Saturday, December 29, 2012

Finished 28mm dragons

I bought these two painted plastic dragons from the internet after checking them out at my local Toys R Us.  I finally finished basing them.  The basing gave me a chance to practice my winter basing techniques and use two mounted knight casualties from my Old Glory HYW Casualty pack.  The mounted guys just wouldn't fit on my normal casualty markers.

To give you an idea of how big these dragons are, they are mounted on 100mm by 150mm bases.

I managed to get some snow on the horse too.

This dragon looks like he wants to play with his food.

The knight is about to be pancaked.

I tried to scorch the bottom of the horse a bit with some smoke.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter Goblins WIP

Here are some pictures of the Winter Goblins I've been painting.  The miniatures are from the plastic GW goblin spear regiment box set.  I like how they've turned out.  The box gives a lot of variety in posing and while removing the mold lines on the figures is annoying, for the most part, the sculpting is full of character.

The little guys are very animated which made it difficult to base them 4 figures per 40mm square base.  I plan on using the units in attack column (2 bases by 2 bases), so these guys will be the front ranks of two units with their spears pointed forward.  There is no way I could use the spear forward guys in a second rank of bases.

I'll paint and base two rear bases for each unit and use poses where they are holding their spears upright.

I guess I assumed since they were small goblins that basing them wouldn't be a problem, but I'm obviously going to have to plan the basing very carefully to fit the guys onto the bases.  Otherwise,  the bases won't be able to line up and touch each other.  I could use slightly larger bases for them, but I'd rather keep the basing consistent through my armies.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hostile Realms Campaign Playtest Turn Spring 2

The complete campaign map.  Middle Kingdom is tan.
Undead are gray blocks. The Middle Kingdom is on
the offensive.

This is the second turn of our Hostile Realms Campaign we've played using Theater of War, Vassal, and Skype.

I've been playing the Middle Kingdom and Jed is playing the Undead.  

The Undead were forced to retreat from the western city of Daniz after what we called a Marginal Defeat last turn.  National Will measures your nation's desire to keep the war effort going.  I believe the National Will starting amounts were Middle Kingdom 54, Undead 48.  Jed lost 10+d8+d10 National Will for losing the battle and ended up losing around 27 points!!!  So now MK leads around 54-21.

In Theater of War, each side builds a hand of cards by drawing from their own campaign deck.  It costs impetus points to draw a card, discard, play a card, and act on a played card.  This is the Spring 2 turn, so each player's hand can be up to 6 cards.  Hand size changes each season.  Impetus is determined by a d20 vs d20 roll with the winner getting the die roll difference in impetus points.  The loser gets nothing.

As usual this game, my Middle Kingdoms armies did exceedingly well for impetus and I was able to initially cycle through the deck looking for the Officer Check card.  Once I drew and played it, I built a supply depot in Daniz to provide a closer source of supply for my invading knights. 

In the East, two of my Middle Kingdom feudal hosts (BG 2 each) held a war summit and agreed to put aside petty rivalries and join into a massive host under one leader (Officer Check).  This new army became a Size 4 Battlegroup.  This army then began marching north along the eastern coastal road.  After they were shown some lightly defended fords by friendly farmers who had no desire to become zombies, the army crossed the Kasar River and entered the same road hex as 2 Undead Battle Groups who were guarding the eastern approaches to the Necromancer's kingdom. 

I pulled the Supply card and Jed had some terrible luck rolling supply for his retreating army and one of the battle groups in the Kasar River hex.  My army in the Kasar River hex was also blocking the easier road bound supply route for his retreating battle group.  He had to trace across the desert, lengthening the path considerably. 

I tried to pull cards from my deck to build a good battle hand to engage in
 battle near the Kasar River, but I had discarded quite a few useful battle cards while I was searching for that damn Officer Check card. 

Jed started to win more impetus in the middle of the turn.  He had trouble getting the right Move cards when he needed them.  He played the Scout card and was able to spend impetus to discover that some of my armies threatening his lands from south of the Salty Bog were actually just cavalry screens (dummy Battle Groups).  I then scouted his Kasar River armies and discovered my BG 4 was on top of a BG 2 and a BG 1.  The dummy Battle Groups will reappear on the beginning of the Summer 1 turn in hexes containing actual Battle Groups.

Closeup of the action.  The supply depot in Daniz is represented by my
ship block in the West.  The yellow dots indicate out of supply status.
The red dot indicates that army was defeated in a previous battle.  This
is the army that lost the previous turn's battle in Daniz. The Kasar River
battle hex is the hex with the two bridges leading to it.
The skull castle block indicates a city that is controlled by the Undead.

With only  a few cards left in my deck, I won approximately 12 impetus.  I searched what remained of my deck and managed to pull an Attack card.  My hand at the time consisted of Engage in Battle x3, Flank Attack, Strength, and Attack.  Eager to take advantage of my numerical superiority, I played an Engage in Battle card to fight the BG2 at the Kasar River.  I played my Flank Attack action card and Jed played a Retire card to avoid the battle.

Aaargh!  Luckily, I had a few more impetus (and I had the 3 Engage in Battle cards in my hand almost the entire turn).  I engaged the BG 2 again with my BG 4, played the Attack card this time and Jed opposed it with an Attack card.  I think I had a Strength card and used the other Engage card as a Strength card to gain the battle advantage 3-2 (I believe Jed also had a Strength card).

I had wanted to try a Flank Attack scenario this game, but Jed wouldn't cooperate.  :(

So with a BG size advantage of 2 and a battle hand advantage of 1, we drew our army strengths.  I ended up with my entire campaign roster (25 slots) and Jed pulled 19 roster slots with 2 infantry choices and 2 cavalry/beast/large creature choices.  It helped that I had a BG 4 because I was able to ignore a Numeric 3 card on my army pull and then drew an 8 instead.

Unfortunately for the Undead, Jed's battle group is also out of supply, so that will reduce the effectiveness of a few of his units.  The battle will be a meeting engagement in light terrain.  I expect Jed to choose a few more Level 3 and Level 4 spells this battle in an effort to overcome my advantage in numbers.

Below are some new additions to my armies.  Both the Realm and the Middle Kingdoms can field a dragon in their campaign rosters.  I bought both of these Safari dragons for under $20 each.  They came painted and I think they look pretty great!  I only need to base them!

The Rex tangling with a two-headed fire-breather!

This dragon looks like it would be great for elves or the Middle Kingdom!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Battle of Daniz

Our Hero!

This is a battle report of the first battle we have generated with our test Hostile Realms campaign.  The Middle Kingdom marched a Size 2 Battle Group into the lands of the Undead and engaged in battle with a Size 3 Battle Group belonging to the Necromancer's Empire.  This battle took place near the undead city of Daniz, just west of the Salty Bog.

The city is located in a Light Terrain hex.  We used my terrain generation card deck to generate the terrain for the table top, assign the battlefield objectives, and deploy the commands.

In the view below, the Undead are deployed on the right in 2 commands.  The Middle Kingdom is deployed on the left in 3 commands.  The battlefield had a Class II creek that ran the length of the table.  Otherwise there were some roads, a few Class II hills, a Class III village, and a Class III town.  The battlefield objectives from front to back in the photo below were:
  • small hill in right foreground ( 2 VP)
  • town in right center (13 morale chips)
  • long hill behind the town (4 VP)
  • village in left center at the end of the table (10 morale chips, 7 VP)

Below is a photo of the tabletop from the other end.  The Middle Kingdom army was divided into 3 commands:
  • Left Flank Command: 2 feudal knight units, 1 sergeant unit led by the Count of Bovis, a mounted hero.  I rolled his quality and determined he was an Average (D10) leader with good combat skills.
  • Center Command: Crossbowmen, hand-gunners, an organ gun, minotaurs, pike-armed civic militia, and a unit of household knights equipped with magic Horseshoes of Speed..  This command was led by Father Brutus.  Father Brutus is an unusual-looking, short, grizzly priest whose family rushed him off to join the clergy early in his adult development.  I rolled his quality and he was an Exceptional leader (D12+1), but a terrible spellcaster (D4 aptitude).  Apparently, Father Brutus has alienated his deity.
  • Paladins Under the Rex's Gaze: 1 unit of household knights equipped with magic Wings of the Pegasus.  They are led by Jean the Good, the Rex mounted on a pegasus.  I rolled Jean's quality and he was Abysmal (D6) as a leader, but phenomenal as a warrior.  His poor leadership as CinC also added a Command Indecision card to the deck.  Does this surprise anyone?

The council meeting in the Middle Kingdom's royal council tent was a scene to behold.  The Count of Bovis, Father Brutus, and other leaders were standing around a map of Daniz when the Rex strode in and removed his helm.  His hair was perfect and he flashed a winning smile to the nobles.  He asked the assembled lords, "Are we ready to fight today?"

Brutus told the king, "Sire, the undead have skeletons and zombies, but our scouts report that they also have a bone giant, mummies, and a unit of magically protected wraiths.  Perhaps we should discuss a plan to deal with these threats." 

The Rex picked up his famed Mirror Shield and smirked at the priest.  "You want a plan?  Don't lose the battle until I win it."  And he left.

Center command commanded by Father Brutus

The Count of Bovis' mounted command advanced and captured the small village on the left flank.  The infantry command advanced to threaten the the town in the center.  An Uncontrolled Charge card sent the minotaurs charging impetuously toward the center of the Undead line.

The Undead were carefully using their magic to Bless their units and magically improve their capabilities.

Minotaurs charge the Undead

The Middle Kingdom cavalry on the left flank moved to threaten the right flank of the Undead army.  Meanwhile the Rex and his paladin bodyguard flew into the air and began to fly in a wide arc around the left flank of the Undead army.

The Undead moved 3 units of skeleton archers into the town in the center.

MK knights moving against the Undead right flank.

After some lucky Move and Heroic Moment rolls, the Rex overcame his own poor leadership qualities and dive-bombed a unit of skeletons behind the Undead front lines.

Household knight equipped with Horseshoes of Speed gallop past the town to assist the
 Paladins Under the Rex's Gaze as they descend upon the undead in the background

The minotaurs fled from melee after failing a morale check on a Courage card, but Father Brutus rallied them with some raw meat.  They then promptly charged back into melee again.

And lost and routed away again.  Sigh!  At least they look tough.

You can see Father Brutus waving goodbye to his minotaurs.

After another Courage card, the feudal knights in Bovis' command fled from a unit of wraiths.  It's pretty understandable since they had no magic weapons and couldn't harm the wraiths.

Fleeing knights.

Meanwhile the Rex and his paladins were starting to roll up the flank of the main Undead command.

The lich's attempt to cast a spell is defeated by the Rex's Mirror Shield.

Victory for the Undead on this flank

The undead are winning on the right, but the Middle Kingdom household knights have slaughtered their opponents and are moving behind the Undead front lines, searching for new targets.  They've killed several infantry units and a chariot unit.

At this point, the Undead commander had to go home and acknowledged that his forces had at least suffered a Marginal Defeat.  The morale chip count was 13-0.  The undead wraiths could probably take back the small village on the flank which was worth 10 Morale/7 VP, but I don't know if they could reach it before the pegasus-mounted paladins caught them.  The Rex clearly did win the battle with the help of his household knights.  Most of the other Middle Kingdom units were routing, routed off the board, or disordered.  Jean the Good is obviously a strategic genius.

Player's Notes:

Jed did a much better job with his magic in this battle.  He used it to bolster his troops and with the poor magical abilities of my opposing priest, the Undead wizards were able to use magic very effectively on the battlefield.

Having 3 commands to Jed's 2 commands was a real advantage.  The deployment draw also forced Jed to deploy his 2 commands first.  I was then able to see his deployment and place my troops where they would be needed most.  Having that 3rd command allowed me to give the Rex his own personal command with which he could deliver his flank attack.  Drawing the Wings of the Pegasus magic item was also very lucky since the Rex was already mounted on a flying steed.

I (the Middle Kingdom player) kept my weaker infantry away from the Undead.  Neither the mummies nor the bone giant were even able to get into melee.  I also used my mobility to pick and choose where the fights would be.  The 2 units of household knights were very fast because one was flying (Wings of the Pegasus) and the other had Boots of Speed.  Between the two mounted units, they probably destroyed 5 units and cost the Undead around 20 morale chips.

Since most of the Undead units don't rout or retreat, they would just get pulverized by the knights for their full 4 wounds.  The Pegasus Knights were Melee D12+3 to start and the attached Rex would raise them UP2.  By himself, the Rex was something like Melee D12+5.  The only other effective unit I had was the organ gun that managed to vaporize an advancing skeleton unit at point blank range with a single shot.

I was also pretty lucky because the Rex's low Command die initially worried me a bit.  With only a D6 for Command, I needed to roll well to move them.  Otherwise, I was concerned the Pegasus Knights would take too long to make their flank attack.  Some good rolls and well-timed Heroic Moment cards allowed me to bring the finishing attack in the nick of time.

The Undead had trouble winning melees against the heavily armored knights.  Sometimes this was because Jed rolled poorly, but I also avoided the mummies and the bone giant, 2 units I thought would be dangerous to my knights in melee.  The giant is Mighty and ignores armor, so I knew I had to stay far away from him.  Jed's other excellent unit, his wraiths, scared off my feudal knights with Courage checks, but never caused any wounds, ended up out of command on a flank and was isolated from the rest of the battle.

The Undead caused very few wounds on my army because I kept my crappy infantry away from them.  The most effective aspect of the Undead army were the Courage cards.  They add an extra Courage card to their opponent's deck, so I was facing 3 Courage cards every turn.  Almost every routed or disordered unit the Middle Kingdom had during the battle was the result of a failed Courage check.  Since these full strength units would then rout off the table, they would only count as 1 morale chip lose against the MK's total.

The Undead army has a lot of units with excellent special abilities, but it can be very difficult to manage.  Jed has really been developing his techniques, but his most recent challenge has been which leaders to bring to the battle.  Wizard commanders are ideal for the Undead, but they can't use their spells when they're attached to units.  If the Undead doesn't bring a warrior-type leader that can attach to units, the army misses out on the Heroic Moment card which allows a unit with an attached character to treat the card as a wild card.    

I screwed up with my magical item assignment.  I should have assigned the Magic Shield to the Count of Bovis so he could use its magical capabilities to make effective attacks against the wraiths who are immune to non-magical attacks.  Oh well, in the end, the Rex bailed me out with his powerful ego.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pictures of the Middle Kingdom Rex

Jed and I have our first Fantasy Realms campaign battle scheduled tomorrow.  The gentleman pictured below is The Rex, Jean the Good.  He is the titular king of the Middle Kingdoms and when present he "commands" their armies.  

Jean earned his high position through birth and has held his status because he happens to be the best melee combatant in the Middle Kingdoms.  He's no strategic genius, but when battle is joined, Jean knows how to take care of person.  

When the Middle Kingdom matches up against the armies of the Undead tomorrow, Jean will use his special personal challenge ability, land his pegasus between the two armies, and issue a challenge of personal combat to the Evil Necromancer.  Typically, the Evil Necromancer rolls his eyes and writes Jean off as an immature show-off, but the courage Jean's antics show does serve to impress the manly mounted knights of his realm.  Maybe this boost to their morale will prove to be the difference in tomorrow's battle?  Or maybe Jean will get his "mano a mano" battle?

He's still a little glossy from his varnish coat, but I'll have to decide if I want to
dull cote him or not.  The gloss coat works great to hold the decals on.
 (decals from VVV)

The base will also get the tall grass treatment once I know the varnishing is done.

I didn't wash Rex at all.  Just highlighting because frankly, he probably has
plenty of servants polishing his gear before battle.  Jean the Good has to look
good, after all.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Middle Kingdom Minotaurs

We've been building armies to fight our Hostile Realms campaign.

Our Middle Kingdoms army list includes a unit of minotaurs, so I conducted an extensive search of the internet to locate suitable models.  Since the minotaurs are a beast unit in the game, they would be based on 4 1-figure stands.  Many manufacturers make great minotaur models, but very few have 4 variations of a similar model that can be used to form up a unit of minotaurs.  I finally found some excellent candidates from Cavalcade Wargames.  They offered a nice selection of minotaurs and had a great variety of poses.

So, here are four of the minotaurs are in all of their glory:

Ranked up against a unit of Gondorian infantry.  Quite the
size difference!

Once I've finished the Midde Kingdoms and Gondorian armies, I plan to paint a Snow Goblin army for Hostile Realms.  Here is my first snow goblin, fresh off the painting table.  Giant yeti, ice trolls, snow ogres, and winter wolves, oh my!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hostile Realms Campaign Playtest Turn Spring 1

The city on the island is my capital or base of operations.  The brown units are my armies (the goodies).  The gray units are the Undead (the baddies).  The hidden blocks are armies (battle groups) and they started on my two northernmost cities.  I now have 3 army groups heading for the lands of the Undead.  One has reached the Undead city of Daniz on the left above the large number 3.  This is the battle that ended the turn and it has revealed its strength.

We've been planning a Hostile Realms fantasy campaign using Piquet's Theater of War (TOW) campaign rules and the Wizard Kings Vassal module online.  Some of my other articles about this campaign are here.

Undead Jed and I are running a playtest of the system to ensure that the Vassal module works the way we want it to.  In this playtest, we logged on using Skype (Greg was an observer) and then ran the Theater of War turn using the d20 die roller built into the module to roll for initiative.

The brown units belong to the Middle Kingdom (me).  The gray units belong to the Undead.  The visible castles merely mark control of populated areas (cities).  Cities are useful because capturing them can increase the National Will (VP's) of your nation and make them more likely to continue the war.  You can also build a supply depot on a city and use that new depot as a supply source for your armies instead of your capital.

In TOW you draw cards from your deck and place them in your hand.  Depending on the season, your hand size is restricted.  This is Spring 1 season, so our hand size is 5 cards.  You can play a card from your hand, act on a played card, or discard cards from your hand.  All of these actions cost impetus.

I rolled pretty well for initiative (d20 vs d20) and the difference between the rolls was my impetus.  I had a few series of 12 or 15 impetus which allowed me to cycle through my deck and build a hand that would push my armies forward.

I eventually pulled 10 impetus on a winning Initiative roll.  I had a Heroic Effect card in my hand and a Light Move card already played.  I drew another Light Move card and was then able to spend impetus to play all 3 cards in sequence:
  • 1 impetus draw Light Move card, 
  • Light Move card was already played and up, 
  • 2-4 impetus: move 3 armies on roads in Light terrain, 
  • 5 impetus play Heroic Effect card from hand, 
  • 6 impetus play Light Move card from hand, 
  • 7 impetus move "heroically" (combined Heroic Effect with Light Move=double move) 2 hexes on road into Daniz city hex occupied by Undead army.  
  • 8 impetus draw Strength card into hand.  
  • 9 impetus draw Engage in Battle card into hand.  
  • 10 impetus play Engage in Battle card on the Undead army to battle for control of Daniz.
And now my hand had the following cards:  Attack, Strength, Engage in Battle(Strength), and Officer Check.

I was saving the Officer Check card in my hand because I hoped to build a supply depot in Daniz if I captured it.  The Undead army in Daniz had not moved the entire turn and was completely immobile.  I figured it might be a dummy or maybe a small force left to anchor the flank.  Boy, was I wrong.  The sneaky Undead had actually left a large Size 3 Battle Group in the city for reasons known only to the mysterious servants of death.  My aggressive Middle Kingdom knights (Size 2 Battle Group) surged forward and and engaged a larger force in battle.  Sneaky Undead.

So, let's figure out the battle:

We compared Battle Hands.  Undead Jed had an Attack Battle hand with 3 cards (Attack, Heroic Effort(Strength) and Strength).  I had the same size Battle Hand:  Attack, Strength, and Engage In Battle (Strength), but his larger battle group size might cause me some trouble.  We had both selected Attack as our battle strategy so the battle would be an Encounter battle.  Since a battle was engaged, the campaign turn ended.

We then drew cards from the Army Characterization Deck (ACD) to determine the size of our tabletop armies.  Jed pulled a 4+3+7 for 14 units from his army campaign roster strength (not great, the card numbers could be from 2-10).  His Battle Group size advantage (BG 3 to BG 2) gave him an additional pull from the ACD deck and he drew an artillery effect card.  This effect card allows him to select ONE character from his campaign roster instead or using random selection.

I pulled my ACD cards for the Middle Kingdoms army.  My campaign roster contains 25 units.  When I draw ACD cards for campaign roster size, I continue to draw cards until I've drawn a numeric force card for every set of 10 units on my roster.

I drew:

  • 3 card, 
  • Artillery Effect, 
  • 5 card, 
  • Infantry Effect, 
  • Cavalry Effect, 
  • and an 8 card (reduced to a 5 card because the final numerical card can't be more than the 21-25 of the last set of 10 from my roster).  
I was lucky that I drew so many effect cards on my search for my 3 numerical force cards.

So my total is:  13 units (3+5+5(8 reduced to 5).  Artillery Effect allows me to pick a character, Infantry Effect allows me to pick an infantry unit, and Cavalry effect allows me to pick a beast unit, large creature, or cavalry unit.

The campaign roster for Middle Kingdoms is:

*Champion General
*Hero Sub-commander
1. Household Knights
2. Household Knights
3. Household Knights
4. Feudal Knights
5. Feudal Knights
6. Feudal Knights
7. Feudal Knights
8. Sergeants
9. Sergeants
10. Crossbowmen
11. Crossbowmen
12. Hand-gunners
13. Mountaineers
14. Civic Militia
15. Civic Militia
16. Archers of the Guard
17. Mountaineers
18. Civic Militia
19. Civic Militia
20. Ribaldequin organ gun
21. Minotaurs
22. Shire Archers
23. Rex Champion Upgrade
24. Jhone of Orc Hero Upgrade
25. Priest

I picked:
  • Minotaurs (Cavalry Effect)
  • Rex Character Champion Upgrade (Artillery Effect)
  • Archers of the Guard (Infantry Effect)
The remaining 10 units will be chosen randomly:
  • Crossbowmen
  • Feudal Knights
  • Civic Militia
  • Household Knights
  • Organ Gun
  • Priest
  • Feudal Knights
  • Sergeants
  • Handgunners
  • Household Knights
A very strange selection. A sub-commander will also be present automatically.  I was happy to see the Priest included.  He should be useful to the army.  The army seems to be very cavalry-heavy.  Is that good or bad?  It all depends on what the battlefield looks like.  And guess what, TOW will determine that for you too.  That will be the next article.