Friday, 26 October 2018

The Hunt for Red Octavia....

Another 15mm Three Musketeers Adventure....

 Scarlet woman and all round, naughty-but-nice, egg-about-town Octavia d' Eté, mistress of the influential Comte Tes-poules (and currently sought by His eminence the Cardinal for certain compromising correspondence concerning the relationship between the good Comte and herself, letters which she is believed to have about her - ahem - person) has secreted herself in the small town of Petiteville while awaiting a rendezvous with the Comte.
The Comte has arrived in this town this very morn, and he and his suite are currently using the cover of "enjoying" the (limited) pleasures of the town's weekly market.


The Musketeers intend to find Octavia, and ensure that she is safely escorted to the presence of the Comte himself, whereupon she may personally hand him the documents of concern - thus removing the chance of the Cardinal having access to items likely to increase his leverage re. the Comte...



Meanwhile, His Eminence the Cardinal, along with a number of his personal guard, have also arrived to attend the town festivities. Pure coincidence, of course.....
The Game set Up:
The Musketeers and various search parties of the Cardinal's Guard will be moving through the town, speaking to the civilians (of sundry types) around, in the hope of finding Octavia's hiding place.



There are also five of the Kings Musketeers in town (NPCs). Two are attached to the Comte's party, but three others are also searching for Octavia...
I will play the Four Musketeers and servant Planchet . The various other patrols & personalities will move randomly; making make random (dice) choices at waypoints/junctions UNLESS:

a) They contain elements who have previously obtained “info”. Such search parties will make their way towards a relevant/associated “info point” by shortest route. If more than one info point is involved/there is a conflict over which info point should take priority then again dice for this.

b) There is a gunshot: a gunshot will attract all non-player search parties, wherever they are on the table, to that location for three moves. If there is nothing else to draw them to that spot (more shooting, shouting or someone in LoS) within three moves of the original shot, they will resume patrolling.

c) There are sounds of shouting/sword play. These will attract all search parties within LoS or within 9” (as the crow flies) to that location. If the fighting/shouting stops, and there is nothing else to draw them to that spot (more shouting, shooting or someone in LoS) within three moves of the last sound of shouting/combat, they will resume patrolling.

d) There is a target or sus activity within LoS.




Most townsfolk are at the Fair (off table) and those civilians still about are divided into "ordinary/random folk", beggars, barmaids, filles de Joie and foodpads. Each type will react to questioning in different ways, and the reliability of their intel. will vary....


Neither side are actively seeking a fight UNTIL Octavia is discovered. However, tempers CAN erupt if, for example, there is an encounter in a narrow passage ("We do NOT give way, M'sieur") or if parties from either side are actively checking intel. too close to each other.

The Musketeers need to take Octavia to the Comte. The Cardinal's men need to take her to the Cardinal.

The scene is set.. On with the play.....

The Musketeers and Planchet spilt up - and start quizzing civilians.... Including footpads....




Footpads lurk here and there.... They will run from the Cardinal's men and non-NPC Musketeers, but speak to the Musketeer characters. If cornered by the Cardinal's Guards they dice for attitude (fight or yield). If they yield, and cooperate, they are let go.

 
 
Friendly barmaids are a good source of intelligence.... The green token below shows Planchet has some intel from the lass.... (Green = barmaid intel, Brown = civilian, Black = footpad. Blue = ladies of the night, Yellow = beggars) I haven't yet tested to see where this particular bit of info.might lead...




Also potentially helpful are ladies of negotiable affection...


 


Even respectable ladies can respond, if asked nicely.... But they're not as responsive to servants as they are to gallant musketeers........



Rochefort and the Cardinal's officers will do their share of quizzing too....




The game proceeds with various leads being uncovered - by both sides, but the Musketeers seem to be getting most intel. 

Meanwhile - a patrol of Cardinal's Guards and NPC Kings Musketeers come face to face at the north end of town. The Cardinal's men are up for a fight - but the King's men are discrete (tested for).. Intent on keeping the king's Peace they grudgingly give way..... This time.........



My lads question everybody..... Any news Gaffer..? The Intel. is suggesting the areas around the two town squares are looking the likeliest target areas..... 



The data is building up. The SW quadrant appears to be collecting possible leads...... My lads should be concentrating there....




But they are not alone.. The itel. is clustering there for both sides.... Rochefort and his men come face to face with my lads. There is some rapid dicing for attitude. Both sides seriously suspect the other of being up to something - but neither pass enough "aggression" tests to start a rumpus....




Lucky for me... I'm seriously outnumbered in this square at the moment...

They do, however, test their intel. This was one of the early moves, where I neglected to identify on the table which token was associated with which side (I did this later to save confusion)

The intel for the Cardinal's lads is no good, but the Musketeers have a possible lead...... They will dice for a detailed location within the quadrant..




The Cardinal's boys move off to do some more quizzing (they do not know about my lad's good intel). My lads move off too, as a bluff - but Octavia seems to most likely hiding in the brothel.........



The Cardinal's men carry on searching. The Cardinal himself gets involved - using The Force - of his personality - but gets nowhere.....


Meanwhile, the Comte takes a promenade into town.....



Watched by a footpad...... But he has bodyguards.... Footpads may prey on rich, vulnerable targets....




Up at the North end of the town things are kicking off.... Some cornered footpads make a fight of it (attitude dice) with the Cardinal's men.. Casualties ensue - and the shooting draws the patrols..... This is good for me, as my action is in the south....




After a tussle, two footpads and one Guard are down. But "Yay!" for the Cardinal. Some intel. for THIS quadrant from the captured footpad.......
.



My lads hustle Octavia from her hiding place, while the Comte considers the inn......




Rushing Octavia, unseen, across town is tricky. Luckily the Cardinal's lads - for the moment - are being drawn by the shooting towards the north.... We watch 

them carefully..



We bide our time, but not for too long, they may come back... "Come on missy.....".




But the Comte decides against a drink, and moves deeper into town.. This is good news for me, as it brings him closer... The dice are being kind......




But suddenly -  not so good..  Rochfort changing his mind (there has been no more shooting from the other end of town) and leading his boys back into the square with the inn is a pain.... They ignore my lads, as they are on a mission to get to the square, but that was close thing....I rush Planchet up to block the northern alley with his mule. Athos and Aramis run and block the alleyway to the square where Rochefort has led his boys, while Octavia, Porthos and D'artagnan scuttle towards the Comte's party.......



We run Octavia from cover, taking here face to face with the Comte... Contact is made. The documents are discretely passed over.... Job done - and no fighting....!!!!!    (Well, not with my lads...)


I love the stench of barely-washed French aristos in the morning.. It smells of.......Victory..!!!!!!



And after...? Well, the "Little People" have done their scurrying about and dying.... At the top it's game over and all friends together, as the Cardinal smiles away his frustration and the Comte breaths a secret sigh of relief......

Politics, politics. Toujours les politiques...........




Sunday, 21 October 2018

Tuning the Tables...

An Interim Post....

In between projects post Battle o' Hastings (We lost. Again...). Apart from nursing a few bruises later (see B. o' Hastings) and with nothing new to write up (just more painting of 15mm Blue Moon bods - oh dear...) I thought I'd tidy up a couple of my posts from the Solo FB group (from last year) re. my use of tables for Tactical Decisions.


In the pic below are some very simple example tables for the "AI" army I occasionally adopt for large battles, using a standard playing card deck, plus an example of a typical "Blinds Reveal" table (I use "Blinds" a lot - I love imponderables).

Usually Activation of "MY" forces will be by SP type tokens or cards. Enemy (AI) grand strategy or random activities will be dictated - on a draw of THEIR Army (or, sometimes, Division) token/s, then a draw from a standard playing card pack - by the appropriate Table. I will usually draw up such tables based on the scenario and backstory - or as dictated by the campaign where appropriate..



 

Although, in theory, my own sub-commanders will obey orders (yeah. Right..) there is scope of initiative for those reacting to circumstances or out of my Control Radius. An example of one of these tables is given below.




The above assumes I have an Enemy/Blinds on the table. The table below shows the kind of thing I use for when the enemy aren't on the table to start with. This table assumes use of firearms, but could be adapted for any missile-using AI enemy (e.g. bow-armed outlaws etc.).



For standard large battles my usual M.O. is that:


1) have a set of "General Orders" for the "AI army " based on the scenario/situation (e.g "Defensive Stance", "Aggressive Stance" or "Unknown Stance"). I then draw up a "General Table" (like Table 1 above) to add uncertainty on my part (e.g. see my "replaying" of the Battle of Watling Street post).

 

2) However, once battle has joined there will be situations where IMP provides an opportunity to the AI - e.g. a flanking opportunity. In such cases I do a quick, scribbled ad hoc table to see if the local commander sees and has the initiative to take advantage Again, in my Battle of Watling Street post, this happened - my left flank was doing reasonably well and pushing back the Roman right.  However, in following up that local success the flank of one of my units was exposed to a possible opportunistic attack from enemy cavalry. I scribbled a "proportionate table" to allow for the Roman cavalry unit c.o. to check if he would see - and be prepared to use his initiative and exploit - this opportunity. As it happened he did, charged my hitherto successful unit, broke it - and, as the reaction spread - broke my whole army... Brilliant - even if it did mess up the experiment...)


Below is a quick example of my tables "In Action".  Yes - heresy - these are 5mm figs, and I'm using SP cards rather than tokens for visibility purposes.

EXAMPLE:

OK: I have drawn up tables for this game based on the "Scenario Story" (a border clash between two rival Greek colonies out in the far and murky Celtic West) and the "Stance" of both parties. In this case both parties are aggressive.

The "Greek" tables below are for the AI (my enemy).


I have some friendly (presumably because I am paying them) Celts from the hinterland as allies. These will generally do as I ask, but since they are not actually "my guys" they have a table too.




The board and armies are set up. Turn sequence is as follows:

1) The "Table Phase"; I have a normal pack of playing cards (the "Table Deck") to activate the tables. Each move I throw a dice. On a throw of "6" on a 6d I draw one card from this pack and apply the result, moving the units/leaders affected as if this were a "normal game move" and they had been activated in Phase 2. I then discard this card.

Note that in this scenario, after two moves I add one point to the dice throw, increasing the chance of table activation. After the fourth move I add an additional point to this throw. Thereafter it will only take a throw of 4 to activate the Table Deck.

Once I have checked for/activated the table I then move on to Phase 2: the Leader Activation Phase.

2) Leader Activation Phase: Leader activation will be via the Sharp Practice cards (pictured) me having already written out which unit commander has which card leader number. There are some additional "Command" card in use to speed things along.

Once activated Leaders/units will move as "normal game rules" (in this case my House Rules) as per army stance.

The game then proceeds.

Move one - and no tables get activated this turn. Normal Activation as per the SP cards commence. Enemy are aggressive so as their units activate they will advance. The AI advances his skirmishers and
follows up with his phalanx and right flank cavalry.

I don't get a look-in.

At end move skirmishers exchange fire...



Move Two and the Table Pack dice throw activates the AI Pack.

A Jack o' Diamonds "Advance Right Wing to Flank Enemy and/or Deploy Reserve is drawn. The AI advances his right wing (cavalry) and I do a quick "does he add his reserve?" throw (1-3 No. 4-6 Yes). His right cav. & cav. reserve move round to threaten my flank...

Meanwhile the enemy's phalanx moves through his skirmish line and forms up.

MY Activation Cards allow me to adjust my left backwards to meet this threat AND to set my Allies moving.




Again the Table Pack activates (dice)and the enemy moves his phalanx (this is all one formation - formed of 4 units forward). My allies get charged, and recoil....

At end move all I can do is shoot my skirmishers...

 


Next go again the Table Pack gets activated - and the Enemy left gets a flanking order. However, there are walls and vineyards in the way, do to do this the enemy left cav. must take a detour....

Meanwhile their right cavalry (threatening my left flank) get no cards at all.

Thanks to Activation my CiC now gets the chance to inspire and swing my allies round and into the enemy phalanx left flank/rear, scattering his skirmishers in the process His leftmost hoplites break - and with one of my phalanx units charging his centre (lucky Activation card and plucky unit commander!!!) there is a chain reaction, with his whole phalanx panicking, prompting a route....  PHEW!!! NOT the result I expected at all, but none the less welcome for that......



Things could have gone very differently. My Allies could have misbehaved, the Activation Cards could have been totally different,  but as it was it was a short, sharp, fun game..

Well, I hope that was of some use as a basic demo. of the Table Activation & use. These aspects can be applied to any move/shoot/fight rules (I was using my basic SP/Featherstone House Rules)....

Any queries please ask as usual...

Next time:  another Musketeer exercise in Data Gathering (watch this space) then on with more 1/72 painting (1stC Jewish insurgents) ....


Friday, 12 October 2018

A "No Fighting" month... Well, almost......

October has come.....

More Three Musketeer skirmishing, solo board game playing (mainly Camp Grizzly) and figure painting (more "Musketeer" bods - Cardinal's Guards, sundry civilian folk & mounted bods) and other displacement activity has distracted me  from my "Main Projects"  - and the weeks scamper by apace.



I have also been having a look at the "Two Hour Wargames" mechanisms (which keep being recommended to me by other solo players).  They appear (from reading rather than playing) to do what my "House Rules" do, but with "blinds" and different mechanisms, plus period/scenario/campaign chrome I am happy to work out for myself. Seem good for someone not already an "Old Solo Hand" (now THAT sounds worse than I intended).

I will have a play before venturing on a "review" (something I usually avoid - esp. when a rule set is particularly popular.. Rules are such a personal thang).

Meanwhile have been building up and training folk (plus getting kit together - a sword and a seax are "de-rusting" even as I type and a couple of scabbards made) for "The Battle of Hastings" reenactment at (appropriately) Battle Abbey (let's not get drawn into "It didn't Happen there" controversy...) this weekend.....

"Secret van", the red WagonR "Mary Poppins" is packed for Hastings - almost (HOW do you lose a kite shield in a room 8ft x 8ft...?)

Beer and provisions to buy, final check, pick up warrior & load his stuff, then off for a weekend to battle William the Bastard....!!! Godwinson!!!!!!



(Unless they make us change sides again.... In which case "Normandie..!!!" )
 
Assuming my fingers survive, more painting and playing will commence the week afterwards  - in theory the rest of the musketeer bods, some more medievals and my seriously delayed Romano-Judean project (which looks like being a Winter one now....).

Onwards and upwards... 

Run For Your Life...

A "Naked Prey" Exercise... Another movie-themed game, this time based on the old Cornel Wilde piece - one of those recalled from...