Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Unique Commander Qualities for Hail Caesar

I was reading a thread on TMP that requested a set of ancient rules that included (among other things) variable generals. Many people suggested Hail Caesar, but it was pointed out that generals in Hail Caesar are all cut from the same cloth, barring their command value.

Commanders in Hail Caesar only have a few game rules associated with them that might be altered, but with a little bit of tweaking I think there are a lot of possibilities in bringing a unique flavor to individual generals. The Hail Caesar rules already have a few suggestions:

  • Command Rating: The number under which the command dice must be rolled to issue a command. Typically 8. Vary it by +/- 1 to customize the commander. 
  • Combat Ability: Maximum number of dice a commander can roll in combat. Typically 3. Increase or decrease the maximum number of combat dice, up to 6 dice for a legend such as Alexander the Great.

There are a few other inherent numbers associated with commanders that could be changed for variety: 
  • Command Distance: How far away a unit must be before suffering penalties to the command roll. The standard command radius is 12", but this could be adjusted by say +/- 3" to represent a commander with especially well or ill trained runners or communication system. 
  • Survivability: After concluding combat in which the commander was attached to an engaged unit, 2d6 are rolled to determine if the commander is hit in the melee, with an additional 1d6 rolled to determine whether he is wounded or slain. Grant the commander a chance to reroll one of the 2d6 (perhaps once per game), or to gain a +/-1 to the following 1d6 roll to represent either a particular hardy or weak warrior.

Commanders also receive a few special actions to help their divisions, Rally! and Follow Me! Both of these could be modified by allowing the commander to roll three dice rather than the usual two, taking either the two best (or alternately two worst) dice for the result, representing commanders who are either particularly charismatic or hated. If that's too fiddly, simply give the commander a bonus or penalty to their command rating when issuing a Rally! or Follow Me! order.

Finally, just as units receive unique special abilities, the same could be applied to commanders. A Wild barbarian general might be able to reroll the dice he adds to the first combat he engages in. A Tough Roman commander might get to reroll one of his combat dice each turn.

Want to randomly generate the quality of your army leader before the battle? Roll a pair of d6, one assigned to the general's positive qualities, and one to his negative qualities. If the you rolled a double, the general has no special qualities, otherwise consult the chart below:

Positive DieQuality
1Pious: Once per game, re-roll one of the two command dice. The new roll stands, even if the result is worse than the former roll. 
2Stern: The commander suffers distance penalties when issuing commands to units beyond 15" (rather than 12")
3Orator: Roll 3d6 discard the highest die when issuing a Rally! command.  
4Charismatic: Roll 3d6, discard the highest die when issuing a Follow Me! command.
5Warrior: Only slain on a 1 or 2 (rather than 1-3) when determining fate after being hit in combat.
6Fierce: Roll the general's combat dice separately from the unit he is attached to. Once per game, re-roll any of the general's misses. 

Negative DieQuality
1Drunkard: May not use the general's re-roll ability to re-roll a blunder. 
2Undisciplined: The general suffers distance penalties when issuing commands to units beyond 9" (rather than 12")
3Not One for Speeches: Roll 3d6, discard the lowest die when issuing a Rally! command.
4Coward: Roll 3d6, discard the lowest die when issuing a Follow Me! command.
5Ill Health: Slain on a 1-4 when determining fate after being hit in combat. 
6No Taste for Blood: Roll the general's combat dice separately from the unit he is attached to. For each die that is a miss, reduce the maximum number of dice the general can roll by 1 in future combats.

These aren't tested, and might be too fiddly in practice, but I thought there might be something there worth trying.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Psst! eBay Deal : 28mm Celtic Cavalry

I was trolling eBay - window shopping really - and stumbled upon this deal for a boxed set of Warlord Games Celtic Cavalry for less that half of retail price. I was sorely tempted to bid myself, but I'm moving house in the next few weeks and don't necessarily need to be buying extra things just to pack them up for my move. The seller also has few of the Warlord gallic foot sets too for the same price. I wish I could take advantage myself, but thought I'd pass these on in case you were interested.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Source Games and Comics

My family and I flew out to Minneapolis for the wedding of a good friend of mine. Whenever I'm in a new city I like to keep an eye out for the local game and hobby shops to see how the locals do things, but game shops being few and far between I'm rarely rewarded with discovering even a "hole-in-the-wall" store with a few GW Space Marine boxes. This trip turned out to be a gold mine. I spotted Source Games and Comics on the way to the rehearsal dinner. "Yeah! It's huge! You need to check it out!" my pal remarked when I mentioned it to him. I was able to sneak in a quick visit between wedding events, and he was right.

The largest game store I've visited was The Game Parlor in Chantilly VA, but Source outclasses it. This place is huge, a wide and extremely long store, one side devoted to comics, the other to games of all types, with a large open gaming area with a dozen tables in the rear.

A view from the front of the store, comics on the left, games to the right.

The store was bright and clean, and the staff was ready to help. I was surprised at the amount of historicals they had in stock as well. A full aisle dedicated to Flames of War, but rows and racks of Old Glory, Peter Pig, and a large number of historical rules sets for sale.

Historicals, the near shelf full of various rules, the far set dedicated to FoW,
historical miniatures extending to the back of the store.

The gaming area was a hive of activity with a number of card games and RPGs in full swing, but I spotted a collection of wargame terrain ready to go as well. What a store! Minneapolites, you've got quite a gem on your hands!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Historicon 2013: This Year's Picks

Martian skyships battling it out during Historicon 2012

It's like Christmas morning! The PEL for Historicon 2013 was just posted, and my gaming buddies and I are making our short lists of the games we are hoping to get into. There are TONS of great looking games, far too many to even see while we're at the con, let alone get a chance to play. Some of my favorites for this year after the jump.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I Need Miniature Paint Brush Recommendations

I've been painting miniatures for a long time, but never paid much heed to the brushes I used. Paint, figures, even basing material and terrain all received my careful attention, but I became accustomed to picking up some cheap brushes from the local arts & craft store and replacing them once they lost their tip (typically within a month or two).

Last year I picked up an Army Painter Brush Set and was surprised at what a difference using a dedicated set of miniature painting brushes made.  The Army Painter set included a "Standard Hobby Brush" which I assume is size 1, and a smaller "Hobby Detail Brush" (size 0?) and a flat tipped "Drybrush" brush. The Standard Hobby Brush became my work horse, with the Detail Brush helping out with facial highlights, edge highlights, piping and shield patterns. After a year of use (far better than my usual cheapy brushes) the Army Painter "Standard Brush" is kaput, its tip frayed and splayed. It's time for a replacement.

Coincidentally, Monty at Twin Cities Gamer happened to mention how happy he was with his brushes. I was all set to pick up his favorites, a Raphael Kolinsky Sable size 0 and Raphael Kolinsky Sable size 1 when I read a comment to his post suggesting a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable size 0 and Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable size 1. I'd heard of Winsor & Newton from miniature painters before, but really hadn't put much thought or research into them.

So fellow painters, what do you recommend?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Horses, History and Hits

Horses aren't my favorite thing to paint, but they need to be done. To help get through them as quickly as possible, I'm painting up all of the cavalry I have on: a box of Conquest Norman Cavalry and half a dozen Numidian Cavalry from Warlord. I'm trying out a few techniques, including following the guide described by David Imrie (of the Saxon Dog blog and Claymore Castings) in Wargames Soldiers & Strategy #66. I had all of the Vallejo paints described in the article and the short, sweet description is easy to follow. I'll probably do another batch of horses using my usual oil rub method to compare the effects.

I started listening to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast again while working on the mounts, and happened to pick episode 41 - Thor's Angels, ostensibly about the Dark Ages, but actually covering everything from the first Celtic sacking of Rome all the way to the First Crusade. It was fitting batch painting Numidians and Normans while listening to the full sweep of history covered in Dan's podcast.

Also, you should check in on Tamsin's blog, Wargaming Girl. She's extremely prolific, cranking out armies in a very short time span and providing daily (or nearly so) updates regarding their progress. She's racked up over 100,000 hits to her site, and to celebrate she's giving away prizes every day for 5 days. Only two days in and she's setting up a drawing for a boxed set of Bolt Action Brits, and two gift certificates for GZG and Baccus. Great stuff, check it out! :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Foundry eBay Deals: Vikings

The other warband I'm working up for SAGA are Vikings to face my Normans.  Foundry's eBay store has a number of old citadel sculpts, but I've already started my warband using Wargames Factory and Gripping Beast plastics. Do these old Citadel sculpts measure up, or are they dwarfed by today's modern "heroic scale" figures?

Foundry Vikings 

I like these sturdy Viking figures. They aren't rushing about, charging into melee, but I dig the quiet air of menace suggested by the guys wielding axes and wearing the helms with face guard. These are listed as ex-Citadel.

Viking Archers 

The recent plastic sets from Gripping Beast and Wargames Factory don't have a plethora of ranged options, so I was thinking of picking up these Vikings as an archers option for SAGA. More ex-Citadel I believe.
A separate section of the Foundry store offers another range of Viking figures, but these aren't ex-Citadel. More about these after the jump.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wargames Foundry eBay Deals: Normans

Hunting around for alternatives to Old Glory Normans, I found Foundry's eBay store. Foundry is under "new" management (actually the original owners have retaken control of operations), and Foundry is offloading a lot of figures at bargain prices that were sculpted and sold under the previous management as they don't match the classic range of Foundry figures. Are they as bad as Foundry thinks? A quick review after the jump.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Old Glory 28mm Norman Archers

Taking a break from Romans and Carthaginians to make some progress on my Dark Ages lead pile. Im hoping to do Hastings, Normans in Italy, and the 1st Crusade some day, but for now I'm just trying to sneak in a few SAGA warbands in between other projects. Norman archers after the jump.