The Viking Legal Team in Action

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

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Mordheim! The Battle for the Ruined City Begins...

Well, judging from the cover, it's already well under way!

The Illustrious and Nefarious Bands
Left, Generic Mercenaries [all figs armed as depicted]: 
Hero with Hvy Armor, Sword, Shield, Helmet.
Champion with Hvy Armor, Helmt, 2-H Sword
2 Marksmen, Handgun, Pistol, Helmet
2 Spearmen, Spear, Shield, Helmet
[created with battle roster v.2 from Broheim - CLICK]

Right, Undead
Vampire - Bow, 
Necromancer - Bow, Necromancy Spell - "Call of Vanhel"  allows a fig to make a second move in the Shoot Phase.
2 Dregs - Bow, groveling, whining
2 Ghouls, 
2 Dire Wolves,
Sort of a Sherwood Forest Undead warband...

Rolled for scenario, got "lower Warband rating picks scenario". As we didn't know what to pick, I rolled again and we got Scenario 6, "Chance Encounter".

Basically, you set up diagonally opposite each other; the side that sets up second has the advantage of seeing the other's deployment, but can't be within 14" of the opponent's figs, so is pushed back farther into their table quarter - clever!

View after setup - looks like we erred in spreading out past our respective table quarters...oh well, next time...

Cunning plan for my setting up second: 
Two Handgunners cover the open space from cover. 
To left, diabolical Vampire with Dreg on 3F. Below, just visible at Ground level, is ghoul, with Necromancer & Dire Wolf behind him.

To the right around the corner of the right-most Handgunner, is the other portion of the Undead Warband [blurry]: Zombie, Ghoul, Dire Wolf, with a Dreg above in the 2F w'bow.
Stacked up from unflankable position: 2 Spearmen, Champion on left, Hero on right.  Ready to serve bench warrant for "unlicensed use of human corpse for diabolical purposes".

First turn, exchange of shooting: Vampire 1, Handgunners 0.
Above, Handgunner "Out of Action"

My assault team partially advances into the gap - despite all figures having Ld 8 from the Hero Captain, both spearmen fail with an 11 and 10, representing what will be their highest dice rolls for a long while.  Undeterred, the Champion and Hero engage the Zombie and Ghoul; Undead counter by Dire Wolves re-positioning.
Despite getting first strike for charging [missing], Hero is Knocked Down by Ghoul who Hits, then rolls Critical Hit to Wound [2x6s], but despite the bonus hit only knocks down the Hero, twice [2x2s]!  His head bounced on the pavement...

Dire Wolves Charge in, only to miss with their slavering jaws, 4 times...This trend would continue for both sides...

By Turn 4, there have been plenty of chances for the Mercenaries to tip the scales in their favor, but poor dice have them still slogging away with an Out of Action Hero at their feet, and two Knocked Down undead beside them: Dire Wolf and Zombie. "They just won't DIE, Sir!!" say the Spearmen...

By Turn 6, the situation has further eroded for "the side that breathes", with the Necromancer and Ghoul slowly walking over, the Champion Out of Action, and only the Ghoul Out of Action. The Mercenaries are struggle to roll the series of 4+'s needed to take out the Undead, and then the 5+ needed to put them Out of Action.
With the Champion Out of Action, the Mercenaries have to pass their Rout Test, which they consistently do for the rest of the game - stupidly, perhaps, but heroically for certain.

Vampire dashes over [12" Run!] while Spearmen finally puts a Dire Wolf Out of Action.  But the Vampire is a serious killer...

Turn 8 isn't that great for Mercenaries. Repositioned Hangunner gets a Hit on Vampire with Handgun, then fails to Wound - is Knocked Down by Vampire, who fails to put him Out of Action. Dreg mosies across the table after Falling from height.  Closer Dreg Knocked Down from Falling, also [Dregs failed the climbing portion of Warband School, apparently].
Above, Lone Spearman fights on...

Finally, Undead Turn 8, Vampire turns around and serves an "Out of Action" sandwich to the final spearman, stomping his face into the dirt in a most diabolical fashion!

Undead clean house for 6
Mercenaries get a measly 2

There's some fun stuff about Warpstone in the scenario, and basically each of my Heroes had one shard, and they both end up in the hands of the Undead, who walk away with 3 total.  This mostly impacts campaigns, so for now it's just bragging rights.

I feel like the game rewards the opening and positioning tactics, but once you are engaged in melee numbers come into play.  I really needed some more bods, and will remedy that for next time.

The Handguns are too expensive and only shoot every other turn, so it is certainly bows for next time.

Overall, the game was hilarious and has tons of fluff and feel to it, and is a must for anyone who really loves the Warhammer world.  With free resources at and 10-15 classic Warhammer figures, anyone get throw down and have fun with this game!

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Fighting for Empire with Neil Thomas' AMW

The rules and changes worked well - satisfied, I got my buddy Ken to throw his Germans and Imperial Romans on the table over at his place. After a few explanations, we set up and had a pretty gripping battle that oriented around key decisions:
- when to commit the main battle lines
- how to manage the two flanks: on the one hand, you would like to gain an advantage and flank the line. OTOH, you don't want to risk losing your flank troops and getting rolled up yourself!

The Romans had all the legions in the center. On the left flank, covering a steep hill, they put two Light Infantry [Jav] to delay two Warbands. The center four Warbands faced off against the legions, while the Roman right tangled their Roman heavy cavalry and Auxilia against German Heavy Cavalry and Light Infantry [Bow] - then a Warband jumped in....

Below, the decision as to when the main battle lines should clash was not easy to make. I made a partial commitment with one Legion against a Warband, rolled poorly, and quickly found the entire right half of my army in jeopardy as the flank was already doing poorly, with the cavalry slowly losing to the German cavalry, and the Auxilia slowly losing to a warband.

Below, from the right, the Roman heavy cavalry, Auxilia and a legion hang on best they can against a lot of German pressure in the form of their heavy cavalry and two Warbands [the Light Infantry [bow] dashed away before the Auxilia could finish them off]. To their left, one Legion is doing poorly, over half gone. On the hill, the legions are holding their own or staring down their opponents.

Below, on the left, the Roman Light Infantry shot, maneuvered and fought to destroy a Warband and most of a second. This cost them nearly all of both Light Infantry, and the steep hill protecting the Legion's left flank is pretty much secure - there are no strong troops around as there is only one stand of Warband and one stand each of two light Units.

Below, a couple turns later, the Roman left legion had pushed back the opposing Warband, while the Warband on the hill destroyed a Light Infantry - it then began advancing against the rear of the legions, but was in a very weakened state, only one Base. The Roman right units were all destroyed and the center legion in reserve had to slowly shift to the right, just barely making it in time to prevent an ugly flank attack.
Unfortunately, the loss of the right-most legion resulted in a break test, which the Romans failed, resulting in a German Victory!

No complaints with how it played out - there being no decisive result in the center or the left, the right flank ended up deciding the battle. Had the Romans passed their Break Test, they may have forced a roll by the Germans instead. 

One problem was that the Germans managed to extricate their units from destruction [except one warband] while the Romans were not able to do so. Something the Roman player should keep in mind next time...

And next time happened just a few weeks later....

Monday, September 5, 2022

Hoplimania 2b: RULES - "Tearless Hoplite Battles"

"We're ready to share our culture with you today!"
second painting by the obviously talented Karl Kapinsky, from here:

Another battle, another opportunity for Tears! After the very strong narrative and enjoyable time I had with THB last post [CLICK] I played a few more games, made a few tweaks and edits, incorporated Mike T's answers, and felt like I could do another AAR with some interesting happenings.

Again, Corinthians are on the top, Thebans are on the bottom.

Both sides used a Traditional Deployment, so had 2 Veteran, 3 Average and 2 Novice hoplite Units from [their] right to left. Both sides chose [I diced] to shift right to overlap the other, resulting in a large overlap of three Units a side!  I considered redoing this, but wanted to test the full range of possibilities in the rules so stuck with it. Both sides chose to Attack instead of Defend.
The player's card hands are visible to the sides because this is a solo game. I can't cheat since I barely remember what the cards may mean without the rules...
In the pre-battle shooting phase, the Corinthians [top] suffered a Disordered Unit, but inflicted 2 Disorders and a Shaken result on the hapless Thebans [bottom].

Turn 1, Advance Phase. The Corinthians come out with a very decent line - a couple units only one zone [square] out of placed - the Strategos himself is one ahead, and one of the Average Hoplites is back one. One of the Novices didn't hear a command, apparently...has been left two zones behind.
The Thebans have very random rolls, and are spread all over the place - ugh! The Theban Strategos [General] plays a couple of cards to get one Unit a couple zones advanced, and improve the Courage of another. The Corinthians play one card.

Both sides then check the Omens, or Sphagia, sacrificing a goat (poor thing). I may have used cards or rolled, forget which - rolling is my idea. Net result is both sides think the Omens favorable and each  gets one Unit improved one level of courage - The Corinthians take an Uneasy Unit and make it Firm, and the Thebans an Uneasy Unit goes up to Eager.

Both sides now must make a plan for the large overlap they have against each other. The Corinthians keep straight on while the Thebans start Maneuvering one Unit by making a left Turn. In THB, Units can't start maneuvering and leaving their original column on the grid until / unless they don't have an enemy Unit in the column - so they either need to defeat it or have overlapped.

Turn 2. As the two sides come within striking distance, the Thebans develop their outflanking plan while the Corinthians successfully slow their left-most Unit in response - they needed 3+ to succeed which they got. The Theban left-most Unit is already waaaaay behind so no effort spent there, which is good since the limited maneuvering ability is going into the Veteran Units on the right.

Turn 3. The phalanxes clash!  The Corinthians have almost all their Units in a solid line, playing a card to help with this. The Thebans look like they're a mess, but actually they are succeeding in getting into a better position to outflank the Corinthian left. The Corinthians are now Maneuvering their right-most hoplite Unit to cross the board and attack the Thebans at the right time. As the Units are a bit cumbersome maneuvering, one has to plan ahead - I enjoy this "realism".
In the Melee phase, the Thebans have one Unit Pushed Back, Shaken, but Break one Corinthian and Push back another in Disorder.
In Turn 3 Rally Phase, Corinthians re-organize one Unit on a '4', but fail to do so with another, using a Card for a bonus Rally, rolling a '1'. The Thebans fail to reorganize one Unit on the black '3' below.
The Corinthians have only lost one Unit, so easily pass their army break roll.

Turn 4. Chaos descends on the battlefield, as both sides organize their right-most Units for flanking maneuvers, while the neat battle line disappears in a flurry of combat results. Thebans have two Pushed Back Shaken, Corinthians one.

Thebans roll high and Rally off a Shaken, while the Corinthians fail to do so.

Theban long-term planning bears fruit, and we start to see a small battle line developing to the right. Corinthians are not quite so organized. The scrum in the center continues.

Turn 5. Corinthians break two Novice Hoplite Units, and lose one of theirs.
Both sides easily pass their army break point test.

By Turn 7, the Thebans had a neat phalanx of four Units heading left across the table. The Corinthians are not quite as organized. Both - again - overlap the other's left flank. Thebans have one very game Unit that is fighting hard in the center and has Pushed Back the opposition, Shaken and Disorganized. The nearest Thebans can't help as they have enemy approaching down their row so can't stop or Maneuver. Both have lost two Units, and both have five on the battlefield.
The Theban then Rallies off a Disorganized - very disciplined, hard-fighting Unit! 

Turn 8, the overlapping phalanxes clash.
Despite the use of Cards to improve the rolls, the Theban Unit is broken in a dreaded 6 v. 1 roll-off.
But the Thebans manage to break the center Corinthian in a 5-1 roll off!

Both sides now had lost a third Unit, and the Thebans failed their Army Break Test.

I started to execute the rules for withdrawing from the battlefield, but it was late and I was too tired to make headway on them, so called it a Corinthian win.

Overall, the game had plenty of narrative and the small differences in each side's phalanx, combined with the overlap on the right, and each side's plan to exploit it, shaped the game:
- Corinthians faced a Theban left that was lagging way behind, slowing the confrontation and the likely result of losing a couple units.
- Thebans faced a neat Corinthian line and Maneuvered very effectively, also destroying the Corinthian left, but finished the process much better organized.

Ultimately, the results were close enough that the battle was decided by a dice roll, which I am fine with since both sides were at almost 50% losses and should be faced with significant force morale rolls. Had the battle continued, it would largely have depended on the dice results, with whoever lost a Unit first having a 50% chance to break.

Very enjoyable time, but must carefully read the rules for withdrawing from the battle after failing the army break test when more awake!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Hoplimania 2a: RULES - "Tearless Hoplite Battles"

"The arbitration team has arrived to discuss our territorial boundaries..."
by the obviously talented Karl Kapinsky, from here:

Tearless Hoplite Battles was published in Slingshot 251 by Mike Tittensor, a game designer lurking in his mountain stronghold somewhere in central Europe, who is rumored to be a direct descendant of Vlad the Endgamer... but rumor abounds. I heard about them from that analyzer of wargames, Dale Hurtt [CLICK], who always seems to have something intelligent to say about game designs - so of course I set out to find the rules immediately.

I was able to track Mike down with the help of a few former Neil Thomas operatives recently returned from his stronghold in Nottingham woods - it's amazing what a few pints will do to loosen the tongue! Despite being busy with other gaming tasks and analyzing pork cuisine in the Czech Republic, Mike graciously found time to have a clandestine courier drop them off into my inbox.

A quick read and I knew I wanted to give them a go. They use a grid, are very period specific to the era of the Greek hoplite, 7th-5th centuries BC, and have mechanics to restrict players options to traditional hoplite warfare. They are also fraught with narrative and feel and flavor. And I like having historical limitations and flavor!  

EDIT: Mike himself sent a winged-footed courier [in what appeared to be a ballet outfit] bearing a message that said:

"The rules are designed to reflect how to get a long line of potters, bakers, masons and wine merchants to advance in a straight line through the dusty plains of Greece when your C3 infrastructure consists of a bloke with a loud voice and a kid with some pan pipes. 

Men love war…but they love talking about it over a crater of wine a lot more. This is a set of rules for those battles."

So...let's get out onto the plains of Greece!

The game is logically arranged by phases: 
Battle [repeated], and, 
The Battle Phase is the repeating Game Turn in which the hoplites maneuver and fight.

I didn't have a 40mm grid ready to go for my partially completed DBA hoplite armies, so used an unmarked grid, which worked fine. With 7 hoplite units a side and some spaces on the flanks, there were 13 columns by 15 rows for the grid. 
I then: 
  • determined the hoplites quality and bravery, 
  • set up the battle line, 
  • chose a tactic [offense or defense], and finally, 
  • determined any attempt by a phalanx to overlap the other. 
As the two phalanxes were the same size, and it was the first play, I kept them straight on at each other - simple! Not having any specific forces, I will just call them Corinthians [top] and Thebans [bottom].

I then began the Approach with missile attacks. Lights are abstracted into missile attacks that occur once a turn so players can concentrate on the hoplites. Still, I had some bases, so I tossed them out there to mark what columns the lights would attack - I randomly rolled these since I had no idea what to do!  I ended up disordering two Corinthian Veteran hoplite Units and the same two on the Thebans [red pipe cleaners]. 
Note that the Veterans on both sides are on the right, the position of honor. Both sides had two Veterans on the right, three Average next, and on their left two Novice hoplite units.

Next, the actual approach was made. These are rolled with a d6 and modified, and then the Unit moves forward that many spaces. This gives a large spread of outcomes, so the hoplite phalanx is quite scattered as can be seen below.
Part of the design's challenge is for players to order their lines as best as possible before contact. This is complicated by mandatory forward movement combined with limited ability to add or slow movement.

The cards provide buffs and bonus opportunities. In this case, the Corinthians played the Queen of Diamonds which allowed them to advance a lagging veteran hoplite. The Thebans played the Jack and Queen of Hearts, allowing them to advance one unit and re-roll the bravery of another.

Finally, the battle phase occurred, with all Units advancing one space, then some missile shooting resulting in another Disordered Corinthian [white six].
Finally both sides attempted to rally one unit that was in disorder, and rolling 1's they failed.

For Turn 2, the Battle phase brought no one into melee, but I succeeded in rallying one Corinthian from Disorder, and reigning in one Disordered Veteran Theban Unit.
Clearly, the Thebans have managed to get their phalanx in better order, with two main blocks and one well ahead and one lagging behind.

Turn 3 saw the two sides get into strike range, so the success of two Units removing their Disorder was welcomed. 

Turn 4 saw two opposing units both about to enter the same space - as movement is simultaneous, they had to dice off...
...and the Thebans took the space first.
In this specific instance, it resulted in the Corinthian halting a space early and getting supported by three other units - the alternative was to advance alone, so this was optimal outcome for the Corinthians!
Additionally, the Corinthians placed a card that pushed back a Theban in Disorder. 

Overall, the Corinthians have managed their left better than the Thebans their right.

Combat was then fought out, with the Thebans breaking one Corinthian and advancing, despite being overlapped on one side. Another Theban to the left pushed back it's opponent, Shaken. 
Combat is a simple d6 roll-off with a few modifiers, and comparing the totals for four results: tie, win by 1, 2-3, or 4. A tie is a push with a chance at being disorganized, a 4 breaks the loser who is removed, and the intermediate results are push backs with morale issues.

The Thebans finish a strong turn by playing a card that disordered a Corinthian. 
Having lost a Unit, the Corinthians rolled a 3 to stay in the field easily.

Turn 5, the Thebans continued to kick Corinthian butt, resulting in another unit breaking and another unit shaken.
The Corinthians need to bolster their courage with some wine from the Peleponnese. Liquid courage is better than none at all...
Turn 5 concludes with both sides removing a Disorder on one Unit, and the Corinthians rolling a '4' to remain in the field.

Turn 6, the Corinthians lose another unit, but finally broke a Theban. Both rally off a Disorder and then the Thebans roll a '6' to easily stay on the field - all praise to the bravery from Bacchus!

Finally, on Turn 7, the Thebans break a fifth Corinthian while their other Novice Unit was also broken. Fantastically, both sides fail their army break point!  The Thebans had to roll a '1' [success!] and the Corinthians needed a high roll to stick around but rolled a '2'.  In any event, on Points, the result was a minor Victory for the Thebans - failing army morale cost them a Major victory they richly deserved!

What a buncha fun!

The cards presented additional possibilities that can matter but don't dominate the game. I was pretty busy with the rules so forgot to play three of them.

The disordered advance of the phalanxes during this period was pretty exciting, and not orderly or boring at all. This is the somewhat wilder period of hoplite warfare, when disciplined, professional phalanxes were less common than those that charged forward wildly, somewhat disorganized. This was definitely accomplished by the rules, witness the pic for turn 1 with the widely spread hoplite Units, and Turn 4 which has a lot of yellow disordered markers.

The aesthetic of the square grid spaces resulted in the Units appearing more spread out on the table than they were in movement speed. I didn't like the wide spread, and could see using rectangular spaces just for the sake of visual appeal.

Overall, I really liked this free set for its flavorful ambiance and highly structured approach that was evocative of the limits of hoplite phalanxes. While there were some issues with mechanics, there were none that stopped the flow of the game or that impacted the game enough to change an outcome. 

The bottom line is that altho the Corinthians managed to be more orderly at impact The Thebans edged them out in the combat dice rolls.

Will be playing again, soon, but simply MUST make a QRS or condensed set of the rules so I don't have to page around so much. The good news is I'm looking forward to another Tearless Hoplite Battle!