Monday, 17 October 2016

Ancient games from the past no. 3

Republican Romans v Samnites-Celts

The third of our games played in June gave Mark a chance to use his newly painted "Samnites in White Satin"

The armies arrayed opposite one another. Samnites-Celts at top of picture, the latter to the left.

 Opposite them the Republican Romans; three legions with associated cavalry and velites.

 Urged on by their druid...
 the Celts charged at the Romans.

 A cavalry mêlée began on the Celts' lett flank,
 while the warbands charged in the centre.

 Meanwhile, the Samnite cavalry made it's way around the Roman right flank.

The central mêlée continued, neither side able to get the upper hand. Odds were against the Celts, having failed to beat the Romans with their initial charge.

The cavalry mêlée on the Roman left also continued. Here the Celts were getting the upper hand, but the Romans threw in more units, albeit weakened ones.

In the centre, the Romans were beginning to break up the Celts' warbands and to drive off the chariots.

On the Roman right a desperate attack by velites failed to stop the Samnite cavalry, so the triarii reserves were forced to turn to face the threat.

Finally the Roman cavalry were victorious on the hill. A small warband unable to turn the tables.

Reaching their break point, the Celtic army withdrew. This loss was enough to reach the break point for the entire Samnite-Celtic army.

 Just as the Samnite infantry had been preparing a counter-attack.

The Samnites in White Satin were not involved at all...!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Another game past: a dream realised

Battle of the Düna (Riga), 9th July* 1701
(by Swedish calendar; 8th July Julian calendar, 19th July Gregorian calendar)

The fourth game from our June wargames splurge was a special treat for me as it enabled the realisation of a long-held wargame dream; doing a game from the Great Northern War (and using the Gå På rules).
(Reports of the first and second games already posted. I've jumped over the third, another game of ancients, which I'll report on later)

The scenario for this game was based largely on the one used by David S (Wargame Amateur blog, Battle of Riga). I encourage any interested readers to read this post on his blog which has photos from his game using wonderful Prinz August figures and also provides the background to the battle.

For background to the rules, you may wish to look at the read-review of the rules that I wrote a couple of years ago.

So much for the intro.!

The game began with Charles XII and the first of the Swedes (four infantry regiments/battalions) having crossed the Düna, advancing to meet Steinau's Saxon defenders, a brigade of infantry and a light gun in a redoubt.The waterway bi-secting the table is a channel from the Spilwen River.

Both sides advanced, the Saxon gun firing ineffectively.

Having forgotten to bring some cotton wool, I tried using tissue to represent smoke. It failed dismally, so was soon discarded!

The first exchanged of inflicted disorder effects on both sides' front-line units (note markers).

Reinforcements arrived for both sides (determined by die roll).

The firefight continued.

A two to one exchange at the left of the Swedish line caused the guards to fall back, breaking the frontline.

The Saxon cavalry lined up the Swedish flank.

Undeterred, Charles ordered the Västerböttens regiment to attack, while the Guards were caught in cross-fire.

Failing to contact, the Västerböttens were caught in the flank by the Saxon dragoons.

They failed the reaction test, broke, losing a 'step' in the process and the Saxon cavalry continued on, just stopping short of their friends.

Meanwhile, in the far corner of the battlefield, the Russians approached.

Caught in a deadly cross-fire, the Swedish Guards were broken (dice indicate two light casualties and one heavy casualty).

The Russians began to appear en-masse.

Gå På! The Närke-Värmlands regiment, still fresh, does what the Swedes do best (and get best factors for), going in what pike and musket!

The Saxon defenders did not stand a chance.

The Russians approach the channel of the Spilwen River.

We called the game to a halt at this stage. The Swedes had not made sufficient headway to establish the bridgehead and, with the Russians well on their way, would struggle to survive, let alone win the day.

The Swedish reinforcements would be too little, too late.

For me it had been a most successful and enjoyable first use of the Gå På rules. There are a few tests required—generally each side does a TQ test and then consults the appropriate result table for what is being tested (e.g. fire effects, close combat, out of command)—but they are not to onerous to do and we began to remember them even in this short game.

Mark was not as enamoured as I, but he did not reject them outright. I'll be able to bring him around, I am sure! :)

I reckon that we'll settle on having three sets for C18th wargaming: these for Great Northern War, Zimmermann with our minor edits and additions for Seven Year's War and Age of Reason for War of Spanish Succession.

I hope soon to be ready for us to do a second game in this period with these rules; the Battle of Kliszow (Klezow or Klissow), 9th July 1702.

Ancient wargames from the past

Yes, it's tautology central here today.

Back in mid-late June Mark and I took advantage of a lull in our combined work schedules to play out a series of small games. This lead to us playing five wargames in two weeks, a record by our standards.

I managed to report only one of these at the time, so now intend to catch up, slowly but surely, on the others.

Numidians v Caesarean Romans

I'll begin with the second of our games, set in the time of the divine Julius and loosely, as one of those summer blouses that I'm sure "The Donald" loves, based on the battles in North Africa in 49 BC between the Optimates (Pompeians) under Publius Attius Varus and Populares (Caesareans) under Gaius Scribonius Curio.

Before engaging in battle against the Optimates and their Numidian allies, I naturally looked to the auspices.
A coincidence of the full moon and sunrise at dawn foretold of a great victory for our side!

The armies faced one another across a broad valley, broken by a small wood and rise in the middle of the field of battle.

Curio advanced the entire Populares' line, sending his Gallic and Thracian cavalry against the Numidians on his left and right.

... with initial success on the latter flank!

The Populares' legions reached the central hill.

Varus sent forward his elephants.

Surely our veteran legions would chew up a few Loxodonta africana?

On the left, our cavalry were being over-whelmed by the Numidians.

Overview of the battlefield.

After their initial success, the cavalry on our right could not resist the onslaught of elephants and those pesky Numidians!

In the centre and centre-right, our legions continued their struggle against the obstinate Pachyderms.
... while pressure mounted on their flank.

With the grey beasts finally beaten off, Curio sent his legions to deal with the Pompeians pseudo-legionaries.

While the light infantry tried to hold off the Numidians.

Fresh to the fight, the Optimates legions were getting the better of it.

Though outnumbered four to one, the cavalry on our left flank launched a desperate counter-attack.

The legions were fighting each other to a standstill.

After their unexpected success, the Italian cavalry pursued into the next line of Numidian cavalry...
...only to be flanked themselves, with the expected result.

The legionaries suffering reverses in the centre and with both flanks threatened, the Populares' army broke.

It had been clear from the beginning.

In their overzealousness to please, our wise men had missed the obvious portent of the coming storm.

Seen clearly pointing to the Caesarean side in this image from the gods!