Monday, April 30, 2012

In the Hills of Sylvania...

I had a double header of big games last weekend, first of which was my third fantasy game in a couple of weeks; for those who enjoy the variety of this blog I can assure you the next game was very different and (largely) free of fantasy elements.

Nevertheless, this particular epic was a 5000 point game of Warhammer, with my Dogs of War facing Jason's Vampire Counts at his place.  The battlefield featured many typical lowland Sylvanian sights including  dead forests, impassable rocky crags and Gothic architecture:

I was actually surprised to find that not only did I have over 5000 points of Dogs of War troops, but could easily have upped the game to more than 6000 points.  Amongst my battle line was Asarnil the Dragon Lord, The Cursed Company, Golfag's Ogres, two cannon, three units of Pike, a lot of cavalry and four mages - including Lucrezzia Belladonna.

By contrast Jason went with Lots of Ghouls, lots of Skeletons and lots of Etherals.  Some largely redundant Zombies, a pair of Varghulfs and various other units I can't retend to recall also appeared.

I won the first turn, and after Vanguard moves I was already outflanking Jason's undead.

I was quickly able to threaten the very centre of Jason's army with a seriously buffed Asarnil; Belladonna having added greatly to his stats, and other magic doing what it could to make his dragon a killing machine too.

Elsewhere dismal magic was to be the undoing of my army for the game.  I may simply be I was relying on it too much, but in reality, I only managed to successfully cast two or three spells all game; with one of those being dispelled and at least one wizard not casting a single spell all game!  Not good enough.  At least on the first turn my wizard of beast lore managed to cast irresistably the transformation of Kadon.  Now you see him:

Now you see something rather different:

For our purposes he'd become a mountain chimera; though obviously here we find they look a lot like some sort of Tyranid Carnifex with wings.

On my next turn, it charged with Golfags Ogres, and...

...Was summarily dismissed, leading to the steady destruction of the Ogres.  Of course he wouldn't have been dismissed if ANY of my other wizards could've cast a spell and forced Jason to use some dispell dice for something else.  But the useless b******'s couldn't have organised a piss-up in a Dwarven brewery!

A nice picture of Jason's new undead Mortis Engine, thing; shortly before I shot it to ribbons...

By this stage of the game the problem for the Dogs of war was the grinding match.  Every fight I engaged in led to a slow battle, which I could never get a significant upper hand in.  Dogs of War in general do not have the numbers or hitting power to inflict the necessary brutal impact on large blocks of undead.

This meant that when my limited killer units were worn down - My own undead, my Knights and Asarnil - I had to fall back on weak units which couldn't stem the tide.

And so in the last turns the battle inevitably turned to Jason; and in the end his victory was complete.

It was nonetheless interesting, as it was my first chance to see how some of the new units in the Vampire Counts list act.  I think next time I'll go for a more hitty list, Orcs and Goblins can throw out more attacks.  Though then of course Jason will use his own Dogs of War and probably whip my behind!

Ah well, it was a good entertaining game, even if staggeringly one sided.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Classic Texts: Livy's the Rise of Rome

I recently finished reading the first five books of Livy's Histories:

As with most of the classics, it is not for the style of the prose that one reads these, but for the period insight and volume of narrative.  Of course given that this covers the legendary founding of Rome and the period of kings in the first book, not all of it should be taken at face value.  However once into the period of Consuls until the end of book five - with the Celtic sack of Rome and Rome's immediate recovery - there is an awful lot of material about both the politics and wars of Rome.

From the Wargamers standpoint it is the latter that is of interest, and not only Rome but its' Latin neighbours appear to be in a constant state of warfare.  It beggars belief that any nation, never mind a city state, could sustain so many battles on a yearly basis, and sadly the sort of wider detail of society that may shed light on how this was creditable falls outside of Livy's remit.  One has to assume that in many battles losses were light, and there are a number of accounts of battles were an enemy was allowed to surrender with honour after slight or indeed no casualties to support this.

Some of the major engagements are covered in fairly precise details which would make creating scenarios for refights quite practical, but details of numbers engaged are scant so one has to draw your own conclusions.

In general it is a reasonably good and relatively easy read, though the politics can plod somewhat.  For a military historian there is a lot to digest.  A worthwhile read.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Small among the Watchtower

Ah, the return of the title puns, a pretty laboured one too; but it serves to introduce the game of Warhammer I had last week at the HEART club in Leeds.  It was my mainly Goblinoid army against the might of the High Elves, commanded by Mike.  We rolled off for a scenario in our 2000 point match up and got the Watchtower scenario:

Although I won control of the tower, I had no infantry unit small enough to occupy it at the start of the game. So my troops instead formed a solid mass before it:

The High Elves earned first turn and cheesily, but legitimately, conga-lined a unit of Swordmasters into the watchtower (as you can see, more of a house).  The Goblins advanced in turn cautiously and in the first couple of turns, action was slight.

The only thing of note really being the argument that broke out as to who was responsible for breaking the Goblin artillery:

On the flanks, the Elves largely outclassed the Goblinoid cavalry, chasing off the spider riders with ease.  But the Wolf riders proved remarkably stubborn draining Mikes reserves of time rather than manpower.  By now the Orc big uns and their warboss were smashing their way in to the tower.

The Orcs were losing a great many to magical ravages, and though the Swordmasters were done for a handful of Orcs could not hold the tower against a unit of Spears who arrived, soon subborted by Dragonhelm knights.

But the Knights found themselves under the gun of an able and feisty goblin wizard who maintained a barrage of Bad moon curses, four in the late stages of the game, to hammer any Elves who approached the tower.

Under this covering fire, Rallied goblins skittered in to the tower, evicting but a handful of despondent Elves. I then needed to roll only a 2+ to end the game and win.

Of course, I rolled a one!  and on the final turn Mike rallied another unit into the fray and the Goblins were evicted in turn.  Mike held the tower by the skin of his teeth, but that was all he needed to do to win.

Still it was a grand game, that swung wildly and balanced on a knife edge turn by turn.

Elsewhere the club was packed, and many games were going on; of note, a large number of players were enjoying Heroclix:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Trip 'Oop North'

Myself an Neil still manage to get a couple of games in a year, despite him having moved away.  On this occasion I took on the role of travelling and drove up to his family home in the Darlington area for a couple of games of Kings of War.

we found we had enough for 1750 points, and so I set to selecting my force from the realms of Men:

Mostly regiments of Pike, supported by Crossbows, Knights and Light Horse.  Plus a few Swordsmen, Ogres and a couple of characters.

By contrast Neil fielded a force of undead with a lot of infantry and cavalry.

So we set up for a straight battle and got to it after a rambling catch up on the last few months.

Neil hadn't faced a Human army before, and wasn't prepared for how it works in concert with one another.  A human general will usually have access to a great variety of cheap, competent troops, but the real key is to use units together in mutually supporting operations.  Other armies with large heavy hitting units cannot protect their flanks, as Neil was about to learn.

The Humans quickly began to encircle the undead, and used crossbow and horse archer fire to soften up priority targets.

Neil allowed himself to be drawn in to a fight with swordsmen in a ruined temple, even though my Ogres would threaten his flank if he didn't break them straight away.  With the aid of my general's inspiring presence the swordsmen lasted the one turn needed.  Leaving the Ogres ready to pounce.

On the opposite flank Pikes and Cavalry operated together to isolate and defeat in detail the undead units.  Key to using any army in Kings of War is to dictate the sequence of combat so that attacks only occur when advantageous to yourself.  There is a lot less luck involved than in Warhammer!

With much of his cavalry destroyed on his left, Neil was now on the back foot and was trying to feed in more infantry.  But it was coming in piecemeal; which was it's undoing.

The Ogres turned to smash another unit that had impulsively charged a unit of crossbows:

No across the board, the Undead found they were never fighting one unit, but two, or even three.

The multiplying factor of flank attacks, Pikes and multiple units meant that even hordes had no chance.  Again this is how the Humans operate, bait and hold, then flank.

At the end of the first game the Undead were obliterated.

After a pub lunch we had a second game and this time played for objectives stretched along a river.

I certainly benefited from some stunning dice rolls!

But in the end the Undead were able to hold two out of three objectives, for a win. They lost a lot more troops, but achieved the tactical outcomes required for victory. 

Thus honour was restored!

It's always good to get a game against Neil, and I think it was a valuable learning process for him.  Until the next time...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The First Rebels Arise

So the first of my Judeans are completed:

Everything is painted to at least three layers, i.e. base, main and highlight, though some items have a fourth layer to get the right effect.

As to the shields, I entered in to a little debate on TMP about these, but it boils down to a case of you pays your money, and you takes your choice.  Personally I considered the fact that the rebels minted their own coins, with a range of standard decoration on them interesting.  If nothing else these suggested the images that the Jews saw as identifying them selves as opposed to the Romans.  To that end these seemed like good ideas for shield designs:

And so here we have the chaps in close up:

Again the Jewish shields are a three layer colour scheme.  The letters are in the Archaic script, which according to Wikipedia was out of fashion by this date, but is in fact the only script used on the coins, and the script of the Dead Sea Scrolls, so for my money clearly the right one to use.  However I should add in this first group of models, they say only gibberish!

The Roman shields are simply the transfers provided with the Warlord games miniatures, over a green base.  One of the warriors carries his shield upside down; this is intentional, why would a Jewish warrior respect the orientation of his enemies iconography!

Lastly I would add that my attempts to randomise the bases, with one model of every pose on each, and a mix of costume colours, has somehow resulted in the shield designs becoming thematically linked on each base.  Dammit!

At this stage I've not added texture to the bases, just a four layer highlight!  This looks fine for Masada and many other parts of Israel, but I'm considering adding scorched grass and shrubs for a more mountainous look.

Overall, these didn't take too long to complete, and I think the results look pretty good.  Now I need to work on some storage options for them!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Parade - Part II: Serbia and Infantry

Here we go with part two of the collection, the notionally Serbian equipment.

As you'll gather from the group shot above, the Serbs have a better selection of heavy equipment.  Details follow below:

At the back are a pair of M84's, the improved Yugoslavian version of the T72.  These are conversions of the old(ish) Revell T80 kit, with considerable modification of the turret in particular.  Next to those are a pair of PST Models' T55a's.  In the middle are my scratch built M60p armoured carrier and a Fujimi M36 Jackson.  Yugoslavia was supplied with many of these in the 1950's, though more properly it should be the B2 variant with a light armoured cover for the turret.  The front row here is formed of two Omega -K BTR152's and a Zil 157 truck.

Here of note are another Russian model heavy truck - front and left, but in this case I cannot recall the manufacturer.  Next to it is a Skytrex, metal, BRDM-2; behind that is a Liberation Models jeep,with recoilless rifle and a ZSU23-2 AA gun.  To their left is an Ace Models BMP1; an ill-named company, as the model itself is an absolute dog!

Lastly for the models There is a Majorette Camper van and a Swat team van from Matchbox in the guise of the Serbian Police.  Behind them is a one-ton Landrover, now sold by Airfix, which does a good impression of the Pinzgauer that the Yugoslavs license built.  Alongside that is a converted Renault fire truck, produced over twenty years ago by Heller, now almost certainly not available.  Then at the back is my Ace Models SAM2 and an Omega-K  BTR152K command vehicle.

I have hundreds of infantry models, and most of them are 20mm plastics, mainly from ESCI/Italieri, Orion, Airfix and Matchbox, there are a handful of metal models, which are repaints of things I'd had kicking around from way back too; these are mainly old Platoon20 miniatures.

Above are some of my Croat Tiger Battalion, paint and slight physical conversions of Matchbox Royal Marines; a classic set.  The Tiger battalion was well provided with foreign equipment, and whilst this set of figures may not be perfect matches, they are close enough, and have the advantage of having Berets!

Here is a Serbian militia mortar operated by an Orion Modern Russians crew.  The mortar itself is a rather simple Matchbox model.

More of the Orion Russians above in the role of Croatian Regulars.  Note the archetypal Croatian army camouflage modelled I believe on German equipment of the period.