A few more battles

21 December, 2010

  • Game 1: Romans v.  Later Carthaginians

I’ve not written up the last few battles, and I certainly haven’t taken pictures of them. The first was last month, when Joel came around for a game. He took the Polybian Romans while went with the Carthaginians. I decided to go with two elephants and two warbands. I got a towelling. I was the defender, I think. I got an edge amongst terrain and got low PIPs while the Romans advanced towards me. However I deployed with those big elephants it was going to be crowded. I didn’t get good match-ups and got worse dice. It was a 4-0 defeat. I had hoped my Gauls might get to take out a cavalry that they flanked at only 2-2 odds), but I failed. The elephants faced blade, and didn’t initiate combat; not getting to choose the match-ups they had no special advantage. The game showed I still have a lot to learn about Carthaginians; I felt I was better off without the elephants.

  • Game 2: Romans v.  Later Carthaginians

The next game was quite a while later when I visited John for a game. It was the same armies again, except this time the Romans had the cavalry general that the list requires. I ended up in a similar fix; this time as the attacker. I was squashed by terrain, but at least had no elephants. Again I had low PIPs at the start, while the Romans had more than they could use. As the battle lines drew closer I got some high PIPs and tried to race my Numidians around one flank in front of the battle lines to the other. They got half way, and with a bit of measuring, I’d have seen they’d be ZOCed! I chose to let the Romans attack them, which they did with blades; this resulted in the Numidians being recoiled and unable to flee. Over a number of turns where I got 1 PIP they were slowly forced back, pushing back my spear at the same time.

Things were going badly, particularly when my psiloi-backed auxilia on one flank were doubled (another 1 by me!) in BGo by the daring Roman general (he had even odds). However, at this point I was saved by luck. My general and the other cavalry advanced through this wood to attack the Roman general; the plan was to get 2-1 odds on their general with ours in BGo. This depended on my cavalry recoiling theirs at even odds. They did better, doubling them! My general only recoiled the Roman one, but now the advantage on that flank tilted in my favour.

The Romans had now forced back my spear so far that they could flank a warband on a steep hill while they assaulted it with psiloi-supported blade. The first combat was 4-3 to them, but guess who won! And after that the other blade was toast. Luck turned things around for me in two bounds!

John was unlucky not to win against the warband, but the odds were not greatly in his favour there. I wonder if he might not have been better to have attacked the Numidians with his velites: 2-0 with overlaps. For a 1/36 chance of being 6-1ed he’d have had a 15/36 chance of doubling the light horse and winning the game (even if he’d not got the auxilia, he’d then have been able to get at the spear behind with blade).

My mishandling of the light horse created something of a Cannae situation, except it wasn’t my wings that folded in on the Roman centre, but my wings destroyed those opposite through the situation this manoeuvre created. Not a tactic I’ll try to repeat, though!

  • Game 3: Romans v. Later Macedonians

The last game was played last week. I got my Later Macedonians finished just in time for Joel to visit for the last time this year. I was keen to try them out against Polybian Romans. As they seem a tricky army to use I had a couple of experimental solo games before Joel arrived.

The problem with the Later Macedonians is that of all pike armies, protecting their flanks. They have plenty of BGo troops to protect one flank, if they can anchor it in BGo (and they have low aggression to make this likely), but they don’t have anything really strong to guard the other flank; the cavalry general and the light horse are really just a reserve, outclassed as they are by even the Roman cavalry contingent. I hit on the idea of positioning three big pieces of BGo so that there was a three base width gap between them, at least at the centre of the board. The Macedonians could then try to use the BGo to protect their flanks and then keep the cavalry in reserve. The problem with this is that neither flank is very strong, assuming they can get to both in time (as one may possibly be closer to the enemy’s baseline.

Anyway, in both the practice games the Romans advanced in column, using the road for speed; they could expand fairly confidently, as the Macedonians could not protect their flanks effectively beyond the BGo. The first time the Macedonians lost their mounted on one flank; the second they were winning in centre, where the three phalanx elements had taken one blade a piece. They were losing on one flank, though, where they were outnumbered. This was when Joel arrived. As the Macedonian LH run on the camp had been met by some Triarii that were QKed, and I’m sure it was 3-1 when I stopped, this can’t be quite right, but the protected pike were looking pretty good.

I made Joel take the mounted general and have aggression 4, as this would be post 204BC. Predictably he was the aggressor, and I laid my terrain in the way I’d been experimenting with. Joel however, got a base edge that put one piece of BGo close to him, too far for me to hope to use it as an anchor. The battle on that flank would be in the open, and he brought his cavalry around the hill to assist.

I didn’t help myself by advancing the pike too far; however, I had time to bring one of the 4Ax around from the left flank to assist the other and the 2Ps in the open; against the cavalry, they’d struggle for parity! The 4Wb was left to hold the other flank. Eventually they got bored and went looking for some unsupported spear, but with low PIPs and being out of command range, they never got to see action.

Joel’s blade came over the hill and linked up with his general. I got to attack first, and the odds were not brilliant; from right to left my general was on the outside flank facing the Roman 3Cv; my two 4Ax with a 2Ps in support faced his general and a 4Bd; then my light horse faced blades, and I’d brought two of the pike blocks across as well. My general managed to recoil his 3Cv; this left his general overlapped at 3-3, and the gods smiled, as we rolled 5-1 and his general was doubled. My 3Ax avoided being doubled against his blade and the game was mine!

Had I not got the chance to attack first and that lucky roll, I doubt I had much hope; the auxilia were very fragile against the blade in the open, and not so well matched against cavalry! Yet it was them who won the game.

  • IWC Ancient army?

My struggle to win with the Carthaginians had me thinking I needed more practice with them, and to make it more interesting I decided to make it a contest between them and the Ancient Britons. If the Britons could win they’d get to go to IWC instead! First up the Britons were the defenders, and the Carthaginians went for a small littoral landing of two psiloi and the auxilia, but the Britons put their chariots on that flank, so that plan lost all zest! The Carthaginians were forced to deploy this landing behind their battle line (with their predictable opening roll of 1 PIP). Their battle line consisted of the spear, backed by psiloi and flanked on each side by an elephant. With the auxilia and psiloi deployed awkwardly the advantage was with the Britons. As the spear tried to force the chariots back onto a marsh, one of them was exposed to a flank attack by some adventurous warband. These were made to pay in the next turn by an elephant, but that flank was in real peril: a lone psiloi and a light horse faced two each of their opposite number. These managed to get the Carthaginian light horse and then the elephant, but meanwhile they had lost a chariot to the auxilia and spear working together on the other flank. At this point the Carthaginian general was able to destroy one of the British psiloi that was in the open, making it 3-3. However, the Britons got the Carthaginian psiloi, which had been guarding the flank of their general, with their light horse. A victory that owed a good measure to Carthaginian ineptitude and too many elephants.

I had another game, this time the Britons were the defenders and the Carthaginians went for only one elephant. They were able to get their auxilia and two psiloi onto a steep hill before the British warband could get there. The battle at this point see-sawed for quite a while, but the uphill advantage proved decisive for the Carthaginians. I can’t quite remember how they won, but the Carthaginians won this battle. Their elephant got to destroy at least one chariot.

The Carthaginians, with their elephant and particularly their auxilia and psiloi have the edge over the Ancient Britons, so I would expect them to win. However, I still need a bit of practice using them. I’ll try them out solo against a few other armies when I get time.

A year’s worth of painting

21 December, 2010

Looking back over a year of painting, I can be pretty pleased. I bought more figures than I painted, but I got seven armies painted, and these can morph into others, and I got three more started. My plan to get all the major armies for the period of the Second Punic War is close to being achieved. I have the Gauls, the Carthaginians, the Spanish, the Romans and the Later Macedonians done. I got a Goblin army completed (admittedly largely out of figures painted last year, but it did involve rebasing) and a Komnenan Byzantine one. Under way are the Campanians, the Syracusans and the Seleucids. Also unfinished is the rebasing of the early feudal armies (and the fantasy ones), but I can come back to them once the Classical armies are done.

I’ve got a couple of charts that show the proportions of painted to purchased since I started. They’re slightly suspect, like most statistics, as I made some changes to make them look better. I now count mounted as two figures, and elephants and chariots as anything between four and six figures. I also have removed figures that I don’t plan to paint (I sold two unpainted armies this year, which helped), so the blue columns largely represent figures I hope to paint one day!

The yearly deficit of figures purchased to those painted!

Broken down by months.

Elephant comparisons

21 December, 2010

Now that I’ve got the Freikorp Seleucid elephant done, I thought I should offer a size comparison of it with the CB Carthaginian one and an OG15 one. Before seeing the Freikorp elephant I thought it was the CB elephant that had the problem, now I see that it is the OG15 one that is substantially smaller. In actual fact, the Freikorp one is a little bigger, as it should be, than the CB one. It also has smaller ears, which again is appropriate in distinction to the African one.

Freikorp, CB and OG15 elephants from the side. I really should have got the camera lower before taking this!

Front on.

The OG15 elephant is problematic; it was offered as part of an army pack by Mike Sanderson: the army of the early successor, Demetrius (II/15b). It’s quite inappropriate, as anachronistically it is both armoured and has a turret; still, compared to the rubbish 3Kn command, I should be happy! A Macedonian companion leader, appropriately enough, leads a Bactrian Greek and a Seleucid cataphract! They have value, I suppose, as samples! But it explains why a year on none of those armies are actually finished!

Headhunters again

21 December, 2010

A year ago I discovered the CB headhunters. These are painted now, and have done valiant service for the Gauls, Britons and even the Carthaginians. I now have some more naked fanatics waving severed heads (can never have too many, I say!). These are Freikorp figures, and as I said in my previous post, they are ones I’m quite fond of, as I got a pack of them some 25 years ago; if these were the same figures, which sadly they’re not, that’d be a good period for figures to moulder in a lead pile!

Nennius, the Corvus Belli headhunter, compares heads with his Galatian counterpart.

Another angle on the Galatians.

The Freikorp figures are not quite in the same league as the CB ones, but they’re by no means bad; they’re a little scrawnier (not much to eat on those Greek hillsides!) and their shields are fairly crude by comparison, but otherwise they’re great.

Later Macedonians ready to go

21 December, 2010

All the options for the Later Macedonians.

The Later Macedonians (II/35) have been done for a week now, but I’ve not got a chance to photograph them. The last elements that were being waited upon were four more elements of pike, a 4Ax (Thorakitai), a 4Wb (Galatians) and a 3Ax (Illyrians).

Philip V addresses his phalangites.

The pike were done as leukaspides (white shields) and chalkaspides (bronze shields); for these I mixed in the Freikorp argyraspides codes (HG01 and HG02), as they are really differ only in having plumes.

The phalanx, chalkaspides, leukaspides and 'cyanaspides'.

From the side.

From the other side.

The Thorakites look quite striking all in white, and contrast with the more motley Thureophoroi. The Illyrians don’t mix so well, having huge spearheads, but won’t be used that much, as the Galatians have more utility.

Thorakites and Illyrians.

Another angle.

The Galatians, still with their kit off after 100 year in the Mediterranean and with obligatory severed head, are quite special for me, as I bought this set back in the 80’s when it first came out. I got them on a whim, as I was actually building a Welsh army at the time. I never painted them as I didn’t know about washes then, and they would have looked pretty hideous all in one flesh tone. I eventually sold them, so these aren’t the same figures, but it’s quite neat to finally get to paint them some 25 years on!

Galatian warband, ready to go toe-to-toe with the Greeks in a display of nudity!

From behind.

I’m now waiting for the QRF January sale before I can finish the Seleucids or the Syracusans, but if I get a bit of time I have 12 Gallic warband figures to finish (they’re around half done) and I could work on the Campanians, but I don’t know how much painting time I’ll get while the kids are on holiday.

The next army I hope to have finished is the Later Macedonians. I’ve now got half of it painted, and I’m happy with the pike elements, so the rest should be straight forward. These are Freikorp figures and paint up well.

The first half of the Later Macedonians are done.

The seven cavalry figures I painted were an experiment before committing to another order of Freikorp figures. I’m happy with how they were to paint. The command figures were moulded all in one, while the light horse have separate riders. I took the possibly ill-advised decision to chop off the ‘grass’ that supported the front legs. I may find the back legs breaking if I’m not careful.

The mounted elements: Philip V surrounded by two elements of Tarantine cavalry, one will be in the Syracusan army.

Another angle.

And another.

The pikes took a little longer. I started one element with them at a 45° angle, which looked great, but was going to hit other figures too much, and with sharp Xyston points I didn’t think that was polite. Therefore I did another element with the spear vertical in the right hand. It’s not as good, but the shield with the hand ready to take the spear doesn’t look too silly. Having done this, I see Bob in Edmonton has managed to put very nice spearheads on broom bristles, which would have been an option.

The blue shield phalanx from the front. The third from the left has a bit of a lean on!

I used a pin vice to drill the place for the pike. This made a very snug slot the first time, but then needed to be filled in when I changed my mind. I found the point of a Xyston spear, along with a thimble, was the best way to start the vice, poking it into the base. Once I had a hole in the base I then used the side of the drill to cut into the side of the figure until it was snug with the hand.

From the side; the front rank show evidence of the repair when the pike was repositioned.

The rear rank have less armour and will be a good figure for dross pike elements. These figures were HG03 and HG04. For the next four elements I’ll mix in some HG01 and HG02, which only differ in the front rank in having a crest on the helmet; the back rank is armoured, but has no greaves.

From the other side.

Most of the variation in these figures is provided by head position. This makes for some interesting elements, with very few of the figures looking where they’re going!

Campanians move closer

6 December, 2010

While I did a couple of test elements for the Gladiator figures, I did a couple of Old Glory ones too. This was partly because psiloi are very quick to paint and partly to see how their hoplites compared to the Gladiator ones I was doing and to the Essex ones I’d done.

One third of the Campanians done.

I really like the Campanian hoplites; the Xyston spears help tie in the two figures that I had to drill out the hands for. I’m now keen to do the other three elements of them. This would only leave some more auxilia and some mounted elements to finish this army (and then I could do the remaining five to seven elements of auxilia to allow it to be used as Bruttian or Samnite.

Plenty of pose variation with these figures.

The Campanians now have an Army Page, shared with their Southern Italian neighbours.