Friday, November 22, 2013

Thursday Night Mayhem

Three straight weeks of Fantasy! This time, it's big battles using a set of rules I've been wanting to try for awhile: Mayhem! by Brent Spivey. Mr. Spivey gifted me his earlier work Havoc. It was a great read that I found almost Zen-like in it's approach to wargaming. Alas, I never used them in battle, but I was determined to try Mayhem.
My War of the Roses troops which are veterans of 20 years of battle would stand in as fantasy humans, and my small force of Orcs would be the only true fantasy elements. Mayhem works at any scale as each base is a unit. Not a new idea, but one I personally really like. The smaller the scale, the better o make each stand a vignette.
Mayhem uses different die type to represent a stands Movement, Combat Quality, and Ballistic Armor Rating. The lower the better. So a d6 is better than a d10. Sounds opposite of what you normally think, but it works well.

The core of the system is the Versus System. Risk vs Reward. For just about every roll you have the option of taking the default, which half the value of the die (so a d6 would be a "3", a d8 a "4") or try danger and roll the die for whatever comes up.
If your Movement value is d8, for example, you decide, do I use the default and these guys just move 4 inches, or do I risk it and roll hoping to get 5,6,7, or even 8. There's a lovely gambling element to it.
In our game, some heavy cavalry with lances charged some orcs that had just crossed the river. Because of modifiers, the knights were rolling a d4 vs the Orcs d8. The knights decided to take the default of "2" as their roll. In Mayhem, roll have to roll below your opponent in order to do them Harm. A roll of "1' always kills. This first hit, for most troops, Disorders them. A hit on an already disordered unit eliminates them. So our knights had a 25% chance to outright kill the Orcs, or take the default and almost certainly put a hit on them and drive them back into the river.
The Orcs rolled a "1". Oh, the best laid plans, etc.....
The other mechanic of note is Overdrive. Your leaders randomly (or take the default!) generate a pool of Action Points.Most Actions only cost a point. Move a unit, shoot arrows, etc. But, you can choose to make a unit go again, and again, but each subsequent action costs more. A second Action is 2, a third 3. If I move my Orcs 3 times, that's 6 points! This is great if a certain unit has the chance to turn the tide of battle, but it will be to the detriment to the rest of your force. Turns go very quickly.
We played a game with 6 players and 50 stands in about 1 1/2, including the whopping 10 minutes it took to teach the rules.
All in all, highly recommended. Would be great for a convention game or campaign. It does have some similarities to DBA or HotTs, but I found Mayhem had a lot more depth and a fun, gambling element to it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Saturday AAR

The Baroness took a much deserved grand tour of the Kingdom this past Saturday which left me some time to paint and try out some games I've been wanting to try for awhile. I enjoy my problem of 6-8 regular players, but it doesn't allow for those smaller 1 v 1 games. So, with the help of Essjam, I tried Dux Bellorum and Richard III.
The Normans and their LPs
I gave a one read thru review a while back. The Early Dark ages or time of historic Arthur, has always been a favorite of mine. I've had, over the years several rule sets, but none felt quite right. Glutter of Ravens came close but still wasn't right for me. When I read Dux Bellorum was a refined version of Glutter, I knew the $12 purchase was worth it.
The forces face off. LPs have been assigned.
I don't actually have any Romano-Brit troops, so I pushed the limits of the rules to a Norman v Viking contest. You build forces using a small but effective troop list. Horses aren't very prevalent for the DB period, so a Norman force cost a lot, only giving me 10 stands of troops. In DB, a stand is a unit of around 50-ish men. It also uses basewidths as measurement. My 60mm x 60mm bases with 6-8 men looked just right. This isn't a army we're talking about, but a warband of a local warlord.
Red dice indicate Cohesion loss. Long term I would definitely use markers to limit battlefield clutter.
You purchase Leadership points for your forces. For this test, both sides got 8. LPs are the heart of the system and add tons of tactical depth, I'm sure me and my opponent only began to understand with our one play.
LPs are used to help move your troops, strengthen their attacks, reduce casualties, pre-empt movement, and bolster morale. You've only got so many each turn, and lots of troops. You lose LPs everytime you take losses. How to use them becomes the heart of the game.
The Vikings were the Aggressors. A normal game turn is: Place LPs, Simultaneous shooting, then move and fight.
The battle breaks up. I also used tags to list stats on each base. This isn't necessary in a real game, but thought it would save looking up stuff this first game.
Moves are further broken down to: Skirmishers first, Mounted second then your foot troops, with Aggressors always going first. My all foot Vikings limited my options to the end.
The game started with the Normans getting a pesky skirmish unit in the woods to my flank. Shooting has a hard time killing off units, but it can definitely weaken them. My troops were a mix of highly trained shieldwall (ok attack but tough on defense) and warriors (great on attack, not so much on defense and penchant for uncontrolled charges). The Warriors uncontrolled charges allowed me to attack without having to worry about Bravery Tests, which have to made to move troops around. Once the Normans got close, I just set them loose.
The fighting part became what Dark Age battles are, a shoving match. Terrain limited the abilities of the Norman horse to get around my flank, but they were tough and ended up breaking the flank they hit after 3-4 turns.
It was close. We finished within a few stands of each other with the Normans eeking out a victory. It took but an hour to play.
Can't wait to try these as a campaign. Speaking of which, yes I have read Dux Britainiarium. Like most of the Lardies rules, I liked the ideas presented, but found the actual play clunky and not to my taste. That being said, the campaign system could be lifted and use the combat from Bellorum.
We then played Richard III. I have a large Wars of the Roses collection, so a Columbia Games block game about the period was right down my alley.
I played the Lancastrians and Scott the invading forces of York. There are 3 game turns, each split into 7 sub turns. By end of round 2 I was dethroned and playing the Usurper, and in the end lost by 2 points. Again, a great game with lots of depth I barely scratched.
And on a final note, "Hey we made 200 Followers!" Welcome to the new guys and tahnks to the old, for sticking around.

Friday, November 15, 2013

IHMN Fantasy

IHMN stands for "In Her Majesty's Name", a great set of VSF rules. I was/am a fan of predecessor of these "In the Emperor's Name" which I have already used for Fantasy.
Last week we tried using Pulp Alley to find the perfect set of Fantasy Skirmish rules, this round was IHMN. PA was fun and had the perfect mechanism for traps and dangers I wanted. But, with 6-8 players I needed to speed things up even more.
The scenario involved the Barbarians trying to get a "dark gift" to the Lord of Evershade Valley across the battlefield. The Orcs and Chaos dwarves were sent to help them. The forces of Good had to try and stop them
The calm valley

Barbarians race to the crest of a hill.

Orcs enter the field

Elves destroy an evil alter

Sir Leon is swarmed by heathens!

In the original IHMN rules player alternate moving and shooting miniatures. With 6 players I speeded things up. Each player was dealt 3 cards. They had to choose one to use as there Movement turn, one as Shooting, and one as Fighting. This sped things up mightily and with trying created thing like opportunity fire. 
The Barbarians, unencumbered by armor, ran across the battlefield and delivered their gift, thus winning the game for evil. All in all, worth another try.
Last night's pairing was an easy one.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


From across the endless plains come the Hobgoblin Hordes.
Another stand for our Campaign for the Kingdom. You may notice something peculiar about these guys. Though they may be GW minis, my heart is always been in the original Monster Manual. According to it, Hobgoblin range in skin color from sickly yellow, thru orange to dark gray. But they always have bright blue noses! These boys give me a Scythian vibe. Raiding caravans and stealing the valuable cloth for their unwashed bodies.
Always loved the old GW sculpts (and I have a ton) and always hated hordes of gobbos with all the same skin color. Nothing worse than a beautifully painted unit of orcs all in that nasty bright green!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pulp Fantasy

With the delivery of a pile of Dwarven Forge dungeon tiles, it was time start messing with rules. Pulp Alley is a favorite of mine. The rules are tight and designed for small groups or Leagues, why not warbands?
I built them using standard rules. Worked great!
The scenario: The Dark Lord has slumbered in the Broken Valley for centuries, locked in a tomb by a powerful spell. Now, the forces of Evil have come to set him free, hoping to curry his favor by freeing him. Meanwhile, the Forces of Good have come to destroy the tomb once and for all.
Drax the Despoiler and his Chaos Crew

Aeloroth and the Elves

Gort the Cruel and his greenskin warband

Hrothgar the Mighty

An adventuring band led by Sir Barnstable
There were 4 minor Plot Points. One had to be captured before the Tomb could be opened.
The board

The Elves are first to capture a plot point. 

Drax tries repeatedly to open the Chaos Champions gravestone to capture a Plot Point.

An elf is caught in fireball from the Adventurer's Wizard

Forces converge on the tomb

Are the barbarians fighting for good or evil?

A clash of Leaders outside the tomb.
In the end, the forces of Good, led by Elves manage to destroy the tomb of the Dark One, sealing him forever in the Other Realm.
A good time. The rules work great as a Fantasy Warband game. I could see them working even better in a dungeon setting, using Fortune cards to trigger traps, etc. Make some wandering monsters and BOOM!, perfect dungeon crawl. 
We'll also be trying some other rules but for now I liked how they worked.
On another note you may notice a break in the action here at the Baron's Blog. I was recently laid off from my job of 20+ years. As you can imagine this is a time of uncertainty and worry for me and mine, so gaming and painting may take a back seat for awhile. This, however, may turn into an opportunity too. A chance to dive deeper into a hobby I love. I've always wanted to start my own gaming company....

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elves done

I was able to finish my Elves/Melniboneans this weekend. They are ready for battle.
Is was in a fantasy mood so started on another stand of their enemies.