Thursday, 25 June 2015

Dark Age Sword and Spear Wargame

In my continuing struggle to find a good set of Dark Age rules with character I was led to trying Sword and Spear. This excellent set of rules we have played quite a lot lately but for late Republic Roman era (1st C BC) games and Medieval games between Crusaders and Seljuk Turks. So i should really begin by saying I am a huge fan of these rules .... but would they scratch my Dark Age itch?
 The images details a game fought between an Anglo-Saxon and Viking army from around the era of the Great Host - approx 865 AD. We initially thought the Vikings would simply roll over the Saxons but this was not to be. Our main reason for this assumption were the powerful Viking units especially the armoured two handed axemen. To match this the Anglo-Saxons out bid their opponent in the scouting phase and decided to line up their armoured units against the Bondi, hoping their Select Fird would be able to tie up the heavier Vikings.

The above image shows the leading left flank of the Saxon thegns bearing down upon the Bondi. The right flank was hoping to hold back allowing the Vikings to become mired in the marsh in the centre of the table. 

For not the last time in this battle plans went awry and farmers pressed into service were to beat back their opponents of the warrior class. In truth the plan of the Anglo-Saxons was flawed ... my plan ... as we should have held back allowing the Vikings to advance. Our advance past the level of the marsh placed us in a precarius position. We chose tto rely on turning a flank.
As the red numbers indicate, pressure was building on the Saxon units. With their leaders falling and their units on the flank making slow progress against elite Viking units (who not only refused to give ground but actually beat back their opponents) the Saxons looked in deep trouble. And then the tide or battle .... err dice ... turned. The Fird refused to let the pagan invaders overrun their land and inflicted blow after blow upon the Viking hirdmen. Both armies now tumbled toward their break points with the Vikings reaching it first. 
So did the Sword and Spear rules again produce a compelling and strategic game ... absolutely. Did it have the character I was looking for in a Dark Age game .... not really. Why? Well, I was hoping for something a little more character based ... maybe a cross between Saga, Sword and Spear and Dux Britanniarum. Am I asking too much? That is very likely. Well, it might be time for my own concoction. But I will be playing more Sword and Spear - in Dark Age Britain too. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

More In Her Majesties Name

The above images show another variant of an In Her Majesties Name game in the Dark continent. This one was held deep in the jungle that had overgrown a group of ancient ruins. Their remains bear similarities to other cultures around the world including the ruins on Easter Island and in South America suggesting a great maritime culture in a distant past. I mainly posted these hurriedly to show that my colonial troops do indeed have name tags attached to the back. In the final image you can just make our the yellow turbaned 'Fast Fakir' and the (now infamous) blue robed 'Azim the Lech' still smarting from his intimate encounter with the mighty Kong. Azim still maintains the beast was quite gentle in comparison to his usual partners. Here the company of 'Abdullah's Slaving Bastards' are contesting the crossing over a crocodile infested waterway trying to be forced by the cannibal company of King B'donga. Unfortunately this day many of the bastards ended up in the pot. Even 'Al-Hurun' - the Arabic super-hero and ultimate swordsman - could not prevent the crossing of the cannibals this day - he can just be seen at the end of the bridge brandishing his buckler and scimitar. (As a side note 'Al-Hurun' is perhaps the most deadly of all the colonial characters in our games thus far ... perhaps only equaled by the unreasoning brutality of the dreaded 'King B'donga' - scourge of the entire Congo.

In Her Majesties Name goes to Africa

Above are two scenario's for In Her Majesties Name that have been mixed up a little. This second grouping of three images predate the first game. For this set of rules I have been drawn into Africa between 1870-1890 as it is a rich and fertile imaginative setting as well as being an entralling era to study historically. The first image shows one of our favourite scenarios - Kong Hunt. Here several groups of adventurers or scoundrels converge on a central mountain known to be the lair of the mighty Kong. Using a variety of methods they drive Kong from his jungle hiding place and he subsequently climbs the highest peak around challenging all about him to combat. Then the shooting starts ... Kong is enraged by the shooting and charges at the last person to shoot at him thundering over all in his path causing mayhem and death. Kong takes quite a few rifle shots - as you can well imagine - before dying. In our first run of this game, Kong ran over the same person 4 times before finally coming to rest on the corpse of 'Azim the Lech.' All my colonial miniatures bear a small name tag on the rear of their base. Not all are politically correct - but we make fun of everyone without care including ourselves.
 The next 3 images originate from when I decided to combine my desert hills with my sea tables constructed for WWI battleships and Dystopian wars. The result was pure magic. With the addition of bridges and walkways constructed of match sticks and kebab skewers the result was a highly imaginative version of Africa very much in the context of a 'Lost World.' Jungle segments made from a variety of combined fish tank plastic plants made everything complete. Since the day these terrain elements were designed this has become our favourite setting for IHMN games. The images focus on the adventuring company led by Brendan Fraser. His company consists of many brave Askari and one or two officers - often Belgian - but of a non-descript background really. While Brendan certainly provides the group with a sharp melee edge the majority of his company is rather poor in quality but they do possess breech loading rifles and the quality of quantity. Brendan has become a favoured target of other players to 'bag' as soon as possible. As such he has developed a reputation for being either an easy beat or a character that can charge into the heart of the enemy and lay all low with only his trusty left hook and blazing revolver.
 I should also add in the final image the German Imperial Navy Landing Party can just be seen emerging from the scrub. This is led by the blue jacketed Baron Kilmer. Just to his right is his 'right hand man' Ober. Finck. A battle can be seen in the background beginning on the bridge as the crossing of Sarge. De Beer in being contested by Ulf - one of the German marines.
 I should additionally add the images are showing a very early game and the name tags are clearly not completed on many of the Askari models. This will clearly be corrected in the next images. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

An initial Ashdown

The Viking Age ... Dux Bellorum ...
 Although not strictly for the Viking age (ending in 793 AD which coincides with the landings at Lindisfarne) I have found these rules function rather well for this small expansion into the period. Detailed in these images are an initial attempt at the famous Anglo-Saxon victory at the Battle of Ashdown 871 AD. Since this image my tally of Dark age warriors has grown but these show a sound representation of the battle - minus the standing stone megaliths which are a constant fixture of our games and serve to enhance our imaginative experience of this distant time period and place.
 The men of Wessex followed the path laid out by history and surged forward up the imposing slope. They crashed into the Vikings driving them back with heavy loss much to the chagrin of the Jarl who had thought his position unassailable.
 As I have already said we have found the rules to work well in portraying the command difficulties of the period. Despite this more colour, in the form of unit and national characteristics and a more fluid game in regard to movement, would be preferred by myself and my opponents. Thus, my quest to find a truly acceptable (for me) set of Dark Age rules continues.
 Expect posts soon which detail my forays into Dux Britanniarum and Sword and Spear to find the ultimate rules which will suit my imaginative conception of this period.All figures shown in these pictures are part of the magnificent range of plastic miniatures available for this period. A minority are Wargames Factory Bondi while the majority are Gripping Beast - Saxons and Vikings - which I have found to be a much better quality in regard to detail and easy of painting due to the higher relief of sculpted detail which benefits easy of painting.