Friday 27 May 2022

Back to the Late Roman Campaign with a Bang!

Digito's army on the left, With Esme providing guidance.

After a suitable break to ensure among other things that we didn't get sick of too many ancient games and also to give the best chance that many of us would forget the rules, there was a battle to fight, between the Emperor Digito, supported by Jazzeric of the Ostrogoths, against Rufus Johannes' loyal (to whom?) army which was marching on the capital of Praesidium Gehenae from the north east while Paulinus Germanicus marched towards the capital from Maluscastra and the south east. Digito had been well placed to intercept isolated Rufus' army so attacked, supported by his allies the Ostrogoths from the still smouldering ruins of Tabularasa.

Richard (as the 'Emperor' Digito) was joined by Dave (Jazzeric), Shaun and Nigel, and they faced John (Rufus), Paul, Conrad and Neil. Neil also did must of the rules bashing while I adjudicated where appropriate. We were using the excellent Sword and Spear rules. Richard drew his army from the Foederati Roman list while John’s was from the Late Roman one. I don’t normally do army lists but the revenues each player receives each month translates into points for the army.

Both armies were very large so I scaled them down by a third to fit on the table (and even I don't have THAT many legions in my collection!) Both armies deployed fairly traditionally, infantry in the centre and cavalry on the wings. Digito ordered Jazzeric to conduct a flank march with his Ostrogoths so these troops, one third of his army, were not immediately available.

Digito and his cohorts......

John went straight for the jugular and the entire army advanced rapidly towards the enemy. Paul's command raced ahead, supported on its left flank by Neil's cavalry. John's command advanced to maintain contact with Paul in the centre and Conrad's right wing cavalry did likewise, keeping station on John's right flank. By sharp contrast few of Richard’s units even managed to activate this turn, which meant the army was in danger of being crowded off the table. As usual I hope the following photographs (hopefully in something resembling the right order) and narrative will give a good account of how the battle developed. Read on.....

Johhannes in the centre flanked by his lieutenants for the day.
This is a bit out of sequence but basically John and Paul stormed forwards at top speed towards Digito's army.

More rapid advancing by Johhannes' army.
The Ostrogoths never really made a mark on the game. They were no more than a nuisance to the enemy and mop real threat.
Conrad commanded Johhannes' right wing and was able to turn to face the arrival of the Ostrogoths.
Digito's Federate crash into the enemy legions.
Digito's cataphractoi failed to break this enemy legion and broke!

Johannes' right wing under Conrad met little resistance as the enemy had refused their left.
Facing Johannes' left wing Richard's cavalry advanced round the ruined villa.
Johannes' right wing again.
Dave as Jazzeric had 10 units in his command (600 points in the rules).  He tested for their arrival, and not only were they a turn late but only two units made it immediately onto the the table. Of the other eight, they were to arrive in dribs and drabs over the following two or three turns. Some never arrived at all!

The following pictures give an idea of how the game played out, but they may not be quite in the correct order. 

The Ostrogoths hit one of Johannes' legions in the flank only to be in turn hit in their flank!  

A dice roll we can all dream about when its only the highest four dice that count!

The dice roll of nightmares when trying to activate units! Usually it needs a 4+ to activate.
The end is nigh!

This rather large and somewhat confusing game ended with a clear victory for Johannes and the second defeat (regardless of spin) in a row for Digito. How long can he hang open to power? When will his legions have had enough? It was they who proclaimed him emperor so has he met their expectations? [I doubt it somehow]. Something to consider for the campaign.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable game to oversee and the outcome will translate into a nice bit of narrative for the next edition of the Asienus Gladiator. Basically Digito's right wing collapsed under the pressure from Neil's cavalry and the centre command had also broken and was forced to leave the field, and it all happened very quickly. The poor Ostrogoths were a bit of a damp squib but that's just down to some unfortunate dice scores when determining if and when they arrived.

It was a particularly sanguine battle, with both armies loosing over one third of their forces (when translated back into points). The Ostrogoths were the worst off with almost half of their army destroyed.  Richard's army retreated back towards the capitol of Praesidium Gehenna, to regroup and then face the forces of Paulinus Germanicus approaching from the south. John's army took possession of the field and the enemy camp (gaining some loot points for the coffers was very helpful).

Next time these figures are on the table in a couple of week's time I am hoping to stage the Digito versus Paulinus confrontation. 

Clive Smithers Wargaming Sale

My old mate Clive Smithers, who died recently, had a massive and eclectic wargames collection of largely ‘vintage’ and ‘Old School’ figures. His collections are being auctioned off, and having gone through the catalogue it’s a sad thing to reflect that this represents someone’s hobby life. There’s probably a good deal to be had for someone with some of the lots, but that’s not the point. I am positive this is not everything but there’s still plenty. Here is the link to the auction.  I’ve got no plans to bid on anything but although I have no plans to depart this mortal coil just yet maybe I should get the inventory of my collection up to date?

Wednesday 25 May 2022

From the Atacama to the Andes - a Review


FROM THE ATACAMA TO THE ANDES. Battles of the War of the Pacific 1879-1883 by Alan Curtis is No. 21 in Helion’s excellent and incredibly diverse ‘From Musket to Maxim’ series. The author has spent 40 years researching the Pacific War so he should know his subject, and he has used English and Spanish language sources when conducting his research. This war is definitely a rather niche subject but I would not be surprised if this book stirs up a massive amount of interest thus raising the profile of this little known (in the English speaking world at any rate) and brutal war between Chile on one side and the Bolivians and Peruvians on the other.

After a brief introduction setting the scene and a good look at the armies of the warring nations the book launches straight into the war with a serious breakdown and analysis of the campaign and all the battles on land and sea, in an impressive amount of detail, right down to a very personal level. Naval operations are the only aspect of the fighting that I knew something about, but my knowledge on the subject has now been expanded considerably. It could be said that the amount of information contained within this book is such that absorbing it is like being repeatedly hit on the head…..but in a very good way!

The chapters I found most useful are towards the end of the book, ‘Organisation of the Armies’ and ‘Uniforms’, and I am sure the same would be said of any war gamer reading them, as after reading the book I found I had another itch to scratch in terms of future projects. I was also very pleased to see a chapter providing details of all the combatants’ major warships. Having this all in one place is very helpful when cross referencing the naval operations to check on ship capabilities.

The colour illustrations are lovely and well crafted, depicting examples of Bolivian, Peruvian and Chilean troops, in all their glory in the case of the Bolivian Cuirassier regiment, to the rag tag uniforms eventually worn by most of the men from all three armies as their pre-war uniforms wore out. In addition to the colour uniform plates there are some excellent, and for war-gamers rather useful, colour maps showing some of the main land and sea battles. The book is of course laced with numerous contemporary black and white images, many of which are photographs of officers and men from the war who may or may not have survived the conflict. It is some to reflect on perhaps?

The book concludes with a whole series of detailed appendices, giving the reader an impressive amount of information on orders of battle for the major engagements and casualties for each of the three armies.
It comes as no surprise then that I wholeheartedly recommend this book and I can think of at least one person not a million miles away who will love it.

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Partizan 2022

Sunday saw me head just short of two hours south to Newark for this year’s Partizan, always an event worth going to and this year was no exception. It was tremendous! We arrived about 11:20 and there was still a bit of a queue to get in but we were only held up for about five minutes, and once inside it was absolutely heaving with punters, traders and best of all some truly exceptional games. Some, but by no means all, of these games are pictured below. If I missed any, which I know I did, apologies. The photos are more or less grouped together by game, so here we go…..

The crowning glory has to go to this awesome 40mm Napoleonic game. No apologies for the number of photos of this game; It’s amazing how much skill and hours, years even, of work must have gone into the game. Some of the terrain elements and figures have been seen before but the city/fortress was certainly new. The game organiser my mate Ian Smith sadly passed away suddenly after a short illness just a few weeks ago, but Shaun Bryant and ‘The Friends of Ian Smith’ went ahead with the game with the blessings of Ian’s widow in memory of Ian and the mark he made on the hobby and the 'Friends’ over a lifetime. He will be sorely missed. And what a beautiful game! A fitting tribute to a great guy.


Below are some photos of another lovely game, 15mm ACW complete with siege works and riverine action. Vicksburg’sh and very attractive.



I’m not entirely sure what this was about. Early WW1 I think, using 1/72 scale figures.

Graham Cummings, formerly of Cran Tara Miniatures, put this “12 Years in the Making!” refight of then Battle of Culloden. The figures were I reckon all Cran Tara. Gorgeous looking figures and no teddy bears were harmed in the making of the  terrain.


Back to the 40mm Napoleonic for another ‘hit’ of eye candy……






Another colourful and jam-packed game was this superb First Carlist War battle. Some excellent paining skills were on show here. I liked the look of the massed columns crossing the bridge and the ford.


Sorry but here are some more pictures of the late Ian Smith’s game…….there’s just so much going on one visit is not enough.


The Boondock Saints gave us another Indian extravaganza, this time set during the Great Mutiny of 1857. As usual for these guys there was some exquisite scratch built terrain and tremendous figures and vignettes on the table. Also as usual they got dressed up and opened a bottle of claret, or two…….



Steve Spence lately of the Durham Wargames Group but now in exile in Newark put on a great looking game of the 28mm Battle of Nordlingen during the 30 Years War. Among the massive array of gorgeous figures were some really nice looking Spaniards from 1898 miniatures that I hadn't seen before in the flesh. Some of the Durham lads were there to help out.


An enormous Dark Ages set to. Lots of figures, great looking game. Nothing that’s not to like.


Wilson’s Creek I think, at the start of the ACW in 1861. 


            The Perry twins went slightly off-piste and gave us the Battle of Dorking or something similar set in the 1870s. The Prussians have invaded Britain and the British army is rushing to drive them back into the sea. The Prussians were from their new Franco-Prussian War range, and the British from the British Intervention in the ACW range.   I guess if the Franco Prussian French figures had been out we’d have seen them on the table in the place of the British?                              


The Like a Stone Wall guys laid on this staggeringly good game depicting the French attack on Hougomont during the battle of Waterloo. I hope whoever gets to store it has a big garage! They used 28mm figures and Sharpe Practice rules.


So there you go. Obviously there were lots more games than the ones I've included here but I was either too distracted by chatting myself hoarse or buying stuff, or there was no room for my chariot to get through, to photo everything.

I didn't go with a list but still managed to buy a fair bit in the shape of a box of Atlantic Conquistadores, 
some 1/72 scale early WW2 French, some terrain items off Andy at Last Valley and a couple of resin bridges. I also picked up a book on the Chinese army between 1937 and 1945 and a new set of Napoleonic rules that I intend to give a try. Charles Singleton also very kindly gifted me a bag of Old Glory Italian Wars Gendarmes.

Of course, the event was also an opportunity to catch up with friends and acquaintances from around the UK, including a couple I'd not seen since before Covid such as my mate David Bickley, Douglas Thomson and Shaun Bryant. All in all it was an excellent show and my final and greatest thanks must go to my long-suffering wife Katherine who drove me down despite not being fully recovered after two lots of surgery for her recently diagnosed cancer (which were both successful).

I have a game on Saturday so I'd better prepare the table as Tim and some of the lads from Like a Stone Wall are making another visit to the Burrow for a 1940 Fall of France game. [If anyone had told me 12 months ago that I'd be wargaming and collecting WW2 I would have told them 'in their dreams'. Oh well......].