Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Well, we're off on holiday for three weeks from tomorrow, so I'll probably not be posting much until we return. Looking forward to a break and catching up with the family.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chariots based

This is a picture of my Carthaginian chariots on their bases. They haven't quite come out as well as I would have liked, but they could've been worse. I probably need to give a couple of highlights here and there to make the crews stand out better, but once there's flock on the bases they should be good enough for my purposes. There was a problem affixing the yokes to the horses: my superglue came out too fast, went all globby on me after application, dribbled down the sides of the horses and left unsightly gobs to be fixed up. I covered them up with black paint, but a couple of the horses appear to have tumours! A bit annoyed with myself, but I'll forget about it soon enough, I imagine! (There are advantages to having a memory like a goldfish)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lost Battles: Pharsalus, part 3

So, here we are back again with part 3 of our VASSAL game of Pharsalus. The battle is at a critical stage: Caesar's men have begun taking casualties and in two zones they have no fresh units left at all. They need to make a quick kill or else the Pompeians may manage to do enough damage to take the honours.

So, we return for Caesar's phase in turn 6.

Caesar concentrates on Pompey's rear guard. The veteran cavalry men attack with full bonuses, but cannot break through. Caesar turns his legionaries to attack the Pompeian flank, but they too are entirely ineffective. Antony again falls upon the Pompeian right, and again fails to do any damage. One almost begins to wonder about his motivation... In the centre a hit is scored, shattering one, but the rout does not become general. Then on the right-centre, a ferocious attack is launched, scoring three hits and shattering one unit of the Pompeian legionaries. This is a crucial attack, as it has taken Pompey's strongest sector and best hope for victory and almost wrecked it (see screenshot below). It is not over yet though - Pompey still has a turn or two to summon something. Three shatters ought to be enough if it can be managed. If...

Pompey has nine army commands to play with, and he must use them wisely. He allocates one to the ALE in the rear for their attack against the cavalry. A hit here would inspire the entire army - but it does not come. Hearts sinking, Pompey launches his attack. Any hits he makes in this zone will cause Caesar's units to begin shattering, but again no hits result. The centre is also unsuccessful. Finally a hit is scored on the right, but the zone has fresh units, so it does not do significant damage. The gods have not favoured Pompeius the Mild (as he was ruefully dubbed).

Caesar, as is his custom, pounces at the appropriate time. He rolls six commands, giving him enough points for combat bonuses all over the field. The veteran cavalry finally overwhelm the gallant rearguard, and now Pompey's zone has enemies in three adjacent areas. The army survives the morale check caused by the shatter, but Caesar now drives in from the right and scores a double hit. Pompey attempts to rally the troops, but they have had enough. The remaining unit flees, and Pompey must go with it. The rest of the army staggers, but holds its ground. Antony, perhaps realising that it would be a poor look to miss this chance, finally attacks with gusto, and also scores a double hit. At this, the entire army melts away, giving Caesar the victory.

The final victory points were 78 to Pompey, 102 to Caesar, giving Caesar a narrow victory. Pompey was very close here. Some decent dice would have made all the difference. For Caesar, after a lull in the middle stages of the battle, the quality of his veterans came though.
Great game!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lost Battles: Pharsalus, part 2

Just to recap from where we left off in part 1, Caesar had begun with a hiss and a roar, sweeping away the Pompeian horse. His lieutenants in the centre and Antony on the left had also done a fair amount of damage. All that stood between Caesar and the rear of Pompey's army was a unit of light infantry.

We pick up the action in turn 4...

Caesar orders the right to attack the light infantry in front of them, but the enemy fight an effective delaying action and hold off the rampaging horse. Elsewhere Caesar's men can make no headway against the staunch Pompeians (see screenshot below).

In reply, Pompey orders an attack from his own zone which results in a hit. Like the Caesarians, Pompey's men also struggle to make much of an impact elsewhere, with the notable exception of the brave light infantry, who cause a hit on Caesar's over-eager horse.

Caesar's men again struggle to do any damage. The horse manage to finally destroy the light infantry, and one hit is scored in the centre, but the men seem not to have their hearts in it.

The Pompeians now start to make an impact, scoring three hits across the front at the cost of one against. Cunningly, Pompey blocks the advance of the Caesarian horse by detaching cohorts from the rear ranks, buying himself time.

The odds still favour Caesar after his stellar opening turns, but too much longer without progress in the centre zones could see Pompey inflict battle-winning damage on the rapidly tiring veterans.
More to come...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Six Nations

It was disappointing to see such a lot of error-ridden and boring rugby in the opening two games of the Six Nations tournament last night. The endless aimless kicking makes for a poor spectacle, and to have attacking play succeed only when one side is down to 14 men doesn't say much for the state of the game. The rules-tweakers at the IRB really need to un-tweak a few things before players forget how to run effectively with the ball in hand...

But, on a more positive note, it was good to watch a bit of rugby again, warts and all.

On another positive note, I was in town on business today and with three hours to kill between appointments went for a browse at a local mall. At the entrance there happened to be a table full of books in English, all at 70% off. That's my light reading for the plane trip to NZ taken care of!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lost Battles: Pharsalus, part 1.

These are the first two turns of a refight of Pharsalus that John and I are playing over VASSAL. Although Lost Battles gives players the option of deploying as they wish, we are again using the historical deployments for this game. Pharsalus is an interesting battle and the Lost Battles scenario presents both players with some difficult choices. Pompey has numerical superiority in both foot and mounted but his forces do not have the veteran status of Caesar's men. This is a mixed blessing for Caesar: his veterans are tough, manoeuvrable, and easy to inspire in combat, but their value is such that he can't afford to expose them to too much danger. The judgement Caesar must make is how much danger is too much. Pompey must use this disparity in quality to inflict unacceptably high losses on Caesar's troops.

We pick up the action in turn two. Pompey, Labienus and company are at the top of the screen; Caesar, Antony and their veterans are at the bottom.

Turn two sees Pompey launch an attack with the cavalry on his left. Labienus (who is not shown on the board due to his relative anonymity that day) and his men hope to sweep away Caesar's veteran horse, but they can only inflict one hit. In the central zone Pompey advances a portion of his foot, leaving the other zones refused (see screenshot below) to prevent Caesar getting the first attack in all down the line.

Caesar responds by moving two units of his veteran foot and himself to the right in support of the cavalry while Antony marches forward to confront the Pompeian left next turn. In the centre the veteran legionaries close and inflict 3 hits on the Pompeians at a cost of one to themselves.

Turn three sees Caesar exercise his prerogative as a brilliant general and reverse the turn order. This allows him to attack with the troops moved adjacent to enemy zones last turn, but does not permit him to attack from the same zone twice in a row. The centre therefore sits quiet, but Antony lands a heavy blow - 4 hits to 1 against - on the left. On the right the cavalry, inspired by Caesar's presence, inflict a devastating (and scarcely believable!) 6 hits, shattering all three of Pompey's cavalry units and clearing the space for an advance. All that stands between Caesar and the rear of Pompey's army is a unit of light infantry.

With his hand forced, Pompey elects to advance left of centre. On the right his men attack for one hit; in the centre it is stalemate.

Will Caesar's luck hold? Will Pompey's bold advance pay off? It remains to be seen in part 2!

Swing low...

Not too much visible progress with the elephants yet, I'm afraid. Lots of minor bits and pieces have been done but my overall colour schemes are not turning out quite as well as I'd hoped. Fortunately, the chariots are beginning to turn out quite nicely. Here's a shot of one of them. It's still a bit shiny (the matt varnish will take care of that) and needs a bit of touching up, but I think this should look quite good once the crew and horses are added in. I thought I had a royal chance of wrecking these as it was the first time I'd made chariots. I feel a bit more pleased with them now.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Successor elephants

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have a few bits and pieces that need to get painted up. Readers may recall my griping about having flaked off the paint of some elephant trunks as I foolishly tried to bend them AFTER painting. I began the repair job last night, and you can see the first stage on this jumbo here. If you look very closely you might be able to see that I've applied a new undercoat to a section of the trunk and will be washing and dry-brushing it to (hopefully) have it match the rest of the hide.

This is a shot of all eight of the beasts. They're nice looking models from the Chariot 15mm range sold by Magister Militum in the UK. I really like the Chariot elephants, and I have four Carthaginian elephants from them, too. You can see that the coverings and the howdahs have been stained with a 'browner' version of my magic brown wash. I intend to do two or three of the howdahs to look whitewashed, while one or two will be painted to resemble wood. The coverings will be in a variety of colours. I may even pattern one or two of them, but that's probably getting a bit ambitious given my mediocre skills!

Easy painting

When it comes to painting I'm lazy and am always looking for shortcuts to save time and to motivate me to get figures finished. I particular I dislike painting cavalry as there are a lot of steps to go through. In an effort to cut down on the number of stages I've decided to try block-undercoating.

Basically, this is simply spraypainting a large number of horses at once in black, brown and white. When I am ready to paint cavalry I give the riders a quick wash of brown, do the flesh, glue them to the horses and, because they now look half done (or, at least they do to me!) I find it much easier to motivate myself to add the finishing touches. For light cavalry I will rebase them to convince myself they're even closer to completion. It remains to be seen how well this will work, but the theory seems good so far, and it has worked on a smaller scale of production!

The horses (above), block painted and awaiting riders

Another big timesaver is the old magic wash. I use it in two ways. First, after priming the figures in white or gray I give them a brown wash using Klear and smidgens of the two paints below. I also use a bit of water with this to reduce the sheen which the Klear gives. This wash gets into the cracks and gives a bit of depth to the figure. I then paint in the areas of the figure, leaving the wash to show through in places. This allows me to add depth to the figure without having to apply a darker shade for every single colour I apply to the figure. I then add highlights to some things (flesh, tunics, cloaks, etc) and finish off with another wash of clear Klear, this time to provide a protective coat. I sometimes add just a touch of black or brown to this to help re-define areas of the figure that got a bit messy during the painting stages. I usually give two coats of this. Once dry it's time to give them a blast of matt varnish, and I can move onto basing.

The magic wash...
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