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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Chalons – the final battle

Well after weeks of preparation, both armies were fully painted and we headed off to the Society of Ancients battle day at Sycamore Hall, Bletchley.

There were 15 games in progress, all fighting the same battle but using different rules. The only other game using 6mm figures was the battle being played under Warmaster Ancients and they had twice as many figures as we had.

It was all very tight and we had no real space to display all the bumf that I had prepared to go with the game, but there were some railings behind the game that I managed to stick stuff on to. So it looked like this


A map of the deployment. Details of the scenario, here.


Now this is a picture of the first turn, a mass of Ostrogoths approaching the hill. As has been proven from previous try-outs of the battle, the best strategy is for the Ostrogoths to try and force a passage through on the right flank of the hill. This time the Ostrogoth player massed four units (of the six that he had available) of cavalry and was opposed by two units of Visigoth cavalry.


Contact is made, two units of Ostrogoths against one unit of Visigoths


Now a feature of the Die is Cast rules are that in subsequent rounds of melee, additional ranks of cavalry can join the fight, so both sides now throw in another cavalry unit each into the combat on the right of the hill.


The result cripples the Visigoths, although both sides lose 2 bases of cavalry in the combat, the Ostrogoths outnumber their enemies by 2:1 and so can afford to exchange losses knowing that at this rate, some of them will be left alive when all the Visigoth cavalry are dead.


In the next round of combat, the Ostrogoths add another unit of cavalry to the fight but still mange to lose the combat and one of their units of cavalry is forced to retreat. That still leaves three units of Ostrogoth cavalry fighting two rather beaten up units of Visigoth cavalry.


But the serious combat begins on the hill. It is vital for the Visigoth infantry to beat the Ostrogoth infantry before the enemy cavalry (which looks increasingly certain to win on the flank) is able to turn onto the flanks of the Visigoths and beat them. The Ostrogoths reinforced their attack with a unit of cavalry, forcing the Visigoths to stand and take the charge but cavalry attacking uphill is still not effective.


Although the Ostrogoths won that round of combat, it was not enough to upset the Visigoths, who were being led by their King Theoderic.

Then in the next round, the Ostrogoths throw another unit of cavalry up the hill into fresh Visigoth infantry, lose the combat and are broken. Like a wave, the fear spreads thoughout the Ostrogoths and both units of their cavalry and all their infantry flee down the hill. However on the right of the hill the Visigoth cavalry has been destroyed, leaving the flanks of the victorious infantry wide open. On the plus side, two of the Ostrogothic cavalry units are so damaged that they are blown and cannot advance further, another of their units of cavalry has headed off in wild pursuit of the routing Visigoths and the remaining Ostrogoth cavalry unit is being persuaded to stop their retreat and head back to the fight.


But the Huns have advanced through the centre of the Roman forces, swept the Alans aside without even having to fight them. Now they have swung round to attack the flank of the previously immobile Romans (with great success) and attack the pursuing Visigoths.


Whilst two of the Visigothic infantry units continue the pursuit of the fleeing Ostrogothic infantry – deaf to their commanders orders to halt the pursuit. The hill is now attacked from three sides and the remaining Visigoths crumble under the assault.


The Roman sub-commander, having led the centre is pursued and overrun with his remaining unit of cavalry, dying in sight of Aetuis now leading his legions against the Hunnic right wing.



But Aetius was unsuccessful, Gepid lancers destroyed the elite Roman cavalry and the Frank/German infantry fought the legions to a draw.

So with the hill taken by the Huns, the Roman centre smashed and the Roman left unable to make a difference, we declared the game a stunning victory to the Huns.

Why did it happen? Well the victory of the Ostrogoth cavalry on the right of the hill was the start of it. The Roman forces just cannot afford to fight a game of attrition. The Romans really need to win on the right and then be able to successfully attack the Huns in the centre and the Roman left can support them in that. But the Romans cannot win the day on their own.

In points terms the Huns have a slight advantage in points, 1800 against the Roman 1700. It might be interesting to add another 100 points of troops to the Roman side and see how an equal points battle will go.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Chalons a triumph, then disaster

On Good Friday we took our Chalons game down to the Wigan wargames club to try out. What happened was one of the oddest games I have yet played.

We take the battle from the point where the Visigoths have occupied the hill and the Ostrogoths have been told to take it.
So the armies of both sides are static except for the Ostrogoths on the Hunnic side. As soon as they contact the Visigoth infantry on the hill, the entire Hunnic army is released and can start moving. But if the Visigoths rout an Ostrogoth unit in combat, the entire Roman army gets released.


In effect this gives the Ostrogoths three choices;
1) Suicide a unit up the hill but not much of an advantage as both armies will be released.
2) Straight forward attack, straight up the hill but this tends not to work.
3) Attack round the flanks of the hill and then attack the Visigoth infantry in the flank, the most successful option.

So our experienced Ostrogothic commander attempts option 3 but is totally repulsed, the attacking Ostrogoth cavalry are broken (releasing the entire Roman force) with the Visigoth cavalry in hot pursuit.

There then followed a couple of turns of the Attila urging his compatriot to attack the hill quickly and not bother about the fancy tactics, as he was now faced with advancing Romans and little chance of stopping them if he could not move his own forces.
So the infantry attached to the Ostrogoths were sent up the hill in a rather doomed frontal attack and so it proved. At this point we were looking at an overwhelming Roman victory, the first time this had happened.

But since contact on the hill had been made, the Hunnic army was also released, some forces moving to help the Goths and the others attacking the centre.

After a couple of turns of fighting the pursuing Visigoths were stopped and indeed thrown back in disarray. With their cavalry gone the victorious Visigoths infantry flanks and rear was exposed and soon the Ostrogoth cavalry swarmed round them and started to destroy the enemy infantry.


In the centre the Alans fled before even making contact and a unit of Hun Noble cavalry broke through a unit of Roman allied Frank infantry, broke them, rallied immediately and then charged into the flank of some Frank cavalry which had been fighting against other Hun cavalry, breaking them immediately.


Only one part of the Roman army remained intact, the Roman left wing under Aetius, who were fighting rather indecisively against the Gepids. With centre gone, it was obvious that they too would be surrounded and cut to pieces.
Perhaps it was a rather impetuous Roman pursuit that was our undoing but it had all looked to be going so well, so could the Roman players be blamed for trying to take advantage of the situation.

Anyway Saturday is another day, perhaps the dice will bring a Roman victory this time.

New wargames shop in Colne, Lancashire

A friend took me to a new wargames shop, Wargames Supplies (which includes an online forum).

Tucked away at the end of a newly refurbished arcade in Colne.

Wargame Supplies Ltd
6 & 7 Shackleton Arcade
Church St
01282 865206

Opening hours:

Mon 11 until 4
Tues closed
Wed 11 until 9
Thurs 11 until 6
Fri 11 until 6
Sat 10 until 5
Sun 11 until 4

With a car park just across on the other side of the road.

They sell Games Workshop figures and paints, Warlord Games stuff, Privateer Press, Battlefront and Malifaux.

Gaming tables in another room.

In all very well laid out place with knowledgeable owner. Pop along and check it out for yourself.

Painting 6mm figures – for Chalons

Well the armies are now ready; 13 units of infantry, 16 units of cavalry and 12 units of skirmishers.

Two of us painting, John Holroyd and myself. It took about three weeks and it has been a long time since I last painted 6mm figures so I learned a few tricks. All the figures used were from Baccus Miniatures.

Paint consistency is vital, since you are using only a small amount of paint at a time, it dries quickly and becomes too thick to be of use. So a small pot of water near-by is handy to dip the brush into to keep the paint flowing. Very thin paint used as a wash can look very effective in this scale. Remember to keep the colours a shade lighter than you would use for larger scale figures.

You need good eye-sight, we both wore our glasses and used magnifying visors for extra vision.

You will make mistakes and splash areas you have already painted or did not intend to paint. Really its up to you, to either go back and touch that area up or ignore it and carry on.

Most of my painting was simple; undercoat the figures white and then paint over them, to create the effect. But for the commanders I used a brown ink wash over the undercoat and then painted in the areas between the ink (after it dried). It certainly does improve the look of the figures but takes a great deal more time. Since we were in a rush, the simpler technique was used for the majority of the figures.

Painting regular troops is easier, mainly they are the same. For the irregulars its a matter of mixing the colours and for this a bit of maths is handy, since the figures come in strips of 3 or 4, don’t use multiples of those numbers, instead paint every 5th, 2nd or 7th figure with a different colour for cloak or trousers. The result is a nicely ‘random’ looking unit.

So how did they come out?

The Roman army


The Hunnic army


The Roman division of the Roman army


Close up on a unit of legionaries


and a close up on the auxlia


all the bases are standard mdf 40x20mm magnetic bases. Once the strips (or individual figures in the case of cavalry) are on the bases its a matter of putting on the flocking gel, letting it set and then painting the base. For details see this post.

So just the commanders to finish off and we will be ready to play the battle with fully painted armies.