Monday, 29 April 2013

Early Imperial Romans vs Later Pre-Islamic Arabs

And so the time has come for my newly painted Arab army to take to the field. I pitted them against a Roman army consisting of:

5 x Blades (including the general)
4 x Warband
2 x Riders
1 x Shooter

The Romans defended and selected enough bad going to slow down the Arab cavalry.

This was how the armies set up - Arabs in the foreground, Romans beyond:

The Romans set up with their legionary infantry between the two patches of brush, and the brush swarming with auxilia. The cavalry were held in reserve until the main thrust of the Arab attack was determined.

The Arabs went for an attack on the Roman right using their camel-mounted warriors.

The Arab archers moved up to support the camels.

Battle was joined. The auxiliary infantry in the brush kept the Arabs pinned.

The Arabs were slowed, but not stopped, and attacked the Roman cavalry.

They lost one of their elements of archers to the Roman infantry, however.

The Roman cavalry was outflanked, and defeated.

The Roman commander pushed his centre forward looking to overwhelm the Arab infantry before the camels threatened his camp Stronghold.

The second Roman cavalry element was destroyed. The way to the Roman camp was clear.

There was lots of shoving back and forth in the centre.

However Roman discipline prevailed, and a group of Arab infantry was swept from the field.

Some Roman auxiliary infantry fell next, surrounded by Arabs and left nowhere to retreat.

The first camels arrived at the Stronghold, but not surprisingly they were repulsed.

More Arab infantry were routed. The Arabs were one element away from breaking now.

But another attack by the camels took the Stronghold, and the Romans were defeated.

The final battlefield. The Romans certainly had the upper hand, but lost their Stronghold. The problem was that once it was threatened they had nothing fast enough to rush back and defend it with. However their plan of an aggressive push forward, hoping to defeat the enemy army before the Stronghold fell was not a bad one.

Roman losses - one Warband and two Riders.

Arab losses: one Shooter and four Spears.

 This was a tough fight for both armies. It will be interesting to see how the Arabs fare against the all-mounted Parthians.

And it was great to have an army on the table and in play less than 36 hours after it was just a jumbled pile of  basically unpainted figures in a box.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Completed Arabs And A Ramble

I finished my 6mm HOTT Pre-Islamic Arabs this afternoon, giving the sand on the bases a heavy wash in khaki and a dry-brush in GW Bleached Bone. I don't know whether to add some patches of vegetation or leave the bases bare; the former may overwhelm the figures a little.

Here they are:

In the comments on an earlier post I was complimented on my choice of armies. I thought I might share why I have the ancient armies I do, and where I might be going with them (one day).

My first real brush with ancients was when  a friend of mine put some together for WRG 7th back in the late 1980s. He did his in 6mm, and produced Hoplite Greeks and Persians, as well as Indians. He added to it and extended his collection to cover Alexander and the Successors.

I decided to follow suit but thought I'd start a fresh period for us to play - after all he had everything we needed for a good range of games in one era. I went for Sub-Roman British as my first army, because I couldn't resist the idea of using Arthur - I was thinking HOTT even then. I also did some Early Saxon opponents. This got me started on a set of Dark Ages Britian armies - enough Sub-Roman Brits to do two armies, with regular and irregular options, as well as Picts and Scots-Irish and even some Vikings. But then I went wild; the era covered by the Scots-Irish went a long way back, and I decided to do a different opponent for them. And thus I started my Early Imperial Roman army. I think that by this stage we'd abandoned WRG 7th and were playing DBM. I liked the Early Imperial Romans; they're the 'classic' Roman army to my mind and they also seemed to have the widest range of possible opponents, both in terms of geography and troops types. The Scots-Irish were their first foes, but I also did Meroitic Kushites (because they could have elephants), Sarmatian, Parthians and Alan (the latter for obvious reasons).

By the time I'd assembled that lot I found I didn't really have any desire to play DBM any more. I still don't. The armies languished in a box for years, but I eventually reworked them as DBA armies, using massed figures on 40mm frontages. It didn't take me long to find that I didn't really like DBA that much either, so back into the box they went.

About four years ago I hit on the idea of just playing HOTT with them, and it's given the armies a new lease of life. I have a lot of painted and based figures from the DBM/WRG phase, so was able to generate new armies from left-over figures - Welsh and Norse-Irish, for example. I've got twenty-eight Celtic chariots looking for an army. And, of course, I've been inspired to complete at least one project - the Pre-Islamic Arabs.

So that's a brief summary of how I've arrived at the particular HOTT ancient armies I have. The Parthians open up a range of possibilities further east - Classical Indian is an army I'd like to do, and would look great in HOTT, for example. But I don't have any figures for that, and the idea of adding to my already vast pile of unpainted 6mm lead somehow seems wrong. I know I shouldn't.

But I probably will.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

An Army In A Day - Supplemental

In my previous post I said I'd do the bases tomorrow. But since the first stage of basing involves globs of watered-down PVA and lots of sand, and that takes a while to dry, I thought I'd get that stage out of the way this evening, meaning I can do the painting and other bits in the morning (assuming Mrs Kobold doesn't have any other plans for me).

So here's the army with it's textured bases.

And, just to fill out this post, here's the (random) soundtrack for much of today's painting - the albums, anyway. It was interspersed with random individual tracks, because that's the way the music library is set up to shuffle on my PC.

Phaedra - Tangerine Dream
Hotel - Moby
Argus - Wishbone Ash
Presto - Rush
Free Hand - Gentle Giant
Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra in D Major (Mozart) - English Chamber Orchestra
Albedo 0.39 - Vangelis

An Army In A Day (And A Bit)

In playing around with my HOTT Ancient armies recently I have come across the various half-finished projects I have. We all have them, and we get them out, look at them, and then put them away again.

Well, this weekend I decided to complete one. Several years ago - as in possibly twenty or more - I bought the figures to do a Later Pre-Islamic Arab ally force for my ongoing 6mm Early Imperial Roman and Parthian DBM armies. Those two armies have now been converted to HOTT (and, technically, DBA) armies, but the Arabs languished in their packets, unloved and unassembled.

That is, until three years ago, I decided to get them out and start painting them. There were enough figures to do a complete HOTT/DBA army, so that's what I decided to do - a Later Pre-Islamic Arab nomad force. I sorted out the figures, undercoated them and put the first lot of paint on - the base colour.

Then we moved house. They were packed away, and forgotten.

I found them again last weekend and, having played some games with both the Parthians and the Romans, thought they would make an excellent opponent. With nothing major on this weekend I decided to paint them. As in complete the army.

Here they are as I found them. I had applied one base coat to each, and a base coat to about half of the riders.

I completed the infantry in a couple of hours.

Another hour saw the two elements of cavalry done.

After lunch it was time to do the centrepiece of the army - the camels. There are four elements of these; a total of 48 figures.

They took an hour or so.

The camels were quite fiddly to base. For my 6mm armies I use 40mm frontages with four times the number of figures a 15mm HOTT element would have. That meant twelve camels to a base. They're a bit bigger than horses, so had to be packed in tight (although not as tight as the sixteen figures needed for a Parthian cataphract element).

Here's some close-ups. I still have the bases to do, as well as odd bits of detail such as the standards and maybe some shield patterns on the general's element. I'll do those tonight after tea, and probably do the bases tomorrow.

The full army. It's based on the equivalent DBA 2.2 list, but converted to HOTT. It consists of:

2 x Riders (Arab nomads on horses, including the general)
4 x Riders (Camel-mounted warriors)
4 x Spears (Foot warriors)
2 x Shooters (Archers)

Strictly there should be one less Shooter and one more group of warriors on foot or on camels, but I liked the 2-4-4-2 symmetry. Also in the DBA list, and equivalent DBM list, the foot are Blades (Inferior Blades in DBM), but I didn't feel this worked so well in a HOTT-based army. As Spears they are more vulnerable to Roman Blades and Parthian cataphracts; I have used Spears for irregular Blade/Inferior Blades in other armies and it worked OK.

I think I may have enough figures to do an Arabo-Aramean army now, which would give me a nice matched foursome. Obviously I'll actually do it in three or four years' time ...

Update: I started the bases today as well.

Friday, 26 April 2013

To Glory We Steer!

We've been talking about trying out 'Trafalgar' as a club-game for a few weeks, but circumstances have conspired to prevent us actually giving it a go, mainly because whilst I have most of the ships we need, Ralph has the rules and we never seem to end up attending on the same week.

Anyway, since the idea of an age of sail game had come up, we settled for an alternative last night, and I dragged out my personal favourite set of rules, David Manley's 'Form Line of Battle' (4th edition, for those that keep track of these things). This is an odd set, with a random, card-based, turn-sequence and random movement distances - your attitude to the wind gives you a number of dice which you roll, the total being how far you have to move (with an option to move the score of only one dice if you desire). This makes for a seemingly unpredictable game, but experience has shown that a player who keeps their force together in a good tight line will tend to have the advantage, which is how it should be.

We had three player including me, so I adjudicated, whilst new players Geoff and Caesar, took to the high seas.

I set up a basic battle, with two squadrons of 3rd rates, one British and one French.

The forces were:

French (Caesar) - Six 74-gun ships, all Experienced - Batave, Tourville, Agricola, Timoleon, Montauban, Regulus

British (Geoff) - Four 74-gun and one 64-gun ships, all Veteran - Berwick, Fortitude, Canada, Alfred, Intrepid (64)

Here's the British sailing into action. The 74s are in the foreground, whilst the Intrepid goes it alone in the distance.

Opening shots - The Berwick opens fire on the Timoleon at the head of the French line, causing minor damage and a fire.

The British cut through the head of the French line, pounding the Timoleon and the Agricola.

The Timoleon is stern-raked, although Geoff's luck resulted in poor damage rolls.

A general melee ensued, but Caesar was unable to bring his undamaged ships to bear on the British, who continued to punish the French vessels at the head of the line. (Yes, I know the Alfred is missing a mast. It fell off as we were setting the ships up and I didn't have any superglue with me. It's going into dry-dock for repairs tonight.)

Meanwhile ...

The Intrepid had detached from the main British force and found itself engaged by two French vessels. It gave as good as it got, and evaded them, damaged but mildly triumphant.

By the time we had to call it a day no ships had struck, but the French had three vessels that would have to take strike tests any time they took damage. We called the engagement a British victory

The final tally was:

Batave - Minor damage.
Tourville - Minor damage.
*Agricola - Heavily damaged, two masts lost and had caught fire.
*Timoleon - Heavily damaged.
Montauban - Minor damage, one mast lost.
*Regulus - Heavily damaged, one mast lost.

*Required strike tests if they took further damage.

Berwick - The lead British ship took heavy damage.
Fortitude - Moderate damage
Canada - Minor damage
Alfred - Minor damage, and lost one mast from a collision with the Regulus.
Intrepid - Heavy damage after engaging two French 74s for a couple of turns.

The British were lucky not only on the turn sequence (which always seemed to give them a phase when they needed one), but on the sheer number of critical hits that they scored - the French suffered lost masts, damaged rudders, holes, a captain killed and a fire, whilst failing to inflict a single critical in return.

Anyway, it was a fun game. I know it's not a favourite of all of the players, but I still enjoy it as a set of rules - a good game with minimal fiddly detail and bookkeeping.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Horsing Around With HOTT

Arty Shot Of The Sarmatians
This weekend and the last I have been tidying up some of my 6mm HOTT Ancients armies, touching up the painting a little to make the figures stand out more. Yesterday I did a couple of my all-cavalry armies, the Parthians and the Sarmatians, so whilst they were out of the box, so to speak, I gave them an outing on the table.

The Sarmatians are simple army in HOTT - 12 x Knights. There are some variants that add lighter cavalry (Riders) and even infantry, but we're not interested in those just yet. I do actually have an all-Rider Alan army, but that's still buried in a box somewhere.

The Parthians are almost as simple as the Sarmatians - 4 x Knights (including the general) and 8 x Riders. The proportion can be varied, but this mix seems the most effective historically.

The Parthians defended. The lined up with their cataphracts in the centre, flanked by horse-archers. The Sarmatians had a flank anchored on bad going, though, so a flanking move by the archers was going to be difficult.

The Sarmatians, lined up and ready.

The Sarmatians held a second line in reserve.

The initial fighting saw the Parthian horse-archers attempting to break up the Sarmatian flank.

But soon the two armies got stuck into each other.

There was lots of shoving back and forth.

Eventually the Parthians broke, though. They started badly, but as gaps opened up were able to use the Riders to exploit them and even killed the Sarmatian general. However it was too little, too late; even without their general the Sarmatian Knights pretty much fought themselves themselves, with their pursuits keeping them in the action.

Losses - the Sarmatians lost two elements, including their general. The Parthian losses were proportional to the make-up of their army.

Winner stays on ...

The Sarmatians now faced the Early Imperial Romans. They fielded 4 x Blades (including their general), 4 x Warband, 2 x Riders and 2 x Shooters. The Sarmatians defended.

The armies raced for a central ridge - the Romans got there first.

Subtle Sarmatian tactics again - charge straight in ...

In the centre of this picture is the weak point of the Roman line - two elements of auxiliary infantry, classed as Warband. Even the uphill advantage wasn't enough; the Sarmatians rode them down and created a gap in the Roman line. On the flank the Roman artillery, archers and Numidian cavalry held off attack after attack, but once flanked the legionarii weren't up to the job.

The Roman general was surrounded, and destroyed, giving the Sarmatians the game.

The Romans lost two Warband, two Blades and a Rider. The Sarmatians lost nothing.

As HOTT armies go these aren't that exciting; no 'special' troops to add weirdness to he game. But they still give interesting battles, and useful experience with the 'basic' troop types of the game.
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