The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
Snorri is unhappy about your bar tab - VERY unhappy...

Friday, December 21, 2018

Crug Mawr 1136: One-Hour Wargames #16 "Advance Guard" p2

As promised and predicted, here's the re-play on my last battle. 

This is actually the 6th time I played, as the first two I was getting back into the rules and trying some tactics that didn't always work out. The great thing about this OHW philosophy or approach is that I have the time to knock out several games and try several different tactics and approaches despite a busy life. It's also fun, not draining!

Below, Anglo-Norman Deployment. I'm trying a new tactic for FitzMartin - screen the right with the Crossbows, weight the left and lead an advance with Knights supported by Flemish Serjeants in the center and Freemen on the far flank. I definitely need to keep the support Units closer to the Knights! The Welsh are too canny to be caught unsupported, and their superior firepower makes it very hard for the Anglo-Normans to sit back and wait.

Turn 1. Welsh spread out to the right. FitzMartin pushes hard up the middle, but the Freemen immediately fall way behind [poor move roll]. I still want to shatter the two Archer Units directly to the front, but the flanks are looking pretty vulnerable...

Turn 3 start. I shifted the attacked to the right so as to get my Freemen support sooner. This left the left Welsh Archer and Teulu free to maneuver, they are now trashing my Crossbowmen! The Flemish are fighting against the odds, and unfortunately are rolling poorly in their attack, as are my knights! I really need both these units to trash their opponent quickly, so my force can fight at more even odds.

Turn 3 end. The Knights drive the Teulu to the brink of death, but are destroyed by Archers firing into their rear while the Teulu and Owain fight valiantly from the front! The Flemish are fighting at 3-1 and have attacked poorly against the Welsh Bowmen.

Turn 4. The Welsh show they know how to miss! Six attacks, no hits at all.

Not to be out-done, the Flemish then miss completely, continuing an appalling performance on the attack - rubber swords for crowd control??

Meanwhile, at top right the Teulu have taken on the Freemen - they can't win and should have moved back to rally instead. But where is the valor and glory in that??

Turns 5-6. The Welsh team rolls loads of hits, inflicting 5/6 dice rolled, and pushing the Flemish to 11 Hits, at which point they flee the battlefield. The other Welsh Teulu rolled way short and weren't able to help their Lord, Owain in his fight against the Freemen. Consequently, he was forced to retreat after a bold fight pushing the Freemen up to 5 Hits. He just couldn't seal the deal - the Freemen actually rolled poorly.

Well, another loss for FitzMartin. I either need to re-think the scenario, or re-think the tactics, or just plain roll better for the Anglo-Normans! I'll try to give it a go soon.

Gratifyingly, the rules worked very well and I was approaching them with a fresh, critical eye, not having played them in some time. Gets my medieval flowing!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Crug Mawr 1136: One-Hour Wargames #16 "Advance Guard" p1

Got the below book from the UK. Shipped it was still a decent price, under $10 I think. 

Covers topics you would expect, but in better detail than you'd think. For a book aimed at tourism, it is actually very good. As a wargame book, it is better than most. With little evidence to work with, Mr. James does a good job coming up with a reasonable hypothesis for where and how the battle was fought. His knowledge and conjecture on the Welsh use of a "longbow" is one place place he ventures into very weak speculation.

Nice pic of the Crug Mawr, "Big Hill" from the Welsh point of view. Seems steeper than discussed in the book, but may just be the camera angle. Anglo-Norman forces deployed on the hill, in the opinion of the author, and the larger Welsh force advanced down the road..

Welsh forces in grey to top right, Anglo-Normans to left of them in white blocks, light grey circle is the Crug Mawr. Mr. James theorizes that the Welsh "longbows" drove off Flemish infantry in front, to which Fitz Martin responded with a knightly charge, that was affected by bowfire enough that it failed and the knights veered off to their right [down in pic] and their retreat precipitated a panicky retreat by the rest of the army in the second image. They retreated back to Cardigan pursued by the victorious Welsh, whereupon the panic resulted in the bridge becoming overloaded and collapsing, with many English drowning.

And now to battle! Below, a small hill representing the summit of Crug Mawr, with the rest of the table being the "gentle" slope towards the Welsh. In retrospect, I should have given FitzMartin an uphill advantage all across the table. Something to try next time.

FitzMartin has a Freeman [OHW Levy], a Knight with FitzMartin and his standard attached, a Flemish Serjeants [OHW Men-at-Arms] and a Bowman [OHW Archers]. Plan is for the Bowmen to soften up the knights charge, who will be supported by the Flemish on the left and Freemen on the Right. Behind them, a monk mans the sacred spring of St. Swiven, praying its healing power bless the wounded.
Note: all types are identical to the OHW rules in their relative values, altho my rules are different in many ways - for one thing, the mechanics are finished up! I also use the 3d6 method and a few other nuances.

Welsh host. Archers of Ceredigion to the front [these rated same as the opposing crossbows, making up any difference in numbers and rate of fire and some possibly more powerful "long bows", perhaps really "longer bows" in the hands of the more skillful]. 

Behind are two Units of Gwynedd Freemen each flanked by a Unit of Mounted Serjeants [OHW Cavalry], the personal followers or "Teulu" of Owain. They can also throw javelins like light cavalry. To the right is Owain Gwynedd and his standard [a stand-in, of course]. He gives a +1 to Rally attempts with the standard, and has a dice in melee of the same value as the unit to which he's attached. FitzMartin does the same for his side.

Turn 1. Welsh are now properly deployed and have the Initiative [IN]. Their archers proceed to shower the mercenary crossbowmen with arrows [at least they are standing in shade now...] getting 1 Hit and 3 Hits. As one Unit got three Hits in one shot, the crossbows now have a Permanent Hit [yellow]. A PH reduces the number of Hits a Unit may rally off, keeping it closer to the break point of 7.

All Units are canted slightly to the flank to make their movement to battle positions easier. As all Units in this game only get one Turn [which can precede or follow movement], it is better to save the turn for the end of the Move if you are approaching the enemy.

Turn 1 - end. Welsh cavalry move to flanks, with their Freemen moving up to support them, albeit somewhat slower [as Moves are partially diced, one can't always be certain of final positions - this adds welcome friction and tactical challenge to the game]. English take advantage of moving second to shift all their forces right, hoping to gain a local advantage before the two left Welsh Units can re-position. Might work...

Turn 2. Woah! Change that to "should work" as the English seize the IN by beating the Welsh roll by 2 or more! English will now have the first Actions Phase. I see a charge...

...and a general advance. Unfortunately for the English, the Knights roll a bit low, inflicting only two Hits as FitzMartin misses. His infantry rush to support him in his bold venture.

Turn 2 Welsh. Right archers shower the knights with arrows, inflicting three Hits [dice are doubled due to shooting into the Rear Side. Welsh cavalry underperform despite the presence of Owain Himself! Left archers send crossbowmen packing with a little help from the javelins of the left Teulu. The Welsh firepower is 5 Hits from their Army a turn, v. 1.5 Hits a turn from the English, and they are starting to make this advantage felt.

Welsh turn 2 end. The Freemen jump in against the knights, doubtless to help their leader. They put two more Hits on, but don't destroy the knights. Still, this is a good example of the downside of gaining an advantage - the Knights have gotten themselves into trouble by outrunning their supports! But the Welsh shooting makes it hard to sit back instead.

Turn 3, English hold the IN. They fight desperately, the Knights putting 3 Hits [so a PH] on Owain's Teulu, and the Freemen take 2 Hits. Unfortunately, the English Freemen don't make it into contact. Note that there is no flank advantage against these small, somewhat disorderly formations - only a bonus against the Rear Side in shooting and melee.

To no avail. Welsh Turn 3 sees the Knights flee; the Flemings and foot hold the field.

Turn 4, the Welsh seize the IN back! The Flemish are attacked on all sides and showered with arrows [Bowmen can shoot into a melee as long as they have Line of Sight] as the Teulu retreat to rally off some Hits. Anglo-Norman hopes are evaporating quickly...

...and are shattered when the Freemen roll a '1' and can only move 3.5", not enough for contact against the Welsh Freemen! Can it get any worse??

Turn 5, the Flemish rout, surrounded and with arrows sticking out of them like porcupines.

The English Freemen get stuck in, but the combination of Welsh infantry and horse quickly has them fighting against the odds. Still, the dice COULD fail the Welsh!

Turn 6, Owain rides back into the fray, unwilling to accept losses to his professional fighters of Gwynedd. Still, the English are fighting well, and the Welsh...are underperforming, doubtless due to fatigue. Bowmen are now hopelessly out of position.

Finally on Turn 7, the English are not just broken, but handsomely slaughtered as no less than 7 Hits are inflicted on them in one go! The yellow dice should be Red, actually.

Well, this was a tough battle for FitzMartin, but I really thought he had a chance despite his crossbows getting wiped out when he seized the IN. Unfortunately, he outran his supports and the Welsh had thought ahead to have theirs close at hand [typical problem with knights, keeping them supported...]. I was happy to get back into the field with this game and get the Welsh on the table!

Tune in tomorrow for Game 2!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Vendel Dwarves - gratuitous pics

Come and Take them!
Vendel Dwarves / Dwerrows in all their glory. Altho they are not as naturalistic and dynamic as the Perry sculpts for GW, they mix up well in formation and will look good on a uni-base like my other Dark Ages figs. Obviously, these will be heavy infantry!

I was feeling a bit of regret at tearing them off their individual bases, but seeing them now I do think they will look a lot better on one base, just like my other 25mm figs. There are more than enough for a dense base, even leaving off the King, his standard and a couple of the fanciest fellows to be heroes.

The King and his Standard Bearer. The green with red highlights is not for Christmas - they are naturally sympathetic colors from the color wheel, a piece of insight I learned perusing various Citadel sites, like 'Eavy Metal. Much as I dislike the company and their games, they did have a lot of great artistry in both sculpts and paint jobs. Shame their business model has made them out to be jerks, erhm, sorry, "wankers".

Above shields are a mix of 15mm Greek shield transfers and Micron Pen hand work.

Cultural Note: "It may be observed that in this book [LoTR] as in The Hobbit the form dwarves is used, although the dictionaries tell us that the plural of dwarf is dwarfs. It should be dwarrows (or dwerrows), if singular and plural had each gone its own way down the years, as have man and men, or goose and geese."  J.R.R.Tolkein
I'm ready to call them Dwerrows, at some point when it won't throw everyone off.

Vendel Norse Dwarves
images from:

I think my work is pretty comparable to that above!

The above shields are almost entirely brush for the beige and green, brown or red Micron pens for the finer work. The inspiration for the patters is mainly from Saxon and Tolkein Dwarf illustrations, e.g. their columns and other architectural details.

King of the Hill is important...especially if you're short, and well, own a hill or two.

GW LOTR Dwarf rangers fight amidst the ruins of manling civilization.

Closeup - the hair is especially well done, I believe these are Perry sculpts.

I do look forward to painting more of these, and also more of the Gripping Beast sculpts that Colin did. Sure, if pressed, I'd have to say that the LoTR/GW work the Perry Bros did is a level or two up on the sculpting ladder. However, there is something to be said for "style".
Vendel's Dwarven Fyrd
Ditto with these fellows, of which I've a bunch. ,

The Vendel Dwarf force has 14 warriors [bondi?] 5 Carls, the King and his Standard painted. Additionally, unpainted in the bag [below] are another 21 armored warrior bondi, and 16 Fyrd, plus 6 more of the GW archers and two GW Heroes [plus a couple of Gimlis in various poses]. While there isn't a perfect mesh of GW and Vendel, I have to use the LoTR heroes no matter what, due to their movie likenesses and excellent sculpting.

I will have to paint up these "Fird" in the colors of the "There and Back Again" dwarves!

The total force will come in at 5 Units: 1 Housecarl, 2 Thegn / Fyrd, 2 archer units [Brigans, but superior due to armor and swords]. They'll need one ally, which will most likely be some Manlings from a nearby trading town...somewhere. Most likely Welsh spearmen.

Next time - cracking them off the bases and mounting them!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Dark Ages and Lord of the Rings...

...Two great tastes that taste great together!
Just like some of our favorite Halloween candy.
A match made in.... Wait a minute, where's Chuck Norris? | HEY, YOU GOT YOUR CHOCOLATE IN MY PEANUT BUTTER WELL, YOU GOT PEANUT BUTTER ON MY CHOCOLATE | image tagged in memes,vladimir putin,donald trump,chuck norris,reese's | made w/ Imgflip meme maker
Well, had no idea it was a Putin-Trump level concern...

It's no secret that LOTR is strongly based in the Dark Ages of history, especially that of Anglo-Saxon England. Rather than the elaborate themes of the High Middle Ages such as Camelot, pageantry of the joust, etc, it's from an earlier, simpler time, when mere survival was more an issue and a strong monarchy neither assumed nor looked upon as "good".
Related image
Third Age or Dark Age? Hard to tell, really.

Plenty of descriptions from the book make it clear that Gondor probably has more to do with Late Rome or Byzantium than Richard the Lionhearted, even though there are some visits and references to "Easterlings" who fight with Mumaks or Oliphaunts. The films emphasize this with lots of fighting on foot except for the Lombards, erm, Rohirrim, who certainly add dash to the battle for Minas Tirith, and actually in the second and third films in general:
Related image
The Franks probably saw this soon after the Lombards crossed the Alps...

With "Sound Officer's Call!" Steve on a 10mm Warhammer Fantasy painting streak, and the development of my own "Spear to the Strife: Fast-play Medieval Rules" pretty much done, it is time to think of the figures, armies, hobby projects and plans to move things along. With it is my - admittedly reluctant - thinking that it is time to divest myself of 28mm Heroic Fantasy Armies and focus on 25mm Armies, and along with that move to also focus more on LOTR as a fantasy genre than the icky-sticky Warhammer Fantasy world [which also has some of the most annoying rules ever].

This is a bit tough b/c the WH figs are big, boldly sculpted, and I've a shed-load of them. It is especially tough since many are painted. I'm considering an intermediate step whereby I switch to skirmishing with heroic 28mm fantasy, for which there are Legions of rule sets and options, and it'd keep the painting / sculpting / crafty side of things going. But do I really need two parallel projects? Also, LOTR offers a wider audience due to the movies, than WH Fantasy. Plus, WHF 8th / 9th or Age of Sigmar are pretty dead / unattractive rule sets. I can play Kings of War with my 25mm stuff, on the very bases on which I have them now [and which are featured in these posts HERE].

Adding even MORE complexity to the situation is that there's really THREE different size/style issues at play, since nearly all my dwarves [dwarrows or dwerrows if you want to get even more Tolkien-y] are from the venerable Vendel line. These sculpts by  Colin Patten are in a bulky, old-school style that itself invokes what Tolkien would've expected from a LOTR line of figures. They remind me a bit of the Grenadier figs I had growing up, but are have cleaner lines which also gives them a bit of a stylized appearance.
Vendel Norse Dwarves
images from:
Vendel's Dwarven Fyrd
Colin's work lives on in many lines of figures by Gripping Beast, and now he continues his dwarf line at Conqueror Models and he himself can be found HERE at his website. In addition to his LOTR inspired dwarfs, I do have a bunch of his Gripping Beast, including a unit of Dark Age infantry inspired by the pretty adequate Winter King books.

The main aesthetic issue is that there's three completely different styles at play here: realistic 28mm sculpts, largely by the Perry Bros, 28mm Heroic by various GW sculptors [including the Perry Bros again!] and the Old Glory 25s sculpted by Dave Allsop [I think] which are dynamic and sculpted to game / paint with, in that important features are exaggerated for ease of painting and viewing from three feet away.

and a bit closer up...

Old Glory are some of my favorite "battle scale" miniatures in that they look great on the gaming table and are easy to work with, plus very reasonably priced.

Below, the movie realism of LOTR, granted, not a great photo, but you can see that the Cave Troll came out quite well, and close to the movie appearance.

Do these scales mix well? Kinda sorta. Patten's work is fine with Old Glory in terms of bulk and style. The 28mm LOTR figs are proportional to real life, so the faces and hands look small [but are correctly sized for a human, not sure about the goblins...] and the LOTR mixes best with itself, IMHO. On the table, the units do look a bit different, but it isn't a big deal. The easiest way to pursue would be to paint up the Patten and Old Glory items first, but I've also gotten some other plastics by Conquest, Fireforge and Wargames Factory [Warlord] in the mix. So maybe it is hopeless and I'm just overthinking the whole thing??

In any event, the priority of work will be:

  1.  Magic rules. We need Warhammer Fantasy WAAAGH! and Schools of Magic for Steve's 10mm Armies as that should play up soon. I'd like to work on LOTR magic type rules, also, from the excellent [if complex] LoTR Fantasy Battles game.
  2. Basing my 25mm Dark Ages stuff, and to start re-basing LOTR and my 20+ Vendel Dwarves into a Unit [of which I have 40 more to paint, incidentally]. This will get me playing Fantasy "Spear to the Strife" fantasy on my own.
  3. Finishing up my Anglo-Saxons who are NEARLY DONE and offer the most unique and challenging force for SttS - all Infantry, much of it heavy Sergeants.
  4. Painting up more Vendel Dwarfs, Old Glory skirmishers, and Dark Age Gripping Beast. Not to mention some plastics I've been slavering to do for ages! I especially need heroes to be finished up and based for the game.
Soooo, let's see what I manage to get to next!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Circle your wagons! War Wagons in One-Hour Wargames

Sure, go ahead and charge your knights into this!

The use of wagons in battles has occured in many periods of history. Here, I want to put forward some ideas of how to incorporate these difficult to use but possibly effective weapons into One-Hour Wargames and its many spin-offs [like mine!]. This is meant to be a pretty quick post on how to express these in the game rules, and possible variations through history, not an exhaustive investigation of the design issues.

Generally, the number of wagons represented by a Unit will depend on the scale of your OHW, but given an effective crossbow range of 12", we can say that a 5" unit is probably composed of about 5-15 wagons.

Heavy War Wagon, e.g. Hussite
These may be mobile, and for all practical purposes, are armored. However, once engaged they can't maneuver much. I'd count them as armored for shooting and melee, but immobile for a OHW. Therefore they will be less useful in games where the set up area is less advanced onto the board. I'm OK with that. I'd also allow them to shoot but only at d6-2 since they are not a mass of shooters, but rather a scattered bunch of shooters in cover, e.g. skirmishers. I'd also say that Cavalry can't charge them, but they can't charge at all! To summarize
  • Armored
  • Immobile
  • Shoot d6-2
  • Can't charge, can't be charged by Cavalry
  • no flank or rear benefits or penalties

Wagon Lager
Rather than being war wagons, these are regular wagons being used as a stockade, e.g. by Goths at Adrianople. I'd give them "integral" infantry. I'd say that they'd be the similar as above, but without any shooting ability. As the wagons aren't walled and armored [they are transport wagons] one may want to make them vulnerable to flank and rear attacks as normal. As their function is more akin to a wall than a "tank", perhaps they would only count as armored against melee attacks, not shooting, as many Soldiers wouldn't be able to get a good benefit from them as cover. Furthermore, the armor of the infantry manning them would have to be taken into account, and ancient armies weren't very likely to be fully armored, except for Roman Legions, of course. So to summarize:
  • Armored [v. melee only?]
  • Immobile
  • Can't charge, can't be charged by Cavalry
Medieval Carraccio
These are a standard mounted on a single wagon with an elite guard, not so much a unit of several wagons. As such, I'd say they are nothing more than a heavy infantry Unit, counting as Armored. The "Armored" status takes into account both the better equipment of the defenders and their higher morale defending the Carraccio when attacked. One could make them move a bit slower, and if you use Rally rules [like I do] they could rally better.

For some of the scenarios, these armies would have some real disadvantages. I still think it'd be an interesting scenario challenge to make these work, and I have to say that I'm tempted to modify some of my medieval transport wagons and try them out - I could put on some removable fighting walls made out of balsa wood.

There are some nice models knocking around, including with the Perry Brothers. However, I'd be tempted to check out the 3D printing world, as this should do pretty well in plastic. Definitely a project for another time, but I got to thinking about chariots, elephants and camels, and this seemed like a natural progression.

LMK what you think!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Huffalumps, Oliphaunts or Snuffleupagae?

ELEPHANTS. The bane of rule designers, they are usually too powerful...
Download (1) 

or too weak...

...and hard to get "just right".
Image result for war elephants

I've returned from my 1:1 Army adventure, and despite being pretty wiped out, wanted to finish this post from a several months ago. Apologies to followers for my absence, but "Duty Calls"! Hoping to post a batrep soon, preferably with an unusual scenario that I've never tried before, and some more modeling, painting and basing.

As one must expect with wargame rules, it is hard to get the right balance of history, playability, and "feel", and the more unusual the unit / weapon / personality the more difficult it gets. This problem is worsened due to the lack / unreliability of sources, and the general failure of most rule designers - the vast majority - to work out their mechanics well.

Some of the worst but most common are Chariots, Camels and Elephants [setting aside flaming pigs as something best left as a unique scenario rule]. One of the benefits of a simpler set of rules like One-Hour Wargames is that there are fewer mechanics to hash up, but it also requires a bunch of playtesting to get the right balance, and said balance may even have to change a bit depending on history. Remember that we are trying to keep as close to the 4/6-Unit / 30-scenario paradigm as possible, as that's the heart of the game.

Overall, I lean into the "less is more" when it comes to special rules and exceptions, so here's my take on some of the more common "unusual" Unit types from the Ancient World:

Aside from being more sensitive to certain types of terrain, chariots are nothing more than platform cavalry. They can be classed as Cavalry for OHW if armed with javelin, spear or lance. If relying on bows, they are best expressed as mounted Skirmishers [shoot, move as Cavalry =12", can't enter rough terrain, etc].
EDIT: note that wheeled vehicles are more vulnerable to terrain than "legged" animals like horses, so it "may" be interesting to have a piece of terrain that is prohibited to the chariots but not to foot or horse units - LMK if you try this out.

Popular wisdom says that horses don't like the smell of them, and perhaps the size is an issue, also. If one buys into this, then one can halve Hits inflicted upon them by any horse-mounted cavalry Unit [said mechanic coming from the Pike and Shot rules]. You can instead drop them one melee level, from +2 [Knights] to 0, and from 0 [Cavalry] to -2. Some say that Camels are slower than horses - they are also more durable and mobile in soft sand, so personally I'd have them move the same as cavalry, but if they must be slower you can give them a 9 or 10" move.
Edit: same thought as above...maybe have a piece of "soft sand" terrain that camels can get thru but other units move thru at half speed?

I’m not a snuffleupagus expert, but my understanding of them is that historically:
- act as a barrier to cavalry
- vulnerable to missiles
- can’t be screened [way too tall]
- can be an effective fighting platform, but generally speaking more of a support animal.
If these are true, then
- can’t be charged by Cavalry,
- normal Hits from archery
- If with lots of escorting skirmishers, then the unit becomes, in essence, a light infantry Unit that can’t be charged by cavalry. 
NOTE: due to their large size [and therefore easy to hit with missile weapons] armored elephants wouldn't count as armored from shooting. I'd upgrade them from "light" status of D6-2 to D6 instead as I see the armor as more of a melee benefit.

I don’t see anything else they need to be effective, frankly. Cavalry are the natural menace to light troops, so if they can’t be charged by cavalry that should be enough. So I’d use them in OHW terms as Skirmishers, d6-2 shooting / melee. If they were armored, had fighting platform, and were well – supported by integral infantry, let them fight as d6. Note that this would make them pretty tough for Cavalry to face - the horse can't charge them, but they are "blocked" and have to take shooting Hits. This would be pretty useful without overdoing it, I think.

When destroyed in melee [read NT’s melee rule concept again] everything directly behind 6” takes 2d6 Hits, or 12” takes d6 Hits [depending on your take of elephant rampage] as they rampage out of the fight. One could also dice for a direction, with 1-4 being directly forward / back / left / right and 5-6 is just destroyed, no rampage at all. 

With 6 Units, you shouldn’t have more than 1 elephant, unless it is a very rare list like Indian or Burmese. Be wary of making them into the Tiger Tank of the Ancient world! Elephants may be even smarter than horses, and horses won’t charge into formed, steady infantry – they look like a wall. One can assume that elephants have had some battle training, but it may not be effective if their driver is killed.

OK, so there's a few thoughts on some of these unusual troop types. I believe that even with just the special rules available in the OHW rules, there's enough to handle most situations. Trying to work with the Rules as Written but crossing over the occasional rule or unit type is well within the spirit of the rules, I think.

Happy to hear what people have to say about these special units - just post a comment. I have to say, that I'd really like to try out some of these units now - they'd be very interesting!