Sunday 30 August 2020

10mm Wyld elf blade dancer


The only painting I've been able to finish this week is a rogue for my 10mm Wyld elf force. The figure is another 3D printed blade dancer from Excellent Miniature's 'elves of the wood' range. The sculpt is so dynamic that I wanted to use her as a character, so I glued her to a spare tree to use as a rogue. I can't explain it, and I don't know where the thought has come from, but everytime I see her I hear a wee voice calling out "Ca-caw ca-caw! You thought I was a tree!" followed by maniacal laughter. It's been a tough week...

Saturday 29 August 2020

l'Art de la Guerre - Parthians vs the Kushan

Having suffered rebuttle in the west at the hands of the Seleukids, the Parthian Empire turned its eyes eastwards to Alexander's legacy in Arachosia and northern India. The only thing standing in the way of eastern plunder were the Indo-Skythian Kushan. The stage was set for the next outing of Andrew's Parthians...

The Parthians deployed the same army as last time with a large command of medium and light horse archers commanded by a strategist, a command of seven cataphracts, and a micro-command consisting of two units of light horse archers. Opposite them, my Kushan were feeling very symetrical. The centre consisted of two elephants flanking two mediocre pike units screened by light infantry archers; the commander was embedded in the right flank elephant unit. On either flank were four catepharacts and four light cavalry - Maues the Indo-Skythian king commanded the right where two of the catephract units were elite.

While I was expecting the small command to be on a flank march, it actually sprang out of ambush in the field to the right (come to think of it, can light horse be place in ambush in fields?) in turn one, came off second best in an exchange of horse-archery, and then sped off down the flank enroute for the Kushan camp. 

Across the rest of the battlefield, limited command pips meant that progress was slow. The Parthian centre gradually crossed the central field and the Kushan centre tried to advance to defeat them in detail. The Kushan commander of the left dispatched two units of javalin armed light cavalry to slow down the encircling Parthian light horse archers.

Over on the right, one unit of Kushan cataphracts pulled away from the main line to charge at the Parthian flankers. One unit chose to evade off the table rather than be caught in the flank.

On the left, a line of the Parthain light horse archers engaged the Kushan mounted javelineers who were then supported by Kushan horse archers.

In the centre the pike/elephant formation split in two, the righthand side heading towards the line of Parthian cataphracts, the left units angle into the line of medium horse archers who - contrary to my expectations, recieved the charge rather than evading.

The light cavalry clash on the left saw one Parthian unit destroyed, but the compat go against the Kushan across the rest of the melee. The Kushan cataphracts on the left charged forward - half in support of the pike and elephants, and half headed straight into a longer line of medium horse archers.

On the far right, the remaining unit of Parthian flankers tenaciously held on against their Kushan cataphract opponents.

In the centre, the opposed lines crashed in a clash of cataphracts. I referred to this as the cat fight... the joke went down like a lead balloon.

Everywhere on the left saw the Parthians successful - Kushan units were scattering, whether light horse of heavy cataphracts. 

In the centre and on the right however, the situation was reversed. Almost across the board the Parthians were taking heavy losses.

Simultaniously, the Kushan left wing and the Parthian centre collapsed.

The final reconning saw a pretty comprehensive victory for the Kushan - 15/24 breakpoints for the Kushan against 22/21 for the Parthians. It was a good, well-fought battle which we followed up with a bit of a discussion about the best ways to use these sorts of mounted armies which are fairly new to both of us.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

10mm Wyld Elf rangers

Progressing slowly with my small Wyld Elf army, I've now finished up a two-company unit of rangers and a captain - all 3D printed models from Excellent Miniatures' Elves of the Wood archer regiment.


Monday 24 August 2020

Seleukids vs Parthians - 6mm l'Art de la Guerre

Returning to L’Art de la Guerre after a hiatus of a couple of months, it was a with great enthusiasm that I took the role of a youthful Antiochos III defending the Seleukid Empire from Andrew’s Parthian incursion (c.210 BC). The armies mustered on opposite sides of an open plain overlooked by a village on a tell (situated on the Seleukid left).

The Seleukid army deployed between a number of fields and a plantation, with a wide gully to their front. The left flank command consisted of all three of the pike-armed units, two units of Asiatic archers, two units of Bedouin camelry and two skirmishing units of slingers hidden in the village. The central command consisted of two units of elephants flanked by two units of armoured thorakitai, and screened by two units of elite Cretan archers. Both the left and central commanders were rather ordinary. On the right, Antiochos – a strategist – commanded four units of lancers (two elite), two units of Skythian horse archers, and another unit of Asiatic light horse.

The Parthian army only deployed to commands. The brilliant Parthian commander took control of four units of light horse archers, and eight units of medium horse archers – throwing the lights forward on the flank to screen the village. The other Parthian commander held back seven units of mail-clad cataphracts, four of them elite.

In the opening move, the Parthian commander swarmed forward towards the village on the tell, uncovering the Seleukid slingers in ambush. The Seleukids advanced across the board. On the left, the Bedouin camelry were sent to pass around the far side of the village, while the phalanx advanced to fill the gap between the tell and the gully. The Asiatic archers moved easily through the gully to form up on its edge, ready to fire on the out-ranged Parthian horse archers. The central and right commands advanced steadily towards the Parthian cataphracts who also advanced cautiously. Antiochos made use of a surplus of command points to send his Skythian horse archers wide of the Parthian line, angling to threaten their flanks and/or the Parthian camp.

While the Parthian commander pulled back his horse archers out of foot-bow range, the noble in command of the cataphracts dispatched one unit to see off the Skythian horse archers. Seeing an easy win, Antiochos sent his two units of line cavalry supported by the Asiatic horse to surround and destroy the isolated Parthian unit.

The Parthians then sent their entire cataphract line forward to engage with the now outnumbered isolated Seleukid line cavalry. The Parthian light horse archers went to screen the Bedouin trying to pass around the flank of the village, while their medium horse came forward at an angle, attempting to inhibit the formation of thorakitai and elephants in the Seleukid centre, while not getting shot by the Seleukid archers in the gully.

Antiochos rode to the defence of his stranded cavalry, sending in his elite agema and companion horse, and ordering the Skythians to ride along behind the line of cataphracts. An unfortunate gap still existed in the Seleukid line between the ordinary and the elite heavy cavalry, but it was better than piecemeal destruction.

The Seleukid elephants also angled towards the cataphracts, while the slingers in the village rained a very light but telling fire down on the horse archers below. Off to the Seleukid left, a dust cloud announced the imminent arrival of Parthian reinforcements and the Seleukid commander drew back his camelry to await the incoming flank march.

The Parthian flanking force, when it did arrive, proved something of an underwhelming force; only two units of light horse archers. Never-the-less, they were able to disrupt the Seleukid plans on the flank, and were swift enough to skirt the Seleukid forces heading directly for the Seleukid camp filled with delectable camp followers and rather a lot of gold.

The Bedouin, free from having to worry about a large flanking force, and too far away to save their camp, charged back into the Parthian light horse who had now come around the village. In what should have been a one-sided combat, the Bedouin defied the odds and got the worst of it. The Seleukid pike charged at the massed horse archers before them and broke up the Parthian line as the nearest units evaded. Over on the right, the cataphracts managed to break one unit of Seleukid heavy cavalry before getting charged in the front by the elephants, and in the rear by the Skythian horse archers. The Asiatic light cavalry moved off towards the Parthian camp, full of equally delectable camp followers and unsurprisingly large quantities of gold.

While part of the Parthian wall of horse archers pulled away from the charging pikemen, the other end stayed put, pinned in place by the Seleukid Thorakitai. In what, again, should have been fairly one sided, the Seleukid armoured spearmen came off second best against the horse archers. In melee…

In the massed cavalry melee on the Seleukid right, the last of the Seleukid line cavalry broke, just as the elephants started to collapse the opposite end of the cataphract line. At the crucial juncture where the Parthians needed to start turning the Seleukid flanks, the ordinary Parthian commander only managed a single command point which was used to try to rally the unit he was attached to.

Behind the village on the tell, the once-cocky Bedouin regained some composure after their loses and saw of the light horse to their front with the assistance of some slingers from the garrison.

Despite what had felt like a myriad of Seleukid set backs up to this point the Parthians were suffering just as badly. Hoping to secure the necessary cohesion loses to break the Seleukids through archery, the remaining Parthians on the Seleukid left pulled back, only to be charged by the irate camelry.

In the centre, the Seleukid thorakitai were slowly making headway and managed to turn the end of the Parthian line of medium horse archers. Among the cataphracts, the arrival of the elephants on their flank and the inability of the Parthian line to react – partly caused by the death of their commander in battle – foreshadowed defeat for the invaders.

This was the first battle where I have faced an entirely mounted army, and Andrew’s first time commanding one. Given the experimental nature of our respective approaches, I’d say he did very well, and I was forced – on the whole – to react to his moves. Throughout, I was hampered by some poor combat rolls and Andrew suffered mediocre command rolls. Shooting was pretty dire for both of us.

The final break-points were 19/22 for the Seleukids, and a mighty 25/21 for the Parthians (the final round of combat was bloody and one-sided). A respectable victory for Antiochos. He might have to strike a commemorative coin or adopt a new title of something after this…

Saturday 22 August 2020

The Trollbrige War - trialling campaign rules for Fantastic Battles

As part of the playtesting process, five foolish players set out to play several years of a campaign, combining battles with diplomacy, recruitment and logistical challenges. The following post chronicles the opening year in the Trollbridge War.

The sprawling city of Trollbridge controls the only crossing of the River Essence between where it rises in the Watershed Downs north of Duncreggae, and where it empties into the broad marshlands south of Barrowfield. A vital node in the trade route inland from the bay of Byzernium, Trollbridge maintains a precarious neutrality between it’s the human neighbours in Balquhidder and Byzernium. To the west, beyond the ancient Wyldwood, lies the small halfling principality of Hearthshire, while stories of fur-covered shadows in the night and the distant chink of thousands of bony feet on the march heralds an emerging terror in the east.

Year 1 – Starting positions, diplomacy and army musters

Balquhidder: The human Kingdom of Balquhidder starts in control of Balquidder City and the mountain stronghold of Gryphonbeak. It allies with Byzernium and Hearthshire, and musters a 500 point army.

Byzernium: The human city-state of Byzernium starts in control of Byzernium and the outlying fort at Dunreiseri. It allies with Balquhidder and Hearthshire, and musters a 500 point army.

Hearthshire: The halfling principality of Hearthshire starts in league with the denizens of the Wyldwood. It allies with Balquhhider and Byzernium and musters a 500 point militia.

Kopek: The necromancer-lord of Kopek starts in control of Kopek and exercises control over Pandinus. He allies with Verminblight and summons a 500 point horde of undead minions.

Verminblight: The ratkin empire of Verminblight starts in control of Verminblight and the Undernest. It allies with Kopek and breeds a 500 point swarm of ratkin.

Year 1 – Spring

Balquhidder: The army of Balquhidder marches on Eastmarch and quickly brings it in within the borders of the kingdom.

Byzernium: The army of Byzernium arrives at Dunlofskoraki and the fort opens its gates to admit a Byzernian garrison.

Hearthshire: Hearthshire’s militia approach Northmoor and open negotiations with the folk there. No decisions are reached, but the tea is good.

Kopek: The undead horde attack Barrowfields but the brave defenders hold out, hoping for assistance.

Verminblight: The ratkin swarm towards the ruined remains of the Fallen Dun and encounter pockets of resistance holding out among the destruction.

Year 1 – Summer

Balquhidder: The army of Balquhidder continues on its circuit to Vale which eagerly joins in the human confederacy.

Byzernium: The army of Byzernium Approaches Duncreggae and secures it as another strongpoint for the southern humans.

Hearthshire: Hearthshire’s militia move into aggressive negotiations at Northmoor with a smoked cheese dish served with chilled cider. No decisions are reached.

Kopek: Barrowfields falls to the undead horde and its defenders are ‘enrolled’ in the undead legions of the mighty Sekra the Great.

Verminblight: A ratkin colony is established at the Fallen Dun as the last resistance is extinguished.

Year 1 – Autumn

Balquhidder: The army of Balquhidder passes from Vale to Trollbridge. After intense negotiations and the promise of some serious tax exemptions, the city joins with Balquhidder as bulwark of the North.

Byzernium: The army of Byzernium returns to Dunlofoskoraki to inhibit further ratkin expansion in the area.

Hearthshire: Hearthshire convinces Northmoor of the benefits of coalition and great celebrations are organised including three consecutive evenings of 36 course degustation menus.

Kopek: The undead minions march on the Skeleton Wastes and find many more willing recruits as marshland falls to Kopek.

Verminblight: The swarm return east to the Vermin Wastes, establishing another colony and creating a link with their allies in Kopek.

So, no battles in Year 1 of the campaign, but all but one of the regions are now under the control of one of the five powers. Watershed Downs retains its independence for now, but any state looking to seriously expand will need to invade lands controlled by another player.

The stage is set for a clash of empires in Year 2.


 Year 2 – Diplomacy and army musters

Balquhidder: Balquhidder renews its alliance with Byzernium and Hearthshire, and musters an 800 point army.

Byzernium: Byzernium renews its alliance with Balquhidder and Hearthshire, and musters a 700 point army.

Hearthshire: renews its alliance with Balquhhider and Byzernium and musters a 600 point militia.

Kopek: Kopek continues its alliance with Verminblight and summons a 700 point horde of undead minions.

Verminblight: Verminblight continues its alliance with Kopek and breeds a 700 point swarm of ratkin.


Year 2 – Spring

Balquhidder: Revolution! The people of Balquhidder’s rise up and topple the governing elite. The provinces re-establish their autonomy as Balquhidder’s empire collapses.

Byzernium: The army of Byzernium returns from Byzernium to Dunlofoskoraki and then advances as far as the Fallen Dun in an attempt to return the region to its historic Byzernian control.

Hearthshire: The Hearthshire militia marches on Watershed Down and, after a rabbit stew established Hearthshire’s suzerainty over the region.

Kopek: The minions of Kopek shamble to war, passing through Pandinus to invade Eastmarch. The regions recently gained autonomy is shortlived as the undead establish control.

Verminblight: The ratkin army surges from Verminblight west to struggle with the Byzernians at the Fallen Dun.


Battle of the Fallen Dun – Spring, Year 2:

The men of Byzernium rode out from Dunlofoskoraki and gave battle to the ratkin of Verminblight below the ruined walls of the Fallen Dun. Although Verminblight was that day the victor and the army of men withdrew, the great slaughter of ratkin left the swarm weakened.


Year 2 – Summer

Byzernium: Having been forced back to Dunlofoskoraki, the army of Byzernium returns to the Fallen Dun to meet the ratkin a second time.

Hearthshire: The halfling militia approaches Gryphonbeak which opens its gates, welcoming a steady suzerain following the collapse of Balquhidder. The eagle egg omelettes served at the celebration add a touch of class.

Kopek: The undead horde continues its advance and marches on Vale. Deprived of centralised government, the city quickly succumbs.

Verminblight: The ratkin swarm remain at the Fallen Dun to repel the human invaders.


And there the chronicle falls silent. The pestilence sweeping the land in 2020 forced the remaining warlords to retreat to the isolation of their strongholds to await more healthy times to come.

Tuesday 18 August 2020

10mm Wyld Elf ... allies ... friends... pets?


More 10mm printed miniatures from Excellent Miniatures to join my small force of Wyld Elves. This time, a couple of non-elves.

This figure is a forest wraith hero, but I'll be using her as a huldra (forest-wife) magic-user with an entangle and a bless spell. I wasn't sure which way to go with the 'skin' parts of her; flesh coloured, woody, or green all seemed valid, but in the end I opted for olive. I'm pleased with the result, but can't help feeling that this is what the daughter of Gamora and Groot might look like...

And what self-respecting wood elf army would be complete without a little air support in the form of a giant eagle?

Monday 17 August 2020

10mm Wyld Elf Stag-riders

It has taken me longer than I'd hoped, but I've now finished up the first of my new elf characters and units from Excellent Miniatures. This will be the warlord of my small Wyld Elf army, Hjartardottir, and her bodyguard of elite stag-riders.

The detail on these 3D printed figures continutes to amaze me, although it is quite disconcerting how light they are when you pick up a base...

Sunday 9 August 2020

Fantastic Battles - Ziggurat Dwarves vs the Ratkin of Vermantide

This week’s Fantastic Battles pairing saw Andrew’s ratkin of the Vermintide deploy opposite my Ziggurat Dwarves. The Mishaps roll following deployment was surprisingly inobtrusive as you can see in the photo. Only the two-company unit of ratkin assassins on the extreme right of the ratkin line (top left of photo) were delayed and forced to deploy further back. In the dwarvern ranks, all appeared equally calm – at least on the surface. The large battery of ballistae on the crest of the hill were badly hit by disease, and dissent in the ranks caused an entire company of the redshield shieldwall on the dwarvern right to desert the night before the battle.

The opening phases of the battle saw plentiful artillery fire – there were two companies of ratkin jezails and four batteries of dwarvern ballistae so missiles were firing thick and fast. The jezails concentrated their fire on an isolated ballistae battery on the right of the dwarvern line, while the ballistae spread their shots between one of the heavingly large four-company units of ratkin rabble in the centre and the avatar of the great horned rat-god who let the army.

The ratkin Verminguard and a unit of assassins pushed forward on the ratkin left flank leaving the great rat wheel and the horned rat in reserve. To a large extent, the damage caused by the dwarvern ballistae fire was mitigated by inspired rallying attempts from the ratkin leadership.

The dwarvern line was much shorter (no pun intended, but happily acknowledged) than their foes, so the dwarf warlord tried to reserve the right flank, threaten with the left flank, and lose all restraint with an all-out charge in the centre, send forward the elite axe-wielding Ziggurat Guard. 

On the left, the dwarvern blueshields found themselves in the worst possible situation – trudging slowly through a ploughed field facing a smaller unit of skirmishers. The ratkin gas globardiers opposite them proved incapable of causing any damage, but the very expensive and highly trained dwarves were badly mired. What the globadiers were able to do was scatter the unit of dwarvern flying carpet-riders, eliminating the only supports available to the blueshields. In the centre, while the ratkin rabble stood idle, the ratkin flame-belchers turned to pour rather devastating flame into the flanks of the Ziggurat Guard. It was about this time that the jezails managed to break the ballistae battery they’d been concentrating on and started to pepper away at other targets.

On the far side of the Ziggurat Guard, the ratkin wheel made moves to threaten the unit’s other flank and the Verminguard and assassins continued to advance towards the reserved units on the dwarvern right. In a stroke of madness, the captain leading the assassins decided to abandon his post and ran to take a ride in/on the great wheel. This left the assassins on the ratkin left flank out of command and was to prove rather disastrous.

First impact occurred in the centre of the line where the wheel (with captain attached) crunched into the flank of the Ziggurat Guard axemen before they could make contact with the rabble. The wheel was, in turn, charged in the flank by the dwarvern warlord on his Lamassu. At the same time, the Verminguard charged the (very lonely) djinn. 

Over on the left, the dwarvern blueshields – still struggling with the difficult terrain – made expedient use of a haste spell to change formation and charge straight into the flanks of the unwary ratkin assassins who had been steadily advancing past them up the flank.

Back in the centre, the rat-god charged into the flank of the dwarvern Lamassu, only to be blinked right back out of combat again by the djinn. One unit of ratkin rabble then charged forward, hoping to further pin the Ziggurat Guard.

On the dwarvern left, the blueshields reformed to bring their full weight to bear on the ratkin assassins, while just on the right of the photo the dwarvern redshields finally made their move. The ratkin assassins who had been threatening the extreme end of that flank rolled poorly on their impetuous action chart (the danger of leaving them out of command) and started to fall back. This gave the redshields the breathing space they needed to muck in against the flanks of the Verminguard.

By this stage, the dwarvern axemen of the Ziggurat Guard had managed to scatter both the ratkin rabble to their front (causing a pretty devastating ripple of Resolve loss through the nearby rat units) and the big wheel. They were badly bloodied themselves, but they are a super hard nut to crack and still had a lot of fight left.

On the dwarvern left, the blueshields scattered the assassins and were feeling pretty good – except that they were now on the far end of the line, still in rough terrain, facing the wrong direction, and many (so many!) turns of movement away from another potential combat.

Back in the centre, the second large unit of ratkin rabble now hurled themselves down the hill to attack the weakened Ziggurat Guard. The rat-god also sprung into action, battering into the exposed right flank of the unit while the ratkin magic-user riding the Bell of Vermintide crashed into the left flank.

The dwarvern warlord on his Lamassu had already ridden to the assistance of the djinn and the dwarves holding up the Verminguard elites. Thankfully, the ratkin assassins on this flank were still struggling with command issues. While they were no longer running away from the table, neither were they in a position to attack the rear of the redshields.

The battle was teetering on the edge as the elite dwarves of the Zigguratguard finally succumbed to their enemies. As they fell, the rabble ratkin facing them also broke and scattered. The dwarves were three companies away from their breakpoint, and the ratkin were only one company away from their own. The dwarves had several units with low resolve which the rat-god sought to capitalise on by charging into the rear of the dwarvern Lamassu. If he could kill the dwarvern warlord it might spread enough panic to break the Zigurrat formations. 

The remaining dwarvern ballisatae fired into and destroyed the ratkin flame-belchers meaning the rats would break at the end of the turn regardless. Everything came down to the final combat around the beleaguered Verminguard to see whether the ratkin would pull a draw/mutual destruction from the jaws of defeat. But it was not to be. The dice gods were angry and the melee results were mediocre at best. Despite the best effforts of both the rot-god and the rogue leading the Verminguard, the dwarvern warlord remained alive and the Vermintide hordes melted away to the gathering darkness.