Tally Ho!

Monday 29 May 2017

Kings of War - a quick review

Image result for kings of warThis weekend I travelled to my brother's Wargames room for a game of Kings of War - a set of fantasy mass-battle rules from Manic Games. The core rules and army lists are available free to download from their website at http://www.manticgames.com/free-rules.html. They are clearly aimed at those with Games Workshop armies as the troop-types and unit sizes map across very simply.

The Rules

The rules are aimed at being simple and lightweight to enable a quick game and certainly a decent sized game is possible in about 2 hours. The rules have something in common with the original Warhammer (troop factors) and Armati (flanks matter).

Units have a series of factors denoting their attack ability (number to beat on D6), defence (number of beat to kill), number of attacks and morale. Crucially there is no figure removal so a units resilience and attacks are based on its size, with units being; Troops (10 figs), Regiments (20 figs), or Hordes (40 figs). There are also heroes, monsters, and war-machines all based singly.

When testing morale you roll 2D6 and add the number of "hits" previously taken. Exceeding a certain score means wavering or routing. So for example with a small Troop being perhaps 10/15 you can see that with 4 casualties you are very likely to waiver (10+) or route (15+). With a Horde at perhaps 20/25, then 4 casualties gives no risk at all of bad morale. So larger units are more resilient but take up more space and are more costly if elite troops.

The core of the rules though is movement and especially charging. Most units are allowed to wheel then move but must then go straight ahead. More complex manoeuvres can take a whole turn. So the Armati influence comes from the relative immobility of many units other than moving ahead. Charges are always straight ahead and by the shortest route so bad planning can see you charging through rough terrain and being Hindered in the combat. Flank attacks are deadly doing double damage and with hard-hitting units possibly having 25 attacks they are often decisive.

Finally the turn sequence needs some careful thinking - each player moves, shoots, fights, and then rallies in turn. So oddly you will charged and attacked without fighting back. If you are not broken the enemy falls back and you charge them in the next turn. So initiative can be key, as is planning your moves and charges. Fortunately pre-measurement is allowed although in competitive play markers are usually banned and a chess clock used to limit time otherwise players can try to simulate the whole battle!    

Magic and heroic leaders are modelled but don't seem to have a major effect. Magic mostly boosts units combat abilities and does some limited ranged attacks. Heroes are not all conquering and are best used to support key units or boost morale.

The Game

Our game featured Ratkin (Skaven in GW-speak) verses Kin (night-elves) aiming to capture 3 treasure tokens from the centre of the table. The Kin were faster with more firepower but the Ratkins had the larger army. For a fuller description of the battle see http://fishpondswargames.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/first-blood-rats-vs-kin.html

The Ratkin deployed fairly evenly across the table seeking to contest all three counters. The Kin focused on only two, having a smaller force to begin with.

Kin on the Ratkin left - Gargoyles and a Hydra

Kin centre - powerful combat and middle units

Kin opposite the right - a hero and Gargolyes

Ratkin right - assault troops and a flamethrower

Ratkin left - more assault troops and flamethrowers 

Ratkin horde occupies the centre

That must hurt!
The Ratkin pushed forward across the line seizing two of the three objectives very early by making double moves. The third (on the Ratkin's right) was contested by the Kin's hero and a unit of flying gargoyles.   
Ratkin left captures the uncontested objecitve

Ratkin centre

The early advantage did nt last though. The Kin have lots of firepower and some hard hitting units. As they had the imitative for the whole game well-timed charges and shooting are powerful as you can be badly damaged without being able to respond. This fate befell the Ratkin Horde in the centre as they were assaulted by two powerful Kin units.

Ratkins also capture the right-hand objective

The horde under pressure - with 18 hits they can nt stand

Kin blade-dancer elite troops 

Ratkins escape with one obective
Over on the Ratkin's right they held their own but were eventually flanked by troops freed from the  Kin's centre and so succumbed.  On the left they captured a largely uncontested objective.
The Kin hero swoops in

The game ended 2-1 to the Kin in objectives, but the Ratkin's having suffered much heavier damage. In hindsight the Ratkin's were greedy in trying to contest all three objectives but with a larger force its tempting to try this. It was also a compromise list based on the models available - I suspect the way to play the Ratkins is to have more of the cheap but large Horde units, and rather less of the elite units which are not as tough as the Kin. The Kin look good though with a decent number of tough / manoeuvrable units and solid fire power.  

Kin hero on a Griffin

Rakin snipers - team of the day


The Verdict

Angles and moves do need careful planning, as with poor initiative you could be caught out badly by being assaulted without the ability to fight back. This does however mean sacrificial units could be used to good effect to lure enemies into a trap.

The game was certainly quick, bloody, and simple so meeting our needs of a 2-3 hour game we can play on an occasional basis without needing to learn complex rules. With angles and distances so critical for charging I can see competitive play being contentious affairs with lost of laser-based aids being popular. Not an issue for friendly games though.

I am tempted to look into an Arabian army based on my Gripping Beast Arabs but need to find some Djinn to field flying units or perhaps a Troop or two of flying carpets


Saturday 27 May 2017

Punic Wars - Armati Campaign week 2

The campaign map
This week saw the Carthaginian forces on the attack again as Hannibal launched an assault on the Roman province of  Umbria in an attempt to force his way across the Alps and into Italy from his base in Gallia. 

The Romans fielded a large force of Latin Allies including two units of heavy cavalry. Carthage again had a balanced force with a decided superiority in light cavalry and also two units of Hannibal's feared African veterans equipped with looted Roman armour.      
Knowing they faced a deficit in mounted units the Romans massed their cavalry on the left flank and supported them with skirmishers and a single cohort of foot. On the right they positioned the Triarii and a further cohort of Roman foot as flank guards. They hoped for a local superiority on their left as the main attack, while the heavy infantry centre sought to grind-down the Punic foot.
Roman right with flank guards

Roman left - cavalry massed with support
Having more cavalry but less foot Hannibal, opted for a double envelopment with the weaker Punic left having plentiful skirmisher support and one unit of African veterans deployed a one-unit command. On the Punic right was the bulk of the cavalry hoped to outflank the enemy. As a compromise the second unit of veterans joined the main battle-line rather than deploying as a flanking unit. 
Punic left - cavalry and skimishers

Punic centre - strong and weak units interspersed

Punic right - the bulk of the mounted 
On the Carthaginian right Hannibal advanced his Celtic cavalry in the hopes of tying-down the Italian horse, with a light cavalry unit on a wide arc hoping to catch the Italian's flanks and so deny them the all important impetus so they could be destroyed in a single turn. The Latin's held back as they wanted to weaken the Celts with fire and also retain the flank support of their infantry. 
Celtic horse advance 
In the centre the Romans pushed forward hoping to bring the weaker Punic infantry to battle and punch through the centre.
Roman centre advances
On the Punic left they also advanced with their unopposed Calvary and skirmishers. This flank was the weaker of the two for the Romans and so Hannibal  hoped to achieve a victory here if time allowed.
Punic horse with light supports 

Cavalry come to blows
Over on the Punic right the Celtic cavalry clashed with the Romans. Honours should be fairly even as both sides had a spare flanking unit. Not for the first time the Gods favoured Hannibal as his outnumbered Celts held on grimly while their brothers swept away outside unit of Italian horse. On the opposite flank a unit of Gallic infantry deployed wide charged head-long into the Roman flank guards and chewed through them in 2 rounds. 
Flank guards are mauled by Celts - nasty!
As with all battles the centres came to blows about half way through the game with both sides heavy infantry  crunching into each other. The early rounds were fairly even with both sides dishing-out and receiving punishment.
Latin allies face-up against Hannibal's veterans

The main lines clash
The game now entered the decisive phase. On the Punic right the Celtic cavalry were able to rout their opponents and threaten the flanks of the Roman infantry. On the Punic left they destroyed the Triarii after they had been softened up by fire from three skirmisher units and then surrounded. With both flanks in trouble the Romans urgently sought to break the Carthaginian centre, but were unable to cut their way through before they reached the break point of 5 units.
Triarii at bay
So in the end a 5-3 victory for the Carthaginians despite a late Roman rally in the centre. There was some good fortune with both the Celtic cavalry and infantry performing better than expected, but some good use of the light troops as well.

As Umbrian as been secured, Hannibal now has a foothold in northern Italy from which to expand. 

Things look grim for the Roman general 

Hannibal's veterans move to flank the Roman line

Next weeks game with be rather larger and will feature elephants as a bank holiday treat. 

Saturday 20 May 2017

Punic Wars - Armati campign week 1

The first move of the campaign saw the Carthaginians launch an attack into Cisapline-Gaul, beating the Roman's to the punch who had planned to attack from that province themselves.

The battlefield was a flat plain, with some low rises at one end of the  field that had little effect on the conduct of the game.

In Armati terms this was a 130 point battle with both sides having a break-point of 5 key units.

The reinforcements cards left the Roman's with an army consistently primarily of heavy infantry with Triarii and some gladiators in support. The Carthaginians had a more balance force of infantry and cavalry at their disposal.

The initial deployments
Fearing they would be rapidly outflanked the Romans deployed their infantry wide in the centre to broaden their front. One flank as supported by the manoeuvrable Triarii and the other by infantry / the gladiators. The wide deployment was a risk as the Punic forces contained several units of Celts.

The Carthaginian commander deployed the weaker Celts between units of more reliable African troops and balanced his cavalry between the wings, seeking an advantage on one flank.

Roman main line stands ready
The Romans began with a steady advance across the field towards the Carthaginian lines, with flanking units held back. The Punic forces responded by pushing forward with their mounted troops. On their left they tried a wide arcing movement to outflank the Triarii, whilst on the right they stayed close-in hoping to protect the flank of Hannibal's veterans who occupied the end of the line.

Punic and Celtic infantry

As the main lines clashed the Punic cavalry on the right broken the gladiators but became bogged-down in a fight with the flank guards. On the right one unit of Celtic cavalry was mauled by the Triarii but the other was able to outflank the Roman line. They had however been forced to go quite wide and so risked being unable to make it back before the main melee in the centre.

Celtic Horse
 In the centre the Carthaginian infantry proved better than expected with the Celts breaking one of the Roman units deployed in width. About half way through the game the Carthaginians were ahead and looked to have a real chance for a win despite the flank attacks having not yet materialised.

Veteran Triarii
As we entered the end-game the Carthaginians were 3-1 up against the Romans needing only 2 more kills to win. 3-1 became 4-2 in the centre of the battle fields but then they suffered a reverse. On the right the Punic cavalry became Tired and this resulted in them and their accompanying general both perishing to make it 4-4. Loss of initiate at the crucial moment left them vulnerable and the Romans were able to kill an exhausted unit of Celts to claim a 5-4 win.

African veterans

So Roman managed to hold Cisapline-Gaul with a narrow win. Given the army lists Carthage probably should have been able to out manoeuvred the Romans on the flanks and attack them behind, but they deployed their cavalry a little too close to the main lines thereby meaning they were dragged-into fighting the flank guards. 

Sunday 14 May 2017

Punic Wars - an Armatii Wargames Campaign

Our latest campaign is the Punic Wars - below are the full rules so its a long post!


This campaign pits the forces of Carthage against the rising power of Rome for control of the ancient Mediterranean world. The campaign begins with Rome largely hemmed-in and seeking to expand its influence beyond Italy. Roman holds a single territory in Spain as its only overseas outpost. Carthage hold Spain, Africa, and Gaul. Greece is neutral and Dalmatia / Macedon are not used.

The campaign has been written for  the Armati II rules but could be easily adapted to other sets. We have slightly cheated on the historical front by mixing troops from several periods; firstly to suite the figures available and secondly out of a romantic desire to field all the most popular units from the Punic Wars.     


Each turn both sides may launch a single attack from a province they own into a neutral or enemy territory, where battle ensues.


Battles are fought using standard Armatii rules. Terrain can be of three types - Open, Rough, or Hilly. Roll below to determine which and then randomly select a terrain map from those supplied. 



The Core units available are specified in the army lists below. These are slightly expanded versions of the standard lists, with the Break Point adjusted. All armies have two generals.

A unit card is provided for each reinforcement unit, split into packs for each of the provinces of Italy, Gaul, Spain, Africa, and Greece. Each card contains the stats and points cost of the unit concerned. For each province up to 3 separate piles are formed; Foot, Mounted/Lights, and Roman/Carthage (only as appropriate)

Players take turns drawing reinforcement cards, up to a maximum of one card / territory held in that province, swapping between provinces as they see fit. For Italy the Roman's may draw 2 cards / territory held as they begin with fewer territories.

You keep drawing until reach either 75 or 100 points as agreed by the players. If you "bust" then you return the card to the pack and draw another until you hit your reinforcement limit or 1 below it (there being no 1 point units).
Republican Roman          
CR: H: 5L: 3BP: 3Init: 4      
Hastati / Principes7 [2] 2+2Pila/Sword6116624YesFT
Triarii7 [2] 2+2Spear113134YesFT
Velites3 [1] 2+2Javelins1224NoSI
CR: H: 5L: 4BP: 3Init: 5      
Celts5 [1] 3+1Swords27148YesWB
African Veterans8 {1} 1+2Spears116164YesPH
Citizern foot6 [1] 1+1Spears28168YesFT
Punic Horse4 [0] 0+1Various110104YesHC
Numidians2 [0] 0+1Various27148NoLC
Celtic Cavalry4 [0] 0+1Various110104YesHC 
Balearics3 [1] 2+2Slings1224NoSI 
Bonus Units - Roman only (Italy)        
Hastati / Principes7 [2] 2+2Pila/Sword01100YesFT2
Triarii7 [2] 2+2Spear01300YesFT1
Penal Legions5 [1] 1+1Various0600NoFT2
Gladiators5 [1] 2+1Various0800NoLHI3
Velites3 [1] 2+2Javelins0200NoSI1
Bonus Units - Carthage only (Africa)        
African Veterans8 [1] 1+2Spears01600YesFT2
Punic Cavalry4 [0] 0+1Various01000YesHC2
Citizern foot6 [1] 1+1Spears0800YesFT1
Bonus Units - both          
Italian Allies6 [1] 1+1Swords0800YesFT5
Italian Cavalry4 [0] 0+1Various01000YesHC2
Italian Skirmishers2 [1] 1+2Javelins0200NoSI2
Libyan  skirm3 [1] 2+2Javelins0200NoSI3
Numidian cavalry2 [0] 0+1Various0700NoLC1
Numidian Archers2 [1] 1+2Bows0200NoSI1
Elephants4 [3] 1+1Various01000NoEL5
Numidian Slingers3 [1] 2+2Slings0200NoSI1
Spanish Foot6 [1] 1+1Various0800YesFT3
Spanish Skirm3 [1] 2+2Javelins0200NoSI2
Celt-Iberians5 [1] 3+1Swords0600NoWB2
Celts5 [1] 3+1Swords0600NoWB4
Gallic  Cavalry4 [0] 0+1Various01000YesHC2
Balearic Slingers3 [1] 2+2Slings0200NoSI1
Peltasts4 [1] 2+1Various0700NoLI3
Greek mercenaries6 [1] 1+2Spears01000NoPH3


Players may forgo a troop card pick and instead choose a stratagem card, costing 12 points. Stratagems are random as who knows what inspiration you will get from the Gods.
Favourable ground
Remove one piece of rough terrain
Seize the day
One light command may deploy a move forward, after deployment but before the battle begins
Flank attack
A single command starts off table. On a 5,6 it arrives on table lined-up in the enemies deployment zone.
A gully may be placed in the enemies flank zone. It hides a single unit command.
Reorder the lines
Two adjacent commands in contact may have units between them.
Favourable Ground II
Move one piece of terrain in your own half
Military Advisor
You receive an additional general
Swift attack
You are guaranteed the initiative for the first D2 turns
Reorder the lines II
You may reposition a single unit command after the reveal
Happy campers
You receive an on-table camp counting as defences, which must be in your central zone
Favourable Ground III
You may add a single piece of Rough terrain
Favourable Ground IV
You may move a single piece of terrain in the enemy half