Sunday, 9 December 2018

The Titans are Coming!

At long last, Olympos has fallen. I have been working on Four Against the Titans (4AT) for a while now, and I'm delighted to see it released.

Although it is based on the highly acclaimed Four Against Darkness series of dungeon delving adventures by Andrea Sfiligoi, 4AT is a standalone pen and paper adventure game designed for solitaire or RPG-lite co-operative games.

Set in ancient Greece in a time of myths and legends, players choose heroes from ten different character types to complete mighty quests and battle creatures such as centaurs, harpies and maenads, all in an attempt to defeat the titans and forestall the destruction of Greece.

So far the rules are available as a pdf from the Ganesha Games Gumroad store, or in hardcopy from Lulu. They will be abailable through Amazon at some stage in the near future. 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

10mm Macedonian infantry

Next up for the 10mm Macedonians are the bulk of their tribal infantry. These men were of a significantly lower social status than the horse-riding aristocracy and their mounted retinues. Generally speaking, early Macedonian foot are treated as mediocre peltasts or auxilia-style infantry. 

They couldn't (or wouldn't) stand up to the Thracian infantry that Sitakles sent around the Thermaic Gulf in 429 BC (Thucydides 2.99), and, speaking of the force of the Macedonian Lynkestians, the Spartan commander Brasidas is rather scornful:

"Inexperience now makes you afraid of barbarians; and yet the trial of strength which you had with the Macedonians among them, and my own judgment, confirmed by what I hear from others, should be enough to satisfy you that they will not prove formidable. Where an enemy seems strong but is really weak, a true knowledge of the facts makes his adversary the bolder, just as a serious antagonist is encountered most confidently by those who do not know him. Thus the present enemy might terrify an inexperienced imagination, they are formidable in outward bulk, their loud yelling is unbearable, and the brandishing of their weapons in the air has a threatening appearance. But when it comes to real fighting with an opponent who stands his ground, they are not what they seemed; they have no regular order that they should be ashamed of deserting their positions when hard pressed; flight and attack are with them equally honourable, and afford no test of courage; their independent mode of fighting never leaving any one who wants to run away without a fair excuse for so doing."

Thucydides 4.126.3-5

Further scraps of information regarding the Macedonian infantry can be found in the words Arrian put in the mouth of Alexander the Great, when castigating his men during the the mutiny at Opis in 324 BC.
"Let me begin, as is right, with my father Philip. He found you wandering about without resources, many of you clothed in sheepskins and pasturing small flocks in the mountains, defending them with difficulty against the Illyrians, Triballians and neighbouring Thracians. He gave you cloaks to wear instead of sheepskins, brought you down from the mountains to the plains, and made you a match in war for the neighbouring barbarians, owing your safety to your own bravery and no longer to reliance on your mountain strongholds. He made you city dwellers and civilised you with good laws and customs."
Arrian Anabasis 7.9.2

I am using Magister Militum's Greek peltasts - combining the long spear-armed, and javelin-armed chaps on the same base - to represent the Macedonian infantry. In loose formation, and with plenty of variation in shield designs (some plain animal hide and some painted), I'm quite happy with the look. Each unit has a 'tribal' colour to give a sense of unity, but this has been mixed in with white, grey and brown clothing to keep it rustic.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

10mm Hoplites

I have now finished my first unit of 10mm hoplites. These are the earlier hoplites from Magister Militum. In the Men of Bronze rules, there is supposed to be a 'leader' figure to act as a measuring/line of sight point. Because the polemarch of a phalanx is supposed to be in the front right of the formation, I've gone with a sacrificing priest out front as the marker. 

These hoplites are intended - initially at least - as 'Macedonians'. Or, rather, Greeks from cities in Macedonia. Or Greek mercenaries in Macedonia. All of these seem to have been a feature - if a minor one - of Macedonian armies from the reign of Perdikkas II (454-413 BC); even the Highland Macedonian kingdom of Lynkos seems to have had access to hoplites.

"Brasidas and Perdiccas started on a second joint expedition into Lyncus against Arrhabaeus; the latter with the forces of his Macedonian subjects, and a corps of heavy infantry (ὁπλίτας) composed of Hellenes domiciled in the country; the former with the Peloponnesians whom he still had with him and the Chalcidians, Acanthians, and the rest in such force as they were able. In all there were about three thousand Hellenic heavy infantry, accompanied by all the Macedonian cavalry with the Chalcidians, near one thousand strong, besides an immense crowd of barbarians ... After this the Lyncestian heavy infantry (ὁπλιτῶν) advanced from their hill to join their cavalry and offered battle ..."
Thucydides 4.124.1-3

Perdikkas' son Archelaos (413-399 BC) appears to have also made use of hoplites: "Of these there was no great number, most of those now found in the country having been erected subsequently by Archelaus, the son of Perdiccas, on his accession, who also cut straight roads, and otherwise put the kingdom on a better footing as regards horses, heavy infantry (ὅπλοις), and other war material than had been done by all the eight kings that preceded him."
Thucydides 2.100.2

I went with a lot of Argead stars/suns and horsey themes, with a liberal mix of other more generic stuff on the shields. As a first attempt at free handing 10mm hoplons, I'm happy with the way they turned out.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Dux Bellorum beyond the Foyle

Happily ensconced on the Foyleside, we got in a quick and bloody game of Dux Bellorum. Lee led my Angles in their first game - a force consisting of warrior companions, one warband of noble warriors,  five warbands of ordinary warriors and some bow-armed skirmishers. The Angles took javelins for their warriors as a stratagem. I was the aggressor with a much smaller force of Ulstermen - warrior companions, four warbands of noble warriors, and some riders. I invested in two additional leadership points as a stratagem. As a result, although the Angles had the numbers, the army of Ulstermen were both better trained and better led.

The Angles deployed in a long line behind a muddy stream, their nobles and leaders in the center of the line, and the skirmishers at their extreme left. The Irish were spread out more with the companions second from the left, and the riders on the extreme right. 

In the opening turn, both armies made haphazard advances. One Germanic warband in particular struggled to make their way out of the river while the rest of the Angle warriors formed up in two new blocks. The Irish riders decided they didn't want to let the Anglian archers fire away at them as they negotiated the river and made a daring sweep between the closing lines outflank the Angles on the Irish left. 

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way and the riders were caught by the howling Anglian warriors. The Irish king then threw himself forward to help extract them, and the supporting noble warriors did the same. The noble warriors of the Irish centre were outside of charge range, and so held back, while the right-most Irish warband flung themselves across the river into the Anglian skirmishers.

Despite their ferocious charge, the Ulster noble warriors only managed to inflict a single cohesion loss on the skirmishers!

As the Angles in the centre moved forward, the last uncommitted Ulster warriors charged into them. Over on the left flank, the Irish riders managed to pull out of the melee and negotiated their way back around the left flank. After a second round of combat, the Irish noble warriors managed to disperse the skirmishing Angles. 

The Irish riders charged back into the fray - now on their own terms - and the Irish noble warriors in the river shoved past the floating corpses of fallen archers to charge the Anglian warriors (still stuck in the muddy river) in the flank. In the centre, the Irish king was more than holding his own, resisting the attacks of the Anglian earl, and focusing his own attacks against the much more fragile common warriors. Everywhere, the Irish nobles were getting the better of the melee, although they were still outnumbered and there was always a chance that numbers would eventually tell.
But ultimately it was too late for numbers alone. Over two rounds of combat, the Irish riders, and then most of the Anglian warriors fled from the field of slaughter. Only three warbands still stood facing the Ulstermen, and those were spread out across a wide area.

The Ulstermen started encircling the Anglian earl and his companions to deliver the coup de grâce, the amphibious melee in the river ended in the Irishmen's favour and the Angles were routed. As the sodden warriors fled, the heart went out of their countrymen's fight and the last of the Angles pulled back to lick their wounds. 

We'd never played a game between two warrior armies before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. A lot of wild charges probably. Well, we got that sure enough. Happily, although both forces were warrior-based, they were actually quite distinct. With their aggression and cohesion ratings of 6, I reasoned that the Irish were both savage and resilient enough that all those extra LPs could be spent on blocking hits rather than increasing their attacks. Meanwhile, Lee threw all (as in every single one) of his LPs into his attacks. The outcome: my noble warriors shrugged off a lot of potential damage, while the less resilient common Angle warriors were cut to pieces. Another fun game of a cracking little rule set.