Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, August 28, 2017

More grist to the Dux Bellorum mill

I am very happy to report a new batch of figures done. These are in fact the first figures I've managed to get painted all year, which is pretty poor, even by my generally miserable standards!

They are a mix of Essex 15mm Dark Age cavalry and Frankish cavalry and were the last lot to do for my Normans/Saxons/Vikings Dux Bellorum project. I say Dux Bellorum, but they can be used for any 'unit-based' rules-sets, such as the Neil Thomas rules, Impetus, or whatever.

They had been sitting in a box for quite a while. I don't know if you've ever had that feeling after you've made a big push to get most of a project done that the bits and pieces - the non-essentials - can be quite a bit of a mental hurdle. It's not so bad if it's twelve generic foot or something, but when it's 30 cavalry it's a little more than just a night's work! Anyway, I couldn't face doing so many leftovers in one go after having maxed out on Normans, Vikings and Saxons, so into a box they went.

But they've been done in the end. For this project I've been using a simple dip method: block colours in, give a darker wash for horse tails etc, then give everything my acrylic dip treatment. I may then highlight a very select few things (the odd cloak, a leader's helmet, but that's it), base on 60x40, and hit the varnish. It really does help get troops on the table.

Anyway, here they are. Still needing their matt varnish and flock, but aside from that, done. Phew! The year is still young - could even get a few more batches done...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Project Management

I've finally picked up the paintbrush again this week and am back thinking about how much painting there is left for me to get through.

When I first started wargaming my ambition was to be able to field Romans and Carthaginians. After I met Luke Ueda-Sarson and was introduced to his magnificent Naismith Macedonian army, it became apparent that I needed Macedonians as well. But from such modest beginnings, as we all well know, ambitions just tend to expand.

Looking at all of my unpainted or half-painted stuff, I've been trying to think what I would be satisfied with. By satisfied, I mean feeling that I would never need to paint another thing again, except perhaps to replace something that broke, or to get an extra unit of something here or there for a particular occasion.

Anyway, this is what I've come up with. If I had all these done, I could officially retire the paintbrushes.

Ancients (15mm):
Mid-Republican Romans; late Republican Romans (x2); Carthaginians; Iberians; Gauls; Greeks (x2); Macedonians/Successors (x2); Persians.

Dark Ages (15mm):
Saxons; 'Arthurians'; late Romans (East and West); Vikings; Normans; Bretons.

Medieval (15mm):
Crusaders; Saracens; 100 Years War English; 100 Years War French; Burgundian allies.

Age of Rifles (1:72):
Union; Confederates.

20th Century (1:300):
WWII Commonwealth; WWII US; WWII Germans; '70s-'80s US; '70s-'80s Russians; '70-'80s British

Naval (1:3000):
Japanese, US, British & German fleets for WWII actions.

Air (1:600):
British, German, US & Japanese for WWII actions

Fantasy (28mm):
Dwarves; Orcs and Goblins

I would dearly love Wars of the Roses, English Civil War, 7 Years War and Napoleonic armies as well, but I think that would be just getting ridiculous.

So how am I looking in terms of completion? Well, I'm about a third of the way to where I'd like to be. Chances are therefore that I'll never reach the 'fully satisfied' stage!

It would be interesting to hear from other wargamers how close to 'fully satisfied' they might be.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Colin Meads, 1936-2017

In very sad news back home, one of the great New Zealanders passed away this morning. Colin Earl Meads was a rugby union superstar of the late 50s through the early 70s who ever after epitomised the game in New Zealand and, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, represented the post-war New Zealander in excelsius.

Meads, nicknamed Pinetree, was a giant of the amateur era who brought speed, ball skills and a toughness to his rugby which the New Zealand game has been trying to live up to ever since.

Until rugby turned professional, Meads was the most-capped All Black, and as well as being a mythic figure in his own right, his partnership with his brother Stan, who also played lock forward, was a legendary combination for King Country and All Black rugby.

Modest and unaffected, Colin Meads was inspirational for those around him. In an era when violence was an essential part of the game, he was the man who would never give an inch. It seems brutal now, but in those days you needed men in your team who would give as much as they received and would never back down from a physical confrontation.

There are many stories about Meads the rugby player - playing South Africans with a broken arm; exacting revenge upon a Frenchman who opening up his head with a boot only to find at game end he'd been wreaking vengeance upon the wrong player - but one of my favourites is that told by Wilson Whineray, the great All Black captain, during the Colin Meads episode of the TV show This is Your Life (12 mins in for the segment).

As Whineray tells it, during the fourth test against the Springboks in 1965 (this of course being before replacement players were allowed in rugby), brother Stan had taken a heavy knock to the head and was receiving medical attention.

Whineray went over to him and said something like "Stan, we'll manage. Take a minute. Half-time's coming up; get yourself right."

Then Colin Meads walked over and took charge.

"How are you feeling, Stan?" he asked.

"Not too good, Pinetree," was the reply.

"Well," said Colin, "you'd better get good in a hurry. We've got to lock a scrum for New Zealand in a few minutes. We've never gone backwards before, and we're not going to start now."

Brother Stan got back to his feet, joined his brother in the scrum, and the All Blacks went on to win the match and the series.

After his rugby career Meads remained a well-known personality in his home town and in New Zealand as a whole. He belonged to the same small rugby club all his life, would have a beer after the game in the clubrooms just like anybody else, and would sign autographs or chat with admirers any time.

He did not make any money from playing rugby, instead earning his living on the family farm. In later years he got the chance to do some television commercials, but until times got hard for him he would donate the money to charity, particularly the IHC. Not only did he quietly donate his own TV fees to these charities, but he would personally go door-to-door gathering donations and selling raffle tickets in the evenings to raise further funds for them.

It was estimated in 1988 that he had raised several hundred thousand dollars for IHC on his own.

There were inevitably disappointments in his life, and there were some incidents of foul play committed on the field which he apparently later regretted. Famously, he was the first (and until about two months ago) the only New Zealander to be sent off in a rugby test match, and he thenceforth exchanged yearly postcards with the referee who did so, which is perhaps a measure of the man. Hard on the field, but held no grudges off it. He made no complaints, and earned the respect of team-mates and opponents around the world.

When New Zealand was in the running to hold the Rugby World Cup of 2011, and the International Rugby Board negotiations were in the balance, it was Colin Meads who was brought in to undertake some last-gasp bar-room diplomacy with his old rivals.

Needless to say, it worked, and New Zealand won the right to host the cup.

Rest well, Pinetree. No more scrums to lock, games to win, speeches to give or raffle tickets to sell, but he will always be remembered as one of the greatest his country has produced.

Photo sourced here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Crimisus video report

Well, after several attempts - including a turn by turn report which I was forced to discard when I realised I had inadvertently cut my head out of the picture for the last six turns! - I've posted a video report of the battle mentioned in my previous post. It's not perfect by any means (no one should have to hear as many 'ums' in their entire lifetime as they are going to hear in this video!) but I'll take away a few points I can work on for next time (if indeed there is a next time).

I would normally post a few photos at this point for the people (and I number myself amongst them) who as a rule hate watching video of twits waffling about wargames, but the memory card was full, so the video is all there is, sorry.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Crimissos underway

It's the Obon holiday here in Japan, so with a few days off I've set up a classroom for the Lost Battles version of Crimissos (Crimissus, Crimisos, Crimisus, or however else you want to spell it!) to follow on from the Commands and Colors: Ancients game last week.

It takes quite a different approach, with the river here positioned along the Carthaginian baseline (and tributaries flowing across the field) rather than being on one flank as in the CCA scenario.

Am looking forward to it, and may even do a little video report if the stars align.

From behind the Syracusan lines. The Carthagians have been surprised and most of their troops start off-table, behind the river. 

The centre of the field.

From the Carthaginian left.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Commands and Colors action

I don't know how long it's been between drinks (I could check, but can't be bothered), but we finally got a miniatures game in at house Prufrock. Old friend Commands and Colors: Ancients was pulled out - even if in much reduced state, since almost all of its component parts currently reside in New Zealand - and the Crimissos River scenario  set up.

Timoleon and his Syracusans had a nasty hand first up. Of the five cards, two were for cavalry only, and given that they only had one cavalry unit on the board, these would be of limited use. The other cards were order two right and a pair of coordinated attacks.

The formidable Syracusan centre: two leaders and four units of heavy infantry.

Timoleon's plan would be to harrass the Carthaginians with missiles where possible, consolidate the line and wait for cards to show up that would allow him to get his powerful centre into battle.

The battlefield from behind the Syracusan left.

Hasdrubal had different concerns. With more than half of his army sitting useless behind the Crimissos, he would use his hand (a few order x centre and right, a line command and a very useful leadership +3 card) to shuffle as many troops across the river as possible before the main clash began.

The river would be a problem throughout: units stop upon entering, and are especially vulnerable while in the river. They must be activated at least twice to get over said watery barrier and into the battle proper. With units especially vulnerable while in a river hex, the Syracusans would have a good opportunity to block the Carthaginian advance and force Hasdrubal to waste cards on moving when he would rather be attacking.

The battle began as the commanders planned: the Syracusans advanced their light infantry to take pot-shots at their opponents and the Carthaginians tried to get people into and then across the water.

Early happenings.

Both sides when possible pulled their troops in closer so as to take advantage of any leadership cards that came up. Hasdrubal used order light troops to bring his Iberian infantry in to support the Sacred Band; Timoleon - to his great delight - drew a double time card which would allow him to move all four of his heavy infantry two hexes into contact at a time of his choosing.

Both lines consolidate. And hatch plans...

Hasdrubal, for his big push, had that leadership +3 card (leader's unit plus three others) and an order heavy troops (the Sacred Band and the chariots), which would allow two turns of strong attacks against Timoleon's line. But complicating matters was the fact that Timoleon had two leaders, so all defensive dice rolls would, in effect, be at plus one no matter where he directed his attacks.

The tension builds...
After a little more to-ing and fro-ing, Timoleon felt the moment had come and played his double time card. His heavies advanced, not against the Sacred Band of might and fame, but against the unfortunate Iberians who had just struggled across the river.

The battle proper commences.

Unprepared for what hit them, one unit of Iberians was destroyed, another was driven off, and Hasdrubal's guard unit suffered one hit. In return, Timoleon's heavies took four hits of their own, so despite the rude shock, honours ended up being fairly even.

After the first attack.

Several turns of attack and counter-attack now followed as both sides strove to inflict five kills on the enemy and claim the victory.

Once the lines are in contact in CnC:A, the battles are rapid and bloody...

Unfortunately for him, when Hasdrubal did use his Leadership card to bring the heavies into the action, the defensive qualities of the Syracusans proved equal to the task. The peltasts, rather than being destroyed, were merely driven off, and only one unit of heavy infantry was lost.

Casualties mount, but the peltasts (phew!) are fortunate to escape with a retreat result. 

With the scores now 3-2 in favour of the Syracusans and the centres of both sides in a fragile state, Timoleon plays an order two centre card to bring Timoleon into action against Hasdrubal and the cavalry in against the heavy chariots.

Order two centre...

It's a move attended by some risk. Timoleon needs only one hit to destroy Hasdrubal's unit, but the cavalry attacking the chariots is a gamble. In the cavalry's favour is the fact that the chariots are not adjacent to Hasdrubal, and so do not get his leadership bonus; against that is the fact that chariots are, well, chariots.

There is some tension as the dice rolls come in... but the cavalry clean the chariots up with two good hits.

The cavalry saves the day!

Then, being medium cavalry, they are allowed to add insult to injury and charge Hasdrubal himself. They score the required hit and the day is Timoleon's. Yay for the Greeks.

The final result is 5 banners to 2, but it was not quite as comfortable a victory as it sounds. The main difference was the fact that the Syracusans had two leaders, allowing them to a) concentrate force more effectively on attack and b) 'battle back' more effectively on defence.

So, a good fun solo game to get back into this wargaming caper with again, and it was nice to be able to use the man cave in righteous fashion, with beer to hand, a bit of music on, and figures on the table!

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