Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Pydna at Partizan

My brief tour of the Midlands culminated with our Pydna game at Partizan.

The Pydna Project was a joint venture between myself and friends Keith Branagh from Aventine, Craig Davey, David Imrie and his friend Jack Glanville, Dug Page-Scott, John Thompson, Shaun "Bunker" McLaughlin and Andrew Fielden, most of whom brought miniatures to the event.

Setting up
I had initially planned a Zama-sized 1500-mini game, but the project spiraled upwards until we had 2,850 miniatures on the table on the day, recreating the battle at 1:30 scale. The phalanx (not including supports) was 2.8 metres wide, and 4-6 miniatures deep.  David Imrie was kind enough to re-base his Roman legion in a similar style to those we already had, giving us the required 4 legions of around 200 miniatures each.  Simon MacDowall kindly let me use the briefing and order of battle from his recent piece in Wargames Illustrated.  

Here's a shot of the deployment (all pictures expand when clicked):

View down the phalanx, looking up the hill towards the legions
I build the terrain, which was roughly 6 metres wide by 1.6 metres deep, with a nearly invisible grid. To recreate the slopes of Mount Olocrus upon which the Roman formed up, I jacked up the rear  nine boards by 130mm and supported it underneath with timber and Really Useful Boxes, so that a giant slope ran the entire length of the battlefield.  Here's a link to a 30 second video showing the table after deployment; this is too good to miss!

The rules we used were my "To the Strongest!" set (to be published in November), which I originally designed to play large games at shows. I was able to shout (!) the basics across the table to the players in around 15 minutes, and field questions as they went along.  We didn't need to consult the rules. The game took 3 hours and ten minutes to come to a suitably bloody conclusion.   

Mid battle
The Macedonians attacked fiercely from the outset, all along the line. From my position on the Roman right (assisting a 13 year old tyro called Solomon), I could see that the Keith's Macedonian Agema were making fast progress, successively carving their way through Dug's velites, hastati and principes. There were some local Roman successes, with Solomon pushing forward with the Numidian elephants. 

The killer taxis
However Aventine Keith managed to kill a unit of triarii and get a taxis of the Macedonian guard phalanx (above) to the top of the hill, turn it through 90 degrees (not easy) and march through the rocky terrain at the top of the hill (not at all easy) to kill the four more units of triarii (pretty darned difficult) required for a Macedonian victory. 

We all had a terrific day and it was great to catch up with friends made at previous Partizans and through blogging. An especial thanks to everyone who helped with setup and knock-down! My hat goes off to Richard and Laurence for organising the event, and dealing efficiently with the curve-ball delivered by the Kelham owners (an unexpected stage in the main hall). 

Onwards to the next big game; perhaps Magnesia?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Kent 55BC

A short video of a game I played today with Scrivs and Mog, to show them my " To the Strongest" rules.  Mog's legion was roughly handled by the Britons, but managed to hold on (barely) until relieved by Caesar and the Xth.   

I also played a game of Chain of Command with Scrivs lovely minis and terrain, the report is here.  Thanks for a great day!   Very nice curry supper with Saxon Dog and friends, too.  Off to bed for a dawn start...

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Pydna 168 BC at Partizan on Sunday

I am in the final stages of preparing for our Very Large Pydna 168BC battle to be fought at Partizan Wargaming and History in Newark on Sunday. Pydna was the last hurrah of the Macedonian army, and the Roman General Lucius Aemilius Paullus apparently suffered from nightmares about their phalanx for the rest of his life!
With 2500+ 28mm miniatures, I hope that this will be one of the largest ancient wargames ever played. We could do with four or five more generals (we ideally need a dozen), so if you are coming to Partizan and have 2 hours or so free, please drop me a line! Previous ancients experience is not essential, and I'll teach you the simple rules on the day.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Back from the Wargames Holiday Centre

Had a very enjoyable long weekend in Basingstoke gaming with a fine bunch of chaps at the Wargames Holiday Centre, near Basingstoke. Much lead was shifted, and fun had. Not a lot of photos were taken though.  :-(

The below is of a game I am using to teach the rules and to test the maniple vs. legion mechanics for our Pydna game on Sunday.  Watching the phalanx struggling up Mount Olocrus was a lot of fun. The Roman velites were particularly effective at discomforting the Macedonians.

Another battle was Megalopolis 331BC, AKA "The Battle of Mice". This was weighted in favour of the Macedonians, but the Spartans made them work very hard for their victory in both games.

The third of 5 was a battle in Kent in 55BC, with Caesar trying to rescue his ambushed foragers. He succeeded once, and failed once. I made good use of the WHC's very large tables and terrain boards for this one.

Alas I have no photos of the other two games.  I was very happy with the way the rules worked, and took away some useful suggestions.  But boy, am I knackered!  :-)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Legio Secunda Britannica

These are the last of the figures from Craig Davey, which I've supplemented and based to form the greater part of a Late Roman legion. The Secunda Britannica (or the Secundani) were the descendants of the old British II Augusta legion that had been based in Caerleon for much of its history. In the Late Roman period they may have been withdrawn to Gaul to deal with the various crises on the frontiers.

This legion has two units of accompanying light infantry, one of javelinmen and one of archers.

I really like the conversion that Craig did on the light infantryman, giving him the trumpet from a cavalryman. All of the shields are hand painted; I was reasonably successful at matching Craig's style. Later I will need to paint another 24-man unit, because I want the legion to be twice the strength of my auxiliary units, and a command stand.  This will involve a lot of work, on account of the shields, of which I can only paint 3 or 4 in an evening. With the new units and the cavalry I now have a quite respectable Late Roman army, and am going to spend a little time touching up the Picts who they will be fighting.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Equites Honoriani Seniores

The Equites Honoriani Seniores are the first of four units of Late Romans that my friend Craig Davey very kindly sold me earlier this year, that I've recently based. The photo is clickable. 

The Honoriani Seniores are a vexillationes comitatenses cavalry unit, briefly discussed on Luke Ueda-Sarson's excellent Notitia Dignitatum site.  Their shield design features a pair of blue wolves (or bears). Some suggest that they may have been recruited from Taifals, a Germanic tribe defeated and settled within the empire.  They appear under the Gallic field army, but were seconded to the Comes Brittaniorum.

Craig did a lovely job on these, including hand-painting the shields.  They form a very timely reinforcement for my Late Roman army, which will be out for a run at the Wargames Holiday Centre next weekend, when they will (perhaps) be giving my Picts a good kicking.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Chairman of the board

Today I've managed to cut and paste green flocked paper onto the additional 15 MDF boards I need for our unfeasibly large Pydna game at Partizan.  When combined with my existing boards, they will form an 18' by 5'4" table.

My joy at pasting these together is slightly confined by the fact that I have realised that they are in two subtly different colours; some in spring green, and some in autumn.  I'm hoping that this discrepancy won't be especially obvious, within the Stygian gloom of Kelham Hall.  ;-)