Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Sons of Mars Gladiatorial Combat rules

I have been away on holiday with the family but have returned. Sadly my father-in-law passed away last Wednesday so it wasn't the best week ever.

Wargames wise, I have bought yet another set of rules. To be fair these are probably the least demanding in terms of figure requirements, but it's still wargaming. I have played several Gladiatorial combat systems over the years but never found anything I was happy with.

The most recent was Warhammer Historicals Gladiator set, now long out of print and very pretty. However they didn't do it for me, so they were consigned to the shelf and the figures I had were put away in a part finished state.

Then Northstar came out with a newsletter including a new set of Gladiator rules called Sons of Mars and the preorder deal included a pack of Crusader Miniatures Gladiators of your choice. A few quid was quickly spent and I eagerly awaited the postman.

So a quick review is in order I guess. The book is a decent quality softback and reads nicely. The rules are only a few pages, less than 20 in all excluding character skills. The rest of the book covers the Gladiator types, 17 in all, beasts, skills and a very nice campaign system to build up your own Ludus. There are even tables to allow solo play, with the actions of the opposition being determined by their best capability in a fight.

The basic system is opposed dice rolls using D10's. Initiative is diced for using Agility, so the lighter(and quicker) fighters tend to gain an advantage. However a +2 modifier isn't overpowering, so there is always the chance that the heavy weight will sneak in and attack unexpectedly. You can appeal to the crowd to gain a favour dice, but if you fail it may give the extra dice to your opponent!

The basic Gladiator stats give the core capabilities for your fighter which are then modified by their weapon choice and their skills. The skills are what makes the system for me, the ability to get an extra dice for that crucial fight, reroll an armour save or even breakaway from a fight all make your fighters different. Do you equip your man with a Gladius, good in a sustained fight, or give him a longer Spatha which will give him an edge if he charges? Does he take Impenetrable, allowing a single armour reoll, or Shield Bash, allowing rerolls in all Push tests in the combat?

I really like them, so much so that I got my gladiator figures out and painted up the unpainted ones, then rebased them all to use for this system.

Rebased West Wind and EM4 figures
Here are the previously painted ones. Some even came painted from EM4 miniatures many years ago. Not 100% sure but I think that these are mostly West Wind figures(now OOP I think), plus the four from EM4.

Crusader Miniatures Gladiators
Then we have the newly painted ones, all by Crusader Miniatures and very nice they are too. All told I have 27 figures now covering all the main types I can see me needing.

Clovis, Drakon, Atticus and Britannicus
As I said earlier there is a campaign system and tables for controlling the opponent, so I have been playing with myself (ooh err missus). My Ludus has gone from two fighters to four in three game months. Of the original pair Clovis the provocotar is unbeaten with 7 wins and is a regional champion. Drakon, a hoplomachus, has a record of 5 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss. In March they were joined by Atticus, a dimachaerus with a record of 2 wins and 1 loss. Finally Britannicus the secutor was bought and has won his only fight so far. The Ludus has a balance of 90 coins but is at its maximum capacity for gladiators, so 200 coins will upgrade to a capacity of 6 and allow me to hire specialists such as a doctore(trainer) and medicus etc.

It is a good game and provides plenty of fun, even on your own. If you like gladiator games then consider this one.

That's it for now, I am off to the hospital again tomorrow for the results of tests and to see where I go from here. Six months of pretty continuous infections in my stomach is getting very wearing now. Sadly I will not be able to go to the Other Partizan either, due to my wifes father passing away. Ah well, I doubt that he did it on purpose. Catch you all(or both) later!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Clotted Lard and To The Strongest

As a long time attendee at the OML days up in Evesham I happy to share this forthcoming event in Exeter. The Devon Wargames Club is teaming up with Too Fat Lardies to host a day of Lardie games on September 8th. Details are included above, but there will be nine or ten games put on ranging from ancients, pike and shot, Napoleonics, Colonial and World War 2. It's all about having a fun day out and moving toy soldiers around a table.

Saxons on the right, Britons on the left.
Last Saturday the DWG club meet included a game of To The Strongest, put on by yours truly. A force of nasty Saxon raider types was out to cause mischief, but had been intercepted by the heroic Britons in all their Romanised glory. I have only watched the game played before so it was a bit of a dive in the deep end, as none of the others had played it either.

I sorted out the armies from my recently expanded Dark Ages figures, although options are limited for the Saxons. They can have warriors, warriors and more warriors, plus a single unit of cavalry and two of skirmishers. So the Saxon force was three generals(one senior) with three units of warriors each. The senior general had the single unit of noble cavalry and the other two each had a single unit of javelinmen skirmishers.

The Romano-British had a few more options. They had a senior general with three units of spearmen with added bows and one each of light cavalry and skirmisher javelinmen. General two had the same force except the skirmishers had bows. General three was mounted and led the cavalry arm with three units of javelin and one of lance armed cavalry plus another unit of light cavalry.

The game went fairly well, the Saxons gained the upper hand quite early as neither Jack nor myself could hit anything.  Luckily the youthful generalship of Charlie(aka son of Jack) was doing better against Christophers Saxon warriors. Jacks center line managed to steady after some good hits and my cavalry managed to lure some of JJ's warriors out of the woods and then outflank them on both sides.

Nasty Saxon Warriors ready to pillage etc

The sole unit of Saxon cavalry

Massed ranks of British cavalry

The British center, a thin line of spearmen

British right flank, deployed with a bit more depth

The woods are full of hairy Saxons

And so are the hills!

Nathan's warriors chase of the British skirmishers

They are just bullies really. 12 against 3!

Roman light cavalry try to get around the left flank

Saxons occupy the hill and dare Charlie to charge them.
In the end the game was won by some really unlucky armour draws by the Saxons, as the flanking cavalry routed two units and then Charlie saw off another. I like the way the rules play, it gives a fairly quick game and doesn't take long to get the system into your head. I plan to get my Republican Romans out and restart painting them, so more may be seen of this set of rules soon.

Thanks to Jack, Charlie, Christopher, Nathan and JJ for playing the game and JJ again for the pictures.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dark Ages and a wee boat

It's been a long time coming, but here is another small update. Things are ticking along as before, good days and bad etc. I have managed to get a bit of painting in and even a bit of gaming. Painting wise has mostly been Dark Ages troops for my collection. After starting out painting enough for Dux Brittanarium games, between 30 and 40 figures each side, I now have enough(almost) for a To the Strongest game with over 100 figures each side.

 So here are the newly painted figures. First up are 8 cracking Romano-British cavalry from Footsore miniatures. They are some of the best figures out there in my opinion and I will, eventually, get some more.

Then we have some plastic Gripping Beast and metal Black Tree Design cavalry. The Gripping Beast ones are ok, saved by the cost compared to metals but certainly not up to the standard of the Footsore ones. The Black Tree figures are nice, but the amount of work that needed to be done to the horses puts them off the future buy list. Sort out the molds fellas!

The next five photos are all Gripping Beast foot figures that I picked up on eBay for not much per figure or left over plastics from my Dux Brit forces. All together there are 117 assorted foot, a mix of spears, javelins, musicians and standard bearers.
 The shield and banner designs are all from LBMS and very nice they are too.
 I had thought I would have enough with this lot as it gave me a total of 32 horse and 240 foot but alas, I need some more archers.

Only 14 more admittedly, but it is still 14 more!

The reason for this is my To the Strongest Romano-British force has quite a few units of light infantry archers. I don't know if they are any good as we have only played the game twice, but I can have them so I will.

Here is the Romano-British army as it currently stands. Three generals, two units of cavalry, one of light cavalry, five units of pedites(spearmen), two units of mercenary Saxon warriors and five units of assorted light infantry. There are only three units of light infantry in the picture and they are missing a couple of figures, hence why I need 14 more.

 To face the Britons I have also put together a Saxon force. Three generals, one cavalry, eight warriors and three units of light infantry. A blunt instrument to be fair, but different to the Britons.

The other bit of painting I have done is a bit different, a small boat from China via eBay. It came as a plywood kit and looks pretty decent for a motor launch type of thing for future games. I have hidden some magnets under the deck so my pulp figures machine guns can be mounted on deck.

And that's it for now. I am playing To the Strongest at the Devon Club next month, so there will be a report on that at some point. Adios for now.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Wargames Foundry and Partizan 2018

As has become a regular occurrence, a bunch of Devon's least wanted headed north for a weekend of wargames in(or near) Newark. Nine of us went up, four from South Devon and the others from the other, less cultured areas.

An early start resulted in the now common sighting of the lesser haired Pingu in its natural state, asleep.

A quick stop at the hobbit hole(Gloucester Motorway Services) for a breakfast and a meet up with the others broke the journey before we headed on  to Wargames Foundry.
There we were amply fed and watered for a small fee, with tea, coffee, cold drinks, pastries, rolls, crisps and snacks all day while we used their table to play a multi-player Dark Ages fight using Dux Bellorum.
 Several hundred figures had travelled North in the two cars and went to battle to decide who was the one true king, Pingu or Steve.

Sadly it proved to be not Pingu as he fell in a blood sodden heap under the swinging blades of Steve and Toms masses.
 Here are the enemy and they are f-ugly! From left to right we have JJ, Tom(son of JJ), Steve the First, Chas the Knowledgeable and Vince the Demon Dice Roller. I didn't bother picturing the opposition 'cos we is even more f-ugly than they are.

After the day at Foundry we split up, the victors heading off to Lincoln to enjoy a victory curry will we headed off to our digs, via a shop for dinner and breakfast supplies. We usually stay at Lincoln Premier Inn when we go up but the price this year was a tad high at near £90 a room, so we had a look around and found a nice little place on Airbnb for just over £80 which could fit us all in. Turned out to be a lovely little cottage on a riding school with all the amenities you would ever need and very comfortable too. Best nights sleep I have had away from home for a long time. It had been a long day and we are all older than we like to admit, so we crashed pretty early and were up pretty early(except Nathan) for bacon and egg rolls and several cups of tea and/or coffee while watching the horses.

Sunday was spent at Partizan and a cracking day it was too. I caught up with some old friends, some who I have not seen for several years, saw some beautiful games and spent a bit of cash. I won't bother putting up a show report as JJ has done one far better and with much nicer pictures than I could, so I will just point you to his report of the show here. As usual though it is IMHO the best show in the country and I shall endeavour to make it up again next time.

Then we headed home in the sun. The sleeping Pingu made a reappearance, but too be fair I also had a snooze on the way back. Luckily Nathan didn't, as he was driving. A quick stop for fuel early on was turned into a quick stop for a refill of our bellies, so after a munch on KFC or a baguette we got back underway.

We had picked up a surprise present for our driver as a thank you for his services and a subtle comment on his demeanor at times 😉. A tasty snack which may be one of his 5-a-day, although I doubt it. Well, it does have peanuts in it!

Anyway, all told it was a cracking weekend, a nice trip away with decent company and a fun couple of days away. Bring on next year.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Painting and gaming

Yet again it's been a while since I posted, so here is a general update. I have done a bit of painting, I have done a bit of gaming. I have had good days and bad weeks, but I'm still alive so it's mostly good. 😉

 Painting first. Just lately I have been playing Dux Bellorum as we decided to play it as a group game on our lads weekend to Wargames Foundry and Partizan. The rules give a decent game and it's allover fairly quickly, which is good for an evening or afternoons game.

So some Dark Ages troops have come out of storage and had paint liberally splashed all over them. First up we have 6 standard bearers and 16 assorted foot, all Gripping Beast figures with LBMS shield and banner transfers.

Then we have 26 assorted foot types, a mix of plastic and metal GB with LBMS shields again. A nice addition to my previous Dux Britanniarum forces.

After Partizan I painted up another 5 standard bearers and 13 more assorted foot. All told I have about 150 foot figures done now, with about the same number still to go.

I have also painted some cavalry as a change and to give some options for my force. Firstly though I rebased the 8 I had already painted so they could all be used on the sabot bases I got from Warbases. Four each of heavy and light cavalry, a nice start for my cavalry force.

Then I painted the new additions. Somehow I had 4 mixed metal figures floating about, so they were painted along with the box of plastic Dark Ages Cavalry I had picked up. 24 should be enough for any force right?

So why do I now have 8 Footsore Romano-British Heavy Cavalry waiting to be painted? Why indeed! They are lovely figures though, really pretty.

Gaming has been a bit mixed, with several games of Dux Bellorum as mentioned previously interspersed with some games of Mythic Battles:Pantheon. Apart from that there has been not much done.

Here are a couple of pictures of our multi-player test game of Dux Bellorum. Six players, three each side with a mix of Romano-British, Welsh, Saxon and Raider forces. I won! At least that's how I remember it anyway. 😀

 Finally I managed to injure myself by falling over a box in a savage shark attack! No boxes were injured in ripping the crap out of my leg, but a fair bit of skin and blood was misplaced. Stupid box.

A Partizan and Foundry post will arrive tomorrow.

Tiger Day at Bovington Tank Museum

 A couple of weeks ago I got treated to a day out at the Tank Museum. My eldest son and his wife treated me to a ticket to Tiger Day and rather good it was too. The only running Tiger tank in the world and it's only allowed out twice a year, so it was something special. Before the tanks rumbled about we had a look around the museum as they have changed tings about since the last time I went.

First up here is a picture of No1 next to a Valentine tank. To give it perspective he is 6' 3"(1.9m to you metric types) so it shows you how small the Valentine is, even more so when you consider it had a crew of 3 men in there.

On reason to go back to the museum was to see the Tiger display, with several different Tiger variants that are not normally in this country. Here is the Panzerkampfwagen VIB Konigstiger. This beast is a true behemoth and towers over the offspring. This is an early Porsche version with the curved turret front which proved less effective than the more usual flat front Henschel version.

Then we had the truly oversized Jagdtiger, a tank destroyer that cost more than any tank it ever met. It is another impressive machine, but probably less effective than it was worth.

The usual Konigstiger is there as well, the flat front to the turret and the 3 colour camouflage make it stand out compared to the more drab dunkelgelb versions. This one lives at the museum full time but it was nice to see it next to its siblings.

The one I really wanted to see though was the Elefant/Ferdinand SPG. In many ways this was a fatally flawed design with not even one MG to deal with enemy infantry in it's initial variant. This was later rectified but it was another over-engineered machine that drained more resources than it warranted. Still it was very nice to see it and really gives you a perspective on the size of it. The one on display still has damage to it's armour from enemy fire in WW2. 

 On the day they ran a nice mix of tanks, so below are a few pictures of a few of the runners. It was rather busy as well with crowds on all sides. Sadly the Matilda I wouldn't play on the day but it was entertaining to see all the others. The list included a Valentine XI, Comet, Chieftain, the "Fury" Sherman, Kettenkrad, Panzer 68, M60, Leopard 1, Leopard 2 and the Tiger!

All in all it was a great day and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time with No1 son.