Thursday, 14 April 2016

Hail Caesar - Romans v Samnites

At this month's club meet, Nick got out his nicely painted 15mm ancient figures and Mr Steve L supplied the AAR. In between the other games I spent quite a bit of time capturing the set up and playing of this Roman/Companion versus Samnite/Gallic slug fest which produced some great pictures and a hard fought result.

Enjoy - JJ

A Roman/Companion army fighting a Samnite/Gallic alliance for the important farm and Sacred Site on a hill.

Deployed on the Table were a Roman Division in a farm and the Companion Division on a hill containing a sacred site. The Samnite’s had one Linen Division facing the Farm and a Coloured Division facing the Companions.

The game started with a further two Roman Divisions appearing from the South West along the road
between a hill and some woods. A Roman Cavalry Division came on from the South East. The Samnite’s brought on a further Linen Division and another Coloured Division and a cavalry division from the North and North East. The Gallic Cavalry came on from the North West.

Three moves into the game there was a very nasty surprise for the two Roman Divisions as, from the woods, they were ambushed by a big Gallic War band. After the ambush the Gaul’s retreated back through the woods to reform on a hill to await the arrival of their cavalry.

At the farm the Samnite’s proceeded to amass three Divisions to attack the poor Romans, who had been asked by the local inhabitants to look after it. Meanwhile on the hill, the Companions slept.

The two ambushed Roman Divisions shook themselves out and proceeded to the crossroads to be met by the Gaul’s ably led by the The Dice Master (Ian). At the farm Mr Steve amassed his Divisions and
attacked three walls of the farm. Steve H suffered his next dicing catastrophe as he lost his heavy unit in the first attack on the farm.

Meanwhile on the hill, zzzzzzzz.

The fourth Samnite division had by now positioned itself between the farm and the hill along with a division of cavalry. The Roman cavalry had positioned themselves as a threat to these divisions and started a running battle with the Gallic cavalry.

The Gaul’s and Romans were having a blood fest with The Dice Man in imperious form but the Romans were beginning to overwhelm them. At the farm the Romans and Samnite’s were slugging it out with the battle swinging one way then the other (Mr Steve and Steve H both throwing really bad dice) but the Samnite numbers were now telling with the Romans being pushed away from the walls with the loss of another unit.

Meanwhile on the hill, zzzzzzz.

Move Nine. The Romans and Gaul’s have by now almost exhausted each other, fighting to a stalemate. The farm was, by all intents and purposes, in Samnite hands with the remnants of the Roman division pulling out very badly mauled. Meanwhile on the hill….the Companions have woken up and are coming off the hill, or are they, DOUBLE SIX, blunder, two moves to the rear plus one casualty on each unit. Oh blast.

The Samnite/Gallic alliance claimed a victory citing the amount of casualties inflicted and the farm now in their hands. However as the Romans are writing this history, it was obviously a resounding Roman victory and the senate has been so informed.

The reality is that, whilst the Romans/Companions may claim a moral victory by still holding the Sacred site on the hill, they had lost the farm, were very badly mauled and were being beaten back.

This was a game that pitted a Roman & Companion army of 580 points against a Samnite & Gaul army of 820 Points. Hail Caesar was the rules used and also the basis for the point’s calculation. The Samnite, Roman and Gallic figures were by Xyston whilst the Companions were Forged in Battle. The figures were painted and based by Nick.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Donnybrook - French Indian War

League of Augsburg Site - Shop for Rules

One of the three three games featured at this month's club meet was this Donnybrook meets Hawkeye and Chingachgook using Mr Steve M's growing collection of 28mm French Indian Wars figures.

I had dabbled with this set of skirmish rules back in December last year with a scenario set up in Deepest Darkest Congo during our Xmas gathering at Chez Carter.
Deepest Darkest Africa with Donnybrook - JJ's Wargames

In that game Chas had made some adaptions, as the rules encourage you to do, to cater for a large number of players. This series of games, as we managed to play three scenarios during the day, was a smaller set up and thus allowed as to play the rules in their more purest form, ie as written using reload cards and special events, plus all the main types of characters.

During the day we played three fairly standard skirmish type game scenarios starting with an Escort mission, with a British escort accompanying a party of important ladies, an ammunition and pay wagon, attacked by a French raiding party with a potential British relief force on the way.

We then had a go at a British Rear Guard mission aiming to hold the French forces from leaving the table via the British base line for a fixed number of turns and then a straight up Meeting Engagement off the march with two equal forces looking to break the other sides army morale first.

The table set up for the 'Escort' mission
The table you can see was used for the three missions with the different forces changing base edge for each of the missions that generated three very different fights, all of which I ended up playing various factions losing - Jack, I still say you are a bandit!!

As we changed things around through the day I grabbed some pictures of the action, principally from the Escort and Rear Guard missions, for your amusement; and with a seemingly endless supply of skirmish level rule sets hitting the market and with myself just having ordered Sharp Practice 2 this week, thought I would share my impressions of how these rules play.

All round defence as the ladies take shelter in the main house during the "Escort" mission
The Donnybrook rules use a card driven system with cards in the deck representing the various single figure characters (Officers, sergeants, drummers, heroes - these characters have special effects options to add a little spice to the game); in addition there are the unit cards and event cards including, special events and reload fired weapons.

All the game activities are driven by the draw of these cards and the deck is reshuffled on the drawing of the Turn end card. All very straight forward.

Colonel McCloud commands the regulars to help protect the wagons on the road
Units and characters test for their ability to successfully perform actions once activated by the use of various numbered dice (D6, D8, D10, D12) requiring a 6+ to pass and obviously with the better ability reflected in the higher dice used.

There is a point system in the rules to work out the number of units you can field and their quality determined by faction (army, outlaws, civilian mob etc) and table size (4' x 4', 6' x 4') which simply determines whether you get to field a 4, 6 or 8 unit force, with units ranging from 4 elite, 8 drilled or 12 recruit infantry figures. The cavalry units, which we were not using, range from 3 elite, 6 drilled and 9 recruit troopers.

Rangers cover the rear as the British go 'firm' in the "Escort" mission
Our forces generally had one elite, two or three drilled and a couple of recruits or variations on that theme, to include Indian and Irregular forces.

In addition we fielded characters such as drummers who for example would give +d3 inches on movement or sergeants who could order a unit to reload instead of waiting for the reload card and others.

French irregular forces move in
Donnybrook are a well worked through set of rules and we found they give a fast and furious entertaining game without overtaxing the grey matter.

French regulars block the road preventing escape and relief
That said, the group of players at yesterday's game are all 'grognards' of the black powder, horse and musket era and inevitably we were wanting to have range bands and different reload rates for rifles over muskets, which the rules don't specify. However we were soon testing our own variations to cater for our own peculiar demands on the rules and I think here lies the strength in them, in that the basic structure seems very accommodating to individual tastes.

French militia move up through the woods
I know that might not be to everyone's taste, especially to those that have grown up with rules that 'chapter and verse' every possible situation and challenge their desire to find a way of breaking them. I am glad to say we don't have players like that in the DWG and thus we are able to model the games we want to play bringing to bear the vast amount of knowledge and gaming experience we have in the club. These rules are perfect for that approach.

More French regulars prepare to move in
The French firing line - pushing forward in the "Rear Guard" mission
Throughout the day we found ourselves comparing the play with "Muskets and Tomahawks" another skirmish set aimed specifically at the period we were playing. Of the two sets, I think I slightly prefer Donnybrook, but would happily play either.

The British rear guard defenders hold the line as the pressure grows
As I said in the preamble, I have just ordered up the Sharp Practice bundle having been following the thread of posts put out by the Lardies over recent weeks and I look forward to play testing them in time, so it will be interesting to compare.

French fire increases as the British prepare to pull back
As a keen horse and musket player I am looking for a 'turn to' set of skirmish rules that allow for a good modelling of those lower level actions that characterised all of the campaigns of the era and also give a fun game easily picked up and played.

Donnybrook definitely falls into the list of options and if you haven't played them, then keep them on the list of possible options.

The French light forces led by the Indians feel out the flanks
The two lines close and swap volleys
Skirmish fire from the tree line
Thanks to Steve M, Jack and Vince for a very entertaining afternoon in the wilds of French Canada and three good games of Donnybrook, probably the most scenarios I have played with one rule set in an afternoon at club.