Saturday, February 8, 2020

Rampanting in the new year

I've gotten a fairly good head start on my gaming this year; all of it has been some flavor of Daniel Mersey's "Rampant" rules.

Ó Súillebháin's Lament (The Pikeman's Lament) - Jan 2

I posted previously about the Pikeman's Lament game Chris Craft and I played. I think it's the first time I ever played these rules as a 1:1 game. Every other time I've played TPL, it's been a multiplayer game with 4 to 6 players. I enjoy the fellowship of a multiplayer game, but they're hard to organize sometimes. It's much easier to set up a 1:1 game with someone, especially if you have enough figures for both sides and then some. My collection of Anglo-Irish Tyrone's Rebellion figures is large and growing. I've run 6-players games with them several times in the past. For Enfilade! this year, I plan to run a 6-player game again, which will be a refinement of the Cnoc uí Chinnéide game that I ran last year.

The Boys of Sumer (Chariots Rampant) - Jan 4

I finally got a chance to play with the Chariots Rampant army I have been working on for maybe two years. I got inspired by a Facebook post from Ernie Calvillo (an old friend from my younger days in California) and ordered a pile of 28mm Sumerians from Newline Designs. I painted a lot of them and then stopped. The project sat unloved for a long time, but the prospect of playing it at one of Pat Lowinger's PNW Rampant game days in Gig Harbor, WA inspired me to complete it.

They were successful in their first foray. I played Scott Abbott with his Mycenaeans. Terrain and firepower prevailed in my favor, although I was initially hard-pressed in both games by Scott's spearmen and light chariots. We have another Chariots Rampant day in March. I expect that Scott will have re-tooled his Mycenaeans to have a bit more firepower. This could be a challenge to Sumerian supremacy.

Jacobite interlude (Rebels and Patriots) - Jan 16

Chris Craft has been working on a game scenario for Rebels and Patriots using his re-based English and Jacobites for The '45. I managed to get in on a playtest of the game at one the the Thursday game nights at The Panzer Depot.

Chris painted the armies initially for Sharp Practice, but after a few games with those rules decided that R&P made for a better game, especially with multiple players. I salute his industry in rebasing his figures. He used a variation on the 3-2-1 scheme that I use for most of my Rampant armies. To get the feel of formed troops in line, he used a 4-4-1-1-1-1 scheme: two large round bases (50mm?) with four figures mounted 2 x 2, and then four 25mm round bases with single figures for removal. I kinda wish I'd seen it before I based all my R&P armies. But I won't rebase! It's insanity—or I'm just lazy. In any case:

The game went well ultimately for the government forces (of which I was one of two players). The Jacobites were plagued with misfortunate dice. They failed too many critical moral and activation rolls. Otherwise, I think we may have been in the soup. My government forces comrade, Lewis Dorrington, pulled off a brilliant cavalry charge at the end of the game with his dragoons. My dragoons performed less stellarly, although they survived the game—much depleted—and somewhat redeemed themselves in a mostly successful countercharge after several turns of activation and morale failures.

Thunderbox Ridge (Rebels and Patriots) - Jan 23

At one of The Panzer Depot's Thursday game nights, Ralph Holloway and I squared off with AWI forces playing Rebels and Patriots. This, too, I blogged about previously.

It was a fun game and highlighted my need to paint more British line infantry units. Nearly all the AWI British I have were painted last year for our Retreat from Concord convention game. Thus, they consist almost entirely of grenadiers and light infantry, all in spit-and-polish 1775 uniforms. I have a large amount of unpainted or partially-painted figures for both British and American forces. I'll be getting at these with a vengeance as Kevin Smyth and I prepare for our Race for the Dan game we're putting on at Enfilade! 20202 in May.

I think this was the first AWI game with R&P that I played 1:1. As I said, I like the fellowship of multiplayer games, but there's also something very satisfying about building an army list and putting it to the test in a game scenario against someone matching their list to yours.

More AWI (Rebels and Patriots) - Jan 29

Taking advantage of another Thursday game night at The Panzer Depot, I managed to get in two AWI games using Rebels and Patriots.

Game 1 was 1:1 between my Americans and Chris Craft's British. This was a reprise of the scenario for Thunderbox Ridge, feature the same quaint backwoods necessary.

The game was a chance to use an American army list that I first envisioned for R&P. It's not a particularly good list, but I imagined that it reflected the reality of American forces, especially in the Southern Campaign in the Carolinas and Georgia. There were three militia units classified as Line Infantry, Green, Timid at 2pts each. There was a rifle unit of Skirmishers, Green, Good Shooters at 4pts. Another Skirmisher unit, straight up at 4pts. Lee's Legion foot, classified as Light Infantry at 6pts. Finally, a unit of Continentals, classified as Line Infantry, Large Unit, Good Shooters at 7pts.

I had many miserable rolls and just hung on to victory despite my three militia units routing off in a turn of cascading failure. Of course, Chris' unit of Indians (Natives, Large Unit, Aggressive) made a huge impact. The game ended with the Americans at +4 honor to the Britsih +3. It's not bad to get three 12-figure units for 6pts., but they're pretty fragile. I'm rethinking the wisdom of making up numbers with low-quality units...

In game 2, Ralph Holloway and I played Americans and Chris and Lewis Dorrington played British. I experienced the same sense of dread with my morally fragile militia. Chris took two units of Indians this time, but ran afoul of Ralph's Continental Light Horse (Light Cavalry, Aggressive). Impressive as they are against foot, the Indians fare not so well against cavalry.

I face Lewis who beat me up pretty badly (using my own figures against me) with almost negligible harm himself. Chris and Ralph beat each other up, but not enough. Chris lost one unit of Indians, I think, and Ralph lost no units. The big unit loser was me, which included not just my militia (again) but my Lee's Legion unit. Final score was +9 honor points to the British, +2 to the Americans.

PNW Rampant game day - Feb 1

February 1 was another game day down at the Gig Harbor library. The theme for the day was Lion Rampant Dark Ages using Daniel Mersey's own variant Landwasters & Ravenfeeders that was published in Wargames Illustrated issue 331 (a PDF of which you can access here).

Alas, I have no completed Dark Ages army, although my venerable Picts from our long-ago Pig Wars days are a nucleus for building a L&R force with. So instead of gaming the Dark Ages, I enticed Kevin Smyth into playing Dragon Rampant pitting his army, based on Kamarg forces from Michael Moorecock's Hawkmoon novels, against my veteran Centauresses.

We battered each other into near oblivion. I took a lot of damage in the early turns of the game due to masterminding myself into a shooting gallery, but I recovered and shifted forces that allowed me to get into contact. I had only two units left at the end of the game, Kevin had three. We had both lost our leaders.

Dragon Rampant can be credited with bringing me into the fantasy genre of wargaming. I've dabbled in sci-fi with Silent Death and Beyond the Gates of Antares, but never into fantasy before. I also have to commend the exquisite range of figures from Shadowforge. I bought them before Dragon Rampant appeared because I saw them in the Interwebs and had to have them. They would have sat—and for a long, long time did sit—partially finished. DR allowed me to bring them to the table.

Kevin and I followed up our Dragon Rampant game with some Rebels and Patriots using my figures, which I had never unpacked from my car after Thursday's game night, and using the same terrain we had for our DR game. The game quickly became an apparent American win. I had some good shooting in the early turns and it looked like Kevin, who commanded the British, had an increasingly narrow vector of success.

It all happened so fast, that I got only two pictures. The game was notable for me in that I had one unit of militia rout of the field without ever shooting or being shot at—or threatened with malice in any way. On turn 1 I rolled snake-eyes for my activation and on the subsequent roll to determine what further bad thing happens to me, I wound up being disordered. On turn 2 I rolled snake-eyes again for my rally attempt and become broken and retreated. On turn 3 I rolled snake-eyes for a third time in a row, which saw my unit rout off the table. Militia.

The apparent perils of Private Owen Hebhet, 23rd RWF

At one point in the Rebels and Patriots game with Kevin, it appeared that I was missing a figure, one of the single-mounted figures from my 18-figure strong 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The figure is hatless, so I named him Owen Hebhet, heb het being Welsh for "without a hat."

I poked around the box, the table, the floor around the table, but saw nothing. I figured it must have been misplaced on Thursday night when we used them for our second R&P game. However, a call to John Kennedy at the Panzer Depot provided no answer. He found nothing on or around the table. Chris and Ralph checked their boxes, I checked all my terrain boxes to see if he wasn't scooped up with the trees and bushes (lichen).

I went by The Panzer Depot myself on Monday at noon just to do my own due diligence before ordering figures to paint a replacement. Chris was there and mentioned that if I order the replacement, the lost figure is sure to turn up.

On Tuesday morning, I made an order to Perry for another pack of 6 RWF (I also ordered some British light dragoons since I was there). Later that day, I went out to run some errands and coming home felt compelled to check the box again. Sure enough, previously unnoticed and nestled among some helmeted light infantry of the 5th Foot, was my hatless Welshman.

On the plus side, I'll have a total of 24 RWF now; enough to make two units of 12 or one large unit of 18 plus skirmishers.

Final fury: ACW (Rebels and Patriots) - Feb 6

Scott Abbott and I had planned on a game of Rebels and Patriots using our ACW figures for the PNW game day on Jan 4. I hadn't had Jubal Tardee out of his box since late summer, I think. However a carrying mishap put Scott's forces on the DL and we had to postpone the game.

We finally got to it last week when Scott drove all the way up from Steilacoom, WA to Kirkland in bad weather and worse traffic.

I had six units to his four, although two of is units were veteran and the other two Light Infantry. We fought over a small bridge and it turned kinda bloody fast, mostly for me. I didn't outshoot him as I hoped. I also had some very poor rolls for activation and—again—morale. My penchant for rolling snake-eyes in 'Rampant' games is, I think, unparalleled in the annals of miniature gaming.

We kinda lost track of the turns, so either Scott won at +1 to +0 or I won at +2 to +1. In either case, I lost two units to Scott's none. However, my losses were less than 33%, so no points either way for taking/inflicting losses. It just came down to holding the objective longer and the +/- that might come from random events on activation rolls. I got -1 honor for that and Scott got +1 honor. He also got the magical 6-6-6 activation, which brought another 4pts. of troops on the table for him.

All in all, the last few weeks have been very satisfying. The only fly in the ointment has been my deplorable habit of rolling double 1s on my activation and morale dice. I use a pair of large antique bone dice that I picked up on Etsy. I really like them aesthetically, but they've been disaster for me. Rationally speaking, as instruments of fortune/misfortune, they're no different functionally than any other pair of dice—I'm not bragging, but I can roll miserably with anything: D6s, D10, D12s, you name it—still, it's disconcerting and I may need to think about finding a replacement set and retire these as curios.

I'm not sure if I can keep up the gaming pace I've set for the first weeks of this year. Drumbeat, our mid-winter game day in Lake City, WA is coming up on the 22nd and I have painting to do. That may be a better activity than gaming until then. Can't play 'em if I don't paint 'em.