Saturday, 30 January 2016

1st playtest of Dragon Rampant

Yesterday we played a first game of Dragon Rampant. Since the gaming engine is almost identical to Lion Rampant, we also used our modded version of the rules, playing on a hexgrid.

We used a scenario from the book, in which one side has to transport a magical artefact to the other side of the gaming table. We used roughly 50 points for each side, so almost double of the what is recommended in Dragon Rampant, in which the standard is set at 24 points. Since the gaming engine is activation-based, taking a unit as the atomic element, this didn't cause too much troubles.

The two forces were Skaven and Undead from my extensive Oldhammer collection.

A few things I might consider changing for future games:
  1. In our hexified rules, it is stipulated that a full hex should be maintaind between units. This is the equivalent of the 3" proximity rules between units in the original Rampant rules. For the medieval games, this worked quite well, since 6 or 12 25mm models overflow the hex significantly, and hence, providing a buffer zone between units (a single hex), helped the game.
    However, since Dragon Rampant works with Strength Points per unit (and which are not necessarily equal to the number of figures), this problem is less pronounced. Hence, units can be made to fit a hex rather nicely, and there is no need to keep a visual buffer between units. So perhaps the 1 hex distance between units can be lifted, and a tighter density of units on the table is possible. This in turn would make it easier to play bigger battles.
  2. Talking about bigger battles, as a player you naturally want more coherent behavious between units. I.e. you want units to move together rather than all individually. So I think we need to introduce some type of group order. E.g. all adjacent units can be given the same order (move, attack, ...), but using the least favourable activation role of any unit in the goup. A further penalty might be introduced (a -1 or even -2?) to balance the fact that it otherwise would be too easy to move a large number of units in a single turn.
Preliminary picture:

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Chain of Command prep I: catalogue the collection

I've been threatening to organise a Chain of Command game for a while now and am finally getting around to doing something about it.

The game will be set during Operation Market Garden, north of the Rhine, with 1st Airborne defending the Oosterbeek perimeter from encroaching Germans. First step in the game preparation is taking stock of my collection and seeing whether I can build a viable Chain of Command force out of them.

I just did that with my British paras. I sorted them out according to types to see where I had a surplus or a deficit. This is the result:

Basic infantry

Of these, I need two types - your bog standard riflemen and Sten (or 'liberated' German SMG) armed soldiers:

The Sten types

The riflemen (some Stens to be transplanted from the multiple bases in front)

So it seems I have about twice as many riflemen as Sten types, which is a ratio that is skewed too much towards the Stens. So it seems I will need to paint some more rifle types. Luckily these figures (20mm Britannia and FAA) paint up rather quickly.


For support I'm covered pretty well, having several Bren, Vickers MMG and PIAT teams as well as some 3" and 2" mortar teams and a FOO unit. Here's the faces to go with the names:

Front to back: Bren, Vickers, PIAT, mortars. FOO is hiding among the Vickers teams.

Leader types

Of these I also have more than enough. Various figures which can serve as both junior and senior leaders:

Leader types, with some transport in the background

In addition I have quite a few jeeps, a supply point and other bits'n'bobs which can serve as jump off points for this force.

So - on to painting some more riflemen!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Facing and Orientation ...

After out latest Antares 2401 game, we had a brief discussion on facing and orientation of individual figures on the Kallistra-hexes. The hexgrid is an integral part of our game, since we use it to link action points per figure to movement (1 action point per hex), and use the hexes as a distance metric to resolve fire (roll D8 >= distance in hexes).

When writing the initial draft of the rules, orientation and placement of individual figures did matter as well:
  • A hex can contain at most 3 figures (this rule prevents cluttering up figures in a single hex);
  • At most two figures can be oriented towards each hexside.
  • Firing arc is 60 degrees, and central direction is determined by the hexside an individual figure is facing.
Orientation and placement of figures is detrmined by hexsides.
For most scenarios we played so far in the campaign, these rules seemed to function quite well. However, during the last game, it suddenly dawned on me I was probably overcomplicating things.
  1. The rule that figures needs to be oriented towards hexsides leads to the placement of figures next to the hexside in question (look at some of the photographs of our previous Antares games). Since only the hex in which a figure is present is important, and not the placement within the hex itself, figures are placed w.r.t. clarity for their orientation. This does not help visual appeal, and since visual appeal is important in miniature wargaming, it needs to be addressed.
  2. Terrain features do no always match the hexgrid. I try to force them when laying out the table. The underlying assumption is that a single hex (e.g. woods) or a single hexside (e.g. walls) is a single terrain type, and die modifiers due to terrain are unambiguously clear. However, sometimes players want to position a figure at a finer resolution than a single hex, especially when the terrain suggests this (e.g. a wall or the corner of a building inside a hex). Thus, if we relax the restriction, placement of figures becomes more organic.
  3. Line of sights is suggested by connecting hex-centre to hex-centre, rather than figure-to-figure. But this also feels unnatural at times. Figure-to-figure LOS feels more natural, but this in turn then suggests free placement of a figure inside the hex.
  4. The main reason orientation of figures is important is because of firing arc, and for flank melee attacks. The first is easy to solve, since a figure usually only shoots at one or two targets. We can stipulate that if shooting at multiple targets, they have to fit within a firing arc, but the actual direction of the firing arc is free to choose.
 So, I arrived at the following conclusions, which probably still need some more tinkering:
  • Figures can be positioned within a hex anywhere to match the terrain inside a hex.
  • Any repositioning within the hex costs 1 action point.
  • LOS is traced from figure to figure.
  • Orientation of a single figure is not important. When engaging multiple targets using fire, the targets cannot deviate more direction-wise than a single fire arc.
  • Since orientation of single figures is not important, any effects due to flank attacks etc. are eliminated.
In essence, we use the hexgrid for counting movement and counting firing ranges, but use the actual terrain and inner-hex details for cover, LOS, etc. By over-using the hexgrid in the rules, the hexgrid spilt over in the placement of individual figures, which was not a good thing and felt not good in a skirmish ruleset.

This all might seem trivial, and in some sense it is because I am already using similar principles in other games (check out other posts relating to hexes), but sometimes it takes some time to purify a set of rules before you reach a more elegant coherent whole.

Wargames Illustrated ... period popularity

With the completion of a complete index for Wargames Illustrated issues 1-259, I thought it would be interesting to make a histogram of all the articles divided over all the different periods. Of course, I might have mislabeled some, and sometimes I subdivided (or did not!) a period into several subgenres for no good reason except my own illogical judgement. Nevertheless, the results do look interesting. It reflects interests in (historical) wargaming from 1987 to 2009.

The data below are the raw numbers. Please interpret as you see fit.
  • Articles which have a "blank" as period (usually modelling), have not been counted.
  • Some periods have a general category as well as several subdivisions (e.g. WW2, Napoleonics). The numbers are exclusive. I.e. articles counted under "WW2/Eastfront" are not duplicated in the general "WW2" category. Every article is only counted once.
  • A multi-part article in subsequent issues only has one entry in the database, hence it is only counted once here.

Row Labels Count of Numb
Medieval 106
WW2 104
Ancients 102
Generic 91
ACW 83
Napoleonic 69
Modern 68
WW1 53
18th 51
WW2/Eastfront 50
19th/America 46
17th 45
16th 44
19th 41
Colonial 38
ECW 34
Fantasy 33
20th 28
Pulp 28
AWI 27
WildWest 24
Vietnam 23
Colonial/DarkestAfrica 23
Scifi 22
WW2/Naval 21
Colonial/ZuluWar 20
WW2/D-Day 20
WW2/Pacific 19
7YW 18
FPW 18
WW2/Africa 17
Napoleonic/Peninsular 17
WarRoses 16
Napoleonic/Waterloo 15
CrimeanWar 15
WW1/Naval 12
WW2/Air 12
Renaissance 11
Pirates 11
BoerWar 9
Colonial/Sudan 9
15th 9
Medieval/Asia 9
Ancients/Naval 8
20th/Naval 8
War1812 7
WW2/MarketGarden 7
19th/Naval 7
Colonial/IndianMutiny 6
19th/China 5
Napoleonic/Egypt 4
Ancients/Gladiators 4
WW1/Air 4

Grand Total 1597

Monday, 18 January 2016

Wargames Illustrated "old style" complete

Yesterday I finished my index for Wargames Illustrated, issues 1-259 (up to the takeover by Battlefront in 2009). These are the issues physically in my collection.

You can find the complete index, along with indices for Battlegames and Miniature Wargames with Battlegames here:

I might still add some loose issues from other magazines to the database, but most of the work has been done. Of course, the description of specific articles can always be made better, so there will always be some further refinements.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Sometimes ...

Sometimes strange things happen around the wargaming table. As in dice ending up in a glass of beer.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Antares Mission 9: Pictures

Yesterday we played the 9th mission in our ongoing narrative scifi campaign, Antares 2401.

Here are some preliminary pictures ...

Most of the figures are old Citadel (Space Marines and some space pirates), others are more recent from Mantic games (Warpath).
The bigger buildings are scratch-built (see blogpost here and here).