Sunday 28 May 2017

Canadians on the warpath

The task given to Lieutenant James FitzJames (of the Cherrymount FitzJames') was a simple one. As Captain Hotspur had put it, "Get that bloody wagon moving!" Those parts of the trackway that were not riven with small gullies by the recent rains, had collected the water in broad stretches of sticky mud. Hotspur had taken most of the company on to Fort Heretostay, leaving the bookish FitzJames with a small detachment of men and impeded by a bogged wagon - not to mention the tiresome company of 'Mr' Thomas Hawks and his self entitled clutch of colonials. At least sergeants Maguire and Hamill had elected to stay behind to add a little practical experience to FitzJames' more theoretical learning. Rev. Cornelius Goodyeare had also decided to stay behind with the wagon to continue an ongoing discussion he had been having with FitzJames on the weight of angels relative to the density of clouds...

FitzJames started off proceedings by suggesting the wagon would get unbogged faster if the colonials (the ones without guns) attempted to push it. Although obviously making headway, Sgt Hamil chose to help out by taking a group of fusiliers back to try and push from the other side of the wagon too. Pretty soon, it looked like one last united heave would get it going.

Then, from the woods to the south, the uncouth chattering of Canadians alerted the Ulstermen to the presence of a potential hazard. Knowing, from long experience in these parts that Francophones meant nothing but trouble, Tom Hawks got his followers to start blazing away into the woods. Although his men were all equipped with rifles, at the short ranges involved Hawks allowed his boys to tap reload, effectively reducing their weapons to common muskets, but increasing the rate of fire.

The Canadian militia continued to take casualties, first from Hawks' frontiersmen, and them from Hamill's fusiliers who abandoned the wagon pushing in favour of musketry. However, while the frontiersmen managed to avoid casualties from the Canadian's return fire, Hamill's fusiliers were not so lucky and started losing both men and resolve.

Meanwhile, shielded from the French threat, the colonials managed to get the wagon rolling, heading west towards Fort Heretostay, Captain Hotspur, and the rest of the company. Unfortunately, they had not considered the fact that there might be Indians in the woods on either side of their path.

And indeed, with a series of great woops and howls, the Francophile Indians leapt from their ambush and assaulted the wagoneers. The colonials only lost a few of their number but were so frightened that they ran away to hid in the woods. The Indians also lost a few men and pulled back to regroup. 

Up among the ranks of the fusiliers, the Canadian shooting had taken such a toll on Hamill's men that Rev. Goodyeare was compelled to step forward and steady their nerves. A second hoard of Indians appeared in the woods to the north and commenced musketry duel with the fusiliers under Sgt Maguire.

Fearing for the wagon and it's precious supplies, Hamill, Goodyeare and a handful of fusiliers attempted to draw off the southern group of Indians with some well laid gunnery.

In the north, the Indians in the woods charged and overwhelmed Sgt Maguire's position, destroying or dispersing his entire group. Lt. FitzJames now stood rather exposed and isolated.

Alas, even in their wounded state, the southern Indians were still more than capable of over-running Hamill's thin line of men. Hamil and Rev. Goodyeare were both knocked out in the melee. The northern Indians attempted to kill the booking (but brave) FitzJames and succeeded in wounding him, but were themselves obliged to pull back as well.

Lt. FitzJames now made a dash for the wagon, attempting to save - at the very least - the precious wagon. Hawks and his frontiersmen rushed to give some assistance but met with the southern Indians who, flush from victory over their Hamill and the preacher, went strait into the colonial riflemen and out the other side.

As Lt. FitzJames looked back from the wagon, all he saw of his small detachment was a single frontiersman comforting one of the colonist's children as he disappeared into the woods.

FitzJames was badly wounded, Goodyeare, Hamill and Hawks were all lying knocked out in the mud, Maguire was missing, presumed scalped and, worst of all, the wagon was bogged again. If he made it out of this mess alive, FitzJames was going to have quite a bit of paperwork to do...

Sunday 21 May 2017

Faustus Furius: 3000

There must be something in the water, as I have just seen another great Faustus Furius post! This time, Tim and family have been playing with jet bikes! It looks like they had a cracking race - even if some of the bikes had rather unfortunate turns of fortune. Do go have a read at Tim's Miniature Wargaming blog.

Faustus Furius at 'Dispatches from the Front'

Coming late to the party, I have just seen that Chris over at Dispatches from the Front has embarked on a 6mm Faustus Furius project. The rest of his blog is well worth a look too!

Well done that man!

Saturday 20 May 2017

Hail Caesar - Sojourn in Sicily, c.275 BC

This weekend we played the first game of Hail Caesar we have had in quite a while.  I took on the role of Pyrrhos, the 6mm king of Epeiros and hegemon of the Greeks of Italy and Sicily. My noble opponent, Jameel Barcar (JB for short), led the forces of Carthage. The prize of our contest - control of Sicily and bragging rights.

Above you can see the brave Epeirots, their subjects and allies lined up on the lower left of the picture, while the Punic forces and their mercenaries are aligned along the top and right. My orber of battle is spread-sheeted below, but suffice to say, from left to right I had a command of Oscan light infantry supported by my elephants, a central command of pikemen and hoplites, and a mobile strike command on the right led by Pyrrhos and consisting of all my cavalry supported by two small units of hillmen.

It should be noted that we give regular divisional commanders a command value of 9 to keep the game rolling,
and give all light infantry and mounted 'Feigned Flight', allowing them to disengage from melee opponents.

Opposite my Oscans were a horde of hairy Gauls, Punic citizen spearmen and Sacred Band were in the centre, supported by some chariots, while the massed Greek, Italian and Numidian cavalry (eight units in all!) faced my own cavalry.

Unfortunately for me, JB miscalculated points to models present and ended up a good 50 points shy of my total. That meant that should good ol' Pyrrhos get a win, it would be undermined by the inequality of the points! A minor issue, but a niggly one.

Above, Pyrrhos' mounted command on the left, verses the massed mercenary cavalry of Carthage on the right (skulking behind the hill). 

The opening turns saw a steady advance from my side of the table. Under Pyrrhos, the hillmen made for the trees and the cavalry approached the hills. The heavy infantry moved to within the range of their skirmish screen while the Oscans (mostly hayseeds with little or no Greek!) made a more haphazard advance.  

The Carthaginians also suffered a few command issues early on, especially with their Gallic command. These hairy giants had to navigate a field system in order to occupy the local town, while some of their brethren were hampered behind the Punic chariots.

And then the massed Carthaginian mounted command charged. Or, at least,  half of it did. Their four small units of Greek and Italian medium cavalry rested their hill and fell upon the Epeirot, Thessalian and Oscan cavalry of my right flank. My chaps counter charged (of course) but were still caught on the downhill slope. Happily, my plucky Tarantine light cavalry were also at hand to add their support to the opening clash.

It was over quickly. In the first charge, two of JB's cavalry units were routed while the other two fell back, pursued by Pyrrhos' finest. Not, though, pursued by Pyrrhos himself. He had a horse killed under him leading the initial charge and there was some confusion among the ranks as to whether he was actually killed or not. 

Of course, we all know Pyrrhos' lot was not to die gloriously in Sicily, but in a street brawl in Argos having suffered a roof tile in the head, so we ruled that he was not killed, just incapacitated. He reappeared, with a reduced command value at the end of my following turn.

Meanwhile, the two remaining units of Carthaginian medium cavalry melted away and the Numidian lights (who had ridden to their aid) just as quickly. Before any of the infantry got within bow shot of each other, the fight on the Pyrrhic right flank was over. It was a victory of Pyrrhos, and a Pyrrhic victory in every sense of the word. The king was dead (he got better) and the heavy and medium cavalry that rode with him was blown beyond further use. 

Over on my left flank, a unit of Oscans had advanced in open order towards the town. Seeing fresh meat (the townspeople already having suffered occupation for two turns or so), the garrison of Gauls decamped, double time, towards my probing force. The Oscans just managed to evade the charge but they had drawn forth some easy pickings. The following turn, two large units of Oscan light infantry surrounded and destroyed the Gauls, not without suffering a bad knock themselves though.

A second unit of Gauls then hurtled down from the hills on the flank of the battlefield and proceeded to murder their way through the already fragile Oscans, forcing the supporting Oscan unit to retire back towards the main Pyrrhic line.

In the centre of the battle, my slingers and Cretan archers had been plugging away with surprising accuracy at the Punic centre command. First the chariotry was forced to retire, and then some of the Punic citizen spearmen. However, having had enough of my shooting and aware that he had lost his left flank, JB decided to throw his chariots forward in an unsupported assault against my allied hoplites. It didn't end well for the chariots.

Pyrrhos, now having shown himself not to be dead, just badly wounded and on a less magnificent horse, had managed to summon his Tarantine light horse and Siciliote hillmen and was now encroaching on the left flank of the Punic centre command. 

JB threw forward his left most unit of citizen spearmen towards the Tarantines who evaded (over enthusiastically), thereby buying himself some time. 

On his right, he kept up the Gallic pressure on my Oscan light infantry, annihilating another unit before turning my left flank. Then crushing another unit of Oscans and badly bloodying the fourth.

The centre commands of both armies were still relatively unscathed, although the Cretans consistently scored hits with every shot, slowly whittling away are the Punic citizen cohesion.

The last unit of Oscan lights are overwhelmed. In a not uncommon scenario in ancient battles, the right hand flank of each army had now overwhelmed its foes opposite and the battle line started to shift in an anti-clockwise direction. 

The Gauls now turn their attention to the hoplites holding the left flank on my centre division. On the Pyrrhic right (and the right of the photo), wounded Pyrrhos brings back the evading Tarantines.

This then, was the pivotal moment of the battle. Pyrrhos had to crush the Punic centre, and do it immediately, before the Gauls on the Carthaginian right completely encircled the pikemen. Pyrrhos rolled to activate the Tarantines to pin down the left most unit of Punic heavy infantry. Double 6. A blunder. He rolls to see how his orders were interpreted, on to roll a third 6. The Tarantines, still overly enthusiastic, thrown themselves against the Punic spearmen!

Then, the Pyrrhic central command rolls to activate, the commander wanting to sound the general advance. Double 6. Another blunder. And how is it interpreted. Another 6. The Epeirot centre surges forward with an all out charge. Six rolls of 6 in a row. Quite amazing, and achieving everything I could have hoped.

In the ensuing combat, The Punic Sacred Band scatter and flee, while the Punic citizen spearmen facing my Tarantine pike are shattered. The remaining citizen spearmen are badly bloodied, but inflict six hits on my Tarantine light horse. The plucky light horsemen have a morale save of 6+, and yet still manage to save four of the six hits! Both units become shattered, but the melee is a draw and they managed to stick around. On the left hand side of my centre, the Gauls manage to destroy my allied hoplites. By this stage my pikeman can practically feel the fetid Gallic breath against the backs of their necks! 

Fortuitously, the Gauls manage to mess up their orders in the following turn and do not make it into the melee. Given space, the Tarantine pike scatter the opposing Punic spearmen and the Tarantine horse, though forced to retire, shatter the last unit of Punic citizens. In the process, I lose my second general of the game, but the result is worth it as the Carthaginian centre gives way and retires - and not a moment too soon!

It was a great game and a sound victory for Pyrrhos. Of course, JB's points calculations meant that we were not strictly matched on points, although it felt very even on the battlefield. What really on the game for me was the difficulties faced by the Gauls in receiving their orders over several turns, the splendid shooting my my Cretan archers, and the turn of 6s, where I rolled more 6s during the command phase, the melee and the following moral saves than I usually roll in a whole game.

After playing so many abstracted games of l'Art de la Guerre recently, Hail Caesar did feel noticeably 'grindy' in places. Never-the-less, it was great to get so many 6mm figures out on the table again and it certainly made for an enjoyable evening.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

PDEE - Critters join the cast.

It is some time since my post on bunny comparisons, but my Scotia Grendel rabbits arrived this week and have just been painted. Also for the viewing is a mongrel from Black Cat Bases. Snogg, the most comical and perpetually least impressive of my prehistoric hunting party is shown for scale.

From the beginning of this project I have been looking for a Dogmatix/Idefix style hound to accompany my hunting party. This wee mutt from Black Cat is the closest I have found to fit the bill. In honour of his exemplar, I think I'll call him Idd (Dogg being already taken by his more wolfish [distant] cousin).

 And on to the bunnies. These Scotia Grendel rabbits are pretty perfect for the look of my particular cavemen. Considering the huge cost, I was worried that they may well be far over-sized. Imagine my pleasant surprise then to see that they are, in fact, pretty tiny. Snogg on measures 20mm to the eye and these guys look pretty ok scale wise next to him. The sculpting is quite comic and there is a very minimalist approach to facial features. They may not be to everyone's tastes, but for me, perfect.

All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. 
And when they catch you, they will kill you. 
But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, 
Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, 
and your people will never be destroyed.
Richard Adams, Watership Down

Palaeo Diet - cover art sample

Sunday 7 May 2017

Oh my! Galleys & Galleons from Small Ox Miniatures!

Gareth Nicholas is a fine digital 'sculptor' who creates his own amazing miniatures and has them 3D printed. He has a wee shop page on Shapeways - Small Ox Miniatures - where you can order prints of his designs. He has previously shown a few of his 15mm sculpts on the Song of Blades and Heroes FriendFace page and I've always been impressed by his work; it doesn't half help that he is an utterly splendid painter as well.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that he has just shown off his recent designs of 1/900 scale ships for Galleys & Galleons - three designs each (so far) for humans and elves. Try to look past the fantastic brush work and enjoy the great detail in those tiny wee ships.

I think they are really charming and well worth looking into if you are embarking on a new Galleys & Galleons journey, or if you already sail in 1/900 and want to pick up a few more vessels. You can find more close up shots of the vessels on Gareth's own blog HERE.

Monday 1 May 2017

Galleys & Galleons at Ellis Tech Family Game Night

Every year, the Ellis Tech Simulation Club (Danielson Connecticut) sponsors a family game night to welcome non and casual gamers in and teach some games and generally encourage community interaction. Even though Tim is not an alumnus of either Ellis Tech or the sim club, he was invited to head down and run some games of Galleys & Galleons. Check out the full right up over at his blog HERE.