Monday 27 August 2018

Dux Bellorum - One for the Annals

The men of Ulster stood facing the Romanised British host. They knew the British king was young and inexperienced, and that their own swords were tried, tested, and thirsty for more blood. The coming battle was not going to last long. Behind the British lines, smoke tricked into the sky in thin wisps from the British village. The Irishmen could practically taste their new slaves.

Another game of Dux Bellorum, as always, too long since the last. This time my Irish faced off against a new foe, the Romano-British forces of Andrew. He'd not played before, so it was a learning game. He was aided in inexperience by Lee, also having never played before. The Irish were the aggressors, the Romano-Brits were the repellers.

From stage left, at the top, bowmen and three ordinary shieldwalls, the Romano-British king with his mounted companions, and three noble riders. From stage left at the bottom, two noble Irish warrioris, the Irish king and his warrior companions, two further noble warriors, a herd of sheep, a pack of war dogs, skirmishers with javelins, and a reserve of noble-but-treated-as-ordinary Irish riders.

With neither army appearing to have anything in the way of a plan, both hosts advance in line.

Just when all looked very linear, young Pádraig the shepherd drove his herd out in front of the Irish lines - running almost as if he withed to get away and seek shelter in the opposing lines. Behind him, the pack of Irish wolfhounds left the woods to fill the gap between the warriors and the woods. The javelin-armed skirmishers took up a position on the edge of the woods, trowing taunts at the opposing British horsemen.

Pádraig the shepherd runs at full speed into the British noble riders, waving his arms and shouting something in their incomprehensible Cymric. Fortunately, he scared off his sheep in the process and as they tumbled into the horsemen, successfully reduced their cohesion.

The line of Irish warriors gave a shout at the affects of their stampeding sheep and launched themselves forwards against the British foot and the king's mounted companions.

On the far side of the battle field, the furthest two bands of British noble riders, tired of the taunting Irish skirmishers charged straight into the woods. The Ulstermen scattered before them and started back towards the coast.

The Irish warriors were getting the better of the melee on the left. The British bowmen broke with little fuss, but the mounted companions were putting up more resistance. The Irish war-dogs also loped forward, into the noble riders who still milled about, stumbling on sheep carcasses. The coup de grâce was going to be the Irish riders charging at full speed into the British horsemen still stuck mostly in the woods. Unfortunately, the order the charge seemed to come as something of a shock and they failed their bravery test...

As the Irish riders geared themselves up to charge the British nobles, some of their opposites charged home against the wolf hounds. The Irish horsemen did finally manage to find some welly and charge in. What followed was every bit the victorious, thunderous, clash or arms that was expected. The British nobles turned and fled, but the hounds also lay dead or dying in the field.

Over in the infantry melee, the savagery and numbers of the Irish noble warriors continued to tell as British spearmen fell in numbers enough the glut the proverbial ravens. It was not wholly one sided, though, as the British companions managed to break one Irish warband before they themselves were overwhelmed.

And at that point, both armies simultaneously reached breaking point. The opposing forces drew back to count the living and compose songs about the dead. 

Dux Bellorum is always a fun game. This one was technically a brutal and bloody draw but, as the aggressors, I suppose it is fair to say the Ulstermen lost. The British village remained in British hands, and no new slaves were to be had that day. The Irishmen did, however, recover the young shepherd boy, Pádraig, from beneath a particularly fat piece of mutton that had been felled in the British charge. At least he could be put back to work on his mountain when the lads finally got home.

Saturday 25 August 2018

Late Hellenistic horse archers

More of my recent painting outputs - four bases of Hellenistic horse archers. These are really nice little 6mm sculpts from the Bacchus Parthian range, but they will see service in the armies of Kommagene, the Ituraeans and the Kushan empire.


I painted this angry critter a few months ago, but have only just had the weather align with a moment of spare time to allow me to get him sprayed with matt varnish. I assume it's a him... maybe not. Who knows? Regardless, it's a badger from Krakon Games - part of their second Creatures Underground kickstarter. 

In terms of Palaeo Diet - which is why he graced my painting table - he's a bit larger than I would have liked. In the picture below, you can see him with Herc who stands a good 22mm(ish) to the eye. The badger was intended to be a bulk 1 angry critter, but he may well end up being used as bulk 2 instead.

6mm barbed wire coils

There may have been a work meeting yesterday which resulted in me fiddling so much with a clicky pen that it broke. On the up side, I realised that there was a really easy way to create something approaching 6mm barbed wire. Nothing too sophisticated, but it'll work as 'dug in' markers for my Horizon Wars infantry squads.

Sunday 12 August 2018

1807, somewhere in Silesia ...

Kapitän Johan Fuchs looked again at the map scrawled on the tattered paper in front of him. This should be the place - a small hamlet nestled between hills with a dilapidated stone church. The Hapsburg payroll was supposed to be inside the ruinous building, but the place was quiet. There were certainly no white-coated Austrians wandering around the place. Indeed, there didn't appear to be anybody wandering around at all. Maybe it was too quiet. 

To the left, the ruined church which functioned as the Austrian deployment point and the objective for Fuch's Prussians. To the right, the Prussian deployment point in the woods.

Playing Sharp Practice 2,  you never quite know who is going to activate first. The anonymous Austrians commanded by Brett kept having officer chits drawn out, but not deploying. Eventually I got an officer chit to, for Unteroffizier Shultz, my status I jäger seargent. who led his group straight up the right flank, through the woods.

On the far side of the hamlet, an Austrian jäger group then emerged from the woods. They must have been there the whole time, keeping watch over the hamlet.

Schultz took up a position in his little copse of woods at a point where he could keep an eye on the church. Behind his position, on the far side of the small hillock, Cornette Frederick Wilhelm von der Burg (status II) led his patrol of Magdeburg dragoons forward intending to support Shultz's position.

With a mounting Prussian presence on that side of the village, a platoon of Austrian fusiliers deployed from the church, into a firing line pointing at the Prussian skirmishers. In one smooth action, they formed up, presented and opened fire in a well controlled volley. 

When the echo of the volley finally left the little valley, every jäger who advanced with Schultz lay dead or dying in the woods. Schultz himself, whilst still alive, was bleeding badly from a musket shot through his upper leg. The appearance of the Austrian line finally prompted Fuchs to bring on his remaining groups of jäger. They split into two groups to try to pin the Austrians down and, hopefully, remove a couple of officers.

The Austrian jäger however had other planes and started firing at the left-most group of Prussians before they had the chance to fully take cover. Half the group was badly wounded from the single outburst of fire, but the rest of the group took shelter inside one of the buildings.  Fuchs, following his orignal plan, ordered the remaining group to open fire on the white-coats

The Austrian line splits into two groups, one remains outside the church, while the other turns to confront Fuchs in the hamlet. The smaller Prussian group continue to fire at their grey-coated Austrian counterparts from inside the building, but to little effect. 

As the firefight in the hamlet continues, von der Burg's dragoons near the edge of Shultz's woods.

As both Austrian line groups move further into the hamlet, Shultz takes a quick shot of schnaps and busts forward across the open ground towards the church. Von der Burg trots up behind him, providing a bigger target should the Austrians turn back that way.

Schults limps ever closer to the church... 

Fuchs keeps up the pressure on the Austrian line, but one group wheels back to face the Prussian dragoons.

In terrible pain - sure, you can see it on his face! - Schultz make the cove of the far side of the church. The Austrian under-officer eyes up the Prussian cavalry and readies his men... 

.... and leads them in a furious charge round the back of the church. Schultz, already badly wounded, stands no chance and is easily overwhelmed and captured.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Austrian line also turns back and starts firing upon the dragoons. Although they do not suffer enormous casualties, the shock starts to build up until Sabine, Fuch's young mistress and the mascot of his jäger company appears, as if by magic, in their midst and tries to rally their flagging spirits.

The firefight continues. The dragoons, badly shaken, cannot press forward their charge, while the Austrian line, threatened by the dragoons, cannot turn to face the Prussian jäger firing into their flanks.

 At last, the dragoons falter, and flee from the Austrians.

By now, a pall of smoke has gathered around the edge of the hamlet. Fuch pulls his men back for a last stand in the woods, and the Austrian troops turn and start to push their way forward from all quarters. 

One or two rounds were fired after that point, but by then Fuchs' force was reduced to just himself, Hornist Schwartz, Sharpshooter Schnaps and three last men from his jäger detachment. He never did establish if the Austrian payroll was stored in the church - but he also know that there was little left he could do about it that day. 

A damned blooding it was too. The first defeat for Kapitän Fuchs, a poor showing from von der Burg, and the unfortunate capture of Shultz to cap it all off. 

Brett may have done a little victory dance after all that.

Next time Hapsburgs. Next time...


A little while ago, a surprise birthday Kickstarter arrived from Over a the last week, my wee lad and I have been tinkering away and putting it all together.

The kit consists of three mdf sheets of laser cut pieces and a few bags of different sized brass pins,  brass rims for the wheels, some string, some tiny rubberbands of the sort you'd see on bracers, and a wee tiny firing pin. The pieces all fit together beautifully and are held together with the pins - no gluing or hammering in nails. The only glue is used (optionally) to secure the knots in the string. Oh, and a squirt of WD40 (other lubricants are available) to grease up the gear mechanisms.

It really was a great little kit, and both of us enjoyed putting it together. Pushing in the pins required a bit more thumb strength than could be mustered by a seven year old, but he was an awesome help with everything else.

As you can see, it is pretty much the right scale to work with 28mm figures (snow troll and dwarf shown for scale). OK, it might be a tad large, but I'm sure it'll see use as an occasional terrain piece or focus of a scenario.

And to finish off - here is the first test firing... 🙈 Did I mention it is a proper wee torsion piece which uses twisted string to provide the power.