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Monday, 20 February 2012

Warhammer Ancients Grand Tournament 2012

I have just come back from the UK WAB GT held at Mansfield, using my WF Gallic troops as Galatians.
We were using the lists in the new Armies of Antiquity book, 2800 points each.
My army was:
General (mounted)
a unit of 3 chariots
2 units each of 8 noble cavalry
4 units each of 24 Fanatic infantry
3 units each of 18 Fanatic infantry
with the following Greek allies
a unit of 18 peltasts
unit of 11 javelinmen
2 units of archers 10 and 14 strong respectively
The Galatian army is mainly made of fanatic infantry who are classified as Frenzied. That means that each figure fighting gets 2 attacks each and because of their mixed weapons, get to re-roll misses in the first round of every combat. A fearsome lot indeed. The other benefit of being Frenzied is that they ignore all Panic checks and are immune to Fear or Terror. That means that I will have an army that I can rely on not to break and run if their friends break or they are shot at. The only disadvantage is that I am forced to charge enemy if they get within my charge reach, which a cunning opponent will try to do.
The players and their armies

My first game against Andrew Beer using Dacians. These Dacians have bows as well as Mixed weapons giving them a fearsome firepower

And my Galatian army

My units as they advance toward the enemy. My losses are extreme the unit on the right has lost 2 full ranks and the unit to the front has lost only slightly less, one rank. So I pull back the unit on the right and try a desperate charge with the unit at the front, it fails and the Dacians break them and start pursuing me.

This picture is linked to a bigger version of the picture, so just click on it if you would like to see the larger version.
The view of the right of the table, My chariots and infantry advancing against Dacian cavalry, the Dacians charge and beat my cavalry, pursuing into the infantry.

In the centre I am counter-attacking whilst the victorious Dacian unit moves forward. My broken unit has rallied in the rear but has been severely damaged.

Click on above for larger image
My charging troops won and swept the enemy away. Because of the losses I suffered, it was a decent 23 (to me) - 9 (to him) defeat.
Second game against Tony Garrys Romans, it was fast, I didn't take any pictures and I lost completely 0-32. The Romans just charged me, won all the combats, destroyed my army and I did not cause a point of damage to them. Lesson learned, the Romans can beat me easily if they charge me (other way around is a different story).
Third game against Andrew Kershaws Seleucids. Hard army for me to beat with elephants, pikes and very good cavalry.

Click on above for larger image
I managed to sneak some javelinmen through the woods and throw javelins into the side of an elephant, causing it to stampede. OK one down, another to go.

On my right the peltasts charge my chariots, who beat them, pursue close enough to the elephant to take a Terror test, which they fail and run straight off the table edge. Just one of those days.

On the left I manage to break 2 units of cavalry and start to advance

but the enemy rallies both units of cavalry and counter-attacks, it is a savage fight and could have gone either way. Losses mounting on both sides but I had the numbers to take it. On the last turn of the game I break the enemy and get a slight win 19-13. One lesson I learned from this is that I cannot break a pike block frontally, they strike first and kill so many of my figures that I have no chance to win. And because I have to charge if I can, the trick is to be no where near them in the first place.

So 3 games on the fist day, onto the next day for 2 more.
First up against John Walls Imperial Romans. OK know the drill for this one, get the charges in and win! Sorry I didn't have time to take pictures of this one. It was a hard fought game and John had done well in earlier rounds and I got a 25-7 victory.
Fifth and last game against Bob Stradlings Romans - more Romans well at least I knew what to expect. Bob totally fooled me for deployment as with a hill to deploy his artillery, I thought he would put the artillery there and deploy the rest of the army below the hill using his artillery to act as fire support to his attacking legions. OK he put his artillery on the hill but then put his legions on the other flank.
Bob got first turn, moving aggressively toward me with his legions and getting lucky and wiping out my chariots with long range artillery fire on the first turn, this game was going to be no joke.

Click on above for larger image

On the right Bobs Numidian cavalry first wiped out my skirmishers but were then charged and defeated by my peltasts (rolling the best dice I had all weekend)

My units on the right then swept forward, taking out the Roman skirmishers, almost wiping out the Numidian cavalry and finally charging the Roman auxila from the front and the flank at the same time. I had the option to go for the artillery with one of my units of fanatics but instead turned it left to threaten the Roman centre with a flank attack, so that he was forced to stop advancing toward me and threatening to charge me. So by turning the flank, I had effectively won the game.

Meanwhile I had broken the Roman cavalry on the left, so was swinging round on that flank too. However the Roman general had taken the legions standard and launched a charge in the centre which (as we would expect) broke the infantry in front of it, it then pursued into and broke another of my units. But I had another unit prepared for this and it then charged into the only successful Roman unit on the table, who chose to flee rather than fight it out.

Click on above for larger image
View of the right

an isolated unit of legionaries surrounded by screaming Galatians

click on above for larger image
the end. The Galatian cavalry charge into and wipe out the fleeing Roman general, his army standard and the unit he was with - the Romans fled to this position from the cavalry charge and the cavalry had sufficient charge distance to reach them.

A 30-2 victory for me but my opponent rolled the worst dice I have seen all weekend.
Third place, Ed McDonald with Imperial Romans

Second place, Tony Garry (the guy who trashed me in game 2) with his Romans

And in first place Malcolm Barnfield with Seleucids

And some of the prizes for the event

Andrew Beer is the most sporting player (he was using the Dacians and was a pleasure to play)
Keith Tait gets the prize for the best painted army
Now some of the armies that I did not get to play, in photos
Mike Whitakers Ancient British
Martin Gibbins Late Romans – all these picures below are linked to larger versions of the picure. Just click on the pic for the larger version.
Phil Vernons Seleucids
Now I am not sure but I think these are Keith Taits Sassanids
Overall I scored 113 points (23 in first game, 0 in 2nd, 19 in 3rd, 27 in 4th and 30 in 5th game). I calculate that as 99 points scored out of a possible total of 160 and somewhere I picked up another 14 points but the event organiser will know where those came from. And all that was good enough to get me 5th place.
The winner was Malcolm Barnfield Seleucid with 156 points and that is a really stunning total.
It was my first chance to use an army from the new Armies of Antiquity lists and from chatting to the other players it seems that all the armies were balanced to play. I think the Germans and British were always going to struggle, both fairly weak warband armies with little armour. But there seems no need for the ABC balancing system which was in use with earlier supplements. A lot of the special army rules have gone but if you wanted to bring those back, simply use one of the earlier specific WAB supplements and both players choose from that, no problem. But for tournaments (and remember a tournament is just a place for people to come and play people they don’t normally play, not a place to prove how ‘good’ you are) allowing a wider range of armies to play against each other fairly allows more people with different armies to come.
Plans for next years 2013 event are already in progress and you can see what is happening here:

Friday, 17 February 2012

WAB Grand Tournament 2012

Right, off tomorrow morning for 2 days playing Warhammer Ancient Battles at Mansfield for the grand tournament.

the players are:

Andrew Kershaw                    Seleucid
Phil Vernon                            Seleucid
Martin Gibbins                        Late Imperial Roman
Justin Taylor                           Galatian
David Pearson                        Ancient Germans
David Johnson                        Early Imperial Roman
Tony Garry                            Republican Rome
Ed McDonald                          Early Imperial Roman
John Wall                               Early Imperial Roman
Kieth Tait                               Sassanid
Grahame Middleton                 Late Imperial Roman
Malcolm Barnfield                   Seleucid
Andrew Beer                          Dacian
Mike Whitaker                        British Tribes
Wayne Richards                      Sassanid
Bob Stradling                          Early Imperial Roman

My first choice of army was Seleucid but so many people had already chosen it, it looked like the standard 'power' army so I decided to switch to something else, Galatians.

The Galatian army is mainly made of fanatic infantry who are classified as Frenzied. That means that each figure fighting gets 2 attacks each and because of their mixed weapons, get to re-roll misses in the first round of every combat. A fearsome lot indeed. The other benefit of being Frenzied is that they ignore all Panic checks and are immune to Fear or Terror. That means that I will have an army that I can rely on not to break and run if their friends break or they are shot at. The only disadvantage is that I am forced to charge enemy if they get within my charge reach, which a cunning opponent will try to do. I will just have to be even more cunning.

My army will be:

General (mounted)
a unit of 3 chariots
2 units each of 8 noble cavalry
4 units each of 24 Fanatic infantry
3 units each of 18 Fanatic infantry
with the following Greek allies
a unit of 18 peltasts
unit of 11 javelinmen
2 units of archers 10 and 14 strong respectively

A total of 2799 points from the new Armies of Antiquity lists.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

In Praise of Warmaster Ancients

Back in the days when DBM was king, it was my preferred system for playing games with 15mm figures. That did not mean that I did not have my doubts about the system including the way that chance could have such a great effect not only on the ability to move but combats. The strength of DBM was that it was so universal, practically everywhere you went you could get a game of DBM against someone you had never met before. But the decision of both of the DBM rule designers to go their separate ways for future rules development almost gave us permission to explore other rule sets. So I, like others hunted around for another ruleset to satisfy our gaming urges. In the end – after trying several of the current rules – I settled on Warmaster Ancients, written by Rick Priestly and sold by Warhammer Historical. The rules are a modification of the Games Workshop fantasy rules and in common with their normal rules the first thing you need is loads of dice. Since Warmaster Ancients does not get a lot of mention in Slingshot, it seems worthwhile giving you a quick view of how it works and why I like it.
Movement is done by rolling dice and comparing the roll with the commanders leadership value. If you pass the test then the unit or group of units being ordered to move, can indeed move. If the commander fails a roll then that’s it, no more orders from them for the rest of the turn. If the overall army commander fails a roll then no more orders can be issued for that army for this turn. If a double six is rolled then as well as failing to give the order successfully, a Blunder has occurred and another die is rolled to see what unpredictable event has happened. The command roll is influenced by how far the commander is from the units he is trying to order and number of other factors like proximity to the enemy and casualties suffered. Units or groups of units can be given up to 3 successive orders in a turn, so units can move up to 90cm in a turn but each further order makes it harder to make a successful roll. Better leaders give a higher chance of success but nothing guarantees a successful roll, it is not uncommon to have units sitting there doing nothing as the enemy advance upon them but there is always the refuge of the Initiative order allowing units to make an automatic move when then enemy are within 20cm, instead of commanders attempting to give them orders. Initiative moves are inflexible but at least stop the horror of not being able to do anything if the enemy are close and your dice have been poor. Some people like movement controlled by dice rolls, I must admit I am not a fan but better commanders give you greater chance of getting your troops to go where you want them to be and the Initiative move gives you a last chance to do something even if the dice fail. Another plus for the Warmaster movement system is that you can get some really large moves that greatly add to the fluidity of the game.
Shooting – like combat – is extremely simple, roll a dice to hit and another die is rolled by the opposing player if the enemy unit has armour in an attempt to stop the hit from wounding the unit. Three wounds will normally remove a base from a unit and a unit normally has 3 bases. Wounds which have not removed a base are removed from units at the end of turn unless the unit is in combat. In other words they are lost. Shooting tends to drive the enemy back rather than inflict enough casualties to remove bases but also has a chance of causing Confusion in the target unit. Confusion means that the unit will not be able to receive orders in their own turn and is at reduced effectiveness in melee. But with sufficient missile troops, you can shoot a unit to death, especially if it has no save. In a siege game, I managed to destroy a section of wall and was preparing to advance through it, when my opponent used to the ineffectiveness of normal shooting deployed a unit in the gap created by the destroyed section. The concentrated fire of my siege artillery totally destroyed the unit in one round of – lucky – shooting, which was a surprise to both of us.
Combat is like shooting but with more dice rolled, each base of troops will have a number of attacks specified for its troop type. Normally it is a simple roll of 4 or more to hit but if the enemy counts as defended or fortified it will reduce this. Combat is simultaneous but chargers get a bonus for charging and reduce the number of dice that the enemy fight with, if they happen to attack them in the flank or rear. As with shooting, armour saves apply, so well armoured troops take less casualties in combat. There are two rounds of combat fought each turn and if you wipe out your opponents, you can advance into another enemy and fight two more rounds of combat that turn. As you can imagine combat tends to be decisive. Unarmoured units can be wiped out in one round of combat, even well armoured troops gradually take casualties and become ineffective even if you could mange to give them orders. The best way to attack is to hit an enemy in the flank which reduces their effectiveness and reduces your own losses. Frontal attacks with good troops can succeed but to truly work the enemy needs to be hit with multiple units, not isolated attacks.
Commanders principle role is to issue orders to units but they can add extra dice to a units attacks if they choose to join a unit. The penalty is that if the unit they are with is wiped out, they are lost as well. Normally commanders are invulnerable but if the enemy move through a commander, they force the commander to join the nearest friendly unit where of course they can be destroyed if you wipe the unit out. In fact killing the enemy army general is one of the methods to win the game.
Army lists are included in the main rules and there are two supplements specifically of army lists, ancients and medieval. The supplements include changes to the rules especially for the use of skirmishers which really make the game work. I am glad to say that skirmishers actually shoot in Warmaster Ancients, one of my beefs with DBM was that skirmishers ‘shooting’ was only done in combat. The rules are no longer in print but copies seem to be available online second hand. The amendments are also available online and I recommend using them.
The rules are simple but like with chess, the application of them, make the game. Luck is of course a factor but with many dice being rolled, one or two bad die rolls will not affect the game. I said I was looking to play games with my 15mm figures but Warmaster Ancients tend to be played with 6mm or 10mm figures. So I now have armies in both those scales to play locally, all based on the standard 40x20 mm base used by Warmaster. DBM used 40mm width elements and I am happy that I could use my 15mm figures for Warmaster if anyone was interested, without having to re-base them. Now we know the rules, our games last between one or two hours. I have some battle reports up on the CACK wargames club site under historical battles if you are interested.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Blitzkrieg Commander 2 late war battle Russian vs German

January 1945 – Eastern Front
Scenario 4 Deliberate Attack
Jason and Simon/Oliver – 2000 points Late War Germans – Defenders (1000 points each)
Robb and Justin – 3000 points Late War Russians – Attackers (1500 points each)
This is a set-piece attack with the aim of capturing a terrain feature such as a hill, village, or a area of a town or city. The attacker has 50% more points available than the defender and may purchase assets for scheduled artillery and air support. The defender deploys first up to the table centre, may purchase one artillery asset per off table artillery unit, and may purchase field defences for fixed defence. The attacker should deploy opposite the defender using static deployment. (It also said Flank deployment but this would make it far to easy for the attacker).
The attacker should occupy the objective within 12 turns to achieve a minor victory and within 9 turns to achieve a major victory. The game is limited to 12 turns with the attacker taking the first turn.
Pictures of the game.
The German high command
The German defensive line starting their left and moving right

the centre, the hub of the German defense

and on the right, mostly infantry
All good positions, using cover but IMHO the tanks were too close to the front (and in the case of the Tiger on the hill, too far back) and invited defeat in detail, which is precisely what the Russian plan was.
Russian attack, we decided to throw everything at the centre and overwhlem the German defenders. There was also a nice road taking us straight to the hill (our objective) at the back of the table
020212_05[1] .
The Russian forces were simple, just tanks with tank riders on the back (they would have looked silly being balanced on the back of the tanks, so you will have to imagine them).
The plan is going well with the IS2s heading down the road and already 2 German tanks are burning, whilst another has been suppressed and forced back from the hedge into the wood. The Tiger on the hill is shooting at us but has so far proved ineffective.
The plan goes horribly wrong when the advancing Russian tanks get their orders confused (roll a blunder)  and instead turn on the road trying to destroy the German infantry but blocking the road and exposing themselves to flank  and rear shots.

Its a mess, the Russian attack has stalled and under a hail of mortar fire and a German counter-attack (with the lone remaining PziV) Russian tanks are burning and the Russian infantry are being mown down by German machine guns.

But the hill is clear, the Tiger was hit, suppressed and forced to fall back, straight off the edge of the table. The Soviet objective is clear, all we have to do is get there.

Game over (I think it took 5 turns), we did not get to the objective but the casualties the Germans suffered meant that their forces broke and we won the day. On to bigger and better games next time