Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hannibal: Rome versus Carthage

With my folks having come over for a surprise Christmas visit tradition dictated that the old man and I would get a bit of gaming in.  He had been reading a bit about the Punic Wars and was quite keen to try out Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage once he saw it on the shelf.  I'd picked up a copy of the Valley Games reprint when it came out but had not had a chance to play, so we set it up and went for it.

The first game in I managed to lose from a strong position when Hannibal wan vanquished in battle and had nowhere to retreat to.  I hadn't realised he could have counterattacked to take back the initiative during the battle.  Bad move!

In the second game my Carthaginians absolutely dominated due to Roman uncertainly about how to proceed strategically and were ahead 11 provinces to 7 prior to Scipio Africanus making his appearance.  Showing himself to be worthy of the name, he of the gens Cornelia promptly sailed to Carthage; four card plays later, he had taken it for the victory!  I was a bit brassed off with myself for losing (again) from a strong position, but I suppose I can console myself with the thought that I'm in reasonably good company...  In this case there were only two cards in the deck that could have stopped me relieving the siege of Carthage, and I had a nasty feeling the old man had them both in his hand.  I gambled on him having only one of them and - predictably - paid the price!

Full marks to the old fulla - he once again showed himself to be a canny opponent and a good advertisement for the benefits of a regular diet of chess.   No matter what the game, and no matter how unfamiliar its concepts might be, he is able to quickly assess what needs to be done to win and then goes about doing it.  It has been a great few days and I'm not looking forward to their leaving tomorrow.

As for Hannibal, it is an intriguing game.  It seems to require a curious mix of prudence and daring; no doubt the mark of a good player is knowing when each is called for.  I think it will take me a while to get the balance right because - as the picture below shows - if I can lose from this position it is hard to know how I will ever win!

On that note, cheers, and all the best for 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

As we head into the holiday season I'd just like to take the opportunity to wish all readers a safe and merry Christmas!

Best wishes to you all,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Orders in...

Well, after much kuffuffling about I finally decided to order some Gauls.  I have a few about but I really need to get serious.  What hobbiest worth his salt can own Carthaginan and Caesarian armies and not have Gallic cavalry?  It was getting embarrassing.   The upshot is that orders have been placed for Xyston packs from Brookhurst Hobbies and for some Tin Soldier ones (you can see pictures of the latter here) from the UK.

Research suggests these ranges will go well together, and there should be quite a bit of pose variety, which is a good thing with these kinds of armies in my opinion.

Just to round things off I also popped in an order with Quick Reaction Force for some Late Republican Roman command figures.  I've had exceptional service from QRF recently and wanted to pick something up from them as a wee thank you.

All that means I will have large Gallic, Persian, Greek and Successor armies all waiting to be painted.  I guess I'd better hope for a few rainy days!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some Carthaginians finished

The Carthaginian bits and pieces I've been working on are now finished, thankfully.  First up is a unit of Citizen cavalry made up of Corvus Belli figures supplemented by a Chariot standard bearer and Old Glory commander.

Next up we have some reconstituted units.  Here are some Old Glory Spanish cav touched up and rebased to include some newly painted Essex figures.

More reconstituted units - this time older Chariot Citizen spearmen rebased to add in Corvus Belli figures.

  Finally, some Chariot Italians that I got in an ebay deal years ago touched up and rebased for play.

I've been experimenting with basing troops as units, a la Basic Impetus, with infantry elements 80mm wide by 30/40 deep and some 40mm wide to add a bit more flexibility.   This is because I only really use unit-based rules these days, and I do like the look of the bigger elements.

I'm pretty pleased to have these guys out of the way.  Next task to tackle is the odds and ends Spanish - around 150 of them, I regret to say!

To finish, here's the lot of 'em:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Painting Progress

After quite a hiatus, I've started picking up the paint brushes again at nights.  I have so much stuff sitting in boxes ready to take its place on the table that it seems churlish to deny it the necessary lick of paint.

Just finished are a bunch of 32 Punic Citizen infantry from Corvus Belli, with officers and standard bearers from Chariot (Magister Militum).  These have been done quickly and to match other units, so they are only basic paint jobs and nothing to write home about.  Still, they're probably worth chucking on the blog as I've had so little else to report of late!

These have been given their first coat of Future/Klear, and after one more coat will be mixed in with existing Chariot figures, given a spray of matt varnish, and based.  Should see these on the table fairly soon, all going well...!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Battle of Tunis with Piero

Last night fellow Lost Battles enthusiast Piero and I tried out Joel Toppen's beta version of the Lost Battles VASSAL module in a 'live' game online.

Playing Tunis, we saw Carthage (Piero) pitted against the might of Syracuse (yours truly) .  Carthage has a combined-arms force employing heavy and light infantry, cavalry and chariots; the opposed Syracusans have Agathocles and his powerful but limited force of hoplites and heavy infantry.  While Agathocles is classed as an inspired general, Carthage has the mournfully unspectacular Hanno and Bomilcar sharing command duties.  Both armies are stiffened by two units of veterans, but Syracuse holds the edge in fighting values - 60 against 51 - thanks in large part to Carthage's reliance on levy troops.

We used the historical deployment, which looks like this:

You will note that Carthage (the white troops) is not able to make good use of its chariotry and cavalry due to command limitations and the nature of the terrain.

The first few turns were notable for the number of all-out attacks employed - Carthage's by choice; Syracuse's by rule (hoplites must all-out attack if the chance arises) - and some low command rolls.

Taking the action up in the third turn, we see that Agathocles finds himself and his guard hoplites as the lead unit in their zone (this meaning that all enemy attacks will be directed against him this turn) and also spent (ie, his unit will be removed from the game if it takes another hit).  That this is not a good position to be in is something of an understatement!

Despite some desperate rally attempts, Agathocles' chaps are shattered and he is forced to flee the table under, it must be said, somewhat ignominious circumstances!  Fortunately, the rest of the army is made of sterner stuff.

Over the next few turns Carthage keeps scoring hits (mostly by all-out attack), which cause the battle lines to quickly weary.  Hanno is killed in a rally attempt, but it is no great loss.  At last Syracuse finds enough command points to bring up some reinforcements in the centre, and things become very tense as both sides near breaking point.

The next screenshot shows the situation just before things start to swing to one side's advantage.  You will see that both of Carthage's wing zones are entirely spent (designated by reddened units) and that Syracuse is in a similar situation.  It is now Carthage's turn, and a strong showing will likely see them strike a decisive blow...

This is the situation:

Leading with the centre, Carthage scores a hit on one infantry unit, but misses with the other three attacks.  On the left, two hits are scored, but at the moment of the second the gods are invoked on Syracuse's behalf, and the re-roll is a miss.  The other attacks also miss, leaving Syracuse with one unit of fresh hoplites to attack with next turn.

The greatest effort is now summoned for the assault on the right, but as determined as the attackers are, the defenders prove to be their equals.  No headway can be made, no hits are scored, and no morale test is required.

This is all the encouragement that the Syracusans need, and on their phase of the fifth turn the one remaining unit of fresh hoplites on the right launches a glorious attack which sees a unit shattered and Bomilcar fall in attempting to rally it.  With both generals now dead, the Carthaginian levies panic and run, leading to a general rout.  Despite the chaos around them, the two veteran units of the right and the unspent heavy infantry of the centre can hold their heads high after retiring from the fray in good order.

So, with the field won for Syracuse (but not without cost), it was time to tally the victory points.  In so doing we discovered that Carthage had scored 82 points to Syracuse's 75, which gave Piero a famous game victory.

It was a tense and exciting game, and considering that it was played live by two people on different sides of the globe connected by a computer program and a pair of headsets, it went pretty smoothly.  It is remarkable what a wonderful tool VASSAL is and how convenient is it to use.

We made a few in-game mistakes while getting used to the medium, the interface and, in my case, hoplites.  While all of the mistakes were minor (and my fault!) the biggest error was forgetting to rotate Agathocles' guard unit out of the lead position after it had been forced to make an all-out attack.  I won't forget again!

For those interested, Piero of Carthage has posted his own thoughts on the game here.  Many thanks to him and also to Joel for his fine work getting the new module ready.  I shall look forward to the next game!
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