Friday, July 29, 2016

Waterford Viking Longboat

Waterford was an interesting place to visit.  It has a Viking origin, the original name being Vadrfjordr or winter fjord.  We spent an hour or so visiting Reginald's tower, a medieval building that stands at ehe seaward corner of Waterford's "Viking Triangle" (broadly the original Norse settlement).  There's a model (about 1/200th scale) in the museum that now occupies the tower.

And outside the tower there's very authentic looking (to me) Viking long boat that was built as part of an experimental archaeology project.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cirensium or Arsuf or somewhere in Gaul?

I took my big red tool box to Ireland.  It's the box that contains my growing 6mm ancients collection and I planned to get in a game with Jamie.

On Simon Miller's recommendation I've been reading Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome series and decided to have a go at setting up a game based on the battle of Cirensium in the second book.  It turns out that Sidebottom based the Romans' deployment on that of Richard I at Arsuf.

Now, I'd need to have some Sassanids if I was to do Sidebottom's Cirensium for real and I don't got none of them.  I do, however, have a number of recently painted Huns.

So our battle takes place somewhere in Gaul, where a Roman column has been ambushed by Hunnic cavalry and some Frankish allies.

On the left are the Huns - two commands each of one unit of lance-armed nobles and four of light horse archers.  In the distance are the Franks - two units of Warriors and two of light infantry archers.

We have to imagine a major river down the right hand side of the table and then a Roman road with the army's baggage.  Three units of legionaries (red uniforms) and three of auxilia  (off-white uniforms) form the main body of the column.  Three units of cavalry ride at the front...

...and three more at the rear...

So the battle begins with the Huns trundling forward into the Romans' flank whilst the Romans frantically turn to face the attack.

From this point the action degenerates into a confused melee.  Units surge forward and chase of enemies but are then taken in flank and disordered or even routed.

Hun nobles charge Roman auxiliaries

Franks versus Roman legionaries (the latter disordered)
Gaps appear in the Roman lines but those Huns are thinly spread too

Cataphracts versus Hun horse archers

One of the units of Franks is double disordered and that's a Roman
cavalry unit facing off against some Frankish light infantry
at the top of the picture - the Franks will soon be attacked
from front and rear!
In the end the late evening and the poor lighting in our holiday cottage defeated us.  The Romans had about seven victory medals left and the Huns about two.  Jamie's Huns could have been defeated at any moment but then again, my baggage train was looking very vulnerable.

Monday, July 25, 2016

1798 And All That

The Crawley family are just back from a holiday to the Republic of Ireland where amongst other things two of us managed to visit the national 1798 Centre in Inniscorthy.

For those of you haven't done the extensive research I've completed (i.e. read a couple of Wikipedia articles), the 1798 United Irishmen's Rebellion was an ultimately doomed uprising against British rule in Ireland.  The uprising (supported by a French expeditionary force, though you'd likely miss this fact if you visited the Inniscorthy centre) culminated in the largest concentration of rebels being surrounded and slaughtered by Government forces at Vinegar Hill in County Wexford.

The visitor centre was, I have to say, a little disappointing.  It uses audio visual techniques to put the rebellion in the context of Enlightenment thought as a direct successor to the American and French Revolutions, which is probably fair, but I came away thinking that I'd learned little more than I got from the aforementioned Wikipedia articles.

I'd have liked to see more contemporary artefacts and less use of design-for-the-sake-of-it.  I'm not clear what was added by a room in which major figures on each side were depicted as human-sized chess pieces.

The culmination of the tour is a film about the nearby "Battle" of Vinegar Hill. The room in which this happened was decorated with life-sized mannequins depicting the two sides.  I managed to get some pictures...

I'd like to have come away from the Centre with a better idea of the appearance and organisation of the two sides (I'm considering recruiting Sharp Practice 2 forces for the conflict) but I'm not convinced by what I've seen.  Some of the modern illustrations had British troops in stovepipe shakos while the mannequins were, as you see, in tricornes.  I rather suspect bicornes would have been nearer the mark.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Slaughter in Hibernia

Jamie and I played a game of Saga on Tuesday evening.  In honour of our forthcoming visit to the Emerald Isle, Jamie played Norse-Gaels and I played Vikings.  It was the first time we'd used these forces so we had to get to grips with two new battle-boards.

The scenario, if such we can call it, was a simple go-out-there-and-kill-the-enemy job.  The setting was farmland on the edge of a Norse-Gael village.

I had two units of Warriors and two of Hearthguard in addition to my leader.

Jamie's Warlord had brought one unit of Warriors and two of Hearthguard, one of which was a double sized unit (eight men).  Jamie's Warriors had javelins and his big unit of Hearthguard had Dane-axes.

I decided to try and steer clear of the big unit and charge forward to bring the rest of Jamie's warband to battle as soon as possible.

My two units of Hearthguard led the way while the warlord led forward one of the groups of bondi (Warriors)...

Meanwhile the other group of Bondi tried a right hook around one of the huts...

Jamie's Warlord advanced in the centre with the smaller unit of Hearthguard and the javelin-armed Warriors.

A rain of javelins fell on my foremost unit of Hearthguard but no-one was killed.  There then followed a battle between two units of Hearthguard.  Jamie started it off by challenging one of my men to a duel (duels are big for the Norse Gaels) but he managed to lose.  We then fought the melee between the survivors and thanks to kind Saga dice I was able to wipe Jamie's guys out for but a single loss.

At this point my Warlord arrived on the scene.  I'd lined up the Saga dice to allow a charge by the Warlord and the unit of three Hearthguard at Jamie's Warlord.  I would use a couple of Saga abilities to add a shedload of combat dice and to reduce his armour but Jamie was alert to the danger.

He used a Saga ability of his own to challenge my "champions" to a series of duels.  Rolling five dice to my two, he won all three duels to leave the Warlords fighting one-on-one...

Fortunately, I still had one usable Saga ability lined up and my Warlord scored three unsaved hits  to win the single combat.

That left just the large, Dane-axe-armed unit of Hearthguards left to fight.   By this time Jamie was down to one Saga dice so I was able to power up my as-yet unused Warriors with every relevant ability going.  I think we may have rolled a couple more dice than I strictly should have but with the option to trade friendly casualties for additional combat dice and with a reroll on each miss I was able to build up a frightening quantity of hits.  Jamie's last unit was wiped out.  Truly a slaughter in Hibernia!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pickett's Charge

This is a bit of a late report on last Sunday at Gauntlet.

Steve from the Deeside club brought along a large collection of, now out of production, Gordon and Hague 10mm plastic ACW figures and we played under the benevolent eye of Will McNally.

Now I've no interest at all in the American Civil War.  Pretty much by accident I've amassed a significant collection of 20mm plastic ACW figures but every time I look at them entirely zero enthusiasm for the period ignites in my brain.  However, even I have heard of the Battle of Gettysburg.  I know that Pickett's charge was part of the action and that it represented "the high watermark of the Confederacy".  And there my knowledge ends.

I was struggling to get to grips with how things were supposed to work, particularly as Will was using the recently published ACW supplement to the Black Powder  rules.  However, as a Union commander (no way was I, as a definite leftie, going to play a representative of the slave-holding South) all a had to do was stand there and wait.

And wait I did, on the extreme right of the Union line, with Jamie on my left and Gary to the left of him. We had lots of soldiers, but then so did the enemy.

Apparently "the angle" was an important landmark on the battlefield.  The two walls, below, are it.

Large numbers of Rebels approached...

And eventually crashed into our line...

At first we held them off...

But eventually they pushed us back.  I think the High water mark of the Confederacy might have been a bit higher in our case but because the Confederate attack off on my left had been so definitively defeated, the general view was that the Gauntlet version of history wasn't going to be so different from the real thing.

Overall I enjoyed the game - it was great to get to know some more of the Deeside lads.  I'd like to have a better idea of what was going on, though.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Korsun Pocket

On Saturday morning Jamie and I drove over to North Wales to attend Deeside Defenders' Gauntlet gaming event.  Based at the British Aerospace social club in Broughton, the Deeside Defenders club always put on a very friendly and relaxed weekend with the emphasis on playing games rather than concentrated shopping.

On the Saturday I ran the Korsun Pocket game; a large Chain of Command action, notes about which have appeared here over recent weeks.  The best thing about this game by far was Will McNally's excellent terrain.

In the game, three German squads, commanded by Andy, Will and Simon (l to r above) were fighting their way along the table to try and escape from the collapsing pocket.  Their jump off points were in a line of dug-in positions at the far end of the table.

Gary and John commanded opposing Russian platoons.  We rolled for the positions of the Russian jump off points and both rolled a six putting their start line back at the opposite end from the Germans.
Gary's Russians advance on the left

Some of John's Soviet infantry move to occupy farm buildings...

... as three German platoons head towards them.
Each major terrain item had the possibility of containing a random item.  Early in the game the Germans were lucky enough to find a boat - ideal for crossing the Gniloi Tikitsch River to safety.  However, how would they move it?  Well, as luck would have it, the next thing they found was a pane wagon.  The boat was loaded onto the wagon and off they went.  

Fire was opened at long range.  Both sides took early casualties but it was the Soviet forces that first started to lose Force Morale.  In particular they seemed to have a talent for having leaders wounded.

One of Gary's Soviet squads passes a German supply glider

John's Soviet platoon passes through the farm and continues
towards the Germans
When I judged that the Germans needed a little more stiff opposition, I gave Richard Phillips a sniper and a ski-mounted scout squad.  These came on at a new Soviet jump off point, in a farmhouse behind the advancing Germans.

The scouts deploy
The game continued with both of the original Soviet commanders advancing towards the enemy.  They might have been better stopping in cover and awaiting the Germans who would have to come through anyway.

Gary's platoon collapsed first and I, in the role of Soviet battalion commander was forces to release to him a second platoon and support in the form of a T-26 tank.  This didn't last long - the thin armour had little to stop a Panzerschreck rocket.

On the Soviet right, John's platoon fight on but they were eventually routed following a short, sharp close assault launched by Simon.

By about four thirty on Saturday it was obvious that the Germans would fight their way off the table, even against the fresh Soviet platoon.  We had the option to pay the German assault on Hill 309 the following day but as several of our players couldn't be there we decided to switch to another game for Sunday (of which more anon).  

The game ran a little slowly at times as we all wrestled with unfamiliar rules. Most of the players seemed to enjoy it though and several of them agreed that they'd like to play Chain of Command again.

Thanks are due to all of the players and in particular to Will for the terrific terrain.