Friday, 29 January 2016

Alexander marches west

The 4th game for my new army, and the first in which my basing was finished, was again against Proconsul Brooks and his imperial Romans. I must say  i am thrilled by the appearance of my Macedonians. Sure, this isn't professional painting, but it is an achievement for me.
 Back to the game ....

The Romans deployed first after deciding to commit less scouting dice to the contest. Rome had a clear advantage in medium troops, through their armoured auxilia, but did not make use of the rough terrain. Alexander decided to deploy forward, winning the race to the rough terrain on the flank. He would plough his phalanx straight into the medium Roman foot ... in the open terrain. Alexander's cavalry would hold back .... which was exactly what the legion was doing .... which did not end too well. 

The Macedonians stack their right flank, ready to overwhelm then turn onto the centre. 

The Romans deployed their auxilia forward ... would they be able to be supported? 

The proconsul pushed his cavalry forward on his left ... but this took time to perform and make a line ready for battle. 

Meanwhile, the Macedonian attack was in full swing. Archers are competent troops against lights, mediums or cavalry but struggle to make a dent in a line of heavy foot with shieldwall. The Romans threw forward a semi-sacrifical medium foot unit to slow the advance. Would Ares smile upon this offering? 

The lone unit battled bravely, but its only support came in the form of flights of arrows. These did not deter the advance.

On the right, Alexander awaited the Roman advance, happy for them to be using dice to move forward quickly that he was using for the left flank combat. Polydamas and Onomastus, my elephants, calmly awaited the cavalry dreaming of carnage. 

The Scythians shot away the Roman light cavalry ... the flank was open! 

The first pike unit was released ... it annihilated the first archer unit but was halted by the second it pursued into. 

The Roman cavalry flinched, charging the elephants. The result was predictable but this sent Polydamas and Onomastus careening forward without support. It also bought them in range of the Roman scorpio's. 

The Roman flank was battered but not yet broken. However each auxilia unit faced twice their number of opponents. 

The elephants, although peppered with shot, stomped their way over a cohort of raw legion before halting on another legionary unit. The Roman legate, frustrated by their success, turned a unit of cavalry to flank them. Hoplites and Greek allied cavalry from Corinth rushed to support but it was too late for the jumbo's ... but damage had been done. 

Better coordination by Alexander and Craterus on the left saw heavy foot unit after unit crash into the Romans. It was now revealed how damaging the rear deployment of the cohorts had been. They now advanced slowly and piecemeal to the fray. 

The Greek cavalry held up the armoured Roman lancers (impact cavalry) while the companions trounced the other unit. 

Here everything went astray for the Macedonians ... two units were lost. One companion unit fell to a volley of scorpio bolts. A hoplite unit then took four hits in one round of combat (!) and a single cohort pushed through onto the flank of a pike block. Having six hits however allows a pike block to stand up to surprising levels of punishment. 

The end of the battle ... Roman units held up for a while but eventually fell to the pike push and the peltasts flanking move. Besides a slight hiccup the forces of Alexander taste victory again. The Romans broke while Alexander had lost but 3 units - 12 army points - still a way to go before 1/3 losses. The Macedonian army certainly feels stronger in 500 pts than 400 but a stronger challenge awaits at he club this Sunday ... battle against a first Crusade force .... a large offering to Tyche and and Zeus will be required. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Alexander versus Aggrippa Round 2

Tonight the old grudge was renewed as Proconsul Brooks again had the gall to face my Macedonians. This time we played a 500 pts game of Sword and Spear as I had daubed some new units (all Forged in Battle excellent 15mm range.) Swelling the ranks were a unit of thureophoroi, scythian light horse and my elephants ... i had already named them ... Polydamos and Onomastus after two famous ancient greek wrestlers/boxers ... and didn't they live up to the reputations of their glorious antecedents tonight!
 Outscouted the Macedonians deployed to one side as they only had the light troops to contest one difficult terrain area. Their companions were on the right facing the angled flank of Roman auxilia medium foot and bowmen.

Below the fight for the rough going commences ... each general would commit more troops to this struggle. Battle here dominated the early phases of the game. Alexander hoped his javelinmen could engage and drive off the roman slingers. Initially Aggrippa held back his medium foot but it was soon injected here to avoid losing this area thus enabling troops to attack the flank of his main battle line. 

More troops join the fight on this flank ... a legionary cohort advances, auxilia led by Aggrippa himself and cavalry begin to ride around the side. Hoplites hurry to gang up on the cohort while the scythians try to shoot the remaining slingers away. 

Above shows the other side ... the angled and refused Roman flank decides to come forward to the joy of Aldxander. He throws all forces forward to smash these units before the legion can support. 

With great trumpeting blasts Polydamos and Onomastus near their foe. Hails of arrows from auxilia bow were turned aside harmlessly by elephants and companion cavalry alike. This was going to hurt! 

Back to the rough stuff, peltasts fought auxilia and hoplites fought legionaries. No-one, at this point had an advantage. Aggrippa urged his men to fight but his voice was seemingly lost among the rocks and bushes of the rough ground. 

The purple pike ... unnamed as yet ... are first to charge ... these trample a medium foot unit who dares oppose them. 

Looking across the battle line ... the legion seems content to let the auxilia fight it out. This decision would cost the romans. 

With a deafening roar the romans charged the elephants who routed them almost effortlessly. The mighty giants then pursued into the lone roman cavalry unit on this flank pinning it in combat. It haplessly awaited the companions to charge with full impact. The thuerophoroi, providing the link between phalanx and flanking units, charged the now isolated auxilia bow. Not a pleasant match up for the romans. 

Above shows the moment before the two units of Macedonian companion cavalry are released. At the top left shows the phalanx about to engage the legionary centre ... pike vs pila ... what would the result be? 

The consequence of impact charges ... the red companions ran down bowmen then pursued directly into slingers who were also routed. The blue and yellow companions, under the command of the dependable and lion-hearted Ptolemy, inflicted only one hit on the roman cavalry. However the subsequent combat with Polydamos and Onomastus proved fatal ... the elephants pursued narrowly missing stomping on some light cavalry too. The roman flank was not just in tatters ... it was gone ... including the commanding legate ... whose fragmentary corpse now decorated the toes of Onomastus! 

The initial fight still dragging on ... the hoplites had taken casualties but still remained in the melee. Aggrippa's presence still failed to motivate the auxilia ... the peltasts had suffered two hits but were desperate to win. Light foot with bow had flanked one cohort. Would this be enough to turn the fight? The romans had by now lost one third and the resulting tests saw panic begin to grip Rome's warriors. 

The end of the battle ... the cohorts had been humbled and auxilia decimated. Alexander had lost but one unit of javelinmen (although his peltasts and one hoplite unit had almoost broken.) Aggrippa fled from the combat in the rough going with only the roman cavalry fighting on. The remaining cohorts woud soon be surrounded and at the point their resolve faltered and a full scale rout ensued. Rome had suffered a terrible loss this day. But, as Polybius noted, even in the 2nd century BC, Rome's reserves of manpower make her a fearsome and indomitable opponent. I'm convinced Aggrippa (alias Proconsul Brooks) would be sure to return. And hopefully by then I can finish the bases on my army ... to be continued ...

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Alexander vs Agrippa 15mm Ancients wargame

The third battle for my Macedonian army erupted this evening as the early imperial army of Proconsul Rob blocked my advance into Italy. The Roman army used an altered list placing greater reliance on light horse, archers and auxilia heavy foot. Alexander trusted to his tried and true formula that had so far netted him 3 victories ... 3 pike blocks, 2 hoplites, 2 companions, 1 allied greek cavalry, 1 light cavalry and 1 slinger light foot.
 Deployment saw difficult terrain stacked on the Macedonian left so they refused that flank and had the phalanx and companions leading on the right. The Romans stacked their opposite flank but their main attack was led by their archers and cavalry units.

It was uncertain whether the phalanx would be able to travarse the enormous gap between the main enemy battle lines. The Romans too were never able to engage which may well have put too much pressure on Alexander's command dice pool. The Romans decided to rush onto the Macedonian left flank trying to overwhelm it. Key to this would be peppering the enemy line with archers who would infest the central wood. This tactic would prove less than successful as the Macedonians withdrew their lights out of range leaving the archers to fire at hoplites to little effect. 

The slingers, straying too far forward, ran back in the nick of time. 

Riding hard from the far right Ptolemy arrived just before the Roman cavalry attacked. His billowing blue cloak was seen by the men and inspired them to hold firm. He has consistently fought like a lion in all three battles. Craterus, usually commanding the left flank, can be seen in a brilliant red cloak. 

The greek light  cavalry tried to flank the Romans. This tactic failed as they were swept away by the opposing light cavalry who then turned the Macedonian flank. This unit had a chance to do this but the noble general Craterus, who had not performed well in the last battle loosing his flank, made the single critical discipline check to prevent his allied Greek cavalry unit from routing. 

The action on this flank was fierce. With the romans defeating the greek light cavalry then their archers destroying a unit if hoplites the confidence of Alexander was beginning to wane. Craterus however was taking matters into his own hands crushing the Romans facing him and running down the general. The subsequent morale test robbed the remaining Roman cavalry of their fresh status. 

The key moment above when Craterus saves the day. In the top of the image a second hoplite unit was injected into the fray smashing the medium foot archers to revenge their compatriots deaths. 

The heavy lines close the gap. The companion unit on the right of the image would prove key to the conclusion of the battle. 

The flank clear of Romans. The slingers introduction to the flank of the final cavalry unit ensured their demise. The allied cavalry under Craterus turned to face the flanking light Roman cavalry annihilating them. 

The flank free of Romans. At the top the victorious Ptolemy had joined the remaining hoplites leading them to the fray. By now the Romans had reached their demoralisation point with several units gaining hits from the subsequent tests. 

Although the Roman bolt throwers sent several missiles plunging through one phalanx block the Macedonians were able to muster equal heavy foot units to the Romans (who had now lost five units - and thus dice - while the Macedonians had lost but two.) This is when that, so far unengaged, Companion cavalry unit on the right came into play. With each Roman unit matched to a Macedonian block, none could prevent that Companion unit from attacking the flank. The game was called with very minimal losses for Alexander .... his brave march could continue. Hopefully he would soon be able to call on additional units and expand his battle to 500 pts. 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Sword and Spear ... Alexander defends Greece

Last night saw the first outing of my nw S&S army ... the Macedonians. I have recently had a burst of activity painting them ... thanks to rainy holidays .... and have the core of the force complete. The miniatures are Xyston and War and Empire by Forged in Battle. I especially like the forged in battle minis and, despite their much vaulted reputation, i have found the xyston minis not as good. Yes, the sculpting is nice but their is a great variance in size between figure packs, too much flash and the metal is somtimes brittle causing breaks.
 But ... back to my macedonians .... i am very happy with the product ... i still have to do the bases but i have varnished them so they can stand up to handling and thus gaming. I have many more unit to swell the army and allow it to become a diadochi and even a mithridatic army (can't wait to do the scythed chariots!)
 The game last night occurred as my good friend Rob and I renewed our Thursday games for 2016. He used an early imperial roman list. There was plenty of terrain but it all seemed o congregate around my base edge. I deployed clear of it as i had few light troops - playing only 400 pts in Sword and Spear leads to some harsh decisions. Given the preponderance of hills on my side we both reasoned Alexander must be defending Greece from roman aggression.

Rob anchored his line of legionaries between rough going (could be difficult i forget.) Those bloody little archers in the rough would provide my cavalry flanking force with ongoing issues. 

His other flank was held by auxilia spear with his cavalry waiting to see which side the Macedonians would push on. This flank (his right) i would spend most of the evening trying to get around (which i eventully did causing the game to be called early - only I wanted to see the effect of impact cavalry charging the cohorts in the rear while they faced pike blocks frontally.)

The above shows the Macedonian deployement. Only missing is the left flanks push by two Companion cavalry units under the command of Ptolemy (who fought like a lion when charged by Roman cavalry holding them up long enough for the other Companion unit to smash into their flank driving them from the field.)

Unfortunately i have no photography of the middle of the battle. As i have already suggested it was a game of cat and mouse on both flanks as both sides jockeyed for position. This opened a gap inthe Roman line a cohort from the centre was sent to reinforce the flanks. This allowed the Greek hoplites and one regiment of the phalanx to engage a single cohort .... needless to say at considerable disadvantage to the Roman. This situation was exacerbated by the evaporation of an elite cohort when it charged a hoplite unit and rolled 4 1's thus disappearing from the table in a single turn. With two central units out of the main line Alexander ordered the line forward. 

After dispatching the Roman cavalry on this flank the Macedonians evaded the ploding heavy foot ....the baggage would be theirs! Then to smash the Roman centre.

The Romans did not committ enough cohorts to the centre allowing 2 to 1 match ups.

So in their first outing the Macedonains buck the fresh painted hoodoo to win! In short Rob rolled poorly in two key combats which didn't helphis cause but his command dice were excellent despite this. We'll take the maiden victory however they come. Once again this shows the importance of flanks in S&S with both of us remarking at the end of the game how often battles were decided here. It was also a good example of sticking to your plan as the Macdonian cavalry eventually turned the flank and drew away vital cohorts from the fight in the centre probably deciding the game. Offerings will follow to Tyche as will  Macedonian invasion of Italy next Thursday night. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Revenge of the Briton

It is with considerable enthusiasm that myself, and Michael a close friend of mine, embraced the "Dux Britanniarum." They read easily ... once you've got your eye into the Lardies style of organisation and expression ... the background is exceptional ... the period tickles and excites the imagination ... but on the table top .... meh!
 I don't really know why this is. We've made some errors with the rules - true - but have had some enjoyable games ... but I have never been fulfilled by them. I just haven't really enjoyed playing the games. The Saxons initially massacred the Britons ... mainly due to their better troop quality ... but as game have gone on the Saxon players have been "extremely perplexed" by the benefits of the shieldwall rule. I am not certain yet as to the dominance given in battle by this rule but my companions certainly dislike it ... and I value what they have to say.
 That's not to say we have given up on these rules or on this period. We are still excited by the rules. I am worried that the main Saxon advantage seems to be their speed and I do not want games to turn into a "Benny Hill" type scenario where the Brits flail after the cheeky Saxons evening after evening. We have also noticed that loot does seem a little hard to come by for the Saxons but then again we haven't put ourselves fully into a campaign as yet (although we have given it a good go ... linking 4-5 games and not really getting anywhere.)
 All that said ... and I dislike criticism of an innovative company that I have the utmost respect for ... I am still looking for that rules system that scratches my Dark Age itches (I have posted before about Sword and Spear not quite doing it and I think Dux Bellorum came pretty close ... but Saga isn't really it although it is fun ... so as you can see I have tried a few.)
 Onto the battle ... I do like images of my Dark Age collection .... thanks so much to Gripping Beast plastics who create a magnificent product!

The pagan Saxons pour off the boats. (I had inflated the forces well past the Dux starting numbers ... I wanted 'bloodshed!') 

Objective one for the Saxons ... the monks had to run ahead of impending doom. Brother Sodomicus cops an arrow or two for his troubles. (If only they had shot Brother Fellatius ... he likes it rough!) 

The valiant defenders of Briton surge onto the field! 

The Saxons care little for the history of the land they have invaded ... onto plunder. 

The second force of Britons ... their army was separated ... by the force of Medraut threatened the Saxon flank and would have to be dealt with. 

Urien's command of levy sheltered the monks as they reached safety ... his levy troops steadfastly stood in shieldwall repelling a single group of Saxon warriors. 

The commander of the Britons, Coroticus, annihilates the Saxon left flank, killing their leader. However, the Saxon Seigberht, is enraged by the loss of his countrymen and hurries to engage the flank of the British. 

Near the stone hut the Saxon Lord, Hrodgar, sends only part of his force to attack Medraut's men. 

The battle rages in the centre. Shock mounts on both sides. 

Half of Coroticus's forces fall but bearing the holy banner of the virgin he fearth the pagan NOT! 

Especially when Urien approaches the rear of the Saxons ... this is going to hurt. And it did ... Coroticus by the end of the battle had killed two Saxon leaders and demolished three units of their warriors. Does an Arthur rise? 

Almost the end ... Medraut's levy are sent packing by Hrodgar's warriors ... but then he confronts them with his warriors. God smiled upon the Britons this night. 

In all a good battle ,,, esp as I commanded the British ... but as I have said before ... it just left us all felling a little limp and like we were missing something ... my Dark Age search continues.