offered the Dark Alchemy campaign as a free download. (Ed: available as a pdf or e-book for £1.49 from Osprey at date of posting).

So this weekend I finally got around to playing it.

Dark Alchemy is a 3-scenario campaign based around a raid on a large alchemical factory. Or, in my Darkgrave setting, a raid on the ruins of a large alchemical commune.

The burning ruins

My warband is led by a druid (Witch, under Frostgrave options) called Rollo Magwitch and his apprentice, Eadberht Blackthorn.

I played the first two scenarios but forgot to take any pictures. Suffice to say that after a bit of plunder the group had grown familiar with each other, and identify any short comings. They’d made enough to pay the landlord of the Puking Pig Inn for permanent rooms as their home base.

So what follows is a report on the last of the campaign scenarios – The Spreading Flame, where they have to escape the ruins before they go up in flames!

A golden chalice up for grabs

The board was set up with ruins and undergrowth. Then the treasure tokens were placed. Then three fire tokens were placed, and then four fire-flingers – constructs that can move around shooting flames at interlopers. The warband has 10 rounds to collect as much treasure as possible and get off the board. After 10 rounds the place explodes in fire with anyone left onboard having to make a casualty roll.

For this scenario you are only allowed to take four warband members. I chose Rollo Magwitch, who teamed up Wilfred (a fyrd man), and then Edward (a slightly wealthier thane with great axe) teamed with Alfred (an archer) – meaning that each pair had a melee fighter and missile/spell user.

Edward and Alfred skirted around a ruined chapel where ahead they could see the glint of gold. However, they could also see the flickering of flames, so Alfred notched an arrow and let fly into a fire-flinger. Edward chose to duck into the ruins, hoping this would make it difficult for the fire-flinger – two targets instead of one – and maybe a chance to get around the side to either destroy the construct or make a nab for the treasure.

Rollo and Wilfred sneak up

Rollo and Wilfred had made their way around the other side of the same ruined chapel. In front of them were the ruins of a large building, possibly a chapter house or something. Same thing – gold (a chalice) could be seen, but so could a fire-flinger. Trying the same tactics as Alfred and Edward, Rollo decided to see if he could hit the fire-flinger from distance by casting a Bone Dart spell. The spell didn’t go off, so Wilfred stepped forward to block the fire-flinger in case it moved up.

Edward gets ready for a fight

Alfred let off another arrow, scoring a hit, but doing little damage. Edward continued through the building, but had miscalculated how far away he was and found himself struck by a lick of flame from the fire-flinger. If he stayed where he was it would come to no good, so he pulled out his axe and charged into the construct.

The fire-flinger didn’t last long.

Rollo also had another go with his Bone Dart spell. This time he was more successful and a flurry of small shards of bone spewed from his hand and riddled the fire-flinger. A good hit, but not good enough. Wilfred then went forward, hoping that the damaged construct could easily be dispatched. Not so – the fire-flinger gave him a good burning!

Wilfred engages a fire flinger with Rollo giving support

Having destroyed the first fire-flinger, Edward then moved forward to grab the treasure, but lo and behold, another fire-flinger had come up. The blade of his axe had warmed up nicely now, and so emboldened he decided not to wait for Alfred’s bow fire and just waded in. This wouldn’t go so well – it didn’t take long for Edward to fall under the searing lashings of the fire-flinger and burnt and smouldering, down he went.

Down goes Edward

It is hard to say whether Rollo then showed wisdom or, perhaps, opportunism. With Wilfred engaged with the fire-flinger, this left the treasure – a large gold cross – free. Rollo cast his Leap spell, bounded the ruined walls, and grabbed the cross! As Wilfred continued his fight with the fire-flinger (a fight he would go on to win), Rollo (holding the treasure firmly) fled the ruins to safety.

Rollo loots the altar cross

Alfred, having seen Edward go down, drew his arrows and proceeded to pepper the second fire-flinger with arrows. When that did for the construct, he ran forward to see what state Edward was in. There was no movement. Time was of the essence. Maybe now Edward’s soul resided with God. The only honour he could was grab the treasure and make off with it, to make Edward’s sacrifice mean something (well, that’s what he would later claim).

Alfred runs to Edward’s rescue

Now it left Wilfred all on his own, with time ticking down. There were no fire-flingers around that he could see, so he was left with a dilemma – leave now and be safe, or go further into the ruins and see what he could find.

Curiosity got the better of him.

Forward he went, where he could see a gold chalice lying in the rubble of the ruins. Unfortunately, this also drew the attention of another fire flinger. If he was quick, though, he should be able to make it to the treasure and be off before the fire-flinger got near him. There would be no room for mistakes though.

And fortunately for Wilfred no mistakes were made. He got the treasure and then sped off after Rollo, with the fire-flinger’s flames shooting out after him.

Wilfred makes off with the chalice pursued by flames

Game over.

Edward would count as still being in the ruins on turn 10, meaning that he would have to make a roll to see what happens – would he be killed or would he survive? I’m pleased to say he lived to tell the tale, but he had been badly wounded by the flames, and would have to miss a game, holed up in bed in the Puking Pig Inn until he had recovered (in game terms – he has to miss a game).

Rollo is now a level 7 witch (that may sound impressive, but levels are easy to gain in Frostgrave and you get small increases with each level. Level 7 is still very low in game terms). With the money he’s made he has managed to recruit a huscarl: Godwin. This should provide some good back bone to the warband.

The Battle of Northampton – 10th July 1460

Stephen continues his refight of the War of the Roses…

This one was never going to go well for the Lancastrians.

This is the third battle in my plan to re-fight all major encounters of the War of the Roses. Like previous games I am using the Basic Impetus rules. There were a couple of important aspects to this battle that had to be reflected if it were to be a faithful re-fight.

Firstly, due to the rain (typical British summer) the Lancastrian artillery could not fire due to wet powder. They were in the line but totally ineffective. That was easily dealt with.

The Lancastrian Battle Line

The second, and most important thing, was Lord Grey’s betrayal of King Henry. As Warwick and the Yorkist army marched north they entered into secret talks with Grey and promised they would not harm him in return for his help. What happened in the actual battle was that the Earl of March (on the Yorkist left flank) advanced against Grey (on the Lancastrian right). As March’s retinue crossed the ditch and bank Grey’s men gave way and allowed them to roll up the Lancastrian line and capture King Henry.

This would have to be reflected. I was in two minds about how to deal with this. It didn’t help that this would be a solo game so I could hardly spring a surprise on myself. In the end, I decided that if March’s troops neither fired nor attacked Grey’s troops then Grey would give way when contacted (effectively counting as loses against the Lancastrian army). This, of course, would have a major impact on the Lancastrian army, but then that’s exactly what it had in reality!

Order of Battle

OK, so let’s get on with the battle.

The Lancastrian army had ensconced themselves in a bend in the river Nene on the opposite bank from Northampton. They had put a ditch and defences in front of their position. King Henry VI was with them but the army was led by the Duke of Buckingham.

The Yorkist forces were led by the Earl of Warwick with Lord Fauconberg on the right and the Earl of March on the left. With Warwick’s skullduggery and plotting with Grey, the advance of the Yorkist forces was led by March.

Armies Deployed

Like the previous two battles, this was little more than an attack on a prepared position. Therefore, I gave the Yorkists the initiative until things got within bow range.

The last thing the Lancastrians wanted was poor dice rolling. Being in a stationary position meant their fire should be more effective. But no. The God of Battles (the dice) were against them. Warwick’s troops in the centre got within bow range of the artillery and they soon sent the gunners packing.

Warwick Urges His Men Forward

March’s men started moving up. Now, it may seem like it would be a done deal – why would I engage the Lancastrian line with March’s men? However, I did decide that if the Lancastrians gave a good account and their bowfire proved effective, and the Yorkist looked like they would take a beating, that this would prove enough motivation for Grey to reconsider and then engage March’s troops. However, the poor rolls by the Lancastrians made that look unlikely.

Fauconberg also started exchanging bowfire with the Earl of Shrewsbury.

A couple more turns, and it still wasn’t looking good for Buckingham and his men. In truth, neither side was rolling that well for their archers, but the Yorkists had the edge. March’s men carried on with their advance, still holding back from loosing their arrows.

The First Casualties

Buckingham moved up his plate armoured men at arms and his billmen, hoping the Yorkists would have the decency to engage in melee rather then sit back and keep shooting.

March’s Troops Contact Grey’s

Finally, March’s men started clambering over the Lancastrian defences. No casualties had been caused to Grey’s men and so Grey dutifully pulled back and allowed March into the Lancastrian defences!

Across The Line They Go

It was now only a matter of time. It wasn’t a case of if the Lancastrians would lose but how much damage they could cause the Yorkists before they did.

March Engages Buckingham

Buckingham swung his billmen around to try and put something in the way of March’s assault. However, the levy spearmen in March’s retinue got stuck in and charged the Lancastrian archers. After a brief melee the archers fell to the spearmen.

And that was that!

The Battle Is Over

A Yorkist win. It had been a convincing win at that – Warwick’s troops hadn’t taken a single casualty. Exactly how it happened historically. The real battle lasted less than an hour and my re-fight took only a bit longer.

Next up then, is the battle of Wakefield. Unfortunately I will have to bypass that one – Wakefield was a large cavalry engagement and I don’t have anywhere near enough cavalry bases. Shame, because the castle would make a great backdrop to the battle. This one would make a good club game when we can get back together.

Therefore, I’ll move on to Mortimer’s Cross…

Nature vs the Resurrected

Andy reports on a game of Dragon Rampant organised by Jeremey to follow our AGM, played in an MS Teams meeting. With observations and comments from Stephen and Jeremey.

Jeremey organised the forces and set the terrain, and arranged 3 different cameras to show the battlefield. Having to provide both armies allowed him to use his Celtos undead army and his completely scratch built Rock and Wood army.

One of the camera views captured by Andy

The combatants were Stephen, with Mother Nature’s Finest lead by a Rock Lord; and Andy, with the Army of Darkness commanded by a Necromancer. Both sides totalled 35 points.

Mother Nature’s Finest

      • The Rock Lord: Greater Warbeasts, Cunning, Mystical Armour. (10 pts)
      • Rock Trolls: Lesser Warbeasts.(4 Pts)
      • Mini Ents: Lesser Warbeasts, Cunning. (6 pts)
      • Light Rockmen: Light Foot (3pts)
      • 2 x Heavy Rockmen: Heavy Foot, Offensive. (6 points each)

Army of Darkness

      • The Necromancer: Elite Foot, Spellcaster (10 pts)
      • Skeleton Scythes: Elite Foot, Undead/No Feelings (6 pts)
      • Zombies: Ravenous Horde, Undead/No Feelings (1 pt)
      • Skeleton Sickles: Light Foot, Offensive, Undead/No Feelings (5 pts)
      • Skeleton Spearmen: Light Foot, Undead/No Feelings (3 pts)
      • Wraiths: Bellicose Foot, Fear, Undead/No Feelings (6 pts)
      • Flesh Eaters: Bellicose Foot. (4 pts)

We decided that Jeremey would roll unit activation and courage tests, but that the generals would roll their attack and defence dice (Jeremey – we also decided that Andy and Steven were not allowed to moan about my dice rolling!). (Andy – Oh no we didn’t!)

Once the Armies were deployed the two Generals rolled for their Traits. Stephen’s 3D6 scored 13, lucky for him, this gave a result of Boneshaker, allowing him to automatically pass one Attack order per turn. Andy (or should I say Jeremey rolling on Andy’s behalf!) only scored 5, making his Necromancer Cowardly, no Attack orders for him. Well, there’s a certain narrative logic there.

After rolling for first turn Andy ordered his unit of Flesh Eaters (on the left flank) to advance to outflank Stephen’s Heavy Rockmen, needing a 5 or more on 2D6. It was not to be, sadly Jeremey rolled low and the Flesh Eater went nowhere. End of Andy’s first turn.

On Stephen’s turn all his movement activation rolls were successful (thanks Jeremey) and he advanced on a broad front.

The Skeleton Sicklemen occupy the hill

On Andy’s next turn he managed to advance a unit of Skeleton Sicklemen on the right flank to occupy a hill in front of Stephen’s Rock Trolls, but then failed the next activation. Back to Stephen.

Bonsai charge into the Zombies

Stephen’s Mini Ents (otherwise known as ‘Bonsais’) were now within movement range of Andy’s Zombies and were required to take a Wild Charge test, which they passed, so steamed in to the Zombies killing (?) 8 of the 12. The Zombies promptly failed their Courage test despite the proximity of the Necromancer, scoring less than 1, so they promptly routed of the board. Ta Jeremey.

The Wraiths counter attack and devestate the Bonsai

On Andy’s next turn the Mini Ents were now within Andy’s Wraiths move distance and following a Wild Charge Test the Wraiths went in, turning two Ents into kindling and causing the Ents to also catastrophically fail their courage test. One unit down on each side.

A wild charge sees the Rock Trolls hoping to take the top of the hill

On Stephen’s next turn his Rock Trolls were now within move distance of Andy’s Skeleton Sicklemen occupying the hill, they were obliged to take a Wild Charge test, which they passed and went in. One casualty on each side, both passed their courage tests and had taken equal losses, so the Rock Trolls bounced back leaving the Sicklemen controlling the hill. This would be replayed a couple of times, with the Rock Trolls throwing themselves at the Sicklemen and bouncing back until eventually they forced the Sicklemen back off the hill. The Rock Trolls followed up and eventually both sides had taken enough casualties for both to fail their courage tests and rout.

Heavy Rockmen infantry charge the Skeleton Spears

On the opposite flank, Stephen had advanced his Rock Lord to within Andy’s Flesh Eater’s move distance so they also had to take a Wild Charge test, which they failed and stayed rooted to the spot. Andy did manage to get his Skeleton Spearmen to form up in Shieldwall, expecting to be charged by the Rock Lord.

One of Stephen’s Heavy Rockmen (AC/DC or Van Halen?) units then charged Andy’s Skeleton Spearmen, who managed to beat them back. Andy then charged his Wraiths into the Heavy Rockmen causing a few casualties on each side, but both passed their courage tests.

The Wraiths and Rockmen exchange blows

Stephen then sent the Heavy Rockmen back into the Wraiths, this time both units failed their courage tests and routed from the table.

The Rock Lord charges the Flesh Eaters

The Rock Lord finally charged into the Flesh Eaters, causing enough casualties for them to fail their Courage test and flee the field.

As the battle drew to a conclusion Andy only had his Necromancer on the table, whereas Stephen has both his Rock Lord and Light Rockmen (Heart and Bon Jovi fans).

The Necromancers fate is sealed

Totalling up the losses, and comparing successful Quests, gave a Stephen a total of 10 Glory, and Andy -2 Glory as none of his Quests were achieved. A decisive victory to the forces of Nature.

The Necromancer will skulk back to his lair and set about reanimating another army.

The view from the other side of the hill (or Stephen’s viewpoint):

The final Glory totals don’t reflect how close the game was – for most of the game it looked like Andy the Necromancer would win. I often had to use my units in pairs, sending in one unit to soften the enemy up and then sending in another to finish things off. Both Andy and myself were cursed with Jeremey’s bloody woeful dice rolling for Courage tests (Jeremey – we agreed not to moan about my dice rolling) (Andy – No we didn’t). Andy was also beleaguered with poor Activation rolls at the start, which allowed me to advance on him and put him on the defensive (he seemed to spend most of his time forming Wall of Spears – probably needed to increase the armour of his skeletons).

Playing via Teams worked OK. There’s always going to be compromises – some of them could be seen as fog of war. The fact that Dragon Rampant is a simple game and we all knew the rules helped. Ultimately, it was a good opportunity to play soldiers with friends, no matter what the results were.

Jeremey – for this game I deliberately picked a ruleset we knew, went for a small battlefield and only one unit had any ranged attacks. This was all to allow the game to flow with the players only able to see the battlefield from the camera views.

Black Ops – Into The Junkyard

Stephen gives an unredacted report on a Black Ops mission…

Thought I would have a game of Black Ops.

It’s been a while since I played it and having enjoyed it before I decided to have another go.

I decided not to use the stealth rules and have a simple encounter game – just to refresh myself with the rules and because I just wanted a simple face-to-face scrap.

Each side had 75 points. On one side was a group of droids and on the other a section of special forces troops. The game was simple enough – seven turns to see who can cause the most amount of damage. Both sides comprised a leader, a heavy weapon, and 5 troopers.

I used my smaller (3’x2’) board and set it up as a huge junkyard/recycling plant with loads of cover. The humans deployed in 3 groups (two lots of 2, and one lot of 3) and the droids deployed in 2 groups (one lot of 3 and one lot of 4).

Into The Parking Lot

Due to the amount of terrain both sides managed a couple of activations before shots were fired. The humans, deployed on a wider front, managed to get some troops around the flanks, forcing the smaller droid unit with the Leader into the middle. However, the large droid unit had deployed on a different flank and their numbers looked strong against the 2 man human team facing them.

The Droid Leader Commands

The humans came up through the parking lot and took fire from the droids. No casualties this time – the blasts struck the assorted junk and barricades. Locking and loading, they took up their positions and returned the gesture – one of the droids went down so it was first blood (Ed: oil?) to the humans.

Ctrl-Alt-Del

The droid leader had found himself in a difficult position. With two of the droid troopers (one of which went down under fire) he was taking crossfire as one human team took up position behind a large piece of junk and another team edged around behind some trashed vehicles. Then, bang! Down went the droid leader.

Droid Down!

And then in the following round, down went a couple more of the droids. I wasn’t convinced this was going to last 7 rounds. That said, the droids had managed to squeeze themselves into a good position and it was hard to see how the humans could advance on them without taking casualties. So a firefight ensured with both sides digging in.

The Droids Dig In

This firefight didn’t last long though. One the human teams took a casualty, and then so did another.

Man Down!

With the human position suddenly weakened the droids were able to move up and advance on the humans, despite having taken more casualties and losing their leader.

Working Around The Flanks

The game was starting to change. The droids managed to hit another human and down he went as well. On one of the flanks the humans had made good headway, but they now needed to fall back and consolidate or they would be picked off. The human leader ordered his men to take cover behind some barrels and crates. The droids moved on them, and a lucky shot took out the human leader! Just two troopers left.

Droids Bypass the Bodies

Then crafty shot from one of the human troopers dropped a droid and he rushed round, to outflank the final droid. As he did, his colleague put in a fresh clip and with gun at his hip, let rip and down went the last droid.

Game Over

Victory went to the humans. Just.

Black Ops is a great game. Once the shooting starts it can be quite deadly. A modelling project for early 2021 is to make some sci fi themed objective markers.

Slam! Dreadball: Kalimarin Ancients Versus Z’zor

Christmas Special!

Marcus reports on a Dreadball game with some teams he prepared earlier …

Recently you may have seen that I have been painting up some new Dreadball teams. I am a notoriously slow painter (this is partly because I don’t have a dedicated painting/modelling area), but I did promise a report on the game, so while the second coat of varnish is drying on the Nemion Oceanics, I broke out two teams I painted a while back: The Kalimarin Ancients (alien crustacea) and  the Z’zor (alien insectoids) for a game with Son Tzu.

A bit of background. Dreadball is a sci-fi sports game from Mantic games. I envision it as a bit of a cross between American football, there is a lot of rough stuff, notably slamming, and basketball.  As can be seen from the picture above, the game is played on a broadly rectangular pitch composed of hexagons. In fact the pitch actually looks more like one hexagon that has been stretched lengthwise. There are three strike zones in each half with the target hex at the furthest extremity from the centre. The two closest to the centre line can generate scores of one point from any hex except the furthest from the target, from which two points can be scored. Similarly, with the remaining zone, the hexes are worth three and four respectively.

A typical team has three types of player; Guards, who don’t hand the ball but are good at blocking and tackling; Strikers are good at stealing, passing and scoring; Jacks, do a bit of both. However, not all the teams have all the players.

In common with many games, each player has a stat-line. The stat line features values for movement, strength, skill, armour and speed.  The stat line values give a target figure for a success on a D6. A number of manoeuvres are available to the player, some of which may depend on a test against these values with a varying number of dice depending on circumstances. These include shooting, passing and slamming; a kind of tackle that you can do on opponents whether they have the ball or not. Often, if you double the target number, or for opposed rolls like a slam, double the opponents successes, you gain a positive result. These include a free move for a double on picking up the ball, additional fan checks on scoring (which may yield extra coaching dice) and temporarily or permanently removing an opponent from the field. Coaching dice are one use dice which may be added into any test at the players discretion, but are then lost.

Each player turn is called a rush in which the active player gets five actions. Players can add actions through the use of cards, which opponents might also use to interrupt the rush. Cards can also introduce random events. None more frustrating when having orchestrated a four point shot, you find that your opponent lays “The ball shatters” just when you are about to shoot! Finally, there are a number of special rules relating to individual players or teams.

In this game the Kalimarin Ancients have two types of guard; one good at holding opponents to make slams even nastier. They don’t have any jacks and are probably one of the better teams. The Z’zor have the usual mix, although both teams have a special MVP (Most Valuable Player, of star quality)

The set up varies at the players discretion but six players is the maximum legal number of players on the pitch. Note the word legal, it is not uncommon to sneak on extra players and if you can get away with it…

Scoring works on a net basis. If one team scores a 3 pointer and the other team replies with a 2 in their next rush, the net score will be +1 to the first team. Play continues in the manner of a tug of war in an attempt to either reach +7, when a team wins outright, or to have the best score after 14 rushes.

It was the Z’zor rush first (rush is a term from American football for your “turn” or series of plays during which you retain the ball). A striker picked up the ball launched down the centreline easily, but lost the ball on having to evade around an opponent twice. Unfortunately for the Z’zor, losing the ball so unexpectedly ended their first rush. Son Tzu, who thinks of himself as something of a genius, picked up the ball with a throw of 555, resulting in an extra action for the player in possession (three successes against his skill stat. Only a double is required to give an extra action).

Moving down pitch, with his second normal action he moved another player with a sprint action (double move value but each facing change also counts as against the move total as well as hexes moved). A 6 hex pass to the sprinting player, passing the throw and catch skill checks, and the Ancients are in the near three point zone, and score, (the 4 point hex being currently blocked).  He picks up some fan checks. (Three can be traded in for coaching dice)

On the third rush the Z’zor pick up the ball which scattered into the Ancients half.  A sprint up the field by a guard results in a slam on the second action in an attempt to clear the 4 point strike hex.

With a 5 dice check at 3+, surely the way ahead can be opened up? The 5 dice yield a paltry success, against the defenders roll, with the two guards squaring off. In the meantime the Z’zor take an action to slam a pesky striker in their own strike zone; but this time a glorious 5 successes is answered by the Ancients 4, so the striker is only pushed back. Unfortunately however, this left the defender out of position…But at the other end the Z’zor striker goes for a 3 pointer, scoring easily with 2 successes. He picks up a fan check for the extra success too. It’s all square!

Rush four, and the Ancients gain possession again, slicing down field into the now undefended 4 point zone. An Ancients guard attempts to put a put a Z’Zor out of the game, but falls over in the process. However, using a card from his hand for an extra action, the Ancients are able to move up and make a point strike, with two successes on a 551, and gains fan checks for that double.

At 4-0 to the Ancients, it’s not looking too healthy for the Z’zor, but a single strike in the 4 point zone can level things up. Having picked up the ball again, he Z’zor look to open up the 4 point zone, but 6 successes (any 6 rolled “explodes” to add an extra roll) are met by an opponent slam-back and another 6!  Foiled. The Z’zor MV, Ludwig, uses a card to get into the zone and go for the 3 point strike, but requiring 4 misses on a single dice with a 3! The ball scatters off the strike zone…

…from where the Ancient’s pick up the ball deep in their own half. A scything move of a sprint followed by a throw and a catch with just one success by a striker sets up a chance. The striker evades successfully and makes it to the zone, but loses a dice for moving and shooting in the same action, making a 3 point attempt; Good enough for a sudden death victory, on 3 dice with a success on 4+.

Rolling a 621 the Ancient’s just manage a score for the win.

So another lucky win for Sun Tzu, confirming his own opinion that he is the greatest. My dismal performance at this game continues. Surely I can do better? Will the newly painted Nemion Oceanics or the anarchic (read cheating; maybe that is the right style for me?) monkey team that we have named the Golden Banana’s prove my salvation? The Oceanics are now painted despite my glacially slow painting skills. The Banana’s are well on the way…or maybe I should just break out Red Alert again?

In the meantime here is an action picture of the completed Oceanics posed with a robot team; the Chromium Chargers including MVP DBR7 “Firewall”.

Chickamauga – 1863

Stephen takes a break from his War of the Roses games to revisit the American Civil War…

I fancied an ACW game, and since I had a scenario for Chickamauga already written out for play at the club (whenever that will be) I decided I’d have a solo game and give it a go.

I don’t have enough models to do the whole of Chickamauga so I decided to concentrate on one small part – the Confederate attempt to outflank the Union left on 19 September. This would be a challenging battlefield – nearly all wooded! Normally a piece of felt on the table indicates woodland, but not this time – the felt indicated open spaces. Everything else was woodland, so would be difficult going and all engagements would be at close range. So a potentially deadly battlefield (as indeed it was, both historically and in my re-fight).

The objective was simple – the Confederates had to get a brigade on the opposite side of Lafayette Road and take fewer casualties than the Union. The Union had to stop them. During the course of the battle fresh brigades would arrive on both sides.

Let’s see how it played out…

Brannen holds the river

The Union won the initiative in the early rounds, allowing them to dictate the course of the battle. I pulled Croxton’s brigade back – he was on his own, far forward, at the junctions of Alexander Bridge Road and Walker’s Road and staring down two Confederate divisions on his own. But on the next turn I realised I’d made a mistake – an uncontested advance is just what the Confederates wanted, so I decided to push him back forward to stall the Confederates and to bring up Baird’s Union division and Turchin’s brigade (and feed in the rest of Reynold’s division when it arrived). This would hold the Confederates back.

The Confederates advance on the road

Up on Reed Bridge Road Pegram set up his artillery and got his cavalry ready for a charge against the Union line. In hindsight I should have dismounted the cavalry, but I was carried away by the romance of a cavalry charge. Whilst the cavalry got ready Pegram’s artillery started a duel with the Union artillery to soften them up before the cavalry went in with their sabres.

Confederate corps commander, Leonidas Polk, along with Cheatham’s division arrived on table in the area of Alexander Bridge Road, meaning that flank was heavily loaded against the Union. Liddell’s division led the Confederate advance and with bayonets fixed and a wild rebel yell they charged Croxton and Turchin. Surprisingly, they were bounced back – the Confederate charge didn’t go in.

The Confederates go in

Inspired by the infantry’s zeal the Confederate cavalry did likewise, and charged in. The effect was just the same – repelled by the Union line.

The Cavalry go in

Meanwhile, to the south (the Union right flank) Baird’s division still moved up slowly. This was caused by the need to keep the artillery in line with the foot brigades.

Baird’s Division moves slowly

Further south, as the rest of Reynold’s division came on, they found themselves all that stood in the way of two aggressive Confederate divisions.

Battle for the right flank

Wilder’s cavalry brigade launched a daring and foolish charge against the Confederates – outflanked and outnumbered they were shot down and cut down.

Confederate numbers start to tell

It started to dawn on the Union that the right flank was looking very weak with not much (a lone artillery battery) between the confederates and Lafayette Road. Further north, Brannen’s division held firm against Pegram and Forrest. Pegram’s cavalry had taken a mauling so were pulled back and Forrest’s infantry were pushed forward.

The right flank opens up

Baird’s slow advance actually paid off here because he hadn’t moved too far forward and was able to pull back Starkweather’s brigade and an artillery battery into an enfilading position to try and do something about the Confederates who realised how close they were to victory with little to stop them securing Lafayette Road with a mad dash.

Wright’s brigade is sacrificed

Starkweather’s repositioning proved successful. The Confederates had used Wright’s brigade to screen Jackson’s brigade’s dash for the winning line. But Wright took a hell of a pounding and paid the price – his brigade was obliterated and routed off the field. Sure enough, Jackson had made it to Lafayette Road, but the Confederates had taken quite a few casualties and lacked the oomph to assert control over the road.

Too little too late

In the end it was a historical outcome – the Confederates moved on Lafayette Road but didn’t have the manpower to completely take it. Further north, the Union troops held firm and stopped Forrest’s advance. Neither side could really claim a convincing win at this stage (the full battle went on into the 20th Sept and would ultimately be a Confederate victory).

Wars of the Roses: Battle of Blore Heath

Stephen continues his refight of the Wars of the Roses…

This is the second battle as part of my plan to re-fight all the major battles between York and Lancaster.

On to Blore Heath we go! Like before, this will be done using Basic Impetus. It’s worth saying a bit more about these games. The idea is they can be played by anyone at home who has limited space – table size for all these battles is just 3’ x 2’.

For anyone interested in having a go themselves then here’s the order of battle I put together for the game.

Order of Battle

This one was always going to be difficult for the attacker. To reflect the difficulties faced by Lord Audley’s troops I classified the stream as Difficult Going. In addition, the archer’s stakes cancel out the attacker’s Impetus bonus, and the Yorkist’s will also get a bonus for defending the hill. It’s not going to be easy for the Lancastrians.

Deployed battle lines

I decided not to waste time rolling for initiative for the first couple of turns, not until just before the two sides got into bow range. At which point initiative was rolled for because then it would be important.

Audley moved his forces forward. The infantry all moved in good order, keeping their line intact. This meant they had a few turns coming under telling bow fire.

Lancastrian advance

The cavalry initially held back, unsure where they would be needed. In the end, the currours started wheeling and moving to the Lancastrian left, where they could support the infantry attack on that flank. I nearly turned the mounted knights that way as well, to load that flank for a hefty punch. But I could see it would cause a traffic jam, so I hung them back and decided to keep them in the middle where they could support the infantry there. That would prove to be a lucky decision.

Currours start to outflank

It wasn’t looking good for the Lancastrians. Moving in slowly, against the Yorkist archers, had the inevitable effect. I wondered how long it would take and if the two sides would even come into melee. On Audley’s extreme right flank the levy spearmen had slogged forward against the archers on the hill, taking damage as they went forward. By the time they had splashed through the stream, hiked up the hill, and finally got into battle, they were all but spent. The archers dropped their bows and pulled out swords and mallets and finished off the spearmen.

First contact – it won’t go well

The Yorkist archers were proving very effective. Not only had the levies been shot away, so had the Lancastrian centre – the billmen took a heck of a pounding as they progressed. Fortunately, Audley had held back his knights in the centre, and as the bills were dispersed, he drew his knights into order and got them ready to charge.

Audley prepares his knight

It had been a reversal of fortunes on the left. Here the Lancastrian archers had engaged Salisbury’s dismounted knights on the hill. It was obvious they couldn’t stay there, with arrows falling on them. Although their armour protected them from the worst, it was still a steady drip of casualties. There was only one thing for it – Salisbury himself took control and ordered his knights to charge down the hill in a counter-attack.

Salisbury orders a counter charge

This wasn’t the only charge being made by knights. With his knights now all lined up, Audley gave mis men the order to charge through the stream and up hill against the Yorkist archers.

The classic encounter – knights charge archers

The wise money would have bet against them prevailing – through the difficult stream, up the hill, and then fighting across stakes. Historically, this is what did for Audley and how he lost the battle. But what can you do? Such a valuable asset to the army can not be left behind – at some point they have to go in, and it’s never going to be good for them under these conditions. However, the God of Battle (the dice) can be fickle. And fickle they were. Although the knights lost a lot of dice with all those obstacles in their way, they still made a good roll (4 of 6 dice rolled 6s) whilst the archers couldn’t hit a barn door (not a single hit!).

The charge proves successful

This would prove to be the decisive action of the battle – the Yorkist knights charging the Lancastrian billmen, and the Lancastrian knights charging the Yorkist archers. Whichever was successful first would win the battle.

That honour would go to the Lancastrians.

The Yorkists held the right flank…

Salisbury holds the right

…but the Lancastrians held the centre and left flank.

But Audley has a firmer grip on the left

In the end Audley won the battle by the narrowest of narrow margins – there was just one point in it!

As Pyrrhus once observed, ‘Another victory like that and we are done for.’

On to Northampton next…

Encounter at Cwm Gwyn

Stephen reports on a battle twixt Good and Evil in the Welsh Valleys…

On the border of Shropshire and Denbigh there is a lonely valley that is known locally as ‘Cwm Gwyn’ (White Valley). It has long been said that it is a haunted place. At the head of the valley there is a single stone tower – the White Tower.

For services overseas, fighting against the French, King Richard II gave the land to Sir Ursus ‘The Bear’ FitzArkus. All that was left was for this worthy knight to explore his new holdings and find out exactly what lay at the heart of the mystery of Cwm Gwyn.

This was a game of Dragon Rampant. Each side had 24 points.

Sir Ursus had with him two contingents of billmen, a contingent of crossbowmen, and his household knights.

Slowly they made their way down the wooded valley. It was only when they came to a mountain stream, the Afon Ddu, they heard the sound of a warhorn.

It would seem that rumours of a haunting would be more accurate than anyone dared imagine…

Knights advance down the stream
Crossbowmen take aim from the hill
Zombie horde
Zombies and crossbows clash
Billmen check the zombie advance
Skeletons advance
Lord Ursus descends upon the skeletons
Charge!
Things are starting to look dicey
Kluruch holds the field

First Shots Fired in the Battle of Shiloh

Club member Sean gets a few turns in fighting the exciting, close run Battle of Shiloh (April 6,7 1862) at home.

In a dawn surprise attack the Confederates threatened to inflict a pyjama-clad rout on the Federals asleep in their tents. We’re playing with modified Fire and Fury rules in 6mm and will have, when the Union soldier finally wake up and get out of their tents, about 4,500 figures on the table. There was a naval element in the battle (the Lexington and the Tyler ironclads, not the casement Carondelet and monitor Pasaic gunboats shown) and the Great Western Battles F&F scenario book allows them the strength of half a battery and an indirect fire range of 16″. Any Rebs silly enough to go within 2″ get canister. But the airforce, in the shape of the balloon, was not present, so is only for decoration.
Two Union, gunboats await the Rebs on the Tennessee River at Pittsburgh Landing
Two miles to the SW three Confederate corps face only two Union divisions roused tousled & disordered
Sherman’s division holds them up but takes losses
The Confederate columns push rapidly towards Shiloh Church, more shed than church
Meanwhile 3Corps, on the right, makes a fast march north to outflank the whole Union position

Hopefully Sean will be able to get back to this game soon with an update on the action.