Monday, 30 December 2013

HOTT On The Road To Moscow

With my Weird WWII Americans currently stalled through lack of critical paint supplies, I thought I'd finish off my gaming year with a HOTT game featuring my original Weird WWII armies - the Germans and Soviets.

The Soviets defended. The photos are poor because, with sorting out how to attach a tarpaulin to our new car roof-rack, and then watching a couple of ancient episodes of 'Doctor Who' I didn't start playing until the natural light had gone.

Their stronghold - The Road to Moscow.

Here are the advancing Weird Nazi hordes.

They are led by Hitler himself - a Magician general.

After a couple of moves the plans were developing. The Russians attacked aggressively in the centre, aiming for Hitler himself, whils, the Nazis  were outflanking the Soviets with Werewolves (Beasts) and Death's Head Soldiers (Warband). Their aerials waited in reserve - a Valkyrie and a flying saucer.

The opening combats saw both generals engaged, and a bad line-up for the Nazis, as Hitler came under attack from the Hero of the Soviet Union (Paladin). Stalin piloted his Steel Man Battlesuit into combat with the Demon Panzer (both Behemoths).

The Demon Panzer was pushed back, but Hitler was luckier and held the Hero to a draw (but not one resulting in mutual destruction).

On the German move the Valkyrie swooped into the Paladin's flank. Now, a simple flank edge overlap would have sufficed, and been less risky to the Valkyrie, since it had no recoil room. But by being in close combat contact she also blocked the recoil of Stalin - as a Behemoth he couldn't crush an aerial, but couldn't pass under her either whilst she was in combat.

Stalin was lucky, and held the Demon Panzer to a draw.

But the Hero of the Soviet Union fell to Hitler's dark sorcery.

Hitler now swung onto Stalin's flank, whilst the Valkyrie moved into the rear. This looked like it for the Soviets ...

... but fortune favoured Uncle Joe, and the Nazis were driven back.

At that moment the Soviets received the help of General Winter (God).

Stalin pushed the Demon Panzer off the board.

This left Hitler himself as the only viable opponent for Stalin; a win would cause the Steel Man to flee into bad going, where he would be more easily finished off by bespelling or aerial attack.

Elsewhere ...

Soviet ape/human hybrids (Warband) fought the Death's Head Regiment (also Warband) in some ruins ...

... whilst the ghostly Heroes of Old Russia (Knights) attacked Some Nazi robots (Blades), watched by massed soldiers and worker (Hordes)

Stalin held Hitler to a draw. General Winter swirled across the board, and joined the combat, allowing Stalin to defeat the German general.

The final positions.

This was a close game, which could have gone either way, although it mostly boiled down to each side trying to exploit an overexposed enemy general. The Soviets were probably luckier than they deserved, although Hitler was lucky not to have been defeated in his first couple of combats against the Hero of the Soviet Union.

I'm looking forward to trying both of these armies against the Americans. But that will be a game for next year.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

8e Cuirassiers - Trial Run

I rather like the free rules produced by Pz8, if only for picking up ideas and inspiration. A few months ago I came across a draft version of '8e Cuirassiers', which were simple rules for conflicts from 1700-1870. They seemed interesting so I promise myself that I;d give them a go one day. It's taken me about six months to get around to it, but today I did.

Units in '8e Cuirassiers'  consist of four bases, each 20-30mm square, so my 6mm ACW figures are ideal, set up as they are as four base units on 20mm squares. So an ACW engagement it would be.

The board size for the game isn't give, but given the short movement distances (2" for infantry), and knowledge that Pz8 rules are designed for small, quick games, I went for a 2' x 2' playing area. I set it up as follows:

The farm in the middle was the objective, althopugh I didn't set any more than the vaguest of visctory conditions. really I just wanted to see how the mechanisms worked.

I put together two equal forces, each of six infantry regiments and an artillery battery. The Union had rifled artillery, the Confederates had smoothbores. All units were regular; I didn't want to mess around with varying troop qualities at this stage. Each side had one normal general.

I randomised the setup (I won't bore you with how), and got this - the Union are at the bottom of the picture and the Confederates at the top.

With only a 2" move, and plenty of  terrain limiting visibility it took several moves of advancing before things started to happen. This was the position after four or five turns. Both sides were holding back with their left, advancing cautiously on the farm with their centre and attacking with their right.

The Union advance on the farm.

The Confederate left and centre.

First fire! The Confederates open up on a Union regiment skulking in a wood, and its supporting artillery, but to no effect. Firing is an opposed die roll, with the firer getting modifiers then subtracting the target's roll. A positive score is a hit. A hit causes a unit to become Disordered, a Disordered unit to become Shaken and a Shaken unit to Rout.

The Union return fire, and disorder a Confederate regiment. Generals can remove disorder via a die-roll, but both sides seemed very bad at it.

More firing from the Confederates saw some Union regiments disordered.

The Confederate right attacks! The disordered the Union regiment in the wood, but their unit attacking the artillery was shaken by firing as it charged. However artillery automatically break in melee, so it still won the day.

The Union charged on their left, and ended up with two shaken units and a Confederate line which held. Melee can be quite deadly, as it is based on an opposed die roll; if the attacker gets the higher score the defender can go disordered, shaken or rout. The attacker only takes hits from fire as they go in, but if the defender isn't broken they fight a melee on their turn.

Fighting along the ridge.

Shaken units automatically rout if engaged in melee, so on the Confederate turn they only had to initiate melee to rout two Union regiments

The fight on the Union right continued. The shaken Confederate unit wouldn't rally, so was basically useless, whilst the units fighting for the wood just disordered each other.

On the Union left they finally routed a Confederate unit with a high differential win in a melee.

However two more of their units went shaken, then didn't rally, so would be broken on the next Confederate turn. At that point I decided to end the game.

So how did the rules work? Well, to be honest I'm not sure that they did. On paper they look OK, but I'm not sure that they've really been played at all, as a number of things just didn't seem to work. Units are not very manoeuverable and there's no interpenetration (which makes supporting attacks or relieving damaged units next to impossible). In a way I liked the way firing and melee were handled, but the game needs a mechanism for continuing melees, and shaken units need to be less vulnerable to melee attack as it's hard to get them out of trouble.

Would I play this game again? Unlikely in its present form, so either I need to modify them, or the author needs to come up with a new draft; the one I have is eighteen months old, though, and hasn't been updated since, so I can't see anything happening soon. Still, the game whiled away an amusing hour or two.

At the moment I cant find a link to the rules, so I can't send you in their direction. I would if I could.

Update: A link to the rules (and some discussion of them) can be found HERE

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas Loot

Somehow I managed not to play any games over Christmas. I'm not sure how that happened, although the fact that I spent three days just unwinding from the last few months at work (for 'unwinding' read 'sleeping') probably didn't help. And then I spent most of the remaining time doing family stuff, rediscovering the pleasures of building with Lego and making very poor-quality animations involving our chickens. The usual stuff.

Still, it's traditional on a blog to post about the loot you get at Christmas. Well, to be honest I didn't get much in the way of games-related things. Just one thing actually - enough Peter Pig Green Martians to do another HOTT army:

At the rate I paint you can expect to see these completed sometime in 2024. Somewhere I have some Black Hat ten-legged Martian dogs, which would make a nice Beast element for this army.

Aside from that I got some nerdy goodies. A history of Lego minifigures:

I also got a couple of Doctor Who bits. The t-shirt was nice, but even better were these slipper-socks that my lovely wife made for me:

The best thing is
That I have got
Tardis socks
And you have not :)

The children got (and loved) Tardis themed fingerless-gloves and a hat. It may be summer here, but we're already geared up for winter. My wife didn't get any Doctor Who themed stuff, but has now joined my son and I in the ranks of onesie-owners with this fetching cat look:

And that was it really. My wife also got me  a new handbag (big enough for the camera and all the other stuff I port around when I'm out and about in girl-mode), plus a frock I'd been eyeing up for ages. And pfeffernüsse - lots of pfeffernüsse. I like pfeffernüsse.

Now I need to play some games.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Lego Micro-Military

Over the last couple of days I've been looking for some inspiration for small-scale Lego builds, for a challenge in one of the many, many Lego groups on Flickr. I was going back through some of the things I'd done in the past, and came across my micro-military models from a couple of years ago. I thought that it might be fun to share them here. The pictures link through to the original images on Flickr.

I started of with this - a Generic Two-Seater Biplane

But the basic design got me thinking, and over the next couple of weeks I came up with variants. Here they are.

Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111

Messerschmitt Bf 109
Messerschmitt Bf 109

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch
Fieseler Fi 156 Storch

Heinkel He 162 ''Volksjäger'
Heinkel He 162 'Volksjäger'

Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet
Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet (Front)

Flettner Fl 282 'Kolibri'
Flettner Fl 282 'Kolibri'

And I even managed something that wasn't a WWII German aircraft. This is one of my favourite Lego builds ever - despite being about fourteen bricks in total.

Renault FT-17
Renault FT-17 - Rear

Sunday, 22 December 2013

HOTT 2.0 - My House Rules

I have a reputation for being a bit of a HOTT purist. And it's true; I like HOTT 2.0 pretty much as it is. I don't advocate for adding new troop types and I don't really feel that it needs new mechanisms to make it work. I'm generally happy to play it as it's written. No set of rules is perfect, after all, and if they work, and give sensible results and an entertaining game, 95% of the time, I'm happy. There are no perfect rules, after all.

However I have tried out fixes and variants, and over time some of them have become more or less permanent features of my games, or at least the ones I play in the comfort of my own home. You could call them House Rules ...

Some of them have been described elsewhere on this blog, but I thought that it would be interesting to put them all in one place for other people to see.

So, here they are:

(i) Sneaker. There are probably as many Sneaker fixes as there are people thinking that a fix for Sneakers is needed. Mine simply adjusts existing rules, rather than adding anything new. Put simply, a Sneaker is allowed to break off from an enemy element by moving forward through it, nad the restriction on which elements they can 'friction kill' is lifted. In rules terms this translates to:

Page 24, under 'Recoiling'
2nd paragraph, 1st bullet point - delete last sentence
"If all such enemy are sneakers .... if it is a general"

Page 18, under 'Breaking Off From Close Combat'
1st paragraph - amend from
"A single element can use a tactical move to break off from enemy in contactwith its front, but only if all of the following apply:"
"A single element can use a tactical move to break off from enemy in contactwith its front, but only if it is a Sneaker or if all of the following apply:"

2nd paragraph - amend start from
"An element breaking off must move at least 200p ... "
"Unless a sneaker, an element breaking off must move at least 200p ..."

(ii) Water Lurkers. Essentially, I don't use them any more. THIS POST describes how this change works.

(iii) Random Terrain Positioning. The first thing I latched onto when I saw DBA 3.0 was the way terrain was positioned. It has been said by a few players that terrain placement in HOTT can be  little samey after a while, as well as being open to abuse, and I wondered if the DBA system could help alleviate this. Eventually I came up with THIS.

(iv) Clerics. A simple addition. Clerics are the only element that can force a God to flee the field, but who cannot actually contact the God in the first place. So, I allow Clerics to move into contact with Gods. This gives them a little more value for their 3AP. Games show that, despite the disparity between the movement and manoeuvrability of a God and a Cleric, they can use, or threaten to use, this ability more than you might think.

(v) Paladins. Heroes and Paladins can both contact aerials But, for some reason, only a Hero can destroy a Flier in close combat; even if doubled by a Paladin, a Flier only flees. I suspect that this is an omission (rather like the one which, in HOTT 10, meant that Beasts got a -2 fighting an enemy element that was in bad going). So - a Flier is destroyed by a Paladin if doubled.

(vi) Big Battles. In big battles we have found that a victorious flank command can't really move quickly enough to exploit its success and support the rest of the army. So in big battles elements we allow elements to  march move. That is, and element, or group of elements, can make multiple moves, so long as no move after the first starts, ends or goes within 600p of an enemy element. Normal PIP costs apply for each move.

As you can see, there are few genuine additions, and only one section which is radically changed (Terrain). They all need more testing and play, although so far I've not detected any major flaws. And no new troop types - indeed I effectively drop one ...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Last Stand!

I didn't get to go to wargaming this week - I had my work Christmas party instead. But Dave put on a playtest of the fantasy mass-battle rules he's been working on, 'The Last Stand'. He posted some pictures, and sent a short report which I have edited here (as the original contains some technical bits of interest only to those who have read the rules). I've only skimmed through the rules, as I knew I wouldn't get to play, but they seem very comprehensive and detailed, and include (gasp) diagrams. Beyond that I can't really describe them to you.

Over to Dave:

Many thanks to Caesar and John for commanding.

The game was set up with six divisions, three per side randomly chosen, Caesar and John's army became, heroic Greeks, Abdul the Sorcerer and his mutant horde and Sliggoth of the Swamp with his fishmen.

These were opposed by my force; Cossacks, Vikings & fire giants, the black rider and treemen.

The forces included a large variety of troop types to see how they might interact.

Caesar and John were having their first game with the rules so we skipped much of the game set-up stuff such as weather, dirty tricks, terrain generation to get into the core command and combat rules (and some move rules I glossed to keep the action going).
On my right the black rider attempted to ride down the fishman artillery that was looking isolated, only to get himself killed.  His division of treemen were bashing up the opposing fishmen landshark riders but were probably going to break before they did if the battle continued.
On the left flank the Minotaur friend of the Greeks burst into the flank of the Cossacks, but the Cossack musketeers and guns were holding off the hoplites as a back-and-forth action developed in the area of the city and hill.
In the centre Abdul's collection of monsters were getting the better of the Vikings and with more time could expect to defeat them.
We played 18 bounds each in 3.5 hours and interestingly in their first game John and Caesar were memorising parts of the combat chart - scores needed and results from success.

Meanwhile, in a Wollongong restaurant ...

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