Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Prussia '44

The family weekend was a success, the weather was not too promising but it came good for Saturday and especially Sunday, our sports day, which only went to prove if you are an old geezer like me you should not try to pretend you are a young gazelle.

Unsure of what was happening for club night I rang Simon and he said he would like to try out some ideas for Bolt Action, smaller forces and more realistic scenarios, so that was fine by me and only meant popping two boxes in the car.

As we pondered what we would do I mentioned an idea about having a bridge set for demolition, but the troops tasked with this had to await the last of their retreating friends before doing so. I got the idea that the game should also be an infantry only clash from a post on Tales from GHQ, Simon had already thought of that so we were in agreement. We decided that a small number of Pioneers supported by one squad and an MMG were in situ around the bridge, if possible the bridge would not be blown until the rest of the force, coming down the road, were across and safe. If something happened to the Pioneers and the infantry had to blow the bridge then they would need to make a die roll, not having the expertise of the Pioneers. The Russians could dismantle the explosives if they spent a full move on the bridge doing nothing else.


We established where the Russians would arrive and one squad had managed to sneak across the river so that the defenders were assaulted from both sides, the German MMG opened up on the first Russians to appear and knocked them back into the woods, a good start. This went south when the second Soviet squad opened up and took out the MMG, my main defence, on the west side of the river there was now only the small group of Pioneers left, my squad in the east had two more enemy squads coming at them so could not go to their aid.


Despite taking some losses the Pioneers nonetheless held the Russians off, but they weren't going to last, I thought of retreating them but it would be a dodgy move and would leave them exposed, however they failed their order test so they stayed put. The Russians on the east bank aggressively assaulted my squad in a nearby house, my brave boys fought them off, then the sound of truck engines could be heard as the remaining Germans arrived, it was looking bad for the Soviets. Within a short time the Russian forces on the east bank were eliminated, but on the west bank they had now destroyed the Pioneers and taken the house commanding the bridge. I moved towards the house but hesitated with my second squad, this gave Simon the opportunity to rush at the bridge. The game hung in the balance, I turned all my firepower on the men scrambling over the stonework, 20+ shots and only four kills, the Russians managed to tear up the Pioneers handy work and I lost the bridge.



A tense and exciting game considering the forces were both around 550-600 points on a small table with a scenario almost made up as we went along.

War and Conquest action tomorrow, Kevin will be bringing his Greek City States army for its first outing and I will get the Thunderbolts out, this will be a tough challenge for the Twelfth and my own skills, I must work on my pre-battle speech.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Glan Gathering

I am off to our annual meet up of the Anderson Clan tomorrow, I am closing the PO until Monday, I have warned my two regulars so I can leave with a clear conscience, I don't much care to be honest, I had four customers this morning and all they wanted was money, no letters, no parcels.

We will eat and drink, we will play old fashioned games, sing, argue and shed a tear for our departed parents while taking a walk down memory lane. I hope the weather is kind to us for the egg and spoon, three-legged race and that one where you stand in a sack amongst others.

There will be no View this week for those who enjoy my ranting.

So, have a good weekend because I certainly will.
 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Interesting Night

I took a lazy approach to last nights club night, I tend to do now and again as I work in the shop all day, drawing maps and then run about daft trying to sort everything out in half an hour. So I texted Andy and was told there was a Black Powder American War of Independence game on but Rob was not coming, I booked a couple of slots for Simon and I. When we turned up Rob was there and it was Stuart running a 'Land of the Free' game, not BP.

The game was a trial for the rules, published by Osprey, of course. It was probably a tad large for a first game but the troops looked nice, I especially liked Stuart's resplendent redcoats with their large yellow flags. I was not the British for a change in this game, I just happened to be sat where the 'enemy' was setting up, so I took two French 'groups', I was also given the job of CinC while harbouring thoughts of a poisoned chalice.

The game did not really get very far, new rules and one player had to leave half way through but there was enough action to get an overall feel of what the rules were aiming to achieve. Fast play for big battles I think is the idea, you get so many movement and combat actions to spend with each unit, once these are done you move on to the next one. If you time things correctly you can deliver a devastating blow to the enemy lines which the poor sods can do nothing about, so it is a brutal set of rules, the combat mechanics are very simple, perhaps too simple if you do not like your battles in broad strokes. We also have yet another initiative system, this time each side activates a group at a time until all the groups on both sides have had a turn, no big deal for me because everything gets a turn.



By the time we called a draw we were getting the hang of movement and firing, no doubt there is more to the rules, there has to be as the book is not the usual small Osprey offering but a large, hardback tome, complete with advanced rules and scenarios, it is also a decent price for these days. No, I won't be starting a new period.



I surprised Julian when he turned up and challenged him on his selling off of his Late Roman troops, the nucleus of an army, Julian is to wargaming what Del Boy is to Trotters Inc. He explained some complex wheeling and dealing which netted him a full cowboy town and the troops to start an Early Imperial Roman army with the cash he garnered from the sale, he can now sell some of his own cowboy town, no, I don't get it either.

Julian's trading acumen also benefitted Ryan who was spotted with a very large bag of Victrix Greek cavalry and a smaller one of archers. I am told the cavalry can be Macedonian, Successor or Greek, I have no idea of the differences but that must be an excellent selling point, I had a quick look inside the bag and the figures and horses especially looked excellent.


I wonder if metal figures will become a thing of the past, if plastic keeps targetting the main troop types i.e. hoplites, legionaries etc. will that mean the metal firms will not survive merely selling support troops while their core troops sit on the shelf made redundant by plastic. You cannot fault the excellence and price of most or all of the plastic figures, interesting times ahead. I wonder what the actual economics are for the manufacturers between metal and plastic.

Stuart, who ran the game last night, as well as buying everything connected with wargaming is the proud owner of a 3D printer. I noticed little white Y shapes on the table and wondered what they were for. As units got ready to move these little 45 degree thingys were popped on to the base, they show the angle clearly and immediately, what a superb idea with a myriad uses. Well done that man.


Sunday, 6 August 2017

View From The Window

Yes, it's raining again. Last week we had rain the like of which I had never seen before, as I sat watching something on the telly, an unusual occurrence these days, I decided to get up and look out the back door, luckily I did. The drain was blocked and the water was starting to build up ready to flood the living room, I had to quickly step out into the storm, rip the lid off and try and clear some of the leaves etc. within a few seconds I was sodden but the water started to subside, I should have known better, this has almost happened before, the last time there was a frog in the drain, yeuch. Job done I went and popped into the shower only to hear the missus shouting that we had another tsunami heading our way, I threw on my Speedos, no, the shorts not the budgie smugglers, and out I went again armed with a soup ladle to get at the grit in the drain. Luckily for me the drain is surrounded by wall and outhouse, so no embarrassing YouTube footage, not that you would have seen anything through the constant downpour. I now check the drain continually. One of the authors I have recently worked with lives just north of Capetown, South Africa, and is living out of buckets hoping the next rainy season will bring much needed water, he can have some of ours.


The lessons of Brexit have been completely lost on our leaders, whether you were remain or leave one of the overriding reasons was that we had had enough of them knowing what we wanted better than we did. Now we have the morons allowing adults, and I use the term loosely, deciding their own gender on a whim and it becomes official, they are going ahead with a massively expensive rail link which hardly anyone wants or believes in while a good road is becoming a thing of the past, and now they are banning petrol cars from 2040! The best selling electric car does not do what it says on the tin and gets a subsidy of £4,500 so you will buy it, if something works why does it need a subsidy? And here's a good one, you don't get the batteries with it! You have to lease them at £80 a month or buy them for £5,000 and don't forget the unmentioned colossal problem of how do we get the electricity to power all this in 2040 when we are unsure we have enough now.

And if that is not enough proof we are led by lunatics then while most motoring organisations are clamouring for an increase in motorway speeds to 80mph, the government wants to try out 60mph on sections of the M1 in the name of cutting emissions which have just topped gender issues as flavour of the month, however I predict gender will be back at No.1 again next week.
If, like me you think that we are super arrogant thinking that we can control the planet and cool it down etc., then the next item really takes a huge step for mankind. Nasa are looking for a Planetary Protection Officer to not only protect the Earth, but all the other planets we cannot get to. I do hope he/she/it works out plans in case the 102nd Fleet of the Galactic Evil Imperial Empire turns up one day.


Have you been following the case of the 'Three Musketeer' jihadis, actually there were four of them in the dock, sentenced last week for planning to further the peaceful Islamisation of the country by killing people. Well they decided they would not turn up in court to hear the sentence, when was that an option, what is the point of bringing down the heavy hand of the law when you let the offender lie back on his bunk with two fingers up to the system. They should have been dragged all the way to the dock then dragged all the way back again.

Want to pay £90 for a small carrot with foam on the top, then jump on to the taster menu bandwagon. I tried one of these in what was for a week or more the best restaurant in the UK which is near here. The first dish was based loosely on a kebab, the waiter turned up and with a flurry set down two huge dazzlingly white plates in front of us, in the centre was a small jug of yogurt and pinned on the end of what looked like a stainless steel torture implement was a piece of meat no larger than a malteser. The second 'dish' was a small square of polenta and so it went on. When asked if I would like the cheese board I immediately said yes, I was cut a sliver of Lanarkshire Blue and given a grape and a small organic cracker pounded and cooked in the old barn near the compost heap, to my horror this was not included in the taster, I had been hustled to the tune of £12. You have been warned.

Mmmm, couldn't eat another bite ......

There is a silver lining, the National Trust, you know, that organisation set up to look after the moral fibre of the nation as well as the odd old house, tried to jump on the gay wave this week in the mistaken belief we all are, by ordering its volunteers at Felbrigg Hall, see that, volunteers, to wear rainbow badges while deciding to 'out' the dead owner who kept his sexuality to himself while alive. Real life hit back at last and they have been shamed into reversing their decision, a small step for mankind ............


Friday, 4 August 2017

Saxons II: No Mercy

 I couldn't make the club this week so to get my weekly fix I offered Kevin another game as he had intimated that he wanted to try some different tactics. He used the same army list as previously while I decided to beef up everything I could, so I had two elite Gedriht units and some armoured Duguth warriors, gone were the Picts.

We lined up unit by unit and I noticed that Kevin's right was weak, so I put a Gedriht unit opposite, the rest of the plan was to hold the centre until I was ready to attack while keeping an eye on my right. The Saxons do not have a lot of skirmishers, which I think is historical but it nevertheless is a bind on the wargame table, I had decided to take a bunch of javelin armed lights this time as they are always left behind for bowmen, I wanted to hunt enemy skirmishers with them.

Romano-British on the left, Saxons on the right.

The game started well, I took some missile casualties on my left while dishing out some on my right, I did manage to rout a large unit of bowmen with the javelins but it rallied later and came back for a time before leaving for good. My attack on the British  right went well although I failed to catch the routers which meant in essence that my unit here was out of action for the rest of the battle as it had to keep chasing the none too keen enemy.

The Saxons watch confusion in the British ranks.

Meanwhile Kevin had made a very successful assault on my right, I lost my light cavalry to his mounted Comitatus which then went on to charge in and over my Ceorls, this left one unit of Duguth facing defeat as its flank now looked very dodgy. All was not lost however, just as the British seemed on the cusp of victory I knocked out several more units in the centre and this time caught them, as in the last battle it was up to Kevin's foot Comitatus to hold so that he could polish off my right. Sadly for him the unit had already lost men to missiles and as my killers followed their king downhill they savagely cut down the British Dux's companions, the rout of their leader and his men allowed me to turn my reserves towards my dodgy right. I also managed to get the last initiative and go first, this meant it was all over for the British.

The British centre and right in trouble.

The javelin armed skirmishers had done very well, and they managed to stay alive as they used a small copse of trees to shield them as they advanced. Kevin's points poured into his mounted Comitatus actually worked against the Saxons as they really have no counter for this heavy cavalry and unless lucky enough to get decent infantry into them can only harass them for the duration hoping they fall victim to missiles.

I think our next game will be in two weeks or so with some luck, if Kevin's Greeks are ready then it will be time to march out the Twelfth, looking forward to that.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 12

Settling in to life in the Gulf, it is very hot and we are on 'tropical routine' which means we start at 7am and finish at Noon with only a 15 minute 'stand easy' for a cuppa, we have found an enterprising Arab on the jetty with a little hut who sells bottles of cold pop (goffas, a goffa is a big wave) and little rolls with some kind of meat in them. This guy is straight out of a Carry On film and fits their stereotype of a dodgy Johnny Foreigner down to the ground, he was always around when we walked along the jetty on our way to Jufair offering a lift, no one took him up on it.

Jufair handled our communications so if you were not duty watch the rest of the day was yours from 12, this normally consisted of heading off to the base swimming pool and a lazy afternoon with a few beers. There was only one attractive girl at that swimming pool, the daughter of one of the army blokes, she became the girlfriend of a young cook on the Tartar, I met that very cook ten years later on my first oil platform, small world. We did make the odd trip into the capital Manama and it was just what I expected an Arab town to look like from my experiences of Beau Geste movies, walls, big gates, dusty streets, no pubs, coffee shops and blokes holding hands. As with most stops Manama had its special Naval interest, not a bar this time but little books called AFO's 'Admiralty Fleet Orders' these were small Mills and Boon sized publications which contained sexually explicit stories which would have had no problem getting banned in any civilised country.

Pool at Jufair
 One thing I did enjoy here was a trip into town of an evening for kebabs, we found a little room in a back street with wooden tables and a 'chef' cooking pieces of lamb on a brazier outside skewered on bicycle spokes, this was served with flat bread, spring onions, pieces of lemon and a glass of water, all for a dinar or less, I still long for that taste again.

 There was one hotel which we frequented now and again where you could drink, the Moons Plaza, this was quite a tad fancier than I had been used to, perhaps one of the first 'posh' hotels I ever drank in. It was memorable for me due to several things, an introduction to Canadian Club, I tried Lobster Thermidor and didn't like it, enjoyed the best chicken noodle soup I ever ate and for the first time in my life tried to sneak out without paying the bill. The idea to sneak out was John Hill's, the killick bunting (leading seaman signaller), we made our way out one at a time and took shelter outside behind a nearby wall, grinning and sniggering until two large bouncers came to the hotel front door holding a terrified Plum Humphries by the scruff of the neck with said captive pleading for us to return. Nonchalantly explaining we had popped out for a breath of fresh air we paid up, it didn't stop us going back.

JD, Plum, Me, Lil, Tomo, Lofty at the Moons Plaza.
 Most of our time though was spent at the NAAFI bar in HMS Jufair, the drinks were much cheaper and the measures were doubles, we took to drinking games, which of course were usually ruined by people deliberately getting things wrong to quaff the large concoction sitting in the middle of the table, which was fine by me. One I remember was particularly deadly, you threw a die and the person who got the seventh one, came up with a recipe, the fourteenth one bought it and the twenty-first one drank it. One particular night Dave Richmond had to drink a beverage containing a large number of clear spirits, for the rest of the evening Dave sat in a kind of coma with tears running down his face in complete silence.


Monday, 31 July 2017

Dunkirk

I just about gave up on cinemas years ago due to people, yakking, crisp bags, popcorn tubs, mobile phones and generally no thought for anyone else in the theatre, which was a shame as I still have that childish delight of watching something on the big screen in the dark.

I was quite prepared to wait for Dunkirk but all the bumf talked of the screaming sirens and the overwhelming sound of battle so it had to be the big screen, besides, the missus wanted to see it. So on Sunday afternoon off we toddled, despite my reputation I was really hoping to enjoy the movie.

Once our hero, or one of our heroes, managed to jump over the barricade I thought it all went a bit flat. Christopher Nolan does not like CGI seemingly but the film was crying out for it, not to overwhelm the experience but to bring the devastation of a defeated army to life. There was the odd truck and AA gun around and the whole thing was understated, I have seen busier beaches in Brighton when the sun comes out.


I was also puzzled why the RAF would be flying at 2,000ft across the channel when my memory recalls them fighting further inland and much higher, as you do in a fighter, trying to stop the Luftwaffe getting through. The only bit of the film I have to admit which engaged my interest was when 'Jock' couldn't get the canopy of his downed Spitfire open, I was happy Nolan didn't let him sink. As for the rest of the aerial action, well, have a look at this from The Eternal Zero.

I wasn't going to hold Nolan to ransom over historical accuracy because I know there are limitations and he has a much larger audience than a know it all wargamer to please and he may well have done that, but I am now going to search out the John Mills movie as even now it is presumed superior.

So overall I thought the movie uninteresting and flat, but that's just me, but so did the missus, the defence rests M'lud.

Oh, and the French were mentioned, several times, so they can keep schtum, and it is a British movie after all, and the other nonsense that the Imperial forces were ignored, considering there were, to the best of my knowledge, only two mule teams on the beach from the sub-continent, so what, perhaps they were way over in that last line heading into the sea and the racist reviewer just didn't see them. Dear me.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Spider Misses Again

Last week was a training week, as well as introducing Kevin to the delights of War and Conquest I also took him through a game of Dead Man's Hand on Saturday. I didn't want to drop him straight into a fancy scenario with desperado's running about all over the place so I went with one of the 'Scenes' from the rules.

The first is a play on Clint Eastwood settling a score on behalf of his mule in 'A Fistful of Dollars', so Kevin took the gunhand while I was in charge of three drunken Mexicans, there is no finesse in this shoot out and my Caballeros sought to close and outflank the Gunslinger cowering behind some boxes. One of my boys went down and this angered his compadres and they let loose a fusillade of shots at close range, Clint bit the dust, the look on the mules face was a picture.

Clint gets more than he bargained for.

The second scene was simply a shoot out in the main street between Clint's mates and the Spider's gang. The Lawmen had a couple of men out front of the Sheriff's office while the rest made their way along the back of Main Street. I met them with some of my men but the Spider found himself, as he usually does these days, on the back foot and on the opposite side of the street.
 
The Spider making his move.
The alley of missed opportunities
 Nonetheless I ran my four guys forward to hopefully kill some lawmen before I was overwhelmed, Kevin had the same idea and his Marshall rashly attacked down 'the alley of death' or more accurately 'the alley of wounds'. I let loose several shots including two barrel's of buckshot but although bleeding profusely the Marshall escaped, as did his mates as none of my bullets hit a vital part, even the Spider sprinting across the street failed to stop the Marshall.

Quiet returns to Carefree.

A round of mayhem proceeded and most of my amigos went down, the Spider decided that discretion was the better part of valour and ran. I am becoming disheartened by the Spider and he is going to have to step up to the line if he wants to maintain his hold on the gang.

I nice little game and I think Kevin enjoyed it, a lot of fun as usual and no fuss.

View From The WIndow

Well it's raining again, we have had a couple of days where torrential showers have ruined 'summer', it is cold this morning and if I look to the north it is like looking at Mordor despite a bit of sun poking through now and again in the east. I heard scratching noises the other day in the wall of the Post Office and thought I was going mad, when I went out the back I found the lid of my main drain up and two geezers powerjetting, I pulled them up and they said they had knocked at the door, I have a bell. Next door was flooded and they were trying to unblock the pipe, although it is never our fault whoever is living next door blames us despite that drain not being our sewage drain. It transpired that it was blocked with baby wipes, an uncomfortable lesson for next door.

My internet went down again as after one torrential shower we lost power for about 45 minutes and the sudden shock fried my broadband box. I phoned BT the next morning, and explained my problem, he couldn't find my account, they never can, god knows what software they use, "is that S T E W or S T U A for Stewart" no it's G E O for George, "oh wait, found you, number 111" no it's 99/101. He also said my account number was wrong, well it's the one you bill me on matey, Brains got off the hook when I mentioned I had fibre to the house, "another department I'll transfer you." This lady told me I would have an engineer out first thing in the morning, it took me ten minutes to stop laughing and answer her.

Sure enough my man turned up around nine, took one look at my set up and pronouced it bad workmanship, or womanship as it had been the girl with attitude that had put it in. This lad was brilliant, he moved the broadband box, attached the battery back up which M'lady hadn't bothered with and renewed the horrible black wire with a white one on the outside wall, in actual fact he renewed the whole deal and I was back online by lunchtime. M'lady needs sacked but of course that would be impossible these days being a protected species i.e. female.

Well done that man.

You can bank at the PO and last week in came what can only be described as a dizzy blonde, but not in a Marilyn Monroe way, more like a Phyllis Diller way. She pushed some cheques through the slot, "put them in for me", no, you need an envelope, as I pushed them back. Now these envelopes are like hens teeth and I am only supposed to keep an emergency supply. I didn't know Natwest had closed says she, well they must have kept it a secret from you because the rest of Lancashire knew thought I. I handed over two envelopes, the first came back and wouldn't go into the system, hang on, you have put the cheque details not your account details, envelope number one hit the deck. The second envelope went in but the machine informed me the number was Barclays not Natwest, envelope number two in flames, I was five envelopes down to do two transactions. She bimbled in the other day, pushed an envelope through the slot and it was filled with coins and cheques, see where it says "Cheque Deposit Envelope" says I, no coins, but they told me I could do that, no they didn't. Another two envelopes gone before things were sorted.


My son is going on holiday to the Dominican Republic and has had his holiday booked for quite some time, now with only days to go he has been told that if his family all want to sit together, one a six year old girl, they have to pay £77 extra. Where in the country today would you be expected to leave your child sitting for seven hours in the midst of complete strangers? Not only that if you think about it it must be a deliberate policy to seperate groups in order to get the £77. The other one that gets me is that you have to pay to put your luggage in the hold, how mad is that, that's what the hold is for, then of course with no one putting luggage in the hold the boarding is held up while they look for volunteers to put their luggage in the hold.

Pick a seat, well not any seat obviously.

It seems to be a week about children, there was the five year old girl fined by council Enforcement Officers, catchy title, for selling her lemonade to people on their way to a pop concert I believe, a young entrepeneur crushed by officialdom for at best a few quid, but of course it could have been poisoned and a health hazard to the concert goers, yeah right. Enforcement Officers, Community Police Officers, have a good look at them, would you give them a job?


And now we have children as young as five being expelled from school, read it again and ask yourself why a five year old should be so disruptive that they have to be expelled from a classroom where an adult is in charge. Of course the upcoming documentary will focus on the needs of the little darlings, well I know what they need and it isn't special. I only ever saw one person being disruptive in a class on one occassion in all my years in education, and he stopped dead as soon as wee Joe McCallister entered the room, took his punishment and sat sheepishly down.


When did it fall to the remit of a mayor, even one of our capital city, to mouth off that certain world leaders would not be welcome in his city because he didn't like them. We have opened our doors and given expensive dinners to all sorts of madmen and dictators, even shook hands with killers, but for some reason the President of America, democratically elected, whether you like it or not, is not to be welcomed. Both Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham in Manchester would sell their mothers for votes.

And you can give up on Democracy, with the likes of the unelected Gina Miller sticking her oar into Brexit I now learn that an outfit called ClientEarth, owned by an eco maniac with plenty of cash has set his sights on Europe and holds governments to account over signing daft deals on emissions etc. which of course they think no one will take seriously, but have left them vulnerable in the eyes of the law, should someone have oodles of cash. So basically we have unelected, sanctimonius know it alls forcing government policy, but only if it agrees with their ideology. And this is only the start.

Creationists have rebuilt a replica of Noah's Ark for $100,000,000 and are convinced the plans are correct as they have scoured the bible and texts to find them, now, big as the hulk is, it should be quite plain to anyone looking at it that it cannot hold two of everything on the planet including dinosaurs. Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

And on a happier note, good work by the Egyptian tank crew who, seeing a speeding car coming towards their checkpoint drove over it and crushed it. The car contained three Jihadi's and an ark full of explosives which went up shortly after the tank backed off the wreck. A great many lives were saved by this action.


Friday, 28 July 2017

The Saxons Bounce Back



Instead of shopping on my afternoon off as usual or continuing with a map project I managed yesterday to fit in a War and Conquest game, Kevin had braved the elements and turned up at me Casa to try his hand as he is in the throws of completing several forces suitable for War and Conquest, forces which will enable the Twelfth to earn their denarii in future conflicts.

Yesterday’s battle was Romano-British against Saxons, I took only one elite unit and the rest were average troops, I did add my Pict warband as they had never made it to a game before and it was time they did. Kevin took two Comitatus units one on foot the other mounted with heavy armour, he also paid for some Saxon mercenaries while the rest of his troops were bog standard although one Milites command had light armour. It turned out I had one more battle formation than him but only my elites were armoured so I was outclassed in quality, but I hoped I could make up for this with experience.

I set up first, nothing fancy, I put my cavalry on my far right in skirmish formation as I knew formed up they would not stand against the mounted Comitatus, I put the Picts with them as back up, three units held my centre and two more were on the left. The Romano-British formed up opposite but only had their cavalry on the left, I immediately thought I could shower them with javelins and arrows then send in the Picts, but there was some broken ground to the front of the Picts and this really played on my mind far more than it should have.

The battle opened with the flanks of both armies advancing while the centres glowered at each other. The mounted Comitatus saw the danger of advancing too far and withdrew, this allowed me to throw my cavalry into a charge against some British skirmishers, against the odds Kevin decided to stand and fight and to my chagrin the archers turned into the men of the match. My cavalry could not budge them and in return they were losing men steadily but surely, I did not put the Picts into the fight as I was sure the archers would be fleeing at any moment, meanwhile the Comitatus lined up and came in right at the end and that was it for my horsemen.

Romano-British on the left, Saxons on the right.
No one dares move in the centre.
My left flank had now joined battle with their opponents and while my Ceorls only just held, the young Geoguth ran for the hills only just outdistancing their pursuers as I gave a sigh of relief, we traded charges in the centre and things did not go well for me, both my units were routed. As I looked at the mayhem around me I could only see my Gedriht and the King standing faced by the foot Comitatus and the British Dux, I began to look around for a white flag. But wait! Within a move my Ceorls had dispatched their foes and against the odds the Geoguth had returned and dispersed their tormentors, the left was safe, over on the right the mounted Comitatus had crashed into the Picts but the dour Northerners had held, and then numbers began to tell against the cavalry, my flanks were both now safe.

My cavalry gets a nasty surprise.
My centre about to go.
The tables are turning.
Hold, hold....
 Although two units and some skirmishers had gone in my centre the pendulum of war had swung in my favour, Kevin now asked his elites to cut through mine and salvage some honour, despite them attacking downhill my Gedriht held them off and inflicted horrendous casualties, the British last gasp had failed and the Dux was dragged from the field to fight another day.
 
A good afternoons gaming and a complete turnaround for the Saxons, I really was in a pickle at the midpoint, I had lost my Atheling and a Thegn as well as two central units and the cavalry while all the rest seemed to be on the back foot. What saved me was when Kevin won the combats his pursuit moves were dire so my men were allowed to escape and in the case of the Geoguth come back and haunt him. We are playtesting a cavalry disengage move and this would have been perfect for the Comitatus but my internet went down the night before and I couldn’t get a copy, so maybe next time.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Scots Wha Hae

Last night was the big run out for Hammer of the Scots at the club, its appearance was met by sounds of appreciation as several mentioned an interest, and of course expressed a further interest in my being soundly thrashed being the only Scot in the club.

The Rebellion begins.
 We set up and played the William Wallace campaign, I refuse to call him Braveheart, I of course was Wullie while Simon played Edward I. I had a slight edge in that I knew how important it was to maintain territory in order to get as many Nobles on your side as you could but Simon had picked this up by the end of the night. The Scots 'rebellion' is strongest north of Stirling while the English control most of the land to the south, my initial aim was to clear out all the English supporters from the north and then make inroads south of Stirling. I started well and handily won several battles in 1297 and 1298 and only missed having enough Nobles to induce the French to turn up, after that it all went horribly wrong. As I tried to clear out the few remaining English supporters I suddenly found my troops had run out of enthusiasm e.g. could not kill the enemy, so quickly found myself on the back foot as Edward took over the Lowlands. Around 1303 I managed to make another aggressive push against the English garrisons but once again my efforts were in vain and all I could see to the south was English red. We ran out of time with just a few years to go, although Simon looked the strongest we both had six nobles each so the game ended in a draw.

Winter 1303AD and Wallace has a long way to go.

We started off throwing men into battle, but as we progressed we both started to understand that you had to position yourself for the upcoming Winter, or the end of the turn, otherwise you could lose forces or Nobles would change sides, bringing the enemy back to an area you thought humbled. Quite a bit of thought has to go into winning the game and each player has to look to the future while gaining ground in the here and now.

So how does the game compare with Robert the Bruce, not bad actually, my only real complaint and it is merely a game mechanic is that in RtB apart from your core faction when you try to compel a Noble to join you they will either do so, remain neutral or immediately join the other side, the heirs of dead Nobles may also turn Neutral or defect rather than meekly return to their fathers choice. The movement and combat in HotS is far easier, even if the latter is a tad awkward at first from other games I have played.

Overall both games are good, HotS is simpler and not as much fuss as RtB while still providing a challenging game, the latter however has a more historical feel to it if you know anything at all about the period.

Simon, being a boardgame fan, mentioned that the map and cards had been done on the cheap, and I have to say I did not expect a simple card map when I opened the box, even Robert the Bruce all those years ago had a hardbacked map. I am not too bothered about the cards but then I don't have anything to compare them with and have no idea what to expect quality wise these days. You can buy a board but that will have to wait.

I am painting again, not a new army, but the finishing touches to one, the troops belong to my son who, with moving house, does not have the time to complete the extra figures he has left so I have volunteered myself. They are Carolingian foot and mounted, they are a mixture of Norman, Carolingian, Saxon etc. with some hero types from Footsore, I don't like Normans but these figures are really nice, I am not in a hurry so pics much later.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

View from the Window

No View this morning due to visitors. Normal service will be resumed next week, I have a few chestnuts on the fire.

Have a nice Sunday.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Aetius' Army

Some time ago at one of our wargame weekends I wandered over to a table where Rob Broom was playing against my son's Carolingians with his Patrician Roman army, and very nice it looked too, as he pointed out some of the units I thought the choices were very cool, all Rob's army are nice but this one caught my imagination. Having finished my Early Imperial Legion I began to turn my thoughts to an army of the 5thC, the Late Roman army has become flavour of the month recently, ignored for years in favour of the lorica segmentata wearing, empire extending army, it is now taking its rightful place in the ranks.

The army in the late 4th and 5thC in the West has a very bad press, the idea of it being overwhelmed by constant Barbarian hordes as it is found wanting and the Empire in the West is lost is the default position. The truth of course is different, this army was still very powerful and most barbarians simply could not defeat it in open battle, it was well equipped and for a time still trained to a higher standard than its enemies. It did boost its numbers with allies and the recruitment of newcomers but still had a Roman heart. The most dangerous foe the army faced was itself  as civil wars took their toll of the veterans and the army lost the ability to recruit and retrain men to the same standard, also the loss of revenues from areas populated by even friendly barbarians had an effect on the army.

A number of leading generals (Patricians) took command of the field armies and usually campaigned successfully against the Empires enemies, but this only brought the enmity of ambitious courtiers and most of them paid for this with their lives, assassinated by hangers on and men with no vision.


Before I bought a figure I bought several books on the Late Roman army including a history of the Fall of the West, I also bought two books on the most well known of Patrician generals Stilicho and Aetius and chose Aetius as my man. Aetius lived with the Huns for a time and was known as a friend to them and I wanted Huns in my army.

I got most of my figures from Footsore, many the same ones as in my Romano-British army but these troops would be more uniform, the Huns/Alans I got from the beautiful Aventine range of Steppe Cavalry. I built the army around four Roman Legions (more like a cohort at this time) as a core, many wargamers use the Christian Chi-Ro sign for this period, I decided not to, as far as I can tell it was only daubed on the shields of Constantine's men at Milvian Bridge but as this was in 312AD and the Notitia Dignitatum with hundreds of shield designs came out in 395AD then it's the military shields for my men. In support I brought in a contingent of Goths along with their own chieftain and likewise a couple of units of Huns or similar nomads.


Roman generals of this period began to recruit their own bodyguard or household troops, not that they ever seemed to do them any good when the assassins came calling, these units were known as Bucellari and unlike the later Byzantine Bucellari seem to have operated with their general in the field rather than as seperate commands, so if Aetius is on the field he has to be attached to either Hun or Goth Bucellari, one or the other, not both.

 


I have fought several battles with this army since its completion and it is a joy to play with, I thought putting Aetius with a cavalry unit would be detrimental to my command but it hasn't been so far, the Roman infantry are the backbone and the cavalry and the Goths are very good strike forces to destroy the enemy flanks. At first glance the army seems a little light in skirmish forces but this is made up for by the fact that the Nomads can all take bows and are experts with them, also you have the two bolt shooters which no one can ignore on the War and Conquest battlefield. Looking at the whole army arrayed for battle I am thinking perhaps one more Legion......