Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Rome Triumphant

 We have had some visitors recently so that along with trying to work out how many people I could meet within a radius of two meters, six and a half feet for we awkward folks and not be £10,000 lighter I haven't got much done.

I had thought of starting an ACW campaign involving mates Matt and Rob, hoping that Rob could come here and fight any battles which turned up, but the loons in Westminster put an end to that, although I believe as of writing I still may be able to venture two miles up the road and enter Cumbria, but then what do I know. With the ACW on hold I set up a War and Conquest rematch with Rob Broom down in Bristol, Rob would again be the Seleucids and I would lead the Twelfth, a large game this time of 3,500 points, I would kick it off once my visitors had gone. I would send Rob a grid map and photographs for him to make his moves, it worked well the last time and this time with a small grid attached he should have a better idea of distance.

Rob brought three phalanxes supported by Companions, medium cavalry and horse archers, also in the mix were light infantry, skirmishers and two elephants. I took four Roman cohorts and one Auxiliary cohort, cataphracts, horse archers, Auxiliary cavalry and archers, Lanciari and skirmishers along with two bolt shooters to deal with the elephants. A lot of firepower there. The Seleucids lined up with the phalanx in the centre, Thracians and horse archers on the right the rest of the cavalry on the left along with the skirmishers and Thureophoroi light infantry. I put my heavy infantry in my centre with the Auxiliary troops on my left, the Auxiliary archers I sat in a wood on the right, also on that flank were the Cataphracts, one Roman cohort and my Lanciari.


  I decided that I could probably win on the right, the Lanciari being an excellent unit to beat skirmishers and probably the enemy medium cavalry, the cataphracts hopefully could take the Companions and Cohors II should easily beat the Thureophoroi. My left looked threatened by the Thracians as I did not want to peel off the Auxiliary cohort from the main line as there was a handy hill to their front which they could stand on. So I decided my Auxiliary cavalry would deal with the Skythians while my horse archers harassed the Thracians. Rob I think simply wanted to crush my centre, he did want the Thracians to threaten my left but they got bogged down a bit in the orchard due to bad movement rolls.

 As the initial moves played out Rob surprised me and took his cavalry away from his left and sent them straight at my line, the elephants also advanced along with the Purple (veteran) phalanx, the Whites stayed on their hill while the Blue ran forward. I sent a hail of arrows and bolts towards the Greeks and failed miserably, so much for plan A. Rob now won the initiative and slammed his cavalry into Cohors I and the Auxiliary archers while the phalanx moved slowly forward in line with the elephants. My boys took the shock and bent but did not break. Meanwhile I had chased away the Skythians and moved my Auxiliary cavalry forward to hopefully turn and hit the Purple phalanx or at least give Rob pause in his advance. I had secured the right flank and turned the cataphracts towards the enemy engaged with the archers.

 A crises had now approached as the elephants and the veteran phalanx also smashed into the Roman line. Although I was happy with the situation on the flanks I wondered what I would do if my centre disappeared. First up the Auxiliary cohort was sent packing by the veterans, sadly they failed to inflict any casualties on the Greeks and their morale failed, but all was not lost. Within a few minutes disaster struck the Seleucids, the victory against the Auxiliaries was a cruel twist by the Gods, the Seleucid cavalry were beat, routed and caught, this debacle also saw the morale of the Blue phalanx crumble and they too fled. To make matters worse Cohors II broke the Thureophoroi and dispersed them also, the poor Thracians with only a shield now fell prey to Roman barbs and suffered horrendous casualties. What about the elephants, well they too were defeated and ran amuck, one turned on the Purple phalanx and moved through it causing mayhem and stopping them following up their victory. The other ran through the Praetorians and caused the rallying slingers to once again run, the bolt shooters tried to kill it but failed although it was certainly on its last legs but still managed to be a danger to the Romans as it wandered here and there.


The Thunderbolts managed to grab the initiative for what would become the last move as the destruction of the Seleucid army continued. As the rest of the legion reorganised to sweep forward Cohors III charged downhill into the bewildered White phalanx and sent them packing, I was disappointed that my Auxiliary cavalry had been spooked by the elephant before it had died but you can't have everything. A great opportunity to get a lot of figures on the table and throw some dice, big thanks to Rob for taking part.

So what have I done, well working slowly, very slowly on those extra warband figures, probably because they are just extras and not a complete new unit, also in the mix has been a couple of map projects. The one on Charles XII of Sweden and his campaigns has been completed and a re-rendering of some Russian maps involving their attack on the Finns, early war I think but of course I don't read Russian, I have just started those.

What next I wonder, perhaps I could rope someone else into a War and Conquest game or try some Market Garden scenarios as I have just got the campaign book from Warlord. I am looking into buildings and terrain for my Berlin Project as well, I have decided not to do battle boards as I just do not have the room to store them unless I close the PO, so the buildings will be free standing with added scatter terrain, lots of it.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Is Historical Gaming Dying and other stuff

 The excellent Little Wars channel has asked the question is Historical Wargaming dying, they asked a fair few hobby leaders and many Vloggers took to YouTube to give their opinions, we merry few, we band of brothers also broached the subject on our last club Zoom call. Did we get a definitive answer or did the others, nope I don't think so. I have wargamed for over 50 years and in that time I have been a member of two clubs, Carluke and Lancaster, due to the time lapse Carluke was overwhelmingly historical and Lancaster is a mix of historical and fantasy, possibly 60/40 but definitely with historical in the lead. My own opinion is that no, historical is not dying but is it increasing, no I don't think so it is merely holding its own and with the plethora of games available these days that is surely encouraging.

I spent ten years at Carluke and hardly missed a weekend but when I left we still had the same guys who were there when I first joined and we did try our best to get new members. I have been at Lancaster for about four years, maybe five and again a very welcoming club and member Rob and others put on demonstration games at some of the larger shows but again I think we have managed to get and keep maybe two new guys. Against this I look at the growing Aladdin's cave or that warehouse in Indiana Jones and the sheer volume of stuff available for historical wargamers, yes I know the same applies to fantasy etc. but that wasn't the question, this cornucopia just gets better with each passing year.

I watched an interesting video entitled "Are you old enough for historicals" or something like that and I think that does play a part, we in the Old Guard now generally have enough spare time and money to indulge ourselves therefore we keep the industry turning over so they do not have to rely on new blood. So after all that babbling, I do not think we are in trouble, I was in at the beginning in the Sixties and now in the words of a British prime minister "We have never had it so good", or is it "Crises, what crises?"

I am nearing completion with my reserve Waffen SS squad, now I only got these because although I have a full platoon it is always useful to have a reserve squad for games, all my forces now have reserve squads, and though they rarely see the table I of course 'need' them just in case. As I look at them awaiting their varnish I realise they only have one LMG, now that is fine for army units but this unit being Waffen SS they are most likely to also be panzergrenadiers, and they get two LMG's, yes my Germans have more LMG's than you can shake a stick at but the men do not wear Autumn camo smocks and I therefore cannot use these. I could just say that in the heat of battle these guys left their LMG behind or it broke down, but that also won't work, so I ordered up an LMG this morning. Another thing which has been bugging me for a long time is that my War and Conquest warbands are not big enough, they consist of 32 men and should be at least 36, so two days ago I ordered up for each an extra four men, Picts, Welsh, Saxons and Franks along with new, larger bases. Yet still I am not completely happy, I would like another Roman cohort to add to my Imperial Romans and I know I cannot resist this much longer, once Aventine finish redoing their molds I may have to scratch this itch as well. This leaves me with a quandry, my Galatians, I know the unit I have is 'wrong' but they fight like Trojans, Aventine have Galatians and I am torn between keeping the fighters or getting a new, more historical unit, this one may continue to play on my mind for some time yet.

The map front seems to have recovered from the Covid curse, as well as continuing with the Atlas I have recently finished a very interesting set for a book on American naval aviation during the Vietnam war, I don't have the exact details but I had to draw one of their bases in California. I am also doing a large project for a book about Charles XII of Sweden for friend and Helion editor Charles Singleton.



The weather recently has been very nice, an Indian summer here in the North, but Winter is coming. I have now persuaded myself I need city ruins, no more deliberation on that front, only a matter of when, certainly not this month nor perhaps next month as I have a couple of SYW battalions I want, I have the flags so just need the troops now. I shall therefore need to take over more of the lending library shelves in the Post Office but no need to upset the Memsahib yet.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Grand Old Duke of York comes to mind

Just when you thought, no, I can't go into it, one step forward and ten back, no!

Right, on the bright side friend Rob agreed to come over and help me fight the SYW battle I had arranged, I duly spent quite a few hours reading up on the rules as I did not want to spend a lot of time with my head in a book. Honours of War are an easy set of rules but I suspect with a lot of depth in them the more you play and remember.

Rob arrived and promptly chose the French who were defending a fordable stream and bridge from the British, this little affair took almost my entire SYW forces. I should have made the table 8x5 for the 28mm figures but I had already set them up and didn't want to change everything at the last moment. My plan as such was to advance my infantry and slowly wear down the enemy to my front, my cavalry were ordered to smash the French cavalry and threaten their left flank. Things did not start well as Rob diced and got two Dependable generals and one Dashing young blade, while I got one old Dependable and two Ditherers!

The advance went well while we were outside musket range, but as soon as we got into range my boys got the worst of it thanks to the French artillery, my line faltered while I tried to bring as much firepower to the front as possible, this was proving a long process. The French meanwhile were doing well at confounding my plan. On the right my cavalry got into position but the stream meant that unless I got a double move I could be stuck halfway across and then charged so caution got the better of me as I inched forward, centimetered forward doesn't have the same ring. Anyway I have forgotten to mention the lack of moral fibre in my two Ditherers, this meant things went even slower than normal.

Halfway through I did manage to create a hole in the French center as the regiment Lorraine ran, hopes rose, I had also stopped an aggressive move by Rob to advance over the bridge so the cavalry of both sides still sat and stared at each other. Despite the at times heavy cannon fire I threw my infantry forward to take advantage of the gap, the long red lines looked really good, Rob threw in a battalion of Gardes Francaises and to both our surprise the 33rd Foot stood then routed the Gardes things looked really good.

The French now retired most of their line out of harms way, frustrated I tried to follow up but my Generals would not have it. On the right the French cavalry under their Dashing leader charged forward, two troops of British horse fled the field while the enemy lost only one, so much for threatening the French left. On my left my Highlanders closed with the Irish mercenaries and came off the worst, I was losing too many battalions. I still however had one almost full brigade, half of which were grenadiers, onwards I shouted at their leader, now! Sadly said leader instead led his men to the rear, I looked over the shattered field of honour, my remaining cavalry troop had done well but were still outnumbered, one battalion was holding on from First Brigade and my one and only full strength brigade had retired leaving my artillery way out on its own. I called a halt and retired to prepare courts martial papers.

What went wrong, well let me tell you. I had inadvertently given the French a mainly superior army and it showed during the musketry, I have since read that I did this wrong, the mercenaries do not get superior status. I also should have downgraded the French fire when my lads were in the stream and should have had cover from the banks. My main problem however was my two Dithering commanders, Rob also got some rolls where he could not advance but he was happy to sit and wait, I on the other hand needed to get as many men up front as I could and this proved elusive. I also have to admit that in the first half of the battle I sent my men in piecemeal rather than getting my grenadiers and the rest into a half decent line, mea culpa. No matter, I really like the rules and it was a terrific game.

In other news, I will base and finish my Paras this weekend, I have also just taken delivery of an extra Waffen SS squad to give me some reserves. Before I start them however I am going to paint those 25 Prussians for Rob. My interest has once again been restored for the SYW period, so once all this stuff is off the table I can see me getting some more, two more infantry battalions for each side and maybe two cavalry troops. I am now going to add Hanoverians to the British forces. Oh, Duncan handed in an excellent book on German armour at Arnhem last week, I found everything in use there from PzIII's to King Tigers, what really got me going was a battalion of French Char B's which had been turned into flammpanzers, this information will come in really handy when Too Fat Lardies get around to completing their Arnhem book.

As I pack away the SYW what next, I would like to get a War and Conquest game in otherwise back to WWII more than likely, maybe some Bolt Action this time.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Interesting week

The week started off well with the weather being very nice indeed, I don't know where the weathermen got the idea we would be freezing but they have not explained it so far and no doubt never will. The only job where you can be wrong every day and still get paid at the end of the month, oh no wait, politicians.

Anyway I took advantage of the nice weather to pop up to Duncan's for a coffee, I found him beavering away in his huge man cave full of vehicles, he has built an extension to house two new jeeps, he wanted to show me the Flak 38 in the open rather than a quick look under the tarpaulin. First up the German built Ford truck would not move, so we changed three batteries, I say we, I watched, Duncan got to the bottom of it and it was something to do with the dilithium crystals and the ION drive, or some such thing which my non mechanical brain could not compute, anyway I gingerly held back a piece of pipe for him. Once he had fixed the pipe thing he worked out that perhaps there was no fuel in the tank, gallons later the thing sputtered into life, success!

We drove the truck out into an open space and I climbed up into the back, WWII stuff was not built with comfort in mind. So, with a huge smile on my face I settled into the gunners position and swung the gun around and up and down, oh how I would have loved to have fired it, in my mind I got at least two Jabos. What a great way to spend a morning.

I have packed away the WWII table for now and decided on something different for a change so I have set up a Seven Years War engagement based very loosely on a scenario I found online. I am using Honours of War again for the second time, I made some mistakes the first time around but enjoyed the game nonetheless, so I hope to learn more this time. I should have used two battle mats but didn't and it's too late to change the terrain now. I hope to get some moves done this weekend.

A guy came in this morning and asked about the display, he said he was an ex Royal Machine, sorry, Marine, now this is where the scary part comes in. I told him I was exRN and he said he used to work with submarines on exercises, swimming to and from them. I then told him I had just recounted a story to a customer the day before about the time we had to go and search for a body (we were a minehunter and had a big sonar) in the River Clyde of a guy who had not made it ashore from an underwater exercise. It turned out he knew the poor bloke, and we did find him.

We had to go to Sheffield this week to pick up our new car, Covid struck again as the sales girl, or person or whatever could not enter the car with us to show us the controls, so we drove back using kilometers and on European time, getting back an hour before we left. I spent an hour that evening on Youtube learning how to use the Starship Enterprise dashboard, oh and it talks to you, so I now have the missus, Alexa and Hi Mercedes giving me gyp, I can however say 'shut up' to two of them.


I have not managed to get any painting done this week, the Paras are primed and ready to go and the Prussians stare up at me and whisper 'October, October' from their bag. I did take some time out to make my terrain easier to get at and sort all my WWII vehicles to make better use of the Really Useful Boxes. I also have a map commission which is going to take a lot of work, not what I am used to but a nice challenge.

Books are a lending library, but I'll get those shelves as well.