Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Friday, April 23, 2010

Carthaginian invasion...

This was a solo test game using the scenario generation system I've been fiddling around with for Lost Battles. A Carthaginian army of inferior quality is attacking Roman-occupied Gaul. The Roman defenders are of average quality.

Rome won the initiative and elected to choose board edge rather than turn order. Rome took the side with the hill and Carthage decided to move first. The attack limit is 5.

Here is a view after deployment. Both sides have weighted the right wing, refused the left and hope that their infantry will hold out long enough for their cavalry to envelop the enemy centre.

Here the wings have closed. Fighting has already commenced in the centre, over the hill zones. The view below shows the Carthaginian cavalry attacking the Roman left, which is also engaged to its front. There is a similar situation on the Carthaginian left, but the infantry have already advanced forward, leaving the outnumbered cavalry to face their Roman counterparts.

The action on the wings is quick and bloody with both sides shattering or routing the enemy's weakened left. Rome manages it more quickly however, and the Carthaginian centre is now enveloped and their morale is shakier as a consequence. To balance this, the Roman centre is entirely spent due to determined attacks by the Libyans. The situation can be seen below:

The Roman cavalry hit the Carthaginian infantry from the rear to support the flagging legions on the hill. The shot below shows the scene just prior to the Carthaginian centre and centre left folding, mirroring the events that have taken place on the Roman left.

The remaining forces of both victorious flanks now swing around in an attempt to make contact. After the advances it is the Carthaginians who hold the hill. The Romans are at breaking point, but the exhausted foot cannot land a hit on them. The Spanish cavalry is too far from the action, and there are not enough commands to get them into place. In the Roman turn the infantry can make no headway in assaulting the hill; it is left to the battered Roman cavalry who, having galloped around the rear of the Carthaginian army, now charge home against the spent Celtiberians on the Carthaginian left. The Celtiberians perhaps wish they had held their attack for a turn and let the reinforcing elephant take the lead...

A hit is scored and the remaining Carthaginians flee. It is a Roman victory, but a very tight one indeed. One more hit on the Romans and it would almost certainly have been the legionaries who failed the morale test and fled the field.

It was a good, exciting game that went well and served its purpose!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two Weeks With Dad

This is an old thing I wrote back in 2007 and originally posted on boardgamegeek. It was written after a particularly good holiday back in NZ. I'm posting it here now because I like it and to keep the blog active even while I'm busy with other things.

I was fortunate enough to head back to New Zealand with the family for a couple of weeks last month. Before leaving I decided to throw in the Commands & Colors: Ancients cards, dice, a laminated QRS and a few blocks, for I had a cunning plan.

To fill you in a bit, the old man's a chess player. We used to play a lot in spells when I was younger and still had dreams of being a better player than he was. Unfortunately, I have only ever beaten him in one game, and that was a fluke.

Second night in with wife and daughter settled down for the evening I casually mentioned 'this game that I play a bit'. We had a small discussion ending with an "If you've got a bit of spare wood lying around I could do up a board."

Next day I found what I was looking for and did do up a board, using offset squares rather than hexagons. I was sitting outside under the covered table marking it in when Dad got home from work. He was curious, so we cracked open a couple of bottles of beer and I explained how the game worked. "So there are three sections, eh?" he said.

Naturally it became necessary to demonstrate this novel concept.

The board was not the only area which required improvisation. I had only brought a few blocks with me, my idea being to use one block to represent a unit, rotating it to indicate when it had taken hits.

I set up a re-imagined version of Cannae to start things off. I called it Cannae but the Romans were given more mediums than usual and both sides started off with 5 cards. Dad was interested in the history, so we talked about that as the game went on. Dad won 7-5. Good start.

Another game was suggested, and we played again after dinner. This time I set up a ScenarioX style battle, again with the Romans given the better force balance. Dad started to pick up how to use light infantry. "You should see how this bloke from Italy uses lights," I said. Dad won again, 6-4. He saw how MI were superior to Aux in close combat. "How does evade work again?" he asked.

There was call for one more before bed. This time I went for Castulo, but without the terrain. "I still don't understand how leaders work," he said, so we went over that again. We both agreed that they were pretty useful. "How you use leaders might decide the game then," says Dad, and we both agree on that too. Dad wins again. 3-0 to him after the first day's play. Pretty good.

"By the way," I say after packing up. "Remember that Italian guy I was telling you about? Well, I play in these online tournaments. I'll show you a couple of websites."

Next morning when I got up for coffee the first scenario booklet from GMT had been printed out. "Found one that looks interesting," says Dad. "Let's try that out tonight."

The 'interesting one' turned out to be Bagradas, which I'd not played before. We set up and I explained how it was common for people to play the game twice, once from each side and total the banners to see who'd won. "Should we try that out, then?" came the reply.

This was the first time that elephants had hit the table. Dad had great success with the elephants.

My old chess scars were starting to reappear. I was getting a bit worn around the edges. There would be no helpful tips this game.

I started cautiously, waiting for a chance to get the elephants into contact. He advanced; I waited too long. After some outrageous swings of fortune and two vicious Double Time cards, Dad lost by one banner. I had won the battle but lost the war. Still, my luck had changed. "The good thing about this game", I said, "is that you'll start thinking about it at odd times."

Next morning when I got up for coffee the living rules had been downloaded from the GMT website. So had the remainder of the scenarios. "This one looks interesting," says Dad. "You know, I was thinking about that second game last night. I really should've won that. I think I played the wrong card." I agreed that it was quite possible.

That night we played the first scenario. One game a-piece and banners dead even. "This game would be quite good with figures," says Dad. "Like that Field Command game you've got. Imagine a whole board full of them. Would look pretty good, eh?" I said that I did indeed play it with figures. "I'd like to get some of them," he said.

I was away up in Wellington for the next few nights. When I got back we played again, and this continued almost every night for the rest of the holiday. We played Trasimene, Castulo, Zama, and others. Dad would find a battle he was interested in and we'd play it at night.

Towards the end he started to lose his initial confidence, and would hang back when he should have attacked a bit more. "You keep getting good cards," he'd say, "but I keep getting these blinkin' useless things!" Every day he would talk about the game we'd played the night before, and he would even talk about the game to people who had no interest in it.

As is the way of things time ran out and we had to return to Japan. They were sad to see their 8 month old granddaughter leave, and we were sad to go.

Still, Dad now has the VASSAL module on his computer, a deck of battered C&C cards, the first edition dice, and a cake-stained, forest-and-hill marked board. I think we'll be playing this again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

More jumbos, or "That's Australian gold, my friend."

I got a little time to do a spot of painting tonight on my Chariot successor elephants. I'm trying out a few different colours from my usuals: I very rarely use greens or yellows on figures at all, so it's a bit experimental. As it turns out, I seem to have an Aussie cricketer leading this herd, so he's going to have to get an alteration to his colour scheme!

Monday, April 12, 2010


Things have been a bit quiet on the blogging front of late due mainly to alterations in the domestic schedule. I've not done any gaming or painting these past two weeks, but I have been getting some hobby-related writing done these last few days, thankfully. Once that is completed it will be time to finish writing up the report for Pharsalus II. In anticipation of a bright near future, I have tidied up the hobby room so that there should be room for both painting and gaming - though the former is more urgent as the heat of summer threatens to hit. Once summer comes the paint dries up almost as soon as it's out of the pottle, and sometimes even before the pottle is opened. Time is short, and there is much to be done! On this note, I would like to finish by wishing our friends in the UK currently gearing up for Zama at Bletchley and Salute all the very best. Take a look at the blogs 'BigRedBatCave' and 'Caliban' linked to on the left to see what I mean!
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