Friday, 21 July 2017

The Unstoppable March Of The Dead

With two new Dragon Rampant warbands printed off, it was time to give them a proper outing, so last night Caesar and I gave them a go.

We chose 24pt warbands; Caesar took the Spectral Host whilst I took the Boring Humans, now the Army of the Temples of Syrinx. What can I say? I'm an old prog-rock tragic.

We randomised the terrain randomised leader abilities the randomly determined a scenario. The first one we got was Death Chase, which saw a force of Syrinx raiders returning home across Spectral Host territory and being ambushed. I had to get as many units as possible off the other end of teh table. The Undead just had to destroy as many of my units as possible.

We played on a 4' x 2' table, but with all ranges and distances halved, so effectively the equivalent of an 8' x 4' playing surface.

The Spectral Host consisted of:

Elite Riders - Undead, Level Headed, Fear, Leader
Elite Foot - Undead, Fear
Heavy Foot - Undead
Scouts - Undead

The Temples of Syrinx fielded:

Elite Foot - Leader
2 x Heavy Foot
Heavy Foot - Offensive
Light Missiles

We both selected a nice mix of quests to add spice to the scenario.

Here's the setup. I left my elite foot off table, so that I could bring them on where needed. A silly move, because it also meant that I lost my leader's Courage bonus, whilst facing an enemy that had units with the Fear trait.

Caesar checked some ruled before the Host began its attack.

I advanced as quickly as my plodding troops allowed, hoping to swing the attacking heavy foot around from my right whilst the spearmen and archers fixed the enemy in the centre. With a slow army and epic run down the table was out of the question. My plan was to hold Caesar's inevitable attack, and try and destroy his force.

The inevitable attack - his Spectral Knights charged my archers, who completely failed to loose off any arrows in response.

Amazingly, although they took heavy casualties, the archers simply fell back. And they took out some of the enemy as well; the Undead trait means that units will not go battered as a result of failed Courage tests, but are more vulnerable to taking casualties.

On the other flank my second unit of heavy foot was plonked on a hill where I hoped to be able to resist the Spectra Host's elite foot. It would have worked, had I not fluffed a basic Courage test, and routed.

One of Caesar's quests was to attack with every one of his units. This meant that he chose to throw his puny banshee scouts into my vicious swordsmen. It went just as well as you would expect; they were wiped out without a single swordsman raising a sweat. But he got the point for the quest.

This left the swordsmen without an opponent. As my elite Temple Knights finally appeared, I moved the swordsmen forward towards the end of the table.

My archers fell to a series of attacks from the cream of the Spectral Host. destroying them as another of Caesar's quests.

Caesar's foot formed a wall of spears thinking I was going to attack him. I didn't; I marched around him, running for safety.

He came out of the wall of spears. Then I attacked him. The spectral spearmen were dispersed. In the meantime the Syrinx Knights had destroyed Caesar's horsemen; one of my quest goals. This ow left Caesar with just his elite foot, whilst I still had three units in play.

I used my elite Knights as a rearguard, engaging Caesar's elites. he was wiped out. I failed a basic Courage test and routed. This ended the scenario.

I managed to get two full strength units off the table, but lost three, which made the scenario a draw. But Caesar had achieved more points of quests than I, which gave him a marginal win.

We kept the terrain as it was and decided to play a second scenario. We both modified our forces; Caesar dropped his heavy foot and the Fear on his elite foot and took some spectral Bellicose Foot with Terrifically Shiny Armour. I dropped my swordsmen, and took some Heavy Riders and added a Wizardling priestess to one of my heavy foot units.

We rolled the Ringbearer scenario. One of my units was carrying a powerful magical artefact that Caesar's Host wanted. He didn't know which. he would score big points if he destroyed or routed the unit holding the artefact. I scored big points if the unit was still in play at the end. The tricky part of this scenario was that if the unit with the artefact ever became the only unit I had left, it would self-destruct, destroying both armies and scoring neither side any points except for completed quests. This nasty subtlety makes for some interesting play.

We rolled leader abilities. Caesar chose Unstoppable March Of The Dead, which meant that he ignored a whole range of potential Courage test causes. I rolled a triple-six, which meant my leader was so strong that his unit could reroll three failed attack dice.

We then both promptly forgot about our leader abilities, and failed to use them.

My heavy riders. Apparently they're called Gronks, and I found them on Thingiverse.

The Spectral Host's bellicose foot.

Deployment. I planned on sitting tight behind the river. Caesar attacked. I failed loads of initial activation rolls, and barely moved off the baseline.

The gronks did manage to advance, though, attacking the banshees in the open.

Caesar failed to evade, and they were crushed underfoot, although they did inflict some casualties.

The rest of the Spectral Host crossed the river. My priestess attempted to bolster her troops with magical courage.

The archers had a nice spot on the hill, and managed to thin out the enemy ranks as they advanced.

They were charged and, despite their magical courage, they fell back.

The foot unit guarding the priestess had failed to move off the baseline, so retreated off the table when attacked by Caesar's elite foot.

The elite foot finished off the archers as well, before falling to the Syrinx Knights. The surviving bellicose foot then charged to destruction against the mighty Syrinx leader.

The gronks attacked the Spectral Hosts's cavalry, and were destroyed, but took a couple of ghostly horsemen with them.

This now left three units in play. I had two, and one of them had the ring. If Caesar destroyed the wrong unit, the scenario would end.

I moved my elite foot to engage him. He reasoned that the ring was being held by the heavy foot, who simply formed a wall of spears and were waiting for him.

The final fight. Caesar charged. We both took casualties ...

... and the Host routed.

This gave me a convincing win; not only had I retained the ring, but we both got points for destroyed units. In addition, I had picked up loads of points for my quests, which involved destroying two of Caesar's key units, as well as never having more than one battered unit on my side at any time.

Both games were a great deal of fun, and the rues played very smoothly. The Temples of Syrinx performed exactly as a no-frills warband should; boring but reliable. The Spectral Host was interesting to play, but very brittle. The Undead trait probably works better on cheaper units with low armour values, rather than on the high-point units we were using. I think I need to print some more spearmen for the host.

Needless to say, every figure in play was printed at home.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

To Fight Monsters, We Created Monsters Of Our Own

We watched 'Pacific Rim' again the other day. It's still as awesome as ever. Afterwards I remembered that I downloaded a set of 3D print files for the five main Jaegers featured in the film last year, and thought that I'd try printing one off.

So here's Gipsy Danger. Four-and-a-half hours of printing, one of cleanup and a couple of hours of painting. She stands just over 3" tall.

Gipsy mostly printed OK, although before I do any of the other Jaegers I'm going to have to do some maintenance on the printer and also consider the best way of printing these models; this one worked, but they are difficult prints owing to the detail and the stability of the mode on the print-bed. 

I have left the Jaeger on a plain base for now, until I decide how I want to decorate it.

Coming soon?

Maybe some kaiju are too big for even a Jaeger - Gipsy Danger meets Gypsy Danger.

(Yes, we got the spelling wrong when we named the cat)

Monday, 17 July 2017

Boring Humans

I painted another Dragon Rampant warband over the weekend. It's so new that I haven't really come up with a name for it yet, but I set it up to be a baseline, no frills, boring human army. Once again I printed some of DutchMogul's 18mm figures from Thingiverse.

Here's the whole force:

Archers (Light Missiles) and Swordsmen (Offensive Heavy Foot).

Two units of Spearmen (Heavy Foot)

The Knight Commander (Elite Foot)

By my reckoning that's a no nonsense 24pts, with room for expansion.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Down Mexico Way

Whilst I was painting my Mound Builder American army for HOTT/DBA, I had a look at possible opponents in the DBA 3.0 lists. One of these was Aztecs. Now, as you know, I have an Aztec army for HOTT, so I got the box out and had a look at it in comparison to the DBA list. I was thrilled to discover that, if you ignore the number of figures on some of the elements, I had all of the elements needed for it bar the two psiloi. A quick painting session during the week created those, and suddenly I found myself with two matched pre-Columbian American DBA armies.

Now, at the moment Wollongong is hosting a Queer Arts Festival to celebrate the city's LGBT community. The centrepiece of this is an art exhibition in one of the city's galleries, and I have a couple of pieces on display. One of my obligations as an exhibitor is to spend a morning or afternoon minding the gallery. Since this involves just sitting in an art gallery for several hours, I took along my two new DBA armies, and decided to give them their first outing.

So here's the game in it's somewhat unusual setting. Unfortunately the desk where the gallery sitters sits is in a fairly dark corner, and I'm afraid my photos of the game suffered accordingly.

Here's the armies set up and ready to go, with the Mound Builders on the left and the Aztecs on the right. The Aztecs have the option of running the bulk of their infantry as either auxilia or hordes, on an element by element basis even. But where's the fun in auxilia? I went hordes all the way. Fast hordes. And the Mound Builders have them too. In fact, nine of the twenty-four elements on the table were hordes.

Anyway, against the odds the Aztecs were defending against a Mound Builder incursion, although their terrain type is the same. I used a random terrain selection table from the Fanaticus page, and the battlefield ended up with a waterway along one edge, two ploughed fields in the middle (which ended up as good going), and a scrubby hill in one corner. Basically a billiard-table.

The Aztecs massed their hordes in the front line, with the better warriors in a supporting line. All of their elements are reasonable fast; I reasoned that a bold, headlong attack was the way to go, using the hordes to soak up the archery, and the reserve line to pug or exploit any gaps. The psiloi were on the right flank, tasked with taking the hill and using it to attack the Mound Builder flank.

The Mound Builders had their strongest warriors in the centre, flanked by hordes of archers. On their left the psiloi held the hill, whilst the stinkard hordes were on the right.

The stinkards moved forward to meet the oncoming Aztecs, which allowed the Mound Builders to properly expand their archer line. The Aztecs shifted some warriors across to that flank, and a horde vs horde battle ensued. In DBA hordes don't recoil in close combat, so basically the two lots of elements became locked into combat for turn after turn after turn ...

Archery cut down one horde element on the approach, but two other headed straight for the Mound Builder centre. They had no chance of a win, but would certainly act to disrupt the line.

Battle is joined.

Whilst more hordes were destroyed, the Great Sun was actually pushed back, forcing the Mound Builders to reorganise their line as the main Aztec force came up. At the bottom of the picture the archers on the Mound Builder right were swinging around to menace the Aztec left.

Massed hordes continued to fight on the waterway flank. The Aztecs committed the Eagle Knights in support, hoping they'd kill the upstart stinkards more quickly. They didn't.

The main Aztec force now hit the Mound Builder line, whilst their general watched from the back.

The Aztec general came under bow fire as the Mound Builders turned the Aztec left.

Gaps began to appear in both lines as Mound Builder archers began to fall under the Aztec onslaught. In fact the Mound Builders' left was under some pressure as they were losing the psiloi battle on the hill.

Jaguar warriors attacked the Great Sun, but were driven back.

The Great Sun fell back, and his nobles charged into combat in his stead, supported by some archers. The Jaguars were slaughtered.

The nobles now charged the Aztec general himself, whilst the archers tried to move into position to provide flank support on both sides.

On the waterway flank, the hordes still fought. One Aztec element had been lost, allowing the stinkards to gang up on the Eagle Knights. But that combat just became a stalemate as well.

The end came on the Mound Builder left, as veteran Aztec warriors cut down more archers, supported by the surviving skirmishers who had finally won the battle for the hill.

The losses. Hordes don't count as lost elements, so the slaughter was massive. The Aztecs had lost five of their six hordes, but the only significant casualties were the Jaguar Knights and some skirmishers. The Mound Builder only lost a single horde, but lost two archers and both of their psiloi.

A final view of the battlefield. On their right and in the centre, the Mound Builders actually had the upper hand, but their efforts had been spent in killing worthless hordes of warriors. The real fight had been on their left, where the Aztecs had dominated, and destroyed troops that counted.

This battle was enormous fun, with most of the infantry being fast-moving, lots of shooting, and hordes charging and falling everywhere. It seemed to be a good matchup too, with the Aztec hordes and their heavier infantry working to offset the Mound Builder superiority in missile troops. The Mound Builder are not really an attacking army, since their general is not able to contact enemy troops, but their archers allow them to stand and receive an attack. The Aztecs seem to be all about attack, and can do it well.
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