Muskets and Tomahawks and Flintloque

Shakos and Bayonets is the Napoleonic supplement for Muskets and Tomahawks. The base rules are still required to play as are a set of cards, official, proxied or made from the pdf file on Studio Tomahawks’ website. The Rebels and Redcoats supplement already covers the 1812 war in North America so it would be possible to run Napoleonic battles without the new book. The new card load out is different with the addition of 2 types of cavalry and changes in the infantry names and card quantities.

Shakos and Bayonets has lists for the French, British, Austrians, Spanish, Prussians and Russians. There is a also a generic minor nations list. The Portuguese are part of the British list. There are no stats for Ottomans. There are no specific rules for allies, for example stiffening the Spanish with some British but something could be worked out by customising the card deck.

The rules gave an opportunity to trot out Flintloque figures that have been boxed up since about 1998. Enough figures were found for about 300 points of Spanish and 500 of French and British. A solid coat of varnish has left them in good condition if overly shiny. They have now all had a shot of matt varnish. The Orks had been given green flesh. This seemed reasonable for Orks at a time when there was no cheap Internet and few colour images for inspiration. The flesh has now been over-painted pink to make the models look a little more ‘human’ at a distance. A full strip and repaint would have brought out more detail but that would be almost as much work as painting new models. The Flintloque figures are vaguely 35mm but as they represent Orcs, Elves and other fantasy races the proportions are all over the place. The castings are still available from Alternative Armies and there is usually a selection on eBay (many at higher prices than buying new from Alternative). It is pretty much a buyer’s market. The reason that your author still has Flintloque figures is due to a consistent failure in selling them off. A unit of dwarves did manage to make their way to a gamer who specialised in collecting the little folk. The quality of the models is spotty. The best have a certain charm reflecting the modelling style of the Wallace and Gromit films. Some of the worst have been re-modeled or dropped from Alternative’s line. Older versions of the Flintloque rules can be found amongst the Alternative Armies free downloads, look for the ‘free files stacks‘. The Elves and Orcs just about pass for historical but some of the Flintloque races such as the Goblins, Dogs and Toads are way off the scale. The Russians are undead and werewolves; so to start off we will stick to Spain.

This image is of a Reiver 28mm wagon. It looks acceptable by the French elves although the original heavy horses have shrunk to being ponies.

Here is the convoy scenario from Shakos and Bayonets. The wagon contains gunpowder and might blow up. The French are escorting the wagon but some of their troops have become separated from the road convoy. The wagon and its escort move on a clock card and the game runs until the 6th red clock card. As the deck is shuffled after the 3rd clock card drawn it is possible although extremely unlikely that after the 1st 6 cards every single card drawn could be a clock. Although unlikely the length of the game and how quickly the wagon moves are quite random. The size of the deck will affect this and it is governed by the variety of troop types fielded by each side. The wagon defender should prefer a small deck, hoping to rush the wagon through the board. In this scenario it would be best affected by running light cavalry only. Fast enough to get ahead of the wagon and keeping the deck size small will make the wagon move more often. This is a very reasonable convoy escort detail but not the best for a balanced game.

Trying it all out at 300 points; so on the small side for Muskets and Tomahawks. A unit of Spanish line (12) 2 of guerillas (6) and 1 of lancers (6) with 2 leaders. The Spanish could have fielded militia but the line unit stats were ropey enough. The lancers are recruits so rubbish but cheap. The French had 1 leader, 2 units of line (8)(centre company troops of a light regiment) , 1 guarding the wagon and 2 of voltigeurs (5).

This layout was fought over twice and seemed to fit the bill. An isolated finca surrounded by orchards and vegetable fields. As a game it worked less well as the fields hampered movement except for the lights and guerillas who had the scouts trait. This meant that most forces moved up and down the road. The hedge system also made it difficult for the wagon to move off road, either to avoid a Spanish block or for the Spaniards to capture it and drive the wagon away and off the road.

Trying for a more open set up here with lanes allowing the wagon to more easily get off road and reach the opposite board edge. The attacker has entry points on 2 board edges. Here the wagon finds the main road blocked and turns onto the side track (not benefiting from the road movement bonus) towards the edge furthest from the Spanish entry points.

The only unit that can catch the wagon are the lancers who bravely self destruct on it as it turns and heads for the exit board edge. A re-run of the game saw a similar result with few casualties and the wagon making its way off board, well ahead of its own escorts.

The problem is the relative speed of the wagon. It moves when a clock card is drawn; 8″ on road and 6″ off. There will always be 3 clock cards in a turn so except for terrain effects it will move 24″ or 18″ unless the path to the board edge is blocked. An infantry unit would draw 4 cards in a turn at best. Probably less due to shuffling and maybe more from activating through command points. 4 moves of 6″ with the road bonus would give 24″. A more likely case would be without the road or even with a terrain penalty as units chase the wagon through rough terrain. In the gunpowder scenario shooting at the wagon has the risk of it blowing up so the game becomes one of position with the ambusher trying to get units into blocking positions. The chance of additionally winning a melee and escorting the wagon away is low.

Having got the table and troops out here is a go at the first skirmish scenario from the main Muskets & Tomahawks rule book. The only force change is to ditch the guerilla leader and 1 of his men in favour of 4 more regulars and deploying the 16 Spanish regulars as 2 units of 8. The guerillas are skirmish troops, tending to run back rather than rout when failing morale. This is easily reversed so they do not get a great benefit from their leader. The ‘forward boys’ card is unlikely to come up before every shuffle making the leader less use than 3 more boots on the ground. Also a unit of 12 is a poor size as it needs 1 more command point to shift than a unit of 11. 8 is a good sized unit for line although it loses the juicy close order bonus when reduced to 5.

The troops deploy around their entry points. It is not clear exactly what this entails but they have been placed close enough but not overlapping. The sheep and cows are objectives. To win a side must control 2 out of 3 on a deck shuffle.

The Spanish lancers gallop forwards; soon to fall back under French fire.

Elsewhere the action hots up with scouting troops in the fields and line along the main road. The Spanish line get off a devastating volley on their French opposite numbers. The French commander runs off forcing the French to pay an extra point for all command point expenditures. The pig has appeared from the ‘standard found’ random event. There are command points for carrying it off but not enough to offset the cost of the unit that captures it.

The Spanish keep up the volley fire. There is another firefight between the guerilla and voltigeur units.

The Spanish line manages to turn and hose down the 2nd unit of French line. Note that there is another unit of Spanish line behind the first trying to nudge their way round and avoiding the path of the volley fire. The Spanish guerillas now control 2 objectives and win the game.

The message here is that even rubbish infantry can do well with volley fire if they have the close order trait and have a touch of luck with the dice. The lancers were consistently rubbish although they do look good, the unicorns might not be historic. They would have done better had they remembered that they had pistols as well as lances. The Flintloque figures as a whole looked OK. After 20+ years an order has gone off to Alternative Armies and they will be treated to another 12 new Elf models to buff up the Spanish army. These could run as guerillas or militia or even pad out the regulars considering the Spanish supply system and these being fantasy Napoleonics.

For Whom The Dice Rolls In 6mm

‘For Whom The Dice Rolls’ are rules for Brigade or Divisional games in the Spanish Civil War. Each base is half a company. The unit of manoeuvre is a battalion; that might be 8 bases although part of a unit can be split off from the main body at some cost of retaining control. The rules examples use 15mm figures in bases of 3 with an additional command base for infantry units. The command base is purely used to govern how spread out a unit is and could be ignored.

Your author has 15mm WW2 French, Russian and Finnish models based for Flames of War which could see service here for the Republic but lacks a suitable Nationalist force. To try out the system and see how many or few units are needed for a workable game Irregular 6mm strips will be used. A problem that any army built for Bolt Action, Chain of Command or other 1:1 systems will have is a lack of support weapons. Larger guns and all aircraft can be held off-board but at Brigade level assets such as HMGs, mortars and smaller guns would be needed in larger numbers. At full strength one or two models per battalion; depending on the basing used.

The 6mm models here do have just enough support assets having been built up for similar scaled rules in the 1990s. The SCW Irregular 6mms are not their best in this scale. They are cast as strips of 3 on thick bases which would take significant effort to remove and re-base. The SCW range is reasonably comprehensive and models from their WW1 and WW2 range can expand it. Unfortunately the WW2 infantry are cast 4 not 3 to a base making for some awkward re-basing to put them back into use. The models look OK from a distance, close up details are unclear. Guns are the best models but the limbers are blocky. Trucks are acceptable but the tanks less so. As an alternative Baccus do WW1 in 6mm, at this scale many of the models could be used for the SCW.

6mm works best with larger numbers of figures on base sizes approximating those used at 15mm or 28mm. It does have the advantage of getting a game in on a limited space. The relative size taken up by markers is greater than at larger scales. The dice and tokens here would easily fit on single 15mm or 28mm half-company bases. The best plan for painting 6mms is to use bright colours and accent select details such as tassles, berets and flesh areas. Any attempt to show real detail requires painting on what is not there and would not be seen from more than a short distance away. The models shown here are not a particularly good example of this painting. To be fair the camera close ups are much more detailed than would usually be seen in gaming.

The rules include tables of organisation and suggest brigade level games. There are no points values and no set game scenarios. This does make it hard to determine what might be a balanced, achievable game. The on-line resource pack includes a couple of scenarios. One seems relatively involved and the other requires Italians, which your author does not possess. To try out the system the double or breakthrough board from the Commands and Colors game Memoir ’44 will be used. The hexes will be treated as equivalent to 4″ across in the rules with models set to the edges or mid lines of hexes. That will give an equivalent to a gaming table of 4′ 6″ by 5′ 8″ plus the 6mm figures in 2cm strips will take up a little less space in proportion than the 3cm recommended bases.

We have hills, fields, a river and a small town. There are road and rail tiles in some of the expansions to Memoir ’44 but these have been left in their boxes. To see what happens 3 Bandaras of La Legion and 2 of Regulares went up against 5 battalions of Popular Army. The Popular army were deployed in line and occupying the town. The Legion were shot flat, no one got into close combat. Keeping the Nationalists the same but downgrading the Republicans to 4 larger units with less machine guns saw La Legion destroying 1 battalion of Popular Army but at horrific cost and being unable to hold against the developing counter-attack. It had been hoped that the superior command of La Legion would enable them to concentrate on part of the Republic line but they were stalled by heavy casualties and the Republic was able to transfer troops and plug the line.

The consequence of the card activation system deserves some debate. A unit can activate up to 3 times in a turn spending a card each time. A force will draw at least 1 card per unit, plus 2-6 based on the army quality and another 1D6 from a dice roll. Smaller forces will receive proportionally more cards from the quality and random factors. The very best troops such as La Legion can operate on any card suit. Most troops act on 2-3 out of the 4 suits only. So a proportion of the drawn cards are unlikely to be of use. Even for La Legion there are unlikely to be enough cards on hand to activate every unit 3 times. Units take hits which are allocated to stands when the unit is activated or it pays 2 cards of the same suit to reorganise. Reorganisation is a magic bullet that should be used whenever possible. Hits are halved, pins and disorder removed. The result is that a unit under heavy fire (many unallocated hits) will want to spend 2 of its 3 possible activations to reorganise. Any nearby enemy will continue to pump in more hits at a rate of 1 card per shooting. Unless there is some way to take the pressure off the unit will sink into a cycle of mounting losses. Although losses are allocated to stands and morale rolled for when a unit is activated there are some cases when a unit is obviously done for but technically still on the table. At its simplest the unit has hits which if halved and allocated are enough to wipe out all the unit’s stands. Alternatively the unit would be allocated enough hits when halved to ensure that it cannot pass the resulting morale test even on the best possble die roll. The simple solution is to remove such units at the end of a game turn.

Having got some idea of how the rules pan out and a strong lesson in the importance of heavy machine guns here follows an attempt at a more varied game. To the front of the ‘photo op’ we have 6 battalions of Republicans. 4 of regulars and 2 of militia recently co-opted into the Popular Army and not too happy about it. Behind are 8 battalions of Nationalists, 2 being Carlist and a group of 4 batteries of artillery. All the Nationalist Peninsular Army units have 2 bases of machine guns but the Carlists and Popular Army only have 1 machine gun base per battalion. The Nationalists also have 2 one-use off table assets, medium bombers and heavy artillery. Some of these machine gun bases are probably mortar models but in 6mm a model with a machine gun barrel or mortar tube over their shoulder looks much the same. Command bases are not being used. The bases with flags are standard infantry.

The Republic’s troops line up and hope for the best. The ex-militia battalions hold the rear. The Nationalists manage to draw enough of the right sort of cards to get all their units on the table. All the infantry are in skirmish order for relatively quick movement and to minimise losses. One battalion has taken some hits from long range machine gun fire. The Nationalists are looking to break through across the river, taking or isolating the town.

The Nationalist air and off table barrage comes in but with only limited effect. The Nationalists also bombard the Popular Army in the town and the general advance approaches the Battalions lining the river. Blue markers are hits allocated to bases. Yellow dice are unallocated hits to Batallions. The yellow die on the explosion is bombardment hits. The unit at the end of the river has built up a mass (9) of unallocated hits and is pinned for good measure. This is a consequence of any unit at the edge of the game board having a virtual exposed flank. All units are moving in short bursts and assumed to be halted at any time. Where units were kept moving green markers (similar to the blue) were used. Red markers are for pinned or other poor status units.

The Nationalists are across. A Battalion of Popular Army and both Battalions of Carlists are both out of the game. In the top of the field a Popular Army Battalion has pulled back to shorten the line.

The Nationalists push on taking more losses, the Republic pull back their exposed flank by the town. The game ended with the the Republic having the initiative and charging out of their defenses at 2 Nationalist Battalions dragging large numbers of unallocated losses. The allocation of losses caused both Battalions to fail morale. This required 5 consecutive cards of the same suit, attack and then pull back for 1 unit; attack, pull back and reform into firing line for the other. All activations were resolved separately. If the Nationalists had the initiative they could have reorganised the 2 wobbly units for 4 cards of the same suit. With 4 Battalions out of 8 off for an early bath the Nationalists make a flank assualt at the Republicans lining the fields by the town but that too is repulsed. A final tally of 5 Nationalist units routed or replulsed to 2 Republican routs.

In theory a 3:1 advantage should allow an attack to succeed. In gaming we do not want pre-ordained failure nor a walkover. With 8 Battalions against 6 and the hope that the artillery and off-table assets could neutralise 2 defenders a 2:1 ratio might have been hoped for. The better Nationalist morale and greater number of machine guns would also be expected to give an edge. The off-table support was not a game changer, single use assets can be relatively ineffective. Multiple instances of each asset would offset this. The artillery did its job but was only silencing 1 target at a time. With a bit of luck a single battery could shell 1 target, stop shelling and then shell another with 3 consecutive cards. This does depend on the cards being available and the rounds zeroing in on the first shots. Artillery will pin but its effect will vary. In this game the Nationalist guns shelled the town, earned 12 blast markers but only inflicted 1 hit. Shelling for more than 1 activation is needed to build up the bast markers under the target. The machine guns kept up their reputation as good value. They have a longer range and better firepower than infantry stands. It made sense to leave the machine guns behind giving covering fire as the infantry advanced. This did lead to isolated machine gun stands if the allocated infantry is subsequently destroyed.

The game size seemed about right for an evening’s play and limited knowledge of the rules. ‘For Whom the Dice Rolls’ does include vehicle rules but these were not used. The board seemed crowded, the defender could cover almost all of it as a single line. At this scale any terrain is a generic area not an individual feature. Where a unit spread over more than 1 feature the cover bonus for the most open was used. It would be reasonable to allow a unit to count as in firing line if in more than 1 parallel line at the cost of only being able to shoot from the front line. Built up areas need defining as to how many bases can shoot or melee. An entire company could fit in a good sized house. This would be fine for a cocktail party but in combat how many rifles could be brought to bear? If packed too tight losses would be increased unless we allow a unit to occupy deep bunkers. Trenches and deep bunkers were a feature of some Spanish Civil War battles but these would need to be scenario specific rules.

In Her Majesty’s Name Campaign: Tintin va √† la campagne

The last 2 games in our campaign see Tintin and Lord Curr head to the countryside to put an end to the machinations of the mysterious cult. Lord Curr has won both games so far but combat losses have seen his point pool drop to well below that of Tintin and the Navy lads.

Lord Curr is escorting Mary to the rural plantation where the cult is rumored to be active. This is a 400 point game. Both companies have enough points in their pools to field the requisite strength. Lord Curr’s mob deploy at the road edge with Mary and the faster Incorrigibles in front. Singh takes up the rear, slowed down by his machine gun. The Navy lads take up positions at what they hope are key points close to the road. Mary must be escorted to the door of the plantation house but could leave the road and go across the fields.

Most of Lord Curr’s company head off at maximum speed but Singh holds back to give covering fire. They shrug off shots from Sub Lt Philips and his accompanying rating. Feedback from the first part of this campaign suggested that characters with objectives should not run (not the gentlemanly-thing to do) this would prevent Mary’s escort from running and tighten up the game. Unfortunately this episode was already ‘in the can’ when that advice was received.

Lord Curr and the Incorrigibles pause at the road junction taking advantage of the cover from the house.

The main party split up to allow some covering fire from the rear. Tintin’s lads move to the edge of the fields and open fire but fail to cause any losses.

Captain Haddock charges into combat with Lord Curr. Po takes on Mad Jack who is supported by Gerald Fitz-Curr. Lady Felicity shoots into the melee but in the end no one is harmed.

Lord Curr pushes on, pursued by Captain Haddock. Tintin struggles to keep up. Mad Jack is down but not out. In sadder news Sub Lt Philips buys the farm.

Lord Curr finally makes it to the plantation house. Mad Jack is still hanging on.

Lord Curr won again and earned 24 victory points but another Incorrigible and Gerald Fitz-Curr took an early bath a loss of 63 giving a running total of 332. Tintin lost, gained 5 points for kills but Sub Lt Philips cost 46 points leaving 429 in the bank. To even things up a bit Tintin ransoms Sub Lt Philips back for a 23 point transfer fee to Lord Curr.

Now to the final chapter, the cult have run off with Mary but the companies are in hot pursuit. They approach ruined buildings amongst the fields with even older columns just behind. Mary is with the cult leader and his intentions do not appear to be honourable. Both sides come on from opposite corners and it will take them a while to get into any danger. In the book version of this scenario the cult members are placed in base to base contact. This makes hitting the cult leader a random shot unless you have a machine gun like Singh which can hit everyone with a single burst and make for a rather short game.

Both companies move up keeping well apart except for Mr Slow (Singh) and a naval rating who stay at the back to give covering fire.

The Incorrigibles choose a slightly shorter route up the board; a benefit of having won the last game. The cultists are clearly up to no good.

Shots are exchanged with little effect. Everyone hugs the defensive terrain.

Singh is hit by the naval rating’s rifle but he is not out. One of the cultists is definitely out of play.

Things have taken a turn for the worse as Mary has had a makeover. Lady Felicity shoots Purple Mary but to no effect.

Purple Mary charges Lady Felicity. She can shoot as the monster charges in but it does not do any good. In the Navy Po is taken down by a gaggle of cultists.

Lady Felicity is out. The Navy lads start to pile into the cultists.

Purple Mary charges into Gerald Fitz-Curr. Lord Curr takes aim at Purple Mary and takes out Gerald instead. He will need to send flowers to Gerald’s aged mother. The Navy lads mop up the relatively harmless human cultists.

Lord Curr is attacked and knocked down by Purple Mary. Singh and Mad Mick pour machine gun shells and lob grenades into the melee. Lord Curr can take the risks but Purple Mary is hard to take out.

Finally Mad Mick decides to use his arc pistol and downs Mary, Singh finishes her off. Lord Curr manages to survive having now burnt all his luck points. Tintin and the Navy lads raise 3 cheers for the gallant Incorrigibles.

Counting points and subtracting losses Lord Curr ends with 210 and Tintin 333. This is hardly relevant as the campaign is a clear win for Lord Curr.

Looking at the maths the points pool as written will not work. Eliminating an enemy figure will yield 10% of its point value (rounding down). A lost model can be ransomed back for 50% of its points paid to the capturing side. So at least 40% of points originally paid for a model in the force pool are lost to the game. In practice a suitable budget overspend of points allocated to the full company will allow a campaign to keep running. There is, however, unlikely to be a surplus built up by any faction to upgrade models during a campaign. Any points earned are spent trying to keep the original roster afloat. One area for modification would be the points given for victory objectives. These are constant in scenarios but might be better linked to the size of forces involved (perhaps 10% of the game force points size). Some easy to determine bonus awards could also work. Examples would include first side to knock down or kill a model and most uses of luck rolls (which are optional) by a company.

In Her Majesty’s Name Campaign: Tintin and Lord Curr

Following on from a comment on the last IHMN post by our loyal reader we take a run through of the example campaign system from In Her Majesty’s Name 2nd edition. Lord Curr faces off against the Naval Landing Party with Tintin and Snowy on board. Both parties are seeking to root out the origins of a mysterious cult. The companies start with 500 points to run over 4 scenarios. Victory points come from scenario events and for taking out enemy models. These can be used to buy back models that are out of the game or to increase the skills and numbers of existing characters.

The first game sees both companies trying to retrieve 3 ancient texts from the mansion of a suspected cult member. The board squares are 3″ a side so movement is based around half squares. Opening a door will take 3″ of movement as will picking up an artifact. These cannot be be picked up if there is a combat in the immediate vicinity. Coincidentally the companies have simultaneously arrived at opposite doors of the mansion.

There was some pre-game tweaking to give each side better access to one book; leaving the final book dead centre to the board. The furniture had some effect on movement but mainly served to set the scene and show which boundaries were walls and which had doors. To clarify there is a double-tile central room and 2 narrow corridors at each end. The only entrances are through the opposite large doors. This game is played with 300 points out of each side’s pool of 500.

Tintin is shot, down but not out. Other shooting is ineffective.

Lady Felicity rushes in on the downed Tintin. Calculus is attacked by an Incorrigible. To the left and right a sailor and 2 Incorrigibles head for the flanking books.

Tintin gets back up and in a couple of turns of melee takes out Lady Felicity; her stats are predominantly shooting based so the melee may not have been her best decision. Lord Curr has the central book but is pursued by Haddock, the factions have 1 each of the books in the side rooms. The cult has heard the commotion and shown up to run off the intruders.

Tintin and co’ clear the cultist from the door. In the adjoining rooms a sailor and 2 Incorrigibles make off with mysterious dark tomes. Lord Curr is still pursued by Captain Haddock.

The Incorrigible with a book gets away. Lord Curr continues to pull out of combat with Captain Haddock but is pursued towards the door. He keeps hold of his light reading. At the other end of the mansion the bookworm sailor is overpowered by a cultist.

More cultists show up and the remaining company members decide to get out of Dodge.

The final curtain call. Lord Curr is safely away with 2 companions and 2 of the artifacts. A steep price has been paid, Lady Felicity and 2 more Incorrigibles are down. As for Tintin’s company, 1 sailor is down and another captured, the remaining book remains with the cult. After the game Lord Curr spends a slew of victory points to pay Lady Felicity’s medical bills, buying her back to the company. The scores on the doors are now 499 points for Tintin and 452for Lord Curr.

The next game is also of 300 points so both teams will field the same lineup as before. They have enough paid for ‘redshirts’ to fill up on sailors and Incorrigibles. Both companies have been tipped off that Mary the kitchen-maid has important information on the cult’s plans. She can be found shopping at the busy commercial quarter of the city. It is hoped that she will reveal all for the price of a few gins. Oddly everyone has exactly the same tip off but Lord Curr will act first as his company won out in the mansion.

Here we see the runners and riders after the first turn. The vehicles move last but before shooting at 1D10″ each. Lord Curr uses his advantage to move on from the direction with least traffic. Models run to get as close to Mary as possible but Tintin’s men are hindered by the traffic.

Lord Curr gets to Mary on turn 2. Lady Felicity and the Incorrigibles provide covering fire. The Navy are still having traffic issues.

Captain Haddock closes in but Lord Curr is off like a rocket.

Captain Haddock charges Lady Felicity. An Incorrigible runs to the rescue but pays the price. Other models drop to shooting.

Lord Curr gets away just as the Rozzers show up.

Lady Felicity, Tintin and Snowy all help the police with their inquiries. Eventually Lady Felicity runs off and Tintin talks his way out of trouble. Other characters bravely run away.

The Incorrigibles lost 2 redshirts to Tintin’s 1. Lord Curr won but adjusting for losses and buying 1 redshirt back for each team the half time score (2 missions out of 4) is Lord Curr 421 to Tintin 470.

This terrain set was too easy for the first player which with higher leadership is likely to be Lord Curr. The house scenario was first run through and then re-set with a more challenging layout. This market market board gave similar results in 2 games. The lesson learnt is to run through a few turns to try out a scenario before a full playthrough.

In Her Majesty’s Name v2: The Navy Lark

The 2nd Edition of the Victorian Sci-Fi rules ‘In Her Majesty’s Name’ is out. The system is essentially the same as in the previous Osprey Blue Book version. The changes are summarised on the IHMN blog. A possible significant change is the addition of hero points. These grant a single use re-roll per hero point but if a figure starts with hero points they can earn additional points through the elimination of enemy models. Any combat success is based on both the shooting or hand to hand roll and pluck roll. It saves time to roll both of these at the same time as any obvious failure can swiftly be seen. The better characters have a pluck of 2 or 3 (on a D10) meaning they only fail 10% or 20% of tests (0 is 10). Better weapons reduce the pluck roll but even so low pluck characters are hard to take out. The addition of the hero points will further increase the resilience of figures with good pluck in the new edition. This can lead to hand to hand dragging on between hero characters as they use hero points to cancel the few failed pluck or ‘to hit’ rolls. If using pluck against ‘to hit’ rolls 2 D10s need to be rolled separately. The antidote to everlasting heroes is to ensure that a game has some clear end condition and better still offer the heroes something better to do than engage in endless combat with each other.

The new book has updated some of the lists from the previous 3 Osprey books. The lists from the Gothic supplement have been updated online. A more accurate name for that supplement would be Dracula, Romania and the Balkans as the whole game system is broadly Gothic. It would not be a lot of work to update the remaining lists as there would only be changes in points and the odd special ability. Hero points could be doled out to taste. Of the provided lists those that link to the old North Star boxes are amongst the most original. To try out the new rules Lord Curr’s company will take on Tintin and pals.

Lord Curr, Lady Felicity, Singh and members of ‘The Company’

There is no Tintin list but the Royal Naval Landing party has a drunken Captain who will fit up as Captain Haddock. There is also the brave Midshipman Easy who can run as Tintin. Professor Calculus can be the Artificier. Fans of the radio series ‘The Navy Lark’ will recognise CPO Pertwee in the list but he is portrayed as the brave brains of the outfit. In the radio series Pertwee is indeed clever but would sell off everything in the stores and buy in any rubbish as replacements. This game is not running Pertwee but will use the Lieutenant who we will call Sub Lieutenant Philips.

Captain Haddock (Halibut), Tintin (Easy). Snowy (mechanical dog),Calculus (Artificier), Sub Lt Philips (Lieutenant), Po and Able Seamen

In this game both teams are racing to get on board of the paddle steamer Troutbridge. The model is from Sarissa and far too much trouble to put together. MDF and cardboard do not like making curved shapes or thin rods such as the roof supports and railings. Toys off eBay are a much cheaper source of model boats. On a positive note the model is large enough for all the models to get on it. In this game the steamer is ready to cast off off with ‘the lad’ and other competent members of the crew below decks. We will allow it to steam off when models of only 1 faction begin a turn at the wheel in the helm section.

Here we see the action after turn1. Lord Curr’s lot are at the top of the screen. Both sides run on with the faster characters at the front to make the most use of their speed. Singh is dragging along a huge machine gun so can’t run and stays at the back through most of the game.

Both sides keep moving up, making use of cover. The sailors have rifles but Curr’s company have shotguns and pistols so the landing party try to keep a safe distance away. Some members of both parties remain behind to give covering fire.

The sailors are taking heavier casualties from shooting but there were more of them to start with. All actions are alternate so with more models the Navy have an advantage in that some will move after all of Curr’s Company have activated. In this report casualties are left on the table but down until the end of turn then removed. This is to distinguish them from models who are knocked down and could get up again.

Po the cook takes on Lady Felicity. She can shoot both her pistols in hand to hand fighting but still misses with both and fares no better in hand to hand. Po also fluffs his combat rolls. The next turn Po will run off towards the steamer. Elsewhere models take ranged shots at each other.

Po is the first model on the steamer. Lady Felicity now tries to take on Tintin.

The combat continues and Tintin is finally out as he fails 2 pluck rolls in a row. The only hero character to do so in the game. Snowy the dog runs off. The sailor boys are starting to pile onto the boat. Po has headed for the helm.

The ship sails; here shown with both decks apart for clarity. Lady Felicity and 1 of Curr’s Company are on board. Sub Lieutenant Philips, 1 Able Seaman, Professor Calculus and Po the cook are also on the steamer. Playing on for a couple of turns, Calculus is out, but Po takes down the company man. The fight between Philips and Lady Felicity could go on a while so she gallantly gives in.

Both leaders, Curr and Captain Haddock are left behind. As is 1 Able Seaman and Singh. Singh never fired a shot all game as in the few instances where he had a clear line of sight it was only to a melee with both sides involved.

Achtung Cthulhu Skirmish

It’s Bolt Action Jim but not as we know it.

Achtung Cthulhu is the twisted child of Modiphius Entertainment. H.P. Lovecraft died in 1937 so the setting is not ‘canon’ Cthulhu but the familiar overarching theme is bolted onto the World War 2 setting. Broadly there are British and Americans up against the Nazi Black Sun organisation (Cthulhu magic), loosely cooperating with the Nachtwolfe (alien tech) and Mythos creatures (tentacles). Shadows Over Normandie is a licensed boardgame series set in the same alternate universe. In the boardgame most counters are squads of about 5 ‘beings’, vehicles are individual counters, Cthulhu itself is a huge blob covering several game squares.

There is also a fan created Achtung Cthulhu Bolt Action mod called Bolt Achtung! The points values have not been tested to extremes but it includes the key models from the Modiphius range as well as spell casting (with the risk of the caster being lost in the attempt). It also models some larger Cthulhu creatures that are not in the Modiphus universe. Naturally all the regular Bolt Action and Konflikt 47 goodies can be shoveled in.

Returning to the official release; Achtung Cthulhu Skirmish is not a skirmish set of rules but is designed to play with several squad sized units on each side. A Cthulhu force could get away with monsters, possessed, summoners and the odd megalomaniac nut job but could equally well be built around a core of regular German troops. The Allies only have a handful of special units and will mostly comprise standard human troop models. There are no Soviet lists but the Allies could easily be fielded as Desert or Far East troops. The core German units could instead be Japanese or Chinese Warlord. This is excellent for the Bolt Action or Konflikt 47 player who will already have the nucleus of a playable army. The role playing types will not be so happy as they might be in possession of a few character models and an assortment of ‘gribblies’ but will need some serious assembling and painting to build a force for Achtung Cthulhu Skirmish.

The Skirmish rules are based on Dystopian Legions; a Victorian Science Fiction setting. Dystopian Legions is no longer officially supported but the rights are owned by Warcradle, a trademark of Wayland Games. The rules and army lists for Dystopian Legions are still available as free download PDFs. Unfortunately the cards which are a key but not essential element to game play are not available. The Achtung Cthulhu cards could be pressed into service as an alternative. An American Regular GI is 25 points in Achtung Cthulhu Skirmish, a British Regular lineman in Dystopian Legions is also 25 points and the stats of each are identical indicating that borrowing between the lists is feasible. The only vehicles each side has in Cthulhu is a truck, half track and a medium tank. The Dystopian Legions setting includes drones, armoured infantry and light tanks that might be a source of additional goodies for the Nachtwolfe.

Modiphius have released an alternate rules set Achtung Cthulhu Combat, also as free downloads. This is billed as a slightly simpler game system with the same units but a differing combat dice system and different point costs for models. Mechanics in Cthulhu Combat are more in common with the Bolt Action rules making it easier to adapt Bolt Action or Konflikt 47. Cthulhu Combat has no vehicles and less magic but more goodies for the Nachtwolfe. Ranges are different; a M1 Garand has a 24″ maximum range in Skirmish but 12″ short and unlimited long range in Combat (some weapons are penalised outside effective range but not the M1). They share the same Mythos theme in that deploying more Cthulhu-like units (by either side) will push up the Mythos level leading to an increased chance of bad things happening to random units. As the Mythos level rises there is also a chance of a mist rolling in which restricts visibility; to the benefit of the Black Sun player who has access to specialist close combat units. Players take turns activating units but in Skirmish melee only takes place after all activations. This means that several units can load into a single combat and a few troop types (vehicles and flyers) can run back out of it. The Bolt Action activation could easily be jammed in and some of the order dice effects map across to Achtung Cthulhu model conditions.

To try out the system the Skirmish rules will be used together with 3 scenarios from the Secret War Operations booklet which is a also a free download. Some of these scenarios use relatively few models and look to be more trouble setting up that the limited gameplay predicted. These 3 scenarios use a 4′ square board and the same terrain as both forces fight over a ruined monastery. The Black Sun here are Black Tree fallschirmj√§ger. The Americans Warlord Marines, the Commandos Warlord and Black Tree Paras. The gribblies, heroes and villains are Modiphius. The Modiphius models take some getting to the table as almost everyone has at least 1 part to glue onto the main body. The alien Mi Go have at least 5 pairs of limbs all of which need gluing on although as aliens one could leave some sets off or add a few more. In many of the non-human casts it is not too important exactly which bits go where as long as it all holds together. Some tweaking was required to fit the force layouts to the models available. The image below shows that for the human models Modiphius are close enough to other 28mms but are more slender.

Modiphius, Warlord, Modiphius, Black Tree

The first game has relatively small forces trying to control 2 objectives each within 1 of the central ruins. Here we see both sides deployed and ready for the off. The 2 sets of smoke are a Mythos effect and provide cover throughout the game. Even without these there is a good deal of cover which should give a benefit to the Cthulhu player as he relies more on close combat troops.

Both players rush forward. The Allies grasp both objectives but the Black Sun pile a unit of Servitors (tentacled possessed ex-humans) onto the rightmost objective. They were unable to wipe out the Allied defenders so that objective remained contested. An attempt to simultaneously overrun the other objective with Mythos ‘Deep Ones’ failed leaving the Black Sun a unit down and the Allies controlling 1 objective. The Servitors sorted out the remaining humans around the other objective leading to control on the following turn. Still with points gained for every turn of control the Allies kept to their early lead and pulled off a win.

Although the Black Sun had 2 spellcasters no spells were successfully cast. In retrospect command points could have been spent to increase the chance of spell casting. Most spells are of short range meaning that getting into position to cast spells means risking the expensive spell caster. Casting spells increases the chance of bad Mythos events occurring so a player could cast spells with no game effect beyond increasing Mythos events. This seemed bad form so was not taken advantage of.

The second game expands both forces. The Black Sun are trying to push forward into the Allied side of the table. The Allies are trying to destroy Black Sun units. Both sides have reinforcements that arrive on random turns. The Black Sun happened to draw more early doors units than the Allies. The Servitors move up making some use of cover.

They are now well past the centre point and taking some casualties but being already dead do not see this as a big problem.

The Servitors hug the hard cover for a while but eventually come out. That machine gun team is about to take an early bath. The real problem for the Allies are the purple worms mid screen. They burrow so avoid terrain are built hard and hit hard.

The Black Sun are through. The paras are tough but not that tough and the worms make a mess of them. Chaos hounds are also running up and the Black Sun commander can be seen just moving out of the ruins. It all seemed in the balance for a while but when the worms hit it all went to pot.

The final game in the set of 3 uses less models but a higher points count as the Allies field a tank. Both sides are trying to inflict maximum damage on each other. There is more wiggle room in what to field and the Black Sun buy spells for augur (a die re-roll bonus) and a level 2 summoning. The summoning spell is a no-brainer as summoned creatures do not count as part of the player’s force size and could lead to a new unit every turn. Bought from the lists a unit of 3 Nightguants costs 105 points. A Black Sun Canon with a level 3 spell book costs 130 points, has a better than 50% chance of summoning Nightguants every turn and has several other useful command benefits on top. In a matched game the Allied player would want to deploy at least 1 sorcerer with the level 1 ‘sever control’ spell to stand any chance against summonings.

The tank rules work more logically. It can spew out a ton of firepower (which might well all miss). It can be attacked in close combat (and some of the Mythos beasts could chew it up) but not fight back. It can pull out of melee if not destroyed beforehand but keeping just out of enemy charge range is a good plan. Other friendly units can also hose down the melee attackers with firepower if they have not already activated. A much bigger danger to tanks are anti-tank weapons. In this game the Black Sun have panzerfausts and the tank wisely spends much of the game staying away from them.

The Black Sum move up using Mythos and summoned creatures to soak up the Allied firepower. Once the gribblies get into close combat Allied losses become unacceptable. The Black Sun troopers keep out of the blood bath and provide long range fire support.

The Black Sun commander is exposed and is hosed down by the tank. The tank is now close enough for the Black Sun troopers to move forward and light it up with their Panzerfausts. As the tank is a massive points sink this now pushes the game into a Black Sun victory.

The Achtung Cthulhu Skirmish system does work and at the price (free) it is hard to argue with. Some gameplay gripes should however be aired.

There is a good deal of randomness in the game (not necessarily a bad thing). In general 4+ is good on the dice but rolling a 6 may give a bonus. The mortar only killed 1 figure in 3 games and usually missed by a considerable distance due to the indirect fire deviation rules. Grenades use a similar deviation mechanism and due to the risk but possible high damage wherever they hit were not used in any of the games.

The command system which gives a bonus to units within range of a commander does work but is a layer of detail that can easily be forgotten. As it increases the potential of success spells are more likely to be cast, units are better in combat and morale failures less likely. This is all going to prolong the game. The morale rules have limited effect. It is fairly easy to fail morale and this affects shooting and melee. It is also relatively easy to regain morale levels at the end of a turn. Failing a morale test will add 1 and only 1 shaken result. A unit can have a greater chance of failing but will only lose the the 1 level in a single test. A unit of shaken 3 or greater will rout but because of the ability to recover this requires several independent morale tests in a single turn or bad recovery dice rolls. Routing is possible but no units routed in any of the 3 games as they tended to ‘get better’ before dropping to rout.

Saga Gauls

Memories of Asterix and Co’ as we look at the last of the Age of Hannibal factions. There are no rules for secret potions but gaining ‘Fervour’ gives units a useful if temporary boost. Gallic Saga advanced abilities can be improved by taking on ‘Fervour’ up to a limit of 3 per unit. If the unit is not able to take on ‘Fervour’ without going above the limit of 3 then that additional battle board benefit is lost. All ‘Fervour’ is lost when a unit is exhausted or it can be reduced through the TUMULTUS GALLICUS or PERSEVERANCE abilities. Unlike the guerilla markers of the Iberians some means of marking what ‘Fervour’ each unit has built up will be needed on the battleboard. In the game described below tufts mounted on plastic counters have been used. Green (1 ‘Fervour’), yellow (2) and red/brown (3) remember the ditty ‘what makes the grass grow? Blood, blood, blood’.

The Gauls, Numidians and Iberians all use the same Saga dice. To provide some dice variety here is an A4 printable Saga Barbarian and Greek dice label sheet.

These Gallic infantry are Warlord plastics. Bought partly because they are slightly cheaper than Victrix and partly because the box boasts ‘decals’ for the shields. 2 sheets of ‘decals’ were present but there was no way to pry the allegedly sticky part off the backing. They could be cut out and glued on but considering the time involved in cutting around the shield boss and the need to touch up the cut edges it proved easier if slightly less artistic to simply paint the shields. On the positive side the Warlord minis glued together well and did not have any of the insanely thin parts that sometimes come with the Victrix sprues. There were not enough shields for the warriors to have 1 each but suitable substitutes were gleaned from the parts pile, the Levy getting small round shields.

A box of Victrix cavalry provided 8 Warriors or Hearthguard and a mounted Warlord with 3 left over for future projects.

An alternate Hearthguard and Warlord choice are chariots from Newline who sell 3 models with the same bodywork but ‘Chariot I’ has an armoured warrior. These are by far the cheapest 28mm chariots. The 6cm by 8cm base is expected to be the Saga minimum for light chariots but is rather too wide for these Gallic models. The warriors are Warlord plastics, a tad larger than the supplied Newline crew. The drivers are excellent poses but the Newline warriors were rather wooden. The reins are florists wire and in retrospect probably not the best choice, rather too narrow and bendy.

Caesar describes how the British used chariots:

This is their manner of fighting from chariots. At first the charioteers ride in all directions, usually throwing the ranks into confusion by the very terror caused by the horses, as well as the noise of the wheels; then as soon as they have come between the squads of horsemen, they leap from the chariots and fight on foot. The drivers of the chariots then withdraw a little from the battle and place the chariots together, so that if the warriors are hard pressed by the number of the enemy, they have a safe retreat to their own. Their horsemen possess such activity and their foot soldiers such steadfastness in battle and they accomplish so much by daily training that on steep and even precipitous ground they are accustomed to check their excited horses, to control and turn them about quickly, to run out on the pole, to stand on the yoke, and then swiftly to return to the chariot.

[De Bello Gallico, Lib. v, cc. 12,14; Lib. iv, c. 33]

This does not entirely fit in with Saga chariots which are banned from entering uneven or dangerous terrain. The Gallic chariot Saga benefits are not as good as the Carthaginian 4-horse chariots, bought at the same points cost although the Carthaginians are pinned at a single chariot unit. Riding in a Gallic chariot grants javelin missile shooting. 1 chariot replaces 2 Hearthguard but does have resilience 1. The Warlord does not get an extra increase in resilience above that for being a Warlord but in a chariot. With the resilience giving the ability to absorb up to 3 additional losses and each chariot counting as 2 Hearthguard they are best used in units of 2 where 4 Hearthguard losses translate to 2 plus 3 potential losses in a chariot. Chariots are a good choice to support the Warlord as he can use his own resilience and pass losses onto nearby Hearthguard chariots who in turn will use their own resilience (I stand corrected of FAQ’d here, you can’t cascade Warlord losses to resilience on Hearthguard).

Here a vanilla Saga scenario has been set up. The Romans have a Tribune, 4 Hearthguard, 32 Warriors and 12 Levy. This is organised to generate 8 Saga dice. Together with the 2 ‘We Obey’ activations of the Warlord the hope is to maximise dice on advanced abilities and still have some means to move the army forward. The deep Roman formation is to take advantage of their advanced ability to move through friendly units. Even so the board has no ability to move the whole army so keeping the whole set of blocks together is tricky.

The Romans move up, hoping to get to the Gallic chariots before the Gauls can optimise their battle board. The Hearthguard take fatigue from Velites shooting.

The Gallic Hearthguard hope to drive off the Velites but are themselves pushed back out of melee.

More skirmishing in the Roman turn as they try to put fatigue on the Gallic Hearthguard.

The Gauls knock out 4 of the 6 models in the Warrior unit. Meanwhile the Gallic cavalry approaches the action.

The Romans finally eliminate the Gallic Hearthguard but lack the punch to finish off the Warlord who has 2 fatigue and a ‘Fervour’. This is the trade off from the Tribune. He can get units into combat but has to keep himself out of the action as he only has an aggression of 2. A Consul in the same situation would be lined up to finish off the weakened Gallic Warlord.

The Gauls pull their Warlord back to recover and push a unit of Warriors forward to protect him.

The Romans push the screening Warriors back but 2 models remain. Other Roman units move up.

The flanking Gauls finally get into the action but bounce out of melee.

The Romans move their Tribune out of danger.

The Gallic cavalry make use of their mobility, ignoring the rear Roman units and heading for the Tribune. The Gallic Warlord also risks going back into the battle line.

The Tribune again bravely runs away. The Gallic cavalry are reduced to 3 figures.

The final turn and the Gauls only generate 1 Saga die. Their Warlord destroys a unit of 3 Roman Warriors.

It all looks close but a final count of massacre points comes up at: Roman 19 to Gaul 23. This was caused by the smaller Roman units being relatively easy to wipe out. There were several Gallic units that no longer generated any Saga dice but were still in play. The Gauls also saved 2 points because ‘Presence’ does not count for victory points so the Chariots count as 1 Hearthguard each.

Managing ‘Fervour’ went smoothly. The Hearthguard was the only unit to get to 3 ‘Fervour’ that was in a melee that ended with the unit being exhausted and hence losing all their ‘Fervour’. A few other units crept to 1 ‘Fervour’. The lesson being to take on ‘Fervour’ in all cases except when there is no possible benefit to the action. The odds on being at 3 ‘Fervour’ and still having the unit in a usable state are relatively low.

Saga Iberians

The last of the painted but unplayed Age of Hannibal armies finally gets a run out. These are all Victrix figures, from the armoured Iberian infantry and Iberian cavalry sprues with a few additions from the odds and ends of other sprue sets. The armoured and unarmoured sprue sets are identical in pose and weapon layout apart from the chest armour. Everything else being equal the unarmoured set is the better buy as both share the same armoured command and the chest armour modeled may skew the models to the earlier part of our period. The Iberians could be seen as generic European minor nations and run out as Sicilians, Samnites, Illyrians or whatever. Spain was the major setting of the Sertorian War (80-72 BC) with the Roman rebels aligning with native Iberians so the Iberians should still run well in the promised Age of Caesars book. Another plus to running Iberians is that they could make up the majority of a Carthaginian army; add a Punic unit and you are done. The final cherry on the Iberian cake is that through a 3-point ruse the Iberians can run with the Gallic battleboard acting as Celtiberians. It is even possible to swap from the Gallic to Iberian board (but not back again) within a single game although the board options opened up would be best for an experienced Saga player.

The Iberian board is rated as the most complex in the Age of Hannibal book. Some activations gain or require guerilla markers of which the Iberians can hold a maximum of 10. Two guerilla markers can be spent to activate a unit in the opponent’s turn after their unit activation is completed. There are few limitations; a unit can only be activated once in the enemy turn and a unit cannot be activated to rest if it also activated in the previous friendly turn. If there is no obvious activity to be reacted to any unit can be activated; at the very least it is good value to use the otherwise sluggish Levy. Having some guerilla markers stacked up at the end of the Iberian turn (a minimum of 4 is good) affects how the opposition will be able to act. A unit will often start a turn by resting to remove fatigue then charging into melee. After the rest activation the Iberian unit could move out of range. This forces the enemy unit to charge in without resting to keep the target in place but leaves them with any fatigue from a previous turn. A Warlord will often be accompanied by a unit of Hearthguard. If either is moved the Iberian could charge in and attack the Warlord when he is out of support range from the Hearthguard. This requires the movement of the Warlord and Hearthguard to be in a zig-zag with the Hearthguard always shielding the Warlord. An easy way to build up guerilla markers is TAUNT which requires a common die face. An Iberian cavalry unit can be activated to move up to within ‘M’ of several enemy units, activate TAUNT to gather guerilla markers then activate again to move away. That is 3 Saga dice spent and a fatigue gained for perhaps 4 guerilla markers, gaining 2 activations. Although an overall loss in Saga dice the reaction abilities are easily worth the trade off.

The Iberians can run a single unit of Warriors with slings. This is the only non-Levy and non-Mercenary missile unit in Age of Hannibal except for those running with javelins. The slings take the unit’s armour down to 3/3 which is pretty squishy. The Iberian advanced abilities only has FALARICA to benefit missile shooting and it also benefits melee; trading guerilla dice for combat dice. An 8 model slinger unit could use this ability for 4 more missile dice once a turn but this does not make slingers a game winning choice. They do have some additional benefit through using 2 guerilla markers to shoot in the enemy turn and SECOND WIND to remove fatigue both optimise the number of shots a unit could make.

To try out the army we have Warlord (mounted), 1 Hearthguard (mounted), 1 Warrior (mounted), 3 Warriors (on foot, no slingers) and 1 Levy (javelins). Opposing them are the same Romans as in the other Saga reports. Although that list has lost every single game so far they provide a constant against which the other armies in the book can be measured. The Iberians are at the top of the table, the Romans are running units of 8 Hastati and Triarii together with a unit of 12 Velites.

The scenario is based on the random generation tables in Book of Battles. Victory will be on survival points with an additional 2 points for units that end the game further than ‘L’ from their own board edge.

The Iberians move first. Warrior cavalry and Levy foot move to the edge of the woods. The mounted Hearthguard ride up to the Triarii, TAUNT, throw javelins (SOLIFERRUM, no fatigue cost and you get a free guerilla marker) then ride back to their own lines.

The Velites attempt to shoot at the Iberian horse but although the shooting activation is free it is a separate activation and the horse move out of the way.

The Iberians shift around with some taunting and missile shooting.. The only melee action is in the woods where the Velites are driven back.

The Romans push into an Iberian Warrior unit but a single model still holds out.

The Iberians push into the wood and tidy up their lines. Their problem is that loading up juicy advanced Saga abilities leaves few dice to move the army about.

The Romans finish off the lone Warrior model but then the Iberian Warrior cavalry reacts and hits the Hastati unit in the rear and wipes it out albeit with heavy cavalry losses. The Triarii then move up but the Iberian Hearthguard react and charge the Roman Warlord who is more than ‘S’ from his Hearthguard. He is eliminated for no Iberian loss.

It is now the Iberian turn and with a clear advantage in numbers they avoid combat as they want to minimise losses and maximise survival points.

The Romans are short of Saga dice (3) and men. The only hope of doing any good being to attack the Iberian Warlord with the Triarii. He takes fatigue and loses 2 Hearthguard bodyguard but is otherwise unharmed. Ignoring the bonus for being more than ‘L’ from the home edge the Iberians are 20 to 15 up on survival points and 5 to 3 in Saga dice. There is no hope of the Romans evening up the game so the end is called here.

The Iberians caused as much trouble to the Romans in the Roman turns than the Iberian. The Roman board does depend heavily on the Saga dice rolled. Very few uncommon Roman dice were rolled in this battle. They were never able to put the dice together to allow them to run STABILI GRADUI; close ranks and reduce casualties.

The Romans are consistently doing poorly in these test games; their board does seem expensive in Saga dice. EXHORTATION gives 2 attack or defense dice to units within ‘L’ of a consul but needs 2 Saga die to activate. The Iberians can neutralise this by spending 1 guerilla marker per combat if they activate LIKE SHADOWS which only requires a single uncommon Saga die. STABILI GRADUI is another 2 Saga (uncommon) dice Roman activation. It allows a unit to close ranks, ignore their first casualty and if not forced to retreat ignore the fatigue from melee but only works in the opposition turn. Of all the Roman advanced activations 4 can be used on a common die alone. This compares to 6 (Gauls), 5 (Iberian), 5 (Numidian), 4 (Carthaginian) and 4 (Graeculi).

Clash of Spears Numidians

Another Clash of Spears game ‘mirroring’ a Saga playthrough. The forces are Numidians and Romans but because the Numidians are relatively cheaper in Clash of Spears than Saga the Roman points have been reduced to match up the forces. This was achieved by reducing the number of Velites figures. In retrospect light troops are useful and the points would have been better saved somewhere else. Another approach would have been to leave the Romans alone and use Numidian noble cavalry instead of the basic version. At 21 points to 17 you get +1 to shooting and grit (morale). Anyone trying for a cost effectiveness force would find the regular cavalry more than sufficient and the elephants an expensive luxury.

Here is the position after the pre-battle manoeuvres. One of the three baggage areas contains the loot. Capturing the loot and taking it to the possessor’s table half will count the same as losing as single break point for the other side.

Both sides move up and the Numidian’s speed shows. They have won the race to all three objectives and identified where the loot is. The Romans should have risked trying for at least 1 objective regardless of the fatigue hit they would take.

Both sides divert units to the side of the battle closest to the loot. The Numidians are able to outflank the more exposed Roman right. One elephant pushes back the Roman Velites.

The Numidians pull back with their loot. One elephant is rampaging off. The other threatens the Triarii. The Romans push after the loot with whatever they can spare.

The Romans inflict 3 wounds (needing 4 for a kill) on the nearest elephant. The Triarii push into the Numidian light infantry who retreat with minimal losses. The Hastati push the flanking Numidians out of the way but are diverted from pursuing the loot by the need to keep secure flanks.

One elephant has rampaged off table the other is taken down by the Romans. The Romans are starting to sort themselves out, the Numidians pull back.

The game has run to six turns but the Romans can’t catch up with the Numidians. The Triarii make a valiant attempt to take out the Numidian general hoping to reduce the Numidian command ability and to notch up some losses. The general is too tough and the nearby Numidian units finish off the Triarii.

The Numidians pretty much ran rings around the Romans throughout the game. If it were allowed to continue for an unlimited number of turns they would have pinned the Numidians up against their board edge but this scenario runs for 5 or 6 turns. Units can take up to 3 actions in a turn and after the 2nd or 3rd an enemy unit can attempt a reaction. This led to the Romans catching nearby Numidian units on their 1st activation but losses were always light and the Numidians were subsequently able to move away. The elephants caused few losses but did tie up Roman actions in trying to take them out or at least moving to the elephants’ flanks where they could be threatened. The Romans only made limited use of their pila as these take an action to re-load and without the pila the Romans are more vulnerable to cavalry. If commanders can be taken out the owning side will count each wound as a loss and will lose the linked command points. This gives an incentive to taking out commanders but these figures are tough and take several wounds to eliminate making eliminating them a long odds shot.

Saga Numidians

In Age of Hannibal the Numidian board is based around Warrior cavalry. there are no Hearthguard; the only other basic troop choices are the Warlord, elephants (Warriors) and foot Levy. This can make Numidians one of the more expensive armies to build up because of the cost of all the multiples of 8 mounted figures. On the other hand most models of Numidians of the period consist of a loose garment, no shoes, no sword-belt and no bridle for the horses. This results in an army that would be relatively quick to paint up. Another bonus is that this style of dress could work for North African peoples from the time of Carthage until the conquest of the region by the Vandals.

There is some debate on what flesh colour should be used for Numidians, Libyans and Carthaginians. The Numidians in the Saga book look very dark. In reality they might have been quite light skinned although a largely external life style would give them a healthy tan.

For a near contemporary example of skin colours, this is the Severan Tondu. It shows the Emperor Septimus Severus, who came from North Africa, his Syrian wife Julia Domna and their sons Caracella and Geta. Note how the Emperor is relatively dark skinned compared to his family but is far from Negroid. It is thought to have been painted in Egypt where the artist would have been familiar with the relative skin colourings.

The Numidian Skirmish order activates all mounted units for a move a cost of 2 uncommon Saga dice. Any Numidian army is going to be running at least 3 mounted units to make the most of this. The units will get their free javelin throw but the order is ‘all’ not ‘up to’ so the activations take place, move or no move.

Being equipped with javelins the mounted Warriors have a defense of 3 against melee and shooting. This means they are particularly fragile. They do get a +1 when charging into combat (unless the opposition close ranks) but limited help from their advanced Saga abilities. Support can add defense dice and Relentlessness forces their opponents to re-roll 6s in melee saves. Stampede gives a bonus based on the opposition’s fatigues.

Adding elephants gives the army some punch. The only battle board ability to specifically help elephants survive is Support. Elephants are infantry so if running 2 elephants this gives some benefit to running them as separate units. Having resilience 2 a single elephant would be lost on 7 hits. A unit of 2 would take 8 hits. As odd hits are rounded up when converted to fatigue and melee inflicts 1 additional fatigue; elephants need careful husbanding.

The free javelin shooting activation Halali, Hail of Missiles and Incapacitating shot do give the Numidians an advantage in shooting but that will always be a long shot at winning as shooting saves are 4+ in the open and 3+ in cover. For both shooting and melee the Numidians may have to rely on their basic Saga dice combat bonus.

At 4 points a Numidian army might be 3 Warriors and 1 elephant. At 6 points 2 elephants, 1 Levy and 3 Warriors or drop the levy and go with 4 Warriors. As the points go up there will be less space for the mounted troops to hit and run and more chance of the elephants getting where they want to be. The army in the report below is mostly Victrix plastic. The Levy are metal from Newline and the Warlord from Warlord Games although he appears rather too African for the rest of the army.

For elephants there is the issue of running them with or without towers. There is evidence of the use of towers from Julius Caesar so we can be certain that the local elephants could support towers. 100 years after the sack of Carthage (146 BC) Caesar fought the forces of Pompey including their ally Juba of Numidia. Juba had a substantial elephant force making use of towers. The African Wars, Julius Caesar, Chapter 30:

‘At the same time Scipio daily drew up his troops in order of battle, about three hundred paces from his camp; and after continuing in arms the greatest part of the day, retreated again to his camp in the evening. This he did several times, no one meanwhile offering to stir out of Caesar’s camp, or approach his forces; which forbearance and tranquillity gave him such a contempt of Caesar and his army, that drawing out all his forces, and his thirty elephants, with towers on their backs, and extending his horse and foot as wide as possible, he approached quite up to Caesar’s intrenchments (sic).’

There are examples of elephants on Carthaginian and Numidian coins but none depict a tower. While it is relatively easy to swap out the elephant crew in a tower to use the beast for different nations removing a tower between games is not so easy. Although the tower structure could be balanced or magnetised all the supporting ropes and blankets are probably modeled in place. Note the coin below where the elephant has no tower and the King boasts European features.

Coin of Juba (60-46BC). The head is Zeus-Ammon, the inscription Punic

In this scenario from the Book of Battles victory is based on massacre points but the total counted is capped on the number of enemy objectives still in play. It is hard to see any rational in this but it does force both sides to move into the enemy side of the table. If no enemy objectives are destroyed the cap is 10 massacre points. That works out as 2 complete units of 8 warriors destroyed. The objectives themselves are relatively hard to destroy as Saga abilities cannot be used against them in shooting or melee. Some consolation is that they do not fight back and combat does not inflict a fatigue on the attacker.

The Numidians begin by moving up their elephant and Levy block, most of their Saga dice being used to load up the battle board.

The Romans use Levy and Warriors to try to take out an elephant but only inflict a single fatigue.

Moving all the mounted units the Numidians move up, casting javelins on the objective with zero result and begin to outflank the Roman line.

A concerted attack with Levy javelins, Warriors and Hearthguard eliminates one of the Numidian elephants.

The Numidians turn their javelins on the Roman Warriors, results are disappointing.

The Roman Warriors about face and eliminate the flanking Numidian cavalry. At the far side of the table the Roman Hearthguard approach a Numidian objective.

The Numidians sort themselves out and whittle down the Romans.

The Roman Hearthguard try to destroy the Numidian objective but constantly bounce off.

The Numidian Levy are wiped out.

In the final turns the elephant destroys the Roman objective and the Romans continue to bounce off the Numidian objective.

There are more Numidian losses than Roman but only a single (Roman) objective is destroyed so the Roman massacre points are capped at 10. The Numidians squeeze 11 massacre points and a tight win.