For King and Parliament First Outing

This morning I was able to get FK&P onto the table for the first time. Been working on the ECW troops for the last year so it’s good to finally get them out.

Unfortunately the second table I’d ordered didn’t arrive but was able to get a decent setup using the one I had and the kitchen table. For those who aren’t aware, FK&P by Simon Miller and Andrew Brentnall is a playing card driven, grid based game for the British Civil Wars. It’s based on the To The Strongest! Ancients ruleset with many additions and tweaks to suit the period. The basic concept is you activate a unit by drawing a card, then continue to activate units drawing cards until you draw an Ace or a lower card in a unit with a higher card. Those activations can then be used to move and attack, drawing various cards for hits and saves.

Below is a picture set up with the grid. The grid corners are laid out using small stones and tussocks made from glue and flock – glue gun blob, flock, PVA spray.

The effect is quite subtle and doesn’t really get in the way once the game begins.
The Royalist veterans, Rupert leads the horse on the right, Sir Jacob the foot on the left and King Charles looks on.
The Parliamentary forces. Cromwell leads the horse, Skippon the foot and Fairfax as overall commander.

The Royalist order of battle consists of two standard units of foot, Prince Ruperts Bluecoats and the King’s Lifeguard of Foot, as well as a pike heavy unit of mixed regiments, the various leftovers of broken battalia from a long war forming a tercio under Sir Henry Bard. There are also two units of horse, Sir William Vaughn and the Northern Horse. All units are rated as veteran and the horse have attached shot, small units of musketeers to provide some extra initial firepower.

The order for the Parliamentary side is three standard units of foot, John Pickering’s, Sir Hardress Waller’s and Phillip Skippon’s own, as well as a unit of commanded shot, two field artillery and two units of horse, Nathaniel Rich’s and Edward Whaley’s.

The miniatures are all 10mm Pendraken and based on 120mm frontage for foot and 100mm frontage for horse and commanded shot. The grid was 150mm squared.


The Royalists make the first move and press the advance. Cautious of the enemy artillery the horse sweep round the flanks while the infantry surge forward to try and close before too much damage can be done. Bard’s motley crew lag behind the other foot but still press forward. The Parliamentary horse rush to greet the advancing Rupert but both sides draw off after an initial clash ends in stalemate. The Parliamentary foot move up on the flanks hoping to envelop the smaller enemy force while the concentrated firepower batters their centre, but at this distance the shooting from both sides proves ineffective.

Vaughan managed to get a bit ahead of the Northern Horse so Rupert went to badger them along. The Parliamentary horse moved up in good order together.
The foot stare each other down, laughing off the long distance potshots. The artillery, a little perturbed by the Royalist’s rapid advance, miss their targets badly.

The Royalist advance moves up to closer range, exchanging fire with the ill-prepared artillery and driving them from the field, but Skippon and Waller fill the gap and lay down retributive fire, inflicting heavy casualties. The Northern Horse join the flank fight and both sides battle hard, neither giving any ground.

Fight on the flanks heats up with Whaley’s horse taking some damage.
The devastation of close quarters musketry takes its toll on both sides.

Vaughan breaks Whalley and sets off in persuit, but the arrival of Cromwell gives Rich’s men a fresh burst of vigour and they press the fight against the Northern Horse, breaking them and setting off in a persuit of their own. While Rupert’s foot fall back to regroup from the fight, the King’s Lifeguard launch a brutal salvee charge into Waller’s men. The sturdy Roundheads take the punishment and push the redcoats back, turning their muskets on them and unleashing wave after wave of shot until their red coats become redder still. The Lifeguard break and flee the field.

A brutal exchange ends in a Parliamentary success.
Bard is feeling a bit lonely at the front
“Eh guys…you’re going the wrong way!”

As the foot start to tire from the heavy fighting, Bard launches a half arsed charge, but is driven back by the concentrated fire of the enemy. They have no desire to press the advantage though and take the respite where it is available. Rupert, in a rare moment of awareness, realised the foot were struggling and managed to rally his remaining horse while Cromwell charges after the jubilant horse calling them back to the fray unsuccessfully.

In a bit if a role reversal, the Royalist horse pull off from the persuit while the Parliamentary horse charge on.
The foot stand off. Notice that fresh unit of Pickering’s relaxing in the rear.

Cromwell finally manages to pull his horse back in line and gets them turned round and back towards the fight in short order. Rupert struggles with his own horse as, unused to continuing the fight after a good rout, they mill around in disarray but eventually get turned in the general direction of the enemy. The foot battle back and forth, slowly grinding each other down.

Horse finally facing the right way
The bluecoats eye the wavering troops of Skippon’s regiment

The bluecoats surge forward in a last ditch effort and break the heavily disordered Parliamentarians. With renewed effort they launch an attack on Pickering’s reserve troops but are thrown back by the fresh troops. Rupert urges his horse onwards towards the exposed flank of Waller’s regiment but the long day has tired them and Waller has time to turn his men to face the incoming attack, stopping it short. With a ripple of musketry from the Parliamentary shot, Bard’s beleaguered troops finally break and flee from the field. Seeing his centre broken and Cromwell’s imminent return, Charles sounds the retreat. The day goes to the Parliamentary forces, but the Royalist veterans put on a brave fight.

The main forces at the end of the fight, viewed from the Royalist side
The view from Cromwell’s position
The view from Rupert’s position

Overall this was a lot of fun. The difference between the staying power of the veteran Royalists vs the numerical superiority of the Parliamentarians gave for an interesting balance. The fight got pretty close at the end. Had Rupert got one more activation and managed to hit Bard’s flank it might well have been a Royalist victory.

As far as the rules go, I do think they’re an improvement over TtS! and can see a lot of the modifications that have been added to the predecessor come to their fruition here. I suspect we’ll see those come into the ancients rules too in the next version.

The game started a bit slowly, partly due to my constant checking of the rules for things like range, and what numbers I needed to get, but after the first turn or two I didn’t need to check them again and got in the swing of things. The first few turns had high cards for activations and low cards for attacks, the opposite of what you want, so that slowed things down a bit too, but once the range closed the fighting got much faster and more furious. I particularly liked the persuit mechanism as it was something very important in the outcome of fights of this period and something not all rules cover well.

The most awkward part of it all is the set up process. The tussocks and stones worked well to not distract from the game, but laying out the grid with measuring tapes was time consuming and awkward. My two options going forward are to either use my felt cloth and mark out the grid directly on that, or else make some form of template to make it easier to lay out quickly.

I know I made some mistakes with the rules, but hopefully only a few small ones. I’ll have to have another read of the rules now I’ve had a game to put it all into context. I’ll definitely get some more games in the future and have a few more units in the queue to add to the forces in future. I didn’t use a few of the rules available as this was a test game, but will be more confident with using then in future.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

What am I at?

This year has been one of the busiest of my life, both in work and personally. Hobby time overall has been pretty small compared to what I’d like due to time and budgetary constraints.

However, while work continues apace, my personal life has become a bit quieter and a bit less expensive for the moment so all being well I can focus some more time on hobbies!

The past few weeks I’ve been getting into my lead hillock and clearing it down a bit. First up, some additions to the Islamics for the crusades. This was primarily Arab tribal units and horse archer units with figures mostly from Irregular miniatures, though a few from Pendraken too.

Arab light infantry/skirmishers
Horse archer (Pendraken) marker unit
Arabic tribal light cavalry
Arabic tribal light cavalry
Horse archers
More horse archers
Even more horse archers

I’ve also made up a few “minor” command bases for the Crusaders. These can operate as sub commanders, though I intend to use them as the main commanders in a campaign that I plan to do between two minor (imaginary) Crusader and Islamic states. Figures are again a mix of Irregular and Pendraken.

Next up a little preview of some work in progress. I’ve settled on the Crimean War as my 2mm project and have started putting together the British units. Still toying with basing design and flags.

There’ll be plenty more to follow in the near future. Initially I’m doing the Battle of the Alma with BBB so will need to fill out the British, French, Russians and a few Turkish too. Depending how I feel about things after this I may expand the forces out to cover the entire set of BBB Crimean War scenarios.

This week also marks the arrival of a fairly large order from Pendraken:

This contains the seeds of multiple projects to keep me going for the next little while, plus expansions to existing ones.

The main new project is from their Aztec range, where I’m hoping to do some of the pre-Columbian wars between the various states such as the Mexicans, Tarascans and Tepanecs.

There was also a few models from their early 20th Century ranges and a copy of Blitzkrieg Commander IV to experiment with a “Very Nor’n Irish Civul Whar” project, more on that in future posts.

There’s a stack of figures from their fantastic fantasy/dungeon ranges to have a stab at some fantasy RPG games. I’m mostly interested in historical, but the odd foray into fantasy can be fun and it’s a good way to draw others in.

There are several figures to round out my ECW armies, as well as some packs from their newly (re)published TB Line medievals to expand out the Crusader armies. Their figures, especially the cavalry, are a bit bigger than Pendraken’s normal cavalry figures, which works well as most of my knights are currently from Magister Militum, which are generally a bit chunkier and taller anyway.

Lots to keep me busy! I’m sure I’ll also be getting back to the Flippant History posts at some point too, though they’ll probably take a back seat for a while to painting.

Thanks for reading!

Matthew

English Civil War Progress Update

As I’ve mentioned a few times in past blog posts, I’ve been working on an English Civil War, or British Civil War, or War of the Three Kingdoms (but that just makes me think of China and all the potential there…) project. It has been somewhat slow going, mostly due to this being a pretty busy year (one of the busiest of my life to be honest) so in the past ten months I’ve only been able to produce a couple of small forces.

I’m basing the project on the Battle of Naseby, a turning point in the Civil War that saw the Parliamentarian New Model Army overcome the rag tag Royalist veterans. I de-scoped my initial plans a bit to focus on producing two smallish forces that I can game with, then add to and expand into the full order of battle I want.

I’ve now (finally!) finished these small forces and as of today have them varnished and drying. I decided this would be a good time to photograph them as well. Alas my photography skills are poor, and I’ve only my phone camera and poor lighting. Though typically the sun came out after I was finished! Awh well.

I’ll be putting together an order to “finish” the project in future, but want to take a break from the period for a while and focus on other things. I’ve a bunch of odds and ends for the Crusades projects to paint up and I think I’ve settled on a 2mm Crimean War project next.

So without further ado…here are the pictures. You can click on them to enlarge.

The Royalists

Parliamentarian New Model Army

Bits and Bobs

Various markers that can be used for attached shot, hero markers, etc. I’ve some casualty markers too, but I haven’t photographed them, so you’ll have to wait for when I get a game in for that!


I’ll be expanding there forces gradually over time. More horse, more foot, some dragoons are all on the agenda. I’ll also try and get a game in at some point as I’ve been looking forward to trying out the For King and Parliament rules.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

Paper Wars in Action

Last week I was able to roll out some of the 2D armies for some games. I’d put together forces for the Boyne, Culloden and Gettysburg and got a chance to play a couple of games with my father.

Culloden didn’t get onto the table, though as it was the one I was least interested in I wasn’t too concerned. For the Battle of the Boyne I used the Pike and Shotte rules with my own custom scenario for the battle. For Gettysburg I used the excellent Bloody Big Battles ruleset with a scenario from the BBB Yahoo group.

The magnetic tape the paper counters and labels were attached to worked well, giving the playing pieces some weight and other than perhaps cutting some of my flexible ferrous paper into movement trays to keep them all together on hills, I’m pretty happy with them. I’ll definitely be using the tape for future projects, provided I can find a way to cut it a bit more regularly square. I suspect patience and care is the answer but life’s too short for taking your time!

I’d initially scaled the games for dining table play but the discovery of a table tennis table at the place we were staying was too good an opportunity to pass up. With a little tweaking I was able to stretch them to suit the larger space.

I’ll be sharing all the resources I used here at the bottom of this post so stick around if you’re interested in any of it for yourself.

The Battle of the Boyne

The Battle of the Boyne is quite the appropriate one to play given the proximity to the 12th July, the traditional “celebration” of the battle in my home country, complete with bonfires, bowler hats, orange sashes, marching bands, protests, riots and flags on every lamppost (I counted no less than sixty on my short walk to work). If you don’t know of what I speak, Wikipedia is a good place to start!

Controversial as the “celebrations” may be all these centuries later, it is still an important turning point in the history of the British isles and as a battle offers a lot of fun opportunity to game.

Queen Mary and her consort, Prince William of Orange, had recently been welcomed by Parliament as the new Queen and King of England when the last King of England, James II, having the audacity to declare himself a Roman Catholic, was promptly deposed. It’s said when William turned up on England’s shores for some light invading, King James decided to do nothing about it due to having a bit if a nose bleed, which was enough to make even the most loyal of royalists rethink their position. Supporters flocked to William and Mary in droves and James, in a petulant temper, chucked the the king’s seal* into the river and fled the city. This gave Parliament the convenient excuse of claiming James had abdicated. Huzzah to the Glorious Revolution! All nice and neat. Now William…er well his wife Mary (James’ little sister) could be Queen and after some legal wrangling and red faces in the House, William and Mary were declared joint monarchs.

James ran off to Ireland to drum up support with the help of the French and started making trouble in his neighbourhood. He got in one little fight and then got scared and ran off to be the king of … nothing. That fight was the battle of the Boyne, part of a wider campaign by William to bring the unruly Irish (who seemed to think they should be allowed to practice religion however they wished, the horror!) under full control. In truth the battle was less significant at the time than the battle of Aughrim a year later, which ended the Williamite War in Ireland, but as James and William were both present at the Boyne it tends to get all the press.

Interestingly, it was the anniversary of Aughrim that was originally celebrated on the 12th, with the Boyne taking over in importance a century later and stealing the date (it was fought on the 1st by the Julian calendar). Also, if seen in the wider context of European politics it is interesting to note that the Pope at the time was in fact an ally of William in the League of Augsburg arrayed against the French, a bit of an odd quirk of history given the sectarian nature of the war and remembrance of it.

The battle was preceded by a feint by William, sending a small contingent of cavalry far down the river to ford while bringing his main force towards Oldbridge where the river was more easily forded.

James mistook the feint for the main attack and sent around two thirds of his force to intercept. They pulled up opposite sides of an impassible marsh and stared at each other until word reached them that William had crossed already at which point James promptly ran away.

 

* The kind used to stamp things, not the noisy sea mammal, who would be unperturbed by a dip in the river. 


I decided to focus the battle at the Oldbridge crossing, here are some shots of the setup:

Oldbridge Town, the main objective of the game to hold/take. The fields in the distance cover the whole area enclosed by the hedge (as I said, expecting a smaller table!)

I’ve set up two crossing points, one a ford, the other an island with slightly different rules for each. There’s marshy ground on the other side of the island.

The sheep in their enclosures. No sheep were harmed in the making of this battle.

I took on the role of James’ understaffed defenders while my dad decided to lead King Billy’s forces across the river.
William started his advance by sweeping the cavalry round towards the island, and moving his elite infantry up to the ford. He opened combat with a somewhat ineffective artillery barrage. The defending forces deployed the dragoons along the hedges and moved the cavalry over towards the ford to try and support the Oldbridge defence. The infantry fired a few potshots across the river to no real effect.
William’s cavalry moved across the island with great elan, only to end up mired in swampy ground and milling about in skirmishing disorder for most of the battle, while the Irish dragoons picked them off one by one. The infantry began their inexorable advance across the river ford under the fire of the defenders.
The Dutch guard advanced up to the walls and hedges of Oldbridge before being thrown back by the king’s foot guard. The Irish cavalry tore along the river towards the encroaching enemy but stalled in confusion under the harsh battering from William’s artillery barrages, eventually becoming broken and scattered.
William’s infantry kept advancing under heavy fire and getting thrown back by the elite King’s Foot Guard at the walls. Confident in the defense ability of the guard, two units of infantry hopped into the open to enfilade the enemy and managed to break a couple of units before getting bogged down in combat. A shaken unit of Williams infantry (mistakenly) advanced on the guard and despite drawing combat, the support of the units coming up behind was enough to cause the foot guard to take a break test, inexplicably breaking completely without having taken a single casualty. Luck of the Irish…

The Williamite forces surged forward seizing the town and taking the victory. James turned up at the end to see what was going on, far too late to do anything worthwhile.


Some shots from the game, Dutch in Orange, Irish in Green. Obviously!

William’s forces advancing towards Oldbridge

Some milling cavalry

The advancing cavalry, looking frisky, unaware of the artillery barrage about to cause them some consternation


All in all the scenario played out well. I think I managed to organise the forces well and the terrain added a lot of flavour to the game and helped balance the overwhelming numbers of William. I did get a few rules wrong, only one of which really altered the overall play, but was a good close game regardless.

I might make a few tweaks to the scenario if I play again, but all in all, I was pretty happy. This was my first time playing P&S but found them to flow as well as the HC games I’ve played. It would have been good had I time to play them solo first to iron out a few rough edges as was teaching my dad as I went. His summary was it was good but a bit too complicated to remember all those rules!

Gettysburg

Next up was the Battle of Gettysburg using BBB. This as a cracking game played over two days and was a close one in the end.

I’ll not go into the history as I did with the Boyne as my ACW knowledge isn’t so deep (an area I’m working to improve) but this is another attacker Vs defender scenario with the fresh faced Union troops attempting to hold their ground against General Lee’s Confederate veterans.


Dad took the dirty rebs, I took the upstanding army of the Union.

Here’s some pictures of the layout, ran out of brown tape (having used it at the Boyne) so grey and brown indicate roads, black is railway (and later rifle pits) and blue the streams. Sorry about the poor lighting, though as you can see by the light it’s been a glorious day outside. 

The rebels swept in from the north but fell like wheat to the scything gunfire of the Union forces. All day they pushed forwards but couldn’t make ground on Gettysburg. They did better on the western flank, after a bit if a stalemate over ttje railway line, they broke it and proceeded to push the Union back from the railway, forcing them to retreat up Seminary hill and pushing forward to threaten the west of Gettysburg.

Night fell with nothing more gained and the forces pulled back to recover their troops and give space for reinforcements to.make their way to the field. Day two opened with a smattering of ineffective gunfire from the Union on the west, but a devastating barrage on the east against the rebel artillery position caused some damage.

The rebels pushed forwards with great gusto, advancing on Gettysburg from the north and west but the concentration of fire from the Union lines held them at bay. A Union assault up Benner’s hill was repelled by the rebel artillery but a further Union barrage swept the hill wreaking havoc amongst the rebel artillery corps.

Some shots of where things are halfway through “day 2”:


Gettysburg


The west


The east

Fighting intensified in the second half of day 2. Pender lead the assault from the west of Gettysburg while McLaws and Anderson pushed from the North and Rodes advancing cautious from the North East. Early and Heth sat back and licked their wounds. The invincible Hood charged the rifle pits of Barlow against withering fire from across the hill, pushing them back to the river then obliterating them in a follow up assault.

The assault on Gettysburg was a success and in the closing hours of day 2, despite the valiant defence from the Iron Brigade they were shaken out if Gettysburg and the victorious rebels swarmed into the town for a well earned night’s rest. The forces consolidated their positions over night and brought in their last reinforcements. The cavalry was still engaged in battle on the east field so didn’t make an appearance.

Day three opened with the Union moving swiftly up to defend their western flanks and trying to take the round tops and devils den against Pickett and Hood moving up the West. The northern lines sent a smattering of fire into Gettysburg without much impact. The rebels launched their assault on cemetery hill, throwing everything they had at the position and quickly overwhelming the defending Union troops. Good and Pickett, overcautious of the Union artillery after the damage they’d done in the previous day’s hung back, attempting to silence the artillery position before assaulting up the steep slopes of the round tops. They succeeded in silencing them but we’re unable to take advantage of this before the fresh Union reinforcements made their way to the hills and the den. The Union made a failed attempt to retake the cemetery and as the day drew to a close the rebels in the North threw their forces against Culps hill in one last desperate charge but was thrown back by the combined firepower of the Union. 

The battle ended in a draw. The rebels had fought hard to take Gettysburg and cemetery hill, but were completely spent by the efforts. Both sides drew back to leave the fight to another time.

All in all a close run thing. Had the rebels taken Gettysburg earlier in the game they could probably have swept to victory. As it was, the solid defence put up by the Union troops broke the Confederacy troops down and managed to hold in to a draw.

Assault on Gettysburg

Assault on Cemetery Hill


Pickett’s not charge

Resources

Below are links to download the labels, scenarios and templates I used for these games.

Battle of the Boyne

Boyne OOB inspired by: https://onelover-ray.blogspot.com/2013/06/battle-of-boyne-oob-broadside-2013.html

Labels for Gettysburg

Scenario for Gettysburg – requires sign up to the Yahoo Group

Markers and Objectives

Paper Army Unit Pack – including both borderless and bordered (depending on the printer)

Terrain

Paper Wars

After my recent experiment in 2D wargaming I’ve been busy expanding the project further. I’ve now created digital copies of the troop types than can easily be recoloured and printed.

To solve the issue with the card being too thin to be practical I decided to use magnetic tape I found on eBay. The tape is a couple of mm thick so provides a good weight to the counter and being 25mm is easy to cut to shape. It’s adhesive backed as well so can add the printed and cut paper straight onto it. I also picked up a half width one to use with status indicators.

I like the magnetic tape a lot and may use it as bases for my 2mm armies when I settle on what I do for them. The Crimean being the current front runner, though if I find I like using these counters enough I may just start on 2mm 3D terrain to be multi functional instead.

The benefit of using magnetic material over thick card or MDF is I can affix them all the ferrous sheets for ease of viewing and access, rather than having to rummage around in a bag for the rights bits. It also allows me to make flexible movement trays if I need them.

I’ve also been making unit labels as counters in their own right so that they can be used in the unit and padded out with the generic troop counters. This will be useful for games where there can be a lot of different unit types and stats, or for people new to wargaming as an easy reference.

As you may have guessed from above, Gettysburg is one of the battles on the roadmap. As I’ve a family gathering for a week in June and a father and brother who could be cajoled into a game or three, these counters will provide a good ability to put on some games without being tied down to my meagre miniatures collection, which would be difficult to transport regardless.

My dad tends to be most interested in 17th-19th century conflicts, so it was no major surprises when I asked if there were any battles he’d be interested in recreating. He said the Boyne, Culloden and Gettysburg.

I’ve decided to use the excellent looking Gettysburg scenario from BBB as it seems like it will give a great sense of the conflict. I may need to make some modifications depending on how much space is available for play at where we’re staying, I doubt we’ll get a 6×4 unless we play on the floor so may have to adapt or compress things.

For Culloden, Black Powder seems a good fit, and I found a good order of battle on Junior General that I’ve used to make up the units. Keeping it fairly simple with only a few special rules to add character to the units.

The Battle of the Boyne is an interesting one. I’ve decided to focus on the actual crossing at Oldbridge and Drybridge as that was the significant action of the battle and provides a fun scenario of a weaker force defending the crossing against a large and well equipped enemy. I’m going to use Pike and Shot rules for it and have put together some special modifications to give the scenario a bit more flavour. I’ve based the OOB on this superb project.

I’ve sourced, made or modified some top down printable terrain as well so I can at least add a little more visual appeal than my quick and scrappy sketch approach last time.

There’ll be more to follow as work through the projects and assuming the battles go ahead, some battle reports to follow. I have most of the scenario design and digital work done, so now I’ve a lot of printing, cutting and sticking to do!

I may need to find some way to protect the printed counters from sticky fingers. Brush on varnish tends to smudge, and spray on isn’t much better…

Oh well!

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

Remember the Alma…

As promised, I’ve rolled out the new 2D armies to try out the Bloody Big Battles ruleset. This let me put together a game to play the rules out despite the fact I don’t have a proper miniatures army.

The scenario I picked was the Battle of The Alma from the Crimean War. The French, Turkish and British forces are attempting to overrun a defended Russian position to open the road to Sevastapol.

The terrain is very much rough and ready, much like the armies themselves!

The Turkish position arrayed for the defence:

And the allied forces entering the field:

Turn one begins with the allies advancing on the two bridges to try and sweep aside the Russians.

The Russians move in to block the way:

Turn two the British push across the river but take a heavy beating from the Russian guns in the process:

The Russians are pushed back by the French but the Russians are still preventing them from crossing the river.

On turn three the Russian assaults continue to hold the French at the river while the British seem to be stalled exchanging fire with the Russians across a stream.

The British occupy a small village and repel an assault by the cavalry.

Turn four and the pressure is on, there are only six turns to take the roads and the allies are far behind where they need to be.

The French slog across the river slowly while the British seem to do little. It seems like they have forgotten they can cross streams without a bridge!

Turn five and the French continue their grinding slog towards the objective while the British slowly, cautiously try to outflank the much weaker opposing forces rather than getting their feet wet and storming them across the stream.

The surge of Russians against the French throw them back from their hard won ground.

Turn six, the final turn and the British finally realise that they can just hop over the piddly stream and give the Ruskies their cold steel. Too little, too late.

The French flail around in disarray. The fight is over, night draws in and the allies retreat in disgrace. There is much to celebrate in the Russian camp that night.

За здоровье!


The purpose of this game was threefold. First to try out the cardboard counter armies, second to try out BBB and third to give one of my potential periods for a next project a go.

On the cardboard armies, they fared well enough. My two main issues came from the lack of weight and lack of identification. The identification issue can easily be solved with a bit of prep work to create labels but the weight issues may need some more work. The issue being that the light card tends to bunch up and overlap making it difficult to move about. This could be solved with MDF counters as someone suggested, or by using some sort of sabot system. I’m pondering the use of some old painting sticks to make labelled sabots for the counters to solve both these issues. Regardless, they worked well to get a feel for the conflict and I didn’t mind the abstracted nature of it so I’m sure they’ll come out to play again in future. Best of all, the entire project fits into a small zip up food bag!

As suggested in comments of the previous post and a related thread on the Pendraken forum, there are some great paper armies out there as well as a load of excellent looking paper terrain on http://www.juniorgeneral.org so I’ll be definitely checking that out. Thanks to everyone who commented, the feedback and suggestions are always welcome!

Regarding the Bloody Big Battles ruleset, I really enjoyed them. They’re intuitive and fun to play and keep the action moving at a good pace. I played the entire game with just two dice, rolling against a table for movement and combat rather than the buckets o’ dice or single resolution approach that I’ve encountered previously. I probably did many things wrong (like forgetting that you can cross streams until turn six!) and I’m looking forward to reading the rules in depth now I’ve a sense of the core concepts. I always find the best way to get to grips with a rule set is to get it on the table and fail fast. You learn more from where you go wrong than obsessing over knowing it all before you start. It’s all in the name of fun so no harm in fudging things here and there using common sense where you’re uncertain! I’ll do a proper rule review in a future post once I’ve had another go with them. I’d enjoy playing this scenario again and trying different approaches to see how they fare. There’s plenty of other scenarios to choose from too!

Finally, the next project. I reckon that BBB will be a lot of fun to play in 2mm where you can represent the scale of the conflicts involved. The Crimean War is a potential option. As are the Prussian wars (Austro- and Franco-). At 2mm you can easily proxy armies without it looking out of place so it wouldn’t be too difficult to field multiple conflicts with the same sets of figures. There’s plenty of other rule sets out there too covering these periods that they will adapt well. Some more research to be done!

Crusades progress update

Taking a break from the ECW for a bit, I decided to tidy up some of the bits of the Crusaders backlog along with one or two other things I found to do.

First up, after listening my way through Dan Jones excellent narrative history “The Templars”, I’ve learned that the Knights of the Temple went into battle under the fabled piebald banner, or the Baucent, the black to symbolise the Templar’s ferocity towards their enemies and the white their kindness towards their friends. I’ve updated the Templar command banner accordingly.

I also found a few painted knights lurking at the bottom of one of the figure boxes. At the time I’d not wanted to include them with the general knights as they were too heavily armoured for the period, but they work well as hero characters, markers or even lower level command figures. I’ve based them so they can be used as such.

Next up, first installment of the horse archers for the Saracens.

And finally, the biggest job of all, was rebasing the Sudanese infantry. If you look back on my earlier posts the Sudanese were spread in loose formation on huge bases. I’d intended this as a warband look but it never really worked out. I’ve rebased them into tighter formations to match the rest of the army and converted a few figures to standard bearers. Banners are hand painted because I’m slightly insane that way (and it’s a good way to learn how to get better at detail painting) and the writing on them says “God is Great” in stylised Arabic. Or so Google tells me. Didn’t quite have enough for three standard units having used some on command bases, so have it done so they can be run as two standard, two large or four small units.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

Saladin and Richard meet again!

Continuing on with my delve into past photos and battle reports, here follows another report between the Crusaders and Saracens, this time using the Soldiers of God ruleset. I should mention that these reports and pictures were all originally published on the superb Pendraken Forum. I have a thread there for the Crusades project.

Following up from her excellent Christmas presents of To The Strongest! and For King and Parliament, when my birthday rolled around I was furnished with a copy of Soldiers of God by my future wife. It’s an interesting rule set, quite different from my (limited) experience of wargaming rules in general. The game is driven by action cards with combat resolved with dice. This provides a lot of room for drama and storytelling to unfold throughout the game depending on what action cards come up! It focuses heavily on the morale of the armies, with various actions and results causing changes to the overall army morale. Once the morale drops to 0 the army breaks and runs. I played a quick test game prior to this to get familiar with the rules, but it wasn’t worth reporting on.

This was just prior to getting the kitchen ripped out (as I type we have it mostly fitted with just a few bits to still do) so please excuse any stacks of boxes or piles of rubbish lurking at the corner of the pictures! This made getting good shots and angles somewhat difficult, not aided any by the poor light conditions at present. With the kitchen ripped out, I lose my main playing area (an oversized kitchen island) but will hopefully have more space to put up some fold-up tables for games in future.


A vast plain of featureless dirt and sand is the setting for this battle as so many battles were in the period, and not at all because I don’t have any terrain…

King Richard and his knights are joined by some detachments from the Holy Orders of the Templars and the Hospitallers to face down Saladin’s Saracen horde. Choosing a right echelon attack battle plan, Richard loaded up his right flank with heavy hitters from the Hospitallers while keeping a solid centre and anchoring his left with the Templars and some Turcopole skirmishers.

Saladin spread his forces out quite evenly to provide a wall of archers and skirmishers supported by Mamluke cavalry, Sudanese infantry and a mix of militia and levy troops as a last resort, choosing to hold the line and harass the Christians rather than commit to an all-out attack.

Saladin throws out skirmish screens on his left to try and slow down the Hospitalliers and starts advancing the right to harry the Templars and commands his centre to hold as the Crusaders begin their advance.

The men at arms under Richard start to waver a bit as they advance towards the distant Saracen line, but word spreads about the holy relic Richard had recently acquired and carried into battle, no less than the big toe of St. Philmius of Nicea. With such a sure sign of God’s favour, the morale of the Christian forces is bolstered. Meanwhile, in Saladin’s camp, disgruntled mumblings amongst the Sudanese infantry result in their refusal to follow any further orders until they’re paid what they think they’re worth! Saladin ignores them for the moment, he has more important things to consider at present.

The Hospitallers begin their thunderous advance and some archers flee in terror before them, but their companions remain firm and filled with fire by Allah they surge forward with the other skirmishers and unleash a huge volley of arrows and javelins into the oncoming knights. The knights crash into the skirmishers, obliterating them in a bloody massacre, made all the worse by the panicked archers firing into the melee and wiping out some of their own! The morale of the Saracen forces is crushed as the knights press home their advantage and surge into the line of archers.

On the opposite flank, the turcopoles are pushing forward to try and sweep away the skirmishers but are met with a face full of javelins that stops them cold. The centre continues its steady advance but surprisingly the archers on the Saracen left, though shaken, manage to hold up the Hospitalliers charge and stall them in their tracks before pulling back to the safety of their lines. Perhaps they wished to wash away the shame of killing their own with the blood of the infidel.

The turcopoles continue to come under vicious assault by javelins and arrows, dropping men and horses to the blood-soaked sand. The Christians in the centre march on forward but the bloodshed to their left causes the men at arms, already less than steady become even more shaken as they march inexorably towards the solid Saracen line past the hail storm of death ripping apart the wing.
Saladin commands his right to push the advantage against the now routed turcopoles and put pressure on the Templar flank while the Hospitallers charge once against into the archers, destroying them once and for all and preparing to meet the Saracen cavalry on the next charge.

In the centre, Saladin’s forces unleash a cloud of arrows towards the oncoming Crusaders, but too soon and they all fall short. The Christians push ever onwards, the centre marching headlong into a wall of missiles as the Saracens launch volley after volley at them, slowly wearing them down.

On the Hospitaller flank, the Knights press on and crash into the Mamluke cavalry causing devastating losses for the Muslim force. Allah was with them and they rallied valiantly to continue the fight, but the Hospitaller assault was relentless and finally routed the Mamluke cavalry from the field, killing the commander of the flank in the process and leaving the infantry wide open to the next attack.

On the opposite flank, the Templars were coming under increased pressure from Mamluke cavalry, archers and skirmishers as missiles keep them at bay.

The Crusader centre finally grinds into the Saracen centre and routs some of the horse archers in a bloody brawl. Momentum wasn’t with them however and the advance stalled while everyone prepared for the next slog.

Finally tired of the torrent of pinpricks the Templars unleash a furious charge against the overconfident Mamlukes while the commander leads his bodyguard at a gallop to wreak merry hell on the skirmishers.

In the centre, feeling the pressure from the Crusaders, Saladin agrees to a few more bags of gold to the Sudanese to bolster their lines in preparation of the Crusader advance while in an epic clash between a renowned Saracen champion and King Richard himself, Richard strikes the killing blow, shaking the Saracen troops who stood witness. The militia on the Saracen right, far from the action of their compatriots, see an opening on the Crusader centre and wheel to prepare a charge in.

The Hospitallers, fatigued from their continuous fighting, hit home against the infantry but break many horses and men against the awaiting spears.

The men at arms in the centre begin to waver again at the sight of the militia moving at their flank but inspired by Richard they push forward regardless to support the knights ahead, who are advancing into a cloud of arrows to meet the next line of Saracen forces. Hoping to break the Templars, a Saracen commander charges his bodyguard into the exposed flank of the Templar commander’s bodyguard while he’s distracted chasing skirmishers. The steady knights, unperturbed by the flank attack strike back with losses on both sides.

The Hospitallers churn through the infantry on the flank with renewed vigour, while the battle is joined in the centre and the clash on the far flank ebbs and flows between the Templars and the Mamlukes.

The attrition on combat wears both sides down, but the quality of the Crusader troops holds them together and when the Hospitallers finally collapse the Saracens left flank, Saladin’s army breaks and runs in disgrace.

The Crusaders hold the field and the road onwards is clear…for now.


It was a good game, lots of back and forth between the two sides. For a while it looked like the Saracen archery would carry the day, but the Hospitaller advance turned the tide in the end.

In my test game, it has been a bit of an attrition grind without much happening for long stretches. I went with smaller forces this time and it seemed to work out better without the battlefield getting bogged down. Interesting to see just what impact the battle plans can make and how they lock you into a certain predetermined action, much as a general would have been at the time. There is enough flexibility to make some decisions within that battle plan, but the game proceeded along the same lines as the original plans put in place. This gives a nice bit of historical flavour to the game. I’ll have to try it again with some of the different scenarios provided in the rule book.

Thanks for reading,
Matthew

Richard vs Saladin – The First (Official) Encounter

I’ve played a few battles with the Crusades armies using the Hail Caesar ruleset. I’ve found its worked well and provided fun battles. Sadly I didn’t take much by way of pictures from them so don’t have anything to show in relation to a battle report. I’ll be sure to do so if I use them again in future.

As a Christmas gift from my wife-to-be, I received a copy of To the Strongest!, which covers a similar period to Hail Caesar (i.e. EVERYTHING prior to the invention of gunpowder, and even a little into that). I played a quick test game using some hastily assembled forces, then the next day put together a proper order of battle from my collection.

If you’re unfamiliar with TtS! it works on a grid-based system with squares slightly larger than your standard base size (in my case I went with 150mm squares for my 120mm bases) and is driven by drawing from a couple of decks of playing cards rather than dice. You can also use chits to provide a similar experience or use d10 to provide a more linear/less interesting probability flow. Each turn you draw cards to activate a unit at a time and continue to do so until you draw a card lower than the last card you activated with. You can activate the same unit multiple times but gets risky as the card values mount! Similar card drawing is used to resolve combat and special actions.

This was just a straight battle with a moderate army of 150 points each on open terrain.


The Saracen forces under Saladin:

The Crusader army under Richard:

Facing each other down:

When cards were drawn for the initiative, Richard thought for sure he had lost with a measly 2, only to be pleasantly surprised when his arch nemesis drew an Ace, ceding the first move to Richard.


The Knights Templar leapt into action, rapidly advancing up the left flank in an attempt to ride down the archers and cavalry before they could unleash their hailstorm of arrows on them. The Holy Order Knights crashed into the Mameluke cavalry pushing them into disorder, but they fight back valiantly and the knights find themselves disordered as well. The turcopoles fire off a few timid potshots at the Sudanese skirmishers but their arrows fly wide. The mounted sergeants on the far left of the Templar line move sluggishly up, showing an unholy hesitancy unworthy of their devoted brethren!

More cautious than the headstrong Templar, Richard moves his forces up to the centre preparing in good order, sending a detachment of knights to back up the left’s advance. The Hospitaliers on the right, usually even more ferociously unruly than the Templar, follow Richard’s push to the centre in good order showing a rare restraint.

Undaunted by the rapid advance of the Templar upon them, the Sudanese archers and skirmishers showed their worth, unleashing a devastating rain of projectiles into the exposed turcopole cavalry, leaving nothing but the cries of the fallen infidel where two units had previously stood. On the left flank, a steady advance upon the Hospitaliers ended in a stalemate, with the projectiles falling short and leaving the Crusaders unharmed. Meanwhile, concerned about the Templar advance on his right flank, Saladin peeled off two units of cavalry to intercept them while moving the rest of his forces up to meet Richard’s.

The cavalry launched themselves forward unleashing arrow after arrow into the Templar flank. Allah blessed each shot so that it found its mark, obliterating the mighty Knights of the Holy Order and severely wounding Grand Master Robert IV leaving his few surviving men to drag him from the battlefield. The Templars had suffered a devastating blow. Richard’s knights, seeing the mightiest of God’s soldiers brought low by the arrows of the heathen began to waver.

The Hospitaliers on the right flank prove sluggish in their actions, perhaps wary after news reached them of what was happening to their Templar brothers. A half-hearted charge by the knights was repulsed and the crossbowmen failed miserably to hit anything. Richard, knowing he had to do something drastic or face the collapse of his lines raised his sword above his head and with a roar charged headlong at Saladin’s elite cavalry bodyguard. His archers unleash a volley to soften up the ranks before the mighty knights crashed into the elite guard and with the Almighty at their backs, they tore through the cavalry and swept around the back of Saladin’s lines. Saladin himself escaped the fall of his guards and found refuge amongst another unit, though Richard was not far behind him. Mesmerised as they were by their king’s charge, the rest of the units under his command didn’t manage to do anything of significance. On the left, the remaining Templar forces failed to recover from the shock of their loss and did nothing.

Reeling a little from the bold charge of the Crusaders, Saladin’s forces in the centre do little but consolidate their ground, however the flanks pick up the slack with the right picking off some more of the shocked turcopoles and the left pushing forward into the Hospitalier lines, doing some damage, and putting some unwelcome pressure on Richard’s rear, forcing him to evade.

Remaining in a torpid stupor, perhaps they were too much in their cups the previous night, the Hospitaliers do nothing but hold their lines on the right. The infantry in the centre launch their attack on the Ghazi fanatics under Saladin’s command and after a volley or two of arrows the heavy infantry charge forward. The Ghazi put up a heroic fight but the Crusader infantry steamrolls over them. Buoyed by his previous success, Richard launches a foolhardy charge into a unit of spearmen, escaping with his life but leaving his knights dead under their skewered horses.

The demoralised Templars left on the field attempt to shoot and retreat, but their hearts are not in it and their arrows fall short. Their retreat is foiled by Saladin’s careful use of a stratagem and the knights rather than retreating towards the camp move forwards into the mouth of the Sudanese archers, pulling up at the last moment just out of range. The Sudanese, being out of arrows, bring their infantry up to put pressure on the remaining infidels.

A mighty barrage of arrows from the left flank of the Saracen forces punishes the Hospitallers for their complacency, utterly destroying the Crusader infantry and leaving the knights in disorder.

Saladin’s infantry push forward while his cavalry sweep round to let fly the last of their arrows into Richard’s troops and with his right flank in retreat, his left in disarray and his centre assailed from all sides, he wisely sounds the retreat and cede’s the victory to Saladin. Praise be to Allah!


All in all a fun game. There were a few moments that it could have gone either way; had the Hospitaliers been a little more successful on the right flank it could have tipped the scales despite the losses on the left, but such is the way of war.

This was my first proper time playing this rule set, having only done a demo game working through the rulebook before. It’s an enjoyable game and movement doesn’t feel too constrained for being on a grid. There are, however, a few bits that lacked clarity in the rules and I spent a good ten minutes flipping through different parts of the book trying to determine what to do when a general was hit, which really ruined the flow of the game at that point. Since then I’ve discovered a number of errata, additions and plenty of additional material on the publisher’s website, so it’s well supported and provides a lot more clarity through that. There is a new rule set of the version due in future, but they’re focusing on a Renaissance version at the moment which I believe is an expansion of For King and Parliament, an English Civil War rule set in a similar vein. I also own FKaP and will be posting my thoughts when I finally get enough of my ECW armies done to play a game!

I had a good time playing it and will definitely be bringing the rules out again. Maybe playing a similar battle with both TtS! and Hail Caesar and seeing how they compare would be interesting. The flipping of cards for combat resolution was quite satisfying and the tactical decisions on how to use limited ammunition supplies and what activations were the priority gave the game depth.

Apologies that some of the photos are a bit blurry or shadowy, my photography skills need some serious upgrading and I’m just using my phone camera.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

Crosses and crescents and sand…Deus Vult!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I stumbled on the Crusades project almost by accident based on sampling different scales. My interest was initially taken by the Third Crusade, mostly because the characters of King Richard and Saladin were too damn fun to pass up and it would let me use the Holy Orders as well to add some flavour to the Christians. Most of the forces can be stretched into other Crusade periods as well and will be expanding them in future.

First up my generals starting with King Richard and Saladin themselves:

Grand Master Garnier de Nablus and Grand Master Robert IV de Sablé of the Hospitallers and the Templars:

Emir Muzaffar ad-Din Gökböri (“Blue Wolf”) and General Al-Afdal:


I plan to add a couple more generals to this mix in future including Saphadin and Guy de Lusignan.

The mighty Mameluke cavalry under the esteemed Saladin, Sultan of Egypt:





Ole Dicky Lionheart here (with his infantry borrowed from Henry V):








The billmen and archer’s, while flavourfully English, are not the most period appropriate. I have been using them here and there, but plan to replace them all with more mixed infantry appropriate to the period.

Al-Afdal’s plucky militia troops, with some skirmishers and light archers from the Sudan:








Now we have the Holy Orders bringing their forces to bear with Knights, Sergeants and Turcopoles:











Last up the Sudanese forces, I’m less happy with these, especially the basing on the warbands at the back, so may rebase them at some point in the future:








 

That’s it so far. I’ve plenty of areas to expand into, including adding another couple of commanders – most likely the pathetic Guy de Lusignan and the esteemed Saphadin. I’m aiming to put together a scenario for the Battle of Arsuf, for which I’ll need:

1) Hordes of horse archers. This is the gaping hole in the Saracen forces – light cavalry and horse archers. I’ve noticed this in games where I’ve only had foot skirmishers and then heavier Mamlukes for mounted archers. I proxied some Turcopoles as Turkomen in a recent game but I’m going to need a lot of them for Arsuf.

2) Crusader infantry. Now that I’m a lot more knowledgeable about the period than when I first started, the billmen and archers feel out of place and I’ve avoided using them. At present, the only period infantry I have are the Hospitallers infantry, so I plan to make a matching set of them for the Templars and then make some use of a mix of medieval and dark age infantry to do some mixed foot units and crossbowmen.

3) Terrain. Mostly trees, maybe some scrub. I have a bag of premade trees from eBay so can hopefully base them easily enough to provide a bit of sparse woodland.

4) Rebase Sudanese infantry. I originally based these in loose formation on 60*40 bases for large warbands, but I rarely play them as such and I don’t like the look. Not strictly necessary for Arsuf but I reckon I could get three units of close order infantry by rebasing them onto 40*40. I now regret basing with milliput…

5) More knights. I have about half a units worth painted from before, so would like to pick up enough to finish it and maybe do a unit of the Knights of Jerusalem in their fetching turquoise and gold outfits.

I’ll post up some past battle reports I have photos of for these forces in posts to come.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew