Sergio's blog: hints, ideas, pictures and news about SDS (and more) from the author

Monday, November 25, 2013

61-65 AWI version

Here are some pictures taken by Stephen Huckaby during a recent AWI game, played with 61-65 rules adapted (by them) for the period.
Stephen said the game was a ot of fun. Hope you'll enjoy the pics.
 I have no batrep, hope Stephen will provide some more details soon...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Smile, you're on TV!

Me and Fabrizio being shooted by Regional Channel RAI 3 during GiocaPerugia.

2 days at GiocaPerugia

I was in Perugia during the last week end for the CON GiocaPerugia. I took part together with Andrea (who organised the first, unofficial tournament of "Of Gods and Mortals" - his last game published by Osprey) and Massimo (presenting his game "Ferrum et Gloria" about Gladiators).
It was the first edition of GiocaPerugia and we all were curious about the fantastic location chosen: the famed Rocca Paolina, i.e. the underground of the old fortress of the City. I must say the location was impressive: a kind of dungeon where people playing Vampire Live games were really *at home*. Even if it had some drawbacks (some drops of water spilling from the ceiling, and a difficult access) it was a nice experience.
I brought "100 dice" because of it extreme portability, and played a couple of games that gave me at least one more hint to trim the rules. Below, some nice tables from the wargame area:
 15mm figures, rules "A la Guerre!" by Gualtiero Grassucci. A battle in England around 1690.
 A fantastic 3D small table built for "Battlesworn" (Andrea's new fantasy game).
My 100 dice table with French and Prussian forces during the SYW. Many friends came by to say hello or play a game: below me with Alessandro Salini, one of the playtesters of 100 dice.
Finally, as there was a perfect replica of the Throne of Swords, I could not resist the temptation to have a pic sitting on it. So I did, with the typical expression of a real Baratheon King :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

100 Dice 5.0 test

A quick post to inform you that last saturday we had another playtest session of 100 dice with Diego & Diego from Rome. I wanted them to use version 5.0 of the rules (a lot of minor changes and a major one) and see if the game flowed as usual. The result was good. They played a two days battle set in the ACW, with extensive use of rifles and unformed units.
 Above, the situation at the end of the first turn. After the secret deployment, the Rebel player had to reinforce its left flank, threatened by an aggressive advance of the US cavalry.
The burned dice pools, turn marker (the big yellow die) and Disorder markers. I have to thank once again Diego & Diego, coming every time from Rome to assist me in these playtest sessions that are not as fun as a "normal" battle. Rules are discussed, changed, than discussed again. It is sometimes a trial and error process, because once you modify something you are never sure that the change won't affect (in a bad way) the building blocks of the game.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Altar of Freedom test

Always looking for innovative sets of rules, I bought Altar of Freedom (by Greg Wagman, published by Iron Ivan Games) and the scenario book All quiet on the Potomac, that contains all major battles of the Eastern front in the American Civil War. After trying the rules solo (which is not the best option considering the secret bidding procedure) last saturday I invited my friends Diego and Diego from Rome to give it a try.
I set up the Champion Hill scenario, explained the rules, and we finished it in 3 hours - just in time for lunch.
AoF is a game about commanding quite great bodies of troops (the basic unit is the brigade) that does not care about formations, and has very simple rules for movement and combat. As the author stresses in the designer notes, it is all about Command and the Generals' attributes (that DO change from battle to battle).
The heart of the system is the procedure for taking control of the clock (i.e. a sort of initiative that allows the player in control to set the pace of the battle) and I must say it works very well, as you have endless possibilities of trimming your bid for Priority points. The game has been designed for 6mm miniatures with the classic 6x3 cm. bases, but we played with my 15mm figures, based for Fire and Fury, on magnetic, 8x4 sabots. Above, you can see 2 US brigades "in column" and below the table after a couple of turns, with the Confederates defending the bridge on the Vicksburg road.
Knowing nothing about the rules, the US player was maybe too timid in his approach and surely I made a mistake adding Forney's brigade (an optional rule) to the rebel roster, because the Confederate won easily after the 8 turns of the scenario, avoiding the capture of the bridge by the US forces.
In AoF, small arms fire is quite ineffective if you want to break your enemies: close combat - and a wise use of supports - is what you need. You always (ALWAYS) need to have a reserve and this is something I like a lot, as players of my games know very well. Below, a Confederate Division deployed for an attack.
In all, a very good game in my opinion. NOT for those players who like the details of micromanagement, formations, wheels and "you can't do that", but great if you want to play all major battles of the ACW (the second scenario book will be available in 2014) in few hours, on a 120x180 table, and with a relatively small amount of figures.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Black Powder in Rome!

After 5 months from my enrollment as a Member of the ARSM Club in Rome, I took the opportunity to take part in a Napoleonic battle organised by Maurizio in the club HQ. Using Talavera as a guideline, Maurizio and the other lads built an impressive table (about 4x2 m.) with lots of 20mm miniatures. I asked - and was given - the Command of the Spanish brigades, deployed near Talavera. Above, the initial deployment of my forces (1 Infantry and 1 Cavalry brigades). We started at 10.30 AM, took a break for lunch and finished about 6 PM (even if I had to leave at 5 because of my train timetable). I was later told that our enemies (the French) won the day, even if marginally. My Spanish Infantry fought gallantly for 6 hours, but then - under heavy pressure - broke. In all, 8 players and a Referee (something I almost forgot) around a fantastic table, surrounded by other gorgeous tables and miniatures: a remarkable day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

To Do list

After returning from Koper, I had a very tough couple of weeks at work, but now - hopefully - I will have some time for my ongoing projects. A brief list includes:
- some more playtesting of 100 dice
- basing my 10mm French and Austrian Armies, to play a BIG battle with DSLB on my 120x180 cm. table
- an interesting experiment:  a small battle in double blind on a hexed table (I'll need 2 volunteers for this)
- paint some more medieval 15mm figures for 100 dice
- keep writing the DSLB supplement for Minor Countries' Army lists
I'll try hard to bring all the above tasks to completion.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back from Koper (Eurobasket 2013)

A fantastic week of basketball in Koper (Slovenia) for the qualifying round of the European Basket Championship: Italy went well over the happiest expectations, winning 5 games out of 5 against Russia, Turkey, Finland, Greece and Sweden. No words can describe my satisfaction. With 4 top players (2 of them playing in the NBA) injured, I left hoping just to win a couple of games and MAYBE qualify for the next round, but our boys played really hard, and Italy is the only unbeaten team so far in the tournament.
And now, the heaviest task: win another game (at least) to enter the final round, that will give Italy a slot in the next World Championship in Madrid (2014). Spain, Slovenia and Croatia will be our next opponents.
Let's keep fingers crossed....

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Time to go to Eurobasket 2013

Tomorrow morning I'll leave for Koper (Slovenia) to assist to the preliminary round of the European Basket Championship. My friend Diego will come with me. Even if our possibilities to reach the Final stage are low, we hope to see good baskeball and to enjoy the Region. We plan to visit some nice places in the mornings and spend the afternoons in the Sport Palace of Koper.
I won't probably post anything for the next week or so.
Arrivederci a tutti!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Medieval warriors are back

After many years painting (or should I say NOT painting?) Napoleonic miniatures I returned to medieval figures thanks to 100 dice. In other words, I'm painting a couple of Armies for some playtesting of  the game.
Looking for usable figures in the tonn of lead I have I found a DBA Army pack (Teutonic Order by Mirliton) and many packs of Essex and other manufacturers' minis. I decided to paint them as a Communal Italian Army, loosely inspired to the Army of Bologna in the Battle of Fossalta (1249).
Armed with my lamp with magnifying lens, I quick painted (base, flat colors and dipping) most of the Army pack.
Below are the results so far:
 Left to right: 3 Hordes, 1,5 units of crossbowmen, 1,5 units of spearmen, a single unit of archers, 1 unit of Light Horse and half a unit of Heavy Horse (Knights). In front, the General (a Knight).
Some closer views: the Hordes (I love peasants and priests armed with pitchforks!).
 Crossbowmen and Spearmen (with the shield design of the city of Bologna), the Big Boss and a single unit of Archers (Unformed Light Foot).
And finally the Cavalry. I still have some 14 Knights to paint, but I must paint 2 Armies to play 100 dice, so the enemy will be a Hofenstaufen Army (King Heinz's), helped by the Modenese troops. I'll use the rest of the Mirliton Army pack and add a bunch of Essex figures I found. It won't be 100% historical, but will be OK to test the game adaptation to this Period.
Not too bad for someone not painting since almost 2 years....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pictures of last saturday gaming day

As promised (and thanks to Marco and Giovanni) here are few pics from last saturday games day in Arezzo.
 Simone (left) and Stefano (right) playing 100 dice.  They played a full battle (with complete rules explanation) in about 2,5 hours.
Simone planning his next move. He won a decisive victory, with an astonishing dusk turn in which he destroyed 2 enemy units and badly damaged at least three.
 Being two expert DBA players, their deployment was a long, uninterrupted line, that in 100 dice can be quite risky due to the breakthrough phase.
And finally, a pic of the other table where Giovanni (Marco's son - left ) played against Filippo (Right) a couple of OGAM battles (Andrea's new game "Of Gods and Mortals", soon to be published by Osprey).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Another great day of gaming in Arezzo

Yesterday, Andrea and me went to Arezzo for a full gaming day in Marco's house. While Andrea tested "Of Gods and Mortals" (the upcoming game he wrote for Osprey) I assisted Marco and Alessandro (morning) and Stefano and Simone (afternoon) in two battles of 100 dice with the same Armies and terrain.
Both games came out very well, and all players like the rules. Between the games we also had a good lunch with all Marco's family.
I always feel very proud when two highly experienced players like Marco and Alessandro appreciate my rules. In Arezzo, they already have hexes and Napoleonic Armies (they are also DSLB players) and I'm sure they will play again soon.
Unfortunately, the few pictures I took are very dark, but maybe I'll have some to post thanks to Giovanni (Marco's son - surely a future Champion in wargames).

Friday, August 16, 2013

100 dice, hexes and miniatures scale

I received several requests about basing for 100 dice, hexes size and miniatures scale, therefore I decided to take some pics and post them here.
As most rules in the last decade, 100 dice does not require rebasing: you can play with whatever miniatures you have. For hexes - however - you shoud follow the golden rule: a hex must contain 2 of your bases side by side. As I wrote in the rules, take the base with the largest front and double the size: this will be the needed hex measurement across. A few pics will tell more than 100 words.
One of the most popular way of basing these little soldiers is 6 x 3 cm. with 2 or 3 stripes of minis. Being 6 cm the frontage of a base, you need at least hexes which are 12 cm across.
Top row, left to right: a British Infantry unit in Combat Formation and an Unformed Light Infantry in woods.
Center row, left to right: a General, an Artillery unit (here I doubled the base for visual effect, but you need just 1 Artillery base to play) and an Austrian Infantry unit in March Formation.
Bottom row, left to right: a Cavalry unit in March Formation and the CinC.
The same pic with a different angle. Thanks to Antonio for lending me his Baccus 6mm.
Golden rule: maximum frontage 6cm = hexes 12 cm across.
Many different basing systems here, as some producers make 10mm figures in stripes of 5, some go for single figures. I have Old Glory, whose Infantry is in stripes of 5.  The largest stripe of Infantry is about 3 cm, so I made 7cm hexes to have some space on both sides.
 Top row, left to right (all French units): an Unformed Light Infantry in woods, a unit of Cuirassiers in Combat Formation, and Hussars in March Formation.
Centre row, left to right: the CinC with a General, an Infantry unit in Combat Formation and another in March Formation.
Bottom row: an Artillery unit.  All Old Glory miniatures, painted by Fernando Enterprise.
Golden rule: maximum frontage 3cm = hexes 7cm across.
Here also we have many different basing systems. One of the most popular is 3 x 1,5cm (that's also the advised basing for Drums & Shakos Large Battle). Again, 7cm hexes would be OK, but if you want to have more space on the sides, you can go with 8cm.
 Top row: Unformed Light Infantry in woods.
Centre row, left to right: a General, a Light Infantry unit in March Formation, and a Cavalry unit in Combat Formation.
Bottom row,  left to right: an Infantry unit in Square (I enjoyed myself to make a dedicated base, otherwise you can use a *normal* unit and arrange the bases back to back), an Infantry unit in Combat Formation and an Artillery unit. Old Glory, Minifigs and Fantassin miniatures, some painted by me some by unknown artists).
Extended Golden rule: frontage 3cm = hexes 8cm across.
One of the most common basing is 4 figures on a 4x4cm, with deeper bases for Cavalry. To accomodate the horsemen, we'll need a 12cm hex.
 Top row, left to right: a General and Unformed Light Infantry in woods.
Centre row, left to right: an Infantry unit in March Formation, another in Combat Formation and a Cavalry unit in Combat Formation.
Bottom row,  left to right: an Infantry Square and an Artillery unit.
A closer view on the French Square and the Unformed Light Infantry (Prussian Jaegers). My 28mm are individually based, so I used some Perry plastic bases as sabots. Hexes are scratch built, but you can easily find them on the Internet. Miniatures are Perry plastic, Mirliton and Front Rank, self-painted.
Et voilĂ : with 3 types of hexes (7, 8 and 12cm, with 8 being more a luxury than a need) I can play with any Armies I have from 6 to 28 mm, using the miniatures I have and without rebasing.
The biggest table I need is about 150x150 cm, the smallest some 90x90.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tour de Force

One game yesterday, with Massimo coming from Rome and playing against Andrea in a tight game. The test showed that - with a little luck and some planning - an apparent defeat can be turned into a victory during the last bound. Below, Andrea planning his first move.
Today, I played a game in the morning (solo) and another in the afternoon with Andrea. In about 1 hour, I'll play another game with Luciano (a very busy day!). For all 3 games I used (and will use) the same terrain and Armies, as I want to try different approaches and compare the results. In order to try a *mounted* Army I decided to use the Napoleonic Ottomans against the French.
 The situation before the Ottoman first bound. I deployed a strong cavalry force on the left, and kept 4 infantry Inferior units in Reserve. The plan with the Ottomans was to try a flank maneuver on the left and envelop the French right.
End of the first bound: I moved 4 cavalry units ahead with a General to guide the attack. The Turkish scouts sent to find a way around the French right found broken and wooded terrain, forcing the cavalry to form a sort of column for the attack.  
 As the French player, I was forced to counter the cavalry threat on the right flank, and I did so forming 2 squares and trying to rally the retreating light cavalry, In the meantime, French artillery bombarded the advancing Ottomans in the centre. This was the end of turn 1.
Even if the expense in terms of resources (dice) was high, the Ottoman pushed again on the left flank, breaking the French Hussars. I also advanced the Artillery (bottom right of the picture) to prepare a bombardment on the French square in future turns.
French second turn: time to call for some reserves. I had 1 Cuirassier and 1 Line Infantry entering the fray, preparing for a much needed counter attack. I also retreated with the Artillery in the middle to build a second line if the squares were overwhelmed by the Ottoman cavalry. To lower the pressure on the French right, I also advanced on the left with a couple of battalions.
Third turn for the Ottoman player: I reorganized the cavalry wing pushing on the enemy flank (you need "fresh" cavalry to perform charges in 100 dice) rallying and aligning units. More important, I advanced with two units in the centre (one of Janissaries and 1 of Militia) with a double purpose: attack the French centre and open a corridor for my artillery to bombard the square.
 French third turn: the Cuirassiers counterattack, preceded by artillery bombardment. The Ottoman cavalry wavers, the squares hold... On the French left, I tried to press on the attack forcing the enemy to spend precious Command Points.
 Ottoman fourth turn: the Army is tired, resources lack. Anyway, one French square is routed by a deadly bombardment, while in the centre, Janissaries and Militia continue to threaten the enemy. On the Ottoman right the French attack stalls: they are tired, too.
French fourth turn. More reserves enter on the right, the remaining unit in square deploys in Combat formation as the Turkish cavalry is not a menace anymore, with the Cuirassiers in control. Night falls on the exhausted Armies: it is a marginal victory for the Ottomans, mostly due to losses inflicted than ground gained.

During the following game against Andrea, I took the Ottomans and tried to repeat the left flank maneuver, but Andrea was wise enough to move first and occupy the woods on his right with a light infantry unit in open order, thus crippling my planned cavalry move en masse. In the end it was a French Victory by a narrow margin.
In a few minutes, I'll play again with Luciano the same battle, and we'll see who will prevail.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The daily test

Yesterday another playtest of 100 dice. This time it was Nap again, Andrea vs. me. After the doubts of tuesday night game, I modified again some rules (Rally, Morale and Reserves) and introduced Cards.
This is something I had in mind since long, because I think cards add a lot to a game without complicating it.
However, 100 dice won't be a card driven game. Cards will simply add some unpredictability, will help you to solve a desperate situation, and will give you back precious dice ("All I want is another hour of daylight!").  In the (blurred) picture below, the situation at nightfall.
Once again my left flank was overwhelmed, and my main attack (in the centre) was repulsed with losses. Andrea won  a marginal victory. He played well, had a bit of luck (always welcome) and was able to use 2-3 cards at the very right moment, getting the edge. Cards work very well in my opinion. All I have to do is to find the right balance of them in a player's hand. Yesterday we played with 1 (that is, a player always has 1 card in his hand and when he plays it, he draws another) today I want to try with 2.
Cards will be generic and specific for the period played. I am now working on a deck of 24 cards.
Hope you'll like it!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

100 Dice, this time ACW!

Another evening of playtesting for 100 Dice: this time I wanted to try an ACW battle, so I sketched some special rules for the specific period and fought a full battle, with Andrea helping in the final stage.
Here is the situation after deployment
On the left, the Confederate Force, with Union troops on the right. Units off map are Reserves, dismounted cavalry and miniatures to be used as unformed units. On top of the picture, the numbered hexes are for flanking maneuvers. At the bottom of the picture you can see the blue cups with 100 dice each and the burned dice area with a divider and the turn record marker (the big yellow die).
Below, a pic taken after the first turn.
  The Rebel attack (top) seems to have shaken the US line. US Cavalry evaded from a contact, dismounted and reorganized. An unformed US unit is holding the woods. In subsequent turns, the attack will falter and finally the Confederates retreated.
In the Centre, 2 US batteries concentrated fire on a single Confederate battery, eliminating it in a couple of turns. On the Confederate left all was quiet until the last turns, when the Unionists launched an attack at dusk, achieving very little. In the end, it was a draw.

I'm still not happy with something, but a long conversation with Andrea after the game gave me some interesting idea...... stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Work in progress

Another playtest of 100 dice yesterday evening with Luciano. Another defeat (for me), but some steps forward in the complex process of adding, cutting and trimming of the rules.
Real work and other everyday activites prevented me to organize a new scenario, so I repeated the one we played on sunday with Diego. This gave me the opportunity to try twice the same game (but the result was the same :)
This is the situation after some of turns from my point of view (Prussian). Considering the French "Grand Battery" that Luciano deployed against my center-left,  my plan was to hold there and attack on the right, trying a flanking maneuver with my light cavalry to avoid the swamps. My Jaegers secured the woods in the centre....
 Something - however - went wrong: my flanking maneuver was partially frustrated by a broken terrain that appeared in the middle of my path (in 100 dice you may expand the battlefield if you try a flanking maneuver, adding up to three hexes per side) and the attack on the right-centre was more expensive then expected. Above you can see the maximum penetration I reached on this side of the table.
On the left flank, Luciano launched an attack that completely broke my line, also capturing the wing commanding  General. My reserves just recalled prepared themselves to counter, but night fell bringing a minor Victory for the French. There are still several rules to trim, another session maybe this evening.