Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book infusion

Well, the holidays are over and we are back at work, but what a fine set of holidays it was. Some cracking weather, six games played, one umpired, and good family time as well.

Hobbywise there is some painting to do but for the moment I need to be getting my work face back on.

Fortunately, the Christmas period brought in some good reading material, which I will smuggle in to read on short breaks and at lunchtimes.

Wargaming books.

Two I'd been looking out for and one that was opportunistic. These were purchased from a chap on TMP, and were kindly brought over from the USA for me by a friend.



Charge has real nostalgia value for me; I still remember borrowing it from the public library as a kid, being awed by the battle reports, writing out various sections by hand, and buying coloured pins and a cork board to play games on of my own.

WRG books.



These two were purchased via Abe Books following a tip off from Mike of Satrap Miniatures blog. I've been wanting these for yonks and was very happy to find them in good condition and at a price I could justify to myself.

Ospreys and a history.



I'd grabbed these (mostly) for my 100 Years War project before I found the WRG books. I probably wouldn't have got so many of them if I'd done things the other way around, but these will be quite useful, so I'm glad things worked out as they did. I might have to look at picking up a couple more of Seward's offerings - this one is almost finished already!

So, time to hit the books...



Monday, January 9, 2017

Five minute Punic War rules.

A friend and ex-workmate now living in the States has been over here visiting friends and in-laws for the last couple of weeks and having a good catch up. As it happens, since he last left Japan he has become a genuine, card-carrying wargamer, and was thus eager to hook up for a game of something. We hastily arranged that he and whoever else was interested could come over to the school yesterday after classes finished and I would have something organised to play.

Everything was a bit last minute, and as I wasn't quite sure how many people might turn up I prepared an easily-expandable Naval Thunder game and also readied my Dark Age figures just in case Dux Bellorum seemed like a better fit.

Naturally, such prep as I had done all went out the window when the two who turned up announced a firm desire to play Romans against Carthaginians!

Being caught short, I had to come up with rules off the top of my head. This is what I went with.

GROWN SLIGHTLY BALD: five minute Punic War rules.


Turn order.


Dice for initiative. Both sides roll a d6. Highest score chooses who moves first this turn. Ties are won by the Carthaginian player.

Active player moves and/or fights, one unit at a time. Two units activate for free, but from the third unit onwards player must roll 1 or better on a d10 (faces read 0-9, not 1-10) to activate, with the number needed increasing by 1 for such subsequent successful activation. Units may only be activated once per turn. When an activation roll is failed, play passes to the other player.

And repeat.

Movement. 


Units move in unit-width increments (8cms for my 15mm figures). Heavy infantry move 1, medium infantry, elephants and light infantry 2, heavy cavalry 3, light cavalry 4. May pivot up to 45 degrees before moving an increment. Pivots greater than 45 degrees use up a full unit width of movement.

Light troops can pivot as much as they like with no penalty; elephants use up a unit width if they pivot at all.

Light troops can move through other friendly troops if there is room for them to move through fully, but cannot be moved through themselves except by other lights.

Light troops can disengage from melee (one unit width is used to about face, the rest to move away from the melee) but cannot shoot or melee again on that turn. Heavy cavalry can disengage from combat with infantry in the same way.

Units cannot disengage if they are sandwiched by attacks to front and rear, or on both flanks.

Units attacked in flank can turn to face on their turn if not already engaged to their front.

Hit points.


Units have 4 bases, each with 4 hit points (lights have 4 bases each worth 2 hit points). When a base is lost, roll for morale. On a 5 or 6 another base is removed (4,5,6 for last base or if fighting elephants). Elephants only have one base and only take 4 hits. When all bases are gone, a victory star is given to the enemy.

Shooting.


Only medium infantry and lights can shoot. Range is 1 unit width. Roll 2 dice, hitting on 6s. Must have line of sight, and distance is measured from centre front of unit. Lights may shoot before or after movement; light cavalry may pause  to shoot during movement and then continue movement.

Melee.


Units fight to their front, and only on their own turn.

Heavy infantry roll 4 dice.
Medium infantry, allied infantry, heavy cavalry roll 3 dice.
Light infantry and light cavalry roll 2 dice.
Elephants roll the same number of dice as their opponents.

Hits are scored on rolls as given below.



Flank attacks: units attacking flank or rear add 1 die; heavy cavalry add 2 dice.
Elephant terror: elephants that roll and hit on a 4 count that hit and get to roll it again as well.
Elephant rampage: when an elephant takes a hit, all units within 1 unit width must roll 1d6. On a 6, they also take a hit.

If playing again I would have heavy cavalry attacking heavy infantry in flank or rear also count 5s as a hit. 

Units which charge into melee and destroy their opponents immediately may use any remaining movement to contact and fight a second melee if desired.

Generals.


Both sides have one general, and generals must be attached to a unit. General adds 1 to melee rolls, but takes a 2d6 leader death test if his unit is hit, dying on a double 6. Only roll once per melee for leader death. A dead general counts as a victory star for the enemy. If a general's unit is destroyed while he is attached to it, the general is counted as killed as well.

Generals may 'teleport' to another unit in their army but may not add combat bonuses in the same turn they move.

Terrain.


Units in hills or woods or meleeing into hills or woods use 2 dice maximum, but add extra for flanking or generals as normal.

Victory.


When you have 50% of the enemy unit total in victory stars, you win.

Sample Armies.


Rome: 4 units heavy infantry, 4 units, allied infantry, 2 units light infantry, 2 units heavy cavalry, 1 general.

Carthage: 2 units heavy infantry, 3 units medium infantry, 2 units light infantry, 1 unit elephants, 2 units heavy cavalry, 1 unit light cavalry, 1 general.

Deployment.


Put a screen down the middle of the table (table for our 15mm game was 150cmx90cm). Players deploy their armies secretly, up to 1 foot in from their respective board edges. When armies are revealed, Carthaginian player may have two units swap places if desired.

The game.


Slightly confused deployments!

Early game.

Late game chaos - units everywhere mixed up!

Both players enjoyed themselves and it was very hard fought. Carthage pulled away from a 4-4 victory star deadlock to finally win 6-4 (7-4 in fact, because Rome lost her general as well in the concluding melee).

The rules relied heavily on concepts from Neil Thomas's and the Commands and Colors: Ancients rules, but with a couple of little Prufrockian touches too. For something dreamed up and explained on the spot in real time, I was quite proud of them!





Monday, January 2, 2017

Lost Battles campaign day with Luke

Just before New Year Luke U-S popped down from his fastness in Osaka for a day of Lost Battles (his accounts are here and here and should be read as more comprehensive than mine). A little three-battle campaign was on the cards, in which his successor state would combat mine in an attempt to wrest control of a certain neutral territory. Whoever controlled this territory (and its trade routes) after the third game would win the war.

Battle of the Uexine Plains, 286 BC.


In our opening engagement the Sarlukid king crushed the Aronaics with a classic open-flank envelopment. The Sarlukid lancers defeated mine and then turned inwards to catch the phalanx in the flank and inflict a major defeat.

The fight in the centre was extremely close, and it was mainly due to the inspirational leadership of Sarlukis I that the line held long enough for the horse to fall upon the Aronaic flank.

The Aronaic right wing attempts to hold off the charge of Sarlukis I.


It was clear that the Sarlukids had a distinct advantage in horse, and that their Indian elephants were superior to the Aronaic breeds. It was also noted that the Aronaic phalanx could be relied upon to fight well provided that its flanks were secure.

Basic scheme of the battle: Sarlukids red; Aronaics blue.

Aroxus River, 274 BC.


Having added Uexine to their burgeoning empire, the Sarlukids bent to the task of embedding their rule. For ten years there was peace, but the death of Sarlukis I in an eating contest saw his headstrong son Sarlukis II assume the throne and take war into Aronaic territory.

Induced to fight on unfriendly terrain, Sarlukis II met the Aronaic army on the Aroxus River. Facing much improved cavalry and on ground which protected the Aronaic flanks, Sarlukis was forced to rely upon the elephant corps and his personal bravery to combat the superior Aronaic phalanx. The elephants did terrible damage, but the guard infantry of Arochus III Philomater held firm, the centre drove off the enemy and turned onto the Sarlukid right, Sarlukis was killed at the head of his cavalry, and eventually the northerners gave way.

The scene just prior to the surrounded Sarlukid left giving way.


Although Arochus was victorious, his casualties were heavy.

The shape of the battle: Sarlukids top; Aronaics bottom.


Sarkid Corridor, 262 BC.


Pride and prejudice made further attempts on Uexine inevitable, but it was not until 262 BC that Arochus III was able to spare the troops and treasure required to renew the war.

As it was, the aging king was soon met by his Sarlukid counterpart, Dylachius I, and brought to battle in unseasonably dry and parched conditions. Dylachius had trained more elephants and entrusted command of the lancers to his brother Dymenes. For his part, Arochus recruited more light cavalry and left most of his elephants at home.

On the day of battle Dylachius deployed first out of his camp. Arochus was thus able to react to the Sarlukid dispositions and ensure parity or superiority in key areas of the line. The kings deployed opposite each other, Dylachius with his household cavalry, Arochus with his guard phalangites, and it was here that the battle would be most fiercely contested.

Deployment. Sarlukids top; Aronaics bottom.


Dymenes led the right wing, but although his cavalry force was large, he could not bring all his troops to bear at once. Opposing him was the Aronaic veteran cavalry who, being a smaller and more select force, could better utilise their fighting capacity.

View from the Sarlukid left.


The fighting when battle commenced was again furious. The Indian elephants gave the advantage to the Sarlukids initially, but once the Aronaic veteran cavalry overcame Dymenes the battle swung in favour of Arochus. Dust and confusion allowed timely retreats and also concealed the progress of the Aronaic cavalry towards the enemy camp until it was almost too late. Seeing the banners of the enemy approaching, Dylachius himself was forced to come out of the front line (which he had been heroically propping up with successful rallies) to fend off the attack, but his troops were swept away - and him with them - to decide the affair.

Again, the Sarlukid elephants almost did enough to win the day, but the defeat of Dymenes, an unexpected breakdown in Sarlukid morale and the vagaries of the weather were too much to overcome.

It is said that after the third battle an agreement between the two kings granted the Aronaics the province of Uexine in return for the recipe for a particularly good beer. Peace was declared in perpetuity, and the result was a happy one for all concerned.

Many thanks to Luke for a great day of gaming. The battles were all incredibly close and both sides were often just a bad morale roll away from disaster, right up until the final decisive attack. Luke's play is always strong but in trying to find ways to counteract my phalanx (which was very effective in all three battles, elephant worries notwithstanding) he perhaps overly weakened his cavalry arm in the final battle, which meant he did not quite have the quality in horse he needed to carry the flank and ensure the win. His use of Indian elephants was impeccable, and I lost count of the number of times they caused double hits on my poor phalangites. Something for me to learn from there, I think. I was jittery all day after the mauling my personal morale took in the first game, and it never quite recovered. I'm still seeing those elephants in my sleep, just about!

It was a fantastic way to finish the hobby year, and I was quite pleasantly worn out by the end of it. Luke is shifting to a more spacious house in the near future, so our next game will hopefully take place in a new, shiny and fully equipped wargaming den!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Denmark Strait

Today saw a spot of naval action as Pat H. made the trip down to house Prufrock for a day of gaming. First up was the boardgame Flying Colors, in which Pat gave me an absolute thrashing at the Dogger Bank, 1781. He broke my line, killed my admiral, sank two of my ships and utterly demolished my poor Dutch. I think I need to work on my tactics!

For the second game we tried out Naval Thunder, employing some newly launched vessels from out of the Navwar yards.

Prinz Eugen and Bismarck observe the enemy.

Long range shot from Bismarck immediately disabled Hood's main turret forward, which gave rise to hopes of a quick ending, but Hood was made of stern stuff today. Events soon settled into a routine: Hood and Prince of Wales would bracket Bismarck with shell; the German monster would pound Hood; her assistant Prinz Eugen would worry Prince of Wales.


Hood and Prince of Wales under fire.

As flood and engine damage slowed Hood down, she switched her fire to Prinz Eugen.

Prinz Eugen herself caused an ammunition explosion on Prince of Wales with a lucky shot.

Prince of Wales fighting fires.

Hood then returned the favour, setting Prinz Eugen temporarily ablaze.

Prinz Eugen gets a taste of her own medicine.

A the ranges close, Prince of Wales' fire on Bismarck begins to find its mark more regularly. There is a bridge hit; flooding; explosions in secondary armament. Hood abruptly turns away from the fight, but even so Bismarck is forced to switch fire from the Hood to give Prince of Wales something to think about.



Both German ships continue to fire on Hood. Finally, she sinks beneath the waves. But Prince of Wales has used this time to absolutely pound Bismarck.


Last sighting of the valiant Hood.

Prince of Wales is now on her own, but it may not matter: Bismarck is in difficulty. She is flooded, on fire, and a main gun turret is out of action.


Prince of Wales has Bismarck's range.

Bismark attempts to run, but, increasingly waterlogged, it becomes apparent that she must sink Prince of Wales or be sunk herself. Accordingly, she turns back to the fight. Meantime, Prinz Eugen, who has been attempting with some success to distract Prince of Wales, closes to torpedo range.

Bismarck survives another barrage of hits, but Prince of Wales must be close to her limit as well.

Eugen fires and awaits the results of her handiwork.

Torpedoes away...

The crew of Bismarck holds its collective breath...

And the torpedo strikes. Prince of Wales breaks in two!

The Germans have won the day, but it has been a painful fight, and there is a lot of work needed to stabilise Bismarck for the necessary run back to safety and repair. She is just ten hull points off sinking; another broadside would likely have been the end of her. Prinz Eugen is hurt but in comparatively good shape. It will be a long journey home, and they will be the hunted....


****


Flying Colors I already know and like, but I thought Naval Thunder gave a cracking game. It is fairly fast moving, and although it took a while to get through the turns, it was a first game, and the ships involved were tough old nuts to crack. I'm very keen to get more ships painted for this, and will need to figure out the rules a little better (I've already found a couple of critical things we (more likely I) did wrong, and once I've done this I'll probably do a fuller review.

It was a rush to get the ships finished in time (and the basing is still of the temporary variety), but necessity is the mother of invention, and the urgency helped me to get past my 1/3000 painters block and just get on with it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Caesar at Munda

And now to a battle report. Munda, Caesar's last victory, was the scenario. As usual, the rules used were Lost Battles, but I did tweak the scenario slightly.

Caesar's account gives the impression that he was trying to tempt the Pompeians to come down off their hill onto the plain, while the Pompeians for their part were trying to induce Caesar to attack them in their hilltop position.

To reflect the tension over this, I would dice each turn until one side gave in and advanced. I also decided to dice for other potentially critical moves, such as the timing of cavalry charges on the wings.

Finally, I downgraded Caesar from a brilliant general to an inspiration one because he didn't seem to do anything particularly tricky at Munda except for nearly lose. The two armies were therefore very closely matched, with Caesar's just superior at a fighting value of 90 versus the 83 of Pompeius Jr. and Labienus.


Turn 1: 


Deployment, as described by Phil Sabin in Strategos II. Caesar has all-veteran legions; Gnaeus and Labienus have a mixture of average and veteran. Caesar has the edge in cavalry, but the Pompeians the edge in position.




Turn 2: 


Gnaeus adjusts the positioning of his wings, but does not advance off the heights. Bogud takes his Numidians to the far right wing. Caesar brings all the troops forward, with unrulier elements shouting at their opponents to come on down and fight.


"Come down here and fight!"

"How about you come HERE and fight!"

Turn 3: 


Gnaeus and his men remain on the hill. Caesar's also remain in place, continuing to indulge in 'banter' with the enemy.



Turn 4: 


They've had enough. Gnaeus senses the dissatisfaction in his ranks and brings his men down off the hill. The cavalry wings remain in place with one legion to reinforce the right flank and another to stay on the hill and support the left.



Caesar gleefully attacks, and a third of the Pompeian legions are spent in the first onslaught.


Turn 5: 


The Pompeians recover from the first attack and strike strongly at the Caesarian centre. Elsewhere, however, they make no progress.

Caesar hits Gnaeus' command again, putting him in a precarious position and in need of reinforcement. On the right, Bogud advances with his horse. Although the attack is against Caesar's better judgement (a 6 is rolled in answer to my 'will he or won't he?' question), he drives off the light infantry, so the great man is not unhappy.



Turn 6: 


The Spanish cavalry take the attack to Bogud, hitting the Numidians in a powerful countercharge. Disaster is avoided only by Bogud's personal intervention. Gnaeus, given the fragility of his position, pulls his command back onto the hill. Not only will it buy time and space, but it will break up the continuity of Caesar's infantry line and so prevent him from being able to easily relocate reserve legions to needy areas.

Caesar follows up, but is forced to leave one legion behind as a reserve. The fighting continues along the line.



Turn 7: 


The cavalry strikes Bogud again. Once more he rallies, but the attack on that wing is proving to be a drain on Caesarian resources. In the centre, the Pompeians push, and, catching the veterans at a bad moment, maul them badly. One unit shatters, and Caesar is obliged to find reserves for two places at once.



Turn 8: 


Inspired by the success of the centre, Gnaeus' command also falls upon the enemy with renewed vigour. Another unit is shattered in the centre before the reinforcements can move into line, and Caesar is now under genuine pressure. Bogud is again hit, but this time cannot rally his men, and they too are now in a precarious state.

The veteran legionaries of Caesar's centre-left restore calm by shattering a unit under Labienus' command. Seeing this, and knowing that the Pompeians have weakened their right to strengthen the centre, the Gallic cavalry of the left judges it an opportune moment to engage. An all-out-attack sees them clear the light infantry from the foward slopes of the hill, but it is harder going against the Spanish cavalry.



Turn 9: 


Following the loss of his lead unit (and the example of Gnaeus), Labienus also pulls his command back onto the hill. On the opposite end of the infantry line Gnaeus scores another hit against Caesar, who must commit yet another of his fast-dwindling reserves.

The Spanish cavalry on both wings now turn their position to account: a double hit on Bogud's zone sees him killed and his command destroyed; while on the right, the cavalry on the hill perform similar feats, shattering the lead Gallic unit and forcing the other to flee.

The tide has surely now turned in favour of the Pompeians.

In such a desperate situation, Caesar is heard to say that he must fight now not for glory, but for his life. The men respond, shattering one of Gnaeus' units, and another in the centre.

Bogud hit and killed.

The Gallic cavalry swept away.

Desperate times for both sides, but Caesar has lost his cavalry.


Turn 10: 


The Pompeians seize the moment, shattering two more units, in Caesar's zone and (again) in the centre. But Caesar's men are veterans, and do not run.

The cavalry comes down off the hill to engage the light infantry, and the other cavalry outflank Caesar himself.

The Caesarians strike back by shattering two units in the centre and centre-left. Suddenly fearing a rout, the Spanish cavalry skedaddle, easing the pressure on Caesar's zone somewhat.



(In normal Lost Battles the game would be up after ten turns, but this is not normal Lost Battles, so we continue.)



Turn 11: 


Troubles multiply for Caesar: three shattering hits are inflicted on his centre. His veterans are too stubborn to rout, but he can muster nothing in return.





Turn 12: 


The Spanish cavalry shatter the light infantry. The coup de grace sees the centre give way, and all, for Caesar, is darkness.


And in this manner was Caesar defeated, hunted down by his enemies, and slain.

Caesar's last battle indeed.



Sunday, December 25, 2016

In the wargaming life, is there anything better?

Is there any greater reward for a wargamer than time to oneself on Christmas eve, with the children asleep, the house quiet, work done for the year, and a chance, beer in hand, to set up a game?


Finishing the painting of an army may perhaps just pip it, but it's a nice feeling.

Compliments of the season to you all!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Painting spree: Crusaders and Thebans

With 2016 winding down there has been a flurry of hobby room activity as I frantically try to improve my painting total for the year.

Crusaders of the Miniature Wars range from Italy:










Easy to prep and nice to paint. Spears were a little spindly, but life's too short to bother replacing them with wire (MMV, of course).

Xyston Thebans:








A bit of a mission to prep, and I had real painter's block with these. It was the shields that were the problem; I just couldn't paint a satisfactory club for love or money. In the end, I decided to mix symbols and just get them painted. A few snakes, a few goblets, a few minotaurs, some clubs that were less atrocious than others, a few plain coloured, and there they are. I'm not very happy with them but a bit of flock and a game or two and I'm sure they'll grow on me.
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