Wednesday, September 30, 2015

30 games in 30 days - the first 5 games

Attempting to play 30 ancient games in 30 days using my own small table fast play rules to test out a programmed opponent.  A few more details at this introductory post.

This may be a bit of a dry read - there are only few pictures of each game and a lot of the text is about playtesting lessons learnt.

I am on track - 5 games in 4 days so far.

Game 01 Early Republican Romans Vs Later Selucids (Day 1 - Saturday)
Just hit the button and this is was is generated. The bottom left is the table (the "nc" means treat as clear if this appears in the centre.  I notice there is a stream (the == ) that i did not see when setting up.
The bottom right is the deployment options with the Attacker (A) and Defender (D) deployment zone and the percentage of units in each grid square (%).  it also has the initial zone order (listed next in order of most aggressive to least) - Rush (R), Attack (A), Probe (P), Wait (W), Hold (H), Delay (D). Or  It also shows if the general in the zone is cautious (c) or rash (r).  Cautious generals are more likely to go to less risky orders, while rash generals will tend to increase to more aggressive orders. There is about a 1/12 chance per turn of a zone changing orders.

The deployment as randomised.


The Selucids win after quite a few long melees.
Lots of order changes even with the 1 in 12 chance there seems to be one every turn!

The lone Roman left at the end of the game..
Well, a small number of units and  +1 Command and Control means that the breakpoint for both is higher. Note, by game 3 I had worked out that the spreadsheet generator created a higher breakpoint for +1 and +2 command armies.  You can see the Romans only had one unit left. So have to nearly rout almost all the other side to win.  It was touch and go a lot in the game and it came down to who rolled the better dice in the end - it was a fairly well matched fight.

First one is that +1 and +2 command ability are a little too powerful so toned them down slightly.

Programmed Opponent: HOLD is a very restrictive order as even if you are a lot superior to the opposing side, you will get within 8cm and stop, even if it obvious that you should advance against a much superior enemy.  WAIT is mainly different to HOLD in that is you can must advance into superior  combat and secondly WAIT becomes ATTACK after a charge.  Non-missile, non impetuous units e.g. Battle infantry under HOLD on the flank will  just sit there looking at auxiliary infantry that can easily crush as the Triarii did in the game above.. So I have modified the non-missile HOLD slightly to force advances into superior combat.

Game 02 - Viking Scandinavian Vs Later Briton and Gaul (Day 2 Sunday)
Firstly, I have spelt Scandinavian wrong here. Secondly, the "Sk Inf" should be "Sk Cav", I reduced it to one unit as 2 Skirmish Infantry cost the same as 1 Skirmish Cavalry.

While I do have some Viking figures, they are not well pained and realise there is no Bondi Archers amongst them.  I used Bondi bases with only a shield or two on them to represent them.

I put the archers in groups with the other Viking infantry - they have the same Combat Value but will not advance into the enemy without being part of a group with non-missiles.


The cavalry managed to defeat the flank, although the Berserkers did take out a cavalry.

Cavslry flank at end
The Viking tactic of breaking through the centre worked, good dice rolling saw the Vikings smash through the middle, and their right flank was still strong too.

Viking right flnak at end - one opposing unit left (cetnre)
None - all working just fine for this game.

Game 03 - Mid Imperial Rome Vs Early Saxon (Day 2/3 Sunday, Monday)
Note that the Barbarians should be "Bat Inf" not "Aux Inf".  I had to look up the Artillery rules - have not used them before!  Treating it as light artillery as that is only one I have costed up in the spreadsheets).
Note both had defensive tactics and so the attacker (the Romans) had their orders modified to centre attack at deployment.
I was looking forward to getting out the well painted Early Imperial Romans I acquired a few years ago but have never played with them.  But I realised this is MID imperial, so got out my well played-with mid-imperial Romans :-(

Worked really well,the warbands dash against the line and some bounce, some don't and the superior Legionaries win out n the longer term  Cavalry have to win with shock as if caught up in melee are at a disadvantage, and other charging into an existing melee with them don't suffer shock.  Really bad against battle infantry.

Game end - mostly Saxons left.
Surprisingly no changes of orders at all in this game.

A closer shot of the centre with the two remaining Legionaries circling some Saxon warbands,
The general was killed in this game and an army morale taken.  Seemed to work well.  I forgot that the general is worth an extra 2 to the breakpoint of the army and so it should have stopped there but played until another Roman unit broke, giving victory to the Early Saxons.  Another game that could have gone either way.  The Saxons won on both flanks but the Romans were doing well in the centre (except for the Cavalry).  Did not support the general well enough I think but it was unlucky for the two generals to square off, and the cavalry is worse against the elite warband after the initial charge.  And maybe the Cavalry should have been on a flank.

This was along game - I think it was 35 minutes to play the game itself.  Mainly due to a lot of battle infantry meaning combat is resolved over more than 1-2 turns.

Wondering at this point why the army breakpoint  is so high for the +1 command army - it seemed high for the Romans in game 1 as well.  I did a quick calculation in my head and it did not seem right.  I went back to the spreadsheet and I add the command value to the breakpoint twice.  Oops.  So the breakpoint for the +1 armies has been 1 higher that it is supposed to be and thus requiring an extra heavy unit.  Fixed.

Game 04 - Sea Peoples Vs Hittites (Day 3 - Monday)
I generated this prior to fixing the spreadsheet so breakpoint due to the +1 command, so Sea People breakpoint is one less that listed here.

I wanted to deploy the Medium Chariots on the right flank but the tactics were centre attack rather than flank (or flank and centre),so moved them to the centre.  Not sure how well it would go - at least it will make it more interesting.   In hindsight the Chariots on the flank may have been better.

The battlelines clashed and after two rounds of combat there was no routs.  Very unusual.

Ancient battlelines clash

End game, Hittites lost.
The  Hittite General died.  A very unlucky 1 and being alone saw him go.  Despite this, most of the army fought on but the Hittites lost.  Another battle that could have gone either way.

A fine game with no lessons.

Game 05 -  Lydian Vs Asiatic Greece (Day 4 - Tuesday)
Again, I generated this prior to fixing the spreadsheet so breakpoint due to the +1 command, so Lydian breakpoint is one less that listed here.

Again, there is supposed to be a stream running down the middle (the == on the deployment map) but did not see it until writing this up. Doh!

All the Greek units are poor in melee than the Lydians (combat value one less).  This will make it hard for the Greeks.

Could not help but take a picture of these Hoplites I acquired about 5 years ago.  I really like them.

The Greeks lost, but not for want of trying.  Lone units get a -1 to combat that will negate the superior training. So they managed to take down a few Lydian units before reaching their own breakpoint.
Game end.
This game was very fast - about 3 turns all up.  Because of the reactions that can then spawn more reactions, there is a lot going on and so a fair amount of narrative is generated.  So I am enjoying all the games greatly.   I remember why I liked playing them.  The programmed opponent is holding up very well, better than I thought.  I must have spend quite a bit of time crafting them last year - I can't remember.

In this game there was a few one on two combats. In the current rules, the two dice are rolled and the results are applied to both on one side, and the worst on the other.  However, two slightly poorer units will always come of badly against one good one.   I have always had a little voice saying that this does not seem right and maybe a -1 modifier or something for the two on one.   A +/-1 modifier is a lot in this game.  And often the single unit is also a lone unit and it getting the -1 anyway.  It has never really been a problem but still the voices continue - surely extending a battleline (that I think is what is happening in reality) to ensure they are the same length would have an impact.  I spent a lot more time thinking and I am gong to test out that for two on one combats, treat the single unit as unsupported if not unsupported anyway.  So a -1 modifier but if already unsupported, the rules are unchanged.  It will only really affect combats between unequal battleline lengths and give a slight advantage to the longer battleline -which is a good thing,

Time to play
It takes less than a minute to open up the excel sheet, generate the army deployment and print to a pdf.  For some of the armies I am less familiar with (most dark ages one and I have had a few so far) I have needed to look up what the warriors look like (using my trusty Armies of the Dark Ages/Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome/ancient Near East).  I then go the figure cabinet and get them.  This sometimes takes 30 minutes as I get distracted looking at the reference books and looking through my figures!  Deployment takes about 5 minutes.  The game is 20-30 minutes.  Packing the figures away is about 5 minutes. Writing up what happened up to 10 minutes.  I have also been tweaking the army lists along the way, another 10-30 minutes depending on how much research I need to do)  So I am spending at least an hour to an hour-and-a-half a game in total.  Hopefully this will get down to 40 minutes as I get more games in  and less fixes and lookups required.

The first few games had quite a few defensive orders and the is only a 1/6 chance of them.  Later games have had none so it is just the way the spreadsheet is randomising.
The first few had Command +1 and there is a 1/3 of a chance of a +1 or +2 command.  So while it seems like a lot, there should be 2 every 3 games (3 games has 6 armies and with a 1/3 chance is 2).  So not too bad actually.
I have also had to explain splitting groups a little better - with my rewrite into version 2.0 I pared down the description so much it does not explain specifically how to do it! Only required another sentence but how to do it is now actually explained.

Some very minor rule changes so far and mostly fixing army generation and army lists.  The programmed opponent seems to be working fine.  On track with 5 games in 5 days. Very happy with how it is going so far, looking forward to the next lot of games.

Final thought
I have also realised I can easily do a campaign - pick an army, randomly generate the opposing forces and deployment and use rules cribbed form other rulesets on what to do with units that rout between games.  Hmm.  Will have to think on when to this - for a while I have wanted to just pick one army and play with it for 5-10 games to get a feel for it under the rules.

Oh,and I will try and take some more pictures of during the game rather than the start and end.

Friday, September 25, 2015

30 games in 30 days using Ancient Battlelines Clash and programmed opponent

I have not played much with my Ancient Battlelines Clash ancient rules  and always enjoyed them when I did.  I am testing the rules themselves by replaying Peter Side’s ancient and medieval scenarios.  It has been slow going as I read up on each battle prior to playing it.  I enjoy the researching into the battle, but it is time consuming.

In 2013, Dale Hurtt on his Solo Battles blog discussed creating finite state machines to assist with unit actions for solo play.  His example was for Saga, but in April 2014 I built a programmed opponent for my ancient rules and tested them out with a few games.  I have been meaning to get back to them to test them out further but was side tracked into other projects.

In 2014 I also considered for my annual November solo challenge doing 30 games in 30 games.  Alas, I was busy and did not do anything special.  The idea hung around though.

I already had built an excel spreadsheet that randomly created a complete game setup – the two opposing forces, the terrain and the programmed opponent deployment and orders for each side. A database would be a better option but the last time I touched anything like that was 25 years ago.  Excel may be an ugly substitute but it works.

I only had about 40 armies to choose from. I prefer to play historically matching sides.  So I took the DBA 1.1 enemies list, converted it to match my ABC army lists and now can create a complete random setup that ensures a modicum of historically matched pairs.  I also created about another 35 armies lists (some were in various states on completion anyway) to create a decent spread of historical opponents.  This all took a few months and many many hours when I could have been gaming instead, but I love doing this sort of stuff as much as gaming.

The focus of the 30 games with random armies is three fold:
  • To test out the programmed opponent with different types of armies
  • To get some of my little used figures on the table
  • To play some games!
I was going to wait until (solo) November for the 30 games but thought that I am just about ready now so will do it in October.  It will not be one game a day, but so long as I can get 7-8 games in a week that will be fine. All the pre-battle work gets done, except for physically getting out the miniatures and putting them on the table.  But I am not going to write up each one individually.  Not quite sure yet whether one long post or a few and whether to include the troop lists and how many pictures per game.  If I want to play 30 games, I am not going to have much time to write up in detail each battle.  I did think about randomising all 30 games at once and working through them chronologically, but think I will just to the next couple coming up, a least to make it easier to get the minis sorted prior to playing.

Of course, I have not played any games yet and may have jinxed it by writing it down.  It may end up being 3 games in 3 months!

I have generated the first three games and so it may start a few days before 1 October:

  1. Early Republican Roman Vs Later Selucid
  2. Mid Imperial Roman Vs Early Saxon
  3. Viking Scandinavian Vs Later Gaul and Briton

I am looking forward to 2 and 3 as I have never used the well painted Imperial Romans I got in 2012 and the Viking figures (painted to a below wargaming standard) I obtained about 4 years ago and managed to base last year.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cold War 1986 British Vs Pact second game (using Tank Wreck)

I had not played with some 6mm British Cold War stuff since 1981. I acquires some enemies and in August 2015 pushed the figures around, and wrote about it as this blog post.  It was so much fun, I set up another scenario to play.  The TankWreck! rules worked for my first outing so will use them here again.

I will be playing on my small board and convert inches to cm.

For my first game, I heavily modified the  first scenario in the Force on Force First Clash - a Cold War Gone Hot Campaign (I downloaded a copy via the Guild).  I will heavily modify the second one for this game. I changed Canadian to British and upscaled the infantry. There was possibly a little too much infantry on the table last scenario so will reduce it slightly for this one.

A force of British infantry and armour guard a village and a ridge. The  Soviet armour and mech infantry objective is to take the village and hill in ten turns. Victory points are obtained by causing casualties and taking objectives.

Table.  Soviets enter on the road on the right, British deployed around the village.

Soviets (start offboard)

Soviet forces
4 T-80s
4 BTR80 each with infantry stands (in one company)
BRDM2 artillery observer
2 offboard heavy mortars

British forces
(in village)
6 infantry stands (in two companies)
4 FV432 (part of above companies)
2 FVV432 with Wombat (part of above companies)
Landrover with artillery observer stand
2 Chieftains (one company)
(reinforcements on beginning of turn when d10 less than or equal to turn number)
2 Chieftains (one company)
2 offboard 81mm mortars

All British unit are in or around the village. Artillery will be placed at the edge of each respective edge but is only there so I remember about it!  They are really both offboard.  There is a minefield on either side of the road at Soviet entry, and also there is supposed to be a railway track bisecting the table after the minefield.  I will just play that no units may stray off the road prior to the crops.

The British deployed in the village.  Bases behind houses are actaully inside the houses
The T80s move on.  A Chieftain takes a shot and suppresses the lead T80. Action on turn 1 - excellent!

Turn 1 and the lead T80 is suppressed.
Turn 2 and all the forces are on and in the field.

Soviets move off the road into the field
A Chieftain destroys a BTR80 on the road. The carried infantry is also destroyed (there is a die roll for this that they failed). The other Chieftain suppresses the lead T80 in the field.

The BTR-80 that was still on the road is destroyed (and a T80 supprressed.
Russian artillery shells the large village and suppresses an infantry and two FV432s; the subsequent morale check sees all the company suppressed.

Village under artillery fire (the dark brown paper cutouts are supposed to indicate this)
The BTRs dash to the village and the infantry dismount.  With some lucky rolls the Soviet infantry and BTR autocannons destroy two British infantry units!  This company is subsequently broken in their morale check. In the following turn , the retreating British infantry fail another morale check and rout off the table.

The Sovires dismount to attack the village defenders and lucky rolls see 2 British defenders destroyed. They subsequently retreat and rout.
The Chieftains realise the village is unsafe and retire to the hill. The T80s fire but only suppress one, the other suppressed in the subsequent morale check. By now you would realise the morale check is one of the key mechanisms in the game.  And it says so in the rules too!

The chieftains retire from the village to the rear hill.
The T80 suppresses a Chieftain again. The British infantry loads into FV432 and retreats. Russian infantry load up into BTRs. Russian artillery suppresses some infantry in the other part of the village and all are suppressed by a failing morale check,

The other village is under Soviet artillery fire, ready for a Soviet attack.
It is now turn 6.  The British win initiative and activate the village company and remove suppression before further enemy fire can break them more easily.  The BTRs race for the other half of the village and the Soviet infantry disembark and destroy one infantry.

...which is shown here.
The tanks trade shots for no effect and the Chieftain re-reinforcements arrive.

The Chieftain reinforcements arrive!
T80s race forwards on their left flank and a Chieftain is destroyed. In the village, the Soviets are suppressed.  A British infantry base is destroyed and they rout. One of the reinforcing Chieftains destroy a BTR.

The village is nearly in Soviet hands, destroying some British defenders and breaking the rest.
The T80s race ahead further and suppress a Chieftain. The broken British infantry bases race to the rear. The broken units fail their morale check and rout (with a 1- the same score the other infantry company rolled to rout!)  The Russian infantry consolidate their position in village (hiding from Chieftains!).
Second last turn and the T80s and Chieftains trade shots. One T80 suppressed, one chieftain KO. The British artillery failed to call in on the village. This happened a few times for the Brits where they failed to call in with excellent targets available.

Near the end, one Chieftain destroyed on the hill, villages are all under Soviet control.
Turn 10 - last turn - and all that occurs is a Chieftain destroys a T80.

End of game  another Chieftain gone, and a t-80 destroyed in retaliation..
Victory points
Soviet: 26
Brit: 16

A clear win for the Soviets.

Woo-hoo! loads of fun.  Had a plan for both sides and know the rules a lot better.  Great time. The mechanised Soviet infantry managed to overcome the British defenders as they always had both the infantry fire and the autocannon support from the BTRs while the British just had infantry, and poor dice.