Wednesday 19 March 2014

Campaign round-up

William rolled for what happened after the great defeat of the Romans by Macedon at the Battle of Ambracia in 149 BC.  That took us up to the winter months, and then I rolled for what happened next.  Overall, there is a gentle hum of background activity, mostly taking the form of resupply and reinforcement, but here are the main events:

Summer 149

  • Egypt annexes Marmarica
  • The Parthians invade Atropatene
  • The Romans build up their next army in Calabria to attack Macedon

Autumn 149

  • The Roman army in North Africa "pacifies" Byzacium in preparation for a grand assault on Carthage itself
  • Storms in Calabria prevent the Romans crossing the Adriatic in force - the next wave of invasion will need to wait until the spring
  • Atropatene is incorporated forcibly into the Parthian Empire
  • The Egyptians move into Libya

Winter 149

The various armies go onto winter quarters, and the more substantial empires begin to replenish their treasuries somewhat.

Spring 148

The Roman army in North Africa heads for Carthage, and encounters the defenders in full battle array.  The first battle of the 3rd Punic War is about to begin...

Sunday 16 March 2014

The Big Birthday Game

Here we go:
The battle begins.  Macedonians on the left as you look at it, Romans to the right.  Simon ran the far flank of the Macedonian army, Simon from Ayrshire the centre left, Willie the centre right, and I took the right flank, nearest the photo.  The Romans were William at the far end, then Billy, Gordon and finally Graham at the end nearest the camera.  The armies have started their advances; the Macedonians rumbling forward apart from my forces, and the Romans sweeping forward, with some movement towards my flank by the Italian legions in white.
Photo number two shows the situation as the armies close.
My wing at this point.  The skirmishers have cleared off and the cavalry are all about to go in.  The Latins have two units of heavy Equites; I have a large unit of elite Companion cavalry and some Peltasts.  Both sides also have some light horse. It could go either way.
Contact all along the line.
How it looks to me.
The central infantry struggle.  Unfortunately for Rome, the Hastati perform really badly, failing to degrade the phalanxes.
However, the Romans at the far end of the field from me are seriously threatening a breakthrough.  The weak point in the Macedonian array is the link between phalanx and cavalry, the Galatian foot, and Simon's Galatians are getting stomped.
A low level shot from my table edge.  I like this one.
A slight advantage develops for me as my light cavalry see off their Latin counterparts.
Things are not looking good for us at the far end of the field, though, as the Romans gain an overlap against the leftmost of our phalanx units.  Having said that, though, Simon's cavalry have broken through, and the Romans have had to divert their Triarii to face them.
My cavalry are also beginning to gain the upper hand.  This battle is getting well nasty.
The mass of the phalanx begins to tell in the centre as the Hastati are swept out of the way for relatively little loss.  The Romans will need to exploit their advantage against Simon and Simon before the phalanx crushes everything in sight.
Gordon, in command of the Latin legions, realises this as well and executes an especially risky manoeuvre: his endmost Principes do an about face to try to catch the end of the phalanx in the rear, while hoping that Graham can hold me off long enough for the blow to land.
The phalanx presses on relentlessly... the endmost Roman legion at the far side breaks through completely.  Will they be able to turn back again quickly enough, though?  At the top of the photo you can maybe just make out Simon's cavalry as it starts a wide sweep around the Roman right and into their rear.  The mass of troops just ahead of them is the dead pile!
I am not killing Graham's cavalry quickly enough, so I risk the King and send him into the front line of the cavalry combat.  This works (just!) and I am now able to threaten the rear of Gordon's Principes.  We will probably lose our end phalanx unit, but hopefully the rot will stop there as I hit the Romans from behind.
Which is indeed what happens.  I prudently remove King Demetrius (or whoever he is - we haven't decided yet) because my cavalry are exhausted.  Indeed they do destroy the Principes, but then are destroyed in turn by the waiting Velites of the Latin legions.  The king's intervention is the only proper decision I make all game, but I like to think it matters.
The final photo shows the phalanx as it is about to hit the Triarii - Macedon wins.

It was close, though.  The Romans just failed to capitalise on their rightmost Roman legion's breakthrough, mainly because Simon's wide cavalry sweep forced the Triarii to turn to face rather than help out against the phalanx.  When the dust settled, the Macedonians were one unit away from breaking, with 42% of army value lost.  However, when a Roman army is beaten, it goes down big time - 75% destroyed.  That will put a crimp in their plans for world domination.

Thanks are due to every who came and made it a memorable day.  It was good to see everybody together for a change.  Since it was my 50th, they clubbed together and made an order to Magister Militum: a whole load of Numidian cavalry for my growing collection of North Africans.  Thanks guys!  And thanks to Cathy for putting up with us all...

Saturday 15 March 2014

Big Birthday Bash

What better way to celebrate my first half-century than this:
Macedonians on the left (using my Seleucids) and Romans on the right as you look at it.  My birthday is today - the Ides of March, funnily enough - and we'll play this tomorrow.  In the meantime I wanted to take some photos of the setup.
The Macedonian right, from a Latin's viewpoint: a dozen light cavalry, 18 Companions and 12 Peltasts, with a dozen skirmish archers out front.  In the centre of the photo you can see 36 mercenary Galatian foot, who provide the link with the phalanx.
The Macedonian centre: ten units each of 48 figures, deployed six ranks deep; there are a few hoplites filling out the rear ranks.  36 Javelinmen out front.
Their left: another 36 Galatians; 12 Peltasts; 18 heavy cavalry; 12 light cavalry; and 12 slingers.
The right wing of the consular army facing them: 12 light cavalry extraordinarii, two units of 12 heavy Equites, and a dozen Cretan archers to screen them.
Two Roman legions, in proper triplex acies formation.  Each has a dozen Velites, two units of 24 Hastati, two units of 24 Principes, and two units of 12 Triarii.
Two more of the same, Latins this time.
Finally, a mirror-image of the Roman cavalry wing, except that here the skirmishers are slingers.

Terrain is like Cynoscephalae, except with two large low hills and nowt else.  I chose and set up the armies, going for symmetrical deployments to give a good old-fashioned infantry grudge match.  This will count towards the campaign, but in order to make a large game out of it I doubled the army sizes.  This will keep them in proportion so that I can work out what happens afterwards.  There are enough commands for up to six players per side, although that many people might be a tight squeeze.  Lubrication of the beery kind should help.

I wanted to put on a large game for my long-standing gaming friends and ancients players, and this seemed like a good excuse.  I have found by experience that a very large game needs to be set up in advance; that way everyone can just muck in.  Sharp-eyed observers may be able to see the various casualty markers dotted around the battlefield behind their respective units; I want to use my handmade casualty dials to keep the game as clutter-free as possible.

To be honest, I don't care who wins!

Monday 10 March 2014

Billy's Success in Dumfries

Billy took his American Civil War to Dumfries for the Albanich show.  I couldn't make it myself, but I promised to post the photos:
Setting up.
The terrain looks as though it's all in place.
A full table shot, with Billy looking regal.
One of the action close-ups.  Billy did the whole lot himself: figures, terrain tiles and scenery.
Another action shot.  They seem to like fighting over bridges in this war...
Up close and personal, this time!
A well deserved best in show, being inspected by one of the little metal participants.
And also by the players.  From the left as you look at it: Graham, Billy, Roy and Bill.
And, to finish, a gratuitous shot of a WWII beach scene.  I'm not sure of this was another game at the show, or a photo of some of Billy's other stuff, but it looks good anyway.

Quick edit: Willie told me on the phone that the WWII game was one of the other lovely ones at the show - by folks from Cumbria, I think.

Sunday 9 March 2014

North African Infantry

Figures by Companion Miniatures:
These came with small shields, clearly intended for use as light infantry or skirmishers.  However, Companion Miniatures are quite chunky, and I have more than a few of them, so I decided to give them Gripping Beast scuta with LBMS transfers and turn them into massed foot.  The command figs are by Gripping Beast.  After all, Juba's imitation legions had to come from somewhere...
We are going to need these for the developing campaign, for forces from the 3rd Punic War onwards.  There will be quite a lot of fighting in North Africa.
I used earth colours, greens and off-whites for the tunics, with various shades of brown and some grey for those with animal skins.  Flesh tone is a sort of nut brown that I usually use for light leather.  I wanted a deeply tanned look to these guys, but not really dark browns because these would be inaccurate for the inhabitants of the area at this time.  Hair colours are browns and some black.
Three units of 48 figures massed together on my newly distressed cloth for club games.  Lusher terrain can be seen in the background.  This takes my tally so far for 2014 to 160 foot and 44 mounted.

Saturday 1 March 2014

On the Painting Tray: March 2014

Finishing off 144 North African spearmen, to be followed by 48 skirmishers with bows and slings.  All by Companion Miniatures.