Sunday, 19 February 2017

Brush with Plastic

Here are the completed infantry units from my recent purchase of Warlord plastics. They are a little larger than my usual Old Glory metal figures but close enough not to matter. I spent about 5 or 6 hours assembling 40 foot and 24 horse and this would be time better spent painting. I had to remind myself that the figures were a great value while assembling, to get through it.

Once assembled the figures looked great. There was a little bit of mold line that I ignored and as you can see from the pics, the lines are not visible once painted.

I printed off some ECW flags from the excellent Warflag website and voila, 40 figs build and painted over a 2 week stretch.

Next up will be 24 horse made into 4 units. I have them assembled and primered. I am painting the horse first and then the riders. Stay tuned for cavalry reinforcements and then a big game of Baroque to blood them.



Monday, 13 February 2017

Battle Royale

Here are the highlights from last nights Sword and Spear game with Martin. The Romans faced off against Mithradate's Pontic army.

We tried out the terrain placement rules for the first time. This resulted in a hill and swamp in the centre front of the Roman deployment zone. The Pontics had a woods in their rear and a hill and field on their left and another field on their right. This was a fair bit of terrain for an ancients battle and had quite a bit of influence on the battles outcome.

The Romans were out scouted and deployed their heavy infantry on the hill with their flank anchored against the swamp. Cavalry deployed on the right and archers with light cavalry formed a screening force and reserve on the left.

The Pontic Army set up opposite the Roman heavy infantry and cavalry. They had a larger army and were able to stack the flanks with extra light units. to try and win on the flanks.
Deployment

Setup

The Roman plan was to attack with a refused left flank. The cavalry clashed on the Roman right resulting in a quick loss of a Pontic skirmisher and cavalry unit. The remaining units on that flank settled into a seesaw battle.
Cavalry battle


The Pontic Army invested their initiative in moving their flank attack on their left but found themselves hampered by the swamp and cultivated field as well as low troop discipline.

The Romans advanced the right of their heavy infantry toward the Pontic Imitation Legionnaire line, hoping their cavalry would hold long enough to avoid getting flanked. The Pontic responded by attacking the partially committed Roman heavy infantry.
Heavy Infantry closing in the Centre

The Romans spent the next few turns sending in more troops into the centre until their two sides were engaged in a major press of shields.

It became apparent that the Pontic flanking maneuver would not arrive in time to alter the outcome in the centre. The Romans were slowly winning the cavalry fight on the other flank. In the centre, Roman armour and discipline wore down and eventually defeated enough of the Pontic heavy infantry to clinch the win.
End Game


Martin and I talked at length after the game to decide what could have happened differently. Rome did very well in the terrain set up by getting a defensive spot to launch their attack from. The terrain deployment system in Sword and Spear has a random element that can see terrain move around or disappear and the Romans were lucky to have their gamble pay off.

The Pontic heavy infantry could have deployed further back, anchoring their flank against some heavy woods. If the Romans pursued, the Pontic could have more easily picked at their exposed flanks and Roman flankers would have been impaired by terrain. The Pontic cavalry might have faired better if they led with their melee cavalry and supported them with skirmishers in the rear.

The game was set up and played in 4 hours including a couple of coffee breaks. A very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a chance to try out our luck as Armchair Commanders.
Bad Activation Roll!


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Literal Inspiration

I am recently returned from a holiday. During my break, I read two books of historical fiction based in Julius Caesar's Rome. The first book was about the Roman Civil War up to Caesar's death. The second book covered the slave revolts and the Pontic revolt in Greece. Mithridates was a cool character and so I have elected to have a Roman vs Pontic battle using Sword and Spear. I will need to do some rebasing of my newly acquired Greeks and look forward to seeing them in action on the table top. Mithridates was beaten by the Romans but the point system in S&S will give him a fighting chance of turning back the Roman invaders...

1 General - Mithridates VI
3 Captains

8 Imitation Legionnaires - Shield Wall and Thrown Weapons
2 Heavy Cavalry - Armored and Undisciplined
2 Archers - Medium Foot - Undisciplined
1 Sarmation Cavalry - Armored, Impact and Undisciplined
1 Thracian - Medium Foot, 2H Weapon and Undisciplined
1 Bastarnae - Medium Foot, Unarmored, 2H weapons and Undisciplined
1 Skythian Horse Archer - Light Horse
2 Javelin men - Light Foot
2 Light Horse - Javelin

Army Value 69

1 General - Pompey
2 Captains

1 Veteran Legionary - Thrown Weapons and Armored
6 Legionary - Thrown Weapons and Armored
2 Cavalry - Armored
1 Lancer - Armored and Impact
1 Horse Archer - Light Horse
1 Light Horse
2 Auxilia Archers - Medium Foot

Army Value 52

I have a shaky hand tonight and my pics are a little blurry. I rebased a few Greeks to fill out Mithridates' army. I added some height to the bases to help the smaller figs blend in with my existing troops:

Archers

Thracians

Light Horse

Heavy Horse

Bastarnae


Monday, 23 January 2017

Firefight in the Vineyards

Here are some pictures and a summary from my second Chain of Command game. This time I pulled out my 28mm US and German forces to face off in Italy.
Germans
 Americans

The scenario was #2 from the rule book called "Probe". The Americans were attacking and had to get a team intact to the defending baseline. To assist them, they were allowed to get the jump on the Germans in the scouting phase and had their jump off points well forward. The Germans were stuck on their baseline.

German Jump off points
 American Jump off points

I rolled a one for reinforcements and the Americans chose an Adjutant. The Germans were empty handed. This would be a straight up fight between two fresh platoons.

The Americans deployed first with a full section in cover behind the red house with a hope of  finding a gap in the German line. The Germans countered by deploying a full section on the other side of the hill from the Americans.

The American advance was stalled by the Germans and the presence of their platoon leader

The Americans deployed a second full section with the second in command on the opposite flank. They advanced under cover until they came to an exposed hill that led to their objective. The Germans had deployed a full section in the big house overlooking this hill and spent much of the game in overwatch. 

Americans advance watched by the Germans in the distant house

The Germans got a double move and decided to take the woods before the Americans could get there. This advance was repulsed and the Americans advanced in turn. The Germans played a CoC dice and interrupted their move. The American suffered heavy casualties but decided to hold the ground and rally.

 Firefight erupts between two buildings while the Americans try to advance over open ground

The Germans had lost the initiative and the remains of the American Section (3 men) were rallied by the platoon leader and then made an all out dash for the gap in the German line while the MG 42s changed out barrels. They fell short but used their CoC dice to interrupt the German turn and complete the advance, winning the game.

Americans edge onto the exposed hill using smoke for cover

Depleted platoon takes the objective



Both sides had kept a section in reserve. Neither was willing to show their hand and risk allowing the enemy having last deployment. Americans lost 9 figures and first Sections leader was lightly injured. The Germans only suffered 4 casualties. 

The German Panzer Grenadiers are powerful in defense as they have 2 light machine guns per section. Each German squad generated as much firepower as a whole American section. A mad dash for the objective would have been suicidal for the Americans.

Both sides used smoke but I later learned from the FB rules forum that smoke grenades are not standard equipment. Oops. The smoke looked cool on the battle field at least!

Second game and I am still liking the game. It would be way more fun and challenging against another player. I will have to put some effort into finding an opponent...

German Scouts advance toward an American JOP and force them to defend it

Saturday, 21 January 2017

6x6 project

It is a new year and I am throwing my hat in the ring to participate in the 6x6 project. I am not sure where the idea originated but have seen other bloggers joining in and it will give me a focus for gaming in upcoming year. For those that don't know, the 6x6 project is simply picking six games and striving to play them 6 times over the next year. So without further ado, here are my selections:


1) Baroque - ECW - considered but discarded options - WECW, Victory Without Quarter. I might even work on a campaign. Stay tuned...


2) D&D 5e - My son and I will be participating in a bi weekly game via Skype with chums from my childhood. I recently acquired the appropriate Players Handbook from Amazon so this is another step to committing to play.
3) Sword and Spear - Ancients - considered but discarded options - C&C Ancients. This is an excellent little game that has become popular with my local group.

 

 4) Chain of Command - WW2 - considered but discarded options - Flames of War, Bolt Action, A&A WW2 Miniatures. Not sure I will get to play with any one else for this but find the set challenging and fun to play solo.


5) Battle Cry - ACW - considered but discarded options - Fire and Fury Regimental. F&F looks amazing but takes too long for me to commit to 6 games. Battle Cry will scratch the ACW itch and I could play 6 games in a sitting if needed.


6) Commit the Garde - Napoleonics - considered but discarded options  - C&C:N, Napoleon's Battles, Shako 2 to name a few. Commit the Garde is popular with the group, allows big battles on a small space and gets a result in an afternoon of play.


I will probably play some of the optional games but will not commit to 6 games.

My painting goals are modest this year. I have MANY figures. Of course, more is better but not at the cost of playing games. I plan to add to my 15mm WW2 stuff in small quantity to allow options for Chain of Command and Bolt Action. I bought 40 foot and 24 horse for ECW from Warlord games that I will paint up. I found a Baroque Scenario for Edgehill that looked like fun.

Another goal is to stay focused on adding 15mm and 28mm terrain. Hows this for a New Years Resolution:

12 feet of 28mm fence, stone walls, hedges

4 28mm buildings - for ECW and WW2

4 15mm buildings - for Napoleonics and ACW

Upgrade hills for 4" hexes 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Petty Kings


This week I had the pleasure of attending a local gaming event and participate in a top quality game put on by Ross MacFarlane (Battle Game of the Month Blog). Ross has put on lots of convention games and I invited him to put something on for our local group and give his next con game a test drive. Ross selected his 40mm Romano British vs Barbarians. The rules were written by Ross and were easy to learn and fun to play.

The scenario had a column of supplies trying to break through to a besieged castle. Marauding Huns were lurking in the wings and arrived to randomly to try and intercept the supplies. We had 4 players with Brent as the garrison commander, Martin as the relief column commander opposed by Mike the Barbarian and myself. Each army small contingent was lead by an characterful commander.



Roman escorts


 Wagon loads of goodies!

The Romans had 2 choices of how to approach the castle: longer and more open terrain or a shorter narrow track through a forest. They elected to push through the forest led by the escort commander who was the best fighter on the field.

Table with view of the castle




The Raiders arrived on the left and right table edges. Roman cavalry tried to drive off the infantry but only managed to slow them down. A unit of Hunnic horse archers managed to lead a unit of Roman Horse and Heavy Foot on a goose chase that removed them from their wagon protection role.

Raiders arriving





The garrison spotted their supplies coming in and sortied with their cavalry. Hunnish skirmishers entered the woods and did started looting wagons. The Roman knight defending the wagons found himself unable to catch the nimble skirmishers in the dense woods. Casualties mounted on both sides and the wagon train was being cut up.

Roman horse sortie from the castle




Roman cavalry raced from the castle to the defense of the wagons but were surprised by the appearance of Hunnic horse in their rear. They were caught between infantry and horse and cut to pieces including the garrison commanded getting unhorsed. The wagon train limped into the castle with only one wagon. Luckily for the Romans it was the mead wagon!

Wagon train in trouble!




Monday, 9 January 2017

Baroque

Looking back over the past posts, I see that I am due for a game with my 28mm English Civil War collection. This has been building momentum over the past few months. I purchased a copy of Baroque from Wargames Vault. This is the spinoff from their popular rule set Impetus and Basic Impetus for the Ancient period. I have played a game or two of BI and found it to be fairly fun but it has been five years since this experience.


New Shiny




I also ordered some reinforcements for both armies thanks to a 50% off and free shipping sale from Warlord Games. I ordered enough cavalry for 4 more units and enough foot for 2 more units. This will allow for more flexibility if I want to try an all cavalry or all infantry list, or just play a huge battle. Once painted (hah), I will have 6 Foot and 6 Horse a side.

So I read through the rulebook several times but there is nothing like playing a learning game to really get the hang of the rules. I built 2 600 point armies using the list provided in the back of rules for Early Royalist and Parliamentary forces.

The Royalists had:

4 Galloper Cavalry
4 Pike and Shotte Foot
1 Medium Cannon
1 Dragoon
3 Generals rated Poor/ Average / Expert
one P+M unit had Iron Officers and one Cavalry had Motivated Fighters


The Roundheads had:

4 Trotter Cavalry
4 Pike and Shotte Foot
1 Light Cannon
1 Commanded Shot
1 Clubman Foot that were Unmotivated Fighters
3 Generals rated Poor/ Average / Expert

Basing in this scale takes a little getting used to. Each base is 18x6 cm (7"x2.5"). This means no formation changes. Units are always in line. The rules advice breaking foot into 3 60x60mm squares and horse into 90x60mm. This is what I did to allow for use with other rules (namely Victory Without Quarter). As you can see this also allows units to flex with the hilly terrain. I love the look of the big units too.



Now all I needed was an opponent. Being out in the country on a snowy day I was lucky to find a local volunteer to man the dice for the Royalists.

Major General Eli deploys for battle


The rules for setting up terrain were dispensed with although there are rules for gaining the initiative and setting up terrain to your advantage. The rules do not allow for much terrain and you can expect a fairly open battlefield. This is reflective of the period as generals chose to fight in fairly open terrain. My table had steep hills in both deployment zones and a gentle hill on the flank. There was a river and town on the other flank. I had a forest on my flank and the road was lined with a hedgerow in part. More terrain than I needed but I like to get my scenery on the table when the opportunity arises.

Roundhead Centre


Each of the three generals were assigned a command of certain units. We had an historical set up with the cavalry split on the flanks and the infantry in the center. Each turn is played in phases. Both sides select a general and his command and roll 2d6 for initiative. Leader quality can improve the roll. The winner orders all the units under his command, one at a time. Then both players select another general and roll again until all commands have been activated. Then a new turn starts and all generals and units become eligible for activation again. 


The fun part about these rules is they are very interactive. Units can react to enemy activity by opportunity firing or charging. On turn one I advanced my Pike and Shotte unit to close the range with my muskets. The cavalry opposing me rolled to opportunity charge me and did so successfully. My move was halted as I suddenly was in melee with rabid horse men. In addition, you can "go for it" during movement. After your initial move you can move again. The first move is free and the next and successive moves come with an increasing chance of becoming disordered and halting. As always every action can cause a reaction from your opponent. Units can only react once per phase whether it is successful or not. This means you if your first move results in a reaction you are safe from that unit if you want to continue moving, shoot or charge. Good tactical depth, lots of decision making and fog of war, as you never can be sure if things will go as planned (also very true of the period).

I made labels for units and commanders. M= movement. Each movement is 90 mm or 3.5". Foot have 1 M and Horse 2. VBU is basic combat value. This goes down as you take damage and is also a units # of wounds.. I = Impetus. This is a units ability to do more damage in a charge. Units with 0 Impetus cannot charge. D= Discipline. C= poor, B= Average and A= superior. All the units in my battle were Bs. Discipline is used to do things like react to enemy moves, make extra moves and rally from disorder.

Movement is basic and fairly generous. The large based units are difficult enough to maneuver without adding lots of rules that restrict movement as well. Close order formations are disordered when moving through difficult terrain but are not otherwise slowed. For example, in my battle I my flanking Horse defeated their opposition but took forever to redeploy to exploit their success. Skirmishers, commanded shot, artillery and dragoons can interpenetrate and be interpenetrated by all and horse can interpenetrate horse. P+S will get in each others way when deployed in depth. I like the horse interpenetrating horse rule. This allowed my defeated horse to fall back behind the supporting unit of horse and this seemed a proper historical reflection.

Handy unit labels

Royalists foot and cannon deployed on a steep hill


Shooting is simple enough once you get the hang of it. Roll dice equal to your combat value. Modifiers include -1/hit, -1 per move before firing and -1 for disorder. -1 for disorder applies to any roll you make except rally. P+S in this period shoot at -2d6. The greater the ratio of pike to shot in a unit gives a modifier of -4 (Early Tercios) to -1 (late period P+M).

Hits are on 6s and pairs of 5s. This rule applies to melee as well. If you get any hits this will cause a cohesion check. This check can be wildly random. A unit may be devastated by a single hit or shrug off a devastating volley or melee charge. Fresh units are relatively immune to this but after that watch out! I like to think of it as the vagaries of war and it prevents the game from dragging on too long. Perhaps the units loyalties were not as sound as we assumed or the unit hit some soft ground before making contact or the musketeers had poor powder. The writers have taken certain players concerns into account by offering an option to purchase of up to 3 re rolls of cohesion checks per game.

There are a number of weapons represented from the lowly bow to the mighty heavy cannon. Cavalry tactics of the period are covered with simple rules. Gallopers have high Impetus and must pursue. Trotters get "point blank pistols" for 3d6 damage just before their first combat. Reiters have a chance to shoot a second time to represent Caracole.

A volley from Royalist dragoons




Melee is similar to shooting but generally more decisive. The big difference is that under the right conditions a unit can add it's Impetus to it's combat value. Impetus represents the shock of the charge. This can be nullified by things like pikes vs horse, defended terrain or being caught flat footed. Like shooting, a unit rolls a d6 for each combat value + the impetus value if applicable. The most common modifiers are -1/hit and -1 for disorder. Once again, any hits cause the dreaded cohesion test. The losing side took the most damage and will retreat. Retreat and pursuit distances are randomized. Units with 0 Impetus cannot charge.

P+S vs Horse  




Firefight!



Royalist Horse driving off their opponents


Parliamentary Horse return the favor on the other flank



Disorder and rallying are important aspects of the game. Disorder is easy to get. Any hit by shooting will cause at least disorder. Fighting in a melee causes disorder even if you did not get hit. Failing a subsequent move or moving through terrain can cause disorder. Luckily, all units get a free rally roll at the start of their activation. For average troops this is a 4+. If you blow it, your leader can step in and let you try again but you can do nothing else that activation. It felt like I never made my rally rolls when it was critical but I am sure it was 50% just like the odds allow.


Casualty markers denote disorder. These units are hoping to get the initiative, rally and charge.


When a unit takes hits equal to its basic combat value, it is destroyed/ routed. A unit below half is exhausted and can no longer react. When a unit is exhausted it reduces army morale, when it is routed the effect on army morale is doubled. There is an option to withdraw badly damaged units. Withdrawn units do not count as destroyed. It is hard to do and my opponent and I chose to battle to the death in our game. When a command goes below 1/2 strength, all units take a cohesion test to remain in the fight. If the army goes below half strength, it quits the field. Our battle was close. We were both one unit away from collapse before the Roundheads routed the Foot unit defending the hill for the win. The game played pretty quickly and I will definitely use the rules again. My only complaints are that the writers assigned different values for low and high rolls. Sometimes you want to roll high and sometimes you want to roll low. I spent a long time looking at the rule book to decide if low was good or bad. Another beef is the lack of an index. This is compensated by a thorough table of contents. I have never liked that the unit stats and titles are not translated from Italian. For instance, VBU stands for Basic Combat Value, why not call it BCV??? Light Cav are CL and not LC etc. These are minor quibbles for an otherwise solid rules that gave a fun game in a reasonable amount of time. Two thumbs up!


Final battle in the center