Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lost Battles: Bagradas deployment

What follows is a a pictorial view of the Bagradas set up for Lost Battles. I had intended to play through the full game, but the kids have been a bit restless with colds the last week so I had to call it quits two turns in.

There are two significant features about this episode from my perspective. The first is to try out a 'new' old table in the hobby room. My regular adjustable table has been requisitioned, so I grabbed the shin-high one to have a go with. It fits my game board very well, but it is rather low to the ground, and as a consequence the lighting is not so good. I wanted to take a few photos and see how the lighting compared to that on the previous table. You can see the results below.

The second significant thing is that the turns here were spent testing a slightly different turn structure for Lost Battles, wherein players alternate actions on the board rather than taking their full turn and completing all their actions before having their opponent do the same, as the rules in the book describe. I wanted to see whether it was near enough to a feasible approach, and if not, what would need to be worked on to make it so.

So, to the pictures: first up, from the Roman left centre.

Second, from the Carthaginian right centre. Xanthippus can be seen placed perilously between two of the elephant units.

Third, a close up of the Roman centre at the end of turn two, with the centres already in contact.

Fourth, a slightly longer shot of the same.

Fifth, an overview of the battlefield as it was with 'out of the book' deployment. Note that I do not use zone markers, as I already have a fair idea of the dimensions of each zone on this table and prefer to keep the field as uncluttered as possible.

Well, that's all I have time for at present. What do you think of the photographs? Are they too dark?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Battle DBA II

This is a short report on the second of our BBDBA fights from last Sunday. The armies were again Pyrrhic vs Antigonid and the battlefield was almost unchanged. The infamous hill had been slightly twisted, but that was the extent of it. The composition of the armies remained the same (see previous post for details of the elements in play), and although the organisation was altered significantly on the Pyrrhic side it barely changed at all for the Antigonids.

The Pyrrhic forces were split into three commands, left, centre and right. The left, contesting the hill, was made up of 13 elements; at 13 also was the centre. The right took the remaining 10 elements.

The Antigonids, working from left to right, again split their forces into commands of 7, 16 and 13.

Both sides had cavalry-heavy commands contesting the hill, but Pyrrhus also put two elements of mediums to the left of the central phalanx. The picture below shows the forces about three moves into the game (again, all photos are taken from the Antigonid right).

Looking closely at the photo (click on it for a larger view) it is possible to see that the Antigonids had already claimed the hill by this time, and that the Pyrrhic left is refused to guard the extreme flank. On the other wing it can be seen that Pyrrhus kept his two elephants together to oppose the weaker Antigonid left. Antigonas has put one of his elephants to the left of the phalanx and another on the extreme right of the line, the latter to discourage aggressive outflanking actions by the enemy light horse.

For Pyrrhus the central command was allocated the low die, the left the mid, and the right the high. The plan here was to break through on the right and turn the flank of the central phalanx.

For Antigonas, the plan was essentially the same as in the first game: contest the hill, refuse the left, and try to break the enemy in the right and centre. To this end, the command allocations were low die to the left, mid to the centre and high to the right.

This second shot again shows the armies in the third turn. The (faux) Galatian warband in the foreground will prove their mettle before the day is done, despite some command confusion; the auxilia shown here about to ascend the hill would also be like a thorn unto their enemies.

The armies were slow to engage. Pyrrhus initially appeared content to give up the hill and to increase the pressure, with careful manoeuvre on his right complementing a steady advance in the centre.

But before long the preliminaries were over, and the lines met in a general clash. The Pyrrhic spear engaged the auxiliary on the hill and the medium cavalry met the Galatian warband in a vicious fight. On the Antigonid left, low pip dice prevented effective counter-measures to be taken against the enemy advance, and the troops there were caught disorganised and out of position.

In two bounds disaster strikes Pyrrhus: the Galatians destroy one of the cavalry opposing them and next turn swing onto the flank and dispose of the other. Another element of warband swings right to outflank the Pyrrhic spear struggling with the auxilia on the hill, and the line has been pierced.

The Pyrrhic left has taken heavy losses in the breakthrough, and the cavalry come down off the hill, demoralising the command. With their morale now low, the remaining troops of the wing fall prey to the marauding knight general and his supporting cavalry.
At the same time, the Pyrrhic centre kills four elements of enemy pike, leaving the largest Antigonid command perilously close to breaking point. On the Antigonid left, the enemy come closer, threatening to fall upon the inactive troops at any moment.
But so much depends on the left; so Pyrrhus (here seen in the top left of the picture) must - not without a glance at the heavens - once again throw himself into the action to protect the flank of his phalanx from the Galation threat. Can he hold them for a turn or two longer to allow his right to roll up the phalanx?

On the extreme Antigonid left the killer blows falls quickly. In two turns they lose three elements. The demoralised command now begins to flee the field, leaving the central command (which starts with the elephant) in grave danger of being broken on the next or succeeding turn.

At this point, the camera was put aside and the tussle turned grim. The Antigonid right destroyed the opposing command utterly, leaving Antigonas two elements (or the commanding general) shy of the victory. Pyrrhus meanwhile needed to kill just one more element in the Antigonid centre to break the command and achieve victory for himself.

It was the Antigonid bound - Antigonas and his companions charged into a single element of pike which had wrapped around and outflanked his phalanx; the Galatians outflanked two elements of pike which were also engaged to their front; two more elements of Galatians recklessly charged Pyrrhus himself - one to the front, and one to his flank. Thus, three combats with a possible five victims.

Antigonas attacked first but was driven off.

Next the phalanx drove into the enemy pike while the Galatians hacked at their right flank, yet still the Greeks held.

The Galatians now made their attack against Pyrrhus. A win would see Pyrrhus killed and victory for Antigonas; a loss would see a warband killed, the central command break, and a victory for Pyrrhus. A tie would see Pyrrhic troops fall upon the enemy next turn to surely seal the victory.

But once again, Pyrrhus fell!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Big Battle DBA: Pyrrhic versus Antigonid

My miniatures gaming buddy made his long-awaited re-appearance in Wakayama for a day of DBA and Field of Glory. DBA went down a treat, so the planned Field of Glory affair got given the boot in favour of Big Battle DBA. What follows is a short report of our first BBDBA match.

The armies were composed of the following elements, with each army being divided into three divisions:

Pyrrhic - 12 pike phalanx, 2 elephants, 3 knight generals, 3 cavalry, 3 light horse, 5 psiloi, 4 auxilia and 4 spear.

Antigonid - 12 pike phalanx, 2 elephants, 3 knight generals, 3 cavalry, 1 light horse, 3 psiloi, 6 auxilia and 6 warband.

The Pyrrhic army was organised into a left of 13 elements, a centre of 16 and a right of 7. The Antigonids were organised exactly the same, but in reverse. The stronger flanks were to contest the gentle hill between them, while the weaker flanks would fight delaying actions around a wood.

This is a shot of the deployment. All photographs are from the Antigonid right flank. Note the gentle hill in the foreground, which would be the scene of much carnage during the day.

Both sides advanced on the hill, with Pyrrhus' troops arriving first. The Antigonids withheld their left and angled their centre as well, in an attempt to open up a gap between the enemy centre and its left.

Battle was joined early on the crest of the hill, but with pip dice like these there could be little fancy business in the centre. It can be seen here that both generals were positioned on the furthermost flanks of their phalanxes: Antigonas in the front line; Pyrrhus behind a troop of spearmen.

On the hill the battle swung to and fro. The Antigonid warband and auxilia made some early inroads, killing an elephant and punching a hole in the line. In response the Pyrrhic knight general, ably supported by cavalry, threw back the enemy horse and visited great slaughter upon them.

On the other flank, both sides were anxious to avoid exposing themselves to danger. A carefully refused flank and poor pip dice (the one shown here being fairly representative) negated the threat posed by the light horse.

Meanwhile, on the hill, a decisive blow was being struck. With the Pyrrhic knight general riding down warband as if they were pheasants, and with both commands only one element away from breaking, the Antigonid knight general charged impulsively up the hill into the enemy cavalry, looking for glory. Unfortunately for him, he there met a sticky end.
The following shot shows the ill-fated charge of the Antigonid (heading up slope in the purple cloaks) :

When news of the fate of his right reached Antigonas, he sought victory or else a soldier's death. His phalanx obliged by punching a hole in the enemy line, into the flank of which Pyrrhus launched himself. The picture below shows the two giants meeting face to face on the battlefield...

... but it was not Pyrrhus' day. He fell, and with him went his army's chance of victory.
It was a great little battle. There were moments of triumph and moments of disaster for both sides, and in the end it was fitting that things should be decided by single combat between the opposing commanders. The terrain dictated tactics in this battle, with both sides fighting over the hill and avoiding the wood.
There were a number of 'dice moments' that turned the game on its head, with miraculous victories against the odds almost the norm for the Antigonids. The Pyrrhic forces were more ably led on the whole, but luck was not quite with them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tarantine Cavalry

My miniatures gaming mate in Osaka, Luke, is coming down this Sunday for a day's gaming. We're going to do some DBA in an effort to give him some preparation for a competition he will be attending next year. Sadly, I'm not much chop at DBA, but I hope he enjoys carving me up!

The other thing we're going to do is (gulp) give Field of Glory another try. We tried it once not long after it came out, but it wasn't a very successful day.

So, with some gaming to be done, I checked the FoG army lists and realised that it would be handy to have some Tarantine light cavalry and some horse archers around, just in case the Seleucids make it onto the table. Therefore, and despite the heat making painting conditions less than ideal, I've been working on a few more horsemen over the last couple of days.

Here is a shot from the rear of the Tarantines, with the figures being Chariot 15s, purchased from Magister Militum in the UK. They still need to be given a spray of Tamiya matt finish to get rid of that nasty gloss look, and they also need their bases painted and flocked, but apart from that they're pretty much done:

Here's another look from the front. I tried free-handing the shields, using Luke Ueda-Sarson's excellent resource pages as a guide for patterns, which can be found at this link:

Some of the shields look all right, but others are a bit cringeworthy. I may revisit these sometime in the future if they still set my teeth on edge next time I see them.

Well, there we have it. There is plenty more to post, what with some good rugby on the telly of late, and piles of Essex DBA armies, books and whatnot arriving in the mail, but these will all have to wait for another day.

Until later!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer heat

There has been no painting here for the last two months due to the onset of summer, which has been particularly hot and humid so far this year, with even the nights failing to provide a cooling breeze. Paint dries almost as soon as it's mixed, and if taking a production line approach to painting (as I try to do) it can all get a bit frustrating. Still, I have not been entirely idle. Here's what I've been up to:

* Playing a VASSAL game of A Victory Denied (see the occasional post here).

* Browsing rules & picking up models for WWII in the air in 1/100 scale. The plan is eventually to put on a game day for newbies.

* Ordering DBA armies from Essex. I'm not really a DBA player, but their 3-for-2 special seemed to be a good way to try out Essex figures (which I've not used before), start off a new period, and also give DBA a bit of attention... Who am I kidding: I never could resist figures at bargain rates.

* Playing around with some ideas for a card game. Not strictly wargaming, but there you go...

* Familiarising myself with the rules to Grant Takes Command, a game in the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War series that I hope will be our next VASSAL outing.

* Picking up bits and pieces to use for terrain and turn into markers.

So, there we have it. Summer break is coming up soon (we have a week off) and an old friend is coming over from NZ to visit. I think there will be a few laughs, plenty of beer consumed, and things wargaming forgotten for a while!
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