Friday, 24 August 2018

Hash-ups I have Known.......

The experiments that went wrong….

Still the fighting season (Dover Castle t'other week, Battle of Bosworth last weekend, Hever Castle this weekend coming) therefore bruises, cuts and abrasions in place of gameplaying/BatReps or painting, so a little musing on past Solo failures.....

As an inveterate tweaker & dabbler I will often experiment with concepts and methods in ways only suitable for inflicting on oneself (one of the many the advantages - or pitfalls - of Solo play).  From the large scale (the “Battle of Watling Street” debacle) to the relatively tiny (RPG or hunting/chase/robbery/rescue games) they are always fun - if not always successful first time around..

Below is a précis of some of the ones that “need further work”… 

"The You’ll do it My Way Fiasco”:

A RPG adventure concept, wherein I was trying to play as the  “Dungeon Master”, rather than “Adventurer”: setting out my dungeon, deploying clues, secret doors, obstructions, guardians etc. in order to manipulate a group of adventurers so as to get them where I wanted them to be (i.e. outta my face with minimal loss to my minions and maximum embarrassment to the “Heroes”..).

Unfortunately, in actual trials the Adventuresome parties did NOT cooperate: proving to be...:

Too stupid, unobservant or slack to discover my carefully placed clues.

Too blind to stop themselves walking blithely into trap-filled corridors..

Too cautious to follow my carefully briefed “chase me” sentries.

Too suicidal when confronted with a fight – e.g. throwing themselves against superior forces etc. etc.

Although driven from my lair with bloody noses, the Adventurers were NOT steered into doing what I wanted… They almost seemed to have minds of their own, dammit…. 

I said DON'T answer the door.........

Also, once my dungeon had been designed & set up my only “job” was running my minions around as bait or into “blocking positions” (and occasionally combat I wanted to avoid), so that my role (apart from throwing dice to see what the Adventurers would do) was quite limited and (as I should have foreseen) passive….

An interesting reversal of the usual Solo Dungeon Crawl,  but not interesting enough to repeat.

The “No Throne Left Unturned Stalemate":

The peasants are revolting (not); wherein a peasant army was supposed to give me headaches by throwing themselves against my defences, while I deployed my tiny band of tooled-up professionals to defend my little Tower of Strength against their waves of active assailants. Basically a test of my abilities to plug gaps with minimal resources  (think “The Warlord”… Or “Zulu” with peasants & polearms in place of impis with iklwa).

Except they wouldn’t….  They stood, and stared, and “tested”, but neither the desire for social justice, vengeance and loot, nor revolutionary spirit, nor inspirational leaders could tempt them into throwing themselves against my crossbows and castellations.. Even sending a Forlorn Hope out to provoke them was a waste of time (the bovine peasantry stood & stared..).  
As a
jaquerie it was a total sell - and when the relieving party arrives the serfs just did a runner ("Scarper lads, it's the rozzers...")

"The Seven Sherwooders Situation":

Build a medieval "Merrie Englande" village. Place peasants terrified of rampaging Routiers due to return to, well, rampage again... Advertise "Servile population of a collection of hovels at risk of general massacre and attendant horrors seek suicidal volunteers to die to protect their chickens, pig and daughters from murderous marauders. All the parsnip pottage you can eat. .  Please apply to etc.etc. "

An everyday story of down-trodden folk....

Add seven of Sherwood's Finest.

Use "Preparation Points" to deploy - do I train and organise the peasantry or get them to build defences - or a bit of both...? Do I set ambushes.  This bit was fun.......

Cue the bad guys (controlled by dice driven tactical decision table). Three times they decided "Oh what the hell, just rush 'em". Departure of villagers in panic. Death of the "heroes".....

I used the same principles for a larger game; more outlaws and the assailants being the Bishop of Huntingdon's enforcers. Who turned up en-mass.... With (event card) reinforcements in the form of Prince John and a right Royal Retinue of professional killers.... THAT ended badly.....

"Thaaaasands of them...."

I think I set the bar too high for myself with that one.....

"The Watling Street WTF!!!":

This was a “Crowd Control” experiment, in which, acting as Celtic C. in C.
I had to coordinate my card-controlled polyglot army of disparate Celtic tribes and their bolshie Big Men; getting them to draw the enemy Romans into MY kind of fight – avoiding a “charge, get pilumed, get charged and get broken piecemeal” approach – skirmishing, drawing them down to the flat and flanking, before overwhelming the legions with my superior numbers...  I didn’t expect to actually win, but the point was to test my organising skills….  With all of my “near enough” Celts & Romans on the field this was as Epic as I get.

Things began well enough, with my skirmishers and chariotry peppering the passive Romans. The Tiber Boys were expected to be pretty static in their good defensive position; presumably “hoping” to draw me into THEIR kind of fight. There WERE options for actions on their part, to keep me off balance, but the odds were that they would be “sensible”.

As might be reasonably expected their skirmishers engaged (“So, trying to provoke me into YOUR kind of bash eh..?”). My cavalry responded against orders, and got battered for their trouble, but nothing drastic. Then….. Oh, oh…..

"Here they come; shiny as shiny and thick as planks..."

“General Advance” sounded from the other side of the field and the whole enemy shooting match came down the hill at me at speed….. While my general scurried around trying to organise things the serried ranks of legionaries pushed onwards, squeezing out my chariots & skirmishers and making my life thoroughly difficult…. Instead of organising an attack on the flanks I was managing shaken and disorganised bodies of men,  trying to preserve my centre – while my “Big Men” did exactly what I didn’t want; launching penny-packet attacks and generally getting bloody noses for their pains.

Things went pear-shaped very quickly. My bods were getting shaken and pushed back wherever the Romans came to grips, my best warriors were already down and some units were having to be rallied. The Latinistas were suffering from their rash attack in places (mainly shock) but things were going badly for me. A local success on my far left by an over-confident Big Man only ended up presenting an open flank “Target of Opportunity” to the enemy cavalry. They charged, he broke – and the drop in my Army Moral triggered a route…..

Best laid plans etc.   I will try this “Crowd Control” experiment again (and write it up properly at some stage). 


Well, those are the most interesting fiascoes (fiasci?). When time becomes available I will be delving into more projects and BatReps. Meanwhile; the Battle-Wagon is packed (my "Mary Poppins's Carpet bag of a small car - a Suzuki WagonR;- if a vehicle can't take an eight and a half foot spear it's no good to me) and it's off to do a three day Pirate show at Hever... "Arrrrrs" are NOT obligatory.....



  1. A very interesting post.
    I often plan on paper and fail to do more as another scale or period enters my head. I blame the damned magazines and bloggers :0)

  2. Cheers... Too many inspirations.. Too little time.... :)

  3. That´s one heck of a lot of Celts/Romans!!
    Where oh where does one get a Tom Baker and Sarah Jane Smith in 1/72nd scale!? Do tell.

    1. Yep - this was a "biggie". I don't usually field armies this big, but I'd painted up "too many" (ha, ha - as if there could ever be such a thing)Romans so all my "nearly Celts came out to play too....

      I think, strictly speaking, the Good Doctor & pal RE "old fashioned" 25mm from Citadel miniatures; dragged out of their boxes for a bit of silliness... :)

  4. I often learn the most from the failed experiments, still frustrating at the time mind, especially when you have it planned out and are sure it can't fail!. Nice to see heroquest getting an outing too!.

    1. So true...
      I find the ol' Heroquest (and, indeed the old Space Hulk) tiles, very useful.... :)

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