Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes (Romans vs. Germans)

November 6, 2017

I was looking for a set of skirmish rules to use for smaller sized skirmish games between Romans and Ancient Germans. After reading through a lot of reviews on the Internet, I opted to buy and try Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes. Being a bit optimistic about these rules, I also purchased the horror version (Fear and Faith) to use for zombie games and the French and Indian War version (Song of Drums and Tomahawks) as they just looked interesting.

I have only had the opportunity to play the Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes set of rules. Overall, I really liked them. The two key things I liked are the activation system, which makes activating every figure a real decision point in the game, and the traits as they allow you to individualize each figure beyond their basic quality and combat ratings. In activating each figure (or group if activated by a figure with the leader trait), you can roll 1, 2 or 3 dice.Each that is equal to or higher than the figures quality rating allows that figure to carry out 1 action (a few actions take 2 activation points). The problem is that if you fail a roll, the other player/side can use that action as sort of an opportunity action (they do have to roll to active a figure), which might allow them to fire at your figure, melee one, or move. If a figure fails two activation rolls, then the other side can either take those two actions as an opportunity action or end the other players turn. A very simple system, but it works very well. Likewise the traits allow you to characterize your figures in a large variety of ways, so they are not just one-dimensional figures with one or two traits. Also there is a point system so you can have fairly equal forces on both sides if you want that.

I played part of one game, then realized I had screwed some parts of the rules up. I reread those parts of the rules and tried again. I found these rules provided a very good skirmish game for ancient era combat. I tried to have fairly equal points (around 400 if I remember correctly). That worked out to 7 Romans vs. 11 Germans. I found these two forces to be fairly equal in ability. The combat system, which is often inconclusive as well as the morale rules made sure that the game was not just a one round annihilation of one side like in some other skirmish rules. I can’t remember how many turns I played, but it seemed like there were plenty before the game was clearly over and the last German ran off. All in all, Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes is the sort of rules I was looking for. It worked well, was easy to learn, and was interesting to play. Now that my son’s high school band program is largely finished for the semester, I hope we can find the time to give them a try so that we have a real 2 player game.

Here are some photos from my game:

The Germans arrive!

The Romans advance to meet them:

The first casualty (due to a German archer):

The general melee commences:

Things go bad for the Germans:

The last German runs for home:

All in all a success in terms of finding rules to use for this period and with the size of battle I was looking for.

 

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American Revolution with Johnny Reb 3

October 8, 2017

Last weekend I was feeling a bit nostalgic, so I tried out a game of my Johnny Reb 3 variant for the American Revolution. I played a small game with the British having a brigade of British regulars and a very full strength British Legion, and the Americans had Davidson’s North Carolina Militia Brigade (from the 1781 campaign) plus Williams Light Brigade (Maryland/Delaware Light Battalion and a Virginia Rifle unit) and the 3rd Dragoons commanded by Lee. It was a spur of the moment game and I used used post-its to label the units rather than printed, cut and taped fancier labels.

The first issue was how to place orders as normally Johnny Reb 3 is a two or more player game, and this was a solo game. I decided that in the place orders phase, each side would roll 2d6 and add their overall commander’s rating. The winner got to decide if they placed the orders for one of their brigades or if the other side had to place their orders for one of their brigades. With two British and three American brigades this worked fine.

In the end, the game was a British defeat, and they had to fight a rearguard action to get their forces off of the table. I think the game went pretty well. I play a lot of original Piquet, and that means waiting for the card you want to show up to act, so it was enjoyable to just be able to give the units the order you wanted for them each turn. The one thing I would change is the bonus move for infantry in the open. Right now it is 3d6, which means charges can go a pretty long distance. I think the game would play better if that was 2d6. Other than that, it was an enjoyable game. I felt a bit nostalgic playing it as I started playing Johnny Reb with the first edition way back in 1983 or so (when it came out). All of those pipe cleaners being used to mark units took me back to playing JR1 with my friend Bill in the back of his game store. While I enjoyed the game, I wonder if I liked it for the game it was or for the nostalgic feeling it gave me.

I don’t remember the full details of the game, but here are some pictures from it:

The British Set-Up

The American Right Wing Set-Up (Howard’s Brigade and the 3rd Dragoons)

American Right left Wing Set Up (Davidson’s North Carolina Militia Brigade)

General Morgan Prepares For Battle

One of the British Brigades Advances in Open Order:

The British Legion Also Advances:

The Americans Await the British:

American Riflemen Deployed in Skirmish Order in Front of the Maryland/Delaware Battalion in Open Order:

General Davidson (of the North Carolina Militia) Gives an Order:

American Militia Await the British (these are 18mm Blue Moon figures):

American Militia Skirmishers in the Woods (with a Hold order):

The British Brigade’s Assault Fails, but Morgan is Wounded and Out of the Game for Two Turns:

Lots of Routing British Units!

The Remaining British Legion Dragoons Fight a Rear-Guard Action:

Rallied British Infantry Charge Again:

With Howard’s American Brigade Driven Back, Davidson’s Militia Renews the Attack for the Americans:

Once Again, the British Fight a Rear-Guard (the last one):

With Only a “Shaken” Mounted Militia Unit as a Reserve, the Americans Watch the British Depart:

The “Dead Pile” (lots of units end up destroyed in Johnny Reb 3!):

All in all, it was a fun game. It reminded me of how complex Johnny Reb was compared to some more recent sets of rules, but it came back to me pretty quickly. Charges are not as complex as they were in Johnny Reb 1/2 (a part of the game that a friend of mine always referred to as two arguments and a fist fight to resolve). Johnny Reb 3 is clearly a set of rules for the serious gamer, and not very well suited to the casual social gamer who just wants to “roll some dice”. I still like it and may try it out again. My American Revolution figures are based in a way that allows me to use them for either Johnny Reb 3 or Piquet/Cartouche, both of which are sets of rules that I enjoy.

Here are the charts that I used: JR3 AWI CRT JG 7.0

 


Suggestions for a Roman era skirmish set of rules?

September 17, 2017

I am trying to find a set of skirmish (1 figure = 1 man) wargame rules that would work for the Ancient era, specifically we are going to use them to play Romans versus Germans. I have tried Two Hour Wargames Swordplay rules, but they were too fast play. I am looking for something with more “meat” like wounds and skills for each figure. Any suggestions? Please post your ideas via a comment and thanks in advance.


Franco-Prussian with Piquet Field of Battle

September 10, 2017

Today I went over to my friend Ian’s house for a game of Piquet Field of Battle. Ian is best know to wargamers as Mr. Warflag (http://www.warflag.com/). We played a fictional border battle with the French and Prussians and allies fighting over the strategically important town of Potzdorf. Potzdorf is the (fictional) greatest brewery in all of Europe and lies between between France and Prussia’s German allies. The goal for both sides was to gain control of the Potzdorf Brewery. In this fictional scenario, the Duchy (?) of Potzdorf was allied with the Prussians.

We used Piquet Field of Battle with the modification that units represented regiments or brigades of about 2000 infantry rather than battalions. Ian had made some modifications to the charts and weapons ranges to make it all work. And I thought those changes did work well. There were a few house rules used, but about 95% of the game was Piquet Field of Battle rules as written. In the game the French had a corps with 4 infantry divisions, an artillery division, a cavalry division and a guard brigade. I was on the French side so I’m not sure of what the Prussians and allies had, but it seemed like their force was roughly the same size as ours with a bit more cavalry. The Prussian side started with mostly minor German forces (Bavarian and Wurttemberg) plus a small Potzdorf division. There was a larger Prussian force on the way as reinforcements, but the battle ended before they reached the battlefield. Likewise, the French Guard Division was never engaged as it was posted to block the Prussian reinforcements.

I had not used the Piquet Field of Battle rules for some time as had two of the other players, only Ian had read the 2nd edition of the rules. Having said that, the game went pretty smoothly with only a few time outs to read the rules. The first turn was very long and bloody. The next two turns ended quickly with doubles being rolled on the initiative rolls. By the start of the fourth turn, both sides were out of Army Morale Points. Eventually, the Prussian and allied side had to make an Army Morale roll. Unfortunately for them, their commander was rated as a d8 and failed his Army Morale roll with a 1 (the opposed role was a 2!).

I didn’t keep a detailed log of the battle, but it was very bloody like a real Franco-Prussian War battle.

Here are some pictures from the game:

The overall game table (click to enlarge):

French Infantry:

French Cavalry:

The French Commander:

Prussian-German-Potzdorf Forces:

The Potzdorf Brewery:

A very cool windmill that I need to find out where I can get one:

Some action scenes:

Best of all was the lunch that Ian provided that included home made pork pies and beer from his actual brewery. I ate half of one of these and had enough “savory” to last me through next week, but it was exceptionally tasty.

So thanks to Ian for running this game.


Saturday’s American Revolution Game with Piquet & Cartouche

August 26, 2017

This is my last weekend before my college’s fall semester begins (I’m a History professor). So I thought I would get in one more game as this is probably the last weekend I’ll have two days off for several months. I have always wanted to try the Piquet variant where you hold cards in your hand rather than playing them one at a time. So I gave it a try with the same scenario and forces as my last game.

The first time I tried it, I realized that the system as written in the Piquet rules burnt off too much impetus as you had to pay 1 impetus point to put a card in your hand and and then another impetus point to play or discard it. I got through one turn and realized that this would result in turns ending quicker due to the higher number of phases and thus more chances to roll double initiative and thus end the turn. So I reset the game and tried again, but this time I decided only to pay 1 impetus point per card put into the hand. Playing or discarding a card was free. I also decided to start each play with cards equal to their hand, in this case 4 (same as maximum command groups) plus 1 for being Skilled commanders for a total of 5 cards as the maximum in the hand. The turn ended when all cards had been played from a player’s hand and deck, no saving cards in your hand from one turn to the next.

The result was the best Piquet game I have played. No longer were you just waiting on getting the card you needed. You could build your hand based on your plan. If you need to move an infantry brigade up to the enemy and shoot them and then melee them, you could build a hand with an infantry move in open card, a reload card, a melee card, and just in case things went bad, an officer check card. The system allowed each side to often do that. There were still bad hands, like one turn in which the American player got dealt 3 Dress line cards out of 5 cards in his hand to start the turn. Also hands got depleted as players used those cards for planned actions, meaning they had to spend impetus points to reload their hands for their next plan. This really made having a Brilliant Commander card in your hand very valuable as you could use it for anything.

I also allowed players to hold onto Heroic Moment cards and play them anytime to add Up1 to a fire, melee, or morale check. I got this idea from how a similar card works in Piquet: Field of Battle. A player could also use a Heroic Moment card to double the move of one unit.

A further variation I used is to make units that have suffered 1 or more hits from fire combat to take a morale check. The opposing play does not have to play a chip to do this, but if the unit fails the morale check, that side must pay a morale chip.

Unlike my last game where the British won, this was a hard won American victory. At times both sides had run out of army morale chips, but neither side failed their Major Morale check as both sides had the same number of units eliminated or routing. The game went on for 10 turns, and then I ended it as the British were withdrawing and the Americans would not catch them.

The British deployed with the British Legion on their right and center, with the British regular brigade as the reserve:

The British deployed the Guards’ Brigade on their left in hopes that it could turn the American right:

The American left was held by Pulaski’s Legion (two infantry and one cavalry unit):

The American center was held by the French brigade, the Maryland brigade, and the better (Davidson’s) militia brigade:

The weak element for the Americans was their right flank, which was held by the poorer quality militia brigade. I had both sides roll for which had to set up first, the Americans lost and had to set up first, which is why the British were able to deploy against the weaker American flank.

Here is the American starting hand of five cards. In a two player game, both players would keep their cards hidden from the other player. Not a bad starting hand of five cards.

Here is the British starting hand of five cards, again I dealt each side a hand of cards at the start of each turn. Also a decent hand to start the first turn with.

Turn 1 saw both sides advance, the British concentrating their efforts on the American right:

Both sides continued to advance in Turn 2.

Turn 3 saw the British Guards’ Brigade turn the American right flank (the poor quality militia brigade):

In the center, both sides advanced:

Skirmishing took place on the American left flank:

Morale chips were quickly spent and this is what each side had left after Turn 3 (red = British and white = American):

Turn 4 saw the Americans move the Maryland Brigade to meet the British threat:

The Guards’ Light Infantry unit flanked a militia unit, note the other militia unit already routing:

The Maryland Brigade engaged the Guards’ Brigade:

That resulted in one routing Guards’ battalion:

Turn 5 saw the Maryland Brigade destroy most of the Guards’ Brigade, but by the end of the turn the Americans had 1 Army morale chip and the British had zero!

Turn 6 saw the British Guards’ Light Infantry end up right in front of a heavy concentration of American forces in the center:

Forward went the British reserves of the British regular brigade:

Turn 7 saw the American Maryland Extra Regiment rout the British Guards’ Light Infantry (ouch that cost a lot of British army morale chips):

By the start of Turn 8, the British had two army morale chips (got them back by damaging the Americans who ran out of army morale chips). The focus of the game switched to the center:

The Americans sent Pulaski’s cavalry in a flanking move on the British right:

By Turn 9, neither side had any army morale chips. The Americans realized that they had forgotten about Pulaski’s infantry (they literally got overlooked in the trees) and sent them forward to support the dragoons:

Pulaski’s infantry caused a two stand lost on the British infantry facing the cavalry, but when the cavalry charged, they were destroyed in the melee by the defending infantry (the 7th Regiment of Foot)!

The British Legion infantry moved forward and were charged by a squadron of the 3rd dragoons. The squadron of the 3rd dragoons was eliminated by fire from the British Legion infantry:

By the start of Turn 10, the Americans had three army morale chips, most gained from destroying the remnants of the British Guards’ Brigade. This off set their losses in the center and their left. The British attempted to withdraw with the rear guard of a single infantry battalion:

This time Greene (the American commander) was the victor:

The French Brigade finally got into action, even losing one infantry stand:

Casualties were heavy on both sides, here are the British losses:

Here are the American losses:

Again, this was a solo game so I supplied all the figures (15mm) and took the pictures.

This was one of the best games of Piquet I have ever played. I highly recommend using the Alternative Sequence Deck Method found on page 68 of the rules with the revisions I noted above. This really made Piquet a game of planning and less of a game of waiting on the card you needed to be turned over.

Now back to painting. I have also gotten a set of rules for Zombie games, No More Room in Hell by Iron Ivan Games that I have read and want to give a try. I have also purchased and read Chain of Command by Too Fat Lardies and I hope to give that a try in the future as well.