Thursday 25 February 2010

Oh Well - an SoBH Battle Report

This week saw me round at MacSver's hobby shed for a Songs Of Blades and Heroes battle. This is a notoriously difficult venue to come to as he seems to have constructed his table over a dice rolling ley line which only he is attuned to. He tells me his brother-in-law holds similar suspicions. Advance apologies to my opponent if I get some of the exact details wrong as I'm working from memory.

Firstly the lines-ups. All stats are from  the core rulebook.
  • Mac's Free Company (296 pts):
    Human Leader, Barbarian Warrior x2, Human Archer, Human Warmage, Human City Militia, Light Cavalry Archer.
  • Arabian Knights ( 303 pts):
    Human Leader, Medium Cavalry x2, Human warrior x2, Human Archer, Human City Militia
Setup: We set out a standard 2'x2' playing area with a partially enclosed well in the centre. The objective of the battle was to pick up a mystic shield from the well (costing 1 action) and exit off the table on their starting side. As both sides had cavalry we ruled that mounted figures couldn't retrieve the shield.

 Both sides went with leaders in the centre to maximise their Quality Roll bonus and some forces set up touching bases for group moves. I set up my cavalry on either side as I still don't know how best to use them, so vague flanking manoeuvres were setup.

Turn 1: Macsver won initiative and rushed his leader straight in towards the well with a double move. He was closely followed by his barbarians which moved independently. The mounted archer moved up and across field to cover the well  and the other forces moved up table except for the archer who failed two dice and ended the turn. My Leader rolled one pass from two and issued a group move to the assembled troups on his left, who promptly rolled 3 fails to end my turn without a single move. Poop!

Turn 2: AK won initiative and moved his forces up together. The right hand cavalry took advantage of its long move and rushed into the ruins to head off and attack the MFC leader, only to knocked back in combat. In a temporary waiver of the ley line power Macsver rolled a double fail first roll to end the turn.

Turn 3: AK won initiative again. The knight moved in to attack the leader again, only to be knocked down this time. The AK Leader issued a group move to the warriors & archer and moved into the ruins. The AK turn finished with the AK militiaman rushing up to the well and lifting the prised shield. Macsver then brought his mounted archer up and shot at the militiaman, only to knock him back. The barbarians then rushed into attack the AK leader, looking to cause a moral caused route only for one to be knocked down and the other to draw. The warmage and militia moved up to the ruins but 2 fails were rolled again before the archer could get a move in (again).

Turn 4: MacSver won initiative. The Mounted archer took another shot at Shield holding militia but only resulted in another knockback. The warmage the unleashed a level 3 transfix spell on the opposing leader only for him to roll 3 quality passes to fend off the effects.  Battles with the barbarians (once one had stood back up) only resulted in a knockback and the leader stood his ground. The MFC militiaman flanked round the ruins to hopefully intercept any retreat and finally the archer double moved up the field of battle and killed the remaining cavalry with a single shot! At the start of his turn, the shield carrying militiaman decided to run back to home with his prize. He rolled a double move which took him off the board to victory, thanks to the 2 knockbacks from the opposing mounted archer in previous turns giving him the crucial distance.

As usual good fun was had. The initiative system in SoBH always seems to create an enjoyable ebb and flow to a game. In hindsight the board was perhaps too small and simple for a "retrieve and escape" type scenario. There should have at least been the chance of some sort of pursuit. Next time maybe adding some impassable and rough terrain in front of and behind the ruins will slow down the movement, as this action was a bit smash and grab. I think the key segment of the battle (not that I appreciated it at the time) was the resilience (ie lucky combat rolling) of my Leader. He fought off a level 3 transfix spell and 2  rounds of double barbarian attacks to defend that flank. Had he gone down there was every likelihood that my militia would have dropped the shield in a fleeing action (as in the Standard Bearer rule) leaving Mac's Free Company to waltz in and take the prize. Action of the battle was easily MacSver's Archer, who hadn't moved all battle, sprinting up the table and taking down my remaining knight with a single, normal shot. We'll have to see what the next battle brings...

Monday 22 February 2010

Skaven (Ratmen) Warband Details

As requested (who says there's no customer service anymore!) I'm posting the stats for my warband. I have to point out (remind) that there are 4 scouts already painted.

Ratman warrior 27pts Q4+ C3 Gregarious 9
Ratman Scout 24pts Q4+ C2 Gregarious, stealth 4
Ratman Leader 60pts Q3+ C3 Leader 1
Ratman Wizard 46pts Q3+ C1 Fearless, MagicUser 1
Ratman Beastmaster 46pts Q3+ C3 Beastmaster (Standard Bearer) 1
Ratman Standard Bearer 23pts Q4+ C3 Standard Bearer 1
RatSwarm 22pts Q3+ C1 Swarm, Free Disengage 4

I've not made up any rosta as such. I'll probably pick and choose for each battle until I see how best to spend the points. warband is based around the figures I have. With the exception of the magic user and some giant rat figures I've not bought to order. The glaring ommision from the list is any ranged capability (magic-user aside). This was because I found it too pricey to buy just a couple of figures. I can justify it in my Skaven swarm visiion for the whole warband.

On the Songs of Blades and Heroes Yahoo group there's a thread or two regarding swarms. Andrea (the ruleset author) thought that an effective swarm should have at least 3 or 4 bases to it. Also (in line with another thread) I've swapped the standard "cling" special rule with "free disengage". I don't really follow the idea of a swarm of rats clinging to walls, ceilings, trees, etc (although I can see why it was there). The Free disengage gives the swarm a good feel of an unstoppable tide of hundreds of bodies and will give it a more worth - especially as I have to spend nearly 30% of my points on a few bases! The beatsmaster may be a bit un-necessary given the movement rules for swarms, but he fits my theme of the warband. I've added the standard bearer rule provisionally as I can see him being the "chief whip" or Sargeant Major of the warband, so troups would rally to him. I'm sure all will become more streamlined as I play a few games.

It has been noted that a deadline for this is missing. We'll set this at the end of March. There are a few figures to paint and I've a couple of other minor projects to rush through in the next few weeks. Details of these as they are ready.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Skaven warband ready for painting.

My Songs of Blade and Heroes Skaven warband is finally ready for painting. The force makeup consists of a Leader/Hero, Magic User, Beastmaster with 4 giant rat swarms, 2 standard bearers (2 came with the ebay lot I won) and a collection of 9 warriors. I also have 4 old plastic clanrats that will be scouts. They are already nicely painted (not my me) so I haven't pictured them here, but I'm sure they'll make the final group photo.

RPG Rumble in the Jungle

A couple of nights ago I had "my" roleplaying group round to continue the Warhammer Fantasy RPG "Death On The Reik" adventure. As usual a good time was had. I thought the PCs had finally started to weigh up odds at the start of the evening as they decided to re-capture their barge from a group of local guardsmen. Granted there were 12 longbows aimed at their heads as the remaining guards seized the boat, but the only confrontation involved some taunting and a (thankfully for them) poorly aimed response before deciding that disgression was the better part of valor and let the boat away. There have been nights where I'm sure they would have just waded right in - fate points to the fore! That may have been due to our usual Dwarven player (by that I mean he plays a dwarf. Weebaldy may be many things, but he's no dwarf!) calling off ill - but who can say?

My anticipation of the dawn of a new age of roleplaying as soon put to rest by the next main action where there was the opportunity of an impromptu ambush of some enemy forces. As ever all the genius ideas were pulled out of the hat and put into action all at the same time. The Thief cleric Grendal went off on a flanking move. Unfortunately no-one backed her up and she moved upwind of the scout beastman alerting the enemy force and leaving herself alone and outnumbered. Kislev (one of the groups warriors) decided to spend more than half the battle putting a cloak further down the forest trail to a place that the enemy forces never reached. Everyone else did the standard ambush tactic of hiding except the Heinrich, other human warrior, in the party who climbed a tree to get in a surprise attack from above.

The battle quickly broke down to 3 areas:
 Grendal, all alone and outnumbered, was quickly hacked down. But somehow managed not only to remain conscious but also kill one of the guards with a mace whilst failing to stand up every round, much to everyone's bemusement.

Up in the tree tops the Heinrich waited for his opportunity to pounce. And waited, and waited, and waited before finally leaping down onto his unsuspecting foe, missing completely and injuring himself (que hilarity round the table). To his credit he did manage to get back up and wade into the fight with good results.

On the Path. Geddi, the dwarf, promptly charged in, killed the beastman and battled with a portion of the foot soldiers. The leading black knight had taken to battle with the new fresh (and unpainted) member of the party whose inexperience was showing as he tripped over tree root after tree root to reach his position. Fortunately the mage helped him out with a constant stream of fireballs (which always seem to be way too powerful for a Level 1 Battle spell!)

With their leader gone the remaining enemy foot soldiers fled, only to be mopped up some carefully aimed arrows from Kislev, who had finally made it back to the battle scene after leaving a cloak or rancid dwarf handkerchief further down the path. Better late than never.

With all the action, half baked plans (which mostly came off to some degree) and hilarity at our fellow players expense it just reminds me why this is so much more enjoyable than playing on the computer. Roll on next session...

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Photographing Unpainted figures

Not a big weekend at Arabian Towers, but a few pots were put on to boil, project wise. More on these as they progress. Having finally collected togther the figures for my Skaven warband I was going to get them photographed before painting began. I found this wee tutorial from Mithril Miniatures. I'm sure this will be old hat to some of you, but as far as I'm concerned any advice is welcome.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Shtop! Shtop! Thish palette are not ready yet.

With the preparation of my Skaven Warband taking a bit longer to get to the undercoating stage than expected I thought I'd test out my colour scheme on some unsuspecting GW Empire Militia that were lying around. If you recall from a few posts ago, I announced that the fashionable colours for Skaven this season were brown, brown, dark red and dip (actually looking back I only said dirty and dip, so you'll have to take my word this is what I meant...). So I broken out all my browns, a red, a white for comparison and got going.

The problem with painting with a mostly brown palette and then dipping a in diluted brown varnish dip is that, unsurprisingly in hindsight, the dip doesn't really work as well. Really you'd have thought I'd have realised that, wouldn't you.

There was only one thing - strengthen up the dip and go again.

Now I can tell even from this distance that you're mightily impressed by the improvements. No? Well let me at least try to convince you there IS a difference. The shadows in the face are better and at least the darker dip shows in the folds of the clothes. The crossbow figure on the right was actually dipped in the neat varnish as I was convinced that full power was needed to do something with his brown coat & boot combo. As a result of this little exercise I have altered my Skaven paint scheme away from all browns. I'll just have to decide where to go from here - adding greys probably.

Anyway the point of this post is not just to demonstrate my colour selection buffoonery, but to throw into the ring the idea of trying out your paint scheme before starting a squad and not just launching straight in. As shown, it may be a good idea.

It's basic Quantum Physics really.

According to my rudimentary understanding of Quantum Physics (I saw a Horizon documentary featuring Alan Davis on the subject a few months ago) a person can be in two places at the same time. A theory also explored in depth by Michael J Fox.

Well just to prove those great scientific minds right I am now in two places at once. Dave of  "A Year of Frugal Gaming" blog fame has invited me to join his merry band of contributors on "A Year of Frugal Gaming". I am truly honoured. Let hope I don't get invited to only concentrate on this blog after a couple of posts...

Monday 8 February 2010

Using RPG adventures to Wargame - Stage 1

Overall I have to say that the weekends experiment was fun. It definitely  felt more RPG than our normal pitch battle games. Perhaps the background story fueled this feeling. It helped that the RPG I was looking at was designed to introduce new players to D&D, so was very linear. This led to an easy set of connected encounters that could be led one to another without actually doing the roleplaying bit, which is the point. I'll looking to (skirmish) wargame here, not roleplay. Also having a small number of characters to take from one encounter straight into the next was nice. Arabiansquire enjoyed that continuity and also the smaller battles were over quicker, so the changes in scenery and opposition extended his enjoyment and attention span. He's already said he's looking forward to continuing the story next week. It won't be so easy for him this time. Surely he can't roll so many moral testing gruesome kills two weeks running???

Problems I forsee are for using regular RPG adventures and trying to follow them in a sequence of battles. Most encounters happen through the choices the players/characters have made. Without these choices the reasons for the encounters (read battles here) become strained at best. It must be said that Songs Of Blades and Heroes (the fantasy ruleset of choice with the young lad) is perhaps a bit too simple to deal with more complex interactions. It's not designed for that. I've still not managed to read through my copy of Two Hour Wargames "Legends of Araby" yet. A brief flick through would seem to have some gaming devices to put the adventurers in a situation where a battle may or may not happen. It'll have to be slightly tweeked to include the fantasy races (Stats are downloadable from the THW yahoo site) but I've really to get my reading glasses on before I can think about that. One note is that the THW site doesn't list the rules for sale anymore (although I've seen them on a pdf download store somewhere).

Another problem is there can be alot of abstact reading in RPG adventures that won't come into wargaming. Place descriptions, NPC motives, etc. I'm sure that with a bit of practice you'd be able to do an initial skim through the adventure to get the jist of it, then return to pick out the meat that you want. It's still a lot more preparation than is usual for a skirmish game (the point of which is that its quick), but I've not run a decent length set of campaign battles before so maybe no more than you'd expect.

Overall this seems like an exercise work doing. I've still a good amount of investigation to do. I suspect that my early thoughts on what the adventures will bring may change by the end. It may be that instead of following the RPG adventure to create a campaign I will be taking out the inspiration from in the pages, maps and NPC's to form a campaign.

I'll have to get reading and thinking to find out...

RPG in SoBH test.

This weekend arabiansquire and myself started to loosely game out "Eye Of The Wyvern". We managed a couple of early encounters which I'll post here. My thoughts on the adaptation process will be in the next post.

Arabiansquire was running the adventurers party with myself "GMing". The party makeup was taken from the suggested pre-generated chartacters in the RPG. All profiles are straight from the published rostas unless otherwise detailed.

The party consists of a Paladin (Human Cleric), Thief (SoBH Human Thief), Barbarian (Human Barbarian), Mage (Human Magic User) and a Dwarf (Elite Dwarven Warrior) with no leaders. This gave a ballpark point's value of 200pts to try and even up the encounters.

The party are travelling to the village of Wyvern Falls to investigate a series of attacks on animal stock. The journey takes a couple of days so the party camp out for the night. The night is split into two seperate watches. First watch was taken by the thief and the dwarf. This is when the pack of wolves came in. I ruled that the sleeping characters would take 3 round to be fulled active (One to wake up, one to get out of the blankets,stand up, ready weapons, etc and good to go on the third round).

The Thief and dwarf ran towards the approaching pack (who, on a random roll, had come in on the opposite side of the camp) yelling to wake up their colleagues. The wolves took advantage of their long move to get into the camp before the bleary eyes members of the camp could fully activate.The wolves picked seperate targets to take advantage of the lack of activation and it was only a couple of rounds in when the Mage was knocked down and mauled. The dwarf beat back his attacker with the thief fending off any fanged attacks. The wolf who attacked the Paladin was gruesomely killed by the holy warrior causing a cascading series of moral checks resulting the the rest of the pack fleeing.

A quick look at the campaign expansion (which I have to admit I hadn't thought about reading) suggest that the mage may not be fatally mauled. A couple of dice rolls later and his status has been changed from "Deceased"  to merely "Brain Damaged". The rest of the night went without incident and the party reached the town the following day.

Once in the town the party were briefed by the local farmers that something ot things had been attacking, killing and eating their livestock. Just then a villager rushed in to announce that there was a disturbance in one of the barns at the edge of the village.

At the barn, the dwarf, thief and mage went for the front doors with the barbarian and paladin entering round the side. The dwarf opened the door to review 4 minor wyvernlings (Q4+ C2, flying, tailslap). The thief recklessly rushed in to engage. The stunned wyvernings (who'd rolled 2 fails in their first roll!) were attacked by the dwarf and thief whilst the barbarian seemed to wrestle with the concept of door handles.

He finally opened the door just in time to see the thief gruesomely kill a wyvernling with his first attack and cause a moral check to all the other wyvernlings. With the barbarian blocking the door the nearest wyvernling tried to flee out the front over the head of the dwarf, but  it only failed one die and ending it flee too near the mage, automatically destroying it. The other 2 wyvernlings both failed a couple of rolls and fled through the  front door and away.

Thursday 4 February 2010

RPG modules for Wargaming

After having a (rare) tidy up I can across some old Dungeons and Dragons adventure modules. Not the biggest surprise, being an RPGer as well as a Wargamer, but it got me thinking about more campaign or at least story led wargaming. I've been playing a bit more Song of Blades and Heroes recently and there is a campaign system module there for different types of encounters, but obviously the player(s) need to come up with a background to the campaign to transform this from a series of character advancing encounters to a series of encounters following a character led storyline.

I think I'll have a wee try out using the old TSR Fastplay module "Eye Of The Wyvern" and see how I go. Rules wise I'm leaning towards the copy of Two Hour Wargames "Legends Of Araby" I have on the shelf (unplayed) as this was marketed as RPG lite. Also the THW games are good for solo play. The one drawback I see is that alot of the roleplaying elements will have to be distilled into action orientated encounters.

Monday 1 February 2010

Dog Soldiers Ready For Action

With the end of the month (and perhaps appropriately also a full moon) looming I managed to get the final parts of the jigsaw - finished the barn and the werewolves basing. A couple of odds and ends had been done since the last Dog Soldiers post a few weeks ago (couch & beds built, doors painted, special object tokens created) so I've not been totally idle in the intervening days. As suspected the cork base has warped slightly but not to much to irk me (yet!).

I've a landrover ebay win making it's way through the post that will need a bit of work done to it, so I'll have to use a different appropriately sized vehicle in the meantime, but it's not enough to prevent me marking this as "done". Here's a quick mock "in action" picture of what I've made for the game.

The window barricades are removable and the doors obviously can be open (taken out) or shut.

All that needs to be done now is work through the rules, play a game and post a batrep.