Sunday, 4 April 2010

Kadesh refight

About time we started using the blog again.
Last Friday we did a trial refight of Kadesh using FoG rules. It was intended as a study to work out the possibility of a definitive game, possibly as a long game with many units per side.
Kadesh is one of the best known ancient battles and many wargamers want to try it on the table. There have been several books and many articles written about this battle and it is widely regarded as the best recorded battle of the bronze age.
Troy could perhaps make such a claim but has long been regarded by scholars as mostly mythical, yet evidence is currently hardening that the city known to archaeology as Troy VI could be Homer's 'strong towered Ilios'. This is much disputed and others prefer Troy VII as the candidate but at least the assumption that the 'Illiad' was a novel is being overturned.

Back to Kadesh.
The history of the campaign is well known and the Osprey Campaign book Kadesh offers an interpretation. Pharaoh Ramses II marched his army in 4 divisions as far as the environs of Kadesh. The lead division Amun encamped on the plain south of the city. The following division P'Re was marching to join Amun and the other divisions were out of touch to the rear. On the Egyptian right flank the river Orontes must have seemed to offer flank protection (so it seems to me).

The Hittites were massed beyond the Orontes apparently unknown to the Egyptians. Such a monumental failure of reconnaissance is very hard to account for so perhaps the Egyptians had an idea that the Hittites were there but assumed the Orontes was unfordable. The story of spies being questioned may be true but does not really explain the lack of scouting by the Egyptians.

Our game began with Amun encamped and P'Re marching towards them. At this point slightly over half the Hittites thundered across the plain trying to catch P'Re at a disadvantage. P'Re managed to deploy in line and awaited the thundering herd of Hittite heavy chariotry. They were over-matched by the Hittites and started to loose cohesion although one of the Hittite chariot units was turned back by archery. The Egyptian light chariots were broken by superior numbers of Hittite light chariots after a stubborn fight. As Hittite numbers started to pile in it became obvious that P'Re would be overwhelmed. The survivors began fleeing towards the camp of Amun and it was only now that units from Amun advanced to aid P'Re.
Meanwhile a counter had been running down to the arrival of an Egyptian force known as the Ne'arin. These appeared in the rear of the Egyptian camp and began to flow around forming a very strong right wing for Ramses. The arrival of the Ne'arin was the signal for the remainder of the Hittites to thunder across the plain with the intention of taking the camp. These Hittites made no attempt to keep infantry together with the chariots and the foot soldiers were soon left behind to take no part in the battle.
The second wave of Hittites was met by Pharaoh himself commanding an elite Royal Guard of chariots and some medium troops alongside Sherdan heavy infantry. The medium troops found trouble standing against the heavy chariots but the Sherdans held their ground. Ramses inspired his squadron and they held out against the heavier Hittite chariots. I had assumed that the elite chariots lead by Pharaoh would win easily but the melee went back and forth.
This is how we finished the evening with Pharaoh playing a hero's role fighting in the front rank of his Guard. The Hittite king Muwatallish observed the battle from beyond the Orontes.
The Egyptians had done enough to justify carving a relief on the club house, I assume they can afford a stone mason.

The refight was entertaining but the scenario broke down into a sequential type game that resulted in players being unengaged for quite long periods. We shall make some fine tuning adjustments to any subsequent game.
Each Egyptian division should have 2 generals to help command and assist in the fighting. The Hittites should probably have 3 generals per wave.
This makes slightly larger divisions practical so the unit count should increase by about 50% and this may be an improvement.
The Hittite second wave should enter the fight before the Ne'arin. It's a close call but may just be more authentic and allow the Hittites to contact the camp of Amun.
The division of P'Re may do better by fleeing towards the camp of Amun before contact rather than standing to fight. It seemed to me that an outnumbered force could chose this option of trying to concentrate with friends before facing the Hittites. Within the existing scenario this manoeuvre might just come off, again a very close call though. I wonder if this was what P'Re were trying to do historically.

In total the Hittites deployed 46 chariots and the Egyptians 24. So far so good.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Them at Milton Keynes Show

We took our new game 'Them' to Campaign 09 at Milton Keynes yesterday. It is basically Big Battles Hordes of the Things modified to suit our demonstration. There were 3 commands per side Giant Ants against the 1950's US Army, in 20mm scale so we used 60mm base frontages.
There was lots of interest from gamers and unsuspecting shoppers since the venue is in a open plaza in the shopping complex. We spent much of the time explaining the idea of wargaming to some, details of the rules to others and we even had participants (only 3 but that's good for MK on a Sunday).
The game moved slowly but that suited our purpose and it was quite a relaxed game certainly compared with previous hectic show games. I think we did a good job of showing off the hobby and the very low cost of the figures (about £5 for the ant army) took some people by surprise. I went out of my way to emphasise the low cost because I think cost is a barrier to people starting out in gaming. One guy, who I think was familiar with the Starship Trooper insects, said to me that all those ants must have cost a fortune. I bet people will be scouring the cheap shops for toy ants!
The game itself started on the ants right flank as the US troops advanced purposefully. All seemed under control until a Big Soldier Ant (Beast in HoTT terms) lunged out of bad going and struck down the US general commanding that flank. Fortunately for the Americans they were ahead on points destroyed so there was no immediate collapse. A methodical attack with all arms slowly ground down the ants element by element although endless numbers of reinforcing hordes scurried to the defence of the right wing. The US fighters and bomber (fliers and airboats) harrassed the open flank picking off elements and the tanks (knights) advanced boldly with artillery support. In the end the irreplacable loss of Soldier ants (beasts) and finally the winged general caused a collapse. We froze the action here and engaged the next pair of armies.
This proved to be a tougher job for the US troops with the inspired ant assault lead by the Queen herself. Self-propelled artillery, a tank and the general in a jeep fell before the onslought.
We once again froze the action and took up the final pair of armies.
These were mostly played by a couple of gamers who wanted to join in. They did a creditable job although heavily coached from the touchlines. The ants were defeated after some particularly stubborn hand to hand fighting with tanks. By chance crucial melees were drawn move after move, even though the odds favoured the tanks, but it did increase uncertainty about who was likely to emerge victorious.

We had made changes to the system of play in order to better demonstrate the mechanisms and it had the desired effect.We shall bill this as a participation game for Valhalla.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Redcoats on the Red Planet - Part II

Last Friday we had a run through of the game we are taking to salute on the 28th.

As such I can't post an account of what happens - you will just have to see us at Salute or wait until next week !

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Redcoats on the Red Planet - Part 1

I've always been a fan of 'classic' science fiction. Jules Verne, HG Wells etc, and that includes some of the late 19thC fiction about various invasions of England by the countries of the near continent. About two years ago I was attracted by the then brand new range of figures being offered by Black Hat for their Martian Empires game.

This sort of merged with the club adaptions of the POW rules for Colonial battles (basically using 40mm frontage bases and an increased ground scale) and started a thing. I invested in some Tribal Martians, re-based some red-coated Brits and took a small game down one Friday night.

The first game went OK, but the Brits got massacred by a combination of aerials and giants supported by some Prussian Colonial Sturmtroops, but a small seed had been planted and over the next few months we had a handful of games, with Tim producing ever growing numbers of Cephlapods and War Machines.

By October 2007 we decided the rules modifications we had produced were viable and balanced so we decided to take 'Redcoats on The Red Planet' as a demonstration game to some of the wargame shows in the south of England. In February we went to Cavalier in Tonbridge, in May to Campaign in Milton Keynes and in June to Valhalla in Farnborough. Despite ripping of his figures to use with another game system, Mike at Black Hat was impressed, and we went on to do the same demo at Warfare in Reading in June.

That was supposed to be it's last outing, but at Warfare we were approached by a couple of the organisers of Salute and asked if we would like to take it to their next event.

We said yes, and began work on some extra bits for March.

Watch out for updates ...

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

HoTT Cymru. March 6th & 7th

Tim and I went to the HoTT Cymru tournament in Penarth South Wales. 7 games over 2 days in a pub/hotel is a nice way to spend a weekend. This is how I remember things. The code at the end of each game report is K(ills) L(osses) G(eneral) and score (Wins-Losses)

My first game was against a 'Flitnloque' army of Napoleonic Goblins. I used my 60mm Space Marine army led by a Hero general. Unfortunately I got fixated with getting him out of the line of fire of the 2 Artillery pieces and ended up in front of my own Behemoth. One recoil later I was dead. K2 L6G 0-1

My next game was as Hugh Pugh against Tim and 'Them'. This was a bit of a massacre. He attacked in columns against a shooter line and took horrendous casualties. K12 L0 (DNS)

My second real game saw me facing a modern 6mm British army composed entirely of Welsh regiments on 15mm bases, so used my Brits at Isandlwahana army. On my left his attack helicopter (Aerial Hero) attacked but was ensorcelled by the Times reporter, while Victoria dealt with the riders (jeeps with mg). The enemy centre and right was mostly warbands but my shooters stood firm and when the 17th Lancers (Knight) charged their flank it was all over. K12 L8 1-1

After lunch and a pint my next opponent and I agreed to use a matched pair of 'Pool' armies. I chose Stingray, he was the Titans. In the end this was a bit one-sided as my two Stingrays (AHr) easily out manuvered his artillery and three Titan Killerfish (Airboats). K11G L2 2-1

Game four saw my Vikings (60mm bases) facing an army of GW Ratmen. My warband and Paladin dived into his Hordes (of Rats) and spent a happy game rat-killing .... The real action came down to my Hero General against the enemy Magician, but I triumphed eventually. K6G L2 3-1

For my final game of the day I was facing an army of Welsh druids (3 x Mg) and warbands with my Brits at Isandlwahana army. This was a real grind as both armies gradually fragmented into a series of single combats. Victoria did a great job of stopping the Welsh advance before delivering the final blow to kill his Knight General. K12G L6 4-1

Saturday night we had a sit down dinner with all players plus a couple of extras on one long table. After we finished most people seemed to disperse, but Tim and I plus the Sharrocks, Tony Horobins son and Pete ? played a Gloranthan -themed game set up by Jane. If you imagine a free-form Role-playing race game with monsters and a couple of bottles of red wine you get the idea ..... In the end I 'won' the race, but was disqualified for trying to seduce and assassinate members other teams and break their boats. This didn't worry me too much as EVERYONE was disqualified for pretty much the same reasons. Certainly good fun and I would play again.

Sunday morning saw a good solid breakfast before we dived into the two remaining games.

Game six saw me facing an army of invading Normans (40mm bases) so out came the Brits at Isandlwahana again. This time however Victoria appeared on T1 and while she did a decent enough job initially, coming on so early meant she left early as well. Eventually my General was killed by Crossbowmen and that was it. K2 L9G 4-2

My last game saw me pitched against Ben and his enemies of Dr Who. 60mm bases so out came the Vikings again. This started out OK, with my Hero general breaking the enemy line on the right, but he couldn't get far enough away so had to turn back.

On the left, my Paladin (Berserkers) and supporting warbands stood toe-to-to with The Master for 2 or 3 turns all of which produced non-killing draws. Troops were dieing all over the place, but in the end Dalek Kaan and the Cybermen killed my Hero General and it was all over. K10 L14G 4-3

In the end I was placed 3rd - my best result in a HoTT competition ever - and won the Welsh Dragon prize for killing the most Generals.

Overall a great weekend and Tim and I would like to thank Tony for all his work organising it.

Tim and I plan to do the same event again next year.

Monday, 9 March 2009

March 6th FOG Persians vs Alexander

We started out with about 750 points per side. I commanded the Persian right with our best commander, a unit of Horse archers, a unit of light horse, a unit of armoured horse and a unit of light Archers. Our centre was the traditional Persian infantry and on our left we had a mix of cavalry and infantry. The pic on the right shows my horse archers trying to bother the Alexandrian cavalry.

Facing me was Alexander, 2 units of crack cavalry, one of good infantry and some light archers. I decided the best thing I could do was keep Alexander busy and hope the centre/left could do some damage. All I can say is I tried ....

This is the Macedonian centre. All those pointed sticks ....

This is ours. The scythed chariots did as much as you might expect.

This is about my high water mark. My light cavalry are charging an enemy flank after chasing off the archers, my horse archers are regrouping out of shot, Alexander is bravely running down my foot archers ping away at the enemy cavalry and my AC has charged home. In this photo my commander is behind his armoured cavalry but he did join the front rank before the evening ended.

I did the best I could, dragging Alexander off aim chasing foot archers, but my supporting toops couldn't stand. The Phalanx charged home and by the time I had to leave we were in some disarray.

This game left me asking questions such as how does a Persian army defeat Alexander ?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Friday 20th February

Another FoG game, this time Romans vs Carthaginians 750 points.

I commanded the Carthaginian right with the Elephants, one unit of African Spearmen, one of Scutari, one of Javelin LF and a unit of Gallic cavalry. Tim managed the centre with two units of Gallic infantry, one of African spears and one of slingers. Chris controlled an all cavalry command on the left. This is my command at the game start.

Our plan involved pinning the Roman centre with the Gallic infantry, while crushing both flanks. The first units to clash were - of course - the Gauls, who bravely took on three units of legionaries and held them for the rest of the game (See later).

On my flank, the plan started out Ok with my Scutari driving off the Roman LF. This left my Elephants and spears to get stuck into a legionary HF unit.

Unfortunately as they chased the Roman skirmishers off they ran into the Triarii and a short fight later they were broken. As the Scutari fled, they broke through my Gallic cavalry who, having lost a rather messy melee with the Roman HF broke as well.

The Scutari managed to get to the rear, but the Gallic cavalry were surrounded and destroyed. (2-0 to Rome).

This was the crunch point however, so my General moved in to support the Elephants and Hannibal himself joined the fight against the Legion. This did the trick as the Roman HF facing my Elephants and spears reached auto break, and on the same turn the Gallic infantry unit in the centre supported by Hannibal did the same thing to a unit of Legionaries. A large hole had opened in the Roman left centre.

Over on the Carthaginian left our cavalry seemed to struggle because of the quality of their opposition. They pinned the Roman cavalry and supported the Gauls to the best of their ability. Their major contribution was to break a unit of LF towards the end of the evening. (3-2 to Carthage). Their pursuit placed them in the centre of the Roman rear, and thus they would have been a certainty to loot the Roman camp (had one been deployed on table .....)

At this point the umpire declared a tactical Carthaginian victory, but had we allowed for the looted camp the final score would have been 4-2 to Carthage.

The final positions are shown in the last two photos. The cavalry are engaged on the far left, while the Light Cav threaten the Triarii who are moving to intercept the Gauls who have broken through.

On the right the Elephants and Spears have swung right and are threatening the remaining Legionaries supported by the slingers.

Another fun game, and our knowledge of the rules went up sharply again.