Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Pantheon Interlude

A very quick update as I have managed to paint a few of the troops that came with Mythic Battle : Pantheon. I have sketched out an KoW army list for these figures and wanted to get an idea of how they would paint up. Starting with the groups of troops rather than the main character models gives some freedom to muck up if needed.

Skeleton Warriors

I also wanted something that would be quick to do whilst I waited for the Pagan Rus / Viking models to arrive.

The models are well put together so didn't really require any cleaning up but the second group benefited from a quick wash as the paint didn't quick stick to the larger surfaces on the Skeletons.

Spartan  & Myrmidon Warriors

I haven't decided on a basing theme yet for the army so at present they are just getting a plain black base.

I also started the Bellerophon on Pegasus model as it looks rather good so hopefully that may be completed by the weekend. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Milites Christi Tactica

The Milites Christi are the second faction I have gathered for SAGA and unlike the Byzantines they have a special mechanic on their board. Many of the factions created after the initial SAGA release have a special twist that helps establish their theme. The Milites Christi mechanic is called Piety and several of the abilities are more effect the higher your Piety. Piety is raised by sacrificing your SAGA dice, it requires rare or uncommon dice and one more dice than your current Piety must be spent to raise the Piety by one. As you would need to sacrifice four SAGA dice to get a Piety of four it is unlikely that you will often go above three.

The Battleboard

The effect of Piety can be seen straight away with the abilities above the Piety line ( these are your 'normal' abilities that are generally multi use on most boards ) with both the Activation & Combat pools benefiting from a higher Piety. Also as the Milites Christi do not have Levy troops the activation for them has been replaced by the Prayers ability, this ability can only be used once a turn. As Piety can only be raised once a turn then a cautious approach at the start of battle whilst you build up your power level is probably best advised. The combat pool also requires rare or uncommon dice as do many of the better abilities on the board so once combat really starts you will not want to be sacrificing dice to raise Piety.

M.C. & Normans line up for battle, the objective is
to kill the opposing Warlord.

The first ability is Armour of Faith which can be activated for only a common die and as you are likely to have at least one spare most turns it should see plenty of use. Having 2 extra defence die if you cannot activate the Combat Pool or even in addition to that is very handy. Another ability that will probably get a die left on it against shooting armies is God is Merciful, this allows you a free move ( hopefully into combat ) after taking a casualty against ranged troops. As cavalry are weak against shooting then having the option to strike back immediately against the biggest threat to your cavalry could be very helpful. 

With their Warlord hidden the M.C. right advances using the
hills as cover against the Norman shooting.

Another ability that only needs a common die and should be used most turns is Deus Vult which stops your opponent from spending the fatigue on your mounted troops to slow them down. This means you can multi-activate your chaps, build up fatigue and still get to the enemy, it also combines very nicely with another ability. By the Book allows you to convert your fatigue into attack dice so this encourages you to over activate your troops, build up some fatigue and then get stuck in. This works best when you initiate the combat as the attacker uses abilities and spends fatigue first. Using both these abilities and the extra dice for over activating means you probably won't be doing much else with your other units though.

The first M.C. unit of knights tangles with some Norman mounted
Warriors leaving both units heavily damaged. meanwhile the Norman
Warlord rides over to plug the gap.

The board also has an ability to discard all fatigue at the end of a combat, Martyrs, so potentially not only could you use all your fatigue before your opponent can spend it you can also remove the one fatigue you gain at the end of combat. Of course if the enemy cannot reach you in their turn you may want to leave it on so that your next By the Book has even more fatigue to fuel those extra attack dice. 
The last ability I actually got to use this week was For the True Cross, this encourages the use of small units or the sacrificing of a damaged unit. Being able to bring most enemy troops down to an armour of 2 ( so you hit on anything but 1's on a D6 ) is excellent and whilst it is expensive it will also mean lots of models being removed by your opponent.

The result of a For the True Cross charge, 4 Norman Warriors
removed and the miraculous survival of the M.C. knights. The Norman
Warlord is left close to the knights so he has to charge them.
Repent, Sinners looks to be a excellent way of clearing lots of levy troops, with my regular Norman opponent favouring 2 points of Levy archers then it has the potential to cause massive damage to the Norman shooting line. Blasphemous War Cry would likely only be used in the last turn of a game or perhaps as a last throw of the dice gamble when all has gone wrong. Potentially you could generate a large number of extra dice but as always only upto twice the number generated by the unit itself. This is my Body is a good ability for when your opponent leaves a lot of Melee abilities with dice on in your turn, being able to render them useless should turn the advantage in your favour. Again only useful when you initiate the combat as the attacker uses their abilities first. Finally we come to This is my Blood which for a mass activation ability is pretty good, these can be tied to a radius around your Warlord on other boards. You also get an extra 4" of move for your mounted troops so it helps them reach out to the enemy. 

Having killed the 2 knights left from the first unit the second
unit of knights charges in and kills the Norman Warlord, he
did take 3 knights with him though.
Whilst the Milites Christi can take crossbowmen the battleboard really offers nothing to help with shooting so this is a melee focused army. Having the ability to get your mounted troops to make multiple activations that cannot be slowed down and then convert the fatigue into attack dice once they arrive would seem to encourage a bold use of the cavalry. Of course being overly bold may lead to the loss of all your best troops, so a careful balance will need to be struck. In the one game I played I included an Religious Advisor as he allowed me to roll seven SAGA dice rather than the normal six. As you need to sacrifice dice at the start of the game having an extra one to burn meant I was not overly disadvantaged by the Piety mechanic. I also of course had to make sure that my warband generated seven dice so I went with 3 points of Hearthguard, 2 points of Warriors and the Priest organised as ( the warlord is free ) :

Warlord - 2 SAGA dice generated
Priest - 1 SAGA dice generated
2 * 6 Hearthguard ( mounted knights ) - 2 SAGA dice generated
1 * 8 Foot Warriors - 1 SAGA dice generated
1 * 8 Foot Warriors with Crossbows - 1 SAGA dice generated

This gave me seven SAGA dice and when later on in the game I lost a unit of Hearthguard I was able to use the Priest's ability to roll one extra dice at the expense of gaining a fatigue to keep the number of SAGA dice rolled up at seven.

If I wanted to paint more cavalry then I would consider getting some mounted Warriors as they would get to use most of the good abilities, perhaps that will be one for the future as I have some Vikings to paint now.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Knights of Lazarus

The good thing about SAGA is that as it is a skirmish game you can build an army pretty quickly, especially if you aren't going for a super detailed paint job. So it hasn't taken very long for my second warband to be completed. The Knights of Lazarus looked after lepers and also had a number of leper knights . The main draw for me was they had a rather nice green & white uniform which makes a change from the normal red or black with white.

The army was built from 1 box of Fireforge Templar mounted knights and one of foot knights and then a Gripping Beast General and mounted Priest.

So as well as being quick to paint the army was cheap to purchase. The two boxes give enough troops for 12 Hearthguard and 24 Warriors in SAGA speak, which nicely equates to 6 points. The mounted priest gives the option to either run a seven point warband or drop a point of warriors.

The transfers have worked really well and I was able to use some with plain paper to knock up some banners to go with the units. I use them just to add colour to the units but SAGA does allow units to have a banner bearer who does not fight but does allow the unit more flexibility in resting.

Like the Byzantines the main strike force of the warband is it's mounted troops and the infantry play a supporting role. It is possible to have the warriors as mounted troops as well but I'm not sure I can face painting more horses for the moment.

The model kits from Fireforge are really good with plenty of options in them. I liked the spears the infantry came with so much that I have ordered some spear sprues for use in the future. They make a good solid plastic spear that stays nice and straight, I find the metal ones always have a  bend to them.

The only real oddity was the length of the cavalry lances which seems very long, I'm sure they are scale accurate they just look a bit over sized.

Now of course the real bonus of being able to complete an army quickly is that you can start planning the next one. With SAGA 2 inbound then many of the existing battle boards will not be updated straight away. As it happens neither the Byzantines or Milites Christi will be in the first army book released so I have decided on a Pagan Rus army. The Rus are an all infantry force ( hurray ! ) who have a heavy norse influence, so I could also play Vikings with them.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Artefacts of Kyron Campaign Battle #3

The third battle in the ongoing KoW campaign saw the Kin and Men fighting to take control of three artifacts left by the god Kyron. The artifacts need to be carried by a unit and bestow benefits to the units carrying them.

Sword of Striking – unit gains Elite rule for melee
Armour of Recuperation – unit gains regen 6+ , this does not stack if unit already has regen
Banner of Kyron – unit gains inspiring

The size of armies was increased to 2250 points as more troops joined the campaign and I took the chance to make a few changes to my force. I felt I needed a little more long range punch and also a bit more close range face punching. I drafted in some Lycans who I wanted to use as I really liked the models and also a Horde of Crossbows with extra range.

The opposing Kingdom of Men decided to stick with their previous basic composition but added extra cavalry leading to an army which had plenty of reach in the charge phase.

The KoM General searching for even more troops !

The artifact tokens ended up being evenly spread across the table with each side putting a big push on their right hand flank and not contesting the left. Due to the Men's units being cheaper they had a greater holder force on the Kin's right.

The Kin army

The massed KoM cavalry

KoM centre

The battle itself proved to be a bloody affair, at least for the Kin as the Men unleashed some devastating ranged attacks and pushed forward with their mounted troops.

The Kin also pushed forward and due to the speed of the Lycans turn one saw a fight break out for the middle token. The Kin's long range fire also wavered the mighty Oliphant with the Kin fast troops ready to charge in on turn 2. On the Kin's left flank things looked more critical as the mass of KoM cavalry moved quickly forward.

As the centre was the scene of a fierce fight we ruled that both sides would be busy trying to kill each other rather than trying to wrestle the artifact free. On the KoM right they took control of the Sword and the Kin moved forward on their right to take control of the Amour.
At this point things went badly wrong for the Kin, in rapid succession they lost the Reaper Guard Regiment, Blade Dancer and Gargoyle troops and Shadows Regiment all without loss to the KoM forces. The KoM also shut down the Horde of Crossbows with their Air Elemental and the Lycans followed soon after. This allowed the KoM to seize the Standard of Kyron as well.

As the Lycans were about to be overwhelmed the Kin right started to make progress and managed to wipe out the Oliphants and the Regiment of Sergeants facing them and then threaten the infantry towards the centre.

Some more accurate ranged fire managed to wipe out another Regiment of Reaper Guard and only the onset of night ( well lunch in fact ) allowed the Kin to slip away with one artifact. Many Kin had perished in the battle and despite it only lasting 4 turns a lot of ground had been covered especially by the KoM cavalry.
The KoM made it three wins in a row so far in the campaign and as such get to choose the field of battle for the next game. This will see the opposing armies foraging for supplies either in the woods or plundering the local farmlands.

I also managed to get a game of SAGA in during the last week with Mick using the Attack at Dawn scenario. This uses tokens to represent the difficulty of identifying the enemy forces on a misty morning and the idea is to decide on the best time to reveal them. Hidden forces cannot fight or shoot ( or be shot at ) but if you stray to close to the enemy ( or they to you ) then your forces are automatically revealed.
The game itself was really interesting to play but did not make for great photos.

We also kept the force composition secret ( in a change to the rules in the book ) and the Normans fielded no Knights but lots of mounted Warriors and shooting levies in a change to their previous lists. The Byzantines went with less shooting and got badly handled by the Norman archers, so more thinking required by me for the next game.

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.