Thursday, 29 March 2018

Republic Defeated

An exciting day for both myself and Kevin, at 3,000 points I could get all sorts of Seleucid goodies to see how the army worked, I took a chance and brought an elephant and a scythed chariot, the latter because I have one and what's the point of that if you do not use it now and again. The rest of the army consisted of four phalanxes, one levy which I would use as a reserve/flank guard, then some skirmishers, horse archers, cavalry and my new Mercenary Peltasts which I hoped would do great things. Kevin brought his new Republican Romans with four units of heavy infantry supported by a Gallic warband, some Numidian infantry and cavalry along with a horde of skirmish units.

As we deployed unit by unit I suddenly felt quite vulnerable as I expected to be overwhelmed by the enemy skirmish line, so to this end I kept the chariot and elephant in reserve and deliberately decided to attack the Roman archers while ignoring the javelin armed Velites, if I managed this I could then move up the elephant and chariot with the intention of hitting the enemy right flank. On my right I pushed forward my own javelins and the peltasts hoping that the Numidians would not be able to stand up to the mercenaries, my phalanxes were simply to hold their ground.

My new toys.
Seleucids on the left, Romans on the right.

The game started very well for the Seleucids as they won the initiative (and were to do so for most of the game) and launched a missile barrage which very soon either wiped out the enemy archers or caused them to run for the rear, putting them out of action for most of the game. On my right the mercenaries chased away the archers and cavalry, they would rally but again this gave me a lot of leeway on that flank. Kevin's Velites now approached my line but for some reason could not hit a barn door and got too close to my phalanx, the chariot and a phalanx put paid to the rash wolfskins. Kevin was having no luck at all except bad luck.

The Roman right disappears.
The boys line up for an attack.

I managed to get the elephant to charge the warband in the flank and rout it, this left my cavalry free to roam behind the enemy line keeping the returning skirmishers away from damaging my 'tank'. My mercenaries after clearing out the enemy light troops now charged uphill into the Numidians, an easy fight for them thought I, but no, the Numidians fought like tigers and routed my uninspiring mercenaries. This did not turn into a disaster thankfully as I sent my Levy phalanx to take on the victorious Numidians and it routed them in short order, the flank was safe again.

The Levy secure my right.

Roman routers about to be dispersed.

My phalanxes had begun to slowly move forward by now, and Kevin had moved some of his infantry to guard his right flank, this gave me an opportunity to loose the chariot and the elephant into them as once again I won the initiative. Another Roman unit routed and dispersed. A second Roman block had moved forward and I charged it, it now also had a phalanx on its flank and an elephant to its rear, Kevin decided enough was enough and conceded.

It is all over.

A remarkable battle where the heavy infantry of both sides hardly took part until near the end, I had managed to keep my elephant alive and use the chariot to good effect, this would have been much harder had I not took out or chased away the enemy archers. I am not going to get overconfident about this as both units can easily be countered at other times. I was a bit surprised the Roman infantry held off as long as they did but it worked in my favour. I am not completely at ease with this army yet, the flanks usually look very vulnerable, or at least one of them always seems to be particularly weak, however it worked very well today.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Target Germany!

I don't seem to have enough hours in the day at the moment, no sooner have I finished two large map projects than I get hit with two more, one being 24 maps and I have not really checked out the other but it is a continuation of a history of the Luftwaffe (third volume) and will be round about the 25 mark if it goes the same way as the other two volumes. The colonial game I have been looking forward to will be next week, so this week I took along a boardgame which Kevin kindly gave me as I professed an interest, Duel in the Dark, set during the RAF's bombing offensive on Germany.

I was very impressed by the games production, a hefty box with a lovely fold up board, none of your card rubbish here along with all sorts of playing pieces, typical German product, which seems a bit strange when you consider the subject. Can we now bring up the war?

The British player gets to see the weather over the continent, then has to choose his target and plot a course to and from his choice, once this is done the German player places his night fighter squadrons and defences i.e. searchlights, flak, radar etc. To help him get to his target the British player has a Pathfinder Mosquito which can run interference for the bomber stream along with lighting up the target in order to get more victory points, it can also attack the defences along the path. Each side gains victory points as the game progresses, attacks by the defenders or defences while the British can engage these and of course successfully bomb the target, these are easy, medium and hard depending on how close to the UK they are. Hit Berlin and call Goering 'Meyer' and you get a whopping 33. You can play the bog standard game or add on all sorts of extras which enhance the whole experience, we played bog standard.

Bomber's Moon.

Simon took the British first and set out for a medium target, Leipzig, I had slipped up here and he choose a city which was defended by, wait for it, a searchlight! I also had trouble intercepting his bomber as my squadrons had to land for fuel quite a bit, I did not expect him to go for a medium target so by the time he landed back in Blighty for ham and eggs he had an excellent score of around twenty something. The first game had taken about an hour and a half after set up. Then it was my turn, I choose Frankfurt as I calculated we had about an hour of play left so I wanted to finish on time, but I also thought a quick raid and back for breakfast. The night fighters this time around were much better and we traded victory points on the way to the target, I managed to bomb successfully but lost a lot of the points due to the heavy defences. The game was much closer this time and Simon won with about five victory points.

One thing I have found out with playing boardgames over the last few months is that it takes two or three games to get a grasp of the depth which all these games promise, I suspect you would have to play them until you got fed up to get the best out of them. I don't mean this in a bad way, but a lot of thought and effort goes into these games and you have to put the time in if you want to do them justice. I am just not sure I am that kind of player as I have many other interests and am still a 'wee sojer' fan at the end of the day.

I have now rebased and flocked all my skirmishers, ever wish you had never started something, but the thought had entered my brain and it had to be done. I could not get the Dark Age guys off their bases and was just about to give up when I hit on the idea of soaking their feet in a tray of water. Sure enough after a couple of hours the MDF had softened as had the PVA glue, sorted, job done. Big game tomorrow, Seleucids vs Republican Romans, looking forward to it.



Friday, 23 March 2018

Scratched an Itch

I am in the Doldrums at the moment, I always find coming down from the excitement of a wargame weekend away a bit of a bind as I enjoy them so much, new armies, new people, good games and usually a social evening discussing rules, armies, tactics and battles long gone with like minded folks. Anyway I didn't make it to the club, Rob was going to organise a Colonial bash which I always enjoy but he had to work, so I took the opportunity to get on with a couple of important map projects.

I had a Dark Age game organised for the Sunday last weekend and didn't manage it due to the weather but I really wanted to get my Romano-British onto the table so I asked Kevin if he fancied a Dark Age clash this week. I wanted to test out the army I had chosen for the gaming weekend so Kevin would be the Saxons, he was kind of dropped into it as he had not played the army before and only made his list up when he arrived at my door before we started.

I had a typical army with a couple of elite units, some average troops, a Frankish (yes, them again) warband and a few skirmishers, I had no cavalry. Kevin lined up almost the same, his warband were Picts and he had a small unit of cavalry, I noted his surprise when he saw no horsemen on my side of the battlefield. There were two steep hills in the centre of the table which would disorder Regular troops, I decided to sit a couple of units on the one nearest to me and concentrate on the enemy flanks, if the Saxons went for my centre both of us would be disordered but I would be uphill. The battle was fairly straightforward and I managed to win on both flanks, Kevin was therefore forced to charge off his small hill but I had moved up to the base of it in preparation for this therefore his men fought at a disadvantage as my men, not being on the hill, were not disordered. At this point it became obvious that the Saxons, having lost several units were now at a serious disadvantage, therefore Kevin offered his sword. The Franks, were at first held then pushed back by the Picts and I thought here we go again, but in a titanic effort they turned the tables on the Jocks and sent them packing, a big surprise to me but vindication for my continuing faith in them.

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

I happily sit on the hill.

Volleys of javelins are exchanged with the Saxons getting thew worst of it.

The Saxon right about to collapse.

The Saxon left collapsing.

The isolated Saxon centre.

A decent game if not overly exciting, but then Dark Age clashes between armies very similar in make up do not have the same cut and thrust as Ancient armies with their myriad troops types, but they have their own charm and I have fought many which were desperate struggles for both sides.

I have caught up with my painting and with the arrival of the shield transfers and bases managed to finish my Mercenary Peltasts, I then moved on to my command figures. I decided after much soul searching and online research to go to Wargames Foundry for my King and used one of their Alexander figures, the horse of course has a skin of some kind on it and as I have a tiger with my 2i/c I decided on a leopard (I hope PETA don't find out). I didn't realise there were so many different leopards, so I went with Persian, more a creamy colour than orange, I am just waiting of course for 'that guy' to point out it is not orange enough. I have also primed my second scythed chariot so that is next, all the units left now to get are extras, so no hurry although I am sure I won't slow down.

My wargamers OCD has kicked in again, I have a habit of extending the ranks of my Cohorts but don't have enough single figures in the units to make it easy, I decided after last weekend to do something about it. Yesterday I took all six Legionary and Auxilia cohorts and rebased the rear ranks. I also made my mind up to rebase all my skirmishers in the five armies to 25mm instead of 20mm square bases, I am still at it while I type, the glue is drying on the Patrician skirmishers. I have to live with the Dark Age skirmishers remaining on 20mm bases, I attempted to take one off and it was a nightmare, I am not doing two armies worth and possibly ruin the figures in the process by breaking bows and javelins. I could however get the new, very thin, plywood bases from Warbases and simply sit them on and build them up, mmmmm.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

War and Conquest Weekend Bristol

Sadly it wasn't a weekend, the Gods chose this weekend to dump a mini snow storm right on the area around Bristol, while the Met Office gleefully told people not to travel and gave out Defcon 1 warnings all the way up and down the motorway. Despite this I set off on Friday and travelled in good time to my hotel just north of Bristol, a small flurry of snow yesterday which did not last but when I looked out this morning around 6.30 am the place was covered and the wind howling. Although host Rob offered to put me up if I got stuck later tonight I did not want to get stuck and still have to fight my way through bad weather on the Monday so I took the decision to head home before or in case things got worse during the day. Travel was not great until I got north of Birmingham, when I made a stop for a toilet break, the fifty yards to the services nearly froze me, I do not think I have ever been so cold, fifty yards!

So, I got to the venue in Iron Acton first thing Saturday morning to be met by Rob and mate Matt who I would be fighting in the afternoon, I said hello to some of the other players and slightly late my opponent turned up, a nice bloke called Nigel, of course he was. Nigel was a full time wargamer but a newcomer to WAC having only fought one game, he also had Early Imperial Romans, Nigel deployed his army which was almost completely made up of heavy infantry, he also had a small skirmish unit and some cavalry. The Thunderbolts, having experience, fielded three cohorts of Recruits which I prefer to call not veterans as it sounds better, because these lads are no less tough than other legionaries and one veteran cohort, supporting these I had an Auxiliary cohort, archers, slingers, Lanciarii, horse archers and a bolt shooter. The latter was there because at some point over the weekend I was supposed to fight a Successor army.

Nigel's men on the left, Thunderbolts on the right.

My plan was to hit Nigel's flanks then weaken his cohorts with missile fire before they hit my waiting line. Everything went to plan at first, Nigel quite rightly threw his men forward while I wiped out his cavalry then began to whittle away at his right flank cohorts, which, although having an elite unit in reserve, were small sixteen man units. The bolt shooter crew were particularly effective in this game never missing a target. I saw an opportunity and threw my Praetorians (the veterans) into Nigel's left most cohort and readied the Lanciarii to hit them in the flank, to my amazement the Praetorians dealt out no casualties and fled only to be pursued and chased from the field. Meanwhile Nigels line hit mine, but a combination of tough defending and numbers stopped his men in their tracks and then turned the tables on him, soon all but one of his units were fleeing. Cohort I had held magnificently despite being beaten nearly every turn and held long enough for the Lanciarii to come to their aid, Auxilia II routed one unit then beat Nigel's elites. It was a victory for the Twelfth, a good start and a good game played well by Nigel despite his inexperience. I had achieved my objective and the scores were 36/9.

Next up was the match I had been waiting just over three years for, which was the last time I met Matt at a WAC do. Matt had borrowed a mate's Celtic army as I don't think his own Legion is quite ready yet. This game was deploy by formation type, and as Matt's whole army was skirmish or light he basically had to deploy first, four massive warbands appeared supported by a horde of skirmishers, including chariots and cavalry, Matt loaded his left with the horse, and wheels. I put the Lanciarii on my left hoping to kill his slingers and threaten his flank, the rest of my missile troops and the Auxiliaries I put on the right, hoping to wipe out his chariots and cavalry but I still wasn't happy with this flank as the battle started.

Savages on the left, Romans on the right.

To fight large warbands I need to thin out my cohorts and I managed this with three of them before being hit by a tribal tidal wave. Before that however I foolishly lost my Lanciarii by advancing them too far, they did however rally and return but stayed behind the legionaries, I also lost my slingers to an aggressive charge by the chariots, not only that but my horse archers had fled to the rear as well, things had not started well, it was my flanks which were now in danger. Due to no skirmish cover I had to put my cohorts into Testudo as missiles rained down on them, this slowed my advance but I needn't have worried as Matt's plan was to run over the top of my men at speed. As the game progressed I got my horse archers back and my own archers and the bolt shooter wiped out one of the cavalry units, I held the Auxiliaries back a tad in case I needed them to turn and take on the chariots in my rear.

Now in came the warbands, they had everything going for them in the first clash, superior combat factors and numbers, Centurions up and down the line shouted in unison "shields up, wait for it, throw!" As the turn ended every cohort still stood in line, some had been dealt large numbers of casualties but had managed to still stand firm helped by the Consul and his officers (a desperate use of initiative points). A huge melee now began, sometimes one side or the other would be on top or more often the legionaries made incredible saving and morale throws, Cohors I and II were especially hard pressed.

As the fighting ebbed and flowed Matt threw his Noble cavalry forward against the Auxiliaries, hoping to at last punch a hole in the Roman line, Auxilia II took their time but eventually sent the cavalry fleeing to the rear, then Cohors III defeated their opponents, the pendulum was swinging Rome's way. The Praetorians also defeated their opposite numbers and turned to help Cohors I, as they hit the warband both it and Cohors I routed, no shame to the First who had held back the Celts in a titanic struggle. The Celtic chief and his warband now managed to rout Cohors II and captured them and the Consul, however their joy did not last as the Third turned and hit them from the rear, freeing the Consul and capturing the Chieftain. It was all over, a superb game and a memorable one to be talked about at tables groaning with ale for some time to come. Oh and it ended 32/11 (I miscounted Rob, lol).

So there you have it, a long way for two games but well worth it despite what the missus says about money wasted, not your cash dear and who can control the weather? The Twelfth had turned up with a reputation and ended the day with it untarnished, despite being mocked with good humour by some, in the last battle all but one Centurion had fell in the fighting, testimony to the slaughter.

A big thanks to my opponents, gentlemen both, my apologies to those I had to let down today, great to meet up with Trevor, Steve, Matt, Nigel and Mick (a Thunderbolts fan would you believe) and of course Rob.

Thursday, 15 March 2018


Mate Simon has fixed my broken PC and put the blame on the last people to touch it, that was the original firm, but as with putting my car into a service I have no idea what happens to it, but it has cost me dear and I have probably spent a lot of money for no need.

Anyway we turned up at the club as Andy was putting on a WWII Battlegroup game, as things happened I, along with Ian, was German while Simon and Rob were British and American. The scenario had been taken from some other WWII rules, basically we had to attack along a narrow frontage to take the Sorn bridge while it was being held by some dug in American paratroops, British armour was on the way, Market Garden, or a part of it.  We had a half decent little Kampfgruppe with three Panthers and some Grenadiers, but the paras were elite and in cover, as soon as I saw it I knew this was going to be hard or even impossible, just like the real thing.

In Battlegroup you roll a number of dice which, added to how many officers you have, gives you the number of chits you can use to order your force about, not a favourite mechanic of mine as you will know by now. Sure enough due to low die rolls we never had enough chits to bring in all our forces or coordinate a proper attack while the other side were throwing their surplus in the bin. We took a lot of suppressing fire which made things worse, especially from a small 50mm mortar firing over open sights, we had 80mm mortars but required a spotter who for some reason had to stay with the HQ rather than creep forward for some juicy targets. As we found out it took three chits to fire the mortars and the way things were going that was half our funds, and even when we did get it in it was rather underwhelming.

Rob and Simon contemplate my Panther making about five saving rolls.
A bridge too far.
We did manage to kick the paras on our side of the river out of their foxholes but as the British armour had now turned up our tanks could no longer support the infantry, many of mine were still languishing at the start point. We took a Cromwell out but were never going to get to the bridge, as time was called it was an Allied victory. Not a bad set of rules for a quick game and it may be realistic with troops having a hard time going forward but it is frustrating, you get suppressed but then cannot unsuppress until the end of the move, which normally means the unit gets suppressed again! I think the scenario was small scale and the rules are for much larger forces. Perhaps Bolt Action or some such would have been better. Elsewhere we had some RPG set in 17C France and a Kings of War game, not my cuppa but some beautiful brushwork by Ryan on the figures.

As I said in my last post I have been trying to clear the decks over the past week, I have lots of map work on and have had to give extra hours to the Battle of Dresden project (30+ maps) then get ready for sixteen maps for a WWI book next week, I have managed this, just, so I should possibly not have organised a game with Kevin today, but I did. I managed to check the army list five minutes before Kevin rang the doorbell.

We were doing a Greek City States match up, I went for cheap Citizen Hoplites for numbers with only one elite unit, support was two cavalry units, skirmishers and a Hill Tribes warband. Kevin had Trained Hoplites and one elite and the same kind of support. Kevin had to deploy first, so as I looked at the battlefield I thought I would advance my left, hold back the right and advance aggressively with the centre, my idea being not to go into phalanx but race for the hills, thinking that being on the hill would counterbalance Kevin's units in phalanx, mmmm.

Me on the left, Kevin on the right.

I managed to sweep away his right but then kind of lost the plot as I left my elite unit and the heavy cavalry without moving them for a full move, the battle on the hills was that intense, this was not my only cock up. I got to the hills and was hoping to form phalanx on them and stand like a stone wall, but no, Kevin got a charge in first and it was here my second stupid mistake happened, I forgot my men had 'extra armour' so I fought that round without it, aaaargh! I didn't win one melee, having said I mucked up Kevin caused so many casualties on me I doubt it would have helped, only in one fight might it have mattered, and only might.

Looking good, but only for a short while.
My centre disappears while my left watches.
My warband gives me something to smile about.
 As my boys on the hills were beaten I did manage at last to galvanise my elites who took out a small Peltast unit which had steadfastly refused to simply die the first time I hit them, rallied off table and came back, my warband had the honour of defeating their larger opponents but it was all over as the last unit on the hill broke and dispersed. Yes, I could and maybe should have gone into phalanx before taking the hills but that wasn't the plan and if we had had two hoplite lines clashing I think we might have got a result by next Thursday. Kudos to Kevin for a good win and I hope I sharpen up for this weekend, I am taking the Twelfth to fight Successors, EIR and Celts while my Romano-British will be up against Anglo-Saxons, I haven't fought early Romans before so that will be an interesting match up, also the objective system will be used, not simply a stand up battle which of course is what I like. I might sneak in one more map tonight, despite the pressure I am enjoying drawing these, then I better give some thought to the army lists for the weekend.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Under Pressure

Doing a bit of catch up over the past week I should be finished several units by now and looking at getting a few more extra's for the Seleucids but I slipped up on a couple of fronts. I got some unarmoured peltasts from Crusader but they arrived without their shields, I therefore decided to arm them in the main with round shields as I had quite a few lying about, but it dawned on me as they neared completion that I didn't have any transfers, so I popped a quick email off to Little Big Man Studios, I also decided as I had the figures that this unit would be 18 men rising to 20 rather than 16, so I had to order some new movement trays from Warbases. LBMS went on holiday and Warbases was a tad slow which is unusual for them, I am now at the stage where the trays have been posted but not arrived, getting a bad feeling about this package, and LBMS is back from holiday and the transfers are in the post. There was a package waiting at the Sorting Office today but it was not the trays but peltast shields from Crusader, in a rather big box which wouldn't fit through my letter box, eight shields! So I sit at a standstill at the moment.

Wait, wait................

I also forgot about last week at the club, Simon put on a Dystopian Wars naval battle, Germany vs Great Britain, I was the Germans. We ended up with only two players and Simon as umpire, Simon had expected more so the game was a bit large for two players, I had played before but I think Andy was brand new so to be honest not a lot happened. There was a ship in the centre of the table which had to be captured and I managed to do this as time was called, despite this we did have some interesting little actions between our air forces including bombers, some launched from two beautiful model air ships and a bit of surface combat between the ships, I think I lost more small ships than Andy. Elsewhere we had Shadespire and underground Frostgrave so a fantasy and futuristic night.

Battlegroup at the club tomorrow somewhere in Normandy I believe, so that should be lively. No boardgaming today as I only arrived back from London at lunchtime and then had to have blood taken, I also have to get a move on with maps as several projects seem to be building up on me at the moment, Helion are republishing George Nafziger's book on the Battle of Dresden and I have about 34 maps to draw for this. I am also turning into the travelling wargamer again on Friday as I head to Bristol for a weekend of War and Conquest organised by author Rob Broom, I have army lists to get ready at some point in the next couple of days. We are also planning a Hoplite vs Hoplite bash on Thursday afternoon as well, where does the time go?