Sunday 23 March 2014

Romanes eunt domus!

On Saturday I had yet more proof that Postie - AKA Postidius Tacitus - is something of a megalomaniac in the wargaming world. I've been part of the Rejects for several years now and during that time I have had the pleasure to play a huge variety of periods and scales. So it was quite a surprise when we walked into the Shed-o-war and found ourselves presented with yet another period that I hadn't seen before; 28mm Picts verses Romans, complete with a section of the Antonine Wall and a fort defending a gateway. As the leader of the Picts my job was to teach these foreign invaders a lesson, but clearly it wasn't a lesson in Latin! As the Centurion in Monty Pythons Life of Brian observes, the phrase "Romanes eunt domus" actually means "People called Romanes they go the house". The correct phrase is "Romani ite domum" which means "Romans go home!". Either way I'm sure the legionaries got the message that they were not welcome. 

The local roman Tribune has plundered and destroyed a Pictish Warlords village, stolen all the gold and taken various women, including the warlords daughter, prisoner. The Small roman force responsible for this action are now heading back towards the relative safety of the wall, but the Warlord is in pursuit. The picts have three objectives; Destroy the Roman expeditionary force, rescue the warlords daughter and attack the wall at the gate. 

Order of Battle
1st Command Leader - Quality: Efficient + Standard Bearer (Clint)
   1 Legionary Cohort (Pilum,Gladius,Lt Shiled. Hvy Armour)
   1 Auxiliary Cohort (Spear,Gladius,Lt Shiled. Hvy Armour)
   1 Auxiliary Cohort Archers (Bow, Gladius, Heavy Armour)
   1 Auxiliary Heavy Cavalry (Lance, Gladius, Lt Shield, Hvy Armour)
   3 Scorpions (Artillery crew - Gladius, Heavy Armour)
   1 Onager (Artillery crew - Gladius, Heavy Armour)
   1 Auxiliary Heavy Cavalry (Reinforcements) (Lance, Gladius, Lt Shield, Hvy Armour)
2nd Command Leader - Quality: Plodding (Dave)
   1 Legionary Cohort (Pilum,Gladius,Lt Shiled, Hvy Armour)
   1 Auxiliary Cohort (Spear,Gladius,Lt Shiled, Hvy Armour)
   1 Auxiliary Cohort (Spear,Gladius,Lt Shiled, Hvy Armour)
   1 Cart + Driver
   1 Guard with 4 Slaves
   1 Guard with Warlords Daughter (The 'Princess' Sorcha)

1st Commander - The Warlord - Quality: Brilliant + Standard Bearer (Lee)
   1 Fanatic Warband (Javelin, Sword, Unarmoured)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Archer Unit (Bow, Unarmoured)
2nd Commander - Quality: Plodding (Sujit)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Archers (Bow, Unarmoured)
   WarDogs & Handler (Reinforcements) (Teeth, Unarmoured)
3rd Commander - Quality: Plodding (Ian)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Warband (Javelin, Sword Unarmoured)
   1 Cavalry Light Cavalry (Javelin, Shield, Unarmoured)
   1 Archer Unit (Bow, Unarmoured)
   1 Javelins Unit (Javelin, Sword, Shield, Unarmoured)

The Action
The Pict Warlord looks angrily across open ground to towards the Antonine Wall and vows to make the Romans pay for burning his village and taking his daughter
A large Pictish force appears out of the woods to intercept the returning Roman patrol
The Antonine Wall and the Mile Fort that promises safety for the returning Romans
The wider picture showing the starting positions of most of the Picts (more off screen to the left). Fortunately the Romans rolled high an were given three free moves down the road before play commenced. This was the first of many Pro-Roman moves by the umpire, Postidius Tacitus.
One of three Scorpions mounted along the wall. For much of the game the Picts stayed out of range.
Roman archers also lined the wall, a whole cohort of them!
The Picts started with a Battering Ram which we had to allocate to a unit. I think the Umpire actually thought we would be daft enough to attack the wall! The Warlords only objective was recovering his daughter and slaughtering Romans.
The Roman position after their three free movements. This put them much closer to the safety of the also put the prisoners closer to captivity and would prove crucial at the end of the game. 
Postidius on the Roman side of the table....physically and metaphorically. Dave opens the game with a bold decision not to run or stand and defend. Despite being outnumbered 5 to 1 he goes on the attack!
Unleash the dogs of war! The Picts get a bonus unit and launch it into the attack immediately.
The Pict Warlord moves his forces off the hill and begins the long march towards the road and his daughter.
A rain of Javelins wipes out half the WarDogs and their handler in the first turn. Not a good start! 
Meanwhile Clint's Roman Auxiliary Cavalry emerges from the fort...these look menacing.
Meanwhile the Romans from the Patrol smash into the Picts inflicting heavy casualties
Having swept aside the skirmishers the Romans now prepare to charge the Picts on the hill.
Oblivious to the fact that they might end up surrounded the Romans press on.
They Battle their way to the top of the hill and force the Picts there to fall back, however more 'barbarians' are coming in from behind. The Picts sense victory...
Trapped between two Warbands the Romans prove they are as tough as bleedin nails...what does it take to destroy these buggers?! 
Another Cohort has forced it way to the hill and then formed a Testudo for all round defence.
Another Roman Auxiliary Cavalry Cohort emerges from the fort. 
The Warlords archers fire at extreme close range and destroy the onrushing Roman Cavalry! If they can destroy the second cavalry unit they may be able to rescue the prisoners.
The distance between them and their target is shrinking, but is it enough?
Meanwhile Clint's Onagar is hurling stones at the approaching Picts but only manages one hit in the whole game. 
The second cavalry unit also tries to slow down the Picts to allow the prisoners to be brought inside the fort..
Another hail of arrows from the Picts and....
...another Roman unit is destroyed! Next turn if the archers charge move the prison guards they can rescue the Warlords Daughter. Victory is within their grasp.
Right behind the archers are four almost fresh units of bloodthirsty picts bent on revenge!
Now Clint, who has spent most of the game fireing off rocks with his Onagar finally gets a chance to shoot at the picts. The Barbarian arches, bent on rescuing the prisoners are now within range... And in a hail of arrows cause 50% casualties disordering the Pict Archers. 
Disordered the Picts now cannot make the vital charge move they need and they watch helplessly as the prisoners, including the Warlords daughter, are taken inside the fort. 

With the Prisoners inside the fort the Picts decide that a frontal assault would be useless and end the game. The remaining Romans outside the wall will be hunted down and killed, but for those behind the wall there is safety and 'civilisation'. The Pict Warlord can only hope that his warriors have caused enough damage to the Romans to send them a clear message about whose land this really is!

This was a really tough fight and neither side could claim a decisive victory. As it was when the points were totalled up the Romans won a narrow victory, 18 points to 16. If the picts had managed to rescue the prisoners they would have won a stunning victory but as it was they just had too much ground to cover.

The Romans were incredibly hard to kill. But the Picts wore them down and one by one picked off the Auxiliaries until the units were on the verge of collapse. A few more turns of battle and the remaining Romans would have been destroyed. However it has to be said that Dave's bold move to attack was probably the best decision he could have made under the circumstances. Had more support been available from within the fort then the battle could have gone very differently. Also had the Romans not rolled high and won those three free moves at the beginning of the game then the Picts would have been able to save the prisoners. But this made the game all the more fun because it was so hard to call.

I think that although the Picts lost, the narrowness of the Roman victory, and their losses would certainly have sent a firm message to the local Governor. 

Wednesday 19 March 2014

My Winter Painting Challenge

The Analogue Hobbies Winter Painting Challenge is drawing to a close (6am tomorrow here in the UK) and its been a busy and productive three months for all the entrants. The standard of painting has been exceptionally high and I think most people will agree the Bonus Rounds were both fun to participate in and a visual feast of the best on offer. But for me personally the big news is that I managed to hit my target of 600pts ! WoooHoo! OK so its not even in the same ballpark as some of the entrants - It isn't even on the same planet as those in the top spots - but I'm proud of my efforts none the less.

I would have liked to have snuck in a last minute entry but bucket loads of brown stuff have hit the fan in work and I haven't had the time. Instead I have spent the last week and a half pulling double shifts in the office to keep pace with the current crisis and I haven't even so much as looked at my painting desk. Luckily I had my final bonus round figures painted and submitted just before all hell broke loose here at panic-central, so my Last Stand literally became my last stand.

Anyway, its been a great Challenge and I thought now would be a good time to post a pictorial rundown of all my entries:

Judge Dredd (32mm Foundry)
Rogue Trooper (32mm Foundry)
Sorcerer (28mm Citadel) - worst entry by far...
Weyland the Smith (28mm Wayland Games) - Non-Combatant Bonus Round
The Mummy (28mm Ral Partha) - Villan Bonus Round
Panzer Grenadier Platoon (15mm Battlefront)
Tiger 131 (15mm Peter Pig) - Vehicle Bonus Round 
British Grants and Deacons (6mm Heroics and Ros)
St George verses The Dragon (28mm Mouldmaker) - Hero Bonus Round
Mayan Sacrifice (28mm Outpost Wargames) - Casualty Bonus Round
Italian heavy armour and Blitz Trucks (1:285 / 6mm GHQ & Heroics and Ros)
Tom Bombadil (28mm Citadel) - Favourite Character Bonus Round
Cowboys (28mm Foundry)
Panzer's & Palm Trees (1:285/6mm GHQ and Scotia)
And my Final Entry....

ZULU! (28mm Black Scorpion) - Last Stand Bonus Round
I realise that my total pile of painted lead isn't even remotely close to some of the other Challenge entrants, but I'm pretty pleased with what I have achieved. Many of these figures would have languished on my Lead Mountain for many years to come had it not been for the impetus imparted by the competition and I am really glad I took part. Now all I need is a new display cabinet to put them in!

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Spring Skirmish 2014

Despite a very busy period at work that saw me in the office over the weekend I was able to slip in a few hours of R&R on Sunday, and took the whole family to Sidcup for the spring edition of Skirmish. In return for dragging the wife and kids round a Wargames and Toy Soldier show we then went and had a nice picnic afterwards to soak up some of the much needed spring sunshine. So all in all we had a pretty nice day, even if the eldest had to hobble around on her crutches! As usual I spent most of my time at the show chatting with friends and it was good to see a few old faces. I didn't take a huge number of pictures this time because I was chin-wagging so much, but here's a selection of what I did take. 

Rainham Wargames Club - WWI Middle East with Camels!
North London Wargames - Kohima 1944
Gravesend Gamers Guild - Warhammer 40k
Skirmish Wargames - The Magnificent Seven
Crush the Kaiser does WWII
Crush the Kaiser does WWII

Battlegroup Normandy
Battlegroup Normandy
Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society (TWWS) - 'Fireforce' The Rhodesia War
As well as snapping pictures and chatting I also got a bit of retail therapy under my belt, and left with a couple of great books for my North Africa project (more on them later). This is a cracking little show and seem's busier every time I go. There were a lot of people there on Sunday and a lot of children and spouses too, so clearly we were not the only ones making a day out of it.