Thursday 27 November 2014

The Hydaspes

I have just updated the ancients scenarios page for 500-250 BC with a modified version of the Hydaspes. We are hoping to run this game at Carronade in May 2015, and maybe again at Claymore in August. However, we were able to try it out at the Glasgow leg of the Armati tournament. This is the second year we have have been able to put on a large 25/28mm game for our visitors. Last year we tried Ilipa, and since Simon has the figures, we thought we would pre-empt the Society of Ancients Battle Day for 2015 and try Hydaspes. The Friday night large game is becoming a bit of a fixture before the tourney proper begins; it's kind of a way of saying thanks to those make the journey to Glasgow, and provides some light relief.

The table was pretty basic, but I hope the photos give you some indication of how the game played:
The Macedonian right, from an Indian deity's perspective. Note that nasty little man in front of the Companions dishing out orders.
The next section of the Macedonian army - plenty more is off table. Bruce ran Alexander and the cavalry, while Vincent took the rest. The echelon deployment makes it difficult to fit the invaders onto the field, so we just fed them on as the phalanx advanced.
A shot of Simon's lovely Indian army: the massed centre. Carl played the Indian left, Mark the centre and Ian their left.
Chariots and cavalry on the Indian left. That's Poros at the top right as you look at it; after the battle we decided he should have an elephant unit all to himself.
Full table shot, side-on from the Hydaspes itself. Alexander's weight can be clearly seen to the left, and the whole Indian deployment at the right.
An attempt at an atmospheric photo-opportunity. Note the celestial hat stand in the corner.
One of the Indian chariots too.
The battle begins, with Bruce attacking aggressively, and being heckled by the onlookers, just because he is playing Alexander.
Mark advances some of the elephants to try to cramp the style of the invaders, who are pretty much all on table by this point.
A close-up of chariots and Companions mixing it.
It's not all going the way of the Macedonians, though, as the leftmost unit of Companions gets caught by elephants as well as chariots - I hope you can see it in the centre of the photo above. In the right foreground, though, Alexander is doing what Alexander does best, apart from killing his friends after a drunken binge.
A gratuitous shot of the Indian army's moment of glory.
Phalanx against elephants. despite the initial crunch, it can only really end one way.

Fleeing Companions. You don't get to see that very often, so we posed them specially for the shot.
In the meantime, the chariots start to have a bad day. Apologies for this one, it seems a bit blurry - just wanted to keep the narrative flowing.
Some of the Companions break through to the cavalry beyond.
I shifted positions to take the one above from the Macedonian side of the table: the Indian left is looking ominously bare, but the elephants in the centre have about-faced to try to come into the flank of the Hypaspists.  They will need to re-order themselves first, though. At this point the initiative dice gods fled and the enemy light cavalry were able to get the elephants from their flank and rear.
Alexander has finished off his chariots, and is now squaring off against Poros in person, who has joined the other Indian cavalry unit.

Alexander meets Poros, especially remounted on an elephant for the occasion. Was that a speed bump? The Indian army disintegrated at this point.

We had a good post-battle discussion, and I have modified the scenario we used accordingly.  People seemed to enjoy themselves, and the armies sure looked pretty.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Test Shot: Command Stands with embossed shields

One rather unusual aspect to Companion Miniatures is that some of their legionaries come with embossed shields, kind of similar to those made by Crusader for Hellenistic Greeks.  There are several patterns, and since I bought so many of them I have enough of the above design for a full legion, plus a load of another design for two more.  I can't help feeling that if the figures see full production again, whoever owns them should sell these shields separately too.  If anyone knows of another manufacturer who makes something like these scuta for 25/28mm figures, please let me know!

Thursday 13 November 2014

Campaign Battle: The Ligurian Revolt

It is Spring in the year 123 BC, and a Roman army has arrived in Liguria to put down the revolt there.  En route, the Romans destroyed the Latin city of Fregellae that also rose up in revolt, but which was betrayed from within when a Roman citizen opened the gates.  I forgot the camera this time, which was a real shame because Graham got to put his new legionaries on the table for the first time.  I've used Battle Chronicler to draw maps:
First up is the deployment, with the defending Ligurians at the top in blue.  Romans are in red, Socii in white and Spanish auxiliaries in yellow.  The terrain confronting the Roma army is rather nasty.  I drew the Roman setup beforehand to save time.  I anticipated that the locals would mass on one section of the field - the trouble was, I didn't know which.  So to cover as many eventualities as possible, I placed the Latin legions on the left facing a town, and the Romans in the centre - both locations are at least reasonably open.  I put some Caetrati opposite the woods on the left, and more ready to go into the marshy areas at the foot of the hills.  I massed all of the cavalry on the right.  As it turned out, I was to command the Latins on the left while Billy took the Romans and the majority of the Caetrati, and Graham ran the right.  Simon chose the Ligurians, and he and Gordon deployed them.  They chose to mass in the centre and on their left, trusting to the town to slow down any Roman types on that part of the field.
To keep things simple, I've removed most of my command from the maps, because they had a happy time looting the town.  The only unit of mine that really played any part in the game was the lead Hastati element of one of the Socii legions.
Both sides advanced for the first couple of turns, and we soon had contact in the centre as two huge warbands with more support behind them bore down on the Roman legions and accomplished precisely nothing.  The Ligurians couldn't hit very much at all while the Romans got on with their massed mincing technique.  Oh well, at least the Socii didn't take the brunt of it for a change.
More manoeuvring on other parts of the field while the warriors in the centre were grimly massacred by the Roman legionaries.
At our left centre, the Ligurian foot on the hill crashed into the Caetrati, who quickly did an impression of the central Ligurian warriors.  At our right, Graham threw in the Roman Equites to slow down the enemy advance here.  The Roman legionaries in the centre continued to cut great swathes through their opponents.
On our left, my Hastati finally made it out of the town and up the hill, where they met the reserve Ligurian horse.  The Caetrati to my right disintegrated, but the Ligurian foot here were taking terrible casualties from the Spanish javelinmen and the Velites of the Roman legions.  In the centre, the Romans destroyed one of the large warbands and disordered the other on morale.  Towards our right, more Ligurian foot assaulted the Caetrati in the marshy ground, and Graham got lucky with his Latin cavalry.  The Warband here went a bit loopy after killing the Roman Equites and started looting the bodies in a frenzy of hatred, forcing the small unit of Ligurian horse to charge the Latins to pin them in place.  The latter then emulated their Roman legionary compatriots by killing loads of the enemy.
The second wave of warbands started to get into the action in the centre, and the other large warband finally got their wits together and crashed into the Latin horsemen.
The battle ended as I destroyed the cavalry fighting my Hastati; the skirmishers annihilated the Ligurian foot to my right;  the second large central warband routed; and Graham finished off the Ligurian cavalry on his wing.  Successes for the Ligurians cam a bit too late as their other foot unit destroyed the Caetrati.

But that was it, all over.  The Ligurian Revolt has been comprehensively defeated.  Next up will be an unusual one: the Indians have attacked the Parthians in Bactria.

Monday 10 November 2014

A Quick Update to the Campaign Page for Dies Martis

I've added a suggested list for the Ligurians to the campaign page, because they have just rebelled from Rome.  Here is the list anyway:

0-8%:  Massed Cavalry
50-95%: Warriors
3-6%: Skirmishers with javelins
0-2%: Skirmishers with sling
0-2%: Skirmishers with Bows

The Massed Cavalry may be either heavy or medium. The Warriors can come in several flavours: loose or close formation Warbands with Impetus, and loose or close formation medium foot.  Any combination of these can be used. The Ligurians were not well known as horsemen, but they did make tough infantry opponents.

We will see how they fight tomorrow evening.  There will be lots of lovely terrain for them, which will make things interesting...

Men in Black

Well, Romans with black shields.  I know my Hollywood - they must be bad guys.
Again, mostly by Companion Miniatures.  Some of the foot Tribunes are by Foundry, and the mounted Legate is Navigator Minis' Pompey.
Shield designs are by Little Big Men, for Warlord Games Romans.  They are a little too big for these shields, but I mostly managed.  Some are a bit damaged, but I just left them like that - I want these guys to look as though they have been in some fights.
I was getting a little bit jaded with red shields.  Besides, I like the look of the black with the red cloaks.

Friday 7 November 2014

Campaign Events: 129-124 BC

All is quite for a few years, but then:

Autumn 127: The Parthians arrive back in Bactria.  This time it looks as though they are going to stay.  The Indians across the eastern border of Bactria decide not to provoke any aggressive moves from the men on horses, and so prudently move southwards back towards their own supply bases.  They will want to confront the Parthians later, on their own terms.
Summer 126: The Indians arrive in Sattagydia, to link up with reinforcements.
Spring 125: The Ligurian Revolt.  Just to compound Rome's problems, the Latin city of Fregellae also rebels.  First stirrings of unrest amongst the Socii?
Summer 125: The Roman army that put down the Slave Revolt in Sicily marches back northwards and reaches Campania.
Autumn 125: Fregellae falls swiftly to a surprise assault as a Roman citizen secretly opens the gates from within.  The town is levelled. The Roman army then moves on into Etruria.
Spring 124: The Romans assault Liguria.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Grudge Match: Parthians against Ptolemies

Campaign battle in Palmyra, 129 BC.  The Parthian host has descended upon Palmyra in the hopes of forcing the decaying Ptolemaic Egyptians even further back.  Simon chose and deployed the defending Egyptians, while I constructed and set up the Parthians.  Terrain was mostly open, with a couple of low ridges and two nice orchards.  Photos are taken from the Parthian perspective, mostly from the Parthian left (my command). The Egyptians:
The first photo shows the Egyptian right, the troops directly opposite mine: some Tarentine styled light horse, two units of Cleruchs heavy cavalry, a unit of elephants, and plenty of light infantry support.  Alan commanded these initially, ably seconded by Graham, who took over when Alan had to leave.
Moving along, a large phalanx fills their centre, Malcolm in command (although he isn't in the photo).  Is that a Roman interloper at the right?  Ave!
Keith in command at their right completes their array: elephants, camels, light horse and a load of skirmishers.
Over to the Parthians.  My lot on our left wing: high quality horse archers and cataphracts.  very Parthian.
A slightly fuzzy shot of our centre, I just wanted to show it for the sake of completeness.  Willy runs our Greek city spearmen, most of whom are on a nice big hill, along with some cataphracts and horse archers.  Skirmisher infantry out front.
Our right: Gordon in command.  More cataphracts and even more horse archers.
The opening moves on my wing.
The centre remains strangely static.
Gordon's troops swarm forwards at our right.
A side shot of the whole field at this point, taken from my wing.
Further developments here: I am being very aggressive with my cataphracts, hoping to get the unit at the top centre of the photo well past the elephants to turn the enemy flank.
Not much continues to happen centrally.
Our right continues to advance.
Table shot at this stage.  Now that the Parthians are committed on the flanks, will the Egyptian phalanx advance in the centre?
Alan and I are having a rather civilised little battle on our side of the field, thank you very much.
The phalanx advances.
Gordon starts to swarm Keith's troops at our far right.
Table shot, with some rather desperate combats on my wing.  The battle has settled into a pattern: will either or both of the Parthian wings break through before the phalanx gets to the spearmen on the hill?
Close up and nasty.
My guys are not pushing through the way I hoped.
The phalanx marches onwards.
Gordon swarms even more.
Side angle view shows the relative positions at this point.
A gap has appeared for the enemy elephants.  Now all my cataphracts need to do is finish those pesky Cleruchs: nine dice, needing a 5-6 to hit.  Two hits will destroy them and get me past the pachyderms.  I should score three.
Guess who missed entirely?  Elephants like canned food, apparently.  My wing will not be breaking through...
That phalanx is getting closer.
Gordon is swarming nicely, but Keith is making him pay for it in terms of precious time.
The phalanx is nearly there - time for a hill assault.
With the camels destroyed, Gordon is beginning to win his flank.
I, however, am rubbish.  With no heavy troops left, all I can do is fall back in skirmish in front of the victorious enemy on my wing.  Fortunately, though, they are in no position to turn the flank of the hilltop troops, who are off to the right of the photo above on the other side of the woods.
Contact in the centre.
The phalanx overlaps Willy's left, but it is now open to Gordon's troops.
The last hurrah, as Gordon's guys get ready to go in.

The game finished almost immediately after this - one phalanx unit was destroyed by Gordon's flank attack and the spearmen on the hill took out another for the loss of one of their own, but the Parthians were forced to retire from the field.  The Ptolemaics, however, are in bad shape too, and this is one army that will not be in a position to mount any offensives for some time.  The Parthians, honour satisfied, will head eastwards to pick up reinforcements and finish off Bactria, I think.