Saturday, 30 November 2019

Lost Battles 200 BC Campaign - Round Four

This week we played out the penultimate round of our Lost Battles campaign with some surprising results. The fixtures were as follows:

Rome vs Gaul
Carthage vs Syracuse
Macedonia vs Numidia

The three battlefields that we diced up this time were Hydapses (a plain), Munda and 2nd Mantinea. The latter is the only scenario in the book to feature impassable terrain.
As previously we each drew 3 cards to determine battlefield, deployment edge and choice of attacker or defender.
Oddly I drew the highest possible card and the lowest, which gave me the chance to choose the battlefield but little else. I chose 2nd Mantinea - not wanting to face swarms of light cavalry on a plain.
Ellimedes chose 2nd to face Nellibal on the battlefield of Munda. This left QVINTVS VITMORVS to lead his legions against Alanix the Gaul on a barren plain.  

Gauls rush forward to face the Romans in the rain

It transpired that it was also Alanix's birthday and the Dice Gods had obviously taken this into account. Within a few moves it was 'down to the triarii', as they say in Rome, and after a few moves more it was all over. Definitely the quickest game of the campaign so far and a resounding defeat for the favourites.

Over at Munda, Ellimedes was torn between defending the hills and advancing onto the plain. The consequent indecision and mid game change of plan possibly contributing to the result - a draw.

Carthaginians cross the river whilst the Syracusans hide in the hills
Meanwhile at Mantinea the Numidians had choice of deployment edge. Thankfully, they chose to deploy on the open side of the battlefield, leaving the Macedonians with impassable hills on both flanks. This enabled Antigonus to mass all his cavalry on the left flank leaving his right secure against the mountainous terrain. The skirmishing Numidians were surprisingly effective (i.e. good dice) but the Macedonian line held on. They in turn put all their effort into their cavalry.

The Macedonian battle line holds steady in the face of a swarm of skirmishing Numidians

The Numidians inevitably succumbed to the strength of the Macedonian cavalry arm, led by Antigonus himself, despite using their mobility to reinforce the zone. The turning point of the game came when a rally attempt by Jimba himself prevented what would have likely been the rout of most of the army.

Veteran Macedonian cavalry strike a mighty blow -
only to be countered by Jimba claiming 'Favour of the Gods'

 Even so the Numidian right centre and left centre zones eventually collapsed and Jimba was forced to retreat with his cavalry to avoid defeat in detail.
By Turn 10 the Numidian centre was hanging on but was surrounded on three sides. One more turn would likely have seen them rout.
Oh well, another draw for Macedon and they maintain their undefeated record - ahem.

Numidians barely hold on until nightfall

So with that surprise result, Alanix the Gaul leaps into first position, with Jimba in second place. By sheer coincidence these two face each other next week - whoever wins that game will claim first place. However, if they draw either Rome or Syracuse can claim joint first place if either of them achieve a win - coincidentally these also face each other next week.
This only leaves Macedon and Carthage - who let's face it are vying for bottom position!

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Rediscovering 'Lost Battles'

At the moment we're having a bit of an 'ancients' resurgence at the club. After our jousting diversion I offered to put on an ancients game and dug out my 'Lost Battles' set up.

This has long been my favourite set of ancients rules but has languished unused for several years now. Not that there is anything wrong with them, it's just that nowadays we're spoiled for choice and there are just so many great game systems out there. That said, it was great to reconnect with an old favourite. As none of the players has played LB before (and one was a complete ancients newbie) I put on 4 historical battles straight from the book, designed to gradually introduce new concepts until all players were reasonably confident with the rules. It must be said that, in my experience, 'Lost Battles' is a 'Marmite' set of rules in that players either love or hate them. Luckily our new players took to the system straight away and I was encouraged enough to suggest a campaign.

I say campaign but it's actually more of a tournament but .......shh.......we don't use the 't' word.
The campaign rules are very simple and are designed to produce a number of battles with random terrain and everyone plays everyone else once, in a sort of league set up. All armies are about the same fighting value (ca. FV 66) with average troops and sprinkling of veterans. I provided six armies for the campaign, namely; Rome, Carthage, Macedon, Syracuse, Gallia and Numidia. We drew cards with the highest card getting first choice of army and working down to the lowest card. Once armies were chosen, players keep the same army for the whole campaign.

Each round there is a bit of a pregame that involves everyone being dealt 3 cards (inspired by the Blood and Plunder pirate rules). Cards are ranked as follows:

The first step each round is to generate 3 battlefields. These are  not only taken from the 'Lost Battles' rule book but also it's predecessors, 'Strategos' and 'Strategos II'. There are 36 possible battlefields but each battlefield can only be used once.

Possible battlefields - shaded battlefields are on a plain
Players then play a card from their hand and choose one of that round's three battlefields, in initiative order.
Similarly, the second card decides who gets the choice of deployment table edge and the third card determines who gets choice of deploying first or second.
Finally, each tabletop encounter checks for weather.

As all armies are about the same fighting value, the handicap system is not used. The winner is the side that holds the battlefield at the end. Battles are all 10 rounds and the attack limit is set at 4 for all battles.

This week we fought round 3 with the following match ups:

Rome vs Macedon (Bibracte)
Syracuse vs Gallia (Crimisus)
Carthage vs Numidia (Leuctra)

Macedonians advance over the stream whilst Romans struggle to deploy

Gauls struggle to cross the River Crimisus

Carthage begins to deploy

Numidians swarm across the plain
So with two rounds yet to play, the scores look like this:

Friday, 18 October 2019

The Ballad of Bold Sir Quincy

Bravely bold Sir Quincy
Rode forth to tournament.
He was not afraid to die,
Oh brave Sir Quincy.

He was not at all afraid
To be killed in nasty ways.
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Quincy

The First bout, Prudent Sir James vs the Savage Sir Neil McGurk...  Polearms.  Quote of the game;
 "I shall pull back my two inches!" 

And Sir James wins the Petain award for the most times a critical failure 1 was rolled during a bout ...
"Oh I`ve rolled another one!"

Bold Sir Quincy gets a thumping from the Bastard. 
"He's swinging it about like a Madman!"

Sir Elliot gives another Right Royal Bashing to Savage Sir Neil of the McGurks...  Warhammers, apparently, rule...

Lord Farthingdale of Waldridge defeats the Bastard Sir Elliot and his Warhammer, winning as Champion of the Foot Combats  Is it just me or is Lorf F something of a hunchback?

The Foot, an archery champion was not decided, and since I was running it I neglected to take any photos.  An Honourable mention to Sir James for his bowshot skills.

And some Impromptu jousting...

Sir Quincy Jousts the McGurk, and my memory fails me as to the result and more importantly as to the winner...

Sir Elliot knocks Lord Farthingdale off his horse, so maiming him as to make remounting impossible.  
Quote: "He knocked me onto my ass!"
Revenge it seems...

Friday, 30 August 2019

Harald the Barrel Victorious but bloodied...

The Swansong of Harald's campaign against all comers.  This time he was attacking the Bretons, a mixture of Scots and Frank's. 

Harald and the boys line up against the Celtic Fringe.

At a conservative estimate there were 250 figures on each side, and probably nearer 300.

Harald comes on, violently assaulting the centre.

The Frank's charge in their cavalry, unsuccessfully...

That has to hurt

The big brawl for the village

And looking from Harald's side as he assaults

King Pepin deserts Lord Oliver, and joins Lord Roland.  It's not going to go well.

On the far left the Vikings assault the bog

And the Frank's hold that wood.

Harald's right is threatened.

But he turns on the Frank's sweeping away the sink unit.

Meanwhile those Scots struggle.

Until the turn of the battle, Brave Harald falls...

The Frank's have another go, with predictably catastrophic results...

And it's officially declared a massacre for both sides.  The Scots Cavalry undertake a magnificent charge routing a warband.  It seemed to me that the Scots had two units remaining, the Frank's three, plus skirmishers and the Vikings five units.

Friday, 23 August 2019

The Reluctance of Pepin the Fat

From "a concise History of Frankish Viking interaction" by Professor Sir James Coxpole of the University of North Durham:
King Pepin the Fat, interesting bloke, very hungry.  Fought the Vikings of Harald the Black and Egil of the Variable Dice Luck for Normandy.  Pepin's big mistake was calling in Earl Odda of the Saxons as his ally.

The Franks line up, ready to face the Vikings

Across the valley the Vikings appear.   Is it just my imagination or are there a lot of them?

Harald the Barrel, fresh from his success in bullying the British 

King Pepin, accompanied by man with picnic hamper.

Lord Oliver charges home as the Frankish Panzers roll.

Earl Odda leaves half of his army in the village

Count Oliver and his men perish, as Pepin refuses to charge up that hill for the second time.

Earl Odda gets stuck in, with the very centre of his line, leading in person.  He is soon killed and  two thirds of his army run away.
Still looking for my photo of that event,  sadly lost to the memory card of time...
Captain Martel attacks and rolls nine hits with twelve dice.

Martel bursts through and routs the warband opposing him.

Whilst King Pepin refuses to move for the fourth time.

Finally Pepin goes for it on the fifth try, up the hill breaking through the Vikings.  He may be fat, but turns out he is also Mighty.

But he reaches the summit a weakened force.

Captain Namon gets stuck in too, routing and destroying a Viking band.  

With Bishop Turpin killed and their levy all but holding out the Franks survive until pub o' clock.  
Turns out the Franks are rather handy, and well capable of hammering Vikings.
Next week we turn to the Celtic fringe.  How will they fare against the Viking horde?