Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Victory Denied

It's been a quiet couple of weeks on the blogging front. A computer meltdown is partly to blame, but with that sorted out I've also been busy playing over VASSAL. Two excellent games of Lost Battles were had with John, a couple of live games of Commands & Colors enjoyed with my brother, and now my boardgaming buddy Pat is back in the saddle as well.

Pat suggested we play A Victory Denied, which is the 2009 follow up to my favourite WWII boardgame, A Victory Lost. Neither of us has played it before, and while we are very likely making all sorts of blunders, it is turning out to be an engaging affair.

The game takes as its subject the abortive drive on Moscow from July-September 1941, and it already seems to be less static than its predecessor. That's not to say that AVL is static, but there are certain defensive positions that get used time after time. I imagine that the lines we use will firm up as the game progresses and as we get more experienced.

Here then is the game map and positions at start. The German units are gray and light blue while the Soviets are tan and red. It is a nice map, but I do find the glossiness of the paper can make it a little difficult to see what's what on the table under my lighting. Yet another reason to use VASSAL, from which this screenshot is taken:

It's been a while since I've learnt a game from scratch, and I'm enjoying it. It shows again the value of having gaming buddies to give a wee push when one is needed!

Friday, June 4, 2010


I've had the Paraitacene Commands & Colors: Ancients scenario set up on the table over the last few nights, playing turns as the chance arises. The idea was to get my newly painted elephants, Thracian and Illyrian cavalry into action.

I played the scenario almost as-is out of the book. The only things I mucked about with were in changing the horse archers to light cavalry (I don't have any horse archers painted at this stage) and increasing the banners needed for a win from 7 to 8.

Antigonus began with a strong attack on his right which brought him 2 banners in the first couple of turns. Sadly, the Thracians went down early without inflicting a single casualty. It's a tough life.

Eumenes was under pressure, but Antigonus elected to follow up with an attack on his left rather than continue to heap the pressure on the right (he was holding both mounted charge and darken the skies, and wanted to give himself plenty of opportunity to get the best out of these cards).

As is often the way when cards are set up a turn in advance, Eumenes got the breathing space he needed to start getting his own forces into action by advancing on his own right.

(Below you can see that the Antigonid advance on the left has now been met with a strong response, and their light horse are about to be driven off)

The next few turns were spent with Antigonus trying to extricate his men on the left and Eumenes attempting to re-entangle them. Eumenes also began to get his centre moving forward in the hope that he would be able to employ a double time card.

(Below you can see the view from Antigonus' right. The peltasts have cavalry to their left and an elephant unit in support.)

Antigonus attempted to press home his advantage on the right and trap the enemy light troops against the baseline, but Eumenes cunningly withdrew them behind the main line, saving them from the menacing advance of the cavalry and regaining the initiative in so doing.

(Below shows the advance on the Antigonid right centre just prior to the light troops' withdrawal mentioned above.)

Eumenes then slammed into the Antigonid left centre, smashing two medium infantry units in close combat and picking off a light cavalry unit with missile fire to make the banner count 3-2 in his favour.

Antigonus responded strongly with a devastating elephant charge which all but destroyed the Eumenid phalanx. Over two turns he picked up 4 banners to 2, leaving the battle poised at 6-5, and with plenty of juicy targets in front of him. Seeing his centre gone, Eumenes played counter-attack to activate his heavy units and threw himself, an elephant unit and the silver shields into the fray in a desperate effort to turn the tide.

Eumenes himself pinned two units of light cavalry against the baseline and destroyed them both, though the nameless leader escaped (see picture below for Eumenes charge). Meantime, the elephants and the silver shields teamed up on a phalanx unit in the centre left, and Antigonus' men gave way. Eumenes had triumphed 8-6 in a famous comeback!

This was just a solo affair, but as I usually find with Commands & Colors, it ended up being a wonderfully engrossing game. By the end of it I was inwardly cheering as the advantage swung back towards Eumenes then Antigonas and ultimately Eumenes again.

As for the new fellows, the elephants did a grand job, but the Thracians and Illyrians have a bit of ground to make up!

Anyway, I continue to find that with both C&C and Lost Battles in the collection, you can't go too far wrong for solo ancient action. With the game bug itched, it's now time to pack the wargaming table away and get out the paints again...

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