Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pulse of Battle Three Kingdoms

Matt was over this past Sunday, so we were able to get the Chinese on the table for another Pulse of Battle play test. My daughter, Jessica, joined us as well as another friend, Desmond. The teams were Matt and Jessica against Desmond and Tony.

We deployed the forces using the new deployment system, it was (again) fast and good. Matt commented that he liked it. Matt and Jessica had 11 units and 10 morale points. Desmond and I had 12 units and 14 morale points. Matt/Jess had an exceptional sequence deck and command ratings and Desmond/I had an abysmal sequence deck and command ratings. Desmond/I had an edge in horse units and Matt/Jess had an edge in missile units.

So, having a crappily-generalled army means one of two things:
  1. Be conservative, let the battle come to you. 
  2. Be bold and try to mitigate some advantages. In either case, you must have a little luck on your side and you'll still have a challenge to handle...but...the first option gives all of the initiative to the enemy (See Cornell, I *was* listening!). 
So, I opted for the second option. But, the second option only became apparent to me during the deployment phase as the enemy was having to deploy commands before we did, giving us a little reactionary advantage. Now, our hand of deployment cards was not great - hence the need for a little luck.

As the enemy deployed in a even line across their edge of the tabletop, it gave us an opportunity to deploy more strongly to one side, and if the aforementioned luck was with us they would not be able to counter it! So, I had Desmond deploy some foot units about 4" short of their deployment limit - planning to redeploy my horse units in front of them during the redeployment action. If the enemy got tricky and fouled that plan, then we could simply redeploy Desmond's units forward the last 4".

Well, luck was not with us. We had to make our redeployment action before the enemy did (in this game, each side had only one redeployment action due to the small number of units involved.). So, Desmond and I consulted and said, "screw it", redeploy the horse to the front of the foot. They'll be facing some non-missile foot units. If the enemy reacts by moving over some missile troops they will have to deploy to the rear of the target line...if we can get there first and fast, we got 'em!

So, that's exactly what happened. The enemy missile units redeployed to the rear of our targets. But, the game was to play out differently than we hoped. You see, we made two errors in hoping that we could get into grips with them before their missile troops moved up:
  1. There was a waterway in the path of the advance, this will slow us down.
  2. The commanding general of the mounted forces is a D8 Leadership. Uh, he sucks and his command will likely not enjoy tons of opportunity to befuddle the enemy.
Our horsemen died gallantly on the assault with only one of the three units successfully crossing the waterway. The missile troops, including two light bolt throwers, tore us up.

However, the rest of the battle was a real slobber-knocker. There were two villages on the table and they changed hands a couple times before the matter was resolved. Our forces had to contend with some wooded areas and the leftmost extent of the waterway, but we managed. On our extreme left flank, we had a crossbow unit a little exposed and they were driven off the table and pursued off the table by a unit of enemy medium horse - interesting and cool.

At the end of the game Matt had four chips and I had one, I surrendered with the situation being hopeless and the arrival of BBQ. The game took three hours, but we had two rookie players and did everything sequentially. Also, we laid out a lot of terrain, that'll delay the movement times of some units.

We had a fun time and really enjoy the rules. The BBQ was good too, good rations to be issued after a tough battle!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pulse of Battle, October 22, 2012

Two more Pulse of Battle games played last Saturday...the first game again pitted the mighty Romans against the Macedonians. The winner of this battle would take on the Three Kingdoms Chinese.

We deployed the forces and realized that both armies had a certain affinity for the same half of the battlefield! Both sides had packed their armies into opposing halves of the table. We Macedonians, Chris and I, did deploy our mounted force on our far right, being the only forces from either army on that half of the table. We had dreams of galloping into the flanks of the Romans! Our phalanx held the center firm and our left was held by our allied forces and a unit of war elephants. Our light troops were arrayed to the front of our formation.

The Romans, Greg, Greg and Terry, deployed in their lines, using their horsemen on their right - opposing our allies. Their light troops fronting the lines. Signifying to us that they were gonna come on.

The empty half of the table was a real mystery for us, as it offered a flanking maneuver to our horsemen. We Greeks were pleased that the Romans were going to come smashing directly into our forces and not try to flank our phalanx.

Well, yep, on came the Romans. Wow! Greg, Greg and Terry did once heck of a job in this game! The Romans got up and got up quick and pounded us. It was one of the nights for the Greeks. Our Allies got flanked and rolled up and our horsemen on the open flank manged only to move within threatening distance of threatening distance. We had lost 15 or our 17 morale points and the Romans had only lost 3 of their 15!

With a total butt-kicking going on and being down so much, we Greeks capitulated with the two chips remaining. Our Phalanx was about to join battle on the offense, but too much damage had already been inflicted on us, the battle was irretrievable.

Again, really nice job fellas!

So, the Roman powerhouse was now set to take on the Three Kingdoms Chinese (3KC). The armies of the 3KC are half crap - the force we fielded was just under half "regular" troops of the standing army of the Kingdom of Wei. The bulk of the force was conscript footmen and then rounded out by a little barbarian horse archers and foot warbands as well as a unit of peasant levies. Lastly, Terry provided two units of heavy chariots to the army and we had two units of light bolt throwers.

Given the comparatively crappy quality of the Chinese, we expected another Roman smashing.

This battle's setup in most ways mimicked the first one. Half the battlefield was in use and the Romans deployed almost identically. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We Chinese, Chris and I again, placed our chariots in the center and supported their flanks with footmen and bolt throwers - each flank included a generous amount of crossbowmen. Our tribal allies and the peasants were deployed to our far left.  

The 3KC advanced to begin the battle. We drew an early Move card and used a Command Movement to move the entire army. What this is is an opportunity to move the army using the C-in-C's Leadership rating rather than the individual commander ratings. Pretty cool if you have some questionable leaders! So, we did this and got three movement segments and won with an "even" roll. So we could initiate melee!

So, we said, what the hell, send out the chariots! They crashed headlong into the Roman line, shattering the unit they encountered! Awesome! But, they would be "stuck in" for the remainder of the battle. One of the units would be lost in the fight but the other would survive...and...they tied up an entire Roman command in the center of the field for the entire action.

This meant that our flanks would be where the battle would be won or lost, so we advanced into the fray. With two commands on our left flank, Chris bore the brunt of the fighting - and he fought magnificently! Especially considering the conscripts and junk he had in part of his force.

Chris had to make good decisions with his men and make careful attacks, the Romans were the superior force on the table...they just continuously ground forward a few inches at a time through what seemed like an endless stream of melee combat. Hats off to Chris on his work!

My little right flank force was man-handled by the superior Romans and driven back but not without loss to the Romans.

The battle ended when we had lost the last of our 17 chips and failed on a subsequent Army Morale Card. When we lost our last point, the Romans were down to 4 points left themselves. So, the Chinese gave them a much more difficult fight than we thought they would have - and even in defeat covered themselves with glory!

Some great rules adjustments came out of the evening's games about light troops, shock and melee in general. The game is really taking shape!
Thanks again to Brent for his monthly hospitality and thanks to the gang for being fun and excellent gamers!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chinese Tribal Allies

Well, the batch of minis from Curtey's arrived and I quickly cranked out a unit of tribal allies for the Three Kingdoms armies and Pulse of Battle.

This unit is a "warband" unit. So they could be a little fierce! Of course, from a quality perspective they could be anywhere. So, opponents will never know what to expect!

The flag is much later than my period, about 1181AD, and is of The Cham Kingdom (Vietnam)...but I think it looks really cool!

OK, back to the painting. I want to have my peasant units ready for action this Saturday! More Pulse of Battle play testing!

Weekend Boardgaming

It was a busy weekend for me...didn't work this weekend so I played some boardgames! Played five different games and a total of seven games:

  • Cave Troll (played twice)
  • Cold Wars
  • Manoeuvre
  • Scopa (played twice)
  • Caylus
Several points to be made.

Cold Wars is, in my opinion, one of the funnest and best two-player boardgames on the market. I always enjoy this game. It was recently reprinted, so if you don't have it, get it.

Scopa is the national card-game of Italy and is a blast. Beautiful cards too! We play using our iPads and the iScopaHD app. There are many decks to choose from and you can customize the rules a bit to reflect various regional differences. The interface works terrific and you can chat and send emoticons to your opponents. We like to play to 21. The second hand ended in "over time": 24 to 22! So close!

The Caylus game was one of the closest three-player contests of that game I have seen. six-points separated first place from last place!

Manoeuvre is a really good game! Napoleonic themed, the game is card-based for actions and uses polyhedral dice. So, lovers of Piquet games would find a fair bit of comfort in the rules. Try it, it is a fun game!