Tag Archives: Wargaming

Trial by Battle: Battle of Hattin 1187

A new scenario for Trial by Battle.

You can download this as a PDF as well: Battle of Hattin 1187

Battle of Hattin, 1187

The Battle of Hattin was one of the most significant battles between the Crusader states and the Ayyubids attempting to retake their lands. The defeat of the Crusader army at Hattin lead to the loss of Jerusalem and nearly all the of the Crusader-held cities except Tyre. The Third Crusade was launched as a direct result of the losses resulting from the battle.

The Ayyubid army led by Saladin had launched an invasion of the Crusader states following the breaking of the truce by Raynald of Châtillon. Saladin laid siege to Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Gallilee. Tiberias belonged to Raymond III of Tripoli and his wife, Eschiva, was trapped within. Despite this he tried to dissuade Guy de Lusignan, the King of Jerusalem, from attempting to lift the siege, fearing the strength of the Ayyubid army. But Guy took other advice and marched the full strength of the Kingdom’s army out to intercept Saladin. The Crusaders left the springs of La Sophorie and marched towards Tiberias. But they were constantly harassed by Ayyubid horse archers which delayed their advance until they found themselves desperately short of water. They changed their direction of march in search of springs to the north of Tiberias. Saladin’s army closed in for the kill. Horse archers harassed the army from the flanks. In the historical battle this caused the infantry flanking the knights to flee to the high ground of the Horns of Hattin for protection, where they were picked off at the leisure of the Ayyubids. The knights tried to force their way through the Ayyubid forces standing in the way of their path to the springs. Repeated charges largely failed, except for one contingent led by Raymond III. Eventually the King was forced to surrender to Saladin.

Objectives

The Crusader army are desperate to get to a supply of water, but Saladin’s army are standing in the way. The Crusaders must attempt to get at least half their army off the board to the East. Saladin’s Ayyubid army must stop them.

Forces

Crusaders

2 Mounted Knights

2 Infantry (4 Stamina only)

2 Archers (4 Stamina only)

Ayyubids

4 Light Cavalry

2 Infantry

1 Mounted Knights

Battlefield

The battlefield for this scenario is fairly flat except for the main feature which is the high ground where the extinct volcano known as the Horns of Hattin was located. This can be represented simply by a large hill taking up part of the southern third of the battlefield, or a couple of peaks can be added as well.

Battle of Hattin scenario map

Deployment

See map for deployment. Only the Ayyubid Mounted Knights and Infantry start deployed on the table. The Crusaders enter from the Western table edge in the formation shown. Ayyubid Horse Archers enter from the flanks as shown on their first turn.

First Turn

The Crusaders take the first turn.

Special Rules

The Crusader Infantry and Archers are particularly vulnerable to the Light Cavalry horse archers deployed by the Ayyubids. Historically most of them fled to slopes of the Horns of Hattin (an extinct volcano whose crater formed the distinctive double horned landscape). To represent this the Crusader Infantry and Archers must take a Unit Courage Test once they take four hits. If this test is failed, then they must move to the raised ground of the Horns of Hattin when next possible to do so. If the test is passed, then they will make a test whenever they take more hits. After the first failure they move to the Horns. If they fail a second test they break. They may fight and shoot as normal, but once on the high ground area they may not leave it for the rest of the game unless the Crusader General goes to rally them.

Duration of the Battle

Until one or both armies fail an Army Courage Test or until the Crusaders exit three units from the Eastern table edge.

Victory Conditions

An army wins when the opposing army fails an Army Courage Test and they do not. If both armies fail an Army Courage Test the battle is a draw.

The Crusaders can also win by exiting three units from the Eastern table edge.

Download as PDF: Battle of Hattin 1187.

Wargaming Mindfulness

What is Wargaming Mindfulness you may ask? Surely new age hippy nonsense like meditation, mindfulness and zen have no place in the wargaming hobby?

Well whatever your inclinations to such things and whatever you call it, I think talking about how we approach the wargaming hobby is relevant. I’m not going to suggest a meditation programme for wargaming, that would be a bit weird. But I do want to write about how to approach this hobby in a way that is positive and doesn’t lead to frustration.

What is Mindfulness?

Firstly it’s a good idea to just say what mindfulness is. Mindfulness in its simplest terms is being present in the moment. You can use meditation to help you be mindful, but it’s not essential. If you’re mindful you appreciate the time and place you are in without constantly dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can be beneficial to mental health and help reduce stress and anxiety. And remember mental health doesn’t cover only serious disorders. Everyone goes through times of low moods at some point or another at the very least. Mental health issues are at least as prevalent as physical health issues.

Causes of Wargaming Anxiety

So if mindfulness might help with anxiety and stress, what are the potential causes of those in the Wargaming hobby. Could you be suffering from any of these:

  • Too much lead! The size of your lead or plastic mountain of figures to paint seems never ending. That could be a good thing perhaps, but if it leaves you with despair about ever finishing it then it’s not!
  • Switching between projects. Again that could be good if it helps keep you motivated by bringing variety. But if it’s not intentional then it might mean you’re distracted easily and can’t settle on anything. The result is you get frustrated when you don’t actually finish anything.
  • The new shiny. You see a new product advertised, read an article or listen to a podcast that discusses a certain game or wargaming period  and think “I want to get into that. It sounds great!” So you end up buying it … and then it sits on the shelf for a long time. As well as costing you money it also contributes to the size of the painting mountain never to be finished.

There could well be other causes of wargaming hobby stress – maybe the stress caused by a new Warhammer edition that renders your carefully collected army useless, or concern about what others think about your painting skills. But I guess you probably get the idea.

How to approach the Wargaming Hobby Mindfully

So how might you go about being more mindful in terms of your wargame hobby?

It’s hard to be honest. I often switch between projects – not just because I fancy variety, but because my mental attention gets sparked by something new, and I end up not finishing what I should have been doing. Then several months later I think why didn’t I finish that project, I could be gaming with it by now!

Well actually approaching other parts of your life mindfully can help. I would recommend meditation as a good way of coping with stress.

I think it does help to have a plan as well. Not a plan of how to paint everything you have, but at least a plan of what you are going to paint over the next few months. You can work some variety into that plan as well, so you don’t end up painting 100 of the same figure!

I also keep a Painting Diary to see what I painted each month. When I look back at it I can see what I achieved and perhaps see where I started a project I never finished and then plan to get back on track.

You could avoid news of new products etc to avoid temptation.

But perhaps the main thing is just to take pleasure in the thing you are doing at the moment – don’t be thinking too much about what you want to do after you have finished this project, but enjoy getting done what you are doing. If the hobbying is a bit dull and you start dreaming of a new figure to paint then maybe listen to an audio book at the same time to distract you from planning the next project in your head!

I hope this article has helped. Let me know if you have any other ideas for how to avoid wargaming hobby frustration!

Solo Wargaming: Some Useful Books

If you’re contemplating solo wargaming then there is a wealth of information online – some good and interesting. But if  like me you’d rather get to grips with a subject by reading a good book then there’s also some available too. There are rules books that contain some options for solo wargaming – and indeed some games have been specifically designed for solo or cooperative games in mind – I’ll cover those in another post. But if you want some rules-agnostic ideas, then here’s some good books to have a look at.

Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargamingdonald-featherstone-solo-wargaming

This the granddaddy of books on solo wargaming – a classic by a well-known legend of Wargaming. I have bought the kindle republishing of this by John Curry and found it an interesting read. I have started exploring some of the ideas in the book, which are inspiring, fun and relatively simple. However, this book won’t provide a concise system for solo wargaming – it’s written in a rather meandering conversational style, which is very charming, but also a bit frustrating if you’re wanting to use it as a resource. Also some of the ideas are a bit tricky to apply nowadays – who has loads of matchboxes kicking around for instance!

But I would heartily recommend reading it – and it’s fairly cheaply available.

Donald Featherstone’s Battle Notes for Wargamers Solo Wargaming Editiondonald-featherstone-battle-notes-for-wargamers-solo-wargaming-edition

Another one from the Don – I’ve not read this one – it’s only available in Paperback and I have only just come across it – it’s been reissued by John Curry as well – so perhaps there will be a kindle version at some point as well? From what I can tell it provides 15 historical battle scenarios of actual battles, together with notes on how to play solo. That sounds like a great resource to me.

Has anyone else read it?

The Solo Wargaming Guide by William SylvesterSolo-Wargaming-Guide-william-sylvester.

This is a more modern book – I think by an American author. From what I have read it seems to be a good resource of different solo methods:

Features methodologies for campaigns (mobilization, weather, logistics, morale, alliances, revolts, sieges, and mutinies), sea campaigns, integrating fantasy, tactical actions (terrain, weather, commander’s competency, concealment, ambushes, and minefields), and air warfare.

It’s in Paperback only though and I haven’t got it – again it would be great to see something as an eBook. I simply don’t have the space to collect loads of printed books!

The Partizan Press Guide to Solo Wargaming by Stuart AsquithThe-Partizan-Press-Guide-to-Solo-Wargaming-by-Stuart-Asquith

Previously published as the Military Modelling Guide to Solo Wargaming, this has been taken on by Partizan. Unfortunately, this is also only available as a printed book, but again it does look really useful. I have read on various forums that it is a useful resource. Certainly one for my wish-list!

Well I hope that was useful to somebody. If you know of any other books, or have comments about these, please add in the comments section below.

 

Solo Wargames: A Guide

There is no better time to think about how to play solo wargames. Unfortunately due to the Covid 19 crisis many people who used to meet up to game – whether RPGs, boardgames or wargames – can no longer do so. There’s a few different alternatives, such as playing computer/console games instead, or trying out various online solutions – for instance Tabletop Simulator, Roll20, Zoom etc. But just because those options are there doesn’t make them easy to use or a replacement for getting a physical game out. In particular tabletop wargaming with miniatures is much harder to do remotely.

So I expect a lot of wargamers are instead having a think about how to play solo. I actually do this anyway, as under normal circumstances I only venture out to a wargames club once a month anyway. I really enjoy playing solo. It’s a great way to try out new rules for instance, but is also great if you want to run your own scenarios and campaigns without constraint from the whims and desires of others. Solo wargaming is ideally suited to creating your own imaginations and narrative games. So far that’s not something I have done a lot of, but I think now would be a great place to start. I am hoping to post some ideas and experiences here on a regular basis – partly battle reports of trying out different rules, but also some tips and advice on how to run a solo game. For instance how do you make things “fair” – and is that important at all or not.

Some subjects to cover will be:

  • Different “rules” for solo
  • Reviews of books/articles on solo wargaming
  • Games designed for solo play
  • Benefits of solo wargaming
  • Battle reports of solo wargames
  • How to stay motivated (avoiding distractions!)
  • And plenty more …

I usually play one solo game a week – usually early Sunday morning on the dining room table before it is in use by the family. Last Sunday I played Rangers of Shadow Deep for the first time and had a lot of fun with it. Once I have played it a bit more I will post an article about it. This weekend I would like to try a Medieval skirmish using the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Games rules. There are some fan versions available that convert it for use for Medieval games, so I am going to try those out. Hopefully I will post some pictures and a battle report here next week.

English Civil War and Thirty Years War in 6mm Project – Prologue

A Bit of History

In the late 80s, as a teenager, I was heavily into Warhammer but also started reading Wargames Illustrated and Miniature Wargames and decided it might be cool to play some historical wargames. I settled on the idea of 6mm as being a cheap way to build a big enough army to play with. I collected some WW2 tanks and infantry – which I did finish painting and played a few games with using the old Firefly rules. But I also bought quite a few Heroics & Ros ECW and Irregular Miniatures TYW figures as well. I started painting and basing these, but never really finished enough to have a proper game. At the time the only ruleset I had was the WRG Renaissance one, which required casualty removal of single figures. Needless to way working out a way of doing that with 6mm drove me to distraction and I never really carried it through.

Now thirty years later, I’m back into Wargames again, and looking again at all those historical figures I had. I kept hold of the 6mm stuff and realised that with new rulesets the problem of casualty removal was no longer going to be there. Also a lot of rules nowadays seem a lot less complicated than the old WRG ones. Perhaps I could try this again – refight Naseby (which I did a school project), other ECW battles and the Thirty Years War?!

So I’m back at the start of the process now, thinking about how this project is going to pan out. I thought it would be cool to have a kind of project diary on this blog. I’ll be covering some areas thematically about what I have decided to do, such as which figures I’m going to use (there are some gaps to fill in my old collection), rules, basing, battles to play etc. I’d also like to play a campaign as well.

Or, and did I say, this is intended to be a solo wargames project – I have friends into gaming, but more on the Age of Sigmar and RPG end, so this is my own obsession for the most part!

What I will Cover in the Project

These are the areas that I intend to write about first just to get me up and running again gaming in this area. I think it’s likely I will blog on the following (in no particular order):

  • Basing
  • Figures
  • Rules
  • Armies
  • Scenery
  • First battles to play

Virtual Miniature Wargames Creation

First off I am no great expert on the subject of virtual miniature wargames, but have played around with a few different ways of doing things, so wanted to give my opinions of what works for me at least. If you’re looking for a how to do this, I’m not planning to go into detail of that now—although I might another time. However, I would say that Vassal seems to be best option as it gives a lot of flexibility, is free to use and has some miniature wargames modules already loaded that you can learn from.

Why Create Virtual Miniature Wargames?

Software like Tabletop Simulator and Vassal are designed to simulate the experience of a board, card or miniatures game on the computer. They don’t recreate a computer game where all the calculations are automated and the player doesn’t have to know the game mechanics. The idea is that you don’t have to have the pieces of card, plastic or metal in front of you to play the game—these are all represented using digital images on the screen—including the board or table.

But if that’s the case, what’s the point? There’s a few reasons.

Multiplayer

The ability to play with people at a distance rather than face to face. Not something that was an immediate need for me.

Cost

Guilty secret—it’s a way for people to play these games at low or no cost. One reason GW bans publication of Vassal modules on the Vassal site. However, other publishers are more chilled about that – the probably realise that having this version doesn’t replace the real experience, and in fact probably helps nurture it. Also I don’t think usage is that high.

Space

I don’t have space for a miniatures games table more than 2 x 3 foot, so playing larger games would be impossible any other way. At the moment for physical games I am restricted to smaller, skirmish style games – Hobbit Strategy Battle Game for instance.

Time

To play a physical tabletop game, you either need a good block of time – half a day at least perhaps, or can leave a table set-up until the next gaming session. I have been able to do that sometimes with our 2 x 3 table, but that’s not always possible. So having a virtual table that I can save and come back to is a great asset for playing a longer game.

What I wanted to do

My ideal situation was to be able to try out some wargames periods and rules sets that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to on a real tabletop – again for the reasons above. My aim was to get more familiar with some of the most popular rules on the market – for instance De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) for Ancients and Medieval, Field of Glory for several periods, Bolt Action for WW2.

The need was for something that was quite customizable and easy to use. Visual appeal would be nice to have, but not essential.

My Experiences so far creating a Virtual Miniature Wargame

I had come across two examples of Virtual Tabletops previously – Vassal and Tabletop Simulator. Vassal is free, very customisable, but doesn’t have the 3D engine that Tabletop Simulator. That 3D engine comes at a moderate cost – I think I paid £14.99 on Steam for it, but given that amount of games you could play with it that seemed reasonable.

Tabletop Simulator for Virtual Miniature Wargames

Tabletop Simulator virtual miniature wargameI’ll start with this one first. I had learnt enough about it to be able to play the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game, so I decided it was time to try some of the wargames. That’s where I came a bit unstuck. When I downloaded some of the wargames modules – e.g. for Warhammer or Bolt Action, I was presented with a load of models, some of which wouldn’t load properly. That meant going and actually watching some tutorial videos and looking up why the image files wouldn’t load.

Having successfully done that I started off with a simple Horse and Musket game. Really just a battle that someone had created rather than a whole game set.

The main issue with Tabletop Simulator for simulating wargames became quite clear at this stage. It doesn’t seem to have any way to actually move several individual models and keep them together. You can select several items and move them, but when you put them down again (unless you’re very careful) they tend to fall over or move around. The way round this is to create units with several figures on a base. But that requires digital modelling – something I could probably learn to do, but not at the moment!

I think for skirmish games such as W40k, Bolt Action this would be OK, but since I am not planning to learn the rules for those games just yet, at this point I decided to leave the flashy 3D graphics of Tabletop Simulator behind and try Vassal.

Vassal for Virtual Miniature Wargames

Vassal virtual miniature wargameTo my surprise and delight I found that there was actually a Vassal Module for De Bellis Antiquitatis. I hadn’t read the rules yet, but I knew that the unit bases for it would work well with One Hour Wargames rules that I had used with some card cut outs. So I plunged into this. As setting up a game was a simple process of dragging bits of scenery and units onto a board and then moving them around using the ruler provided, that was pretty simple. However, I then realised that I had no easy way of recording One Hour Wargamingcasualties.

The One Hour Wargames system gives each unit 15 hits before it is destroyed. The module for De Bellis Antiquitatis naturally didn’t allow me to record that, so I had to think about being able to customise the module somewhat to ease the bookkeeping. I didn’t want to try to keep track of hits outside the actual Vassal software. After all it felt that the point of having a simulator was to help with the paperwork too! I read the whole Vassal module creation manual – about 150 pages, but actually quite a quick read and easy to follow, and fairly soon I had the skills to add a text box to each unit that I could edit when they took casualties. See below for a picture!

Vassal Screenshot virtual miniature wargame

I was quite proud of that achievement and decided that Vassal would probably be the system I would work with for the moment. I was competent enough to either edit current modules, or maybe even create my own to make the wargames I wanted to.

What next?

Having tested editing a module in Vassal. I think the next step for me is to use it to play a few games of DBA and learn that system. Then I would like to take a look at Bolt Action as there’s a module for that too – and then probably work through creating some modules for a few Ancients and Medieval rules such as Field of Glory, Warmaster and Warhammer Ancient Battles. These would be for personal use – I wouldn’t post on Vassal given the copyright issues!

I hope you found this overview of my experiences with virtual miniature wargames interesting. Tell me your thoughts in the Comments.

Field of Glory – Choosing a Medieval Army – Castile

If you don’t play this rather niche PC conversion of a tabletop wargame, then please look away now! I do and I love it. Always have liked wargaming since I was a kid and Field of Glory Digital hits all the right buttons for me. I was a bit doubtful at first because of the hex layout, but I have fallen in love with it now.

I took part in one of the Field of Glory leagues recently, and have just been invited to take part in another one. Last time I had a late Roman army – lots of cataphracts and horse archers alongside doughty legions. I got whipped pretty much – only winning 1 or 2 games out of 10!

Undeterred, this time round I’m thinking of trying my hand at the High Medieval league. I’m thinking of going for a Spanish army – such as the Castilians or Aragonese. What attracts me is the mix of unusual troop types – such as light cavalry jinetes, alongside more traditional knights, spearmen and crossbows. I have been doing some test battles recently – trying to fend off Swiss and Low Country pike armies to see how the proposed Castilian army matches up. With these Field of Glory leagues it seems that you really have to know how to use your army effectively – the AI is quite good, but can usually be beaten, so I’m doing some test runs at the moment to see how well I can do with my medieval horde plus jinetes before committing my choice of armies to the league.

I am also tempted though to play the masochist and try out a French army – you know the ones who kept on getting beaten up by the English. More on this soon!

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