Sunday, 12 November 2017

Mythic Battles: Pantheon

Yesterday I received my Mythic Battles: Pantheon God level pledge, the first ever Kickstarter project that I have backed. I was expecting a reasonably large box but in fact received two reasonably large boxes inside an even larger one.
The boxes came crammed full of models and cards and all sorts of other bits and bobs and so today I set to sorting it all out. The models themselves are plastic and came pre-assembled so you could pretty much play the game straight out of the box. Two of them had come away from the bases in transit but as they had been made in China and then shipped to Bristol via France that's pretty good. A quick dab of superglue later and they joined the happy throng.

I had pledged pretty much on the strength of wanting the models and at around £100 for over 100 models that feels like good value. The models are well cast with lots of good detail on them with only a little cleaning up going to be needed before they are ready to paint.

They can be split into a few groups : Gods & Titans, Monsters, Heroes and then Troops.

The largest model is the Titan who is an impressive 100mm tall and then the Gods are just below that with the Troops and most Heroes being about 40-50mm tall.

As such they are rather larger than the Mycenaeans that I already have but it is safe to assume that Gods & Heroes are better fed than the average foot soldier so should be a bit taller.

All of the Heroes, Gods, & Monsters are unique casts with only the Troops being single pose multi-figure groups.

The plastic used is of a good quality and seems tough, if fact Athena has already managed to draw blood when she jammed her spear into my finger, she is probably one to watch!

I hadn't really noticed before that the Greeks seem to have had a thing about snakes and lizards but the set contains a good variety of them.

Here you can see a size comparison with Achillles, Bellerophon, Athena, Hydra, & the Titan. With such a variety of scale and figure type the painting should be fun.

For the actual game part each unit comes with a stat card and those stats change as the unit takes damage, this is done with a slider to help keep track of the current stats, a rather neat trick. I did have a panic as the cards have the French version on one side and English on the other. On initial inspection I thought I had been sent a French set.

The game also came with two reversible maps, movement is done by areas rather than measuring, these came with a scenario book which no doubt with offer different modes of play.

I have not yet had a proper look at the actual game side but the games starts with players building an army from the pool of available units based on the cost of those units and then the aim is to either kill the opposing God or power up your God twice with mystical crystals. After a proper read I suspect all will become clear.

Units in the game are activated using cards drawn from a desk, the cards in the deck are decided by the units in your army. Some units will generate more cards than others and each unit has a special ability or two that it can use.

Overall I am very happy with what arrived and having taken a chance a year ago on the Kickstarter it is really good to get the final product in my hands.
I am now planning how to make the most of the models, with SAGA 2 inbound which will feature a ancient Greeks source book and the promise of including magical monsters and also Kings Of War being so flexible it may be I can use the models for three games.
I have also put some money into the latest Mantic Kickstarter called Kings of War: Vanguard again mainly based on the models, the Nightstalkers look very nice and rumour has it they will be allies for the Twilight Kin when we get a proper army list. Hopefully that KS will end up being as good as the Pantheon one.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

When Two Fords go to War

After a break of a couple of weeks Mick and I managed to pitch our forces into battle once more. The scenario this time was a 6 turn battle in which the aim was to get as many of your troops into the opponent's half of the board as possible whilst stopping them doing the same. This effort was hampered by the river across the middle of the table with only two crossing points.

This was the first game in which we used the terrain placement rules from Cross & Crescent and as I hoped to cut down the long range firing from the Normans I opted to put down a wood in Micks half and a LOS blocking hill near the ford I was going to try and cross. Once the terrain has been laid out ( players choose upto 3 pieces and then take it in turns to set down ) you get to choose one piece of terrain and if you roll high enough can move or even remove it. In this instance the terrain stayed put.
The Normans setup on a wide frontage and the Byzantines concentrated on the right side of the table aiming to use the terrain to reduce the Norman shooting. 

The first couple of turns saw the Byzantines push towards the right ford and the Normans efforts to move forward somewhat hampered by the woods. On the Byzantine left the Norman archers had a good field of view so the Byzantines hung back out of range.

The Normans then launched a surprise ( well to the Byzantines anyway ) charge across the right ford using an ability that lets them move through friendly units ( not normally allowed ) and giving them extra movement range. This almost wiped out a unit of Spear warriors and left the Byzantine Warlord in a dangerous position. 

Fortunately the spearmen and nearby bow unit weakened the cavalry enough for the Warlord and second unit of spears to wipe them out.
The Byzantines then pushed into the ford in the face of heavy Norman crossbow fire.

Over on the left flank the Byzantine cavalry had moved over to support the attack on the right ford and the Normans had moved forward a little but still not enough to get into shooting range.

This brought the game to the final turn and the Byzantines pushed as many troops across the ford as they could and even managed to get a cavalry charge into the crossbow men who had been happily shooting the infantry down. This lead to only one crossbowman surviving.

On the left the lone Byzantine archer unit had pushed up to the ford to try and stop any Normans crossing.

The Normans had the final move and facing a heavy defeat tried to reduce the Byzantines scoring by charging the cavalry near the right ford and also making a dash across the left ford with there Warlord and remaining cavalry unit.
On the right the Norman infantry did a few casualties but not enough to seriously reduce the Byzantine force across the river.

On the left the Byzantine archers put up a brave fight and managed to kill half the attacking Norman cavalry. This left the Normans with 6 Victory Points to the Byzantines 11 points, so the Byzantines returned back to winning ways, hooray !

This was an interesting scenario and I had initially thought it would turn into a slugging match in the ford but whilst the ford did serve to channel the fight we still had some maneuvering to do as well.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Knights are Drawing In

Once again family duties conspired to make sure no game was played this week but I did make some progress on my Knights of Lazarus. I now have all twenty-four infantry completed bar the base texture on the last eight.

Once I have the horses done for all the cavalry then I will make up a batch of the sand and polyfilla mix and get them all done at once.

I also need to start thinking about making a few banners to go on the troops, as I will have plenty of transfers left over I think they will be of the white paper variety.

The force so far has been really straight forward to paint as I have only needed to use the white and green so I have not needed to swap lots of paints around like you would with an irregular force.
Once I have the cavalry completed then I should have a little break before the Kickstarter project I backed launches which should then give me lots of lovely Greeks to paint. SAGA 2 seems to promise the prospect of mixing in some more mythological elements so I am sure I can make use of the Greeks I already have and the new arrivals to build a couple of armies.

Monday, 23 October 2017

KoW Campaign Battle #2 or It's the Scenario Stupid

Over the weekend my brother and I played the second encounter in our ongoing KoW campaign. He has already written up an account so I will not be spending much time going over it again. I will however wait whilst you go and read his write-up.

Welcome back. As you now know the result was a close victory for the Kingdom of Men by two Victory Points to one. This from my point of view was entirely preventable as I should have realised that I was not going to take the hill which had the chariot horde on ( Oliphant standing in ) with the forces that I had available on that flank.

Once I had cleared the cavalry then it would have been safe enough to shift some forces away from the left hand hill.

On the right I did manage to make some headway though the Breath Weapon teams lacked the range to move and shoot at the faster moving troops facing up to them. They did however act as a speed-bump to slow down the Air Elemental a little.

At the end of the battle I had enough firepower to clear the hill after the flying carpets had moved into my deployment zone but did not have the troops available to take advantage of that, it would have been more sensible to go for a draw rather than keep trying to push on for the 'Elephant' hill.
So the lesson to learn for the next game is to always keep the scenario in mind, considering that I generally forget to even take photos I am not sure how trying to do that as well will go.

For the next game we are increasing the army size to 2250 points, that presents an opportunity to look at the current list and reflect on what has worked and what can be changed up. The good news is that as I have lots of troops to choose from then I have the option to do some tinkering. 

The next game will see us fighting to grab as many of the Artefacts as we can before the fight towards the Gates of Kyron begins, this will probably be another brutal game as the forces clash over the three magical items.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Loot the Houses

Having given some thought to Byzantine tactics last week I was able to put some theory into practice with a pair of games against Mick and his Norman hordes. Following standard procedures only a few pictures of the second game survived long enough to be uploaded. The Normans fielded the same force each game :

1 Mounted Leader
2 units 6 Mounted Hearthguard
2 units 4 Warriors on Foot
1 unit 8 Warriors with Crossbows on Foot
1 unit 12 Levy with Bows on Foot

The first game was a voyage of discovery as we both tried to work out what was the best way to use our boards and ended with the Norman Leader being killed and the Normans lacking the Saga dice to play on. The second game was our first playing anything other than a straight kill scenario and battlefield featured two buildings with the aim to be to protect the building in your half of the table and loot the one in your opponent's half.

The Normans started with all the Hearthguard on the right flank and then the Levy archers in the centre with a good field of fire and the rest of the Warriors deployed to protect the building.

The Byzantines started with a unit of Warrior spearmen and archers on each flank and the unit of eight mounted Hearthguard deployed in the centre.

The Normans have a useful ability that allows them to double the range of archery so the Levy would pretty much stay put whilst the Norman knights pushed forwards towards the Byzantine house and the crossbowmen advanced towards the cover of the woods on their left.
The Byzantines pushed up to occupy the wood on their left flank with the archers and the gap between that and the house with the Warrior spearmen. The Hearthguard made a cautious move across to the table towards the Byzantine house being careful to stay out of range of the Norman levy fire, On the right flank the warriors pushed forwards towards the Norman house.
At this point one of the Norman Hearthguard units unleashed a devastating charge that wiped out the Byzantine spearmen by the house and then pushed their tired horses on into the archers in the wood inflicting heavy casualties and forcing them to retreat.Unfortunately for them this left them tired and without support and a decisive charge by the Byzantine cavalry wiped them out without the loss of a single Byzantine.
On the Byzantine right the two infantry units advanced steadily and exchanged some fairly ineffective fire with the Norman crossbowmen who stayed hidden in the woods.
On the Byzantine left the second Norman cavalry unit had advanced but was again wiped out by a devastating Byzantine cavalry charge, this time however they managed to take half the Byzantines with them.
At this point the game was drawing pretty much to a close ( after 6 turns ) and neither side had managed to claim any loot. A last ditch attempt by the Byzantines to clear the woods of the Normans only managed to inflict minimal casualties and could not clear the gap they needed to reach the house.
With no Victory Points for looting being scored we did a quick count up of the slaughtering points and even though the Byzantines had killed 12 Hearthguard for the loss of only 4 ( 1 point each ) the Normans had killed enough Byzantine Warriors ( 1/2 point each ) to win a narrow victory.
Playing a scenario really helped to spice the game up so we agreed to do the fighting over the bridge/ford scenario next.

I have also made some more progress on the Milites Christi troops this week with the crossbows and the first unit of warrior foot being completed.

The basing method using the Polyfilla worked well and for the moment I have not added any extra grass effects to the base.

Again this army has no Levy troops so I have eight more Warrior foot to complete and then twelve mounted Hearthguard and a Leader to round off the whole army.

This week I also played the second of the Artefacts of Kyron Campaign battles as my brother came over. I even managed to take some pictures of that one so it deserves it's own post which will be coming up in the next couple of days.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Byzantine Tactica

With this week's game delayed until tonight I am again spared the task of doing a battle report which I have forgotten to take half the photos for. I have however made some progress on my Knights of Lazarus using Fireforge Templar models and some rather nice transfers from Battle Flag. I have not yet completed a unit but the eight Sergeant Crossbowmen have been Quickshaded and are waiting for that to dry before being varnished. I am also trying a new basing technique using a mixture of Polyfilla, sand and acrylic paint, this has gone on pretty well but seems to be taking a while to set fully ( 4 hours and counting ).

The bases look pretty good so far and I will give them a wash and then a dry brush to add some depth. I am not sure whether to add any grass or bushes or just leave them as a plain sandy base, once I have finished the dry brushing it may be more clear cut.
I have also started on some Sergeant Spearmen and took a quick picture just to show how much the Quickshade adds with a minimal amount of skill/effort on my part.

With the Byzantines about to have their first outing I have been giving some thought to the best way to use the Battleboard.

With my list from last week in mind I would expect a standard setup for the Byzantines to be the two units of Warrior spearmen in front with the Warrior archers behind and then the Hearthguard cavalry holding one flank.
The board has two abilities you can use during the opponent's turn, Mutual Support & Common Efforts. Mutual Support can be activated with any dice if an enemy is activated with 6" of a bow armed unit. I'm not sure how useful this will be as I don't have any bow armed Hearthguard and most likely the foot archers will be hidden behind the spearmen. Common Efforts can be activated with a common dice and allows you to move 2 fatigue to another unit, this could be very useful for moving fatigue from a melee unit to a supporting archer unit.
Normally units cannot shoot through another unit so placing a ranged unit behind another unit would render them useless, with Massed Archery ( costing a common & uncommon dice ) this restriction can be ignored allowing the archers to fire safe from enemy attentions. This is quite an expensive ability but I suspect one that will be used pretty often until the battle lines close. Support Archers also allows the Byzantines to ignore LOS blocking and only costs one dice ( uncommon or rare ) but will most likely only be used when a charge is received due to the range restrictions on it. Strategikon will also mostly be used when receiving a charge so it may be that the Byzantines best tactic for the infantry is to get in bow range and then try to draw the enemy into combat rather than charging in themselves.
For the cavalry they can make use of two abilities, Kontos will allow them to hit hard as well as be activated for a movement, the cost of an uncommon and a rare does make this expensive though. Withdrawal will allow the cavalry to make a long range charge into enemy lines and then disengage 12" rather than the normal 4". This should leave them back within friendly lines and possibly mean the enemy cannot charge them before they can shed some fatigue. This would seem to be a good ability for picking off units and then getting out of Dodge.
Of course no plan survives contact with the enemy so we will see what those tricksy Normans try this evening. The Normans are also an army balanced between shooting and fighting so we may see a shooting match develop before the melee units get stuck in.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

For the Emperor

This week Mick and I finished off sticking his Normans / Early Crusaders together and onto bases so again we did not get a game in. Now that they have been completed we should be back to actually pushing models around a table next week.

I did complete my Byzantine army this week and now have seven points of troops to choose from.

In SAGA the normal army size is 6 points with your general being free ( unless you choose a special general ) 1 point = 4 Hearthguard = 8 Warriors = 12 Levy with the troops being less effective individually as the number you get for a point increases.

I have painted up 3 points Hearthguard making for 12 mounted men and 4 points of Warriors making 32 foot troops as well as a mounted General.
Once you have purchased your troops they can then be split into units of between 4-12 men and given equipment.

The Byzantines have the option of arming the mounted Hearthguard with bows ( also lowers their armour ) or as I have done sticking with the Kontos. The Warriors can either be spearmen or archers ( again lowers armour ) and the Levy are always armed with Javelins. The equipment options vary between factions with some getting more options than others but all following historical lines, so no mounted Viking armies for instance.

The main difference between SAGA and the standard wargames rule set is that it uses a unique Battleboard for each faction with abilities being activated by placing dice on them. The dice are generated at a rate of 2 for your General and then 1 per unit of Hearthguard or Warriors. A maximum of 6 dice can be rolled each turn so you want to make sure that you have enough units to generate at least that many dice and if a unit is lost then it generates no dice. Each SAGA dice has 3 common symbols, 2 uncommon, & 1 rare so some abilities will be more difficult to activate than others.

The Byzantine Battleboard is built around cooperation with abilities that allow you to shoot through your own units and into combat as well as a couple of abilities for the Kontos armed Hearthguard. This would seem to favour a balanced force of spears, archers and cavalry.

My initial idea is to field 2 points of Hearthguard and 4 points of Warriors organised into :

1 General
1 Unit 8 Hearthguard
2 Units 8 Warrior Spearmen
2 Units 8 Warrior Archers

The Hearthguard could be split into 2 smaller units but having a decisive charge with one larger unit stacking the favourable abilities may prove more useful than the flexibility of two smaller units, only time will tell.

The advantage of a nice skirmish game is that the army does not take long to get painted and ready for the table so I also have some Military orders chaps to paint up and they should be appearing soon(ish).