Sunday, November 30, 2014

Battle of Issus 333 BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 20 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.
Battle of Issus
Alexander defeated the Persians under Memnon at the Granicus. The Persian army, now led by Darius, the King of Kings, marches behind the Macedonian advance and cut their line of supply.  Alexander is forced to turn around and the two armies meet at the River Pinarus.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:
Wikipedia article
WAB very comprehensive scenario and forces detail (particularly Part III discussing the Kardakes)
Giant DBA scenario
Tactica scenario

Scenario changes
Reduced by about half the troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I roughly halved the Spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.


Alexander’s Macedonian
4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude, drilled
2 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, low fortitude
2 Thracians, auxiliary infantry
4 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Companions, auxiliary cavalry,  high fortitude, disciplined
2 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary cavalry
1 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, short missile

1 General with Companions
+1 army command ability

Breakpoint: 13

Late Achaemenid Persian
3 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection
4 Karkades hoplites, battle infantry, low fortitude, long spears, some protection
2 Kardakes peltasts, auxiliary infantry
10 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, long missile
1 Heavy cavalry, auxiliary cavalry, high fortitude
4 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
1 General with high fortitude cavalry

Breakpoint: 14

Note I have gone for the 60,000 Kardakes being 40,000 hoplites and 20,000 peltasts as discussed here as part of the WAB scenario.
This game was quite difficult to determine how the deployment should be, and also the forces to allow for the game to work on a 2'x2' table.  There are significant variations in the interpretation of how the units were deployed and where along the Pinarus river - did Alexander cross at the ford?  Did the battle include the escapements?  I went for what Peter Sides had, with a dash of the Tactica one (based on a Slingshot article).  I also found that the troops for the Persians would not fit, so there are less units on their side than the numbers would indicate.

On the positive side, after spending a long time looking at deployment options, I played this over one day and during daylight, so the photos are clearer than most of my other posts.


Persians on the left, Macedonians on the right.
The Pinarus river is classed as a stream.  This slows movement slightly and does give a stream bank defender a combat bonus.

The Game
Alexander move first.  The Macedonian plan is the same as in 333BC - use the Hypaspists to create a gap, and follow through with the Companions.  The Persians will launch across the river into the weaker Macedonian left flank. 

A view from the Macedonian side towards the river.
Peltasts advance on the right and make it through the skirmishers to the cavalry and manage to disorder one.  The reaction system works great here, with the Peltasts advancing as the enemy retreats.  A peltast is lost in the melee with the Heavy cavalry.

Peltasts advance and draw a heavy cavalry out.
The skirmish line advances and does not much, the phalanxes are following and clear the skirmish line, amazing with no damage to themselves. A 1 or 2 would have disordered a phalanx unit, but in (I think) 10 rolls, I did not get a single 1 or 2. The phalanxes continue to react and advance across the stream to engage the Kardakes and Hoplites defending the river Pinarus.  The Hypaspists and an adjacent pike unit take out two Kadakes units (two rolls of a d6 produced a 5 and 6 - enough to destroy them outright); the rest of the battle line sees most units on both sides disordered.

Battlelines clash.  This is before the Hypaspists entered the fray. 
The Persian heavy cavalry on the Macedonian left charge Parmenion...

The Persian Heavy cavalry charge over the river.
...engage in combat with Parmenion's heavy cavalry and a hoplite...

Persian heavy cavalery in combat with Parmenion's Heavy cavalry.
...and after retreating, Parmenion is destroyed (Persians rolled a 6).  So much for holding the left flank.

Parmenion retreats, Persians follow up and Parmenion subsequently routs
 On the right, a Persian heavy cavalry charges a skirmishers; the latter evades but the result of the evaders fire (an unlucky 1) causes the already disordered heavy cavalry to rout.

Persian heavy cavalry charges a skirmish cavalry.  Latter evades, former routed by missile fire.
Alexander charges a charges a Persian skirmisher, follows though in a Kardakes unit that routs and Alexander is now on the other side of the river.

Alexander, charges through two units and make it to the Persian side of the river.  Hypaspists to the right in the picture.
A couple of units lost of both sides in the battleline.  More importantly, the Macedonian hoplite unit on the left flanks succumbs to the cavalry (another unlucky 1) - the Macedonian left flank is now wide open.
Battleline losses.  There are no units in front of the Persian cavalry - that flank is theirs!
Breakpoints lost so far are 10 for Macedonian (13 to break) and 11 for the Persians (14 to break).  it is a close game!

The lone Macedonian Greek hoplite that is on the far left of the battleline (actually the leftmost Macedonian unit!) routs the opposing Karkades; and Alexander forces a skirmish cavalry off the board.

The Persian centre is looking quite bare.
The Persians reach their breakpoint and the game is a close Macedonian win.

Game at end.  Still unit on both sides at the top (Macedonian right flank) but Persian have the Macedoniam left; Macedonians effectively control the centre as well.
The rules are working well.  Changing cavalry to move slower has not worked as well as I thought and have moved it back to 16cm (20 for skirmishers).  Also, and it has been in the back of my mind for the last 5-6 games - cavalry wheel and move much like line infantry.  I have increased the manoeuvrability of cavalry so they can wheel a little more and move.  Cavalry that chased after routing cavalry are never be able to turn around in time to come back the the battle.  Now they have a chance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ancient Game with 8 yo daughter and One Hour Wargames

I bought Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames as soon as it came out and devoured it in a single setting.  Nice simple rules, easily modified.  It comes with 30 scenarios, which is great value in itself and I had visions of playing the scenarios with other rules, or at least using a heavily modified version.  That was September 2014 and I put them aside.

Links of use
Here are some links to reviews/replays using these rules:
Heretical Gaming blog post review
El Rincón de Slorm blog post review
KEITH'S WARGAMING BLOG blog post review
John’s Wargame Page blog post review
Wargames Illustrated review
Cambronne's Reply blog post review
SPEAR TO THE STRIFE blog post review
Yahoo groups for discussion on Neil Thomas's rules

You can buy it via Amazon, Pen and Sword, On Military Matters and likely others.

Introduction (continued)
Fast forward to a few days ago (November 2014) and my eight year old daughter says "when are we going to play with your ancient figures - the ones in the drawer?"  I have a set of map drawers and there is always a few ancient games set up on 2'x2' boards inside. We used to occasionally get one out and push some figures around.  No rules to speak of - just line them up in pretty rows.

My daughter struggles with maths and I have been doing extra addition and subtraction (with numbers under 20) for the last couple of months, usually using online maths games, verbally or the abacus.  As soon as she said ancients game I thought of Neil Thomas's rules - it has adding or subtracting 2 from a die roll (damage inflicted), and adding numbers to 15 (15 is the "hit points" of a unit).  So today, we set up a table a played a game.

Plans and children do not mix, but this went brilliantly.  So brilliantly and so rarely, I felt the need to write a blog post!

The Setup
It was a going to be a quick game.  I had some medieval figures in a box I had ready for another game that never happened. My daughter loves horses and you get a lot in the medieval part of the rules.   I played with just one WRG DBx base is a unit and used a 30cmx30cm cork tile I had from years ago. Distances would be measured in cm.  And we would use a roster off the board to score the hits (as part of the aim of the game to add up the hits!).  I cut two pieces of timber - 6cm and 12cm - to be the movement and archery range measuring sticks.  I would go for 5cm and 10cm next time and this fits in with the 30cmx30cm table.  Rules are originally designed for 36"x36" with 12" long moves; this would convert on a 30cmx30cm board to 10cm long moves, not 12.

The scenario would be a simple flat table, no terrain.  We rolled for the units. The rules have a simple system to roll a single d6 per side for random forces.  I setup first and let my daughter set up after seeing my setup.  I did not help her with her deployment but she copied mine to an extent.  She has never played a game of miniatures with rules before so she does not have a grasp of tactics and occasionally I explained possible options for her to choose from.

My daughters forces, mostly Romanian Franks

My forces, random medieval. Note that I only have two figures on my archer base, but this is just to easily differentiate them from the other side.
I explained the rules.  Took about 10 minutes.  She did say after the game this was the only boring bit.

For those that are interested, here is a summary of the medieval rules:

  • Alternate turns and each player turn is move, shoot, melee.  Cannot move and shoot.
  • Mounted move 12, Infantry 6, archers range is 12.
  • For shooting, select a target and roll 1d6+2.  This is the damage inflicted on the target.
  • For melee, roll 1d6 (+2 for Knights, -2 for Archers) for damage to the target.
  • Men-At-Arms halve damage received due to their armour. Flanks attacks double the damage.
  • A unit is eliminated when is reaches or exceeds 15 hits.
  • Game ends when one side is eliminated.
Game start - I am at the bottom, Daughter at the top.
The Game
My daughter went first and promptly moved her Knights to within a few centimetres of mine.  This meant I would charge next turn and get in damage first.  But she did not care!  I helped her with moving the archers (i.e. don't move them to where I can charge them).

My daughter's first move.  A normal knights tactic!
I charged in and so get to inflict damage first on each of her three knights.  This gave her the opportunity to draw a small icon (her idea) to represent each unit and write down the its damage.  We were using rosters so she could add up damage as it occurred, part of the point of the game.  I did not move my Levies into the Men at arms on my right flank as they are take only half damage.  My Knights should win, and then help take them out. This plan sort of worked. 

Note: I pivoted my archers and then fired.  I should not have been allowed to fire.  I realised my mistake later and gave my daughter a bonus move later on.

I charged the few centimetres in response.
I did think about moving some infantry onto the flanks of her knights, but thought that maybe I should go for the archers on either flank instead. Not sure if this was a wise choice or not.

On the left, I charge my Levies into the Archers. My Levies had already taken 13 points of damage from good archery fire, so I needed to at least damage the Archers to regain some honour. On the right the archers move to get into a position to fire on my daughter's Archers.

I moved to destroy the flanks.
The combat between the Knights goes roughly as expected - My daughter loses two Knights when they reach their limit.  The next turn, I lose a Knight.  But I also lose a Levies. The Men-at-Arms absorbing 1/2 damage is quite good, especially as I was rolling 1s and 2s!

My daughter loses two Knights, then next turn I lose one Knight and the right flank Levies. 
My daughter is not upset by this at all!  She is having too much fun!
My daughter's last Knight goes the turn after so I charge the right hand archers with some Knights.  I forgot to move my other Knights (what was I thinking - I have no idea).  I allow my daughter to pivot 180 and charge my Archers to balance against me firing on the Men-at-Arms when I should not have  (normally you can only pivot 45 degrees when charging).

Knights charge the archers (top right); Men-at-arms charge my Archers (bottom right)
As expected, my Levies fail against my daughter's Archers on my left flank.  Although she had some bad rolls, and Archers subtract two from the die roll, I was only 2 points away from elimination when I charged.  I charge the Knights I forgot to move last turn into the Archers.  Victory for both of us on my right flank.  Her Archers gone, as are mine.

My Levies gone and charged with the Knights, on the right we both lose an archer unit.
The Men-at-Arms charge into the rear of my Knights.  Double damage for a rear attack.  I have 10 points, she rolls a 4.  She added the 4 to 10 damage the Knights were carrying, and then was very excited when I said it was double damage for a rear attack!

The Men-at-arms, after routing my Knights on the right, move to attack my Knights on the left.
Her Archers were never going to last very long against my Knights.  But my Knights know have a total of 14 damage form all the melees so far.  And the Men-At-Arms charge in the flank for double damage.  And roll a 6.  My daughter is excited once again.  She does not add it up: 14+12 is obviously more than 15.   Her Men-At-Arms are the last unit standing. A close game.  She has won!

The last melee.  It ended as bad.

The last unit on the table.  My daughter's Men-At-Arms.
My daughter could not resist writing out her win.  And put her winning army on display around it. And forced me to take a picture.

My daughter ensures we all know who won against whom.

A well deserved win to my daughter.  My first game with actual rules against her.

It took about 40 minutes to play.  Without much tactics - just getting in - that seemed reasonable playing time.  I had fun, and there is lots of adding and a bit of subtraction, which was the aim of it after all!  Having to halve some hits and double flank attacks was a bonus for the maths too.
After the game I asked her what she thought.  Her answer "That was awesome!"  makes me think we will be playing again!

Oh, and the rules.  I like them.  And without any modifications!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

NUTS Comic WW2 battle report - North of Cheux 2 Normandy Game 03

This is the third game in a short campaign following a British section post D-Day.

I am using my streamlined version of the NUTS! rules and 20mm figures on a 2'x2' table and am halving all distances in the rules. The terrain generation is from Platoon Forward and the wound effects and random events are based on Patrol:WW2.  The writeup is using Comic Life.

I am loosely basing the campaign on the journey of the British 7th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment of the 43rd (Wessex) Division in 1944.  28-2 July 1944 saw many patrols and a few German stragglers captured.   

It is my third game with NUTS! and I did some streamlining to the rules after game 1, mainly converting it to single d6 rolls but it is still mostly NUTS!  This game has the 8 members of the section patrolling once again.


Click on the picture for a larger image.

Another fun game.  I think these rules are great at capturing low level skirmishes like this.  Still takes over an hour and the writeup is longer than normal doing them in Comic Life. Due to the interactions and the chaos on the battlefield, I cannot really stop this game at a certain point and come back to it later.  It does not really lend itself to it.  I am used to playing in smaller stints than over an hour at a time.  I am going to stop doing these for a while and get back to other projects.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

20mm WW2 West Front 1944 battle with 9 year old (3rd one)

The 9 year old that I have played a few games of 20mm WWII asked for a game over the school holidays while he was staying over for the day.  How could I say no?  The weather was going to be great so I thought why not play outside where the light will be perfect.  If we are to play outside, I could use the entire table tennis table when I usually use half of it.  My first game on a full table tennis table in nearly 10 years.  I was amazed on the quality of the photos I took compared to the ones normally taken inside and at night – amazing what a lot of natural light can do!

The rules are the same I used for the last two games against him - a slightly modified version of my own rules that uses more dice rather than die modifiers, see here.

I did not choose a scenario but wanted to use some Brits so chose September 1944.  It was to be an engagement scenario as there was not that much time.  Next time I will get into more of an attacker/defender battle. While setting out the table I realised I do not have enough terrain for a 9’x5’.  Neither the amount of roads I want, and definitely not enough trees!  My mantra has always been “you can never have enough trees” and I proved it with this setup.

A composite view of the entire 9'x5' table, Brits enter from the bottom
The objectives across the centre.
The objectives were to hold the crossroads and the T intersection in the centre, the church of the British right, and the road corner on the British left.

The British left. The Germans focussed on the centre and this flank
The British right, the British gave a good showing on this side. 
I selected what felt about right, and not too much so the table did not feel cramped.  For instance, there was only 4 tanks on each side.  I think it worked quite well not having so many troops, it allowed for some manoeuvre.  

4 PanzerIVJ
3 12 figure units (incules 3 MMGs), in 9 half tracks
1 75mm AT gun + half track tow
1 Kubel Wagon
1 Motorcycle

I have always wanted to use a full contingent of Carriers – I have been collecting them over the years.
13 Carriers (carrier platoon) with 3xLMGs (2 crew), 3x2" mortars (2 crew) and 18 riflemen
1 truck platoon (1 MMG, 8 riflemen, 3 trucks)  
1 Firefly
3 Shermans

The Game
The centre, where the objectives were, was where a lot of the action was.  I have split the report into Centre, left and right as it is easier to follow.

The Centre
The German forces enter down the centre road.
The British response along a wide front.
Due to some good cards, the Germans get to the centre first and begin to setup for defence.
A little further to the British centre right, the Germans have managed to get a foothold.  They have occupied all of the building on their side of the village.  The British have not got to a building yet. 
Two carrier sections race up in the centre to get to the village before the Germans occupy all of it.
The British, due to some good activations, make in to the village.  The infantry behind the buildings are in them,  You can just see the PanzerIVs at the rear of the photo.  Note the line of sight to the Sherman - the Sherman is KO'd next turn! The infantry fared better, and managed to inflict a lot of damage across the roads into the German occupied houses.
The British left
The Germans, keeping the initiative going, get to the objective on the British left and take over the objective with good backup forces.
A carrier platoon moves into the wood opposite.
The view from the German side (the carriers have been removed as I tend to remove trucks etc once they have unloaded.  The British have a Sherman, the Germans have no armour on this side. They do have an Anti-tank gun on this flank, but not in a position to fire at the Sherman.  The Sherman did rout a few Germans, but then they stayed out of sight and the Sherman was just a minor deterrent from then on.
The first thing to note is the lack of British infantry in the foreground woods.  All gone.  Two activations of fire by the Germans took their tool and they were drastically reduced and then routed.  But the Germans are substantially reduced as well.  The Germans also reallocated a PanzerIV to help on this flank.  This is important as the British have one last unit that is coming around the far left (off to the left of this picture.
And here is the flanking British infantry running through the woods to the Germans. 
And here is the PanzerIV overruning the last of the British on the left flank.  The Germans hold the objective, but only with about 1/2 the units they started with on this flank..
The British right
The British send the trucks to occupy the hill with the church.  They took a few turns to get there, but the Germans had been lax and not sent anything on this flank.  The church hill overlooks the village so it is a good spot for the British.
The Sherman is gone.  The British successfully advance across the hill, heading towards the woods in the centre of the picture.
The Germans move some units in the woods for defense, but there are more British than Germans.  It proves to be deadly for both sides.
End Game

The British are hanging on in the woods, and the Germans are getting the worst of it.  The sherman manages to damage a PanzerIV.
The german infantry in the village has just about gone so a small unit moves up under the cover of a PanzerIV.  But unluckily into the range of the Sherman Firefly that has hung back all game.  First shot - gone!
The Firefly
Another PanzerIV falls.  The Germans infantry ran away from the village.  The Germans have lost a fair few of their units, fail an force morale check and retreat to fight again another day. 
The rules are holding up just fine.  And I won.  Against a nine year old I know, but I lost the first two games I played against him!  He is now ten since I played this in July and we have penciled in Christmas to play again.