Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Quick Update...

Not a Lot - But still here...

Major works in the house, end of the season fighting, two weeks of Autumnal sickness/bugs, unpleasant shoulder pain/issues, paid work getting in the way of life, and a serious remodeling of my "Play Room" - inc. new shelving and a new cupboard to store my board games - apparently some sixty or so when I count them (oh dear... Mainly SPI, AH, West End Gamed, GDW etc. etc.  Partial pic.) - have left little time for figure activity..






















Have been musing over/dipping into/preparing for/telling myself off over:

The (delayed) completion of the Parthians.

Gathering figure proxies for Buffy the Board game (Yes. I know..).

Working on using cards for campaign "exploration" systems (after playing "Bear Valley" - which comes with some useful, pretty cards. I may design some of my own, then Tally Ho for the printers).



Inspired by  a few games of "Comrade Korba" (all the fun of the inner circle of Stalinist Russia); thinking about adapting (aka stealing) the idea for card-driven "politics" to act as a background for Ancient/Medieval figure/map campaigns...

  


A few games of SPI's PRESTAGS (mainly "Chariot" and "Viking") have helped during the Scutari Hospital phase of the last few weeks, as have some jolly, old films (Pic.  Yes, that IS ian Carmichael in WW2 German kit. Movie included Richard Attenborough, Dennis price and Christopher Lee in same) and 1980s TV...



The gang will be having a "Colditz" games evening at the weekend..

Oh, and I had a birthday (shudder).. 




The final plan for the Play Room is to have a permanent "Campaign Table" which can be left set up while still leaving space for the "Fighting table". THEN the fun can restart....

Watch this space... I hope to be back in the solo saddle proper by the end of the month....

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Displacement Activity.....

Interim Post pending progress.....


Life, work, fighting, a school gig, boiler-man wrangling, painting and displacement activity have prevailed over game play the last few weeks I'm afraid...


Meanwhile:


SOME of my Parthians got completed.



The rest are getting there....


I have been mulling over a solo card-led "exploration" game for my next project (once Judea has been subdued) and sketching some campaign maps.


Have also been experimenting with the "Dettol paint removal system" (to strip some of my 40+yo Airfix Romans). Yep; it works....


Discovering the excellent 1970s London Weekend Television "Enemy At The Door" online (a drama about the WW2 German occupation of Guernsey - and yes, it is "that guy from Hi, Di Hi") has resulted in me sitting down in front of the PC and engaging in some simple "non-Parthian" painting and crafting activity (painting horses stresses me out - it's the tack) resulting in a whole slew of weird and "wonderful" (?) oddments....








What the actual...???  Somewhere my "maintenance of the aim" has gone seriously astray..

I DID write more above about each pic. - but Blogger is so utterly awful (I have just spent an hour vainly trying to get rid of the unwanted "text highlight" on blocks of text, following "online advice" - ho, ho, ho... retyping, retyping etc. etc. then re-spacing etc. etc. ) I've given up and deleted the lot.... I wish I'd chosen another "platform".. Ho hum....


The next couple of weeks will be more boiler-wrangling, work and Battle of Hastings, but will post again IF I can bring myself to use Blogger again.......  

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Holding Post.....

A Busy Summer....

No recent posts due to work, the reenactment Fighting Season, catching up on some reading, board-game buying, DIY plumbing, heating engineer wrangling and painting getting in the way of playing.

Oh, and guess which idiot who really, really HATES painting horses decided he ought to have some Syrian mounted archer foederati-cum-Parthians - THEN had a guilt-trip over the lead n' plastic-mountain and a load of partially-completed bods and lost a week in "sorting them out in order" and re-boxing (I have gone over to storing my bods in large, Ebay-bought, self-assembly pizza boxes) displacement activity......
Some 25mm Sci-fi bods and more 1/72 North African pirate/badmash types finally finished on the painting front. Some Parthio-Armenio-Syrian types started..  




A bit of progress on the Judean Campaign (with Galilee more or less taken by the Romans), but no battles different enough to be worth writing-up.

Once I get the back broken on the painting I'll get back on the dice....

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

To The Caves....!!!

The Battle of Arbela

As we left it the Romans were approaching Mount Arbel, and the fortified caves thereof...

An interesting little fight ensued, with Rebel missile troops holed up in the fortifications and their (token activated) close-combat supports springing out from caves and spider holes..... 




I was fighting the Romans, starting with only five active cohorts (bows, slings and two legion cohorts) and with lots of (token activated) enemy springing out from the caves and a harassing fire of dropping shots from the cliffs.

Things were looking potentially nasty - until the First Cohort and Vespi himself (token prompted) arrived on the scene. This helped, and there was some hard fighting.



Then, bad news from the Roman point of view, the (token activated) Marching Column started arriving and things began to get cluttered. What I did NOT want was damage to the Column.




With my perimeter being restricted and the column coming on I was forced to activate two Column Cohorts (so lost points) to make a "beachhead" as, bit by bit, all 8,000 of the hostiles came out to play... 




On the left flanks the stalwarts of the First Cohort, though heavily outnumbered, saw off several fierce, but uncoordinated attacks at minimal cost, and effectively broke the moral of this division of the enemy for the rest of the game (had the Rebels known it was the considerable amount of disruption/Shock they had themselves inflicted on the First Cohort which prevented that unit from launching counter attacks they might have felt a little happier with themselves; they were so upset they didn't even have the heart to throw stones).




The centre developed into a shooting match between the enemy javelin men and the Roman slingers and bows. Dropping shots from the cliffs caused some issues - but also inflicted some Blue on Blue casualties on the Rebel javelins.




The climax of the battle came with three hammer-blow charges from the two leading cohorts against the main body of the enemy (about 3,500) on the Roman right. 




Three times in three moves they charged, breaking one Rebel unit and pushing back others (though taking casualties) until shock and weariness broke the Rebel Army Morale...

And not before time; to the rear things were getting cluttered...




Without cavalry on the field there was no pursuit and the vast majority of the enemy (including their lightly wounded) withdrew to their caves to fight another day..

NOT a decisive victory, but enough of one to have cleared the field, allowed the column to pass, and a camp and artillery forward station to be established.

A fun game, but one which again reinforced the Rebels' need NOT to get drawn into the Romans' kind of fight...





Day Two:

The Romans have been busy, erecting some basic fortifications and setting up their artillery. 




Siege engines have to score a hit (on walls, for the heavy pieces, on men for the lighter) as usual. Men get no saving throws if hit. Wall sections suffer 1x6D damage and will take 20 hit points before collapsing. 




A Roman flanking force was despatched overnight to attack the enemy position from the easy approaches to the south. Only the Gods know where THAT force has got to and when/if it will arrive (token & dice driven)...

Enemy missile troops in the fortifications are limited to "dropping shots" into the Roman siege works. Enemy close-combat troops can try to run interference.

Initially the battle started as a missile v artillery one, with minimal casualties on both sides, but some damage to the walls. But then the main "steamroller" of enemy close combat troops assaulted the Roman fortifications.





The walls are low, so I allowed for the attackers "boosting" fellows up the walls (2 front rankers "boost" a rear-ranker). Initially, however, the first wall was fully manned, so that every "boosted" guy had two defenders to beat before he could get a foothold. 





Before any serious advantage could be gained, however, pila volleys and dropping-shots from the Roman bows caused casualties and disruption...

There was some stiff fighting, but THEN, to make matters worse for the Rebels, two (token provoked) cohorts "emerged" from an off-table gate and hammered into the Rebel flank, pushing it back.

But the Rebels rallied; there was a lot of heavy melee at the walls, with the attackers gaining a foothold on the ramparts, causing half of the ballista crews to scuttle for safety (I allowed the rebels a spiking the guns type "cutting the gut" throw for each move they were in possession of an artillery piece without fighting. 1x6D. Throw of a 5 or 6 and the piece was disabled). Five moves in, things were looking dicey for the Romans... 




However, with a surge both inside and outside the ramparts, the Romans pushed back a large body of Rebels and sandwiched another against the eastern ramparts. With close gladius work Rebel losses mounted. A cohort left the safety of the fortifications and, despite taking hits from the archers and slingers on the crags, threatened the enemy skirmishers on the western side of the fort, while another unit came in from off-table to hit them in a pincer movement. 




Rebel army morale was starting to drop now. Almost all of the units that had been in close combat had by now been forced to withdraw at some stage, the body of skirmishes got caught by the legionaries on the west side of the fort, and as the Romans regained control of the ramparts the units being sandwiched panicked. Suddenly it was over - leaving their wounded the Judeans fled back to the caves.




Day Three:


The following day it was the Romans' turn to be active.



Bombardment overnight and through the day laid low much of the defensive walling. There was little the defenders could do in reply, with their close-combat troops up on the plateau after the Romans had driven them from the field and the lower, undefended caves the day before...

All the rebels could do was watch, and send down harassing fire..



The Roman assault (in testudo, supported by artillery, sling and bows) was pretty much a formality.  Once the legionaries got among the caves it was all over....




The Roman outflanking force never appeared (SOMEONE will be getting a rocket from Vespasian) so much of the garrison, having stood idle, while the Roman war machine "got tore in" to their colleagues below, scuttled away safely; but the position fell and the caches of arms and matériel destroyed.

Job done.  On to the next town.....




Technical Note:


The "will-they-won't-they" lottery of the Rebels emerging from the caves/the Roman flanking force added some fun, and I have been messing around with customising Activation Tokens, rather than limiting myself to the vanilla Sharp Practice 2 ones.

This is to both add clarity during the game (yes, I did get my unit commanders mixed up a couple of times - when more than 8 sub-commanders a side are running about it gets messy) and to try to get away from the piecemeal activation - which works well with skirmishes and detached units, but not necessarily with large battles where battle-lines should be the norm. As always my
rules are a work in progress. As always I am reinventing the wheel....

Comments, queries, thought or criticism always welcome.... 


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Action, Accounting and Assessing Risk....

The Campaigning Continues:

Have been doing some pre-battle "bookkeeping" for the ongoing campaign......
One of the things about running a campaign (as opposed to gaming one-off fights) is the "shock" of how QUICKLY your army gets whittled away - not so much in battle, which one expects, but with the allocating of troops to protect lines of communication, garrisoning salient points and the drip-drip-drip of desertions (and SO far I've managed to keep my guys fed & watered.....).



Apropos; I was looking through the pre-battle "Order of Battle" for Burgoyne's army at Saratoga the other week (like you do..) and was (yet again) stuck by the comparison with the "paper strength" of his regiments and the réalité of the "effective strength"... These ranged from an average of just over half the paper strength to just over a quarter (!!!) in one case....


My legions haven't degraded THAT much (yet), but I'm watching the figures - and the relatively small portion of the map "dealt with" so far - and thinking Ummm..........


Meanwhile, back on the map....




Sepporis has fallen after a only week's seige (Yielded on terms. We can still afford to be generous). The next week is taken up with:


A cavalry probe towards (hostile, fortified) Arbela, which comes face to face with a blocking force - and swiftly comes scurrying home without engaging (Clever boys..).

Little Garis turning out to be friendly - but the settlement will need a garrison (no pun intended) to keep it safe from raids from Arbela.
More probing.. On the road to (as it turn out, hostile, fortified) Tiberias the patrol of horse are ambushed... Except where...? The nearer one gets, the flatter the country.... Help me Mr. Google....





There is an indecisive skirmish (the enemy have no horse and the ground is a bit "Meh"...).
The above is followed by a day or two of Strategic thinking (Council of War), loss assessment, redistribution of garrisons etc....

A decision has been reached that Tiberias - with its direct road connections to garrisoned Scythopolis and Garis, plus the threat it poses to friendly Pella, Gadera and Hippias - HAS to be the next target.

This being so, a plan to march a legion and supports force via Ptolemais to Bersabe to push into Galilee from the north, in concert with the two legion push from the south, in order to speed things along, has been put on hold....

One of the frustrations of campaigning... I turned my back for a moment while sorting a logistic issue and having a "Council of War" and raiders from the "soon to be besieged" Tiberias raided friendly Pella. THEN, once I got them moving, my columns ran into bad weather before they got any further in closing down this danger point... Frustrating, yes; but "real".... Chess this ain't..

The army moves. besieging Tiberias (another 8 days lost) then on to Tarichaeae (another nine days). Losses are minimal but keeping my army together is eating up the weeks.
Having taken Tiberias and Tarichaeae the army moves to Beersabe, which surrendered after three days.
Here is the balance problem: a large army can scare the enemy into surrender or subdue a town by sheer presence/numbers in a siege situation. However, this will always take at least a week (plus clear up). I can deal with more towns at a time by splitting my force, but each individual siege will likely take longer, use more supplies, leave those columns more vulnerable to ambush and could result in losses in manpower I cannot afford... Hmmm.....


Titus and the Vth have been left at Beesave. Meanwhile, Vespasian and the rest of the army retrace their steps, to Tarichaeae, then move to deal with hostile, fortified Arbela. An ambush is triggered..... 


Again, I get Google Maps up and running. The short distances involved flummox me once more...The approach from the Sea of G. is flatish - until it starts rising to the mounts, where there is a suitable looking "ambush me" gully..








However, thanks to this wonderful resource (Streeview & the 3D tool), I can see where the sources (which are so bloody vague sometimes) suddenly fit the geography...



"Arbela" seems to cover the mount itself and possibly the nearby jebel, both of which look riddled with caves, as described/hinted at in some sources, which Josephus seemingly protected with walls..





Given the small distances involved, assuming I beat off the ambush, this might turn into an interesting a "follow-up and assault" on the table, rather than a siege. Looks have to dug out me old cork bits for this one...




Meanwhile: From the Annual Annals of
Crun the Elder:

"And Vespasian, with all his arméd might, did march from Tarichaeae even unto Arbela, and on first sighting this fell hold of his enemies gathered unto himself his Legates and spoke unto them, saying  "What the frick..??!! I was expecting a town, not a bloody rock..."



Honestly, sometimes being ambushed en route is a positive relief...




Friday, 14 June 2019

Some Minor Irritations...

The Roman Advance Continues...
More movement in the "This Ain't Judea" campaign. Titus and his father had combined their two forces and moved, via the Camp near Mount Tabor, to the already-conquered Japha. Here we assessed the Butchers Bill from the Japha fight.

Legionaries of the Vth: 140 dead, 240 wounded, 220 light wounded. I tribune wounded.

20 African Horse dead. 20 wounded, 40 light wounded.
20 Gallic cav. dead 60 wounded 60 light wounded.
Gallic Infantry "The Blues": 100 dead 160 wounded 140 lightly wounded. Prefect dead
40 Syrian ("The Yellows") archers wounded. Prefect wounded.






Resting here overnight they reinforce the garrison before moving the short distance to Sepporis (one of the things that struck one when drawing up the map was the relatively "tiny" distances involved - albeit some being over rough ground. As Twain pointed out ". Palestine is only from forty to sixty miles wide. The State of Missouri could be split into three Palestines, and there would then be enough material left for part of another — possibly a whole one").

On approaching the settlement it seems as if, unlike historical Sepporis, new fortification works have taken place and the town is in arms.  The “Sortie” test shows that the garrison will try a sortie, attempting to block the Roman advance. A futile gesture perhaps, given their numbers (about 3,000 - and almost all lights), but there we are - if they had stayed put the town might have just surrendered. 



Although  Mr. Google indicates the approach to Sepporis looks pretty open once you get there, from street view there still seem to be a couple of places on the road from Japha/Nazareth where a blocking action would be feasible.  However, with the “Sally Party” being quite small,  and with the full Roman force (less the garrisons) coming up the road, this would not be a major problem for the Romans. 

Battle of the Sepporis Road


This time I gave myself the job of playing the Judeans, deploying my lads on the high ground. With only two close combat units (one light, one medium) of about 400 men each if it came to close quarters I had no illusions about the result. There were some advantages in my favour - the slope and broken ground fronting my position. 




I guessed that if the enemy did what they did last time (when I was in charge - oops..) the Rebels should at least have been able to maul their horse and missile troops again before the legions swept me off the table...

Enemy Victory conditions: to break me (causing maximum casualties) or, failing that, push though my army to clear the way for its baggage train (currently off table) within ten moves.




My job: to delay or prevent the enemy clearing a path for the baggage within those ten moves, to kill more of the enemy than they kill of mine and to end the game with at least 60% of my force alive, even if not on the field (i.e. withdrawn or broken units still count in my favour 'cos they would run back to the town).




As it panned-out the Romans did not mess about. They threw eight line cohorts and the First Cohort of Xth, plus a cavalry regiment and three cohorts of skirmishers at my 3,000 bods.

Initially they pushed out a skirmish line, but within a couple of moves rushed  their Line Cohorts forwards in pairs in a Frontal Attack, pushing though their skirmishers and up the slopes to my guys.
My missile fire cause a lot of discomfort and, as their lead units clambered up the ridge even my close combat guys managed to slow them for a couple of moves.
By move seven, however, they were right up among my guys, most were already skedaddling, and by the end of move eight their cavalry - which had kept out of the way of missiles for most of the game, charged up, taking down my Commander (captured wounded) and his staff.


That was that as far as my lads where concerned, and my last units broke and ran..


A good number of my guys got away, but casualties were bad - not least because the seriously wounded were left on the field; 639 dead/lost, 240 walking wounded.





The majority of my casualties came from enemy missiles and two disastrous pila volleys at move eight which broke my left wing, with only about 320 lost to close combat. 

Romans:

Legionaries: 80 seriously wounded,  162 lightly wounded
Spanish Slings: 40 slingers dead. 120 lightly wounded.
"The Reds" Cavalry: 60 cavalry. 40 wounded, 20 lightly wounded.
Syrian "Yellow" archers: 20 lightly wounded.




Technical Stuff;
My House Rules use Random Activation (with tokens as per Sharp Practice and other similar rules systems), so we already have an element of chance.

However, for this skirmish I decided that, once both sides were set up, I would use the turn of my generic Tactical Card deck (like AH's "Caesar's Legions"/"1776" card deck)  to see what the enemy plan was, do once I had written out my own orders (which I could only change within my commander's command range or by using runners bearing new instructions).

As always, I was adapting, experimenting and tweaking, so I introduced an "Army" token for each army. This allowed the side whose token was drawn to consider all of its units activated for that move. Roman sub-commanders diced to see if they would actually move/attack, or use this activation to remove Shock..   Another "new convention" for this game was that after turn five I added a "feint" token to the Token Mix. If this token was pulled the enemy MAY have fooled me - I would test on the Feint Table to see if their "revealed tactical plan" is just be a feint, and, if so, where their real attack is coming in from...


 


I also tried out a "pinned" rule for (in this case Roman) heavily armoured/shielded infantry coming under intense, close range missile fire.

Any such unit receiving more than five Shock points/casualties from missile fire from within 12" in any single "volley" had to test for morale.

If they failed this test they were deemed to have halted and formed up close, in order to protect themselves from the missiles - and hence be deemed "pinned".

Next move, if still taking hits, they must test again to see if they break out of this "pinning"; either moving normally or, if the test is only just successful, moving as if in testudo - i.e. slowly.




(Rationale: I was unhappy with the Romans just marching on in the face of rapid, effective enemy fire, and thinking in particular about Roman Command teams - and their general lack of large shields. Based on my own experiences of being in a unit sheltering from incoming arrows etc. when equipped with a large shield; your vision is restricted, hearing orders is difficult and there is a reluctance to expose yourself. In addition, if the centurions, standard bearers & musicians have to hunker down behind the shields of their men because of heavy fire - their own shields being inadequate - this will have an impact on command & control).

This seemed to work quite well. 




Aftermath;


The Sepporis garrison fled back home, the Romans in hot pursuit. An offer of surrender (unconditional) was refused, and the Romans set up a Marching Camp and prepared to besiege the town.

What with detached garrisons, wounded and desertions, despite their victories in the field, the Roman force does seem to be being whittled away at an alarming rate. Watch this space... 



Quick Update...

Not a Lot - But still here.. . Major works in the house, end of the season fighting, two weeks of Autumnal sickness/bugs, unpleasant shoul...