Toy Soldiers and Dining Room Battles

Toy Soldiers and Dining Room Battles

Monday, June 17, 2019

Dux Bellorum Battle Report: Part 1

The battle fought is a fictional encounter between a Late Roman Army catching up with Saxon raiders ravaging the province of Britannia.The scenario is the Annals Battle with each side having 32 points and a simple goal: Rout the enemy.

The beauty of Dux Bellorum is the use of Leadership Points (LP's) to allocate each turn.  This allows you the general to be actively involved in the battle - hey, you are a warlord and your men expect you to lead! Each leader can have between 6 to 10 LP’s depending on how many points you spend on them when constructing your army. For this fight, each leader has 6 LP's to spend each turn. LP’s can be used to help units fight and move, but are a precious resource that can dry once losses occur; if you lose a unit you lose an LP. The use of LP's keeps players thinking – always facing the critical decision about where to spend them.  Do I help this unit move? Do I interrupt the enemy's move and charge? Do I declare that the LP's I added to the battle add extra attacks or do I declare that I will use to negate the hits I just took?

The two armies looking from behind the Roman lines.  The Roman infantry (shieldwalls) are on the hill and the cavalry.  The Roman skirmishers are moving to the woods to the right.  The Saxons are in 2 groups with the Noble Warriors intermixed with the Ordinary Warriors.

 The Warriors were tougher than I initially thought - yikes!

 Allocating the LP's.  I just could not get those archers to move!


Quick narrative: I tried to smash the Saxon line right from the beginning with a strong cavalry charge with my "Imposing Horsemen."  As a retired Infantry officer I am ashamed to admit that I tried charging cavalry in a frontal attack against unbroken infantry.  

 The situation when I made the fateful decision to charge and before LP's were allocated.

 They don't look so tough from here.

Come on and show us what ya got!

 The die behind the stands are keeping track of the hits.

Both my Companions and my Noble horse took some serious hits as the Saxon Noble Warriors laughed.  I had to buy some time to recover; fortunately my cavalry successfully disengaged.  

I turns out that the heroes of the game for the Late Romans would be the javelin armed skirmishers and the Poor Bloody Infantry of my shieldwall on the hill.  The javelin armed skirmishes successfully drew off one of the Warrior units into the woods.  The javelins could get up close, shoot and then move successfully keeping out of range. By themselves they wore down and eventually destroyed the Warrior unit reducing the Saxons by 1 LP.

 I added an LP to give the javelins and extra attack and whamo - the Saxons take 2 hits with no saves.  Then the javelins fall back to get out of the vengeful charge range of the Saxons!

I had trouble moving my archers (kept failing their bravery roll). As it turned out that worked to my advantage as the javelins fell back, the Saxons pursuing them got outflanked by the archers and destroyed by both stands or skirmishers.

 Oh . . . there's a battle going on?  We've just been standing here for 3 turns.

Come closer  . . . I'll backup . . . closer . . . closer . . . 


My mounted skirmishers tried to do the same thing on my left flank to slow down the warriors advancing on my infantry on the hill.  Well . . . that did not work out so well and they were made into mincemeat fairly quickly and now I was down an LP.

With the Roman cavalry reeling and weakened, the Saxons launched a massive attack to break the Roman line.  On the left the Warrior unit is about to be peppered by the skirmishers but the Roman line on the hill starts to fall back . . . 

Next: The conclusion.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dux Bellorum: Twilight of Empire

Dux Bellorum is a great, fast past set of rules written by Daniel Mersey and published by Osprey Wargames that allows you to re-fight the Dark Ages in Britain from the Late Roman period up to the year 800 AD.

Armies are element based and can be of any scale; movement and ranged combat is my base width (BW) allowing any figure scale or basing mechanism. In issue 62 of Wargames Soldiers & Strategy I read a Dux Bellorum article by Steve Jones in which his armies are mounted on 120 mm width bases but he uses 4 inches as the BW for convenience.  I decided to follow suit, mounted the armies on their bases and created my own measuring stick with a wooden dowel.

 My measuring stick.  Nothing fancy but it gets the job done.

The battle fought is a fictional encounter between a Late Roman Army catching up with Saxon raiders ravaging the province of Britannia.The scenario would be the Annals Battle with each side having 32 points and a simple goal: Rout the enemy.

The Late Roman Army: I envisioned this force as the cream of the Roman army stationed in Britain with excellent cavalry and solid infantry.

Late Roman Army.  This is the force minus one of the Shieldwalls.

1 Mounted Companions: 5 points.  This is the Roman general and his personal retinue of Huns!
1 Cataphracts: 6 points. Well, I have some painted so why not?  
1 Noble Riders: 5 points.  Veteran and well mounted cavalry.
1 Mounted skirmisher: 2 points.  Armed with javelins, these local auxiliaries have been tracking and keeping an eye on the Saxon dogs.
3 Ordinary Shieldwall: 9 points. Solid Roman Infantry.
2 Foot Skirmishers: 2 points.  One unit armed with javelins and the other with bows.

 Late Roman skirmishers.

Strategy and Tactic: Imposing Horseman: 3 points. Adds +1 die when the cavalry contact (charge) the enemy. Cataphracts and mounted skirmishers do not get the bonus.

 Hoping to ride down the Saxons.

Early Saxon Army:  An elite raiding force trying to make a get away.

My Saxon Army . . . but no skirmishers for you this time!

1 Foot Companions:  5 points. Warriors of course!
3 Noble Warriors: 15 points.  Extra armor, skill with weapons and flags.
3 Ordinary Warriors: 9 points.  We can fight.  Just point us in the right direction.

 The Saxon Warlord and his Companions.

Strategy and Tactic: Loyal: 3 points. One of the Noble units increases its Bravery to 10 for the entire game. 

The Loyal relatives of the Warlord get to carry the big flag.

Next up:  The Battle, why you should not charge solid infantry with your cavalry, skirmishers and much more.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

IHMN: The Rise of the Vigilantes

"Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men? The Shadow knows!"

In 1895, with the government's of the world actively engaged and committed to the open warfare of what history will refer to as the "War of the Witches" many police forces are tied down following leads or conducting special operations. This has lead to criminals and criminal gangs becoming bolder as they take advantage of the innocent population. And as nature abhors a vacuum, there are men and women who emerge and take justice into their own hands. Following the lead of The Shadow who almost decimated Professor Moriarty's gang in North Piddle, England, others, to the dismay of the governments of the world, have also risen to the challenge.

Left to Right: The Lady in Blue AKA Lady Blue, The Wasp, The Shadow, and Lord Top Hat.

 The profile for The Shadow can be found HERE.

The Lady in Blue AKA to the general populace as Lady Blue is an American who is currently operating in the United Kingdom. The papers and others are unsure why an American is in their country decimating bad guys; but, a certain consulting detective has deduced her real identity and her thirst for vengeance.
"Look Watson. It's the woman."

Name: Lady Blue (The Woman)
Pluck: 2+
Leadership: +1
Speed: 1
Fighting Value: +1
Shooting Value: +4
Talents: Fearless, Lightning Draw, Gunslinger, Duelist (Pistol), Master of Disguise, Part of the Crowd, Meticulous Planning, Erudite Wit,
Basic Equipment: Two pistols, stiletto (fighting knife), Binocular Targeting Array
Armor: 9
Cost: 80

 The Wasp.

Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge is an English Egyptologist, Orientalist, and philologist. Though he came from the working class, he became a scholar who worked for the British Museum and published numerous works on the ancient Near East. He made numerous trips to Egypt and the Sudan on behalf of the British Museum to buy antiquities, and helped it build its collection of cuneiform tablets, manuscripts, and papyri. He published many books on Egyptology, helping to bring the findings to larger audiences. 

In 1891, Budge was assigned by the British Museum to investigate why cuneiform tablets from British Museum sites in Iraq, which were to be guarded by local agents of the Museum, were showing up in the collections of London antiquities dealers. The British Museum was purchasing these collections of what were their "own" tablets at inflated London market rates. Edward Bond, the Principal Librarian of the Museum, wanted Budge to find the source of the leaks and to seal it. Budge traveled to Istanbul and at one of the excavation sites, "bonded" with a magic carpet which forever changed his life. An intelligent and amateur inventor, he devised a mechanical device that he attaches to his left wrist and calls the "Wasp's Sting" that fires knockout darts.

Name: The Wasp (Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge)
Pluck: +3
Leadership: 0
Speed: 1
Fighting Value: +2
Shooting Value: +4
Talents: Fearless, Impervious, Intuitive, Lightning Draw, (Wasp's Sting), Duelist (Pistol),
Basic Equipment: One pistols, Turkish fighting knife, A magic carpet he wears as a cape that gives him the power of flight, Wasp's Sting (range of 6") (if target fails its Pluck, the target is permanently knocked down)
Armor: 9
Cost: 64

 Lord Top Hat.

It is obvious to all, from his speech, that Lord Top Hat is a member of the British aristocracy. In fact he was born in Oxfordshire to an extremely wealthy aristocratic family; his father was a British Lord and his mother was from an American family whose substantial wealth derived from finance. An excellent shot who carries a sword cane, he has been especially effective in the British countryside assisting the local constabulary with the outbreak of criminal gangs and other "strange" occurrences.  In January 1895, his father died; this led Lord Top Hat to adopt the belief that members of his family inevitably died young. He turned down a commission in the Fourth Queen's Own Hussars and convinced himself to become a reckless, fearless vigilante. His name is Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill.

 Two ne'er-do-wells are about to have an unpleasant encounter with Lord Top Hat.

Name: Lord Top Hat (Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill)
Pluck: +3
Leadership: +1
Speed: 0
Fighting Value: +2
Shooting Value: +4
Talents: Fanatic, Fearless, Fortitude, Tough, Iron Will, Inspirational, Lightning Draw (Sword), Erudite Wit
Basic Equipment: One pistol, Cane Sword
Armor: 9
Cost: 59

"The weed of crime bears bitter fruit! Crime does not pay... The Shadow knows!"

Sunday, June 9, 2019

IHMN: The Pinkerton Detective Agency

In the 1850s, Allan Pinkerton, Scottish detective and spy, met Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in a local Masonic Hall and formed the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton Agency. By the mid-1850s a few businessmen saw the need for greater control over their employees; their solution was to sponsor a private detective system. In February 1855, Allan Pinkerton, after consulting with six midwestern railroads, created such an agency in Chicago. Needless to say, they were not very popular at the time. In addition, the Pinkerton Detective Agency was hired by many firms and local law enforcement to hunt down criminals and their activities.

In 1871, Congress appropriated $50,000 to the new Department of Justice (DOJ) to form a sub-organization devoted to "the detection and prosecution of those guilty of violating federal law." The amount was insufficient for the new DOJ to fashion an internal investigating unit, so they contracted out the services to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. However, since passage of the Anti-Pinkerton Act in 1893, federal law has stated that an "individual employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar organization, may not be employed by the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia." However, it does not stop private organizations from using their services such as being hired for transporting money and other high-quality merchandise between cities and towns, which makes them vulnerable to outlaws. Pinkerton agents are well paid and well armed.

 "We Never Sleep"

"Beware of the Old Man in a Young Man's profession." 

Special Officer James McParland was an Irish immigrant who joined the Pinkertons when a "fire" destroyed his business. McParland would stop at nothing to take down his client's enemies because he believed his authority came from "Divine Providence." To carry out God's Will meant he was free to break laws and lie until every man he judged evil was hanging on the gallows. He has trained many a Special Officer in his methods of undercover work, detection, and tracking.
Name: Special Officer James McParland
Pluck: +3
Leadership: +1
Speed: 0
Fighting Value: +2
Shooting Value: +4
Talents: Fearless, Lightning Draw, Intuitive, Marksman (Military Rifle), Tough
Basic Equipment: Military rifle, pistol, fighting knife
Armor: The Patented Brigandine Faraday Coat* (Armor is 9 but 11 against Arc Weapons)
Cost: 72

*The Patented Brigandine Faraday Coat cost 9 points and is probably the most distinctive aspect of the Pinkerton Detective Agency

Ben Thompson is a gambler, gunfighter, and sometime lawman who rubbed shoulders with some of the most famous figures of the Old West. He started his criminal career at the age of 17, when he stabbed and killed a fellow gambler whom he had accused of cheating him at cards. Thompson was known for being lightning fast on the draw, and gained a reputation as a gunfighter after killing two men in a shootout on Christmas Eve of 1886. Wanting to escape this reputation, he took a job as a Special Officer with the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

Name: Special Officer Ben Thompson
Pluck: +3
Leadership: +1
Speed: 0
Fighting Value: +1
Shooting Value: +4
Talents: Fearless, Lightning Draw, Gunslinger, Duelist (Pistol), Marksman (Pistol), Tough
Basic Equipment: Two pistol, fighting knife
Armor: The Patented Brigandine Faraday Coat (Armor is 9 but 11 against Arc Weapons)
Cost: 64

Although not as well known as someone like Wild Bill Hickok or Wyatt Earp, Dallas Stoudenmire was a feared lawman in his day, and is known for participating in more gunfights than most of his contemporaries. After being wounded several times while fighting in the Civil War, Stoudenmire moved to the lawless city of El Paso, Texas to serve as sheriff. Only three days into his tenure, he became involved in one of the West’s most legendary battles, what is common known as the “Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight,” in which he shot three men. A few days after the fight, friends of the men Stoudenmire had shot hired the town drunk to assassinate him. But Dallas was able to get the drop on him and supposedly shot the man eight times, killing him. Unfortunately, the drunk got off one shot that lodged in Stoudemire's skull blinding him - but also for some reason unleashing an untapped mechanical genius. Forced to retire as sheriff, he joined the Pinkerton Agency with his new "mechanical eyes."

Name: Special Officer Dallas Stoudenmire
Pluck: +3
Leadership: +0
Speed: 0
Fighting Value: +1
Shooting Value: +4
Talents: Lightning Draw, Marksman (Military Rifle), Tough, Engineer, Impervious (bullet in the skull!)
Basic Equipment: Military rifle, pistol, fighting knife, monocular targeting array
Armor: The Patented Brigandine Faraday Coat (Armor is 9 but 11 against Arc Weapons)
Cost: 70

Special Officer Tom Horn

Name: Pinkerton Detective Agency Special Officer
Pluck: +5
Leadership: +0
Speed: 0
Fighting Value: +2
Shooting Value: +2
Talents: A Special Officer may have up to 3 talents. Available talents are Lightening draw, Marksman, Tough, Intuitive, Duelist, Fearless, Intuitive, Stealthy, Trick Riding (of course you need to be mounted), Cavalryman, Part of the Crowd, Fortitude, Mechanic, Skirmisher and Medic
Basic Equipment: May chose pistol, shotgun, shotgun (short), carbine, military rifle, throwing knife, fighting knife, monocular targeting array and rocket pack.
Armor: The Patented Brigandine Faraday Coat (Armor is 9 but 11 against Arc Weapons)
Cost: ?

Special Officer Charlie Siringo

Special Officer Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan

Left to Right: Special Officers James McParland, Dallas Stoudenmir, and Ben Thompson