Sunday 31 March 2013

Muskets&Tomahawks First Game – AAR and Some Thoughts

So I played my first game of Muskets&Tomahawks against Dalauppror's Mohawks on Monday night. It was both a fun and a little frustrating experience. This is a short AAR, unfortunately with just one picture as I was too busy playing the game to remember taking photos, and some general thoughts on the game at the end.

We started by setting up the terrain according to the rules. After some discussion we decided that all areas – except some which we clearly defined – not covered by terrain were "light wood" and counted as difficult terrain. This would have no effect on the movement of our troops as all units had the Scout trait, but they would of course still benefit from the cover.

We then rolled for Missions: the Mohawks got the Slaughter mission and the French a Scouting mission. This meant we had to scour up some civilians for me to defend. I then made a stupid mistake when choosing which table edge to deploy on (or rather enter from) and this more or less cost me the game. The civilians were deployed behind one of the buildings, as far away from the indians' edge as possible. Unfortunately, this meant I had to place them on the edge of the forest with the only clear area on the other side of the building (nearer the indians).

As this was our first game, and we were concentrating on learning the basics, we didn't include weather or side plots.

All units started on blinds which lead to a very tentative first activations. The only unit without a blind were the civilians who tried to flee into the forest. Well, that didn't go too well as the -2 penalty to movement in difficult terrain meant they could move just 1 inch each activation.

Here is picture of the board after a few activations. The French entered from the left and the Mohawks deployed on the right table edge. The civilians started just to left of the building in the center. The inside of the area marked in red counted as open (except of course the field and the buildings), everything else was either light or dense wood, or difficult terrain. Instead of blinds markers we used single models and put stickers under the bases to show if they were units or dummys.

The battlefield. Click on the picture for a larger view.

The indians in the bottom of the picture moved silently and swiftly through the woods, charged the slow moving civilians and slaughtered every last one of them before the French could stop the Mohawks. Here we struggled a bit with the rules, as it's not very clear how you handle the end of a melee with troops still alive on both sides.

Looking at the remaining number of cards it was now clear that the French had no chance of winning the game, but we played on anyway. I was keen to at least get my troops into some action, as they effectively had yet done nothing but move.

The Compagnies Franches de la marine were forced off their blind and then opened fire on the indians. However, a rather disorganized placement meant the shooting was quite ineffective – and made worse by my bad dice rolling.

The Mohawks answered by charging the nearby militia unit and again cutting down all of their enemies without getting so much as a scratch in return. My bad dice rolling continued, and this was beginning to get very frustrating.

The saviours of the French honour came in form of the allied Hurons. On the left flank (top left in the picture above) they had crept up silently and now opened fire on their hated foe the Mohawks, a group of which was lurking in the forest ahead of them. And at last the dice were with me – one Mohawk fell down dead.

And that was the end of the game.

So in summary, an interesting game but very frustrating – first the misstake in deployment and then the very bad dice rolling. Still, some good lessons to ponder for future games, and some questions about the rules.

  • Deployment! Think carefully about how you deploy and if you can choose which side to deploy on, choose wisely.
  • Do not get into melee with indians. Better to stand back and shoot as they will break rather easily when shot at.
  • Placement within the unit is very important as friendly miniatures block line of fire. Or so was our understanding of the rules anyway. Can anyone please confirm this?
  • The 180 degree "seeing arc" means it's pretty easy to spot and get a line of sight to the enemy and therefore (or so it was in this game at least) facing is less important than placement within the unit.
  • Despite re-reading the rules, it's still not clear how you handle the end of melees when there are miniatures left on both sides. The general view on the M&T forum seems to be that the melee ends if the side forced to take a reaction test gets a Flight or Recoil result.
  • One other thing which isn't clear in the rules is if Officers are a blind on their own or if they "hang on" to another unit. As they normally count as unit by themselves this would indicate they are on their own blind (this is how we played it), but a confirmation would be nice.
After some reading on the forum, it seems this particular combination of missions (Slaughter vs Scouting) can lead to some very one-sided games, just as we experienced.

Anyway, we have our next game planned for tomorrow and hopefully it will be a more even match this time. And I'll try to take some more pictures this time.

Finally, a warm welcome to the new followers David and Monty. I hope you'll like my blog!

Saturday 23 March 2013

It's steam, punk!

(Sorry for the bad pun in the title.)

I've been looking to get into some skirmish steampunk gaming for a while now. Nefarious villains, rooftop chases in the fog and weird inventions – what's not to like? It would be cool with a small scale game, say about 4–8 miniatures a side, maybe with some crazy machinery added. I've never taken the plunge though. Until now.

As I'm sure you're aware there are two Kickstarters (or rather one Kickstarter and one "Nickstarter") going on right now: West Wind Miniatures is doing one for the expansion to their game Empire of the Dead, and Northstar Miniatures is doing a special preorder campaign for the official miniatures for the upcoming Osprey game In Her Majesty's Name.

I'm certainly going to order the IHMN book when it is released, but I must admit the current factions and miniatures left me a bit cold. No "Nickstarter" for me then.

Before Empire of the Dead was launched last year, I was very interested in the game, but in the end I held off on investing in it due to the miniatures. While they looked good, they were too much horror oriented and "rural looking" for my taste. Vampires and werewolves didn't do it for me, as I wanted something less supernatural and more urban. However, the Kickstarter seems to address just that issue: many of the miniatures are less horror and more neutral looking. Although admittedly, there are still quite a lot of  supernatural and horror stuff in there – but this time I like it!

So as an early birthday present I splashed out on one of the medium pledge levels, which should give me more than enough models for a couple of smallish forces and some fun extras.

I envision this as a fun little diversion from my usual stuff, were I paint a miniature or two in-between projects. As such it's certainly a long term plan – if I have enough miniatures for a game at the end of the year I'm very happy, otherwise they'll be finished when they're finished, no hurry.

I've also read rumours that some manufacturers of pre-cut mdf terrain are looking into this period, which should solve the problem of how to get an entire board covered in Victorian buildings. Still, it'll be a while before I have to worry about that.

Friday 22 March 2013

Dark Ages Welsh

While I had the background for photographing the French already set up, I took the opportunity to finally take some pictures of my Welsh army. This was the first time I had them all lined up together, and the first time most of them were out of the cupboard since finishing them back in December. I really should get some games with them!

The thinking behind this force was to make a three-in-one army that could be used for Saga, Dux Britanniarum and Dux Bellorum – more about that in an earlier post.

The center is made up of the lord's hard-fighting Teulus. As always, the champion is in the front taunting the enemy in the traditional way ...

On the left we have the Combrogi, ready to rain a deadly hail of javelins at the enemy.

And a unit of bow armed skirmishers to harass the enemy even more.

The less experienced Pagenes are placed in the back, were they can hurl javelins at the enemy without getting in the way of the real fighters.

More Pagenes. It seems I've forgotten to make enough square movement trays so the Pagenes was mounted on my new skirmishing trays for this photo op.

Some mounted Combrogi make up the right flank, along with mounted skirmishers.

All miniatures are from Gripping Beast, except the Pagenes who are from West Wind.

Finally, let me say a big welcome to the new followers Alfons Cànovas, Andrew Saunders and BrummyLad. I hope you'll find something of interest here, please drop a comment if you have any questions about any of my projects.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday 15 March 2013

FIW French

As promised, here is a group shot and some detail pictures "in character" of the entire 200 points French FIW force for Muskets&Tomahawks. For more closeups, take a look at the earlier posts.

Huron Indians ready for the dirty work.
Miniatures from North Star.

The log cabin is a prepainted model from Pegasus. Prepainted? Yeah, to make a long story short, I ordered one of the unpainted Pegasus kits along with some other stuff from a certain pretty well-known Internet retailer. The other stuff arrived after a while, though some of it was out of stock and took more than a while to arrive. However, the log cabin was nowhere to be seen. After a long, long, looong wait (and a couple of gentle reminders) they finally sent me this. I couldn't be bothered to send it back so I kept it. I will probably repaint it at some time – those blue windows are pretty hideous – and make a new roof.

Compagnie franches de la marine with an officer lurking in the background.
Miniatures from North Star.

Canadian militia.
Miniatures from Galloping Major.

Overall I'm pretty happy with this bunch. Hopefully they'll perform nicely on the tabletop as well.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday 10 March 2013

FIW French 8

Well, here they are – the final (at least for now!) unit for my French FIW force for Muskets&Tomahawks.

I struggled a bit with the war paintings, trying a couple of different patterns and redoing some before settling on the ones you see here. At first I wasn't too pleased with them but now I think they turned out alright. The Hurons apparently used purple, as well as red and black, for their war paintings but I saved that colour for potential future reinforcements ...

Anyway, here is a shot of the group from behind.

The miniatures are all from North Star.

As always it's very satisfying to complete a project, even a small one such as this. I have some work left on the movement trays, although these are a bonus and not really part of this project. When those are finished, I'll take some snaps of the assembled force.

Our first game is booked for Monday the 18th – I'm looking forward to the French's first outing!

Sunday 3 March 2013

FIW French 7

I had hoped to have the indians for my French force finished by this weekend, but as real life have been very hectic this was not to be. Some progress have been made though, as you can see. What's left to do are highlighting the clothing, the wood parts, some details (straps, bags, knifes etc) and of course the war paints.

My aim is to have them done by next weekend. Barring any unforseen interruptions this shouldn't be a problem. I hope ...

It will be good to have this project finished as it's been dragging on a bit too long due to illness and whatnot. Now I'm itching to get started on my Novgorod force for the Baltic Crusade project. We've already played a couple of games with Dalauppror's excellent crusaders and heathens, and I feel the heathens could use some heavy cavalry support in the form of Novgorodian druzhinas to match those Swedish knights.

Oh, and of course we should get some games of Muskets&Tomahawks going!