Monday, 19 June 2017

A HOTT afternoon at the club

Yesterday was hot in more than one way. The temperature was up around the 30C mark and the major thing at the club was a series of games of HOTT (Hordes Of The Things).

This was a chance for me to roll out my Averland-inspired army against some actual opponents. "How did things turn out?" you ask. "Not very well!" I reply.

I played four games, two against Nick's Orcs and two against John's Dwarves and Elvish chaps. In every case, I lost. Now, that could be down to inexperience, but bad dice rolls and impetuosity both played a part too. In the first game, I defended on a table that really didn't offer me much help. Neither did a truly bad initial deployment, which pretty much left my Knights in an endless series of rounds of combat with Nick's Orc Knights.

It didn't help much that I soon lost my Behemoth (the Da Vinci turtle tank), for no gains.

Eventually, I lost because I had taken too many casualties.

In the second game, I defended again, and once more deployed my forces in a formation that pretty much isolated my Knights. This time, though, I deployed Riders on the right flank and these at least had a useful role to play.

I lost my left flank Shooters and Blades early on and this really didn't help me at all, even though my Spears managed to push back Nick's scorpion Behemoth.
The real problem was that I'd got my general into a bad position defeating Nick's Knights, which led inevitably to his demise, and my defeat.

My next two games were against John's Elf/Dwarf alliance. Both times I tried to ensure that my deployment was more coherent and I decided to occupy the hills on my half of the table. John deployed in a solid line.

My Knights advanced along the road.

At this point, things seemed OK. I didn't expect that his Flyers, including an Aerial Hero would be such a problem. I soon lost one unit of Knights to John's Hero General, which showed up the flaw in my plans.

My Spears saw off an attack by Flyers

But the Aerial Hero (identified by the red counter) caused a realignment of my line.

With my Blades standing firm, the Shooters rejoined the battle line.

The Hero Flyer refused combat and left my Blades exposed as John's line advanced.

I threw caution to the winds and charged. Bad mistake. Although I won combats, all I was doing was forcing his troops to recoil. I couldn't destroy any troops. Eventually, I lost my remaining Knights, inevitably followed by my Hero General.

Game over.

We managed to squeeze in a final battle. We both deployed Magicians, and I brought in some Riders, dropping my Spears.

John was defending, and I was pretty much forced to advance, because he just sat still in front of his Stronghold.

My Riders managed to tie up his right flank for a long time, including his Magician.

I advanced and got into combat. This is where it all went wrong. I felt sure that I had an advantage but my dice rolls were truly appalling and my line got twisted out of shape and I was destroyed piecemeal. Happily, there are no pictures of this shameful collapse by the army of Averland.

So, I reckon that I have a lot to learn about how to win at HOTT.

Monday, 12 June 2017

HOTT - My Averland army's Stronghold

Having completed my Averland-themed Renaissance army, my remaining task was to build and paint a Stronghold. I knew the sort of thing I wanted, which was a nice vignette of a Late Mediaeval/Renaissance camp, with camp followers, tents and various odds and ends of stuff.

After the obligatory googling, I decided that the best option was to head over to the Magister Militum website and peruse the Baueda resin models. This was a good idea because I was able to buy two nice tents and a couple of sets of campfire pieces. Together with a few odds and ends I already had, I quickly put together what I think looks like a pretty decent Stronghold.

The Baueda campfire cooking sets came with four figures who, although they are actually mediaeval chaps look fine when painted up in Averland livery colours. I added a Magister Militum carter and horse that I had leftover from my SYW Sharp Practice imagi-nations project and four Peter Pig figures from their Pirate range, again surplus figures originally bought for my SYW imagi-nations project. These are also out of period, but with the right livery paint job, they look fine too. 

It had been pointed out to me that my Leonardo Da Vinci turtle tank would have problems being ranked next to other figures because of the overhang, so I've created a plinth to put the thing on when I need to brigade it with other elements. Here is how it looks;

It is just a standard 4cm square MDF base with a layer of foam glued on top, sealed and flocked. The tank just sits on it whenever necessary. Problem solved.

Another outing for my Nine Years' War armies

Following the last playtest of my modifications to the standard SP rules, I was keen to have another game with the revisions I'd made since the last battle. Luckily, young James at the club was happy to take the field commanding the Anglo-Dutch army while I, once again took control of the legions of Louis XIV. Both armies are made up from the excellent NYW 15mm figures from Lurkio.

James wasn't at all familiar with the Sharp Practice rules, but turned out to be a quick learner, as well as a pretty keen opponent, as he demonstrated as the battle unfolded. The table was laid out with few obstacles, because the main aim was to get large numbers of regiments into combat with the minimum of delay. The French were on the left and the Anglo-Dutch the right in this photo.

Both armies took advantage of the Moveable Deployment Point available to Dragoons (in my mods), which allowed one wing of the army to deploy 24" away from the main DP. James, especially, took advantage of my column march rule to get his Foot across the table as quickly as possible. Something else that we agreed should be allowed was for the senior general to be able to activate units assigned to his two subordinate commanders. This is a change that I'll certainly keep in my modifications for future use, because it gave the feel of a large-scale battle being commanded by a senior general or even a Marshal of France. However, on reflection, I think that this feature should be restricted to the senior leader only being able to use a maximum of half his activations for this purpose. After all, he still has to command his own troops.

The Anglo-Dutch deployed first, with Artillery, Dragoons and the Earl of Oxford's Horse taking a dominant position in the centre. The French were next, with the senior French general deploying his elite Gardes Françaises Foot and Régiment Du Roi Horse, plus two other foot regiments directly in front of the French camp (a.k.a the primary DP).

These foot regiments would take the brunt of the Anglo-Dutch assaults. The next deployment was the second Anglo-Dutch command, mainly Horse, supported by the Scottish First Regiment of Foot.

This was soon matched by a deployment on the French left, with Dragoons, Foot and Horse all emerging to counter the Anglo-Dutch Horse.

However, in the centre, the Anglo-Dutch began to advance against the French, with several regiments in column.


The French centre soon began to suffer casualties from the Anglo-Dutch artillery

The battle began to hot up pretty quickly as the two armies joined battle. Remember that in Sharp Practice, muskets are pretty ineffectual except at close range.

Note the complete absence of the French right wing. This was beginning to become a major worry.

Hurrah! The final French troops finally began to arrive, just as the battle in the centre started to become serious.

French musketry caused havoc with the advancing Allied columns, as the Earl of Oxford's Horse charged the Gardes Françaises.

However, the Horse came off worse in this fisticuffs and were effectively destroyed as a useful force. Over on the French left, a colossal cavalry battle was about to begin. This carried on for several rounds of combat with both sides becoming depleted, but eventually leaving the French with the advantage.

With both sides becoming fully-engaged shock and casualties mounted on both sides.

Finally, the French artillery took up position on a hill and began to fire upon the Danish foot on the Allied left.

Although they had taken fire, the Allied regiments in the centre looked strong.

On the left, the Régiment Du Roi rode to reinforce the weakened French Horse.

On the French right, musketry and artillery caused many casualties on the English First Foot Guards.

At this point, we ran out of time. The battle was pretty evenly balanced, with two lines of infantry, supported by artillery on hills, giving them a good line of sight across the battlefield. We discussed the way things had gone, noting that the Force Morale of the French was higher. In fact, the Allies were a fair bit closer to entering the Red Zone, but the French centre had been weakened to such an extent that it seemed unlikely that they could break through against the strong Allied defensive line, so we called it a draw.

My reflections on the revised modifications are that I think I have a workable way of using my NYW armies within the SP Lardie universe, which I think is a good thing. If nothing else, it means that I can sell my FOG:R rules at next year's club Tabletop Sale.

The mods I've written give a decent playable game, but you definitely need plenty of time to conclude a battle, which seems fair enough with so many units on the table. I'm happy with the result, which, at the end of the day, is all that really matters. I think that I'd never have been able to get this project resolved without the excellent SP rules, written by Richard Clarke. His simple to grasp and clever mechanisms have been easy to adjust for my larger armies. It really says exactly how good these rules are.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A new project - Hordes Of The Things

I was recently introduced to Hordes Of The Things at the club. I have to say that I enjoyed the games I played and it left me thinking that I really ought to put an army together, not least so that I could take part in the club's annual HOTT tournament.

It is a very, very long time since I last played Warhammer Fantasy and almost as long since I sold my Empire Army, and, I have to admit I've always had a soft spot for the Renaissance period pike and shot period, so when I first looked at creating an army for HOTT it didn't take me too long to whittle down my list of possible armies to a few contenders, with a Renaissance army pretty much top of the list.

This got me looking around for figures and, to be fair, there is an embarrassment of riches out there in 15mm for this period. However, because we are talking HOTT, I wanted to add in a magical dimension, but none of the available 15mm magic user figures around really looked right for the period to me. I started to reconsider what kind of army to create but I really wanted all those pikes, arquebusiers, gendarmes etc, so, when I found out that Alternative Armies ALTUOS 15mm Renaissance range contained a pair of Leonardo Da Vinci figures - on foot and mounted - PLUS a nice resin model of his famous "Turtle Car" tank, I knew that Leonardo would be a perfect character to use as a magician and his tank would be ideal as a Behemoth. The range of figures was perfect for what I wanted because you can buy small numbers of figures (they are priced individually, rather than as packs) and they have plenty of variants. 

Anyway, going back to Warhammer Fantasy for my original inspiration meant that the figures should look like those of the later 15th and early 16th centuries, with halberdiers and sword and buckler infantry as Blades, arquebusiers and crossbowmen as Shooters, gendarmes as Knights and pikes (yes, I know that Warhammer didn't have pikes, but you really do have to have pikes in a Renaissance army) as Spears. For Riders I had lots of options. Did I want mounted crossbows? Maybe, but I have always been fascinated by Stradiots, light cavalry used by many armies in the Italian Wars of the late 15th and 16th centuries, who were recruited across the Adriatic in the Balkans, so Stradiots it would be.

My old Empire Army had been a bit of a mishmash of colours, with troops from various parts of the empire, but it had a core of troops painted in the black and yellow livery of Averland, which I really liked then and still like now, so I simply had to create an Averland-themed Renaissance HOTT army. The stark black/yellow scheme would be brightened up by adding red and green to the colour palette, especially for the stradiots, but also for the carriages of the artillery pieces.

So, here are the Spears, Blades and Shooters. Note that one of the units of Blades are Halberdiers and there is an officer figure, so that I have the option of having the General in that unit;

These are followed by the Knights and Riders. I chose to use fully-armoured Gendarmes for one unit of Knights, because they look like Warhammer Fantasy Knightly Order troops and what were known as "Archers" but who were equipped with lances as well as crossbows as the other one;

And finally, here is the Artillery, the Behemoth and, left to right a Paladin, a Magician and a Hero (who will also serve as a mounted General);


I decided that I wanted a large enough army to be able to play large games of HOTT, so I bought enough miniatures to give me a 48AP army. Here is the whole army, which I think looks rather impressive.

Monday, 29 May 2017

A Nine Years' War AAR - playtesting my Sharp Practice mods

I mentioned a few posts ago that I had been developing some modifications to Sharp Practice so that I could fight large scale battles using my NYW armies, which were based up for FOG:R rules.

Last Sunday at the club I had the chance to play through a battle using these mods, the idea being to playtest what I'd written and see where I needed to tweak them to make them more playable. So, many thanks to Clive, who took the role of the Anglo-Dutch commander. I commanded the French.

The battlefield was relatively open, giving the opportunity to manoeuvre the troops more easily.


The Anglo-Dutch arrived first, with a brigade containing dragoons heading towards the French left.

French troops, also containing dragoons quickly deployed to counter them.

Note the Dutch Garde Te Voet, with their regimental gun.

On the right, regiments of Horse began to advance, with Woods' Horse (green standard) receiving fire from the Fimarcon Dragoons.

Elsewhere the Régiment de Villeroy charges the Dutch Nassau Horse in column. Over here on the French right flank, the Horse continue to advance until stopped by accurate Anglo-Scottish musketry.

Woods Horse charge the French Dragoons, wiping them out.

The French camp is a mere canter away now.

The Anglo-Scottish Brigade arrives, supported by guns and Fusiliers.

Woods' Horse attack the French camp but are beaten off by musket fire from the Fusiliers du Roi.

This allows the main body of the French army to deploy, including the Gardes Françaises and the Régiment du Roi, both resplendent in blue uniforms.

Woods' Horse are powerless and take casualties from short-range musketry.

Lumley's Horse advance, supported by the Garde Te Voet

The Anglo-Dutch Horse are in the thick of it as the Régiment de Navarre are in combat against the Earl of Oxford's Horse

However, as the Régiment de Rohan reinforce the French left, threatening to charge the English dragoons a stalemate develops.

The battlefield is becoming congested but the French centre looks strong.

Eventually, we had to call it a day as we ran out of time.

So, an inconclusive result, which is kind of appropriate for the period. Many battles ended up with neither side having the upper hand, which is why there were so many sieges and a lot of fruitless marching and counter-marching to try and gain an advantage.

Some notes about the playtesting. Firstly, it was great to have the chance to see how my ideas worked out in an actual battle. Early on, it became apparent that my initial ideas gave the Horse far too many advantages in Fisticuffs, so I amended them as the game progressed, which evened things out a lot. We also agreed that the standard rules for artillery in SP made the guns far too powerful, so we agreed to halve the number of dice rolled for each gun. This game a much better result.

We also decided that troops formed up in column should be allowed a D6+3 move, rather than a simple D6, but that they would only be allowed to use the front two bases in Fisticuffs.

I think that we will need to play through these amendments again, but overall, these changes do seem to make for a fairly reasonable game with large armies that look attractive on the table.