Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last Hosting of the Year

The honour of Last Game this year goes to my 25mm Ancients. The close of one era and the opening, or reopening of another, but more on that another day. As the Winter campaign begins, Queen Sharazhad of Marakanda herself has led the vanguard of her army out to meet the hosts of King Rossius the Unknown of Turan.  

The Turanian forces were comprised of a unit of cataphracts, two of lance and bow heavy cavalry and two of light cavalry, one of them being horse archers. There was also an elephant unit with its attached light infantry and 2 wing commanders. The Maracandians had the Royal Horse Guards, a unit of lancers and a unit of horse archers backed by two units of light archers, one of massed archers, one of spearmen and one of Hillmen. There was also a pair of war engines dragged along for reasons unknown and two commanders. The rules were the universal edition of Hearts of Tin which is essentially an amalgamation of Gathering of Hosts with Hearts of Tin. The debate over a new name such as Hosts of Tin is still sputtering.

The Turanians arrived early and had the mobility to deploy and seize the crossroad before the Queen's forces were all on the field of battle.   Rossius seemed in no great hurry to press the attack but was rather determined to draw the enemy in before striking.

The Queen's heart beat faster in this her 2nd battle but her veteran soldiers and commanders were not dismayed. She steeled her will and as the Turanian lancers spurred forward, she signalled for her own cavalry to attack.

As the Turanian cavalry charged, the sky was darkened by Maracandan arrows and despite their armour the Turanian Clibinari broke to the rear. The Cataphracts charged home but the Turanian archers wielded their axes to good effect and soon the Cataphracts were also galloping backwards just as the Marakanda cavalry swept through the enemy light infantry, pushing their panicked horses into the flank of the elephant line. On the other flank the Maracandan horse archers swarmed the flank of the advancing Turanians and in a flash Rossius whole army was galloping towards the safety of the hills.

 Sharazad could not help but feel that she and her troops had been blessed with great good luck when it was needed most and that one victory  was not the end of a campaign but only a beginning.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Elephants are on the move

For those who don't follow my Game of the Month Blog, since the Gathering of Hosts and the Hearts of Tin rules are so closely aligned, I'm working on amalgamating them into a universal set with modules for different periods, for play with or without a grid, with either single figures or multi-figure elements with a variable scale. Sounds worse than it is or in other words, its not my first kick at this can. Actually, I only intend to do the modules I want to use but I'm ready for an Ancients test so the Three Kingdoms are at war again. The scenario is Crossroad from Grant's Programmed Scenarios.

To be continued.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Not another bridge!

The Scots charge over the bridge before too many English archers deploy.

As part of my exploration of the possible direction for my Ancient and Medieval games and of the options for evening games on an old card table in a corner of the Wreck room, I divided up the Medieval Scots that I had rebased for Impetus as well as what English I could scare up and set up a game this afternoon. Alas for the Scots when flipping through Asquith & Grant's Scenarios for All Ages (aka the Red Book), my eye fell on a game with 4 columns converging on a bridge. It wasn't until the Scots charged over the bridge that I got a sense of Deja Vue, my Scots having had to charge over a bridge in their last outing against Ron's English earlier this year. Oddly when I played through the Red Book in 2009 I also ended up playing. this with English vs Scots albeit in the 16thC. (Well damme! I forgot that the river was fordable away from the bridge!)

Briefly, the 2nd English column arrived early and the flanking Scots column ended up forming schiltron under a hail of arrows. A Scottish charge over the bridge eventually pushed the English back but suffered heavy casualties and when the flanking schiltron broke, it was all over.    

The Scots break.

The most important result of the test is that it has confirmed that this size of force in this period with this scale of shooting and movement will do quite nicely for Teasers on this size of table.

The existing bases don't precisely fit the square grid but they are close enough that they could be used as possible and the grid could always be ignored anyway and a ruler used at 1/2 or 2/3 scale. I'm not saying that 10mm figures wouldn't allow me more figure per base and thus "fit" the terrain better but I'd rather use what I have and would rather paint a few more 25's than start all over again. I didn't really want to paint up 200 or more English for bigger battles with the same tactical options but I haven't known quite what else to do. Anyway, this works for me so painting up and basing my English and Scots reinforcements will be moved up the priority list to provide some winter campaigning. Those figures on 3" and 80mm bases will serve but I want to go for 1.5" so that I can show units in march column and adapt to terrain.

I'll need to get going on more hills too. I'm not quite sure what to do about built up areas. Luckily a table suitable for street fighting isn't a huge issue for Medieval Anglo-Scottish  wars but a tower might be handy for some scenarios and I could do a town base or 2 with low perimeter wall and removable building to represent a small town.Might have to make it a bit over size to hold the occupants. Damn. Or maybe a town base with 2d row houses on either side of a road wide enough to hold a unit. It'll take some thought.

The next question is, do I want to look at adapting some of my Persian/Samarkand forces to play on the small table as well as the larger one. For now I think not and the Persian Host will stay upstairs. I may try it out though, just to see and just to keep it active. In particular, since many of the pikemen and other Greeks may be sent off to Botany Bay this winter, I have been thinking more about vague plans to use PA molds to produce some form of hill tribe army down the road. This would allow me to do some skirmishes in hilly terrain (once I make it). There's a limit to what I can get painted these days and to how many games I can play in the score of periods I dabble in so that might be best left for next winter.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pass the Maple Syrup Please.

Nothing better for waffles.

I haven't been spending much time or mental energy on Ancients but did momentarily decide late in the summer  that I had been right originally  and maybe OS with big units on a big table with no grid was better than the way I had been heading towards 1 base units. No games followed this thought.

I did try to get something  going last weekend but ended up working on a small board with square grid for playing games down in the family room during the winter instead. Now of course I want an ancient or medieval game for the new, small, gridded board. Looking at my incomplete revised medieval armies and the still incomplete Iranian armies, I am reminded just how little painting I seem to do these days. This in turn reminds me how much fun I've had this year playing small games at Ron's. All of a sudden the big Ancient game starts to feel more nostalgic than realistic goal for the short term.

A Scots army at about 75% of full strength. The other 300% are still on their old bases.

There is too much non-gaming stuff going on for this to be a good time for sudden drastic action and or for a rewrite but luckily I kept the rules as grid-friendly as I could so no more than an appendix giving rules for moving on a square grid and translating multiples of 4" into areas.   Then, maybe as early as tomorrow I will put some medieval's on the new board and see how it goes.

The Scots in action earlier this year.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Updating of hosts

The Gathering of Hosts rules have been updated. The biggest change has been the substitution of modifying the number of dice for combat rather than modifying the " to hit" scores but I have brought back the command rules encouraging battlelines.

They are available to download at the left. The current draft is labelled 16 Nov 2012 (noon).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Woah! Is that the time?

As the lack of posts might suggest, there has not been much activity during the last two months. Just got to clean out the cobwebs and get organized, I think its time to come back to the time before gun powder for a bit. 

1st step. Play a game to get the juices flowing. Hopefully Sunday

2nd step. Finalize a structure for 2 opposing sides including an Alliance and do up a campaign OB.

3rd step. Get on with basing and with painting to fill holes in the OB and diminish the pile..

4th step play a 3 Scenario/Teaser mini-campaign.

Picture of the Battle of Marathon from the archives to add some colour.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Garrison Journal 2012

When news of a limited release 40th Anniversary Garrison Journal appeared on Vintage Wargaming, I thought to myself "must contact Rob about getting  a copy". Given the blindingly slow speed with which I generally tackle such things I was tickled pink when a copy appeared in a mailbox a day or so later. What a delightful little publication, as OS as the figures themselves. Well worth a few bucks.

My second thought of course was "ooh hope there'll be more" followed by ' I wonder what I could contribute", rather stuck there but its early days.

In the mean time some related bits of trivia.

It was 1976 when I bought my Sassinid slingers and javelinmen at a little shop in Ottawa.

I did actually have a small number of the Rose ECW figures. They were small and poorly detailed to my eye, esp the hats and heads and the 2 part, no base horses. Nothing like the Prestige ancients. My first pike & shot unit was composed of the much larger, much more my taste Garrison figures. Another of the units lost between graduation and HMCS Ottawa.

It was around 1986 that I got a listing of garrison and Benassi figures from Danial Borris , Artistic Enterprises (if I read my old handwriting properly) in Ontario but the garrison listing was printed by All Saints Parish Church,  Downshire Square, Reading. Alas after getting an order of Bennasi Greeks, something  happened and I didn't get to fill all my visions of  missing Garrisons at the time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Reviewing of Hosts

One of the first ancient pictures to appear on my Game of the Month Blog. January 2010, part of the build up to Marathon.

As the third (!!??) anniversary of Gathering of Hosts approaches in a few weeks time and I get closer to being able to start on the Syr Daria, 3 Kingdoms, 2 Rivers or Lost Outpost campaign or series of campaigns (obviously many details remain to be worked out), my mind has turned back to rules and thus organization. Like last year, I have gone back and read some old posts and battle reports to remind me of roads explored

A Warhammer Ancients brawl over a bridge. Again January 2010 

There have been a few detail changes over the three years but my real goal hasn't changed. Get something historically inspired but vague enough to not be historically hidebound going where all or most of my 25mm Ancients will have a role to play. I have upped the initial 2 armies to 3 and bumped it ahead by about 400 years, but the concept remains.

I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted the games to look like and when I decided to slide from obsolete Warhammer Ancients to home made that didn't change. Even when I got tired of pushing trays of single figures about, the basic look and feel was what I wanted. This got a bit warped when I had fun playing Basic Impetus and then a hex based variant of the same using 8cm wide units.  I haven't found the game as much fun when playing solo but more to the point, since the idea was to play Grant style Teasers with 1 unit = 1 unit with each unit developing its own character, reducing the number of figures from 12 or 24 to 4 or 8, it runs contrary to the original point of using as many figures as possible. Don't get me wrong, if I was starting from scratch, it would be great  I could reduce my shelf space by 2/3. Alternately if I wanted a whole bunch of little armies on the shelf, armies that might each get played with every two to three years if lucky, it would also be good and I seriously contemplated that option for a few months.

One option of course would be to just use a larger number of one stand units grouped together and it was in the middle of experimenting with rules for this this earlier today that it occurred to me that while this is probably more accurate historically, it wasn't what I had in mind and still wanted deep down. I don't want a bunch of nameless elements, I want long standing named regiments whose histories can be traced through the battles they fight. By adopting the 4cm bases that I have been itching to do for the last year, I will be able to extract vexillations for remote service under other rules systems while still staging the sorts of games that I had in mind. In deference to the table shrinkage experienced last year, I may compromise on slightly smaller units though; 8 cavalry or light troops, 16 infantry.

An Ambush from October 2010, using the early version of Gathering of Hosts.
Having looked back at the original criteria, I find that most still hold. One difference being that I will now design for elements not individuals. There have been some radical experiments in peripherals but much of the core of the rules have remained and is still about right. I have added some new design challenges for myself which existed but were unwritten. The original rules handled these but the newer versions didn't really try.

  • Commanders. These need to have a command function as well as combat and morale functions. (This is as before) but the rules also need to reflect the limited staff abilities of many armies and thus the difficulty of quickly implementing major changes to the intitial plan as well as the importance of the local leadership, all without making the game tedious and predictable or disallowing historical examples of flexibility. (From an implementation POV, the original mechanism, imperfect as it is,  is a better line of approach than most I have tried since.)
  •  Missile Fire. Missile fire should weaken not destroy. (Initially this was handled by a combination of individual hits on large units and rallying. I'll need a different approach for elements)

  • Melee. Melee, particularly when it comes to opposing bodies of good heavy infantry, should usually be a fairly lengthy process before one side gives way with cavalry vs infantry usually being a series of bounces till one side gives. Where one side initially at an advantage comes back, the result should usually be a pause before a fresh start rather than a reversal. Rout from melee should be more or less irreversible for heavy infantry in particular. (Again, the initial rules handled this reasonably well but needs some form of adaptation for elements.)  

The updated but not fully tested rules are avaible at left.

Platea from 2 years ago tomorrow. Another early Gathering of Hosts game.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

A New Queen Arises

The young Queen Shahrazad, the Flame Queen, liberator and ruler of Marakanda. Her army is composed of the steppe horsemen amongst who she was raised and men from the city and surrounding farms of Marakanda which she freed from the oppressive rule of the Greeks and brought back to riches, and hillmen from the nearby mountains to whom she fled in her times of trouble and who now follow her loyally.

(Oddly, this is around the time that the Marakanda disappears from history for a few centuries, reappearing as Samarkand but that's another story). 

Thanks to Rob from Garrison for the proto-Zenobia from whom she sprang, 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Slik Road Battle

I know, I was going to post ancient battle reports here but this one is over there.

Somewhere over on the Silk Road, a long long time ago, a Persian Satrap clashes with the forces of Marakanda (Samarkand in later times).
 Persian Infantry and elephants
 Persian Cavalry
 Marakanda's horse archers backed by armoured lancers and camel riders.
 Marakanda's infantry, Greek militia, hillmen and native archers backed by an elephant to everyone's surprise. 
 The battle, mid-game

Friday, August 17, 2012

Squaring off

I've been pondering basing again. There are some good points to the 80mm wide bases and some attraction to the idea of 1 base = a unit, buutttt..... its also quite limiting. Of all the 25mm ancient basing systems I've experimented  with over the last 5 years, the one I like the best for itself as opposed to the game that it enables, is the one using 40mm square bases with 2 cavalry or 2,3 or 4 infantry per base. I do have some cavalry who will need to go a bit deeper, 60mm for the galloping Garrison horses, but I like the look and feel and its fairly flexible. For example, apart from adapting to multiple rule sets, you can do road columns which are not convincing when 80mm wide. The plan will be to do 4 base units as a standard organization

This happens to be 15mm standard for many rules which  won't help if playing some using standard 25mm  basing but that won't matter if both armies are mine. It does mean I can make impetus units out of 3 bases or if using 2 bases can match Ron's units for playing on a hex grid. I just tried it today using Comitatus and it worked great, well some units were on 40's from earlier experiments, others were singles on a 20mm frontage and I fudged the rest.  Getting ready for the game got my enthusiasm levels up high enough to finish 4 more Persian Clibinari and rebase them with the existing ones to finish that unit.

I also got a start at refurbishing my old Valdurian Royal Horse Guards to serve as Guards for the Queen of Marakanda.  I picked these Rohirrim lads up at the Minifig stand in the wargames tent at Aldershot the summer of 1974. My first metal cavalry. To keep up their status next to all those RAFM & Garrison horses I need to remount them, they've borrowed some PB horses here.

Anyone need 10 x S range 1/2 armoured horses?

First time in battle in decades and another victory to their credit.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Video footage of the battle of marathon

Amazing what you can find on utube some days.

Why is it that they look more like my old Rospaks than anything else?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Still Slowly Gathering

These lads were born as Garrison Sassinid Standard Bearers. They were destined to join my not really Sassanid Clibinari to give them some of that traditional bubble headed look.    Some how though, even with lances, they just didn't fit in with my other, lance and bow armed,  Clibinari and in any case I've been inching back from the Sassanid angle. If not lance and bow Clibinari on 1/2 armoured horses, then how should I arm them?

Prior to Alexander, Bactria and the surrounding areas seem to have produced bow and spear armed cavalry both unarmoured and armoured with some of the latter being on armoured horses. Alexander and presumably the Achaemenids before him, apparently also raised some Javelin cavalry from the southern areas reaching down into Afghanistan and two heavy javelins were standard Persian armament at the time. Some Greek cavalry would have still been javelin armed while others would have adopted the long Macedonian cavalry spear. Under the Seleucids heavily armoured Cataphracts were introduced and became the standard heavy cavalry of the Parthian Empire. In the turmoil between the fall of the Seleucids and the rise of the Kushan and Parthian empires, what would "native" cavalry raised in the area have been like?

Now its not a co-incidence that the current gathering of armies is set in a time and place where  information is limited, that was the goal from the beginning. My assumption is that cavalry would have been varied, especially in a time of dynastic struggles but that the later lance and bow on 1/2 armoured horse Clibinari are unlikely even though I plan to field some. Some cataphracts are more likely, especially those with felt and leather horse armour, as well as some other lancer cavalry but since the javelin seems to have persisted through out the period, that is also a likely option for some. Lightly armoured and unarmoured cavalry probably predominated but what percentage were "cavalry" vs "light cavalry" (a distinction that I'm not convinced was as clear at the time as it is in our wargames)?.

Another question is about the hats. It seems the latest fad is to dismiss what used to be the archetypal Sassanid Felt Bubble Cap as an error  but since there is evidence of some earlier Medes wearing a similar hat as well as later shepherds and the like, I am happy to assume that some thing similar has been worn by some people over the centuries. Possibly not in the area where this rebel Iranian heritage army is being raised to fight the last of the Greco-Bactrians but the hats give it a distinct flavour so they are in.

The figures just seemed to want to be modified into javelin armed cavalry so I obliged and ended up with javelin armed cavalry with shield and armour, possibly similar to Roman, later Greek or Celtic cavalry. I have been basing my shock cavalry 4 to a base and my horse archers 3 to a base and had planned to base these as four figures. The officer I painted to go with them just didn't fit so he has been relegated to command the next stand of lancers and these ended up 3 to a base.  This seems to put these in the well equipped light cavalry category so that's how I'll use them , leaving the real fighting to the heavily armoured lancers. .Mind you, I think these would serve well as early Mede cavalry as well. They need some friends though.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Hex on Both Your Armies.

Wow, was that last post really 3 weeks ago?
King Daryros the Rebel, leads his men onto the field.

Anyway, I decided that i wanted to stay with the hexes for my ancients so reworded the rules. They can be used fairly easily without a grid by counting an "area" as 4" wide or such distance as pleases you, and measuring 60 degree arcs. I tightened things up a bit, swapped +/- die modifers for adding and subtracting dice per unit modifiers for combat. Can't do that when the number of dice is based on how many guys are in a unit but works well when its dice per unit. Also borrowed an idea and now allow units are allowed to swap up to 1 missile fire hit for a retreat if they wish.

The largely mercenary advance guard of the army of Alexandria the Farthest is led onto the field by Kinbg Antirossus himself.

 The first test game was small, an advance guard Teaser from Battlegames  but everything worked like a charm. A bigger one to follow when the heat in my games room abates.
King Antirossus , at the head of his Companions, puts the boots to King  Daryros's Rebels.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Trying it on

After much fiddling about yesterday, I have spent some time writing up the new Gathering of Hosts which is now available again at the left, under links.
Gratuitous shot of the Greco-Bactrian left and center. 

As any who also follow Battle Game of the Month may know, I have been pondering command control mechanisms. Partly because I find rolling for each group tedious in bigger games, partly because it it too easy to forget. My thought is that to be a successful game mechanic, there has to be a carrot as well as a stick so that players will want to make the roll. I tried a DBA type PIP system which rewards players by letting them do something, a modified order check with a bonus d6" on a 6 and various other ideas.  At long last I decided that the initiative system, which allows occasional double moves, is enough friction for me.
The armies advance.
I had to tame missile fire a bit, decided to restrict the movement of close order troops a bit more, re classified the unit types closer to the original list and did plenty of other tweaking then tried them out.
The Persian battle-line tries to maneuver around a wood. Can they complete the move and reorder before the Greeks get past the skirmish screen? 

The armies were once again Greco-Bactrian vs Iranian-Bactrian aka Proto-Sassinid, but a little larger, 20 units a side instead of 12 (deep pike units counting as 2).  I ran out of time to finish but apart from finding it tedious to track hits  on 40 units, it felt like what I was aiming for. There seem to be several possible ways to get around tracking so many hits: use fewer but bigger units to keep the figure count up, get more markers and some sticky stuff to make it easier, use single figures on sabots, reduce the number if hits and the number of dice rolled, or something else. Since I like the option to have a small number of units or a larger number, twice this many for a full battle, and like the way units can stand up to a slow trickle of casualties but can disappear quickly in melee, especially if caught by pursuit, for now, I'm going to leave it as is. I'll get some sticky stuff to hold the dice on the stands as they move and making sure I have enough markers. 

 Second choice, make piecemeal attacks maybe the elephants can break the phalanx. yes?, not quite! STAND CLEAR! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A New Power Arises

Barely two months after seeing off the Chinese Incursion, (ok so it was actually his general Alexander the Minifig that saw them off but as King you get to claim credit for what your generals do) word has come to King Antirossus of Alexandria the Forgotten of a new power rising from the turmoil that was the fall of the Seleucid Empire and the rise of the Parthians. In Samarkand to the north,  King Dahryross, claiming descent back through the years to Darius, has seized the throne and is building a formidable army.   

Alexander the Minifig has been sent north with a small force to seek word of this new threat. At the crossroads by the ancient town of Binheerbefohr, the "armies" clash for the first time. 
 The Greeks deploy in traditional fashion, a 6 stand phalanx in the center flanked by peltasts and cavalry. The  Persians deploy a line of skirmishers and horse archers backed by infantry on the left, spearmen, archers and an elephant, armoured cavalry on the left. The light cavalry on both sides dashed and wheels about the field but the main bodies plod straight forward.

 The newcomers seem to shoot well, but the Greeks press on, eager to settle this hand to hand. (Hmm that horse armour's pretty tough stuff. )
 With the skirmishers out of the way, the phalanx crashes forward, forcing the elephants back and destroying the archers but somehow the native spearmen hold. Good thing there are cavalry and peltasts to guard the flank. (Ahhhh guys?  Helloo anyone there? Who's got the intitiative this turn anyway?)
Oh damn. Ummh.....Greeks for hire!  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Postcard Version of new Gathering of Hosts (corrected)(and updated)

corrected and then modified as played 19 Jun)

Troops: Skirmishers, Peltasts, Archers, Infantry, Phalanx, Light Cavalry, Cavalry, Elephants. Infantry in substantial armour and armoured cavalry on armoured horses count as armoured. 

All stands take 6 hits. 

Sequence of play: Throw each turn for choice to go 1st or 2nd. Ties repeat.

Control Check. A player must throw 2 or better to move a unit or battleline (aka group). A general can reroll once per turn. 

Moves: Infantry, Phalanx: 8"  Skirm, Peltasts, Armoured Heavy Cavalry 12 " Cavalry 16", Light Cavalry: 20"
Only skirmishers and light infantry in woods etc. Skirmishers, light infantry, and light cavalry can shoot then move or move then shoot. Others may do 1 or the other. Skirmishers and cavalry can go any direction unless charging. Others move 1/2 if not going straight forward. (abstraction)

Shooting: Skirmishers and Cavalry/Chariots get 1 die, Archers, Medium Cavalry and Elephants get 2 dice. 4,5,6 hits. -1 vs cover, -1 vs phalanx or armoured or elephant.
Range Archers, Elephants and Cavalry with Bows 12"  All others 4"   

Melee: (Includes close range shooting) Dice per stand: Skirmishers & horse archers get 1 die, peltasts and other light cavalry get 2, cavalry and phalanx 3, lancers and Infantry 4 All other cavalry, elephants  and infantry 3 dice. +1 die if lancers or swordsmen or elephants or scythed chariots etc charging or pursuing. 
-1 vs cover or obstacle
-1 vs elephant, phalanx or armoured.
+1 Elite, -1 Levy

Adjacent units in the same battle line add 1 die if not engaged themselves. Phalanx can form 2 units deep, casualties go on the rear unit and it adds 1 die to the combat .
Units contacted in flank or rear fight with 1 die.

If one side loses more than they inflict the main unit retreats 1d6" x 1/2 if infantry or phalanx  a base depth. The winner may pursue if their side is active or if impetuous. If in contact fight again. In case of tie, both stay in contact. A unit that starts in contact can retreat or stay and fight. If 2 units would destroy each other, if one is defeated then it is destroyed and the other remains with 5 hits. If it is a draw, both stand with 5 hits. A unit hit in flank or rear which loses is destroyed.

A side losing more than 1/2 of its units must withdraw.

A New Gathering

Garrison Sassanid slingers and mountaineers, finally getting a chance to skirmish in front of Elephants and Levy Spearmen and feeling good about it.

I had finally managed to drag myself away from the ancients to work on my Horse & Musket stuff when along comes Parum Pugna  and all those lovely once upon a time  ancients, and well, here I am putting figures on the table and working on a new version of Gathering of Hosts and looking forward to my Not Really Historical At All campaign.  I've also been dipping into my brother-in-law's stack of abandoned Neo-Conan books so maybe I'll just slip in those sorcerer and various beastie types from last summer and wrap up all the non-historical and fantasy stuff into one package. Maybe. 

So, the rules. I have enjoyed the games of Basic Impetus that I've played against Ron but as a solo game it doesn;t attract me for some reason. I am committed to maintaining compatibility with Ron's armies for gaming on his Hexon terrain (he now has a copy of C&C to study)  but I don;t have the time and energy to commit to building a hex lay out myself so I am sticking with rules where each stand is a unit, written for a plain surface but easily adaptable to hexes.  

Having come up with a few ideas, I dropped 12 units aside and played a simple encounter. I'm thinking of this as a minimum size of game and as all units being of equal "points" value as each has uses, strengths and weaknesses. With that rough framework in mind, I proceeded to play and ended up with the following. As with most back of a postcard rule sets there are many unstated assumptions, some of which will hopefully be explained when I get the set properly written up. 

I'll put the short version of the rules in a separate post.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

What did the Romans ever do for us?

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to see a small packet  from Garrison after Rob's comment about sample Romans. Thank you Rob!

When I got my Sassinids and Medievals, my first thoughts were a tumble of "I want more/I want to paint them". With the Romans, my thoughts were. Hmmm. Maybe.
LtoR: Garrison S&S, Romans, painted Sassinid. PA Barbarian, Garrison 20mm Phyrgian.

I love the officer and standard bearer.Classic Garrison. The officer probably won't wait for a Roman army and I can see getting more for whatever Romans I end up with..

I like rather than love the legionnaire. He is noticeably taller and sturdier than all my other figures.  Not impossibly so and I don't mind the officer being a little smaller. If he was a Barbarian, I'd have no qualms but some how, I expect the barbarians to be bigger than the Romans, even if the latter are from a Legion recruited from the Gallic fringe. To make matters worse, I was thinking of recruiting some barbarians from my Prince August molds. These go nicely with my few remaining Garrison Saxons which I want more of (we're edging back into fantasy here)   and even better with my few Garrison 20mm figures but  are a definite mismatch with the big Roman. 

The figures actually look better side by side in the photo than in person (maybe angles or the fact that the Sassinid has some basing remnants under his stand) and in any case, in separate units on the table they would probably be ok.  If I had an alternate source of Romans in mind it might be easier but there aren't that many  old 25mm Romans about. What I'd really like is a few dozen of the Minifig AR Range Roman throwing Pila that I once had  but that's not likely to happen and I was never that fond of the PB replacements. I've never seen the Warrior or Tradition 25mm Romans up close so eventually samples may be in order. 25mm can mean a lot of different things to different people.  Looking at the PA barbarian, Garriosn 20mm Romans might work but I really don't want to get started on Romans this year so the matter is not pressing. Time to paint them up and check if the "attacking figure" is the same bulk.

Rob also included some of the 28mm Late Roman cavalry. Keeping my mother's teaching in mind, I'll just show a shot of them next to one of the exquisite Sassinid  Cataphracts that I want more of:


Sunday, May 27, 2012

They'rrrrrrre Back !

A pair of Hinchliffe Elephants were among the dozen or so units that somehow got left behind at college (except for 1 stray crewman that I found this year). They are odd little criutters really and  a pain in the patute to assemble (at least for clutzes like me) but when I got a chance to pick up a couple at firesale prices 2 years back, I couldn't resist even though I couldn't think of a good reason. I should have known  they would start gathering friends, The red caps are traditional for my elephant corps.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lance & Bow

I was contemplating horse archers last week, both armoured  and firing, and wondering how to fit in my handful of  Tarun horse archers without building a whole army for them. Eventually I decided that with a bit of repainting to get rid of the Arabic looking stripes and disguise the flowing robes, I could mix them in with some Persian Clibinari.

 After doing them, I realized that adding a pugree and cloak to the Persians would have been easy and helped them to blend in. On the other hand, leaving them as is should make it easier to blend the stand in with my Iranian rebels.  I'm trying desperately to keep the size of these Bactrian of Beyond armies down. The Iranian rebels look like settling on 40 - 50 heavy cavalry so far.

For some reason, I thought I had posted these pictures last week, better late than never and anyway, the 2 replacement Sassinid elephants aren't quite ready. Bloody annoying Hinchliffe kits to be honest but I'm glad to have the old team back. The one archer crewman who remains of the original pair still claims to remember nothing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Munching the Greener Grass

Why is it that what ever figures I have stacked up ready to paint, its always the ones I don't have that are on my mind. This morning I put aside for a moment my efforts to sort an army for Queen Tomyrot of the Tokharians, ruler of Marakanda (Samarkand to you) and painted up the 2 samples on my desk. I'm not currently adding hoplites but I do intend to add a battalion or 2 of Lambdas and this chap looks fairly officerish so that was easy. The other looks, as intended, very guards-ish. He is also a little hoplitish except for his shield which isn't. It has an embossed animal or god head and polished bronze came to mind. The term Chalkaspides soon followed and then my mind drifted to my old Valdurian Guards, Minifig thureophorai with blue tunics, shields painted bronze and leather armour painted on (I seem to have had issues with painting figures straight out of the box).  Alright then a Guard unit from Alexandria the Farthest, the other intreptation of Hypaspists, fast moving shock infantry, FL's in Basic Impetus speech, VBU of 5 +2 with long spear.

   For some reason I seem to be having trouble with focus and colour, but, close enough.

Is it just me or does the over all size and the look of the head and neck on Garrison Persian camels look more Bactrian than Dromedary despite their 1 humpish apeparance? Is it not possible that the saddle design is disguising the 2 hump nature? Of course it is. Why else would a Queen in Bactria and 2 of her squadrons be riding them?

And last but not least, I started pondering a new city for my lost Hellenistic outpost, not that Alexandria Eschate (the farthest) is bad, but its a real place and I briefly thought that perhaps an Historical Fantasy setting should have made up names so I thought about something like Alexandria the Improbable or Alexandria the Imaginary and turned to Bablefish. OK, now I have a name in unreadable (to me) unreproduceable (to me) Greek letters. No problem, there must be a site that will translate English into a Latin alphabet version of the Greek, yes? Well, maybe, somewhere. After half an hour and after fending off various Old Testament sites that tried to enlist me, I gave up and decided that for a whim,  "Alexandria The Farthest" is just fine.

Now back to thinking about another dozen or more horse archers (galloping and firing) and empty coffers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Late, as usual

After 35 years the 1st unit of Levy Spearmen finally show up to support the slingers and javelinmen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reinforcements Arrive

Clibinarius on borrowed Cataphract horse, Cataphract (need more of these), Desert Queen, Spearmen and a Prince August levy.

Its enough to make a fellow wish he was still doing large, Grantian armies and had oodles of time and money and no distractions. I finally ordered a teeny order of Sassinids and absolutely love these little gems of figures. I was actually ordering some medievals and slipped these in just because. Anyway they arrived while I was at Huzzah and never mind the medievals, guess who's on the painting desk. They might need their own army though.........

Now don't ask me about Zenobia, Rob slipped her in and I have no idea if she's from a 20mm range, a defunct range or a special that he did. But she is just the sort of ruler my new Iranian Imagi-nation needed. I had been sighing and thinking if I bought actual Sassinids then I'd have to buy the long delayed Romans to face them, but the ones I'd want would be the wrong Romans. Well, seeing these, I'm back on track with my series of unknown Iranian and Greco-Bactrian Kingdoms back of beyond. Except that Rob also slipped in some marvelous hoplites that I suspect are Hyborian in origin which has me thinking about Spartans and of course, flipping through the S&S list gives me other ideas. Well the good side of  Basic Impetus using so few troops is that even with multi-basic impetus armies, I could easily do a dozen armies with 100 or so figures each.

Well, first things first, paint at least 1/2 of the new arrivals and finish planned armies then plan and buy more!

Thanks Rob for keeping these figures alive and sharing!.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hexy Blocking Position

Today saw Game 4 and the end of the Sino-Bactrian Campaign. Strictly speaking the game should have been the Swamp land  scenario but it didn't look appetizing for either side so we opted for Hasty Blocking position which allowed me to field all but one of my units.

The Chinese blocking force arrives.

I swore to myself that I would take some proper pictures this time. I ended up taking one cell phone snap on about turn 2 and 1/2 way through picking up troops I suddenly remembered  about pictures and hastily faked the shot below. Oh well.

Essentially the Greco-Bactrian cavalry swept aside the Chinese cavalry (should I mentioned my routed Companion unit? nah why confuse things) and then, supported by an elephant crashed into a line of Chinese heavy infantry. These put up a fight and eventually brought the elephant down but the Cataphracts smashed through the line and then, after a long struggle pushed back and eventually routed the Chinese reserve of Heavy Chariots which had charged into them.   That brought the game to an end after about 14 action packed turns. The victory conditions are more than a little vague on this one so whether I had been slowed sufficiently could only be left as an open question while we proceeded to discuss our hex based adaptation of Basic Impetus.

   An artist's conception of what a confrontation between Chinese and Greco-Bactrian heavy infantry might have looked at.

Over all the hex based version works well but there have been a couple of niggley bits where it has been hard to translate the game to a grid. We made two decisions today, one was to worry less about being consistent and adapt things to make the hexes easier. Many of the issues revolve around melees where the rules are based on units not lining up, something the grid forces as well as restrictions on movement.

We have also found that our adoption of 1 hex = 5 units of distance has been less than satisfying with 25mm figures and Table Top teasers and gave us headaches tracking which adjacent units were in contact and which were just in javelin range. The proposed solution is to move to 1 hex=2.5 units of distance which will essentially double movement and ranges and allow us to count adjacent units as being in melee. Movement will be 2 hexes for heavy and missile infantry, 3 for light infantry, skirmishers and heavy cavalry and 3 for medium or light cavalry. Javelins will have a 2 hex range and most bows  a 4 hex range. That should open things up.

Of course this means we need to play another game. I'll probably put the Greco-Bactrians away. The next game is likely to be 13thC Scots vs English but possibly Pontics or Thracians vs Caeser.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

There's Hold (ing) In Them Thar Hills!

The next game saw the Greco-Bactrians pushing forward in pursuit of the Chinese "bandits".

POP! Oh, there they are! Are those crossbows? Thunk Thunk thunk! yup. 
 The game was Holding Action (1) from Scenarios for Wargames.  My troops diced for which of 2 roads  they would enter on. I had 3 heavy cavalry units (1 cataphract), 2 horse archers, 3 units of pike  phalanx, 2 of peltasts, an elephant and 1 each of archers and javelin men. Breakpoint of 13 with heavy cavalry and pikes each worth 3 pts and the others each worth 1. As an experiment in simplification I fielded my pikes as single VBU 6 units rather than as double units made up of 2 VBU 4 units. Same dice in combat vs infantry and about the right effect as far as I can tell and simpler to follow.

The Chinese had, well, no army at all as far as I could see. But eventually the hills turned out to be hiding 2 units of massed crossbowmen mixed with spears, 4 units of shock light infantry swordsmen, a light cavalry lancer and a skirmish crossbow unit.

The scenario calls for the attacker to advance quickly to clear the pass. It doesn't actually say that you can't break column until you spot the enemy but that seemed like the spirit. And so it was then, that my horse archers were the first into the pass and the first to spot some crossbowmen. I had of course won the initiative that turn so the crossbows were able to advance and shoot. Ron then deftly flipped the initiative on the next turn getting to shoot again, and bringing forward another crossbow unit from his left which shot up my  horse archers.

As I tried desperately to deploy, peltasts and cavalry on the flanks, pikes in the center screened by skirmishers, Ron's crossbows took out my archers and helped by his light cavalry broke my Companions.
At this point 2 units of swordsmen showed up and charged into my peltasts before they could escape.  Suddenly I was down 5 army morale points, and was 1 hit away from losing my horse archers, my column was just deploying and there was nothing to screen them but a single unit of elite Euzoni javelin skirmishers. Ron had a slight scratch on his light cavalry. It didn't look good, especially as the rest of his army emerged on my open right flank.

The ambush is sprung! Chinese crossbows shooting from behind a wall of spears.  
The lack of pictures beyond this point does not reflect reluctance on my part but worried concentration on the excitement in hand!  

No point in going home early (although given the ice pellets and slush I met when I did go, I probably should have), so I brought up the pikes, elephants and remaining cavalry for an assault uphill against crossbows and tough infantry. But as my javelinmen nimbly flanked his crossbows, I suddenly got a break, a hit by the javelins (needing a 6)  followed by a catastrophic cohesion failure on his part, (also a 6) resulting in the crossbowmen routing. OK I was on the board! and the pressure was off, I had room to deploy. As his infantry came up, we proceeded to repeat the skirmish attack 6 to hit, 6 to fail cohesion, not once but TWICE!  These infantry were tougher and didn't rout but they had lost their shock value. I tried hard to catch them with my cataphracts but while they chewed up my 2nd peltast unit, I held on and javelins eventually cleared that flank.  
In the center, my pikes charged up hill, driving back the crossbows but shock infantry caught them in the flank and they crumbled. I was now only 2 units away from breaking, but so was Ron! There was nothing to do but push forward and hope. Forward the pikes! Ready the Heffalump! Charge with the cavalry! As Ron's army morale crumbled he launched a last desperate gamble.
The Chinese cavalry make a last desperate attempt to break the pikes but these guys don't carry long pointy sticks for nothing. 

Army morale is assessed at the end of  a turn and Ron was moving 2nd, he knew he was going down but it was close enough that it was just possible that a suicide attack could work, I'd have to miss with all dice, he'd have to hit with a couple then I'd need to roll one of those 6's on a cohesion test, get caught by the pursuit and do it again. A long shot but possible and it would change the game to a draw. Well, my pikes missed on all 6 dice but his cavalry also missed on their 4. A drawn melee! I WON!!  (By a nose)

You'll just have to imagine the extra 7 Chinese units which crowned the hills in a ring around my army a turn earlier. The troops in the center right background, crowning the hill, are my proud javelinmen who practically won the battle single handedly, with a little help.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rolling, rolling, rolling

Corvus Thracian Mercenary Thureophorai escort a motley supply train.
(Trivia, the horse pulling the supply cart is  a hard plastic Marx horse whose 1st job was pulling a WWI artillery piece in the Over The Top playset.)

The next game in the Sino-Bactrian Border War Mini-Campaign has been fought. Thanks to a split decision double feature game last time,   a draw was declared and Wagon Train selected as the next game.

A familiar site to Scenarios for Wargames fans.
We tossed for sides with the result tasking the troops of the King of Bactria with safely escorting a convoy through hills filled with Chinese bandits, sorry, I mean  the advance guard of an Imperial Chinese expedition.  My force was composed of 2 units of mercenary Thureophorai, a unit each of javelin men and archers, a unit of horse archers and a unit of Macedonian style Heavy Cavalry Lancers. In the fort was a bolt thrower, some pikemen and a the important part, a unit of heavy cavalry and one of light javelin cavalry.
Ral Partha Chinese.

The Chinese eventually fielded 1 medium cavalry, 1 light shock cavalry, 2 crossbow & spear units, 3 swordsmen units and a unit of crossbow skirmishers.

Now that the crisis is nearly past, the war artist comes out.
There were some sticky moments early on as Ron's cavalry arrived on either flank and rode over the skirmishers that I had deployed to guard the flanks of the train. They did their job though  and held up the Chinese cavalry long enough for the Thureophorai to earn their pay. By turn 8, after some nervous fighting, Ron and I were both down 2 units (2 skirmisher for me, a light cavalry and crosswbow unit for Ron with a hurting medium cavalry unit facing off with a damaged Thureophorai ) but the wagons were in sight of the fort with no enemy in between.

Alexander the Minifig orders the Companions  to wheel and ride down a unit of spear and crossbow armed Chinese infantry. Yee Haw!

At this point, fortune favoured me. The bulk of the Chinese infantry now came on behind the convoy. Unless someone could get in front of the convoy and stop it, they would not be able to intervene before it reached the fort. Unbeknownst to me, another light infantry sword unit arrived late through the big wood near the fort. By the time they found their way to the open, the convoy was past. A unit of skirmishers did manage to  almost get close enough for a shot but they couldn't get past the cavalry that had sortied out. 

    "Honey, I'm home!"
Minifig Ox Cart with prince August driver.

This is a scenario where the arrival times and places can make a huge difference. Would it had made a difference if Ron had moved his crossbows to an intervening position instead of moving up to support the cavalry? Who knows? What is sure is that I would have been in a world of hurt had the mercenaries not won their fights with the Chinese cavalry! A fun little game. Took about 2 hours of actual plying time to make it through to a conclusion in 11 or 12 turns.

CRACK!! "Move your Ass into that fort!.....and your Camel"
RAFM cavalry, garrison chariot driver come wagoneer, Ral Partha fantasy baggage animals.