Pokeno Invitational

7 February, 2015

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. A few weeks back I had my first gaming of the year, a chance to catch up with Joel and John and to see Keith for the first time in a good long time. Keith has already posted about the day, which was really enjoyable. I lost most of my games and at the time complained of poor dice, but on reflection it was really poor planning — plans that depend on good PIP dice aren’t really plans, but endeavours in blind luck! Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun and it was good to see armies out on the table that haven’t been used in a while. My Comnenan Byzantines were used twice, as were my Normans (as Early Crusaders). My Polybian Romans and Late Carthaginians were also used (oddly we had three games going simultaneously first with the Romans on one side each and then the Carthaginians). Pyrrhus’ army, Prefeudal Scots and Saxons completed the turnout.

After that day, John and I continued at my house with a game of Song of Blades and Heroes. It was a chance to use the Gnolls and some terrain. The fight at a bridge resulted in the Gnolls losing decisively against some Normans. The bridge was a bottle neck that probably favoured the superior firepower of the Normans, though the Gnolls did get to achieve a few consolation kills.

The gaming renewed my enthusiasm for painting, and I’ve got my four blocks of Successor 4Pk closer to completion, but other projects still manage to finish before them!

Sunday DBA

27 January, 2014

Yesterday I go the Auckland City Guard again. I had a couple of games of DBA 2.2 with John. This time I even pulled out my phone and took a few pictures.

  • Pyrrhus of Epirus against the Romans

The first game I used the later Epirot army of Pyrrhus. I’ve had the figures for a while, but not used them much. John used my Polybian Romans. I was the attacker and thought I was onto something pretty good when a third of the Romans seemed to be deployed too far to their right to do anything. Furthermore, for quite a while their PIPs were low and we advanced the bulk of our army as fast as we could while some light troops used the wood to protect the flank.


Pyrrhus advances on the Romans

All went well initially. Our general removed a Bd and its supporting legion. However, on our left flank our cavalry were destroyed and the elephant fell back. The  LH were lucky to survive a round of combat downhill from cavalry. On the right flank we lost our psiloi, but our Auxilia destroyed a Bd. It was 3-2 and we killed another Bd by flanking it with the general. Victory seemed assured until our double-ranked spear were destroyed by some Triarii (I’m now unsure if we’d calculated the odds correctly; I think we were each overlapped). Anyway, with losses at 4-4 the Romans chased off my LH to make an unexpected comeback.


The Triarii triumph!

  • Pyrrhus against the Syracusans

Next John took the Pyrrhic army and I got out my Syracusans. In this game I was the attacker (no mean feat against Agg. 4). I was lucky to survive the first round of combat, and in fact my Wb destroyed a double-ranked Sp (an error we realized later!). Despite this, a Ps that had shot into our rear almost won the battle by causing our Art to turn to face; a Sp recoiled into it and the Ps destroyed it.


Gallic mercenaries are responsible for most of the killing!

However, this time our cavalry won on the left flank and the Gauls destroyed the rear rank of some pike giving Syracuse a narrow victory.

Both games were very close and see-sawed. Unlike the DBA 3.0 games I’ve played recently, there was more time to adjust set-up. I’m looking forward to making DBA games at this club a regular event.

  • Camp progress

The four camps that I started nearly two years ago are almost finished; I just need to flock them. The Carthaginians, Romans, Syracusans and Seleucids will each have their own camp. After that I plan t paint seven elements of 4Pk for Successor armies. I’ll be able to use Antigonus Monophthalmus as a Pk general, which could be interesting.

All the elephants arrayed. Not quite enough yet for a whole army, but getting there!

Well, I’ve got some Gauls and some pikemen on my painting desk and the Gauls are all but done now (I think I started them this time last year!), but three elements of elephants jumped the queue. They are quicker to do and allow me to field a number of successor armies straight away. This made them more inviting as I got back into painting after a couple of months’ break. In the process of doing them I got the Gauls nearly done too.

The Seleucid elephant, now with skirmisher support, faces off against the Ptolemaic one.

Along with the three elephants (two early successor and one Ptolemaic), I did four archers as skirmisher support. I added one onto the base of the Seleucid elephant I’d done earlier, as particularly in the later period they deployed the elephants with a lot of surrounding skirmishers.

The Ptolemaic elephant; it is an African one and smaller than the Asian ones. Note the goad that I made for the mahout.

The figures are all Freikorp and I think their elephants are excellent. They are easy to assemble, well animated and their seems to be (to my inexpert eye) a distinction between the African and Asian ones. The Ptolemaic elephant is smaller and has different ears. As these figures don’t come with goads for the mahouts I made them using the ends of lead spears that I’d cut down for javelins. I flatten the end, cut a split in it and bent one side into a hook and gently filed the two end to points. The hooks are perhaps bigger than they should be, but they look the part and were quick and easy to make.

From the other side with its skirmisher support.

The Ptolemaic elephant will also be used as a Pyrrhic one, meaning that with the xystophoroi that I did a while back I can now field the early Ptolemaic and the Pyrrhic armies.

Early Successor elephants ready to go against each other (when I get more pike painted!

The pair of early successor elephants, without towers, allow me to field a number of the armies starting with Alexander, though I need to get some unshielded cavalry to be fully accurate. They allow fights between successor armies (when I get more pikemen painted) and me to field the earliest Seleucid army with two elephants.

The two elephants ready to serve in the early Seleucid army.

From another angle.

And yet another.

Getting these guys to sit on the elephants provided a bit of drama. When my first attempt failed I tried araldite, which is too slow to set, then pinning, which was a travesty. Finally I tried again with super glue and it was quite straight forward, but if you look at the mahout on the blue elephant you’ll see his slightly grey beard and a mark on his chest reveal the scars of this exercise!

Next up, when I get time, will be the Gauls, who allow me to field the Gauls, the Carthaginians and the Syracusans all at the same time. Then I’ll either buckle down to doing seven stands of pike, or I’ll do some smaller projects, such as a 4Bd for the later Seleucids, and some of the cavalry for that ‘d’ list (who can be used for the Mithridatic one too).


17 July, 2011

Ptolemaic Xystophoroi.

I’ve completed two elements of Xystophoroi. They are Freikorp figures with spears from Xyston. They are for a Ptolemaic army; however, they can be used for quite a number of other armies. I’m close to being able to field a whole swathe of successor and Hellenistic armies, though not in opposition to each other. The biggest hold-up is two more elements of elephant. One is an Early Successor one with a pikeman sitting on its back. The other is an unarmoured one with a tower. The first of these would allow me to do a whole range of early successor armies, the other would be for the Ptolemaic army and for a Pyrrhic one. Otherwise, there’s a lack of pikes. My next project may be about seven elements of pikes to allow opposing pike blocks (one of these would be a command element for Antigonus Monophthalmus).

From another angle.

I have two elements of 3Cv ready to go too, but they are waiting for decals on their shields (which are in the post). These are for the Syracusans, but can be used by a number of other armies, though I’m not sure when shields started to be used, making them less useful for some of the earlier armies.

I’ve updated my armies page with a list of all the new armies I should soon be able to field!

From the rear.

Otherwise, I darkened my Seleucid elephant a while ago; it was much lighter than the two Carthaginian ones, so I gave it a drybrush with a darker grey, which I think improves it.

A more tanned Seleucid elephant.

Retrofitting hopla

17 November, 2010

I’ve been looking for good hoplite figures for a while. I guess I could go with Xyston, which are doubtless very good, but likely to be too big and are a hassle with their undrilled hands. I got some Gladiator hoplites, but am not really satisfied with them (though I’m yet to paint any). I actually like the Essex hoplite, but its shield is a travesty, being too small and having no rim. What’s a hoplite with a crap hoplon?

The old Essex hoplites.

I found a way around this when I got some of the hopla from Freikorp (for their HG17). I found it was actually quite easy to remove the Essex shields, although the spear had to come off as well (and it’s a whole lot easier if the figures aren’t based!). I used a craft knife and as the metal is very soft they came off without much effort, better still the arm stayed on! I painted the Freikorp shields up quite a while ago, but did nothing until last weekend about actually attaching the shields to the hoplites. I only have 8 of the Freikorp shields, so I painted up another element of hoplites and attached the shields using green stuff (as the concave backs made for poor contact with what remained of the figures’ arms.

The retrofitted hoplites.

One thing I’ve found with the Freikorp shields is that they seem to be quite porous, and washes are very dark on them, even after adding a transfer. By contrast, the Essex figures have very shallow detail, which means washes don’t pick up as much detail as on some figures. For all that, I like the pose of the Essex figure and the variations of armour and helmets that stop them being too uniform.

From another angle.

The hoplites are going to be used for a Syracusan army, though I’m sure they can morph into quite few other hoplite armies. Before I order any more shields, however, I have to paint some of the other Freikorp figures I’ve ordered, to check they’re a range I want to get more of. I’m working on a Seleucid elephant (HG10a), which I think has great animation, and compared to the CB one is a breeze to put together. I’m also working on a scythed chariot (HG27), which is very attractive, though a little big for the base. I’m also painting a command for the Later Macedonians from HG20 and HG21 and some Tarantine cavalry for these and the Syracusans (HG25).

Finally, I’m doing an element of Macedonian pike (HG03). These are nice figures, with a good pose and variations on the head position and helmet. The shield is also appropriately smaller than a hoplon. Once these are painted I’ll order some more of those hopla and the figures I need to complete the Hellenistics as Syracusans, Seleucids, Ptolemaics and even Pyrrhic (I only bought samples of the cavalry first up, but based on these I’m very happy with their range).

And another angle.

Last Saturday I got down to Christchurch and got to see The Wargames Room that I’d read reports from without realizing it was also a physical location. Keith had organized for two other Society of Ancients members to come over to fight some battles as part of the SoA Championship. We each got to play each other once, making for three games each. Keith has already described them on his website, but I’ll add an account of my three battles.

I’d brought my Carthaginians down, complete with their freshly painted elephants and full of confidence. My first battle was against Brian, who also had a new army, Lydians (I/50). I thought this would be a walk in the park for me, as my elephants and warbands would have the edge over his spear, and my elephants would be the bane of his knights, who would also not find my psiloi-supported spear an easy target (I had 1x3Cv (cmd), 2xEl, 1x2LH, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 2x2Ps). I was the attacker and I got to have Brian fight with a wood in the centre of his line. He had his spear on one side and his cavalry on the other side of the woods with a psiloi in the woods and two behind the spear. I deployed with my spear on the left, facing his cavalry, and my cavalry and warband up against his spear. Brian decided not to advance the spear and to retire his knights behind the woods, leaving just the light horse on that flank. By the time I got my elephants across to his spear, the knight were behind them and the general was on the flank, facing my Numidians. My spear were fairly ineffectually shielding the two 2LH. This meant that on the flank that saw the main action I had half of my army facing most of Brian’s, not a sensible proposition. Anyway, I hoped that the QK of the Gauls and elephants would carry me to victory. I had some success; the psiloi that met his in the woods routed it and the Gauls charged to victory against an element of spear, but the elephants, flanking my general, were both repulsed. I now had a very ragged battle line that would need a lot of PIPs to sort out. My Gauls, overlapped on both sides by their pursuit, were ridden down by knights. I then got few PIPs to rearrange my battleline. I’m a bit hazy about how it all played out in the end, but I know his general destroyed the overlapped Numidians and I think I lost my psiloi, who lacked elan, rolling a 1! So I lost my first victory largely due to overconfidence.

In my next battle I faced Keith, who chose to field Numidians to give me a historical opponent. He took 6x2LH (1=cmd), 5x3Ax and 1x2Ps (I think—there was no elephant and only 1 2Ps). I took 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 1xEl, 1x2LH, 3x4Sp, 1x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 3x2Ps). Keith was the defender and chose a battlefield with a wood that was between us on the right flank and a steep hill on my side on the left flank. The other terrain proved irrelevant. Keith had a pair of 2LH on each flank and a group of 3Ax on a hill to his rear. He got a pair of 3Ax into the wood on my right flank. I deployed with the 3Ax and the 3Wb on the hill and a 3Cv on the left flank next to the 3Wb. My spear and elephant were deployed in the centre with the general in reserve, and I had a pair of 2Ps on the right flank; against 2LH they were had equal odds, though they were slower.

As the battle unfolded, Keith sent a pair of 2LH around each flank. I tried to head off those on the right flank by sending my psiloi towards the woods, but they were met by the 3Ax and outclassed. On the left flank Keith didn’t have the PIPs to advance (the other flank kept him busy, especially with command and control issues), so I brought my cavalry round to support the centre (though it never actually got into combat); meanwhile my general went LH hunting and had some success (he was supported by my 2LH, I think). However, one of these proved very resilient and delayed any progress on that flank. I advanced my centre by wheeling on the 3Ax that stayed on the end of the hill. This didn’t achieve much beyond encouraging Keith to attack the elephant with his general. This was a risky manoeuvre, but luck was with him and he got that QK before I could overlap the general with a psiloi. By the time my 3Cv was in a position to help it was too late, and his general had killed another psiloi, making my losses an elephant and three psiloi.

The last battle was for the wooden spoon, as Andrew had not had any success either. He chose to be Pyrrhus, again giving me a historical opponent. He took the early army (1x3Kn (cmd), 1x3Cv, 6x4Pk, 2x4Sp, 2x2Ps). I was the defender and decided on a waterway (as it looked so nice!). I then took a pair of small marshes and a small wood as the rest of the terrain. I had 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 1xEl, 1x2LH, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 2x2Ps. I decided to risk a littoral landing, but a conservative one; I intended to land the two 3Wb, the 3Ax and a 2Ps next to a central marsh on the right flank. I got off to a shaky start with two 1s for PIPs and the littoral landing only just made it into the marsh before Pyrrhus and his knights arrived. I had an early success by killing a 2Ps that came into the marsh, but that was the end of my success. Andrew attacked my Wb with his Sp and destroyed one (who had his front out of the BGo—oops!) when the dice failed me. He then boldly went into the BGo after the other one and repeated the exercise at much more chancy odds. And before I could really react with the rest of my army my ‘conservative’ littoral landing was destroyed by decisive and daring work by Andrew’s hoplites, supported by Pyrrhus himself. It was a comprehensive defeat (not in the least Pyrrhic!), and one I simply would not have anticipated. Andrew had a certain amount of luck, but he deserved the victory with his unhesitating reaction to the littoral landing. I didn’t have time to reinforce these troops, who were not much over halfway down the field.

  • Review

It was a great evening. I enjoyed all the games, despite finishing last. I can see I’ve still got some learning around how to use the Carthaginians, particularly how to use those elephants, who did nothing of note in any of the games. Perhaps they could be used for trampling the unsuccessful generals (a variant on the more traditional crucifixion)!

With hindsight in the first battle I should have taken the time to get my spear where it could face Brian’s spear and then I would have had the odds and the favourable match-ups to win (his spear still had superior odds to my elephants, although vulnerable to QKs. As he was static, this needn’t have been too hard. Against Keith the biggest change I would have made would have been to put the 3Cv next to the general in the centre; then I could have intervened more decisively on the right flank. Against Andrew, I think the littoral landing was not so risky, but I should have had some cavalry ready to support it on that flank; the 2LH would have been the obvious choice.