Sunday, June 13, 2021

To the Strongest!: F2F Punic Wars

After more than a year hiatus, Scott hosted a game in his Game Room on Saturday!  Yes, there was much rejoicing.  When Kevin and I arrived from our interstate journey, we were greeted by the battle sight shown below:
Now, it has been a very long time since we last played To the Strongest! so a bit of a learning curve was expected.  The battle set out was a hypothetical contest in which the point totals were nearly equal.  The Carthaginians had an advantage in number of units so the Romans would be required to earn 12 Tokens for victory whereas the Carthaginians needed only 9 Tokens to claim a win.  Kevin chose the Carthaginians.  Carthaginians move first.

From the starting gun, the Carthaginians began working the flanks while pressing forward in the center.  Actually, pressing the flanks is a bit of a misinterpretation since the Carganinian right wing moved off to take the center almost immediately.
With the Carthaginian right wing quickly moving off toward the center, their right seemed open for possible exploitation once these troops got stuck in among the troops vying for control of the center.  Something to keep in mind for the mid-game.
As both lines closed, the center became a large shoving match as the more nimble Roman Legions tried to out-muscle the larger Gallic hordes.  Both sides began taking casualties.  Note that the Roman Hastati and Princepes have the option to line-swap when needed. 
Fighting is hard in the center but notice that the Roman cavalry (in the background) is beginning to outflank the Carthaginian army.  The Carthaginian camp is under threat of attack.  Quickly the Carthaginians respond by sending their light troops back to protect the camp. 
Grinding in the center continues while Roman cavalry on the Roman right attempts to outflank the Carthaginian left.  A lot of move and counter-move activities while each jockeys for position.  The Carthaginian cavalry is pushed back and nearly forced off-table.
Control for the center continues.  The Romans in the left-center have gotten themselves into a position to launch coordinated attacks against one of the large Gallic hordes.  Horde #1 is scattered!
While the initial attack upon the Carthaginian camp was repulsed by a well-timed occupation of the camp by Numidians, Gallic Horde #2 is attacked from the flank by cavalry.  Carthaginians on the right-center have turned in to threaten the Romans.  Casualties are accruing everywhere.
In the center, The Roman CinC slips by an advancing enemy to attack Carthaginian spearmen in the flank.  Can this cavalry defeat the spearmen before they, themselves, can destroy legion they face?
Yes, they do!  In addition to the slaughter in the center, Roman cavalry occupies the enemy camp.  The Romans win 12 Tokens to 4.  Hooray! 
That was a good fight!  Fun too!

While we were all out of practice with the rules, the mechanisms came back relatively quickly especially with Scott's quick adjudications and rulings.  By mid-game, the outcome could have tipped either way.  In retrospect, the Carthaginian movement into the center with the right wing was crucial to Roman victory.  Abandoning the right allowed a Roman strike toward the camp.  Once the danger was apparent, it became a footrace to see who would occupy the position first.  Worth four tokens, this was definitely a high priority target especially for an objective left so wide open.  Having to return to defend the camp cost the Carthaginians valuable time and resources.  In the end, the camp was lost and the Carthaginian army destroyed.

This would be an interesting battle to refight.  Kevin and I departed in the evening satisfied with an enjoyable day of gaming and well-fed.  Always a pleasure to push Scott's beautiful troops across the battlefield and spend the day in the company of good friends.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Come to the Dark Side

It has been a long time since any progress was shown on the Star Wars Legion front. Today I finished off the last of the Imperial Storm Troopers from the Star Wars Legion Starter Set.  Seventeen Imperial troopers completed in all.
The Rebel AT-RT (see here) completed late last year has been joined by a handful of Rebel Troopers.  The Rebel Trooper contingent will receive a pass-in-review once I complete the remaining Rebels present in the starter set.
Why the sudden resurgence in this fledgling, little project?  Well, we spent this past Saturday with our eight year-old grandson treating him to a day of hiking, shopping, and dining to celebrate his recent birthday.  One of the stops was a game store.  The store was lined ceiling to floor with Warhammer, Flames of War, and Star Wars figures.  Spotting the Star Wars figures, he made a beeline to that section and quickly picked out a couple of sets.  The new sets chosen were Clone Troopers with a separate leader.     

Today’s requested after-school activity was the assembly of the figures picked up over the weekend.  We occupied ourselves for several hours building the eight figures in the two packs.  Next week, we plan to lay down the primer on the figures before turning to painting them.  With him having never used a spray can before, it will be interesting to see how this exercise pans out.  He has mastered figure assembly.  We will see how spray painting works for us.  Soon, we will be be considering a small game.

I have finally committed to taking my first step in hosting a remote wargame.  I will be on deck for next Tuesday's session in which I hope(!) to muddle through hosting my first remote game.  On the docket is an ECW battle.  While I initially fielded about 20 units per side for the planned game, reason surfaced and I cut back each army by five units.  Each of the combatants will field a more manageable 15 units.

Below is a view of the game table, before force reductions, showing the big screen display at the end of the 12 foot table viewed during a solo testing session.
That is it for now.  Next time, a battle report but which one?

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Impetvs Warbook2

Back in January, I received my pre-ordered copy of Impetus Warbook1.  At that time (see Impetus Warbook1), I commented on finding a surprise within the Army List book.  That surprise was a photo of my Kallapani stand used without permission.

To finish the story, several readers suggested I contact Lorenzo at Dadi & Piombo to sort out the situation.  That I did.  After several email exchanges and an apology, Lorenzo offered a complimentary copy of Warbook2 when it was released.  As seen from the cover of the book above, Lorenzo made good on his commitment.  The book arrived last week.  A very welcome gesture.

Warbook2 is spiral bound rather than perfect bound as was Warbook1.  I prefer the spiral binding since the book can lay flat on the table.  The Army Lists cover armies from 43BC to 1100AD and loaded with full color photos of miniatures.

The book contains nine volumes of Army Lists for,
  • Rome and the Empires
  • Rome Crisis and Fall
  • Britannia
  • Ancient Far East
  • Steppe Peoples
  • Armies of Islam
  • Justinian Age
  • Age of Charlemagne
  • Year 1000  
including almost 100 Army Lists.

This will provide a handy Impetus 2.0 Army List revision for these armies.  Unfortunately, these time periods are under-represented in my collections.  Still, a handy reference to have as I contemplate new armies. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

A Project Expansion?

Hard to believe that almost one year has passed since any new units for the 15mm 1859 project have crossed the painting desk.  I sensed a long time had elapsed since the last work on the project.  A quick look at the Painting Log confirmed that June 2020 was the last addition.  My, how time flies.
Off the painting desk today is a dozen, 15mm French dragoons from Old Glory 15s.  Since the French army did not field any dragoons during the 1859 campaign outside of the Guard, what am I doing fielding French dragoons?  Well, perhaps, I am planning to expand the scope of the 1859 campaign to cover 1870?  Yes, that seems a reasonable assumption.  While I would enjoy tackling the FPW allowing my 1859 French to perform double duty, it may be a very long time before I begin fielding Prussians.   
Sticking to the 1859 project, Old Glory 15s (19th Century Miniatures) recently announced additions to their 1859 Sardinian (Italian) range.  Added into the range are Bersaglieri, heavy cavalry, light cavalry, and artillery.  While I likely have enough of these troops already in-house to complete the Sardinian OB for 1859, I ought to double check my rosters to confirm.   

Since more than one month has passed from my last Great Wargaming Survey analysis, it may be time to dig into the data in search of another topic.  A look at hobby spending may be a topic of interest or curiosity for more than a few.  Of course, fistfuls of battle reports from recent games are waiting to be created as well as more regular sessions at the painting desk. 

By the way, blogger continues to act up from the manner in which it used to operate.  Today, the Featured Post can only fetch postings from within the last 50 posts rather than my old, five year lookback.  No more five year lookback until blogger decides to reinstate the old functionality.  Blogger has been a bit unstable over the last couple of weeks.  Earlier in the week, I had to create a work-around to insert photos from my computer.  At least that has been resolved.     

Monday, May 31, 2021

Remote Gaming: Testing 1,2,3

On the gaming front, the week just passed was a busy one.  I participated in five games in the last eight days.  Five games! Four games were remote and one F2F. That is a lot of gaming!  Hopefully, some of these games with see a post-action BatRep from me but I am so far behind in that task.  So, much gaming, in fact, that I barely picked up the paint brush.  May painting totals are going out with a whimper.  Perhaps June will see more progress?  I do not know since weather has been very good on the Palouse and mileage on the bike is increasing. 

Gaming has not been the only distraction this week.  With all of the remote gaming, I finally began to address my capability of hosting such an event.  Having a game room underground in a basement has wreaked havoc on wi-fi as the router struggles to send a good signal to the far reaches of an essentially concrete bunker.  Not being an early adopter of new technology, I may be coming in just as the world returns to normal and remote gaming falls by the wayside.  Hopefully not.  

First, over the last few weeks, I upgraded the modem, router, and added a number of Mesh Wi-Fi extender pods.  Those upgrades seem to have reduced many of the issues with signal in the basement.  Time will tell if these have mitigated the issues completely.  

Second, I purchased two webcams and figured out how to run both of them from a single laptop from fixed positions.  That technology seems to be working although some of this is still trial and error.

Finally, I have been testing Zoom and a few other remote meeting software packages for hosting remote games.  In my testing, Zoom seems to win out and many players are already comfortable with the interface. 

Uniting all of these activities and testing on my own, I finally was ready to take the next step.  That is, to see if this setup is workable in a group setting.  I enlisted Richard's help to test and he agreed to a testing session.

For the testing session with Richard, I placed each camera to the left rear of each of the ECW battle lines.  The figures are 28mm.

View above Royalist left
View above Parliament left
Each player may switch between the two views as desired.  While the detail is not as clear as in an F2F game, the entire battlefield can be seen and units can be identified.  The battle is set out on a 6' x 8' footprint on my 6' x 12' table.  Richard thought the layout and presentation was perfectly playable in a remote session.  Whew!

After the testing session with Richard concluded, I repositioned the two cameras such that they looked down the battle lines rather than from behind the left of each line.

View from near side of table
View from far side of table

I also included an iPhone as a roving camera for close ups.  See the thumbnail screen in this post's lead photo.

One of the challenges faced in many of the remote games in which I have participated is that, often times, only a portion of the playing area can be seen.  In many games, only four or six feet of the playing area can be seen with the camera placed directly behind one player's side of the table.  For larger tables and games more than 4-6 feet, the host must constantly readjust and repoint the webcam to see all parts of the action.  I wanted to keep the camera views fixed so that I would not have to readjust the cameras during the game.  Having two fixed camera views solves this, I think.

What are your thoughts on this set up?  Would this configuration be acceptable for playing remotely especially if a roving cam is available to zoom in for a close up look at your troops?  Which camera configuration do you prefer: the angled view or straight down the battle line view?  I think I have a slight preference for the angled view since it provides a sense of "ownership" to that side of the table.  Of course, my preference may change.  

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Little Action in Mexico

Initial American Dispositions
Richard brought his 15mm Mexican-American War collection out onto to the tabletop for this week's game.  Rules in use are Shako II.  I took command of the American forces under General Taylor while Graham took command of the Mexican Army.

The American Army was distributed into two divisions.  The American objective was to prevent the Mexicans from taking the bridge and occupying the town that sat astride the arroyo.  Asked to develop a plan of battle, the American forces were deployed as shown in the map above.  Unfortunately, Mexican scouts reconnoitered the area and much of the American positions were identified.  What General Taylor knew is that the Mexicans were approaching in significant strength.  He needed to deploy his limited forces to best defend his positions consistent with his orders.

Given the situation, General Taylor drafted the following orders to his divisional commanders (north is at the top of the map above):

Taylor to 1st Div Commander:

General, scouting reports suggest that a large body of enemy are bearing down upon our position.  Estimates suggest that we are heavily outnumbered.

Your primary objective is to hold the bridge and town to the south of the arroyo.  This line must be held at all costs.  2nd DIV will hold their advanced position on the north bank of the arroyo for as long as practical before falling back through your positions.  Once passed through your positions, 2nd DIV will take up defensive positions upon whichever hill is athwart the enemy line of advance.  From that position, 2nd DIV will support your efforts to hold the arroyo line.  US Cavalry and horse artillery are to support 2nd DIVs left for as long as practical.  With your forward cavalry and artillery, do not abandon the role of supporting 2nd DIV until 2nd DIV has begun to fall back.  If hard-pressed, fall back across the arroyo and protect our left.   If the enemy is floundering in attacks against 2nd DIV, do not hesitate to provide assistance in a vigorous counterattack if requested by 2nd DIV.  The arroyo is everywhere fordable.    

Taylor to 2nd Div Commander:

General, scouting reports suggest that a large body of enemy are bearing down upon our position.  Estimates suggest that we are heavily outnumbered.

Your primary objective is to delay the enemy advance for as long as practical.  Do not yield your line north of the arroyo too soon and do not allow yourself to become isolated from 1st DIV.  Make the enemy pay for assaulting the village but do not risk everything on holding your position.  Conduct an orderly retrograde to the south bank of the arroyo when your position is in jeopardy.  Do not risk waiting too long to begin your retrograde movements.  When falling back to the south bank, 1st DIV will support you.  Fall back through 1st DIV and take up positions upon whichever hill the enemy is concentrating its axis of advance.  The US Cavalry and horse artillery will protect your left until hard-pressed by the enemy.  They will then fall back to the south bank of the arroyo.  If the enemy is floundering in front of your current position, do not hesitate in calling upon 1st DIV to launch a decisive counterattack.  The arroyo is everywhere fordable.   

With that, how did the battle play out?  Please read on.

The Mexican Army reaches the battlefield deployed into four columns.  With all of the cavalry on the Mexican right, their elite infantry is situated on the opposite flank.  All four regiments of Mexican cavalry rush out onto the plain.  In the opening exchanges between opposing skirmishers, three out of four skirmishers on the field are eliminated.  This could be a short game.
The Mexican cavalry are surprised to discover a lone regiment of US cavalry facing them.  The American horsemen charge into the enemy, destroying one and routing a second during a breakthrough.
The remaining two Mexican cavalry regiments bypass the fighting and make a beeline toward the arroyo.  Having recovered from retiring in front of the American cavalry, the Mexicans attack again.
The Texas Rangers on the American right are disrupted by enemy artillery and fall back in search of safer ground.  The US cavalry falls back to recover but is charged by the Mexican horsemen.  These Mexican cavalrymen suffer a similar fate and are routed by the Americans.  Having lost half of its numbers, the Mexican cavalry commander carries onto the hill overlooking the town. 
In the center, artillery is exchanged with the outnumbered Americans taking more than they dish out.  Mexican infantry continues its advance toward the town.
Mexican artillery is very effective in the gun duel.  First the Mississippi Rifles are scattered forcing the American artillery to abandon its position with heavy losses.  The rangers fall back to the southern section of town.  The American horse artillery begins to make its presence felt as the Mexican auxiliaries deploy.  
At half strength, the Mexican cavalry fails a divisional morale test and flees the field.  With his left no longer under threat, Gen. Taylor breathes a sigh of relief.

On the Mexican left, the column begins to cross the arroyo while the center column bears down upon the northern end of town.  Seeing the Mexican cavalry put to flight, the US cavalry charges a Mexican line battalion guarding the Mexican right.  The Mexicans form a hasty square and drive off their American attackers.  That is embarrassing.  The northernmost building comes under assault from the enemy.
The horse artillery scatters a line battalion as the Mexican center column swings toward the town.  The northernmost building is under heavy assault.  One attacker is thrown back but two make it into the eastern half of the block.  At this point in the battle, the commander of the US 2nd Division orders his command to fall back from the north side of the river as prescribed in pre-battle orders. 
As night falls, the 2nd Division is withdrawing back across the bridge and through its supporting 1st Division.  Unfortunately, the American battery is lost in the commotion.  With a solid defense set up in the southern portion of town and astride the bridge, the 1st Division is prepared for any enemy assaults.  The horse artillery continues to inflict casualties on the enemy as it scatters another Mexican battalion.

With no cavalry reserve, the Mexican army may have difficulty protecting its line of communication from marauding cavalry.  As hostilities cease, Gen. Taylor is still firmly in control of the vital bridge and the southern half of town.  Should the Mexican Army resume fighting in the morning?  That may be a question for the post-battle inquiry. 

For the Mexican perspective of the fighting, please visit Graham's battle account at Way Down South, Mexico Way.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Earl of March's Battle

Today's post sees a third Battle marching out from the painting desk.  Now, this ward was finished a couple of week's ago but time passes quickly and other topics came to the fore first.  Add in a WotR game on Saturday during Virtual Huzzah and presenting this mass of troops now seemed fitting.
Out from the workbench is my third Battle for this new project.  Like the previous two units, the Battle is composed of three lines having a total of 52 figures.  The three lines contain one line of archers, one of billmen, and one of Men-At-Arms.  They are flagged as the Earl of March/Edward IV.  All figures are Perry Miniatures. 
Painting production is seeing a drop in throughput of late, primarily due to gaming and other activities.  A fourth Battle has been given a coat of primer and is awaiting its turn at the painting desk.  These may not see activity soon, though.  Several units are in the production line ahead of this project including 10mm ACW and the first unit of Sumerian spearman.  Sumerian spearmen?  Yes, I am beginning another new project.  Sumerian armies will not be marching across the workbench quickly, though.  Gaming, thinking about gaming, and writing about gaming all produce black holes into which my time is disappearing.

What about the Virtual Huzzah WotR' game?  Well, I participated in a multi-player remote game on Saturday hosted by the authors of the recently released Test of Resolve.  The game was an enjoyable six-player battle recreating the Battle of Towton.  I commanded Somerset on the Lancastrian right and witnessed all three Lancastrian retinues break on the same turn.  What a disaster!  Once I download my screenshots from the game, I will likely publish a brief recap of the action and a quick overview of my initial thoughts on the rules.