Monday, November 26, 2018

I, Regicide (10x removed)

As I was climbing the family tree this weekend, I learned that my 10th great-grandfather was Lord John Lisle, one of Cromwell's cronies who signed the death warrant of Charles I. He was prominent in the Protectorate and administered Cromwell's oath of office when he became Lord Protector in 1653.

After the Restoration, he fled to Switzerland along with other regicides. He considered himself somewhat safe from Charles II's vengeance until August 11, 1664, when he was gunned down by a blunderbuss-wielding assassin in a Lausanne churchyard.

He was the husband of Dame Alice Lisle, who is famous for being the last woman beheaded under law in England. She was convicted of harboring refugees from Monmouth's rebellion in 1685. Judge Jeffreys condemned her to be burnt at the stake, specifically noting who her husband had been, but the sentence was commuted to beheading. Alice was John Lisle's second wife. I'm descended from his daughter Alice by his first wife Mary Hobart.

Arrest of Dame Alice Lisle
Alice married John Hoar and they settled in Concord, MA. During King Philip's War, John created a refuge for Indians who were caught in the middle, not siding with their fellow natives and not trusted by the English settlers. The refuge was short lived. Samuel Moseley, one of the prominent captains in the war and a confirmed Indian hater, removed the Indians from John Hoar's refuge and marched them into internment on Deer Island in Boston harbor.

John Hoar was also a go-between with the Indians. In 1676 he negotiated the ransom and release of Mary Rowlandson, who had been captured by a band of Indians (which included Narragansett, Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Nashaway) in the Attack on Lancaster, MA in February, 1675. Mary wrote a famous account of her captivity among the Indians.

John and Alice's daughter Mary married Benjamin Graves, my 8th great-grandfather, who served under Captain Thomas Wheeler during King Philip's War.

The Graveses have an interesting family tree, which is funny because the one Graves male ancestor for whom anyone has living memory is my 2nd great-grandfather George Graves. He died when my father was 10 years old. My father remembers him as a "crusty old duck" who sat in a rocking chair on the porch wrapped up in blankets and calling out orders to his daughter Minnie, my great-grandmother. My dad and his cousin Doug used to sneak up behind and make his chair rock violently. George would would yell and flail about with his cane trying to thwack them. My Grandmother recalled him as a "bluenose" who was a bit on the tyrannical side, not surprising given his solid Puritan heritage. Her family, the Van Buskirks (descended from New Amsterdam Dutch), never liked him.

Nevertheless, he had a fairly illustrious heritage. Other Graves ancestors were veterans of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. But I've found nothing in my ancestry so far that trumps having a regicide for an ancestor.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sanguinis et furor

We played Studio Tomahawk's Jugula on Saturday at the Panzer Depot. It's been a long time coming and was a welcome return to the game. The players were Mike Lombardy, Bill Stewart, Wes Rogers, and me. Mike and I are veteran players, but the others picked it up quickly after a walk through of the rules. Soon we were all going at full speed.

It was a four-player game, so we each took a corners and chose our ludus. All the figures we used were from Mike's collection. Everyone started with a murmillo because Mike has a plethora of them. After that we went in rounds picking the rest. In addition to the murmillo, I picked a dimachaerius, a retiarius, and a crupellarius. The crupellarius is irresistible for me. He's like the Tiger tank of the arena, sort of. He's very slow and kind of awkward, especially against light gladiator types, but he's encased in iron and hits hard. He's also intimidating. Even if he isn't thumping someone, he can extert a slow, steady pressure while your other gladiators are running about slashing at things.

My crupellarius against Bill's sagittarius (I never got him)
From the get-go, Wes went full-court press against me in my corner. He dispatched my murmillo in just a few turns. However, I came back. My crupellarius crunched his secutor. and my other two started pushing back hard.

I also had to content with two of Mike's gladiators, whom he'd sent my direction. Bill saved me a bit from that because Mike needed to pull back and face Bill's advance on him.

That left me free to focus on Wes. After a few rounds, I managed to kill off another two of his. By the multiplayer rules, when you're down to one survivor (or all are wounded), you withdraw from the arena. Ave atque vale.

Mike and Bill squaring off
Wes' withdrawal gave me a breather while Mike and Bill started bashing away at each other. I used the opportunity to pump up my Vox Populi numbers and improve my card deck. Then I moved up and started to nibble at the flank of their melee.

After a while, they'd bashed and wounded each other enough, while I still had my remaining three unwounded gladiators. At that point they realized that fighting me was the wiser option if either wanted to survive.

Bill's scissors trying to cut up Mike's diamachaerius (didn't happen)
It was pretty hairy and we all managed to pull out of scrapes that seemed like sure doom. In the end, Mike killed off Bill's penultimate gladiator (his scissors) forcing him out, but lost one to me. This left the me in the arena still with three unwounded gladiators and Mike with one unwounded and one wounded gladiator. That's when we called it.

The last survivors
Jugula is a great game. Mike has talked up the career system that works like a kind of campaign where gladiators improve over time and you play the role of lanista working to make your ludus preeminent. It's a great system and would be a rewarding use of one weekend a month.

Ludus building

Ludus Dave is in the works. I've completed four of the big 35mm "official" gladiator minis that are made by Gripping Beast. I have another four in the works and another eight unstarted. I bought those minis separate from the Jugula rules in order to use them for some other rules. They're very nice minis, but I doubt the range will increase much. Gripping Beast has released three "familia" sets of four minis each (the last of which includes my beloved crupellarius!). I'm not confident they'll release more. The minis released so far can be customized to some extent. The sets come with extra heads, weapons, shield, and other accessories so that no two minis need be the same. You can even create multiple armaturae from the same basic mini. I converted the murmillo of familia one into a secutor, though in familia three, GB released a figure designated as a secutor. Maybe I'll convert him to a murmillo...

After playing Jugula for the first time, I bought some of the Crusader Miniatures gladiators. They make an fairly extensive 28mm range and the figures are very well done. I bought three packs of four initially, which have been sitting half done in my growing pile of partially completed minis. On Saturday, I added another three packs and plan to add another still—I declined to buy a pack I thought I already had.  I also have a dozen female gladiators that I got from Eureka minis a few years ago.

Cal me crazy, but I'll soon have enough to host a four-player game in two scales. In 28mm, I can likely put on two four-player games (a thought for Enfilade!) if I get a second game mat and another four decks of cards.

Saga recuitment

Mike and I hoodwinked Bill into jumping on the Saga bandwagon, thus adding another Studio Tomahawk game into our repertoire. Bill has Crusaders and Late Romans painted, but still not based. He can easily jump into two Saga warbands with them.

Bill was a bit reluctant based on some other feedback he'd heard about 1st edition Saga (played with generic activations, not with the battle boards). So, now encumbered with the rules, Age of Crusades army book, and a nifty set of Crusader Saga dice, he's ready to roll.

I'm chugging away at my Welsh warband with full expectation that I'll have it for the mini-tournament in December. Otherwise, I'll run my Spanish with whom I'm 2 for 2 in the first two games I've played. Having played the Spanish a few times now, I'm not crazy about their Saga abilities. My style of play is to thrust rather than parry, and the Spanish are a parrying kind of warband in Saga with just a touch of riposte.