Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Painting a DBA army

Well, last night I began my latest project - a series of armies for DBA.  The Anglo-Danes have had their first flesh coat applied, and hopefully some steady work over the next month or so will see this army finished.  The Anglo-Danes are a bit of a test for me as I've never painted an army specifically for DBA before.  If it proves to be a quick and enjoyable process then I might order a few more of them (if the six I have already turn out to be inadequately representative of the period, as I'm sure they will...).

It's good to be painting again after a wee break.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Raphia multiplayer PBEM: part three

This is the third post in a series on our multiplayer PBEM refight of Raphia.  The first post is here and the second is here.

By the end of the fourth turn the Seleucids had swept away the Ptolemaic left and turned in to attack the centre while Antiochus with his cavalry had galloped around to attack the reserve.  On their own left, the Seleucids were under considerably more pressure.  With their leftmost zone reduced to two units, one of which was spent, and their centre reduced to five units with only one fresh, they were beginning to look a little fragile in this quarter of the field.

With time running out, the Ptolemies needed a quick victory in the centre and on the right to allow them to turn to deal with Antipater's rampaging elephants and Antiochus' veteran heavy cavalry.  The question is, would it happen, and if so, would it happen in time?

Here is the board situation at the start of turn 5:

Turn 5.

The Ptolemies rolled a one for command, giving them five command points to use.  Ephecretes began on the left, attacking Themison in his left rear zone.  Three hits were scored, shattering all the units there and clearing the zone.  With his last order Ephecretes sent his average light cavalry in to take the enemy camp and in so doing threaten the morale of the Seleucid centre.

Andromachus used his two commands to attack Nicarchus' phalangites, scoring two hits and causing a unit to shatter.  In the morale test that followed the entire Seleucid centre gave way and Andromachus advanced one spent levy unit into the now cleared zone.

Things had gone very well for the Ptolemies to this point.

After the Ptolemaic turn the board looked like this:

With the battle now at a crucial stage, all depended on whether the Ptolemaic morale could remain steady in the face of the Seleucid counter blow.

The Seleucids had 9 commands to play with and these were pumped into as many bonuses as possible.

First, Antipater's zone was activated for a total of 5 commands.  A unit of the Indian elephants was put into the lead and given a command bonus; the phalangites were paired and also given a command bonus; finally, the other elephants were to attack last and at a minus for going over the attack limit.

Antipater's attack:

The lead elephant, needing a 6 to hit, rolled a 6.  As it was spent, it could not all-out attack and so no hit was made.

The paired phalangites, also needing a 6 to hit, rolled a 4.

The remaining elephant needed a 9 to hit but rolled a 7.

No hits scored!

The second zone activated was the Seleucid key zone.  With 1 command the light infantry was ordered to turn and attacked the spent levy phalanx unit.  For 2 more commands it was given a combat bonus.

The light infantry attack:

The light infantry needed 8 to hit and shatter the levy phalanx.  The roll? 2!

This left it all up to Antiochus, who put his own guard unit in the lead and attacked using his exemptions.

Antiochus' attack:

The lead veteran heavy cavalry with two combat bonuses going up against levy phalangites in an edge zone required a 4 to hit once or an 8 to hit twice.  The result was a 10, shattering the unit in one grand charge and causing a morale test!

With another high morale roll needed by the Ptolemies, the die finally failed to oblige.  On a score of 1 all but three units ran away, with those remaining three counted as withdrawn (as a mercy - technically we should have kept going).

So, a magnificent victory for the Seleucids!  The pressure they put on the Polycrates' left told, and despite the best efforts of Andromachus and Ephecretes, Nicarchus and Themison stuck it out for long enough for Antiochus and his men to carry the day.

The final points tallies were 116 to 65, giving Antiochus and friends a victory by 51 points, which equates to a major victory.  Antiochus will surely be feasting in Alexandria very soon!

Thanks to all of the fellows involved for making this such a great game to be a part of and hopefully there will be many more battles to follow. 

(BTW, if anyone is curious about Lost Battles and might be interested in taking part in another such game, do join the Lost Battles yahoo group at this link and ask for more information there.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Raphia multiplayer PBEM: part two.

It's time for an update on our multiplayer PBEM game of Raphia.  Much has happened since the first installment here.  To quickly recap, the second turn finished with the Seleucids having made an impressive attack on their left through Antipater and having pulled a fast move in turning their central phalanx left to bring as much force to bear as possible on Ephecretes' fragile wing.  This made it even more urgent for the Ptolemaic centre under Andromachus to push on with the attack.

Here is the board at the commencement of turn 3 (Seleucids in Black; Ptolemies in Red):

The command roll for the Ptolemies was favourable - a four.  This gave enough commands to activate all the command groups for attack and also to remedy some poor initial communication from the commander-in-chief on the subject of keeping a central reserve.

The action began on the right with Ephecretes launching an attack on Themison's wing using four commands.  The first attack by the phalangites scored a hit on Indian elephant.  The attack by the flanking light cavalry finished off the job and shattered it, but the other units survived unscathed.

In the centre, Andromachus was alloted five commands.  One was used to about-face a levy phalanx unit and send it into the rear zone as a reserve; the others were used to mount an attack on Nicarchus' centre, now facing away from the attack.  The leading unit prosecuted the with with zest, shattering Nicarchus' lead unit of levies, but despite having things in their favour the rest of the phalangites were reluctant to take the attack to the enemy with vigour and no more hits were scored.

Polycrates commenced his attack on the left by ordering his heavy cavalry to charge at Antiochus' zone, but the assault was not a success.  The attack with the centre left was similarly ineffective, with the troops perhaps understandably unwilling to close with the Indian elephants.  Nonetheless, with two units shattered this turn the Seleucid fighting value was reduced by 6, taking them into the 50s and reducing the commands available to them by 1.

It came now to the Seleucids to respond and their command roll was also four, giving them a total of nine commands.

Themison began on the left, using two commands and leading off with his heavy cavalry.  They were perhaps all a little dismayed by the loss of their (totemic?) elephants because neither the cavalry not the infantry were able to inflict any hits.

Nicarchus in the centre fared a little better, using four commands and managing to displace the lead unit of phalangites.  Unfortunately, they were not able to make any further inroads. Ephecretes no doubt heaved a sigh of relief, but Antiochus would surely not have been so pleased had he been aware.

Perhaps happily for Antiochus, he was in the thick of things himself.  Antipater's zone again attacked Ptolemy and his men, and again the elephants performed with distinction.  The first unit scored a double hit, and Ptolemy, in attempting to rally his men, was killed.  The morale of the men held up, but the second elephant unit, determined not to be outdone, also scored a double hit, clearing the zone entirely!

Although morale held up again, Antiochus swept away the remnants of the Ptolemaic left by personally leading a wild charge which immediately shattered the heavy cavalry opposing him.

What seemed only moments before to have been an opportunity lost by the unwillingness of the left and centre to press home their attacks had now become a triumph due to the inspired charge of  the elephants and of Antiochus himself.  Somehow, the Ptolemies had lost 22 points of fighting value - fully a third of their army (and our gallant Phillip G) - in one turn!

With their fighting value reduced to forty, much gritty work was needed.

"And then there were two..."
Here is the board at the commencement of Turn 4.  Observers may notice the absence of a Ptolemaic left!

The command roll for turn four was not a disaster, for which the shaken Ptolemaic commander-in-chief was immensely grateful (I have this on very reliable authority!).  Eight command points did not seem too bad a tally given what could have been.

The right led off, with Ephecretes' phalangites launching an attack on Themison's zone.  Using 4 commands, they managed three hits, including a double hit which shattered one of the units of levy phalangites.  The light cavalry worried the flanks, but did no real damage.

In the centre, and not before time, Andromachus inspired his men to great deeds, with four hits made at a cost of two to themselves.  This redressed the balance somewhat, steadied the centre and disordered the enemy phalanx enough that they would not be able to pair their units in attack. 

With a command roll of one, the Seleucids did not begin the turn auspiciously, and that was how it remained.  Themison's weakened zone again failed failed to make any headway against the enemy, and Nicarchus in the centre (now mostly spent) was unable to coordinate the attacks of the phalangites as well as he would have liked.  The elephant was hit, but the anticipated decisive push against an outflanked Ephecretian phalanx did not come.

Antipater's command in the centre left now wheeled about to tear into the flank of Andromachus' phalangites, but turning to the attack reduced the force of the manoeuvre and only one hit was scored.  In the meantime, Antiochus and his strike force of picked cavalry raced from the scene of their second triumph on the left into contact with the Ptolemaic reserve.

So, with four turns finished and the Ptolemies in grave difficulties, the the final blow has still not yet fallen.  There is a faint glimmer of hope for the Ptolemies: if they can pull out another big turn they might still be able to win the field, but one feels that it's now or never for them. 

Here is the board after turn 4:

Stay tuned for the next installment (which can be now be found here).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lost Battles board game up for pre-order

The long-awaited boardgame version of Lost Battles is now up for pre-order at the Fifth Column Games site here.  It contains Lost Battles, Empire, and a number of other campaign games.  If ancients is your cup of tea, get in fast!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Raphia multiplayer PBEM: background and first turn

The Battle of Raphia, fought in 217 BC between the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom, saw Ptolemy IV (Philopater) meet Antiochus III (the Great) to decide who would have control of the region of Coele-Syria.  The map below shows the geopolitical situation in the Mediterranean at 218 BC.  (except for VASSAL screenshots, all the following images are courtesy of wikimedia commons).

Our multiplayer email game of the battle sees the redoubtable Patrick W. acting as the commander-in-chief of the Seleucids, with Antipater's wing under his personal command.  He is supported by Nicarchus (Padraig L.) in the centre, Themison (John A.) on the left, and Theodotus (Iden H.) as a counsellor. 

Antiochus was not a man to be trifled with....

Under the Lost Battles rules, The Seleucid forces are represented thus:

The Right (commanded by Antipater):
2 units of Indian elephants equating to 80 beasts and 4000 men.
1 unit of veteran heavy cavalry with an average leader (Antiochus and his guard) for 1000 men.
A second veteran and an average unit of heavy cavalry representing 3000 men.
1 unit of average light infantry for 4000 men.
2 units of average phalangites equating to 8000 men.

The Centre (commanded by Nicarchus):
5 units of average phalangites and 1 unit of levy phalangites for 28,000 men.

The Left (commanded by Themison):
1 unit of Indian elephants representing 40 pachyderms and 2000 skirmishers.
2 units of levy heavy infantry equalling 16,000 troops.
1 unit of average heavy cavalry for 2000 men

The Ptolemies have myself as the commander-in-chief, Ephecretes (Yuri K.) taking the right, Andromachus (Chris G.) commanding the centre, Polycrates (Phillip G.) commanding the left, and Sosibius (Ian H.) providing wisdom.

In contrast to the steely Antiochus, Ptolemy looks as if he might prefer a good lunch to a battle... 
The Ptolemaic forces come out like this in Lost Battles:
The Left (commanded by Polycrates):
1 average commander (Ptolemy).
1 unit of veteran heavy cavalry and a unit of average heavy cavalry for 3000 men.
1 unit of African elephants representing 40 beasts and 2000 men.
1 veteran and 2 average phalanx units equating to 10,000 men.

The Centre (commanded by Andromachus):
6 units of average and 2 units of levy phalangites for a total of 40,000 men.

The Right (commanded by Ephecretes):
1 unit of African elephants representing 40 beasts and 2000 men.
1 unit of average light cavalry for 2000 men.
3 units of average phalangites equating to 12,000 men.
1 unit of average heavy infantry for 4000 men.

We used the historical set up, which is shown in the VASSAL screenshot below.  Red units are Ptolemaic, black units are Seleucid.  The Ptolemies move first in this scenario and the attack limit is 4.

A quick note on rules...

We are using the normal Lost Battles rules with a few changes to cope with the PBEM and multiplayer nature of the battle.  Players have been allowed a strategy session in which the battle plans are discussed, but once the moves start players are not permitted to discuss strategy or to share information about intentions (though we have been a little more relaxed about this first time around).

Commanders-in-chief allocate commands to the subordinate commanders (and some to himself, in Patrick's case) and the on-table commanders use those commands as they see fit.  Orders are sent to the umpire who then resolves the turn, sending out a report and screenshot to all players.   

This will continue until the battle is won or the ten turn limit is reached.

Second Turn.

The first turn of battle (actually the second turn of the game as deployment counts as a turn) saw a 6 rolled for commands, giving the Ptolemies a total of 12. Polycrates activated first with 6 commands and Ptolemy's exemptions, attacking with his veteran cavalry and scoring a hit with an all out attack which also left the Ptolemaic cavalry spent.  This cost 2 commands.

Next he double-moved the average heavy cavalry into position behind the veteran cavalry, in the left wing zone.  This also cost 2 commands.

Finally, he attacked the Seleucid right centre, leading off with phalangites.  Two hits were scored, one on each elephant unit.  This cost 2 commands and all of Ptolemy's exemptions.

Next, Andromachus activated in the centre rear, moving all his troops forward one zone at a cost of 2 commands.

Finally, Ephecretes double-moved his light cavalry to outflank the enemy wing and advanced his main line one zone, putting the average heavy infantry in the lead unit position.  This cost 4 commands in total.  The screenshot below denotes moves with black arrows, attacks with red arrows and hits with blue diamonds:

It was now the Seleucid turn.  They rolled a 5 for commands, giving them a total of 11.

Themison activated first on the left, attacking with his elephants and the infantry in support.  He scored one hit and used 3 commands.

Nicarchus in the centre used 1 command to wheel to the left to allow the Seleucids to concentrate their strength against Ephecretes' command in the following turn.

Antiochus attacked on the right, and although he fluffed his own attack the supporting cavalry didn't. The Ptolemaic veterans were shattered and Antiochus advanced into the now vacant zone, with only the AHC between him and the rear of the Ptolemaic army.

The average heavy cavalry now double-moved to join Antiochus for 2 commands, and the rest of the zone attacked Polycrates and friends.  In their attack the elephants inflicted some terrible wounds with both scoring double hits, which left all the units in the Ptolemaic left centre spent and the battle only just begun.  A glorious charge indeed!

To cement the advantage, the phalangites in reserve moved up to join Antipater in the centre right.  This is a screenshot showing the situation at the end of the Seleucid turn:

So, an eventful second turn of the battle!  Go here to read part two of the report.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...