Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Tying up a loose end

Back in 2007, when I was living in Japan and my passion for Commands & Colors: Ancients was at its height, I took a 'partscaster'* version of the original back to New Zealand on holiday with a view to introducing the old man to it. 

He loved it. So much so that he ordered in copies of the original game and the first expansion from the US. He bought a folding table sized just right and sourced some large plastic containers to store the blocks in orderly, easy-access fashion. When I went back to NZ thereafter we would play his copies and we roped one of my brothers in to play as well. There were some great times, with that good-humoured banter that you get when playing games with members of your family. 

That was before the old man got sick. After he got sick, we went back to playing Catan, and later Carcassone. When he got really sick we moved back to New Zealand to spend time with him. Well, strictly speaking, I moved back to find a job and house so that we could bring my wife and the kids over, but things moved too fast for the family to get here in time. One of the last things I did gaming-wise with him was paint up some 20mm figures to make a 'partscaster' version of the Desert Raiders of Catan variant. He was proud of the figures but I think we only got to play about three times before it became too hard for him to muster the concentration needed to play.

When he passed away things were pretty raw for a while. I asked Mum if I could have his Commands & Colors games and a couple of other things. They've sat on my shelves for about four years.

My brother, who lives in Australia, every now and then gives me a video call for a catch up and a few drinks when he is back on shore (he skippers a fishing boat). Earlier this year he mentioned C&C:A and we talked about how much fun those games had been. He said he'd love to play again. I said I'd kept the old man's copies and would get them to him.

It turns out that Mum is heading over to Australia to visit Stu and his family for Christmas. Miracle of miracles, she has a bit of room in her suitcase and is happy to take the games over to him. I packed up everything in the original box and left the expansion box empty so Mum can see if she can fill it with socks or something and squeeze that in as well. She reckons she can.

The old man's giant plastic storage boxes are too big to send so I am keeping them here. I put all my blocks into them tonight.

My C&C:A collection now stored in the old man's containers.

It's a strange thing, but it feels like a bit of a weight off the shoulders. I guess it has resolved something that was perhaps more important that I had realised. 

Anyway, I've got us tickets to see Iron Maiden in Auckland in September, so we will be able to talk it through in person!

* for the non-guitarists out there, a 'partscaster' is an electric guitar you put together out of bits from different guitars, or that you assemble yourself from a kit.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Zama with Lost Battles

Old school mate SP was free tonight so we arranged to play a wargame. Being a bit tired of the various iterations of Undaunted, it seemed like a good opportunity to set up a game of Lost Battles, and Zama an excellent choice to blood my new Carthaginian elephants. 

Simon took the Romans. They are more straightforward to manage when it has been some time between games, and I was quite happy to have some nellies under my command again!

We used the historical scenario rather than the free deployment version to speed things up. To briefly describe the situation, both armies have a core of veteran infantry, but the Romans have significant cavalry superiority, and the Carthaginians have had to bring in less able troops to make up numbers, these not being a match for the veteran legionaries. 

Carthage hopes to hold out on the flanks as long as possible, damage the Roman veterans to score points, and maintain a bit of flexibility to respond to circumstances as they develop. For Rome the plan is to negate the elephants with light infantry, hold with the legions, win on the flanks, and grind the Carthaginian infantry down. 

View from the Carthaginian right during turn 2.

And view from the left.

It begins well enough for Carthage - a smattering of successes as the elephants and cavalry engage. Hannibal, feeling the pressure to hurt Rome fast, attacks with desperation; by contrast, Scipio, whose initial anti-elephant tactics prove wickedly adept, relaxes into a watchful and measured prosecution of the battle.

The elephants have been beaten back, injurious to their own side, by the Roman skirmishers.

The battle develops a pattern - ambitious Carthaginian efforts thwarted by careful Roman response, then countered by Roman riposte. In this way the Carthaginian right wing is bested. The Roman line, tested in the centre and on the right, holds. The Numidians on the other wing, countrymen matched against one another, circle and feint.   

The Roman heavy cavalry breaks through.

Carthage pulls infantry from the line to prevent cavalry encirclement at the very moment Rome presses with the legions. The cavalry breakthrough is contained, but the line buckles. Everywhere Carthage strives for effect, but everywhere it is held just short of success.

Hannibal urges the men on.

Carthage's last infantry reserves are thrown in - the veterans of the Italian campaign. Again, Rome holds. 

But on the left there is success at last - Masinissa is threatened by Hannibal's Numidians. One more hit will bring the wing to crisis. The hit does not come.

The fight on the Carthaginian left.

All along the line the pressure mounts. 

Rome outlasting Carthage in the infantry fight, but there is hope on our left.

Abruptly, Masinissa breaks his opponent. He is through! Hannibal pulls elephants back to head off the victorious horse.

The cavalry is contained - just - but the main line is weakening.

Rome remains steadfast. Hannibal rallies his troops under pressure. On the right, there is a chance to see off the Roman cavalry.

One chance! But Rome passes the test.

And with that, the line collapses. Multiple hits in multiple locations have driven the Carthaginian army to breaking point.

The left and right centres have been denuded of troops. The collapse starts on the right, and all run.

The moment just before Carthage is swept away.

And Scipio takes the battle and the points, 116 to 83. A clear victory.

Well done to SP. He played a strong, calm hand. He used favour of the gods rerolls judiciously, aiming to reduce potential damage over pressing for success, and kept giving himself chances to hurt me until eventually he did.

It was a tense, exciting game throughout. I felt I was just one good turn away from doing some serious damage, but SP made sure that that turn never came.

Really good to play Lost Battles again, and SP is keen to go again as soon as we are able.

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