Sunday 29 January 2012

DBMM at Cancon 2012 - Day 3

Day 3, and it was to be a Russell-fest. After being handed a well-padded portion of my anatomy by Aaron and his Khitan, I was facing Zac and his New Kingdom Egyptians for total mastery of Egypt. I invaded, and bad terrain in the centre saw the table essentially split in two. I hadn't looked forward to this game, as I thought it would be a very tough opponent, and with an 'Inert' general, his army would be really big (although very immobile).

When I saw the terrain, I decided to mass in the open ground between the waterway (Nile) and the rough in the centre, go deep and try to overwhelm him with numbers and PIP pressure. Much dancing inhibited by poor pip rolls on a crucial occasion, and I managed to take down one command, with the moral penalty breaking another. A very bloodthirsty game, where weight of numbers locally and the ability to refocus effort using PIPs gave me an advantage. The Turcomans did break, and I lost 40% of the army all up, so an 18-7 and the True Egyptians triumph.
Ayyubids massed behind Turcoman Light Horse.

A view from the Alexandria Lighthouse - the NKE in the distance never got into the game.

Nice looking NKE - DPS I think?
OK,  game 5 out of the way, and despite giving away a lot of points, I can still make an impact in the final standings, provided I do ok in the last game. Greg Russell, who used Ottomans with an Albanian ally. I set up with the Turcomans on my extreme right, CinC in a double line, and behind him my sub. You can see the game at a crucial point below. The sand coloured bases are my Ayyubids outflanking his line behind a difficult going (narrow) river, the Ghulams pushing forward to engage his Janissary Bow, and some of my other cavalry turning back towards my base edge to head off a home run by the Albanian ally.
Exciting times.. my base edge is to the right..
Sadly for me, this game was notable (for me) for the number of times an extreme dice split went against me, so I managed to intercept his fast light horse and overlap with my ordinary light horse, only to then get a 1-5 split that cost me that element. Another 1-5 cost me a cavalry that intercepted the Albanians by marching into them, and there were too many 6-1 splits to remember that cost me Ghulam superior cavalry. Even when I hit his elements behind, it did nothing, even at 3-0 and 4-2. Overall, although I kept throwing the Cavalry into the Bow, I never got the dice roll (beat him by one in his bound, or two in my bound) to do any damage.

Overall, very frustrating, and I was really getting stressed when no matter what I did tactically, virtually nothing came off as I simply couldn't roll high enough to beat him. I suspect my loudly expressed disbelief at his combat dice was very unsporting. It didn't help when a little known wrinkle in the rules cost me another superior Ghulam. Eventually the 6's told and the Turcomans broke, causing the sub also to break following his losses in superior Ghulams, and game over.

At this point I had disheartened one command and taken nearly a quarter of his largest command. If I had survived another bound it would have been interesting. I was likely to have broken one command (he had his own superior cavalry exposed with a general able to make a flank attack), and the transferred morale penalty would have disheartened his largest command.

Third place overall, behind Greg & Aaron. I handed the discount voucher to John the organiser. I have too much lead already.

Anyway - 3 days of DBMM is too much for me. Too stressful, too fraught, and I don't have the temperament for it at the moment. I am going to take a break from competitive wargaming for a while, and see if I can't get my head in the right frame of mind to return to the table more relaxed and more capable of coping with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/dice-rolling.

Saturday 28 January 2012

DBMM at Cancon 2012 - Day 2

Day 2 - Game 3 - late.. arrghhhh! a little bingle (that's Australian for 'Minor Accident') on the road ahead of me caused a traffic delay, and I didn't get there till 20 minutes after due time. Richard Cornwell (Yuan Chinese) was very understanding and we kicked off in plenty of time to get a result.

No photographs again, though Richard took a few with his Canon EOS, so I hope to get some to add later. Again I was defender and there wasn't much terrain to speak of. I deployed to my right with the Turcoman Light Horse, and two blocks of Cavalry behind in the centre. Richard had a lot of Superior Cavalry - and a lot of Superior Light Horse, and quickly redeployed to my left, I counter-moved to create a defensive arc on my left, and tried to move my Light Horse over to counter, but they were allocated a low PIP and a series of ones meant I was very slow to respond.

Richard managed to knock over a few of my ordinary cavalry but I was also causing losses to his light horse and disheartened (in DBMM - a quarter of a command's fighting strength) one of his smaller commands.  Killing the light horse in front of him, and losing his cavalry flankers to a 5-1 death and a 4-2 recoil then left my CinC exposed and Richard hit him with his general, at a major disadvantage (to me) as I was then double overlapped..  a dice split of 4-1 in Richards favour, my Commander in Chief was gone and his command disheartened.

A furious cavalry and light horse melee continued but my ordinary cavalry were now fighting at a disadvantage (in DBMM, lesser troops in a disheartened command get a -1 to their scores).

All not lost however, as Richard followed up he broke this command (its next PIP or Command dice roll was a '1', and with the general gone I couldn't move anything!). The broken command transmits a morale effect to nearby friendly troops, and this meant my second cavalry command was disheartened..  all along the line, except for the Turcomans, all my lesser troops were now fighting at a disadvantage..oh dear!

And now the dice showed how fickle they were, Richard attacked my two broken superior cavalry with his own superior cavalry..  a 6-1 cost him the first one, and a 5-1 cost him the now overlapped second..   all of a sudden his command was looking shaky with this added to the losses of light horse he had already suffered. In my return move, I rolled high for PIPS (allowing me to manoeuvre) and picked on his small light horse command, two combats at 3-1 in my favour where he could not recoil (so destroyed if beaten), and that command broke.

Richard then shook my hand.. the additional morale effect of the command breaking had taken two more commands over their break point.. game over. Huge losses to me, so a 16-9 in my favour.

Without the broken superior cavalry killing his, it would have been an extended game and the result uncertain (me with one broken, one disheartened and one intact to his two broken, one disheartened and one intact. So you could say the dice were in my favour, but then again, it took a 5-1 to strip my general of his flank protection, and the 4-1 to kill him, so I guess it worked both ways.

Game 4 - Dugald Duncan - Mu-Jung Hsien Pi...

More Kn(F) - plus a Chinese Ally, with a load of LH(F) supports, I was defender and terrain was minimal, a waterway, road and two marshes with a built up area (BUA) on my right.

I deployed the Turcomans in a single element wide screen in the centre, two Arab light horse on the road to inhibit him just marching up there, and the cavalry behind the Turcomen so they could pass through as required.

Dugald placed his chinese ally on my right (lots of Auxilia, skirmishers and some light horse) placed to charge up the road and sweep round behind me.. then two large commands of mixed Knight (Fast) and Light Horse (Fast)

A quick game is a good game so I advanced my light horse to charge reach of his Knights, and extended my cavalry lines to match his extension. In Dugald's turn the Chinese were unreliable so he advanced and tried to extend his lines with his other Light Horse.

One in..  all in..   I threw the light horse into his knights...  a massacre ensued. Dugald stubbornly rolled low, and the superior factors kicked in..  end result, 13 combats and 6 dead knights. No losses to my light horse.  Dugald then rolled low for command pips and wasn't able to repair the damage - he did kill 3 light horse, but in my next bound my cavalry moved up and the holes, overlaps and combats just got worse for him.   Another bound of low PIPS for Dugald, I lost another Turcoman, and then in my bound finished it off. One command broke, which caused the morale on another to break, and his unreliable Chinese changes sides. 25-0 to the Ayyubids.

End of Day 2..  70 points and I am the meat in a Russell sandwich. Greg on 86 points, Aaron on 81, me on 70 and Zac on 66.

DBMM at Cancon 2012 - Day 1

Arrived for Day 1 of DBMM2 at Cancon. As usual, the place is packed. The biggest gathering of wargamers, freaks, geeks and who knows what. This year there seemed to be more women playing, which is a positive sign (especially if we want to rejuvenate the hobby with young boys...).

Anyway, game 1 was versus Michael Stone, running Normans. My Ayyubids are essentially one command of very good Light Horse (LH(S) - Light Horse Superior in DBMM parlance), supported by two commands of 'Askaris' and junior 'Ghulams' (Cv(O) - Cavalry Ordinary) with a smattering of senior Ghulams (Cv(S) - Cavalry Superior). Normans are essentially lots of relatively lightly armoured charging mounted (Kn(F) - Knight Fast) supported by Breton Cavalry. Terrain, (I was attacker) was essentially a large open space between a set of enclosed fields in which Michael put his bowmen and the bad going on the other wing. I didn't waste time, deciding a Light Horse charge followed up by Cavalry was the best option.. Letting Michale hit me with that weight of a punch would be a bad idea...   the pictures tell the tale.

The Ayyubids line up for the charge

Some very poor dice rolling by Michael and 5 Knight down in the first combats

It only got worse from there.
I was lucky enough to be the beneficiary of Michael's bad dice..  once the first line crumbled I was able to exploit and he never recovered - Game 1 - 25-0

Game 2 was against Aaron Russell with Khitan Liao, he, his brother Zac, and their father Greg, have been coming to Canberra and plundering trophies for the last few years, and they play a very hard and skilful game.

No photographs I am afraid...  brief summary?

I made a deployment mistake, and Aaron is to good a player to do that against. His Light Horse poured through the gap. (My miscomprehension of the marching rules really) - very frustrating game. My dancing Ayyubids suffered from a shortage of PIPS, and then he turned on some amazing dice rolling. In two rounds of combats we had 20 combats, in which he rolled 14 x 6, 2 x 1, 1 x 3, a 4 and 2 x 5.  Needless to say when his Kn(F) were attacking my cavalry, just about every 6 was a death for my troops and I went down in a heap. I did manage to cause some casualties, but a very frustrating game. I was grumpy and really furious with myself. Only bright spot was my baggage fighting off about 7 separate attacks by Light Horse.. (go baggage!) 21-4 to Zac, and I felt he deserved the win, (but not by that much).

My mood was NOT helped by the fact every time I tried to go get food at lunchtime, the queue was round the block, (Note to CGS, two food outlets working very slowly for a couple of thousand people with a fixed lunchtime just doesn't cut it. I am now taking food to Cancon, and I will not queue for overpriced coffee, and overpriced slow 'Fast Food' again - I think you just gave a lease of life to my Thermos flask.) I have learned that a Sugar Low in the middle of the afternoon makes me a grumpy boy...

So - End of Day 1 - I expected my Light Horse to beat the Normans with reasonable dice luck, (and so it was). Game 2. My fault, but salt was rubbed into the wounds by Aaron's extraordinary dice.

DBMM at Cancon 2012 - the preparation

So I have been playing DBMM at Cancon 2012. That's the largest wargames championship in Australia. It is held at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) every year, on the long weekend of Australia Day (26 January).

The Cancon pavilions are among the biggest indoor spaces in Australia, and most resemble air-conditioned aircraft hangars. (Yes, the a/c is an absolute necessity in January in Canberra, temperatures are not infrequently 40 degrees Celcius outside.)

I brought along my Ayyubid Egyptians, best known as the army of Salah al Din, (Saladin). I originally bought the Mirliton Miniatures DBA Army pack when they were having a sale (I also got their Pre Mongol Russians, but they are still hiding from the paint brush behind the cardboard wall of their box).

Having painted a DBA sized army, and been really pleased with the results, I tried borrowing the figures for an Ayyubid army for 'Wintercon 2011' and while they weren't that successful, I suspect that was the general's fault.

As usual then, I left everything to the last minute, and was still painting furiously at 2.15am on the Friday that was the first day. I gave up, and showed up - luckily - having put sand on the bases and added a load of banners, no-one really noticed that saddle-cloths and reins weren't finished.  So here goes.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Houstons Ships Part 4

Made some more progress on these. Last things are the inkwash for the hulls (which are a slightly lightened Paynes Gray.), and some rigging, especially the Alexandra.






Monday 16 January 2012

Houstons Ships Part 3

Some progress...

Houstons Ships Part 2

So I assembled these while watching Jaws...   very maritime, stuck them to tongue depressors and undercoated black. Woke up this morning feeling terrible with a head-cold, so I decided to stay home and warm, and in the meantime, add the deck colour.

So the plan is..  White superstructure, undercoat 'antique white' - blackwash, and highlight with 'arctic white'. The decks are a GW colour 'evander darksun' or some such nonsense, and I will brown ink wash these, then highlight with a very pale cream colour to bring up the decking. The black hulls will get a wet-brush with paynes grey, then a blackwash and finally neutral grey/paynes grey mix 'highlights'.

After that - some rigging. Looking at the diagrams and photographs, these ships still carried a lot of rope! Plus that then gives me somewhere to hang signal flags.

Having started the paint job, the scale differences are becoming quite noticeable. So in order of size in feet.. (from Conways again) - Orion: 245, Thunderer: 285, Dreadnought: 320, Alexandra: 325, Collingwood: 325.

The models however are this size (mm) Orion: 80, Thunderer: 103, Dreadnought: 102, Alexandra: 108, Collingwood: 96.

Using a very rough 300mm per foot, that gives a scale of:
Orion 80:245 -  1/919
Thunderer 103:285  - 1/830
Dreadnought 102:320 - 1/941
Alexandra 108:325 - 1/902
Collingwood 96:325 - 1/1015

I am just going to ignore it..   close enough for Government work...

Sunday 15 January 2012

Houstons Ships Part 1

So - in between moving stuff, I decided to have a bit of fun. I had a bag of Houstons ships - roughly 1/1000 pre-dreadnoughts, available from 'Great Endeavours' and I put these together.

Now people say that the moulds are old, and yes, there was a bit of scraping, filing and filling to do, but these ships have serious character. So here's my Brits - assembled and waiting for undercoat..   HMS Dreadnought, Collingwood, Orion, Thunderer, and Alexandra.

And of course they are sitting on top of my Conway's "All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905". I got mine for about Aussie $45.. but I have seen them sell for as much as $120. If you see one at a price you can afford, and you have any interest in pre-dreadnoughts, buy it! You wont regret it. Line drawings and photographs plus essential statistics and summary for every warship in this period.

The Great Move!

Well, the Civil Power has decided that she needs a study. So that means a massive move of all my wargames stuff from our middle room. (We have a spare room for visitors, plus a middle room that up till now has been full of books and lead.)

Luckily we also have what is laughingly called the 'Gimp' room..  (Pulp Fiction reference of course), which is a decent sized room that was created by cutting about 2 metres out of the back of our double carport, and lining, carpetting and putting in windows, blinds, etc.

It has got a bit damp, but we have had the wettest summer in memory, so it would be unsurprising if it wasn't.

Anyway, so today was the big move of lead and a large oak desk from inside, to the Gimp room...  oh dear, it just drummed in how much unpainted lead I have - thirty trips later. But if I have a dedicated place to paint, I will try and make a couple of hours a night. Maybe it will accelerate progress..  and with the lead pledge, maybe I will have a productive year.

(Photographs to follow..)

Saturday 14 January 2012


So in between applying Ink washes to 90+ horses, 6 camels etc..  (those never ending Ayyubids..), I read a nice post over on the Too Much Lead (a sentiment I can never agree with..).

So in keeping with the meme, here's my list:

Favourite Wargames period:
Ancients? But principally because there are a couple of sets of rules that I really enjoy playing. And as you can see from my listings.. there is a bit of everything there. Once the Ayyubids are done, I will want to finish up my moderns, and maybe even some 15mm Sci-Fi for FWC or Tomorrow's War.

Favourite Scale:
It's a toss-up between 6mm and 15mm. I think it is about the scale of the game. 15mm for Ancients battles works because ranges on a 6 x 4 table (1800mm x 1200mm for the Imperially challenged) look believable. By the time you get to 1900, weapons ranges mean a scale 15mm tank could fire 8 tables wide. I still use 15mm for small scale games like FoF or AK47, but the bulk of my post 1900 figures are 6mm - and almost all Baccus for foot and GHQ for vehicles.

Favourite Rules:
Love the DBx series. They let me play large scale games without a thousand modifiers and tables. I think people tend to forget the impact on the hobby when DBA was released. I am also a big fan of the BKCII/CWC/FWC series. As you can tell, I am not a rivet counter, quite happy with a good game that doesn't to get into (for me) unnecessary detail.

Favourite Boardgame:
Diplomacy - endless hours of devious backstabbing fun. I also play 'Go'. but not seriously anymore.

Favourite Figure Manufacturer:
15mm - Loving the Mirliton figures, although sometimes it can be challenging when they come in 4 or 5 parts for a cavalryman. Essex - for the completeness of their range, (and some of their later releases are little beauties with much more animation). In 6mm, vehicles is hard to go beyond GHQ, and for pre-WWII - then Baccus is outstanding. 

Favourite Club: 
Don't have one at the moment. If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said 'Canberra Games Society' - but in the last little while, it has become very crowded and very noisy. Nowadays I prefer a quiet game at home, as I have plenty of room.

Favourite Opponent:
Hard one. There are a lot of really genuinely nice guys at our club. When I first arrived in Canberra, I was a very hard-nosed and competitive player. I am hoping I have chilled out a bit under the influence of the locals. Two people I always enjoy playing, win lose or unfinished, are Dave T. (Chook), and a John G.

Favourite Inspiration:
Film -
Waterloo, El Cid, Zulu, Blackhawk Down, The Longest Day, Battle of Britain too many to name really, and they are all there in my DVD Collection. Absolute favourite? - 'Aliens'.

Book -
Too many to name..   everything from SCW 'Days of Hope' to Lord of the Rings.

Art - 
That's easy -  the late Angus McBride, everything from his illustrations for Middle Earth Role Playing to the Osprey Books. A unique talent.

And that's about it for me..  happy gaming

Friday 13 January 2012

Cancon 2012

So Cancon (the biggest Australian wargames convention) is on again in two weeks time. And I foolishly registered and sent off my army list for an army currently about 57 elements short of being painted...   I always do it.  mainly because I procrastinate so much about my painting, that registering to play with an unpainted army is the best way to force myself to deal with the unpainted lead mountain.

Ayyubid Egyptian - for those who wanted to know. I would post a picture but an image of 57 elements of figures glued to DBMM bases and spray painted black wouldn't be very entertaining.  (Thats about 120 15mm figures ... ooh errrr....)

I also tried something different this time. The Mirliton figures have separate shields so I have tacked these to a separate piece of cardboard and I am going to try painitng these before glueing them on.

My list has been approved so I am going to be a busy boy for the next fortnight.... 

And I still haven't decided a) whether to play DBA on the third day and defend my National Championship and ACT/NSW Magister MIlitum shield..   and b) if I do, what army to take!

Sunday 8 January 2012

Mr Postman

Well, despite some little dramas with Mr Postman (let's just say they forgot the very important 'delivery' part of being a postal service), yours truly spoilt himself this month. Packages kept trickling in. They will be the last for some time - despite Thomo trying to tempt me with Polemos SPQR from Wargames Vault at $11.10 for the download. I may have to crack and get Tomorrow's War Ok, I did..  - but no more figures for 6 months. I mean it! Stop laughing.

My priority now is to reorganise the 'gimp' room at the back of the garage into a functioning wargames workshop. This means getting rid of most of the cr*p in there currently, and transferring pretty much all the contents of the study into there. It's a huge job. I have been so busy this weekend, I didn't get it together to borrow/hire a trailer, so that's next Saturday blown..
The Collector Edition Board Game, I am hoping this will be one that gets played a lot.

AK47 Redux - Just too much fun not to have. And I have been steadily collecting bits and pieces to use.
A Warrior, BMP1, T55, T72, BRDM A/C all from Skytrex. Very nice models and suitable for AK47 or FoF.

Italeri Diecast Tornado, Skyhawk and Johnny Lightning M1A1 (no 5).
Rebel Minis - very nice figures though some have large chunks of flash. African Militia, African Military, and possibily the start of a Tomorrow's War force, Earth Force and Sahadeen.

Finally, a Bristol F2B - to add to my HitT Mesopotamian Forces.
That's all for a while!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

DBA3 Test Games No 3

Actually it is about test game no 40.. but it is No 3 versus another player with this draft of DBA3 (19 December).

As far as I can tell, the only substantive change other than clarifications is that Ax, Ps, El and Kn now move 3 Base Widths (BW) instead of 2.5.  I think this is a good change, restoring the differential between Lights and Heavies.

The Game itself was one-sided and rather too quick. I grabbed random armies, Italian Communal and New Kingdom Egyptian, but the Communal Italians had 2 bases of Pavisiers (based as double-based bow). Under the DBA3 rules, each base lost counts as two losses to the total of 4.

Early shooting (and poor dice rolling it must be said..)  cost Thomo the game technically when my singe based bow without the protection of big shields outshot and destroyed his two pavisiers, therefore reaching the 4 elements/bases lost, but we agreed to count the 8Bw as one loss, and continued the game. I lost a Psiloi (light infantry) to his, and then an element of Blade (Egyptian sickle swordsmen) hit front by his Blade and flank by the victorious Psiloi - But the rest of the table looked bad for my opponent.

Threatened to flank by my chariots, the Italian tried that last desparate charge into Bow and Blade with his Knights, and rolled low across the board to lose his Knight General plus another Knight. All over, and Thomo very unlucky, his artillery did no damage even at 4-2 vs my Bow, and the last charge could have gone either way.

I don't like the 2 losses effect for the 8Bw (double-based bow) - it makes them a target of choice for opponents, and they get no advantage shooting. Due to my Blades they couldn't go into close combat where they would have had a plus vs other foot, and just had to stand a shooting exchange that would cost him the game. This doesn't seem right.