Saturday 24 December 2011

The Romans conquer Sicily

The First Punic War draws to a close as the manipular legions of the Roman Republic crush the last Carthaginian resistance.  The battlefield looks promising for the defending Punics and their large mercenary host, with a lovely defensive ridge line on which to nestle:
Gordon chooses and deploys the Carthaginian army.  He runs their right wing and half of the infantry centre; David takes the other half of the army.  Their right wing comprises a large unit of 18 Punic Medium Cavalry with a unit of 8 Numidians to either side, the whole lot followed up by a unit of 12 Carthaginian aristocratic Heavy Cavalry.  In front are two blocks of slingers.  The centre has some skirmish javelinmen in front of an initial wave of Celtiberians (three Warbands of 24 figs each, deployed shallow).  Immediately behind these are three large units of 36 Scutarii.  There is a heavy unit to either side of the main body: 24 Sicilian Hoplites and 24 Punic Heavy Infantry, both deployed in two ranks.  The army's left wing comprises a unit of 18 Celtiberian cavalry, 18 Spanish cavalry and a unit of 8 Spanish light horse.

Facing them is a consular army of four legions, two Roman and two Latin.  Each of these comprises 9 Velites; two units of 8 Hastati; two units of 8 Principes; and a unit of 8 Triarii.  On each flank of the army is an ala of 36 Italian medium foot, an ala of 18 medium cavalry, and a unit of 8 light horse.  Completing the mix is one unit of 10 Cretan archers in front of the Roman cavalry on the right. 

I chose this lot and deployed them.  I remain somewhat unsatisfied with how the Romans play out under the rules.  The traditional three-line deployment, which I adopted for this battle, has a lot of staying power but in practice it is very inflexible.  Since the Romans must deploy in this fashion in this period, it is very easy for anyone facing them to try a Cannae.  So I changed the legion composition around a bit.  There are still half as many Triarii as either Principes or Hastati, but the base unit is no longer the line, but an eight-figure maniple.  I wanted to see if this would be too brittle, or if it would compensate somewhat for the triplex acies setup, by restoring some flexibility to the individual units. 

My plan is to be as aggressive as possible with the Italian foot and the mounted wings so as to keep the enemy off the vulnerable flanks of the legion as long as possible, while pinning the enemy centre with the legions.  I will then choose a point of attack depending on how the enemy presents.  As I see the enemy deployment, I decide to hold the hill to my front centre with the Roman Hastati.  The Latin legions will carry the attack towards the two units of enemy heavy spearmen, while the Romans simply hold the centre.  This is a bit of a change from what was expected, and is a result of the enemy's central two-line infantry deployment.  The Italians and cavalry will be used to stop the enemy getting onto the flanks of the legions, as planned in setup.  All photos are taking from my command post behind the Roman lines:
The foreground of the shot above shows my Italians moving forward on my left.  I hold the cavalry back until the foot are sufficiently advanced.
The two leftmost legions, Romans to the inside centre.  At the bottom left you can just see the Latin Triarii angling towards the left flank.  The presence of the Carthaginian heavy cavalry on this wing has me worried.
Meanwhile on my far right the enemy horse advances.  In mirror image fashion, the Italian foot thrusts aggressively towards the wing.

Above is a shot of the infantry centres.  The Roman legions are simply going to wait for the expected charge of the warbands.
At my centre right, the outermost maniple of Hastati manages to attack the enemy's Spanish light horse.  If I can clear the way here, the entire rightmost Latin legion will concentrate on the Punic heavy infantry.
On the right, the Italian infantry have almost reached the enemy cavalry, so I move my own mounted troops up in support.
On the far left, the presence of the Italian infantry has forced the Carthaginian cavalry wide.  The Italians, however, have entered a world of pain as the enemy slingers and light horse have a field day chucking things at the nice big juicy target.  But all they need to do is hold out long enough for the Latin legion to assault the Syracusan hoplites at the end of the enemy infantry centre.
Gordon sees what I'm up to and rushes the Celtiberians forward.  He needs to break through the Roman thin red line as soon as possible.
At my centre right, the Latin Hastati have disposed of the light cavalry and gone into the Punic heavy infantry. In the centre of the photo above you can see the Principes waiting in the classic support position.
Fighting is heavy along the whole of my right wing now, but the presence of the Italian infantry here gives me extra weight.  The Carthaginians aren't helped by poor dice.
On my left, though, the Italian cavalry collapses spectacularly.  My decision to throw the Latin Triarii wide turns out to have been correct.  Will they be able to hold back the impending cavalry attack on the flank of the legions?
At the Roman centre right, the African heavy infantry have destroyed the outermost maniple of Hastati, so in go some of the Principes with a new volley of pila.
Above is an angled photo of the desperate infantry melee in the centre.  The dice gods desert the Celtiberians here and the fighting grinds on.  This suits me as the Romans, because it will give me more time to destroy the two heavy infantry units.
To my left, the Triarii have seen off the large enemy cavalry unit, but at great cost to themselves.  Unfortunately for Carthage, though, the rout has disordered their reserve heavy cavalry.  I try to threaten them with the Italian infantry as well, who have turned around.  However, they have been taking missile fire all game now and are trailing a growing smear of wounded and dying behind them.  It really is touch and go on this flank; I just hope I can hold the opposition a little longer here.
The leftmost Latin legion has disposed of the Syracusan hoplites, and a maniple breaks through onto the Spanish in the second line.  Unfortunately for the Spanish, they became disordered on  morale when the hoplites broke.
Just to the right of the previous shot, one lone unit of badly mangled Celtiberians makes a final vainglorious charge across the hill into the waiting Roman Principes.  Finally the Hastati have been driven off, but at great cost to the valiant warriors from the west.
The enemy plan works at one part of the field.  On the right side of Hastati Hill one of the Spanish units finally makes it into contact with Roman Principes.  But again luck is not with Carthage as they are stopped in their tracks.
Finally, all is over for Carthage as they lose too many of their infantry.  The final photo shows the victorious Roman right wing streaming into the centre just in time to join in the pursuit.

The combination of maniples and the triplex acies system worked very well indeed.  The Roman centre held nicely against the enemy masses while the Latin legions each picked on a single enemy unit and then enveloped the flanks of the enemy centre.  Manipular flexibility worked well here, although it does have to be said that the Carthaginian foot had a very bad dice day.  About time too, though, because so far in the campaign Rome has done very poorly.

In effect, this battle sees the end of the First Punic War as Rome kicks Carthage out of Sicily.  There will be one more campaign turn, and then Hannibal appears.  Peter has  rolled to see what the Macedonians would do.  Their glory-seeking King has decided to go one better than his ancestor Alexander, and finally subjugate the wild Illyrians to the north.  That will be played in January, Scottish weather permitting of course.  In the meantime, the Romans are off to a well-deserved Saturnalia.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Anne Boleyn, Work in Progress 2

It took a bit of time, because I wanted to be careful, but finally I have managed to glue this together:
I used some rather thick artist's acrylic to fill and seal various gaps that were visible.
I didn't want to use model filler in case I did some damage to the details.  Besides, I can be ham-fisted when I really try...
The majority of the areas filled were on the gown, which I'm going to paint dark blue with more artist's acrylic.  I hope that will do the job without obscuring too much.
I might try an experiment with the sundial.  Instead of painting it all one shade of stone, I might attempt to give it the look of marble to make it a bit more interesting.  I suppose there's only one way to find out if it will work!

Welcoming Captain Richard

The good Captain's blog is here and you really must drop by.  His dioramas have to be seen to be believed.  Some truly gorgeous work is there to be found.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Welcome to Scotty

Scotty has three blogs, one of which is here.  He even has a paint plan for his Wurttemburgers - I wish I was that well organised!

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Welcome to Cory

I've just noticed that Cory has joined here and left a comment too.  Cory has five blogs; I've linked with one that has some lovely 28mm Napoleonic Russians and lots of other stuff as well.  Click on the thumbnail to go and have a look at the others too.

Lakedaemonians for Plataea

I've posted pictures of some of these guys before, but now I have them the way I want for Plataea:
First up are the Spartiates.  There are two units of these, each of 36 figures.  I've used the old Foundry heavy guys for the whole unit, apart from command.
The second photo shows one of the two units of Perioikoi, again 36 figs per unit.  I used more of the Foundry armoured figs for the front ranks, plus a commamd stand.  The figures in the other ranks are a real mix of stuff, some unarmoured.  I wanted some kind of visual difference between the Spartiates and the others so that it's clear which is which on the tabletop.
 Above are the two freshly finished command bases for the Spartiate units.  Willie gave me these because he doesn't want Spartans.  They already had a basic paintjob, so I gave them a quick ink wash and then a touch-up.  I especially liked the "reverse colours" scheme on the shields, with bronze lambda on a red background, so I left them that way.  I think it helps make them stand out a bit as command.
Xyston's 25mm Leonidas figure with an Old Glory standard bearer.  This will do for Pausanias at Plataea.
Finally, we have the priest who takes the omens.  Apparently he worked really hard at Plataea - Pausanias refused offering after offering until he decided the time was right to charge the Immortals.  In other words, when the Tegeans broke ranks instead of standing and taking more missile damage, he realised he had no choice but to go for it.  Piously, of course...

Time permitting, I want to have a few little pieces like the priest to add some character to the battlefield.  Casualty markers would be good and Foundry make a nice Spartan camp set.  Simon has a temple to nestle at the foot of Mount Cithaeron on the Greek left.  I'd also like to represent the Persian spara barricade on the table.  So much to do, and so little time!

Sunday 11 December 2011

...and also to Scottsz

A hearty welcome to yourself too!

Welcome to Peter Celella

Peter's blog is here and at the moment the front page has some lovely Iberian cavalry.  I'm still hankering after an Iberian army, but there just isn't enough time!

Welcome to El Grego

Or should that be, welcome back?  I seem to remember your thumbnail from a while ago, but then Blogger shifts around so much it's difficult to keep track.  El Grego has chosen to run a different blog for each of his interests, one of which is here.  Click on his profile for the list.

I'm not sure if I should do something similar.  I'm planning to take some time out from ancients at one point this year to sort out my very large 15mm Russian Napoleonic army, what with Borodino coming up and all that.  I think I'll keep them on this blog, so that all of my stuff is together, mainly because I'm not sure how often I would update a second blog.  Food for thought, I suppose...

Monday 5 December 2011

Welcome to Truls Fjel

Just saying "Hi" and thanks for joining.  Annoyingly, Blogger is doing its thing of not telling me if you have a blog. It does that sometimes!

Gunfreak's Apartment of War

...which you can find here.  He is well known on The Miniatures Page for Napoleonics, and has recently taken the plunge into Republican Romans.  Do go and have a look, they are tremendously nice.

Thursday 1 December 2011

On the painting tray: December 2011

November was not a great month so far as painting is concerned.  I finished a dozen slingers and managed to get part of the way through the other stuff that has been on the tray for a while now.  Currently I have 24 Spartans half-completed, plus the 1/12 scale Airfix figure of Anne Boleyn.  I also have another 32 Hoplites that Willie gave me.  These are very uniform indeed, and have been painted up as Spartans.  I'll have way too many of those if I just keep this lot the same, so I think I'll do a bit of work on them to convert them to generic Hoplites.  I am owed some holiday time from work, so hopefully that will make up for November before we reach the end of the year.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Anne Boleyn, Work in Progress 1

November has been very busy for work reasons, and it looks as though it's going to stay that way for the foreseeable.  I haven't done as much painting as I would have liked, but I have unpacked the Airfix 1/12 scale Anne Boleyn and basecoated with Testor's Dullcote:
Not too many pieces, and some of the details are going to be quite challenging.  I learned from experience with Beth's Stuka that relatively large expanses of Airfix plastic don't always take acrylics very well, which is why I used Dullcote.
The box is the original 70s item...

...complete with original sheet of instructions.  And just to prove how old it is:
A small advertisement that was still in the box.  This poorer quality paper hasn't lasted quite so well!


Your average manky, scuddy scum slingers, made up from the Wargames Factory Numidian infantry set:
They might be scum, but they're our scum!  I'll use these as psiloi at Plataea.  They'll do for just about any scruffy slingers in most periods anyway...

Welcome to Remco

I've just noticed that Remco from the East Netherlands has joined, so I've reciprocated at his blog here.  He has the hard to find Asterix miniatures set, do go and have a look.  I first saw these over twenty years ago, and I should have bought them then.

Empire: Campaign win for Carthage

Or, I lost again and I don't care.  It's about time the Carthaginians finally conquered Iberia; I think this is their fourth try.  I set up the defending forces of freedom against Punic aggression.  The game basically came down to which side would turn the enemy's infantry line first, with some added spice thrown in by the presence of Celtiberian mercenaries in both armies.  Unfortunately for us, those fighting for Carthage fought well, while ours didn't.
Above, you can see in the foreground the forces on our left, me in charge.  A powerful mix of cavalry  and Caetrati to the left of our Celtiberian foot.  I have more force than the enemy (Gordon).
The infantry centres of the two armies.  Ours is composed of Scutarii at the bottom of the photo (my old Minifigs Romans standing duty).  Theirs is a mixed bag of Celtiberians, Scutarii, Libyan spearmen and a small unit of elite African heavy spears.

The third photo shows the enemy overlap on our right.  There is a piece of rough ground just off the photo to the right, which is infested with more of our Caetrati.  Beyond them we have some light cavalry.
Both armies lead with their left, trying to swing round onto the enemy infantry before the same is done unto them.
We leave one unit of Scutarii to old the high ground as a flank guard for the rest of the line.  We'll see how long they last...
A side shot of the far side of the table from my position at our left.  David's massed Caetrati and light horse await the enemy (Bill).  However, they have enough force here to be able to mask the rough ground and send cavalry in at an angle toward our Scutarii.
The melee on our left.  I an trying to smash my way through here to help out against the enemy infantry.  
Just to the right of my cavalry, our Celtiberians attack.  Rather weakly, as they fail to make a proper impression on the steady spears of the opposition (i.e. no Impetus bonus).  To the right of the shot above you can see Scutarii fighting Scutarii.
The fight develops to the right of our infantry line.   Unlike ours, their Celtiberians go wild. The enemy commander (Billy) sends his cavalry to help; you can just see them arriving at the right hand side of the photo above.  This section of the field will be where it is all decided, and the Carthaginians want to make it swing their way as soon as possible.
The Carthaginian cavalry arrives and makes very little impression.
On our far right, David surges forward from the rough and starts to destroy everything in front of him.
Above: the whole infantry fight.
Above: David's success on our left.  But our centre collapses anyway and it's game over.

This game was always going to be a fifty-fifty fight, and I always lose those.  I used to have role-playing character called Avrin, who was a sneak thief.  He was rubbish and failed most things while his scores were below fifty per cent.  He survived somehow, and when his important abilities got to sixty per cent he never failed anything.  he became a Master thief.  Ever since then, I've had the superstition that a fifty-fifty is an automatic fail for me, while anything better isn't.  I know it's not true; it just feels that way...

Anyway, next up is the Romans in Sicily again.  If they finally take it, we are replaying history and shaping up for the arrival of Hannibal soon.

Friday 25 November 2011

Hello to Henryk Nowacki and RazorOne223

Or should that be czesc? (Sorry about the characters - can't seem to get those right!) Henryk is an artist amongst other things; his blog is here and has an incredible line drawing of a Japanese castle at the moment.  RazorOne has some lovely Napoleonics up just now.  Sorry for not welcoming you both sooner than this; Blogger told me I had a couple of new followers, but didn't show the icons until recently.  Now that I've clicked on them, I've returned the favour by following yours in return.  Hope you don't mind!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Ptolemy marches on

On Tuesday we played the latest in our Empire campaign games.  I set up a defending Antigonid army in expectation of Ptolemy's successful thrust northwards.  Needless to say, I got hammered.  Wiped out.  Stuffed.  I lost...
Ptolemy's phalanx advances remorselessly.
David performed well to our right.

The final photo shows our centre going crunch.

I ran the left and David the right; we shared the centre.  My dice were appalling, and Gordon opposite me was the opposite.  We were simply steamrollered.  I'm glad I got that luck out of the way...

Anyway, next up is another Carthaginian attempt to take Iberia.