Thursday, 30 April 2020

Metgethen Falls!

Having been stymied twice in Metgethen the 13th Panzergrenadier Regiment having suffered horrendous losses asked and got extra supports for a third try at their objective as it was vital this town was taken.

As it had become obvious that one of the problems of taking the town was the perfectly placed Mayors house and the others which lent excellent cover to the defenders I offered Matt some mobile artillery which was not on the list for the campaign. However given that time was of the essence and the town had held out twice now I decided that every effort would be made to ensure its fall this time, and that included self propelled guns. This time Matt had the remnants of his original platoon, two infantry squads, a pre-game barrage, a Stummel and a PzIIIN, although there was the panzerschreck I thought this was a bit light on anti-tank considering the hard fighting T34/85 was still in the town. The Russians stuck with their two squads from the original platoon backed up by an MMG, a sniper and a Zis2 anti-tank gun and of course the T34.

This time I took more care of the German attack as far as I could with the command dice, I decided to make an assault down the right flank with the armour and infantry in support, another squad and again the panzerschreck would take the left. The Russians had a problem deploying due to the barrage and this allowed the Jerries to get a long way down the right flank with the Stummel and two squads, the PzIII got on but held back due to the presence of the Zis, also the command dice were needed to push forward the spearhead. The Russians eventually managed to end the turn and get the T34 on but it was not soon enough to help the MMG team in the large barn, this was overwhelmed and routed. The Stummel tried a shot at the T34 and although hitting it only incapacitated it for a short time, the halftrack then hid behind the barn, the infantry now bravely moved up and took panzerfaust shots at the tank, these either missed or again only temporarily held up the tank, it was time for the infantry to seek shelter.

What had looked for a second like an overwhelming German victory had been turned around by the late arrival of the T34 and with no anti-tank weapons left or arriving it looked like the T34 only had to mop up the opposition. On the German left however the remaining infantry had now got to close range of the Blue House and the firepower began to take it's toll on the men inside, their Junior Leader was killed and the survivors fled the building. The Stummel, having tried to hide from the T34 was now in the sights of the Zis and although not destroyed it was hit and effectively put out of action as most of its crew were dead, the PzIII could now receive command dice and started to bombard the Mayors house and the men in there began to take casualties. With their morale at rock bottom the Reds abandoned the town.

So, the fourth game has ended, three tables and five games to go, can the Germans breakout, who knows. I got a bit deeper into the game this time and used tactical movement and understood a few more rules. I now think that a morale of 15 is a bit too much so have settled on an increase of only one for now to give 12 as the starting number for Force Morale, this works well. I am also increasingly thinking of adding a sixth command dice when the support points are more than a dozen, there are rules I believe which allow the use of a sixth die and will look these up when I get a chance.

I have finished my industrial units, I had decided to be superfast with these and went for spray paint, the pit head I did in green, then splashes of black with some rust rubbed in overall, with the buildings I sprayed all windows black, then used masking tape to protect them while using Necron Bone or some such. A bit of weathering and a few bits and pieces chucked on the roofs, there is always a wheel/tyre on these roofs, god knows why, I must find a small football, and voila. Being chuffed with myself didn't last long as I realised I had glued down all but one of the roofs, duh. The buildings were all from Sarissa and where very easy to build, easier if I had not tore ahead and actually read the instructions, but hey, the buildings for the most part are one level and troops if need be can be placed on the roofs. The doors and windows are very flimsy and the doors especially seem to want to break off, I wanted them to remain closed, maybe I will put them ajar at some point but for now they are closed. I have been asked where the pit head came from and you can get it here.

I decided against adding to my ancients for now and took the plunge to add another couple of brigades to my SYW forces, four battalions each. I wanted to go with Highlanders for the British only to find that the Perry's have closed down for at least another week and having no patience I went for Front Rank and got two French battalions. I also went to GMB Flags and got the flags for the Highland 87th and 88th Foot for when I do get them and Rooth and De Clare's Irish regiments in French service.

This means that when I finish my last eight Russians tonight, I will have something to continue, at the moment I dug out a single tank commander to paint but now I have reached the bottom of the barrel. If there is a delay from Front Rank which is not usually the case then I will turn back to some of my buildings and renovate them.

I have set up game five, table four for the weekend, the Germans have to capture the Signal Box at Seerappen, a big ask in Chain of Command getting over all that empty terrain, still all to play for for both sides.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Tough Nut

Generalmajor Rolf Lippert is under pressure to take Gardenstadt Metgethen as quickly as possible, his troops of Panzergrenadier Regiment 13 have been rebuffed once and time is of the essence.

Matt has chosen more armour this time for his attack along with buffing up his infantry contingent, his remaining grenadiers have been supplemented by two infantry squads supported by a StuG III, a Jagdpanzer IV and another pre-game barrage. The Russians still have their T34/85, three infantry squads and an MMG.

This time around the barrage is ineffective and before long the Russians have their defence line settled and the T34 sitting waiting, the German commander has decided to get his armour into the town first then back his tanks up with infantry. The wily Soviets have spent the night laying mines at the opposite end of town thus denying the road to the panzers. Both German tanks arrive fairly quickly and both take shots at the T34 which replies in kind, none of the vehicles suffer from these exchanges, the StuG eventually moves into the woods while the Jagdpanzer doggedly tries to wound the T34. The German commander is becoming frustrated and starts to deploy his infantry and move slowly along both flanks.

The tank duel ends with the Jagdpanzer blowing up, this dismays the Germans but they push forward nonetheless taking advantage of as much cover as they can. The panzerschreck team are also slowly working themselves forward hoping to get a shot off as the Russians concentrate on the approaching infantry. On the German left a squad manages to get close to the Blue House, a flurry of grenades hit the house as the infantry close for hand to hand combat. A desperate fight ensues with the Germans gaining the upper hand but the obstinate Russians fight back and turn the tide, sending the Nazi's running, the reserve platoon turns up and turns the withdrawal into a rout.

On the right flank the Germans now begin to turn the tide, the StuG and a nearby squad cause the Russians to abandon the large barn and they quickly break them, the T34 moves to fire at the StuG but is hit by a panzerfaust and is forced to withdraw. The StuG commander see's an opportunity and moves cautiously forward but the assault gun is hit and the commander wounded, nonetheless it gets off a shot and again causes the T34 to back off. It looks like the Russian left is about to fold and the Soviets begin to send their reserve over from the right flank. The T34 recovers and again looses a shot at the StuG, this time the assault gun explodes. In desperation the Panzerschreck team bolts across the road to get into a firing position but the waiting Russians in the Mayors house open up and wipe out the unlucky lads. With only two panzerfausts left just behind the front line the German commander reluctantly orders a withdrawal. Lippert's superiors are not pleased while the Russians rally more troops to blunt the offensive.

If anyone has this campaign and is wondering about the support points, I am using the points given in the second version and adding a couple, I made a conscious effort to get all the support options for this campaign and using the points values from the original campaign you would never get to use them. Also if troops are held up I am giving them more for the second or third try, the Germans however may have to scrape the barrel the more they are held up, Volksturm, Hitler Youth etc.

I managed to finish my Seven Year War generals and commanders, the two larger command stands have horse drummers kindly sent to me free gratis by David at Tales from GHQ which were just perfect to differentiate them from brigade commanders. I now need more troops so that they can earn their pay. Friend Rob gave me a nice Perry highlander as a little gift for my birthday some time ago and he fits in well with Front Rank, so I am toying with getting enough for a couple of battalions. You really need the kilty cauld bums for a British army.

I see Blogger has managed to cock up quite a few posts and a lot of photographs have disappeared which has a detrimental effect on the posts, I do hope this has now been sorted.

Having kept away from sport all my life, apart from the old England vs Scotland football games, I am now addicted to Netflix's Drive to Survive about Formula 1 racing of all things, so much so I have ordered a biography of Bernie Ecclestone! Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooow.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Garden Leave

Game four and Table 3 of the breakout. The Russians are still a tad shocked that the Germans have launched an attack and are still trying to marshal their forces, they are still somewhat outnumbered locally while German strength is continuing to build.

In this game Matt had two squads from his original platoon and supplemented them with a pre-game barrage, two infantry squads and a Panther, I had an idea a big cat was about to turn up. The Russians are also down to two squads but with nothing like the support points of the attackers so they ended up with two MMG's, panzerfausts for each squad and a 'free' T34/85. Once past this table the Russians can play a wild card and counter-attack, so they can look forward to upsetting the blitzkrieg.

Matt's plan was very specific this time, the Panther with the two infantry squads each side would advance up the road and through the town, the other two squads would make their way up the flanks through the woods, the panzerschreck team would be used to hopefully ambush the T34. My plan was to hold the flanks with the MMG's and support them with the two squads and the T34. The Germans got off to a good start and had no trouble getting their infantry out, the Panther however had a very cautious crew and even on the road it made slow progress. The Russians however struggled to get their plan in to action as the barrage played hell with their deployment, only one MMG arrived early and it headed for the large building on the right flank to take up a defensive position. This was where I had to step in, the Germans had an advanced Jump Off Point near the house and I thought as the MMG team were in the open and only the T34 was in the area it was time to be aggressive with the Jerries, I brought a squad on and sure enough it opened up on the MMG and wiped out the crew, with this success I thought I could also bring on the panzerschreck sheltered by the squad in front and the house, wrong.

The Russians at last got a squad on and they took up a position in the large mayor's house and targeted the panzerschreck team, this team was also wiped out, the T34 moved up to try and stop the Germans taking the house on the right while keeping out of sight of the slow Panther. Shock began to build on the Germans as they sat in the open, this did not prevent them from taking two shots with their panzerfausts at the T34, both missed.

The Russian defence was just holding and the barrage was making it difficult to get more men into town as time after time they failed to turn up. Although they had lost a team and a squad had routed the Germans continued to push forward, the infantry were getting close to their objectives and the Panther at last moved far enough to get a quick shot off at the T34, it was a difficult shot as the gunner could not see very much of the T34 as most of it was behind a house but there was a slim chance, bang, the Russian tank was unharmed. The crises approached.

The Soviets now had two Chain of Command dice, they decided to end the turn and get rid of the debilitating barrage, in a double phase the Russian reserves all turned up and on the left flank the advancing Germans were caught in the open, the end of the turn had also removed their tactical stance, so no cover. The T34 backed off enough to get a shot and the Panther received a deadly shot and ground to a halt flames licking from the hatches. The Russian infantry were now getting the upper hand just as it seemed they would have to withdraw, perhaps a lucky panzerfaust shot would take out the T34 but it had no need to close the range and its machine guns swept the town square. The Panzergrenadiers called off their attack, but they will be back.

Even though the Germans had lost their Panzerschreck team and a squad had routed they still had plenty of men to rush the town centre as the Soviets were having a hard time to get any reserves into the battle, even with the loss of the Panther the infantry might just have pulled a victory out of the bag. But the arrival of the Russian reserves put a halt to any hope, I think one more advance might have done it, the game was that close. You know I have been toying with rules tweaks, and one which doesn't allow a unit to shoot again in a double or triple phase I like, it stops some poor sods being mown down, I have also been dropping a die each time a double or triple phase comes up, and of course I am allowing people to run without a penalty if pinned, these all work well. So, the Garden town will see more death and destruction next week, Jerry still has some leeway to win the campaign but the Russian resistance is strengthening.

After my big adventure at the beginning of the week I mentioned that Duncan had loaned me a book when we got talking about panzergrenadier tactics, I was surprised when it turned out to be a photographic album about an attack on a Polish town in 1944 by an armoured Kampgruppe from the SS-Wiking division, concentrating on one of the armoured companies. In my wargames I have always wanted to make an attack by panzergrenadiers in halftracks, the problem is that whatever the points system you can't afford to put your squads in halftracks because they are expensive and tend to be useless on a wargames table, so you do not generally see them. This is despite official manuals from mid war onwards which recommend fighting from the halftrack, not out of it, reiterated again late war. I did mention this on one forum and got a fairly daft reply in that how do you rule this in the game, halted shoot normally, moving shoot as moving, with hard cover, no? Anyway, here we have a record of an attack in which no one leaves their vehicles except to confer with commanders of other squads/tanks. What also comes across is that the unit is an all arms machine, the grenadiers are backed up by mortar carriers and Stummel's (half track with a howitzer) and tanks of course, but also in the area was a nice little PzIII forward observers tank to call in the big guns, it has a false gun and many more radio masts. I also thought one of the halftracks had been hit or broken down as the engine covers were open, but this was to let air into the engine compartment during the heat of the summer, one for the modellers if you can find a 1/56 engine to put in. I was looking to buy the book but it starts at around £600, even the Legendary Map Fortune could not take that hit. Oh and the lack of uniformity is striking, blouses, shirts, smocks, and a range of camouflage patterns, this is going to bug me as I look at my panzergrenadiers.

I also received my belated Christmas present from my son, "Bloody Streets: The Battle for Berlin", the publication had been delayed but it was worth the wait, it also proved to be a weighty tome with a separate map book. I really enjoyed drawing these maps which were in colour and annotating actual aerial maps of the city showing troop movements during the last days, the author was also easy to work with.

I have finished my generals and they will be based over the weekend, I have now started on my Soviet SMG gunners and semi-automatic riflemen, I am also starting to get my industrial buildings ready to be worked on, I am cheating here and using spray paint, I don't have infinite patience. I suspect this work will all be done by the end of next week so what next, well I fancy giving Legio XII another cohort or the Seleucids a Galatian warband, however until Warbases opens up again I might have to wait for the latter, I might jump for a couple of SYW battalions instead, decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Schools Out.

Not as exciting as my red letter day yesterday but wargaming stops for no man.

After an initial setback the German breakout from Konigsberg is gaining traction, the village of Moditten is in German hands and the spearheads are pushing forward, the last Soviet resistance in the area is dug in around a Girls School just a few kilometers further on.

This time the Germans have brought some heavy weapons in the form of a Panzer IV and a PaK40 anti-tank gun knowing that they expect now to run into Russian armour. The Russian defenders are down to two squads but the school is easily defended and is ringed with entrenchments, support is provided by a T34/76, the defenders wish to sell themselves dearly and inflict heavy damage on the attackers.

The Boche are attacking from two flanks and the plan is to build a fire base around the old pump house and once the defenders have been softened up the tank will help with the assault, the Soviets merely want to hold out as long as they can. The trenches are manned and the T34 slinks at the back of the school facing the pump house area. The Germans quickly deploy an MG42 and the PaK 40, the latter cannot get a line of sight on the T34 but can lay down fire on the defenders facing it.

Once again the Russian fire is deadly and the MG42 takes massive casualties and the survivors run for it, the PaK is ineffectual in pinning the defenders, and with the MMG out of the way the Russians now concentrate on the anti-tank gun. To better prepare for the assault the Germans now bring the tank on to open up a secondary front, this again is taking a long time to damage the enemy squad in front of it. The German commander is loathe to bring infantry to the fight as the T34 is patiently sitting waiting for just such an intervention, along with an MMG in the main school building and the very dangerous heavy squad in the trenches.

The PaK40 now starts to suffer from concentrated fire and its crew break for the rear. Panzergrenadier now move up to take on the Russians from the pump house, a panzerschreck team curse and wait for the T34 to move or come off overwatch so that they can advance and get a shot off as it would be suicide to just move up. The German commander throws in a Command Dice and as lady luck eventually smiles at the Teutons the Russian heavy squad are cut to pieces and forced to retire. The Russians are now left with one squad and the T34 to defend the school, the platoon commander decides to withdraw before the full weight of the German grenadiers is thrown at him.

Despite having almost wiped out the German supports the main platoon lost only one man so although again the Russian defence proved tenacious it did not impact the Germans in the way it has done in the last two battles. The Russians again right at the end wound up with fairly heavy casualties, the T34 proved fairly useless but did at least put the fear of god into the German commander for a long time. How did the game go, well the Russian shooting was again pretty spectacular and took out the MMG and the PaK both of which were behind entrenchments, the German command roles again let them down with many phases being just useless to them, again they were forced to bring on their Senior Leader to help with command.

The Germans have nine games to reach their objective at Powayen (Table Six), game four is next on Table Three, they have to take the town of Gardenstadt Metgethen. The Russians are on the back foot for the next game as the Germans bring more forces to bear as their attack gains momentum, after this game I suspect the Soviets will need replacements, they also have a wild card to play after Table Three which they can use to mount a counter-attack.


Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Lucky Day.

Because I close in the afternoons I am in the habit of leaving my solo game table in place as I am not in a great hurry to finish the games and make them last a few days so that I do not have to run out of things to do, interesting things unlike what the missus would like me to do.

Imagine my surprise when a guy looked at the table and then came over and identified the tank lying there as a T34/76 and then told me he used to own one! So we got talking about the T34 and he was telling me it was a swine to drive and very uncomfortable, but a Panzer IV was well designed and very comfortable. We then discussed all sorts while he took in my WWII collection of vehicles and then told me he still has a PAK40, a 251/1 an Opel Blitz and several other bits and pieces, it also transpired he lives only a short distance from me, a 20 minute walk or five minutes in the car, and that I should visit sometime.

I finished a couple of officers for my SYW force and then thought, I have to go and see this stuff, I got in the car and off I went, I pulled up in the drive and saw a couple of guys at work, one on an old Mini and the other on what looked like a VW type van, the third guy noticed me, welcomed me and told me his name. He introduced me to one of the guys working and I knew the other, who was surprised to see me.

Duncan then proceeded to show me around, the first thing I noticed was two very tidy Kubelwagen's, inside one was a replica panzerschrek, next was a Zundap motorcycle under restoration, next to that was an Opel Blitz. Duncan's vehicles get used in movies, the most recent being 'Fury' and he knows his Opel should be yellow but movie people always want it in grey with large crosses on the doors, this annoys him and he got fed up painting them out, so he now supplies magnetic crosses for the doors.

Next was one of the vehicles I really wanted to see, the 251/1, this is mainly a replica but that didn't matter, I got to board and he told me its story, the seats by the way have two settings, travel and combat, bet you didn't know that, I didn't. The machine gun positions were empty but he has replica MG42's and 34's in the house. Next to the halftrack was a Sabre tank, and a small Ford truck of some kind.

Outside in his yard are more vehicles, an M8 Greyhound in full working order, some Russian Cold War vehicles, one which had been captured and upgraded by the Israeli army. More Cold War stuff lay around, two Zis AA guns, a twin and a quadruple mount, a real FlaK 38 carriage and a Russian replica. And then the PAK 40, under wraps but you could not mistake it, simply wonderful, this has mostly authentic parts. Duncan said I could spend more time looking about and that I could take the wraps of some of the vehicles but I did not want to overstay my welcome, things finished when he lent me a book which he says I would enjoy as it was a memoir of a Kampfgruppe on the Eastern Front. A gentleman.

What a day.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Schnell, Schnell! And Blogger.

Blogger has been having some problems recently and it seems to be very intermittent, so quite a few of my images have disappeared, I checked, they know about it and are working on it, so apologies if you miss the pictures. They may come back or they may not but I hope going forward things are OK.

Managed to get my second Konigsberg game done and dusted, there are nine games in the campaign and the Jerries got off to a bad start attacking the village of Moditten and hit a brick wall. There is no doubt that the Russian fire was considerably better than the Germans and the end came when the panzergrenadiers lost all their NCO's and their command disintegrated., not only that they took fairly heavy casualties as well. They withdrew with Hurrahs ringing in their ears.

For the second attempt Matt chose an infantry gun along with an MMG and an infantry squad to support his depleted forces, these he made into two normal squads with a third having only one team with an LMG. To make matters worse for him his new NCO's had yet to prove themselves so once again the German command structure would suffer. I as the Russians had taken my losses across the board so my platoons were slightly under strength, this time I brought a T34/76 as back up and again I took the Commissar. I didn't need entrenchments as they would still be there from the first game, its not as if they suddenly got filled in overnight.

I got the sniper and the heavy squad on first along with the Senior Leader, the squad managed to get to the entrenchments and the sniper hid in a nearby loft, I took the ladies this time. The Germans took the opportunity to get one squad on and both their supports, after this their command rolls were dire and they had to work with these three groups for some time, I on the other hand was happy to leave things as they were. The Russian shooting was again fierce while the entrenchments protected the heavy squad even from the field gun, the MMG was fired on by the sniper but they eventually located her and she died for the Motherland.

The Germans now decided to rush the defending Russians and managed to get two more squads on the table, they also managed to get their first double phase, Ivan had had several, so on they pushed with grenades ready. The second command throw was just useless, the supports fired but the infantry were left out in the open unable to close, more grenadiers hit the dirt, up on the road the T34 had arrived and its machine guns were causing havoc. The German platoon leader was dithering.

Then it all changed, a withering hail of fire hit the defenders while the newly arrived panzerschreck team took out the T34, the surviving Russians fled the entrenchments, with no one else in the village and the Germans closing in the Soviets withdrew.

This game covered about 40+ phases (turns we normally call them) German command dice favoured the higher numbers while the numbers required for the squads and supports were like hens teeth until the end. The Russians did fine as they only had one squad basically to use their dice on, and they got at least three double phases, that means three extra shots, there are some players who do not allow a second or third shot which seems like a good idea to me, if you are in the open and the enemy get two or three shots at you it is goodnight Vienna. I also allow pinned troops to retire and not suffer the movement penalty from shock, this also is a good idea.

I am unsure about Force Morale, I use cards with up to fifteen on them, the normal is eleven, I have found depending what happens in the game that eleven can be too short, but I have also found fifteen to be too many. I think the former is fine for small games while the latter would work with a large game and with plenty of time to play. The reason I tried the larger number if you remember is that we had a disastrous game a few months ago that basically lasted half an hour before my morale cracked. I shall continue to see how these two numbers play out.

I have set up game three for today and should fit in a couple of hours in between a family quiz, some painting, answering emails and wondering if I should rework that ruined Normandy house I have, I have never liked it.

Friday, 17 April 2020

More stuff!

I don't know about you but it seems that this lockdown is giving me an upsurge in my wargaming and all things related.

First up was my buying of a whole industrial complex in 28mm, I mentioned before a local gave me a very impressive model of a mine head, the thing with the big wheels on it. I really don't need it but with having to stay in I jumped at a bundle from Sarissa to give me a whole park, I have built them all but the painting has been put to the side for now although I did get started on the mine head.

Friend Stuart from the club has a 3D printer and turns out some nice pieces of all kinds, gaming aids, buildings and such all of his own design. With the upcoming Victory at Sea from Warlord he has turned his talents to WWII ships. He sent me a model of the Graf Spee to build and give my thoughts on it, the model looks a bit strange at first as it is still on a trellis from the printing and you have to be very careful to cut it off as many parts are very delicate. Even so I managed it all apart from a part of the mast on the funnel and I think that was my fault as I did not recognise it as such, I do now. This is a beautiful model and the detail superb, the Arado seaplane was damaged in the battle and you get a choice damaged or undamaged! Stewart offered me Ajax, Achilles and Exeter but I do not want to start a new period.

I picked up another couple of Ben Kane's books dealing with Rome and Macedon, I loved the trilogy set around the massacre of Varus' legions but could not get into the books on Crassus and Carrhae, so took a chance with the new ones, much better. I also just found some stuff on YouTube where he and two other historical authors walked in Roman armour from Capua to Rome for charity, pleasant entertainment. I also caught a lecture he done on Varus, again excellent, an hour later I have the germ of an idea about getting a Germanic army to fight the Twelfth, so the Thunderbolts were in the East, so what.

Her indoors has got me power washing in the garden, not a happy bunny but the sooner I get it over the sooner I can get back to the good stuff, trouble is it is a three afternoon job, one to go.

I also bought some Assault Group Russians, very nice, I got some extra SMG's and four guys with the SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle as there was usually at least one in a squad, these are cleaned and based waiting to be primed.

On the tray for now are my six SYW generals, I have started the horses and once this power washing nonsense is over I will spend more time on them, then the Russians above, then the buildings. I have also thought of several other little bits and pieces that I can get on with after that. So in a month or so I should be getting to the ordering stage for several more SYW battalions.

For now I am doing quite a bit of solo gaming, taking my time so each game is over two or three days, at the moment the Germans are having their second go at taking the village of Moditten, this may have to wait though until tomorrow or tonight.......... yes dear, coming.

Monday, 13 April 2020

It ain't over until the physically challenged lady sings!

Giving WWII a rest I thought I would take the opportunity to do a large battle and get a couple of armies on the table, even if the game did not work I could sit for ages just looking at the troops and disappear into a little world of my own. Legio XII had not been on campaign for a long time so I thought they could challenge the new boys on the block, the Seleucids, I roped in friend Matt from the Wargames Table to once again take command.

Are you superstitious with your armies, I am, each has its own set of dice and I try not to have favourites, however the Thunderbolts are my favourites, I love that army, I like the rest but those guys do me proud. I am always a bit wary of handing them over to another general but put it down to a new political appointee from Rome, so temporary only. I do wonder however that in a solo game can I be totally unbiased and not upset the other army by secretly rooting for the Twelfth, am I mad?

I sorted out a table then sent Matt a map and the army list for Early Imperial Roman, the battle was going to be 3,250 points a side. I chose four phalanxes, an Elephant,Ccataphracts and Companions supported by some skirmishers and mercenary Peltasts, I then deployed them before looking at Matt's army choices and his deployment. My first thought was it was not going to be a long battle, my army seemed to be more powerful than Matt's, opposite me were four cohorts of tough regular legionaries along with one veteran (Praetorians), these were supported by some archers, skirmshers, Contari and an Auxiliary Cohort. I checked my numbers again as for a Seleucid army I seemed to have way more than I should, but no, they were fine, the legionaries opposite were the finest though. Matt had also given me a rough plan to follow so let battle commence.

Romans left, Selecuids right.
The Phalanx.
Praetorians, Cohors II, I, III.
 From the Roman perspective the heavy infantry needed to advance sharply and get into combat as both flanks looked vulnerable, the Auxiliaries and massed archers were going to sit on their hill and see what transpired. The Seleucids decided to hit both flanks while leading the advance with the elephant in concert with a phalanx, I got excited and with only auxiliaries and some archers on the hill thought I could ride them down with the Cataphracts, I had intended to set a phalanx on the archers but decided to instead pull it in to the centre and flank the left hand cohort. The Praetorians screwed up the Roman advance, this is one of those units, and refused to move despite being howled at by the Legate himself, so this left three cohorts against four phalanxes and the elephant, but the Romans had no choice but continue forward, the slow Praetorians could now protect the right flank but it still looked like the left would collapse as the Companions and Contari came to grips and the Cataphracts advanced on the hill. I had fully expected the Contari to be swept away but no, they held on for three turns before fleeing.

The advance, well not the Praetorians.

The Contari put up a fight.

Now the main clash between both infantry lines came and the phalanxes smashed into the cohorts, I now realised why I had more men, I had forgotten to give the phalangites light armour, a big mistake when facing Romans. While the smart but useless Praetorians were chasing the Peltasts Cohors II in a tough battle with the White phalanx eventually managed to rout them, Cohors I were uncharacteristically routed by the Purple phalanx. The biggest setback of the day occurred as Cohors III was hit by two phalanxes and the elephant, none of these units could seem to make any headway against the others, the flanking phalanx and the elephant were particularly inept and things slowly swung in favour of the Romans.

The Cataphracts charge fails.
Rome just about to win the left flank.

On the left the Auxiliaries stopped the Cataphracts and they too began to slowly turn the tide, just as the victorious Companions came thundering back ready to hit them in the flank the armoured horsemen broke and took the Companions with them, the Gods had deserted the Seleucids, in the centre with the help of the Auxiliary Archers Cohors III beat their tormentors and it was all over for the Greeks.

The Auxiliary Archers charge in and seal the Greek fate.

 What had started out as a distraction for the day turned into a brutal and exciting battle. It had its heroes and villains, the haughty Praetorians doing their own thing and the tenacious Auxiliaries and Cohors III defying the odds. Normally I suspect the combination of elephant and phalanx would have swept the third cohort away, however I have a house rule that all units in contact with the elephant suffer disorder not just the target, this slowed the combat, also the flank phalanx also ended up in contact with Nellie which did not do them any favours, all this as well as the dire combat rolls of all involved ensured a long and protracted struggle. It was a bad idea to attack uphill with the Cataphracts and when it was obvious they were going to be beat in the long run I should have disengaged them, there are rules for this under trial but I did not have them to hand, I will keep them close for the future.

I now want to get a fourth cohort which has been one of those things which never goes away and will have to happen one day.