I have evenually got around to creating a blog!

The main topic will be Wargaming.
That includes all kinds of conflict based games such as miniatures based and boardgames. Historical, fantasy and
science fiction may all make an appearance.
Sometimes the "real world" may interfere with this blog and cause non-gaming related posts. Apologies in advance.

DISCLAIMER:- This blog is a work of fiction. The people, places and products depicted are imaginary and bear no resemblance to real people, places or products either living or dead.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Charonea 338BC Lost Battles

         Phillip II of Macedon (With his son Alexander) must consolidate the greek nation before he turns East and invades the Persian Empire. Athens and Thebes have raised a force against him.
The Macedonians army numbered 30,000 Infantry and 2,000 Cavalry (approx)
Opposing Greek forces may have been 35,000.
For this refight, I commanded the Macedonians. My eighteen year old, Glynn, stepped up as Greek leader.

 A note RE figure unit strength.
  "Lost Battles" is a flexible rule system with regards to miniatures use. Most units on both sides in this battle are "Average" quality. Hoptlite and Phalanx units should have had the same number of figures/bases per unit. While setting the game up, I realised that I was only able to provide 2 bases per hoptlite unit. Rather than cut the phalanx units (4 bases) to half size, I simply played with the figures available.
This made little or no difference in play but, for the photographs, hoptlite forces should be twice their size (or phalanx units half the size. Take your pick.
This photo shows the initial positions. From top left, the "River Cephillus" flows past "Mt Akontion" and into a marsh. From the center left the river becomes a stream, the "Haemon", and flows across the battlefield to the right. The waters are "muddied" by recent rains and the activity of the armies ;-)
 Macedon is deployed to the left, greeks on the right.
At the top Alexander and his cavalry watch the greek cavalry across the marsh.
On the left, the phalanx has crossed the stream to face the the hoptlites.
Slightly advanced, King Phillip, his hypaspists and "heavy " infantry (represented here by Thracian figures),  are opposed by light infantry and just behind them, more hoptlites (just out of sight of the camera).
In the foreground, Mt Charonea soon to be the scene of vicious combat between light infantry of both armies.

                                                    "Macedon ready to advance"

             The first "turn" of the game is taken up with deployment so we start with Turn 2.
 The greeks move first and Glynn orders the cavalry to turn and watch the marsh for Alexanders advance.  The greek center and center/right hoptlites advance. Light infantry race up to the high ground at Chaerona. Only the troops opposite Phillip refuse to move.
  The Macedonian response is fairly predictable. Alexander turns his cavalry towards the marsh. The phalanx advances to meet the hoptlites. Phillip detaches light infantry and a unit of heavies to support the attack on Chaeronea. At this stage, I planned to attack with Alexander on the left. Push the greek skirmishers off Chaeronea and use the phalanx to hold the hoptlite line while Phillip and his veterans attack it from the side.
 Glynn had other ideas!
                                         " Greek light infantry prepare to defend Chaeronea"

 Glynn choose to start his turn with an attack by his right/center hoptlites on the phalanx.
With an attack limit of 4 attacks, I was sure the phalangites could weather the storm.
WRONG.... With a flurry of incredible dice rolls (including a double six) the hoptlites smashed six hits into the stunned macedonians. This "Spent" four units and "Shattered" the fifth. Costing the greeks three "All Out" attacks and passing a morale roll was the only good news for King Phillip.
 Oh well, maybe my center phalanx could perform better.

                                                         "This was not in the plan!"

   Next up, Glynn attacked the center zone.... With a flurry of incredible dice rolls (including a double six) the hoptlites smashed six hits into the stunned macedonians. (Wait a minute.... have I not typed this already?   Yes but he did it twice, jammy beggar!)

                                                                 " Aww,  C'mon"

This time it only cost the greeks two "all-out attacks" to shatter one unit and reduce the other four to "spent" status.  Again the morale dice was kind to the phalanx.
   Thankfully the greek cavalry attacks on Alexander were ineffective and having used all his commands for the turn, Glynn passed the dice over.

 Needing to close the gap and administer some damage, I started the turn with Alexander and the cavalry.  With two units of veterans I was sure to overwhelm the greek cavalry and turn their right flank. Three terrible attack rolls and total failure ensued. Zero damage.
                                                 A very "Timid" charge by Alexander.

Struggling to conceal the sudden onset of a facial tic, I turned attention to the badly beaten phalanx.
I thought a retreat might just buy enough time for some positive action elsewhere, also, should the greeks advance into the vacant zones, King Phillip would be on the end of their line.

On the Macedon right came the first glimmer of hope! Two units of light troops destroyed the greek defenders and captured Chaeronea.
                                              "Macedon captures the high ground"

The remainder of macedons commands were used to move single units in an effort to reinforce the phalanx.
 Glynn reset the command and turn tracker then grabbed the dice with a wicked grin.
Then I realised what he was so happy about. Retreating the phalanx had left his rightmost hoptlites in a position to attack Alexander from the side.
The greek cavalry attacked first and scored two hits. The hoptlites turned and smashed into the macedonians. In the slaughter that followed, Glynn rolled another double six! Alexander "Rallied" hit after hit (four rallies in total) and managed to hold on with all units spent.
                                                               " It's a Trap!"

In the center, the Greek units advanced after the phalanx.
A solitary unit of greek skirmishers took position below Chaeronea.

But time for Macedons response. I started with another mistake. It costs two action points for cavalry to move into a tile containing a marsh but normal cost to move out. Forgetting this I thought Alexander had no choice but to fight when retreat may have been wiser. At the very least his attacks this turn scored two hits reducing both greek cavalry units to spent status.
The position in the macedon rear tile looked promising. Four phalanx, two veteran and an average heavy unit backed up with all Phillips exemptions! (Not forgetting Attack limit 4)  I scored a total of one hit. All the hoptlites were "spent" but no morale test needed. (My facial tic was now in spasm). Even the light infantry on Chaeronea had no success this turn. Thinking that "at least it can't get worse" I passed the turn over to Glynn.

With the Macedonian army in tatters, I expected to fail the first morale test. I was not prepared for the manner in which it happened.
The first and final attack came from the five spent hoptlite units facing Phillip and the phalanx.
Two hoptlite attacks "spent" the average and one veteran heavy infantry. Phillip and his veterans had to step up as "Lead" unit. Inevitably, Glynn rolled double six!!!
   I knew what was coming even as I rolled the rally attempt. King Phillip II leapt forward to inspire his men and promptly caught a greek spear in the nads! Every Macedonian on the field turned and ran.

                                                               "Lets get outa here"

As I totalled the victory points, I glanced across the table at Glynn. In his eyes there was no remorse, no pity, only a satisfied sneer.
The points came to Greeks 174 against Macedons 52. A massive 122 point Major victory.

So this game was a disaster for me, but I made mistakes and cannot blame it all on luck. Glynn has "picked up" the game much faster than I have and played to a better plan.
"Lost Battles" has re-ignited my interest in the period and I plan to be playing it for some time. Roll on my "Empire" campaign.

As for Glynn, if he keeps rolling dice like that, I'll have to start checking ebay for a set of "Seven Daggers of Megiddo"!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Lost Battles

As previously mentioned, I have recieved a copy of "Lost Battles" the boardgame. (Can easily be played with miniatures, see later in next post).
I will leave a rules review for another time and concentrate on the five battles or refights that I have played. The first four I played with the boardgame components and due to poor photography skills the pics are "shiney" and blurred beyound use. I need more practice!
Three times I refought the battle of Marathon 490 BC.
10,000 greeks, mostly Athenians, in a stand up fight against 18,000 persians (approx).
The Athenians had thinned their center to bolster the flanks of their battleline. Initially the persians greater numbers and a cavalry contingent extends their line beyond the greeks.

Marathon #1  I played the Greeks and the Persian forces where led by Glynn my eldest.
This was to be a "Learning" game and a lesson was duly handed out!
Totally confident in the Hoptlites ability to smash the Persian infantry (most of whom are archers) before the cavalry could flank me, I advanced the entire line.
Glynn sent forward his cavalry on the long ride around the flanks then sent his infantry forward to meet the hoptlites!
A mighty clash ensued along the center of the field. My initial confidence evapourated as I missed combat roll after combat roll, then the persians counterattacked and Glynn left me on the recieving end of many very lucky dice rolls. In the end, the greeks could not hold on long enough for the persian cavalry to get behind them! Poor morale helped the rest of my men run before they got murdered.
History is overturned, Persia is triumphant and the Olympic "Marathon" is to remember the flight of a greek general running home to his mummy!
There is a Victory point system in the game but in this particular case there was no need to worry about it. Persian victory was total.
Oh well, onto game 2.

Marathon #2    This was the battle played during Daves visit, he commanded the greeks and I persians.
Glynn kept us on the right track with the rules and modifiers and also "advised" for the greeks.
Dave wisely dropped off a couple of hoptlite units to guard his flanks against the persian cavalry then advanced his battleline.
The persians sent their cavalry to the attack and advanced the archers to occupy their center zones. I hoped for some chance to break the Athenians thinned out center.
Alas it was not to be. The hoptlites smashed the persian infantry in every zone. Although I did score a few hits they where not concentrated in one area. The cavalry proved ineffective and never looked like getting past the flanks.
When the points had been totaled a Major Victory was awarded to the greeks. I felt that I'd put up a better showing in this game. Luck was not so much of a factor but the persians still suffered from poor morale.

Marathon #3  This was a solo game.
The Athenians detached hoptlites to cover the flanks and then advanced into the three center zones.
The Persians sent forward the cavalry but only advanced  against the greek center zone. This turned out to be a much better option for the persians. The extra turns before the greeks could fully engage allowed the persians to get a lot closer to breaking the center. Again the cavalry failed to break through. Eventually the hoptlite superiority in combat forced the persians to flee.
The Victory points showed a "Narrow" game win for the greeks. Luck had been fairly equal to both sides and this was a close and exciting game.
                                                       "Some of this was going on!"

Game#4 I hope to start an "Empire" campaign at "Loaded dice" games club. To help things along, I intend to split the players into two main groups, Macedon and Rome. This should provide enough generals and plenty of battles to keep everyone interested.
Using "Prufrocks" Scenario generator (lost Battles Yahoo group/ files section) to fight a few extra battles here and there. To check this out I fought a "supposed" battle as the Persian Empire attempts add Aegyptus to its conquests.
Unfortunately for me the Persian army contained much more cavalry than I was used to. Using a free deployment I piled all the cavalry onto the flanks. I forgot that there is an attack limit from each zone and that on average cavalry take up more of this allowance. This left most of the cavalry useless and by the time I figured it out the thin line of persian infantry had been destroyed.
A Major game victory for Aegyptus and Persian hopes of expansion start to fade.
Still an enjoyable learning experience and just the addition of a few new unit types made this interesting.


Monday, 9 January 2012

Games and more games.

So many things to post. Starting with a slip back to 29/12/11 when Dave made a trip over to mine for an evenings gaming.
First of all I would like to point out that Dave arrived bearing gifts! Home made onion and pepper bhajis.
Top class stuff, gratefully recieved and devoured! Note to self:- get Dave over more often.
  The purpose of the evening was to try out some new games. Forbidden Island, Lost Battles and Fuedo.

Forbidden Island is a co-op game. Players rush around an island collecting treasures before jumping into a helicopter to escape. Not a bad backdrop for a game but add in the major problem that the island is sinking and all of a sudden  things get exciting.
We played three games with increasing difficulty levels each time.
Although the players "Won" each game against the system, each game was close and required planning and a bit of luck to survive.
A good "filler" game and one I would be happy to play again.

Next up was "Lost Battles" but I will hold the details for my next posting which will cover this game and several other battles.

So that brings us to "Fuedo".
Initially I was going to summarise this with "If you have nothing good to say, say nothing" but that might be unfair so I'll try to dig up some positives.
   The box is "pretty". The boards are thick and sturdy and the counters are nicely illustrated, big and thick. Most importantly this game let us constantly quote our favourite lines from Monty Pythons "Holy Grail" movie. This is not a mechanic of the game, just our usual table humour.
This is what I would call a "Mathematics" game. Get the highest value counters next to an opponents lower counters and you win. Not a bad system in itself but add in lots of "fiddly" exemptions, and exemptions to those exemptions all wrapped up in a rulebook which (I hope) suffered in translation, left me uninterested and confused. The entire "medieval" theme seems to be pasted on and the addition of a randomised "teleporting Black Death" felt clunky and arbitrary.
  Most of this is personal opinion and taste so please check this out for yourself. It may appeal to others. Not my "cup of tea".
Overall the evening was a lot of fun. My eldest son joined in for the games and assisted Dave through the Lost Battles refight of Marathon 490BC.
We ended the evening with a few plans for the upcoming "Loaded Dice" club meeting on Friday 13th.
Nice one, and Thanks to Dave for driving all the way up here.

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Hangover part II

                             Hungover, thirsty and cross. Time for Tallulah to give up the booze!

Time Warp

Oh Crikey, the holiday season just flew past in a haze of overeating, wrapping paper, visitors and bad TV. Despite some efforts the gaming was a lot less common than planned. But some dice were rolled, cards played and battles lost.
Firstly, Xmas morning, i finally got my grubby mitts on "Lost Battles".
This boardgame has been produced to a very high quality. Components are thick, thick card for the map tiles and counters (of which there are several million;-).  A glossy 70 page rulebook which also covers the "Empire" game (strategic overview of 200 years warfare that focuses on Carthage, Rome, Macedon and Persian empires). The rule book is heavily illustrated with examples and therefore not as daunting as at first glance it would appear.In fact, compared to most miniature/boardgames the rules are elegant and simple.
The "Empire" map is heavy mounted card and a work of art.
Included in the box is a 300 page book by Prof Phil Sabin, Lost Battles, Reconstructing the great clashes of the ancient world. This hefty tome gives a detailed description of all the battles in the game (40 in all) and extensive design notes on the games rules and structures. The full game rules are included which makes this book an ideal purchase for miniature players (although the game can be played with a single paper map with the troops drawn in pencil).
Two heavy six sided dice and some game tokens, topped off with the thoughtfull addition of ziplock bags.
A quick pic of the final result of a battle. Unfortunately I still have not developed my photography skills enough to avoid glare.

The quality of the game is impressive but how will it play?
Stay tuned for more posts!

Great "Ancients" Blog

Recently I managed to get my hands on a copy of "Lost Battles" the boardgame. While it was being held hostage under the Xmas tree I had joined http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lostbattles/
This is a terrific group which is approaching 4000 posts!
I started reading from post #1 and have (so far) made it to #2522. The quality of the discussions is excellent although a lot of it is above my understanding, especially the Greek and Latin translations!
But during my browsing I discovered links to several blogs. I will link to some later.
Foremost among these was http://prufrockian-gleanings.blogspot.com/ by a chap named Aaron (Prufrock).
This blog is packed with Ancients articles and many many battle reports. Lots of rulesets are covered including "Lost Battles" and "C&C". Enough reading to keep anyone busy through the long winter nights.  There are lots of fantastic pics of Aarons 15mm(I think) ancient armies.
As Lost Battles is going to take up a lot of my gaming time for the forseeable future I hope to have some blog entries of interest to Prufrock very soon.
So Thanks Aaron for your inspirational efforts and just for you here is a couple of  pics of some 10mm ancients.
(Painted several years ago for a friend in Brussels)

                                             Cue the "Huge Phalanx jokes"