Sunday, 25 August 2013

Making forces for Song of Sword and Shield

Making forces for Song of Sword and Shield

Quick and dirty. If your not too fussed (as with our “End Games”) just assemble forces as you see fit without too much bother about points, or do a quick tot up from the list.

Matched points. I prefer to have balances forces pre-planned “off the shelf” that I can field or alter for a specific scenario. I'm a great believer that proper preparation prevents poor play. I started buying these troops as soon as the game was proposed. Plus, if you have a regular force, the fact that it's not tailor-made to the scenario gives you a bit more work to do.

Here are 2 I'm playing with.

The Warband of Odysseus

This is a warband in transition. If anyone was going to adapt, it's him.

Starting with 500 points, I wanted a core of pike supported by javelin troops and a few specialists. So I needed a maximum unit size (1/3) of 6, so needed a total of at least 18 bodies.

I needed Mavericks* to make use of the Achaean National Trait.

To save points (and it feels right) I didn't class Odysseus as a hero.

The 500 point Force

Odysseus (Maverick) Q3 C2 Armour3 Javelin Shield Sword 60 points
Spearmen x4 =120 points
Javelins x4 = 140 points
Runners (mavericks) x2 =108 points
C/o archers (mavericks) x2 =70 points

Total 498 points
Total 13 men. 1/3 rule allows units of 4.

This is a quality force, although lacking in skirmishers it can put out a fair number of javelins and one good archer can outdistance and kill enemy skirmishers. In fact, in one of our trial games two such took down Achilles (see below) with a 6:1 shot**. The spearmen can operate as a lance, protected by the others. Go for 3 activations, then use your Heroic Activation for the javelins.

If I was using a different National Trait I'd probably have a unit of skirmishers or archers in place of the runners and close order archers.

Here is an alternative, works with the rules but I'm hard pressed to see what scenario other than assaulting a bridge you'd use it.

Odysseus 60 points as above
Runners x2 =108 points
Spearmen x6 =180 points
Javelin skirmishers x10 =150 points

Total 498

Total of 19 men, allowing 6 men units. 1 of spear, 2 skirmish of 5 each, one runner to protect each flank.

  I can see the skirmishers being left behind due to proper use of the extras.
If using a different nationality, would probably field 2 spear units with Odysseus in one.

800 Points

As above 498 points

4 (more) Javelin =140 points
10 skirmishing javelin =150 points
Upgrading one figure as second in command 15 points
Total 803 points. You can always juggle the number of skirmishers for a closer fit.

This is the crew I've been thinking of. A good combined arms force of 27, so you could even have one massive javelin force of 8. I can see this as a good shipload, an ideal raiding party.

Achilles, sacker of cities.

One thing we can all agree on is that Achilles was the bronze Age version of a tiger tank. When not broken down or out of fuel, an unstoppable killing machine**. His kingdom was some small dump in the sticks of Thrace, Thracians fought on both sides. His Myrmidons were picked troops, but that's about all we know.

Achilles or Patrocles as leader Q4 C3 Armour4, Hero, Javelin, Shield, Sword, Leader, Terrifying charge 107 points.   Patroclese as second in command 89 points. Patroclese as companion 74 points.

I'm trying several “takes” until I feel I get it right. On my list there's a nod towards these:

Ok, they aren’t the “correct” historical miniature, but with some shield swaps they will fit in!

I'm in a phase of repainting and rebasing, so please excuse the odd less-than-perfect.

This list leans towards the Sea Peoples warband option

Achilles (maverick) =107 points
Myrmidons x8 =328 points
Javelin skirmishers x4 =60 points
Total 495 points


Achilles (maverick) =107 points
Patrocles (maverick) =74 points
Myrmidons x6 =246 points
Javelin skirmishers x5 =75 points

Total 502 points  A total of 12/13 gives a maximum unit size of 4

800 points

To round the force off, giving it some long distance hitting power:

Achilles (maverick) =107 points
Patrocles 2C (maverick) =89 points
Myrmidons x8 =328 points
Javelin skirmishers x7 =105 points
Bow or sling skirmishers 10 =170 points

Total 799 points
Total of 27 allows units of 9

To convert this lot into a Sea Peoples warband, lets invent another leader. The famous Popysus, (or perhaps Blutosus), husband/abductor of the lovely Oliveoilia.

Potysus in Achean service Q4 C3 Armour3, Axe, Shield, leader, Terrifying charge, 93 points

So for 500 points:

Popysus (maverick) =93 points
Companion Runner (maverick) =54
Warriors x7 =287 points
Javelin skirmishers x4 =60 points

Total 497 points

Total 13 = units of 4.

Blutotus in Trojan service Q4 C3 Armour3, Axe, Shield, leader, Terrifying charge, 93 points

500 points:

Blutotus (maverick) =93 points
Warriors x6 =246 points
Bow or Slinger skirmishers x 9 =153 points

Total 492 points

Total 16 = units of 5.

There's an idea for a mini campaign using 29 figures. Change of the leaders weapons or combat skill to even up!

If you get a plastic 1:72 box for about £5 you should get that number of usable figures plus a few casualty markers.

One that comes to mind is during a Roman civil war, 2 units on opposite sides meet on a road-.

*A maverick is a single figure as opposed to a skirmisher or unit. Each is activated on their own dice-rolls. The National Rule I use for Acheans is Heroic Attitude, which gives 3 automatic activation successes to single models (so a maverick or a chariot).

** Full story. Javelin heavy force vs Achilles. Achilles gets initiative, him & Patrocles starts knocking people off their feet. (At long range a missile hit knocks you back rather than wounds). My activation, I try the regroup option to buy time. Next, on comes Achilles out front, kills one of mine. My activation, start with my archers, who were in range of Achilles. One dead hero, game over!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Our first play with Elephants for Song of Spear and Shield

“There is only one thing worse than finding an elephant in you pyjamas –
that's finding half an elephant”

Me mukkah Tony did, of his on volition, purchached a positive pile of proud pachyderms on e-bay. We have settled into series of what we call “End Games”, which is to say tactical problems such as a chess player might enjoy.

The following games had no points, extras. They are simple “what if's” or “have we got that right?”.

Game 1 Elephant vs Phalanx. A fairly pedestrian push n shove game. Nothing will really happen until someone rolls a wobbly. I'd park up in front of the pointy's and blow raspberries until something happens. This is when you need archers to even the odds.

Game 2 Elephants vs Javelin skirmishers.

This was fun! Don't try it until your familiar with rules.

To start, there's where the missiles land. You need a D6 for each shooter then sort them out in respect of recipient. A quick tot up of factors then roll some dice – once your used to the mechanics it becomes obvious which is useless so you can speed through the process.

A lucky shot skewered the Mahout, leaving the elephant to rampage. (1-5 hit the elephant)
A quick pass through the skirmishers killed 4, 1 to the pikemen.


Game 3 we racked up the odds. A unit of pike supported by close order archers vs elephant and 4 skirmishers.
  First activation 3 for the elephant – eek!
 “The engines will never stand it!”
 Smack into the archers, who failed to shoot or evade. Two get trampled, one gets piked. Javelin support, hassled and locked the pike, even pushed 2 back!
Activation, 1! So they skip off. Elephant gets 2 so does a hand brake turn and piles into the rear of the phalanx, 3 gone. Javelins skip to the side to make sure they're not in the way.
 Pikes! Can they turn and save the day? Nope, 1 again
(if I ever roll a 6, I'll post it here)
What to do but go straight ahead and hope? Now elephants go faster than close order infantry, and they don't like it up'em!

So our recommendation for a fun game is infantry vs skirmishers, full of action, movement and drama.
An elephant that has “passed through” a pike block (it's all that forin food) meeting the reception committee. Can you imagine what it's like? Hearing all that, waiting to be stomped from behind. Don't panic!

 Yes, I know they are the wrong period troops, on too wide bases and not even fully painted.

But I'd rather be happy and wrong.  Good days wargaming in 'er in doors shop.  Thanks Tone!







Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Trouble 't Mill Forces

This looks like I went to a lot of trouble rather than did something basic on a couple of scraps of paper!

As before, the forces were designed in Flying Lead (FL), then converted to HTS.


Ixx “Infantry Fighting Insect”* Q3 C3 140                      HTS Q5 C5 A3
Armoured +3, Gyrostabilised flamethrower, Long move, “3 passengers”

Crew 1) Q3 C3 132                         HTS Q5 C5 A3
Long move, Needler, Crackshot, Armour, Stealth

Crew 2) Q3 C3 116                         HTS Q5 C5 A3
Long move, Shotgun, Acrobat, Armour, Stealth

4 “complete sets” 1,552

Sterling Forces
Being from a certain organisation Total 409 points

Model T Q4 C2 Medium move, Offroad 36 points*        HTS Q6 C4 A2
3 passengers and driver 114 points total.

Driver, camera, Q4 C1 Pistol 39 points                            HTS Q6 C2 A1
Col. Sir Strenge. Diplomat**, Pistol, Q4 C1 24points     HTS Q6 C2 A1
Memsab. Shotgun Q4 C1 30 points                                  HTS Q6 C2 A1
Ms Daphne Hugh Tracksoland Q4 C2 Pistol 24 points    HTS Q6 C2 A1

Peugot Roadster Q4 C3 Long move, 56 points                 HTS Q6 C4 A1
5 passengers and driver 295 points total

Driver Simon Strange Q4 C3 Heavy Pistols 49points      HTS Q6 C4 A1
Miss Gothe d'Type Q4 C2 Pistol 24 points                      HTS Q6 C3 A1
Captain Blue Q4 C2 Pistol 24 points                               HTS Q6 C3 A1
Chappie Q4 C2 Bolt Action Rifle 41 points                    HTS Q6 C3 A1
Jock Q4 C2 Sniper, Bolt Action Rifle 63 points             HTS Q6 C3 A1
Quiet American Q4 C2 Shotgun 38 points                     HTS Q6 C3 A1

Territorials all Q4 C2 HTS Q7 C3 A1

Major Harumphing Pistol, Leader, Mook 42

Grenadier, Chucker, Grenades, Mook 26

Trooper, Bolt Action Rifle, Poor Shot, Mook 33

Machine gun Light machinegun pre 45, Poor shot, Mook 60

(This doesn't do justice to the real Territorials who could hold their own against any contemporary professional soldier, bar possible the Gurkha.)

Officer, 21 Troopers, 2 Grenadiers and Machine gun crew. Sub total 847

Sub total 409

Total 1,256

*Against more advanced troops boasts a plasma-burst type weapon, more armour and crew carry SAW and rocket launcher.

**These rules boast an online builders for vehicles, squads and weapons. Love it.

*** knighted for services to the Empire in explaining to the Upyuu tribe that their ancestral land was no longer theirs and would anyone not willing to work please go away

My Trojan War Army List for Song of Spear and Shield

Trojan War Myceneans for Song of Spear and Shield v.1

Charioteer Light chariot    Points 85 Q 3 C3
Special Rules Chariot Light,  Long Move, expert charioteer

Chariot Warrior (dismounts & fights OO)  Points 105 Q3 C3
Special Rules Armour4, Javelin, Spear, Sword, Hero or Leader

Chariot Runner or Swordsman (OO)  Points 54 Q3 C2
Special Rules Shield, Sword, Dashing, Light infantry

Tower Shield Spearman (Close order)  Points 30 Q4 C2
Special Rules Pavise, Pike, Can be Drilled +4

Tower Shield Javelin (Close order)  Points 35 Q4 C2
Special Rules Large Shield, Javelin, Sword, Can be drilled +4

Archer (Close order)  Points 35 Q4 C2
Special Rules Bow, Composite, Good shot, Can be drilled +4

Later Spearman, or settled Sea People (Close order) Points 54 Q4 C2
Special Rules Javelin, Shield, Armour2, Sword Can be drilled +4

Skirmisher Archer (OO) Points 17 Q4 C1
Special Rules bow short, Expendable

Skirmisher Javelin (OO)  Points 15 Q4 C1
Special Rules javelin Expendable

Skirmisher Sling (OO) Points 17 Q4 C1
Special Rules Sling, Expendable

Nubian Mercenary Bow (Close or OO) Points 44 Q3 C2
Special Rules Desert survival, bow short, good shot, Can be drilled

Nubian Mercenary Javelin (Close or OO)  Points 48 Q3 C2
Special Rules Desert survival, Javelin, Shield, Can be drilled +4

Tower Shield Dendle Officer(Close order) Points 106 Q3 C3
Special Rules Armour4, large Shield, Sword, Javelin, Leader Can be drilled +4

Tower Shield Dendle Hero, Guard or Companion (Close order) Points 81 Q3 C2
Special Rules Armour4, large Shield, Sword, Javelin, Hero, Can be drilled +4

Later Officer (Close order) Points 100 Q3 C3
Special Rules Armour3, Shield, Sword, Javelin, Can be drilled +4

Later Hero, Guard or Companion (close order) Points 85 Q3 C3
Special Rules Armour3, Shield, Sword, Javelin, Hero, Can be drilled +4

Sea People Warband Points 41 Q4 C3
Special Rules Armour 2, Sword, Shield Terrifying charge

Myrmidon Spear (Close order) Points 62 Q3 C3
Special Rules Spear, Sword, Shield, Armour2

Myrmidon Noble Axe Points 68 Q3 C3
Special Rules Axe, Sword, Shield, Armour3

Myrmidon Youths (OO or Close order), Points 47 Q4 C3
Special Rules Shield, Javelin, Light Infantry, Terrifying charge

This list is designed to refight the Trojan War. As there is a lot of discussion about when and “if”.

I have included the early tower-shield and long spear armed troops as well as the later armoured open order javelin armed troops.
Please note that I have classed the tower-shield troops as pike armed (long spear used 2 handed) with pavise as this seems to deliver the right mix. These troops were intended to hold the enemy and keep chariots at bay. I can see no evidence of shield-wall type tactics. The shields were issued from the state, but there was no uniformity. What illustrations exist show each soldier with some room to move, cover himself with his shield by turning. Similar troops armed with javelins and swords had one hand free to manhandle their huge shields, so have counted as shielded as they have free-er movement. Archers and swordsmen attached to a unit attack from the unit, so are not skirmishers. I have also included the possibility that some troops were experienced and drilled. The units similarity to Alexander’s mixed phalanx is interesting!

Myrmidons are a hard hitting Thracian force commanded by Achilles. There is no hint of their kit. The double axe is forbidden to Achaean males. Both the Hittites and Egyptians had elite axe-wielding troops. So it's not hard to see a possibly mercenary or foreign-raised troops using a forbidden weapon (the Saxon and later, Viking mercenaries in the dark ages) or providing a different style of fighting. I've added some possibilities. I have to come clean, Khurasan's new Easterlings have inspired me to make another Myrmidon force)

Numidian Mercenaries seemed to have been used by Minoans, possibly Acheans. Easy to see them as an exotic guard. But why pay more for a troop type readily supplied by the poor? So there had to be a reason. Could they be regular, drilled troops? Terrifying charge, dragging prisoners back for lunch?

Settled Sea-Peoples gives a more reserved version of these troops. I'm thinking of the Lukka, who seemed to comply to the norm.

I make no apologies for classing Dendle armour as full plate. Having worn and fought in full medieval armour, against the weapons of the day it did the job.
Trojans were a Hittite ally. I suggest taking the supplied Hittite list and changing spear to javelin for +1point.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Trouble 't Mill!

Being adventures in Victorian Science Fiction using the All New Steamed Harder Than Steel V.1 and Flying Lead.

Act one Scene one The morning room of a large country house in the county of --------------.

“Excuse me Ma'arm, but there's trouble 't Mill!”

“Oh dear! What sort of trouble?”

“Crossbeam's out of skew on 't tredle!”

“Oh goodness, how can that have 'appened?”

“T'is them there aliens what have landed in the lower paddock, 'n all their diggin'n and goins-on ma'arm”

Scene 2, Split shot. Lady on telephone, office in Whitehall, gentleman behind desk, train speeding northward. Territorial Troops marching in stalwart and dignified mode.

Scene 3, Sent by M (or Holmes Senior), the party gather by the side of the road for pictures.

We decided to do a traditional alien invasion. Aliens land at an out-of way spot and promptly start digging.

I went a bit mad and bought a pack of WW1 plastic figures. This gave me more than enough infantry for 3 sections of 8, a couple of grenadiers and a rather nifty machine gun. Another lucky find was a (not black!) Model T and a Peugot roadster or hunting brake.

I'll do the list later! One of my favourite aliens is the IXX from GZG. One of the few 15mm figures that comes in several bits! Any resemblance to the one-shot of the Shadow alien on Babylon 5 is, of course, purely coincidental.

As you can see, I decided to mount mine on a Khurasan Bug as an “IFV”. The bug has a gland on the top (above head) I designated as a flamethrower. IXX don't make war, they hunt (more later), so all their weaponry is in-period.

In marches those sons of fun, the Territorials!

They are spotted (well they are all marching down the road!) The guard goes and engages them in small-arms fire.

A recurring theme of this game is the Ixx inability to hit a barn door from the inside!  An exchange of fire, both sides take cover.

Meanwhile over on the (alien) right, one makes use of 2-failed reactions then 3 activations to burst onto the road at the end of the column!

Small arms drives the rear territorials into the hedge, whilst the flame thrower takes out the roadster and half of its passengers.

The rest flee into a clump of bushes. Rapid fire from the Territorials into the bugs belly downs it!

The surviving crew member bolts for the same clump of bushes – they meet sort of halfway! A scrappy firefight develops.

In the centre the infantry show great stamina in leaping over low walls. The first bug flames the nearest house to flush them out. A mixture of fire and firepower kills about half of the first section.

The third bug creeps down the other side of the road, a pot shot kills Major Harumphing, which has little effect on the TA morale.

Getting close to the burning building, the first bug comes under grenade attack and dies!

The remaining first section poor on the lead, killing the crew.

Investigating, the last bug is riddled by a luckily placed machine gun and goes down. The rest of the infantry, having resumed strategic wall-hopping, fail to engage and the crew escapes via the yard – a gate was opened!

The last remaining bug makes a strategic withdraw. Only able to crew two of their Cavorite spheres, they make their escape!


So Cavorite was claimed for the Empire!

Mixing Flying Lead with HTS makes for a quick game (the HTS mechanism is quicker than FL) so a relatively large game (34, 2 vehicles & MG on one side) was possible.

Having a very cluttered table also helped, most of the infantry never advanced more than 3 moves! Flying Lead handles earlier weapons quite well, although you may feel inclined to slow them down or reduce the range.

We found 3 long for grenades a bit long, and were happy to reduce to 2 long.   Most VSF weapons are an improvement on the earlier models or correspond to a more modern type. I find shotgun a good all-rounder for any period.



Sunday, 4 August 2013

AAR First Harder Than Steel Game using V1

We made mistakes, but I'm not going to admit to them!

As the basic rules Andrea published didn't include everything, so I used Flying Lead modifiers and points.

The main difference in this game is that you get to (attempt to) use your opponent's missed activations. This comes to the fore when you lose two. Your opponent can then roll them, next start his round with the same unit or maverick This is what turns that solo figure into a Rambo, choosing targets and taking them out one after the other.


The Rebels realised that being heavily outnumbered, they had to be aggressive. Punching to the centre with two units, right wing held by the third and the left by the Storm.

The Imperials suffered with poor dice rolling to start (Very embarrassing to suffer three failures and then have to “grub” for every spare reaction to try and stay in the game!) allowing the rebels to storm their centre, routing one unit and depleting a second. Did not help that the Uber Heavy Weapon Dalek's computer self-destructed on first activation.

The depleted Imperial unit saw its opportunity for glory and close assaulted the enemy Black Dalek. Success! But the Rebels held, one unit did a short retreat.

Enraged, the Rebels go in, supported by their Heavy Weapons laying down supporting fire.


On the Rebel left, Storm is facing 2 units. Using its speed and mobility to do a strafing run, inflicting casualties and suppression But its luck didn't hold, three successes resulted in a move in, double shooting. Storm goes down in flames.


Their centre gone and the Imperial Black Dalek being chased by the last remaining HW Dalek, being forced to throw understrength units at it just to survive.

A very Pyrrhic victory for the Rebels.

HTS is a fast and furious game. It is easy to get confused between reaction and activation. DO NOT play with a rules lawyer, this is definitely a game you play WITH your opponent. If you want to just line them up and go straight ahead, there are lots of games out there for you.

Quick comparisons

Tomorrows war. Similar in that these mainly deal with infantry, the use of failed initiatives as reaction and not having to make a decision until you've rolled the dice gets rid of the “I'm going to do this” - “when you get here, I will react” that a lot of plays object to.

Useme. This first volume version has the ability to flesh out in the good old Ganesha way.

Gruntz. Seems to have radically alter each time I play it and there is the “according to the forum” rules mentality. Gruntz is very, very generic and most people don't seem to play with basic infantry, where this (like most Ganesha's) is best (FUN) played with less powerful troops.