Friday, 31 May 2013

HOTT - Return Of The Night Of The Generals

Last night we played a HOTT big-battle. In order to keep the flanks occupied, though, we mixed up the deployment of the commands, so that each army was not just on one side of the table. Commands could start with an enemy command to their side. This made for a more complex game, with commands having to rush to the aid of other ones that were being surrounded and overwhelmed.

Each army was made up of four 24AP armies (we didn't mix troops up into specialised commands as you would for a 'normal' big battle). There were no strongholds, but each side had a CinC.

The majority of teh figures came from Geoff and Peter's medieval collections, so we had lots of human Spears, Blades and Knights. John fielded a Numidian force of Riders and Warband, whilst I went for the token non-humans, fielding the Ophidian snake-men (with three Magicians) and the Warband/Knight menace of the Squidmen. Two human commands were allied with mine and we apparently became the forces of Chaos, because were weren't completely made up of warm-blooded, bipedal vertebrates. Personally I think legs are over-rated.

Anyway, here you can see three of the generals considering their deployment. We played on an 8' x 2' table, using 15mm figures. There was a very wide road running down the centre-line.

The Squidmen. They had no real opposition in front of them, and spent most of the battle marching around the wood.

Some medieval humans. The enemy. Also I got my finger in shot. What an amateur.

More humans. I think these were on my side. The big knight-wedges in the centre were classed as Behemoths. Opposite them are John's Numidians in a skirmish formation.

The Ophidians. Three Magicians seemed to scare people. They also eat PIPs.

More medievals face off against each other.

Advancing armies. All of those Knights were a bit scary for an army which has a core of Warband, so I hid the foot in a village and pushed the Magicians to the fore.

The first big clash - Heroes and Riders attack Shooters and Spears.

The Squidmen creep up behind the fight.

Oops! Peter charges his Knight general into a Shooter and loses big-time. However this was also the CinC, and on his next PIP roll the command went demoralised, breaking the Human army. Game over.

Ophidians face a human attack ...

... and then watch the rout.

We set the game up and played again, but I didn't take any photos. A shame, as it was a much longer, and closer, fight. The Squidmen were surrounded and wiped out early on, leaving us a command down, but in the middle the Numidians were caught in a pincer and ended up in a lot of trouble. More troops got sucked into the fight, and casualties mounted on both sides, with the Humans having the edge. However Caesar, teamed up with the Squid/Snake Alliance, got lucky and killed two enemy generals in one bound. Both of their commands broke, and half of the human army fled the field in one fell swoop. Pathetic humans.

The format worked well, and made for an interesting couple of fights with players having to react to foes coming from more than one direction. It would be interesting to see how it works with more Aerials (we didn't have any).

One thing we are considering for future battles is some kind of march-moves so that commands on the flanks that deal with their opposition can then exploit the situation more effectively - basic troop movement, which works fine on a board suitable for 24/36AP gets a little slow on larger tables. We are just considering allowing troops to make a second move, so long as it doesn't go within a certain distance of enemy elements - effectively troops out of contact have the option for a double-move.

One shot from the second game - here we see a couple of Numidian horseman contemplating the guns of a steam-tank.

And on the subject of tanks, let me finish with the return of a regular feature on this blog - Ralph's Burning Tanks! This week he will be mostly exploding in North Africa.

A Simple Gladiator Campaign - Weights

In the previous post I looked at the rules for a simple gladiator campaign. This relies on there being a distinction (unhistorical, it has to be said) between Light, Medium and Heavy gladiators. So how is gladiator's weight determined? In earlier versions of MSM the weight was part of the gladiator's definition. This is not the case in v2.0 onwards.

Weight is best determined, initially, on the gladiator's starting Action Point modifier, as this is based on how much they are carrying in the way of protection.

Heavy gladiators are easy to determine - any figure with an AP modifier of 0 or less is Heavy. This will cover gladiators with light armour and a large shield, and those with heavy armour, with or without a shield of any size.

This one's Heavy for sure.
Some gladiators are obviously Light - any figure with an AP modifier of +2 is such. This covers figures with no armour, with or without a small shield.

You can't get much more Light than this.
In between are those gladiators with a +1 AP modifier, a group which covers a number of popular and common types. They will have light armour, maybe with a small shield, or no armour and a large shield. Some of these will be classed as Light, and some as Medium. As a rule of thumb I would say that any figure that has an enclosed helmet is automatically classed as Medium. I can't think of any figures that I own that have an enclosed helmet and no other armour, so this will either be gladiators with light armour and a small shield, or light armour and a weapon in each hand. Figures without an enclosed helmet are generally Light, but I would say that if they have a large shield they are treated as Medium instead.

Example: I have a number of Dimacherius figures, wielding two swords. One of these has light armour and an enclosed helmet. This gives her a save of +2 and an AP modifier of +1, but the helmet affects her ability to maneuver. She would be a Medium gladiator. Another also has light armour, but is bare-headed. His save is +1, but he also has an AP modifier of +1. He maneuvers more easily, though. He is classed as a Light gladiator.

With the ability to quickly determine weight, and the simple rules in the previous post, you should be able to play a fun series of linked games in the course of an evening. Will your stable of gladiators earn you the prestige you deserve. Or will history forget you?

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A Simple Gladiator Campaign - Rules

Warning! Boobs!
'Munera Sine Missione' gives fun, one-off games, but also allows for gladiators to be carried over from game to game. We sometimes use a very simple campaign framework for it, which can cope with a variable number of players and concentrates on the actual fights with very little peripheral fuss. Each player has a stable of gladiators and they are competing to gain the most prestige by the end of an agreed number of bouts. It is based around my particular collection of figures, which is fairly extensive and covers a range of types, but can be adapted for smaller collections without too much trouble. At a minimum you need six gladiators per player, and they should be two each of Light, Medium and Heavy.

Here's how the campaign works. Each player selects six gladiators - 2 x Light, 2 x Medium and 2 x Heavy. Ideally one of the Lights should be a Retiarius or similar.

The campaign is played in a number of bouts, with fights two or more fights taking place simultaneously in the arena. If your playing area isn't that big, then play a number of rounds. Players should decide if each new round represents a new day or not (it influences how much mercy the crowd have).

For each bout, each player selects one of their gladiators. These are the challengers.

The players then each roll a die. The highest scoring player picks a challenger (not his own, of course) and then rolls a D6. This determines the weight of gladiator that they must match it with:

Challenger is          Must Choose
Heavy                    1-3 Medium, 4-6 Light
Medium                 1-2 Light, 3-4 Medium, 5-6 Heavy
Light                      1-3 Medium, 4-6 Heavy

The player should choose a gladiator of the appropriate weight from their stable.

One of the features of gladiator bouts seems to have been  to pit types with different weights, fighting styles and equipment against each other, and these mechanisms promote that. So two Heavy gladiators will never meet, and neither will two Light. In most bouts, one gladiator will have an advantage in maneuver whilst the other has more protection. Medium gladiators cover a range of styles and can fight each other, but the bouts should still promote differences - the gladiators should have different weapon/shield combinations at the very least.

(I know certain types were designed to fight others of the same type, but that's for a more specialist scenario. Mixing styles makes for a  more interesting game.)

The next player then chooses and rolls, and so on until all challengers have an opponent. Set up the gladiators with each challenger facing their opponent on opposite sides of the arena. Each player will have two gladiators in play. and there should be as many pairs as there are players.

The players again roll a die, with the highest score going first. that player takes a turn for each of their two gladiators. Play then goes clockwise around the table until all fights have been resolved.

Once all fights have finished, award experience to surviving gladiators according to the rules.

In addition the players are awarded prestige as follows:

One of their gladiators beat an opponent of equal or lesser experience          +1
One of their gladiators beat an opponent of greater experience                     +2
One of their gladiators lost to an opponent of lesser experience                    -1

Wounded gladiators are assumed to recover. Replace any dead gladiators with new ones from the pool, and then play the next bout.

The main decision the players have to make is whether to risk higher experience gladiators in the area and have them beaten by less experienced ones, and whether to give their lesser experienced fighter a chance or stick to those with skills.

In the next post I will look at how you determine if a gladiator is Light, Medium or Heavy.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Munera Sine Missione - Version 2.2

It happens every time ...

I get out my gladiator rules to play a few games, and discover things that aren't quite right in the text*. Back in January I posted a v2.1 of the rules, which corrected a couple of genuine errors. This time I have found a few sections where the wording wasn't as clear as it could have been, as well as a piece of text left over from v1.0 that no longer made sense.

I have dealt with these issues. So here it is: Munera Sine Missione - Version 2.2

Download and enjoy.

*I'd sack my proof-reader, if I had one.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Crupellarius Experiment

When playing 'Munera Sine Missione with Victor the other day, we played one bout with his Crupellarius figure. The Crupellarius is the heaviest gladiator in the game, wearing full body armour and carrying a good-sized shield. This gives him excellent protection (from the front he saves any wounds on a 5 or less on a D6), but also means that he's the slowest gladiator in the game in terms of Action Points.

Victor said that his Crupellarius was particularly unlucky, but I wondered afterwards if it was because the type was still inherently weak under the rules.

I decided to try an experiment, and pit my Crupellarius against some other types to see how he fared.

Here is is. In honour of the inspiration for the experiment we'll call him Victor. Maybe the name will rub off on him too.

His first bout was against the Thracian which beat the other Crupellarius a couple of weeks ago. This was Victor's chance to avenge the defeat. A Thracian is lightly armoured, and carries a smaller shield than Victor. His curved sword is a difficult weapon to use, so suffers a 'to hit' penalty, but negates some of the protection of Victor's shield. Since his protection is Victor's main weapon, the Thracian is a dangerous foe.

They quickly got stuck into each other.

But Victor fell to a low blow - the Thracian nipped around Victor's unshielded side and inflicted some telling blows..

Not a good start for Victor - but he went in for a rematch. In this shot he has just inflicted a hit on the Thracian.

He then finished him off with a critical hit. A lot of long bouts end on criticals; the rules encourage gladiators to get stuck in and keep attacking if they can. The trick is not to leave yourself exposed to counter-attacks.

So, with two bouts completed Victor had won one and lost one.

It was time for a new opponent. The Laquearius is lighter than the Thracian, and has a longer reach. A tough opponent unless Victor can get in close.

This was a very long bout. Victor took the offensive, and nearly pushed the Laquearius against the arena wall, but then got turned and caught in the same position. For a couple of turns he was off-balance, but his armour, whilst slowing his recovery, also prevented him suffering any harm. Resuming the attack he gained some space, and when attacked by the Laquearius' lasso wrenched it from him and then kept him away from it for the rest of the bout.

In this shot the Laquearius, low on action Points and caught at close range with a trident, resorts to an improvised attack. And, against the odds, scores a hit!

But Victor can always win a stand-up fight - the Laquearius lacks the armour to trade blow for blow at that range. Exhasuted from attacking his armoured opponent the lasso man is unable to retreat, and falls to a series of sword thrusts. Now the score is 2-1 in Victor's favour.

Apparently the word 'boobs' increases hits on your blog for some reason. So say hello to Victor's next foe, a Dimacherius with ... boobs. And two swords, which is really what we're interested in.

Although her fully-enclosed helmet limits her manuever a little, the Dimacherius is a tricky, agile opponent. She moved in quick, raining blow after blow on Victor, but his protection was up to the challenge and he suffered no injury.

All it took for Victor to win was a well-aimed critical hit.

So, in four bouts Victor achieved three wins. The Crupellarius is not a gladiator with much in the way of tactical nuance. Basically you face your foe to get maximum protection, take the hits aimed at you, and keep pushing forward to score hits of your own. Criticals aside you should be able to win a war of attrition against the levels of armour you'd normally expect to face in the arena.

Conclusion? The Crupellarius seems to be OK as a type. It's Victor's figure which is unlucky.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Future War Commander - RSL vs CCB

The war between the heroic Riskovian Stellar League (RSL) and the mighty Confederation of Caffeinated Beverages (CCB) in the year 2525 is a little-known conflict, but one very well suited to gaming. We played out a typical encounter battle last night using Future War Commander and Geoff's 6mm sci-fi figures.

The RSL had a lot of tanks. Here they are, lined up for a mighty thrust up the CCB flank.

The CCB, lined up at the opposite end of the table.

One of the CCB commanders, Caesar, ponders his plans. Because he is only fractionally taller than the men he commands he is able to inspire them to great feats of heroism and derring-do (Translation: He rolled far too many double-ones for activation ...)

The RSL artillery battery stacks up some dice before targetting a CCB infantry platoon.

The end results - the dice mark how many hits have been scored against each base.

And once the saving rolls had been failed, this is what was left. You'll just have to imagine the hole in the ground.

Unfortunately the RSL tanks were on the receiving end of Caesar's blinding activation rolls, and soon ended up as a mass of twisted, burning metal.

The RSL infantry made an heroic advance on the other flank, but in a dense patch of jungle were overwhelmed by numberless hordes of CCB troopers and driven from the field.

The RSL will have its revenge.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Comic Gong

Comic Gong is Wollongong's first comic convention, and was organised by the city library, seemingly in association with Free Comic Book Day. It was a short event - only three hours - and there were comments that this wouldn't make it attractive to people. But it was; attendance was excellent, with many people of all ages getting into costume. The event featured an artists' alley, of course, and stalls from King's Comics in Sydney and a company that did movie stuff. There were also artists workshops and lucky prize-draws throughout the event, and the obvious chance to mingle with other nerds of all ages.

The whole thing was excellently organised and (importantly) well-promoted.

I got some loot.

Some more Heroclix, of course:

And, to go with them, a pack of Fantastic Four playing cards; more appropriate for tracking initiative in 'Clobberin' Time' than the Sherlock Holmes ones I've been using up until now:

And, finally, some prints and a comic. The comic is 'Captain Kitty Hawk' by Judex Jones, whilst the prints are by Matt Lin (who ran the manga workshop my daughter did) and Marcelo Baez. Matt Lin's figure with the sword and pistol is apparently concept art for a forthcoming range of steampunk wargames miniatures.

Here's a few more pictures from the event.

Here's the ladies from Circus Wow:

And here they are doing their stuff.

Marcelo and Rachel Baez.

The results of a cartooning workshop.

And the board at the end of Matt Lin's manga workshop.

Mild-mannered librarian becomes - Iron ... Lady.

Whilst another librarian becomes a shieldless Captain America.

It looks like Comic Gong was quite a success, which bodes well for it being held again next year. Let's hope so; the more events like this that Wollongong gets, the better.

Gladiators, Zombies and Elk

Victor came down from Sydney this evening, to play some gladiators. Since it uses a small space, we set up in the back-room. The setup involved a bean-bag for seating one of us, but initially it was already occupied.

On to the gladiators, using Munera Sine Missione v2.1. We played three bouts. In the first a Murmillo fought a barbarian.

The barbarian did OK initially, but fell to a lucky critical.

Victor gave his luckless Crupellarius a go, against my Thracian.

Another lucky critical saw the Crupellarius maintain his run of bad luck.

Finally an African Barbarian with a spear faced a Dimacherius.

The African danced around quite effectively, and got in some good thrusts. But he too fell to ... a lucky critical.

Lucky criticals aren't as common as these games suggest. really.

We switched to a couple of games of Zombie Dice. Victor got the brains, I just got shot.

Finally, Elchfest. It has wooden elk, and involves flicking stepping stones around to create a route across a river.

The end of the game ...

... my elk made it across the river to win.

And that was the evening gone. We discussed solo game mechanisms and the format of the next MOAB comp, and then it was time to Victor to head home.
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