Wednesday, May 07, 2014

This is the only friend, the end!

 Well it finally happened, the brave warband that had been holding their own for three combat rounds against long spears were finally flanked by another Auxiliary unit. They were tough but they couldn't take a fresh attack in the side. They broke and were destroyed where they stood. Gealoc the army leader had been giving them spiritual support and was caught up in the route. His banner was torn down and he had to flee for his life.
 Gealoc gone, the neighbouring units had to make a morale check. This involved rolling under 5 with 2 D6. I don't think any of them made it which lead to an all-out route across the right hand side of the valley. A unit of light cavalry that was just about to make a flank attack fled off the nearest board edge. This was followed by the closest Warband turning and running for their starting edge. Another unit of light horse also turned and joined the masses of fleeing troops. In one stroke three strong Roman units had been freed up and now turned to assist their battling brothers.
 Panic spread across the valley as news of Gealoc's disappearence became known, with the Gods somehow against them, the Celts decided to withdraw.
 The Celtic army broke down into a disordered mob as it fled the field, It was every Tribe for itself...again.
Where is Gealoc? Is he dead...did he get away? The warbands flee the field. The day belongs to the Romans.

We did discuss the battle afterwards and both agreed the warbands should maybe be larger, say 42 instead of 36. This just to give them a little bit more staying power and helped with rank bonuses, and things had seemed to be uneven with the long spears but that was ironed out later once we reread the rules.
 The Roman cohorts of 18 men seemed to work well; fewer men meant more cohorts could be taken and tactics used. There are lots of lovely Roman rules to do with hand to hand fighting that we didn't use in the test game, which was a shame. All in all a good set of rules and a good successor to WAB. It might just be me, but I did think they were a bit more brutal than WAB. If that's a bad thing or not I don't know.

I know both players enjoyed the day, just rolling dice again seemed to cheer me up. I couldn't believe it had been that long since I'd last played a game. Must do more.

P.S Gealoc got away and right now is stirring up another hornets nest of trouble.

The beginning of the end my son

 Roman legionaries advance into contact but are held in place by fierce fighting from the Celts.
 As the swamp seemed to come to life with thousands of angry voices and swarms of javelins, the whole Roman line was met and engaged.

 Another footnote in the rules had been missed and its emergence was helping to give the Celts a bit more staying power. When warbands charge in CoE they get another attack dice for every two men in the front rank, now my guys could hold their own, well at least for a while. Bloody long spears.

 For once the engaged Romans were being held and what was more they were about to be flanked. The Roman general started to shift uncomfortably in his saddle and look behind for a way out.
 On the right of the valley the Celts were holding their own too, more to do with amazing lucky dice rolls than anything else. However, with two spare Roman cohorts with nothing to do it was only a matter of time.
The Warband in the marshes was struggling forward, they had been forced to wait and they wanted to wet their spears with Roman blood.

Welcome to the meat grinder!

 Well, with my best warband destroyed in a single charge, things started to go bad for the Celtic masses. Shocked and disturbed by the sight of their brothers' demise, my unit of javelin men turned and broke for cover. However, the nimble Roman Auxiliaries were right on their tails and ran them down before they could reach it. You can see where all this is going can't you. Bloody Romans...Bloody long spears...Bloody Celts!

 Roman Auxiliaries wipe out the last of the skirmishers.
 Then the first bit of good news for the Celts...can they pull it back from here? A warband right of centre charged and hit home against the Batavian Auxiliaries. There was some very fierce fighting but for once the Auxiliaries even with their dreaded long spears, found themselves giving ground. This could be it...
 The outcome of the decimated skirmishers meant that now I had swarms of Roman Auxiliaries running around with nothing to do behind my lines, not good.
I couldn't really wait any longer and gave the single for the hidden warband to emerge! Knowing my old friend very well I had placed them where I knew he wouldn't expect.

I had placed 3 ambush markers down at the beginning of the game. It was the one in the swamp that had hidden the damp and angry masses. He later confessed he had given the other side of the board a wide berth because he was expecting an ambush from that direction. My evil ploy had worked but could I get them into contact in time to make a difference.

My Celtic cavalry charged from the cover of the trees to tie down Roman units.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Roman Warmachine

 The whole Roman battle line advances in tight formation. The elite Batavian Auxiliary troops open their order and rush forward.

 Legionaries advance behind their Auxiliary troops, ready to finish off any stragglers.
 As it was the first play test of these rules, we did make quite a lot of mistakes that only came to air after the battle was over. One of these was when first contact was made. Long spears can fight in two ranks normally, but when they charge only the first rank is rolled for. This may seem like a simple rule but it meant when they hit my warband with their charge bonus and 12 attacks, the result was the warband was wiped out. At the time I thought something must be wrong because the Romans were wiping the board all along the battle line. The word 'Lightsabres' was using on more than one occasion.
It all seemed to be a bit too easy for the Auxiliaries and I started to dread the words Long spears! However, that's why we have play tests to learn the rules and iron them out.

The battle begins!

 A Celtic commander thinks about his next move...while he is thinking about it, his army rushes forward in a mad charge.

 In CoE on a roll of 1 on a d6, warbands charge the nearest enemy, this happened all along my line. Knowing what well trained Legionary units do to lone warbands, I had little choice but to charge the all the others as well in true Celtic fashion.
" Now son watch and learn"
"Can't we just play a computer game of it instead dad?"
"No son"
"But all the noises are done for you and everything...and all the men move"
"You're missing the point son, you can't share a bowl of crisps with a computer game son."
"Never mind just enjoy the day"

"Yes son"
"I'm bored"
 The Celtic warbands serge forward in an uncontrolled horde. Some of the warbands even ran through their own skirmishers in their eagerness to come to grips with the enemy. Valuable shots were lost in the confusion.
The Romans advance to meet the hordes, gaining huge bonuses for charging into combat.

CoE Battle

 My angry Celts could hardly be controlled at this point and were beginning to get quite beside themselves.

 I had five warbands of 36 men and three units of 12 light horse, together with 15 slingers and 15 javelin men. We had stacked it so the Romans would have to fight hard and use all their special tactics to fend off the waves of barbarians. It turned out, for one reason or another, to be a Roman holiday. My poor guys were cut down in their thousands.
                                                     "DEATH TO THE ROMANS!"
 CoE uses command bases differently to WAB, more in a supporting role than as a hero. Command stands follow up the units and help keep them motivated and on track. This noble saw the camera...very vain the Celts.
 Meanwhile the Romans stood in complete silence, waiting for the signal to move.
The Romans had 3 units of 18 legionaries, 2 units of 24 Auxiliaries, 1 unit of cavalry and a unit of 15 javelin men. We wanted to try out the Legion rules in the book so the Romans adopted a chequer board formation.Also one of my warbands was hidden in a secret location on the board.

Play Testing Clash Of Empires (CoE)

 This weekend a friend and I finally sat down to play a wargame. This has been a sore subject for many years as my busy life hasn't allowed many free gaming days off, so when I finally got one, we both jumped at the chance to throw some dice at each other.

My friend and I have always been big WABites but after Forge World assassinated the game we gravitated towards CoE. The two rule sets are not too dissimilar and CoE has ascended to fill the void left by the great but doomed WAB.

We have a good wargaming dynamic, my friend and I, he learns the rules whereas I paint the scenery and figures.This works well to a point until I get carried away painting Romans and can't paint anything else for six years. They are great though, aren't they, and so addictive to paint.

Well the day came at last but as it turned out, I was looking after the baby as well as commanding thousands of screaming angry Celts, this I thought could be done...I was wrong. After years of painting and waiting, painting and waiting when the day came, my friend and I were totally out of our depth.

The resulting game was one of bad dice blunders and mistakes in using the rules. However I did get to use my Celtic army for the first time and roll hundreds of dice and take lots of photos! Still a cracking day.

 My Celtic force turned up and lined the valley. The Roman general couldn't believe his luck when the Celtic horde finished getting into position. The infantry had completely filled the open ground to the centre of the valley, pushing the large contingents of horse into the woodland on the skirts of the hills. Well, there was much sword waving and shield banging going on and once everyone was in place they weren't moving unless it was straight toward the enemy.

 All the figures were so dusty from their time in the cabinet it was quite heartbreaking. Keeping them in shallow airtight boxes is definitely the way forward.
 I actually got to use some slingers for the first time, these single mounted figures were bought off eBay a few years back. They proved to be very nasty against armour...If only I got better dice rolls.

The trouble stirring druid Gealoc and his elite band of headhunters prepared themselves for battle with the usual anti-Roman chants.

Monday, May 05, 2014

 Yeeaaahhh Thorin Oakenshield pushes in on this post and why not, you show'em Thorin! Just hurry up and get based!

 I'm not sure if he will be the top dog but he certainly will be a good second in command. I have a massive figure from 'Chronicle' which will probably end up being Bolg or Gothmog.
The big Black Uruk leader has two standards to mark him as being a bit more important on the field.

 Here are my collected LOTR Trolls.

 The two silver ones are from 'Reaper miniatures' and are based on a MERP illustration by my favourite artist ,Angus McBride. They were in the front running for my heavy hitters until I received my GW LOTR Troll off eBay . It is huge and goes very well with the rest of my force. The black Troll on the round base is not a war gaming mini but a collectors model. It would make a great figure for gaming but is a little small compared to the GW one to fit in. The first small Troll is a very old figure I think from Grenadier. I might use this for a half-troll from the East if I ever get to do an Easterling force.
Always keeping an eye open for gaming bargains I spotted this eagle made by Schleigh in a toy shop. They weren't super cheap but still a lot cheaper than any GW creation. I have bought a few and will repaint them ready for the battle of the Five Armies. I also dipped the unpainted models in boiling water and re-positioned their wings and heads so they all look a little different.

Forces Of Mordor

 Another old mini from Circa 1984. I like this figure but the raised sword is very fragile and has snapped off all three of my duplicate figures. I was rather proud of myself as I taught myself to 'pin' on this figure and gave him a very leader like weapon instead of his empty hand. In fact I bought a few old and damaged Orcs cheap on eBay and made them battle ready with my new found pinning skill.
 The horde grows.
 After doing a lot of research I found that Dettol makes a great paint remover. metal and plastic figures can be left in this solution for 24hrs, after which the old paint just scrubs off. It sounds too good to be true but I have tested it and it does indeed work a treat. Any stubborn paint jobs, just give them another 24 hours in the Dettol and all should be well. It has made buying old crap painted figures on eBay very worth while.

 Well you can't have an army of Mordor without a few Olog-hai or battle trolls. Now I have been looking at good figures for Mordor Trolls for a while (more on that another day) but I couldn't get the ones from the film out of my head. I was also delighted to see how big they were compared to my 28mm Citadel Orcs.

I have started my two trolls by painting them light brown then dry brushing them dark grey. This should give them the look of the film with the lighter skin under the hard stone like plates on the back. These are still waiting for me to finish them.
I'm also doing the two tone effect on the body of the Troll as shown on the Cave Troll in the book behind.

Orcs of the Red Eye

 Over the last few months I have been painting mostly Orcs of one kind or another. Most of these are old Citadel figures with a sprinkling of other old ranges to add a little variety. I also managed to bag a few boxes of Magic Metal Orc blister packs off eBay. These were nice a cheap for metal figures and helped to swell the numbers of the unwashed.

I like the idea of creating LOTR armies but using old figures from different ranges instead of the GW ones. The GW LOTR figures are very nice indeed and sculpted by the Perry twin masters, but I like the challenge of creating my own versions with more of a Dark age feel as Tolkien envisaged. So the Orcs below are based on that of Sauron in the Third Age.

 I kept the colours very simple and very dark with red as their main uniform colour. This was taken from the recent films of which I am a big fan.

The Large Orc above is a Warlord from Reaper Miniatures, he is very large and so should make a good Black Uruk. Infact a lot of the larger or well armoured Orcs I painted with dark, almost black skin, this shows they are the black Uruks of Mordor and superior to the lesser runts in the war bands.
 The horde grows and combines many different makes, there's even some plastics in there!
 I have always liked this figure and so made him Grishnakh from the books. Another nod to the recent films I painted him with a very red skin tone. This figure matches the description in the book very well, with long ape like arms and broad shoulders. He is sly and clever and has surrounded himself with large, well armoured Orcs. I gave him his own standard to mark him out as a captain and a sneaky sidekick for good measure.
I want to create a large army of these so quickly paint them using simple base colours then wash them with a black wash. Simple highlights are then painted and I move on to another batch of twelve.