Saturday 31 March 2012

The Meat of the Affair: All Forces Engaged

The Swiss Pike are moving (see below just out of camera shot to the top of the picture) and the remaining Swiss skirmishers are hurled forwards wit reckless abandonment. One succumbs to more "lead" from the Maximilian shot, the other is removed from play by activating the Doppelsoldner (skirmish) unit from its opportunity.and charging down the last remaining Swiss crossbowmen. However it is a Phyric victory as the Doppelsoldners are too removed from play (skirmish in close combat are removed from play). This also means I have not previously been playing the rules quite right!

Victory Point Count:  Maximilian 4 VD to the Swiss 1 VD, so far so good!

The cavalry versus infantry battle on the Maximilian left is bloody as both sides trade blows, but nothing is near to breaking yet (see below):

In an attempt to break the deadlock the Maximilian mounted crossbow (Impact 1 so they are capable of initiating close quarter combat by charging) slide in for a flank attack (see below), however the sucking melee continues. The vulnerable flank of a Swiss Pike Block can be seen tantalizingly close but valiantly protected by the Swiss halberdiers (see below top right). The Swiss infantry are doing a good job!

Those Swiss Pikes are going to hit something soon (see below). Being "A" Class troops they inevitably seem to move three bounds across the table. Frightening to behold and they pack a hell of o punch when they land.

Sure enough the Swiss Pike finally gets to grips with an annoying unit of Maximilian 'shot' (Harquebusiers to be technically correct). Despite being mortally damaged, the 'shot' holds together for a turn which is vital (see below). 

Crash (see below)! Finally the 'big boys' meet head-to-head. Despite the physical size of the Maximilian Pike Bock it is outclassed in quality and number of attack dice (its eight against the Swiss eleven). However it was saved from a much worse fate (six to eleven) by being on 'opportunity' and thus counter-charging and gaining its 'two' Impact attack dice. This upset the Swiss calculations and deferred the immediate break through the Swiss were hoping for. 

This sacrifice of the Landsknects to the Swiss buying time was vital as over on the Maximilian right flank the Swiss Halberdiers had finally succumbed to the inevitable (see below). Note the Maximilian mounted crossbows are now "annoying" the Swiss heavy cavalry (see below top left,  just off camera):   

Victory Point Count:  Maximilian 6 VD to the Swiss 1 VD, on paper excellent, but the Swiss break point is "14" which means until they suffer losses from the Pike Block (where their General also is) their army morale will not falter and they will continue fighting. Another downside is that its Swiss Pike party time next!

Next: Is "Push of Swiss Pike" time ...

Friday 30 March 2012

The Clatter of Dice: Opening Rounds

The two armies face each other across a flat plain. The Maximilian army in a defensive posture, its left flank resting on an impassable feature while its right flank protected by a "Wing of Horse". As seen from the Swiss point of view the Landsknecht Pike Block forms the number one 'target priority' for the Swiss Pikes (see below):

Two units of  Swiss crossbowmen (skirmishers) march across the field to try and disrupt the Landsknecht formation in advance of the Swiss Pike's inevitable attack (see below). The Maximilian crossbowmen stand their ground and suffer disruption (green poker chip), but the units of shot on opportunity (black poker chip) return fire: 

The results: One Swiss crossbow unit simply evaporates (see below):  

Shortly to be followed by another (see below) after a hail of lead decimates their ranks (just good dice and a lousy cohesion test for the Swiss player). The Swiss player suddenly learns a to have a very healthy respect for Maximilian shot (especially when the said 'shot' units have been upgraded to have four attack dice). One wonders what the other two units of Swiss crossbow skirmishers must be thinking (see top middle below). Without making any impact 50% of their force are already dead and they know will simply pushed forwards over the dead bodies of their comrades. The 'aggressive' Swiss player knows his army cannot wait around to be shot to pieces at a distance but must close to combat.

Meanwhile on the Maximilian left flank the Germanic Men-At-Arms position themselves to attack the Swiss Halberdier formations and are screened by the mounted crossbowmen (making a dangerous outflanking move to the far left) and (skirmish) Harquebusiers disrupting the Swiss ranks (see green poker chip in photo below):   

A sucking melee develops drawing in first the Germanic MAA (see below): 

Then second the "noble" (but not so smart) Burgundian Knights (see below):

Disruption and chaos reigns. Over to the middle of the battlefield ominously the pennants of the Swiss Pike start to move forward ...

Thursday 29 March 2012

Renaissance Impetus Battle: Maximillian v Swiss (300 points)

The Swiss Army (My Opponent): 

The "bad" guys, aka the enemy. An army of Renaissance Swiss (see below), those two crack Pike Blocks are deceptively small but perfectly formed killing squares ('A' class, 6 + 1 + 1 + 3I = 11 attack dice). They have four skirmish crossbow units to shield them from prying missiles and two units of halberdiers to cover their flanks. The Swiss Knights form an emergency reserve unit of hard Impetus enabled cavalry. A professional looking army. The only good news is that because they are so expensive there are not many of them.The BAD news about this army is that to defeat it you have to kill at least TWO 'layers' of pikemen! (Note: Check out the lovely banners, click on the picture)

The Maximilian Landsknechts Army (Me):

My "Wing of Horse" (see below), the "Four 'light' Horsemen of the Apocalypse" with mounted crossbows, shielding the Germanic Men-At-Arms from the unwanted attentions of enemy skirmishers, a unit of skirmish Harquebusiers doing likewise for my noble (as opposed to shrewd and intelligent) Burgundian knights. The pity about Renaissance battles is that the tough Impetus enabled cavalry always manage to find armoured infantry types (armed with halberds or pikes) that negate their treasured Impetus shock factor. The Germanic MAA are to be feared because of their deep formation which imparts a persistent staying power in the attack.    

A 'cross' of Pike (See below). Three layers of Maximilian Landsknechts (still only 8 attack dice to the Swiss 11 and they have TWO pike blocks) and two sleeves of shot (upgraded to 'four' attack dice each ... ow), with a skirmish unit of crossbowmen and a Doppelsoldner unit (a skirmish unit with impact?) out front to soak up the 'interest' sure to be visited by the Swiss skirmish units. I may even work out how to use these Doppelsoldners 'legally' this battle (I'll explain later).

Look, I've been reading some history books (see below). Place your artillery behind an impassable lake or bog so it can shoot all day with impunity. The newly painted artillery stands 'wanting' for an enemy target. The camp behind the artillery is just paper card stock with a few random spare bases floating on them. After painting the Renaissance 'General' [Charles V] figure these camp bases will be next up on the painting table. 

Next: Let battle commence.
My ten units to the Swiss nine, quality versus quantity

Wednesday 28 March 2012

A Gun For All Seasons

I finally managed to paint and base a second artillery piece for my Renaissance "Impetus" Heavy Artillery unit (see below). A classic from the Games Workshop 'Empire' fantasy range, but a good enough match to the Renaissance for me. The 'new' gun is the left hand side, a dirtier bronze than the pristine one on the right.

It was great fun painting theses fellows as the old 'Empire' figures are full of character (see below). I used the standard three tone technique: Base, shade and highlight from a mixture of my end of life Games Workshop Citadel paint collection, their Vallejo replacements and the very useful Anita Acrylics colours.    

Multiple models in a battery or formation just reinforces how difficult these things would be to move and helps the player refrain from fantastic wheels of more than 45 degrees.

I just hope these chaps do me proud on the battlefield, well painted troops have a tendency  to rout going by  my experience ;)

Friday 23 March 2012

The Hun breaks and makes a run for home

Combat Finale:

The combat takes a turn for the worst for the RFC, a bloody splash of flame and a Sopwith Pup spirals earthward (see below):

Off camera the pilot of the "Pink Terror" decides to bug-out, his plane barely flyable, but he loses all experience from the mission. Meanwhile the most unlikeliest of RFC heroes, the RE8, comes to the rescue tailing a German scout hunting N17. In fact the picture below shoes a string of consecutive "chasers" RE8 to German Scout to N17 to Albatross (see below): 

"Ye gads" the RE8 has bagged (another) Hun (see below):

Nursing a still smoking N17 Pierre maneuvers head-to-head for another machine gun to machine gun duel (see below). However outnumbered three (of which two are the terrible N17's) to two the Boche Albatrosses now think better of it and the Hun duo scoot "doing a runner".

In doing so the Entente break an embarrassing series of Imperial German Air Service wins (having scored two planes two 'downed' to one in return - the 'Pink Terrors' bunk counting the same as a down as it crash landed behind Entente lines) and brings about a strategic shift in the air power above the trenches. The Germans are only deemed to have a 'marginal advantage' and what is more have two of their most experienced air-crew about to become POW's.

The champagne corks start popping at the RFC mess with the French pilots and their N17's being toasted as "putting the wind up the Huns" when all of a sudden the alarm bell rings ...

To be continued ...

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Where is the Hun? Answer: Behind you! Two German scouts fall upon the French N17's, nearly but not quite in machine gun range, but they have the advantage.

Well at least we are getting to use the "tailing" rules, though it's not very nice being tailed (see below). Luckily for the Frenchies we are at a sufficient altitude different not quite to reach:

Pierre La Flanne performs a twisting "Immelman" to reverse course and go head-to-head with his antagonist Albatross DIII. Luckily the German plays "an invalid sequence of cards" which have to be revoked and translated into "go straight" (see below):    

A game of 'chicken' ensues, accompanied to the staccato chatter of machine guns. The Albatross pilot noticeably winces taking his damage cards while Pierre is astonished to see his fuselage become look like a sieve but yet still fly (see below):    

Pierre thanks his lucky stars and breaks into a wry smile, but then his blood freezes as evil dark smoke issues forth from his engine ... would this smoke suddenly break into a deadly fire (see below)? The only good news was that the Albatross hunting Pierre was being hunted himself (see below a Sopwith Pup in the top right of the picture):

Where can Pierre run to? Where is that big, fat friendly RE8 with a lovely rear gunner in it when you need it?

Monday 19 March 2012

The Dance of Death Whirls in the Skies


Pierre Le Flanne stares the infamous "Pink Terror" in the face and like a mad French Gascon of old charges blindly at his enemy. The chatter of his machine guns turning the evil German grin into a Munch-like visage of a scream as cards were unexpectedly handed to him from the "A" deck (a nastier place to get them from than the usual "B"). This Boche had not tangled with a Nieuport 17 before (see below). The N17 has two guns. Hits were scored on both planes and on they flew past each other. The German chortled as Pierre was now at the mercy of the Hun's rear gunner a renown marksman. Ominously the Spandau clicked at the ready, the next 'round' would be a German one at the back of Le Flanne's head.    

To the right a Sopwith Pup (yes please ignore the third wing) takes on a Albatross DIII at long range (see below). Putter, putter and exchange of greeting's cards but no "visible" damage. One of the joys of the WoW game is the uncertainty of not knowing what has exactly been "done" to the enemy. Somebody can accrue a lots of 'damage cards' but actually take little or no damage. Likewise, you can be unlucky enough to pick up just one single stray bullet from an odd, unexpected angle and explode! Cruel, cruel fate!  

To the left of Pierre a mirror dogfight exchange takes place, another Albatross DII and another Sopwith Pup (this time with the correct number of wings) exchange their officers greeting cards (see below). The only thing to note was that the German pilot was called Kevin which I thought was somehow quite cute, "Kevin the Junker" minor nobility no doubt. Apparently there's a lot of it about (as in nobility) on the Western Front in 1916. (They are mostly dead by 1918.)

To be honest Pierre was not looking forward to the next round as two Germans were literally gunning for him, but as his luck (of the devil) would have it Pierre found himself in the "blind spot" of the "Pink Terror's" rear gunners arc (see below). Oh, how the German howled in range at the umpire at the unfairness of it all. Tough. Even better the Albatross also had misjudged his firing angle and was also "out of arc". Yippee! Trouble was that depending on what the next card (Note: players choose three movement cards in advance) the Albatross had selected, the Jerry could well end up on Le Flanne's tail (see below) and thus allow himself a subtle card selection advantage. The most oft quoted remark in WoW is that you always hate your third card as it invariably ends up being worst choice for the given situation. Some people literally chose at random. You never expect that the most sensible move would be ... "x". Pierre also didn't like the thought of being too near that lumbering great big RE8 that had showed up. To be fair it was hitting the German planes. Note: Another N17 model has been replaced by its card and is sitting underneath the "Pink Terror" at a different altitude. Yes the air-space is getting quite congested (see below).

The situation after the next move (see below). "Hell's Teeth" that RE8 does like to come close in by to the friendly Scout pilots. There is 80% of the Entente's airborne assets stuck inside a six inch by six inch playing area. The N17's take special care to be at a different altitude of the RE8 by climbing as fast as they can.

But where is the Hun? (That's not a good sign!)

Pierre Le Flanne takes to the Air: WoW WWI

Dawn Patrol: The Sortie Starts

Pierre Le Flanne breathed in the crisp morning air. Taking off in the dawn light was invigorating as ever. Today was unusual as for the first time he flew in a mixed Entente formation. The British losses had been so crippling recently that the RFC had appealed for French assistance. To answer this call a flight of Nieuport 17's had arrived at a ramshackle Flemish field and were now heading to meet their reciprocal Boche "Dawn Patrol". Pierre's N17 took starboard station off a RNAS Sopwith Pup (See below: Note ignore the extra wing in the photo below, we "imagine" when we don't have the exact 'match' in planes)  

A peculiar addition to the four Scouts was an RE8, referred to as the "Blooming Big Gun Bus" whose aggressive spirit has earned its praise both sides of the lines (see below). The crew likes mixing it with the fighter pilots despite the cumbersome attitude of the plane. Rumour has it that the twin-seater fighter plane is the future but Pierre likes to live in the singe-seat present. 

The aggressive spirit is admirable but good navigation is also a valuable survival trait. The RE8 in the opening moves found itself at the same altitude and veering into the path of one of Pierre's N17 comrades. Clear thinking is required to avoid a tragic mistake, pity about the distraction of these German fellows who made an appearance (see below). Three single-seaters (at least two Albatross DIII's) and the infamous "Pink Terror" a Roland "Whaleback" I am told.

"Gawd Forbid" the English RE8 has mounted the French N17! Crunch rip, tearing fabric and ensnared air-frames. The five to four advantage looks like soon to be turning to a three to four disadvantage! The Entente players look on in horror. Mid-air collisions were a part-and-parcel danger to daily front line flying. Without being a simulation exercise this is becoming statistically too realistic an experience (see below).

The "rending" continues, more damage are accumulated. Instead of a quick kiss it was more of a long embrace (see below) as the 'lovers' do not wish to be parted. 

But part they do still in some form of flying shape (I think).

My attention was taken at this time by a different matter. That of combat with the "Pink Terror". One advantage the N17 has over the Sopwith Pup is that it carries "two" machine guns. One firing through the propeller mounted on the top of the engine cowling, the other lighter beast from atop the upper wing strut. This pilot of the "Pink Terror" was slightly taken aback by this .. "Bon"!

Sunday 18 March 2012

Time is the Ultimate Enemy: A Drawn State of Affairs!

The battle continues ....

The previously lackluster Harquebusiers of the right flank stepped-up and discharged a devastating short range volley into the cotton clad invaders (I can call them "invaders" as determined by dice roll it was found that the New Kingdom Egyptian's had a folly for invading sixteenth Century Italy). One minute there was a unit of Egyptian Infantry there then next they were there all lying down in a big heap (see below):   

I put it down to the strange and magical "Harquebusier" effect. Renaissance (2) Chariots (1). To the right side of this exchange an epic battle between the Germanic MAA and Chariots unfolded. Blows were evenly traded, but the telling tale was that the deep MAA formation remained fresh while the Egyptians waned, soon to bend then ultimately break. Before that time however a 'fresh' Chariot eyed the Harquebusiers with a deadly charge in mind (see below).

The grist of the combat was taking place in the center where the Pike Block lay. A unit of Egyptian heavy infantry were shattered and removed from play but a layer of brave pike were removed, Renaissance (3) and Chariots (2). To the left two "continuing melees" were ongoing. The innermost was the sleeve of shot (Harquebusiers again) had ground down some heavy Egyptian infantry to a "two dice to one" combat in the Renaissance favour, though both sides were down to their handbags by this point. A mute point for the Egyptian was that his Generalissimo was tucked away in this very unit, not where I had assumed (in a reserve Chariot formation at the back). This "Son of Pharaoh" had taken a position of honour but was now looking a tad nervous as he was fresh out of 'Dice of Destiny' (re-rolls to non-Impetus players). Further to the left my brave, battered, bruised and bloody Burgundian Knights, they were still at it, though now down to half-strength. As usual they had adopted a bloody-mindset, caring naught but for their honour. The Egyptian archers were waning but had not "gone" yet, each side was waiting for the "killing blow" from the other..  

So there it hung in the balance. All depended upon the next two or three rounds, but time was our master not our slave and both Generals were tugged homeward. Could my Great Cannon and short range Harquebusier fire slay the rampant Egyptian Chariot? Would the flagging Egyptian left collapse or hold? Would the Pike Block turned upon the next Egyptian Heavy Infantry units (worn by the previous attention of my Great Cannon)? Would the Germanic MAA surge forward into the melee afresh knocking aside their fading Chariot foe? Or ... would the Pike Blocks flank be exposed to a devastating Chariot attack and enveloping "cotton clad heavy" infantry attack? Who knows ... a bloody drawn fixture it remained, but also a great Impetus learning day out.   

As the whistle calls time and the game stops, "Lady G" summons both generals back to their respective "hearth and homes" for a bit of R&R. Apologies to one and all but her modesty was saved by "MS Paint" application and a block layer of grey pixels ;)

Renaissance Army to Do List:
  • Second Games Workshop Empire Great Cannon to make, in order to "fill up" the artillery base
  • Paint Charles V (HRE) to be used as the General de Renaissance
  • Create cultured vignettes for Renaissance "Camp" bases (Redoubt Enterprises have some excellent drunken Landschnecktsand and a formidable "recruiting table" scene, Irregular Miniatures always have some interesting figures to chuck in but alas I am at a complete loss to source Renaissance harlots ... a Google search to be wary of if ever there was one!)

Saturday 17 March 2012

The Hanging Flank: Chariots to Your Right

Pharaoh calls upon his elite Chariots to come to his rescue and challenge the flank of my Pike Phalanx (damn their wheels and 5 "Attack Dice", yes a historical period super-stat miss-match methinks but that goes with the territory of an "open period" game, [and they are still fun to play]). The movement on the Renaissance right flank started thus (see below):

The Chariots move in (see above) and then see away a band of Renaissance Harquebusier Skirmishers (see below). Score card: Chariots (1) Renaissance (0), not going too well as remember I also have a bruised bunch of mounted crossbow (did I really call them The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse'?) on the Renaissance left flank from a previous encounter with a bunch of javelin-men I underestimated.

Meanwhile the Renaissance Pike have moved up menacingly to assault Egyptian Center (see below). Already my noble Bugundian Knights have caused the Egyptians a "tummy flutter" moment by attacking the right flank of the Egyptian Line. That "tummy flutter" moment turned into Egyptian unrestrained hilarity as the Knights bounced off in disorder (decorum please gentlemen). Obviously the Renaissance equivalent of a German WWII 'Tiger Tank' does not like fighting men in "cotton white skirts" with reed bows. Some semblance of respect was regained when the Knights disposed of the annoying javelin-men when they had the cheek to try mix it hand-to-hand, trying methinks to get the Knights disordered. A calculated gamble that backfired. Scorecard: Renaissance (1) Chariots (1).  

Note in the above photograph the Pike Block has started its eagerly awaited assault. The Egyptian skirmishers guarding the front of the Egyptian main fighting line have been stripped away and retreating in disorder, stunned by the ferocity of the "Doppelsoldner" assault (Skirmish troops with an Impact of 3). The initial part of the plan worked perfectly however such is their aggression (and the lure of the Impact capability of the unit in attack) is that they overplayed "their hand" somewhat and lost out in a dice exchange with the main Egyptian line (hence the casualty marker and disorder). Nothing was lost though, as all was now set up for the "Push of Pike" next go. Dithering to the right hand side of the Pike Block its protective sleeve of shot had been delayed by the disordering effect of "sustained" Egyptian archery fire ("darken the skies"). Only through "good" Renaissance Generalship 'rally rolls' was this disorder finally removed. The consequence of this being the Harquebusier formation lagged slightly behind the rest of the Pike Block which turned out in the end to be quite fortunate (see below).

A ferocious "mounted" melee had broken out on the right flank. The Germanic Mounted M-A-A were slogging it out with a unit of Pharaoh's finest Chariots. While there was stalemate as they heaved, prodded and shoved, the Pike Block's flank was still secure. Unfortunately the Egyptians were intent on bringing up more infantry and trying to release additional chariot formations into the center of the battlefield. Those 'lagging and malingering' Harquebusiers suddenly became very useful indeed.

Friday 16 March 2012

The Clash of Spears

The "Sons of the Enlightenment" (Renaissance) meet the "Hawks of the Pharaoh" (New Kingdom Egyptians)? Er, that's a relief for a moment I thought it was an army of The Tomb Kings instead. Studying the gait of the figures I notice they have a certain retro feel to them. I am duly informed that they are some forty years old, nearly as old as myself! This bizarre match-up is one of the joys of "bring and army" and have a fight ... still I just want to learn the rules so one army is as good as another for that. In reality would an ancient army stood five minutes against gunpowder, methinks not, but here the statistics only pertain to relative effectiveness, so amongst the ancient papyrus warriors there lies potentially hidden killer VBU statistics.   

The armies line up (see above).

Pharaoh has Spears, Skirmishers and a stack of powerful (in ancient times) chariots to ride down unwary foes. All clad a little too lightly for even a warm Italian summer (see above). The bulk of Pharaoh's Spear, Bow and Skirmish foot with a man (I presumed wrongly) as their General in the background (see below).

Pharaoh stayed static as I pounded his infantry and captiously advanced my central Pike and left flank (see below). In theory I could have stayed back for a while but these "sand lovers" looked a pushover (remember the stats a little voice in my head warned but to no avail). 

Keen to see how my mounted crossbow performed I pushed them into missile range, only to be ambushed by cotton clad javelin infantry (see below). 

My perception of how these "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" could easily draw away from any danger was flawed as a roll of bad dice rather showed them up. They subsequently retired rather sheepishly to a safe distance (see below).

Meanwhile the killing block of Pike and Burgundian Knights maneuvered into position (see below). So far Pharaoh had been content to sit back and lob a few arrows and javelins to try and disrupt the attack, rather feebly. However the though of a large pike block colliding with his front line infantry stirred the "Eagle of the Dessert" into action.

There was a sudden movement to the left of the Egyptian line as Pharaoh's chariots rolled forward with great aplomb ...