Saturday, October 10, 2015

Further RenPOW testing

I've persevered with my testing of Renaissance Principles of War throughout the last week playing a turn here and there.

I think I'm beginning to get the hang of how it's meant to work.  The rules are definitely in need of something; better internal referencing would be good, perhaps more sub-headings, and some more explanation of the intent of some of the rules.

Anyway, there's a major melee going on in front of the Polish infantry where they are drawn up along their ridge (background of the pic below)...

...whilst the Turkish infantry are just beginning their march towards the action having received new orders from their C-in-C...

I think the two Polish Hussar units are still destined to play a key role in the battle.

Whilst the Turkish right flank cavalry command may yet wreak havoc on the Polish left.

A couple of questions remain unanswered so far:

1. If a unit is still in melee after last turn and is charged in the flank can it evade? I guess not.

2. If a unit attempts to evade but fails, can it shoot?  I guess not.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Giving RenPOW a try

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've decided to try out my Turks and Poles as their seventeenth century versions using the Renaissance Principles of War rules.

I'm doing this solo and I decided to make it a bit more interesting by plotting out multiple possible orders for each side and then selecting randomly.  I did so thusly:

Sorry, the green lines for the Polish orders aren't too clear.  Neither of the redeployments (top right of each chart) took place and the selected orders are shown circled.

The RenPOW rules (I'm using the first edition) aren't easy to pick up.  They could certainly do with more examples.  At first I missed the rule that you can't charge as a group.  I also defaulted to a HOTT mindset and lined units up perfectly, which you don't need to do.

The rules could be clearer on things like how far retiring troops and pursuers move.  What happens if pursuers catch retirers?  There are rules for what happens if pursuers hit other enemy troops but not what happens if they hit troops they've previously caused to flee.  At least as far as I can see.

That's what's happening here, by the way.  Unit 1 of Polish Winged Hussars has pursued and caught to Shaken units of Feudal Sipahi.  Do they fight again now?  Edit: Gods this is frustrating!  The section on Pursuit (pg 28) talks about troops who may/must pursue after a melee opponent retires or routs but isn't clear on how far it moves.  Meanwhile the Charge Reaction section on pg 16 talks about units whose opponents evade, retire or rout moving forward immediately by 2" (or occasionally 3").  At no point does it refer to this as "Pursuit" but I'm now guessing (from absence of evidence to the contrary rather than from positive evidence) that this is what it means.  So the Winged Hussars in the pic should be 12cm further back!

Otherwise the two turns or so of action has gone through OK.  The rules aren't exciting me but they're OK.  One odd issue is that a command can't deploy any wider that 18 inches (27cm in my reduced scale) even if it has sufficient units to do so.  As a result a three command army must form up in a relatively narrow and deep formation with only a limited number of units able to fight in the first contacts.

I shall persevere for a while longer and may report back again later.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


I've always had a vague hankering to "do renaissance wargaming" without ever actually getting my act together.  I think part of the problem with the renaissance period is that I haven't yet identified a  conflict that really grabs me.  The Great Italian Wars is probably most likely.  I certainly have no desire to English Civil War.

The other problem has been the lack of a set of rules that's really inspired me.

I was probably still a teenager when I bought a copy of the George Gush/WRG rules and originally based my 15mm Samurai with them in mind.  No actual games came of it though.

Later on I bought Irregular Miniatures 6mm Ottoman Turk and Hussite armies and the De Bellis Renationis (DBR) rules, again by WRG.  Again the rules didn't sufficiently fire my enthusiasm.

It occurs to me now, though, that in building up my Polish and Turkish forces for Maurice or Black Powder, I've accidentally acquired enough models to be able to play another set of rules that have been sitting unused for years - Tom Penn's Renaissance Principles of War.  So I think I might have a go sometime this weekend.

A simple, solo, late 17th century clash should give me an idea of whether these rules will do the job.  I have the first edition and I know from having reread them this morning that there's imprecise language that will annoy me but I shall persevere and see where we get to.

Will my renaissance gaming see a renaissance? Report to follow....

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Flea Market Find

I found a bag of bits on a stall in the local market that sells second-hand model railway accessories.

The farm animals and civilians will do nicely as additions to Andreivia.  I think we may have a female Andreivian police officer there.  The suitcases and trunks will make great Plot Point markers for Pulp Alley.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Another Go At Mursa

Jamie and managed to fit in one more game before he headed back to York for the new University year.  It was a replay of the Mursa scenario that I ran at Berkeley recently.

Jamie led the forces of the eastern emperor Constantius, furthest from the camera in the picture below.  He had the advantage of me in cavalry, particularly in the form of a six-element command of Goth foederati on his left flank (extreme top right of the pic below).

I, on the other hand, as Magnentius, had a stronger infantry command on my left and began the game trying to push them forward with a view to cutting through to Jamie's camp.

Sadly, I drew an ace early on leaving one of my legionary units isolated on my extreme left well in advance of the min line.  That's it in the picture below, the red unit on the extreme left of the field. However, my German auxiliaries (centre of the table) were able to make considerable ground.

Jamie pushed forward his cavalry and began working on pushing me off the hill on my extreme right flank.

Goth horsemen approach the base of the hill. 

Eastern cataphracts advance

Magnentius's Auxilia Palatina advance alongside Gaulish auxiliaries.
Once again Fortune spits in my eye. On game turn two I draw a 10 counter to advance my second Legionary cohort to support the first, which is still exposed on the left.  This allows me to move but makes it most unlikely that I'll be able to activate a second time later in the move.  Magnentius is with the unit, though, and I decide to use his ability to redraw the counter and get something lower."  It is lower.  I draw a one and that command's turn is over.  Grrr!

Fierce fighting develops as Constantius's central cavalry command takes on Magnentius's German infantry.

Constantius's infantry form a thin line to defend their camp.

The armies are now engaged all across the field. Diagonally "cocked" units have become disordered as a result of the fighting.

The two lines of Legionaries square off. (Square off, you see?
To The Strongest!  Square Grid?  Oh please yourself!) 

On my right, Jamie's small unit of cataphracts (yellow cloaks) charge into the flank of the Roman heavy cavalry commanded by my attached general Marcellinus.  Marcellinus's unit was disordered and in the pic below you can see that I've withdrawn it (bottom left).

I then charged the flank of the cataphracts with the other heavy cavalry unit in Marcellinus's command.  The cataphracts are a small unit and can therefore take only one hit to destroy.  Despite their excellent save value (5+ as they were veterans) the flank charge was too much to resist and the Western cavalry swept over them.

The first successful attack on the infantry flank saw Magnentius's second cohort (now caught up with the first) disordered by their Constantian opposite numbers...

To the right of my legionaries, my Gaullish auxiliaries started to make progress.

The cavalry melee continued but one unit of Germans (extreme far left in the pic below) made it through a gap in the Constantian line...

And breached the defences of enemy camp.

This wasn't enough to break Constantius's army but with time running out we decided to call it a marginal win for Magnentius.

So that's one win for each side in our refights of Mursa.  I now need to find another suitable Late Roman action to have a go at.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Yet More Late Romans

I finished the last of my unpainted Late Romans yesterday.  This is the Schola Gentilium Seniorum; another guard heavy cavalry unit.

Having completed the Romans I now want to get the rest of my 18th Century Poles painted. I think that means a couple more units of Pancerny and a few Generals.  Then it will be on to the Swedes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mursa, 351CE

On the Saturday evening at Berkeley I ran a game of To The Strongest! to demo the system to some new players.  The scenario was the battle of Mursa, which took place in the year 351 near what is now Osijek in Croatia.

This was only a very approximate version of the battle with my main source being Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire with a bit of help from Wikipedia.  The battlefield is described as a featureless plain alongside the Drava River.  I added a Roman road as it seemed appropriate.

On the left, the army of Magnentius with two infantry commands
closest to the river and a cavalry command on their right flank.
To the right of the picture, the army of Constantius; Infantry command
with fortified camp, central command of German cavalry, and
left flank cavalry.
The Army of Constantius right) had its right flank anchored on the river and was commanded by Josh Jones as the chamberlain Eusebius. He was ably assisted by his Pete Duckworth as Sylvanus the Frank and Owen Webber as General Gallus.

Opposite them, Benedict Sharrock took on the role of the western emperor Magnentius.  Nigel Jones assisted him as General Marcellinus.  General Decentius, commanding the German infantry in the centre of Magnentius's line was commanded by whichever of the western players finished first with their own command.

I didn't get as many photos as I'd have liked as I was too busy explaining the rules and keeping the game moving.

I'd added an extra wrinkle to the battle in the form of Menelaus who is said to have directed the archery of Constantius's troops and played an important part in their victory.  In consultation with Simon Miller I decided to treat Menelaus as a non-standard type of Hero who, once per turn, could retry any missed shooting attempt by his unit.  This seems to work OK.  It certainly didn't unbalance the game.  Sadly it didn't prevent Magnentian legionaries later overrunning his unit.

Menelaus at the far end of the Light Infantry (bow) unit.
True to history, Eusebius put his cavalry on the left.  In this case with a large command of Germanic foederati (mostly Goths) nearest the "hinge" and a smaller command of Roman cavalry (including a small unit of veteran cataphractarii) on the extreme left.

The Goths hit the junction of Magnentius's infantry centre and his right flank cavalry command.

Gothic cavalry charge their Western Roman opposites
and disorder them (hence the canted position of the latter).
On the river flank there was bloody fighting.  There was no decisive breakthrough but there was a steady trickle of casualties on both sides.

On the other flank the easterners' superiority in cavalry enabled them to break through and threaten Magnentius's camp.  With only a unit of Ballistarii to defend it, the camp looked threatened.  Its three Victory Medals would probably win the battle for Constantius.

However, the artillerymen fought like lions.  Turning to face the attack (they can do this though they can't move from square to square) they fought off the eastern equites alares.

And suddenly it was over.  Somewhere in the centre of the battlefield an eastern unit routed.  Their example was contagious.  As Eusebius surrendered his last Victory Medal the army of Constantius started to disintegrate.

And so a reversal of history.  I learned a few things from this game.

One - have two separate cups of activation counters.  It's a pain in the arse passing one cup back and forth.

Two - for a quick demo game it would probably have been better to miss the names of units off the Army Sheets. They just got in the way of players identifying the unit types.

Three - I need some specifically ancient terrain items to give the battlefield some character.