Tuesday 31 May 2016

Encounter at Farpunctum

This is the second To the Strongest! game that the Young Padawan and I have played since I 'completed' painting my Romans and Carthaginians. This time I opted for slightly smaller forces and some new terrain that I recently bought. We are still very much at the learning stage with this rule-set and a smaller game meant we could really get to grips with the rules and still complete a game in a reasonable time-span (ie before dinner!). While this battle is fictional but its probably a scenario that has been played out thousands of times throughout history. 

The Setup
A small Carthaginian army has discovered an area of the the river Farpunctum that is fordable for the main body of the Army, a few hours march away. However the Romans, with superior local knowledge, have left an equivalent sized force in the area and threaten to block the crossing before the Carthaginians have a chance to take it. Their commander decides to take the initiative and advances quickly on the ford.

For the purposes of this game we agreed that the river was fordable for its entire length but would count as rough ground. This presented an interesting tactical situation without restricting us to a narrow crossing point. However we also had other terrain on the table that made this a much more interesting set-up than our last game.

Order of Battle
Romans - 141 Points - 26 Victory Points
  First Command - Right Flank
    Mounted General Detached
    Equites Romani - 2 Units
    Equites Extrodinari - 1 Unit
  Second Command - Centre
    Mounted General - Brilliant
    Mounted General Detached
    Velites - 2 Units
    Hestati - 2 Units
    Princips - 2 Units
  Third Command - Left Flank
    Mounted General Detached
    Velites - 3 Units
    Triari - 3 Units
  Army Camp

Carthaginians - 135 Points - 36 Victory Points
  First Command - Left Flank
    Mounted General
    Punic Cavalry - 4 Units
  Second Command - Centre
    Mounted General - Brilliant
    Mounted General Detached
    African Spearmen - 4 Units
    Baleric Slingers - 2 Units
    African Elephants - 2 Units
  Third Command - Right Flank
    Mounted General Detached
    Numidian Skirmishers - 2 Units
  Army Camp
    Numidian Light Cavalry - 4 Units

The Action
Initial Setup with Romans at the bottom of the picture and the Carthaginian's at the top. The game hasn't even started and I'm feeling a little outnumbered!
The Carthaginians
The Roman Army

The Young Padawan and her pre game gloat.

Me and my "please don't hurt me" look

Numidian Light Cavalry begin to advance. This game we tried using d10's instead of cards and and instead of placing numbered chits on the table we put the dice down. This worked pretty well so we may continue to do this.

We used purple dice for the Carthaginians, Green dice for the Romans (couldn't get red but I'm working on it!) and yellow dice for combat actions. 

The Carthaginian's begin to advance. My strategy was to hold at the river and keep a tight formation. Outnumbered I needed to maintain order. At the end of each players turn all the dice are removed. 

My first dice roll of the game! The young Padawan found this extremely funny for some reason. 

The Punic Cavalry advance to the river edge and prepare to cross.

End of turn two and the gaps are closing. My Velites prepare to contest the river against any Carthaginian's trying to cross but on the whole I'm feeling quite outnumbered at this point. 

After some elaborate manoeuvring the Punic Cavalry cross the river and prepare to skirt around the woods.  

On the other flank missiles start to fly as the Numidian Light Cavalry move towards the Velites

Now that the intentions of the Punic Cavalry are clear (ie where they are moving) my Roman Equites turn to face the danger. They hold back for the right moment and hope that a well timed charge can see off the enemy.

End of turn three and the Carthaginian's are still advancing and other than some ineffective missile file little has happened yet. 

Numidian skirmishers try to cross the river opposed by my Velites.

The first if the Carthaginian war elephants cross the river and smash into my Hastati. The Romans hold fast and begin to inflict damage on this formidable foe.

Meanwhile the Punic Cavalry have been charged by my Equites. 

On the opposite flank my Triari prepare to be hit by the Numidian light cavalry. The Velites manage to destroy one Numidian unit but there more remain.

A clash of cavalry which ultimately ended with the Roman Equites coming out on top.

My Hastati  start to inflict some damage on the Carthaginian elephants.

The Punic Cavalry can't break my Equites who hold on for firm.

Over on the other side the Numidian cavalry seem to have ground to a halt. I think the Padawan made a mistake here and forgot to move them. 

Inexperience also shows with her handling  of the skirmishers which were sent in against my formed unit of Triari.

Success! I inflict a killing blow on one of her Elephant units and it Rampages before dropping dead...right to through a unit of Punic Spearmen! 😀

Overview about turn 6 or 7... the Romans are pressed on all sides but seem to be holding their ground. 

Now it's the Numidian's turn for bad luck. This unit rolls a one. The Padawan calls on her general to re roll for activation and she gets another one! That command cannot do anything more this turn.

The Punic Cavalry loose a unit weakening this flank.

The Numidian command is now disordered and both sides are equally mauled. VP' s are about equal so we decide to call this a draw.

This was a tough fight. From the start it felt like an uphill battle for the Romans and it's clear I need some allied units to bolster this army. Having said that they performed a lot better in this game and I gave the Carthaginian army a run for its money.

The use of coloured dice rather than numbered chits worked well and sped up play considerably. I still have a lot to learn though and will take some time to read the rules again because I'm sure I missed some things. 

Thursday 26 May 2016

Wartime Booklets

While I was at the Temple at War living history event a couple of weekends ago I had a look around some of the traders stalls. I don't normally bother with these too much as many of the items they sell are way out of my price range (I leave those sort of purchases to my Brother-in-Law) however this time I stumbled upon a few wartime publications about various aspects of the War in North Africa and couldn't resist buying them.

Destruction of an Army - The First Campaign in Libya Sept 1940-Feb 1941 was published by HMSO in 1941. Its 64 Pages are printed on good quality paper and contain many excellent illustrations and pictures that I haven't seen elsewhere. Its unclear who the intended audience was but given it was published mid-war I guess it was for a domestic audience. I have seen copies or this booklet advertised by different sellers online so there are probably lots of copies still in circulation over 70 years after it was first produced. 

Inside cover of Destruction of an Army

One of the many illustrations in this booklet.
The second publication I bought was a Post War booklet entitled RAF Middle East. This was published by HMSO in 1945 and as with the previous booklet copies are still available from traders on-line. Again the booklets 144 pages are crammed full of interesting pictures and illustrations.

Inside RAF Middle East

Useful graphics illustrate the importance of North Africa for control of the Mediterranean. 

The last booklet I bought, The Conquest of North Africa, isn't a HMSO publication and I think it probably dates to 1945 because it is part of the "victory library" series. The 78 pages cover the whole of the North Africa campaign in some detail. 

Some of the pictures are unique examples of the war photography and others are clearly recreations for propaganda purposes. 

The booklet also contains some nice maps. 

So far I have only skimmed through these but I look forward to reading them in detail over coming weeks. It'll be interesting to see how the authors portray events that for them were still contemporary and how their analysis compares to modern works on the same period.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Tiny Trees

I have been making several small woods for use with my 6mm Punic War project but its taken a little longer than I had planned because I had to wait for the trees to arrive from the other side of the planet! About three weeks ago I ordered fifty 1:300 scale trees from a Chinese seller on eBay for a ridiculously low price. The downside was that with free postage I had to be somewhat realistic and expect my purchase to take its time arriving... that carrier pigeon can only fly so fast! The parcel was dispatched the same day and took over three weeks to arrive, but I am more than happy with the scenic trees I received. So happy in fact I have just ordered 75 more.

The trees are very similar to the sort of thing you might buy for railway scenery, consisting of a brown plastic tree trunk and green clump foliage glued onto the branches. All the tree foliage was the same shade so I set aside half and gave the foliage a dusting with a dark green spray paint. However the next lot of trees I have ordered come in three different shades and a variety of shapes.

The trees can be removed when units move into the woods

The bases are irregular mdf shapes that will approximately fit the 3" squares of my TtS! game mat. I have opted to make several small woods and a couple a little larger, but I may make more at a later date. After the usual steps of gluing sand on the bases, painting and dry-brushing I then set about adding several layers of scenic material. I started with a couple of layers of mixed turf and finished of with some trimmed down flour tufts. I deliberately kept everything short so these don't look out of place next to 6mm figures. With the base dressing complete I drilled several holes approximately 1cm apart in an irregular pattern on each base. The trees fit into these holes but I opted not to glue them in position. This means that when units move into woods the trees can be temporarily removed and replaced when the woods are vacated again.

The current batch of trees are a bit uniform in shape, even with repainting some the resultant wood is a bit 'flat'. However the next batch on order are different shades and shapes and as I have made these bases so the trees can be interchanged I will be able to mix things up in future for a much more realistic and varied look. 

Wednesday 18 May 2016

TtS! Rocks

While all may be 'Quiet on the Blogging Front' in the background there is a hive of activity and terrain building. Unfortunately very little is being finished at the moment because I am awaiting a load of 1:300 trees from an eBay supplier in China. I reckon they are arriving by row boat because the delivery estimate is somewhere around the end of the month and I ordered these several weeks ago! Mind you at just £2.76 for 50 trees I can hardly complain. In the meantime I have been working on a load of figure prep and some other minor projects such as this item of impassable terrain...The Rock. 

It is designed for the 3" squares on my home-made TtS! game mat and is made almost exclusively from items supplied or found by the Young Padawan. She picked up the rock at the weekend and it was clear from its shape (with a nice flat bottom) that it was destined for the games table; the flock and yellow flower/bushes she discovered in a bargain bin at Salute; and the base is made from an off-cut of MDF found while rummaging through my bits box. 

Hopefully a few other projects will come to fruition in the next few days but I have a busy week and a busy weekend ahead so in all likelihood nothing will get done. Such is life!

Monday 16 May 2016

Temple at War

Over the weekend I had a chance to visit a small living history event that I haven't been to before. Held in the grounds of Cressing Temple Barns near Witham in Essex, the show is only in its second year but it is quickly establishing itself as a first rate event featuring first and second World War living history displays, music, vehicles and even a small battle reenactment. The weather stayed clear and Sunday was especially fine so the wife and I took the young Padawan to to the show and met up with some of the extended family for a very pleasant day out. 

WWI Re-enactors 

WWI Recruitment poster

Machine Gun drill

Me and my next car?  Don't think the wife will let me, but...

WWII American rations

WWII British Rations 

A Dodge weapons carrier

British 17pdr  6pdr Anti-Tank gun

A Spigot Mortar

Observer Corp outpost

A fine collection of Bren Guns

A PIAT launcher

Not a bad little show albeit a little smaller than the sort we normally visit.