Thursday, 16 March 2017

Some Ancients Games - Magnesia

We like to try to stick to a single set of rules for a few weeks at my local club. This lets everyone get use to the rules and the period and get into it, before we move off into something different. With a couple of members really just kicking off their armies it helps to give them something to keep the painting going. For the rest of us it saved having to remember of this week if numbers are good, do we get saving throws and how far do things move!

With a couple of buckshee weekends I've been able to get back to playing Ancients. My first attempt was scuppered when I had to deal with a work emergency and nearly had to fly off that afternoon, but I've managed four games since which have more than made up for it.

The culmination of this was last Sunday's refight of Magnesia.  This battle effectively spelled the end of the territorial ambitions of the successor kingdoms and brought Rome armies to the eastern Mediterranean. The Seleucid army was defeated by the Romans in a battle which saw pikemen, scythed chariots, celts, elephants and cataphracts clash with the three lined Roman republican legion and its Latin allies.


This refight of the battle was a short notice affair because of some unexpected free time last sunday. So armies were quickly put together and some stand ins were required. However the key elements were all present and we got kicked off with an attack on both flanks from the Selucids.

Quite quickly the attack on the right got bogged down with the Cataphracts and Aegma becoming tangled up with the Latins. This ground on slowly for the most of the battle. Neither side gaining the upper hand until quite late in the day. Whilst the Seleucid cavalry failed to defeat their foe, they were able to tie up large numbers of the Romans which kept the Phalanx secure from attacks on its own flank.


On the left the seleucids swept away the enemy light cavalry and infantry and that side became a swirling series of melees which drew in the Pergamene troops as well. Again neither side had the upper hand for much of the battle, but as it drew to its close it seemed the Seleucids were starting to edge ahead.



When the two central portions of the armies clashed the Seleucids pushed their elephants out just ahead of the phalanx. Faced with these creatures there was little the romans could do but hang on and hope their multi line formation could soak up the damage. However the pike versus legion combats seem to grind away with the phalangites slowly losing an extra casualty here or there, succumbing to the effective gladius in the press of melee. And so it was with this fight. At a critical moment a phalanx battalion was lost, the romans turned to their flank to take an Elephant which was carving up a neighbouring unit of hastati. This caused it to go berserk and it turned and crashed into the side of another beast on its right, causing its death in the smash. Suddenly this left a hole in the front line and several fresh Romans units able to exploit it.





With the flanks if not safe then at least secure the Romans would have been able to push through the centre and overlap the remaining phalanx units. No second line for the Seleucids and no reinforcement meant that after several hours of playing, the game was over.



What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

More Russians??!?!?!

Finished off the last of my SYW Russian foot regiments (for now!) and since the green paint was out I decided I would have a bash at painting up some Russian Great Northern War figs, the stuff I bought from Grimsby gamer Paul Robinson last year at AMG. 

Last of....


I'm going to make up a company for The Pikemans Lament as there is enough bare metal to get what I need out of the Russians. The swedes don't have enough figs and anyway the company who made them seems to have unlisted them....most helpfully. So they'll have to come from another source, probablyWarfare. Russian cavalry might have to be Foundry stand ins. I don't know what it is about this period and ranges, they pop up, never get finished and die out just as folk get ready to move onto another stage! 

TPL foot units are 12 figures and as I already have 12 shot and 8 pike painted I have no excuse not to get started. I also picked up the excellent, but rather expensive, GNW Compendium last year and with the old Osprey Peter the Great and Poltava books and the Peter Englund book I've got plenty source material. Keeping this in the 18thC means no period creep too - I had thought about going rennaissance but managed to reign that in. (Er....but not until I bought some pistoliers, seen lurking in the above shot!). 

First of....


Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Battle of Campo Santo

We continued out Italian series of games with a refight of the battle of Campo Santo on A couple of weeks back.

This was a large battle, but not a huge one so easily accommodated at the club and everyone got a decent sized command.

Both armies faced each other in two long lines and in many ways this resembled at battle from the war of Spanish succession rather than the seven years war. This wasn't a battle were refined tactical finesse was employed to win. The Austrians were forced to advance through some some farmland, which in February would only have caused disruption to their formations and not provided any cover. Facing them the Spanish decided to sit and wait for their attack - our players decided to move forward and take on the Austrians.






The end result of the battle was the after a couple of good rounds of dice the Austrians just managed to creep ahead and started to cause the Spanish centre to collapse. Although break points were not in danger of being met it was getting late and it was clear that the end of the battle had been reached. The bourbons just didn't have the men to fight any longer and a withdrawal would have been required. Unlike the historic result the Austrians wouldn't have need to withdraw to regroup and so would have achieved victory.

Nice to do a bigger battle with HOW. The rules coped well and now most of us are familiar with them enough to get through games without too much page flipping and head scratching.

Figs were a mix of Crann Tara, Elite, Trent and some other manufacturers. Pulling together two armies of white coated troops wasn't easy, so the eagle eyed will notice a few revolutionary French and a Russian unit in there and Syw French standing in for Spanish. However the overall look was great and the sun even came out for a bit! 

I really would like to get a few more white coated units for my Neapolitans. The WAS in Italy is a very interesting theatre, a sideshow perhaps but one which has much to enjoy. 

Monday, 30 January 2017

Wargaming Hygge

Its been a while since I painted anything. I find it relaxing and well, not so much mind-ful as mind-less! The only thing that ruins this state of mind is having to paint, you know, like when you have to paint figures up for a display. That's kind of where I was post Kirriemuir. Then Christmas came along and that wasn't a very quiet break this year, then back to work and we know that's a chav and a chore too. So the end of January neared and I hadn't lifted a brush. 

My AWI diversion is almost complete. I picked up most of the figures from EBay. I usually managed to get stuff which fits together with other purchases and my own stuff and this time I managed to get some bargains too. However my luck ran out with the last lot. The pictures online were not great but there were a lot of unusual poses, officers and nco's. I could tell the painting wasn't too hot and the basing wasn't either, but I figured I could remedy that. And so I had to. Not the worst painting. I've seen, I didn't need to strip them, but not great. The blue was to pale and somehow had made it onto the tricorns too (?!?). Worse than that was that the bases had been covered with a fine rubber type flock material. I've seen this in the packet - made by woodland scenics. Don't use it. It breaks down into dust like particles which clog and stick to the figures. Out came the broad stiff brush I use for large areas of texture basing and I went over each figure once I peeled them off the base.  This removed the grains of flock stuck in every crevice, (perry figures, so lots of those), and some loose bits of flaking paint too. 

Prussian blue over the uniform, matt black, with a little grey, for the tricorns, shoes and cartridge boxes, mahogany brown for the muskets and some of the figures hair and a little bit of ivory or white for trousers and cross belts. Then rebased on mdf with some pva.  It didn't take too long and the mix of headgear and poses turned this into a rough looking veteran unit. I have one done and another to follow. 

Whilst painting this lot I kept looking at a unit of unpainted Russians which were lying, still bagged on the painting desk. I had decided that I didn't need these for the display game, (it turned out the Russians could have done with another two or three units on the day!), and had left them for another time. Well since my painting mood had returned I decided the finish these off and if not actually complete the Russian army at least finish it off for the time being. 

The problem was the cold. It snowed here this weekend. Big white fluffy wet flakes. These promptly melted overnight and froze solid. This has little to do with painting the figures, but everything to do with undercoating them. If you want figures to come out with a speckled base coat or a dull white varnish, do them in cold air. Even a garage can be cold enough as I have found to my cost before. 

However I convinced my other half that I needed the utility room and set up a shoe box and some paper to cover overspray and got to work. I keep my spray tins under the sink, so they don't get cold. The room itself was pretty much room temperature and after the job was done I opened the window and turned on the extractor fan and shut the door to the rest of the house to prevent any whiff of spray paint. I returned an hour or so later once the figures were dry and the paint hard and took them up for painting. 

Soon I was immersed in my own little world. Underneath my magnified anglepoise painting away with no distractions and pretty much lost to the world. Zoned out. With a couple of comfort breaks to the sofa and a flick through some source material also managed to make some notes for the Sugar Islands Campaign as well.

A very productive, relaxing and enjoyable afternoon. 

Hygge - as they say in Denmark !

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Honours of War - Velletri 1744

We had a pop at refighting the "first" battle of Velletri on tues at the local club.
Drawing from both SW's "Defence of Piedmont" and Red Sash's "Queens Gambit" I made up a scenario which, if not actually historical, was designed to capture the flavour of the action.
The Austrian army had moved south from Rome and was sitting along several roads south, all of which led to Neapolitan territory. However Lobkowitz's 14000 or so men were effectively pinned in position by the Spanish-Neapolitan army of De Gages who mustered nearer 25,000. The latter force was made up of some 12000 Neapolitan troops whom at this stage in the campaign were perhaps not fully effective, but the numbers involved meant that the allies could cover any movement south and Lobkowitz seemed very reluctant to try his hand. 
The Austrians encamped at Nemi, north of Velletri, separated from that town by a steep volcanic ridge which was garrisoned, but apparently only lightly. The Bourbon allies camped around Velletri on the southern side of the ridge. Both armies sat for some time whilst detachments played cat and mouse elsewhere.  Eventually De Gage decided to act and set a force up the steep slopes to attack the troops ontop of the ridge. This attack was successful and the Austrians were soon driven off and back down into the valley. However the pursuit was recalled (- the objective had been achieved and support could not be brought up over the twisting tracks). This allowed Lobkowitz to reform and organise a counterattack which retook part of the ridge.




(Not the greatest pics, the green mat has absorbed the light and flattened image, the ridge was nearly 6in higher at the top than the actual table top. I should have dressed it more with bits of moss, floc, stones, etc, but we had little such stuff).

Looking at the OB's (Red Sash's booklet and Nafziger) I noted that Lobkowitz had 3 battalions of Croats present, so I made them the garrison of the ridge. I gave de Gage 6 battalions to achieve his objective (2:1 odds not overwhelming and hampered be a reduced movement for going uphill). To both sides I gave a further 6 battalions of reinforcements with 2 units of dragoons for the Austrians and a heavy gun to the Bourbons. These were drawn from the OB's again and the heavy gun added because the bourbons dragged one up the hill after the battle to bombard the position the Austrians retook. I set times for the reinforcements to arrive and constricted the freedom of movement of the Bourbons by making that brigadier "dithering".
All in all we had a decent game. The Croats crumbled rather quickly so I made an umpires decision to allow the Austrian reinforcements on. They made good headway against the Bourbons to the point where it looked like it had swung the other way completely. But the Neapolitan reinforcements had arrived at the ridge and I called time at 2200hrs, after 2 and a half hours play. 
Some piccies below. The Ridge was made from Hexon tiles covered with a cloth to get the steep sides. On reflection it should have been somewhat steeper and should have had more cover for the croats. The arrival times of both reserves was far too soon, but as umpire I changed these so the outcome of the scenario was more or less in line with the historical result. It looks a bit plain in the pics, clump foliage, trees and scrub would break it up better. Something for next time!!
However it was a good game and everyone enjoyed it, which is after all the whole point of it all!!
I'm looking to do Campo Santo in a few weeks time as a sunday game. This time I intend playing too!!!
The problem with all this is of course....I "need" Spanish now