Monday, May 8, 2017

April South Bay Game Club Meeting

There were four games being played at the April meeting.   The airplane guys were running a scenario where a damaged B27 was trying to make it back to safety.   This one finished early when the B27 got shot down.

Mike was running a Dragon Rampant game set in the age of Arthur.

Nick ran a French intervention in Mexico game.  Lunch break.

The one that I participated in was a Too The Strongest Game with Carthagenians vs. Romans.   To the Strongest uses an activation system for moving units with a one in ten chance of not activating a unit, but also allowing a second attempt to activate if a general is available.   Activation sytems are common in a number of ancient rules where you have to either equal and exceed or equal and be less than a certain score.   While it introduces a certain amount of fog of war, it makes it difficult to simulate the Gallic charges that Caesar describes in his book on the conquest of Gaul.   There is one set I know of where there is a one in six chance of not activating a unit.   So imagine 60,000 Gauls charging and each turn 10,000 of them decide to halt and maybe block the guys behind them  Fortunately that was not the case in this game.  We used a new rule that guys who had gone to England said had been introduced where for the first activation attempt one card was drawn for all the units in a command for the first activation of a turn.   The rules also allow a general to draw a second card for units he is with or near to activate them if the first fails.   This went a long way towards reducing the change of a complete failure to about 1%.

The rules use a deck of 80 numbered cards for activations, combat, etc.   These actually play faster than dice, but the odds of drawing a card change each time compared to rolling a 10 sided die.   There are a lot of games that I have played that use 10, 12, 8 and 4 sided dice in addition to plain old 6 sided and even average dice.   An extreme example of card draw changing the odds happened during the game.  The first ten cards I drew on one turn were all six or higher.    This changed the odds of getting a six or higher for the next draw, which I needed for a hit, to about 43% instead of 50%.  This was an extreme case though as most of the turns the card draw tended to even out.

I was the commander for Carthage with Lawrence as my right wing commander and Chuck as my left wing commander.   Bill McHugh commanded the Romans with Kent as his right wing commander and Robert as his left wing commander.  The Romans card draw gave them the first move for each turn.  The Roman army was about half a full consular army with three units of heavy cavalry, four velites, five each of Hastati and Princepes, and five units of Triarii.   Our army had two units of heavy Spanish infantry, four units of heavy African infantry, two deep units of Gauls,  four units of light javelins, one unit of slingers, two units of elephants, two units of light cavalry,  and five units of heavy cavalry.   Points were 150 each.  I chose to weight our left wing more heavily than the right.  Chris was the game master and supplied the armies from his collection of 15mm figures.   The squares were 4 inches/100 mm across.

Our plan was to have the two cavalry wings encircle the Roman army with the elephants taking out the cavalry and draw the Roman infantry into the center/   Chris had made the Roman cavalry used to elephants so that part of our plan wasn't going to turn out as expected.  

The first turn saw the Romans make a normal move forward.   Our wings made march moves.   On the second turn the Romans started moving infantry to support the wings.   I then attempted to advance our infantry center to aid the wings with mixed luck on the activations.   Our wings engaged the Romans with the right wing not fairing too well and the left getting held up.   The Roman infantry center became disjointed with the middle advancing to engage our infantry and the flanking infantry engaging our cavalry.   This allowed me to attack the ends of the Roman center with multiple units.

Eventually I was able to help our right wing and keep it from being overwhelmed, destroy the Roman center and eliminate the Roman infantry on our left.   Chuck was able to take out the Roman cavalry opposing him and move units towards the center so that they would help defeat what was left of the Roman infantry.

The loss of a unit in the game does not trigger any morale checks by units next to it, but does count towards overall command and army morale.   A command becoming ineffective once it exceeds 50% casualties, which happened to our right wing command.   Our initial plan had succeeded though not quite in the way it was initially intended to.  In addition to losing both elephant units we also lost some cavalry and one of the Spanish heavy infantry while destroying the Roman army.   Sadly our losses made those of Pyrrhus look mild in comparison. 

The game was fast paced and fun to play.  It lasted about three hours.  We still had plenty of time for a second game before the club meeting was over,  Robert had already left before the game was done and several of the other players had errands to run so we called it a day.  Thanks to Lawrence for taking the pictures.

 Our army
 Lawrence' wing 
Another view of Lawrence' wing
 The center, shortly before the destruction of the Roman infantry.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Blitzkriegcommander III

I received the newest version of the Blitzkrieg Commander series a couple days ago.   After Pendraken purchased the commander series I have been waiting for this to be completed so that they could then proceed to update Cold War Commander and Future War Commander to the format used for BKC II.

Shortly before receiving BKCIII I started noticing posts on The Miniatures Page, the Commander Series forums and the Pendraken forums about problems with the army lists and rules.  The arrival of the rules confirmed these problems.

The army lists are vital as they provide the vehicle stats for playing.  Some army lists are missing a number of vehicles that were included in the second edition.  While in some cases there are years of service listed for vehicles they do not include the month they entered service.  Armor values for PZIV drop off in army lists for later years.  There are other items that have been noted.

The rules for recon units are contradictory and prevent them from being used in some cases.   Forward Artillery Observers and Forward Air Controllers are now just listed as a Forward Observer.  FAC's were not equipped or trained to direct artillery nor were FAO's trained or equipped to direct air attacks.   By combing them as one item, all those army lists that did not have FAC's now do, even if they do not have the planes to direct.  The scenarios do not have force ratios,  the tactical doctrine rules that gave a bonus to CV for rigid doctrine units in the same formation are gone, field defenses are free?!?!?!, etc.

In BKC second edition Rigid Tactical Doctrine required formations be created at the start of the game and maintained throughout it.   If the same order was given to all units in the formation then they received a bonus to their command role encouraging group action.   Now any group of units in the same formation can be grouped together each turn and given an order with no bonus. 

While there were some changes that might be good, there are a lot of unnecessary changes that have been made.  The updating of the rules was entrusted by Leon of Pendraken to someone he felt was an experienced rules author.  Instead of doing that the author made wholesale changes that were not needed.  While there have been a number of rules questions raised on the Pendraken forums the author has not responded to any of them as of this time.  Others on the forum have noticed that he has logged in, but has not responded.

There have been posts by experienced BKC players who have tried to play the new rules, given up after a turn or two, and reverted to using BKC II to finish the games.

I feel sorry for Leon that this has happened.   While still listed on his site and at Wargames Vault the third edition is no longer available for purchase.  Leon has also established a pole on the Forum requesting input on a way forward.  I also regret that I did not have the time to volunteer and participate as a play tester.   If I had I would have raised strenuous objections to what was happening.
There is a post on the Pendraken forum from one who participated from the beginning of BKC I through BKC II who also regrets not being able to participate in the update of the rules.

A bit of an update.  I visited the Pendraken forums and noted that Leon has posted that they plan to do a reprint within the next two to three months.  I hope that they are able to do a proper fix and not rush it.  Leon's post

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Some Spanish tourists

I needed to paint  some more Spanish for Hannibal's army.  These guys are Baccus' Spanish scutarii.  There are four different poses on each regular strip and additional ones on each command strip. 192 of them.



Monday, May 1, 2017

Converting Hellenistic Generals part two

I previously posted about converting Baccus Greek Generals and Prodomoi into Hellenistic generals at

As mentioned in the previous post I was waiting for some of Baccus Italian cavalry and infantry to arrive.   These did and the heads from some of them provided additional generals. by ;swapping the heads on the Baccus Prodomoi figures.

This time I converted Baccus Roman Generals into Hellenistic generals.  The Roman General pack has five strips consisting of two different types of strips.   This conversion was easier as all I needed to do was add lances to them.   Now to paint them.