Saturday 31 December 2016

Battle of Philippi: Antonius versus Cassius

I have been slowly putting together an article for Slingshot about the monster Philippi games I ran at the Society of Ancients conference in October. I don't want to pre-empt what is going into the article, which will include full scenario details as well as a basic write-up of what transpired on the day. I do, however, have a little bit of time right now since I am on holiday, so I thought I'd post a full battle report of each of the three stages here. There's no way I could put this number of photos into a journal article! This first posting is about the first game, between the Republican conspirator and assassin Cassius, and the Caesarean Antonius.
First up is a view of the opposing lines, taken from behind the left flank of Cassius' army. At the left is a very large swamp, which Antonius tried to turn to his advantage by building a causeway. Cassius figured this out, and had his men throw up a palisaded rampart from his camp (off to the right of the photo) to intercept Antonius' causeway. It is at this point that Antonius attacks. At the top of the photo you can see his rather imposing camp, and in front of that he has deployed three legions in triplex acres. Cassius has been caught momentarily on the hop, and has only two legions here, in duplex acres. They do have some help from a stream running across their front and emptying into the swamp, but they will be under pressure.
Moving along to the right of the previous photo, we see in the right foreground Cassius in his camp and one of his central legions in triplex, also behind the stream. In the distance, I hope it is apparent that Antonius has another couple of legions, also in the traditional three lines, but echeloned back somewhat from his more advanced right hook.
Still moving along to the right behind the Republican army, we have a bend in the stream. In the distance at the top right of the shot can be seen the first of Antonius' rightmost legions, in duplex acies, and echeloned even further back. In the immediate foreground is a palisaded walkway that goes off to the right to link Cassius' camp with that of Brutus on the other side of the Via Egnatia.
In the foreground of the photo above is the remainder of the Republicans, facing two of the Caesarean legions in duplex.
Above is a gratuitous close-up of one of Cassius' legions waiting behind their stream, with the commanding legate at the bottom right as you look at it.
Switching sides to behind the Caesareans, the photo above shows the view from Antonius' left wing, with two legions in duplex facing three of Cassius' legions in three lines.
Moving more into Antonius' centre, you should be able to see where his next legions are deployed in triplex, somewhat in advance of the leftmost troops and ready to think about perhaps attacking across that stream towards Cassius' camp - maybe.
Again moving to the right behind the Caesarean lines, this one shows where the rightmost of Antonius' troops appears en echelon. This one is bit blurry, but I hope it gives a sense of the relative deployments.
Above is the view from the ramparts of Antonius' splendid camp. The three legions he has placed here are all veterans, and he is ready to ride out of the camp in person to help if need be - or, more likely, take the credit if the attack goes well.
The photo above shows determined Republicans ready to defend their camp, deployed as usual behind their stream.
How the whole thing looks, from off to the Republican right and Caesarean left. Cassius' forces are to the right as you look at it, Antonius on the right. At the bottom of the photo you can just see the Via Egnatia, the dividing line between this battle, and the other between Brutus and Octavius. You should be able to see Antonius' echeloned deployment. He has three veteran legions ready to assault across the stream at the far end of the field, nearest the swamp. His centre comprises two more legions, and his left is weakest, with two legions in two lines. The echelon is an attempt to buy time for his leftmost troops. Cassius' weakest point, in mirror image, is his left, with the two legions in duplex facing Antonius' veterans.
The whole field from the opposite side.
And they're off. Well not quite all of them, as some of Antonius' legions hang back a little. In the foreground, Cassius' outnumbered legionaries wait, albeit rather nervously. Somewhat fortuitously, the Republican legion next to the swamp is composed of veterans.
Moving a bit more toward the centre of the field, and agin taken from behind Cassius' lines, it would appear that Antonius is intending to make a decent attempt at forcing a crossing.
Cassius' men wait patiently behind their stream while the Caesareans appear to be doing a bit of shuffling - nervous about that weaker flank to the right of the photo?
And here indeed is why - two legions hanging back to avoid contact for as long as possible, one with white shields and one with yellow. At the bottom of this photo you can see some of the legion information cards I produced for the game.
A shot from the swamp. At the very top right you can see the far wing of Cassius' legions starting to advance; they are going to try to come to grips with Antonius' weaker forces there.
A view from the Via Egnatia at the same time.
The Caesareans start to cross the stream.
Cassius' men behind the stream hold position, while their far right swings more to try to engage the Caesareans.
A lower level shot of the advancing Republicans. John Drewiekiewicz is in charge of the Caesareans here, and is doing a grand job of avoiding contact for as long as he possibly can.
All of the veteran Caesarean legions are now fighting their way across the stream.
Fighting rages right across the entire field.
A closer shot of the fighting near the swamp. The casualty markers are seeing a great deal of use.
In the centre, the Republicans have decided to charge across the stream, rather than wait for Antonius to win at their right and then roll up the line.
Antonius' white legion tries desperately to hold the far left of the line...
...along with their compatriots with the yellow shields.
And here is how it looks from the Via Egnatia at the crucial moment.

In the end, it turned out to be a substantial victory for Antonius. His yellow shields crumbled at his far left, but the assault across the stream destroyed the two Republican legions there. The game was up when one of the central legions on the Republican side also broke, sweeping Cassius away with it. A creditable win for the Caesareans.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Roman Command Stands

Finally managed to finish some figures.
First up is a command stand for Gaius Marius or similar.
I bought two of the relatively new sets of Roman command from Aventine and mixed them up a little.
And nicely detailed they are too. The third photo shows the variations in their cloaks.
These were really nice to paint.
This base is meant to represent Sertorius in Iberia, together with obligatory white fawn.
The fawn is by Warbases.
Again the cloak is well detailed.
The standard bearer is quite dynamic, but I left the standard itself plain.
The third base is a real mixture, and is much more of a vignette. In the photo above you can see a couple of senators with womenfolk waiting anxiously to hear something important; figs by Foundry.
And here's why they are so worried: a certain Lucius Cornelius Sulla on horseback with a long scroll of proscriptions. Protected, of course, by soldiery and the obligatory lictors. These are a mixture: Sulla by Aventine; the tribunes with spears by Foundry (I think); and the guy holding the horse's reigns is by Old Glory.
A side view. The irregular looking base is by Simon Miller aka Big Red Bat.
This photo shows a little more of the base edge - it makes quite a nice change from smooth ones.
View from the rear. Aventine cloaks really are very nice.
Standing just to the front left of Sulla is another senatorial couple.
These are the other two from the Foundry's set of six - three men and three women.
The photo above shows the senator on Sulla's side rubbing his grubby little hands in glee.
Aerial shot. It looks like there are two victims and one beneficiary from Sulla's latest cull of the Roman aristocracy...

Monday 12 December 2016

Quarter of a million

No real reason for posting this, except that my hit number for the blog reached 250,000 some time over the weekend. Helped, no doubt, by Russian robots. I originally started doing this because Mark Grindlay back up in Glasgow suggested it as a way to get a free website, as well as being a good way to keep a sort of online diary of gaming things. That was in May 2010, a chance discussion on the way to a game at Willie's place, if I remember correctly. So it has taken me six years to get to this stage. Thanks, Mark!

Saturday 3 December 2016

On the Painting Tray: December 2016

Made a start on some Roman command:
November passed in a blur, partly because of work, but also because of settling in to new house. Part of settling is a desk bureau that Cathy got me as a housewarming/ Xmas pressies:
Quite plain on the outside, almost 1950s or 60s retro.
The lower half has shelf space and a couple of capacious drawers.
The top half has all the nooks and crannies I'll need for paints and stuff, plus a nice A3-sized writing pad. Cover that with paper = instant painting surface. This will live in our kitchen/diner and so will free up space for Cathy to use the computer upstairs without being bothered by little lead people constantly crying "Paint me. No! Me! Paint me!"...