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.

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?

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