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".