My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Updated Aztec Battleboard for Saga

Aztec Battleboard
 I have updated the battleboard for the Aztec faction, including a separate rules page, so you can print it double-sided. I decided to remove the Tomahawk Studios background, as someone suggested that people might find it confusing when this is an unofficial, fan-made variant, but also because this is less ink intensive for printing out. I may come up with a true ink-saving version once everything has been shaken out.

There are no changes to the Saga abilities; I think they worked out well in my test games, although they can always use more testing. The real addition to this version are the Cuachiqueh rules. These are a new unit type, basically an upgraded version of the Hearthguard. like the Irish Curaidh. The difference is that I made the Cuachiqueh two figures for 1 point, rather than buying 4 Hearthguard, designating two as this special unit type, then trying to balance advantages and disadvantages to justify the point cost. Personally, I think they did it wrong for the Irish, and if I were playing them, I would definitely buy the Curaidh as I believe they are under-costed.

After long discussions on the Mesoamerican Saga forum, I decided to keep the atlatl weapon as a "super javelin" rather than try to model it as a pilum (a pre-melee weapon), or as both. I have been reading more about the period, including Hassig's Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control and Castillo's The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Vol 1 (of 2) Written by Himself Containing a True and Full Account of the Discovery and Conquest of Mexico and New Spain. (The latter book is free on Kindle. There are free Kindle readers for the Mac, PC, iOS, and Android.) So far neither has given a really good impression about how the weapon was used, just that it had good penetrative powers. So "super javelin" it is, despite this You Tube video on atlatl versus steel armor.

My biggest problem, at the moment, is coming up with a new Saga ability for the Tlaxcaltec faction. I took out the Shielded Volley ability, which emulated the way Tomahawk Studios modeled shielded archer units for the Byzantines. Personally, I don't think that the model works, at least not for the combination of abilities I gave the Tlaxcaltec. So I scrapped that ability and am in search for a new replacement. Unfortunately, I have not really hit upon anything in Hassig's book about them, so it looks like it will just be something from the pool of abilities already out there that "fits". If you have any ideas, let me know.

Aztec Faction Rules
So that battleboard is already changed to the new style, including a rules page, but I am not going to publish it until I figure out what the new ability will be.

Ralph sent me some clarifications on his Bolas ability for the Inca faction, so I will update that and may re-publish soon, assuming all of the kinks are ironed out. I think there are more.

It turns out that there are some players in Mexico that are trying out these battleboards, or some variation of them. The more feedback, the better. Unfortunately no pictures or battle report, but it sounded like it was a game between the Aztecs and the Anglo-Saxons. (Who knew?) The good thing it that it did not seem that the Aztecs were over-powered compared to the Old World factions. Although I never expect these factions will be allowed in a tournament – they are starting to ban the use of banners, and those are official rules from an expansion – it is still good to hear that they play well with others.

Historical Gaming Night

The local gaming club wants to get something going for historical gaming – the idea is for one person to host a game, providing (or arranging for) the figures, terrain, etc. and doing the setup so that the other players can just roll in and start rolling dice – so we are going to give Saga a whirl as the first hosted game. I just bought a painted collection of "Vikings" (120 foot and 10 mounted) and started re-basing them on Saturday. I intend to take before and after pictures as I touch up the figures. (They are what you would call "wargaming standard" paint jobs for most of the figures, although some are pretty nice, especially the mounted.) Don has been collecting Normans, so the game will probably be those against a band of Vikings. As this is the first game for another local player (I will be refereeing, looking up rules, and generally keeping things moving) we will be keeping the forces to four points and I figured the Vikings are pretty straight forward to play.

As Don has never played the Normans, I think it will be an interesting challenge for him, despite the fact that he has more Saga games under his belt than his opponent. Normans have the inherent conflict of being half shooting army, half mounted melee. The goal will be to commit the mounted troops early enough to make an impact, but not so early that the missile troops have not softened up the enemy sufficiently. I cannot think of any worse result than throwing in the Knights and getting beaten up so badly that you feel compelled to retreat the unit for fear of losing a Saga die. Although the Knights may utterly crush their opponents, if the result is an exchange of your unit versus his, you have probably gotten the worst of the exchange.

I'll have to read the Norman battleboard, but I think it is as "conflicted" as the army composition is. If I recall correctly, it has both shooting abilities and mounted charging abilities. Personally I prefer abilities that can be applied to as many units as possible. So a board full of abilities that apply only to specific units is, in my mind, hard to play. The Vikings are relatively straight-forward. Their theme is to shed fatigue, so that is useful for most any unit they would have.

New 6mm Science Fiction Miniatures

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to paint the new Abominations from Onslaught Miniatures this weekend, but the preparation for the Saga game (which was originally scheduled for tonight) and Round 1 of the BattleLore tournament Finals took up all my time. I did get one figure completely painted (waiting for basing), and one of each of the others started. (I usually paint one figure completely in order to get an idea of what something will look like, and to help me decide what order to lay the colors down onto a figure.) The figures are very easy to paint, as the details are sufficiently raised or etched, and clearly visible once primed. Running a brush along a detail is usually sufficient to pick it out neatly.

Basically the Abominations are similar to the old Genestealer Cult Hybrids. Some figures have two arms, some three, and some four. Some of the arms have fingers on the hands while others have claws similar to their Prowler figures. I hope to get pictures up later this week, along with size comparisons.

In the meantime I "discovered" another line of 6mm science fiction figures: PFC/CinC. Their Solar Empire Marines line looks pretty good. In the past I have found CinC miniatures to be softer metal, and less well defined than GHQ. This line looks about the same, in that the figure looks more rounded or "softer" than Onslaught Miniatures or Microworld. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing, just different. Despite the name, it is not just Space Marines, however. They have a Felid race, intelligent, weapon-using Raptors, and another humanoid race. CinC also has a second line of 6mm science fiction vehicles. Most are of the GEV design, but the tracked tank hunter is a particularly interesting design, sort of like a shorter Merkava.

BattleLore Tournament

Round 1 (or two) of the Finals in the BattleLore tournament has been completed, and I won 8-2. Chris wanted to play the side with the Goblins first – as he sees it as the weaker side he wanted to get them out of the way – but our random draw of forces made for a pretty even affair with mostly human forces on both sides.

Chris came out of the gate swinging and drew first blood, taking out a critical unit of mine (the Dwarf Heavy Swords), on the flank I had planned to win on. We exchanged losses and were at 2-2 when "The Event" occurred: Chris drew, as a replacement to the card hand we both shared, the BattleLore card. Now the ironic part of all this is that Chris dreaded the event, figuring I would hose him with the card. I, on the other hand, did not want to play it, as you can only move three units on average (albeit, with large combat bonuses) and I had cards that would allow me to move more units. But by the time The Event occurred, Chris was pressing very hard on the flank I was trying to withdraw, so I played the card not because it was a good play for me, but because I could not risk him rolling a lot of Blue banners or Lore and completely crushing that flank. So I played it in order to deny him the card.

Well, that play was The Event because I used two units to attack and was lucky enough to break his attacking formation. I ended up reversing the situation on that flank, using my cavalry to chase down his fleeing troops who were desperately trying to reform. I intentionally pushed my one heavy cavalry unit in order to chase down a unit, knowing that it would be vulnerable to a counterattack. When the counterattack came, I had a First Strike card that allowed me to ambush the attacking unit and I rolled so well I destroyed the unit outright. (That was "The Second Event".) That put me at 5-2 and had resulted in the last formed resistance on that flank broken. With three units scattered on the flank and only three victory banners to go, I had my plan. Further, the cards had been cooperating and giving me access to card after card on that flank. Chris was well and thoroughly demoralized.

It took quite some time for me to whittle down the enemy units to a point that the time was ripe for "The Final Event". It came in the form of a Mounted Charge card, allowing me to pick off two strength 1 Goblin units hiding in the rear, and a strength 3 Sword unit. Chris had been prepared for this, and attempted to stave off the killing blow by holding onto an Evade card (allowing a unit to escape from combat), but I attacked all of the units in such a way that there was no retreat.

It was an exciting game (for me) and Chris is swearing vengeance, but honestly I think the forces were more evenly balanced than the games he and I both played in the Semi-Finals, which were heavily stilted against the Goblins. I have prepared the game and tonight Chris and I will do our deployment (and maybe a few turns), probably finishing the game either over the course of several week nights or next weekend.

Although I have had great fun in this tournament, and proud to have made it to the Finals, I am getting weary of the "pressure" of scheduling games and trying to notify people so they can watch (and then seeing almost no one show up). Now I have a few more email addresses, and a sense of how fun some of the guys might be to play, so I can probably get a few more games in the future. Not that playing Chris is a problem! He has obviously gotten better, and like me, likes to analyze the games afterwards; what worked and what did not.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").