Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Faux Lucre

More bread cast on the water has returned to me after many (many) days. Way back in September of '13, I caught sight of a Kickstarter campaign for metal gaming coins—not just any metal gaming coins—these were the best damn metal gaming coins ever! I kicked in at the $100.00 level, which gave me 500 coins. I was duly notified on 9/1/13 that I was in the club.

The campaign was fully funded soon after that at the fullest level. This unlocked a lot of new coin options. Among them all, I went for the Roman coins because my idea was to use them for betting in gladiator games. I chose eight of the standard sets and one each of a set that included just one coin type. For reasons I'm still unsure of, I chose to get a set of 20 of the "Caesar" coins and a set of 70 of the "Constantine" coins. I had the option of adding additional sets for $10.00, but close to stick with my $100.00 funding. I wish now I might have kicked in another $20.00 or $30.00.

The making, sorting, shipping of the coins took some time. Months. 18 months, in fact. All the while, we kept getting progress reports good and bad (mostly bad): Production delays, production problems, shipping issues, etc. But fulfillment drew inexorably nearer. Finally, last Thursday, a very heavy and well-wrapped priority mail package appeared in my mailbox.

Little plastic packages filled with the best damn metal gaming joy ever!
Each set contains 4 of the large gold "Caesar" coins, 6 of the silver "Augustus" coins, 10 of the bronze "Constantine" coins, 16 of the nickel-ish "Antoninus" coins, and 24 of the wee bronze "Trajan" coins. It turns out that one set didn't contain any "Augusti" but I got an extra set of "Caesari" instead. I could complain, but I'm too happy to have the coins to whinge. I can manage to do with six fewer of one and four more of another.

It makes sense for valuation to assign them Roman numerals from smallest to largest: I=1, V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100. All told, including the mis-sort, I have the following:

"Caesar" coins (value C): 56
"Augustus" coins (value L): 42
"Constantine" coins (value X): 150
"Antoninus" coins (value V): 128
"Trajan" coins (value I): 192

"Caesar" coin
"Augustus" coin
"Constantine" coin
"Antoninus" coin
Wee "Trajan" coin
I have my 35mm (closer to 40mm) Gripping Beast gladiators in the works. Now that I have the coins, I think there's nothing stopping me from finishing the project (other than myself, of course).

I do need to figure out a betting system for the games, however...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

These wounds I had on Crispian's day...

Chris Craft ran a 100 Years War game on Saturday using Warlord Games' Hail Caesar rules. The scenario was a hypothetical action just after Henry V and his wee army cross the Somme: Harry and the lads have an advanced guard set up behind stakes with plenty o' arrows. Coming on to their left are another English division and, farther off, a small Gascon division. The French facing them consist of a division of mounted men at arms, two divisions of dismounted French men at arms with a few crossbowmen, and a third division of militia.

The English advance guard well-positioned with cannon
John Kennedy, Ken Kissling, and I were the French; Chris and Steve Puffenberger were les Anglais. All the figures were painted by Chris.

The serried ranks of French chivalry à cheval et à pied

The second English division forms up
The French attack started somewhat disastrously. Three of the five mounted men at arms units went forward against Chris' position; the other two went right against the second English division with the right-hand dismounted men at arms in support.

Les chevaux advance into the withering bow-fire
Unfortunate command die rolls kept the units going against Chris from contacting right away. They got plastered by bow-fire and two of the three were driven back.

The view from the English side
The French right prepares to go into the fray
Undaunted, the third unit smacked right into a well-supported longbow unit, where it got beaten to a pulp and broken.

while all the world wondered (sorry, wrong war)
Cry, "God for Harry, England, and St. George!"
At this point, some of the units from the left-hand French dismounted men at arms (who were commanded by Constable D'Albret) began lurching forward. They hadn't fared well in their early command rolls and were going in piece-meal.

The dismounted men at arms push forward
The two mounted men at arms that were pushed back by bow-fire earlier, returned to the fight and smacked into the English line, only to be repulsed.

Twice the punch as before, but the same fizzle
Over on my side of the world, my crossbowmen managed to inflict some pain on one of Steve's men at arms units. Two turns worth of flinging quarrels at him caused him to withdraw disordered into the cow-pen beyond. In turn, Steve's bowmen obliterated my crossbows.

Trying to just move forward and menace them, I sent a unit of men at arms forward and wound up blundering to glory. I rolled box-cars on my command dice and the blunder roll forced me forward three moves, just enough to smack into Steve's bowmen.

Furia Francese in a very small space
The ensuing melee was hard-fought, but I forced him back and kept pushing. The end result was my unit becoming shaken, with one of his bowmen shaken and another bloodied. I stayed in place, not sure of whether I really wanted to.

After the dust cleared from the second French mounted attack, John sent in his dismounted men at arms and contacted along most of Chris' line.

Foot sloggers forward!
On English left, the Gascon division finally made its presence felt. Steve moved the mounted men at arms against one of my dismounted men at arms units. I managed to bring another unit into support and the Gascon charge fell flat.

Before the charge
Gascons stymied
I followed up and in my next turn, I charged Steve's men at arms. This was a tie that left us both shaken.

Back in John's part of the field, his attack met the massed closing bow-fire of Chris' with aplomb. In a spectacular bit of bad luck, Chris inflicted no casualties on John. In the ensuing fight, John wiped out the English cannon, and pushed back their supporting bowmen.

The Frenchies keep pushing
From here it was all downhill for Chris. In the next turn, John broke four of the bowmen units and the dismounted men at arms. King Harry was wounded and sought shelter with the only remaining bow unit on Chris' side. The Constable of France was also wounded in the fray, but the prospects for his survival looked better than Harry's.

Back on my side of the world, Ken tried for several turns to get his cavalry stuck into Steve's bowmen. One of the unit's broke after a desultory bow-shot caused a break test in which Ken rolled snake-eyes. However, the remaining unit came to blows and drove the bowmen back. My shaken men at arms just happened to play a part by remaining where they stopped a few turns back, but were in just the right place to support Ken's victorious attack.

The Irish make trouble
The Gascon's were a spent force, though my men at arms were as well. Steve now brought up his Irish skirmishers to harass me. He got only a single ineffective shot before we called the game. The English had taken a beating, most of their loss coming from the collapse of Chris' flank. The French were pretty hurt as well, but the fourth division of militia was fresh and uncommitted. They were no great force, but had three units of crossbowmen and three units of men at arms.

It was great playing Hail Caesar again. I played it a few months ago commanding some Gallic/barbarian hordes against well-disciplined and better-armed Romans. That didn't end well for the semi-naked savages.

The game has me re-thinking (or is it re-re-re-thinking) about what to do with my Early Bronze Age/Biblicals from Cutting Edge (Warlord Games). I would need to get a lot more figures to get even moderate opposing forces, but I'm heading that way. Four-stand units, which is what Chris uses for his 100 Years War armies, would be the way to go. "Heavy" infantry would be four figures on a 40mm x 40mm base, light infantry would be three figures, skirmishers would be two. Chariots would be one model on a 40mm x 60mm deep base (for two-horse or two-equid chariots/war-carts) and, I think twice the width for the four-equid battle carts.

At this point, I should just start painting the figures...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Prodigious, Purple, Pricey: DBA 3.0

Well, I just had to do it. Even though I sold my DBA armies a few years back with the thought that I would never play DBA again (which may still be true), I couldn't resist the allure of the new DBA 3.0 rules.

I balked at the idea of purchasing them after I looked online for them from the sole US reseller and discovered the price was $47.00(!). The slick, glorious, glossy rules from Warlord Games are cheaper than that. My balking at the price of things doesn't tend to last long, however. I have every edition of DBA from 1.0 on, so I thought I should get it just in case.

I heard that The Game Matrix in Tacoma, WA had them in stock and I set out to get a copy this Saturday. After morning mass in Bothell, I made a stop at Eltana Bagels in Seattle for a breakfast nosh, then down to Tacoma. Traffic was good and I got to the Game Matrix much quicker than I thought, arriving just a bit after opening hours. I didn't see any of the South Sound stalwarts around—in fact, almost no one was there. (I might have intuited that right off by the fact that I could park within 100 yards of the door.)

I trotted back to the section where historical rules can be found, wondering if they'd have any left. I might have called first, but needn't have bothered anyhow. There were two stacks of them dominating the rules shelf. They're big. It looks like A4 format (210mm x 297mm), though I haven't measured. They're also hardcover. Both size and binding are big departures from past editions of DBA.

Oh, they're also very purple (which is, appropriately, the liturgical color for Lent, but I don't think the Barker's had that in mind.)

And, they're $47.00, which is three times what DBA 2.2 cost.

I had a browse through them when I got home to stately Chez Dave in bucolic Lynnwood, WA. Unlike most of the people on the Fanaticus forum, I don't have DBA memorized, so I can't spot offhand how much they've changed. However, from the look of it, 3.0 is not a major revision. What they have done is:

  • Add diagrams for some of the more opaque rules situations (as an alternative to just writing the rules in Standard Modern English?).
  • Expand the army descriptions, so you don't have to go to Wikipedia to look up what Blemmyes are (in which case you might think they were an army of headless people).
  • Change the army compositions, which must cause a few groans from people who have 100 DBA armies that they need to change in order to be valid.
  • Tweak a the rules regarding rear and side support.
  • Changed some of the combat outcomes.
  • Change the measuring system to be multiples of the base width.
  • Revise the terrain setup rules.
  • Change the army deployment rules.

That's all that I can see from what I've browsed. There may be a bit more that I don't notice yet; I'm a bit obtuse sometimes, so I expect I've missed a lot.

These aren't the Blemmyes you're looking for.
I have, I think, some 15mm DBA armies in a box in the garage. Unpainted, of course. I'm not likely to paint them any time soon. I have, however, a bunch of the 28mm Cutting Edge Bronze Age minis from Warlord Games. I bought these last year because I couldn't resist. As a recovering ANE student, I'm pretty jazzed about having accurate figures available for the period. From Akkadians to Amorites, they've got it all. But I've been wondering what to do with them.

Maybe a 28mm DBA project...

My last 15mm DBA project was painting the armies and enemies of  Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom Egypt. I could do a similar project for the Age of Hammurabi (ca. 18th c. BC). The figures aren't bulky, so I could easily fit them on the official base sizes (60mm wide) for larger scales.

Mounted on the standard bases, I might also be able to repurpose anything for DBA to be used with the old Al Margolis Legion rules published by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1976.

Postscript: Eltana Bagels

Eltana is a new favorite spot for me. It's on the edge of Seattle's Wallingford district and not far from where I used to work when I was at Adobe and later Sakson & Taylor. It's also just up the street from the Pacific Inn Pub. The best dive bar in Seattle with the best fish & chips in the world.

Eltana makes their bagels Montreal style in a wood fire stove. They're chewy and slightly sweet. The only comparable bagels are Siegel's Bagels from Vancouver, BC, but that's too far to drive.

When I was in between jobs last summer, I went down to get a bagel on several mornings. A toasted bagel with schmeer and lox is the best way to start a day. I wish they'd open a shop up north by me.