Sunday 30 June 2019

The Battle of Magnesia refought

On Saturday the lads come over for a big 28mm Ancient battle, courtesy of Steve who's figures they all were. Steve had set the game up on Friday evening after which we had a Persian takeaway which seemed appropriate. We used Hail Caesar, which was a first for us all although we were all familiar to a greater or lesser degree with the mechanics given the amount of Black Powder and Pike and Shot games played at The Burrow. I can't remember the last time I played a 28mm ancient game; probably in the 1980s when WRG 5th and 6th Editions were around when I owned  Carthaginian and Basilian Byzantine armies. Long gone now.

Back to the game. I claimed host’s privilege (I made that up as I had a plan) to chose which side to play, and elected to be Roman as there was likely to be more of a challenge (and my aforesaid plan). Paul and John (Eumenes of Pegamum) joined me on the left and right wings respectively, while Shaun, Richard and Dave were the Seleucids. (Shaun commanded the centre and assumed CinC responsibilities but Dave's figure on the right was actually Antiochus. Confused? So was I).

The Romans were going to be up against it as they were outnumered and the bulk of the Seleucid army were Phalangites or nasty Cataphracts. Our legionaries were good however and we had a couple of house rules that allowed the maniples a fair bit of freedom of manoeuvrability. For example they were allowed to withdrawn from melee unless shaken and be replaced by a supporting and hopefully fresh maniple, and this worked a treat.

The photos were all taken by Richard and may be slightly out of sequence which is my fault if anyone notices. The game was so intense that I don't really know what happened on the two flanks, except that Paul pretty much destroyed the Seleucid right, even the Cataphracts, killing Antiochus as well, while John drove off most of the enemy left before getting himself wounded, killing the Seleucid commander opposing him in the process. As Scipio I managed two blunders, thankfully in the right direction. First my velites charged forward three moves and drove off the enemy skirmishers, then both my legions did likewise, hitting several of the phalanxes. After some very hard-fought melees, some very fortunate saving rolls and some nifty switching of maniples half of the phalanxes were finally destroyed although not without heavy losses among the Romans as many of my maniples were on carrying several casualties and were shaken.

Gimmicky scythed chariots.

The Pergamene troops advancing on our right.
The legions close with the Seleucid centre.

The Seleucid cataphracts were slowly worn down and broken by concerted and repeated attacks by Paul.

Losses can be seen mounting up among the phalanxes.

Antiochus with a unit of nasty Galatians. We eventually stopped them and killed Antiochus.

The death of the Seleucid left wing commander.
The death of a phalanx.

Saturday was of course a very hot day, even in Middlesbrough, perhaps fitting for a battle originally fought in the near east.  Steve's troops are fantastic looking and all involved had a great day gaming. Its a shame someone had to loose, but I'm glad it was the Seleucids. Thanks to Steve for bringing his toys and setting up on Friday and for the players who played like the gentlemen they are. (Especially poor Shaun and Dave who seemed doomed to throw high when low was needed and vice versa).

Back to gunpowder weapons in a week or two.

Friday 28 June 2019

Marlborough's Other Army, 2nd edition review

Helion's Century of the Soldier has come up trumps again with the publication of an updated 2nd edition of Nick Dorrell's original work published in 2015.

This as I said is an updated edition of the book first published in 2015 which, incidentally, I've not read. The campaigns in Spain and Portugal during the War of the Spanish Succession are a much overlooked and neglected part of the war. From a British perspective a far larger proportion of the troops were from Great Britain than were to be found in Marlborough's army in Flanders. The commanders too were mostly, but not exclusively, 'British'. For example, the Duke of Galway, commanding the British and Allies was a French Huguenot, while the Duke of Berwick, commanding the French, was an English Catholic. Interesting times, and of course, this was also in part a civil war as there were Spanish armies fighting on both sides.

This book is a gem. As well as covering the course of the war comprehensively, with chapters covering each of the main campaigns and battles, there are detailed chapters of the uniforms, armaments and organisation of armies from the various nations that fought alongside the British in support of the Hapsberg claimant to the throne of Spain. Thus we have chapters on not only the British forces, but on the Dutch, Palatine, Austrian and Imperial armies as well as the Caroleon Spanish army of Charles. The latter is of special interest as it contains information I've not come across before. Finally there is a fantastic chapter on the Portuguese army. Of course, as one now expects from Helion, the book contains eight glorious colour plates covering the uniforms of all the protagonists, by the hand of the talented Mark Allen. The book is copiously illustrated throughout with contemporary black and white pictures and fifteen maps depicting the areas of operation and the battles. There are also a number of very useful orders of battle and unit strength returns. A well written and researched book which is a must for the book shelves of anyone interested in this forgotten campaign.

Thursday 27 June 2019

More elephants! And 701st post.

To mark my 701st post we have three more Elephants for my Sikh Wars collection. All my Sikh artillery now have limbers. Totally superfluous but they look amazing, all 10 of them!

These three ponderous pachyderms are ex-murkier miniatures now available through Templar Minis.

Lastly, I have now finished my Skinner's  Horse European officer so he can join his regiment at last. (Another Ex-Mutinier minis figure on an Empress horse I think).

Wednesday 26 June 2019

And yet another Harry Flashman for the Sikh Wars

I can’t remember where I got this little gem from. Was it Warlord perhaps from their Crimean range? Well, although I have Crimean armies I reckoned I might need another figure to represent that arch-all round blunder and cad, Harry Flashman, so he’s been painted in the uniform of HM 16th Lancers. I’m quite pleased with the end result although it still needs to be varnished.

Monday 24 June 2019

The Wild Geese Weekend, Kenilworth 2109

Last weekend saw 24 venerable wargamers  (and two wives) gather together for their fourth annual wargames weekend. The origins of the group lies with John Ray's A Military Gentleman forum but the group has evolved into a much broader church of wargaming enthusiasts, renamed The Wild Geese for reasons that now escape me, a couple of years ago. Several previous attendees were sadly unable to come this year so we had a number of new faces among us, all of whom have said they want to come back next time!

Friday late afternoon saw the five games set up ready for the next day. After a very nice dinner we had the now traditional quiz, hosted by Tony Dillon, with assistance from me in the shape of a few movie/picture rounds and some apparently really hard questions. I didn't think they were but hey ho.

Saturday and the games commenced. There were five, each timed to last about 3 hours, thus enabling them to be run twice on Saturday and at least once on Sunday. That meant that we had the opportunity to play in three of the five games on offer, and one of the hardest decisions was which games to chose.  All I can say is that despite loosing all my games and dying in one I had a great time playing rather than organising a game as I'd done in the past.

Paul Robinson of the Grimsby Wargames Society again put on an enormous Great Northern War game, Danes v Swedes at Helsingeborg. Tony Dillon laid on a 28mm Peninsular War game, Steve Metheringham a splendid 40mm Seven Years War game using his gorgeous home cast figures and the new A Gentleman's War rules, and Willz Harley put on a splendid homage to the past with a beautiful 30mm SYW game using Spencer Smith figures. Lastly, stepping into the breach at the last minute the Perry Twins put on a really tough AWI game using Black Powder. The photos that follow are either mine, Chris Gregg's or Tony Dillon's. I can't remember who's is who's except that mine are the crap ones and they're all jumbled up in any case.

The Quiz Results.

After a splendid 'Curry Night' on Saturday there was the opportunity to return to the games or hit the bar. Pleasingly quite a few people chose to play after dinner games, I think for the first time in the life of the event. Seen below is Gavin and Leigh's Blood and Plunder pirate game.

After a morning of gaming and a large lunch we had our annual awards ceremony, where votes were cast for "Luckiest" (Lee Brewster), "Unluckiest"(Aly Morrison) and "Most Gentlemanly" player (Martin Gane), the "Best Looking Game" and "Best of Show" (both Tony Dillon).

To my knowledge everyone is safely home. The hotel excelled themselves this year and were very switched on to our needs. The food, both at lunchtimes and dinners, was excellent and there was lots of it. The hotel is maybe a little tired but its ok and good value for money. This year we shared the place with several hundred Rotarians, which is an improvement on a very raucous wedding and an even more raucous glittering hoard of ballroom dancers! A date has been pencilled in for 2020 (19-21 June I think) and I've been asked to organise the event again which is an honour. We will also be upping the numbers to a max of 30 so that this year's newbies and the absentees from last year are in theory all able to attend.

Finally a big thanks to everyone who asked after my health throughout the weekend and their support and kind words, and a very big thanks to my wife Katherine as without her support I wouldn't have been able to get through the bad times when my chronic pain was at its worse, and for her willingness to drive me down to the Midlands for a weekend with 24 wargamers.

Roll on next year.