Thursday 18 September 2014

Advertising Poll Added

I've been thinking for some time about allowing "Adsense" advertising on this blog. The reason is obvious. I could use any money that advertisement might generate to buy more of the shiny stuff - the money would be ring fenced. I can't imagine it will make all that much money. I really have no idea how much money these things make. So, is it worth it? 

The thing is, although I don't mind seeing an ad' or two on the blogs of others I've been led to believe that many people hate it. I wonder how many and how strong the opposition is. Obviously, comments as well as votes would be most welcome.

So, I'm largely leaving it up to you guys. I've set up a poll in the side bar. Please take the time to vote.

A "Yes / Don't care either way" majority will not automatically lead to it happening - it just means I'll look into it more closely. For a handful of figures a year it would not be worth it. For a handful of units, it might. Once a year we could have a poll on what the money should be spent on - that might be fun.




  33 (27%)
  35 (29%)
Don't care either way
  52 (43%)

When it comes to peoples opinions about the inclusion of advertising space on a hobby blog there seems to be a very mixed view. It is, as they say, as clear as mud. I'm actually surprised mostly by the majority who don't care either way. From conversations I've had in the past I expected the vote to be more polarised.

So what does it mean as far as this blog is concerned? It means there will be no advertising space on this hobby blog.

Thank you for taking time to vote and comment. Peace returns to the hustings.

Painting Report - Italian Wars

It might appear that I haven't painted much over the last few months. Certainly, after the hard slog to get the SYW Zorndorf game ready I was in need of a break. I've also been snowed under with work for clients, and still am, so my personal painting has been somewhat limited by available time. I've dabbled, with things like the Cardinal figure conversion, but until about six weeks ago I had painted almost nothing. 

Next year I'll be putting on Marignano 1515 at a new show (for us) in the north (to be announced) and rather than end up with the mad dash of earlier this year I've begun to make an early start on the few hundred figures I'll need. This painting has led to a rather drastic act. As one of the game's requirements is several dozen more skirmish infantry I had to make a final decision on basing. Originally, I had decided to base my skirmish infantry units twelve figures strong on four 60mm x 40mm bases (three figures per base). I can't remember why. Everything else I have based is on a frontage of 45mm, with formed foot four to a base and pike six to a base. 

I have re-based all of my skirmish infantry on 90mm x 45mm bases in units of sixteen, the same as number of figures as there are in my formed missile troops. I have also added quite a few additions. Some of the new painting has provided new units and some has bulked up the unit numbers from twelve to sixteen figure units. 

 Here are all of the figures, new and old, all based on the new bases. I have not changed the basing of my skirmish cavalry, these are new troops.
 Here are the newly painted figures - sixteen cavalry, five units of formed infantry and five units of skirmish infantry.
 There are three units of formed shot. One Italian unit with TAG figures. A unit of Landsknechts mainly comprising OG figures with a couple of Foundry. A unit of Spanish comprising OG figures.
 Two units of formed crossbow using Foundry and OG figures. From the front.
 From the back.
 Two units of mounted arquebusier by TAG (with a Foundry officer to make 16 figures in all). I really like these figures, so I've taken a few pics. Unit 1.
 Unit 2. The Foundry figure is wearing a cloak.
 Both units from above. 45mm frontage, 90mm depth bases give quite a nice 'skirmishing' feel.
 Three units of skirmish crossbow and two units of skirmish shot. The two shot units were bulked up units so only about half of these figures are new. The crossbows are new units, they are a mix of OG and Foundry figures. The shot are a mixture of OG, Foundry and TAG.
 Another pic of the same troops. Shot are Landsknechts and Swiss / Italian.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Solo testing the Harran 1104 scenario - part three.

So we come to latest solo testing session. I played the game for a couple more turns. This is what happened.
 Baldwin's knights supported by Crusading foot sergeants tangle with Saracen heavy and light cavalry cavalry in an attempt to buy some time for the Antiochenes to come up.
 Baldwin's lieutenant, Joscelin, is still in uncontrolled advance and charges into a mass of Saracens under Soqman.
 Bohemund and Tancred are advancing in support as fast as they can and their line is becoming disjointed and vulnerable.
 Baldwin's time is running out. Now flanked, his situation is dire.
 The general situation looks like this. The Eddessans under Baldwin and Joscelin are scattered all over the place and being pressed by overwhelming numbers of  Saracens everywhere. Baldwin's cavalry are destroyed and Baldwin is killed.
 Joscelin's knights are flanked but, somehow, he manages to beat them off. He is cut off from the rest of his force. He is surrounded. 
 Bohemund forms a line at the foot of the hill. Tancred is more tardy (he rolls some rubbish motivation dice). Just across the river....
 ....Joscelin, with losses and in disorder, tries to break out.
  The dice are in his favour yet again!.....
 .....and, by some ungodly miracle, he makes it back to his own lines.
 New lines are forming. I am, BTW, liking this scenario set up less and less: The table edge is becoming a hindrance to free movement.
 Behind the Saracen, an isolated band of foot sergeants is surrounded and pounded to destruction. The Saracens are poised for their final thrust....
.......and that is where I choose to leave this battle because I have learned all I need to know. I have learned:

  • That the special rules regarding all of the contingents largely worked to an acceptable extent. The only one that might need tinkering with is the one regarding the compulsory advance by Baldwin's army (including Joscelin of Turbessel). I think I might change the definition of the Saracen's Stratagem card to an immediate Momentum March (plus one move for infantry and cavalry) card affecting Baldwin's army. This will ensure at least one lurch forward. Baldwin's units must rally or move at full rate on subsequent March cards to move to with the easiest to reach enemy, and then attempt to resolve melee. I think I will keep both Stratagem cards in the deck, but have only the first apply, Hmmmm.
  • I found that Jekermish was overly strong in unit quality. I will change the composition of each of the Saracen forces whilst maintaining the numerical strength of each. The overall numbers and types of units will not change. I will also downgrade some of the command group Motivation Die to D10. Only Soqman and Bohemund will be D12.
  • The sequence decks were quite nicely balanced so I will make no changes there - the new expanded types of card worked nicely.
  • Rivers. The general terrain rules in AS don't work that well for troops in rivers. As a blanket rule I think that there should be a penalty modifier equal to the type of river - e.g. in this battle a type II river gives a down 2 modifier - to all troops in it and the other terrain type modifiers should be ignored. If the river bed is firm, cavalry reduce the penalty by one. Troops defending the bank get the terrain advantage modifier.
  • Finally, I stopped the battle where I did because instead of it being a free flowing battle on a fairly open plain, it became a head on assault, by the Saracen, on an artificial isthmus created by the table space. I need to try to prevent this somehow. The change of axis, largely due to Jekermish's position and direction of attack, will usually create an artificially closed flank. I am going to have to orientate the table differently to extend the Crusader's left rear and / or the position of Jekermish; Jekermish might even be lost as an 'independant' army.  I fear that the game will generally do what it did in the solo test and become an end to end, rather than side to side, battle unless I do something fundamental to the initial set up. 

Friday 12 September 2014

Solo testing the Harran 1104 scenario - part two.

And so the battle began....

 The Saracens pushed their scouts across the river towards the hill. Knowing that coming within 12" of the Antiochenes just beyond the crest would activate them, the scouts were happy to stop at the bottom.

This photo shows a slight change to the shape and position of the river on the Saracen left flank - I've pulled it back a bit to slow the scout's advance. 
The main bulk of Turcoman horse skirmished with the Edessans using 'advance, fire and retire' tactics, effectively firing at closer range whilst the enemy shoots at longer range. 

In Ager Sanguinis the movement isn't actually performed because the cavalry must always end up where it started if it wishes to gain this tactical advantage. Shooting otherwise stops further movement on the sequence card - advance, fire and stop.
 Then the Saracen turned his first Stratagem card and the Eddessans were put into uncontrolled advance. The Crusaders immediately turned a March card and went forward.
 Jekermish decided not to wait for the Eddessans to cross the river. He attacked and put the first unit of Eddessans to flight (turcopoles, right foreground). This was pretty much the end of turn one.
 The Crusading units in 'uncontrolled advance' were marked with 'wheel counters'. However, it wasn't long before they were removed as the Crusaders rallied on command cards. They seemed to rally very easily. They were rolling D8 or D10 vs D8 in the main, so perhaps they were just lucky. This was partly the fault of the Saracen as most of the turcomans had moved too far away to down rate the Crusader's chance of rallying.

Having two Stratagem's helped a great deal in keeping them coming on.
 It was probably a good thing that Jekermish had chosen to advance.
 His cavalry began to pour across the river.
 Jekermish's advance had activated the Antiochenes. Bohemund and Tancred came forward to Baldwin's aid. It is now a race against time.
 They have a long way to go, especially as they are impeded by the move rate of their heavy infantry.
 Not all of the Eddessans rallied. Some were still going forward and had to fight, against the odds, at the river bank.
All of the time the Eddessans were being enveloped. The first of Jekermish's cavalry have crossed the river. Also note the Frankish knights uncontrollably advancing across the river. 

Crunch time is narrowly avoided by the ending of the turn quite early on 'same Army Dice initiative rolls'. It's a good point to stop and do this post. The game will continue..........

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Some interesting new purchases - hakbuts for the Marignano game

Except at the start of a project I rarely post about new purchases. I would normally wait until I'd painted the things and then post the result. But, this morning, I received these figures from Martin S. at Vexillia. They are designed by Copplestone and produced in Italy by Mirliton.
I suppose, given that Copplestone was the designer, I shouldn't be surprised by the quality of these sculpts but, I am. These are just the ticket and I haven't minded, especially now I've seen them in the flesh, paying more than my usual £2 per figure maximum: I'm calling them artillery, and for that you usually pay a premium, so I will pretend that my arse is duly covered! 

Service from Vexillia was, as usual, excellent - Martin is so organised that he could probably herd cats.

I'm going to base these 'artillery pieces' in pairs on 90mm square bases. I'm going to add a few spare figures to bulk them out - in this case by Foundry, TAG and OG, one of each. The Copplestone figures are the two figures with each hakbut. You get 2 hakbuts and four figures per pack. I think, from memory, the packs were £11 each.

I'm probably going to buy a few more of these. At Marignano the French fielded 300 of the things. I think I might field them mixed in with the French crossbow units (for flavour) to cut down on the ridiculous numbers I would need otherwise. We will see.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Solo testing Harran 1104 AD - Battle Report. Part 1.

The Battle of Harran is one of those scenarios that could be set up and played in several ways.

  • It could be done as a rigidly programmed game where the players have little chance of changing what actually happened tactically on the historical day. 
  • It could be done as a straight forward encounter war game where only the initial deployments are used, everything is 'known' and the game is simply fought without special rules. 
  • It could be done as a partially programmed game where what actually happened become what Featherstone referred to as 'military possibilities'; a game where the players have some control of their army's tactical progress unless a historical event is activated by chance and supersedes it.
Of course, I'm going to go for the third option. But, here's the rub, as a scenario it will be the hardest option to balance.

Even before the battle has started, I've changed the position of some flanking terrain. I've moved the village, farm land and river on the Saracen's right flank. Moving terrain in this scenario is easily done; although a short description of the battlefield exists its exact location is unknown. Indeed, a village does not feature in the description of the battlefield at all. I put one there to hinder any ambition Jekermish might have of making an unhistorical wide flanking movement. 

Jekermish still doesn't really have this option but now he has the option to attack on the opposite side of the river obliquely, rather than lie in ambush. 

I've decided to use Ager Sanguinis 2 rules because it is easier to add a 'military possibility' programme to them and because I like the changes to the sequence decks. Before you ask, very little of Ager Sanguinis 2 is written down. Ager Sanguinis 2 is Ager Sanguinis with major changes to the sequence decks and minor changes to the rules based on game developments in Ager Proelii, which itself was a development of Ager Sanguinis rules tailored for the Punic Wars. I'll try, where appropriate, to outline rule changes in this test report.

Initially, I'm going to try the scenario with these four special rules:
  • All of Jekermish's units will be discovered if any of his units move or shoot, or a Crusader unit crosses the river and comes within 72 inches. 
  • All of Bohemund's units will be discovered if any of his units move or shoot, or a Saracen unit comes within 12 inches.
  • Bohemund's units cannot move until discovered, any of Baldwin's units reach the river, Saracen close order cavalry cross the river, or Jekermish is discovered.
  • When a Saracen "Stratagem" sequence card is turned, Baldwin's units are in uncontrolled advance until rallied from pursuit. Whilst in uncontrolled pursuit, Baldwin's units must move full allowable rate, rolling for motivation normally, on all Crusader "March" cards, attempting to close and melee with the nearest unengaged enemy unit.
I'm quite happy with three of the special rules but I'm unsure about one of them. I'm not very confident in the rule regarding Bohemund's movement restrictions. I'm not sure if they are too restrictive or not restrictive enough. Historically, when Baldwin's army made it's unplanned advance over the river, Bohemund decided not to support his ally and, whilst Baldwin and his army were being slaughtered, he marched away. But, that wouldn't make for much of a game so the military possibility of his participation must be made likey - we'll see.

Because I'm playing this game as a solo scenario I must take two decisions, for fair play, before the game starts. 

  • Bohemund will move to support Baldwin at the first opportunity.
  • Jekermish will move to attack if Baldwin's units do not reach the river before both the end of the turn following the play of the second Saracen "Stratagem" card.

On non related Fiasco fronts, I'm busy painting stuff for the Marignano 1515 demo game next year, and my Italian Wars collection. I've knocked up about a hundred new figures so far, mostly shot, crossbowmen, and some rather nice mounted arquebsier. I'll post some pics soon. 

I've also made some new, and for a change interesting, lead mountain purchases, more anon.

Thursday 4 September 2014

A game for Fiasco 2014

 This year Fiasco is on 26th October at New Dock Hall, The Royal Armouries, Leeds.

This is a regular fixture for The Ilkley Lads and we will attend this year with a Crusades demo game. It has been a busy year so we are going to do something that requires little extra work. We will do a scenario based on the Battle of Harran 1104 AD. 

I've just set it up to check table sizes. It fits very nicely on an easily manageable 12 x 6.

 There are five distinct 'battle groups' in this battle. In the centre Baldwin of Edessa faces Soqman of Mardin. Soqman will try and draw Baldwin across the river. Baldwin will try and draw in Soqman.
 Soqman has already sent his Turcomans across the river and sent more horse archers off to his left flank (in front of the 'yurt' camp) to scout a large hill to Baldwin's right. If Soqman can entice Baldwin to attack across the river he will hold them with his heavy cavalry until.......
 ........his ally Jekermish of Mosul, hidden in gently rolling scrub land, launches a flank attack into the hapless Edessan army. The Battle will be over in short order and Baldwin will be captured for ransom - cue evil laugh. 

It's just a pity that there are so few Christians for the slave markets, the Edessans have come alone; or have they........
 ....... because Saracens are not the only ones capable of dirty tricks. Crusaders have a few up their sleeves too. Bohemond of Antioch, smelling a chance to expand his own domain has joined with Baldwin to take the rich city of Harran. The crusaders will draw the Saracens across the river, then when they are fully engaged with Baldwin, Bohemond will launch a flank attack from behind a hill on Baldwin's right flank. Before nightfall the Saracen leaders will be in chains and his army destined for the slave markets - cue evil laugh.

Fact is stranger than any fiction. If I'd made this scenario up you would think it too contrived to be realistic - but it is true, at the Battle of Harran this was the basic set up.

We will use Ager Sanguinis rules for the battle with a few extra scenario rules to govern the hidden deployments and battle plans.

Just for the eye candy, here are a few close ups. If you see this game at the show, remember to say hi.