Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Trying Dragon Rampant for Sci-Fi

I've been looking, on and off, for a set of platoon-level rules for 15mm Sci-fi gaming for some time. I've written a set or two of my own in that time, but never really hit the target for what I was after (or at least what I thought I was after). With Dragon Rampant and some terrain in front of me recently, it occurred to me to look at this as a possibility. I won't be the first person to think of this, and there are probably already people out there doing excellent things converting this ruleset for Sci-fi!

I started off with an assumption that lots would need changing and only a few unit types and upgrades/special rules would be applicable. After thinking through this for a while I found that more and more could be retained without alteration, until I concluded that, for me at least, the rules could pretty much be used exactly as they are for Sci-fi. Even the spells available to Spellcasters - I reckon every one can be used as a command and control-type ability by a force commander. Other special rules can cover equipment, skill or high-tech upgrades for units and it's then just a matter of fitting figures to troop types and coming up with a force. The rules for undead might not be that much use however.

HQ Squad (reduced figure 'Light Foot' unit including command vehicle):

Alternative HQ squad, with some Mech protection:

The key difference as I see it is that for my Sci-fi games most units would have a ranged fire capability, which would alter the feel (and possibly balance) of the standard game. Only having reasonably comparable human military forces in my collection, this is probably not too big a deal as any effects will even themselves out. I am toying with the idea of an increase to the the firing distances (and possibly movement too) that I've been using for Fantasy 15mm (where I'm simply halving all standard distances in the rules) to make shooting feel a bit more 'realistic' and long range.

Most units will be 6 man squads - reduced figure units in the rules, with 2 Strength Points each. This keeps the number of figures down and will help it look like more of a firefight skirmish than a clash of hand-to-hand mobs. Most will be Light or Heavy Missile troop types. Command squads will have the Spellcaster ability, or the lesser Wizardling ability for forces with lower capabilities/training, etc.

A 'Light Riders' unit, with 12 Strength Points:

From there it's all very flexible. Mechs can be pretty much anything, from Greater Warbeasts to Elite Foot (optionally with the missile weapon upgrade), or Light Riders for scouting machines. There are chariot rules for vehicles, The 'Wall of Spears' rules for Light or Heavy Foot can represent personal force shields, and so on.

Armoured infantry (good old Laserburn Imperials), probably counting as 'Light Missiles' plus the effect of the Pavises rule from Lion Rampant to give them an armour upgrade:

A sneaky sniper in an elite squad - 'Light Missiles' with Sharpshooter upgrade:

Support squad as 'Heavy Missiles':

Game in progress:

I'm in the middle of this first game, just trying things out. Naturally it's the same game as before, but just having the different type of figures in play makes it seem different. I'll definitely want some raiding missions/scenarios and will probably try a few more playtests and report back.

Figures Based for Frostgrave

With a possible opportunity to play some Frostgrave on Simon's awesome 'Sandgrave' terrain, I thought I'd better finish the bases on the figures I painted (or in some cases re-painted) towards the end of last year.

It's nice to get some of these veteran figures ready for action again, with not an ink-wash or fried egg eye in sight any more. :)

A motley crew:

 More to do, of course, but one at a time isn't so bad, and there are enough already done for a warband.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Dragon Rampant Games

Following my last post, where I picked out a pair of 24 point forces for a trial game of Dragon Rampant, I've expanded things a bit and am now in the midst of a 'round robin' type league of battles with 6 fantasy forces. Well, these things get the better of us don't they?

To the Dwarves and Beastmen I have added further adversaries in the form of contingents based on GW's Bretonnians, Orcs, Empire and Kislev. I have played 5 games so far and hope to try each army against each of the others. For now the Orcs, with their relatively large force of 7 units, top the table with 2 wins from 2. At the bottom are the Kislevites with 0 from 0.

Perhaps especially when playing solo, a lot comes down to luck of the dice, and I am not expecting (or would even want) to identify some sort of winning formula for the best force structure. For example - every time you think that missile troops are the answer, as they see off another attack before it hits home, they fail an activation and are chopped to bits. I really like the unpredictable nature of the game, there's lots of dice rolling and even after a one-sided result you can just re-set the table and have another go - knowing that two games can never be remotely the same.

It's fun just learning the rules, and trying to spot the nuances of how to play well with each troop type. I haven't got there yet, that's for sure, but am having plenty of fun. I've been moving the terrain around a bit after each game, but it's basically 3'x3' of undulating ground, with some trees, rocks and a lonely cottage to fight around.

A typical battlefield:

Bretonnians about to charge into battle (repeatedly, as they should):

The Kislev leader, on his battle bear. Note to self, don't put the leader in a unit of light horse ('Light Riders' in the game). Fail an Evade roll and his head is likely to be chopped off by angry pursuers.

Kislev troops with handguns:

.. and a very useful furry friend:

Somehow the Bretonnian Lord survived this one:

When I have played a few more games I'll be adding in Quests and some of the magic and special rules. The only issue with this is that inevitably the costs for 'upgrades' will result in smaller forces, with some retinues struggling to keep to the minimum of 4 units!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Trying Out Dragon Rampant

I bought myself a copy of these new Osprey rules before Christmas (just in case Santa messed up) and now the FPW game is done and all the figures are packed away I thought I'd give them a go.

I've played a few games of Lion Rampant and I fully expect the fantasy version to be just as good. Even on just a few light read-throughs there's clearly so much flexibility and so many options that any fantasy force could be represented in the game - traditional or otherwise.

I've got a fair few types to pick from in 15mm, including just spicing up some historicals with a giant or wizard, etc. For a first go, though, I fancied some proper fantasy so I've selected Dwarves vs Beastmen and chosen basic unit types for now, with no magic item upgrades or spellcasters. I just want to have a go with the core rules initially, and will try out the magic and spells later.

Thane Darvin Ironforge's Retinue

Lord (Elite Foot), Leader, reduced model unit, 6 pts
Bodyguard (Heavy Foot), Offensive, 6 pts
Warriors (Heavy Foot), 4 pts
Slayers (Bellicose Foot), 4 pts
Quarellers (Heavy Missiles), 4 pts

Drak Blooddrinker's Warband

Chariots (Heavy Riders), Leader, reduced model unit, 6 pts
Gors (Bellicose Foot), 4 pts
Gors (Bellicose Foot), 4 pts
Centigors (Light Riders), 4 pts
Chaos Giant (Greater Warbeast), reduced model unit, 6 pts

Game pics to follow.

I'll try the basic 'get stuck in and kill stuff' scenario first, probably more than once, and hopefully have fun while learning the rules. After that, I'll try some extra upgrades and swap units and forces around a bit to try out other troop types and special rules.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

FPW Campaign Finale - The Battle of Ingwiller (Aka Leipzig)

Saturday's game was certainly a dramatic final episode to this short but action-packed campaign. Between us Simon and I deployed armies totalling 140,000 troops and fought out an intense but fun battle on Saturday. It was pretty much a whole-day affair which saw lots of action, manoeuvre, traffic jams and carnage.

Simon had reviewed the map and scenario details beforehand, and pondered the numerous options that were available to him. There were victory points to be collected at the numerous objectives, with the French towns representing Leipzig, Mockern and Lindenau as the main prizes. There were also a lot of French troops to get through (whose exact locations were not known to the Germans) and orders of march/arrival to plan. But plan he did, and within a couple of turns hordes of Prussians and Bavarians were flooding onto the battlefield.

The French artillery open up on the first arrivals:

The movement trays may detract a bit from the aesthetics but they're a necessity when playing with big armies!

There were options for delayed entry for flank attacks on 'Mockern' and 'Lindenau', and, as French commander, I was unsure of which if any of these would be taken up - so I had to garrison these potentially key locations, and keep reserves in hand, in case some of the uncommitted German formations made an unwelcome appearance.

French marine battalions in Leipzig covering the vital crossings:

Early actions saw Uhlans pushed wide to feel for the enemy left flank, while the French attempted to hurt the Germans before they could deploy from their lines of march, with massed batteries opening up to some effect. One Prussian cavalry division was forced to duck into a handy wood to avoid further damage, but all too soon the lines of Krupp guns were in place and pounded most of the French batteries to destruction.

Battle is joined:

This bought time for the infantry to begin its steamroller advance. Simon had decided to go for the direct approach and throw the bulk of his strength straight at Leipzig. In response I had to hastily draw in my reserves to stem the tide. Most of my cavalry, 2 out of my 3 divisions, were drawn off to the left to prevent the Prussian cavalry from sweeping around my flank and in behind 'Lieberwolkerwitz'. Over time the cavalry battle on the major hill there changed from being an expensive draw, to enough of a German success to have some influence the final outcome of the battle.

A French cavalry division heads to the flank, supported by its horse batteries:

A second division follows the first, coming under fire from a pesky Prussian horse battery in the village that proved impossible to eradicate.

More pics of the cavalry action - lots of manoeuvre, charges and counter-charges:

I may have become slightly obsessed with that lone battery....

Meanwhile, the Germans tried to sort out the massed congestion in front of Leipzig, the French launched spoiling attacks into their flank to slow them down, and the massed Prussian/Bavarian artillery hunted for French targets to annihilate.

French spoiling attacks:

A little later on - still making life awkward for the Prussians:

French artillery losing another duel with the Prussian guns:

The game clock ticked on and eventually the final unknown was resolved - The Baden/Wurttemberg division arrived on the other side of the river and began to advance on 'Lindenau'. Here again the French defended tenaciously, holding up the assault in the woods in front of the town. With the last German arrival points now declared, the French drew in every available unit to hold the line, some crossing the river to reinforce Lindenau as the pressure built.

The attack on Lindenau develops in the foreground:

Massed artillery softens up the defences ahead of the final assault:

Brave Chasseurs wiped out as the outer defences fall:

Both sides were taking heavy casualties and generals were falling like nine-pins - including the commander of VII French Corps. Eventually the German infantry came forward to storm the suburbs of Leipzig; Prussians and Bavarians shoulder to shoulder, faced by French sailors, marines and zouaves.

The general scene as the battle reaches its climax (it must be dusk!):

Sneaky Bavarian artillery fires across the river into French reserves in Lindenau (I may have put this idea in Simon's head - not a smart move):

The first attacks were repulsed with heavy losses, but eventually the pressure across the whole field told and the French army's morale hit its breaking point, both Corps failing at the same time, and the battle was over. The Germans had achieved a decent haul of victory points, and given more time would have take their main objective and the river crossing, but in the end they had won the battle through hard fighting.

Some French units would get away along the main line of communication from Lindenau, and others would retreat into the Vosges passes, but many thousands would be captured, along with much of the army's equipment and baggage. The Army of Alsace was destroyed as a fighting force and would not re-join the main Imperial army to the west.

Overall we fought 5 battles in our campaign, and it was excellent from start to finish. Thanks to Simon for getting thoroughly stuck in, hopefully we can have another go in the future, perhaps Italy 1859 next time?

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Franco-Prussian War Campaign Finale

A belated Happy New Year to all visitors!

A few months on from when it was originally intended, Simon and I will be fighting the big finish to the FPW campaign this coming Saturday. The table and forces are all prepared and the German commander is devising his no doubt devilish strategy to destroy the French.

This will be the 5th battle and picks up the story from the previous pair of clashes (see Here). We are going to be playing our game based on an historical battle from another period - namely the great 1813 clash at Leipzig. It's pretty ambitious, yes, but I've tried to distil the core of the battle and battlefield into something relevant for the FPW setting (well, there's a railway), while still retaining the essence of the actual battle.

There will be approximately 3 German corps and 2 French corps fighting it out. The Germans have numbers on their side, the French have some hidden deployment. There are lots of point-scoring objectives which makes it tough for the French to know what to defend and provides a challenge to the Germans to come up with a battle plan that's more than just 'kill the enemy'. Although I'm sure there'll be plenty of that anyway!

Campaign development has led the French (1st and 7th Corps plus cavalry under MacMahon) west to the foot of the Vosges mountains, where they are forced to turn and delay the pursuing enemy (XI and 1st Bavarian Corps, plus a Baden/Wurttemberg division and cavalry) in order to buy time for their remaining forces in the north to avoid becoming cut off. The big clash will come at the town of Ingwiller (representing Leipzig itself) on the river Model. I've used Alex's Leipzig table from the Scarborough refight as inspiration for mine, which is in the form of a mild dogleg totalling 7 feet by 3-4 feet.

Lots more pics to come after the event!