Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fall-In 2018 AAR - The Dying of the Light Lion Rampant Game

I had an abbreviated attendance at Fall In this year, but did have a chance to run a Fall of the Roman Empire game using a slightly modified version of the Lion Rampant Rules.

The game was set in, of course, the Roman province of Ruritania, somewhere between the Battle of Adrianople and the 410 AD Sack of Rome by the Visigoths.  

Just a word about the conditions at the site of the convention, the Lancaster Host Resort (sic), which has been undergoing a seemingly perpetual refurbishment.   The main room usually used for gaming, the Distelfink ballroom, had been cut in half with the back end lit only by a string of work lights slung precariously from some nails and plugged into the overstuffed extension cord pictured above.  I joked that it was lucky I was running a Dark Ages game since the lighting was so appropriate - I think torches would have given better lighting.  Despite these challenges, my eight players were very engaged and seemed to have a good time and the game went by fairly smoothly with plenty of dramatic actions.

I had forces representing two factions of Goths, a group of Gepids, Huns, and Slavs.   The Goths and Gepids, above, began on the northern bank of the River Ister and had to find a way across.

The Huns, pictured above, and Slavs had crossed the river elsewhere and could charge into the heart of the Roman province.
The Slavs led by their incredibly distinguished warlord.  This was a figure of myself that I got from Minuteman Miniatures.

There were three Roman players: the limitanei given the thankless task of defending the riverine border from the barbarian hordes; the comitatenses "field army" that was ensconced in the provincial capital of Strelsona; and the army of a pretender to the Imperial throne who invaded the province on his way to the imperial capital at Ravenna.  The pretender and the field army commander were opponents to each other and went after each other, often to the exclusion of defending the province.

There were also a tribe of mercurial Sarmatian foederati, the Ruritanii from whom the province had received its name.  There mercurial nature was shown by a die roll at the beginning of each turn to determine which player controlled them for that turn. There were also "random encounters" on the board that could help or hinder the players once one of their units touched them.

I used the Lion Rampant rules for the game.  Given the large size of the table, I doubled the movement rates of units and increased missile ranges by 50%.  This seemed to give the game a good dynamic.  I also did not have a failed unit activation roll end a players turn, they just would not use that unit that turn.   I based the army lists, in part, on the excellent Crepusculum Imperii lists found of the I Live with Cats blog.

Victory was determined by the number of coins each player had at the end of the game.  Each player received a few coins at the start of the game.  The barbarian players then received a certain number of coins for pillaging various locations on the table.  The Romans received coins for locations that remained unpillaged at the end of the game.  The barbarians also received coins for eliminating other players' units or leaders, including those of other barbarian players.  The Roman pretender and Roman field army commander received substantial coin rewards for eliminating each other's commander.

The final result was that most of the province was devastated with only the city, on villa, and an imperial granary remained intact.  The field army commander had been killed by the pretender forces, gruesomely skewered by a lucky ballista shot, giving the pretender control of the remaining field army forces. 

The game was marked by the incredible stand of the limitanei troops.  Despite being outnumbered with fairly mediocre troops, they held off the three German tribes for most of the game, inflicting heavy losses on the barbarians.  
Here's the last stand of the limitanei, encouraged by the ancient equivalent of a USO tour.  At one point, the limitanei commander was the only figure left holding the bridge and successfully destroyed unit of Goth attackers single-handed. Horatius at the Bridge indeed.

In the end, all that was left of the valiant border troops was the commander himself and a half-strength light cavalry unit.  With the barbarians having moved on the loot the province, he sent his light cavalry across the river into the barbaricum, capturing the baggage trains of the two Goth players!

By the end of the game, the Gepids attacked the city and actually managed to get on top of the walls.  However, Roman heavy infantry drove them off and the Roman cataphracts counter attacked, saving the city.  However, this was not enough to give the Romans victory. The Slav player who concentrated on avoiding unnecessary fights and pillaging soft-targets ended up quietly amassing the most coins.

I may be running this game again, with some tweaks, at Cold Wars in March.

Here's some pictures of some of the games at the convention that caught my eye.

Commando raid on German sub base

Boxer rebellion

Mad Maximilian 1934

Sand Pebbles game

World War I

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Dying of the Light: Late Roman Wargaming with Lion Rampant

I'll be running a game at the HMGS Fall In convention next month in Lancaster, PA.  This will be The Dying of the Light, a Fall of Rome scenario set in my fictional Roman province of Ruritania sometime in the 4th century.  It will pit four factions of barbarian invaders against four factions of Late Romans and allies.  There will encouragements for players, particularly among the Romans, to attack other players on their own side.  I'll be using a slight modified version of the Lion Rampant rules.  Although Lion Rampant is a skirmish game, I'm using it as a sort of pseudo-strategic vehicle.  The game will be decided by victory points, represented by coins, with the barbarians acquiring coins for sacking various locations on the board and the Romans for having these locations intact by the end of the game.

This is going to be on a double sized table, about 6" x 8". My game room isn't large enough for this sized table so I did the test set-up in two stages.

This is one side of the table, representing the main area of the province of Ruritania.  One corner contains the provincial capital of Colonia Stresona.  There are also a few villages, villas, a state-owned granary (taxes were often paid in kind in the late Empire), a church, and a settlement belonging to the Roman-allied (at least initially) Sarmatian tribe, the Ruritanii, for whom the province is named.

The other side of the table will be the frontier area, dominated by the might Ister Flumens.

Here's some shots of the various forces involved:

 Queen Amalsuntha of the Gepids

Aurelius Victor, an Imperial pretender

 Victor is supported by a sizable army

 The Comitatenses of the Dux Ruritanicum

 The Sarmatian Ruritanii
Huns and their Slavic allies 

Less than enthusiastic Limitanei

Some "action" shots:

Warning signals from the border outpost

Defending the river

Breaching the river defenses

Goths engaged with Roman troops

The city prepares for the barbarian onslaught

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Historicon 2018: Ogres, Donkeys, Giants, and Shakespearean Shenanigans.

Nick and I had another great Historicon!  This was the 6th Annual Historicon Musical, this time a mash-up of Into the Woods and Shrek.  We had 16 players and the action was non-stop and crazy.  Plotwise, the Shrek characters were attempting to free Fiona from Lord Farquad's clutches, while the Into the Woods characters were attempting to escape the angry Giant.  The Giant was an NPC whose movement across the board was randomly determined.

Here's a partial cast photo:

Some shots of the table

Shrek's band of fairy folk massing to attack Lord Farquad's castle.

 For some reason, a lot of the players focused on trying to get Rapuzel out of her Tower.  This nearly resulted in disaster for many when Jack (of beanstock game) tried to lure the giant after him, causing the giant to turn ominously toward the tower.  Thanks to the frantic pleas of Donkey following by attack by Cinderella's black birds and the red dragon's flame, the Giant was forced back and tripped over Rapunzel's hair that was stretched between the tower and the beanstock.  This caused the Giant to fall, impaling herself on the numerous tall pines of the Woods.  The dragon went on to rescue Fiona from Farquad's castle and the princess shared True Love's First Kiss with Shrek.

There were a lot of great performances, such as completely smarming and hate-inducing Prince Charming and enthusiastic Gingerbread Man, the coveted Wazi award for Best Actor went to Donkey, who did a spot impression of Eddie Murphy.

Our other game was a reprise of our Elizabethan Frostgrave game, A Dead Man in Deptford, where various factions were searching for the lost manuscript of Dr. Faustus shortly after the murder of Kit Marlowe.
We had 16 players for this game and so got to use all of the possible factions I had created, including Puck and the faeries, and 

the Scottish Weird Sisters

The scene is Southwark, on the south side of the Thames.  The Rose Theatre and bear-baiting rink are just a few of its charms.

We got a great compliment on our table from a professor of English Lit at a local college who was attending the convention, who absolutely loved the look of it.

Here's some shots from in the game.

As always happens, the Rose was burned.

 Ultimately, Solomon Kane destroyed the spell book that allowed for the creation of dramaturgical magic while the manuscript of Dr. Faustus was taken by Grace O'Malley's Irish pirates, with the aid of both the Lord Chamberlains' Men and the Lord Admiral's Men acting troups.  They all escaped in Grace's ship to found the Irish National Theatre.

I also played in a number of games.  Here's the magnificent SOCCOM and sorcery.  It was western Coalition troops vs various shady forces that we dubbed the Axis of Evil, all searching for a hiding cultist in a underground Egyptian Lair. A fun, fast moving game despite its size with great scenery.

I ran some Afghan Mujaheddin troops

 My motorcycle-riding RPG proved to be the MVP of the game, careening through the corridors of the lair to snatch the cult leader from under the noses of the Coalition and monsters.

I also played in a couple of Lion Rampant/Dragon Rampant games, which were great fun despite my doing absolutely abysmally in both games.

I also played in the incredible Ghost Archipelago game, unbelievably beautiful table.

The high point of my game was slaying the Fire Element in the belly of Vaal

Here's some other games that caught my eye.  A beautiful Necromunda table

ACW game.

Minas Tirath

The Siege of Fort St. Elmo in Malta

FIW game with great waterfall:

An impressive Battletech game.