Archive for the ‘ song of spear and shield ’ Category

SSS & Large Battle SDS (again!)

Another holiday in Terni! Me and Diego again. Our train left the station at 7.43. You get up early in the morning for these little pieces of lead. I could say that my summer holidays this year are in Terni…

As you can see, there is another improvement in the Large Battle SDS playtest rules: the cover is in full colour. Well, there are even other modifications, the morale rules are better focused and very simple, some little developments are on the ground, some personalisations of the armies are tested. This time was tested a scenario for the book, a strange fight between minor nations.
These rules are a long time investment for Sergio, and Diego is very involved in their definition. I think that they are better every time that I see them, but more things are to be tested. They have to be perfect…

While musketeers was echoing in the room where Diego and Sergio played, me and Andrea were involved in some small fights for Song of Spear and Shield. We wanted to test some situations as hoplites warfare, light chariots and heavy chariots. Some ideas were tested, something was good, something was not so good. Chariots are a hard challenge to put them in a game. More work have to be done, but the core rules are fixed. Next time we want some pachyderms and more chariots.

In spare time after this session, me and Andrea playtested his alpha versions of a sci-fi game with voracious aliens. And I showed my new iPad2 to Andrea to have some indications on its functions. A frozen train left me at the station around the 22.30.

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Large Battle SDS (another test)

Another full day of intense playtesting and chatting about this new game! In these times we are only playing with games in form of prototypes, thanks to Ganesha’s pillars, Sergio and Andrea (indeed, Andrea is the Ganesha man, but Sergio give a great contribution and wrote the great title SDS). It is more fun to play with a game in development because you can say something on it, how you feel the playing, making suggestions on the rules and the mechanics. Obviously not all what we can say is accepted but it is good so, because who create the game has a better control on what want to simulate the rules and on their full spirit. Testing is a great thing because you can prove on the ground your thoughts with real people. And we are old DBA animals, used to tournaments tricks to receive more advantages from our actions. Moreover Diego plays every week with a different set of rules in the ARSM club, so he has an experience built on a lot of games. He is falling in love with this Large Battle that we are viewing in its development since a couple of years.

This time we tested a new type of moral test and we found some interesting and some wrong things in it. Sergio annotated all and the next time he had the solution. It was a lot of time that I didn’t see the game because in these meetings I tried other games as Song of Spear and Shield, so I found some new developments in it. I can say that it is a great game. If you think that Napoleonic games are complicated and boring you can have a big surprise. You understand immediately the play and what to do with your troops. And all maintains the right period feeling. I’m not a fan of Napoleonic times, but this game is so interesting that I would quickly buy a bunch of miniatures to play with it, but I have so many projects (the newer a huge army to play with Song of Spear and Shield) that I cannot do it.

What to say more? Well, I win the day, a week after Diego took the train to Terni to play another playtest, tomorrow there will be another playtest. If you want a better report than mine on the game that we played, read the Sergio’s blog.

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SSS in Canino

Another testing day for Song of Spear and Shield. This time was my birthday, while Diego birthday was the day before, and we were in Canino, a village in the north of Lazio, near the ancient Vulci, an Etruscan city. In Canino lives our friend Narciso, who offered his wargame table to this interesting way to pass a birthday.

A game of 2 vs 2 was set, with Andrea who tried to find what was more right as rule for the situations that we created during the fight. Four cards were drowned drawn to determinate which of the four players could move and act. We had a robust contingent of 20 pikes and heavy Macedonian cavalry against more numerous rows of hoplites. Some skirmishers with throwing weapons were available for every side. Me and Paolo were commanding the Macedonian front.

We divided the army. I held the right front with only a cavalry unit and two units of skirmishers. The enemy had more troops so we had to refuse a side and put our efforts focusing on only a point, the weaker one, we supposed. Hoplites are slower than our cavalry so we wanted to utilise this weakness to destroy ‘em one by one. But every plan is useless if you play against statistic laws. At the start we took only a full series of punches on our faces. We attacked and we died. I was static, with a large amount of 1 when I had to do as a valid activation throw only 2 or more on a 6 faces die. All but 1 and I had 1, all but 1 or 2 and I had 2. I fell in demoralisation state even if my troops were not in this mode. I couldn’t act and when I moved only bad results were the outgrowth.

In the progress of the situation, Paolo launched the phalanx at full force, 20 pikes on four rows, against the enemy. We obtained something, but they were too many. We had the phalanx closed on three sides, so now they was not a phalanx but a porcupine! The end was clear. So we lost.

We had fun, we were playing among friends, we tested the game for 4 players, we ate a lot, we visited Narciso’s house, we took a look to the next location for our DBA tournament, but I believe that my birthday to me isn’t the best moment for a game: last year I went to Spilamberto for the Anticamente tournament and I made my worse results; this year I lost with infamy. Another lesson: pikes are bad, especially if you are used to pick up 28mm soldiers without think to 7cm pointed pikes that are strongly towards your hand. I pay blood for it! I’m thinking to not raise an army of pikes for this reason…

Well, what could I say about the rules? I like SSS, it is a ruleset that I believe a lot. I’m playtesting it as much times as possible. I’m even enlisting a large number of troops for an Italian IV century B.C. scenario of mine. There are some little things that still doesn’t work fine. The main problem is that simple is best, so we have to define simple rules that have to work for complex things. You cannot spent your time consulting complex tables or trying to force geometric opportunities to play this game. But this simplification process is a difficult thing to do, and you must produce a beautiful and interesting play. A lot is in his definitive form, but you have to test more some mechanics and types of troops. The historical range involved in the game is so wide that you have to think to a lot of armours and weapons, and to simple rules to express these difference.

Next test is scheduled for the 16th of this month. Obviously no release date yet.

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SSS testing before San Marino

I’m involved in Ganesha Games’ Song of Spear and Shield development, so I found a day off to go to Terni for a playtest of the latest version of the game. We had an urgency because three days after there will was the convention Dadi.com in San Marino (the free and little State inside Italy, beside with City of Vatican; Monte Carlo instead is for a few km inside French territory), the emigrated version of the biggest wargame convention of Italy, originally located in Crema and directed by Lorenzo Sartori.

After the playtest of Agliana a lot of things were developed, and in the right direction I think. If I was sceptical about the idea of cd trackers for light troops, now I’m sure that they work finely. Now I’m happy with the game mechanics, even if Andrea has still to do a lot of work. We played a extenuate game at the last man standing, to prove situations that we could forgot to think about. Always Romans against barbarian from the North. I’m on the Roman side, obviously! We made some rule changes and now, when I have metabolised this long day, I’m thinking about other upgrades. I’m waiting to hear Andrea on skype for a discussion about these adjustments. In the meantime there will be the playtest in San Marino and other feedback on the game. Maybe in June I could find time for another trip to Terni…

The playtest was in refurbished Andrea’s house. If you want to see more photos of our battle you can go here

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Hellana 2011: Spear and Shield

This time Sergio was at home and only Andrea came to Hellana. Hellana is a convention only for players of historical wargames so Ganesha’s fantasy rulesets were not so appreciated here. I asked about a game with Song of Spear and Shield and Andrea satisfied me. It’s time that a skirmish game for ancients see the light because there are around a lot of beautiful 28mm that you cannot use with DBX or other games where you have to simulate an entire battle. Thousands of men reduced to formations of 28mms in tens is not the right look of a battle. Sometimes you want something smaller, a fight with only a part of troops. So you can even buy not an entire army but only the pieces that you want.

We set a game but something didn’t work. I have my ideas of what a fight with ancients is so I wanted to play in another way. All is too much simple for the period but complicated for some mechanics. There is the need of counters and this is bad. The mix of concepts from “Song of Blades and Heroes” with “Song of Drums and Shakos” and “’61-’65” doesn’t work. We couldn’t think about the scale to give to the game, how you can put in battle array your historical troops. No solution.

I was a hard playtester this time because I like ancient history very much. And I want a great game and not a watered to humans version of “Song of Blades and Heroes” with spear and shields. Andrea was very dubious after my remarks. Another game was set but with other people. They have fun with what I refuse.

Me and Paolo were walking around without a game to play, Andrea was free so we tried another game. And this time we put forward a lot of ideas. We change the mechanics, the overlap modifiers, how a man can die, how fight, how calculate morale status, how to regroup, how command troops. A lot of things! Now it was entirely another game. Andrea must prove it to test it. And we want to play again with this new version but with a lot of troops involved!

Obliviously no release date yet!

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