Monday, 30 June 2014

A weekend away at the Wargames Holiday Centre

On Friday I motored over to the Wargames Holiday Centre, with a carload of Really Useful Boxes packed with terrain and miniatures.   

Mark Freeth met me and together we set up three games on his tables. One of the nice things about the WHC's boards is that some feature hills much larger than I have storage for, and so I made full use of these. Also I couldn't resist using some very old Peter Gilder buildings from the WHC's Scarborough days to represent the town of Chaeronea (below).

The players arrived around 9:30 AM on the Saturday, and began playing shortly after 10:00 PM.  I ran around like a blue-bottomed fly, fielding questions and relating historical anecdotes.

Below is the Pontic phalanx, drawn up in front of their camp.

A view over the plain, from the citadel:

Below is a shot of the Boudiccan revolt game, which was called "The Only Way is Eceni". The Romans and Britons won one game each.

One Roman auxiliary cohort was comprehensively surrounded, below, but successfully fought off many charges. 

I didn't take any decent photos of the third game (below), which featured late Romans assaulting a Pictish line up a massive, heather-covered hill.  The hill was a monster!  It was a fast moving game and I have plans to expand it with more units, and even more heather.

Late on Saturday we replaced two of the games with even larger battles, which were gamed on Sunday morning (whilst I struggled with a massive hangover). 

Thapsus (below) is a battle I've fought many times. Both games on Sunday were very close and, unusually, Caesar lost twice.

The final game was a reprise of the Partizan Cremona game. This was a massive slogging match between two evenly matched Early Imperial Roman armies. This time, both games were draws; the Othonians just couldn't break through.

Everyone managed to play each of the five games, once, and I hope everyone had a good time. Mark kept things moving along nicely, and made sandwiches and buckets of tea. 

We ran all the games using my "To the Strongest!" rules, and, by the close of play on Saturday, I felt that everyone had a really good working grasp of these. I think everyone enjoyed the novel playing-card driven nature of the rules. By lunchtime on Sunday, we'd introduced most of the rules in the "advanced" section, and players were using the stratagems and some of the obscure rules, such as "orbis".  A lot of intelligent questions were asked and some good suggestions offered, so I have some work to do in the week ahead.

It was a splendid weekend which I very much hope to repeat, in the early autumn!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


I have not one, not two but four large Roman-themed games coming up at the Wargames Holiday Centre this weekend, and have been raising and re-organising my Romans for the event. I believe Mark has a couple of spaces left, so if you are in the UK, and at a loose end...  

I've painted 6 more elements of cavalry, and also increased the size of most of my existing alae to 6 stands. I'll take some closeups later on, when I've finished flocking them. The unit in front represents the combined cavalry elements of my Batavian cohorts.  Smaller squadrons of Britons and Equites Cohortales are drawn up behind them. My favourites are the Batavians because they were some of the first 28mm Ancients I bought, back in 2004, and they have been expanded several times since then, and I've also gradually improved the paintwork along the way. They are Foundry Gallic cavalry painted as regulars.

Below are my re-organised archers, Western at the front and Eastern behind.  I now have seven units-worth of them.  In this latest organisation I added casualties and made some head-swaps.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A slight departure

On Wednesday I had a sneaky couple of hours experimenting with The TooFatLardies Chain of Command, in mate Dr. Simon's splendid new wargaming shed.

We are playing a simple scenario set in North Africa, 1941.

Part way through the first turn, my Afrika Korps are getting rather shot-up by the 8th Army; already two are dead, and the shock markers are building up.  I hope to get another turn in, next week, time permitting.  By the way, those are the old Zama, boards; the gift that keeps on giving!  :-)

Neither of us are familiar with the rules, so we were finding our way as we went along.  I would say that the rules did seem to be fairly clear, though, and relatively simple, and I am already formulating a plan for using them in a rather unorthodox fashion...

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Riding a rail

I've been painting various Roman cavalrymen to complete units, and wanted a way to hold the riders whilst painting them.  I've come up with this low-tech solution; the riders sit on the dowel, held in place by a tiny dot of white glue.  Their feet prevent it from rolling.

I've also established that 6 horses are the most that I can paint in an evening, without pulling my thinning hair out in clumps!  :-)

Last night I finished polishing the latest version of my "To the Strongest!" rules, which I'll use for the Ancient Battles of Rome weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre on the 28th and 29th of June*.  The rules aren't substantially changed, but with the help of a couple of people who have very kindly carefully reviewed them, I have been able to clarify several points.  If you happen to be one of the people who are play-testing them, and would like the very latest version, mail me at the address on the front of the blog and I'll send them out to you.   

*Mark Freeth still has some places left and can be reached here

Friday, 13 June 2014

Waste not, want not

Alongside the cavalry in my last post, were seven primed Roman archers. I'm using these to complete two more units, one each of Eastern and one of Western auxiliaries, giving me a (somewhat excessive) seven units, of which 4 are shown below. I'm not likely to use seven units very often, except, perhaps, in a big siege, or an invasion of Persia...

I'm also taking the opportunity to improve the basing, moving from 6x3cm bases with two minis each, to 6x5cm bases, with three. The great thing about art card bases is one can carefully separate the top layer with a sharp craft knife, so that they can be re-used. I've been able to recycle some old 6x2cm bases, by sticking them onto the edges of the 6x3's. I have also re-used all the old tufts and even some of the painted grout. When finished, I'm confident that they will look a lot better than in their previous incarnation, and probably only cost £1-£2 for materials.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Equestrian interlude

With Partizan now behind me, and the Wargames Holiday Ancients weekend on 28th/29th still some weeks ahead, I've decided to finish off a few more units of Early Imperials. I shall work in a leisurely manner and enjoy myself.

My Batavian auxiliary cohorts have been clamoring for an expansion of their mounted arm, in much the same way they did in 69 AD. Next they will be demanding nail-money!  I shall take their numbers up to 18 and also recruit a half-ala of British cavalry. I'll have enough horses left over to recruit another ala-and-a-half later in the year.

With a little re-organisation and re-basing, I should also be able to put another regiment of 18 archers into the field.

I was interested to see that Caliban-Paul is going for a big push on his Caesarian Romans, organising them into 80-figure legions. I also very much like the cloaks he has painted on his Alaudae legion.

Finally, I've started work on yet another ancients project, which I shall keep under my hat, for the time being...  

Monday, 2 June 2014

Bloody Cremona!

Here are some more photos of the Roman Civil War game that I ran yesterday at Partizan, in the grounds of Kelham Hall. 

One benefit of this year's move from Hall to tent was the vastly superior lighting.  Yesterday I felt very much like Van Gogh must have felt after he relocated from Paris to Provence... Time was so short, however, that I am afraid I completely failed to take any pics of the other games, several of which were quite spectacular, particularly the lofty Keren and muddy Lardy Verdun game.  

Several of the below photos were taken by Dave D. and John T., who played in the game, together with Agema Greg, Nigel M. and Jean. The players were as good-natured a bunch of wargamers as one could hope to come across.  A big thank you to John T who was a huge help in setting up and knocking down the game. 

In our re-fight, the smaller Othonian force attacked aggressively from the outset.  Their cavalry, although outnumbered almost three to one, smashed the  poorer quality Vitellian cavalry and turned onto the flank of the enemy infantry. Beyond the Po, the Batavians killed the Othonian gladiators, losing a unit to an ambush from a small wood, in the process. The main infantry fight was extremely even but, after hard fighting, the Othonians managed to overturn history and achieve a narrow but very worthy victory.

We had quite a few visitors, and I talked to as many as I was able. I also managed to chat with some of the people from other tables, notable the Newark Irregulars, all three of the magazine editors, Phil from the SOA and Northstar Nick, and old friends Craig Cartmell and Richard Crawley, amongst others. 

The players picked up my "To the Strongest!" rules very quickly and required surprisingly little intervention from me, which was convenient as I was stretched very thin.

Lawrence and Tricks, the Partizan organisers, did a fantastic job of moving the event to the marquees, on such short notice. I absolutely loved playing in the tents, and would be delighted to put on a game in them again. I fear that the additional cost and the risk of bad weather may preclude this, though... I hope there will be room for me, in tent or hall, in September!

I'll be running this game again, and several others on a similar scale, at the Wargames Holiday Centre near Basingstoke, on the weekend of 28th/29th June, there are still spaces, give Mark Freeth a call!

Without more ado, here are the photos!  All are clickable, and the video can be watched full screen.

Initial deployment; eight regiments of Vitellian cavalry, face three Othonian units.  The former were slaughtered...

The first of the eight Vitellian cavalry units are removed by Agema Greg...

The pontoon bridge.  I liked the bridge, even if everyone who came by the table seemed to prefer the vineyards.  ;-)
Battle lines clash amidst the (offending) vineyards.
Othonian Praetorians advance along the raised Postumian way; this terrain piece came out very well.

The plain near Cremona was extensively farmed, and divided into rectangular plots; perfect for my grid-based rules!
Batavians cross the pontoon bridge, shot at by gladiators from the Othonian boat
Othonian self-propelled artillery benefit from the elevation provided by the raised road.

I Adiutrix (forground) battle XXI Rapax (rear).  The commanders of both legions fell in the heavy fighting.
Finally, below a video of the battlefield I took after the end of the game, showing all of the figures and the terrain pieces.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Cremona at Partizan

I'm back from Partizan and completely bushed. The sun shone, the venue was fantastic and I met a whole lot of friends. I'll post some photos tomorrow, but for the moment, I have a somewhat shaky video of the game in full flow, playing cards everywhere and several generals with furrowed brows! The pile of units off table towards the end of the clip, are seven regiments of dead Vitellian cavalry. It was a bloodbath...