Category: Ancient

Awake again

Hi there. It has been a very long time since I put anything here; that is really because it has been a while since I have done anything much on the gaming front.

Finally, however, some progress has been made and I finished off the Classical Indians for Art de la Guerre.

The figures for this batch are 1st Corps. An attached general, and some of those large chariots that are in breach of DoT regulations, but do look like fun.


There really is a bunch of lads in those Chariots


I assume that the lad not holding the unberella is the General


I don’t know about anyone else, but they scare me.

Given how long thy took me to complete, I may as well have applied the paint by individual molecule. Maybe I’ll do better in future.

The Saga of the Irish

I have had all the usual wargaming interests, I suppose; Seven Years War, ancients, Renaissance, WWII. As I thought of it recently, I did realise that some of my interests were more obscure than the general gaming ones; I always liked naval wargaming, and preferred WWI to WWII; preferred the Seven years war to Napoleonic gaming which was all the rage; more interested in the Italian wars of liberation/Six weeks War/Franco-Prussian war than in the ACW. My friends have noticed this tendency toward obscure subjects, and have been ridiculing me for it (and other things) for years. They would, probably, play the Chaco war game I have been thinking about, though so maybe their ridicule is not completely deserved.

Despite all this, there are a few periods to which I really have a complete indifference. Not an antipathy; I do not dislike them, I just cannot be moved to care. Modern, post WWII games fall in this category, and ACW, and Dark ages stuff. Even when, years ago and dinosaurs roamed the earth, we were all buried in WRG followed by DBM ancient and medieval stuff I had no interest in the dark ages. Happily paint and play Chariot bound Yul Brynner type Egyptians, or Sumerians complete with donkeys, but no interest in the dark ages.

So of course, the current local gaming horizon, Saga and Longstreet, is more or less an arid wasteland for me. Being a good gaming citizen I play the games. I chose the Irish in Saga, and thoroughly annoyed everyone by shooting at them out of terrain features which had no-one in them.

After a long delay, I was moved to paint a Saga army, rather than using a rather motley collection of other people’s cast offs (the ACW guys I promised have taken even longer, I just finished them). Even then I did not buy new figures; I poked around in the lead mountain until I came up with a bunch of Redoubt Miniatures renaissance Irish I had bought lord knows how many years ago and a for long forgotten purpose. I did invest in some dogs, because I could not find any in the lead mountain (quel surprise).

So here we go. Saga Irish ArmyHere is the entire war band; it escapes me now as to how many points there are… 6 or 7 maybe, because there is a a couple options. I even got enthusiastic and painted a wagon (I read there was a scenario with a wagon. I painted the bloody thing before I was informed that all the local guys hated the scenario). I messed around here with the water based oils again, and rapidly found that the sculpting on the Redoubt figures was very unrewarding of oils, so retreated rapidly to the comfort of acrylics.

While I spent my teenage years in Ireland, I am functionally illiterate in the language, so cannot tell you if the labels the nice folk at Gripping Beast have hung off them are accurate. But here are the bits and pieces.

Here we have the Fianna and the Bonnacht. As I think of it, I am not sure the Saga folk use the term Bonnacht, or if that is a renaissance one.Fianna and Bonnacht In any case the Fianna are the hearth guard types, and Bonnacht are the warriors. I used gallóglaigh figures for the Fianna in armor with axes, and the lads with the javelins and wicker shields for the bonnacht types.

Individually based as more or less required in the rules, and if they are not properly dark ages, they look ok, and at least I can tell which is which. One unit of 8 hearth guard, and two of 8 warriors (I guess, if memory serves, thats 3 saga points)

Then we have the Kerns and the Curaidh. Kerns and CuraidhThe Kerns are the unfortunate peasants who have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and have been conscripted.

The Curaidh are some sort of individual sociopath, a warlord-lite warrior guy in rules terms, who runs around on his own causing trouble. A sort of  nod to the Irish champion sort of thing, I suppose.

I have 3 of them painted here, but I recall only using two, so I have a spare. They are the chaps on horses. They each replace a hearth guard from the 8 I have pained above, so more over production. My enthusiasm will be the end of me.

In front of them, (most likely being driven into battle) we have the unfortunate Kerns (levies) shown by not having shields, and generally being a motley assortment of whatever guys I had left over.

Leading the lot (at least for presentation purposes, in any game I played the lead from the very rear) is the warlord, complete with piper. Yes, again, I have no idea if Dark ages Irish had bagpipes. I liked the figure; I like the warlord figure also. Canine contingent

Finally, we have the bunch the RSPCA are going to get soggy and hard to light about; the dogs, complete with wagon full of kibble.

Honestly I have no idea if the Irish used packs of dogs in battle. Nice idea though, so here are the pooches, with Igor, their kennel master (yes, Igor is not an Irish name. But the guy looks like an Igor, so Igor he is). They get to move around really fast, if I recall, and die a lot. Painted in grey, as proper wolfhounds, of course, except for the one brindle one, which is a homage to our own pooch, a mastiff/Irish wolfhound mix, who the local lot know well and would be completely useless in any sort of fight  because she would be too busy greeting the nice men with licks and a wagging tail to actually bite anyone. I tried to remember who was the vendor for these figures, but it completely escapes me. Google should be your friend, there cannot be too many people selling 28mm packs of war dogs.

So there we go, an Irish war band. I have had them painted for a while, but Saga seems to have died down a little locally in the face of the ongoing Longstreet campaign; I do hope to use them sooner or later though.

Ave, Caesar, nos morituri….

Some considerable time ago, one of the number of our local gamers (you know who you are, Mark) conceived of a sudden and obsessive desire to play gladiator games. You know, these guys :


OK, we're mostly naked and covered with olive oil, now what?

Why a middle aged, otherwise respectable business guy and wargamer should suddenly become

You would think the combination of Olive Oil and fine sand would be unfortunate..

so terribly interested in a bunch of muscular oiled up guys wearing leather athletic supporters I will leave for someone better qualified in the mysteries of the human mind than I am; my opinion, as much as I have one, is that it is a middle aged wargamer’s version of a red corvette, but I am probably mistaken there. Or it could be too much watching of “Rome” on HBO. I dunno.

An assembly of guys with pointy objects

We have not messed around with them yet; it took forever for me to get them painted and based, and even then I did not do that great a job. Added to that, most of our group got overtaken by other activities, family and work related. It seems to have settled down now, so I am hoping that we can get everyone together over the holidays sometime for blood and mayhem. I’m pretty sure our gladiator fan boy has some set of rules he wanted to use.
I am fairly certain that the figures are Wargames foundry, and they were the first things I painted after a long hiatus, so I really am not very pleased with them. Someone better could have done so much more, but I guess they will do to get chopped to ribbons with….

Army of the middle kingdom

Well, I have been terribly lazy, and not posted pictures of these FoG-AM Chi’in I have been using. Just to prove I actually do paint things periodically, here are some bad photos of the army.

One  thing to note is that it is actually quite a bit larger in castings than the “old” DBM standard. Just something to be aware of if you are considering starting one.

I’ve broken it into pictures of groups of chaps. All the figures are Curtey’s miniatures; they were painted badly by me with Windsor and Newton water based oils and Vallejo Acrylics.  Basing is that fancy Silflor grass stuff.

First group is the mounted element. There are only 4 units, one of chariots, two light horse, and one cavalry.

I have struggled to use the heavy chariots well in FoG-AM. The base size, obligatory charging and lack of speed makes them difficult for me. In the last couple of games they have  been successful though, so maybe I am getting the hang of it. Maybe. They are the only superior troops in the army.

I seem to have used the light horse and cavalry as my game winners in most of my outings. Which is fairly odd if you consider they are average troops with nothing much to recommend them.  However they have consistently done well. I’m ascribing that to the fact I am playing in 28mm, and a lot of the armies are smaller than mine both in frontage and unit count. This seems to leave a “corner” for the mobile troops to work somewhere, usually.  Note that the nomads have superior technology to those Chinese guys, because they have stirrups.  They are not supposed to of course, but oh well….

Next group is the Generals, and the “other” infantry, with 2 groups of mixed medium foot. I have 4 generals; despite the instructions of the rules,  I put them on round bases rather than normal ones, and I decided that the IC should have 2 guys on the base to avoid confusion, mine and others.

I painted the generals at the same time as another “unit” putting them more or less in the same colors. Mostly because I was out of clever ideas. The banners are all home-made, being painted on linen, with the names of chinese dishes gleaned from wikipedia on them. I would be worried about the accuracy of that that except that my writing of the chinese characters probably serves to make them completely illegible anyway.

These are the scary crossbow skirmishers. They really have very little to recommend them, save for soaking of shots from the enemy and forcing shock troops to charge. The lower hit rate against foot makes them pretty ineffectual (crossbow in FoG is good against armor, and cavalry, not so much against infantry) against other skirmishers.

This is the first 2 of 6 units of mixed medium foot, a unit type almost completely reviled in the FoG community. The front rank are impact foot and the rear rank crossbowmen. In games they are equipped with anti cavalry stakes also.  I painted them in pairs, allowing me to us the option of units that were all heavy weapons, and all crossbow. They are the core of the army, and really have served me well despite everyone thinking they are rubbish.

Heres a very poor photo of the staff group; really their function, except for the Inspired commander is to run around and give combat pluses. The IC runs around and tries to make sure that the undrilled mixed units periodically do as they are told.

This is is the only 8 stand unit I have. Armored offensive spearmen. These guys are moderately tough; I tend to use them in conjunction with the heavy chariots as the center of my line holding open terrain, ad they can stand up to many opponents.

Finally the last 4 units of mixed foot. These blokes are pretty unremarkable, though they do pretty well in bad terrain and their speed of movement does give them some tactical advantages.

So There you go. Shame I had to mess up the nice figures by poor photography and worse painting, but there you are. Just as a note, I did replace all the staves on the supplied weapons withe brass wire, from which my fingers have not yet recovered. I do hate the spaghetti spear look, and it was worth it.

The figures themselves are very nice; the metal is pretty hard, they are more or less flash free, and come in an impressive range of packs and poses. I cannot recommend them strongly enough….

Chinese on the road again

Sorry about the long delay, but life rather got the better of me

So after a decent showing at Historicon (5-1, I should write it up at some stage) the Qin chinese medium foot of doom had an outing at a local house last night.
War of the Roses list looked something like
TC x 2
4 Heavy Foot Armored Average heavy weapon x 2
4 Heavy Foot Heavily Armored Superior Heavy weapon x 1
6 Medium Foot Longbow Protected Average Swordsmen x 3
8 Medium Foot Longbow Protected Average Swordsmen x 1
6 Medium Foot Crossbow Protected Average x 1
4 Medium Foot Crossbow Protected Average x 1
6 Light Foot Javelin Unprotected Average Light Spear x 1
2 Knights Heavily Armored Superior Lance Swordsmen x 1

I’m not convinced this list is entirely correct, but it is probably close.

I was not at all sanguine about this match up, thinking it likely that the longbow was going to make the use of my cavalry and light horse impractical, and those have been customarily troops I have relied heavily upon.  I also thought that the longbow was going to shoot the heck of my medium foot mixed units. It really did not look good.

WotR won the toss, and chose Agricultural. There were quite a lot of open fields in the middle of the table, but the really relevant terrain pieces were a plantation some way ahead of my deployment area on my left, a village about half way along WotRs base  line, and a vineyard  that was also on his baseline. this rather constrained WotRs deployment area considerably. Indeed he ended up deploying his guys in the area between the vineyard and the village, save for the Irish light foot, thus running more or less from the center of the table to the left of my army.

I had decided to place 4 units of mixed foot on my right, along with he cavalry and the two light horse units. These were to make a rush for WotRs base line, hoping to penetrate through the village and take the camp, and forcing him to redeploy this smaller number of units to stop me flanking him or getting behind him.  I placed the Offensive spearmen and the chariots in the open in the middle, and the last two units of mixed foot to hold the plantation, thus defending the camp. One unit of foot skirmishers were on the left, and one more or less in the center.

It started well enough, with my mounted dashing forward, chasing off his light foot, and zooming on toward the built up area to shoot at the 4 crossbowmen that were holding it. The mixed foot pushed forward also, while the rest of the army stayed more or less still save for pushing forward into the plantation.

WotR more or less came forward in an arc, resting one flank on the village, while pushing out toward the plantation. I managed to shoot up the guys in the village, and spread the fire of the longbow-men enough that no one unit took too many dice. However the mixed foot units on my right almost left me down completely.. one stubbornly refused to roll a CMT to line up with the others to charge WotRs guys, despite the +2 for an IC. Another unit charged the 3 remaining crossbowmen in the village, and managed to lose the impact (it was ++, I hit on a 3, he on a 5) and then compounding the issue by falling to to fragmented. If did start to win the melee though, saving itself from a meeting with he headsman later. On top of this a unit of WotRs bill-men was taking advantage of my inability to roll a 6 or better on 2d6 to push though in the center, taking advantage of the gap between my right and center. I had to move the chariots and offensive spearmen up to close the gap, into range of the much feared longbow-men to set up an intercept charge. WotR drove some bill-men at the offensive spearmen, and the chariots really needed to charge the guys in front of them also.

The whole time a more or less pointless bunch of shooting had been taking place around the plantation. but now, it seemed, one of the two units there was going to have to go forward in support of the spear, which was really spread too thin. Meanwhile absolutely nothing was happening on my right (where the fight was supposed to take place, according to the PLAN) except the crossbowmen in the village were beat by the fragmented guys, and WotRs decided to play the winners with his light foot. Despite me being fragmented, this did not work out very well for him, and the Kerns got pounded.

So, I was fighting in entirely the place where I had not planned to. Great. Except that the charging Mixed foot unit, coming out of the plantation, managed to step forward into the 8 man longbow unit, which fragmented on impact.

At this stage WotR had lost 2 units, and 3 more were fragmented – the billmen fighting the heavy chariots were down to 50%, and fragmented, and the billmen fighting the offensive spearmen and mixed unit both were fragmented and horribly outnumbered. the lone frontage of chinese mixed unit fighting the 8 man longbow unit was holding on, and when the chinese got freed up was going to lose as well.  So we decided to call it.

So what happened? Well my plan sort of worked, I stretched him out and put him in a concave line, which allowed much less of his guys to focus his fire. Having said that, WotR had terrible dice, getting much fewer hits than he should shooting, and the one unit he had room to concentrate on was the Armored Offensive Spear, and they were in combat, so he needed a 5.

I’m thinking with better dice the result gets reversed, myself, but I’ll take it.,…

Once more with the chinese Fast Food delivery guys

Again we FoG’ed last night, and I brought the slightly-more-painted (I promise to put pictures up here to prove they are not figments of my imagination) Warring States guys once more to fight Mark’s redoubtable Late Republican Romans.

I’m figuring my luck has run out at this stage, Mark is all ready for me. And indeed he shows up with a slightly different list something like

4 X TC ( Armenian Ally)
6 X 6 Legionaries superior, Skilled Swordsmen, Armoured, Impact Foot
1 X 6  slingers Average, LF
1 x 4 Cavalry, Superior LS, Swordsmen, Armoured
1 x 4 Cataphracts (Armenians) Heavily armoured, Superior, Lance
1 x 4  Horse Bowmen LC, Average Bow
1 x 4 Light Horse, Javelin LS

This differed from last time in that there were less scary legionary types, less light troops, and more and better cavalry. I think its probably a better list for Mark, but not really against me, because its the legionary guys I’m terrified of.

My list was the same as the last outing, and can be found here.

The Romans won initiative, and chose ‘hilly” terrain. They attempted to place both an impassible quarry and a road, limiting my areas of brush that enable my guys to hide from his horrid legionaries but superior chinese generalship changed the battlefield (i.e. I rolled hot and removed both pieces).

Even with that, the terrain was not good. A small steep hill was in my side toward the back. There was a patch of brush, toward the middle of the table on my left. a very large patch of uneven on my enemies base line, in the middle.

At this stage what little clue I had took flight. I decided that racing forward to the small batch of brush on my left with 5 units of medium mixed foot would be a good plan. The 6th unit would hold the steep hill in the middle. the heavy chariots and the Offensive spearmen would hold the open ground between the 2 features. Meanwhile the Cavalry, 2 units of light horse, and 2 units of foot skirmish crossbowmen would try and make something happen on my right.

Thats it. Thats my plan. Plans like this are the reason my 10 year old son looks at me and says doubtfully “Dad, you sure thats going to work?”.

Of course it did not. Mark bunched all his romans together, and rushed them straight at the chariots and spearmen. Yes, I had him just where I wanted him, fighting 6 superior units with 2! This would work well, I’m sure.

The mixed units proved completely unable to do anything constructive to the roman slingers on the right. I held 2 of them back in a vain effort to flank the onrushing roman legionaries which were plunging toward the chariots. I sent another forward to back the inadequate one struggling with the slingers. The last doubled back to offer rear support to the offensive spearmen who were watching the onrushing tide of Foundry romans with understandable trepidation.

The only glimmer of hope was on my right, were weight of numbers had seen off the roman horse archers and the foot skirmishers had done the same for the light horse javelin-men. The both became disrupted, and without a general nearby had to fall back from my guys.

This allowed me to more or less surround the left flank guard legionary unit, also allowing me to bring up my scary average cavalry.  We shot it to disrupted in the first turn.

Unfortunately, at about this time, the legionaries plowed into the 2 “flank guard” mixed units. One legionary unit routed one in a turn, and then settled down to munch up the other one. It surprisingly held up for a couple of tunrs, before perishing to accumulated casualties.  The rest of them headed for the spear and the chariots, backed by the cataphracts.

2 units of legionaries attacked the spearmen, with one dragging the chariots into the mess.

It was about now Mark made a minor error that saved china, allowing all of us to revel in egg-foo-yung to our hearts content. He had his gallic cavalry supporting his left most cohort. The moved the cav up beside the legionaries, on the side away from me, to drive off the foot skirmishers. This allowed me to charge the legionaries in the flank with the average boring cavalry. The legionaries broke, fleeing through the Gallic cavalry, which dropped a cohesion level in horror and then a further one when burst through. My cavalry followed into the gauls, who failed their Charged while fragmented test” and broke also.

At the same time my spearmen had lost, and become disrupted. It was not going very well at all there, though the chariots were doing fine. The legionaries in front of the chariots had held off charging, recognizing that the medium foot on the steep hill would be on their flank if they impacted the chariots.  Lucky shots from the mediums on the hill had caused those legionaries to drop to disrupted, and now the chinese cavalry, rallied from pursuit, was right behind them.

I was fortunate in that the Spearmen passed their test for losing that round of combat, and was able to intercept charge the rightmost (from my point of view) legion and destroy it in one turn, it having no place to flee.

This enabled that same one average cavalry unit to charge the legionaries engaged with the spear and the chariots in the rear, breaking it, though one of the roman light cavalry units had been broken by bowfire earlier that turn, ending the game. i managed to roll up on the spearmen combat dice, so they did not actually lose the combat that turn, which would have given the romans another point. So I had lost 2 mixed foot units in winning. And the chinese cavalry were the heroes of the day, breaking 2 superior legionary units and a superior cavalry unit by flank charges.

If I learned anything it was that flank charges can be completely devastating. We knew that, of course, but this was as graphic a demonstration as one could have asked for…

The wanderings of the Fast food Delivery-men

Or the FoG Qin go on the road…

Despite the fact that I have less than half the guys painted, and that poorly, and none are based yet, I decided to go to “Phil’s battle attic” to pit the Qin chinese against some 25mm opponent. I thought it was to be Mark’s Late republican romans, the surprise losers in our first outing, but instead it was Dan’s evil french ordinance knighty boys of doom. And yes, I know this is wildly out of period, but I’ll take the games I’m, given, 25mm lead not being all that common.

I used the same list as last time, and found myself looking at 4 groups of 4 Superior heavily armoured knights. That was almost enough to make me want to pick up and go home, but the rest of the enemy was less impressive… 2 groups of 8 longbowmen, 3 groups of skirmishers, 2 four strong, and a bunch of poor longbowmen as some sort of bizarre french cheering section.

I chose the field, and picked agricultural, with 3 uneven areas, and one rough. Dan picked some opens , an obligatory uneven, and a road. The terrain went down fairly well for me, with 2 large uneven patches in the middle of the board away from the edge, one on my left,  the other more on Dan’s side on my right.

For deployment on my left, facing the uneven ground, I placed all 6 of the mixed units of medium foot.  The chariots and armoured spear were on the right of that lot, and the skirmishers, light horse, and cavalry on my right. Dan placed all his skirmishers and a unit of decent longbowmen facing the medium foot, his units of knights en haie across the middle, and another unit of longbow at the far end. His plan was to dispute the uneven ground with my medium foot with his lights.  His poor longbow lurked at the back of  his light foot.

My plan was to, at this stage, drive the mixed foot forward into Dan’s lights, and bust them up, with any luck taking the mediums with them. In the center I’d try and avoid as many of the knights as I could, and on my right try and make something happen with the lights and skirmishers,.

Dan’s plan appeared to be to crush me into small pieces in the middle with his knights, and hold me up everywhere else.

Though we more or less followed the plans, a couple of surprises were contained in the execution. I was unable to make anything happen with the light troops and cavalry. I definitely used them less well than I should, not managing to get very many around the open flank. I clearly need to work on that, that needs to happen better.

My medium foot trundled forward, caught his skirmishers, and pushed them back. Interestingly we found that they were not going to do that great against his longbow, because the main unit involved was disrupted. I need to make sure I employ these guys “clean” they need all the dice they can get.

In the centre, Dan lost by pernicious dice.  2 of the units of knights were tied up with light horse and light foot. the other 2 units headed toward the armoured spear and the chariots. The armoured spear fell back (on examination of the charts I needed to leave ’em there, they were well able to look after themselves) and the chariots sat, while one unit of  mixed foot moved up on the chariots left,  trying to remember where they packed the anti-cavalry stakes.  The idea was to have them on the flank of anything engaging the chariots, though things were looking thin for the weelie boys facing 2 units of knights.

It worked partially, though. Dan had to adjust his leftmost (my point of view)  pack of knights to acknowledge the mixed unit, so only 4 guys charged the wheelie boys. then Dan’s dice exploded, leaving a horrid mess all over the table. The knights only had 2 advantaged dice on impact with the chariots, and I rolled 2 hits, he only one. Then in combat, I got 4 hits, a knight died, they went disordered and the general died too, disrupting the other knight group. ( cannot remember if we rolled for the first, engaged group for seeing the general run over by a delivery van). On Dan’s right one group of skirmishers was dead, another about to be charged by medium foot, and the poor longbow were next on the list.  While I had failed to achieve much on my right, I had not got myself boxed in, either, so he had nothing happening there. So we called it a chinese victory at this stage.

The only thought I have here is how, in FoG, am I going to minimise the effect of a blown die roll or 2. Clearly you need to look at more average, capable, units, so if one fold, the strength of the army is not critically reduced; rather than a situation where if one or 2 of certain units are lost, the game is over, pack it up.

But I have no idea how to achieve that.