The Battle for Ringsend

For the last two months, I have been running a play-by-email game for four friends. It was a kind of Kriegsspiel insofar as the players had limited information, but the map and the rules were more akin to board games. After my last experiences with Kriegsspiel, I wanted to have better structured rules – I thought it would make it easier and quicker to write orders and to process those orders. This worked out only partially: As the rules were written a bit hastily, there were many loopholes and inconsistencies and I had to modify them along the way. I’m very grateful for the player’s patience!

My set-up.

The game was set in a fantasy world I called “Ringsend”, with four kingdoms vying for control: The Wood Elves, the Dwarves, the Orcs and the Humans. However, the humans really were undead – the human leader was a necromancer and I gave him some special abilities to integrate his enemy’s losses into his army. Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, I really didn’t think it through properly and it caused some frustration with the players (after one turn, another player took over). I also changed the special abilitiy several times to find a balanced mechanic.

The other special abilities were rather predictable: the Elves were quick, the Dwarves had advanced siege equipment and the Orcs couldn’t be too sure how many of their troops would turn up at a battle.

Players could also assemble heroes and give them tasks, such a retrieving an artefact or trying to assassinate an enemy leader.

The Battle of Ilsig

At the start of the game, the Elves and Dwarves quickly expanded while the Orcs and Humans took some time to get off their feet. Virago, the Elf player, was very methodical in his approach and managed to occupy the most locations. He also forged alliances with the Orcs and the Dwarves. Dwarves and Elves soon began a campaign against the Humans, while there was some skirmishing between Orcs and Humans. The campaign culminated in a big and chaotic battle at the town of Ilsig, which covered the entrance to the Necromancer’s fortress. The battle was a lot of fun for me as a game master, as the Orcs unexpecetly pitched in, but as they were not allied with the Dwarves, those suddenly began to fight against each other.

The Necromancer managed to get the help of a dragon, but had little chance against the combined might of Elves and Dwarves. He sent two assassination parties to the Elvish court, but neither of them succeeded. In the end, his fortress was overrun. His realm was destroyed, but, like any good villian, he himself escaped on the back of the dragon…

As the Elves and Dwarves quite liked their alliance and did not want to break the peace, we decided to end the game here.

This is the end score (numbers indicating locations occupied):

Elves: 12

Dwarves: 10

Orcs: 4

Humans/Necromancer: 0

The final positions.

The Dwarves had a number of well placed armies and a surprise strike against the Elves would have been interesing. But alas, the players prefer peace!

It was great fun running the game and I hope the players also enjoyed it, even if the rules were shaky and rather fluid sometimes. But the narrative turned out great, and at least for me, that’s the main thing.

I’m already planning another such game – this time in a sci-fi setting. Let’s see how it works!

A New Blog

I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I was kind of uninspired and then the whole COVID business started and suddenly other things occupied my mind. This also means I didn’t get much miniatures gaming in. I do, however, play a lot of D&D nowadays – using Discord, it’s easy to get together a group that is physically distant!

There is one thing I started, though: a new blog! As you all know, I have been fascinated by the American Civil War for a couple of years now. I have now decided to put all this together on a new blog. This will feature essays on historical topics (which feel kind of out of place at The Raft) as well as scenarios for wargames (mainly Sharp Practice).

So, please consider following Stauchendiciler!

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The first post is an essay speculating about the origin of the phrase “opening the ball”, which was used to describe the beginning of a battle.

And if you wonder about the name of the blog – the “About” page offers an explanation!

Stauchendiciler also has a Facebook page and I’d be happy if you’d consider following it!

And for those of you not interested in the American Civil War: Don’t worry, The Raft will continue. I will post about my hobby activities and all my science fiction and fantasy stuff here.

 

This was 2019

2019 was a good year for gaming. It was also the year of Dungeons & Dragons! D&D was my most played game last year. This is due to several reasons: After our old group disbanded, we started a new one with K. and my gaming pals Sigur and Virago. Sigur’s brother was kind enough to take on the task of Dungeon Master and he does a very good job indeed! We also play occasionally with another group of friends. And then I started an experiment: As a have two friends who live far away, I wanted to try to game via Discord. This works astonishingly well and we now have a regular group with people living in Germany and Sweden. It’s great to be able to game with those friends!

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The second most played game was Sellswords & Spellslingers. This has become a firm favorite, as it is incredible versatile and can be played with grognards as well as people who have no experience with miniature games. I also started playing with my niece, using the fantastic anthropomorphic animals from Oathsworn.

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Animal sellswords.

I’m glad that my personal favorite, Sharp Practice, is still among the first three and I’m happy that I’ve played on average (almost) one game per month. A highlight of the year was my birthday, where Sigur, Stephan and Virago joined me for a big game of Sharp Practice. Also, special thanks to Sigur for indulging me and joining in testing my hair-brained scenarios!

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Zouaves defending the liquor.

There are lot of games I played once or a couple of times, which is a good thing, as I like the variety and I enjoy getting to know many different games. A great factor in this has been a new gaming group I joined – thanks for your hospitality and for showing me such great games as Zombicide: Green Horde, Last Bastion and UltraQuest!

One of the highlights of the year was the 2019 edition of Missin’ in Action, our yearly gaming event. Great fun was had with a good ol’ classic tavern brawl! We’ve already got great ideas for next year’s event…

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Dispute at the bar.

And so many other great gaming memories: The big finale of Barbi’s fantastic RPG The Wasted Time, Sigur’s spectacular Halloween game, my visit to Vivat, the annual Austrian wargaming event, Sigur introducing me to the Thirty Years War with his spectacular collection of 10mm figures, the map Kriegsspiel and many more.

I can’t even say how grateful I am for all my gaming partners! Thanks guys and girls for sharing your enthusiasm and time and allowing me to indulgence in this great hobby of ours.

Fighting at the Forney Farm – Our Game

Last week, I had Sigur over for a last game before Christmas. We played Sharp Practice, using my Fighting at the Forney Farm scenario. Sigur played the Union, while I took command of the Confederates.

1TableSetup
The set-up.

In this scenario, key for the Confederate player is to push through to the Union Primary Deployment Point while keeping the Union forces coming from the Hoffman house behind the Confederate position in check. With the firepower of breech-loading carbines, it’s a very bad idea to get caught in the back!

I started by deploying a line of three regular groups at the Eastern fence, reading to march towards their objective. At the same time, I deployed some skirmishers at the Northern fence to keep an eye on the Union pickets.

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Getting ready for the attack.

Sigur deployed a dismounted group near the Hoffman house to harass my skirmishers. 

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Union pickets.

Of more concern to me were the two mounted groups he deployed at his primary Deployment Point. Those guys rushed towards the orchard near the Forney farm, dismounted and took position just outside my line of sight.

I wanted to lure Sigur into deploying more units at the Hoffman house, as I hoped that would make it easier to reach my objective, so I detached a group form my line and had it take up position at the Northern fence. The ball opened with Sigur’s pickets shooting at my skirmishers, which took quite a beating and had to retreat.

4BallOpens
The ball opens.

I also deployed my other line and had it march in direction of the Hoffman house. In answer, Sigur deployed the rest of his units there. I got what I wanted – now it was a matter of speed and decisiveness. So my Eastern line stepped off, climbed over the fence and marched towards the Forney farm and the waiting carbines of the Union troopers.

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Step lively lads!

Meanwhile, the Confederate pickets took my poor bloody infantry under fire. A lucky shot hit and instantly killed my Force commander! That was bad news, as my line facing the Hoffman house was under considerable pressure and unable to do much.

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Under pressure.

However, my other line was making good progress. As it approached the orchard, to my surprise Sigur decided to pull his troopers back. 

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At them, boys!

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The troopers skedaddle. Also, the barn caught fire.

He later said he was afraid of the line’s volley fire, which is ironic because I was quite afraid of the firepower of his carbines. Anyway, the troopers rushed behind the farm house, but my line smartly wheeled and poured a withering volley into the skedaddling bluebellies. 

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Caught from behind.

This was a heavy blow – one group broke immediately and the other was badly shaken. This more or less sealed my victory. My line advanced without impunity and detached a group to rush the Union deployment point. A Confederate victory!

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Victory!

This was one of the best games of Sharp Practice I’ve played in a while. SP always gives good games, but I felt that this scenario worked especially well (if I may say so myself). It was quite balanced, which is difficult when one side has breech-loading carbines, and the game was close-fought – my Force Morale was at 4 when I reached the objective. With the two Union deployment points positioned on either flank of the Confederates it also poses an interesting tactical problem for both sides.

Sigur said that he made one big mistake, and that was to keep his troops at the Forney farm in cover and then pull them back. I’m pretty sure that, had he taken my line under fire, it would have been much more difficult to get to my objective. Perhaps we’ll have a refight one day…