domenica 23 aprile 2017

A game with Ronin and some thoughts about it

After some months since our last game, yesterday Marco and I played Ronin, a skirmish game by the Osprey wargaming series, written by Craig Woodfield and set during the Sengoku Jidai, litteraly the “Age of warring states”, i.e. the “feudal Japan” or “the age of Samurai”!

It was a project we started last year and we quickly painted up our forces (the started warband, or buntai) can be made up using about five models. Marco chose Samurai, I chose Sohei Warrior Monks, Stefano, Alberto and Edoardo also went Samurai. All our models are from Perry miniatures, except on Reaper Ronin (which is currently having issues with his sword).
For a good review about mechanics read this blog: they explain the game very well.

The two buntai (warbands) (150 points) in our game were: Bushi (i.e. Samurai Faction) and Sohei (Warrior Monks).

Marco's Bushi buntai approching!

2 Ashigaru with yari
1 Ashigaru with Yumi
1 Ashigaru with Teppo
1 Samurai with Katana, Intuition, Kenjutsu
1 Hatamoto mounted on Warhorse, Kenjutsu, Bujutsu

1 Initiate with Naginata
1 Initiate with Yumi
1 Initiate with Teppo
2 Sohei with Naginata, Naginatajutsu
1 Senior Sohei with Tetsubo, Fast, Poweful

I arrived late at the club, so we could play just 6 turns out of 12.  It was quite a long time since we last played Ronin, so resolving shooting and combat took a bit more time than usual.

We chose a skirmish scenario, and rolled for weather and time of the day heavy mist and night. They both reduce LOS to 12”, so shooting had a small impact in this game, which quickly degenerated into a massive melee in the middle of the battlefield.

A consideration I did when chosing the scenario is that, even if there are 7 scenarios included in the rulebook, but 2 (duel and tournament) are of small interest to me, and another (assassination), though interesting, involves a ninja buntai, with its own special rules and, although historically correct, is to be considered a “special” scenario. So, the basic scenarios for “normal” buntai reduce (to me) to encounter battle, capture and objective, defend an objective, raid/defend a village. I will probably check En Garde! to gain further inspiration.
We also wanted to try how mounted combat works and so spent some time checking on the rules the exact mechanic. Our opinion is that, although the differences between mounted and normal combat are small, they flow elegantly in the general combat mechanic determined by combat pool. The mounted models may perform ride through attack, which at the expense of halving the combat pool of both fighters, allows the riders to move in the combat phase (before and after resolving combat). This add a completely new layer of strategy to the game. Another very lovely nuance is the possibility for assaulted models to choose to attack the horse or the rider.

My general impression is that this set of rules provides some occasions of strategic thinking, sometimes very chess like, but with the random element of the dice rolling. Using more than the basic 100 points, will, however, led to a game not so quick as other skirmish game. We would probably have needed at least a total of 3 hours to end the game with ease. Probably with more experience this time could be considerably reduced (maybe to 2 hours). 

The game was suspended at the middle of the action, but Marco’s retinue lost two models, and I had to models seriously wounded, so any possibility was still open, and for this reason I decided not to have a complete description of the game. I will do one when I’ll have a complete game to describe in detail (excuse the pun).

We had a debate during the game: do the stunned counters and light/grievius wounds initiative malus stack or not? It's clearly stated that stunned counters are cumulative, but the model just suffer a -1 for the initiative roll. Any idea? My thought was that yes, they stack, Marco didn't think so.

mercoledì 12 aprile 2017

Pikeman's lament unit cards

As I discussed here, we found summary cards for LR units' stats very useful both for our games and for conventions to illustrate the game to newbies. They contain all the information any player with some knowledge of the rules can require to play the game smoothly. Also they're quite inspiring and aesthetically better than roster sheets. Inspired by Tim Charzinski LR unit cards I decided to realise cards or The Pikeman's Lament, too (PL from now on).

PL is a game wrote by Daniel Mersey and Michael Leck set during the age of...pikemen, of course, exactly Pike and Shot, thus meaning approximately the 17th century, an age of costant wars, the English Civil War, The Thirty Years War, The Eight Years War, and continuous fighting along the borders of Europe, involving Ottoman, Polish, Russian, Venetians, Spanish against Berbers and many others. (check Desperta Ferro for Spanish Tercio in North Arfrica).

Lion Rampant cards use the same flag in the background for all factions (and it couldn't be otherwise: too many Nations, Kingdoms, Caliphates, Emirates, Signorie, Duchy, Empires during Middle Ages). I decided to characterize some Nations with a different background flag, of course the list is incomplete, but we can work on some more with time.

I decided not to follow always the most historical flag, I preferred to have a quickly identifiable one, based on the assumption the flags will be printed on black and white, so the various crosses would all have looked the same (Swede, Denmark for example). I know the heraldic lion rampant for Sweden isn't the most correct choice, but it seemed to me the less time consuming option.

Here is the link to the cards!

The starter set includes:
  • Sweden (can use also for Scotland)
  • Holy Roman Empire (or Austrians Asburg)
  • France
  • Royalist (can be used as England during TYW)
  • Parlamentarian 
Will follow soon:
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Most Serene Republic of Venice
  • Catholic League 
  • Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

We are looking for in-period heraldic for:
  • United Province (we cannot use the three banded flag, would look awful)
  • Russian? 
  • Moghul?

Working on the cards with Davide!

Since I'm barely able to use Paint I ask a friend, who recently got his Master in Computer Graphic and he's starting his business. If you ever need a graphic help, may contact him via LinkedIn.
(that is my way to thank him for the help, hope this small advertisement doesn't bother you)

martedì 11 aprile 2017

Lion Rampant - Armies on the cheap #3 Late Middle Ages

After the Hundred Years War, in Western Europe the armies were largely homologate. French kings issued Ordnance to regulate the earlier feudal armies, the first step toward professional armies. The Burgundian duke Charles the Bold, followed this trend. An other factor of uniformity was the availability of large bodies of troops, left unemployed by the end of the war. Some of them became mercenaries, giving birth to the "Free Companies". English longbowmen could so be found all across the continent, together with the Swiss and Flamish pikemen. During this period the transition toward the prominency of infantry in the battlefield is almost concluded, with increasingly larger blocks of pikes opposing the heavy cavarly. Nevertheless the latter still had an importantant role.

In Italy the fighting cities (now became Signorie), massively employed mercenary Condotta, led by Condottiere, usally a minor noble (or not in the line of succession) devoted to warfare to gain glory and wealth. There was a core of heavy and light cavalry, but included also many infantrymen. Sometimes more infantry was provided by the countries who hired them.

The last big conflict of the medieval age were the Wars of the Roses: a dinastic war between Lancaster and York for the throne of England lasting between 1455 and 1487.

We own to this conflict the wealth of 28mm plastic miniatures we can use to represent almost any war in western Europe during the second half of 15th century. This time I'll deal only with one manifacturer: Perry Miniatures. Let's see what their range offers. In Italic the description taken from their website. The boxes cost 20£ each, and can be found here.

Plastic Wars of the Roses Infantry 1450-1500, bows and bills (40 figures). You can build up to 30 bowmen, up to 18 billmen and includes 4 fully armoured command.
The most specific "English" set, especially for the billmen. Anyway, as I stated Longbowmen could be found as mercenaries all across Europe.

'Mercenaries', European Infantry 1450-1500, pikemen, crossbowmen and handgunners (40 figures). You can build up to 12 crossbowmen (with pavises), up to 12 handgunners, up to 18 pikemen (12 of which can be converted to polearms) and includes 4 command figures.
The most useful - generic armies: using this box you can depict almost any infantry for any army of the period.

Mounted Men at Arms 1450-1500
This box contains 12 mounted Men at Arms that can be used for most European armies. There is seperate horse armour for mounts if needed and 7 different horse heads (25 in total). The Men at Arms have 14 right arm options and 12 head options (per 4 riders). There are also lance,sword,mace, warhammer,axe and standard pole/spear options.
Here you must play attention to the heads: there are at least two style of helms: one is well suited for Italian armies, the other for German knights, which include a wealth of mercenaries employed in Bohemia, Hungary, Germany (of course), Baltic states, Transylvania and East Europe in general. They can also be split between Knights and Sergeants, if you decide to place armour only on some horses.
Foot Knights 1450-1500
The box contains 38 multi-part plastic figures, 17 flags, unit bases and infomation sheet.
 This box is a little tricky: I don't think many players need so many Foot knights, at least if you're not playing WotR. Especially if you consider Lion Rampant, in which the Foot Men at arms are depicted as units of 6 models. Of course, some could be deployed as particularly armoured billmen, but my suggestion is to split this box between two or three gamers.

Light Cavalry
The box contains 12 plastic horsemen that can be assembled with light lances, crossbows or as mounted archers. It also contains parts for command figures, banners and historical infomation.
It's a very useful box, suitable as Mounted Yeomen or Mounted Sergeants. As the knight box the usefulness is increasesd by the fact exactly that exactly 2 units may be made from this box.

Even if the majority of the boxes allows us to make 40 miniatures, where most Lion Rampant armies would need 42 or 48, the Perry twin allow us to buy single sprue from the WotR range (only the infantry commands) allowing us to round up many units.

Luca's Italian Condotta Infantry from European Mercenaries box

Example List

2 Mounted MAA @12 points
1 Foot Sergeants @4 points
2 Foot Crossbowmen @8 points

This list for example needs just two box: European Mercenaries and Mounted Knights. They can represent a fairly generic Italian Condotta.

My Colleoni Mounted  MAA from mounted knights box
3 Foot Sergeants @12 points
2 Crossbowmen @8 points
2 Bidowers @4 points

Here you would need 2 European Mercenary boxes.

"Split list" 

Done splitting the boxes between two players.

War of the Roses (or Free Company)
1 Foot MAA/Mounted MAA @ 6points
1 Expert Sergeants @6 points
2 Expert Archers @12 points

If you have a friend and buy 2 Wars of the Roses Infantry and 1 Mounted/Foot Knight boxes, you can each field one of this army.

Alternatively you can field them with one Wars of the Roses Infantry, plus the command tow left over and one single sprue of commands.

German Armies
1 Mounted MAA @ 6 points
1 Mounted Sergeants ± Crossbow @ 4 points 
2 Foot Sergeants @ 8 points
1 Crossbowmen + pavises @ 6 points

Needed: 2 European Mercenaries (1 per player), 1 Mounted Knight, 1 Light Cavalry.
Germany was divided into a number of cities, leagues and feudal entities, often at war between them, against the enemies at the borders as Hungarians, Danish, Burgundians, Flemish (can use the Swiss list), French.

More list will follow...