Sunday, 25 June 2017

Battle of Bagradas River (Tunis) 255 BC

The Battle of Bagradas River, Battle of Tunis or perhaps first Battle of Bagradas River was fought in the First Punic War between a Roman expeditionary force under consul Marcus Atilius Regulus and a Carthaginian army led by the mercenary general Xanthippus of Sparta.

This game was played on 11th June and is the most recent of those that we have played during the period Nov '16–June '17 when I lost my 'urge' to blog. We used Zimmermann's "The Wargamer's Handbook", that old set that I have enjoyed using since Mark introduced them to me a couple of years ago. We have now compiled the rules for ancients into a document and set of tables that we can refer to (both of documents are works 'in progress').

Mark put together the game largely based on the scenario in the Warhammer Ancient Battles supplement Hannibal and the Punic Wars. and with reference to Patrick Waterson's palindromic-titled article Amazed I Am Ere I Made Zama from The Slingshot no. 262 (2009), He also supplied the troops, table (and venue), as he so often does!

I took the bait and played as Roman...

Nah, actually it is good taking the side that was trounced historically as you can only do better, or else it goes according to the 'script', so fair enough. Either way you cannot lose, surely?!!

The forces were arrayed on opposite sides of the open plain.

Regulus' 15 000 infantry formed the large centre, deployed in the usual four lines: velites, hastati, principes and triarii with his 500 cavalry split between the flanks.

Xanthippus had 12 000 infantry, 4 000 cavalry and 100 war elephants. He placed the Carthaginian spearmen in the centre, mercenary infantry on the right with light infantry and Carthaginian/Numidian cavalry split between the two flanks. Those 100 war elephants formed the front rank of his centre.

This was according to the historical record (map from Wikimedia Commons).

As were the opening moves: bring on the pachyderms!
Elephants are from Zvezda (left) and Hät (right) War Elephants sets. Velites by Hät.

The velites evaded, leaving the hastati to try to stop the crazy grey beasts.

They passed the panic test, but were no match for the lunging Loxodontini...
(Roman figures mainly from Hät, some from Zvezda at right of photo).

who pursued through to the principes.

 Pachyderm pursuit soon turned to...
mayhem for the Romans!

Regulus sent his cavalry in a 'death or glory' charge in an attempt to break up the Carthaginian attacks on both flanks. On the right, they were at first successful against the Carthaginian cav. (in distance), but pursuing onto the light infantry came unstuck.

Taking stock after the initial shock of the elephants, the Roman line reformed, but would it hold?

The best form of defence is attack! Desperate Roman counter-attacks, but are they merely delaying the inevitable?

Not much sign of the Roman lines in this broad view of the battle.

On the Roman left the triarii have driven back the cavalry and skirmishers-—for now.

The Roman left was under great pressure from a hail of javelins delivered by Numidian cavalry and skirmishers.
(The keen-eyed will notice the Atlantic figures in the foreground amongst those from Hät and Zvezda).

The pressured Roman army looks like a hollow square, assaulted from the left...
and right!

Brief respite. A successful counter-charge by the left-most hastati and principes, drove off Carthaginian cavalry, taking many of their fellows with them.

In the centre though, the Carthaginian phalanx ground forward.

The battle had reached its climax, with what was to be a last turn of desperate mêlées.

Aiming for the triarii to their front (seen just at left of photo), an uncontrolled elephant charge steamed into the rear of the right-most Carthaginian spearmen, sending them to the rear (foreground of photo), before crashing into the spearmen's former opponents on the left of the Roman line!

Successful against their 'revised' foe, they continued towards the messed-up Roman rear; messing it up all over again.

So, what at first seemed to be 'disaster', then turned triumph—combined with the successful attacks of the Carthaginian spearmen—meant that it was curtains for the Romans.

A victory to Carthage, but in this we did not completely follow the history. Our version was far closer with only 20-odd figures difference in 'casualties': 121 v 100.

This was a fast-moving, challenging game. Being Roman, I was always trying to regain order and put ad-hoc formations into some kind of attack formation. As Carthaginian, Mark kept me on the back foot all game, trying to get his troops into contact as fast as possible.

Since changing to Zimmermann for our games of ancients (this was our third game using these rules) I have been far happier with the 'feel' of the games as well as specific mechanics. This was the first time that we have used elephants and those rules seemed to work well, including having them pursue automatically (our addition to the rules) and going 'awry' (as per original rules).

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

La Haie Sainte inspires 100th game idea

Unknowingly, I have followed the course of John at "The Nameless Blog" who posted back in March that he had recently completed the Waterloo Farmhouse by Sarissa Precision—and a fine job he made of it too.

I thought at the time that it looked a lot like the sets of MDF kits that I had purchased from Italeri in late 2015 under the 'Waterloo 200' banner (Waterloo 200 Battle at La Haye Sainte, La Haye Sainte Stables and La Haye Sainte Barn). It would and should though, wouldn't it, being a model of the same thing?

Fast forward to the weekend and I decided, when yet again moving the boxes to get to something else, that it was time to get on and make the d@mned things! It was then, looking at the instructions, that I saw the co-branding of Sarissa Precision and realised that they *were* the same thing!

I completely concur with John's comments. These are fast, fun buildings to construct. The instructions are clear, the pieces snap out easily, fit together really well (and easily), using PVA glue. The trickiest part for me was the bit that I decided to do first, the dormer windows on the farmhouse.

While not yet painted, I think you'll agree that it looks impressive nonetheless. You'll see what the finished thing can look like by looking at John's painted model on his blog.

The Sarissa Productions/Italeri Waterloo Farmhouse, Stables and Barn.

They even provide a card version of the pond, in two sections.

The buildings are a mixture of MDF (the majority) and card (for smaller gates, gate backing, window-sills, dormer windows and pond).

The gates of the main entrance have simple pin inserts into pre-cut holes, so are able to open.

It fits together so well that I was able to leave the rooves un-glued to enable troops to be put inside, if desired (and to aid with painting).

Completing this (construction, at least) has me thinking of an exciting and appropriate game for our 100th (we recently completed no. 97)—the central section of the Battle of Waterloo, from Hougoumont to the 'western' half of the Anglo-Allied ridge. I reckon that we could take in an area of about 2.5 km x 2.5 km at a ground scale of 1 cm to 1 m and figure scale of 1:20. My grandiose idea would be to make it of the entire battle, with forces entering either by player command or according to historical events (especially the Prussians). The more practical version is to focus purely on troops that were in that area from around 14:30 onwards. This would make for a semi-recreation, with options and outcomes determined by the players. I'll discuss it with the other fellas and we'll see.

A plan in the development, let's say!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Ligny 202 (plus 1 day) at the NWS

On Saturday I joined some of the fellas at the Napoleonic Wargaming Society for one of the 'Games Day' (weekend wargaming days), of which there are three or four per year. This one, inspired by the Open Day held for the bicentennial of Waterloo, is meant to have a Waterloo/Napoleonic theme.

It was not a great turn out, but I was one of five players who had the pleasure of being part of the game of Ligny organised by 'Marc' of  'one-eyed', I mean 'One Sided' fame! :)

You'll get more detail and background to the game from the report on his blog. I have taken his 'one-sided' mantle for this report!!

The table at game's start.

Zieten at his command post, Blucher is just the other side of the windmill.

What they saw.

I had the joy and pleasure of acting as Dominique 'Jean-Claude' Vandamme for this one.

I immediately sent Girard and Lefol against St Amand La Haye and Habert against St Amand.

Both attacks were repulsed.

Roeder's 2nd brigade (represented by hussars) had the audacity to charge Domon's horsemen. An indecisive mêlée saw them recalled to safety to reform.

Zieten ordered reinforcements forward to support his outposts in the villages, under the watchful gaze of Blucher.

Milhaud launched his 13th heavy cavalry division across the Ligny brook to assault the left flank of the Prussian reserve artillery.

Meanwhile, I sent Girard's, Lefol's and Habert's men in for a second attempt on 'the St Amands'.

More Prussians on the move! Note that Milhaud's cavalry have retired back over the brook.

 This time we were successful in St Amand la Haye...

 but staunch defence beat off our attack on St Amand.

 On the French right flank, Gerard made a concerted attack on Ligny.

Meanwhile, back on the left, Roeder's horsemen were at it again. This time two brigades ganged up on Domon, causing the latter to withdraw.

The Prussian's 1st brigade got carried away with the victory, only to be seen off by the square formed by Girard's 1st brigade.

Another attack on St Amand. This time it was Habert's men who attacked the village, supported by a brigade of Berthezene's men, who took on some of the Prussian reinforcements attempting to deploy on the southern side of the brook.

 The Prussian supports were driven back, but so too was the French attack on the village.

It was getting 'hot' in the Prussian centre thanks to a successful charge by Milhaud's 14th heavy cavalry division...

 supported by the Young Guard.

The defenders of Ligny had been driven off by fire, but alas, with no French available to take advantage, one of the Prussian reinforcing brigades would be able to walk into the town, occupying it, but not deployed.

Back on the left, Berthezene's 1st brigade stood ready to defend the line of the brook while Habert's brigades reformed for another assault on St Amand.

Unfortunately, we had run out of time. What a bummer given that the battle was heating up and so interestingly poised.

Never mind, having played it this far and all enjoying the challenge, Marc has in mind to run it again, but at Biko's so that it can be left set-up if necessary and played to a conclusion.

Thank you so much to Mark H. ('Marc') for organising the game, providing the figures and umpiring and to Darren, Biko, Stephen and Steve for playing the game in the 'right' spirit—naturally.

I finally felt that I got a handle on Napoleon's Battles, working with and 'in' the system rather than being somewhat bemused and befuddled by what was occurring—as has happened in previous games using these rules.

I am looking forward to playing the game again and this time to the 'bitter end'!