Tuesday, June 20, 2017

South Bay Game Club June Meeting

Even though the May meeting was held two weeks previously and Kublacon was the week before, the turnout tor the June meeting was good.   Five games were run: Mike Simpson ran a Dragon Rampant game set in Wales, Kent Reuber ran an English Civil War battle using Regiment of Foote, Ix ran a WWI naval battle between Russia and Germany at Libau,  Chuck Staedler ran a Sky's the Limit air game set in 1944, and I ran a fictional Second Punic War Battle set about the time of Trebia using Scutarii.

The Romans had a full consular army versus an almost equal point army from Carthage.   Hannibal  had his morale modifier increased from one to two and would win ties for initiative.  The armies were as follows:

GENERALS +1 X 14 X + OR - 1 OR 0 X 1+4 X
VELITES 3 5 6,8 2" 10 7 10 70
HASTATI 3+2 6 6 X 10 9 10 90
PRINCIPES 3+2 6 6 X 10 9 10 90
TRIARII 4 6 6 X 10 9 10 90
CAVALRY 3 6 12,14 2" 10 10 6 60
HANNIBAL +1 X 14 X + OR - 2,1,OR 0 5 1 10
GENERALS +1 X 14 X + OR - 1 OR 0 X 4 X
SLINGERS 2 5 6,8 2" 11 8 1 8
LT. INF. 3 5 6,8 2" 11 8 7 56
AFRICAN INF. 4 6 6 X 11 10 8 80
SPANISH INF. 3 5 6 X 11 8 4 32
GALLIC INF. 3 5 6 X 10 6 10 60
NUMIDIAN  3 5 12,14 2" 11 9 4 36
SPANISH HORSE 3 6 12,14 2" 11 10 3 30
GALLIC HORSE 3 6 12,14 2" 10 9 5 45
ELEPHANT 4 6 8 X 10 11 4 44

The Roman army had 2000 cavalry and 18,000 infantry.   The Carthaginians had 15,000 infantry, 4000 cavalry, and 20 elephants.  The battlefield was 6 feet wide by 5 feet deep on two 2.5 by 8 foot tables.

Greg (on the left) was Hannibal, Gary (on the right) was Mago,

Alan (in front) and Robert (to the rear) were the Roman commanders.

The turn sequence is dicing for initiative with the higher score deciding which side would move for that turn,  the side moving first makes any morale checks followed by their movement and missile fire, then a melee phase, then the second side makes any morale checks followed by movement and missile fire then a melee phase.   Moving units may conduct missile fire at any point during their movement if they have missile weapons.  The defending side can return fire if they are shot at or charged.

Prior to the battle both sides placed terrain features.   For a 400 point game each side could place up to four features.   The Romans placed three hills and Carthage placed two small woods (one on each flank) and two hills. Terrain features may be placed anywhere on the table except for the opposing side's deployment area.   After the terrain pieces were placed, both sides diced for them, with the higher score determining whether they would stay or be removed.  Tie scores go the side that placed the terrain feature.   The Carthaginians added one to their die roll for having twice as many scouting points.  One of the Roman hills was removed and the Roman players were able to remove the woods on the left flank of the Carthaginian army.

Initial deployment
The Roman army deployed in their standard formation with the legions in the center and chose to deploy their cavalry equally on both flanks.   Hannibal (Greg) chose to have two-thirds of his cavalry make a flank attack on his right.  All the elephants were deployed on the right flank with most of the remaining cavalry on the left flank.  The light infantry formed a skirmish screen and the heavy infantry was deployed with gaps between the units.

Carthage won the initiative for the first turn and the Romans won the initiative for all the other turns.  The Carthaginian plan was to let the Romans advance far enough forward so that flanking cavalry would arrive behind their lines.

By the third turn the two armies were engaged in combat.  On the Roman right the three cavalry units engaged the two of the Spanish horse and one Numidian cavalry unit.  The Carthaginians eventually were able to break the Roman horse, but their cavalry was exhausted by that time.   On the other flank the elephants and one Numidian cavalry unit broke the Roman horse leaving the left flank of the Roman infantry exposed.

Elephants on Carthaginian right make contact with a unit of Roman cavalry

The armies approach each other and the Roman cavalry on the right engage the Carthaginian horse

 Roman cavalry on their left flank flee from the elephants, while some of the elephants decide to quit the field.

The two armies engage in combat.  The three cavalry units on the Roman right exchange blows with their opponents.  The velites and the Carthaginian light infantry have fallen back to the rear of the main battle lines.  The small numbered markers are used to keep track of damage to each unit and accumulate throughout the battle.

Half of the elephants had left the field by the time the rest of the Carthaginian cavalry arrived on the field.   Some of the Carthaginian horse headed for the Roman camp while the rest were blocked from engaging the flank and rear of the Roman army by fleeing infantry from the Roman left flank.  With nothing else to do several units of cavalry proceeded to chase down the fleeing Romans and drive them from the field.

Carthaginian flanking cavalry arrive
In the center the Roman infantry was slowly cutting its way through the opposing Carthaginian infantry.

Gauls in the Carthaginian center recoil along with some of the Spanish to their left.
Rush hour on the Via Apia as Roman left flank infantry flees

Hannibal had managed to rally some wavering Gauls and urge them to continue fighting.  Just as it looked like the Romans would break through and escape their camp was captured.  Roman morale collapsed and victory went to the Carthaginians.  Losses for the Carthaginians were just over 1000 infantry and a few cavalry.  About half the Roman army was slain and the rest captured.

6mm figures.  Roman army by Rapier.  Carthage is a mix of Baccus, H&R, and Irregular.

Monday, May 8, 2017

April South Bay Game Club Meeting

There were four games being played at the April meeting.   The airplane guys were running a scenario where a damaged B27 was trying to make it back to safety.   This one finished early when the B27 got shot down.

Mike was running a Dragon Rampant game set in the age of Arthur.

Nick ran a French intervention in Mexico game.  Lunch break.

The one that I participated in was a Too The Strongest Game with Carthagenians vs. Romans.   To the Strongest uses an activation system for moving units with a one in ten chance of not activating a unit, but also allowing a second attempt to activate if a general is available.   Activation sytems are common in a number of ancient rules where you have to either equal and exceed or equal and be less than a certain score.   While it introduces a certain amount of fog of war, it makes it difficult to simulate the Gallic charges that Caesar describes in his book on the conquest of Gaul.   There is one set I know of where there is a one in six chance of not activating a unit.   So imagine 60,000 Gauls charging and each turn 10,000 of them decide to halt and maybe block the guys behind them  Fortunately that was not the case in this game.  We used a new rule that guys who had gone to England said had been introduced where for the first activation attempt one card was drawn for all the units in a command for the first activation of a turn.   The rules also allow a general to draw a second card for units he is with or near to activate them if the first fails.   This went a long way towards reducing the change of a complete failure to about 1%.

The rules use a deck of 80 numbered cards for activations, combat, etc.   These actually play faster than dice, but the odds of drawing a card change each time compared to rolling a 10 sided die.   There are a lot of games that I have played that use 10, 12, 8 and 4 sided dice in addition to plain old 6 sided and even average dice.   An extreme example of card draw changing the odds happened during the game.  The first ten cards I drew on one turn were all six or higher.    This changed the odds of getting a six or higher for the next draw, which I needed for a hit, to about 43% instead of 50%.  This was an extreme case though as most of the turns the card draw tended to even out.

I was the commander for Carthage with Lawrence as my right wing commander and Chuck as my left wing commander.   Bill McHugh commanded the Romans with Kent as his right wing commander and Robert as his left wing commander.  The Romans card draw gave them the first move for each turn.  The Roman army was about half a full consular army with three units of heavy cavalry, four velites, five each of Hastati and Princepes, and five units of Triarii.   Our army had two units of heavy Spanish infantry, four units of heavy African infantry, two deep units of Gauls,  four units of light javelins, one unit of slingers, two units of elephants, two units of light cavalry,  and five units of heavy cavalry.   Points were 150 each.  I chose to weight our left wing more heavily than the right.  Chris was the game master and supplied the armies from his collection of 15mm figures.   The squares were 4 inches/100 mm across.

Our plan was to have the two cavalry wings encircle the Roman army with the elephants taking out the cavalry and draw the Roman infantry into the center/   Chris had made the Roman cavalry used to elephants so that part of our plan wasn't going to turn out as expected.  

The first turn saw the Romans make a normal move forward.   Our wings made march moves.   On the second turn the Romans started moving infantry to support the wings.   I then attempted to advance our infantry center to aid the wings with mixed luck on the activations.   Our wings engaged the Romans with the right wing not fairing too well and the left getting held up.   The Roman infantry center became disjointed with the middle advancing to engage our infantry and the flanking infantry engaging our cavalry.   This allowed me to attack the ends of the Roman center with multiple units.

Eventually I was able to help our right wing and keep it from being overwhelmed, destroy the Roman center and eliminate the Roman infantry on our left.   Chuck was able to take out the Roman cavalry opposing him and move units towards the center so that they would help defeat what was left of the Roman infantry.

The loss of a unit in the game does not trigger any morale checks by units next to it, but does count towards overall command and army morale.   A command becoming ineffective once it exceeds 50% casualties, which happened to our right wing command.   Our initial plan had succeeded though not quite in the way it was initially intended to.  In addition to losing both elephant units we also lost some cavalry and one of the Spanish heavy infantry while destroying the Roman army.   Sadly our losses made those of Pyrrhus look mild in comparison. 

The game was fast paced and fun to play.  It lasted about three hours.  We still had plenty of time for a second game before the club meeting was over,  Robert had already left before the game was done and several of the other players had errands to run so we called it a day.  Thanks to Lawrence for taking the pictures.

 Our army
 Lawrence' wing 
Another view of Lawrence' wing
 The center, shortly before the destruction of the Roman infantry.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Blitzkriegcommander III

I received the newest version of the Blitzkrieg Commander series a couple days ago.   After Pendraken purchased the commander series I have been waiting for this to be completed so that they could then proceed to update Cold War Commander and Future War Commander to the format used for BKC II.

Shortly before receiving BKCIII I started noticing posts on The Miniatures Page, the Commander Series forums and the Pendraken forums about problems with the army lists and rules.  The arrival of the rules confirmed these problems.

The army lists are vital as they provide the vehicle stats for playing.  Some army lists are missing a number of vehicles that were included in the second edition.  While in some cases there are years of service listed for vehicles they do not include the month they entered service.  Armor values for PZIV drop off in army lists for later years.  There are other items that have been noted.

The rules for recon units are contradictory and prevent them from being used in some cases.   Forward Artillery Observers and Forward Air Controllers are now just listed as a Forward Observer.  FAC's were not equipped or trained to direct artillery nor were FAO's trained or equipped to direct air attacks.   By combing them as one item, all those army lists that did not have FAC's now do, even if they do not have the planes to direct.  The scenarios do not have force ratios,  the tactical doctrine rules that gave a bonus to CV for rigid doctrine units in the same formation are gone, field defenses are free?!?!?!, etc.

In BKC second edition Rigid Tactical Doctrine required formations be created at the start of the game and maintained throughout it.   If the same order was given to all units in the formation then they received a bonus to their command role encouraging group action.   Now any group of units in the same formation can be grouped together each turn and given an order with no bonus. 

While there were some changes that might be good, there are a lot of unnecessary changes that have been made.  The updating of the rules was entrusted by Leon of Pendraken to someone he felt was an experienced rules author.  Instead of doing that the author made wholesale changes that were not needed.  While there have been a number of rules questions raised on the Pendraken forums the author has not responded to any of them as of this time.  Others on the forum have noticed that he has logged in, but has not responded.

There have been posts by experienced BKC players who have tried to play the new rules, given up after a turn or two, and reverted to using BKC II to finish the games.

I feel sorry for Leon that this has happened.   While still listed on his site and at Wargames Vault the third edition is no longer available for purchase.  Leon has also established a pole on the Forum requesting input on a way forward.  I also regret that I did not have the time to volunteer and participate as a play tester.   If I had I would have raised strenuous objections to what was happening.
There is a post on the Pendraken forum from one who participated from the beginning of BKC I through BKC II who also regrets not being able to participate in the update of the rules.

A bit of an update.  I visited the Pendraken forums and noted that Leon has posted that they plan to do a reprint within the next two to three months.  I hope that they are able to do a proper fix and not rush it.  Leon's post

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Some Spanish tourists

I needed to paint  some more Spanish for Hannibal's army.  These guys are Baccus' Spanish scutarii.  There are four different poses on each regular strip and additional ones on each command strip. 192 of them.



Monday, May 1, 2017

Converting Hellenistic Generals part two

I previously posted about converting Baccus Greek Generals and Prodomoi into Hellenistic generals at

As mentioned in the previous post I was waiting for some of Baccus Italian cavalry and infantry to arrive.   These did and the heads from some of them provided additional generals.

This time I converted Baccus Roman Generals into Hellenistic generals.  The Roman General pack has five strips consisting of two different types of strips.   This conversion was easier as all I needed to do was add lances to them.   Now to paint them.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ranks of Bronze

Started project to do the battle of Chaeronea 338 B.C.  The order of battle is based on the information in the chapter on the battle in "Lost Battles" by Phil Sabin.  This gives the Greeks 35,000 infantry and 2000 cavalry.   Of the infantry 31,000 are hoplites and the rest are light troops.  I still need to obtain enough hoplite figures to cover the missing 1500.   The figures in the photos are a mix of mostly 6mm Rapier and some Baccus.  The Rapier figures are mostly the Hypaspist figure and citizen infantry from their Carthage range.
 1888 hoplites only 96 more to go.
 Some of the Rapier figures had missing or miscast shields.  I found several images of hoplite shields online and used program called paintshop pro to reduce them.   This program allows the level of detail to remain the same by increasing the dots per inch when reducing an image.   So an image that has 90 dots per inch that is reduced to one-eighth of its original size would have 720 dots per inch.
 The shields were printed on heavy cardstock, cutout carefully with a pair of scissors and white glue was used to attach them to the painted figures.  There were about 80+ figures that needed shields replaced.
 Greek light cavalry
Greek heavy cavalry, light in the back.   The cavalry is mostly Baccus with some Rapier.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Comparison of Baccus and Rapier Phalangites part 2

I had previously posted a comparison of Baccus' and Rapier's phalangites at http://18clovehamhock.blogspot.com/2017/03/comparison-of-baccus-and-rapier.html
Since then I have received a package of Baccus's current phalangite.  The following two photos show a full strip of Baccus' phalangites with the cast pike, a strip of Rapier's phalangites (painted), and a pair of modified Baccus' phalangites.  As can be seen the shield on the Baccus' phalangites is the correct size.

Polybius, who lived from about 200 B.C. to the late part of the second century B.C.  was very familiar with the Macedonian phalanx and the Roman Legions of his time and wrote the following description of the Macedonian phalanx:
"Many considerations may easily convince us that, if only the phalanx has its proper formation and strength, nothing can resist it face to face or withstand its charge. For as a man in close order of battle occupies a space of three feet; and as the length of the sarissae is sixteen cubits according to the original design, which has been reduced in practice to fourteen; and as of these fourteen four must be deducted, to allow for the distance between the two hands holding it, and to balance the weight in front; it follows clearly that each hoplite will have ten cubits of his sarissae projecting beyond his body, when he lowers it with both hands, as he advances against the enemy: hence, too, though the men of the second, third, and fourth rank will have their sarissae projecting farther beyond the front rank than the men of the fifth, yet even these last will have two cubits of their sarissae beyond the front rank; if only the phalanx is properly formed and the men close up properly both flank and rear, like the description in Homer1— “"So buckler pressed on buckler; helm on helm;
And man on man: and waving horse-hair plumes
In polished head-piece mingled, as they swayed
In order: in such serried rank they stood."
” And if my description is true and exact, it is clear that in front of each man of the front rank there will be five sarissae projecting to distances varying by a descending scale of two cubits." Polybius, Book 18, chapter 29.

so how do the miniatures compare to Polybius' description?

Both have sarissae that measure 16 cubits (24 feet).  Rapier's sarrisae project out 10 cubits (15 feet) as described by Polybius for the 14 cubit (21 feet) sarissae so there is an excess length behind the left hand.   Baccus' figures are holding the sarissae at the base which does not match Polybius's description of how the sarissae were held.

I decided to see if it was possible to modify Baccus' figures to match Rapier's by trimming 10mm from the front of the sarissae and gluing it behind the right hands of the figures.   The front figure was easy, but the second took extra time to secure the cut off part.  Because Baccus' figures have their hands closer together there is more of the sarissae behind their right hands.  The Baccus' figures can now form the front two ranks of a phalanx with the Rapier figures.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Rule Sets Game Scales

There ae literally hundreds of rule sets for ancients and these are only a few of them.   They cover those rules that have been used for tournament play and some of the others that have been popular.  There are others that have been popular, but are no longer available.   while I have quite a  few others in my library, many of those are out of print and almost impossible to find.   The following is only intended as a rough guide to what is available or might be found.

The following table is for a comparison of unit sizes in various rule sets only.   Many of the rules have been reviewed on other sites and those reviews should be read for details on game play.  Bow range is in millimeters except for "Command and Colors' and "To the Strongest".  In some cases this has been adjusted for 40mm wide bases.  The numbers under single base and unit are the number of infantry men in close order for a single 40mm wide base and for a unit 8 ranks deep.   For “Hail Caesar”,  Tactica, and Wargames Research Group the single base number is actually for a single figure.  A “V” indicates that units can vary in size.  Bow range has been used to try and determine what a unit would represent.   As can be seen bow range varies from set to set, with the longer ranges usually being used for earlier rule sets.  For those who want to fight larger battles the rules with bow ranges of 120mm to 180mm allow for larger armies to be fielded on an average table.   Raphia which is one of the larger recorded battles would fit on a playing area about 4.5m (15 feet) with those ranges.   Wider areas would be needed for the rules with longer ranges unless the battle was scaled down.

Rule Set
Bow Range
Single Base
Ancient and Medieval Warfare
Broadsword Ancients Scutarii
500 or 250
Command and Colors Ancients
2 hexes
De  Bellis Multitudinis (DBM)
De Belis Magistorum Militum
Field of Glory
Hail Caesar
L'ART DE La Guerre
Might of Arms
Mortem Et Glorium
Sword and Spear
To The Strongest
2 zones
Wargames Research Group IV edition
Warmaster Ancients

      1.        Except for Elephants, Artillery, and Chariots all units are four bases

2.       The unit strength is for the recommended size.  There are two other unit sizes in the rules.  one with fewer bases and the other with more.

3.       A unit may have one or two bases depending on the number of figures available.  Figures may also be mounted on larger bases for formations like phalangites and warbands.

4.       This is actually a board game that can be played with miniatures.   Bows have a range of two hexes and the point that firing is measured from has a bearing on unit sizes.   If the range is measured from the center of one hex to the center of the one two hexes away then a single base (block) could be 250 men and an infantry unit would be about 1000 men.  If measured from the front edge of the hex to the front edge of the target hex then the number of men would double to 2000.

5.       This is for the third edition.   The earlier edition had a greater ground scale and a greater number of men per unit.  While the basic rules only allow 12 units per army there are variations that allow 24, 36 or more per army.

6.       DBM and its successor DBMM.   These are the big battle versions of DBA, allowing many more units per army and using a point system to determine the composition.   Units are actually single bases representing troops four ranks deep, but can be placed one behind the other for combat.

7.       FOG.  At one point this was a point this was a popular rule set for tournament play.   Units can vary in size from 2 to 12 bases and must be in even multiples except for some of the formations in the Later Imperial Roman lists.

8.       Hail Caesar is intended for 28mm figures, but can be played with smaller figures by replacing the inches in the rules with centimeters.   I have seen some 6mm armies with 80mm wide units compared to the 200mm wide standard units of the rules for 25/28mm figures.   The rules actually have four unit sizes with standard units being about 200mm wide (though this can be less), large units, small units, and tiny units.  The figure ratio of 1:50 is based on 20 figures for a standard sized unit.  For this table the standard unit width is 80mm.

9.       Impetus uses larger bases than most of the other rules.   120mm is the recommended base size in the rules.   The rules also recommend doubling the distances for 28mm figures.

10.   Also known as ADLG or LADLG this rule set has become what may be the most popular tournament set.

11.   Legio.  This is actually three different sets of rules.   The bow ranges were taken from Legio Macedonia and doubled for figures on 40mm bases   The rules are designed specifically for 6mm figures on 20mm wide bases.   The bow range is only about half that of other rule sets at 100 paces.  Others range from 240 paces to 300 paces.  Units can be up to 12 bases.

12.   These use a figure ratio of 1:50.   Unit sizes can vary.

13.   Another rule set with varying numbers of bases per unit.

14.   Units are two bases wide.  The rules are intended for armies of about 15 units, but also include rules for larger armies. 

15.  Rules as written are for 28m figures on 40mm square bases with up to 12 bases per unit.  6 to 10 units per 1000 point game.  Another option for 15/18mm might be to halve the ranges and number of bases per unit.

16.   First edition of the rules.   There is a second edition in the works.   Units of varying numbers of figures.   Similar in scale to the earlier Wargames Research Group rules.

17.   Uses square zones for movement.   Rules recommend 150mm wide zones, but these can vary in size depending on player preferences.   Again there is the question of where missile fire is actually measured from.   This is further complicated by firing arcs which include adjacent squares and can increase the firing range by up to 40% in actual distance measured, though not in the number of zones.  The rules also allow for different zone sizes depending on the players preference.  The author also uses large bases similar to those used for Impetus.  See note 4 above for the effect on unit sizes which would probably be the same as those listed there.  The author does state that he uses two different scales where each unit would represent a cohort (500m3n) or two cohorts for larger battles.  Based on a unit being equal to the frontage of a square and being considered a single base, each unit represents about 800- 1000 men or for convenience 1000 men.

18.   WRG.  At one time WRG rules were almost the only rules used for tournament play.   Their base sizes were adopted by almost all other rule sets.   The rules went through seven different editions before Phil Barker went to the DBX series of rules (see notes 5 and 6 above).  The rules were originally intended for 25mm figures on 60mm bases and the range above is for the 40mm base for 15mm and smaller figures.  Units could have up to 50 figures.

19.   Adapted from the fantasy rules.   Units are three bases wide.  Certain troop types are mounted on 20mm wide by 40mm deep instead of the 40mm wide by 20mm deep of most.  Out of print, but still used. 

There are a number of historical battles on this blog including Pharsalus, Hydaspes, Raphia, Asculum and Bibracte.   Clicking on the Scutarii label will include them amongst all the blog posts for that label.