Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Denmark Strait

Today saw a spot of naval action as Pat H. made the trip down to house Prufrock for a day of gaming. First up was the boardgame Flying Colors, in which Pat gave me an absolute thrashing at the Dogger Bank, 1781. He broke my line, killed my admiral, sank two of my ships and utterly demolished my poor Dutch. I think I need to work on my tactics!

For the second game we tried out Naval Thunder, employing some newly launched vessels from out of the Navwar yards.

Prinz Eugen and Bismarck observe the enemy.

Long range shot from Bismarck immediately disabled Hood's main turret forward, which gave rise to hopes of a quick ending, but Hood was made of stern stuff today. Events soon settled into a routine: Hood and Prince of Wales would bracket Bismarck with shell; the German monster would pound Hood; her assistant Prinz Eugen would worry Prince of Wales.

Hood and Prince of Wales under fire.

As flood and engine damage slowed Hood down, she switched her fire to Prinz Eugen.

Prinz Eugen herself caused an ammunition explosion on Prince of Wales with a lucky shot.

Prince of Wales fighting fires.

Hood then returned the favour, setting Prinz Eugen temporarily ablaze.

Prinz Eugen gets a taste of her own medicine.

A the ranges close, Prince of Wales' fire on Bismarck begins to find its mark more regularly. There is a bridge hit; flooding; explosions in secondary armament. Hood abruptly turns away from the fight, but even so Bismarck is forced to switch fire from the Hood to give Prince of Wales something to think about.

Both German ships continue to fire on Hood. Finally, she sinks beneath the waves. But Prince of Wales has used this time to absolutely pound Bismarck.

Last sighting of the valiant Hood.

Prince of Wales is now on her own, but it may not matter: Bismarck is in difficulty. She is flooded, on fire, and a main gun turret is out of action.

Prince of Wales has Bismarck's range.

Bismark attempts to run, but, increasingly waterlogged, it becomes apparent that she must sink Prince of Wales or be sunk herself. Accordingly, she turns back to the fight. Meantime, Prinz Eugen, who has been attempting with some success to distract Prince of Wales, closes to torpedo range.

Bismarck survives another barrage of hits, but Prince of Wales must be close to her limit as well.

Eugen fires and awaits the results of her handiwork.

Torpedoes away...

The crew of Bismarck holds its collective breath...

And the torpedo strikes. Prince of Wales breaks in two!

The Germans have won the day, but it has been a painful fight, and there is a lot of work needed to stabilise Bismarck for the necessary run back to safety and repair. She is just ten hull points off sinking; another broadside would likely have been the end of her. Prinz Eugen is hurt but in comparatively good shape. It will be a long journey home, and they will be the hunted....


Flying Colors I already know and like, but I thought Naval Thunder gave a cracking game. It is fairly fast moving, and although it took a while to get through the turns, it was a first game, and the ships involved were tough old nuts to crack. I'm very keen to get more ships painted for this, and will need to figure out the rules a little better (I've already found a couple of critical things we (more likely I) did wrong, and once I've done this I'll probably do a fuller review.

It was a rush to get the ships finished in time (and the basing is still of the temporary variety), but necessity is the mother of invention, and the urgency helped me to get past my 1/3000 painters block and just get on with it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Caesar at Munda

And now to a battle report. Munda, Caesar's last victory, was the scenario. As usual, the rules used were Lost Battles, but I did tweak the scenario slightly.

Caesar's account gives the impression that he was trying to tempt the Pompeians to come down off their hill onto the plain, while the Pompeians for their part were trying to induce Caesar to attack them in their hilltop position.

To reflect the tension over this, I would dice each turn until one side gave in and advanced. I also decided to dice for other potentially critical moves, such as the timing of cavalry charges on the wings.

Finally, I downgraded Caesar from a brilliant general to an inspirational one because he didn't seem to do anything particularly tricky at Munda except for nearly lose. The two armies were therefore very closely matched, with Caesar's just superior at a fighting value of 90 versus the 83 of Pompeius Jr. and Labienus.

Turn 1: 

Deployment, as described by Phil Sabin in Strategos II. Caesar has all-veteran legions; Gnaeus and Labienus have a mixture of average and veteran. Caesar has the edge in cavalry, but the Pompeians the edge in position.

Turn 2: 

Gnaeus adjusts the positioning of his wings, but does not advance off the heights. Bogud takes his Numidians to the far right wing. Caesar brings all the troops forward, with unrulier elements shouting at their opponents to come on down and fight.

"Come down here and fight!"

"How about you come HERE and fight!"

Turn 3: 

Gnaeus and his men remain on the hill. Caesar's also remain in place, continuing to indulge in 'banter' with the enemy.

Turn 4: 

They've had enough. Gnaeus senses the dissatisfaction in his ranks and brings his men down off the hill. The cavalry wings remain in place with one legion to reinforce the right flank and another to stay on the hill and support the left.

Caesar gleefully attacks, and a third of the Pompeian legions are spent in the first onslaught.

Turn 5: 

The Pompeians recover from the first attack and strike strongly at the Caesarian centre. Elsewhere, however, they make no progress.

Caesar hits Gnaeus' command again, putting him in a precarious position and in need of reinforcement. On the right, Bogud advances with his horse. Although the attack is against Caesar's better judgement (a 6 is rolled in answer to my 'will he or won't he?' question), he drives off the light infantry, so the great man is not unhappy.

Turn 6: 

The Spanish cavalry take the attack to Bogud, hitting the Numidians in a powerful countercharge. Disaster is avoided only by Bogud's personal intervention. Gnaeus, given the fragility of his position, pulls his command back onto the hill. Not only will it buy time and space, but it will break up the continuity of Caesar's infantry line and so prevent him from being able to easily relocate reserve legions to needy areas.

Caesar follows up, but is forced to leave one legion behind as a reserve. The fighting continues along the line.

Turn 7: 

The cavalry strikes Bogud again. Once more he rallies, but the attack on that wing is proving to be a drain on Caesarian resources. In the centre, the Pompeians push, and, catching the veterans at a bad moment, maul them badly. One unit shatters, and Caesar is obliged to find reserves for two places at once.

Turn 8: 

Inspired by the success of the centre, Gnaeus' command also falls upon the enemy with renewed vigour. Another unit is shattered in the centre before the reinforcements can move into line, and Caesar is now under genuine pressure. Bogud is again hit, but this time cannot rally his men, and they too are now in a precarious state.

The veteran legionaries of Caesar's centre-left restore calm by shattering a unit under Labienus' command. Seeing this, and knowing that the Pompeians have weakened their right to strengthen the centre, the Gallic cavalry of the left judges it an opportune moment to engage. An all-out-attack sees them clear the light infantry from the foward slopes of the hill, but it is harder going against the Spanish cavalry.

Turn 9: 

Following the loss of his lead unit (and the example of Gnaeus), Labienus also pulls his command back onto the hill. On the opposite end of the infantry line Gnaeus scores another hit against Caesar, who must commit yet another of his fast-dwindling reserves.

The Spanish cavalry on both wings now turn their position to account: a double hit on Bogud's zone sees him killed and his command destroyed; while on the right, the cavalry on the hill perform similar feats, shattering the lead Gallic unit and forcing the other to flee.

The tide has surely now turned in favour of the Pompeians.

In such a desperate situation, Caesar is heard to say that he must fight now not for glory, but for his life. The men respond, shattering one of Gnaeus' units, and another in the centre.

Bogud hit and killed.

The Gallic cavalry swept away.

Desperate times for both sides, but Caesar has lost his cavalry.

Turn 10: 

The Pompeians seize the moment, shattering two more units, in Caesar's zone and (again) in the centre. But Caesar's men are veterans, and do not run.

The cavalry comes down off the hill to engage the light infantry, and the other cavalry outflank Caesar himself.

The Caesarians strike back by shattering two units in the centre and centre-left. Suddenly fearing a rout, the Spanish cavalry skedaddle, easing the pressure on Caesar's zone somewhat.

(In normal Lost Battles the game would be up after ten turns, but this is not normal Lost Battles, so we continue.)

Turn 11: 

Troubles multiply for Caesar: three shattering hits are inflicted on his centre. His veterans are too stubborn to rout, but he can muster nothing in return.

Turn 12: 

The Spanish cavalry shatter the light infantry. The coup de grace sees the centre give way, and all, for Caesar, is darkness.

And in this manner was Caesar defeated, hunted down by his enemies, and slain.

Caesar's last battle indeed.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

In the wargaming life, is there anything better?

Is there any greater reward for a wargamer than time to oneself on Christmas eve, with the children asleep, the house quiet, work done for the year, and a chance, beer in hand, to set up a game?

Finishing the painting of an army may perhaps just pip it, but it's a nice feeling.

Compliments of the season to you all!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Painting spree: Crusaders and Thebans

With 2016 winding down there has been a flurry of hobby room activity as I frantically try to improve my painting total for the year.

Crusaders of the Miniature Wars range from Italy:

Easy to prep and nice to paint. Spears were a little spindly, but life's too short to bother replacing them with wire (MMV, of course).

Xyston Thebans:

A bit of a mission to prep, and I had real painter's block with these. It was the shields that were the problem; I just couldn't paint a satisfactory club for love or money. In the end, I decided to mix symbols and just get them painted. A few snakes, a few goblets, a few minotaurs, some clubs that were less atrocious than others, a few plain coloured, and there they are. I'm not very happy with them but a bit of flock and a game or two and I'm sure they'll grow on me.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Delving into the lead pile.

After work this afternoon my lovely wife told me to go hide away in the hobby room for a while and have some time to myself.

With a game approaching in a couple of weeks and realising (not for the first or likely the last time in my life) that I don't have as many phalangites painted up for it as I'd like, I pulled out a storage box or two and took to the contents with file and glue.

Naturally, that made me think of other related lead pile denizens. The Achaemenids came to mind. Would it be worth, I wondered, painting some of them up for Successor battles, as Redzedz did for Simon Miller and his upcoming Ipsos game?

Four hours later, the hobby room was strewn with bits and pieces.

Old Glory Persians (and Xyston, almost forgot!)....

Xyston phalangites....


... and Thebans.

It's nice to have a few more things prepped, but already I'm starting to think I won't get all of my unpainted material done in this lifetime!

Thursday, December 15, 2016


It's been some time between painting posts, but with the New Year break approaching a light has appeared at the end of the work tunnel and instead of the grim struggle to get through each day, week and month dominating one's thought, there is a daily-strengthening interior voice that goes something like 'oh, good, game day is approaching!'

To that end, I've been clearing up a few odds and ends.

I tried to clear up about a hundred Celts, but that turned out to be beating a fragile head against a plaid wall, and I thought, to paraphrase Robert Plant, 'little Gauls, I'm gonna have to put you down for a while.'

Thankfully, there were a few Miniature Wars (ex-Strategia-e-Tattica) Crusaders in one of the primed boxes to get to grips with. These will do double duty as Normans (I know, a little dubious, but I don't have any other figures that can pass for Norman foot).

Another night or two should see them finished, and the painting tally may end up being added to before the year is done after all.

Monday, December 12, 2016

'Armies of the Middle Ages' found!

Thanks to Cyrus (of Satrap Miniatures blog fame) and his recent kind comment here advising me to check out Abe Books, two essential wargaming tomes that I'd given up hope of getting my hands on (for a price I could kind of justify to my wife and kids, at least!) have been found, and are making their way to this part of the world.

The WRG books are so good that I don't know how I ever managed without them. In fact, looking at my early painting efforts, the truth is I didn't manage, and I have been slowly repainting those first figures ever since.

I don't quite have the full set yet, but as the two I still need have been reprinted, it is not the impossibility that it until recently seemed.

Now to finish off a few other things so that I can clear the painting table for business.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hundred Years War books

About a year ago now I picked up a couple of armies for the Hundred Years War from Black Hat Miniatures. It's not really my area, and my usual method of sorting myself out (that is, 'consult appropriate WRG Armies and Enemies books') will not work, because finding a copy of the Armies of the Middle Ages is a bit of a tough ask.

In an effort to make some progress I decided to ask the good folks at the Society of Ancients and more good fellows on TMP for some assistance in choosing books to help a brother gearing up to paint.

After some very helpful suggestions, I've ended up plumping for the following:

The Armies of Agincourt,  The Armies of Crecy and Poitiers, French Armies of the Hundred Years War, The Armies of Medieval Burgundy - all Ospreys - and a one-volume history of the war, The Hundred Years War: The English in France, 1337-1453, that was recommended by a kind chap on TMP.

There have also been some excellent internet resources suggested, and I'll link to them now so that I don't forget, and because they might be useful for others as well. Thanks are due to Duncan Head and Anthony Clipsom for suggesting these.

Period illustrations are here ("Armour in Art" section as well as manuscripts) and on Druzhina's site here and, for example, here.

Flags are here and can be used for coats of arms on surcoats and shields.

Historical articles can be found here, and include some famous names.

The Internet Achives site has downloadable versions of Froissart, and I must particularly thank Jarrovian on TMP for bringing him to my attention.

Books to look for in future to help with the painting include Funcken's Age of Chivalry 1, the Almark Agincourt book, and Friar and Ferguson's Basic Heraldry.

For the history, Jonathan Sumption's series comes highly recommended, as do a couple of other books, The Agincourt War and The Crecy War, by Alfred H Burne.

So that gives us quite a bit to go on. The Book Depository order should be here in time for Christmas, so, all going well there will be the chance for a bit of learning to go on!

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