Wednesday 25 February 2015

Trying something new - Deadzone !

John one of the regular occupants of the dungeon has a vast collection of board type games and every now and then we get one out to have a go. The weekend saw us play Deadzone for the first time. For those that don't know it is a skirmish level Futuristic game, half way between a true board game and something like 40k. Much akin to space hulk. Smallish units of 10 or so figures but scalable if you can afford it, although some is quite cheap on eBay.

 After an initial run through the rules we set to a scenario, then we realised we didn't understand the scenario so picked another one. However, once we got going it was great. Above you can see the initial setup. Enforcers (armoured humans I think) from the left and plague monsters from the right. Hidden objectives and lots of details on the board.

The scenario definitely seemed to favour my enforcers as I was out to kill as many of the plague guys as possible this meant I could dig in, or in this game climb up to get the safest places to shoot from. The rules are fairly easy to pick up with a few complexities of special rules but nothing to faze regular gamers. Cards used for special abilities. One thing I do like is both sides have different hidden objectives so it isn't obvious what the enemy is working to.

The final shot from behind my lines so you can see the defensive position my guys have taken up, as always you need to roll dice and when you have good arcs of fire eventually you are going to bring stuff down. Would like to play again as some of the scenarios would have been much harder for the enforcers to complete. The only question now is do I collect a few of the figures.........very tempted !


Saturday 21 February 2015

Boernward Oferheah - the 'magnificent'

Boernward masses his force
Last night saw the latest instalment of our ongoing Dux Britanniarum campaign. With the previous death of Eadwulf the Good the tribes on the west coast of Cumberland had rallied around a new leader. Boernward Oferheah (a giant of a man). But whilst he organised his forces Ivar the cowardly northman had laid siege to a coastal town. Boernward would need all his great strength to break the siege and defeat Ivar in open battle.

Boernwar formed his troops together with his new champion Gudrum of Ellenfoot seen here carrying the banner. As a pitched battle you can roll for special events so Boernward broke open the beer barrels in the hope of giving his men some extra courage. It worked giving them an additional D6 in each first combat (it would have been good if I had remembered this).

Ivar's horde came running out of the trees splitting their units in two, in what looked like an attempt to surround Boernward outside the town gates.

Battlefield set with Northmen entering from the left
The best Cumberland troops pushed forward to attempt to delay the onslaught, but caution in such an open battlefield is often the best approach and Boernward ordered his army to lock shields. There was a tense pause as the Vikings came on readying themselves for the charge. Luckily a small copse forced the Vikings to remain split into two groups, this would at least mean the battle wouldn't be decided in one huge mele.

Boernward orders his men to lock shields
Ivar cunning as ever sought to boost his first charge in an attempt to break the shield wall in the rush (several good cards played to help the Vikings) only to find the Vikings charge came up short, they threw their spears but to little effect. It was now too late to hold back and the Vikings charged in. The first real clash of the battle immediately saw Boernward and Ivar up against each other, but the Vikings were out numbered. After weathering the first rush Boernward called in support from his bodyguard.

Bracing for the first clash

On the other side of the battle field the Vikings seeing their Lord charge in advanced towards the Cumberland levy. Was the order mis-heard or was it the magic mushrooms ? we'll never know but in the confusion of battle they immediately charged headlong into the levy shield wall. Although much better quality troops they were out numbered and the Levy not only weathered the storm but pushed them back suddenly the Vikings were looking shocked and anxious.

The question now was how would Boernward convert this good start. It is really difficult to push forward an advantage in shield wall formation, which is slow and inflexible. But Boernward was determined to use his early advantage calling his troops out of their defensive formation and aggressively charging forward. Clearly Ivar had not been expecting this and the shock was immediate.

English levy shield wall holds firm

Suddenly the Vikings were being pushed back on both sides of the battlefield. Things were turning nasty. Ivar sought to rally his units on the left trying desperately to pull them back in some order and re group. In the confusion Gudrum of Ellenfoot stepped too far forward and was cut down, luckily this prevented Boernward being wounded himself by the thrust. With a roar Boernward shouted for revenge, there was to be no mercy now and his men rushed forward not allowing Ivar to reform. In the struggle that ensued Ivar was lucky to survive (some say it might have been better if he had fallen!) with two wounds he limped and was carried from the field by his bodyguard.

Ivar wounded twice and forced to flee

The loss of Ivar and his champion, together with both nobles being wounded meant the morale of the Vikings had all but disappeared. The remaining Vikings shocked to see Ivar being carried from the field also decided to break and flee. But Boernward wasn't in the mood to let them away (declining the option to end the battle and choosing to pursue) , pulling his best troops forward he moved across the field seeking to block their retreat back to the coast. The vikings were already week and badly shocked. It was now only a case of how many would survive as they ran.
Blood lust - cutting off the retreat

Exhausted Vikings turn and flee for their lives
The final combats of the battle saw Boernward cutting off and smashing into the remaining viking formation from the rear. As the weakest men fell to the sword the last few turned and fled. This had been an extraordinary victory for Boenrward and it would take a long time for Ivar not only to get over his wounds but to amass enough men to again trouble the Cumberland coast. Boernward return to the town a hero and the townsfolk took up the shout Boernward the 'Magnficent' what a reputation. From the dead he was able to plunder coin sufficient to build watchtowers right across the coastal territories and to hire a new unit of archers to add to his army.

Footnote : not sure where it all went right but luck always plays a part. Choosing to pursue was a great option as I was able in the last few turns to collect 5 pursuit cards in my hand which massively boosted the victory up to +8, this far outstripped our previous best.

Boernward will now wait to see if Ivar has the will to raid his lands again !. Check out the Hobby horse for more pictures.

28 mm Greek / Persian size comparison

My second size comparison shot with a wargames factory persian made up this time with spear and shield. I have realised how hard it is to get a decent photo for comparison but you get a good idea of the relative sizes anyway.

Left to right Victrix Athenian, Foundry Carthaginian, wargames factory persian, warlord Greek but with Victrix head swop, wargames factory Numidian, crusader Celt/galatian and an old style Foundry spartan. I think head size is often the key issue as the natural variation in heights feels ok. The warlord heads and armoured bodies just look too small.

Friday 20 February 2015

28 mm persian wargames factory size comparison

Now I'm not planning a persian army in the short term.....but I have been wondering for ages how the size of the wargames factory persians would compare with other figures in my greek collection. Then I found a guy on eBay who was selling them by individual sprue at 99p. Answer get some and compare. I have made up an archer figure and will make the other into a spearmen when I get a chance.

Left to right, wargames factory Numidian, wargames factory persian and victrix archer. Look like a fairly good fit to me.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Operation Sealion...........

Well in my dreams my, New Years resolution was to progress three projects along, Greeks, Normans (lion rampant retinue) and operation Sealion. The last of these has been the slowest, not beating myself up though as lots of stuff is moving forward. However, one of my early posts showed the warbases bank which I had made on Christmas Day and it was waiting for some paint. It got some finally today.

First thing is it is BIG compared to the other terraces and post office which I have. What you can't see in the photo is the sides and back are nice off white, so it gives really good contrast with the other buildings. For scale I have included a couple of my early German tanks. Interestingly this is a project which has started almost exclusively with terrain ? I may put something in the windows not sure yet.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Greek General 28 mm

These two have been half completed on the painting table for a while. So I thought before starting the next unit I would get them completed. I have used the two figures on the base to represent the army general. You can compare them with the Macedonian equivalent on an earlier post. Couldn't decide on his shield so in the end left it as polished brass. The stone on the base is authentic greek marble !

Ranulf de Gernon hires more men

Seem to have been busy this week with stuff but managed to get a few hours here and there to finish my next Lion Rampant/Saga unit. A dozen Norman crossbow men. They took slightly longer as I made a school boy error sticking the cross bows on upside down and I hadn't noticed till well into the painting. Luckily it wasn't too bad to fix. These are all gripping beast figures. They do 3 packs so you can have a 12 man unit with all of the figures unique. I have tried to give them all some red to tie back into the army overall colour, but without them being too uniform.

4 units down now, so I need to decide what next. I do have some more hoplites already on the painting table though !

Saturday 14 February 2015

The Lion Roars again....

Friday night we were able to have our second go at Lion Rampant. Ranulf de Gernon's force supplemented by some painted dark age figures for the two units which I haven't completed yet. They were again up against a Teutonic retinue...some looking very grey in the cold February weather !
Ranulf's retinue attacks from the right
We were straight into the first scenario, the mustard one which required the attacker to set on fire and destroy objectives held near the centre of the table. I had already decided that I wasn't going to complain if I failed any leadership tests and play as far as possible to the end of each scenario I would just have to hope that Ranulf's luck especially with his cavalry was better than last time. This approach worked and both sides had to shrug off lots of bad dice rolls. I also decided to put Ranulf in one of the infantry units as this felt a bit less vulnerable. The games are really quite quick to play so I didn't capture masses of Photos.
Heavy cavalry finally get moving into the battle
THe first two photos show Ranulf's retinue coming in from the right. They successfully pushed the grey sarjents out of the way and started burning the hut to the ground. His other unit of Sarjents (I had chosen to swop the Yeoman from last time to more dependable Sarjents) can be seen moving towards the further onjectives but sadly they never made it being flattened by the Teutonic moutned men at Arms. The scenario ends when the attacker is down to half points and as can be seen we had only managed to burn two objectives so a fighting draw and two glory points each.
Ranulf's horse finally get on the move.
Our second scenario was convoy, with the Teutonic Knights attempting to escort a baggage train of pack animals from one corner to the other. These are really hard scenarios but the Teutonic Knights played a very carefully thought out strategy of whittling down the normans before starting to move the convoy. Despite his best effort Ranulf couldn't break through and his retinue was defeated piece by piece. (I didn't get many photos as it was too exciting). The high point was our first official challenge when Ranulf called out the opposing lead and cut him to pieces, Despite this the Teutonic knights did really well. A final (and would have been grossly unfair) flurry from the norman archers was extremely close to turning things around but it wasn't to be and Ranulf's retinue slunk away for another day.
Ranulf sets road block and awaits the convoy
Overall two really good battles one close draw and a tactical win which nearly failed at the last. Have immediately decided to paint up my crossbow men next.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Boernward Oferheah

After his galant death Eadwulf the Good was put to rest. That means I needed a new lord for the campaign. My sense would be with the Vikings invading and The Lord dead local tribes would look to a strong man to lead them. Step forward  Boernward Oferheah.

If you can be bothered to search the name I have tried to give it some sense. Boernward is a giant of a man, clearly descended from strong mountain stock just the kind of man to push the Vikings back into the sea.

The figure came from the bring and buy at York show, where I picked up loads of dark age figures especially characters, to play in both Dux Britanniarum campaign but also SAGA. Pretty happy with the painting but I'm not great at eyes. The shield is a spare transfer of my viking boat, but I wanted something fancy !

Monday 9 February 2015

Ranulf's retinue expands

Had some time yesterday evening and today following the Greek battle of the weekend to finish off my next Norman Lion Rampant unit. Light is really bad for some reason so photo not great. Here are 12 foot sarjeants. Sporting a mixture of swords and axes (the later swopped from other wargames factory dark age figures, there are a couple of head swops too) they are carrying their Battle Flag shields from York last weekend. Fairly happy with them but I might need to review the shields on the other units now.
I might take a shot later of all three units together. M.

Sunday 8 February 2015

Anapus River 415 BC

The Battle of Anapus River 415 BC took place on the Island of Sicily between the invading Athenians and the Syracusan forces. This is a new development in the dungeon as the growing Ancient/Greek collection has finally reached the point where a almost passable representation of real battles can be staged. So with the help of Steve's four units of hoplites playing as the local Syracusans the battle was set.
Initial deployment Athenians on the left
Athenians use initiative to push forward
It is worth outlining a couple of key points in the battle before running through what happened. The Athenians were generally regarded as a more professional army and therefore had better quality troops including mercenaries. The Syracusans were late for battle as they had expected to attack and the Athenians caught them on the hop, we represented this by two units being placed in the rear and with the limited manoeuvrability of the phalanx at this time it would be hard to get them into line in time. We also gave the Athenians first turn. The picture above shows the difference in depth of line as the Athenians were only 8 deep whilst the Syracusans were able to set up 16 deep. The sources say a key event in the battle occurred when a thunderstorm shook the morale of the Syracusans for fun we represented this by pulling tokens which meant that on one random turn the Syracusans would have to take all morale tests at minus one. As it turned out the storm came early in the battle so had little effect. Finally the river at this time (October) was easily crossable so we allowed it to be crossed at any point with only a DL test for each phalanx to check if they became disrupted. I have placed extra sand bars in the river to represent this

Skirmishers attempt to hold back the advance

As in the real battle the Athenians decided to push forward as quickly as possible under the strong leadership of their General Nicias. Their left flank is covered by skirmishers as their line advanced out of the cover provided by some low hills and cliffs. They had positioned themselves between the hills and the marshy area close to the sea (shown at the bottom of these pictures) to avoid any outflanking. The Syracusans pushed their skirmish line forward to delay the advance and give them time hopefully to deploy there late arriving units.
Athenians crossing the Anapus
This was only going to be at best a slowing tactic as the Athenian formed infantry pushed on. First contact was on the Athenian left flank where they had positioned some of their best Mercenary troops these can be seen in the distance clashing with Syracusan Citizen hoplites. Things began to hot up with each advancing phalanx picking a suitable target. (we played with Clash of Empires and one of the reasons I like the rule set is when infantry blocks get to grips they don't just crumble but push and shove before finally falling apart, this feels quite realistic ?) Pictures below and right show the two battle lines coming together in several places. As in the real battle it looked like the Athenian left would push the Syracusans out of the way but after an initial upset they rallied.

Athenians across the River

In the far distance the Geloan reserve cavalry can be seen attempting to force the flank but they are thrown back by Athenian archers positioned for just such an event. (the Athenians had no cavalry during this part of the invasion). Eventually the higher quality of the mercenary troops began to tell and the Syracusan right flank became seriously fragile. However, it certainly wasn't all going the Athenian way as Syracusan militia Hoplites can be seen pushing right through in the centre and across the Anapus itself. The whole battle began to break up into individual fights between opposing units.


Syracusan militia push through in the centre
The largest such battle can be seen here in the centre of the picture. This eventually broke up into two separate fights but only after Nicias had rushed to give the Athenians a boost from his leadership. The battle was pretty much balanced at this stage with the Syracusan reserves now getting into the action and the thin Athenian line starting to look very shaky !

In the balance ?
In this picture you can see the Athenian skirmishers running down from the hills to bolster the rear centre as the Syracusan militia break through. There were now really two  key fights one on each flank which would decide the day. If the Athenian mercenaries could hold on the left a second phalanx would have time to turn and come back into the fight and in the foreground the Argive and Mantinean troops(Athenian Allies) need to push through on the Athenian right flank. Despite heavy losses the mercenaries held, again only with the active support of Nicias himself to keep them steady.

The final picture shows pretty much the end of the battle. From the foreground backwards the Athenian Allies pushing the Syracusan left back. Some did rally after this but we judged the battle to be a marginal Athenian victory at this stage. In the middle ground the Syracusan militia who had pushed across the river are now being held by the rallied Athenians supported by their skirmishers who have attacked in the flank.

The Syracusans pull back

In the distance the remaining mercenaries hold their ground whilst the second mercenary phalanx turns back into the battle. (The troops in the far right corner are actually dead !)

A really great battle with two unequal armies providing a close fight surprisingly true to the real events. Well worth the effort and preparation. We are now looking forward to our next.

Thursday 5 February 2015

Ranulf de Gernon rides forth

Catching up from a busy weekend when I had my first run out of the Lion Rampant rules. They are certainly causing a buzz and nearly every magazine and blog is picking it up. Previous posts have shown my Norman retinue in development, they aren't finished but I supplemented Ranulf's retinue with other dark age figures. They were up against a Teutonic knight based retinue also in the stages of development.

We had both read the rules before hand but as everybody has indicated the rules are pretty quick to pick up. We started with the bloodbath scenario, all went well until the Teutonic Knights managed to charge in against my archers. Surely a wipe out ? But they stood their ground and against the odds took a wound off the knights. Now the rules require a roll to check if the retinue lord is wounded, against all reasonable odds a double one was rolled and in our very first combat in our very first game  we had lost a retinue lord. The rest of the battle went fine swinging from side to side with Ranulf randomly charging about to test the rules. In the end though his retinue was pretty much wiped out.

We then rolled up a couple of scenarios from the book, we had less success with these as Ranulf repeatedly failed order rolls, this kind of detracted from two more good Teutonic wins as Ranulf's retinue effectively failed to turn up to the battle. I was extremely unlucky with order rolling so I don't think this is a fair test. We'll definitely be playing some more in the future, the scenarios require a flexible retinue which I like.

Monday 2 February 2015

Death of Eadwulf the Good

Our next instalment of Dux B campaign played out last Friday night and saw a dramatic shift in power in the west. Ivar the Coward having been pushed back into the sea came back in force. In our second straight battle scenario the Vikings rushed onto the field. Broadly speaking the quality of the troops on the Viking side is better as they have no lower quality levy troops, but the British here have the advantage of being able to form a defensive shield wall. Nothing for it but to form up and await the onslaught. This came in two directions through the trees and eventually straight up the hill. It was going to be tough to hold them back. The initial shock hit the levy who bravely held but where eventually overwhelmed and broke up or fled.

Vikings rush on through marshy ground
British form shield wall a wait

Eadwulf and Athelgard form up on the hill

Levy take the full force of Viking charge
The second and larger attack saw Ivar the Coward charge directly up the hill. Perhaps his reputation wasn't deserved, the pictures show the clash of shields as the forces met. This rapidly turned into a push of shields with shock developing on both sides and the dead mounting up each turn. You can see at one point Eadwulf's unit had 8 shock. Eventually Athelgard the champion was killed defending his Lord. But Eadwulf was able to pull Noble Godwald into the fight as well.

Push of shields on the hill
Shield wall against aggression in the balance

Eventually it looked as though the British were getting the upper hand, loses were great but they had pushed the Vikings back down the hill, the danger was they had been forced to break out of their defensive shield wall to pursue them.

Vikings pushed back ....but wait
The Vikings came back up the hill and with terrible losses the British started to break, Eadwulf made a hasty break for safety, but exhausted from the battle he just wasn't quick enough to get away and Ivar the Coward true to form chased him down an axe blow to back saw Eadwulf the Good hacked down. Although his two nobles eventually survived the battle it had been a grievous blow to the British and a new Lord would need to be found to unite the tribes and raise any siege the Vikings undertook. A very close battle which could have gone either way but suddenly slipped into a major win for the Vikings.

...........Eadwulf run down and butchered in the back !

28mm Saxon Village

After a busy weekend I don't seem to be able to keep up. So a couple of shorter blogs to keep upto date. Finished the Dark Age palisade at the weekend with grass and sandy gravel etc.. very pleased with the final output, I am not as fussy as I should be when making and painting things but it is the overall effect for me when I get things on the table. So I set the village out as I had intended and took a photo.
The terrain boards I have mean I can move the hill for the village around as necessary and of course can use the fence on the flat, or even right across the board. There is a thought  an embankment which the palisade can sit on.....a project for the future. ps I haven't made the gate yet.

Sunday 1 February 2015

28 mm Arab windfall

Previous post this evening showed the overall hoard (metal mountain) I collected from Varparnak today with the mystery unopened bag. Well for me they were well worth the wait 62 !!!!!! Metal figures for 10 quid. Outstanding and better than I had hoped for. The guys selling just wanted to get rid of them ...........
16 swordsman, 12 archers, 6 crossbows, 24 spearmen with a variety of shields and a command unit. Think they are black tree figures....I will be going to bed happy and dreaming of crescent and cross or even a Moorish Lion Rampant retinue ?

Vapnartak hoard

A sunny day in the north and a trip across the Pennines to Vapnartak in York. Excellent day, masses of traders, one or two good demonstration battles (thought there were less than the last time I came to York) and an excellent table top sale. I had the usual list of stuff to look out for, some of the hoard I brought home was on it .........but quite a bit not ! The picture shows the full hoard.
A huge selection. Lots of dark age figures and I picked up some excellent characters and dark age infantry. A big unit of greek hoplites, some 18th century civilians, an ox cart, Bretonnian archers for Lion Rampant. Shield transfers for my Normans. In the middle some 15 mm Peter Pig figures which I am going to use as bailed out tank markers for flames of war. But my best buy ( so good I am saving opening the bag !!!) is the bag on the right. A hole Warband ? of Arab infantry. My guess is 50 - 60 figures for Crescent and the Cross later in the year. I will post again later when I have walked the dogs and opened the bag.