Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Battle of Delium 424BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 11 in playtesting my ancient rules. Previous games used my rules called Ancient Warrior  Battles.  The latest version is on its own blog page. I am playtesting the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on 2'x2' tables.

The Battle of Delium is not one of the Peter Sides scenarios, or in my other replay list, Bill Banks Ancients.  I came across Delium as a replayable scenario while researching Leuctra.  Hence I am playing it out of chronological order compared to the previous battles.

Battle of Delium
Athens invades Boeotia and fortifies the temple at Delium.The Theban commander, Pagondas, convinces the Boeotian forces to attack the Athenian force, led by Hippocrates.

Here are links of interest and that I used to create the scenario:

Wikipedia article
fanaticus.org DBA scenario
Warhammer Ancient Battles scenario
Thucydides Book IV 89 onwards

I also used Lost Battles (Sabin).


1 Elite/formed-deep Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx, fortitude +1
6 Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx
2 Heavy Cavalry, HC
4 Skirmisher, SI, javelin
1 General (Pagondas)

Breakpoint: 10


7 Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx
2 Heavy Cavalry, HC, fortitude -1
1 -1 General (Hippocrates)

Breakpoint: 9

Athens on the left, Boeotians to the right on the hill.  Note the rivers that inhibit flanking.

Note that both wings are constrained in movement by the rivers.

The Game
An unfair fight if I ever saw one.  But the river restricting the cavalry movements may even it out a bit (in the actual battle, Pagondas moves cavalry from one flank to another to assist the failing left flank).

Thebans move the entire line forwards.  Athens responds by moving three hoplites on their right flank up.

Athenians (top) advance 3 hoplites to face the Boeotian left flank (bottom)
The plan is the Skirmish infantry will throw their javelins, and then hoplites charge forwards and as the general is attached to one of them, there is a chance to break the Theban left flank.  It sort of works - one retreat each.  This is the best chance for the Athenians to win.

One retreat to each side (Athenians at the top)

The Boeotian right flank move up to tempt out the Athenians.  While on left flank the Athenian Hoplites with an attached Hippocrates routs opposing disordered phalanx; they pursue into another disordered hoplite that rolls a 1 and routs too!  Hippocrates is doing well.

Hippocrates (centre) and hoplite unit that has no units in front - they have routed.

Athenian left flank forced to advance to protect the right flank. Pagondas and the Boeotian Heavy Cavalry move from the Boeotian right flank moves to shore up the left flank.  

Pagondas (centre) and Boeotian heavy cavalry (centre rear) moving to shore up Boeotian left
 An Athenian hoplite, shored up with an attached Hippocrates, routs the opposing cavalry (the one that was already on the Boeotian left flank).

Hippocrates and victorious hoplites

Not to be outdone,  Pagondas assists a disordered hoplite to rout an opposing hoplite too.

Pagondas and victorious hoplites.

The centre 2 Athenian hoplites advance and mange to rout a disordered hoplite with Pagondas; they advance and capture him too!

Pagondas (on the left) just before having the hoplites he is with rout, and then being captured by the hoplites he is facing
Boeotians reach breakpoint.  I play to the end of the Athens turn but nothing more.

End of game position (Athens at the top and the left as well).

The Thebans may have had a chance with the heavy cavalry flanking disordered hoplites, and with the elite hoplites (on the right) with the +1 fortitude advantage on the opposing hoplites.  But they just did not get the chance.

Game took one hour, including taking photos and writing the progress of the game.  Fast and furious and great fun.  I did not expect the outcome but the whole game was a tight balance and could have gone either way every time I rolled the dice.  I love ancient wargaming.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Spaceship miniature game - Starfire with Firestorm Armada models

So, spaceships.  Where did this come from?  I have never done spaceships miniatures before and so I bought some earlier this year.  Why does a wargamer ever need a reason to start a new project?
Back in the early 80's, and before I got together with my partner (and now wife), I used to do a fair bit of science fiction boardgaming (ones I played a few times that spring to mind are WarpWar, Starforce, Titan Strike, Ogre, Dune, Sword and the Stars) and also spaceship boardgames.  I did play Starfire a bit (the original ziplock bags and then the second edition), SFB a lot, Yaquinto's Shooting Stars  and FASA's Leviathan a little bit, and some space fighter miniature rules called Starhound (but playing with someone else's homemade spaceships).  I stopped doing this around 1985.
When the spaceships turned up my wife asked "Since when are you into spaceship gaming?"
And I replied (with the truth!) "Oh, in the early 80's I used to do a lot of space gaming."
"Oh, before my time then..." and lost interest in further conversation. No "What are you doing?!" or "How much did you spend?" or rolling of the eyes.  A keeper.
The acquired ships
The ships are a bunch of painted Firestorm Armada ships - a few starter kits and models.  Large models, but I am expecting I can also use them to play some games with my children.  And I like using larger spaceships.
The Firestrom armada ships - mostly Dindrenzi and Terran.
I have acquired a few spaceship rules (and science fiction boardgames, but that is another story) since over the years, assuming I would maybe get back into it - Full Thrust, Silent Death, Starfire 3rd edition (and Ultra edition!), Attack Vector: Tactical, Squadron Strike. Also some more recent that are available as a PDF; THW 5150: Fighter Command being the most recent.

But what rules to use? I am looking for quick games with maybe up to 1/2 dozen ships a side.  Not fleet battles, and not detailed ships as per SFB.  Full Thrust looks ideal and I may try them later, but to get me in the mood for spaceship gaming, I am going to use Starfire.  I loved Starfire more than SFB but I never liked the large battles and large ships that were in Starfire and also played smaller scenarios.  So I will go with that for now, but I do have Full Thrust, Starmada Nova, Warcosm and 5150:FC on the top of the pile to try out. I am using Starfire as I know the rules, not because I think it is the best system out there for me.

Starfire 2nd Edition box
Starfire very quick overview
A ship in Starfire is a represented by a list of ship systems, from left to right with shields and armour to the left and weapons and engines further in (see below for an example).  Damage is crossed off from left to right, although some weapons can skip armor and/or shields.  Ships move up to 6 hexes and need to move a number of hexes before they can turn 60 degrees (no vector movement here).  Range of beams etc is normally around 10, and missiles are 20.   Players moves ships one at a time alternatively and fire one at a time alternatively.  Who moves or fires the first ship is via initiative that is rolled for at the start of each turn.  Movement is broken down into 6 phases - in phase 1 all players move ships up to one hex, second pahse all players move ships another hext, then thirs phase.  Can only move in phases up to your movement rate, so faster ships will get a movement advantage.  when fighters turn up, they move further than 6 and there are more phases to compensate.  that's about it.,  no specific weapons firing arcs but no ship can fire 60 degrees to the rear.
Starfire Mods
Life would not be complete without tinkering with the rules.  So this is what I have done so far:
I use the rules from the second edition except for:
  • I use the ships systems from the 3rd edition (with magazines, engine rooms etc) so I can use the ship designs from "The Stars at War". I did not want to design ships for Starfire.  Although interesting, I did not want to invest in learning design when I am unlikely to play many games of Starfire.
  • I converted the to hit table from 2d6 to 1d6 (I like rolling single dice - always bugged me the 2d6 per weapon)
  • If you roll 2 1's when firing with all the ships weapons, you inflict a critical hit and inflict another hit 1d6 systems further in (or the last one if you roll higher than the number of systems left)
I was looking for something simple with only a few ships (a lot of battles are large with lots of capital ships) and a few different ship types to try out my first foray in 28 years (wow, it sounds like a lot when I write it down!).  So I used scenario 2 from "The Stars at War" with the Khanate of Orion defending a Space Station with a Light Cruiser and 3 escorts.  Attacking is the Terran Confederation with 2 destroyers and 2 frigates.
Khanate of Orion

Spacestation BS1 (0) SSSAAAALhQRGRGMg (0)
CL Karhae (flag) (3) SSSSSAAAA(Bbs)G(II)LR(I)RMgQsH(CIC)(II)(I)Qs(II)(I) (6)
ES  Malkon  (2) AH(I)GRMgQS(I) (4)
ES  Talron (2) AH(I)GRMgQS(I) (4)
Forces start 20 hexes of the planet (Mazdranar)
Terran Confederation

DD Napoleon (flag) (2) SSSSSAAAAHW(I)LM1(I)(I)(I)WMgLhQ(I)(I) (6)
DD Discovery (refit) (2) SSSAAZHL(I)(I)WMgQs(I)(I)(I) (5)
FG Outreach (2) SSAHX(I)(I)(I)GRMgX(I)(I)Qs(I) (6)

For those not familar with Starfire the main things to know are:
S = Shield
A = Armour
(I) = Engines
G = Gun
R = missile launchers
W = Gun /missile launcher combo
L = Laser
The Game
 Starfire is hex based and  so I dragged out the hexsheets from Leviathan and put them on the floor.  I have a dark wood 3x5 fold out table that I would have used if it was non-hex.  Not that fond of hex based miniature games, and I could have done with larger hexes.  But you play with what you've got! 

Terrans come on the board and advance over 2 turns into missile range.  They focus on one of the Escorts (Malkon) and do 3 damage, reducing its speed to 2 and taking out the Gun.

Exchanging missiles

The Khanate missed 2 out of four shots available (a 6 is a miss!) focusing on the Discovery.

Terrans have one more laser (range of 8) in total than the Khanate, and so move closer.  The Khanate have more Guns, so need to get closer too (guns are range 9 with a 1 in 6 chanve of a hit; range 6 is when there is a 50% chance to hit. Beams will only miss on a d6=6 out to range 8.

Malkon loses second weapon and effectively out f thefight, napoleon has M1 so splits between Karhae and Malkon.

Closing in....

Kahae focuses on the Discovery and takes out shields and armor, and the Talron does first blood on an internal system (a hold) of Discovery.
I just like the look of the ship so here is a pic (Dindrenzi Cruiser standiung in for the Khanate Karhae)

The Terrans are now in range of the Space Station. It has two missile launchers that it targets on the Discovery. Yep.  Laser and Engine gone.  Talron then takes out remaining weapons on the Discovery.  Karhae hits with all weapons on  Outreach,  but all Outreach weapons are still OK - they are well back in the ship list of systems.

Something I have forgotten after 20 years is that missiles don't hit well at range 0-2.  Oops for the Khanate who I have moved quite close to the Terrans.  The Terrans have dual missile/gun launchers so are fine at short range.

Karhae gets 4 hits on the Outreach - not looking good - Talron hits on its shots and Outreach has no weapons left. Napoleon proceeds to rip the guts out of Talron.

The ships in action
Only Napoleon and Karhae and the pace station left. The Napoleon can take more damage than the Karhae at this stage, but the Space Station will keep sniping.   It will be a close run thing.

Karhae is too close!  Only it and the Terran destroyer Napoleon is left in the fight.  Karhae begins to turn and run for the Space Station.

A couple of turns are spent exchanging shots as Karhae runs closer to the space station.  Napoleon gets the initiative for the first time in ages, fires first and takes out Karhae laser and missile launcher.  So Karhae only has one weapons left; but Karhae fires back and takes out a weapon on Napoleon too.  Space Station still sniping.

Karhae is back near the Space station.  Eventually Napoleon becomes devoid of weapons.

I played a few more turns with pot shots being taken but Napoleon lost its last weapons before being able to drop the shields and armour on the Space Station.  So a win the the Khanate, but with much damage to both sides.


Even for a simple combat sequence, there what a lot I forgot about tactics - Beams Vs Missiles, close range stuff, rear arcs etc.  And to really focus on the order that the ship systems are!  But I had a blast.  It may be awhile before I drag them out again but I hope to do so later this year.  Not sure if I am up to the complexity of some of the rules after playing Starfire - firing arcs, written orders etc may end up being too much for what I want from spaceship gaming!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Battle of Leuctra 371BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 10 in playtesting my ancient rules. Previous games used my rules called Ancient Warrior  Battles.  The latest version is on its own blog page. I am playtesting the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on 2'x2' tables.

Battle of Leuctra
Thebans and Boeotians, led by Epaminondas, defeat the Spartans and their allies.  This victory broke the Spartan domination of Greece.

Here is a link of interest:

Wikipedia article

Changes to the Bill Banks Scenario
The scenario is designed to play on a 24"x16" board, so no changes required there. The depth ratio will be fine being longer as ABC has longer move distances than DBA.  The scenario also had all the Spatans and ally hoplites as Spear (O), except 1, and all the Theban and ally hoplites as Spear (S). I changed this by improving some Spartans, and downgrading the Theban allies.  Lastly, I reduced slightly the number of bases on each side so they would fit onto a 24 frontage - DBA allows for Spear rear support, and my rules don't.  In the original scenario there are too many units to deploy in a single line on a 24" frontage.

Thebans and allies
Thebans, from left to right, skirmishers, hoplites, cavalry (and elite hoplites behind).

2 Elite Hoplites/Sacred band, HI, protection 0, phalanx, fortitude +1
5 Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx
3 Heavy Cavalry, HC
4 Skirmisher, SI, javelin
1 General (Epaminondas)


Sparta and allies

Spartans, left to right, skirmishers, cavalry, hoplites, skirmshers.

2 Spartan Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx, fortitude +1
8 Hoplites, HI, protection 0, phalanx
2 Heavy Cavalry, HC, fortitude -1
4 Skirmisher, SI, javelin
1 Camp (on a hill)
1 -1 General (Cleombrotus I)



Spartans to the left.  Their battleline is definitely a lot longer than the Thebans!

The Plan
Theban: The Theban cavalry need to charge the opposing Allied Cavalry and hopefully force them back (rout or retreat) through the hoplites, disordering them.  Followup really fast while disordered to gain an advantage.  Refuse the weak right flank.
Spartan: The Theban Cavalry are going to come on, and are better than us.  Hold on as long as possible while attacking with the left flank where we have the superiority of numbers.

The Game
Theban cavalry charge the Spartans counterparts.

The Theban cavalry (right) charges into the Spartans.  The generals are the single cavalry figures.

Three average heavy cavalry Vs two poor ones;  one Spartan cavalry routs back through their own hoplites and disordered them.  This is something I have borrowed from Justified Ancients - every unit will involuntarily interpenetrate others when routing or retreating.  Heavy infantry will be disordered when interpenetrated.  It also allows for the historical event in this battle where the retreating spartan cavalry disrupts the Spartan hoplites behind them.   One Theban cavalry is also forced to retreat.

The elite Thebans hoplites move up to be closer to the cavalry battle.

While cavalry battle is a swirling, the rest of the battleline on both sides moves.  The Thebans needed to advance to protect there cavalry flanks.

The Spartan cavalry is depleted and routs backwards, disordering another Spartan hoplite.  A Theban Cavalry pursues into a skirmisher unit - routs it and then pursues even further into a Spartan hoplite and is locked in melee.

After the cavalry met - the Thebans are on the left.  One Theban cavalry (at the rear of the picture) pursued a routing Spartan cavalry unit into a hoplite unit.  Green bushes are disorder markers.  There is a lot of disorder!
More toing and froing with the Theban cavalry and Spartan hoplites.  A Theban cavalry unit retreats through the elite Theban hoplites and disorders them (ha! just like they did to the Spartans).  Spartan unit with  Cleombrotus I commands the centre. Epaminondas had the Theban cavalry unit he was attached to destroyed, but he survived.

Another turn and on the Theban left flank sees all the Spartan cavalry gone.  One Theban cavalry lost. Theban elite hoplites are in the centre (both disordered by the retreating Theban cavalry seen on the right). 
Epaminondas can be seen alone between two enemy hoplites.

The Spartan left flank advances and manages to rout some skirmishers (skirmish infantry will usually evade from heavy infantry but are disordered.  Two evades will destroy a skirmish infantry).  They also engage some Theban hoplites  but they are both disordered and locked in melee (which is what normally happens when two similar units meet).

On the Theban right flank the Spartans (on the left) are doing better on this flank. 

This ends turn 3!

A Theban hoplite charges into a Spartan hoplite already in melee and already disordered.  This fresh hoplites manages to deplete the Spartan hoplite which is a rout (a deplete result when disordered is a rout).

..well, maybe not so good.  The Spartans are down a hoplite (the gap in the middle of the line at the rear).
Epaminondas moves over to assist cavalry in combat with disordered Spartans and with a good roll depletes them and the Spartan breakpoint is reached.

Theban cavalry that routed an opposing disordered hoplite and caused the Spartans to reach their breakpoint.
 Game over.

End game. Most of the Spartans are in the centre line and the darker bases - the Thebans are to the left and lighter.

 The Thebans had only lost one cavalry and all their skirmishers, but they did have a few lucky rolls as well.  More of the cavalry would have gone with average rolls and it would have been a much closer game.  Rules are still fun and no changes required, a good thing.  I will be out of the hoplite clashes in a few more games and so will have to wait and see if more changes are required with different troop types.

The shorter format definitely is helping me focus on getting more games - I have the next one already half played and the four after that in varying stages of scenario development.