Friday, 25 December 2015

Lion Rampant Hexified: Pictures

In a previous blogpost I explained our rationale to convert Lion Rampant into a hex-based ruleset. Below are some images from that game.

I set up a scenario based on scenario #3 from Charles Grant's scenario book Scenarios for All Ages. The scenario features a regular force - armed with ranged weapons - trying to cross the battlefield vs an irregular force consisting of mostly melee types.

The regulars are medieval types - knights, archers, knights. The irregular force are barbarians. Figures are mostly old Citadel or Grenadier figures.

The battlefield is kept rather empty. We did this on purpose to allow lots of manoeuvring and not to be hindered by all sorts of little obstacles. The main features are 2 hills and 2 forests, which counted as rough ground.
Scenario 3 from Scenarios for All Ages
Overview of the battle.
We allow units to overflow their hex. Singe units maintain a full hex distance between them, this is not a problem.
Medieval Knights. All old Citadel figures.
Archers in action.
The barbarian horde approaching.
Another overview of the table.

To conclude, here are some more pictures of the wargaming room :-)

Merry Christmas

For some reason, I always associate Christmas with little tin soldiers. Blame Hans Christian Andersen with his fairy tale about the Tin Soldier, and Tchaikovsky with the Nutcracker Suite.

Anyway, it's therefore not a coincidence we have some military-types hanging in our Christmas tree. I reported on our little Napoleon before, but are two more nutcracker figures.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Lion Rampant Hexified

Update 25/12/2015: Pictures in this blogpost.

As I have stated various times on this blog before, I am a fan of using hexes for miniature wargaming. Some might say this is not proper wargaming, since you do not use a ruler, but let's not start that discussion here.

When I read a new ruleset, I often wonder whether it can be hexified without losing the flavour and finesse of the original ruleset. The latest ruleset which caught my attention is Lion Rampant, and hence, this post is about how we use hexes in our Lion Rampant games.

The easy and somewhat naïve way of hexifying a ruleset is dividing all distances by 3 or 4. The assumption is that a hex equals 3 or 4 inches, and so, by transforming all measurements in inches to measurements in hex-units, the job is done. However, this is rather simplistic, since distances in wargame rules might mean different things in different situations. E.g. a movement distance usually signifies the total distance moved by figures, while a shooting or charging distance typically indicates the distance between units. The difference is the physical footprint of the unit, as illustrated in the diagram below:
If the footprint of a unit is relatively small compared to the distances involved, this doesn't matter too much. However, when a unit does occupy a significant area in relation to movement and shooting distances, this discrepancy needs to be taken into account.

The reason is that distances are counted slightly differently on a gridded surface. Typically, a unit occupies a single grid-cell (in our case, a grid cell is a hex, but the same applies to square grid cells). Movement distances expressed as a number of hexes are typically counted as the total number of hexes travelled, including the hex the unit occupies in the end. But shooting distances are counted on a grid in the same manner as well. We do not count the distance between the units (as we would do in a continuous system), but we do include the hex the target unit occupies. This subtle difference should be accounted for when hexifying a ruleset - at least when you want to maintain relative ratios between movement and shooting distances.
 When going into close combat, the situation depends whether we resolve melee when units occupy the same hex (count charge distance, including the hex the target unit occupies), or whether units fight when in adjacent hexes (count hexes between units).

Now, does all this matter?

I think it does. Movement distances in a set of wargaming rules are always in relation to shooting distances. I usually make the following exercise: if an attacking unit wants to charge a defending unit equipped with ranged weapons, and if the chargers start just outside the firing range, how many turns would it take for them to reach the target? Or in other words, how many times can the defenders fire before they are engaged in melee?

The most simple example in Lion Rampant is a foot unit that moves 6". Suppose it wants to charge a unit armed with javelins (range 6"), and melee happens is when both units make contact. If you measure correctly, the defending unit should always be able to get a shot before contact is made. It is therefore not possible for the attackers to start outside range, and charge without getting javelins thrown at them. The same applies to larger distances. In Lion Rampant, archers shoot 18". So, a charging unit that moves 6" each turn, will be shot at 3 times before contact is made.

When converting measurements to hexes, the same ratio should apply. Suppose we simply divide all distances by 3, to get our ranges in hexes. A unit moving 6" would be able to move 2 hexes, and the range of a javelin unit would also be 2 hexes. Can the javelins be thrown before contact is made? Two cases are now possible:
  1. Melee is fought when two units are occupying the same hex.
    In this case, both movement and javelin range can be kept at 2 hexes. The defenders can throw their javelins one time before contact is made.
  2. Melee is fought when units occupy adjacent hexes.
    Now, the distances do not add up. If the attackers start 3 hexes away, the defenders cannot hit them. The attackers only need to move two hexes to be adjacent, and thus, melee is possible before the defenders had a chance to fire. The solution is to increase firing ranges by 1 hex. Thus, the firing range for javelins should be 3 hexes - not 2.
The question now is, whether we want to go for option 1 or 2? I use Kallistra hexes, which measure 10 cm across (4"). Lion Rampant has 12 figure units, which fit into one hex. However, trying to cram two units in the same hex is somewhat impossible, so I decided to go for option 2: melee is fought in adjacent hexes. This means firing distance should be increased by 1 hex when converting inches to hex-units.

12 25mm figures, or 6 25mm cavalry do not neatly in a hex, especially not when you want to maintain the feel of a spread-out formation.  Another rule stipulation in Lion Rampant comes to our rescue. There should always be a distance of 3" between units, except for close combat.
This means we let units occupy a single hex and declare the adjacent hexes as a no-go zone for other units (3" distance between units). Thus, figures can spill over the hex boundaries, as long as it is clear what hex they are occupying. There will never be an adjacent unit, unless in melee. This corresponds nicely with our decision to resolve melee between adjacent units.

The only thing we still haven't talked about is the footprint of a unit. Lion Rampant says figures should be within 3"of a central figure. This means a unit can occupy a circle 6"in diameter at most. When translating this to 10cm (4") hexes, this would imply units can occupy multiple hexes. However, I decided against implementing this. Multi-hex units are just too cumbersome. So, a single unit occupies a single hex (4"diameter), and the distance between units is also a single hex (3"in the rules). The combination of both is a nice compromise.

All this suggests we should divide distances by 3 or 4. Movement distances in Lion Rampant are 6, 8, 10 and 12". Dividing by 3 would give us 2, 3 (lumping 8"and 10" together), and 4 hexes. I think these are good distances for a typical table. The alternative would either be reducing infantry to a movement of 1 hex (not enough flexibility), or increasing distances to e.g. 3, 4, 5 and 6 hexes, which is also possible. In the end, it depends on the size your table ...

Summary, Lion Rampant hexified:
  1. A single unit occupies a single hex.
  2. Movement 6", 8", 10", 12" => 2, 3, 3, 4 hexes.
  3. Firing ranges 6", 12", 18" => 3, 5, 7 hexes (note the +1 in hex distance!). Shooting at 6 or 7 hexes is at -1.
  4. Units must maintain 1 hex between at all times, except for melee (and some rare situations during retreats).
  5. Melee happens when units are adjacent.
  6. Leaders give +1 to courage when within 4 hexes of unit.
 Yesterday we had our first playtest. Pictures can be seen in this blogpost.

Monday, 21 December 2015

The index!

I am slowly making progress on completing an index for all magazines in my collection. Today, I entered another couple of issues of Wargames Illustrated )now up to issue 200), and the new issue of Miniature Wargames with Battlegames.

We are getting there!

Now I have to prepare my hexified Lion Rampant game for tomorrow evening ...

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Simple scifi buildings (4)

For a number reasons my painting and wargaming has slowed down significantly the past couple of weeks. As usual, blame real life,

Anyway, today I found some time to continue working on my simple scifi building I reported on before. I added some details in the paintjob. Nothing spectacular, but more effective to make the buildings come to life. Since these are meant for one or perhaps two appearances on the table, a few more numbers, letters and so on will be painted on, and that will be it.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Napoleonic Christmas ornament

Yesterday the family Christmas tree was set up. Each year, we buy one special ornament which is then labeled accordingly by year in which it was bought. So we have ornaments that go quite a few years back, and it is a bit of fun every December to rediscover the stuff we bought the previous years. "Hey, look here, you remember the nutcracker we bought in <turn over the thing and read the year written at the bottom because I don't remember all these years> ... 2008?"

Most years, we buy something on one of our travels. The 2014 acquisition was a Christmas ball from Canada, with the motif of the maple leaf worked in.

Anyway, this year the plan was to buy a new piece closer to home, and we ended up in the Christel Dauwe Christmas shop in Antwerp. After some browsing - and this kind of shops always makes me very wary of not breaking anything - I found the piece that I wanted to have. The 200th anniversary of Waterloo just called for this little Napoleon. Luckily, not much familial diplomacy was needed and Napoleon now hangs in our Christmas tree in the Liezele wargaming mansion. It's rather easy to remember the year, but nevertheless, it was marked "2015" at the bottom ...

 If you want your own, go to the shop's website mentioned above, and look under "This is Belgium" or "CDC Exclusive".

Sunday, 22 November 2015

MWBG 392 added to the database

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames, issue 392, has been added to my growing index of miniature wargaming magazines.

The current status of indexed magazines:
  • Battlegames 1-34 (complete, all issues indexed)
  • Miniature Wargames with Battlegames 361-392 (complete, all issues indexed)
  • Wargames Illustrated 1-163

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Then and now - 17 years of painting

I'm currently painting a bunch of 20mm British Paras and thought it fun to contrast my current painting style with my style from 17 years ago. I found two of the same figure pose, one of which I painted yesterday, the other in 1998. Here's them side by side:

The figure on the left is the recently painted one. You can see there has been quite an evolution in my painting style.

The most obvious difference is in the colours of course. Back then I used a combination of Tamiya and Games Workshop paints, nowadays I use Foundry triads (well, diads, as I only use two layers per colour).

Other differences are more subtle, but one other obvious one you can see is that the recent figure is painted in a much bolder style with stark colour contrasts and sharp delineations of colour areas, whereas the one on the right is (except for the face) much more 'natural'.

One other difference which is not obvious from the photo is that the figure on the left took only a quarter of the time to paint than that on the right. And that is of course the reason behind this evolution of painting style: get many painted figures on the table, designed to look good on the table but not necessarily in close up.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Simple scifi buildings (3)

A quick followup to my previous post.

The cardboard contraptions that will serve as scifi buildings are now spraypainted brown. I also added some grey and yellow spraypainted spots, such that they now look a little bit more weathered. The colours are not terribly realistic for let's say a concrete building, but for scifi, that adds to the "weird" visuals.

Next is to paint in the details, add some markers etc.

Simple scifi buildings (2)

I wrote before that I started constructing some simple scifi buildings, probably for use in our Antares campaign.

Due to the Crisis 2015 preparations, I couldn't work on them any further, but yesterday I had a dozen minutes to kill so I "pimped" them with some simple plastic parts I had lying around in my bit's box (actually, some of them are parts from disassembled computer mice, a clock radio, etc.)

Next phase is to spraypaint them, after which I might add some more painted-on details such as markings etc. I tend not to put too much effort in projects like these, because most likely they will be one-use only.

The nice thing of compiling a complete magazine index of my wargamining magazine collection is that I can quickly locate a similar modeling project that was published in issue #30 of Battlegames magazine. Although the project in that article made some colonial-looking buildings, it was still useful to take a quick look and see how Diane Sutherland had done it.

Modeling project in issue #30 in Battlegames magazine

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

And another video overview of CRISIS 2015

And here's yet another one, provided by Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy:

Video of Crisis 2015

A very nice video overview of Crisis 2015 was posted on Youtube by HansVGinkel.
It gives an excellent overview of the show, and as always, I now get to see all the games I didn't see during the show itself.

Our game - Marche ou Crève - has a few seconds at 6:52.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Marche ou crève

Our Crisis 2015 game featured the famous Fench Foreign Legion against the Arab tribes in the North African desert, using our flat Woodens figures.

I will make a full post later on about our game and its mechanics, but here are some of the raw photographs, taken with my smartphone (so quality is not that high).

Two new recruits

Since Ann and I do not have children ourselves, we regularly have nephews over for a couple of days. Since they know that I have all these cool toys in my wargaming room, they invariably ask for a battle to be set up and play a game.

My approach to this is always very relaxed:
- Let them choose what armies they want to play. Anything goes. If they want to fight Romans vs World War 2 Germans, that would be fine with me. But as can be expected, they always flock to fantasy.
- They can set up the battlefield anyway they want: trees, rivers, hills, scenery items ... whatever they like from my collection. The only thing I tell them they should keep it fair because they will have to roll for table sides.
- I let them set up any type of figures they want, but tell them things like "10 groups of 5 guys each, 1 monster, 1 general, take some archers as well ...". But they can choose any miniatures they want to play with.
- I usually have some quick rules up my sleeve, such as units activate on a 7+, movement is 2 or 3 hexes depending on troop type, you score hits on 5,6; armour saves on 5,6. Something like that. Quick and dirty. Nothing more complicated, because I want the game to be fun and fast.
- During the game, I usually throw in some random monsters, wizards, spell effects, etc. Special abilities and such are easily added.

So, Nov 2 and 3, I had my brother's kids over, and they choose Orcs and Skaven as their armies. A tough battle was fought!

Explaining some of the rules.
Contemplating strategy.
A skaven wizard is hiding in the ruins.
Orcs are ready for battle.
Moves and countermoves
Excited dice-rolling across the battlefield.
Going in for the kill!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Halfway through Wargames Illustrated

My efforts for indexing my magazine collection are progressing steadily. By now, I have entered the first 130 issues of WI, halfway through my collection (runs till issue 259).

Battlegames and Miniature Wargames w Battlegames have been completed some time ago.

Once WI is done, I will try to tackle the older issues of Miniature Wargames. Henry Hyde has been so kind to send me a number of files from the MW archives, so I have all the data, it's just a matter of converting them.

The link:

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Simple scifi buildings

By sheer coincidence I bought some items last week (computer equipment ...) that came in boxes containing those pre-shaped cardboard forms to hold everything into place.

For some reason I saw this as a good opportunity to make some additional science fiction buildings for the next installment of our Antares campaign.

I trimmed the rough edges a bit, and added two spires from an egg carton, as well as some polystyrene half-domes I still had lying around (and that once served as chaos vortices in my Warhammer 3rd edition games over 20 years ago). I think they look convincing so far :-)

Next I should add some details (raid the box full of plastic bits), then spray paint the things and add more painting details such as numbers, decals, some weathering ...

I tend not to spend too much time on such projects, since the likelihood is they will be used once or maybe twice, and then end up as giveaways at the next con for whatever player thinks he can use them for his own games.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Making Mountains (4)

I managed to finish the mountains today for our Crisis 2015 game featuring Woodens figures.

As explained in my previous posts, the mountains are in the style of the Major Tremorden Rederring mountains: plywood, crumbled brown packing paper, steps to place figures on (a wooden corner profile strip). Green flock was added to break the monotony of the brown color. Some lichen are added to break the ground line.