Saturday 31 July 2010

More casualties for Zama

First up, we have figures for the Carthaginian militia spearmen:
Next are enough for the Numidians on both sides:

These are from wargames Factory's plastic Numidian infantry box.  I used the heads with helmets for the infantry, and those without for Numidians.  Shield transfers by Little Big Men, with the ones that look more like hide shields used for the Numidians.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Great Battle in Magna Graecia

Senatus Populusque Romanum.  Ave!  I bring news of a great battle against the encroaching Punic enemy in this year of our Republic CCXIV, the consulship of Lucius Volumnius Flamma Violens and Appius Claudius Caecus.  Well may you remember the stalemate that ensued after the perfidious descendants of Tyrian Dido attacked our peace-loving legions some years ago.  Their habit of using money to buy the loyalty of mercenary Greeks from Sicily has continued, as they recruited a second invasion force to try the temperament of the Romans once again.  Our proconsuls Publius Decius Mus and Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus took up position to await the enemy:
Decius had the consulship of the day and he set up our legions in the best defensive position he could find, their left resting on a wood and their right on a low rise; the rest of the field was open.  In the woods he concealed our Latin equites, with the legions to their right.  He assigned his consular partner Rullianus to the right, commanding the dexter Latin Legio, the Italian allies (effete city dwellers, mostly) and the Roman equites, hidden out of sight behind the hill.  Decius positioned himself behind the legions in the centre.  As the piercing rays of the aureate sun dispersed the morning mist, we discerned the enemy coming on apace.  As is their way, the few native Carthaginians were on horseback on the left wing of their forces, accompanied by wild Numidians.  They ride without bridle or saddle, trusting to a piece of woven hemp and their own prodigious skill to control their foaming mounts.  Their infantry were mercenaries all, aside from the purported Sacred Band: Syracusan hoplites, some wandering Gauls and the few Spanish who have remained loyal to their orient-born overlords.  Their right was thinly held by more Numidians.  The two armies being slightly offset, a hasty council of war was held by the Romans.  It was agreed that the command of Rullianus would hold, allowing the rest of the army to pivot on their position; once aligned a general advance would begin with the legions making for the mercenary hoplites at an angle, as a hunstman marks out his prey in the midst of a flock of birds.

Unfortunately for the Romans, in his pride and spite against Decius, long standing and to the detriment of this our country, as you well know, Rullianus instead advanced his flank guard and legion, choosing to try to win immortal glory by attacking the main forces of the Punic invaders with his own smaller contingent.

I was sent by Decius to reason with his errant colleague, but to no avail.  I arrived just in time to see the Roman equites thunder over the hill and into the arms of the waiting Spanish foot, the prefect having been ordered to do so by Rullianus.  I tried to remonstrate with him as best I could and within the allowed degrees of decorum, but his answer was that Decius should immediately send reinforcements.

Even the Italian militia advanced to join the fray as the Latins attacked instead of holding position as had been agreed.  As I prepared to leave with my report to Decius, Rullianus said that he would assault the "hinge" (O strange term, never before used in the annals of military history) of the enemy army.  I continued on my way, alarmed that the advance of the Latin legion would preclude the other Legions from wheeling in to support.  My heart sank as I realised that the attack of the holding formations would soon be scattered by the superior hoplites, allowing them and their cavalry to sweep in on the unprotected right flank of our famous legions.

I delivered my report.  Decius ordered the Latin prefect of horse to attack with all due speed, while he himself rode furiously to try to catch up with them, to reign them in and keep them moving into the right rear of the enemy army instead of pursuing the enemy immediately to their front.

In the meantime, the central legions were left by Decius in the care of a deft youthful legate, Marcus Atilius Regulus, who performed wonders beyond his young years.  A name with which to conjure portents, O glory of Rome! 

The lines clashed fearfully amidst the horrible clamour of war.  The Romans met manfully with the Gauls who had chosen unwisely to throw in their lot with the Punic enemy.  On our left, the Numidians melted like driven snow before the rushing onset of our Italian equites.

With the Numidians scattered to the four winds, the Italians crashed into the exposed flank of the hapless Gauls, even before Decius could reach them in person.  O Bellona, what a slaughter was there!

The lines of foot came together with a mighty roar as Regulus led the Roman legions to the test of battle with the enemy to his front.

But it was all to no avail. The troops who should have stayed still on our right had advanced to their doom, and the flank of the legions was terribly exposed to the victorious enemy there.  Just as I had feared.

Breakthrough!  The Italian horse did wonders as the entire right of the enemy line panicked; even their much vaunted Sacred Band was shaken to the core.

But it was all too late as the enemy foot uncovered their own horse and the rightmost legions were destroyed.  The foresight of Decius and the deeds of Regulus saved the leftmost half of our army as they carved their way through the enemy to freedom.

There has been a great battle, and Rome has been defeated.

Monday 26 July 2010

More casualty markers

These two are intended for the Roman cavalry.  I've given them red crests and used Little Big Men transfers designed for Aventine Velites.
These four are for Hannibal's veterans.  I used the Wargames Factory Roman bodies and gave them Numidian heads and shields; transfers by Little Big Men as always.

Friday 23 July 2010

Roman casualties

Two trays of casualty markers: dead Romans, the finest kind.  They are Wargames Factory plastics that I picked up at Wappinshaw - a damaged box of them for £10.00.  I've been curious for a while about these guys, and decided that they would make good casualties for my Republican Romans.  The only real difference is that they have helmet crests instead of feathers, but for dead 'uns, they'll do very nicely.  I've painted up six for each legion, using the same shield designs.  All I did was chop off the bases, something that's a lot easier to do with plastic.
The third photo shows another batch of the same figures.  For these, I used the rub-on transfers that come with the box.  I've never used them  before, and I reckoned that I would mess them up; I was right.  But then again, casualties should have mangled shields, so I wasn't too bothered.  These four will do for the Bruttians who fought for Hannibal at Zama.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Empire: First Successor Battle

This is the deployment map of the first battle between the Successors to Alexander in our ongoing campaign.  I constructed and provided both armies.  I deployed the Antigonids (in red at the top), intending to take a minor command either in that army or in the Seleucid attackers.  Gordon deployed the opposition.  Thanks again to my daughters, the terrain is relativey enclosed.  Antigonus has an impassable river running down one side of the field, with a central low hill and a steep hill on which to rest the army's left flank.  There is also some rough ground to the front of the low hill.

The Antigonids
Right Wing: 2 units of 12 Xystophoroi, elite heavy lancers; 2 units of 24 Guard Infantry, elite heavy pikemen in 3 ranks; and a unit of 8 Psiloi skirmish javelinmen.  David in command.
Centre: 1 unit of 36 Macedonian Phalangites, veteran heavy pikemen in 3 ranks; 3 units of 32 Asiatic Phalangites, veteran medium pikemen in 4 ranks; 1 unit of 18 Greek Mercenary Cavalry, medium horse in a 3-rank column; 1 unit of 8 Psiloi skirmish javelinmen; and 1 unit of 12 Slingers.  Colin in command.
Left Wing: 1 unit of 16 Tarentine-style Light Cavalry in a 4-rank column; 2 units of 8 Skythian Horse Archers; 3 large units of 18 Light Infantry in 3-rank columns; and 1 unit of 12 skirmish archers.  Me in command.

Left Wing: 2 units of 24 Argyraspides, elite heavy pikemen in 3 ranks; 1 unit of 12 Guard Cavalry, elite heavy lancers; and 1 unit of 12 skirmish archers.
Centre: 4 powerful Phalanxes each of 36 figures, veteran heavy pikemen in 3 ranks; 1 unit of 10 Psiloi skirmish javelinmen; and  1 unit of 12 skirmish archers.
Right: 1 unit of 8 Persian Light Cavalry; 1 large unit of 18 Line Heavy Cavalry; 2 units of 12 Peltasts; 1 unit of 12 Skythian Horse Archers; another unit of 8 Persian light horse; and a unit of 12 skirmish archers.
Gordon and Ian split the army between them, Gordon to their left and Ian to the right.

The nature of the terrain constrained the two armies and it was clear from the outset that this was going to be a grinding match between the two phalanxes, with the formidable Seleucid centre advancing against the larger, but less powerful Antigonids with the hill advantage.  Unless, of course, someone managed a heavy cavalry breakthrough somewhere.

In fact, this is not what happened.  Ian managed to take some photos with his new-fangled i-gadget thingie (you can tell I'm up with the latest technology), and very kindly sent them to me straight afterwards.  I'm hoping you can see from this first shot that the Seleucids have advanced all along the line.  In the foreground, they have anchored their right on the rough going.  In the centre they have wheeled a phalanx slightly to contact the large column of Antigonid light horse.  Their other pahalanxes have gone slightly to their left, presumably to help their Xystophoroi against the Antigonid Guard Infantry.  On the far side, the Argyraspides are advancing relentlessly towards the cream of Antigonus' horse.  The terrain at the club is pretty basic, and we didn't bother putting the river on table, but it does the job.

Antigonus responded by attacking, leaving the safety of the hill.  The reason for this is that if a unit is caught at a slight angle, the resulting overlap favours the opposition, and the Seleucid phalanxes presented just this opportunity.  In other words, Antigonus traded a defensive advantage for an offensive one.  Also, and this was crucial, Antigonus realised that the Argyraspides would eventually overwhelm his cavalry at the river edge.  There was also the the added threat of the large unit of Seleucid heavy cavalry flanking the Asiatic medium phalanxes.  Better to get stuck in straight away and try to defeat the Seleucid centre and win the battle that way.  A tough choice!
Photograph Number 3 shows the result of the clash along the line.  The light troops have more or less cancelled out, Antigonid numbers being matched by the Seleucid defence of the rough ground.  In the foreground of the photograph you can see the Seleucid heavy cavalry threatening to break through.  Just in front of them, to the right off the shot, are lurking Skythian horsemen.  These succeed in drawing off the heavies from flanking the line in the centre.  Here the Seleucid phalanxes are in trouble.  I use counters to mark hits, but Gordon uses pipe cleaners, which are already working along the rear ranks of the central Seleucid phalanxes.  On the far side, one unit of Antigonus' Guard Infantry has already broken through, and the Seleucid Xystophoroi are in real trouble.  Before the battle began, I said that my only wargaming superstition is that the first game for a newly painted unit sees them perform miracles, or run at the first sight of trouble.  Unfortunately for Seleucus, the latter happened here.  The elite horse have failed their morale, and are about to crumble in the face of the Guard infantry - I think the cavalry only lost one figure before running away!  At the extreme end at the river edge, the Argyraspides are happily crunching through the heavy cavalry there.
The fourth photograph shows the desperate struggle in full.  At the far end, all of the cavalry has disappeared, and the respective elite infantry units try to get into position to hit one another after breaking through.  The left of the Seleucid phalanx has caved in completely, but their right is doing better against the Asiatic mediums.  This is going to be very close indeed.
Finally, the end, with the remnants of the two sides.  The Seleucids just win through against their medium opponents, and no more.  The washers behind the units represent disorder and the pipe cleaners show that the Seleucid phalanx in the foreground has two hits left, and its friend has only one.  Seleukos won by these three figures.

Another very close game, and it could have gone either way right to the final turn.  The Macedonians have forcibly returned the rebellious Armenian region to the fold.  Next up: the Carthaginians again attack the Romans in southern Italy.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Empire Campaign Turn 5, 310-300 BCE

In Turn 5, the following events occurred:

Iberia rebelled from Carthaginian control.
Carthage attacked the Romans in Southern Italy and was defeated.
Rome counterattacked Carthage in Sicily and was defeated.
The Macedonians were defeated at a river crossing in Persia.
The Persians were defeated in turn as they tried to hit back.

Everyone lost!

We rolled for events at the start of Turn 6, and Armenia has rebelled from Macedonian control.  Macedon goes first and strikes at the rebellion.  Now that Alexander's not so great empire is showing signs of unravelling, we are going to play this one as a Successor battle; the rebels will be Antigonid, and the Empire will use the Early Seleucid list with a twist: no elephants yet, because no one has reached anywhere near India!

This is how the map looks at the beginning of Turn 6:
Carthage has lost Iberia and has conquered Sicily.  Rome has control over Central and Southern Italia.  The Macedonians hold Macedon; Thrace; Asia; Pontus; and Mesopotamia.  The Persian rump is reduced to Persia and Parthia.

Persian Counterattack is Crushed

This is the initial deployment for the most recent campaign battle.  After forcing the Macedonians to retreat from with a successful river defence, the Persians try their luck with a counter-offensive.  My daughters rolled up the terrain, which turns out to be quite unpleasant: a long steep ridge on the Macedonian left, with a large central low rise.  The Persians have one small low hill to their centre right.

The Persians (in blue above):
Right Wing: 12 Skirmish Javelinmen; 18 Hillmen (light infantry); 8 Persian Light Horse; and two units of 18 Persian Medium cavalry in columns
Centre: 12 Skirmish Javelinmen; 3 units of 36 Militia Grade Kardakes Medium Infantry in three ranks; and the Guard Infantry, 24 Elite Heavy Infantry in two ranks.
Left: 3 units of 12 Skirmish Archers; 4 units of 8 Skythian Light Horse Archers; 1 unit of 8 Persian Light Horse; 2 units of 16 Persian Light Horse in four-rank columns; 1 unit of 16 Armenian Heavy Cavalry; and 4 units of 18 Colonist Militia Grade Medium Cavalry.

The Macedonians:
Left Wing: 3 units of Psiloi Javelinmen (one of 10, two of 11); 4 units of 12 Thracian Peltasts; 2 units of 8 Thracian Light Horse; and 2 units of 12 Companion Elite Heavy Lancers.
Centre: 1 unit of 8 Elite Agrianian Skirmish Javelinmen; 1 unit of 10 Cretan Skirmish Archers; 1 unit of 24 Hypaspists Elite Heavy Spearmen; and 4 Phalanxes of 24 Veteran Heavy Pikemen.
Right Wing: 1 unit of 12 Agrianian Skirmish Slingers; 1 unit of 10 Cretan Skirmish Archers; 1 unit of 24 Hypaspists Elite Heavy Spearmen; 1 unit of 12 Elite Thessalian Heavy Cavalry; 1 unit of 18 Peltasts in three ranks; 1 unit of 12 Greek Mercenary Medium Cavalry; and 1 unit of 12 Prodromoi, Veteran Superior Light Horse.

Gordon chose and deployed the Persian army; I chose and deployed the Macedonians.  Given the terrain, I thought about having a powerful cavalry punch on the right with the phalanxes en echelon, but decided that would be far too predictable.  Instead, I made sure that the steep hill was infested with Thracians and I then placed the Companions next to them, with a screening force of Thracian light cavalry to protect the heavies from the expected Persian firepower.  The centre was an extended shallow phalanx, and the right was refused, comprising the rest of the army's cavalry.  Skirmishers were deployed as far forward as possible to soak up the coming missile storm.  My intention was to attack rather than wait for the Persians to come to me.  I commanded the left punch and half of the centre; Billy was in charge of the right centre and the refused flank.  From the Persian deployment, it seemed as though Gordon had been expecting a right hook, and had deployed two waves of Colonists interspersed with columns of light horse on the Persian left.  There was a powerful missile force of light horse next to that, mainly comprising Skythians.  A strong unit of Armenian heavies was poised in their centre left, ready to go wherever it was needed.  The Persian infantry was in position in the centre right with the hill advantage.  The army was anchored on the steep escarpment, with some light infantry and mixed horse placed there.  I thought that Gordon was hoping to bring out the Persian cavalry to threaten the extreme left of the usual Macedonian echelon attack, but I could be wrong about that.  The usual horde of skirmishers was out front.

The battle opens with the Macedonians shaking out into their leftwards attack en echelon.  The Persians are content for the Kardakes to occupy the hill, and advance along the steep ridge with most of their forces there, the cavalry being slowed down by the terrain.  The missile exchange begins.
On Turn 2 the Macedonians continue as before, as do their opponents.  The skirmishers begin to jockey for position.
On Turn 3, the skirmishers on the escarpment disperse as the Light Infantry clashes.  The Thracian light horse keep in line with their compatriots on the hill as the Companions drop back a bit to allow room for manoeuvre; as the Macedonian commander I want to be absolutely sure of the long ridge before launching the Companions.  In the meantime, I am content with the Kardakes being peppered by my skirmish javelinmen.  In the centre, the Agrianian javelinmen vanish in a hail of arrows.  On the other side, the Persians wait for their missile fire to start to take its toll.
On the large hill to the Macedonian left, some of the Thracians go wild and run towards the Persian Medium Cavalry after destroying the Hillmen.  The leftmost Thracians attack the end unit of Persian light horse.  The phalanx advances en echelon as usual, and the Thracian light cavalry use the space at the extreme left of the line to wheel slightly.  Elsewhere, the exchange of missiles continues.

Still wanting to hold the main assault until the ridge is cleared, I retire the light infantry in front of the Persian cavalry there; the latter advances slowly.  In the meantime the phalanx holds position, and on the Macedonian extreme right another unit of skirmishers is destroyed by Persian firepower.  The rest of the Persians stay put.

The end Thracians and Persian light cavalry on the ridge mutually disappear in a cloud of dust and the rest of the Thracian light infantry turn about and advance towards the first Persian Medium Cavalry unit.  I decide that the moment is right to bring up the Companions, and retire the Thracian horse behind the Hypaspists to make room.  Elsewhere, the Persians are disappointed that their shooting is not having the desired effect.

The fight intensifies on the left as the remainder of the two armies awaits the outcome.  Again, the Persians are frustrated by relatively poor shooting.  The Persians lose one of unit of skirmish archers, and move some Skythians forward to compensate.  Not enough damage is being done to the phalanxes.

On the Macedonian left, the Thracians destroy the first of the cavalry units.  One unit of Thracians dies at the same time and the other rushes forward in vain pursuit.  Deciding that the moment is right, I unleash the Companions against the Kardakes on the hill.  The Thracian horse start to fill in behind the attack.  On our right, the holding cavalry moves up to cover the rightmost unit of Hypaspists in preparation for the infantry attack to come. The Persian skirmishers and light horse advance into shooting position as the last unit of Cretans is wiped out.  The Greek mercenary cavalry is particularly badly hit by Persian fire.  Finally, it is beginning to have an effect, but will it be too late?
Now it gets really nasty.  There is more fighting on the escarpment as the last unit of Persian cavalry comes forward, to be met by Thracians on foot and horseback.  The phalanx advances across the line and up the hill into the Kardakes, who begin to waver under the onslaught.  The rightmost phalanx starts to take serious damage from shooting and the Greek mercenary cavalry is destroyed by archery.
The Kardakes facing the Companions go down bravely, but the latter maintain composure and break through.  The next unit along is disordered by a failed morale check, and so it is only a matter of time. 
The Persian holding force in the hill is is finally wiped out, taking some Thracian infantry with it.  The Kardakes begin to crumble on the ridge.  The Persian left decides that all is lost if they do not charge now.  The Armenians hit the damaged phalanx; and the Thessalians attack the first unit of Persian Colonists.  The Prodromoi are wiped out by shooting.

The Macedonians have now cleared the hill.  The Persian Guard Infantry quails in their boots at the sight, doing what elites usually do and failing their morale test at seeing militia troops run.  The rest of the Persian army wades into the rightmost troops of the Macedonians.
The phalanx hits the Guards and routs them, so it is game over for the Persian army.  Almost every Macedonian unit is badly damaged by the end, but the Persians just couldn't get the hits they needed.  If their shooting had been decent, things could have been very different.  Afterwards, Gordon said that he wasn't expecting to see so many Light Infantry in the hills, and that the plan was to hold back the Colonists until sufficient shooting had been done.  My decision to hold the assault until the big hill was safe was correct, but hard - missile damage could so easily have turned the balance for those turns as the Companions and the phalanx waited.  As it was, though, a major victory for the Macedonians.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Some more Zama Photos

Billy very kindly passed on a disc of Zama photos from Wappinshaw.  I've chosen the three above because they show some nice details.  The first one is taken from behind the Carthaginian left wing; William's recently painted Numidian light horse are in the foreground.  Picture 2 shows some Celiberians moving off to their left to try to press back Masinissa's troops; elephants can clearly be seen trying to make headway against the Hastati.  And the third one shows the central Carthaginian advance from the perspective of the Citizens.  The backs of the Ligurians are in the centre foreground, pressing foreard to try to take advantage of the elephants' attack.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Brazen Shields

These are more modernised figures, a phalanx of 32 Brazen Shields from my old Pontic army.  Figures by Essex.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Laelius and Standard Bearer

These are four shots of a couple of command figures I'm going to use for Laelius at Zama.  Simon bought them for a whole one pound at Carronade and gave me them as a reward for painting Romans.  I remounted them and repainted them to fit in more with the style of the army.  They've come up well for figs that only cost a quid.  I think the men are by although I have no idea who made the horses; I had those lying around.  The standard is by and came in a pack of various standards I picked up at Claymore a few years ago.  The shield designs are for Aventine Velites.

Thursday 1 July 2010

On the painting tray: July 2010

June turned out to be quite busy: 24 Ligurians and 8 casualty figures painted from scratch and 28 Seleucid Cataphracts reworked.  This month I'm hoping to rework a phalanx of 32 Brazen Shields that originally belonged to my Pontic army; re-paint two more mounted Roman command figures for Zama; and make up a whole load of casualty markers for the final outing of our Zama game at Claymore.  I think I'll need around forty or so of those.  The new plastic figures are really good for this sort of thing.