Thursday, 16 November 2017

Ecgfrith Turns the Tide of History

Home alone again as the missus has had to house sit down south to help my son, long story, so of course this afternoon was free for wargaming, I arranged with Kevin to refight the Battle of Nechtansmere which in reality took place somewhere north of the Tay in Angus. It involved the Picts and the Northumbrians of King Ecgfirth, it was a large raid in part to teach the Picts a lesson as they had been encroaching on Ecgfirth's territory, which back in those days took in a large part of southeastern Scotland. The Pictish king, Bridei Mac Bili, was an aggressive leader and an experienced warrior, he managed to ambush the Northumbrians and inflict a heavy defeat on them killing Ecgfirth.

Picts on the left, Northumbrians on the right, Forlorn Hope and Van up the top.

Kevin was Bridei and I was Ecgfirth. The Picts had the advantage for the first two game turns and their cavalry made a wide detour to come in on the flank of the Northumbrians as they faced the Picts on the nearby heights, the Pictish forlorn hope which had lured the enemy on now stopped and threw in a wild charge on their pursuers, things had started well for the wild men. As the cavalry maneuvered, the centre of the Pict line raced downhill and clashed with the Northumbrian right, Ecgfirth looked around in dismay as his hearthguard battled to their front.

The Picts advance.
Brutal combat.

Despite some of the Northumbrian cavalry being defeated and the second unit being forced into a death ride against Bridei's hearthguard the Northumbrian infantry began to get the upper hand. The Pict forlorn hope was held then routed in a surprise melee result while Ecgfirth's hearthguard beat and caught their opponents. The Pict cavalry and Bridei's companions defeated everything in front of them and opened a large gap between the Northumbrian van and the rest of the line, another Pict unit although losing bodies in the centre, simply refused to run.

Picts threaten the Northumbrian rear, but then pull back.

On the Northumbrian left the Picts were heavily defeated and put to rout which left several Northumbrian units to turn and advance on the centre, Bridei was losing the numbers game and as his army started to disappear over the hills he decided to pull back and reform, blocking the way home for the enemy. But first he had to destroy the Northumbrian van, despite all the odds this unit held the hearthguard then turned the tables and routed them, with their king and best fighters seen falling in the heather the Pictish cavalry could do nothing more than ride into the sunset.

Bridei and his hearthguard die in the centre.

The game was kept simple as I don't think there are army lists out there for the Picts and Northumbrians in 685AD, so both were typical of the period in that they were all unarmoured apart from the hearthguards and cavalry, we know there were armoured cavalry at Nechtansmere. All were armed with shield, spear and javelins and had average morale apart from the king's bodyguard. I only used two small skirmish units in each army as this was a stand up, brutal, Dark Age combat. Things played out well, the Picts took advantage of their opening moves and threw in several charges, sadly the infantry did not do as well as the cavalry, for the Northumbrians it was the opposite, their infantry fought extremely well while the cavalry were dispersed early on. I am glad it turned out a good game, I would like to fight Clontarf next but sadly do not have nor will be getting a pile of Vikings, but you never know.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 17

On the way back to Bahrain we spent a night looking for a lightship which had slipped its moorings, we didn't find it, that was left to someone else, we had a date with RFA Rosalie for mainly ammunition replenishment and after that we headed for Bahrain. This time we had several mechanical and electrical problems to solve, the former quite serious but this gave the rest of us time for relaxing.

I volunteered to go sailing, real sailing using the dinghy thingy that we had onboard, this was normally officers only but my mate Coop, who was part of the Fleet Air Arm crew onboard persuaded me to go along, the FAA crew being only four in number were much closer than the rest of us. I felt like the proverbial spare ***** at the wedding and it was even worse when I was crewed up with the Captain for a race, what did I call him, it wasn't an official do after all, he simply called me Anderson or you there. At one point in the race, which he took very seriously, a string broke holding the front sail thing, he told me to grab the end of the canvas and hang out over the front of the dinghy, I had in effect become a bit of rope. I never took up the offer of sailing again.

We had a show put on at Jufair for us and the rest of the British forces in the area, Army and RAF, it starred Barbara law and Wee Willie Harris, and the event is completely non memorable for me, perhaps I was on duty. I managed to survive my first Ramadan, something which was completely alien to me but we were all reminded not to offend the locals as we went about our business.

Wee Willie Harris, words fail me.
 We had been due to sail on November 7th but we were still not ready and the other ships, British and American did as we were to take part in a large exercise called "Midlink". We did manage to sail the next day, better late than never, we met the rest of the 'fleet' at Bandar Abbas on the 10th, nine ships in all. That night instead of going ashore it was decided to have an 'Operation Awkward', where we were supposed to be under attack from enemy divers and we all had to listen intently for sounds of mines being popped on the hull while many of us patrolled the decks, there may or may not have been divers around but it certainly was awkward if you just wanted to get to bed. There was shore leave the next night, I was of course on watch but from the tales brought back I didn't miss much.

So, we are all geared up now for the morrow and several days of pretend warfare, we all hope to get through this and then head for Singapore.

Two Bombers and One World.....errr

Another dark miserable night when no one should be abroad, but it was club night, I took along my Wings of War stuff and went again for a 'points make prizes' game. This time we had two British bombers on a mission escorted by six scouts (Simon, Julian and Stuart) while the dastardly Huns also had six scouts in an attempt to stop them (me, Rob and Andy). Where I could I gave people the choice of aircraft and again everyone rolled for Ace abilities, Julian got two, I got one which was pretty much useless as I had possibly the best aircraft on the table, Fokker DVII's, I don't recall anyone else getting anything. So, the rules were again simple, -1 for getting shot down, +2 for a kill, +5 if you shot down a bomber and the bombers got +5 if they hit their target. It was decided half way through the game it was a team effort, but watch this space.

Both Andy and I came in on the flanks of the British force, my plan being to get on the tail of the bombers while Andy at this juncture just seemed to want to fly about miles, OK, a foot, behind the targets, Rob bravely went head to head with the enemy.

Rob's death ride.

Sneaky Red Devils.

For a short while the British escorts seemed nonplussed but they had dealt out a tremendous amount of damage to Rob's DVIII's and down they went, they now did an about face and came back on myself and Andy. I was in an excellent position on one bomber and continually sprayed bullets into the monster, although I took hits they proved in the main to be harmless. Andy now seemed to be the main focus of the RAF but he became the first German pilot to make a kill. The bombers were now on their approach run and I had watched one of my Red Devils smash into the ground in flames, but I took my revenge as my target exploded and fell in bits from the sky.

And then there was one.


We couldn't stop the last bomber dropping his bombs and I was on him as he turned for home, but so was nearly every other aircraft in the area, the resulting confusion as everyone tried not to collide allowed the bomber to get a head start on the way home, my new plane spawned in a perfect position behind the mayhem and he made a beeline for the tail of the bomber. My veteran at last could take no more and he spiralled out of control for mother earth however his last shots had also sent the second bomber to a fiery grave. Rob and Andy had also helped bring the beast down but the honours went to Jasta 18, as did the last German kill of the day as my man also took out a badly damaged Snipe.


The British also managed the last kill of the game which left the scores at 13 each, however my lawyer has just informed me that the British did not take a -1 for each bomber, but it would be churlish of me to mention such. I will say that Jasta 18 took home the cup for shooting down two bombers and a scout, a magnificent effort (too much?)

No matter, a great game and a lot of fun, the last bomber also hit his target before he was shot down.

"George flies in to save the day" courtesy of Stuart Dobson.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Heavy Weapon

I treated myself to a Seleucid war elephant, I intend to get two eventually but wanted to get started on the first model, I have no actual plan yet for the building of the new army apart from having to wait for the new cavalry. I do have an idea to get at least 2,000 to 2,500 points of core troops then add the rest as I go along but it is subject to whim so far.

Yes, the elephant, a lovely model from Aventine, I went for the traditional howdah along with armour and the lovely trunk which has grabbed a nearby soldier and hoisted him on high. I followed two tips, use a dusting of Bicarbonate of Soda with the superglue for the new Aventine metal, a light dusting is more than enough and paint the mahout and mount him before doing the howdah. The turret sat quite awkwardly so I folded some kitchen roll, lathered it in superglue and stuck it under the centre of the howdah and then sat it on the back of the elephant, this made the whole thing very stable, any suitable material would do. To decorate the base I used a couple of shields I had in a bag from bygone projects, a spare spear and a hollowed out Greek helmet along with the usual tufts.

So, I am moving on to two skirmish units, more will be ordered up in a week or so, I am thinking more support troops, for some reason I feel like doing the phalanxes last, weird but there you go.

I popped down to Kevin's this afternoon for our Monday boardgame, Tricorne again and the Battle of Monmouth 1778. For this battle the winner had to get nine victory points, the British get two for every hex they held on Perrine Farm ridge, but if moved off the hex they would lose them.

 I managed to draw several Right Flank cards at the beginning and off I went for the ridge, I also managed to get up and take the hedge line in the centre, I did not want to do anything with my left. I was doing very well at first and American casualties mounted, however, twice Kevin drew a rally card which meant he made good all his losses, as the battle unfolded I too now began to take casualties. For several moves I had to use all the cards I could to keep the attack going in, this was difficult as most of my hand allowed me to attack on the left, not the right and my centre sat around making tea.

Eventually I did manage to get my boys on to the ridge and luckily it was the Highlanders, these brave troops fought back every assault thrown at them, and there were plenty as the American commander became desperate to win back the ridge. I now decided to use those Left Flank cards and successfully threw back the American right, why didn't I do this before?

As the last Continental assaults failed I held enough of the ridge to declare victory, well done the Jocks. How did we ever lose this war, it seems very difficult for the Americans to win a battle, so far the British are usually concentrated while the Rebels have units way back from the front line, even with some good cards Kevin could not stop my attack. It seems that during the game you can get an attack started but keeping it going becomes the hard part, you can usually manage to move something but not in a coordinated fashion. We are going to try something else next week for a change, tomorrow it is Wings of War again at the club and on Thursday I am looking at a Dark Age scenario based on the battle of Nechtansmere from my scenario booklet.