lunedì 21 ottobre 2019

Gaming the Crusader - Pillaging the Village

Our playtesting for Lion Rampant: Gaming the Crusader goes on (see the previous post) Yesterday we were in Lazise (a beatiful village on the shores of Lake Garda) for Lazise Gioca, a rather new convention (3rd edition) of boardgaming and wargaming.

Again, I cannot tell you very much about the scenario, but it involves a village, its villagers and some raiders. The scenario is meant to be played by four players, which allowed us to let several people have a taste of the rules during the day.

We had a lot of fun, people trying the game had a lot of fun and rules were very easily learned, as usual. Lion Rampant confirms a great potential as gateway game.

And now, enjoy the pictures!

sabato 5 ottobre 2019

Gaming the Crusades - first playtest

Recently our club "Band of Butei" joined the group "Gaming the Crusades" (their Facebook page and their website) to offer some help developing an expansion for Lion Rampant, called "Lion Rampant: the Crusades", which aim to cover the period from the First Crusade to the Fall of Acre in the Near East, offering historically detailed scenarios, specific army list and special rules to involve the players and the readers in the epic story of the Crusades.

Last week we had our first playest. We cannot reveal much about it to avoid spoilers, but at the current state is based on the Lion Rampant scenario "The Messenger". We had a Syrian Principate (Islamic) retinue trying to avoid an Knights Hospitaller ambush. Or at least their leader. But they failed.

Anyway what we can do is post some pictures of our game and assure you this project is worth the waiting! Enjoy!

domenica 10 febbraio 2019

Rebels and Patriots, first AAR

First game and first thoughts with Rebels and Patriots, Osprey Wargames last rules by Michael Leck and Daniel Mersey.
Rules took definitely a lot from Rampant mechanics, but most of all from Rampant mentality: they aim to provide a fast fun game, both cinematic and historically plausible, through reflecting the ebb and flow of the 18th to 19th century warfare without dealing with a lot of minutiae.
Quick insight: they succeed in giving me the feeling of being a company commander of the period, without sinking me in a lot of details to remember. 
If you're looking for a ruleset with lot of tables for different weapons this could not be your first choice, but probably you'll missing a lot of fun.

Since my Risorgimento miniatures aren't painted yet,  I used Franco painted 1/72 Napoleonic figures to test the rules. We deployed a French and a English company.

English 24 points

Line Infantry x2 @8 points
Light Infantry (Rifles) @6 points
Shock Infantry (Highlander) @6 points
Light Cavalry (Scot Greys scouting) @4 points

French 24 points

Line Infantry x2 @8 points
Light Infantry (Voltigeurs) @6 points
Light Infantry (Dragoons scouting) @4 points
Light Artillery @ 4 points
Skirmishers @2 points

English (commanded by Franco) used the terrain better: their cavalry hidden behind woods and charged against formed Voltigeurs. They inflicted a lot of casualties (4), but Voltigeurs didn't faltered and the following turn delivered a deadly volley against the cavalrymen, who ran away.

On the other side, French failed to cover decently their Dragoons behind the woods, taking some silly casualties from English Riflemen. French artillery was deployed over one hill, but failed to contribute in a significant way.

The battle revolved around the central hill, quickly occupied by the English infantry, but French failed at dislodging them. Franco was pretty aggressive, ordered his highlander to charge downhill (BTW being uphill only provide bonus during defense): they destroyed one French line infantry taking only light losses.

They engaged and badly hurted a second infantry unit the following turn, but this time they were repelled in disorder. At this points French Dragoons (hidden better behind the woods) took the moment and charged the Highlander routing them.

Despite this French were soon in such a bad array any more offensive was impossible for them. Luckily the game ended before the last two English unit (both without any significant loss) can reach them.

Probably a lot of mistakes was made, but a lot of fun was had too, overall the game flowed well (and I just read the rules once).

Some thoughts from the first game:
  • Cavalry, even if light, charging formed infantry in good order may (if it can avoid being shot ) inflict heavy losses, nonetheless cavalry seems to be a one shot weapon against good order infantry, lacking staying power.
  • It's very useful to place a lot terrain, particularly fence and other light covers and not just broken terrain and woods. This would help reducing shooting deadliness.
  • Shock infantry may be very powerful in attack: combining first fire, charging, being in close  can bring the needed score to hit the enemy a 2+, pretty deadly!
  • Morale tests influenced only by last action losses helps making unit less fragile and stay in game for more turns despite greater casualties rate from firing. I found the morale and order test well thought, overall.
  • The game turn continuing after a failed activation has been a very welcomed news. So did the casual charge movement, very well integrated in the order system.
  • The officer are more useful now, but I had like more Officers being separated from their "guard unit", since when inside infantry they're quite slow and looks more like sergeants than colonels, but just my opinion and shouldn't be too hard to house rule.
Eventually I think Dan and Michael succeed in create a ruleset easily adaptable to European theater from Seven Years War to French Prussian War, encopassing a lot of (to me) interesting conflicts. I'd resist the urge to buy lots and lots of miniatures! 

domenica 27 gennaio 2019

Takenoko and Ticket to Ride - Europe

I recently tried two new boardgames, somehow similar: Takenoko and Ticket to Ride - Europe, and here's a brief review.


A panda, a farmer and the Emperor.
Performing actions (usually 2 per turn) like on placing terrain tiles or water channels, move the farmer (who grows the bamboo), and the Panda (who eats the bamboo), you've to achieve your missions which can be: arrange the terrain in peculiar ways, have a certain number of bamboo pieces on a certain number of tiles or have a certain number of bamboo pieces in your panda stomach.

The rules are quite simple, each player has a summary sheet with the actions available each turn, only some cards can be a bit confusing (no text on them, nor in the summary sheet - so totally language independent, once you know the basic rules). Every player plays his game, aiming towards his/her secret goals, given by the objective cards. The interactions between players is totally indirect: you manipulate the same terrain, panda and farmer using them for different things! At the beginning of the game this really hampers other players strategies, but later in the game the effect was far feebler.

The cons of the game is that beyond half the game, many new objective cards you draw (drawing objective cards is an action) can be easily achieved with few actions or later in the game with no actions at all, since you already find on the table the conditions you need to reclaim the goal of the objective card. An other cons of the objective cards: at the beginning of the game you draw three, and you can't change them in any way (you can draw more cards, but only when you've less than three cards in your hand).

Wonderful pre-painted miniatures included!

Ticket to Ride - Europe

Choo, choo!
A game which does not need introduction. Confronting it with traditional Ticket to Ride, a beautiful new map (since I'm Italian I like Europe map more!), new objective cards, some little tackles here and there, greatly improve gameplay and re-playability.

Also TtR is a explained in less than 10 minutes: basically every player has to complete train routes in the middle of Europe. Also in this game, players are driven by objective cards which score you points if you complete the grand route depicted on it, obviously the longer the grand route, more rewarding the card. Interestingly enough, the cards reduce your final score by the same amounts of points if you don't complete them! Luckily you can choose the cards to keep, but once chosen you can't discard them. You can draw more, if you want (always need to keep at least one of the 3 drawn cards). The routes are completed by discarding from your hands the same amount of colored cards (e.g. green cards) of the segment one particular route is made of. Some cities have more and some fewer links between, so main competition is for taking the best routes before your opponents complete them.
There are a couple of additional rules for tunnels and ferries, but nothing complicated.
The game plays fast, the game ends when the first players end his construction block (i.e. the maximum extent his routes can extend). Then objective cards are revealed and points scored. Very difficult to predict the result of the other players before the end of the game, and this adds tension (in a positive way) to TtR. Totally recommended for people looking for a simple but competitive game!

domenica 20 gennaio 2019

Kings of War - Historical

Some pictures from my first game of Kings of War - Historical by Alessio Cavatore, published by Mantic Games.
Franco taught me this rules using his beautifully painted Romans and Britons and these are my first game impressions.

The rules themselves are quite easy to master. The game is easy to learn and fast paced, due to the totally IGO-UGO system (the active player rolls also for morale test "nerve test" of the targeted troops). The nerve testing is nice and also the rolling to hit system runs smoothly.
The cons are: the flavour is provided mainly by use of special rules and some details of ancient warfare are totally absent, for example there aren't rules for lines relieves (and for a ruleset aimed at reproducing entire ancient battles is a great defect), the units keep fighting at full strength even on the edge of breaking and the melee isn't simultaneous. 
In conclusion: a nice fast paced ruleset, probably it won't become my first choice for ancient wargaming, but it remains still an enjoyable one evening game.

domenica 13 gennaio 2019

A furore Normannorum libera nos!

A short Lion Rampant AAR to present my new purchase: painted 28 mm Normans!

Last week I met with Paolo to give my new army its first go.
I recently purchase some painted 28 mm Normans. Actually I bought only knights and foot shooters, so anyone wishing to sell me 24 painted foot sergeants/yeomen could contact me. For this game I recruited some Irish mercenaries from Paolo's strategic miniature reserve and started an invasion of Byzantine Southern Italy!

a close up of Irish mercenaries

The scenario was Bloodfeud:  Paolo aim was to kill my leader, mine to keep him alive! The game ends also when less than 5 units remains on the battlefield and a greater value is scored on 1D6 roll.

Normans (leader: insipid)
2x Mounted Men at Arms* @6 points each
1x Crossbowmen @4 points
2x Foot Yeomen (Irish mercenaries) @3 points each
1x Bidowers @2 points

Byzantine (leader: rash)
1x Mounted Men at Arms (Cataphracts)* @6 points
1x Mounted Sergeants @4 points
2x Foot Yeomen + mixed weapons @5 points each
1x Mounted Yeomen (Pechenegs mercenaries) @4 points

The fight ensued with my infantry deployed as a screen in front of my leader units (which, being mounted men at arms, has the "wild charge rule"), the other knight unit in reserve.

My bidowers took shelter between the ruins of a Roman temple (quite a common feature in Southern Italy), but during the game their firing was ineffective.

Paolo used his mounted yeomen to harass my infantry line which quickly deteriorated. My crossbowmen repeatedly failed their shoooting activation, but at the very end they routed a mounted sergeants unit in close combat!

The game was turning bad for me, since I had only the leader unit and the bidowers left against Byzantine heavy cavalry, mounted yeomen and one foot yeomen unit, but luckily I rolled 6 on the roll for ending the game: in his last activation Paolo failed to inflict any damage at my leader unit with his cavalry. His heavy cavalry was too far, having failed a morale roll on a (otherwise successful) close combat against my foot yeomen (which routed) the previous turn. So I won!

We had a lot of fun and found the game very balanced till the last turn. Glad my Normans had their fire baptism with a victory! Now I just need some infantry!