Saturday 26 May 2012

Hannibal has a bad day

Hannibal kicks off the 2nd Punic War by invading Cisalpine Gaul.  He encounters a Roman consular army in an area of rolling hills, with its left flank anchored on a steep hill:
Hannibal is in blue at the top.  From the left, as you look at it, the Carthaginians are deployed as follows:

  • Right Wing: two units of 8 Numidians; one unit of 12 Heavy Cavalry; a large block of 48 Gauls; and a skirmish screen of 12 Javelinmen.
  • Centre: a wave of two units of 24 Gauls deployed wide along with 24 Scutarii; a second wave of three units of 24 figures, one of Scutarii and two of Elite African Spearmen; skirmish screen of two 8s and one 12 of Javelinmen.
  • Left Wing: A very powerful mixed cavalry force comprising three units of 12 Heavy Cavalry and four units of 8 Numidians, with 12 Slingers in front.
The Roman left is composed of a small command of two units of 8 Light Horse and 8 Slingers at the steep hill.  The centre is the usual four legions, two Roman and two Latin.  Each is composed of 8 Velites, 24 Militia Grade Medium Hastati; 24 Heavy Principes; and 12 Triarii.  The Right Wing is a small command of two units of 12 Equites Medium Cavalry and 8 Cretan Archers.

I constructed and deployed the Roman army.  I wanted to see if I could squeeze a reasonable number of figures into the triplex acies formation.  To some extent the terrain dictated my setup, which as you can see isn't strictly symmetrical.  I ran the tiny left wing; Paul took the two leftmost legions; and Billy ran the legions on the right and the cavalry.  Simon built the Carthaginian army and Gordon deployed it.  Simon sat out of the game, so Gordon ran the right half of the attackers and David took the left.  From their deployment, it seems clear that the Carthaginians are intending to absorb the legions in the centre while punching with their left.  We ruled that as a Great Captain, Hannibal's battlefield bonus would be a sort of army morale boost, so we decided that the Gallic infantry would not cause any morale tests on routing and would not count towards army breakpoint.

After a huddled conference, we decide that the Romans will attack with the legions, leading from the rightmost.  It is clear from the outset that the Carthaginians will be able to swing round our right flank; the Equites will just have to sell their lives as dearly as possible.  Our symmetrical deployment has given us a useful overlap with the extreme right legion, which we decide will advance its Hastati and Principes, but whose Triarii can afford to go wide to help guard the extreme right of the infantry centre.  However, I am at a disadvantage on the left, so here I will attempt to slow down the opposition as much as possible.  I'll use the steep hill to delay them while shooting with the slingers.  The legion to my immediate right will have to be careful against that huge warband.

Photo 1 above shows the look of the field from my post at the left rear of the Roman army.
Photo 2 shows the advance of the enemy towards my meagre forces.  The fact that the Carthaginian cavalry started so far back on this flank, combined with the inconvenience of the steep hill, should stop them getting to contact too quickly.  I am, however, aware that their extra unit of heavy cavalry will pose a serious threat to the left of our legions.  On the right of the shot you can see the double-strength warband advancing in all its glory.
Photo 3 is a sweeping shot of the panorama, looking from my wing across to the right.  At the far right of the photo you can see the mass of enemy cavalry advancing upon our hapless Equites.  By this point it has become clear that Billy has decided against swinging his rightmost Triarii wide to help; this convinces me that we are doomed.
Photo 4 shows the situation on my wing.  I have retired my cavalry as much as I can, all the while hoping that the slingers will even things up against the Numidians to my front.  Four rounds of shooting, and they miss with every single shot.
In Photo 5 above, the armies clash in the centre.  The low grade Hastati destroy huge numbers of Gauls.
Photo 6 shows the action right across the rest of the field from a different angle.  At the far end of the battle Billy's Equites give a good account of themselves and despite some shooting hits, they hold up well against the enemy cavalry.  It is beginning to look as though their assault has spent itself.
Back to my wing.  The Numidians are about to come off the steep hill, so I have to throw in my light horse. With luck, we'll wipe each other out, but it should take a couple of turns.  Which will slow their heavy horse down even more; I can hear the stomping of hooves and impatient neighing as they are forced to wait for the way to clear.  My rubbish slingers shout insults at the rear.
With my force entirely engaged, I manage to sneak over to Billy's wing to snap this shot of the conclusion of his cavalry action.  His Equites are gone, but have destroyed a unit of Numidians.  Another plus some heavies have hared off in pursuit, badly mangled by the close contest, which is why there is such a gap between their two waves.  This will make it even longer before they can try to turn the right flank of our infantry.  In fact, to slow them down the Carthaginians have had to throw two units of heavy cavalry to destroy the rightmost  Hastati; also badly damaged, they then end up in contact with the Principes, who don't seem too bothered.
Back on our left, my command has entirely evaporated, leaving the way clear for the enemy's reserve unit of heavy cavalry to move past and onto the exposed left flank of Paul's legions.  But they still have quite a way to go...
And the centres clear.  The only Gauls left are stuck in combat at the very bottom of this photo against Paul's Principes, and the Hastati have all finally been cleared.  However, the rest of the Principes are still intact and surge forward to victory.  

It was close; on our left the lone unit of Carthaginian heavies was about to flank the legions, and our rightmost legion was down to the Triarii.  But the attrition was too much for Hannibal, despite his Great Captain status, so Rome has gleefully declared his much vaunted invasion a damp squib.  There's always the next time, though, and the Hastati should be lucky to get away with it against the Gauls in like manner again.  Next up: the Indians attack the Greek colonies in Bactria once again.

Wappinshaw and the last of Carronade

Wappinshaw will be held here in Glasgow next Saturday; details here.  I won't make it, since I've already overcommitted to games things recently - time to take my turn with real life.  Lastly, here's a few final piccies of the Plataea game at Carronade, courtesy of Alan:

Friday 18 May 2012

Cthulhu Rising - in Glasgow!

I've been meaning to take some photos of an amazing piece of graffiti that appeared on a wall just outside Kelvinbridge Underground station a while ago.  It's under a long set of stairs leading up to Great Western Road, and is in two parts.  Left as you look at it:
And right, on the other side of a pillar:
Here's my attempt at a composite:
The whole thing is about twenty feet wide by ten feet high.  As you look at it the River Kelvin is behind you, about 50 yards back.  So obviously something has crept out one night and created a gate to R'lyeh or somewhere equally lovely.  So if you want to show your players what a properly executed gate looks like, here you are!

Jacob TS

Saying welcome to Jacob TS, whose own blog is Painting Little Men.  He currently has a post with a link to a really interesting historical map tool of ancient Roman territory.  Lots of great  information there!

Sunday 13 May 2012

Gareth Lane

Just saying hi to Gareth, thanks for looking in on us!

Friday 11 May 2012

Plataea game - full report

I finally managed to put some time aside so that I could sort the photos I took of the Plataea game last Saturday at Carronade.  Army deployments:
The first photo shows the Thebans and medizing Greeks on the right wing of the Persian army, from the opposing perspective.
Moving along into the Persian centre, we have the mixed contingent of Bactrians, Indians and Sakae.
Then the massed ranks of the Persian spear and bow units.
Finally, the best troops in the Persian army, arrayed on the left of the army.
Now from the other side, starting with the Spartans on their hill, Perioikoi and then, hanging back a bit, the Tegeans.  These constitute the right wing of the Greek army, and are directly facing the cream of the Persian army.
The Greek centre is still marching to the field, hence the columns.
And finally we have the Athenians on the far left of the Greek army, trying to anchor their force against the river that runs past Plataea and Mount Cithaeron, which are off table at the Greek left rear.
And the action begins.  Above, you can see the Spartans coming off their hill to pre-empt any attempt by the Persian cavalry to swing around the flank.  I ended up running the Persians here, so most of the remaining photos are taken from my position on this wing.
Looking into the centre, you can see that some of the Greek columns have arrived and deployed into line.  At the very far end of the Greek army, the Athenians have remained in place, waiting for the others to get into position.
I manage to get one unit of cavalry off to the side of the Spartan flank, at the cost of lots of damage from pesky Helots.  I'm trying to follow suit with the second large unit, which I am willing to sacrifice so that Mardonius can retire with the guard horse, which you can see at the bottom right of the photo above.
Just to my right, the Tegeans have lined up with the Periokoi.  The whole of the Greek army is now on the field, and they start an advance en echelon, with the Athenians leading from their left.
On the right of our army, the Thebans advance aggressively, pushing their cavalry as wide as possible.
Back to my wing.  My wide sweep with the cavalry is a failure, but at least their demise hasn't bothered the Immortals.
Above is my attempt at an atmospheric, low level shot of the action down the table from my post at the left rear of the Persian army.  At the bottom right of the photo you can see one unit of Persian elite infantry hanging back.  This is to give Mardonius the space he needs to pull back with the guard cavalry.  I like this photo because it shows what I was trying to achieve with the cork tiles.
The Spartans have caught my second cavalry unit, but I have managed to pull Mardonius back out of danger.  It's going to take the Spartans a while to regain overall cohesion and restore their battle line, which will give me plenty of time to shoot at them.
Above is another long shot of the rest of the table.  The lines are closing in the centre, and the Thebans and Athenians are already hard at it in the distance.  You can maybe just make out the lone unit of Thessalian horse starting to line up with the Athenian rear.  They have ridden hard and managed to disperse the Athenian archers, which means they can now come into the battle proper.

On my flank, the Spartans have despatched my second cavalry unit with clinical efficiency.  The Persian arrow storm begins.
Above is a close-up of the same situation as in the previous shot.
Just at my right, a unit of Periokoi has made it into contact.  The Tegeans are hanging back a little as the rest of the Greek centre moves up into position.  The Tegeans are taking a lot of missile fire.
I manage to sneak over and take a close-up of the Hoplite shoving match on our right.  The Athenians are getting the better of it, but the Thessalians have made it into position.
Back to my post as the lines come together in the centre of the field.
Contact all along the line.
The honours are even between the Athenians and the Thebans as both lose a unit.  However, their mutual hatred fires them up as neither comand breaks morale.

At this point we had to call time.  Units were beginning to rout on both sides, and the Persians were ahead by about six units to four as both sides took losses in the centre.  So we called it a winning draw for the invaders, a far better showing than they managed on the day.  A combination of factors helped with this: keeping Mardonius out of harm's way; good morale dice by Simon at the centre right and right of our army; and the destruction of the Athenian archers that permitted the Thessalians to even things out against the Athenians.  For Claymore in August I'll make the tiles bigger to stop them shifting around, and we will try to take advantage of the capacity to set up in advance the night before the show itself.  Looking forward to a re-run...

Sunday 6 May 2012

Plataea at Carronade 2012

Some shots of the game sent in by Simon:
The Spartans were very aggressive in our game (commanded ably by Billy).  Here they are catching some of the Persian cavalry.
Above is a shot of the Tegeans from behind the Persian sparabara.  At the very top of this photo you can see the Corinthians marching to help as quickly as they can.
Photo number three shows the Athenians and Thebans in their grudge match.
Psiloi running away from the clash of Hoplites.
The photo above shows the Tegeans already in the fight (on the right as you look at it); the Conthians are about to join in.  Taken from directly behind the Greek centre.
More of the same.  Simon's and Donald's sparabara are resplendent behind their shields.
Finally, a view from behind the right of the Greek line.  In the foreground the Perioikoi have gone into the Immortals; at the top right is Mardonius with the Persian Guard Cavalry.  As commander of the Persian left, I managed to extricate the Guards before the Spartans attacked, thus avoiding the death of Mardonius.  Historical hindsight is definitely useful!