Friday, March 27, 2009

Impetus Battle Report - The Revenge of Parthia

After being driven from the field, the Parthian army reconsolidated its position and rode forth to engage the advancing Romans. In other words, Stu and I broke out the Impetus rulebook and had a 500-point grudge match (and our first 500-point game ever!)

The Roman Army

This time round, I decided to drop one general and split my army into two commands. With a GOOD command structure and lots of slower-moving infantry, I don't find the Roman army needs a lot of generals in order to function.

My commands were deployed in lines. The CIC's command is the thin red line shown below. It consisted of six units of legionnaires and a unit of medium cavalry. The front command contained Auxilia x 3, Archers x 3, Slingers x 2, Javelinmen x 1, Numidian Horse x 2, and my newly-painted Heavy Horse x 1.

The Parthian Army

Stu's army was split into three commands. I think this is necessary for a mounted army with an AVERAGE command structure. His CIC led five units of cataphracts and four units of skirmising archers. The command in front consisted of seven units of horse archers.

Stu also fielded a small flanking force consisting of one cataphract unit and three units of light horse.

Terrain & Deployment

This time we decided to use the terrain and deployment rules in the book. With so many mounted units, Stu was the attacker (no surprise), and I placed six pieces of terrain. Stu moved one and removed one, as is the attacker's right. This still allowed me accomplish what I wanted - placing two firm anchors for flanks. One of the keys to beating an army of light troops is to force them into the front.

Best laid plans...

My plan was fairly simple. Move the army up patiently, anchor the flanks on the terrain elements, harrass with bow fire and slings. In order for Stu to threaten my army, he would have to send light horse within 15cm. If I had units of light foot and cavalry on opportunity, I would be ready to charge out and deal with the screen of light horse, and then move up with heavy troops and start dealing with the heavy horse. Remember this plan - I'll be referring back to it later.

The Battle

The battle started out according to plan. Both of us advanced cautiously towards the enemy line. The bottom of the photo shows my plan being followed, the line of mobile troops moving up to the terrain, and the heavy infantry following up in line formation.

The Parthians seemed to stall in the middle of the field and proceeded to place the horse archer command on opportunity. I advanced a little more and reorganized slightly to face the oncoming threats.

And here's where the plan goes out the window. Like many impetuous generals who have come before me, I discarded my battle plan in favour of boldness and potential glory. We all know what happens to those generals.

Stu used the interpenetration rules to displace the light cavalry and move up with the cataphracts, screened by the skirmishers (the narrowest bases in front of the cavalry) I caused a little disorder in the ranks, but nothing worth talking about.

Here's a better shot of the approaching lines. Light troops trade fire in preparation of what is to come.

Then, Stu, using those excellent interpenetration rules again, shot out with light cavalry. He was careful to avoid occupying the front corridor of my lights, so I couldn't evade. He even managed to start breaking through to my second line. Towards the bottom of the photo, you can see the disordered legions (marked with red circles)

By the next turn, the Parthians had taken out over half of my first command's VD, so the remainder was removed from the field. This was bad, but on the other hand, I was getting close to removing a couple of his. I had no option but to get aggressive with my legions.

The legions stood up surprisingly well against the cataphracts, causing disorder and damage in the ranks. At the end of this turn, the primary horse archer command suffered enough damage to be removed (a mistake we learned later - JET), and the field was really starting to clean out.

And here's where it all came down to it for me. This legion had been trading blows with the Parthian flank force for half of the game. I kept defeating the cataphract unit, but wasn't killing it. If I could just take it out, the command would route, and over half of Stu's army VD would be gone, causing the whole army to route. Oh the tension!

The centre of the field at the end of the game. The legions and cataphracts kept wearing each other down, and it could have gone either way. However, as suspected, the cataphracts in the flank charged the legion, and this time, finished them off. It was just enough to route my second, and only remaining command. The battle was done.


What a game. It was a massacre on both sides of the table, and if it were a historical battle, both sides would have spent considerable time licking their wounds and recovering from it. However, it was an undeniable Parthian victory, as the remaining Romans routed the field in shame.

Criticisms on my gameplay...
Stick to the plan. I ran off half-cocked against an army that I can't outrun or outmanouvre. I should patiently hold the line, and use a combination of firepower and opportunity to draw the Parthians in, as they have no real options at a distance - they have to approach the enemy in order to win.

Criticisms on Stu's gameplay...
Stu won. So one could argue that there's no need for improvement. However, he would agree with me on one point. He is still gradually learning how to use the cataphracts more effectively. This battle, they actually got in the fight, which was an improvement. However, they seem to spend a lot of the battle sitting back, while the rest of the army is dying. I know Stu is, and will continue experimenting with ways to improve their utility.

Regardless of outcome, fun was had by all again, and I really can't say enough good about Impetus. Its simple yet seamless manner of representing how troops actually performed makes other rulesets seem clunky by comparison. It can be annoying when your army is getting bombarded by horse archer volleys, but the rules provide recourse for those patient enough to discover them. I'm working on my patience.

Thanks for reading,

P.S. There will be new 6mm armies in the works within the next week or so. You'll just have to wait and see ;)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Warmachine Action: Cryx vs. Khador

Our geekly attendance was a little lower than usual last night - just Marc, Chris H. and myself. Chris H. has started playing Warmachine quite recently, and since he had just finished painting his new Khador acquisitions, we decided to play a little round-robin style Warmachine.

Chris's army totals 418 points. To the right you can see Sorscha, and both the Juggernaut and the Destroyer being marshalled by the Man-O-War Kovnik. A unit of Widowmakers hides in the woods, and Eiryss the Magehunter was deployed behind the outcropping.

Marc put down the Witch Coven of Garlghast running a Harrower and four arc nodes. There were also a Skarlock and Gorman De Wolfe hiding behind the woods.

Marc sent the bone turkeys on parade around the woods.

Chris began advancing the army towards the Cryx force. The steel ring on the table represented the Coven's spell Imprison. It essentially creates a void through which nothing can move.

Although I never captured it in the shot here, Marc's heavy warjack, the Harrower, was in the woods at the bottom left of the photo. Chris used Sorscha, Eiryss, and the Widowmakers to try and damage the Harrower. The heavy jack resisted the attack fairly well, and play passed to Marc.

At this point, Sorscha had cast the spell Wind Rush on herself. In addition to giving her an extra move, this bumped her defence up to 20, making her very hard to hit. In spite of this, Marc moved an arc node up in front of the Khador line.

The Witch Coven moved into perfect conjunction (i.e. a triangle) around the Egregore. This meant that all of their magic attack and damage rolls would be automatically boosted. With a magic attack score of 9, they would need to roll an 11 on three dice to hit Sorscha with Stygian Abyss. Marc did roll an 11, twice in a row in fact, and took Sorscha down.

I never took photos of my two games, as I was too lazy to play and take photos at the same time. However, Chris H. took shots of mine and Marc's 750-point game, and will surely chronicle my defeat on his blog sometime soon.

And the Night Continued...

Chris H. was given the Lord of the Rings boardgame by Fantasy Flight for Xmas, so we decided to try a learning game.

In this game, the players each control a Hobbit, and work their way through the Ring quest through a series of specific scenario boards. The main game track has the Hobbit tokens on one end and the Dark Lord token on the other. The idea is to successfully complete the quest, while trying to avoid having the hobbits intercept the Dark Lord token.

The in-laws gave me the board game Pandemic as a Xmas gift. Pandemic is also a co-operative boargame, but I find that whereas Pandemic is different every game, and very tight as a game system, the LOTR game felt a little predictable. As Marc pointed out, there seemed to be unnecessary events, that were included to progress the story, but that did little to add to game play.

I would be willing to try the game again. It was late, I was tired, and learning games late at night doesn't always leave the most favourable impression.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Impetus Battle Report - Romans vs. Parthians

Two things. First thing. Stu and I finally had our fourth game of Impetus after a month's hiatus and I won. Second thing. Stu won the first three games, but I never took photos, as our units weren't all completely painted and based. Don't the winners write the history books?

We played 400 pts per side, with each army divided into three commands. I tried something different this time, with a faster, more mobile centre to my army, and the legions, archers and light cavalry filling out the two flanks.

The Parthian force deployed in three lines. The battlefield was flanked by terrain, and to compensate, Stu attempted to attack in waves.

The start of the battle from the Partian lines.

The start of the battle; firmament-view

After the armies get mobilized, the Parthian force starts out with disorder in the ranks. A sign of things to come perhaps...

note: the red circles were used to mark disorder, while the green circles were used to mark units on Opportunity.

Battle joins near the lake. Numidian cavalry trade fire with the horse archers.

You can see here that Stu used one command (composed entirely of light horse) to move ahead of the main Parthian army and start harrassing the Roman infantry.

Action heats up on the centre of the field. The photo shows (wise or foolish) my faster centre leaving the slower flanks behind.

A view from the Partian side of things. Notice the group of three cataphracts ready to charge the Roman line. Stu rolled abysmally for charge distances. Two of the cataphract units were left standing in front of the Roman army disordered. The unit that made it rolled nine dice and scored zero hits; yes that's right, none. The Auxilia unit won the combat and drove the heavy horse back.

Right before the fateful charge...

...and then distaster struck. The finest of Parthian's nobility struggled to reform the lines.

The Roman general took advantage of the momentary confusion in the Parthian lines.

After all was said and done, the command lost over half of its VD and routed at the end of the turn.

A shot near the end of the battle from above...

...and from the flank... When the horse archers facing the Roman line were destroyed, the entire army routed, and the Romans were victorious.


The terrain was set up to favour an advancing-line army like mine, and it showed in the outcome. Most of the other battles we've fought were far more open, and gave Stu lots of flanking and sniping opportunities. From now on, we've decided to use the terrain set-up rules in the book and let generalship and the gods decide the rest.

In any event, we both had a great time, and reminded ourselves once again what a fantastic game Impetus is. It's sure worth all of the painting.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Major Victoria Haley - 750 point list for Warmachine

Saturday night past, Ken, Marc, Chris H., and I had the opportunity to play three games of Warmachine/Hordes each. I was too lazy to take photos during the play, and all of the games were great, but I thought I would take some shots of the 750 point list I used against Marc's Cryx list.

Major Victoria Haley w/Squire, Lancers x 2, Centurion, Ironclad, and Defender.

Journeyman Warcaster w/Sentinal

Support units: Chief Mechanik w/Goblin Bodgers x 3, Arlen Strangeways, Stormsmith x 1

The grand total was 15 models at 749 points - quite a low model count by many standards to be sure. However, I've been wanting to try a list like this for some time. The key was Haley's high focus stat and large control area (both improved thanks to the newly-painted squire.) I knew she would be capable of controlling all of those jacks, and it turns out I was right.


Without photos, I won't go into detail describing the play-by-play, as I think many blog readers are mostly interested in photos and short blurbs. I will say I had an amazing first turn, where Haley cast Domination on both Marc's Deathjack and Harrower. This allowed her to take control of the heavy Cryx jacks, walk them back into the Cryx lines, and take out the Skarlock and the Necrotech. It was quite enjoyable.

The game was very dynamic, and was shaping up to be a big jack brawl in the middle of the table. However, on turn three, Marc forgot to move Skarre, and left her on the hill. Even though her defense was high, Haleys' magic attack score of 8 meant that two arcane bolts found their way home and ended the game.

I wouldn't play this type of list all of the time, but every once and a while it's fun to take all of your big models off of the shelf, put them in one list, and march them across the table towards the enemy.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, March 6, 2009

On the Edge of the Darkwood - Song of Blades and Heroes battle report

Chris and I played a warband engagement and decided to try out some new ideas for the game. Since the first time I played SBH (a week ago solo; look back a few posts - J), I got the feeling it could be used to recreate the storytelling feel of a roleplaying game, while maintaining the competitive feel of a standard wargame. It turns out I was right.

The abandoned tower at the edge of the Darkwood holds great secrets. The plains beyond lie barren and lifeless.

The Random Encounter System:

I wanted to create a simple means to allow our warbands to interact a little with the environment around them. While I was waiting for Chris, I came up with this idea - As other games have done before, designate certain markers or pieces of "searchable terrain." If a model was in base contact with the marker, it could spend one action to search and roll on the table below.

Roll 2D6:
2-4 -- nothing of interest
5-6 -- small treasure (2 VP)
7-11 - roll again:
------ 2-4 - nothing of interest
------ 5-10 - monster (roll D6)
------------ 1-4 - D3 Skeletons
------------ 5-6 - Giant Wolf
------11-12 - large treasure (4 VP)
12 --- magic item (SBH pg 19)


When a monsters were rolled, the models were place on the table. The monsters activated as a third player, so when I failed two rolls, play passed to Chris, two fails for Chris passed to the monsters, and the monsters fail passed back to me. During the monsters activation, we rolled a D3 to determine the number of quality rolls.

If a monster was in base contact with a player model, it used it's successes to attack, and if possible, to perform a powerful attack.

If a monster was one (or less) of its movement distances away from a player model, it used its first success to move into contact with the closest player model, and any remaining successes as above.

If a monster was more than one of its movement distances away from a player model, it used all of its successes to move its full distance in the direction of a scatter die until one of the two conditions above were met OR until it roamed off the table.

A Chaos Dwarf Gunner gets more than he bargained for when searching near the borders of the Darkwood.

Men from the border patrol are surprised by roaming skeletons. Perhaps stories of the tower housing a necromancer are true.

Gro-ghall uses the speed of his mount to ride through the forest and search the temple ruins. We decided that when searching the ruins, a player could roll three dice and choose the two he preferred when consulting the table. It turns out that the ruins had been well picked over by others and contained nothing of interest.


We handled treasure in a very simple manner. If a model found something of value, a marker was placed in base contact for the rest of the game. If the model was defeated in melee combat, to the victor went the spoils. If the model died from a ranged attack, the treasure stayed on the table, and any player model could use an action to pick it up. If the carrying player was alive at the end of the game, the treasure's VP were collected by the warband and added to their total.

A border soldier finds some small golden trinkets buried. The stone must have been the burial mound of an ancient warlord.

Game Highlights:

The game fought was between two opposing warbands; my Chaos Dwarf Hunting Party and Chris's Human Border Patrol Force. The idea was to defeat the opposing warband, but the five "encounter markers" provided some nice distractions, and encouraged models to move about the table.

The human patrol advances toward the river. The Chaos Dwarves have been spotted!

Hans the Steadfast demonstrates his skill at fighting the undead.

Dwarves near the lake, ready to engage the interfering humans.

An overview of the action on the plain. Notice Gro-ghall's absence. He was busy searching the ruined temple.

The human captain gives all present a hands-on lesson in swordsmanship...

... and a Chaos Dwarf Savage returns the sentiment with his warclub, taking the captain down.

In the meantime, Gro-ghall returns from the forest and heads for the battle.

However, the Savage's gruesome kill sends most of the men fleeing towards the warchief.

The border soldiers try to crowd the mighty chieftan. Obviously, the death of their leader has shaken their confidence. The first model's quality roll is a dismal failure.

Finally, the remnants of the humans are driven off, leaving Gro-ghall's hunters victorious!

In closing...

I encourage all of you to try this simple approach to playing Song of Blades and Heroes. My goal is to create a map of the campaign area, and I mean localized, not the size of a continent or anything here. We could easily create a terrain guideline and a different encounter table for each locale on our campaign map. In this way, we could bring the feel of role-playing and storytelling to our table without the need for actual scenarios or a referee.

Thanks for reading,