Wednesday, 19 July 2017

To Fight Monsters, We Created Monsters Of Our Own

We watched 'Pacific Rim' again the other day. It's still as awesome as ever. Afterwards I remembered that I downloaded a set of 3D print files for the five main Jaegers featured in the film last year, and thought that I'd try printing one off.

So here's Gipsy Danger. Four-and-a-half hours of printing, one of cleanup and a couple of hours of painting. She stands just over 3" tall.

Gipsy mostly printed OK, although before I do any of the other Jaegers I'm going to have to do some maintenance on the printer and also consider the best way of printing these models; this one worked, but they are difficult prints owing to the detail and the stability of the mode on the print-bed. 

I have left the Jaeger on a plain base for now, until I decide how I want to decorate it.

Coming soon?

Maybe some kaiju are too big for even a Jaeger - Gipsy Danger meets Gypsy Danger.

(Yes, we got the spelling wrong when we named the cat)

Monday, 17 July 2017

Boring Humans

I painted another Dragon Rampant warband over the weekend. It's so new that I haven't really come up with a name for it yet, but I set it up to be a baseline, no frills, boring human army. Once again I printed some of DutchMogul's 18mm figures from Thingiverse.

Here's the whole force:

Archers (Light Missiles) and Swordsmen (Offensive Heavy Foot).

Two units of Spearmen (Heavy Foot)

The Knight Commander (Elite Foot)

By my reckoning that's a no nonsense 24pts, with room for expansion.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Down Mexico Way

Whilst I was painting my Mound Builder American army for HOTT/DBA, I had a look at possible opponents in the DBA 3.0 lists. One of these was Aztecs. Now, as you know, I have an Aztec army for HOTT, so I got the box out and had a look at it in comparison to the DBA list. I was thrilled to discover that, if you ignore the number of figures on some of the elements, I had all of the elements needed for it bar the two psiloi. A quick painting session during the week created those, and suddenly I found myself with two matched pre-Columbian American DBA armies.

Now, at the moment Wollongong is hosting a Queer Arts Festival to celebrate the city's LGBT community. The centrepiece of this is an art exhibition in one of the city's galleries, and I have a couple of pieces on display. One of my obligations as an exhibitor is to spend a morning or afternoon minding the gallery. Since this involves just sitting in an art gallery for several hours, I took along my two new DBA armies, and decided to give them their first outing.

So here's the game in it's somewhat unusual setting. Unfortunately the desk where the gallery sitters sits is in a fairly dark corner, and I'm afraid my photos of the game suffered accordingly.

Here's the armies set up and ready to go, with the Mound Builders on the left and the Aztecs on the right. The Aztecs have the option of running the bulk of their infantry as either auxilia or hordes, on an element by element basis even. But where's the fun in auxilia? I went hordes all the way. Fast hordes. And the Mound Builders have them too. In fact, nine of the twenty-four elements on the table were hordes.

Anyway, against the odds the Aztecs were defending against a Mound Builder incursion, although their terrain type is the same. I used a random terrain selection table from the Fanaticus page, and the battlefield ended up with a waterway along one edge, two ploughed fields in the middle (which ended up as good going), and a scrubby hill in one corner. Basically a billiard-table.

The Aztecs massed their hordes in the front line, with the better warriors in a supporting line. All of their elements are reasonable fast; I reasoned that a bold, headlong attack was the way to go, using the hordes to soak up the archery, and the reserve line to pug or exploit any gaps. The psiloi were on the right flank, tasked with taking the hill and using it to attack the Mound Builder flank.

The Mound Builders had their strongest warriors in the centre, flanked by hordes of archers. On their left the psiloi held the hill, whilst the stinkard hordes were on the right.

The stinkards moved forward to meet the oncoming Aztecs, which allowed the Mound Builders to properly expand their archer line. The Aztecs shifted some warriors across to that flank, and a horde vs horde battle ensued. In DBA hordes don't recoil in close combat, so basically the two lots of elements became locked into combat for turn after turn after turn ...

Archery cut down one horde element on the approach, but two other headed straight for the Mound Builder centre. They had no chance of a win, but would certainly act to disrupt the line.

Battle is joined.

Whilst more hordes were destroyed, the Great Sun was actually pushed back, forcing the Mound Builders to reorganise their line as the main Aztec force came up. At the bottom of the picture the archers on the Mound Builder right were swinging around to menace the Aztec left.

Massed hordes continued to fight on the waterway flank. The Aztecs committed the Eagle Knights in support, hoping they'd kill the upstart stinkards more quickly. They didn't.

The main Aztec force now hit the Mound Builder line, whilst their general watched from the back.

The Aztec general came under bow fire as the Mound Builders turned the Aztec left.

Gaps began to appear in both lines as Mound Builder archers began to fall under the Aztec onslaught. In fact the Mound Builders' left was under some pressure as they were losing the psiloi battle on the hill.

Jaguar warriors attacked the Great Sun, but were driven back.

The Great Sun fell back, and his nobles charged into combat in his stead, supported by some archers. The Jaguars were slaughtered.

The nobles now charged the Aztec general himself, whilst the archers tried to move into position to provide flank support on both sides.

On the waterway flank, the hordes still fought. One Aztec element had been lost, allowing the stinkards to gang up on the Eagle Knights. But that combat just became a stalemate as well.

The end came on the Mound Builder left, as veteran Aztec warriors cut down more archers, supported by the surviving skirmishers who had finally won the battle for the hill.

The losses. Hordes don't count as lost elements, so the slaughter was massive. The Aztecs had lost five of their six hordes, but the only significant casualties were the Jaguar Knights and some skirmishers. The Mound Builder only lost a single horde, but lost two archers and both of their psiloi.

A final view of the battlefield. On their right and in the centre, the Mound Builders actually had the upper hand, but their efforts had been spent in killing worthless hordes of warriors. The real fight had been on their left, where the Aztecs had dominated, and destroyed troops that counted.

This battle was enormous fun, with most of the infantry being fast-moving, lots of shooting, and hordes charging and falling everywhere. It seemed to be a good matchup too, with the Aztec hordes and their heavier infantry working to offset the Mound Builder superiority in missile troops. The Mound Builder are not really an attacking army, since their general is not able to contact enemy troops, but their archers allow them to stand and receive an attack. The Aztecs seem to be all about attack, and can do it well.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Succession Wars

A group at our club have been playing a Maurice campaign for the past few months, using the rules in the book. It has a rather neat series of mechanisms for creating alliances and pairing off armies, as well as providing some post-battle narrative and extra in-battle decisions. Indeed I'd recommend you give it a look if you're looking for ideas as to how to run a mapless club campaign; it ensures that every player gets a game in every session, which is always good.

Anyway, four of them have played up until now. I was the fifth; the odd man out. Whilst there is a mechanism in the campaign for this, it's less ideal than just having a sixth player. And a couple of weeks ago, we coerced JohnP, who has never played Maurice before, to be that sixth player..

So last night - the fourth round of the campaign - Europe saw six nations vying for supremacy. The players are split into alliances of equal size, and these last for the duration of a war. A war is a series of battles which are fought until one alliance has a particular majority of epic points (the VP in the campaign) over another.

On the one side we had Peter (Austrians), Daniel (Russians) and JohnP (Prussians). On the other was Caesar (French), Gary (Ottomans) and myself (Sweden).

My army is based on an alternate Great Norther War, where Sweden came off better against Russia and remained a major player in the Baltic. They also maintained their highly-motivated, small-army Ga Pa approach to warfare; my army is small and very aggressive, with a roughly equal mix of infantry and cavalry in terms of both numbers and quality.

I drew Daniel as my opponent, so we ended up with a rematch between old foes, on the Russian plains.

Here's my army, deployed to attack the Russian right. With only ten units (plus one of mercenaries), my aim was to strike one portion of his army very hard before he could bring his numbers to bear.

The Russians. A lot of the infantry were conscripts, but there were some guard units in there as well.

Meanwhile the other battles were beginning. Next to our table, Gary's Ottomans were attacking Peter's Austrians. Peter has gone for the bold move of having no national advantages for his army, thus allowing him to spend all of his points on troops.

Gary's Ottomans are very pretty, with hordes of irregular troops.

Elsewhere in the room, Caesar's French were defending against JohnP's Prussians.

Back to my game. I advanced both my infantry and cavalry as rapidly as possible. I decided to push the cavalry around the Russian right flank, which involved negotiating a wood filled with irregulars. Rather than be shot at, I used a Confusion card to draw one of the units out into the open ...

... and then rode it down.

Daniel moved his cavalry over to intercept, and that's where my plan fell apart. His lead unit was elite, and my lead units were elite. Despite my numbers, and Cavaliers national advantage, actually breaking his unit was very hard indeed. It wasn't helped by the fact that the Russians could rally like there was no tomorrow, thanks to one of their national advantages.

I kind of lost the plot at that point and, without really thinking it through, advanced my infantry into musketry range of the Russian line, despite being unsupported and outnumbered at the point of contact. Needless to say the two lead units were cut down, without inflicting any real damage on the enemy.

Eventually I scored a breakthrough with my cavalry, despite having lost one of my elite units. Unfortunately my units were also very shaky, and a charge by the last remaining Russian cavalry unit broke two of them, to give Daniel the game. Trying to push my infantry into a bottle-necked killing-ground was a bad idea, as was using my cavalry in a location where I had no real means of exploiting the advantages I had. Still, I imagine all of my early games will be  learning exercise with this army.

In the other battles, JohnP used Prussian discipline to march around the French flank, and mowed them down in droves. Not bad for a first game.

Meanwhile, Gary and Peter bashed away at each other, and burned through all three decks, leaving neither army unbroken at the end of the day. But Gary had captured the objective from the Austrians, to pick up a marginal victory.

The Ottoman win was the only one for our alliance, and saw the their side win the war and gain some extra points. However this also helps me, since lost units are generally replaced by conscripts at the end of a battle, and I had a few. However during the peace, conscript units can be trained up to regulars, which means that my damaged army has a little more backbone in it.

The next set of games - Round 5 - will see a new set of alliances fighting each other, in the Third War of Illawarran Succession.

(Looking through the campaign rules it strikes me that if you're playing a long game, you choose an army with lots of cheap conscript units at the start. Yes, you may lose a few battles early on, but conscripts are replaced at the same grade, and surviving conscripts easily upgrade to regulars, which means that, over time, your army will become worth far more points than it started with.)

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Mound Builders Make Their Debut

Obviously the first thing you do when you have a new HOTT army is to get it onto the table and play a game or two. So it being a quiet Sunday afternoon, that's what I did.

Whilst I do have some 'realistic' historical opponents for the Mound Builders, I just used the armies that were to hand. Specifically the Fishmen I was using in Dragon Rampant last week.

Here's the setup. The Mound Builders fielded a blade general (in litter), a blade, three hordes, a lurker, four shooters, a behemoth and a dragon. The Fishmen had six spears (including the general), one artillery, two warband, a lurker and a behemoth (the Sea Troll making his HOTT debut). The Mound Builders defended, and went for a river, hoping that they could line it with archers as the Fishmen advanced. Of course the battle ended up being fought along the river.

In an unusual move, the Fishmen deployed their artillery on the far side of the river from the rest of their army. The aim was to push it forward, and shoot at the flank of the Mound Builders, whilst leaving them to cross the river in order to deal with it.

The Mound Builders had obviously been busy, and had a nice mound to defend.

In response to the artillery, they pushed some archers and stinkards across the river.

The archers were attacked by a giant crab rising up out of the water. Note that I was using my No Water Lurkers variant, as described HERE.

The archers drove off the lurker, but in the meantime the artillery had advanced, with the sea-troll covering it on the other bank.

Whenever you need rescuing, a Thunder Bird turns up.

A good job, as the archers, having survived the giant crab, were wiped out by the artillery.

The Thunder Bird swung in behind the sea-troll, as the other archers tried to drive it back. It kept advancing ...

... only to be forced back after losing the close combat, with the Thunder Bird destroying it as it recoiled.

The Thunder Bird flew in behind the Fishman line.

The Mound Builder archers concentrated all of their fire on the Fishman general, forcing him to recoil into the Thunder Bird, and destroying him. Game over.

After such a short game, with only a couple of actual combats, I decided it was best to play another. This time I used the Elves, who were also still out on the table after last week's Dragon Rampant game. They consisted of two magicians (one the general), six warband and two shooters. The Elves defended, and placed plenty of woods in order to limit the Thunder Bird.

Warband covered both flanks. All very pretty, but could they fight?

The two Elven sorcerers held the centre.

The main Mound Builder force massed on their right.

The battle opened with an ambush by the Mound Builder lurkers. This was driven off, but left some of the Elves badly out of position.

The Mound Builders were moving a column of archers up on their left flank, so the Elves rushed their warband forward to intercept them.

Once again, the Thunder Bird put in an early appearance.

Battle was joined in the woods.

The Elves drew first blood.

But the Mound Builders got themselves organised.

A second group of Elvish warband tried to move up in support, but were blocked by the returning lurkers and the Thunder Bird.

The first Elven casualty.

The battle raged to and from in the woods.

The Elven magicians joined in, attempting to bespell the Thunderbird.

Moving forward, both magicians were able to bring their magic to bear, but still couldn't drive the mighty bird off.

On the other flank, the Mound Builders charged into the Elven archers in the woods there.

The battle at its height.

The giant looks down on the puny Elves before it.

Meanwhile the archers finish off the last of the Elven warband in the other wood.

The Great Sun continued to push the Elven archers.

Whilst the giant swept away the Elves before him.

With their army crumbling the Elvish magicians launched a double magical assault, one driving back the giant in confusion, whilst the other failed to drive off the Thunder Bird. Again.

The Mound Builders pushed forward; one good hard attack and the Elves would crack.

But once again it was the Thunder Bird which won the battle, swooping in on the Elven sorcerer-princess and killing her to win the battle.

The position at the end of the battle.

Two wins in two games is a good start for any army. It will be interesting to see how this army fares in DBA as well.

As a game of HOTT with a new army, this qualifies for my Six By Six project as well.

6x6 - Game 1.4
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