Wednesday 26 May 2010

Carthage hangs on in Sicily

Just a short report about the latest battle in our Empire campaign.  Gordon brought the figures back this evening and filled me in on what happened.  Essentially, it seems as though as consul of the day he placed the attacking Roman army slightly offset to one side.  Rather than deploy symmetrically, they put all of their cavalry on the flank nearest the mass of the legions, and all the Italian auxiliaries on the other flank to fend off attacking Carthaginian horse for as long as possible.  He also reduced the Italians to Militia Grade and uprated the Latin Principes to heavy infantry.  Apparently, the assault almost worked. Indeed, the Romans broke the Carthaginians just before their own army reached its breakpoint in the same turn.

So the result is the same as last time: a draw, although in mirror image to what happened in Magna Graecia.  Next week is the first club meeting of the month, so the usual multi-player extravaganza takes precedence.  We will resume the campaign the week after, as the Macedonians crunch their way into Persia itself. Will Persepolis burn again?

Thursday 20 May 2010

Carthage and Rome: The 1st Punic War begins

Warning: this is not historically accurate content.  More pseudo-historical (or something like that).

Explanation: we played the latest tabletop battle generated in our Empire campaign on Tuesday evening.  The Carthaginians attacked the Romans in Magna Graecia.  I did produce a map of the Roman deployment, which was predictable enough: Roman legions in the centre, with socii to either side; Italian auxiliary foot and cavalry to either flank.  William did give me a printout of his battle plan for the Carthaginians, but I can't remember the unit sizes and deployments, so this short report will be narrative only.

Basically, the Carthaginians set up against the symmetrical Roman deployment as follows:
  • Left wing: strong cavalry force.
  • Centre: various infantry units.  A mixture of elite and veteran spearmen; Spanish; Italians and Gauls.
  • Right wing: a weaker cavalry force, mostly composed of Numidian light horse.
  • Across the front: various skirmish infantry types.
Carthaginian plan: pretty obvious, really.  Big punch on the left, flank the legions and kill them before they cave in the centre.

Which is almost what happened.  The Carthaginians did break the Roman right wing and the two rightmost legions, but only just before the polyglot centre itself collapsed.  A battlefield victory of sorts for Carthage, but technically a drawn battle, which means Rome holds on to Magna Graecia. 

The Roman hydra has recruited two more legions and invaded Sicily in return; this is next week's game.  I won't be able to make it, but Gordon will borrow my legions and take them into the club.  The campaign is picking up some speed after the final demise of Alexander.  The next few turns should pass rapidly since there are no Great Captains due to appear for a while.  This means that each great power gets only one possible move per turn, so we should see movement right across the region map.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Some more photos of Zama from Carronade

Matheo on TMP has posted some photos he took of Carronade:

These are very nice indeed and show many of the best elements on display. 

The three above show some different views of our game from the ones I've already posted.  The first shows all the central infantry lines just as the initial units clash, this time from the left rear perspective of the Romans.  The second is a close-up of the initial fight from the heavy cavalry flank.  The third shows the whole table, from the same position.  Thanks to Matheo for permissions.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Start of Empire Turn 5

This is the map at the beginning of Turn 5.  Progress in the campaign so far:
  • Carthage has lost no territories and conquered Sicily
  • Rome has lost no territories and conquered central and southern Italy
  • Macedon has lost no territories.  Under Alexander, it has conquered Thrace and taken Asia Minor, Pontus, Armenia and Mesopotamia from the Persians.
  • Persia has lost Syria and Bactria to rebellions, and has also lost Asia Minor, Pontus, Armenia and Mesopotamia to the Macedonians.  Persia still exists as an "empire" consisting of two provinces.
William rolled for rebellions, and Iberia has revolted against the Carthaginians.  He also rolled randomly to see which of the four empires would be first to go in this turn: Carthage.  Rather than choose to see what they would do, he rolled randomly: 1-4 attack Iberia, 5-6 attack the Romans in Magna Graecia from Sicily.  The rationale was that these were the only two possibilities, and since Iberia is worth twice as much there should be twice as much chance of the attack going there.  But he rolled a 5, so the First Punic War is on, albeit not quite as happened historically.  First battle of the turn next week.

Empire Turn 4 (320-310 BCE): A Summary

In Turn 4, events happened in the following order:
  • Rome is defeated in Cisalpina
  • Macedon takes Pontus from the Persians
  • Macedon takes Armenia from the Persians
  • Persia is defeated in Bactria
  • Carthage takes Sicily
  • Macedon takes Mesopotamia from the Persians

Macedon Marches on

Yesterday evening the Macedonian war machine triumphed again.  I won't give a deployment map; it was all pretty straightforward.  A main Macedonian right cavalry punch with central phalanxes en echelon and a refused left flank guard.  The Persians took an all cavalry army with skirmish infantry support.  There was a huge number of figures on the table, but the game was over very quickly.  It probably took us longer to set up and pack away than it did to fight the battle.  The Persians just kind of melted right across the front in the face of a relentless Macedonian advance.  There were some awkward moments on the Macedonian right due to wave attacks, but once this stabilised the momentum resumed.  The Macedonian left was in trouble by the end of the game from a huge swathe of Persian horse, but by then the Persian left and centre had collapsed and it was game over.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Dead Nellies

I purchased four of Simon the Big Red Bat's dead nellies from Aventine miniatures:

I didn't have the time to do any great modelling on them, but I tried to make each of them unique in some way.  The first one has been finished off by its mahout (spike in head); the second managed to get hold of a Roman standard before dying; the third has fallen on some unfortunate Numidian; and the fourth has been efficiently targeted by Velites.  They attracted lots of comment at Carronade yesterday - a reminder of how brutal ancient warfare really could be.


These photos have just been taken of a bunch of really old figures I bought at one of the shows a few years ago.  They were in a real mess, heavily and badly painted with enamels.  I added some Essex Galatians to the mix and did a recovery job.  I'm quite pleased with the result - a reasonably quick way to get useable figures on the table.  We deployed them as two 24-figure units of Ligurians at yesterday's Zama game at Carronade.  Some of the figures are pretty basic Minifigs, I think, while others are actually quite nice.  I have no idea what most of them are.  I reasoned that the best thing to do for Ligurians was to paint up folks who looked roughly Gallic, but not do any patterns or checks or anything like that.  Partly this was for speed of painting, but also partly it was a pragmatic choice - I don't think most of the figures could have taken too much extra painting, and I didn't want to have to strip them down and then start all over again.  As it was, I managed to get 48 figures on the table in less than two weeks.

Saturday 8 May 2010

Zama at Carronade

We replayed Zama at the Carronade show in Falkirk today.  This time, it was a draw with both armies reaching their break point in the same turn, Carthage first.  Photos courtesy of Michael:

All three show the point of contact between the first waves of infantry in both armies.  I really like the first one, the close-up, which shows some of Simon the Big Red Bat's elephant casualty figures.  The second photo is a full table shot from the Roman right rear; the third is from the Carthaginian left rear.  In all three you should be able to see the second and third lines of Carthaginians, and the Principes with Triarii in column in reserve on the Roman side. 

After the Battle Day game on the sand table, which was a comprehensive Roman victory, we tweaked the rules somewhat.  The Romans were allowed a pilum volley once per unit; to compensate, the Ligurians and Celtiberians could only try to gain impetus once.  We also raised the quality of the Carthaginian citizens to Veteran Medium Infantry.  The idea was to try to get the central grinding match as close as possible.

In the event, the game worked really well.  The elephants took a nasty volley from the Velites before the latter were negated by the Carthaginian skirmishers.  This meant that when the elephants contacted the Hastati, the pachyderms were easily destroyed with little loss to Rome.  The central infantry grind then began, with only a couple of Ligurian units getting in a full charge.  When the dust cleared from the initial contact, the Carthaginian expendables had been expended, but nearly half of the Hastati were still there, albeit damaged.  The Citizens went in next and finished off the Hastati at horrendous cost to themselves.  They in turn were wiped out by the Principes, inflicting enough damage to give Hannibal's veterans a good chance.

In the meantime, both sides were extremely unwilling to commit their heavy cavalry.  When the clash did come, the Carthaginians were comprehensively wiped out, unlike the previous game.  On the other flank, Masinissa recklessly charged in against Tychaeus and had a bad time, spending the rest of the game skirmishing ineffectually.

The overall crisis came right across the front.  On the Roman left, one unit of Hannibal's troopers had to peel off to stop the cavalry flanking the entire Carthaginian army.  This gave the Romans superiority in this part of the line, which they exploited ruthlessly, as is their wont.  The Bruttians in the centre of the third line of Hannibal's army crunched through the Principes and into the Triarii.  And on the Roman right some of Tychaeus' horse managed to help out against the rightmost unit of Triarii.

The Carthaginian army reached its break point first, but as we played out the turn to full conclusion, so did the Romans.

For photos of the other games, see

Thursday 6 May 2010

Scenario for Ilipa

This is a battle I've always wanted to play out, but getting together enough Spanish and Celtiberians to do so is beyond our club resources at the moment.  Still, I've put a scenario together for it anyway, and maybe one day we'll be able to run it.  You'll find it on the page for Ancients Scenarios; link on the left hand column of the blog.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Hillmen Light Infantry types

These are more old Essex figures salvaged from a previous incarnation to serve in my Seleucid army.  They can be used as generic Light Infantry: Anatolians, Kappadokians, any near eastern hillmen really.  I wanted to finish these so as to have more than just peltasts available.  There are two different figures mixed in randomly; I have 36 of them in total.


More from the Macedonians, this time old Companions.  I think they are Naismith Design.  They were pretty beaten up and had been quite heavily painted with enamels.  I don't know the make of the figure I used for the officer; like Alexander, he was an extra one I found with the rest.  I deliberately painted the standard bearer in reverse colours to make him a little different.  These seem to have turned out okay; I had no idea what they would like when I started them.


These are photos of an old Alexander figure that came with a Macedonian army I bought from Eric a few years ago.  He was unpainted, and had no horse, so I stuck him on this one.  I have no idea who made either.  With my usual impeccable timing, I have managed to finish him too late to take part in the Empire campaign.

On the painting tray: May 2010

Last month was very productive, probably because I wasn't painting Romans: 18 Companions; a mounted Alexander figure; 72 Imitation Legionaries; and 36 Light Infantry.  All of these have been waiting to be redone as part of the ongoing cleanup of my older figures.  I'm finding that I can do this a lot more quickly when I get some time, and it is encouraging.  Next up: 4 elephant casualty figs (courtesy of Simon the Big Red Bat) and 48 Ligurians for the next Zama game.  The latter is a batch of really old, badly painted stuff (with enamels) that I bought at a show dirt cheap years ago, plus some of my own Essex figures.  I hope they will look all right mixed in together.