Monday, 29 February 2016

Campaigns for large skirmishes

My gaming at the moment is mostly large skirmish - SAGA principally, Dragon Rampant perhaps, and hopefully some Oldhammer next month. After our first game of Dragon Rampant our thoughts immediately turned to putting a campaign together, hampered by DR not including any campaign rules. My co-conspirator unearthed this thread on The Miniatures Page, which suggests a variation of the Warhammer Ancient Battles system but, although a nice straight-forward, low-paperwork system, for me that doesn't have the right ingredients. So I put some thought into what I think are the right ingredients -


Apart from the low figure count from a painting point of view, the thing I like about large skirmishes is the idea that each figure is an individual. So if your warband / army is somewhat more than 40 strong, but less than a couple of hundred, there's a limit to the scale of the campaign†. You're not going to be conquering swathes of territory, your objectives will be somewhat smaller (although not less interesting).

Related to that is that the personalities should be the same from battle to battle (survival permitting). And here too, if it's a large territory that's being battled over then the chances of Mandraks the Murderer running into Corma Lightmantle again at the next battle are slim.

The bad guys

I don't like the conquer-territory-and-get-related-troops (you now have a chapel, you can recruit a priest) setup as it doesn't work for the bad guys. You have fantasy armies that might settle territory, then you have those that raze it to the ground. Orcs (or Vikings for that matter) are raiding for loot, prestige or just because they enjoy it. Successful raids get them status which get them further recruits looking to get in on the action, and you need a mechanism to reflect that rather than the settler approach.


One of the great things about Dragon Rampant and SAGA is their scenario-driven gameplay. To me a campaign system needs to encompass this too, not just be a way of linking a number of line-them-up-and-knock-them-down sorts of game.

In summary

I'm almost sure what I'm looking for isn't out there - it'd be a miracle if it was, as I'm such a picky so-and-so. But I'm hoping there are elements of it in the campaign system for 2nd edition, and probably Dux Britanniarum. So I have an excuse to by the latter in the name of research! Over the next several months I'm planning to get some more concrete thoughts down on how such a system might work, but I'm rather hoping that after more research I find an existing system that roughly meets my criteria.

†One of my pet peeves (or my view of the "George, where did it all go wrong" moment for Warhammer) is the switch from WFB scenarios with forces in the 800 - 1600 points range to the 3000 point standard. From there it was only a small step to the emperor riding a griffon...

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Belated goals post

I intended to write this in January - not a good omen...


My main motivation for this post is to keep me focussed. Having fallen very short of my target last year I'm hoping that a regular diet of gaming this year will keep me painting, so on pure numbers I should do OK. However I have a tendancy to be distracted by fascinating new projects and so waste time planning rather than executing and also not getting far down any one road (as my "goals" posts for the last few years will attest). There's loads of things I'd love to spend some time on but they'll have to wait for another year...

  • Complete my SAGA Viking warband (25 further figures)
  • An apprentice to go with my chaos sorcerer to enable me to field a starter "evil" Frostgrave warband
  • My Oldhammer forum avatar (still!)
  • An orc warlord, 7 orcs with crossbows, an archer, a warrior and 3 wolves to field up to 36 Dragon Rampant points (or a bit of variety in my 24 point warbands)
  • A wizard and apprentice, 3 dwarves and a Norse "thug" to allow me to field a dwarf / Norse Frostgrave warband

And depressingly, that's all I'll likely get finished this year - and that's assuming I paint twice as much as last year!

Rab's rather impressive Geekstarter tracking also inspired me to add a couple of stretch goals -

  1. A spare Viking warlord - even now he's painted my existing one is bound to get killed eventually, so for narrative purposes it'd be good to have some options. And as SAGA likes the warlord based differently I can't really substitute one of my other troops
  2. An orc apprentice and some lesser armoured orcs for a third Frostgrave warband. My challenge here is that Frostgrave is geared towards a number of lightly armed and armoured soldiers bulking out the warband, and pretty much all my orcs would be at the more expensive end of the scale. I could always do "counts as" but I don't really like doing that at the warband scale, which means seeking out appropriate figures or doing conversions, both of which are time consuming


I'm going to try again at my "more than weekly" target. My other main goal is to have at least ⅓ of my posts not be either "here's something I painted" or battle reports. Not only are there other things I want to write about, but also posts in the former category tend to get delayed while the painting is finished, so scuppering my goals.

Speaking of which, the reason this post is finally seeing the light of day is that I've painted the orc champion given to me by Erny over two years ago

And with some of his minions -

And that's about it for goals. My gaming is ticking along nicely at the moment, with plenty of dark ages and fantasy stuff going on at my club, and hopefully some Oldhammering lined up for March. And I daren't collect much at the moment, given how slow my painting is going...

Monday, 1 February 2016

Dragon Rampant - first impressions

Dragon Rampant seems to be a reaction to a certain overly rigid, win-the-game-in-the-army-selection style of wargaming, and from the first page comes across as a breath of fresh air. Throughout it emphasises keeping things simple, and using your imagination to field whatever models you have in your collection.

That simplicity can be strangly intimidating at first - "what if I want to give these guys two-handed weapons?" - until you start to get it. And then the freedom becomes a whole different sort of intimidating.

To illustrate the point, there are a grand total of 13 different types of troops, of which there are 5 non-missile infantry types (Elite Foot, Heavy Foot, Light Foot, Bellicose Foot, Ravenous Horde (e.g. peasants, zombies, etc.)). Each have a few specific options available, for example Heavy and Light Foot can have the Offensive option, which makes them better at attacking but means they can no longer form a shield wall. And then there's 12 "Fantastical" options (some of which aren't available to some troop types) and the concept of Single or Reduced Model Units - for example you might want to represent a unit of ogres as 4 Bellicose Foot - they hit just as hard and can take just as much damage as the standard unit of 12 orcs or humans, they're just represented differently on the table.

But how then do you represent say goblins (assuming you're going for the archetype that they're cowardly, not much good in a fight but not to the point you can turn your back on them)? As I see it, there are at least 3 ways -
  1. Light Foot with the Fearful option
  2. Ravenous Horde
  3. Light Foot, but with 24 models rather than 12
Not exactly the worst dilemma to have, but the freedom with which you can draw up your warband is a bit of an adjustment for me, where I usually have to just field everything that I have painted!

I eventually settled on a warband as seen in my second impressions, needing only to paint up these two (who were selected for their ease of painting) to fill out my heavy foot -

The other challenge presented by this openness is to (ideally) agree on what sort of theme you're going for with your fellow gamers. Personally my preference is to emphasise the grunts, with the odd fantastic element thrown in. But conversely I was shown the campaign list of a friend of a friend which initially seemed a bit cheesy to me (everything was in some way "special") until I realised that it could just be that their reference point is much higher fantasy than mine. Of course you can just pitch your low fantasy grunts against their high fantasy whatevers, but it might be a bit hard sustaining the narrative.

I've now got all sorts of ideas I want to experiment with one day - I'm trying my hardest to push them to the back of the queue rather than gather up even more unpainted stuff...