Saturday, 13 April 2019

The Battle of Falkirk - take 2

Last month I finally fielded my paper Jacobite armies in a refight of the battle of Falkirk (all the gory details can be found here).  On that occasion we used Black Powder, a set of rules I'm very familiar with and which I think are pretty good for all periods.

In the post and the subsequent comments my opponent, Anthony, and I had mentioned that the rules that come with the Peter Dennis book seemed a bit daunting.   This prompted a comment by Andy Callan, author of the rules, that his rules were a lot more streamlined than Black Powder so, taking that as a bit of a challenge, we decided to re-fight the game using Andy's rules.

As Andy pointed out in his comments,his rules stretch to 5 whole pages with another page devoted to design philosophy... would these be detailed enough to give a challenging game?

The rules include a deployment system which we didn't use as we were playing one of the scenarios in the book but this looks quite interesting. It uses playing cards to initially deploy regiments: players then try to redeploy into period appropriate formations  but once one side has met it's 'deployment conditions'  the game starts, even if the other side isn't quite ready.

In the main rules units fire first and then move (if they haven't fired) which makes for some interesting decisions about when to unleash that initial volley from the redcoats.  The fire and combat values vary for each side meaning the Government troops are very powerful in firing but, as expected, the Highlanders are very effective when charging.  An interesting rule for the Highlanders is that when a regiment of, for example, 6 stands advances it gradually shrinks in frontage which reflects the troops bunching up into a mass as they move forward.  It means the Highlanders will attack with a narrower frontage unless they decide to halt and redress their lines (which seems like a bad idea when faced with angry redcoats with muskets!).

Movement is suitably limited...troops in this period weren't the most mobile... and if troops are Raw or become Shaken then they can do even less.  Highlanders and cavalry are fast but move a variable distance.

Morale is pretty decisive.  We found that once a unit began to lose stands then they would quite easily rout.  As they pull back this forces other units to test and it can become very infectious as I found to my cost!  Due to the brevity of the rules we made a couple of assumptions;

  • that each lost stand added to the morale minuses (not just the ones lost in the active turn)
  • that hits over the target to remove a stand didn't carry over...not sure about this but it made record keeping easier

We very quickly found that these were a really interesting set of each turn progressed we'd find another facet of the rules which made us go, 'hmm...that makes sense'.  They certainly captured the feeling of warfare in this particular setting and they'd be equally suitable for other settings such as the French Indian Wars with very little tweaking.

So how did the battle go?  Let's just say I demonstrated very ably that I can lose a battle regardless of which rules we were using!  My line of Highlanders advanced at different speeds which meant they attacked piecemeal and once one unit routed on my right flank, the whole flank decided to join them.  That might be my only criticism of the rules...morale failures seem very infectious and it appeared very easy for units to scatter, although maybe that's just my loser's sour grapes!  :)

The Jacobites advance

Cavalry clash on the right flank

Bonnie Prince Charlie gives a last minute pep talk to his men, but too late
to stop them all running away!

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Let slip the dogs of awww...

The other day I posted a WIP photo of a couple of hounds that I'd been painting up as mini versions of my own dogs as a gift for my wife.

I've now finished them and she was suitably pleased.  The dogs come from Steel Fist Miniatures as part of their medieval range.

Here are some pics of the finished items along with some photos of the real thing...

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Salute 19

So that's another Salute been and gone.  My 1st Salute was back in the 80's at Kensington Town Hall but I then had a lengthy gap until I went along to what I think was the last one at Olympia in 2005 (I only know this by googling the South London Warlord's potted history which you can find here) .  I think I've made it along to most, if not all Excel Salutes since the move there in 2006.

It's traditional at this point to moan about the trains, the crowds, the lighting, the hard floor, the traders, the games, the ratio of Fantasy/SF to Historical etc, etc.  So how did this one compare....

Travel - nice and easy for me as I live on the edge of south London. The DLR stop at Custom House was shut but this was announced in advance and everyone was directed to the next stop which also serves Excel so no hassle there

Crowds - I'm rubbish at judging attendance so I have no idea whether the numbers were up or down.  There seemed to be quite a bit of open space and a large seating area compared with previous years but I don't know if this was down to numbers or better layout. Some traders seemed very busy though.  I arrived at about 11ish so the queue had gone and I was able to walk straight in.

Lighting and flooring - I found the lighting really bad a couple of years ago but this year I thought it seemed better.  I cant imagine my eyesight is getting any better!  The flooring was a source of much discussion at the bloggers gathering where we all moaned about our achy knees...I guess this is a bit beyond the Warlords control (although I noticed one large trader, either Wayland Games or Warlord Games, had brought their own carpet) and is more down to us all getting old!

Traders - I thought the range of traders was pretty good this year.  Certainly I was able to find everyone I wanted to see and I thought there was a good spread of large companies and smaller retailers. I know the costs have meant some traders have stopped attending over the years but it was good to see new faces present.

Some people take the painting competition a bit too seriously...

Fantasy vs Historical - this always seems to provoke a lot of debate (I've already seen some discussions spring up on TMP and on blogs since yesterday).  The games seemed quite varied this year and looking through my photos there were certainly lots of historical games on show.  The traders seemed to have a lot of fantasy/sf goodies on sale but I guess they can hardly be 'blamed' for following the market.  I've never had an issue with a broad church approach to gaming and don't really get the purist historical arguments.  I think one consequence of the wide range of games and traders on show is the mix of people attending.  Of all the shows I go to Salute always seems to have a significant number of younger people and women attending which has to be a very good thing.

The games - I've already spotted lots of games on other bloggers reports showing games that I managed to miss completely!  As always there were some excellent looking games on show although I did feel there wasn't a notable big game which would have been a real talking point in previous shows.  As in previous years there were a lot of games being put on by companies to promote their latest offerings and a lot of these are quite small, played on 2' x 2' or 3' x 3' tables which lack the 'wow' factor but these were always busy and engaging the punters.  My annual complaint is about the games where the organisers were too busy playing to actually talk to passers by and there were a few examples of this.  To be fair though there were some very good games actively engaging people and putting on a bit more of a 'show'.  A big shout out to Rich Clarke of Too Fat Lardies who was holding the attention of a large crowd with his WW2 Malaya Chain of Command game.

As always there was the annual Bloggers gathering... a slightly smaller group than in previous years but obviously size isn't everything and I think we were going for quality over quantity.  I've nicked this photo from Big Lee's blog.  I managed to have my back to the camera for this one...probably my most flattering angle...

On to the game photos (as usual, apologies if I missed who was putting the game on).  I missed loads bit these are the ones that caught my attention before fatigue set in...

This was the hall as I arrived at 11ish

Black Seas... the forthcoming Age of Sail game from Warlord games.  This is still clearly at playtesting stage but seems to be using the mechanics from Cruel Seas.  Ships have similar data cards and use the wake marker to indicate speed.  It sounds like the wind direction determines which speed band ships will be able to sail at.  Looks good and more temptation from Warlords later in the year.  I wasn't clear if the ships on show were indicative of the types they will be selling but there were a  lot of questions about rigging as this seems to be the thing that puts a lot of us off sailing ships.  It sounds like the plan will be to use brass-etched rigging.

Cruel Seas demo:

Crawley Wargames Club Aztec/Conquistadors game:

Battle of Danholm by Dalauppror

Aughrim 1691 by Crewe and Nantwich Wargames Club:

Mammoth Hunting game:

7TV post-apocalypse game:

Fistful of Lead Horror in Limehouse with excellent terrain by Oshiro Model Terrain:


Burrows and Badgers demo by Oathsworn Miniatures


Lego Flash Gordon (loved this and I think it won a prize):

Red Alert.  Lots of people seemed to be buying this:

Batman game:

7 Days to the River Rhine:

Lutzen by The Friends of General Haig:

D Day?  Don't know but it looked good:

Too Fat Lardies Chain of Command Malaya game.  Japanese vs Australians.  Looked really good and a good example of how to run a demo/participation game:

Gringo 40s Tonkin War game (very impressive!):

Battlefront Oil Wars game:

I'm not sure what this game was but the model of Jerusalem was very impressive:

I was very good and stuck pretty much to my spending, really!  My haul is shown below...

The Guardians of the Riverbank by Northumbrian Tin Soldier

You can never have enough tufts...

Burrows and Badgers figures by Oathsworn Miniatures

The assorted freebies in the Salute poly bag.  As well as the usual figure and dice there was a Necromancer figure for the forthcoming Starcide game by Archon Studio and a Beyond the Gates of Antares dice game from Warlord Games both of which will be making their way to eBay I suspect.

So that's that.  A generally good Salute I think.  I've seen quite a bit of grumbling online and I guess I would agree that it is missing the 'wow' factor that used to make it stand out from other shows (apart from the size) but it's still a fantastic show to have on the doorstep