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Friday 31 August 2012

Impetus Tournament in Rosyth

Last Sunday saw the 2nd round of the Scottish Impetus Championship for 2012, held at Civil Service Club in Rosyth hosted by Dunfermline Wargames Club.  The scale was 25/28mm (my army was 25mm everyone else’s was 28mm!)

My participation was very much last minute having been on holiday in Paris the week before.  Not being totally sure of my holiday plans I had put myself down as a reserve, so when the opportunity came to play I had to sort something out pretty quickly.

This was my fourth Impetus Tournament and I had used three different armies in the previous rounds.  I toyed with the idea of using Parthians again as the list was done and the army still sorted but in the end I decided to keep up the record and went for an El Cid Spanish army.  The core of the force was four units of Christian knights supported by skirmishing cavalry.  The foot were pretty weak with some spearmen, crossbows and skirmishers.

My first opponent was Richard from the Dunfermline club using Maximilian Imperial from the early 1500’s which was actually the nearest opposition available in terms of date.  This included two formidable Pike blocks, two large units of German knights, some skirmishing foot and an artillery piece.  The terrain board that we were randomly allocated was totally flat and bare.  My plan was to take out the supporting units and then attempt to flank the pike blocks, whilst keeping out of their way.  I managed to do some damage before we ran out of time and took no losses myself so it ended up a winning draw to me scoring 40 points to 20.

The first round had been based as near as possible historical match ups but in  subsequent two rounds pairings were done under the Swiss system with the two highest scorers from round one facing off and so on down to the two with the lowest score.  I was put up against a regular opponent of mine from the Falkirk club, David Burns, with his New Kingdom Egyptians.  This is a powerful defensive army which I had played in the previous tournament. On that occasion I had tried all out attack with my Parthians, got shot to pieces, had my flanks rolled up and ended up losing by 127 points to 3!  I determined not to make the same mistake twice.

I had some time to consider what I was going to do over a very nice lunch.  Hats off to the boys from the Dunfermline club, they were very gracious hosts.  Suitably refreshed we deployed and David had the first move.  He had put his archers on opportunity in the centre and decided not to move, inviting a repetition of our earlier game.  I replied that I would not move either!  Things could have got rather silly but next turn we both decided to show some attacking intent.  There were woods spaced across the table and I sent my three units of light cavalry to take on two chariot units on my right flank.  I held my knight back on opportunity as Egyptians advanced and there was a long range exchange of fire to no great effect.

I threw out two units of skirmishers in a wood on the left but their fancy manoeuvring was to no avail they ended up exposed and dispersed.  I finally unleashed two units of knights on the left in an attempt to break through and cause some damage and although my rolls were a bit better than David’s, which were awful, there was no decisive result.  I did manage to take out a chariot on the far right whist keeping my light cavalry intact but the game petered out into a tame draw at 29 points each.  Not great but a lot better than 127 to 3.

There was one feature of the game that provided much merriment.  I had set up with two units of knight in the centre facing to the right with the side of their bases against the table edge.  I decided to turn them and take them to the left, which required each unit to pass a discipline test.  The one on the right passed first time so turned and faced its compatriots.  The other unit failed and failed and failed – it never did turn around so the two units were stuck facing each other all game.  Thank goodness the Egyptians never got close enough to attack them.

My final game was against Mike, again from the Dunfermline club, who was using a Viking army.  This consisted of six or seven units of formidable infantry in large nits.  They were mounted which enabled them to move at cavalry speed for their first turn and they would then be able to form up in shieldwall which would make them a tough nut to crack.  My tactics this time were simple and the exact opposite of the previous games.  I knew that my best chance was to hit them as hard and as fast as I could with my knights before shieldwall could be formed.  I also put my camp in an exposed position hoping to draw off a unit or two.

It doesn’t happen very often but for once things went very much to plan.  My light cavalry chased off his skirmishers early on.  I ended up with a unit of knights overlapping which was able to turn and start the process of rolling the line up.  Mike wasn’t prepared to do the same to me as he would have been exposing the flanks of his units to my supporting infantry.  He had some limited success in the centre but I was fairly quickly able to claim a 117 to 13 victory.

The competition was won by Dax Robertson using Lombards, not surprising as he has near perfect record in Impetus competitions.  Frazer Watson came second using a Chinese army and I was third, much to my surprise.

Thanks to Ross for organising the tournament and our hosts for being so hospitable. Impetus is a good system for a one day tournament as it is quite easy to get three games in.  I am looking forward to the next round in October which will be the Scottish open.  We attracted 16 players last year so I am hoping it will prove just as popular this year.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

20 wargames related things

A number of people have been doing this so I thought I would have a go.

Apologies for the odd formatting!
1.     Favourite Wargaming period and why?  Must be Ancients in 25mm.  Always has been
2. Next period, money no object? WW2 all theatres in 28mm.  More practically Sikh Wars in 15m
3. Favourite 5 films? Kellys Heroes The Life of Brian, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Magnificent Seven, The Pink Panther
4. Favourite 5 TV series?  Dr Who, Poldark, Star Trek, Time Team,
5. Favourite book and author? Lord of the Rings
6. Greatest General? Alexander the Great
7. Favourite Wargames rules? Changes all of the time.  Most played WRG 6th edition Ancients –Currently Impetus
8. Favourite Sport and team? Newcastle United / English test cricket team
9. If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?   Nowhere – how would I get back?
10. Last meal on Death Row?  I would ask the chef for his recommendation
11. Fantasy relationship and why? Demelza why not?
12. If your life were a movie, who would play you? Alec Guiness
13. Favourite Comic Superhero? Batman – Adam West incarnation
14. Favourite Military quote? Oddball: Hi, man. Big Joe: What are you doing? Oddball: I'm drinking wine and eating cheese, and catching some rays, you know. Big Joe: What's happening? Oddball: Well, the tank's broke and they're trying to fix it. Big Joe: Well, then, why the hell aren't you up there helping them? Oddball: [chuckles] I only ride 'em, I don't know what makes 'em work. Big Joe: Christ! Oddball: Definitely an antisocial type. Woof, woof, woof! That's my other dog imitation
15. Historical destination to visit? – Gloster Hill
16. Biggest Wargaming regret? Regrets I’ve had a few but then again...... but I would like to visit Historicon one day
17. Favourite Fantasy job?  Emperor of the World hahahahahahaha
18. Favourite Song Top 5? Too difficult
19. Favourite Wargaming Moment? My next game
20. The miserable Git question, what upsets you? Having to lose my temper and shout to get people who should know better to do what they were supposed to do in the first place.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Just Recieved Dux Bellorum

This is the most excited I have been in a long time (really!)

Having had a quick read through they seem excellent and a real step forward from Dan Mersey's earlier Glutter of Ravens, which I also like.

First game in a fortnight - look out for my report of the game.

Well done Osprey  - wargames rules don't have to be huge tomes costing megabucks

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Flaming B17s

We had another game of Purple Heart Valley on Monday.  Three of us (each with 4 planes) took on a box of B17s and their Spitfire escorts somewhere over France.  The Americans got pretty badly mauled and although several Luftwaffe fighters also went down only one pilot was killed and it is easier to replace planes than pilots!

My one and only Ace chalked up a Spitfire kill to take his score to 10.  My other experienced pilot has been stuck on 4 kills for a while and was unable to add to his tally.  However another guy with one mission one kill to his name managed to take out 2 B17s and a Spitfire.

These are always lighthearted fun games and this was no exception.  I tend to have Monday night games organised a few weeks in advance and so often miss out which is a shame because it is one of the games that I enjoy the most.

If you are interested in Purple Heart Valley click on the tag with that name - I did a bit of a review earlier in the year

Tally Ho! (or whatever the German equivalent is)

Saturday 11 August 2012

Dux Britanniarum – First Impressions.

I have called this first impressions rather than a review as it is based on a skim read of the rules and a single game with them.   Apologies for any errors in representing the rule mechanisms.

The rules are set in the struggle for supremacy between British and Saxon forces in the period following the departure of Rome as central power fractured and was replaced by a number of petty British Kingdoms challenged by Germanic invaders intent on conquest.  This is an immediate point in their favour as far as I am concerned as most of the rules in the pre 1500 period are generic and so often lack period flavour.  I will always give period specific rules a go.

They are unit driven rules, with the units aided by individual characters.  This reminds me of WAB, although the characters are much less powerful in combat.  My concern from some of the pre release discussions was that they would be a skirmish set with each man been moved and fought individually.  I do play skirmish games but not in a campaign environment which was another element of the rules that was much commented on.

As well as battle rules and army lists there are also sections on character generation and campaign rules which form a fundamental part of the system.  More on that later.

Dux Britanniarum is I believe similar to other rules form the TFL stable in using a card based system to add variation to the relatively simple battle rules but also to add uncertainty and generate a fog of war element.  I am new to such systems but was happy to give them ago.

The game was against Richard, an occasional opponent, and held at his house.  It was Richard who had bought the rules and suggested them for our next game.  He provided the troops and most of the interpretations as we went through the night.  It was also his first game so there was always going to be an element of trial and error in the proceedings as is inevitable in such circumstances.

We decided sides and the scenario on a random basis and I ended up commanding the Saxons on a raid against an isolated British farmstead.  My aim was to find 2 items of plunder in the buildings of the farmstead and then make good my escape.  To my great good fortune I was able to make 3 moves before the British forces were able to respond and even then they could only bring on 3 units in their first move. Further rolls determined that the Saxons had a force morale level (akin to a breaking point reached when units break and nobles are killed) of 6 to the British 8. We each had 3 nobles and a champion.  I had two units of elites and four of warriors along with a unit of archers.  Richard had the same number of units but some of his were levy.  His advantage was that he could form shieldwall and I could not. 

There is an element of pre-battle activitybefore combat commences.  It seemed unreasonable to do this before both sides were on the table so this was delayed a little.  We ended up with a duel of the champions and left it at that although there is the possibility to do other things such as call on the Gods for help or make an inspiring speech bolster your troops.  I like the fact that this can also backfire and actually make matters worse.

The above photo shows the first phase of the battle quite nicely. I got most of my units into formation and advanced to the hill whilst 2 nobles went on a treasure hunt and one unit took up position alongside the farmstead.  Richard’s men came on in a fairly haphazard manner but he soon sorted them out into reasonable order.  What you can’t see is that the left flank of my force was covered first by archers and then a substantial wood.  You can however probably deduce that the first action of the day did not go my way as my champion fell after a prolonged fight with his British counterpart.
It was at this stage that I asked what benefit my troops would get for holding the hill.  Further perusal of the rules suggested that whilst troops in shieldwall benefited those not in shieldwall, namely my Saxons, did not.

This was actually the turning point of the battle.  By this stage I had discovered one lode of plunder and I still had plenty of time to find a second.  Given the objective of the scenario was to plunder and then retreat I decided to do just that and started to do just that.  My line turned tail and made for the table edge alongside the farm.  Unfortunately the final bit of plunder proved elusive so I eventually made if off table with just the one.  There was one sticky moment when a very high score by the pursuing British might have caught me in the rear but this did not materialise.

Because I had exited from a side table edge we checked for stragglers but in the end only 4 of my men were left behind and caught their British pursuers.

So the only hand to hand combat was between the champions.  The archers shot at each other but to little avail. The Fate cards had not been used in anger but in the post battle campaign phase which we did for completeness my cards signifying successful retreat outnumbered Richards’s pursuit cards and I was able to claim a narrow victory of sorts.

We had a little time left so decided to see what would have happened it we had actually come to blows.  We each put in 3 units and 2 characters into a straight head to head punch up.  Each figure gets a dice, plus 2 for each attached character.  However Richard had some good fate cards in his hand and the advantage of being in shield wall.  I can’t remember the exact numbers but I had something like 20 dice hitting on 5s and 6s against about 30 needed 4s, 5s and 6s.  The result was predictable if slightly better than I expected with me ending up with 5 casualties to Richard’s 2. 

Although time was getting late (I have an hour’s drive back and don’t like leaving later than 11pm) we were able to spend some time discussing the pros and cons of the rules and their suitability for use in future games at our local clubs.  I always find these discussions very illuminating and it certainly provided food for thought for the drive home.

 Rather than to try to summarise our debate I will instead give you my own conclusions.

The production values of the publication are fine and the systems well thought out.  They would be usable for one off games on a club night and would normally allow a conclusion to be reached in the time we have available.  If you have troops based for other systems on multiple bases I don’t think it would be an issue to use them as they are and indicate casualties with dice or something similar.

The battle rules are OK but it is the campaign rules that are the real strength of Dux Britanniarum.  They look really good.  I actually love the fact that the game resulted in virtually no combat.  How often would that happen with other rules?  I followed the logic of the generated scenario and achieved a marginal victory.  None of this line both sides up and send them off to die stuff.  Others might find the lack of action boring or frustrating but it the ability to look beyond the normal blood and guts of almost all other wargames rule sets appeals to me.

The strength of the system is however also its weakness.  To get the most from these rules really does necessitate a commitment to play quite a lot of battles and to maintain interest they would have to be done over a reasonably short time period.  I play lots of periods and rules at the club, as do my likely opponents, so anything more than once a month would be pushing it.  I just can’t see it working.

So having enjoyed the game and my first experience of TFL rules my reluctant conclusion is that I am unlikely to play many more games and can’t justify the £25 purchase price.   If I can think of a way to play even a single campaign on a weekly or even fortnightly basis then I would go for it.  Time for me to put on my thinking cap I suppose as it would be a shame to leave it at that.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Khador v Khador

Better  Kramer v Kramer I guess.

I had my first game of Warmachine against Rory on Monday.  We both used the same army, but only one model was the same on both sides so there was a nice variation between the two forces with Rory having more unarmoured troops and firepower but my guys being more heavily armoured.

Thanks to Rory for taking me through the basics.  I will need a few more games to get my head fully round the rules.  Although the basics seem reasonably straightforward there is a lot of variation between the troop types.  Using each element of the force in combination to maximise effectiveness is all important.  A game that is easy to learn but difficult to master ticks lots of boxes for me.  The game was certainly enjoyable and left me wanting to play again soon.

Neither of us have progressed beyond black undercoat as yet so not many piccies - I did have one of my warjacks but it is too fuzzy to share.

My squad of man o war

Rory's army with Pike nearest, warjacks in the centre and snipers beyond.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Claymore 2012

Claymore is Edinburgh's long established wargames show and I always get over for a couple of hours at least.  I thought the standard of games was excellent this year and there was a substantial trade presence.  There is a good sized bring and buy as well.

Falkirk put on a game based in Latvia in 1919 with the Freikorps taking on the Soviets. The game was designed by David Burns using Triumph and Tragedy rules.  He provided most of the figures although I lent him a few of my Germans.  All figures painted by Marco of Rif Raf Miniatures

Some photos of the Latvia game

Overview of the game with David on the right and Chuck on the left

I really like the Freikprps Cavalry converted by Marco

The Soviets advance

Soviet Sailors and Siberians

My Germans

A Soviet strongpoint

Another view of the cavalry!

My acquisitions were modest.  10 28mm ECW clubmen from Reiver Castings.  An interesting first hand account of the Indonesian Confrontation - 'The Last Conflict The Durham Light Infantry Borneo 1966, A copy of the first edition Ga Pa rules from the bring & buy (£1!) and a pot of red paint for my Warmachine models.

I have slowly been collecting the old Knights Battles for Wargamers series and was gutted when I was Chancellorville being bought on the bring & buy.  Still it shows that there are still copies around.

One company that I will definitely be buying from in the future is 4A miniatures.  I really like their Sci Fi figures .  As soon as I get my Pig Iron figures painted I will be putting in an order.

Both Dux Bellorum and A World Aflame were on sale at Caliver Books.  I have them on pre order from Amazon and decided to wait until they are delivered but they did look good.

No game played which makes 6 in July unlikely but at least another blog entry done.  Now for some painting.....

Friday 3 August 2012

Inspired by 'Wargaming Girl'

Having read one of Tasmin's posts over on her Wargaming Girl blog where she set out her achievements in July and targets for August I decided to try setting some targets for myself for August, so here goes


6 games.  I have a Warmachine game set up for Monday and an Ancients game organised at a friends house on the 10th so that is another 4 to get sorted


Blog each game played plus another 4 posts (this counts as 1 of the 4!)


My Achilles heel.  I have 2 small 28mm squads that I really want to get done - 1960's British Infantry and Pig Iron SF troopers.  If I succeed I will post pictures, although the paint jobs will be pretty basic

I will report back at the end of the month - lets see how well I got on and if putting a target like this on the blog really helps, particularly with the painting

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Impetus 25mm or 15mm ?

I am a dyed in the wool 25mm wargamer for the period pre 1700, due in no small part to many years worth of investment in lead in this scale.  Now that's not to say I won't give other scales a go when someone else is providing the toys.  I was therefore able to play Impetus in two successive weeks, the first time in 15mm and the second in 25mm and I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the experiences.

Doug provided the figures for the first game, an Italian wars affair with me leading the French against the Imperialists.  The scenario was that the French had completed a hasty deployment from camp with their foes attempting to take advantage of the fact.  The main terrain feature was a river/stream which started about a third of the way in on my left, went straight across the battle field taking a sharp left fairly close to Doug's baseline as is hopefully visible in the attached photo.

I am on the left - Doug's army on the right

My cunning plan was to hold in the centre with my cavalry and missile troops (including some fairly good artillery) whilst my 2 pike blocks sped up the left flank firstly to deal with any opposing forces and then to cross the river into the flank of the opposition.  This left my right flank a bit weak covered by a unit of skirmishing mounted harquesbusiers

Doug's deployment pretty much matched mine and his plan was simple - all out attack.

Both of us are much more familiar with 25mm Impetus wargaming and neither of us appreciated that fighting on a 6 x 4 board with a MU of 1 cm (as opposed to 2 cm for 25mm) it was going to take some time for contact to be established.  When we worked out it would take 4 turns for a pike block to cross the river the penny started to drop.

The effect of the slow movement combined with the realisation that my advancing pike blocks could leave themselves open to some potentially devastating flank fire from across the river if they pressed forward too vigorously effectively took that flank out of the battle - the pike units did not get to contact.

In the centre I had the advantage of standing still whist my opponent tried to advance quickly whilst maintaining formation.  This proved difficult as some units became disordered.  My artillery inflicted minor damage again slowing up the advance somewhat.

First contact was between the lone unit of mounted harquebsusiers outnumbered 2 to 1 by stradiots and mounted crossbow.  The stradiots were the lead unit and had the advantage in melee so Doug threw them in.  This was the start of a series of melee dice rolls where mine were generally good and Doug's often woeful.  Over the next couple of turns in the harquesbusiers took out first the stradiots and then the mounted crossbow to our mutual surprise. 

In the centre I realised that I would have to loose my French knights whilst they still had their impetus and after a seesaw series of combats (and some more good dice rolls) they emerged victorious though bloodied and the facing command was broken.

At this stage we had to pull up stumps and although I had a bit of an advantage it was certainly not decisive.

The second game was against Kev's brand new 28mm Patrician Roman army.  Almost exclusively made up of  Musketeer Miniatures sculpts and beautifully painted they looked impressive. "Pretty boys but can they fight" was my tongue in cheek challenge.  In contrast my boys are downright ugly.  In an attempt to provide an historical opponent I combined Saxons and Huns and called them early Visigoths.  The Huns are painted to wargames standard but the Saxons have been downgraded from poor to battered over the last 20 years.  Perhaps a more charitable description would be grizzled veterans!

I drew up with 6 double units of foot in the centre screened by 3 units of skirmishing archers.  The 2 units of heavy Visigoth cavalry were on my right (on Opportunity) and 2 units of Hun light cavalry on my left.  Kev matched my 2 units of heavy cavalry with 3 of his own.  Two large units of barbarian foot formed the centre of his line with 2 units of Roman foot on either side.  Despite having some protection from a wood Kev's right flank did look a little exposed.

Both armies rolled forward with only my Heavy Cavalry staying back.  In the next turn I to launched charges with both of them as they were within a double move.  Kev's guys failed to counter charge so I crashed in with the advantage.

On the left flank I was able to squeeze the Huns onto that exposed flank and take out a unit of Roman foot.  A series of bloody clashes followed between the two lines of foot with heavy casualties on both sides.  The pretty boys showed that yes they could fight whist the ugly boys proved that a poor paint job and good dice rolls are not mutually exclusive.

The cavalry fight ground on.  The third Roman unit, including the general, was rather trapped so the action took place in two one on one combats that I eventually won.  Released, the general surged forward sweeping all before him but by this time the battle was just about all over.

Despite having been promoted by throwing a double 6 on initiative (Kev's was demoted on a double 1) my general fell leading his men from the front.  Inspired by his sacrifice the Visigoths fought on and in the last turn both armies went over their break point so the result was mutual destruction!

The end of the battle from my side.  On the far right my remaining unit of HC has burst through as has the Roman general.  On the left I still have 2 units of Huns and in the centre things are even

Visigoth losses

Roman losses

So how did the two games compare?  The  25mm game confirmed why I like playing Impetus on a Monday night at the club - lots of action and the game fought to a conclusion.  It is not really fair to compare it to the 15mm game as in retrospect the set up and initial plans were based on 25mm experience - we should have either used a 2 cm mu or had a smaller board.  Still an enjoyable game though.

No conclusive proof as to which scale is better then.  I will keep playing with my 25mm armies but may dabble in 15mm when opportunities present themselves.

By the way thank goodness for the 'restore session' function.  My laptop crashed just as I had completed the above but fortunately I did not lose any of it.  Phew!