Saturday 29 September 2018

Trebia 218BC

While Tim leads us through the wilds of  Ancient history one battle at a time, I am focussing on the Punic wars scenarios in the original CnC Ancients scenario book. Anyone who has double sized DBA armies organised for the Punic Wars will have enough toys to do these.

So, naughty Hannibal having crossed the Alps continued to stomp around northern Italy in the Po valley picking up Gallic allies. Consul Sempronius, keen to win a victory before his term was up, marched to intercept them and link up with the forces of Publius Scipio. Scipio had been wounded in a cavalry action the day before and urged Sempronious not to attack, but Hannibal demonstrated near the Roman camp at dawn one chilly December day and impetuous Sempronius marched the Roman army across the freezing River Trebbia to do battle. Unknown to Sempronius, Hannibal had laid a trap....

The Carthaginians. Hannibal had around 40,000 men in this battle, a mix of Carthaginians, Numidians, Spanish,  Gauls plus the elephants which had survived the mountain crossing. There are a couple of warbands and some gallic cavalry offtable with Mago, up to no good. They will arrive under specific circumstances. The Carthos have no less than three leaders, including Hannibal himself, along with Hanno and Mago.

The Romans also had around 40,000 men (Livy and Polybius disagree), the core being four Legions plus four allied alae supplemented by a number of auxiliaries. Unusually, the CnC army has two Roman warbands(!) presumably ot represent local gallic allies. Sempronius is leading from the front in the middle of the Hastati and Princeps (the chaps with red shields).

As ever, we played on my Hexon terrain using my collection of 20mm Ancient figures. Mainly HaT but supplemented with Italieri, Airfix and a few Newline metal figures. I was torn between green or arid hexes, northern Italy in winter is pretty wet and unpleasant, but in the end I went with the arid hexes as they just looked better.

The Carthos opened with Hanno leading the Numidian light cavalry forward to harass the  Roman left with javelins.

The Romans responded with their auxiliary cavalry supported by  a warband which pushed the Numidians back.

The Cathos in turn set their heavy troops rolling forwards, which included Hannibal himself with a unit of Carthaginian citizen infantry as well as the elephants.

The elephants crashed into the Romans gallic allies.

But had the worst of the encounter and only inflicted a couple of hits before legging it. Elephants are  a bit like scythed chariots, one shot weapons which have a very variable impact.

The Cathaginian centre and right now rolled forwards as the last of the Numidans were routed by the Roman cavalry and Sempronius advanced the Roman centre. Things weren't looking too god for Hannibal.

The last elephant charged the Roman warband supported by Spanish and Gallic troops.

But only succeeded in pushing the alae back, while the Spanish infantry were trampled in an elephant rampage and routed away. Not too good at all.

But what is this?! Mago has sprung has ambush and two warband and a cavalry unit appear in the Roman rear. Historically they hid in a gorge as Sempronius marched past. The warband engage the Roman Triarii while the cavalry get stuck into the Velites.

Fortunately for Sempronius, the Triarii survive but are driven back into the freezing river. Magos Gauls seem to have forgotten their clothes, balls of steel (or ice) for sure.

The Princeps and Hastati turn around to retrieve the situation, engaging the Gauls in a very pretty zig zag formation. The Gauls retreat route back to their own lines is firmly cut off.

The Gauls are eventually defeated but at considerable cost and the Roman line is left in disarray. Mago and the surviving Gallic cavalry make good their escape to their own lines, riding down some Velites on the way. 

The Carthos push up their cavalry on the left to take advantage of the Roman confusion.

And a bloody battle over on the Roman left finally gives Hannibal the victory.

Another close fought battle, and as in real life, the losses mainly fell on the poor old Roman allies rather than the legions themselves while the Carthaginian centre and right suffered heavy losses. At least a few elephants survived, although irl they were not to survive the winter.

Compared to the Persian and Greek battles we are doing with Tim, the armies of the 2nd Punic War are very complex with a wide range of troop types. That was a close run thing for Hannibal, good job Mago turned up when he did.

Saturday 22 September 2018

Arnhem and Manouvre

John brought a couple of games down to try out last night, firstly the preview of our participation game for next years show circuit. It covers the XXX Corps drive to Arnhem during market Garden.

The  game consists of a stylised representation of the airborne corridor, divided up into sectors.  Here John explains the highly complex and detailed rules to Alan.

At the far end of the corridor is the prize, Arnhem road bridge. Represented in this case by a very fine Leven miniatures 6mm arched girder bridge.

At the other end, 64 miles away in Belgium, is XXX Corps, represented by this very fine 15mm Sherman tank. Just in case it isn't  obvious, John is helpfully pointing it out.

XXX Corps mid operation. Horrocks has to decide each turn whether to attack, reorganise or bring up supplies and reinforcements. Attacks are won by beating  the German card with a higher XXX Corps card. Faced with this nasty King of Spades it is probably time to bring up some reinforcements (clearly 107th Panzer Brigade got to Udem before Guards Armoured Div).

We played  this three times with Alan, Kevin and myself all taking it in turns. I managed to get XXX Corps right up to Arnhem Bridge but discovered 1st Airborne had had enough and had withdrawn. We woz robbed! Great fun, and the finished version will be coming to show near you in the New Year. 

The second game was an eBay curio titled 'Manouvre'. It apparently dated from WW2 as it referred to 'servicemen and women' and also referred to the inevitable periods of monotony of wartime service.

The rules were somewhat brief!

It involved a stylised board using point to point movement, moving one piece at a time with the aim of capturing the enemy base. Enemy pieces could only be destroyed by outnumbering them in specific spots. Like all such similar games (Chess, Go etc) it was actually fiendishly hard as it required a good degree of forward planning and looking at the big picture. Here we see my heroic blue chaps taking the fight to Roberts wicked red pieces.

And despite the apparent impossibility of breaking through, my blue 'Napoleon' piece legs it into the red base, securing a hard fought victory.

Alan and John play in parallel. In the end we played four games of this and all agreed it was a very clever little game. It is hard to see it seeing much use in the front line trenches though.

So, with the three Arnhem games and four games of manouvre, we managed to get through seven games in the evening. Good stuff.

Saturday 15 September 2018

Tanagra 457BC

Tim arranged the next in his series of chronological Ancient battles, this one being Tanagra in 457BC, so almost modern! We were off the Peleponnesian Wars, so no more Herodotus for us and instead it was Thucydides. Tim has also reported on this on his blog.

The Spartans under Nicomedes had been off duffing up Boatia for entirely reasonable and legitimate reasons when the wicked Athenians parked a fleet in the Gulf of Corinth to block their retreat and landed an army under Myronides. The Spartans had to fight their way out.

Here is the view from the Spartan side. Lots and lots of Hoplites, supplemented by light troops and auxiliaries. the Athenians also had some rather flaky Thracian cavalry, but who needs cavalry when you've got four units of Spartan Hoplites.

The Athenian command team, Robert, Tim C and John A, taking the Athenian right, centre and left respectively.

The brave Spartans. I had the left, Alan the centre and Jerry the right.

We had quite a few light troops command cards so pushed our light troops and auxilia up to throw javelins.

Over on the left we even managed ot drive the Thracians back a bit. Things were going very well.

Oh dear! Myronides got tired of the skirmishing and doubled timed his entire left flank forward, giving our Auxilia a very bloody nose.

Things went from bad to worse as the Athenians deployed card after card and although we had some isolated successes, in fairly short order our entire right wing was destroyed. Oops! The Athenians were three banners up at this point.

Well, what to do. After some debate we decided to press on rather than muck about trying to wheel, after all how many left section cards could they have? We had a line command, so the entire surviving Spartan line rolled forwards, contacting an unfortunate Athenian light infanty unit.

As we predicted, Myronides was left behind by our advance.

We engaged the Athenian centre and left clashed bloodily.

The superior quality of the Spartans and the extra General soon swung the battle our way, but we lost another unit in the process. We were now one banner away from defeat, as were the Athenians.

The Athenian right counterattacked against the light troops on our left.

Our light troops however deftly evaded away with moderate losses, while the rest of the line swung around to face the Athenian right.

And rolled forward with a lucky Line Command.

Despite a hard fought engagement (look at all those white crosses!), another Athenian unit bit the dust giving the Spartans six banners and victory.

Over on the Athenian left, Myronides could only look an helplessly as the rest of his army ran away.

Well, that was a real nail biter. The critical point was the Spartan decision to attack after their right flank collapsed, many thanks to Jerry for arguing the case so cogently. Once a again, a great CnC Ancients  game which went down to the wire.

Saturday 8 September 2018

A Bridge Too Far

Just as time on reconnaisance is rarely wasted, I have found spending time and/or money on terrain is rarely wasted either. One thing that wargames always need are bridges as they are frequently both choke points and the focal points of games.

These are a few Timecast resin bridges I bought some years ago when Triples was still running. They are very nice castings with well defined stonework and some roughness to the road surface, both of which take a drybrush well.

The first few I bought were these large ones, the roadway is wide enough to accommodate 30mm wide bases.  For many of the smaller games we play, these turned out to be a bit big for the rest of the terrain pieces.

I then got a batch  of these smaller ones, the lengths are still plenty long enough to go over my various river sections comfortably,  but they are considerably narrower and juts look better with a lot of my buildings and trees. The water parts are painted blue because everyone knows water is blue.

Stone bridges are all very well, but sometimes you needs something more modern. I still have my old Airfix Bailey Bridge, and a couple of scratch built girder bridges, but I was very taken with these Leven Miniatures 6mm bridges at Joy of Six recently. They have quite a range of various historic bridges, including Nimy bridge.

I got one of these curved girder bridges. They are a bit cruder then the Timecast ones, but paint up fine. I basecoated this one black then finished in a mid grey with a light drybrush. The black cut-ins aren't too obtrusive on the finished thing.

This one is a section of 6mm Bailey Bridge. On reflection I should have bought two. I finished this one in mid green with a bit of a drybrush.

Here they are with a couple of bases of figures, you can see how the 30mm base fits in the bigger bridge model,  but for the sort of grand tactical and operational games I tend to end up playing, the smaller bridges just work better I feel, particularly on Hexon terrain.

Saturday 1 September 2018

I have been to... The National Army Museum

On the recent Bank Holiday, my wife went down to London to catch up with some friends and I tagged along and managed to fit in a trip to the National Army Museum in Chelsea. I've not been there before, so was looking forward to seeing something new.

It was a pleasant walk down through Chelsea, I went to South Kensington tube rather than Sloane Square as the Circle Line was packed with carnival goers heading for Notting Hill. The Kings Road has changed a lot since 1978 though!

This was an interesting display which featured painted blocks of toy soldiers to practice drill manouvres with. Eighteenth century I believe.

Hats and more hats. The bottom display covered various items to do with Germany. It looks my my Bicorne might need a bit of toning down as the real examples are a bit smaller than my dressing up one.

Scottish and Mahdist clothing. Both angry tribespeople with lots of pointy sharp objects who for some unaccountable reason objected to the English turning up.

There wasn't masses of kit in the museum, but they had both a nice WW1 4.7" howitzer and a WW2 pack howitzer as well as a very well preserved Dingo.

William III.

A nice Falklands era Parachute Regiment display, with a folding stock FAL contrasted with an SLR.

Sadly, I've completely forgotten whose jacket this was!

Bengal Lancer. What a great outfit.

Kings African Rifles.


Relative sizes of the British Army at various times. I think you can guess where the most modern one is. I was surprised how small the Cold war army was though, even smaller than the Napoleonic Wars.

Indian Army display, nice Enfield rifle, along with an SMLE and No. 4.

The Siege of Namur.

Napoleonic Drummer.

Napoleonic Officer, with kilt.

Chosen Man. Sadly too much reflection, although the Baker Rifle came out OK. A surprisingly large weapon, much bigger than the stubby carbine many figures are cast with.


A close up of the British cavalry around Blenheim village. It looks like using 6mm buildings with 15mm cavalry is fine after all, not those towering monstrosities of buildings that many companies seem to sell these days.

Sir John Moores telescope.

The Battle of Corunna.

Standard and Eagle captured at Waterloo. Another one for Sharpe.

Pictons hat (not the one he got shot in).

Wellingtons cloak and bicorne.

Old Nosey himself and a pair of his gloves

The Corsican Ogre and poor old Marengo, forever galloping.

Sibornes diorama of Waterloo. Unfortunately this was very dimly lit to preserve it, but the touchscreens around the display were great and I spent quite a while here. Yes, the Prussians were mentioned, whatever Peter Hofshroer may have said.

Crimean uniform with Enfield rifle.

Early khaki uniform (an interesting tan with a hint of grey).

Zulus Sir, thousands of them. Classic redcoat with Martini Henry. The leather valise equipment is white, not buff (well, possibly a light cream).

Khaki drill uniformwith a long Lee Enfield (a rechambered Lee Metford). This is a very different shade of KD to WW2 era KD, and really quite dark.

Lord Raglans telescope.

And Nolans cloak.

Isandlwhana plus Zulu shield.

Hauling guns and supplies in the Crimea.

There was a rather annoying weapons display with piles of stuff in a single cabinet. Centrepiece was a nice 18pdr, but otherwise it was just a ton of small arms hanging from wires, nothing like the old display at the IWM.

Bergmann MP18, stick grenade, and stosstruppen stahlelm.

A beautiful FG42, one of the best I've seen. Hanging from the ceiling five feet above my head.

A rather  more accessible Gw43 in excellent condition. MG08/15 'light' machinegun behind.

There was a motorcycle tucked in among all the other stuff.

A curious thing happened here. I took these two photos to show that original WW1 and WW2 uniforms were very similar in colour (in the display they were both distinctly brown) but the photo of the officers uniform came out distinctly green. Difference in lighting? Colour blindness? Who can say, although I have noticed that khaki in particular responds to local light and can look green or brown depending on the surroundings. Which makes it a great camo colour of course.

One of the standards carried by tanks at Cambrai.

Various light AT weapons (Boys and Mauser AT rifles, PIAT and a Teller mine).

This was good fun. An interactive wargame!

Funnily enough, I was pretty good at the battlegroup game. My armour handily won the tank battle and now the infantry go in to mop up after a good artillery and air stonk.

Sadly the counter insurgency bit didn't go quite so well. Those airstrikes in the BUA seemed like a good idea, but I hadn't realised the RAF couldn't hit the side of a barn. Oh well, we got there in the end and finally peace and order was restored in the Galaxy.

There were lots of fantastic posters around the museum like the recruiting posters above, and a load of great film posters like those below.

As well as these newspaper billboards.

Finally, I took a walk down to Chelsea Embankment.

I was a bit surprised to see that Battersea power station had disappeared behind a sea of cranes and new build flats. Oh well, that is progress I suppose.